Archive for the ‘short story’ Category


Radical Feminism In the Era of a Hillary Clinton Presidency

July 30, 2016

(based upon real-life Facebook posts)

smokella the bear

Someone has said, “Some men will be sexist because of last night’s news.”

So one assumes, “Oh, that news must be when Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination for president. That appears to be in the National conscious today. Well, I’m not happy about it but I hope my expressed view won’t be misconstrued.”

Then that friend sounds upset and demands to know, “When did I say I support Hillary Clinton. Why did you turn this into a political post? Stop putting words in my mouth.”

So one says, “I wasn’t talking about you. That news was about the presidential election, right?”

And that friend replies, “You’re making a strawman argument. As a matter of fact, I do support Hillary Clinton for president.”

“Good for you,” one says. “I’ll still vote for her but I won’t be happy.”


 = Matthew Sawyer


Canaanabis Roach – Doctor Who fan fiction (NSFW)

February 26, 2015

The Doctor appears late in this sordid tale. All the attention is given to the protagonist of Canaanabis Roach. He’s special and he’s just been given the power of speech. Now he talks about his adventures in past lives, This one happens to include the namesake Time Lord and an impossible girl.

Canaanabis Roach

Canaanabis Roach
(Doctor Who fan fiction)
Mr. Binger (aka Matthew Sawyer)

I’ve got a chamber in my pipe. I’ll explain what I mean when I say “chamber” in a minute. I mean it is really called a “chamber,” but some of you might not know what I’m talking about. This is my “weed pipe,” my pipe for smoking weed, marijuana. I am not going to lie about it, you saw me.

You caught me with my dick in my hand. Literally, it looks like a dick – my pipe does. It’s blown, opaque purple glass and it has a bulge on the end where you suck out smoke. It looks like the vacuum-sucked head of a circumcised penis, like a doorknob stuck on the end of some guy’s pecker. A purple one. That’s the chamber. You suck the smoke out of the pee-hole of a big, sensitive dick. I’m getting another pipe or I am just going to roll joints from now on. After this bowl.

What was I saying? Yeah, that bulge in my pipe is a “chamber” where pot smoke gets concentrated. All that THC swirls into there like scented incense into a cathedral, a whole lot of incense… frankincense, mire and that kind of shit. Fundamentalist Christians throw crap in there that makes the smoke sparkle. Catholics think Jesus is hiding in there, that cloud, above the tabernacle to be precise. I’ve never seen him. What I was saying? Oh, so much smoke gets packed in there, you get blinded. I mean, you can still see, but you can’t see through that haze in the chamber. And that’s before you take the hit, but you’ll be fine. Marijuana is safer than you think.

I flick my transparent and unbranded lighter and touch flame against the bowl in my pipe, and my lips against the bulging glass phallus, then I take a hit. I draw a sooty vapor of cannabinoids into my mouth then lungs and I feel something sharp and serrated against my bottom lip. That something had come poked out of the chamber. I spit and there goes all the smoke I tried holding in my lungs.

Sat beneath the wasted intoxicating vapor, I examine the desecrated end of my purple penis pipe. A long, jagged stem projects from the opening. It looks like it may have come from the marijuana I had packed into the pipe. It was stemmy – the marijuana Sativa strain called Sunday Schoolgirl is full of stems. Sunday Schoolgirl is stemmy. And I wonder if I had loaded so much weed into the bowl of my pipe it now came out the other end. That was impossible.

The openings between the chamber and the bowl of the pipe are tiny. And there is a metal screen in the bowl that holds the weed in place. It’s where ash and resin collects. Cinders hardly ever pass through the restricted passages – which was a merit for the design of the glass pipe. A big stem could never fit through this artful and obscene piece of smoking apparatus. That would be like asking a pregnant woman to swallow a camera to examine a fetus in her womb. There are barriers.

Unmindful of the unborn, I pinch that stray stem of Sunday Schoolgirl between the nails of my thumb and my little finger and I pull it out with a snap. I’m sure I hear the pipe scream – in my mind. Did you hear it? I tell myself I heard the inanimate twig cry in my imagination. I am baffled at first when I inspect the foreign object in my hand.

What had touched my lip is a leg, an insect leg; the leg of cockroach – a cricket, I hoped – but its dismembered source follows from out of the pipe. From out of a maybe a four caliber opening at the end of the chamber, an oversized blond cockroach crawls. “How did you get in there?” I say to the insect clinging upside on the pipe. I don’t expect an answer so I should have ended that statement with a period.

Although I am repulsed the smoking creature is just above the open palm of my hand, I have my senses and remain in control of myself. The only thing I don’t pay conscious attention to is the question, “How did that huge thing ever get out of the chamber?” If marijuana smoke was dangerous, this thing should have been trapped and gassed to death, fumigated.

“Don’t kill me,” I hear it cry. The bug is talking to me. I drop the pipe when the cockroach tells me, “I am so high.” Both fall out of my hand and toward the floor.

The insect screams, “Eeee…”

The jetsam vanishes until a second later I see the bug clinging on the cuff of my right shirt sleeve. Brimming with discourtesy, I shake my arm and holler, “Get off, get off!”

Somewhere from under my arm the cockroach seems to speak to itself. It moans, “My leg, I lost my leg. Oh, the pain… the vision… the power of speech!”

“Is this a miracle?” I babble aloud. “What’s going on?”

The cockroach lets go of my sleeve and it swings itself onto the table in my kitchen. Landed skillfully despite missing an appendage, the cockroach informs me, “You tore my leg off! Giant, monster! Now I’ve only got five”

“Nah,” I object. I say no again then realize I am indeed guilty. “Yeah, okay…”

“Okay,” echos the insect. “Hey, it is okay. I can talk. The trauma and the marijuana – I can talk.

“Like the animals when the Messiah was born,” I conjecture aloud.

“What?” the bug asks me. “You’re faith is not exactly canonical.”

“Huh? Shaken is what you should say.” I ask the talking cockroach, “Who are you?”

“I am Canaanabis Roach,” he tells me.

“No,” I stutter while I am still confused. “What are you?”

“I can tell you.”

“Please do.”

“I can tell you a story,” Canaanabis Roach promises.

My agreement comes out with an emphatic, “I suppose.”

Pushy, I ask him more. “Where do you come from.”

“Possibly from where we all come from,” Canaanabis says. “We live forever, you and me. Each life follows one past. And I think we’re all going to the same place.”

“You’re a bug, a religious bug,” I say when I answer this riddle. “Are you reincarnated? Did you do something bad?”

“Bug?” the cockroach described itself. “I would have you know, my shape today is the peak of evolution. All life on Earth will arrive at this pinnacle before the planet ends.”

“The Earth is going to end?” I ponder in morose.

Canaanabis ignores my sad realization and he still talks about himself. “I have always looked like I am, but perfected at each birth. You are too. Maybe regeneration is the correct word for what happens at death and not reincarnation.”

“I got to take a hit,” I state so and I do just that. I ignite the glass bowl again and swallow smoke from pipe without again looking at the instrument. Luckily, I never get in touch with another relative of this Canaanabis Roach.

My head swims and I repeat myself. “You’re talking.”

“We covered that. It’s the smoke,” the insect says then jumps because I bring my hand with the pipe down hard upon the table. I almost kill the miraculous bug. The whole incident is an accident.

“Careful,” it shouts at me.

“Sorry,” I beg from the creature. “It does seem a reasonable thing for bugs to worry about, getting squashed; that and fumigation.”

“You made my heart jump,” Canaanabis says.

I ask him, “Do you have a heart?”

“Of course,” he replies, “It’s full of love. I’m not even sore about the leg. The power of speech is something anyone would imaginably give a limb for.”

“Look at you, poor creature,” Canaanabis tells me. “I shouldn’t feel bad, you only have four.”

“Nevertheless,” he says and talks until he is calm again. “Have you ever had a premonition? Have you ever received a sign something bad is going to happen?”

“Whoa,” I answer. “You want another hit? Cuz’ I do.”

“Sure,” the bugs says. “I think marijuana makes me smarter.”

“It’s safe, too,” I relate while I hold smoke in my inflated chest. The swelling subsides and another question rides out of my mouth upon a stream of vapor. “How? How are you going to smoke. Do you have lungs?”

“I don’t,” Canaanabis notes.

Both of us consider a puzzle before the cockroach suggests, “I got an idea. Get that bowl smoking. Get it hot and let it smolder and put it down. I got it from there.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Take a hit,” insists Canaanabis. “Take a big one, a really big one.”

I do what I am told and place the smoking pipe on the table, carefully, next to my new friend. I make a toast and blow out smoke. “This one is for the Kafka!”

Canaanabis Roach crawls over and on top of the smoking bowl – his missing leg presented him no disability. His other five work fine. The insect hovers over the hot embers and in this way Canaanabis absorbs vapor into himself. He speaks to me while he procrastinates on top of the pot. He lingers there until the last waft of smoke dissipates.

“I am so high,” he says. “I hope this doesn’t wear off.”

“You know what it feels like?” he asks me.

“I’m sure I do,” I admit. “But I’m not so sure how it feels for you.”

Canaanabis says, “It feels like warming your cold butt… like when you’re warming yourself on Christmas morning and you get warm inside.”

“Is that your butt?” I say dismissing the sentimentality. “It looks like your tummy.”



“Let’s not talk like children,” scorns the cockroach.

In defending myself, I put all responsibilities on the many little shoulders of my new buddy. “You said you were going to tell a story.”

“I will,” Canaanabis answers and crawls down onto the table. He gazes up at me and he proposes, “I will tell you about my hunt for where I came from. I’ll tell you about my past lives.”

“Talk about non-canonical,” I tease the insect.

“Keep your opinion to yourself,” he tells me. “This really happened to me.”

“Okay,” I relent and admit to myself I am talking to a bug. I am happy with this fantastical experience – quite content with my little ‘trip.’

“I was in Japan at my beginning,” Canaanabis Roach tells me. “Long ago, there was a man called the Doctor. He wasn’t from this planet.”

