The Wedding (part 1)

​Cough, sputter, snort, “aughkoff, koff, blughhh, koff what the fuck?”
That’s how I woke up.  I was flailing in the middle of a lake, dead of night, completely clothed, sans one shoe, sputtering, coughing. I was going to die, then I realized I was in four feet of water and stood up, my unshod right foot slipping off of a rock to enter the gooey floor of the lake only to be retracted in fear and disgust.
I looked around, arms extended into the dark as I turned.  I could see lights and a few fires along the shores and thankfully, the looming dark shape of an island about twenty yards to my right.  Carefully I walked toward it, mercifully not bumping into any denizens of the not-so deep because I would have screamed like a little girl, fallen down and probably actually drowned in the rocky shallows.  I reached shore eventually and assessed my situation while trying to remember how the hell I ended up where I was, late at night, in the middle of a cold, wet, Ontario Lake. Looking down as I did, I saw something rolling in the light wave action a few feet away.  My missing shoe.  Things were looking up.  I was about to yell for help when I heard a sound behind me.  Thinking “motherfucking bear!” I dropped down to a squat, ready to fling myself back into the safety (?!) of the water when I heard the unseen visitor speak.
“eeeoowah trrilp. Trillp flahgd. *Tick*”.
I slammed myself against a nearby tree.  “Motherfucking not-a-bear-something-else!” I thought and held my breath…
Okay. Let me rewind a bit to the week before, before all the fun takes place and I tell you the story as I remember it.  Insert the wavy lines and the “eeeoooeeooowoooeee” sound effects. Okay last phonetic noise word, I promise.
I met Jane at my friend Stan’s house.  Stan is a bit of a freak, he being from Eastern Europe and I do mean east, like he hid behind the iron curtain with his family ignoring the falling of the wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union for ages. They ran a co-operative grocery and book store well past the date most everyone there had adopted the western ways. It was only after his parents died and he was offered a bazillion bucks by McDonalds to sell their property did he become the poster child for bad Euro stereotypes.  He moved to Canada, hooked up with a fellow former die-hard socialist (who started shaving under her arms only last year) Helga (German, of course) and made a bunch more money buying and selling slums to new immigrants looking for real estate investments.  He’s horrible but he adopted me as his Canadian pal a while back.  Not being all that socially adept, I hang around.  I’m honestly not all that into trying to find friends so when people gravitate to me (and they do for some reason) I entered their orbit.
Jane worked for one of Helga’s friends at the seniors’ home.  Instantly she took a liking to me (seriously, I don’t know why) and after an evening of Cards Against Humanity, crappy Polish beer and bad Euro-pop music (including some drunk dancing I am embarrassed to say) we ended up in the spare room.  When I woke, she was gone but my phone now had her number in it and a text message that read “great nite! Stan was right, we are ‘gud 2gether”! I’ll send deets on wedding by wed. xoxo (smiling lips emoticon)”
Stan was up, hungover and loud.  I ate some cereal, helped him cleanup and Helga drove me home in silence till she pulled up to my place. “You be nice to her or I gut you like a fish. We’ll be at the wedding too so you better not bail on her”.
She didn’t even look at me as exited her Camero, sputtering an “of course, thanks, where is this wedding anyways”?
‘Canoe Lake.  We will drive. Dress nice.”
And away she sped.  Stan texted me later to explain that Helga did not in fact agree that Jane and I would be “gud 2gether” and that I was an ass to women.  I disagreed and he did too, we both agreeing that I just have not found the right girl yet and that they are all crazy and that we should NEVER EVER say this to Helga or anyone else in fact because we would be spurned by all women in the future because they all talk and are in fact borderline psychopaths when it comes to men who are not all that “call you back” ish which I am not. (Sorry that should be three sentences at least. You get what I mean right?)
I spent the day recovering, went to the gym, received three clingy texts from Jane and came home to find her sitting on my front step in a pretty sundress, hair glistening in the sun, aviator sunglasses and running shoes. She said “Hi Sailor”, handed me a bouquet of flowers she had hidden in my mailbox, kissed me on the cheek and actually skipped away down the street, turning after a few houses to yell back “just passing by!  See you soon handsome”!
I went inside, checked that all doors were locked, windows locked from inside and called Stan to ask him what he got me into.  He wouldn’t answer and just texted back “just go with it stupid.  H here. Talk later”.
Thankfully the rest of the day went by without incident, as did Monday and Tuesday.  That night I decided to text her to be nice, even though she seemed whacked and because well, I am male and you know. Girls.  She didn’t respond till seven asking “Hey whatcha up to”.
“Watching TV”
“Eat yet?”
“Just some salad and popcorn”
“You need proper food. I’m bringing pizza.”
And within an hour she was with me, happily watching all my stupid shows, eating pizza (she badgered Stan till he told her what I liked on it) and sitting far too close for someone I only met a few days earlier.  Okay, Granted we already slept together and she did type “xoxo” in a text so it shouldn’t be such a surprise but still, you know what I mean right? No? Girls.
