Friday, August 15, 2014

Bitch Slap: A Day in the Life of Big Boy Brandi

Bitch Slap: A Day in the Life of Big Boy Brandi

Excerpt 1 from Banging Hitler: the Big Boy Brandi story

He sets his alarm for four thirty AM, when he gets up, takes Viagra and goes back to bed.  He wakes up again at six, and services his morning wood while staring at the portrait of Hitler on his nightstand.  The he gets up and has a hearty breakfast of Monsanto cancer flakes washed down with coffee made from fracking fluid while watching video of starving children, whom he mocks by offering spoonfuls of Monsanto flakes to the teevee screen.  He’s been feeling pain in his stomach for weeks, and wonders if it might be the food or water, but he doesn’t worry.  The Republican health care system will take great care of him.
He’s just plain stupid, so he must have some menial job pushing a broom or changing tires.  He spends his day hating Obama for whatever Fox news lie of the day—birth certificate or Benghazi or whatever faux outrage Billo and Ailes have dreamed up.
At eleven he pops another Viagra, so he’s ready for his glorious lunch hour.  At noon he hurriedly wolfs down his Monsanto cancer sandwich with a bottle of Fracker beer, then rushes off to spend some precious alone time with his Hitler blow up doll, and hammers every hole with fascist thrusts from his unfortunately miniscule 9 mm penis (which does conveniently fit in the barrel of a glock) and which he calls the ‘love torpedo.’  While unleashing his furious love on the flopping body of the fuehrer he calls out names like “Newtie!  Mitchie!  Dick and Georgie!  Rummy!”  When he finally comes he screams, “Ronald Wilson Reagan!” as he jizzlobs Hitler a facial.
Then he returns to his broom and finishes his work day hating liberals for wrecking America with health care and education while longing for the glory days of war, wrecked economies and bank bailouts, and the most glorious thing of all in Big Boy Brandi's perverted world:  oil spills.  He daydreams of leading an armed conservative revolution.
At five o clock he hurries to his doctor appointment at the Mecklenburg Mental Health Center for his favorite time of day:  his fifteen minutes on the Zoloft drip.  He follows that by donning his American flag swimsuit for a dip in the nearby river, where he pisses and sharts the very flag he holds so sacred, because in truth he’s a sick fuck traitor.
He hauls his second amendment arsenal to the firing range and unloads a few hundred rounds into the paper targets of the Newtown babies.  Then he goes searching for non existent communist meetings to infiltrate, then taunts a few homeless people by using a fishing pole to dangle sandwiches and money in their faces and pulling them away.  He gets bored and heads home to his own rubber walled hovel, stopping off for a twelve pack of Bud, which he considers the red white and blue beer of patriots while unaware that Anheiser Busch was sold to a Belgian corporation several years ago.
He orders up a Monsanto cancer pizza to go with his twelve pack.  He’s partial to Papa John’s because he likes to say the name ‘Schnatter’ when he’s jerking with his his dildo collection.  If the Zoloft drip hit him hard, and he can’t concentrate, he watches videos of the Valdez oil spill or Auschwitz, or the Germans marching in Paris, or anything Hitler.  If the Zoloft drip doesn’t hit so strong, he spends a quiet evening lost in the pages of Mein Kampf.
Instead of Letterman he prefers a late night hour of video of oil soaked bird carcasses or starving children.  Then he visits a few websites--assfuckhitler.com naziporn.com, hatetheworld.com, and others--which are actual porn with Hitler’s mouth superimposed over every glory hole.  He unloads on the swastika painted on his bedroom floor, then he sets his Viagra tablet on the nightstand, sets his alarm for four thirty, and spends the next few hours dreaming he’s front row center at Hitler speeches.

