Intimidation; violence is the last refuge of the incompetent

There are many tools in a writer’s arsenal. Rhetoric is the preferred method because it relies on the idea that one has an idea to sell, and thus to persuade by rational means. This is one end of the spectrum of that which is available to someone who chooses to communicate through written language. It appeals to reason; reason must be found in the individual being appealed to for it to be effective.

Another method, one might consider in the middle of the spectrum, is an appeal to emotion. This appeal to emotion may be an attempt to exploit the fears of someone, but also may be an attempt to reach someone who is not in a reasonable state of mind by appealing to their better angels, as is often said, but is more akin to diverting a raging torrent toward a safer passage, one that does not leave destruction in its wake and helps carry that person away from undesirable action. This method is not the preferred technique, nor is it a negative one necessarily. It is in fact, something that you cannot avoid when reason is not on the table. One could use this method to appeal to reason and put it back on the table, but it is just as likely that the individual could be manipulated away from reason and to appeal to the lower impulses, the destructive impulses, the fears, the desperation, in order to further one’s cause. For this reason it is neutral as it has potentiality to carry one toward reason, or away.

The other end of the spectrum is intimidation. Instead of an appeal to reason, it is the use of verbal force to elicit a response in someone that you desire, by whatever means one finds available. For instance, if one finds oneself in a situation that could become physically violent, verbal intimidation may stop that violence. For this reason alone, it is on the end of the spectrum that is acceptable behavior since it does have a use that can be put towards respecting the dignity and safety of other human beings, but it has to be a last resort since fear does not last long, and it can easily escalate a situation just as it can tone it down. There lies at the extreme end, something that is absolutely unacceptable, and that is pure intimidation to impose your will on someone else. This is, and never should be, acceptable.

When you do not have something to offer, you tend toward the other side of the spectrum, and that is manipulation, and by various methods. There is nothing nefarious about this alone, since talking someone who is angry out of committing a murder by intimidating them with the consequences is in itself, an attempt to use reason when reason cannot be used, in order to convince someone that reason must not be forgotten.

However, just as it can be constructive, it can be destructive if one chooses to simply use intimidation, a verbal destruction of another human being to reduce them to feeling like they are nothing, have nothing, and are therefore helpless. The line between this form of verbal violence and the escalation into physical violence is a very fine line, one that is often crossed too easily and for this reason it is a deplorable technique and speaks volumes about the person who would use it. There is no sense of amicability, empathy, understanding, but solely the desire to manipulate another human being to be subject to your agenda.

Much speech is, ultimately, the act of persuasion. And for this reason, one must always keep a critical, rational, skeptical and balanced mind that is ready to look at both sides of any issue, and try to understand before acting. However not everyone does this.

Intimidation, to those who are so weak, so insecure, lacking in any kind of moral fortitude or conviction of values, is the only tool they know. For this reason they are cowards. For this reason, they are weak. For this reason, they must be dealt with in the most severe manner possible because anyone who experiences intimidation, has been subject to verbal violence. This will, not can, but will far more often than not turn into physical confrontation because, to quote Isaac Asimov, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent”. Those who offer nothing, can only take from others.

It is clear to anybody with and astute mind at this point, that I am saying something without saying something. If anyone perceives this, they would be absolutely correct. I cannot go into details about specific events in my own life, without worrying about the effects it may have on other events I have sent in motion, for one simple reason.

I do not intimidate. I do not use intimidation in the most despicable sense, and I do not accept it. I don’t get intimidated. I will go after anybody who uses it on me because if they do so, they will do it to someone else, and I will not respond in the way they want, which will lead to an eventual escalation and possibly physical violence to me, but there is no universe in which I will allow that to happen to somebody else. None.

I would like to be perfectly clear to those of you who are checking me out to figure out who I am, what I am, and why something you may or may not have tried, again I cannot get into specifics, did not work. The people who use intimidation do not know that they are weak and raise themselves up simply to fall much much further. One can fall the full height that hubris lifts them. Repeatedly. Publicly. For this reason it is best to stay on the ground, but some choose to lift themselves above others, and risk the fall. Which takes but one nudge.

