Saturday, November 26, 2005


Returning indoors, Gordon debated a moment climbing back into bed or venturing forward into the day. Realizing that he was wide awake after the incident with Rebecca, he decided on the latter. After showering and sliding into the t-shirt and worn blue jeans that Ginny had once referred to as his “slacker uniform”, he headed to the kitchen – where he found Darby hunched over the table reading a pornographic comic book and munching from a saucer piled with graham crackers. Stairway to Heaven blared from a cheap clock radio on the counter.

Darby, sensing Gordon in the doorway, glanced up from his reading. “Morning,” he mumbled through a mouthful of graham cracker.

Gordon nodded, saw by the pale digital display of the noisy clock radio that it was 6:56 am. He had been surprised by the unexpected clamor of his clock 41 minutes before, and again to see Rebecca in the back yard, but to find Darby not only conscious but speaking before ten o‘clock on a Saturday morning was really something. “What’s the special occasion?” he asked.

Darby raised his eyebrows. “Car out front idling for fucking ever,” he complained. “Woke me up. I hate to be the one to tell you, Gord, but I think it was Gin.”

Ginny tolerated only a select few calling her by three letters and Darby, as she was fond of reminding him whenever he called her Gin, was not among them.

“Yeah,” Gordon said, “that makes sense. I had a visitor ‘round back myself.”

Darby snorted noncommittally. “hey,” he said, “is it just me or does this song blow?”

Gordon became aware of Stairway to Heaven unfolding epically from the tin can radio. “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,” he found himself chanting along, “it’s just a spring clean for The May Queen!”

And there was Rebecca emerging from the hedge in his memory: pretty, bright as day and a little the worse for wear. A bit of a bruised may queen, he mused.

“I mean what bombastic shite! “The whispering wind?!” I don’t know what you hear in this stuff, Gord.”

The debate regarding the merits and absurdities of Stairway to Heaven was not a new one between them. Gordon, an enthusiast of what had become known, tragically perhaps, as classic rock, maintained that the song was an intricate tone poem equal in theme and scale to works with such heavy names upon them as Milton, Blake, Alighieri! Darby, who described himself as a “musical purist”, disagreed eternally and often vociferously with anyone who thought the song more than, in his words, “a fucking ego bloated parody of itself.”

Gordon ignored the bait Darby had thrown him in the apparent hope of beginning a new chapter in the discussion. “Have you seen my keys around here?” he thought he had left them in the kitchen the night before, after finding Ginny’s note on the door.

“Over by the ‘phone.” Darby offered, returning to his crackers and adults only comic.

Gordon moved to the telephone, found his keys. “Thanks”, he said. “I’m going to The Rolling Bear for breakfast, if anybody asks.” Exiting the room, Gordon paused a moment in the doorway, Stairway to Heaven spinning toward its a-cappella climax behind him. “And, Darby,” he said over his shoulder, “you can always change the channel.”

R. Cody, 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

Editorial Note

I don't write on a deadline. Which is why I am typing and you are reading this Editorial Note rather than part nine. I know the lack of new material here at The Blue Dog Journal is a bitter disappointment for my many and varied readers (all -400,012 of you) but I think you will agree that quality trumps quantity in original fiction as it does in game shows.

And one thing you can certainly bet on, if you're given the opportunity, is that The Blue Dog Journal strives for as much quality as a magical-realist meta-fiction experiment can possess. In that spirit, please find below a snapshot from the real world - an original draft of the turtle dream chant which appeared in part six:

click image to enlarge

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Just as Gordon was shaking his head and turning indoors, Rebecca was clambering, bloodied and more than a little frustrated into Ginny’s black Chevy Malibu (1980).

“’Becca’ baby!” Ginny exclaimed from the driver’s seat. “What happened?” she frowned to see Rebecca’s torn knees and skinned palms.

Rebecca thumped into the passenger seat and pulled the door closed with a slam. She glanced at Ginny, almost sheepishly, and burst out laughing. “I fell down,” she said, handing Ginny the plastic bag with the journals inside.

Ginny took the bag, glanced inside. “You OK?” she asked. Leaning across the Malibu’s middle console, she took Rebecca’s injured hands in her own, kissed them. “You wanna’ go back to the house – clean up, change clothes?”

