Tuesday, November 01, 2011

To be Irish is to know that, in the end, the world will break your heart.

The day that you learn that, even with everything that's happened over the past half a decade, you were but a footnote in someone else's drama - is awful.

Shocking, eye-opening, and awful.

You realize that everything you suffered through for the past five years was all for nought- but worse, it was ALWAYS for nought.

There was never any chance that there would be any other outcome, even with all of her promises, and you were too fucking stupid to realize that all you were was a brief interlude, a small intermission in a longer story, for a girl who went slummin' with a roughneck for a couple of months before returning to the life that she was always going to lead anyway.

I was too fucking stupid. Too fucking naive. And that will never happen again.

This will never happen to me again.

I have tried to not this world harden my heart, but there was been no return on these futile attempts.

This will never happen to me again.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I was half drunk. Not fully drunk, but half drunk.

It was all around me, all the same, all boring goddamned people doing boring things and leading boring lives and talking about boring bullshit.

For a moment I felt like I was 18 again as that old angst overrode all the other emotions I'm inundated with from moment to moment.

See, the older I get, the better I get at what I do. The better I get at what I do, the more I realize that the barriers are falling away from how high I can go in this journalism business, and I had just read this article earlier that day:


This passage, in particular struck me.

"My life was the opposite of cozy domesticity. I slept with a pre-packed bag with clothes, and had a wardrobe consisting of “winter war” (Chechnya, Balkans, Afghanistan, northern Iraq) parkas and boots and “summer war” (Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Guinea, etc.) baggy shirts and trousers. I had a collection of Middle East and “strict Islam” head scarves, abayas and kurtas. When I went on the rare holiday with friends who had children, I listened like an alien as they talked about schools and real estate."

And I looked around that bar, that same old fucking bar that I've been going to for seven fucking years, and it was all the same people, just with different names, but all the same boring fucking people talking about their kids and their houses and their jobs and all kinds of other things that I just can't make myself care about and it struck me that I will be leaving, as soon as possible.

I had promised myself when I was little that I would never be one of the men who hated his job and only lived for the weekend, but my problem has become the opposite. I have become addicted to and totally consumed by journalism, and I am happy only when I'm boxing or when I'm working.

The weekends are spent in drunken boredom as I catapult from bar to bar, waiting and hiding my boredom until Monday.

I realized it when I was sent on assignment to Virginia recently - it was, and still is, the first time that I've been actually "sent on assignment" and it was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had, being sent out into the Unknown having to keep a promise of delivering a hundred inches and a shitload of pictures... it was glorious.

I just began reading in ernest Robert Fisk's "The Great War for Civilisation" as well, and the timing of my reading it is further proof that God has a sense of humor with me.

The book is a chronicle of sorts of Fisk's years as a Middle East war correspondant for a London newspaper, times that he spent interviewing Osama Bin Laden and traveling with Russian soldiers across the frozen Afghani landscape during their invasion of that country in the 1980s. The writing is fantastic, the stories, nearly unbelieveable. And those, dear friends, are the stories that I want.

Sometimes it seems like everything over the past few years has been building up to that. Learning to box, learning to shoot, learning outdoor skills and how to sleep outside in the sweltering heat of the Virginia plains or the frigid Catskill Mountains night.... it's as if I unwittingly have been preparing to go to these war zones that I have read about so eagerly.

And looking around that bar, realizing that at 27 I have no girlfriend, no house, no kids, no desire to have kids, and nothing holding me back from pursuit of such dreams.... it will not be long before I am gone.

And I do sometimes believe that I will not come back.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

We're driving back from the wedding, and my hands hurt and I've got a mark over my eye. He found his shirt out in the street in front of the hotel. You can do the math.

"Fuck you," I say.

"What? I make things interesting."

"No. You guys suck. Here I am trying to be decent guy, trying to grow up, and you every time I hand out with you fucks I end back where I started. You're like crabs, that's what you are. I'm trying to climb the fuck out of the bucket, and you motherfuckers are pulling me right back in. I hate you."

"I barely remember anything... I just remember getting hit, ending up on the ground, and realizing I got hit," he says.

"Yea and another thing you fat fuck, I don't want to hear your short jokes anymore, because that's the second time that I've saved your ass from getting killed."

"Eh... whatever. You're the one who stole the guy's car keys."

