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Members' Choice Nothing like peer recognition! Nominate and vote on the work of fellow members.


Members' Choice Voting #1: June - Sept

View Poll Results: Please Pick Your Favorite!
The Whiskey Brothers - Reddy Dean 1 8.33%
What the Mirror Sees - Gaines 2 16.67%
34 Unread Messages - Non Serviam 3 25.00%
Formalities - Neil 3 25.00%
The Boy Who Played Chequers - J. Newman 3 25.00%
Little Jam Jars - Circe 0 0%
Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 08-31-2010, 11:22 AM
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Default Members' Choice Voting #1: June - Sept


Time for voting on the Members' Choice Nominations! Please vote for the piece you feel deserves recognition in WBQ as our Members' Choice Winner! And since there are more than what can fit into one poll, we have a second Members' Choice thread for you to browse through as well.

Voting will end at midnight EDT on September 23rd.

Good luck, and thank you again for your nominations!

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Old 08-31-2010, 11:24 AM
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Default The Whiskey Brothers by Reddy Dean

The Whiskey Brothers


11… 1980

Jack Daniels sat in the middle of the table, and the boys stood around him.

“I ain’t taking the first drink.”

Nathan wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to do the honors, though. Both Jacob and Ricky stood with their hands in their jeans pockets as well. Taking the bottle of whiskey from Jacob’s father’s cabinet had seemed rebellious enough, but it appeared that was the extent of their plans.

“Well someone has to!” Jacob yelled. “Don’t tell me I stole it for nothin!”

You take the first drink, then!” Nathan yelled back.

“Why should I? I’m the one who took it!”

“He’s your father, not mine!”

“So?”

“God, just shut up!” Ricky screamed, his voice easily overpowering his friends’. Though he was the shortest of the young trio, Ricky Grainger stood the tallest that day. “I’ll do it.” He reached for the bottle and brought it eye-level, as if to examine the liquid itself.

“It’s not poison, you know,” Jacob said.

Ricky’s eyes narrowed and he crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Oh yeah, smartalic? Look, do you want me to do it or not?” Jacob nodded, as did Nathan. “Then leave me alone. I’ll… just gimme a few seconds, okay?”

Again he put the bottle to his face to examine the whiskey, though this was difficult because of the dark brown glass of the bottle. Finally he twisted off the cap and tossed it onto the table of their newly discovered cabin. He glanced at Jacob and Nathan, took a deep breath, and tipped the bottle. A few seconds later, whatever had entered his mouth was now splattered on the wooden floor.

“Ah, man, that’s nasty! Tastes like pee!”

Jacob and Nathan roared with obnoxious laughter as Ricky wiggled his tongue in and out of his mouth to get rid of the bitter taste.

“How… how do you know what pee tastes like?” Jacob said, holding his left side from the pain of laughter.

“Shut up! Here, your turn now!”

Jacob Townshend’s laughter immediately ceased as the bottle of whiskey was extended towards him. He looked at Ricky hesitantly and bit his bottom lip as he tried to think of a way to stall the inevitable. Finally, after an impatient Ricky shook the bottle in his face, Jacob grabbed it and examined the liquid like Ricky had done.

“Not so funny now, is it?” Ricky asked, still trying desperately to rid his mouth of the disgusting aftertaste. “It’s gross, but we all swore to take a drink.” He paused for a moment, and then added, “And I thought you said whiskey tastes good?”

“That’s what my dad always says,” Jacob answered, his mind half-focusing on Ricky’s question and half-focusing on the tiny bottle of whiskey. However, his eyes were one-hundred percent focused on the bottle, its black label glaring back at him with intimidation. “Maybe there are different types?”

Ricky shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe. I don’t know. My dad doesn’t drink whiskey. What about yours, Nathan?”

“Nope, he don’t drink whiskey. Just beer, and I ain’t even sure what that tastes like.”

