As Yet Untitled; A Dabble in Short Fiction

All is lost. The natives gather outside the walls and though I cannot hear them, I hear the screaming of their captives. Tortured screaming. It howled through these stone halls, echoing, repeating their anguish back to me even after they had themselves fallen silent.

I have retreated. The cold silence of the basements allows me to listen to the only voice that matters and that voice demands penance. Of course I will comply. There is no doubt of that. The only doubt to be found is in my own head. Even as I carry out my ablutions I wonder. As the lashes tear my back to shreds I question the voice that handed down my sentence. Does my Lord really require this of me? My blood spatters to the floor first in droplets then in rivulets that traverse my buttocks and legs to pool onto the cold stone and I wonder when I shall achieve forgiveness.

Not yet. Not yet, for the whispered “scourge” that set me to this work now cries out “Penance!” I snap the whip faster, harder and I am beyond pain. I now feel only a numbing warmth on my back and a tingle in my fingertips as my wrist snaps the leather throngs over my shoulders. The snags of glass become tangled in my scalp and pull free a stubbled patch of flesh. I watch as it swings back, one with the scourge, to mix with the raw meat of my back…

I suppose in my weakness I gave up. I am on the floor now and having no light I know naught of the passage of time. I have fallen short, but some satiation has been achieved. The cry for penance is now but a dull bleating. “Scourge, scourge…” it chants, barely a whisper. I am sorry my Lord, if Lord is who you are, but the flesh is weak.

I stumble up dark stairways and down deserted passages until the darkness blends with weak sunlight, the utter black softening to a dirty gray. This is as high as I dare ascend, but it is high enough. The door stands before me and as the heavy plank swings on its hinges I feel a twinge of remorse. Remorse for what could have, and probably should have, been.

My head swoons as I pick up my quill and I steady it in my free hand. Tears of remorse fall as I scratch the last few words onto the parchment bound between slabs of wood before me.

Fear held us back, I write, my shaking hand fouling some of the letters, It has come to this, that I give myself willingly over to them. It could have been different for, as it is written, what have we to fear considering who stands for us? You who come after, know that we failed. But have the faith to at least try to follow the path of righteousness for success cannot be any worse than the fate you shall meet if you fail.

I sign my name to the page and wait a moment for the ink to dry. When it is done I close the book and spill the remaining ink onto the floor. All that must be written has been written. I don’t expect that the natives will ever enter this building now that we all are gone, so my only concern for the book is that the wind could somehow spill the ink onto the pages. Otherwise, assuming others aren’t too many years in coming, the volume should be quite safe.

They take me into their arms as I stumble through the gate into their midst. Their white painted faces show some degree of concern and the help me to a bed of leaves they’ve prepared. They place me prone upon it and to my back are applied salves of herbs which burn before they begin to soothe. I drift out of consciousness, the last sounds I hear are the cluckings of their tongues as they calmly converse in their odd language.

I don’t know how long I’ve slept, but when I awake my back is free of pain and some of my strength has returned. A man clad in a scant wrapping of skins notices my stirring and he helps me to sit up. He turns to the fire burning in the center of a ring of the strange men and as he walks towards it I become aware of four things. There is something steaming over the fire. This something smells delicious and causes many reactions within my mouth and stomach. There are familiar faces on the far side of the fire and though I do not see happiness in their faces, the faces are less haggard than they were before they were taken.

The native man returns to me with a bark bowl filled with some sort of stew. I reach for it with my left hand only to find that my arm ends in a stump above the elbow. I am at first confounded by this, my mind still muddled with the clouds of deep sleep. When I remember where I am I take the bowl with my right hand instead. I sip of the broth, slowly, and when my body’s reaction is not objectionable I shamelessly guzzle it, storing chunks of meat in my cheeks to chew once the broth is gone. When I do bite into meat, I gag at first noting that the flavor is sweeter than I expected. I almost retch it up, but a wind sighs from the jungle and on its wings floats a single, barely audible word, “Penance…”

My stomach calms. I swallow the meat, giving thanks for the strength it will give me. I spit out one of my knuckles. I should probably suck the marrow from the bone but I haven’t fully given myself over to it yet. Anyway, my captors will keep me healthy enough until the time comes that they have no other option but to kill me.

