Out the Window

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“He was smart. He was wise. He’d profoundly philosophize empathy for all humanity. Till one day by an open window, there’s a note that read, ‘I’ve gone out the window, I’m dead.’ He said yes to life for all his life, but then one day he said, ‘No, I gotta go.’” —The Violent Femmes

On the side of the post office facing a big open grassy lot, there were two P.O. boxes as big as picture windows. The one on top was labelled “Moloch Whose,” and the one on bottom was labelled “Moloch Whose.” Understandably, mail carriers made plenty of mistakes in sorting out which Moloch mail belonged to which Moloch box.

The mailbox was big enough to walk inside, but most of the mail was only normal size which made no sense, but a job was a job, so nobody complained.

This happened over and over: One mail carrier would put the wrong piece of mail on top, and another mail carrier would put the wrong piece of mail on the bottom, and a supervisor would come along later to double check, and he’d have to keep switching them. The problem was the supervisor didn’t know any better what mail belonged where, so identities got increasingly tangled.

To look at both Molochs, the real physical creatures the boxes belonged to, there was no mistaking which one was which: Moloch Whose Eyes Are a Thousand Blind Windows (the owner of the bottom box) looked like a thousand floating black rectangles of glass. Moloch Whose Ear is a Smoking Tomb (the owner of the top box) looked like a giant black dog with ash eyes (the correlation between name and identity was a little less obvious, but he did have a literal tomb in his ear while the other had no ears at all).

But the post office was intractable in its “Two Names Only” policy, so the “Moloch Whose” name remained on both.

Both Molochs, when they opened up their mailboxes for a new and hopeful day, got each other’s mail over and over and sighed and said in the same way, “Not again. Why does this happen to me every day?”

Black Dog Moloch (as we’ll call him for short) would walk around the front door and shout to the workers inside: “You did it again, you guys. You know I’m too big to come inside the post office, yet you always get my mail wrong. Can’t you guys put a sticker on the door or something? I mean there’s gotta be something you can do, you guys.” He’d drop off the other Moloch’s mail and made it scatter in the door way. He didn’t mean this to be rude (people seem to assume giant black dogs are extra rude for some reason, so he went out of his way to be polite), he just couldn’t help it considering the physics of dropping mail from that height. Soon he really did mean to be rude (even a creature as polite as Black Dog Moloch had a breaking point). The mail carriers would then take the other Moloch’s mail and take it back to the P.O. box and face the same problem. The box from the inside was still labeled the same, so the mail carrier would have to again stand there staring and say, “Now, which Moloch is the big dog, and which one is the other one?”

Moloch Whose Eyes Are a Thousand Blind Windows benefited from limited telekinesis, so he sent the wrong mail flying through the front door like a ghost hauled it, so the mail carriers started calling him Glass Ghost Moloch. He intended this silent indignation at the mail carriers’ offense to be like the superiority of the rich and famous folks (and Glass Ghost Moloch admired famous and aloof folks more than anyone (he imagined himself a Gatsby type (though his friends told him he was more like Bartleby the Scrivener (except Glass Ghost Moloch didn’t have any friends))). The indignity of the lowly nickname and being considered a haunting creature became something he had to ignore forcibly because he likewise cultivated the obliviousness of the wealthy (the truth is mail carriers never went outside on that side of the building (the Molochs were terrifying)).

Both Molochs started to put little stickers on the outside of the mailboxes (independently (they hadn’t even met at this point) but coincidentally quite similar) assuming the mail carriers would come out and see them (not knowing they never would). First it was initials on small white stickers (“MWEST” and “MWEATBW” (respectively)). Then full names on bigger stickers. Until finally massive sticker-backed pictures of a human eye and a human ear (respectively).

Black Dog Moloch was the first to notice the coincidence of the similar labelling and laughed at his cohort’s giant eye sticker. “I gotta meet this dude,” he said out loud to no one (because he had no one). So he waited out there all day (he had nothing better to do). When a thousand black rectangles of glass floated up the street, Black Dog Moloch said, “Hey there, guy, I’m guessing you’re Moloch Whose Eyes Are a Thousand Blind Windows.”

