Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"No Foolin!" Pt 2

[New York City. Winter, 1987. I was standing in Vinny's office, applying for a job as a messenger.]

“Criminal record?” he enquired.
“Not in this country, mate,” I joked. “Haven’t had time. Haha! I just got here last week! Hahaha!”
“I thought so!” he exclaimed. “Back in New Zealand, huh?” He leaned back in his chair and asked, “What crime? Felony or misdemeanor?” 
Now, maybe it wasn’t too smart to make a joke about my criminal record to my potential employer like that, but after my sour-apple-shit-hole outburst of earlier, I kinda figured we an an understanding, Vinny and me.
“Criminal record?” I started to protest. “There wasn’t any…” 
But you know how it is… people hear what they want to hear. 
“Wait a second!” he interrupted. “Let me see if I can guess!” 
“Really,” I began. “There wasn’t…” but he held up his hand, stopping me short.
“That’s all right!” he said. “Let me guess! I like to guess.” He looked at me and cocked his head. “Arsonist? Naw, you’re not an arsonist and you couldn’t be a murderer, either. Nothing too serious. You’re too goggle-eyed for that!”
“Huh?” I said. “Goggle-eyed?”
He ignored me, continuing his critical appraisal, “Yeah, and you’re kinda skinny, too, and with yer accent and that suntan ya look damn suspicious. A hustler, maybe? Dope freak? Second story man? Wait a minute! Don’t tell me!”
I laughed inwardly because I’m not a second story man and never could be… 
I’m a backdoor man. 
I stood and said nothing. It occurred to me that Vinny had probably encountered, in his working life at Empire Messenger Service in NY, NY, an extremely broad range of humanity… most of them, it must be admitted, the poorer, more marginalized members of society. 
I couldn’t blame him for being suspicious. 
Let’s face it, friends… You don’t have to be poor or different to be treated like a criminal in this country… but it sure helps! 
He smiled and leaned forward across his desk. “Got it!” he said. “You’re a flasher!”
“Huh?” I stammered. 
“Yeah, that’s it!” he said in triumph. “I’m never wrong! Flasher, right? A dog-gone wienie wagger!”
“I never…” I began, but he mistook this as a natural desire on my part to keep it quiet and interrupted again.
“You never flashed kids,” he agreed. “Did ya, Flasher? Good! Good!”
“Of course not!” I insisted hotly. “Please don’t call me Flasher.”
“Sure!” he said breezily, “I can see why you’d be sensitive about it. But don’t worry, we’ve got all kinds of perverts working here. We’ve got a …”
“I’ve been trying to tell you …” I said.
“Okay, Flasher. Okay. I don’t care what you do on your own time. Just keep it zipped while you’re working for the company, right?”
“HOLD ON!” I finally insisted. “I don’t have a criminal record.”
“Oh?” He seemed disappointed. “You’re sure?” He looked at me hopefully. Maybe I could come up with something if I thought hard enough?
“Yes,” I said. “I’m sure.”
Then my intuition quietly told me I was going to get the job, and I said to myself, ‘Careful what you wish for, Flasher old boy.’
“Okay,” said Vinny a little resignedly. “See the girl out front. Fill out these forms. Ya start tomorrow.” 
He handed me the forms and I turned to go, pausing at the door. “Thank you,” I said. “You won’t regret …”
“Sure, Flasher!” he interrupted. “Good luck. And for god’s sake keep your dick in your pants! Okay?”
“Okay,” I laughed. “I’ll try.”
I stepped through the door.
“Next!” he yelled past me into the waiting-room.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"No Foolin!"

New York City. Winter, 1987.
I’d arrived from New Zealand a couple of weeks before and was crashing on my friend Andrew’s couch. It was a nice couch and life was a whirlwind of fun in the big city, but…
Things weren’t going too well, financially speaking.
I was broke. Every day I went out looking for work as an animator, but there was none to be found. 
So to make ends meet I applied for a job at Empire Messenger Service as, what else? A messenger. 
No experience needed, read the flyer taped to a lamppost on 8th Ave.
That’s good, because that’s just what I had. 