Next morning we had breakfast and I dropped her off at her place on my way to work.  She grabbed my hand and wrote the address on my palm and made me promise to meet up that night and bring wine. I drove off smiling.  She was nice enough, a tad weird and clingy but what the hell.  I spent the day slogging through my report reviews and ignoring my phone as it went BING then BUZZ (when I finally turned it to vibrate after my coworker Annie gave me the fourth dirty look over my cubicle wall). At four pm I looked at the array of messages from Jane (semi-creepy clingy but sexy nice girl things only), Stan (“she likes you. Helga is happy”) and Helga (“I am so happy YOU BE NICE TO HER OR I WILL SLIT YOUR THROAT (heart)”). I sped to the gym, then home, picked up Chinese food (smartly checked with Helga) and showed up at Jane’s.
When one hears “minimalist apartment” one might think “less than average furnishings”.  One may also think “muted colours” or “line artwork”. One does not usually think “An apartment where every single stick of the furnishings, few that they are, are either white or black.  The covers of books on the shelf are the only colours brightening up the place and would probably sport white or black covers if she could find them.” Or “An apartment where the occupant wears brilliant coloured clothing in sharp contrast to the rest of the place making her look like cartoon character superimposed into frames of a black and white movie.  It was cool, very cool. Weird but not unexpected.  She said “make yourself at home” which is kind of hard when I half expected an old school Mickey Mouse to show up being chased by Bluto on a train at some point.  She came back, hair wet, showered, in a new dress (she liked her dresses) and we proceeded to eat and discuss the wedding. 
It was “at a lake!”.  It was “at a cottage!”.  It was small(!). Helga would drive us there and back because Helga didn’t sleep in trailers or rental cottages and Stan would be drunk before he arrived most likely, being Stan. It would be “awesome” apparently and she couldn’t wait to show me off. Feeling tired from work and the gym and stupid all-you-can-eat-to-counteract-the-gym buffet Chinese food, I hung out for a while, tried to suggest I go home and let her do whatever and I just ended up in bed with her again. I’m not complaining.  I had been single for almost a year and had just started Googling “health benefits of celibacy” the day before I met her. I was a happy camper and not about to do my usual micro-assessment of the relationship at this point.  She was too hot, just the right height, she didn’t have monstrous hands of feet or a third nipple and I liked her little flirty texts and the general weird stuff.  (I gave her three months tops).
Morning came (not just the morning mind you) and I skedaddled just in time to run in the house, shower, eat some granola and cold French fries, replenish my lunch foods, gym clothes, feed the cat and walk outside to be hit in the face with a wet newspaper.  The little bastard that threw it actually said sorry but as I don’t read let alone subscribe to a newspaper I yelled “asshole” at him, laughed when he crashed his bike into a hedge trying to avoid a dog and began to wonder why the paper was wet on a sunny day like today.
Needless to say, against the will of the print mass media and my new girlfriend/cartoon character, I made it to work.
Friday came (no I won’t make the same joke again) and I did not.  I did however go out and purchase a bit of clothing for the wedding and a flask.  Yes, a flask.  I also purchased some scotch. Yes, Scotch and a flask, like an old timely cowboy or Sherlock Holmsian character.  Why?  Well, because, as much as this may shock you, I don’t really do well in crowds or social events when I am not with people I know.  It’s a kind of, well, a social anxiety thingy.  However, much like an unnamed nerdy character on a popular TV show (popular generally among non-nerdy people) who needs booze to talk to women, I find it is easier to acclimatize to a social setting if there is alcohol involved.  Not wanting my new girlfriend to think I am an alcoholic, it is easier to have a bit in my pocket I can slip into the occasional cup of “soda” than run to the bar over and over.  Go forth young psychologists, analyze me. I dare you. 
I avoided the pleas to hang out that night and spent it playing video games, trying clothes on and preparing for social conversations I would be, as a captive audience, forced to take part in.  Where I worked (“Acme Corporation! We make Anvils!”), how I knew Jane (‘We met last weekend! We boink a lot!”), what my favorite video games, books and movies are (okay this where my conversational planning went sideways). The normal things. I then had a few beer and fell asleep on the couch only to wake up in a panic as the power was out.  Scrambling around, I found my way to the bedroom and finished my fitful sleep, waking at eight in the morning, again, in a panic, because there was a warm body next to me.
When I finally explored the person’s exterior, jumping back when it snorted, a delicate girlish snort mind you, I realized it was Jane and not a dead hooker.  I had of course forgotten to lock the door in my blackout panic and she had driven over and slipped in because she was scared.  We woke, went back to sleep (no I won’t make the joke again) and we came to the conclusion that we needed to get ready.  I grabbed all of my things, clothes, wallet, phone, charger, flask (filled with decent 90 proof single malt Social Lubrication) and shoes.  Grabbing breakfast on the way, we ended up at Jane’s place. I showered, dressed and proceeded to fall asleep watching Netflix while she decided what to wear.  Occasionally I was asked for my (useless) opinion.  I liked everything she threw on, marveled at her ability to change her hairstyle for each outfit so quickly, and began to frantically look at my watch.  Finally, she popped out in a very 1940’s looking floral dress and we headed out to Stan’s.
