My Kind of Crazy

“You know that feeling? The one when you’ve been on the toilet for so long, you’ve lost track of time, and you get up and feel something bubbled up on your ass? The feeling that shit is still coming out as you pull up your pants and wash your hands?

“The one where you still fill the lump in your ass as you walk out of the bathroom? As if a thick, stubborn blot of shit followed you out of the toilet? But instead of shit it’s just a big ass hemorrhoid on your asshole? The kind that’s so bad no cream will heal it? So you decide you’ll just have to get used to the uncomfortable lump, and accept that it’s a part of your life now?”

It took a moment for Herbert to respond. His quizzical expression said it all. “Why the hell would you ever think about that, babe? Just… why?”

“Well, yesterday, you asked me how I felt about you and I couldn’t find the right words. Well, it took me a while, but I think that pretty much sums it up.”

Herbert downs a pill to ease his arthritis and pecks my cheek. “You’re my kind of crazy, babe.”

Prayers and Pitches

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For years I prayed to God to give my life meaning. I was a devout Christian who spent every second of spare time I had volunteering at the shelter. I even regularly attended church, no matter how cluttered and full my schedule was. I was the epitome of a good human. But were my prayers answered even in the very least? No.

So, expanding my faith, I took it one step further by contacting the devil. Out of all the great deities that roam this realm, I figured he’d be the most willing to graciously grant my wish. I wasn’t wrong.

After chanting the sacrament into the smoke of a candled pentagram, I closed my eyes, imagining what a meaningful life could be like. No longer would I be left in the rain, with so much love in my heart, but still an outcast; I would have the power to help people as well as myself – nothing would be out of reach. Money, booze, women, fame – I may have been a good Bible-thumping Christian boy, but even I can’t say I am without the urge to sin.

“Give my life meaning, and I pledge my soul to you,” I murmured.

Suddenly the flames dancing atop the five black candles hissed away, extinguished by an ethereal wind. And then there was nothing: there was no booming voice only I could hear, no gnarly, blistered face to run away in terror to. Just silence.

The next day, however, I awoke renewed. The heart on my sleeve had been finally placed back in its spot, and my mind was clear of the fog that obscured my goal-seeking eye for so long. This was it, I thought. Thank you, Satan, for granting my wish – I’ll be sure to uphold my end of the bargain.

Then there was that cracked, deafening voice: “Posh!” It exclaimed. “All of that is your own doing; I simply made you into what I make all my disciples.” After a roar of laughter, it continued: “You asked to walk a different road full of new experiences, and you didn’t care who you pissed off in the process. Isn’t that right?”

Well, yes, although those weren’t my exact words.

“The words you speak have no meaning to me mortal. Rather, your intentions and inner thoughts are what I pay attention to, and I found you very deserving of this new life I’ve given you.”

I’m forever your humble servant, my Lord, but what – may I ask – did you grant me?

“A job. Your new path involves you selling shitty insurance policies and undesirable items to the masses over the phone. It’s the perfect career; I’d do it myself if I wasn’t focused on drowning the world in filth, you know.”

“You made me a telemarketer?”

“Just be at Venatago Center, room 684, at nine tomorrow morning so you can start your training.”

Space Deli

Opal and Samantha did everything together; the twin sisters even coordinated each week so that they would happen to run into each other at the grocery store or the gym. One would be incorrect in thinking they traveled together, however – both knew of the importance of distance. They made it a point not to drive the other crazy; they merely enjoyed the coincidence – albeit planned – of running into the other during their daily rounds.

Each Wednesday, after filling their silver minivans with gas – and remarkably seeing that their better half decided to conveniently do the same – they went back to Opal’s house for afternoon tea, and Samantha brought a desert of her choosing.

Opal greeted Samantha at the door. “Oh, Sam! I wasn’t expecting you today! And would you get this? I just happened to brew some earl gray; it’s on the stove now.” Opal’s smile lit the porch. “Come in, come in!”

Samantha lifted her palm. “Wait one second, dear. I’ve got a surprise for you!”

“Oh, how I love surprises! But you know that already, wouldn’t you darling?” The large woman giggled. “I bet you know more about me than I do!”

“You know it,” Samantha said, drawing a beautiful dish from the van. Amid Opal’s gasps and ooohs, the platter finally got to the kitchen.

“That croquembouche is marvelous, girl! You’ve really outdone yourself this time.”

Samantha wasn’t one to brag, but she knew her friend was right. Other times she brought pies, cakes, and even crème brulee, but neither of them amounted to the effort she put into this dessert. It had to be perfect this time, more so than ever.

The dish stood a foot tall from the table – Samantha didn’t want it to be too extravagant – and the crispy brown caramel filled the air with sugar. It also brought life to the ordinarily dull, olive room.

Opal took the first bite, her expression one of ecstasy. “Mmm! This really tickles my gullet! It’s quite literally like my taste buds just orgasmed.”

This remark caused Samantha to choke on her tea. “Whoa there, missy. Let’s not get too carried away. I haven’t even told you the good news.”

“What can be better than this?” Opal muttered through a mouthful of pastry.

Samantha slapped a sheet of paper on the table. “This!” Waiting for her friend to scan the document, she clarified: “It’s only in its preliminary stages, but I think it can change everything.”

“A space deli? Are you serious?”

“Get this: they only call for a minimum sum of $7,500 from prospective investors, and they’ll randomly select fifteen donators – those drawn will be members of the board of Nalaxia, an upcoming lunar deli!”

Opal sat puzzled. “And who the hell would it serve? And if you say alie-“

“Aliens! And astronauts should they want to make the trip from the International Space Station.”