The head office for Empire Messenger Service resided in the basement of the Empire State Building, so it was pretty easy to find. After filling out a brief but surprisingly invasive questionnaire, I sat on a wooden bench with many others in the overheated room and awaited my turn for an interview.
It was good to sit down. I was tired. The night before some idiot (me) had borrowed enough money from somewhere for a couple of eight-balls and we’d been all over town, drinking frozen margaritas and jabbering like lunatic monkeys until dawn. 
Tired as I was, I fell asleep.
“YOU! Next!”
Someone elbowed me awake and said it’s your turn, so I rose and walked towards the manager’s office. 
I stepped through the open doorway into the tiny office and stood where I was, facing a middle-aged, balding man who sat behind a cluttered desk. 
‘Vinny’ read the plastic nameplate in front of him.
“Where’d you get the suntan, buddy?” he asked. 
He was suspicious from the start. 
“Suntan?” I answered. “What suntan, mate? I’ve been freezing my bloody ass off since I landed in this godforsaken shit-hole you freakin blankety yanks call the Big bleedin Apple!”
My sudden rant surprised even me. I didn’t mean to answer that way, it just popped out of my mouth! 
I really wanted a job. I needed a job. I should have simply explained how I got my suntan… that I’d recently arrived from a land down under where summer was winter and winter was summer. 
But no, not me. I was half asleep and I let loose!
(I’m never at my best when I first wake up. I’ll bet some of you… are like that too, sometimes.) 
But it was also something else, this letting loose of sour apples and freezing shit-holes into the face of Vinny the hiring manager. 
Something deeper. More personal. It was frustration! I was an out of work artist down on his luck… looking for a job every day up and down New York City… and getting nothing but rejection! 
Oh sure, they liked my work, those that looked at it, but they couldn’t use me at present. Animation? Not much call for that! Maybe in the future. Leave your name with the girl at the front desk… and don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out! 
Hear me, Struggling Artist! You had better love your art, and love it madly, passionately, even desperately, because sometimes it’ll feel like that’s all you’ve got.
“You’re not from around here, huh?” asked Vinny. “You speak English? That was English, wasn’t it?” 
“Yeah,” I answered, calming down, waking up. “That was English.”
“Ya got a funny accent. You a Limey?”
“No,” I answered, “I’m a Kiwi.” I explained where I was from. 
He glanced at my questionnaire on his desk.
“It says here you’re an artist?”
“Yes,” I replied proudly, “I am.”
“Well,” he said magnanimously, “I think we can overlook that.” Then he asked simply, “Healthy?”
“Healthy,” I affirmed. Sure, I was healthy as an ox… and twice as smart, too, or would be later when my hangover was gone. 

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summer Re-Run; "Love's First Kiss"

Hello friends.
While Rusty’s on Summer Break,
We present a repost 
Of our most popular pieces.

Which believe me 
Weren’t too damn popular 
In the first place.

But here it is!
One of Rusty’s scripts
From a live reading.

If you can call Rusty Pliers live.
Complete with stage directions
And down to the last word.

Proving perhaps he isn’t 
Such a lazy no-good one-eyed drunken bastard 
As he’s made out to be.

Please enjoy. 
And have a safe summer!

Love’s First Kiss” (v2)

In 1967 (when I was 14 years old)… the flutist of the Olive Vista Junior High School orchestra was Stephanie Poznanski.
I was in the orchestra too, playing second trumpet.
It may surprise you to learn that the second trumpet in a large junior high school orchestra doesn’t play his instrument constantly during a song. No, there are many times (in classical pieces particularly) where you just sit and wait
[Slight pause]
It was then that I would look longingly at Stephanie Poznanski
She sat across from the brass section, down at the front with the woodwinds.
Sigh… She was so beautiful! 
With long blonde hair and a smile that was pure sunshine. 

[Act I]
Stephanie lived on a ranch in the foothills of the San Fernando Valley… where on this day I was visiting her home for the first time. 
My mom dropped me off and said “Be a good boy, Rusty.”
But that’s okay… she always said that.
We had a nice time, Stephanie and me, upstairs in her bedroom listening to records and talking about school. She had a great sense of humor that made me laugh.
[Slight pause]
After some milk and cookies with her mom in the kitchen, Stephanie and I excused ourselves and went outside.
C’mon,”  she said, taking my hand. “I’ll show you the horses!”

