Niles Pantsstealer of Mississippi

Niles Pantsstealer of Mississippi

“Indeed, I shall swipe the next pair of pants to make its way near me,” said Niles Pantsstealer to his dog Rolf. “Yes, I shall remove pants from the next person I meet. I just stated that, hadn’t I?”

A woman with a rotund bottom and a thin waist waddled past Niles.

“Rather! I wouldn’t steal the pants off a lady!”

“But you said you would,” instigated Rolf, at least, that’s what Niles thought Rolf said in his head.

“B-b-b-but how uncharming it is of a Mississippi man in this manner…”

“Excuse me! Do you know how to get to Sherman’s drugstore?” the woman asked.

“Most assuredly,” Niles answered. “It’s two block south off of–”

He swiftly knocked her to the ground and took off her pants.

“HELP! PERVERT!”

“Madam, do not make the pant-stealing unbearable for me. It’s hard enough to steal your pants when you’re accusing me of such unsavory things.”

“Nice bottom,” Rolf was heard to say, maybe.

Niles Pantsstealer took the pants from the young woman and ran off to the state line.

“It’s illegal to arrest a gentleman at the state line of Mississippi,” muttered Niles to Rolf.

“Sure it is, pal. You gonna eat those pants?”

“I simply steal pants, liberating them from bounders like that woman. Eh?” He dislodged a wallet from the pocket. “I stole her wallet too! Women seldom keep wallets in their pants! I’m a common criminal!”

Rolf said nothing.

“Don’t start agreeing with me now, chum! This is partially your fault, you and your goading over women’s trousers!”

Rolf sniffed himself. “It’s pants, not trousers. Remember the game,” Rolf angrily reminded. At least, Niles believed he angrily reminded him.

“Let’s return to our domicile, pal,” Niles squeaked. “We’ll figure out this wallet later.”

Two days later, the woman received her wallet in the mail with no return address. She took out her cards and money and threw the wallet out in case he did something.

Back into the wild traversed Niles Pantsstealer and Rolf. He spotted two men fishing and tanning their legs with their pants off.

“Too easy for my taste,” muttered Niles. “Like taking babies from a… no, I believe I started that wrong.”

“Do it,” Rolf might have told him. “No pants are too beneath you to steal.”

“Very well, Rolf.”

He simply ran behind the gentlemen and took their pants, running straight to the state line. “We made it, bud. We’re at the state line once more.”

A hot red automobile pulled up to the state line.

The two men who were fishing came out with clubs and began wailing on Niles, with Rolf sticking his tongue out and panting.

“Rolf, attack the bounders!”

“Bow!”

“Speak to the cretins, Rolf! Speak!”

Rolf licked himself.

“So you’re the one who’s been stealing all the pants in town, is that it?”

“No! No, I’m just Niles Pantsstealer, pants aficionado! I collect pants, not steal them! I’m a cobbler, see?” He pulled out his card. “Niles Pantsstealer, Cobbler!”

“Well, I’m Judge Wily and this is Officer Gates! Be in jail today and court tomorrow, cobbler!”

“Charming,” muttered Niles as they dragged him away. “What about my dog?”

The pair talked among themselves. “That’s the Johnson dog, and she’s been missing for weeks. You stole a kid’s dog, creep?”

“But, but Rolf has been feeding me advice to steal pants! Dear boy, tell them you’re the mastermind behind these pants attacks! Tell them, old boy!”

“That’s the guy,” Rolf didn’t say. “Book ‘im.”

“You, you bounder and cad! No, it’s all a big misunderstanding! You simply must believe me, officer! Judge!”

“We’d be simple to believe you. Let’s go.”

The next day, Niles Pantsstealer was in chains and before the mercy of the court.

“Jury, the evidence has been placed before you. Have you reached a verdict?”

“We have, your honor. In the case of Niles Pantsstealer v. People wearing pants, we find the defendant… guilty.”

The court gasped and murmured.

“In the case of Niles Pantsstealer v. Patricia Johnson the dog’s owners, we find the defendant… guilty.”

The court gasped and murmured.

The judge banged his gavel. “Enough gasping, enough murmuring! Niles Pantsstealer, I sentence you to two years in prison! Next case!” BANG!

The judge and jury stood up, tearing their pants off.

“Ah, super glue. I still have accomplices out there, stealing the pants off of unsuspecting fools. It’s only a matter of time until they take everyone in Mississippi’s pants away!”

“But you didn’t steal the pants, you just destroyed them,” said a juror.

“True, but I did steal them away from you all. Now, I must figure out how to steal the pants off of inmates. And while I’m incarcerated, my accomplices shall swipe–”

“Hey, I’m Jeff Trouserswipe. I’m turning myself in to the police.”

“JEFF! Well, there goes my only accomplice.”

Niles Pantsstealer spent two years getting beaten up for stealing pants from inmates, and when he was freed, he tried to open a rental pants store in an attempt to get clean, but no bank would give him a loan. He died at 97, stealing pants until the day he died.

Advertisements

Watermelon Dog

Watermelon Dog

It was the last day of summer, and Joni was getting ready to start hosting the big friends and family barbeque. She bought the plates, forks, knives, corn, meat, meat, napkins, meat, sauce, buns, condiments, and meat.

“It’s going to be a hella barbeque, huh boy?”

Her dog Ernie barked in agreement. He started to pant.

“What’s wrong, boy? You need water?”

A spark went off in her head.

“Water… MELON! Ernie, we forgot the watermelon, and they’re going to be here any minute!”

Ernie began to tip-paw away. She’d done this to him before.

“Ernie, here’s a twenty. Get a big fat watermelon, okay? And bring me the change!”

