Thursday, December 18, 2008

Abelard Winchester Coventry Mystery Series

Abelard Winchester Coventry Mystery Series
The Superfluous Book
I had another half-hour to kill before the client scheduled a knock on the door of the smartest man in Proper, and loyal leg man or not I was bored at my little desk and I wanted someone else to know it. Coventry, at his rather grander desk, finished his third newspaper, scoffed at the world, and took up the inventory reports of his apocalypse bunker. He was right on his daily schedule.
‘Boss, I’m bored. I think I’ll hit the Stairmaster for a few-“
‘You labored on that machine this morning for six minutes past an hour.’ Abelard Winchester Coventry, registered genius, kept his eyes on his work but wasn’t done with me. ‘Exercise is excellent for the brain and the heart, but further waste of calories would be Sisyphean, not to mention vain.’
‘No doubt. But keeping this chair from floating into the ceiling fan isn’t stimulating my mind.’ Plus, beach season was on it’s way and I had a little number that allowed no mystery, but I didn’t think that argument would hold any of Coventry’s water because he was a prude so I demurred. ‘So, I’ll just pop up stairs and…’
‘You finished your crossword?’
‘Yeah.’ I waited, then made a face and said, half keeping the inner child sarcasm to a minimum, “Yes.’
‘You finished it entire?’
‘I’m finished with it, yes.’ Silence. ‘Fine, I couldn’t break into the bottom left hand side at all, and only half finished the other bottom half. If we had the internet then—‘
’We would have an electron miasma poisoning our synapses. 60 Down is “Trousseau”.’ He spelled it for me, and given that hint I had to get back to work. Bastard didn’t even write in the answers, he just looked at the crossword for a few minutes before I cut it out. Yes, vain displays are Sisyphean.
I like to think that the Coventry home is a study in contrasts when I admit clients. Their reactions to shifts reveal a thing or two about their mental states. My procedure was wasted on Francine Able, but I used it anyway. A short woman, early forties, and buttoned up and prim from shoes to boring hair. She dressed like she was on her way to beg to a banker. She took one look at my jeans, black T-shirt, and dark strained red hair just touching my shoulders and she made a face to say “a terrible mistake must have been made because we both occupy the same space.” I get a different face when I usher male clients.
I tacked her down as a mean Sunday school teacher, and dismissed her accordingly. Then I smiled and ushered her through the sunlight drenched yet barren hallway to the dark, brooding private office of the boss. He kept the lights dimmer than most would like in their office, except for a few wall lamps highlighting various doodads he liked to stare at from time to time. One of the doodads was an early, discarded page of the draft of the Declaration of Independence he got from a former Supreme Court Justice whose wife was a doper. That case was before my time.
‘Missus Able, sir.’ I showed her to a chair more comfortable than mine, watched her sit, then took a flanking position at my desk. My standing orders at this point is to look, listen, and disappear until spoken to.
‘You are Abelard Coventry, correct? I am in the right place?’ Her voice was stronger than I would have suspected. I’d expect it to be hoarse from yelling at small children about Hell I guess, but then the boss tells me that I’m too impatient for any critical thinking analysis more time-consuming than prejudice so what do I know? Also I’m still not used to the southern accent. It still feels like an act, like an amateur theater group playing Gone With the Wind, but damn it these people actually talk like this. Weird creatures, but we went to a Hell of a lot of trouble to conquer them in the Civil War, so we’re stuck.
‘Yes, madam, I am Abelard Winchester Coventry, for good or ill, and this is my dogsbody, Fallon Bridle. Her tongue is vulgar and lacking in grace, but it’s discrete. You wish to hire my services, but I’m, ha, afraid your letter was as vague as shadow in a trench.’
‘Yes. Well.’ She clutched her blue purse/bag to her blue clad chest and I wondered if she had a breathing device in it hooked to her lungs because the color of her 19th Century modesty-conscience getup hurt even my throat, and I was all the way behind my desk and out of harms way. ‘I suppose I must tell you everything?’
‘First you must tell me what you want. The issue define, hopefully, we can omit the necessity of universal cogitation.’ She took the boss rather well. Most people assumed he was making fun of them, which wasn’t fair because he was just mean, not mocking. However, I think Francine Able was more embarrassed than nonplus.
‘Well, my husband has a number of a photographs, five, and I want them.’ Oh really?
‘I shall presume you have asked him directly for these photographs.’
‘Don’t. I haven’t in ten years.’
‘You are separated?’
‘No, of course not!’
‘Well, madam, I fear you may be asking omniscience of me after all.’ She cleared her throat. Here it came. ‘My husband is Dr. Perry Able, dean of Falcon Head Preparatory Academy, and we have been married for twenty years last month. He is a very cautious man, and I’m afraid some early experiences, before we met, soured him on the whole idea of trusting women.’
‘Not unwise.’ Dogsbody or not, someday I’m going to kick him.
‘Hmph. Well, then you understand, and I suppose you will think he has some… some… psychological disorder. I’ve been told that before, by experts.’
‘I reject psychologists, at least expert psychologists, but I accept the terms of the school if used under a named dictionary. However, I suggest, for the interest of my time, you make yourself plain using whichever language you are most comfortable with, if not English.’
I’ve seen this before. Anger helps people get over their embarrassment long enough to spill it. However, boss doesn’t infuriate potential clients for this reason. Or any reason that I can detect, but then again I’m not a detective. I’m a dogsbody.
‘Well, as a deposit of my trust, I allowed my then fiancĂ© to take pictures me in compromising positions in a context that… doesn’t speak well of my propriety. Do I need to detail them?’
‘I will charge you extra if it is necessary.’
‘Well, he took them, and hid them from me, and now I want them.’
‘Do you--no. Why do you want them now, after 20 years of marital bliss?’
‘Because he’s a fool to still doubt me. He was been nothing but kind to me, and I love him and he loves me back, and we have created and raised three perfect children that I love more than I can say, and I want those Goddamn pictures and I will pay to get them.’
‘After I remove the pictures, your husband will notice them missing and your tranquil union will be jeopardized.’ I like the lack of “if” in that sentence. ‘Pretend reason, madam. To what purpose do you wish these pictures?’
‘To give them back to him, of course.’
‘Of course. I shall need a written contract, dated, and a retainer adequate to fill the final bill; otherwise these pictures could give this job the patina of blackmail to the causal observer. I suspect a period of three days effort. That is expensive.’
I walked Missus Able out. She gave me one last disapproving look, then thanked me like people thank their dentists and was off to whack children with rulers or cluck her tongue at married adults holding hands in public. I heard Coventry banging about in the kitchen, as glaring and sparse an enclosure as the hallway, so I slipped off my shoes and padded on my bare feet to the kitchen’s sill just to annoy him. Plenty of brilliant men thought my feet were cute. This genius thought my feet allowed me the art of autokinesis. I leaned against the wall and crossed my arms over my lower class T-shirt.
‘I don’t think she likes me.’
‘She no doubt considers you a harlot. Not without reason: her subconscious very likely saw the two artificial holes in your ears made with blades for the purpose of pagan adornment.’
‘Hmpf. Check adequate?’
‘Ample. The woman has no talent for business. That she has no training should be obvious.’
‘Spotted right off when I saw that her shoes fit. Speaking of business, I assume you wont be leaving your abode for this job.’
‘This afternoon I shall be reading a transcript of a recent talk on economics and disease in Africa by Emily Oster. It came in the mail while you climbed a nonexistent mountain in the comfort of my home. The female is an ecstatic thinker, but she can think, so I shall require solitude to check her work. I wont require a woman scampering underfoot to distract me. Later, I must solve the solar panel problem for that fool in Arizona. His check cleared. Non-goat herders in Arizona are invariably trustworthy.’
‘Who would want a woman underfoot? I’ll arrange with the client for a good time to get into the house. I figure we should get the servants out so they don’t gossip about a nubile, breathtaking young lady like me in too tight jeans noising around the Master’s chambers. I can find these pictures in your three days of effort.’
‘No need. The pictures are in the dean’s office of the preposterously named Falcon Head Preparatory Academy.’ He mixed an ice sauce, from scratch, with the force some people use to murder.
I turned my head to get some of my hair out of my eyes. ‘How do you figure?’
‘A tale of wife searching for photographs, in her own home, for twenty years—and not finding them? Claptrap. Wives are as good at sniffing as bloodhounds. There is only one qualitative difference between female humans and dogs.’ He opened the oven, sniffed, then closed it. ‘This trout resists. Remind me not to patron this fisherman again. He has bad luck. For a female of status to grow so desperate as to relay her graceless tale to two strangers means that she has checked all paper trails, so no safety deposit boxes. No banks, no post offices. Besides, such a man with the credentials to govern such a privileged school, forsaking riches, would no doubt amuse himself with pictures of his wife in his sanctum sanctorum after giving a lecture on morality to an errant student. I suspect he is a graduate of Harvard. The institute attracts the wealth of students blissfully free of reality when they pretend to think.’
‘Yeah, a bunch of dummies. So what’s the plan?’
‘You will contact your patron, Miss Feinstein, and-‘
‘She’s not my patron.’
‘You will contact Miss Feinstein, whatever she is, as she is ideally placed in their society, and she will enroll you tomorrow at the Academy as her hopelessly rebellious niece that has been expunged from institute after institute. That should satisfy two egos. Once positioned, you will act out, play the brat, be sent to the dean for a lecture, and memorize everything in the office. Then you will finish your school day as a schoolgirl in case I need another intrusion. The work may require an additional day. I shall expect a report on the office after Miss Feinstein drops you off.’
‘The academy is for high school students. I’m twenty-six.’
‘You are sufficiently youthful. However, you may make what preparations as you see fit. Please don’t use drugs in my home. Keep the receipts of legal purchases.’
I could be insulted for flattered. To serve Coventry, and to keep from committing the act of homicide, justified or not, it’s a good idea to go with flattery whenever possible.
I sniffed the air for the rainbow trout. He noticed it, but then again he notices everything.
‘I prepared it as Wulfe Trout. There is more than enough for two.’
‘I’ll call Feinstein after lunch.’ The problem with a genius is that he can make things, like trout, better, so he has to be suffered.
The bus. I rode a school bus, and the horrible thing was that it was rather pleasant. It had been some years since I suffered a pack of young men sniffing about. Dogs. Lovely, adorable dogs. Still, none of them could tell the difference between confidence and arrogance. And they didn’t seem to appreciate that, after the glorious act of sex is finished, there’s this whole thing called “living together” that happens. Jesus, I felt old.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Have you ever seen Weeds on WEED, man?

