That Fucking Monopoly Game

Just my luck. There was a bank error in my favor. The ATM screen stared back at me through the driver side window. There was no way we had that much money in our account. We had been out to dinner. Then, to the store to get groceries and diapers. And the last minute addition of cigarettes. No wonder she had a fit when I mentioned going through the one short line. We had to go through the longest line in Mississippi. The God damn tobacco line. The “I ain’t got enough money to feed my own kids but I’m sure as hell going to fill my lungs with tar” line.

My wife is here looking over my shoulder from the passenger seat. I know she sees the bank balance. She is gonna go fucking crazy with this money that we don’t really have. Real life is not like that fucking Monopoly game. When the bank fucks up, they take that money back. On their terms and not yours. If you don’t have enough money in your account when they notice, they will put your account in the negative and charge your ass an overdraft fee.

I may guilt her into not spending it before we make it back home, but she’ll be back in town with my bank card just as soon as I get to sleep. Maybe life is like Monopoly. You just keep spending until everybody is fucking bankrupt.

2012 Short Fiction: You’re the Boss

A man was pushed through the doorway; he was hunched and whimpering like a beaten dog. His left eye was swollen shut, and his mangled and protruding lower lip was reddened by a mix of blood and saliva. The smell of stale beer and dried urine followed him into the small office in the back room of the pool hall. He was guided in by a large man who had two big handfuls of the back of his blood-spattered jacket.

The dimly lit room was yellowed from years of cigarette smoke, and the desk was adorned with a large overfull ashtray. The grizzled old man behind the desk stubbed out his last butt and lit another. He still held the match to the end of the cigarette when he spoke.  “Tony, did you do this to him?” His words were a soft growl.

With a puzzled look on his face the large man began sheepishly, “Boss, you…”

“Shut up!” The force of the old man’s words sent a cloud of smoke across the room, and the obscenities that followed shook the room like artillery fire. Yet, the cigarette never moved from the corner of his mouth.

The old man regained his composure and faced the bloodied man. “Johnny, you are family, and I assure you that this was a terrible mix-up.” The blood drained from Tony’s face, and his skin matched the pale yellowed color of the wall like a chameleon trying to hide from a predator.

Johnny was emboldened by the mention of his name and his face became a grotesque caricature as he bared his cracked and bloody teeth in an attempted smile. His shoulders straightened as his lungs filled with air, and his mind swirled as he tried to come up with the perfect words to strike fear into the heart of the man who just beat him senseless.

The old man’s years loansharking had imparted a certain amount of understanding of the impulses of desperate people and he intervened. “Don’t say anything that you are going to regret, Johnny. Tony, here, was just doing what he does to all the deadbeats that refuse to repay their debts. He is a little thick in the head. Had he realized that you were married to my niece, I’m sure he would have treated you with much better care.” The old man flicked the growing ashes off the end of his cigarette into the ashtray and shot a withering glance at Tony. Tony knew that now is a great time to stay quiet and listen. “In fact,” the old man returned the cigarette to the right corner of his mouth and continued. ”I can’t help but feel responsible for this, so I’ll tell you what. I am going to forgive your debt. And to tell you just how sorry he is for what he’s done, Tony is going to give you a little something too.”

“Pull out your cash,” the old man commanded. Tony reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a wad of twenties. “What is that four, five hundred bucks? Johnny, that money is yours.” The old man’s breath caused the long ash to fall from the cigarette in his mouth. The ash crumbled upon impact. The old man slowly wiped at the ash and left a long grey smudge on his sweat-stained shirt. “If you need more money to get your teeth fixed, don’t hesitate to ask. Now, go wash up and go home. And if anybody asks, you tell them you fell down the stairs. I don’t need my niece being upset at me. Understand?”

Johnny nodded as he pocketed the money. “I understand, Mr. Contadino,” he said, and he shuffled out the door toward the restroom at the end of the hall.

“Lock the door and sit down,” the old man said to Tony. The old man’s cigarette now threatened to singe his lips.

“Did I screw up, Boss?”

