Fiction, Weirdness


YOU HAVE A PRIVATE MESSAGE FROM NATALIE FRITZ, said the subject-line of the first email.

“Hey Stranger”, Natalie began. “A friend of mine told me I can easily find someone in my area.” Blah blah portfolio blah blah call me yadda yadda discreet sexual encounter in hotel room. Five lines to get to the point. I clicked on the accompanying link more out of habit that actual interest, and moved on to Jackie Cassell, and Francesca Valdez, and Brittany Eyman. Tough to pick, all their profiles had an airbrushed, unimaginative similarity that screamed eager-to-please. Boring.

Francesca’s blunt “Let’s fuck like rabbits” helped. I wrote three lines – nothing too flashy, nothing that reeked of formality. A mild compliment, a Seinfeld reference in the second line (Seinfeld always gets them, somehow), and ending with a casual “let’s meet around five, take care”. Hit send. I figured it would take her about an hour to respond. She sounded a one-hour type, just like Kylie from last week, and Vivian and Jessy. There was this one – what was her name again, Corina? Clarissa? Yes, Clarissa – who responded in thirty minutes, the current record. I liked Clarissa, we shared a lot of discreet hotel time that week.

One email from drugsonline_258 and another from Lin Courtney. I checked my Cialis stock just to make sure I have enough to last next week. Wrote a polite “hey-what’s-up” to drugsonline_258. Dougie – that was his name, a college drop-out with a T1 line, a heart of gold and a a steady supply of the good stuff – Doug the Dog made a point of offering great discounts to valued customers. I was one of them and I liked to keep up the personal relationship. You really have to admire a guy who knows how to maintain his customers’ inches-to-height ratio, if you know what I mean.

I didn’t respond to Lin – her last batch of MAX-Gentleman pills arrived two days too late, and she did not include the complimentary stash of Viagra that she promised.

Four mails from Nigerians. Henry and his friends, Christ. I took charge of Henry’s money a year ago. With a twenty percent commission, which was way less than the de facto thirty-five percent others charged. Twenty percent of his Swiss stash of two million dollars still made for a pretty chunk of pocket change, and my goodwill gesture was telegraphed to the rest of his countrymen, just like I hoped. Every other week, some oil prince or junior minister sent in a polite, awkwardly worded missive, full of detailed family histories and apologetic explanations and a seven-figure amount. I kept my replies short and my percent constant. I liked Henry and his pals. And other than a few nervous calls from Chase Manhattan about the frequent wire transfers to and from my checking account, things are fine.

The iPad offers are getting tiresome. Sure, they’re a dollar each, but not sure if I should get myself another one of those. Some site tries to scam me into spending $4.99, some spiel about matching 10% of retail price. Good luck finding a sucker, buddy.I send them crisp “Not interested” one-liners, the same that goes to the $800 VIP casino prizes, the holiday deals, the work-from-home offers. Too many of them with too little money, and I don’t have the time.

Francesca’s reply arrived just as I was done with my last email. Two minutes shy of Clarissa’s half-hour record. I texted her on the number she sent me, and got up to make myself some coffee. I glanced at the email from my my brother, and another from Jonathan from my old work-place asking how I was doing. I deleted them right away. I don’t have time for spam today.


Soon, you will rule the world

You have promise, young one. You remind me of myself at your age. But you still have much to learn, and your impatience will be the death of you.

If you have to make a long speech to someone, shoot his kneecaps first. Every evening, remember to change the oil in your chainsaw, sharpen your knives, reload your gun. Increase the soundproofing in the basement. In the event of a family massacre, it never hurts to throw a grenade under every bed. Get an accent – an English one is good, a European one exudes class. Once every month, kill a henchman, preferably the one that’s quiet and flinches every time you laugh. Never forget to wash the blood off your shirt. Remember to dispose of the bodies. Nobody wears kevlar sunglasses, eye-patches or masks. Make sure that cutting the red, blue or green wires does not stop the countdown. Dress carefully – keep an extra gun in one shoe, and a knife in the heel of the other. Learn to smile without crinkling your eyes. Use stronger passwords. Vaseline makes it less painful, but it makes you look weak. If you are trapped with nowhere to go, whimper, blame your childhood and promise you will change. Or play dead. When in doubt, blow shit up. Get yourself a right-hand man. Keep him busy –  when the time comes, he can take the blame for everything. There is no such thing as a fair fight, or a noble enemy. Collateral damage is your friend. Overkill is under-rated.

Press the red button thirty minutes before the scheduled countdown. Kill your master. For added insurance, kill the other students as well. Destroy all your childhood photographs, especially the ones in your High School year-book. If you have children, force them to watch; if they blanch at the sight of blood, they’re not worth it – and you can always make more of them. It’s better to control the man who rules the world instead of ruling it yourself. Shoot first, and never ask questions – it’s more fun to make up your own answers. Read a lot of fiction, so you know what mistakes to avoid. Always get the last word in. Nothing says “no-nonsense” like a swift kick to the family jewels. Never use elevators. Keep a baseball bat with you during meetings. All strange sounds can be silenced with a semi-automatic. If you are in a nightclub, keep two women on either side – they tend to distract, and make good shields. When tracking your quarry, check the the air-conditioning vents and the attic. Hostages make good witnesses, make sure they lose their eyesight before you release them. Fire at the count of two. Video-tape everything. Hang up the phone after 1 minute and 59 seconds. Keep multiple escape-routes ready. Always remove the utility belt first. Retreat if you must, but do not forget to activate the super-virus in your mainframes. Learn to reload in ten seconds.

