Thursday, August 16, 2012


Chapter 19: Hire slowly, if at all
[Go to beginning]

“Look, Karl, we can’t hold off on hiring forever.”

“Charles, November isn’t forever. Can’t you hire, but delay putting new employees on the books?” Karl Rove knew that Charles Koch was a savvy businessman. There was no question in his mind that Koch could make Koch Industries employment records look like the great depression was still going on. Something else was on Koch’s mind.

“You’re asking me to cook the books, Karl?” Koch was having fun. He liked to hear Rove, the little weasel, whine and whimper.

“No, no. Please don’t put it like that, Charles. That sounds like fraud. I’m--”

Koch interrupted. “But Karl, isn’t that exactly what it is? You want the jobs picture to look worse than it is in order to hurt Obama’s chance of reelection.”

Rove ignored Koch’s barb and finished his sentence. “...simply asking you to delay a little longer, a month or two, until the die is cast, if you will.” Rove sighed. “You and David are running a one hundred billion dollar company. How hard can it be to slow down the bookkeeping on recording new hires?”

“It’s a big risk, Karl,” Koch said.

Here it comes, thought Rove.

“We could be audited. I don’t know. I’d want some sort of assurances.”

“What kind of assurances,” Rove said.

“Well, suppose Obama wins the election, God forbid, then what?”

“Jesus, Charles, we don’t even want to consider that,” Rove said.

“I have to consider it, Karl. As distasteful as the prospect is. So what I’m asking is, what is the Party going to do for Koch industries should such a disaster befall the country?”
Finally, the old bastard gets to the point, Rove thought. “You know the Party has always supported business, Charles. That’s not going to change, even with a Democratic president. I mean, look what we did to Obama up to now. He can’t get anything done.”

“Karl...,” Koch let the name hang there, “I want specifics. I want a pledge that a Republican Congress isn’t going to let these damned environmentalists pass more onerous regulations, I want additional offshore leases opened up, including off California, I want that goddamned pipeline built. Are you hearing me?” Koch was getting angry just thinking about all the government intrusions he imagined would occur in a second Obama term. He took out a monogrammed handkerchief and wiped his brow.

“I hear you, Charles. Of course. There’s no way we’re going to--”

Koch had taken a breath and now interrupted Rove again. “And for god’s sake let’s put this global warming bullshit to rest once and for all, Karl!”

“Well...,” Rove said. His sense was that Republicans were getting leery of being seen on the wrong side of the global warming debate when much of the Republican constituency, from Texas to Mississippi was suffering the worst drought since the dust bowl.
Kansas Corn, 2012
“Well, nothing,” Koch said, pouring water from a pitcher on his desk into a glass filled with melting ice. “Do you know how much money David and I have poured into the Heartland Institute? Do you?”

“I imagine it’s a lot,” said Rove. He knew that reports showed that the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups that some had called, “The Merchants of Doubt.”

“You’re goddamned right, it’s a lot. Look Karl, I want you and that dimwit Priebus to get out here and sit down with David and I. I want this face-to-face, you understand?”

Rove opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Koch was rattling on.

“We’re going to start with a statement of principles, and then lay out what we want item by item. And once we’re agreed, I want McConnell and Boehner to sign on the dotted line. This needs to happen ASAP. I’ll have Kevin call you.”

“Kevin?” Rove said.

“Kevin Gentry, he’s one of the more articulate free-market types and we need his thinking on this.”

“Fine, fine, Charles, but getting back to the reason for my call--”

“Yeah, yeah, Karl. We can keep holding back on full-scale hiring and we’ll make sure that putting new hires on the books takes place with glacial speed. That satisfy you?”

“You bet. Thanks , Charles, I really--.” Rove stared at his cell phone. A lighted panel said, “Call Ended.”
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I got this here scar in the middle of my forehead or maybe a little to the right just above the eyebrow and running long side my head right here to the sideburn what I got now, but didn’t have then. Lucky not to lose the eye, I suppose. It don’t look too bad now, or I don’t think it does, but you ought to have seen it when that shovel hit me and laid open my forehead and the skin flap hanging down over the eye, blood ever where, and me hollering bloody hell, “Momma, momma!”

My daddy were a mean drunk and either he were drunk all the time or he were just mean, drunk or sober. What I done to earn that shovel cross my head was sneak a mason jar of hooch outta his hidey hole and damned if he didn’t come up on me fore I had that lid off and me looking at him like he were a freight train bearing down on me and me staring in his fiery eyes like they was high beams and wham!

