Swallow

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The very thought of food made Lyle Greer want to plunge a steak knife in his gullet, and yet here was at Chux ‘N More. Legend had it that if the grease used at all the other totally health conscientious fast food restaurants were compiled into a location, one would have almost half as much oil in a single Chux Delux 3000. A side of fries though and the area would have to be expanded at least an extra 15 miles. He definitely would not consider it as first date material, but that’s what he got for letting his date choose the location. With his slicked-back brown hair and blazer, most would say he was way overdressed for this dinner date, with which he would concur.

“How’s it?” A blonde haired, blue eyed, mostly overweight Kathy leaned real close, she probably wanted Lyle to smell the red onions farting in her esophagus. “Pretty fuckin’ good, huh?” Her southern twang was nauseating. Lyle forgot to mention he was also vegetarian on his dating profile.

“It’s,” he was at a loss for words, “pretty fucking good.” Could he vomit yet? “I heard them triple Oreo shakes are amazing, too. You going to try them ones?” His grammar teacher of a mother gave him a cold slap from the grave for such a ridiculous and incorrect question, he felt his soul stiffen a little. He hoped Kathy couldn’t tell he was trying so hard to impress her.

Kathy’s eyes bugged like she just witnessed her prized cow give birth to a beautiful calf; except the calf inherited millions from his great granddaddy, was clutching a crimson faux leather Bible, and was also completely Caucasian. She appeared to have came twice in her chair and one of her eyes glazed over. “Triple Oreo? How much does that cost? Will you…? I mean…” Her puppy dog eyes were almost irresistible.

“Kathy, you have to try it. You have to. You won’t be the same; I promise you that.” Lyle took out his wallet and handed her $5. “This will cover a large for you, or a small for both of us. I’d like one too, but that’s all the money I have right now. You get what you think is–” Kathy snatched the money and galloped to the cashier’s counter. “…Best,” Lyle finished.

After a few minutes, an excited Kathy returned with one massive blue cup. Red lipstick already stained the rim of the straw where she had guzzled down a third of the delicious shake. “Sorry hon’, the girl at the counter said two smalls cost a smidge over five, and she wouldn’t spot a few dimes, but a large was only four and some change. What a bitch, ifyaskmuh,” Kathy started on another thought but she drowned it in the caustic lake of Oreo and regurgitated ground beef and mustard. Lyle’s stomach churned.

“It was probably best that I didn’t get one anyway.”

Kathy’s upper lip stretched, exposing a yellow french fry in her gum. “Come again?”

“A shake,” Lyle pointed at the now mostly emptied cup. “I’m lactose intolerant. That shake would’ve torn me up for days.”

“You ain’t one of them kind are you?” Slurp, slurp.

“A what?”

“Y’know…” Kathy popped the lid off the cup and dumped the rest of the dark chocolate contents down her mouth. A piece of cookie slipped out of her mouth and bounced onto the checked table top. It took less than a second for her to pick it up and put it back in her mouth.

Lyle glared, unsure how much longer he could put up with this lady. Although he was hoping to charm her over at the beginning of the date, it was starting to become obvious to him that maybe that was not going to be possible. “What?” He was getting agitated.

“Well you talk like me and you seem nice, but you dress so fancy like and now you’re lactose intolerant?” She tossed the cup in the trash but missed. “Next thing you be telling me is that you’re gay and vegetarian! Lordy, lordy. Please tell me you’re not a liberal fag.”

Liberal fag. Lyle sat on the words for a few seconds, speechless at how she could have reached that conclusion over the simple fact that he could not consume lactose and that he has a sense for fashion. “Kathy, I’m just like you. Don’t you remember why we sat for dinner in the first place?”

Their first conversation started on a dating website. It all started when Lyle sent a simple, Boy howdy! If I followed you home, would you keep me? Followed by a page full of heart-eye and puppy emojis. To be honest, Lyle didn’t think that despicable pick up line would work on anybody, but it got Kathy’s attention. Shortly after, he discovered her favorite cuisine was American and that she loved Rom-Coms. What a catch.

“Lyle, it’s just I don’t open myself up to a lot of people anymore. You’re the first since…” Kathy shifted uncomfortably, not keen on discussing any of her previous relationships. “It’s just been a while.”

People buzzed around Lyle and Kathy in the restaurant and their asses grew numb as they sat in silence, just staring at each other. Neither of them knew the right way to fix the conversation, not really.

