January 30, 2006

NaNoWri... Mo chapters fo you

It's time for Chapters 7 and 8 (in the extended entry).

Enjoy and leave feedback, especially your suggestions for a title. On the first of February I'll pick some of the best and we'll have a contest to name the story.

And for those playing catch up:

Chapters 1 and 2.
Chapters 3 and 4.
Chapters 5 and 6.

Chapter 7.

Every day after school, Autumn and I would go to her house to feed the animals. The only change in that routine was on Tuesday when we weren’t allowed on the property. A police truck covered with antennas was parked out front, and occasionally someone in a lab coat would appear from the front door of the house, enter the van, and eventually return to the house, often carrying some obscure piece of equipment. The patrolman out front (who we saw most every day) wouldn’t say specifically what was happening, but did let out that everything was going downstairs into the cellar where Granddad had been kept.

After taking care of the animals, Autumn would visit her mother in jail. I walked her to the station, but they had both made it clear that I was in the way during the visits themselves. Usually I headed home to do chores or otherwise occupy myself until dinner. I had never had many friends, and since this had all happened even the guys in the gang avoided me. The story had gotten out around town, spread like wildfire and without guilt because it involved our two families, both outsiders within the local social structure. The fact that it was us and the Crisp’s only made perfect sense to the townsfolk who just knew that we’d all come to no good end.

Even Autumn had withdrawn again. I could understand that, I think, because of the stress she was going through, and as bad as it was for me and my mom, it was a hundred times worse for her and Mrs. Crisp. Still, the increasing distance between us hurt, though I tried to be patient.

One Saturday, while running an errand for Mom, I rounded a corner downtown and came up behind a fair sized crowd of people. I stood at the back, trying to see what the commotion was, and then someone up front held up a ZAPT poster. I gathered that this one, and a few others, had been nailed up during the night in various places, and the townsfolk were rather unhappy about this disruption in their quiet lives. I was beginning to think that I should slip quietly away when I spied someone sneaking down the alleyway, as if making their escape from some clandestine observation of the crowd. I recognized the figure as Mr. Brown, and I froze in wonder at seeing him again after all this time. He quickly turned the corner at the back of the alley and disappeared from my line of sight.

Just then, I was spotted by someone at the front of the crowd, and because I was connected (no matter how tenuously) to the zombie situation and now the appearance of ZAPT literature, there was a general hue and cry to detain me so as to determine how much I knew of the present circumstances. Before anyone could grab a firm hold, I reversed course and escaped down the street, rapidly outdistancing the few who thought to give halfhearted chase.

I slowed down when I turned onto my street, and saw a police car pulled up in front of our house. Officer Ossie was leaning against the hood of his car, and told me that my mom had said I’d be back shortly so he decided to wait. He had news about the ongoing investigation. The young punk in jail that night had been a drifter who’d been escorted to the county line the following Monday and told not to come back. Mr. Brown had apparently left town after checking out from our boarding house, at which I blurted out my news that I’d just seen Mr. Brown downtown.

After asking me to repeat that, and making sure that I was sure of what I saw, Officer Ossie asked me several questions about the surrounding circumstances. At my telling of the crowd and the ZAPT flyer, the policeman reached inside his car and pulled out the twin of the one I’d seen earlier. I confirmed that it was the same one, and he told me that several of these had been posted recently. The authorities were more confused than concerned about their appearance, because our town was far from fertile ground for recruiting if that was their intention.

Other than that, he couldn’t tell me much. He didn’t know how much longer Mrs. Crisp would be held, but it didn’t seem like they were inclined to extend her detention. The last of the recently injured parties, my classmate William, was also cleared when his injuries were determined to be unrelated in any way to the vandalism at the research facility. Before driving away, Officer Ossie promised to look into the reappearance of Mr. Brown and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.

After dinner, Autumn asked me to go for a walk with her. After the events of that afternoon, I steered us away from the town center and explained to her why, warning her to be careful and aware of her surroundings. I also told her that I’d seen Mr. Brown, which I thought might surprise her, but there was no reaction. Instead, she asked me what I knew about Ms. Halliday.

Somewhat taken aback by the question, I admitted that I didn’t know her very well but that I did like her a lot. Autumn went on to explain that she’d become suspicious of Ms. Halliday. Coming out of the police station after a difficult exchange with her mother one afternoon, Autumn had begun to aimlessly walk while she tried to get her thoughts in order. At one point, she was surprised to see Ms. Halliday coming out of a certain business, one which Autumn would not think someone like Ms. Halliday would ever visit. When I asked which business, Autumn wouldn’t tell me, because she didn’t want the police to direct attention to the owners, who were friends of Mrs. Crisp. While it was true that I wouldn’t think twice about passing the information on to Officer Ossie, I’d be doing so in the spirit of trying to help, and all Autumn would have to do is ask me not to repeat it and the secret would be safe with me. Still, it hurt to learn that Autumn didn’t trust me.

Ms. Halliday hadn’t seen Autumn, and as she hurried down the street in the opposite direction, Autumn had casually followed, mildly curious about where she was going. After several blocks, Ms. Halliday had stopped for a coffee from a sidewalk pushcart. Autumn had been startled to see Ms. Halliday greet another customer as if they were old friends, and they walked down the street arm in arm, sipping coffee and talking animatedly. Her old friend was none other than Mr. Brown.

After that, Autumn had taken to watching Ms. Halliday more closely. In the mornings, she had taken note of the kinds of newspaper stories that Ms. Halliday paid the most attention to, and that they were almost always about animals in one way or another. I countered that in our area that shouldn’t be surprising because of the surrounding farms, not to mention the research lab, animals were not only common, but vital to local livelihoods. It was inevitable that the newspaper would be full of animal news. I think I remembered reading once that we had more veterinarians than human doctors.

But her connection to Mr. Brown, well, that was another matter. She had made a point of showing her dislike for the man while he was staying with us, and now, to meet with and act like best buds was odd indeed.

Autumn and I decided that we should follow Mrs. Halliday. The police didn’t seem to be in any rush to solve Granddad’s kidnapping, and in fact went out of their way to call it a vandalism, as if stealing two zombies wasn’t really a crime. We figured that it left matters up to us.

As if she knew our plans, Ms. Halliday stayed close around our house for the next few days. She claimed to not be feeling well, and took only tea and toast at mealtimes, otherwise sitting quietly in the front room and reading in front of the fire.

School was entering that odd stretch before the holidays when classes started to wind down, when teachers gave up hope of actually teaching kids whose main preoccupation was counting down the days until the Christmas break started. The days were crisp and nippy and the temperatures at night were actually cold for the first time since last winter. When we walked together to school in the mornings, our breath came out in silvery plumes, as if we’d metamorphosed overnight into mythical fire-breathing creatures.

Autumn and I continued to visit her animals every day to feed and water them, after which I walked with her to the jail. I still wasn’t welcome as her and her mom visited, so mostly I walked around the neighborhoods. I noticed a few more ZAPT flyers around town, as many torn down and tossed into the gutter as still remained nailed to poles. People seemed to have calmed down about them, and the most common reaction to them that I saw was an automatic ripping down and discarding. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone actually reading one.

On Saturday, Autumn and I exchanged glances over lunch as Ms. Halliday swept into the dining room and announced that she’d been cooped up too long inside. We hurried through the rest of our food, made excuses and then hustled outside ahead of Ms. Halliday so that we could watch out for which direction she headed. When she emerged from the house, we casually watched her until she turned the corner at the head of our street.

We tore down the sidewalk to the corner, for Ms. Halliday was headed for downtown. It would be easy to lose her in the bustle of the day, so we stayed as close as we dared and followed her as she walked.

She stopped several times at various shops and stores, coming out twice with small packages that she carried along as she strolled. She never noticed us, but it seemed to me that she was merely out to take the fresh air after her convalesce.

We were almost caught out when from behind us a booming voice sounded, calling Ms. Halliday’s name. Without hesitation, Autumn grabbed my arm and we stepped through the nearest doorway, finding ourselves in a confectioner’s shop. With a smile and nod to the shopkeeper, we moved to the back of the store (pretending to look at the penny candy) and watched as Mr. Brown hurried by the front window, apparently the source of the hail and now heading toward a waiting Ms. Halliday.

A minute later Autumn and I emerged, each with a peppermint stick, and turned away from our previous direction, as Mr. Brown and Ms. Halliday were standing not a block away, in animated conversation. We tried to act casual as we strolled towards the corner, and as we turned there I could hear Ms. Halliday’s laugh carry on the breeze.

Still wanting to keep up our surveillance, Autumn and I hurried to the next block and turned up it, paralleling our former route. At the next corner, we carefully peered around an edge of the building and saw that our two subjects had moved on.

We found them continuing on the way that Ms. Halliday had been originally following. They walked for several blocks together, and then with a tip of his hat, Mr. Brown split off and headed down a side street. According to our plan, Autumn would stay with Ms. Halliday while I followed Mr. Brown, so we agreed to exchange information after dinner and – with a sweet kiss for luck, parted ways.

It was an interesting trip. Mr. Brown never stayed for long in any one place. He would meet up with someone on a street corner, talk for a few minutes, and then be on his way. Occasionally he would disappear into a small shop or business, and once he came back out with a parcel in his arms. At his next stop, he opened the parcel and handed a stack of papers to the woman he was meeting with. She accepted the papers, and then immediately moved off down an alley. Repeating this act several more times, Mr. Brown quickly depleted his supply of papers, and he finally crumpled up the parcel packaging and tossed it into a dumpster as he walked by.

