How to Clean Your Conscience: Epilogue

August 26, 2019

I listened to an old album from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs the other day.  I have been fond of the three-piece trio since the first time I listened to their emotional rock ballad “Maps” in college, but it’s their album “It’s Blitz!” that is nearest and dearest to me.  As with all albums, the replay value fades over time, and it had been years since I listened to it.  But a recent blog post that revisited some of my old, homemade skate videos retriggered it.  Consequently, it began playing itself over and over again in my head, a phenomenon that would continue and drive me further into madness until I’d decide to confront it.

As I walked toward the metro for my evening commute from work, I popped in my earphones and shuffled through my musical albums until I settled a picture of flying yoke from a crushed egg.  It would be a major deviation from my usual routine of watching Fantasy Football draft prep videos on YouTube, a late summer obsession I had developed, fueling my deeper obsession of beating Mike Gibson this year.  Yet, it was a deviation that felt absolutely necessary.  I stepped onto the green line, found an open seat, and pressed play.

A driving, electronic beat drove into my ears, and immediately I was taken back. I was a young 23-year-old on the brink of moving to Seattle.  My head was buzzed, my flannel collection was growing at a rapid pace, and I had but two desires—to skateboard and party.  As I shut my eyes, I could feel my heart pump with the energy I once had as lead singer Karen Oh’s voice opened the first verse, building the anticipation towards the beat drop.  My life consisted of counting down the days until the 2009 Sasquatch music festival, waiting for work to end so I could get my daily fix of skateboarding in at the local skatepark, and working for the weekend to get to Seattle for whatever ridiculousness I could pull off with Ben Woodward.  It was an exciting time, my first glimpse of adulthood, my first real taste of freedom, and I had the world at my fingertips.

The chorus played out until there was a break in the beat mixed with random synth blips and guitar strokes.  It signaled chaos, confusion; the calm before the storm.  I braced for it, a beat drop I had heard and yearned for on many occasions. And as the synthesizer released a high pitch squeal and the beat blasted back into play with the advent of the second verse, I reopened my eyes with illusion that I was ready to take on the world once again.

Fast-forward. My flannel collection has been replaced with dress shirts, my hair is grown and styled to form a business-friendly part, and I now have a pair of glasses that accompany my few dustings of gray hair.  In the past, my heart may have filled with despair, for part of nostalgia is grasping with the fact that you’ll never have that time back. And in many ways, the Zack of 10 years ago would’ve despised the Zack he had become.  But for some reason, on that day, things were different.  I was at peace with the past, at ease with the present, and optimistic of the future.

Who knows if I’ll ever have another chance travel across the United States with one of my best friends again.  If I did, I certainly wouldn’t be able to recapture the silliness of a ghostly possession in Montana or recreate a wild moment like we had at the 1029 bar in Minneapolis, nor would I even attempt to try!  And by miracle of the Holy Father, my brush ins with Josh Ulrich have become surprisingly cordial.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll get my opportunities to throw in a dig here and there, and he’ll be sure to do the same (I’d expect nothing less).  In fact, at the time of this writing, I am on my way back from a quick visit Boise, and I had the pleasure of seeing my good buddy Josh.  And let’s just say, we had our fair share of drinks between the two of us (of course I had more… and paid for it as well).

But I no longer crave that type of excitement, at least not on a daily basis. As a married man, my ideal Friday nights consist of relaxing with the wife and the weenie dog, watching a movie with a maybe a cocktail in hand, then turning in early for a head start on the weekend.  For how grueling it can be, I actually treasure my early morning routine of carry our little weenie outside so we don’t wake up to a puddle of piddle on the floor. And I know that someday, I may have my own little army of Zack’s running around, which will open up a whole new realm of adventure.  I can only imagine the memories we’ll create, the heartaches they’ll cause, and the love they’ll bring to this world.  And if that’s not something you can look forward to, then I don’t know what is!

Within the 10 years from which I heard that first driving beat of “It’s Blitz!” to now, there have been many great times coupled with great memories. On the flipside, there has also been a fair share of heartbreaks, lessons learned, and not so good times.  And to be honest, it often feels like those hard times not only outweighed the good times, but lasted longer as well.  I’m not sure if it’s just a trait I’m blessed with however, but human nature seems to have an easier time clinging on to the good times.  And when it’s all said and done, the bad memories seem to fade away in the wake of the cherished ones.

I thank God for that. 

Chapter 16: Come Away With Me… To a Packers Game… A Wisco Wedding Part 3

Stephen Jenkin’s angelic voice faded as the cycling of a V6 engine came to a stop.  We climbed out of the Benz at the edge of the mansion’s estate, receiving more sets of impressive looks from arriving guests doing the same. Bill and I gave our suits a few straightening tugs and Gretch did the same with her dress, and with our heads up, posture straight, and each stride hit with perfect poise, we made our way up to the mansion.

A drink accompanied the hands of each of our friends, prompting a visit to the wet bar as to be in conformance with the rest of the party guests. “If you want, I can make you guys an old fashioned to go with your Keystone Light—Oh… hey, Billy…” He stood behind the counter fixing a drink of his own, his presence a surprise to us all.

“Hey what’s up guys?” he said to us. “Man, last night got a little wild. I wasn’t mean to you guys or say anything stupid did I?”

“Well, we kind of got into it over Kanye West…” I reluctantly replied. The reminder was likely to bring up contention, something I was hoping to avoid before the wedding’s festivities began, but nothing less than an honest answer was what he deserved, even if we were fighting the day before. He was a groomsmen after all.

“Oh man, I’m sorry. You know what I say: to each his own. That’s my motto. I’m not a big Kanye fan by any stretch, but if you are, I have nothing against that. You know me, I would never say a mean thing to anybody.” His apology was sincere, and in my book, fully acceptable.

“You know, there was a little drinking going on, and people say things they don’t mean, and it just got a little out of hand I think, that’s all. I tell you what, after the ceremony is over, I’ll make you an old fashioned.” We shook hands and added a smile to console our differences.

“Alright you guys, we’re going to start any minute now,” said Maggie having just ran down the basement stairs. That was our cue, for nobody was allowed to see the bride in her wedding dress before the start of the ceremony, and for good reason too. With drinks in hand and sunglasses over our head, we joined the rest of the guests on the lawn and took our seats for the ceremony.

***

Blake stood at the alter waiting for Billy and Coti to make their way past the rows seated guests and accompany him. The unforgiving humidity set by the red summer sun resulted in large patches of sweat left under the armpits of the wedding party’s dress shirts, a common theme that was to be shared by the rest of the male party guests, including yours truly.

Next came Maggie, the Maid of Honor, escorted by Jordan, Blake’s son. At 9 years old, he performed the important, yet demanding role of best man, and an appropriate title it was, for his manners and maturity were far above and beyond that of the rest of us, and only he was capable and deserving enough to walk a babe like Maggie down the aisle. Thus, he truly was, the best man.

Jordan took his spot next to his father and Maggie stood opposite of him while a classical tune continue to play and spill out over the glistening lake, a most perfect backdrop for a wedding, minus the few passing pontoon boats unaware that such a special occasion was taking place. With Blake standing amongst the company of friends, family, and the most important people in his life, the stage was set. All the required members were present, all except for one, whose grand entrance was only a few, long seconds away.

A jazzy brush drum roll sounded followed by a few strokes of a piano, a rhythm and melody that was instantly recognized, as it was the introduction to one of the most beautiful songs ever written (second only to Jewel’s “You Were Meant For Me, and possibly a couple of Kanye West beats), a song I had listened to every day for months while delving into the literature of Ayn Rand (quite an excellent pairing)—a song of which you can’t help but think about holding close the most lovely of babes among babes. Norah Jones led in with her signature soft and graceful voice, “Come away with me, in the night…” and a procession of guests rose to their feet. “Come away with me, and I will write… you… a song…”

All eyes turned to the bride clad in a stunning white dress, her elegance on full display. Walking side by side with her father, Beth made her way down the aisle and joined Blake. Standing together, hand in hand at the alter, they looked into each others eyes, millions of thoughts rummaging through their heads, a million thoughts that by some miracle of life, may just happen be congruent within the short distance between them, a lifetime of knowledge, memories, and love shared between two individuals. Thoughts of which neither me, Bill, Gretch or anybody else in attendance could possibly know or would ever know… all we could do is sit back and wonder with thoughts of our own…

***

The Palouse was in its typical Fall transitioning period, unsure of whether it was suppose to be warm or cool that early October Tuesday in 2006, much like the young emo kids struggling to find their identity. The day’s events were exceptionally vivid, for The Killers had just released their new album “Sam’s Town,” the much-anticipated follow-up to their debut album “Hot Fuss.” After my purchase from Hastings in Moscow, ID, I immediately rushed over to Connie and Bill’s apartment, for my house in Pullman was far too long of a drive for me to listen to a CD I had been waiting months to get my hands on.

Emily Dokken answered the door and informed me of three important issues. 1: Bill and Connie were still in class. 2: she had to take a massive dump. And 3: I could hang out with her friend Beth until Connie and Bill came back. Little did I know at the time that Emily’s half-hour outing with the toilet would mark the beginning of a friendship, sort of a blessing in disguise if you ask me.

From that forced encounter on that early Autumn day in Idaho, and with the help of a few Chach Chugs, multiple Moscow outings, and a road trip or two, our friendship grew and blossomed, to the point where we eventually discovered a coveted admiration evolving from our family upbringing—The Green Bay Packers.

Fast forward to 2010; a time where Lady Gaga ruled the airwaves, half the country was going nuts over a terrible film called Avatar, the Shi— uh, I mean Seahawks’ (for some reason I mess that up, every time…) fan base was still limited in size, and I was about to take a temporary position working for the Navy in Washington, DC. Before I was to embark across the country however, there was one last important matter to tend to: the Packers were scheduled to come to Seattle to play the Shi—er, Seahawks (there I go again), and being that game tickets were still decently priced at that point in history, Beth and I made it a point to go to the game, even if it was only preseason.

“By the way Beth, I’m going to bring my friend Cambray. I hope you’re not mad, she’s kind of a boundary babe,” I told her through text.

“That’s fine. I’m going to bring my friend Blake.”

“What the… Who the heck is Blake?!?! He better be a cool guy or else!” I threatened. And soon enough, I would meet this Blake fellow and find out just how much of a cool guy he actually was…

Readers note: in an effort to remain factual, upon my writing of this, I just remembered that the Packer game was actually the second time I had met Blake, but the first time I met him involved him running out of the shower in nothing but a towel, and that story’s not as good. Besides, the Packer game is where we actually got to know each other, so if it’s no difference to you, I’d like to talk about that time instead.

Beth brought Blake to the rendezvous point to meet Cambray and I before the game. In my Belltown apartment across the street from the Space Needle, we made our preparations for the evening’s festivities, for it was dangerous territory we were walking into, making it rather imperative that we gather the appropriate supplies for the mission ahead. I made everybody take a few rounds of shots before leaving, but it was Blake who stepped up the game up by convincing Beth to hide a Ziploc bag full of rum in her shirt, a move that encouraged Cambray to follow suit. Although a bit jealous over the fact that he came up with the idea, it was still a strategy I was most impressed with, and from that point on, I had a feeling that Blake and I were going to get along just fine.

The walk to Qwest Field (now Century Link) was filled with dirty looks and heckles. Apparently, not only was having a giant wedge of cheese on my head considered terrible camouflage, but it also wasn’t much of a popular look on that particular day. Lucky for us we were equipped with a sufficient amount of booze and good conversation to keep the two-mile trek fresh.

“Beth tells me you went to Asotin High School. Did you know Danny P?” asked Blake.

“Yea I know Danny P! Me and him go way back!”

“Nice! We went to the Gorge together for Sasquatch a few years back.”

“What?! I love the Gorge, and I go to Sasquatch every year! It’s probably my favorite place to go actually. You probably know Moody too if you know Danny.”

“Oh yea, I know Moody. That guy shreds on guitar.”

“Dude, Moody’s been my best friend since the third grade! That’s awesome!”

Our conversation got a little carried away, for we seemingly forgot about Beth and Cambray who were several strides behind us. For what it was worth though, it looked as though our acquaintance was quickly turning into a friendship. That friendship however, and the respect it garnered came under jeopardy when we heard the singing of the national anthem beyond the stadium walls, a signal that our arrival had been a late one. To add to the dire circumstance, I had to go to the bathroom… really bad.

“Hey, why can’t I relieve myself and show my patriotic support all at the same time?” I asked myself. The question was a valid one, and I couldn’t find any objection within me that told me not to, even though I only took a few seconds to think about it. So in total support of America and all of the blessings she has given me, I entered the porta-potty and belted out the lyrics to the Star Spangle Banner, a song that has always filled me with pride and jubilance every time it’s been played, while all at the same time taking a whiz, a move that further rendered our presence as suspect.

Unfortunately for Beth, Blake and Cambray, that was only the beginning of my obnoxious behavior, as I couldn’t help but notice every passing Packer fan through the halls of the stadium and acknowledging their presence with at least a high-five and a favorable comment. And I do have to say, the Packers had a rather plentiful showing, even though they were in foreign territory. The excitement held deep inside all of us to see Aaron Rodgers and company play in person was evident. With me though, it was just too great to keep bound, and I let it show in the most impudent of ways.

