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Trickle of Consciousness
So I just tore my way through The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in less than a week, which for me is nothing short of impressive. I'm still not entirely sure why I found it quite so engrossing, but I don't know that I want to do a whole lot of looking in the gift horse's mouth.

It did get me thinking about my general assumptions vis-a-vis the "two impossible, deadly choices" trope, though. I mean, I can't remember the last time the central protagonist of a story was presented with an apparently no-win scenario, faced with two choices that both involve her or him dying, and I didn't immediately start looking for whatever the third option was going to be.

And yet, I don't always mind it, as this book would suggest. It's difficult, certainly, to make it work, for precisely the reason above. Having come across it so many times before, I'm nearly impossible to convince that your binary decision is exactly that. Indeed, if it turns out the decision your character's struggling with over a lengthy period of time actually is that simple, I wind up feeling cheated. Why the hell do I want to slog through all the interceding stuff if it doesn't go any further than what you handed me at the inciting incident? I'm mean that way.

I think it works best when you realize I won't buy what you're selling. It's sort the "laughing at / laughing with" difference. If I think you actually believe you've snowed me and I'm going to fret and wring my hands about this impending death, I'll just be annoyed. However, if you present the no-win, recognizing that I don't for one second believe there's not a trick involved, then tease me with the trick, I might just be willing to play along. Take me down one corridor and another, dangling the "maybe this is the secret way out" in front of me (and, of course, your character). Acknowledge that we all know you're withholding, that there's something twisty in the works, that this is a game you and I are playing, a mystery I'm trying to solve.

When we all know the game, it's a whole lot more fun.

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I'm sick of shit depressing me and / or pissing me off of late, so last night was comfort food: grilled cheese (coming soon to SyFy).

Anyway, since David claims I make the most perfect grilled cheese, and since I feel a need to share my comfort, and since I'm trying to post more in general, and since why the hell do I need a reason to put ridiculousness on the Internet that's what it's for, my points on making awesome grilled cheese:

Medium low heat (a tad more medium than low). The bitch of getting grilled cheese right is managing to time the cooking so your cheese is nice and melty as your bread gets golden-brown crunchy. If your burner is too hot, the bread toasts before you get melty cheese. If it's not hot enough, it takes seven bajillion years to make it, and no one wants grilled cheese in the time it takes to bake a potato.

Light buttering. So, you need butter to get the aforementioned golden-brown crunchiness (which is henceforth GBC, because I'm tired of typing it out) on the outside. But if you use too much butter, you just wind up with soggy grilled cheese. No one wants that but the French, who call it croque-monsieur. I do enjoy a good croque-monsieur, but it's not grilled cheese, and anyone who tells you different is a damn liar. In any case, my general method is this: I glop a whole bunch of butter on the face of the bread to start, and spread it all over. Then I use the knife to scrape off the excess, so there's just a nice, even-but-thin coating of butter on the outside.

Velveeta. I don't want to be a corporate shill, but seriously, Velveeta is the molten melty goodness of grilled cheese heaven. Secondary tip: that 2% milk nonsense isn't Velveeta. You're making grilled cheese, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Stop pretending it's healthy and enjoy the nuclear orange-yellow not found in nature.

Give your cheese room. Unlike butter, melty cheese crisps up super quick, and goes to a burned, nasty mess even quicker if it gets on your pan. I know you want to make sure there is melty cheese deliciousness in every bite, but you need to remember that melty cheese oozes. Come on, that's part of what you love about a good grilled cheese, but you have to make allowances for it. So, make sure you don't put cheese all the way to your edges of your sandwich. I try to leave about a quarter of an inch of un-cheesed bread to start. That's usually enough to let the melted cheese spread out for the yum, but not so close to the edge that it spills over into a horrifying natural disaster of cheese burned and wasted due to my Western excess. You're already getting grilled cheese. Don't be greedy about it or you'll pay the price in nasty smells and smoke detector horrors.