"Well yea. I mean, fuck him. But still..."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Never coming home

Lately, I've been feeling like I should just leave New Jersey, and do it for good. Maybe it's a pre-mid-life crisis of sorts, and although I know that most people feel this way at one point in their lives or another, I can't help it.

Some of those old ghosts (women, of course) have stepped back into my life, and set me back about five years in both where I feel my life's at and how I've been dealing with it- namely, drinking too much and doing the stupid things associated with that, like putting myself at risk in a few ways.

A few months ago, I cam to the conclusion that for a long time I've been something of a binge drinker, a thinly-veiled, barely controlled functioning alcoholic one step from the edge. I've seen what the cruel end is for that type of person, and it comes in the form of lonely nights at local dives, living an agonizingly unfulfilled life. It isn't where I want to be.

Like so many other cluster fucks over the years, boxing (along with that "career" thing) is saving my ass. I take this sport so seriously that even though I"m not competing, I spend the weekends sober lately because I know I'm going to the gym in the morning, and going hungover isn't an option at this severely less-manly stage in my life.

But it's more than that; it's the beauty that comes with knowing that I can do things that a lot of men can't dream of, and it's the solemn (ok, loud and arrogant) pride that I take in knowing that at 26, I'm in better shape than I was at 20. So I put myself through the murderous workouts and come out a better man and a stronger fighter at the end.

But still, even though I'm getting professional instruction for peanuts, and I won another award for my writing, I still get that nagging feeling, that, "What the fuck am I sitting here for?"

I've got a strong attraction to the West Coast, and I have for some time, mostly since a woman I once loved ran out there, but she's not there any more and that's part of the reason I'd like to go there myself.

In this damned state, there's so many ghosts around here for me. They're all those women I used to know, man, I can't get away, and I've been all over this damned state and from the Delaware River to the Garden State Parkway to the streets of New York City, all these places remind me of someone.

It's never the same person, but it's always something sad, some moment in some relationship that I wish I still had, some girl that I wish I still loved.

And then I see California like it's some gleaming city, some shiny haven from all my troubles where the winter never comes and your woman doesn't leave you. I know better than to think that any of that is true... but maybe it's that idealized version I need most right now.

And in the end, I might not end up in the Golden State... after all, the last thing I need is more fake ass platinum blondes to give me headaches. But it'll be somewhere warm- some lush island that lies rises out of an oil spill of teal water, or some small house overlooking some bay. The names aren't important. They all sound the same anyway.

But it'll be somwhere where I can take a charter boat out any time I want and fish for all the sea monsters that Hemingway wrote about, and where I can walk down the street and into a throbbing warehouse and hear the rythmic thuds of the speed bags and that lovely "Pop-pop-bang!" that accompanies a nice combination.

And- most importantly- no woman will ever bother me, and nary a memory will form in my head that doesn't look exactly like what I want it to.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Town

It was a hard movie for me to watch. There were a lot of things that struck a very personal tone and I'm not sure why.

Maybe it was the green Carhartt jacket that Affleck wears, or his proclivity towards doing remarkably stupid things even when it seems he could fix everything by simply walking away.

Maybe it was the ghosts that haunted him, the family trials, the blood soaked memories of times gone by and people he had to "look for."

There was a lot more that could have been done with the movie, I guess- more character development all over and what not. But the relationship that Affleck has with his past, with his father, with the woman....there was so much there that actually brought me back into my own life for a second....

An old friend of mine and I were driving home from last week's fights in Newark, a little bit tuned up and a bit sentimental, and I told him what I'd been thinking for the last few years.

"Man... I got this feeling, like for the past 10 or 15 years, we all been straddlin' this line, you know? And on one half, it's like, we're good, solid, hardworking guys, we're tough guys, and we're doin' good, and then on the side, we're drunk, extraordinarily dangerous lowlives," I said.

I didn't know what to expect. Some folks might take offense to this kind of statement.

But he knows. All of us have been in the same places, even if it wasn't all of us together, between the drinking and the drugs and the violence and all the stupid shit that we've all done, all the stupid shit we never got caught for.

And he agreed.

"We go back and forth between it some times... you cross the line, dabble and screw around, and then try to get back across it," he said. "But you gotta know when to get back across it."

A lot of the people that we both knew never knew when to get back across it, and got trapped on that side, like in the end of "Mirrors"- forever on the outside looking in, forever in the slum, forever hooked on one drug or another.

And the struggle, well they kept that up. They kept grindin. And they never got anywhere.