“The movie’s going to start in a few minutes,” Lyle murmured, checking his watch. “I don’t think we could make it, and plus we kind of used my last five for your shake.” His eyes flicked to Kathy’s and then to the tiled floor which was surprisingly clean, unlike their table which was sticky and covered in chocolate.

“That’s okay. Truth is I’ve already seen it have a dozen times,” confessed Kathy. “I just like seeing Ryan Reynolds ass in it.” Lyle laughed, focusing on Kathy once again.

“How about we just take a drive, you and me? I’ve got the gas.” Lyle took Kathy’s hand. He felt an inviting warmth in her that he hadn’t felt before, or perhaps it was just gas from the awful dinner. “It’s getting dark out and the city looks remarkable at night.”

“You sound like we live in Vegas. Have you even seen Tarinberg? We’ve got like three buildings, counting this one. Are you sure you’re not some undercover liberal?” Kathy nudged. “I’m only joking!”

Outside, Lyle brought Kathy to his car, a bright red 2015 Dodge Charger his father bought him as a graduation gift.

Kathy especially loved the muscle cars. “I’d never consider you to be the souped up car type of guy.”

Lyle beamed. “Well, I’m a man of many surprises, what can I say?”

~~~~

Lyle took them down the interstate and through country roads, every mile he could travel to kill time, and Kathy was right. There was nothing to see in Tarinberg except darkness and the occasional stoplight. For the better part of an hour they listened to music and danced to the evening remixes, but after a little while Kathy stopped.

“I apologize for how I acted earlier. I was a bitch, I know I was,” she admitted.

Lyle squints, tightening his grip on the steering wheel. “What do you mean?”

“I’ve just got so much I haven’t told you.”

“You know you can be honest with me. That’s something we mentioned before to each other online that we’ve had issues with in our previous relationships. Just be yourself, Kathy.” He noticed a pair of headlights form in the distance in his rear view mirror. “If it’s any consolation, I think you’re fantastic.” His mother also hated liars; she wouldn’t have been so fond of him if she had been in the car with them at that moment.

Kathy sighed. “I’ve only had one other relationship, and it was ten years ago. I’ve only told my parents and a couple of people this, mostly for my own safety.” She paused. “I know that there’s a good chance that nothing serious will become of this or us, but I do consider you a friend.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“Well, I’m not some killer or anything,” Kathy cackled nervously. “Fuck no, that’s not what this is about! It’s just, ten years ago, I looked a lot different — a lot. I was actually pretty.” She sniffled. “I modeled out of Atlanta and actually had a career. My manager, Eduardo, he promised that if I just trusted him, he’d put me on magazine covers.”

The country road that Lyle had been traveling on suddenly felt longer and longer as Kathy explained her story, and the truck behind them suddenly grew to a line of three vehicles. “Damn! That’s amazing!”

“I ended up marrying Eduardo, but not long after that he fucked me up pretty bad because I refused to whore myself out to other clients of his. So he broke my arm; I had bruises all over my body; teeth missing. My modeling career was over; he made sure of that.” More sniffles came from Kathy, who became almost inconsolable. “And just to see that someone like you, who obviously has a good job and a good mind and just a good everything actually stepped up and gave me a chance — it just means a helluva lot to me.” She reached down and clasped Lyle’s hand. “No matter what comes of tonight, thank you for being kind to me.”

“I, uh, that’s great. I, don’t know what to say -” Lyle was never a wordsmith.

“Are you okay? You’re trembling.”

Lyle slowed down and pulled into the driveway of an old trailer. There was a couple sitting in the front porch, their faces illuminated by a string of Christmas lights. Lights followed a path from the trailer house to a cellar and an old silo.

“Where the fuck are we? Lyle?”

“I think I’m going to be sick. I have to use the bathroom.”

“Lyle you’re not just going up to those strangers and asking them for their bathroom! That’s not how that works.”

“Please just stay in the car.”

As Lyle exited the Charger, three other vehicles stopped behind him. With every step towards the trailer, Lyle did not hear the click of the door handle inside his car — meaning Kathy wasn’t smart enough to try to escape, which was good. She could easily unlock the car and make a run for it.

“I’m here,” Lyle exclaimed, voice fragile. His fingers traced the outline of the car keys in his left pocket.

The couple sitting on the porch is revealed to be two brothers, Douglas and Van. In the darkness they almost looked identical, save for their vastly different height and Douglas’ long beard. “You have what I need as well?”

“In the car.”

The brothers gestured toward Kathy and suddenly two women and a man approached the vehicle, but Douglas held out his hand in a stopping motion. “This is the one, correct? Kathy Pliga?”

Lyle felt his knees buckle and his shoes sink into the earth. “Yes.”

“Unlock the car then.”

“Fuck,” Lyle whispered.

It happened almost instantly. The car unlocked, Kathy raced out, but was napped kicking and screaming by one of the goons. They administered a shot to her neck and in moments she collapsed. Her limp feet drew lines in the dirt as she was dragged into the cellar.

