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  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 1 of 11 Home Contents Contributors Featured Poet Poetry Art And another thing... Contact ken*again Safety or Security Spencer Carvalho Ebonys Memoirs Mary Ann Fastook The Beginning Daniel Clausen Theres an Old Adage D. E. Fredd Can Can Tatjana Debeljaèki Flatmates Quentin Poulsen The Day Tatjana Debeljaèki They Evolve David WhippmanSafety or Securityby Spencer Carvalho ack Dalton took a step forward in the line. He traveled a lot and always hated airport security. He knew what a sham it was and that it only created the illusion of safety.He was worried more about the people who work security. These were angry and overworked people with the power to cavity search.“Sir, you may move forward,” said the TSA.Jack stepped forward and stopped. He put his luggage on the conveyor belt and went to move forward but the TSA stopped him.“Sir, you have been randomly chosen for a screening. If you would kindly move into the scanner it will be over briefly.”Jack looked over the TSA. He was a young guy in his early twenties at least a decade younger than Jack.“No way in hell am I getting into one of those things,” said Jack.“Excuse me, sir?”“You heard me. I’m not getting anywhere near your cancer box. If you have to check me, do a pat-down but get a female TSA to do it. It’s weird enough having a strangerfondle me; it doesn’t have to be gay too.”http://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 2 of 11“Sir, I am not authorized to do pat-downs and there is no one else available at this station.”Jack leaned in to read his nametag. He saw the name Charlie written on the nametag but also noticed how Charlie’s uniform was made from cheap fabric, a big differencefrom Jack’s expensive suit.“Well Charlie… I can wait.”“I’ll get my manager.”The people in line groaned. Jack turned around to see them. There was a pregnant woman who appeared to be traveling by herself. Behind her was a young guy aroundcollege age wearing an AC/DC t-shirt. Behind him was a couple in their seventies that Jack assumed were probably married. Jack was relieved to see that there weren’t anychildren within earshot of him. He didn’t want to have to worry about his language.“What’s the big deal?” asked the married man.“These things aren’t safe,” said Jack.The young guy pulled out his camera phone and started recording. Jack looked directly at the camera phone and waved.“When you put this on youtube what are you going to title it? I want to know so I can check it out.”“Uh… don’t know yet.”“What’s your username?” Jack asked.“Tyler Durden 77,” the kid responded.“What, were the first 76 Tyler Durden’s taken?”“Yes,” replied Tyler Durden 77.Charlie came back with the manager. The manager was older than Charlie. He was closer in age to Jack himself but still wore a crappy uniform. The manager appeared to befrustrated.“Sir, what seems to be the problem here?” asked the manager.“As I told Charlie here, I’m not getting into your cancer box.”“Sir, the scanner is perfectly safe,” said the manager.“Patients in a hospital wear lead vests when they get an x-ray but yet a full body x-ray so powerful that you can tell how many inches I am is supposed to be safe. John Waynemade a movie in the desert where they did nuclear bomb tests back when no one worried about radiation because they thought it was safe. Then a few years later the Dukedies from cancer. No one had any idea that irradiated land caused cancer. They also thought that asbestos was safe and that cigarettes were good for you.”“Sir, that was a long time ago.”“Great, so it will only take ten years to find out these things cause cancer instead of fifty.”“Sir, do you really think that we would allow people to use a machine that caused cancer?”“Not you guys. Not the security personnel, but I do know that corporate thinking speeds up the testing process. People who are only worried about money sacrifice safety forspeed. I’m not trusting my health to a CEO who uses a private jet.”The crowd behind him cheered. Jack turned to them and smiled. He knew that he was just getting started.“Sir, these machines are for your own safety.”Jack took a step closer to the manager.“There is a long history of safety measures making things more dangerous. Did you know that back in the fifties when people discovered the dangers of cigarettes that thetobacco companies came up with filtered cigarettes because they were supposed to be safer? In reality the tobacco companies just didn’t want to lose their customers. Theydidn’t really care about safety and the first filtered cigarettes used a “Micronite” filter. The problem was that “Micronite” filters contained asbestos. They containedcrocidolite asbestos. Amosite and crocidolite are the two worst kinds of asbestos. That’s quite a safety feature.”