Thinking that it could be a clue worth retrieving, I waited impatiently until he turned a corner, and then climbed into the trash bin. Grabbing the packaging, I quickly scrambled back out, and after flattening it enough to read the label, folded it up and stashed it under the back of my jacket.

I rushed to the corner to resume tailing Mr. Brown, but when I got there he was already gone. I’d lost him.

After dinner that evening, Autumn and I compared notes. She hadn’t had any better luck than I, managing to follow Ms. Halliday on a long walk into the countryside outside of town where she lost sight of her as she crossed a field. Autumn said it was very peculiar how she disappeared, and her only explanation was that Ms. Halliday had hiked into a copse of trees. Ms. Halliday had returned to the house in time for dinner, which caused us to have to wait to speak together until we were both near to bursting with curiosity about what news the other had.

When I showed Autumn the parcel paper I’d salvaged from the dumpster, she studied it carefully and pronounced herself impressed with my sleuthing skills. Although I had no proof, I believed that the parcel had contained more ZAPT fliers to be distributed around town. Believing that, I thought we should tell all of this to Officer Ossie in the morning, but Autumn rightly pointed out that as of this moment, our evidence consisted of a torn parcel package and witnessing that Mr. Brown and Ms. Halliday each took a walk about the town and talked to some people. I had to agree with her assessment.

Autumn left early on Sunday morning to visit with Mrs. Crisp in jail. She came back with lifted spirits, because Mrs. Crisp had reliable word that she would be released sometime during the upcoming week.

That afternoon, when Ms. Halliday left the house we were waiting once more, and began to tail her. This time, there was no wandering stroll, she walked as if she had a destination in mind and made her way directly towards it. Autumn and I weren’t surprised when Mr. Brown made an appearance, and this time he and Ms. Halliday strode arm-in-arm towards the park. They walked along the path by the lake, deep in conversation, and after a half hour or so they once again split up. Autumn gave me a quick kiss and headed after Ms. Halliday.

Mr. Brown’s destination turned out to be a long low warehouse in one of the old industrial blocks. As he entered, I heard a snatch of music, and after a short while I took a chance and walked past the door. A small sign over the green-painted door identified the place as the “Happy Frog Social Club� while another, smaller sign near the doorknob only said “ribbit�.

Finding an alleyway across the street with a reasonably good view of the door, I settled in to wait for Mr. Brown. I figured I could give him an hour, maybe an hour and a half, before I’d have to head for home myself.

Boredom was beginning to set in when the door at the Happy Frog opened up and three people emerged. There were two men and a woman, all in various stages of intoxication. One of the men was talking loudly with anger in his voice, while the other man tried to calm him down. The woman leaned against the wall and listened to the other two for a few moments before finally standing straight (with some difficulty), grabbing the angry man by the collar, and kissing him. This amused the other man to no end, and I could hear his hearty laughter clearly from my vantage point.

I could hear, that is, until my heart almost stopped in my chest when a heavy hand clamped onto my shoulder from behind.

I felt myself being spun around, shaken roughly, and then pushed into the wall across the alleyway. I twisted in my captor’s grip, and came face to face with Mr. Brown himself. He looked me up and down with a sneer on his face and asked me why I had been following him. I wasn’t prepared with a convincing alibi, so I made up something incoherent about finding some belongings of his at the boarding house after he left and wanting to get in touch with him to return his property.

Mr. Brown shook me again, his grip on my shoulder like a vice, and told me that I was a pitiful liar, which spoke good of my character, but didn’t help much in the situation that I found myself in. He whistled loudly, once, and the three people from across the street appeared almost instantly at the mouth of the alley. Mr. Brown thrust me forward so as to give them a good look at me (and me them!) and told them that if they were to ever see me again in this neighborhood, that they were to hold me until Mr. Brown could be summoned. Looking straight into my eyes, his breath hot on my face, Mr. Brown let me know that if I were caught sneaking about again, that I would find myself the recipient of a long, slow, thorough and thoroughly painful beating.

With those words, he threw me down to the ground, and without a backward glance headed back across the street with his companions. Their laughter mocked me, and I couldn’t think of anything else to do but pick myself up, brush the worst of the dirt from my clothes, and head for home.

Autumn was waiting for me when I got home, and she was pretty shaken up when I told her what had happened during my encounter with Mr. Brown. After making sure I was all right, she asked what I thought we should do about him, but I really didn’t have an answer. Her day following Ms. Halliday ended like the previous one, where Ms. Halliday seemingly disappeared in the middle of a clear field. Autumn had thought about going closer to investigate, but decided that we two should go together instead, just in case there was a problem.

Our visit to the disappearing field (as I thought of it) was put off indefinitely because on Monday morning Mrs. Crisp was released from jail. The police were forced to admit that they didn’t have any supporting evidence for the original charges, nor were the investigations turning up any promising leads. As happy as Autumn was at this turn of events, it still wasn’t all peaches and cream, because Granddad was still missing. Well, that and the fact that somebody tried to kill me.

Chapter 8.

As usual, our police department decided that the attempted murder looked like an accident, although from my point of view it was pretty obviously not. I was quickly losing faith in their ability to accomplish anything at all besides keeping the peace by denying that anything ever happened.

We had been sitting in class, listening to the teacher, Mr. Button explain an upcoming assignment when someone slipped a note under the classroom door. Frowning at this interruption of his routine, Mr. Button picked up the note and went back to talking. Waving his hands in front of him to make a point as he spoke, he seemed startled to find himself holding the page, as if he’d forgotten that he’d picked it up. Knowing Mr. Button, that’s probably exactly what happened.

With a brief “excuse me�, he scanned the paper and, looking up, called on me to come up. Handing the note over without explanation, Mr. Button went back to his lecture. Looking it over, I saw that I was to immediately report to woodshop, presumably to meet with the shop teacher, Mr. Franks. Since it was nearing the end of the period, I grabbed my books and, assuring Mr. Button that I was clear on the assignment, headed for the shop building.

When I got there, there was nobody in the classroom part of the shop because there was no shop class that period. I called out for Mr. Franks, but didn’t get an answering reply. Thinking he might be in the back, I went through the shop full of tools, and then past the shelves where the projects in progress were kept. Still not seeing the teacher, I went into the room where the lumber was stored.

As soon as I entered, a two-by-four came tilting towards me out of the gloom and cracked me right smack in the middle of the forehead. I tumbled backwards out of the doorway, landing on my back as the entire shelf of heavy lumber crashed down right where I’d been standing just a second before.

I lay there, seeing stars and feeling very disoriented, trying to figure out what had just happened. I heard the door open and a few minutes later Mr. Franks found us laying there, and by us I mean me and the large ugly bump growing on my noggin.

Before long I was surrounded by people. The school nurse was looking me over and recommending that a doctor be called. The Principal was in conversation with Mr. Franks, in turn demanding to know what I had been doing there and how in the world all of that wood had come crashing down. Listening to them, I began to realize that I’d had a very close call. When the Principal asked me directly about why I was wandering about the shop classroom, I explained that I’d been given permission by Mr. Button because of the note that had been delivered to his classroom. The principal asked to see the note, and I couldn’t find it. It had been in my hand, and I must have dropped it when I fell. Mr. Franks and the principal looked all over for the missing note, but there was no trace of it. The only reason that they believed me at all was because Mr. Button corroborated my story, namely, that a note requesting my presence in the shop classroom had been delivered and so he had sent me.

The missing note could have been lying under the stacks of lumber, but it wasn’t. I asked Mr. Franks about it after they’d gotten everything cleaned up and put away. The police ignored the missing note and also ignored the fact that I’d been purposely sent to the shop class for no discernable reason. Their conclusion was that I had been very lucky that I hadn’t been crushed when the rack of lumber accidentally collapsed just as I was walking under it. How coincidental of me.

I was given the rest of the week off, mostly because I’d frighten people with the monstrous bruise on my forehead. I was still getting the occasional dizzy spells, but the doctor said that that was normal and that I shouldn’t worry about them. They should go away on their own in a week or so. I couldn’t read much because of the splitting headache that was my constant companion, but I could think.

I really had no idea who would have wanted to kill me except for Mr. Brown and ZAPT. That didn’t entirely make sense though, because Mr. Brown had me at his mercy in a completely unobserved place, and nobody knew my whereabouts at the time. If he’d have wanted to kill me, he certainly had had his chance. Then again, maybe he didn’t want to be too closely connected to my death, and instead ordered someone else to take care of it without telling him. That might provide him an alibi with the police.

One thing the attempt did was make me more aware of my surroundings. I was determined not to be caught unawares again. The first time that happened, I’d been baldly threatened, and the second time I’d only escaped through dumb luck. I was mad now, and promised myself that somehow and someday I’d get even.

But that had all happened on Wednesday, and on the Monday before Mrs. Crisp had been released. Autumn had packed her things that afternoon after school and I helped take her bags back to her house. It was almost odd seeing their house without the uniformed officer on the sidewalk out front and without all of the flagging tape draped around everything. Mrs. Crisp greeted me nicely and thanked me for taking care of Autumn and made sure that I’d tell my Mom thank you as well. Mrs. Crisp didn’t invite me in, so I left, figuring that she and Autumn had a lot of together time to catch up on.