I am writing this because satire is not well received quite often, but also because of a specific event I cannot get into. Not out of fear, but out of justice because I have taken a path recently that has left me knowing that I might face physical violence. To the empathy death sociopathic weak cowards who may or may not exist in events that may or may not have happened recently, I would like to send a message, and send a message to all those in the future who might choose to use that technique on me.

You can all go fuck yourselves. I will burn all of you to the ground no matter who you are. If you have one cent to your name and you do something that will hurt other people, and you aim it at me, you will never be hurting other people again. If you have a billion dollars to your name, it changes nothing. You have failed but you have not read what I will openly tell you. I will not start a war. But I will spare nothing in finishing it.

These are words I have always believed, but have never had to stand up to and show until recently – hypothetically. If there is someone out there, who thinks they are safe because they can hide, in the past, in the present, or in the future, know this; I’m out of my goddamn mind. I am that person that you come across who is polite, respectful, will do anything to help somebody who needs it if it is within my power, but I will mercilessly pursue through every legal avenue, using freedom of speech, using every resource I can imagine – and I am very imaginative – to make sure you do not have one moment of rest for the entire duration of your life if you ever make me do this because I have seen you use intimidation, and you need to be taught to stop.

You are not safe. I will douse us both in gasoline, smile, and light the match. And the last thing you will hear is my laughter. Anyone who has nothing to hide has nothing to fear from me. I am friends with everyone until proven otherwise. I believe tolerating disagreement to be one of the greatest virtues a human can cultivate within themselves.

But if you cross that line, and you choose to use tactics that hurt people against me, you have found someone who will never let it drop until justice has been carried out, and you will never be in the position to do it to someone else after having failed to use that technique on me. Someone who will do the things you don’t think people will do, because you’re Someone. It is worth remembering that Odysseus fooled the Cyclops by pretending to be “no one”. When the Cyclops cried out for help, he received none because they believed that if “no one” had done this, it was deserved and the vengeance of the gods for the blinded Cyclops unjust acts.

And, as a hypothetical, let’s say that someone has my home address and chooses to use it to intimidate me. I have attempted reason, I have attempted an emotional appeal to make someone feel shame for acting in a manner that is beneath decent behavior, but they choose to intimidate me. Hypothetically. They insist I’m no one.

To this person I say simply, you are too stupid to know what you just stepped into. You lost the moment you started playing. Because I’ve already played you and you don’t know it yet, so if you enjoyed digging your own grave, keep going. I do not hide behind pseudonym. I conduct my business in the open, and even more importantly, and I would like to stress this most of all – I know when to stop. It’s not personal to me, but it is personal when I know it will be done to someone else if I do nothing. Vendettas are emotional fetters, not bravery.

Let this be a warning to anybody who chooses that route with me. In the past, present, or future. There is no life worth living in fear. I’m going to say that one more time so it’s perfectly understood.

There is no life worth living in fear. Attempts to intimidate me because I could, hypothetically, embarrass some rich coward hiding behind an email address who is breaking the law, will end in justice as well as a very public spectacle. I do things in the open, as Diogenes the Cynic did. I do know this makes me annoying, but I sleep well at night.

The world as I write this into 2021 is a world in which pathetic people hide behind names saying the most hateful vile things on public platforms confident that they will never be called out on it. In response there is a plethora of dedicated groups of individuals who collectively decide that they want to mete out justice on their terms per their ideologies. I intend on destroying all Echo Chambers. I’m not on anybody’s side so don’t court me because I will turn on you at some point if I see you do something that I think is wrong. If you intimidate me, attempt to do so at your own peril because I’ll burn us both if it means protecting someone else.

Brutal honesty is the only answer I have to the toxic lies that I constantly see passed around by people who simply are miserable and don’t know it, unfulfilled empty lives and they feel the need to spread it to others. Would you like to know who I am? Not them, is the answer. I don’t hide. I’m no one. So are most people.

And I will add one last thing to the person or people who know who they are, that will probably be reading this in the near future wondering how the hell they ended up where they were. You didn’t fucking listen. You fell on your own sword and it’s your own damn fault since I gave you an out, I appealed to reason, but you hide in the shadows like a cockroach. You attack from the shadows.

