Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Channel Zero on Lulu.com

Lulu.com is having a 600-word short story contest. Here is my stab. I priced the eBook Free. You will need an ePub reader from Adobe, or a MagicScroll reader from Google in order to see the flip page version, but they are free, too. Post comments, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Migration of the Giant Luna

The truthfulness of this posting has been questioned. It is believed that some or all of its contents may constitute a hoax. Without additional verification within five days, elements of this posting may be deleted.


This ain’t no action adventure tale. It’s not about Second Amendment rights. Not about endangered species, nor the male ego, nor testosterone without character. It’s not science fiction, not an allegory, not journalism, not a chronicle, not a history. Not a fable, not a parable, not an epic, not folklore, it’s not a legend, a myth, a biography, nor an historical romance.

It’s not post-modern, post-contemporary, meta whatever, or retro.

It’s not confessional, not didactic, not expressionist, not words for words sake.

It’s just a story. About a moth.

The Difference Between Moths and Butterflies

Butterflies like the daytime sun; moths prefer the dusk and night.
Butterflies flutter before the poetry starts; Moths fluster when the poetry ends.
There are no moths on greeting cards.
There are no moth screen savers.
Young ladies do not get moth tattoos on that secret palette of skin that flows from her navel to the sweet crease where her thigh meets her hip.
Butterflies are metaphors: the butterfly effect; the bright elusive butterfly of love; butterfly kisses; and, of course, the metamorphosis from woolly worm to magnificent beauty.
Moths are an abject warning, a cautionary tale of how we will burn in the flame that attracts us most.
No one releases moths at weddings.
Butterflies get into our daydreams. Moths get into our hair.
Butterflies are lovely; moths are creepy crepuscular things.

The largest known butterfly is the Queen Alexandra Birdwing, with a wingspan of up to fifteen inches.
The largest moth is the Giant Luna, with a wingspan of sixty feet, six inches.


Scientific name Gigantus fornicato lepidoptera, Latin for big fucking moth, commonly known as the Giant Luna. Native to Northeast Mexico and the rain forests of the Gulf Coast, it has a wingspan of up to 60 feet, 6 inches. Despite its size, there have been remarkably few post-columbian sightings. Maybe none.

Life Cycle and Migration.

Luna Moths live about one full year. Each year on the Fall equinox, drawn irresistibly to the lunar light, the moths leave Earth and begin a 240,000 mile migration to their wintering grounds at Sweet Sumac Ridge on the moon. This ridge lies precisely on the dividing line between the light and dark sides of the moon. There the females lay their single egg before they die. The eggs hatch, and the larvae mature, and precisely at Spring Equinox the pupae emerge as Giant Luna Moths and begin their migration back to Earth, even though they have never been there before. No scientific explanation has accounted for this.

Appearance and Wings.

The Giant Luna wings are highly valued for their rich shimmer, magical color. Green, edged in lapiz, with a long thin tail, the wings are much sought after for fashion and their healing powers. A single Giant Luna can yield 150 square meters of wings.

Giant Luna wing material is graded translucent, iridescent, luminescent, phosphorescent, or opalescent with transluscent the lowest grade and opalescent the highest. In 2011, the House of Versace stunned the fashion world with a blinding Luna wing bikini. The two-piece weighed less than an ounce, and cost more than the annual income of 94% of the world’s families.

The wings are also greatly sought after for their healing properties. Even lower grade translucent wing, when wrapped around the skin of an inflicted patient, can heal burns, necrotizing bacteria, gunshot wounds, stab wounds and soft tissue gangrene. As of this reading, insurance companies consider this treatment elective and experimental.

Although only 3 mil thin, the wings possess such tensile strength that the military uses wings for parachutes. On the black market, wings fetch upwards of $50,000 per square meter and are used as penis wraps for extension and erectile super function, as well as for anti wrinkle masks and cellulite eradication.

Jump to the Finale

There’s more. There’s an Aztec legend rife with obligatory beheadings, a safari with Sarah Palin and Elmer Fudd ("Be vehwy, vehwy quiet. We're hunting Giant Woona."), and a cameo appearance by Vladimir Nabokov. But all that’s for another time.

Because now, when the performance ends, when we are unspeakably awed by a darkening stage strewn with the "casualties of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts," then... then, we won't find any butterflies in the Globe Theater.

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Gin," Says the Zig Zag man

“Gin,” Says the Zig Zag Man

The Zig Zag Man sits on a thin lump bunk in his cell, trying to remember what it is he was trying to remember. The woman who framed him? The man he killed? The secret password? Where he hid his cigarettes? “Why am I here,” he thinks, “Is there a way out?”

The Zig-Zag Man sucks in a deep breath. His thin dark shadow stretches through the bars.

* * *

The prison trustee is a snitch. “Don’t trust the Zig Zag Man,” he tells the warden. “He’s planning an escape.”

