Ship Wreck Publications
The Places You Should Go!   Excerpt from Spanking Yesterday
Posse Excerpt Posse Excerpt Front Cover
Back Cover
Why Read this Novel
Title Page
Unsolicited Praise for Oxbow Lake’s
Dare we call it praise? Unlike praise you’ve ever read.
A Copyright Notice Still Like No Other and Even More So
Can you believe that this is a legal copyright notice?
Dedication
Few novelists have been so indebted!
SOME SPANKS AND MORE THANKS
Does Oxbow Lake the 2nd have revenge on his mind?
A Little Advice from Mark Twain
A Taste of Spanking Yesterday
Stranger in a Strange Land
?
Why that Monster of Technology Gave Me Heebie Geebies
?
The Tables are Turned
?
An update on Oxbow Lake the 2nd
And this author remains free and wandering about in our midst?




Why Read this Novel

Go to Outskirts Publishing.




Spanking Yesterday

Oxbow Lake the 2nd

ShipWreckPublishing Logo
ShipWreckPublications




Unsolicited Praise for Oxbow Lake’s

SPANKING YESTERDAY

“Regardless of Mr. Lake’s many requests, I refuse to make this novel required reading for my computer science courses at this university. However, I may buy a remaindered copy for myself when they’re available provided the discount is substantial, of course.”

-- Dr. Roger Grice, Professor, Something to do with Computer Science

“My place in literary immortality remains unthreatened by this source. It’s too late.”

-- Mark Twain (You Dead Tube)

“Is Spanking Yesterday a novel? Who wrote the damn thing? I find it all quite confusing, but then again, I’m dead. Hopefully those who are alive will be less confused, but I have my eternal doubts.”

-- John Kennedy Toole (Giggle Beyond Internet Site)

“It appears that not only can’t you keep a good man down, you can’t keep a plagiarizing bastard down either.”

-- Raymond Kennedy (scratched on a bar near Columbia)

“Well I can now say that Mr. Oxbow Lake’s first novel is the second worst punctuated novel I’ve ever reviewed. The author or authors of this tome are even more obsessed with ellipses and remain out of their freakin’… elliptical minds!”

-- Lisa Lazzero (alias Lisa Lazzaro) Senior Freelance Punctuator

“It can be safely said that Dave Barry is now the second funniest writer alive (and quite possibly the third), and that Carl (stuttering a’s) Hiaasen has dropped out of the top 10,000 behind an ethnic German graffiti scribbler named Sanas the Fakir from Jaipur, India, who spray paints jokes on bathroom walls about snake charmers who get bitten between their legs by their cobras!”

-- Kramer Killread, Editor (The New Tampa Guide to Sane Automobile Repair)

“The dirty parts are real good!”

-- Super Amazing Steve Nash (Poet of Ill Repute)

“Oxbow needed at least two sets of knee pads to get his first novel published. I hope for his sake that he kept or replaced them.”

-- Senator John “Bluto” Blutarsky (Animal House séance)

“I find Oxbow Lake’s second novel to be as vulgar and despicable as the first, and I haven’t even bothered to read the first page this time.”

-- Charles Dickens (channeled through Hugh Hefner)




A Copyright Notice Still Like No Other and Even More So

This book is most likely a work of fiction created in the fevered mind of an author or perhaps two authors… and maybe even three. This situation is not unprecedented in American literature as Huckleberry Finn had two although the three part in this instance may be somewhat unprecedented. Thus the characters, incidents, and dialogue are not real in that sense of the word. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, real or imagined, or living and/or dead is entirely coincidental in the interpretation of that word most favorable for up to the two or possibly three authors in this case.

To prove my point, the author or authors… whether there was one, two or three of them… did NOT use the incident in which certain individuals were accused of negotiating with a subterranean power that could have resulted in a form of cannibalism and the eventual elimination of the human race as we know it, which actually didn’t occur in real life anyway. The opinions, ideas, notions, emotions and feelings expressed in this novel may or may not necessarily be those of the author or authors, the publisher, those who participated in preparing this novel for publication, those who read the novel, and/or those who do not.

ShipWreckPublications is probably a trademark of ShipWreckPublications LLC.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact the ShipWreckPublications Unique and Little Used Sales Department at be498ar@earthlink.net or visit our web site at www.shipwreckpublications.com. We highly recommend that Spanking Yesterday be made required reading for all computer science and technical communications programs as well as all literature programs in our colleges and universities. We can arrange sweet deals for Instructors and Professors (and you instructors and professors know what we mean)!

The ShipWreckPublications Speakers Bureau can livin’ up any meeting of hoi polloi that you can muster into a conference room or hall, particularly if the projected audience can and has read at least one book in the last decade. Technical tomes of a scientific and mathematical nature do not count in this instance.

We realize that the previous condition might limit our sale of our speaker services, but we thought it appropriate to state since we want you to get your money’s worth. For the most part, an audience of ill literates would not enjoy and/or profit from a healthy dose of one of our speakers’ lectures as we incorporate very little slap stick in our lectures. However, for an additional fee, this situation can be easily rectified as we are fans and aficionados of the Three Stooges, both past and present.

There is one caveat to the above limitation concerning ill literates. We believe that older dyslexics, particularly if their dyslexia is severe enough to prevent them being able to read a book, can still attend one of our lectures and appear to enjoy and profit from it as they usually have developed coping mechanisms so as to appear to be well read and thus will also strive to appear to enjoy the lecture. As an added bonus, older dyslexics will probably rate your efforts at scheduling one of our lectures very highly as they want to appear to fully enjoy and understand the lecture and any negative comments would require an understanding of what was said in order to state specific reasons for their dissatisfaction… an understanding they are unlikely to have at least concerning specific literary references.

Younger dyslexics tend not to fall into this limitation as they most likely have learned to use audio books and thus in most cases are more literate in an auditory sense than their non-dyslexic peers.

For more information about our audio books, whether or not you’re dyslexic, please contact the ShipWreckPublications Audio Books Department at be498ar@earthlink.net or visit our web site at www.shipwreckpublications.com

We guarantee that our speakers will be pretty much as advertised and always dress appropriately.

For the terms of our speaker services and to schedule a speaker, please contact the ShipWreckPublications Speakers Bureau at be498ar@earthlink.net or visit our web site at www.shipwreckpublications.com

Speaking of our web site, take a gander at it. You’ll enjoy the topics, particularly if you have even a shred of humor in your bones and enjoy someone else’s eye getting poked.

www.shipwreckpublications.com

Designed by Karen Mathis

Mathis Web Masters Unincorporated

Manufactured somewhere in the United States of America. Due to the structure of the internet, the exact location is difficult to impossible to determine but we’re pretty sure that location is in the US of A.

Spanking Yesterday

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Copyright © 2013 by Oxbow Lake the 2nd, Ward A. Bobb the 3rd, or Robert A. Ward III, take your pick.

v2.0

ISBN: 9780983976608

This edition is published by ShipWreckPublications LLC.

Cover design and illustrations by Karen Mathis

Photos by Lisa Lazzero (alias Lisa Lazzaro)

ShipWreckPublications LLC

9745 Fox Chapel Road

Tampa, FL 33647

Visit our website at www.ShipWreckPublications.com

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA




Dedication

     I dedicate Spanking Yesterday to myself for without me, this entire effort would have been much more difficult to complete… Hell, it’d have been at least as difficult to even begin!

Signed,

Yours truly




SOME SPANKS AND MORE THANKS

First and foremost, we still do NOT thank the many, many publishing agents of that debilitated, incestuous profession who rejected our wonderfully humorous, satiric and entertaining first novel, The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses. In fact, we are so pissed off at them that we refuse to even give any of the bastards the opportunity to represent us for the publishing of Spanking Yesterday! We’d rather lose money than let any of them gain profit from our brilliant work.

We would, however, like to thank ourselves for our dedication and devotion to our craft, for as we note in our formal dedication above, without us, there would be no need for a “More Spanks and Thanks”, and if there were such without us, it would be somewhat pointless, very short and quite possibly… irrelevant!