I choke then say, “Hold on, man. Are you talking about the science fiction television show, Doctor Who? That’s fiction, man. There’s a copyright on that shit. The BBC.”

“You don’t even know what’s real. You’re talking to me,” the cockroach reminds me. “You have magic marijuana. And what are you holding? Look at that pipe, dude.”

“Yeah, bah…”

“This happened in the past, anyway,” Canaanabis rants. “What would you know? This was before your time, long before.”

Surrendered, I say, “Okay, You met Doctor Who. Go on and tell me the rest of your story.”

“I never learned his name, but he knew mine,” the cockroach submits. “I never saw him again.”

Settling onto his haunches, and after myself being seated, Canaanabis continues his narrative. “This was in the Higo Province on Kyushu.”

“Kyushu?” I ask the insect.

“It’s the big island at the very south end of Japan.”

“Okay,” I confirm. “What’s a Higo?”

“The Province was named for the resident castle town. The Kikuchi clan administered the territory. Kikuchi Takefusa, the samurai, he was away fighting Mongols in China. Prince Koreyasu was the shogun.”

At this opportunity, I make a complaint. “Hey, is all of this going to be in Japanese? I don’t know any foreign language. I know sushi, if that isn’t an American word. Domo arigato, maybe.”

“I’m just giving you names,” the insect explains. “Write them down if you have to.”

“I’ll give them numbers,” I tease. “Uno, dos, tres…”

The cockroach grumbles. “It’s good the Doctor is just the Doctor.”

“What were you doing in Japan?” I ask and encourage my friend to tell his story.

“Discovering where I came from,” he replies while standing in contemplation. “I was born in Japan. Or so I thought until the Doctor told me I was a Mongol. I was a Chugen at the time…”

“A Chugen?”

“A foot soldier,” Canaanabis Roach tells me. He then says immediately, “I was about to be promoted a rank and become an Ashigaru.”

“Hold on,” I say and interrupt. “You were human in a past life?”

“I said we are all the same,” Canaanabis states as if he were some mystic oracle. “And I have always appeared as I am today?”

“As a bug?” I say aloud. I cannot be certain I had not meant to ask the abrupt and rude question. “I mean, you were a Japanese soldier and you were still a cockroach. Were you small?”

“No,” screeches the outraged insect. “I was as tall as you are now.”

“A giant cockroach?”

“That’s what the Doctor said when I met him,” Canaanabis conveys and simmers.

I laugh. “That’s the hook, isn’t it? Go on. Tell me your story. I’m listening. It’s already wild.”

“Okay,” the cockroach promises. “I was fetching water for the gashira – I did that every morning and night. I could carry four buckets, one in each hand…”

“You walked upright?” I blurt shocked.

“Do you want to hear this story?” Canaanabis Roach asks me as if he were proposing an ultimatum.

“Yeah,” I claim. “It’s that you said you walked on two legs. Can you do that now?”

The bug only stares up at me.

“Fine,” I say once I relent. “Tell your story, just don’t surprise me and say you wore a kimono or something.”

“Don’t be,” he warns me. “I told you, we are all the same – begun at once in one place and the same in the end.”

“Don’t punish me with church. I’ve had enough of that,” I say and cover my ears. “I just want to hear you tell your Doctor Who story. Please.”

“Fine,” Canaanabis replies. “Be quiet.”

I respectfully mouth the letters, “O,” and, “K.” My five-legged friend then continues speaking.

“I was coming past the pit-houses…”

“Wait,” I shout when I can no longer restrain my disbelief. “Was everybody a cockroach?”

Canaanabis Roach stares at me a long while. He then asks me, “Is that what it says about the Japanese in your Western history books?”

“I guess not, no,” I opine. And I admit, “History was not my strongest subject.”

“Obviously,” the insect says. “Let me answer your questions. Just don’t interrupt the story again.”

I wave both my hands in surrender. After I exhale a held breath, Canaanabis says, “The Doctor’s time machine materialized on the path ahead. The road to the Danjo. There was a loud, labored sound like your breathing is now and the time machine appeared.”

However the storyteller meant my involvement in his tale to sound, I understand the cockroach to say I was acting noisy. I hold my breath and Canaanabis tells me more. “A gaijin wearing a black cape and accented with frills stepped out the blue box and he walked straight toward me. This one meant business. A small brunette girl had come with him.”

I think, “Which regeneration? Which Doctor is this one? There are like a dozen.” And I don’t mean Canaanabis Roach’s vague definition of reincarnation. I’m talking about canon, There’s a linear progression of Doctors in the series. The clues I had been given indicates this story includes the Third Doctor.

The woman with him could be Liz or Jo or Mary Jane Smith – if at this point the cockroach truly now adheres to canon. Canaanabis tells me outright, “Her name was Clara.”

“Oh,” I wince and pretend the noise I made was a natural and involuntary human function.

“Fascinating,” Canaanabis says the Doctor told him and I give my attention to the speaker again. My friend tells me, “We spoke the same language but I still distrusted the foreign visitors.”

“I asked the Doctor if he and his companion were ikko-ikki, rebel peasants – my masters would need to know.”

The Doctor told Canaanabis, “She may be icky…”

And Clara complained, “Hey!”

But the Doctor merely grinned and never stuttered while he yet spoke. “I’m a bit more important. The three of us have a riddle to solve. You two have a connection.”

“To that?” Clara objected and pointed. Canaanabis ignored the woman in respect for the Doctor.

“How so?” the upright, man-sized cockroach asked the time and space traveler.

“You are both impossible,” he told my friend. “You each are reborn again and again. Do you have any memory of who you were?”

Clara warned Canaanabis. “He started asking that question. It usually goes somewhere, I don’t know where. Just answer him.”

“Are you a monk?” Canaanabis said he asked the Doctor. The bug clarifies for me his question was based on the Doctor’s declaration of afterlife. Overly reverent, he asked him, “Are you a sohei?”

The Doctor said, “Something like that.”

The time traveler then directed the upright cockroach, “If you don’t remember any past lives, as my lovely friend, Clara, does not, let’s start at the beginning. Where were you were born? Here, in Japan?”

“My master would know,” Canaanabis answered. “He adopted me when I was born. I have no idea where my mother has gone or if she is even still alive.”

“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Clara is said to have stated. The Doctor hushed his companion.

“And your master is in mainland China,” the Doctor said knowingly. “He should have almost reached the Yangtze River by now… tell me, is there anyone at his Dojo that can answer questions about your past?”

Canaanabis said, “If there was, I would have found out and talked to him by now.”

“Let’s go to China,” the Doctor decided then hustled everyone into his marvelous box. “Everyone into the Tardis, the both of you. I will not have this mystery haunt me the rest of my lives. It’s like both of you are fragmented – split tachyons radiate off you into random directions. Look at you, Canaanabis Roach. Heavens, now you’re a bug!”

“I am what I am,” my friend said in defense of himself.

Clara told him, “It’s alright, ignore him. He’s made me mad, too. He just doesn’t know any better.”

“Excuse me?” the Doctor said inside his inverted spaceship. He explained to an awed Canaanabis, “This machine is larger than your whole village.”

Clara also answered the Doctor’s question. “You’re rude.”

“Me?” the Doctor argued and piloted his box over the East China Sea. Canaanabis said he watched their fight on a view-screen. The Doctor also challenged his female assistant. “Me, rude? What about you, you pint-sized mistress?”

“It’s called the TARDIS,” he told his other, insect guest. The machine landed with a thud. Clara scolded the pilot.


He told her, “Look what you’ve done, you’ve made her mad.” The Doctor was talking about his machine. He said about his Tardis, “She’ll remember that.”

“Oh,” Clara groaned. She pulled a red lever on the angular console in the center of the room and the outside doors opened. “Let’s go. Let’s find out who I am and why I’m connected to a mutant cockroach in feudal Japan.”

“We’re in China now,” the Doctor corrected her. “Near Shanghai.”

“Is my master here,” the insect asked the Doctor and peeked outside. He saw only the length of a wide, golden river.

The Doctor told my friend, “I expect so.”

Outside the Tardis, Clara asked Canaanabis, “Excuse me, doesn’t anyone say anything about… I’m sorry for being direct. What do people say about your appearance?”

He told her honestly, “The peasants think I am the child of a spirit under the earth. Lord Kikuchi’s army thinks I’m good luck.”

“If that is the case, they’ll be happy to see you here,” the Doctor said and shut the door of his machine. Canaanabis makes a personal comment in the midst of his story.

“We were outside again. All I saw was earth, water and sky and it still seemed smaller than that time I was in the Doctor’s time machine.”

He then told me the Tardis had materialized on the banks of the Yangtze near a rope corral holding thick, big-headed ponies. A circle of tents stood behind the fenced animals. A large blue jin-maku, the camp curtain, was clearly visible displayed on a center tent within the ring. Its letters proclaimed this was the army of Kikuchi Takefusa. The Doctor wasted no time marching around the fence then straight into the camp’s perimeter.

“Halt,” two armored guards told him and barred the passage with crossed naginata. “The curved pole arms were an intimidating barrier,” Canaanabis emphasized for me.

“I know Takefusa,” the Doctor told the guards. “He and I met at the dojo we shared when he was a boy.”

“They didn’t believe him,” Canaanabis said to me. “That’s why the Doctor started yelling for my master.”

“Takefusa,” he shouted. “Takefusa, come out here. I have questions about our mutual friend. I’ve brought him here.”

“’Canaanabis Roach?’ Kikuchi Takefusa said. He looked so full of hope that day I saw him, when he said my name. Then he saw the Doctor and the samurai’s face went pale.”

My friend said, “His hand dropped onto the hilt of his katana.”

“Who?” shouted the samurai. Kikuchi Takefusa could not disguise the recognition he had for the Doctor. He inquired, “How is it possible? You, you have not changed.”

“I am blessed, I imagine,” the Doctor replied. “I am blessed to see my friend grown to become a powerful lord.”