“Sir, are you an expert on these scanners?” asked the manager.“No, but I am a bit of an expert on corporate thinking. I’m a lobbyist. I know how the system really works. Some people think that corporations are evil. They aren’t evil.They’re amoral. There’s a difference. An evil corporation would kill children for the fun of it. An amoral corporation would only kill children if it were profitable. It’s betterthan evil, but it still works out the same if you’re that child. That’s how they operate.”Jack saw the concern on the faces in the crowd. He knew that he was winning them over. The manager showed no concern and appeared to be annoyed.“People think that the government prevents unsafe things from getting out but I know personally how easy it is to manipulate politicians into allowing questionabletechnology to be used.”Tyler Durden 77 moved up closer to get a better view.“I mean just look at Tyler Durden 77 over there. The radiation from cell phones is so strong that keeping a cell phone in your pocket actually kills some of your sperm and yethe is holding it uncomfortably close to the pregnant woman’s stomach.”Tyler Durden 77 looked at how close he was holding his camera phone to the pregnant ladies stomach and then moved farther away from her. She covered her belly with bothher arms. The older couple looked concerned.http://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 3 of 11“Sir, these machines have been thoroughly tested. They are perfectly safe. There have been zero cases of cancer caused by these machines.”“How long was it before people found out that cigarettes were bad for you? How long was asbestos in circulation? There is documented proof that the asbestos industry knewthat asbestos was dangerous as far back as the thirties and covered it up so as not to hurt sales. It wasn’t until eighty-nine that the EPA issued the asbestos ban and startedremoving asbestos from products. Some of you might think that this is a back in the day kind of thing and that this doesn’t happen anymore but when the twin towers fell overone thousand tons of asbestos was released into the air. Many of the first responders are sick or have died from asbestos and other toxicants. It took over nine years for them toget proper medical care. Nine years! That doesn’t seem like the right way to treat a hero.”The crowd cheered again. It was much louder than before.“Hey! Quiet down! Ever since nine eleven you’ve been asking for more security. Well, here it is. In today’s world you can’t have privacy and security both. When you buy aticket you forgo certain rights in the interest of national security. Flying is a privilege and you all should consider yourselves lucky that you can even afford a ticket in thiseconomy. If you don’t like it, don’t fly.”“That’s fine then. I won’t fly. I’ll take a train,” said Jack.“Sir, once you’ve been chosen for a screening you have to proceed. Otherwise you face a civil suit and a fine of over ten thousand dollars.”Jack moved in closer to the manager.“I’m a lobbyist. Do you honestly think I don’t know some really good lawyers?”A female TSA approached.“Finally,” said Jack.“We’re going to do a groin check. That means I’m going to place my hand on your hip and the other hand on your inner thigh. I’ll slowly go up, and then slide down. I’mgoing to do that two times in the front and two times in the back.”“Sure, go ahead,” said Jack.“You should buy him dinner first,” yelled Tyler Durden 77 who was holding his camera phone as far away from himself as he could.Jack stuck out his arms and took a wide stance. The female TSA finished the check.“So… am I a terrorist?” asked Jack.The TSA ignored him and signaled for the next person in line to move forward. The pregnant lady stepped forward. Jack turned to the manager.“Don’t you dare make the pregnant woman go through the scanner,” said Jack in a low and angry tone.“I’ll tell you what, if you move along I won’t scan anyone else for the rest of the day.”Jack looked to the crowd and then proceeded through the security station. He continued to the help booth. The lady stopped typing on her computer and looked up.“Hello sir, how may I help you?” asked the lady.“Yes. I would like to get a refund on my ticket. I’m going to travel by train instead.”Return to Top of Pagehttp://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013 View slide
