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Copyright: Fred Robel, and Fritz365 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Fred Robel and Fritz365 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Little Shoppe of Typeset

Old typewriter keys tumbled from my fingers
Like Scrooge McDuck letting gold coins fall back into his vault hoard
Making random words on the way down
Or at least the illusion of such
If an image could be snatched from every angle at every synchronous second


That's a big question
One that I'd be happy to make up an answer to
Just like millions of charlatans before me
But I just don't have it in me anymore
As you should know


That one is easier for sure
Because the where is right here
Amidst this hoarder's wet dream of typewriter parts
All stowed in military surplus bins and Folgers coffee cans
And not the coffee cans that are foisted upon us these days either
But proper metal ones in both blue and black
With added patina scratched into them
Garnished with just he right amount of rust and coffee smell


As much as I wish it could be someone else
It really has to be me who sifts through all this mess
With enough on hand to repair one hundred Royal Silent Specials
And several crates of factory new body shells for Remington Rocket Typesets
Some roller rubber sleeves and cotton cloth bags of molded feet
Along with restoration decals for brands I'd never heard of
In materials so old they turned to gold and white dust at the touch of my fingertip
I cannot escape the fact that this should have been you doing this
Just like your father before you and his father before him
Which was exactly why we had such a multi-generational pile of things here
Bowing the shelves and buckling the walls with their weight


And that is the question of the day now isn't it?
What to do with this glorious cornucopia of outdated office technology
In this age of Retina smart screens and voice to text artificial intelligence
For in this city of dreams that never should have been dreamt to begin with
The gutters still needed to be cleaned when those dreams failed
Lovers needed each other
And jealousy needed its green like the emperor needed new clothes
Under these broken lights I'll hang up my hat and fix typewriters for awhile
The work table seems to be the right height
The chair looks just the right amount of broken in for me
Perhaps even the customers will come
If I only turn on the OPEN neon sign for a spell

I wasn't a very good private dick anyways
The noir always got to me in the end

Middle Aged Mus Musculus of Mars (A Tale of Earth 52.5)

Eight long whiskers split evenly side to side
With the second to the bottom one on the observed left being a hair shorter than the rest
Centered by a pert pink nose with tiny nostrils that flared in rhythm to life's steady beat
Topped by two beautiful evenly spaced black shining eyes
All just barely visible over a small mound of rust colored soil in the furthest corner of the decagon shape walled town center

All the human activity was reflected in those twin intense black orbs
As twin crystal balls capturing the present for consideration
One man shouts something
Causing a twitch to the left whiskers
And an involuntary flinch of the eyes
Though they still observed unblinkingly

In this virtually predator-free environment
This particular mouse was practically royalty
Being of the five hundred and sixty first generation spawned from the first seven grey mice to stow away in a crate of supplies just over one hundred years ago
Surviving that seven month trip in storage locker 15F of the rotating habituation ring

If he had been human
There would have been no doubt much consternation as to how many generations exactly counted towards his personal total
And for the purposes of discussion we will say that the generational count began when the crate of flour and sugar was placed upon the high orbit transport at the Ecuadorian slingshot facility
(This of course all taking place before the Enrichment Facility Disaster of 2575 which rendered most of that country uninhabitable)

Upon landing and unloading at the first permanent colony of Homesport just West of Arcadia
Those several hundred initial mouse pioneers made their way onto a brave new world right along with the humans
Whose efforts to eradicate the mouse colony during the flight had served only to maintain a slight holding action at best
As told by the only modest increase in their population numbers in-transit

In all of this particular mouse's one hundred and twenty days
He hadn't seen activity such as this however
With sixty-two of the humans gathered within the town center
Surrounded by the ten sided walls of brown stuccoed black rock that was all too typical of post-Martian town infrastructure across the planet

The one human upon the raised platform directly opposite of the mouse observation point was making much louder mouth noises than the rest of them
Who were all facing him in a semi-circle
And clustered closely and comfortably in that mouse's opinion

Just as the small creature was considering losing interest in this decidedly non-food event
One more human entered the enclosed area just to the left of his corner
Drawing the whisker-nose-eye assemblage to bear upon this new intruder
Who was wearing a much bulkier set of outer covering over his body than any of the other humans in attendance

Screaming the loudest this mouse has ever heard
The new human blurted out a short burst of sound which meant not a thing to the mouse
But sounded like this:

Almost at the same time the hundreds of nerves at the base of all six vibrasse tingled in exactly what fans of a certain vintage comic book hero would call "Spidey Sense"
Causing the mouse to demonstrate one of the unusual facets of their existence upon Mars
And the source of much consternation amongst the human scientists

The fact that the mice of Mars did not suffer the same reduction in strength versus their Earth counterparts that the humans did

Pushing off as hard as he could from the firm mound of dirt he had been resting upon
The small quadrupedal body shot backwards into the only crack in the walls of the town center walls
With a speed that would have astounded his home world ancestors
Immediately whereupon the same mound of dirt was blown backwards as well
Stuffing the crack in the wall with its mass almost all the way to the back reaches of the void
Leaving our small observing protagonist face to dirt and rump to stone
With only six millimeters of breathing room