The drive was uneventful until we reached the point along the highway where Jane said “it’s a road up ahead that we will probably miss as it’s a dirt road with no sign.”  I and Stan remained silent on this point wondering why she wasn’t using at least GPS on her phone, given that we were to be there ten minutes from then. “Oh there it is, turn”!  Helga skidded, drifted like a pro, nearly killed a hippie walking his mangy Irish setter and raising a cloud of dust that landed as I watched upon yet another Birkenstock shod antiperspirant shunner and their twenty or so amateur hobbyist bee hives.  Screaming erupted behind us as we closed the sunroof and windows and cranked the A/C. Note: Nobody should have an apiary twenty yards from a major highway.    Secondary note: Nobody who does not own proper bee farmer gear should operate an apiary. We navigated the twisty, windy, dusty road until finally we reached the cottage. 
I find it funny sometimes that people I know claim to be heading to “the” cottage when in fact it isn’t their cottage, but that of some extended family member. It’s just a pet peeve of mine.  I wouldn’t say that.  I wouldn’t say “I left my wallet in my car” if it was a friend’s car I borrowed, I’d say “the” car. I wouldn’t say “I’m going to go grab my girlfriend’s bum” if it was my friend’s girlfriend.  I also find it odd that people say they have a cottage to get away from things when in fact they are always working on something constructive every weekend they go to their cottage. There is always a long list of projects to be accomplished and they start talking about them in the winter. “Have to do the roof this year” yet they ignore the roof on their actual house.  Also, have you ever been down one of these cottage roads?  Houses in the city aren’t as close as these buildings are.  I honestly think that cottage people aren’t people who want to get away from the city and people for peace and quiet, they are folks who want an entirely different life and social network to escape to. One where you wear shorts, rarely shower, drink all day and when the kids go to bed you can bang each other in a boat.  Okay I think I just sold myself on buying a cottage. Nevermind, ignore the above paragraph.
We arrived and found we were in fact not late at all. Helga and Stand just told us two-thirty as they knew Jane would be late.  Good planning. I will remember that for the next three months till I get a less tardy girlfriend.
We walked from the car to the cottage, she adjusted my clothes three times in fifty feet, I was introduced to the bride (Natalie) and the groom (Ted) and shown where to drop off the gift and where the bar was.  Jane then proceeded to vanish with Helga, leaving me with drunk Stan who then headed to the bar and disappeared to chase a rental peacock along the shore of the lake.  I didn’t know you could rent peacocks.  I like to think there was no peacock as it suits my reality a bit better but since that day I have seen the ads.  I was alone and stood looking around at about fifty strangers in suits and ties in the hot sun. I realized I didn’t bring anything cooler to slip into afterwards but decided it was okay, it would cool down.  At this point I had no idea how wrong I was.
Just as I was on drink two, Jane appeared beside me, dragged me around to meet everyone else, decided we needed a drink (yay Jane!) and commandeered chairs where we could see people but not be central. I was happy(er) and content to continue my secret tippling.
The wedding began, vows exchanged, rings worn, kisses made, photos taken, snacks arrived, an announcement that the actual meal would be in two hours made. Sorry, I will not elaborate on that sentence because I am male and we don’t pay attention to such things. I will note that I met my future next girlfriend for two months and twenty nine days from now.  Stripy dress, blond hair and brown eyes.  I pointed her out to Jane who agreed she would be a good replacement should she be hit by a meteor or abducted by El Salvadorian rebels which was just a ridiculous idea since that war has been over for years but I didn’t point this out as it was getting dark and booze and fireworks and apparently we already ate and now I remember the meal and yeah my flask was empty.
Fireworks were lit, one guys who was also imbibing at my rate set fire to his pants apparently but they were at the side of a lake so all was well apparently.  We moved to a nice romantic dark spot near the water’s edge to watch the show and Jane snuggled up to me.   I was too far gone to be romantic so began to discuss the metals and chemicals used to create the different colours of the fireworks when the finale, five huge charges, were set off at once.
There was a huge flash! Five booms echoing across the lake!  Yelling from other cottages! Laughing from the men of the wedding! A monstrous splash in the lake and running, lots of running, I lost a shoe in the panic, there was tripping, screaming, falling and something about me getting into a boat.
Cough, sputter, snort, “aughkoff, koff, blughhh, koff what the fuck?”
As mentioned before, I’m in the lake. 
 (To Be Continued)