We like to thank that great publishing mogul Robert A Ward III ahead of publication for publishing this novel through his ShipWreckPublications LLC as we’re sure he will do. In our opinion, he will remain a man of great vision and taste and our high opinion of him will not change as long as he actually publishes our novel.

And we believe that we still owe a debt of gratitude to Alan R Beebe and Tom and Sue Wolfe for reading the manuscript for Spanking Yesterday and not saying they didn’t like it any less than they did our first, The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses, which we also encourage you to purchase even if you’ve already done so. Mr. Beebe and Mr. Wolfe also make cameo appearances in the novel… or at least their names do… and for this we also thank them.

We use several other names that may be considered real in some circles, such as the name “Gregg (two g’s, two z’s) Lazzaro” even though I invented the “two g’s, two z’s” part myself. This acknowledgment is probably unnecessary anyway since it is very unlikely that Gregg (two g’s, two z’s) Lazzaro will bother to read the novel. There are probably others but I’ve tired of this whole exercise and therefore am stopping this particular form of acknowledgement.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Morgan Lazzaro-Smith-Unterberger-Bridger, who has the tuition bills to prove her expertise, for her astute analysis of the character of the protagonist of Spanking Yesterday, and we quote: “After a careful reading of the novel and an in depth analysis of the character Ward A Bobb the 3rd, considering all the possible traumas and life experiences that character has obviously suffered, it is my carefully reasoned opinion that Mr. Bobb is crazier than a loon, psychologically speaking.”

I guess we should also thank published authors Steve Hamilton and David Silverman who after reading the manuscript said… blah, blah, blah, etc., etc., etc. Much like Mr. Beebe and Mr. Wolfe, Mr. Hamilton also makes a cameo appearance in the fictional sense of that word. Thank you, Steve.

Then there’s a prophylactic “thank you” for Lisa Lazzero (alias Lisa Lazzaro), who, if past history is any guide, will probably send us another quote to use to advertise the novel as she apparently gets off through acts of implied denigration. Ms. Lazzero did take a series of pictures of the author, one of which will probably be used on the back cover although we would like the other photos that she took to be destroyed or at the very least be kept extremely private until all of us are dead and thus no longer care. We will formally thank her for the picture that we’ll probably use when she presents us with evidence that she’s destroyed or safely hidden the others.

Finally, we’ll thank ShipWreckPublications’ brilliant Creative Director, Karen Mathis, who will undoubtedly design and create a wonderful cover for the novel and do lots of other stuff that is equally brilliant enabling us to eventually get the book published.

Perhaps I should also thank Gordon Gensler, whom we believe may have edited Spanking Yesterday although we’re not sure. So we offer him another ‘thank you’… more a prophylactic act in this case, but a ‘thank you’ none the less.

And really, really, really finally and perhaps most important, I thank Rick Haughey, handyman extraordinaire, for unclogging my toilet… which may, in the end, be one of the most important tasks enabling me to complete my wonderful novel, Spanking Yesterday. Thanks Rick, for what is very likely a major contribution to the future of American literature in particular and world literature in general. Nobel Committee… here we go!

At this point, we feel obligated to acknowledge that John Robinson finally did return the manuscript of The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses that we chastised him for not doing in the ‘Spanks’ portion of the ‘Spanks and Thanks’ section for our first novel. However, his comments on said manuscript were so thin as to be perilously close to non-existence (consisting primarily of accusing the author of being inebriated while writing, which, even if true, did not affect the quality of said writing and may have actually improved it! William Faulkner, anyone?), and so we did not send him a copy of the manuscript for Spanking Yesterday to critique for to do so would be, in our judgment, a waste of our precious time and the cost of the postage.

Then there’s Colin Lazzaro-Smith, who did not bother to return the manuscript for Posse… uncommented or otherwise. And to increase his debt of ingratitude, he still owes us $19 for the signed copy of that novel which he ordered, which we imprudently sent to him unpaid for and in which we wrote a very pertinent, appropriate and personal inscription. Needless to say, he too did not receive a copy of the manuscript of Spanking Yesterday to not comment on.




“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
-- Mark Twain




Spanking Yesterday




Stranger in a Strange Land

It’s only been five years… at least I think it’s been five years…sometimes it’s hard to tell. Maybe it’s seven or eight… hell, maybe ten. Anyway, seems like a bad dream now… but I can still remember like it was yesterday standing at my cubicle door… squinting into the Hudson Valley’s early morning summer sun… watching those fuckin’ engineers and fuckin’ programmers park their god damn cars with such sinister precision… inside those god damn carefully defined white lines… as if the god damn white lines were unbreakable rules, their unbreakable rules. Then, having successfully conquered their day’s first great challenge, these two groups of ravenous techno-turncoats then march into the lab for another day dedicated to consuming society for their own pleasure and sustenance. Hell, they chomped away at my life every day like I was beef tartare.

I could tell the engineers from the programmers. Anybody with two eyes and half a brain could. The engineers always wore high-water pants, white sox and pocket protectors. Not to be outdone, the programmers also wore high-waters and pocket protectors but being more self-centered, they usually did not wear white sox. In fact programmers did not wear white sox at all. They displayed their faux individuality by wearing pairs of cotton sox that were either light brown or light blue. Occasionally, like a ray of sunshine, a wild card pair of argyles would sneak into the programming mix, something that absolutely never happened with the engineers. Ironically, with the sense of dented pots and banged up kettles, engineers and programmers made fun of each other for the way they dressed and acted. To normal folks like me they looked and acted like creatures from another world. The ravenous idiots.

Sprinkled amongst these two onrushing cacophonous marching bands of well-paid traitorous geeks… geeks employed by the world’s largest and most nefarious computer manufacturer… were some misfits… some slovenly dressed ‘sore thumbs’, some with hair down to their assholes as our third-line manager, an engineer turned programmer by profession, so poetically put it. These sore thumbs were members of a third group, more like a tribe than a marching band… called Technical Publications or just plain Tech Pubs in the vernacular of those times. Many members of this tribe of sore thumbs did not wear any sox at all. They probably meant to, but forgot. If they had remembered, their sox would have been unmatched and most likely of inappropriate colors, one purple and one red for example, as had actually happened on at least two occasions.

The members of this tribe of misfits were my people, the maggot infested hippies, who didn’t belong but who were a necessary evil in the eyes of the programmers and the engineers, both of whom agreed on little else other than that they had to put up with these stupid pubs assholes because the documentation they produced was required to get their insidious creations out of Product Test and into the eager hands of other idiot geeks whose employers paid dearly for the privilege.

I remember thinking to myself, “Kronos Technologies International, better known as KTI. Who’d a thunk? In college I majored in English Lit. Turned down two engineering scholarships because I was convinced that science would destroy mankind and here I was, years later, toiling away in the belly of modern technology’s most efficient and destructive engine, managing a bunch of technical writers, many of whom hated the work more than I did… probably because they still had to actually do it… they were my own tribe of outliers who toiled away each day documenting the latest mainframe software creations of KTI’s bastard creatures so that these poor devils of mine could continue writing the great American novel late into the night while still supporting themselves and their families if they happened to still have one.”

By then I wasn’t writing the great American novel any more. I had given that up a long time ago. Instead, I managed my tribe of maggot infested hippies… herded is probably a better description as in herding cats… and the only things I wrote back then were performance evaluations and other official management type documents for and about these misplaced souls who were sentenced by life’s inexorable necessities to work in the belly of this dreadful all-consuming beast under my semi-watchful eye.

At 8:12 AM on the button, the official starting time for my little tribe at KTI, the attendance bell buzzed and my phone rang simultaneously… and both very annoyingly so I might add. I could hear that KTI punch clock chugging away in the main hallway as the non-exempts jammed their time cards into that infernal time clock of a machine to be, appropriately, punched in for another day of work that would challenge their very sanity. I knew who was calling… my manager James Jankowski, the Polish fuckin’ Prince, all six-two of the bastard. He was as crazy as my maggot infested hippies only in a different way. He had been an electrical engineer turned technical writer. He wore white sox, was very disciplined but goose-stepped to a different drummer than did his former peers. He was not only my second-line manager; he was my friend… in a Polish Prince sort of way… which is to say I was allowed to be his friend.

