LJIdol Entry - Week 29 Entry

Running the Weekend Gauntlet
(A Leon Trout story)

Saturdays are ridiculous. Thanks to budget cuts, we only have one librarian, two circulation staff, and a part-time shelver to cover the seven hours we’re open. We typically spend the day running around handling checkout, check in, reference, and troubleshooting computer problems with our public computers that are so old that they still have 3.5 inch floppy disk drives. By four o’clock, one hour away from closing, we’re all pretty cranky. That’s about when this girl walks up to me at the front desk, crying and red-faced. She’s twentyish. She manages to say between sobs, “I need you to call 911.” She’s drooling too, and her words come out somewhat gurgled. “I need an ambulance.”

I pick up the phone, start dialing and ask, “What happened?”

More drool spills out as she manages to utter, “I’ve got a fork in my neck.”

A lady answers, “911. What’s your emergency?”

“Um,” I lean over the counter trying to see exactly where the fork is in her neck, but I don’t see anything. I don’t even see blood. Great, she’s crazy and I’ve just called 911 for nothing, and now I have to fill out an incident report. “I have a customer here who says she has a fork in her neck.” I look at her neck again and then silently mouth, “Where?”

“I swallowed it.”

The 911 operator starts asking for the address, as I cut in to clarify, “Wait, not in her neck. It’s in her throat. She swallowed it.” The operator pauses before responding in a voice that has gone up an octave, “She swallowed a fork?”

“I know, right?”

“Is she able to breathe?”

“Yes, she can even talk a little.”

“We’re sending an ambulance. What’s the address...”

By this time, Lauren and Barbara, my circulation staff, are trying to comfort the girl. While still on the phone with 911, I tell Barbara to take the girl into the workroom, and I tell Lauren to get our shelver, Lloyd, and have him go out front to watch for the ambulance. Once Lauren returns and I’m off the phone, I head back to check on Fork Girl.

She’s sitting on a chair, crying, drooling and on the verge of hyperventilating. Barbara is holding a box of Kleenex, and she’s pulling out great big wads of tissues to hand to the girl. “OK. OK,” I try to sound soothing, “The ambulance is on its way. You’re going to be fine. Just try to sit still and not move your head too much.” I turn to Barbara, “Do you know what happened?”

“No, I haven’t asked because I don’t really want her to talk.”

“Yes, good thinking.” I look at the girl again, “How the hell did this happen?”

She tries to say something, but only starts crying harder. I look back at Barbara who is now giving me the stink face. The girl manages to say something about fried chicken, a plastic fork, and throwing up.

“What? I don’t follow.” At this Barbara pulls me aside and whispers, “She tried to make herself vomit with the fork, but accidentally swallowed it.”

I turn back to Fork Girl, “But why did you have to do that in the library bathroom?”

“Leon!” Barbara shouts.

“What? Listen, I’m going out front to see how Lauren is doing and check on the ambulance. I’ll be right back.”

Barbara shoots back, “Take your time,” as I head for the door.

Lauren is handling a queue at the front desk, and a phone call with a second call on hold. I head out to check on Lloyd. I hear the siren and see Lloyd in the parking lot, jumping up and down and waving his hands. I rush back past Lauren, hold button still blinking, customer in front of her arguing about a fine, and I swing into the workroom. “They’re here!”

Barbara already has the girl up out of her seat and they’re moving toward the door. “I know. We heard the ambulance.” Did Barb just roll her eyes?

We shuffle past the front desk, Lauren now at the register, having collected that jerk’s fine, hold light still blinking…

The paramedics meet us in the lobby and take over. I watch the ambulance leave with Fork Girl, and breathe a sigh of relief. I check the time: 4:40. Only twenty minutes until we close. I feel almost giddy, and then I remember: I was supposed to fill out an incident report.

I look around at Lauren, Barbara and Lloyd. “Did anybody get her name?”

LJIdol - Week 28 Entry

The Copernican Principle

“This is about me right?” Larry put down the story he had just finished reading and looked over at Nick.