Rebecca shook her head, glanced at the clock in the dash. “Nah,” she said, “I don’t wanna' be late. I’ll change when we get down there.” She returned the kisses to Ginny’s slender but strong hands. “Besides,” she shrugged, “Ellie’s seen me in a lot worse condition than this.”

Ginny smiled and eased the car into motion. “Tell me again about the time she found you in the bathroom with the neighbor boy.”

Rebecca frowned. “Just drive.” she said.

And Ginny did, bursting with a spray of gravel from the Chevy’s back tires into a drive that would take them several hours and a few hundred miles down the coast to attend the wedding of Rebecca’s older cousin, Eleanor, in San Pia, between the mountains and the sea near the southern end of the state.


Richard Cody, 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


At the sound of the alarm, Gordon started awake, leapt out of bed and stood swaying drowsily a moment in the thin light of the new day. Reaching down to the bedside table, he grabbed the small clock and silenced it mid-beep. Glancing at the face, he realized (without quite realizing it) that something was wrong.

Turning his gaze to the window before him, he saw the backyard bathed in the crisp and lucid glow of softly falling south-eastern light. He realized (as if the information was transmitted via the light of the sun) that it was Saturday morning and there was no reason for him to be up. He did not recall even touching the clock before going to sleep last night, let alone setting the alarm. But here he was at 6:16 Saturday morning, blinking at the window with the clock in his hands.

A sudden movement beyond the window caught Gordon’s eye. Somebody was emerging from the hedgerow. Or stumbling from the shrubbery. He had no idea what the tangled wall of vegetation abutting the lot next door was called. Whatever it was, there was some person unknown coming through it with no small amount of violence and possibly more determination.

The struggles of the figure in the bush and the steady shaking of the green which resulted were surprising not only because they were unexpected, but also due to the fact that there was a narrow opening in the green mass (large enough for an average size adult to shuffle through sideways as Gordon and Darby proved almost daily) not far from the mysterious flailing figure.

Who was that in there, anyway? It was impossible to say amid the flurry of leaf and limb. Even so something familiar began to suggest itself in the form, finally showing signs of fatigue in the hedge, or shrubbery.

Gordon’s brow slid into a furrow. As he watched, the party in the shrubbery withdrew and the wall of green grew still. Suddenly, he remembered Turtle Rock and Ginny’s journals laid atop it the night before. He glanced at the rock: there was the bag from the grocery, vaguely aglow in the morning light, just where it had been left. Apparently, Rebecca had not come by last night as he assumed she would. He couldn’t believe it was her out there now attacking the hedgerow.

The Bushes shook anew. Gordon looked and nearly gaped to see a bedraggled and clearly irritated Rebecca shuffling sideways through the narrow gap in the hedge. If he had been capable of telepathy at the time, Gordon would have known that Rebecca was primarily annoyed with herself for mistaking that small bare spot on the opposite side of the hedge for the obvious gap that Ginny had so clearly described. And that her hands and arms smarted fiercely from multiple cuts and abrasions suffered while trying to force herself through that bare spot. “I really do hope,” she thought, “that those damn books are there!”

Stepping from the shrubbery, she found herself staring across the yard, through a window, and directly into Gordon’s wide, unblinking eyes. “Oh god,” she thought, recalling the violence she had just inflicted upon the hedge. “I was bustling in the hedgerow!” Her brain instantly selected
Stairway To Heaven from her internal jukebox. “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now!” Robert Plant wailed in her head. She offered Gordon a dim smile across the yard. “He probably thinks I’m the freaking May Queen!” she thought.

In his room, Gordon saw the smile and tried to return it a moment or so before giving up and simply pointing in the direction of Turtle Rock. The rock was plainly visible and he was sure that Ginny would have provided Rebecca more than accurate directions. A second thought, however, and the recollection of the violence in the hedge he wasn’t sure of anything. At least, he hoped, she would know that he was trying to be helpful.

Rebecca, though she could see something of the appeal that Gordon had for Ginny in his dark eyes and slender, lean muscled build, had always been uncomfortable in his presence. Turning in the direction he indicated, she saw the rock – what appeared to be a plastic bag glinting atop – some feet distant. Maybe if she had exchanged more than desultory greetings with him. Or if she’d spoken at all that painful night when Ginny packed up her stuff (except for these journals, apparently) and left him standing at the door.