The old man smashed out the butt and retrieved two more from the pack in his shirt pocket. He handed one to Tony, lit it for him, and then lit the one for himself. “Relax. You did just what I wanted.” He produced a bottle of Scotch and two glasses from the desk drawer. “Remember when I said I was going to teach you how to run this business yourself?”

“Yea, Boss.”

“Well,” the old man drawled, “consider this lesson one…”

If You Want to be Taken Seriously, Compare Yourself to a Fictional Character Targeted Toward an Audience of Children

The song “One Call Away” by Charlie Puth is a derivative copy of all those other sappy love laments sung in a minor key which would be bad enough by itself. But the real problem with this song is that it is catchy, but it is catchy in the way that a  dying platypus imitating someone who can actually sing crossed with a tone deaf two year old anally raping an aardvark would be catchy if someone recorded it and broadcast it over the radio. And, yet, I would have never even taken note of this cookie cutter garbage if the song did not have a very noticeable idiotic phrase in its lyrics.

The song  opens up with and constantly repeats the chorus that contains the line “Superman’s got nothing on me” as if this line has a deep meaning of its own or a contextual clue to the meaning behind the song, but really the line adds little to a song that contains no other references to this or any other fictional pop-culture icon. If the song was comic book nerd love story or if it somehow took place in the same fictional universe in which Superman resides the the use of this fictional figure would not bother me, but since there is no other mention of Superman or a fictional world, I am left wondering what exactly was the point of including this fictional figure in the first place.

The only reason that I can think of for the inclusion is that whoever wrote this song (This song sucks so bad that it was probably put together by a pannel of corporate idiots trying to recreate past musical successes. Therefore, I do not believe that it was actually written by Charlie Puth.) included the mention to Superman did so was because he, she, or they say a similar mention to a fictional character in the movie Training Day when Denzel Washington shouts “[Donkey Kong] ain’t got shit on me” (Of coarse, Denzel actually references King Kong in the movie, but the mention of King Kong is so inexplicable in that movie that I can not bring myself to repeat it whenever I have the need of repeating the line, and for some reason that need comes up a lot. And Donkey Kong just works better for Denzel’s character because at least Donkey Kong was a villain kidnapping women and trying to kill the hero. King Kong was just some displaced giant ape that was trying to get away from the people who kidnapped and mistreated him). But the reason that such a silly line worked for Denzel was the same reason that Charlie’s silly line about Superman does not work for him:  Denzel is an excellent actor and he was able to bring all of his angst and gravitas into the line that even though it is a silly line you can’t help but feel the power behind it, but Charlie Puth does not have the same soulful presence as Denzel and, therefore, his idiotic reference falls flat.

What does it even mean to say, “Superman’s got nothing on me”? Even if Superman were being treated like he existed in the same world as the singer and the girl he is lamenting, the song states that the singer will be there to save the day (Which in the songs case seems to mean that the singer will dick the girl down if her current boyfriend decides to hurt her), but it also states that the singer is only one call away (The song of coarse is referring to a booty call away.) which is in no way better that Superman. But if the singer were actually talking about the same king of saving of the day Superman would do, what could he actually do that Superman could not?

The singer is a phone call away, so he has to have a phone on him to get his girls distress call, and she has to have access to a phone, herself, and the wherewithal to call and ask for help. The singer would have to get her call, drive to wherever it is that she called from, assess what he can and can’t do to save her and when he decides that he is outmatched he has to call the police and wait for them to arrive before the girl is out of harms way. This in no way sounds any better than what Superman could do. Superman has super hearing, super sight, super speed, super strength and an undefeated record (Not even death could keep him down for long.). Superman would hear the girls call of distress without the need of a phone, he would asses the scene with his super sight long before the villains even new he was on the way, and he would have the girl safe before she even finished telling the singer where she was and what was happening. In fact the only thing that the singer seems to have on Superman is shitty lyrics. You can’t beat Superman’s theme: “Here he comes to save the day/ [Superman] in on the way.”

(OK, fine. That is the Mighty Mouse theme song, but even Mighty Mouse kicks the crap out of Charlie Puth.)