“Well… beer has types, I know that for sure. So I guess it makes sense for whiskey to have types as well.” Ricky stood leaning against the wall, waiting for Jacob to take his turn. When it was clear that his friend was stalling, Ricky said, “Hey, Jacob, take your drink so Nathan can have his.” When he received no response, Ricky said, much louder and waving a hand in his friend’s face, “Jacob?”

Jacob, startled enough that he almost dropped the bottle, shook his head as he realized he’d been standing there daydreaming. “Oh… yeah, sorry. Sorry.”

“Come on! Drink!”

“Okay, okay! Why are you rushing me?”

“My dad gets home from work soon, that’s why! I wasn’t even supposed to leave the house today because of my grades! I’m grounded, remember?”

Jacob checked his watch and his eyes lit up. “My dad gets home soon too, and he always takes a drink from this bottle when he gets home,” he said, holding the bottle up to the light the shined in through the window. The bottle was probably a little over two-thirds full. “And when the Reds are playing, too.”

“Same here,” Nathan added. “Beer, I mean. Not whiskey.” The Cincinnati Reds were very popular in Jenson, Indiana, which was about an hour away from the Queen City.

“Well you better hurry, then,” Ricky said, “It’ll take us twenty minutes at least to get back.”

“Okay… yeah… you’re right.” Jacob brought the tip of the bottle to his mouth, tasted both whiskey and the remnants of spit on his lips, and took a quick drink.

And then the same thing happened all over again.

Jacob sat the bottle on the table and did something similar to what Ricky had done, wiggling his tongue every which way to rid himself of the nasty, bitter taste. This time it was his turn to get laughed at as Ricky and Nathan howled like crazed hyenas. Ricky fell into one of the few chairs of the cabin, holding not one side from laughter but two. And when he snorted by accident that only made things even funnier, especially to Nathan, who was now on the verge of collapsing to the floor.

As he searched his pockets for candy to help with the aftertaste, Jacob frowned at his two friends. “Go on, Nathan,” he said, grabbing the bottle and extending it towards Nathan. “Your turn now.”

Much like Ricky and Jacob had done, Nathan’s laughter stopped on a dime once he realized it was his turn to take a drink. It was fun laughing at other people’s expense, but when it came time to toll the bell one’s self it was vastly different. Not funny at all.

“Okay, fine,” he said, taking the bottle.

Jacob and Ricky waited anxiously for it all to happen again. They were waiting for the wooden floor to get a little wetter than it already was. However, unlike what the other two had done, he didn’t examine the whiskey. Instead, Nathan Turner tipped the bottle back and took a drink… no, a gulp… and swished it in his mouth. Basically examining the whiskey as Jacob and Ricky had done, but with his sense of taste rather than his eyes.

And then, for the third time, the floor was splattered with spit and whiskey.

“Eww! That is nasty!”

“Told you!” Ricky said as he and Jacob laughed.

“Why do people drink this stuff? It’s gross!”

Ricky picked up the bottle and stared at it. “I dunno. Maybe because when people get old enough they think they’re supposed to drink? I dunno, but I think we should keep doing this every year. Make it a sort of… a own personal holiday or something?”

“What? Why?” Nathan asked. “It’s nasty, Ricky! Why would you wanna keep doin it?”

Ricky shrugged and sat the bottle back on the table. “It just makes me feel older, I guess. Makes me feel…mature? I dunno. What do you think, Jacob?”

“Our own holiday sounds fun. We could call it Whiskey Day. I don’t think my dad would notice if we did it just once a year.”

“Yeah, Whiskey Day! I like that! Come on, Nathan! Please? It’s just one time a year!”

Nathan looked at the bottle of whiskey, wearing his nerves on his sleeves. “What if we get addicted to it?” he asked.

“I don’t think you can get addicted to alcohol,” Jacob said. “It ain’t like smoking. My dad can control his drinking, but he smokes all the time.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, man.”

“See?” Ricky said. “Come on, Nathan! It’ll be fun! Our secret holiday in our secret cabin!”