Mister Dee – Chapter Two DRAFT

Frank ignored the phone. He was tired of the constant calls from the “Ufonuts” .  He was a licensed private investigator but truly only used that designation for hunting down clients, they being C and D grade celebrities, primarily former child actors, when they went native.

He pulled into the parking lot across from his office building, a brown, shabby, almost dusty, brick building constructed he assumed by slaves of the Pharaohs  after they completed pyramids and had nothing else to do. It was an odd building. Doors that didn’t open, stairs in stairwells that seemed to be just a little too small, a basement that was surprisingly clean and inviting, completely unlike offices and apartments elsewhere in the structure.

With a deep sigh, he extracted his lunch and briefcase from the trunk of his four-door, old-man car, the one he used for work so his clients didn’t think he was shanking them with fees. Locking it with his remote, he trudged toward the back door and headed up the too-small stairs to the fifth floor, room 512 (another anomaly as there was no room 500-507 nor a 513 yet there was a 514-520). He stopped with another deep sign and looked at the frosted window on the door to “Frank Meteor, Talent Management”. The font was comic sans. Comic sans. Nobody used that but secretaries and middle schoolers. He wanted Times New Roman. Another sigh and he entered the waiting room scanning the chairs to see who he would have to deal with today.

Smiles all around, he noted two complete strangers, a well-known E-grade, washed out comic, a guy he vaguely remembered from that show about the blended family on the space station from Nickelodeon a few years back and surprisingly, Marla Robert’s daughter Jane. She was with the former TV astronaut.

