Adventure Twenty-Five: Apparition

Road House (1989) 

By John Tellegen

It was the shrimp; the goddamned shrimp.  My flight to Denver had been delayed an hour so I decided to grab a bite at the airport Panda Express across from the gate.  I knew when I looked at those little sea-buggers they had diarrhea written all over them but I figured if I doused them in soy sauce and washed them back with a Dr. Pepper I would be fine.  The needle pain shooting through my ass reminded me I was wrong.

Now, at 30,000 feet, I was cringing and grasping the VacuToilet like a woman birthing twins without the courtesy of an epidural.  And it was a bumpy flight!  I never liked flying, wouldn’t say I was afraid of it, but the idea of screaming through the skies in a Lysol can pretending that the only thing to worry about was the crying baby two rows back never sat well.  Didn’t these people realize we were a lazy air traffic controller away from certain death?

There was one blessing to air travel: the engine roar created just enough white noise to drown out my pained cries to the gods.  With every excruciating contraction an explosion from my undercarriage left my teeth grinding and sweat beading on my forehead.

And then, things took a turn for the worse…

“This is your Captain speaking,” the PA echoed, “we are experiencing some technical issues in the cockpit and request that you all return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts.”

Oh fuck.  How could I go back to my seat?  I wasn’t even close to the finish line.  I hadn’t been able to unroll my toes for ten minutes.  And why was the Captain’s cadence so cavalier?  Obviously technical issues in the cockpit should warrant a bit more trepidation in his voice but instead he sounded like a McDonalds drive-thru attendant reading back my order.

And then the turbulence hit.  And it hit hard.  The first big bump actually lifted me off the seat and smashed my head into the ceiling.  I could hear passengers in the cabin gasping and a few people actually screamed.  I was dumped back on the throne like a pooping Raggedy Andy only now I was half-covered in blue sanitizer with a splash of Sweet and Sour Shrimp.  I tried to steady myself by pushing against the walls with my arms but my stomach was flipping and flopping, telling me that we were losing altitude fast.  I was scared.

Suddenly, there were three quick bangs on the door.  “You have to return to your seat!” the flight attendant demanded.  “Didn’t you hear the announcement?”

“Yes,” I shrieked, “but I can’t!”

“It’s not a request!” she barked.

“I just…can’t!”

“If you don’t get back to your seat—“

At that moment, the plane pitched to the right so dramatically that the wings almost went perpendicular to the ground.  I heard a loud thump, like the sound of a bossy flight attendant slamming against the exit door.  She didn’t say much after that.

“Bet you never thought it would end like this?”  Patrick Swayze said, perched on the sink in front of me with his boot flush against the wall.  “But at least it’s a rush!”

“What the fuck?” I muttered terrified, covered in poop and starting to cry.  “You would think that in times of extreme fear my stupid PSD would KEEP ITS FUCKING MOUTH SHUT!”

“Whoa, don’t blame me bro.  I ain’t flying the plane.  This actually reminds me a little of Point Break only we had parachutes—“

“Spare me your filmography, Swayze!  I’m not ready to die!”

Three more bangs on the door were followed by a male flight attendant barking orders at me, “Listen, now is not the time to be joining the mile high club!  You and whoever you’re talking too need to get back to your seats!”

Swayze smiled that little smile that made him millions.  “If he only knew.”

The fear was overtaking me.  I felt that at any moment we were going to hit the ground in a fiery crash.  “I’m not ready to die!”  I pleaded again.

“You think I was ready?  You think any of those passengers are?  What makes you so special Kyle?”

I didn’t know the answer but I wasn’t about to lose an argument to a figment of my sick imagination.  “I’m just starting to figure out who I am.  Now that Shelby left I can finally focus solely on me.  Her leaving is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“You are so full of shit.  You miss her everyday and if she asked you to come back you’d go running like a puppy.”

“Wait a minute, you’re my fuckin’ ghost,” I sniped, “whose side are you on?”

“I just want you to start being honest with yourself,” Swayze said as the plane bumped and tossed.

“Now???  Right before I die!”

“Now is as good a time as any.”

“What do you want me to say,” I pleaded, “that I’m a screw-up?  A loser?  That the girl I thought I loved left me holding my dick!”

“What’s in Denver?” Swayze asked.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Sure it does.  It’s the last decision you’ll ever make, I mean besides the shrimp.  By the way, both are ending pretty badly,”  Swayze said, pleased with himself.

“If you must know, I’m meeting a girl I met online.  Well, was meeting a girl I met online.  Her screen name is Platinum Angel.

“Oh, Kyle.  I would think that working in an electronics store you would be more savvy.  Most of those ‘girls’ are really dudes.  You’re actually lucky, this plane crash just saved you from an embarrassing face to face with Harry Rogers the Internet troll.”

“You’re probably right.  I suck.”

Swayze cocked his head, “Are you done feeling sorry for yourself?”

“Yes.  No.  I don’t know.”

“What you need is a hero moment.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“It’s a moment in a movie, or in this case your life, when you stand up and face the adversity that’s trying to kill you.”

“This plane is trying to kill me.  How do I face that?”

“I’m a certified pilot,” Swayze remarked,  “I could talk you through the landing.”

I took a moment to consider the possibility.  Did I have a hero living inside me that needed to be unleashed?  Could I really save the day?

“Or you can be a little bitch-boy the rest of your life,” Swayze said, with a disappointed scowl.

My eyes sharpened and my fists clenched, “Fine.  I’ll do it!  I’ll save the fucking day!”

I burst out of the lavatory with a bump on my head and my pants soaked in poop and I declared, “Everybody stay calm!  I got this under control!  Me and Patrick Swayze are going to land this sucker even if it kills us all!”

The passengers around me covered their noses from my smell as the five-year-old little boy sitting next to me wiped a booger on my shirt.

Then the Captain got on the PA again, “This is your Captain speaking.  We have fixed the problem and anticipate smooth skies all the way to Denver so I’m turning off the fasten seatbelt sign.  Feel free to move about the cabin.”

Before I could blink I was struck from behind and tackled by three heroic goons.  One of them grabbed my balls like it was a sack of marbles.  The rest of the flight didn’t look to be as smooth for me.

As I was led off the plane in handcuffs by the TSA, I passed a gorgeous girl with legs that resembled French Vanilla ice cream.  She was holding a sign that read, I am Platinum Angel.

As I passed, she wrinkled her nose from my offensive odor.  I didn’t say a word.

I figured I would let my heroism speak for itself.

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Adventure Twenty-four: A Touch of Evel

296large_yellow_butterflyby Bill Braunstein

I’m getting a tattoo.

Yes, I’m going to have an artist insert needles containing inks of multiple colors deep into my skin to create a design I’ll carry with me until the day I die.

And to think, my ex, Shelby, used say I was scared of commitment.

I’m not.  What I am is infatuated…with the new checkout girl at the electronics store who, coincidently, has a tattoo of a butterfly on her left shoulder.

I should probably explain…

Anastasia has been working cash register number eight for about two weeks now.  And she’s a vision.  Long blonde hair.  Body so hot it could set off our fire sprinklers.  A smile that lights up the room–and since the electronics store is about 26,000 square feet, that’s a lot of wattage.

electronics-merchandising-computer-displays

Working in customer service, I rarely visit the main floor.  But luckily, I get to see Anastasia in the employee lounge.  She eats lunch there every day at 1 p.m.  Now that I’m wise to her habits, I know just when to stop by.

And Anastasia was there yesterday, Friday, with a couple of co-workers, Chad and Manju, when I decided to chat her up.

For some reason, the conversation turned to tattoos.  Chad, the stoner dude who works in the stock room, has a sleeve tattoo featuring his favorite cartoon characters.

Starting at his wrist, and moving up his shoulder is Sponge Bob, the Simpsons and members of the Smurf family.  When he’s stoned, I’ve seen Chad amuse himself for hours, flexing his arm so it appears Smurfette is doing something unmentionable to Homer.

Manju, one of the store’s tech guys, doesn’t sport any tattoos.  “Why,” he asked, “would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?”

Now don’t get me wrong.  I like Manju, but he’s a few bytes short of a total reformat.

Naturally the conversation turned to Anastasia and her tattoo.  She said her butterfly represented freedom and individuality since no two are alike…like a fingerprint.

“What about you, Kyle?” Anastasia asked.  “Have you got tattoos anywhere on your–”  Before she could finish, Chad and Manju started laughing.

