Jack O’Lanterns Want Falafel

Jack O'Lanterns Want Falafel

It was 10 o’clock on Halloween night. The customers of Hank’s Gourmet Falafel were chowing down on some prime falafels. However, three poor souls were unable to enjoy the cuisine of the Middle East.

“This sucks,” said April, the middle-sized jack o’lantern. “All I wanted for Halloween was to eat a falafel before I rotted away. Is that so wrong?”

“I getcha, April,” said the largest of the trio, Mike. “But it’s not like Toy Story where we can just scare ’em into doing our bidding. It’s like the sequel Toy Story movies where we’re confined to keepin’ our mouths shut.”

Lester tried to frown, but couldn’t. His tiny grin was plastered forever on his face. “I’d settle for a scoop of a topping.” The other two agreed.

At 10:15, a customer was chatting to her friend and said,

“Hey, as a joke, what if I put my falafel in this jack o’lantern’s mouth?”

“Totally. That would be hilarious.”

She inched her falafel into the Lester the pumpkin’s carved mouth and…

CHOMP!

POOF!

He disappeared.

“I swear, I thought there was a pumpkin here. Did you take a picture?”

“N-noooo, I missed it, sorry not sorry but actually very sorry.”

April and Mike gaped at one another.

“He’s dead! He vanished!”

“Yeah, I getcha. But y’know, I’d rather die like that than rotting in a compost heap.”

April thought. “Yeah. Me too.”

10:45 came and a careless child dropped his falafel on the linoleum. “BAWWWW!” he wailed. He wailed and wailed until Hank came over.

“Don’t worry, wailing brat. Sir, I’ll make your son another falafel half-off. Is that okay?”

“He’s actually my nephew.”

“Don’t care.”

“What should we do with the one he dropped?”

“Dump it in the big pumpkin’s mouth for all I care.”

Mike grinned. “Guess this is goodbye, April.”

Once the falafel fell into his mouth, he dissolved into a puddle of orange goop.

“WHAT?!” freaked out April. “That didn’t happen to Lester!”

“Bob, clean up that mess. And we’re closing in thirteen minutes!”

April began to worry. If she ate a falafel, would she vanish like Lester or goop like Mike? Should she try a falafel if the time came? Well, she couldn’t very well prevent it from happening, could she? Was this the end for her? Would she try falafel tonight, or go into the compost heap?

“You, pumpkin, No falafel for you.”

What? Did Hank acknowledge her existence? She wasn’t alive per se, but she had thoughts and desires, emotions too. She didn’t want to die, but it was looking like no way out at that point. What if she did eat a falafel? Would something happen to her?

Hank locked up and took April into the back room.

“Anything you want to say to me, April?”

How did he know her name? Was he a pumpkin-whisperer?

“Your friends are fine, if that’s what you’re thinking.” It wasn’t. “Lester’s body and soul have gone to a better place, where falafel is bountiful all the time.” He paused. “Mike was a tainted pumpkin and went to Pumpkin Hell, which is nicer than Human Heaven.”

April was baffled.

Hank unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a jack o’lantern within. “That’s right, I’m a pumpkin, and my magic falafels have sent your chums to the afterlife. But I’m two years old and I need a successor. April, instead of ever eating falafel, will you stay here for two years to guide needy jack o’lanterns to paradise and damnation?”

April was baffled.

“No,” she thought. “Give me a falafel so I can go to my end in peace.”

He did so, and she dissolved into goop, which vanished immediately.

With April gone, Hank let a squash named Barry with no agenda run the falafel shop. It was a much calmer atmosphere in general, but the cucumbers always came out weak, so it closed every other season just to reevaluate the flavor of the cucumbers. Frankly, they were never great, but it was a good marketing strategy, usually.

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Ghosts of the Barbershop

Ghosts of the Barbershop

“Your wife?

“Yup.”

“And you’re a barber?”

“You know it.”

