I don’t do whiskey or sleeping aids. But I have written a metric ton of stuff I regret. This stuff hardly ever sees past the confines of my pages app, but it’s embarrassing nonetheless to think that if I died some rando scrolling my stuff might run across it by accident and go “yep, it’s always the quiet ones”. I have ranted endlessly, my lousy and dated opinions on full display. Resting cringe face is an understatement of what this drivel inspires. Since I’m a hoarder of words I never delete anything major so it’s just...there. Time begets more documents, thus putting more space between me and my illustrious hot takes. But it doesn’t negate their presence. I have published some very regrettable things, but I was perfectly sober in doing so, which...debatably makes it worse. These things can all be summed up in a singular word: Wattpad.
Ah Wattpad, repository of everything distasteful, smutty and degenerate. I’m being hyperbolic of course—not everything, just...most. I joined a few years back, and what is it about being surrounded by degenerate things that pulls you down to the same level of degeneracy? Most of the content I fabricated during that time was, honestly, quite horrid. The ‘horrid’ mostly centered around exploitation-tier violence and general vulgarity. Whatever phase I was in compelled me to be eDgY, and most know that’s never a good thing. My edge wanted to go out with a bang, and go out with a bang it did. Were I to read back over the docs, I’d probably suffer a visceral reaction, somewhere between cringe-stung anaphylaxis and outright denial that I was ever that stupid.
A few things (read: a lot of things) I’ve published on here have been regrettable. Thus my purge a few months ago. Maybe I should make the purge an annual thing. I can see fans of the movie doing a double-take at that last line if removed from context but whatevs. I’ve still never seen the movie.
“Maybe I should make the purge an annual thing.” -CatLady1, 2021.
My conclusion is this.
(Writing to Prose itself now) The slave challenge you took down was really interesting. I know I give you flak over challenges (read: Epstein, Hitler), but I do so in jest and I’m all (most) for venturing beyond my comfort zone. Your challenges help me do that quite often. I actually was in the process of editing my entry for submission when you changed the prompt, so just know the challenge itself wasn’t completely ignored. :)
#hyperbolic, #satire, #opinion
and now I’m just writing to fill the word quota I wonder what I can write yep I already know all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
‘’By the time you read this I will be already over the country border and you won’t be able to track me down. The person in charge of the farming department would have lost not only his head, but also his two pet goldfish which I quickly made into tiny chunks with my swords.
‘’He thought he was clever. Locking the supplies we needed in his own warehouse. Can you believe it? I just had to get to the supplies and make sure they were delivered to the right folks, the farmers.
‘’You may be wondering— why did I do it? The guy had not provided the necessary supplies to us farmers. I had to take matters into my own hands, well, because I knew if the farmers association tried to get to it- then by the time the supplies would have been handed to us (farmers) the right planting season mark would have already passed. It would have been too late by then!
‘’Ah, some of the farmers may not want to use the supplies after knowing that it is from the home of the one who was murdered. Don’t worry about the dude already. He is in a better place. I hope. At least I was able to help him move on to a place where he can rest for all eternity.
‘’I would readily and swiftly do it again! That’s right, I am not going to say sorry to his family, not even to the rest of his buddies in the farming department.
‘‘To my fellow dear farmers, I hope you put all the supplies to good use. I wish you a wonderful & bountiful harvest season!’’
The local town officer squinted his eyes after he had read my late night post back to me. He slammed the paper onto the wooden table. I looked at it and then back at him.
Me: ‘‘I....that was not me...someone must have hacked my account..’’
He scoffed and spat in my face. His partner watched from the corner of the investigation room.
I shook my head and tried to wipe the spit off my face. But the handcuffs were too tight around my wrists. I could not even touch my chin.
Me: ‘‘Hey, I am telling you— I did not write that post!’’
The police officer slapped me, not once, but twice. First one landed on my left cheek. The other on my right came without a break.
I felt tears begin streaming down my face. This was not how I thought the new year had for me.
After a little while, the officers left the investigation room. I sniffed and sighed. Did I really write that post?
I tried to remember if I really did write that post. Soon it hit me. I did, and had actually did my best to remove it from the site- Mbaula. I thought it was deleted from my wall.
Oh, I guess maybe someone had saved it to their own account and now the post was brought back to my attention. One that would haunt me for the rest of my life. I must have had too much to drink. Uh, what a mess!
I can not even pin this post on my twin. She does not have a Pingo account. If I made a joint account with her name, the officers would think I was trying to pin it on her. I am doomed!
6th Jan., 2021
Please accept my profuse apologies for the highly regrettable. . . err. . . incident.
In truth I have no memory of the event.
