Nothing's too hard for God

Marshall Astor via Creative Commons

Bashar made the drive once a week from Columbia to Kansas City. I-70 wasn’t much to look at, but he liked the alternating billboards that told the story of his life: religion and porn. A mega-church advertising Sunday services, then an adult bookstore trumpeting a sale. John 3:16 in tall letters. A quarter mile later, a gentlemen’s club reminding motorists that they had girls who were not just nude but all nude.

The job was boring, but it gave Bashar time to pray. When he arrived in KC, the men in sunglasses would inspect the guns in silence. They’d nod, and hand over a locked briefcase and a small stack of bills that Bashar knew was his cut. It was always tempting to pull into one of the clubs on the way back. Or even at one of the churches. His money would be welcome at either. But he knew better than to stop until the money was safe in Orchid’s hands.

It all went wrong with six words: what’s the worst that could happen? The passenger seat, where he left the briefcase, was empty when he got back.

Bashar turned the car north and drove.

Gal with Gun Backlit and Contrasty 02

Rafael Mikaelyan via Creative Commons

Ashley Kline
652 Ten Pine Avenue
Ouensten, WI 54936

Work History:

Contract Employee For Zume O’Brien
Worked From: 9/12 to 5/13
Title: Private Security
Duties: Stand around nightclubs while employer drank vodka and fondled club girls.
Reason For Leaving: Contract terminated after shooting employer in the shoulder following an incident of sexual harassment. It was a hostile work environment.

Frank’s Bail Bonds
Worked From: 6/09 to 7/12
Title: Receptionist/Bondsperson
Duties: Responsible for answering phones, filing receipts, posting bounties, training new clerks, tracking, acquisitions.
Reason For Leaving: Frank was arrested and bonded bail through his own company by forging some paperwork. Accepted (self-assigned) the bounty to track him down when he failed to appear. Was forced to shoot him in the hip to prevent flight. Was fired as a result.

Skills:

  • Capable of quickly identifying anagrams and backwards-spelled words
  • Highly observant and able to distinguish minor components of scents

Qualifications:

  • USPSA High Master
  • Hapkido 5th Degree Black Belt

Personal Note:

Because it comes up in every interview, please understand: in spite of recent employment history, candidate does not have a history/habit of shooting employers, it is mere coincidence. All charges have been dropped.

Old van under street lamp light

Jari Juslin via Creative Commons

Three boys with an average age of eighteen decided a battered van, a small sack of weed, a mostly full twelve pack of stolen beer and a four hour drive somehow felt like a plan to get Heath laid. The connection between him and this girl out in the valley was never entirely clear, but we were at the age where scoring hits of ecstasy was easier than scoring with a girl. The inconvenience felt comparatively minor.

Keven and I realized upon arrival that Heath had led us to her parent’s house. The family was remarkably cool about a trio of obvious burnouts showing up on a Friday night in a van belching black smoke. They fed us pasta and made jokes. Heath’s girl even invited a couple of friends over.

I wound up alone in the van with the prettiest of the three. We drank the lukewarm beers and she talked about her off-again boyfriend. The other two couples crawled into sleeping bags on the driveway.

Around sunrise the girl, tired of talking, curled up on the back seat. I slipped out and smoked cigarettes. In the morning I told my friends she was a real good time.

The familiar pile

Sarah Rifaat via Creative Commons

Dirty penny sky at the moment between dawn and morning. Kebber drives to work and forgets the trip a mile at a time. These endless, overlapping cities pass beneath a vas deferens highway ejaculating single occupant vehicles into the womb of the valley. He likes to arrive early and undress in his cubicle, just to feel the exhilaration of staged exposure.

A recurring daydream: Kebber is an actor and he disrobes in a room full of technicians and directors and contractors. His co-star hides plastic surgery scars beneath a crust of makeup. The love-making will be simulated, as is all love. This is not a sexual fantasy, despite its overtones. A camera watches.

The day fills with people as disinterested as the clothing that wraps him in a tourniquet. Pocket computers vibrate; numb, stupid fingers diddle prenominal products without substance. A chin rests on Kebber’s palm. It has been there so long he’s not sure it’s his. Constricting digital clocks like hyenas.

He arrives early and stays late. Chrome and stars drown in the streetlamps while a garage door built for two opens itself. There is no release in homes, and life draws tighter and tighter and tighter.

Erta Ale North Pit Crater Magma Lake

pierre c. 38 via Creative Commons

Krivoth gestured with two folded black claws and his mandibles clicked a hard, wet rhythm as he spoke. “In here is the break room. Coffee, snacks, suffering-sticks, fresh fruit, ichor, the usual.” Ms. Pollibutton’s sagging, chinless face reflected a thousand times over in Krivoth’s faceted red eye. “You get one fifteen minute break every four millennia.” The tone in his lubricated clacking voice suggested he expected some resistance on this point. Ms. Pollibutton remained stoic and pushed her glasses back up her nose.

After a somewhat disappointed pause, Krivoth’s hind legs drummed in sequence creating an agitated, impatient air. “Anyway, moving on,” he said. The tour continued, Krivoth being sure to tick off the points of interest: The Floundering Abyss; The City of Pain; Dyre Labyrinth; Nightmare Valley. Ms. Pollibutton nodded politely at each, never slowing her short, rapid strides. The soft clink of her Cromwell buckles steadied into an incessant grate against Krivoth’s nerves.

“So here’s your workstation,” he said after an age. The loose folds of Ms. Pollibutton’s throat wobbled ever so slightly as she ran a white glove along the dusty outcropping of red stone. A massive anthropodermic book lay on the slab desk.

Krivoth flipped the book open to a page marked with a bone hook using his spiked foreleg. “It works like this: an entrant will arrive at processing. Once Foharr is finished with intake and cleaning, Sinestine will usher it in here. You record the data and let Nesti know which plane is next in the rotation. This is important, okay? If you start double- or triple-stacking the Murdergrounds or whatever, you’re going to have some very grouchy underdaemons. We can’t torment properly if we don’t have time to do the orientations.”

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