“Sometimes I wonder. Your wife, and you’re a barber…”

“I cut men’s hair, not… okay, I’m not good with men’s long hair either.”

“So when she saw it, what happened?”

“She divorced me. After six months, no less.”

“It is less, man. If it were, maybe two years…”

“Well I don’t really blame her. She looked like an Asian pop star when I got done with her locks. The nutty kind, not the classy kind.”

“They’re all nutty in Asia, man.”

“Well…” Alex paused.

“What, man?”

“She’s the reason I haven’t passed on yet. I just want to cut a woman’s hair right, once. I know I could do it.”

Kurt levitated a pair of scissors. “Like I don’t know that? I want to cut anyone’s hair using only scissors, but I’m a freakin’ razor guy. It ain’t gonna happen. No one’s been down here since they carted away our bodies in ’11.”

The barbershop was underground, but the only sign of damage to the place was the large block of ceiling that crushed the pair of barbers. Kurt lamented not tipping the contractor.

“We’ve been cutting hair since the mid-2000’s, right?”

“Yeah, man.”

“Who cut the long-haired customers’ hair?”

“Uh… Tony.”

“Oh yeah, good ol’ Tony. He was out with mumps that day.”

“Lucky sunnuva…”

Rattling came from the outside. Someone was tampering with the locks.

“KURT.”

“ALEX.”

A high-pitched voice echoed in the stairwell. “Okay, we’re in the Barbershop of the Damned. Remember, breaking and entering into abandoned places is illegal, but fun.”

This was it. A woman for Alex to practice on. Or for Kurt to use scissors on.

“And here’s where Alex Monty and Kurt Segar died. Remember, if you post it on your YouTube show, it’s not illegal.”

“It is, though.”

The woman spun around. Nothing. “Who said that? Get out here!”

The barbers materialized in front of the YouTuber. “Hello,” said Alex. “Can we cut your hair?”

“What, are you trying to scare me? I’ve seen ghosts before.”

“Man–er, ma’am, we need to move on. Can we cut your hair?”

“Are you… Alex Monty and Kurt Segar?”

Alex chuckled. “Guilty as charged. Look, sorry to bother you, uh…”

“Liz.”

“Miss Liz. Can you take off the hat and sit in the chair? One of us would like to practice on you.”

Liz turned her phone off. “I don’t think…”

“No need to think,” said Kurt. “Just choose who’s hotter,” he pointed at himself, “and let them play with your hair.”

Liz hesitated as she took off her hat to reveal…

“You’re bald.”

“Yeah, no, I have cancer and chemo. Sorry to disappoint you.”

“No,” said Alex. “We’re sorry to have imposed on you.”

“What about a wig?” asked Kurt.

“I think they’re itchy and represent a patriarchal concept of women needing to be beautiful. Mostly itchy.”

“No, ma’am. I mean would you be willing to wear a wig and we cut that? We don’t have a wig head, so we couldn’t cut them right, but we do have wigs in the back room.”

Liz rolled her tongue. “Fine. But I want the cute one to do it first. Alex.”

Alex pumped his fist, or the spectral version of it. He picked up a brunette wig that went down to Liz’s shoulders. He picked up the scissors and went to work. After a half-hour, Alex was finished with his masterpiece.

“Is this me?” asked Liz.

“Yeah.”

“It looks great.”

Alex faded away with a big smile on his face.

Kurt stroked his astral beard. “Looks like he’s a real barber.”

“Next. Your turn, scissors guy.”

“No thanks. I actually don’t care that I suck with scissors.”

“Then you must have another reason for still being here…”

Kurt thought. “Oh yeah. The Nintendo Wii U came out after I died. Was it a success?”

Liz forced back a laugh. “N-no. Not even a little.”

“Good.” And then he vanished.

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.

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 Out Door That Wanted To Be In

The Out Door That Wanted To Be In

Once upon a modern time, there existed a Stop & Shop. This Stop & Shop had hundreds of people visiting it per day. In and out the people came; in one door and out the other.

