lost time incident 02 – caught in the gears

lost time incident graphic

lost time incident 02

Oh, hello there! I didn’t see you come in! I’m speaking metaphorically of course, because I have been blind since birth. (That’s not true. I only recently lost my sight ((That’s not true either)).) Welcome to this thing, this string of words.

I am sitting in a dark room, illuminated by the glow of a laptop screen, listening to the occasional plaintive cries of one of two cats, the one of two that I like the least, mostly because of the very cries I’m hearing. They may be her primary means of entertainment. Like a jam band, she is, just playing with tones. Which meow gets me food? Which gets me to hear the human’s funny “SHUT UP!” over and over again?

And now she’s decided to sit squarely on my chest so I can’t see the keyboard– and is already bored with that and gone again, before the sentence was even completed. If she were a roommate, we would have a roommate meeting, weapons would be distributed, and a dark secret would be shared by whomever survived what came after.

That came out sounding weird. I just made it sound like the only thing keeping me from killing this cat is that it’s not a human who lives here and pays rent. Ha ha! That’s crazy. And as I told the police, we’ve never had a roommate here.

Anyway, welcome back. Let’s hear more about my teenage plans to pursue sex when I should have been stuffing newspapers in the dark, shall we?

anecdote part 2

When we last left our teenage protagonists– being me and my girlfriend at the time, Chris– we had agreed that it would be a splendid idea if I got up crazy early on a Sunday morning to visit Chris for uninterrupted sexy-times. Chris’s parents were going to spend this very Saturday night at their new place, as the family was moving soon. This provided us with a golden opportunity where Chris would be home alone.

Chris, munching on M&M’s from out of a 1 lb bag, outlined the plan thusly: She would stay up all night, because staying up all night is fun. She would also leave open a sliding glass door for me, so that just in case there was any difficulty with the stay-up-all-night plan and she fell asleep, I could let myself in.

Afterword, I could return home to run my paper route before the average neighbor awoke, as if I were a good young man who was much too busy with responsibilities to place any part of himself in another person’s mouth.

Good plan, good plan. At some point that Saturday night, she left to go home. No doubt she saw off her parents and began promptly staying awake as the plan outlined. Meanwhile, I had a normal evening, and I imagine I had trouble falling asleep. Anticipation.

When the alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m., it was only the siren call of sexual opportunity that prised my bleary eyes open. I slipped downstairs and poked my head outside. No newspapers yet. The delivery person had not yet left the bundled piles of papers for my subscribers. All I had to do was grab the what was left of Chris’s 1 lb bag of M&Ms, forgotten the night before, then hop on my bicycle to wheel my way through dark, abandoned streets. Getting to Chris’ place required biking along some fairly rural-feeling, tree-lined stretches where there were no sidewalks. Given the early hour, there was no traffic, and I could sleepily weave my way across the lanes as I wanted.

It was pleasant, seeing the area slowly light up with the rising sun, the greys and blues that painted the route slowly retreating as the sun came up, returning to their natural colors.

Chris’s family lived– for the moment– in a subdivision with smoothly curving streets, relatively young trees planted at regular intervals, and rows of nearly identical looking homes. It’s the sort of neighborhood that springs up all at once in-between towns. This was in a suburb located roughly 1 hour west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but I imagine you could have set this subdivision in most of the 50 of the United States and it wouldn’t have seemed out of place. There was no real space between the homes, because they weren’t really houses. Her family lived in one of a series of horizontal apartment spaces, essentially, with two bedrooms and a bath.

I let my bike fall on to the grass in front of her place and very softly slid open the glass sliding door that faced the walkway. It was open, as promised, as was the screen door behind it. I walked into the home and directly into the back of a chair that I wasn’t expecting. It wasn’t normally there, but then, it wasn’t normally pitch dark in there either. Chris’s parents were no doubt already shifting furniture toward the door ahead of the pending move.

Straight ahead of me in the dark would be a few bar stools at a breakfast counter that separated the living room area from the thin kitchen. Off to the right were the bedrooms, which is where I headed. Looking down the single hallway on the right, a door on the left was to the bathroom, on the right was Chris’s bedroom, and straight back was her parents’ bedroom. I could hear two sounds:

First, from Chris’s parents’ bedroom, I could hear a TV playing at a rather loud volume, the broadcast throwing a shimmering pattern of light around the otherwise dark apartment.

