The Widowmaker

The pain was slightly sharper than heartburn, lasted less than half a minute, and he felt perfectly fine after it subsided. He was of an age where unexplained body pains suddenly appeared and disappeared as a common occurrence, so he gave the chest twinge no further thought. But there was a saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” and what he didn’t know was that he just had a heart attack.

It would be another two months until the pain returned, intensified to the point that it dropped him to his knees and led him to be taken to the emergency room. The cardiologist found two plaque build-ups that blocked ninety-nine percent of his left anterior descending artery, which was responsible for a heart attack known as the widowmaker.

In the intensive care unit, as he was recovering from surgery, mind swimming in a morass of anesthesia, a sound caught his attention. It was a heavy sobbing that seemed to be emanating from somewhere within the room. When he attempted to look in the direction of the whimpering, an unseen force turned his head away. Out the corner of his eye, he could have sworn he saw the night nurse’s shadow jitter and twitch in a jerky fashion.

At first, he thought it was an anesthesia hallucination, but came to believe that something unnatural was at play and his suspicion was confirmed when the nurse left the room…but the shadow remained behind.

The shadow struggled to break free from the confinement of the nurse’s silhouette and once achieved, it slid down the wall like obsidian mercury. It crossed the floor in a spidery fashion, tendrils of ebony arcing up and out, digging into vinyl flooring and pulling itself toward his hospital bed. The darkness that seemed somehow sentient pooled on top of him and he could feel its weight—weight that a shadow should not possess—putting additional pressure on his already weakened chest.

The black mass rose, building upon itself and transmogrifying into the solid form of a woman in tattered scrubs. Beneath its widow’s veil was a sorrowful face that wept tears of misery so black as to absorb the surrounding light. He wanted to turn his head, to stare directly at the creature, as his mother taught him to do when he was that young boy afraid of the monsters that lurked under his bed and in the closet.

“Look them directly in the eye, see them for what they really are, and make them disappear,” she said. But this beast was far more cunning than the night terror monstrosities of his youth, for it would not allow him to view it head-on, only from the corner of his vision.

“No fear, no fear,” the shape said in a voice as raspy as tires on a gravel driveway.

The weeping creature straddled him and splayed its fingers, the tips of which were flat like electrode pads and one by one placed them all over his chest. He could feel those fingers sinking through his hospital gown and grafting themselves to his trembling flesh.

“Feed, feed,” the deep timbre of its voice anchored his body in paralysis and he finally realized the creature’s purpose. Similar to the vampires of myth and legend, whatever this thing was, it gained its sustenance from the heartbeats of the living, as opposed to blood. This was the true Widowmaker.

He tried with all his might to struggle, to break the connection and throw this abomination off him, but he was too weak to prevent it from siphoning the precious beats that gave him life, an act that would continue for as long as his strained heart held out, an act that rendered him helpless and was inducing a deep and dreamless sleep.

His final thoughts, as he slipped into unconsciousness were how many heartbeats had the Widowmaker taken? How many hours, days, years, had been stolen? And would this mourning and hungry beast leave any behind for him to continue his existence?

©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

A Meal And A Hot Shower

A number of years ago, I volunteered to man the telephones during a pledge drive for WBAI, a New York-based non-commercial, listener-supported radio station, whose programming featured political news, talk and opinion from a left-leaning, liberal or progressive viewpoint, and eclectic music.

During popular programs that offered nice gift incentives for pledges, the phones never stopped ringing. When a less popular show was on the air, the phones experienced plenty of downtime. This was when you got to meet your fellow volunteers. Most were friendly, chatty folks, happy to make connections with people who shared their political interests, some were dyed in the wool anti-establishment protestors whose roots were still firmly planted in the hippie movement, and then there was Dave. And he sat next to me. Because I am a magnet for the unusual.

It was the middle of summer, and a brutal one, if memory serves, and Dave was wearing a wool hat, and thick cable knit sweater, with a woolen scarf beneath his puffer coat. But that wasn’t the first thing I noticed about Dave. Not to be cruel, but Dave hadn’t quite gotten his body odor under control. But he was friendly, so we got to talking and in the course of the conversation, Dave admitted that he was a homesteader.

Now, to me, a homesteader was a person who lived and grew crops on land given by the government, so I bombarded him with homesteading questions because I was genuinely curious about the arrangement. He had to stop me in order to explain the modern usage of the term. Dave would break into abandoned buildings, run extension cords to the street lamps for electricity, and arrange to receive mail at the address for at least a month to prove residency in order to avoid being tossed out onto the street without undergoing a proper eviction process.

Squatting wasn’t anything new, and in New York there used to be a law that if squatters were able to restore a derelict building with everything (electrical, plumbing, etc.) up to code, then they could petition as a group to form a business entity and place a bid to purchase the property, using the cost of repairs as a down payment.

Dave wasn’t a part of any such coalition. He was a one-man army and he claimed that he was facing ongoing battles with the owners of the abandoned properties—throwing his possessions out on the street, re-padlocking the property, sending “muscle” to physically evict him, etc.—but this is not the true issue of the post.

Dave (whose name wasn’t “Dave” because I wouldn’t out him like that) had no income and he lacked the skill set to rig the pipes in the abandoned buildings to run water, so he cased houses, and when he was sure that the owners were either away at work or on vacation, he broke into their homes, took showers, and made meals for himself before he left. He claimed he never took anything besides food, always cleaned up after himself, and effected minor repairs if he saw something that needed fixing.

So, the real issue of this post (a bit of a departure from normal) is to ask you a question:

“Besides the obvious breaking and entering charges, how severe a crime do you think the use of the shower and the fixing of a meal is, assuming Dave entered your home without your knowledge or permission?”

Please let me know in the comments below.

©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Tales From The Set: “Call My Ex, Please?” (a true story)

When choosing some sort of creative art as a career, you find out early on that you need to find other employment opportunities outside your field of interest In order to pay the bills. And since I have yet to acquire the fortune that is my birthright, when I lived in Los Angeles briefly, one of those jobs was working background on tv and film sets — also known as being an extra.

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The simplest game of Where’s Waldo ever. Look for the clever clog in the gray suit on the left blocking his face with his own champagne glass. A star in the making.

As I had no aspirations of being an actor, I’m pretty easygoing regarding my placement in the crowd. Tucked behind tall people? Facing away from the camera? Set in a position farthest from the principal actors? Not a problem. I was glad to be working and I kinda liked being on set and watching the crew set up shots. Other perks include:

  • Absolutely no acting ability is required (thankfully)
  • Being booked on a series or feature gets me out of the house and breaks the monotony of my average day
  • I get to slip into the skins of different people (hospital administrator, construction worker, churchgoer, Muslim, parent, etc.)
  • I’ve seen myself on TV three times to date (freeze frame is my best friend)

The downside?

  • The pay could be better (but I’m non-union, so dem’s da breaks)
  • Lugging around your own wardrobe (always bring at least two options) on public transportation (guess who never learned to drive?) can be cumbersome
  • The hurry up and wait… and wait… and wait… and wait… can wear on your patience, especially later in the day
  • Craft services (the snacks and drinks table) for extras is a bit of a dice roll
  • And sometimes other background actors. Not all, mind you, you come across some interesting people chock full of stories and experiences who are willing to let you pick their brains… then there are the others.

