They paved the road with good intention, but that proved to crack under all the constant travel...you think the potholes on the interstate are bad? Wait till you see the chunks taken out of the highway to the sixth circle...
On smoking, gun control and strawberry sodas
The red bottle stood there, next to it was the green one, then the darker ones, purple, and black, of course there were also pinks and oranges and yellows, but they, along with the ice-coffee sat on a different shelf.
Abraham Lincoln bent down as he checked the stock. He seldom changed anything with the display. As with many other things, It was a matter of philosophy; the regulars knew where their favorites were . the non-regulars, or those frw who were feeling zany would normally take the time and inspect things thoroughly , possibly looking for something new and exotic.
Combinations of things, Abe thought, are really the spice of life. We've pretty much exhausted the possibility of any real newness. With sodas, and flavors we are more likely to drive one of the plant-ingredients to extinction, then find a totally new one. And that isn't to say that there aren't new fruit or new possibilities. Its just that for whatever reason, be it commercial limitations, logistical difficulties, religious intolerence or the unbearable timidity of the taste-testers . whatever be the reason, they do not make it to the standard line of possible ingredients. All you got left with, is the old stuff.
In his wandering Abe had explored and enjoyed the jackfruit, the waxberry, the akiaki, the sapota, but if their juices were ever bottled , they were not available with the distributors he worked with.
The last of the stocking up was completed, the cardboard and plastic neatly bundled into packs and left in the proper bins.
"Morning Linc " was what he heared as he walked back in, slightly bending, to not hit the lintel. When the place was built, men of his hight were not considered likely to be using the service entrance.
It was Louis , The fourteenth of his name, who regally came to buy snacks.
'How is the novel going?' Abe adressed the sun-king.
'Meah' was all the guy had to say. They settled up quickly, with the french buying two cans of tomato soup, bread, chocolate , funions, and oddly, Bugles. He did not buy smokes, which explained possibly the odd choice. Abe knew well thebcapricious nature of the monarch, and his erratic attempts at quitting cigarettes..
But Abe did not judge. He looked with compassion and concern over both his business and community.
But not everything is work. And Abe was no stranger to diversion. He binged watching stuff on his cellphone . the current issue of his interest was an relative oldie called "Lost". people on an island escaping things. Always something intetesting and mysterious. Abe often wondered if things would have turned out diffrently if he had not pursued a career in politics. But all that old stuff was behind him. Television though was only getting better. He decided that since all the work was completed dilligently, he desrved a treat to go along with the episode.
What choice enticed the great emancipator varied greatly. But it was the strawberry soda that grabbed him.
Strawberry soda was not a popular item for the most part. It is a wonder, that for all the approximating of taste and attempts at appealing to customers, strawberry sodas were somehow always the second , third, or even last choice. Age, race, gender, historical period, fictional or real-life. No one went through the shelf and chose the strawberry soda unless something serious was happening. Or there was some gross shortage , which Abe did his best to prevent.
He then took the bottle of strawberry soda and held it , pausing for a moment to take in he gravity of his actions.
There is still time to turn back, he told himself. Not every impulse must be followed through with action. But there shall be no relief either from coming empty handed. He commited himself to the act and uncapped the bottle , hearing the fizzle of the liquid. He tasted the drink hesitantly.
When was the last time i had tried a strawberry soda?
Did I give it a serious evaluation, or jumped to the more familair things?
Here is this thing I am doing, he mused, it is surprisingly good, and yet I might have gone through life entirely without a try , were it not for the fact that today I had to stock the shelves and king Louis came and the air was just right.
If things were different I would no doubt have not tried. What other possibilties have I neglected by routinly going through my life?
He took another sip and savored it. Sodas all have some sournss, a trace of bitter and a ton of sugar. There is very little variblity for the drinks actually, and yet it was always such a fixed set of choices.
The cap rested on the counter, the neat grooves imbedded on the side, to allow for greater ease when opening appealed to him aesthetically. Experiencing things on a more fundamental level then merely causually glancing at them was something that Abe concerned himself often.
Why is it that I occupy my mind with grooves on a plastic cap and not, on other things. Could it be that the thought about things is an echo of deeper thoughts, which are in turn echos of further depth and so on. A never ending chain of random obsessions. He drank and mused.
He made his decisiion to NOT watch another episode of Lost. Instead, Abe tunned in to a performance of Beethoven's 3 rd symphony. The heavy galloping of the first motif of the first movement soon filled the convnience store. Washing the shelves with waves of sounds.
Ahh, would that packets of potato chip and prezels, could be moved emotionally by the powerful music.
