CALIXIAN // Ranting Up the Wazoo

I am in a crappy mood. That’s why I’ve decided to kill Darwin this very day. Somehow. And quirkily.

I’m wandering around in the shed when I stumble upon a dusty, old megaphone. This could be exactly what I need! “Darwin, baby, come here! I have something for you.” I can barely contain my glee.

Darwin’s tumbled head pops in at the door. He’s looking at me with curiosity. It’s definitely one of his best traits. He’s as curious as a kitten. I crook my finger at him, beckoning him closer. Darwin enters the shed.

I take my time. I want to savor the pleasure. I smear half a bottle of grease over Darwin’s mop then meticulously comb it back. Then I pick the nastiest tie I can find from a dingy, old wardrobe in the corner of the shed. Yes, the orange tie with the big blue hot-dogs. That should do it.

Darwin twists and turns before the mirror on the wardrobe door, giggling. He obviously thinks it’s a funny role-playing game. Perhaps he’s now imagining that I’ll put on a nurse’s costume, or dress like Harley Quinn, or like a big violet papulose lobster. Frankly, I neither know nor care what this pervert daydreams about.

I take another look at him. Darwin is smiling like a brewer’s horse. He’s shining like a spit-and-polished samovar. I don’t recall him ever being this happy, and certainly not since that time he won ten measly greens in bingo. I feel something approaching a light pang of conscience, but I shake it off. I have to finish this game.

I need a finishing touch. I survey the shed interior before noticing a shabby leather suitcase in another corner. Perfect! Feeling like real Pygmalion, I thrust it into Darwin’s hand and take a step back to admire my handiwork for a moment. It’s unbelievable but Darwin looks even worse than he usually does. Is that even possible? It seems that, yes, it is.

Darwin shoots me a questioning look, waiting for whatever’s next. I push a megaphone into his arms, give him a wink in return, then abruptly push him outside. I slam the door. Right before his nose. Take that!

Darwin knocks insistently, begging to be let in, but not for too long. Curiosity killed the cat, I suppose. I know that a protest movement on the next street over will soon catch his attention. And I know that he always jumps at the chance to rant about his favorite topics, especially now that he has the megaphone and some sympathetic listeners around.

There’s a knock at the door.

Darwin’s tumbled head pops into my bedroom. I barely have time to minimize my window.

“Calix, dinner’s ready. Come and get it!”

“Sure.”

By the time I’m leaving the bedroom, the Sim Darwin is standing on the suitcase, shouting frothily into the megaphone. “Death is supposed to be the last, great refuge for troubled minds!” he squawks. “From ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and into the big black!” His face is flushed. The tie hung loose. Darwin is as cute and convincing as Lenin on the armored car in 1917.

Meanwhile, the Grim Reaper stands just around a nearby corner, wry faced and skittishly rubbing a scythe. He doesn’t like anyone ranting about death too much, you know.

I step into the kitchen and give Darwin the biggest smile I can muster.

“What do we have for dinner?”

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2018

Testing, Part #2 (Fragment #015)

It was like talking to a brick wall. I elevated my voice slightly.

“Hey, four-eyes!”

Yuck. Not only is he blind, he’s deaf too… I was considering poking him with a ruler when I heard a semi-cough right above me. Again.

Any questions, young lady?”

“No, Sir.”

Question 2a: Define a metrical foot used in the following poem.

He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pair of boots—but the worst of it was,
He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to “Hi!” or to any loud cry,
Such as “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!”
To “What-you-may-call-um!” or “What-was-his-name!”
But especially “Thing-um-a-jig!”

1) Trochee
2) Iamb
3) Anapaest
4) Dactyl

Question 3a: What isn’t a forme fixe?

1) Qasida
2) Glosa
3) Sequence
4) Tanaga

I looked around helplessly. No help was within reach. Well… if plan A doesn’t work out then I have to use plan B. So, I gave a shit about that, and began to select answers at random.

The blank space below question 1a was very much in evidence, and my inner perfectionist demanded satisfaction. I knew it was better not to argue as this thought would be like a pebble in my shoe—it would hinder and annoy. I wrote something like, “Prompt at five o’clock, I busted a snaplock, and walked around town in a candy-striped nightgown.”

Then I hesitated over where an adverb of time should be placed in an English sentence. Damn. At the start? At the end? Without philosophizing, I repeated the first line at the end. If need be, I could say that I was nervous and forgot to cross out the wrong line.