Us... we're somewhere. I'm a little further down the path than my friend, but he's on his way. We're trying to stay on the right side of that line.

Later on that night, he got pulled over on the way home from my house. We'd gone to a local bar after the fights, and I drove, so he was probably drunker. He got off with just a ticket.

And that mirror, it cracked, just a little bit more.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"You sound so sad when you talk about her," she told me.

"Nah. Not sad," I said.

Angry. Destroyed. Disgusted.... tired.

Another relationship goes to shit because I can't seem to live for what's in front instead of staring at what's behind.

Why this girl even asked about this was beyond me.

Friday, June 11, 2010


It wasn't until I sat in the living room that he built, and found it dark and empty, that I really felt that he was gone.

The wooden sign on the wall that said "Joe's Bar," the autographed picture of Lou Holtz that hung on the wall, his old recliner, the table with the ugly tablecloth that always had newspapers on it....

The stone and brick fireplace he'd built with his hands, and had lit for me so many times before, his US Navy picture from 1944 laid out on the table, his wedding picture from the late 50's next to it.

He was not a man without problems, and the two of us were not without our issues, though we never spoke of them. He was scarred, deeply scarred from that brutal war, and the only thing that could hold those festering wounds together was booze mixed with anger and regret- these things melded together to keep his blood warm on the inside.

I only knew him in what some might call his "golden" years, when the old lion held but a glint of the fire that had once raged so out of control and alienated so many.

But I do believe that deep somewhere in that sou of hisl, he was sorry doing what he did the first decade of my life. And somewhere, deep down in mine, I realized that I forgave him.

This life is just some of the saddest shit there is.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


We five are huddled around a fire that flings its embers into the dried out underbrush, making me worry that the these deadened wisps of plants will soon come alive with an angry orange glow.

Pocketknives cut open food packets; small stoves that look like torches are ignited, water is boiling, and the wind charges up and around and through the small campsite. It's been doing that since these mountains were formed millions of years ago... we're just passer-byers, the next continuation of a long line of people that have looked out over this valley while the sun dies out.

The tents get set up, and their feebleness in the face of such a wild wind is a small example of the power that we don't have.

Fleeting, fleeting, oh this is fleeting. These mountains and hills laugh at our problems, our dramas, our lives that float in and out so quickly. What else could they do?

The bright lights of the Hudson River Valley blink on and the thick night descends in a rolling fury.

The lights go out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City

It's 12:40 a.m. on a Friday night, and the text messages start coming through, one after another and four in a minute, one worse than the other. They show all of the reasons I hate her; the other girl has taken over as soon as some semblance of insecurity strikes, and my girl is gone.

She is a great girl, one that I care about deeply... but I don't deal well with being told what to do or who to report to. Whether this works or not is in the air, but one thing I learned long ago was never trade yourself or your spirit for any woman.

I end up leaving the bar, and arguing for an hour over nothing... and I hate her, but I know if she leaves, I will miss her terribly. For all the trouble she gives me, there is something about this girl that keeps me there with her. I think it's her smile, her sense of humor, that makes me forget about all the rest of the world for a minute, and just focus on now. It's her optimism, her cheerfulness that I could never emulate myself.

But the ugliness has started, the "you don't open up to me" and the "we don't go out to dinner enough." The things that make men all over the world cringe and shake their heads. I don't want it to go that way; I've never had a relationship like that and I don't plan on it. There are many paths here, only some of them pleasant... and even then, I wonder if they will be only pleasant for her.

I've been reading a lot lately about physics and string theory, the possibility of multiverses. They say that there might be a universe that has you after every decision you didn't make, after every event that didn't happen, and shows all the roads you didn't take. Somewhere, I wonder if there's one where I am with Alex and Ryer's still alive. We would have been dating for over three years now, and who knows how things would be. And Ryer... he wouldn't haunt my dreams as he has so recently.

Sometimes I wish I was in that universe, instead of this faltering world of constant letdowns and perennial heartbreak.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Jersey

Living in this modern world of cell phones and blackberries, GPS systems and talking cars, it is easy to ignore the "Things That Have Come Before." The deeds, the fights... even the tools. A wood-handled pocketknife, a metal flask, a steel revolver- these were the blackberries and PDA's of the past, these were the things that a man couldn't leave the house without.

It was a different world, of course; much less politically correct, much more violent, and without the room for the bullshit and whining that we have now. It was simpler then: those who did not work, starved. Those who did not build, froze. Those who would not fight, died.