“I am a lord, Time Lord,” Takefusa told the Doctor. “I never understood what that could mean. I thought you were telling a child a tale.”

“Now you do,” the alien traveler replied and took advantage of the implied explanation for everything about him that had not changed.

“He knows everybody,” Clara proclaimed and threw up her arms and shrunk low.

“Canaanabis,” Kikuchi Takefusa said to the insect. “We need your luck. The ships have not arrived to take back our hoard. My men will eat all the horses if the barbarians come first and he must fight them.”

The pole arms were then uncrossed and the Doctor and the overstrung Japanese warrior conversed without obstruction. “That’s too bad,” the Doctor stated in sympathy. “Tell me, where did you find our friend, Canaanabis Roach?”

“What?” yelled the samurai. “He comes from here.”

Kikuchi Takefusa spoke directly to the cockroach. Canaanabis tells me he said, “My friend, didn’t you know? You come from here? The Mongols were going to eat you.”

“Ergh,” the cockroach said he gagged.

“Clara was hiding,” he explained to me. He claims, “I don’t think she was trying to stay concealed. She was short, much shorter than the Doctor. And she was shorter than me when I wanted to be a samurai. The woman was standing behind us and no one knew she was there.”

Kikuchi Takefusa told my friend, “Your mother was a witch. I found her here in China with her snake. She held you captive, Canaanabis, and the woman made you part of an experiment. I heard she transformed you into what you are now. She did this to you in her quest for immortality.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” the Doctor is said to have interjected. “A clue.”

“Transformed?” my friend said he wondered aloud. He tells me out of the context of his story, “I don’t think I have ever looked different, in this life or a last.”

I flatter the bug, “You look fine. Go on, so now you think you were human?”

Canaanabis Roach pauses and I am impressed with the idea my new friend is cross with me. After some time of hearing my intermittent breaths, he reminds me, “Please, pay attention.”

“I do,” I claim. In order to assure my guest, I apologize. “I’m sorry. Please, go on.”

The cockroach finally says, “Clara pushed between us, the Doctor and me. I think she wanted to say something but then my master spotted her.”

“Kikuchi Takefusa shouted, ‘The witch,’ and he pulled his sword from its sheath.”

“Clara was a witch?” I can’t help and ask astonished.

Canaanabis replies, “She was my mother.”

“My master, Lord Kikuchi Takefusa, sought to cut off her head but I stepped between them.”

The insect pauses. At this opportunity, I point at the cold pipe with a fat, fresh ounce of weed packed into its bowl. Whether or not my friend registered I was offering another round of intellectual enhancement was an infertile question. Canaanabis began speaking again. He sounded melancholy.

“I’m sure you’ve heard the claim in popular fiction – when a samurai draws his sword, he must also draw blood.”

I nod my head.

“He drew mine,” my friend says. “I sacrificed my life for the life of my mother. Lord Kikuchi took off my head.”

“Duh-ah,” I sputter in sympathy.

Canaanabis tells me, “He might have killed Clara, too. I don’t know.”

“I don’t think so,” I say and hope I cheer the insect. “The Doctor was there. He knows Venusian aikido.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Canaanabis tells me.

“Why is that?” I ask.

“Because the Doctor is coming back.”

“Huh?” I gush. “Really?”

I am sure the cockroach curtsies and he tips his head multiple times. “When?” I ask him.

“Today,” he says. “Maybe my awakening isn’t an accident.”

“Today?” I am astonished. Even so, I cannot believe a bug. “You’re having a laugh.”

“I know I saw the Doctor again,” he testifies. “I remember a dream in which he told me we were going next to the prehistoric Middle East. Clara is supposed to be there.”

Filled with doubt, I verify, “And he’s coming for you today?”

“I remember,” Canaanabis says.

“That’s convenient,” I state and pick up my unsightly smoking instrument.

My lighter refuses to produce flame. Excessive white sparks fly from the spun flint wheel but not one finds enough aerated fuel to foster a fire. I shake the empty lighter in hopes of conjuring flammable vapor but my effort is wasted.

“Let me get another lighter,” I tell my insect guest then try pushing myself out my chair. The effort produces no effect. Without any thought, I plant my hand solidly and suddenly upon the surface of the table in the spot where Canaanabis Roach had squat.

This was the end of this life for him. Completely unintentionally and now wholly remorseful, I discover I had squashed my friend. “Clumsy, me,” I scold myself.

“Clumsy, stupid me,” I say then I hear the Tardis wheeze. The Doctor was indeed coming. And I realize I have got something unfortunate to tell yet another character from my imagination. Before he gets here, I find a damp dishcloth and I wipe our mutual friend’s guts from the palm of my hand.

– END –

(Also Available From Smashwords)


Hues of Who – Doctor Who fan fiction from Matthew Sawyer

February 14, 2015

(Obviously, a well-intentioned parody of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. – the author)

Hues of Who

Chapter One- Vague Consent

An evening in February, in an unidentified and yet modest suburb of Chicago, Illinois, the Doctor comes to the home a seamstress. Shielded against electric incandescence by a flopping brown hat, the tall man rapped on the front door once and now enters the house. Clumps of snow come inside with him.

Kicking a ridiculously banded and long scarf ahead of his booted toes until he eventually stands still, he asks the owner, “Does this business do custom work? It says something to that effect on the door.”

“It depends,” Tiffany answers him. Unfazed by the sudden entrance and direct question, the home business operator jumps from behind the industrial sewing machine she has mounted on a standing pedestal there in the front room of her house. Above all else, the English accent of a potential client distracted her a whole second.

“I was looking for something professional,” he tells her and his voice sounds like tea and cream. As soft and tasty as the sound could be and because of that, her heart beats twice. And when he removes his hat, his goggled and wonderful blue eyes feel as if they melt her bones. She floats in locks of his wild hair.

Humbled and made foolish by her own astonishment, Tiffany grumbles aloud, “Why here?”

“Why not here?” asks the Doctor. Already, the man acts hyper-attuned to everything she says. He reads her thoughts and tells her, “There’s nothing wrong with here. It’s safe.”

“Safe?” she wonders.

The Doctor dismisses her concern. “Regardless, here is where I’ve wound up, or rather unwound. You see?”

Loops of ridiculous scarf flies into Tiffany’s face. Unharmed, she bats them away and she spots gaps and tears in the knitwear. The costume piece had been ravaged.

“Pardon me,” the Doctor begs her. “My scarf has been torn to pieces. I can’t control it anymore.”


“It’s nothing,” he promises. “I would just like it whole again. I would appreciate you very much if you could do that for me.”

“I can knit,” Tiffany mumbles after she stopped wondering aloud. Salvaging any poor impression the handsome English man may have gained of her, she adds with determined confidence, “It will take some work, but I can do this.”

Recovered and more focused on her business, she tells him, “The cost isn’t too bad but I will charge for each segment.”

“We can discuss compensation,” the Doctor tells her.

“Money would be nice,” she says and did not mean to sound sarcastic. Yet reminded about the deadbeats in this town, customers who never settled their bills nor collected their articles of clothing, Tiffany says seriously, “I like cash.”

Handsome as he is, and as comical as his scarf was, she had no place for his unconventional garment. She, herself, had no desire to mend something she would never use. However, she did not want to act cold. There was enough frigid air outside.

“My name is Tiffany. Mister?”

“No, no,” he interrupts her in urgency. “Doctor.”

“Doctor?” she ponders and feels infused with hope. Her heart skips twice in a row.

“Thank you,” he finishes telling her.

“So, how are you here?” she thinks again. Tiffany has no idea how her thoughts are confused by the time they come out of her mouth, but the woman is certain ‘how’ is what she meant to say.

“A blue box,” he spoke capaciously. Tiffany thinks she deserves sarcasm from the cute stranger.

While she can’t help but try imaginng what his playful insult might mean, the Doctor mumbles with curious uncertainty.

“I’m currently traveling alone,” Tiffany understands she heard him say.

“Single,” she swears he said.

“Seating available.”

“I’m an older woman,” she responds to his flirts.

“Nonsense,” he says. “You’re not as old as me.”

They appeared about the same age. Tiffany spent half her life worried passing years made girls look older than they actually were, but she did look her natural age and remarkably preserved. Tiffany was a pretty woman. She has been and always will be and she will never admit the truth. And if she knew in secret, the woman would never be arrogant and say.

“There’s nothing wrong with being old,” the Doctor says when he begins a beguiling rant. “I’m seven hundred and thirty three. Not quite over the hill yet.”

“Seven hundred and thirty three?”

“Yes, that’s how you people tell time, isn’t it?”

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about?” Tiffany admits forthright.

“Oh, you will. You will,” he says. “That’s a problem with the human brain. It’s like an analog computer and you have to wait until that one neuron lights up the place.”

“Are you like a neurosurgeon?” Tiffany asks as if she touches upon a prize she knew she recognized hidden in hat.

“I don’t practice,” he answers. “But how hard can it be?”

“Heh,” Tiffany responds to his toothy grin. She is not one tenth enthusiastic about his reply as the man still acts.

“You’re a character,” she flirts back at him and winks.

“You think?” the Doctor asks her and smiles widemouthed.

Shaking away her thrall of the man, Tiffany insists they address their business, “I charge by the hour… and each section will take one or more…”

“Time is the issue?” the Doctor asks the woman.

She stumbles with her answer. “Huh? Well, yes.”

“What if the job took no time at all?”

The woman giggles. “I didn’t quote you a base charge for labor, so I guess nothing at all. But I don’t think that’s fair or even possible.”

“You don’t think so? What is fair?”

“A thank you and a dinner would be nice… if anything is possible.”

Tiffany suddenly feels brave to specify, “Somewhere nice would be nicer.”

The man blusters with more courage than the older seamstress could ever muster. “Somewhere nice?” he shouts.

“Yes,” Tiffany replies meek again. She nods her head so her preference is made clear.

“I’ve got something to show you,” the Doctor says then opens the front door. Near the exit, a cold wind nearly solidifies his next words. “Come with me.” And he steps outside.