4/20 Right Wing Style

4/20 Right Wing Style
Excerpt 2 from Banging Hitler: the Kristurd Carlson story.
For Kristurd and his nazi brothers, the most holy day of the year is April 20, Hitler’s Birthday.  They intensely resent the fact that liberal hippies have co opted that same date to celebrate marijuana, and use that to inflame the hatred that is sacred to that day.
He and his fellow neo nazi punk thug traitor friends Thomas, Ryan and Noway meet at a Holiday Inn in Oklahoma City on the eighteenth, and they spend the nineteenth—Hitler Eve, or Kristallnacht--commemorating the the Oklahoma City bombing and remembering the life of the great right wing prophet and martyr Tim McVeigh.  They spend the afternoon in the conference room replaying video of the news coverage of the event, while discussing far fetched plans for revolution, such as turning Vermont into a concentration camp by luring all the liberals there with free food and health care and other socialist horrors, then fencing them in and bombing it and dividing it between New York and New Hampshire.
They then get into a fleet of Mercury Grand Marquis, the car McVeigh drove, and drive overnight to Columbine, where they spend the holiest of days dressed in authentic nazi uniforms at the firing range, slaughtering paper targets of the Columbine and Newtown babies and a host of other peoples they’d like to introduce face to face to their second amendment rights.
After solemn visits to the pilgrimage sites of Harris and Kleboldt’s houses, and the sacred high school, they go on a miniature rampage through Columbine and the neighboring towns, trashing marijuana shops and torching their weed while bashing every hippie and liberal they can lay hands on.  Then after nightfall they go door to door singing the Hitler Eve carols, knocking on doors and forcing people at rifle point to listen to them sing.
On the first day of Hitler, my fuerher sent to me, an oven full of Jewish pizza.
On the second day of Hitler, my fuerher sent to me, world war two
On the third day of Hitler, my fuehrer sent to me, the third bloody reich
On the fourth day of Hitler, my fuehrer sent to me, four beaten queers,
On the fifth day of Hitler, my true love sent to me, five half dead jews
On the sixth day of Hitler, the fuehrer sent to me, six showers gassing
On the seventh day of Hitler, the fuehrer sent to me, seven fascists killing
On the eighth day of Hitler, the fuehrer sent to me, eight mounds of dying
On the ninth day of Hitler, my fuehrer sent to me, nine panzers tanking
On the tenth day of Hitler, my fuehrer sent to me, ten Purim hanging
On the eleventh day of Hitler, the fuehrer sent to me, eleven fuehrers fuehring
ON the twelfth day of Hitler, my fuehrer sent to me, twelve bombers bombing
They also sing their own rendition of America the Beautiful, in which they replace ‘America’ with ‘Swastika.’  "Oh Swastika, oh swastika...."
They return to the conference room of the Holiday inn in Columbine where they gorge on bratwurst and sauerkraut and heavy beer as the glorious bombing of London plays on the big screen. 
One of his buddies slipped Kristurd a roofie, and he is wasted when he goes to his room.  He slips into his nazi officer’s uniform,  grabs a baton, unrolls a map of America, and starts pointing to it with the baton and addressing imaginary people therein.  “You want to see a communist dictator?  I’ll show you a motherfucking communist dictator.  You there,” he screams.  “You now have no health insurance, and your food supply is unregulated, and your water contaminated by fracking fluids because capitalism rules!  That’s how it is, and when you develop cancer I order you to shut the fuck up take your Republican health care and go away and die peacefully!  And you there, get the fuck off your property now!  The cock sucking Koch brothers are coming through with their pipeline, and if you don’t get the fuck out of the way it’s going to run right up your ass.  If you do get out of the way they’re still going to ream your ass but that’s beside the point.  And you illegal little brats at the border.  Shut your yammering hungry mouths.  Go back to the violence you fled and learn to plead in English.  You want to be good little American children?  Here, I’ll show you how the fuck to be good little American children.”  Kristurd then pops in his dvd of news coverage of the Newtown massacre, then turns back to the map.  “You obscene little faggots, that’s how you be good little American children!  Now go back to your own country’s guns and take it like men!”
He gets himself so riled up he can’t sleep, but is soon comforted to discover that all the others are suffering the exact same insomnia.  In the middle of the night Kristurd knocks on Thomas’ door and whispers:  “Hey Tommy!  I brought the wig and dress!”
Thomas replies in the dark:  “I knew you did, but I brought a wig and dress too in case you forgot!”
They knock on Ryan and Craig’s doors, and they all convene in Kristurd’s room for a disturbing orgy where they take turns dressing as Eva Braun and Hitler so they can actually feel what it’s like to bang like Hitler.
CHEESEBURGERS IN KASHMIR
A Kristurd and Craig adventure
 Excerpt 3 from Banging Hitler: the Kristurd Carlson story
One day Kristurd learned that a little known uncle had died and left him ten thousand dollars.  “Why would anyone do anything nice for an asshole like me?” Kristurd asked himself.
He had never even had one tenth that sum to his name, so he set about determined to invest that money so he could hang up his brooms and retire.  He started dreaming of using his whopping ten large to make it big as a venture capitalist, and started snooping around for business opportunities.  One day while accidentally reading an article about India, he discovered there were more than a billion people there and very few McDonald’s franchises.  Then he learned that the cow is mysteriously held sacred in India, where they not only wander everywhere with impunity, but the people will risk breaking their necks to get out of the way of one. 
Kristurd immediately called Craig, who came over with two six packs of Merika chug a lug.  “Dude!” Kristurd said.  “This is brilliant!  There are twelve million people in Kashmir, and just a few McDonalds.  Plus nobody touches the cattle there.  We’ll just grab them off the streets at night, open our own slaughterhouse and get our cheeseburgers for free!  We’ll bank!”
“I love killing shit,” Craig said.  “I’ll be glad to kidnap ‘em and cut their heads off and chop them up and grill them onto buns.  It sounds fun.”
“It does sound fun,” Kristurd replied.  “I love killing shit too.  I’m going to do it!  Are you in?”
“I’m in!” Craig replied.
“Dude, can I make a suggestion?” Kristurd said.  “Could you wear a different color hoodie once in a while?” (Craig always wore a white hoodie.)  “How about grand dragon green?”
“Green?  What’s come over you?  You know I’m incapable of being the grand dragon, I’m no leader, I’m a natural born follower,” Craig said.  “You know I prefer to wear white anyway, to symbolize the virginal purity and superiority of the blessed Caucasian race, so aptly symbolized by the color white.”
“You are right, white is right,” Kristurd stupidly replied.
They enrolled together, and it took them each three tries to pass the McDonald’s College of Burger Technique final exam, and they were on their way to open Kristurd’s brand new restaurant  in Kashmir.
As they traveled Craig convinced Kristurd that they were entering Kashmir as representatives of the white race, and to carry themselves proudly.  And so they decided that they would wear ku Klux klan robes for uniforms while working at Kristurd’s Mcdonald’s. 
The Kashmirians looked at Kristurd and Craig strangely as they went round the streets randomly milking cows to make the cheese for their burgers, then Kristurd and Craig took great delight in poaching their first cow, which they slaughtered slowly, to really enjoy its exquisite death.  First they tied the cow down and waterboarded it and demanded to know if it was planning any terror attacks against Merika.  As the cow mooed ‘no’ underwater they pricked it all over with nails, to let blood.  After a few hours they shredded its head with a few 30 shot clips and an ak 47.  Then they ground it up and stored it at the restaurant and started making cheeseburgers.  But nobody came in, they made no rupees, and all they did was gorge themselves on cheeseburgers and coke all day.
After a few days of this Craig became desperate, and went into the street out front of Kristurd’s McDonalds, in his full kkk regalia, white hoodie and all, and started screaming at the passersby:  “Hey!  You towelheads, come and eat our cheeseburgers!  They’re delicious fucking cheeseburgers so come and get ‘em you communist brownies!”
He kept yelling at them that they were towelheads and to come eat his cheeseburgers.  Finally, one man stopped and confronted Kristurd and Craig after they challenged his towel head to buy a cheeseburger.
“What is wrong with you two idiots?” he said.  “Why do you call me a towel head?  You are towel heads.  Look at those ridiculous get ups.  My towel is comfortable wrapped around my head.  Yours is starched and pointed with two holes for eyes.  The streets of Kashmir can be dangerous, and when you block your peripheral vision anyone could take you out from the side or from behind, you moron towel heads!”
“I know you are but what am I?” Kristurd childishly replied through his hood.
“You’re the towel head, so shut the fuck up you towel head fuck, take a couple rupees out of your creaking, dusty cheapskate towel head fucking wallet and buy one of our delicious cheeseburgers you useless fucking towel head!” Craig ranted.
Kristurd was holding a fresh cheeseburger; he tore it in half and gave one piece to Craig, then they both scarfed their half cheeseburgers in one bite.
A huge crowd had formed to watch the scene, and Craig saw opportunity.  “We just need one towel head fuck to taste our delicious cheeseburgers and the rest of you towel head fucks will fall in line and form a line in our McDonald’s and make us rich while thanking us for bringing the cheeseburger to their lives.  Get your rupees out and step right up you towel head fucks!”
“I hope you imported your beef, you towel head idiots,” the same man said.
“No, it’s local.  Why?” Kristurd replied.
“Because you towel head morons are about to get very sick,” he explained.  He spoke something in the native language to the huge crowd that had formed, and they cheered wildly.  “The reason we hold cows sacred is not because we really consider them gods, it’s to discourage people from eating them, because they’re loaded with tapeworms.  I’d plan on taking those towels off your heads very shortly, you’ll be needing them to clean up.”
Kristurd and Craig’s faces turned grand dragon green, then two explosions rocked the streets of Kashmir as Kristurd and Craig’s asses violently erupted two fountains of heavy shart and tapewords, staining their pristine white robes a most ironic and unfortunate brown.
They were rushed to a socialist hospital for treatment.  As they lay in side by side beds with their bodies in continued upheaval, Craig said:  “I think I have a better idea than wasting our time with these towel head fucks.  Last week my sister dragged me to a vegetarian market.  There were tons and tons of people there but no hot dog carts….

