The Durango Diner

My daughter will marry any man who brings her bacon. It’s disappointing. I was hoping that she’d require something more, something deeper. Maybe she’d fall for a brilliant romantic or the quintessential baller who’d keep me comfortable in imported cars just to please my daughter. But it didn’t happen that way. And what makes it worse is the fact that my daughter is five, and her fiancé is well into his fifties. But to be fair, I guess I should mention that he didn’t mean to propose; he simply slid a piece of bacon across the counter after he heard my daughter complain about the wait. She took one bite of that cured pork and said “Daddy, is that man married? Because I want to marry him.” His name was Gary, and he owns The Durango Diner.


It was one of those odd weekend mornings where everything slows down and colors change under a lazy sun. The wife and I took our five year old monster out to breakfast. And I call it “breakfast” because that’s what we ate. A punctual man would’ve called it lunch. We parked on Main amongst the motorcycles and tourists and walked into the Durango Diner. It’s one of those no frills places with a few tables in the back and a counter that faces a dully reflective grill. Everything is covered with a deep patina of time and tradition. The people are rooted in reality and the food is simple and cheap; simple and cheap, but ridiculously good. There’s even a white storm trooper helmet hidden amongst the décor, and if you’re a fan of “I spy with my little eye,” it makes the perfect target.


They make a green chili sauce, and I can’t prove it, but I think the main ingredient is heroin. The stuff is addictive, plain and simple, and I buy it by the jar just so I can take it home and slather it on everything like a true junkie. And I mean everything. I once considered freezing it in popsicle molds. Who knows; maybe it’d work as a desert? Whatever. The wife ordered bacon and eggs with hash browns. I had huevos rancheros with an extra-large side of green chili sauce. Our monster wanted bacon covered with bacon and a side of bacon. We sat and waited for our breakfast as the restaurant breathed around us. Flatware and thick white porcelain plates made their noises in the background as the staff bussed here and there. The air smelled like food and steam and humanity.


Our monster became impatient because her bacon didn’t spontaneously generate in front of her as soon as she ordered. She demanded food, with a miniature fist upon the counter, and Gary heard her before we could pacify her with a game of “I-spy.” He took a single strip of bacon, steaming and crispy, from the cooling rack and handed it to her with a smile. Her frown turned upside-down and she gave him one of those little girl smiles that can melt hearts. He smiled back and I knew at that moment that he was a father too; you simply can’t fake a smile like that. My daughter shook his hand and they exchanged pleasantries. He turned back to the grill and that’s when she asked me if he was married. Gary heard her and laughed. He looked over his shoulder, told her he was taken, and that he already had full grown daughters of his own. My monster was genuinely disappointed but it didn’t last; Gary gave her another piece of bacon and distraction took over. His service was quick and the rest of our food came within a few minutes.


We gorged, paid, and left as Gary and his staff sang out a chorus of farewells. We ambled along the streets of Durango slowly as a carbohydrate high dulled our senses. We were stuffed and sweating. That Saturday morning was perfect. The Durango Diner is the type of place that pops the bubble of personal space to which you cling anywhere else. You sit at the counter and laugh with strangers you’d avoid on the sidewalk. Waitresses brush up against you with an “excuse me hun” but you don’t mind because this is where you want to be; comfortable with the rest of your species breaking your fast as the weekend winds down outside. I remember smiling as these thoughts came and went. We got into my truck and headed home.


Durango is an odd little island of culinary awesomeness nestled in the mountains. If you wanted, you could walk across the street from The Durango Diner and pay fifty bucks for oak roasted lamb with a white truffle sauce. There are plenty of restaurants on main that’d hold their own anywhere in New York and they’ve got all the reviews to prove it. And to be honest, when I took the Durango Diner at face value with its simple fare and limited space, I wasn’t quite sure how the place was able to stay afloat given the neighbors’ reputations. But after eating there, after truly experiencing the place and meeting Gary, I know for a fact that it’ll be there forever (or at least I hope it will because I’m not looking forward to the withdrawal symptoms that’re sure to pop up if I’m ever denied their green chili sauce).


The wife and I have vowed to become regulars at The Durango Diner and I can’t strongly enough recommend that you make the trip down to 957 Main Avenue in Durango Colorado to experience the place for yourself.  I’m sure my new son-in-law would appreciate the support.


The Durango Diner


I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here:

Dirty Clowns

I don’t usually entrust my children to meth heads, but then again, I don’t usually go to the carnival. You have to let go a little bit to enjoy the carnival, especially the small and seedy ones. Somewhere deep inside, you know the food is poison, but you still eat the funnel cakes. You know the games are rigged, the rides are unsafe, and that the profit margin enjoyed by the carnies is ridiculous, but you skip through it all holding hands with your sugar-addled children. Fuck it; we’re at the carnival, let’s do this.

The wife and I took our children and our parents to the county fair here in Durango this past weekend. The rides were small and rusting. The tickets were expensive and the carnies were toothless, but we had our fun; that took some serious “suspension of morality” on my part. You see, they guy operating the flying pink elephants was a scab covered meth-head. He weighed a buck-thirty at most, and at six-two, even diehard bulimics would’ve called him skinny. His hair was a garish red. He had four teeth I could see. His cloths were dirty and his pockmarked skin was covered in cheap tattoos. Most of them were evil clowns that’d probably earned him all sorts of street-cred amongst his fellow carnies. He was constantly twitching and scratching and moving his mouth like a dog that’d licked up some peanut butter. I’ve had plenty of friends that’ve lived a life of meth addiction and I can see the signs; this dude should’ve been on a D.A.R.E. poster.

But I sent my daughter up the ramp towards him and his flying pink elephants. She was alone and five years old. She had her tickets in hand and bounced with excitement. The carnie reached down and took her tickets. He led her to an elephant and strapped her in. She didn’t even notice him. I started looking around. Nobody else seemed to notice him either. He’d shout instructions to kids or try to help parents, but he could’ve been a ghost. Did they see him but look away thanks to his condition? Or did their minds gloss over his presence because he was on some lower echelon? I guess it’s possible. The carnie was just a bit of human flotsam that’d come into our town. He was quick to come, soon to leave. He was ephemeral.