On Tuesday at school Autumn told me that her and her mom were headed out to the research facility to talk to the doctors about Granddad and the kidnapping investigation. Once again, I wasn’t invited and Autumn said she’d see me Wednesday morning at school.

Early Wednesday – forevermore known as “the day the tree fell on me� – Autumn told me that the doctors couldn’t provide any new information about the kidnapping, not even of the vandalism of the research center. They were as frustrated with the police as we were, because not only wasn’t there any progress to report, but there seemed to be little actual effort being made.

I was surprised and more than a little hurt when Autumn didn’t stop by to see me on Thursday, but I did get a surprise visit from Officer Ossie. To say I was less than enthusiastic about his visit would be an understatement. He seemed to understand my low opinion of our law enforcement, and filled me in on the ongoing investigations. There wasn’t much to tell, and after giving me the standard “nothing really to report�, he hesitated, and then seeming to make up his mind, started again.

First, Officer Ossie asked me to please keep the rest of the information confidential. He was going to tell me something only because the department believed that the information would become public knowledge very shortly, so having a slight jump on Joe Citizen wouldn’t hurt matters. Apparently, unpleasant things were about to hit the fan.

Yesterday afternoon, while all of my personal excitement was going on, Mrs. Crisp had noticed a new flyer posted on a utility pole on her street. Being curious, she took a closer look and discovered that the flyer had been hung up with a large spike, and the spike held not only the flyer, but was driven through the palm of a dismembered hand. It was, presumably, the hand of a zombie.

Posted by Ted at 11:35 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
Category: Zombies of Autumn

January 29, 2006

Partial Explanation

So, where the hell have I been? I can hear you asking, or maybe it's just the voices. It's partly complicated, and partly work-related, and partly none of your business (which I realize goes completely contrary to my blogging style, but oh well).

Work related part: If you've gotten your W2's or 1099's already, then find the person responsibile for it in your universe and hug them or buy them lunch, for they probably worked their asses off to get it done. Trust me on this one.

Complicated part: I have claimed the small bedroom upstairs as my own. It was originally my son's bedroom, and then became the sewing room when he left home. When the girls flew the coop left the next, Mom took the big bedroom as her sewing room and the small room became the guest room. Screw that. Guests can sleep on the floor.

The room has been renamed the "North Den" and I'm in the process of moving in. So far it contains an ultra-comfortable couch/hideabed, a large television with DVD and VCR, bookshelves, and my entire collection of cinematic masterpieces.

What it does not contain is a PC, although I tried this weekend to remedy that, but the *#^@&!!! wireless refuses to detect our network. One possible solution is to move the PC into a corner of the sewing room where there is a wired connection to our network. Less than optimal, but not terrible.

I've also been experiencing some wrist pain, ala early warning signs of the dreaded carpal tunnel. I've cut back on my computer time, which means surf time at home because my profession means mucho working with at the office. I have a new wrist brace, which is working well. I'm considering dying it black and adding chrome studs. Or maybe I'll just claim excessive masturbation due to a viagra addiction. Either has to be better than the truth.

None of your business part: self-explanatory, except that it has nothing to do with viagra addiction.

So I'm around, just not as much. Been really, truly, insanely busy. I had some cool movies lined up to watch and then review, but got wonderfully distracted by the Mummy Legacy Collection (watched six Mummy movies since Thursday night).

Not enough hours in a day, not enough years in a lifetime. I've got to get hold of some of those tannah leaves.

Posted by Ted at 05:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

January 27, 2006

Tagged, I'm It

Meme of Fours. It finally found me, via Cat (who is one of three Virginia bloggers that I know using that name (he said, to explain the apparent confusion)).

Four Jobs That I've Had:
1. Games Barker at an amusement park
2. Security Police guarding nuclear weapons
3. Bartender
4. Tupperware Lady

Four Movies I can watch over and over again:
1. Father Goose
2. King Ralph
3. The Incredibles
4. Guarding Tess, Airheads, The Mummy (original or remake), Twister...

Four T.V. Shows I love to watch: (I'm not a TV fan)
1. Hockey
2. Football
3. History Channel

Four Website's I read Daily (I'll keep it to blogs):
1. QandO
2. Two Nervous Dogs
3. Dustbury
4. Dawn's Place (and much of the rest of the blogroll)

Four Places I've Been on Vacation:
1. Brussels, Belgium
2. Luxembourg, Luxembourg
3. Winnepeg, Canada
4. Good Thunder, Minnesota

Four Favorite Foods:
1. Cheese
2. Pork
3. Mexican anything
4. Soup

Four places I’d rather be:
1. Anyplace but the DC metro area

No tags, if you wanna run with it, go for it

Posted by Ted at 11:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: About Ted Links

January 26, 2006

Fruit of my Loins

For those who may be curious, here's an update on the girls.

Our oldest daughter Robyn is quietly putting the finishing touches on her college education. She's working two jobs, getting good grades, and is looking forward to graduating, after which she'll prosper. I have no doubt about that.

Rachael (Mookie), on the other hand, does nothing quietly. She made the Dean's List in her first semester and is preparing for a three week-long school trip to London this Spring. As exciting as that sounds, she may be even more hyped over a possible summer job. She's been offered a chance to be Wardrobe Mistress at an opera house near Montecello in central Virginia. Besides pay, the job comes with an apartment. A lot of it will be the typical scut work that all newbies have to endure at the start of a career, but all experience is valuable.

Proud Papa, signing off.

Posted by Ted at 12:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

January 24, 2006

Folding Bluetooth Keyboard Review

My latest PDA review has been posted at Mozongo, and this time it's hardware. Head on over and check out this nifty little gizmo that Santa brought me.

Posted by Ted at 05:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: PDA Reviews

January 23, 2006

NaNoWriMo revisited, revisited, revisited

Chapters 5 and 6 are posted in the extended entry. Rachael pointed out that these chapters seem to be getting shorter as we go along. Not too much further along we're going to get to a stretch where I really don't like where the chapters break. I may rearrange some before we get there, I'm not sure yet.

Chapters 1 and 2 are here.
Chapters 3 and 4 are here.

And we still be contestin'!

Suggest a title in the comments.

On the first of February, I'll pick a few of the best suggestions and we'll have a contest. The person who suggests the winning title will win a prize, and not just some California-style self-esteem-building touchy-feely crap either. I'm talking about a real hold-it-in-your-hand American icon of conspicuous commercialism.

The comments and email have been great. Thanks muchly!

Chapter 5.

We were halfway home before Autumn started to sniff, and in seconds I was holding her as she sobbed into my shoulder. I steered her towards a bench (we were passing the school) and sat her down and held her as until she cried herself out.

Sniffling and wiping her eyes, she let me know what was going on. Someone had broken into the research laboratory where Granddad and another zombie were staying and had kidnapped them. There had been quite a bit of damage done to the facility and equipment, and a lot of lab animals had been released. According to the doctor (the older gentleman), it seemed like random destruction, and nobody was sure yet what the whole point had been. No one had claimed responsibility. What had gotten Mrs. Crisp into trouble was the attitude of the local police, who were certainly concerned about finding the vandals, but really didn’t much care what happened to a zombie. Mrs. Crisp would see a judge on Monday morning, and Autumn would go to the police station that afternoon and bail her out. It wouldn’t be the first time Autumn had had to free her mom. We sat there in the dark and talked until the chill forced us to our feet and back towards my house.

Once home, we went into the kitchen for some hot chocolate. I was surprised to see Mr. Brown sitting there at the table, still in his heavy coat and with a cup of coffee held awkwardly in one bandaged hand. He looked surprised to see me too, and I thought I saw a flash of recognition when I introduced Autumn. It was gone instantly (if ever there), and with a gruff goodnight he clumped up the stairs towards his room. I had filled Autumn in on Mr. Brown and Ms. Halliday, and she giggled a little bit at how accurately I had described Mr. Brown.

Mom heard our voices and came in to see what was happening. I gave her the briefest and vaguest of explanations, and Mom sent me up to change the linens in my room. I was going to be sleeping on the couch in the front parlor while Autumn stayed in my room. When we had gotten her settled in, I said goodnight and Mom was kind enough to turn her back and pretend to be occupied straightening a picture while we kissed goodnight. I whispered to Autumn to be sure to lock the door behind me. In the hall I thanked Mom for being so understanding and after a motherly peck and hug goodnight, headed back down the stairs for sleep.

On Sunday morning, I accompanied Autumn to the police station to see Mrs. Crisp. Autumn didn’t really want me to come, but I had insisted that I would be going along, since as her boyfriend I should be there to lend support. She smiled at that and asked if I went to visit all of my girlfriend’s parents in jail. I started to explain that I’d never had a real girlfriend before, but she shushed me with a quick kiss and called me silly.

What can you say about jail? It was drab and dreary, and in our small town not terribly crowded. Mrs. Crisp had one cell to herself, while the other two cells contained a half-dozen drunks and punks. There were some raunchy comments made, especially by one young leering clod with rag-wrapped hands, until the jailer tapped smartly on the bars with his nightstick as a warning.