“Kyle?  A tattoo?” said Manju.  “He’s the most button-down, conservative guy I know.  The only thing you’ll ever find on his skin is soap.”

Anastasia placed her hand on my arm and asked, “Is that true, Kyle?”

“Well…  I’m not opposed to tattoos…or soap.”

“Guys with tattoos are hot,” Anastasia said.  “Look at people like Tommy Lee, Travis Barker or David Beckham…   Tatted men are rebellious, independent free thinkers…and just more fun.”

“That’s me,” I said. “The real Kyle has a wild, untamed side.”

Maybe it was my imagination, but as I talked I could swear Anastasia was getting turned on.  The look on her face told me what I had to do.

“It’s settled then,” I said in my most defiant, authoritative voice.  “Everyone…  Employee lounge. 1 p.m.  Monday.  Be here.  You’re going to see a Kyle Benson you never knew existed.   I’m getting inked.”

And that’s why, right now, I’m standing on Melrose Avenue in front of a place called Skin Deep Tattoos.

tattoo-parlor-replace

It’s a bit of a dive.  And, to be honest, I’m having second thoughts–which is why I’m pacing outside the shop, trying to get myself pumped up.

“I’m bad.  I’m tough,” I say looking at a reflection of myself in the store’s window.  “I’m a rebel.  I can do this…  I am a badass, I’m evil–”

“Son,” came a voice from nearby, “you’re not Evel.  I am.”

I turned around, and standing in front of me was a tall man with wavy brown hair.  He wore a white leather jumpsuit decorated with red and blue rows of stars shaped like a V on his chest.

It was Evel Knievel, the iconic motorcycle daredevil.

evel_knievel240

My Paranoiac Schizophrenic Disorder always seems to conjure up someone when I need them most.  And now, as I felt the need for a dose of courage, standing before me was a man who knew no fear.

“Listen, boy,” said Evel, “what are you doing in the middle of the street, walking around like a warthog in heat?”

“I promised my workmates I’d get a tattoo,” I explained, “but I have a wildly irrational fear of needles.”

Evel looked at me like I was speaking another language.

“Fear!” he chortled.  “I earned my living facing fear.  Do you know what it’s like to look death in the eye?”

Well, yeah…  By now, PSD had brought me face to face with countless dead people.  But saying so was just going to piss off Evel, so I kept quiet.

Besides, Evel was on a roll. “During my career,” he bellowed, “I constantly outwitted the Grim Reaper!  Was I scared when I jumped the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas?”

“No?”

“Hell, no!!” Evel exclaimed.

“Not that it matters now,” I said, “but back then that jump nearly killed you.”

ceasers600

“Look, I’ve had more broken bones than any man on earth—37 in all.  I’ve spent more time in hospitals than most doctors.  And I’ve been stitched together so often I’m more quilt than human.”

Obviously, Evel knew something about facing fear.  I had to ask: “So, how do I get past my nerves?”

“Embrace your fear.  Make it your friend.  A little needle isn’t going to hurt you.  Besides, once you give your word, there’s no turning back.  I never backed out of a jump I promised to make.”

Evel_Knievel_1r

Evel was right.  I couldn’t back out.  If I didn’t show up at work sporting ink, I’d never live it down.  And I’d never have a shot with Anastasia.

Taking a deep breath, I entered the shop, sat in a chair, and told the proprietor–a guy named “Wren” Brandt–I wanted a tattoo.  Something that symbolized courage.  As Evel Knievel looked on, I settled on the image of a lion.

imagesCA0F4YV9

“Good choice,” said Evel, giving me a thumb’s up.  “You’ll be fine.”  Then he walked out.

Through the window, I saw Evel pop a wheelie on his Harley, waving at me as he drove off.

I was feeling pretty good, until I asked Wren if this was going to hurt.

“Of course,” he said.  “We’re talking needles piercing human flesh.”

Wren dabbed a cotton ball with alcohol and cleaned my arm.  “Let’s get started.”

He reached for his tattoo machine, pushed a button and a dull, whirring noise filled the air.  Wren brought the needle to my arm and it pricked my skin.

Suddenly, I felt light-headed…

“Hey, dude,” said Wren, “you okay?  You’re looking kinda flush…”

Oh, crap…  Feeling dizzy.  Room spinning.

“Dude!  Dude!  Wake up…”

*               *               *

It’s Monday afternoon, and I’m about to face the music in the employee lounge.  I walk in at exactly 12:59, and, sure enough, everyone is waiting–Chad, Manju, and, of course, Anastasia.

The trio can’t wait to see my tattoo, and I’m not one to disappoint.  As they gather around, I slowly roll up my sleeve.

Dress-Shirt-Sleeve-Rolling19-1024x669

“Voila!” I say, displaying my arm.

“I don’t see anything,” said Manju.  Chad leaned in, eyeballing my flesh as well.  “Where is it?”

“Right here,” I said, pointing…

“Looks like a freckle,” said Anastasia.

“That’s no freckle,” I said.  “It’s very rare design called…a Danger Dot.”

Everyone laughed.  I was feeling a little humiliated by the whole affair…until I noticed Anastasia’s butterfly tattoo.

Last week it was on her left shoulder, but today it was on the right.  Surprised, I asked what the story was.

“Oh, Kyle, I didn’t want to tell you, but it’s a temporary tattoo.  They’re indistinguishable from real ones.”

I was shocked.

“Why?”

“I’m scared of needles,” Anastasia laughed. “Always have been.”

Right then, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit.  Over lunch, Anastasia and I were going to have a lot to talk about.

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ADVENTURE TWENTY-THREE KYLE TO THE RESCUE

by Lawrence H. Levy

“Come on, DeShawn, get your Whitney something’. A little sugar, huh, DeShawn baby?”

“I’m sorry, Whitney, but you need to get straight. And my name’s Kyle.”

“Kyle!” she exclaimed as she stumbled around the room. “What kinda lilywhite mama’s boy name is that?” Then she took a header onto the kitchen floor, conveniently falling by the garbage can in which she quickly buried her head and wretched to her heart’s content.

Drugged out Whitney Houston

My PSD had conjured up Whitney Houston. I always had a crush on her. I was enchanted by her beauty, her magnificent voice, and yes, her troubled life. Deep down I felt that if I had been with her, I could’ve saved her. Now was my chance.

I watched lovingly as her head bobbed up and down while she puked her guts out. God, Whitney was glorious. She puked on key and in perfect rhythm, too.

We had been in my apartment for a full 36 hours and even though she was a ways from kicking the habit, I figured a change of scenery might do us both good. “Iron Man 3” was playing nearby, and I thought that might just be the tonic we both needed.

Crowded movie lobby

Whitney was still unsteady and stumbling as we entered the theater lobby. The place was mobbed.

“Yo,” she screamed out. “Any of you got any crack for sweet ol’ Whitney?”

No one answered. Hell, no one could hear or see her. She was all mine.

“Hey, I said I want crack!” And she spelled it out. “C-R-A-C-K. Crack, motherfuckers!”

“Whitney, honey,” I said. “Calm down. We’re going into the movie. It’ll make you chill.”

“You know what’ll make me chill, Kyle? CRACK!”

There was no winning this argument. I quickly bought two tickets, and the ticket guy handed them to me with two pair of 3D glasses.

“See, Whitney? 3D — it’ll be fun. You’ll see.”

The ticket guy had enough problems dealing with me talking to air, but when I put the glasses on Whitney and they fell through empty air to the floor, he nearly freaked.

“I’ll get ’em. Go, just go,” he said as he went to pick up the glasses. “This movie brings out all the fuckin’ crazies,” he muttered loud enough for us to hear.

Whitney and I found good seats, and she seemed to settle down. Not for long though. She got restless when Robert Downey Jr. appeared on screen.

Iron Man III

“Hey, that’s the dude who woke up in someone else’s house,” she pointed to Downey Jr. “Get me to him. For sure he can hook me up.”

“He’s clean now, Whitney, just like you’re gonna be.”

Then she got an idea. “Hey, people are always droppin’ tons of stuff on movie floors. Maybe I’ll find myself some sugar.”

She threw herself onto the floor and started crawling through the row.

“Whitney, honey, Whitney, come back to your seat,” I said as I went after her. I made each person in the row shift to accommodate me, sometimes knocking into or tripping over people. Pretty soon the theater got hostile.

