Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Intruder

“Steve, I think I hear someone downstairs” my wife said to me as she shook me and woke me up from a deep slumber last Saturday night.

“What… what’s going on?” I murmured still half asleep.

“Shhhh” she said. “I think I hear someone downstairs!”

Now I was wide awake.  It was the middle of the night and there was an intruder in our house.  I wondered why our dog, a 180 lb. St. Bernard, hadn’t woken up and barked.  I quickly remembered though, all the times I had come home from work, walked into the house and not woken him up. “Great watchdog” I thought to myself.

“Should we call the police?” my wife asked.

“Whoa there, hold on.  Let me sneak down there and see what’s going on.”

“Okay, but what if someone’s down there?”

“I’ll be fine.”

I crawled out of bed, adrenaline spiraling through my body, threw on some sweatpants and started heading towards the bedroom door.

“Be careful”, she said as I left the room.  I took a quick glance at the kid’s bedroom doors and both were closed.  I had been hoping it was just one of them awake and downstairs getting a snack or something to drink.  Two closed doors meant both kids were still asleep in their rooms.  I continued to the stairs.

The stairs in our 120 year old house are terribly creaky.  I’ve always thought that would be beneficial someday when the kids got older and were trying to sneak in after a late night with their friends.  But not now!  Not as I was risking my life to find out who was walking around our house in the middle of the night.  I desperately tried to remember which steps made the loudest noise so I could avoid them, but other than the bottom three, which I knew were loose, my mind was drawing a blank.  I gently took each stair, trying to be as silent as possible.

First step… okay.

Second step… okay.

Third step… CREAK!

“Shit,” I whispered under my breath jumping down one more step to try to minimize the noise.  I stood there quietly trying catch my breath and get my heart rate down a little bit.  In the deadly stillness of the night, I heard some rustling noise downstairs that sounded like it was coming from the kitchen. “This is fucking nuts” I thought.  “What the hell are you thinking?”

But something drew me on, so I continued down the creaky steps, one at a time and thankfully, mostly quietly.  Those last few steps could be a problem, but maybe a few loud creaks would scare off the intruder.  I moved quickly… CREAK… CREAK… CREAK… and I was in the dining room, heart beating out of my chest, but still alive, and having not yet come face to face with anyone.

The rustling noise was still coming from the kitchen which was the room next door to where I was standing. I guess my plan hadn’t worked! With my back against the wall, like one of those cops you see in a Hollywood blockbuster movie, patrolling a house full of armed thugs, I peered around the corner.  That’s when I saw him, this intruder that was invading the privacy of our house.  His back was to me and he was working fast and he quickly moved from the kitchen into our den and out of my sight again. 

I stepped back behind the wall to reassess the situation.  My heart was beating uncontrollably and I noticed that my hands were now shaking .  “I’ve seen him before” I thought.  “What the hell is he doing here?”  In just that  brief glance I had recognized his grayish white hair and his clothes.  Well, of course, as usual he wasn’t wearing much clothing… just that crazy paisley style suit vest… and no pants.  That’s what creeped me out the most… no pants.

But as quickly as I could blink my eyes he had vanished into the other room and my journey continued.  I tiptoed quickly through the kitchen to the next entryway where I was able to hide behind the small wall that separates the two rooms.  I stealthily peered around the wall once again and there he was, back still towards me, but moving fast… so incredibly fast… doing his business rapidly so he could get to the next house, to the next job.

For a moment I just watched in stunned amazement, afraid to startle him, afraid to interrupt him. Finally I couldn’t help myself.   “Pssst” I said, trying to gently announce my presence.  He didn’t hear me.  “Pssst” I said again, a little louder.  This time he whipped around rapidly, surprised at being seen, his wild eyes big and round, his huge teeth hanging out of his mouth, his long ears now clearly visible.

“Oh, it’s just you” he said with a relieved tone. “For a second I thought it might be a kid.”

“No, I checked and their still sound asleep” I reassured him. “But what the hell are you doing here?” I scolded.  “You scared the shit out of me.  My kids don’t believe in you anymore. I thought someone had broken into the house.”