“You know, the University of Washington did a study and showed that those cheeseheads cause brain damage,” the man next to me said as we took our seat. It was the first of many jabs we were to receive from Shi—Sea… Seahawk fans (c’mon man, get a grip on yourself) in the form of curses, raised middle fingers, and a pointed finger slowly sliding perpendicularly across a tensed net, all by gnarly looking dudes who could easily play convincing roles as homicidal maniacs in one of those crime dramas on TV.

“Well, that’s because UW did the study. You have to go to WSU if you want it done right,” I replied, a surprisingly quick and witty response.

“Wait, you went to WSU too?” asked a woman in front of me. She was 38 years old (probably around 43 or 45 now), a Seahawks fan, and she had already fallen in love with me. So naturally I talked to her. I can’t help it! I kind of get a kick out of older babes hitting on me (although she looked babe enough to me, Cambray insisted that she wasn’t, but for all intents and purposes, and for the fact she was flirting with me, we’ll refer to her as a babe anyway). “…I dare ya to stand up, point your arm and yell ‘First Down,’ the next time the Packers get a first down.” Easy. 

“FIRST DOWN!” I yelled, pointing my hand in the direction the Packers were marching after the next play was over, a notion that made my new 38-year-old love laugh hysterically. The move wasn’t exactly well received with the other fans, as two black girls (only calling them black to provide an accurate description that will help differentiate them between the other characters in the story, and that’s it. I know some of you out there get all worked up about that crap, so I figure I’ll add this disclaimer. Gosh, the things you have to do to cover your buns against the PC police these days…) whipped around and shot me dirty looks. “What?” I said, shrugging my shoulders and sending a sheepish look back their direction. “I love my team, what can I say?”

As what happens with every outing where alcohol is consumed, the trips to the bathroom became very frequent, and each trip back included a bunch of high-fives to Packer fans and a beverage in hand that would cause me to repeat the vicious cycle. “I’m getting a beer, what do you want Cambray?”

“I’ll do a Roman Coke.”

“Uh… I don’t think they have those. Are you ok with a regular one? I can’t imagine that they’d be that much better imported.”

“No, you see, you get a Coke, and I’ll make it a Roman Coke when you come back.”

“I don’t get it? You’re not even Italian, let alone Roman. How can you make a Roman Coke?”

“Just… get me a regular coke please.”

“That’s all you had to say! Coming right up!”

A few minutes passed and I returned with a beer for me and a Coke for Cambray. “Here you go,” I said to her while handing her the bottle. Immediately she began taking sips then adding her secret stash of alcohol to it. “Oh, you’re mixing Rum and Coke, why didn’t you say so? Wait, it’s Rodgers, and he’s rolling out. He’s passing and… TOUCHDOWN!” We ripped and roared, but the celebration was short lived. The two black girls whipped around once more to deliver another set of dirty looks. Oh great.

“Zack, those girls really like you,” said Blake. “They’re just acting tough, that’s all.”

“I don’t know man, they look like they’re pretty mad every time they turn around.”

“But that’s the key. They keep on turning around, just for you! Trust me…”

A few series later, the Seahawks scored a touchdown. My 38-year-old lover made me give her a high five and the rest of the Seahawk fans cheered on… all except for two. In an unprecedented move, the two black girls whipped around once again, and with them came the same pair of dirty looks that had disturbed us several times over.

“What? You guys did a good job and I’m clapping for you! I like you guys, and I want to like you! We can be friends, I know we can!” My radiant smile and exuberant personality was just too powerful for them to repel, and a smile began creeping up on their face, growing larger until it turned into a couple of laughs. “See, I knew we would be friends!”

A few seats down Blake nodded his head in approval with a big smile on his face to give me a message. “Told Ya!”

The 4th quarter was nearing an end with the Packers ahead and in total command of the game, drawing an exodus of fans from the stadium in order to beat the traffic rush. The two black girls gave me one more set of dirty looks that quickly turned friendly, each of us sharing a hug before parting ways. And sadly, it was time for my 38-year-old lover and I to say our goodbyes. We were never to see each other again, for the future tension between our two teams would never allow it, but she forever sealed our fate that day with a kiss on the cheek, a kiss I will hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life. I guess not all Seahawks fans are bad after all…

When it was all said and done, it was just Beth, Blake, Cambray and I left to watch our team march onto victory. They stuck with me through my vociferous outbursts, unruly behavior, and took the brunt of dirty language, inappropriate gestures, and heckles delivered on my behalf, all with a smiles on their faces the whole time. Eventually we made an exodus of our own up to Capitol Hill to celebrate with friends, not all of who were Packer fans, but who would certainly recognize and rejoice in the accomplishment nonetheless.

During that walk up the hill, I couldn’t help but look at Beth and Blake and reflect on the day’s events, having just learned a great number of things that night. 1: The Packers were going to win the Super Bowl that year (which they did, beating Pittsburgh 31-25). 2: I had made a new friend, one who had easily earned my respect. And 3: Beth and Blake were the real deal, and I had a feeling that this was going to be one that lasted a long, long time.

Packers Game 2010

My 38-Year-Old Lover even took a picture of us at the game!

***

A great man (but not a particularly wise man) by the name of Forrest Gump once said, “I may not be a smart man, but I do know what love is…”

Love is a funny thing. We see it all around us, written in books, shown to us in movies and TV shows, and sung through beautiful renditions created by the likes of Norah Jones and Jewel. The word itself gets thrown around freely between friends and family all the time!

Yet, I don’t think we truly understand it, or even how to spot it, even if it’s staring us right in the face. Ask a thousand people what love is and you’d get a thousand different answers. But somehow, in that moment where you’re standing next to somebody, that one person out of a million that somehow can read your exact mood as if they have access to your mind, the one who can erase every pernicious thought built inside your head with a simple gesture of a smile, that one person who you would unequivocally travel to the darkest reaches of the Earth for, your body musters up a single feeling that blots out all other possible feelings; a feeling that grinds the brain into a pile of mush, leaving the heart to do the talking, an organ void of rational thought. You’re stuck with a feeling of complete submission, the equivalent to a giant black hole that within a moment’s notice sucks you in and doesn’t allow you to escape, an unconditional emotion that will never falter, no matter what hardship or tragedy arises. It’s an emotion stronger than the rest, one that conquers and endures till the end and whose simple essence by itself nearly proves the existence of God.

You’re left with the feeling of love, a love that’s impossible to understand, but perfectly known. You know, because the person standing next to you is feeling the same exact thing.

It was love that was on display in the heart of the motherland, and it was their love that was shared with us that afternoon through a set of heartfelt vows delivered emotionally. A love expressed not only between them, but also towards Jordan. His presence strengthened their love for one another, created an inseparable bond that would not be broken, a special type of bond called family. And on that day, they would officially become one.

And though that love was shared and celebrated amongst us, it was only a glimpse of what was actually between them. And how could it be anything more with such a complex subject? It’s no wonder that love is the one feeling that’s celebrated with such a grandiloquent occasion like a wedding. But even the most spectacular, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian types of weddings can even come close to providing the justice love deserves. It’s just simply not possible! So as humans, we do the best we can, and celebrate and rejoice at the phenomenon, that for a moment, we are part of something bigger and more powerful than any material object or selfish desire; something bigger than our good looks, Mercedes-Benz, the Gran Tetons, Steel Reserve, punch cards, Bar Tender Babes, Seahawks Babes, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, Packer Babes, Farm Babes, Boundary—uh, I won’t go that far, but the list goes on! And in the end, we get to be a part of love, something well worth traveling 2500 miles for, something we can either look back and remember a time years ago where we were up with the same exact feeling, or something that we can someday look forward to with a wedding of our own.

We watched in delight as Beth and Blake were pronounced husband and wife. Their love was sealed with a kiss, and Bill, Gretch and I joined the rest of the guests with a set of raucous cheers. Each one of us in attendance had a reason for being there, had the honor of being a part of their lives in some special way, to help guide them to this moment. Some were friends who had gained trust and respect from years of sticking together through the best and worst of what life has to offer, never turning their back when terrible decisions have been made, and having the ability to say the difficult things that nobody is willing to say or make the tough decisions that nobody else is willing to make. Others were family, integral people in their lives that spent years helping to mold them into the people they have become, no matter how hard it could be at times.

For me, I was just glad to be that person who could put a smile on their face and consistently make their lives better simply by being the person I was meant to be. That maybe, through the help of a Packer game 5 years prior, I played a part in making love come to life, whether it was love at first sight, or love that was always there, waiting to be discovered.

And who knew that 5 years later, what started with the Green Bay Packers would come full circle and end in Wisconsin, the motherland and rightful home to the greatest football team ever to grace the Earth. That alone was enough to celebrate.

And celebrate we would, for it wasn’t the end, but merely the beginning. It was the beginning of a life of full of adventure, wonderful people, and everlasting memories for each of them. And what better way to start such a celebration than with a reception filled with best friends and family indulging in an overabundance of boisterous dancing, fireworks and alcohol? I don’t know about Bill and Gretch, but that was a plan that I couldn’t wait for; a plan that I was definitely onboard with…

Chapter 1: Out of the Vein, Part 1: The Road to Wisco

Seattle to Boise

The look on Megan Mill’s face matched that of a soldier’s moments before he was to storm the beaches of Normandy. It was the beginning of a dreadful two-week long heat wave across the Pacific Northwest with scorching temperatures that would result in a large number of forest fires and grumpy residents all across the region. Hoopfest just so happened to land on the onset of those treacherous two weeks, with Megan Mills being one of the many unlucky souls who had volunteered to suffer.

“110 degrees, are you kidding me?” said Megan Mills, not at all enthused at the extended weather report displayed on her phone.

“…Man, that really sucks Megan Mills.” It was pretty much the only response Bill and I could give for what the participants of the annual 3 on 3 basketball tournament in Spokane, Washington were doomed to endure. The once energetic outing that brought about the most competitive of stars to test their skills on the court each year was now a ticking time bomb of gloom, a definite death sentence for all of its attendees.

“People like, die in this kind of weather! We won’t even be able to sit down on the pavement it’ll be so hot! And you know they never provide enough shade, and what about water? They better have water… God, we have to play at least three games. This is going to suck… big time…” Yes, the further Megan Mill’s talked of this year’s Hoopfest and the thought of her buns being given a permanent branding whenever she was to sit down on the sweltering pavement, the further her face filled with despair; preparing the eulogy to her own funeral.

It was an expression that was in stark contrast to the one’s on my and Bill’s face, for the heat wave she talked of was one that would not be felt by either of us. The trunk of my Mercedes-Benz E350 was nearly packed, ready to embark on an adventure, away from this retched two-week hot spell of which they spoke of, and that we were conveniently avoiding.

 

***

 

“So where are we going to stay?” asked Bill the night before as we shared a beer at a local bar in downtown Boise, a fancier joint that had a nice collection of microbrews, one that we were slightly underdressed for.

“Um, well, I guess I hadn’t really thought of that… Maybe we’ll just wing it or something.”

“Hmm. Sounds like we probably should’ve planned this a little better.”

“Ahh, we’ll figure it out. We got friends all over the place. Denver, Minnesota, Wisconsin—hey, doesn’t Shaun live in Pocatello?

“Yea, maybe we should call him up.”

“Ok, I think I will.”

At that point, how we would get there, what sights we would see, which locals we would meet, what stories we would excavate from their heads, and all the other important matters obviously weren’t given the appropriate amount of thought as it probably should have. “Oh well, too late now!” I thought to myself. Any worry of the matter would be useless. We had a little over a week to make it to Wisconsin to watch our friends Beth and Blake unite under the banner of holy matrimony (i.e. get married, get hitched, jump the broom, whatever…), and despite our lack of planning, we were excited, and we were almost ready, and all there was between us was 2,500 miles of country.

 

***

 

The extrovert inside of me was in full display that morning as Bill and I prepared for our departure with a few last minute to-do items left on our non-existent checklist, delaying Megan Mill’s of a departure of her own with our non-stop chatter, whose only supposed purpose was to further fuel her anxiety. “Hey Megan Mills, what do you think of Donald Trump? He might be the president someday? Oh boy, he sure does speak his mind! Are you mad? What about Bruce Jenner—“

“That’s Caitlin Jenner!”

“…Right, so sorry. He just got a—“

“SHE!”

“…Yes, oh boy, my mistake. She just got a major award. That’s going to turn the sport world upside down! And what time are you heading out to Spokane? You probably want a head start—you know, now that I think about it, I wish you would’ve told me! You could’ve stayed at my parent’s place, free of rent… oh, you’re staying at KCR’s in Kellogg? Geez, that’s like an hour away! Oh well, I guess it could be worse, but I bet Gretch will be complaining the whole time…”

Unbeknownst to me, an important meeting was awaiting Megan Mills at work, and it was her own politeness towards her guest that was the cause for her late exodus, one that risked an unfavorable chance of getting fired, or at least harsh chastisement from her superiors, a scenario equally as bad. Her tension was in full display each time she reached for the door, unwilling to show offense with a blunt statement in order to end the conversation. I, however, was blinded by an excitement steadily built up during my 7-hour drive from Seattle the day before, where a wonderful night’s sleep on her couch did nothing to curb the sensation. It was way beyond anyone’s control at this point. “By the way, where’s Gretch? Shouldn’t she be here to wish us goodbye?”

“I don’t know. Ask Bill, she’s his sister.”

“She’s your best friend Megan Mills!” he shot back.

