Vol VIII The Olympian and Other Very Short Stories

Vol VIII: Short Stories


Glorious Emergency Status Report On The Order Of The Blood Of Thoth

Omnius Maxus Blut Alto.  
I trust this letter finds you dominant in your professional and social circles. As always, read this once and then burn it. Stare directly at the flame until the last ash drops into your palm. Scatter the ashes on your bed. When your wife enters the bedroom for a night of love and notices the scattered ashes, tell her this: ‘Oops, they are Oreo crumbs.’  
I hope you enjoyed that lighthearted turn which was clearly incorrect. As always, the ashes should be poured into a glass of wine and savored.  
Bloodsmen, you were likely alarmed to find this message tucked into the lapel of your pajama top when you awoke this morning. Your instincts are, as ever, razor sharp, and were you stranded in the wilderness with a group of your peers they would defer to your intuition. The trouble that you perceived is this: The Order of the Blood of Thoth is nearly bankrupt. Although as a rule our Order operates on a higher plane than the general hoards, their hapless plunge into financial ruin has finally touched us. To avoid fiscal ruination I have identified a few areas in which I see opportunities to cut costs.   

Airline Ticket Burning Ritual  
We are going to have to change the way we ritualistically burn airline tickets. We can’t burn roundtrip first-class tickets to Shanghai anymore—or Perth, or Cairo, or any other exotic locales. To cut costs, from now on we’ll be burning tickets to destinations within the tri-state area. I’m sure more than a tinge of drama will be missing from the ritual as we set flame to a Southwest Rapid Rewards one-way ticket to Morristown, New Jersey—but it's still a symbolic act of sacrifice. And Bloodsmen, if you haven’t registered for a Rapid Rewards account yet, don’t wait for Miranda to send out another email. It’s a quick and easy savings that we can’t turn down right now.  

Masked, Fireside Sex in a Cave  
There are almost no changes here, except one: we will not hold the orgy in the cave chambers of Lascaux this year.  
Allow me to anticipate a couple of objections: 
The Lascaux caves boast some of the best-known upper Paleolithic art. 
True, but we’re still paying the cleanup costs to remove the lopsided boobs Bloodsman Norris doodled onto that bison.
Everyone knows the orgy must take place in a subterranean habitat anointed by the ancients of the Order of the Blood of Thoth. The ritual would be profane elsewhere.   
Anointed habitat or not, what Pearlstein did to McAlister last year was profane by any standard, and we would do well to remember that we are Senior members of the Order of the Blood of Thoth and not a bunch of Tri Delts on a St. Patty’s fuck truck. 
And while it is true the orgy must take place in an underground lair touched by the ancients of our Order, it just so happens that Lokey Caverns, southwestern Pennsylvania’s third-largest cave, also happens to have ties to the Order of the Blood of Thoth. The grounds boast a picnic shelter and are situated just a scenic 45-minute drive from one of the region’s wave pools.  
I don’t expect anyone to be overjoyed about this move, but let’s be honest: when the fire starts roaring and we all get to whoring, as long as we’re in a dank geological park that evokes the mysterious origins of man and has ties to the Order of the Blood of Thoth, who really cares where it is? Bring your Skull Tablet and flavored self-heating lubricant.

There’s going to be some grumbling over this. This year’s annual global convention is still slated for Atlantis, but not the mythical pleasure island hidden from man. Instead, we’re moving our annual convention to the family-friendly Bahaman resort with dazzling Easter getaway discounts.  
I’m aware that at first glance this appears to be a humongous downgrade. The Atlantis trip is our most beloved tradition and truly the flagship ritual of our order. On the mythical island of Atlantis we communed with the gods who anointed Thoth. We stalked beasts of prey in exhilarating clothing-optional group hunts. In the early morning hours we would murder one of our own and then bring him back to life (except in Greg’s case) and at night we played Mad Libs. Recall ‘Dear KEVIN KOSTNER I am having a FART time at summer camp, would you please send me some more OPRAH’S BRA’? How we laughed. Classic Bloodsman Halpern.  
The reality is, the whole rigmarole of getting to the bottom of the ocean and paying out secrecy bribes is more than we can afford at this moment. I hear the resort’s conference rooms are well lit and include pads, pens and bowls of seasonal fruit when available. Miranda will be sending you quotes for the trip. Bring a swimsuit and your floor-length chocolate robe with the train. WITH the train, people, don’t make Miranda spend the next week taking care of emergency trains again.  
Bloodsmen, you are to be thanked for your continued dedication to the Order and for your compliance with these measures, which may have seemed as though they came out of nowhere. Indeed, you’re likely wondering why you hadn’t heard anything of the Order’s financial deterioration until now, and I can tell you that this is because the losses occurred suddenly last Thursday. A Bloodsman who will remain nameless (bubble butt/laughs like a donkey) used the shank of our Order expense account to act on a stock tip, which blew up in his face that has several distinctive moles.
This is a dark hour for the Order, but we have seen darker, and I assure you that by the vast, supernatural powers of our omniscient lord Thoth (as well as a some common-sense scrimping) we shall emerge triumphant.
On a bright note, the White House Sleepover is still on. Bring your flavored self-heating lubricant.  
Infinitum Maximus Pleneba,  
Grand Monster Ultimus