“What? How could that possibly be about you?”

“I think it’s obvious.”

Nick walked over to the couch, picked up the pages, and scanned them briefly before looking at Larry and saying, “But this is M.A.S.H.-Wonder-Years-crossover-slash fanfiction.”

Larry grabbed the pages back from Nick, and flapped them in Nick’s face. “Clearly, I’m supposed to be Kevin’s dad, and Sam is Hawkeye…”

“Oh, here we go again!”

“Yes, here we go again because you can’t let it go!” Larry went off on a rant about how Nick was continually punishing him for one indiscretion with a bartender named Sam, and how Nick was obsessed with the whole affair… However, early into the rant, in the corner of his field of vision, Nick noticed a pen on the living room table start to move toward Larry. The pen lifted off of the table and began circling Larry. As Larry continued onto some tangent about being a victim, Nick saw more objects take orbit around Larry--a cellphone, a tissue box, a votive candle. Nick tried to cut in, “Um, are you not seeing this?” But Larry just kept on talking about himself. Larry was so engrossed in his litany of woes that he didn’t even notice when Nick began orbiting around him, or when the house broke free from its foundation and began spinning around him, or when the earth underneath his feet grew concave as the Earth flipped inside out to begin orbiting around him, or when the planets and our sun fell into each other and began to orbit around him… He just kept on ranting about being a victim, and a martyr, and the object of everyone else’s thoughts, conspiracies, and speech.

This went on for quite some time. Larry was, after all, his own favorite topic of conversation. Eventually, planets formed around him out of the tattered piece of our solar system, life came to exist on one of those planets, and that life learned to speak, and build fire, and eventually to pray to their one true god--the center of their universe--Larry.

LJIdol - Week 27 Entry

His Brain Makes Its Own LSD
(A Leon Trout Story)

Karma is a real thing. I’m pretty damn sure of it. I used to work in toxic tort. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then perhaps you’ve seen that Erin Brockovich movie starring Julia Roberts. In it, Julia Roberts plays a spunky go-getter who helps sue a giant corporation on behalf of the townspeople poisoned by the company’s nasty chemicals. Pretty heartwarming stuff, but that’s not what I did. I helped defend companies from the little babies they poisoned. I felt like a bit of an asshole about it, but I still managed to do it for nearly six years before the law firm and I parted ways.

After a few years of trying other things, I sort of fell into librarianship. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I went into the field still thinking public libraries were like the one I visited when I was a kid in the early eighties, quiet and boring. I was an idiot, and karma was getting ready to do its thing:

I’m about two weeks into the job, and I’m the librarian in charge on Thursday nights. Thanks to staff cuts, we’re down to one librarian and two circulation staff at night to run a 15,000 square foot library with 28 public computers. So far, all is well, when a guy in his fifties walks in with branches duct-taped to his fedora. He’s also carrying a three foot metal pipe with bits of scrap metal welded to it. Damn it.

“Sir… Sir!” He doesn’t hear me. I walk out from behind the front desk and scuttle in front of him, but not too close. “Sir, you can’t bring that thing in here,” I say pointing to the cudgel. That’s when I notice the rest of his getup. He’s wearing work boots that he has painted gold, an elaborately hand-painted dress shirt, and cut-off jean short-shorts.

“Do you know why I have branches on my head?”

He reeks of gasoline, probably been huffing the stuff all day. “I don’t have a problem with the branches, sir. It’s the metal club in your hand that I can’t allow you to bring into the library.”

He raises his free hand to point up, “It’s so they can’t see me from the satellites.” Then he leans in conspiratorially, the gas makes my head swim, and he whispers, “I also bury my scat so they can’t track me.”

“OK, listen, it’s the club. You can’t bring a weapon into the library. Take it out right now, or I call the police.”

“This?” He raises the pipe and looks at it as if he only just noticed it was in his hand, “This is part of my bicycle.”

“Outside,” I reiterate pointing to the door.

“But someone will steal it if I leave it out there.”

