The Mystery Magi

The Mystery Magi
He was the Santa we needed.

The first time I met Dr. Diaz was at the Phoenix School District teacher orientation on an oppressively scorching hot, July morning last year. Only a week prior, I had boxed up all of my winter clothes and shoved them in the darkest corner of my parents attic, then drove my rusty, non air conditioned, 2004 black Grand Prix all the way from St. Louis out west to Tombstone country with the window rolled down. I was on a mission to clean up the wild west like Wyatt and Doc and, like the mythical bird, I would rise from the ashes of my former life and be born again in Phoenix.

Dead Poets Society ran on a constant loop ever since graduating from Lindenwood University two months earlier and like many young, idealistic teachers, I wanted to take on the world. I didn’t just want to be a great teacher, I wanted to be atranscendent teacher. I was hell-bent on becoming the Mr. Keating of the southwest. I would be an activist educator, a warrior for social justice. I would work nights, weekends and holidays righting cosmic wrongs, one student at a time. Chris Hemsworth would play me in the Hollywood movie they’re sure to make. The school from Stand and Deliver would look like Hogwarts after my first year at PSD.

I peeled my burning face from the only pillow I owned in my tiny, studio apartment off of Thomas and 30th Ave. that first sizzling July morning. I quickly showered, gelled my hair just enough to not look metrosexual and put on my new $200.00 navy suit from the Men’s Wearhouse. As I stepped out into the early morning sunshine, the sidewalk melting beneath my feet, I carefully stepped over a chalk outline of a body, passed a pair of mating cats without judging and set off to conquer the world.

Patting out small flames that had spontaneously caught fire on my new suit, I passed through the threshold of Pueblo Del Sol High on that hot July morning. After politely introducing myself to Janice, the office manager with the black, Hot for Teacher leather skirt, she pointed me in the direction of the school’s library where the new teacher orientation was underway. I was greeted by Mr. Calderon, the principal who insisted I call him Manny. He was a shorter man with thinning, dyed brown hair who wore a yellow Polo shirt with an oversized logo from seven years ago. He shook my hand then introduced me to my mentor teacher for the year, Dr. Diaz.

Dr. Diaz stood well north of 6 foot 4 inches tall and wasn’t shy about it. He was an older man, late 50’s, early 60’s. A very dapper man, if ever a dapper man was of hispanic descent with impeccable hair not unlike Darth Vader’s helmet. His teeth were a glowing white like a string of pearls and his recently manicured fingernails highlighted his clubbed fingertips. He wore a pressed, white three-piece suit from Bill Blass that contrasted starkly a red, paisley dress shirt from Hugo Boss. The sound from his ostrich skin, Tony Lama cowboy boots left an intentional echo throughout the halls that announced someone important was on the way.

The first conversation we had will be tattooed into my long-term memory for the rest of my days.

Mr. Calderon, Manny, said, “Mr. Black, let my introduce you to your mentor this year. This is Dr. Diaz.”

“Nice to meet you Señor. I’m Dr. Diaz.” He said, shaking my hand firmer than introductory handshaking etiquette dictates, making his diamond studded, gold pinky ring did not go unnoticed.

“Nice to meet you Mr. Diaz. I’m Mike Bla…” I started to say.

“Doctor.” He said, cutting me off.

“Excuse me?” I asked, looking around in confusion.

“It’s Dr. Diaz.” He stated matter-of-factly.

“Oh.” I said with a laugh, clearly thinking he was just giving me a hard time. “Sorry Doctor.”

“Don’t let it happen again.” He said with the same firmness that he was continuing to shake my hand with.

“Right. Uh, sorry Sir.” I said neutrally, unable to bring myself to actually call this guy doctor by mandate.


“It’s really good that you’re going to get to work with me this year, Mr. Black. I think this will be a great opportunity for you.” He actually said with a straight face.

Long pause.

“Uh, thank you?” I finally acquiesced.

Relieved that I wasn’t asked to bow, he finally released my hand and offered to take me on a quick tour of the school. The first place he led me was his classroom where, at the door, he told me I would “Get to meet with him twice a week to learn the art of teaching.” Man, this guy was something else. Who does this guy think he is, the Sultan of fricking Brunei?