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Perfect Date

The Perfect Date
Pussypants and Craig are an amazing pair.  They puff their chests out and stand mighty, tall and proud as they deliver vehement, impassioned defenses of the constitutional rights of gun owners, but throw around a few words around and they cower and whimper like babes.  Since I started penning these little adventures each in his own way has begged me to curtail or alter how I exercise my constitutional right of free speech.  Pussypants thinks people who enjoy my silly tales of his years as Hitler’s catamite run the risk of the government sending DCF to your house.  And Craig specifically asked that I not use this innocuous combination of letters—C-R-A-I-G-N-O-L-A-N—for the name of a character in one of my whack a moron short stories.  Because I found that request to be so outrageous, and because Craig belies ignorance of the most basic human psychology—tell someone not to do something if that’s the first thing you want them to do—I have decided to focus on introducing Craig to a few 30 bullet clips of free speech.  Pussypants is going to ride the pine and let Nolan shine.
When Craig was a teenager he began dreaming of and yearning for his ideal woman.  She had to be hot, of course, and someone who was also self confident, but someone who could also be submissive; someone who was capable of womanly tenderness while wearing camouflage lingerie.  He wanted her to be on the same wavelength, and so began searching for a racist xenophobe who loved guns and shared his conservative lack of values.  He quickly realized there weren’t very many women in the world that embodied all those aspects, but he held out hope that one of the few would eventually find her way to his arms.
He searched high and low for years at KKK and political rallies, at lynchings and at gun shows and monster truck shows; at country music concerts and redneck Olympics.  He went on a few dates, but they usually ended up beating the shit out of him.  As the years passed and he whiled away alone, he relaxed his standards, and had reached a point where he was ‘teeth optional’ when he decided to try online dating.  He created profiles on several websites and started searching for women online.  That too was disillusioning, as he discovered many women were using very old pictures, or hiding their ugly selves behind pictures of other women, and that some women he chatted with would lie and say only what they thought he wanted to hear.  After several fruitless months of searching online he started to give up on that idea too when one day he received a message from Delilah.  She wrote:  I’ve been checking out your profile for awhile.  We seem like a match.  If you like what you see, hit me up.  D.
She was by no means a prize beauty, but she was acceptable to his eyes, and he started chatting with her.  They hit it off immediately, and within days were online together 24/7 exchanging tweets, and instagrams, and chatting and snap chatting, and emailing and facebooking and skyping and texting and talking on the phone.  Other than the distance between their two computers, they were inseparable.  They told each other everything, and knew each other intimately, and the ‘I love yous’ started flying both ways.  They did everything together online, from watching movies to cleaning their guns.  Craig even researched the name Delilah, read the story of her and Samson, the strong man of the Bible, and he started washing down creatine and HGH with muscle milk and got himself roided out and ripped.
Craig had talked to Kristurd and all their friends about Delilah, and they all warned him to keep his heart at a distance until he met her in person.  He insisted that it was real, that not only were they video chatting on skype all the time, which she could not fake, but that he had shown her his pride and joy and she had shown him her titties and cooch.  There was no faking and no mistaking what he had seen. 
While Delilah had clearly pursued Craig, she also put him off, saying that she was still getting over a bad break up and wasn’t ready for anyone new yet.  But after several months of working himself into a sexually frustrated frenzy, and irrationally out of his mind in love and on steroids, he finally decided to force the issue.  There was a re enactment of the Nazi invasion of Poland near Hartford the upcoming Saturday, so earlier that week, while chatting on skype, he suggested they finally meet that coming Friday night, and if they hit it off, which he knew they would, they could participate in the re enactment together.
She agreed and they met for drinks in downtown Hartford.  It could not have gone any better.  The chemistry was instantaneous on every level, physical, emotional and spiritual, and before they knew it they had talked the night away the clubs and bars had closed and they were in hotel a room.
Craig flexed like Samson as Delilah turned off the light and started kissing him.  He declared his love and unbuttoned the top of her blouse and started caressing her breasts.  Then he reached lower and she stopped him with one hand while laying a finger across his lips and whispering:  “Shh…  I pursued you, and this night is about you, babe.  The most satisfying thing for me is being here with you, so if you really want to satisfy me, the way to do so is to lay back and let me satisfy you.  I am an oral authority.”  Delilah proceed to swallow Craig’s pride, and it wasn’t long before he screamed:  “This is the greatest night of my life!”
In the morning Craig awoke with Delilah snuggled in his arms.  As the early light crept through the window and fell across them, he looked down and saw her lipstick smeared randomly around her mouth.  Then he looked closely, and thought he noticed beard shadow sticking through.  He touched her chin and it was bristly.   He woke her up and demanded: “Who are you really?”
She sighed with resignation, then peeled off her wig and replied:  “It’s me, babe.  Kristurd.”
“Kristurd!” he replied. “You’re Delilah?”
“Please, baby, please don’t blow me off now that you know who I really am.  At least let me explain first.”
“You can explain,” Craig said.  “You can start by explaining how you fooled me on skype.  I saw you naked!”
“I’m a pre op tranny.  The breasts are implants.  I faked the cooch by simply tucking my cock and balls between my legs.  They actually fit pretty naturally after all the years of fucking myself.  Baby, I’ve always loved you, and I can give you everything you want in a woman.  How do you think I knew everything you liked?  Because that’s how well I know you.  We are already two peas in a pod, there only remains to take it to the next level.  Not only do we hate all the same things—liberals and foreigners and children, and especially those brats sneaking across the border—but we love the same things too—guns, the kkk and Hitler.  We’re made for each other.  I go in for my final surgery in a couple weeks, and Pussypants will be more than just a nickname.  I will be Pussypants for real, and those pussypants will be yours to wear all night every night as long as we’re together if you decide to stay with me.”
“Silly, I knew it all along,” Craig confessed.  “Let’s go troll poles in the shower then get dressed in our nazi officer uniforms and go invade Poland.”
“You’re so understanding,” Pussypants replied, “that’s why I love you.”
“I call Rommel!” Craig blurted.
“Damn!” Pussypants exclaimed.  “I wanted to be Rommel!”
The Perfect Date
Another Kristurd and Craig adventure.
Excerpt number 4 from Banging Hitler

So I lied.  Pussypants rode more than just the pine….

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bitch Slap: A Day in the Life of Big Boy Brandi