Briefly glancing at his phone, he pretended to open something on its screen and said “I believe you are up first” as he nodded toward Marla’s apparent beau. “Give me five to grab a crappy coffee then meet me in the room over there.” He finished with a smile and walked into his office.

The adjoining door to the receptionist’s room opened immediately and Kelly gave him the usual withering glance as she pointed at the real schedule silently mouthing words his way.

“You know by now I don’t read lips Kelly. Make it work please.”

“I don’t know why I keep working for you.” She flung into the air as she turned and fled to her room, attempting to shut the cheap six panel lightweight door as she did and failing miserably.

Frank walked over, opened it slightly and whispered “because your cats would die of starvation if you quit..” and shut it quietly.

Dropping his things in the far corner of his dark office, he flicked on the lights, hung his jacket and opened the blinds. People liked bright places and he needed to wake up a bit. In the street below, shaved apes milled about, doing their usual Friday morning slog to work, yelling, laughing, driving. His coffee cup was right where he left it and was as usual, unclean. Looking into it, he saw a few drops of residual brown from the day before, shrugged and walked over to the coffee maker to pour himself a cuppa Joe. “Joe” he thought. “Why Joe?”. He mentally set aside some time for Wikipedia later on to research this knowing it would result in a few hours of connected side searching.

Sitting down at his large glass topped desk, he shuffled the papers around to seem less disorganized, put a copy of Variety on the other side facing away from him and pretended to read emails. If Kelly was good for anything it was attempting to organize his meetings, answering the phone in a completely

bitchy way, fabricating his shitty morning coffee and turning on his computer. She pretty much refused to do anything else. He would keep her around.

The silhouette of Marla and “Tom” (was that the twerps name?) appeared on the glass of his door and a brief girlish knock announced their arrival.

“Come in, come in.” he rose from his chair and put on the new client smile.

“Hi Uncle Frank!” Marla said quietly. Frank responded with a finger to his lips as if being her pretend Uncle, the friend of her mother and enemy of her father was a state secret.

Walking around the desk, he shook the nervous hand of “Tom”, Tom, what was his frigging name. He should know. He marathoned his way through that stupid show one afternoon when he was home with some bizarre cold he caught from that singer who drank from his cup when he wasn’t looking. “Nice to meet you in person, please sit down, how do you know Marla and how can I help you?”

Everyone took their place and Marla flipped through the magazine as they began to speak. As suspected, she was just there for moral support.

“Mister Meteor, I’m..”

“Frank, please, just Frank..”

“Yes, of course, thank you..”

“Polite kid” thought Frank. Looks clean too. No track, no black bags under the eyes, no signs of hangover, frig, Scientology?

“I need some help getting back into some work. My agent bailed on me a year ago, I’ve pretty much given up. Marla said you help people out.”

Frank sipped his coffee. Bitter, too much coffee not enough water. The next admin will have worked as a barista AND have a nice bum. “Well, that depends. I’m not a traditional agent, I’m talent management.” He did the air quotes thing. “As in I manage you, like I make sure you get to the set, I find you when you wash up on a sidewalk, I point you in the right direction.” Marla gave him a sad, sad cat look. “..But seeing as you are friends with Marla, I can help you maybe find some work too.”

Marla and Tom (Tim?) exchanged smiles and clasped hands, somewhat secretly, below the edge of the desk as she dropped the magazine back on the table.

Tom (Ted?) looked like he was about to speak but Marla cut in “There is another problem Uncle Frank..”

“Oh? What’s that?” Frank slugged back the rest of his coffee and grabbed a pad of nearby paper and a pen.

Tom shut his mouth and deferred to his girlfriend. “Tom hears voices.”

Oh shit.

“Not all the time and not crazy voices telling him to kill people or start fires or anything. Just this one guy, Mister Dee.”

Frank stood and walked to the coffee pot. He hoped this kid or his parents had a lot of money. Sitting back down, he raised an eyebrow and asked the obvious question. “And what does Mister Dee talk about?”