Things went from odd to completely bizarre when he opened the door to his classroom and showed me in. The whole room was flashing red, white, and blue, chalk full of Americana memorabilia. What the hell was all this? Apollo Creed wasn’t this patriotic in Rocky II.  There were American flags, banners, posters, Uncle Sam was pointing at me from all directions. It was pretty over the top. Now I’m a red-blooded, American from the midwest as anyone you’re likely to meet, but this was like nothing I’d ever seen before. This guy made Bruce Springsteen look like Che Guevara.

All that was a lot to soak in but absolutely nothing I had ever encountered in all my 24 years on planet Earth could have possibly prepared me for what I saw sitting on his desk. There, next to the Arizona Cardinals coffee mug and gold-plated Rosary, encased in glass, was a bright red Make America Great Again hat! Not only that, but there on the bill of the cap, written in Gold Sharpie, read:

    Jessie, you’re a hero and a patriot!

-Donald Trump

I swear on everything holy, I had to feel around for a desk or something to sit down on and gasped around for a paper bag to breathe in and out of.

“He-he’s a Trump supporter? But…but…” I stammered silently.

I had so many questions. Nothing made sense anymore, up was down, day was night, white was black. I was useless at the school’s orientation that day. Different bell schedules for each day of the week, policy and procedures with no frame of reference, and a new evidence based grading system that we were forced to voluntarily buy into only got us as far as a P,B, & J lunch. My head was spinning like a dreidel. I went home to my crappy, studio apartment that night and cried myself to sleep, if you replace the word cry with drink.

I didn’t see Mr. sorry, Doctor Diaz again until the first day of school. Being my mentor teacher, I “got” to co-teach with him every day. It didn’t take long before I realized that our teaching philosophies were as different as our personal philosophies. How he did business was not how I did business, we weren’t even in the same industry. This guy was not only vain, arrogant, and worse…Republican, when it came to teaching and dealing with the students, he was also mean, impatient, and more than just a little bit racist.

Our school is a Title 1 school, which means that it’s like 95% poverty stricken. It also happens to be a mostly hispanic population, so it seemed a wee bit odd when I first heard him use phrases like, “The problem with you people is…” and “You people need to…” etc. When he would make phone calls home, the first thing he would ask is, “Is there a dad around?” I suppose that being hispanic himself, he is afforded a bit more slack than, say, me, but I still found it wildly offensive.

By October, he had most of the students good and scared of him. Hell, I was scared of him. I did my best to steer clear of him and teach as best as I could but his net was vast and far-reaching. At first I was afraid to say anything to him about how he treated our students and the things that he would say to them but by Halloween, I let a few things slip. I couldn’t stay silent any more. Someone had to stick up for these kids, and that someone had to be me. He barely even got to know the kids, that was his biggest problem, he treated everyone the same. He had no concept of individual needs, he didn’t understand that, what’s fair isn’t always equal and what’s equal is not always fair.

So one morning when Jesus came in our home room and flipped a desk over, Dr. Diaz didn’t even bother talking to him to find out what was going on. He just raised an eyebrow carelessly and passively sent him to the office. Jesus refused to go. When Dr. Diaz threatened to call the police on him, right in front of everyone, Jesus ran out of the room. I had to do something, I rushed out of the room and chased after him. I stopped Jesus in the hall and sat with him until he had a chance to calm down. When he was ready, he finally told me that he was mad because he didn’t get any sleep the night before. His mother never came home from work and he had to stay up all night with his little brothers and sisters.

When I walked back into the room, I was restrained. I didn’t march in there and make a scene or anything in front of all the students like he did. I was patient in my demeanor. I waited until lunch. They served Walking Nachos and Tamales, I had a salad. When we were finally alone, I calmly said, “Did you know that Jesus’ mother didn’t come home last night?”

“No, I didn’t know that.” He said with his mouth full of Tamales.

“Yeah,” I continued, “He was up all night taking care of his little brothers and sisters.”

“Huh.” He said blankly.

“Yeah,” I continued, “and yesterday when you yelled at Juan and made him sit in the corner by himself because he kept asking questions without raising his hand?”

“He was being disrespectful.” He said.

“Did you know that his father and his uncle got deported last week?”

“Really?” He said, wiping his mouth.

“Yes, really.” I stated, my confidence growing.

“Well, I did not know that.” He said getting a toothpick out of his white, porcelain toothpick holder.

“You know, if you would bother to get to know these kids, even a little bit, you know, talk to them, maybe you would understand a little bit more about them.” I said boldly.

“What they need is discipline, they need structure.” He stated.

“I don’t think you know anything about these kids.” I said, standing up straight, shoulders out.