But once you’re out in the light, and I am a bright fucking light, you can’t hide anymore. You were warned so back the fuck off and stay that way for me or anybody else you would ever think about pulling that on again because you got the kid gloves this time. Lessons are taught once, and the only once. Twice is for those who didn’t learn the first time, but fortunately no one’s made it to twice. Yet.

That’s why you’re checking on my Twitter account that is barely followed by anyone and I’m posting this to since, if I’m such a nobody, why are you reading this? Why are you worried enough to check me out? Looking for dirt? Have fun trying, particularly when I moved on and you can’t yet. Hypothetically.

Destroy all Echo Chambers.

There is no other solution to stop the distracting noises that do not allow us to see ourselves and others as human beings, flaws and all, with all of our pain, and all of our greatness. It starts with looking yourself in the mirror every night and asking, ‘was I a good person today’? Most people tell themselves when they wake up that they are good to excuse their behavior to their internal Echo Chambers which confirm that they are.

There is no collective ideology or political movement that can fix that. It’s frightening to be alone, to not belong, because everyone wants to be someone, without realizing you’re only free when you truly are “no one”. No one can take anything from you and you see those who cling to their fame and hide behind hollow threats as the empty sacks of flesh they truly are. Intimidation only works if you feel someone can take something from you, something essential to your being. Poverty of spirit frees you and poverty of association will allow you to speak unencumbered and freely.

Of course as I’ve said repeatedly, I am a liar… Reread this all as if I’m some dangerous sociopath using this as cover to do the most unsavory things for grudges I will never let go. Food for thought? Fortunately, I’m nobody so you don’t know do you?

Good decent nice people don’t need to worry about the answer to that question, which is why that’s the preferred behavior of most people most of the time in real life when they have to make eye contact.

New short stories

New short stories have been posted… For the same reason any writer will, ultimately, put themselves out there for everyone, risking humiliation, and feeling invalidated as a human being at the risk of mockery, sharing their artistic vision with the world – money.

And just like every other writer, I have that one thing that we, as a united breed, all have in common – lack of business sense, because they’re up here for free.

Art for art’s sake? Either way, enjoy.

Allegedly

Allegedly

 

“No, no, no,” he said. “I know what you’re thinking. Just allegedly.” He paused to let that sink in.​​ 

The horrified woman clutched her child to her side even tighter as her​​ eyes widened in shock.

“Allegedly,” he emphasized further, with a brief pause. “I’m​​ the one who called the police about the severed heads. If anything, I’m the hero in the matter.”​​ 

He leaned down toward the young child, “and this young prince is going to​​ get to hear about it all tonight, aren’t you little fella’? You wanna know what the killer did to the bodies first? I betcha do, don’t you.” He stood back up, making eye contact with the mother, waving his hand dismissively. “Kids love hearing about this kinda stuff these days. Like them Saw movies. They go nuts for that gory shit.” He leaned back down to address the child. “And this was some gory shit I can guaran-fucking-tee you! You’ll never guess what he did with their gallbladders! Not in a million years!” He smiled at the young prince.​​ 

The young prince stared back blankly.​​ 

The hero took his cue and began to run frantically down the driveway, as he heard that Mr. and Mrs. Smithfield would in fact, not be attending the movies this evening and would, in​​ fact, be resuming the services of their previous babysitting agency, as well as installing home security at some point in the very near future.​​ 

 

The Sand Salesman

The​​ Sand Salesman

 

“Vintage sand.”

“Excuse me?”

The salesman adjusted his tie slightly, as did he his posture.​​ 

“I’m selling vintage sand, ma’am,” he said.

“Vintage… sand…” The barely over forty,​​ but still​​ quite​​ attractive, housewife​​ repeated in confusion.

“That is correct! Vintage. Sand.” He paused, smiling proudly. “You’ve got a nice front yard here, ma’am, and I really admire what you’ve done to accommodate during these last few years of the severe drought we’ve had. I down right admire you for it. And these Zen sand gardens are all the rage. Why, it won’t be too long until ALL of your neighbors have stopped bothering with these pesky green lawns, which require so much upkeep​​ and waste so much water. Why, I can see your neighbor across the street has a brown patch right in the middle of her yard there that she tried to cover up.”

