Guitar Guinea Pig

The ad said Frank was looking for someone with guitar mod experience, “$50 bucks but you have to really know your stuff and not be insane.” It was a shot in the dark, but his project had stalled and he thought some outside help was called for. He had been working on a contraption that he felt would truly take his music to the next level, and had been tinkering on his guitar for the better part of six months. His bedroom was covered in a thin layer of sawdust, and it wasn’t unusual for Frank to wake up tangled in some spare wire he had been working on before succumbing to sleep the night before. He almost had it finished, but he couldn’t figure out the last piece.
Craigslist can be a dicey place, but Frank figured he wasn’t offering enough money to really attract the crazies. Someone finally answered after six days, with the email address of “oldhippyinbensonhurst.”

“Hello

I am also a musician and have also done music technology repairs for many years.

Have added shielding to many guitars just using tin foil !

applied with a bit of adhesive.

My email is an alias I use, so don’t fret about it.

Now is 9:37 PM Sunday.

Have a good one !”

“This guy is going to murder you. I’m not joking,” deadpanned a coworker Frank showed the email to. Another coworker nodded in solemn agreement.
“I think he seems harmless. I bet he typed this out with two fingers. Watch, he’s going to fix whatever it is you’re working on and you two are going to become best friends.” said Frank’s boss, who seemed pleased with the mental image she had conjured for herself of Frank and an old hippy having a picnic.
Frank was mostly swayed. “Yeah, fuck it, right? He can’t be weirder than I am.” He got nods in return.

Frank called “oldhippyinbensonhurst” and found out his name was Tom. They arranged to meet at Tom’s workshop, which was also his apartment.
Bensonhurst is an old neighborhood, a relic of a New York that barely exists anymore. Sun-bleached brick and family houses. A quaint place, and odd, like a weathered photograph. When Frank stepped off the D train and looked around carefully, he wondered for an instant if his cell phone would work out there, and then snickered at himself for being silly. He glanced anyways. He walked where his map app pointed, but not very quickly. His legs were less eager than his brain. The momentousness of what he was doing had just dawned on him.
A man of about 65 opened the brownstone’s door and introduced himself.
Frank couldn’t quite meet Tom’s eyes, but followed him inside. He refused Tom’s offer of a glass of lemonade, wanting to get down to business.
Tom lead Frank over to a work table and they both sat down. Frank pulled out his guitar while Tom leaned forward with interest.
“So, tell me what you’re working on.” said Tom, looking very pleasant in a brown sweater and khaki slacks, his grey ponytail the only hint at a hippy past.
After putting in some earplugs, Frank fiddled with a box that sat behind the guitar’s bridge, and sat up straight. “Have you ever heard of the brown note?” he asked.
As Tom’s eyebrows crinkled in confusion, Frank raised his hand to the sky and brought it down with all the force he could muster, hitting all six strings with a ferocity that would have broken a lesser guitar. No sound could be heard, but the window rattled and Tom’s face sank. Tom had shit his pants.

The Wonky Body

I heard the news today, oh boy. A man had stubbed his toe on the Autobahn. He got out of his car to check the air in one of his tires, stumbled on a rock, and had his head run over by a Volkswagen Golf. The driver said she thought she had run over some spilled fruit.

It wasn’t the loveliest way to start my day, putting me in a mood I couldn’t shake. Our bodies are so fragile. Taking the train I saw someone try to squeeze in through closing doors and be repelled. I thought about how a door with that closing strength could break the bones of an octogenarian.

All around us are objects that we made, but could also kill us. I’m not even talking about guns, which are created for that use. Air conditioners fall on people. It’s a plot point in season 3 of Fargo, so it must happen all the time. An a/c injured a dog in Seinfeld too, fifth season. There are signs not to walk under scaffoldings because a clumsy construction worker can drop a hammer on your head, and yet scaffoldings are everywhere.

How do we survive? I’d say to stay inside, but a water leak from an upstairs neighbor can weaken your ceiling enough for a couch to crash through right into your sternum.

There must be a word for this feeling. I googled it, nothing. Bing to the rescue? Unfortunately not. I decided I must take it upon myself to forge a word for this dark feeling.

Fran-gi-ble-sis. Noun. A depression centered around how frangible the human body is.

Use it in a sentence? Sure. “Humanity’s frangiblesis lead to the popularity of the mech in popular culture.”

The first thing I had to do was register it on the vaunted website for new words, urbandictionary.com. Nobody is anybody until they have a word registered on Urban Dictionary, next to Fronto and Munging.