[Act II]
It was a warm afternoon. 
Dusty light beamed through the eucalyptus trees that lined the way. 
We strolled hand in hand beside an emerald pasture where prancing horses played in the sun. 
To my amazement, they trotted over at Stephanie’s call
“I thought only dogs could do that,” I said.
Don’t be silly,” replied Stephanie. “Horses are way smarter than dogs.” 
Now maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t… I’ve met people in the fifty years since who’ve argued it both ways… but on that day in 1967 I didn't care one bit because I was smitten all over with Stephanie Poznanski.
[Slight Pause]
I had very different feelings for horses though
“I love horses,” said Stephanie, and I just nodded.
In fact I was kinda afraid of horses, but I tried to hide this from Stephanie because I wanted to make a good impression. I did what uncounted boys since the beginning of time have done when trying to impress a girl… I lied.
“I like horses too,” I said.
Really?” answered Stephanie. “Barbara from History class said you said you hated horses. ‘Big, stupid, smelly things,’ she said you said.”
[To Audience]
That sounded like something I would say… 
[Insistent, then trailing off]
Not me!” I said. “I love horses! They’re so…so big and strong… You know … uh, horsepower and stuff…”
[Slight Pause]
Stephanie laughed at my foolishness… as Eve must have laughed with Adam in the garden… and my young heart grew wings and flew away…

[Act III]  
Then Stephanie stepped closer to me
[Slight pause]
I looked into her eyes. They were so blue they were almost purple. Her long blonde hair played about her face in the warm California breeze. 
Some strands of it caught in her mouth, and 
With a laugh she reached up and hooked them away. 
[Slight Pause]
That’s when I asked if I could kiss her.
Okay,” she said. “If you want to.” 
She closed her eyes and lifted her chin. Her lips parted slightly. I could see her little pink tongue behind her strong white teeth, waiting
“I want to!” I said.
I leaned forward and closed my eyes…
[Slight pause]
 … and our lips touched.
“Love’s first kiss.”
[Long Pause] 
Ah friends… kissing Stephanie Poznanski was like kissing an angel!
It was something else too, for as we kissed I began to feel a wonderful tingling sensation running up and down my body that eventually settled in my middle area.
[Looks down, then at audience]
Down in front.

[Act IV]
Mmmm-mmmm,” I said as I wrapped my arms around Stephanie and pulled her closer…
At this Stephanie sighed…
… whether from boredom or from love I’ll never know… for her father caught us kissing and boy, did he give me a chewing out!
[Slight pause]
Go to your room, young lady!” he ordered Stephanie.
“Stay right where you are, buster!” he ordered me.
Stephanie started crying and ran upstairs.
Then her dad gave me a piece of his mind, you might call it, about Stephanie and her chastity, while I thought of Stephanie crying in her bedroom where we’d been laughing just an hour before.
“Keep away from my daughter!” he said.
Then he phoned my mother.

[Act V]
You’re too young to be kissing anybody that way,” said my mom, driving me home. 
“That comes later, honey, with love.”
[To audience]
Love! That was my mother’s cornball idea. 
I wanted romance and adventure
And let’s not forget the tingling sensation in my lower front, but I didn't mention that to my mom.
We weren’t doing nothing wrong,” I said.
“You weren’t doing anything wrong,” corrected my mother.
“That’s what I said, mom! We weren’t doing anything wrong,” I repeated, hoping in my heart it wasn’t completely true.

Stephanie seemed to lose interest in me after that.
For which I mostly blame her father
Although for a while I tortured myself wondering if maybe I was a faulty kisser or something
[Slight Pause]
As you can imagine Music class wasn’t as much fun anymore. All I could do was sigh and watch Stephanie from my place in the brass section, an impossible chasm yawning between us
Geez, I thought, it was just like Romeo and Julie
Rusty!” barked Mr Olinski. He was the music teacher. “Wake up! Please pay attention.”
“I wasn’t asleep, sir,” I objected.
You were giving a pretty good imitation of it,” quipped Mr O.  
The class laughed. Everybody liked Mr Olinski. 
“Now, young man,” he commanded. “Give me an f sharp!”
Alas, my tootling lips went wanting for warm human contact that semester and I had to make do with the cold, indifferent mouthpiece of my St Louis Brand b flat King Cleveland student trumpet.
I gave Mr Olinski an f sharp.
We moved to New Zealand at the end of the year and I never saw Stephanie again.
Thank You!
You made it fun!
I’m Rusty Pliers!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Re-Run; "The Devil & Rusty Pliers"

Hello friends.
While Rusty’s on Summer Break,
We present a repost 
Of our most popular pieces.