Now this store had a troublesome automatic exit door that had a dream: To let people inside. It thought that if people came through it, more people would enter than leave.

So one morning when the store opened, the in door opened for a customer and.. the out door did the same.

“Well, I can’t enter through the exit door,” thought the customer, and entered the entrance.

The out door was puzzled. Why didn’t the fat lady want to enter?

Later that evening, a man with spiky black hair tried going through the exit door.

“Finally,” thought the door. “Someone will enter through me.”

The manager stopped the man. “I’m sorry, sir. Our exit door is malfunctioning right now. Please enter the entrance.”

“Blasted Stop & Shop. They stop you before you can shop!”

“Yes, ha ha, sir. Very clever.”

The man grunted and went through the entrance.

The manager, who was a Muslim woman, but that isn’t really relevant, spoke to the door as though it were alive.

“Troublesome door. Why won’t you let people exit at the right time? And why do you open at the wrong time?”

The next day, someone came to look at the exit door.

“It’s gone full-on feelings.”

“Feelings?” asked the manager, who was irrelevantly a Muslim woman.

“It wants to be an entrance. It identifies as an entrance. You can’t reprogram it at this point.”

“The heck I can’t!” She began to yell at the door in Arabic.

“That won’t work, Ms. Othman. It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.”

“We don’t have that kind of money right now,” Ms. Othman muttered. “Well, we can just leave it alone for now.”

Soon, a new store opened up, bigger and faster than Stop & Shop. The great big Stop & Shop lost a lot of business. Even the man with spiky black hair stopped coming to buy groceries.

“And it’s all your fault, exit door! People think we’re incompetent and won’t enter our store anymore!”

The Muslim lady manager was just angry at the new rival store and blowing off steam, but the door didn’t know that. It was sad.

But the door didn’t want to give up opening for entering customers either. What was a door to do?

“I have the solution!” said Ms. Othman.

She hired a painter to write something on the inside of the door and a second person to scrape off “OUT” on the door. The new paint inside read:

“ENTERING OUTSIDE”

The exit door was so happy. It opened the door to many exiting people who wanted to enter the outside. Even the man with spiky black hair came back, claiming he couldn’t find the yogurt his wife liked at the new store.

Ms. Othman was very happy. She tried to replicate the success with repainting the words on the bathroom doors, but it was just… just a mess.

Basketball Telethon

Basketball Telethon

Basketball Telethon was written before a live fish. He didn’t like it.

“WHAT?!” The Sean Connery-esque mumble of Wendel Preston Snobworthy the 14th raised to an unusually rageful pitch. “Clams are going extinct!”

Wendel the squirrel wore a large red bow tie and thick, round spectacles. He was talking to no one in particular, but a Southern drawl in the shape of a clam answered him.

“Yes suh! An’ that’s exactly why yuh can’t eat me! Ah’m a rare breed, certainly Ah am!”

Wendel popped the clam in his mouth without a concern for the rare breed. “Something must be done!” He chomped loudly on the mollusk. “I say, and I have said!”

Candice piped up, curling her wavy blonde hair and scratching her mouse ears. “But what can we do? The whole country thrives on clams!” she said, gesturing to a pot stuffed to the brim with clams. “Why, even the President eats clams, and he doesn’t do anything that people who actually exist do!”

She held up a newspaper with a picture of a cute pig with a curly mustache and a top hat eating a clam, with a headline that read “President… Eat Clams?! How Odd.”

“And we need clams to fuel submarines!” said The Nameless One. He had orange fur and a horn obscuring the left side of his face. “Explain that to the naval research families!”

Doctor Stripper, first name Doctor, surname Stripper, chimed in. “And what about starving children in Hungary? If only Turkey would donate their Thanksgiving dinners!”

Wendel ripped off Doctor’s arm and swallowed it whole. “Yes, something NOT freaking idiotic must be done!”

“MY BOYFRIEND’S PLEASURE ARM! WENDEL, YOU BUTTHOLE!” shrieked Candice Canderly candidly.