He wrote too, short stories, early every morning in his office before the dawning of the work day. When he wrote, he wore an accountant’s green eye shade, the kind with a brim and no top to cover his slowly balding head. When he was finished writing, he drank a cup of that dreadful vending machine coffee… black… and smoked a long maduro cigar. Back then, you could smoke whatever and wherever the hell you wanted to as long as it wasn’t mary jane. Hell, it was your patriotic duty to smoke and smoke whatever you wanted wherever you wanted.

James’s short stories were sad, tidy little pieces about bad relationships with women… something about which he had a lifetime’s worth of experience. He wrote well in a soap opera kind of way. Many years ago the first story he had ever written got published in The New Yorker, a real tear jerker, and he hadn’t managed to get anything published since. However, he kept toiling away for the decades since, writing in No. 2 pencil on legal-sized yellow pads trying to recreate his early and only success… so far fruitlessly… while steadfastly maintaining his long held tradition of bad relationships with women as he did so.

I let the phone ring a couple of times before picking up the receiver. I held the ear piece a half a foot from my ear and James’s infernal voice blasted the air between me and the phone’s ear piece.

“Ward, get yer ass over to my office… and quick. We got ourselves a real problem.”

About the dialogue and the writing… I was advised to start this journal as part of my… let’s call it personal introspection. It’s really not a journal since it’s not about the day’s events. I’m writing about whatever pops into my head and it’s usually the past that pops into my head since my days here are pretty vanilla… not much happens… but I’m not sure what else to call it other than a journal. There are no dates, at least current ones, attached to the entries and I can’t remember most of the dates from the past anyway. Time passes slowly up here in the mountains as Judy Collins used to sing, and the past can be a dangerous place to go, but what choice do I have. So be it.

To help trigger my memories, I have been allowed to keep a box of mementos, memos and other such items from my old office. My buddy the Flake threw my personal stuff into the box when he cleaned out my desk and brought it to me. Back then I wasn’t allowed to keep the box as its contents were thought to upset me after what happened. Maybe they did upset me. I don’t remember exactly. I’m surprised the powers that be didn’t just shit-can the box years ago, but since I began this journal-type business, they gave the box back to me. Like I said, it’s full of mostly personal stuff… stuff I wrote, notes I took, even some sketches I drew, some that our technical illustrator back then, Frank “Shakes” Voltonne, drew, and some stuff I should probably have thrown out to be on the safe side… there were some KTI confidential documents and copies of official papers that I kept in my private files… stuff I wasn’t allowed to keep but did anyway thinking that they could come in handy should the shit hit the fan, which it did in spades.

This is my first entry and it isn’t about today like I said. It’s about several years ago, but it’s what popped into my head today. I was looking out the window of my room watching the sun rise and bam… up came this memory that I’m writing about today. I was told to distance myself from the events that I write about so as to be able to better observe and understand them… you know, remove my personal involvement from my own personal life. Nice trick. It’s kind of hard to do since I’m writing about a ‘him’ which is really a ‘me’… and when I write, I’m writing to a ‘you’… which as it turns out is actually a ‘me’ too in a strange sort of way since I’m the only person who’s going to read this journal. At least that’s what was implied although never stated outright, but I have my suspicions so I plan to hide the journal every night. But it’s hard to figure out how I’m supposed to write. My ‘I’ becomes a ‘he’ and my ‘you’ becomes a ‘me’. At least I think that’s how it works. It’s very confusing.

Anyway, all this I-me you-me stuff has gotten me so bollixed up that I’ve decided to just write what pops into my head, which is what you, meaning me, will eventually read and think about in that introspective sort of way. I was told to leave lots of space and write comments about my thoughts when I read the entries later so I am only writing on the odd numbered pages of my journal. I guess it’s a journal within a journal. To aid this process, I was told to be as specific as possible. I’m concentrating on what happened at KTI at least for now. The rest of my life is still kind of a blur. Since I can’t write about what I can’t remember, I’m writing about what I can. Maybe writing about my life at KTI will trigger other memories of the rest of my life. As to all the details that I do remember, I think they’re supposed to help me see what really happened. Not that it matters much. What’s been done has been done and someone else holds all the cards and regardless of what I really think, I’ve gotta pretty much do what I’m told.

To clarify myself to me about the dialogue as I recreate the previous events of my life at KTI, I have a pretty good memory when it comes to conversations but who knows after what happened. Anyway, I include conversations in my journal… again from memory. They may not be word-for-word what was actually said, but it’s a good bet they’re pretty damn close. And I do have that box of memos and other memorabilia… a kind of archeological trove of my life at KTI… to help me remember and even to quote from when the mood strikes me. It’s kind of like writing that novel I never wrote, only it’s true or kind of true depending I guess on your point of view. But the truth of the matter is this ain’t horse shoes, Mr. Ward Bobb: it’s hand grenades. Just pretty close is more than good enough! Anyway, I’m pretty sure I say to James a rather prosaic, “Right, what’s up?”

And then he says, “You’re not goin’ to believe what happened last night. It involves one of your people.”

Then I say, “Let me guess who. Lurch. Right?”

And he yells into my unprotected ear, an ear-drum piercing “Bingo!”

I shoved my flashlight into my jacket pocket and ‘hustled’ over to James’s office, stopping along the way to pick up my second cup of that dreadful vending machine java with artificial powdered cream wondering what the hell could have happened last night that involved Mr. Richard Tadd, called Lurch by his tribal peers, for Tadd never stuck around after that 4:42 end-of-shift bell buzzed, which, while welcomed, still managed to be quite annoying. As ol’ Lurch had put it so succinctly, “When the bell rings, I go home.” Getting between Tadd and the exit was a dangerous thing to do when that bell buzzed. There was a rumor that he had worked overtime once two years ago, but I could never find any documentation to verify that fact.

Hold it… flashlight? Perhaps you’d care to illuminate… you know, shine some of that light on that flashlight of yours. Why, my paragon of sanity, are you carrying a flashlight? Has there been a power failure… an unexpected eclipse? And why, my friend, are you no longer allowed to have that precious flashlight? In fact, your flashlight privileges were cancelled years ago.

Who the fuck are you and why are you writing in my journal? What, cat got your tongue? Two days and no reply. This is quite annoying. Speaking of annoying… more than annoying… the very name Kronos Technologies should have set off warning bells in my head when I first applied for the job. The KTI corporation began manufacturing clocks… you know, those industrial-type clocks on the walls of offices, factories and other institutions… hell, there’s one here in the cafeteria with that distinctive KTI logo on the clock’s face. The corporation even dabbled in punch clocks, meat scales and other commercial business machines. I think that they even manufactured cash registers at one time… and rumor has it they’re doing it again… only this time the damn things have been computerized. Early on the corporation had the temerity to call itself an international and now I know why.

Lots of people think that Kronos just means time like the time kept by clocks and watches… the measurement of time… but I looked that bastard Kronos up and the ancient Greeks, being no dopes, understood time a lot better than we do, for them Kronos’s time was an all-devouring force that ruthlessly destroyed everything… like when you get old and pretty much fall apart. Inexorable… inexorable… inexorable.

Just in case anyone thinks that this whole Kronos business is a figment of my fevered imagination, take a look at this propaganda post card with that distinctive KTI logo that the ravenous bastards used to give away for free. I was going to send it to my brother Donnie when I first got the stupid job at KTI, but somehow it got lost in my initial corporate two-step shuffle and I never did send it. I found it in that box of stuff. Kind of ironic I used a “Liberty” stamp given where I got the job and what happened.

KTI produced lots of propaganda stuff like this and gave it all away… tons of the stuff. Take a gander at that catchy official corporate motto on the post card: “timely technology for tomorrow.” Why’s that clock faded in the background? Timely technology? For what? What exactly do the bastards have planned for tomorrow? …and what the hell is the meaning of all those barely visible blue men lined up in the background anyway?

