I will once again flag this as NSFW (Not Suitable For Work). Sam is a very creative writer – Simon
They drove and chatted for about 45 minutes when the rain came down, as they say, in buckets.
“Well, looks like all the information that Spitz taught me about collecting water was for naught,” Charles joked.
“Right now, yes. But you never know how you will respond when a crisis hits,” Paige said, as she popped in a CD. “I like singing in the rain.”
“Especially when you’re not getting wet,” Charles added. “Who did you put in?”
“Simon and Garfunkel.”
“Crank it up!”
Paige turned up the volume knob as far as it would go. “I thought you were only into Buffalo Springfield?”
“I never second guess the host,” Charles pointed out. “This rain is murder. Are you doing ok?”
“As best as I can. I have driven in worse. Hopefully, it is one of those storms that comes down like hell for a short period and then clears up, leaving a beautiful sky to gaze at,” she said.
“Spitz can predict the weather,” Charles said, shaking his head.
“Spitz can do a lot of things,” Paige said, as she slowed down because she suddenly saw flashing red lights up ahead. She turned the volume down. “Looks like trouble”.
Paige was right. There had been an accident and the state police were detouring any vehicles 15-20 miles around the main road because of the wreck.
“How long till we get back to your place now?” Charles asked.
“Another hour at least. I know the route. Lots of covered bridges and small town attractions to see if one has the time,” Paige said.
“We won’t be seeing much with this rain,” motioned Charles to the windshield where the rain was falling in torrents and being brushed side to side by the rapid movements of the wipers
The sweet sounding voices of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel filled the truck, and both Paige and Charles soon found themselves singing along.
The rain was coming down harder than it had been, and then thunder claps started booming with huge zigzag lightning flashes all around them.
“This is some storm,” Charles noted.
“I have seen bad ones, but not this bad. I’m going to slow down, so don’t get mad about arriving back at my place a lot later than I said,” Paige said.
“Better safe and late,” Charles said.
Paige slowed the two vehicles down not only because of the storm, but because they were coming to one of those old fashioned covered bridges. As she eased onto the bridge, the song Kodochrome started blasting from her CD player.
If you took all the girls
I knew when I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I knew they’d never match my sweet imagination
And everything looks worse in black and white
Both Paige and Charles then sang out loud with Paul and Art for the chorus part of the song.
You give us the nice bright colors
And then, just as they were hitting the high notes the tiny covered one-lane bridge they were on was T-boned, as they say, and jarred from its moorings and sent careening down river.
Later, when the weekend was over, Paige called Charles who was warm and cozy in his Beacon Street Townhouse telling him she had learned that a vessel full of Maine timber which had been anchored near Pohenegamock, Maine had been jarred loose by a flash flood from the storm that they had been riding in. Those logs smashed into the bridge they were on and had sent them on their special journey.
“So that’s how we ended up in Tiny Town, Maine somewhere near the Allagash Waterway State Park?”
Charles responded. “You doing ok?”
“Better, but I wish you were still here,” Paige confided.
They spent some time talking about all of the events of the past 48 hours and said their goodbyes. Charles knew that Paige was still in shock. He thought that he should have been too, given their
The accident happened so suddenly, there was no time to act, just to react.
To Charles’ utter horror, Paige, the survivalist expert froze up
To Charles’ amazement, he didn’t and started to take charge. He cut the truck’s engine, which, of course, shut down the CD.
Charles put the truck in neutral, because he remembered reading somewhere that was the thing to do in an emergency.
Shouldn’t I be pumping the brakes? He questioned himself and then remembered that was when the vehicle was sliding on ice.
“We’re sliding, but it ain’t on ice,” he yelled, as he tried to snap Paige out of it, as they say.
She just stared ahead, eyes wide open, jaw dropped, hands clinging to the steering wheel.
Charles, Paige, their truck, trailer and the bridge were being hurled down the swollen river at break neck speed and there was nothing they could do.
Charles, thinking they might all be submerged opened the glove compartment and found what he was hoping Paige the survivalist nut would have in it.
A ball peen hammer. “And I didn’t need my reading glasses to find it,” he said to Paige, who was still in shock.
I don’t keep one in my car, but I knew she would, he thought, as he gripped the hammer in his right hand ready to smash out the windshield when they went underwater.
He didn’t have to, because just as suddenly as the disaster started — it stopped, because the bridge was pushed up over the swollen water banks onto a small ridge.
Paige, the survivalist nut was still in shock and gripping the steering wheel like her life depended on it.
Charles was dizzy and lightheaded from the strange craft he now found himself on being turned around and around and around by the logs and water surge.
“The funny thing,” he later told Dr. Hancock, “was that as dizzy as he was, it wasn’t half as bad as he found himself when facing his fear of heights.”
But they weren’t moving and Charles hoped that was a good thing.
He gently grabbed Paige’s wrists with his hands.
“Ease down,” he commanded to her in a soft voice.
She wouldn’t relax her grip.
Think fast, he thought.
He stuck his right index finger in his mouth and made it as wet as possible. He then took it out, brushed back Paige’s hair over her right ear and stuck his finger in it.
This is called a Wet Willie.
It feels terrible to both the giver and the receiver.
But it does the job, as they say.
“That’s gross!” Paige yelled out, as she released her white knuckle grip from the steering wheel and started to look around at the surroundings. “What the hell happened?”
Charles thought about screaming many things at her, the least of which were obscenities.
But, discretion being the better part of valor, he tried to answer the question.
“Obviously, we are not in Kansas anymore Toto,” he said sarcastically.
“Can you answer my earlier question, please?” Paige begged him.
“I think you blacked out, Paige,” Charles said.
“I can’t believe that with all my knowledge and training that I did that,” Paige sobbed.
“Come on Paige, there’s enough water as it is. There is a first time for everything. Now, how about putting on your surviving the zombies thinking cap, and we get the fuck out of here,” Charles said, as he patted her on the shoulder very lightly.
Paige did nothing.
“I’m getting out and seeing if we can’t just drive the truck off the bridge and out of here, wherever here is,” Charles said.
“Better unhitch the trailer,” Paige muttered. “And you drive. I’ll put the truck in all-wheel drive when you get out and move to the passenger side. I don’t feel right.”
“Good idea,” Charles said, as he exited the truck. “You look fine, though,” he added as he shut the door and went to unhitch the trailer.
“I better get a look at where we are marooned before I unhitch the trailer and floor this baby out of here,” he said to himself.
Charles walked to the edge of the former covered bridge and surveyed the scene, as they say.
Surprisingly, the front of the bridge was lying flush on what Charles guessed was solid land, because when the lightening lit up the sky he saw clumps of trees, a lot of bushes and other foliage that he couldn’t in his wildest dreams identify. He thought about going back to fetch a flashlight and shine it on the land, but he thought that once he got the truck to the edge he was standing on, the headlights would give him a better view of what lies ahead. He went to unhitch the trailer and was surprised how easy that chore was.
Just like unhooking a train that was just robbed in the westerns, he mused. This made him feel better, because he was worrying about Paige and the predicament they were in. Worse, he thought, if she withdraws anymore, she’s going to be a terrible fuck when we get home.
Even in an emergency situation like this, it seemed that Charles Craig Curtis kept his wits about him because getting laid always seemed to be his objective.
He climbed into the driver’s side of the truck and put the gear shift into park. He muttered a stupid prayer under his breathe and started the engine. It fired up, and he looked at Paige, who managed a slight smile back at him. Charles noticed that her skin was white as a summer cloud against a bright blue sky, and felt her forehead with the back of his hand.
“You don’t have a temperature.”
“Good,” she sighed, as her head slumped against his shoulder. He unbuckled his seatbelt and reached over and buckled her in. He let her slink down against his side, re-did his seatbelt and inched the truck to the front of the bridge.
As he gunned the engine he thought, maybe I should have taken that Lucy up on her offer and brought her to Boston after all! Maybe I am jinxed by Andy Warhol?
Then just as quickly as he pushed down on the gas pedal, he eased up.
Maybe I should slowly drive the truck off the bridge and onto the ground and then up that embankment, he thought.
“Charles you are not an indecisive man,” he said out loud. “Make up your mind if you gun or crawl out of here in this truck.”
He looked at Paige, hoping she might snap out of her trance and offer up some advice.
“Get out of here like a bat out of hell!” she screamed, momentarily regaining her strength.
So, Charles Craig Curtis decided to go for the jugular, as they say, and proceeded to slowly back the truck down until the truck’s rear bumper started to push against the now unhitched horse trailer. Naturally, the horse trailer jackknifed and Charles couldn’t back down as far as he wanted.
“It will have to do,” he said. He put the gear back into neutral and started to rev the engine.
“Ready for Rat Patrol, Paige?” Charles asked her. “Wait a second. Then what?” he asked her.
Charles was thinking about Rat Patrol which was a TV program that ran on ABC for a few seasons during the 1960’s. Set during WWII it featured machine gun mounted jeeps flying through the desert with ease chasing after Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps. Charles liked the show when he was young boy and now was his chance to see if he could put his viewing pleasure to real use.
After this initial burst of macho from his youth passed, he whipped out his iPhone and fumbled for his reading glasses, because he had just answered his own earlier question of “then what?”
“My map app, of course?” he shouted as he put on his reading glasses. He glanced over at Paige, who Charles finally realized had turned into a “zombie”.
“Talk about lousy karma. It has to be the curse of Andy Warhol,” he said, as he looked at the map app to find out just where it would tell him he was stuck.