“I don’t care. You can’t have it in here.”

“My brain makes its own LSD. That’s why they want me.”

“What? No, wait, I don’t want to know. It’s the club.” I point at it, “The club, I don’t want it in here.”

“But I need a book on canine dentistry and a book on seismic imaging for oil exploration.”

At this I pause. This is an actual reference question. It’s an absurd reference question, but he wants actual books. I look around at the library filled almost exclusively with people using our free internet to check Facebook, play Minecraft or Farmville, follow some useless celebrity’s Twitter feed, or search for porn that our filters fail to block. I sigh, “How about this, give me the club, I’ll put it behind the desk until you’re ready to leave, and I’ll help you find some books.”

He shrugs and hands me the club. It’s heavier than I expect, and I use both hands to keep it from dropping. I start to walk toward the desk with it, but then I pause. I turn back around to him and ask, “When you bury your scat, what do you use?”

He points to the metal club, both ends now firmly in my grip, “That.”

LJIdol - Week 25 Entry

Bertie and Ludwig: Intersubjectivity*

"So we are agreed?"

"Yes, agreed."

"Finally!" Bertie turned to his research assistant, "Benedict, we have decided on the Early Grey."

"Yes, sir." Benedict gave a cursory nod of his head, and left the office.

"Now then," Bertie slapped his hands down on his knees, "where were we?"

"The elephant in the room," Ludwig said without a hint of humor or irony.

"Well yes, so… it isn't here."

"I can't say for sure."

Bertie sighed loudly, “Ludwig, how can you be so obstinate?”

“I am not obstinate. I am merely correct.”

“But look around! No elephant!”

“No elephant that I can perceive.”

“But what you perceive is all that is there.”


“So if you do not perceive it, it is not there. Therefore, there is not an elephant in this room.”

“I really couldn’t say because what if what I perceive is not all that there is?”

Bertie buried his head in his hands. They argued back and forth like this for some time. Finally, Bertie twisted in his chair and shouted in frustration, “Where the Devil is Benedict with our tea?”

As if on cue, Benedict entered with tea. “We were out of Earl Grey. I hope Darjeeling is alright.” This time it was Ludwig’s turn to sigh loudly.

Bertie rolled his eyes and shooed Benedict away with a wave of his hand. He looked back at Ludwig, “Your line of thinking leads to solipsism.”

Ludwig shrugged his shoulders. Bertie was about to scold Ludwig for such a passive response, but he noticed something that stopped him cold. He could begin to see the outline of the armchair behind Ludwig’s shoulders that had begun to seem transparent. Bertie rubbed his eyes, and when he opened them again, Ludwig had become even more gossamer. “What the deuce? I say, Ludwig, I can see through you!”

Again, Ludwig shrugged, “If that is what you perceive, then that is the case.”

“But you are disappearing! Aren’t you frightened?”

“But I don’t perceive myself as disappearing. In fact,” Ludwig raised his transparent hands before his eyes, “I appear quite solid to…”

Bertie blinked wildly. Ludwig had vanished mid-sentence. Bertie stood and looked around as the entire room faded into transparency. He turned back to where the door had been. “Benedict?” There was only a vast expanse of nothingness behind him, below him, and above him. Bertie turned back to where Ludwig had been; there stood instead a massive elephant seemingly suspended in nothingness. Bertie felt as if he would lose his balance, and he took a step backward. He peered intensely at the elephant for some time, and finally asked, “What the hell was in that tea?”


*This is loosely based on a long-standing argument between Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein. To my knowledge, people didn't really call Bertrand Russell "Bertie."

LJIdol - Week 24 Entry

The Cupertino Effect

Paul and David sat facing each other in the small sushi restaurant, a bowl of warm, salted edamame between them.

Paul asked, “So how was your day, dear?”

David began describing his day, and all was quite pleasant until Paul interrupted, “Did you just say, ‘Kill all the monkeys’?”

David chortled, “What? No. I was talking about Monica losing the keys to the supply closet this morning. Where did that come from?”