I made a point of noticing the carnie, and I made him notice that I noticed him. I called to my daughter and told her to hold on, and then I stood at the bottom of the ride’s ramp and stared up at the carnie. I did my best to flex the muscles around my eyes and bore through his skull with invisible lasers of rage. Really? You’re going to get high on something cooked in a trailer, pick your skin to shit, and then touch my precious monster before operating the flying elephants that bring her joy? Fuck you. Notice me noticing you goddamn it. He did. His eyes locked with mine. He gave a toothless smile. My expression was deadpan, my eyes pissed. His smiled died and went to that place where he kept his dreams. He turned and started the ride. The elephants went up and down. The dirty lights flashed and the tired music played as the children cried their delight. I stared at the carnie. He worried over his remaining teeth with his tongue. The ride eventually ended and I collected my child. She left with nothing but good memories.

All the rides, all the attending carnies, were like that. The rotund gentleman operating the Ferris Wheel wasn’t much different than the dude by the pink flying elephants. Sure, he was fat and drunk as opposed to skinny and high, but he had the clown tattoos. People seemed to look around him as they got on and off the wheel of wrought ferrous. Again my daughter got onto the ride, this time accompanied by my mother, and again I stared at the man running the ride until he noticed me and acknowledged my disdain with a lowered head. I stood there clean and sober with all my bullshit in the past, as he stood there chest deep in all of his bullshit with his spiked big-gulp. Again, my daughter survived and came back to me covered with a smile.

It started to rain so we packed it up. My oldest daughter had met some makeup covered child of a similar age that looked years older thanks to the pain she wore. The new comer had pined for tickets and even borrowed my daughter’s coat. But that’s alright. My daughter is a precocious little punk so I didn’t even have to tell her which lessons to learn from her day at the carnival. She told me all about how the new girl had taken advantage of the endless supply of tickets I had doled out, and how the girl said she wished her father was like me. My daughter felt sorry for her but kept her at a distance. My work there was done. I looked back at the carnies who were still working the rides and standing invisible in the rain, and then we all got into my truck and left.

I’ve found a bit of empathy in retrospect. I guess it’d be easy to end up like that. You’d fall into a part time job in the carnival. You’d get to travel, see the states, get paid in cash, and taste a bit of freedom. Maybe there’s a girl, pretty and rebellious, working in the cotton candy both. The two of you could hook up and share your freedom. But then the opportunities fade as you drive from town to town. You pick up a vice, get a few dirty clowns tattooed on your forearm just to fit in, and then you earn your cloak of invisibility. Your girl gets pregnant, maybe it’s yours, maybe not, and now she’s anchored down somewhere in the heartland with a child. The new girl who slings cotton candy doesn’t even look at you because there are younger bucks operating other rides. Your dreams and your teeth disappear, and now there’s a man at the bottom of your ramp staring up at you like you don’t deserve to see his daughter. The scabs, the choices, they might wear off on his precious child. There’s nothing left but the night, the shitty motel rooms, and the vice. 


I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here:

Starbuck Died

Dead crawfish don’t float like you’d expect them to. They sink down to rest their claws on the glass pebbles upon which they once walked; uneaten spinach for a death bed. The red of their carapace mutes to something dull and lifeless as the black of their beady little eyes fades to a cloudy grey. At least that’s how it happened for Starbuck the Crawfish. I guess you’d need to read my previous entry to get most of this, but I’ll catch you up super quick: my daughter saved a crawfish from certain death at a BBQ, named him Starbuck, put him in a bubbling fish tank, and then started feeding him spinach.


My daughter was literally skipping into the house and wearing a comical smile the day she faced her horror. My mom was in town, we had just watched Iron Man 3 and gorged on pricey junk food; Catelynn was still riding a saccharine high when she ran into her room to check on Starbuck. She called me in with a whisper and I made it in just in time to see her smile morph into pure pain as she tap tap tapped on Starbuck’s tank. He’d usually raise his claws and charge the tank wall as if to say “What? WHAT? You want some of this?” But he’d lost his defiance, his life.


I looked at her and said the only thing I could think to say: “honey, you didn’t do anything wrong.” I could tell she was inconsolable so I gave her space. I walked into the living room and told everyone the news. As soon as I got it out, as soon as I told everyone that my daughter was inconsolable, my mom looked at me and said “honey, you didn’t do anything wrong.” I laughed a bit because it was one of those full circle moments; my mom said the same thing to me that I said to my daughter. Of course I hadn’t done anything wrong and I knew it, and through that realization, I understood that my daughter knew that she hadn’t done anything wrong either. I went back into her room a while later and told her the things that she needed to hear. That I loved her and her feelings were true and pure. Terra thought we should bury Starbuck to offer a bit of closure and Catelynn agreed.


I took Starbuck and wrapped him in a paper towel and placed him gently in a Tupperware box. I went out back and started digging a hole. I was about a foot into it when I started wondering: how deep does a crawfish grave need to be? Will the dogs smell him and dig it up if I make it too shallow? Holy shit; is that why human graves are six feet deep? Is that some sort of magical number that dissuades scavengers from digging? Fuck it; this Tupperware is airtight and eighteen inches will have to do.


I went back inside and got Catelynn; we did the deed. She tossed, dramatically of course, the first handful of dirt upon the Tupperware coffin as if we were in an old school gangster movie. I shoveled on the rest and we tamped down the loose soil. She started to cry again and I started to tear up watching her. We went back inside and ate dinner.


I watched my father kill one of my canaries with a vacuum cleaner when I was five years old. I’m laughing as I type this and it’s bothersome to think about what that might mean, but that’s irrelevant for now. It was an accident; Pops was cleaning their cage with the vacuum cleaner hose like he’d done many times before and the dumb one, they yellow canary I’d gotten for my birthday and named Tweety, jumped down to try and escape. He went head first into the hose and died somewhere along the line. My father dug him out of the bag to see if he was still alive and then just threw him in the trash. I used to wonder if Tweety had thought he’d made it, thought he was free, before it all went black… When it came to Starbuck, I was on edge because I knew this seemingly insignificant moment was a pivotal one for my daughter.