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 4 of 11The Beginningby Daniel Clausen was successful by my own modest standards. At the very least, I didn’ t worry about money anymore. In my dreams, I saw them there, and I said to one of them, “Teachme about pain.” The person I spoke to smiled briefly, knowingly and said, “Fuck you. Get the fuck away from me.” Winter comes and my company gives me a bonus. It’s apparent by the way my boss hands me the check that he’s worried about losing me—talent flight or something. But no one is worried about losing those who suffer in silence. They suffer in silence—so we learn nothing about pain. We are supposed to learn about teamwork at a seminar at work. I raise my hand and say honestly, “Shouldn’t we take a bullet in the kneecap before beginning ourdiscussion? Before we can become a team, we’ll probably need to share something horrible.” The man at the podium has probably been informed that our company fears myflight of talent. I forget what I’m good at, but it must be pretty serious because everyone nods politely and compliments me on my taste in ties before moving on. One day I drive into a neighborhood where normal people dare not go. I find a man on the street and I say to him, “Teach me about pain.” And it’s strange. He straightens up as if he knows me. “My son, you are flesh and blood, alive but fragile—you are human. If you do not suffer pain then I know not what you are. Spare us this pretentious question and becomeone of us. Only when you admit your pain, can your story begin—for all stories, even our comedies, are born of pain.” A tear falls from my eye. Is that really the cost of a beginning? Do I need to once again find myself cloaked in agony? Do I have to die again? I explain to him that I have something others call talent. “True, this thing others call talent has made you wealthy. It has kept you warm and protected. But it will not make you human. It will not teach you pain. And without pain,there is no beginning.”Return to Top of Pagehttp://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013 View slide
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 5 of 11Can Canby Tatjana Debeljacki he mists of today, steering compass of the future. You are more and more formidable in pouring out the love madness! The samples of disaster are disclosing themysteries of the ancient times. You are fastened up into a knot in the cave of my heart. The mystical ember of light, egotism, self- complacency. Philanthropy in heaven, lipsbeing kissed since nappies! Good morning, the time has been born in the glade, the birds are singing the most beautiful song, the buds are sprouting... Wooden people aretramping over creased faces with their bare feet, poor souls. High and low tides, shipwrecks of hopes! Long scenes prevail; dancing of the waves and winds is embracing thebranches of the willow tree! He has a flower pinned to a lapel; she has fragrance of the sea in her hair!One more night of butoh-can can dance!!!Return to top of pageThe Dayby Tatjana Debeljacki he day that was by no other means different from the others. Caused by the long- term draught, almost every spring in the woods has dried, only a tiny river has stillbeen washing the bottom of the cave with its thin spray of water. The sun was shining on the dust raised around the visitors by the complex of the cloister wooden buildings,finishing its daily routine. Within all this gloomy beauty, I was walking my dog and thinking about whether it could have been possible that I had counterchanged the man fora dog who was afraid of his mother-in-law. And who is quailing like a kitten that mothers of women are their husbands’ keepers. Or maybe it is just the elderly boredom inquestion?Have a bath, to stop reeking on browned flour.Return to top of pagehttp://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 6 of 11Ebonys Memoirsby Mary Ann Fastook EOW! My name is Ebony Pussy Cat or Ebby Cat to my cat purrson who is allowed the privilege of taking care of me. Im an old cat, 17, to be exact. Ihad a big birthday bash on May 15th to celebrate the event. But dont get any ideas--there is still plenty of life left in me. I have no intention of crossing the Rainbow Bridgeand going to cat paradise for at least another 10 years. But I thought that I ought to start writing my memoirs because there is so much to tell since Ive lived quite aninteresting life so far. My first installment will be the story of how I came to live at Mary Anns house. That girl is so lucky! I started out life as a tiny black kitten but I had plenty of spunk and whats more I was and still am one of your smarter cats. Unfortunately, my foolish cat purrson atthat time couldnt take care of Mama Cat and all her kittens so she decided to take us to a place loaded with animal sounds-cats and dogs -and smelling of same. We alsowound up being housed in a metal container. The place was called Bide-A-Wee. Notice that I learned to choose better cat purrsons as I went along. Such choice is veryimportant and this early lesson was not to be lost on me. So there we all were at Bide-A-Wee, and five of us kittens with Mama cat in one cage. There wasnt much room and one of my brothers was a real pushy type andkept shoving us into the corner