Disclaimer

December 18, 2008

    This feature contains certain forward-looking statements, such as “could,” “might,” “in the event of,” “assuming that,” “I desperately want,” and “kill George Smitherman,” and does not constitute an offer to sell securities.  Please remember that options involve risk and should not be handled by children without adult supervision.  Avoid contact with eyes, skin, and lesions.  Flush out eyes with a mixture of water and ammonia and induce vomiting.  Consult certified dealer in your area and do not attempt repair yourself, otherwise your account may be closed without warning, and tort litigation may be commenced to protect carrier from third-party claims.  Store at room temperature or cook immediately, otherwise blindness may result.  The 5-day grace period does not apply to residents of Quebec or to foreign nationals not currently registered with the Company’s licensed representatives.  Side-effects may include dizziness, temporary loss of consciousness, and a compulsion to give money to beggars.  You must advise us in writing of any changes by standing in a well-ventilated room or designating a co-conspirator to occupy your unit in the event of a flood, fire, epidemic, or civil unrest.  To avoid shock, hide in a closet without windows or seek shelter above ground.  Move away from any siren and follow the directions in the accompanying product description.  Lie on any sharp object to avoid prosecution.  The limited liability as set forth in the owner’s manual is superseded by the laws of your state or province, as designated in the relevant criminal code and/or the Compromise of 1850.  Management is not responsible for acts of violence to pets or accidental termination of your coverage by application of adhesive to porous or non-porous surfaces.  A skill-testing question may be required before the lessor may be released to the custody of a parent, guardian, or inmate of a mental institution.  Winners will be notified by a refugee claimant who has been ordered to appear for a deportation hearing, or by sending a cheque by registered mail to any officer of a labour union (in Quebec, officer of a biker gang).  No animals were harmed or discriminated against in the making of this product, except as permitted in Section Three of the Prospectus (“Exemptions for Aboriginal Persons”).  Contestants must be of legal drinking age, with a criminal record and previous claim of legal insanity, and must be accompanied by a bonded technician (in Quebec, member of a separatist party).  The Provider may enter your home and remove any persons or property necessary to bring your account into compliance (or may designate a proxy to do so), and may bill you for this service.  Subscribers may not hold long and short positions simultaneously, except by special arrangement with the Courts or Armed Forces.  A non-white illegal alien with a speech defect may be sent to your home to instruct you on the use of this product and to molest your children.  Your rights under the warranty may be modified without warning according to the terms of the McCarran Act, and amendments thereto, and your coverage may be voided, at your expense.  Discontinue use if paralysis develops and consult dealer or pharmacist.  Allow 90 days for evidence of any dispute to be processed by monkeys.  Liability to the buyer continues indefinitely, and to his heirs and successors.  Some components may explode, causing death.  Discontinue use in this event and provide details in writing to the Customer Service Dept.   Reading this far constitutes your acceptance of all terms, including future amendments thereto, and is valid in all jurisdictions.

    Copyright@ Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

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Cow Five

August 6, 2008

    When you work at Snuj, there’s no fixed timetable for anything.  There are no clocks or calendars.  If you want something, you have to do something to get it.  This kind of purity doesn’t exist anywhere else.

    I made up my mind to go see Ludwig.  Ludwig was black and didn’t speak with any identifiable accent.  It was an unwritten rule at Snuj that you never asked Ludwig about his background.

    “I want Cow Five,” I said to Ludwig.

    He gave me an over-long stare before reaching for the lower drawer of his old wooden desk.  He took out a magazine and handed it to me.  “Now you go to the men’s room and do what you have to do, understand?”

    “Yes.”

    “You just bring back the cover.  The rest can go in the waste basket, understand?”

    “Yes.”

    I took the magazine to the men’s room and…I did what I had to do. I brought back the cover.  “The cover is still clean,” I said.

    “We don’t care about that,” he replied, taking it from me.  He opened another drawer and took out a brown envelope, which was sealed.  “Now you go to Zeugma and ask for Nine Special Ray.”

    “Nine Special Ray,” I repeated.

    “Yes.  Now go.”

    I went downstairs, pausing at the window in the stairwell to look at the Unerectable Dome across the street, a structure that was perpetually collapsing and being rebuilt.

    I walked into Zeugma, where Carney, the albino, sat in a cubicle very much like a subway toll booth, with the added feature of a bell on the counter.  I held out the brown envelope to him.

    “Ring the bell if you want service,” he said condescendingly.  I rang the bell.  “What do you want?” he asked.

    “I want Nine Special Ray.”