Before I get to the meat of the nutshell, I need to set the stage. Picture a room that holds one thousand people. Only one person in that thousand is certifiably crazy. Do you know how you’d be able to spot the nutjob? It would be the only person speaking to me. Got it? Good. Let’s proceed.

One time I was on the set of a tv show named Grey’s Anatomy in extras holding (just as it says on the tin — a place where background actors lounge about while they wait to be called to set) minding my own business, when an attractive young woman stood close to me and started speaking. She clearly wasn’t looking at me, so I followed her eyeline to see if she was perhaps conversing with someone behind me. Nope, no one there. So, I assumed she invited her imaginary friend to the set to keep her company, and I shrugged it off.

For the record, I do not discriminate against people with invisible friends as I know full well the difficulty in making and maintaining worthwhile friendships, imaginary or otherwise. That, and I once dated a woman whose older sister was pretty chummy with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and the rest of the Disney gang, and they would often go on Magic Kingdom adventures in the solitude of her bedroom.

A story for another day.

But this woman kept repeating the same sentence, loud enough for me to hear, but no one watching would ever had accused us of having a conversation. More like we were secret agents who daren’t risk breaking our cover, she was giving me the sign and awaited the countersign.

You’re not the first one to live in a strange place with strange people, nor the last,” she repeated.

I looked at her. She, however, refused to make eye contact and simply waited for my reply. Never one to resist the urge to poke the mental tiger, I finally said, “Sometimes it feels that way, though.”

The sluice gates were opened and I wasn’t prepared for the rush of conversation headed my way. Among the many topics she introduced:

  • How women are Christlike when they menstruate, as they suffer for mankind.
  • How she’s happy not to be dancing for biker gangs anymore.
  • How pigeons are truly blessed and carry our prayer up to heaven.
  • How she gave up selling subscriptions to a specialist magazine for ukelele players because she made a decision not to give up her integrity for money.
  • How the government was concealing the fact that chicken fried steak was the cure for cancer.
  • How her stepfather used to send Chinese pornography to her Toy Yorkie.
  • How July always smelled like shades of red.
  • How okra smells like sex before you cook it.

And a host of others I can’t recall at the moment (I’m sure they still haunt the nightmares I can’t remember). Throughout the day, I tried my best to avoid her. Trips to the restroom, striking up conversations with strangers, hiding within crowds of people, but she always managed to sniff me out and made other people uncomfortable to the point they drifted away and gave us space. I had been designated friend-of-mental and no one wanted any part of providing me shelter.

After the scene I was in wrapped for the day, I stood in line for one of the shuttle vans to take me from the set to base camp. Okra-Sex-Smell-Girl was nowhere in sight and as the van pulled up I thought I’d made my getaway. But the Transportation Captain held the van because there was still an available seat. I know I don’t need to tell you who the seat was next to, or who filled it.

Okra-Sex looked straight ahead. To my knowledge, her eyes never once fell on me. I was an entity that only existed in her peripheral vision. “Can you call my ex from your phone, please?” she asked.

What? No.” Okay, not the best response, but she blindsided me.

Please? I tried calling him but he won’t pick up the phone, probably because he recognizes my number. I think he’s still mad at me. I just want to make sure he’s okay because my friend threatened to beat him up.”

Call your friend and ask him if he beat up your ex.” Mystery solved. Columbo was on the case.

He wouldn’t tell me if he did. He knows I’d be upset.”

I shrugged an oh, well.

You’re not going to call?” She seemed genuinely surprised.

Nope. Not happening.” By this time I stopped looking at her, as well, figuring maybe the cold shoulder would silence her for the rest of the ride. As if.

Why not?”

Hmmm, because not my ex, not my problem?”

But he doesn’t know you. When he answers, just say you dialed the wrong number or something. Then tell me if he sounds beaten up or not.”

If he sounds beaten up. Under different circumstances, I might have let the exchange play out a little longer, but it had been a long day and I was both tired and hungry, so the best I could manage was, “What did I say? No? Then that’s what I meant,” before I officially checked out of the conversation.

Not that it mattered. Even without my participation, her side of the discussion continued without skipping a beat:

If you call, I won’t have to stop by his house tonight. You’d be doing me a big favor.”

You’re so mean.

Do you think I should just leave my ex alone?”

Well, you obviously don’t know what being in love is like.”

I’d do it for you. Do you have somebody you want me to call? Give me your phone, I’ll do it.”

And it went on like that for the entirety of the trip. When we reached our destination, she smiled, still not looking my way and said, “Thanks, for being sweet.” And maybe it was my imagination but as she walked away I thought I detected a spring in her step, like she’d made her decision on what needed to be done.

For at least a week afterward, I followed the local news for reports of a lover’s tiff gone horribly wrong in a room that reeked of sex… or maybe uncooked okra.

©2014 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

First Saturdays

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Hi, my name is Rhyan and I’m a movie addict.

And an insomniac.

Native New Yorker, born in Manhattan, raised in The Bronx, and because I inherited my mother’s transient nature, I’ve managed to live in each of the five boroughs. Poor as a skunk’s misery, a church mouse, Job, Lazarus, and dirt. Hell, I’m still poor, and most likely always will be.

The best thing about growing up without anything is that you learn to make the most of what you’ve got and distract yourself from what you haven’t got. My major distraction was television.

It was my babysitter, my tutor, and my secret friend that entertained me as the rest of the world slept. Its siren call would lure me into the living room, where I’d toss my blanket over the both of us so the light didn’t spill out of the room and give away my position. Then I’d plug my mono transistor radio earphone into the headphone jack and marvel at all the noir, horror and science fiction movies that played on CBS’ The Late Show, The Late Late Show, and The Late Late Late Show.

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I was always a wreck in school the following day, but man was it worth it.

The only thing that trumped this near nightly process was the first Saturday of the month. Like most poor folk, we were on welfare and this was before the Food Stamp bill was passed in 1970 which meant everything, rent, bills, and food monies arrived in the mailbox in one convenient check. The Saturday that followed check day was always considered my day. Wherever I wanted to go, wherever I wanted to play.

My playground of choice? 42nd Street. The first stop was Tad’s Steak House. Sure, the broiled steak was thin and more gristle than meat, the garlic bread was oilier than Brylcreem, the chocolate pudding coated with that yucky skin and a fountain Coke served in a large red plastic tumbler that smelled like the previous beverage it held… but to me, it was pure heaven.

42nd

Then my mother gestured at the movie theaters that lined both sides of the street and said the most perfect thing anyone could have said to me at the time, “You can see all the movies you can stay awake for.”

These were once majestic movie houses that slowly transformed during the decline of New York City starting in the late 50’s into grindhouse theaters before grindhouse was even a word. Each one ran three films, usually one current and the others whatever was on hand.

On these magic Saturdays, I tore through Roger Corman flicks, Hammer Films, the Toho tokusatsu imports and so much more. All uninterrupted viewing aside from the occasional mom hand that would clamp over my eyes during nude or sex scenes. Only when I started to nod off was it time to head home, despite my protestations.