“Well…” Nathan paused and looked back at the bottle of whiskey for a very long time. When he looked back at Ricky he was smiling like the innocent, unaware eleven-year old kid he was. “Fine, I’ll do it.”
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  #3  
Old 08-31-2010, 11:25 AM
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Default What the Mirror Sees by Gaines

A single drop of silver rain slides down the granite face.
It etches deep the weathered stone, weighted in its place.
Torrents of the passing years have shaped its very soul,
each line a mark upon the heart, a story left untold.
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  #4  
Old 08-31-2010, 11:26 AM
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Default 34 Unread Messages by Non Serviam

Members Only

Hi, Beth, you have 34 unread messages.
__________________________________________

NEWS ― Justice ― Today, 09:14

Today HH Judge Campbell delivered his long-anticipated ruling in Ellis v. Regina. The ruling largely favours the plaintiff. Ms Ellis, who will now be able to proceed with her planned marriage to her alsatian, is believed to have sold a contract to the Enquirer for publication rights to her as-yet-unwritten memoirs for an undisclosed sum. Details

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 09:16

Hi babes, havnt heard from u 4 ages. Miss u. Sorry its over. Ever think it could b worth another try? ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 09:17

Reply this time plz ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

NEWS ― Justice ― Today, 09:35

The Advertisement Controls (Amendment) Act becomes law today. It is now illegal to send unsolicited advertising mails except in plain text format comprising no more than 50 words. In a statement, a spokesman for United Corporate Communications described this law as "a blow for freedom of speech" and said the penalties are "unnecessarily draconian". Details

__________________________________________

ADVERTISEMENT ― Today, 09:44

Are you being troubled by illegal advertisements? Why not contact SpamLawyers4U to see how much you could claim? Details

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 10:01

Y wont u reply 2 me? ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 10:12

Lets just tlak 2gether 1 more time. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 10:14

I no u luv me rly ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

BUSINESS CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 10:58

Dear Ms Delancourt

I have now had the opportunity to review the documentation and evidence that you provided, and I am afraid I do not think a court would grant a No Contact Order against Mr Keene. Precedent suggests that, because of your relationship with him included sexual intimacy, it is not unreasonable for him to attempt to contact you even after the said relationship is over.

However, you may be able to pursue a Secondary Harrassment Order against him. I can investigate this possibility if you wish, in which case my fees will be in accordance with the scale previously provided.

In the meantime I enclose my account for your kind attention.

Yours sincerely

H. Peregrine
Lawyer, Grade 7

Attachment Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 11:31

Lets kiss & make up. Or out! ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 11:39

U no what id like 2 do? Id like to

ExplicitContentFilter has detected that this mail may contain material of a sexual nature. 334 words of suspected sexual material have been blocked. If you would like to read this material, click here

and mayb then u could do that thing u do with ur tounge?― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 11:43

I rly want u. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

NEWS ― Business ― Today, 11:48

SpamLawyers4U, the legal corporation formed to exploit opportunities presented by the Advertisement Controls (Amendment) Act, has celebrated its 1,000th case after less than three hours of trading. SL4U stock has already climbed 545%. Details

__________________________________________

NEWS ― Human Interest ― Today, 12:10

The religious pressure group Concerned Citizens United In God has claimed responsibility for the killing of Sandon Goodboy Rex, the alsatian dog due to marry Maxine Ellis tomorrow. In a statement, Ms Ellis described herself as "heartbroken". She is now said to be shortlisting for a new dog, and her representatives confirm that she will marry this replacement animal tomorrow at the time previously scheduled for her marriage to Rex. Details

__________________________________________

SYSTEM MESSAGE ― Today, 15:22

SpamSlayer has blocked 41 additional messages from "Jon Keene" (jon.a.keene11458@alphamail.web). To unblock this sender, click here.

