Bear Fight!

29 Jul

bears fighting

Barry was the toughest bear in the forest. He was 10-0 in professional bear fights and 8-0 as an amateur. He was the current bear fighting champion. The up and comer, Burt, was young and hungry and ready to take Barry´s belt. They weren´t very fond of each other outside of the ring so this looked as though it was going to be a barn burner.

On the day of the big fight, Barry came down with a virus. He had trouble getting out of bed. His manager, a skunk named Sammy, was ready to call off the fight. Barry refused. He could not lose face to the young punk, Burt. Besides, it would ruin his legacy.

Barry and Burt squared off in the middle of the ring. The referee went over the rules of the fight. Barry noticed a twinge of fear in Burt´s eyes. Burt recognized the exhaustion in Barry´s eyes and his confidence grew a bit. The referee sent them to their respective corners.

Barry knew he could not take many body shots. His digestive system was wrecked by the virus. Burt wanted to avoid Barry´s heavy front paws. He knew one touch and he could go to sleep. He desperately wanted to take the fight to the ground.

As they were circling each other a slight boom echoed and scared the birds out of the trees in the distance. Suddenly Burt felt a piercing sting in his chest. Breathing became next to impossible. All he could feel was a burning, his vision was no longer clear. He started to fade. Consciousness failed him.

Approximately 300 yards a hunter lowered his rifle. He looked to his partner. “Got dat Bear!”

As all the animals, with the exception of Burt, ran away from the championship fight Barry cried “I AM STILL CHAMPION!”

 

 

On The Outside Looking In (Pt. 4) Final Episode

24 Jul

Link to part 1: http://goo.gl/xig689

Link to part 2: http://goo.gl/aLWd5f

Link to part 3: http://goo.gl/tU4H8F

A full moon is seen behind the minaret of Mohamed Ali mosque, Cairo

 

As night fell and the two men sat waiting to be called. The driver´s legs were cramped and he could not find a comfortable position to sit. Makmood had no legs and was perfectly comfortable lying on a stone bench.

A single guard entered the courtyard and the driver poked Makmood until he woke.

“The sheik would like to see the two men who saved his life at once” the guard softly said.

“Yes, sir” Makmood said enthusiastically.

“Yes, sir” the driver said with little emotion.

The two men made their way to where the sheik was recuperating. He was propped up on silk pillows. A thin silk sheet was pulled up to mid torso exposing his powerful upper body. He did not look like a man who earlier that day was close to death.

The two men waited at the door waiting for the sheik to invite them in. He waved them in.

“Good evening gentlemen” the sheik said.

With heads bowed and their stares fixed upon the floor, in unison they repeated, “Good evening”

“You may feel at ease, gentlemen. No formalities during this encounter” The sheik said.

“As you wish” said the driver without lifting his head or glance.

Makmood, waist high to the driver, looked the sheik in the eyes, scooted towards him and offered both hands. A guard stood at attention but the sheik waved him off.

Makmood took the right hand of the sheik into his and said “It it a great honor to have ridden upon the same cart as you”

“Surely it was only an honor after you had found out who I was” the sheik said.

“No, sir, it is a privilege of God to be put in situations where one can be of service to their fellow man. The more dire need of your service, the greater the honor. I was blessed today”

The three stayed in silence for a moment. A tear rolled down the sheik´s eye. “Guard, please leave us alone”

“But, sir…..” the guard protested.

The sheik shot a glance back at the guard that was more piercing than the sword he had taken in the thigh during battle. “Yes sir” he acquiesced.

As the door shut the demeanor of the sheik changed. His warmth evaporated. His expression almost mean.

“You two will have to leave the territory immediately. You cannot even go home to you holes in the mountain. You will have an escort to the limits of the province, about two days travel away” the sheik said.

“Whatever are you talking about?” Makmood asked. The driver was paralyzed with fear.

“You are lucky. Everybody else involved will not breathe another breath after sun rise today” the sheik said, looking out the window at the full moon.

“Why?” Makmood asked with little signs of emotion.

“You found me and exposed my shame. I had drunk poison and was trying to make my way to the caves. I wanted to die in a cave. I miscalculated and must have passed out on the road. How far was I from the caves?” he asked.

“Not so far” Makmood said. “May I be so bold as to ask why you would do such a thing?”

“Yes” the sheik said and sat in silence before offering his answer. “Animals, when they can, often go into the woods to die. I, wanted to go into the home of the animals to die. No offense” he meant that. He only realized what he said could be construed as offense after the last word had left his mouth.

“Non taken” Makmood said. The driver, still paralyzed.