KTI postcard

I was in a hurry but not that much of a hurry to get to James’s office… for he had some god damn emergency every morning. Besides, as was my habit and need back then, I required a lot of caffeine to jump start another day at the ‘ol’ bom-bor factoree’, as the old timers would say, particularly when my day began with a meeting with god damn James, second-line manager extraordinaire. I remember thinking to myself, “What the hell could that asshole Tadd have done that would upset that other asshole? I’d bet my balls against a huge bogartable joint that the bastard wasn’t even here once that go-home bell buzzed.”

Upon my arrival, James was seated behind his large mahogany desk, one of the signs of his exalted status as a second-line manager. His floor was carpeted and his “cubicle” was a real office, for it was totally enclosed with solid walls… that is, his walls reached the ceiling… unlike the cubicles occupied by grunts such as myself and the rest of the tribe, for the walls of our little piece of the lab were six-foot high, the top third being glass, bottom half frosted, top half clear… our desks and other odds and ends of used furniture, a metallic grey and our floors bare… like our souls. Igor, our Polish Prince, was still wearing his customary green eye shade and smoking his customary maduro cigar. He motioned me forward into his sanctum sanctorum with his left hand in which he held a cup of that dreadful vending machine coffee… black.

“What’s up chief?”

“Get yer ass in here and close the door. Take a look-see at this.”

I did as instructed, swung the door to his office closed, and took a seat in the chair of organizational subservience, my usual place, on the opposite side of his imperial desk awaiting news of the latest tragedy that was about to rock our management boat. James blew a huge smoke ring in my general direction and pushed a tabloid newspaper, open to the center fold, across his desk towards me.

“What’s that look like to you?”

I studied what appeared to be an infrared photo of some sort. At first I thought it looked like a picture of a rough, barren landscape with tufts of brush around a ravine. Knowing that such a photo was very unlikely to cause an early morning emergency call, I squinted my eyes and studied the photo more carefully. Then it struck me.

“Shit, James. It’s a life-size close-up of a pussy. It’s a woman’s pussy… an infra red picture of a woman’s pussey… in all its glory. Self-basted and ready for cooking. Where the fuck did you get this?”

James closed the tabloid newspaper and there on the front page before me spread the banner headline: Screw Magazine.

“At 2:23 AM last night KTI security officer, one Steven Hamilton, discovered this newspaper, open to that centerfold on the desk of one Richard Tadd. It was easy for him to spot in the darkness since Tadd left his desk lamp on… a god damn spot light of fuckin’ depravity. Our esteemed third-line manager chewed my ear off this morning. Apparently the outraged Officer Hamilton just happened to be a born-again Christian and this photo offended him to his very soul, the prick… all that Christian sanctity of women bull-shit. He called the manager of lab security right then and there, who rushed into the plant to see the outrage for himself. When he saw the outrage, he was… well… morally outraged as well and met the Lab Director when that asshole arrived this morning. The Lab Director, after viewing the moral outrage, bucked this fuckin’ rag to our fourth-line manager, who bucked it to Jerome… who bucked it to me… the bastards must have had a good buckin’ time… and now to you. There’s a yellow buck-slip stapled at the top of the front page. What’s it say?”

Expecting some subtle, esoteric point, I carefully observed each entry on the buck slip and counted them on my fingers. Able to see only the obvious, I said, “Please handle. Three times… each ‘please handle’ initialed by someone in the management chain above you and if you add yours, that’d be an even four.” I knew that the bastard wouldn’t put his initials on that buck slip unless he was forced to. Turns out there was no esoteric point. Subtlety from James? What was I thinking? He rambled on.

“Right, please fuckin’ handle… three times, starting with the Lab Director. Moved pretty fast down the management chain. Seems like no one wants to have that fuckin’ rag stuck in his in basket. I’m not goin’ to put my initials on the god damn thing. I’m just gonna ask you what the fuck YOU’RE goin’ to do about it?” He placed great emphasis on the word ‘you’re’. I knew what he was doing. Like I said, he was keeping his initials off that buck slip, James being James and all.

I got pissed. “Me? What am I going to do about it? James, you’re not Tonto and I’m not the Lone Ranger here as in one of those ‘what you mean WE white-man moments’. Listen, kemo saabee, this is a ‘we’ and not a ‘me’ situation, and here’s how we ought to handle it… WE... and I do mean we as in YOU and ME... get a bunch of the programmers that work with Tadd (James was all ears)… I’m sure they’ll volunteer… take the bastard out to the parking lot and have that bunch of programmers beat the living shit out of the bastard… something I’m sure they’ll enjoy a great deal, and then have Marsha, our local militant feminist, castrate him.”

In spite of my bravado, I actually didn’t give a shit if Tadd ogled nasty pictures… even today I don’t give a fat rat’s ass… even after all that’s happened. Where Mr. Richard Tadd chooses to focus his eye balls is his business. Hell, I enjoyed good porn too… a lot. But what did piss me off was his getting caught. How the hell could he be so stupid? It wasn’t like security ran some kind of anti-porn sting and trapped him. Sometimes I think he did stuff like this on purpose… a kind of kamikaze rebellion against KTI and all its corporate conventions and bourgeois rules. But because of his kamikaze run, the prick was forcing me to do something which I found distasteful, annoying, difficult and organizationally dangerous since whatever I did would be under the ever watchful eye of upper management. A person in my position never wants to be under the ever watchful eye of anyone or anything, particularly KTI upper management. No good can come of it. If it does happen, you pray for a tie and corporate anonymity… and it could be downright dangerous!

James smiled grudgingly at what I thought was an outrageous suggestion and said, “That’s a pretty good plan of attack, but we won’t be able to replace the son-of-a-bitch. My headcount’s frozen again. We gotta think of something else.” The idea actually appealed to him, but even he knew we couldn’t get away with it and then there was the problem of replacing Tadd if we canned the bastard. In truth, James’s caution had nothing to do with a cunning business move, good sense, what happened to me or Tadd and least of all what was right. It had more to do with his workload and his anonymity and thus his ease and safety. Looking back, I realize that he was a real siren of a self-centered prick.

You should have realized it a long time ago. He works the shit out of you and you just handle his problems and kiss his ass. You’re not his friend; you’re his ass-kissing mule… your his god damn donkey man!

you better get more serious, asshole

Getting more serious,˄I thought for a minute and said, “How about we cite Tadd with a violation of some sort… something that sounds real official and I write a scathing memo of reprimand to place in his personnel jacket. You can buck a copy of the reprimand back up the management chain and every one will be happy.”

Hold it. Hold it, damn it! Whose writing is that?

“I like it.” Of course he would. This way he had almost no involvement in the problem or the solution.

I rambled on, “We can cite him for a security violation. The management chain always likes that. Shows we’re diligently protecting KTI’s family jewels.”

James thought for a minute and then yelled a self-protective, “Hold it! No can do. No security was involved in this situation. Security violations are for leaving out confidential or registered confidential KTI information. Ain’t no way Screw Magazine falls into either category. Hell, one of the assholes up the chain might even take the use of this code as a violation of management protocol on our part… in other words bad management. We gotta think of somethin’ else.”

The ‘we’ thinking of something else was ‘me’: “Well there’s safety. We could tag him with a safety violation, but that seems a real stretch.”

I reached over to James’s mahogany bookcase and pulled out the hefty, red loose-leaf binder that was the KTI management bible. I flipped through it until I got to the tab labeled ‘employee violations’. I quickly skimmed the page before placing it on the desk before James. “Take a look-see at our choices.”

James read and then said, “Apparently we only have three violations to choose from: ‘security’, ‘safety’ and this last one, ‘industrial incident’. The first two are out… that leaves ‘industrial incident’.”

He looked up at me and asked, “You ever heard of an ‘industrial incident violation’ before?”

“Never.”

“Says here an industrial incident is, and I quote… and I remember the damn quote word for word… ‘any act by an employee which is deemed by management to be detrimental to the product development processes as defined in the KTI Product Development manual, SY69-6969-69F for ‘fuck the employees’ (I can’t remember the actual number but it really doesn’t matter)… or to the employees that perform the tasks of those product development processes as defined therein’. Can we shoe horn it?”