“Hey, down in front, you’re fuckin’ up the picture, freak” were a couple of the choice comments. One guy pushed me, and I tumbled into the aisle, flat on my back.

Whitney started laughing, “You’re funny, Kyle.”

“I’m glad you appreciate me. Let’s get out of here.”

Whitney seemed to be in a better mood. I never helped someone get sober before, but maybe she had passed over the hump. Anyhow, I was hungry, and Whitney loved Osteria Mozza over on Melrose, so I figured that was a good place to go.

Int Mozza 1 Int mozza menu

“I’ll have the Tortellini in Brodo and the lady will have the Ricotta and Egg Raviolo,” I told the waiter.

“Would you like to make a wine choice now, or do you want to wait until the lady comes back from the restroom?”

“No need for that,” I said then turned toward Whitney. “Do you want some wine, dear?”

“Only if it comes with a side of candy.”

I turned to the waiter. “She doesn’t want any.”

He smiled, “You’re messin’ with me, right?” I stared at him perfectly straight faced. His smile disappeared, and he walked off a bit freaked, mumbling something about hoping to get an acting gig soon so he could quit this waiting crap.

Whitney and I looked at each other and laughed. Her face lit up. Moments like these made me feel emotions for Whitney that I didn’t think were possible for me any more… at least since what’s her name broke my heart. Yeah, thanks to Whitney, at times I literally forgot Shelby’s name.

An attractive African American woman sat down at the table next to us and immediately started chatting away with the empty chair across from her. I couldn’t help being drawn to her odd behavior. I turned to Whitney

“I guess you meet all kinds of nuts in this world,” I said.

Tupac

“Yo, Kyle, that’s Tupac over there.”

“Where?”

She motioned toward the empty seat across from the African American woman. “I’m sure he’s carrying. See if he has somethin’ for Whitney.”

“Whitney, you’re almost through detoxing. I can’t in good conscience….”

“Yo, Tupac,” she called out as she turned toward the other empty chair. “You got some candy?” She soon spoke as if he had responded to her. “Yeah, fool, it’s me, Whitney. You carrying? I know you are.”

She was listening to Tupac’s reply, and I knew I had to do something. Before I could, the African American woman turned to me.

“Hey, excuse me, you. What’s your name?”

“Kyle.”

“Hi, I’m Hilary.”

A chill shot through me. My interactions with women named Hilary never turned out well, not the least of which was getting my ass kicked by one in high school. She had wanted to fight, and I didn’t. Fighting a girl is a losing proposition. If you fight back, you’re an asshole and if you don’t, she stomps all over you and you’re a pussy. I chose the latter and heard the word “pussy” ring out through the halls for months to come.

“Hi, Hilary, I guess we have something in common (I had put 2 and 2 together and was referring to PSD). Could you please tell your friend Tupac to leave my lady Whitney alone? She’s trying to get clean.”

“If you call Whitney off so Tupac and I can dine in peace.” Suddenly, she turned toward Tupac. “Don’t you dare rap for her!  You promised you’d only rap for me from now on.”

I turned to Whitney, and she was clapping away and rapping along with Tupac.  Of course, I could only hear her and not Tupac but I do have an imagination.

Hilary stood, pissed as hell. “You better tell your slut to stop messin’ with my man or there are goin’ to be some real problems, real soon!”

I also stood. “There’s no need for name calling. I’m sure we can work this out.”

But we couldn’t. Both our tempers rose and the name calling escalated. Pretty soon everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. A few waiters and the manager rushed over to put out the fire. When everything had calmed down, I looked and saw that Whitney had disappeared. From the panic on Hilary’s face, I could tell Tupac had left with her.

We instantly became a team and searched all over Mozza, screaming out their names, hoping to find the place they went to get high.  After we ran into the kitchen, we soon found ourselves being escorted outside by a chef wielding a meat cleaver and six of the waiters, including my own.

Outside Mozz

“No need for a tip,” my waiter said. “Just don’t come back… ever.”

I really couldn’t blame him. Hilary and I looked around. No Whitney or Tupac. I started to get the feeling that this was a good thing. If I want to save someone, maybe I should save a real person. Maybe it was time to get back to reality.

“I know how you feel, Hilary,” I started to say seeing how devastated she was, but that was as far as I got.

“You know how I feel, Kyle? This is how I feel.” And she gave me the hardest shot to the balls I ever experienced. I fell to the cement, groaning, once again undone by a Hilary.

Man, reality sucks.

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Adventure 22: And now I’m in jail with that huge dude from The Green Mile

By John Tellegen

Michael Clarke Duncan

It was chilly.  But unless you’re on the surface of the sun or you live in Palm Springs, it always feels chilly running naked through the streets at three in the morning – well, I was wearing socks but it was still nippy.

About five hours earlier I was drinking heavily at a bar on the boulevard.  I’d been drinking a lot lately.  The place was Irish and held turtle races on Thursdays.  The turtles all had R-rated names like, Clitortoise and my favorite, “My girl can’t wrestle but you oughta see her box…turtle.”  It was a long name, but it was also a long night.

I was on my fifth beer and who knows how many shots when a woman fell into the bar next to me.  She was tanked, moderately attractive, and well-known to the established drinkers at the hole.  Her name was Chicklette, or I heard it wrong, but who cares…it didn’t matter anyway.  She wanted some attention and I was just the lush to give her some.

We traded irrelevant stories and lies about our pasts and we drank and smoked a lot of cigarettes.  Her shirt was showing some cleavage but she had a mole in between her breasts that had a little hair growing out of it.  Every time I saw the little growth my stomach turned.  Her lipstick was a pale pink and reminded me of a grandmother and her blondish hair was overproduced and frizzy.  We were sure to be having sex before Craig Ferguson signed off for the night.

As Bill the bartender proclaimed “last call,” Chicklette and I stumbled out the door and I started trying to hail a cab.  It wouldn’t be easy at 2 a.m. but Chicklette offered her place that was only a few blocks away for a nightcap, a Jacuzzi, and some much needed lovin’ that I would certainly wish to forget for the rest of my days.  But at that moment, I happily agreed!

When we arrived at her apartment nothing seemed amiss.  She had the standard IKEA furniture, the crappy sound system, the cigarette-burned carpet, and the insane 70-inch, high definition super-plasma television.

“Get naked,” she said as she trolloped her way into the kitchenette.  “We’re gettin’ wet.”

I happily obliged and tore off my clothes, standing in only my socks in her living room.  That’s when I saw something that changed my mood like a magical buzz-kill.  I noticed two Hot Wheel cars on the floor next to the TV.  As I processed the sighting, suddenly a man emerged from the backroom holding a toddler in his arms.

“What the fuck, Chicklette!?”  he exploded.

“Shut the fuck up and get back to your room,” she shot back.

At that moment, thoughts starting to rush through my mind:

What the fuck am I doing here?” was the first one.  “Who the fuck is that guy?” was the second.  Then she socked him in the mouth and he kicked her in the stomach sending the third thought careening into my brain, “Get the fuck outta here!”

So there I was, running through the streets naked when low and behold, the police pulled up along side me.

I stopped running.

As I tried to frantically explain to the officer that I was just trying to bang Chicklette when things went sideways and I had to bolt, the officer got a strange look in his eye that made me think at some point in his life he tried to bang Chicklette too.  I was going to ask him how he got past the mole when I decided to shut up.  I did have the right to remain silent after all.

I had never been to jail but had seen enough movies to know how it was going to go.  Or so I thought.  Since I was nude, they placed me in a suicide gown which is basically the most uncomfortable piece of clothing one can don – an unrippable, unwearable piece of car upholstery.

They pushed me into the cell and clanged the door closed.  I think they clang it for effect because it seemed totally unnecessary to me.  I looked up and was facing the biggest man I had ever seen.  A mountain of flesh.  The kind of man who could pop me like an adolescent pimple on his ass.  And he looked familiar.

“Are the guy from that Tom Hanks movie?” I stuttered.

“The Green Mile,” he said, his voice deeper than the Pacific.

“…I’m Kyle,” is all I knew to say, positive he was going to eat me for a late night snack.

“Are you suicidal?”

“No.”

“Why the gown?”

“They brought me in naked.”

“Are you a perv?”

“No.  Well, define perv.”

“Are you a sex offender?”

“No.  But I’ve been told that my sex is offensive.”

The man chuckled and smiled and I knew I was saved.

“I’m Michael Clarke Duncan.”