It was only after this vile remark was pointed out as having my name on it, that I even recognized the post was mine. I still have my doubts as to whether or not my account was hacked, or perhaps some third party forced this from me against my will... The objectionable article in question (Which I of course deleted as soon as I regained my senses) read thusly:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Prose’s challenges are so wishy-washy and changeable that they might as well be directed by a bowl-full of baffled goldfish. First a different historical figure’s specter was supposed to be sitting on the edge of our beds each week, turning all our previous entries into nonsensical gibberish, now this month’s entire challenge was a mistake?! How long will this prompt last? A day? an hour? A nanosecond? What pack of incompetant imbeciles are running this half-assed operation?! I doubt that the illustrious judges even take the time out of their busy lives to read half of the brainless drivel they inspire.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
As you can see, this was a very out of character post, not at all like the decent, kind, caring, honorable persona one might ascertain of me from my other posts. Please, admirable, magnificent Prose, I beg your forgiveness. You must know the gratitude I feel for this extraordinarily excellent website. This horrible besmirchment of an insult to good writing is so far removed from my actual thoughts, not to mention how badly it injures the upstanding image I have taken care to portray of myself over the years. I still can’t believe the words were wholly mine. Perhaps some mischievous demon lived in my unfortunate cup of tea, some vicious, conniving devil, just waiting to possess my fingers and type this accusatory claptrap? Nevertheless dear, fine, merciful Prose; splendiferous, justly, generous Prose; In spite of whether or not I am to blame in the matter, you have my most sincere and grovelling apologies. No-one could possibly be more ashamed, more abashed, more disgraced than I. . .
Oh, I am but a vile pustule! A fetid and tumorous growth festering on a disgruntled troll’s hairy bottom! Slice me out and be rid of my foul insinuations!
I’m awful on whiskey. My boyfriend says my eyes glaze over. Presently, we are having a conversation about my mom that is like pounding dead horse flesh, and I am trying very hard to either look away from him or make steady eye contact with him in order to appear sober. Appearances fail me. They always do - my eyes are too big and my face is too narrow. Nothing feels worse than imitating what you should be.
Sober. I should be sober. I have a habit of posting to social media while intoxicated. I also have a phone addiction, so that I’m glued to the screen for most of my banal days. I pushed my phone away from me while drinking the whiskey sour, the one that saw me pouring out ice for another one and rehashing the aforesaid horse flesh. I did this to appear ‘engaged’ in our conversation. While we spoke, I could feel my body vibrating. I had posted a risky post on social media just minutes before, and I knew it was a mistake. I had known it before I’d hit “publish.”
While I remained not engaged while trying to appear engaged, I couldn’t stop thinking about the post. My mother had been abusive, but not like that. Had it been physical? I don’t know. I remember the door slamming, the screwdriver that came out and undid my bedroom door frame so she could leer at me and my oval face. I didn’t drink when I was nineteen and I wasn’t sorry to pour my mother’s whiskey down the drain afterwards.
I had a bad habit of slamming metaphorical doors. I had shut out my mom years ago.
Her email to remind me to cash her Christmas check was not going to be enough of a reason to get me to love her again. I needed so much more, so much more that while I hit the “publish” button on my post, my phone dropped to the floor from the slam of my fingers hitting the button. Slam. A sound and a plea.
While I sipped my now fourth whiskey sour, I heard my phone start to vibrate. I’m sorry, I told my boyfriend. I’m getting a phone call.
I didn’t know multiple notifications, sent a hundred times over the course of a minute, could create a kind of seemingly permanent vibration mode on my phone. The responses to my post were angry. Unfortunately for me, there is a “dislike” button on this social media platform, which, incredibly, people press in all seriousness. Not that this wasn’t serious. Child abuse is, well, a big deal.
I had now abandoned the conversation with my boyfriend. I looked again at the picture that had sparked the hundreds of negative comments. It was a picture of my bedroom door unhinged from the wall. I had said something in the caption about screaming into the darkness of the past. This wasn’t going to end well.
I thought back to the previous moments, however long ago they were to the present moment, and why I had hit the “publish” button. Is there a reason why we do anything? I thought about the human psyche and decided I was drunk.
Even then I couldn’t cut myself off. My boyfriend resumed our conversation, unknowing. He didn’t use the particular social media platform and would remain oblivious of my post forever, because I would never tell him. Perhaps real life beats the social media game. In real life, the “dislike” button is merely ending the conversation. I thought back to the moments that had preceded this moment, and thought about how I had ended a tangible conversation with someone I loved.
It was my mother. I had ended the conversation with my mother.
My, what a scandal!
I have literally never experienced such an excruciating headache ever before in my life as I have in this current moment.
