The Railman and Involuntary Manslaughter: A Bit of Fiction, Perhaps Going Nowhere

Here is a bit of fiction I felt inspired to write. I bid you enjoy, or, if necessary, I apologize in advance. Thanks for reading.

When Ben Samson stepped into Lucky’s with his two compadres, it hadn’t been his intention to stick the place up. The mechanism on his belt was loose and it was clacking even louder than his spurs. He had been trying to tighten it up as Wiseman burst through the batwing doors. The hinges screeched and the heavy clomping of The Railman’s footfalls as he followed Wiseman undercut the shrill squeak with a menacing staccato bass. Samson barely noticed. He was accustomed to the brashness of the other members of his small posse. He continued messing with his mechanism, stumbling when the doors swung back and smacked him in the chest. He tilted backward; surged forward to regain equilibrium; shot through the doors clumsily, expecting tighter hinges. The toe of his boot caught in an uneven floorboard and he stumbled forward again, still fiddling with his belt. The latch on his calf released, allowing the barrel of his rifle to swing upward from its perch perpendicular to his leg. The barrel came to a rest jutting forward from his hip at a ninety-degree angle, driven and finally supported by the same infernal mechanism Ben had been performing maintenance on in the first place.
The man behind the bar was unaccustomed to being robbed. His establishment was not a bank, after all, but the severity of the trio’s entrance convinced him in an instant that a robbery was indeed occurring. He began filling the bar with anything of value he could find, spilling whiskey and beer over paper and coins in his haste to comply with orders that had not yet been given. He was so caught up in this task that he failed to notice Samson distractedly trying to wrestle his rifle back to its original position.
No one but The Railman noticed the batwings flying open again. He trundled forward noisily, drawn by the sudden movement. He now stood face-to-face with a tall, bearded man whose eyes widened at the sight in front of him. The bearded man drew a revolver from his hip and loudly ordered everyone onto the ground. What happened next happened so quickly that no one participant was able to recall the entirety of their own actions. The following account is pieced together from the combined memory fragments of everyone present, excepting, unfortunately, the bearded man:
The bartender ceased dumping valuables onto the bar. He froze in place with a bottle in one hand and a bowtie of bills crumpled in the other. Samson spun toward the sound and the rifle he had just secured came loose once again. It swung back up to its hip-fire position. The bearded man swung his aim from The Railman to Samson. Wiseman chortled and began digging through his pockets for his eyeglasses. The Railman swiveled to face the bearded man again and began to make a strange noise that was somewhat gurgle with a bit of wheeze thrown in. The bearded man’s eyes stopped bulging and his mouth dropped open. He flapped his lips a few times, but any words that may have been formed were lost in the growing noise coming from The Railman. It now sounded something like a tea kettle coming to a boil. The bearded man covered his left ear with his left hand. His right never wavered but held a steady bead on Samson who had once again nearly secured his rifle against his leg. The Railman’s whine increased steadily in pitch. Somewhere outside a dog yowled. Wiseman clapped his glasses across his nose then clapped his hands. The Railman began to emit a less ear-piercing but no less frightening noise that sounded like a train whistle muffled by dense fog. As he emitted this sound, a cloud of steam poured from his mouth. The bartender thawed out and hit the floor, his shirt sopping up spilled inebriants, his head and back assaulted by falling bottles. The steam hit the bearded man square in the face, reddening his skin and then peeling it back. It filled his open mouth and the screams he tried to scream were realized only in his own head. The bearded man fell backward. A bit of steam chuffed from his mouth and nostrils when his head bounced against the floor planks. His revolver fell from his hand and his overcoat fell open to reveal an iron star pinned to his vest. Wiseman stopped clapping. The Railman stopped emitting steam and his noises quickly cycled down to silence. Samson’s mouth dropped open and his rifle again sprang up to hip-fire mode. The bartender made a pathetic whimper and vomited, adding a new element to the soup of liquor and broken glass behind the bar. Samson passed out and fell backward, firing his rifle into the ceiling when his head bounced against the floor planks.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…watch for more of this if it was something you enjoyed. I may post future bits as I write them.

A don’t…hold your breath for the next installment. A lot of times my stories start out strong (meaning that I write a lot when I start a new story, not necessarily meaning that the stories themselves are strong), but peter out before I get to a conclusion.

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Snapchat VS. Superman: A Paradigm Shift in the Field of Nerdology

Ever since I developed a more than rudimentary cognitive ability, I’ve hated Superman. The main reason was that his Clark Kent disguise seems laughable. A pair of glasses and a few hairs brushed off of the forehead? Ludicrous. Of course I reference the derisive descriptive term rather than the well-known rap artist.

But perhaps I am wrong. And perhaps the depth of my mistake goes beyond simple derision. Perhaps there is proof that I’ve deceived myself.

