Tag Archives: weird

Customer Service

* For a brief explanation about this project, please click here.

Good to see you again sir.

Again? Have we…have we met before?

No sir, I just remember you from your photograph.

Oh. The uh-right, you’ve seen my picture because of the, okay. I get it.

Yes. And how can I help you?

I’m here to collect those photographs actually. Jennifer Cross.

 

And you are?

Her boyfriend.

John. Correct?

No.

Oh… Steven?

Darren.

 

Darren! Almost got it. How was your vacation Darren?

Uhh…fine…

Hawaii?

Yes. How did you-

I love Hawaii.

Okay, this is a little strange. You shouldn’t, uh, you shouldn’t really be looking at our photographs.

 

But how can I determine if they’ve been suitably processed?

No, I get that, but you shouldn’t be looking at them.

How can I avoid looking at them sir?

You just can. I don’t know. Just don’t look at them. Don’t interpret the photographs.

Sir, I see a photograph and instinctually contextualize it. Like words. I cannot not read a word.

No. No. This isn’t cool. I’m not okay with you investigating my life.

 

A photograph is a memory. A citation. A bookmark placed on a point of significance during one’s life.

A photograph is a personal memory man. It belongs to me. Not you.

Well, that’s where our opinions differ sir. You handed this memory to me. And I made it so.

What? What are you talking about?

My machine and I brought your memory into the physical world Darren. And in doing so it became my memory too. Such are the consequences. These are our photographs. Our memories.

I want to speak to your manager. This is just completely inappropriate.

 

How is Jennifer?

Don’t ask about her. Don’t even mention her. You don’t know her.

I’m afraid I do. She likes olive oil on her bread and she’s learning the Ukulele. Correct? Of course I am.

Give me my photographs you fucking creep!

They’re my photographs too. Haven’t you been listening?

I’m calling the police, man. This is fucked.

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The Whiskey Wagon and the Wild Women

 

The young cadet that skipped town.

The young cadet that skipped town.

* For a brief explanation of this project please click here.

That hazy blurred photograph was all I had to go on. I’d come all the way up, deep into the Valley, onto that vague carpet of suburbia some hack town planner blindly kicked off into the distance, just to get this photograph. I hate it up here. Awful little fauxdobe terracotta topped building blocks as far as the eye can bear to see all lined up waiting for the Big One to come and spare them the shame of their own crass form. Inside these cubes lies a community that all suddenly decided to tune in, get fat, find God, and sit in front of the tube allowing their bodies to congeal and wilt, and their brains to pickle and stew. They want to prune their little lawns and protect them with obnoxious sprinklers that spray onto the sidewalk preventing you from passing. Like they’ve hired some huge drunken dick to piss through a sieve. Going into the San Fernando Valley was like wading up to your knees in the Mid West.

The photograph in question was an amateur portrait of some soldier. Some handsome young military buck who probably knocked up some young thing and left Pasadena under the mask of the evening, leaving his poor old lady behind to fend for herself. Part of me doesn’t blame him. I couldn’t allow myself to recede like a dying house cat into this tragic gorge, and the tone of voice on the message his old lady left me was pretty God damn irritating. Nasal. I can’t stand a nasal woman, particularly when she’s getting on my wick about something. But the other part of me says that you don’t sneak out like some piece of shit coward. You go out like a man, and take whatever scorn she throws at you on your chin.

She’d left a message around 2am last night. I was snuggly incubated by a near quart of some cheap blushed rye that had left a thick film on my tongue and rasp in my throat. I was out. I might’ve appeared dead from ten feet had it not been for the pungent scent of a good, hard second-hand drunk that filled the air. I woke up at 10:15. My mouth tasted like brined old leather and my head felt like it’d been tumble dried with an ashtray full of loose change. After months of little tastes here and there, the odd stumble and slur, there was now a solid case to convict me of falling haplessly from the wagon.