“I can’t believe this!” I said, throwing up my hands in disbelief. “I drive all the way to Boise, and she can’t even stop by and say hi… a bunch of bull crap if you ask me.

“Tell me about it,” replied Bill. “And get this. She expects us to pick her up at the airport. Fat chance!”

“I agree!” It was quite apparent that morning that Megan Mill’s gracious spirit would not be properly recreated by a certain Boise resident, of whom I was more than willing to meet and share a few polite words with, up until now. I mean, c’mon! All we asked for was a simple goodbye from a friend, and in some regards, a relative; one goodbye that would bring luck to a couple of hunks who were about to travel thousands of miles across the country… luck that was expected, but never received. It was official. Gretch had stood us up. “Whatever. That just pisses me off. Where’s my freaking Rockstar?

“Where was the last place you left it?” asked Bill.

“I don’t know! Obviously I would’ve checked there if I knew!”

“I saw one sitting on the counter. I put it in the fridge a couple of minutes ago,” said Taylor, Megan Mills’ boyfriend.

“…Oh, thanks dude… Say Taylor, you’re from Wyoming, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am. You guys planning to cruise through there?”

“…YEA—duh, I mean no—well, the thought crossed our minds,” replied Bill.

“Yea, it’d probably be cool to see the Gran Tetons or something, if that’s even cool to do nowadays.”

Gretch’s actions, or lack there of, would no doubt prove to be detrimental given the amount of festering that was to be done while driving through flyover country. However, her inconsideration was set-aside for the moment, as picking Taylor’s brain became our principal priority. Besides, we would have plenty of time to plot our revenge on the road.

“Yea, the Tetons are cool, but damn, Jackson Hole is crawling around with waaay too many tourists this time of year. It kind of sucks dealing with them all. It’s like none of them have ever seen a wild animal in their entire life. ‘Oh my God, it’s a moose,’ somebody will say, and everybody looses their damn minds!” I took in Taylor’s advice with great deference while Bill gathered a variety of Cliff bars that Megan Mills had kindly bought for us, knowing we were in for some long stretches. “Just don’t draw attention to the fact that you’re a tourist and you should be fine. All you gotta do is treat the locals coolly and calmly, and they’ll give with the same respect.”

“Understood,” I replied, with a heavy and sincere nod. “Yea, those types of people can be pretty ridiculous,” reaffirming his annoyance and scoffing in mockery of the stereotype. “Not me though.”

In time, the unfortunate working souls found their window of escape after I sporadically decided to burn a few calories around the block before our departure, presuming it would be difficult to continue with my normal exercise regiment during vacation, no matter how hard I tried. By the time I had returned and cleansed my body of the thick membrane of sweat developed during my run, it was only Bill, their two cats and I left.

With Taylor and Megan Mill’s gone, and Gretch—well, Gretch was pretty much dead to us at that point—there was nothing left for us to do. Our bags were packed, our teeth were brushed, deodorant applied, and after several months of anticipation, it was time. “You ready,” I asked Bill, having climbed into the Benz, waiting for his answer before turning the ignition.

“Did you ever get a hold of Shaun?”

“I did. Looks like we’re staying in Pocatello tonight.”

“Poci huh? I’ve heard… things…” Bill looked forward and took a deep and anxious breath. “I’m ready.”

I cracked open my ice-cold Rockstar Energy drink and took a long swig, letting the wonderfully processed chemicals assimilate into my bloodstream, something I would come to depend on throughout the duration of our trip. The engine turned and I pulled my Gucci sunglasses over my eyes. “Let’s do this. Say goodbye to Boise.”

“…Goodbye Boise…” Bill’s goodbye was soft and sentimental, as if it were his parent’s on his first summer at camp. His stare was blank as we pulled out of Megan Mills’ driveway, on our way towards Interstate I-94.

It’s hard to accurately describe the feeling one gets at the beginning of an adventure in a single word or phrase. It’s like a turning point, or a crossroads where a false known awaits you. There’s an intriguing element around the corner, yet a slight sorrow that exists over what you’re leaving behind, and what you’ll eventually come back to. And whatever sorrow you’re feeling is partly overcome by a sense of accomplishment, taking part in something not many have ever attempted before you, something proudly displayed like a medal of honor. It leaves you in a state of ponder, encouraging you to begin your search, to try and understand the mysteries of life.

And we had more than plenty of road to ponder, search and understand in front of us…

The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” played through the speakers, a personal tradition of mine to mark the beginning of a journey as official, and into the east we drove with the ongoing keyboard loop to one of the greatest rock songs ever made, pushing us towards several more hours of daylight. It was now officially official. Our adventure had begun.

“Oh, by the way, do you mind if we stop at Carl’s Jr. before we go?”

The Sweethearts of MSP

A couple years back, there was this Tom Hanks flick that came out about a foreign dude who went to the US, but for some reason or another, got stuck in the airport. So instead of trying to get out, he kind of starts living and working there I think. I mean, I don’t exactly know what happened, I never saw the stinkin’ movie, and really have no intention of ever seeing it to be perfectly honest; it just happened to keep popping up as one of the previews on a DVD I bought one time. And besides, I think it got pretty crappy reviews, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say I didn’t really miss out on much.

That being said, the concept of that movie made me wonder, “what if I was ever in that situation? What would I do, and where I would go? And most importantly, what airport would I be stuck in if I had the choice?” Because to tell you the truth, I kind of like hanging out in airports, ever since I was a young lad following my dad around on his business trips. There’s something about all of the commerce, mechanical progression, and businessmen reading the Wall Street Journal just like my pops that I always found intriguing. In one trip you may pass a Fortune 500 CEO on his way to making a multi-million dollar, world-changing deal in a major metropolis, or sit next to the next a future rock star, and not even have the slightest clue. All the while, you’re helplessly at the mercy of a pilot and his plane, unable to act if the plane is late, has mechanical problems, or if they simply don’t want to fly until a later time, leaving you with a prolonged layover that everyone seems to dread.

There’s an airport however that always stuck out with me above and beyond the rest; one, being that it’s a hub for Delta Airlines, I found myself frequenting time and time again. It’s a place where long layovers are celebrated, for it means getting to grab a bite to eat at Ike’s, a local favorite that happens to be named after my old man, where the food is always delicious and Minnesota’s best beer, the Surly Furious, flows furiously down your throat. And after a hearty lunch and a couple of refreshing brews, there’s always time to stop for at least a round or two of pinball at one of the many video arcades placed throughout the airport before having to catch your next flight.

Of course, there’s only one airport that could ever fit this wonderful description, and that’s the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. Aka, MSP.

MSP: Such a beautifully designed airport, from the terminal layout to the shopping centers and food courts, and even down to the fine details of the small amenities, whether it be the pristine nature of each bathroom, or how they fill the terminal gates and restaurants with complimentary iPads for lunch ordering, web surfing, game playing, and much more as you wait for your turn to board your flight. And although there’s something about implementing technology into societal infrastructure and commerce that really impresses me, my strong penchant towards MSP most likely stems from vivid memories throughout the years, like blazing through the shopping center between Concourses D and E on my skateboard, weaving through tables, chairs, and bodies, barely making my flight with merely seconds to spare, or spending a whole 5 dollars at the Aurora Borealis arcade in Concourse C (which in the 90’s was a lot) in response to getting bumped to the next flight. We kids knew full well that whenever the flight attendants announced that they were looking for volunteers to be bumped, it meant that we were soon to be bribed with fast food, candy, and money for the arcade among other goodies just so my parents could score a hefty sum of airline vouchers without upsetting us.

Lately however, I can’t help but feel that my presence in MSP has been nothing short of corrupting. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I’m in the Midwest, I’m on my best behavior! The people are some of nicest and down to Earth you’ll ever meet, especially in Wisconsin, the number one state in the world! But for some reason, even when I’m practicing my upmost proper etiquette in an attempt to blend in as a polite young man in Midwest society, trouble always seems to follow me, to the point where it’s beginning to rear its ugly head onto some of the most innocent among us: the little sweethearts of MSP. And sadly, nothing has been more adducing to this revelation than my most recent trip…

We landed into MSP that afternoon where I was to make a connection back to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, or “SeaTac” as it’s commonly referred to by the locals. As usual, everybody had the tenacious urge to stand up in the aisle as soon as the seatbelt sign turned off, as if they’re getting an edge on everybody else doing the same exact thing. The whole thing baffles me every time. Nobody ever goes anywhere for 10 minutes, and everybody get’s all hot and bothered over the fact that they can’t get off the plane! Hello people! We’ve been through this drill several times before! We all know what’s going to happen, that we’re going to get stuck and then all upset just like last time. But even with all that valuable knowledge, we still find ourselves jumping out of our seats as soon as we hear that pleasant sounding ring throughout the cabin like a bunch of middle-aged moms at a Brett Michaels concert!

Not me though. I just keep my cool and stay perfectly content in my seat. What can I say? I just know better, and don’t buy into the false hope like everybody else.

So after patiently sitting in my seat for 10 minutes and watching as the frequent business travelers scoffed at grandma getting her bag out of the overhead, I causally gathered my belongings and headed off the plane in a peaceful manner. However, my pace seemed a little slow as I hit the jet way. I looked down to investigate the situation, only to see a behemoth bulging at the seams, barely containing its contents while it magically moved in an evanescent motion down the jet way. Upon further inspection of this phenomenon, I was able to deduce a scientific explanation much more miraculous than my previous observation: a little 5-year-old girl with unnatural gorilla-like strength was dragging this monster on wheels behind her the whole time.

Her wardrobe was impeccable in nature, cruising in shin-high, zebra-striped boots, which seamlessly blended with her purple tights and bright yellow coat with a heavy fur lining. The leopard printed suitcase behind her must have been her mother’s, clearly twice her size and weight, and no doubt over regulation size for carry-on luggage. Being that her mom was a bit of a babe, I’m guessing she easily got away with taking it on board.

I hovered behind and watched as she struggled to pull the giant mass off the plane, weaving and heaving, stamping her feet as if each step was an attempt to make the largest splash in long line of rain puddles, finding herself nearly losing balance and tipping over at every few seconds. No matter the pain, struggle, or excruciating strength drained with each tow, she kept on chugging along, never quitting, volunteering as a grateful daughter to carry this large burden for her mother at any cost, exhibiting more honor than a character in an Ernest Hemmingway novel, with twice the determination. I was tempted to pass her and not think twice about the act, except her position on the jet way was just enough to make a pass a completely awkward ordeal, something I wasn’t willing to do in front of her babe of a mother. And besides, this was just too cute not to miss.

She kept on glancing back for a look of approval, giving the suitcase a nice great tug, sending it forward a foot or two before the forces of friction and gravity sent the rolling suitcase to a dead stop, nearly pulling the little girl back the opposite direction, but using all of her might to thrust it forward again and repeat the process once more. Just when I thought she had reached the point of total exhaustion, her legs somehow found a way to keep moving forward in a steady direction, never losing sight of the goal, pulling the suitcase forward once again.

“Mommy, we’re almost to the top of the-“

POP! She went down like the crack of a whip. The wheels of the suitcase locked, setting her up for a catapult, slamming her face first into the stained floor, just beyond the metal grate that had been the catalyst for  the deadly fulcrum. She lay there motionless in the belly flop position, crushed under the weight of an over-bloated suitcase, as the heavy boom of her head crashing against the dirty ground of the jet way reverberated into the terminal. I nervously awaited the inevitable cryfest, and the arrival of the MSP Medical Staff.

“Whoa! That was an ouchie-oochie!”

And that was it. There was no ear splitting scream, no tear swellings around the eyes, not even a slight cry for help; only a hasty effort to jump back to her feet and plot along, just like a trooper…

I couldn’t believe it! Half of the grown men I know would be pouting in fury if something like that ever happened to them (Ben Woodward comes to mind). I froze in awe, watching her as she trotted down the rest of the jet way unscathed, gradually fading into the focal points of the long path into the terminal, the suitcase a constant foot behind. It was a mixture of honor and pride that I felt at that moment, having been given the privilege of standing in the presence of possibly the future first woman governor of Minnesota, a candidate of whom I would vote for in a heartbeat.

After a minute of initial shock, I was able to regain my bearings and travel on through the airport. But for some reason, I just couldn’t shake the image of that cute little girl’s head pounding into the ground at maximum velocity. I tried everything, a quick pit stop at Ike’s, sucking down a Surly Furious or two, and even a few rounds of pinball at Aurora Borealis. But no matter what I did, the slam replayed itself over and over again in my head, like the monotony of that DVD movie menu that keeps repeating itself, poking at your semi-conscious state long after you’ve passed out on the couch during the movie.

In the end, I considered myself lucky. Her speedy recovery was nothing short of a miracle, even taking into account her undisputed determination. And all the while, I couldn’t help but wonder if my presence had anything to do with this tragedy. Maybe the choice I made to sit in the seat I did on the exact flight the little girl was on because of an itinerary change I made to hang out with a friend of whom I met because I chose to go to my other friend’s house that one time in college and offer him a beer which happened to be his favorite of which I decided to buy at gas station for some random reason… heck, I could go on to the moment I was born with this crap!

The point is, the universe works in mysterious ways, and all I know is, maybe it was inadvertently my fault that this little girl biffed it, and maybe it would never have happened if I had never boarded that plane to in the first place. It was a deep thought I had to ponder for a long while before I could fully understand what my mind was trying to tell me. Unfortunately though, my once modest layover was coming to a close, so I pounded my last Surly Furious and headed to my gate that was beginning the process of boarding.