Abe recalled , how many years prior, he attended a concert, where this very creation was performed. In his youth. he was not exposed to such splendor, and so was unprepared for what he would hear. Perhaps he would have apprciated things differently, with education. But like strawberry sodas, it is the unexplained course of things that brings you to the events or the decisions that matter, regardless of your peperation or preconditions.
The deeper concerns of running the the store seldom troubled him. He knew that a convenience store is an enterprise that, given enough maintanace, is able to be sustained for remarkable lengths of time. They never bring in a mass wealth, but somehow, despite the slowness of trade at specific moments durng the day, somehow manage to stay in the black. he owned and oparated that store for the last ten years and had never exactly emassed the wealth of Cressus, but was nevertheless able to provide for his needs.
He drank more of the soda, as a the alluded heroic Gallant galloped his way through to a more somber motif, which was introduced by the oboes. Perhaps it was an imagined wretch , whom the knight met on his road, pleading for help. Soon the oboe was joined by more pleading by flutes and then strings. It was as if the mere cry of a single unfortunate is repalced by the cries of an entire class of the downtrodden. These pitiable persons and their woodwind representation, are then drowned in a hush, and the the hero goes through his heroic motif once more, shrugging this gloom with a tremmollo of strings. Perhaps this was a 'bungled and the botched' thing, where those that suffer and are defeated are mostly their own impediment. If that is the case , than it was not the hero meeting the miserable, but the hero encountering his own misery and not allowing it to drag him down.
Abe drank more of the soda, and mused more on the subject
The intensity of the music was high. It was towards the end of the funeral march, when the villan came in. His innitial attmpts to draw Abe's attention were drowned in the music, and Abe's grandiose daydreaming. But by the time the thundering subsided, Abe was quite aware of the fact that he was being threatned and his store was being pillaged.
The burgler and his massive hunting rifle , which was refashioned with industry and precision to be a tool of illigality was now pointing at Abe's head.
'Turn off the music' commanded the brigand.
'Sure thing, sir. How may I help?' said Abe, he regretted that he may not live to replay this music, should this turn violent. Sad too, as he liked the scherzzo movement very much.
'I would require you to hand me all of your money.'
'All of it?'
'All of it!' Confirmed the villain.
'I merely wished to establish your desire for all cash that I hold in the store. '
'Yes. This is what i asked. ' said the bandit curtly 'I don't know what you are trying to do, but it's not worth it, ultimately ...if you'll have your head shot off in the end'
'Oh..no..no..I do not have any such intention of doing anything untowards. On the contrary, but...you see.. It's just that I have little cash money. Some of it is even in coins. I would be surprised, thst's all, if you'll be intetested in the pennies, and dimes...'
'And why not?! A buck's a buck! Even if it's divided into twelve pieces. Now hand over all your little pieces, and big pieces...'
'And my gun?' Asked Abe
The criminal, who was relatively short in stature, took that as a threat.
'Wow, for a guy being robbed, you sure take this easy. Yeah, the gun too, definitely.'
'But I dont have a gun'
'What do you mean you don't have a gun?' The bandit demanded.
'Oh. I just don't. Never liked those things'
'Well..' And abes conversatoonal style moved the ruffian into lowering the barrels a bit. 'what then, was the reason for you to offer it, if you don't have one?' He demanded
'Well, my friend, this is not my first robbery. Not even the first one THIS WEEK. So I know my..emm customers..'
'And they often ask for firearms?'
'interesting. I have burglerized, robbed and mugged, raped pillaged and massacred..and yet, it never occured to me to collect other people's weapons!""
'Never...I'll tell you even more. It somehow seems wrong to do so. what , d'you suppose the others who frequented your establishment ever wanted the guns for, if they so asked for them?'
'Oh.. Hard to say....maybe it was to prevent me from using the gun as they walked away. Which I assure you is not the case, as i am not in any way in possession of a firearm.'
'Yeah..that may be the case..'
'OR...you know just wondering...you know, I've actually given this matter some thought...you know, if you'd like to hear...'
'I would ...It's a new world to me really...I guess we can say you have a head start on me in that respect....so..why do you think the other robbers want the guns?'
'Well...beside disarming and threat reduction..?'
'Well let's see. First off, obviously would be practical reasons..'
'Maybe they hope I can furnish them with a better gun than they already have'
'I don't buy that . ' said the robber, showing off his weapon.
'I pride myself on the guns that I own. '
'Yes, well...let's assume, that not all who occupy themselves with armed robbery, are so well-equipped. Maybe they are amatures. Biginners. By the way..is there some kind of apprenticeship process, where you learn from a mentor the art of robbery?'