__________________________________________

NEWS ― Business ― Today, 15:30

SpamLawyers4U has ceased trading. A spokesman for the company cited the withdrawal of one of their financial backers as the reason. The Enquirer understands that this financial backer may be connected with the online advertising industry. Details

__________________________________________

NEWS ― Justice ― Today, 15:32

United Corporate Communications is to challenge the Advertisement Controls (Amendment) Act in the World Supreme Court on the grounds that the Act curtails their freedom of speech. An emergency Supreme Court ruling holds the Act in abeyance for the time being. Details

__________________________________________

ADVERTISEMENT ― Today, 15:33

Could YOU use more profits? Do YOU have a product or service you need to market? United Corporate Communications has the answer! For fast, targeted advertisements direct to a carefully-selected audience, click here.

__________________________________________

ADVERTISEMENT ― Today, 15:45

Beth Delancourt, get your manhood enlargement products from MakeItBigger4Her.web ― cheap, fast, and guaranteed! Click here.

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 15:51

Ur mail service is blocking me, y is it doing that? I had 2 get a new address so i could mail u. I;m on (jon.a.keene3474@wontfailmail.web) now. Update ur contact list plz. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 16:02

Im rly worried now. Y is ur mailbox doing that? R u ok? Plz mail me. U dont have 2 say anything else, just that ur ok. Plz. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

POLICE CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 16:20

Dear Ms Delancourt

Your complaint concerning your alleged stalker has been logged and a police officer will investigate just as soon as possible. We are very busy at this time, so you may experience a short delay. Your custom is important to the police and we always aim to give a personal service that treats you as an individual. If you need to contact us, please quote complaint number F/86329/561007341. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 16:25

If u dont reply 2 me Ill kill myself. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 16:46

O wait lol ur at work! I get it now. U dont have mail forwrad 2 ur work address? Ud reply to me if u did, I no u would. Soz 4 saying Id kill myself. Mail me soon as tho. & get mail froward 2 ur work address cos I cant mail u if u dont. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

POLICE CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 17:00

Dear Ms Delancourt

Your police services bill for the quarter is attached. You must pay now. If you have not paid within 72 hours we will commence immediate enforcement action for your debts, which may include confiscation of your goods, seizure of your financial assets and/or eviction from your home.

The police need your support to do our vital work. We accept all major credit cards as well as cash, cheque or computerised transfer (subject to a small fee). Don't delay - pay today!

Attachment Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 17:03

Where r u working now? Mayb I could c u on ur lunch 2moro. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 17:10

Shit, Beth, this Jon bloke sounds like a right weirdo. You be careful, okay?

You can come and stay at our place tonight if you like. I'll get my husband to answer the door if anyone knocks. I'll come pick you up round 18:00. Huggles. ― Jane. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 17:38

When do u get back from work? I miss u. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 17:41

Id die if I thought u dint luv me ne more. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 18:02

U mustve stopped work by now. Mail me! Plzplzplzplzplzplzplz mail me. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 18:09

Plz? ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

ADVERTISEMENT ― Today, 18:28

YOU can pre-purchase our forthcoming online footage of Maxine Ellis' marriage to her dog, exclusively from PremiumPayPerView.web! See our prices for the ceremony or ceremony + nuptials on PremiumPayPerView.web now! Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 18:55

K, if ur gonna be liek that, Im gonna show u. U can read this when Im dead & think abuot what u did 2 me. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ― Today, 19:07

1 reply was all i asked. U owed me that. ― Jon. Reply

__________________________________________

NEWS ― Human interest ― Today, 21:21

A spectacular suicide shocked the city this evening. Jon Keene (34), described by witnesses as seeming "extremely distressed", immolated himself outside a private residence on the eastern slopes. The occupant, who has declined to be named, is believed to be his ex-girlfriend. Details
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Last edited by Devon; 09-15-2010 at 01:45 AM..
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  #5  
Old 08-31-2010, 11:27 AM
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Default Formalities by Neil

The man saw the woman before the woman saw the man. He stood as close as he possibly could beside her, making sure not to impede on the barriers made known by society and which were affectionately referred to as Personal Space. He looked at the book in her hands.

“That’s a great book,” he said. “I hope you will now deign to speak with me, as I am attracted to you and would like eventually to be entangled with you in fornication.”