It was a full flight, I could tell because the flight attendants at the front desk kept nagging me before hand to check my carry-on luggage to my final destination. Screw that noise. My bags stay with me!

I was positioned in the middle seat, probably the crappiest seat in the row. You don’t have the window to lean your head on if you want to take a nap, you’re constantly in a battle over the arm rests with the other passengers, and if you have to get up to go to the bathroom, you’re going to bug somebody! To be honest though, the whole having to go to the bathroom thing doesn’t bother me too much, for I rarely get up to go anyway. Once during a trip to Guam, I sat in my seat for 11 hours straight without even having the urge to get up to take a whiz, something I’m still proud of to this day! It’s whenever some coffee drinkin’ nerd has to go next to me, causing a disturbance in my perfect little oasis, where I have to position myself appropriately just so he can get out and relieve himself. And 9 times out of 10, it turns out to be a violation of my personal bubble.

But anyway, everybody settled into their seat and Delta began its corny safety presentation which included a red headed lady explaining what to do if the plane goes down and/or blows up, while people in the background make terrible jokes to make us feel good about the whole thing. It didn’t really work too well on me, because it was somewhere during that video presentation where I ended up passing out. It’s weird, one minute I’m staring at a video screen, the next minute I’m out cold! I don’t understand it, because the same thing happens to my mom whenever she watches a movie too! Maybe it’s hereditary…

It was only about an hour of snoozing before I woke from a sudden burst of turbulence in the cabin; nothing major where everybody starts freaking out, but just enough to leave me restless with a couple hours to kill during the flight. “Oh geez, what to do?” I asked myself. Luckily, I had a couple movies I could watch that had somehow magically showed up on my computer’s hard drive one day…

Honestly, that’s what happened! I don’t condone illegally downloading movies onto any computer whatsoever (except when it comes to Game of Thrones, but that’s a different story that involves politics, a topic I refuse to delve into on this blog, ever). It just so happened that one time I let a friend use my laptop, and “POOF,” I had like 20 new movies to watch! One of those movies happened to be “Aliens,” the sequel to the 1979 thriller, “Alien.” Both are sci-fi classics and have made quite the dent in American pop culture, inclining me towards the choice to watch it.

I resumed the movie exactly at the point where it starts to get good… Real good: A group of marines stumble across a life form on the ravaged interplanetary colony they’re exploring. It’s a young lady, pale in the face and covered in slime, glued to the walls of the colony as if she’s stuck in some sort of interstellar cocoon. She slowly raises her head drenched in sweat, her eye rotated upward to the ceiling.

“…Kill… me…” she stammers. It’s all she can squeak out, barely finding the strength to blurt out a final, desperate request, seconds before her chest begins to expand and contract rapidly. The convulsions become more frequent and severe, while a giant bulge pounds from the inside of her stomach outward, until finally, the pressure is too great and her skin rips apart. Blood flies everywhere and out pops a baby alien, rearing its atrocious head out into the atmosphere. The marines waste no time burning this abomination into annihilation.

And from that point on I was hooked! The aliens kept coming, and the marines kept blasting. The action never stopped and the time flew by! It was almost like I never wanted this plane ride to end!

After a good hour of what played out as a constant barrage of blood, guts, and bullets, I had reached the movie’s climax: Ripley, the movie’s hero, frees Newt, the colony’s 10-year-old lone survivor, who had found herself stuck in one of those cocoon like structures covered in alien sludge, barely averting having her face sucked off by this egg like creature who folds open a couple flaps and slides a slimy tentacle-like appendage outward that raps around its victim and attacks their mouth.

Upon their escape, Ripley and Newt stumble upon a nest. They look outward, overwhelmed and aghast at the sight of 100’s of the same egg type creatures that attempted to infect Newt moments before. Slowly, the camera pans from an abdomen like figure, an intestinal track at least 5 feet in diameter stretching far across the room forming into a colon, where a defecation of eggs are spat out at a constant rate. Then, a close up of the anathema, a black and boney hag that resembles an overgrown preying mantis with drool and alien slime dripping from every pore of her treacherous body. She opens her mouth, lets out a snarl, and out pops another mouth, exposing the vicious teeth of the grotesque alien queen. James Cameron is one sick bastard.

Ripley shakes her head and mashes her lips together in anger and annoyance, for she’s just sick and tired of all these aliens! All the space traveling, slimy cocoons, flying alien babies, dying marine soldiers, and alien blasting cultivates into a facial expression that screams, “F this!” She cocks her weapon and blasts away at the disgusting pile of vermin that lies before her; the eggs, alien colon/egg maker, and all.

The woman is literally possessed! Her eyes widen, teeth grit, and her whole body violently shakes while the machine gun that resembles the BFG-2000 in Doom oscillates with each rapid succession of bullets firing from the barrel of the gun. Alien blood flies in every which direction, spewing puddles of thick, yellow acid all across the floor.

Ripley’s BFG runs out of bullets, a crisis she couldn’t be more pleased of. She flicks a switch, re-cocks the gun, and out flies a grenade, piercing into the belly of the alien queen, followed by 5 more. A second later, the intestinal track explodes and a flood of embryonic fluid bursts out of the open gash, resulting in an deluge of alien flesh, blood, gore, and other foreign liquids plastered across my computer screen. Her grenades run out, but still, she’s far from finished.

A giant, bursting flame explodes out of the gun barrel, targeted at the nest. A chilling, high pitched squeal stabs at my eardrums, the sound of a hundred abominable creatures crying their last breath of air. This doesn’t falter Ripley’s objective of incessant deprecation, torching every non-human creature in sight until every alien being in that room is nothing but a pile of charcoal. Upon their exodus is the decadence of a once flourishing breeding ground, reduced to decimated piles of organic matter, shred to pieces and left as a mixture of bodily juices and tissue spread across the ground, the reminiscence of extraterrestrial life caught ablaze by the wrath of one woman’s ambition for destruction. The holocaust was complete.

“Jesus Christ!” I muttered under my breath, having just witnessed one of the most nefarious scenes in the history of film. I leaned back in my seat and looked toward the aisle, taking a break from the intensity that lay before me. “How could anybody watch that and not be affected by its dete—“

That thought abruptly dropped out of my head. My eyes turned down, fixated on a much more urgent matter—a round, dark face, the lips separated, hanging naturally open with an amorphous line of mucus running from the upper lip to the nostrils, signifying that it hadn’t been wiped in some time. Nappy strands of brown hair frayed beyond the limits of her shoulders, suggesting that it had missed a much needed combing. Above the nose was a pair of blue eyes, just like Newt’s, permanently transfixed on an intractable object, a position that had not wavered for much of the trip’s tenure. I followed the line of vision, leading to images of detestable violence—my computer screen. My oblivious nature prevented me from realizing that I had a companion during the viewing of this on-screen massacre—a 6-year-old little girl… Uh oh…

This was bad. Really bad! What was I to do? The damage had been done, her innocence had been ruined, and she had witnessed the R-rated horror fest and already been scarred for life! Every night from this day forward, she’d wake up from a frightening dream where she’s stuck in an alien nest while an unknown parasitic creature explodes out of her stomach! We’re talking the possible first female governor of Minnesota, whose dream is in danger of being forever lost! I quickly forged a plan inside my head, clever and cunning, to relieve me from this current crisis. It was going to work. It had to work, or else…

I shut my laptop, put it away, and started reading a book, acting as if nothing had ever happened. Nobody was the wiser, and the girl didn’t move a single inch the rest of the trip, not even to wipe the constant molasses-paced flow of snot oozing from her nose, which further accumulated on the bridge of her upper lip; her eyes stuck on the back of my seat as if the movie were still playing. Her father didn’t suspect a thing, drinking a coffee and too focused on solving a Sudoku on the other side of me, a stroke of luck that may have proved to be essential to my survival. What a nerd!

On the outside, I was cool and content, nothing to fret about while reading my literary classic. I guess you can say it’s a testament to my superb acting skills, for inside, my heart was beating fiercely and my mind was spinning with extreme paranoia. How in the world was I suppose to focus on this stupid book with the knowledge that I just ruined some young sweetheart’s innocence? And what was the point of reading anyway? I mean 1984? Really? Orwell was way off the mark on that one!

We began our decent, the longest one in the history of aviation. With my head buried in my book, I made quick glances every other minute to monitor the situation, holding onto a false sense of hope of getting out of this unscathed. To my left: the father was still stuck on his puzzle. Man, this guy really sucks at Sudoku! To the right: no change, except for a slight tremble throughout her body that seemed to become more violent with each glance.

The plane landed and crept into its designated gate. I swear the pilot must be 100 years old or something. Any slower and we’d have been moving backwards!

I looked at the dad. Son of a B, he’s finally figuring it out. I look back at the little girl—oh God, I can’t take it anymore! I’m about to explode. Hurry old man, I need off this freaking plane!

“Calm yourself, man,” I tell myself. Making a scene will just make matters worse. You have your stuff packed. There is still time. Breathe man, breathe, deep and slow. The nerd next to you still hasn’t finished his Sudoku. You have time. R-E-L-A-X. The plan is set… Good, you’re calming! You know what you need to do. Just wait, and breathe… Breathe… Brea—

“BUM.”

The seatbelt sign turns off. I pop out of my seat and slide past the little girl and into the aisle. What great finesse. I wish I had time to acknowledge my smooth exit. I look down the aisle—nothing but empty space. I’m out of here—

“Crap!” My carry-on!” I open the overhead and swiftly swing it out from above; a waste of two valuable seconds. I’m ready. I turn. I make my escape. I’ll be off this plane in no time—

Too late. One instant, a blissful space of tranquil stillness; the next, utter chaos and congestion, the same effect that a baby loaf of cheese may have on the digestive system. Great… just great.

Oh, and just my luck, I happened to be behind the world’s number one lollygagger of all time. Yea dude, by all means, get in my way, bend your fat butt across the aisle and over stuff your backpack with your iPad, laptop, book, and all the rest of your useless crap while the rest of the aisle fills in front of you. The rest of us are in no hurry. None at all! I’m sure there’s a valid reason why you couldn’t have done all that before hand, like I did.

10 minutes pass… 10 torturous minutes. And man, this dingleberry wouldn’t shut the hell up for the end of the world! His glib smile, the unbearable cackle, the fact the he was casually flirting with all of the 40-year-old mom’s in our vicinity…

“So, I just came back from Africa where I spent a week feeding poor and neglected children. It’s a part of my job of working for a non-profit organization that cares about the lives of the underprivileged in this world while—“

Oh my God. I. Don’t. CARE!!! God that guy was starting to piss me off. Every syllable further enraged my body with a fury that was going to choke the life out of this—

“Breathe man, breathe. There’s still time. Don’t let your anxiety get the best of you. You’re not in trouble yet. Keep your cool. Making a scene will make things worse. Big deep breathes. Breathe man… Breathe… Breathe—“

“Oh, go ahead mam, after you.”

“Oh c’mon! Yes, please miss lady, go and take your sweet ass time getting off the plane! The rest of us certainly have nowhere else to go. I don’t mind at all if it takes you two minutes to grab your suitcase out from the overhead bin and walk down the aisle! And way to be a gentleman Mr. Lollygagger! I’m sure the way you were raised, it was perfectly acceptable to not help an old fart with her suitcase!” Seriously, this dusty old bird was methodically moving in such a fashion that would make watching the flow of crude oil seem like an exciting experience!

A quick glance back to my seat unveiled an imminent mission compromise. My cover was blown. The dad began to suspect that something was wrong with her daughter. Yea, it sure took ya long enough!

But that wouldn’t have mattered either way. I turned back, monitoring the situation through my peripherals. She was talking, a conversation I couldn’t decipher, but intuition had it that she was about to spill the beans. But wait… there was only one more row ahead of me. Almost home free, just breathe man… breathe—

“Oh, better get my carry-on out, sorry guys…”

Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME! Screw that noise! You crossed the line, pushed me over the edge, pulled the last straw, insert hackneyed platitude for having enough! No more Mr. Nice Guy! Move it or lose it chump!

I squeezed past that dingleberry and gave him a nice nudge so my roller suitcase could find a smooth path, and a little extra for all of the trouble he caused. He turned his head blasted a sissy sounding complaint my way, but I didn’t listen. In fact, I didn’t even care! I for one was glad he was mad! My only regret was that I didn’t leave a silent but deadly for him to embrace on his way out.

I scurried down the terminal to catch the shuttle transferring me from S gate to baggage claim, grateful to God that I had made it out in one piece. My moves were brisk, traveling with purpose, but just slow enough not to cause unusual suspicion.

“This doors are about to close…” sounded an automated voice through the shuttle transfer station.

“Not if I can help it!” I made a dash for it, my roller carry-on flopping every which direction in my attempt to hop on the shuttle, spending half its time in the air and the other half dragging on the ground, essentially defeating the purpose of the rollers in general. None of that mattered, not at this moment.

Warning signs plastered the sides of the shuttle doors. “Do not attempt to enter when the doors are closing.” Sure, like it’s going to shut and crush me, and leave while I’m stuck in-between the doors, sending me to my inevitable death. No way they’d create a liability like that, not in such a progressive city like Seattle.