Recession, Schmessession

            You can’t swing a dismantled WaMu sign these days without hitting someone who’s depressed about the economy. Downtrodden people are everywhere. Walk down the street and you’ll see their hangdog expressions. These people look tired, sad and unattractive. My own friends and family number among them. Now, lupus runs in my family and most of my friends are alcoholic telemarketers, but the point is, you could easily mistake one of them for someone who’s just depressed about the economy.

            I am not one of these depressed people. In fact, I’m on a roll. And I’ve been rolling so well, and so hard, that I want to share the science of that roll with you. If you’re one of these people who’s down about the recession, then listen closely, because what I’m going to tell you will revolutionize your life: recession, schmessession.

            ‘Come on,’ you may be thinking. ‘That rhetorical gimmick of rhyming a word with itself and the ‘schm’ sound in front of it to make it sound less significant? That’s your big secret?’ Yes. It is.

             And it works. Let me show you how.

            First of all, don’t buy the hype.

            Supposedly, this recession is some huge deal, right? It’s by far the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, right? It’s wreaked unprecedented havoc on countless government institutions, created massive unemployment and slowed job growth, right?


            Well, I mean, right. That’s right, actually. But here is what’s wrong: the belief that just because there’s a recession raging you can’t laugh your face off, carpe diem all over yourself and generally have a ball. You should be having the time of your life!

            What follows is a list of common complaints about the recession, and my advice on how to cure them. If any of the following statements sound like something that you’ve said, use my advice and jump on my roll.

            ‘I’m depressed because I lost my job.’

Please. Just look at history. Some of my favorite historical figures were unemployed drifters. Think about it: Jesus, Buddha, Robin Hood. These guys spent much of their lives as jobless wanderers, and their home in the canon of influential movers and shakers is undeniable.

‘I was already unemployed before the crisis hit, and now it’s even harder to find a job.’

If you fall in this category, you really have to be kidding me with the frowny act. Before the recession, you were probably the only slacker in your social circle. You watched daytime television naked under a flannel robe and counted Whoppers towards your dairy intake, right? That must have been embarrassing for you. Suddenly the crisis levels the playing field and you’re bummed? This economy transformed you from a lazy sad sack into an innocent victim! Now, when you borrow money from your parents as they sleep, you’re not stealing, but helping the economy by keeping the late-night rotisserie chicken sector afloat.

‘I’m depressed because I don’t have enough money to eat at the restaurants that I love’

Beloved restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory are integral parts of our social lives. The trouble is, they also cost a lot. The next time you have a hankering for a toothsome dish, try this simple tactic: call your parents and tell them you miss them. Then casually ask if they’d like to go to dinner. Tell them they can pick the place, and in the same breath mention how much you love The Cheesecake factory. Now, here’s what separates the men from the boys: when you sit down to dinner, tell them it’s on you. Tell them to go nuts.  Then call your father ‘Daddy’ a couple times during dinner—I don’t care if you’re a man or if you’re over forty, call him Daddy. When that check comes around, if you haven’t already timed it so that you’re in the bathroom, trust me—Daddy’s picking up the tab.

‘I’m depressed because I can’t go on vacations anymore.’

Vacations are relative.  If a Frenchman came to your town for the weekend, he would be on vacation, simply because he’s not from where you live. The next time you walk out of your parents' basement, try to look at your hometown with the eyes of a foreigner. Try the tasty local delicacies—it will be like you’re tasting them for the first time. ‘Ooh, what is this hot-dog?’