Cover your pan for part one. This serves a couple of purposes, one of which I'll get to in a second. But mostly, it helps encourage the cheese to melt by keeping the heat in. Importantly, however, you want to uncover the pan after you flip the sandwich. Otherwise, you risk soggying up your sandwich. See previous aspersions cast upon the lovely and cultured French.

When to flip. This one can get you in trouble. You need the cheese to have at least started its melt, since otherwise there's nothing to hold your poor sandwich together, and grilled cheese falling apart over your hot skillet is a tragedy I do not wish anyone. Seriously, the cheese melts onto the pan, so even if you wanted to make a new, clean sandwich, you're hosed by the burnt and ruined cheesy goodness all over the surface. You also want the bottom to have crisped up, because trying to spatula up wet bread is also likely to end in heartache.

This is the other reason you want to cover the pan when cooking the first side. If you buttered the bread right, one of the better indicators is the top of the sandwich. Right when the butter has melted into the top piece (so it's all a uniform yellow), you should be good. Hopefully, when you flip now, not only is the cheese melted enough to hold the sandwich together, but that bottom piece is already in GBC mode.

Listen to the sizzle. From here, there aren't as many "you have destroyed the delicious awesomeness and should be condemned" pitfalls left, but there is still that horrible risk of burning the bread, which is nearly as awful as soggy grilled cheese. Plus, it doesn't have the benefit of letting you pretend you were really making foreign cuisine, unless you convince yourself that you have invented the new German culinary dish Schadenkase.

Your second side is probably the side at most risk for the burning, since my Crazy Symmetry Needs always want me to take as long cooking both sides. Possibly I'm the only one who has that cognitive dissonance, but what the heck, it's my journal, so we're pretending I'm not alone. You already melted the butter on that top side of the sandwich, so you need less time to develop GBC here. My indicator has always been the sizzle. Flip your sandwich and you'll hear it. Now pay attention for when you don't hear it any more. Give it a couple of seconds after that, then check that bottom side. If it isn't GBC yet, it's probably close. Check it every 5-10 seconds because it won't take long.

Apocrypha. Sometimes it works perfectly, sometimes you have to adjust. If your first side of the sandwich didn't get quite as much GBC as you like, just flip the sandwich back over. There's no easy indicators at this point, but it also shouldn't take very long to get crisped up. Just keep a close eye on it and all should be good.

The set-up. Now you're ready to gobble down the gooey cheesy awesome, right? If you answered "yes," you're terrible at recognizing a trick question. If you bust into your grilled cheese now, you will fall victim to Velveeta lava spilling all over you and / or your plate. Spock wouldn't have even had a chance to save the Enterprise if he'd had to walk into a room full of this stuff, and they'd have no body to shoot onto a planet, and we wouldn't have Star Trek With Whales, so hold your horses, hater.

No, after you plate your grilled cheese, you have to let it sit for a minute or so. You're afraid the sandwich will get cold, but I'm writing this thing and I'm telling you you're wrong (in addition to telling you your fears, which may make me psychic, but don't ask me to read your palm. I know what you were doing with that thing and I'm not touching it). Remember how we compared the cheese to lava? It's not far off. If you wait a couple of minutes, until the top of the sandwich doesn't really feel very warm, you're in much better shape. Now when you cut your sandwich in half--because you're not a heathen and you don't just mutilate your grilled cheese--you'll still probably have a little meltiness coming out, but you shouldn't lose the insides in a cheese-lava spill that leaves you bereft and the wildlife on your plate in need of rescue teams armed with Dawn. Even better, you won't burn off your taste buds, so you can actually enjoy the yum.

You know, I didn't realize until I started writing this how much cooking grilled cheese was like Goldilocks. There's a whole lot of "not too much, not too little" going on up there, isn't there? Huh. I guess you can never learn enough life lessons from childhood tales of breaking and entering.

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So, I got into a discussion about higher education this morning, spurred in part by a radio mention about all this student loan nonsense. We went all over the place, really, and writing about everything we bounced around to would make for something so unfocused as to be unreadable. If I'm feeling super-ambitious, I might manage to write multiple entries on some of the other topics, but for now I'm going to try to focus on what seems to be the standout pseudo-epiphany I had.

