Julie Collins: For our sixth interview with Dook, our Angwin / Yeti spokesman, we are shaking it up. Dook is joined by our first appearance of a female Angwin, Sally.

Before I take questions from the audience, the ushers will pass around a salad made by the Angwin.

OK, first question. Please give your name and where you live. You in the third row, red hat.

Hi, I’m Jane from Manchester England. Sally, if I’m pronouncing that right, who runs your people the males or the females?

Sally: You aren’t pronouncing it right, but I’ve never been able to do French right, so no problem.

We are fairly equalitarian. Unlike humans, we don’t have any “male” or “female” jobs, except that females are the baby makers. Females may have the edge when it comes to art, and males for tool making, but the difference is insignificant. The makeup of our councils is fairly evenly split.

Julie Collins: Let’s hear from the man in the seventh row with the purple coat.

Jake Mbenga from Capetown. We’ve heard a lot lately about politicians and celebrities accused of rape or assault on women. Does that happen among the Angwin?

Dook: Much like humans, Angwin men would like to live a long life, so no.

Sally: It happens, but it is rare for the reason the Dook gives.

If I may ask a follow up, why is that?

Dook: I’d like to say that we are an enlightened people. That is true. It is also true that the Angwin women are usually larger and stronger than the men. This is true in most animals, but not among most mammals. We don’t know why it is true for the Angwin.

Julie Collins: Let’s hear from the man in the Dude hat wearing an orange jacket.

Doug Hawley from Lake Oswego Oregon USA. In earlier interviews, Dook mentioned that Angwin live in caves and under the snow. Is it one or the other or both?

Sally: Dook and I chuckled about that earlier. It is both. We apologize for the lack of clarity, Dook made a mistake in suggesting it was primarily one or the other.

Julie Collins: The woman with the red hair and killer dress in row six.

Michelle Duval from Lyon, France. Sally, how were you chosen to be a part of this interview?

Sally: Same as Dook, short straw. Audience titters. Well, that was part of it, but the same as Dook, my English is good and I am knowledgeable in Angwin culture.

Julie Collins: Petite woman in Hello Kitty outfit, tenth row.

Miu Furingo Tokyo. I’m studying to be an environmental engineer and I appreciate the Angwin’s dedication to sustainability. How do you handle sewage and refuse?

Sally: I’ll take that because Dook seems to be sleeping or meditating. We generate very little waste, because we don’t wear clothing, except for this interview – the producer insisted that we cover the naughty bits – and don’t use packaging. Much like humans, we don’t eat the yellow snow. Chuckling from audience. Anyway, as you probably know, drinking urine causes no problems.

Julie Collins: Let me interrupt a moment. Did you get “naughty bits” from a Monty Python routine?

Dook: That’s right. The retrogrades have been sending up episodes. Are they making any more episodes?

Julie Collins: Sorry to say that one of the Pythons is deceased and the group doesn’t perform together any more. Sorry for the interruption, what were you about to say?

Sally: As a part of our sustainable practices, solid waste is used in our hydroponic gardens where we grow our vegetables.

How do you like your salads? Spitting and groaning sounds from the audience.

Oh come on, we’ve been eating this stuff for hundreds of years and no one ever got sick.

Julie Collins: I see that most of the audience is heading for the doors, so that concludes our sixth exclusive Angwin interview.

 


 

Doug remains a little old man, with website https://sites.google com/site/aberrantword/ and twit @dougiamm

“He snickered disagreeably. ‘Me, no,’ he said, ‘me, I don’t hang around here after dark.’ Grinning, satisfied with himself, he stood away from the car … perhaps he will keep popping out at me all along the drive, she thought, a sneering Cheshire Cat, yelling each time that I should be happy to find anyone willing to hang around this place, until dark, anyway.”
                                                                                    Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

 

     There will always be a Dudley the caretaker dispensing unwanted advice, undermining your resolve to go on that year-long safari, or ignore those travel advisories from the State Department, or explore that haunted house—give up your job, your apartment, and just take off without telling any friends. Maybe you consider your friends much too cautious, or have no friends you care about. You’re drawn to the dark. You crave the unknown, the thrill of finally leaving the ordinary behind.