Stepping toward the rock, she mused upon the obvious as if for the first time: I’m stealing Ginny away from him. He loves her, ostensibly. Of course I feel uncomfortable in his presence! She wondered some times at her own lack of awareness. Since she was small she had been one to focus on details (and abstract details more often than not) at the expense of the bigger picture. She had never faulted herself for this, as she knew that this mode of perception had definite advantages – though, admittedly, they were not always as evident as the disadvantages.

Gordon watched Rebecca making her way to the rock, her blonde curls a bit wild, but not unbecoming, upon her head. He gasped then, and gazed on in helpless horror as she tripped over some unseen obstacle and plummeted to the ground in a painfully slow motion display of
Newton’s first law of motion. Wincing, he saw her denim clad knees and bare hands hit the earth with skin tearing, bone jarring impact. “Ouch!” he thought, and was half-way down the hall to the back door before he realized he was only partially dressed, and that part the top. Running back to his room, he snatched a pair of khaki shorts from an overstuffed drawer, jumped into them and was tumbling down the steps mere seconds later.

Are you ok!? he nearly cried out, realizing only when he ceased his headlong rush that she was gone. So, too, the journals. Turtle Rock hunched there before him, a mute and empty rebuttal to his unasked question. The hedge, or shrubbery, moved not at all in the still and golden air of this fine July morning.


Richard Cody, '05

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Editorial Note

Part seven of The Blue Dog Journal (BDJ) is currently conjuring itself into form in that largely unexplored wilderness known as the back of my mind. I will remind readers that BDJ is very much a work in progress. The narrative goes from my head, to the notebook, and into this space with only Microsoft Word, and a keen if lazy editorial eye, between.


- Blue Dog Journal Cover -

The cover, of course, of the notebook into which the narrative spills hot and fresh from my head.

And the first, rather dog-eared (sense 2) looking, page:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


To sleep
To sleep
I have promises to keep
In Dreamland

These lines presented themselves to Gordon as he lay in bed, his body and mind already submerging in the pre-dream substance of alpha-theta stage consciousness.

He cursed himself, mildly, the next day for not being strong enough to rouse himself from near sleep and write them down; for they were lost, at that time, in the far fields of sleep and quite unattainable, no matter how he strained his memory, as anything but the vague impression of an incomplete fragment of verse. Much later, he would recall the words perfectly and, in finally writing them down, unlock a door that was a metaphor, yes, but also an actual opening from one place to another.

But now he drifted away from language, deeper and deeper into a sleep transcendent of memory where, among other things too strange to recount in this space, he became a turtle among turtles moving en masse beneath a moon-bright sky, something like a song or a prayer filling the air:

we stretched our necks
and legs and feet

the creek fell
from our shells like sleet

patiently up the stone sharp bank

we climbed in silver moonshine
to sing our joy and thank
the one who gave us to the world

she who is more than any other
the eggmother
in prophecy furled

frozen in time and stone
in honor of the ancient pact
to keep the moon from being alone

And whether or not this was actually transmitted through the medium of language or some finer and more subtle means of communication, Gordon (man or turtle) was unable to say. Not the least because the entire incident ( as the lines which had popped into his head at the start of the nights dreaming) was lost beyond the wall of sleep, severed from conscious recollection – to Gordon’s immense annoyance – by the staccato beep of the alarm clock, waking him effectively and quite inexplicably for work at 6:15 Saturday morning.


R.Cody, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Turtle Rock crouched in the shape of its namesake at the edge of what passed for the backyard of 61 Euclid Street, an unkempt and overgrown dash of grass surrounded by tangled thickets of shrubbery; reached from the house by three weathered concrete steps which tumbled from the back door.

Gordon found himself stumbling from the bottom most of these steps and cursing briefly in the dark. The light out here was, apparently, out. A dead bulb? Or had Darby flipped the wrong switch in the back room again? Either way he was definitely in the dark.

Standing a moment with his eyes closed, Gordon listened. Stony Creek babbled in the night just beyond the short reach of the yard. He opened his eyes and found the darkness suffused now with the pale light of moon and stars. There was Turtle Rock, a black lump thickening the dark before him. In his hand, the bag which had carried Darby’s beer home now enclosed Ginny’s journals – doubly protected by their envelope, now clasped shut.

“Throw it in a bag and leave it by Turtle Rock…” she had instructed in her clear, straight hand. “I’ll send Rebecca by to pick up.”