'No. Well.. Maybe.. but that has not been my experience'
'Yeah..how about other motivations for requesting thr guns?'
'Oh..yeah..sorry...well. Maybe the criminal would hope to take posession of a gun as a transferrable commodity'
'Oh..selling it off?'
'Then why not ask for other merchendice?'
'Oh...occasionally they do. Cigaretts, booze.. Oh, by the way, do you like strawberry sodas?'
'That's a strange thing to bring up in a heist!'
'I know...I know... But today ..you know I got this irresistable urge to get a strawberry soda. Had these here in the fridge for ages, no one seemed interested..just wondered why? You know what I mean? They're not any better or worse than other fruit to put in a soda. But they always get the last pick...'
'Yeah...yeah...that's very strange. I can't remember ever having a strawberry soda. '
'Care to try?'
'Oh..I'll take a bottle, sure. But could you open it for me. I need to keep a hand on the trigger and all that'
And Abraham Lincoln took out another strawberry soda. He opened it and handed it out to the criminal, who took a hesitant sip, and smiled.
Abe took a sip of his bottle as well.
'Yeah.... now.. Listen. Now that we're talking. I think it's a rare moment in burgler/shopkeeper relstions, when there is a dialogue like this...wouldn't you say?'
'It is unfortunate. Most of these incidents are ...emm...concluded very quickly..not much time given to conversation'
'I agree. It's a shame. ...well I want to know a few things...'
'Sure thing. one of my professional responsibilities, as I see it, is to provide information, if possible'
'well..nice...let's start...emm..ever been shot?'
'Oh..yes. Shot towards, shot at, and then just shot...yes...once....never through, never shot through. '
'I see... Ok, so...if you don't mind..'
'not at all, not at all. Ask away. I think this exchange is important...'
'Did it hurt?'
'Well. I was shot in the head. Never felt anything...I mean emotionally it was a setback, for sure.'
'I see. Would you say than that , if the incident would have had more of a physical aspect, ...would you have bought a gun?'
'I tend to think not. It is never a cost effective measure, really. I don't see myself proficiant enough at firearm employment, to match even the least adept assailant, while it is certainly cheaper to just hand over the money."
'Oh, so you have had occasion to use a firearm?'
'Several occassions. I was a soldier for a short time, and grew up where using a gun, would enrich your meal by far. '
'So you were good at huntin'?'
'I said, WOULD and referred to the locality. Hypotheticals are really wonderful things, but you can't eat them. I would have eaten richly on gopher or even raccoon, but I couldn't even hit a dead turkey. Maybe it's a coordination thing. I'm really quite clumsy, sad to say.'
'I see. You know, the implied threat of a firearm is often enough to cause many of my colleagues to rethink their approach. '
'I have heard that, true. But posing a threat, possibly brings out a less rational side of the individual, and there could be unexpected reactions.. You know..excude me.. I try to call on the better angles within the hearts of those I deal with, to pay for the commodities they hope to acquire, or at least conclude their robberies amicably, as you are. '
'It is quite devisive, you know.'
'Yes. I know. It is regrettable. Still I see people overcoming their disagreements ecentually.'
'Then you see this argument concluded someday in the future?'
'Certainly. I am an optimist'
'Then , I presume that the conclusion you foresee, would be one where I am bereft of my beloved guns?'
'You shall not be bereft, as a widower, of a loved one. There will be no mourning.. It will be a happy moment , where you will grasp something else as lovingly as you hold your shotgun. '
'I can see no such resolution'
'Well. I do not know all that shall transpire. But I can say that either all possess a gun in envntual outcome, or none shall. If all possess a gun, then guns would not be special or practical ...or even threatning... as you have yourself suggested. And so , it may come to pass in one way or the other. But if you so do not expect my foretelling. Answer me this question'
'Ask then, my friend'
'Did you expect, as the dawn broke today, that later on, you will be drinking a strawberry soda with a shopkeeper who is wearing uncomfortable shoes?'
'No, sir. I did not. And you have my deepest condolance for your discomfort. I have worn ill-fitting footware, and know the pain which you feel'
'Thank you, for your sympathy. I merely wanted to demonstrate the unexpected , yet fortuitous nature of life, as well as the capability we all have for sympathy and understanding' said Abe 'those are two of the pillars on which our lives and sanity holds firm.'
'Truly, you have.'
'Then lastly, I wish to demonstrate another such pillar, onwhich our existance rests. Hello there, Estherflowers!'
It was then that the assailant felt to cold sting of a blade upon his neck.
'Is that a strawberry soda I see in front of me?' Asked the lady.
'It is indeed. ' said Abraham Lincoln, the former president, and prudent shopkeeper.