My wife recently downloaded snapchat. Ever since I developed a more than rudimentary cognitive ability, I’ve hated snapchat. I had no reason for this other than that it is just one more way to distract oneself from reality. It now seems, however, that using the app with family can be fun and the app can settle, once and for all, an age-old nerd argument.

When I stare into the app with my glasses on, it doesn’t recognize that my face is a face and refrains from placing cutesy wutesy crap over my features. At first we thought the app was malfunctioning, but it turned everyone else into strangely anthropomorphized and overly-cartooney puppies. It took us several minutes to realize that if I removed my glasses, the app would realize it was looking at a human face and perform its prime function; that of adorable disfiguration of human features.

It took me several more minutes to realize I’d just experienced a paradigm shift. The inability of a software application to recognize me with glasses proved without a doubt the simple genius of the previously laughable way in which Superman disguises himself. No vision restricting Batman-esque mask is necessary. A simple pair of glasses is enough to trick an app designed to recognize faces. Add in the alternate hair-comb, and you’ve basically duped an entire species and its high technology, however menially said tech is applied.

Be at peace, members of nerd-kind. This controversial issue has been settled. Now we can move on to more important questions such as: “Why would anyone want a superhero that can only be defeated by alien rocks?” Not only would this present issues of absolute power corrupting absolutely in a real-life scenario, it seems that it should also lead to severely limited story options. Apparently those limitations have somehow been overcome, but still, I prefer a hero that has to work for the “super” qualifier to be placed in front of his/her hero title.

Go Batman.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…continue to like Superman if you must. Let’s not turn weak fiction into strong statements of opinion.

A don’t…forget that Batman is better.

Chickens and Volcanoes; The Donner Party Goes to Dinner; Baklava Re-Imagined and Staying Unfit: A Few Unrelated Thoughts

In the past I have posted about opening a horrible restaurant with dishes whose names are subtle puns. The dishes are guaranteed to inspire vomiting and a general hatred of me on the part of whoever falls victim to them. I’ve come up with a new dish; although it is more fit for outdoor eating than for faux fine dining. To make this new dish I’ll have to go to Hawaii. I’ll obtain hundreds of chickens and throw them into a volcano. Then I’ll invite hundreds of people over for baklava. When they show confusion at being served heavily charred chicken rather than a sweet and flaky dessert type item, I’ll explain the reason for the name. “When I throw the chickens into the lava”, I’ll explain, “they scream ‘Bok! Lava!'”

Now that that is out of the way, have you ever imagined the Donner Party going out to dinner in modern times? I imagine it this way. They arrive at an elegant restaurant with a long wait for a table. They sign in. Donner; Party of Eight. They sit on the benches provided and the hostess periodically checks on them. The wait is long and as the hostess prepares to call their name, she makes eye contact with the party members…”Donner; party of…seven?” She questions. The Donners follow her to their table and she dismisses any concern. It is not unusual for a member of a group to grow weary of waiting and walk away. The party is seated and menus are issued. Dear Daddy Donner subtly takes note of the disclaimer at the bottom of the menu: “6% gratuity will be added to parties of 6 or more.” By the time dessert is served, the Donners are a party of four. And so on until there is only one remaining Donner. I apologize that I can come up with no more reasons why a cannibal might eat a friend at a restaurant. Perhaps you can supply your own fates for the remaining 3.

Now on to the unfit portion of the post. A coworker got beeped at by a thing on her wrist the other day and began walking in place at her computer. She explained that it was a “fit-bit” and told her when she needed to move more and raise her heart rate. I don’t want that. I want a fat-bit. Or, if you prefer political correctness, an unfit-bit. I want something on my wrist to tell me I’m moving too much. I want something to tell me to sit down and watch tv because I’m burning too many calories. I want my unfitness to be justified by some doohickey on my wrist.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy the traditional version of baklava. It is delicious and no chickens are harmed in the making of it.

A don’t…go out to dinner with the Donner party. Unless that’s your thing. Do your thing.

Nerd Rant: Wolverine; Forget The Geneva Convention, Let’s Talk About The Health Code

To paraphrase Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start. When you count you begin with 1, 2, 3; when some unknown individual violates the health code you begin with Wol-ver-ine.

If you are unfamiliar with Wolverine, the basic premise is that he has the ability to heal very quickly. This ability allowed him to survive a surgery that coated his skeleton with super-strong metal. My first point has nothing to do with the health code, but why on earth would you need a metal coated skeleton if your bones can immediately knit back together? Anyway, Wolverine has massive claws that somehow reside within his hands, if the movies are to be believed. These claws may or may not have been present before the skeleton augmentation surgery. They come out when he needs them, somehow, and are the source of his many health concerns.