     You’ve been invited to Hill House by some paranormal researcher you don’t know, your monstrous mother’s finally dead, you’re free to go. You’re haunted too. You’ve been having dreams where you run up and down stairways, out of breath, corridors twist and turn and you’re completely lost, no way to retrace your steps. You quicken your pace and your heart begins to pound. Whispers from the empty elevator shaft are getting louder. Is it your mother, come back from the dead? You peer down into the darkness, swaying on your feet.

     When you accepted the invitation to spend a week with strangers, you were thinking a real haunted house might dispel those dreams and memories. Or maybe you weren’t really thinking, just obeying your instinct to escape now that the door to your cage was open.
(more…)

Lazlo the Bear was kicked to death one night by three men half his age, but he didn’t let that define him. Instead he swallowed the unfortunate incident whole and washed it down with cider and thick fingers the next morning.

It was unfair, of course: he owed no one. None of that shit, he would tell them, everywhere.  But nothing is fair, his grandmother whispered, and he knew she spoke the truth. For she was sly and strong like him, and hung neatly around his neck.

He didn’t go to the funeral, but he watched. Little robin Lazlo in the bushes: what a joke. Only the strangers came – skulls bared, eyeing him carefully where he hid. The priest spoke tight English sadnesses and knew nothing of him, but his kind heart beat so loudly that it was enough for Lazlo. He left his last tall tale on a hook by the chapel door and slipped out.

So, Lazlo is dead. Those faces at the centre would be so surprised now by his liberties, his open plans, his hollow bones. He should slide through the secure doors and peck at their papers, just so, just to show them. Sign here, sigh there, Lazlo the Swift. (more…)

     Teresa, you have one new match on Tinder.

     For all the fucking good that’ll do, says you. You’ve one new match on Tinder, your screen blinking under the glare of too-bright sunlight as you expire alone in the foothills of the San Jacinto, midsummer Californian heat haze melting you into nothing. What a world, indeed. Dying of dehydration is among the worst ways to go out, up there with drowning, (which’s ironic, really). When they find you, you’ll still be yourself, just without the water weight. Skin clinging to the bone underneath it, thin, almost transparent. “Withered”, Teresa, is the word you’re looking for.

     Teresa who cares what word you’re looking for when you’re as good as dead. And worse, unable to meet your new Tinder match. She’s an Irish ex-pat, too, you two would have so much in common already. Well, maybe she’ll come to your funeral. She can spend the rest of her J1 holiday mentioning how she matched on Tinder with the girl who got lost in the desert, and sure Jesus isn’t it awful altogether. That’s how you’ll be remembered, Teresa.
(more…)

     The bottle on the table between them is almost empty. As soon as the man consumes his cigarette down to the filter, he lights another. His hand trembles so that the ash spills onto his fine woolen coat.

     In contrast to the coat, his face is unshaven, the skin dry, the hair unkempt. His bloodshot gaze darts about incessantly, settling hungrily on the woman before flitting away again.

     He’s there again, he says, indicating slightly with the cigarette.

     Instead of looking behind her, the woman stares at his yellowed fingers. Her face is compassionate, although, just for an instant, her mouth twists.
(more…)

     After dinner the conversation swings around to Myers-Briggs. Me I’m an ENTP, says the host. I’m an ISFJ, says the hostess. Is she ever, says the host. One of their friends says, that sounds about right. I could have guessed, she says.

     The others are unfamiliar with the personality test so the three explain. How there are four categories and in each you’re either one or the other. Introverted (I) or Extroverted (E). Sensory (S) or Intuitive (N). Thinking (T) or Feeling (F). Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

     One woman looks at her husband and says, well it’s sure no secret what you are. What the hell’s that supposed to mean, he says.

     A suggestion is made that everyone take the test and all of them are into it except for one man opposed to the idea. One of the guests pulls out his phone, calls up one of the many personality indicator tests on the internet, reads aloud the questions. The hostess gets paper and pencils for everyone so they can write down their answers. This is way better than charades, someone says.
(more…)

I catch my breath when I see the spangled curtain of the night sky. When did I last see stars? With the vicious smog I’d almost forgotten they exist. I want to stand still, stare up, but it’s not safe. I must get back.

