Library Skins

When you think about the Library at Alexandira, what do you imagine?
Shelves and shelves of scrolls?
Couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sure, back then, the Egyptians had papyrus, but you know the saying “Life is cheap.”
They would write things on their slaves, skin them, and then stack the skins on the shelves in the library.
Kinda gruesome, but properly-preserved skin had a longer shelf life than papyrus.
And it also provided an incentive not to piss off the librarians with a late return or lost book.
You’d have your library card taken away. And your skin, too.

The last of the hunted

She opened the french doors, stepped out to the balcony, and howled.
And waited.
There was no reply.
Too many hunters in the forest.
There had been a treaty.
The woods belonged to the wolfkind.
But too many men went into the woods to hunt.
For sport, not food.
They had enough grain and livestock, why hunt for sport?
And the wolfkind defended their territory.
So many more men came to hunt now.
Hunting the wolfkind.
And now, were none left to hear the call? Was she alone?
She stepped back off the balcony, closed the french doors, and wept.

Thank you for Halloween

Gratias Tibiago was the most grateful man in the world.
He thanked everybody for everything.
Even if they did him harm, he’d find good in what they did, and he’d thank them.
This annoyed the bullies and sociopaths who did him harm, so they tried to harm him worse.
And Gratias would thank them that much more.
One day, a bully killed Gratias.
His ghost thanked the bully.
“I no longer need to thank anybody anymore,” said Gratias. “Thank you for that.”
The ghost thanked the bully over and over again, driving him mad.
Oh, and thank you for listening.


Kenny wanted to wear a stormtrooper costume for Halloween.
But his parents wouldn’t buy him the kit.
So, he got a paper route, mowed lawns, and babysat.
It took him a year to earn the money.
The costume kit arrived… in November.
Too late for Halloween.
Kenny waited a whole year, during which he grew seven inches.
A few pieces broke when he tried to wear it.
He couldn’t return it, so he threw it in the trash.
Sitting on the porch moping, he saw a kid wearing the patched-up costume, and he beat that kid with a baseball bat.

No trick or treat

I live in a condo complex.
The kids don’t trick-or-treat around here.
Every year, the complex throws a Halloween party, but it’s for the adults.
Alcohol and costumes, that kind of thing.
I don’t know my neighbors, it’s just a place to live, so I don’t go.
I put Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin special on the television.
Make some pumpkin spice coffee.
Decaf, I can’t have caffeine anymore.
Or all that much sugar, so no candy for me.
They’re being noisy out by the pool area.
I put on my noise-canceling headphones and turn up the television a bit louder.

The Real Gates

When I think of “the gates of hell” I don’t think of rusted iron bars and barbed wire and flames.
I think of an opening in a rustic wooden fence.
Which leads to an overgrown garden park in late summer or early fall.
Warm, but not hot, or humid.
A gentle breeze that rustles the leaves in the trees.
Butterflies and birds, you can hear the birds.
Maybe a few squirrels or rabbits in the underbrush.
An old wrought-iron bench by the path.
You want to sit down, close your eyes.
As the breeze gets warmer… and warmer… and warmer…

Grandmother’s kitchen

My grandmother used to say that a watched pot never boils.
She also said that a watched toaster never toasts.
And that a watched blender never blends.
So, I stopped watching anything in the kitchen.
I set a timer and walked away.
By the time I got back, the whole kitchen was in chaos.
The pot was toasting, the blender was boiling, and the toaster was blending.
The coffee maker opened every can in the pantry while the dishwasher rained coffee down on a set of newly-cleaned dishes.
I’m hiring an exorcist to get rid of my crazy grandmother’s ghost.


Every week, I vacuumed under the bed.
There’s no telling what’s down there. I hadn’t the heart to look.
The strange noises. The weird shadows.
Once, I thought I saw…
Best not to think about it.
Just pull out the bag, drop it in the trash, and walk away.
After the vacuum’s motor burned out, I had to buy another vacuum.
This one was bagless, dropping dirt and dust into a plastic bin.
So the next time I vacuumed under the bed, I saw them.
And… I just… can’t… unsee…
Now, I call a maid service and leave the house.

Payback is a bitch

I used to walk to the Best Buy and Cost Plus and Chik-fil-A.
Along a feeder road, under the freeway, and under another freeway.
Not much of a walk, really.
But enough to take me past a spot where there’s always a beggar with a cardboard sign.
I give them money if they’re not aggressive about it.
If they are, I say all I have is credit cards, sorry, and I keep walking.
The really pushy ones, I give them the fiver soaked in LSD.
So they’ll freak out, run into traffic, and get run over by a semi truck.

The Storytelling Machine

Every night, when the sun went down, the townspeople would gather in the park and listen to the old storytelling machine.
They’d go on adventures on the high seas, cross endless deserts, explore ancient and dark caverns, and brave the deepest forests.
When the story was over, people would clap, and head back to their homes.
One night, the people gathered for a story, but the storytelling machine was silent.
The townspeople tried to repair the machine, but they never managed to make it work again.
So, they brought out books, and took turns reading aloud.
The machine listened quietly.