Thomm Quackenbush, author

03.02.04 12:30 a.m.

A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days.  

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 



Previously in Xenoogy: Xen was underwhelmed with the scholastic aptitude presented him. Emily wanted Her Precious. Despite being one of those groovy hipster types, Zack was not rolling in a bed full of enticing literati women.

Teaching Margaret
I dialed M's number as I walked away from Mount Saint Mary. "My teacher screwed me over," I said before Emily could say hello.
"How?" asked she, also forgoing pleasantries. "Is this the same teacher who keeps accusing you of recording her with Flea?"
"The very same," I assured, "I have to tutor a student in order to pass this literacy class. It is my teacher's job to locate a student at the high school level for me. She decided not to do this, because she has a fetish for the younger children and thus got a glut of them rather than a single high school student for me. Seriously, she was hugging and kissing these grade schoolers that came in today. If I pulled anything like that, I would be facing a lawsuit. Back to my point, she didn't get me a student and now I have to find my own student to teach on my own time with absolutely no guidance."
Emily quietly contemplated this for a moment. "You could tutor Margaret?" she suggested.
"Exactly the solution I came up with," I exclaimed, glad for the independent corroboration.
"I give good ideas," she boasted.
"No, really, I thought of this before calling you," I protested, "You just confirmed that it is a good plan."
"Yup, I am the font of good ideas," she grinned. I could not see her, but I knew exactly the smirk she had on her face. Her voice ached with it.
I called Elizabeth and, before she could tell me that Conor was off gallivanting with Flynn in Fantasia, I told her of my intentions for her daughter.
"Oh, that would be excellent!" Elizabeth enthused, "Margaret will be the first one to admit that she needs help with this. Oh, thank you. That would be just great."
"No thanks needed, she is helping me out."

Awesomepool
Zack invented a game. It is called Awesomepool.
Zack  
Zuul died for your Awesomepool
Melissa, he, and I were enjoying a rousing game of billiards. As there were three of us, there was no equitable way for all of us to be playing at all times. Sure, we could divide the balls into three groups and work at sinking the balls of our enemies, as was done by the Aztecs in the Place of Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit. But that seemed primitive and we could not know if Huiziloposhtli would favor our endeavor. We needed something fresh. We needed Awesomepool, favored by Melizaxxen.
The game is played as follows. One player sits and observes the game. We will call him Zuul. At arbitrary intervals, Zuul will make up a new rule for the two active players. In our particular game, since we lacked hot coals or children to honor Xiuhtecuhutli with sacrifice, Zuul informed Melissa that missing an easy shot would cause her name to be changed to Lunchbox. Anyone calling Lunchbox by any other name would instantly become Lunchbox themselves or possibly have their heart removed. When Lunchbox missed another easy shot, Zuul informed her that she had to do twenty push-ups. Don't think I got off easy. For flubbing a shot, I was dubbed Steady Hands McGee.
Clearly you can see the social and political ramifications of this game. I expect all future world conflicts to be decided by a game of Awesomepool played by Eagle and Jaguar Warriors.

Animated Short
I closed the library up quickly, ushering out the last of the mental patients and their prized bags of refuse. Emily had stopped by the library earlier and, after a flurry of hidden kisses, decided that her time could be better spent with Zack until I closed.
Before leaving, she gave me explicit instructions to meet them at the Chinese buffet immediately after leaving work. I gave her explicit instructions not to have too much fun without me, as the weather was fair and I didn't want fun to have been had without me.
I walked into the buffet, pushing aside the nervous Jewish boy who haunts the doorway asking how many are in each party, and saw them immediately to my left. Emily was grimacing at the crispy fried frog torso two girls at the adjoining tabled were having hop and croak.
"What did you guys do without me?" I inquired.
By way of answer, Zack stood up to get food. Emily picked at her green beans absently. "Zack showed me Madame Brett Park. We sat on the talking bench. It told me about water."
I stuck out my bottom lip petulantly. "I wanted to show you that... Did you two have sex?"
"No, don't be ridiculous." She tried to flick a snow pea at me, but the veggie lacked momentum.
Zack sat down with a plate full of food in time to see the ill-fated snow pea crash.
"So, Emily tells me you two had sex," I mentioned causally.
"What?" asked Zack, thoroughly confused and looking to M for corroboration.
"He's being dumb, ignore him."
This Zack did like a professional.
After convincing Emily that the lo mien had not been tainted by virtue that it was not in proximity to the crispy frog torsos, we ventured to Wal-Mart to procure snacks for our informal Oscar party that night.
In the course of our wandering, Zack mused to Emily, "This being February 29th and all, it would be the perfect time for him to propose to you. Then you'd only have an anniversary once every four years."
She looked up from the beverage she was drinking without paying for and agreed, "It's true, I thought it would be ideal too."
"Of course," he continued, "That means you are going to have to wait another four years for him to propose."
Zack was actually physically pushed away by the power of Emily's evil eye.
I intruded between them to prevent further harm to Zack. "What if I were to get down on my knee and propose right now, M?" I teased.
Emily  
It's ours it is, and we wants it!
She looked me once over and reached into my pockets. "Seeing as I know you do not have My Precious," she hissed, "I can confidently say that I would kill you dead and make you re-propose to me somewhere more appropriate. In that order."
Zack foolishly broke in. "And once you are killed dead, you can't tell me not to have sex with Sarah."
"You can have sex with Sarah now, as long as she is interested. I'm over it," I assured him.
"What changed?"
"She's real again."
The Oscar party was principally noteworthy for proving to Emily that the loft bed can indeed comfortably sit four owing to the immense power of my craftsmanship (and the fact that Emily and Zack forcibly reinforced my craftsmanship). We ate two batches of warm chocolate peanut butter chip cookies and tried to make bets on what movies would win. They all beat me six to four, though only because they would not allow me to bet on Lord of the Rings for every category (whether is qualified for best animated short or not).