Rebecca was just about the last person he wanted to see, or be seen by, tonight. Blonde curls a golden nimbus around a face shaped like a valentine, complexion clear and pure as the trite and driven snow, brown eyes full of soul and deep as the fertile Earth. And that smile.

Just recalling the perfect golden mean of her features, Gordon could plainly see how and why Rebecca was now enjoying Ginny’s company. He had to admit himself that they were a beautiful couple, natural and complementary in a way that he and Ginny never could be, despite the obvious question of gender. And that, he supposed, was what really hurt.
Possibly. . .

Perhaps it was too soon to say what really hurt the most. Two days ago the thought that he would never again hear her singing in the shower seemed the high and the low of all his sorrow. Before that it had been the distant look in her eyes the night she left, as if she was already long gone and good riddance to him before she even walked out the door.

Moving toward the sound of the creek and the black shape he knew to be Turtle Rock, Gordon felt suddenly chilled. And not for the first time this evening. He puzzled once again over the details of his strange experience in the closet. If it had stopped at the sound of quiet breathing, he might have been inclined to write it off as a trick of his suggestible imagination, inspired by the reading of Ginny’s journal. But the volume and number of knocks, or thumps, was more than he was willing to allow his imagination capable. Darby claimed that he had knocked the door no more than 5 or 6 times but Gordon, though he had certainly not been counting, knew he had heard at least 12 distinct raps. And damn if some portion of that noise didn’t sound just like a dog’s tail knocking the floor.

He stopped before the rock and placed the bag gingerly atop what might be said to resemble the flat and relatively broad expanse of a large turtle’s shell. Suggestible, he thought, I must be.

The sound of the creek trickling through his ears, Gordon turned from Turtle Rock -his last remnants of Ginny laid upon it like a sacrifice - and made his way back through the softly glowing dark to bed.

2005, R. Cody

Friday, June 24, 2005


Upstairs, in the closet, Gordon reached for the light. The space was large and full of corners, but as soon as it was illumined by the bulb at its center his eye fell upon the object of his search: a small, indeterminate bundle upon the top shelf. This seemed to him odd. Not very long before ("4 ½ weeks." the small, quiet voice in his mind piped up, "She's been gone 4 ½ weeks."), he had stood in that exact spot and seen nothing.

On second thought, this was not so odd. He had stood there, after all, for nearly fifteen minutes, to all appearances engaged in a staring contest with the wall. Vacant the closet had seemed because vacant he had been. And was still, he knew; surprisingly so, he was only just beginning to admit to himself, in the wake of Ginny's departure. She had taken something from him, when she packed up and took off with Rebecca, that he had never even known was his. Something that left an immense black hole hovering near the center of his being. Something that he knew now only as an absence.

Gordon cringed to realize he felt dangerously close to the schmaltzy sentiment of some pop ballad from the am radio days of his youth. The melody first and then the lyrics bubbled up, unbidden and unwanted, from the backwaters of his mind:
There's a place in my heart
where you used to be-ee-e
and since you've been gone
it's so empteeeee
Or something like that. My god, he thought, who did that song? Was it Tomorrow's Parties, that progressive folk rock band from New Mexico who'd scored a hit with that song and, Gordon was sure, one other in the early to mid seventies? He hated Tomorrow's Parties. The band, fronted by. . . What was his name? The singer with the long black hair and affected androgyny? Michael Prince III? Was that his name? And The Velvet Underground rip-off which the band claimed was homage.

Gordon shook his head and rubbed his eyes a moment. He was staring at the wall again. Refocusing his attention on the top shelf, he was glad to see the bundle had not vanished. Nor yet, he noted as he moved deeper into the closet and reached for the mysterious bundle, had the spark of curiosity which the first sight of Ginny's note had struck within him. What had she left behind?

It was, he saw, tugging the object to the edge of the shelf, a manila envelope (9 ½ x 12 inches, he guessed) thick with what seemed to be books of some kind. Having been identified, the envelope suddenly fell from the shelf, appearing to pirouette in slow motion through the air before thumping to the floor at his feet; there disclosing a portion of its mystery as a composition book, slim and black, slid (almost ceremoniously, he thought) from the unclasped mouth of the envelope.