I saw the answer machine blinking its red light at me through a gap in my fingers. I rolled over and slapped the buttons hoping I didn’t hit delete again. Her nasal voice started up like a tiny little leaf blower. I’ll spare you the peas and carrots and get to the meat and potatoes. Her husband was gone and she needed someone to find him. She looked in the phonebook and that ad I told those pig fuckers to remove caught her eye. She called me crying, scared, and explained what she needed me to do.

So here we are. Driving back from her ghastly place with nothing to go on but this blurred image she left for me in an envelope under the plant pot on her porch. No sign of nothing else. I decided to stop in at the liquor store and buy another quart of that rye. I thought it best to go home at once, wonder at the blurred image of this young cadet while I throw out a towel, kick back and marinade in the petri at the base of this here bottle of sweet, sweet rye.

Ahhh, to be back.

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The Tree

The Tree

Myself, and The Tree and the deeds to The Tree.

* For an explanation as to what this project is all about please click here.

I bought The Tree in May of 1959. A Wednesday it was. I recall there being an oppressive, sweltering heat pressing down from above, but it was soothed, consoled, by a delicate ocean breeze that smelled so faintly of a final moment in bloom. It was the perfect weather to cut the ceremonial red tape of a successful agriculture transaction.

The Tree in question was my first, and indeed my last, business venture. I’d been on the market for one like it for several months. I’d been a perfect horticultural pervert about the whole affair. I’d peer through hedges, scale fences under moonlight, consult district planning records and frequent the ghostly corridors of the grand Central library, searching earnestly for the barky creature I so desired.

I came within a half whisker of finding what I needed on several occasions. I would locate a handsome tree, thoroughly scrutinize its potential under the cloak of night, and deem it a good tree. But the problem came when I would attempt to badger the owner into parting with the frivolously bushy accessory to their land.

‘I’m not going to do anything seedy with it,’ I would say, ‘If you’d be so gracious as to allow me that pun.’

That was my line. It would never fail to arouse at least a residual snigger, or a short, nodding nose breath. However they would then stare at me with arms tightly locked and a hard-boiled look of suspicion etched all over their faces. And then they would inevitably ask:

‘Why?’

Of course I couldn’t possibly divulge. They wouldn’t sell me their tree if they knew its darkest secrets. No, no. I would explain that I simply really liked trees, but that I lived in a condo. I would then lie and say that I’d tried discharging my sapling lust with a bonsai tree, but that it was far too small to climb. I never did think of a bonsai tree pun.

The lady that eventually sold me The Tree was an old crow who was more than a tad senile. And in truth, I wondered if I might be guilty of committing a lewd act of shady commerce on her. She explained that she was very fond of The Tree indeed, but that it had cats in it. She said that I was more than welcome to buy the tree for $30 if I took the cats away. We spat the viscous bond of American agreement onto our palms and duly sealed the deal.

Two blissful weeks after this transaction the old lady died of time, and The Tree, allegedly part of the property on which it sat, was taken from me and given to the unsuspecting mailman referenced in her will. I tried to make a terrible stink, but was swiftly informed that a verbal agreement and a spit-moistened handshake between two parties is not recognized as contractually binding in the state of California, and particularly not when one or both of the parties are certified as mentally handicapped. And just like that, my days as a rag and bone and tree man were brought to an abrupt yet poignant conclusion.

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Research – Warm-up

 

Research

 

* For an explanation of this project click here

‘Huh, I feel like I’m being interviewed on television,’ he said, sinking back in the chair. He allowed his shoulders to kneed around the back of the chair for a comfortable space. ‘So what exactly are you going to ask me Julie?’

I smiled at him. He glanced at the notebook in my hands, and then shuffled his shoulders around again against the back of the chair. He crossed his legs, and then uncrossed them again. I glanced at the question written at the top of the otherwise blank page. I dragged a finger down the page, over the lines. I watched his fingers drumming nervously on the padded arms of the chair.