Leery and simultaneously curious, the seamstress takes a pale overcoat from a stand next the open doorway. “I’m not going far,” she warns him. “Not unless I know where we’re going and something about you.”

The seamstress is about to say more then pauses when she spots a blue shed in her front yard. Light shines from behind the frosted windows on the two sides of the structure there at her angle of vision. More illumination dimly glows from a cooling bulb on top.

“What is that?” Tiffany asks alarmed the object trespasses between shoveled mounds of snow on her property.

The Doctor coaxes her toward the wooden box. “Come here.”

She goes automatically and walks on her toes speared through the frozen precipitation upon the cold ground.

“Come inside,” he says.

“In there?” scoffs the woman. She almost says ‘no’ but once the box is opened, her birdsong sounds like, “Nah-ooo-ahhh.”

“I’ve been told that,” the Doctor says. “Just never so beautifully.”

“It’s bigger on the inside,” Tiffany stutters when she joins her client inside the marvelous contraption and surrounded by translucent roundels.

“They always say that.”

Tiffany is suddenly awake and concerned. “Who, other girls?”

“There have been a few,” he admits. The same time, he offers the seamstress a confectionery. “Have a Jelly Baby. They are quite sweet, like you, Tiffany. Thank you for repairing my scarf.”

The seamstress objects. “Hold on…”

“Oh, we can go anywhere,” the Doctor promises her. “Any time. Tell me where you want to go. All things are possible.”

“I didn’t say I would do it yet,” she finally replies. Latched upon the Doctor’s explanation, she stops and asks him, “Hold on, does this thing fly? Is it real?”

“It also travels through time.”

And the comment, ‘it travels through time,’ is all Tiffany first remembers when she wakes in her bed in her house the following morning. Something doesn’t feel right. Everything below her waist does not like yesterday. She visually verifies she is all right and she isn’t in pain, but her skin does tingle and she feels overly warm. Then she sprouts goosebumps when she thinks about the man who visited her last evening.

The woman panics and call the police while she still sits on her bed. “I think I’ve been raped,” she reports summarily to the authorities.

A female receptionist asks her, “Ma’am, can you come to the station and speak to a detective?”

“Can I talk to a detective now? I don’t know,” Tiffany admits confused. Tiny fractions of last night begin crystallizing in her brain.

“One moment,” the receptionist tells Tiffany after first soliciting the woman one more time to come downtown on her own volition.

A male detective then answers the waiting call. “Hello, Officer Panchecker. How can I help you?”

“I think I remember he tied me up,” Tiffany stammers as she works her mind hard to recall of what she has the impression was sheer chaos.

“Immobilized,” she clearly remembers she heard him say. She mentions that to Officer Panchecker, but Tiffany neglects to share she now recalls the Doctor told her, “It will be more enjoyable if you don’t move, but it is difficult for a beginner.”

“Do you know who this guy was?” the detective asks Tiffany.

“He said he was the Doctor,” she answers.

“Did he give his a last name?”


Then she remembers the Doctor said, “I’ll give you a little help.” Memory of the statement excites her; it makes her feel a little randy.

She begins wondering too late if whatever she did with the odd stranger last night was consensual. After saying, “He said he was going to use his scarf but he didn’t.”

Tiffany remembers he said, “The whole concept is overused, besides, it’s torn.” Her memory is just like the man was standing next to her and now said the same.

“Janis thorn,” she unconsciously utters. She does her best to imitate the Doctor’s voice.

The detective wonders, “What?”

“Nothing,” she tells the police. “I’ve made a mistake. I think it’s something I did.”

“Ma’am, were drugs involved,” the officer asks. “Are you now under the influence?”

“Sorry,” she begs Panchecker. “I’m remembering… no, no drugs. I’m sorry for wasting your time.”

Ending the call, Tiffany allows recent events to clarify themselves in her mind. Last night becomes vivid. The seamstress asked the Doctor, “What on Earth is a Janis thorn?”

“Not on Earth, Tiffany,” he replied elusively.

Revery then seemed to capture his attention. “They were left here, left behind by someone I knew.”

“What happened to her?” Tiffany knows she asked. And she is still jealous.

“Oh Leela, we recently traveled together for awhile” confesses the Doctor. “She became stationary. Stuck to some poor, static bloke on Gallifrey.”


“My home planet.”

“You’re not from Earth,” Tiffany stated.

The Doctor told her, “I think that should be obvious.”

She objected. “But we look alike.”

“Let me tell you something about the facts concerning panspermia. It’s all very exciting.”

Then is when those two began undressing themselves. The Doctor told his robotic dog, “K-9, record this.”

“Is he going to watch?” Tiffany asked about the talking machine.

“Why not?” The Doctor suggested without wearing his coat. A swath of his swollen bare chest plainly shows from beneath the wide collar of his loose frill shirt. The ragged scarf remained draped around him.

“We share everything, don’t we, K-9?” the Doctor teased his electric dog.

“Yes, master,” replied the novel, self-propelled computer.

“Good, boy,” the Doctor smooched

“Yes, master.”

“Say that to me,” the Doctor impulsively instructed Tiffany.

She tried saying so aloud. “Master?”

“No, don’t,” he directly countermands. “That doesn’t sound right. Try the other one.”

“Doctor?” she asked him before he seizes her in bandy, swashbuckler arms.

“Oh, thank you, Tiffany.”

They dropped themselves into a four poster bed the pair found in another impossible room. The dog had come along then Tiffany and the Doctor made love. He brought out toys and he suggested adventures. The seamstress consented to every one.

Then came the Janis thorn. “Deadly poison,” the Doctor explained. “But if one knows how to use it right, to introduce a miniscule, non-lethal dose in order to produce partial paralysis… well, ecstasy.”

Tiffany temporarily lost sensation in her legs, but then she and her incomprehensible lover copulated like humans in their most primitive state. She thought about television then and what her experience resembled. The seamstress could only imagine the alien Spock from Star Trek, suffering Pon farr. She felt like him, that character from the sex-deprived planet Vulcan. Passion drove her mad.

The two spent an inestimable time away from civilization – in which they slept, had sex and Tiffany knitted. She stitched his long scarf together. And, oh, the places the Doctor described and all he had shown her, but Tiffany never got dinner and that was okay. The Doctor, said to her when they were finished and happy, “Next Wednesday then? Let’s say we do this every week or so, if you knew me, but you will.”

Tiffany agreed. Afterward and back at home again, she had not lost a moment in time. Maybe a minute had passed on the clocks in her house last evening before the Doctor flew away. This morning and after recovering her memories, she thinks about life in one place. She contemplates ending the long separation from her dull and unchanging husband and finishing their divorce.

– Matthew Sawyer

(Available soon from Smashwords)


About R’lyeh: Those Things I Will Tell Your Child

December 31, 2014

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About R’lyeh: Those Things I Will Tell Your Child

Matthew Sawyer

I was telling my second-generation niece, Rilynn there in pink pajamas, that her name sounds like R’lyeh. She is only five. “No,” she tells me back. The child lives with her parents in the country not very far from where I was born.

Rilynn explains to me, “They don’t rhyme.”

I tell her something incomprehensible; something even a smart little girl her age would not yet understand. I say, “The consonants don’t have to rhyme. The words just have to sound the same.”

“Nuh-ahh,” she replies and in that moment, I conclude she must know what I am talking about, or she has a solid idea.

“I’ll tell you a rhyme about the sunken city of R’lyeh.”

“What?” Rilynn peeps and jumps up from the Living Room floor. The little blond thing pops onto her bare feet like she does forty times forty times a day, She joins me opposite a laminated coffee table small enough that the girl might rest her elbows on stacked magazines atop the surface. She does not relax and instead regularly shifts her inconsequential weight between her feet.

Late on my cue, I recite, “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.”

Rilynn’s mother yells at me. “Matt!”

And Rilynn admits, “That rhymes.”

“It’s a poem,” I beg the mother. The woman’s name is Brenda – for the purpose of my narrative. I admit I have de-purposed the names of other relatives for the sake of that same said narrative. So, there is my first confession.

I cite for Brenda, “HP Lovecraft wrote that in his short story Call of Cthulhu.”

“One of those old stories?” she wonders knowingly.

“A great old one,” I say. “It’s like a hundred years old.”

Rilynn interrupts us when she demands from both the only adults in the room, “I want to hear the story.”

Her father is at work, delivering packages, and the girl is an Only-child. Her mother, Brenda again, hovers on the threshold between this room and another. The grown woman frowns at me. She issues a warning. “I have heard about you.”

“Probably from my sister-in-law,” is my answer. “She is a religious nut.”

Brenda admits, “Holly does now wear the Shield of David and a Cross around her neck.”

While I nod she explains, “But she lives there in Wister Town with your brothers and sisters… and your mother… and you can go back to your home in California. Don’t cause trouble.”

“I am an old man.”

Brenda denies my factual report.  “You look twenty-five.”

My automatic response lists, “Exercise, eat right…”

“You look younger than me.”

“It’s what you read,” I then support.

Rilynn stomps her naked soles and whines. “I want to hear a story!”

“Okay,” her mother condones. “Your Uncle Matt can tell you one.”

“About R’lyeh?” I inquire from Brenda while simultaneously her daughter claps.

Brenda states, “Nothing about death or monsters or anything gross.”

I stammer, “Well…”

The woman stops me. “There was an earthquake the last time you were there in Wister Town – an earthquake in south-central Wisconsin. And you said a house walked away – monsters came out of the hole it made.”

“It was a story…”

“It makes no difference, bad things happen when you tell bad stories.”

“Bad?” I do wonder aloud. Despite what critics will say, I withhold judgment on myself for that judgment would end me and my very life. And hypocritical with my skepticism, I tell Brenda, “There is no difference between religion and being superstitious.”

“The earthquake started fires that burned down half of Wister Town!”

“I never talked about that,” I counter.

“Small blessing,” Brenda supposes above her breath.