Which believe me 
Weren’t too damn popular 
In the first place.

But here it is!
One of Rusty’s scripts
From a live reading.

If you call Rusty Pliers live.
Complete with stage directions
And down to the last word.

Proving perhaps he isn’t 
Such a lazy no-good one-eyed drunken bastard 
As he’s made out to be.

Please enjoy. 
And have a safe summer!
Hugs from Rusty Pliers.

[Adjusts mic, speaks to audience]
Thank You!
I’m the Writer Rusty Pliers.
[Reads from script]
Uh. Gee, I hope I can read this.
I spilled some salsa and guacamole on it while I was rehearsing this afternoon…
[Lift patch and look?]
Spilled a margarita on it, too… somewhere…
[Lower patch]
Then they asked me to put on my pants
and leave the aquarium!
So I didn’t get a lot of rehearsing done.
[Long Pause]
I hope you enjoy it.
[Relax… Deep breath… Be Rusty]
Tonight’s story is entitled… 

“The Devil…
and Rusty Pliers”
“How about proposing a toast, Rusty?” asked our host.
“Sure,” I answered. “I’d be delighted.” 
I stood and raised my glass. 
May you be in heaven,” I said, winking at the hostess, half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead!
The dinner guests tittered at my remark. 
A remark I’d learned in Ireland, by the way, where they’ve had a preoccupation with the devil for centuries.
They asked me to propose another toast and we tittered a little over that one too.
Then another toast.
And another
Anyway, after the party I was heading home on my Ducati 900 motorcycle when instead of going around this corner like I usually do… I went straight ahead… flying through the air like Evel Knievel … 
Until I smashed into a bridge abutment and was killed instantly

[Act I]
I awoke in hell standing before the devil.
He was seated behind an ornate desk made from human bones. 
Hello, Rusty,” he said agreeably. “Welcome to hell.”
[Reflective, to audience]
Funny, but he didn’t look anything like I expected he would. He looked kinda like Leonardo DiCaprio.
Not the hairy revenant Leonardo…
… but the well-dressed Leonardo from the golden globes.
“Smoke?” he asked, gesturing to a cigarette box.
Am I?” I answered looking around to pat myself out where I might still be burning from my crash and fall into hell.
Otherwise, for a dead guy, I didn’t feel too bad.
“I mean tobacco,” said the devil with a smile.  
Sure,” I said, taking one. “Can’t hurt me now, can it?”
Hell… no!” he agreed with a laugh. He had nice teeth, proving what I’ve long suspected… that hell is full of dentists.
How about a drink to go with your smoke?” he asked and like magic a gin and tonic appeared in my hand.
“Yes please!” I answered and thought to myself that maybe hell wasn’t going to be too bad, after all.
Excuse me for asking,” I said, sipping my drink. “I’ve made that corner a thousand times. Why not tonight?”
“It’s just like they told you in Sunday school, Rusty,” he answered. “Everyone’s days are numbered… 
And everyone will be judged.
“I don’t remember Sunday school too well,” I said, meaning I didn’t remember ever going to Sunday school… but I didn’t mention that.
The devil just looked at me and smiled.
Enjoying your smoke?” he asked.
Yes,” I answered. “It’s been awhile. I quit in 2010.”
I know,” he said. “And what for? You died in a motorcycle crash! Hahaha!”
“Yeah,” I answered a little peevishly. “Funny.”
C’mon, Rusty!” laughed the devil. “You’ve been on the highway to hell since you were twelve-years-old! I always figured you for a guy who could take a joke.
He laughed again and in spite of myself I began to laugh a little, too. 
After all, what does it matter how we die?
It’s how we live that counts!

[Act II]
“Well,” I asked. “Now what?”
“You choose your hell,” he answered.
“Choose my own hell?”
Yes,” said the devil proudly. “Your own personal hell. One of hell’s finest achievements. Cuts down on complaints and saves a buttload of red tape.”
Careful what you wish for, eh?” I said.
Exactly!” answered the devil. “Or as we like to say around here… Hakuna Matata!”
You have to say this for the devil, I thought, he really seemed to enjoy his work. 
“Here,” he said, indicating a blank sheet of paper before him on the desk. “Sit down and write me a 500 word essay on what your hell should be.”
“Awww!” I whined. “An essay?”
“Better get started,” he advised. “You’ve only got an hour. There’s some liquor in the cabinet. Help yourself.”
“Thanks,” I said. “Will my spelling …?”
“Don’t worry about the damned spelling, Rusty!
Write something from your heart…" 
[Softer still]
… or better yet… from your soul.”
[Slight pause]
“My soul?” I asked.
From the soul of Rusty Pliers! he laughed. 
No cheating!” he added and whoosh! 
He was gone.