The woman looked up at the man. She smiled. “You’re very attractive and because you seem like you are attracted to me I will deign to speak with you and possibly allow you to climb on top of me at your homestead or mine, wherein we will fornicate greatly, profusely, boisterously.” She then said: “That’s what I keep hearing. My friends keep telling me to read it.”

“Well, actually,” the man said, having gained this ground, “I have not read the book, but, like you, have heard many things about it from my friends, people who are more inclined to literature than I, and who annoy me at times but who I am now thankful to for telling me about this book, which is in your hands, which has allowed me to introduce myself, and I am going to pretend to know much about this book so that I may possibly latch on to a tangent and veer the conversation elsewhere, to more familiar territory, so that I may learn your name and ask you out, so that I can gain your affection and trust and eventually be entangled with you in great, passionate, cacophonous fornication.

It’s seriously one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.”

The woman nodded and smiled at the charm of the man, who dominated the conversation and veered it elsewhere as he had planned and who proved himself to be a great wit worthy of further investigation; truly, no one understands how relationships form, but this one formed just as others form millions of places around the world at any given moment, spontaneously and without warning, and when all was said and done the one knew the other’s name and had the other’s number. They met on the weekend at a restaurant.

“Thank you!” the woman said to the man as he pulled out a chair and helped her to sit down. “You continue to impress me and I am almost ready to be entangled with you in fornication!”

“You’re very welcome,” he said. “You look wonderful, by the way. Saying this right after showing you my courteous side surely means we will be fornicating soon, yes?”

They smiled at each other.

“Yes,” the woman said. “And thank you for noting my appearance. If you did not, I would mark it against you and perhaps withhold what you so eagerly desire and which I am coming much closer to being ready to give.”

“That is good,” the man said as the waiter poured the two of them glasses of wine. “Now please, drink some of this so that I may more easily entertain you and so that you may be more easily entertained.”

They touched glasses.

“I am having a wonderful time and you are very handsome,” the woman said.

“As am I, and I admire the way your dress reveals your shoulders and upper arms, as I can imagine pressing my lips to both of them and my goodness, let us talk of your family and interests!”

They talked of her family and interests. As these conversations always tend to play out in the same manner, while talking of her family and interests they also managed to talk of his. By the end of this conversation they had eaten their food, had consumed much wine, and were very comfortable with each other in a way they otherwise might not have been were they fully sober. But what does it matter? They were happy! They called a taxi.

“Take us to (her address) please,” the woman said.

“Yes, ma’am,” said the driver, and he drove them home.

“I had a great time tonight,” the man said at the woman’s doorstep. The woman lived in an apartment building. “May I walk you up? I would love to fornicate with you.”

“Yes,” the woman said, and they ascended to her floor by means of an elevator. On the ride up they groped at each other like two adolescents who have experienced the act of interplay for the first time. It was a mesmerizing sight. At her door she asked him to come in. He obliged.

They made love. Halfway through their intercourse the door to the apartment opened and a light came on. The man, who lay on top of her, stood himself up on his arms.

“What’s that?” he said.

“Fuck,” said the woman.

A man entered the doorway. “What the fuck?” he shouted.

“What the fuck?” the man said in response. He looked at the woman, still beneath him. He did not look at her long, as a bullet entered his skull through the side and caused the rest of his head to sag then rupture. Blood splashed across the woman’s face. The woman screamed. Then the woman, too, was shot. Her husband was a cop and had just come off duty. The woman had not expected him.

In the court it was ruled as an act of passion. The papers were all about it for a week then moved on to newer stories.

Sitting beside one of his co-workers, a young man read the story while on break, and shook his head. He said to his co-worker, a female: “It’s awful what happened to that cop. I mean, I feel bad for the couple, but, you know, it still sucks for everyone.”

“Yeah,” the girl said.

“I hope that by saying this thing I have showed you a glimpse into my more sincere character and that, by displaying this more somber side of my personality, you will consider me for at least one night of fornication.”