“Yes!  You were in ‘Armageddon’ too, with Affleck.”

“Yeah, but right now I wanna know what you’re doing on this green mile.  You don’t seem the jail type,” Michael said.

“I not.  I had this girlfriend and she dumped me after I asked her to marry me.  I guess I’ve been drinking a bit too much ever since.  But who cares about me, when is your next movie coming out?”

Michael flicked his eyebrows and lowered his chin, “I’m done making movies.”

“Why???”

“Kyle, I’m dead!”

“Oh my god.  I didn’t know,” I said.

“It was all over TMZ.”

“I must have missed that news cycle.”

“Well, anyway.  If this girl has you drinking so much that you land in jail, she wasn’t right for you anyway.”

“Wait a minute, now I remember, didn’t you hook up with Omarosa, that crazy reality show bitch?”

“You, watch it,” Michael took a moment to reminisce, “and she was just as crazy in bed!”

“Fair enough.”

“And I loved her,”  Michael stated.

Just then, a horn sounded and my name was shouted over the PA system.  Apparently someone had paid my bail.

“Hey,” Michael said as he grabbed my gown, “it’s too late for me but you can still live.  Stop chasing every skanky girl that will let you feel her boobs and find yourself someone who really cares about you.”

I nodded, but I must admit that the draft coming up through the gown and blowing against my balls made it hard to concentrate.

“You’re probably right.  I mean, look at where it’s gotten me.”

“Find out who you really are and be that,” Michael said with hope in his eyes.

His words made sense.  I didn’t want to be the old me but I certainly didn’t know who the new me was either.  I had some work to do.

“Hey!” Chicklette called out from down the corridor.  “I bailed you out!  You still wanna Jacuzzi?”

Her eye was black.  My soul was in crisis.  I sat back down next to Michael.

“Looks like I’ll be here awhile longer.  Is Bruce Willis as cool as he looks?”

Michael Clarke Duncan slowly smiled and nodded.

“Cooler than the other side of the pillow.”

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Adventure Twenty-one: Some Delight

By David Garber

Since my breakup with Shelby, my social life had been a bit slow.  Okay, not exactly slow, dormant.  I was at the point where I got excited just slipping into my skinny jeans.

int. night club

 Now ordinarily it’s not the best strategy to cruise a pick-up hangout by standing next to the coolest looking dude in the place.  At best you’d figure to get lost in his shade.  But the new me had a plan. I staked out a spot next to a guy who was so Rico Suave he made Jason Statham look like a sissy.  But I thought, if I could just nab one of his cast-offs…

Even Stevie Wonder could see this freakazoid of superior looks was a babe magnet for high 9’s and perfect 10’s.  Me, I’d settle for an okay 4…or even a 2 with a strong pulse and all her own teeth.

 Across the room, a vision approached me and the hunkanator.  Then reality hit. Soon Mr. Amazing would score with this chick and I’d be left alone, performing dental checks on all those 2’s.

Miss Thang sauntered right up to us.  She stared into Mr. Everything’s studly dark eyes and said, “Excuse me.  I’m…”

The dude finished her sentence, “…Hurricane Lacy.  I know, because you’re blowing me away.”

Okay, so he wasn’t the wittiest guy in the world, but hell, he didn’t have to be. 

“Kyle?” she asked, looking past the gonad gangsta and straight at me.

“Yeah, I’m Kyle,” I answered, quite stunned. “Do we know each other?”

“No, but we can change that.”

I figured someone must have slipped some “X” into my drink because this couldn’t really be happening.  Then it occurred to me.  This had to be a reoccurrence of my Psychotic Schizophrenic Disorder. 

So I addressed it head-on. “Are you dead?”

She chuckled.  “Of course not.  If I was, could I do this?”  She reached for my jewels, massaged them ever so gently, which gave me quite a thrill.

“I’m Delight.”

“Delight?”

Seems she was used to that reaction.  “My father was a Boston longshoreman and when I was born, he told the other dockworkers, “I was the de light at de end of de tunnel. It was either gonna be Delight, De-end or Detunnel.”

I reassured her, “He picked da right one.”

She smiled seductively at me.  Either this girl was crazy or I was – and I didn’t really care which.  The focus of my thoughts was getting her home and jumping her bones.

Delight pointed to an attractive girl across the room who I vaguely recognized.  “Liz is my roommate.  She told me you tried to pick her up once and said that you see dead celebrities.”

Shit.  I had tried that once and thought it might work as a pick-up.  Desperate men do desperate things, including telling the truth. 

What I found curious was that Liz shared this tidbit with Delight, and Delight didn’t seem to care.  If anything, it was a turn on – or was that just my beer-buzz thinking?

“Is there anyone famous with you now,” Delight gushed in genuine excitement.  I looked around, knowing no apparitions were there, but I tried to play it a bit.

“No, not right now.  But maybe back at my place.  That’s where they usually hang out.” 

“Then why are we here?”

She bought it!  And before long, the two of us were stripping each other naked, at the foot of my bed.  The distance between us was exactly 6 3/4 inches, I know because – well, I just know.  I stared into her gorgeous blue eyes, then gazed down at her amazing rack, then back to her baby blues, then back to her jaw-dropping breasts.  Hey, I’m a guy.  I can’t help myself.

As I was caressing her perfectly shaped shoulder intending to work my way down, she lifted my chin so I’d be looking her eye to eye.  “Do me a favor.”

“Sure, anything.”

“Bring on Heath. I want Heath Ledger to screw me with you.”

Whoa.  What?

“If he’s not around, how about Kurt Cobain?  Or Johnny Depp.”

I was stunned, and could only stammer, “Depp isn’t dead.”

“Oh, yeah, right,” she acknowledged.  “Well, what other dead guys do you know?”

I shared with her that I couldn’t control who showed up or when.

“But they will come, right?”

“I’m sure someone will,” was all I could utter with any assurance.  That someone was going to be me and probably soon.

She ripped the top off my condom packet with her teeth, spitting the strip to the floor.  This chick was wild.  As she started to slide the protection onto its intended home, I was going crazy mad.  Then I observed her attention waning.  If there was ever need for quick thinking, this was it.

“Slap her ass, Heath,” I shouted.  ”She likes that. Tongue her ear!  You love that, baby, don’t you?!”

She suddenly turned on like a ten thousand volt charge zapped through her body.

“C’mon Heath,” she moaned.  “Do it, Baby. C’mon.  I’m wet.”

Freaky.  I hadn’t even touched her and she was writhing in ecstasy.  Delight either had PSD like me, or was just good ol’ fashioned, bat shit crazy.  But there was something missing.

“Hey, what about me?” I inquired.

“Join us.  I want you both.  C’mon.  C’mon!!!”

I joined in, lying on top of her. Soon she rolled me over and rode me like Seabiscuit.  And she was one helluva jockey.  Her amazing skills had me at the threshold of that nirvana moment.  Just as I released, she did as well, crying out, “Yes! Yes! Give it to me!  Give it to me, Heath!”

I could only hope Delight’s first “give it to me!” was directed to ME.

Mutual climax.  Evidently for all three of us.

As she rolled off, Delight excused herself and headed to the bathroom.  She looked back toward me, “Don’t go anywhere.  That was amazing.  When I get back, get someone else to join us.”

Us?  Hopefully she meant me and her being joined by someone else – not her and Heath and some unnamed third.

Delight had just closed the door behind her when I heard, “You owe me, dude.  Big-time.”

Heath Ledger

I looked across the room and there was Heath Ledger.  Damn he looked good.  “Why’d you tell her I was here when I wasn’t?”

“From the looks of things, you could have been,” I responded as it sunk in he was as naked as I was, with his manhood standing at full attention.  “Man, even your Johnson smiles like the Joker….that isn’t gay, right?”

He slyly smiled.  “You’re real. I’m not – any longer.  You should be able to bed a chick on your own.  You don’t need me as your crutch.  I’m not a wing man.  I’m a leading man.”

I shot back, “An aroused leading man.”

“Now you are starting to sound gay.  Hey, I may be dead, but I’m not… dead, dead!” Heath shrugged as he continued.  “Look, I don’t mind being used, but where’s your self-esteem, man?  Do you have so little confidence in yourself that you have to trick women into sleeping with you?”

“Uh…  yes.”  I waited a beat, then added, “I’m sorry…”  Then the truth gushed out, “No, I’m not.  You’re Heath “Fuckin’” Ledger.  You’ve got great looks, charm, and a big… personality.  All I’ve got is dead people popping in and out of my head.  Why shouldn’t I use it?”