Tom looked around, looked nervous, looked like he had to pee. “Well, mostly he is talking to himself but lately he is talking to someone else but I can only hear him. He talks about death, dying, vegans and how he really wishes he could try surfing. And the other guy, he’s a groundhog.”

Frank sipped the bitter shitty coffee and wrote the word “Wonderfuckingful”, dropped the pen and stared at Tom.

Mister Dee – Chapter 1 DRAFT

Morning. Another damp, musty earthy dark morning. Chuck the groundhog stirred, sniffed, listened, yawned, stood, well stood on all fours and proceeded to stretch the sleep out of his body. He listened some more, sniffed some more, looked out of his little den and down the long twisty roundish dirt hallway. Nothing to see or hear he headed out into the light of day, pausing only three times to stop, sniff and listen. He reached one of his little earth entrances to the outside world and popped his nose out, sniffed as he squinted his little brown rodent eyes at the bright white of day. All clear, no noises apart from the usual birdy ones, a few moos from distant cattle and a long far sound of a milk truck heading down the road, he fully exited the hole. Food. He needed food. His sleekish furry wet little dirt caked self could wait to be cleaned, he needed nourishment and he knew just where to get it. He headed cautiously toward the farmer’s personal little vegetable garden.

He sauntered in his bumpety chubby little way toward a particularly nice patch of berries he had been planning to devastate for a few weeks. The farmer and his wife had been looking at them, making their stupid little ape noises and smiling a lot with regard to the berries and this particular groundhog, woodchuck, land-beaver to some, had an axe to grind with this farmer. His mate had been killed recently and left as a play thing for the farmer’s dog and Chuck like most groundhogs was not happy. He had spent the better part of the last few weeks digging endless tunnels under a field behind the giant cave thing that the farmer kept his big machine things in. He dug around the farmer’s septic system and machine fuel tanks (both a very smelly experience) and around the exterior of the ape cave in hopes of somehow causing untold damage to these things. So far, nothing of note had happened. No yelling, no hullabaloo, no notice. All that was left he could think of was eating the farmer’s precious damn berries. He stood on his hind legs and looked toward the big stone thing the ape lived in. Seeing no movement, he slunk under the fence (after a short bit of digging) and began to gorge himself.

Far back in the cornfield behind the equipment shed, a small point of brilliant darkness appeared two metres above the ground. It swung to the left and right as if blown by a gust of wind. It settled a few times just above the ground then rose up and resumed its search for The Perfect Spot. Eventually, it found a small roundish hole in the middle of an area riddled with small subterranean tunnels. Inserting itself into the opening, with a small “vuup” it expanded to slightly larger size than the hole, settling itself into the opening, it now a ten inch or so perfectly round ball of oily blackness who’s surface sported a quite pretty swirling oily iridescence. Black on black with tinges of dark indigo and purple.

A single fly buzzed toward the ball. The field was covered with cattle droppings and rank in the morning dew and sunlight but this particular fly ignored all that yumminess and decided that this new thing was appealing. It hovered, swooped, circled, much the same as the orb had done a few minutes earlier. Finally, it landed on the surface of the tasty looking ball. Instantly, it dropped through the ball, into the hole, a dried husk, slightly smouldery. Very dead.