Wolverine can be seen clawing through many substances you wouldn’t want in your body. Metal doors, asphalt, helicopters and their requisite fluids and fuels, and various beasts, creatures and common-folk. Wolverine cannot be seen scrubbing or even wiping down his claws before retracting them. This is concerning and there are a few options here. First is the idea that perhaps his skin makes such a tight seal around the claws that offending matter is wiped off as the claws retract. Ideally his skin would then heal closed before particulate could invade the skin leaving glops of gook or grit, depending upon what he has clawed, between the knuckles. If this is so, he is never shown wiping between his knuckles. The other option is that the stuff makes it into his system on the claws and if this is the case, it indicates that Wolverine has antiseptic blood. Unless they simply don’t bother to address it, Wolverine never suffers from infection after retracting his claws. He must have terrible hand-acne if this option is correct. If all that grit and particulate make it under his skin, his body must be constantly working to push bits of doors, poles and people back up through the surface of his flesh.

The most egregious violation that Wolverine commits is the disrespect he shows for the people and creatures he claws and the teammates fighting beside him. Even if he has antiseptic blood, it doesn’t mean that victims of his clawings know this. And let’s say it is a huge battle with many, many clawings. Does he pause between attacks to sanitize his claws so that he isn’t spreading potentially infected blood from victim to victim? And let’s also say that he is clawing to kill and isn’t concerned with infecting those he’s fighting. Does he just assume that everyone else has antiseptic blood? As he’s viciously slashing un-friendly folk, is he paying attention to the blood-borne pathogens he’s potentially flinging about in a manner that is much more intense than conventional war-time mayhem?

It has been said by some, and refuted by others, that Wolverine had bone claws before his skeleton surgery. Perhaps when he allegedly fought in the Civil War, this wasn’t an issue. Bone is porous to an extent. Perhaps the claws used to absorb the very blood they shed for neutralization by his internal organs. If this is the case my previous point is moot. He doesn’t realize the danger he is placing others in. HIV and tetanus may mean nothing to him, and he may not even realize he’s flinging these things about. Still, I’m sure those of us who actively avoid infections hope and pray that, one day soon, OSHA, EPA and maybe even PETA get together and educate Wolverine on modern health and safety concerns. Maybe even some sensitivity training is in order. He needs to consider that not everyone is a giant walking Germ-X factory and the true wolverines from which he derives his name may not wish to be besmirched by an inconsiderate maniac.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy the superheroes of your choice despite their downfalls. After all, they’re just as super-human as the next individual.

A don’t…follow in their footsteps. Unless you have money and are a Batman fan

 

Consensually Kidnapped: A Fiction

I was in the garden when he came for me. I was admiring an heirloom tomato that had a particularly brick-red hue. I daydreamt of crushing it into a pizza sauce. So deeply entranced was I that I hadn’t even heard him approach the edges of my visual field. This isn’t really too surprising. Although I’ve been trained to remain aware of my surroundings, I was in my garden; my safe place. Combine my lack of attentiveness with the facts that I am easily hypnotized by plants and he rarely makes any noises other than faint steamy hisses and those nearly mechanical sounding whizzes and pops when he moves, and it is practically a miracle I noticed him standing in my periphery at all. But I did notice him and, miracle or dark magic, it changed my life in dark and miraculous ways.
“You have been making comments.” He said it in a voice devoid of intonation, in keeping with his way. At the time I didn’t know that I knew he was capable of more. “The comments you’ve made are intolerable.”
I stared at him, smiling, not quite comprehending his intrusion. My garden, physically, is no safer than any other unfortified patch of land. There is a small fence around it, ineffective even in its advertised objective of keeping out small rodents. Beyond that it is completely open to weather, wind, falling branches, a hail of bullets or even an intruder on foot. So it wasn’t his invasion of my garden that confused me. My garden is a safe place for my mind. I can dig and prune and plant and harvest and focus on those activities predominantly. The general everyday cares, which my mind magnifies so supremely that I have been known to vomit over a day-late credit card payment, are stifled when I am in my garden. They plunge to my subconscious where they splash down into last night’s bad dreams and fall prey to the true horrors that live there.
And there this man stood, introducing anxiety into my safe place. There was no reason I could see, other than a stranger in my yard making odd comments about comments I’d made, to be anxious. He was barely five feet two inches tall and while he wasn’t emaciated, he could in no way be construed as stout. I could’ve bowled him over if I’d wanted. Dispatched him swiftly and turned him into compost. Actually I’m not sure he’d compost well. I wasn’t even entirely sure he was biological in nature.
I stared at him, silently thinking these strange thoughts as he grew impatient. A version of impatient anyway. It seemed to fluster him that I hadn’t responded to his statements and so, with a pop at his shoulder and a hiss at his elbow, he smeared his mouth across his face and repeated himself. The same two sentences pronounced in the same toneless voice, maddeningly devoid of any inflection.
Shortly he added a third sentence. “You will come with me.” I couldn’t tell if it was a command or a question. As I’ve said, he doesn’t inflect. He turned and walked away. Surprisingly, I stepped over the knee-high fence and followed him. As we passed through the gate and into the front yard, he stopped suddenly and sighed. He mumbled something I didn’t catch and his neck leaned over so far that his ear nearly rested on his left shoulder. I waited, expecting his head to lift as soon as he’d stretched out whatever crick or Charlie-horse he’d experienced, but he simply sighed again and began to walk. He moved slowly and by the time he’d reached the car parked in front of my house, his knees had nearly given out on him several times and his head had bounced so sharply and so much that I was certain he must now be suffering a horrendous headache.
We climbed into the backseat, he first and I following. As we settled into our seats, he performed a series of shoulder shrugs that eventually straightened his neck. His head fell back against the headrest. He opened his mouth and a series of clicks and whizzes uttered forth. His throat did not move during this maneuver, but soon his eyes popped open and I saw his Adam’s Apple bob as he said, “You’ve been making comments.”
The air began to haze and the haze moved about as if the car were full of cigar smokers who’d just cracked the windows. He turned his head towards me and the image of his smeared mouth seared itself onto my eyes as the sun came up over the dashboard. I heard, and felt, a mild whump and was unaware of anything else until he shook me awake to harass me about my comments some more.