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On the way home, we’d stop off at the Horn & Hardart automat and my mother would dump tokens into my hand and send me off to fetch dinner from the individual glass door compartments. Even though it was only plain food — sandwiches, beef stew, and the like — there was something about slotting coins and retrieving a prize that appealed to me.

Optimo

The final detour before reaching home was the Optimo Cigars shop that had a spinning wire rack of comic books where I’d select my month’s reading material.

I realize this may not seem like any great shakes to you, but it remains the only positive memory I have of my mother — too long and too personal a story to go into here — and I can’t think of a better way to honor the anniversary of her passing.

©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Alice: Reflections of a Looking Glass Friendship (true story allegory)

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“Of course it hurt that we could never love each other in a physical way. We would have been far more happy if we had. But that was like the tides, the change of seasons–something immutable, an immovable destiny we could never alter. No matter how cleverly we might shelter it, our delicate friendship wasn’t going to last forever. We were bound to reach a dead end. That was painfully clear.” ― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

They say you meet friends in the damnedest places when you aren’t looking for them and I thought this was utter nonsense until the day I found a friend in the reflection of a mirror. I know what you’re thinking and no, this isn’t a story about finally finding and befriending myself or coming into contact with the Supreme Intelligence that exists within me, because it wasn’t my reflection. This person, this woman who has no name as far as you’re concerned, that I will call Alice, stood beside the mirror version of myself, to the left. Always left of center. I should have taken that as a sign, but you never see the glaringly obvious without the benefit of hindsight, do you?

Before you mistake Alice for an imaginary friend, know that were I in a mirrorless room, I wouldn’t be able to communicate with her because she simply wouldn’t be there.

How she came to be trapped within mirrors is anyone’s guess and I doubt she truly knew herself, though whenever asked, she would always blame her fractured memory, splintered like the shards of glass of a shattered mirror that held incomplete images of her past.

She was fascinating in her way, Alice was. A brain filled with dark matter. Insecure to a fault. A high maintenance friend if ever there was one. Not only was she needy, self-absorbed to the exclusion of all else, devoid of a funny bonedespite the fact she claimed to have an excellent sense of humorbut she was also passive-aggressive and more than slightly obtuse when it came to the rules of the world that existed outside her own head. But as I said, fascinating in her own right.

It’s a shame that fascination wasn’t enough to carry through. I was determined in the beginning to plant our relationship in the soil of time, water it with patience and let it bask in the rays of understanding.

What sprang from the dirt wasn’t the flower of friendship, but the weeds of unwanted advice. It’s what broken people do, you see, they have an undying need to give others advice on how to fix themselves. I am by no stretch of the imagination a Bible scholar, but I am familiar with the passage:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

But I endured it. You ask me why? I couldn’t tell you. That’s what friends are for, I reckon. But then I started to notice that her reflection was dwarfing my own. She began taking up the majority space in the mirror, and I, trying to keep the peace had ignored the signs and allowed it to happen. My own fault, I plainly admit it.

But no more.

As I grow older, reluctantly wiser, and I reevaluate my life choices and take stock of my friends, I see with regard to the Alice matter that I will never get a decent return on my investment. Some people are a bad fit within their own skin as well as with other people.

Not long after, I noticed she wasn’t simply trapped within a mirror. Alice was actually trapped in a glass box of her own construction, caught within a mirror pocket dimension. And to add insult to injury, she was attempting to trap my reflection, and thereby me, inside one as well.

In the end, I did the only thing I could do, for she gave me no other choice. I placed her reflection in the only fitting place I could think of — my rearview mirror. The very last time I ever laid eyes on Alice, she was shrinking in the distance until she was little more than a dot on the horizon.

My sincerest wishes for her are to find her way out of her glass cage and strive to be more than a visual echo in the reflectors of others. But that first step begins with her. She has to want to be a real person, and I’m not sure she knows how.

In any event, adieu, Looking Glass Girl. Here’s not looking at you, kiddo. To the rest of you lot, go forth, make friends, and be mindful of mirror-lurkers.

©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Braiding Tales: We Built a World, Row by Row (a true story)

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“We gave the Future to the winds, and slumbered tranquilly in the Present, weaving the dull world around us into dreams.” ― Edgar Allan Poe, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt

I spent most of my early teens in the Bronx. The street I lived on, corner to corner, ran the length of three average city blocks and was the picture of diversity—the melting pot that New York had become famous for. It was all about migration. Italians were moving to new ground as black people nestled in and on their tail were Hispanics followed by West Indians. It was a neighborhood in transition where multi-cultures learn by cohabitation that differences in race didn’t make a person less human.

It was also the 70’s and I rocked a killer afro to end all ‘fros. Metal pronged afro pick with the handle clenched in a black power fist and a peace symbol carved out on the base, tucked in the back of my hair.

It drove my parents crazy. They rode my back constantly to get it cut but there was that preteen Samsonian fear that the strength of my personality—-my Madd-ness—-would be stripped away, were a barber to lay clippers on my precious locks. When I got the “as long as you’re living under my roof” speech, I knew I needed a solution and I needed it quick.

Enter: Cynthia Holloway. I mentioned my plight in passing and out of nowhere she offered to braid my hair into cornrows. So, we sat on the stoop of a private house and armed with only a comb and hair grease, Cynthia worked her nimble fingers like a loom.

She was one of those neighborhood girls that I’d never really spoken to before outside the odd hello. Not that there was anything wrong with her, she was simply a person that kept herself to herself. The type of person you’d have to make an effort to get to know.

It would take many years for me to become that type of person.

But in sitting with her I discovered she was both intelligent and imaginative, with interesting stories to tell. Her father was a retired Army Ranger colonel, who spent a great deal of his free time on the road in a jazz band.

I’m not sure how much of that was true. No one could ever remember seeing Cynthia’s dad, so maybe it was a story she invented to keep nosy kids at bay. Or perhaps it was one of the quiet lies that parents tell their children to spare them from the harsh realities of troubled marriages.

Since we had nothing but time to kill, we talked about our constricted home lives, mentioned the odd hobby, told a few jokes and had a couple of laughs, and when all the conversation wells had run dry, we told each other stories.

At the end of every month, when the braids began to look a little ratty, I’d take them out and Cynthia met me back on that stoop to repeat the process. And after a brief bit of catch-up, we’d go back to telling each other imaginary stories and without meaning to, wound up designing an illusory sanctuary from the burdens and pains of our everyday pre-teenage lives.

While we mentally terraformed our neighborhood row by cornrow, we got to know each other in those months as the monarchs of our fantasy world. We explored the surroundings, went on adventures, and basically forgot the world for a few hours a month.

Come the fifth month, I sat on the stoop and waited, my hair a wild crop of imagination waiting to be plowed, but Cynthia never showed. I later learned from a friend of a friend’s sister that she and her mother had moved away in the middle of the night without telling a soul where they were headed.

I tried to imagine all the possible reasons that would cause them to make a hurried escape under the cloak of twilight and seriously hoped it had nothing to do with her retired-Army-Ranger-colonel-jazz-band-dad. Nothing negative, anyway.