“As a boy I watched the fires burn in the holes in the mountains from the palace. I would invent stories in my head about what was happening at that moment. As an adolescent, I even wrote some of these stories down. It was the only time I didn´t feel bad” he suddenly stopped talking and looked away, though there was a feeling in the air that there was much more to be said. He looked back just to say “You must leave immediately. I have arranged your escort. Do not say one word until you leave this building if you wish to take another breath outside of it” and with that he looked away once more.

 

On The Outside Looking In (Pt. 3)

23 Jul

Part 1: http://tinyurl.com/qxwrfdp

Part 2: http://tinyurl.com/k75cmqe

archways

 

The soldiers led them through the archway entrance of the magistrate. The smallest of the soldiers ran off to get a doctor for the sheik. A couple of guards approached and greeted the soldiers.

“What do we have here?” one of the guards asked.

The tall soldier answered “According to these two, they were traveling into town when they spotted Sheik Masoud face down in the sand. They put them on their cart and brought them to town. If their story checks out, we are in the presence of heroes. If not, we are in the presence of dead men” he said with a crooked smile as he looked back at Makmood and the driver. The driver gulped hard. Makmood smiled back.

After about an hour of hard interrogating, followed by a decent meal, Makmood and the driver were asked to wait in a court yard.

“Isn´t this just splendid?” Makmood asked.

“What do you mean splendid?” the driver asked, irritated by the question, “I am missing a day’s sales! And we don´t even know if they believe us! You heard the soldier, we will be killed if there is an iota of doubt in our story! And you won´t go home with one coin! How are you going to eat?”

“I just did” Makmood said with a calm smile, “They will believe us. We told the truth. And we are heroes. You heard the soldier. He said so”

“He also said we are dead men!” the driver cried.

“No, he said we are heroes and if our story is not true, we are dead men. Our story is fact, therefore we are heroes, my friend” Makmood said. “We saved the sheik´s life! He is a good sheik. You know that. Sheik Masoud lives in the palace in front of our community. I watch the oil lamps burn at night when the mood strikes me. They dance in the darkness and they calm me”

“If you were any calmer, Makmood, you would melt into the rock!” the driver said. He felt relieved by Makmood´s convictions that everything would be all right.

Just then the guards came in. The driver stood and Makmood did his best to sit as straight as he possibly could.

“Well, it seems you two are heroes after all. The sheik is weak at the moment but he would like an audience with the two of you as soon as he regains his strength. This may be a little after sundown or possibly after sunrise. Regardless, we shall ask that you stay until the moment presents itself”

The driver did his best to hide his irritation. Makmood did nothing to mask his joy.

“How wonderful!” Makmood exclaimed.

On The Outside Looking In (Pt. 2)

22 Jul

ox cart

 

Link to Part 1: goo.gl/xig689

 

The naked man had not moved, save the jostlings of the cart over the rough terrain. It would be difficult to tell that he were alive if it weren´t for sporadic labored breaths. Makmood had taken a sheet off of a basket of apricots to cover the man so he would not suffer any more burns from the sun than he already had.

The cart dustily rolled its way into town and made its way to the first of a series of military checkpoints. The driver bowed his head to the soldiers as he slowed to cart to a stop.

“Good morning gentlemen” the driver said.

Makmood, without taking his glance off of his new friend offered a hand in the air and a “Hello”.

Four soldiers flanked the cart, as per protocol. “What do you have in the cart?” the tallest of the soldiers asked.

“My usual, apricots and nuts for the market. And a beggar!” he said with a chuckle as he amused himself.

“And who is that?” the tall soldier said with a horrified look on his face.

“Who?” the driver asked, puzzled by the question. He had forgot about their earlier heroics.

“Is that man dead? Uncover his face at once, beggar!” The soldier ordered Makmood.

As Makmood pulled back the sheet there was a loud gasp from all four of the soldiers.

“You two are under arrest!” the tall soldier declared.

“For what?” the driver asked with a cold feeling in his stomach. His mind was scanning for reasons for this declaration. He had paid duties on the apricots. The nuts were from a new vendor. Could they be contraband? Makmood had a cool calm to him. It´s hard to rile a man who has nothing to lose.

One of the soldiers, dumbfounded, with a single tear rolling down his eye gasped “Sheik Masoud, what have they done to you?”

Makmood realized what was going on and piped up “Gentlemen, we found him on the road many miles back. We saved his life! He was unconscious in the sand. He would have baked in the sun. We just gave him a lift. In fact, we had no idea who he was. It was our honor to help this man, be him a sheik or be him a lowly beggar such as myself”

The tall soldier, who appeared to be the leader of the squad, seemed to buy Makmood´s story, at least momentarily. But there was protocol to follow.

“Beggar, I would like to believe you but there are rules to follow. We will have to take you to the magistrate to see if your story checks out and to record all of these happenings” the soldier said.

“Will there be lunch?” Makmood asked.

“If everything checks out, sure” the soldier said.