As you all no doubt know, Weeds has the best spanking scene on TV since the black and white age ended. I've had a crush on Mary-Louise Parker for years(the woman doesn't age) so I netflixed the first season.

Awesome. I love this show. It isn't House good, or Scrubs good, but it is really really good and it's nice to take a break from watching shows about medicine. I used to work in a hospital, and I'd rather go to a snake charmer than to a hospital.

However, the show prompts a depressing question: why are most of the successful shows these days premised on moral depravity? Hold on, MLP is bending over a kitchen table in tight blue jeans... awwwww. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the future of my brilliant blog.

I think I'm coming out of my seasonal depression. However, soon will be the holidays, so I wont have much time to write before I spend all my time focusing on not killing myself.

I was thinking about starting a spanking themed "choose your own adventure" type series. Let my countless fans vote on where the story goes. Any thoughts?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lurkers of the World: Unite!

You have only your anonymity to lose.

Well, here I am, Pallidbust: author/operator of Proper Spanking Stories. Here at Proper we believe in the imagination, so with few exceptions we only post the first few chapters of any given story, then let you, the reader, explore your own creativity to figure out what happens. Also there is a snoose button on my genius box, so I'm a little behind schedule on my writings.

Lets see, something about me. Well, I've always been fascinated by spanking, but I didn't realize that spanking was as necessary as food, shelter, and love until my high school girlfriend's birthday.

She sat on my lap and before us was a computer. Back then computers ran on vacuum tubes and were powered by two caffeinated gerbils on a tread wheel. We dialed Prodigy and were hurled into the internettubeswebhighway to look up the Victory Secret's website.

"How about this one?", PB asked asked in perfect innocence.
"You think I look old, don't you?" answered evil, backstabbing heart eating wench whom-I-hope married a drunk.
"Um... no, we're in high school. How about this one?"
"OK," I said, happy to make progress. "So I'll just pick the size and..."
"That's not my size!"
"Sorry." I smiled, hiding my teeth to show no aggression like the baboons. "You know I've never bought female clothing before so a learning curve should be..."
"Is this your subtle way of telling me I should lose weight? You think I'm fat!!"
"Um... no. Here, I'll just pick... this smaller size."
After I wiped the blood my from my eyes and found the strength to stand, I snapped my nose into place and asked my first and last love whatever was the predicament.

"OH, so now you're buying me paternity clothes in anticipation of getting me pregnant, so I wont go to college and learn how to maximize my potential as a womyn!! Dependent on you economic domination, I'll be your domestic slave, barefoot in the kitchen and, while not exactly illiterate, possessing only a high school literary background. My mother told me about guys like you. You're all alike."

Then, dear readers, Pallidbust learned the importance of spanking womyn. A little later I learned the importance of restraining orders. Apparently spankings should be consentual. Live and learn.

So take a look about. So far my magum opus is Reform. I warn you: it will be the best experience of your life. It'll be all downhill from there.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Democracy Now!

Tomorrow is a "historic" election because, as you all know, not all United States Presidential elections are recorded by history. There's that "U.S. Dark Age" between 1874 and 1902--we have no clue who ruled in those years. Perhaps one man, perhaps unicorns. It might have even be me--wedon'tknow. History is mute. They just weren't historic enough to write down.

But tomorrow, the future, will be history when it is the present. So I submit a timely video for peer review.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Education is a Lifelong Endeavor

I've been reading about Roman Fasces. There has to be the first chapter to a spanking story in there somewhere. It's just too perfect.

The traditional Roman fasces consisted of a bundle of white birch rods, tied together with a red leather ribbon into a cylinder, and often including a bronze axe (or sometimes two) amongst the rods, with the blade(s) on the side, projecting from the bundle.

It has everything. A period when corporal punishment was the norm, handy birch rods (with the added tang of worse punishment from the axe), togas, legal authority... sultry Italian women. Everything.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Writers' Strike!! *Updated*

I have been insulted, and I demand satisfaction. Dammit.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Bad news for American writers hoping for a Nobel Prize next week: the top member of the award jury believes the United States is too insular and ignorant to compete with Europe when it comes to great writing.