The man who fed me returns and refills my bowl. He collects my knuckle bone and puts it into his own mouth. When we have all finished eating he changes my bandages and lashes me to a tree. As the natives fade into the jungle I gaze at the faces of my brothers across the small clearing from me. They all have both legs and are only missing bits of arm. The jungle here must be providential. I sit as comfortably as I can and try to sleep, avoiding thoughts of how long it will be until they have nothing left to eat but my brain and innards.

I awake to the sound of screaming. The natives are taking a few of my horrified brother’s fingers to season their soup. I close my eyes and enjoy the smells and sounds of the camp until dinner is done. As I eat I ponder my brothers and when they will come to be at peace with our atonement. It cannot but hurt their minds to dwell on it all.

Simians and A Revolutionary Traitor: Co-Conspirators in an Attack on Culinary Sensibility

I’ll try to be short winded again this time. We shall see how it goes.

I’ve developed a partial menu for a horrible restaurant. I wish to pepper these odd selections in amongst more normal fare in the hopes that people will not bother to notice the details of the stranger offerings and will jab a finger at one or the other of my putrid creations without looking too closely.

The first of my macabre dishes is Eggs Benedict Arnold. It is exactly the same as Eggs Benedict with the notable exception of being made with eggs that have turned. If you are unfamiliar with this usage of the word turned I shall educate you. When used in reference to edibles, saying that an ingredient has turned indicates that the product has spoiled. Most certainly using rotten eggs will make quite a traitorous dish. The stench of foul fowl will accost the nostrils most regrettably and the ingestion of turned eggs will cause turning of the stomach and a most boisterous moving of the bowels. As horrible as the dish must taste, the pun is delectable and I delight in thinking of it.

As a dessert I’ll offer Rhesus Pieces. While phonetically this menu item makes one think of candy coated peanut butter, the spelling of the first word indicates a much more sinister treat. I haven’t decided yet if the bits of Rhesus monkey will be cooked. Perhaps I will coat them in colorful candy to further the possibility of at least one piece being eaten.

Now that I think of it I’ll not place these items on my menu. I will instruct my wait staff to offer, only and always, these two selections as specials of the day. In this way the diner has only the words of the server to lean upon. Social convention generally dictates that it is impolite to question what one has heard, although there are of course exceptions to this rule and some will ask for clarification. Others will not be so lucky, and I shall delight in their misery as I’m carted off to jail and my establishment is condemned.

And with that I proclaim “Mission accomplished!” I have succeeded in being fairly short winded. It has left my system and my next post need have no restrictions on word count. I bid you adieu and a don’t.

Adieu…keep an eye out for new restaurants in your area.

A don’t…ever take a servers recommendation if there is any doubt as to whether or not I own the restaurant.

On Time Travel, Murder and Suicide; A Bemusement

I bid you welcome. Consider with me, if you please, the following hypothetical scenario.

Let us imagine, and it likely isn’t much of a stretch, that you have a deep dark secret. It could be any of a multitude of things. A vice. A lie. A recurring unsavory activity or even a one time event like a murder or killing a pet by accidentally running it over with a lawn mower. You may pick for yourself. Whatever it is, it is very personal and if another human ever learned of it you’d be humiliated and ashamed. Perhaps you’ve hidden it so well from others that you’ve forgotten it yourself or it lurks in a cobwebbed corner of your psyche that you rarely visit.

Now we imagine that, wonder of wonders, time travel has been perfected and one day you are visited by future you. You know what future you knows and you know that he/she (depending) knows that you know that he/she (depending) knows. The question I put forth is this; does this constitute an awkward moment? An independent poll shows that one out of one of my co-workers feels it wouldn’t be awkward at all.