“Very good, Lyle. You did an excellent job,” Van observed. “Everyone, prepare the ceremony. We’ll join shortly.”

“I need the money,” Lyle commanded, his voice cracking the dry night air. “I was promised thirty thousand; I’ve upheld my end. Please.” Lyle’s hands balled up in anticipation.

“You’ll have to forgive me, I left the money in the office. You’ll have to come with me to get it.” There was a peculiar calmness to the night, a kind of order as if nature itself conformed to a new hierarchy — a hierarchy with these brothers leading the pack. “Come now,” they whispered. “We’ll get your reward.” Although Lyle knew the risks, the chances of him escaping were slim enough as it was, so he decided to play nice.

Lyle followed Douglas, Van, and their acolytes into the cellar. The place was kept in pristine condition despite appearing quite old and abandoned from the outside. Inside, the walls were painted black with a single red stripe leading to the center of the cellar: the grand hall. Lyle couldn’t see much else from his position, as he was surrounded by the followers.

“Chieftain, everything has been prepared; the moon is in phase — it is time,” a red cloaked acolyte whispered to the brothers. The brothers nodded and the follower disappeared into another corridor.

Slow, deep instrumental music filled Lyle’s senses as he walked with the brothers through the cellar and into the grand hall. Before Lyle could ask if they were almost to the office, the music grew louder and the brothers turned around. It was the first time Lyle got to really see the two so close up and under bright light.

Douglas was about a foot and a half taller than Van, with a much longer beard, which was neatly combed and braided. He was bald and had a face full of different black tattoos. Van looked far more professional but less menacing, with only a short goatee and no tattoos.

Suddenly, the music stopped playing and the grand hall filled with hooded figures. Everything happened in a flash. Strange symbols appeared on the walls and the ground began to shake. Everyone bowed their head and began to hum. Lyle’s jaw dropped and his eyes grew wide. He fell back in horror as two men carried Kathy into the room, now stripped naked and painted white.

“To praise our Brother Thygalsdi, we offer the Harbinger of the Filth. As her life fills us, the Era of Soot comes to an end and the Sacred Cleanse begins!” the brothers chanted, to which the others parroted.

Paralyzation wore off and Lyle finally picked himself up off the floor and scurried to the door, but he was quickly ambushed by the mob.

“Lyle,” the brothers spoke in unison. “You’re not leaving here without your reward.” They motion toward Kathy, now wide awake but completely silent, staring at him. Her eyes glimmered under the bright light. “As Harbinger, it is your duty.” A dagger is forced in Lyle’s hand. “Do it.” A hint of a smirk formed on Kathy’s face, as if she was taunting Lyle. Liberal fag, she mouthed.

The entire room erupted in chants of “DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT HARBINGER! FOR THYGALDSDI!”

But all Lyle could see and hear was the pathetic bitch Kathy. The cow who took his money and refused to get him a shake. The sleaze who considered a dinner at Chux ‘N More and a movie she’d seen a dozen times was a date. The liar who made him believe she was an abuse victim for no fucking reason before he sold her for $30,000. The FUCKING BITCH who scammed him from the very start. Yes, Lyle considered himself a hardcore gun control and anti-violence activist, but, fuck, he wanted to stab Kathy.

So he did. And Kathy didn’t even put up a fight. Nobody did. He plunged the knife first into Kathy’s arm, then into her stomach, and then her neck. Then it became a blur. All of his rage, a lifetime of buried anger and hatred and he decided to take it out right then on Kathy, a girl he met in person only hours earlier. A girl he only intended to sell to a couple of men for $30,000 and then he would leave, no questions asked. Now he was standing over her, relentlessly stabbing her over and over and over and over. He cried because she couldn’t; he never gave her a chance. She didn’t have a chance to take a final breath before he sank the dagger one last time into her heart.

The muffled silence was slowly broken by quietened praises for the cultists’ Thygaldsdi and for their blessed Harbinger, but none was as enthusiastic as before.

Instead of bandages, the cultists pressed cups to Kathy’s stab wounds. Red solo cup after red solo cup was filled with Kathy’s blood and passed around the room. Hearty cheers and happy tears were had, and finally Douglas approached Lyle. Lyle was still beside Kathy’s twitching corpse, dazed, his hand clutching the dagger.

“You did us a great service today, Harbinger; here, drink up. It will complete the ceremony.”

“Don’t… fucking call me that.” Lyle shrugged him away and stood up. “Now let me go.”

“Not without this,” he handed Lyle a suitcase. “Inside is the thirty grand. All you have to do is complete the ceremony, and you can leave.” All eyes were on Lyle and his red solo cup full of Kathy’s blood. “Just swallow.”

Lyle dropped the blade and peeked inside the suitcase. His money was in the case, sure enough. He grabbed the cup. “Here’s to forgetting every fucking thing that happened here tonight,” Lyle toasted, swallowing Kathy along with every ounce of his pride.