“You don’t think I know these kids?” He asked redundantly, eyes widening.

“Uh…I—I.” I stammered.

“Oh, I know these kids. I know these kids alright. I know these kids better than you will ever know them!” He bellowed.

“Well then you of all people should know that you’ve gotta cut these kids some slack, they’re just kids for Christ’s sake! I’m not saying you have to go around rescuing them like that El Medico guy or anything. It’s just that…”

“What did you just say?” He asked coldly, cutting me off in mid sentence.

Suddenly I felt like one of our students. Small, helpless, petrified. “Uh…I said, er, I mean…I said that you don’t have to be like that guy…El Medico.”

“Where the hell did you hear that name?” He demanded.

“I hear the kids talking about him. They say he goes around helping the kids from the neighborhood with food and presents and stuff.”

“What did you say the name of this fella is?” He asked, picking at his teeth with his toothpick with a satisfaction that I was unprepared for.

“El Medico.” I gulped. “I think.”

“El Medico?” he scoffed. “The Doctor? That is the stupidest name I have ever heard of.” He said taking the toothpick out of his mouth and walking out of the room. His cowboy boots echoed all the way to the men’s room.

I sat down at one of the desks and tried to go over in my head just what in the mother of all hells just happened. I was shaking like a fiend and all I could do was replay that conversation over and over again. The temperature fell below 100 degrees for the first time since I’d been there. The sky looked like a movie prop that hadn’t had the clouds painted on yet and the cacti were beginning to needle. I drove home on auto-pilot, past the endless line of people queued up for St. Mary’s food bank and over the 17 freeway. At home, I mustered up enough composure to reheat a piece of pizza and “cry” my sorrows away again.

The second quarter seemed to whiz by. With all the standardized testing, the holidays, and the heat finally starting to ease up a bit, the days seemed to fly off of the calendar. Days to weeks and weeks to months and before I knew it, it was the Monday before Thanksgiving. After our little blowout, Dr. Diaz and I had kept things fairly professional. He taught his lessons his way, I taught my lessons my way and we unofficially agreed to stay out of each other’s way.

Dr. Diaz wasn’t the only obstacle I had my first year, there was the teaching too. I mean, that’s not something that should be glossed over. I know that everyone’s first year of teaching is a story they can tell for the rest of their days but teaching here man, it has its challenges. I sort of laugh now when I remember my fantasy of being the Mr. Keating of Phoenix. Events took place that were unforeseeable. I mean, I never dreamt I would have to tell 11th grade boys to keep their hands off of each other so many times. I never, in all my life, imagined that I would have to explain to another living, breathing human being how to properly use a stapler or that it’s perfectly acceptable, even encouraged to eat the skin of an apple. Certain things you could assume, still I still never thought that I would actually have to justify having a rule stating that you need permission to leave the classroom, like once a week, and have to really detail why that is a thing. Well, you know what they say when you assume things don’t you? Come to think about it, maybe you don’t.

There were small, sporadic victories followed by long periods of heartache and pain. It seemed like once I thought I got the answer to something, had some kind of epiphany, all the questions would suddenly change. It all seemed very fluid. You sort things out in one class only to have another class start-up with some other shenanigans. It’s like those arcade games where you keep hitting the gofer and they just keep popping up somewhere else and it never ends. It never ever ends.

By the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the game plan was to ride the clock out. The kids were a shaken Champagne bottle, ready to blow. They had all been talking about that guy, El Medico, who may or may not actually exist but was supposedly going around delivering turkeys to the neighborhood’s needy houses. “Try the best you can to keep the kids occupied, distracted, until the final bell rang and you could tap out like the dealers at a casino. They were someone else’s problem now.” I kept whispering to myself. I was looking forward to a nice five-day weekend with absolutely nothing to do but lay on the used sofa in my crappy apartment and binge on Netflix. I almost made it too.

I was in my car with the engine running when a diamond studded, gold pinky ring knocked on my driver’s side window. “What in the absolute, holy mother of…” I was thinking as I slowly rolled down my window.

“Hey Dr. Diaz. What’s going on?” I asked without looking up.

“Mr. Black, I’d like you to come to my house for Thanksgiving tomorrow afternoon.” Dr. Diaz said bluntly.

“Oh, hey, Dr. Diaz, I’d really love to but…”

“No you wouldn’t.” He dismissed.