“Thank goodness you got my name right, not that awful ‘Ghost Glass’ name,” said Ghost Glass Moloch. “If another person at this post office calls me Ghost Glass, I’ll … scream. That’s what I’ll do, I’ll scream.”

“Oh, I don’t work at the post office,” said Black Dog Moloch. “I’m the other ‘Moloch Whose’ who gets your mail. I’m Moloch Whose Ear is a Smoking Tomb. That’s my name. But you can call me Black Dog Moloch if that makes it easier. Or Molly. Sometimes people call me Molly even though I’m a boy. I don’t mind so much. My ear is literally a smoking tomb too, by the way.” He opened his left ear and showed his new friend all the bodies and stone and ghosts. “So…there’s that.”

“Well…”

“Yeah…”

“So…”

They continued like this because what else did they really have to say since their only connection was their similar name?

“So here’s your mail I guess.” Black Dog Moloch tried to give the mail over with his mouth but saw no hands to hand it to. Soon, Ghost Glass Moloch’s telekinesis took away this social complication. Black Dog Moloch said, “You seem to have a lot of medical bills here, so I guess those are important. My mail is mostly gossip magazines. Nobody writes letters anymore. A lost art, am I right?”

“I have Munchausen Syndrome,” said Ghost Glass Moloch, “so I manifest in hospitals in human form.” Black Dog Moloch resisted pointing out how ghost-like that was. “I complain of humanity as an ailment, but it’s only for attention.”

“That’s hilarious.”

“Is it?”

Silence.

Ghost Glass Moloch broke the silence: “The only reason I’m telling you I have Munchausen Syndrome is for the sympathy. I guess that’s what they call irony. By the way, I can afford to go to the hospital so often because very, very rich. The Amalgamation Gods are my sponsors. I’m actually very extraordinarily gobsmackingly wealthy.”

“Really? Me too. I got a sponsor called Deathor who gets me to speak for him in public. I’ve never seen him before, but whatever. I imagine he’s all clad in black leather and badassly even covers his face in straps of black leather, and he’s like twenty-one feet tall but the same skinniness as regular size humans. I’m very precise in my speculations, I realize, but I have a lot of time to think and talk to myself since I never see my owner. It’s weird to call him an owner since I’m not really a dog, but at the same time it kinda feels right. But he gives me so much money. Who am I to complain about endless wealth from mysterious invisible entities? But most of the time I just sit at home alone. I mean the only reason I got a P.O. box is I wanted to meet people. Fat load of good that’s done for me so far. Except today I guess.”

“I…” Ghost Glass Moloch started to say something but stopped. He was probably going to say something like, “I have the same experience,” but he seemed to be both proud and embarrassed about everything. “I think we should advertise for a nose and mouth,” he said instead.

“What?”

“Our ear and eye stickers seem so lonely on the box doors. They need a nose and mouth. Maybe we could advertise for a nose and mouth. It would drive the mailmen crazy.”

“That’s hilarious.”

“Is it?”

“I guess?”

“Really?”

Silence.

“I can make the poster,” said Black Dog Moloch, tail wagging because he couldn’t help it. “I know exactly what it will say. My dream is to one day be an actor and director, so I’m a little bit practiced in audition notices, so I know exactly what these things are supposed to be like.” He jerked back and forth because his legs wanted him to go home and make the poster, but the rest of him wanted to stay and keep talking to Ghost Glass Moloch.

“So…yeah…that’s…” Ghost Glass Moloch kept seemingly starting a new conversation, keeping Black Dog Moloch tied there and bouncing back and forth. This was intolerable, but Ghost Glass Moloch wasn’t used to people taking a genuine interest in what he said. “So I guess we’ll meet back here tomorrow,” said Ghost Glass Moloch finally releasing him.