His phone was as responsive as Paige.
“Damn, I hate lousy reception!” he shouted.
He put the gear in neutral and started pumping the gas pedal. The truck’s engine came alive with a monster roar.
“Just like I was at a NASCAR race,” he told Dr. Hancock at his next therapy session.
He threw the gear shift into drive.
And drive the truck did.
It flew right out of the covered bridge and not onto land but into land.
“Quicksand!” Paige shouted, but still didn’t move a muscle.
Charles didn’t know if Paige was wrong and didn’t want to wait around to see if she was right. The truck (and them in it) was sinking fast.
He reached behind the front seats that they were in, because on the way to sell Holly to Spitz, Paige had said she kept a knapsack full of ‘important things’ in case of emergency.
Hope there is something in here that will get Paige back on earth, tell us where we are and also save me from Northern Maine, he thought, as he grabbed that ballpeen hammer and bashed out the driver’s side door window.
He heaved the knapsack as far away as he could, unbuckled Paige, moved her over his body and the steering wheel, as gently and quickly as possible, and pushed her out the window; but not before grabbing her ass as lustfully as the moment called for.
“I couldn’t resist,” he later told Paige, when their ordeal was over “and you have such a great ass.”
“What did you say to me when you grabbed my ass before you pushed me out the window?” she asked him.
“I’m glad it’s not a fifty story building,” Charles joked.
“You hate heights,” Paige pointed out.
Charles rolled his eyes.
Charles did yell out “I’m not dying here and neither are you!” He followed Paige through the window and scrambled away from the truck with her in tow.
They were lucky; the truck quickly sank up to its roof.
“Damn, I loved that truck,” Paige said.
“Do survivalists carry insurance?” Charles asked sarcastically, as he grabbed her by the arms and lifted her to her feet.
“Where we going?” she asked.
Charles pointed to the top of the embankment.
“Which sack did you grab?” Paige quietly asked Charles.
“The first one I could fine. It is right here,” Charles said as he bent to pick it up.
“That’s not the one that will help us in this rain,” Paige said weakly.
Charles opened it up and started to see what was in it. The strong lightning bolts lit up the sky to help him see what he was looking at, having his reading glasses handy sure helped, too.
He also noticed that the rain was now a fine drizzle, which didn’t matter, because they were soaked from jumping or in Paige’s case, being pushed into the muck. Charles anger and his own satisfaction at how he had handled the danger were keeping him warm and surprisingly focused. Paige was still in semi shock, and Charles thought that must be keeping her unaware of how chilly it was.
“Let’s see, we have a survival fisherman’s kit. Does this mean a woman can’t use it?” he asked Paige sarcastically. “I mean shouldn’t it read ‘survival fisherpersons kit?’”
No response from Paige and this worried Charles. He started to hope that he would soon find what his father called “a Jewish man’s log” in the sack.
Charles had always liked building fires in a fireplace or in a pit dug out in his back yard. He had one slight problem. He could only build a fire if he kept squirting lots of lighter fluid… LOTS! His father said that Jews were only good at burning down apartment houses that they owned. This is also known as “Jewish Lightning”. His father hated the smell of lighter fluid and bought Charles a Duraflame Log. Charles’ father called it a “Jewish man’s log’, and the name stuck with Charles. The log was made up of 100% renewable resources that were compressed coals wrapped in paper that burned like wood. Charles would sprinkle kindling on top of the log, and light the paper. He loved the results and only had to throw wood on to keep the fire robust.
“Better then rubbing two sticks together,” Charles said to his dad the next time they sat by one of Charles’ fires.
“You couldn’t start a fire even if both your sticks were matches,” his father said.
Charles knew he had been beat.
At least she is breathing, he thought as he wondered what the hell happened to the woman, who only hours earlier looked ready to take on an army of zombies?
Charles looked at all the water flowing rapidly twenty yards from them and knew with the fisherman’s kit, they wouldn’t starve. He reached for the next item and adjusted his reading glasses to see it better in the light that the nonstop lightning was giving off.
“Datrex Emergency Drinking Water,” Charles said with a sigh. “Like we don’t have enough H-two-oh around us as it is.”
He fished in the sack for another item and came up with Potassium Iodide.
“What the hell is Potassium Iodide?” he asked Paige.
“It protects your thyroid in case of a nuclear accident,” Paige said… weakly.
“Of course, I wash the pill down with my Datrex Emergency Drinking water,” Charles said. “I wish potassium iodide would get us to a warm and cozy cabin where we can find out where the hell we are and make plans to get back to Rosewater.”
“Me, too,” whispered Paige, “but a true survivor has to have Potassium Iodide or you wouldn’t be considered a serious survivalist.”
“Oh boy,” Charles said, as he rummaged into the sack hoping to find something useful. He pulled out a small canister and squinted in the best light that the diminishing lightning could offer to see what he was holding up.
“What’s this? I can’t read the writing on it,” he said, as he handed the little canister to Paige.
“It’s an emergency portable water filter system,” she said. “I can tell by its shape.
“Great, more things we don’t need right now. There’s enough fresh water around here to fill a desert,” Charles said, as he held up his hands to the Heavens. “I think the rain might be stopping.”
“Just because its water, doesn’t mean it is fresh and ready to drink. You can live without food for a decent amount of time, but not water,” Paige said.
“You sound stronger. Finding your sea legs?” Charles said with a chuckle.
“Lousy pun,” she said.
“Let’s start walking. Is there anything worth a damn in this knapsack?”
“Everything is important, just not right now. Grab it, will you. There are also a couple of plastic canteens and some emergency daily water germicidal tablets. If we have to walk far, we will need water, and that water which almost killed us isn’t drinkable, but will be with the tablets I have in there,” Paige said. Then out of the blue she started laughing hysterically. Charles thought she was going crazy and figured that is what happens to people who are in shock first — they go crazy when they realize they were in shock and what brought them to that stage in the first place.
“What’s so funny?” he asked innocently.
“I have a three pack of rubbers in there,” she said, still laughing.
Charles started to howl and mentioned to her that he was going to fuck her three times, but he wasn’t wearing the rubbers.
“Of course not, I need them to hold fresh water,” she said.
“Isn’t that what canteens are for?” Charles asked her.
“To drink out of. The water in the rubbers will be for storage,” she said.
Charles didn’t know how to respond to that. He grabbed her arm to start heading down the nearest road.
“Why this way?” she asked him
“It’s downhill. Downhill is a lot easier in wet clothes,” Charles said.
“Good point,” she said. “Be glad we have liquid and no food to worry about in these woods.”
“Why? I like food. Gives me strength,” Charles said, as he posed like a bodybuilder.
“There is one thing I hate about being stuck in the wilderness after eating solid foods,” Paige admitted. “It’s almost a phobia with me.”
“What is it?” Charles said.
“I hate having to take a crap out in the woods and having nothing to wipe with. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. But being the survivalist expert that I am, I look for dry leaves, grass or in the worst case use my hand and wash later.”
“I have a solution for that,” Charles announced proudly.
“Make sure you always have a magazine or newspaper with you,” he said.
“To take my mind off it?”
Charles then told her the story about how Gary Harte found out about Charles Craig Curtis nee JL Bernard in the airport toilet.
That made Paige break out in laughter, and Charles soon followed suit.
The laughter helped take the misery out of how wet and lost they were. It also helped that the rain suddenly came to a complete halt.
They walked for quite a while and were happy that the rain had stopped. The lighting still was taking place to help illuminate their way.
But where were they and what way were they going?
Suddenly, in between bolts of lightning, they saw a silhouette of what looked like a small town.
And what a small town it was!
As Charles and Paige got closer with each step, the town’s building seemed to shrink in front of their eyes.
“Do you see what I see?” Charles asked his companion.
“Either we are getting larger or the buildings are getting smaller,” Paige noted.
“Maybe we should have popped the potassium iodide after all,” Charles said.
“Why do you say that?” Paige asked, as she stopped and looked at the sign announcing the name of the town.
“Because it appears that all that has happened is the result of nuclear fallout and our punishment via the side effect is to grow into giants,” Charles joked, as he put on his reading glasses and bent down to read the town’s sign. It was dirty from the storm, and he wiped it clean as best as he could with his wet sleeve.
It read: Strattonville
“You ever heard of this town?” Charles asked Paige, as he pointed to the name.
They were both about to get a history lesson for the ages, as they say.
They noticed not only how dark the town was, but how small the buildings and homes were. The structures all appeared to be on only one street, which made no sense to either one of them.
“Maybe it is a graveyard for old carnival rides?” Charles said.
“This would seem to be the place to have one of those,” Paige said.
Paige grabbed Charles’ left hand with her right and squeezed it.
Charles knew she was nervous. He was, too. But he wasn’t going to show it. He feared if it were not a graveyard it might be a junkyard, which meant a mean dog was somewhere lurking. He remembered what to do in case of coming face to face with a ferocious dog.
Charles Craig Curtis knew a lot about mean dogs. He and Max had met their fair share of them during their walks together in the Back Bay.
“And not all of them were Rottweiler or Doberman,” he had once told Anne, after she had been attacked, recovered and was thinking of getting aw attack dog for protection.
“A German Shepard then?” Anne asked him.
“Very smart dogs. But when you’re not jogging or walking through that crazed city of yours, what are you going to do with the dog?” Charles asked her.
“Leave it in my apartment. It can protect my stuff,” she said.