“Sure. The definition is as ambiguous as hell. All we have to do is deem what Tadd did as detrimental and it is. I’ll bet the assholes up the chain never heard of an industrial incident violation either. When those ass holes read the memo of reprimand that I write, they’ll think the bastard is the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. Hell, they’ll probably want to know why we didn’t take him out into the parking lot, beat the shit out of him ourselves and have Marsha rip his balls off with those sharp carnivorous teeth of hers.”

You’re a clever bastard, aren’t you!

There’s that god damn writing again!

James had second thoughts based, of course, on James: “Could you nuance it? I don’t want to have to fire Tadd. I can’t replace him and besides, I’d hate like hell to have to fill out all those separation forms. And he does serve a semi-useful purpose. No one notices the other idiots that work for us as long as he’s around. Takes the pressure off everyone else, including us.” The ‘us’ in this instance, being primarily ‘him’.

What the hell did you expect him to say?

Fuck, more writing.

“OK. Suppose I make him sound like the reincarnation of Mussolini. Il Duce’s evil in a clownish sort of way and fascism is pretty much passé.”

James thought his self-protective thoughts and said, “Anybody you know of up the management chain Italian?”

I didn’t have a clue, but said an emphatic “Nope.”

Good move!

Damn.

James smiled the smile of the uninvolved and yelled, “Il Duce it is!”

Thus it was decided to officially cite Mr. Richard Tadd with an industrial incident violation, write an official memo of reprimand for his personnel jacket and buck a copy of the memo up the management chain to show how tough we were with the undisciplined hippy assholes who populated our organization.

I folded the copy of Screw Magazine, tucked it under my arm and turned to leave when James yelled, “Hold it. Where you goin’ with that filthy rag?”

I turned facing him and replied, “I was planning to put it in Tadd’s personnel jacket.”

“Leave it here. In case I get a call from Jerome. I may need to refer to it and I want to be accurate. Besides, we don’t want our secretary or one of those personnel bitches coming across this filthy rag. I’ll give it back later when you need it. Close the door behind you.”

Right, like Jerome was going to call him and ask for a verbal description of some detail of that pussey picture over the phone… a picture by the way that Jerome had already studied, probably in great detail, and then having sated his… let’s say ‘curiosity’… moved it off his desk as quickly as was humanly possible. As to James’s ‘worries’ that some secretary or personnel bitch, as he put it, would see the “filthy rag”… ain’t gonna happen. I kept all the personnel jackets in my office under lock and key as per KTI regulation which he knew. I flashed fuckin’ Igor, our Polish Prince, a wry smile, handed him “the filthy rag” and left, gently closing the door to his sanctum sanctorum behind me.




Why that Monster of Technology Gave Me Heebie Geebies

I read what I wrote… I think it was yesterday… to see if I was making sense to me and I found something very disturbing: comments written by someone else, that’s what… comments scribbled between the lines and in the margins and on the facing pages. Someone else is reading my journal and writing comments that aren’t exactly compliments. It might be the Doc, that nosey obnoxious prick. I’ve got to hide the damn journal better. Well at least the part I’m writing makes sense. Reading yesterday’s entry got me to thinking about Kronos Technologies International and my hatred… no hatred’s not the right word. No… more like fear… fear and trepidation… of that all consuming monster of technology and its minions. The fear and trepidation started a long time ago. Before I knew that KTI even existed… way back even before high school and it only got worse as I got older and learned more.

That’s the ticket. Now you’re concentrating on reality and what really happened to you. It’s working, you’re memories of life at KTI are triggering other memories.

Listen, you asshole intruder, you have no idea what’s going on in my mind! There’s more here than meets the eye, particularly your eye!

Way back in fifth grade I belonged to this paperback book club. Everyone had to so I was in, like it or not. Every month my teacher, Miss Bateman (she was one of my all-time favorite teachers) passed out a pamphlet with a list of paperbacks. We could order one of the paperbacks and use it for a book report. Each book had a little description and the number of pages. Miss Bateman kind of frowned if you weren’t ordering a book that month, so being no dope and knowing which side my academic bread was buttered on even back then, I usually ordered something. I always chose the book with the least amount of pages which was usually the cheapest one so it had two advantages. It was November, I think. Anyway, I chose The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. With the stupid introduction and the short bio of Wells, it was barely a hundred pages and it had a neat cover. Ideal and for only forty cents. What a bargain! (I still have that copy of the novel and have read it many times.)

If you ask me, you’ve read it too damn many times, and with the way your mind works, once was probably too many… but then again, knowing you as I do, you’ll probably read it again. By the way, Miss Bateman hated your guts.

There it is again. More writing. Whoever the hell you are, mind your own god damn business. I knew I shouldn’t have even mentioned Miss Bateman before.

I read The Time Machine for my book report and it scared the shit out of me. From my fifth grade perspective, this guy who didn’t even have a name built a time machine and traveled way ahead to the future, the year 802,701 AD to be exact. He found the place populated by people who called themselves Eloi. They were short stupid creatures… real dweebs… which wigged out this time traveling guy. Even back then, I pretty much understood that if in thousands of years we became those wimpy Eloi, we were pretty much done for and what I couldn’t figure out for myself, the stupid introduction to the book told me what to think. Thank god for stupid introductions since what they tell you to think is what the teacher… and later professors… want you to think, say and write. Saves a lot of time. A valuable lesson well learned. Hell, it even worked at KTI… give‘em what they want!

Well these Eloi were actually like cattle, meat, for the Morlocks, the creatures who lived below the ground and ran the machines that produced all the stuff the Eloi needed. These Morlocks were dreadful looking creatures who had adapted, evolved if you will, to living underground. White, hairy creatures with big eyes who couldn’t stand the sunlight since they lived in darkness. At night they’d round up the meat supply they needed, Eloi on the hoof, and take them below for butchering and consumption. They couldn’t come out during the day because bright light blinded them. At night, this time traveling guy used the light from matches as a weapon to blind the ugly bastards.

What’s this obsession with Eloi? Are you out of your… The real beast stands before you.

There’s another comment. What the fuck’s going on. Whoever’s writing this stuff, stay the fuck out of my journal! Who’s the real beast? I’m beginning to think it’s you, you prick.

This whole flesh-eating creatures living in the dark business reminded me of our cellar. The door to the stairs down to the cellar was right next to the door into our first-floor apartment. I always ran as fast as I could passed that cellar door, for our cellar was a place to be avoided if at all possible… a creepy place, even in the daylight… at night it was downright terrifying. The floor was dirt. There were only two dim bulbs hanging from the rafters at each end to light the whole place. An old coal furnace, converted to oil, dominated the center of the cellar. It was huge and when that sucker fired up, it sounded like a growling explosion… rattled the entire house… scared the living shit out of you. In the back, there was this old coal bin that we didn’t use anymore. The place was just plain creepy. I was reluctant to go down there alone in the warm weather even during the day and didn’t dare go down there at all once the weather got cold unless I absolutely had to… to get a hammer or something. And I set some kind of land-speed record going down and then up those stairs. You never knew when that furnace was going to fire up and scare the living shit out you.

The back of the cellar was a crawl space and I imagined all kinds of creatures lying in wait back there… waiting for a chance to grab me and if the furnace was roaring away, no one would hear me screaming for help. Reminded me of the Morlocks. I thought that that crawl space would be an ideal place for Morlocks to hang. Our Morlocks must have been cheap lazy bastards since they never produced anything, but maybe they were smarter than Wells’ Morlocks since we pretty much took care of ourselves, kind of like free range Eloi. The question in my mind was when would the bastards get hungry and when they got hungry, would they climb the cellar stairs to round up some meat… the meat being us in general and me in particular. I guess I thought of us as Eloi dweebs without realizing it.

Once, on a double dare from my younger brother Donnie, I ventured into the cellar after sun set. It was a matter of pride and honor. No one refused a double dare… just didn’t happen. I crept down those steps one careful step at a time. Each creak of those old steps gave me the willies. When I got to the bottom, I peeked around the corner to be sure that those two dim lights were on and they were. It was already dark outside making the whole adventure even more risky and terrifying. In the back of the cellar in front of the crawl space, there was a bunch of huge jars of peanuts and what looked like Chiclets gum. Donnie and I saw them for the first time earlier in the day from the cellar window. My quest: to grab some of those Chiclets from the back of the cellar to prove I had been there, the Chiclets being proof that I completed the dare and a sort of treasure or prize for doing so.