Every other day I see some link online to an article about "The best degrees" or "Dead-end degrees to avoid" or something similar. And every single one of those articles boils down "best" with a straight up dollars-earned comparison. Dead-end degrees are those that don't make you money. They're "bad returns on your investment."

I'm not sure if I can say it's The Thing That's Wrong, but certainly one of the things about the "education debate" that always rankles me is the continued insistence that a degree is a financial commodity. As far as I'm concerned, a degree is just a piece of paper. Okay, maybe it's a symbol. Fine: definitely it's a symbol. If you think it's a symbol of your potential fiscal success, however, I think you're buying into a fallacy.

The thing about symbols is, they can represent a lot of different things. From my perspective, a degree is a symbol of what you learned. That can be any of a number of things: you could learn an ungodly amount of trivia for which you can find no practical application; you could learn a diverse set of skills which you can put to use in just as diverse a set of ways; you could learn nothing more than how to bullshit your way through life, netting a position which grossly overpays you given your actual contributions to the world. Just so we're clear, though, each of those is not a specific kind of degree (chemistry, literature, business). Instead, it's every kind of degree. The difference, I'd contend, winds up being a combination of the learning experience and the individual in question.

And that's where I think higher education has its work cut out for it. Too many people (including, sadly, administrators at institutions of higher learning) have bought into the Capitalist / Social Darwinist narrative. It insists that anything that doesn't show direct profit via simplistic formulae doesn't serve society, and either needs to change to generate profit, or die a withering death. So colleges figure out how to maximize profits, and students put together spreadsheets based on the aforementioned internet articles, and we get more and more people whose degrees aren't symbols of much of anything, because the only thing anyone involved was interested in was the piece of paper itself, and everything it's meant to represent winds up falling to the side.

I am admittedly a horribly leftist dope on social issues, and, hey, I have one of those "worthless" degrees, so clearly I'm biased in all sorts of ways, but I just feel like one of the biggest hurdles we need to get over in the education debate is talking about it like it's pork bellies. Once we recognize the actual primary goals of education, then I think we're in a place where we can start looking at how to restructure it in a way that's fair and useful.

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I don't know that I have a full on review of World War Z in me. It was fun in a lot of ways. And if you like jumpy-scare movies I think it does a reasonably good job of that. It did, however, make use of at least one movie trope I'm more than over. SPOILERS ahead:

I probably should have been worried when I saw how many names were attached to this thingCollapse )

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And finally, the true tale which brought national spotlight onto those fascinating members of the "Side Show." This, from widely-read society columnist Alana Danae DeShazer-Opie:

It will shock no one if we say that last night's Follies New Year's Extraordinaire was one of the most highly-anticipated social events of the year. After all, how often is it that New York's elite are treated to entertainment and an opulent reception hosted by those fascinating rising stars (and lest we forget, Siamese Twins) Daisy and Violet Hilton?

What this writer might never have imagined, however, is that the real show would not be the glamorous, sweet-voiced performance by the twins, but at the party itself. There, after the Misses Hilton showed some charmingly quick wits in the face of a bevy of curious inquiries by their guests, all attending were shocked when Violet's rumored paramour, Buddy Foster, took to one knee to propose marriage!

Barely had we time to give the boy a quick congratulations than the clock chimed in the new year. And what a year of excitement we imagine it might be!


A staff artist attempts to catch the essence of the twins...


Whether it was the champagne or simply the heady news, tongues were definitely wagging as the party wound its way down from the dizzying heights of Mr. Foster's midnight proposal. Exotic heiress Noelia Altamirano nearly swooned over the romanticism of it all. We rather imagine it helped to be swooning on the arm of her escort, shipping magnate J. Saan Ellis. The sultry Leona Collesano found it fairly tired news. Of course, as the fourth fiance of oil baron William Sarazen, we suppose she is entitled to a bit of cynicism as concerns engagement.