Jerkology 101: An Introduction

I, being a reluctant people pleaser and fantasizing unsung hero, have thought a lot about jerks. My distaste with verbal confrontation has inspired me to think deeply about the nature of jerks. I have been writing a field guide to common jerks.

Among my many eccentricities is an obsession with field guides. I have a field guide to fish. A field guide to birds. I have field guides to edible plants, poisonous plants, varmints, pests and survival techniques. If  “field guide” is in the title, I’ll find the money to buy it.

As I live with this obsession, combined with my fear of being verbally harangued by negative entities, it is only logical that I should create a field guide of my own. This field guide is entitled thusly: “Field Guide to Common Jerks”. It used to be “Field Guide to Common North American Jerks” until I realized that the types of jerks are universal. Versions of each jerk can be naturally found on every continent and in every city, town, settlement and village the world ’round.

I have written the field guide almost in its entirety. I had planned to publish it, but I decided that the stories of Sir Donkey Legs would be more marketable due to the originality of the characters (most of the credit is due to my children on that front). I still plan to publish the field guide, as soon I finish publishing my Sir Donkey Legs stories. So far there are two more ready to go, I’m  just waiting on funding.  The field guide will be given to the world. Until then, I offer it, for better or for worse, to my fellow bloggers.

I’ll begin by introducing you to Jerk philosophy. I have found that there are two basic types of Jerks. All of the Sub-Jerks fall under one of the following two categories: Active Jerk and Passive Jerk.

Active Jerks are those who actively try to physically hurt you. In this category you’ll find murderers, Satan himself and rapists. The Passive Jerk category includes such Jerks as those who insult you out of jealousy; cheaters and thieves.(Speaking of thieves, I used to work in a jail with a gentleman who would sing his own version of the classic hymn “Bringing In The Sheaves” which he called “Bringing In The Thieves” any time a new inmate arrived in our facility. If you’ve ever heard the original, you can imagine how humorous his version is in an incarceratory setting.)

This post is simply to introduce you to the idea of the philosophy of Jerkology. When you’re too afraid to confront others, you spend a lot of time thinking horribly of those who’ve insulted or mistreated you. The field guide is my way of passively dealing with that issue. I guess I myself am a form of passive jerk. Future posts will introduce you to the multiple different jerks contained within the guide. Be on the lookout for a book version, complete with illustrations, within the next few years.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…keep up to date on my Jerkology posts to determine whether or not you yourself are some sort of jerk.

A don’t…be a jerk if you can help it. At least not in public. Everyone deserves not to have been a jerk to. If that makes any sense at all.

Reblog Fail: A Reluctant User of Technology Takes an Alternative Route

This post will be short and mildly (perhaps ragingly) self-serving.

Forgive me.

My book “How Sir Donkey Legs Became a Knight” was recently reviewed on the website of a fellow blogger. Due to my technological impotence, or perhaps the outdatedness of my tech itself, I am unable to figure out how to reblog the post.

Since I have failed, I present the review thusly: visit redheadedbookloverblog.com and search William Ennis if you are interested in reading a review of my book.

The reviewer is a wonderful person, though I know her only through the emails we’ve shared and the enthusiastic, glowing, honest and thoughtful review she posted.

If you choose to read her review, like me on facebook @williamennisauthor, or even purchase a copy, I’ll be forever indebted to you.

As always, I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…read the review. You can tell that the reviewer is extremely insightful and cares very much about stories and reading.

A don’t…judge me for being so self-serving. I am merely anxious to share my book with as many people as possible. After all, why write if you don’t crave to share?