“I’m okay, honey.” He tussled his gray hair. He flapped his plastic wings to see if they got torn off. “I just need to lie down for the rest of the story. G’night…” With that, he flew home.

Candice composed herself. “We can recycle our clams! For every clam we eat, we breed two more in its place!”

Wendel bit his lower lip. “Should I eat you?”

Candice giggled. “No, I’m pretty!”

“Fair enough…”

“I’VE GOT IT! A BASKETBALL TELETHON!” cried The Nameless One.

“I say, that’s a terrible idea! But we might as well try!”

“You frighten me,” Nameless admitted.

“Welcome to the B-Ball Telethon to save the clams!” the announcer said. “I’m Thorsty G. Lastname, and this is some guy I kidnapped!” He gestured to his cohost.

“Call the police. NOW,” the cohost whispered.

Candice gestured to the television. “Oh no! Someone already beat us to the punch!”

“I called it Basketball, not B-Ball. Totes different,” said The Nameless One.

Back on the TV, Thorsty was introducing a sea anemone to the crowd. “Now let’s go to the Clamdiggers’ team captain, A Blob Of Sea Stuff!”

“Wassup, Thorsty,” the anemone got out.

“A BLOB OF SEA STUFF!” Wendel freaked out.

“Who’s that?” Candice asked, not sure she wanted to know.

“My old arch-nemesis from Yoga Class! THIS MEANS WAR!”

The Nameless One realized something. “Shouldn’t we be saving clams?”

At the court, ABOSS was talking to a tall white dog in a red necktie.

“It just occurred to me, but we don’t have anyone to play against.”

“I am currently a dog,” said the dog, dogly.

“A BLOB OF SEA STUFF! I WILL BE YOUR OPPONENT!”

The anemone shocked his enemy with some kind of powerful energy, I don’t know what.

“I mean, just about anyone will do.”

“I am currently a dog.”

Dazed, the squirrel spun around and warbled, “I’m serious, A Blob Of Sea Stuff! This is for honor! And clams! And Candice’s awful Clam Chowder!”

The entire stadium erupted into laughter, as literally everyone has had her Clam Chowder. Candice laughed the loudest, not at the line, but at the thought of murdering all the jerks there.

“Oh, very well. It’s on, pal!” said ABOSS.

“Whatcha got, blob? I’ll get you inside, outside, upside, downside, frontside, backside, leftside, rightside, hereside, thereside, whereside, pearside, topside, bottomside–”

ABOSS shocked him again.

“This has got to be the least basketball game ever!” remarked Candice.

“The least basketball game ever?” asked Nameless.

“Yes! It’s basically fencing.”

Nameless couldn’t rationally argue with her. Suddenly, a giant robot in a hoodie sneaked up on them.

“Psst! You guys tryin’ to save clams?”

“Yeah!” answered Candice. “You have a plan to save them?”

“NO! I HATE CLAMS! That’s why I made them a dying breed! NO ONE CAN STOP ME NOW!”

“Then why did you tell us your plan?” she asked.

“BECAUSE I’M REALLY, REALLY STUPID!” he admitted.

Back on the court, Wendel was struggling to remain conscious. “C… clams… save… chowder… currently a dog…” Then he realized.

WAIT A SECOND! Forward, he says “I am currently a dog.” But backward, he says “God a yltnerruc ma I.” WHICH CAN ONLY MEAN ONE THING!

“YOU’RE NOT REALLY A DOG! YOU’RE ACTUALLY A WEIRD WOLF-OCTOPUS CREATURE!”

“Uh… okay,” muttered A Blob Of Sea Stuff. “That may be, but that won’t solve anything.”

“No, he’s right, ABOSS. I’m only a dog currently. If I don’t say the phrase, I turn back into a wolf-octopus creature. Let’s admit he defeated us.”

“He didn’t defeat me at all, The Current Dog!”

“Breaking news! There’s only seven clams left in the world!” the TV reported.