“Great” Makmood said.

“No! Not great!” said the driver of the cart. “I´ll lose a day at the market! My family will go hungry!”

“Easy, man, you have apricots and nuts. They surely will not spoil. You´ll have tomorrow” the soldier said.

The driver shuffled, dejected, towards the magistrate building with his cart in tow. Makmood rode upon the cart elated knowing where at least one of his meals was coming from.

 

Link to Part 1: http://ryanimpink.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/on-the-outside-looking-in-pt-1/

On The Outside Looking In (Pt. 1)

21 Jul

“You’re better off living in the hole looking out to the palace than in the palace looking at the hole”  Karl Pilkington

 

palace

 

Makmood was born with deformed legs. Just beyond the knees were  flipper like flaps of flesh. He joked that we was born too late. If he were born a few hundred thousand years earlier, he´d do well as a water born creature but as a desert dwelling creature, they didn´t help him get around on the sand very well. Makmood made his way through life on the kindness of strangers and his community. He was a beggar. He felt he was fortunate to have meat on the table every night so for him, he had it all.

Sheik Masoud on the other hand was born a perfect physical specimen of a man. He was a natural athlete, a natural scholar and had angular good looks. Growing up in a royal family, he had access to everything, the best schools, the best athletic training, the best health care, etc. Masoud was not born perfect though. His deformation was unseen to the naked eye. It was in his brain. He suffered from crippling depression. He had everything the world had to offer at that moment at his very disposal, yet wanted none of it. At night he would slide his feet, adorned in satin slippers, across the marble floor to the edge of the second story balcony of his palace and look. His eyes were met with tiny flickers of light coming from tiny holes in the rock faced mountainside. He would curse the wretches whom occupied these primitive dwellings before turning the curses onto himself.

*   *   *   *   *

Makmood was hoisted onto an oxcart bound for the town square where he would try to earn his day´s wages by evoking sympathy in passer byers. On the way to town, he saw a man face down in the sand off the side of the road. The man was completely naked and his back was slightly sunburned. The driver had already seen the man and began to slow down.

“What do we have here?” Makmood asked the driver.

“Probably just a drunk who couldn´t find his way home last night” replied the driver.

“Might be” Makmood replied and added “regardless, we´ve got to get him out of the sun. He won´t last long like this”

“Makmood, you´re always trying help people when it is you who needs the help!” the driver said.

“Well, I´ve been blessed so I feel I owe it to the world to do my best to help others less fortunate than myself”

The driver tried to hide his puzzled face for fear it would insult Makmood. How on Earth could this guy think he is blessed? And how could he possibly be of help to others in his condition. He is a beggar. He lives off the generosity of others. He lives in a cave carved out generations ago by primitive people. These thoughts spun around the driver´s head in a circular motion until Makmood uttered “I will need your help helping this gentleman. Certainly I cannot lift him onto the cart myself.

The driver thought quietly to himself “I guess it is easy to offer help when it is not your own back you are offering” as he hoisted the unconscious man unto the cart.

 

*   *   *   *   *

Liquid Werewolf

12 Mar

werewolf

 

For Rick, reality seemed as slippery as a bar of soap in a prison shower. It didn´t help that Rick was altering his consciousness on a daily basis. He would celebrate good occurrences by “going deep”, as he put it. He would escape the bad movements by “tuning out”, as he put it. But this had to change when he met Pamela. He was in love with her and Pamela did not approve of such behavior. He loved the feeling she gave him more than that of the substances, at least for now. Of course that feeling will fade and the sudden urgent hit of the substances will call him back. Not to mention the high will be increased by his abstinence making it harder to say no. But for now he is towing the line.

On a rainy Sunday afternoon while lying in bed after a hardy fast food lunch that made them sleepy, Pamela hit Rick with some shocking news.

“Rick, what do you think about kids?” she asked.

“They are great. Far from me” he answered. His words felt like a well placed punch in Pamela´s stomach.  “Why?” he asked.

“No reason” she said, trying to hide her real emotions.

Over the course of the next few months, Pamela did everything she could to hide her ever growing belly from Rick. Besides what he said on that rainy afternoon when she tried to tell him the news, deep down she knew he´d be a lousy father. He was 35 years old and living in a room in an old woman´s house. Their deal was, he´d keep the grass cut and the rent would be cheap.  The grass was knee high.

Pamela´s belly got to the point that no garment would hide it. She was nervous. She had a strange attachment to Rick even though she knew she could do much better. In her heart she knew she had to do better for herself and her unborn child. She wanted to have a dialog with Rick and she thought that maybe a few beers would loosen him up so she picked up a 12 pack on her way to Rick´s house.

When she arrived she offered him a beer. A wave of fear washed through Rick´s stomach. It was as if a self aware werewolf saw the first sliver of a full moon.