“No, sure I would. It’s just that I have a…”

“No you don’t.” He said, then, “Come over around 3:30. You don’t need to bring anything.” He finished and then he walked away.

“He can’t make me do this. There is no way I’m going to his house. Who the hell does he think he is anyway?” This train of thought started as I rolled up my window. It continued as I ambled out of the parking lot and drove home. It also continued as I drove to Dr. Diaz’s house at 3 o’clock sharp on Thanksgiving Day.

“This is such horse crap.” I said out loud to myself as I started to pull into his driveway, then balked, backed up, and parked on the street.

Dr. Diaz welcomed me into his ranch style home on a quiet street off of Thunderbird and 40th St. The house wasn’t quite what I had expected. It was, I don’t know, modest. I guess I expected more of a mix between the Playboy mansion and Kid Rock’s pad but this was subtle, not gaudy at all. The front door was blood red and the chimney felt out of place for a desert oasis. The inside was clean and well-lit with lots of photos on the wall of people who were not there. There was no one there. He was alone. Dr. Diaz lived alone.

As we sat down to eat the Thanksgiving feast that he had prepared I thought about how I would go about asking him tactfully just what was going on with his family. I distinctly remember him mentioning a wife and several children in the present tense on more than one occasion. Yet here we sat, us two at a table set for many. This was not a layer of the Dr. Diaz onion that I was expecting to peel back today or any other day.

I looked around the house for clues as my mind raced. There was so much about this place that didn’t fit, simply because it was so ordinary, so domesticated. The pictures on the wall hung symmetrically and showed a wife and at least three grown sons but a careful inspection of the house showed no visible evidence of anyone else living in the house. No other shoes lying around, no other jackets hanging on the coat rack, no post-it notes stuck to the fridge, nothing.

This guy is clearly living some kind of a double life. A mild-mannered family man with no family at home and an egotistical tyrant at work. What else was he hiding? After eating, Dr. Diaz opened a bottle of Valencia D.O. wine and poured us both a glass. Ah, in vino veritas, finally the truth will come pouring out of him and I’ll get some closure to all these anomalies. Sadly, three glasses later and all I had learned were the pros and cons of the snowbirds who come from Canada to “winter” in Phoenix and the only thing I worked up the courage to ask for was an aspirin for the splitting headache I now had.

I squinted at the clock and noticed that it was only 4:30 pm when he started posturing for the door. He said that he had some business to take care of downtown. When I said that I thought I should call for an Uber, he insisted that he would drop me off at my apartment because he was headed that way anyhow. In the cozy, black leather passenger seat of his Cadillac Deville, cruising down the 51 South, I wondered what business he could possibly have in South Phoenix on Thanksgiving but my aching head had put my inquiring mind at a pause.

Back at school after the long weekend, we had to re-teach all of our policies and procedures. The students all came back with a vengeance, like a mob of banshees or something. They were off the wall going on about all the crazy adventures they had and the fact that that guy, that thing, El Medico, if that was even a thing, may or may not have delivered turkeys and other goodies to some of the student’s houses. They were going crazy about it, you would have thought J. Lo had delivered the turkeys herself. It was crazy, all it takes for 11th graders to forget everything you’ve taught them about how to behave civilly in school, is a long weekend. After Thanksgiving, the countdown to the Winter break was so on.

The 1st of December was covered with dust, but it was actually chilly, like it only got to around 65 degrees that day and it was only partly sunny. Trying to get anything productive done in the month of December is a fool’s errand, with all the dances, field trips, semester rewards, pep rallies, not to mention the testing. Yes, more testing…already. Of course, Dr. Diaz was just the fool to take on this Herculean task. He was all business, right down to the last class on the last day.

Needless to say, the students get pretty excited this time of year as well. A lot more students than I had expected were talking about taking trips over the holiday, I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but I was. Lots of kids talked about movies they were going to see and what they expected to get for Christmas and that character, El Medico kept coming up. From what I could gather, about half the kids believed that he was real and about half thought it was made up. A myth, like Santa or Chupacabra. He seemed to have struck on all the holidays so far this year but apparently Christmas was his bread and butter, his pinto and beans.

They were saying that he dresses up like Santa, so as not to draw attention to himself, but instead of asking for money for “charity” like all the other Santas standing in front of stores, he would actually give out money. I heard he would give out all kinds of things; clothes, presents, school supplies, food, and yes, he would apparently give out cold hard cash to a lot of the residence of southwest Phoenix. Honestly, when I first started to hear about this character at the beginning of the year, before Halloween, I thought he sounded like a perv, if he even existed, but now it seems like he’s the real deal. A real life St. Nicholas.