And just as I predicted, the doors shut, then reopened to let me through with ease. In the distance, through the windows of the shuttle car, I saw the little girl and her father rush forward to make it on. The menacing sight of a shutting shuttle door however prevented any attempt to climb on board. What a bunch of suckers! I couldn’t help but form a giant grin across my face, complimented by a feeling as if I had just gotten away with murder as the shuttle accelerated past S gate and onto baggage claim…

I stood at the edge of the escalator, breathing a sigh of relief that this disaster of a trip was near an end, the only thing between the mobile staircase and my home being the Seattle Light Rail, a rather safe and conservative mode of transportation.

It’s kind of a beautiful thing if you think about it. Not the light rail, but that feeling of averting disaster, the moment where you can slow things down and reanalyze the world around you, where every tangible object has a purpose, from the stair railing on the escalator, the headphones stuck in the teenager’s ears behind me, the woman’s pink suitcase to my left, to the wedding ring worn on the elderly man finger in front of me. And each one of these individuals has a unique story of why they’re here on this day, making their way through the SeaTac airport; a story that includes a rich history of love, heartbreak, accomplishment, and adventure among other things. Some of these stories are still just in the beginning stages, as was the case of the young 4-year-old three steps in front of me. From the look in her eyes, it was evident that when it was all said and done, she would a grand story to tell.

Her stance and body posture, surveying the amazement of such a brilliant spectacle of technological ingenuity, glistened like a diamond among the sea of strangers. Never before had she seen a staircase that moved itself. She marveled at the way a simple machine was able to carry such a large aggregate of mass from one floor to another with relatively no effort. It was a vision unlike any other, an endless line of people gathering on a single track, watching them as she grew shorter and shorter while they forever remained higher and growing at a constant pace.

It was at this moment when she discovered her purpose in life and her passion for living. At age 4, she knew she would go on to design some of the greatest machines ever crafted by man. She was to be the world’s greatest engineer, a true specimen of genius and integrity that Ayn Rand could only dream about. Calling her the next Elon Musk or Nikola Tesla would be a compliment to Elon Musk and Nikola Tesla.

And while experiencing the workings of this powerful machine, another vision came to her, obfuscating the physical world around her. She was to battle politicians over erroneous regulations standing in the way of progress, overcome dishonest competition, and get stabbed in the back by the people closest to her, whose only scientific motive in the end would be profit. But she would never give up! And after a lifetime of struggle, sacrifice, and never-ceasing work, she would follow through on her goal of making the world a better place, or die trying. This was the moment, on this descending escalator leading to baggage claim in the SeaTac airport, and I as the witness, that this little 4-year-old girl, brave and full untapped potential, knew that she was destined to change the worl—

Her eyes abruptly grew to the size of grapefruits the moment the escalator reached the bottom and flattened out. She was ill prepared for the dismount with her back turned to the escalator’s edge, resulting in an unfettered and non-uniform wavering of limbs; her knowledge of the newly discovered technology proving to be quite primitive.

It was a loss of balance, followed by a predilection to lean backwards, sending her into a roll, ending with two legs clothed in black tights pointing straight towards the ceiling with its connecting body lying flat on the ground, an unrecoverable position which wavered back and forth on the cusp of static and dynamic foundation. Her body remained at the bottom, ignored by the businessmen who stepped over the cadaver scraping along the edge as if it didn’t exist. She was helpless against the relentless nature of the machine, a soulless creation of blind justice, as all machines are; their good and evil intentions determined by their operator, a lesson this young 4-year-old learned the hard way.

“Audrey… AUDREY!!!”

Judging by the sound of the blood-curdling scream behind me, this little girl’s name was Audrey.

A fierce elbow pressed against my body, and then I watched as the woman, presumably Audrey’s mother, ungracefully scurried down the escalator, plowing over patrons in a desperate attempt to extricate Audrey from the morbid affair she had found herself in.

Audrey’s mother grabbed her from up off the ground and held her tight, saving her from being skinned alive. Audrey clinged tight against her mother in response, hesitant on delivering a reaction, too overwhelmed by the rapid state of affairs that had just taken place, an understandable emotion after a near death experience. Her facial expression matched that of another young girl’s I’d recently seen, of whom unintentionally gazed upon a perturbing scene of intergalactic slaughter.

Then, it hit her. Her senses regained, her eyes swelled, and an effusion of tears released from her cloudy eyes, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs along the ground as Audrey and her mother disappeared into anonymity. A constant scream resonated through the corridors of the parking garage, the sound of a little girl’s dream escaping her body, forever lost into dissipation among the walls of the SeaTac airport, accompanied by a piece of my soul…

It was a very long ride back to Seattle, where again, I found myself pondering the benevolence of my existence. And believe me, on that light rail, you have a LOT of time to think!

I know full well that trouble seems to follow me everywhere I go, and for the most part, I’m able to absorb it as it comes. But this time, I managed to bring this madness upon the most innocent among us, corrupting their lives with my presence, a sin that I fear I may never be able to absolve myself from.

“It’s all probably just a coincidence,” I told to myself. But then again, I’m a very superstitious guy, and have never understood the concept of a coincidence. The thought even crossed my mind of never setting foot in MSP again, the ultimate sacrifice. That was nonsense though. My will isn’t strong enough to ever conceive of such an idea.

More thoughts began to pour into my head, about the universe, and time continuum, and contemplating whether or not my simple presence contributed to the demise of these young sweethearts. “Great, exactly what I need right now.” But unfortunately, you can’t always control what runs through the ol’ noggin.

But the thought that scared me the most was that someday, I may have a little sweetheart of my own roaming through the concourses of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, and who knows what sort of trouble she’ll get herself into. I mean, I’ll sure do my darn best to look after her, but I’m not a perfect specimen by any means, and I’m sure there’s going to be lots of situations that require lots of explanation.

But maybe that’s part of the fun; making mistakes and learning from them, and then teaching everybody else so they don’t make the same mistakes you did? We get to take all of those bad experiences and those sticky situations that we went through over the years and pass them on to our sweethearts to better their lives.

Holy crap, that’s actually a really awesome concept! Man, now that I think of it, I have a lot I can teach! That’s really cool!

And luckily, each one of those sweethearts whose lives I had potentially ruined had somebody looking after them and guiding them along the way, even if they are in fact terrible at Sudoku. We all need somebody looking out for us from time to time, and whether you know it or not, you’re a sweetheart to somebody. Heck, it’s the only way we survive! And sooner or later, we have our own little sweethearts that enter into our lives, old and young that we have the privilege of looking after, whether they be friends, family, boundary babes, Packer babes, running babes, or babes who like Lulu Lemon! They’re all special, and that’s really a wonderful thing!

So when it’s all said and done, with all the crazy things happening in this world, whether it be my fault or not… in the end, I think those sweethearts are going to turn out to be just fine…

And I think mine will too… Someday…

-Grizzly Chadams

A friendly message to my fellow Seahawks fans

Crying Seahawk

It’s football season, and thanks a lot Seattle. You have to go and win a damn Super bowl and make my life freakin’ miserable. Yea, I’m sure it’s all fine and dandy for you guys, meanwhile I’m constantly circumvented by ungodly amounts of Seahawks fans crowding the streets, stuck with a sucky commute for the next 4 months, forced to shell out 350 bones for a crappy seat to a football game, leaving me no choice to go to the bar where it’s a pain in the ass to find a decent place to sit because of the shear number of people who suddenly realized they like football, and now I can’t even make it 10 feet down the street without some dingleberry yelling, “Sea-HAWWKS.”

And of course, I have to sit and listen to at least one person each day make some witless, disparaging comment about my team and then go on about how the Seahawks are so good and all that other bull crap, followed by “Russell Wilson this,” and “Marshawn Lynch that,” and “Richard Sherman’s the best corner in the ga—“

Shut up Richard Sherman. Nobody cares…

Ok, I’m done bloviating. I apologize for the histrionics, it was a little over the top, I know. The truth is, I like a lot of you Seahawks fans, and there are many of you whom I consider my close friends that are well versed in the game of football, people I would stand next to and defend their honor as a true fan. And in a way, now the Seahawks are world champions, it’s kind of fun having a lot more people around to talk about football since the number of fans in the city of Seattle has grown exponentially in the past year, purely by coincidence I’m sure.

But then, there’s that “One Fan…” You know, the guy who’s overly vociferous in nature, an innate instigator, the one who flaunts their team’s success and derides his opponent’s failures. They’re a little bit on the loquacious side and believe their team to be commensurate to the second coming of Jesus. I’m sure you at least know one person like this, and I happened to run into more than a couple of them who let me know quite well their unfavorable attitude towards me during a recent visit to Century Link Field when my favorite team took on the Hawks.

So being the nice guy I am, I collected their mocks and insults and came up with a few pointers to help educate these people, and to give everyone a good reminder on how to remain good sportsmen throughout the season, because God knows we could use it from time to time, especially to make sitting next to that Bears fan at the bar a much more ameliorable experience.

And please, try not to take offense to what I’m about to say. Any criticism, if that’s how you end up seeing it, is only meant to be constructive, because I’ve been in your shoes, and I know how you feel. I too, remember the first time my team was good, and that—

Well, I take that back. My team has always been pretty good throughout the years, even before I was born, so that’s not quite an accurate statement, but I digress. Here are my “12 tips for the 12th Man.”

1) And let’s start with that. You are the 12th man, and you are loud and proud, which is ok. That’s you’re thing, I get that. It’s what makes you unique as a fan base in the NFL.
But please, you don’t have to get all irascible when somebody mentions a comment on how they don’t like going to a Seahawks game because of the noise. In fact, normal people do not like loud noises. Loud noises in most situations make a person quite agitated and very uncomfortable; and throw this person into a crowd of people screaming unmercifully in and around their ears, it makes sense that one would feel a little beleaguered in such a hostile environment, as if they’re surrounded by a group of savages ready to tear their head off!

So again, just so we’re on the same page, let me reiterate. No need to reply with an affectatious scoff because you overheard a random person mention an ingenuous comment about loud noises. Just accept it and move on.

2) I enjoy a little innocuous banter here and there. It’s partly what makes the game so fun! But just as a reminder, a friendly jab at somebody isn’t the same as getting in my face unprovoked, screaming at me, and threatening to beat me up.

Even with that being said, I expect, and can handle, a little belligerence at a game, particularly if I’m rooting for the visiting team. But if you feel it’s necessary to indulge in such inordinate behavior, it would be very appreciative if you would put a tic-tac in your mouth or chew on a piece of gum or something of similar nature beforehand. Nobody likes bad breath, and I myself have very disturbing memories that pop into my head whenever my scent receptors pick up a hint of my grandmother’s old medicine cabinet. I do not the memento, thank you.

3) Also, since we’re on the subject of talking trash, I would advise you not to do it while wearing a Spiderman outfit. It does not make look you “Bad Ass.” It simply makes you look stupid, especially if you’re an adult.

4) If you’re going to bring a sign to an NFL game, I would urge you to try and use some creativity while constructing it. A couple of cardboard cutouts of the male reproductive organ with the opposing team’s name plastered across it is something I’d expect out of a 12-year old, not a group of mid-20 and 30 year olds.

I mean, a bunch of penises? Really guys? Your mother’s must be really proud to have raised such a group of refined sophisticates like yourselves.

5) I know you guys like to teach us how to pronounce the word “Seahawks,” over and over again, but such lessons are quite unnecessary. I am fully aware of the phonetic pronunciation of the word, so belaboring us with its slow incantation becomes pointless after the 12,438th time, mostly because of the fact that the word is surprisingly elementary; a compound word consisting of two syllables, “Sea” (se) and “Hawks” (hoks).

Along that note, you also do not have to augment your voice to make it sound deeper and louder than it actually is. I am a foot in front of you, and I can understand you perfectly, and probably much clearer if you use an inside voice.

One more thing: The fact that you are a 5’ 8” hipster wearing tight pants and thick-rimmed glasses negates any affect of intimidation you may have on me, no matter how many times you repeat the phrase.

6) Girls who are into football: Hot. Girls who are into football and wear football jerseys (even if it’s a Seahawk jersey): Smokin’ hot.

Girls with potty mouths: Not so hot.

7) You cannot complain about the refs “screwing you over” in that one Super Bowl, and in the very next sentence, defend the infamous “Fail Mary” as a legitimate touchdown call. It’s called football, and you can have one or the other, but not both. Arguing for both just makes you sound unintelligent.

8) If you happen to run into me on the elevator and notice my lanyard that has my favorite team’s name on it, it is very inane to remind me of that one time your team beat mine. Yes captain obvious, I am aware of the occasion in which our two teams played, and yes, I understand that your team beat mine on that day, and I certainly remember it if that day happened to be less than a week ago. Congratulations, miss lady. I applaud you and your astute NFL knowledge.

9) Being extremely loud and obnoxious, while not necessarily being a bad thing, does not prove to me that you are the best fans in the NFL. It just proves that you’re loud and obnoxious, and that’s it.

Furthermore, if you’d like to argue with me about how your team has the best fans, it’s probably not a great idea to bring up the time that your team was almost sold to another city. Yes, you are free to contend how you believe in your pure and honest heart that it was the fans that saved the team from leaving the city, but anybody with an ounce of debate experience only needs to bring up that it was the lack of revenue from lackluster ticket sales caused by fans not going to the games that rooted the foundation of the team selling crises in the first place. Again, not trying to sound like a butthole here, but just trying to do my part to help so that you aren’t caught looking like a jackass in front of a bunch of people.