“Sam,” she said, sighing, “this is a scam, pure and simple. Even if it ain’t, there’s no way a fucking deli would ever make it on the Moon. And if you think I’m gonna let you waste a good seven grand on this, you’re out of your mind.” She shredded the paper. “There – you can thank me later.”

“That was only your copy; I already sent my payment in.” Samantha hands her a receipt of a money transfer. “So I take it you’re not in? I know you have that divorce settlement money just sitting and rotting.”

Opal offered Samantha a plate of croquembouche and refilled her tea cup. “Naw, girl. That money is sitting safe in the trunk under the floorboard in my room, and is all going toward bills. Lord knows I’ve got tons of them.” Suddenly, she stumbles to the floor, her hands cupping her throat.

“See, they sent me another letter saying that if you send in an extra $50,000, you’ll get an automatic place on the board, and board members get to travel to the Moon and stake out the best place for the building. You know how I’ve always wanted to go into space, Opal – this is my chance.”

Opal coughed blood into her hand, suddenly seeing two Samanthas and two towering croquembouches. “Sam…” she wheezed, “what did you do?”

Grinning, Samantha walked over and placed a hand on her friend’s stomach. “I knew you would never see the goodness of this situation I’ve been blessed with. You’re too goddamned stubborn and focused on problems of today that it obscures your future thinking.” She wiped a trickle of spit and vomit from Opal’s cheek. “And I knew you would never pass a good croquembouche.
“You see? We both win; you got to taste the most delicious dessert in your life, and I get a seat on a rocket to space. Surely you forgive me?” But Opal was already gone.

“Looks like I’ll be taking that vacation after all,” Samantha uttered, hauling the trunk full of cash to her silver minivan.

Cookies

Janice loved to bake. Her favorite part was the breathlessness after the first wave of heat enveloped her senses. For a second, she could feel herself suffocating, and damn it felt good.

“You burned the goddamned cookies again, didn’t you?”

For a moment Janice considered leaving the macaroons in the oven for a few extra minutes, just to satisfy her insolent husband. “No, honey, they turned out just as they look on the box: fabulous.” Janice transferred the cookies to a green ceramic plate and sat it at the kitchen table. The steam flowing from the plate reminded her of that from a warm cup of cocoa on a wintry evening. “Come and see, Benjamin.”

“I don’t have to tell you that I worked twelve hours securing a single client at work today. I’m sore and I’m tired. Just bring the plate to me, Jan.”

Janice wanted so badly to sob and throw each of the cookies in the trash, but she flashed a smile and obeyed. She approached her master, trembling as she placed the platter in his lap.

Benjamin carefully inspected each of the macaroons, his beefy fingers tracing every last one. “Too much flour,” he muttered, tossing the dozen cookies on the floor. “Trash as usual. Try again – chocolate chip this time – and don’t you dare come back in here until you get it right.” He hacked a wad of tobacco and spat it in a clear Dixie cup. “Your grandmother told me before she died that she taught you everything she knew! I guess in addition to her being a stupid nigger she was also a liar!”

Janice remained calm, despite her insides rattling. “You’re right,” she confessed. “I didn’t put as much effort in that batch as I could have.” The woman quickly picked the cookies and crumbs from the floor and retreated to the kitchen.

“And don’t even give me that, ‘I’m tired,’ bullshit, because you’re not resting until you bake an immaculate batch of cookies – even if I have to eat them in the morning.”

Concealing her cries, Janice repeated the process her Grandmother Clarice taught her: first the sugar, add the butter, drop the eggs, then the extra fixings. With the oven already warm from the last batch, it didn’t take it long to heat up to a nifty 375.

As she was stirring the mix, she recalled the last advice her grandmother had given her. It was during the night of Janice and Benjamin’s wedding, before the ceremony. Janice was in the back getting prepared, having to redo her hair because Benjamin said it made her look too young. It didn’t take Grandmother Clarice long to realize her soon-to-be-grandson-in-law was a domineering prick.

“Janice, baby,” she said, her voice shaky and frail, “are you sure you want to go through with this?”

Janice hesitated. “Of course, Grandmother. Benjamin will provide for me more than any other man can. I believe I can be happy with him.”

“Darling, did I ever tell you the story of your late Grandfather Nicholas?” The old woman ushered Janice onto a chair.

“You said he was a great man.”

“Of course I did, babe. That’s what any good wife would recall of her husband, and in some aspects it’s true. He left me and your mother a large sum of money after his passing, and for that I am forever grateful.” The woman hacked into a handkerchief before continuing. “But he was a brute, a dog. I am a strong woman, so I sheltered through the first five years of snarky comments, but the second he laid a hand on me, it was over. And keep in mind this was many years ago, when women were expected to forgive and forget. So divorce was not an option.”

“Grandmother, what are you saying?”

The old lady placed a black vial in the bride’s hands, and whispered, “When the time is right and you feel there is no other option, slip this into his meal or a glass of wine. Consider this the best wedding gift you’ll ever get.

~~~~~

“I have a feeling you’ll really like this batch, honey!” Janice exclaimed, fetching her grandmother’s vile of poison from the back of the silverware drawer.

The arsenic dropped into the cookie mix like the devil’s tears – at first Janice added only three drops, but then she considered her husband’s weight and stubbornness, and she just emptied the damned thing. “I’m not taking any chances,” she whispered before shaping the dough and placing the pan in the oven.

After several minutes, the house filled with a sweet aroma – it reminded her of how Grandmother Clarice’s house used to smell.

“Smells good, Jan!” Benjamin flipped through a newspaper, chewing on a handful of Milk Duds. “It took a while, but I think you’re finally getting the hang of baking. Just don’t burn them now!”

Janice beamed, leaning on the refrigerator. “Oh, I learned from the best!”