    He snatched the brown envelope out of my hand, opened it neatly with a letter opener, and peered inside briefly, frowning.  Then he took a small ledger from a cubbyhole, opened it, and flipped a few pages.  He was still frowning as he scanned a page.  The frown was Carney’s only facial expression.  I wondered if it was a medical condition.  “You do…Solar AB….The string, that is.”

    “Where?”

    “In the Fish Tank, of course.  That way.”  He pointed.

    I went down the hall to a wooden door with faded letters: FISH TANK.  It was unlocked.  It was like a janitor’s closet with a chair.  I sat down.  A tangled mass of strings hung down from a high shelf.  Each one had a tag.  The rectangular tags were Neon, the round ones were Fruit, the triangles were Solar, and so on.  There was another closet called Beggar’s Dream with other tags, but don’t ask me about that.  So I had to look for a Solar AB.  I found one.  I yanked the string, and a key fell down from the shelf.  A gold key.  Irish Knights.  But we had other names for them.

    I went to the other side of the building to what was called the Insensorium, or “Sorry.”  I knocked at the open door.  There were a half dozen guys dressed as leprechauns, all with their feet up on this big table, smoking clay pipes.  “Whut-choo got?” said one, talking like a ghetto black, although he was very pale.

    “I have a Solar AB.”

    “You going for Cow Five?” asked another.

    “Yes, that’s right,” I said firmly.

    The leprechauns chuckled and made some remarks in a dialect only they understood.  Bunch of assholes.  Older guys with no degrees, no technology, just years of seniority.  Not one of them ever saw Cow Two, I’m sure.  The oldest one got up, picked up a large wooden mallet, and stood in front of this large copper plate on the wall.  He struck the plate with much force.  The others went Ooh! and Ahh! with fake reverence.   Then the one who had struck the plate said in a loud ceremonial voice, “Voola One-Two-Three!”

    “On the roof,” someone else explained, although I already knew that.

    The elevator only went to Six.  After that you had to climb this long ladder, which was always greasy and slippery, and the handrail was loose besides.  I came up onto the roof.  It was an asphalt roof that was always too hot in the summer, so the company wisely sprinkled dirt on it, which was guaranteed to make a mess of your shoes.

    There was this large pigeon coop set close to a wall, and set into the wall was a bank of boxes like safe deposit boxes.  There was very little clearance between the coop and the boxes, so you had to squeeze in to get to your box, and it was hard to read the numbers as well.  I managed to find Voola 123 and put my key in, hoping it would work, because very often the leprechauns would give you the wrong box number, and you’d have to go back down, and they would claim it was an honest mistake or you heard them wrong.  Ha, ha.  Very funny.  But fortunately my key fit.  I opened the box and pulled out a small gold brick.  Pretty damned good.  You got a gold brick, that was good.

    I had to take the brick down to Ludwig.  Before I could say a word, he said, “Carmody,” and pointed toward the end of the hall.

    Carmody was dressed in a blue uniform like a bellhop.  He guarded the Gasworks.  There was actually no gas in the Gasworks.  It was just an old traditional name that went back to the time when Snuj was called something else.  Carmody unlocked a metal door and led me down a long gangway to a basement that was poorly-lit and smelled like oil.  There was a lot of low, throbbing machine noise that came from these chambers behind the walls, but you couldn’t actually see the machines. 

    Royster was in charge down there.  I think he lived there because I never actually saw him come to work or leave.  He was supposedly a mechanic, and he was dressed like one.  But rumor had it that he was the one who actually controlled Snuj.  He was said to have the entire 800-page Code Book memorized.

    Carmody said to Royster, “He’s all yours, Sir.”

    “Yes.  Fine,” said Royster.  Carmody went back up the gangway.  Royster said to me, “Come this way, please,” and he led me through a maze of passages.  “Watch your head.  Low ceiling,” he warned me.  We reached an area referred to humorously as the Un-Stable, which smelled like animals.  There was a row of stalls screened individually by canvasses, which were rigged like shower curtains.  He led me to the one at the end.  “This is it.  Congratulations,” he said, shaking hands with me.  Then he left.

    I took a deep breath.  Was this for real, or was it just a dream?  Would this be the happiest moment of my life, or would I be cruelly disappointed?  I pulled the canvas aside, and there it was…Cow Five….It was tied to the wall with a rope and was chewing contentedly on something.  There was a decal on its side like that of a racehorse — a white 5 on a background of green and gold.  I almost couldn’t believe it.

    “Four years of college just so I could stand here now,” I said out loud.  “But it was worth it.”

    “Moooo…” said the cow.