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As the winter holiday approached, I heard more and more chatter about this El Medico, there were sightings of him around the neighborhoods and, as stories tend to do, as they go from first hand stories to third and fourth hand stories, the legend grew larger and more elaborate. During home room, I’d hear someone say that he gave their mother $10.00 at the gas station and by 7th period, the story had morphed into him walking on water then converting it into Jose Cuervo. Quite impressive.

I asked around if anyone knew who this guy was. I thought maybe I could get him to come to the school and give a talk about the goodness of charity and giving, maybe do an interview with the school newspaper, but everyone said that he is like Batman, he goes to great lengths to hide his identity. The Monday before the Winter holiday, I started to craft a plan. I wanted to find this guy. This couldn’t be that hard. I’d always hypothesized that if you wanted to see Batman in person, just fake a robbery or something and he’d come and save you, then you could get your selfie with him or whatever.

I was confident that I could pull that off without putting myself out too much, this guy was no Batman after all. I’m sure the telephone game effect made him out to be much more than he really was. I’m sure he’s just a regular dude who gives full size Snickers out at Halloween and doesn’t make a habit of re-gifting last year’s presents on Christmas. It’s not like he’s on CNN’s HEROS: 2020 list or anything.

So I crafted a plan with a couple of the students to set a trap. Nothing nefarious or anything, it’s not like I was trying to unmask him. I was just curious as to what the real story was with this guy and maybe the kids could get a free bag of Hot Cheetos out of it for their troubles. The plan was simple: I dress up, or down, as a homeless guy on the street with a cardboard sign with the plea:

    “Hungry Vet. Anything helps. God Bless!!”

And the kids pretend to walk by and mock me obnoxiously, hopefully drawing the ire of passer byers enough to get El Medico’s attention. So I asked one of my economically challenged neighbors if I could borrow some of his duds, picked up an empty tin of Folder’s and off we went.

The first day of winter break was a brisk, sunny Wednesday with a slight breeze coming from the North. I set myself up outside of the Circle K on Osborn and 35th Ave. and told the kids to go in the store, buy some gum or something, come out and give me a hard time for a while, then take a lap around the block. After ten minutes, circle back and do it again. After a few rounds of this, hopefully they’ll draw enough attention to themselves and me, that our hero, if he is any hero at all, will show himself.

The boys did a great job, it’s not like they didn’t have plenty of practice giving me crap in public, they were my students after all. They came out of the store with 44 ounce drinks and when I asked, “Could you boys please spare some change?”

“Get a job, loser!” Juan said.

“You stink bro, take a shower!” Jesus laughed.

“OK,” I said, “It’s Christmas time. ‘Tis the season.”

“‘Tis the season…to be sucky!” Gustavo said.

“Ok?” I said, holding out my can.

“Yeah, ’tis the season…” Juan started.

“Yeah?” I asked optimistically.

“…for Deez Nutz!”

Hey!” I barked, giving them the look that reminded them that I was still their teacher.

The boys scurried off and ten minutes later they were back for round two. After about round seven, it was getting pretty late. The boys couldn’t drink much more soda and they needed to be getting home soon. They were looking pretty beat when they came out of the store for the eighth time and were sort of just going through the motions by this point.

“Hey old man, why don’t you…I don’t know, go fly a kite.” Jesus said lazily, fresh out of insults. I think Gustavo was about to throw some ice on me when a I heard loud, clogging footsteps and a man stepped out from around the corner wearing a Santa suit with shiny black boots and black, Gucci leather gloves.

He walked up to the boys and said, “Boys, you got to learn not to talk to grown-ups that way.”

“Uh, yes Sir. We’re sorry Sir.” They said in complete awe.

“Well, it looks like you boys have put in a long day’s work.” The man said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a wad of cash.

“Uh, yes Sir. I guess we have.” Juan said, wondering how he knew that.

“How’s $20 bucks an hour sound?” He asked and then handed them each a crisp $100.oo bill.

Daaaaamn! Thanks Mister!” They all said, the enthusiasm returning.

“Alright, now you boys get on home. I’ll be around later to make sure you got there safely.” The man said as the boys ran off into the night. The man looked at me as I made my way to my feet and tried to shake away my sleeping legs.