He smiled a big grin that showed his teeth even more and tossed me a chocolate egg, wrapped up in a gold foil wrapper.  I could see a little orange residue caught in between his teeth as if he had been eating carrots or something.  “Eat this and go back to bed” he said as the egg flew across the room towards me.  “Lots of kids say they don’t believe anymore.  Most of ‘em still want to believe but there’s just too much peer pressure from their friends.  I’m not ready to give up on your’s just yet!”

“Yeah, I guess that makes sense” I replied.  “Here, put this in one of the kid’s baskets, I don’t need it. I ate a bunch of chocolate before I turned in tonight.”  I tossed the egg back to him.  “Guess I better get back to bed.”

“See you next year, maybe?” I asked as I started to turn around to head back upstairs.

“We’ll see, that’s a long way off, let me get through this year first.”

“Yeah, okay… alright good night” I said and I walked back through the kitchen towards the creaky stairs.  For a brief second I wondered if I was sleep walking and I stopped and glanced back.  No, I was definitely awake, but our guest was gone, the dog was asleep on the floor gently snoring, and the rest of the house seemed deathly quiet.  I grabbed a glass of water and poured it down my parched throat as I pondered this late night encounter.

A few moments later, up the stairs I went, back into the bedroom.  My wife was asleep as if nothing had happened, but as I climbed into bed, the jostling of the mattress woke her up.

“You okay?” she mumbled, her now half asleep.

“Yeah, I’m fine” I said.  “I just needed a glass of water… I haven’t been sleeping real well tonight.  Must be all that chocolate I ate.”

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Mommy, Mommy, What Do You Do?

Okay, here by popular demand (or more likely un-popular demand) is the Sequel to “Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?”  I’m not quite sure it lives up to its predecessor but you people were putting a lot of pressure on me and I felt like I had to churn something out.  It was like when my agent calls and says “Steve would you get that fucking book done!”  Oh wait, I don’t have an agent.  Anyway, it is what it is… but I have to say, it’s tough to write from the Mother’s perspective… seriously!

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Teacher.  I teach children reading and writing and mathematics.  You can be a Teacher too and help kids grow up to be successful, responsible adults.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Nurse.  I help take care of people who are sick or who have to spend time in the hospital.  I administer medications and check patient’s blood pressure and assist with other medical procedures.  You can be a Nurse too and help people who aren’t feeling well.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Corporate Executive.  I work in an office and manage a department full of under-achieving low-life’s who probably aren’t really skilled enough to even be employed at a McDonald’s.  Most of my time I spend sitting in drudgerous meetings with other Corporate Executives discussing things we can do so we don’t lose our jobs. You can be a Corporate Executive too and get paid less than your male colleagues because you don’t have a penis.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Construction Worker.  I help build roads and bridges and buildings. Construction work is very hard and very physical and I work mostly with a bunch of pig-headed men who think they are sexy, but are really just sexist morons. You can be a Construction Worker too and work very hard and develop debilitating back and leg problems.  Then you can be on disability.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Financial Advisor.  I help people manage and invest the money they earn. Mostly I take calls from people whose entire retirement savings vanished when the U.S. financial system collapsed.  Then I help them invest the piddly amount of money they are earning from the job they had to take at the local Wal-Mart. You can be a Financial Advisor too and watch people’s money disappear and maybe even start a Ponzi scheme.  Then you can go to prison.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Day Care Center Worker.  I take care of people’s children during the day so they can work to pay off all of the debt they have accrued on their 4000 square foot house and their new BMW and their flat-screen TV’s. Sometimes I’m called a pre-school teacher, but mostly I just chase bratty kids around and change shitty diapers and wipe snotty noses.  You can be a Day Care Center Worker too and take care of children whose parents are too self-absorbed to take care of them on their own.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a School Cafeteria Cook. I prepare and serve food at the elementary school. The kids at school call me “the Lunch Lady” and they complain about the food that we serve.  I call them disrespectful thugs and hooligans whose parents are trailer trash and who should be glad they are getting tax-payer subsidized food from the public schools. You can be a School Cafeteria Cook too and wear a nice hair-net. Then you can be laid-off because of state budget cuts.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Clerk at the Dollar Store.  I have to stock and sell crap merchandise that is all imported from China and other third world countries.  Sometimes I get to run the cash register.  I have to work at the Dollar Store because there are no decent jobs left in the United States since we don’t manufacture anything anymore.  You can be a Clerk at the Dollar Store too and get paid minimum wage and partake in the precipitous decline of the United States economy.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is an Administrative Assistant. That’s just a big word for Secretary. I work in an office and answer phones and type memos and complete other office work for a man who mostly just sits on his worthless ass and drinks coffee and orders people around. You can be an Administrative Assistant too and wear sexy boob shirts and tight skirts and someday maybe your boss will have sex with you.  Then you can get a nice promotion and have a corner office with windows.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Flight Attendant. I work on an airplane and take care of the passengers that are flying someplace.  I get to say the same safety speech several times each day to passengers that don’t give a rat’s ass and aren’t even listening.  I have high level training in flight safety and first aid and medical procedures, but most people just think of me as the lady that serves them drinks.  You can be a Flight Attendant too and travel all over to crap cities that no one really wants to visit and sleep in nasty airport hotels.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Writer.  I write romance novels which are like love stories but with lots of trashy sex and infidelity.  I make truck-loads of money because lots of woman purchase and read my books so they can temporarily forget how crappy their own marriage is and that their husbands are overweight, beer swilling losers.  You can be a Writer too and write romance novels and then sometimes you can write about Vampires and Werewolves that like to have sex with regular people.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Waitress.  I serve food and drinks at a restaurant to people who come in for lunch or dinner.  Mommy didn’t have to work until Daddy left me for some floozie bitch that he met at work.  You can be a Waitress too and get paid less than minimum wage and have to rely on tips to make a decent living, even though most people are too fucking cheap to even leave 15%.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is an Architect. I draw designs for buildings and houses that people want to build.  I went to college for a long time and spent an obscene amount of money so that I could learn to design incredible, awe-inspiring sky-scrapers. Now I get to work 80 hours a week designing strip malls and shitty, low-end cookie-cutter housing developments that are built on land that used to be beautiful farms.  You can be an Architect too and never see your family again.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Librarian.  I help people check out books and look up information that they need.  I spend most of my time monitoring unattended children and homeless street people who come inside to get warm and drink the free coffee. I also get to throw out patrons that use our computers to look at porn. You can be a Librarian too and pretty soon the internet will make your job obsolete.  Then you can be a street person and walk around looking for a place to get free coffee.