Bitch Slap: A Day in the Life of Big Boy Brandi

Excerpt 1 from Banging Hitler: the Big Boy Brandi story

He sets his alarm for four thirty AM, when he gets up, takes Viagra and goes back to bed.  He wakes up again at six, and services his morning wood while staring at the portrait of Hitler on his nightstand.  The he gets up and has a hearty breakfast of Monsanto cancer flakes washed down with coffee made from fracking fluid while watching video of starving children, whom he mocks by offering spoonfuls of Monsanto flakes to the teevee screen.  He’s been feeling pain in his stomach for weeks, and wonders if it might be the food or water, but he doesn’t worry.  The Republican health care system will take great care of him.
He’s just plain stupid, so he must have some menial job pushing a broom or changing tires.  He spends his day hating Obama for whatever Fox news lie of the day—birth certificate or Benghazi or whatever faux outrage Billo and Ailes have dreamed up.
At eleven he pops another Viagra, so he’s ready for his glorious lunch hour.  At noon he hurriedly wolfs down his Monsanto cancer sandwich with a bottle of Fracker beer, then rushes off to spend some precious alone time with his Hitler blow up doll, and hammers every hole with fascist thrusts from his unfortunately miniscule 9 mm penis (which does conveniently fit in the barrel of a glock) and which he calls the ‘love torpedo.’  While unleashing his furious love on the flopping body of the fuehrer he calls out names like “Newtie!  Mitchie!  Dick and Georgie!  Rummy!”  When he finally comes he screams, “Ronald Wilson Reagan!” as he jizzlobs Hitler a facial.
Then he returns to his broom and finishes his work day hating liberals for wrecking America with health care and education while longing for the glory days of war, wrecked economies and bank bailouts, and the most glorious thing of all in Big Boy Brandi's perverted world:  oil spills.  He daydreams of leading an armed conservative revolution.
At five o clock he hurries to his doctor appointment at the Mecklenburg Mental Health Center for his favorite time of day:  his fifteen minutes on the Zoloft drip.  He follows that by donning his American flag swimsuit for a dip in the nearby Connecticut river, where he pisses and sharts the very flag he holds so sacred, because in truth he’s a sick fuck traitor.
He hauls his second amendment arsenal to the firing range and unloads a few hundred rounds into the paper targets of the Newtown babies.  Then he goes searching for non existent communist meetings to infiltrate, then taunts a few homeless people by using a fishing pole to dangle sandwiches and money in their faces and pulling them away.  He gets bored and heads home to his own rubber walled hovel, stopping off for a twelve pack of Bud, which he considers the red white and blue beer of patriots while unaware that Anheiser Busch was sold to a Belgian corporation several years ago.
He orders up a Monsanto cancer pizza to go with his twelve pack.  He’s partial to Papa John’s because he likes to say the name ‘Schnatter’ when he’s jerking with his his dildo collection.  If the Zoloft drip hit him hard, and he can’t concentrate, he watches videos of the Valdez oil spill or Auschwitz, or the Germans marching in Paris, or anything Hitler.  If the Zoloft drip doesn’t hit so strong, he spends a quiet evening lost in the pages of Mein Kampf.
Instead of Letterman he prefers a late night hour of video of oil soaked bird carcasses or starving children.  Then he visits a few websites--assfuckhitler.com naziporn.com, hatetheworld.com, and others--which are actual porn with Hitler’s mouth superimposed over every glory hole.  He unloads on the swastika painted on his bedroom floor, then he sets his Viagra tablet on the nightstand, sets his alarm for four thirty, and spends the next few hours dreaming he’s front row center at Hitler speeches.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Several months ago on facebook I shared a graphic of a picture and quote of Bill Maher, who in speaking of Syrian President Assad, said:  “Using harmful chemical weapons to hurt your own people?  Who does this guy think he is, Monsanto?”   
Dan commented.  Dan and I had been friends for thirty years, but it was only in the last few that I learned both that he was politically arch conservative, and considers himself Christian.
Dan wrote:  “Bob.  You posted a link of Bill Maher re. Republicans.  He shares your political views, sure.  That’s alright.  But you must know by now he’s a tirelessly outspoken atheist who thinks people who believe in God, especially Christians, are hypocrites and idiots.  That includes me and you brother.  There are so many links, quotes and videos I could post to back me up it’s a joke.  So I won’t.”
I replied:  “Seriously, Dan?  Should I shun Bill Maher because he’s an atheist?”
Dan responded:  “No, shun him for calling you an idiot.  I have atheist friends.  Woody was an atheist.  But he never thought I was a hypocrite, or stupid for being a Christian.”
The next day Dan posted a link to Michael Savage’s anti Obama vitriol, the hypocrisy was too stark for me to stand, and I decided to unfriend Dan, which I did by posting the following comment to him on facebook.
“It has been an amazing thing to watch an entire circle of college friends all lose their minds over thirty years.  Mary Ellen is insane—unless you consider bringing a rabbit named Woody to Woody’s funeral to be perfectly normal.  Zak lost his mind when he gave it to Mary Ellen when he willingly submitted himself to the underside of her thumb.  Woody lost his mind and it cost him his life.  Shaumyan has lost his mind, and is now an incoherent drunk who has aligned himself with the very wicked men and women he used to call out for being bastards, and is still writing his pathetic ‘fuck the world’ poems at a third grade reading level.  And alas you too Dan—you now dwell in a muddled parallel universe where Jesus Christ is a money worshipping, earth raping, warmongering, machine gun toting, child abusing homophobic racist hypocrite who hates the poor and serves the rich.
If I thought you were a Christian I would rejoice.  Instead I am deleting you from my friends list.  I still hope you someday come into the light, but I find some of what you publish on facebook to be offensive filth, and your perversion of Christianity to be misguided and blind.”
That was several months ago.  Last week I received this email from Dan.
Hello Bob,
Lately in church, one of Jesus’ teachings kept coming up, the one about leaving your gift at the altar, “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” It’s of course, about forgiveness, in this case, me forgiving you, and perhaps more significantly, you forgiving me. You kept entering my mind when this was addressed during service.
We disagree politically. Had we approached it differently, we might’ve actually found common ground. But I believe we at least agree on an even more important topic, which is why I’m writing this.
Of course, you can either accept my apology for what I’ve said or not. But I had to at least broach the topic with you, because the Lord says we must.
Hope all is well.
Kind regards,
-Dan
I decided to turn my response into this blog post.
Dan,
Just the fact that you write to me expecting a response can be regarded as arrogance, as there were two occasions in the past couple years where I wrote lengthy answers/responses to your comments/question that you not only did not answer, you did not even bother to acknowledge that I had taken the time to write them.
You’ve forgiven me?  Pray tell for what?  For the sin of speaking the truth?  I have done you no wrong.  While you’re standing at the altar offering heartfelt forgiveness to someone who’s done you no wrong, I think this would be the more appropriate scripture to contemplate, if you want do what the Lord says we must.
But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.  But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.  Matthew 12:6-7.
God will have mercy, not sacrifice.  He wants your heart, not your hard cash.  You can’t bribe your way into heaven with tithes.
The concept of mercy not sacrifice must be really important, because it appears throughout the Old Testament and Jesus referred to it repeatedly.
Here it is in Hosea:  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
And I just read it again this morning here in Psalm 50:16-17:  For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it:  thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Jesus said, if you love me, keep my commandments, which he summed up by saying above all love God and thy neighbor as thyself.
My politics stem directly from Jesus, the most liberal man who ever lived.  He overthrew the establishment while healing and feeding everyone who came to him, and brought light to the world before laying down his life for his friends in it.  That is LIBERALITY, and I accordingly vote for the rulers that will most liberally legislate to create ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ as Christ demonstrated during his stay here, and to write law that loves my neighbor as myself with particular respect to the disadvantaged--the elderly, the widows, our children, the poor and the sojourners; the politician who would show mercy by lifting me up if I were in unfortunate straits.  Such leaders are the liberals.  You detest them.
In demonstrating ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ Christ also taught his disciples socialism.
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul:  neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need
.  Acts 4:32-35
That is socialism, Dan, which you also despise.  How can you despise what you hope to attain?
Jesus also said that he who is not against us is with us.   You, Dan, are against us.  Your heart is with the enemy, who is the Devil.  Is Jesus good or evil?  Then why do you vote for leaders whose works are nothing but evil? To quote scripture: an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit.  Truly Christian politicians would make certain all impoverished children are fed.  The politicians you vote for rip that food out of the mouths of babes and give it to BIG BANKS and OIL COMPANIES.  That is evil.  Truly Christian politicians would create a universal health care system that covers EVERYONE.  The politicians you empower with your vote would take away health care from as many poor people as possible.  How is that Christian?  How is that loving thy neighbor as thyself?  That is evil.
Thanks directly to Obamacare I now have health insurance for the first time in my life.  If you’d had your way in the last election that would have been ripped from me and I would be back in the position of having to give up my home to an insurance company or a hospital were I to become catastrophically ill.  If you tell me I’d be better off that way and that you love me like a Christian brother you are nuts.
And have you seen the latest right wing persecution of the poor—criminalizing homelessness?  It’s been happening in recent years in local republican legislatures across America.  Read some of the stories here and explain to me how it is Christian to vote for these sons and daughters of the Devil.  It’s pernicious malice, utterly heartless evil—and these are the lawmakers YOU choose to rule over your neighbors.  Since we know that blessed are the poor, and theirs is the kingdom of heaven, how can you persecute the children of God in the name of Christ?  You cannot, that is a kingdom divided, which cannot stand.
You, Dan, are the perfect example of the person Christ describes here:  Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  Matthew 15:8-9
And who but the phony Christians, wolves in sheepskin whose lying lips speak righteousness while their hearts are full of hate, is Christ talking about here?  Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful things?
And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you.  Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
  Matthew 7:21-23
As to forgiveness, why do you seek mine?  I really don’t understand.  For being what I perceive to be a phony Christian?   You have to account for your cold-hearted disregard, neglect and contempt for some of your neighbors to the Lord, not me.  And if you really think that Jesus Christ just coincidentally shares political views with Rush Limbaugh, Ted Nugent, Dick Cheney, Glen Beck, the Bush family crime syndicate, Ronald Reagan, the NRA and Wall Street, then you are crazy and there is no sin in my saying so.  
As to any reconciliation, what do you suggest?  I refuse to have your hypocritical antichrist right wing rubbish infesting my facebook feed.  It seems to me that if your heart were truly reconciled with Christ then we would already be on the same page and not having this discussion.  That is the reconciliation I would suggest you pursue.
Next time you’re standing at the altar with your precious gift (that you now know the Lord does not desire in the first place), you might want to write this scripture in your palm and read and ponder it in your heart while standing there, for it is you.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith:  these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.  Matthew 23:23