“Be fair to the dog, Anne. Don’t get one if it is going to be nothing but a knick-knack for your apartment. Just don’t go into unsafe places, although there aren’t many of those in New York City,” Charles pointed out.
“Why don’t you and Max move in with me?” she half joked.
“Max doesn’t like New York City,” Charles said.
As Charles slowly walked through the darkened street of Strattonville with Paige’s grip tightening with every step, he was expecting to see a junkyard dog at any moment and he was prepared.
Stand still and slowly let the animal sniff you and hope it doesn’t sense fear and look for something solid to crack it over the head with he thought, as he looked around for something — anything to help him fight the crazed dog attack that he was sure was coming.
He suddenly felt something up against his left buttock and thought Paige had grabbed him there. He glanced at her, but that was impossible, because she was gripping his right hand in her left and there was no way she could reach behind her own back to touch his tush. He was about to turn around when he heard the low, tough, and mean sounding voice.
“Don’t move! Don’t talk! I mean it! Either one of you makes a peep, you’ll be sorry,” the voice snarled.
Well I was wrong about the animal, but it sure sounds ferocious, Charles thought.
Later, when the ordeal was all over, and he was going over the entire weekend with Dr. Hancock at his therapy session, it never dawned on him that it was weird to have, what he assumed was a gun pointed at his tush and not at his back.
“Maybe that’s where the expression ‘don’t move or I’ll blow out your brains’ comes from,” Emma deadpanned.
“Very funny, Doc — would you like to switch places?” responded Charles.
As soon as the voice said the last syllable of the last word… Paige fainted.
“Pick her up, Mister,” said the voice. “Walk down three blocks. The place we’re going will have its door open.”
Charles did as he was ordered and was grateful that Paige wasn’t heavy.
Three of these tiny blocks are no big deal, he thought. Then it hit him, as they say, like a ton of bricks.
I’m going to be killed!
He was about to swing Paige around, as quickly as he could, hoping that the momentum he would generate with her legs would knock the gun out of his capturer’s hands, when a huge bolt of lightning lit up the area around them, and Charles got a
good look at who was holding him captive from all three of their reflections in a glass storefront window.
He was being held captive by a midget! Furthermore, it looked like the tiny man was pressing a toy gun against his ass.
This isn’t happening, he thought, as he put ‘operation swing Paige into the midget’ in action.
Charles was quick with Paige’s limp body; the midget was quicker. He ducked under Paige’s legs and feet and kicked Charles Craig Curtis in the family jewels, as they say.
Charles fell to his knees faster than Paige had fainted, and to Charles’ surprise the little man caught Paige from hitting the street and gently placed her down.
“How did you like that wise guy?” the tough midget asked Charles.
“Fuck you,” Charles managed to groan.
“I’ll kick you in your balls so many times, you won’t be fucking anything for a long time, Mister,” the tough midget yelled back at Charles, who was in too much pain and too bewildered to respond this time. He thought he was passing out when he heard a swarm of other bodies come out from what he assumed was the place that the original little tough guy wanted him to carry Paige.
“What’s going on here, Ralph?” a male’s voice asked.
“Oh my god he shot them!” a female voice gasped.
“I told you he hated tall people and warned you he wasn’t the one to send out,” another male voice said to the gathering.
“Help her,” Charles managed to say, as he felt his balls coming back to where they belonged. “She isn’t shot, but he should be,” he said, as he pointed at the midget who had kicked him in the balls.
A multitude picked up Paige, and Charles saw her being carried to a building.
I wonder how long a sober person passes out for. He mused, remembering that when he was sober and fainted it took seconds to be revived, even though it felt like hours, but when he had drunkenly passed out, he was out for a long, long time.
“Don’t worry, Mister,” a voice said, as a horde helped him up. “We’re taking your
companion to a place where she will be safe. You’re going with us. We don’t like strangers in Strattonville; especially strangers who are not midgets.”
Charles closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened them, he expected to be waking up in his bed with Max at his feet and then jumping up to grab paper and pen to put this dream into words, because he knew it would make for a great story that he could start on once he was cured of his writer’s block from hell.
Boy, was he disappointed when he opened his eyes.
No dream, just a lot of little people. He looked for the one who had stuck a gun into his tush and kicked him in the balls, but that little creep was nowhere to be seen. The other midgets seemed the complete opposite of their fellow citizen, and Charles followed them to the building where he had just seen Paige taken into.
Naturally, Charles banged his forehead on the buildings small front door.
All the midgets snickered when they heard Charles whack his head.
“What next?” Charles asked the horde, as he rubbed the spot that just got banged.
“Welcome to Strattonville, Mister. Now tell us who you two work for?” a midget, who Charles noticed had been doing most of the talking since he had been kicked in the balls, asked him.
“Why the hostility?” Charles asked, all the time thinking lack of height, probably.
Another voice spoke out from the crowd assembled in the dark room, which was illuminated by candles.
“Why don’t you just admit that you work for the EPA and we can move forward,” the voice said.
“I don’t work for the government,” Charles pleaded. “Can you turn on the lights?”
“The power is out all over the state. Worst storm to hit in decades. Going to be hours until we have power. Things are so bad, we can’t even get cell phone reception,” another voice told Charles.
“That explains a lot,” Charles said.
“No, it doesn’t explain you and her in Strattonville,” the voice said. “What you EPA agents won’t do to get this area declared a wetland is mind boggling,” another voice said.
“Look. I’m not — we’re not from the government,” Charles began.
“Boss, I think he’s right,” said yet another voice. “Take a look at his companion,”
Charles watched as a few of the little people picked up candles and walked over to where Charles could make out Paige’s limp body lying on a couch. Of course, her body was too long for the couch, and Charles was glad she was still unconscious.
“I hate being too big for a bed or a couch,” Charles told Dr. Hancock when he was at his next therapy session and was remembering all the details about his and Paige’s time in Strattonville.
“Who doesn’t?” Dr. Hancock said “There is no joy in being uncomfortable, even if one is knocked-out.”
The feisty midget lifted Paige’s head up for the others to see. Charles was surprised that the creep didn’t yank her by the hair and slap her a few times. He watched as the candles and the little bodies holding them walked back over to him.
“She’s too good looking to work for the government, so you two must be working for that real estate developer who wants to turn Strattonville into another condominium project,” the voice that had been doing most of the talking said. Charles already had begun to assume that he was in charge or the ‘boss’ as he had been called.
“Since when did looks ever determine if someone worked for the government?” Charles asked. Although he had made similar observations when he saw government workers.
“Mister, we have been invaded by hundreds of bureaucrats from hundreds of agencies and let me tell you something — they are all fugly,” the boss midget said.
“Fugly?” a bewildered Charles asked.
“Stands for fucking ugly!” the enforcer midget yelled.
“What’s wrong with your girlfriend, Mister?” the boss midget asked Charles, as a bunch of the others started murmuring about things Charles couldn’t make out.
“She’s been through a lot. So have I on this night from hell in a land that only an alien would love,” Charles said.
“Are you saying we’re aliens, Mister?” the boss midget said in a feisty tone which was backed up by angry mumbles from the others in the little house.
Charles took a deep breath and let out a longer sigh.
“Look people,” he began.
“Don’t you mean little people,” said the enforcer, as he revved up to kick Charles again in the groin, but was restrained by the boss.
“Let him finish,” the boss said to the groin kicker.
“I’m tired, sore, lost, wet, cold, confused and hungry. Please forgive me,” Charles said innocently.
“You hear that everyone” announced the boss to the gathering hoard “the stranger is all seven dwarfs wrapped in one!”
With that comment, and Charles realizing that he had just ticked off seven words that sounded like a bad parody to rename Snow White’s seven little friends, Charles Craig Curtis burst out laughing.
“Up until that point, it was the best of the trip,” Charles later told Dr. Hancock during his therapy session. When Dr. Hancock went home that night after seeing Charles, tending to the bar business, and other patients… she frantically searched the boxes of information she had received from Harvard upon Mitchell’s death to see if Mitchell or the others involved in what Emma wrote in her diary as LSDGATE ever had experienced something like Charles had described.
“Were you afraid I was on some sort of drug induced trip?” Charles later asked Dr. Hancock after Charles described his night — in what she called ‘Tiny Town,” but Charles knew it as Strattonville.
“Yes,” came her honest reply.
“I don’t blame you,” he replied.
“Can I level with everyone here?” Charles asked the group.
“Please,” said the boss.
“You’d better, Mister,” said the enforcer.
“Let him speak!’ a voice that Charles hadn’t heard before yelled from the back of the room.
There were more murmurs and Charles wondered do only midgets murmur in groups?
So Charles started from the beginning and told them everything that had happened. Charles even told them about what a survival nut Paige was, and how ironic it was that he ended up being more fit in dealing with the emergency.
That brought loads of laughter and suddenly the power back on.
Everyone cheered and even Paige woke up.
One of the midgets went over to her and gave her a cup of water. The midget came back to Charles and told Charles that she had a nasty bump on her forehead that was swelling up and she was drifting in and out of consciousness because he was sure it was a concussion.
“Must have happened when I pushed her out the truck window to save us both from drowning in the quicksand,” Charles said. “Is she okay?”
“She passed out again,” said the midget who had inspected Paige.
“In that case, tell me about this place,” Charles said warmly.
The boss midget cleared his throat and said “Strattonville is named after Charles Sherwood Stratton. Do you know who that is?”