With a feeling of satisfaction at a job well done, I turned in my paper and left the amphitheater. I felt a roaring hunger.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

CALIXIAN // Scarlet Stiletto

The bus jerks. Someone’s hand grabs the handrail right before my nose. No doubt it’s the Hand of Fizzuck Providence. It wields five huge scarlet stilettos, one of which is girdled with an ugly cruciate Swarovski that seems to be pointed at me. It’s as though I’m to blame for the cardinal sin. The sin of neglecting the nail care industry.

I quickly hide my hands under a copy of our magazine and assume a look of innocence. To be on the safe side, I silently begin to list every nail shape I can possibly think of. (Lucky for me, I had prepared an article on this very topic just last week. We’re reaching the deadline and, as always, have had major headaches with the magazine’s contents.) Square. Squoval. Almond. Coffin. Stiletto… please, let this nail pass from me.

It feels like the Hand of Fizzuck Providence is moving higher. I tightly close my eyes and try to recall every trendy shade that has been recommended for this season. Strawberry Margarita. Cajun Shrimp. Purple Palazzo Pants. Damn! What freak invents these poofy names?

Cautiously, I open one eye and peep. The Hand of Fizzuck Providence… is it hanging over me like the sword of Damocles? I think so. I imagine it piercing my top and going right through my body down to my anus. And then I’m twitching, pinned to the bus seat by a huge scarlet nail. Like a victim of the Almighty Bug Hunter. The other passengers are nodding in approval, and the most zealous of them take selfies in front of me. And now I’m squinting with a mixture of fear and disgust. Ugh! I shake my head in the desperate hope that this horrifying vision will soon vanish from my mind.

The bus jerks one more time. Then stops. Then moves again. When I finally have the guts to open my eyes, I see that the handrail is empty. What a relief! A narrow escape! I let out a sigh. I then open my diary with every intention of scheduling a manicure… Oh, no! Holy cuticles! I absolutely forgot that in about half an hour I have a meeting with a local farmer who has grown a gargantuan carrot!

I spring out of the bus at the next stop, and run the rest of my way to the office like a scalded cat. There’s only the note ‘Visit a mani…’ on my diary page, but I’m pretty sure I won’t soon forget what I meant.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2018

THE ABCs OF A PECULIAR LIFE // O is for Obduracy & Orgasmic Oranges

The Soviet Astronaut had been mooning around the Moon since the late 70s. He’d been launched into outer space as part of a secret Soviet crewed lunar program with the express purpose of stealing the star-spangled banner from the Moon’s surface.

This Soviet crewed lunar program was so secret that the Soviet Government issued a special decree banning anyone involved from keeping any documentation of its aims and research results. Everyone who knew of the mission did what they were told and forgot everything immediately upon the Soviet Astronaut’s departure from Earth. Including the Soviet Astronaut himself. Back then, Soviet citizens were very responsible, making sure to execute Government decrees to a meticulous tee. Those were the days!

This is why when the Soviet Astronaut contacted a dispatcher at the launch control center (in order to familiarize himself with the details of his mission), the dispatcher was completely flummoxed. But, of course, the dispatcher was very experienced and up to the task. He told the Soviet Astronaut to continue his mission, to control the situation in outer space, and to report any suspicious objects that he might encounter. After this, the dispatcher disconnected from the server and the Soviet Astronaut was on his own.

One unspecified day, everything was going as planned. The Soviet Astronaut woke up, brushed his teeth, did his morning exercises, and then took position near a side-viewing window. He was keeping abreast of the situation, making copious notes in a flight log book. To be honest, it wasn’t very interesting. Nothing had changed outside the window for the last few months. The Moon, the stars and a withered space mosquito that had gotten stuck to the glass upon the vessel’s launch.

Sheer boredom drove the Soviet Astronaut to half watch a TV series on one of the vessel’s many small monitors. The space radio antenna had picked up the signal somewhere over the ocean. Ironically, it was a science fiction show about extraterrestrial beings, a time traveler, and his space adventures. Though the Soviet Astronaut didn’t understand a word, the show itself was pretty amusing. He especially liked the time machine that was masked as a blue British police box.

Everything had been going well when suddenly something bumped the vessel’s tail. The unexpected loudness of the sound made the Soviet Astronaut somersault in the air, but when he reached an operating panel everything looked as always did. He calmed himself down and was soon back to the show, engrossed and unaware that the vessel’s trajectory had changed by half a degree.