* * *
The Zig-Zag Man is on the FBI’s most wanted list. He lives a life on the run. Shaves. Quits smoking. Never wears hats in public. Walmart eyeglasses. A little basement rhinoplasty from an alcoholic plastic surgeon assimilates that Semitic nose. Changes his name to Mickey Transistor. Moves around moves around moves around. Working as a cabbie in Republican towns.

* * *
Two hours since lights out. The Zig Zag Man cannot see his hand in front of his face. The taps return. T-tap. T-taptap. Tap. Tap-T-taptap. Taptap-T-tap-T-tap. Tap. The tapping reminds him of something but he can’t remember what. The Zig Zag Man wonders: are these taps real? Are they telling me a story? Are they telling me the way out?

* * *

The Zig Zag man looks up and sees the rope snag on the razor wire. He sees the hemp fibers fray one by one by one by one. He is dangling sixty feet six inches above the ground on the outside of the prison wall. He sees his life literally hanging by a …. hackneyed metaphor. “Oh fuck,” says the Zig Zag Man.

* * *
The Zig Zag Man’s cellmate is Richard Lovelace. “You know, Zig Zag Man,” says Richard, “stone walls do not a prison make..... nor iron bars....” but before he can finish, the Zig Zag Man grabs Richard Lovelace by the scruff of his neck and the seat of his pants and hurtles him headlong into the iron bars of the cage. The clang of Richard’s skull echoes through the cellblock.

* * *
The Zig-Zag Man worms his way through a tunnel it has taken him 5 years to dig. He strikes a match. The tunnel forks in three directions. “How can this be?” he thinks.

* * *

The Zig Zag Man hears the voice of God. Loud and clear. There is no ambiguity. “Hey, Zig Zag Man,” sayeth the Lord. “I need you to do something for Me. I want you to strap on this vest with all this plastic putty in the pockets? ...and go to the most popular pizzeria in Riverwest. Order yourself a personal size pie with the works. It’s on Me. Oh yeah, and bring a cell phone, and wait for me to call you. Hey, Zig-Zag Man, are you paying attention?”

* * *

The searchlights. The sirens. The shots from the guard tower.

* * *

It is open mic night at the Big Pen. Everybody gets five minutes. You! Huddie Ledbetter! You get five minutes. Huddie does a speedy excerpt from an inmate favorite.


The cons go wild.

* * *

Calling all cars. Calling all cars. Matrix of crimes in progress. Be on the lookout for a number 5 male, maybe a new number, say a nine. Yes a number 9 male. Spotted fleeing the scene on foot. About five foot six. 140 pounds. Perp is bearded and wearing a doo rag. Irregularly shaped cigarette dangling from lips. He’s bilking billions from gullible millionaires with a clumsy Ponzi scam. He’s using a Saturday night special on a Monday afternoon. He’s giving Ayn Rand her first typewriter. He’s water-boarding Milwaukee poets. He’s dry humping the Bill of Rights. He’s recruiting a crew to heist a Monet. He’s selling hot shots to Gil Scott Heron, He’s shooting up with Anita O’Day. He’s thinking seditious thoughts while crossing state lines. He’s running stop signs and killing your child. He’s desecrating the Confederate flag. He’s obviously carrying a concealed oxymoron. He’s producing infomercials. But wait! There’s more.... I SAID “But wait, there’s more....” Okay, this is the audience participation part of this piece where you shout out other crimes in progress and and help me build this shimmering matrix of possible rap sheets.

Suspect considered ironic and dangerous. Proceed with caution.

* * *

The Zig-Zag Man strikes a match. Others have tunneled before him. His tunnel intersects a tunnel. He turns left. Meets another tunnel. The Zig-Zag Man turns right. Comes to a hole that opens to another tunnel below him. Worms on his belly until he comes to another fork of tunnels. Strikes his last match. Takes the tunnel less travelled. Belly-crawls through this tunnel that slopes deeper. The Zig-Zag Man can not see. He is hopelessly lost. Then the taps. T-tap. Tap-tap-tap-T-tap-tap.

* * *

The Zig-Zag Man is carving a bar of soap. Into the shape of a snub-nosed .38. He soaks a rag with iodine purloined from the infirmary.

* * *
The Zig-Zag Man is just a patsy. For the Braunstein brothers, Hersh and Mersh. Mersh is the brains. Hersh the brawn. The Zig-Zag Man is the mule. He waits at the shipyards for a container. Filled with young women of child-bearing age smuggled from Eastern Europe like counterfeit pharmaceuticals. When his van is stopped, he takes the fall. “One fucking word,” says Hersh, “and you will never zig zag again. We have people inside.” The Zig-Zag Man plays the chump.

* * *
“Psst. Zig-Zag Man.” It’s Droop Eye Jimmy Pockets. “Wanna know how to get outta here?” Jimmy looks left. Jimmy looks right. “Gimme three cigarettes,” he says, “and don’t try to jew me down.” He motions The Zig-Zag Man to come closer. Closer. Droop Eye Jimmy whispers, “Drink cheap brown whiskey ‘til your eyes turn yellow and you talk to yourself all the time.”