The ball grew in volume approximately that of 0.075% of the volume of the late fly. It made a small “vuup” sound as it did so.
Chuck trundled out of the garden enclosure with predictable caution. He was very full. His fur was not only matted down with dew, mud, a few stray leaves but also some random insects that either lived on him or got caught up in the ever more stickiness of his general being. Now, the front part of him was even more sticky and his normally sleek and clean fur more messy. Berry juice was all over his face, paws and chest. As much as a smallish rodent that lived in a hole in the ground could be disgusted with himself, he was disgusted with himself. Looking left and right and up and down, he sniffed, listened and sniffed some more. He looked toward the ape cave. He looked toward the big cave shed thing that the man put his machines in. Nothing, nobody, just birds and bugs. He headed toward yet another hole he had recently excavated that headed to the wonderful array of tunnels he had constructed behind the machine cave thing. In he popped and he trudged, sticky, gross and dirty, toward the back field where he expected he would have time for a cleaning, a bit of rest in the sun then maybe, perhaps, if it struck him, a bit more digging. It’s what he was best at.
After a few minutes of waddling along, he saw light streaming in from above. He sniffed at the exit hole. Cow. Lots and lots of cow. He wasn’t a particularly big fan of cows they being very large, generally dumb and almost as likely to stomp on him as avoid him. He waited, heard no telltale “moo” or slurpy huffing and decided they must be in the cow cave or another field. His head popped up after he performed the routine sniffing and listening. He saw a single lone cow staring at something in the middle of the field chewing away and thoroughly mesmerized. He exited the tunnel and schlumped around the filthy field, hoping to reach the safety of a nearby feral apple tree before the cow noticed him. He made it about five or six meters before he was able to see what so engrossed the big stupid smelly gassy bovine menace’s attention. It was a ball. A black shiny ball sitting in one of HIS HOLES.
He sniffed.
He looked.
It smelled, odd.
It looked, odd.
The equally perplexed cow slowly began to move toward the ball, sniffing as well and looking as well but of course not as well as Chuck. It moved in and sniffed some more. Chuck for a moment, just a moment, considered yelling out for it to stop, that something smelled awry but reconsidered as frankly, it was just a stupid cow.
It sniffed.
It looked.
It smelled nothing really odd.
It saw something new.
It sizzled and smoked as its very life ebbed out of its collapsing brown husk.
Chuck laughed. Well, not a REAL laugh with “ha ha” or a chortle or anything an ape would recognize as a laugh. It was more of a pleased “grunt grunt grunt” like something a guinea pig would make. He stood up on his hind feet to watch what happened next and noted that the round black thing actually grew in size (approximately 0.075% of the total mass of the stupid cow). He found this very interesting, and being a particularly smart groundhog, would have moved into investigate (cautiously with lots of smelling and looking) however he saw his nemesis appear at the rear of the machine cave with one of those digging things in his hand.
“You. Rodent. Do you have a name.”
Chuck actually jumped at this. A voice INSIDE his head. He ran sideways and backwards and in a circle then ending up a few more meters away he turned back to look (and sniff) hoping it was just the wind.
“Hello. Rodent. Excuse me, do you have a name or are you yet another of these idiotic beasts.”
Chuck looked up and down and left and right and smelled…
“Oh forget it. I was only hoping that since you didn’t run away in fear perhaps you were a bit more evolved than this stinking..”
“Cow” chuck spoke. Well, not with words or sounds that apes would comprehend. More of a short, sharpish, oinky grunt, with slight inflection at the middle and a pronounced “rrwerree” at the end (you would have to have heard it).
“Oh, you are there. Excellent. Hello Cow. You may call me Mister Dee and if you are so inclined, I could use a minion.”
The farmer stopped about thirty meters away from his prize cow’s carcass. He moved his head forward a bit and hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. He bent down and picked up a rock.
“No. That big stupid thing is a cow. I think my name is chuck. At least that’s what that ape over there calls me.”
“Oh, yes, the man. They like to name things.”
A rock hit the cow’s desiccated corpse, creating a small cloud of brown dust and fur to rise up into the morning air. Seconds later, another rock hit the ball with a crack.
“Ouch! What the hades?”
“The ape, man, it threw a stone at you.”