The next morning started as it always did. The Soviet Astronaut woke up, brushed his teeth, did his morning exercises and… what the deuce?! He almost bumped his brow on the window looking left, right, up and even a bit down.

The Moon was absent.

He tightly closed his eyes, then opened them and looked at the window again. The position of the stars appeared to be normal, and the withered space mosquito was present too, but the Moon was absent. It was completely gone. The Soviet Astronaut thought a bit and pinched himself, but this didn’t help. Alas, he wasn’t still asleep and it wasn’t just a bad dream.

There was background noise on the monitor—more evidence that the vessel appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. The Soviet Astronaut had a sudden flutter of fear. There could be no doubt. He was utterly lost in outer space.

No one knows how long the Soviet Astronaut sat there gazing out the window. It might have been an hour. It might have been a day. Or even a week. Who knows? He just sat there in a torpor. A blank stare. This is why when a strange fuss began outside the window the Soviet Astronaut didn’t immediately react.

However, after a little while the Soviet Astronaut woke from his stupor, and that’s when he saw it. He goggled out the window with great amazement. Two large oranges were floating outside interacting in a pretty strange way. Surely, this could be very important knowledge for Soviet science. The Soviet Astronaut grabbed the flight log book and started to make notes in a fever. Again, everyone was very responsible back then—even those who were lost somewhere along the way to hell.

The oranges were drifting away from one another, then drawing close, rubbing each other and sprinkling the window with essential oils. They were rocking and trembling, gasping and moaning All of this made the Soviet Astronaut a little bit suspicious. He stopped making his notes, lost in thought.

(I think I need to make some explanations here. The thing is, the word ‘sex’ was absent from the lexicon of the citizens of the USSR, so they were unfamiliar with the process that this word describes. Nuts, but true. Poor, poor Soviet Astronaut! I wouldn’t want to have been in his shoes at that moment.)

So, the oranges were continuing to do what they did, and the Soviet Astronaut was sitting there with a thoughtful expression, the flight log book in his hands. Suddenly, a speaker box somewhere began to bark.

“Earth to the Soviet Astronaut, do you copy, over? Do you… come in… over…”

The Soviet Astronaut jumped in surprise, making another somersault in the air.

“Earth! Earth! It’s the Soviet Astronaut! I read you, over!”

“Where are you? The vessel has disappeared from our radars!”

“I don’t know. Perhaps the vessel has changed its route?”

At that very moment, the oranges outside the window started to shake uncontrollably and groan. Then the glass was covered with a mixture of orange juice and peel. Suddenly, something bumped the window and a hush fell over everything. If the Soviet Astronaut had looked at the operating panel at that moment, he would have noticed that the vessel’s route had indeed changed half a degree, but for obvious reasons his attention was focused on other things.

“Earth to the Soviet Astronaut, do you copy, over? Don’t panic! The Soviet Government never leaves its citizens to their own devices. We will get back to you shortly to give a status report.”

The speaker box went silent. Suddenly, the Soviet Astronaut felt extremely tired. He recalled the wise words of his late grandma. She’d always said, “Tomorrow is another day. Go beddy-byes under any strange situation, sweetums. Just sleep.” The Soviet Astronaut decided to yield to this wise advice. He retired to his cuddy.

When the Soviet Astronaut woke up next morning and looked out the window, the Moon was there. And the stars. And the withered space mosquito. Even the science fiction TV show was playing on the same small monitor. Everything had a cozy and familiar look. The Soviet Astronaut heaved a sigh of relief and took up his flight log book.

He was pretty surprised when he reread his jerky notes from the prior day. Outrageous oranges in outer space? No way! This never happens! The Soviet Astronaut thought a little bit. It had obviously been a bad dream. Maybe he’d bumped his head on the glass a little too hard. He reread the notes again. It was doubtful that these notes would be of Soviet science interest. So… he made a decision.

He tore several pages out of the flight log book and shoved them under his bed. Then a moment later he pulled them out, balled them up, and popped them in his mouth and swallowed—just to get them out of harm’s way. After this, the Soviet Astronaut was back to his TV show, and there wasn’t a happier person in the whole Universe.

P.S. By the way, somewhere at the beginning of 2010, American scientists made a statement that one of the moon flags was missing. It’s a well-known fact, not merely my fancy. But this is a completely different story. Turn your beams to me and stay tuned, dear readers.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017