Tuesday, September 17, 2019

the runaways


by bofa xesjum




betty brown was the prettiest girl in littletown.

everybody liked her.

she had a very nice smile.

and a kind heart, especially for cats and dogs and raccoons.

her grandmother taught her to bake pies and cakes and cupcakes.

she liked lemonade, especially in the summertime.

miss quinlan, the drama teacher at the high school, encouraged betty to try out for the lead part in the school play.


melissa jones also tried out for the part.

you can just guess what happened next.

it was kind of inevitable.

when miss quinlan chose betty for the part over melissa, melissa’s friends were outraged.

betty herself was surprised, as melissa was a passionate student of the drama, and she, betty , had only tried out in order to humor miss quinlan, and betty conceded that melissa much the better actress.


in vain did miss quinlan try to pour oil on the waters by pointing out that melissa’s part - of the dominating matriarch - was the real lead - and that betty was only the ingenue.

melissa’s supporters were having none of it, and neither was melissa.

betty offered to give up the part to melissa, if she “really wanted it that bad.”

this was not good enough for melissa and her friends, or for melissa’s staunchest supporter - her mother.


melissa’s mother let it be known that she had demanded that the school fire miss quinlan, and perhaps put the little schemer betty on some sort of probation.

my, my, mrs henderson, the school principal exclamed to mr filson, the assistant principal, i thought we only had these kind of problems with the cheerleaders.

it’s all very strange, mr filson agreed. i don’t know what this world is coming to.


i have an idea, mrs henderson said to mr filson.

how do you mean? mr filson replied absently.

let us forego our dreary existences in this turgid backwater, and run away and join the circus.

mr filson stopped doing his crossword puzzle.

is that possible in this day and age? he asked mrs henderson.

what day and age might that be? mrs henderson retorted. as far as i am concerned it is always the year zero.


be that as it may, mr filson said, i don’t think my wife would be too happy about it.

my understanding is that she would be overjoyed to see you go.

do you really think so?

i know so. she expressly told me so herself.

and so mrs henderson and mr filson ran away and joined the circus.


they worked up a most excellent knife throwing act, combining laughs and thrills in equal measure.

mrs henderson threw the knives, and got most of the good lines, wth mr filson being the straight man.

sometimes in the winter, or when the circus business was slow, they did their act on the stage, usually third or fourth bill.


one night ,in joplin missouri, they were on the bill with a singing and comedy act called ma johnson and her two lovely daughters.

imagine their amazement when ma johnson turned out to be none other than miss quinlan, and her two lovely daughters were betty brown and melissa jones!

how about that?

it just goes to show you that you never know.

the fivesome had a great time swapping yarns and badmouthing the squares back in littletown, before it was time for ma johnson and her two lovely daughters to go on.

they knocked them dead.

because that’s show biz!




Friday, September 13, 2019

benny and his neighbors


by bofa xesjum



benny had no friends, but he was far from alone in the world.

he lived in a big building, in a large city.

benny needed four things to survive - oxygen, water, a certain level of warmth, and protein - and he was provided with all four.

unlike many other inhabitants of the building and the city, benny was grateful for being provided with these four things. this attitude earned him the contempt of many of his fellow creatures, but others were contemptuous of him for other reasons as well.

when he was not sleeping, enjoying warmth, or ingesting water or protein, benny spent much of his time developing elaborate card or board games, that neither he nor anybody else would ever play.

benny’s room was in one of the central corridors of the building, and as such, he had a total of six neighbors.

adrian lived in the room on benny’s left. he collected crimean war action figures, and had no friends.

clyde lived on the room on benny’s right. he wrote haikus, and had one friend - darrell, who lived in the room on his, clyde’s, right, i e, two doors down from benny.

the corridors ran from east to west, and earl lived in the room across from benny on the north side of the building. earl lifted weights, and he had one friend, chester, who lived in the room above him, and also lifted weights.


frank lived across from benny on the south side. he was interested in old time american football, and he was writing a book about red grange, in which he argued passionately - and with a wealth of metrics and statistics - that red grange and jim thorpe and bronco nagurski were better running backs than jim brown or o j simpson. frank had no friends.


gustave lived in the room above benny. he painted watercolors and he had two friends, eduardo and horatio, who lived in the rooms to the left and right of him.

hank lived in the room below benny. he had no friends, and he professed to enjoy action-packed spy novels and to attempt to write them himself. he was actually an agent of the commission, charged with spying on, and reporting on, his neighbors.

all the inhabitants of the building were classified as omicron males. as such, they were allowed no contact with females of any class, although they were eligible to apply for reclassification to upsilon males, where they would be allowed some contact with some classes of females, under the strictest supervision.

omicron males were regarded as having a low probability for violence, and as such were allowed to socialize in a lounge, or common area, for two hours every evening, where they could attempt to upgrade their classification by making friends.

any inhabitant found guilty of violent behavior was permanently reclasssified as a rho male, and exiled to another city, on another planet, along with the zetas - males who had exhibited violent tendencies or actions against females- and the omegas, the completely hopeless ones.


omicon males, if they accrued three friend points, could apply for reclassification to upsilon males, where, as noted above, they could have some contact with females, or they could be reclassified to chi males, with access to more extensive exercise facilities, and to team sports.

they could make as many friends as they wished, but friend points only counted when friends were made with neighbors. most inhabitants, like benny, had six neighbors, but it was possible to have as few as three.


however, most of the inhabitants in benny’s building evinced no interest in advancing to either upsilon or chi status, and the lounge was almost never crowded.

most of those who did frequent the lounge did so out of boredom or restlessness or for reasons they could not articulate.

one night, after a somewhat frustrating day with a game he was trying to develop involving prime numbers, benny went down to the lounge.


there, the only person he encountered was hank.

despite the outward appearance of placidity, and the lack of violent incident, the building was a seething hive of resentment and long-simmerimg fantasies of rebellion.

it was hank’s job to ferret out these wisps of smoldering revolution, such as they were.

somewhat surprisingly, on this occasion benny began the conversation.


how is your new hard-hitting action-packed spy novel going? benny asked hank.

very well, thank you, hank replied. i wish i could say as much for the protein we were served this morning.

protein is protein, benny answered.

i thought the water had a funny taste too, hank persisted.


maybe some dragons from the andromeda galaxy poured some unnameable substance into it, benny replied with a smile, and some hard-hitting secret agent men can track them down.

make a joke if you like, hank replied with a smile of his own, but some people really have expressed some complaint with the quality of the water, and with the quality of the oxygen too.

no, said benny, the only real complaint they have is with existence itself, and with its infinite mystery and sadness, which we wander through even as the neaderthals did, under the laughing eyes of a trillion stars.



Wednesday, September 11, 2019