Yeah? Well, that would explain that Swedish flag on the moon. Also, I note, the F-22 Raptor, which I think we should use... That's right, people, we own the sky, so you should respect our writing better.

Horace Engdahl is quite the diplomat:

"Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world ... not the United States," he told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Tuesday."

Oh, I didn't realize. Well, I guess I'll go on strike then. I shall continue to not write, but now I'm doing it as the subject of a big, insular culture.

Now, I could give a "big culture" argument for the occasional accidents of beauty that is American scribbling, but instead I'll use pure logic:

Horace Engdahl is an asshole, and I hope he dies an asshole's death.

My stories about spankings are done until the entire U.N. passes a resolution to my glory. It would be their first resolution that actually did something in the world, and it would be glorious!

Hell with it. We still have Elvis. You hear that, Horace? Elvis.


Magnus, a high ranking diplomat from the Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy of Sweden, has assuaged my wraith with wise words that, like the Outlaw Josie Wales, carry the word of both death and life.

The Great Writer's Strike of '08... is over. For here-on-out I shall resume not writing out of laziness, not revenge. Fellow citizens of the world, I ask you to try to get back to your lives as best you can. That is all.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Find your voice!

This is so very and egregiously funny that I want to have a daughter so she'll marry it and make me grandchildren that will carry the blood of My Family Line and this article, and these grandchildren will rule you.

The Lupus Pictures folks (they make good product) are looking for feedback from the fans. Seeing as I've estimated my fan base at about three-billion, yet have, like, two readers that leave comments, I understand their thirst for empathy. Oh how tragic is my life!

Anyway, it's kinda cool and "meta" that the spanking industry has gotten to the "Pepsi Challenge" stage of marketing. "What do you want in a film about spanking?" People, we are through the looking glass. I'm just saying.

On a personal note, I would like to personally note that I gave serious thought today to writing the next chapter of "Tessy Plinkerton Saves Proper", but then I got distracted by something shiney. It did shine... it shines still...


Words fail me

Paul Newman is dead. Damn it.

I am now depressed. I am going to go to a fancy eatery and order fancy food and drown myself in alcohol and confections. Tomorrow I am going to buy a shit load of Newman's Own salad dressing. I like the Light Italian myself.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm so freaking lazy...

"Lazy" is a word I use a lot to describe my work habits. I use it because I am just.

But I feel I should post something to appease my throng of fans. So here is a little thing I wrote some years ago. Am I proud of it? I can say only that I wrote it.


A Man I Met in a Steam Room

“My left eye got blown out by a booby trapped Libyan cigarette. I found the Libyan. Made him eat his arm to his elbow before putting a hammer to his brain again and again. My missing pinky? Kalashnikov, Korean border. Cut off his balls, but he got away with his life. I made the mistake of trusting U.N. Peacekeepers. Never again.

“Oh, I have scars alright. I’ve got a red line from my right pinky toe to my dick. Sudanese cut me with a blade made from melted down Italian WWII bullets. Buried him alive with his family watching. I say my right pinky toe because I lost my left to a baby Great White on vacation in Nassau. It tasted like chicken.

“Bus bomb exploded in Dublin, sending a child’s femur bone into my ear; my left one. Can’t hear shit there, but I still have to pay for the second ear mic for my Ipod. I pled my special case, but the hippy manager at Best Buy didn’t care. Ain’t fucking Christian, you ask me.

“Scars? I strangled a Nicaraguan with his own intestines, but the fucker bit a chunk off my neck. He was a wetback vampire, but he died alright without air to breath. You notice how my hair parts funny? Cuz a Turk tortured my head with lemon juice and straight razors. It’s okay, I got him back with acid and rusty nails.

“You might have noticed my missing left testicle? Amsterdam whore got a little over enthused in her work. Bit when she should have sucked. I let her be, since she only had one leg and all—but I did not tip her.

“Scars? Let me tell you about scars. Got sent back to medieval Spain in a time machine. Fucking priests roasted my ass on the hotseat. Iron chair with a fire lit under. You know what your own ass smells like on the barbecue? I do. Those priest burned up my ass pretty good. Singed my only testicle, too. Here’s my necklace of their teeth. Mostly Incan gold. Sort of my rainy day money.

“My testicle still works, but I hate explaining the scars to the whores. Ruins the magic, you know?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wedded Females in Despair

There is no way spanking wasn't on the mind of the photographer of this TV Guide photo. No. Freaking. Way.

I feel that we are winning the culture war, spankos. Keep it up, and victory will be ours.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Sorry ladies, but PB is in love

Now I just need to meet the woman, and it's all gravy for old PB from here-on-out.

Enjoy my kindred.

Damn it! I can't figure out how to upload it here, so I'll link. She's so far... far away from me.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I feel I should say something...

I simply want to note, my billions of loyal and hand-wringing when will PB post a brilliant story again fans, that yet again England proves both that America is not the most lascivious and crass country in the world, and America needs to get over herself and start rating female's bottoms on a number system. I swear, you Brits are light-years ahead of us on vanilla spanking media.

Behold, some woman called Jennifer Ellison has, by democratic decree, the most delectable rear in all of Oceania!! Is there an international contest? I'm voting for Jessica Alba. Bring home the gold, Alba! USA!!!

Still, this Jennifer person seems delightful. "Rear of the Year" delightful? I am but one man, and I don't have the hubris to make such a claim, but surely she has the Rear of a Month at least. At least, people! Be fair.

I'm going to do something I almost never do: I'm going to be honest. The truth is, I posted this post for two craven reasons:

1. I didn't feel like writing a story. I'm tired.
2. People were tired of seeing Sarah Palin's massive face staring at them.

All legit reasons, if you ask me, but you haven't, so I've supplied the answer anyway because I read in a book that it's good to be proactive.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Proper Political Spankings

All of us here at Proper Spanking (me) officially endorse Sarah Palin for the next vice president of these United States because she is a smoking hottie. A fiscally conservative smoking hottie. Observe:

She's got this naughty librarian thing going on and I dig it. Put a ruler in her hand and... yes. And yes and yes and a billion times yes. There is something so sexy about smart chicks (I'm assuming she's smart because of the glasses). I think it's because breaking a smart chick with pleasure is a victory of male prowess over reason and education.

However, I'm not going to make a play for her, even though she is hot and as we all know power is sexy, because her husband is a lumberjack.

Look at him. I have never been drunk enough to hit on the woman of a guy that size, and I beat an Irishman (whose girlfriend just dumped him) in a drinking contest. Mr. Palin could bite through Joe Biden's skull, and may have to.

Sarah Palin in '08!



I thought I stole the "naughty librarian vibe" line from my friend, but it turns out that stealing bastard stole it from Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson. Sorry, Craig.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reform, Chapter 1en.

Chapter 10

Same [Expletive Deleted], Different Day

I was a big freaking hero. So were others, but they can write their own books. I was all over the internet, the newspapers, the TV (though I didn’t have access to any of them), and the freaking President was going to give me a medal that I could probably sell for thousands of dollars. Ahhhh…. Victory. Sweet mother victory.

But it isn’t all about me. I knocked on Ash’s door with my arm that wasn’t in a sling, got the word, and opened it. My jaw almost broke on the floor. I waved my good hand in a frenzy.

‘You look awesome!’

‘It’s different!’