He knew it. Joni was always making him run errands for her. Nevertheless, if he didn’t go, he’d never get a scrap of meat all day from her. Maybe from a clumsy kid, but they were learning to be careful around him.

Joni tucked the bill into his collar and sent him on his way.

On the way to the store, he passed a homeless man.

“Spare some change? Oh wait, dogs don’t have money. But that crisp twenty on your collar must be itching you…”

Ernie barked loudly at the homeless man.

“Okay, can’t blame a bum for trying to bum from a dog!”

Ernie continued on his way when the man jumped on him.

“I’m not eating gravel pie again! I can’t live like this!”

Ernie bit him and left a mark on his skin. The man failed to steal the twenty, but chased him all the way to the store.

Ernie turned the corner to enter the store and made it past the manager who waved to him. The crumb bum was stopped by the manager.

“Sir, do you have any money?”

“Er… that dog stole my twenty!”

“Nice try, sir, but Mr. Ernie has been coming to Stop & Shop for two years on behalf of his mistress. Please come back with money.”

“Stupid Muslim whore,” he grumbled.

She called security.

In the store, Ernie scoured the aisles for a watermelon. Finally, he found a rather large one for the right price and took it down with his fore-paws. He urged it along with his snout and got it to a very long checkout line. Some people were confused by the dog with a watermelon, while others were used to it by now.

He listened to the many annoying sounds of the store. An older couple arguing about the lack of instant noodles, the screaming of the shabby homeless man from outside, the slicing of his watermelon… HEY!

“Just making it easier to bring home, Mr. Ernie,” explained the manager. “I’ll wrap these in plastic for you and you can carry one in your mouth and the rest of the pieces around your neck.”

He barked in gratitude.

Finally, it was his turn. He placed his watermelon slices on the belt and…

“We’re closed.”

Ernie played dead in frustration. He grabbed his things and ran to the self-checkout line, where he was the first one there.

A man with spiky black hair impatiently tapped his foot. “Why do I get stuck behind this dog every time?” he growled.

Ernie barked viciously at the man.

“Okay, okay! You have only the one thing, I have many. It’s only fair.”

Finally, he got the machine to scan his watermelon slices and ran out of the store, but not before licking the manager’s hand.

Then the homeless man showed up.

“Give me your change, doggie!”

Ernie bit him again and ran for his life, but the man was faster.

“If you don’t give me change, I’ll take your watermelon,” he said, sitting on top of the dog.

That’s when Ernie had a brainstorm.

He chewed the man’s pant leg and nudged him in his direction.

“What? Are you trying to take me to jail? At least they eat.”

The smell of grilled meats flared in his nostrils.

“Is that… a barbeque?”

Joni waved to her dog and everyone else at the party followed suit.

“Ernie, you brought the watermelon and… uh…”

“Ted’s the name, homelessness is my life. Your dog brought me and–”

“Hold on, I’ll give you some coins so you can leave.”

“Actually, I thought maybe your dog was inviting me to the festivities–”

“Yeah,” said Joni, “but he’s a dog and this is my party. Here, seventy-five cents. Bye, Ned.”

Ted took the coins (she dropped them into his hand) and he left, grumbling.

“Ernie, you have to be more careful. Did you bite him? What if he had AIDS? Anyway, have a burger.”

Ernie ate the whole burger, but as usual, his mistress’s lack of good will let him down. The burger tasted not of victory, but ashes.

The Very Hungry Butterfly Only Has Two Weeks Left

The Very Hungry Butterfly Only Has Two Weeks Left

One morning, the very contented butterfly who was once a very hungry caterpillar became aware of his own mortality rate.

Numbers flashed in his head and he understood how the moon and sun’s rotation around the earth counted as a “day” and how “days” became “weeks.” The very aware butterfly realized he only had two weeks left on this world.

This depressed the very miserable butterfly, and he spent a large amount of time on his lonesome, not that he knew any other butterflies.

On Sunday, he spent one hour moping. But he was still depressed.

On Monday, he spent two hours crying. But he was still depressed.

On Tuesday, he spent three hours in the fetal position. But he was still depressed.

On Wednesday, he spent four hours trying to eat. But he was still depressed.

On Thursday, he spent five hours empty and hollow. But he was still depressed.

On Friday, he spent six hours thinking. But he was still depressed.

On Saturday, he realized the last week of his life should be meaningful and decided to find a field of flowers to pass away in. He felt much better.

Now the butterfly wasn’t a big and healthy butterfly anymore. He was small and shriveled.

Still, the very sickly butterfly fluttered for six days to find a field of flowers.

On the seventh day, the butterfly found a luscious field filled to the brim with many flowers to peacefully spend his last moments in.

Another butterfly emerged from a cocoon at that moment.

The very tired butterfly asked the young butterfly why he looked so happy.

“Because,” the young butterfly said, “I can go where I want and do whatever I want! Being a caterpillar held me back, but no more!”

The old butterfly asked what if he knew he only had two weeks to live.

“Then I would live it up, of course! Assuming I was healthy enough to, that is.”

The young butterfly flitted away onto his own destiny.

The very quiet butterfly understood what the young one meant. It may have been a late lesson to learn, but it was a good one.

Then the butterfly passed on, contented once more.

In his next life, the butterfly was born as a writer for children’s books.

Saltwater

Saltwater

I’ve always been pretty tall for my age, ever since I was little. I’m Melody Jones-Smith, resident of an abandoned lighthouse and friend of two jerks, Yan and Yuri.

The day started like any other. Yuri was tricking some woman over the phone to do his dry-cleaning. I was getting ready to leave for the day to work at Mr. Nonk’s shack. And Yan? Screaming in his sleep, like every morning. He always had an insult for me when he woke up.

“What a nightmare!” he tussled his large Hispanic afro. “I dreamt I was being eaten by a blonde giantess!” He pointed at me. “AHHH! There she is! Don’t eat me!”