Squatting, Gordon picked up the black composition book, read the cover:

Blue Dog Journal
Virginia Jason

This, unmistakably, Ginny's hand - bold, neat strokes of black gel ink. Above and below these two lines:

Composition - Wide Ruled

100 Sheets - 200 Pages

Flipping quickly through the pages, he saw at a glance that the book was full of Ginny's tidy hand - strong black lines crossing page after page of this book and, judging by the shape of what remained in the envelope, possibly another.

She had read, on-line somewhere Gordon thought, about a dog, a blue dog (as in a supernatural hue of blue) that manifested (as she put it) to anybody capable of imagining the dog strongly enough, especially those who managed to capture something of the beast in words or pictures. Ginny had been fascinated by this concept, for a time at least, and often cited a short list of blue dogs culled from the media and general pop culture of the last decade or so. Nobody was surprised when she turned her considerable word-smithing skill to the task of conjuring a dog the color of sky and, no doubt, made of the same.

"Are you sure you even wanna' see this dog?" Gordon had asked. "I mean typically in folk lore and legend dogs are harbingers of woe and all that. Black dogs, at least." He considered a moment. "Maybe a blue dog is a good omen. Maybe you'll come into money soon after it appears to you!"

If Ginny was the sort of person to roll her eyes, she would have done so then. In hindsight, he recognized this as the first of many moments wherein Ginny, by slow degrees, slipped away from him. Such moments accumulated and pushed her farther and farther out of his orbit; until she was gone and all that remained of her was words written on paper.

He flipped the notebook over and let it fall open before him, the back cover unfolding into his right hand, his left thumb marking a page somewhere near the middle of the book. Squatting still in the closet, Gordon read:

February 26, '05 - I wish that I was a competent enough artist to draw the blue dog. I feel sure somehow that if I was capable of getting a decent likeness of the dog down on paper, I would finally get a good look at the damn thing - rather than the shadowy glimpses at the edge of vision and the vague suggestions of the shape of a dog in dark corners, which is all I've seen so far as a result of my feeble and half-articulated attempts at describing the dog with words.
Here the page came to an end. Gordon flipped several pages deeper into the book and read:

. . .occurred to me. Using real places for the focus point of my imagination, I might better realize the dog. Sure enough, while sitting at the counter of The Rolling Bear Cafe just this afternoon, enjoying the chef's salad and black coffee which has been my favorite of late, and after writing only a few lines about the dog sneaking in the back door and sniffing around the kitchen, it happened! Not quite as I had been writing the scene but, nonetheless, at the scene I was writing!

Faint echoes of the crouton I had just eaten crunching through my head, I saw Mel lift her eyes from the register and smile. Somebody was coming through the door and, almost unconscious of what I was doing, I turned to follow Mel's gaze.

The woman entering the cafe, an eerily younger, shorter version of Mel, also smiled. This was the extant of my first impression of what turned out to be Mel's sister, as a movement at the corner of my left eye drew my gaze in that direction. The blue dog, plainly visible through the cafe's large plate glass windows, paced unaccountably back and forth upon the concrete walkway between door and parking lot.

"Baby!" Mel exclaimed from the register and the blue dog stopped its pacing, turned and looked directly at me with what might have been a smile from where I sat. Maybe a scowl from someone else's seat.

In broad daylight, for a single shining moment, the dog ( a hound of medium, though scrawny build and of a blue that can only be described as cerulean) sat regarding me!

The page ended and Gordon, certain that Ginny had never told him of this particular incident, quickly turned to the next:
Suddenly, Mel and her sister (as I was soon to learn) were hugging and laughing and crying in the middle of the cafe, and my eyes were drawn, despite myself, to their commotion. Of course, when my gaze darted back to the window a moment later, the dog was gone.
A shuffling movement from the room beyond the closet (Ginny's room, formerly) reached Gordon's ear. His head jerked up and he stuffed the journal back into the envelope with a speed that was almost guilty.

"Darby?" he queried the still air.

Neither Darby nor the still air responded. But there did come a sound which crept up Gordon's spine in the form of goose bumps and scared the hair straight up from the back of his neck: a steady, quiet panting right outside the door.

Gordon rose to his feet, regarded the door warily. Cocking his head, he realized with a shudder that it sounded like a dog he had loved as a child. Bounder, that brave mutt who had once (really!) pulled him by the seat of his pants from a burning automobile. Bounder, whose whip like tail would thump an impatient rhythm on the floor as he sat eyeing his dinner preparations. But Bounder was long dead.