10) Richard Sherman’s a nerd. Period.

11) And last but not least, you are flying high and well right now, and you think your team is the apotheosis of modern football. But need you be prepared; brace yourself for that one moment when everything changes… That game where you find yourself standing in ineffable disbelief as you watch your team lose that walk in the park playoff game to that underdog wildcard team that everybody, including yourself, had previously flouted.

Prepare, for that day will come, and it will be then when all of the insults, rude and cocky comments, passive/aggressive pokes, and in your face smack downs that you dished out all throughout the season come back to bite you in the ass. Yes, it is then when you will be bombarded with nefarious tirades that your fellow football peers have been waiting months, and possibly years with great alacrity to throw back in your face, just so they can watch with immense exuberance the culmination of your deprecation, leaving you in such a lugubrious state of insularity, that you’re only defense is to stare at a TV for months on in meeting a myriad of artificial characters who tell the tales of how they were once great adventurers like yourself, but then took an arrow to the knee—Aka, your own virtual version of hell, one that you fatuously contrived yourself.

12) And believe me, I keep a long, long tally of all the people who’ve crapped on me throughout the seasons, and my mind is very acute with every little detail, down to the most miniscule of attacks. I remember it all, and will show mercy to no one when judgment day arrives. I’m talking to you, annoying woman in the elevator with your unneeded commentary and your atrocious cackle, spider man fan who decided to open his fat D-bag mouth, the “to-up” bouncer who wouldn’t let me into the bar after the game, little turd of a kid with you’re wretched sneer who’s father forgot to teach you proper sportsmanship etiquette, Richard Sherman trash talking wannabes, every one of you who has to yell “Sea-HAWWWKS” in front of my face, 12th men, 12th women…

BEN WOODWARD!!! I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, AND I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!!!

And when the time is right, I will find you, and I will make sure you receive the requisite amount of reparations you deserve, and that no repudiation will reprieve you from the resolute ramifications you whole-heartedly deserve. I will unleash the gates of hell, create a firestorm of fury, pummel you into bloody submission, obliterate you into oblivion, annihilate you into an abysmal microcosm of existence, castigate you with a catastrophic cacophony of vindictive vitriol, permeate into your skin with pernicious perfidy where the persistence is perennial until your perturbance has reached the potential of a paltry plebian, and finally, impugn your integrity until you’re nothing but an infinitesimal ignominy shivering on the floor in destitute diffidence, for the sound of my inexorable mockery has been forever embedded into you as an intrinsic part of your impotent soul to remind you that it was your foolish desire to belittle me that has led to this intractable indignance to carry out my monolithic machinations!

Translation: I will go Kanye West leather sweat pants wearing 30-minute concert rant on you, Charlie Sheen Tiger Blood-winning on you, Richard Sherman best corner in the game on you… I WILL GO BILL O’RIELLY DO IT LIVE ON YOUR ASS, AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP ME!!!!!

“But why?” you ask, as you beg for mercy in the morose milieu that you have manifested yourself into, hoping that your maudlin pleads will mollify my misanthropic malignance and put an end to the malaise you find your self in. But I will just stare at the sorry subject of a moribund mendicant and deliver unto you a wicked smile of accomplishment.

Why? Because like the rest of us, I am a decent, God fearing, America loving, tax paying, integral part of the community; but when it comes to football, just like everyone else, I loose my freaking mind, and I become a terrible, terrible human being within the blink of an eye. And aside from life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, there is one self-evident truth the founding fathers forgot to mention in the constitution: Payback’s a bitch!

If you thought that was a little too much, well… just be thankful that I’m a pretty levelheaded guy! And better yet, not a 49ers fan. God, I don’t even want to imagine what evil concoctions they have running through their acid-laced brains!

And Let’s face it guys, there is nothing out there that really effuses our inner honesty and brings forth the sheer ingenuity for excitement more than football does, and I thank the lord for that every chance I get. If you sit down and think about it, we are actually really blessed to have such a sport that bring us together in such a fraternal manner. I mean, why are the people in ISIS such jerks? Why does it suck so bad in North Korea? How come the French have to be a bunch of A-holes all the time? Yea, I’m sure there’s a couple minor factors here and there that come into play, but I bet ya if they could sit down on a comfy couch on Sunday, crack open a couple cold ones with their best buds, and watch a group of grown men savagely beat each other down just to get a pumped up piece of pigskin down the field, they wouldn’t be so pissed off, and the world would actually be a better place. Heck, they may even enjoy their lives for once. Who knows?

So if I may leave you with a benediction for next football Sunday it would be this: Today is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice, and be glad that it’s football season. Seahawks fans, and all football fans alike, take these 12 points and permeate throughout the land with the gift of your newly acquired knowledge.

Go in peace my friends, and Go Pack Go!

-Grizzly Chadams

The Secret Underground of the West Bremerton Wrestling Federation

It was just another one of your typical spring days in the Puget Sound—damp and dark, with a constant, heavy drizzle of rain.  Not like one of those crazy Midwest rainstorms that come out of nowhere and hammers you for a couple minutes with an intense, thunderous storm followed by a streak of sunshine; Mother Nature’s nice way of reminding us how powerful she is and why we shall respect her.  In the Pacific Northwest, she reminds us of her dominance in a much more subtle, but torturous manner…

 

To put it bluntly, it rains.  Period.  It will rain for days, weeks, and when she’s really pissed off, months even.  You wake from your peaceful slumber to a steady flow of water droplets pummeling the ground day after day, beating onto your skin as you step outside to make the morning commute, slowly seeping deeper into your already darkened soul.  Little by little, like the frog who’s stuck in the pot water that gradually turns to a boil, it wears you down to the point where it becomes accepted as part of your everyday routine, analogous to the mundane work that is to be accomplished when you arrive at work.

 

Then finally, after a much-extended departure, a few rays of light seep through a slight break in the clouds, sending the Olympic Peninsula natives into a frenzy of adulation.  We rejoice in the miracle of sunshine and spend much of our workday talking amongst our peers about our great plans for the weekend, now that the streaks of grey have been vanquished from the sky—our one and only sign of hope.

 

We crawl into bed with delusions of grandeur, for the sun, that bright ball of fire in the sky that had departed so long ago and had nearly been erased from our memory, would finally return to us.  Then, the very next morning, you are woken by the same persistent sound of tapping on the roof and windowsills.   You rise with every emotion drained from your body, except for a slight smirk, a recognition of the irony from the sights and sounds of sorrow, fooled once again to think we might actually have a chance to live through a day of nice weather.  And once again, the cycle repeats itself, forever ongoing, beating us into submission and furthering our depressed state.  No wonder so many people look like they’re in a terrible mood in the city of Seattle.

 

The rain doesn’t always have such a negative effect, however.  It makes us Pacific Northwesterners who deal with it day in and day out hardened to the fact that bad weather is a part of life, and that we must deal with or die.  We learn to suck it up, to pedal our bikes through unyielding walls of water just to make it to work to produce goods and services for the proud, work-driven community, or hike through flooded plains and mud-ridden trails to reach a destination of everlasting beauty.  It’s much like how the Wisconsinites deal with the bitter and cold winters with their sub-zero temperatures, or the harsh and blistering summer climate in the southwestern states.  It gives us all an appreciation of those wonderful days when by an act of God, the sun is shining bright between the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges without a cloud in the sky.

 

Much was the attitude that I discovered that liquid-saturated Saturday preceding Cinco de Mayo when I ventured down Callow Avenue in Bremerton, Washington with my go-to skate buddies Jack and Adam.  For those of you unfamiliar with Callow Avenue, it is a representation of the very best and very worst of what the city of Bremerton has to offer.  It houses a collection of historic businesses that molded the city into what it is today, while at the same time attracting many new stores that seem to undertake a more progressive model to commerce.

 

On either side of the street, you’ll find a mass of pawnshops, which have strategically placed neon signs plastered across the windows with seductive slogans.  One in particular caught my eye, and if I can remember correctly, it had a catchy phrase that went something like, “guns, guns, GUNS!”  Apparently, judging by the signs and the wooden silhouette of a cool cowboy leaning on a post and clasping a smoking pistol, these pawnshops like to sell a lot of guns.

 

Then on the east side of the street across from the town bakery and adjacent to the comic book shop, there is an adult themed store with its specially attributed mannequin models posing in a provocative manner to advertise their explicit clothing line.  They seem to have great deals on a wide range of videos that line the store shelves, which I’m sure keeps their customers coming back for more.  And who can blame them with deals like “3 DVD’s for 19.95,” or “free edible underwear with the purchase of full lingerie set?”  Say what you want about the morality of their product, but there’s no denying that they know how to run a consumer based business.

 

And what would Callow Avenue be without a tobacco shop or two, whose specialties have recently expanded into the reach of glass headpieces?  With the rise of marijuana use due to Washington’s reformed laws, business has been booming for these small business start-ups, and who can blame them for taking full advantage of the law to boost their clientele base?  It’s what any smart businessperson would do, from Donald Trump to Vince McMahon.

 

There is even rumored to be an underground S&M and dominatrix club in one of the back alleys aligning Callow.  Supposedly, some of Bremerton’s finest are members of this exclusive club that is only accessible through secret invitation.  Doctors, lawyers, bankers, among many of the other important citizens of the Kitsap community are supposedly spotted entering the club’s secret passageway to indulge in their inner-most dark desires.  I didn’t believe it at first, but with much persuasion from Ben Woodward, he verified and assured me that such a place exists.  He seems to show a keen interested in those types of places for some reason or another.

 

We had nothing but the harmless intention of composing a high quality Instagram video that afternoon, although the never-ending rain put a stop to those plans real quickly.  It was just impossible to gather the filmmaking resources required to make such a video that lives up to our standards given the cacophonic state of the weather.  All was not lost however, for as we walked further down, a congregation of spectators had come into our sight.  For better or worse, our curiosity guided us past food vendors and hollering fans, some of whom had traveled far and wide from the outskirts of town, including representatives from Shelton, Belfair, Purdy, and many of the other communities out in the sticks that surround the city of Bremerton.

 

After maneuvering through the cluster of crazed fans, growing further impatient from the delay of action, or eyes settled to the middle of the street where a group of children, drenched with an unrelenting barrage of rain water, tirelessly labored to clear a square ring erected from four columns of turnbuckles at the corners and aligned with three rows of ropes.  No matter how much these boys squeegeed or how many towels they soaked up, the unstoppable force of rain continuously militated their efforts.  These modern peasants however were determined to see the ring cleared, and were willing to do whatever it took for the chance to watch their hero’s, many of whom they’ve been waiting their whole life to see, battle it out for their shot at stardom; the superstars of the West Bremerton Wrestling Federation, or better known as the WBWF.

 

I had heard of these small-operation wrestling organizations popping up around different cities with their members aiming to take their skill set to the big leagues.  Usually these events are pretty secretive, with their whereabouts only known by a limited number of hardcore fans who rarely share the details of the sport’s arrangements.  For that, I considered myself lucky that day to have stumbled upon such an event, and I’m sure there was at least a WWE scout or two in the crowd, even if it was raining cats and dogs.

 

After 10 minutes of obstinate work from the child laborers whom of which I’m sure were grossly underpaid, out of nowhere a booming voice with a God-like reverb exploded out of a PA system setup outside a Mexican restaurant.  From the way the man screamed at the boys to get their tiny buns out of the ring, I got the idea that their determination had finally paid off, even though much of the ring was still covered in a thick layer of water.  It mattered not, for rain or shine, we were finally going to see some damn wrestling!

 

The first two opponents stepped out into the ring, a masked behemoth, clad in a full body spandex suit vs. a truly undersized welterweight sporting red and yellow Zumba pants.  Toe to toe they stood, gazing into each other’s eyes with great malice; every second passing adding to their desire to clobber the other into the mat.  The bell rang and the two reached in for a fierce grapple, forcing each other’s weight upon the other, a force that quickly overcame the friction between their florescent colored K-Swiss running shoes and the rain-soaked mat.  What seemed like perfect execution, both wrestlers’ pair of legs flew out underneath them, sending them face first to the mat.  The crash of the two muscular giants thundered throughout Callow as the two turned to their sides, squinting their eyes and wallowing in pain.

 

The referee began his 10-second match disqualification count as the wrestlers desperately attempted to rise from the fall.  I don’t know if he was paying attention, had terrible track of time, or what his issue was, because his 10-second count seemed to last over a minute, for both wrestlers found it extremely difficult to keep their balance during their ascent to stand on two feet.  Both wrestlers slipped and fell back to the ground at least 3 or 4 times before the black behemoth finally rose up, grabbing Zumba’s long, oily locks and forcing him back onto his feet.

 

The behemoth grabbed Zumba by the arm, pulling and using his momentum to send him towards the ropes… perhaps too much momentum.  Again, the behemoth lost his balance and found himself back on the ground.  Zumba saw this as an opportunity, bouncing off the ropes to set up for a fierce guillotine leg drop, a perfect set up for a devastating finisher.