I tangled up my fingers in his mass of hair. “You’ll be fine once I poison your food, tiny boy.” Yan probably has a crush on me, but damn if you could tell it by his teasing.

“Will you two keep it down? Millie is acting silly for me,” Yuri rhymed for no reason. “So anyway, gurrrl, how about paying for my dry-cleaning?”

Yuri always had the air of a pimp or something. In his pure white suit and hat, he didn’t leave anything to his own effort. Well, it takes effort to mack on women, but not much. He and Yan were friends before I met them, and it’s not too hard to see why. Yan’s sloppy but Yuri’s neat, and though that’s an Odd Couple bit, they’re both jerks to me. That’s their bond, I think.

Oh yeah, they’re both short men. I’m tall, but it’s not like their teasing is just because of a few inches. Try a foot. Yan likes the height put-downs, while Yuri goes for my hand and foot disparities.

I have no idea why I share this lighthouse with them.

“I’m going to Mr. Nonk’s place,” I said.

“Bring back lobster!” Yan demanded.

Yuri finished his call. “Aren’t lobsters giant bugs, basically?”

My stomach turned in knots. “Never mind, Yan.”

Yan whimpered. “What? Bugs taste good!”

I took off my cat ears headband and put on my red wool cap.

“What about bacon?” asked Yuri.

“That’s a dinner food, Yuri.”

“I’ll get bacon on my own, large hands.” He glared at me and clicked his tongue.

“So you’ll get a girl to make it for you?”

“Have a nice day!” They chimed in unison.

As I left the lighthouse, I looked at the structure. Beautiful. Tall. Like me. Those jerks were just overcompensating.

I made it to Mr. Nonk’s shack quickly, but I wished it to take longer. “Mr. Nonk?”

“Oh, great! The giant woman is here to visit me again!”

I composed myself. “Mr. Nonk, my name is Melody. Please try to remember it.”

“Of course I know you, Melody! Your family was rich, ’til ya went danged bankrupt!”

I washed his dishes.

“Why did you choose to go bankrupt? I spent hours tryin’ to change my fargin’ cellular phone company!”

I did his laundry.

“Back in the day, you could be broke for less than a cent! Now it’s all, ‘Oh, DARN! I only have a million dollars! I’m broke!’ Idiots!”

I ironed his clothes.

“Kids these days! Oh, my kids are visiting tomorrow, so don’t scare them with your freakish height! Be shorter!”

I massaged his back.

“Today’s generation can’t give proper massages! You could get a back rub on only a nickel! Bleh!”

I got paid.

“When I was a lad, if any elders tried to ramble on end about their youth, I’d hit ’em with a crowbar! Aides today just can’t fight back!”

I stormed home.

“I’ll call you back, babe. Another woman? No. No she’s not.”

Yan gave me an insincere grin. “Welcome home, Melody! You look so pretty!”

I glared at the lazy layabouts.

“Did you get lobster?”

“No,” I grumbled, putting on my cat ears. “Leave me alone.”

An hour later, Yuri’s woman Sandra was cooking bacon.

“Do you want to sit with us?” I asked her.

“Uh, she thinks you’re a rival. Don’t engage.” Yuri waved a dark hand over his face.

“Mr. Nonk has no respect for me. I help him, he yells at me!”

“Like every man you know, right?”

I didn’t catch who said that, but it pissed me off more.

Yan piped up. “Have you ever considered you might be doing a terrible job?”

I threw a high-heeled sandal at his head. He fell to the ground.

“You know, maybe we could send him away if we tied a million balloons to his house.” Yuri grinned at his Pixar’s UP reference.

“Heh. His house is so old, you’d only need to attach a hundred balloons.” I hoped I wouldn’t regret what I was going to ask. “Hey… can you guys come with me tomorrow?”

Yuri spoke first. “I’d love to, but I’m doing this thing called ‘Not being yelled at by a cranky old man.'”

“How old is he?” asked Yan, for some reason.

I held up my other sandal.

“OKAY! OKAY!”

“Shoes shouldn’t be throwing projectiles,” noted Yan.

One day later, we were off. When we got there, Mr. Nonk’s children’s car was parked out front. I heard screaming inside.

“Mr. Nonk?”

“MELODY! Thank goodness you’re here!”

Mr. Nonk’s son and daughter, ugly, my height, folded their arms.

“Dad, it’s not really a big deal,” said the daughter.

“No! You’ll never take me alive!”

I took charge of the situation. “Mr. Nonk, what’s going on?”

“My dim-witted kids are tryin’ to put me in a home!”

Yuri spoke, unfortunately. “Look guys. Home? Is where the heart is. And his heart doesn’t want to be in a home. Therefore, his home in his heart isn’t in a home. So you should let his heart be at home!”

“Vote Yuri for President!” announced Yan.

“I’m okay,” said Yuri.

“Yuri aside,” I started, “I thought I was doing a pretty good job!”

The son approached me. “I don’t want my father to be in a Russian-less area!”

The daughter confronted her father. “Dad, this is an all-Russian retirement home. I’m sure Mom would’ve liked it…”

“All-Russian? Are you ripped? Dummies! Don’t you know–”

“Don’t you know anything about Russians? Old Russians hate each other! Sure, young Russians get along, but when you’re old, everyone else needs to die!” I grinned.

“Melody…” He seemed touched. “You’ve actually been listening to me?”

“I may have picked up a thing or two…”

“ENOUGH OF THIS!” The son grabbed his father and ran out to his car.

“MELODY! Help!”

“Mr. Nonk!”

Yan looked up at me. “Well, Melody, looks like your wish came true!”

I looked down at him. “No… I’ve made a horrible mistake! We have to save Mr. Nonk!”

