Thursday, March 31, 2011

Anticipation Is The Spice Of Murder

I had a dream last night, a recurring dream that I hadn't had in a while. A group of folks in their twenties and thirties share a sprawling bungalow near the coast somewhere. The climate is warm and humid, and the ocean's really close, with tidal pools extending almost up to the back door. The place could be California, Mexico, Thailand or some island in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. The time could be the hippie period of the seventies, or even now. The folks gather in a large, gloomy communal living room, cluttered with books and newspapers and drug paraphrenalia. There might be electronic devices too, but nobody's using them. These folks read, and talk, and try to seduce one another into either sex or argument - something, anything, to get the blood flowing. That lust for human interaction is what most convinces me that the dream is set in the distant past. A mysterious stranger shows up at the bungalow after a storm. He's young and scruffy and spaced-out, and carries a grimy knapsack that he never lets out of his sight. He sort of reminds me of those artificial hunchbacks who smack you in the face on the subway train whenever they swivel around to turn on their iPods. Only this dude is worse than that. Some days after he arrives, hideous color photos of crime victims, slashed and torn, mutilated or beheaded or disembowelled, turn up as unwelcome inserts in the reading matter of everyone in the bungalow. Open up the newspaper, and a little snapshot of hell falls out. Crack open that magazine when you are alone on the bathroom toilet, and you see the image of a castration serving as your bookmark. One of the folks finds a manila envelope on the coffee table, and out slides one after another picture of carnage. This happens so often that it unnerves everyone in the bungalow - especially one guy, another young guy, who has always been loud and defensive and becomes even more so now. No one really liked this guy before anything started to happen, and now they are all avoiding him. Unlike everyone else, this kid never reads anything, so he never finds any of the pictures. For this and other reasons, some think he is the one leaving them around. He senses their accusing stares, and eventually he explodes. "I'll show you, you bastards!" He pulls a knife on their leader and threatens to kill him, but the new kid intervenes. He swoops onto the guy and beats the shit out of him. The battered hothead slinks away after the assault, and they never see him again. The new kid takes his knife, a huge butcher knife maybe a foot long, and flings it into the tidal pool outside the back door, where it sinks to the bottom among the sand dollars and the starfish. After that, no more pictures appear, and everyone relaxes. They let down their guard. The weekend comes and the group separates into singletons and couples and trios of buddies and they all leave the bungalow on day trips or errands. At the end of the day, they return - one by one, or two by two. The scruffy new kid, the former hero of the hour, greets each of them in that gloomy old living room, an evil smile on his face and an even bigger knife in his hands...

Monday, March 28, 2011

How To Avoid Jury Duty

Here are some tips on how to avoid jury duty:

1) Shave your head (tattoos are optional).
2) Wear jeans, a black leather jacket and a black shirt of some kind (e.g., maybe a turtleneck in winter, but definitely a T-shirt in summer).
3) Do NOT be so freakin' stupid as to wear a suit.
4) Remember - you still have balls - so do not wear khakis or glasses.
5) If you have created a website to celebrate your criminal ancestors, mention it on your jury duty card.
6) If you regularly maintain any kind of anti-authoritarian blog (e.g., anti-corporate, anti-government, anti-whatever), mention that too!
7) When you fill out your jury duty card, use a leaky ballpoint pen that leaves little clots of ink all over the place.
8) Use either dramatic and childlike block printing or penmanship so bad it calls your sanity into question.
9) Make sure your handwriting is just legible enough for the "bad citizen" content of your remarks to come through loud and clear, but no more legible than that.
10) When the judge glares at you, don't glare back - but don't avert your eyes either. Just gaze back at him innocently as though you've done nothing wrong. (Impersonating a mild case of catatonia can only help you here.)