“Do you think we’ll always be with you?”

I hadn’t really thought about it much.  “I just assumed…”

Heath then looked at me as the bathroom door opened.  “At least she’s hot.  Gotta give you that.”

As Delight slid in next to me on the bed, she looked over and commented on the tent my groin had produced with the top sheet.

“Looks like someone’s ready for round two.”

I smiled and defiantly eyed Heath while addressing Delight, “Who do you want to join us this time?”

 Ledger shook his head, then disappeared.

 With each name Delight listed, I could feel the blood draining from its throbbing location.

 “How about James Dean?  Or John Belushi? I loved him in Animal House.  Do you know Jim Morrison?  The Doors were so dope. Or Hendrix…”

It was gone.  Not just Heath, but the urge, the excitement, the desire…my erection.  As Delight’s wish-list continued, she included every name but mine.  I couldn’t take it.  I finally got her dressed and out the door.

Heath suddenly returned.  “Proud of you, Dude.  You showed some balls.”

“So did you,” I chuckled as the door flung open again.  It was Delight.  “What about Amy Winehouse?  I’d be willing to dip into the lady pond for her…”

Heath broke out in laughter, and I did too.

“At least think about it,” Delight opined.

As she left, I promised her I would.  And I did, the next night.  Oh, and you won’t believe where Amy Winehouse has a syringe-pierced, heart-shaped tattoo. Now dat’s Delight!

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Adventure Twenty: Apple of My Eye

by Bill Braunstein

cupid silho Image GraphicsFairy

They say when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  Which is great, if you like lemonade.

I’d rather be handed a blue agave plant, so I could make a shot of tequila.

Love–or lack of it–will do that to you.

It’s been a little over three months since my ex-girlfriend walked out of my life.  It wasn’t just a blow to my ego.  It was a full body slam.  She was everything I wanted in a woman…  Apparently, the reverse wasn’t true.

So, after I got the heave-ho, I did what any self-respecting all-American guy does after losing his sexual meal ticket—stocked up on lotion and purchased a full array of triple-X DVDs.  I was particularly fond of “Silver Linings Lay Book.”

Reading was also high on my list.  I downloaded to my iPad every Internet article I could find on starting over, reinventing oneself, and meeting women.  And I followed the advice religiously.

The man in my mirror looked completely different from the guy who was there weeks ago.  I had given myself an extreme makeover: Kyle edition.

A Beverly Hills stylist coiffed my hair.  I shaved off my beard.  And my clothes were now smart and fresh thanks to a Rodeo Drive shopping spree.

To the old Kyle, an Italian suit was one I spilled wine on.  No more…

Unfortunately, underneath my fancy new veneer, I was still the old Kyle Benson.  That’s why I was about to head to the gym.

The old Kyle had the physique of the Pillsbury Doughboy.  Kyle 2.0 was about to become a lean, mean, woman-seducing machine.

24Hr_Fitness_ext-1024x682

I joined a gym, figuring it would be a great place to meet women.  And I was correct.  It started right at the reception desk.  Upon entering, I couldn’t help but notice behind the counter a physical trainer who seemed to have descended from heaven’s Stairmaster.

She was a blonde babe with a body that had more curves than Mulholland Drive.  And her form-fitting Lycra outfit pushed her breasts out so far, they greeted me long before she did.  Her nametag said “Heather.”  And, let’s face it: Has there ever been an ugly girl named Heather?

Like most Heathers, she was preoccupied and barely noticed me as she announced into a microphone: “Attention, members, the gym will be closing in one hour, please plan your workout accordingly.”

As I watched her fingers clutch that mike, my brain couldn’t stop imagining Heather holding something equally hard and cylindrical.

Finally, she looked at me.  “Welcome to 24 Hour Fitness.”  I eyeballed Heather from top to her very fit bottom, and tried to think of something clever to say…  But the best I could do was, “Hey,” as I wondered why a 24 hour gym was closing at 11 p.m.

After changing into my workout gear, I headed to the main floor, and scanned the room for talent.  It was pretty slim pickings, since it was late on a Saturday night.  Just a dozen or so beefy guys convening around rows of dumbbells and a few women that looked like castoffs from the Belarus Olympic weight lifting team.

Suddenly I heard a voice behind me say, “Why don’t you head to the front desk and ask that girl out?”

I turned around, and standing behind me was a tall, thin bespectacled guy in a very un-gym-like outfit.  He was wearing a black turtleneck.  I recognized him as Steve Jobs.

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Immediately I thought, so that’s what’s being stored on the iCloud—dead computer executives.

“Kyle,” Jobs said, “I know your love life has crashed like a disc drive on a Windows computer.  In fact, I know just about everything about you.”

“How’s that?”

“The information you enter into your iPad?  Where do you think it all goes?  We’ve been keeping tabs on you in Cupertino.  So sorry to hear about your ex.”

“That’s why I’m here at the gym,” I told Steve.  “I’m looking for a new start.”

“The truth is,” Jobs said, “it’s just as easy to re-boot a life as it is a computer.  I always lived by the philosophy of ‘Think Different.’  And that’s my advice to you.”

“Well, I hope it works out better than that antenna you designed for the iPhone 4.”

j07_73388430

Jobs was not amused, but he plowed ahead.  “Look at all these jocks,” he said, motioning to the cardio cowboys in the weight room. “You’re not going to out-muscle them.  You’ve got to go with your strengths.  Think brains, not brawn.”

“Go on,” I said, intrigued.

Jobs continued.  “Muscle doesn’t win over women.  Intelligence can be just as sexy.”

“I’m not sure I’m buying that,” I said.

“Just do what I’ve done with every product I’ve ever released–a risk/benefit analysis.”

“Risk/benefit analysis?”

“Sure.  Ask yourself: is the risk of rejection worth the benefit of potentially bedding down the hottest woman you’ve ever seen?”

480px-Steve_Jobs_with_the_Apple_iPad_no_logo_(cropped)

It was hard to argue logic with the pioneer of the personal computer revolution.  I decided to head to the reception area to, as Steve Jobs might say, graphically interface with Heather.

As I approached the front desk, Steve Jobs walked in lock-step directly behind me.  I nodded in Heather’s direction, and she back me, motioning that I should wait a minute.

Once again, she brought the microphone to her lips. “Attention, 24 Hour Fitness members, the gym will be closing in 30 minutes, please plan your workout accordingly.”  Then she faced me, “Yes, what is it?”

Jobs now stood behind Heather.  With both hands outstretched, he egged me on to say something…  And I did.

“You know, a microphone is an acoustic-to-electric transducer that converts sound to an electrical signal.”

Heather looked through me as if I was made of glass.  “Huh?”

At least Jobs was impressed.  He silently encouraged me to keep going.  So I continued.  “The speed of sound depends on the medium the waves pass through.”  Heather stared at me blankly.  “Is that your way of asking for an extra towel?”

As my nervous frustration mounted, I sensed it was definitely time to go to Plan B.  And all I could think of was a lame pick-up line from my high school days.  I locked my brown eyes onto Heather’s baby blues, and gave it my best shot.

“Heather, if I said you had a sexy body, would you hold it against me?”

My heart raced as she looked intently at me.  “That’s the lamest pick-up line I’ve ever heard—and I hear them all day.”  Then, Heather laughed so hard, she actually dropped her microphone on the floor.

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Ever the gentleman, I quickly bent down to pick it up.  Just as quickly, Heather did the same.  Our timing was perfectly bad.   As we each moved forward, our heads cracked against each other.  Hard.

We both fell to floor, me awkwardly spread eagle on top of her.

“Get off me,” Heather screamed. “Get off me now!”

It was bad enough Heather was yelling at me.  Worse, was hearing her voice reverberate throughout the gym.

Heather hadn’t turned off the mike.

“What are you doing!?” her voice boomed in every direction.

24HrFitness_04

As I rose to my wobbly feet, I was now surrounded by five burly dudes who looked like they ran the gym’s steroids concession.  One asked Heather if she was okay.  The four others escorted me out of the gym.  That is, if being heaved through the facility’s double doors onto the street counted as being escorted.

Overlooking me was Steve Jobs, as I slowly arose.  “Dude,” he intoned, “I said ‘Think different,’ not ‘Think stupid.’”

I was bummed.  “You said using smarts to pick up women would work,” I whined.  “Instead, I almost got my ass kicked.”