Yuri gave me a mischievous smirk. “If you vote for me for President, you’ll have him in ten minutes!”

“Anything! Please!” I was desperate.

Yuri started texting… and texting… and texting! Nine minutes later, an army of nubile young women came in carrying Mr. Nonk.

“What did you do?” I asked, shocked.

“I just texted all the sexy singles in my area. They stopped the car and… took Mr. Nonk by force. And the kids won’t be taking him to a home anytime in the future.”

I bent down and hugged Yuri. “I owe you an apology! You’re not just lazy! You’re a hard-working pimp!”

“Not a pimp, but you’re welcome.”

Yan pointed to himself. “Do I get an apology?”

I rubbed his hair. “No. You totally owe me an apology.”

I took Mr. Nonk from the women, all glaring at me. “Mr. Nonk, I’m so sorry…”

“No Melody, I’ve treated you poorly. You’re a hard worker.”

Yan smiled. “See that? If a Russian and a giantess can get along, why can’t the nations of the world?”

“Simple, Yan!” Yuri started up again. “If we all got along, then the military would disband! That’s why I promote more war!”

“Vote Yuri for President!” announced Yan.

“Innocent people? Nice try!”

I clasped Yuri’s shoulder. “I don’t think I want to vote for you anymore.”

“That’s fine. We don’t want votes from people like you.”

That night, we all had lobster for dinner at the lighthouse. Yuri was upset over a court order for being the mastermind behind Mr. Nonk’s kids getting attacked. The ladies were upset at me. Mr. Nonk was upset at everything, but smiled throughout.

And Yan apologized for his giantess comments, but promised “plenty more on the way!”

Kirby Tries To Eat All Of The Manna

Kirby Tries To Eat All Of The Manna

We are full of gratitude for the many blessings God has given us. He took us out of Egypt, drowned our oppressors, and gave us the manna. That’s where our new, less severe, more tiresome struggles began.

With the manna came the Kirby, a suction creature that eats all in its path. Some claim it has eaten children; I do not believe it to be so callous. The Kirby swallows everything edible in its path, which, unfortunately, includes the manna.

He does not give blessings to God. No, the pink ball only squeaks with an “‘Ayyyy!” or an “Eyyyy!” I believe I’ve heard it say “Hoyayo!” once, but I’m not to be trusted among my brethren on the matter.

Moses for his part has been lackadaisical on the matter. “What’s the worry,” he says, reclining while chewing a piece of manna. “God gave us a new test so soon, so let’s embrace it!”

“But Moses, the Jews need to eat manna too. My daughter has not been getting enough to eat. She grows weaker every day.”

Moses swallowed his manna. “Alright already, let me try something.” He bit into a new manna and waved me off.

Sabbath, a day that should be free of worry, causes me the most stress. Kirby eats twice the manna and grows ever the stronger. I’ve tried storing away my manna, but it just attracts worms. At this point, it’s better than nothing.

I tried talking to Aaron, but he’s busy with literally everyone else, trying to restore order between feuding individuals. I like him. He’s quite kind and knows how to foster peace. I like him. I would just like him more if I could talk to him about the Kirby.

Korah beckoned me to his tent. “Clearly Moses and Aaron have failed you. Don’t even bother with that Miriam. I’ll clue you in, friend. Talk to the Kirby. Reason with him. Moses and Aaron are weak. They fear the Kirby more than anyone. I, Korah, fear no creature, even if I were to get swallowed up! Approach the Kirby! Deny the brothers!”

He made sense, I thought, and went to Kirby’s stomping grounds.

“Kirby, my daughter needs to find sustenance on the manna. How will she grow if you keep swallowing her portion whole?”

Kirby looked at me with big sad eyes. He swallowed me in one gulp.

I felt… Odd. Like my very essence had merged with the Kirby’s own. Who was I? What was I? I felt his thoughts.

“Hungry… so hungry… must… feed…”

I understood the creature now, but I had become one with it, and it with me. What would my family say when they saw me?

“Ah, there you are.” It was Moses and Aaron. “No, wait. You’re not the guy. You’re the Kirby. Spit him out. We have something for you.”

In a motion faster than the eye can handle, I was released from my pink prison in an instant. Moses stood over me.

“Sorry, God wouldn’t let me dispose of the Kirby. He says it’s part of His greater plan. But He did give me this.” He held up a red fruit, or possibly a vegetable.

“It’s called a Maxim Tomato,” Aaron explained. “This one fruit will sate the Kirby’s appetite until he gets injured. But we have more.”

I felt the need to apologize to the brothers for doubting them, but it’s not as though they knew of my mistrust. I apologized regardless.

“We all make mistakes,” said Aaron.

“Yes,” said Moses. “Now go feed your family manna before it gets wormy.”

I started to run to my quarters when I stopped and turned to the Kirby. “Thank you, creature! You won’t be hungry any longer!”

The Kirby squeaked out something, but I couldn’t understand him. It sounded either like “You’re welcome” or “There are many more hardships for the Jewish people along the way. Be careful of pitfalls the Jews may fall through, okay? Ayyyy!”

Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

An Unremarkable Anniversary

An Unremarkable Anniversary

45 years had gone by since Karen and Vimal tied the knot. 42 years had gone by since the birth of their only child, David. 30 years had gone by since the birth of their granddaughter, Lucy. To the average bystander, they seem to have cherished every moment.

Karen met Vimal while touring India and the two fell hard for each other. They quickly bonded over smooth jazz, the local fruit drinks, and their initial loneliness before meeting. When the tour ended, Vimal followed Karen to the states against his parents’ wishes. They called her slut, whore, white she-beast. Now they call her “Vimal’s white spouse.” It was progress enough.