particularly when it was feeding time. He wanted to hog it all. But the folks at Bide-A-Wee gave us some stuff which I later learned wascanned cat food. We lapped it up quickly. Of course, that brother was always trying to get more than his share. Every day it was the same old thing. Wed move around a little in the cage and nuzzle Mama. Sometimes a nice person would come by and put his finger into thecage and wave it. He would talk to us but I didnt know what he was saying. Once in a while, a strange person would come by to stare at us and examine us and that wasnt sonice. Finally, one day that same brother who was so pushy was listed out of the cage and never came back. I scratched a lot that night. I later learned that he had been adoptedand had gotten himself a home. Now there was more space in the cage for us four and Mama and, of course, there was more food. One of my sisters was the next to leave. Shewas adopted by a lady with a loud voice and a ridiculously large hat. We were now three and Mama. One morning a youngish man who smelled of something Id neversmelled before came by and looked at me. I looked right back at him. He left and then a man with a badge of the shelter on his shirt came back with him and he pointed to me.He opened the cage and took me out to show the man who seemed to like what he saw. They talked as do all humans who seem to talk too much about everything and thenwithout so much as a by-your-leave , I was put into a cardboard case and it began moving. Once out in the street, my poor ears were assaulted by an incredible number andvariety of sounds. I was put down and then it started moving. I did like car rides then and I dont now. I started to howl. My new cat purrson didnt like this and told me toshut up. This made me express myself more vociferously. In due time, we arrived at a two-story building which was to be my home for the next several months. I didnt know it but the building was a tavern. Once inside, helet me out of the case.. I was glad to escape and ran around joyfully. I inspected the room and found a long, dark table in front of which were stools I jumped up on one ofthe stools and looked into a large mirror. In back of the long table there were counters which I also jumped on but they didnt have anything that I could eat. They did havesome fascinating smells. Meanwhile, my cat purrson had left the room and I didnt see him until the next day. This, I later realized, was a bad omen. The routine here was as follows: the place became busy at night when people came in to drink. I was free to wander at will and check out the humans. Food herewas scarce. This guy told me to catch mice. He did let me go outside where I met a fascinating feline named Tom who was a gorgeous hunk of cat. He was a great big blackand white tuxedo cat with shiny fur and a great purr. I couldnt resist him. In due time, I had five kittens. But the man who had brought me there soon became tired of me and my five kittens. He said we ate too much. How could we! I fed them and all I got was somehttp://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 7 of 11milk and a tiny, hard-to-see portion of food. I didnt like it there but what could I do! Some of the customers had the nerve to object to my color. I am a black cat and proud tobe one. Of course, age makes you gray but what can you do. Maybe someday theyll institute feline beauty parlors where stylish cats can have the gray dyed away just the wayyou humans do. This man wasnt too happy with me and my kittens. They were all nice-looking, well-behaved kittens, every one. One day this woman with black hair came by and peeked in the window of the tavern when there was no one there except me and mine. I immediately saw ourchance and leaped up on the windowsill to put my friendliest paw forward. She smiled and seemed to like me. But then she went away. A day later, she came back but before that, that rotten man had given two of my kittens to some kids who had come by. Ill never forgive him! God only knows whatkind of homes they went to. The nice lady took me and my other three kittens with her. But we had to take another car ride. Thankfully, this one was quite short. But we hadanother experience. We had to ride up in a moving box first and that wasnt pleasant either. Once inside, we got to run around and explore the place. There were all kinds of things in that apartment. Under my paws with some material but in other places itwas wood. One little room had stone on the floor and a litter box. It also had a large metal structure which I could jump into but if I wasnt careful, I would get wet. There wasanother structure that if I jumped onto the edge would let me look down into a bowl of water. Wow! But what I liked best was the bed which was soft. Here we got fed verywell with water and plenty of