Do yourself this favor, and you’ll be happy all your days: adjust your expectations of life, and by ‘adjust’ I mean lower significantly. Start right now by lowering your expectations of this article. Up until this point you might have been slightly interested in it. Many of you were very bored by some parts, and a few of you went so far as comparing its author to a dodo bird, which I’m hoping has more to do with my intellect than my ungainly pear shape. Now think to yourself: ‘This article wasn’t great. But do I need to read great writing every day? Who do I think I am, Thomas Jefferson?’

That should make you feel better. And for those couple of readers who answered, ‘Well, yes, I am Thomas Jefferson,’ go ahead and get some psychiatric attention. You're on a different kind of roll. 




MOMMY BANGERS Inc. porn script, revised by a writer whose job is in jeopardy after he was accused of sexually harassing a black co-worker, and who is receiving sexual harassment prevention and diversity outreach training. 


HORNY HOUSEWIFE: How much do I owe you for this large sausage pizza?

DELIVERY BOY: Uh—ten fifty.

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: Oh no! My husband’s on a business trip, and I forget where he keeps the money. How can I pay you for this?

DELIVERY BOY: Uh--I could make a sexual quid-pro-quo invitation and you could welcome it.

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: Ooh….or…(PULLING TUBE TOP OVER HEAD) you could respond to my sexually interested cues in a respectful and non-threatening manner.

DELIVERY BOY: Aw yeah…and let me clarify that I’m expressing sexual attraction to you not because of your race, which goes unrecognized to my eyes, but because you have big fun boobs that I’m in a hurry to squeeze.

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: I understand that distinction, and I’m comfortable with it.

DELIVERY BOY: Now, are there any people around here who we might offend by doing this?

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: No, there is no one here.

DELIVERY BOY: So you’re telling me that we’re two consenting adults who are alone and want to have sex outside of the workplace?


DELIVERY BOY: I’m getting hard. Say that again.
HORNY HOUSEWIFE: We’re two consenting adults who are alone and want to have sex outside of the workplace.

DELIVERY BOY: Are you trying to make me come right now?



DELIVERY BOY: You look like a good little girl who likes to post the official sexual harassment policy and preventative measures brochure in your department, huh?


DELIVERY BOY: I’ll bet you monitor the working environment to make sure behavior that may be perceived as sexual harassment stops.


HORNY HOUSEWIFE: Oh God, you know that’s right….

DELIVERY BOY: I’ll bet you raise the subject in staff meetings and express strong disapproval.

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: ...I’m so wet.

DELIVERY BOY: Would you care to have sex at this time?


DELIVERY BOY: I’m going to begin having sex with you. And by the way, your race has nothing to do with my attraction to you, or my impression of you.

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: That is also true on my part: your race, which I haven’t recognized, plays no role in my interest in you or my appraisal of your character.


DELIVERY BOY: Tell me how you like it.

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: Give it to me like you want to recruit and retain the best employees by providing a harassment-free workplace.


DELIVERY BOY: That’s how you like it?

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: Oh hell yeah—give it to me like the kind of man who would contact the Title IX Compliance Officer for advice in the event of a complaint regarding sexual harassment!


DELIVERY BOY: Ooh, you’re a dirty girl.

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: Oh yes…I’m a dirty little girl who knows exactly what I want.

DELIVERY BOY:  What do you want?

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: I reallllly want to make the workplace safe by discouraging offensive graffiti, unwanted touching, and uninvited visits to a co-worker’s hotel room during conferences!


HORNY HOUSEWIFE: At least once a year, I want to conduct training sessions for supervisors and managers that are separate from the employee sessions!

DELIVERY BOY: Aw, shit…hold up. 


HORNY HOUSEWIFE: And although the Supreme Court has never addressed the issue and the lower federal courts are all over the map with their decisions, I want the sexual harassment of gays and lesbians to be included under the umbrella of Title VII!

DELIVERY BOY: You’re a nasty freak whose race is unimportant to me…

HORNY HOUSEWIFE: Despite the lack of judicial guidance in this area, prudent employers should assume that this type of sexual harassment is illegal as well!

DELIVERY BOY: (HE COMES) Oh, shit. I’m sorry.