And yes, I eventually had no other choice than to submit to the butcher shop barbershop haircut. Much to my surprise, I managed to retain all of my Madd-ness afterward. I was still filled with my nerdy sameness and when I missed her a bit, I’d sometimes sit on the stoop and give an imaginary Cynthia updates on the latest goings-on in the world we created.

Thanks for humoring me as I wool-gathered.

PS. Cyn, if through some bizarre happenstance you should come across this, hit me up real quick. There’s a world in some need of serious upkeep.

Text and audio ©2013 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

I Put This Moment Here

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“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.” ― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

I have a memory like a sieve.  My recollections of the past come to me in flashes and snippets and I have to be mindful not to fall into one of the many great blank holes when traipsing around in half-forgotten yesterdays. Part of it is the result of a built-in self-defense mechanism, tamping down the harmful events that one never quite survives intact. The rest? Just plain negligence. I am a poor caretaker of retrospection.

And for a while, I wasn’t bothered by it. Then I reached a point in life when memories—–of love and pain and the whole damned thing—-became important because I found myself wanting to catalog my journey before I reached the end of the race (it’s always closer than you expect and they say you never see the finish line with your name on it).

But now, when I recount the tales of the various and sundry someones who impacted my life before blowing away like a leaf in the wind, someones whose names I used to be able to recite by rote, those names have now taken up permanent residence on the tip of my tongue but never so close as to venture past my lips.

I find that in order to remember a past event, I have to place it in a location that’s visible so that I don’t misplace it along with my keys and smartphone. I have chosen this place as the soil in which to plant my evaporating memories before they’re gone forever.

I put this moment here:

Of the girl that I fancied in the first grade whose name might have been Cheryl or Shirley but for some reason I remember it as “Squirrel,” whom I wrote about when the teacher asked the class to write about something we loved. And that selfsame teacher thinking it was so adorable that she took me to Squirrel’s class and made me read it aloud to her. You’re never too young to discover embarrassment.

I put this moment here:

Of the German woman who made me my first brown bag lunch for school that consisted of a healthy liverwurst sandwich which I enjoyed the taste of but stopped eating altogether after being teased at school by the other kids for eating dog food. It hurt her feelings and I wish I had a stronger conviction to continue eating the lunches she prepared with love.

I put this moment here:

Of the asexual woman I worked with at a car rental agency who looked like a young Peggy Lipton and lived in New Jersey. I remember riding the Path train to her house and we would regularly break dawn discussing her passion, serial killers. She didn’t own a television and instead had an impressive collection of serial killer and unsolved murder case books. I found her fascinating and in hindsight I suppose I’m lucky that I never went missing.

I put this moment here:

Of the woman I worked with at a banking institution, who I spent a bizarre New Year’s Eve with as we dropped tabs of acid that didn’t work and searched Manhattan for the perfect place to ring in the new year and ended up laying on the grass of Central Park making resolutions and wishing on stars for a better year to come.

Sometimes when my mind is idle, I struggle to recall the names of people and events trapped within synaptic pathways that withered from non-use, names and events I feel I should remember because of the emotions that linger despite the fact the memories have faded and recognition has faltered.

I lament the loss of these remembrances because they’re all a part of me and I’m afraid to learn the answer to what of myself will remain when all the memories have faded away.

Gather ye memories while ye may. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Text and audio ©2013 – 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

I Watched: Greyhound

In Greyhound, directed by Aaron Schneider, screenplay by and starring Tom Hanks, based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester, an inexperienced U.S. Navy captain must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by a Nazi U-boat wolfpack during World War II.

Only a few months after the United States officially entered World War II, US Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) receives his first war-time assignment aboard the destroyer USS Keeling, codenamed GREYHOUND, to deal with the problem of German U-boats disrupting convoys of supplies in the Mid-Atlantic gap between North American and Britain where shore-based military air support is sorely lacking. Accompanying Greyhound in the assignment to get the 37 Allied ship convoy safely to Liverpool are two British destroyers codenamed HARRY and EAGLE, and a Canadian Flower Class corvette codenamed DICKIE.

When the convoy is three days away from Liverpool, Greyhound sonar identifies an incoming U-boat closing in on the convoy and the destroyer prepares to intercept. The U-Boat is able to launch a single torpedo before the Greyhound fires a full pattern of depth charges. Luckily, the U-boat torpedo misses, and the Greyhound depth charges effectively destroys the U-boat.

Before the Greyhound crew can celebrate their victory, their sonar picks up multiple targets slowly approaching in the distance. A Wolf Pack of six U-boats are stalking the convoy, staying just out of firing range. Krause suspects the Wolf Pack is waiting for nightfall in order attack under the cloak of darkness.

When night falls, the U-boat attack commences and a number of passenger and freight ships are destroyed by torpedoes. Krause has sonar on a few of the U-Boats but chooses to rescue the survivors of the downed ships rather than engage the enemy. And after their successful attack, the U-boats pull back to a safe distance once again.

The following day, the U-boats mount another coordinated attack and the Greyhound crew are now being taunted by broadcasts from the lead captain of the Wolf Pack in an attempt to affect ship morale. During the Wolf Pack attack, the Greyhound is barely able to evade the torpedoes deployed against her but the Dickie and the Eagle, are less fortunate. The Dickie takes some damage but still seaworthy, the Eagle, however, eventually sinks. Through the combined efforts of the Greyhound and Dickie, another U-boat is destroyed but Krause’s destroyer is now down to only six depth charges and their ammunition is running low and the convoy is still two days away from Liverpool and not yet in range of air support.

What happens next? They would be telling, and you know I hate dealing out spoilers (somewhat) but you’re free to head over to AppleTV+ and find out all on your lonesome.

So, would I recommend Greyhound? I have to admit that based on the trailer, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the theater to see this, COVID-19 notwithstanding, but, surprisingly enough, yes, this gets a recommendation. In fact, of all the films I’ve watched over the past week, I enjoyed this one the most, which is saying a lot because I’m typically not a war film kind of guy. I think it’s because this film takes a different approach by placing us inside the Greyhound along with the crew through the entire skirmish. The adversaries remain faceless voices issuing taunts over the airwaves, and when convoy ships are destroyed it all happens at a distance. There are a few explosions, U-boat destruction is typically marked by oil slicks on the ocean’s surface and I believe there are only three scenes containing blood and they’re minimal at best. Unfortunately, also minimal is character development, though subtle Tom Hanks plays to his strengths in portraying an ordinary man facing extraordinary circumstances, and I’m a fan of Stephen Graham and Elisabeth Shue, even though they aren’t given much to do here.

Another thing Greyhound is lacking (and this time it’s a good thing) is that mid-movie slump. You know exactly what I’m talking about, when a film comes out the gate strong, then sags in the middle and has to ratchet up the action in the third act to get you interested again. I can safely say, once you’re aboard the Greyhound, your investment in the story and the outcome remains consistent throughout. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a very well-paced film and I’m impressed by Hank’s handling of the screenplay.

In closing, if you’re looking for the intense, high octane tension of a 1917 or Dunkirk, you should probably go watch 1917 or Dunkirk. Greyhound isn’t that sort of war film and it doesn’t have to be. But it most certainly is ninety minutes of streamlined sea battle that’s worthy of your viewing time.