The salesman paused briefly, to look both ways in an exaggerated motion, before bringing his hand to his mouth and saying softly, “But to be honest, it kinda looks like she might have used some green spray paint to cover up a dead spot.” He shook his head. “Down right bad for the environment, if you ask me. Puttin’ those pollutants down the pipes when you water the lawn. And how long does spray paint even STAY on organic grass for? Why, you gotta touch it up every so often, kinda like in those infomercials for the hair spray to cover when you’re balding.”​​ 

The salesman laughed a little too loudly and slapped his belly a little too hard.​​ 

“But soon, she, and I say that assuming it is a she,​​ ma’am, since statistically speaking​​ many​​ women do choose to stay at home, but as a choice of their own and a full time occupation for which they deserve pay but are unjustly denied it, I am using an arbitrary pronoun of the female gender​​ purely out of chance, as there was a fifty fifty I mighta said ‘he’,” the salesman said with a sly wink.

This impressed the housewife​​ slightly, and she involuntarily opened her front door from an eighty-four degree angle to an eighty-seven degree angle.​​ 

This did not go unnoticed.

“But she, or he, is going to be converting to a sand garden soon enough I tell you, soon enough.” He slapped his fist in his hand. “It’s the wave of the future, and they’ll remember YOU​​ were the one who​​ did it first. And quite frankly ma’am,” he said while he took off his fedora to reveal a robust hair of wavy brown locks, “they’re gonna resent you for it. It’s inevitable. They’re gonna resent you. Because you were first. I assume you yourself made the decision to have the sand garden in place of the green lawn, if I may assume​​ that is the case.”

“You may assume,” she said.

“I bet your hubby was downright against it. He said a real man has to have a healthy lawn. A green, beautiful healthy lawn, that he gets to mow on Saturday mornings​​ after a hard week of workin’ in a stuffy office, and pretends to hate​​ doing it, but really loves it​​ deep down.​​ Really loves it.​​ Because he gets that fresh odor of newly mowed grass and he feels like a man.​​ A real man. A man’s man.​​ Why, anything BUT a green grassy lawn on a nice house like this, why, that’s downright un-American.​​ I betcha he said it was un-American didn’t he?”

“He did,” she said.​​ 

“Sometimes people confuse dissent with disloyalty, ma’am.​​ I learned that from a smart woman, I did. God help those kinda people,​​ they mean well, but they just don’t understand, the water you’re saving on this lawn, there are all sorts of better ways to use that water​​ – why, it’s probably going right into the mouths of our troops​​ out there in the desert, and he didn’t quite understand that at first, did​​ he?”

“No, he did​​ not,” she said.​​ 

“But now he’s on board saying to everyone, ‘Hey, I’m watering the troops​​ instead of my lawn,​​ everybody,’ while he shows off the sand garden to the neighbors. ‘I’m a loyal American, and I’m watering the troops.’ I bet you he said that, didn’t he ma’am?​​ He said that and bragged to the neighbors,​​ to everyone he knew,​​ that he was ‘watering the troops’?”

“He did say he was​​ ‘watering the troops’​​ to several neighbors​​ and many other people,” she said.

“Some people,” the salesman said shaking his head​​ sadly. “He probably just gone and made the whole thing worse for you. Now they’re REALLY going to resent you for having the first sand garden on the block. Even after they get theirs, they’ll come sneakin’ by when they think you aren’t at home, think you aren’t lookin’, they’ll come sneakin’ by and pick up a hand full of your sand garden, and do you know what they’re going to say to themselves? Do you know what they’ll be muttering to themselves under their voice out of pure jealousy and resentment?​​ Do you have any idea what they will be sayin’?”

“I bet that’s not even real vintage sand,” she said.​​ 

The salesman slapped his fists together. “Yer darn tootin’!” he exclaimed. “That is exactly what they will say. Why, you​​ are a smart lady. It’s too bad you’re taken,​​ a darn shame,” he said with a wink. “They will say, ‘Why, that​​ is​​ not​​ real​​ vintage sand!’ and then they’ll go off and find some vintage sand for THEIR garden, so they can be the first one on the block with a​​ real vintage sand garden. They might not have been the first one on the block with a sand garden, but you bet they’ll be the first ones to claim that THEIR sand garden is the first one with VINTAGE SAND.”