As of now I am sitting in front of my laptop screen staring at the brightness with bloodshot eyes, cradling my head with both hands while my fingers pull at my hair at the mishap that has occurred.
How on earth did I get this drunk? I only remember getting to the club, dancing with one guy and then nothing. Nada. Just the exhilarating memory of his tanned arms wrapped around my torso playing in my head like a broken record. Who even was the guy? Did I get his name? Or a phone number maybe? I rummaged around in my purse only to find a note that said in graceful, slanted handwriting: “We will meet again, mi amor.” I crumpled it up and threw it on the ground. Thanks for the help, genius.
My apartment looked appalling to say the least. A heap of clothes lay on the floor my dressing table a mess from the night before and shoes of all shapes and sizes scattered around the place. But that was the least of my concerns. What was most concerning was the numerous pictures on my Instagram account circling the Internet like wildfire.
36 likes and an onslaught of hypocritical comments.
The very first thing I did was delete them. Then I went through the camera roll. Oh god.
There were pictures of my mouth overflowing with what looked like a bottle of vodka in my hand, my cleavage shining and proudly out and about on display but still covering the important bits. The next was a series of blurred pictures filled with cheeky smiles and boisterous laughter, the faces spreading wide across the screen.
I clicked on the last picture and zoomed in on each of the ruggedly handsome faces. I knew none of them but together we looked like a gang of very attractive best friends with the way we were hugging each other, pearly whites adorning our faces.
All of a sudden my phone shot up from its discharge induced sleep and wouldn’t stop blinking. I thought it would commit suicide by buzzing right off the table.
“Looks like someone had a rough night lmao”
“Wow, partying hard huh?”
“Whose the hottie on the left?”
Thank god it was just my friends poking fun at me. I was not ready to face the criticism just yet. I was in too much pain to be angry at this point.
I sighed and flopped on to my bed wishing the earth would just swallow me up. How. Embarrassing. Also I had my cousins on Instagram. Would they tell my family?
I let out a slew of curses and got to dialing them but then I remembered they must still be sleeping cause of the time difference. I’ll just leave them a message when I get this headache off my back I thought to myself and got back up to get a glass of water.
Could this day get any worse?
Do No Wrong
“Fuck this country!” I yelled as I slammed my fist against a wall, as if to convince myself the act was an intentional manifestation of my anger than the precaution against drunken collapse it truly was. The events of the night were already fading as I stumbled into my home and fell into my old armchair. I frowned at my feet in front of me, seething at the incompetence of my fellow countrymen. “Sending it to Hell in a handbasket - voting in puppets and pigs!” I said, though if anyone had been around to hear it I imagine the words would have been incomprehensible.
I was a small-time journalist of an online post called The Patriot. My scant but loyal base of fans appreciated the provocative rhetoric with which I tackled issues in the United States such as complacent government and the growing globalist movement. I considered myself underrated, but had always chalked up the somewhat stagnant growth of my career to a combination of the relatively low publicity of the journal to which I contributed, and my tendency to stay away from the more passive and broad-reaching buzz-words preferred by my peers, who merely regurgitated the status-quo to appeal to the masses rather than speak from the heart. I looked contemptuously upon such pieces as the work of sellouts.
I sat, thinking of all my words falling on deaf ears, and found growing in myself the familiar spark of rage; the pent-up frustration of hammering a blunt chisel against a hunk of marble that would not yield its ugly form. I surged to my feet, barely holding out against a wave of dizziness, and sat down again at my desktop computer...
I was awoken by a beam of bright light peeking over the eastern mountain range and through my living room window. Squinting and shielding my eyes, I groggily raised my head off the desk at which I had apparently fallen asleep. Eventually heaving myself upright, I began brewing some coffee. I stared absently at the floor waiting on the machine, when the buzz of my smartphone on a nearby counter roused me from my stupor. I rarely paid the brief buzzes of minor notifications any mind, unless I was expecting an important email or some such thing. I began sipping my coffee and sat back down to continue working on my latest opinion piece. My focus, already worn thin by a pounding headache, was broken by a series of further notifications from my phone. I promptly powered it off and continued writing.