~~~~

After Lyle left the cellar and sped off with his $30,000, Douglas made a phone call.

“Valerie, it’s the Chieftain of Station 8B.”

“Y-Y-You’re calling, so, it-it’s done? The Cleansing has…?”

Douglas was quick and quiet. “Alert the council of our success here and begin taking the necessary steps for initiation.”

Click

Best Friend

Their bodies danced different melodies. As Snowflake pulled away, Harry moved forward. She wanted to throw herself in a lane of oncoming traffic, while he wanted her down on the floor.

“You said you wanted to play, didn’t you?” Harry asked through ecstatic gasps. The hold he had on her tightened. “Well, now you get exactly what you asked for, girl.”

Snowflake’s doleful pleas filled the aquarium, evoking annoyed and disgusted sighs from the passersby. “God, man; can’t you take that someplace else? There are kids here,” mumbled a man clad in formal attire – nothing similar to what one would expect to see in a public aquarium.

Harry dismissed the offended gentleman, and continued thrusting himself onto the brunette beauty. He usually was not one for public displays of affection, but he felt there was a point to be made: if Snowflake was serious about her requests, she should do as she was told. It was the least she could do; after all, he was the one who fed her and gave her a place to sleep.

At one point, they caught the eye of an unsuspecting young kid who had just come from the bathroom. “What?” Harry yelled. “You ain’t ever seen a guy enforcing his dominance on his bitch?” The little guy stood there utterly confused until his mother called him back to the posse.

With a final lunge, Harry stopped and looked down at the defeated female. The flash of excitement that shone in her dark eyes had been exterminated by the one she trusted the most. She dropped her chin to the tiled floor and whimpered.

“Glad to see you finally understand my frustration, Snowflake,” he said, zipping his trousers. “Now let’s go get that ball you wanted to fetch so badly that you lost it in the otter exhibit.”

The young collie’s copper fur sparkled under the lights of the seahorse display; her happiness had returned along with a swiftly-wagging tail. She would finally get to play fetch with her master.

12 Songs that Inspire & Fuel My Writing

What inspires your writing, or gets your creative juices flowing?

One of the main things people find out about me, upon the first meeting even, is my love for music. If I’m not listening to it, I’m talking about it. But what many don’t realize is that I’m not just an avid listener, fan-girling over every new track released by my favorite bands. While I do get excited about that, the first thing that comes to my mind is: “Oh, boy. I’m going to get a good story out of this one.”

Many writers thrive in silence, but sitting, just listening to my racing fingers clapping the keyboard, is detriment to my writing groove. I’ve got to have it, and it’s not just for the noise. I enjoy silence when reading, studying, and pretty much everything else. But the songs’ tone greatly influences that of my own work, and I use it to my advantage. If you read Wink, Wink, chances are that was born out of a satirical tune from Panic! At the Disco. I wrote Silver to Disturb’s Indestructible; Red Rain to Reba McEntire.

So I have decided to make a list of 12 of my favorite tunes from my writing playlist (it’s 800 songs strong, but I won’t bore you with all that). I encourage you, if you’re into this kind of thing, to try writing a hundred or so words listening to a couple of these songs (if you do, share it in the comments! I’d love to read what you come up with!).

Note: the tracks are not listed in any particular order.