I think I disagree. Future me is a separate entity. He knows more than I know and has had more life experience. Perhaps he has moved on from whatever it is that shames me. I already judge myself rather harshly. How much more would an older and wiser me judge the current me? Would I lecture myself? Perhaps this is pointless because future me, assuming he’s moved on, knows that I will move on, the knowledge of which renders a lecture quite moot. Maybe he thinks he can help me move past it sooner than he did so he lectures me anyway. Or maybe this visit from the future is the very first in my timeline and therefore future me doesn’t yet know that the lecture is moot.

How would I react to a lecture from myself? Would it be like wrestling with something inside my own head with the only difference being that the voice of my conscience is now coming from outside of me? Would I heed my own advice or would I think that I am smarter than me? These questions drive me crazy.

Imagine that whatever is being hidden will soon cause disastrous
consequences and future me chose this exact moment to visit in order to avoid much pain and strife. Is this a smart choice for future me to make? How does he know that altering his past and my present won’t cause even more dire circumstances? Or maybe this isn’t his first trip back to my present. Maybe he’s seen what happens both ways and in his present he notices that something isn’t right and this tips him off to the fact that I haven’t followed his advice and he’s come to make another attempt.

What if he’s suicidal and he’s experienced so much pain between his then and my to be that he’s decided that it would be better to go back in time and off himself/myself before we have to go through all that. Would I defend myself from myself? And if so, how would I do it. What if I killed him? Would I, in his past, disappear? Or would I simply know how and sort of when I die in the future? I could judge by my future appearance my approximate age at the time I decided to come kill myself. Would I be able to kill him and then decide not to kill my past self when my present self gets to that point in the future?

If he killed me, he’d have to die also, but if I killed him would I be a murderer? Would it still be a suicide if I killed myself and lived to tell of it? Would I have a guilty conscience? And which of my selves would possess my soul? Could he continue to go back to different points in our timeline killing ourselves and populating the afterlife with many iterations of us/me? Or would all of our souls converge on one single death point as my finality? If that’s the case the only way he could end us would be to kill us in his own current timeline, however, that may not end us because current me could choose to kill myself at any time. I suppose that if I did that it would erase him. Is he living now or is he nonexistent until current me gets to his time point?

This is confusing. How do we know if we are at the very leading edge of our timelines or if we are simply past versions of the future we haven’t lived yet? Is future me already living? Am I ruining his future? If so, is he cross with me?

Now I have a headache. I’m going to bed. I bid you Adieu and a don’t

Adieu…make careful decisions. You could be causing your future self undue stress.

A don’t…walk on egg shells for fear of offending your future self. It seems highly unlikely he/she (depending) will ever come to visit.

Zombies again

I had it in mind to write about something else this evening, but I think I’ll save my other thought for another post, because as I was thinking of writing of the other thought I had the most wonderful thought. It has to do with zombies and serial killers.

Let us imagine a room full of strangers. They all have a few things in common. They’re all scared. They’re all tied to chairs and gagged. Most of them are probably bleeding and/or crying. They may have other things in common too, but these more subtle similarities are known only to the serial killer who now stands menacingly above them. He is smiling. His pupils are dilated and he’s singing. Not because he necessarily wants to but because he’s just broken through some sort of barrier. One just isn’t enough anymore and he’s somehow successfully managed to gather a gaggle of victims for a one night binge and some ballad rolls absentmindedly off his tongue. We won’t get too deep into the hows or whys of it. I’m no serial killer so I couldn’t imagine those. I’m sure it took much planning and self restraint. But let’s not dwell on the killer. My thought has to do with some sort of karmic alignment, if such a thing exists. We will imagine for a moment that it does. And even if it doesn’t, the following scenario could make us believe in it anyway.