love and petting. She found good homes for my three kittens and I even got to visit one of them a year later. Meanwhile, I settled in and becameQueen of Mary Anns house. MEOW! What you think of that?Return to top of pageTheres an Old Adageby D.E. Fredd round ten I discovered my lucky hat was missing. I always have an early breakfast at Tiny’s Diner out on 119. I hightailed it back there and asked Jenna if she’dseen it when she cleared the table. We crawled around every booth but no dice. Tiny came over because he saw what a state I was in. He showed me the lost and found box;plenty of hats but my beat up, faded “Alaska: The Final Frontier” baseball cap I bought on the cruise Cindy and I took ten years ago was not among them.I went back to the post office to begin my route. You have plenty of time to think when you’ve delivered to the same houses for over a decade. No one at the diner wouldwant that hat. The thing was so decrepit any customer who found it would leave it where it was or tell Jenna. So it had to be one of three guys who had it in for me.Dave Sedgwick is the biggest blowhard. He’s a know-it-all when it comes to sports, especially baseball. If you don’t agree with his loudmouth opinions, then you’re anasshole. Lester Blodgett is retired from the phone company. He sits nursing a coffee, and never has any opinion other than to go along with Dave. Bill Mercier is the joker atthe table. He’s wily enough to get away with some pretty suggestive remarks to Jenna or the high school girl, Tina, they hired to bus tables.Things got a little heated at the table that morning. I came in and hung my hat on the coat hook. Bill, as usual, started to rag me about its condition. I told them at least I wasgentleman enough not to eat with my hat on. Jenna came over to take my order, and Bill asked her if she’d ever had sex with a guy who kept his hat on. She said she was toomuch a lady to tell, but, if it was that new Red Sox outfielder, she wouldn’t mind at all. I got the buttermilk pancakes and thought the hat stuff was over with, but Sedgwickstarted in. If it was money he’d chip in and get me a new cap, just name the team. I told them for the umpteenth time the hat symbolized a very special time for me. In factCindy and I even talked about moving to Alaska. It was my lucky talisman. Then Bill asked how the hat could be so lucky if Cindy up and left me. I didn’t feel like paradingmy personal life at 5:30 AM so I asked them to drop it.But could Sedgwick do that simple thing? No, he kept needling me so I got up to use the restroom and cool off before I slugged him. When I came back, my pancakes wereon the table. Bill was diagramming a football play using the silverware. I figured they got the message on how pissed I was, but Dave started up again. I only took a fewbites of the buttermilk pancakes, swigged some V-8 juice and left without a word.I’m glad for their company most days, but this was not one of them. It wasn’t until after ten when I was nearly done sorting my route and putting the bins in the jitney that Iremembered my hat. I checked the seats of my Explorer to see if I’d left it there. You know the story of my search of the diner. Once that was done, I knew right then thatone or more of those bastards swiped it.I didn’t say anything about it for three days. I truly felt that I’d come in and find it hanging there. One time they did that with Jack Bowman—took his beaded car seat andsent him ransom notes. He was supposed to shave his mustache, or he’d never see it again. Finally it appeared back in his car with a six pack for good measure. A weekwent by and I began to doubt whether they’d taken it. One morning I left the diner, hopped in my SUV to head for my shift at the post office when I smelled somethingfunny. There was my hat on the back seat. It was in a plastic bag, the kind you use to clean up after your dog, and it was filled with plenty of poop for good measure. I wenthttp://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 8 of 11right home and called in sick, which pissed of our postmaster, Jim Amos, no end.I spent the day thinking about how I should handle the matter. I could go in and beat the hell out of Dave, who was probably the ring leader, although Bill wasn’t far behind.If I didn’t do that, I sure as hell should let Tiny, Jenna and the rest of the diner crew know what type of customers they were serving. I could take my trade elsewhere. Eatingat home was cheaper, that’s for sure, and I’d get a bit more sleep. There were other breakfast places, maybe not as good, but at least I could eat in peace.In the end I didn’t do anything. The next day I sat down with them and acted as if nothing had happened. They didn’t let on and I didn’t either. Every once in a while I’ddrop a subtle, seemingly meaningless phrase into the conversation, especially