Black Dog Moloch dashed off, all four feet pad-pad-padding-against the pavement, pink tongue hanging out. Cars in the street swerved as if a giant dog with no eyes would be extra clumsy, but no, he knew his world so well, his feet fell perfectly. He even calculated the exact way cars would swerve all the way home.

This is what the poster said (Black Dog Moloch wrote it with his mouth but it was still surprisingly legible): “Wanted: Nose and Ears for Funny Business. Wealthy Sponsors Will Pay Big Big Big. Meet at This Post Office.”

“How do you like it?” said Black Dog Moloch.

“I never learned to read,” said Ghost Glass Moloch. “I never had to. I was always too rich.”

Silence.

“I guess we just wait then?”

They met at the same time over the next few days at the P.O. boxes and never had much to say.

“I guess nobody decided to take our offer.”

“Nope.”

“Still it was pretty hilarious, right?”

“If you insist.”

“Well…See you tomorrow.”

A week passed and one day a human was standing next to the P.O. Boxes, positioned to block anyone from opening or entering the lower box (he couldn’t do much about the upper box). “Are you the gentlemen who left this poster?” he said.

“Um…yes?” said Black Dog Moloch, cringing a little as if this little dude might somehow hurt him for some mysterious violation.

“My name is Denny,” he said. “I’m here to be your nose and mouth for funny business?”

“Oh,” said Black Dog Moloch.

“Oh,” said Ghost Glass Moloch.

“What kind of money are we talking?”

“Like…a million? Is that good?” Black Dog Moloch looked at Ghost Glass Moloch.

Ghost Glass Moloch said, “Um…sure? I can do a million.”

“Do we meet at a hotel or what?” said Denny.

“Um…”

“Um…”

“Sure?”

Cut to an hour later, the Molochs had two briefcases with a million dollars each. Ghost Glass Moloch removed the wall of one of the second story hotel rooms (Ghost Glass Moloch was such a powerful telekinetic, he could dissolve atomic bonds and do so much murder if he really put his mind to it), and Denny stood next to the bed, hands in pockets.

“So, how do we get this funny business started?”

“Um…

“Um…”

“Tell some jokes, I guess?”

“I think you better hand over the money first,” said Denny, and Glass Ghost Moloch sent the briefcases over telekinetically.

“Did you hear the one about the gorilla?” Black Dog Moloch said as Denny checked the money.

Then Denny flashed a badge: “I hope you got good lawyers, boys, because you’re busted. I find what you’re doing here disgusting.”

“What…are…we…doing?”

“Funny business,” Denny said with certainty as if he alone among them knew what that meant.

“What does that mean?”

“You tell me, punk.”

“I have no idea. Jokes maybe?”

Silence.

“Okay, look fellas, my real name is Burdeneye Parnassus, and I’m trying to get this private detective business going, and when I saw a poster offering big bucks for funny business, I assumed there had to be something illegal, so throw me a bone here. No offense,” he said and glanced up at the big dog.

“None taken,” the big dog said.

“There has to be something illegal about giving me a million dollars for funny business, right?”

“I think it just means we gave you a million dollars for nothing.”

“Oh. Well. Cool. That’s not illegal, right?”

Black Dog Moloch stood and wagged his tail again: “It could be an investment. We could be detectives together and bust murderers! I’ll go learn about some crimes to solve! Meet tomorrow at the post office. Go!” He dashed off.

The next day at the post office, Ghost Glass Moloch’s P.O. box was gone, wood planks over a hole. He didn’t show up again. Neither did the private detective.

“It was all dumb anyway, I guess,” said Black Dog Moloch to nobody and drooped away, head bowed, padding across the grass in silence. He could see no good reason to bound.