I could hear my heart pounding. I crept to the back of the cellar where the crawl space began. Looked to me like our Morlocks were finally getting into production which meant I had to be very careful, for the next thing they’d do after being productive was round up some meat… meaning me in this case. I prayed like hell that the furnace wouldn’t kick in as I carefully crept over to the crawl space. I gently grabbed the lid to one of the jars of what I thought were Chiclets gum and turned it slowly so as to make as little noise as possible. I felt like my stomach was about to jump out my throat. I didn’t want to wake up any of those Morlocks. I lifted the lid ever so gently, grabbed a handful of… yes… Chiclets! I stuffed the handful into my back pocket. As I did so, the furnace roared. I looked up and into the crawl space and I swear, two big round eyes were staring back at me. I jumped up and took off like a bat out of hell for the stairs. In my panic I knocked over the jar and Chiclets poured onto the dirt floor. I thought: “Boy would those Morlocks be pissed now!” I tore up those stairs and when I reached the hallway I slammed the cellar door shut and collapsed against the opposite wall. It took me a while to catch my breath. Donnie’s eyes were bugging out of his head. After what seemed forever, I pushed my back against the wall and slowly rose. I said nothing, reached into my back pocket and gave Donnie a bunch of Chiclets which he crammed into his mouth. I reached into my pocket a second time and grabbed what was left and shoved the remaining Chiclets into my mouth.

The whole Morlock production thing turned out to be a false alarm. My Uncle Louie had started a vending machine business and the jars of peanuts and Chiclets were his. He went on the hunt for who dumped his jar of Chiclets. I don’t know why he was all that pissed. All he did was scoop the Chiclets up from the dirt floor, blow off the dirt, dump them back into the jar and use them on his vending machine route like nothing happened. Nobody squealed on me because I was a hero for performing that most daring of deeds and the mystery remained unsolved until today. I considered myself lucky for I was sure that our Morlocks, as unproductive as they were, were still lying in wait beneath that crawl space.

Well I was giving my book report to Miss Bateman’s class. We had to give one oral book report to the class each semester. It was getting close to the end of the year and for me it was now or never… never being an “F” and I didn’t need another one. I had just got to the juicy part where the Morlocks are gathering up the Eloi for holiday roasts. (It was close to Thanksgiving so the class could identify with the Morlocks in a strange sort of way.) I had the class on the edge of their chairs when the fire alarms went off. Brring… Brring… Brring! Everyone, including me, jumped out of our skin.

Miss Bateman marched us out into the hallway and had us face the wall and yelled “Kneel, duck and cover!” We all squatted against the wall and covered the back of our heads with our hands. It was our first atomic bomb drill. Scared the crap out of all of us since we had no idea what was going on. Miss Bateman had warned us about the drill earlier in the year, but no one paid much attention. At least I didn’t. We were always getting warned about something. Then it dawned on me and a bunch of my classmates. It was for an atomic bomb attack. Back then even fifth graders knew that an atomic bomb blast would blow you to smithereens. We’d all seen the A-bomb go off on TV. Well we didn’t get blown up because it was only a drill… a surprise drill. I remember peeking down the hall and all the kids from the other classes had ducked and covered too. The whole damn school. Yeah, turns out it was only a drill… right… a fuckin’ drill! A drill that scared the living shit out of us!

And it was only a drill for us dweebs. None of the stupid teachers had to duck and cover. After what seemed an eternity, Miss Bateman marched her bunch of scared shitless fifth graders, including yours truly, back into our classroom.

It took a little while, but finally the class settled down and I resumed my report of the Morlocks munching on the Eloi like they were Thanksgiving turkeys and how it wasn’t such a very good thing for humanity. One kid, Gregg two g’s two z’s Lazzaro, asked me why the Eloi put up with the Morlocks eating them and I said because according to the introduction they evolved into meat and the Morlocks controlled the machines and evolved into the workers who ran the machines and needed the meat. I wasn’t sure of what “evolved” meant but I could tell Miss Bateman was very impressed. Everyone else was afraid to ask what it meant and so I slipped through. All the kids pretty much agreed that if they had a choice they’d rather be Morlocks although eating Eloi seemed pretty icky.

That first duck and cover drill still gives me the creeps… even today… a living fuckin’ nightmare. Seems like just yesterday. The very fact that we had to practice those atomic bomb drills made it all too real and terrifying. And who the fuck were those terrifying Soviets? Some kind of country of monsters who existed for one purpose… to kill us? Now it seems rather silly to duck and cover if you get hit by an atomic bomb blast.

As I grew older, I learned more about the cold war with the Soviets and the Cuban missile crisis. Technology marched onward bringing us ever more accurate missile systems and ever more powerful nuclear weapons, thanks in large part to the advances in computer technology and software development. I came to the realization that all this technology was making us less safe and less human. By my senior year of high school, I was determined to not become an engineer or scientist even though math and science were my best subjects and I had two scholarship offers to prove it. I decided to stick with the humanities and this is why I turned down those nice juicy engineering scholarships. And in spite of all that principle and dedication, all that concern for the future of humanity, there I was toiling away at KTI, the center of 20th century computer technology. I worked in the belly of technologies most ferocious beast. Gives me the Heebie Geebies just thinking about it. It’s like I was a traitor Eloi helping the Morlocks devour us. A god damn Judas goat Eloi!

You chicken shit! Is that a flashlight shoved in your pocket or do you like me?

Shit, there’s some more of those god damn comments.




The Tables Are Turned

I can see that arrogant bastard sitting there… Mr. Richard Tadd… staring at me from across the table casually sipping his coffee… black coffee if memory serves me… and smiling that supercilious smile of his. I can see him like it was yesterday. He was always smiling no matter the situation… smiling like some fuckin’ bemused Olympic god looking down at the goings on of us mere mortals… a pock-marked Olympic god at that, for one side of his face was badly scarred from burns he had suffered as a boy… his unkempt hair down to his asshole. When he stood, he was tall, thin and angular… all asshole and elbows when he moved any of those gangly limbs of his… his drinking his coffee involving these signature herky-jerky gangly movements and thus instilling fear in those around him with each sip … fear that they’d be victims of splashed hot coffee at any awkward Tadd moment.

Droplets of coffee clung to his scraggily mustache in a most unappetizing way as he sipped his black swill. Every now and then he raised his left arm, while precariously balancing his stupid coffee cup in his extended left hand, and ran his left shirt sleeve across his mustache to wipe off those droplets of coffee that still clung to the unruly whiskers above his upper lip. It was by unanimous consent that our tribe of pubs creeps had christened him ‘Lurch’, his tribal nom de plume. He looked like a Lurch. He moved like a Lurch. He ate and drank coffee like a Lurch. Hell, he probably slept and fucked like a Lurch.

This nom de plume business is interesting stuff… kind of my own little study in corporate cultural anthropology. Say that three times fast, buddy boy. It all started with my old buds the tech writing subcontractors that KTI buried deep in the bowels of the plant along with yours truly. We kind of adopted the practice from them. It’s their legacy to our tribe today… well not today, but yesterday, meaning a long time ago. Most of those subies have long since gone into technology’s metaphorical happy hunting ground in the sky since their contracts were terminated many moons ago… and some of them… at least one of them… has presumably gone into that real happy hunting ground in the sky having been permanently terminated from life as in dead… luckily for her fully equipped with an adult nom de plume… but just maybe the trip she took to that happy hunting ground wasn’t all that happy and initiated by forces outside of herself.