if it related to dogs. The three of them would pause, look at one another expecting me to strikebut I didn’t. When Sedgwick was pontificating about inter-league play, and how lucky it was the Red Sox had Pittsburgh scheduled for six games, I said that the Pirates werea young team with some good players, “Every dog has its day, Dave.” That got his attention.Now I’ve got them where I want them. Walking on eggs they are, every frigging minute.Return to Top of PageFlatmatesby Quentin Poulsen wasnt too enthused about moving to some little hick-town in the middle of nowhere. Thered be only farmers and forestry workers. Probably there wouldnt be a decentgym. Almost certainly I would never meet a girl.But it was a promotion, afterall.The company set me up in a hotel where farm hands used to live. It operated like a boarding house and had about thirty rooms. Obviously in its hey-day it would have beenpacked to the brim, but now it was nearly empty. You got a tiny room with one small window, a narrow bed, a lone chest of drawers and only one power socket. There was acommon kitchen with a gas stove, and a toilet and bathroom block on both floors. The big living room had a colour TV, a rickety old pool table, a couple of sofas and ascattering of chairs.The sole occupants of the living room most evenings were a group of brawny, tattooed Maori fellows, who spent their time on the pool table, drinking beer and smokingcigarettes. They seemed mystified by my presence and asked me what I did, and when I told them they giggled among themselves and said that was no job for a man. Theythemselves were slaughtermen at the freezing works.Each night I lay on my thin, lumpy mattress, wearing two sweatshirts and a coat since I had no blankets or heating, using a rolled up bundle of clothes for a pillow, andthinking: What in hell am I doing here? This is not where I want to be. And my despair was intense.The town had its own weekly newspaper, and you could find out all about everything that was going on in the area just by reading it. There were a couple of ads in theFlatmates Wanted column that week. The first turned out to be away out of town, and there was no public transport there, so I called the other, and the woman I spoke to saidshe and her friend were moving into an empty house and needed someone for the third room. We arranged to meet the following morning.Jane was short and petite, probably in her early twenties, and might have been quite attractive had she not been so tiny. She seemed a little reserved too. She worked as ateacher in a primary school.The house was ancient and the floorboards creaked and rocked a little as we walked around in it. But it was very spacious. The room I would be in, should they choose toaccept me, looked at least twelve times the size of the one at the hotel. That may have owed partially to the fact it was bare, and I realised Id be spending a bit of cash at thesecondhand furniture store if I did move in.We were back out on the verandah when a rusty Cortina screamed up the shingle driveway and bumped to a halt in front of us. Out jumped this chubby girl who could nothave been more than sixteen, her black hair in pigtails, a cigarette in her mouth and a can of cola in the other, wearing a black bomber jacket over white freezing worksdungarees and rubber boots. This was Janes friend, Kylie.In the event, the room was mine for the taking. It almost seemed like I was doing them a favour by accepting it. This was a far cry from the city, where people scrutinised youhttp://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 9 of 11in an interview, promised theyd call you, and usually never did.Jane had some living room furniture, along with a small fridge and all the pots, plates and utensils we would need. The house was already equipped with an old gas stove, andthere was an equally antiquated ringer-washing machine out back in the laundry. We had no TV, and the main entertainment those first few days was provided by Kyliesstereo system, which she set up in the living room.The stereo soon drove me crazy. All these bands were supposed to be the next Beatles or something, but about all they played were remakes of hits from the sixties andseventies. Then there were the ads, seemingly designed for mentally handicapped infants, and the creepy DJs, feigning American accents and cracking juvenile jokes abouttheir own private parts. The DJs wanted to know all the reasons women hated men. Intellectual stuff.So when Jane came to me and said she and Kylie had been talking, and theyd decided I should buy a TV, I was far from against the idea, though I wondered aloud why Ishould be the one to buy it.She frowned at me the way she might have frowned at a child who had given the wrong answer. "The stereos Kylies and Ive supplied almost everything