“WHAT?!” everyone yelled.

Candice raised her voice. “Hey, everyone! This robot is really stupid and he knows where the clams are!”

The robot became sad. “Hey, you don’t have to tell people I’m stupid…”

“Wait,” ABOSS chuckled. “This guy’s stupid? Tell me, how many nickels are in a dollar?”

“Um…” the robot tightened its hoodie. “Three?”

“HAW HAW! He really is stupid!” laughed Wendel.

At the President’s House, President Piggy had a room full of clams. “Oh boy! I sure do love oysters and being the President!”

Wendel stormed past the guards. “MISTER PRESIDENT! Those aren’t oysters! Those are CLAMS!”

“CLAMS? Oh… I’m the worst President ever! I’m even worse than every president ever!”

“Well…” Wendel assessed the situation. “Yes. You do suck fairly hard, but your intentions to rid us of oysters were good.”

Nameless changed the topic. “If it makes you feel any better, pigs don’t usually have mustaches.”

The President beamed brightly. “That’s right! Pigs DON’T usually have mustaches!” He fell into gloomy despair. “Sigh… no. Now I just feel like more of an outcast.” He raised his hooves into the air. “I guess all I can do is free all the clams!”

“Floob!” said the clams as they flew to the sea.

“I say, I know who I DON’T want as President for the next two weeks! HA HA HA!” Wendel laughed himself into a fit.

ABOSS caught everyone’s attention. “Hey, look! These clams stayed and… they’re multiplying at a rapid pace!”

Nameless started to fret. “Um… Aren’t there a bit too many clams?”

“Oh no!” worried Candice. “They’re getting bigger! We’re drowning in clams!”

“Now who’s stupid?” asked the robot.

“Still you.”

Wendel screamed and screamed. “Who would’ve imagined that the most dangerous animal known to man… was clam?”

“I did,” replied The Current Dog.

“Oh.”

Months later, the mighty Clam King sat upon his clam throne. “It’s good to be Clam King!” remarked the king.

“Yes, but it’s a good thing we overthrew your wicked plan months ago, so if it’s all the same to you, I’ll eat you.” And Wendel ate him.

“My future baby daddy’s arm hasn’t grown back,” groused Candice.

Wendel sighed. “Arms don’t grow back.”

Doctor Stripper rushed back for the last line of the story.

“Baby, my arm’s grown back! Let’s go bowling!”

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?”

Call Us Javelin F

Call Us Javelin F

“Stop. That’s the worst piece of crap I’ve ever bled out of my ears to.”

Javelin F wasn’t having much luck auditioning lately, and the Battle of the Bands was about to reject them.

“You guys need more female representation,” said Ida, the singer.

“Just chill out a little, alright judges?” muttered Lisa, the guitarist.

“I can play music on my nose,” giggled Katya, the keyboardist.

“Or I can punch you with ol’ Grinder,” threatened Gina, the drummer.

“Zis is not mine idea uff fun,” moped Svenja, the violinist.

Did you catch all the details of Javelin F’s band members? Good. Let’s proceed.

“We have nine all-female bands,” said a female judge.

“Like, we are chill,” muttered a hippie judge.

“Nix on the nose, madam,” giggled a hipster judge.

“Punch me and I’ll SUE you with ol’ Sue!” threatened an angry judge.

“What kind of name is Javelin F anyway?” asked a nondescript judge.

Javelin F thought for a minute.

“Like, what does the F stand for?”

“Feminism,” said Ida.

“Freedom,” said Lisa.

“Feeeeeeeeeeeeet,” moaned Katya.

“Fists? Flailing? Fire? Freak-out?” pondered Gina.

“Frankfurt,” whispered Svenja.

The bassist who founded the band named it “Javelin Fart,” but the original drummer threatened to quit if it wasn’t changed. She, along with the bassist, left the band around the time Ida and Katya joined.

“Sorry, but you’re just no good,” said the female judge. “You downright suck, actually.”