Some found the prospect fabulous. Others seemed a bit disturbed by thoughts of how the eventual Mr. and Mrs. Buddy Foster might spend their honeymoon, given the constant presence of the unattached Daisy Hilton.

Still others found the entire affair a bit suspect. When we contacted the Orpheum Circuit for comment, a Mr. Timothy Fitzgerald informed us that Terry Connor--the girls' manager during this stellar rise to fame--had just that day resigned his position with them in order to, as we're told, focus solely on the careers of his conjoined clients.

Curious, is it not, that Mr. Connor might give up steady work to put all his eggs in one basket, as it were? Might it be that he knew about this "surprise proposal" in advance? We sincerely hope this isn't some kind of stunt posed merely for publicity (though if it is, we suppose this very reporter's column today proves it an effective one).

Or might there be another secret at play here? As Violet and Buddy basked in their happy moment, we noticed there seemed to be a bit of mooning to be glimpsed from dear Daisy in the direction of the good Mr. Connor. And though it once again might have been the bubbly, we will report it seemed to us there was something of an obvious connection between the starlet and the manager.

I daresay these girls are two to keep our eyes on. For where one sister goes, the other is sure to follow, yes? Might there, indeed, be a double wedding in their future?

Are wedding bells ringing? And for whom? Learn the secrets of the twins only now through May 5 at The Players Theatre!

Previous entries in the series:
The Fortune Teller
The Cannibal King
In the Blood
If Witches Worked Curses
His Own Boss
A True Lady
In a Foreign Land
By the Sword
For Want of a Canvas

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For your consideration, the following excerpt from an interview with acclaimed political artist Cassandra Kelley, conducted by esteemed biographer Sarah Mayper...

I think I never knew just how powerful art was until they took it away from me.

Locked in a cell for my latest series of works which cast The Dictator and his men as zoo animals caged by their own limited minds, I was quick to lose my vaunted pride. It is difficult to feel elation in the dark and dank.

There arrived another prisoner, however, who even in that hole seemed to know my work. She insisted I continue. Seeing the light she brought to this black pit, I accepted the challenge.

That first night, I used a stick to sketch into the dirt of the floor. The next morning, the guards forced us to rake it all away. The second night, I gathered mud and dust and the grease from the cell door hinges and painted the walls with a gray and black toned image. The guards handed us soapy water and brushes and forced us to scrub it clean.

I began to despair that, despite the glow my work brought to my fellow prisoner, despite the lightness it gave my own soul, I might never find a canvas the guards would not wipe away in the morning.

But my prison patron refused to give up. She collected my makeshift palette, fashioned a brush end on the stick with a collection of stray hairs we had, and removed the rag she wore to cover herself. And I knew this was our solution, for the guards refused to let us bathe in our prison, wanted us to wallow in our filth as we awaited our release, and so here, upon the flesh of my fellow, was the one place they would never find my art, would never force us to wash it away.

I crafted in secret the art which sustained us both. It was a slow process, between the lack of light and my own unfamiliarity with the way the human body might twist and distort line and color. But we had time, and so I worked on tiny patches of skin, honing and perfecting a masterpiece upon her.

After our release, we lost touch through unfortunate circumstances, and it was many years later when I next saw her. To my amazement, I discovered that my art remained. The crude mud and grease I used in that pit was gone, but in its place, the woman had commissioned a tattoo in the same shape and shades. And not just my work, but all across her body over the years she had built her own massive collection of art, had turned herself into a living canvas, a walking archive, an embodied museum.

An artist often wishes to know her work has pressed itself deep into the souls of those who experience it, but here was a woman who bore her soul across her very body, and I have never had a prouder moment than to witness it.

And where might one see this living museum? Only now through May 5 at The Players Theatre!

Previous entries in the series:
The Fortune Teller
The Cannibal King
In the Blood
If Witches Worked Curses
His Own Boss
A True Lady
In a Foreign Land
By the Sword

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Our second report in the hair-raising events of yesterday was recently recovered from the flight journal of World War I flying ace Craigson Engle

When Mr. Monde hired me to fly folks back and forth on these little treasure hunts he funds, I figured I had things free and easy. Making it through The Great War, after all, a fella supposes everything else is tame.