The co-worker went to her locker and pulled out a carton of cigarettes. “You smoke?” she asked. “You’re cute and I don’t mind spending time with you.”

The boy did not smoke. “No,” he said. “But I’ve always wanted to. I also would like to fornicate with you.”

“Come on,” the girl said. “I’ll teach you.” She had no interest in the boy. She was just a friendly person.
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  #6  
Old 08-31-2010, 11:32 AM
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Default The Boy Who Played Chequers by J. Newman

Chapter One

It’s hard to tell if it was the bottle of beer or the Thai beer waitress that changed things that day. It was like a chicken or egg conundrum. Without one you don’t have the other. And vice versa.

Difficult to say with the Orientals, but I would hazard a guess that the waitress was probably in her late forties, and by no means the most beautiful woman in town. Her ravaged body had undoubtedly seen scenes of desolation and disgrace far greater than my anthropological research had afforded me upcountry. I had been ploddingly assisting NGO’s (non-government organisations) in providing clothes, education and blind hope in rural pockets of poverty across the borders: Burma, Laos and Cambodia. The urban social decay of Bangkok, however, seemed more immediate, more urgent, and much more dangerous than the rural degeneration I was thus far accustomed to.

The waitress in front of me, whilst probably originating from the rural North East, appeared adjusted to city life and suitably versed with all its many colourful conflicts. Packed and covered with foundation, her ravenous face barely concealed a searing nest of resentments and active addictions continually bubbling away beneath her pitiable facade. She had an eagle-like lethargic red eye that trained me accusingly as she says: ‘Hell me. I go with you,’ she turns around and bends over to empty an already empty ashtray.

The poor woman is trying to solicit me I thought with a wave of repulsion. There was no way I could help her, nor she me. She was beyond help, or ‘hell,’ as her poor English pronunciation both poignantly and correctly put it. It seems that hell had failed her in the worse possible way: hell had given up on her. Hell simply didn’t want anything to do with her anymore. It seems Bangkok is purgatory, the crossroads between heaven and hell. Those that belong in neither remain stuck here withering away like hungry ghosts.

I noticed with curiosity the name ‘Peter’ tattooed on her lower back. Perhaps once possessed by the woman’s pitiful charms Peter (whoever he might have been) resolved to have his name branded on her for posterity. Or perhaps Peter, aware his affiliation for her was all but dissolving, decided on gifting her a farewell souvenir in the shape of something painfully permanent. Every whore has a story. None of them pleasant. As the years in the profession pass by the accumulated regrets strain the baggage of reason, before perhaps an apprentice daughter takes over the money-making burden, or bereft of a protégé, she reluctantly retires to rural destitution. Whichever event happens first or circumstance dictates shall be her fate. There are a few that do manage to luck it with a rich foreigner later on in life. But for most the game is usually over after the fortieth year. I felt a twinge of pity for the poor woman reasoning that although a good whore is often a bad person the opposite is also normally true.

Of course this is all just qualified speculation. I could be wrong, but I belatedly discovered in my anthropological studies that sometimes it’s better not to ask for the life story. You soon learn that All problems can be instantly resolved by crisp clean legal tender.

I can’t help you lady. I’m just here for the beer.’ I say and point to my bottle indicating a fresh bottle of beer Singha.

Want more bottle?’

Yes please.’ I light a cigarette and take in my surroundings.

The bar, on Sukhumvit Road, is more of a corridor. You have to walk in sideways and face a breeze block wall decorated with quasi-Buddhist paraphernalia; or preferably look out onto the street. I watch a drifter on the streets outside. Thinking no one’s looking a crippled beggar extracts a mobile telephone from his rags and calls his cash carrier to transport him to a busier patch. In Asian cities there is always someone looking. Always.

I was just about to drink up and leave when the waitress sits down on the stall next to me. In her hand is a book. It has a small faded blue cloth cover and the spine seems to have rolled through years of abuse. The dull yellowish remains of once bright gold gilt lettering are evident both on the coffee-ringed cover and along the broken spine.