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Masters of Marston

THE MASTERS OF MARSTON

A Novel

by Robert Charest

Timothy Stoles is a young man who has spent his entire life in the fictional New England town of Marston.  Shortly after his father dies he responds to an ad in the paper and takes a job in town that lands him in the midst of a battle over historic district zoning regulations and technicalities of law.  As hard egos and old ways clash with the new, and a mysterious woodsman and his two young daughters appear on the scene, Timothy matures into manhood.  Scroll below the table of contents to read the first two chapters.   

Table of Contents

1)                  The Stage
2)                  The Tanner Family
3)                  Diller and Voller
4)                  In Response
5)                  All Told in the Painting
6)                  On Dealing With Debauchery
7)                  At Home
8)                  At Work
9)                  A Meeting
10)              The Autumn
11)              The Fall
12)              Callers
13)              Bestowing Thanks
14)              A New Home
15)              A Tearful Goodbye
16)              Drawing Lines
17)              Unveiled
18)              The Spring Flowers
19)              Another Meeting
20)              A Short Discourse
21)              Unions
22)              Flight to Next
23)              Resolve, Recourse, Reaction, Result
24)              A House Ablaze
25)              An Abruptly Altered Course of Action
26)              From Good Hands to Good Hands

27)              Another Short Discourse

Chapter 1
The Stage

“Where do I go to see an igloo?”
If you were to take this question and pose it to an Eskimo, his answer (if he were polite and friendly) would be directions to his home.  If you were to put this question to a common citizen you would probably be advised to go to Alaska and ask the nearest Eskimo.  If, however, you had posed this question to a resident of Marston in the winter of concern here, the answer you received would have been quite different.
A walking tour through the center of the New England town would begin at the edge of Armfield, where you would be greeted by this sign:  “Welcome to Historic Marston.  Population 1109.  Proud of our fathers, and working to make them proud of us.”  Beyond this you would see deep thicket on the right hand side, and thick, majestic woods on the left.  Eventually the road meanders to a long slope which drops gently into the town.  The continues unbroken on the one side, but the thicket on the other has long since given way to lawn and landscape, where the tiny overlooking houses have stood for more than a century.  These structures have the hardy sturdiness of miniature mansions, and all the more warmth.  The hill gradually begins to level as it approaches the heart of town, and accordingly the woods on the left have given way to housing.  The road finally flattens with the land, and the stores and shops necessary to life in any small town begin to appear on both sides.
There are more houses, and more closely built, before you come upon the next significant road sign:  ‘Entering Marston’s Historic District.  1698-1825.’  From this point to the end of the historic district there are only houses, with the exception of one store, Tanner’s Grocery, and the Protestant church.  These colonial homes are more angular and interesting, with small gables, shuttered faces, strange windows and odd porches.  They are more generously lawned and spaced apart, and are finely groomed, with impeccably maintained gardens, shrubbery, hedges and trees.  In accordance with the Historic Commission’s regulations for the authentic preservation of antiquity, all of these houses are painted one of the three permissible colors, red, white or brown, and have no exterior improvements not in agreement with the era.  Many boast patriotic flags and ostentatiously displayed hand-painted plaques, which honor the builder and the year of construction, and which bear names such as Stoles, Mast and Tockerton.
These homes, and their protective historic district, end with the local green, which is located on the right hand side on the way out of town.  Behind the huge patch are the town hall and post office, both of which are still in their original buildings, erected respectively in 1771 and 1876.  The two structures have aged beautifully, and command reverence from the local resident and passerby alike.  There are several great spruce trees standing evenly across the green, a local veteran’s memorial at the far end, an immense flagpole in the middle, and a statue of Jacob Mast, a revolutionary war hero, at the near side.  He is mounted on his brass steed facing back at the historic district, directly at the house which he built in 1757.  However, a Mast has not lived there since the middle of the nineteenth century.
The town green ends with another sign:  ‘Leaving Marston’s Historic District.’  From here the dwellings are slightly shabbier, or rather, less important.  In their midst are the general store, a bank, a liquor store, the Catholic church, and finally the woods and thicket leading up the hill to North Amberton.
Marston’s residents have always maintained brimming pride regarding their town’s unique history and colonial heritage.  The town was officially settled in 1698 by the locally famous Four Founding Fathers.  The four men—Thomas Tanner, John Mast, Joshua Marks and Jonathan Stoles worked together taming the land, fending off Indians and building homes for themselves and their families.
As the legend goes, John Mast was a rugged young man of eighteen when he came upon the land in the seventeenth century, in the year which is locally celebrated as 1690.  He had been wandering alone in the woods for weeks when he happened upon a beautiful clearing near a bursting, crystal stream, and was so instantly enthralled that he decided to stop and rest for a day.  The day doubled, and then doubled again, and then became a week.  He had been journeying alone for many months since the winter, when he had lost his young wife to illness resulting from exposure.  He left the settlement where they had been living to travel south in search of a better place.  All the spring and summer he survived by fetching wild berries, fruits, vegetables and small game.  He lived well, and was able to avoid his few brushes with Indians and strangers by ducking behind trees, but there seemed to be no escape from the haunting memory of his frail and delicate wife.  He needed to find a place of solace and solitude that he could claim for himself and pass the period of his mourning, however long that might be.  The huge clearing by the stream appeared to be the perfectly suited spot.
After only a week’s repose his decision was made.  The comfortable clime and abundance of foods and fresh water had settled his mind.  He would stay for as many months and years needed to lessen his grip on the memory of his dear departed Constance.
The conclusion of that summer was tranquil, and the autumn spectacular, but the winter fell harsher than he had hoped.  Still the spring dawned freshly, and he knew he was where he belonged.  He remained there all of that year, through the winter, through the spring and into the following summer.  The memory of his beloved had only slightly diminished, but that would come with time, and like the place where he was, he saw no reason to go elsewhere.  He had been forced to kill one Indian, but who settling the new territory hadn’t?  That was nothing he could escape by changing his location.
One morning he awoke to the sight of a man foraging through his hidden store of nuts.  He stealthily crawled over, jumped on the man, and wrested him to the ground.  “That’s my food!” he growled, thinking he was atop an Indian.  The mumbling man struggled beneath him, and Mast, who was still groggy, noticed that the skin of the man’s neck was white.  He let him up, and found himself facing a short, ragged man of frail build and mussed appearance.  The stranger could have been twice John’s age.
“I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!” the little man exclaimed hastily, stepping back from Mast.
“What are you doing in my nuts?” John demanded.