Try all the above steps to be sure. They worked for me!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Was Whitey Bulger's PC Doctor

By "PC", I don't mean "politically correct". Whitey was a pretty forward-thinking guy about some things, but whether or not he or anyone he knew was "politically correct" is neither here nor there in this particular context. Nor was I an actual "doctor". As a fresh young layabout I acquired some PC skills from a raft of computer books I had shoplifted, and by the early nineties I was known in the 'hood as a good man with a mouse. I had actually wanted to be considered a good man with a rat - as in a hitman who could whack rats - but the "mouse" rep was good enough at the time. Anyway, Whitey got wind of my skills and I got drafted to look at his PC. This was sometime in the fall of '94, right before he went on the lam, and he was pretty antsy. The last thing he needed was a computer virus. "Fuckin' thing's been behaving like it's been shot in the head," he told me. "And, believe me, I know what I'm talkin' about." I nodded, sat down at his computer, rebooted the thing and logged in at the MS-DOS prompt. I uploaded a fresh copy of the latest Norton Antivirus. All the while, Whitey's sitting on a chair right next to me, flexing his muscles, fidgeting, crossing both his arms and his legs at the same time, and making terrible faces. He scowled at the PC as though he wanted to kill it. It was pretty unnerving. Without exactly making eye contact with Whitey, I asked him, "Mr. Bulger, do you have any idea how you picked up the virus?" He gave me this stony-eyed look. I glanced at a bunch of CD-ROM's lying scattered across his desk, and kinda shuffled through them, looking for anything suspicious. I did see one thing with a vaguely porn-ish looking cover, entitled "Short-Eyes & Long-Timers". I said, "Hmm..." and reached out to that. Whitey cried, "HEY!" He knocked all the CD-ROM's off the desk and glared at me, his lips trembling a little. "Who the fuck are you to look at my stuff?" "Sorry, Mr. Bulger..." I went back to putting the Norton Antivirus through its paces, and everything was quiet for a while. Whitey's chin was buried in the cradle of his crossed forearms, his blue eyes on fire. Like goddamn pilot lights, I thought. Eventually, he said, "I hate those assholes who make these viruses." "I'm with you there, Mr. Bulger." "I really fucking HATE 'em," he said. "They should all be executed by an order of the state." I just nodded. "And I mean publicly executed." "Yessir." "They oughta be fuckin' drawn and quartered, like that Scottish asshole Braveheart. Only they ought to be gagged so they can't fucking shout 'Freedom'..." I cleared my throat. "Fuckin' computer hackers ought to have their jaws ripped off and their dicks sewn into their assholes..." He uncrossed his arms and stood up. I flinched. He took a gun out of a desk drawer and stepped over to the window of his Quincy condo. He pulled up the window and aimed the gun at a fluffy white cat on the sidewalk below. "This is what I want to do to those freakin' Virus Writers!" BANG! went his gun, and the cat's head exploded in a puff of red. Just about then, the Norton Antivirus had done its thing. I rebooted the PC and it was as good as new. I got out of there A.S.A.P. I even forgot to ask for my fee. Just said, "Thank you for letting me help you, Mr. Bulger. It's been a privilege." And he just stared at me like he wanted to drive my teeth into my scalp.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fire Alarms And The Imp Of The Perverse