“I’ll tell you what,” I proposition, “I’ll clean it up. And I’ll try not to be creepy or scary.”

“All right.”

Grinning at Rilynn I paraphrase, “Sunk somewhere in the South Pacific ocean, a corpse-city called R’lyeh…”

“Matt,” screeches her mother.

“It’s in the story, I didn’t write it,” I present for my defense.

“It’s the same difference.” Brenda states once more, “No dead things or death.”

“Okay, that was only an adjective. It was about a city but no more. That’s the last one and I can tell Rilynn about R’lyeh.”

“Yes,” the small girl screams and she claps her hands together again and harder.

I grumble loud enough for Brenda to overhear. “It won’t be exciting.”

“Just make it fun,” she answers me. “Keep her attention for an hour or so.”

Observing Rilynn squirm while she stands on her feet, I tell the girl’s mother, “I’ll last for a couple minutes.”

Brenda nods and vanishes beyond the doorway. Rilynn leans completely over the table, lifting her legs off the floor, and she whispers nearer my ear. “Are you gonna talk about dead things?”

“No,” I chuckle. “I’m going to tell you who lives in R’lyeh – the city beneath the ocean. Cthulhu cannot die.”

“Catsup!” Rilynn announces and leaves me disorientated. I swim with my thoughts atop the ruins of an undersea R’lyeh. Yet the city itself is not ruined and appears as it had newly built eons ago. Erected in my imagination, the immense construction merely threatens to topple.

Finally able to comprehend my niece, I try correcting the young child. “Cthulhu. Ka-thoo-loo.”

“Ka-choo,” answers Rilynn. “Ka-choo-choo.”

“Ka,” I started to say again then decided my effort was futile. I play with the girl. “Ka-choo,” I repeat with an exaggerated exhalation. I wipe an imaginary expulsion from beneath my nose.

Rilynn laughs and she repeats the word until I believe she makes herself truly sneeze. She refuses to acknowledge the genuine rivulet that has run down and clung on her upper lip. “Does he come out?” my niece asks me. “Is R’lyeh like his house?”

The strange question makes me wonder if the girls has already heard the story. “Is R’lyeh like his house? As a matter of fact, it is. Ka-choo-choo is big, he’s huge.”

“Say it right,” Rilynn requests. “I can’t say it, but you can say his name right.”



“He can only come out when the stars are right,” I educate the impressionable mind. “The thing is, the stars will never be right.”

“Why,” Rilynn pouts. She looks sad for real.

“Well,” I say making preparations, “There is a difference between where the stars were when he came to our planet and where they are now.”


“Because space is expanding.”


The distress on Rilynn’s face reflects the frustration I experience as I try to explain impossible concepts to a five-year old brain. “Cthulhu was originally an extra-dimensional being. He was an Outer God until he was trapped on Earth and he became a Great Old One. They don’t really understand how our three dimensions work.”


“Because, where they come from, they can be anywhere at once, be everywhere. Their space doesn’t move.”

“Matt,” Brenda declares. “You’re confusing her. I’m confused.”

“I’m confused trying to explain it.”

“Make it simple,” the mother begs me. “Or else I will get questions I can’t answer.”

“Okay,” I consent. “Cthulhu can’t come out. Besides there are Elder signs everywhere.”

“Older signs?” Rilynn questions.

“Close: Elder signs, like the elderly. They grow in nature, you can see them in the tree branches, the veins in leaves and even the veins under your skin. HP Lovecraft drew a picture of it.”

“Can I see it?”

I hesitate. “It might be hard to find. Let me draw a picture for you. Do you have paper and something to draw with?”

Rilynn runs away laughing. The girl returns in an instance with a single clean sheet of typing paper and a handful of red and blue crayons. A green wax stick had fallen from her grasp whilst she had come but Rilynn never paused and retrieve it. She presents to me my requested tools.

“Draw Ka-too-loo,” she insists.



The request frightens me without explanation, so I stall. “I thought you wanted to see the Elder Sign.”



“Yeah, but draw Him first.”

“Oh,” I stutter. “You should never summon Cthulhu without an Elder Sign. What happens if he demands a sacrifice?”

“Matt?” Brenda inquires of me.

The woman startles me as if I have been caught speaking the unspeakable. I scuttle my argument against a juvenile and I decide what comes next. “Let me show you the Elder Sign. Then I will draw Cthulhu.”

Before Rilynn objects, I sketch together six broad hashes, making the red image of a branch. Three twigs project from its top, two from below. Rightward on the picture, two opposite twigs reflect each other as would a mirror. The second bottom twig appears sprout from the branch in the space between the two remaining leftward twigs on top.

“Humph,”Brenda says looking over my stooped and sketching upper half. She tells me, “It looks like something you would find in nature.”

“Who put it there?” Rilynn asks.

Dissuaded against trying to explain the Outer Gods again, I reply to the girl and her mother, “We’ll make your one aunt happy and say God put it there. And he looks just like Santa Claus.”

Unafraid now that I have constructed a ward for my protection, I intercept any awkward confusion and I say, “Here is what Cthulhu looks like.”

I have been to Art School and I have always been naturally drawn to doodling, so much I am more talented with a blunt pencil than any other drawing implement. Knowing so, my sketch immediately takes form. The representation of Cthulhu is a simple image of an octopus – one octopus with eight radial tentacles in place of the head of a primate. Although I do not provide any scale, this abomination is larger than King Kong.

I say primate because I have often seen paintings of the Great Old One in which He has a spine and four limbs besides a pair of colossal membranous wings. Those four jointed appendages always terminate with five clawed digits, these usually webbed. Rilynn reacts to my visual interpretation.


“Matt?” Brenda cautions me. “I don’t want her awake tonight.”

“It’s okay, the Elder sign…”

“Stupid,” Rilynn states in verdict. Her mother shakes her head.

“It’s okay,” I presage again. “There is another Elder Sign. August Derleth made it – he was a cheese-eater, just like us. He was from Wisconsin – Sauk City.” Having revealed an alternative, I start drawing a second archaic symbol on the same one sheet of typing paper.

“You know,  August Derleth was the first guy who published HP Lovecraft. He wrote stories, too. He also wrote about a lot more than horror.”

“There,” I tell Rilynn and her mother. The second Elder Sign comes presented to them as a blue, five-pointed star. A red eye engulfed in red flames flickers at its center. “The star is actually supposed to be green, but Rilynn dropped that color on the floor.”

“Get it later, sweetie,” Brenda absently tells the girl.

I boast in tangent. “Now that would scare Klingons.”

“What are Klingings?” Rilynn asks me.

My outrage is a showy mockery. “Brenda, your daughter is eight years old and still no Star Trek?”

“She’s five.”

“But still…”

The mother ends the silence that follows my lacking an excuse. Brenda asks me a serious question. “How did you learn about this?”

“I don’t know,” I answer honestly at first. “Read?”

“You should write about it when you go home. Did you and why not?”

“It wasn’t in my stars,” I tell her in accordance to the mythos we discuss. Brenda does not understand. She probably won’t until I do write down something. I let the woman know, “There are tons of other authors who could tell you the stories. I’ve got something parallel, but it’s about what happens in Wister Town.”

“I know,” Brenda moans. Before the woman runs out of that same breath, she tells her daughter, “Put on warm clothes, we’re going to that toenail of a town… like Uncle Matt calls it. Let’s visit your great grandma.”

Once Rilynn is busy upstairs getting dressed, and Brenda and I are alone, I make a cordial appeal to the woman. “Brenda, my nephew would never allow it, your husband would forbid that you ever speak to me…”

The woman steps back from me but she does not flee. Snared by curiosity strengthened by her agnosticism – her disbelief in a Creator that she confessed against long before – Brenda listens to my corrupt words.

“You are right, I will be young until I die. I will die young at the age of one hundred and twenty-five. Rilynn can remain young, too, but she must know. The earlier, the better.”

“My daughter is not going to visit you in California,” she tells me. Knowing who I am and being closer to my family than I physically am or ever was, my in-law, Brenda, has heard all my other relatives have rejected my similar notions.

“What is in California?” she nibbles still. I expected she would ask before I had come two thousand miles to visit her family.

“The sun,” I say generically. “That’s where it stays, and its home was made for the Divine.  There is power in California – power for those who know how to tap it. There is more power there than in that hole in Wister Town.”

“The Jews sense it, and the Mormons. That’s why they are there. There are big cults and Moonies and Scientologists and Jehovah Witnesses – you name it. They crawl down from the palm trees. They all feel the secret power so few people can actually ever know.”

The woman I speak with gnaws her bottom lip. When she soon starts shaking her head, I promise, “Rilynn will know more than me. She will see the future. Maybe she will see R’lyeh.”

When my words cease to make impact, I escalate the strength available to the female child. “She will foresee every consequence of every action she takes. And she will know there is only one course through life. The sun is the root of all religion. Praise Hastur.”

Once I am shut out of the house, I warn Brenda, “Hastur has corrupted in the American Midwest – the power of the sun does not manifest in cows. All of that is Egyptian perversion. The providence here is made base and unhealthy! Defiled and there is no protection. There is no God. We still live blind in the Age of Babylon.”

– END –

Impressed by my writing? I hope so. Read more from me, as Matthew Sawyer or Mr. Binger, at Smashwords.


Once Gramps Had Come – A Christmas Story

November 25, 2014

An essential piece of Christmas has been missing forever, almost as if it has hidden itself. In the story Once Gramps Had Come by Matthew Sawyer, that hidden piece comes out to perhaps breathe clean air, eat or maybe stretch its legs. Whatever is done, this short tale starts in a Nursing Home. A homely man who calls himself “Gramps” offers immortality and the holidays are coming up.

Once Gramps Had Come by Matthew Sawyer

Once Gramps Had Come
Matthew Sawyer

Thursday, November 21, an ugly, old man comes to the Nursing Home. He is not the slightest seemly; not handsome like the weathering of a familiar leather jacket, nor noble like the bark of a gnarled oak. The man is ugly. Frightening, yet he looks a lot like that knotted tree and ragged hide coat. Presumably present for the terminal long-duration care and rehabilitation available here at Nueva Buena Vista, the terrible creature introduces himself to other residents. He calls himself, “Gramps.”