Charles Craig Curtis shook his head, but he liked the name. Charles liked people who were always spoken of by their first, middle and last names; even if Charles Craig Curtis was a made up name. One reason Gary Harte was such a great literary agent was that he was even a better publicist. Gary had it in his head that Americans loved people with three names and then tossed out a few to prove to Charles that he was right.
“John Wilkes Booth. Lee Harvey Oswald, Theodore Robert Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Miles Manson, David Richard Berkowitz,” Gary had said.
“Oh boy, what company,” Charles said, as he rolled his eyes.
“Just kidding. How about F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Winslow Irving and of course your favorite Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.” Gary said.
“Vonnegut isn’t Kurt’s middle name.” Charles pointed out.
“But he has three names,” joked Gary.
Did Charles laugh at that (and so would have Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)!
“Who is he?” Charles asked the boss midget thinking probably the guy who was in charge of casting the Munchkins.
“The man our town is named for had a stage name — a great stage name,” the boss midget said.
Don’t guess Charles, Charles thought to himself or as Gary would always say ‘don’t fuck up’ he added to his thought process.
“Charles Sherwood Stratton is better known as General Tom Thumb,” the boss midget said, as his entourage clapped and whistled in approval.
“So, the general founded this town?” Charles asked.
“Not exactly. How familiar are you with the legendary showman P.T. Barnum?” the boss midget asked Charles.
“I recall one about a sucker being born every minute. Of course, I remember that the general was one of his greatest co-stars,” a beaming Charles said.
With that line, the midgets all relaxed and Charles Craig Curtis now had them where he wanted them.
“Flattered by my respect and modesty,” he told Dr. Hancock
Boy, can he be full of shit’, Emma wrote in her diary and then added in bold print BE CAREFULL.
“Everyone knows that line,” the enforcer midget tossed out.
“But they sure are good ones,” Charles said. “Tell me what I don’t know about the general and Mr. Barnum.
The rooms that they were all in became quiet. The boss midget cleared his throat and began his history lesson. “P.T. discovered General Tom Thumb and made a fortune off him. It is very hard for all of us who are midgets and live in the year 2013 can relate to how a midget became a celebrity.”
“Most people just remember the Munchkins and even they were from 70 years ago,” the dejected enforcer midget said.
“We’re hidden from society,” a female midget chipped in.
“No one cares about midgets!” a male midget yelled.
“America isn’t a kind place to a lot of handicapped people,” Charles reminded everyone. “It’s a country that is told to only adore winners and General Tom Thumb in his day was a winner. So what happened to him?”
“Surprisingly Barnum went bust and it was General Tom Thumb who bailed him out by barnstorming throughout Europe where he was even a bigger hit than he was in America,” the boss midget said.
“So after all the touring and bowing to royalty and being gawked at by millions, he told Barnum that he was retiring to Northern, Maine, and he had this town built to live amongst his own kind?” Charles guessed.
“Good guess,” the boss midget said. “But the general had something bigger. By the way — pun intended, in mind,” the boss midget said, as his audience (including Charles) burst out laughing.
“What was that?” Charles asked, after the laughter died down.
“Barnum owed the general, because the two of them and P.T.’s accountants and investors knew that the general had saved Barnum from financial disaster. Barnum, to his credit, was a man who knew what men do when they have been bailed out,” the boss midget said.
“Return the favor,” Charles said.
“The general in his will referred to it as ‘paying back the debt’, which most men will not do when the one who is holding the debt is on his death bed,” the boss midget said.
“But then, P.T. wouldn’t be Barnum, would he?” Charles said.
“Very good, Sir. The general asked Barnum to set up towns in remote areas around the country where we little people could live and not be gawked at. Where we could flourish on our own. Build our own houses, create our own businesses and be separate but equal,” the boss midget said. “We would live forever in our own nursing homes. No old age homes for us mixed in with the general population!”
“This is probably a dumb question, but how was all this financed?” Charles asked.
“There is no such thing as a ‘dumb question,’ Sir,” the boss midget said. “Remember, the general was rich and made himself richer by helping Barnum recover his fortune. The general and his wife had no heirs and in their golden years, the general, his wife, Barnum, and their financial advisors gathered in New York City where the general told Barnum that the Strattons wanted Barnum to oversee the creation of seven Strattonville’s located around the country. Everything was wrapped up by the lawyers, financial people, and the Strattonvilles were completed. Alas, none of the creators saw any of the towns filled. They died well before their dreams were completed, but their legacy was completed. So is the power of a lot of money with honest people leading the charge.
“Amen to that,” Charles said. “How did everyone keep it a secret?” Charles asked.
“Easy. Would you have found us under normal circumstances?”
Charles shook his head and said “But you mentioned the EPA and real estate developers. Obviously they found you.
“Those two in particular,” the enforcer midget spat out.
“We have had others find us. People lost or people looking for refuge in the wilderness, hippies on a bad LSD trip,” the boss midget said.
Boy, those hippies must have freaked out! Charles thought.
“Remember those hippies thinking they were in Gulliver’s Travels?” the enforcer midget said.
There was laughter all the way around, and of course, Charles joined in.
After the laughter died down, and the conversation seemed to be drying up, the boss midget asked Charles to identify just who he was.
“Do any of you read?” he asked, and then before he could take back that blunder, the enforcer midget jumped all over him.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he said angrily.
“You don’t think that midgets read?” the boss midget asked him, with a lot of agreeing murmurs sounding in the background.
“I’m very sorry,” Charles said. “It’s been a very long evening. My name is Charles Craig Curtis. I’m an author. I am not looking for information to write any books about any of you or this very interesting community with its incredible history. My
companion is an old friend. Her name is Paige. She means well. We won’t tell a soul about any of you or your town. We just want to clean up, get some food, some sleep, and we will leave first thing in the morning.”
“Just a minute,” a voice from the back called out.
Everyone in the room made way for a stocky male midget who was carrying a book. Charles noted that it reminded him of watching a child carrying a large picture book.
The stocky midget walked up to Charles — glanced at the back of the book, then at Charles, back at the book, and then at Charles one more time.
“Well?” the boss midget said, and as if on que, the background grumblings sounded again.
“It’s him,” the stocky midget said. “He probably would look exactly like his jacket cover if we cleaned him up.
With that, hands were all over Charles’ body, and they started pushing him. He knew it was pointless to fight back and let the little hands shove him to where he thought a fitting end would be after what he had experienced.
“Which was?” Dr. Hancock asked him at their next therapy session.
“Death,” Charles said matter-of-factly.
It was anything but.
The midgets took him to a bathroom where he was helped to a hot bath, even though the tub was way too small for him and his limbs dangled over it. It was so foggy in the bathroom, Charles couldn’t make out if the hands cleaning and massaging him were males’ or females’ and he didn’t mind.
Nor did he mind that his limbs were too long and wide for the small bed.
He was that tired.
Somewhere along the line, he was told Paige was being taken care of in the same manner, and he fell asleep with that thought in his mind.
When he awoke, he knew for sure that he had been dreaming and reached for Max. Max wasn’t there and neither was Paige. He bolted up, and, of course, hit his head on
the low ceiling. He found a light switch and turned it on. He found a mirror and took a look at himself, even though he had to duck real low to get a full look. He was clean, his hair looked good, and he had been clean shaven and didn’t have one cut. He felt the best he had in hours, but he was starving. He went to open the door, when the door opened at the same time. It was the boss, enforcer, and other stocky midgets.
“Did you have a nice nap?” the boss midget asked.
“Feeling better?” asked one stocky midget.
“Sorry I kicked you in the balls,” the enforcer said humbly.
Charles held out his hand. The enforcer put his little hand inside of Charles and they both squeezed (Charles really wanted pay back, but knew better).
“We have prepared a great meal for you and your guest and would like to show you how we survive,” the boss midget said.
“But there’s a catch,” the enforcer midget added.
“There always is,” Charles said with a sigh.
“You have to read to us from your book,” the stocky midget said.
“On two conditions. First, I don’t do readings on an empty stomach. Secondly, you all help Paige and myself get back to her place, because I have a plane to grab late Sunday,” Charles negotiated.
“Right this way, Mr. Curtis?” the boss midget said with a smile as the other three little people motioned for Charles to follow them.
Refreshed from the clean-up and nap, Charles eagerly followed them. He anticipated a delicious meal. They brought him to a room that he was told served as their weekly “big meal” for what was left of their citizenry.
“The puns I could have whacked out of the park,” Charles told Dr. Hancock at their next session.
“Nice of you to be so respectful,” the doctor replied.
‘That’s my style,” Charles Craig Curtis responded, with a broad smile that made her day.
“This is our community dining area,” the boss midget proudly pointed out, and Charles saw that he and Paige (wherever she was) were going to be in big trouble.
The chairs were not made for someone his or Paige’s size. They were for little people and not only didn’t the midgets recognize their error, Charles wasn’t going to say a damn thing, and he was going to make the best out of the situation.
After all, he was their guest and he was really hungry.
“It was like attending a parents/teachers conference at your child’s grade school and having to sit at your child’s desk in their chair,” Charles explained to Dr. Hancock at their next therapy session.
“I know what you mean Charles,” the doctor responded, because she had, in fact, just done that for her youngest girl and thought about telling Charles, but then decided not to.
I’ am not making it easy for him, she later wrote in her diary.
“That must have been quite different, if not awkward,” Dr. Hancock said to her patient.
“Not as bad as when we sat down at the table, and the food was put down in front of us. The utensils were so small, Paige and I had to use our hands; the midgets got embarrassed and realized that they were not prepared for regular size people eating with them,” Charles said.