Now that David moved out and raised his own family, the pair had empty nest syndrome. What would they do now that David left? It had been years and they were still asking that question. They bought a tropical bird, but all it did was soil its cage and keep them up at night.

“Happy anniversary, honey,” Vimal kissed his wife. She returned it on the cheek. He felt isolated, but kept it to himself.

“So what did you do for our anniversary?” Karen asked.

“Nothing, really. Do you want to go somewhere?”

“I need to go to the supermarket to pick up ramen noodles in a cup.”

“That reminds me, I need a new watch.”

So the two headed out on a cold summer’s day for noodles and a watch, trying to ignore the fact that they had no drive to have relations, no appetite for an evening out, no interest in seeing David and his family today.

First, they stopped off at the watch store. The man behind the counter asked them how he could help.

“Um… I was wondering if you could fix my watch?”

Karen looked at him with wide eyes. “But I thought…”

“I changed my mind,” he waved her off.

“What’s so special about this old thing?” The watch looked battered but not dead.

“Yes, Vimal. What’s so special about it?”

Vimal scraped his foot along the floor. “It’s the watch my arranged bride bought for me.”

“He’d like a new watch,” Karen forcefully said, throwing the watch on the floor and stomping on it.

“Yes,” the man said. “Right this way.”

By the time Vimal chose a watch, it was getting darker.

“You never talk about your arranged marriage,” Karen huffed.

“I’m a fool, not an idiot,” Vimal winked.

“Was she prettier than me?”

Vimal stopped in his tracks.

“Was she? Well?”

“I don’t remember what she looked like,” he hushed.

The pair walked silently to the bus for a few minutes. They just missed one, but another would be going in that direction in ten minutes.

“Can I be honest about that broach you got me last year, Vimal?”

“You didn’t like it.”

“I fished the receipt out of the trash and exchanged it for a vi[censored].”

“Why do you need one of those?” Vimal cringed.

“You mean a [censored]tor? It’s called a [censored]bra[censored]. Why are men so afraid of them?”

“I don’t even like to write out the full word,” he said. “It makes me feel inadequate.”

“Well, you’ll be happy to know it does nothing for me. I’m still unsatisfied.”

“That doesn’t make me happy,” Vimal lied.

“So sure.”

They watched a bus drive in the opposite direction.

“If we’re being honest, that wasn’t my arranged bride’s watch. It was from David.”

Karen put her hand over her mouth. “Why…?”

“I hated that watch AND I had no receipt. I tried breaking it, but I couldn’t destroy it. Now if he sees me without it, I can blame you.”

Karen rolled her eyes and turned away from him. “Such a great husband and father.”

“Terrific wife.”

The bus pulled up. They sat in different seats.

At the grocery store, Karen found some exotic fruit she had been looking for. A muscular young man with spiky black hair talked out loud and she told him to keep it down. He grinded his teeth at her.

A few minutes later, she went to the ramen noodles in a cup. Nothing. The usual pyramid of Cup O’ Noodle was gone.

“Oh, the ramen? I saw a man with spiky black hair taking it all for himself.” Vimal regretted telling her.

Karen spat on the floor. “He’s doing this to me! That little brat!”

“I can ask if he wants to share some,” he wimpishly tried.

“No, don’t give him the satisfaction. It’s what he wants.”

They left without buying anything.

On the bus ride home, neither lovebird spoke. Karen glared out the window and Vimal looked at his new watch, setting it to Indian time.

When they came home, Vimal packed his bag.

“I’m going home for a while. I’ll be back in a few weeks.”

“Happy anniversary,” she muttered.

“Yeah… say goodbye to David, Barb and Lucy for me.”

She suspected he wasn’t coming back to America. It hadn’t been that they had a bad fight or several small fights, but the spark was dead. It was the only thing keeping them together.

Four years later, Vimal returned with the woman he had been once arranged to marry. Karen was single but selling high-functioning vibr[censored]s for the elderly. They met once more.

“Ah, hello Karen.”

“Yes, Vimal. Happy anniversary.”

“Oh, is it that time again?”

“We’ve got no obligations. Want to grab a coffee before driving up to Lucy’s wedding?”

“Sounds like a plan,” he smiled.

His wife tapped her foot. “Ahem?”

“Oh, and Aishwarya comes with us. Is that okay?”

“Sure. Say, you’re an old woman now too. [censored]brator?”

To Bury Treasure

To Bury Treasure

“Heathcliff… it’s me, Cathy, I’ve come home, I’m so cold…” Burt wasn’t sure of the lyrics, but she got them mostly right.

She held a pair of large sandals in one hand and a treasure chest under her other arm.

She disapproved of the way the sand squished in between her toes. It was as if she had been walking on salted brains. She also disapproved of the way the seagulls were circling around her and Skipper.

Skipper. Dumb dog. He had the IQ of a dalmatian but lacked the inbreeding. He was a good boy, and Burt knew that, but damn, was he ever stupid. Once, she pretended to throw a ball, and he ran into the street, narrowly avoiding a Toyota Camry.

She named him that because of the way he jumped with each step. She tried it, but her heels were too large and she nearly tripped over herself. Burt looked around embarrassed. No one. She was relieved, but lonesome. Hoping to mooch a lunch off of others, she realized it was too cloudy and that she was no better than the seagulls surrounding her.

She sat against a wooden fence in the sand. The chest could wait.

Burt spotted Skipper playing with a seagull who appeared to be as dumb as the husky. They made a game of tilting their heads repeatedly and looking in a direction that led to nothing.

“Bow, wow!”

“Squawk!”

“Ha ha!” Burt laughed at the animal friends, and took a photo of the two getting along. In her entire life, it received three likes across all of her social platforms.

She found more energy surging through her long legs. “Here Skipper!” He circled around for a bit until he found “here.”