As a newspaper reporter, my job revolves around History. It's very nearly impossible to write about something happening now without knowing the history of what happened before, be it a sewer plan or a road improvement. But we, as a people, overlook that history far too much.

The town I cover is a small one in the northern section of New Jersey. It isn't known for much, and doesn't contain the rich and famous or the upper echelon of the state- but it does have history. So much, that sometimes I feel that it rises up and floods the streets, as if one could not walk down the main thoroughfare without seeing the ghosts rise, without watching, through some hole in time, the rolling fields and rocky slopes long since demolished and developed.

The road that leads down the center of the town dates to the before the Revolution. It was heavily valued because it ran from the banks of a main river, all the way up to a road that led to the mountainous areas in northern part of the state. During the War for Independence, that mountain road was major road that wasn't controlled by the British, thus making this small, seemingly insignificant turnpike invaluable for the Americans.

In this town, where a school now sits, Washington's troops once slept; all those centuries ago, there were lines of white tents filled with hungry, battle-torn troops trying to forge a country. In the mornings, they made the groans and grunts of an army as it awakes, made coffee in the predawn hours; in the evenings, they played cards around a fire or wrote letters home. Which ones would die at lunch... that was for History to decide.

It is rumored that Washington himself once attended services at a white church a few hundred yards up from the site where his troops slept. It is hard to look at those floorboards and imagine the boots of the great general crunching over them once so long ago; sometimes it's hard to believe the man himself was real at all, and not just some mythical figure created so kids have someone to read about in the third grade. Some of those veterans of the Revolution are buried in that church's cemetery, which is also a final home for several Civil War veterans- even a Medal of Honor winner. They sit under tilted, barely legible headstones that vainly try to name the hero who lies beneath.

Some miles to the south, at the intersection of two major rivers, sits two bridges that connect towns and counties. They are open to car traffic now, and the river is murky and polluted. Once though, it was clear, pristine... the sites where the bridges are found are said to be old Indian fords for the tribes that lived along its banks.

Some miles to the north, another main road runs through a mountain pass. Even though thousands use it every day for their commutes, few know that the road there exists for the simple reason that it is the only way to get through the hills that form the beginnings of the Appalachians. Once, there was a fort that was designed to keep the Indians out of the plains below, where the first white settlers were gathering.

Now, all you can see is a small blue sign along the road that denotes that the fort once existed, as no footprint remains. By that sign, there is a closed down bar, an overpass for the highway, and tattered white houses with American flags on the porch.

I'm not saying that people should know everything... if they did, I'd have nothing to write about. But they should stop and take a passing glance every once in a while, and imagine these places as they once were. Look at them through the lens that history has provided us , and don't forget the monumental deeds that people no different than us accomplished. Look at a topographical map, and see why things were built the way they were- the land tells a story that you'd have missed otherwise. And if nothing else, it will put our own lives, our own time, in perspective, and tell us to enjoy those fleeting moments that we so oft look past.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

There Be No Shelter Here

Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

- Yeats, Easter, 1916


There is something terribly beautiful going on in Iran right now that I hope the world is watching carefully.

I've long been a proponent of the theory that we should never go to war in order to "spread democracy"- it is a great catchphrase that serves more to cover up other, more devious aims. No, I've always said that if democracy is so great, you don't need to spread it at the edge of a bayonet; countries will steal it from you. And sure enough, Iran is finally doing that. After their clearly fixed elections had the current President Algjanghkgbfksgb winning by a huge margin, the people have finally seen through the curtains that the government has draped over them. Not only have they seen through them, though; this time, they've lit them on ablaze.

History has shown over and over that you cannot keep a people down for too long before they try to stand back up. And if you ignore their cries, and force them back down, they will rise with that much more fury. Every oppressed people has had their time where they raised their own flag, and went to war with the Black Hundreds trying to keep the social order intact. Now, it's Iran's time.

When the government banned journalists and shut down the internet, the Iranians used Twitter to communicate what's been going on to the outside world. They used photo imaging websites to upload pictures of what the government was trying to keep secret. They went against the party. The opposition leader, Mir Hossein Moussavi, has said on his own facebook page that he is preparing to die for this cause. Green has become the color of the Revolution, and throngs of green-clad protestors pour into the streets. When the government told the roaring crowds to stop protesting, they gathered more boldly. When the cops told them to disperse, they fought back. And now, Iran burns with the furies of a generation that has never known freedom, but demands it now.