  1. Devil – Papa Roach
  2. Angels Fall – Breaking Benjamin
  3. The Ballad of Mona Lisa – Panic! At the Disco
  4. Can’t Be Tamed – Miley Cyrus
  5. Holding Out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler
  6. Jackpot – Block B
  7. The Quiet – Troye Sivan
  8. Nightmare – Set It Off
  9. Going Under – Evanescence
  10. Blown Away – Carrie Underwood 
  11. Light of the Seven – Ramin Djawadi
  12. Milk and Cookies – Melanie Martinez

Wink, Wink

Weddings are my jam, especially the lavish ones with the champagne fountains and the angelfish floral arrangements. It’s not the merry celebration of love and life that draws me to the ceremonies, though. I tried that once before, and I was absolutely miserable.

While the family and friends are busy talking about how the bride’s list of suitors is as long as her train, I roll up in my little blue shopping cart. “I’m a friend of the groom,” I say, satisfying the curious folks orbiting the dessert bar. I add, “Don’t tell him I’m here, now; I want it to be a surprise.”

Inconspicuous, I stroll to back, careful not to alert security. At the end of an ephemeral Boreas hallway stands an emotional bride, her fingers anxiously tearing holes into the bouquet stem. Only minutes remain before the bridal chorus chirps and steals away the perfect opportunity.

“Excuse me, miss,” she starts, “the room for the help is on the other side, as I’m sure you’re aware.” Flaxen locks obscure her condescending smirk.

Flashing a sneer of my own, I shove the shopping cart into the lacy maiden. “Oh, you won’t be seeing too much of me, dear,” I grumble, my hands swiping at her painted porcelain face. Ignoring the barrage of kicks in my gut, I find the treasure and liberate the thick, black jewels.

Upon the first note of the bridal chorus, I’m already outside barreling down the asphalt in a little blue shopping cart, the treasure safely snug in a satchel full of other brides’ eyelash extensions. I calculate that I have thirty minutes to grab a bite to eat, before my presence is requested at a reception in Orlando. Supposedly there will be two brides at the next gig; it’s too bad only one of them will be of any interest to me.

Swan Song

My eyes follow the stream of grayscale microbursts flickering on the surface of the lake, a lunar ballet performance upon a chilled oil pool. A cloud of moths and flies hums around the lantern on the dock floor in a choreographed orbit. This place is certainly not what it used to be; Dad and I used to frequent this lake for our weekend getaways, and we’d sit with our feet in the water talking about different things – like how the patch of honeysuckles on the water’s edge made the air so sweet and how well Mom was doing in physical therapy since the accident. But Dad died of lung cancer three years ago, and four days after that Mom was found in her room hanging from the wooden frame of that beautiful canopy bed I bought her for her fiftieth birthday. She said it made her feel like an angel resting in a cloud.

Suddenly, a little voice sounded from below, followed by a gentle tug on my arm. “Jenny? Where are they?

Shit. Little Joey never forgets anything, like his father I suppose. The only way to get the young boy out of my ex’s house was to prod his fascination with birds – how else was I to break an eight-year-old away from his home? The deal was that I would take him to see a real swan for the first time, and in exchange he would keep me company on our walk down there. He was reluctant until I mentioned how much more beautiful the birds were in person than the silhouette of a flock painted on his baby blue ceiling.

Noticing only a black owl perched atop the rotting skeleton of a tree, I improvise. “They’re here, Joey. You just can’t see them.” I usher him forward. “Come on! I bet we can get a better view of them when we’re closer.”

Our footsteps crunched and cracked the blanket of dead leaves that covers the ground as we make our way to the bank. The sounds of night grew louder and more melancholic as we walked away from the forest and closer to the dark lake; the song washed away the bliss and serenity of the scene, reviving an eerie ambiance of pestilence and desolation. The owl jumped from her rotten throne and flapped heavily above, her bulky frame casting a large shadow over the land until finally vanishing into the dark.

Joey sticks his finger in the water and shivers. “Wow! That’s really cold,” he exclaims. “See, Jenny?” He drowns my hand, sending a tremble down my spine. But it’s not the freezing water that gives me chills – it was his touch.

Since he was born, I have always hated Joey even though I’ve never shown it. And it wasn’t Joey that I really hated; he was just the poor soul that was thrown into this world as a result of his dad’s adultery. In between sorry and it’s not you it’s me, James thought I’d be relieved to know how he would never be good for me, and that Dotte was a better match for him – the same Dotte who had been my dad’s physician when the cancer was beating him. The nerve!