It’d be wrong to teach a child that when something dies, you can just replace it with something else, and I told this to Catelynn, but it’d also be wrong to waste a $60 fish tank that’d only been occupied for a week. My daughter’s face was still speckled with petechiae from crying but she nodded when I asked her if she’d like to go buy a betta. We drove to Petco to pick out a fighting fish to take Starbuck’s place in the tank. Thirty minutes later we were on our way back home with No Name the Betta and my monster was smiling again.


There was a picture of a betta on the little cup that No Name came in and Catelynn asked me why none of the bettas at Petco were as pretty as the one in the picture. I told her that “the fish in the picture was a model” because it was the first thing that came to mind but it got me thinking; are there really professional model fishes out there? Do they live in enormous cups? Are they given as many blood worms as they want, and if so, do they suffer from bulimia like human models? Whatever. We made it home and No Name is still swimming to this day. He seems to be immune to whatever killed Starbuck.


A few days later my daughter asked “dad, do you think that just maybe there’s a crawfish heaven?” This set me back a bit because we’re an agnostic family but simply saying “no” would’ve been hard even for me. I asked her why she wanted to know and she told me that it was just too hard to imagine him as completely gone. Of course I went the “nobody is ever gone as long as you keep them in your thoughts” route, but I also used the moment to teach her a bit about humanity. I used her question as an example as to how easy it is, how comforting it can be, to reach for a mythological crutch when times are hard. Sure, her pet could be dead and gone forever… or maybe he’s frolicking in an endless field of spinach with his perfect claws held high in defiance. “What? WHAT? You want some of this?” Thanks to Starbuck, she got her first taste of Marx’s opium. I never answered her question, because in doing so, I’d be robbing her of a conclusion that she needs to make on her own.

Crawfish Grave



I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here:

The Odds

My daughter makes hypocrisy cute; hers is an innocent type of dichotomy that hasn’t yet been corrupted by ill intentions and the evil bullshit that comes with age. To her, death is an anathema. She’ll go out of her way to save the lowliest little bug that scurries dangerously close to my feet. She’ll cry at the thought of an injured animal. She’ll sit contently in the cabin of a fishing charter for which I paid handsomely and refuse to catch a fish; she’ll even refuse to eat the fish I caught because the horror is still fresh in her mind even though the rock-hard fish in the freezer isn’t. But when it comes to steak, you better watch the fuck out. She’ll dive across the dinner table to steal bloody scraps from your plate when you look away. Isn’t that cute?

We recently took her to a crawfish boil at a friend’s house, and at first, she refused to get out of the car. The thought of boiling alive thousands of little baby lobsters brought on some sort of tree-hugging paralysis. The wife and I tried to hold up her hypocrisy so she might see it:

“Catelynn, stop being ridiculous; you loooooooove eating steak and steak comes from cows.”

“Yes dad, I know. But cows are all clumpy and ugly and I don’t know who killed them and I don’t have to see it happen.”

“What about sushi Catelynn? The majestic blue fin is cute and you’ll eat the crap out of a rainbow roll. And a crawfish is just another type of fish, right?”

“I. Don’t. Care. I’m not going to a party where they kill crawfish and I’m not eating them.”

She eventually got out of the car. Her eyes were wide and her ears were perked. When she finally found the large stainless pot that was bubbling and reeking of Cajun seasoning, she frowned. I guess the carnage wasn’t quite what she expected. I introduced her to the host (who’s hand she shook with a scowl) and he asked if she’d like to see the live ones. She said yes.

We walked past all the drunken revelry and over to a huge cooler; he threw back the lid. My daughter sucked in a breath that spoke volumes. He picked one up, gingerly to avoid the pincers, and handed it to me before closing the lid and walking back to the bubbling pot. I looked down at my daughter, with budding tears in her emerald eyes, and sighed in the presence of such innocent beauty.

I asked her to follow me in that long suffering tone fathers develop after a few years, and we walked back to the car. I looked around inside until I found an empty Starbucks cup. It was huge and transparent so it’d make a perfect temporary home (as a side note, venti was big enough; trenta is just ludicrous). I filled it up to the green mermaid with tap water and dropped the lucky-as-shit crawfish into safety. My daughter spent the rest of the time at the barbeque, all three hours, staring into the cup and falling in love with “Starbuck the Crawfish”; we all smiled as we watched on and gorged on Starbuck’s cousins.


Sixty dollars later, Starbuck now has a luxurious life in a bubbling tank on my daughter’s bookcase that’s filled with glass rocks and spinach. He has two meals a day and a rock under which to hide. He has multi colored LED lights overhead and the love of my daughter. I’m sure to him, she looks like a monster. She’ll press her face up against the glass and smile; he’ll raise his claws and puff up in warning like a rooster or a peacock… or a frat-boy. It’s a wonderful relationship.

But what were the odds for Starbuck? Probably one in a bajillion. He came from a crawfish farm slash rice patty in Louisiana and he was born to be eaten. That farm ships out thousands of pounds per day, all over the US, but Starbuck came to Colorado in a sack with thousands of his brethren. He survived the flight when many didn’t. He clawed his way to the top of the cooler, but not too soon; our host had been cooking for five hours before we got there. He was picked up and handed to the only person there that would’ve saved him. He survived the ride home to New Mexico in a cup and he lived. A piece of food day before yesterday; a beloved pet today.

And what are the odds for my daughter? We recently went to a painfully long induction ceremony; our daughter made it into the junior national honor society. She sat amongst one hundred other kids that made the grade and we were all treated to a protracted speech from an old lady that touched on all the clichés. “I see a bunch of brilliant kids with dreams that’ll one day go on to be great blah blah blah.” Sure; some of those kids are going to make it, but the truth is that quite a few of them aren’t. For every future doctor on that stage, there’s also a future felon; for every success, a failure. It’s cynical but it’s also simple statistics.

Will my daughter make it? Will she claw her way to the top of the bucket at the right moment? Holy fuck I hope so; I’d die to ensure it. There are days when I have my doubts. Not because I lack faith in my daughter, but because I’m all too aware of how pernicious this life can be and I simply don’t want her to face it. But when I think about her staring into that cup and falling in love with a crustacean, when I think about her walking past all those drunken men at the boil to save a single life, I realize that she’s going to be just fine.