A small drop of blood formed upon the mouse's left earlobe
Leaking from the ruptured ear drum on that side
Finding gravity at last to fall from the still quivering pointed furry head
To the dry red hard ground
Beading like water upon a waxed surface momentarily
Before finding fissures upon the surface and being drunk eagerly by the suddenly vampiric planet

Leaving our mouse friend to gather his wits and escape somewhat unsteadily down the mouse size passage that would lead him back outside the walls
Adapting quickly already to only having one inner ear to steady himself
And thinking of a small bakery he knew of that usually had bits of bread under the cutting table to eat

Forgetting already of whatever that was that had frightened and injured him only minutes ago
Moving forward and living in the moment
In a now virtually human-free town

That Kid's Got a Future!

You are magical
Now don't let it get away
Think deep monkey thoughts
Dream big every single day

Put on your pants one leg at a time
Or throw them in the air
And jump right inside
Either way is just mighty fine

Your compass is calibrated
Your fuel tanks topped off
There's no telling how far you'll go
With legs so strong and mentality so tough

Wherever you do end up
Remember you can always come home
Though home might not be exactly where you left it
Not being necessarily a point on a map that wouldn't ever roam

Home is a safe place
And out there is not necessarily so
But with your head held on tight
We all think that you'll do all right

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Boatman of Mars (A Tale of Earth 52.5)

Greenhouse complex 7B dominated the near horizon
Panes of locally made crystal glass angled just about right upon its roof to reflect a harsh glare into my eyes at this time of day
Causing the black jagged edges of the Hellas Montes range in the distance beyond it to stand out starkly

My eyes hurt now from gazing off into the light
So I dropped them to the water to follow the movement of my pole
As it pushed the small canal barge along in a steady rhythm powered mostly by yet another strange system left behind by the Martians when they disappeared long ago

The twelve foot pole which was made of a queer blonde colored semi-metallic material that was about fifty millimeters in diameter with micro ridges cast into the surface right where my hands naturally fell upon it

The pole fit perfectly into a system of holes spaced along the bottom of the three meter deep canal
Roughly conical in shape
They pulled upon the pole at first
Helping to guide it into the hole
Then when the pole was firm upon the bottom and at an approximate 30 degree angle
A force that humans were yet to explain acted upon the pole
Forcing it slowly up to a vertical position
And continuing to the opposite 30 degree angle before the hole released the pole
Both ejecting the pole end and guiding it to the next hole with invisible hands

It was an elegant, if slow, system of movement for a more civilized bygone age
Allowing boatmen like myself to use the force of the poles to push boats along the canals
By simply hanging onto the poles with our feet planted firmly to the decks
Usually braced by small blocks for leverage when loaded with cargo bound for the various villages and towns along the canal systems

If you needed something shipped on the cheap
I was your man
Though for speed, albeit with an accompanying proportional expense
There were self propelled boats of more recent manufacture to provide it

I didn't much approve of those newer boats
Or the other things we were doing with increasing frequency to change this stark alien landscape to better suit us
And to look more like what everyone thought of as home
Though 'home' was more Mars than Earth at this point for most of the people here now

With the first generation settlers growing fewer with each passing year
And the second and third generations taking over the day to day running of the colonies
This was where most of us were born and bred now

I felt we didn't need to be beholden to any notion of what it ought to look like
Unless we came up with it ourselves

Phobos broke the horizon to the West
Rising quickly under my watchful eyes
To the tune of the steady small water sounds of the pole
And the hull gently splooshing the water aside from the stubby prow

Eyes turned skyward again my  mind wandered with them
Out past captured asteroid moon Phobos
To about where I knew Deimos made its much slower way around the planet

Ever since the Houston-Shklovsky discovery of the 20th century
That the smaller moon was an artificial satellite of Mars
(and for a short time the same was suspected of Phobos)
Mankind just couldn't wait to get here to investigate it
Even more than the abandoned canals and cities
Deimos had captured our imagination the most
And it had provided the greatest rewards as well

First with robotic eyes
Then peered at through the helmets of pressure suits
The small moon that could really only be called a spaceship
Had revealed her secrets slowly
And advancing our knowledge of propulsion and design theory every step of the way

I'd visited there as a child
On school field trip
And looking back I can still feel the jaded boredom I'd felt at the time
Trapped inside my barely adolescent body I'd not appreciated what I was seeing
Because after all everyone knows where our current tech came from
It is ancient history now
Especially to a twelve year old boy who knew already that his lot in this life was to grip a boat pole on the canals

But now I yearn for those days
When there were more possibilities
When I actually cared to know where to find the Earth in the sky

At that thought I tried to seek it out again
Looking in the quadrant of sky I figured it to be in
Until I found it
Shining like a beacon ever so brightly