 

He approached the Behemoth lying on his back as he ran full speed and lifted his right leg, the one that would soon be strategically placed across his opponent’s throat, sending maximum pain throughout the rest of his body.  It was a perfect execution, too perfect, only if it hadn’t been for the inch of rainwater covering the mat…

 

Zumba began to slide, waving his arms in a windmilling fashion, doing everything he could to keep his balance and deliver the finishing blow.  However, with one leg already up in the air and a near frictionless wrestling mat, his valiant efforts were ultimately no use.  His left joined his elevated right, an entire ball of muscle floating in the air for a brief moment of time; his eyes widening to the size of silver dollars and his mouth shaping into the letter “O”, bracing for the impact his bony behind was about to make with the floor.

 

“OHHHH,” he cried out holding his left butt check, the one that had taken the brunt of the impact from the monstrous impact.  “C’mon!” we screamed in frustration, sensing that with both men on the ground, the referee would repeat his 5 minute 10-second count all over again.  This match was far from over.

 

Zumba’s mistake proved to be detrimental, for although he was courageous for taking on the masked behemoth, his valor was much too underwhelming for the 100 plus pounds and 8 inches the behemoth had over him, much to the disappointment of the crowd.  Everybody likes a good underdog victory every now and then, especially the couple that was across the ring from me.

 

The wife sported a black shirt with the slogan, “ATF: Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms.  Who brings the chips?” and the husband was clad in a tucked in XXL shirt with Yosemite Sam spread across the torso with two revolvers drawn and the phrase “Back Off!” tucked underneath his belly, well below his waistline.  Their 6 children, soaked in oversized shirts such as “Out of my Mind, be Back in 5 Minutes,” among other witty tops easily purchased at the local Wal-Mart mimicked their parent’s demeanor, hurling insults and yelling furiously at the heels throughout the duration of the event.

 

Soon after the Behemoth celebrated his victory and Zumba pitifully exited the ring in agonizing pain, the piercing sound of the Soviet National Anthem came blaring out of the speakers, one of the most excruciating songs to come out of the 20th century.

 

“What the hell?” I asked myself.  My question was quickly answered as two Russian jerks strutted out of the Mexican restaurant covered with the red hammer and sickle flag alongside their manager who kept waving around old Soviet Union paraphernalia yelling gibberish through a stupid megaphone.  Nothing grinds my gears more than a bunch of loudmouth commies prancing around with unjustified cockiness, especially considering the hostile advances against Ukraine in the past months.  A vicious anger began bellowing inside me, a rage building to uncontrollable levels.  It consumed me so much that I regrettably found myself hurling offenses along the lines of “Putin Sucks.” It was an action way beneath my character, but I could hardly believe the utter lack of respect these guys were showing, and was very much hoping their opponents were strong enough to deliver them the punishment they deserved.

 

After their egregious boasting, out came the other tag team, whose appearance left me a bit concerned I must admit.  The first was a chubby kid; barely of legal age to wrestle in the WBWF, clothed in black tights and in the process of growing a Flock of Seagulls style haircut with purple highlighted tips.  The kid had passion no doubt, a commendable attribute, but at the same time, certainly had a lot to learn about the sport of professional wrestling.

 

His partner, although out of shape, looked to be more of a veteran of the sport.  His hair style was of one of which I had never seen; a blonde and balding bowl cut with two inch long braids lining the perimeter of his head, matching his stained and crooked teeth and his multi-pocketed, flared out bellbottom style jeans, discolored with bleach stains in multiple spots.  His one saving grace was his superman shirt.  Say what you want about the guy, a washed up WBWF legend or recovering meth addict (some would make that assumption, but I never make accusations unless I have hard evidence), but anybody with a superman shirt is a man of integrity, intensity, and intelligence, and will with no doubt come out on top, no matter their appearance.

 

The match began with Mr. Emo up first against one of the Russians.  It was an absolute massacre, right from the get go.  Mr. Emo didn’t stand a chance.  Over and over again the Russian’s took turns throwing him against the turnbuckles and delivering slap chop to his abnormally large breasts and blows to his bloated gut, causing his epidermis to resonate with a high frequency.

 

“No, no!” He screamed as the Russian’s grabbed each of his legs, kicking them up and down as he clasped the ropes for dear life.  His plea was humored, but ultimately ignored as they ripped him from his rope stranglehold and threw him onto the center of the mat, sending a splash of water high into the air.  The Russian’s were just being a couple of buttholes now, placing Mr. Emo in various submissions, shooting pain throughout his body with every twist of his wrist and pull of his leg.

 

The Russian had Mr. Emo stuck in a full crab, a submission move where the victim lies on his stomach while the aggressor sits on his back and takes hold of both legs, pulling them towards the back of his head, causing much strain and deformation to the spine.  Further, the Russian consistently taunted his partner, Superman, as well as the crowd, hurling insults in a heavy eastern dialect that nobody quite understood, but hated all the same.

 

Although they certainly had the upper hand, the Russians’ cockiness were getting the best of their talent.  As they were busy ridiculing the crowd, Mr. Emo was clandestinely slipping away from his opponent’s submissive grip, his hand inching closer to his partners, Superman, who had yet to be tagged into the match.

 

He was so close, nearly a fingertip away from the tag with his arm outstretched and his eyes squinting, a helpful tactic that increases your reach every time it’s tried.  My heart was pounding out of my chest, for we were on the verge of witnessing an epic comeback matching that of when the Packers came back at the last second to beat the Cowboys in the Ice Bowl.  Just a little more reach and they would have it; the match would be theirs…

 

 The Russians pulled Mr. Emo back to the middle of the ring, laughing at his hopeless effort to tag his partner, but the laughter was short lived.  Somehow, by a shear act of God, the tag had been made and Superman was on his way to deliver a world of hurt.  His eyes were full of fury, the humiliation his partner received was about to be repaid in full, and after 10 agonizing minutes, we were finally about to get what we all came for—a good ol’ fashion American ass whoopin’!

 

Superman took a lunge and stuck out his forearm to deliver a close line.  The Russian inside the ring had just enough time to see the blow coming, but not enough time to evade.  Contact was inevitable; the Russians were going down…

 

“WHOA,” screamed the Superman as he realized one of his legs slipped out much to far in front of him.  Before doing the splits and ripping his growing muscles, he miraculously switched leg positions, and switched again, and then again, and again, and again.  It was like a Nordic Track on overdrive, accelerating with intensity with each leg shift.  At the rate his legs were moving, his body was brushing with the peril of a dangerous rotation that could send him to the mat if he wasn’t careful, but I knew he was going to pull out of it.  He was Superman after all.

 

It all happened so quickly; that I can’t quite remember the exact way it went down.  What I do know is one minute he was upright, the next he was down.  His face planted hard against the wet mat, and shortly after, our palms planted hard against our faces.  The Russian picked him up and suplexed him right onto his neck, a finishing move that proved to be incorrigible to recovery.  The Referee went down for the count.  In an attempt to save his partner, Mr. Emo got tangled in the ropes, eventually landing on his stomach with complete uselessness, the epitome of maladroit.  1, 2, 3, and it was all over.

 

The crowd booed off both teams with utter disgust.  I for one was completely ashamed to have these two buffoons represent my country.  Their pathetic display was an embarrassment to our great nation, and the unruly crowd let them have it with disapproving hand gestures, nasty heckles, and flying food particles.  Mr. Emo and Superman did what they could do re-garnish their support, but in the end, they both left the ring in disgrace.

 

The last match was perhaps the most inhumane of the day, a three on three tag-team bout consisting of the most desperate wrestlers in all of Kitsap County.  They came from all sides, the one entering the ring closest to us standing out above the rest.  We were in full view of his cacopygian attributes, and from what I could tell, he may have been only wearing a mask and a white T-shirt, for his overly obese legs, covered in a film of cellulite that had the consistency of cottage cheese, blocked the view of anything between his thighs and waist.

 

The match began and immediately there was trouble in the ring.  The mangers got involved right from the start, distracting the referee while the Cacopygian joined his other teammates in illegally attacking their outnumbered opponent.  For those of you not familiar with tag-team wrestling, the wrestlers can only double or triple team for a brief moment after a tag has been made before they must return the their corner, which these wrestlers were in clear violation of.  The crowd screamed at the ref in an attempt to raise his attention to the unsportsmanlike conduct happening inside the ring, but the more they hollered, the further he got distracted.  For some reason, everybody could see that the bad guys were cheating except for him.  I hate it when that happens.  It’s become a wild epidemic in the wrestling community that after many years still hasn’t fix.  You’d think there’d be better talent out there for referees, but then again, who knows?

 

Eventually the ref did turn back around, and by an astounding miracle things just happened to return to order right before his eyes reverted back into the ring, although the good guys were still beat up pretty bad and at a disadvantage.  It didn’t take long however for pandemonium to rear its ugly head once more after one of the managers slipped a steel-folding chair into the stage.  Cottage cheese legs grabbed the chair and took a swing at his opponent, except the low friction mat caused a slip, turning a brutal chair blow to the head into a petty tap on the shoulder.  The tap seemed to affect him all the same however, causing the good guy to flail back in pain, roll around on the ground and cover his face as if he’d been sprayed with a vile of acid.  The screaming good guy was too much for the ref to handle, quickly calling the match a disqualification.

 

Shortly after he announced his decision, a nasty, vociferous voice came out of the PA system.  A man walked out, claiming to be the CEO of the WBWF.  I believed him, although his appearance caught me a bit off guard.  Usually a ripped pair of jeans, a ratty T-shirt and an unbuttoned flannel doesn’t strike me as common CEO attire, and his cheesy mustache wasn’t doing him any favors either.

 

“I’m the CEO, and this is MY Company.  Therefore, I hereby reverse this match’s decision by the power bestowed on me!”

 

And that’s when all hell broke loose.

 

I really questioned the intelligence and motives of this CEO, and how long he was going to last.  I know his ambitions were high for the WBWF, but I just didn’t see him making it onto the Fortune 500 list anytime soon.  Within’ seconds of his reversal, an all out brawl of ten grown men broke out in the ring, slapping, grabbing and throwing each other around.  One man grabbed a hold of another and forced him onto the ground, thrusting his body weight onto his victim in an attempt to get him to submit.  Two others kept rolling around on the ground, grinding against each other, trying to position themselves on top of the other so they could have the upper hand and be the dominant partner calling the shots, delivering the pain and satisfying their alpha male desires.

 

The ring became a giant collection of blood, sweat, water, and flesh.  I hadn’t seen this much body to body contact since the last time I watched Game of Thrones, and being that this was a live event, the content was much more graphic.  For minutes we watched in horror as the bloodthirsty and obese kept hammering each other over and over again.  We stared in disgust with our mouths locked open as the topless plumps battled, slowly turning into a giant blob of flabby flesh with the occasional limb flopping around in desperation.  The uglier it got, the more impossible it became for us to turn our heads the other way.

 

They nailed each other with lefts and rights and forced their opponents into uncomfortable positions, the victims resisting as their perpetrators held them against their will, forcing their body to twist and turn in ways the good lord never intended.  Eventually, after a long and relentless pounding session, their stamina gave out, and they were left laying on the mat, side by side in a puddle of water mixed with blood, sweat, saliva, and any other bodily fluid that may be extracted during a match of this caliber, with a flood of rain dropping onto their feeble bodies; these weren’t the most athletic warriors after all.  Now, after 20 minutes of intense, physical, and strenuous activity in the ring, they were exhausted of all their strength, left breathless next to their partners in a moment of extreme pain and pleasure that only the participants could truly appreciate.

 

Their moment of intimacy was our cue to exit.  None of us said a word during the walk back through Callow Avenue.  Not even past the adult store, the pawnshops, or suspected S&M club.  We thought about those wrestling warriors that gave it their all in the ring.  Would they ever get their shot, the big time Pay-Per-View main event in the WWE with John Cena?  Only time will tell.  All I know that these athletes were willing to sacrifice it all for their shot at their dreams, and for that, I commend them.  We may not have gotten the Instagram skit we were hoping for, but in the end, I believe we received something much greater, for it’s truly amazing the things you’ll find sometimes when you’re not looking.

 

I think we all learned a great deal that day walking down Callow Street, about life and ourselves.  Maybe someday, we’ll be at that same level of pursuing our dreams, taking the risk of life for the glory inside the ring.  Until then, we’ll look up to these wrestlers with pride, despite their appearance or what opinions society may cast upon them.  We’ll look at them as greater men… The men we could be…  The men we want to be…  The men we can only hope our children will become…

 

-Grizzly Chadams

So I Wrote a Screenplay…

So I wrote a screenplay…

 

It’s late Friday night inside the house of an upper-class neighborhood. Two teenage lovers lock lips in the daughter’s bedroom, deviously decorated with religious paraphernalia, a variety of stuffed animals, and colorful crafts to conceal her true sinister behavior. Journey’s “Faithfully” is playing through a cassette player, adding to the sensual ambience. The year is 1984.

 

Foolishly, the parents of this juvenile deviant booked out of town for the weekend, leaving behind their young royalty to finish her “research paper;” only this pretty princess has other plans in mind. “Let me slip into something a little more comfortable,” she hints at her hunk opposite to her on the bed. They’ve decided it’s time to take their relationship to the next level.

 

The hunk strolls down the hallway, fist-pumping all the way to the bathroom. He has been waiting for this moment his whole life. The fact that precious jewelry, family heirlooms, and various knick-knacks in the bathroom have gone missing doesn’t even faze this testosterily charged adolescent. His mind is totally oblivious to everything except his immediate future spent with his first and only love. A giant smile spreads ear to ear across his face as he opens the toilet lid, unbuttons his pants, and hums his favorite love song, all in preparation to take a leak.