else. Were alsogetting firewood from my father. We just feel its your turn to contribute something."I gazed up from her couch and considered this. The idea I derived any benefit from Kylies stereo was absurd, but perhaps she did have a point. I was determined to makethings work here, after all, and had already agreed to mow the lawns and chop the wood for them - chores a man was expected to do.Jane smiled at her victory; a sort of inward smile of satisfaction. "You mize well buy it straight away then. Theres a sale on at Connors."In fact, local prices were generally a little higher than they were in the city. But the locals expected you to spend your wages in the town if you earned them in the town, and Iwas hardly going to take a three hour bus ride back to Wellington just to do my shopping.So during lunch break next day I went to the electrical appliances store with the intention of putting down a payment on the cheapest TV they had. I was lucky too, becausethe miniature set they showed me was the last in stock and cost almost a hundred dollars less than the next cheapest.The dealer had me sign a bunch of forms, then sealed the TV up in a cardboard box. "Three ninety-nine, thank you very much." He punched the figures up on the cashregister.I stared back at him. "I asked for hire-purchase."He chuckled as though the notion were ridiculous. "Not for sale items, son. Any of the others, yes. But this lil beautys enough of a bargain as it is."Well, Id made up my mind to buy it, and I could just afford it to. So, what the hell, I wrote out a cheque for the full amount and gave it to him.I could tell by their silence that Jane and Kylie werent overly impressed with the puny set Id brought home, especially as I wasnt able to tune it into the stations too clearly.But what could they say? Theyd asked me to supply a TV and thats what Id done. Jane suggested I call the dealer and ask him to come around and tune it in properly for us,since it was under warranty and everything."No, no, no!" He gave me the ridiculous notion chuckle when I phoned. "You wont get a clear picture without an external aerial, son. Its only a cheap lil set." *"Do you think you could turn your light off when youre not in your room, to save us money?" Jane told me.She was on a stool in the kitchen, trying to bring something down from the cupboard. I had to look slightly upward at her as I walked past.I was going to the toilet and would have been back in two minutes, but to keep her happy, I said, "Sure," and went back to turn off my light.I couldnt see what it was she was trying to get out of the cupboard, but she was still struggling to bring it down when I returned. "Do you want some help?"She scowled down at me, as if Id offended her, and didnt reply. It all seemed a bit weird."Also," she called after me as I continued toward the bathroom, "We got some extra groceries. The bills on the table. I havent calculated your share yet.""Thats okay. Im pretty good at maths." And with that I fairly scrambled into the bathroom before she could stop me again.I made a silly error when I worked out the bill. When Jane pointed it out I chuckled at my mistake."But you said you were good at maths," she replied flatly. "Can you see where you went wrong?""Course I can." I handed her a ten dollar note."No. I want the correct change."I paused for a moment to remember life at the hotel. "Okay." I forced a smile. "But youll have to wait til tomorrow. I dont have precisely eight dollars and forty-five cents onme now."She didnt reply to that; just got back on the stool and continued to struggle with whatever it was she was trying to bring down from the cupboard. *A few weeks after bringing it home I found a use for my TV, other than having it sit there for Jane and Kylie to watch. The Rugby World Cup was in South Africa and therewas going to be live coverage of the opening match that night.Curiously, when I got up a little before two, the lights were already on. Janes boyfriend stayed over sometimes and might have wanted to watch it too, but there was no signof him. Or it could have been Kylie. She played for the local womens team and regarded herself as something of an expert on the subject. But neither was she around -mercifully. So I sat there and watched the game alone.I managed another three hours sleep after the game, before dragging myself out of bed again at eight oclock in the morning. I was sitting at the kitchen table with a mug ofcoffee, making a very big yawn, when Jane came in."Weve been talking," she said in the school teachers tone. "Wed prefer it if you didnt get up and wander round at nights."http://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 10 of 11"I was only watching the rugby - on the couch.""Well, were not comfortable with it. The floorboards creak and its very unsettling.""I hear