And she did. A knee length dress, red like her hair but with scary awesome Jap dragons climbing up along her sides, red like her hair, lip stick, red like her hair, a purse, red like… well, you get the idea. She looked like a high end, top flight harlot, piquing my envy. My purse holding muscles had atrophied, but I plotted how to steal hers’ nonetheless.

‘You packed?’ I felt childish in my school uniform, so I sat on her bed and unleashed my hair to hide behind it. My butt was still sensitive from the electro spanking, but if I knew one thing it was how to survive a spanking.

‘Joel’s on it. He should be at the car now. Your girl is getting that tracking doohickey inside me turned off so the satellites wont call down the army when I cross state lines, and Lauren is picking up my paperwork and I.D. cards. I’ve said my goodbyes to most everyone except you.’

I waved her away. ‘I don’t do goodbyes. If you don’t email me once a week I’ll track you down and kill you, satellite or not.’ Ash moved faster than my brain registered light via my eyes (a trick most people can do it seems. I need better reflexes). I found myself incased in Ash, her kneeling on the ground before me, messing her dress and squeezing all the oxygen out of me. She wept a little. That’s the way it is with tough guys. You can beat them all day with a cane, but if you wanna pump a gallon of tears just show them the end of a sap movie and they turn Niobe.

I hugged back.

‘Hey, maniac. Come on.’ I patted her back. ‘Look, it’s not like one of us is going to the moon, muscle atrophy from the reduced gravity to the extent that a return to Earth would kill us, and thus we’ll never meet again.’ The truth was that I wanted to cry to beat the band. Ash was being released into Taggart’s custody. The President, the public opinion whore he was, nixed the nine years she had coming (nine freaking years! That’s thirteen years of high school total!)(one year for reckless use of an automobile, eight for escape attempts) and, as parole, put the little vixen into the care of a recently retired Free Range Agent. The idea was that her parole needed to be watched by a man capable of killing a bear with his bare hands, and the retiree needed some excitement in a boring life of teaching others how to kill bears with bare hands. They say retirement is the number one killer. We’ll see…

Parole aside, of course, Ash and Joel were totally hot for each other. I watched Ash baby Taggart on the EMT’s stretcher when the cameras recorded Snuggle Bunny explain how she shoved Alexia’s nose into her brain by ramming the traitor’s breather into the locked Utility Room door again and again until the door burst opened, allowing SB to turn the power off before the damn bomb charged to a critical mass to kill us all. Adorable. I love having a tough guy protector for a girlfriend. If wolves, pirates, or DDU agents ever attack me, I’ll just unleash The Snuggle Bunny, sit back with a martini for sipping, and watch my enemies catch a world class beating.

I fixed Ash’s tear stained eyeliner (DAMN IT I WANT EYELINER TOO!!!) before escorting her to the garage. I prepared her for life on the outside, which was apropos because we were outside.

‘The trick to good Chinese food is wooden chop sticks. Don’t go into that ivory crap. Pretentious nonsense. Oh, and make sure Joel takes you out to eat after the movie. You eat before the movie and all the blood is in your stomach instead of your head, where it belongs at the theater. Plus, you know, you have something to talk about at dinner. Let him talk first. If you disagree on the movie he’ll get defensive because men are like that. Find out how he liked the movie, then… This is so unreal.’

We stood outside, in front of the garage, where a bunch of cars sat ready to be stolen, and nobody was spanking us. The other direction was Mother Earth with all her glories, plains and trees begging/demanding eye attention. An intoxicating paradox.

Taggart’s car sat around the bend in the guest parking lot.

‘I know. Getting out…’ Ash grabbed me and stared me down like she is want to do. ‘Joel has a Mustang. A real one.’

‘Well I want to see it.’ I pouted even though I didn’t really know what a “real” Mustang was, other than a horse.

‘It has an internal combustion engine. A real one. I love him. I…’ I pat her cheek. I could tell that was the first time she said it aloud. It wasn’t casual enough. It was a confession, not a statement. And she didn’t love him because he had such a vehicle; it’s just that an honest man on a public salary putting in the effort to acquire and maintain such a beast is the type it took to acquire and maintain an Ash. That type of guy. ‘I’m sort of scared, you know?’ I nodded. ‘Of course, I like to be scared.’

‘Is he going to… you know.’

‘He’s threatened to spank me everyday for the rest of my life if I don’t calm down, but I don’t think his heart is in it. He’s got this hang-up about keeping the innocent safe from pain.’

‘Yeah, but is he going to spank you?’ I like making her laugh. And I’m good at it.

‘Your girl is coming. Hey, could you distract her? Lauren is coming in a sec, and I only want one goodbye. Okay?’ See? Tough guys are saps. ‘And I have a stuffed animal for her in the car I need to get. And, you know, Joel is packing the car, I’d like a last private moment with him here, where we met, you know?’

‘But you didn’t meet him here.’

‘Yes, but I stopped hating him here.’

‘Right. Say no more. Run on, then.’

Ash walked off while I blocked the invading Snuggle Bunny with hugs and kisses. She only put one arm around me because the other was in a sling, like me, but I don’t accept excuses so I kissed her twice as hard to teach her a lesson. I did have to release her eventually because of oxygen and the human need to consume it. My nose never quite healed.

‘Where’s the psychoooo?’ Darlin Snuggle Bunny slipped into her southern accent. She did this whenever she got to converse with a fellow rebel, even if born again.

‘She’s being efficient. Wants to say goodbye all at once. How was your call to Governor Phair this morning?’

‘Just got off the line with the Honorable Lady. It was nice to talk to someone from Georgia, even if she wasn’t born there. Getting pretty sick of Texans and Yanks…’ Meaning me, so I punched her in her good shoulder. ‘Hey! Just for that I’m not going to name the next star cruiser after you. Happy now?’

‘Yank?! I’m from the… What?’

‘Yeah, the Queen Georgia Peach is slated to name this new fangled solar liner supposed to make trade with the plastic plants on Pluto viable. She told me I could name it for my legendary-in-our-times heroism and because she couldn’t think of anything good herself. I don’t know what her ideas were because our line got cut and I couldn’t get her back. But now I’m naming the dang thing after the family dog. “All aboard! The F.A.S. Roscoe leaves in ten minutes!”’

‘You are naming that damn thing the F.A.S. William Archer after my dad or I will—‘ She took one step closer.

‘What? What will you do?’

‘I’ll put salt in your coffee for the rest of your life. See your governor best friend save you from—wait. Wait, wait. Weren’t you turning off the tracker doohickey in Ash’s body?’

‘No. No, how could I? I wouldn’t even know who to call, and even if I did, what power do I have tell a Fed to… didn’t Taggart already inject her?’


‘Yo!’ Killroy sauntered up with her hands out in the “what the fuck” gesture of my beloved New Yorkers. ‘What the fuck!? Phone lines are out so I can’t get any paperwork through the Faxdat. It’s like Jersey around here.’

‘Paperwork?’ I said and thought aloud. ‘Lauren’s getting Ash’s paperwork.’

‘That ditz? Nah, Ash asked me, and I thought, “What the Hell,” ya know, “Hey, I once processed the paperwork for a big damn hero, you hear?” to my grandkids, sept I can’t because the damn phone lines are… hey, what’s with the power?’

Snuggle Bunny and I followed her gaze. ‘What?’ SB asked.