Ciao til next now.

So, This Happened The Other Day: Lilith and The Freemasons

So this happened the other day…well, before I get into that let me paint the picture: the label on the tin of the place where I earn a paycheck reads, artisanal bakery but let’s call a spade a spade, it’s a bread factory, a business open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year that churns out bread daily and nightly.

Every flu season, the recent strain cuts a wide swath through employee attendance and the company needs to bring in agency temps who usually do the grunt work, schlepping and dividing containers of dough, shifting racks of shaped bread dough to the proofer for fermentation or refrigerator to slow the activity of the yeast, etc. The guy they paired me with was from Peru who spoke absolutely no English while I am equipped with the ghost memories of 7th-grade Spanish.

To give you an idea of how long ago that was, the US was in the midst of a Cold War, a Space Race, the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, an oil crisis and energy crisis, and Marvin Gaye’s single “Let’s Get It On” was the top of the charts.

I passed Spanish class by the seat of my pants. To say I half-assed it would have been generous, more like I 8th-assed it or better still 16th-assed it. The reason for refusing to embrace a new language was pure and simple childhood rebellion. Our 6th-grade teacher gave us a choice of learning French or Spanish when we returned after the summer recess and I chose the language of love. When I didn’t get the language of my choice I did the bare minimum to pass the class and quickly forgot it the moment school ended for summer vacation. That’ll show them! It’s funny how you never realize how childhood petty actions rob you, limit you, in so many ways.

But I digress.

My temp coworker for the day, despite the language barrier between us, was in a talkative mood so he asked me if I believed in vampiros. I tried to explain to him in my pidgin Spanish (assisted by hand signals and crude pictograms traced in rice flour on the tabletop) that I don’t believe in vampires, werewolves, ghosts, or even God for that matter but I wasn’t one of those radical hardcore atheists who gets in people’s faces about there being no transcendent will. I simply think we’re not smart enough to know our origins, arrogant enough to justify our existence, most certainly, but smart enough to know the truth? Sorry, not buying it. But, if your faith leads you to live a better existence and do no harm…good on you. I hope you’re right and in the end get the reward you deserve, because who knows? To quote the lyrical prophet, Billy Joel, “You may be correcto, I may be loco.”

Now, I’m not sure if he got all that but he smiled and nodded and when I was done, he kept repeating a word to me that I didn’t understand. Again and again he said it, more patiently than I would have been in his situation until the word began to make sense. It was a name: Lilith. Once I clued in, he proceeded to tell me about the primera esposa of Adán in the jardín del Edén.

When Adam lamented on his loneliness in Eden, Dios made for him a mujer like himself, from the tierra. God named her Lilith and presented her to Adam but they began to quarrel about everything, including sexo. Lilith, creado from the earth the same as Adam said, “We are both equal,” and would not give in to his demands.

Shortly after, Lilith deserted Adam, who immediately began to orar to his Creator, saying: “Maestro del universo, the woman that you gave me has fled.” God sent three UFOs (no, that’s not some atheistic typo, my coworker did not believe in angels) and said to them, “Bring back Lilith.”

The three UFOs found her in the sea at the place where the Egyptians were destined to drown. They said to her, “If you will not go with us, we will drown you in the sea.”

Lilith replied, “God created me to weaken infants from the moment of their birth until the eighth day in boys and the twelfth day in girls. After that, I have no dominion over them. I know my purpose, so I know you will not drown me.”

The UFOs told her that if she didn’t return with them, she will be filled with the desire to mate and bare a legion of children and each day one hundred of her children would die. As she couldn’t bring herself to return to Adam, she accepted her fate. And as the UFOs who turned against God’s grace crashed to earth, Lilith mated with them and bore many demons, one hundred of which died as the sun set each day.

When Adam and his new mate, Eva, began propagating the human species, Lilith turned her attention away from the UFOs and began seducing both men and woman alike, becoming the world’s first vampire. But she wasn’t driven by a constant hunger for sangre, she was fuel by a constant need of sex. She didn’t have to bite her victims to gain their compliance, the feromonas she secreted any living thing equipped with a sex drive.

My coworker traced “666” in the rice flour and asked me what it was. I asked, “The mark of the beast,” to which he shook his head. He explained that “666” was really “www” as in the world wide web. The internet was evil and was created by Lilith to lead humans astray. Also, “Satan” wasn’t a being, it was an office run by Lilith, and the serpent in the garden was none other than Lilith, who instead of tempting Eve with fruit, seduced Adam’s second wife into an asunto lesbico that opened her eyes to the truth.

My coworker swore that this was all true. The original Hebrew writings were revealed to him when he became a member of the Freemasons in Peru, writings that were subsequently changed by the Greeks to cover up the terrifying truth that Lilith still walks among us claiming victims each day.

And I could tell it was a topic he was extremely interested and invested in because he talked about it for the entirety of our shift. Definitely a twist in the sobriety of my normal working day.

I wonder what surprises are in store for me next flu season?

©2019 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

BABASIOTAAM (Blogging About Befriending Absolute Strangers In Order To Attract A Mate)

In the year when Kosovo declared its independence, China cracked down on protesting Tibetan Monks, Beijing hosted the Olympic Games and Barack Obama was busy running for President, I was calculating the odds of my dying alone.

Not that I mind being alone, hell, I’m about the only person on the planet that actually enjoys my company after the bloom has fallen from the rose. But there was this odd, hollow feeling in the center of my chest, something I had never experienced before. I believe you humans call it loneliness.

The cure was obvious, I’d have to make an effort to meet another living being on purpose, but because I am me and I have never ever ever been known to do things the easy way—ha! like there’s an easy way—I decided to turn the process into a social experiment to find out if women were actually attracted to intellect—yes, I’m presuming to possess an adequate level of intelligence—or if they were just as shallow as they claimed men to be. So, I joined a free online dating site.

I began a campaign I called BABASIOTAAM, which was short for Blogging About Befriending Absolute Strangers In Order To Attract A Mate, where I posted outrageous and fictitious stories as bait to reel in enquiring minds and open up a line of communication. This might sound a bit odd to you but it actually worked, the problem was my stories (all presented as facts) attracted both women and men who would then debate my postings until they erupted into flame wars, so I eventually abandoned the project.

But in the midst of my botched brilliant idea to attract a mate, I did actually manage to go on a few dates—or at least meet up with a few women in the flesh. The first was SxxQit10 who responded to my initial post on how sometimes the media can implant racist notions unbeknownst to consumers:

            SxxQit10: Credit given for recognizing the thoughts as irrational and wrong. There are an awful lot of people with the same thoughts who think they’re perfectly rational and acceptable. Sad world we live in. Wanna chat? PM me.

Since that post, we had exchanged a few emails, nothing steamy, no cybering or anything of that nature, mostly icebreaker chitchat. Then she stepped up her game by IMing me.

SxxQit10: Hi! Do you have time to chat?

Me: Sure, I was just answering your email.

SxxQit10: Great. Thanks for writing by the way. You’re bold. 🙂 I like that.