Nobody is readier for crime than a kid just graduated from school who is single, unemployed and drunk. Being drunk is key. Whenever you get drunk, you revert to the special reality of drunkenness, and all the thoughts and feelings you had the last time you were drunk return to you as though they had never left you. And those thoughts and feelings for me were grim. I had serial killer aspirations in those days which only emerged at three A.M. I used to carry around a miniature samurai sword that my sister had brought back for me from her year as an exchange student in Tokyo. Slightly less than four inches long, it was nonetheless shiny and curved, and even had its own little scabbard. I actually intended to use this pathetically diminutive would-be "murder weapon" on my victims. Laugh as they might... The thing about wandering around drunk at three A.M. in the lawn-covered outback of the suburbs is that victims are not readily available. I must confess that I was too kindhearted to kill anyone anyway. So I ditched the sword, and took out my frustrations on fire alarms instead. I would pull them and run away. Once I got a quarter mile off, I would slow my stride and listen for the sound of approaching fire engines, something that always sent chills up my perverse little spine. I know I was being a bad boy, but I couldn't help myself. If I couldn't be some dick-swinging King Kong of a psychopath, I could still play "The Imp of The Perverse". You've read Poe, right? If you haven't, do so. Poe's Imp was an icky little guy who couldn't help himself, who (as I remember it anyway) combined the commission of a crime with his own confession of it, as though the two were one and the same. In any case, I kept this up for a few weeks in the summer after college, inconveniencing the fire departments of Middlesex County to the tune of (adjusting for inflation) thousands of dollars a pop. Then one evening, after I'd jerked my last fire alarm into its orgasm of urgency, I was walking away from the main road, towards the woods and the train tracks and the sleepy bungalows. A police cruiser slid on by, shark-like with vigilance. I bolted on reflex. I hid in the woods beside the railroad tracks, flat on my stomach. The police shone a light on me and ordered me to come out. I did. I wished I hadn't. A six-foot-eight Italian cop with hornrim glasses and a nose like an eggplant asked me what I was doing out so late, timing his questions with raps of his billy club on my wrists. "Hitchhikin', huh? Huh? Lookin' to get picked up? Huh? Ronald J. Queerbait..." I was a handsome kid, so I guess I kinda looked like a gay hustler. Anyway, this big Bully-of-The-State and his Silent Bob of a partner (the "good cop" as played by a mute) handcuffed me and took me to the County Jail. They took my shoe-laces, my belt, and my glasses so I wouldn't have any tools to commit suicide with and threw me in a pea-green cell the size of a closet (and not a walk-in one at that). To keep me company while I spent the rest of the night awake, they sent down some young moron of a rookie to whom I confessed my "societal rebelliousness", which he imperfectly reiterated, with many errors, at my court appearance the next morning. I stood there in the docket, my glasses busted, dog shit on the soles of my hiking boots, my eyes swimming for lack of sleep. I rolled those eyes at the rookie's inaccuracies, but held my tongue. They hit me with a $100 fine and kept my crime off the books (or so they said). I borrowed the money from my girlfriend (claiming it was a down payment for a room I was going to rent), my right wrist stayed numb for the next two weeks (at least they didn't cut off my alarm-pulling hand, Saudi Arabian-style), and that was it. Nobody ever knew about it, till now...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Take This Merc And Key It, Dude

Couple of months ago I'm boppin' through Harvard Square (my chick of the time liked those things called "books" and I was freakin' shoppin'), and this curly-headed asshole in a $5,000 suit starts hailing me from his Mercedes Benz.   "Hey!" he shouts.  "HEY!"   I know the dick wants directions, but he's treating me like I'm his freakin' servant.   I straighten out my Donegal flat cap and saunter up to the douche.  "Yessss?" I say.  "Could you please tell me where so-and-so is?" he asks.  Impatiently.   Downright oozing with "entitlement".   I pretend to poke my peepers into his Merc.   "Dude," I say.  "You own a high-end Mercedes and you don't have GPS?"  "It's not working right now," he says.  "Well," I say.  "Get it fixed."   I pause while he looks at me with this ridiculously expectant simper on his lips.  "I might tell you - if you give me 500 bucks," I say.   He turns away in disgust, half laughing almost.  I shrug and tell him, "I may be a bad businessman, but it ain't like I'm your Faithful Family Retainer.  But it's all good.   You don't have to pay if the price is too high."  Then I lean over.  "Of course," I say, "you could always outsource asking your directions to, like, China or India or some such place.  I mean," I say, leaning in toward the dick ever closer, "Aren't they smarter and harder-workin' than American chumps like me?"   I pull my head away from the driver's side while the guy glances at his wife and hurriedly starts rolling up the window.   I get in one last shot, "What are you gonna do, dude?   Get out and beat me to death with your riding crop?"   I send this banker-like asshole on his merry way thus-wise.   Good riddance.   Ever after that, I've been researching how to separate Mercedes hood ornaments from their vehicles.   Like, what should I use - a bolt-cutter maybe, my bare hands sheathed in a pair of work gloves?   I don't know yet, but I really like the idea of staging a raid on some $100 a day parking garage in downtown Beantown and reaping a crop of upside-down peace signs that I can, like, string together and sell on Ebay.   What y'all say to that?