“Oh, I shouldn´t dear, I just took a Tylenol and that´s not good for the liver” he said, proud of his own quick thinking.

“Just one, hun. I´ll have one with you” she insisted.

“Just one” he said.

That first beer went down his throat as if it were honey descending a silk lined golden tube. It tasted so good. The slight alteration in mood felt so familiar. The air smelled better. The future seemed to not matter yet so much brighter at the same time. If one beer made him feel this way, another would make him feel that much better.

“Pass me another on, hun, that hit the spot” he said. He was careful to form the words perfectly. He did not want his tongue to defy him. He knew that it was already becoming a little rebellious.

“Sure” she said as she past him another.

He drank it down even more greedily than the first. The bright warm feeling starting to turn a little dark with this beer. The future seemed to matter even a little less, though the brightness was gone. The switch was thrown.

“We really need to talk” Pamela said not knowing that the chemistry of Rick´s brain was changing like a hot summer afternoon with a storm rolling in.

“Sure, babe, pass another beer” he said.

“Ok, but take it easy, you don´t want to get drunk, do you?” she said jokingly.

He didn´t pick up on the playfulness in her words and said “What is it to you if I get drunk. We are together for a few months and you already want to control me?” he felt an old anger that has been with him for years. “I want a cigarette”.

“You smoke?” Pamela asked with a shocked expression on her face.

“Sometimes” he said as he reached passed her and pulled the third beer from the box.

“I didn´t know that” she said.

“Yeah? Well, there are a lot of things you don´t know about me” he said with a face that was not hiding the sourness he felt in his soul. He chugged the beer without even taking a breath. He reached for the fourth.

“What´s going on here?” Pamela asked.

“You told me to” he answered. This really confused Pamela.

“I have to go” Pamela gathered her things and went for the box of beer when a hand grabbed her wrist and pulled it away.

“You can leave that” Rick said.

“Ok” she said with tears in her eyes.

That night Rick went on a bender that ended three days later. When he finally passed out in a burned out house on a pissed stained mattress in the seedy part of town, Pamela had already crossed the country to lay her head on the silk pillow in the luxurious guest room of her sister´s home.

Giving it up

18 Feb

art_or_insanity

“That´s it, you either give it up or give me up! I´m outta here if you don´t stop it” April said.

Bruno could not hear her because of the Wifi signal that buzzed in his head and scrambled his thoughts. At least he thought it did. A long with many other things that were going through his mind that indeed were not true, at least not in this dimension. In fact, there was nothing for him to give up. He was having what his doctors called episodes of psychotic behavior and he was blaming his actions on heroin use. The truth was, Bruno doesn´t even drink coffee, let alone do drugs.

Bruno was in a semi-lucid state for the moment. He had to think of a way out of this. He loved April and didn´t want to lose her. On the other hand, due to past experience, he knew that this could go on for at least another few weeks and up to a few months. He didn´t want her to know about this side of him, yet. He had an idea.

“April, I choose you. I´ll go to rehab” he said.

Tears welled up in April´s eyes, “Oh, I love you. You´ll get through this. I´ll be there for you” she said.

Bruno had no money. During this last episode, he lost his job and spent every last dime of he had in Atlantic City. When he is in this state he is more likely to engage in high risk behaviors. April was not that bright, so it was easy to get her to believe things.

“Give me 70 bucks so I can get a bus ticket” Bruno asked in a commanding tone.

“For what?” she asked.

“For bus fare to get to rehab” he answered.

“Oh yeah, of course. Here´s $200. I made good tips last night” she said and handing him a crumpled up wad of bills with pride that swirled in her stomach. “When are you going to go?” she asked.

“I think I should go immediately before temptation makes me change my mind” he said. What he really meant was, before he loses his feeble, finger tip only, current grip on reality.

“But if you go tonight, I cannot see you off. Make it tomorrow” she whined.

“No, it´s gotta be tonight” he said.

“Ok. Where are you going?” she asked.

Bruno looked around for an idea. Eureka. A bag of gold fish crackers. “Pepperidge Farms” he said looking at April crooked to see if she bought it, he nervously added “it´s a government run thing, free even” he said, now convinced she believed him.

After a long embrace, April said to Bruno, “Get better”

“I will” he answered.

On his way to the bus terminal, where he intended to buy a ticket to Akron, Ohio and wait out this episode with an aunt, the city started to turn into a jungle. “Oh shit” he whispered to himself as he felt reality become rather slippery.

As the cab pulled up to the terminal, Bruno was already planning how he would enter without getting attacked by the jaguar he saw following them for the past three traffic lights.

He skillfully made it through the front door of the terminal and as he wheezed deeply to catch his breath he said to the cashier, “One ticket to Atlantic City, please”

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