[Act III]
So I made another drink and sat down at the devil’s desk to write an essay “from my soul” about what my personal hell should be. 
Naturally, before I could write it, I had to think it
That proved kinda difficult, distracted as I was by my recent smoldering death and wondering whose bones made up the desk where I was sitting.
[Looks around]
Which skull was Hitler’s, I wondered? 
Was that Jack the Ripper
Where was Walt Disney?
[Pause for laughter?]
I sipped my drink and had another cigarette, awaiting inspiration… but as happens sometimes it never arrived… so I left the writing materials on the desk and got up to pace the room.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think better on my feet.
As I paced I began to dream of a heavenly hell… a Hades-of-a-Thousand-Delights where all the wonderful sins and vices bathed me in a beautiful blue flame of exquisite pleasure…
I didn’t notice behind me as the pencil stood up and began writing upon the paper… unassisted. 

[Act IV]
Eeeewww, what smells?” said a beautiful brunette who appeared from nowhere
“That’s the sulphur,” I said, suddenly realizing. 
When I first arrived I’d smelled it, too, but now I hardly noticed it. 
[To Audience]
It’s funny what you can get used to, isn’t it?
[slight Pause]
She was gorgeous, so I smiled and added smoothly, “Haven’t we met before, someplace?
“In your dreams, perhaps?” she teased.
She was being very seductive.
Then it struck me. 
She was Lust.
Funny, but Lust looked exactly like I figured she would…
And it was nothing like Leonardo DiCaprio!
“I’m lonely, Rusty,” she purred as she stepped closer. “Will you be my friend in this strange, smelly place?” 
Yes,” I whispered and reached out… I’ll smell your friendly place
[Pause for laughter?]
We embraced passionately… and that’s when I noticed…
Where usually there would be a pleasurable sensation of growing manly hardness… 
[Slight pause]
Now was nothing
My penis was gone!
I reached into my pants and felt around…
… It was as smooth as a Ken doll down there!

[Act V]
Then to make matters worse while I was groping around searching for my manhood the beautiful brunette turned into my ex-wife!
Not the nice ex-wife either, but the nasty one I battled with all the time.
[Pause, then slowly]
Behind her stood the devil, smiling, watching… 
[Pause, then hotly]
So!” shrieked my ex. “In hell five minutes and you’re already boozing around and chasing women!” 
I tried to speak but was unable, as if my voice box were paralyzed… or gone to hell with my frank and beans!
“You’ve been drinking again!” she hissed. “Don’t bother to deny it!” 
The drink I held vanished from my hand… 
“And smoking!” she spat. “I can smell it on your breath!”
Poof! Up in smoke went the smoke I smoked!
Hmmmm, I thought…
No smoking… no drinking… no genitals
I was beginning to get a little worried!
I told Lucifer all about you!” shrieked my ex-wife, gesturing behind her where the devil stood smiling
“I said that bum Rusty Pliers cannot resist a pretty girl or a shot of booze and all he ever thinks about is his stupid penis!”
There must be some mistake, I thought as she kept shrieking and shrieking.
This wasn’t the hell I’d imagined!
I looked around for the devil, hoping for some explanation… but he was nowhere to be seen
Then I noticed the paper on the desk. 
It seemed to glow and beckon
I reached out and picked it up.
This is what it read…
Dear Rusty,
I hope a few centuries of spiritual torment at the hands of your ex-wife will help you to Unfuck Yourself a little bit.
Heaven knows, Rusty, you need it.
In the meantime, I’ll be on vacation in Hawaii, where I have a condo overlooking a volcano.
I like to throw virgins in there.
When I can find one.
Ha! Ha! That was a joke to ease your pain.
Which I hope is enormous.
Good luck in hell!
Your pal,
Thank You!
I’m the Writer Rusty Pliers!
If you enjoyed my story please look for
me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
If you didn’t enjoy my story… 
…then I don’t suppose you’ll bother.
Thank You!
I’m the Writer Rusty Pliers!