A sudden thump, thump, thumping - somewhere just beyond the frame of the doorway - leapt to Gordon's ears. He opened his eyes wide and whispered, "What the. . . "

Gordon’s brow furrowed.


Then, from a muffled distance, a voice. "Gordon, Goddamnit! Open up! I lost my fuckin' keys!"

Emerging from the closet, Gordon surveyed the room: empty. No panting dogs. No tails wagging or otherwise.

thump thump

"Gordon, Man, you in there?"

2005, R. Cody

Thursday, June 09, 2005


The evening had deepened as Gordon stood delayed at the register. The sky, a lustrous indigo punctuated by stars, unfolded above him as he exited at last The Corner Store. Darby's beer hung from his left hand; his right fished for the house key in his pocket. Who knows, he mused, maybe I'll have some need to know what graham crackers are made of before the night is through. After all, anything is possible - as Gordon's childhood pal, Buddy, had once malapropized - in this infamous universe.

Euclid Street passed beneath his feet in alternating stretches of shadowy concrete and jaundiced sodium light; the latter spilling from the high, night begrimed bulbs of street lamps tall, thin and increasingly few and far between as The Corner Store grew dim behind him. 61 Euclid St. - the address he currently shared with Darby and, formerly, Ginny - faded into sight.

The porch light was on, a small and naked bulb bravely shining all 25 of its watts at the big night. The motion detector at the front door had been tripped, apparently, at some point during the past 5 minutes. A cat had set it off, no doubt. Maybe a raccoon.

But at this quickly diminishing distance Gordon could see that nothing so ordinary had triggered the light. There was a small square, of paper perhaps, outlined faintly against the door where none had been before. Drawing closer, curiosity driving him now instead of entropy, he saw that it was, in fact, a note - a pale blue
Post-It stuck to the door with a lick of Scotch tape. And recently, too, as the light had not yet timed out.

Creaking up the porch steps, Gordon saw his own name on the paper. The familiar hand - bold, precise lines defining each word - was hardly a surprise after his identification of the Post-It, itself. Ginny was never without at least one pad of the sticky notes in her bag, her pockets, even her socks on one occasion as Gordon recalled, a rather wistful grin playing for a moment between his mouth and eyes.

Gordon (he read)

Just as well you're not home, I'm sure. I came for some
stuff, personal, upstairs in the closet. Do us both a favor - throw it in a bag and leave it by Turtle Rock 'round back. I'll send Rebecca by to pick up.

Be well,


Entropy reasserted its inexorable hold upon him. But not before he stole a few anxious, hopeful, glances around the porch and surrounding yard, dimly illumined at the edge of the feeble light. Of course she was gone. And not unlike many instances from their seven months together, he had missed her by only a matter of moments.

Tearing the note from the door, he read it a second time. Just as well, indeed, he thought. What would he have done, what might he have said, had they chanced to meet at the front gate, the night coming down around them?

Gordon sighed, stuffed the note into his pocket. As he pulled his key out around the crumpled blue paper, the dim bulb above his head clicked abruptly off. . .


2005, Richard Cody

Saturday, May 28, 2005


In hindsight, many years later, Gordon realized that the old lady at The Corner Store had been an agent of fate. At this particular moment, however, he mistook her for just another annoyance in a day full of them.

"And you're sure no dolphins were victimized?" This was the third time she had asked this question. She gazed up at the cashier with gray and vaguely expectant eyes.

Behind the counter, he sighed and smoothed his red apron with a restless hand. "Miss," he said, with astonishing equanamity, "I can call the manager to confirm this for you, if you like, but I know for a fact that no sea mammals of any kind were harmed in the production of this product."

The restless hand removed a box of graham crackers from the rubber conveyor belt. "Shall I read the ingredients one more time for you?" A large, hirsute finger tapped the side of the box.

"Would you mind?" came the inevitable reply.

Gordon, in line behind this amazing exchange for the duration, tapped his own figers unconsciously along the tops of Darby's six pack. I would mind, he thought, very much.

Clearing his throat, the cashier began to read. . .