I survived that run in with daddy but daddy didn’t. My ma grabbed holt o me and hauled me in the house and wrapped my head with a dish rag or somethin and then grabbed the 12-gauge and while daddy were leaning over trying to save some of that there hooch running out the jar, mamma filled his butt with two loads of #4 shot. I think she did it as much fer what he done to my sister as fer hitting me. Anyways the second load I guess tore off his private parts and daddy laid out there in the yard and bled out. I’ll never ferget the moaning went on all night and I was doing some moaning of my own but like I said, I survived.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Some Remodels Go On Forever

Some people swore that the house was haunted. I hoped so. It should be. I’d buried two wives and an increasingly demanding girlfriend in the basement, and seeded several other wives, girlfriends, and acquaintances throughout the place. They were probably haunting each other in the old bay-and-gable row house in what had been a working class neighborhood of Baltimore, but was now what the city fathers euphemistically termed a "blighted area."

I walked down a sidewalk showing signs of severe earthquake damage lugging my parcel, glancing up at a darkening sky. My breath came in strangled gasps as I finally reached the wreak of a house. I pledged for the umpteenth time to make the gym a regular destination. 

I paused at the steps, staring at the grey shamble of a porch. The front screen door swung wildly in the wind, banging and screeching like my dearly departed girlfriend, Sonora, as I held her down and deepened the part in her jet black hair. What a temper she had. The first two wives were angels compared to her, and they were no angels.

I hated having to come back to this dump, but I received yet another notice from the city that I was in violation of code, something to do with unsightly, unsanitary, unsafe, and probably just damned unappealing conditions. Mostly, it was the smell; probably a cracked sewer pipe, a city inspector suggested. I argued that the whole area was about to be bulldozed and converted to "open space,"another euphemism for no more affordable housing, but my pleading fell on deaf ears. Not wanting to break any laws, I’d come to remedy the unfortunate smell emanating from the premises.

I let the 50-pound bag of lye slide off my shoulder onto the porch and walked into the house. The wind whipping across the door made a scream not unlike that wrenched from Marley, my first wife, when I pushed the kitchen knife up under her ribcage. So many women. So much blood.

Marley, Denara, my second wife, and Sonora, were just three of the ten (or was it eleven?) women I’d terminally reprimanded (yes, eleven). I stood in the foyer and surveyed the empty spaces around me; living room (a misnomer in this house), dining room (I chewed off two of Sonora’s fingers in there; served her right for shoving her hand in my face as I choked her), and back through there, the kitchen, where the knives had been kept.

I headed for the stairs. I wanted to check the upstairs bedrooms and play a little game with myself. There was a dead rat on the landing. “That’s what you get for nibbling on Nora,” I said to the desiccated creature. I glanced to my left, towards the master bedroom. Is that where Nora is? I wondered. I went into each bedroom and tried to remember which former woman friend was where. I should have brought a pen and note pad.

Walking through each bedroom I was dismayed to see what age and neglect had done to the remodeling I’d spent so much time on in each room; replacing drywall, baseboards, paint, wall paper. Don’t let anyone tell you that hiding bodies in walls is easy. For one thing, there’s only sixteen inches between wall studs and some of my “projects” were, shall we say, Rubenesque in stature. The purchase of a Craftsman 10” Table Saw allowed me to artfully place body parts in the wall spaces without degrading load-bearing beams.

My game of hide and seek was, I’m afraid, a bit of a dud. I couldn’t remember who was where. It had just been so long ago. Only the gals in the basement were, shall we say, “fresh,” and this was the source of the problem I’d come out to fix.

I went back down stairs shaking my head. How quickly we forget the good times. I opened the door under the stairs, only to be repelled bodily by a brawny aroma that was physical in its intensity. I wondered about my ability to go down those steep stairs to the basement and dig up Marley, Denara, and Sonora, and sprinkle them with the lye I’d left on the porch. Why the hell hadn’t I thought to do this in the first place? They all used too much perfume, but surely I’d had no thought that this affectation would tied them over into putrefaction.

I went back to the porch to retrieve the bag of lye. Two small boys were on the porch. The larger of the two was methodically kicking the bag. A fine dusting of white powder decorated his scuffed Air Jordans and was spreading across the porch.

“Hey, what the hell are you doing!” I said.

“Dat meth?” the boy said, looking at me with a mixture of curiosity and cunning.

To be continued (but how?)

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Vengeful Djinn

The air
thick with heat
The sky
a sickly yellow-brown
Coagulate black clouds
laced with lightening
pressed down upon a ravaged land
Rolling thunder punctuated
the constant roar of cyclonic winds
and rain and hail battered what little was left standing
The black clouds now melded with the horizon
rose ponderously to reveal a gigantic funnel cloud
seeded with the remnants of what was once a civilization
The storm howled over the devastation like the voice of the vengeful Djinn