With a seagull on his back, Skipper pawed at the wooden box Burt kept locked. “No, Skipper! It’s for later, and you can’t have!”

Since her parents died… rather, they were dead to her, but yes, very much alive, she felt companionship in both nature and beasts. Like her, they were unpredictable (and as her former friends once said, full of beauty. She would heavily deny these remarks and individuals).

She had a brother, but he was in jail, while her other brother was in a coma. She was bereft of friends and family, but being alone suited Burt Campbell (no relation to the Richard Mulligan character).

Her real name was Alberta… as she thought about her name, she walked onto a shard of glass. She missed the salted brain sensation. As she took the bandage from her arm and put it on her sole, she continued thinking about her name. Alberta was not her favorite name. She was nicknamed “Bertie” for short, then “Bert,” but she spelled it with a U. Not the best name story, she thought.

The cold chill brushed against her skin. She rolled down the plaid sleeves of her shirt and buttoned it at the wrists. Her inner narration was yawning. Nothing of interest happened to her. She had heard about a woman who couldn’t see the color blue and wondered what that was like. She also recalled the news piece about the day seven pizza chefs and a delivery guy vanished. An unlikely story, she felt, but entertaining.

Burt dropped the treasure chest.

“Let’s look at him one more time.”

She opened the lock, lifted the lid of the box and saw that it was still filled to the brim with bones and a dog skull.

“Sorry, Skipper. I give you a lot of flak for being dumb, but Gil was even dumber. He was a dalmatian. Really dumb. He was my best friend after Tom went into the coma. Then he got hit by a Toyota Camry and… well, you’re here.”

“Bow.”

“I bow to no dog,” she joked. “Can you dig? I forgot my shovel.”

Burt closed the lid and locked it again. “Dig, Skipper. Dig for Gil.”

She motioned digging and eventually just dug the sand with her own hands. Skipper started digging two minutes before she finished.

“Good boy, Skipper.” She went silent for four minutes. “Goodbye, Gil.”

“Goodbye, friend. Thank you for taking such good care of me.”

She wheeled around and saw a fat bald man with a thin mustache and spectacles. She didn’t feel any anger. Actually, she felt relieved, like Gil had wanted to say that.

“Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Name’s Dean.”

“Bur–Alberta. Well, have a nice day at the beach, Dean.”

“I always do!” He chuckled at her, then sighed.

Burt wondered if it was illegal to keep a seagull. Before she could react, it flew away.

“Both of us lost a friend today, huh?”

“Wowowo.”

“Come on, I’ll make you some nice pork ch–” She checked her breast pocket. “I think I dropped my keys in the hole. Where was it again?”

The seagull came back with Burt’s keys in its beak. It sat on Skipper’s back again.

“Guess you guys aren’t so dumb, huh?”

Skipper howled and the seagull, later named Keys, squawked.

Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Night Out

Wallace and Gromit Grand Night Out

Another night knitting. Knit knit knit. Gromit studiously worked on his new sweater for Wallace, who was busy on a new invention. Something about the pulse, maybe. Or was that impulse?

A large explosion rocked the foundation for the third time that week, and it was only Monday. Not again. But whether it was an explosion of success or failure remained to be seen.

“Gromit,” wheezed Wallace, covered in ash and soot. “Old lad. What am I doing with my life? I’ve fallen for three women in my whole life, including a murderer and a cheese-hater. I’m bald, Gromit. And I’ve blown up so many times, I have no eyebrows.”

Gromit looked at his friend with sympathy, but just wanted to get back to knitting.

“I’ve decided, old boy. We’re going to have a cracking night out, Gromit! No! A GRAND night out!”

Gromit rolled his eyes. Mid-life crisis? Or maybe that machine made him impulsive. He liked Wallace, but he really liked a quiet night.

“Oh, Gromit. We’ll go to a dog-friendly bar so you can really wag your tail at a lady! That poodle found a new owner and she moved, remember? I bet you’re quite lonesome!”

Yes, he couldn’t forget Fluffles. Her new owner was much more caring, and he didn’t want to get in the way of that. They still wrote, but it was clearly over. Maybe Wallace was right. Maybe a new woman could get him out of his funk.

Wallace left the house in a dapper suit and tie, while Gromit sported a scarf. They walked six blocks to get to The Crack in the Wall. They entered the bar and…

It was full of trendy young people. Wallace shuffled his feet.

“Oh Gromit, oh no! I don’t want to rob the cradle! Why, they’re practically children! Let’s go, lad.” As he turned to leave, an exotic young woman with a tongue stud pulled his arm.

“Hey man, like, hashtag great suit! I’m Kayla and this is my pug, Curie!” She grinned broadly. “Dance with me a bit, love?”

“Well… you only live once, right? Although I have been working on a reincarnation machine for years that– WHOA!” She pulled him onto the dance floor. He danced oddly, but she was polite and copied his moves.

Gromit approached the bar. A lady bartender approached him. “Pick your poison, doggie.” He pointed to the whiskey. She poured him a glass and added “On the house, Rover.” He inhaled the drink.

“Out on the town for a bit of love, love? I must warn you, tonight… the ladies are all dogs.” She wasn’t kidding. He hated pugs, but a bulldog? A chihuahua? Where were the Great Danes? He’d even settle for a labradoodle. He wasn’t only into looks, but everyone is entitled to liking their types.

The song ended and Kayla took Wallace to a table. “Like what’s your name, man?”

“Wallace,” he beamed.

“Cool. Cool. Got a last name?”

“Oh, yes!” he smiled.

A minute passed. “Okay then. So why are you here, Wallace?”

“Ah, to have a nice evening out. No, a GRAND NIGHT out!”

“I see.”

“What do you do for a living?” he asked.

