Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Story of the Pen

I had a pen, and this is the story. It was given to me by the lady at the bank who had received it from her corporate office. The men that ran the office had sent pens, similar but not identical ones, to banks all over the United States. They were sent out initially as part of some sort of customer retention program, but when it was discovered that they did not help retain customers, they were discontinued. This made my pen a limited edition, although there was no way of proving it to anyone but myself.

The next time I went to that bank, the lady who gave it to me, Rhea, asked if I still had it. It turned out that it was in my coat pocket, so I showed her and she smiled. I think that’s when everything really started, with that smile. She asked if I would mind using the pen and writing down my phone number and address, which I did, of course, because Rhea was not unattractive. I asked her if she wanted to go get dinner and maybe play a round of miniature golf, and she said maybe next week. I gave her my pen to help her remember.

Well, the next week, pretty much to the day, I got home to find my entire apartment empty except for one pen, the same pen I had given Rhea a week earlier. Angry, I immediately drove to the bank and stormed in, hoping but doubting that Rhea would be there.

It turns out she was, and she still had the pen I’d given her, so I guess the whole break-in / pen thing was just a coincidence. Weird.

The Replacement

It was mid-scene, during a conversation, while the camera was on the starlet acting opposite him, when Gerald Harlan was replaced. The producer motioned for him, and after confirming that, yes, he was being implored to leave his mark mid-scene, Gerald stepped away from the peeling gray electrical tape on the floor.

He stepped too slowly, though, and nearly fell over–which certainly would have ruined the scene–as another man, an actor Gerald didn’t know, pushed past him and positioned himself on the mark. Ariana was just finishing her line when Gerald stumbled out of the camera’s line of sight. On the monitors, he saw the cut from one camera to another, from a tight frame of Ariana’s tearstained face to a close up of the actor’s stony visage.

“Helen, these things… they ought not to be! Surely we have found ourselves mired in the morass of hopeless, infinite mortality, where the worm dies not, and our very souls…. are swept from us!”

On “us”, George swept his huge hand across the table, flinging groceries and a candle to the floor in a clatter, while Gerald looked on in amazement.

“Excuse me?” he whispered to the producer, but he was quickly hushed by producer,whose motions clearly indicated he should see, not speak.

“Oh, Terrance, how could you? How could you speak such words, how could such vainglories pass from thy lips? Our love… it was to be everlasting, and now, it is not to be at all.”


Gerald tapped the producer on the shoulder, but received no reaction. The producer’s eyes were glued on the director, whose eyes were following the actor’s every move with glee.

“Good show, good show!” said the director. “You really brought it out. Really showed us something new, really brought a fresh spark.”

Gerald was confused, more confused than normal. He’d come in today expecting to film an episode of his hit television program and had instead, in a Gogol-ian misunderstanding, been replaced by someone who looked nothing like him!

Being well-read and aware that these sorts of situations never worked out well (See: The Double, Freaky Friday, et al), he decided to just go home. Unfortunately he arrived home to find that the same man had taken over it as well, and his landlord would not let him in. It turned out the man was dead, his father, the other half of his personality, and him.

Of course, ultimately, they both died, but not before making a raucous comedy that Gerald made no money from personally. Gerald was replaced, you see, by his twin who looked nothing like him.

Trip to the Mall with Cody

Walking through strip malls, checking out the wares of stores they wouldn’t be caught dead in if they had enough money for it to matter. They don’t, of course, and probably never will, but they all hold it in their heads, that if possible this will be the last ever visit to a store that sells anything for less than three digits. And the thing is, digits don’t always refer to money. Sometimes they refer to fingers which is a little confusing and sounds remarkably similar to finger, as in five finger discount, which most stores overtly discourage by both threatening prosecution and also putting those little plastic anti-theft device. Wearing a shirt with one of those things stuck to it might actually be more embarrassing than being caught stealing in the first place.

And Cody is walking with me, of course, because we’re tight like that, and Lorelai is waltzing along on her own, sneering at passerbys. Henri comes along because we don’t know why and there are a couple other kids I don’t know too well, just mall rats, I guess, like us. We’re a dying breed, and we walk and stuff.

So anyway, we’re all moving, right, and this guy comes over to us, and he’s kind of leering. It’s kind of freaking everyone else out but I’m personally kind of ignoring him, and then he slides over in beside Cody, and he’s whispering something. And we’re passing Lane Bryant and we go inside and this guy, he’s still there, still whispering something to Cody. She seems kind of nervous and not too excited about the conversation, but there’s some kind of sale going on and I don’t really have time to screw with it, and we all go in, I think.

So we’re in LB, checking it, and I notice that Cody isn’t with us. Through the window in the front of the store I can see her standing out front, talking to that guy, looking less uncomfortable, but he, still looking pretty crazy, wearing cast offs that no one I know well would ever wear, and he was gesturing crazily and Cody laughed, so I just went back to browsing the sale rack. And I’m thinking all good for Cody and she needs something or the other and I guess it might as well be homeless guy as anyone.

And when I’m finished, I go back outside, and everyone else is still looking around LB, and I don’t see Cody. I look down the corridor, past Panda Box, past Sears, past Gap, and she’s just gone. A few minutes later, we leave, all of us, everyone else bogged down with bags of whatever, and I wonder where Cody is.

The next day, I see her and she looks pretty good, maybe happy, maybe sadder than usual, who knows, but her eyes are all red like, and she seems kind of high. I say something to her, and she just passes, and I think I hear plastic or something but what do I know?