 

He looks down, releases a ghastly shriek of terror, and steps back in shock. He shakes with an uncontrollable tremble; the sight is just too much for him to bear. It is one of the most disgusting things he has ever seen in his entire life– a large mound of bio-hazardous madness piled high inside the bowl.

 

“Babe, what’s wrong,” the girl asks with mounting concern as she bursts into the bathroom.

 

“You’re sick. You’re SICK!” the boy repeats. He is absolutely livid. “How could anybody make something that atrocious!?”

 

He storms out of the bathroom and down the stairs, brushing his princess out of the way. She follows him like a pathetic puppy. Outside, the engine of a red Camaro ignites, and with a couple of revs, it speeds away undetected from the crime scene.

 

The boy stomps towards the door and clasps the door handle before his girlfriend grabs onto his other arm. She gives him one final plea.

 

“We’re done. We are DONE,” screams the boy, as the door swings open.

 

“No babe, wait! I love you!” It’s no use. The door slams in her face and the young lover is left by herself in humiliation with nothing but the remains of an all-natural brownie mix in her stall and the hook of her favorite journey song echoing through the house. The turd burglar has struck again…

 

That’s the very first scene of a screenplay I wrote, entitled “Turd Burglars.” If you’re a sane person reading this, you’re reaction should be something along the lines of, “What in the Hell?” And I can totally understand, being it’s only the first scene in a movie that only expands in its offensive nature. I used to wonder how in the world I came up the idea for a movie centered around a “turd burglar.” Looking back however, I realized that there’s a history behind this brainchild, and even a logical explanation of how I formed this story inside my head and put it onto paper. Maybe after reading this, you may have a slight understanding of how I came up with the concept, and eventually believe, “Hey, he might actually be onto something really funny.”

 

But anyway, let’s get on with the story. It all started during your typical Sunday in the city of Seattle…

 

It was one of the hottest weekends in Western Washington during the summer of 2008. I had recently started my new profession as an engineer making gobs of money, so needless to say, things were going very well. After what some might call an excess of partying, there I lay on my good friend Ben Woodward’s futon, profusely sweating from the 85% humidity mixed with the 95-degree temperature in the air (which is very hot for Seattle since nobody has air-conditioning. Anywhere). It was early… too early, but there was no way I could gain another minute of sleep in that smoldering hot box of Ben’s crusty apartment, at least not in the type of pain I was in.

 

I rose to a hunched position, trying to reclaim the memories of the night prior. I was surrounded by Rainer beer cans, some empty, some completely full, and a mix of others in the in-between status. There was a putrid smell of garbage reeking from the overflowing trashcan with fruit flies swarming, mixed with rotten food particles clinging to the stacks of dirty dishes and mold crawling from plate to plate. Bags from Dick’s Drive-In cluttered the living room, reminding me that we had made the pilgrimage to Seattle’s premiere burger joint the night before… Now it was starting to come back to me. Maybe that was the reason why I had this terrible feeling arising in my stomach, and I’m sure my surroundings were aiding to that uneasiness inside me to come out. Not puke all over the place, but something a little subtler, a bit more normal, at least to some.

 

I rose from the futon, leaving a large puddle of sweat behind to be permanently stained into the cushions to forever remind us of this weekend. There were two paths I could go. One was the community bathroom that easily exceeded the grotesque conditions of the rest of the apartment. The other was a more dangerous route through Ben’s room where he spent his time slumbering away, unaware of the massive heat wave beating down upon us. It was a safe haven of sorts, a luxurious escape compared to the cradle of filth of which I was entrapped inside, even if it were only for a mere half-hour. The trek would be well worth the risk.

 

I snuck passed the corner of Ben’s living room that had been tainted by a black fungal like substance that perfectly contrasted his white carpet, probably an unknown offshoot of some type of growing bacteria that would have Scientist perplexed for years of its origin. But there he was, sound asleep like a little baby. This was too easy. I strutted through with a bit of cockiness to my step and slid into the bathroom. No one was the wiser.

 

The bathroom served as a solar deathtrap, further intensifying the blistering heat wave that we’d been cursed with that weekend. It was an action I wasn’t looking forward to to say the least, but it had to be done nonetheless. I sat down with sweat pouring from every pore in my body and proceeded with the dirty deed.

 

It was an absolute disaster, 20 minutes of extreme agony before I could finally rise covered in a blanket of sweat and gaze upon the vile creation pultruding above the waterline. I reached for the lever to dispose of my product that left me in total disgust, for no man should ever set eyes on what was inside that toilet; the consequences would be absolutely devastating. But then, an evil thought slipped into my mind. I stood over the bowl and contemplated my decision, except there was nothing to contemplate. I already knew what I was going to do the moment the thought popped into my head. I lifted my hand from the lever that had not yet been depressed, and shut the bathroom window. Before leaving, I casually flipped the heat lamp on and crept back through his bedroom and into the living room without his knowledge. Boy was he in for a surprise.

 

A good amount of time passed before Ben woke. He’s a heavy sleeper, he really is. So much time, that I nearly forgot about the incident and was reacquainted with an old friend called sleep. That is, until a blood-curdling scream from Ben’s room blasted my eardrums, followed by the sounds of picture frames falling and a large mass crashing into a desk, letting its contents spill onto the floor.

 

He burst into the living room, bug-eyed in his undies with sweat dripping from his dimple-imprinted forehead. “What the hell was that!?” he exclaimed, violently trembling in his socks. I sat there and tried to act surprised, but all that was delivered was a grin ever growing into a bigger and bigger smile. He wanted to kill me, I could see it in his eyes, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Who could blame him? The man was absolutely petrified! The only thing he could do was slowly slide down into a fetal position, where he lay in a comatose state, letting his natural instincts of surrender take over.

 

Since then, my relationship with Ben Woodward has always had a bit of uneasiness to it, as if he never fully recovered from that incident. And unbeknownst to me, that day marked the beginning of a journey, one that led me to begin my amateur career as a screenwriter. Unfortunately, it also marked the beginning of an ongoing battle that lasted years.

 

It started out as harmless fun, as all these things do. Ben would sneak his way into my bathroom to leave a nice surprise for me, and a couple days later, I would return the favor, finding a creative way to out-do his last. The human race has a natural drive for competition, and the stakes rose to unbelievable heights with each prank we pulled. As the battle ensued, we each grew wiser, sniffing out the evidence and destroying it before it could be seen, or finding other means to outsmart the other, making each successful stunt more satisfying than the one before it.

 

But after awhile, our game had reached dangerous levels of competition. There was only so much our bodies would allow us to handle naturally before we began taking drastic measures in order to achieve the upper hand. Houses and apartments were broken into to deliver the goods, cleaners and other “supplements” were taken to produce cloggers, and eventually, the game ventured outside the bounds of the bathroom. This was no longer a game of friendly contest; this was all out war.

 

It reached a tipping point one night where emotions ran high after a round of jabs, until ultimately, and tragically, punches were thrown. Mike Gibson separated us, offering us a world of hurt if we didn’t stop our antics. We both wisely obeyed, for Mike is a certified ass kicker of all mischiviants. I think that night we both realized that we’d finally crossed the line, and it just simply wasn’t worth it to continue on. So we formed an unofficial truce and stopped the madness before it destroyed our friendship and our bodies any further.

 

Those events seemed to stick with me however, and from time to time, whenever I sat down to provide my body with natural relief, I thought about the days when Ben and I would devise schemes to force distraught upon each other, and the other times I’ve felt the same by entering a random public stall. Such examples are when you open a door to find the scene of a grenade explosion, with debris plastered everywhere, or when the world’s supply of toilet paper just wasn’t enough for that certain individual who previously occupied the stall (which actually happened today at work believe it or not). Usually in those cases, the perpetrator didn’t understand the concept of flushing whatsoever.

 

One thing I’ve tried to understand is why somebody would leave something like that for a random person to see, unless they’re just a sick person. In that case, there are a lot of unstable people out there, some of which work for the federal government, which is even a scarier thought. I do know with males however that no matter the age, dropping a giant bomb is considered a major achievement in our twisted little minds. Get a couple of us going, and you could spend a whole night reliving the history of our most decorated creations. If it’s a great accomplishment, pictures can taken and shared with friends, which is okay being it’s a trustworthy group of brethren and you’re not sharing your business with everyone in the world, most of who wouldn’t want to see in the first place. But on rare occasions, where the creator leaves a masterpiece, it’s totally acceptable to leave the work of art on display.

 

“Hey you guys, come check this out,” I remember one of the students on my floor shouting down the hall of the dorms during my freshman year of college as we leisurely converged our way to the bathroom.

 

“Whoa,” one of the kids said as a dozen of us gathered around the stall, mouths agape, marveling at the monster in the middle. We were in total amazement at the size of the object, so much that we left that stall untouched for a week. I think even the janitor didn’t even bother walking in and flushing, for he too was quite impressed.

 

It sounds like repulsive talk, but ask any honest man, and he’ll tell you about the biggest torpedo he’s ever fired, or the most astonishing direct explosion his ever encountered. It’s one of those topics that are very taboo to talk about, but once it’s brought up, we pour our hearts out, eagerly waiting to tell our own tales of combat.

 

One day while working in DC, I was in the bathroom having one of those moments of reflection, when a man entered a stall two down from me. I could tell by the way he walked in and groaned that there was a mess already scattered about. He must have been very eager to get on with business, for he wasted no time sitting down after he depressed the flush lever.

 

“What the-“ he exclaimed as he shot up off the john and water began to overflow and fall onto the tiled flooring. He grunted and stormed out of the bathroom, an action I couldn’t blame him for (but at least he could’ve washed his hands afterwards in my humble opinion). The water slowly seeped into my stall, sending me into a panic to finish my deed and jump off the pot myself.

 

While scrambling to get my things together and return to work before the flood of water outlined the reach of my shoes, a revelation came to me. How many times has this happened to people just like me, not this exact incident perhaps, but occasions where people enter a bathroom only to be blown away by what lied in front of them? It happens all the time I concluded, and it’s a situation people can really relate too.

 

My mind started flowing rapidly with stories throughout my life that I had experienced or heard where something wild and outrageous happened during a trip to the bathroom. There were so many, most of which people wouldn’t dare talk about in the public sphere, but deep down in the darkest parts of their sick little minds, would secretly love to hear.

 

Some nights later, I picked up a book on how to write screenplays. I was on to something, something really good. I breezed through the book, picking up on the storytelling techniques and screen writing formats as if they were second nature. I was ready. I opened up my computer, and began writing, and didn’t stop.

 

The words were placed on the paper draft as if they were diarrhea; they just didn’t stop flowing! The more I wrote, the more the storyline and characters seemed to develop clearer inside my head. There was no guarantee that people would like it, and even a lower probability that it would ever be made into a movie, but as long as the ideas kept pouring out of my brain, it was my duty to put them to paper and release my vision to the world, and now after over two years of writing, editing, and rewriting several times, I eventually produced a product ready to send out to the masses.

 

The story centers around two police officers, one, a rookie cop named Jones who is full of potential, but still has a lot to learn about the force. The other, Jackson, a washed up loser, was once the premiere detective of the local police squad before tragedy struck him and his family. Now he’s been given a second chance to put his life back together and mentor his young apprentice. Through their pursuit of a vicious cat burglar terrorizing the neighborhood, the two work and grow together, forming an unforgettable bond to catch this relentless villain, who leaves behind no evidence except for a single calling card; a giant mess at the bottom of the toilet for his victims to discover, leaving them overcome with fright and quivering in fear.

 

As these cases increase in their frequency, the public’s concern grows, to the point where people contemplate even entering their own bathroom, and parent’s worry that their child’s next bathroom visit could be there last, as the horror of such a monstrous scene would haunt them for the rest of their short lives. Jackson and Jones must do everything they can to catch the perpetrator before it’s too late and the town is left in a giant heap of waste, getting themselves into a couple sticky situations along the way, some of which nearly cost them their jobs, and their lives.

 

All the while, Jackson must prevent his protégé, Jones, who is eerily following in the same footsteps of his shaky past, from self-destruction; one that the turd burglar, whom we eventually find to have a close connection with Jackson, is all too eager to see through.

 

Apart from a fanfare of dirty tricks, silly jokes, and outlandish situations that the two heroes find themselves constantly tangled in, “Turd Burglars” in the end is a story of good vs. evil, friendship, and learning how to cope with the demons that hold us back and prevent us from moving on. Set in the 1980’s suburban dreamscape, “Turd Burglars” places normal people looking for their shot at the American Dream up against an out of this world villain for an epic showdown you’ll have to see to believe…

 

So if you’re interested in reading my story, or even getting a large group together and doing a screen reading, I’d love to share it and get your thoughts on what you think of it or how it could possibly be better. Even with such an unconventional subject matter that’ll leave the purest of hearts shying away, it’s something I’m actually really proud of and that I think people would really enjoy. I mean, how many people do you know that can say they’ve wrote a screenplay? It actually takes a lot of work coming up with a complete, full-length story. But now, it’s finally complete, and hey, maybe if enough people show interest, we can make a movie! That would be a dream come true.

 

But until that day comes, let me know if you’re interested, and I can send you a copy, and if we get enough people involved, we can turn this dream into a reality. Let’s make this happen!

Enjoy!

 

Grizzly Chadams