This story starts slowly and gathers momentum until it explodes in a nerve-shattering climax.  Along the way, the reader is treated to numerous colorful characters and subplots involving espionage, global catastrophe, romance, and the supernatural.

    Excuse me….I have just been informed that this story has received scathing reviews in the Toronto Star and Saturday Night.  Therefore, it will be necessary to go back and make changes while there is still time to save my literary reputation.

    Ahem….This story starts with a bang, and then the reader meets the two principal characters — a man and a woman — who are in a troubled relationship.  A lot of back story is given to explain the problems between them.  The plot has been simplified to deal with condo development.   The man wants to redeem himself by building a spectacular condo project, but the woman tells him he has to choose between her and the building….Unfortunately, this will not do, as it appears the story has received even worse reviews in The Globe and Mail and Maclean’s, and certain harsh comments have been made about the author.  So it will be necessary to start over.

    Thank you for your patience….This story begins with a long description of the Hawaiian Islands, where it will now take place, instead of Moncton, New Brunswick, as previously intended.  This should make it more commercially acceptable to American publishers (all the Canadian ones hate me anyway).  The protagonist is a CIA agent, and his female counterpart is the divorced wife of an unscrupulous Wall Street money manager….I’m sorry.  There is a problem.  This story has already been rejected by Esquire and Playboy, although no reason has been given.  The rejection slips merely say that it does not meet their editorial needs.  Frankly, I doubt they even read it.

    All right, never mind.  A few changes, and we’ll be back in business….A beautiful young rock star receives a human head in a box.  There is no note, and she doesn’t recognize the man’s face.  (Now I’m sure I’m on to something!)  She calls her friend, who is a bumbling but humorous private investigator who looks like Walter Matthau.  The scene shifts to somewhere I haven’t decided on yet, and the reader realizes that the box was delivered to the wrong address!  (This is sensational!)  The bumbling investigator, however, stumbles onto a clue (I don’t know what, but I’ll think of something), which leads him to a gang of drug traffickers.  (This is a winner!  I’m sure of it!)….Oh….I’m sorry….My mistake….It seems that a very similar story was published only minutes ago in The Idaho Review, and the movie rights have already been optioned to HBO.  I don’t believe this!  This is either the worst luck a person could have, or there’s something fishy going on!

    Okay, I’m not through with this sucker.  I’ll give it one more try….A prospector in Alaska stumbles onto the richest gold deposit in the world.  Now he has to lock up the mineral rights to the whole surrounding area without anyone suspecting that he has found something big.  But he has been followed by his nemesis, an evil prospector with no talent, who just rips off other people’s discoveries, and the nemesis intends to kill him before he can get back to the nearest town to file his claims.  There will be a big fight, which the hero wins.  After that, he has to kill a bear and a mountain lion.  And then he falls down a ravine, hits his head, and loses his memory, so he can’t remember where he discovered the gold.  There!  I think I’ve nailed it!

    Oh, no….My story has been rejected with prejudice, if you can believe it, by The Paris Review, for “failing to address women’s issues or the environment, and failing to include minorities”!

    Well, that’s the last straw!  This is a stupid, rotten, corrupt business, and those miserable sons of bitches can rot in hell!  Years from now, when they’re almost bankrupt because nobody reads their inferior shit any more, they can crawl to me on their hands and knees and beg me for a story!  “Conquest and Horror” will be waiting for them, and I’ll shove it down their throats!

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


    So, you’re going to have a piece of furniture reupholstered, are you?  I’ll bet it’s your sofa, isn’t it?  It is?  Ha, I knew it!  How did I know?  We writers are practically psychic, that’s how I know.  It’s a professional talent, you might say — something acquired after many years of studying people.  Why, I can look into a person’s eyes and see his whole living room.  I’m seeing your living room right now, as a matter of fact.  What a mess!  Don’t you ever clean?  Open a window!  It stinks in here!  I can tell just by looking at your living room that you’re headed for disaster unless I save you.  What do I mean?  Why, just this: you are about to make one of the most important decisions of your life.  You have to choose an upholsterer!

    What difference does it make?  Listen, would you let just anybody pack your parachute?  I should hope not!  You don’t take chances when it comes to reupholstering a piece of furniture either.  You and your family may be sitting on it the rest of your lives (especially if you’re on welfare).

    Now let me show you the way.  Follow me and be safe.  Go your own way and step on a land mine.  Get my drift?  Good.