Potvaliant
Melissa had picked Zack and me up from our respective houses. Our destination was unknown and that was exactly how we wanted it. Just three crazy kids, out on the down, looking for the fight of our lives. The night stretch before us like a limber prostitute and we didn't have protection.
Then the emptiness of Melissa's stomach demanded that we go to Rolling Rock. As she drove, various Hunter S. Thompson via Johnny Depp quotes arched from her speakers and the Fear and Loathing soundtrack played, so I could still indulge a certain anti-establishment attitude.
The CD predictably brought us to the subject of drugs.
"I think I would become instantly psychologically addicted if I did acid," I stated as we exited the car to enter the establishment.
Zack seemed uncomfortably uncertain. "I don't think you would like it."
"Sure I would. I would happily sit for hours and poke Alice in Wonderland in the forehead. If by poking, I mean with my penis. And by forehead, I mean..."
"No, stop! You aren't allowed to speak for five minutes," Zack proclaimed.
I looked down at my watch, showing half past the hour and nodded my assent. The only when our petite waitress asked for my drink order did my inability to speak become a liability. I bit the side of my lip, unable to figure out how I could accurately convey "Diet Coke with a lemon slice" to the waitress and not seem touched in the head. Finally, I just shrugged and shook my head.
"You know," Melissa began gaily, "I do have my mother's credit card. She didn't notice when I charged a $1800 computer on it..."
Zack  
Jump it off, lush.
"You don't say," I smirked.
"Hey, you aren't allowed to speak!" Zack protested immediately.
"Am too. My time expired while Melissa was talking." Our glitter-eyed waitress had just returned with Melissa and Zack's drinks. "So I will have a large vanilla milkshake and a plate of calamari, please," I requested.
Both Melissa and Zack made it clear that they found my combination of viands distasteful at best.
"I don't know," insisted the waitress, "it sounds pretty good to me."
"See, the waitress backs me and she obviously has good taste." It was unspoken that she had good taste by virtue that she backed my meal choice. However, as she was also coquettish to Zack, I feel this is a fair assumption.
As we ate, Zack drew comics on his placemat. His artistic conceit for the comic he is writing, Mop Critics, is that the viewer should be able to tell that someone is drawing this. Therefore, the characters are drawn on whatever media is at hand (placemats, loose leafs, his dog) with a normal pen.
Next to the registered trademark indicia on the placemat, Zack sketched a pirate saying "Arrr!" He called our waitress over.
"Do you think this is funny?" he asked.
She looked it over carefully. "Yes," she said tentatively, "I think it is." Given her tone, I'm not precisely sure she saw the joke. "What is his name?"
"What do you think his name should be? Whatever you name him will be his name from now on," said Zack.
"One-Eyed Willy," she said with little thought.
Judging from Zack's sputtering and smiles, this was the right answer as most Goonies derived answers are. It also became abundantly clear that Zack was in a bit of smit for our impish waitress.
In total, after a small drinking contest between Melissa and Zack, we had managed to rack up a $100 charge. My calamari and I were thoroughly impressed.
In the midst of the aforementioned drinking contest, Zack decided that he would draw a cartoon version of himself explaining to the cute waitress that he lacked sufficient potvaliance to actually manage to talk to her in any depth, but he would like this chance anyway and ergo was leaving his phone number in a word bubble. It was honestly adorable and you would think as much, save that my camera burped and lost all its pictures.
I immediately wanted to give it to the waitress but he threatened the sanctity of my crotch should I actually do so. Nonetheless, I made a point of turning it over so the waitress could see it whenever he went to the bathroom (and this was in the midst of a drinking contest, remember, so this was not an infrequent occurrence).
At last, he condescended to allow me to give our waitress the placemat only after he was at least ten feet outside the building.
As Melissa paid the tab, I walked up to the waitress. "Hi. My friend - the cute, artistic one - drew this for you." She tentatively accepted and read the cartoon as I finished, "He's the painfully shy type. I'm trying to get him to make a comic of this."
"It's really very good, he should make a comic." She seemed to read it over again, a bit more confidently. She opened her sparkling lashed and continued. "He can be my Rolling Rock friend. But I have a boyfriend."
I shrugged. "That doesn't sound like a bad thing to be."
I walked out and explained that she was otherwise romantically engaged at present.
He looked sadly at Melissa's car for a few seconds. "She goddamned better keep that placemat."
"I bet she'll frame it," assured Melissa.


Soon in Xenology: Brooke. Apartments. Tutoring.

last watched: Dawn of the Dead, Pee Wee's Big Adventure
reading: Transmetropolitan
listening: Tindersticks
wanting: To be done with school so I can actually start learning.
interesting thought: I cannot figure out why Zack lacks female companionship.
moment of zen: Teasing M.
someday I must: Actually get an apartment.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

The Night's Dream Series

We Shadows by Thomm Quackenbush

Danse Macabre by Thomm Quackenbush

Artificial Gods by Thomm Quackenbush