Me: What’s the sense in joining the site if you don’t attempt to make a new connection?

SxxQit10: Oh you might be surprised! Are you new to this?

Me: The online thing? Yeah, pretty new to it. The worst you could have said was “Get lost!” I’m thick-skinned

SxxQit10: 🙂 I’m one of the polite ones. I believe in responding politely and staying human. Sorry if you’ve recently been through something unpleasant.

Me: Nothing recent.

SxxQit10: Oh good for you! Most guys jump on here within days of the end of their relationship. You were smart to wait. To me, that’s a real indication of character. If you can’t be alone, you’ll become too dependent and that’s not healthy for a relationship. Anyway, I’m not going to preach! 😉 You’re a smart guy and know all this stuff I’m sure.

Me: Fortunately, I enjoy my own company. So, has this online worked out for you?

SxxQit10: Well it has worked and not worked. It’s been ok. I’ve met some wonderful men on here who have become friends. I’m also on several others and they’re all about the same.

Me: Don’t knock friends, they’re a rare commodity these days.

SxxQit10: Oh gosh, I never do! There’s a guy I met on here who I have to say is one of my best friends. Two actually.

Me: So, what stops these guys from being “the right one” I mean, if you believe in that sort of thing.

SxxQit10: I do believe in it. Geeze… let’s see. Where do I begin? Duncan lives in South Carolina. That about sums that up! LOL Jerry is a bit new to the dating scene and is more interested in sowing some oats (my humble opinion). His wife cheated on him and he’s really enjoying being the single bachelor. We had the option of being “friends with benefits” I suppose, but I can’t do that. I get too emotionally involved and that’s a big set up for heartache.

Me: I didn’t mean to get too personal, I’m just inquisitive by nature. Please feel free to tell me to mind my own business at any time.

SxxQit10: That’s funny. I was just going to apologize for going too deep. I have a tendency to do that. I ask LOTS of questions too but I’m an open book. No secrets and if I didn’t want to talk about something I’d be honest about it. You can ask me anything you like. 🙂

Me: Good, we share that. If I ever cross a line, just let me know. Guaranteed, it was unintentional.

SxxQit10: I promise and likewise, OK?

Me: So, since you only seem to find friends online, do you venture out into the real world dating scene?

SxxQit10: Real world dating scene? Is there one? Ha. I only know of bars I guess but I’m not a bar-going type per se. Then there’s the workplace, but at this point, it’s a dry well.

Me: While I can appreciate a good pub with friends, it isn’t the ideal place to find a mate. So, what do you do with your time when you’re not out finding peace in massage therapy or busting a gut at a Marx Brother flick?

SxxQit10: Hmmmmm… I do love movies. I read, I write, I play with my son, I belong to a theatre workshop in NYC and we’re trying to get something going. I love to walk in the woods, take photos, live music and theater when I can. I’m currently up for a new job in NYC. If I land that, I’ll be moving a tad bit closer for commuting purposes and upgrading my life a bit.

Me: I was about to ask you about the theatre group. Good luck with the job. If you do produce something and if it’s local, let me know. I support the arts, naturally.

SxxQit10: I sure will and thanks! You know I have to say 95% match is unheard of. I don’t know what it means (after all I agree with you about those awards, complete bs). Have you filled out a lot of tests or something?

Me: No, I haven’t done the tests yet (still new to this) but I plan on it.

SxxQit10: You can look at my tests and click on a link to any of those if you fancy them.

Me: I guess if I’m going to do this, might as well go whole hog. Tests, journals and the like.

SxxQit10: I’ve stayed away from the journal for some reason. Not sure why.

Me: I’m surprised, open book like yourself.

SxxQit10: I guess I don’t want random people in my head. It’s crowded enough in there already!!! And most men probably wouldn’t like what I said on there and that would ruin my already sketchy chances!

Me: Not even room for one more?

SxxQit10: There’s always room for one more! LOL

Me: Good. The sound of knocking you hear is me. Open the door at your convenience.

SxxQit10: Enter! That reminds me of The Sunshine Boys. Come in, and ENTER!

Me: Sunshine Boys? You really do like movies!

SxxQit10: Like you have NO idea.

Me: You and I are going to be friends for life, as long as movies exist.

SxxQit10: Fantastic! I’ve been desperate for a good movie-buddy! Where are you from originally?

Me: Manhattan born and bred. Lived in all five boroughs, currently residing in Staten Island. Ick.

SxxQit10: Why there then. BTW – grew up in Hell’s Kitchen myself. Been in NJ since 1989.

Me: Moved to Staten Island because that’s where the job is. Ferry commuting was a pain.

SxxQit10: Ah. I believe it. What’s the job?

Me: I work for a tattoo company, creating and licensing tattoo artwork.

SxxQit10: Seriously?

Me: Yup.

SxxQit10: How many do you have personally?

Me: Not a one. It’s my job, not my lifestyle.

SxxQit10: Whoa. Would you care if I had one?

Me: Not at all. Do you?

SxxQit10: Yes, a map of postwar Europe across my entire back… just kidding…

Me: Awww, that would have rocked!

SxxQit10: ROFL You are funny.

Me: Nope, you’re just an easy crowd.

SxxQit10: I have two. A Celtic heart about the size of a plum at the base of my neck and a small dragonfly on my shoulder.

Me: You also referenced dragonflies in your profile. Any significance?

SxxQit10: The dragonfly is very important to me. It was my spiritual totem during the hardest part of my life. My divorce. If you believe in that sort of thing. I’m a very spiritual but don’t subscribe to any religion. I’m very open to all things. There’s a cool story to all that, but I’ll save it for another time.

Me: Sigh. Typical woman. Always holding out on the good stuff.

SxxQit10: Oh no!

Me: Oh yes

SxxQit10: Gosh, I’d hoped you’d never say those words about me! Nothing typical about me. But I guess I’m wrong… sigh… sob…

Me: Dry your tears, youngling. You can still grow from this…

SxxQit10: The story is better in person anyway.

Me: Sounds like an invitation

SxxQit10: I guess it is. Interested?

Me: Always.

SxxQit10: Ok then. I have to ask this… please don’t be a freak. Not sure I can take another unsuspected freakshow. 😉

Me: “Freak”… hmmm. No, not a freak. But like yourself, not typical. And it doesn’t have to be immediate. You can suss me out a bit before a real-life meeting.

SxxQit10: That’s OK. We can’t be expected to tolerate the typical in a friendship or potential relationship. And that’s very cool of you to say. Already tells me you’re not a freak.

Me: Ask me all those questions that the Feds use to flush out lunatics.

SxxQit10: I don’t know any of them? What are they? Do you floss? LOL Do you wear your underwear on your head?

Me: Did you ever pull the wings off flies as a kid?

SxxQit10: Oh right!

Me: Only when I’m drunk, does that count?

SxxQit10: Ha. No. It doesn’t count. I don’t think I ever did that. But… I might have held a magnifying glass on an ant or two.

Me: Whew! Good…I’m still in the running. You burned ants? Murderer!

SxxQit10: : ( I know. Why are kids so cruel? To animals, each other… I don’t get it. Just pushing the boundaries of right and wrong I suppose.