Jobs shrugged.  “You didn’t use smarts,” he said. “You used a pathetic pick-up line.”  And with that, he walked off into the night.

It wasn’t long before I got home, alone, and found myself popping a movie into my DVD player.  After that experience at the gym, my plan was to kick back, relax, and forget about what had just happened.

The film I chose didn’t have much of a plot, and the acting was pretty horrible.  But then, my expectations in those departments were pretty low.

All I wanted was a story with a happy ending.

And that’s what I got, repeatedly–watching “This is 40-Double D.”

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ADVENTURE 19: Taking Control

By Lawrence H. Levy

It was three months since I burned down my apartment house and Shelby dumped me.  I spent my days at work and my nights getting majorly stoned on weed and “shrooms.”  I was tapering down, getting almost back to normal, when my boss called me into his office to deliver the good news.  My promotion was coming earlier than expected.

“All you need is the requisite urine test, and you’re good to go.  They’ll be here in an hour.”

“Urine test?” I asked, trying hard not to sound concerned.

“Normal procedure.  They just want to be sure they’re not welcoming a druggie to our management team.  You’re not a druggie, are you, Kyle?”  He laughed.

“Oh yeah, big time main-liner.  That’s me.”  I laughed with him but was scared shitless.

Not only was my promotion and job at stake but also any self respect I had left.  I was just beginning to crawl out of the toilet and fate was trying to flush me back down.  I went to Chad for advice.  He was the biggest stoner I knew, and he was close by.  He worked in the stock room.

Long haired stoner

“Chad, what do you do when you have to take a drug test?”

Chad jumped back, knocking over a stack of surge protectors.  “We’re havin’ a drug test?  Oh man, I am seriously fucked!”

I had my answer.  I assured Chad that we weren’t.  He was still so bummed out he had to take a smoke break, and it was obvious what he was going to smoke.

I called my buddy Clarence who I remembered had bragged once about beating the test.  I told him my situation, and he said he had the perfect solution.  He only lived ten minutes from work, so I took an early lunch and headed out.

Clarence had everything ready for me.  “Everything” was a Whizzenator: a rubber penis that hid a rubber bulb inside which could hold a clean urine sample.

“The only problem is,” Clarence said, “I’m out of synthetic urine samples.  You’re gonna have to get someone’s clean urine, and I’m definitely not that guy.”

I thanked Clarence and left.  Clean urine wasn’t my only problem.  Clarence was black, and even if the tester didn’t completely stand over me, whipping out a black cock could easily blow my cover.  Blaming it on an unfortunate accident at a tanning salon might have worked, but I opted for something better.

I couldn’t spend the precious minutes I had on self image, so I pulled out the Whizzenator at Home Depot and showed the guy in the paint department.

Paint department

“I need paint that will stick to this rubber, dry fast, and is the closest to flesh color that you can approximate.”

After staring at the black Whizzenator and then me, the paint guy had a wise ass, homophobic comment.  “Ooo, I see we’ve been doing some role playing, Missy.”

There was no way I was gonna deal with this shit now.  “Yeah, and I really love it,” I shot back.  “So either bend over and join me or just give me the fuckin’ paint… please.”

I was soon driving back to work, the Whizzenator in the backseat on newspaper, drying from my hasty paintjob

“Kyle, you’ve got to be very careful about your next step,” a voice from my passenger seat warned me.  I looked over and saw my PSD condition had conjured up former President Richard Nixon of Watergate fame.  I was all ears.  They didn’t call him Tricky Dick for nothing, and getting pointers from him could be very helpful.

Shifty Richard Nixon

“Trust no one.  If you want things done right, do it yourself.  Don’t make the mistake I made.”  I knew he was referring to the guys who bungled the Watergate break-in and resulted in his being caught.

“The fewer people involved, the less chance anything will go wrong,” he cautioned me.

“Got it,” I said, focused on his every word.

“So, what’s your plan?”

“I need pure urine.  I’m going to go to the straightest guy I know at work, look him right in the eye, and lie like a sonuvabitch.”

“That’s my boy!” Nixon shouted like a proud father.  “You’re a natural!”

Indian computer nerd

I already had my target picked out.  Manju Banerji, a Hindu techie and a complete computer nerd who made Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg look like jocks.  I found him in the back of the store on break getting his thrills by turbo boosting an old laptop to max-op speed.  I hated to interrupt his orgasm, but I was on a mission.

“I need your piss, Manju.”

“Whatever for?” he naturally asked.

“I’m working on an inexpensive water regeneration system that will turn pee into drinking water, and I need different samples.”

Nixon blanched.  “What genius!  Why didn’t I think of that?””

Manju stared at me for what seemed forever.  “Make sure you scan for microbes at the end.  That’s where most systems screw up.”

“Definitely.  Wouldn’t dream of doing it any differently.”

A little later Manju emerged from the bathroom, his piss in a coffee cup with a smiley face on it.  Just as he handed it to me, my boss walked by.

Smiley Face Coffee Mug

“Better down that coffee, Kyle.  You’ve got your you-know-what in five.”

I made like I was toasting him with my coffee and almost fooled myself but pulled it away from my lips just in time.  I went in the bathroom, filled the Whizzenator’s rubber bulb, thoroughly washed my hands, and I was ready.  Manju insisted I return the cup to him.  I did so reluctantly, making a mental note never to drink out of a smiley face cup at work ever again.

Nixon was glowing.  “You have greatness in you, son.  Mark my words.  You will go far.”

It was time for my test, and I marched in to meet my destiny.  It turned out the guy giving the test wasn’t very thorough, but who could blame him?  I mean, watching guys whip it out for him every day couldn’t have been his original career goal.  He gave me a quick onceover and allowed me enough slack to let the Whizzenator work its magic.  I gave him Manju’s urine, and walked out with a definite hop in my step.  I had won!

The next day, my boss took me aside.  “Kyle, you have to take another urine test.”

Nixon quickly appeared with advice, “You need to come clean now, Kyle.  If I had done that at the beginning, I would have never had to resign.”

“What’s the problem?” I asked as innocently as possible, totally ignoring Nixon.

“It’s not drugs or anything like that.  The lab found an unusual amount of estrogen and progesterone in your urine.  I mean, that amount is only present in guys who are going through hormone replacement therapy.”

“Hormone replacement therapy?”

“Guys who want to become girls.  You know, transgender, transsexual, that kinda thing.”

“Holy shit!” screamed Nixon.  “That Hindu nerd wasn’t getting laid, so he decided to switch teams!”  He then sternly demanded, “Now, Kyle!  Tell him the truth!”

I bowed my head and said, “I have a confession to make, sir.”

“Yes, Kyle, what is it?”

“I want,” I blurted out but couldn’t finish.  “I want…”

”Yes, Kyle, what do you want?”

I looked right at him.  “I want to be a woman.”

Then, my boss hugged me.  Yes, hugged me!  Apparently, he had a family friend who went through sexual reassignment surgery, and he was very sympathetic.  He wished me good luck and assured me that he and the company would stand behind me no matter what my final decision about my sex would be.

A stunned Nixon followed me out of the office, singing my praises.  “You were magnificent in there, Kyle.  You’re a true artist!”

I turned to Nixon.  “You know where you blew it, Dick?  By resigning, you admitted guilt.  Never end the lie, just extend it.  Look at Bush and Cheney.  They invaded Iraq.  No matter how much proof surfaced that there never was evidence of weapons of mass destruction, they kept twisting the story, making up new things.  And nothing happened to them.  Even today tons of people still believe them.”

Nixon mused, “Maybe if I told ‘em Watergate was a reaction to a medical condition… Damn, Kyle, I wish I had you instead of that piss ant Haldeman.”

As I strutted off, Nixon gave me a standing ovation.  I felt like I had finally seized control of my life, and I was on my way up the food chain.  Now all I had to figure out was if I should inform my boss of my decision to stay a man before or after I grew tits.

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Breaking News


Breaking News

THIS JUST IN:

“A Few Minutes With…” is making some exciting new changes.

We’re going on hiatus for one week, from April 22 to April 28, during which time we hope you’ll take the opportunity to check out some of our previous adventures you may have missed.

When you return, we’re confident you’ll enjoy the exciting character changes, the enhanced interaction with Kyle’s celebrity visitors and our  amped up, edgy and provocative new tone..