The roads are treacherous, more so in the dark. Dwellings loom on each side, hulks of black, for who can afford light, nowadays? The wind blows its warm breath in my face; I taste acid. I clutch my bag closer, with the meagre haul – coarse bread, roots – that will have to last till next week.
(more…)

my horoscope told me the sun would be returning, cycling back to its eleventh house, that when it came, finally, I could release the meat of my tongue after a month clamped, cut between my teeth, biting back each word I would have spit, if I could, at Annie, to Heather, each fuck you curdled in my mouth, held there with nowhere to go because I’ve forgotten how to swallow, because it’s impolite to curse the dead, because when I try to make a sound I feel something squeeze; a fist with rotting digits, that smell like calf-skin, like a garden shed, spilled gasoline, mechanic’s gloves it found somewhere, stole in exchange for a body, put on though the devil doesn’t leave fingerprints. In each curse I try to spit is a dead thing come to finish a job, a man-sized creature, hungry, wringing tighter until something pops, shatters, until the wishbone sound of my cracking neck is painfully audible to the nosebleed seats and here, now, again is the sensation of waking up still walking, teaspoons of ashes collected in my throat, gasping and pleading and feral, a dirt-fed fairy tale princess who has survived battles only to lock herself away in a second floor tower, donning a cape of twin sheets, stationed by a picture window, forever watching the driveway, watching the neighbors come and go, watching parents come and go, watching you ring the bell, day after day, you, coming, showing up, sitting on the steps, waiting at the curb keeping your own watch in your rust bucket of a car, you waiting for me to – what? –  let down the hair I twist anxiously around nails bitten down to the beds? For me to talk to you? For me to ask to see you when you come to pick up my homework? I am a monk now, a nun, you bring me worksheets and assignments, you collect them all, folders full of endless essays on anything that is not that day, that is not that bullshit moonless night, that is not a homecoming, a Halloween, the crush on you I cannot keep, the safety I once felt in a stranger’s house. You bring me charity case flowers and I pass down to you 5,000 words on a shattered visage, a wrinkled lip, a sneer of cold command, mangled equations, paragraphs of all the fucking nonsense they would have given me shit for, all the work I shouldn’t be doing, all the books I could be forgetting, names, dates, places, a treatise on the Treaty of Versailles, the anatomy of the inner ear, stars and crescents, labeled maps of pieces of our bodies and the ways they are connected; bones that can be shattered, the ligaments and striated muscles too easily sliced, and I touch the scars, the unruly line across my shoulder, my upper arm, the itching nicks on my palms, disruptions of life, fate, head, heart, a palmistry chart of what is lost, of Annie, of Heather, of Brad, even, of what I’ll never prove to them, of the fuck you they deserved minutes, hours, days before I could scrawl, without irony, some half-hearted regurgitation of thoughts on teen angst and body counts. My horoscope told me I’m in team-player mode, drenched in the spotlight of the sun, that my feelings could erupt into a consummation of some romance, some crystal-clear articulation of my desires; but if I called down to you I would want for you to take me somewhere, to help me figure out how to speak the words I haven’t articulated yet, to repeat, to repeat, to say everything but what you wish me to tell you, your wide-eyes, your dumb virgin letterman’s jacket, your stupid good hair, the way you never gave me the proper time of day before and the way even this Cosmo quiz tells me one day I will beg for you to do something, take me back, pull me apart, fashion a crude machine from a wire hanger, to bleed me or make me forget, reverse the spell or, maybe, leave me where they found me, that terrible place, that Laura Ashley guest room, that immaculately organized closet, a place dark as pitch, a place where I dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”, the place where I lived, where I live still, where I will live again, where the logic of the movie says maybe I should stay away from you to save myself.

 

(more…)

     Sluggo straw-slurped the last drop from his 64oz beverage cup. “Mommy, Daddy, is it true that some people cook their own food?” Sluggo wore an empty fries box for a hat.

     “Daddy, why does Sluggo only eat fries?” Mommy bled from her nose. Daddy thought nothing of this.

     Daddy caught a fly with his hand. “Our son is a humanitarian, Mommy.”

     Mommy tilted her head back. “What, if I may ask, is a humanitarian?”

     Daddy looked around. “A humanitarian is someone who doesn’t eat burgers, or nuggets, or sausage patties.” Daddy liked the feel of a fly in his hand. “Just fries, Mommy.” (more…)