Mrs. Crisp was sitting quietly on the cot, and brightened considerably when she saw Autumn. There wasn’t much to be said because the jailer was standing right there, so they held hands through the bars as Autumn promised to be back tomorrow. We had also brought a small parcel for Mrs. Crisp containing a flask of herbal tea, a sweater and some books and writing materials (it had been thoroughly searched by the jailer beforehand). All too soon it was time to go and with a few tears, Autumn said goodbye to her mom and we left the building.

On the way back from the police station, we stopped by Autumn’s house. There was a patrolman on the sidewalk out front, but he wouldn’t let her onto the property. Autumn tried to convince him to let her at least feed the pigeons and rabbits out back, but the best he would do is promise to let his supervisor know what she wanted. He told us to stop by later that afternoon to find out if the supervisor had approved. As we walked down the street, we saw several curtains flutter along the way as nosy neighbors didn’t want to be caught out snooping.

Being a boyfriend is hard work! You want everything to be all fun and laughter while you’re together, which is almost impossible when your girlfriend’s mom is sitting in jail. So mostly, we spent the day walking, holding hands and not talking much. We would occasionally see one or two of the guys as we walked, but they avoided us, which I was secretly grateful for.

We stopped by my house for a warming bowl of soup, but Autumn couldn’t sit still and before long we were back out walking. We checked back at her house, but the patrolman had no news from his supervisor. Then, Autumn got the notion to go out and see the research lab where Granddad had been taken from. It was a fair walk outside of town, but she was insistent despite the distance, and so we started out.

About halfway there, a police car passed us and pulled over to the shoulder of the road. As we trudged up alongside, the driver asked where we were headed. It was the younger cop from the night before, the one we had made identify himself before cooperating. He turned out to be an ok guy and gave us a ride to the lab since he was headed there too. He explained that we weren’t allowed inside the fence, but that he would tell the staff inside that we were waiting and maybe someone would come out and talk to us. I thought that was kind of him, and I appreciated the ride.

Approaching the facility, Officer Ossie (no, really!) pointed out how it looked like the main gate had been crashed open by a car or truck. The chain link fence was bent and twisted back, and more yellow police tape was strung about in various places. He dropped us off out front with a warning about not venturing inside, and told us that he’d be there for about an hour if we wanted a ride back into town. True to his word, about ten minutes later the older doctor who had accompanied the police from the night before came outside and talked to us. He couldn’t or wouldn’t say much of anything definite, but he tried to reassure Autumn that because the same people who vandalized the labs were the ones who took Granddad (and the other zombie), there was a very good chance that finding them would lead to the safe return of Granddad. The police were confident about solving the crime quickly because of the number of clues left behind. All in all it was a very amateurish job.

Autumn and I had time to kill, so we walked the perimeter of the fence, noticing the many broken windows. It looked as if someone inside had thrown whatever furniture was handy inside through the windows, for there were puddles of shattered glass strewn about stools and small tables.

Back around front, we caught a ride back into town and asked to be dropped off at Autumn’s house. The patrolman there escorted us back behind to the animal cages where Autumn set out food and fresh water. We thanked him and headed to my house again. After dinner we sat in the parlor and I realized that it had been a long time since I’d done that much walking in a day. Autumn and I fell asleep leaning together on the couch, and I guess Mom took care of us because when I woke up for school the next morning, I was alone and bundled up under a blanket.

Chapter 6.

I spent a miserable day at school, giving vague answers to prying questions from the guys. It was actually shocking as to how accurate many of the rumors were, so mostly I gave noncommittal grunts and tried to imply that the questions were too stupid to justify with an answer. I was only mildly intrigued when I heard that William the bully was out for a few days with some unspecified “injury�. According to the rumor mill (and we know how accurate that always is), William had some sort of dustup with a sharp whatever, which had resulted in some nasty cuts and lots of stitches on his hands and arms. I couldn’t concentrate on the lurid details, and the only thing that kept me going was knowing that I’d be seeing Autumn that afternoon. First stop was the police station, and then to her house with Mrs. Crisp.

After school, I waited in our usual spot, but when Autumn didn’t appear after 10 minutes I became concerned. One of the guys told me that Autumn had been called to the principal’s office after lunch and that she hadn’t come back to class. I went into the office, looking for answers, and found out that Autumn had been picked up by the police and taken to the station.

I ran all the way there, but when I got inside the desk sergeant made me sit on a long bench against the wall while he filled out paperwork and ignored me. It turned into a grudge match; I would loudly clear my throat to remind him that I was still waiting, and he would give me a dirty look and oh-so-slowly and deliberately pick up another piece of paper from his “in� basket. Just when I thought I was going to scream from pent-up frustration, he got up and went into the back.

He reappeared almost instantly and signaled for me to accompany him. We went into the back, past the doorway to the cells (where I had expected to turn into) and he led me to a small room. Inside, through a window – obviously one-way glass – I could see a table around which were Autumn, two cops, and a man I didn’t recognize, talking. Whatever had been happening, it was obvious that she had been crying. I could feel my anger rising.

Through the window, I saw the desk sergeant stick his head into the other room, and one of the cops walked out. The door opened and the same officer joined me. He told me that Mrs. Crisp had been charged with conspiracy for the destruction of the research facility and that they were trying to determine how much her daughter knew. I’d already been cleared, but he asked several general questions, most of which I knew nothing about. I was trying to figure out why Mrs. Crisp would kidnap her own father, it just didn’t make sense. The cop told me that I could go home, but instead I sat on the bench in the front lobby and waited for Autumn to come out.

I must have dozed off, because it was dark out when Autumn shook me awake. I stood up and tried to stretch the kinks out of my body from sleeping slumped over on the hard bench. When I felt reasonably human again, we started out for my house. Most of the time, Autumn strolled but tonight she steamrolled along the sidewalks as if daring anything to get in her way. She told me that they suspected her mom of being part of the group that trashed the lab, because long ago Mrs. Crisp had belonged to “Zombies Are People Too�, better known by it’s acronym, ZAPT. Something about the vandalism at the lab led the authorities to believe it had been a ZAPT operation, even though nobody had heard from the group for years. Now the police weren’t about to let Mrs. Crisp out of jail, at least not until they were convinced that she had no connection to the crime.

I brought up the question again of why she would kidnap her own father, but Autumn didn’t have an answer to that. It just made no sense to me.

The next few days were stressful. We visited Autumn’s house after school to feed the animals, but other than that and homework, there wasn’t much we could do. I kept turning the problem over in my mind, but seemed to be spinning my wheels, because every time I’d think of something that might explain things, I could immediately think of something else that could and would be used as a counter-argument. Coming home from school on Tuesday, I was surprised to see the “Room for Rent� sign out in the yard. Mom told me that Mr. Brown had settled up that morning and taken his meager possesions with him.

We continued to see Officer Ossie every day or two, as he would pull over to talk on the street as we walked. Autumn figured that he’d been instructed to keep tabs on us, and although I thought that it was a little paranoid on her part I could see where that would make sense for the authorities to do. Mostly, he just asked how Autumn was holding up – he seemed sincere – and doled out trivial information about how the investigation was going. On this day, he mentioned how they would be able to positively identify at least some of the vandals (“kidnappers,� Autumn automatically corrected), by checking blood samples, because quite a bit had been left around the labs from people cutting themselves on glass during the destruction.

That clicked in my mind, and I told him about how Mr. Brown had had a bandaged hand the night of the kidnapping. Autumn corroborated my story, but didn’t remember the rude young sot that had been in the adjoining cell the following day when we’d gone to visit Mrs. Crisp. Autumn had been concentrating on her mom, but I thought the jailer that day might remember the young man with the bandaged hands. Autumn also mentioned the rumors about William at our school, who had supposedly needed a substantial number of stitches on his hands and arms. Putting it all together like that, it seemed like there had been an unusually high number of similar injuries happening at one interval in our circle of acquaintences.

Officer Ossie noted everything, but also warned us that investigations were usually dead end after dead end. Any of these could be a real lead, but the odds were vastly against it.

I had tried asking Autumn about ZAPT, but that was one of the subjects she refused to talk about, other than that yes, her mom had been a member a long time ago. Since I couldn’t get further information from her, I decided to do a little research on my own. During a free period one day, I went into the school library and asked Mrs. Pennywill, the librarian what she knew about ZAPT. In her typical infuriating fashion, she grandly gestured at the expanse of reference materials surrounding us and suggested that I use my brain for more than keeping my skull from collapsing in on itself.

Grumbling to myself, I started digging into a few history books, which led me to other avenues of research I hadn’t considered, and before long I had a pretty good picture of ZAPT and similar groups of the day. As they tended to do, the groups all fancied themselves a great brotherhood while not really having all that much in common. Usually they splintered into ever-smaller groups in disagreement over trivial details until each sub-sub-group consisted of a strong alpha personality surrounded by a relatively few devotees and hangers-on.

ZAPT had managed to maintain enough cohesion to actually follow through with it’s grand vision. They had purchased a parcel of land in a remote area to set up a zombie “sanctuary� where the zombies could roam free and live out their… uh, lives – I guess – without interference from the government or narrow-minded people.

