Thursday, March 26, 2009

Special! Non Pat related flash fiction!

The mother calls up the stairs, “Kids! Get your suits on! We’re going to the beach.” As she turns to pack lunch, her teenage daughter, who obviously just got out of bed, comes down the stairs.

“Mom,” she whines, “do I really have to go?”

The mother sighs. One week, she thinks, one week without this. Then she says firmly, “Yes, you have to go.”

The girl persists, “But it’s Saturday!

“Exactly,” the mother tries to be patient, “and on Saturdays we go to the beach. Everyone’s expecting us to be there. The whole family’s going and I am not going to leave you alone, now go upstairs and get your suit on.”

The girl huffs, but turns to go up the stairs. The mom goes to the kitchen to finish making lunch while the father is outside getting all the essentials in the car. Soon, the teenage daughter comes down again to see her mom putting the last sandwich in the basket.

“What’s for lunch?” She acts as if she has already forgotten the argument from before.

“Tuna,” the mother responds.

“But I’m tired of tuna!” She’s starting to whine again and her mother’s not in the mood for it.

She keeps packing. “That’s what we have and that’s what you’ll eat, young lady.”

“But mom,” the girl is almost yelling, “can’t I have something else?”

The mother’s tired of this. “Fine,” she snaps, “what do you what to eat?”

The girl shrugs, “I dunno. Maybe I’ll just get a hot dog at the beach or something.”

The mother cocks her head. “Funny.”

“I thought so. But did you at least leave the eggs out this time?”

They turn to go, adjusting their protective suits as the dad comes in for final preparations. “All set,” he beams as he hands each a shotgun, “you ladies ready?”

“Yeah,” says the mom, “let’s go.”

As they leave the house, the teenager states, in the matter of fact way only teenagers have, “Life sucks since the fish people nuked everything! They’re ruining my weekends!”

The mom responds, “True, but if we don’t take our turns keeping their legions in the sea, who will. Plus, if we don’t go, where will we get food?”

The girl shrugs. “I guess. Daddy, can I drive?”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rush the 99 Cent Store Part 2

Some wise man named Socrates once said the secret to happiness is to "know thyself." I read that a long time ago at a tender time in my life and it's stuck with me since. I've worked real hard to know myself as well as I can. To do this, I've spent many an hour with myself, asking questions about my childhood, my likes and dislikes and recipe tips. Then, I found I kind of liked myself and got myself drunk in order to better see my inner self. It was blurry and spinny. Finally, I got to hangin around with myself at all hours of day and night when myself would really rather be left alone. I heard I was plannin on gettin a restraining order against myself, but I guess I consulted a lawyer and his response was, "Stop wasting my time." Since I couldn't get the restraining order, I had to let me stay around until it seemed like I was always with me. These days, I hardly go anywhere without myself. I would say that, after all that time, I know myself pretty well.

It was right about the time I found myself standing on the belt that leads to the cash register yelling at the people, "Wake up, people, first it's your pennies, then it's your SOULS!!!" as the police pulled up outside that I remembered that I do not have the twin gifts of subtlety and tact. In fact, I am twice cursed by expecting-people-to-do-what-they-say and holding-them-accountable-when-they-don't. It may not sound like an actual curse, but when mother O'Neil was bakin a tasty Pat bun in her oven, she encountered a woman on the way to market. Ma was goin to sell the cow to the Fredrick dairy down the way at an already-agreed-upon price of 1/2 tons of bricks and 2 fish. The bricks would be used to build Ma and Pa O'Neil a new home and the fish would be used to lure cats to the new home so they could be shaved and the house could have a nice coat of hair. Back then, hairy houses were all the rage and no one could really say they'd made it into the upper crust of society without an all fur house. Ma and Pa had bought the cow as a calf and paid for its feed by working for the top hat and monocle wearing railroad baron of Iowa; Eddie Boxcar. Every day from dawn until dusk, they would comb Eddie Boxcar's house until it shone like spun mirrors. This trip to market to sell the cow would finally move my family from under the Boxcar thumb, but it was not to be. Between home and the market, ma O'Neil ran into an old lady who offered her 5 magic beans in exchange for the cow. Now, my ma had hear all about that guy Jack and his beanstalk, so she wasn't havin none of it from the old lady. She didn't want to hurt the lady's feelings, though, so she told the woman she already had some very nice magic beans at home, thank you very much. Apparently, accordin to my Ma, witches know when you're lyin because their noses light up red and a buzzer goes off. Incidentally, that's how they got the idea for that game Operation. Some doctor was operatin on a witch while he was bein interviewed for a job and the witch's nose kept glowin red because he wasn't actually a doctor, but a fast talkin pineapple who was tryin to make a life in the big city by scammin people. Anyway, this witch got all red in the nose and cursed me with an expectation of honesty and a low tolerance for sneaks. On a side note, those magic beans were bought later in the day by Eddie Boxcar for $100, which was a fortune in those days. When he planted them, they expanded the availability of credit to investors and this lead to the stock market crash in '29. As a result of this curse, which I can't do nothin about, I sometimes find myself on counters yelling things at employees as the thin blue line becomes the thin blue circle with tasers drawn standing around the guy yelling on the counter. Usually when this happens, I ain't in a position wherein I need to be sneaking off into the back of whatever business I'm at.