The killer indulges himself completely. He takes much pleasure in killing all of his victims one by one, drunk on the screams and sobs of the living as they witness his brutality enacted upon the others. He may even let one live, he thinks. Let one go and hunt him or her down again another night. Double his pleasure, so to speak. But before he knows it all are dead. As quickly as it started, his night of indulgence is over and he begins the arduous task of demolishing the evidence. He enjoys this part also. Its like the cool down lap after a long run. His adrenals begin to slow production as he slices the ropes holding his victims. His heart rate slows as the bodies thump to the floor. He notices that his breath is returning to its normal rate as he arranges the bodies for dissection.

And then, all of a sudden, the zombie apocalypse hits. Its subtle at first. As he hacks an arm off a guy he wonders, did that girl over there just roll her eyes? He shakes it off and gets back to work and soon the now armless corpse in front of him nearly bites his eyeball out. He jerks back, stunned, as all his victims reanimate before his eyes and begin moaning and shuffling their way towards him. He’s unsure how to feel but there is a slight rush of excitement. He gets to re-murder all his murder victims! Only this time they aren’t afraid of him. They aren’t tied up. And there are several of them. He stabs a couple through an eyeball because, hey, even serial killers read graphic novels, and…and…he’s satisfied…sort of…but they aren’t squirming. They’re trying to get him too and one scratches his arm with a fingernail and he doesn’t like that. It isn’t fun anymore. They might get him and that just isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen. He runs, but he stumbles. He’s the horrified one now. They’re almost on top of him and he thinks Oh, man, I’ve gotta re-murder all my murder victims. And then, well, in the spirit of karmic alignment let’s say they murder him.

Only it isn’t really murder because A) they’re just trying to satisfy their instinctual urges like predators on a savannah and B) they’re murder victims and there’s no supreme court ruling yet on whether a killing made by a murder victim, who was for a matter of several minutes already dead him/herself, can indeed be defined as murder. After all, how does one prosecute a reanimated corpse? That’s a question I can’t answer. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t bug me to the point that I’m driven to try in a future post.

I think I’ve milked this for all I can. Plus it’s almost bed time anyway. I bid you adieu and a don’t.

Adieu…pray that the supreme court comes to a decision on this crucial matter before it’s too late. Perhaps you should contact a member of Congress. It just seems like double jeopardy to me. And not the Trebek version.

A don’t…take the adieu as a serious suggestion. And if you adieu…a don’t tell your congressman I told you to contact him regarding this particular line of inquiry.

Zombies and Their Functions; Finally, an Exploration.

I consider zombies quite often. Even more so now that I’ve started watching a certain zombie-based drama whose title I won’t mention due to my ignorance of the intricacies of copyright law. Anyway, I realize that zombies are somewhat overdone. The idea of reanimated carrion feeding on the living has been the basis for horror, drama, comedy…even romance. They’ve been anthropomorphized. Their plight has been explored in various shows, books and movies. Find the human behind the monster. There are zombie stories to play to any sort of mood or rationale a human might have. The idea of shooting humans with no repercussions is tantalizing to some, I’m sure. As is the idea that society crumbles due to mankind’s stupidity. As overdone as zombies are, I’d like to sort a few things out in my own head regarding the “living dead”. Seeing as how you can just stop reading if you’d like, I’ll proceed without begging your leave.

Fant’sying myself a storyteller, I’m intrigued by what I see as the “evolution” of the zombie story. When I was younger my father regaled me with a tale of witch doctors in some far off place. I can’t remember where he said it was anymore. Somewhere that voodoo is practiced regularly, I remember he said that much at least. His statement was that the voodoo priest would pronounce a curse on someone. Then he’d bide his time. When the moment was right he’d place a bit of some special powder somewhere in the Cursed’s home and again, bide his time. Eventually the victim would touch the powder, which would be transmitted to the blood by way of the skin, and appear to die. The person would be buried for a time and then, when the priest finished a third bout of biding his time, he’d order an exhumation. The victim would, according to dad, be alive but basically brain dead, capable of carrying out simple tasks but not much else. I imagine that at some point someone ordered one of these “zombies” to gnaw on someone and tear out his guts and the story made it around the world and now people fantasize about such an horrid occurrence. I suppose many surmise the premise is a way to make a lot of money. This seems to be true. No matter how many iterations emerge, the same basic tale is told to audiences who could themselves be deemed zombies. Only these moan the word “chaaaaoooosss” instead of “braaaaiiinnnsss”.