Conveniently ignored was the fact that zombies couldn’t actually survive without help. Most weren’t smart enough to deal with variations in the weather. They tended to eat whatever was catchable, and since they weren’t very coordinated that mostly amounted to plants. When several died after eating poisonous flora, and a few starved to death, the ZAPT cadre finally realized that they would have to be more involved as benevolent caretakers, and daily feedings were begun. Food costs money, and it’s difficult to hunt enough to feed one’s self, let alone dozens of ravenous zombies. As the care of their charges became increasingly burdensome, more and more members drifted away to tilt at other utopian windmills. The remaining people could no longer properly care for their charges. Things ended badly when two members were caught red-handed rustling a few cattle from a nearby ranch. The group disbanded and dispersed (those not jailed anyway), and the zombies were taken under the protective wing of the government, not that they knew what to do with them either. ZAPT seemed to disappear as an organized entity.

I now had a lot more background facts to mull, but even more questions were raised in my mind.

Posted by Ted at 08:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Zombies of Autumn

Six of one, half-dozen of the other

What would happen if a serial killer who preys on hitchhikers picks up a hitcher who slays any individual that stops to offer him a ride?

I'm looking forward to finding out next weekend during the latest episode of Showtime's Masters of Horror series.

Blue wrote up a nice preview, and then started to review each episode one by one. 'Cept he and I have both been insanely busy lately, so go enjoy what he's got there, and if you ask nicely in the comments he might do more.

Posted by Ted at 08:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Cult Flicks

January 21, 2006

Chip off the ol' headstone-shaped block

Mookie sent a link to me, with the following note:

I think these are so awesome and would make a great coffee table... especially the child ones.

Here's what she's talking about.

Posted by Ted at 10:02 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Category: Links

Snippet a trois

Recently, at my wife's work:

Lady: Those are beautiful earrings.

Wife: Thank you. They were a Christmas present from my husband.

Lady: He's either very nice or he was very naughty.

Wife: He's very nice.

Lady: Then *you* must have been very naughty.


Posted by Ted at 09:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Life is like a box of chocolates...

...skewered onto the pointy nose of the Concorde. It's been insanely busy and hectic around the ol' homestead lately, hence the relative quiet around Rocket Jones. Count your blessings, people.

I have been doing *some* visiting, but at the end of the day I'm usually so burnt out that I just fire up the aggregator and skim sites that way.

What Ahnold said.

Posted by Ted at 09:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

January 17, 2006

NaNoWriMo revisited, revisited

Chapters 3 and 4 are posted in the extended entry.

Follow this link for Chapters 1 and 2, and don't forget the contest:

Suggest a title in the comments.

On the first of February, I'll pick a few of the best suggestions and we'll have a contest. The person who suggests the winning title will win a prize, and not just some California-style self-esteem-building touchy-feely crap either. I'm talking about a real hold-it-in-your-hand American icon of conspicuous commercialism.

Thanks to those who've provided feedback, good and bad. Every bit of criticism is helpful.

Chapter 3.

It seemed like Saturday would never get here. Even though I saw Autumn every day at school, and had dinner with her and Mrs. Crisp every evening, our movie date was the first thought I had in the morning, and the thing I fell asleep thinking about at night.

I considered flowers again, since they had worked so well the first time, but after picking through my meager hoard of coins I realized that I had barely enough for tickets and popcorn, so I dropped that idea.

I spent a lot of time wondering if she would kiss me again. I spent almost as much time wondering if I could work up the nerve to kiss her.

Friday was a special day for Granddad, for it was time for his quarterly checkup. The government medical people who did this would pick him up just before full dark. They came in a truck marked with the name of a popular local restaurant that did business with Mrs. Crisp, which meant that the neighbors were used to seeing it, and in this way tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible. The doctors would run their tests and Granddad would be back Sunday evening.

We spent more than an hour getting Granddad cleaned up, and then another managing to put him into his travel suit. The travel suit was designed to immobilize him without damaging him. If zombies actually hurt, nobody had ever proven it. He was crabby and difficult, because he wasn’t allowed to eat beforehand. It was hard going, but we managed to get him packaged up for his trip. When the medical team arrived, Mrs. Crisp introduced me and they carted Granddad out to the truck in a fake stack of boxes labeled “parsley�, “basil�, and “rosemary�.

Saturday dawned cold and calm. Mom finally lured me out of my warm bed with a bowl of oatmeal and honey. She wanted me to rake the last of the leaves from the yard today, and that was fine with me, because Autumn would be busy all day giving Granddad’s space a good scrubbing. Once we were both done with our chores, the evening was ours.

As I ate, I sat across from our two current boarders. Mr. Brown was a disreputable sort, even as our boarders went. He kept late hours and came and went at odd times. I was pretty sure that he was behind on his rent, although Mom would go to great lengths to avoid turning anyone out into the street. He ignored me while reading our newspaper and sipping coffee. On the few occasions that he tried to interrogate, I mean, engage me in conversation, he seemed obsessively curious about the local people and doings. I thought he might be a thief, and if we’d actually owned anything worth stealing, I would’ve kept a closer eye on him.

On the other hand, I thought the world of Ms. Halliday. She was bright and cheerful and loud and outgoing, and made it plain that she wanted nothing to do with Mr. Brown, which proved to me her good taste. All I really knew about her was that she had the most amazing British accent and could tell equally amazing stories at the drop of a hat. Some of her tales were a little bawdy, and she’d always give me an exaggerated wink when she launched into one of those. This morning, she too was absorbed by the news, although she flashed a brilliant smile at me when I got up from the table.

Outside, I tackled the fallen leftovers from summer. Working steadily, I filled up the firepit with the first big pile of leaves and then stood there warming my hands as they burned. From the street, I could hear some little kids playing and jumping rope, their voices carrying through the cold:

“Georgie fought an oil war,
Billy got his hummer,
Georgie boy went back for more,
Hillie was a bummer,
Ricey dicey ‘gainst the wall,
Jimbo went and killed us all.�

I had to smile, because those kids had no idea just how succinctly they had summarized history before all hell broke loose.

Bird flu wasn’t anything new or unexpected. The world was busy patting itself on the back for containing it, not recognizing that it wasn’t beaten, it was merely simmering. It had also quietly become far more widespread than anyone realized. And then, as if by some secret signal, it reared up in a dozen different forms and proceeded to humble the Human race.

Even then, it might have been possible to contain the devastation to localized tragedies. Possible, except that when our government tried to limit travel, huge protests arose and politicians, seeing nothing beyond a chance to score political points, forced through laws that gutted our ability to self-quarantine. When it became apparent that the local transmission vector was limited to a relatively few species of birds (and one type of bat, which nobody can explain even to this day), the animal rights people joined forces with conservationists to fight all attempts to kill the birds to prevent more spread of the flu. Lawsuits were filed, organized protests mounted to save the “innocent� animals, and many people were thrown into jail for ignoring the environ-mentals and killing a few (or a few hundred or a few thousand) flu-carriers on their own.

As our history teacher put it, the activists were “full of themselves� for having taken on and defeated the world’s governments. What they didn’t foresee was that people, having grown tired of watching their loved ones die, would decide that not only was killing birds necessary, but that killing a few activists along the way probably wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

It was a very bad time to be an environmentalist.

As more and more people succumbed to the flu, more and more survivors started hunting down activists. The activists responded by holding ever more massive protests, right up until the climax of the violence. In Amsterdam, thousands of conservationist demonstrators had gathered to protest the Dutch government’s policies towards migrating seabirds. Without realizing that anything was going on, their escape routes were sealed off and then they were set upon by hundreds of anti-demonstrators. It was a bloody massacre. The police were held at bay when it was revealed that many of the killers were suffering from flu symptoms. While the authorities were trying to decide what to do, most of the surviving anti-demonstrators huddled together and mass-immolated while the world watched via satellite.

The entire world paused for a shocked moment and took a collective deep breath. Most of the protesters faded away, putting away their signs and causes and quietly getting back to their lives. The governments tried again to deal with the pandemic, although by now humanity was so weakened that at best they could only soften the impact, not shield the population.

Many countries ceased to exist. Many regions reverted to anarchy and chaos. What remained after the pandemic ran its course was left with a living standard of about a century before. Those were the fortunate survivors. We’ve clawed our way partway back since, but the most lasting impact might be that people are rarely openly political anymore. Secret votes became just that, and one just didn’t ask another person what their opinion was on certain issues.

There are a lot less people in the world now, but more animals, so maybe the environ-mental-cases got the last laugh after all.

I burnt another pile of leaves and wondered if sometimes I didn’t think too much.

Chapter 4.

At dinner, it was just me and Mom, which wasn’t unusual. Mr. Brown often missed meals, and Ms. Halliday frequently had “social obligations to attend to�, as she put it. I knew Mom had entertaining to do that evening, so I wolfed down my food, cleaned up quickly and put on my best clothes (my best weren’t all that good, but it’s all relative) for my movie date with Autumn.

Walking to her house, I regretted not buying Autumn flowers again, for no other reason than that holding them would have given me something to do with my hands. I was a bundle of nerves and my mind was going a mile-a-minute, imagining snatches of conversation that we might have. Let me tell you, in my mind I was the original suave devil, cocksure about my ability to sweep any lady off her feet. You might have even seen it in my eyes, if you looked deep enough, past the panic. It helped if you could ignore my nervous sweaty brow too.

I paused at her corner of her street and took a deep calming breath. I did the same at her front gate, and again while standing on her porch, before ringing the bell. As I waited for the door to open, I was halfway through another when, suddenly and unbidden, a mental image of me hyperventilating and keeling over popped into my head.

