Just Make Yourself Look Pretty, Sally


It is an hour walk to the well and there are children and women and old men at the well. The sun is hot and yellow and I have turned dark and callous in the afternoon. The end of the wellborn child, against the sand, struts into a leadership role and plagues himself with nude walks.

Fuck off.


He is red, she says and she is spent and she is a hooker. We are tired of hookers in the backyard. They aren’t using the toilets. That is Garrison. He is the banker and he makes $4.25 an hour because it is no longer 1950. I only have twenties and fifties, Garrison says. The hag needs to make it to the store so she can buy eggs.

Get the fuck out of my store.


There is sound in the other room, there is music there, and people are playing instruments and the instruments are the guitar, the cello, the saxophone, and the drums. They are pretty talented and energized and there is good music.

But I don’t fucking care.


In the morning of the fourth day that I quit trying to have sex with the fat girl that liked to sit at the bar, my hand turned yellow and I began to vomit because I had bad fucking karma. Jesus didn’t help me either and I told him as much.

I bought a piece of shit motorcycle and it broke down on 101.


It is fifty-three miles across the southern part of the state. Troy biked it in four hours because there were a lot of hills. He ate a hamburger and he drank a milkshake and he told the waitress that he didn’t want fucking mayonnaise on his hamburger.

I don’t fucking care what you want, she said.


The end of the year came and it wouldn’t have really mattered what happened in January. The goddamn children were still at the well and I still had to wait in line and it was hot as fuck.


Everyone else, all of them, is just mutes.



we aren't going to let anybody survive in those tunnels

I gave him a rifle and he took it into the hole in the ground and he started shooting and I think he was shooting with his eyes closed. At first, there was some shrieking, little person shrieking, and then there was a whole bunch of shrieking. Later, he came up all bloody and dirty and his eyes were like little lanterns. It was a good first shooting for the boy and I thought that he had come out a lot older and a lot more mature. It’s about time he learned how to defend himself.

His teacher taught him to multiply four’s the next morning and the next afternoon he learned a new word and the word was stoic: The four men shot little pigeons in the garage and then the four men went into the house and ate and then the four men came out of the house and went into the army and the whole time the men were silent and stoic.

That’s an awfully long sentence but it sure is good. The only problem is that it might be too good and soon Mrs. Teacher is going to be calling the trailer and spouting some bullshit about college and after school tutoring and hell, that is just a little bit too much attention. Attention will probably get you shot.

I have tried to tell the little bugger that a bunch of times and I think he is just starting to get it.

The plan at the beginning of the school year was to be as normal as possible—to sit and not make any noise to not bother anybody and to not get any attention. Any attention is bad, I told him when he was seven. He had been caught shoplifting from Dave’s Fish ‘N Tackle and they had arrested him right away and taken him in the back and beaten him with a blackjack.

He deserved it and I told him as much.

Besides, there is something incredibly wrong with trying to make the teacher smile when she looks at you or trying to make the teacher look at you at all. I used to try to do that but that was before I knew anything about my nature and about my purpose. About ten years ago, though, my guidance counselor set me all straight. He said that I would probably lead an immobile and unvarying existence and that it would probably afford me the ability to avoid all inconvenient responsibility. I thought he gave me a pretty good and sound evaluation. And that was when I started the no-attention getting philosophy.

Since then, things have worked pretty well, for the most part.

The friggin little boy, though, the one that lives next door keeps getting himself in a bunch of fits and struggles and the police keep coming into the neighborhood and asking all sorts of questions about our fences and our storage areas. One of these days I am going to have to send my boy over there and straighten that little boy out.

Beyond all the no-attention teachings, I keep my boy up to speed on all the important happenings in the neighborhood and in our country. I tell my boy the truth about the world. I don’t hide from the boy and that is why I gave him the shotgun, or maybe it was just a rifle. Those people in those tunnels, they come from another country, I tell him. Those people come here because their own country is bad and has no jobs or food or good places to live. Those people are an inconvenience and a nuisance in our country, and probably in their own no-good country too. So they come into this country, all sneaky, and they try to plant themselves here like they always been here. But it's always been just us here and nobody else. All that talk got him pretty excited and he had to get into that tunnel. And I let him go.

And the first time he came up from the tunnels I noticed that he had sort of accidentally pissed himself and he was a little bit frightened. I figured the next time he went down in that tunnel he should take a shotgun because then the little escapees won’t be bleeding and rolling in the mud after they are shot. Hell, they’ll probably be dead right away.