“How did you eat?” Dr. Hancock asked him.
“With our fingers!” Charles exclaimed.
“Well, your Paige is a survival nut, so that must have been okay with her,” the doctor added sarcastically.
“The others are preparing the feast for you and your lady friend,” the boss midget said. “I’m needed in the kitchen, because I make a mean beef stew which I’m sure you will love. Ralph will show you how we have survived all these years with no outside help.”
Ralph was the enforcer midget.
“Follow me,” Ralph said.
“Ralph, where is Paige?”
“She’s getting dolled up,” Ralph said.
Another one I could have knocked out of the park, Charles thought as he crouched low to follow Ralph out the one house, down what Charles thought was an alley and to a big building made of stone that had a bulkhead. The bulkhead doors were secured by several locks, and Charles waited patiently for Ralph to unlock them. While waiting, his stomach growled its hunger.
“Wow,” Ralph said. “Now, that’s a hunger growl.”
“Is his beef stew good?”
“The best,” said Ralph, as he opened up the doors, went down three steps and turned on the lights. He yelled for Charles to come down, which Charles did without smacking his head. The room he entered would have made Paige and Spitz orgasm.
“We call this place Slaughter House Five, because if Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and a handful of American prisoners and their captives could survive the Dresden firebombing in a place named that — the karma is worth the risk,” Ralph said.
“Risk? I don’t understand,” Charles said
“Copyright infringement. I’m amazed, you, the famous writer wouldn’t see that,” Ralph scoffed.
Charles had no problem with anyone lifting or using any of his work in any way, shape or form.
“It is a compliment,” Charles said to Gary.
“Could cost us money,” Gary said.
“How?” Gary asked.
“Well, you are already copyrighted, and if anyone steals your stuff, you can sue the shit out of them if they use too much of your writings or don’t properly credit you. There’s a lot more, but that’s for the lawyers,” Gary said.
“Now that’s reason enough not to go after anyone,” Charles said.
“I don’t understand,” Gary said.
“Lawyers,” Charles spit out.
“A necessary evil, especially in today’s world,” Gary said.
“Just loving dealing with evil,” Charles said sarcastically.
Gary made Charles attend an online seminar about copyright abuse. Charles was surprised at how many things were protected under copyright laws and how powerful it was to own the rights.
“But Gary,” Charles protested, after the seminar was complete, and Charles called him up, “I already made money when the book was published. I receive royalties. I don’t want to be a pig. After all, you’re the one with that cute saying.”
“Bulls and bears make money and pigs get slaughtered,” Gary said. “There is one slight problem Charles.
“You don’t own the copyrights to any of your titles anymore,” Gary pointed out.
“Even the self-published ones?” Charles asked, astonished.
“It was part of the deal. You sold everything to the publisher of Domestically Wild and you have profited handsomely,” Gary said.
“Wow. I better start reading the fine print,” Charles said.
“Leave that to me and the lawyers,” Gary said.
“Oh boy,” Charles replied. “That makes me all warm and fuzzy.”
“And rich! Don’t worry about a thing; the ones who own the copyrights will track down the perpetrators and squeeze every penny out of them,” Gary said.
Six months after having his first session with Dr. Emma Hancock, Charles found out that bar owners were not immune to copyright holders; as one night Emma told him about having to pay all sorts of fees to have a jukebox and karaoke at Moise Pipecks.
“For crying out loud all those bands made their fortunes. Why do they need more?” she asked.
And Charles told her who really owned the rights and why.
“Another monopoly to deal with,” Dr. Hancock said.
“I hear the musicians are worse than the writers,” Charles said.
“You’re biased,” the good doctor pointed out.
“I hear that Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen will hunt you down and demand tribute if they catch you whistling one of their tunes,” Charles said seriously.
“Like they need the money,” she said with a sigh.
“I think it’s a control thing with them,” Charles said. “I hope everyone and anyone who uses my stuff doesn’t get caught, and it helps them in whatever they are trying to do,” he said with a smile.
“I’m glad Mr. Harte is your agent,” Doctor Hancock replied.
Charles Craig Curtis couldn’t believe the setup that the midgets had in Slaughterhouse Five.
“Wow!” he exclaimed.
“We can survive because we have to and we want to,” Ralph said.
Charles took out his cell-phone and noticed it still didn’t have a signal.
“It’s our jammer,” Ralph said.
“Jammer?” Charles questioned.
Ralph held out his little hand and Charles, without hesitation (later he told Dr. Hancock it was like when his children grabbed his hand after getting out of the car to walk across a parking lot) grabbed it.
The enforcer had quite a grip and Charles thought that the little guy was showing off, but Charles Craig Curtis knew a golden opportunity to gain brownie points when he saw one.
“You have a powerful grip, Ralph,” Charles said.
“From years of working in a brown paper bag factory. But, enough about my past life, let me show you our work of wonders,” he said, as he let go of Charles’ hand and went over to a velvet curtain and drew it back so Charles could see what Ralph was referring to.
“Hocus-pocus, Mr. Curtis,” Ralph said.
Charles didn’t know very much about electronics, let alone high tech gadgetry, but he believed that he was witnessing something that was only seen by people who worked in the companies located in Silicon Valley or in the sub-basements of Washington, D.C.
“What’s with all the lights and sounds?” Charles asked.
“The better the technology the cooler the lights and sounds,” Ralph said, as he puffed out his chest and grinned from ear to ear. “Want to see something extra cool?”
Charles nodded yes.
“Take your phone out.”
“Turn it on,” Ralph ordered.
“Still no sig…” Charles suddenly stopped because his phone powered up and it showed he had a lot of missed messages. “How did you do that?” he asked, as he looked up from his iPhone and saw all the lights on all the machines were off and, of course, didn’t hear any sounds. What he did see, was Ralph holding a small remote control.
“This is the jammer,” Ralph said, as he pushed the button and all the machines clicked on and Charles’ iPhone went dark. “It wasn’t just the storm that knocked out everything. Once you got within fifty yards of our community, you were jammed. I have my orders just to show you around. I’m sure after our dinner, you will be allowed to make contact with your world,” Ralph said.
There were only two things Charles could do… frown, and follow Ralph around as he showed him the rest of Slaughterhouse Five.
“All this to keep everyone away?” Charles asked, after his tour was complete.
“You bet. Those government heavies are real mother fuckers,” Ralph said. “But we are ready for them. I can’t stand the rich real estate developers either. Strattonville must survive. Luckily we don’t trust either of them or we would have sold out and been put out to pasture a long time ago. No nursing homes for us… ever!”
“You’re not going to actually take up arms?” Charles said.
“Only as a last resort,” Ralph said seriously.
“I admire that. Most people won’t do diddlysquat against the government or rich folks,” Charles said.
“I don’t think we will have to shoot. I want to; but the smarter ones think we can outlast them,” Ralph said.
“Why not? You’ve proven that already,” Charles said, as his stomach growled.
“Time to feed that beast,” Ralph said, as he playfully punched Charles and his stomach growl in the belly.
Charles exited Slaughterhouse Five and watched Ralph put everything back in order and locked the place up.
They both walked with an extra bounce in their step to the meal that awaited them.
Charles had more spring to his step, because he knew he would soon get iPhone service, eat, fuck Paige, get home, and hide under his blankets with Max on top of him. He knew his next session with Dr. Hancock was going to be a doozy.
Ralph had more spring in his step, because he loved showing off the arsenal that was at his disposal. He was prepared to defend the population of Strattonville to his death.
Charles was seated next to Paige, who shot him an “I’m very sorry” glance. She had been cleaned up, but the female midgets must have been short on make-up, because Paige had one whopper of a black-eye, that later, she confirmed that she had indeed suffered a severe concussion when Charles had tossed her out of the truck. However, she was cleaned up, and considering all that happened looked damned good. Charles squeezed her hand and the squeeze said ‘I know and I don’t care’.
Though their hosts had never prepared to be serving “normal-sized” people a decent meal in their community dining room, both Charles and Paige were comfortable sitting in the little chairs. When it came to eating, Charles managed; but Paige did not.
The utensils were far too small and Charles was hungry. He had no problem eating with his fingers.
Paige did, but ever so daintily.
“How could you enjoy eating with your fingers?” she later asked him after they had made love.
“I was starving. It was getting to the point I chewed some water that Ralph gave me when I was with him before dinner. Besides, you’re the survivalist. Didn’t you ever think you might be stuck with no eating tools and hunger pains that won’t go away?”
Paige sulked and Charles thought it would be wise to veer to another subject. “But I hated the reading glasses I had to wear after we all settled down for my book reading.”
This made Paige laugh.
That made Charles smile.
After a beef stew dinner, homemade cornbread, and a brownie sundae dessert to die for, Charles and Paige were given a brief tour of Strattonville by the boss midget and Ralph. While they were getting an up close tour, the other midgets were cleaning up the community dining room and getting it ready for a book reading by the famous author. When they all arrived back at the room, Charles noticed that his reading glasses were missing.
Uh oh, he thought. These people want a good show and I am worthless without those damn glasses. Maybe Paige can read for me?
He asked her.
She said no.
“What seems to be the problem?” the boss midget asked them.
“I can’t find my reading glasses,” Charles said.
“Want to hear something funny?” asked the boss midget.
“Why not,” Charles said.
Paige shrugged her shoulders.
“Midgets don’t need reading glasses!” he exclaimed.
“Well, that answered my next question,” Charles said.
“What was the first?” joked Ralph.