Mr. Breckell, who regularly assesses his own hearing, believes he has misheard the name. He shouts from his seat of padded linoleum. “What did you call yourself? Cramps?”

Mr. Breckell assumes and also asks, “Is that what’s wrong with you?”

The ugly old man lumbers near the only fellow whose spoken to him. This Gramps or cramps sits down on the stiff, yellow cushion next to Mr. Breckell. The new old man creaks and his joints crack when he bends his legs then he adjusts his seat. The racket is disquieting to everyone in the day-room. Mr. Breckell tells the creepy, wooden man next to him, “You sound like you’re going to break.”

“I do fear it,” Gramps answers.

Before he forgets, Mr. Breckell asks him again, “What did you call yourself?”

“Cramps,” Mr. Breckell swears he’s heard again.

He suggests to the badly weatherworn stranger, “Cramps, I would change that nickname. You could then go talk to someone else.”

“I think you are mispronouncing it,” Gramps tells him.

“Me? How about you?”

Gramps, or still possibly cramps, immediately interrupts the fresh argument. “Are you afraid of dying, Mister…”

“Breckell,” Mr. Breckell automatically replies.

“Sure,” he then insists. “Yeah-”

“I can help you live forever.”

Mr. Breckell finishes his thought. “But I get less fidgety the older I get.”

He then pauses, gazes into impossibly seeing and dense cataracts then tells cramps, “I don’t think you can help yourself. By the look of you…”

Mr. Breckell shakes his balding head.

“I know the worst of it,” Gramps promises his indignant comrade. “You can help me.”

The idea makes Mr. Breckell chuckle. “I will see what I can do.”

With yet no response, he asks the ugly stranger directly, “Who are you?”

“Everyone has forgotten me.”

Mr. Breckell tells him, “Welcome to Anonymous-Anonymous. The ladies across the room cry about the fact at weekly meetings.”

Gramps adds, “And any who do remember me, and if they still believe, they think I have gotten lazy over centuries.”

Mr. Breckell assures him. “That’s just how it feels.”

Pink light glows behind the opaque eyes of the stranger. “I’m telling you, Mr. Breckell, there is another way. You can live forever.”

Mr. Breckell laughs and the sound grows. He stops his guffaw when Gramps admits, “But there is a horrible exaction. There are crimes you must commit.”

“Go figure,” Mr. Breckell says entertained and newly curious. A meager rush of adrenaline reminds him of the shadow of being a young man and alive. Enthused that little bit, he grins and banters. “What evil things must I do. How many children do I need to eat?”

“The children are never eaten,” Gramps declares.

Mr. Breckell tells him, “Then that explains why you’re so scrawny. Tell me, mister, who are you?”

“I told you.”

“Oh, no you don’t. I am not about to wake up tomorrow and remember my name is Al Z’heimers. Who are you?”

The ugly stranger next to Mr. Breckell tells him, “The Krampus. The, the Krampus.”

“Huh?” Mr. Breckell grunts without purpose. His recollection is vague. He goes on and says, “Remind me who that is. Are we talking about Christmas? The elves and the magical Saint Nick, right? Not the Jesus and Christian Santa Claus, correct?”

“And not the American who drinks Coca Cola,” specifies the Krampus.

The name, or its shaded memory, fits the horrid personification here in the ugly stranger. The monster tells Mr. Breckell, “I am his nemesis, his companion and cohort. The folklore all across the world will tell you the same.”

The Krampus rants. “But I refuse to do his work. I won’t do it and I only want to pass away – and join our brothers. Somebody else can be remembered to be the Krampus. And he or she can be that until the end of time.”

“End of time, you say?” Mr. Breckell repeats. “That’s the part that includes living forever you were talking about?”

“If you do those things you must do.”

“And what does that mean? What do I got to do?”

The Krampus scowls when he says, “Make toys.”

Jokingly, Mr. Breckell answers, “Well, how do we get this operation done? I can live forever and do that.”

“Hell, what are all the toys for?”

The Krampus reveals in earnest, “They are the years of your life. Each toy is a day, you live one day for every toy you make. And you must keep them secret.”

Carried by high spirits, Mr. Breckell continues to play with the ugly man. “That can’t be bad. I suppose I can make seven toys in a day, or make fourteen or even seventy.”

“Saint Nicholas takes them away,” replies the Krampus. “And you will die if you do not have even one made and hidden away. Then, at least, you will live that single day. You can use that time and make a new toy that you can stash away.”

Having never truly stopped, Mr. Breckell laughs aloud once again. “Are you telling me Santa Claus steals your toys.”

The Krampus alludes, “A thief by any name… what would he do if he was ever successful and he murdered me?”

“You are telling me, you can die if Santa takes away all your toys.”

“You will die, Mr. Breckell,” declares the Krampus. “When you become me.”

“Hold on,” Mr. Breckell says and stunts the conversation. “You told me you wanted to retire. What did you say? Pass away. You can do that if you let Santa have all your toys.”

“There is something else you must do,” states the Krampus solemn and cold. “Someone must take your place. Someone else must always be the Krampus or we will never be at peace.”

Unswayed by any prospect this whole week has presented him, Mr. Breckell remains engaged in his lively discussion. “I don’t know about your offer, mister. I heard that Saint Nick character was one tough hombre. You know, burglary is his thing – creeping down chimneys and eating cookies and all.”

An idea occurs to Mr. Breckell. “Hey, I have never seen the jolly old man. I know for a fact my parents put all my presents under the tree. I never heard from you, either. Or were you part of all those pagan parties before the twentieth century? Before my time?”

“I was hidden,” answers the Krampus. “Me and my toys and my workshop have been hidden all your life and longer. Saint Nicholas had no toys to give to good girls and boys.”

Mr. Breckell rambles, “So Santa Claus canceled giving away presents because he couldn’t rip you off…”

“What about his little helpers? Where are his elves?”

The Krampus shakes his head, gasps then sighs. “I am so tired and I cannot bear the things I do. I can no longer bear my guilt.”

Mr. Breckell wonders aloud, “Why? What have you done? You make toys.”

“Listen,” musters the Krampus. He leers into Mr. Breckell’s face. “You can’t just take them – I never did. I gave them warnings. They get two?”

“What are they and who are them?” Mr. Breckell asks. He is not one bit interested in hearing any admonitions.

The Krampus tells him, “The first warning I give is a lump of coal. I put it in their stockings.”

“Are you talking about kids?” indicts Mr. Breckell. “I was just kidding when I mentioned earlier that I was hungry. Certainly no veal.”

The Krampus ignores the man’s comments and he continues speaking. “The second is a bundle of twigs bound together with reed. After that second year, I just come and take them.”

“Where – where to?”

“The North Pole. I hide my workshop there in a cave washed out by ocean waves.”

Certain who they are talking about, Mr. Breckell shouts, “Why?” Not one deaf head in the day-room turns.

The Krampus confesses, “Children can make your toys for you. That’s allowed if you keep them under your control.”


“I use a potion brewed from an extract of mistletoe. I mix it into their porridge of ice and snow.”

Mr. Breckell mumbles at a volume hardly overheard. “You brainwash children with poison.”

He then judges aloud the beast by his side. “Inhumane.”

“No, no, the potion makes them happy.”

The Krampus’ speech sounds scrambled.

“Don’t you see? Saint Nicholas has no workshop in the Arctic Circle. He doesn’t have any elves. All of that belongs to me. He takes away my toys and the children who are glad they help the Krampus stay alive.”

“What does Santa do with the kids?”

“I suppose he takes them home. I don’t know, I don’t know… I don’t care.”

Mr. Breckell says proud, “It’s good to know he is still a good man.”

“Is he?” cries the Krampus. “Is he, Mr. Breckell? The Sinter Klass hunts us, sir. He will not let our souls rest and he only wants to keep us desperate. We are forced to desperately make toys to stay alive.”

“Hold on,” Mr. Breckell states and mimes as if he physically pulls in an equine’s reins. “Who are you talking about when you mention ‘we’? Certainly not you and me.”

“There is only now you,” replies the Krampus.

“What do mean?”

The gnarled creature tells the man, “Mr. Breckell, you agreed to take my place.”

“No,” Mr. Breckell objects. He has stopped laughing. “How did that happen?”

“Because you spoke to me.”


The nursing home vanishes from all around Mr. Breckell. The Krampus goes, too. Rather, old Mr. Breckell has himself gone. The elderly man discovers he is alone atop snow and an iceberg larger than his poor eyesight might measure. He shivers only a little because the air and ground are both cold. Mr. Breckell does not already know it, him standing outside fully dressed overlain with his nursing home bathrobe, but for some inexplicable reason the man is lucky he is not shaking more. Foremost in his audible mind is, “I have been teleported to the North Pole.”

“The dirty scoundrel,” grumbles Mr. Breckell. “What am I going to do now?”

He recognizes a scraggy voice whispering from out of his own ears. The voice of the original Krampus tells him, “Watch out for Saint Nick. Your brothers are watching you.”

“Hey, get back here,” Mr. Breckell shouts. “Send me back! I didn’t agree to anything.”

As the voice falls further away, Mr. Breckell hears it say, “The souls of your brothers depend on you to keep our peace. Hide. Hide and make toys.”

“Wait a minute,” Mr. Breckell begs the voice before it is gone. After no answer except a frigid gust of wind, one that chills his limbs, he appeals to the overcast sky. “Where am I suppose to go?”

“He said he made a cave,” Mr. Breckell tells himself. As if he knows the direction, he marches toward the ocean side.

Along his solitary journey, he first asks himself, “Who are the brothers?” Further along, Mr. Breckell answers the question.

“I bet it’s you,” he says to himself, meaning the voice he recognized was the Krampus he met tonight in the day room at Nueva Buena Vista.