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Summary of #TwitterFiction stories: #ForeignPlanets, #PopulatedWound, & #FertileCrescent

Planets (collage)

Presently, I have three #TwitterFiction pieces cycling as an #EchoChamber (in which pieces are posted daily at a certain time which echo one another verbally, visually, and/or thematically): #ForeignPlanets (daily at 5:30 a.m.), #PopulatedWound (daily at 4:30 p.m.), and #FertileCrescent (daily 11:00 p.m.). They have been ongoing for several months, so here is a brief summary to catch you up:

#ForeignPlanets (5:30 a.m.) is the story of Far Clooney, a matter transmuter and  inadvertent destroyer of planets, and her adventures in an unexpected version of outer space with gravity, breathable air, and an abundance of animal life.  As Far’s powers and awkwardness lead inevitably to planetary destruction again and again, she is given a task by Teddy Roosevelt (or one version of Teddy Roosevelt, a bitter and cantankerous old space pirate called King Antiphon) with stopping the Red Rage Moss from turning outer space thoroughly unpleasant and chock full of murder. Teddy Roosevelt suspects the responsible party is the Great Grambell and his Alchemy Robots who live in the Gravity Planet, a Jupiter-sized mechanical planet responsible for the unexpected gravity effects in this particular outer space. After several diversions in which Far Clooney has a compressed long term relationship with a nightmare named Cosby Rose (whose Bleeding Ghost powers allow him to possess inanimate objects and become a giant), kills an evil creature called Michel the Mountain of Screaming Mako Sharks, and meets her sister Greta who likewise has the ability to transmute matter (even more clumsily) and bend time, Far and Teddy Roosevelt (along with Teddy Roosevelt’s companion, a giant composed of putti angels called Clarke) arrive at the Cancer Planets, a series of eight planets connected by bridges orbiting the Gravity Planet (the Monster Planet, the Birth Bridge, the Planet of Mercuries, the Planet of Crystal Music Boxes and Sleeping Lion, the Marriage Bridge, the Planet of Falcons and Shadows, the Supplication to God Bridge, the Planet of Blue Marsupial Pockets, and the Planet of Captain America Shields). The planets are tumors, and the person who has grown these tumors (who lives at the center of each planet) may be able to give Teddy Roosevelt info about his old friend/rival Taft. Teddy Roosevelt claims Taft can help them invade the Gravity Planet though each Cancer Planet is inhabited by creatures created by Taft himself because Taft may have powers similar to Far’s. Far’s exboyfriend Cosby Rose also happens to be on the first Cancer Planet, making things as awkward as they always are with Far.

#PopulatedWound (4:30 p.m.) is the story of the Birth Monsters of Hell and one particular nightmare named Boodlepax. Hell is a tangible place where customers pay to be tortured. The system is maintained by connemara stars which heal any injury, and the whole place is run by Hell Corporate who employs as grunt workers Birth Monsters, humans with complex and absurdly grotesque birth defects. Boodlepax, a nightmare (which is a type of Birth Monster born concurrently with humans in Nightmare Land) looks like a barn owl with more human mouth and arms, and his poor communication skills and timidity make him ineffective in his job as Hell’s Devil’s Advocate, convincing customers they don’t need to be tortured. When two torturers named Judson and Europa inadvertently kill a customer, Boodlepax feels indirectly responsible, so he goes on a quest through Nightmare Land for the Resurrection Star, a type of connemara star that brings back the dead. When he comes back to Hell with the Resurrection Star, he finds an apocalyptic messiah named Sophie Echo has already destroyed it, so he tries to find Judson and Europa. Meanwhile, another messiah named Joy Metzkey (with her best friend Hope Lesko who has no power and only seems present for the sake of snarky quips and requests for Joy to kick somebody’s ass as she seems most adept at doing) is digging up a buried wolf named Fenrir who was presumed dead though a connemara star has kept him alive underground. Joy is a member of the Communion of Saints, agents of angels who protect birth monsters. They are also allies of the Salvation Wolves, an organization of benign and hyper-intelligent wolves (and secretly all the world’s wolves are part of this same organization) who have vowed to protect all that is good while committing no violent acts. Fenrir had infiltrated a group of Promusaurifex (the same group responsible for creating Hell) to investigate the theft of Tiny Hotels, a mechanism by which the Promusaurifex enslave shrunken humans to ride inside of their bodies (in some extreme cases creating whole cities inside their bodies) and the mechanism by which Salvation Wolves send those they eat to a paradise inside their stomachs. He has discovered that a mysterious entity called Father Hospital is trying to steal the secrets to creating Tiny Hotels in a plan to murder the sun (the sun is secretly a Birth Monster named Twelvedoe). Now Joy, Hope, Fenrir, and Boodlepax are on a mission to find Father Hospital, stop him from murdering the sun, resurrect her with the resurrection star if need be, and perhaps in the meantime find out the fate of Judson and Europa. They are inspecting all the groups that use a Tiny Hotel to see if Father Hospital has attempted to steal their secrets (and each of these groups parallels a Cancer Planet in #ForeignPlanets), starting with Ken Champion, a Father Hospital devotee who has used Tiny Hotels (given to him by Father Hospital in a an act of kindness, he claims) to turn tiny sentient puppets into a sort of anabolic steroid to strengthen athletes for the coming apocalypse.  One of Ken Champion’s clients, Holt Hefter, has told them that the next best group to investigate is the Forgiveness of Sins (long time enemies of the Communion of Saints who allow people to work off sins by externalizing them as monstrous deformities, giving them access to great power, and doing grunt work for an entity called the Blackhole Rainbow) because they may have enslaved his crush, Lisa Porpentine. Strategically, Joy is spreading the word that Boodlepax has destroyed Hell singlehandedly and is likewise aiming to destroy all of Hell’s allies and enemies.