CJ and Starbuck

I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here:

Monsters in Vegas

I felt pretty good about the fact that I was in better shape than anybody else in the gym right up until the sixty year old transvestite walked in and put us all to shame. The dude was ripped. He had twice the muscle definition as I did and his boobs were bigger than my wife’s; I have a solid six-pack and my wife is a girl so it was pretty impressive on both fronts. And I knew he was a he as opposed to a masculine she thanks to the skintight grey leotard he was wearing. I suppose he could’ve been smuggling a water bottle or something but I doubt it. He walked in with his argyle socks and ballerina shoes and looked around the gym trying to figure out where to start. He had permanent make up and a grey topknot and no fear whatsoever. He stretched and then started throwing a fifty pound dumbbell around as if it were a paperweight. I shrugged my shoulders and thought “Well, this is Vegas. What did you expect?” I went back to my pull-ups and didn’t think about it anymore. There’s nothing wrong with being the second buffest guy in the gym even if number one is twice as old and wearing a sports bra.


I finished my workout and headed back up to the room to meet my wife and children to plan the day. As a side note, if you would’ve walked up to me five years ago and told me that I’d go to bed early in Las Vegas so I could fit in a six a.m. workout, I would’ve accused you of being retarded. Things change. My wife and monsters were awake so I told Terra about the tranny just to make early morning small talk but then I heard my oldest daughter laughing at the story, and that’s when it hit me; I voluntarily brought both of my daughters to Vegas. All of the women in my family were on spring break; one from Montessori, one from middle school, and one from college, so we’d decided to load up the car and drive the eight hours to sin city just for the hell of it. But now what? Questions would arise, and thanks to my anti sheltering policy, I’d have to answer them. I just wish it didn’t have to start with a conversation about what I meant by “smuggling a water bottle.”

The Strip

We headed out, and about ten minutes into our trek, one of those shady but silent men on the street tried to hand me a small brochure advertising the best “escorts” in Nevada. Seriously? I’m not sure exactly what we were looking for that morning but it definitely wasn’t prostitution. Maybe the dude missed his orientation at whore-business-card-handing-out-school but I’m pretty sure a thirty-something year old man walking with his wife and two daughters isn’t in the target demographic. I kept walking and for once, my oldest and most ridiculously observant daughter didn’t see anything so I got to avoid our first conversation about “really bad choices.” But it came about a mile later.


The bums came out around ten a.m. and started plying their trade. Some were busking with harmonicas or guitars, others proclaimed to be veterans with camouflage coats as evidence, and some relied on creative signs: “Too ugly to prostitute; too stupid to steal.” I almost gave the last guy five bucks just for his proper usage of homonyms and semicolons but we just walked on by. My oldest, Catelynn, wanted to give a rather jovial bum with a guitar and a bandana something so I gave her a couple bucks. Why not? She ran over and put the money in his hat with a smile and he said “Thank you pretty lady! Stay in school or you’ll end up like me!” then he looked over at me and said “You’re welcome!” I thanked him and we continued on. I started chuckling because somehow, I had just thanked a bum for letting me give him money. The next day, we walked by the same guy a little after ten thirty a.m. and he had already drained most of the forty ounce beer in his hand. It was cheap and wrapped in a brown paper bag because I guess he’d felt the need to reinforce a stereotype. I turned to Catelynn and said “See? You bought that man a beer.” I could see the wheels turning behind her frown.


It wasn’t fifty feet later that we passed by a bum in a leather vest that had track marks and needle sores all over both of his arms. It looked as if he moonlighted as a cactus wrangler. My daughter stared at him and his bedraggled sign that simply said “please help” as we walked by and then asked why I didn’t give him anything. “Would he just buy beer too?” I asked her if she noticed the sores, and I knew she had because her observation skills are almost creepy. She said yes, and guessed that maybe he’d walked through a swarm of mosquitoes (she frickin’ hates mosquitoes). I told her exactly where they came from, and that every dollar that went into his coffee-can would end up in his veins. She didn’t ask to hand out any more money for the rest of the trip.


I was still thinking about heroin so I didn’t notice the bikini-clad flamingo girl that was running toward us. She bent over to look into my stroller and in a dulcet voice, she asked my youngest, Kinley, for a high five. She was spangled in sequins and almost falling out of her top so I’m sure it’s a mammary Kinley isn’t going to forget. Kinley gave her a tentative high five and the flamingo girl bounced along her way giggling “welcome to Las Vegas” over her shoulder. Great; now what? Should I sit my children down on the curb and explain the pitfalls behind daddy issues? Should I take Kinley to the clinic and get her disinfected just in case?


The entire trip was like that; good, but awkward. We took the kids swimming every day after our forages and if I didn’t watch out, I’d find myself swimming with both of my monsters in a manmade lake of twitterpated douche bags. We’d be wading and splashing and minding our own business, and then be inundated with a wave of pheromones smelling slightly of coconuts and Bud Light. There’d be a group of men to one side doing a line dance in the pool (I shit you not) and a group of women to the other giggling way too loud and doing their best to still pull off bellybutton rings. The DJ would shout “to the left to the left to the left” as the bass pumped and I’d do my best to get my daughters to the tiled shore before they’d be swept under by the riptide flowing out from the mating rituals.


Our children started suffering from sensory overload pretty early in the trip. We’d take them to see sharks and jumping dolphins and albino tigers; we went to carnivals, we ate and shopped constantly, we rode roller coasters and watched light shows. But as soon as we’d get back to the room, the kids would start pacing and staring at the confining walls like inmates on death row. “Dad I’m bored. I don’t think I can sit here anymore.” Jesus. But I guess that’s what Vegas is designed to do: continuously funnel the guests through a turnstile of constant consumption. And that’s what we did. Terra and I aren’t big gamblers, we only blew two hundred bucks (half of which wasn’t ours), but the three day trip still put me back about two grand. So be it. The lesson Catelynn learned via someone else’s track marks was worth every penny.