He chides the Krampus he knew while tramping downhill into deepening snow. “Some wretched fiend looked at you and found a fool to pass a curse onto.”

“That’s what this is, isn’t it?”

The question is rhetorical. The hypothetical answer is, too. “Some eternal life this is, I tell you.”

A gunshot makes his insane reality legitimate. A bullet immediately blows snow and steam from a hole made into a snow drift concealing most of his thin and aged body. Hidden so, he has avoided injury.

“I got you,” declares a hoarse old man with yet a jolly shout. “I found you. Where are your toys?”

Mr. Breckell says without hunting the horizon for the shooter, “Santa Claus, is that you?”

A skinny man wearing a long gray beard and longer, hairy, green coat shouts back. “I’m Ole Nick, to you. Ho.”

Ole Nick pauses and asks the rookie Krampus, “You’re a new Krampus aren’t you? ‘Course, I haven’t seen you for over a hundred years. And I’ve been looking. I promise you that. I guess I’m just lucky everybody hasn’t forgotten about me.”

The stretched elf laughs aloud. “Ho, ho, ho,” then he fires a shot into the air. An AK-47 then swings over his head once more and unleashes a burst that drowns speech.

Dropping the weapon, Ole Nick tells the new Krampus, “I said, Christmas is coming this year. Show me where you’ve hidden all your toys.”

“I don’t know,” pleads Mr. Breckell. Challenging the safety of his snowdrift, he raises his head and looks over his shoulder. Saint Nicholas comes up behind him, following his target’s fathom-deep foot prints.

“I am feeling charitable all of a sudden,” promises Santa Claus, “I’ll give your a break because you’re so brand new. Look at you – your wrinkles haven’t yet turned into bark. Give me all your toys and I’ll let you live this year – well, at least until Spring.”

“You’re going to kill me?” asks the unbelieving remnant of Mr. Breckell.

Ole Nick grows serious. “You, your kind and your undead hive mind are an abomination.” He spits. “Ptah, you all-in-one and everlasting…”

“The Krampus is a dreg of Creation, the root of jealous anxiety. You don’t feel it yet, but you will quick enough. I exist to clean you up.”

The human that yet survives claims, “This is crazy. Please, let me go. Take all my toys. Please, just allow me to make more.”

“Your type of immortality is a mad idea,” judges Santa Claus. “Well, I’m the balance. You must die – after Christmas this year is sorted out”

The Krampus stammers. “Just take my toys, leave me in peace.”

“I will rescue the kids, too,” Ole Saint Nick pledges.

“What kids?”

“The ones you hypnotize and they make all your toys.”

The Mr. Breckell inside the Krampus tells Santa, “Take them. I’ll make my own toys.”

Ole Nick chuckles. “And just like all your brothers, you will be disappointed to find you can’t keep up.”

Mr. Breckell asks even though he sort of knows, “Who are my brothers?”

He is ignored. Instead, Ole Nick waves a rifle into his face and commands him, “Show me your toys.”

“Yes, yes,” replies the Krampus. He then takes Saint Nicholas to his lair.

The entrance to the ice cave is near. Truly, the two eternal spirits have almost always shuffled through snow over the length of saltwater carved caverns. Having arrived at the cave mouth, the Krampus points toward the dark hole. Uncertain of the intention of the man with the gun, he invites Saint Nicholas inside using only a nod and an arm gesture.

“There is candlelight inside,” promises the Krampus and Mr. Breckell knew.

“You go first,” Santa responds. “I’m right behind you and I’ve got an automatic weapon pointed at the center of your back.”

Before either spirit steps further toward the underground, gaunt and pale children fizz out of the hole as if they were bubbles jumped from a boiling cauldron. All of them smile. They shout in song, “The Krampus!” Apparently impervious to the freezing cold, the skinny kids banter with each other in the snow wearing only pajamas and slippers.

“He doesn’t look like the Krampus,” one boy observes.

A smaller girl tells him, “He smells like the Krampus.”

And the boy replies, “He doesn’t look like him.”

“He will look like one in a hundred years,” another child answers.

Boggled, Saint Nick wonders rhetorically, “What poison?”

Ashamed because of this evidence left by a guilty brother who had come before him, the one who had been Mr. Breckell claims, “I’m sorry – it wasn’t me.”

“You will commit this same crime one day soon. You always do,” Santa retorts. “I’ll be back and shoot you. You can join your brothers… and there will always be another one like you. There has always been.”

Although the children are reluctant, Saint Nicholas gathers them together and puts all the boys and girls the Krampus has kidnapped behind him. He tells the Krampus, “You can make as many toys as you want until then… enough for next Christmas, I expect.”

“You want the toys for Christmas?” reiterates the desperate Krampus. “But they are the days of my life… I’m sure we can work something out.”

The inconceivable notion brings another, “Ho, ho, ho,” from Ole Nick.

“Give me your toys,” Santa Claus orders the Krampus with no condition or exception.

“Please,” the Krampus begs Ole Nick while the children go directed back into the cave to haul out all the unwrapped Christmas presents.

Santa salutes the Krampus, “I loathe your kind – that is just the nature of Creation. Because of you, it has been a hundred years since the world has truly seen what Christmas was meant to be.”

The Krampus presents a feeble defense before the dangerous elf goes away. He says, “Is Christmas all about gifts? Toys that are better made to save the life of a man?”

“You are not a man,” answers Ole Nick.

Near sundown, after a day that seemed to last months, Saint Nicholas tells the Krampus, “I’ll be back before sundown to clear out the rest of your lair. Merry Christmas – you better be gone by then.”

Confused and having nothing sensible to say, the Krampus who had once been Mr. Breckell watches Ole Nick go. The tall, green elf presses the rear of his caravan of gift-bearing slave children. Establishing distance between them and their slaver, Santa Claus calls back to the Krampus from across tundra. “You’re going to die… I’ll kill you myself.”

You can’t hide forever. – you will come out and find another…”

“Even before that, you’ll start collecting slaves…”

“Then I will find you again.”

“You better get those toys made!”


After the once been Mr. Breckell finds the recipe for mistletoe poison, and he’s discovered a new lair for his toy workshop, the following news is broadcasted on Christmas day. While half of the United States still awaits dawn, WSIN television newswoman Sue Niam reports in an urgent voice,

“How do I describe it? These worldwide incidents of the opposite of breaking-and-entering are simply pandemic. Homes all over the globe – the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and even Israel – everywhere – have seemingly been forcibly entered by persons who resemble the sixteenth century Father Christmas.”

“Father Christmas is the Jenny Craig Santa Claus who wears green instead of red. Viewers are probably most familiar with him as the Ghost of Christmas Present in the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol.”

Ms. Niam pauses on-air live and she asks an off-camera someone, “Is this a hoax?”

The preened television personality then continues describing, “Images and videos captured all over the world portray a single identical intruder in all these incidents – intruder is not the word for him – because he leaves wrapped presents then disappears”

Her cameraman is told, “Charlie, this is one man. How can one man appear at once in millions of homes?”

The response from the cameraman is loud enough to register on the recording. “I hate wrapping presents.”

“Hold on,” Ms. Niam tells Charlie and her viewing audience. “Reports are coming in saying the intruder carries an automatic military firearm. Our Santa Claus is shooting pets.”

After a moment spent quietly listening to her earphone, Sue Niam tells her audience, “Gunfire has been exchanged… witnesses have reported skirmishes between the intruder and armed homeowners”

Interrupting herself, she states, “We have a caller from Arizona.”

“Hello, Mister Rood? You said you exchanged gunfire with the man dressed as Father Christmas.”

“I sure did.”

Eager to curb the mania in her caller’s voice, Ms. Niam says, “We’re just now learning about the hundreds of incidents. These armed encounters seem focused in the Western half of the world.”

“America!” rallies Mr. Rood. “Damn, yeah.”

Ms. Niam cautions the man from Arizona. “Please, language, Mr. Rood. And it is Christmas Day.”

Mr. Rood grumbles, “Libtards.”

Refocusing the report, Ms. Niam asks her caller, “Can you tell us what happened to you this morning?”

“Yeah, sure,” Mr. Rood grants with heavy breaths. “I heard that sucker rattling my front door at four AM. I don’t go work at Walmart until six fifteen so I heard what was going on.”

The caller raises his voice.

“He come in my house with the ‘Ho, ho, ho’ and touting his rifle. Well, I brought mine.”

Interested in summarizing the witness, the television reporter asks, “How was the gunfire initiated?”

Yelling because of adrenaline, “I shot first – the man was in my home. He shot at me but I think I got him. All the authorities got to do is follow the blood trail. That’s red enough for Christmas for you all.”

– End –

If you liked my story, the least you can do for me is send me a Christmas card. You can do that by buying this story on Smashwords. Merry Holidays (how does that sound?).

– Matthew Sawyer


Sour Grapes And A Fox

October 27, 2014

“Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour…”

– Aesop’s Fables

Somewhere the Sixth century B.C., Aesop said… “A fox strolling, through an orchard, spotted a bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine grown up a tree. That fox was hungry, so hungry that he talked to himself. He said, ‘I’m so hungry, I’ll even eat grapes.’

“When he jumped up to snatch a bunch off the vine, he missed. He took a running jump and he still could not reach the grapes. A crow told him – and the fox was so hungry that other animals spoke to him, too – that fat black bird said from high up in boughs, ‘You will starve.’

“’You, fox, you will die because you lack ambition.” The bird squawks, “Take what is available to you. Eat the grapes there in the dirt. Take what has fallen off the vine and rotted.’

“The bird cackles.

“’The ripe grapes are all mine.’

“The fox complains. ‘The grapes in the dirt are covered with biting ants. And the fruit is fermented, all the same.’

“’Eat them,’ screeches the bird. ‘The ants are extra protein in a diet such as yours. And the spoiled grapes will make you drunk. Foxes like you like to get intoxicated. Eat so many grapes that you no longer care you are hungry.’