'I have not seen a strawberry soda for a long time. '
'funny, but we had them stocked here at all times'
'Well I guess I shall have to rob you of one.. Well just as soon as we dispatch this desperado. ' she exclaimed. And as the bandit turned to see his opponent, his expression changed to that of terror. For he saw that the metal blade that was touching his neck, extended in a slight, but precisely made curve, and terminated in a artfully decorated Tsuba or handguard. It was unmistakable. In his own voyages , the robber had only once before beheld such wonderous craftsmenship.
'How come you by this Katana? It bears a familiar mark.' Whispered the marrauder, in awe.
'It should be known to you, brigand. As it has appeared in the hands of many who took up the noble art. But 'tis no katana that you see, but a sharp wit. '
'Yes!' Exclaimed Abe, in acknowledgment. 'She has bought items in my store before, and though her ninja ways are secretive, she posesses much in the literatary skill, for which I hold much asteem. Much more in fact than a mere sharpened slab of metal. But, come, my good lady, and lower your sword. I hope there will be no need of bloodshed , here beside the discount soft beverage display. Let us lower our guards, and enjoy the drink, which we have so rarely come across. '
'I shall lower my guard, for no one' hissed the ninja-assassin-poet. 'But I will agree to lower my weapon, if it is to be reciprocated by the robber'
'I shall not disarm myself, all know of the way of samurais and ninjas, and the swiftness of their action, once they have decided. No. If anything, I shall inform you, my good lady, that if you observe my hand carefuly, you shall find that the barrel of my gun is directed at the proprietor of this fine establishment. His center mass, to be exact. I need not to point the weapon at his head to extinguish his life, should i choose. A shotgun, such as this, will create a mortal opening in my newly acquired friend. I shall regret it deeply, but I repay threat with counterthreat. ' he said.
'Alas, we seem to be in a mexican standoff, exclaimed the ninja.
'It is so, I'm afraid. ' said the bandit.
' friends! this is not necessary. I have pledged the contents of my cash register to you, and shall not renage. It will sadden me greatly to see such needless strife. One of you holds mastery of thought and language, one of you a lethal firearm. But we can find common ground, my friends. Let us heal this rift, with a soda, and talk no more of bloodshed'
'It is tempting' said Estherflowers ' perhaps, if you could reach to whereever you had the strawberry soda hidden, and bring forth a bottle, AND open it for me, I can embibe, with you. I could easily decapitate this ruffian with but one hand. And he, seems to be quite capable of shooting you, with one hand as well. If we can come to terms on mutual acceptance of the condition, I shall agree. '
'I do so agree' declared the robber. And Abraham Lincoln, arguably one of history's finest orrators, brought forth a third bottle of red colored, bubbling, thirst slaking strawberry soda, from the display. He uncapped the bottle and handed the bottle to the mysterious ninja. She took a long drought of the beverage, and smiled. 'Interesting...but I would still choose other sodas. '
'Well...not for everyone.' Said Abe, somewhat dissapointed.
Anti-climactic even' murmurred the robber.
'Well...I think we still need to find a way to resolve this. ' said Abe at last. 'You know my opinions on firearms, Esther, and obviously you, too prefer a more classical approach to self defense, what are we to do?'
'I see no resolution here. ' said the bandit 'are we to be left standing like this until a day will come and all mankind disarm themselves, as you so opptimisticaly expressed?'
'perhaps. ' said Abe, 'but I think sooner than that, a customer shall come. It is true my business is lacking in volume. But convenince stores such as this often have surprising turnouts in the long run.'
'Indeed' said Estherflowers 'I too, was moved to come here for needs of a material nature. '
'Which strawberry soda was not one' said the bandit,
'Yes. Just so'
'I see. In that case, time is limited' said the bandit, and drained the contents of his bottle, making a slight burp. 'Forgive me. But if it is to be resolved with haste, then I shall at least have the satisfaction of a generous dose of sugar.'
'You are forgiven that' said the ninja, and drank deeply as well, but did not make a sound.
'I would still prefer sarsaparilla, or a ginger ale, or even a bitter lemon for a soda. '
'Yes. ' said the bandit. 'And you did not burp'.