“The first one with vintage sand,” she repeated.

“Yes ma’am,” he said, holding his fedora over his heart. “One hundred and fifty​​ year old vintage sand taken from the remains of an ancient Navajo settlement in​​ Northern​​ Texas. Now of course the sand is older than that. I mean, who knows how old sand really is? Can you tell me how old the sand in your garden really is?” he asked.

“No, I cannot tell you how old the sand in my sand garden really is,” she said.

“Well hot damn, there we go. I can give you the Teddy Lee guarantee that this is some vintage sand taken from the Navajo nation in​​ Northern​​ Texas from​​ one hundred and fifty​​ years ago, sealed in​​ sand bags during a ‘renovation’ after the inhabitants were​​ ever so​​ tragically removed from their land by force.” He shook his head again. “Sad thing to have happen, sad thing.​​ But​​ we can’t change the past, though we can make the best of a terrible tragedy.​​ This sand, it’s been sitting in a warehouse since 1867.​​ Real vintage sand – you might even call it a monument to the unspeakable tragedy that brought it into my hands. Real,​​ vintage sand.​​ I got a bill of ladling and everything.”

“I think you mean bill of lading,” she said.

“Well,” the salesman said laughing, “I do believe you are right ma’am. I misspoke. I do that when I get excited. Anyway, this sa-”

The woman sighed and cut him off.

“Teddy, I know you were against me getting the sand garden in the first place,” she said as she leaned against the front door,​​ leaving it fully open. “But, first of all, the Navajos weren’t in Northern Texas. If you want to go around trying to sell our neighbors​​ ‘vintage sand’ so we’re not the only people on the block with a sand garden to soothe your diminished masculinity, at-”

“Hey!” Teddy, the sand salesman interjected.

“TEDDY!” she​​ scolded.

The sand salesman stayed silent.

She continued.

“If you want to sell sand to our neighbors to soothe your diminished masculinity​​ at the loss of our ‘precious green lawn’, and cover up the fact that you went around telling our neighbors that you were ‘watering our troops’ by ‘filling their parched mouths’ with ‘your gift to them’ while they​​ were​​ ‘all hot in the desert’, and that you were practically ‘spraying them with​​ your gift’, I am not going to stop you. In fact, I would encourage you to do everything you can to make them forget that you said you were going to go around filling our​​ troops’​​ mouths with anything​​ at all.”

The sand man shrunk​​ back​​ and lowered his head.

“But for the love of God, at least get the basic facts of your BS backstory right. And drop the whole 1950’s salesman shtick, it just looks stupid. No one wears fedoras anymore,​​ Teddy, no one wears them except hipsters in their twenties trying to look cool. You are a​​ forty three​​ year old accountant who lost his job because he told his boss in front of the entire office that he likes​​ to​​ ‘spray into the mouths of our troops’​​ before explaining that it had anything to do with water, or a sand garden. You picked up some sand from the desert, put it in burlap bags and are now trying to sell it. And for the​​ further​​ love of God,” she added as she shifted more weight on to the door​​ and her voice hardened into​​ adamancy, “take off the fake nose and moustache. You’re not fooling anybody,​​ especially when you use your real name.​​ You just look like Teddy Lee the troop sprayer in a fake moustache and with a fake nose and for some reason I still don’t understand, a beige shade of​​ lipstick and some eyeliner. In fact, I really don’t want to know, because I don’t even have beige lipstick or that color eyeliner​​ – perhaps​​ you bought it yourself so you will​​ look better when you​​ go ‘spray the troops’ with what you’ve ‘saved up for them’​​ by​​ ‘holding off on using your hose’.”

She glared at him.​​ 

Her glare made her even more attractive.

“Now I have to go clean the kitchen and somehow try and​​ get all the sand you left there out of the tile floor.​​ You know actually accomplish something with my day, because I had a busy week, unlike some of us.​​ So take off the stupid outfit,​​ and go sell some​​ ‘vintage​​ sand’​​ to people you’ve embarrassed both of us to,​​ or at the very least, make​​ ME​​ look like less of an idiotic ‘troop sprayer’,”​​ she​​ commanded,​​ slamming the front door in his face.