In the van, the women of Javelin F continued to squabble from where they left off.

“I told you we needed a new bassist.” Gina was right, a new bass guitar player would balance their sound out. It was the only thing they all agreed on.

“I think I said that,” mused Lisa.

“No, I did, and that we need more plush giraffes!” burst out Katya.

“You vomen vill be ze death uff me,” bemoaned Svenja.

Ida screeched. “That’s enough! This is why we suck, because we lack unity!”

The van fell silent and grew purple. The vibrations from the van rocked larger than usual.

“Um… gals?” Katya’s tone became uncharacteristically normal that everyone turned to look at her. “We’re not on Earth anymore.”

Ida laughed nervously. “Oh my nonexistent but totally female Goddess. It has to be Earth, Katya! Sweetie, you’re dreaming.”

“If she’s dreaming, zen I am dreaming as vell.”

“I don’t think this is a dream.”

“Where the hell is this craphole?”

As the band leader, Ida felt the need to calm everyone down. “Javelin F, stay in the van and we’ll get home soon. This purple mass of space-time can’t hurt us if we–”

“Toke up?”

“Put on a pine cone puppet show?”

“Punch the space-time?”

“Go back to Deutschland?”

“Remain. Calm.” Ida was feeling very uncalm.

The van disintegrated around the five women.

“Can we panic now?” Katya asked oddly lucidly.

“Do you have pine cone puppets?”

“No. I was bluffing.”

“Then yes, it’s panic time.”

Javelin F started to scream and scream, annoying the purple field behind them.

“Excuse me. Are you Javelin F?”

They stopped screaming.

“Who wants to know?” asked Gina.

“I’m a purple field from the land of suns. I need your help. I’ve been terrorized by a toxic water monster for the past ten years. See, I summoned you girls here.”

“Girls?” groused Ida. “Women.”

“How can we help?” asked Lisa.

“See, there’s the rub. I– Oh, GOD!”

A scaly monster dripping with toxic sweat rushed out of the bushes.

“Take this!!” yelled the monster, plucking the field harshly.

“What do we dooooo?” wailed Katya. “You think the field is made of hallucinogenic plants?”

“Only one way to find out,” grinned Lisa.

“Toking up won’t help,” said Ida.

“Then vhat vill?”

Katya pummeled her keyboard in frustration. Gina kicked her drums in the same respect. The monster kneeled and clutched its ears.

“That’s it!” realized Ida. “Or music sucks so bad that it frightens the monster!”

“Hooray for us,” the other four said in monotone.

The members of Javelin F pulled out their instruments and started to play like garbage. The monster flopped over to the ground and begged for mercy.

“Please, ladies… I am not able to withstand your terrible music. I beg for mercy.”

“Well…” Ida twirled her hair. “Hey. Are you female?”

“I happen to be, yes.”

“Can you play bass guitar?”

“Do you have one?”

Ida tossed her a bass guitar.

“Name’s Lxcu. I’m just trying to get some medicinal herbs for my father.”

“Is that all?” Javelin F glared at the field.

“You could have asked,” said the field. “Take some of me, please. Then never return.”

Lxcu pulled at the strings and made it sing. The band had its bassist.

After they healed Lxcu’s father, the field sent the six women to Earth.

Problem was, they sucked really badly. They failed a second audition for the Battle of the Bands because even though each woman was skilled in her instrument, together, they were discordant.

The sextet gave up playing music professionally and became gardeners instead, eventually becoming CEOs of their own vegetable company. Lisa sold certain plants on the side, while Katya sold the pine cones she found.

But even after all of their misadventures, they still played music together in a private room underground, where only they could enjoy the terrible musical styling of Javelin F.

The Woman Who Wouldn’t Laugh At Death

The Woman Who Wouldn't Laugh At Death

“Debbie, you have to see this episode of Family Guy. It’s a murder-mystery!”

Debbie frowned at her father, which was par for the course with everyone. “I hate Family Guy. They treat death like a joke.”

