Happiness Inc.

ARE YOU BORED WITH YOUR LIFE? HAS ENNUI ERADICATED YOUR ENTHUSIASM? DO YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING WITH THE DOLDRUMS? THEN YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE! NASH RUDDIN HAS THE ANSWER TO YOUR PRAYERS!

Fat Mick nodded and his jeweled fingers stroked the mouse. He brushed his pyjama silks and gargled some Dom Perignon.

PLEASE ENTER YOUR INFORMATION. IT IS ESSENTIAL FOR ACHIEVING THE ULTIMATE HAPPINESS. IT IS JUST AROUND THE BEND, AS SOON AS YOU INPUT YOUR NAME, AGE, RACE, AND YOUR BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION. JUST ONE MORE STEP BEFORE NASH RUDDIN REVEALS HIS SECRET TO HAPPINESS! DO NOT HESITATE!

Fat Mick rubbed his fat hands in anticipation and his tongue licked lips permanently fixed in a decadent sneer. His finger worked the keyboard carefully and, upon completion, he pressed ENTER. He smoothed back his five hundred dollar haircut. His self-satisfied smile was cruel.

NASH RUDDIN IS PLEASED TO INFORM YOU THAT EACH ONE OF YOUR OFF-SHORE ACCOUNTS HAVE BEEN DRAINED, ALL OF YOUR ASSETS LIQUIDATED!  CONGRATULATIONS ON RECEIVING THE NASH RUDDIN SECRET TO HAPPINESS!

Fat Mick blanched then chuckled, shaking his head with slow mirth. Ha ha ha! The phone rang. He picked it up and brought it to his small, diamond studded ear. His lawyer was frantic. The phone rang. He put his lawyer on hold and it was his investors. The phone rang, and he put his investors on hold to talk to his finanicial advisors. Now Fat Mick began to panic. He stabbed at the keyboard and returned to the website of that damnable Nash Ruddin. He screamed at Nash Ruddin’s grinning face. He destroyed the keyboard, his face red and his larynx tortured. A knock sounded at the door, and the butler went to see who it was. The butler returned with a foreclosure notice, and said ahem he ahem got a call from ahem his employer and ahem that his services were no longer ahem needed and turned in his resignation.  Fat Mick collapsed in the middle of his posh plush palace and rolled like a toddler in the throes of a meltdown. The computer emitted a tone. YOU GOT MAIL! Fat Mick clutched at the desk and pulled himself up by his elbows. He manuevered the mouse. Then he sank down to his arse, his bulk quivering with sobs of relief. Joy exploded from within his being. As he wiped happy tears from beady eyes, the phones rang again.

SURROUNDED BY SPLENDOR ONE FORGETS NOT TO TAKE FOR GRANTED THE THINGS ONE HAS. WITH LOSS IS ONE’S TRUE CONDITION STRONGLY FELT. YOU HAVE LOST EVERYTHING IN LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES. DEAR CUSTOMER, HOW DID IT FEEL? HOLD THAT FEELING, REMEMBER IT. NOW FOR THE TRUE NASH RUDDIN HAPPINESS TREATMENT: EVERYTHING HAS BEEN RESTORED. THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING AND PLEASE DO TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT THIS FREE SERVICE!

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Bits and Pieces of Death

They found him keeled over and clutching a white gilded mushroom. He stirred and said, “I just wanted to taste a destroying angel…”

Before the deployment, his father gave him an engraved silver lighter for luck. It was his grandfather’s. He kept it in a chest pocket and pulled it out occasionally to smoke a spliff. During an exchange of gunfire a bullet caught him right in the lighter. His father received from the military a package containing a mangled silver lighter and soot covered dog tags.

The barrel was cold in his mouth. When he pulled the trigger it clicked. He was curious what it felt like to have a gun in his mouth. He pulled the trigger again. Then again. And for the last time, an overlooked bullet punched through the roof of his mouth and severed his spinal cord. His friends and family were astonished and said things like ‘He was so happy’ and ‘I don’t understand how this could have happened…’

It hung belly up in its bowl of water. It lay stiff and cold in the cage, its eyes and mouth grimaced open, its long ears a-lop. Its purr dwindled off to silence. After a series of small barks its rise of breath shuddered into non-motion. He sat in his deathbed and removed the tubing that crowded his arm and died happily.

Bicycle Diaries

The trail is hedged by oak boughs of many varieties. I careen down this lash of asphalt through the small, false backyard wilderness of the suburb. My spine tingles as my rear wheel rattles alarmingly and a grin scimitars my face as the prospect of being a red stain on stone manifests itself exhilaratingly. A couple of bearings are missing, but what the hey! it keeps my mind off my mind. haha what a pun!

A pair of signs loom as I approach. One lies on its side. Bold black paint on bright, rusted orange proclaims a detour. I don’t listen and follow the path until it gradually curves into disrepair. It leads to a forty meter corridor which span a ribcage of municipal architecture. The bike path that traverses its cool shade is abandoned to progress; instead of the usual asphalt, it is a bone-rattling expanse of stone salved with concrete that resemble the organic, organized chaos of a wasp’s nest. Sitting on a comfortable lump of concrete I imagine to be cooling magma, I am ironically and utterly alone. Forgotten sodium lamps glitter newly where the sunlight sneaks in the gap between constructs. The ground rumbles from above: the freeway is lusty today. It’s a Saturday after all. I get up and walk to the median and urinate feely on the stones, all the while chuckling to myself, for reasons difficult to fathom.

At the base of the Locust tree is the mangled remains of a squirrel. It looks almost mummified. I wonder why it clutches a broken D.A.R.E. ruler in its jaw and paws. A Budweiser lies in pieces around its stiff person.

I sit on this flat sheet of decayed concrete studded with large lumps of gravel, the detritus of the massive construction projects that never seem to finish. The City claims it is soil erosion prevention, but the excess leads me to believe that creek beds are just convenient places to put the waste products of new roads. But nature adapts beautifully to progress and renders urban decay with a multitude of crawling, scrabbling, slithering homes. I frighten a snake and it slips with sinuous panic into the sparkling current, a ribbon of chaotic motion with a definite vector, to peer from a patch of algae. Oh, how it waits, immobile in the bright rushing!

The water’s always appealed to me. Never staying in one place is something I think about often these days. The least I can do now is run in place while the scenery moves me. A battery of birds frolic on bobbing branches.

I am happy, at least for the moment.