So check back Monday, April 29th when Kyle takes us into a brand new world of the unknown, still accompanied by his dead friends, but marching to a new moral compass.

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Adventure Eighteen: Bed, Bath and Beyond Stupid

Written by: John Tellegen

coke bottle candle holder

“No, no, no,” I explained to the assistant manager at Bed Bath & Beyond, “they have to be floating candles because I want to float them in the tub.”

“Why do you want candles in the tub?” she said, perplexed, her perfume almost making me vomit.

“Romance.  Don’t women love that stuff?” I asked, unsure of myself.

“Not really,” she shot back, “I prefer he just do the dishes once a year.”

She smiled.  I nodded.  It started to feel awkward.

 “So…what’s the occasion?” she asked.

“I’m going to ask Shelby to marry me,” I proudly proclaimed.

“Good for you.  Just remember to do the dishes once a year!”  She grabbed some long stemmed, taper candles and held them up.  “Which of these candles do you like?  They’re scented.”

“I dunno.  Maybe the pine forest or the aqua blast…the cinnamon?”  I kept hemming and hawing.  She was getting annoyed.

“They’re candles.  They’re not life changing.”

“I guess I’ll go with the cinnamon,” I stuttered.

“This Shelby of yours must have the patience of Job,” she muttered to herself.

By the time I got home my nerves were fried, well more fried than usual.  I wanted the night to be perfect.  I wanted fireworks when I proclaimed my love for my beloved.

I rushed around my apartment, setting the scene, but I was having a terrible time making decisions.  What should I wear?  Should I use paper napkins because they’re more sanitary or the checkerboard cloth napkins from my picnic basket?  What music would be just perfect to set the stage for her gleeful acceptance? 

I could use some help.

“God I wish Martha Stewart was dead!” I yelled to the cosmos.  I needed some famous dead designers to intervene and help me get this dumpy apartment in the proper romantic state.  I grabbed my laptop and Googled famous dead designers.  A bunch of fashion designers popped up.

“Hey, Versace!  You here?  What should I wear tonight???”  I asked to nobody in particular.  Funny enough, nobody in particular replied.  I switched gears and Googled dead interior decorators.  Someone named Michael Taylor popped up on my screen.  I had no idea who he was but apparently he was best known for creating the ‘‘California Look.’’  That sounded inspired.

“Michael Taylor!  Show yourself!  Give me some decorating magic!”

Nothing. 

The irony wasn’t lost on me.  I don’t want dead people around and they’re all over me.  I want them to help in a time of need and they can’t be bothered.  Kyle luck I called it.

“Fine, screw it, I’ll do it myself!” I sneered.

I started to set up the candles but I only had two candleholders and I had six candles.  It was time to improvise.  I gathered up some glass Coke bottles I kept from when I took Shelby to the fair.  The candles were a bit loose and hanging to the side so they didn’t look great but I figured I would score some points with the romantic aspect.

I finished setting the table, showered up, got dressed, started the music, stuck Nana’s diamond ring in my pocket, and waited for my true love to arrive.  My soul was on fire.

When Shelby finally knocked, I leapt off the couch and skipped through the living room.

As I opened the door, she looked amazing.  “Welcome back to my humble abode,” I said.  “Can I interest you in a glass of wine?”  I was laying it on a little thick but this was my night and I never wanted to forget it.  Shelby looked a little spooked by my demeanor but I was sure she had no idea what was coming.

“Wow,” she said with less enthusiasm than I expected.  “You really set the place up.”

“Nothing is too good for my sweet.”  Then I realized I forgot to light the candles.  “Oh, shit!”  I grabbed a lighter and quickly lit all six candles in the living room.  “There.  Perfect.”

“Kyle—“”

“Stop right there.  Don’t say a word.  I was planning on waiting until after dinner but I can’t contain myself.”  I dropped to my knee and pulled the ring from my pocket.  “Will you, Shelby, marry me and spend the rest of your life……with me…as my wife…  you and me……forever……”  Okay, maybe I should have practiced my delivery.

She exhaled deeply as her face seemed to drop.

“Oh, Kyle…”

“‘Oh, Kyle’?” I said from my knee.  “Is that a, ‘oh, Kyle I would love to be your wife,’ ‘oh, Kyle’?”

She slowly shook her head.  “No,” Shelby said as she sniffed her nose.  Her eyes started to tear up. 

I rose from my knee.  It was starting to hurt as much as my soul. “No?  What’s wrong?” I asked.  Shelby crossed to the couch and sat.

“I can’t believe you ask me to marry you on the night I was planning on breaking up with you.”

“Breaking up with me???  Why?”

“It’s just not working out—”

“I knew it!  You’re screwing that rich guy from work, aren’t you!” I accused.

“No,” she said, offended.

“Then you’re going back to your ex, the guy from Applebees.  Or even worse, Chazz!”

“No, Kyle.  I’m not seeing anyone.”

“You’re leaving me for no one…  How is that even possible?  Then someone told you what happened at the strip club…” I sheepishly confessed.

“…What happened at the strip club?”

“………Nothing, why do you ask?”

“Look,” she continued, “it just feels like we want different things in life.  I thought I could get over the fact that you work in a simple electronics store, drive a simple beater, always act so neurotic, mumbling into thin air…..but it turns out I can’t.  I don’t know what it is but there is just something…off.  I guess, I’m just not that into you, Kyle.”

And with that she left. 

And I chased after her, bounding through the living room, knocking over a chair, the sofa, and a hat rack in the process.  I wasn’t going to let my love get away that easily.  As I slammed the door I heard the picture of us from our second date at mini-golf fall off the wall. 

I darted after her and grabbed her arm as she was crossing the street in front of my apartment building.

“Shelby, please.  What can I do?  I’ll change.  I’ll be different.  I’ll do dishes!  I can’t believe you’re ditching me for nobody!”

Her face told the story; she was standing in front of me but she was already gone.

“I just need to move on and you should too.”  She jumped in her car and screeched away, leaving me standing in the street.  I felt like I had been run over by a truck and as I turned to walk back to my apartment, what I saw made me wish a big rig would just finish me off.

Smoke and flames were billowing out the windows of my unit.  The entire building would soon be engulfed.  People fled out fire exit doors holding their pets and yanking up their underwear.

We all stood in the street watching as the firemen bravely battled the blaze but it was no use, the building was a goner.  I could hear other tenants grumbling around me.

“How do you think it started?” one asked.

“I smell cinnamon,” another barked.

“It’s definitely electrical!” the know-it-all from 3-B declared.

Just then, two firemen walked past.  “Wasn’t electrical.  Some dumbass was using Coke bottles as candleholders.”

I swallowed hard and inched away from the angry mob, bumping into a well-dressed man in a collared shirt.

“You should have used votive candles,” the man said.

“Yeah, what makes you such an expert,” I shot back.  “And how do you know it was me?—”

“I’m Michael Taylor.  Best known for creating the ‘California Look.’”  He smiled like a man who just hit a hole in one.  I immediately hated him.

“Listen here, ‘Michael Taylor the California look guy,’ I may have Googled you in a moment of weakness but I only accept visits from A-listers like Elvis and Michael Jackson.  So beat it!”

Just then, the angry man from the mob pointed at me.  “Where’s that guy slinking off to?  I bet he’s the candle man!”  The rest of the mob seemed to agree with him.  They started to surround me.  The Bloated Banker who always takes up two parking spaces cocked a bat from his Little League days.

“Let’s burn his ass!” yelled the old bag from 2-F.

“It seems to me it is you who better beat it!” Michael Taylor said through a smile.

And beat it I did.  Off into the night…

220px-MT_Portrait

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Adventure Seventeen: Wanna Be Starting Something

by Bill Braunstein

dancing

I’d be a great dancer if it weren’t for two things—my feet.

That’s why I hate getting up on a dance floor.  But today, whether I like it or not, I have to cut the rug with Shelby.  And I’m dreading it big time.

“Kyle, I hope you’re ready…  The band looks like they’re about to take the stage.”

“Great, Shelby,” I said with all the enthusiasm of a condemned man staring at a noose.

“You promised, Kyle…  It’s just a dance.  And besides, you have to.  You can’t embarrass me in front of all these guests.”

Right, these guests.  See, we’re at the wedding of our two best friends — Brendan and Bailey.  Yeah, I know.  Their names sound like a drink you’d order at a West Hollywood bar.

But Brendan works with me at the electronics store.  And Bailey has known Shelby since they were little.  And now they’re newlyweds.  They just finished tying the knot in the chapel next door.