    Let us open the Yellow Pages and look under “Upholsterers.”  There are many to choose from, but I see red flags all over the place.  Keep a sharp eye out for listings like these:

    Acme Upholstery.  No street address given.  And why not?  Because they move around from place to place!  It’s a fly-by-night operation, don’t you see?  This is the sort of outfit that will lure a person to a fake address and then beat him and rob him!  They don’t pay their bills or their rent either, I’m sure of that.

    Joe Giganto Upholstery.  Never mind him.  He has a fat name.  You don’t want a fat upholsterer, do you?  He’s probably connected to the Mafia as well.

    Metro School of Upholstery.  What do we have here?  I’ll tell you: a bunch of slovenly immigrants who came here without any trade or education, and they think they can be upholsterers.  Are you going to trust a bunch of students?  You’ll be the guinea pig.  They’ll make their mistakes on your sofa.  “Oh, excuse us, please, we are just learning!” 

    Sam’s Upholstery, 443 Shuter St.   Bad neighborhood.  Stay away.  Let somebody who isn’t reading this go and get his throat cut.

    Tim & Damien, Fine Upholsterers.  A couple of homos, for sure.  Too prissy, too fussy, too expensive.  (And don’t rush them!  Upholstery is an art form!  It takes time!)

    Ilie Romanescu.  Gypsy.  Forget it.  Your sofa will come back with bedbugs in it.

    Wong Upholstery and Restoration.  NO CHINESE UPHOLSTERERS, OKAY?  Shoddy workmanship, cheap or even dangerous materials, and they put their garbage in the upholstery, figuring no one will ever know.  Some of them are abortionists as  well.

    Heinrich Zimmler.  Ad says, “In Business Since 1950.”  This guy’s a former Nazi concentration camp guard.  Trust me.  I used to do apartment-locating for Nazi war criminals. 

    Ram Upholstery.  Ad says, “Next door to Ram Bakery.”  I get it.  The upholstery shop is sharing the same building with the bakery.  These guys are Wogs, and their Indian bakery is barely paying the rent, so they’re trying to do a little upholstery on the side.  NO WOG UPHOLSTERERS, OKAY?

    All the others pass the first cut.

    Now you have to go visiting.  Don’t call first.  Pretend you were just walking in the neighborhood, saw the sign, and dropped in.  This way you catch them as they really are.  Look the place over carefully.  You want to see a busy shop, good lighting, good ventilation, a water cooler, a calendar, a sign that says “Fire Exit,” the business license prominently displayed, decals for major credit cards, and a few awards of some sort in frames mounted on the wall.  Workers must not look stoned.  Elaborate tattoos are bad.  No sneakers.  No earrings.  No women.  (This is a man’s trade.)  Classical music playing in the background is good; hip-hop is bad.  How does the place smell?  It should have normal upholstery smells.  Any weird smells and you should probably walk out.  (The clincher is the absence of pets in the shop.  Animals won’t stay where it doesn’t smell right.)  Is the boss single or married?  Never trust a single upholsterer.  There have been cases of serial killers who were upholsterers, and they were all single.  And how do you think they disposed of their victims?  They cut them up into small pieces and stuffed them into people’s furniture!

    Picking the wrong upholsterer can lead to a tragic outcome, as Mr. G. Wilson of 73 The Bridle Path, Toronto, can attest: “I came home from work to find my wife raped and murdered, my valuables stolen, and my house wrecked.  To add insult to injury, my reupholstered sofa was returned with scratches on it, the workmanship was poor, and the bill was far above the original estimate.”

    Such upholstery tragedies often go unreported in the media because the families are too ashamed to talk about them.  But they do happen — far too often.  I asked Toronto Police Chief William Blair about the problem of bad upholsterers.  Here’s what he said: “It’s certainly a sad state of affairs when a minority of upholsterers do bad things that make the whole profession look bad, which it isn’t.  Someday these bad characters will learn that it’s wrong to kill their customers and cheat them and steal from them.  I wish there were some way we could get that message across to them.  I’m not sure what we can do.  I just think somebody should do something to stop it.”

    Until somebody does put a stop to it, you, the consumer, are your own first (and last) line of defense.  Go ahead and reupholster that sofa if you have to.  (If you just suffer with it in its present state, the evildoers win.)  But for God’s sake, take heed of everything I’ve written, and keep your wits about you!

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