“I’m an inventor. I created an app that makes dieting easier!”

“I’m also an inventor! I’ve created robot trousers, a space ship, a bed that drops you into your clothes in the morning…”

The hipster bent over the table and whispered something in his ear. He blushed.

“I-I-I-I-I couldn’t! The very idea! Sell my inventions! Ms. Kayla, they’re not public-ready!”

“So when will they be ready?” she posed.

Wallace paused. “I… I don’t know. My contraptions always have a bug in them.”

“Well, I’ve got to dash off. Nice meeting you.”

Back at the bar, the bartender was telling Gromit about her favorite dogs. “And huskies. Aren’t they gorgeous creatures?”

Gromit nodded wildly. Finally, here was someone else who got it right.

“Gromit, we’re leaving. Say goodbye to the nice lady.”

Gromit waggled his fingers, half-drunk from the free refills she gave him.

“Bye, doggie. Come back any time, yeah?”

At home, Gromit put his sweater aside and passed out on his bed. What a grand night out.

Not so for Wallace, who spent the night tinkering and clanking. He was going to sell one invention if it killed him.

The next morning, Gromit’s head pounded. He felt the night more than made up for it.

Wallace called him to the ground floor. Gromit trudged, each footstep pounding into his head. When would this nightmare end?

A small device covered in a cloth was displayed on the table. “I’ve checked this over and over. It won’t explode, attack, or fall in love with its owner. I present… The Grommie!”

He unveiled a robot dog that resembled Gromit.

“Watch this, lad. Grommie, sit.”

It sat.

“Fetch!”

It fetched.

“Speak!”

It didn’t speak.

“I programmed it to be mute to be like you, lad.”

Tears welled up in Gromit’s eyes. He hugged Wallace, who was also crying.

“We’re going to live the good life now, Gromit. And I think that impulsive nature left me. But what say we visit The Crack in the Wall tonight anyway?”

Gromit rubbed his temples. Not tonight, it seemed.

I Do Not Want To Be Best Man At This Cat Wedding

I Do Not Want To Be Best Man At This Cat Wedding

Why did my mistress dress me up in a bow tie and take me outside? That is, I believe, animal abuse. Her and her nutty friends just HAD to marry off some cats today. Mews flash: Cats don’t get married! We prefer hiding in the dark and being nude. Oh well. At least it’s not a sweater. Mr. Meowpants didn’t get off so easily.

The worst part is that they chose me to be Best Man. Why not “Best Cat?” I’d wear that title with utter pride, mistress! But no, Julia gets to be “Cat of Honor.” Where’s the sense in that? She pooped outside the litter box last week! Where’s my honor, huh?

Best Man. Yeah, right. This Best Cat hates other cats, especially Julia. Like I’d lick her fur for that cat blog. That thing is a train wreck, mistress. I can’t believe you cried that you weren’t getting enough subscribers. Humans have weird problems.

I’ve met Tim and Missy. Their owner is my mistress’s best friend. Tim and Missy are okay. But here’s the thing: Like all cats, I hate all cats. Okay, that’s a generalization, but name a cat who immediately liked a new cat you’d brought into its domain. Is it zero? Cats can’t count, you know.

I really hated Julia when mistress introduced her. Still do. But at least Tim and Missy don’t bite or swat at me. I feel sorry for them. I wonder why anyone would marry off neutered and spayed cats when they can’t have kittens. I also wonder why anyone would marry off cats.

I spotted some of the humans crying. I mean, I guess it’s allergies, because I doubt most of the women met these cats at the risk of getting their faces scratched up. You have to be pretty lonely and vain to attend a cat wedding. I think it’s mostly women here, as I see more dresses than pants. I swatted at some skirts, and mistress picked me up. “Naughty Onyx,” she said, repeating the hated name. It sounded oddly pleasant coming from her, as usual.

They got a traditional priest, not a cat dressed as a Catholic priest, not a lady priest, not two stacked tables with a Bible on top. I think I heard Lili (the bride and groom’s mistress) that he’s her father. He looked very uncomfortable. More uncomfortable than me. I think I felt something called… pity? Cats don’t feel pity and cats don’t dance, I thought, looking at the dance floor they set up for an outside wedding.

I slinked over to Tim. I wanted to know what he thought of all this wedding stuff.

“Mew?” I phrased elegantly.

“Mrrrrrrr…” he growled like a barbarian.

Fine. Screw Tim. I guess he has cold paws.

That suit looked itchy, I thought. I guess there’s cats and humans who have it worse than me.

I curiously looked around at the guests, because I hadn’t been neutered yet. Tabby. Calico. Dog. Shorthair. DOG?!

Yes, some man brought his dog to a cat wedding. He was the big gossip discussion the whole time. “Why is he here? Did they get lost on the way to a dog birthday party?” No one knew, but I did hear Lili call the master “bro.” Was he her broker? What was that anyway? Mistress talked on the phone with hers a lot.

I listened to human gossip. It went something like this:

Pink Hair Woman: “Blah blah blah priest is Lili’s father.”

Blue Hair Woman: “Really? Blah blah blah problems with her lifestyle!”

Pink: “Blah blah blah with his cancer, he’s not blah blah blah weddings any more, but this was a special occasion!”

Blue: “Everything is beautiful. Hey, little kitten.”

I darted off.

Finally, the guests found their seats. The priest looked sadly at Lili and his son.

Priest: “Blah blah blah beloved, we are gathered here to… to… blah blah blah can’t do this. It’s a cat wedding! Lili, why won’t you ever get married blah blah blah?”

Lili: “Papa, not here, not now. Blah blah blah.”

Priest: “What is asexual anyway? Why don’t blah blah blah your mother happy?”

Lili: “I don’t believe in marriage?” I wasn’t sure if she was asking a question.