Anyway, I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here:



The Parasite

I remember looking down at the gelatinous little parasite and hating it instantly. It was putrid grey and about the size of a quarter; it had the consistency of cold snot. It was long dead, the saw that had quartered the cow I was butchering had taken care of that, but I was still repulsed by the thing’s existence. The little bastard was curled up cozy as can be in a slab of steak I was trimming and as soon as I realized what it was, I hacked it out with one of those white-handled butcher knives and threw it in the trash with the rest of the offal. But could it still infect me some how? Was it now, at this very moment, soughing off eggs or disease that couldn’t be contained by the trash can? Had I accidently touched it? Should I run to the bathroom and scrub my hands until they turned pink? Should I set fire to everything in sight to save the rest of humanity and scream like a girl while running for my life? There’s just something insidious about a parasite that irks me on a visceral level. I hate the little bastards.


I’m really only afraid of three things; parasites, sharks, and AIDS. The latter two are pretty easy to avoid so if I had to choose one of the three that bothers me the most, it’d be parasites for sure. As a side note, can you imagine how scary it’d be if there was such a thing as a shark with AIDS? Holy crap! I’d never swim in the ocean again. Actually, last Halloween, I wanted to dress up like one. I was going to get a shark costume and pin one of those AIDS awareness ribbons on my dorsal fin. Boom. I’d be the scariest thing ever. Anyway, back on track. I think my fear of parasites dates back to elementary school. Our teacher passed around a large capped beaker containing a huge tape worm and some cloudy formaldehyde. I froze up when it made it to my desk. The thing was long and flat and troglodyte-white with hooks for feet and an evil maw that it used to hang on inside your gut. The teacher told me that it couldn’t hurt me because it was dead and pickled, but I sure as hell didn’t trust him. How could anybody that kept monsters in jars be trusted?


Parasites personify every trait that we’re taught to hate; “parasitic” is an adjective always associated with villainy. They shun symbiotic relationships, they take but never give, they enter through deception, and they only leave through death. And if anything, my fear of them has been growing over the years just like a… well, like a parasite. So when I came across that evil little monster while cutting up a cow, I nearly stripped out of my white apron and left. But I couldn’t; I was doing it all for the edification of my young.


The wife and I had decided that we needed to show our oldest daughter where our food came from, so when we got a somewhat serendipitous invitation to help butcher a cow, we agreed. Our daughter knew that her burgers came from cows, her bacon from pigs, but it was a superficial type of knowledge. I imagine such knowledge could even be deemed inadmissible as hearsay. So we drove over to a friend’s house to help butcher a cow. Actually, all the unsavory tasks had already been accomplished. Someone else had shot the cow, skinned it and drained the blood; it had already been quartered and aged in a meet locker. My child would be getting the Cliff’s Notes version of death and butchery.


As soon as the work started, I could tell that our daughter wasn’t going to learn much. To her, she was just handling a bunch of steak that came from something roughly shaped like the back of a cow. In fact, she loved every bit of it. She got to use knifes like a grown up, and steak is probably her favorite thing to eat. She inherited the appetite for red meat from her mother, and standing next to the two of them as we cut steak after steak, I fully expected them to give in to the blood lust at any moment and start devouring the meat like a couple Velociraptors. It never happened.


The day was pretty uneventful until I came across the parasite, and even that didn’t really bother my daughter. “Uh yeah dad, just cut it out and cook the steak. Totes no problem.” Totes no problem my ass! Whatever. We took our share and left after a ranch style lunch of simple dishes that dated back to a more simple time. Cooked steak with salt. Red beats on a white plate. Cut lettuce with dressing and cheese. But as I was eating and as I was driving home, I couldn’t shake the chilling feeling that came from the dead parasite. In a way, it had infected me; part of it was living in my mind and I couldn’t dig it out. Its purpose had been fulfilled.


All of this was inspired by a friend’s blog. Her name is Savannah Grace and I’ve written about her work before because frankly, it kicks ass. She’s a globe trekking author with more talent than most, and she recently came across a cow that was tied up in the back of a taxi cab somewhere in Africa. How awesome is that? In a way, I’ve always been secretly jealous of Savannah’s life because she’s constantly surrounded by fodder for writing. And she uses it well; her style is relaxed and easy to read, almost like a conversation, and every bit of her life’s experience is interesting. The picture below is one of her next to the cow, but for the full experience, you’ll need to go read her blog here: There’s also a video on her page, but I should warn you now, it’s a bit graphic. But the story is poignant, and if you’re a fan of travel blogs, Savannah’s is one of the best out there. So please check it out.


And please support Savannah buy downloading her book “Sihpromatum” here:

Cow in a Taxi

Back of the Bus

I love the white noise that bleeds from the beastly jet engines near the back of the plane. I always request a seat as close as possible to the back of the bus when I fly and they’re usually available. You can sit unperturbed and read or daydream without having to listen to that most atrocious of things: small talk. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m just as gregarious as the next guy, just so long as the next guy is a troglodyte. I loathe all of that trite “so where are you from, my name is blah blah, I hope there aren’t any babies on this flight” bullshit and I’ve found that the droning roar near the back of the plane suffocates such niceties like a pillow to the face. There are other pros: you’re usually the first to board, you’re closer to the bathrooms, and the people watching couldn’t be better.


However, there is one con… one horrible, horrible con. After all, the first to board is the last to deplane. After hours and hours of immobility, you get to stand and watch the milling hoards in front of you slowly awaken and poke about for their belongings like the travel drunk zombies they are. The bottleneck that is the center aisle reduces the average traveler’s mind activity to that of a cow and it takes for fucking ever. It’s like that odd little accordion affect you experience at stop lights. Most of us stare at the car in front of us instead of at the light. When red morphs into green, the first car moves, cueing the second and so on. If we all watched the light and started to move as one, congestion would evaporate but thanks to our latent herd mentality, it’ll never happen. Anyway, the same thing happens on an airplane, but it’s ten times worse due to exhaustion and over priced cocktails.