DELIVERY BOY: I tried to hold off—


DELIVERY BOY: I kept trying to think about an office manager being made uncomfortable by supervisors who regularly told sexually explicit jokes…


DELIVERY BOY: …or several employees posting sexually explicit jokes on an office intranet bulletin board…but then you started talking about appellate court rulings on sexual harassment of gays and lesbians in the workplace and your conviction that despite the debate over this issue, they should enjoy the same protection as heterosexual employees…I’m a red-blooded boy…



HORNY HOUSEWIFE: (EXAGGERATED, WIDE-EYED) Excuse me, sir? You have some cartoons hanging in your office that make me uncomfortable.


HORNY HOUSEWIFE: Yes, you do…they depict sexually explicit material that makes me feel self-conscious.


DELIVERY BOY: Oh—well--I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that they might offend anyone.  I’ll take them down right away. No problem.






To Whom It May Concern:
My dad said he'd get me a Corvette if I got my license on the first try, or a Range Rover if I got it on the second. Because of the shameful training I received at Mr. Tambellini's School of Driving, I didn't manage to pass the driving test until my fourth go, and then I got my dead grandma's Camry. I'm writing to complain about Mr. Tambellini's program.
It wasn't the one my school recommended, but Tambellini's boasted more on-road instruction—that's why my mom says she picked it. She employs a primitive style of child rearing, though (classic example: teaching a curious youngster about the dangers of fire by allowing him to jump through a large bonfire, then refusing plastic surgery to minimize the massive scarring, for fear of encouraging self-love), so I think that choosing Mr. Tambellini's program was just another way for her to express her special parenting method.
Every Tuesday, I'd meet Mr. Tambellini in his basement apartment for an hour of training, then we'd go out for three hours of driving. Based on what I've heard from my friends, typical driver's-ed instruction consists of lectures and videos. Mr. Tambellini's instruction involved an old episode of Cops and him holding his hands up to an improvised steering wheel, encouraging me to "go like this." During the commercials, Mr. Tambellini would offer me juice to drink, which I accepted. Meanwhile, he would drink many cans of beer.
Following training the first day, Mr. Tambellini turned off the TV and went to the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later, he returned, claiming he was OK, but it was clear from various sensory cues (retching sounds, dank intestinal smell) that he had been puking. He told me to "get in the car," and pushed me a little on the back of the head, like I've seen mean dads in movies do. Now, I thought that was weird, but I wasn't about to mess up my chances of getting behind the wheel by saying something about boundaries. After a brief introduction to his Mitsubishi Galant, Mr. Tambellini asked me—begged me, really—to drive, mumbling something that sounded like "They close at 9." I noticed at that point that he was holding a spaghetti-stained MapQuest printout of directions to Ikea.
The Pennsylvania driving test doesn't require any freeway work, as I'm sure you're aware. I mention this to explain my surprise when Mr. Tambellini directed me, within minutes, to the freeway. Chancing a little criticism, I suggested we start on a quiet side street. This is when he gave me a motivational speech—something about salmon dying after they mate—and urged me to "lose myself in the moment."
After an hour, we found the Ikea and I pulled into a parking spot. Before he got out of the car, Mr. Tambellini handed me a note and said it would keep me busy until he got back. It was a simple word scramble and I deciphered the message almost immediately: "The gold is in the glove." Figuring he meant the glove compartment, I opened it up and looked inside. If gold is a Lands' End catalog and a stack of Mallo Cup rebates, I am a leprechaun.
Mr. Tambellini came back one hour later, tottering under the weight of boxes. I got out of the car and helped him load the seven floor lamps and two corner sofa beds with storage into the trunk. As I did so, he muttered over and over, "Atta girl." I was pretty pissed about the wait, so I said, "I'm not a girl." Mr. Tambellini smiled and raised his eyebrows, like he was implying that his claim that I am female might not be unwarranted. (My scarring is extensive, but you can easily tell that I'm male.) I assured him in no uncertain terms that beneath my gnarled flesh I was all boy. He shrugged and we drove home in silence.
That was pretty much a typical day with Mr. Tambellini. Sam's Club was another frequent destination; I'd sit in the car while he bought groceries and DVDs. I was always on the brink of quitting, but it was only after he tricked me into taking him to Hilton Head that I swore I'd never go back there. Now, he doesn't even have a license (it was suspended after his second DUI; I drove him to the arraignment and the hearing), so you can't take it away. I just think you should warn people.
Daniel Winters



The Olympian

I can’t believe this day is finally here! The Olympics! I’ve been training for this since I was three years old. You know, I thought when I woke up today I’d be nervous. But I was surprised to find out that I wasn’t nervous at all. Just a little drunk.