I leant over to the tape deck beside the fireplace and pressed the red record button. I relaxed back in my chair.

‘This is Julie Roth, interviewing Douglas….’

‘O’Hara’ said Doug.

‘Douglas O’Hara. Okay Doug, we’ll start with your earliest childhood memory. Can you tell me about that?’ I said.

Doug looked up to the light and narrowed his eyes to slits. I’d started to notice that people looked to light bulbs for answers deep in their past. Perhaps there was something about the bright light that could expose these dormant memories from the dark corners in which they sat. Doug seemed to squish his face up, even clasp his jaw little, and I could tell that the exertion the recollection of this memory was taking was pushing Doug somewhere he hadn’t been for a while.

‘I was about three, or four maybe-‘

‘Which was it Doug? Three or four?’

‘Eh, three.’

‘You’re sure?’ I said.

‘Yes.’

‘Okay, so what happened Doug? Don’t worry, you’re doing great.’

I gave him a quick smile to reassure him. He was still rolling his shoulders around, doing things with his legs, desperate to find the seated equivalent of crossing his arms.

‘I remember being outside, sitting the empty driveway, in fall.’

‘Whose driveway?’

‘Our driveway.’

‘How did you know it was fall?’

‘There were leaves everywhere. Brown, orange, fall leaves.’

He leant forward and took a drink of water. I could see him shaking a little. He sat back in his chair and looked again to the light.

‘And who was there with you Doug?’

Doug kept looking to the light. He squinted at it again before pinching his nose and ruffling his brow.

‘I don’t recall.’

‘Doug, who was there with you?’

‘I don’t recall.’

‘Try harder.’

‘I, I…don’t….I can’t remember who was there, I can’t. But, but there was, someone.’

I looked down to my notebook and quickly scribbled my thoughts. I kept my exterior completely stoic, but inside I beamed.

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Daily Warm-Ups – A Mouthful of Banana

This is the first in a lengthy series of creative writing pieces based on photographs of dead people. I have been known to frequent estate sales and purchase neglected photographs of the recently department. They’re very good mental stimulants for my writing, and I love the idea of a memory that was saved from the abyss, and interpreted without prejudice or any sense of context beyond its own borders.

I know that it’s weird, but to me there is something endearing about giving fresh life to an expired thought.

Bill and Carson

‘Bill,’ said Carson as he peeked his head around the door, ‘is now a good time to chat?’

Bill looked up from the piece of paper on his desk and turned to Carson, who was now standing in the open doorway. He’d been staring at the same sentence for the last two minutes, and the same piece of paper for the last ten. His eyes gave a clumsy flutter, as if his eyelashes were sweeping the text away. He nodded to the old man in the doorway, and smiled.

Carson walked through the office, taking in all of the jumbled piles of paper and scattered half-thoughts that decorated the surfaces. Bill carefully slipped the piece of paper into his drawer and snapped it shut. Carson gestured to the empty seat across from Bill’s seat. Bill smiled and shook his head.

‘Uh, okay. Bill, this uhm,’ started Carson, shuffling awkwardly from side to side as he looked at the piece of paper in his hand, ‘this uh, request, you made for changes in office policy. You obviously understand that this is grossly unacceptable right? I mean, you understand that right?’

Bill smiled and leant back in his chair. Carson looked to the door. He fumbled again with the paper. He moved towards the desk.

‘Listen, is everything okay at home Bill? I mean, I don’t mean to pry, but you can tell me. I’ve known you for, God, going on eleven years. This,’ he said, holding up the piece of paper in his hand, ‘this isn’t you Bill. You’re a good man. Is Marcy okay? And what about little Lewis? Is everything okay at home?’

Bill held his stare as he leant back further into his chair. He slowly put his hands behind his head, and raised his bare feet up and rested them on his desk between a pile of documents and coffee cup filled with rum. Carson let out an awkward cough. He ruffled the paper and looked back towards the door. Harold, the aging security guard peeked his head around. Below the desk Carson held out his hand to halt Harold from coming any further.