Then there was this trip to pick up the dame he sent on over to the desert. Seems she'd gone and got herself into quite a pickle, and Mr. Monde sent me to track down some fella he knew thataway.

Quiet guy, that one. What's the word? Stoic. Yeah. Carried a sword and a knife and not a lot else, which seems like it wouldn't be much good against a pistol, but the boss thought he was the fella to fix things, so I just stayed quiet and drove. That's how I made my dough, after all.

A lot of sun and sand later following that map the dame sent, and we pulled up on that oasis. All fancy silk tents clustered up around that pool of water that shouldn't have probably been there with all the heat, but there it was.

And there was that Sheik the boss warned us about, and just like the boss's buddy, this one had a sword, and he already had it out, shouting something about guarding his home and never giving up his wives.

There were the wives, too. Pretty little things. Or I think they were pretty. They were all veils and big eyes, but they sure had nice shapes. I could see why a fella might be inclined to protect 'em.

I might have tried to talk to him, myself. With all those women, I supposed he might not miss one of them, especially since the boss had the money to make it worth his while. But that quiet fella I brought with me? Jumped to the ground and had his sword out quick as you please.

Didn't last long, the fight. Not because the Sheik was a slouch with a sword. No, actually, it looked pretty quickly like he was much better than our man, and I cringed a bit as he stabbed past the guy's guard and got him right in the mouth, of all things. Not a pleasant way to go.

But then, he didn't go. That satisfied grin the Sheik got when our fella staggered backward fell right away when he didn't fall down. No siree, he stood straight and tall, that sword shoved all the way down his gullet. Then he reached up, grabbed the hilt, and pulled that sword right back out, clean of blood. Then he was holding his sword and the Sheik's, and it was our man's turn to smile.

After that, well, what else is there to say? The Sheik fell to his knees and begged for mercy, and I can’t say as I blame him. A man who eats metal for breakfast shook even this soldier.

Mr. Monde's lady friend insisted we take the other girls with us, which made for a ride home that was crowded, but not so you'd mind. I heard a rumor the girls went over to the states. Heard another that the Sheik got his nerve back and went hunting for them. Not that I know anything about that. Wouldn't surprise me, though. Nothing much can after that.

At least, not yet.

Can a man really make a meal of metal, or did some kind of heat stroke mar a good man's memory? Find out for yourself now through May 5 at The Players Theatre!

Previous entries in the series:
The Fortune Teller
The Cannibal King
In the Blood
If Witches Worked Curses
His Own Boss
A True Lady
In a Foreign Land

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From French antiquities collector Jean-Paul Monde, comes a startling field report of polygamy and peril made by his agent, trail-blazing tomb raider L. Roeming....

I have long held a fascination with Araby, and so must thank you again for your sponsorship, good monsieur, but what I have found here, I am afraid, is a world harsher and more shocking than I could have imagined. Your insistence on my escort, the messieurs Bowman and Vallence, is well taken.

Other women in these harsh climes have not my same protections, I am afraid, a fact which leads me to the reason for this report.

As I browsed the local market today in preparation for our outing to the local ruins, there came into the center of town a veritable caravan of opulence. At its head, a broad-shouldered Sheik, filled with vigor and arrogance. He bounded off his camel with an inhumanly-spry spring, landing on his feet as if gravity herself could not bend him to her will.

Fascinated, I followed him as he wound through the market, then down an alley I had somehow never noticed before. He tore aside a wispy curtain, and as I tried to follow, the brutish thugs on either side of the entry attempted to bar my way.

It was here those gentlemen I had so foolishly characterized as roustabouts when you loaned them to me came in quite handy, as they provided just the distraction I needed to enter and see the tawdry truth: The Sheik, it seemed, was shopping for a bride.