“I didn’t know they were yours.  Honestly,” the man replied nervously.  He had telltale crumbs at both corners of his mouth.  “I just ate a few.  I haven’t eaten in days, and I’m starved.”
“Well, they are my nuts,” Mast said.
“Then I won’t eat them,” the man answered.  He finally noticed the actual trees whence they had come.  “But you couldn’t object to my picking a few of my own, could you?”  Mast motioned with his head that it would be all right.  “May I?” the man inquired, pointing to the stream.  John nodded, while lowering his guard, and the man hurried to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping handfuls of water into his mouth.  When he was finished he went and stood again before Mast, saying:  “That was plenty good of both you and the stream.”
The two fell into conversation, introduced themselves as John Mast and Jonathan Stoles, and over a breakfast of nuts and fresh raspberries struck up as friends and partners.  Stoles, according to himself, had been traveling with a large party who had arrived from England in the spring.  He was one of the more accurate men with a rifle, and was often sent away from the path to do the hunting.  These short excursions into the wilderness were usually successful and eventless, until one day he accidentally stumbled upon a camp of three Indians.  Their eyes were cold holes without souls, he said, and fearing for his hair, he fled.  There were two younger ones and an elder, and he could hear all three sets of footsteps chasing after him.  There were two shots loaded into his rifle.  He thought he had a good lead on them, but they were still giving chase, so he turned quickly, fired, and watched one of the younger drop.  He continued running full sprint, and when he had another opportunity he turned and fired again, and watched as the other young Indian fell down dead.  He kept running, for what seemed hours and miles, with the elder’s footfalls keeping pace.  Eventually they faded away, but Jonathan continued jogging to insure that he was safe.  He was near the end of his strength when he haphazardly tumbled down a ravine and landed in a tangled mass of thorns.  He lost consciousness, and when he awoke, judging from his hunger, he surmised that many hours had passed.  His clothes and skin were torn and cut, and he knew immediately that his chances of finding his party were slim at best.  He nonetheless started wandering in search, and after several fruitless months he came upon Mister John Mast in his fine clearing.
“Well, why don’t you settle down here with me for a while?” John suggested.  “Two is always safer than one in these parts, and I could do with a little companionship.”
“I can’t say that I have anyone or anything better to go to,” Stoles replied, “and this seems to be just the kind of particular spot my party was looking for in the first place.”
They were immediately agreed, and the arrangement lasted for several years, during which time they built a sturdy cabin in which they lived compatibly and became good friends.
One summer morning, several years later, Stoles awoke one morning to find two men rummaging through their hidden supply of chestnuts, much the way Mast had found him.  “What are you doing?” Stoles demanded.  The strangers, who were white men, looked up, and were taken down together from behind by Mast, who had been doing some early morning fishing.
“What are you doing in our food?” he demanded.
Both men were of small yet robust builds, though one slightly smaller than the other, who responded by saying, “We didn’t know they belonged to anyone.  We thought some chipmunks had stored them up.  We were only eating them because we haven’t eaten in days.  We’ve been wandering and starving for weeks.”
Mast and Stoles inspected the strangers closely, then agreed that Mast should release them.  He did, and the two men explained that they had been roaming aimlessly since disembarking from their ship two months earlier, and were only looking for a good place to settle.  Introductions were made, and the four men—Mast, Stoles, Thomas Tanner and Joshua Marks—decided that they would share the clearing, and would work together to preserve and protect it.
This arrangement lasted for two years, during which time only two Indians needed to be confronted and killed, and a very few other minor problems required reckoning.  The four men quickly found that they complemented each other perfectly.  Mast had strong frontier instincts, and was given the task of providing fish and meats.  Marks was more in touch with the land, and was charged with the care and order of the vegetable gardens and berry patches.  Stoles was a master carpenter, and worked at constructing second cabin and a storage shed.  Tanner, whose organizational skills were phenomenal, did the cooking, the cleaning, and kept the food supplies in order.  Their lives were not easy, but they were as happy as they could possibly be.
One fine summer day, when the aforementioned two years had transpired, a beautiful woman happened to walk into their camp.  Being the first to see her, Marks rushed from his work to offer greetings, and quickly learned that she had recently become separated from her party, which consisted of her four brothers, one sister, and two female cousins.  Her parents had been killed in an Indian raid on their camp, and fearing that many more were nearby, they struck out together in search of a safer place.  Only the day before she had lost them by fluke in a storm.  She was invited to sup with the four men, who hadn’t seen a woman in years, and soon found them all vying desperately for her attention.  After only one day in their camp she fell for Mast, who had decided immediately upon seeing her that he was finally recovered from the loss of his young wife several years earlier.  Two days later the rest of her party stumbled into the clearing, with her sister and one cousin, who was much older, providing eventual companions for Tanner and Stoles.  Short weeks later Marks met his female companion when another party passed through, and the four couples went in four directions away from the stream.  They helped each other forge their own smaller plots of land, build their own cabins, and cultivate their own gardens.  The fledgling village had fourteen residents when they officially claimed the area, Marston, as their own in 1698.
They lived difficult but satisfying lives, and though none of the town’s founders nor their children were directly involved in the Revolutionary War, all had grandsons who participated in the conflict.  Abraham Marks was an inspiring drummer for the marching rebel forces.  Andrew Stoles and Joseph Tanner were brave foot soldiers for the New England army, and William Mast was their valiant general and leader.  None of these men were killed in battle, and all were able to return to Marston after Independence had been successfully declared and defended.
When the Revolution ended Marston settled quickly into being a quiet small town, and moved slowly out of the eighteenth, through the nineteenth, and into the twentieth century.  Between 1698 and the middle of the twentieth century the population grew only to 640, but only twenty years later it had nearly doubled, jumping to 1109.  The reason for the dramatic increase was a sudden influx of younger people—doctors, lawyers, businessmen and executives—who had moved to Marston to live and raise their families.  They appreciated the peaceful, rural aspects of the town, but they didn’t concern themselves with learning and understanding local history.  This became the source of an underlying tension between the longtime residents who re-enacted the battle of Marston every July fifteenth and who comprised the local fife and drum corps, and the people who were responsible for clearing acres and acres of woodland and who monthly flooded the town hall with applications for building permits.  These were also the people who had drawn sides over the issue of the Historic District.  The advocates of the district, many of whom lived within its boundaries, said that Marston should be a sort of museum for colonial relics, and should be given the same regard and consideration as a great work of art.  The opposition promptly called these people ‘colonial relics,’ and several town meetings escalated into vigorous shouting matches from which complete sentences could not be extracted.