“And the fox is famished, so he eats grapes that have fallen off the vine. He takes ants into his mouth and they bite his tongue and his throat when he swallows them down. The fox feels the insects’ poison or the fermented fruit spin his mind. All the while, the elevated crow devours ripe grapes. The bird isn’t even hungry.

“The crow eats the good grapes and teases the fox. ‘Jump, jump and get the ripe grapes. They are so sweet. They are so full of fresh vitamins.’

“The fox gets an idea. He tells the bird, ‘Don’t eat all the grapes. I will reach the vine, I can do it.’

“His tongue lolls from his mouth and the fox slurs his words when he speaks. ‘Let’s play a game, fat bird. We can play a game you will like.’

“’My grapes are not your prize,’ stakes the crow.

“’No,’ the fox promises. ‘I will get the grapes. And you can laugh at me when I try.’

“’Try,’ the bird says. He eats the good grapes all around him and he asks the fox, ‘What is your game?’

“The fox says, ‘You will eat one of your good grapes every time I fail to grab any grape.’

“’I will eat one of my grapes every time you jump and fail?’


“’I already do,’ chuckles the crow. ‘That’s why I don’t fly away and I wait.’

“The fox says, ‘Then that is what we will do.’

“He staggers beneath a bunch of grapes he can never, ever reach. When the fox jumps up, his angle is awkward and uncoordinated. His leap is weak and already he is tired. The fox acts inebriated, that is what the crow sees.

“The fox failed his attempt, so the bird caws aloud and swallows a fruit whole. The crow would do the same even if it did not play a game. He was overstuffed and he could never quit.

“All day long, the crow eats a grape each time the feeble fox jumps into the air and fails. He eats two when the fox falls to the ground painfully onto its back. Even while the intoxicated animal rests, the bird consumes fruit there appears no room for beneath its round shawl of feathers.

“Near sunset, after the fox has spent the day never claiming a prize other than sour ants and alcohol, the overfed crow wobbles on the branch on which it is perched. He is drowsy then falls off.

“The bird topples to the earth and lands knocked senseless near the panting fox. That fox tells the stuffed crow, ‘I do this all day. I jump all day and I seldom ever eat. It’s all I do. Now, tonight, I find a foolish bird and I dine on fat and wine.’

And the morale is…


– Matthew Sawyer


Fashionable Tails

October 21, 2014

Tails of Fashion bu Matthew Sawyer


Twelve-year old Tabi says to her three girlfriends, “I don’t like having a tail.”

The four Middle School girls are sleeping-over together at Katy’s house. Katy is a happy hostess. Everybody calls her ‘Cat,’ and she even spells her nickname with a ‘C.’

Next to her, sharing a sleeping bag on the floor, Tabi repeats herself. “I don’t like having a tail because people can guess the color of my pubic hair.”

Cat answers, “You’re lucky you started puberty. You’re even getting your boobs.”

Late at night when the girls should be sleeping and staying silent, they keep a reading lamp on. It is mounted over the empty bed. Hardly any light reaches all the way down to the carpet. A plug-in nightlight by the closed bedroom door does not help at all.

Tabi whines, “I know. I just don’t like my tail.”

“I like my tail,” Julie tells her friends. No one acknowledges the statement. “It’s still small, so I don’t have to show it off. And there’s only fuzz on it.”

Riley recommends to Tabi, “Shave it.”

Tabi says, “No.”

“You don’t have to keep it outside your panties,” the meek Julie suggests. Everyone there in Cat’s room forgets the quiet girl is present, almost in the shadow under the bed. She touches the darkness and blends right in.

More bleak, Tabi states, “My parents say I should be proud.”

Accidentally mindful of her friend, Julie, and in agreement with her, Cat says to Tabi, “Put it away when you go to school.”

“I do,” Tabi says.

“She does,” Riley testifies. “We have classes together in the morning and in the afternoon. I see her.”

“I don’t pay attention,” Cat admits.

“Shave it,” Riley says again. “The models in New York shave their tails.”

“She’s not a model,” Cat opines.

Tabi tells her, “Thanks.”

“I mean you’re cuter.

“Thanks,” Tabi replies flat.

“Let’s see,” Cat pressures her friend. “Let’s look at the color of your hair. I bet it’s blond like your head.”

Riley tells everybody, “It’s dishwater brown. I saw it. It’s darker on the tip.”

“Riley,” Tabi gasps.

Sleepy and silly, Cat guesses. “Are you brown down there?”

“You know,” Tabi snarls. “Shut up.”

Defensive and full of adrenaline, she raises her voice and lectures her friends. “Not everybody has the same hair color all over their bodies. People around this town are mostly brunette. That’s fine.”

Riley interrupts. “It’s consistent.”

Without affirmation, Tabi practically yells, “And redheads don’t draw any extra attention.”

“I bet they’d look like they were on fire,” shouts Cat in laughter. Her parents pound on their shared wall then Cat giggles, “Shh.”

The girls go as quiet as Julie has always been. Almost below the surface of utter silence, the unspoken one hiding against the bed skirt says, “Most people just wear them in their trousers.”

“Trousers?” snickers Cat. She and all the girls keep their volumes low.

Riley whispers, “People have them cut off and bobbed.”

“Or,” Cat specifies.

“That’s plastic surgery,” moans Tabi. “And there is my Mom and my Dad.”

Julie tells everyone from somewhere unseen, “Those boys in High School cut theirs off.”

“Some of them,” Riley retorts.

Cat says, “The whole football team.”

Riley tells her, “Not all of the boys play football – three. I watch the news. And those were expelled.

“I’ve been in the High School,” reports Cat. “I’ve seen some tails there, boys show them off. The little ones are cute.”

Curious, Julie whispers, “What color were they?”

“I don’t know.”

Dismayed and wishing for the topic to quickly change, Tabi answers, “You can guess black.”

As if she has fumbled and she scrambles to recover respectability, Cat ponders aloud. “There’s like a bald spot at the base of your tail, huh? Tabi?”

More outraged at Cat then she was with Riley, Tabi exclaims, “Cat!”

“Shh,” Cat sprays back at her friend.

Once the room has been hushed, Cat says, “Everybody has one – a spot. It’s suppose to be sexually attractive, like ankles in the Victorian century.”

“Huh?” Riley questions.

“Touch it,” Cat instructs Tabi.


“Maybe it’s extra sensitive. Is it? Is it a Hot Spot?”

Tabi tells her, “Now you’re gross.”

Julie is genuinely sincere when she asks, “What is she talking about?” If anyone there could see in the dark, they would observe her nodding her darker head.

Cat volunteers, “Tabi knows, hair grows on a tail from the tip to the other end and underneath. But it doesn’t come together on the top near the spine in your back. It’s naked there”

Everyone is quiet while Cat chuckles.

“You said you were growing a tail,” she accuses Julie. “Rub it. Rub the base where there isn’t any peach down.”


“Where you got no hair.”

“Don’t,” Tabi demands.

Already, Julie reports, “I don’t feel anything.”

“Do it harder,” Cat suggests.

Joining the understanding again, Riley says, “She’s too young.”

“How old do you have to be?” wonders Cat.

“Stop,” Tabi issues. “This is sick.”

“I’m cutting it off. I’m going to cut off my tail.”

The other girls say in descending chorus, “What? No.”

Excited, Riley tells Tabi, “You can’t cut off your tail. That’s like cutting off your finger.”

“Worse,” adds Cat. ‘Worse’ is the only word of caution Cat gives her friend.

Decided, Tabi says, “I’ll try that first.”

Confused once more, Riley wonders, “What?”

Tabi asks her friend, “Katy, do you have any scissors?”

“No,” she answers. “Well, yes, but no.”

“You want to do it now?” Julie whispers with an encouraging tone of voice.

“My finger.”

Tabi then says after nobody answers her statement. “If it doesn’t hurt too bad, we can do my tail.”

“I’m not helping you,” Cat asserts.

“It will hurt,” Riley says. “Let her try it and she’ll stop.”

Julie only nods her head and the room seems to grow darker.

Shocked by the ridiculous support her life-long buddies give their equally bound soul sister, Cat tells everyone, “I’m not stopping her.”

Immediately, Riley says, “The little finger. Try to take off the very tip.”

“I don’t have scissors,” Tabi states.

Riley urges their friend. “Cat, c’mon. Get the scissors.”

Katy’s resistance is broken once Julie whispers to her, “You can let her try.”

After an “Oh,” and being poked and hearing her name chanted, Cat gets up off the floor and leaves Tabi alone in the sleeping bag.

“Move over, Julie,” she solicits her friend. “I keep scissors under my bed.”

“Why?” Riley jokes. “Are you giving weapons to monsters?”

“Maybe its not for monsters,” Cat replies and straightens upright. A long pair of sewing scissors stays coincidentally concealed behind the young girl’s pale nightgown.

Before she hands the chrome surgical instrument to her friend, she says, “So we get to see it… your tail.”

Tabi seizes the scissors and admits, “If this doesn’t hurt.”

“It will,” Riley says again.

“Too much,” defines Tabi.

Un-synchronized with the conversation, Riley repeats, “I’ve seen it, her tail.”

“What do you think?” Cat whispers directly to her friend. The room is so still, she is unable to hide her voice from the other girls.

Riley sums, “It’s not bad.”

Tabi says more flatly than last time, “Thanks.”

“It doesn’t matter,” she states and sits down cross-legged on top of the sleeping bag. “If this doesn’t hurt too much, it’s gone.”

The same time Cat asks her friend, “What are you going to tell your parents?” the scissors make that distinctive noise, “Snick.”

A whole mute minute passes that not one girl remembers before Tabi screams. Her screeches rattle the bedroom window, Katy’s father shakes the wall. Tabi had ruined the first knuckle of her little finger on her left hand and her agony now summons her friend’s Mom and Dad.

The same time responsible adults enter the room, Riley advises her hurting friend. “You need a bigger scissors. You’re gonna need bigger scissors if you cut off that, you know, thing.”

-Matthew Sawyer

Please, Read my fiction at Smashwords

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