Me: Actually, I rolled ants into my Silly Putty ball thinking I could open it up and retrieve them later.

SxxQit10: I love it! Silly Putty! Wasn’t that the best?

Me: I loved Silly Putty.

SxxQit10: I have an 8-year-old son.

Me: I was just about to ask.

SxxQit10: He lives primarily with his Dad and Stepmom about 5 miles from me. I have him 2 days a week and alternate weekends.

Me: Is he happy?

SxxQit10: He seems extremely happy and well adjusted.

Me: It’s a sign. Good. Are you happy? With the arrangement, I mean.

SxxQit10: I was separated almost 6 years ago. There’s a big story, well, not big but emotional story about how things fell out, but all in all I am happy with things. As long as Charlie (my son) is thriving and happy. That’s all that matters. He’s a bright, beautiful child. I think he may be a writer someday.

Me: Excellent. The world needs more writers. Well, you seem very fortunate. I’m happy for you. Thanks. I feel fortunate.

SxxQit10: Have you noticed we’ve answered most all of our questions with the same answer?

Me: I’m sure that once I start answering more questions, the algorithm is going to affect my Match percentages, but yes, our basic questions are on track with one another. And I’m glad. It convinced you to chat with me this afternoon.

SxxQit10: I don’t think it convinced me, but I’m pretty amazed. It’s unusual.

Me: Hopefully, I’ve made a new friend.

SxxQit10: You definitely have! : )

Me: Even though you’re probably one of those freaks you mentioned earlier (which is fine, but please don’t be a 65-year-old man toying with people on the internet). Ick, that thought gives me the chills

SxxQit10: Hysterical. Just FYI. My pics are current (the one with my hair in my hands is about a year old) and my information is perfectly honest. I could never lead with a lie. So my advice to you (to assist you on this online dating roller coaster) is to get a couple more pictures up (a full length or close) and complete the rest of your description. It will help you land lots of chicks! 😉 and… Call me Irving. Bahahahahahah!

Me: Yeah, that’s me the “lots-of-chicks” magnet.

SxxQit10: Well, why wouldn’t you be?

Me: I knew it! Irv the perv! Ha! That’s going to be your pet name from now on. No one will know why!

Me: Oh, you know it! I am Irv for as long as I know you!

SxxQit10: So why don’t you think you’re a chick magnet?

Me: I grow on people. I’m the type you have to get to know.

SxxQit10: Like fungus?

Me: Exactly

SxxQit10: : )  Damn. I have a mold allergy. Are you shy? You don’t seem so.

Me: You’ll get a little sneezy at first but it’ll run its course and you’ll adapt to me in time. I’m an ok kind of fungus.

SxxQit10: Cool. Do you have a spiritual practice of any kind? Meditation, etc. I’m just curious, reading your profile again. Your talk of “ego” made me ask.

Me: Sometimes I’m shy, sometimes I’m not.

SxxQit10: I understand. Do you get out a lot?

Me: I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination. I do love theology, though, especially the apocypha and psuedepigrapha… as far as spirituality… I am open to there being a force in the Universe.

SxxQit10: Same here. Exactly.

Me: I’ve started going out socially last year.

SxxQit10: How was it?

Me: Interesting, but nothing to write home about. Mostly wine-tastings (I’m a beer guy) and movies, a few dinners here and there.

SxxQit10: Well, we’re going to change that. I don’t mean me necessarily, but I can help you. I’m almost an expert on women and relationships… after all, I’m a woman and have been in a few relationships! What’s your favorite beer?

Me: Dogfish Head IPA 120

SxxQit10: I’m a wine-chick. Wine and tequila, but I stay away from tequila now…

Me: Tequilla!!!

SxxQit10: Ah Dogfish Head, yes…

Me: Oh, tequilla bad…I see.

SxxQit10: Yeah, Tequila… makes me do things…

Me: Yes!

SxxQit10: ha.

Me: Underwear on the head!

SxxQit10: More like no shirt in the street…

Me: You absolutely rock.

SxxQit10: It was a long time ago. It was very late and there wasn’t anyone else around… REALLY!!! And yes, I do absolutely rock.

Me: Shirtless Irv!

SxxQit10: That’s great!

Me: Irvs Gone Wild! I’d buy that video.

SxxQit10: I’m in the editing room now. Oh, did I mention I used to edit video for a living?

Me: Really? Why’d you give it up?

SxxQit10: I gave it up to be a full-time Mom, but that got sidetracked. It’s another long story for a face to face. There’s a lot to you isn’t there? You’re complex and deep aren’t you?

Me: Deep as a puddle

SxxQit10: Pish Tosh, I don’t believe it!

Me: I’m humble and lovable.

SxxQit10: That’s ok, you’re not boasting but I was asking. Why are you lovable? Your opinion matters!

Me: I don’t know. Can you find yourself lovable?

SxxQit10: Maybe after too many long nights alone in the woods…

Me: with tequilla

SxxQit10: Ha Ha!

Me: Shirtless With The Wolves

SxxQit10: I’m cracking up.

Me: So, what keeps you in on a Saturday afternoon? Why aren’t you out breaking hearts?

SxxQit10: I am, but I can do it remotely. Or remotely do it? Ummmm. I’m writing. I rarely get a free Saturday and I’ve been trying to get this play past my block/wall/stuck-point. I’m never on this site for more than 5 mins at a time and how long have we been at this today?

Me: An hour at least. Am I keeping you from writing?

SxxQit10: Actually no. I signed on here to take a break but never expected it to last this long!

Me: Well, I’m flattered.

SxxQit10: Are you a sports fan at all?

Me: Fan? No. I watch a bit of boxing and UFC and the occasional rugby match, but not a diehard fan. You?

SxxQit10: I go back and forth. Rugby, now that I would watch. You seem to have a more than average European sensibility. Is that true? I grew up a diehard Yankee fan but watching baseball bores me unless you’re at the game. I like watching football, but I never seem to have the time. I’d rather play sports than watch them.

Me: Last time I was at a baseball game, I was 4, rooting for the Mets. I am a bit of an Anglophile (I devour a lot of Brit telly and film)

SxxQit10: I like that about you.

Me: A friend has a British ISP so I get to watch a great deal of Telly when the BBC posts them.

SxxQit10: BBC is the best. I knew that when I was twelve or was it 8?

Me: There was a Scottish sitcom called “Still Game” that was hilarious. Developing an ear for the language was fun.

SxxQit10: Yay, Scots!

Me: Yay, Scots, indeed! Every year I watch the Hogmanay celebration

SxxQit10: I love my Scottish heritage. I’ve always wanted to go. I got close, made it to London and Dublin, but couldn’t get to Scotland! : (

Me: So, Miss Play-Writer’s-Block, what’s your play about?

SxxQit10: Sad people, alcoholics, judgment, facades, you know… it’s children’s theatre.

Me: Alcoholic kids? I’m in! One ticket, please!

SxxQit10: It’s about a bar in Clifton, NJ and the regulars who are well… regular. It’s an examination of that lifestyle and the relationships that extend from that.

Me: Sounds simple enough. Where are you stuck at?