I think our practice of giving a nom de plume to each of our tribal members is kind of like what the American Indians did when they named their little papooses. I’ve read that American Indians were given two names: a unique name that they got as a child… all those little Indian munchkins couldn’t all be called ‘Little Brave’ and ‘Small Squaw’… and one that they got as an adult. When the time came, some tribal elder held some kind of tribal naming ceremony when an Indian had reached adulthood. It’s unclear to me how it was determined that the Indian about to be re-named had reached adulthood, but when it happened, a tribal elder gave the newly minted adult Indian a new name… a name that reflected some outstanding characteristic of that individual… and since the Indian being renamed had lived a while, it was now pretty obvious to the tribal elder and even his fellow Indians what that characteristic was. Thus the tribal elder bestowed an adult Indian name on the newly minted adult tribal member and that name reflected who the Indian really was or at least who the tribe thought he or she really was and not some name chosen at the whim of parents who pretty much had no idea who their little Indian munchkin would turn out to be.

Well our little tribe at KTI did pretty much the same thing. These turkeys showed up at our tribal doorstep with names their parents had given them… with the exception of a black guy, Jeremiah Smith, who had four alias, but that’s a whole different story… and we got to observe those turkeys gobbling around our tribal hunting grounds and after a while, us tribal elders gave the new gobblers our equivalent of an adult name… a nom de plume… that reflected their unique gobbling… who they really were… at least in the eyes of their tribal elders and fellow tribal members… meaning us. Sometimes the nom de plume wasn’t all that complimentary, but a person is who he is. Let the nom de plume chips fall where they may! And our tribe improved upon the Indian practice taking it a couple of steps further. Hell if we got the nom de plume wrong, we’d re-nom de plume the bastard and if the previously nom de plumed bastard changed, we’d re-nom de plume him… or her, can’t forget the ‘her’. And sometimes a guy can hoist himself on his own god damn nom de plume of a petard.

How’d the blast from that ol’ petard feel, buddy boy?

My local tribe of scribes gave Mr. Richard Tadd the nom de plume of Lurch because he was the spitting image of that TV character Lurch sans the hair, the butler in a television show that was popular back then… I think it was The Addams Family… so they christened him Lurch and Lurch he remained ever after, for the tribe had its own customs and culture… its own way of enforcing its code of behavior, and finding the right nom de plume for each member of the tribe was the first step of initiation into the tribe. Thus ‘Lurch’, which Tadd not only accepted but wisely gloried in. The tribe had accepted him and he had accepted the tribe in a tentative and odd sort of way, oddness being the norm for both the Tadd and the tribe.

I pushed the recently retrieved copy of Screw Magazine across my desk toward Tadd and opened it to the center fold.

“Look familiar?”

“Sure does!” This conversation is very easy to remember given the speaker and the circumstance.

“Well? What is it?”

“That’s a photo of a very close friend of the family… Cynthia Osterhoudt… goes by the stage name Twyla Twatly. She does performance art down in the Village. See over in the corner… she’s autographed it for me. How’d you get it? It’s my personal property.”

Sure enough, there, written in the corner of the photo, were the words ‘With All My Platonic Love, Twyla Twatly’. James and I had been preoccupied with the center of the picture and thus had missed the signature off in the corner as probably had the management chain above us, an understandable oversight given the subject of the center of the photograph and the makeup of those observing said subject.

I looked sternly at Tadd, giving him my most intimidating your-ass-is-in-deep-shit management stare. I pounded my index finger down on the picture for emphasis and said, “A security guard found this magazine opened to this picture on your desk last night.”

“So?” He was quick with his response and unintimidated, like the parry of a left jab by a confident challenger. It was like we were in some kind of rhetorical boxing match.

I jabbed back with a “So it’s inappropriate for a professional work environment.”

He remained unintimidated and parried my jab again. “What’s one of the company screws doing nosing around my cube anyway?”

I shot back “His job.” Then I jabbed back a third time looking for an opening for a knockout blow. “Besides, you made it easy for him. You left your desk lamp on. He was probably checking to see if someone was working late… like that’s going to happen in your cube. Like I said, this photo… in fact this whole damn magazine… is inappropriate for a professional work environment.”

He slipped my jabs with ease and jabbed back. “How so? Cynthia’s a professional, a nationally recognized performance artist. That photo’s ground breaking art. Is KTI against ground breaking art? You’d think that a company creating ground breaking technology would be all for ground breaking art.”

The interrogation was not going as I had planned!

Right, buddy boy.

Instead of me intimidating Tadd, Tadd was doing a pretty good job of intimidating me. I felt like it was me being interrogated, so I swung a mighty uppercut that I hoped would connect and end the fight. “Look, Tadd, we’re citing you with an industrial incident violation and placing a memo of reprimand in your personnel jacket.”

He looked bemused as he easily parried my upper cut. “What the hell’s an industrial incident violation?”

I danced and looked for another opening. “Any act that management deems detrimental to the product development process and to the employees working within that process. It’s a serious violation.”

Tadd smiled that damn bemused Olympic smile of his and threw a round house punch at me. “Sounds phony to me what with all that management deeming.” He pointed down at the photo with the same determination that I had, and possibly more, and said, “Even if I left this copy of Screw Magazine on my desk open to this ground breaking work of art and with my desk lamp on… none of which I admit to… it didn’t involve any product development process and hell, no one saw it but a company screw and the screw sure wasn’t involved in developing any products whether or not he saw my copy of Screw Magazine.” His round house punch connected, sending me reeling against the proverbial ropes.

I’d been stunned. Tad’s multiple uses of the word ‘screw’ were starting to confuse me, probably his intention, for I had dropped my rhetorical gloves for a split second and he then smacked me squarely on the button. He smiled and took another herky-jerky sip of his black swill and said, “I want to speak to my personnel rep. I’m getting shafted here with this industrial incident bull shit.” Bam… bam… bam!

The bout was much more difficult and punishing than I had anticipated. I was losing on points, moving toward the wrong end of a TKO with the distinct possibility of being just plain KOed. Tadd was no tomato can but it began to look like I was. I had planned to intimidate the bastard by reading him the memo of reprimand that I had written, have him sign it, and be done with it. Put a satisfactory end to the entire incident, but given Tadd’s self-righteous protestations and vigorous defense, I thought better of reading him the memo as I’d written it. I’d have to rewrite the damn thing, this time more carefully, now that a personnel rep would be involved.

He looked at me with his most annoyingly bemused ‘who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are-to-censor-great-groundbreaking-art’ stare and asked, “What’s the memo of reprimand say, anyway?” Bam!

I parried his punch… lied to him: “I haven’t written it yet. I wanted to speak with you first.”

There’s that ol’ integrity of yours shining through.

What’d you expect me to do? Grab my ankles and pray for Vaseline!

And then he staggered me, hitting me squarely on the button, hard… very hard… with a left hook. He had me on the ropes and he knew it: “How do I contact my personnel rep?”

I wrote the name William Whitcomb on a buck slip and an extension number. I knew the name and number well. He was the personnel rep for our area and it was his job to make sure that all employees weren’t getting screwed by management. I remember thinking that things were going to get very interesting in a Chinese curse sort of way.

For years James had been dueling with Mr. William Whitcomb, whom he dubbed All-Wet Willie. Whitcomb was James’s mortal enemy and I was about to participate in another of the grudge matches between our own fuckin’ Polish Prince and a certain Mr. All-Wet Willie, this time my role being the tennis ball that they would smash across the net at each other, a prospect that I did not look forward to, particularly given the pummeling I had just received in my metaphorical boxing match with Tadd.

As I heard it, the two first faced off a decade ago when James had taken a management personality profile test, which Mr. All-Wet Willie championed and administered to all employees in the lab whose career development plans indicated that they wanted to be managers. James’s test results indicated that he was psychologically unfit to be a manager according to the all-wet one, who put the test results and a written recommendation that James never be promoted to manager into James’s personnel jacket. James protested vehemently, ironically, through his personnel rep, and All-Wet Willie’s manager ordered the all-wet one to remove the information after a long and very contentious battle… a battle which also forced the wet one to terminate his pet testing project. James never forgot the incident and neither did Mr. William Whitcomb.

Maybe All-wet Willie and that test of his weren’t all that wet.

I gave Tadd the official management death stare, which he didn’t even bother to ignore, and covered up. “Call Whitcomb in personnel. He’s the personnel rep for our area.”

Tadd wasn’t done punching. He took the buck slip, read it and said, “I want my magazine back. It’s valuable and has a lot of sentimental value for me and my family.” Bam!