Teddy Lee,​​ the vintage sand salesman sighed.

“God,” he said under his breath, “what​​ died and​​ crawled up her a-”

“I CAN STILL HEAR YOU TEDDY,”​​ came loudly from behind the door

The sand salesman mouthed something silently to himself, then​​ put his fedora back on, brushed off his very wide lapelled suit, smoothed his fake moustache, and prepared to spend his now free Saturday morning going door to door as​​ Freddy Lee, the Vintage Sand Salesman.​​ 

The Swan

The Swan

 

“But you’re a swan…”

The swan nodded its head. It​​ made an obscene gesture​​ with one of its wings.​​ 

Leda folded her arms and stared at the swan, a​​ mixture of emotions​​ brewing​​ on her face.​​ The swan stared back expectantly.​​ 

“You… are… a…​​ swan!”​​ she cried​​ incredulously.

The swan made the obscene gesture​​ again, this time with​​ considerably​​ more enthusiasm. She could have sworn it was smiling.​​ 

Leda​​ stared​​ at the gesticulating swan​​ with eyes wide.​​ Her​​ thoughts​​ then​​ turned to the​​ men back in Sparta.​​ 

She sighed loudly.​​ 

“Oh…​​ hell, why not,” she said as she​​ threw her hands in the air.​​ “I’ll try anything once.​​ What’s the worst that could happen?”

The Hitler Next Door

The Hitler Next Door

 

“Hitler? As in Adolf Hitler?”

“I don’t know of any other,” Simon said.​​ 

“I didn’t ask you if you knew of any other Hitlers. I asked if you meant Adolf Hitler when you said you realized Hitler was living next door to you.”​​ The​​ tone​​ this was said in​​ was not pleasant.​​ 

“Sorry… Yes, I meant Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler lives next door to me.”

He sighed. “I’m really not sure even where to begin with that. When did you begin to think your neighbor was Adolf Hitler?”

“I knew as soon as he moved in.”

“How did you know?”

Simon stroked his once full head of hair. “I don’t know… just knew. I just knew he was Hitler the moment he moved in. I can’t explain it rationally, I can’t. But I knew right away.”

“You just knew?” The incredulous look that accompanied this question only frustrated Simon further.

“Look, I know how it sounds, ok? I know how it sounds, Adolf Hitler living next door.​​ It’s improbable. I know that. But I swear to God, he’s Hitler. I just know it.”

“Adolf Hitler is dead. He has been dead for a long time. He killed himself.”

Simon laughed. “Really, you think so? You really think so? What, because the Soviets said he killed himself? Those records aren’t reliable.”

“You don’t think that the records of what happened in world war two are reliable?

No,​​ I mean… yes… wait… Argh. You’re putting words into my mouth. I mean, some no, some are not reliable, but of course most are.”

“Just some?” This was said in a voice that rubbed Simon the wrong way.​​ 

“I mean about Hitler. Not in general. I’m just saying that it seems possible that he faked his death and escaped as the Soviets… don’t look at me that way. I know how it sounds. But I’m telling you, he somehow faked his death and he is living next door to me! Why won’t you believe me?”

“I didn’t say I don’t believe you. I’m just confused about this whole thing, and I’d like to make sense of it. Do you know what year Adolf Hitler was born in?”

“He was born April 20th, 1889,” Simon answered.​​ 

“Uhh… you know his birthday offhand? Why is it you know Adolf Hitler’s birthday offhand?”

“I looked it up. I wanted to … don’t give me that look.”

“I’m not. Please answer the question.”

“Argh,” Simon said with a dry throat. He sipped his water and tried to calm himself. “You don’t believe me, I know you don’t believe me. I looked it up. At first I thought, no way this guy could be Hitler, ‘cuz Hitler’s way too old to be alive… but I dunno… People are getting to live older and older, and if the Chancellor of Nazi Germany didn’t have access to life prolonging technology, a technical country like that, who would have? You see what I mean?”

“Oh, I see what you mean very well. How old would you say your neighbor is?”