“Why would he do that? Why wouldn’t he just come over and talk to me?”
“Well, they are stupid apes. That’s the kind of thing they do. Here comes another one.”
A third rock, larger, flew through the air in a slow arc eventually connecting with Mister Dee.
“Okay, now I am just getting mad.”
“Here he comes. Watch out, he has his digging stick thing.”
“It’s a shovel. It’s called a shove-el”
“Yeah, they hurt. He killed my mate with one, that one likely.”
“Can you see if it is made of metal?”
“I don’t know what metals is. Can you eat metal?”
“No. You are making me rethink this minion thing you know.”
“I’m a rodent. I live in the ground. What do I know of ape things other than which ones to avoid?”
“Point made. Okay, minion, come over here and speak with the man for me.”
“Um, he can’t understand me. I tried to threaten him when he killed Chuck.”
“I thought you were Chuck? You are messing me up minion.”
“Mate was Chuck too. We are all named Chuck I think.”
“Great. A hippie.”
The man approached Mister Dee, poked the cow with his shovel, swore and muttered under his breath and pulled out his cell phone. He took a few pictures from a variety of angles, emailed them to KUFON and his brother Phillip, put the phone away and noticed the groundhog staring at him from the direct opposite side of the big black oily ball.
“Human, hello, hello you stupid ape moron shit puke cow toucher bad bad stupid.. see, nothing.”
“Gotcha. Hold on. Touch me.”
“Not happening Mister Dee. I saw what you did to that cow.”
“Yeah yeah, perk of being a minion, safety from “The touch”. You are safe”
The man stared at the groundhog, the same one his wife saw in the garden earlier, the same one he was sure was digging tunnels all over his damn yard. He looked at the weird shimmery ball. His phone began to vibrate.
Chuck walked forward and touched the ball with his nose. His head was full of light briefly and he heard a sound like “poing” and could smell cabbage. As quick as it started, he was flung back, alive, not a brown pile of dried up meat, his brain full of words and thoughts and knowings of things that groundhogs, also known as woodCHUCKS and land-beavers (he knew he wasn’t a fucking beaver, stupid damn redneck humans) weren’t supposed to know. He was a RODENT, like a mouse or a skunk (nice damn family) or a weasel or a rabbit, really, a rabbit? Another stupid damn animal. Thoughts, buzzing around in his little head! Stars, Tree names, how to cook salmon!
The man picked up his shovel and reached toward the ball.
“Hey! Chuck! Halloo! Tell ape man to back off. I have a message for all of humanity.”
“That is a woman’s name, a human woman’s name.”
The man jumped back from the ball and from the groundhog that just yelled at him.
“What the sam hill is going on. Jesus H. Christ! Did you just talk?” He tried to grab his still vibrating phone from his pocket. He dropped it twice and collected it from the dusty cow bits as many times before he finally leapt back with it and opened it, yelling to his brother that “yes, its for real, in the back field..” and he better “get over here with some more boys and the half ton..”.
“Oh for the sake of luna. Look, Wilma. Tell the ape to back off and listen.”
“Stupid stink farmer! Killer of my mate! Move away from my lord Mister Dee. Hows that?”
“Well, good, apart from the “How’s That” part.”
The farmer picked up his shovel and started to sneak around the ball, a combination of hatred and fear in his eyes and mind. He held his phone to his head and tried to one handedly club the groundhog that dared speak English to him and not only that, insult him.”
“Begone stink ape from our presence, run back to your mate who also mates with your sibling when you are away from home at night time.” Wilma/Chuck yelled as he ran circles around Mister Dee, the farmer close behind swinging the, metal (“yes it is metal! I know what metal is!”) shovel.
“Oh.” Was all Mister Dee was able to utter before, invariably, the shovel connected with the oily surface and with a “vuup” toppled forward at speed and crashed into a cloud of pieces and dust.
Mister Dee grew. He grew 0.075% of the mass of the farmer.
Wilma/Chuck completed his circuit, lept onto the man’s head and promptly defecated onto it.
“Ha! Stupid filthy ape!”
“Minion. Lets try next time to actually get the message I need relayed, relayed to the apes.
“Absolutely boss.”
Five miles down the road, Phillip headed toward his brothers’ farm with two of his sons in the bed of the truck.

Fifty miles down the road, Frank Meteor former child star, licensed private investigator, began his day, angry before he even reached the office. He hated his job. He hated dealing with C-Grade celebrities, especially his peers, mostly useless former child stars, helping them straighten out their lives, giving parental advice. At this point, a zombie apocalypse or alien invasion would be welcomed. His phone rang. KUFONA