‘The light to the garage door security lock.’ Killroy said, pointing. The little box was dead of light. ‘See, the little button should glow red, but it ain’t on. Powers out now—this is Jersey I-swear-to-God.’

‘Wait! You didn’t deactivate Ash’s tracker, and you were working on her paperwork. So… Ash lied to me. So… Ash is—‘

‘Hey!’ Lauren pounced on us. ‘I have the letter!’

SB snatched it. ‘What letter?’ Lauren felt hurt. SB could be a little harsh at times of total chaos, probably because she preferred order over chaos, but I’m no shrink; I’m just the person that nibbles her ears.

‘The letter for Danielle in the Utility Room. Ash forgot it there and asked me to get it. Funny, the lights went out after I closed the door.’

We stared at her. Well, most of us.

‘Yeah,’ Killroy slanted her rat eyes at the garage. ‘All these tires are slashed but good. These cars aren’t going nowhere.’

‘Wait,’ Snuggle Bunny said again. ‘This letter is addressed to Taggart, not Danny.’ I snatched the letter from SB.

‘Oh?’ Lauren peered over my shoulder. ‘Well, Ashley didn’t ask me to look at it, she just told me to grab the letter five minutes after you two left her room, then make sure I closed the door all the way until I heard an electric snap. I thought it was a game.’

Killroy shoved me. ‘Hey, lookit. A ring of keys is hanging out of the Car key box. Lookit.’

Snuggle Bunny ran off to investigate. I squinted and kind of saw what might have been a ring of keys in the car key box hanging off the wall. I have 20/20 vision.

‘Did an eagle get your mom drunk and take advantage of her or something?’

Killroy sneered back. ‘Eat your carrots, Archer. They’re good for ya.’

‘Hey,’ Taggart! He limped up on his crutch. ‘Why do all of you look confused?

‘Psycho!’ Snuggle Bunny ran back to us. ‘Ash slashed the tires and stole all the Southdown car keys with her keys.’ Evil-Lyn (Snuggle Bunny rested dormant) displayed the ring of copied keys. ‘And she rigged it so Lauren here cut the power to the school by shutting the Utility Room’s door. I don’t know how she cut the phone lines, but she did.’

Taggart drew his phone like a gunslinger drew his gun that wasn’t there. I don’t know how few we are, those that have seen a Praxis Man astonished, but I’m a card carrying member of the club.

‘She lifted my phone.’

‘She left you a letter!’ Sweet Lauren, always so helpful.

Taggart, beaten and broken and deadly, looked right at me.

‘She said you were packing your car! Right over there!’ No Hollywood legend of lore could have timed it as perfect. As I pointed my blame redirecting finger at the corner, Taggart’s Mustang tooled off, a laughing red head at the helm.

Taggart ripped into Ash’s letter. He mumbled aloud:

I want you to catch me. I wont argue it: I’m crazy. I’d rather be caught by you and forced into your custody than court ordered. Like a real mustang. I want you to win, but I’m not going to make it easy for you, Joel. I’m going dark. I’ll be patient. You should rest a bit first before, you know, tracking me down. I wont cavort. I love you, but I think this is my last run, so I plan to make it a doozey.

P.S. To the girls, I demand our friendship doesn’t end at graduation, no matter where we end up. I love you too much for that. The Pattington Bear by the Mustang’s tire tracks is for Lauren.

Taggart looked up from the note to watch his Mustang run off with his mustang.

‘She will never sit down again.’

‘Hey,’ Killroy patted Taggart on the back. ‘At least I seen she was wearing her seatbelt. That’s something, right?’



Free two weeks to the day, I regained consciousness on the bathroom floor of the finest penthouse suite in Dallas to discover vomit in my hair. I opened my eyes and saw an empty bottle of my old friend, Jack. Someone had stabbed my half smoked cigarette into my vomit. I crawled to the shower, the full three feet, turned on the cold water, and cried.

Evelyn came back two hours later. From her fine attire she had been out early pressing the Establishment for a job at Southdown. She looked wonderful in a gray dress suit. She didn’t look like a child at all. She looked like a woman. Evelyn, tired, her suit hung neatly, sat at the living room table and checked papers in her briefcase. She had a briefcase already. I hadn’t even bought her a Indiana Jones hat yet. God, she’d look so hot…

I was dressed in black sweat pants and a white T-shirt because they were the only clean clothes I possessed. There was a cartoon kangaroo on the T-shirt I didn’t recognize, but I remembered buying it sometime that week, or perhaps the week before that. I don’t remember stealing it.

I sat down with my face and hair down, my hands in my lap. She ignored me.

‘I think, maybe,’ I began. ‘We should go back to the way it was before.’

‘Hmmm?’ She kept her eyes on her work.

‘I think, maybe, I’m not a very strong person.’


‘I think… well,’ My eyes and my hair were down. My hands were in my lap. However, they were not empty.

I put Evil-Lyn’s hairbrush on the table.

‘I… well, I’m pathetic. After four years inside, and saving the Free World, and two weeks later just look at me. I’m, well, with all this talk of freedom, and fighting for freedom, I don’t think I’m fit for freedom. I’m pathetic, and if you don’t want me around, I understand. But I think you should give me a chance.’ I wrung my hands. ‘I feel like a rat. I think, with your… help… I wouldn’t be so pathetic. I could be, you know, the way I was. When you met me. I can’t change the past, how I have been, but if I could argue how I will be, then…‘

She didn’t let me, the pushy bitch. She just picked me up and hugged me. I decided to shut up and let her talk.

‘Do you have any idea how painful the last week was for me?’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘Hey!’ She pushed me off her far enough to point a finger in my face. ‘Don’t you ever say you’re sorry to me, understand?’

No, I didn’t, but I didn’t feel I was in a position to argue. ‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Good. Never tell me you’re sorry,’ Evil-Lyn grabbed the brush. ‘Until I’ve made you sorry.’

Sweat paints around my knees, me over Snuggle Bunny’s lap, me right at home, I couldn’t help but appreciate how awesome the penthouse carpet was.


‘Hey! Ouch! JEEZE! Warm up spanks! Warm up spanks! ACH! ACH! ACH! Jesusfuckingchri--YEOW!!!’

‘Warm CRACK up CRACK spanks CRACK are CRACK for CRACK good CRACK girls CRACK brat!’

Forty or so seat smackers later, I gasped into the carpet. Mmmmmm… I could get used to this. The carpet was much softer than Southdown’s. More tear absorbent, too.

‘Now, that was for calling yourself pathetic.’

‘Pardon?’ I’d been in Texas way too freaking long. ‘But… butbutbut…’

‘Danny, you learn, but after you learn a little you think you know it all.’ This is what she told me. ‘Yes, freedom is responsibility, but none of us are gods. The best you could do is give me my brush and ask me to use it when I see fit, and you did it. That’s not pathetic, wench. That’s knowing yourself. I’m so freaking proud of you.’

She rubbed my neck, but she didn’t fool me. I panicked and tried to beat it to safety. This was Dallas. There had to be a loaded gun somewhere in the penthouse. Probably next to the nightstand Bible.

Knowing her enemy as her enemy knew herself, Snuggle Bunny lynched my arm into my back, and raised the hairbrush I should have hidden in the penthouse fireplace.

‘Let’s see… fifty for equating my girlfriend to a rat, fifty for doubting your girlfriend’s love, and fifty for getting you a job.’


‘OUCH! Wait wait wait. Job?’