The seller toured about the lot, babbling their praises, when he finally stopped at a small group of girls huddled together in fright. I had trouble hearing much more from my position hidden in shadow, but I did let loose a gasp as I caught their words for "harem" and "virgin."

That dark, exotic, rough man turned then, his piercing gaze sweeping through the shadows to uncover me. I found my heart beating in my ears such as to make thought difficult, but I managed, in a fit of momentary epiphany, to claim I was a Western journalist, sent to write of his noble existence in an effort to educate the curious masses.

He seemed less than thoroughly convinced, but for the moment, his fascination for a woman who labors was enough to distract him from pressing further. He turned back to the seller, pointed to four of the virginal girls, then threw him a small sack of gold before gesturing for the four of them and myself to follow.

And now my time grows short. The caravan is almost packed, and I cannot in good conscience let it go alone. I must protect these poor young women, and so I continue my ruse. I send you this report with your stalwart men to ensure its safe arrival at its destination.

With it you will find a map to the Sheik’s oasis that one of my newfound Wards, a waif named Laurencia, managed to acquire. I only pray you might send me aid in my quest before the Sheik grows wise to my ruse, or decides that a Western bride is just the thing his growing harem needs!

Did help arrive in time? We have just now uncovered further evidence, but must wait until next time so that we might check its veracity. Come back tomorrow for the heart-pounding second installment, and see the Sheik and his harem for yourself now through May 5 at The Players Theatre!

Previous entries in the series:
The Fortune Teller
The Cannibal King
In the Blood
If Witches Worked Curses
His Own Boss
A True Lady

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From the estate of Delilah Dimples, a letter signed by esteemed philanthropist Mr. TL Duncan...

Please forgive my prattle, but I feel I might only explain this letter by explaining, however briefly, myself. My entire life has been a polite one, filled with rules and expectations and, as you might imagine, a dearth of pleasure.

Most would find my complaints trite. Born with the right pedigree and a strong jaw line and, not incidentally, a healthy bank account, I have lived a life of privilege. The best food, the best clothes, the best women. Or so everyone kept telling me. Especially as concerned the women.

I must admit, however, that I rarely enjoyed their company. Certainly the women in my life had the same advantages as I. Surely they took great pains to show this, as well. Their waists were all cinched until they most closely resembled a wasp, the better to fit into their expensive clothing, tailored as it is to the barest inch for breathing.

We ate at the finest restaurants. Or, rather, I ate, and they nibbled daintily at the edges of painstakingly-groomed salads, sipped at their water with their tiny pinkies raised just so. They tittered coyly at my jokes, though never too loudly least they seem unladylike.

Good Lord above, but I cannot imagine my evenings being any more tedious. Each of them a waist-cinched and coiffured copy of the other, such that I admit there was more than one evening when I quite forgot the name of the lady I was with. But this seemed to be what the world expected, and I followed along like the obedient child I was.

Then my cohorts insisted on a night of the exotic, and I came along more because this was what men of the world did, on occasion, was it not? I stifled my yawn and prepared for the worst.

But then I saw you, my dearest Miss Dimples. In one glance, I knew my pathetic life of drips and drabs for what it was, as in you I saw what I had so long lacked: A woman who looked at the world and was not content to nibble on the edges of life, but who sought out the delights in this world and vowed to experience them fully and completely and with reckless abandon.

My cynicism fell away, and all those poets I once mocked for writing about love at first sight suddenly became the chroniclers of my soul. For, indeed, I must tell you with no equivocation that I love you with every fiber of my being. God knows such a proclamation is surely forward and brash, but if I have learned nothing else from you this night, it is the importance of embracing the delights of this world without care for what polite society might have to say about them.

So I declare my love and devotion, here and now and always. Marry me or use and discard me, only please allow that you will meet me. If only once, I long to bask in the presence of a woman of true and honest substance, a lover of this life and all the joys it carries within it.

Grant me this smallest of pleasures, and I can promise you I will forever treasure it, more than my name or my money or the jewels I might buy, and certainly more than a hundred nibbling, "proper" ladies.