SxxQit10: Um… I always get stuck at the end of the “first act” not literally separated by acts, but more the first large chunk. And last night or recently…? I came up with a plan to scale that wall. A big decision about the dynamic that takes the piece in a new direction, but a good one.

Me: Need help? I don’t profess to be great, but I could offer assistance… maybe. Or not. Your call

SxxQit10: That’s OK. I’m really shy about my writing. I appreciate the offer tho!

Me: Fine. Didn’t mean to intrude.

SxxQit10: You didn’t!

Me: Rejected. Unloved. Unwanted.

SxxQit10: I really am shy about my writing. I didn’t even show anyone for 10 years!

Me: Fine, offer up whatever excuse you have to.

SxxQit10: Question: everybody on this site lies about their weight, so how much weight would you like to lose. I’ve got about 20 to lose.

Me: 20’s a good target for me. 30 and I’d be a Greek God!

SxxQit10: Which Greek God?

Me: The fat one. Porkulus.

SxxQit10: ROFL! That is funny. Good one. Man, I like your humor.

Me: Nope, you’re an easy crowd.

SxxQit10: No but see, I’m really not!

Me: Then thank you for lowering your standards for the sake of this chat. Humble! That’s me.

SxxQit10: More like Humbug! 😉

Me: Used to pluck the wings off humbugs when I was a kid. Callback!

SxxQit10: I thought that was handbags? or handsaw? Anyway, now I’m on a real tangent~

Me: I don’t do handbags, sweetie…I carry a murse.

SxxQit10: Murse?!!!! Hahahahah! I need some tea.

Me: I fellow tea drinker…nice.

SxxQit10: Would you mind if I excused myself for a min or two? You can tell me more about your life story if you like. At least tell me what kind of writing you do?

Me: Sure, go do your thing.

SxxQit10: Thanks, back!

Me: Well, about the only things I haven’t written (read as:  Completed) are a play and a novel.

SxxQit10: So what are you waiting for?

Me: I used to write and publish my own comic books (don’t laugh, it’s a mode of storytelling)

SxxQit10: Don’t they call them graphic novels?

Me: Yeah, now they’re graphic novels, when I did them they were comics.

SxxQit10: OK, so comic books, writer, shy, loves the BBC, movies… I’m painting a picture here.

Me: I also write short stories, some of which have been published

SxxQit10: Are these science fiction stories perhaps????

Me: Now I write screenplays, some of which I self-direct and other that I submit into competitions.

SxxQit10: Very cool!

Me: Some are science fiction. most are speculative fiction.

SxxQit10: Speculative Fiction? Like Neal Stephenson? Is that what you’d call him? Dunno.

Me: Yes, and Harlan Ellison and the like.

SxxQit10: So… are you impressed???

Me: By you? When I first read your profile. Stop fishing for compliments.

SxxQit10: You already know me so well! So you must know who Eddie Izzard is, right?

Me: Yes, I know Eddie Izzard, in fact, he was recently in the BBC TV remake of Day of the Triffids.

SxxQit10: Really? I’m a big fan of EI. How often do you get into the city?

Me: Usually whenever there’s an event, but I’m always open for traveling. I don’t hang in Staten Island.

SxxQit10: Would you be up for meeting for tea on Sunday?

Me: Sure, why not?

SxxQit10: Cool.

Me: Wait, are you sure I’m not a freak?

SxxQit10: No, I’m not, but this is the only way I’ll know for sure.

Me: Risk taker… nice.

SxxQit10: My theatre group starts at 5: 30. I can come in anytime before that. Not so much risk taker as incurable curious nature.

Me: Name a time and place that’s convenient for you.

SxxQit10: tea… tea… um… how is The Russian Tea Room? Just kidding. Are you a Starbucks hater?

Me: No love, no hate. We can do it.

SxxQit10: I think there’s one around times square (huh, ya think?) that would be good for me and easy for you to get to.

Me: Don’t worry about me. What’s good for you?

SxxQit10: That is good for me. (see above) What time is good for you?

Me: I’m open. You’re the one with time constraints.

SxxQit10: Let’s say 1? Does that work for you?

Me: Sure. 1:00pm in the general vicinity of Times Square

SxxQit10: I know there is one on 42nd closer to 8th than 7th and on the north side of the street, but I think there is also one on 43rd and 8th. Either one is fine. Wow – that’s tomorrow, isn’t it?

Me: It doesn’t have to be tomorrow, Missy Rushy-Pants

SxxQit10: Yes it does. Monday my carriage turns back into a pumpkin

Me: I’ll help you roll the pumpkin back to your house, Cinders.

SxxQit10: No. I’d much rather it be sooner than later. Am I rushing you? We don’t have to if you’re at all uncomfortable.

Me: I understand. Inspect the goods, see if it’s worth your time.

SxxQit10: No. That’s not it really.

Me: You writers are all alike.

SxxQit10: I think it might dictate the direction of our friendship, but you already are worth my time, silly.

Me: That’s what they all say.

SxxQit10: Who’s “they”?

Me: Them. You. You know.

SxxQit10: The infamous them.

Me: The rest of the planet.

SxxQit10: Well, that’s not us.

Me: So Irv, in order to facilitate this brush-off meeting, do you want my phone number or is that too forward? I don’t want to send you screaming.

SxxQit10: Oh you’re funny. Yes, let’s exchange phone numbers in case the train breaks down or some other thing. I don’t scream usually. I’m human.

SxxQit10: You always have the option of screaming and running yourself.

Me: I’m far too polite for that

SxxQit10: OK then we’ll both be stuck there desperately wanting to run, but not being able to because we’re both so damned polite! Nice. Funny.

Me: Nah, it’ll be fine. We can walk and chat and it’ll be fine.

SxxQit10: I think we’ve been chatting for almost 3 hours. That’s crazy. I could continue but I should get back to the play.

Me: Not a problem. I don’t want to keep you from work.

SxxQit10: Can I call you later?

Me: Sure, anytime.

SxxQit10: OK. Maybe after dinner time?

Me: Fine. I’ll be looking forward to it.

SxxQit10: Me too. Talk to you later then?

Me: Sounds like a plan. Now go write your play so you can show me the completed first act, shy writer.

Sure enough, ‘round about dinner time, the young lady calls and we proceed to engage in another three-plus hour conversation about absolutely nothing. She was a bit more skilled in the game than I was. For every two bits of useless topics or jokes, she’d ask a question to size me up. Did I have hair? How many children by how many different women? How much do you drink? Do you have a temper? Can you solve Goldbach’s conjecture? Okay, maybe not the last one, but she had her list prepared, and I didn’t call her on it. I suppose a woman meeting an internet stranger has to be cautious.

Come the day of the flesh meet and long story short… there was no chemistry. Politeness. Light conversation. And that was all she wrote. Guess algorithms can’t match everything, huh?

Other uneventful dates included an actual rocket scientist obsessed with blueberries and the Frazier TV show, a nature hiker who loved squirrels just a bit too much and a Mensa member who constantly tried to downplay her intelligence because of her mother’s deep-rooted conditioning.

Unlucky at blogging, unlucky at love, as the saying goes.

©2008 & 2019 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

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