She passes the book to me and I open it. It was printed ten years ago by a vaguely familiar Bangkok printing firm, with no accredited publisher. The author is a man named simply Peter. Hmmm Peter. I pointed at the printed name and then at her tattoo, she nodded and sighed by way of confirmation. The woman was becoming more interesting by the second. She was once involved with this author.

Peter had written the little blue book from a Buddhist monastery in Lopburi, where he was apparently living as a monk. The first few pages describe the mountains, lakes and limestone caves that surround the temple. Peter speaks of arboreal Gibbons swinging beneath the jungle canopy and solitary Tigers, rarely seen by human eyes. I asked the woman if Peter still lived up there in the jungle and she nodded and indicated that she is waiting for him to return to the laypeople and settle down with her in Bangkok. It seemed unlikely to my cynical mind but not impossible that he would do such a thing.

As I read the pages the little blue book grows in interest. The first story is called The Boy who played Checkers. There is something curiously familiar about the writing, a strange comfortable connection as if the author and I had once been friends and his words referred to private conversations from this insightful period in both our lives. Peter is a magician of hidden message and suggestion, the stock and trade of a virtuous writer. His words are simple yet conjure up so much more than what seems possible with the English language. I find myself reading at a sprint, devouring the words before returning to reread them with less pace and more contemplation. Once I reached the conclusion of The boy who played checkers I was hooked. My heart pounds within my chest as I realised the true meaning of the words that Peter had written. I had heard of this story before, a slow intense shiver ran through my entire body as I recalled where and when I read The Boy who Played Checkers.

I recalled reading the newspaper story three years ago. The story caused a running debate amongst the college faculty. Was such a thing possible?

I drank my beer and ordered another one. Outside in the street a red and blue Tuk-Tuk halts to a stop, and seeing me, the driver shouts something about a body massage, I waved him away and returned to the book. Outside it began to rain, slowly at first and then in heavy droplets that fell with such ferocity that they bounced back up again from the pot-holed sidewalk.

As I began to read over the words again I felt both a wondrous excitement and a cold deathly fear, but most of all, a sense of absolute spiritual gratitude. A sense of being close to the edge of some kind of intellectual fulfilment along with the knowledge that I was never meant to know about such things. Nobody was. That was, in a way, the whole point of the story. It was a warning. Peter had taken the risk for me.

I tipped the waitress generously and by the time I had made it back to the hotel I was soaked through with rainwater. I ran a warm bath and watched CNN until the tub was full. As I toyed with the water temperature, hot, cold, hot, cold, my thoughts kept returning to the little blue book and its contents. I was snapped out of the fog by the ringing of my mobile telephone. I towelled myself dry and picked up the phone. It was Christy, my colleague and co-ordinator on the Laotian project.

How did it go?’ Her voice reminded me of security in a strange way, like a voice from home, although we had never know each other back home. We were from different cities, miles apart, yet conspirators in Asia by way of our education, preference in dope, and tastes in grade B horror flicks.

How did what go?’ I replied. I had no idea what she was talking about.

Hello!, you were supposed to be on purchasing detail, stupid!’

Oh right that, yeah, it’s er, going good.’ I had forgot my reason for actually being in Bangkok. To buy a bulk load of clothing supplies from Pratunam wholesale market. ‘Just sorting out the colors,’ I lied.

Look Mike, I hope you haven’t been propping up one of those girly bars,’ she said teasingly, ‘the third world depends on you.’ I felt her smile cut through me a thousand kilometres away.

Well, I guess those barflies are helping third world families if you really stop and think about it. Prostitution keeps families clothed, fed, educated. Never underestimate the power of the tourist dollar.’ Would I never learn that sarcasm has no place on the telephone, a text message, blog or written in an email?

Mike, you’d better be joking.’ She knew I was, didn’t she?

I am, no, no, it’s cool. I just got side-tracked by something, that’s all.’

Oh yeah, anything exciting?’