I usually try to take the sluggish progress in stride, and I usually fail, but there’s really nothing to be done about it. Or at least I thought not, but I learned differently after one particular four hour flight back to New Mexico from California. I was traveling with my wife and our two children, and at the time, my youngest monster had just turned two. She had slept through most of the flight but when we landed, she awoke, and as soon as her little blue eyes popped open, I could tell that she had been possessed by a seriously righteous demon while she slept. The whining and the whimpering cries of impatience started almost immediately, and as the stewardess took her sweet-ass time opening the door, I started getting the “shush your infernal child” looks.


But nobody deigned to move any faster. Just like the stewardess with her updo and permanent makeup who took forever to open the door, all the people in front of us took their time as they stretched or looked for their bags. Meanwhile, in the back of the plane, the tension mounted and mounted in the mind of one seriously pissed off two year old girl. She wanted off this plane. She wanted to go home. She wanted food and TV and blankets and she wanted them now. She had no tolerance for slowpokes; she had no understanding of human nature and the tide of selfishness in front of her. She started to cry in earnest.


“Why daddy? Why can’t we get off this plane right now?!” The looks shooting my way started to become less guarded. These people wanted absolute quiet while they ignored the fact that their doomed quest to find a missing set of headphones was retarding the lives of everybody behind them. My first instinct was to shush my child, to tell her that she needed to be quiet and wait patiently for the cattle ahead of her to deplane first, but then it hit me. Doing so would be asinine. I’d be no better than the people I complain about, the people that I write about. I lifted her up so we’d be eye to eye and I said “we can’t get off this plane until everyone else is off, and they’re moving too slow.”


I watched in awe as comprehension bloomed in her little bloodshot eyes. She started to get angry, I could see it in her boiling tears, and she started to scream “MOVE OUT OF MY WAYYYYYYYY!!” over and over. I lifted her above my head and turned her so she was facing everyone in front of us. I’d like to think I looked like John Cusack in the end of “Say Anything” when he holds that boom box over his head to profess his love for what’s-her-name but I probably didn’t. I just stood there and let her scream; it was cathartic. I imagined tendrils of my own frustration flowing from my fingertips into her little possessed body. I imagined my own pissed off will mingling with hers and filling the cabin of that 747 with a sonorous declaration of our intolerance.


Everyone looked back at once in a shocked moment of indignation, and once they realized I was doing nothing to stop a terrible twos tirade, they started moving as if they meant it. They found speed and purpose and snapped out of their head-up-ass reverie. They dug deep for a bit of altruism and got out of my monster’s way. On the way out, a rather rotund gentleman wasn’t moving fast enough for my daughter and she actually punched him with a little balled up fist. He looked at me as if seeking an apology, and I pursed my lips as if to say “ehh, what ‘cha gunna do?” That plane emptied as quickly as I’ve always wanted and after it was all over, as I was carrying my exhausted child to baggage claim, I kissed her on the cheek and whispered into her ear “good job honey, daddy loves you.”




Anyway, I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here:  If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here:

Move Bitches

The Shell Game

I’ve never been knocked unconscious, but I learned what it meant to “see stars” when I was six. I suppose my father had been drinking, but that might just be an assumption. I was sitting Indian style on the linoleum in front of the toilet. My father was sitting on the toilet doing his business and my mother stood in the doorway; everything was washed with light from a late afternoon and a few incandescent bulbs. This was the early eighties and it felt like it. The bathroom was decorated in earth tones. My father’s hair was enormous as was his beard. My mom looked like a hippie and I was wearing corduroys. They were my favorite pants.


My father had just finished assembling three different Lego sets; they were all small and placed right in front of him on the floor. All three sets were medieval; one was of a horse and carriage, one was of a catapult manned by a group of armored Lego men, and the third was a tiny prisoner transport complete with bars and a little imprisoned figure that looked suspiciously like Robin Hood. My crystalline memory is a sweet and sour type of power.


Pops looked down on me from upon his porcelain throne and told me not to touch any of the Legos until he was done. I remember staring at the three toys, arrayed perfectly equidistant from each other, and thinking that surely there was one toy I could touch without angering him. Maybe he wouldn’t even notice. I reached for the horse drawn prisoner transport after a subjective eternity and had time to move it ever so slightly closer to where I sat before my father hit me. And it wasn’t a gentle reprimanding type of slap either. Sure it was open handed, but my father was a three hundred pound behemoth of a man and the power in his right hand carried me across the linoleum and deposited me in a small heap against the shower stall. Everything went black and brilliant points of white floated in my vision. I remember thinking “so that’s why they draw stars” and that thought is verbatim; I swear I’m not taking any poetic license in the telling of this story. Up until that point, I had always thought the stars that rotated around the coyote’s head after the roadrunner bested him were nonsensical.


My mom came running in and screamed something unintelligible. She was coming for me, I saw it all from where I was laying on my side against the shower, but I guess my dad felt threatened. He stood up and went after her with his open hand cocked back but since he hadn’t pulled up his sweat pants as he stood, my mom was able to get away. He hobbled after her like a penguin as she shouted “don’t you hit me!” and I suppose hysterics are to blame for the fact that I look back and laugh at it all.


He sat back down after a moment of clarity and never noticed that he had broken the miniature catapult during his tirade. My mom came back in a few seconds later and got me. She carried me away and down the stairs and out of the house. They simply don’t make Mother’s Day cards that you can buy to thank a mother for something like that, but I was fucking grateful.


Later, my parents divorced and my father’s burgeoning obsession with Legos matured into something truly epic. He kept all of his assembled sets underneath his queen sized bed where they were organized into little stratified groups. The medieval castles and whatnot where near the foot of the bed. The space inspired sets with rocket ships and transparent laser guns were in the middle and the contemporary sets were directly below the pillows. They started to gather dust as the house suffered without a woman’s touch so my father carefully covered all of the sets with a sheet and there they stayed, like an entombed city of little plastic people, until I was sixteen.