The number of comments my pieces received averaged at around 40 to 50. I perused them often and would reply to as many as I could. To my surprise, the piece I had published only the day before already had 51 comments. I smiled to myself that my work had finally begun to garner more recognition. I read the first comment:
I laughed. Hecklers were always amusing to me. I replied: “Thanks for the input! :)” The next few comments were standard praise from some of my readers I knew by name. I noticed the familiar profile picture of RoperRed, who reliably praised everything I published. He wrote:
“I thought better of you. All I’ll say is that it’s in your best interest to come out with an apology soon, and it had better be a good one.” At this I shook my head in confusion. Ah well, I thought. I suppose I said something he didn’t agree with. I replied: “I’m sorry to hear that you’re disappointed in me; I know you’ve supported my work for a long time. But I speak from the heart, I always have, and I won’t apologize for that.” Satisfied that I had stood firm, I continued reading. The negative comments vastly outnumbered the positive. I wondered what it was I had said that caused such a reaction. The piece was one expressing support for the American troops in Iraq, a common theme in many pieces of mine. None of the comments made the situation any clearer; they all merely expressed what seemed baseless and indiscriminate hatred. I began to grow worried that I had become the victim of some slander operation perpetrated by a competitor or offended party. I refreshed the page and found the number of comments had increased to 60. The first one listed was a reply back from RoperRed:
“Shameful. Hardest unsubscription of my life.” Before I could think of a response to this, I heard the front door open. I turned to see my wife, Vinna, who had spent the previous three days on a business trip for the insurance company she worked for as an agent. She smiled wide and let out a sharp sigh.
“Home at last!” She moved over to me and we shared a kiss.
“How was it?” I asked.
She gave that look that told me she had dealt with one idiot too many lately. I frowned my sympathy.
“Did you not get my text?” she asked.
“Ah, I didn’t, sorry. Phone was distracting me so I turned it off.”
She gave me a quizzical look. “Ok, well I was picking up some filets for the dinner we planned, and I sent you a picture to see which you liked the look of more. I had to choose myself as best I could.”
I grabbed my phone and powered it back on. Immediately it buzzed a notification. I glanced at the bar and saw it was from Twitter. I opened the app.
“I sent it as a text, babe, not a tweet.” Vinna laughed.
I slowly moved my finger towards my notifications.
I read the first thing that was written on my profile:
“FUCK AMERICA, FUCK AMERICANS, AND FUCK SOLDIERS FOR DEFENDING COWARDS AND PIGS”
My eyes briefly widened in horror before I remembered suddenly the previous night, and all the anger I had felt. Vinna read over my shoulder.
“Don, did you actually tweet that? What were you thinking?!”
I paused a moment before answering. I actually went and said that... I didn’t always get angry when I drank, but all the times I could remember when I was most furious, alcohol was always involved. I was so angry, but... I shrugged. “We both know this country’s headed towards a bad place, Vin. I just wanted people to start waking up.”
Vinna was silent for a moment, then said, “Did it blow up?”
“Then you need to apologize! This could ruin your career!”
I chuckled. “There’s no such thing as bad publicity, dear. I’m more well-known than ever because of this. I didn’t get to where I am by cowing down to a few hecklers. I’m standing by it.”
The home phone began to ring. I snatched it up and answered. “Hello?” I said, annoyed.
“Hello, Don.” Came the reply whose voice I recognized as Joan’s, my editor.
“Oh hey, Joan! What’s up?” I asked, nervous as to the reason behind this call.
“The Patriot’s in trouble, Don. We’re getting bombarded by media outlets.”
I buried my face in my hand and responded. “I... I’m sorry. I’ll delete the tweet, put out an apology, do whatever it takes...”
“You’ve made this rather difficult, Don. It seems you’ve already given your statement; that your words were spoken “from the heart.”
“That was- I-I didn’t know at the time-”
“That hardly matters now. The hard truth is, there’s no longer a scenario where you make it through this with us and we aren’t portrayed as supporting the message you gave. It’s been decided - you’re being let go.”
My whole body went numb. I let the phone drop from my hand. I heard Vinna begin to cry.
“Today on TNM we have Mr. Don Cowper, a former journalist for the online news site The Patriot, whose controversial tweet has sparked outrage.”
I sat facing the camera, dressed presentably.
“The first thing I want to ask you, Mr. Cowper, were you of sound and sober mind when you tweeted this?”
The woman hosting the news show paused for a moment, as if expecting me to say more. She continued, “Ok, and given all that has happened to you this past week, with the harassment and the loss of your job, do you regret what you said?”
“I... I regret how people reacted to it. I’m a passionate American, and I just believe a little fiery language is what’s necessary to motivate people these days.”
“Now hang on, Mr. Cowper. In the same sentence you just referred to yourself as a ‘passionate American’ who supports the message ‘F America.’ How does that work?”
“I only meant that America as it is now is something rather shameful compared to what it has been in the past.”
She laughed. ”‘America is shameful.’ I think I understand the kind of person you are, Mr. Cowper. I just have one question left. What are you going to do next?”
“Find a job where writing like mine isn’t silenced, if a place like that exists.”