Hmmm. Kind of.’ I admitted.

Ok, let me guess, she has brown hair, brown eyes, a beautiful figure...’ Christy laughs over the static.

Come on, you know I don’t fall that routine Christy. You remember the story in college about the kid that played checkers?’

Who doesn’t?’

Well what do you think?’

I think it’s nonsense.’ I could hear somebody calling her name the other end of the line.

what do you mean?’ I asked.

People don’t just disappear. It’s a freshman urban myth. Get over it. Why, what brings this up all of a sudden?’

Nothing. I’m curious, pensive, I’m in Bangkok, forget I mentioned it.’

Arighty. Well, you wouldn’t be the first to be curious in Bangkok, be careful in the big bad city, Mike. Watch out for ladies and wannabe ladies out there. We need you back here.’

I was about to ask Christy something before the line went dead.

My mind reeled back to the minutes, hours, days, the arguments and debates back in college refectories and student dorms. I decided at once to call Jeff, my old college buddy, beer drinking buddy and general goofball back in the states. He answered the telephone as if emerging from a deep sleep, I had forgotten about the time difference.

Jeff, you remember the boy who played checkers?’

Hmmmm. Wait. Time zone. Creep. Hang on, sure. The mini Buddha. Who could forget. What about him?’

I told Jeff about the bar and the book and the temple in Lopburi. As I began to tell the story I felt what I thought was maybe a wave of synchronicity, consequence or perhaps déjà vou.

Jeff is excited despite the hour: ‘Dude, you have to go check it out. Take a camera. This is a once in a life time ticket to the big time man. I can see it now... New Scientist magazine... Transience theories and speculations on the veracity of reality. Wow, man, the idea that reality is nothing but a consensus of opinion broken by Buddhist enlightenment, and further shattered by nirvana! Shit! There are things that we don’t know, dimensions we have yet to explore. Familiar zones and perceptions, scientific blinkers, the power of common belief. The, the, the...’

Woah, Jeff man. I’m not going out there. I have a job to do.’ My head began to ache with recalling the heady discussions we had had in the past. ‘I’m not cut out for reporting on this. I need to work.’

Dude listen, when this story breaks you won’t have to work. If the kid’s still at the temple put him on the road. Promote him, merchandising, T-shirts, lunch-boxes, action-figures, think about it...’

Jeff?’

Ok I’m joking. At least you could go back and get a copy of that book. Scan it and send it over. I NEED to see this. Do this for me Mikey. I need it.’

The conversation drifted into baseball and then all the chicks still on campus that Jeff wasn’t seeing but would like to. Post-graduate study hadn’t opened the doors of romance as Jeff had expected it to. He seemed bitter about it. He promised to study the Boy who played checkers stateside and revert back by email.

I put down the telephone and decided to return to the bar and take another look at the little blue book.
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:35 AM
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Default Little Jam Jars by Circe

our indian neighbours are playing salsa music
it is afternoon, 12:02, i feel a friendly red, a fiery yellow
awash in distant greens, in blacks stomped to life
my coat is too warm for the fall

three days ago, a chinese store owner grinned
at two boys with scooters scrambling bumbling up the stairs
fast weaving through the crowds
he pointed at the scooters for his little wife
i like to think she was his wife
i like to think he rode on scooters when he
was young

a joyful racket of gray rain
caught on my stockings

ten million people cannot compare to you
what then, hero? come for me
we will watch them together

this city is a city
full of roads where there shouldn't be roads
bridges in strange places and paths that wind you thin and fascinated

a father bouncing a yellow ball with his son
beside the tram tracks
a round boy holds a camera in front of the long, rectangular fountain
behind him is a stream of sharp white birds
a flat gust of light, sleek
the rain will fall hard, soon

last night, tonight, today, i sleep here
memories stored, little jam jars sealed tight
wrapped in ribbons for you, odd flavours of me
you wrap yourself around me every night, you
my ribbon
i will tell you stories upon stories
i will seal you within me
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