Don’t misunderstand. I do not deride or ridicule these people without deriding and ridiculing myself. I spent a year in a combat zone and it was the closest I’ve come to a “zombie apocalypse” in my life. Surprisingly, despite the ever-present threat of death that came from all directions in all types of ways, I wasn’t ever stressed. Scared, perhaps, on occasion, and I suppose that’s a type of stress, but the solution was always simple. If things are exploding, hide. If someone shoots at us, shoot back. Follow the truck in front of you and trust the man behind you. There was never a thought about paying the electric bill or where the grocery money would come from. I didn’t have to mow the lawn. I just had to survive. And for some reason this was less stressful to me than are the daily social interactions required in the peaceful world. This, I think, is why the zombie apocalypse appeals to me so much. The stress of being chased by monsters is less to me than the stress of paying the bills or having the car fixed or finding a suitable civilian barber that understands that a military style “high and tight” haircut doesn’t include a bit of spikeable fluff just above the forehead. I yearn for zombies because their arrival signals the return of the peace of just surviving. Plus all that looting…I’d find a fortress and stock it with the most amazing things I could find, all free for the taking. So. I’m ready. Bring on the zombies.

And now we come to the problems of zombies. Just a couple of things I’ve noticed and so far I’ve never come across an explanation in book, TV or movie form. Neither have I ever discussed this with anyone. We all know zombies eat. They have to for some reason. They must fuel their rotting stomachs which somehow have the capability to process whatever they ingest and burn the calories contained within. I can accept this. If a virus can reanimate dead brains I suppose it can cause stomachs to contract. But, the human body, so I hear, is mostly water. This water must be replenished regularly to keep the blood flowing and the body moving. I’ve never seen a zombie drink. I’ve seen zombies walk through water. Maybe those drank a bit. They probably did. I’ll give them that. Maybe nobody cares enough to address the issue. And they really don’t have to. Zombies drinking isn’t dramatic enough to be any sort of movie scene. I’ll leave that one alone. What I can’t ignore, however, is the defecation problem. Unless the virus is so efficient that it uses every bit of detritus zombies consume, we must conclude that defecation is a fact of life (or death?) even for the recently reanimated. Where do they do this? Why have I never seen a zombie story character complaining because he just stepped in undead doo doo? Why have I never seen a zombie stop mid shuffle, drop his drawers and drop a deuce? Logically, they probably don’t go to that much trouble. They’re already rotting and filthy. They probably have every bloodborne disease known to man due to their lack of discrimination in dining. They haven’t, to my knowledge, formed an undead FDA. The living wouldn’t submit to any sort of fitness for zombie consumption testing and stamping even if they did. So most likely, if they defecate (which I maintain they must), they do it like cattle. They go when they have to go. This doesn’t provide a problem with the urination question. Their clothes are as nasty as their rotting flesh. Any stain could be a urine stain. The defecation, however, presents a more pressing dilemma. If they don’t drop their pants to do it, if they have to do it as often as a living person (I admit that I don’t have any theory about how often they poop, but let’s just say they have to “go” at least once a day), then within a week there should be a sizeable clumpy stain on the seat and legs of at least some of their pants. Granted it would be ever changing. Clumps would dry in stages and fall off. Some would be jolted loose by their shambling walk. But these facts just contribute to the problem. Where there are zombies, there should be piles of poop. Some day someone should address this idea in much more detail than I really care to.

And so, while this is fresh in your mind, I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…consider whether reading this was really worth the time it took you.