She laughed again, harder. “Given all that’s happened, ‘silent’ is the last word I would use to describe this situation. Well, Mr. Cowper, we’re out of time. Thank you for joining us.”
I nodded curtly.
I lay in bed that night, sleepless. Vinna had to see to an emergency with one of her clients, so I was alone. I had since deleted the tweet; the replies were full of threats of death and violence. One even listed out my full home address. I heard the creak of the front door opening and rose to meet my wife. To my horror, the figure standing in the doorway was not Vinna.
The woman who had invaded my home stared with blank eyes that looked through me rather than at me. I glanced around. The best weapon within reach was a half-empty bottle of wine, which I took up. “Who are you, and why are you in my home?” I asked, trying to sound calm.
“You...” she breathed. Her head trembled, and her jaw worked wordlessly. In her hand, I now noticed, was a long kitchen knife. “My son... your fault.” A tear streaked down her face.
At this I grew terrified, and angry. “You’re talking nonsense! Get out of here before you get hurt!”
“I TOLD HIM NOT TO GO!” she shrieked. “THE LAST THING HE SHOWED ME BEFORE ENLISTING WAS WRITTEN BY YOU!” She broke into sobbing.
“What are you? An escaped mental patient? I-”
“You didn’t even believe...” She took a wobbly step towards me, and I retreated, holding the wine bottle threateningly. “You didn’t even believe in what you made him think was right! You’re a monster!” She made to lunge with the blade, and I smashed the bottle across her cheek. The knife fell from her hand, which I quickly grabbed, and brandished in front of me.
“It’s over. Get out now, and I won’t call the police.”
She looked up at me, bleeding from jagged wounds made by the broken glass, and shook her head weakly. “I’d already lost his father to cancer. I have nothing now.” She advanced, and leapt with sudden ferocity to grab the hand in which I held the knife. She dug hard into the veins on the underside of my wrist, forcing me to let go. Retrieving the blade, she then pinned me down with strength belied by her thin frame. As she prepared to bury the knife, I scrabbled nearby for a shard of glass, and thrust hard at her neck. Her jaw seized up, she produced a sickening gurgle, and blood began to stream. I pushed her off of me and sat up. The grisly scene swirled before my vision, my traumatized mind hardly capable of cognition. For awhile I simply sat there, only faintly aware of just how much the life I had known had been shattered. I glanced at the woman’s body. In her hand was a slip of paper. It was a newspaper clipping that read:
“In honor of our fallen soldiers, we regrettably but respectfully list below the latest reported casualties in the ongoing war:”
One name stood out to me.
Rosemary is for remembrance
The phone bleeps, that horrible noise messenger makes is repeating constantly, I rub my eyes and crawl out of the mess my bed has become.
I don’t remember going to bed, my head hurts, the phone is ringing, who’d be ringing me? Everyone knows I don’t answer phones, it stops, then it starts again. I drag myself down to the kitchen, yes the phone is in the kitchen I don’t take it to bed, If MI5 tried to track me by my phone all they would discover is the whereabouts of my kitchen. I simply don’t like answering it. I pick it up and swipe ignor then notice there are 73 unanswered calls. Seventy three! Seventy three! bugger them, it’s my day off, they can deal with it themselves. I turn the phone off.
Operning the cupboard door I find myself staring a an empty rum bottle, alcohol and me don’t get on, and I don’t ever remember buying rum. But more importantly, far more importantly, it stands next to an empty Nescafé jar, I might not be friends with alcohol but caffeine and me have a very close relationship.
The landline starts to ring, I have a landline? Obviously I do but I have no idea where it is and the noise is hurting my head, I ignore it and head up to the bathroom.Washed and doused up on painkillers I head out to my local coffee shop, as I lock the front door I experienced a flash back of coming home with a bottle in my hand.
Lannie hands me the first coffee of the morning and gives me an odd look,
“checked your FB page this morning?”
“ no, my iPads fla, forgot to charge it overnight”
“well you should, there’s a few folk want to talk to you”
Our local news hound spots me in the cafe, doubles back and bustles in
“Fran don’t you ever answer the phone?” he bellows across the room
“Is it true.? They say the Bishops on his way”
“what“ I say screwing my face up and shaking my head
“What you wrote, the beeb’s sending a crew down, give us a scoop this morning, I need the money.”
I remember a typing something , my blood runs cold.
I run up the hill back home, fumbling for my keys I remember a few more bits, no I didn’t, surely not. I plug my pad in an flash up the offending page
my face is scarlet, tears are running down my face
I hear a vehicle outside, rush round, close all the blinds lock all windows and doors turn off all the lights and creep up to my little attic studio.