I looked at my bank account, prepared to spend hundreds of dollars securing what must be a rigorous screening process to register my first word. I was wrong. I wrote the word and the definition above and clicked submit. Five minutes later I got an email saying I was the rightful owner of this new word that I was sure would become a common part of the American lexicon.

What was I to do next with this valuable chit? What does one do to get the attention of the masses with a new piece of culture? Hashtag the shit out of it.

I then quote-tweeted myself to various news outlets. Buzzfeed, Fox News, Breitbart. Nothing came of these, but I knew that when the word eventually got picked up, internet historians would be able to trace the word back to me.

I felt drunk with power. I then got drunk on alcohol. The alcohol was more effective with achieving drunkenness.

The next day I purchased a newspaper to see if they had picked up my word. They hadn’t, but a man had been electrocuted when he touched a lamppost that was improperly wired. I found the article online and wrote “This evokes a strong feeling of frangiblesis” in the comments under a pseudonym. I didn’t want to appear gauche hawking my own word. Shakespeare never commented on news articles.

The La Jas Offer, Chapter 1

It came to me in a dream. In my spam box, in a dream. The La Jas offer will change your life. it read, so I clicked it but there was no body to the message. When I woke up, the image of this dream lingered with me, I couldn’t figure out why. So I wrote it down. “Lajas offer”

I write down a lot of things that pass between my ears every day. Turns of phrase, little funny sounds. “Clamulet” is a word used in the show Smurfs that I had to record in my notes. I could never figure out a use for it, but I needed it in my life and I suppose I’ve just used it now, as an example.

“Lajas offer” meant nothing to me, despite me seeing those words typed on my phone almost every day. I intended to sit down at some point and actually collate all of the book recommendations and grocery lists I had saved, see what needed to be kept and what could be discarded, but that is always a task for another day. Today is never another day, today is important. Another day is in the future and will never come, it seems.

Then I got an email. The La Jas offer will change your life. I clicked it and there was no message in the body. The sender was me. The timestamp said it was sent 30 seconds prior.

I hit “reply” and sent back a blank message, wondering if it would land back in my inbox. It didn’t. A few minutes later I got another email from myself. RE:The La Jas offer will change your life. The body of the email said “What?”

What Bug Would You Be, A Psychological Profile

It’s a classic story, almost a cliche at this point. I was speeding around a lake on my uncle’s old WaveRunner, “Freddy,” when I saw what I thought were the branches of a submerged tree jutting out from the lake’s surface.

Freddy was a solid watercraft, having served my family for decades. I knew its hull would make short work of those twigs, and the shattering wood would make quite a spectacle, so I gunned my vehicle towards them.

It wasn’t until I was too close to dodge that I realized it wasn’t a tree at all. It was the head of a swimming elk. Not just any swimming elk either, it was a swimming elk that happened to be the pet of a local djinn also named Freddy that I had heard rumors about but I thought was a myth.

“What the fuck, dude?!” screamed Freddy, apparating from behind a discarded tin can on the shore.  “That’s my favorite elk! Can’t a Cervidae take a bath around here without some moron ripping it’s head off with a Sea-Doo?”

“Uh, it’s actually a WaveRunner, but don’t worry about it. I’m sorry man, I thought your elk friend was a tree.” I said to Freddy the djinn. Freddy the WaveRunner bobbed in its own wake.

“Wow, you’re really a dick, aren’t you? I can’t even berate you for killing my friend without you feeling the need to correct me. Guess what? I’m going to turn you into a bug.” said the flabbergasted djinn.

“Oh, uh, what kind of bug?” I asked.

“Well, I’m not an asshole like some people,” I think he meant me “so I’ll let you decide.”

“Like I can have the abilities of a bug or you’re literally turning me into a bug of my choosing?” I asked.

“The latter. I’ll give you 24 hours to decide, choose wisely. Before you ask, here are the ground rules. One, you’ll be reborn as that bug and have the natural lifespan of that bug, but you will have all the memories and intelligence, or lack of it, rimshot, you have now. You won’t be able to communicate with humans ever, or other bugs.”

I waited for him to continue, but he just stared at me.

“You said ‘one’ as if there was more than one rule.” I finally said after a long silence.

“I really don’t like you. See you in 24 hours, choose well!” Freddy said, poofing away at the last word.

Well, I had a lot of thinking to do so I WaveRunnered back home, my mind heavy with visions of rolling balls of dung like a dung beetle for the rest of my short life.

It’s not often that when I research for help on Google that I am met with methods for suicide, but when I searched for “What would be the best bug to be?” all the search returned were pesticides. 