'Mastery of self control is the first step to become a ninja'
'I shall drain my bottle as well for solidarity's sake' said Abraham Lincoln, author of the Gettysburg address. But as Abe reached to grasp his drink, a miracle happened; the bottle, which was long standing now, was much covered in condensation. This made it very slippery. Abe's large hand (much larger than other, more recent presidents), squeezed the bottle a tad too hard. It was to his dismay, that the precious bottle, flew out of his cumbersome hands, hitting the bandit. The force of the bottle as it impacted the bandit's head was not particularly strong. the locality of the impact, right above the bridge of the nose, would have been most dramatic, but unlike the story of David and Goliath, it did not kill the criminal, and in any case, Abraham Lincoln was far taller than him. But as he was holding an empty soda bottle of his own in one hand, and a shotgon in his other he was therefore unable to deal with the sudden clash of the plastic . he raised his hands reflexively, and discharged his firearm in an uncontrolled manner. Estherflowers, being swift of action and exhibiting extraudinary situational awarness, which many of even the greatest of ninja masters lack, realized that the unaimed shot, could not be repeated by the bandit , whithout manually activating the reloading mechenism. She wasted no time and faster than lightning, decapitated the bandit. The sharpness of her blade was such, that the head remained upon the man's neck, which reduced the spray of blood to a minimum, and later saved Abe quite a lot of cleaning. The bandit's face turned to mournfull, blank acceptence. His legs buckled under him, and he fell as a tower, vertically upon his knees, in a manner befitting an honorable samurai.
The silance that followed was long and uncomfortable. Abe was torn between his emotion of terror, of the carnage that transpired, as well as intense awe at the sheer coolness of the ninja, as she calmly cleaned her weapon of the blood.
The silence was broken by the re-entrance of Louis 14th of house Bourbon.
'just come back, Abe, to get a pack Marlboros.' Said he. 'But..emm. I see you guys are in a rush. Hi Estherflowers..'
'Hi yourself' said the ninja cooly, she looked down at the guy, and did not enjoy his mannerism one bit.
'Well....em..I really need to get those ciggs. Emm...could ya?' He gestured to Abe.
It was then that Abraham Lincoln noticed the dire fruits of this conflict; the whole display of cigaretts , cigars and other tobacco products was blown away, by the wild shot of the now-deceased criminal.
'I'm afraid not' said Abe somberly 'it seems that fate has delivered you with a sign.'
We All Do It
Fleas do it.
Ticks do it.
Let's do it--
Let's suck your blood.
Fools do it.
Rednecks do it.
Brains do it.
Let's do something dangerous.
Republicans do it.
Democrats do it.
Q-Anon does it.
Let's tell a lie.
Surgeons do it.
Cholesterol does it.
Women and men do it.
Let's break your heart.
Survivalists do it.
Wannabe's do it.
Conspiracies do it.
Let's believe anything.
Exodus did it.
The Alamo did it.
Jeffery Epstein did it.
"In ancient Rome
There was a poem
About a dog
Who found two bones
He picked at one
He licked the other
He went in circles
He dropped dead." ~Devo - Freedom of Choice.
"No, no I've had enough! Go ahead and do me in already. I'm a writer, not a composer.. And even if I was (I mean, alright, I dabble..) Saint Saens was a musical genius and Animal Carnival was a masterpiece. Next you'll be getting me to re-imagine Danse Macabre or Samson and Delilah. After that I suppose you'll have me writing a high-class restaurant's metaphorical misery menu or a sexually provocative rhyme about aviary hexapods... I mean I have a few ideas... but no! No I've simply had enough! Your requests are getting more and more imperious."
Ghost Writer Number Ten quivered slightly but courageously stood his ground, like a heroically invincible ninja, squinting his eyes mostly-shut, waiting for the inevitable swing of the baseball bat named Surgeon General.
"Hah. So you've got some cojones in those pink pajamas after all?" Pesci snickered then clapped the brave writer on the shoulder, nodding in approval. "You're alright kid. I like your style. Say, what are you trying to do with those outrageous drawers anyway? Support some sort of flamingo world conquest?"
"What's wrong with pink? It matches the good-intention pavers... besides, my batman pajamas were recently repurposed; sewn into a frisbee to please Fritzy the Goliath Beetle. You don't mess about with Fritz's requests.."
Pesci nodded again, "Fair enough. What say you come with me and the Attorney General, we'll go collect the money from the Raven."
Ghost Writer Number Ten hesitated for a moment, deliberating about the moral qualms of giving Pesci the middle finger while his back was turned... "I guess I could come. Why does he call himself the Raven anyway? Why not the Hummingbird... or the Woodpecker?"
"You'll see." Pesci replied mysteriously, a deranged smile contorting his (to be fair already contorted) features.
*** the ending to this story is, regrettably, being held for ransom. If you ever want to see your beloved conclusion alive, you will first have to provide even more outrageously brilliant prompts for consideration. Failure to provide adequately stimulating topics will result in a finger or ear being brutally and barbarically chopped off of the narrative for every month without compensation.