Her father was living with her since his heart attack and the death of her mother. All he watched were crass comedies where people died a lot.

“Then I suppose you don’t want to watch A Million Ways To Die In The West,” he asked.

She slammed her door and locked it.

“Why do dumb boys like Daddy insist that death-humor is funny?” She screamed at the top of her lungs. “IT’S NOT FUNNY! IT’S NEVER BEEN FUNNY!”

A swirling black cloud manifested in her shoe closet. Red light poured from the walls.

“Hello, I’m Death. I want you to come with me.”

Debbie shook her head wildly, her hair flying every which way.

“Never! I’m never going to go with you!” she shrieked.

“Jesus Christ, dial it back a little, you snip.”

He touched her floor and they transported to a palace with checkerboard flooring.

“Nice floor, right? Jesus is my carpenter. Handy guy, even with the holes in his hands.”

She had to admit, it was gorgeous.

“It’s okay, I guess.

“You love it, Deborah. I need your help.”

“Me? Why would I help you?”

“I’m Death. I can kill you early.”

She thought for a minute. “Let’s strike a deal.”

Death grinned. “Ooh, ambitious! What is it?”

She took a deep breath. “I want to know how I die.”

Death laughed. “That’s all? Sure! I thought you’d ask me to make a meeting between you and your mother!”

Crap. She should have held out for more.

“I want to make you laugh, Debbie.”

Debbie clutched her belly.

“NO tickling! I’m super ticklish and I will break your jaw!”

“No, no. This is laughter of the verbal variety. We’re roasting God and I want to top Satan’s jokes.”

So God was real. Debbie was still not going to be religious.

“Okay, I’ll do it.”

“Wonderful! Take a seat!”

A seat manifested out of thin air. Debbie slowly lowered herself onto it.

Death pulled up a microphone. He opened his mouth and…

“So I was talking to God and Germany fell out of his mouth!”

No response.

“Hey,” asked Debbie. “Why me?”

“Um… you’re kind of a stick-in-the-ass about death humor. If I can make you laugh, I can definitely make God laugh.”

“I thought God laughs at man’s plans.”

“He laughs at a lot of situations. But I think if you found one of my jokes funny, He would too.”

“Okay. Try me.”

Death breathed a sigh of relief. “Okay… God loves the religious. But he really loves cotton candy!”

No response.

“Dog is God backwards. But Cat is Tac backwards!”

Debbie bit her lip in anger.

“Two terrorists walk into a bar…”

“STOP!”

Death sat on the floor. “Forget it. I can’t make you laugh.”

Debbie stood up. “You still have to tell me what my death is.”

“Right. So you die in the forest from heat stroke.”

The corners of Debbie’s mouth turned up. She giggled. She laughed heartily.

“I, I hate the forest! I’d never set foot in one! Ha ha ha ha ha!”

Death beamed. “Did it! God’s gonna love the Cat-Tac bit!”

Debbie woke up in her room, a little more light-hearted.

“Dad, wanna watch The Truman Show?”

Two years later, Debbie was running from the police on the grounds of illegal drug use. She spotted the forest nearby. She hid there, but the police spotted her footprints. This was not where she died.

Four years later, sober for three years, Debbie walked into the same forest where she had hid from the police. She still disliked forests, but she hoped to find a locket that she dropped that her mother left her years prior. She found it in thirteen hours, where she promptly collapsed. She was revived by a park ranger. This was also not where she died.

Nine years later, Debbie woke up in the forest, stiff and sweating like crazy. She couldn’t lift herself from the earth, nor could she figure out how she got there. After all, she stayed away from forests.

Death loomed overhead. “I told you this is how you’d die, and I made it so. Sorry. On the bright side, God cracked up at my jokes. Made Satan look the fool.”

Debbie frowned. “Not… funny.”

Death guffawed. “Oh, and there’s no Heaven.”

Her eyes bulged.

“Just kidding! You’ll see your parents soon.”