My body is shaking now, and sweat starts to bead on my face. Memories of when I was watching James and Dotte play with Joey in the park danced in my mind – oh, how that little tot giggled as his father took him in his arms and tossed him in the air. The boy was innocent; how could I know James and Dotte were going to be out and Joey was to be left at home with a sitter as I appeared in their driveway prepared to kill them all? I admit I considered that what I was doing was insane as I strangled the sitter outside, but what would that achieve? All that would do is bring them closer together. No, I have to hurt James just as he had hurt me with his cold words the night he shattered my life.

Joey opens his mouth as if he was going to giggle and tell me how funny I look, but I don’t give him the chance. I grip a handful of his curly brown hair and shove his face in the lake. His writhing body jerks side to side, struggling for air, but I only push him deeper. His little hands scratch at my forearm and search for something to grasp for support. It’s funny, the survival instinct; it would push little Joey to fight at whatever cost until all hope of living was drained from him as his lungs fill with water.

It takes me a while to realize Joey has given up, that I was now holding a lifeless child in the uncomfortably tranquil water, as I was too focused on the shocking sight before me: in the center of the lake were three white swans shooting a judgmental, distressed glare at me behind empty eyes of charcoal. The largest of the flock sheds a tear and bows his head, before I let Joey go and turn to walk back to the car.

When I get into the car, I look back at the lake and see no trace of the swans or of Joey – there isn’t even a ripple in the water. The black owl, sure enough, is back at her perch, however, and her sneering scowl reassures me that my work is far from finished.

Passion

The taste of his skin on my teeth had never tasted so sweet. Our bodies intertwined, my lips move from his lips to his neck. Traces of warm spice and amber invigorated my senses with each euphoric peck down his chest until I reached his puckered navel. As I reached up to grasp his nipple, our eyes met. The man’s lapis eyes glistened like the surface of a crystal clear lake on a moonlit night, and it was at that moment that I realized he didn’t just want me. He needed me, at least as much as I needed him.

He must have sensed my infatuation, because before I could whisper three delicate words, he had me pinned beneath him. His callused hands held mine to the side as we became one. Every thrust sent us closer to the threshold until finally his porcelain face tensed. If I couldn’t have heard the grandfather clock ticking from the living room, I would have swore our love had stopped time.

His masculine frame collapsed beside me, twitching ever so gently from my seductive touch. “You like that?” I whispered. No answer.

So I repeated: “Did you like that?” Not a sound came from the beautiful man who had just finished inside me.

With a flash, I turned on the bedisde lamp and frantically turned to him – his eyes were just as colorless as his skin. I had lain with a caramel king and rose with a gutted ghoul.

I wiped the tears from my face, and with them my perfectly painted beauty mask. Hours of makeup preparation for the big night was ruined, the love of my life gaped before me an awestruck, bare corpse.

“Well, shit,” I thought, sitting up on the bed, my tears chapping my cheeks. “This makes number four.” There was no way I could explain this one to the judge.

Hot Mess

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Let’s see how many it will take to knock my ass on the floor. “Gimme another,” I shouted, unflinching. “You know what? Just leave the goddamn bottle.”

The bartender, a twenty-something freckle-faced ginger whose preferred sources of entertainment was Reddit and shoving his dick into a warm watermelon, coolly passed me a half-empty bottle of Patron Silver. “Enjoy, sir,” he piped before trotting over to appease another depressing sap.

Depressing sap. How did I let myself stoop so low? I was once the cherished first-born who had grown into the CEO of my father’s profitable Fortune 500, natural resource company. I had a smoking-hot trophy bitch of a wife and two shit-faced numbskulls for sons, and we all lived happily and amused in a three story mansion hidden within a 128-acre yellow birch woodland. It really was the picture-perfect, American dream of a life. But suddenly the kids became born-again Presbyterians, the wife started hosting orgies with the entire Michigan Bucks soccer team, and I ran the company into the ground – ladies and gentlemen, the life of an aspiring CEO-turned unemployed regular at Bebe Frank’s Downtown Pub.

Before I knew it, I was out of tequila and the world was still a dismal shitstorm, so I figured I would inform the crowd. “Everytion, attenryone,” I slurred, perched on top of the barstool. How I managed to get my fat ass up on the chair is a question for the booze. However, before I could continue the speech that would top all other speeches, an intense flame formed in the pit of my stomach. Then I blew.