I continued my unacknowledged and now feeble death stare from the far corner of the ring. Leaning against the ropes, I muttered, “It’ll be returned to you when this matter is resolved.”

Ya know, you’re the real pussey. And you were going to save civilization as you want to know it?

Tadd smiled that very annoying bemused fuckin’ Olympic smile of his again, realizing full well that he had me on the ropes and said indignantly, “Well that photo had better not have any stains on it when it’s returned to me if you know what I mean… and I don’t mean coffee stains.” I knew full well what the bastard meant. He slammed his almost empty coffee cup onto the corner of my desk, knocking it over as he did so. Coffee splattered onto my desk as he stomped out of my cubicle. So ended a punishing Round 1. Tadd ahead on points.

If this were a real boxing match, you’d be in the hospital barely clinging to life. Maybe you should have blinded him with that stupid flashlight you’re so crazy about.

You’re a meal about to happen, asshole. I’d be a little more

circumspect, if I were you.

     Now that the reptilian part of your brain has been excited and your curiosity aroused or the other way around vis-á-vis excitement and arousal, it’s time to buy the entire novel, for there is much more fun in store for you as the blackmailing plot thickens and the posse decides to run for it’s life down Route 66 in a somewhat less than inconspicuous red 1958 Edsel Citation convertible. Neither you nor I will regret this purchase. To order, click on the following link:

To Purchase ‘Spanking Yesterday’




An update to the biography of Oxbow Lake the 2nd

What follows is a copy of a letter signed by a Mr. Oxbow Lake the 2nd and written to Peter Q. Peckerwood, a literary agent, after the letter’s author read Mr. Peckerwood’s book entitled How to Get a Really Good Literary Agent Who Really Cares About You and subtly subtitled The Story of an Agent Deserving of Your Sympathy. I thought that the letter would illuminate the current views of the letter’s author, possibly Mr. Oxbow Lake his very own self, on the publishing industry in general and literary agents in particular as these views will eventually greatly affect both and most likely influence the future of American literature regardless of the true identity of the author of the letter.

In the back of Oxbow Lake’s first novel, The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses, there appears a short biography of Oxbow Lake the 2nd entitled “About the Author and His Novel”. In fact, now that I think about it, that biography may be, at least in part, autographical in nature. To better understand someone self-reputed to be Oxbow Lake, the man and the author, and his views of the publishing industry and literary agents as relates to his letter to literary agent Peter Q. Peckerwood, I suggest that you read that article first. Then read the publisher’s note that appears in the front of this “novel” to clarify what you’ve already read. If you don’t have The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses, I suggest that you purchase a copy, read the novel and then read the biographical (and perhaps autobiographical) material at the back and then read the ‘Publisher’s Note’ at the front of this ‘novel’.

Since you’re probably too lazy to bother with any of the above, you can still read the letter and get a pretty good idea of what someone reputed to be Oxbow Lake the 2nd thinks of literary agents in general and Mr. Peter Q. Peckerwood in particular. The letter follows.

Oxbow Lake the 2nd

April 1, 2012

Dear Mr. Peter Q. Peckerwood, Jr., AAR, etc., etc.

After reading your book How to Get a Really Good Literary Agent Who Really Cares About You, I’ve decided not to send you a manuscript, unsolicited or otherwise. Instead, I am sending you a pair of my shoes (actually my sneakers). No disrespect is intended, for I actually enjoyed your book, particularly the funny parts, although I must admit that some of it was a slog and quite discouraging. All in all, I took much of what you wrote to heart.

While I try not to spend too much time reading any chapter or page with a “13” in its number to reduce the opportunity for the transference of bad luck, a quote of yours on page 513 of your book caught my eye in your thirteenth interludinary chapter: “to know how hard it is to be an agent, try walking in my seven-and-a-halfs and you’ll have a lot more sympathy for all agents in general and me in particular.” Well, Mr. Peckerwood, I did try walking around in a pair of seven-and-a-halfs and my feet hurt like hell, for as you can see, a likely outcome given that I wear a size 13 (which I believe may be the source of much of my bad luck and also why I love the song “A Man of Constant Sorrow”).

No need to return my 13s. Keep them and do with them what you will. You can even try walking in them suckers to know what it is to walk in my shoes. As to not sending you a manuscript, I am not doing so (or should I say “doing so” to avoid a double negative?) because my favorite author is John Kennedy Toole, who, as it turns out, happens to be dead. (I discovered this after finishing his first novel A Confederacy of Dunces and eagerly searching for his second.) Mr. Toole submitted the manuscript for his first novel and, as fate would have it also his last, to a publisher (Simon and Schuster, I believe) who rejected it on the grounds that it was about nothing, a concept that Jerry Seinfeld proved to be not of great disadvantage in the creative arts. The unpublished Mr. Toole, knowing that he had written an American classic novel, apparently became very discouraged, lost his sense of humor, gave up writing and committed suicide.

Since I would like to keep my positive view of humanity, my sense of humor, and my desire to continue to write while avoiding Mr. Toole’s self-inflicted final fate on this earth, I have decided not to send my manuscript to anyone, including you or your agency (even though you seem to be a nice person although given your above quote, somewhat self-centered which I believe to be common in your profession).

Besides, should I change my mind, I still do not think that I could send my manuscript to anyone living in San Francisco since I have another criterion for an agent or publisher other than acceptance: any agent or publisher that accepts my manuscript must also have recently enjoyed a savory meal of “Hoover pork”. This criterion probably eliminates many of the agents and publishers in New York as well leaving me with a very small pool of agents and publishers to accept my manuscript, but a man has to live by certain principles and I have at least two (see above).

I have the following suggestion for your book, your agency and the publishing industry in general. Not only should agents, editors and publishing houses list the books that they’ve accepted and that have become popular and, in some cases, classics. They should also list the books that have become popular and classics that they have rejected. It’s as American as baseball! Batters get statistics published on their strikeouts along with their hits and homers as well as their batting averages, regardless of how low. Pitchers get statistics published on such things as walks and balks as well as strikeouts, and the number of wins and losses, regardless of their winning percentage. And the record for each team is published daily during the baseball season, much to the dismay of such teams as the Houston Astros and, before last year, the Washington Nationals. To insure the accuracy and integrity of their performance measurements, Major League Baseball has an independent agency gather and publish their player and team statistics and so should the publishing industry.

I’ve included several recipes for Hoover pork below should your need arise for such information and the need may very well arrive given the state of the publishing industry in general and our economy in particular. I try to look at the positive side of the impending economic collapse of both: while such an event will decrease the number agents and publishers, it will likely increase my pool of acceptable agents and publishers.

Yours,

Oxbow Lake the 2nd

Proud member of the SFOLPMA

ARMADILLO AND ONIONS

1 armadillo

11/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 c. flour

3 tbsp. fat

3 lg. onions, sliced

1 c. sour cream

Soak meat overnight in salted water (1 tablespoon salt to 1 quart water). Drain, disjoint and cut up. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, paprika, roll into flour and fry in fat until browned. Cover meat with onion, sprinkle onions with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour in the cream. Cover skillet tightly and simmer for 1 hour.

ARMADILLO MEATLOAF

11/2 lbs. ground meat

2 eggs, beaten

1/8 c. dry crumbs

1 c. evaporated milk

1/4 onion, minced or grated

1/4 tsp. thyme

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Soak meat overnight in salted water (1 tablespoon salt to 1 quart water). Remove meat from bones and grind. Mix thoroughly with other ingredients. Place in meat loaf dish. Place dish in pan containing hot water. Bake in a moderate oven, 350 degrees for 11/4 hours to

To Purchase ‘Spanking Yesterday’

Spanking Yesterday is currently available in paperback and as a PDF ebook. It is also available as kindle and nook ebooks. The paperback is $13.95 and the PDF ebook is $5.00. The kindle and nook ebooks will be $4.99 when they are available. Particularly perceptive buyers for book stores and those who would like to give many copies as gifts (an act of great consideration, kindness and taste that I fully support and encourage) may want to order multiple copies at a discount.

Click on the button below to order the novel however you’d like:

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