A little too brightly perhaps
With more of a pulse to the light than I remembered

Just then the comm box in the wheelhouse rattled what it thought was an alert
But was really just a hollow buzzing noise
Since I'd long ago removed the guts to the alert mechanism out of sheer annoyance

"Vid relay!"
I called out
And the head sized screen just inside the doorway swiveled to face me
Where upon its face a loop of text was doing a slow march across the screen

~Emergency Notice: Report to your town center for dissemination of information~

This was repeated over and over with no elaboration
Which meant one of two things I figured
Either it was nothing important and the local governments just wanted to puff out their chests to make people show up
Or it was something really big and they wanted us contained in the walled town centers before they told us

I'm half a day away from the nearest town
So whatever it is can wait I suppose

Sploosh - stir stir - Sploosh
The old canal boat made a steady speed upon the water
Bordered by the half meter short walls that lined every canal on the planet
Cut from black stone into blocks
The twin black lines disappeared into the horizon like old train tracks from the picture books
Just as they had before people had come here
Just like they would long after we were gone

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Student Driver

You drive me batty when you're driving me
The way you hug that center line
Intimidating cars come right at us
Making their eyes go wide every single time

I think I'd rather walk
That's what I always swear I'll say
But then you give me those big eyes
Those big lonely eyes
And I give into what you want
Because that's what I always do

You're supposed to be man's best friend
But teaching you to drive
Was probably the worst thing I could do

So with one paw on the wheel
And the other resting on the sideview mirror
Your head stuck out the window like a train engineer
Lips pulled back by the wind
And your tongue flipped back by your ear

I should never have gotten a dog a learning permit

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lies In The Middle Age

He sidled up to the bar with a wifebeater shirt on
Next to a pretty woman ten years your junior
Keeping his middle aged arms flexed for show
And to minimize the underskin sag

He bought her a drink or three
While I watched the band and drank my one

During a lull in the music I heard one of his lines
As it found a quirk in the acoustics path to my ears
While touching his upper left arm
I heard him say
"Got that when a smuggler's bullet grazed me
While we were on patrol in the Gulf of Mexico"
Her pink pony painted fingernails came up almost reverently 
As her fingertip traced the small oval scar with a slightly raised center

My own right hand mimiced what she was doing
As I slid my finger up the left sleeve of my t-shirt
Tracing the small oval scar with the slightly raised center
That I'd had since the early 1970's

The smallpox vaccination gun leaves a very distinct mark on most people

I chuckled to myself and had another sip of my now British warm draft budweiser swill
Telling myself I should at least order a Guinness if I'm going to let it go all room temperature like this
But I can already feel the headache coming on
That even one beer can give me these days
So I stand and throw on my coat
Making my slow way through the crowded bar to the door
Passing right by my truth bending Casanova acquaintance

I feel my arm tugged just as I'm almost free of the area
"Fritz, Fritz!" he says with a half in the bag smile of way too friendly
Tell Amanda here about the monster truck I have in my back pole barn!"
With a wink, he expects me to back him up on this nightly poon tang quest

With a sigh, I do what I interperet to by my duty
"Oh yeah!" I exclaim with a mock admiring look towards him
"The fucking thing is massive! He's got harvester tires on the bastard
That he totes stole them from the farmer down the road over a gambling debt
And blackmailed the local mechanic into building up an awesome engine for it!
I heard it can go from zero to man-gasm in about five seconds
Hell, that truck is a monster every bit as impressive as his cock
(or so I hear)!"

He hadn't hardly listened to me
And she was still trying to process what I'd said properly
So with a gleeful fistbump to my faux buddy
I crashed for the door muttering
"What a douchebag"
To myself

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jesus Junkyard Land

The signs proclaim how to reach heavenly bliss
Quotes from the Bible writ big and hard to miss
Painted in a shaky paranoid hand
Upon wood stuck deep into Jesus Junkyard Land

The grounds are guarded by Holy Rottweillers
With small dagger crosses hanging from black spiked collars
They patrol in lock step pairs wearing robotic eyes
And mark off the territory by pissing holy water

A giant crucifix made out of old Chevrolet suspension bits
Standing ten feet tall and proud in front of the old house
Was hung with two giant eyes made of giant brake discs
A banner fluttering across the top bar declared 
"Beware Sinner! Jesus Sees ALL!" 

Old cars lay higglety pigglety all about
With seemingly no order to their madness
Not until seen from space does it all become clear
With scrap vehicles forming an Alpha in the front, and Omega in the back

I tried to get a picture to prove the place was real
And not made up whole cloth at the bar after two pints of beer
But as soon as I stopped my car out front and readied my camera
A militia man wearing rags burst from his peeled paint farmhouse
Waving one arm up over his flying long hair and beard
The other one holding an AK-47 leveled right at my head
I didn't stick around to hear his warning or sermon
Leaving twin trails of rubber trying to stay ahead of any hail of lead

Now I only have my words to show I was there
And spread the word that the end is truly near