Tag Archives: Weird Story

On Magic Tricks, Pine Furniture, Hairlice, Marketing, and Hybrid Bikes

Today found me searching online for possible freelance jobs. While perusing the various advertisments, I happened upon a post looking for someone to write two five-hundred-word articles on each of the following topics:

Magic Tricks
Pine Furniture
Hybrid Bikes

I am sorely tempted to respond, saying that I will write one kickass five-hundred-word article incorporating all five topics. In fact, I’ve already written it. It goes like this:

Bruno the Magician needed to improve his act. He had the magic trick—he could turn hybrid bikes into pine Barcaloungers with just a little eye of newt and some hairlice. However, he usually had to steal the hybrid bikes, and while Bruno wasn’t the most cleanly of magicians, he did not at the moment have hairlice. Somehow, he had to find a way to get the bikes and the lice in one place. He also required an audience, as what magician wants to perform such a feat with no one to watch.

Bruno, old boy, he thought to himself, you need to find a marketing consultant. So Bruno got in touch with the guy who sold his pine Barcaloungers and asked him about how he advertised his wares.

“Oh, I go ACME Marketing up the street,” he said. And so Bruno stole his last bike, bought some hairlice from his usual connection, and with his eye of newt went up the street to ACME Marketing. There, he told the marketing consultant of his woes and showed him the trick.

Upon viewing such a magical transformation, the marketing guru cried, “Genius! You simply must continue to transform hybrid bikes into pine furniture. If you will just sign here and give me $500, I will be able to provide you with a marketing plan.”

Now Bruno was not a rich man, but since he did not want to wind up in jail (the signs for missing hybrid bikes were clogging the telephone poles around town, and the cops were on the lookout for the mystery thief), he decided to sign the papers and fork over the money.

“Excellent,” the ACME Marketing consultant said. “Now here’s the secret: Recycling. You convince people who were about to trade in their hybrid bikes that they would rather recycle them instead of junk them. In return for the bike and a small fee, they get a pine Barcalounger, or they can get a percentage from the proceeds of the sale of said pine Barcalounger. That way, you won’t piss off your dealer friend, and you’ll still get some money.”

Bruno the Magician smiled, “Yes, yes,” he said. “That’s just the thing. Recycling. I wonder why I didn’t think of it. There’s just one more thing. Where do I get the hairlice?”

While the ACME Marketing consultant was tempted to charge Bruno more for the advice, he really liked the trick and decided to help the magician.

“I know. You perform you magic trick at a school. School children are filthy beasts, and one of them almost always has hairlice. So you get a group of hybrid bike owners ready to surrender their bikes, schedule a magic show, and presto! You’ll do your trick and stay out of jail!”

So happy was Bruno that he could have kissed the ACME Marketing consultant. “Perfect! I’ll start advertising today! How can I ever thank you?”

“Well,” the ACME Marketing consultant said, “I could always use a pine Barcalounger.”

I think I’ll send the man my story and see what he thinks. I could make fifty bucks!

Mmmmm Doggies! The 89 Bus to Outer Space!

Yesterday evening, I caught the 89 bus to meet up with Date in Davis Square. As I tapped my card, the bus driver called out, “Good Evening! Thank you for riding the T! Doors are closing!”

Startled a bit, I said thanks and took a seat near the front. Another rider pressed the stop button, and even though the mechanical voice registered the request, she called out, “Stop coming! Woo hoo! We’re riding now!”

As she jerked the bus to a halt at the next stop, she thanked every rider. “Thank you, folks, for riding the T! Doors are closing! Mmmmm doggies! We’re riding now! Yahoo!”

I looked around the bus at the other riders. Many wore nervous smirks. Was this the bus to Davis Square, or an alien abduction? “Yes, indeed, folks! We are riding!”

“The bus driver is insane,” I texted to Date. Next text, “She keeps saying whoo doggies! And then she thanks us for taking the t.” I kept looking around. A few riders shrugged their shoulders. Language barriers tumbled down. Amusement registered everywhere.

The bus driver kept it up. “Mmmmm! Doggies! Yahoo! We’re riding. Eighty-nine to Davis Square! Thank you for riding the T! Next stop coming! Bus connections!”

A decided freak she was, but the thing is, people started responding kindly to her. A rider sitting next to me got off the bus at Winter Hill and thanked her for the ride. “My pleasure. People ain’t got no manners these days. I always say thank you. Thank you, folks, for riding the T! Mmmm doggies! Yes, we are moving now!”

She kept this up all the way Davis, where everyone thanked her profusely as they got off the bus. What a fun trip to outer space.