A shower of searing clumps of golden bile rained on my audience, and suddenly they all started screaming. If the cries of horror were not from the boiling puke dissolving their skin, I swear one would mistake them for shouts of excitement and ovation. I imagined standing in front of a podium giving a kick-ass presentation to the board and shareholders; that drowning degree of elation I got after those conferences is something I will never forget.

In one corner we have Mrs. Taryn Greenfield, one of the corporation’s largest shareholders, who’s jumping and waving sporadically out the pub’s window, except there is no one who can rescue her from another round of my blissful, sweltering sprays of excellence.

Don’t worry, there’s enough to go around, Co-Chair Brandon Huckabee. And those better not be tears of sorrow that you’re ripping off with those caustic, cosmetically sculpted cheeks of yours.

Everyone is on the floor bellowing with praises for my final, corrosive vomit shower speech. I chuckled at the sight of Lucinda Harman and her girlfriend Sasha nearly spraining their ankles as they try to dodge the glorious holes the vomit ate in the floor. “Don’t slip on your way out!” I shouted. They probably didn’t hear me.

That’s when Agent Meredith showed up, beautifully clad in a chic leather gumdrop dress and silver-plated shoes. She had a charm bracelet fastened around her front left hoof, and spiraled around the opposite a bedazzled strip of baling wire. Her mane sparkled under the pub’s warm light – she must have used the glitter spray I gifted to her for her fifth birthday.

“Damn, you are one fine mare, Mere,” I stated, giggling at my cheesy cleverness.
Meredith shoved past the vomiting fashionistas, stepped over the deceased wannabes, and nibbled my ear. “Oh, Harvey, you always knew how to throw a spectacular party. But why didn’t you invite me?” She batted her eyes, her lips puckered tight and her hoof exploring my thigh.

“This was a surprise party, darling. I would tell you to blame Frenchson for neglecting to send you an invitation, but he’s too busy gasping for air and clutching his whore’s severed flesh over by the jukebox!” I snickered.

The horse whinnied. “He always was a romantic, wasn’t he? And speaking of shameless lust, Harvey, I’d say you are a little excited yourself!” She cackled. “Why don’t you accompany me to the stable?”

I didn’t have to glance down to notice my embarrassingly hardening crotch tenting my jeans. My faced turned pink and I caressed Meredith’s soft snout. “After you, babe.”
The two of us abandoned Bebe Frank’s Downtown Pub and all its decaying customers, and I rode her to her home, where she invited me to sit and wait for her to freshen up a bit. I lost my shirt and pants somewhere along 3rd Avenue. But Meredith, the dazzling, sexy pony never returned. Even worse, she locked the stables.

“Fuckin’ phony ponies,” I griped, “Next time I see that bitch, I’m putting her down.”
Thoughts of Meredith and hatred for the backstabbing horse faded from my mind as I vomited two-three-four times in the itchy hay bed. I spat and retched until I collapsed, the world and its calamities circling around me like an endlessly rotating, soundless vulture baby mobile.

###

A splash of cold water and muffled noises pulled me from my alcoholic slumber.
“Good to see you’re awake, Mr. Fenton.” A blonde police officer tossed me a towel.
My head throbbed. “What the hell happened? Why am I here?”

“We got a few reports last night that you were drunk and disorderly at the pub downtown. One witness said that after you vomited on the floor, you started acting erratically, spitting and cursing towards everyone in the bar. After several failed attempts of trying to calm you down, they called us.”

I was not one to act erratically. I was once a functioning CEO, for god’s sake. But I knew how to stay composed despite the fact that the whole complaint was more or less blown out of proportion, if not totally fabricated. “So are you charging me with anything?”
She nodded. “Public disturbance. But the good news is – we ran your file – this is your first offense, so you’ll likely avoid any jail time. You’ll need to fill out some forms and more than likely will pay a fine, though.”

Public disturbance my ass. Couldn’t a normal guy enjoy a simple night out? Apparently not, but I bit my tongue. “Thank you, officer – what did you tell me your name was?” She looked awfully familiar.

She turned as she was leaving the cell. “I didn’t, but I’m Officer Meredith Buckly. We went to the senior prom together, or don’t you remember? After I refused your advances, you started the horse rumor.” She grinned. “Karma’s a bitch, eh?”