I skipped school with two friends, Joey and Chad, and we went to my house to smoke ridiculous amounts of pot while my dad was at work. We got bored. I’m not sure why I did it, but I took my friends into my dad’s bedroom and told them to look under the bed. They got down on their bellies, lifted the sheet, and then slowly turned to look up at me with “what the fuck?” written all over their faces. I laughed, and we started taking all of the painstakingly assembled Lego sets into the living room. We started by doing our best Japanese mega-monster impressions. I was Mothra (because Mothra fucking rules), Joey was Godzilla, and Chad was Mecha Godzilla (there’s a huge difference). We stomped through a veritable city of Lego sets and destroyed like only mega monsters can. Then we sat and played with the damn things for hours. We built all sorts of shit. We had airplanes that’d never fly in real life. We had badass castles with laser guns because that’s how it should’ve been. We built ashtrays, and used them as such, because, well, why not?


My father came home sometime after dark and saw the three of us sitting there all pie-eyed and surrounded by the carnage of his Lego collection and just froze. I wasn’t six anymore. My mom had been replaced in this tableau by two eighteen year-old men that were each larger than my dad. He walked into his bedroom and buried himself into a book where he belonged. The three of us went out and got drunk.


I’m not sure why I chose to reach for that prisoner transport Lego set when I was six. Maybe it was just the closest, or the coolest, but like I said previously, I had thought that there had to be one of the three sets that I could get away with touching. But I realize now that the whole thing was nothing more than a shell game. When I think of a “shell game”, I think of some deeply tanned islander sitting behind an upturned banana crate with three shells on top. Underneath one of the shells a nut is hidden, and if only you can be fast enough, smart enough, to keep track as his hands blur and the shells shuffle, you’ll always know where the nut is. You’ll be able to tap the right shell with a knowing finger and win a small handful of cash. But the damn game is rigged. Sleight of hand is in play and the nut is swiped before the shells stop moving. You’re damned, no matter which shell you choose, you’ll lose. You’ll see stars.


But every silver lining has its cloud, or at least that’s the way I learned it. One of the best things you can learn from your parents is what not to do, and I took notes. My children have Legos, but they live in a tub. I try to avoid the mistakes of my father, and sometimes I fail, but my indiscretions are small in comparison and my odd quirks are leavened with compassion. Hell, as long as neither one of my daughters grow up to be a writer, I’ll be scot-free. And to be a writer is why I wrote this. Someone whose opinion matters greatly to me told me that “if you can write about your life, you can write about anything.” I’m paraphrasing what she had been told by one of her writing teachers, but I think the statement holds truth and I’m doing my best to pay it credence. I sit in front of this computer and try to bleed my thoughts on to paper, as Earnest H. sort of put it, and I write. I sit back and watch my wife read through my writing as she looks for typos, and when she’s through, I write. I remember things from when I was young that are unsavory, and today, I wrote.

Shell Game



Anyway, I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here:  If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here:


My wife has a friend who looks a lot like Uma Thurman. She has two adorable kids that are big on their please and thank you’s and every once and a while, they’ll come over to socialize with my two monsters or we’ll take them out. Last time, the wife and I took the foursome to one of those warehouse sized indoor amusement parks that are filled with enormous inflatable playhouses wherein the children get all cracked-out on slushies and nacho cheese and literally bounce from stimulus to stimulus like rabid pin-balls. The place is called Big Bounce, but from what I’ve seen, there’s something similar in any good sized town. Good healthy American fun.

Anyway, as soon as we walked in and sat down, I popped in a pair of those foam ear plugs that expand in your ears like some sort of parasite and I flipped on my Kindle. As soon as that foamy pressure filled my ears and the ungodly cacophony dimmed to white noise, I took a calming breath and imagined an enormous glass bowl lowering slowly around me. It was peace amidst a fructose fueled madhouse. I read for fifteen minutes or so until my wife got bored and shook my shoulder. She knows how much I love the spectator sport of people watching and she had found quite the specimen.

I followed her clandestine nod and found a man in his early fifties with a super sweet salt-and-pepper mullet and a handlebar mustache that was in need of some serious grooming. “In God’s Hands” was boldly printed on his hoodie. He was wearing a Monster energy drink hat, complete with the green claw marks, and he was drinking a Monster as if he were sponsored. Stone washed jeans wrapped up his ensemble nicely. This guy was rockin’ his approximation of “cool” with pride. I guess I’m not old enough to know, but maybe the getup was cool at one point in time. Maybe he was just one of those guys that stagnated when the next movement in fashion came along. Maybe his sense of cool was frozen in carbonite right along with Han Solo.

And that’s when I turned off my Kindle and took the plugs out of my ears. I started looking around as the noise came crashing back in and realized that I was right in the middle of some of the most epic people watching of all time. We were surrounded by bedazzled jeans and crimped hair and neck tattoos. There were fat men with too small shirts that probably couldn’t bend over far enough to see exactly how much they were exposing. There were women that managed to show ass-crack and tramp stamp and piercing all at the same time. It was awesome. I felt like Jane Goodall must’ve amongst her treasured primates.

My wife looked at me and said “you’re probably the smartest person here right now.” Not many things are worthy of a high five but that comment was (but of course we didn’t actually high-five because it would’ve alerted the redneck herd that an outsider was in their midst). I was smugly satisfied for a while until I realized that being the smartest person in Big Bounce is like being the smartest kid on the short bus. Oh well. I leaned back in my chair and started thinking all sorts of random thoughts. I imagined what it’d be like if Big Bounce were suddenly cut off from the rest of the world. Would I manage to take control Lord of the Flies style thanks to my only slightly higher education? I imagined a world without automated dispensers of nacho cheese, because that’s literally what this place had. I imagined the ebola monkey breaking in the front door and running rampant as I laughed like a maniac. I’m not saying they were all pleasant thoughts.

Right in the middle of my somewhat morbid revelry, a three-hundred-pound eleven-year-old walked in front of me. Look, I’m not judging the child here so please don’t get insulted yet. I know it’s the parent’s fault. I know that even the parents probably had to deal with hardship and that they’ve never come within light years of anything resembling nutritional education. I try to have empathy for childhood obesity, but it’s really hard to pull off when the kid is wearing a triple XL “T” shirt that’s covered with pictures of cheese burgers and french-fries. I shit you not. This kid’s shirt looked like it should’ve been a table cloth at McDonalds. The wife and I saw him at the same time and then turned slowly to look at each other with “WTF” expressions. She and I could’ve both fit into this kid’s sweatpants at the same time, and yet his parents had intentionally bought him a shirt that loudly proclaimed a proud love of fatty foods. Unbelievable.