Discover more of "Dolly Dimples" and the Side Show now through May 5 at The Players Theatre!

Previous entries in the series:
The Fortune Teller
The Cannibal King
In the Blood
If Witches Worked Curses
His Own Boss

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From the work journal of ranch hand DW Walker, the story of a man obsessed with the very oddities our series explores...

For a guy so tall, that cook never seemed scary. For one thing, he was awful young. For another, his nose was always in a book. And when it wasn't, he was spouting off about one weird fact or another: men with claws for hands, who had scales 'stead of skin, or drank animal blood 'stead of cooking meat like normal folks. And the twins. Lord, how he went on 'bout the twins.

"Born from the same life germ." I can't ever remember the whole rigmarole, but I remember that part, since I never understood how a germ grew into people. But he kept talking about how his parents had them a pair of those Siam-ite twins and that's how they made their living, and he figured if he could find a whole buncha folks like that, why, that'd be easy money, wouldn't it?

Probably would have done better to talk less and work harder, I always thought. The boss was always up in his face about mucking up the food not paying attention. And you didn't want to mess with the boss. He was a big guy who was scary. All broad shoulders under that leather longcoat, cracking that whip like it weren't harder than waving a bit of string. Nobody liked him, but since we'd seen him turn that whip on a ranch hand or two when they got too big for their britches, weren't none of us going to tell him that.

So anyways, there was cookie, all books and cowering and barely keeping his job with the stale bread and slop he was serving. But I worked lots of ranches, and ain't never been much better anywhere else, so never seemed worth all the fuss the boss made.

I expect maybe it was about something else. But if cookie wandered off some nights with one or two of the other ranch hands, I always thought: to each his own. Ranch can be a lonely place. You find yourself some companionship you enjoy, ain't no never mind to me, I say.

Then he got that letter. Started caterwauling like wasn't no tomorrow when he read it. One of his buddies let on cookie'd just found out his folks had died. I felt bad for the guy, I did, but when dinner came and weren't even all the potatoes peeled with all his blubbering, the boss wasn't nearly so nice.

Started on a tirade, screaming and yelling, and odd thing was, instead of cowering like he always had before, that cook looked down at the wad of paper in his hands, nodded like he'd just had a talk with it, then stood up tall and proud. And boy, but those eyes, red from crying, got cold and dark and oh so mean.

Shook the boss for a minute, but you don't get to be a foreman by having no spine. Stood nose to nose with cookie and told him dinner better be ready lickety split or he'd take the whip to him just like he did the cattle.

Cookie just let out a laugh cold as his eyes were. So the boss backed up a few steps, and he swung that whip. I almost couldn't look, but boy am I glad I did. 'Cause there wasn't a whip crack, not like normal, on account of that mewly bookworm cook snatched that whip end right out the air and yanked it out of the boss's hand.


His own Boss now...

Oh, but that was a sight mighta sent a man blind from surprise all on its own, but it didn't end there. One, two, three steps, then a hell of a haymaker, and the boss crumpled to the ground like he was nothing more than a scarecrow.

Cookie took that fancy leather coat off the boss, and hell if it didn't fit like it was made for him. Stood tall and proud, and we all for a minute sent up a whooping cheer to see someone teach that bully a lesson, but then the cook bellowed, twice as loud and nasty as the boss, and we all stood still.

"All you big, strong, normal men," our bookworm said, glaring at us all. "Can wrangle a steer in a minute, but you don't have the decency to stand up for anyone else, or listen when somebody wants to educate you.

"I've had it with your little show," he growled, holding up that letter he'd been weeping over all morning. "I've got my own to attend to now. I think it's time I was my own boss."

Struck his tent right then and there, and by the time the boss woke up, wasn't nothing left of that cook but raw potatoes seasoned with a pinch of our own shame.

But what kind of man will this new Boss be? And what of the show he'll be running? Discover his Side Show now through May 5 at The Players Theatre!

Previous entries in the series:
The Fortune Teller
The Cannibal King
In the Blood
If Witches Worked Curses

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time and tide
Back July 2013
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