I sit down cross legged on the floor and reread the page, it’s too late to delet, it’s been copied and shared. I should never have written it it’s outrageous, defamitory and unbelievable. Unfortunately, every word is true. I think life is about to get very hard for a unassuming florist in a small market town.
suddenly I see the absurdity of it all and start to laugh, my world is about to fall to pieces round me and all I can do is laugh.
Death on Church Lane
The road runs right up against a field. The truck sputters to a stop, stuck in a rut. Four young white men climb out of the truck, look around, wonder where they hell they are. Looks like something from a picture book, Old South and all that. Fields full of bent over niggers.
What you doin wit those fancy duds, boy?
A black man on a mule looks down at Jim Bob, then over at his three truckmates.
Who you callin Boy, boy? Jim Bob sneers.
What about them other three, they fancy clothes and them fallin down H on they necks?
Aint no H, fool, volunteers one of the other three white men. It’s a double lightning bolt. It means we’re white and you ain’t.
You sure as hell ain’t neither, snarls the man from his mule. I oversees all the niggers on this here plantation and you one of ’em. All four y'all. Why Marster bought four new uppity niggers sure do beat all. Now get your black ass too work, all of you, fore you feel this. From muleback the overseer waves a horsewhip.
The four new slaves look down at themselves. Dungarees and sweatshirts like every male in 1950. Except the iron crosses on the shirts. They'd been were headed for a White Power rally in Churchville, Mississippi. Till the driver, Jimbob, drove through the wrong lane.
I told you it wasn’t no weigh station, Jimbo, mumbles one of the four. It was some kind of portal like you see in movies. We are someplace else than where we come from or where we was goin. Look over there. Nigger with a plow. Plow! Shee-it. Aint nobody used a plow like that in a hunnerd years.
Jimbo looks down at his hands. Spreads them out, turns them over so the mule rider can see the pink palms.
We are white men, you fool nigger! You better watch your black mouth!
The mule rider laughs long and loud and the other black men working the field snicker.
This whip gonna tear your black skin off, snarls the overseer. He's not laughing any more.
The whip comes down. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again.
What we gonna do with they dead bodies? a field worker asks.
You gonna haul em to that contraption they come in. Stuff em inside.
We oughta go see can we find they horses or they mules, whatever drug that tin wagon.
They long gone, says the man on the mule. You try to take off look for em you gonna die. The mule man rubs his pistol. A handful of the field slaves obey the order to get the bodies gone.
Here in Churchville they say somewhere on Church Lane there’s a broken down, rusted out pickup truck full of dead iron-cross wearing white men going nowhere. Every Halloween local kids dare each other to go look for it. But by now it's probably rotted to the ground, the bloody black-dirt ground.
There's fear and surprise sprinkled with a just a hint of admiration in their incredulous faces as I walk to my cubicle.
I walk, though my reptilian brain, firing on all cylinders, screams at me to run.
I walk. And I sit.
My own little domain. My 24 inch monitor, the window to the masterfully crafted digital kingdom of my own creation. The little bobbleheads of Freddy, Jason, Pinhead, and Mike, my loyal subjects, always ready to gleefully agree with their jittery heads.
Like a cat unsheathing his claws, my fingers curl, ready to type the secret word that will open up the kingdom for business.
But my fingers barely touch the keys before I have my first interruption of the day. Its expected, of course. Though the form it takes is most surprising.
"Morning, Nat. How can I help you?"
Nat is mousy even on her bravest days, and yet it is she, and she alone, who musters the courage to approach. How odd.
"So that, um, post you made last night? With the video?"
I am not often surprised, certainly not by someone like Nat, but, all of sudden, I must begrudgingly admit that I have no clue as to what she is referring to.
"But you have to remember. It was...Are you sure you don't remember?"
"Yeah, Nat, I'm sure. What's going?" I ask, reaching for my phone. "What, did I post another drunken rant again? Who did I offend this time?"
She stares at me in utter disbelief.
"You...you really don't know?"
"I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, Nat. Oh, right. Millennial. See, records were like the MP3 of my generation. Wait. No. They were like youtube videos, but without the video, just the sound, and they came in huge, black discs the size of a dinner plate and---"
"So sorry to interrupt. Good morning, Joseph. Nat, could I see you in my office?"
I can smell Leslie before I hear her, let alone see her. That damn perfume. Something to do with TVs. Or is it rivers? I can never keep it straight. All I know is that I hate it.
Nat looks from me to her, as though weighting her options.
"Now, Nat," Leslie commands, all but making the decision for her.
Nat follows her into the office with her head down. A swivel of my creaky chair---really have to remember to fix that---and I'm once again in front of my window. I log in, pretending to busy myself while I catch bits and pieces of Leslie and Nat's conversation.