Chapel scene 2

We’re standing in the cavernous reception hall.  And my stomach is doing the kind of somersaults that would make gymnast Gabby Douglas proud.  “Geez, Shelby, how many people would you say are here?”

“Just a few hundred,” she said.  “You’ll be fine.”

Looking at Shelby, I must say, calmed me a little.  She was a vision.  Bailey had asked her to be maid of honor, and Shelby dazzled when we left my apartment earlier today — pretty pink dress, satin gloves, hair tied back with a matching bow – no Lady Gaga meat dress for my girl.

But now, in a few minutes, after the traditional first dance between the bride and groom, there’s going to be a special dance for the bridesmaids and their partners.  And I’m about to become the thing I dread most…the center of attention.

My brooding was temporarily interrupted when I noticed Shelby frantically going through her handbag, a concerned look on her face.

“Kyle,” she said, “one of my gloves must have fallen out of my purse in the chapel.  Could you be a dear, and check if it’s there?”

pink gloves

“Sure,” I said, happily grabbing at this escape hatch.  “See you in a couple of hours.”  The look on Shelby’s face told me she wasn’t amused.  “Just kidding; I’ll be right back.”

Walking through the elaborately decorated garden and into the chapel, I could hear the band start playing…  It was one of those dance tunes that’s become a wedding standard…

  I said you wanna be startin’ somethin’. / You got to be startin’ somethin’.                               I said you wanna be startin’ somethin’ / You got to be startin’ somethin’…

As the music wafted through the air, I headed to the area where Shelby and I sat during the ceremony.  I figured her glove must have fallen to the ground, so I got on my knees and started poking around.

“Looking for something?” came a soft, almost girlish voice from behind me.

“Yes,” I said, without looking up…  “I’m looking for a glove.”

“Did it look anything like this?”

I rose to my feet.  Standing in front of me was a guy dressed in a black leather jacket decorated with buckles and clasps, and a dark fedora atop his head.

He held out his left hand.  On it was a white leather glove covered in rows of glittering rhinestones.

Wow, I thought.  This guy could easily pass for Michael Jackson.

Quickly, I put two and two together.  The song that was playing—“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”…  The glove…  The strong resemblance to the “King of Pop”…  It was obvious.  This dude’s part of the wedding entertainment – an MJ impersonator.

“Hey, shouldn’t you be next door?  You’re with the band, right?”

The man just laughed.  “No, no…  My band-playing days stopped a few years ago.”

Then it hit me…  This wasn’t a dead ringer for Michael Jackson.  It was, well, a dead Michael Jackson.  Holy Moses!  My PSD had kicked in again.

jackson in buckles jacket

Michael started taking off his glove.   “Here, you can have mine…   It matches your suit.”

“No, Michael,” I said, “the glove I’m looking for is pink.”

“Oh, of course, that’s much better color for you.”

“The glove is my girlfriend’s,” I said.  “She lost it in here somewhere.”

Michael moved with the grace of a finely tuned athlete.  And his observational skills were just as keen.  He didn’t just walk to the front of the chapel; he effortlessly bounded there as if defying gravity.  And then he pointed under a chair.

Sure enough, there was Shelby’s missing glove.  I tried to mimic Jackson’s moves as I went to where he stood, but I tripped and stumbled as I approached the glove.

“Dude,” Michael laughed, “you’re clumsier than an elephant, and I know because I used to own one.”

“Yeah, I’m a klutz; that’s my problem,” I said as I picked up the glove and placed it in my pocket.

There was a part of me that wanted to run next door and tell Shelby the greatest singer/dancer/songwriter in world helped me find her glove.  But another part of me wanted to stay right here, because I dreaded heading back.

I sat down, and took a deep breath.

“That’s quite a party going on next door,” Michael said.  “Shouldn’t you be with the others?”

“Well, I should be, but to be perfectly honest, I’m a little nervous about what’s going to happen once I get there.”

Michael looked at me, his dark eyes filled with sympathy.  “Yes, you seem a little frightened.  The color has drained from your face.”

My first thought was a witty rejoinder, like “you should talk?”  But it’s not nice to speak ill of the dead…especially directly to the dead.  Jackson asked me what was wrong.

“I have to dance in front of hundreds of people,” I said, “and I’m very self-conscious about it.  I’m not like you.  I hate having the spotlight on me.”

Michael nodded as if he understood perfectly.  “You might be surprised to know I’m the same way in my private life.  As a child, I was quiet and shy.”  He grew wistful.  “When you’ve got eight brothers and sisters, you’re never the center of attention.”

I laughed, “Well, that changed as you got older.”

“Not by choice…  Yes, I grew up in the public eye —  from being a child star with the Jackson Five to my solo career — but no matter how successful I got, I was always painfully timid when off-stage.  The only time I’m at ease, is when I’m performing.”

Jackson chuckled softly. “Dancing is beautiful. It’s like putting your soul out there for the world to see.  Watch this.”

michael jackson in buckle pants

He then did a perfectly executed moonwalk; his feet appeared to step forward as he moved backward. Then, Jackson dropped down into a split, arose with a pirouette, turned towards me, and tipped his fedora.

“It’s easy, see?”

“Well, that’s the point,” I said. “You’re not scared of performing.  I am.”

“What are you scared of?”

“My friends are here,” I said.  “My girlfriend is here.  If I make a fool of myself on the dance floor, I’ll never hear the end of it.  I don’t want to be ridiculed.”

“Look,” Jackson said, “you can’t be concerned with what others say about you.  I’m not. I’ve seen the stories people have written about me over the years. You know, all that Wacko Jacko stuff.”

“Michael, I never believed any of those stories,” I lied.

“If I paid attention to that,” he continued, “I’d have been absolutely paralyzed.  But I learned how to tune out hateful noise.  I may have marched to a different drummer in my life, but I always followed my heart. And you should, too.

“You’ve got to dance like no one is watching.”

michaeljackson_dancing and crotch grabbing

Okay, so maybe he was beginning to sound like a Hallmark card, but I got his point…  It was time to head to the fate that awaited me.

I returned to the reception hall, and handed Shelby her missing glove.  The time I spent with Michael Jackson was a blur.  I didn’t know if I had been gone five minutes or five hours…  But at least Shelby was glad to see me.

“Oh, Kyle,” she gushed, “you missed it!  Look what I’ve got!”

In her hands, was a bouquet.  “Nice flowers,” I said.  “Where’d you get those?”

“Bailey.  While you were gone, she threw her bouquet into the crowd of single women, and I caught it.  Do you know what that means?”

I certainly did.  And I didn’t want to talk about it.  But Shelby did.

“It means I’m next.”

wedding bouquet

The band started playing another wedding standard, Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.”

This was not a time to talk about the tying of any knots… unless it was the knots in my stomach.  It was dance time.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Michael Jackson standing in the doorway.  He motioned with his hands that I should move closer to my lady in pink.

“You’re right, Shelby,” I said, gathering all the confidence I could muster. “You are next.  May I have this dance?”

As I led Shelby to the center of the room, every pair of eyes in the hall was on us—or so it seemed.  But I didn’t care.

Wedding-Reception-area

Inspired by Michael Jackson’s actions and advice, I summoned all the powers of recall and muscle memory I could muster, and attempted to recreate the dance moves he’d shown me in the chapel.

First, I did a spectacular moonwalk…  Then, like Michael, I leaped high into the air, landed in a split, and bounded up from the ground with a deftly turned pirouette.  Bowing to the crowd’s wild applause, I extended my hand to an awed Shelby.

Well…  That’s the scene I fantasized.

What actually happened was this:  I stepped on Shelby’s dress train, and fell flat on my ass.

Trying to stand up, I grabbed at a nearby table, but accidentally pulled hard on the table cloth.  I then watched in horror as plates, silverware and a very pretty floral centerpiece cascaded to the floor.

Shelby just shook her head.  “That’s what I love about you, Kyle.  You really know how to commit.”

Was she talking about my moves on the floor?  Or was that a veiled reference to her catching that bouquet?  All I could do was smile meekly.

The band played on, and I was determined to finish what I started.

I put my hands around Shelby’s waist, and she seemed to melt in my arms as we moved as one.  Was I hearing the crowd’s cheers, or jeers of laughter?  I didn’t know, and didn’t care.

Time stood still as the faces in the room slowly faded away.

And then, I danced like no one was watching.

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