“Does anyone have a pair of reading glasses?”
“If we did, you would have to combine two or maybe three pairs to fit your eyes,” the boss said as he started to laugh at that suggestion, which got all four of them laughing.
“I have an idea,” Ralph offered.
The others looked at him.
“We have magnifying glasses in Slaughterhouse Five. Why don’t I see what I can rig up?”
“Good idea, Ralph,” Charles said.
“Yes,” agreed the boss midget.
“You’re going to look like a dork,” Paige whispered to him.
“A smart dork,” corrected Charles.
Which of course he didn’t look like.
“An idiot savant?” Gary later emailed Charles, after Charles told him the story.
“A four eyed moron?” his oldest son texted him when he found out.
“One of those nerdy kids that Gary Lawson draws?” his youngest son texted him when he found out.
Gary Lawson was a retired cartoonist known, far and wide, for his comic strip The Far Side, and when Charles thought about the comment his youngest had made, he did think the glasses looked like they belonged on one of Lawson’s nerdy fat kids he had drawn.
“You probably looked like a Poindexter on roids,” his daughter texted him after she found out.
‘Poindexter’ is vernacular for nerd.
“I think you probably looked like Harold Lloyd,” Dr. Hancock told him, after she found out about it (she had learned about Lloyd from Mitchell).
“Who is he?” Charles asked her.
“You have to be kidding me,” she said mockingly. “You don’t know? May I suggest you Google him instead of your usual on-line antics,” she said matter-of-factly.
Her line and tone stung Charles like a slap across the face.
“Maybe that’s what I needed?” he said to Max, as he went to his PC and Googled Harold Lloyd.
He immediately saw the picture of Lloyd and laughed, because Charles Craig Curtis had, in fact, looked like Harold Lloyd when he put on the magnifying glasses that Ralph had patched together for him when he read from his book Domestically Wild.
Charles learned that Lloyd was one of the top three silent comedians. Most silent film historians ranked him right behind Chaplin and Keaton. But that wasn’t good enough for Charles.
“I have to see what the media was saying about him in his day,” he texted Emma, after he took her advice on finding out who Harold was.
“Why?” she texted him back.
“Because historians see things differently. They tend to see things from the modern point of view and mix and match with the past as they see fit. It’s better to read the actual diaries and letters of the people who lived during the times to understand the past,” he texted her.
“That was a long text,” she texted back. “But I see your point.”
Charles spent about an hour doing research on Mr. Lloyd. It was an interesting investigation about an interesting man. Charles even thought that one of his collages should feature Harold or even better — silent screen stars.
“That’s a winner,” he said to Max.
Max thumped his tail, got up, walked over to Charles and shoved his nose under Charles’ left elbow for attention.
Charles could only find one thing that he had in common with Harold Lloyd. Surprisingly Harold Lloyd was an author, too.
Lloyd became rich and famous at a young age and kept on being rich for a long, long time.
That wasn’t what Charles knew he had in common with the master comedian.
Charles found out that Harold Lloyd was into nudity and spent his spare time photographing (in 3-D no less) the likes of Bette Paige and Dixie Evans. Lloyd’s daughter published a novel about the photos titled Harold Lloyd’s Hollywood Nudes in 3-D.
Charles quickly went to Amazon and looked the book up. The reviews were okay, and Charles was surprised to see that it ranked #80,001 in Amazon’s book rankings. This
made Charles take a quick peak at where his books stood. But before doing so, he retorted to his ritual.
“Why is Ohio the most important swing state come presidential election time!” he yelled.
Then he looked.
Domestically Wild was ranked at number 52.
“My other books’ rankings look like Warren Buffet’s checking account,” he told Gary after a very long night of drinking; but after he had completed a collage of Harold Lloyd and other silent greats– Gary thought that would be an excellent homage; which is what Charles called it.
“Why not one of writers?” Gary asked him.
“Next edition,” Charles promised.
Charles was introduced by the boss midget and was warmly applauded when he sat down on the little chair. He thanked the guests and began reading.
It was an early fall night. One of those nights where the smell of leaves dominated the sense of smell. A night that was saying goodbye to summer and hello to fall. The smell of burning leaves was in the air, but the animals could see no smoke. The animals loved the piles of leaves to play in and frowned when the leaves would gradually disappear to fire, plastic bags or giant machines that sucked them (and sometimes the animals playing in the leaves) up. The animals loved this time of year, especially the squirrels. The squirrels knew that winter was right around the corner. The squirrels were very smart at gathering food and building warm shelter for the cold. They were just very dumb when it came to crossing the roads.
There were three dominant gangs of squirrels in the neighborhood. The red squirrels that were referred to as the “Crimson gang”. The gray squirrels who went by the name the “Ashes gang”. The black squirrels were nicknamed the “Afro gang”.
They were all squirrels when seen by others, but they rarely worked together and actually distrusted each other.
“Is that one of ‘us’ lying squashed on the road?” Harry, a member of the Crimson gang asked a few of his fellow gang members while they were busy running around gathering what they could find for the upcoming winter.
“Boost me up boys, so I can take a look,” Clayton said, as the seven red squirrels made what was known as a ‘cheerleading pyramid’ that would put Clayton on the top so he could get a bird’s eye view of what color squirrel was lying dead on the street.
“I think it’s Tommie,” Clayton said. “I can’t tell you how many times I have told him to look both ways before he darted out into the street,” Clayton sighed, as the others climbed down from their pyramid.
“We are bad at that,” Dan said.
“It’s because we are so fast, we think we can out run anything, even humans in their cars,” Dimitri said.
The others all nodded in agreement.
“No matter how fast you are, there is someone always faster,” Jimmie pointed out.
“Look over there!” Harry shouted.
They all looked at where Harry was looking and saw a group of gray squirrels across the street creating a “cheerleading pyramid” of their own.
“Why are they doing that?” Dan asked.
“Boost me up again boys, and let’s see at what they are looking at,” Clayton said.
Once again, his fellow squirrels in the Crimson gang made their pyramid. Clayton climbed to the top and scouted what was going on with the squirrels in the Ashes gang.
“Looks like one of theirs didn’t look both ways either,” Clayton announced to his friends. “Wait a minute, I think the Ashes are signaling us to come over,” he said, as he scrambled back to the ground and huddled his gang.
“How do you know?” Harry asked.
“I don’t trust them,” Dan spat out.
“I agree with Dan,” Jimmie said.
“Yes, how do you know?” Dmitri asked.
Jimmie nodded in agreement with Dmitri.
“They motioned like this,” Clayton said as he turned his back on his friends and waved his tail twice to the left and then kept it there and then repeated the process.
“Maybe that’s a secret sign” Harry pointed out.
“Squirrels don’t keep secrets,” Dan said.
“Yes, secrets are bad,” Tom said.
“I’m going over; who is with me?” Clayton dared.
Being members of the same gang meant you only accepted dares by those you trust and you never accept dares from those you don’t trust.
So the Crimson gang slowly walked to the curb of the street. Clayton made them all look to the left and look to the right – twice, and they scurried over to the yard where the Ashes gang was waiting for them.
Both gangs shook hands and rubbed their tails together. They all made small talk until one of the Ashes told them to turn around from where the Crimsons had just been across the street.
“It’s the Afro gang!” all the members of the Crimson and Ashes gang yelled at the same time.
Sure enough, the black squirrels were lined up and looked menacing as ever.
“Are they going to attack us?” Dan asked the others.
“Sure looks like it,” said David, who was the head of the Ashes.
As soon as he finished saying “it” the Afro gang dashed at once towards them. The members of the Crimson and Ashes gangs’ ran in every direction seeking safety on nearby tree limbs or into their nests looking for any weapons to wage a fire-fight.
They all looked around, but the Afro gang hadn’t run out at them; they had had run, in mass to their dead comrade and had picked their fellow gang member off the wet, dirty and torn brown paper bag in the street, and were carrying him back to the yard from where they had emerged.
“They were lucky none of them got killed,” Clayton said.
“How’s that?” asked Harry.
“None of them looked both ways.” Clayton said.
“Look!” screamed David.
The Afro gang were done finishing their pyramid, and the one on the top of the others motioned for the Crimson and Ashes gangs to come over to them.
Clayton motioned for the members of his gang to huddle to talk about it.
David, the head of the Ashes did the same with his members.
Both groups broke their huddles and all nodded in agreement that they should go over and talk to Afro gang.
“After all, we of the Crimson gang decided to talk to the members of the Ashes gang,” Clayton said to all of them, as they gathered at the street curb. They all looked both ways twice and dashed across the road as fast as they could. They reached the grassy part of the other side and slowly walked over to the Afro gang who were slowly walking towards them.
The reason for the slow walks over to each other is, in the past, the Afro gang had been known to never cooperate about anything with the other squirrel gangs; whereas in the past, the Crimson gang and the Ashes had indeed, in fact, worked together on several projects.
The problem with the squirrel gangs was one of consistency when it came to working together.
They were maddeningly, consistently inconsistent.
But something was telling all the squirrels in the Crimson and Ashes gang to be brave and see what the Afro gang had to say. There was something telling the members of the Afro gang the exact same thing as they made their way to the center of the yard to meet up.
When all three groups came together in the center of the yard, the leader of the Afro gang held out his right front claw and said “Hi. My name is Hector. Think of the colony of squirrels we could build if we could all come together as one?”
The other members of the Afro gang quickly walked over to the members of the Crimson and Ashes gangs and held out their claws in friendship.
