Down The Ol’ Fishing Hole

This image is currently in the infirmary being evaluated for bites.

Let that lonesome whistle blow my blues awaay. Marty, grab me another beer, hot today.”
“You’ve got it, John.”
“Not a single bite today,” John sighed, drained the last stale drops from the can he’d been nursing, and wiped the sweat from his brow.

Marty tripped up the bank, catching himself on the cooler. “It’s just the heat,” he muttered to himself, tossing his empty can onto the collection they’d been forming that morning. He reached into the cooler for a fresh round and wiped a cold can across his forehead. The cool water running down his face felt divine. A branch snapping in the woods brought him crashing back to reality where he realized that his bladder was suddenly on the brink of exploding. He stumbled off the path to relieve himself, “It’s just the heat. Haven’t had that much to drink yet…”

John reeled his line in. The minnow was still intact. Where the hell are the fish? Where the hell is Marty? “Marty, I can feel myself getting sober down here!” He cast his line back into the creek, pushed the butt of the rod into the clay, and made his way to the cooler. At least he set a beer out for me, John thought. On his way back down the bank, he tripped on a root and rolled his way back to the creek, cursing the scrape on his elbow. He wiped the scrape clean with his handkerchief just as his reel began to click. Finally, some action, he thought as he looked up to his rod.

He looked up and saw, standing in the middle of the creek, holding the minnow on his hook, a haggard man. “The hell do you think you’re doing?” he shouted to the vagrant who looked up from the lazily flopping minnow, tilted his head, and let out a groan. “You can’t just go ‘round grabbing up people’s fishing lines. It’s just… it’s just fugging rude!” The man dropped the minnow and lunged at John.

Marty laid on the ground, convulsing as the blood drained from his neck, mixing with the beer draining from the can. The air smelled like iron, cream ale, and piss. I thought there’d be a light. I thought there’d be a song. I thought…

John ran through the woods, digging for his keys. Just get to the truck. Marty’s a tough son-of-a. He can handle himself. It had been years since John had run, about 30 since he’d done so in earnest but he was still the same guy who had felt more akin to a whitetail than his classmates. He crashed through the underbrush as if he had been born for it. He came out on the dirt road, still a couple hundred yards from his truck. He didn’t hear his pursuer anymore but wasn’t willing to risk slowing down now. He broke into a full-sprint, kicking a cloud of dust up behind him. As he started his truck, he prayed that he’d have a chance to apologize to Marty.


She gave him everything he ever needed. Sometimes she had to work 60 hours a week. Sometimes she may have had to give a little more to her supervisors than she wanted to, but her son was never left without what he needed.

Not to say she gave him everything he wanted. He never did get that elephant, but she did everything she could to make sure he had what he needed.

$100 for a school trip to New York City: done.

$300 for ski club: it was a close one, but she managed to get the cash together.

He always had new shoes in the fall, a new coat in the winter.

If he needed to see a doctor, he did. After all, she took the factory job so that she could get the health care.

Everything he needed, he got.

New cleats for football: done.

A bullet between the eyes when he turned: done.

She gave him everything he needed.

Final Thoughts

“Mom, no!”

That’s when I bashed her head in, monkey wrench to the forehead. The woman had taken care of me for 22 years and it came down to that.

I didn’t think I could do it. She’s my mom, for Christ’s sake. Well, was my mom anyways. Have you ever bashed your own mother’s forehead in?

There was a time that the more common answer was, “No,” but here, every day I find another person with a similar story. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, priests, wives, even toddlers. The unthinkable has become an every day occurrence.

The guy in the cot next to me doesn’t have a brother anymore. He raided his own house last week and found a note on his brother’s desk, “I couldn’t do it. She’s my niece.” His brother’s signature was scrawled at the bottom of the page. The door to the bedroom was off the hinges and there was blood everywhere.

This is what it’s come down to, slaying family members for survival. Tantalus cursed his entire family by killing his son. I have a neighbor that brought three of his kids to their deaths.

What’s left for us? I can’t think of anything either, so fuck it. Tonight, I’m leaving the Zone and all the people who are still alive behind me. Maybe one day they’ll realize how pointless their lives are too.

Earth Day

Before the outbreak, we used to run around with trash bags. We used to try to make the earth prettier. It made us feel good about ourselves, or at least good enough to go back to driving our SUV’s guilt-free.

This year it was a completley different story. Instead of picking up plastic bags, I found myself dragging a rotting corpse to a bonfire.

My cousin told me we were cleaning up to, “Find the beauty in and around the Zone.” What a load of horseshit. Even if we clean up the dead Zack and the few human corpses, we’re still stuck in an airport in Syracuse. When I looked around, I still just saw classic filth, but with a few less piles of stinking flesh.

To think that when I was growing up, I didn’t think that Earth Day could get any more meaningless.

Nielsen’s Gift

Battalion B, Squad 24 trudged back into the Zone after a long day of slaughter on a breezy, pleasantly cool Syracuse September day.

“Good job out there today, Guys,” Billy said, looking down at his gore-coated shoes.

“What’re you gonna do now?” asked Greg.

“I dunno. Tom, you still have that bottle under your cot?”

Tom shook his head, “No man… a bunch of 15-year-olds stole it from me, but they looked like they had some fun with it.”

“Damn…” responded the other two men of the squad in unison.

Continue reading ‘Nielsen’s Gift’

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre


Greg looked into the eyes of his fiancée, the woman he had proposed to just two years ago. When he awoke that morning he never would have guessed that he’d be in this situation. Luckily, without electricity, the convenience store’s doors wouldn’t open and somehow the glass on both the windows and door remained intact.

“Come on Greg!” shouted Billy. “We have to go regroup with the others. You pissed. Now let’s go and get away from the damned window!”

“Just give me a second, Bill,” Greg meekly replied.

“Dude,” Billy said as he grabbed Greg’s collar and pulled him within inches of his face. “You’re lucky that I haven’t bashed that fugging store open and spilled the black rot that is her brain all over the magazine rack.”

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Today, Billy Nielsen is a name that inspires laughter in the zone, but there was a time when in the city that name, the name of the best quarterback the city had ever seen, meant Bowl games and wins. It meant first downs and touchdowns. Then the man graduated, leaving behind a legacy of a three-year starter who was bound to be a top 10 draft pick, MVP awards, and championships.

He was drafted 4th overall in the draft. When he was selected there were cheers, fans jumping for joy. Finally, “the ‘cuse” had produced a future football legend. His initial jersey sales were astronomical. The streets were packed with #11 jerseys bearing the name Nielsen. It was one big beautiful bandwagon that spread like a virus throughout Central New York. Every man who knew anything about football was obsessed with his strong arm, good eye, and extreme mobility. He was a perfect athlete, destined for his fair share of records.

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Developing Character

So I was laying on the couch watching Man Vs. Wild when it hit me. I’m thinking the name Billy Neilsen. Former ‘cuse football star who after a couple mediocre years in the NFL was cut and left to do what all failed athletes do…. motivational speaking. Obviously bitter about his failed football career, he could become a decently entertaining guy. Any feedback would be appreciated.