Debbie’s voice faded. “Not… funny… at… all…”

Flight At The Stool Store

Flight At The Stool Store

The commercial began.

Reggie: “At Stool Pigeon’s, we’ve got the right stool for all your stool needs.” He pulls out a chart. “Here are some modern stools that we stock.”

Roundup-10-Modern-Stools

Reggie: “My favorite is number eight. Now here are some classic stools that–”

Nick: “Hey, forget that boring stuff!”

Reggie: “It’s not boring. It’s our work.”

Nick: “Our prices are so low, it’ll make you wanna SOAR!”

Reggie: “Oh no.”

Nick begins to levitate. He takes flight. He soars above the stools.

Nick: “I and my three coworkers got shocked by a radioactive toaster, so now we can FLYYYYYY!”

Reggie: “Two coworkers. I don’t fly.”

James: “Oh, come on! Just fly like us!”

Reggie: “This won’t sell stools. Get back to the commercial.”

Mariko: “Hey, viewers! Come down to Stool Pigeon’s, and try to convince Reggie to fly! While you’re at it, buy a stool!”

Nick: “Very nice.”

James: “Professional!”

James, Nick and Mariko soar in the air, knocking into some stools on the second floor.

Reggie: “This won’t sell stools. It won’t. You’re ridiculous.”

Mariko: “Reggie is a very serious sort.”

James: “He thinks the air is for stool storage space.”

Mariko: “He smokes.”

Nick: “He’s embarrassed to fly.”

Reggie: “I am. I think flight is for birds, bats and bugs.”

Nick: “Buy our stools at Stool Pigeon today!”

The commercial spot ended.

Mariko: “You were right, Reggie. That was awful.”

James: “It sucked.”

Nick: “It was a real piece of crap!”

Reggie: “That’s why I’m the boss. Now let’s get a professional to make a new one.”

The next day, a commercial producer came.

Producer: “So I saw your self-made commercial.”

Reggie: “Yes, and we’d like an improvement.”

Producer: “Here’s my idea: Keep the flight.”

Reggie: “Excuse me?”

Producer: “Make it a gag. I see it like this: Your employees flit down, levitating above the ground. They ask, ‘We can’t get grounded? How do we stop floating?’ Then you flit down and sit on a stool. Each employee sits on a stool.”

James: “Genius!”

Mariko: “Magnificent!”

Nick: “Do it, boss!”

Reggie: “I don’t want…” He pauses. “Well… if it gets my employees to stop flying for a minute. I’ll fly too. But only downwards!”

Everyone cheers.

The new commercial plays. Everyone applauds the changes.

Reggie: “I wonder if we’ll get business like this.”

Mariko: “We’ll see soon.”

Later that week, Stool Pigeon is packed.

Customer A: “Hey, how did you do that flying special effect?”

Customer B: “Yeah, that was real clever! That convinced me to buy a stool here, and I already own six!”

James: “Uh… trade secret of video editing.”

Nick: “Yeah, same guys who did the Fatboy Slim video.”

Mariko: “I am also saying it’s Fatboy Slim video editing.”

Reggie: “Back to work, people.”

At that moment, Reggie hears a shuffling on the second floor. A big wooden modern stool is falling.

Reggie: “Watch out!”

He flies up, catches the stool, and puts it in its proper place.

Everyone has their cell phones out, recording, filming. Reggie stands firmly.

Reggie: “Fine, the flight was real. Does it really make you want to buy a stool?”

Mariko, James, Nick: “Boss?”

Reggie: “I don’t need fancy special effects or real flight. If you need a stool, buy one. If you’re just here for the commercial, don’t. I’m not here for your entertainment. You don’t really want to mess with me tonight.”

Mariko: “Pink fan?”

James: “Closeted.”

Nick: “HA!”

Reggie: “So buy something or leave.”

No one left. Everyone was hoping another stool would fall.

Reggie would have his hands full from the commercial for another two years until they replaced it with a tamer, flight-free commercial.