Besides, the boy is done real good this year at keeping out of sight. I haven't gotten any phone calls from Mrs. Teacher or any of those other whores. In the end, all the good behavior makes for a mighty good summer and we indeed celebrate.

On the fourth of July, my wife gives me a gas grill and we cook burgers and celebrate the great land that has always been America and we celebrate about how good we are at keeping those stupid bastards out of our country. Later that night some man in an American flag t-shirt says that there are some silly men on the news who think they can blow us up. I’ll blow them right back up after, my son says and my wife is happy to know that I have raised the boy right in the ways of protection.



His heart is going to stop and he is soon to be dead


The cardiology department is on the fifth floor, the nurse says. The nurse is tall and thin and the nurse looks like an athlete. I bet she is a good athlete, George thinks and he walks to the elevator and presses the button that says five.

There is a man on the floor of the hospital lobby. The man has a hole in his chest and he is bleeding and he is asking the nurse for a glass of water. There are missiles outside and the missiles are going off on the street and there are loud explosions and some of the children, the small children, are crying. George stands in the elevator and watches the numbers light up: one, two, three, four, five.

George gets off the elevator.


There are signs for the cardiology department on the fifth floor. The signs point to the left. The sings are made of cardboard. George follows the signs. There are a considerable amount of people on this floor, George thinks.

Most of the people are old. They have hearts that have lasted a very long time.

My grandmother reads Life Magazine because it makes her happy, George says. Life is a magazine about other people. There are pictures of other people in Life Magazine. At least she has a heart that is very strong and has been able to last a long time, Mary says.

Oh yeah, George thinks, Mary did come with me.

George doesn’t smile at first but a bag of a woman with a blue wool hat smiles and waves. Maybe this visit will be quite humorous, George thinks. Just this one visit. The woman is sitting on a bench and she has a really large smile. She waves again. She is not quite well. Yes, George decides, this visit will be quite humorous. George is not decidedly upset anymore.

You know Mary, George says, I wouldn’t generally smile. I would be agitated and nervous and I would be fidgeting—you know how I fidget when these things come around. I wouldn’t be in a good mood, I wouldn’t be in a good mood at all. But I suppose there isn’t really that much that you can do when you know that your heart is going to go out like a cheap balloon.

It will just go—pop.


The doctor is whispering and George sits in his hospital robe and he stares at a machine that has many buttons and dials. An ultra sound image of George’s heart is frozen on the screen. George looks at his heart on the screen. His humor has lessened over the past few minutes but he is not quite morose.

There are holes in his heart, the doctor says to Mary. It is going to be quite difficult for him to breathe and he is going to take many short breaths all day long and he might go black in the eyes sometimes.

He is going to faint?

Sure, I imagine that he will. He will likely collapse a couple of times. But those are just the strokes. And the strokes are really just getting the clots out. The doctor is a good doctor and he drives a Mercedes and he has two daughters. He is from the mainland, from a small village on the mainland. He eats brown rice and he works on the exercise machines because it is good for his heart.

Mary is sweating and she is noticeably nervous. She wore her white blouse and her straight black pants today. She wanted to act professional and her professional clothes usually make her act proper and, indeed, professional. She does the same thing when she is ill. She wears clothes that are professional and she feels less ill.

It is almost as though you aren’t supposed to feel ill in certain clothes.

But now she is terribly upset and her make-up begins to make her look like she is a clown and she is crying because it is really rather sad that George is not doing all that well. Actually, it doesn’t fucking matter that she is wearing her black pants.

The doctor says hello to George. George says hello to the doctor.

The doctor plays with the machine and the doctor talks to another doctor. The other doctor is a woman doctor and both doctors nod their heads and point at the screen and they seem to be talking about something very serious, very grave. He didn’t take care of that at all, the woman doctor says. No he didn’t, the doctor says and he agrees.

I didn’t, George says and sighs. I think I saw them laugh a bit though, George thinks. But maybe it was just a doctor laugh. Maybe it was a bit of a he’s dead so let’s move on laugh. But that is clearly not true because George is still sitting in the hospital and George is definitely not dead.


To tell the truth, though, there aren’t really any missiles outside and there aren’t really any explosions either. But the cardiology department is on the fifth floor.