A don’t…dwell on the time you’ve wasted. You’ll never get it back. No sense wasting more.

Buttons and Tubs: Everyday Items or Philosophical Conundrums?

I strive, on occasion, to assign deep philosophical meaning to rather mundane or pointless analogies. It’s a challenge of sorts. Am I able to look at a given farce and find that it may, in some small way, be transformed or infused with meaning, however menial whatever meaning may be found might be? Case in point, I recently became aware that buttons spelled backward is snottub. This is utterly meaningless philosophically. Literally, it has a certain humorous aspect. A tub full of snot. Or perhaps a tub made of snot. Ha ha! Yes. So. This is insufficient. I came up with nothing. Who could philosophize about that? Perhaps Plato? Socrates? Sadly, no. These men are long dead. This realization caused my spirit to collapse under the pressure I’d placed upon it.

For many long hours my spirit and I pondered our quandary, he dejectedly, I disinterestedly, until finally we realized that by removing the S, perhaps a breakthrough could be made. Button backward is nottub. Or not tub. This could be seen philosophically because it works on two levels. Button backward is both not tub phonetically and it is literally not tub. Buttons and tubs are fairly opposite but there are similarities. Both items work to hold something back. In the case of tubs it is most generally liquid. Buttons usually work together to enclose seams that enshroud flesh thereby holding back immodesty. Both have means of disengagement that dispel whatever substance is caught within their confines. And yet they are nothing alike. When wishing for a bath, one would not logically go for a button. Neither would one reach for a tub when wishing to conceal one’s flesh or create a barrier against the cold. Although, the argument could be made that a tub could be used as a barrier against the cold in a pinch, but such an arrangement would be most uncomfortable and inconceivably inefficient.

These musings also appear meaningless until you apply the idea that the tub is good and the button is evil. They war tirelessly one with another, the tub filling to cleanse the flesh, the button becoming stuck in its hole thereby refusing to bare the flesh for washing. And yet they both serve the purpose of making the flesh socially acceptable, working together to clean and conceal. In this wise they represent the idea that there is a bit of evil in good and a bit of good in evil. In deference to my father’s abhorrence of such an idea I concede that I speak merely of fleshly beings. In no way do I intend to imply that God has evil within him. Nor do I feel the Devil has a bit of good within him. I simply surmise that even when we, as flawed mortals, attempt to be “good” it is most generally not without at least a slight selfish slant. Conversely, when we set out to do evil, do we not at some point in plotting our misdeeds have a sudden, no matter how slight, twinge of self loathing as we come face to face with our moral reprobation?

Having succeeded in my goal of assigning deep meaning to the most meaningless analogy I happened to conjure I shall gleefully bid you Adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…remember that button backward is not tub the next time you do a good deed.

A don’t…forget the lesson of the button and the tub upon your next foray into the darkest recesses of your psyche.

Highly Fragranced Philosophy

I’m incensed. Or at least, I was. I’m over it now, but the cause of my initial incensement was the term “incensed” itself. People have told me the ideas I have are rather bizarre. Being myself, I’m unaware to what extent that supposition is accurate. I suppose it would vary person to person. I’ll explain why the term incensed incensed me and you may judge for yourself the severity of my bizarrity. If you even care to bother to do so.