"....just worried. Did you see...?"
"...I didn't think it was real..."
"...Called in sick or something?"
"...They're on their..."
Every time. Every. Time. He yells my name like he's looking for a lost pig in his sister-mom's redneck backyard.
"Hey, Doug." The man has the emotional intelligence of an amoeba, so my frigid tone goes completely over his head.
"You hard at work or hardly workin'? Heh heh," says the comedian Doug, rattling the back of my chair to accentuate the joke he's told on a weekly basis for the last five years.
God, how I just wish...
"Oh, someone's grumpy today. Alright, alright. I'll let you be. I just figured you'd missed me, after I've been gone for two weeks."
"You've been gone for two weeks?"
"Ho! Joey made a funny! Nice. Nice. Hey, listen. You seen Pat? He was supposed to pick me up last night, but I ended up catching an Uber. I know Darcy has him wrapped around her little finger, so I didn't think nothin' of it, and I figured I'd kick his ass today, but he ain't seen 'im."
Pat. His brother. His twin brother. The slightly lesser evil. The more tolerable evil.
"No, I haven't seen him."
"Eh, alright. I guess I'll...Huh? Me?"
From behind her desk, Leslie motions to Doug.
"Heh heh. Guess she missed me too. See ya, Joey."
God. How many times, how many ways have I...
Leslie closes the door. Not entirely unusual on its own, but then she closes the blinds too.
I get back to work, or rather, start to work. I lose myself in the code, in the fixing of the broken. For hours, I get into almost hypnotic state, typing and retyping, editing, bits and pieces of text.
I'm jolted from my trance by the arrival of security. Two middle age, overweight failed cops who couldn't catch a cold if it was passed out in front of them. They're more Abbott and Costello than Stabler and Benson. They shoot contemptous look my way. This is the first I've ever paid them more than two seconds worth of attention.
They knock on Leslie's door and a swiftly ushered inside by Nat. I meet her eyes and try to mouth a question. Eyes down, she shakes her head and closes the door.
I try to search for a reference volume in the bookcase behind me, only to stop after the second title on the shelf. They are muffled, yes, but they are unmistakenly screams. Doug's screams.
I give a title jump as the door to Leslie's office rattles. The ensuing commotion gets me on my feet. I head for the door.
"Everything's okay!" shouts Leslie, poking her head out of the door, looking as suprised to see me as I am to see her.
"You sure? Doesn't sound like."
"Y-yes, Joseph. Everything's fine. A-are you going somewhere? Do you mind sticking around? I have to discuss something with you."
The sudden crash behind her makes us both jump.
"What's going on in there, Leslie?"
"Rats. I think."
"Don't worry about it, alright? Just...Don't go anywhere, alright?"
She slams the door shut as I return to my desk.
My search for the book is fruitless. Frustrated, I start to head out to the research library down the hall, only to remember that I am bound to my desk by the almighty supervisor. I plop down on my chair, and half heartedly attack a problem I know I can't solve.
I give up after an hour.
At that point, the security guards emerge.
"You catch em?"
The guards look at me. The contempt is all but gone now. Is that...fear in their eyes?
"Not yet, no," says lanky Abbott. He sounds like he chugged a bottle of sand.
Without waiting for a reply, they both walk away, glancing back before leaving the room. Costello takes a walkie-talkie and says something into, all the while keeping eye contact with me. Weirdo.
Unable to solve my problem, and chained to my own desk, I opt for an early lunch. Leftover steak, bloody rare, with some luke warm mashed potatoes. It's not great, but it gets the job done.
I chew through the rubbery steak, savoring the copper taste of the oozing blood.
Damn Leslie. Can't even reheat my damn food.
As though in answer to my inner thoughts, the blinds partly open. It's Leslie. We lock eyes and she, evidently satisfied that I have not fled my three wall prison, closes the blind again.
The potatoes, lumpy with clumps of congealed fat and butter, make me gag to the point where I lose what's left of my appetite. I walk to the corner of the room, scrape the leftovers into the trash. As I head back to my cubicle, the main door of the office opens.
Two men enter, glittery shields having from their necks.
"Joseph Long?" says one of the men, tall and muscular. I imagine he tackled tightends before he tackled suspects. The guy reeks of cop.
"Sir, put your hands behind your head," says the equally tall, but stockier detective as he walks towards me with brandished handcuffs.
Their voices become like white noise. I know they are speaking, but my ears don't make out the sound.
I do, eventually, as I'm being led out of the office, catch a few words.
"Arrest." "Murder." "Pat."
I hear the blinds open. Leslie, Nat, and Doug watch me as the doors close behind me. There is fear, anger, and dissappointment in their faces.