#FertileCrescent (11:00 p.m.) is a murder mystery featuring eccentric detective Burdeneye Parnassus who has rented a house in a neighborhood called Fertile Crescent to spy on brother and sister Tom and Amanda Wood who live side by side only three streets down from Burdeneye’s new house. Their estranged father wants to find out if the Wood siblings are happy (and advances only as far as hiring the flaky and frustrating Hope, Tom’s wife, as a babysitter). Burdeneye uses trips with his one and a half year old son, Cole, around the neighborhood in his wagon as pretense for spying, and he uses his son’s geniality and curiosity to overcome his own intense social anxiety (for which taking on the detective role was meant to be a remedy). Burdeneye gets sidetracked, however, when Cole finds a piece of broken ceramic dentures with the word “Oloi” stamped on the side. This coincides with observation that the woman who lives on the dirt road behind him has ceased her regular 4:30 a.m. appearances, and the hefty, often-scarred man who lives with her, her son perhaps, seems to bury something big around the time she goes missing. Burdeneye decides he must pursue this murderer to keep his young son safe because protecting his son is the only happiness this broken man has ever managed. A conversation with the burly son, Holt Hefter, sheds little light on the situation but gives him the names of two residents of Fertile Crescent as clues: Murdergod and the Bird Man. After finding a manuscript called “The Birth of Murdergod” in which the author describes an attempt to create a mountain of corpses, Burdeneye discovers a mass grave hidden in a communal garden behind the Woods’ homes. He then meets the “Bird Man,” Goose Faberbacher, a former kids’ show host who tells Burdeneye that Murdergod, who lives in this neighborhood, once came to him for advice on performance but was too arrogant and short tempered to take advice. Burdeneye concocts a plan to host a talent show for the neighborhood’s children which the egotistical Murdergod couldn’t resist, and then Goose Faberbacher could point him out. Suspecting Holt Hefter is secretly Murdergod, Burdeneye invites him, but Holt in turn invites Burdeneye to “The Train,” which he claims is a literal train out in the woods surrounding the neighborhood, woods too thick to even walk through. Later, Burdeneye discovers men carrying coffins down the street late at night and dressed as weird creatures are part of a group called the Opopanax Conies living in the thick woods near The Train, so Burdeneye agrees to go with Holt Hefter, assuming all of this is connected somehow. It turns out, however, that The Train is a very popular performance space, and entrances through the thick woods are disguised by optical illusions.  The performance space is used for wrestling matches, and Holt Hefter seems to be the most beloved hero, Doctor Axehandle, fighting villains like the masked Father Dragon and Big Baby.