I was lying in bed the other night, thinking. Earlier we had burned some incense in the living room. I postulate that this is the reason it came readily to mind as I was drifting in the haze between wakefulness and slumber. It occurred to me that incense is a word that, in addition to referring to the fragranced sticks I had recently burned, could be modified to end with the letter “d” and thereby refer to being angry. This thought incensed me for two reasons. First, that the English language would suffer a word to mean “good smelling stuff” and “extremely angry”. These are two quite opposite things and I picture a very drunk Mr. Webster sitting at his desk. Fresh track marks on the insides of his elbows glow in the firelight as he takes his quill in hand. Spread before him on the blonde oak desktop is a bit of parchment, pristine but for the capital I heading the top of the page. Anticipatory sweat beads on his forehead as he thinks of the wild night of dictionary writing ahead of him. His stomach flutters as the quill approaches the page and he struggles through the fog of alcohol and drugs to remember where he left off. Oh, yeah! He writes the word Incense: and then he scratches out the definition; a bit of wood you burn that smells good. The intoxicants coursing through his system incense him. That’s it? NO! Nah, that isn’t enough. It needs…well…I mean, its just a noun. Maybe it could be more perjorative. Why, it can’t even conjugate. I’ll fix this. After all, I am the only dictionary writer in the Colonies. It’s practically my duty to give this little noun a bit of attitude. I mean, most colonists don’t even know what incense is. It’s so…Eastern. And so, beneath Incense he writes Incensed: to be extremely mad. He sighs a contented sigh and moves on to whatever is after Incensed alphabetically. Second, I was incensed because in my state of being nearly asleep I became confused as to whether I was even correct in thinking that incensed meant angry. Was I merely inventing my own language like some modern day Webster drunk on lack of sleep?

I fell asleep worried and incensed. I awoke the next morning not thinking much of it. I made it through a full day of work without thinking of it at all. But, having a day off today and being possessed of the idea that I should make some bread, my hands became busy as my mind sat idle. Many thoughts crossed my brain but none stuck until my wife began making a deal of the fact that the incense sticks weren’t burning so well. As my floury hands kneaded the warm, supple dough, my brain began to hint at becoming incensed again. I had to know whether or not I was mistaken. I set my dough aside to rise and pulled up a dictionary on the old cell phone. Sure enough, incensed can mean extremely mad. I didn’t understand why. It really doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface. A sweet smelling burning stick and anger really don’t fit together in such a way as to share a root word. Or so I thought. As I continued to take my dough through the processes of rises and punch downs, divides and rests and preheats, I discovered some connections. To be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed to present these to anyone reading as the symbology seems so simple in retrospect, but realizing this is how I came to be completely over being incensed at the word incensed so here I outline the thought process that freed me from incensement.

On first hearing the word incensed, one might reasonably believe it means to have one’s person inundated with the smoke of burning incense to the point that one emits the odor for a time after the inundation has ended. Or it could logically be construed to mean that someone had been coated in an aromatic substance. The connection between these connotations and anger still eluded me. Until my wife opened the door to let the dog out and from the corner of my eye I glimpsed the end of a burning, sandalwood scented stick on the counter top glow bright red as a puff of wind blew a streamer of ash from the tiny coal. Anger burns, I thought, so there’s a connection, but, in my case, anyway, it burns bright and hot. It flares and quickly burns itself out consuming its oxygen and fuel supply in a blast of tense feelings and ill conceived actions. It is usually regretted later and it flares. It doesn’t smolder or smoke. That doesn’t quite resemble incense. I was washing my hands when it occurred to me that perhaps incense is a fitting analogy for anger after all. In my mind it goes like this: The anger of incensement is that deep seated anger that, for those of us possessed of a rational mind, is reserved for the most heinous or egregious assaults against our morality or sensibility. It smolders, hiding from view under a layer of ash and emitting thin streamers of smoke. Just enough to keep an ember alive. The sweet scent of the smoke is our attempt to mask our shame at holding on to anger; an action known to be detrimental to the mind as well as the body. The ash is the smile that hides the gritted teeth and seals the angry words inside until that puff of wind casts it off. The ember glows, the smoke disappears as the fire begins to more efficiently consume its fuel…

And with that I will bid you Adieu…and a don’t

Adieu…look into the intricacies and inconsistencies of the English language. A question I enjoy asking of people: If the teacher from his textbook taught, has not the preacher from the scriptures praught? Etymology is an interesting, if fairly useless field.

A don’t…misconstrue my portrayal of Mr. Webster as a drug riddled alcoholic to be representative of my grasp of history. I’m sure he was a noble man.