I'm in the back of a police car now. I take out my phone, search my videos. I play the most recent one, without the volume.
"You might not want to say anything till we get to the station there, guy," says the quarterback detective in the passenger seat.
I ignore him. I am seething with rage and dissappointment.
I throw the phone against the window. The video is done. It's me and Pat. Then Pat. Then me. Then me and Pat again. And then, finally, just me. Me and only me, bathed in red.
And all I can think of, the only thing I can think of is...I killed the wrong one.
#Fiction #Mystery #Challenge
Mrs President!, Mrs President!
I am Mr. Challenge from Prose News and we will like you to explain your recent post.
Pardon me sir, I am not awhere of posting anything recently.
Ma'am on the Writers Co. on your public account @FreshwaterFish you left a comment
stating that drinking whiskey is like water to you, you can walk in a straight line but might of had a DUI or two.
What an outrageous slander! I the President would not post such a thing!
But Mrs President it was posted on your public domain.
Sir, well it is not true!
Well Mrs President the public does not believe you.
My candidacy has been transparent for the world to see.
That may be true Mrs President but, can you say you have never drank whiskey?
Mr Challenge I have nothing more to say. Have a nice day.
Mrs President!, Mrs. President!, are you really running away!?
I am infront of a catheral, I only came to pray.
In the catheral Mrs. President could not fathom
The whiskey incident or her other action that night which was very random.
Madame President please sit in the chair
Mister secretary whispered in her ear.
What. are we going to do Mister sectetary?
It seems like I am about to loose my candidacy.
Online I am trending number one
As an alcoholic, an abuser of power, and as a scum.
Well Madame President they could of called you a prostitute
Watch yourself Mister secretary now is not the time for you to be obtuse!
How much longer can we hide in here?
As long as we like, the Bishop has received all his donation/charity moneys he wouldn't dare.
We have to devise a plan, before we go out there to meet that man.
You mean your new fan, Mr. Challenge from Prose News?
Isn't it funny how he was the first to bring up that issue.
It is a good thing you have thick skin and is not fragile as tissue.
Shut up! Mister secretary and do your job!
Calm done Madame President, you are in a church of god.
Beside your publicist is already on it.
She already is holding a press conference trying to appease the public.
What you need to do
Madame President is to apologise.
Do you want them to see through the lies?
But I didn't do any of what they are saying.
That maybe true, but you know it is the blame game we are playing.
Hypothetically, the public are like your children
But they later found out that you are barren
Yes you loved them, fed them, clothed them, and give them shelter.
But that one little lie about their birth is all they can remember.
So yes Madame President you need to apologise.
You are a mother, their mother, in the public eyes
Your publicist emailed me the script you need to follow
You are to cry and beg for forgiveness, so you won't look shallow.
Put some holy water in your eye
Why would I do that?
The amount of hands dipped in that dish, bacteria are in there swimming like a school of wild fish.
Ready to go?
Let's give them a show,
Here she come!, here she comes!
Mrs. President!, Mrs. President!, what did you pray for?
Did you find the answer to my question behind the catheral door?
Oh? and you are?
Challenge from Prose News Mrs. President.
Mrs President knew that this was her cue, to do what she alone can do
I am sorry for causing the public such unrest
I really thought that I was doing my best
I knew that my stand on equality for all will make me some foes
But I didn't expect them to be right under my nose.
I am not apologising because the whiskey incident is true
But because I fail to protect myself, and if I can't do that, how can I protect you
I fought for lower taxes for the lower class and the poor,
Immigration, equal rights and pay
But look at what greeted me at the catheral door
As hard working as I am, do you think I could drink whiskey like water and still stand?
That is a risk I can't take
After pledging my loyalty to this people, and to this land, it is a pledge I WILL NOT break!
I will leave the investigation of this incident in capable hands
They will find the culprit whether man or woman
So Mrs. President are you saying you were hacked and this incident is not true?
Mr. Challenge from Prose News right?
If someone accused you of plagiarism and falsifying articles to stay relevant in the news industry
Won't you dispute the claims and try to clear your name in a hurry?
Then Mrs. President lift up her head
The crowds that had gathered gasp
For her eyes were swollen, puffy and red.
The holy water had done its' job
Mrs. President came out of the situation looking like a heroin
But Mr. Challenge from Prose News looked like a bad guy and a snob.
Mister secretary whisked Mrs. President away, without further delay
The case was closed after some weeks
Ofcourse it was blamed on the Sussian hackers and the Senator Leeks
Challenge hand in his resignation, but Prose News told him to take a vacation
And for Mrs. Persident, she may not have written that post but what she was doing that night is not something she can boast.