Mrs. Crisp opened the door and stared oddly at me as I gasped and goggled about like a fish out of water. In seconds I was back under control and able to assure her that I was all right. She watched me carefully as I came in and sat down, pulling out my handkerchief to mop my brow. Noting my nervousness, Mrs. Crisp tried to calm me by remarking on how nice I looked. She also told me that Autumn would be down in a minute. I sat and tried not to tap my feet or wring my hands or be obvious about it.

I sprang to my feet when Autumn came down the stairs, and almost fell backwards again into the chair. She was beautiful, dressed in pale pastels that were ever so different from her normal darks and earth colors. Around her shoulders she wore a shawl the color of storm clouds just before a summertime downpour and in her hair she had pinned a single small spray of purple anemones (the ones I’d given her must have long since died, so she’d gone out to get these). I suppose that we were both wildly overdressed for a mere movie date, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

As I stood there, gawking like an idiot, I was barely aware of a knock at the door or of Mrs. Crisp moving to answer it. What finally shook me out of my dumbstruck was the furrowing of Autumn’s brow as she looked past me at the doorway. I turned and saw the police at the door.

My mind was still three steps behind events when one, then two policemen came into the room, followed by another, older man who didn’t look like a cop. I took a step back and found Autumn standing beside me, holding onto my arm and looking very worried. The older man began speaking quietly to Mrs. Crisp while one policeman listened, and the younger of the two cops came towards us.

He flipped open a notebook, licked the end of a pencil stub (yech!) and asked who we were. I had automatically started to speak when Autumn squeezed my arm. Mouth still open, I looked at her and wondered what was going on. Autumn surprised me by asking the officer for his identification; full name, badge number, and supervisor’s name and badge number. You could tell that this annoyed the cop, but rules are rules and Autumn was well within her rights to ask for that information before going any further. It dawned on me that this sort of police visit might be a semi-regular occurrence in the Crisp household, and that Autumn knew how to handle the situation.

Rolling his eyes, the officer began reciting his name and badge number, but never finished as Mrs. Crisp collapsed back into a chair. Autumn immediately raced to her side and knelt down by her mother, asking what was going on.

The officer in front of me licked his pencil again and asked my name. I reminded him that he hadn’t finished identifying himself, and while it was satisfying to see his exasperation, I wondered if I wasn’t setting myself up for grief at a future date.

Once properly identified, the officer asked his questions. I gave my name and address and identified myself as Autumn’s boyfriend. I had arrived just a few minutes before to pick up Autumn for a date. I knew her from school, we shared some classes. Across the room, Mrs. Crisp was back on her feet, her voice rising as she was in heated argument with the other policeman. I heard him utter “only a zombie� and Mrs. Crisp, enraged, launched herself at him. I don’t think she actually hurt him, but it sure looked like she was trying to. The end result was Mrs. Crisp being handcuffed and led out to the police car parked at the curb, while Autumn peppered the older man with questions, only some of which I understood. I stood around, being mostly ignored and not knowing what else to do.

Autumn ran out of questions, and the older man asked if she had some place to stay. Autumn wanted to stay at her own house, but the policemen said that there was no way that it was possible. Finally, I could make a contribution to the situation, and suggested that she could stay at our place with my Mom and I. I indicated that the younger officer already had my contact information, and everyone seemed to agree that it was an acceptable idea.

Autumn went upstairs to pack some things, and when she returned I took her bag and we went outside. The officer allowed Autumn a moment with her mother, still cuffed and sitting in the back seat of the squad car. They talked quietly for a bit, then with a kiss goodbye Autumn rejoined me on the sidewalk, took my hand, and started walking slowly and distractedly towards my house. Behind us, the younger officer started stringing yellow “crime scene� tape across the front porch.

Posted by Ted at 11:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
Category: Zombies of Autumn

January 15, 2006

That sucked...er, blows

Our power just came back on a little bit ago. It went out early yesterday afternoon. In almost 16 years living here, that 22 hour stretch sans electricity exceeded the old record by about 16 hours.

The culprit is the wind. It's been relentless for the last couple of days, and trees and power lines are down all over the area. Throw in intermittent rain, some blowing snow and bone-chilling wind chill temps, and it's been fun fun fun.

We couldn't get an estimate on how long before power would be restored, so I took matters into my own hands and this morning headed to the grocery store for bags of ice. Not two hours later the lights flickered on. It always happens that way, you just have to use it to your advantage, eh?

In the meantime, our monthly club rocket launch was scrubbed. We can deal with rain and snow and most everything else Mother Nature can fling, but we can't launch in high winds. And of course, today is bright and sunny and the wind is still whipping ass, so no rockets for Ted this weekend.

On the plus side, it's amazing how much stuff you can get done when you're not parked in front of the computer.

Posted by Ted at 03:47 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

January 13, 2006

Congrats are in order

I've been reading Blogeline for a couple of years now, and I'm proud to announce that on Thursday she became a US citizen!


Go on over and leave her a message. And for the locals who're going to be at February 4th's get-together, she's planning on attending as well! It's shaping up to be a great party.

Posted by Ted at 10:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Links

January 11, 2006

Didn't we already go through this once?

I talked about Freedom Park in Rosslyn, Virginia, and how one of the exhibits is an actual segment of the Berlin wall (nine complete sections) and an East German guard tower.

For the last couple of days, they've had the street blocked off so that they could remove those pieces of the wall and relocate them to the new home of the Newseum in downtown DC. Not that anyone asked me for my opinion, but I personally think those historic barriers belong in Freedom Park, not in a museum dedicated to news.

Posted by Ted at 05:19 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

January 10, 2006

NaNoWriMo revisited

You know what they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

In November I was going great guns on my National Novel Writing Month work, until I hit a speedbump and lost several thousand words worth of work. You can see by the meter on the right sidebar that I'd almost "officially" reached 60%, and what I lost had put me over that milestone.

In December I announced that I was going to finish the story, yet I never wrote another word.

So once again, in an effort to kick-start myself, I'm going to start posting what I already have, and it seems to me to be the perfect opportunity to have a contest too.

The first two chapters are posted in the extended entry. Read them, and then suggest a title in the comments. I have a "working" title in my mind, but I really don't like it much, so I'm open to any and all suggestions. If you're shy, then send me an email with your title, that works too.

On the first of February, I'll pick a few of the best suggestions and we'll have a contest. The person who suggests the winning title will win a prize, and not just some California-style self-esteem-building touchy-feely crap either. I'm talking about a real hold-it-in-your-hand American icon of conspicuous commercialism.

So read. Be a critic. Be an editor. Come up with a title. Comment. Feedback.

Inspire me, dammit.

Chapter 1.

I swear, you'd think I had just pulled a booger out of my nose, inspected it carefully and then eaten it. The reaction ranged from pretend retching to goggle-eyed incredulity. I think two things saved me from an outright beating right then; first of all I was peripherally one of the gang. Secondly, I'm pretty sure that at least a couple of the guys pitied me. Of course they'd never come right out and say anything of the sort, or honor would demand satisfaction and then they'd have to kick my ass after I started the fight.

No, it doesn't make much sense to me either.

What I had done, to everyone's amazement, was something not terribly amazing when looking back at it. I merely said that Autumn was a rather pretty girl.

She was tall and thin and dark, and not overly much of any of those things except for the dark, because her hair was that black so deep it almost seemed blue. Her moods, when she bothered to display any at all, were often just as dark. Yesterday though, she smiled at me as I helped her to her feet after some younger kids played the same tired game on her. They surrounded her, dancing and chanting "Autumn! Autumn! Autumn!" until suddenly one darted in and tripped her. Then the pack ran off, shouting "FALL!" and laughing idiotically.

One smile, and I was smitten. I knew perfectly well that there would be consequences, because even though we'd all grown up together at the same school, Autumn was still an outsider. She didn't have a father, which was no big deal. I didn't have one myself. It was her mother who was the problem. Mrs. Crisp was an environ-mental-case, an anachronism in a time that had no stomach for it.

As long as she didn't become too big a nuisance, most folks just gave Mrs. Crisp a wide berth. She would show up in the town square, wearing a sandwich board that protested her latest pet injustice, which always seemed trivial to ordinary folks just trying to make it through difficult times. These days it was considered vulgar in the extreme to be so openly political. So mostly, people ignored her. By transference, they ignored Autumn as well.

And now, several of my peers were staring at me as if I'd... well, we've covered that bit, haven't we?

Feeling reckless, I further ventured that Autumn was probably just like us, and that we’d never given her a proper chance. That argument had holes in it a mile wide. We all knew Autumn – as much as you can know someone based on years of observation – and she wasn’t the problem. To most of us she was a zero. A null. It was Mrs. Crisp who was the problem. Mrs. Crisp was a problem I would have to tackle if I wanted to see Autumn outside of school.

That idea itself made me stop and think. In all our years together at school (I’ll quit saying that, from here on out you can just assume), I couldn’t think of anyone that had ever actually visited the Crisp house. However, since Autumn didn’t play sports or participate in any clubs, I was going to have to do just that.

My musings were interrupted by the disgusted snorts of several of my pals, who decided to leave me to my brain damage while they wandered off down the street, looking for something to do.

In truth, I was intrigued by Autumn. She quietly made her way through the school years, seemingly untouched by the whirlwind of life around her. She wasn’t indifferent, for you could tell that she took keen note of things, or at least I thought so from my covert observations. Maybe it was the fact that she was the only kid in school even more peripheral and isolated than I.