Chapter 2
The Tanner Family

Green Hill Lane was one of Marston’s many plush back roads.  It was winding, narrow and flowed like a vein away from the heart of town into the verdant flesh.  There were only three homes along the two miles of the lane which were within the town’s limits.  All three were lovely and bright, but one outshone the other two with uncommon beauty and maintaining.  It was an historically accurate colonial home owned by the Tanner family. 
It was not the original house built by Thomas Tanner in the late seventeenth century.  The house that Thomas built was closer to town, at the end of Main Street.  Four generations of Tanners lived in that house until 1803, when twenty five year old Trenton Tanner sold the dwelling and set out to build a new home at the edge of a field in the woods away from town.
The house was set up off the road on a slope of lawn.  To say that the yard was a lawn is true, but it functioned more as a canvas, upon which was painted a most beautiful real life of shrubs and flowers.  The crushed gravel driveway, which ran along the edge of the field on the end of the property closer to town, was bordered by an ivy-laden split rail fence.  Around the base of each fence post there was a fat, bursting begonia, and thick pachysandra filled the space between.  At the corner formed by the driveway and the road there was a small lawn lamp hanging over the mailbox, which was oversized, and upon which the family name was imprinted in intricate and ostentatious characters.  The mailbox and lamp also provided two more posts beneath which obese begonias flourished.  The grass which bordered the road sported long, even rows of tulips in the spring, and was immaculately maintained during the other three seasons.
The far edge of the yard ended with a very defined line of woods, and was also the locale of the sole tree within the yard, a stout and reverend oak which appeared to have long ago escaped from the home of its nearby family—so near and so far!  In the spring and summer the Tanners often sat snugly beneath the many protective and comforting arms of this old wood friend.  There was also a thin stream which ran out of the woods, through the yard, under the driveway, down the field, trickling into its larger and more famous brother, the one along which the town was originally settled.
The house itself was a plain, weathered white two storey colonial, around which were plump shrubs trimmed perfectly flat and numerous varieties of flowers, and upon which were green shutters and a wooden plaque bearing, in the same ornate lettering as on the mailbox, the name Trenton Tanner with the year 1803 inscribed beneath it.  There was an open porch off the side of the house overlooking the field, with rose bushes tended up on two sides, and a bed of azaleas along the third.  The backyard was not more than a large patch of grass which ran up the hill and blended with more trees.
The indoor d├ęcor was both pragmatic and pleasing to the eye.  There were waxed hardwood floors and hand-carved trim in every room.  The furnishings were of colonial tradition, consisting of dozens of antique oil lamps, figurines, glasswares, ceramic planters, and various glass, brass and wooden candlestick holders.  There were plants hanging in every window, and many more on shelves throughout the house.
The three bedrooms had been occupied by various Tanners throughout the almost two centuries the house had been in existence; from Trenton, the original builder, to James, who rebuilt it in 1891 after it was burned to the ground by a stray bolt of lightning in an electrical storm.  In the present time of this book, the master bedroom was occupied by Irving Tanner and his wife Trudy.  He had lived in the house all of his life, which, if he were to reach the average expectancy for me, he was halfway through.  He was a gaunt man with thick, wiry black hair which stood straight up no more than half an inch from his scalp.  His smile was a rare one—not in its charm and appeal, but in the frequency of its appearance.  Being in his fifth two year term as Marston’s first selectman, and the owner of and butcher at Tanner’s Grocery, the family store which was established in 1901, Irving was one of the more prominent figures in the community.  Trudy was a rather dull looking woman with dark eyes, drawn cheeks, and noticeably dry skin.  She stood at just under five feet compared to her husband, who was an inch over six.  She was a devoted mother, and stood proudly beside her husband when in the eyes of the town.  For the duration of their marriage they had called each other by the simple moniker ‘Dear,’ but the pet name had long since lost the endearing quality in its ring, and was used solely as a convenient way to get the other’s attention.
In the next bedroom were their two children, Maxine and Martin.  She was nine and he seven.  They were obedient at home, adjusted at school, and sang duets together—though against their wills—in the Protestant church’s youth choir.  Their being forced the share a bedroom for all their lives had caused some strange, indefinable aspects to develop in their relationship as siblings.  The reason for this was that the third bedroom was occupied by their grandfather.  Henry Tanner dwelt in the room across the hall from his grandchildren’s, where it was generally thought in the family that he was living in his own world.  Slipping was the descriptive word most commonly used by Mrs. Tanner, and he had only been spared from a home for the elderly by Irving’s refusal to place him there.
Of a summer evening in the year here concerned, the five Tanners were found outdoors awaiting the sunset.  Irving and Trudy were seated at the ends of a small antique bench on the porch.  He was working on his book, THE COMPREHENSIVE HISTORY OF THE TANNER FAMILY, and she was staring out into the woods and sky, allowing her mind to meander.  Henry was struggling with a word puzzle in his hammock, which was attached to the porch; and Maxine and Martin were on the lawn beyond the azaleas with their toys.
They were a quiet family, and often sat for ten, twenty, and thirty minutes without anyone speaking.  In this instance it was Henry who broke the long silence.  “Seventeen across,” he said, for he was in the occasional habit of announcing clues aloud, in what he thought was a clever plea for help.  “An imaginary, fire-breathing she-monster.  Seven letters, and the first is a ‘C.’  We know it’s not a Trudy Tanner, because she’s real and has too many letters.  Ha, ha, ha, ha!  Just kidding, my dear!”
Irving shook his head without looking up, and Trudy replied:  “I don’t know Henry; why don’t you just fill in any letters.  That’s how you finish all your puzzles when you can’t fill in any more real words.”
There was no response to her comment, and the ensuing silence lasted for several minutes.  Maxine, who had left off with her toy to search the clover, finally disturbed the air with her pretty, well-trained voice, singing:  “I want to be a butterfly, I want to see the air.”
“Maxine!” Martin whined.
“Now children,” Trudy said, trailing off.
“But Mom,” Martin pleaded, “you know that if you don’t make her stop now she’ll sing all night.  It’s not like she’ll be in another room, or another house.  She’s on the bottom bunk, and I’ll have to stay up all night listening to her sing while she sleeps.”
“I want to be a fish so I can swim without a care,” she continued.
“Mom!”
“Quiet now,” Irving demanded, harsh and flatly.  “Maxine, you’re supposed to practice your singing in the morning.  Martin, leave your sister alone.”
Trudy looked at her husband, the children at their father, and Henry out into the twilight.  Slowly they each returned to what they had been doing, and there was another long period of quiet.