Second, I could also hear some amazingly loud snoring. Bit of a turn off, to be honest. “My love… snores?” I thought. But this revelation was quickly set aside. There was a plan to stick to. Obviously, even with the TV’s help, she hadn’t managed to stay up all night. So it was time to wake her up.

I followed the snoring sounds to her bedroom and set her bag of M&M’s down by her alarm clock. Then I faced a conundrum. What’s the nicest way to wake someone from a sound sleep without scaring the heck out of them? Sure, she knew I was coming when she was awake, but sleeping-Chris doesn’t know a thing about the plan. I stood at the foot of the bed and gave her foot a little shake.


Stood there a bit longer, couldn’t come up with a better idea, and shook her foot a bit more firmly.

And from the head of the bed, the snoring stopped, and a sleepy, deep, masculine voice said:

“What do you want?”

[to be continued]


moving pictures

I’ve seen a few things that may be of interest. Possibly. I meant to mention it to you. But I wanted to wait until the right time, and the right time is this exact moment as you’re reading these words. I hope you’re ready.

1) Monster Factory – A YouTube series where Griffin and Justin McElroy push the limits of digital anatomy by taking the character creation engines for a number of video games and using them to create characters that would have pushed Dr. Frankenstein to consider switching to podiatry. Avant-garde aesthetics meet good humored monster chuckles in each episode.

2) 17 Minutes of Firewatch gameplay – In this game, which hasn’t come out yet, it looks like you play a man who’s decided to try go get his life together while taking a part time job looking for fires in a remote national park. Armed with a Pixar character’s arms, a walkie talkie, and a frequent check-ins with a charming fellow ranger, the game’s protagonist won me over. The clever dialogue and the natural beauty of the landscape have me keeping an eye out for this game’s release later this year. But you can just watch it like a short film.

3) A Bet With Bill –  First watched this back in 2006, before many of you were born. Features vinegar, sailor stories, a fake moustache.

the lone ra’anger

I’ve been working my way through a book that collects all the Western stories Elmore Leonard wrote in his youth, before he started writing crime books. He’s always written great, tight narratives, but the repeated appearance of Native American antagonists, frequently shirtless, with oily hair, drunken and short on bullets… it gets a bit wearing. They’re not all portrayed in a negative light, and the other characters are all equally filthy, but in a Union-soldier-uniform-caked-in-dust sort of way.

It had me thinking that it would be great to upend the genre tropes by switching to sci-fi. On an alien-occupied Earth, an American (of any background) has been adopted as a “Tonto”-style wise native companion for an alien Lone Ranger-type.

For whatever reason, the alien language is really easy to pick up, but none of the aliens can be bothered to speak English. The “ra’anger” as we’ll call him keeps doing its best to be sympathetic about the problems caused by its conquering fellows, but it can’t help but show its cultural chauvinism.  “It’s humiliating, Stupid Earthling, how my people have colored every crossing in your cities with the yellow on black striped victory flag coloration. Sure, we conquered this world, but that seems … egregious.”

“Those are just crosswalks,” mutters the sidekick. “They’ve always been there.”



When the aliens lie, they make a weird “whuffing” sound, so Stupid Earthling can always tell. It’s so easy it’s actually boring, helping the ra’anger identify alien criminals.

Maybe the aliens use scent more than they use hearing. That’s why the language barrier exists. The ra’anger disguises its identity by dousing itself in cologne raided from men’s departments across the city, adding to the difficulty of working with it. The fact that the Stupid Earthling can see through scent disguises and lies lead the ra’anger to attribute mystic folk powers to him/her. A noble savage who grew up in a normal suburb and is good at faking out the aliens.

ending theme song

Thanks so much for reading, and even going the extra mile and rescuing this email from your spam folder just because I thought it might be funny, here in the closer, to offer you discounted v1@gr@ from the most trustworthy of Canadian online pharmacies. Lowest price ever!

Next installment we’ll see the end of our ongoing teenage anecdote and then the issue after that, we shall see! I have no idea what comes next. This is the natural state of things. We make some assumptions, and many of them work out, but until the future narrows to the tiny footpath we call the present… who knows, who knows.

Be seeing you,

Michael Van Vleet