Mommy, Mommy, what do you do?

Mommy is a Stay-At-Home-Mom.  I stay home during the day and take care of you even though I’d rather be at work earning a living and interacting with adults.  Sometimes I spend all day doing laundry and wondering how our family could have so much fucking clothing. Other days I spend picking up toys that you have left all over the floor.  You can be a Stay-At-Home-Mom too and work harder than anyone else in the whole wide world.

See, there’s lot of exciting things you can do to earn a living when you grow up.

THE END

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Daddy, Daddy, What Do You Do?

As you know I’ve been talking a lot recently about writing a kids book, so I came up with the idea to write about children asking about their Fathers careers, using a format similar to the “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?” classic children’s book.  I thought it might be inspirational for kids to read about the things fathers do to earn a living.  Let me know what you think. The concept would go something like this:

Page 1:  Daddy, Daddy, what do you do? (turn page)

Page 2:  Daddy is a…………. You can be a……………. too!

Page 3:  Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?   Etc.

I’m looking for a talented illustrator for this project… I think it could be a hit!

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is an Astronaut.  I fly into space.  You can be an Astronaut too if you study hard and do well in school.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Firefighter.  I fight fires and help people who’s houses are burning or who are injured in an accident.  You can be a Firefighter too and save people’s lives.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Doctor.  I help people who are sick get better.  You can be a Doctor too and spend most of your time dealing with insurance company regulations and other government bullshit.  Then you’ll only have time to see your patients for about two minutes each visit.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Police Officer.  I help protect the public from people who want to do bad things, like drug dealers and rapists and murderers.  You can be a Police Officer too and get paid a shit salary even though you have to deal with crazy, armed, meth-soaked criminals and dirty crack-whores.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Politician.  I take people’s tax money and spend it on drugs and hookers.  When I am not doing that I try to pass legislation that fucks over the little people.  You can be a Politician too and make a difference by sucking the life out of your community.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Corporate Manager.  I sit in a cubicle all day and drink coffee and pretend to be productive.  You can be a Corporate Manager too if you just go to college.  Even if you party too much and smoke a lot of weed and your grades suck you can still get a high-level corporate job like your old man.  Any stupid-ass kid like you can get through college these days.  Then you just have to be able to kiss-ass a lot and sit through lots of meetings with other douchebags.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Line Worker.  I help assemble parts for my company and I do the same repetitive thing over and over thousands of times each day.  You can be a Line Worker too and have a hellish monotony of a life.  But you get to take lots of union breaks and sometimes you can even go to work falling down drunk. No one will care because the union has your back.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you?