“What are we waiting for?” Clayton said, as he grasped Hector’s claw with his own.
All the other squirrels then started grasping other claws and making small talk with one another.
Hector took Clayton aside. He had a plan. An idea that he hatched observing the domestic animals of the neighborhood. But before he could put together his master plan of all wild animals working together as one unit and enjoying the comforts of what cats and dogs enjoyed he had to prove to all the wild animals that they could do it. The three dead squirrels in the street – – one each from the Afros, Crimson and Ashes was his chance to put his idea to the test.
“Let us gather up our dead and bury them together as comrades,” Hector whispered to Clayton.
Clayton rubbed his claws together nervously and agreed with a nod of his head.
They both called on all the squirrels to quiet down and gather around them.
To both of these leaders’ surprise, the other squirrels did as they were told.
Hector looked at Clayton and nodded to him to speak first.
“My friends. Isn’t it great that all of us can come together as one? For far too long we have been working against each other and not with each other. Today, this practice stops. We are going to begin a new era of cooperation by doing something that is important and will also be a tool to learn about safety. Far too many squirrels of ALL colors are killed crossing the roads. Please listen to my good friend Hector for the rest of today’s events,” Clayton said.
All the squirrels gave Clayton a hearty applause and flipped their bushy tails up and down to show how happy they were with what they had just heard.
Hector thanked Clayton and then looked at the group in a way that each and every one thought Hector was talking to them and them only.
Hector called them all ‘comrades’ and promised better living quarters, more food, and more safety, if they worked together and followed his and Clayton’s suggestion to become a “squirrel nation of one”. He also said something that made all the other squirrels tense up.
“Once we are one we need to reach out to the other wild animals that live outside and grow our team to become stronger, more diverse and wiser. Then there will be no stopping us!”
Clayton roared with approval and because of that roar, the other squirrels relaxed and joined in.
Hector grinned and quieted everyone down.
“Comrades let us go and now get our fallen brothers and give them a dignified and, might I add, unified burial in these beloved woods that they called home.”
Each gang sent out three squirrels to fetch their former members.
Hector searched for a spot where the ground was soft. When he found the spot, he called over Clayton who liked the spot that Hector had chosen. Clayton called for the
other gang members to dig the grave while their fallen comrades were slowly brought over for burial.
After the three were laid gently in the common grave, Hector cleared his throat and was about to address everyone when the neighborhood’s biggest cat came out of nowhere scattering the squirrels in all directions.
The cat could have caught and eaten any one of the squirrels, but she had been watching and listening to what they were up to. The talking had bored her. Besides, there were three dead squirrels right at her paws that she could have without much work.
“Why bust my bum when someone or something else has done my work for me?” she said, as she played with the dead squirrels looking for one that was largely intact.
The cat wasn’t hungry. She was going to take the dead grey squirrel, which she had picked, home to her masters and drop it on the front porch. She knew the woman master would scream but that the man master would pick her up, give her a treat and explain to the woman that the only reason that they had a dead squirrel on their porch was because there were no mice around, which meant that they owned a great cat. This would make the woman mistress pick her up, pet her, and also give her a treat.
The cat called this “trickle-down affection”.
With that, Charles stopped reading and removed his glasses.
The place went wild.
Charles Craig Curtis had done it again.
After a half hour of small talk where Charles fielded questions about writing and Paige answered some about horses, the party broke up. Ralph told them that a room had been prepared for them and when Charles and Paige opened the door they burst out laughing.
There was furniture in the room, but not for non-midgets.
“Were you expecting a king size bed?” Charles asked Paige while laughing.
“I expected a queen!” shrieked Paige, as she pushed Charles into the room and shut the door behind them.
“I don’t think it is even a prince,” Charles said, still laughing.
“It certainly isn’t a princess either,” Paige said.
They were both referring to the bed that they were going to fuck and sleep in before they got back to their normal lives in the morning.
Ralph had told them that all the arrangements had been made for them by the people who ran Slaughterhouse Five.
Charles gently sat on the tiny bed and kicked off his shoes and patted the area where he expected Paige to sit.
Paige did so and they were shoulder to shoulder with Charles’ right hip up against the head board and Paige’s left hip up against the footboard.
They both started laughing again, and Charles rolled Paige over on her back and they both started taking their clothes off as they kissed passionately.
When they were both naked Charles scooted Paige up closer to the headboard and knocked her head against it softly.
“That didn’t work,” she said.
He slid her down, and now his shins were hitting the top of the footboard.
“That didn’t work either,” he said.
They both sat up and started laughing again.
“What position?” he asked her.
“I think we can forget the bed for sex,” she said.
“I think we can forget the bed for sleeping, too,” he added.
“You were all everything since the bridge. I was all nothing. You pick what position you want to fuck me. It’s the least I can do after this odyssey.”
“An appropriate word,” Charles said as he looked about the little room to find where would be a comfortable spot for the both of them.
“We better fuck for a long time because then we won’t care about the little bed we have to share,” Paige said with a chuckle.
“I like that statement,” Charles said, as he motioned for Paige to come over to the spot he had picked
“Grab on to that towel rack and bend way over,” Charles commanded.
Paige looked at where the bar was located and told Charles she needed to do some stretches before she assumed the position, as they say.
Charles agreed and watched Paige perform.
“Good thing I used to be on the track team,” she said, as she stripped and put her left leg up high on the doorknob and stretched her left leg’s hamstring. She then repeated the stretch with her right leg’s hamstring.
“You’re going to wish you were a yoga instructor when I get done with you,” Charles said, as he noticed that Paige’s stretching was really turning him on.
Sensing that, Paige sat down to work her inner thighs. She sat ramrod straight so her breasts were pointing right at Charles’ eyes and pressed the bottom of her bare feet together and pushed her elbows down on her knees as hard as she could, giving Charles an incredible shot of her beaver.
Charles wanted her right then, but before he could act she was standing upright stretching her quadriceps.
This wasn’t that sexy to Charles. Thus his libido calmed down.
From the standing quadriceps stretch Paige moved to perform her hip flexor stretch which was equally unsexy to Charles, but felt great for Paige’s loosening muscles.
She took another look at the bar she was going to be holding onto for dear life and thought that she should finish her routine with a sitting lower back stretch.
This instantly aroused Charles, like her sitting inner thigh stretch had done, and when Paige dropped her left leg to the floor and brought her right leg up to brace her left arm again to stretch her lower back Charles couldn’t stand it anymore.
He reached down and plucked her up and started kissing her hard. She grabbed his penis with her left hand and kissed him back just as hard. As they kissed, they moved towards the bar.
“Got you right where I want you,” Charles said, as they stopped kissing.
“You mean where I want to be,” Paige corrected him as she slowly bent over and grabbed ahold of the bar.
Charles couldn’t believe how hard his dick had become when he entered her from behind with no trouble whatsoever.
Paige couldn’t believe how wet her pussy was and how easy it was for her to absorb his cock.
“I have had sex with you on more than one occasion, and I don’t remember you ever being that hard,” Paige said to him while they tried to get comfortable in the bed after they had finished fucking each other’s brains out, as they say.
“Well, I don’t ever remember you being that wet, either,” Charles said.
“You think this entire ordeal had something to do with it?” she asked him.
“But of course! Who doesn’t get turned on by adventures?” Charles said with a laugh.
They didn’t sleep in the same tiny bed that night. Oh, they tried to get comfortable but they couldn’t. Paige ended up in the bed in the fetal position. Charles ended up on the floor next to the bed. They started out holding hands, but their deep sleep cut the hand holding short.
The next morning they got ready to leave. They said their goodbyes and their thanks. When the taxi showed up at the outskirts of the town to pick them up, a group of midgets formed a line to show them off. Charles hadn’t seen or couldn’t remember seeing this group.
“What’s with them?” Paige asked, as they climbed into the cab.
“Honor guard, I guess,” Charles said, as he followed her in.
Charles wasn’t quite right, but he was close.
The midgets that had gathered to see them off were the ones who really ran Slaughterhouse Five.
Not only had they participated in setting up the command center to keep their community safe, they had perfected the art of spying on everyone whenever they felt like it.
And they had felt like watching Charles have sex with Paige.
If Charles had ever found out that he and Paige had been watched by the midgets who worked in Slaughterhouse Five, he would have tossed out a pun or made a play on the words peeping Tom.
Paige would have wanted to kill them, but knew she would not be able to perform based upon her most recent experience at survival.
Charles watched as the midgets all stood straight and dropped their right arms in front of their crotch and angled their right hands, so to Charles and Paige it looked like they were making the letter L with their arms and hands.
It was their salute to their new hero for the sex show he had put on for them.
Charles, never wanting to be an offender, copied their salute and climbed into the cab.
“What was that about?” Paige asked him.
“Probably a sign that they don’t want to end up in nursing homes.”
Charles was so happy to be home at 250 Beacon Street, he almost out loved Max, when he came home.
“Would have been the first time a golden retriever was out loved,” he said to Gary when he told Gary about the journey.
“There has to be a book in there somewhere,” Gary Harte, the agent said. “But do me a favor, just one collage on midgets.”
Charles laughed, and they talked about the upcoming collages that he was working on and how the earlier ones were being received and potential marketing ideas. Charles got bored of listening to the business side of book making and made an excuse to Gary that he was tired and wanted to get a good night’s sleep.
“Only one after that adventure?” Gary asked.
“Just one,” Charles said. “I have a lot to do.”
“That’s the spirit.”