What was that again? Your kneecaps hurt? It will all be over in ten seconds, don’t worry.

(inspired by an email sent to a friend on his birthday. )



“Primates are base creatures, Monsieur de Ponti, and fine wines are wasted on base creatures”, the Countess haughtily ventured, bringing the guests at the dining table, or at least those within earshot, to that state of embarassment that accompanies a rather rude comment in a public arena, where you don’t really know whether to pretend you didn’t just hear the last remark, or whether to express shock – polite shock, of course – the kind that cannot be held against you later .

“It’s a common misconception”, Augustus du Ponti remarked softly, sipping on his Barbelit with his eyes half-closed, “That monkeys are not alcohol-aware.” In hindsight, it was probably only Hoover the butler who noticed his master’s tail twitching under his dinner jacket, the sure sign that the comment had agitated him. Either that, or he had had too much of the salad – and Hoover was not a man who took chances – he made a sign to one of the maids to be ready with the tranquilizer dart.The Countess had to be dealt with before things got out of hand.

“Hardly a misconception, Monsieur.” The Countess continued, “Just because the State has decreed that monkeys are allowed to vote does not entitle your lot to partake of the finer ways of life. It’s monstrous! Preposterous! Why, just three decades ago, I used to see your kind cavort around in circuses”, she spat out the word “circuses” with an aristocratic disdain that comes naturally to those accustomed to three centuries of decadence. “Dancing to show-tunes and wearing short skirts!”

“Calm yourself, my dear lady!”, Sir Ruttles Roterleigh, who had been sitting right opposite the Countess. He hated to talk in the middle of his drink, especially because he loved watching the mini-squids in his glass of Barbelit indulging in exotic mini-squidy mating rituals. “We are, after all”, he hastened to take a sip from his glass, just before before the mini-squids had their mini-orgasm and the Barbelit frothed and bubbled. “Progressive people, are we not?”

“You stay out of this, Rutty”, The Countess screeched. “Everybody around here knows about you and your tastes. A goat in your boudoir, a harem of neutered cats…You lot ought to be ashamed of yourself, you are the ones encouraging apes such as these. You are encouraging them to become part of civilized society, OUR society. Look at it, look at all of them, all they can do is drink and PRETEND to be us.”

“Did you just say ape?”

“Yes. I said ape, you filthy ape.”, the Countess turned towards Augustus de Ponti, who was grinning at her. Not because he was amused, but because monkeys in general grin when they are extremely pissed.

It was at this juncture that Hoover the butler decided to take matters into his own capable hands. To the casual observer, Hoover was a man who did not exist at a given point of time, he was a ghost who walked, a soundless machine of efficiency who appeared by one’s side to fill up the empty glass, or to serve the foie-de-gras at just the precise instant the soup was done. So, to the untrained eye, this is what happened – the Countess, overcome with her own emotions – not to mention her tankedness –  gave a slight start and plonked face-first into the chocolate mousse. Probably, a slightly alert, unsloshed observer would notice Hoover’s eyes blinking furiously, and the maid in the corner sniff a little. But it would take a highly trained individual, with a working knowledge of ninjutsu, morse code and concealed firearms, to observe that Hoover’s blinking eyes had conveyed, in a rapid series of dots and dashes, the message “Shoot the fucking bitch. Now.”, to which the maid, her tranquilizer gun loaded inside her left nostril and the nostril locked onto the Countess’s tush, exhaled sharply.

“Pity”, Augustus de Ponti sighed. “She seemed so nice. Reminded me of my dear mother too.” He sighed. “You would expect a woman of her stature would know that monkeys are not apes. Apes are…different. Apes lack class. Finesse. The… the….something that flows in a monkey’s blood. Pity.”

The guests around the table, all of them had grown visibly less agitated following the Countess’s passing out, muttered and clucked sympathetically. They knew dear Augustus never let go the chance to indulge in a monologue. To his credit, he didn’t mind when his listeners dozed off.

“I have led a pampered life, my friends. I have never really known the outside world, because my father would not let me venture outside the casa. Oh yes, I have travelled, but not the way my father did. His was a life of adventure, of travel to uncharted lands. My father knew penury, he knew what the word ‘hardship’ really meant – I had it confused with ‘lordship’ when I was a wee monkey, and he was a lucky bastard too. Made his fortune before he turned twenty-five, met my mother at around the same time.”

He paused while Hoover brought him another Barbelit, and took a sip from the glass.

“And the silly woman had to run away with, of all creatures, a Sarus crane. The doctor that delivered me, the crane was. My father had to raise me all by himself, and because he didn’t shirk away from his responsibilities, he put his heart into bringing me up with as much love and affection a father could bestow on a child. The day I turned eighteen, my father gave me the keys to the casa. ‘Augustus’, he told me, ‘You are your own monkey now, and I leave my fortune in your hands” He left Hoover with me, and went away to have an adventure. And here I am, friends, stuck in a world of parties and morbid countesses and endless boredom.”

“But no longer.”, Augustus de Ponti exclaimed, and emptied the glass of Barbelit in one sip. “This incident has given me the impetus to rise and chart my own course. My father was right, I am my own monkey, and I choose not to lead this life.”

“But…but…Augustus, your fortune, the casa, the future of the company….as your financial advisor, I MUST advise you to think carefully about this.”, That was Pandora Baruah, Augustus’s financial advisor, with an expression of horror on her face.

“Oh, fuck it, Pandora. Can’t you handle a little monkey business all by yourself?”