Daddy is a Retail Store Manager.  I have to stock and sell merchandise and work all of the time, including the weekends.  I also have to manage a bunch of low-life employees that don’t show up to work and I have to deal with customers that are mostly just assholes.  You can be a Retail Store Manager too and get paid minimum wage if you just have no motivation to do anything better with your life.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Salesperson.  I travel around and try to sell widgets to companies that don’t really need them.  Mostly I just hand out free promotional crap to self-serving, prick customers that want nothing other than to beat me down on price.  You can be a Salesperson too and live in flea-bag hotels all the time and someday maybe even bring bed-bugs home.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Professional Athlete.  I play a game and they pay me more money than you’ll ever see in your crap life.  Because I have so much money I can have crazy, random sex with women other than your Mom and get lots of DUI’s and no one really cares.  You can be a Professional Athlete too, just start shooting steroids into your ass right away.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Realtor.  That means people pay me to help them sell their house for much less than they paid for it. Then they have to go live in a homeless shelter.  You can be a Realtor too and then you will have to go live in a homeless shelter because the economy and the housing market has been in the shit-can for almost ten years and it isn’t coming back anytime soon.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is a Writer.  I write books.  A couple of my books were published a few years back but immediately ended up in the remainder sale at Barnes & Noble at 90% off.  Mostly Daddy just writes books that no one wants to publish or read.  You can be a Writer too if you go to college and get a worthless degree in literature.  Then you can also be a Bartender and serve drinks all night in a smoke-filled bar to alcoholics.  If you’re lucky you might even be able to afford to pay your rent.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is an Accountant.  I help people pay their taxes.  I also help people hide their money from the IRS because the U.S. tax system is so incredibly fucked up.   You can be an Accountant too and mind-numbingly type on an adding machine all day and help people with audits until you want to kill yourself from sheer boredom.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is an Attorney.  I specialize in personal injury law. Sometimes people call me an Ambulance Chaser.  That’s why I have a big picture of my face on the back of the phone book, and all those ads on the TV during the day, when all the injured people are at home waiting for their disability checks. You can be an Attorney too, you just have to go to any law school, even if it’s one in Nicaragua.

Daddy, Daddy, what do you do?

Daddy is unemployed because the corporation I worked for over the last 30 years laid me off and threw me out in the street two years ago.  That’s why Daddy drinks too much and sits home watching internet-porn while Mommy has to work at Wal-Mart in the middle of the night.

See, there’s lot of exciting things you can do to earn a living when you grow up.  Then you can retire and live in a nursing home.

THE END

Want to Read the Mommy version?  Click here!

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The ABC’s of Publishing a Children’s Book

A is for Agents who I’m sending my query.
B is for Books which may soon disappeary.
C is for Children’s, a cut-throat division.
D is for waiting to hear their Decision.
E is for E-mailing queries like mad.
F is for Failing to proofread, so sad!
G is for Great, all the stories I’ve written.
H is for Hoping the agent is smitten.
I is for Indigestion I get from declines.
J is for Juggling submission guidelines.
K is for Keeping my eyes on success.
L is for Losing my mind from the stress.
M is for Money I hope they will pay.
N is for No which I hear everyday.
O is for Overworked, its taking its toll.
P is for Published, the ultimate goal.
Q is for Quitting and giving up writing
R is for Rhyming books, always exciting
S is for Seuss, everybody would read him.
T is for Tired of trying to beat him.
U is for Unpublished and feeling out of balance.
V is for Vastly overestimating my talents.
W is for Writing with all my finesse.
X is for eXpecting to always impress.
Y is for Yes, when someone finally replies.
Z is for ZZZZZZZZZZZZ I can rest my tired eyes!

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