How was this not a more frequently asked question? I decided I’d ask around in my social circles for advice.

You know that famous ice-breaker, “Would you rather fly or be invisible.” that is supposed to tell you something about a person’s personality? Like if they’d rather be invisible, they must be diabolical because they want to hide from society? Or if they want to fly, they seem themselves as a hero? My peers’ answers seemed to reflect their personality as well.

“You’d have to choose to be a spider, right?” said my friend Albert. “If you’re a web-spinner, you’re basically living life as a carnivorous artist, snatching  food from out of the sky with your cool spiral webs. That’s pretty rad.”

“What if I say ‘spider’ and he makes me a tarantula? Aren’t djinns known for twisting your words to make your wish into something shitty?” I asked.

“Well that’s on you for not being specific, but tarantulas are cool too. You can run real fast, jump, or be the pet of a Goth.” Albert replied.

“Why would I want to be a Goth’s pet?” I asked, perplexed that Albert listed that as a positive.

“Goth girls are hot.” was his answer.

I concluded that if one chooses to be a spider, they are a creep.

Next I asked my coworker Beth what bug I should choose to be. I don’t know if she realized I was asking seriously, but she had obviously thought of this before.

“Easy! A bee – You’re objectively pretty. You can fly. Spend a lot of time with flowers, getting all up in there with your hairy legs. But then again, you’re also a part of a hive mind. If you’re not the baby-factory queen, you’re a limb of that queen. But you also do funny little dances. I can see both sides.”

Beth used to be a Rockette, so I should’ve seen that answer coming.

Jermaine was standing next to Beth when I asked, and disagreed with her assessment. “I’d definitely be an ant – Same hive mind downside of the bee, but super strength! You can live in a pretty sweet sand castle with an infinite amount of rooms and your entire family.”

“But you’re also expendable,” I replied, playing devil’s advocate, “That family you pal around with will carry your carapace back to the sand castle to munch on as soon as they get the chance.”

“I think that’s true of all bugs, right?” said Jermaine.

I had no idea if he was right, but got very sad. Jermaine was a pragmatist, and the son of an air-traffic controller. His mom was allergic to blueberries. That’s not really relevant to anything but I couldn’t think of what type of people Jermaine represented with his “ant” response, so I figured I’d let you suss it out yourself.

Other answers I got were fireflies, scorpions, and stick-bug. People who answer this way are, respectively, Attention-seekers, radiologists, and German.

The last person I asked was Maggie. I had a crush on her, so I was hoping her answer would be insightful.

“A ladybug, because nobody ever tries to kill them. And they can fly, which is important.”

I was forced to let her know that ladybugs are actually beetles and it was obvious she was trying to get me in trouble with the djinn. I had no idea Maggie was such a horrible person.

When my 24 hours were up, I returned to the lake on Freddy, found Freddy’s tin can, turned off Freddy and shouted to Freddy.

“Great djinn! I have made my decision!” I yelled into the tin can.

“Jesus Christ dude, why are you yelling?” Freddy said from behind me, index fingers in his ears.

“Sorry. I just thought – never mind, I’m ready to be turned into a bug. Question though, I’m not going to pick this but if I had actually named a beetle, would you be upset?” I asked.

“Wow, you really are a pedant aren’t you? I meant insect, who cares about the difference. You killed my favorite elk! I was stressed out.” he replied.

I felt bad for thinking Maggie was out to get me. Maybe I should have picked her answer, but I had made up my mind.

“Okay, I’ve decided, but I have one request. Do you think I can choose where my egg is laid?” I pleaded. I gave the djinn my best puppy dog eyes.

“Sure, whatever, I just want you out of my face at this point.” He crossed his arms and bowed his head, and my world went black.

I see a faint light. I am in my egg. I stretch my legs and crack the shell. I have wings. They skitter tentatively, and then spread. I instinctually know how to fly, and I do. Up into the blue sky. As my eyes adjust, I see the Washington Monument. Using it as a landmark, I find the White House, flit through an air duct into the Oval Office, and sting Donald Trump in the eye. The newspapers will call me Lee Harvey Os-Wasp.

Sitcom ideas.

I’m not good at following through with ideas, so free of charge I’ll give you guys my show titles for sitcoms that can basically write themselves:

Vampire Bailiff
My Best Friend’s Best Friend
Sexy Doctor Hospital
What Witch Wouldn’t?
I’d Get That Looked At
Sexy Prisoner Prison
Fleur-de-LIES
I’d Smile but for The Botox (ISBFTB)
Seinfeld

Good luck!