‘Yeah, dummy. What do you think I’ve been doing while you partied? Southdown is dangerously understaffed due to half of the teachers being foreign agents who are now dead or getting waterboarded; in any case not teaching. Since they named me the next Matron a week ago, I’ve been working with the state to fill positions. Guess whose teaching classes in literature and accounting next semester?’




‘That’s 3 smacks out of 150.’ Evil-Lyn mused. ‘What does that leave your bottom, Teach?’


‘No, the answer is not 197 licks, but then again, you’re the accounting professor, so I guess I’ll just have to take your word on it. So, 196 then.’


Sigh. That was damn fine carpet, though.

Couch Van Brown stayed coaching. She realized, after saving us by brutally slaying Gregor in the cafeteria (the Pope gave her a medal, which is pretty multicultural of his Holy Father if you consider she’s Southern Baptist), that we girls needed her protection and guidance more than some ice miners needed a psalm spouting third-rate cook. She’s added kickboxing and fencing to the regime. Every generation should be better than the last. The next generation of degenerates will be able to run the mile in six minutes, then kick the crap out of somebody.

The rest of the girls made out alright, but they can write their own damn book. Still, my story isn’t quite over yet.

Ash is doing fine. Taggart, in crutches, caught her in three weeks. She worked as a roadie for a touring German classic rock band with diplomatic papers that allowed travel without inspection. Taggart caught up to them in the Chicago Principality. Ash wrote me that she was so delighted at being hunted down that she didn’t even mind Taggart breaking the drummer’s left index finger. “Shouldn’t poke Joel in the chest like that,” she wrote.

She also wrote some science fiction. She claims, to this day, that Joel forced her to craft a wooden paddle that would scare even her, then spanked her with it every three days for two months, stopping only after she finely asked him to stop. Ash wilting to pain? Ludicrous, but I wasn’t about to call a psychopath a liar.

The day after she wrote this letter she escaped again. So Joel caught her again, spanked her again, then bought her the old timer’s used car garage. The old timer stayed on, immortal, and taught Ash all about cars. Ash was content for three whole months, then Joel read that body language. She was getting that cagey look about her, so he latched her to an 9 pounds 8 ounce anchor.

Now Taggart can’t even get her out of the baby’s room. Joel wrote me that Ash spent all her free time clutched to the rim of the crib, inspecting like a hawk, so Snuggle Bunny and I visited on Spring Break. It was a nice break from sending girls to get spanked by my Life Partner. I’m just not into spanking others. I tried spanking Evelyn for kinky fun, but we couldn’t stop laughing (after the failure, she dressed me up as a French maid and walloped me with a strap, just for clarification she told me). However, the girls fear my intimate relation, so I keep a pretty tight ship. Also, of course, I know every trick in the book.

Quis Custodiet ipsos Custodes? Answer?


Guess what we did first at Casa del Taggart?

Behold in all his glory! Daniel William Taggart. Taggart lied that Daniel was named after Ash’s father. Bah! Blonde hair like his daddy, eyes psychotic-sky blue like his mommy.

Danny William Taggart, before he could stand, learned how to pull himself out of a crib by kneeling on bunched up stuffed animals. I looked down on him as a giant. Half out of the crib, brain not even fully developed, he stared me square in the eyes, daring me. He smiled like he knew where I hid my cookies.

‘How much did it cost?’ I asked, squinting at the rug rat.

‘What?’ Joel asked.

‘To get the plastic surgeon to remove the “666”?’

Little brat wasn’t a year old and already got me spanked, right there in the living room. Ash and Taggart, laughing, assured Snuggle Bunny it was just a funny joke, but they didn’t assure very hard. My blonde taskmaster gave me a good one, but only half as bad as she could and had or would. My punishment done, I thanked Evelyn for my spanking, wiped my eyes, returned my clothes to their proper position, and sipped my second glass of wine slow, as I was allowed only three. Normally two a night, but this was a special occasion, so I could drink three.

Later I took everybody’s glasses to refill while Evelyn took Daniel in her arms and cooed at him. ‘He’s perfect.’ She looked at the baby. Then me. Then the baby. Then me. She smiled.

She looked at the baby again while I poured my third glass and then downed it all in one go.

The End

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Reform, Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

We Will Defend Our Cafeteria Home

‘It’s here.’ I showed Taggart the secret entrance to the Den. It didn’t occur to me to get Taggart to pinky swear to never reveal the secret door, but he hasn’t yet, so don’t curse me, Reform girl. Anyway, if it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be able to use it at all to sneak a smoke because it wouldn’t exist.

I did everything I could to not look at the Vault door, but I could still feel that Relief Cold Cream smoke in my lungs and vowed never to smoke another cigarette for as long as I lived assuming I did live. If I died, screw it.

Taggart took off his belt, looped it around his chest, and pulled it tight. He hissed, then he breathed for the first time in minutes.

‘OK.’ Taggart snapped his nose back into place, but I didn’t throw-up because there was nothing left in my stomach. I tried, but nothing comes from nothing. ‘They’re in the cafeteria. I saw the lights. We need to move fast, but quite.’

We little girls up to our necks in an international conspiracy of murder nodded.

I think that soccer chest kicking champ goon broke a rib or three in the only trained warrior on our side. Taggart breathed hard and he couldn’t stay still. He sweat. He twitched. He checked his right hand. The first two fingers were broken for certain. He checked the pistol he lifted off one of the corpses outside. He did it with only six fingers, and it looked like it hurt, but he was satisfied with the number of bullets, and I think a little comforted to have a gun in his hand, even if it was only the left one (unlike Snuggle Bunny, he wasn’t a South Paw). Shaking and hiding the pain it took to breath, he looked to Ash.

‘Thank you.’ He hushed, a firm, straightforward thanks. ‘You acted on your own and saved my life. That was battle, and battle is fluid. Up there is a bomb, people happy to kill themselves, and hundreds of scared girls. This is precise. We need to be precise, or we lose. I need…’

‘I’ll do as I’m told, sir.’ Ash meant it. The “sir”, too. ‘I mean, really this time.’

‘Good. OK.’ His face was desperate and he only half hid his pain. He looked around in long neck arcs as if an answer were written on the walls of the Den of Iniquity, and maybe it was because he found it. He ducked his head and thought through three deep breaths. He sprung up. ‘We have the element of surprise. You two,’ meaning Snuggle Bunny and myself. ‘Get to the engine room at the far end of the school. The utility room, you know it? Good. That’ll give us time to get into position. Get there and pull the red switch down. That will turn off the power. That will be our signal. After you pull it, run. Get as far from here as possible—it’ll be too late for you to help more.’

‘It’s locked. I don’t have my keys.’ Evelyn bit her lip. ‘It’ll take time to get to my—‘ I offered my ring of copied keys Ash made and left me.

I told the truth. ‘I don’t know which key is the key to the utility.’

‘You and I,’ SB snatched the keys from my little paw. ‘Are going to discuss these keys.’ I told the truth!

‘Ashley, head to the south entrance to the cafeteria; I’ll be at the north. Gregor will have the detonator. She’ll be next to the kitchen entrance to power the bomb. The only electrical outlet is there. Locate her, then stay tight until the lights go out. A second later the emergency lights will come on, but don’t wait for them. Rush her the second the lights go out, and kill her. Pick up anything hard, and cause maximum damage to her head or neck. Hit again and again until her brain is jelly. I can barely walk. From the north entrance I can give you cover. Ignore anyone who gets in your way. I’ll take them down, I promise. There will be others, but they don’t exist to you. Only Gregor will have the detonator, so only see Gregor. Do we understand?’