Robyn’s post marking the anniversary of Patsy Cline’s death earlier this week sent me on a little trip down memory lane.

My roommate in graduate school was a poetry student. Unlike we historians, who spent hours in dusty archives (well, I was a modernist, so I usually got to just hang out in special collections), painstakingly analyzing fragments of the past, the poets would sit down with a bottle of wine and write a little poem. “All done!” they’d say and keep right on drinking. It just wasn’t right.

Don’t get me wrong—my roommate was an astoundingly good poet, and I’ve been keeping a lookout for her first published book, but still, I harbored a great deal of acrimonious resentment because she actually had a life as a grad student. This one particular evening, though, I got to experience that life, and after that, I never resented special collections again.

It was a November evening, and the first blizzard of the year raged outside (yes, it still snowed in those days). A bunch of the poets braved the elements to come over to our place to hang out and do what poets do. Innumerable bottles of red wine, not to mention glasses of single-malt, later we decided that we needed to get out of the house. In a blizzard. Ill-advised though it was, one of the poets got his car running. “There won’t be anyone on the road, anyway,” he slurred. “Besides, we’re just going down to Durgin’s. It’ll be fine.”

“We’re going to Durgin’s?” my roommate and I asked as we stumbled through the snow to the waiting car. Durgin’s was a nasty little watering hole frequented by the “locals” in our college town. Many of the locals sported gaping holes where teeth were supposed to be, and we suspected inbreeding in at least a few cases. Roommate and I exchanged dubious glances, but since we were both very compliant drunks, we sighed, shook our heads, and got in the car along with the other poets. “Hey, we’re a bunch of clowns!” someone said. “We should film this.”

Down, down, down the steep hill we slid in the storm. The driver was yelling a lot, but otherwise, he seemed to be in reasonable control. Giggling, roommate and I held our arms up like we were on a rollercoaster. “Weeeeeeee!” Two minutes later, the car parked somewhat precariously near the bar, we stumbled our way through the snow and into Durgin’s.

We weren’t prepared.

I looked to my left, and I saw Roy Orbison. He was holding a guitar and singing the theme from American Tale (“Somewhere out there! Beneath the pale moonlight…”) as a duet with a stringy-haired blonde woman. Fear coursed through Roommate and me, as clearly we had entered another, distinctly unpleasant, dimension. After the initial shock, we took comfort in the bewildered looks of the poets—if we were hallucinating, at least it was a collective vision. Our driver caught on first. “Ah,” he said, sagely nodding and wiping the snow off his feet, “It’s karaoke night.”

“Yeah, but is that Roy Orbison?” one of the poets asked.

“This is really weird,” Roommate and I said at the same time.

“It’ll be fine,” the driver said. “Let’s go grab a seat back here.” We walked past Roy and stringy-haired lady as they were crooning about dreams coming true and headed around the bar to the tables in the back. Did I mention that everyone in the place was staring at us like we were the Huns?

We found an empty table behind a divider that effectively blocked the karaoke stage. This made us feel better, and we sat down. A waitress came over and took our orders for beers and various other concoctions. Although everything was still really strange, we took comfort in our libations and began to relax and chat drunkenly about life in general and the beauty of the snow falling outside in particular. We were very pleased to have gotten out of the house.

In our drunken revelry, it seems we forgot about the karaoke. The karaoke had not forgotten us. All of the sudden, the music for “Crazy” started playing and from around the divider separating us from the stage slinked a thing. This thing was a very tiny woman, probably not even four-eight, wearing a seafoam green sweatsuit and tube socks. Her eyes bugged out of her tiny head. Her hair was cinched up in a cock-eyed ponytail, but she sang like she was Pasty Cline at the Grand Ole Opry. And she twisted and moved and stared intently at us, beckoning us to join her in her world. It was the single most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen.

“Oh my god!” shouted one of the poets! “What is that thing? Make it go away!”

I was grabbing the table. “What’s happening?” I whimpered to Roommate.

“I don’t know,” she whispered.

The woman kept doing her snaky dance and singing “Crazy.” She wouldn’t stop. How long can this song last? I thought nervously. I didn’t need to. Our driver grabbed Roommate’s hand and yelled, “Let’s get out of here!” to the rest of us. Drinks spilled in our wake as we dodged the beckoning singer. Everyone stared blankly after us as we ran out of the bar and into the blizzard. No one breathed until we’d wound our way back up the hill and arrived safely home. We were exhausted by the effort, but no one dared to sleep. We just kept asking ourselves what on Earth had just happened.

And after that, no one spoke of that evening again.