you an Kylie coming home late all the time.""Thats the weekends. Everybody goes out in the weekends.""But you slam the door in the middle of the night. Now, you made me go out and buy this TV, so Im gunna watch the rugby on it."Jane appeared set to launch into an angry tirade, but at that moment Kylie strolled sleepily into the kitchen -wearing a pink nighty which looked a little ridiculous on hertomboy frame. Taking up the dishcloth, she ran it across the bench."Would you mind cleaning up after yuv had your breakfast," she told me. "Itll be one less thing I hafta do round here.""I havent had breakfast yet," I said, and walked out of the kitchen.I wasnt sure which of them had infuriarated me more; Kylie insinuating I didnt tidy up after myself, or Jane trying to impose some kind of curfew on me. I went into mybedroom and closed the door. The solitude was bliss. If only I could have stayed there for the rest of my life, safe from the insanity of other human beings. *The night of the second World Cup match I got up and crept through to the living room. So preoccupied was I with keeping quiet that what happened next was really quitecomical. Firstly, I couldnt find the remote control. And I was still searching for it when I noticed, with some confusion, that my TV wasnt even there.I surveyed the entire room, and my confusion slowly gave way to anger. I knew where it was alright, and I went straight through there and got it. Janes silhouette rose up inher bed as I was on my way out, but I shut the door before she had chance to say anything.The only thing that surprised me when she entered the living room about half an hour later was that it had taken her that long. She was wearing one of her boyfriends T-shirts,which came down past her knees, the sleeves flapping loosely around her elbows."Im gunna have to ask you to leave," she said firmly, in the manner of the righteous and criminally wronged. "Its not working out here. Youre extremely inconsiderate andwe dont feel secure with you here at all. And I certainly wont have you bursting into my bedroom in the middle of the night. I couldve called the police!" Return to Top of PageThey Evolveby David Whippman h, so there you are! I don’t suppose you’ve got the shopping or done any cleaning as I asked? Im expected to do it all, I suppose, and me a semi-invalid. Still, whyshould you consider me? I’m only your mother: the woman who went through agony to bring you into the world. And that was just the first of many sacrifices…Much goodthey’ve done me.I see you’ve got your head buried in a book as usual. When the Shadows Lengthen. One of those trashy vampire novels that you’re always wasting your money on, I suppose.Maybe one day you’ll surprise me and read something that takes a bit of intelligence. To think, at your age I was set for university! I would have got there, too, if there wereany justice. Yes, if only you’d inherited my brains! And my looks, for that matter. Oh, I’m not one to be unkind, but let’s face it: you’re such a great pale pudding of a girl.Sometimes I can hardly believe you’re my daughter. I was a beauty. Could have married who I wanted. Why did I pick your father, then? Good question.That man! Don’t get me started about him. You know what sums him up? The last thing he ever did. Suicide. Finished as he started, taking the coward’s way out. Didn’t thinkof me, left alone to bring you up. As if that wasn’t bad enough, remember the way his sister broke down at the funeral and just yelled at me? “You witch, you drove him toit!” That was my thanks for trying to improve him. I thought I could bring him up to my level, you see. Ruined my health and my looks in the trying.Well, choosing the wrong man isn’t a mistake you’ll ever make. You won’t have that luxury. There aren’t any takers. Nothing in your life except those silly horror books.They’re the reason you’re such a nervous wreck, I dare say. Or maybe it’s wishful thinking – do you fantasise that some tall handsome vampire is going to carry you to hiscastle and make you his bride? You’d need to shed a pound or five first, my girl! They change into bats, not fork lift trucks.Oh, now you’ve even got me talking as though they exist! I’ll end up as crazy as you. You’re like your father, living in a little world of your own. Here, give that rubbish here,http://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013
  • ken*again, the literary magazine. Spring 2013 Page 11 of 11let’s see what all the fuss is about. Oh, I ask you! Look at this blurb on the back cover: The terrifying tale of a she-demon who could only survive by draining the life forcefrom her victims, leaving each a despairing, hollow husk! How can you read such rubbish? That’s all it is: lurid far-fetched rubbish.Return to Top of Pagehttp://kenagain.freeservers.com/PROSE.HTML 3/21/2013