I laughed when I realized that I was kind of drunk, because wouldn’t I choose the night before my big day to challenge a motorcycle gang to a drinking contest. Oh, you’re a card, I said to myself. You’re a joker. I laughed a little bit more as I remembered the evening. Then
I decided that I better get on with my day, what with practice and all, so I asked Chainsaw to untie me.

Time for breakfast. I was thinking of eating the proten-rich meal that my trainer left outside my hotel room, but I found a half-eaten PayDay in the garbage so I just went with that. ‘They don’t call it PayDay for nothin’!’ I said aloud, for no real reason, just to enjoy the cadence of my voice. ‘No, sir!’ I bellowed. I suddenly felt filled with promise for my big day, so I hopped out of bed, threw on some clothes and went outside to chain smoke.

Well whaddaya know! I said aloud, again, as I pulled out my menthols and noticed that there wasn’t even one left to start the morning off right with. Luckily, a homeless man was shambling towards me, and I guessed (correctly) that he might have a few wise words about where to find some butts. He was a nice guy. A little reeking-of-whiskey-and-urine for my tastes, but a pretty approachable guy all the same. He said he liked the motorcycle jacket I won off Jack Knife last night. Thanks, I said. He was wearing a garbage bag, so I couldn’t exactly repay the compliment.

As I was searching the sidewalk searching for butts, I noticed a cute little kid in my sightline walking around with his mom. I was distracted by his adorable waddle-walk for a moment, but then I remembered what I was trying to do and got back to scouring the ground. I found a decent butt, lit it and took a long drag. A couple moments later I heard the kid ask his mom, ‘Why isn’t that lady wearing shoes? 

That’s a great question, I thought. Most people hadn’t noticed my naked feet, or at least they pretended not to. This kid calls it like it is! I thought. A real straight-shooter. Reminds me of myself at that age.  I chuckled as I remembered more about myself at age four. I demanded the best trainers, required handlers to follow a long list of rules about how to interact with me, pushed myself past my breaking point time and again. I was still laughing at this cute memory of my childhood self when I realized—Hey! I’ve spent far too long trying to fish this dollar out of the sewer.

Forget that dollar, I told myself. I have more serious things to think about! For instance, it was only seven hours until the Olympics, and I still couldn’t decide whether to wear my lycra-spandex blend bodysuit with the thousands of sequins hand-stitched on or some old overalls. See, I knew the bodysuit fit me like butter and epitomized beauty and grace, but the overalls would certainly get me some laughs for the big hole in the butt. I keep forgetting to fix it!

I was ambling around downtown Vancouver, weighing the merits of my custom-made 2,000 dollar costume against those ragged farm clothes, when a really unlucky thing happened to me: I stepped on some broken glass. ‘Oh, shit,’ I said, trying to pick the shard out of my foot. ‘I have to do the Olympics tonight.’

I was in pain. I have to do something about this, but what? I wondered. Call my trainer and probably go to the hospital? Sit in a boring waiting room, then wait around some more for parking validation? Maybe get treated to a snack while I wait—maybe not?

Hell, no. I knew that I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but I was at a loss as to an alternative. Then I remembered the words of a classic Beatles song about letting things be, and I knew just what to do.

I called Kenny, the guy who I used to buy Oxycontin from in college, and he gave me the name of a trustworthy guy that I could go to around here.  That guy set me up with horse tranquilizers, and let me tell you, my mood has brightened wonderfully. Searing pain, schmearing pain!

I’ve got about six hours until my event. I have to fit a warm up in there somewhere, but that still leaves me plenty of downtime. I haven’t seen Avatar yet, but the only showing would only leave me about eight minutes to get to the Olympics. I think that if I can grab a taxi right after I got out of the movie then I’d make it. Yeah, I’d probably make it. I’ll go see Avatar.

But who to invite? I could ask one of my friends or family members who came to Vancouver to cheer me on. Then again, I could just as easily go back to that corner and see what the homeless guy's up to. I bet he hasn't seen Avatar yet. And if I throw him a few dollars, he might even duck out a little early to get the cab. Hey, now there’s an idea!




The Glorious Emergency Status Update Of The Order of the Blood Of Thoth—pending publication in The Morning News

Recession, Schmessession—pending publication in The New York Daily News

She Ordered Sausage—published in The Morning News, January ‘10

Mr. Tambellini’s School of Driving—published in McSweeney’s, August ‘07

The Olympian—published in The Yankee Pot Roast, February ‘10