Priest: “But you make me do it, mocking the sanctity of God and love? Blah blah blah can make your own damn wedding.”

Commotion broke out. Lili fell into her broker’s arms and cried. The guest screamed, cursed God, cursed Christ, cursed Sundays. Mistress just looked down sadly.

I didn’t want her to cry. Then she would pet me with her long nails. (shudder)

I carefully walked over to the priest, who was hunched over.

“Oh, little kitten. You’re as unnatural here as blah blah blah.”

I meowed in agreement.

“I just… when my blah blah blah asked me to host a wedding for her, I was elated. But a cat wedding? Blah blah blah end my career on that.”

“Mew.”

“It’s not right. But… it’s not Christian to break a promise either, blah blah blah. We’ll work out our problems another blah blah blah.”

I purred a little, then stopped just to tease him.

We walked back to Lili. “I’ll do it,” he told her. She clasped her arms around him.

The ceremony was awful. The nice priest was trying to remain dignified the whole time, but the couple started to tussle and Julia pooped on the altar. The cats in the seats meowed loudly for food, and I couldn’t get my bow tie off. Mistress ended up crying and rushed over to pet me (shudder). The broker spoke loudly on the phone to HIS broker, and the catering staff laughed the whole time. The dog, surprisingly, was very well behaved for his species.

When it came to kiss the bride, Tim licked Missy’s thigh. Close enough for these people.

The food was considerate. I assumed it would be (ew) vegan dishes, but there was fish! Chicken! Meat! Ten points to Lili!

As it turned out, the dance floor was only for the humans. Thank goodness. I assumed mistress was going to hold my paws and lift me on my hind legs! I really lucked out!

All in all, I’d say it was a normal wedding, but with cats.

I’d like to end off by saying, mistress, you better not marry me off to Julia any time soon.

Follow The Money

Follow The Money

“Oy, what a cold day it is here in… MANHATTAN!” Fiveish sing-sung. “Ah, not a single smile. But I’m here to change that. By the end of the day, I’ll have made five people smile!” He grinned like a toothless idiot. “I am a five dollar bill, after all.”

He spotted a trendy young woman with a nose ring and thick glasses texting and walking. “Ah, my first customer,” he quipped. “Excuse me, ma’am!”

She froze in horror. “Um, yes?” Was this a guy in a costume, or real life?

“Do you have a five dollar bill?”

“Um… like, you are a five dollar bill.”

“I know,” he grinned. “I was hoping you’d set me up on a shidduch.”

Time crawled until she spoke. “Um, what’s a shiddock?”

“A shidduch, you know,” he wobbled, “it’s like a date.”

“Oh… um, I’m actually in-between jobs right now, so I don’t have any money.”

“‘In-between jobs?’ Isn’t that a fancy way of saying no one will hire you?”

The woman blubbered a bit, then ran off crying hysterically.

“I think I saw a smile…” Fiveish convinced himself. “What’s a shiddock? I gotta remember that one for the comedy club!”

Two blocks over, Fiveish spotted an arguing couple. “Looks like I need to take off my comedy hat and put on my love hat!”

“You never treat me right!”

“You don’t deserve to be treated well!”

“My mother…”

“Your mother…”

“STOP!” said Fiveish. “Friends, don’t you see that this bickering is not what the Torah had in mind? Shalom Bais, people! Love and unity and peace!”

“I’d LOVE to get a PIECE of YOU, Nitty.”

“Fiveish. Come one, come all, come on! Lovers?”

The two turned away and continued arguing.

Fiveish grinned to himself as he walked down the street. “They’re probably yelling about how great my counseling was. That makes three now!”

Spotting a homeless man with a dog, Fiveish toddled right up to him.

“Hello, good sir! May I treat you with a meal?”

“Oh, God. You wanna take me to one of ’em kosher places I bet.”

“Of course!” Fiveish beamed. “Kosher is fo’ sure no sure means of not being a Jew!”

“What?”

“Kosher is a Jewish essential.” he muttered.

“No thanks. I used to be a Jew–”

“Once a Jew, always a Jew!”

“But I found out my birth parents weren’t. I never even got the ol’ snippity snap. So I chose to live like a non-Jew. Nothin’ personal to Judaism, just always wanted to try lobsters.”

“Snippity-snap is a Bris Milah?”

The man sighed. “Yer wastin’ yer time. Don’t you know that money can’t get you happiness?”

Fiveish froze in his tracks. Money? Can’t? Get? You? Happiness? The words circled and danced around in his head, each word growing with more and more meaning.

Was it true? As a genetically modified Jewish five dollar bill, was he wasting his time trying to make others smile? Money can’t get you happiness. What about tzedukah, charity? What about paying the therapist that final dollar bill because you’re finally cured? Wasn’t Lincoln happy to be on the five? Aren’t the fabulously wealthy happy? Was he even happy?

Finally, he collapsed against a brick wall, buried his face into his large gloved hands and wept. A shadow descended upon him.

“Smile and the world smiles with you,” said the large man with a gun, “cry and you cry alone. Hand over your cash.”

Fiveish paused his tears. It made perfect sense. It didn’t matter that he was made of money. He just had to keep smiling. He smiled at the man. The man recoiled in terror and ran off.

“I made EVERYONE smile today!” he sing-sung. “Because I am Fiveish, the greatest five dollar bill the world has ever known! Smile, world, smile! Oh, and do a lot of bikur cholem, visiting the sick! Not a lot of people really do it, REALLY do it, because maybe a Facebook post isn’t enough! Send a card, flowers, chocolate if they aren’t diabetic! Trust me, you’ll make their day and your own!”

“SHUT UP!” screamed several New Yorkers.

Fiveish smiled. “Right back at ya, my friends!”