I suppose, if I'm gonna be in this situation a lot, I should ask some of the squimonk if they can whip me up an implant or a pill or somethin that will let me sneak around a 99 cent store without yellin about pennies and souls. I would love to do it myself, but every time I go in there, the curse gets up on me like a child climbin up an overweight gorilla and punchin him in the head. It seems like it ain't gonna do nothin, but with every punch, that gorilla gets angrier and angrier until the zookeeper has to be called. In my case, that zookeeper was named Sheriff Tom.

"Come on down, now, Pat," he said in the soothing tones of a man dealing with a crazed guy.

"But they're stealing!" I yelled. "It's them you should be arresting!"

"You know what, Pat, you're right," he shocked me with his easy agreement. "If you come on down from there, you and I can discuss the charges."

This made a whole lot of sense to me, so I got down and let him lead me outside. Once we got out there, he was a lot less friendly. He got up close to me and whispered through his teeth, "What in the world do you think you're doing?"

I was stunned. " see, there's this curse..."

He interrupted, "Are you insane, Pat? Do you know what you're walking in to here?"

I nodded, "Yessir, I do."

He shook his head. "You have no idea. We've been watching this place for months, and there are some very dangerous people in there."

I kept nodding, "Oh, I certainly know. That's why I'm here, you know."

He looked flabbergasted, "So you know about..."

"The meth? Yeah."

"How do you...?"

"Well now, see, Sheriff Tom, I can't exactly tell you that part of it," I explained, "but we're here to stop the meth from comin into our area, and this is really only the first step."

"But...but...but," he stammered, "we've been trying to get a warrant on this place for months, but we can't get enough evidence."

"I ain't really got a problem with gettin enough evidence, Sheriff," I continued, "I know they're pushin meth out of here, and they're gettin it from somewhere else. That's what I'm here to find out."

"I think I have an idea..."Sheriff Tom blurted out. And it was a doozy, I'll tell ya.

Next thing I know, I'm bein led back through the store. Douggy and the squimonk bags were just starin at me, shakin their heads. I could see disappointment written all over their faces as if they'd got kinda drunk after a long week of work and passed out at a party and the people they were with just sorta wandered away and so they were left sleepin in a chair at a party at a stranger's house and the people who owned the house didn't really know who they were and so the owners' drunk friends decided to have a little fun with them and so covered them in toilet paper and then drew all over them with a sharpy and, instead of all the vulgar things that usually get written on a person in this situation, they wrote "You blew the mission Pat. We're very dissapointed in you." I tried signaling them with my eyes, but I've got some sorta disability wherein I can't wiggle my eyebrows rapidly enough to have an effective signal. This comes from when I was 6 and I was down at the swimmin hole, swingin on the rope swing, and this big ol' bat flies by me just as I'm lettin go and the claw at the end of his wing caught me right at my hair line. It severed the tendon that I used to raise my eyebrows. I had to go right to the hospital and have it stitched back together. Since I was so young, there's hardly any scar and I got most of my eyebrow function back after eight years of physical therapy, but I still don't have the speed needed in signaling with my eyebrows. Since they weren't getting the message with the eyebrows, I tried to look at the back door significantly.

I think they got the hint, because they started moving towards the door to the back room. Sheriff Tom was explainin to the workers, "Prisoner has to use the restroom. I gotta let him go or it's a violation of his miranda rights and they can throw the whole case out of court. You've got a bathroom in the back, right? It'll be just a minute." With that, he kicked open the door to the back room, I flicked off the unlocked handcuffs and drew my donut gun. Douggy had enough peace of mind to draw his, too. All three of us burst into the room, guns drawn, yelling "Hands up, scumbags!" Little did we know how right we were.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rush the 99 Cent Store Part 1

There's a saying, "the best plans of mice and men..." something something something. I never learned the end of that one. Until today, I never really understood what the whole sentence meant. I mean, why on this green earth would mice be makin elaborate plans? I guess some mouse could be havin one of them debutante balls or bar-mitzvahs or one of them other big-type party things, then they'd prolly need to lay some plans. But, seriously, what're you gonna serve at a mouse party? Appetizers. I don't know if you've noticed, but them mice is pretty small little things, and havin a big elaborate dinner would just waste a lot of food. And after mice waste food, who gets it? Sure, there're probably mice charities and things like that, but there's only so much waste a mouse would want to create at a big party, plus, if they're wastin a lot of food, then they're wastin their parents money and mice don't have too much money. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to name more than three mice that I knew had any money whatsoever. So, to avoid waste at the big party, I suppose some manner of planning would have to be involved but I still ain't sure it'd be that elaborate. To be fair, our plan for raidin that 99 cent store wasn't too elaborate, neither, but I still think, overall, humans make more complex plans than mice.

