Elvis Presley bought his Graceland.
It was the last house he ever needed.
And across the street, Vernon McTavish bought Disgraceland.
Vernon built a tower, taller than Graceland’s fences, to spy on Elvis.
He took photos and made films and reported Elvis’ movements.
Those of Elvis’ family, too.
And he’d sell them to the press.
When Elvis went overseas, he made a deal with Vernon.
Watch over his family for him.
So, Vernon did.
Up to the day that Elvis’ mother died.
Vernon had pictures of that.
When Elvis came back, he burned Vernon’s tower down.
With Vernon in it.

Farmer Joe

Nobody knows what Farmer Joe grows.
Some say it’s carrots. Others say it’s potatoes.
And for a while, I thought he grows corn, but what do I know?
He’s got a wall around his farm, with electrified barbed wire on top of it.
Satellite photography on Google Maps just shows a blur.
Trucks go in with fertilizer and machinery, and trucks come out loaded with… well… we don’t know.
He doesn’t even hire migrant workers to harvest whatever he grows in there.
Maybe he uses robots. Harvesting robots.
They don’t talk like people do.
“Rumors,” says Joe. “I grow rumors.”

The Snuggliest Cat

When I get home, I like to lay back on the sofa and let Tinny jump up and cuddle.
She is the snuggliest cat.
When I move around, she squeaks and gets annoyed.
Sometimes, she jumps off and goes to preen or loafing up.
Twitching the fur on her back in contempt.
She’ll return eventually, jumping back up and snuggling and rubbing her face in mine.
At some point, she’ll cling to my shoulder and go to sleep, or she’ll flop on her side and drool.
It’s hard to type with my arm pinned by a cat.
So I don’t.

The Bagels

Every morning, I like to have a toasted bagel with cream cheese, chives, and basil.
I buy a bag of bagels and a tub of cream cheese every Sunday, and bring it to work on Monday morning.
I used to buy basil and chives, but I bought a set of hydroponic units to grow those at work.
Not only is this convenient, but the basil and chives are fresh. Just pick the basil leaves, and clip the chives.
Now, I just need to remember to bring in the bagels and cream cheese.
Which… I now realize… I left at home.

Senator Alfred

Senator Alfred had a love-hate relationship with the media: the media loved to hate him.
The feeling was mutual. Senator Alfred hated the media just as much as they hated him.
They’d shout insipid and disgusting questions at him, and he’d hurl insults and snide comments back at them.
“The voters elected me!” he shouted at the cameras and microphones. “Nobody elected you parasitic vermin!”
The media kits at his press conferences contained rat-poison soaked nails and an explosive rigged to go off when the lid was opened.
After a few accidents, his press agent outsourced that job to Haliburton.

Uncle Edwin

We are predisposed to see faces in things.
We see a face on the moon, a face in the clouds, and faces in the water.
We also see faces in the furniture and machinery and other devices we make, but that’s not quite the same.
Some of those faces are deliberately there to spark some kind of visceral connection between us and that product.
So we connect to it and buy it, I suppose.
The faces you see tacked to the wall in the basement, however, are actual faces.
Your Uncle Edwin doesn’t much like trespassers.
Or nosy little brats.


Our anniversary is coming up.
She prefers practical gifts, not fancy.
So, I bought her Uggs.
To make sure they fit, we traded feet and I went shopping.
Back home, she unwrapped the shoeboxes, and put her own feet back on with the new boots.
I’ve gotten her pedicures this way too.
Manicures and rings by trading hands.
We traded more so I could get her legs waxed, buy panties.
I borrow her breasts to buy bras.
Which don’t fit.
Oh. Right.
Shoulders. Chest, Back.
“Don’t forget the receipt,” she says, handing me a low-cut blouse.
She’s such a tease.

Phone Exchange

Back before microchips and transistors, telephones required operators of a switchboard to plug cables into sockets.
Edith was the daytime operator in Macon Falls, and she liked to listen in on people’s conversations.
She’d tell her friends about what she’d heard.
Well, she called them her friends, but after she’d listened in on everyone in town, she didn’t have any friends.
When she was fired from the telephone exchange, nobody spoke up for her.
She got a job in the next town over, bagging groceries.
She applied for a job at the local phone exchange.
But she got no answer.

The demons you let out

I think a lot of things.
Just because I think a few dark things, when I choose not to voice or document them, did I still come up with those dark thoughts?
By voicing them, do I embrace them fully, and that’s what I am?
There’s so many things I could say, so many different thoughts and directions.
Some positive, some negative, and some just outright horrible.
I am not the demons in my head, am I?
No. Only the ones I let out now and then.
As long as you keep them on a leash, the city ordinance says.

Window Washers

Leslie lived in a high-rise condo, and every time the window washing crew appeared, she’d put on a show for them.
The resident association complained that the window washing company tried to charge the building for overtime.
Not only did they take an extended break when they got to Leslie’s window, but they had to go back and clean it again.
Leslie paid the fines with tips she got from the window washers.
One day, while watching Leslie perform with a teddy bear and a zucchini, a window washer accidentally fell to his death.
He landed face-down, preserving some dignity.