“I don’t know… I can’t know, that’s my point. He looks like he’s in his sixties.​​ But he’s obviously older since he’s Adolf Hitler.”

“Would you describe your neighbor, please?”

Simon rolled his eyes. “Fine… I don’t know, maybe five foot ten, a hundred and fifty pounds. He’s old, very quiet, keeps to himself, which makes sense because Hitler wouldn’t want to draw attention to himself. He’s very clever.”

“I see. Would you say you can describe any other feature of your neighbor?”

Simon paused to think. “Uh… he has dark hair? Just like Hitler, you know, just like old Adolf.”

“And he’s African-American.” This was stated flatly.​​ 

“Oh… yeah. You see, that’s how clever he is.” Simon tapped his temple with his finger. “He’s really thought this out.”

“I’m sure he did… Mr. Strudelgruber, Simon… How long have you had a shaved head?”

“How long have I…? Oh, that’s right,” Simon Strudelgruber said as he patted his bald head, “the hair. I forgot. A week. I had to shave my head. I got lice from my dog Hermann. Or it was from the other one, the German Shepherd, Heinrich. The shampoos didn’t work.”

“You shave your head… and you have dogs named​​ Heinrich​​ and​​ Hermann…

Simon had a confused look on his face. “Yeah, I do… Why are you asking? They’re named after my two favorite authors, Hermann Hesse and Heinrich Heine. I don’t get…”

“They’re not named after the Nazi leaders Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler? And you shaved your head because of lice, not because of​​ any affiliation with a Neo-Nazi party?” This was delivered even more flatly.​​ 

“A member of…? What?” It was then that Simon realized where all these questions had been leading. “What?! No no no! No no no, no you’re so taking that out of-”

The judge banged his gavel as the courtroom erupted.​​ “Mr. Strudelgruber, please answer the questions as asked and refrain from raising your voice or I will hold you in contempt.” Judge Fiddlestein’s hatred was obvious.​​ 

The prosecuting attorney turned to the jury and sighed, before walking back toward the witness’s box to ask his next question as Simon began to panic.

“So, you believe that your neighbor, Mr. Charles Montgomery Davis, an African-American male in his sixties who has lived next door to you for only a month, is Adolf Hitler. You believe that he somehow escaped from Germany as the Soviets were closing in, received some sort of treatment that significantly reduced his age, and moved in next door to you? This is what you’re telling me?”

“Yes, but… that’s not fair. You’re making it seem ridiculous. It could happen, it could happen!” Simon’s face began to flush.​​ 

“Mr. Strudelgruber, do you have any knowledge of how a swastika came to be spray painted on Mr. Davis’s front door?” The prosecutor smiled.

“Yeah, I painted​​ it there.”​​ 

A​​ collective gasp​​ was heard in the courtroom. Simon’s face dropped.​​ 

Oh come on!!! No no no no, that’s not fair, I thought he was Hitler and I was trying to warn everyone that a Nazi lived there!!! No no no!”​​ 

The judge banged his gavel again. “One final​​ warning Mr. Strudelgruber! You will-”

Simon started shouting again over the judge. He’d finally had enough.​​ 

No!​​ ​​ This isn’t fair. I know he’s Hitler. You’re trying to make me look like a skinhead who was terrorizing a black man! I’m not! You don’t understand, you don’t understand! I’m not a skinhead, my dogs had lice… Look, he is Hitler. I’m telling you,​​ he is Hitler. I was trying to warn everyone. Don’t you people get it, don’t you get it? He’s going to kills us all!​​ He’s going to kill us all! LOOK AT HIM!!!”

Every set of eyes in the courtroom turned to Charles Montgomery Davis, the elderly African-American man sitting all alone in the last row. His gnarled arthritic hands rested on the back of the seat in front of him; his​​ sorrowful​​ eyes hung beneath a weakly furrowed brow, betraying the intense sadness he had so bravely tried to suppress, but was unable to; his jutted frame swayed ever so slightly, as he tried valiantly to keep himself upright while a​​ cloud of grief that hung about him at all times​​ oppressed him bitterly. Every heart in the courtroom broke, and all the eyes returned to Simon, filled with anger and outrage. The verdict​​ had yet to be formally passed, but​​ the outcome was obvious to all. ​​ 

Yet no one in the courtroom heard the tiny laugh that came from​​ “Mr.​​ Charles Montgomery​​ Davis”​​ when all the backs were turned to him once again as he muttered, “Schachmatt, mein freund; checkmate.”​​ 

He locked eyes with Simon and smiled.