* * *

The Zig Zag Man is in the cooler, in the pokey, in the brig, in the joint. In stir, behind bars, in the slammer, doing time. In jail, in the Big House, in the hoosegow, in the clink. He’s being corrected in the House of Correction, he’s getting jumped in an orange jumpsuit. He’s corresponding with pen pals from the state pen. He’s incarcerated among carcinogens. They’re cooking his goose in the calaboose. He’s in with the outlaws, he’s out of the game. He’s sporting those flashy black and white stripes, he’s dragging that ball and chain. He’s in the hole searching his soul. He’s serving death. Without parole.

* * *

It is hours after lock down. The Zig Zag Man unravels the hemp yarns of a cable stitched sweater. Braids the yarn tight into a thick rope and stashes his handiwork though a small slit he has cut in his thin lump mattress.

* * *

The Zig-Zag man disturbs the peace. He spreads panic. He causes general mayhem. He chains himself to the library lion. He straddles the lion and chains his feet together under the brisket. He screams: THERE’S NOTHING REAL ABOUT REALISM. THERE’S NOTHING REAL ABOUT REALISM. Mothers cover their children’s ears. From rooftops across the street SWAT team snipers train the crosshairs of their Thorazine dart guns on the Zig-Zag Man’s neck.

* * *

The Zig-Zag Man is in the bullpen. Waiting to be called. The Zig-Zag Man stares at the pattern of the baloney sandwiches stuck to the walls where they were flung. Thwack. Another one. Dozens more men mull in the bullpen. There is one toilet but no one uses it. It is clogged with cheap baloney and pasty white bread. “This is like purgatory,” the Zig-Zag Man thinks. “How long have I been here?” One sandwich loses its purchase and slides down the wall. The Zig Zag Man sucks in a deep breath. He waits.

* * *
The Zig-Zag Man presses his lips between the bars of the jailhouse window. He puckers and whistles the secret whistle. And again. He hears the soft clops of the Zig-Zag Horse. “C’mon girl,” says the Zig-Zag Man. He stretches his arm through the bars. With two fingers he grasps a fray of the lariat. One end is tied to the horn of the Zig-Zag Horse’s saddle. He ties the other end to the bars of the window. “Pull girl,” coaxes the Zig-Zag Man. “Pull.” The Zig-Zag Horse strains.

* * *

There is a tattoo. On the Zig-Zag Man’s thigh. A complex design that could be interlocking swastikas. Or the scars of an alien abduction. Or the glyphs of a madman. Or a map.

* * *
The tunnel gets narrower and narrower. The Zig-Zag Man hits a dead end. He tries to turn around but he is stuck. He tries to wriggle backwards. He tries for hours, maybe days. But he is wedged. “So this is how it ends,” says the Zig-Zag Man.

* * *

The Zig-Zag man is staring. At a picture on the screen of his computer. It is the Morton Salt Girl. She is not wearing her trademark pinafore. Only her patent leather Mary Janes over frill-top white socks. And her umbrella. Twirling that hypnotic umbrella. Her body is never found.

* * *
There’s a glimmer, a spark, a twinkling white. Could it be? The Zig-Zag man thinks he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. But he absolutely refuses to accept cliches, so he turns left.

* * *

Conjugal visit day. Simple black dress. Glossy red lipstick. Mediterranean olive skin. Benny the Screw shakes his nuts. “Who’s the twist?” he says.

It is of course the Zig Zag Lady. “Show me what you have for me under your dress” says the Zig Zag Man. The Zig Zag Lady lifts her hem to her chin. She shows the Zig Zag Man a crinoline. Over a petticoat. Over a half slip. Then polka dot panties, pajama bottoms, pantyhose, lace panties, a jock strap.

The Zig Zag Lady then reaches behind her back, unzips her dress, slips her arms out and lets the top fall to her waist. A vest, over a sweater, over a camisole, over a corset. over a bustier, over three nestled bullet brassieres, over tasseled pasties. Every garment woven from.... what else?.... hemp fiber.

“You are so hot,” says the Zig Zag Man.

* * *

The Zig-Zag Man is playing gin. With Dante the Gator and and Doorman Moe. They keep score with hash marks, but they will settle up later with cigarettes. “Zig-Zag Man,” says Dante, “We know you’ve been trying to escape. Everybody knows. Don’t be a dummy. Abandon all hope.”

“Listen to the Gator,” says Moe the Door, “No one here gets out alive.”

“Gin,” says the Zig-Zag man.

* * *

It comes to him in a waking dream. The secret of how to escape. The Zig Zag Man must speak the right words. In the right order. At the right time. He looks at his watch. The second hand moves up toward the twelve. Five seconds, four seconds, three seconds. The Zig-Zag Man sucks in a deep breath. He is ready to utter the first word.

* * *