‘Bill,’ he said as he took a deep breath and puffed out his chest, ‘you’re my friend and all, we go back, but we’re gonna have to suspend you with immediate effect. Like, immediate effect. Do you understand?’

Bill’s smile came apart and his teeth appeared, glinting between his lips. He leant forward in his chair and opened his desk drawer. Next to the piece of paper was a banana left over from his lunch. He grabbed the banana, closed the drawer and reclined back again. He peeled it and took two large bites, devouring the entire fruit, leaving only the little heel and the flaccid yellow skin. He tossed the peel onto the desk between them.

‘Go fuck yourself Carson’ said Bill, with a mouthful of banana.

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Sixes – Korea Peoples Asia Pussy

Based on true story that happened to two friends of mine last weekend.

Hello?

Hello my friend!

Hello? Can uh, can I help you?

Yes.

What uh, what can I do for you?

You know the Asians?

 

I think you’ve got the wrong house, man.

It’s in this this buildings no? The Asians? Here.

There might be people from Asia in here, but I don’t know everyone here.

No the Asians? Korea peoples?

Perhaps.

Hats?

 

Try the intercom thing. You see, that thing there?

No no friend, this thing is no good. I need the pussy.

What?

The pussy. Asian pussy.

Uhhh…

Korea peoples Asia pussy.

 

Okay, I think maybe you’d better –

Hookers. I want it.

I really don’t think there are any of those here.

I need it. The hookers. Big hookers.

Have you – What’s that on your wrist?

Hands?

 

Which hospital did you come from?

I don’t know. Friend, where the pussy?

No, no the hospital. Which hospital?

It’s a big one. My friend, the Korea hookers I wanna see.

Uhh. This is too much man.

No, no, no too much. I have the money. See see?

 

It’s early dude, go away, I’m just not in the mood for this right now.

This the door?

The door to what dude? No hookers here. No me gusta, fuckin’, hookers, por fa-fuckin’-vor!

What?

Just get the fuck outta here man.

Yes! Fuck. I wanna the fuck all the big Asia pussy.

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The Bernstein’s Wedding

Screen Shot 2013-01-02 at 3.05.31 PM

Explanation

* You can click on the images to enlarge them.

Page 1 jpeg

Page 2 jpeg

Page 3 jpeg

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Descriptions – Part One

I found what I was looking for in an old worn shoebox. The shoebox was in the bottom of the closet. The closet was in the corner of the study. The study was at the back of the house, over looking the over grown garden. I knew that they would be somewhere like that. I’d checked under the bed in the man’s room. I’d looked in the drawers in his dresser. I looked on his messy, cluttered desk. I knew that they would be somewhere. Somewhere hidden, so that they didn’t interfere with anything around them.

I pulled out the shoebox and looked around before I opened it. There were people mulling around, picking things up and checking price tags. A lot of things didn’t have price tags. Some people liked those things. I was one of those people. I could hear them in the other rooms haggling over prices of things. I heard people saying things like, “Oh, this would be nice in the den” and “I wish this hadn’t been painted white”.

I looked back at the shoebox. It was an old thing. Maybe from the early eighties. The old price tag was still on the box. The corners had been frayed and bashed in. They had started to burst out of their shape and show their little card fibers. I could smell the box over the smell of mothballs and the carpet. It smelt like old paper that had been soaked in the rain and dried in the sun. Everything in the house smelled so old and stale, but this box had a little freshness still trapped inside it.

I opened the box and saw a mass of paper and cards and receipts and pictures. All the paper had turned a light brown and a little crispy, like it had been blasted by time. I pushed my hand down onto the paper. I heard it crunch a little, like dead leaves. I started carefully picking through the box. The same handwriting marked everything. It was the handwriting of an older man. It was sharp and pointed. It was elegant. Thought was given to each dip and swoop of the pen. I started to flick through things, pulling something out now and again to look at it. I looked at strips of paper with thoughts and reminders written on them, postcards, from Paris, Rome, Cairo, letters, from Ohio, Delaware, Ontario, and photographs, from places I didn’t know.