Simon wept.

 

The Gilded Lily Pad

The Gilded Lily Pad

“Bobby…”

“Shut up.”

“Bobby…”

“I said, shut up!”

“Bobby…”

“Shut up, shut up, shut up! I’m trying to think. For God’s sake will you let me-”

“Bobby, we’re frogs.”

“I know we’re frogs. I know we’re frogs, Tommy, I know. I am trying to think if you’ll just let me.”

“We got turned into frogs.”

“Yes, I know!”

“I have a cloaca, Bobby. I have a cloaca now.”

“I know, and so do I. If only you hadn’t-”

“I didn’t know.”

“I know you didn’t know, Tommy. But that’s no excuse.”

“How could I have known?”

“Well, why the hell would it have even occurred to you to laugh at an old woman on the side of the road and call her a gypsy? Why on earth would you even think of that?”

“I was being ironic.”

“How exactly is that ironic?”

“Well I-”

“Don’t tell me. For the love of God don’t tell me. I don’t want to know what goes on inside your head.”

“Fine, Bobby. Fine, be that way if you’re going to be that way. But I didn’t know and it’s not fair for you to blame me.”

“Tommy, we’re sitting on a lily pad in the middle of a pond talking to each other. Blaming you is not the first thing on my- ribbit.”

“Oh my God did you just ribbit?”

“Oh God I just ribitted. Oh my God I- ribbit.”

“Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.”

“Shut up!”

“Hahahaha – ribbit. Holy crap!”

“Ha! See? You just ribbited too! Doesn’t feel so good now does it, Tommy?”

“… well… It kinda did feel good.”

“I… I know. Me too. I liked it.”

Ribbit. Hee hee!”

Ribbit ribbit ribbit.

“This… you know, Bobby… this isn’t so bad.”

“I was thinking the same thing. It’s a nice day out. We’re on a lily pad on the water where it’s cool and moist. Nothing to do but sit here, kick back and relax. Maybe, maybe this isn’t the worst thing that could happen.”

“I know Bobby… but my girlfriend… my girlfriend will leave me. She won’t want to be with a frog. She’ll leave me for good. She’ll find someone else in no time.”

“Yeah, you’re tellin’ me.”

“… What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, I didn’t say nothing, just ignore it. You’ll move on. The heart finds what the hear-”

“Don’t change the subject. What’s that supposed to mean, ‘you’re tellin’ me?”

“Tommy, you need to calm down. I didn’t mean anything by it, I’m just saying, maybe she… already has a few people in mind, or maybe, she maybe, kind of already was seeing… It doesn’t matter.”

“Who told you that?”

“No one.”

“Who the hell told you that?!”

“No one. I- Ok. I slept with her. And I wasn’t the only one. I mean I wasn’t the only one at that time.”

You son of a bitch!! How could you do that to me?! You are such an asshole, Bobby, you are such an asshole!!”

“Well… technically wouldn’t I be a cloaca now?”

“… Hahahahahaha. Ribbit. Oh well… we’re frogs now. I guess none of that matters anymore, does it?”

“No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter at all. Our old lives are gone. We’re frogs, and that’s that. No more girlfriends, no more bills, no more worries. Just eating flies, ribbiting, and sitting around on a lily pad enjoying ourselves. We have to accept our reality and make the best of it. It’s a gift in a way, it’s a gift.”

“Yeah. Yeah, Bobby, yeah. But… Uh… Does that make us…”

No it does not make us gay, Tommy. We’re just two heterosexual men who got turned into frogs by a gypsy woman and now happen to share a lily pad. And yes, we ribbit. But we are frogs. That’s what we do now as frogs. There is nothing gay about that. Just… just don’t mention the cloaca again…”

“Yeah… Ok.”

“Good. That’s settled.”

“Wait… Bobby… I just thought of something…”

“What?”

“What if that old gypsy turns us back?”