Richard Cody, 2005

Saturday, May 21, 2005


It was a day like any other, which is to say it was like all the rest. Dull and flat and interminable, it extended weeks into the past, an uninterrupted line of gray static. No, thought Gordon, counting down the days beneath the long limbed and golden ladies of July, more like a pile or a mountain. Yes, a mountain of days dull as stone piling atop his shoulders. Heavy. Suffocating. Precarious.

Considering a moment the ladies of July - three of them, bronzed goddesses of flesh and silicone and shiny blonde hair posed achingly on a beach somewhere in Southern California - he wondered what it might be like to have them piled atop him.

He dismissed the thought almost at once as lewd, beneath him. No matter he had spent most of his teenage years desperately spilling his seed to just such glossy distortions of woman.

"You wankin' off, Gord?" Darby piped up from his desk adjacent. "What about that fax, man?"

Gordon realized that the printer had finally spat out the last of an 18 pager. He shuffled the pages together and read the senders name.

"It's Hanley again." he said, looking from the calendar to the clock, "And hell if it isn't 10 minutes to 5." Gordon was beyond irritated at the thought of staying late because of that crazy old man.

Ah, but this whole business was crazy, wasn’t it? He and Darby being paid $18.00 an hour, each, to sit in this stuffy office - affectionately called, The Stall - day after day receiving faxes from every loony in a five hundred mile radius; to enter manually (aka type) the content of those faxes into a database already bursting with weird tales of hypnogogic revelation, trans-dimensional entities, magical workings, UFOs and other such occult ephemera.  The questionable content of those faxes aside, it was insane because even a non-business man like Gordon could see that the operation, whatever its obscure goal, could be streamlined in so many ways. But the owner, the woman who had almost been his mother-in-law, strange old Emma Jason, was determined to keep The Stall running just as her father had.

In any case, it was just too typical of Hanley to send in a multi-pager ten minutes before they killed the lines and locked the door.

"Get outta' here, Gord. I'll take it this time."

Damn, that Darby could be such a . . . fucker (Ginny always insisted he was a putz) but then he'd surprise you and do something not only unexpected but nice.

"Thanks, Darby." he turned from the printer and The Ladies of July (already 28 days old) and reached Darby the fax. "You're a saint."

"Nah. . ." Darby grunted and grabbed the crisp pages. "I just get a kick outta' old man Hanley's crazy vernacular!"

Gordon reflected on his co-workers more often than not "colorful" lexicon. Darby spoke a form of English that was dyed, stained and painted with expletives in rainbow shades. Not that this fact detracted in any way from Darby's observation. Jed Hanley lived just 20 miles outside of town ( in an isolated farm house known locally as The Bone Museum because of the former tenant's use of the place, and its overgrown acreage, as a burial ground for more than 20 young victims) but he might just as well have been faxing transcripts to them from another planet.

Not a native Californian, as he was fond of pointing out, Hanley hailed, as he said: "From some 'ere 'round about Dunwich country, back East."

Darby snorted. "Get a load of this," he said, studying the transcript and putting on his best quotation voice:

"Gentlemen (if you be in gentlemanly moods. If not the joke is on me),

Since our last correspondence I have been plagued sore by fears of
misapprehension. We are each of us in accord, as I believe it, with the facts and the assumptions concerning that experiential state known by the shuffling masses as "reality". It is, if you take my meaning, a sponge-cake. If my meaning is not taken, then the joke is on you.

Of course, being the wise gentlemen we imagine ourselves to be, sure of our respective places on this tiny planet rotating around a dimly glowing star in the backwash of a galaxy like a grain of sand, we know that there is indeed a joke of cosmic proportions being perpetrated upon us, each and every one. The horror of our situation is, there is no punch line."

A moment of silence followed as Darby scanned the remaining pages. "Goes on like this for another seventeen and one fucking half pages!" he exclaimed. "You better get outta' here before I hand this thing back!"

Gordon knew that Darby was half-joking at best. Switching the 'phone and fax lines over to night with a practiced hand, he gathered his bag up from under his desk and slung it over his shoulder. "You don't have to tell me twice."

Darby grunted. "I wasn't gonna'."

"I know." Gordon smiled and made his way between the short rows of desks to the door. Darby's voice, rising from afterthought behind, chased him over the threshold and into the softly gathering blue of the late summer evening. "Pick me up a sixer, huh Gord?" I'll pay ya' when I get home!"