Paul shrugged his shoulders, “I have no idea. I could’ve sworn I heard… Well, never mind. Go on.”

David picked up where he had left off with the story, and Paul made an extra effort to pay attention. When the plates of sushi arrived, David had moved on to describing his afternoon.

Paul poured out some soy sauce, and he unwrapped his chopsticks. He was just about to begin picking at the ginger when he stopped cold and interrupted David, “You said it again.”


“You said, ‘Kill all the monkeys’.”

David shook his head, “Wow. You need to get the wax out of your ears. I was talking about the moneys for the Reese account.”

“The Reese account?”

“Are you even listening? The Reese account. It’s what I’ve been talking about.”

Paul could see that David seemed a bit annoyed, “I’m sorry. I’m listening. I promise I am. I think I’m just… a little hungry. My blood sugar feels low.”

David sighed, “Well, then dig in. Maybe you’ll feel better.”

Paul smiled, “Yes. Now, please, honey, go on.”

David continued with his story, and Paul ate a piece of sushi. It was quite good, and he looked past David’s shoulder to the counter where the itamae was working, only the chef wasn’t there. In his place stood a monkey in a sushi chef’s uniform, clumsily tapping a knife against the marble countertop. Paul’s stomach tightened, and he felt queasy. He looked at David just in time to hear him say it again. Kill all the monkeys. Paul knew he had heard it correctly, but he didn’t say anything. The phrase rolled around in his head. Kill all the monkeys. He looked around the restaurant. All the diners had disappeared. In their places sat monkeys, monkeys dressed like humans, all eating sushi. Kill all the monkeys. Paul took his chopsticks and held one in each of his tightly fisted hands. He looked up at David, but David was gone. A monkey dressed in David’s clothes had taken his place. Paul set his jaw and steeled his nerves for what he knew he had to do next.

LJIdol - Week 23

I know "the fiction of the fix" is an expression that relates to an addiction, be it drugs, love, danger, or what have you, but I was driving home from work, thinking about this week's theme, and I saw the exit sign to DC that I pass daily, and it made me think of the expression in a different way, so here is my take on fictions and fixes and that odd desire to believe that a slight adjustment in course will fix everything in one's life.


Keep left at the fork and follow the signs
for Interstate 95 North. Washington
in under two hours, and everything will change.

I’ll get a new place with built-in bookshelves.
I’ll get a new job with an NGO.
I’ll start going to plays and wear suits every day.
I’ll give scallops another chance.
I’ll sit at the café, and pretend to read a book
                              as I watch for you.

But I keep right and follow the signs
to 64 East, to the shelves from IKEA
and my job at the bank (subrogating loans)
and the nights wasted in front of the TV
and the sweatpants and Cheeto-stained fingers
(and I’ll never like scallops)
and to coffee in the morning alone,
                            pretending I don’t care

about the life we could have shared
or built-in bookshelves.


LJIdol -Week 22 Entry

Theme: sweep the leg

Laundry Day

I'm pulling dress clothes
out of the dryer,
and I think, "These look great!
Why would anyone waste time ironing?"
And then I recall
what my mom used to say,
"You can't do anything right."

LJIdol - Week 21 Entry

The Music Made Me Do It

Cynthia sat down in the well-appointed office with her ukulele firmly in hand. “Have I ever told you how much I like the way your office is decorated? As far as psychologist offices go, yours is pretty posh.”

Dr. Roman leaned forward, “Thank you.” They both smiled at each other for a quiet moment before Dr. Roman spoke again, “I thought we said we were going to try today’s visit without your ukulele.”

“Yes, I know… I tried to leave it at home, but I just couldn’t leave it behind.”

“Would you let me take it, and put it behind my desk while we talk?”

Cynthia smiled the most sincere smile she could muster, “No.”

“OK. Let’s begin. How has your week been?”

“I had an incident… I was at work and my boss asked me into his office. It was time for my annual evaluation… and it happened again.” Cynthia looked down at her ukulele, the fingers of her left hand made the chord patterns to Bigmouth Strikes Again without touching any of the strings. “I tried so hard not to, but I ended up playing a song in his office.”