Ash looked at him askance. ‘The lights will be out. How will you cover me?’

‘I’m going to memorize their positions before the lights go out.’

Evelyn had followed like an apt student, but couldn’t figure it.

‘She’ll just set off the bomb when the lights go out.’

‘No,’ Still in that hushed tone, Taggart looked away from us as if to see if the coast was clear, but I figured it was to avoid eye contact because we were fucked. ‘Those four wheelers outside carried explosion augments that would substantially increase the weak bomb she hid here. And they had a battery pack incased in lead.’ Oh Superman, no wonder you aren’t here to save us. ‘Gregor’s bomb is energy powered, not chemical. It has to be, or our dogs would have sniffed them out on monthly inspections. And her bomb isn’t powered all the way. It takes hours, and our satellites will have picked it up after thirty minutes of charging. It’ll have enough energy by now to kill most of the people in the cafeteria, but not much else. And she’ll have to plug the detonator in and crank it, which is…’ he covered his mouth and coughed something wet into a handkerchief. He looked at his product then tossed the cloth aside. ‘It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t know we stopped her reinforcements. They’ve made her whole life about this. She’ll want a big bang. She’ll wait.’ Another cough. ‘I’m sorry, but I need your help. Ash and I should have at least five seconds, but we have to hurry because she must be charging the bomb right now. She thinks we’re dead. We have the advantage.’

‘Let’s go.’ Ash climbed into Southdown with the enthusiasm she used to use to climb out.

‘But if…’

Taggart looked Evelyn in the eyes. ‘Then everyone in that cafeteria dies.’

Son of a bitch never heard of a white lie?


‘We’re fucked.’

Snuggle Bunny gave me a look. We hadn’t seen a soul on our fast trek to the far end of Southdown, first floor. Ash and Taggart took the stairs to the second floor. My feet hurt, and I knew SB’s feet hurt too, because of our damn hobbling school shoes, but we made good time.

I’d never known the second floor corridors to be so quite. Even 3:00 AM Sundays, when I sneaked a job or escaped Snuggle Bunny’s grasp, there was something going on. Some life. Now it felt like the DMV on Christmas.

Snuggle Bunny checked the hall, found it clear, and moved us towards the utility room. She shuffled through the copied keys. ‘This is crazy.’

‘I just said that.’

‘No, you said,‘ Evelyn found the key and inserted it. ‘And I quote, “We’re—“’ Alexia kicked Evelyn in the hand, snapping half the key in the lock, and punched Evelyn’s whirling face.


Evelyn, indifferent to pain, charged the treacherous goonlet, but she kung fu’ed aside like a child. Evelyn hit the corner on her elbow and head. She didn’t move.

‘Alexia, they’re going to blow the school!’

‘No,’ she said, letting her accent slip. ‘We’re going to blow the school, and all the rotten roots in it.’ She didn’t talk like she was from Oregon anymore. Her accent was totally alien. She moved towards me. ‘We’re both dead; born dead, yet you feel pain, and we shall enjoy hurting you. Hurting your scheming little mind. Other than that New England senator’s daughter, we couldn’t hope,’ she snatched my arm so fast I couldn’t see, and twisted me to my knees. ‘for a better prize.’ I screamed. ‘We’ve always hated you, Queen Rat. Scamming with every undeserved calorie. Always thinking you’re so smart. Youyouyouyouyou. MeMeMeMeMeMeMeMe.’

She waved away my punches. She kicked me in the stomach, and forced me down to the ground, my arm behind my back. She bruised my face with her shoe.

‘There is only we. Kiss it, Archer. Show us what a whore can do with your mouth.’ I refused, so she in turn knuckle punched me in both kidneys then kicked off her shoe, stepped on her sock with the other foot to peel it off, and shoved her sweaty foot in my face. Then she quoted herself in mock sympathy. Oregon accent creepily back, and my blood ran cold. ‘”Hey, Evelyn, Gregor is going nuts on St. Croix in… Lauren’s room. She’s screaming, and I don’t think she’s in control of herself.”’ She spat on me. Literally. Hit the back of my neck. ‘You people are weak. You think Gregor doesn’t keep a camera in her office? Gregor knew everything all along, Archer, but she played until she had you and that plod Taggart in checkmate. And that “Evil-Lyn” of yours. Evil… there is no evil, there is no Good. And, oh poor baby, we’re afraid there isn’t even a Lyn anymore. Like the FA, she’s just a husk rotting against a wall. There is only will and power. Will,’ she bent my arm until I had to muffle my mouth against the tile floor, my lips making bubbles. Something snapped in my arm. It was a muscle, not a bone, I hoped. I screamed into the floor, kissing the floor with an open mouth. ‘And power. Power over other people. That is reality. The strong,’ She punched me in the lower back, my nose slammed against the floor, and I sobbed I think. My nose filled up with something salty and stingy. ‘The strong and the victims.’

She shoved her foot into my face again and again, once getting her pinky toe into a nostril.

‘Now kiss it and show me what a slut you are.’

I couldn’t breath, my arm twisted to breaking, the lock to the Utility Room was jammed with a broken key, Taggart and Ash waited for the signal that would never come, a cafeteria full of girls could blow at any second, Snuggle Bunny was limp and maybe dead on the ground, and all I had was a foot to kiss. So I bit off the bitch’s pinky toe.

Alexia didn’t make a noise herself. Instead she bent my arm and I made a forced and muffled grunt. I fought the pain until Alexia jabbed me in the ass with a Agony Tazer (those are illegal!). It wasn’t even a fight. I spit out my last meal and let out an inhuman, alien to my ears scream without break. I couldn’t even gasp once. Of course I don’t know how long I was thus electro spanked, but I lost it a bit from lack of oxygen. I thrashed and jerked, totally out of control. Alexia, grabbing me, holding me down, completed the circuit. She felt the Tazer’s current too—but she liked the pain. While I twisted and screamed in anguish, she bore down on me, feeding off her raging neurons. I didn’t care about anything but me, and I was in Hell on Earth. She let off my butt cheek, and I could breath, then she jabbed my other cheek, and I screamed. I remember thinking that I wished I could beg her to stop. But I couldn’t. The pain was… something else. Something that I still think about. Sometimes. I don’t understand how or why a person could treat another person like that. So I screamed.

The light fading, I could barely make out Snuggle Bunny hurling her venerable hairbrush, smacking Alexia in the temple.

The world inundated me. The Tazer left no lasting effects except one giant flaming scorch mark on my rear, but my body returned to normal status except a useless arm and that every cell in my ass screamed. I flipped over to see Snuggle Bunny put a knee in Alexia’s face. I scampered backwards on my sore butt. My sitter hurt so bad that there was no difference standing or sitting, but I didn’t care because before me Evil-Lyn squared off with her treacherous goonlet lieutenant who wavered despite looking like a starved tiger.

‘Get to Taggart, tell him the lights aren’t going off. I-‘ Alexia kicked but Evil-Lyn moved into it and caught her at the thigh. ‘Run, dummy!’ She slugged but Alexia caught it and twisted the extended arm. Evil-Lyn twisted and both fell to the ground jabbing at each other. I took off my shoes and socks, and beat it.

My arm and nose hurt, my ass felt like hornets had it for a feast, and my lungs burned from the smoke of burning cans of Relief, and I had to hold my right arm against my stomach to keep it from flapping around dead. The cafeteria was dead above me, but the stairs were on the far end of the school. I had to run the length of the school, a flight of stair, then the same length back, and every second that bomb grew stronger to kill more and more girls.

Passed Gregor’s office. Passed Alexia’s room. Passed Snuggle Bunny’s room (was she dead?), hit the stairs. A blister broke on the first step.

I coughed something warm and wet out and hit a wall but I bounced off it no matter how comfortable it was. One of Alexia’s kicks hit something that didn’t forget pain as fast as I forgot all the kings and queens of England last semester the day after the final exam. I couldn’t twist my chest right or left. It wasn’t pain, I simply couldn’t turn, but I could face forward and run. I faced the way and ran back the other way, towards the cafeteria, and felt pain and wonderful certainty that we’d win. A line I used to think was empty rhetoric escaped from a dark pit in my brain, and I was just driven nuts enough to love it. I muttered it as I staggered.

“Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time, we did everything that could be done. We finished the race, we kept them free: we kept the faith.”

Keep the faith. Goddamn right. Marathon, baby. Fucking Marathon.

It was disappointing to pass the relay stick. I turned the corner, fell to my knees, and between bloody nose spewing gasps, said, ‘Ambushed. Lights aren’t going out.’ Taggart got to his feet and fired away like it was the plan from the start.

I crawled to the sill, under his legs, with my palms over my ears. Ash ran from her spot in perfect form. Men and treacherous goonlets fell all around her. She ignored them like the Queen of England I forgot about would have ignore guys handing out fliers to a XXX strip club on Bourbon Street. None of them got a foot from her before Taggart put a bullet center mass.

God help me, it was beautiful,

A man in black robes, a curved dagger held high about his head, moved in on Taggart. I think it was my Math teacher. Killroy, a loyal goonlet, launched all her Brooklyn fury from her cafeteria chair and tackled his legs. On the ground the bitch that loved slapping her ruler against my second favorite ass until I promised to obey the rules shoved her ruler into the creepy priest’s throat. ‘Fuck with me? Fuck with me?! No, you fuck this! Ya hear?!’

That’s Brooklyn law enforcement.

Gregor was adorn in full battle armor. Gasping on the ground, it occurred to me that Taggart couldn’t just shoot her. She even wore a black helmet like an evil football player. She had to be killed up close, like any other dragon. Her shock wore off three seconds into Ash’s Run. She stepped idly to the bomb, a black box covered in wires sitting just outside the kitchen door.

The bomb was our microwave. The device that would blow my body apart into mere dental records had heated all the tacos that made up my body. The only good place to get tacos is Texas. It’s the best reason to go there. I liked my tacos extra heated, you see, so I always zapped them for some extra umph after nabbing them from the cafeteria, then I ate them, and my digestive system turned those extra heated tacos into the body that microwave was going to zap to bits. You young people might not know this yet, but in times of crisis, the mind looks for irony.

Gregor laughed and watched the spectacle. She put her detonator on the bomb. She didn’t even plug it in. She pointed a black rectangle at Ash. I didn’t know what it was, but it was a weapon for sure.

Taggart stepped two paces to the side, adjusted to a line of fire around my sitting classmates, and fired. Gregor wavered a little, but I don’t think she felt more than a slight shove from the bullet before pulling the trigger of her weapon. Ash, in mid stride, grabbed a cafeteria tray from the rack and blocked a wired dart from hitting her chest. The dart smacked the tray and exploded in volts, but Ash kept running.

Tray still splattering electricity, a second dart flew into Ash’s leg. It wasn’t fair. Ash couldn’t block both; nobody could with one tray. War, it would seem, wasn’t fair. She went down and convulsed as the amps played havoc with her nervous system. She twitched helpless on the floor, her beautiful red hair flaring out like Einstein. She didn’t make a noise, but then she never made a noise when Gregor attacked her nervous system.

Taggart, gushing blood from his face, tossed his empty weapon aside and slouched towards Gregor, a hundred feet away from him, and her two feet from the bomb. Beaten and helpless, he slouched towards hopeless doom with a single mind, making the last, perfect image of what a real man is for me. Except for my father, who is more than a man to me, though a gentle one that abhors violence. He didn’t even spank me. I thought about my father, and how he was right that Reform School would save me from myself, and what he’d think when he found out I was exploded in Texas. I thought about how he’d hurt himself for years. And the bitch of it was that he was right, I only then realized—Southdown saved my living soul, even if it killed me. But he wouldn’t know that. All he’d know was that I was sent here with his blessing and encouraging words to my unnatural death, and he’d suffer for it. Dad is sensitive. He’d suffer bad.

The girls sat in the chairs, too afraid to move, not knowing what was happening. I screamed at them to attack and kill everything, but it just came out as a gasp. Taggart slouched, I lay, Ash gyrated and there was nothing left to us but the glory of taking the enemy to the limit.

Or so it seemed.

Senator Gail swiped at Gregor with a chair, howling like a Viking. Gregor broke Gail’s leg and tossed her aside. The attack wasn’t without import—that limp would help on TV debates for sure. Some puss lawyer candidate walking up to the podium while Gail took longer due to the proud limp? Hell, you’ve got the Vet and Silver Fox vote right there. Also, the limp would show off her awesome, perfect, enviable ass… damn it. I want a perfect ass too.

Of course, I had to note to myself, I’d be able to beat her mile time now. Man, I am a self-centered bitch that deserves my spankings. Damn it.

Four men in black robes, stepping over Killroy and her choking playmate, attacked Taggart. He killed one of them as soon as he was in finger tip distance, the others he had to fight, which meant he was checked and we were all going to die.

‘So!’ Gregor screamed it. Then she laughed in a sniveling way.‘Now we reap what they sow!’ I stood, I don’t know where from the strength came, thinking to run at her, but she already had her trigger in the bomb. I ran anyway, around Taggart’s brawl, taking up Taggart’s course, because there wasn’t anything else to do. There was a chance Snuggle Bunny would live, and that was as good as I was going to get. If I had to die, then fuck Gregor, I’d die running like I was taught, like my father taught me, my fingernails for the eyes of the enemy, doing everything that could be done.

‘Archer! Come, meek!’

‘I’m going to—‘ I stood dead on a dime.

Hearing the gunshots through the music, Couch Van Brown exited the kitchen in her gray T-shirt, track shorts, and apron, and paddled Gregor’s head from behind with several pounds of bottom tested oak paddle. Eighties pop music spewing from the dangling ear phones of her pocketed IPod as she slammed her wooden paddle into Gregor’s floored brain again and again. It would seem the helmet was built to stop bullets, not Couch Van Brown’s paddle.

Taggart lifted himself from the now limp and useless goons, staggered to his feet, and watched the Coach deliver a final CRACK to the DDU agent’s brainpan. He looked like a confused fool, and I should know, because it takes one to know one.

Hundreds looked at the coach. Except for Ash, still paralyzed, all us girls and Taggart looked at the blood and gray matter drenched Coach Van Brown standing above the battered husk of a psychopath.

‘Meek,’ Coach Van Brown said, pointing a bloodied paddle at the mass of girls. ‘Does not mean weak.’

Then the lights went out.