That evening, I brought up my (potential) pending visit to Autumn’s house at the evening meal. Mom immediately recognized the implications and inquired as to whether I’d be staying there for dinner. That question wasn’t as strange to me as it might seem, because I know Mom. Like I said before, my dad died when I was little, and Mom has raised me as best she could on her own. We take in boarders when we can, but mostly, Mom’s best consisted of sex for “favors�. She was always discreet (an open secret in our small town), but there was always food on the table and usually heat in the winter. Being discrete is a far cry from respectable though, and we were pretty much ostracized by the “decent� people of the town, and even by a few of Mom’s “boyfriends� (other than when they visited). I had no illusions about it, because even if we were as rich as Rockefellers, Mom would still be the town pump. She loved men that much. The chance that I would be away for an evening meant that she could entertain someone for an extended time and earn more than the standard “favor�.

Mom wasn’t fazed in the least when I told her that the girl was Autumn Crisp. She knew who Mrs. Crisp was and how she behaved, but in Mom’s world everyone was a friend until you caused pain or trouble for her or me. Then you were forever removed from the friend category and placed in the enemy category. Once there, you might eventually regain a grudging trust, but you would never again be regarded as a friend.

So throughout dinner, and while doing dishes afterwards (I dried), Mom suggested ways to “be sweet� – her words – to Autumn. I’d never shown interest in a girl before, or more correctly, I’d never let on that I was interested in a girl, so my delighted Mom quickly got caught up in planning and details.

Mom sent me to the flower shop with instructions to buy something nice for Autumn. Not knowing what “nice� meant under the circumstances, I explained to the shopkeeper that I needed a flower to give to a girl before asking to walk with her. He smiled kindly and suggested either roses or a small bouquet of anemones. I knew what roses were, but he had to show me the others. They were both beautiful, but I thought that roses might be overdoing it, so I decided on the purple anemones (which were cheaper too). As he was wrapping it up the shopkeeper asked me who the lucky girl was. When I replied “Autumn Crisp�, he gave me an odd look which stayed on his face until I left the store.

The following morning I put the flowers into a brown paper bag, hoping to escape notice from the guys. At school, I found Autumn in her usual before-school spot. There were too many people around to give her the flowers, so I held the bag in my sweaty fist and asked her if I could walk her home. She stared at me as if I were some particularly odd bug (and I was getting tired of people giving me those looks), before saying no. Not being easily discouraged (nervous, yes. Discouraged, no), I tried again after second period while walking between classes, with the same result. After lunch I finally found my chance to give her the flowers relatively unobserved, and presented them to her. That did the trick, although she said I could walk her as far as her street and no farther. I was gifted with another of her rare smiles, which made it all worth it.

It didn’t take long for the word to get around, and there was an interesting range of reactions among my peers. The less mature were content to make rude noises and crude remarks, while a couple made me swear to take careful notice of the inside of the Crisp house so as to give a full report. One even insisted that I swipe something to prove that I’d actually gone in. William, the school bully and self-proclaimed Romeo, wondered aloud whether I’d gotten wind of Autumn’s “reputation�, with a knowing smile. This was pure speculation on his part, because the only reputation that Autumn had was that her Mom was a crank. When I said that I liked Autumn because of her smile, William cheerfully cuffed me upside the head and called me a liar.

I had expected Autumn to put the flowers into her locker, but I heard that she carried them with her for the rest of the day.

It was universally judged as the best gossip day our school had enjoyed since last spring, when the oldest Tipton brother lost part of his finger in woodshop. He had made one minor slip at the table saw, but by the time the story made the rounds he’d fallen headfirst into the planer and the shop walls were sprayed with blood and moist bits of Tipton. Such is the rumor mill at school.

So I met Autumn after school to walk her home, me with my books and her with books and flowers, and we both felt the myriad eyes watching in wonder. As we walked, we talked about inconsequential things like the weather, because we weren’t sure what we might have in common. I tried the normal subjects like school news and sports, but she was remarkably clueless in those areas. I half expected her to begin talking politics or ecology, but to my relief she never even hinted at those. Each exploratory foray into conversation inevitably fell back to about how nice the weather had been lately, and we began to compare the shapes we each saw in the fluffy clouds overhead. At her corner, she said goodbye, smiled at me again, and then walked down the street towards her house without looking back, still holding those flowers.

Chapter 2.

That walk was repeated with little variation over the next week. We discovered that our tastes in music were similar and we began to explore our differences with a little more courage, comparing likes and dislikes on various subjects. Autumn began to smile more often, and we grew comfortable in each other’s company. But still, at the corner she said goodbye and I watched her walk the last bit alone.

And then one day, Mrs. Crisp spotted me at the corner as Autumn said goodbye. She yoo-hoo’d from their front yard and waved us both over. Autumn didn’t seem particularly put out by her Mom’s changing of our established routine, but she wasn’t thrilled with it either. I wondered if she wasn’t a little embarrassed by her Mom. Heaven knows every teenager feels that way about their parents at least once in a while.

For the very first time, I walked with Autumn down her street and onto her property. Mrs. Crisp was in the front yard, spray paint can in hand, putting the finishing touches on yet another sandwich board. Rail thin, with her silver hair pulled tightly back and tied with a bright yellow bandana, she smiled widely and shook my hand. As we talked about school and classes and homework, I noticed that the house had several times been repaired with pieces of painted plywood, the recycled scraps of previous signs. This gave the house a patchwork look, almost storybook-like, set in the midst of their yard which was just this side of being overgrown with wildflowers and herbs. I’m sure the neighbors would consider it ramshackle, but I didn’t think the word quite properly applied.

Mrs. Crisp sent Autumn in for drinks, and I found myself modeling the sandwich board while Mrs. Crisp stood back to check the readability of the lettering. When Autumn returned, she carried three bottles of homemade root beer, each bottle different than the others. Cool from cellar storage, that was the best root beer I’ve ever tasted in my life.

When I left that afternoon, I had been invited back “any time�, and I found that I liked Mrs. Crisp. She herself brought up her activism at one point, noting with a wry smile that she was a throwback to another world. She understood perfectly well what the townsfolk thought of her, but she was ok with that because to her the doing was the important thing, even if the end result wasn’t what one wished for. She was kind and thoughtful and funny and completely off her rocker in the conventional sense, but sweet nonetheless.

They lived a relatively normal life otherwise. I was surprised to learn that Mrs. Crisp was renowned for her spices and fresh herbs to chefs and restaurants in the area, which brought in some money. They raised pigeons and rabbits in the backyard, and sold herbal remedies and tinctures to make a little extra money.

Our afternoon walks had become commonplace, and eventually Autumn and I fell off of the school radar as the gossipmongers found other, more lucrative targets. We hadn’t yet so much as held hands, and in fact I wasn’t sure exactly what our relationship was. We seemed (to me) to be more than friends, but she wasn’t really my girlfriend either. I usually walked her all the way to her door, and often Mrs. Crisp would invite me in for a root beer or tea. At intervals, Autumn would refuse my company without explanation, instead hurrying home alone. On the following day things would be back to normal, and any questions I asked were pointedly ignored.

It was almost November when the school decided I should take a few days off. William the bully had said some things about my Mom. Technically, everything he said was accurate, but still, it was my Mom. He won the fight, but not as easily as everyone had expected, and both he and I were suspended for three days.

The last thing I expected when I answered the doorbell was to see Autumn standing there. My face broke into a delighted smile, which instantly became a pained grimace since I was nursing a split lip. As I stood there, I forgot everything else as Autumn reached out and gently traced the swelling on my face. It was the first time that she had ever touched me.

The moment passed, and Autumn quietly asked me if I could help her with something at her house. I quickly agreed, let Mom know where I was going and yes, I would be staying for dinner (I looked at Autumn with a raised eyebrow when Mom asked that, and you could sense the decision being made in her mind as if it were a physical thing). Grabbing my jacket, we started the walk to her house.

She was strangely quiet, even for her, and she got more and more nervous as we neared her place. I started to get the willies myself, for no reason other than picking up her mood. When we got to her front door, she opened it and led the way inside. There, at the kitchen table drinking tea, sat Mrs. Crisp with her arm in a sling.

I sat down and Mrs. Crisp started out by explaining that she’d sprained her wrist while taking care of a chore. The task still needed to be done, but it required two people - two people with two good arms – and since I was a good friend she felt that I could be trusted to help. Autumn just sat there quietly, seemingly lost in her own thoughts and with a worried look on her face.

Autumn started when Mrs. Crisp told her to take me to see what needed to be done. Without a word she gathered me up with her eyes and led me to a door off of the kitchen. She opened the door and we went downstairs into the basement, where I found the last thing I’d ever thought to see.

There was a zombie chained to the wall in their basement.

Once I got over my astonishment, I started to ask questions, but Autumn waved them aside and we headed back upstairs. Sitting down again, Mrs. Crisp began filling me in with the details between my many questions. The zombie was Mrs. Crisp’s father, Autumn’s granddad, and I should call him Granddad as well, since he didn’t respond to any other name. No, keeping a zombie isn’t illegal, it’s just not common. They keep him for two reasons; first, because he’s part of a medical study and they come check on his health once a month, and take him for a weekend checkup once a quarter. The second reason is because he’s Mrs. Crisp’s dad… well, he used to be. Yes, they have to feed him, why do you think they raise pigeons and rabbits? No, he’s not terribly dangerous, any more so than a two hundred pound mindless baby who is always hungry.