Look; I feed my children trash occasionally. If you look closely in the picture of this kid, you’ll see the multiple slushie cups and ice cream wrappers and troughs of nacho cheese smothered chips that we were feeding our kids, but they see this type of exorbitance as a luxury. It’s an extremely rare frivolity. This poor kid lived his life that way. Every day for him was probably sans vegetable. I really felt for this kid; few things make me sad but this truly did. And it was impossible to stop thinking about it too, because even when you couldn’t see him, it was easy to tell exactly where he was. You could look out over the inflatable playhouses and see one of them swaying a good deal more than the others. It was like watching that T-Rex walk thought the forest in Jurassic Park 2. It’s impossible for me to not make comparisons like that. I hope you’ll forgive me.

The stress of that much excitement and sugar finally got to the four kids we were responsible for and they started to flock back to us. You could tell that one or two of them had cried at some point. One of mine was staring wide-eyed off into the distance as if her mind had finally snapped thanks to too much chocolate and cardio. My other child was sticky wherever not protected by clothing. They had had a great time, but it was time to go. We walked out past incoming hoards of children that would also make for some great people watching someday and finally made it to the parking lot. I watched the front door for a while as my children were buckling in and made the off-hand comment to my wife that Big Bounce should change their name to ‘Merica. We both laughed, but in hindsight, maybe we should’ve thought a bit harder about what we were laughing at.


Anyway, I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here:

Burger Shirt

Creepy Shit my Daughter Says

My youngest daughter had been reticent for a good while as we were driving home in my truck when she suddenly turned to look at me from her car-seat in the back. I looked in my rear-view at her ridiculously blue eyes, and in a matter-of-fact tone, she said “dad, I love you guys way more than my last family. You know, the mom and dad I had two thousand years ago.” Frankly it freaked me out a little bit. I turned around when we got to a stop light and made eye contact just to make sure she hadn’t sprouted horns or something; she gave me a content little smile and looked back out her window. That was that. Weirdness came out of her mouth, my eyes got wide, and then she drifted back off to that mystical little place where four-year-olds live.

That’s just some nonsense that children say, right? I mean, it’s not like my precious little monster is actually some reincarnated soul that remembers a past life, right? I guess I’ve got a weird streak too because I my thoughts went down that road. What if she can remember past lives? What if she has some sort of special power that gives her insight alien to the rest of us? What if she’s some sort of reincarnated deity and there’s a group of her followers out there that’ll find this blog via Google and then show up at my door dressed in white and smelling of incense? What if I just took this way too far?

A couple weeks passed and we were on our way home when I heard her say “daddy?” from the backseat again. I took a deep breath and met her eyes in my mirror once more hoping that she just had to go potty or something and I shit you not, she said “don’t worry daddy, it’ll all be over soon because I’m dreaming”. I had to argue with this one so I said “no hunny, we’re awake right now.” She looked at me with that small smile we all reserve for idiots and said “No we’re not. I can always tell when I’m dreaming because I can wake up. Silly daddy.” I wanted to respond but it was too late. She was already looking out her window and our conversation was over.

I guess maybe moments like these might be karmic retribution; sometimes I mess with my children. It’s a father’s right. On a different ride home, my daughter told me that the music was too loud as she covered her perfect little ears with her perpetually sticky hands. I looked at her in the mirror and said “that’s only because you’re not dancing. Music can never be too loud if you’re dancing”. She considered that for a moment, and then broke out into some dance moves that were hard to distinguish from an epileptic seizure. She smiled and told me I was right. A few months ago before the snow stuck to this desert of ours, she and I were outside playing with a pinwheel and laughing. The wind stopped, her pinwheel slowed, and her smile turned upside down. I looked at her with a grave expression and asked her if “daddy should use some of his magic to make the wind come back.” She nodded as if I were asking about something commonplace, I pretended to concentrate and made a vague hand gesture, and luckily, the wind picked up and her pinwheel started spinning. She nodded her little head and smiled; she’s completely convinced that I have wizard like control over the elements and I’m not saying anything to dissuade her. Sue me.

The last bit of creepiness happened only a few nights ago when I heard her start crying in her room and then abruptly go quiet. I went to investigate and comfort, but when I asked her what was wrong, she said “nothing. I was scared of death, but then I remembered that you’re stronger than death and you can squish him.” I gave her a long hug that was just as much for my comfort as it was hers and then I left her in the comfort of a large blanket and the dark. At first, I was only bothered by the fact that she referred to death as “him”. It’s not like we tell her stories of the grim reaper at bed time so I have no clue where she got that. But when I was almost back to my couch and its pillows, I froze in mid stride totally rocked by the implications of what she had said. That little blissful creature that is my youngest daughter had an ungodly amount of faith in me, and I can’t help but think that it might be misplaced. Sometimes, the stresses of my rather comfortable life seem almost insurmountable. Sometimes, it feels as if even the mundane bullshit might crush me. However, this daughter of mine, this pure little blue eyed girl, knows for a fact that her daddy is strong enough to defeat death as if “he” were merely a fly under my mighty boot. That’s a lot to live up to. I went back to my couch hoping that I could be one tenth of what she expects.

Anyway, I’ve decided just to roll with it. Other than searching Craig’s List for a charlatan specializing in exorcisms, I really don’t have much choice. Kids just say crazy things. That has to be it. It’s a fact; Bill Cosby made a fortune on a show based on it once his pudding-pop career started going downhill so it has to be true. She still spouts off with some weird shit now and then but I keep telling myself that it’ll be okay. When she walks up to my wife and tells her that “grandpa Lynn isn’t real anymore because he’s dead” we all laugh (which is weird in and of itself). When she wakes up from a nap and walks over to me and says “dad, I’m sorry for not singing to you for a hundred years” I just hug her (that one’s from today by the way). My daughter is weird, weird is special, and special is wonderful. That’s how we see it.

By the way, my book is free today, so if you have a Kindle, there’s really no reason not to download it: