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Numerous Tools by Grover Gaines

Leonid “Mo’ Pills” Mogilney awaited the arrival of his favorite customers, sitting uprightly. He would rather have reclined, but his guilty conscience precluded even the appearance of comfort. Adding to his unease were the three agents sent by Mayor Heyward: Peterson, Patterson and Wilkerson; seated on the couch, wearing sunglasses.

The frequency of their intrusions had increased over the last two weeks; get-togethers which, except for this one, were preliminary.

And perhaps that’s what spooked Leo so much, the finality of today’s visit. Welcoming the agents into his home for negotiations’ sake had seemed only surreal, but having them here, now, felt dreadful.

Their ambush would succeed; and, for that, Leo considered himself the world’s worst criminal. He’d even failed to do the one thing any righteous drug dealer would have done under such duress: hate the agents.

Aside from visiting his apartment in an official capacity and bringing great shame, these three men had outstanding characteristics which, when combined, reminded Leo of Mikhail Gorbachev.

Agent Peterson had a commanding bald spot.

Agent Patterson’s shirt pockets were always stained with a faint inkblot.

Agent Wilkerson had an enormous birthmark.

They were like the spawn of some post-Soviet poltergeist, come to haunt him on behalf of Mother Russia. His chosen profession was no shining example to the masses in his homeland; and this, apparently, the eerie price to be paid for disgracing the memories of honest ancestors in heaven.

Unpleasant as the connection felt, Leo could not help but regard the agents as kindred spirits. He’d grown to accept them as brethren, in spite of himself.

Leo’s weakness for this type of peripheral metaphysical bullshit had increased because too few chemicals were reaching the designated receptors in his brain. The secret agreement he’d reached, with the city, included a safe tapering of his drug use. He’d earned freedom from a prison term by meeting three demands; a short but torturous list that included quitting under a doctor’s supervision. Fewer pills existed, and soon there wouldn’t be any for him to ingest, ever again.

Cranky days loomed ahead; just the sort of struggle he couldn’t stomach.

Yet Leo’s earliest set of side effects did not lay him low, nor cramp his muscles, nor wring from his skin a deluge of sweat. No, what the Russian had to contend with, at the outset, was his own personal version of the backstabber’s burden: a jury of his drug-dealing peers, haunting his bedtime visions with disapproval.

Each one popped into Leo’s brain, and snapped a phrase of repudiation, such as: “Mo’ Pills, you blow.”

“Eat shit, Pills.”

“We done.”

“You will bleed if I see you, Leo.”

“Bitch ass.”

“Believed in you, Mo’.”

“Pills, you killin’ us.”

“Leo, buy a headstone. Seriously.”

A disturbingly unsupportive bunch, especially given that none was in any danger of being raided, and their incomes would be augmented by the collective jones of Leo’s unsupplied customers. Placed in the same predicament, most of them would also have opted for skipping the prison experience and, in exchange, been happy to lay a trap so that Deputy Mayor Olmstead’s pot-smoking daughter could be rehabilitated before she caused that fine gentleman any trouble.

From Leo’s perspective, this was a life decision that fit into the massive gray area the world had gotten fond of filling. Among the numerous tools that can be used to move challenging issues outside of its boundaries, only two had been perceived by the dealer as applicable in this instance: Cowardice and Clarity. Once he succeeded in identifying them, and performed an exhaustive comparison, Leo concluded that the latter made the former unavoidable. Only a code of ethics would have caused the two to clash. Being free of all such strictures, he turned on the pretty stoners, only to find himself plagued by latent loyalty. Agent Peterson pressed two fingers against his ear and listened intently.

Patterson and Wilkerson stiffened. “CJ and her friends are stopping at the cafe downstairs,” Peterson reported. “Appear to be picking up smokes.” Leo rolled his eyes back, and he lidded the whites in a blink. Instantly, a memory of CJ materialized: from the shoulders up, smoking a joint, then pronouncing the word hashish when she sneezed, like always, and laughing. “Our snitch appears to be contemplating puking.” Leo’s eyes remained closed, but his memory vanished, replaced by the dull glow of sunshine filtered through flesh; a color that could have coaxed him to nap if his traitorous heart weren’t racing. “Is not for you to say,” he replied. “If it happens for me that I am puking, will you do this?” “Do what?” “Ask and care. Or maybe you say notice.” “Not particularly.”

“Mo’ Pills knows this.”

“Then maybe Mo’ Pills should draw conclusions silently instead of asking questions,” Patterson said.

“You started.”

“Don’t get gruff with us, Mogilney. We wouldn’t want to be telling the deputy mayor you’d gotten an itch to sabotage this thing at the last minute. Even if we get the girls, locking you up in the local gulag is still an option if you screw up.”

Leo slid to the edge of his unreclined recliner, dropped to the floor with both knees, and locked his fingers behind his head.

“Stop with the goddamn theatrics,” Wilkerson complained.

Getting to his feet slowly, in a manner that bespoke a kind of oneness or higher consciousness, Leo now expanded his movements to include what that looked not entirely unlike tai chi. “Unless you're going to have an aneurysm trying to grasp it, that’s still theatrics.” Leo implied, by continuing, that he did feel the knowledge might rupture a blood vessel.

“When those girls rap at your door, you’d better snap out of it.”

The Sons of Mayor Heyward—as they’d been dubbed—wrested themselves from the spectacle in the living room. Tempted though they were to scrutinize Mogilney’s every move, the trio had agreed that to vacate the space would be wisest. Risking visibility from the front door as the girls entered would be tantamount to yelling out “make us chase you,” at which point the limber young things might take the stairs, evade the lazy lookout stationed in the lobby, escape, become runaways, get mixed up in god knows what, do more drugs than Mogilney could have given them, and be back in Mellow Wells for their own funerals too soon by any measure. Play it safe for the deputy mayor’s sake; it made sense at City Hall weeks ago, so The Sons weren’t going to let the plan get out of hand just to babysit Mogilney.

The dealer’s computer room provided perfect cover as they lay in wait for their ambush, not the least of which because the walls were teeming with screencaps from some explicit websites. Upon entering, the agents’ faces transformed into parodies of unbridled adolescent glee.

Meanwhile, Leo, having grown tired of tai chi’ing, busied himself by envisioning yet another image. This one appeared to contain an instructional scene. It showed him darting around the apartment, making preparations for a fire. He memorized the procedure with ease, then grabbed a bundle of newspaper from the recycling bin and slinked to within arm’s distance of the couch cushions. “Mogilney,” Wilkerson called out, scanning the pornographic cornucopia in awe, “your ability to remain drug free will probably be compromised if you indulge your other addictions. We’re going to confiscate these pictures.”

Leo took a rest from twisting up Sunday’s sports section and said, “Deputy mayor, as you say, has my balls in a vice now, no?”

“That’s right.”

“So what good will sexy pictures do Mo’ Pills? They’re yours.” Only a fraction of a second had elapsed and the agents were already stretching to collect Leo’s X-rated wallpaper. Lured by the hundreds of thumbnail-sized vaginae, they fell prey to a form of tunnel vision most grown men will resist, especially when it threatens to hamper their professional commitments. Whether sexless marriages or simple lasciviousness unified them in this behavior cannot be said, but they withdrew from reality nevertheless, and busied themselves by alternately gawking, removing tape from corners, and sorting.

Afraid that the persistent crumpling of newspaper would begin to have the clarity of an announcement, and preferring to surprise the agents with his fire, Leo put away what remained of the publication, satisfied that a matchbook was all he needed now to ensure CJ’s freedom. The crevice between cushions bulged with printed kindling; one big tuft jutting from the front and soaked sufficiently with lighter fluid. Torching those pages and endangering potentially every tenant in the building seemed, even to Leo, out of whack with the state of affairs in which he and the agents were engaged; but while it would have been nice to eliminate loss of life from the equation, Leo had no choice. A better method for rebelling against the agreement didn’t exist. He didn’t have the guts to confront Peterson, Patterson and Wilkerson with a refusal now, mainly because they’d squelch his objections and cajole him successfully in the end. Text messaging the girls to ward them off made some sense, what with the agents slacking off and getting stiffies over dried ink at the moment, but Leo didn’t feel as though they should be made to fall short of their goal so uneventfully. They’d been kind upon securing his compliance with the deputy mayor’s wishes, and weren’t deserving of disrespect from anyone, neither equals nor superiors. If their mission were destined for failure, Leo could at least diminish the appearance of haplessness on their parts by creating a blaze of glory, by facing a charge of arson. A prison sentence, he was thinking, can be endured with a pure heart; disloyalty, on any level, cannot. “Hey, Mogilney. Is this the same Brazilian babe? Shaved ...and unshaved?” The audible ding of an elevator arriving on the fifteenth floor coincided with the end of Wilkerson’s question.

“You are paying very attention. Yes, and my favorite.”

“Did you keep a log of the websites you got these from?” Patterson probed, sounding eager. Then, clearing his throat, he added calmly, “We shouldn’t leave you with the means to rebuild this. It might jeopardize your sobriety.”

“Will you be taking computer, too?”

Leo heard the mutterings of men under pressure to present themselves well.

“O-o-only if you think you can’t be trusted.”

Tapping on the matchbook in his left palm, Leo leaned towards the peephole to see Trina, Lee, CJ and Kate (a quartet known to local music scenesters as Sweet Tubby Sluts) ankle towards the door. “Mo’ Pills can’t answer this,” he whispered.

Leo’s pastiest complexion, ever, should have caused the Sluts at least one moment’s hesitation, if only to say, “Did you forget to do drugs today or something?” The answer to that, or any question whatsoever, would have tumbled from his lips more awkwardly than the price hikes he hit them with every so often. Focused as they were on scoring pot, though, the girls passed him by, barely bothering with a glance, and hit the liquor cabinet as usual. “How many ounces are in da house?” asked Kate.

En route to the living room, Leo ignored her, walking softly like a true rheumatic.

“Pills, come on. You’re a savant.”

“You subtract the weight of the seeds from the buds in your brain, and then you compensate.”

“No scale can measure your generosity.” Instructed by the agents to say little if anything, Leo decided to keep quiet. Opening his mouth at all was going to be tough due to the fact that Peterson, Patterson and Wilkerson had drummed one phrase into his head: Always pleased to sell you weed. Once that stilted and uncharacteristic rhyme rang out, the agents will have gotten their cue to swarm and apprehend the girls. Leo wasn’t to utter the phrase until everyone had been seated a safe distance from the front door. The coward in him wanted to scream it out right now, but he was spurred on by clarity. “Okay, Mo’,” CJ joked, “listen, you’ve got to do better at remembering. The green pill is for when you feel like being antisocial. You shouldn’t wanna be taking that one before we come over.”

“Yeah. Or what’s the matter, blotter acid got your tongue?”

Leo stood beside the sofa, nodding, appreciating the rhythm of their friendly repartee. He had, in fact, manipulated his facial muscles in order to achieve a welcoming expression, yet the effort left him looking pained, and not a little bit sinister.

Trina, Lee, CJ and Kate spilled from the kitchen with their drinks and beheld the dealer, transfixed by his unusual brooding. Through the act of staring, each could see that the lank strands of hair framing Leo’s face were swaying ever so slightly, as though reflecting a tremor. In searching for the source of this twitch, the Sluts identified his left hand, its restlessness. If they had any trouble recognizing the square shape there, well, the visible sulfur strip brought to mind an exact match; and, in looking a few feet beyond him, the girls could see he’d stuffed a fuse of newspaper between the cushions of his ugly old sofa. “Leo?” Trina said, controlling her tone. “Tell us the truth, how are you feeling?” In the computer room, The Sons of Mayor Heyward pried their eyes from those delightful thumbnail, and listened closer still, glaring at one another as men will do when, together, they hesitate to believe that the doom they’re perceiving is real. “Mo’ Pills feels …ugh,” Leo trailed off. “Nobody call me Mo’ Pills anymore.”

“All right, all right, just try to keep a cool head about this.”

“Yeah, chill out. And definitely don’t make things any hotter in here.”

“It’s for every one of us, and must be done,” Leo explained, bending back the matchbook cover.

“But we’re all pretty much disagreeing with it so hold on, let’s vote, your people do that too now.”

“There is no freedom for us! Gorbachev hides in my computer room!”

The Sons vaguely understood that their cover had been blown, and rose at the very moment that fire! and water! began echoing among the Sluts. Out the door and down the hall in no time to find the girls foraging frantically in the kitchen, Wilkerson froze to take in a full view of the living room. Leo’s sofa had just began to combust, and the Russian could be spotted moving alongside it, but not out of the way for his own safety. That hopeless druggie was, once again, mindlessly tai chi’ing.

Peterson and Patterson groaned a brief duet of disbelief.

“Help us, you dumb fucks!”

Patterson pulled the multicolored runner from the hallway floor and folded it, then ran over to beat the flames while Wilkerson collected whichever liquids the girls had gathered.

Peterson took up a position between everyone else and the only exit, insisting, with authoritative timbre, that the situation posed no danger; and, almost as though he’d willed it with words, the potential conflagration had been tamed.

Wilkerson slapped Mogilney’s face to clear his mind of tai chi, grabbed a fistful of the criminal’s hair, and led him closer to the sofa. “Did we not talk about theatrics?”

“You talk. Mo’ Pills only listens.”

“At which point?”

“Just when you say to me theatrics.”

“And then what happened?”

“I wait for better explanation, but you go looking for naked ladies.”

Wilkerson pivoted to face Peterson. “He’s getting gruff again.”

“What is all this?!” CJ shrieked. “Where’s Gorbachev?!”

“All this,” Agent Peterson said, “is official business sanctioned by Mayor Heyward.”

“And we don’t exactly have GPS tracking the former president, but your drug dealer here is being weaned off his pills and has, as one of his symptoms, hallucinations about respected political figures, I guess.”

Body language on display in the kitchen indicated that all the girls had figured out what this meant, and their nervous energy hadn’t a thing to do with Gorby’s unknown global position.

Peterson pulled an index card from his coat pocket and spoke directly to CJ: “Your father asked me to read this… [*ahem*] …Christina Juanita Olmstead, you are not under arrest. I am intervening in your life today to bestow upon you the blessings of rehabilitation. Marijuana is not the answer. I have requested the harshest penalties for your friends if they do not cooperate. Good clean fun for everyone is how it has to be now. I am to be mayor someday—”

Breaking off at this point, Peterson lowered the card from below his nose and admitted, “The rest is just a list of things he’ll do when he takes office.”

“Is 'killing himself' in there?”

“You’ll cry for saying that once you’re detoxified.”

“Oh, you think so?” CJ snapped, almost frothing. “Let me describe why and when I’ll be crying, okay? The realization that I waited so long to poison his dinner is why, and I’ll be doing it while I’m poisoning his dinner, fantasizing about watching him die.”

“Miss Olmstead, we’re not going to tell your father you said such a thing.”

“But we will suggest that your rehab be supplemented with an exorcism.”

#

The silence of an empty office on the third floor of City Hall was soon to be broken by more than the sound of habitual sniffling, but Mayor Seamus Heyward and Deputy Mayor Dennis Olmstead sat on padded folding chairs doing exactly that, back and forth; even to them, a little annoying. The distinguished political twins (widely regarded as such for being olive-skinned, brightly blue-eyed, six-foot-five and Christian-conservative) awaited The Sons’ arrival comfortably, even serenely. Although it was to be held in secret, this private intervention would go public within a week’s time: the spoils of an image war.

Heyward needed a quick fix for the governorship. His administration stood accused, by Democrats, of funneling public money into family accounts and spending it on relatives. Convincing the populace that this was nonsense could best be achieved by accounting for every penny, on paper; but, prior to doing so, they wanted to humanize themselves by parading a shameful truth before the voters, one exposed from within the mayor’s close circle. Olmstead, who’d been dying for the right time to turn his daughter’s love of reefer into a struggling-daddy-takes-action feature on the evening news, offered her up for the cause.

Emotions might be getting volatile in here, they realized; and, thus, Olmstead had chosen this magnificent old room. Its shape and emptiness symbolized the sort of rebuilding-from-square-one approach that recovering addicts must embrace. The big windows were sucking in sunshine. High ceilings reinforced life’s limitless invitation to grow. And with an expected total of nine individuals attending, the breathing room afforded within might also limit any tendencies toward claustrophobia or general panic attacks.

Before too long, the party filed in, welcomed by the politicians in a hushed, formal tone.

“But what is he doing here?”

“Mister Mayor, sir,” Agent Peterson said, gritting his teeth, “Mogilney set fire to his sofa while the plan was in motion. But on the whole it seemed like a half-hearted attempt to derail things rather than a full-on sabotage. A way to curry favor with the girls, maybe. We feel certain he poses no danger to himself or anyone else and, as you can see, he didn’t prevent the objective from being met. But we did think he deserved a penalty for the misdeed, and figured you might want to plug him into Phase Two.”

“Thank you, Peterson. Dennis should be the one to make that determination.”

“I appreciate that, Seamus.” Olmstead took a moment to measure Leo’s soul. “…Let’s pencil him in, but I do want to repeat, Mister Mogilney, I’m referencing a pencil. You do know the difference, don’t you?”

Leo tucked greasy strands of hair behind his ear, trembling visibly. “You sharpen that one.”

“Very well. But I don’t want you to misunderstand, to think I’m threatening you with it.”

“No. No.”

“So I’m penciling you in,” Olmstead reiterated, illustrating the point with a mid-air hand-scribble. “But remember, you can be erased, rubbed out.”

“Mo’ Pills is used to this,” he said, translating both parts of the warning according to street slang, feeling threatened by a violent death nonetheless.

“So much the better, then.”

“Instead of us going through this,” CJ sighed, “because it’s already so stupid, can’t we choose to be arrested instead?”

“My dear daughter, what you are experiencing is a natural reaction to the promise of recovery. A foul addict has grabbed hold of your soul, and she senses her extinction is nigh.”

Olmstead waited a beat, raised an eyebrow while confirming her silence, then continued: “Young ladies, you consider yourselves to be CJ’s friends, and though the four of you, together, have been behaving in ways that I find reprehensible; there’s no reason for me to protect my own pride by pretending she was influenced by you to an extreme degree. Her failings are her own, and mine to share as well, it pains me to say, but not yours. It is this very sense of fairness that led me to contact your parents. And they all support and join me in my effort to intercede here. You will each submit to our wishes and see your rehabilitations through to the bitter end. If you do not, future inheritances that would have been yours will go to charities when your parents pass. Now that I have made the consequences for walking out quite clear, are there going to be any objections?”

“Yeah, um, when we see it through to the end, like you said, can we smoke again?”

“That’s a question. Can I first hear any objections?”

“Mo’ Pills feels left out. For everything you said.”

“Here in the heart of Texas, Mister Mogilney, we call that a complaint.”

“Dad? All of us got, like, alotta weed at home. Can’t this wait a couple days?”

“Two narcotics cops have already swept your townhouse, thoroughly. You’re officially drug-free. …Now does everybody appreciate how serious we’re being about this? Very well.

“Please remain standing as I introduce His Honor, Mayor Seamus Heyward.”

Mayor Heyward rose to rehearse an excerpt from his upcoming speech, the delivery of which would, in a few days, dispel those rumors about ills in his administration. The pages contained a brief section on drug abuse that rocked, quite honestly. The deputy mayor had given him every assurance that this was the case, but felt that a run-through during today’s intervention might highlight a phrase or two that required tightening.

“Dennis, many thanks. That brings us to the matter at hand,” Mayor Heyward said. “There are few scourges worse than drug abuse. One world, one nation, one city—we all suffer. Those of us who don’t take substances into our veins, our blood and lungs, our brains—we suffer. Some become emboldened, crusading for change, while others limit their outrage to just a bumper sticker. But that thin adhesive, often laminated paper stock speaks volumes. Crying out from the rear ends of our vehicles, in fonts so various that we’ve lost track of what to call them anymore, means something to us as a people. A sober people. A serious people. A caring people.

“Yet we let it slide. Some of us have begun to feel that drug abuse is the least of society’s raging fires. But today I urge you to ask yourselves, if we stamp out every one of society’s bigger fires, as some would call them, and leave drug users unpunished; then what have we done? We have provided the disease a space in which to grow all over again. A people whose future is bright in every other respect, whose prospects for continued success are marred by a little blip like marijuana, will discover their sunshiny lives darkened in a relatively short time.

“It is incumbent on those of us who amass power to strive, and to reclaim the lives of those who haven’t yet been eclipsed by the blip. These young women who stand before you today, they struggle as we do, but differently. They stand here with me, facing you—all of us, caring people—and they say, Change my name to Mary Jane and ship me off to Jamaica! They value skunkweed over God’s speed, and they’re grateful for little else in life besides a big fat doobie and a bootleg of the Dead!

“I turn to them today, as one caring person—one among a crowd of people who do care, very deeply, and will continue to—and I say, you can’t see that your addictions have destroyed you, but you’re glassy-eyed, and we perceive the peril clearly. It is a special day in this fine city when lost souls, like you, are given a chance to embrace the perfect blueprint for redemption. All of you must take what is offered today, from the hands of a caring people, and use it as an antidote against marijuana, and the rest. You will surely die young if you don’t.

“And with that, I give you Deputy Mayor Olmstead.”

The Sons of Mayor Heyward applauded, earning derisive looks from the Sluts.

Marijuana might have fallen short of transforming the girls into world-beaters, but it hadn’t done anything quite so successfully as open their eyes to human frailty in the form of self-promotion. Upright, drug-free people should control their superiority complexes when helping equals who’ve been stooped by substance abuse, the girls felt strongly. They also felt a strong suspicion that delusions of grandeur, or maybe even progressive mental illness, had driven the mayor to imagine his speech was reaching a great multitude, and this struck them as a personal deficiency more debilitating than any wrought by cannabis, undoubtedly.

Olmstead remained seated, and said, “Seamus, thank you. That is inspirational. …Now, when the mayor steps away, I will address those in attendance.”

“When the mayor steps away?” Kate asked.

“Yes. He will, eventually.”

“Didn’t he just?”

“Yeah, she’s right. And those in attendance? Ain’t that us?”

“It is, right now, yes.”

“So, isn’t this the future you’re talking about?”

Lee lowered herself to the floor dizzily, as if the world were spinning. “I think we’re stuck in the worst of two possible parallel universes.”

“Dennis, I’ve got to catch up on the budget,” Mayor Heyward interrupted, “but we’re meeting at Pfeiffer L’deux for dinner. That’s all of us, and my Sadie will hate you if you don’t.” Then, to the rest of the room: “I’ll see you all in a few days when we do this again.”

Curling into a fetal position upon hearing his guarantee, Lee whimpered, “You see? He’s admitting both universes exist. And being casual about it, like a business trip. We’re all crossing over into a different dimension. They’re gonna confront us with our own doubles, and we’ll be racing to finish the twelve steps against them. Winning is losing, and that’s all we can do.”

“In moving forward through this renewal of your lives,” Olmstead said, ignoring Lee’s histrionics, “it would be beneficial if each of you remember to make this a group effort. You will have the good fortune to find brand new friends where you’re going, I’m sure, but the bonds already shared among you should not be broken. I say that with the utmost faith in your abilities to keep the pledges you’ll be making today. Should any one of you falter along the path, be forewarned, banishment from the group is a definite consequence. I cannot permit CJ to be friends with any who succumb to temptation.

“First, let me say that your rehabilitations will include routine drug testing. You will be pledging to abstain from all recreational drug use, and alcohol as well. Fantasize about the availability of second chances if you like, but realize there will be none. I want to emphasize two words from the note Agent Peterson read on my behalf this afternoon: harshest penalties. And two more he never read: expect them. You will be accepted into the finest correctional facility in all of Texas if you fail.

“The unique journey you are about to embrace is one that many drug offenders, throughout this great state, will be forced to take when Seamus Heyward becomes governor. We consider you to be the test cases, and your successes will ensure that the program grows. Monies coming out of the budget for your recoveries are, by necessity, minimal to the point of being nearly insufficient. Cutting costs incurred by this administration begins with skimping on the addicted. Such is the price of self-destruction. And CJ receives the same level of care as the rest of you. She’s not entitled to better services than the average citizen just because of my public persona and insider status. In a few days, this city will learn that the mayor creates down-to-earth solutions when crises unfold among those he keeps close, and that he does not permit the misuse of privilege. It gives me great pride to report that we intend, through you, to provide a shining example of this administration’s integrity. And you will stand with us in front of this building, soaking up the media spotlight as we announce, among other things, how humbly you will come to be healed.”

Trina hugged Lee; both mourning the ordeal in a soft chorus.

“There is a facility in Minnow Springs that has agreed to put you to work early each morning, and provide you with a substance abuse recovery group each evening. The agents are instructed to escort you there and back again, daily, and will remain on-site in shifts, for obvious reasons. You will be surrounded by people whose wisdom and experience have the potential to radically alter your attitudes. Do not resist the opportunity to be transformed by them.

“It may surprise you to learn the name of your destination, but in time you will come to trust that it is good.”

Deputy Mayor Olmstead stood now, hoisted his briefcase from the floor and positioned it squarely on the chair in which he’d been sitting. Removing a pamphlet, he spun back around and unfolded it, crowing, “Feel loved and be healed at Freshwater Gardens Senior Center.” Then, with the speed of one who reads a radio disclaimer, he added, “Director of Operations, Madge Casper-Astor. Activities Coordinator, Sylvia Mendez.”

Luckily, The Sons were standing in between Sweet Tubby Sluts and Leo, for the girls immediately rushed him, hoping to re-create, bone by bone, the worst beating they’d ever seen in a movie theater.

—END—


Grover Gaines is currently promoting his unpublished novel, The Womb's Undoing, online at writtenwithsubtext.tumblr.com, and lured some other adventurous readers to the novel's facebook page. He'll be occupying a booth at the Brooklyn Book Festival this September.