“And what song was it this time?”

“Frankly Mr. Shankly.”

“Oh dear.”

“I know… It’s almost as bad as my grandmother’s funeral.”

“Ah yes, remind me which one you…”

“Misfits… Dig Up Her Bones.”

Dr. Roman sighed, nodding her head, “Yes, that was a doozy.”

Cynthia lowered her head as she slumped in the armchair.

Dr. Roman sat upright, “OK. OK. Let’s get off this topic. How’s your daughter doing?”

Cynthia brightened, “She’s doing great!” She smiled broadly.

“And has the ukulele ever been an issue between you?”

“No not at all. She loves it. I can play the entire Andrew Jackson Jihad canon, and she loves to sing along.”

“That’s good, so you see, this addiction you have, it can also be a gift.”

“I suppose so.”

Dr. Roman stood up. “Tell you what… I want to try something. Please stand up.” Cynthia stood facing Dr. Roman. “Ready?”


“It’s not your fault.”

Cynthia shrugged, “Yeah, I know that,” and then looked at the floor.

“Look at me.” They locked eyes. “It’s not your fault.”

Cynthia nodded, “I know.”

“No. It’s not your fault.”

“Don’t do this.”

“It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”

Cynthia began to sob as Dr. Roman stepped forward and hugged her. Softly, Dr. Roman continued, “It’s not your fault. The ukulele made you do it.”

The music featured in this story:
the Smiths - Frankly Mr. Shankly:
the Smiths - Bigmouth Strikes Again:
Misfits - Dig Up her Bones:
Andrew Jackson Jihad:

 P.S. Happy Birthday Cynthia!

LJIdol - Week 20 Entry

CAPTCHA: a play in one act

W - The Woman
M - The Man

A bare stage, black backdrop, large LED screen center stage near backdrop, two spotlights-one to follow W and one to follow M as they enter stages right and left respectively and to follow them throughout.

W and M enter stages right and left respectively. They meet center stage and pause a few feet apart. They look at each other intently, but say nothing. They pass each other, head to opposite sides of the stage and rush back to center stage, facing each other. They look frustrated. They look like they want to speak but cannot. W stomps her foot. M leans in, but says nothing despite clearly wanting to respond. He slumps his shoulders and hangs his head low. W stomps her foot again, turns around and heads back to stage left. M stands still. The LED screen lights up with a CAPTCHA (clearly visible to the audience and clearly illegible). M considers it for a moment before running over to W. He gesticulates wildly to get her to follow him center stage. They run to the LED. M points to the LED while looking urgently at W. W turns her back to the audience and speaks.

W - S... M... T... 7... B... X!

The LED display screen flashes "Invalid Code! Please try again!" and goes dark. W throws her arms up in the air and slaps them down again to her sides. M slumps and hangs his head low. W looks at him, considers him, shoves him in the shoulder, and he looks up. She stares at him. He shrugs his shoulders. W looks skyward. M starts to turn to walk away and the LED lights up with a new CAPTCHA. M turns his back to the audience and speaks.

M - 6... 8... W... Q... G... 1!

The LED display screen flashes "Invalid Code! Please try again!" and goes dark. M drops to his knees. W drops down and sits cross-legged. They sit motionless, looking at the ground. (pause) W slowly looks over toward M. (pause) She paws gently at his thigh. M looks over to her and smiles. He places his hand on hers. W smiles. Overhead the LED displays another CAPTCHA. They don't notice at first as they look at each other. When they do notice, they look up in unison. W speaks.

W - (reading the first half) Y... E... S...
M - (reading the second half) N... O... W.

The LED display screen flashes in clear bold letters "Yes. Now." M stands, offering his hand to help up W. They stand facing each other and profile to the audience, hand in hand.

M - I love you.
W - I love you so much.

They hug.

M - I love you.
W - I love you.

The LED display flashes "END."

Intersection piece with