Charles decided to take a hot shower – – a long hot one after what he had been through.
He turned on the water and let it run until the bathroom was all steamed up and the water was as hot as his hand could stand.
The only way to shower, he mused, which also made him laugh; because there were many times in his past that taking a long hot shower was a dream – – if the hot water
tank in his house wasn’t broken, it was way too small of a tank for the shower that he was now stepping into.
Charles had forgotten how long and hard he had fucked Paige. He had forgotten how raw his cock could become after such a fuckfest.
Charles didn’t take his showers front first. He liked to go in back first, tip his head back under the shower head, wait a few minutes and then slowly turn around to let the hot water hit the front of his body. When he went to part three of his routine, the hot water was a shock to his raw cock and he screamed out in agony as he threw back the shower curtain and went to see if there was more to the pain than just having raw skin.
“It’s one of those ‘oh shit’ moments that I hate,” he said to Gary, when they spoke the next day after Charles had scanned and then sent him a collage of midgets that he captioned “Some people’s bodies don’t know that they are really ten feet tall”. Gary had loved it, and so had the publishing big shots who Charles Craig Curtis later found out were the epitome of political correct people.
“I think all men probably have an “oh shit” moment when their cock starts hurting,” Gary said.
“Good point,” Charles replied.
But right now the point was Charles’ cock was aching and hurting. Furthermore, he knew what caused it and this didn’t make him smile, which really worried him.
He thought about saving this for Dr. Hancock, but knew that was a stupid idea as soon as he conjured it up.
He couldn’t tell his sons. Of course, this subject was taboo with his daughter.
He knew he could only get so much out of Gary Harte, and he had been pressing the issue of sex way too much. He thought about Anne for a long time and then nixed that.
He cursed the friend gods (whoever they were) about his lack of male bonding and then turned to his dog Max and decided to talk to him about his lament.
But first came the shower, albeit gingerly around his groin area.
As he showered up, he started thinking about how he would have worn his sore cock like a medal of honor in his past, because that would have meant a great fuck. Now, he was questioning himself.
“Is it worth it?!” he yelled out in the shower
Then he remembered something that he had texted Paige while he waited to board the plane back to Boston.
She had texted him an extremely long message about how embarrassed she was about how she didn’t act when it should have been time for her survival skills to rise to the occasion.
Charles, being ever cautious about hurting someone’s feelings (especially after experiencing an incredible fuck with that person) blamed it all on the concussion she had suffered.
She went on and on about what the future would mean to her and her survival skills.
Charles texted her back “not everyone is meant to experience or encounter a great epilogue”.
“It’s time for me to finish my sexual peccadillos, finish this new book, try to start a real novel, and ask out Dr. Emma Hancock,” he told Max as he stepped out of the shower and started drying off. Max was lying on the bathroom floor, enjoying the warmth the hot steam had provided. He thumped his tail to what Charles said.
“Thanks Max, I needed that,” Charles said as he went on drying off and the ritual of brushing his hair, teeth and the other things people all do after a shower.
I can’t believe I’m not mad at myself for not feeling macho about my cock hurting? I can’t believe that I can only have these thoughts and chats with my dog, because I, in fact, don’t have any real friends. I really do need a real woman. Someone to unite with as one. What a teammate I would make! He mused.
After he cleaned up he put on a pair of very comfortable blue-jeans, a turtleneck and his favorite walking sneakers. Max saw him put on the sneakers and started getting antsy for a walk. Max knew what Charles Craig Curtis needed and it was a walk with him!
“Easy, boy,” Charles said, as Max knocked him over. “I want to check my appointment book for my next appointment with the Doc.
When he walked Max, he couldn’t believe how serene he felt. How great the walk was going and how wonderful he felt, despite having to rearrange his penis a few times because of how parts of its rawness bothered him every few steps. One time he had to rearrange it twice during one stop and someone who stepped around him yelled back “Pocket full of miracles, Buddy!”
“No, a pocket full of trouble,” Charles answered. He made a mental note to get back into his house and glob on as much cooling gel that he could stand before he went to bed.
As he walked back he thought about his upcoming appointment with the Doctor.
Max stopped to urinate on a fire hydrant.
“Will my children get mad if I ever remarry?” he asked Max, who chased after a chipmunk pulling Charles a good ten feet before he gave up the chase. “What am I saying? I haven’t even asked her out for a date!” Charles Craig Curtis said.
Max relaxed and started walking at a normal pace.
Charles was glad to get back home after the walk and checked his iPhone for any missing messages or calls. For the first time in a very long time, he had no missed calls or any messages. He went to his e-mail, and was surprised all he had was spam announcing that one of his long last relatives in a foreign land had zillions to give him. “Should I start taking my iPhone on my dog walks? Nah, then I will be just like all the others who jab away on their iPhones, oblivious to anything going on around them.” He looked at his inbox and couldn’t believe that he had received more e-mails announcing the billions that were one click away. “Does anyone actually believe this shit?” he said out loud. “The Penthouse forum letters were more believable than this crap.”
Penthouse was a dirtier version of Playboy. Both featured beautiful naked women throughout their pages. But Penthouse featured a section where people would send in letters detailing their latest sexual conquests/escapades boasting about events that Charles knew couldn’t have been true but were exciting to read.
Even for me, he thought with a loud laugh.
He went to his wine rack and found a bottle of Merlot. He was going to plop down in front of the TV and do nothing but channel surf, go to bed, wake up, and attack the world of collages that he knew filled his mind. After that, he was going to hit the gym and spend the rest of the night calling his children, not texting them. The day after that was his appointment and he knew what he had to start doing with that woman. He sat down on the couch and pointed the remote when a gong sound started going off.
Fire? He thought.
The gong sound went on and he didn’t smell smoke. Then he realized what the sound was.
“Who the hell is Skyping me? I haven’t used that in months.”
He sat down at his PC and answered the call.
The beautiful face of the one woman who held a certain sway over Charles Craig Curtis, the great lover appeared.
Her name was Demi Silaic. She was the only woman that Charles ever suffered pre-mature ejaculation with; no matter how many times they tried to cure it.
And it was a lot of times.
They had met when they were both already married and lived on the same cul de sac. They met like many young parents do; their children started playing together, and soon the parents had cocktails one night, a barbeque the following weekend, which was followed by shared carpooling for school events, sporting events and, of course, lots of birthday parties.
Charles and Demi’s infatuation began during what the neighbors billed as “A neighborhood-block-watch-progressive-drink-party”.
Two neighbors volunteered to watch all the children, so the others could wine and dine at each other’s homes on drinks and dishes that each set of parents made available. The group walked from one home to another, and by the end of the night the only two left standing (but staggering) were Charles and Demi.
Demi wanted to sober up and heard that skinny dipping was one way to do so. Whether drunk or sober, Charles always thought that Demi had a great body and did nothing to discourage her. As a matter of fact, as soon as he heard her hit the waters in the neighbor’s pool, he took off all his clothes and dove in right after her.
She was waiting for him in the shallow end sitting on the top stair.
Charles took one look at her body glistening in the moonlight and thought he was crazy for thinking she had a great body.
The prefect body he thought, as he waded right up to her and kissed her. She did likewise, and they ended up half in and half out of the pool, but only for a few seconds.
Before Charles could even enter her he had shot his wad, as they say.
“Well, you have some range,” she said, as she wiped his cum off with her hand and then stuck her hand in the pool to wash off his sperm. “I drink myself silly, hoping you would be the last man standing and you come faster than my husband does,” she said sarcastically.
“It’s the excitement of the moment, Demi,” Charles said, thinking that was what caused him to experience something he had heard about but never experienced.
“The next time will tell.”
There was more than one “next times”, but Charles always either came before he entered her or shortly afterwards. Their affair went on for two years and no one suspected a thing, except for Demi. Charles never suspected anyone else suspected, because he was spending so much time on expecting to last longer.
It was after this affair that Charles Craig Curtis swore he would never be with another woman who was in a relationship. He thought that was the cause of his inability to please her, not to mention his very shallow guilt.
They had met off and on after both of their divorces and, of course, bedded each other; and there was only one time where Charles actually lasted longer than three thrusts. It was the last time, and he only lasted four. Demi told Charles it was because of her disguise, and the made-up story that went with it that allowed Charles to last a little longer than their usual love making. Demi had taken to dressing up as a hooker with the Nome de plume of “Monica Peters” and Charles had liked her disguise so much, he made Demi wear her straight hair black wig while they did it.
“See Nome de Plume’s work for hookers and writer’s,” she joked.
“Sometimes yes and sometimes no,” Charles said.
Now, as Demi and her gorgeous face came into Skype-view, Charles couldn’t help to wonder why he could fuck Paige for what seemed hours and Demi for only seconds.
They talked, joked, and laughed, and Demi invited him out for an upcoming long weekend in Malibu where she lived and was an audiologist.
Charles excused himself by lying about having to go to the bathroom and went into the bathroom to debate with himself about accepting her offer.
“Just one more and make it memorable. Maybe perform for her for the first time ever and then call a halt to it and move on with your life,” he said to his reflection in the mirror.
He returned, accepted, and told her he would be in touch after he made some plans.
“Remember the love, not the tragedy,” she said when she clicked off.
“What the fuck does that mean?” he asked himself.
I guess she was saying that our love making is good even though my stamina is a tragedy, he thought as he went to bed totally forgetting about collages, midgets, guns, survival games, zombies, and most importantly — behaving himself.
If you missed the earlier Chapters you can find them here.