Now, the great leader of Iran, the true man behind the curtain, the Ayatollah Khomeini, has declared that the protesters "Will be held accountable." That there will be consequences for these actions; that's Iranian for "We will try to kill you all."

That means that there is but one good solution for the Iranian people: a full uprising. They must shatter their chains and cast off this weight into the sea. They must destroy this evil system of religious oppression before it destroys them, and annihilate their oppressors lest they be annihilated themselves. There are no two ways about this.

History stands with them. The ghosts of Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington are with them. Frederick Douglass and John Brown look on, and the souls of every Michael Collins and Martin Luther King, every Gandhi and Guevara that the world has ever seen are with them in these tumultuous hours. These are the hours that will define Iran's future, that will delineate the road that this country of such importance takes.

There is no middle ground here. The ground will swell with blood, and this will not be peaceful. However, it could be amongst the most important things to happen in this century, an event that makes the fall of the Berlin Wall pale in comparison.

Stand with Free Iran. God help them.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn

Fare thee well gone away
There's nothing left to say
'cept to say adieu
To your eyes as blue
As the water in the bay

I've had more people die around me than I can count, but I never actually seen something die, never held something while the life leaves it.

She was on the ground in the bathroom, a huddled mass of red fur, breathing heavily in a final attempt to beat the cancer that had taken over her lungs. She had fought like hell, and never compromised the dignity that she had that was so strange for a dog to possess. But this fight was over. She knew it.

I rubbed her soft fur between my hands, and felt the time between her breaths expand. She gasped several times, tried to raise her head but couldn't.

"It's alright old dog. Go where you go," I said. She gasped in response.

Her breathing slowed, and the life began to slide out from this once irascible animal, this protector of families. Her mouth opened slightly, and the strong fangs could still be seen under the gray snout, and, as if whispering, took her last breath. I lifted her up, and brought her out of the house one last time, the house she'd lived in for sixteen years.

She's gone, gone to whatever fields dogs roam when they die, pleasant pastures where cancer does not exist and the streams and woods are rife with life.

It's the same fields, the same heaven, where the old man is, where Ryer is, and so many others that have passed on and out of this world, leaving withered, meaningless husks, simple reminders of the once fearsome fire they possessed...


Monday, May 04, 2009


I walk into the kitchen, and see her on a makeshift bed on the floor. She is sleeping soundly, with a blanket tucked around her to keep her warm.

"Hey my old dog..." I say as I rub her head, the red snout long since turned gray. She barely stirs, looks up at me with old tired eyes. She was healthy up until about a four months ago, when we believe that she had some kind of stroke that has affected her attitude as much as her gait, which is now a sad, gimping sideways thing that keeps her from going near stairs.

Sixteen years ago, this golden retriever with the deep red fur of an Irish setter was a pint-sized dynamo, with endless energy matched only by the sheer destructive force that she brought with her.

She was a puppy when my old man was remodeling our second floor, and it was, as far she was concerned, a giant playground. She would grab the the torn edges of the paper that wrapped the stacked sheetrock and run, tearing it down the length of the piece. She would eat every screw and nail that she could find, an odd habit that led to us feeding her massive amounts of bread in the hopes that it would ease her semi-digestion of the metal she inevitably crapped out.

During Christmas, she decided that she had a taste for the glass ornaments that festooned our tree, and would eat them directly off the branches. This led to feeding her more bread, and the two decade moratorium on glass ornaments in this house.

She abused the shit out of me when I would wrestle with her- she clearly had some physical advantages over me, namely a low center of gravity and some viciously sharp teeth.

She is the only dog to have met my long since dead grandfather, and the first dog that started a habit of groaning and bitching whenever she laid down (which has been subsequently passed down to my other dog.)

She saw the Bills lose three Super Bowls, and then watched the Giants win last year's. She has been the first dog in generations of dogs to see the Red Sox actually win a World Series. She saw Bill Clinton's presidency, Nixon's funeral, and the election of Obama. She has seen much for a dog, probably more than most dogs should.

She is not the nicest of dogs, having always been fiercely protective her family and anti-social in a way that makes my family compare her to me. But she is a loyal old thing, and realizes who loves her.

And now she sits on that bed, her head only rising when I go to grab the bag of bread for a midnight snack. I throw her a slice, and she devours it, her red collar shaking as the tags bang together.