That's really where I was tryin to go with this thing; that job at the 99 cent store didn't go as well as we'd expected it. It sure as shootin coulda gone a lot worse than it did, I'll give ya that, but it also coulda gone a heck of a lot better. I mostly blame myself. Everyone else blames myself, also, so at least we have a consensus, but I made my feelings clear well before this whole thing started and they went ahead and invited me along anyway. Make yerself a list of people you'd want with you while raiding a meth distribution hub disguised as a 99 cent store and your old pal Pat O'Neil likely won't be in the top ten. If your list was anything like mine, your top ten would be:
1. An employee of the 99 cent store who also happens to have crazy kung-fu powers from his or her time in the special forces and an arsenal of weapons at home from his or her time as a super spy.
2. Some sorta highly advanced robot fighter sent to us by aliens or the future or aliens in the future to save us from the evils meth has wreaked on their alien/future world and knows it all starts at the 99 cent store. The robot would also have to appear cold and unfeeling on the outside, but have a heart of gold. A literal heart of gold would be better because, when the robot had completed his mission, he could give you his heart and you could sell it on the open market and be set for life.
3. An alien shape shifter that could appear like anything in any world. It could go in looking human and then turn into a giant octopus with razor arms when stuff started to go bad.
4. Chuck Norris.
5. A big sumo guy who's actually fast on his feet, because people would underestimate him.
6. A small, weak, nerdy guy who's actually wearing an exoskeleton he designed himself after he graduated top of his class at MIT and made billions of dollars in some obscure internet deal, but refuses to kill on moral grounds and who also sometimes has to stop fighting for a minute because of his asthma.
7. A guy who's really into guns and who is also really angry because his parents' death was somehow cause by meth or the 99 cent store and who vowed revenge.
8. Someone who looks like Chuck Norris, for the intimidation factor.
9. Someone who is good at fighting and has no ancient qualms with going into the 99 cent store.
10. Someone who knows any of the above and has picked up some skills from being around these people.
Notice who's not anywhere on that list? It's Pat O'Neil. And you know why? I'll tell you why. I obviously can't hold it together in the 99 cent store even when my life is on the line. Theoretically speaking, we'd walk into the store, Douggy, me, and three skin bags filled with squimonk and sorta fan out. Then, Douggy and I might wander over to the cleaning products section to get a good view of the back door while keeping an eye on the clerks. Then, if this were anything like I suspect it was, Douggy would go and say a durn fool stupid like, "Hey, 99 cents for a mop? That's not a bad deal. I don't know what your problem is, Pat."

And that would probably set me off yellin, "That ain't the point, Douggy! There's principals in this this thing! That mop ain't no 99 cent mop! That's a dollar mop! You think right now you gonna pay 99 cents for that there mop, but you're gonna pay a dollar!"

And he'd be shootin his mouth off sayin somethin like, "A dollar's still a good deal for a mop."

And I'd have to respond with somethin like, "Good grievous aneurysm, Douggy, are you tryin to make my head explode?! That's how they get you, Douggy! They lure you in with promises of low prices and then they nickle and dime you until you got nothin left."

And he'd have to say somethin like, "There's no nickles and dimes involved; just pennies."

And, you know, theoretically, then a worker would come over and say somethin like, "Would you two gentlemen keep it down?"

And I'd turn to him and say, "Wait! Wait! What's the name of this store?"

And the world weary lady who's on the slow decline towards old age, probably still supporting her no-good kids while barely scraping by in her double wide, taking this as a second job just to keep her head above water, just rolls her eyes and tells me, "99 cents, sir." And she would then heave a big sigh.

I would then respond, "Exactly! And how much is this mop, ma'am?"

Then she would say something sarcastic like, "What do you think?"

I would then, in this imagined situation, be forced to say somethin like, "I would think that it was 99 cents, but when I got myself up to that cash register, I would find out it was a dollar, wouldn't I? Wouldn't I?!?!"

And then she'd mumble something under her breath that sounds like, "I don't get paid enough for this." And she'd wander off.

Ok, look, it's time for me to level with you. This wasn't really a theoretical situation. I'm sorry I lied to you, you deserve better than that. I was just trying to show you how all this stuff coulda worked out and couldn't have worked out in any other way. I don't want to get all fancy-pants on you now, but I heard some scientists are talking that everything that happens does so the way it has to happen because of the physics of particles and whatnot, and they're sayin this affects even brain chemistry and so our reactions aren't really our reactions but are just a process of physics. Looked at from that angle, I'm innocent here. It was just my atoms that made me react the way I did. Even if that's the case, I'm still sorry. I'm so wracked with guilt now I gotta go lay down and maybe put some ice on my head. I'll be better tomorrow.