I pulled out a postcard. It was a painting of some 50s saloon bar in Vegas. I turned it over.

“We need to talk when I get home. I’ve been thinking” it read. There was no address, no stamp and no sender information. Other than the handwriting.

I sat the box down and stared at the words again. I ran my fingers across the back. I felt the bumps in the ink like braille. I closed my eyes and breathed in. I smelled everything in the house around me, and imagined the man that lived there, and what he’d been thinking.

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Freeze

Recently I’ve taken to freezing my co-worker’s ties. I do it to spite them. My tie disappeared a long time ago. So by owning a tie they make me look bad. I feel like the owner of the company sees me as some kind of Acme time bomb. He thinks my lack of tie may develop into a lack of punctuality, then a lack of attendance, and conclusively, a lack of respect and adoration for him and his business. I would ardently contest that publicly, but wholeheartedly agree with it privately.

So I freeze their ties. I come to work tieless, lower neck and upper chest triangle perversely exposed, and beg a tie. The person leaving the shift as I take over can usually be bullied/charmed into giving me their tie by my rather septic personality. They tend to pity the young Scotch man arriving in The America from a far off third world nation, with only a dream to his name, and a tie in his heart. I see their eyes go soft and moist, and I know, then, that I have their tie.

As they hand it over they say, Ross, don’t you do something weird to this tie. I’m doing this as a favor to you. You can pay me back by sparing me your oddities.

I say, Yes, yes, yes, don’t worry. I’m not going to do anything to your tie, I say. I’m a mischievously vasectomized adult with no agenda beyond complying with the workplace fashion.

But in the back of my mind I’m thinking, Haha. I’m going to freeze your fucking tie.

The most recent was a thin, handsome tie given to me by a thin, handsome man called Darren. Being younger than me I treated him as doughy, tender prey, vulnerable to my aggressive advances. He handed over his tie and asked me to put it in the drawer for him at the end of my shift.

I laughed, and told him that I was going to freeze it.

He asked me not to.

I said, I’m sorry Darren. I’m going to freeze your tie. You deserve it. You and your tie disgust me. I might spend the rest of my shift spitting into a bucket and or pail and use my phlegm as a lubricant to ease the freeze.

He sighed, and clocked out.

Until they stop wearing them I will not cease wrangling their ties from them. I will continue to feed straightened coat hangers through them. I will keep dipping them in water. And I will always place them carefully in the freezer overnight, freezing them into one big straight piece of brittle fabric.

I’m a renegade. You’re either with me, or against me.

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Touch me & See – Based on a True Story

* This just happened next to me in Starbucks.


Try it.

Please sit down sir.

Touch me.

Sir. Sit down please.

Touch me.

Sir. Please. Will you please sit down please?

 

Touch me.

What’s gonna happen if I touch you?

Touch me and see.

I’m not gonna-

Touch me. Touch me and see.

Sir?

 

Touch me.

Sir, you’re going to have to leave.

Touch me and see.

Sir-

Touch me. Touch me and see. Touch me.

I’m not-

 

Touch me and see.

What’s going to happen?

Touch me and see.

What’ll happen if I touch you?

Touch me and see.

Touch you and see?

 

Touch me mother fucker.

I don’t want-

Touch me and see.

No-

Touch me. Touch me. Touch me and see.

No. I’m not touching anything.

 

Can anyone see I’m shakin’?

We’re going to have to call the police sir.

So who gonna touch me?

Nobody sir. Nobody’s gonna touch you.

Someone gonna fuckin’ touch me, and someone gonna fuckin’ see.

Okay sir, I’m just gonna-

 

 

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