“Isn’t the sunset lovely?” Trudy said with a sigh, staring into the tree-filtered vermilion.  No one responded, for they had seen the same view and heard the same remark one hundred times before.  “Dear,” she continued, “I know I’ve said it before, but I can’t help but to keep thinking that we really need that extra bedroom, now more than ever.  The children have already spent half of their youths confined together.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to grow up in the same bedroom as my brother.  At least now there’s still time for them to live normally during their adolescent years.  I know we’ve discussed it over and over time and again, but we need to seriously consider either building an addition to the house, or placing your father in a home for the elderly.”
All of this was spoken casually, in normal conversational volume, and within several feet of her father-in-law.  Whether Henry had lost his hearing to the years or his mind had permanently drifted out of earshot was not certain knowledge to his family, but they had long known that they were able to speak frankly about him in his presence, and especially when he was concentrating on an activity such as the word puzzle.
“We’ve run through this too many times already, dear,” Irving replied.  “He is my father, and Tanners do not unburden themselves of ailing parents until the Lord deems.  I don’t expect Maxine and Martin to do it to us, and we’re not going to do it to him.”
Yes, dear, I understand that only too well, but you seem to refuse to acknowledge that I am being severely imposed upon nearly every moment of my life.”  She glanced at her husband on the word ‘acknowledge,’ but he did not look up, nor did his pen break its stride across the page, and she stared back out at the remaining embers of the sunset.  “I’m the one who has to stay with him all day,” she continued.  “You and the children are at work and school while he and I are stuck here at the house.  You don’t make his breakfast, I do.  You don’t cook his lunch, I do.  You don’t clean up after him, I do.  He may be the only one in this family who’s loopy now, but I can tell you that I feel like I’m well on my way, although if Maxine and Martin are stuck together in that room for many more years, your father and I will have company, and you alone will have to take care of all of us.”  Irving seemingly failed to recognize that she had spoken, and she, frustrated, paused to muster her courage, then finished the monologue with one blurted phrase.  “I think I wish he would go ahead and die already.”
Henry appeared to remain unaware, and continued working on his puzzle with the same inexplicable grin on his face.  Irving, however, leered at his wife and snapped:  “How dare you!”
“I didn’t really mean it,” she replied, sighing heavily again.  “I just said it to get your attention.  You spend so much time lost in the history of your dead relatives that you neglect those of us who are still alive.”
“All of my family is very important to me,” he said, “living and dead.  He’s my father, and he has lived his entire life in this house.  I can’t just go move him into a home and let him live like an animal in a zoo until he finally dies.  He’s too proud to face death like that, and I’m too proud to let him.”
She exhaled loudly and looked off into the night.  Irving gave her a long stare before returning to his manuscript.
Momentarily there was a loud thump, followed by another.  It was the two cats, Lady and Ma’am, who had jumped through the empty window space in the kitchen storm door.  Lady was black and long-haired with one large spot on each of her rear paws.  She was the older of the two.  Ma’am was a plain gray tabby and a male, but Maxine had insisted on naming him Ma’am to maintain the consistency established with Lady.
They stood side by side, slowly scrutinizing their keepers.  Finally Lady strode beneath the bench where Irving and Trudy were seated, and came to a stop under Henry’s hammock.  She looked around for a moment, fell to cleaning herself, and then suddenly a hand shot down and gently hoisted her into the air.
“You are nothing but a quadrupedal torso with a furry tail and a hairy head!”  She was in Henry’s outstretched grasp, listening to his address while looking down at him from three feet above his face.
“You see?  Do you see what I live with?” Trudy exclaimed softly.  “All day long those poor cats are stretched into hairbrushes and scrunched into fuzzy bowling balls.  You only have to listen to him at night, but I hear him in nearly every one of my waking hours.  And he respects you more than he does me; he has no respect for me at all.  He works to make me crazy.  I know it.”
“That is crazy,” Irving muttered.
“Everything is crazy around here,” she replied.  She then huffed, stood, and announced that she was saying good night and retiring.  Several minutes later Irving jotted down his final thoughts, bid Henry good evening, told his children to do the same, and went into the house.
Maxine immediately threw down a handful of grass and ran to her grandfather while Martin continued digging with his scooper truck in the part of the flower bed that his father had left unplanted for just that purpose.
“I have to go to bed now grandpa,” she said, kissing the front part of his bald head.
“Well, all right my dear,” he replied.  “You be sweet to your dreams and they’ll be sweet to you.”  She began humming the butterfly-fish song, and skipped across the porch and into the house.  “Come up here and say good night to your grandfather, Little Martin,” Henry said.  He folded the crossword and dropped it over the edge of the hammock.
Martin slowly emptied the payload from his truck and parked it in its imaginary garage underneath the corner of the porch, then dragged himself over to his grandfather.
“Have a seat for a moment, Little Martin,” Henry said.  Martin did so, on the bench where his parents had been.  “I guess I’ll have to start calling you Big Martin soon enough.  Some day you’re going to be a huge lot bigger than you are right now, but by then you won’t want me calling you Big Martin, and I’ll probably have to resort to addressing you as Sir.  Ha, ha, ha!  You’ll be a great and large Tanner, just like your father and me.  Do you know what being a Tanner means?  Nothing.  Absolute nill.  Your father thinks it’s so very important, but I know our family’s history, and it’s really nothing to be proud about.  It would have been far more honorable to have been one of the Indians that were chased away by the Tanners, the Masts, and the Stoles, than it was to be one of the Tanners, the Masts, or the Stoles.”
“Martin!” Irving beckoned from within.
“I have to go to bed now grandpa,” Martin said, kissing Henry’s cheek.
“Good night Sir Little Big Martin,” he replied with a laugh and a handshake.  Martin went in, and Henry added:  “I hope you are nothing like your father when you finally are a Sir.”
He noticed that Lady and Ma’am had fallen asleep beneath the hammock, so he picked Lady up and held her high over his head.  “You are nothing more than a fuzzy radio that desperately needs to be finely tuned,” he said, gently pretending to twist her dangling paws until she began purring fiercely.  “That sounds much better.”  He placed her comfortably in his lap and brought up Ma’am, who was awaiting his hand.  “And you are no more than a misshapen gourd which somewhere along the line sprouted fur and was mysteriously brought to life by a spark from heaven!”  Ma’am’s throat also began vibrating, and Henry placed him in his lap against the other leg, and the three drifted into their slumbers.