The extremists in the north want to murder our babies

There is a howl and the women with babies are in a well and the babies are screaming and the women are asking for help. This, perhaps, is the result of one idea that arose at the end of the last century. There were others, of course, but the other ideas were eventually and eagerly disregarded.

After a considerable amount of debate, it was decided that the one idea would be granted permission to secede all other designs presented by foundations, institutions, and faith based organizations. You see, the men had horses then, and the horses were fast. Quite simply, the men rode their horses throughout the countryside and the countryside was rolling hills and stone farmhouses and small brooks and nested fields.

There was, in fact, no faster way to spread the idea (nor implement the idea) since there weren’t any things in the sky any longer and there weren't any things flying around the earth any longer. And I must admit there was quite some promise at the beginning. The execution was remarkably swift. At the end of the first week, the picnic areas were filled with eaters and the eaters were hungry. The volunteers were well dressed and easily disposed to find comfort in their neighbor and in the safety and honor in the idea. But, after a while, a few disputes broke out and it did not seem that the idea was as good as it was initially perceived.

So we went back to the table on the south side of Bell Island and we began to draw up another idea. The first idea had been to put all the women with babies in the bottom of a well. The women with babies were vulnerable and since the dawning of the new war manuals—they were enemy targets. We were concerned, rightly so, that a successful massacre of these helpless and hopeless women and children would leave us embarrassingly crippled and descendent-less.

That was out-right foolish on our part.

Really, it is quite impossible to become descendent-less. We all agreed on that after some time and the women with the babies were brought out of the wells and we shook hands with the women and the babies were covered in dust and ash and some of the babies died when they came back up to the surface because it was a difficult adjustment. There are some unfortunate casualties in the implications of ideas and, as thoroughly and professionally as the idea was put in place and administered there were still some people that were not able to follow directions or were unfortunate victims of circumstance.

At the time of the drawing of the second idea, there were seventeen members in our cabinet and each member of the cabinet was responsible for writing one thoroughly plausible and appropriate idea. The best idea from the group of seventeen was to be administered. In retrospect, our second chosen idea was probably not the best either. It is remarkably amazing that a group of well-educated and wealthy men could choose the wrong idea. However, there is great merit in the grace and dignity with which we led our nation against the extremists and hardliners of the north.



The man with the gun is famous and he is a foster father


The bank robbing men shoot the workingmen and the bank robbing men steal the jewelry and the money.


Sheila is six and she cannot read the headline. Sheila makes cow noises at the dinner table and Sheila gets slapped in the face and Sheila starts to bleed and now Sheila is a foster child. She is case number 114310-A.


The lobby has fluorescent lights. I had my money in that fucking bank, Dale says. You should be a car racer then you would make more money, the teller says. Fuck you, Dale says. It is seventy-seven degrees at nine a.m.

I hope it doesn’t rain, Stewart says to Martha. Stewart and Martha are newly-weds. It would really be too bad if it rained on their honeymoon.


The headline says that the mobsters are in the city again, Martin says to Sheila. Last time the mobsters were in the city I couldn’t go to the town pool, Sheila says. That is because there were dead people floating in the pool and I didn’t think that it would be appropriate for you to swim with dead people now finish your toast.


Martin works at the bank. Banks have money. Martin wears a hairpiece. Martin hides coconut rum in his office drawer. It is like the Caribbean without the sunburn, he says. You poor sucker, Michelle says. Michelle has a snicker that sounds like a pig and Michelle is fat and Michelle is also a sucker.


The mobsters are in the bank when Martin arrives at the bank and the mobsters are stealing money from the bank. Who is in charge, Martin asks the mobsters and the mobsters point at a man that has a black hat.


The city is more beautiful at night but there are more people shot when the city is beautiful and Sheila is in the 22nd precinct waiting for her foster father. The mobsters only want money from the safe, Jack says to Martin. Jack is the regional manager. Jack has sex twice a week: on Sunday afternoons and Friday mornings. Jack’s wife is a vegetarian and she wears leather pants.

Jack’s wife wants to be in a rock and roll band because then people will point and say: I want to be Jack’s wife. That would be odd, Jack thinks. Jack’s wife is usually asleep on Friday mornings. Jack has sex once a week. Jack makes elephant noises.


Poor sucker.


I used to drink banana rum but that gave me bad indigestion, Martin says. Do you want twenties or fifties, Martin asks the man in the black hat. Jack tried out for the circus when he was seventeen but the circus man said that he looked like a lamb.


Go piss yourself.