After about a half hour, Mrs. Crisp said we could finish talking over dinner, but that right now, Granddad needed to be restrained so that his area could be cleaned up. They had been in the process earlier when Mrs. Crisp slipped and fell, injuring her wrist. That’s where I came in. They showed me what to do and how to do it, and once I got over the revulsion of touching Granddad (even with gloves and a heavy canvas butcher’s apron), it was actually pretty simple.

Dinner was strange. Not the food itself, because I couldn’t begin to tell you what was put in front of me, let alone what it tasted like. I was still turning recent events over and over in my mind.

He wasn’t really a zombie, you know. Not in the classic horror movie kind of way. We had all learned about the great avian flu pandemic two generations past, and how it scythed its way through populations, killing millions. At least as bad was the mutation that destroyed a person’s ability to think, turning them into mindless and mobile flu-spreading automatons. We’d seen the films, where whole cities were virtually depopulated by these monsters who shuffled around, sneezing and drooling, until the flu eventually killed them, or until the living people started killing and burning them in self-defense.

The government saved some for research purposes, and a surprisingly high number were kept alive by families who couldn’t bear to put mom or dad or sis down. Mostly by luck and improvised quarantines, people managed to save their former loved ones. Some zombies recovered from the flu, but none ever regained the slightest bit of brain power. The best were about as bright as a slightly retarded dog. But that was all history that they taught us from books in school, whereas this, this was reality. By now, Granddad was a rarity, being old as humans go, and a virtual Methuselah among zombies.

I agreed to stop by every day after school, staying until evening for dinner and to help Autumn with Granddad, at least until Mrs. Crisp’s wrist was better. I could just imagine how happy that would make my Mom too. I also promised not to tell anyone, for although Granddad wasn’t a secret, he also wasn’t common knowledge, and people tend to react stupidly when faced with the unknown and unusual.

Mrs. Crisp gave me a one-armed hug as I got ready to go, and at the door Autumn stepped close and gently kissed my lips on the side away from the hurt. I asked her if she’d like to go to the movies on Saturday and she smiled and said yes.

Walking home through the chilly November evening, I reflected upon the day. I’d gotten my very first real kiss from my very first real girlfriend. And my girlfriend (girlfriend… wow!) just happened to have her zombie grandfather chained up in the basement.

Posted by Ted at 12:03 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack
Category: Zombies of Autumn

January 07, 2006

Since we can't walk on water

Except for that one notable exception, that is.

Over at Hold the Mayo, Stephen links to the Whitbread Round the World sailboat race, renamed this year for corporate sponsorship like everything else these days. He's got a bunch of great links and a cool map of the course, which takes months to complete. Here's his description of one leg of the race:

Southern Ocean Here we come again! Iceberg dodging, gale riding, wave surfing, freezing cold, scary, knackering, frightening but FUN. (Yes for some the idea of surfing down a wave in a 70 foot boat in gale force winds while on the lookout for icebergs is considered fun.)

I crewed on a sailboat once. In calm weather. For fun. I have absolutely no idea what it would be like to do what these adventurers do. So I can visit their sites and read, because some of them are posting their daily logs and even video of the race.

Meanwhile, over on the other side of the country, PJ Swenson of Sharkspage gives the heads up on the 2006 Mavericks Surf Contest.

The Mavericks Surf Contest brings together 24 of the world's best big-wave surfers on just 24 hours' notice – between January 1 and March 31, 2006.

When the big waves arrive, the notice goes out and the surfers have to be there and ready to compete 24 hours later. These are serious surfers.

When Mavericks roared through Half Moon Bay last March, 30,000 spectators and two million television viewers in 70 countries watched the best big-wave riders on the planet conquer waves that crested at nearly 50 feet in frigid waters with dangerous currents, jagged rocks and the ever-present threat of the Great White Shark.

That ain't hype either. Check out PJ's page for more links and info.

Like Steve Miller said, "Everything's better when wet".

Posted by Ted at 08:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
Category: Links

January 06, 2006

*sniff* Damn

Lou Rawls, dead of cancer at age 72.

Posted by Ted at 06:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Links

Maybe you've heard about this one

My buddy Russ sent this link:

Everything you see really happened in real time, exactly as you see it. The film required 606 takes. On the first 605 takes, something, usually very minor, didn't work. They would then have to set the whole thing up again.

Really, go see for yourself. It's absolutely amazing. Two minutes of pure genius.

Honda Accord Commercial.

(in the extended entry is the full text that Russ included, but seriously, follow that link first)

Subject: [Buy Sell Trade] "Rube Goldbert" mechanics . . . . I think you'll fine this intereting. In case you missed this one There are NO computer graphics or digital tricks in the film you are about to see. Everything you see really happened in real time, exactly as you see it. The film required 606 takes. On the first 605 takes, something, usually very minor, didn't work. They would then have to set the whole thing up again. The crew spent weeks shooting night and day. By the time it was over, they were ready to change professions. The film cost 6 million dollars and took three months to complete, including a full engineering of the sequence. In addition, it's two minutes long so every time Honda airs the film on British television, they're shelling out enough dough to keep any one of us in clover for a lifetime. However, it is fast becoming the most downloaded advertisement in Internet history. Honda executives figure the ad will soon pay for itself simply in "free" viewing. (Honda isn't paying a dime to have you watch this commercial!) When the ad was pitched to senior executives, they signed off on it immediately without any hesitation -- including the costs. There are six and only six handmade Accords in the world. To the horror of Honda engineers, the filmmakers disassembled two of them to make the film. Everything you see in the film (aside from the walls, floor, ramp, and complete Honda Accord) is parts from those two cars. The voice-over is Garrison Keillor. When the ad was shown to Honda executives, they liked it and commented on how amazing computer graphics have gotten. They fell off their chairs when they found out it was for real. Oh ... about those funky windshield wipers: On the new Accords, the windshield wipers have water sensors and are designed to start functioning automatically as soon as they become wet. It looks a bit odd in the commercial. As amazing as this is, the commercial is actually based on an earlier film from the 1970s called "How Things Move" by two Swiss self-destructing artifacts artists. Some sharp-eyed folks claim that tires rolling UPHILL necessarily require computer-generated effects. Not so. The sequence where the tires roll up a slope looks particularly impressive but is very simple. There is a weight in each tire and when the tire is knocked, the weight is displaced and in an attempt to rebalance itself, the tire rolls up the slope.


Posted by Ted at 06:32 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Category: Links

January 05, 2006


My wife calls me on her way to work every morning. From the other day:

Wife: My battery's dead.

Me: How did that happen?

Wife: I don't know.

Me: Did you leave your lights on?

Wife: My cell phone battery, not my car.

Me: Oh.

Wife: You think like a guy.

To be precise, I think like a guy who doesn't own a cell phone.

Posted by Ted at 04:36 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

January 04, 2006

Mildred never bought into the "war bride" excuse

(in the extended entry)


Posted by Ted at 06:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

January 03, 2006

What kind of file is that?

Here's a handy list of file extensions and what they are.

Posted by Ted at 04:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Links

Good on 'em!

Rhode Island Legalizes Medical Marijuana.

This makes me happy for two reasons. First, because there are demonstrated benefits to some cancer, glaucoma and AIDS patients from smoking marijuana.

Second, because it's an always-welcomed poke in Uncle Sam's eye when a state asserts its rights over the federal system. The correct answer is almost never "more government involvement".

Posted by Ted at 04:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Links

January 02, 2006

Best of Rocket Jones - 2005 Edition

As they say, read the whole thing.

No, seriously. Rocket Jones is one long, extended highlight.

Although judging from my email, I've already hit bottom in 2006 with the Dick Clark joke.

Go me!

Posted by Ted at 12:02 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

January 01, 2006

Heh, she said Balls

Over at Caterwauling, Dawn has assembled a spherical feast for the Carnival of the Recipes. I love these carnivals, and this edition features even more "must try"'s than the usual.

So head on over, because it's not like you're going to actually keep those resolutions, right?

Posted by Ted at 07:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Links Recipes

Dang, lost that bet

The ball dropped before Dick Clark did.

Posted by Ted at 08:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Rocketry Links

This post will link to some of my favorite online rocketry resources. It is a work in progress, so it will be added to and evolve over time.

Vendors - I've personally done business with these folks, and I'll do so again.

Pratt Hobbies

Vertical Force Rocketry

Performance Hobbies

Edmonds Aerospace


Public Missiles Ltd (PML)

Magnum Rockets

Apogee Rockets

AeroTech Consumer Aerospace

SkyRipper Systems

RATT Works

Red Arrow Hobbies

Hobby Reference

Essence Model Rocketry Reviews


Rocketry Online

Organizations and Clubs

National Association of Rocketry (NAR)

Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRA)

Northern Virginia Association of Rocketry (NOVAAR)

Posted by Ted at 08:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Rocketry Resources

Because I'm a traditional kind of guy

C'mon, you know it's true, Chuck Norris Jokes are a New Year's Tradition!

My favorites:

Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.

When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

As a teen Chuck Norris impregnated every nun in a convent tucked away in the hills of Tuscany. Nine months later the nuns gave birth to the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only undefeated and untied team in professional football history.

What, you got something against tradition?

Posted by Ted at 01:15 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Links
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