I know that it is all too soon that that collar will be hanging on the stairs to basement. It will hang their in silent memorial to a life once lived, like how the hats of the Cardinals hang in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

When she gets up to go out, I have to lift her down the stairs, and wait for her to come back in from the yard. She takes a spill trying to get back up, resilient to the end, not wanting help on stairs she once bounded effortlessly up. When I get her back inside, I walk over to the bed and kneel, patting it as if to say, "Come lay here." Eventually I will lift her back onto it, but she won't lay down.

She stands, with her skinny paws out straight defiantly, looking at me. It's as if she knows that if she lays down, she will not rise. She's not ready for the deathbed yet... not ready to see that reaper who looms silently above us all.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When White Boys Go Wrong

I hear'em call my name, a voice out of my old days.

"Hey yo Irish!"

I turned around and saw him sitting at the bar with four or five of his boys. He has small features, a tiny head and a thin frame punctuated by a voice that all the cats who smoke to much pot get. He was always nice to me.

"How you been? You still over there (at the stone yard)?" he asked.

"Nah man. Been a long time. I write now."

"True, true. Good."

"Where's your boy at?" I asked. "That cat you always used to be with, fuckin... Miller?"

He smiles. "Oh him? Oh man he's doin' good. Real good."

His friends begin to laugh. I'm missing the joke.

"Where's he at?"

"He's locked up bro. Armed robbery. Two years. Some jail down the shore."

"Get the fuck out."

"Nah really bro."

"What drug?"

"Crack bro."

"Get the fuck out."

"Nah really."

"Well... at least you're not in jail man," I said. "Cheers to that, uh?"

"Yea man. Yea."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Paint It Black

When The End of the world came, it struck God with a furious irony that it had actually was going to happen in 2012. It was not, of course, because of some ancient prediction made by some civilization that made cave drawings and howled at the moon, nor was it because the date had really been set in the first place.

No, it was simply the way it worked out. It was all a matter of numbers, really. When He had constructed heaven, he had only put so many tables and couches in the place, and he was truly worried that overcrowding would lead to a problem should a fire break out. Plus, after a certain number, it becomes damn near impossible to keep track of who’s coming or going.

He had set the number years ago, sometime after World War I, and it was to be 7,453,536,026. He had hemmed and hawed over it, and considered changing it at least a dozen times.

“What if there’s still really interesting people to be born yet? What if I end it all, but I don’t realize that 31 years later, someone would have been born that was going to write a song that I would have loved? I would miss out on a great song because…why?”

But still, the same problems arose. A fire, a computer backfire, some other unforeseen trouble, and the whole thing would be thrown off and at that point, He may as well throw everyone out and start all over again. And after this long, going back to square one would be like trading in a Hemi for a steam engine.

The final death was somewhat innocuous, and very disappointing. He had always hoped the world would go out with an intensely loud, shattering event that would be worth commemorating on a coin or the back of a dollar bill, but it was not to be. It had actually happened when an older woman from New England who was somewhere in her mid-50s slipped down her cement stairs and hurtled onto one of the large chunks of decorative granite that she had placed at the corner of her garden. Oh, it was bloody and disgusting, but not quite the bang He’d been looking for. Either way, she was it.

He sat down at His desk, lit a cigar, and looked around his office. It was littered with newspapers, books, the occasional porno magazine (He always told visitors that they weren’t his, but he knew no one believed him and so he never made a move to dispose of them.) He fingered the brown fedora that lay on his desk next to him, thought about how He had truly hoped they would come back into style before The End. They gave a man some dignity when he wore a hat, as opposed to baseball caps, which made every man seem like he was walking out of a John Fogerty song. Another thing that was not to be…He shook his head.

He gazed out the plate glass window, looked at the tremendous line at the entrance that he knew wrapped around the building. People were showing ID’s, and getting hand stamps before they walked in. He had thought about using those green bracelets to mark entries and keep count, but He knew how much he hated things rattling on his wrists, and so He had bagged the idea.

On the CCTV was Earth, floating beautifully in the blackened night of space that He’d built so long ago. He always had the cameras on the night side of Earth, for he thought it gorgeous to see the trails of golden white lights emanating from the cities and towns, stretching and winding their ways into the interior of whatever country he was looking at.

“Truly a work of art,” he thought, and even He had to admit that it dismayed him to see the lights blinking out, first in twos and threes, then it great swaths.

He turned to the computer, and began playing Solitaire again.