    Copyright@ 2008, by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

Ghost Crad

July 30, 2008

    My soul left my body at the time of my choosing — a privilege accorded to some of us reincarnates.  There was a light above me that I was supposed to walk into.  However, I chose not to go.  No one is forced to cross over, you see.  We have free will on all planes.  If a soul chooses to remain on the earth plane, it can.  It becomes a ghost. 

    Some ghosts stay on earth because they are confused and don’t understand that they are dead.  Others have a strong attachment to a particular place.  In my case, I was simply in no hurry to cross over. 

    As I expected, no one came to check on me until my rent was overdue.  (I had always been prompt with the rent.)  My Chinese landlord found my body.  He was upset.  He called his wife and spoke to her in Chinese.  Then he called the police.  My body would eventually be cremated, there being no one to claim it.

    The next day the landlord and his wife came in with a lot of boxes to pack up my belongings.  On my bookshelf, in plain sight, was a large black folder labeled “WILL.”  Impossible to miss.  In it were a copy of my will and instructions to call my lawyer.  The landlord’s wife put it into a box without even noticing what was on it.  Nice lady, but stupid.

    The landlord tried calling a few phone numbers in my telephone-address books, which were a jumble of old and new information, but he could not find any friends or relatives, which I don’t blame him for. 

    My landlords never knew I was a writer, so every form of printed matter was put out with the garbage, including some valuable books and some papers of archival value.  Fortunately, I had long ago transferred almost everything pertaining to my literary career to the university library for safekeeping, but there were nevertheless some items that were thrown out that the library would have wanted.

    My lawyer, Peterson, did not learn of my death for almost a year and then quite by accident.  My will finally got executed, but only after much delay and confusion concerning the transfer of money.

    Once my apartment was emptied, some Chinese workmen came in and replaced the 120-year-old window (something I had asked for and never gotten), laid new carpet, and repainted the walls. 

    I spent my first few days as a ghost wandering up and down Sherbourne St. trying to choke people I didn’t like (mainly white trash druggies and hookers), but it takes a long time to learn how to focus one’s energy to do this. 

    My apartment was rented to a Korean student.  He spoke loudly on the phone and had a high-pitched laugh that I didn’t like, and he cooked smelly food. So I decided to get rid of him.  I was able to do simple things like tipping over small objects in the bathroom.  After a while, he moved out.  I’m not sure whether he was afraid or just annoyed. 

    The next tenant was a black guy I totally disliked at once. I just hated his looks.  I would rap on the walls, which disturbed his sleep several nights in a row.  He was going crazy trying to figure out where the raps were coming from.  Then one night when he was asleep, I managed to open the fridge door.  When he woke up and found it open, he freaked out and moved out right away.

    After him, a plain young girl from the Philippines moved in, and I liked her well enough to leave her alone.  She’s still there.

    Although I lived 22 years in that apartment on Isabella St., I don’t feel bound to it.  So I just wander around, passing invisibly among physical people and not having any meaningful interaction, just as I did when I was alive.  What I would like most is to find some people playing with a Ouija board so I could communicate with them, but Ouija boards are not very popular any more.  Nevertheless, I have a long-term project to go into every dwelling in Toronto, street by street, building by building, until I find someone with a Ouija board.  I have no idea how long that will take.  If I come into your place, don’t worry.  You won’t even know I’m there.  I’ll be in and out in a few seconds. 

    I see other ghosts from time to time, but usually we just pass each other without speaking, which may seem rather odd.  Maybe it’s me.  I was never very social. 

    Overall, ghosthood is an improvement.  I’m not as angry as I used to be.  I don’t have to take pills for my back.  I have no sexual feelings.  I don’t have to eat, drink, or sleep.  I look pretty good, like in my thirties.  And I never get bored.  I can get into any movie for free.

    I think the biggest reason why I’m hanging around on the earth plane is that I want to see my posthumous fame unfold.  And it will.  Believe me.  The university librarians are slowly sifting through all those packages I gave them that were not to be opened until my death.  The university inherited a lot more money than they ever dreamed they’d get from a poor sod who used to stand on the street peddling his own books.  There’s nothing like a six-figure legacy to create some buzz in literary and academic circles.  And my will stipulated that all my copyrights would be automatically relinquished to the public domain.  Some Chinaman will decide to make some money by pirating all my old books — except that it’ll be legal — and there’ll be all these bad translations of Crad Kilodney selling like chop suey all over China.  (Then the Canadian publishers will want to publish me!)

    This is what is commonly referred to as “Immortality.”  For a writer, it’s the only thing worth living for.  But you have to be dead to enjoy it.

    Copyright@ 2008, by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.   E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com