“So,” I said, extending out my hand to shake his, “you must be the one they call El Medico?”

The tall man took off one of his black, Gucci gloves, exposing a diamond studded pinky ring and scoffed, “El Medico. That’s the stupidest name I’ve ever heard.” Then, shaking my hand, less firmly this time, said, “It’s Doctor. Don’t ever let it happen again.”

The End

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Posted by on December 9, 2020 in Christmas, Fiction


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Gas Panic!

Gas Panic!

The recent protests that began as a response to the abhorrent murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer seemed to put an end to the three-month, nationwide Covid-19 lock-down. The shutdown in general seemed, to many conspiracy minded people, to be a massive social experiment to assess what the general public would be willing to go along with in a time of fear and panic. “What are they making us go along with here?” They asked. 

“We’re giving you our complete cooperation. There’s no need to bark at us!”

That was more than a little confusing, but to everyday people, as tragic an incident as it took to instigate the pivot, there was a sense of relief that the lockdown was finally over. The unanimous feeling of outrage over the murder of George Floyd seemed like there was even potential for national unity, a silver lining to an extremely ominous cloud. Well, that lasted for five minutes. But even when the issue became socially and politically divided, even that tension restored a sense of familiarity that was, in its own way, comforting.  

Then Trump decided to hold a rally.   

Nothing in this God forsaken year however, could have prepared me for the shock and astonishment I felt when I saw two NBC news articles posted side-by-side, one saying, “Beautiful, peaceful and diverse”: Thousands of protesters flood streets near White House.” and then five minutes later, an article titled: “Extraordinarily dangerous”: Trump rally draws grave concerns from top health officials.” These articles are still there, and time stamped for everyone to see. 

If you’re going to talk about the dangers of American racism outweighing the dangers of the ‘Rona, that is an argument I’m willing to listen to but you are going to have to show your math on that, something that has been tragically lacking in recent discourse. On the other hand, if you’re talking about justifying one and condemning another based on indoor vs. outdoor gatherings, while that is a fair argument, the “Beautiful, peaceful…” vs. “Extraordinarily dangerous…” chasm between headlines is clear propaganda. The devotion you would have to have to your ideology to go along with this would be nothing short of fundamentally religious. Do they think we’re Dory from Finding Nemo, and what exactly are they trying to get us to go along with? 

I think it’s fair to expect this kind of hypocrisy from politicians and as disturbing as it is to have blatantly partisan media, which is something that not nearly enough people are aware of, to the extent that it is, but what I think is the real danger here is the regular citizens obediently going along with this. Politicians and news organizations are obviously acting on the assumption that we are actually that stupid, that they know we’re not paying attention, and that we truly don’t care that they know that we know that they know that they are lying to us. But when does political gaslighting turn to full on, Maoist brainwashing? 

After three full months of this, it was surprising to see the seamless, complete 180 turn from the news media, people on social media, and especially from medical professionals. Without hesitation and literally overnight, we went from complete isolation and only “essential” workers with extreme precautions allowed in public to mass protests being celebrated by the very same people who told us that even the most sacred public gatherings of any kind were absolutely out of the question.   

This reminded me of how, during the Korean War, the Chinese forced American POWs to write essays. The essays were harmless enough at first, but in brainwashing, incremental escalation is the key feature. First, they insisted that they be written, not spoken, then they were forced to write obvious things that anyone could write like, “Slavery is bad.” or “Unemployment isn’t a problem under communism.” They would give little rewards for completing an essay and the message was clear; You will write what we tell you to write. The essays, the tasks, and the brainwashing was a tactical series of concessions that became easier and easier to swallow by the soldiers until they had denounced the United States completely.   

This recent media hypocrisy, of course is not an isolated incident. There are other obvious examples of this mental manipulation on the rise in our society. There is the sleight of hand in attempting to intentionally blur the line between BLM: the controversial organization from a statement: Black Lives Matter, that is as self-evident as saying: Fresh Water Matters and then using bullying tactics to shame people to “Say the words!”. There is also the issue of fundamental human biology that has become hijacked so aggressively that actual forced speech legislation has been passed in some places to demand that citizens speak words that they know are objectively false. The key to effective brainwashing. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Without the “ability to function” however, we are simply left with the definition of cognitive dissonance, which, if not addressed as a society through actual honest dialogue and truly difficult conversations, not just politically correct ones that confirm your prior beliefs, but serious conversations that use numbers and figures, leaves us, quite literally, dysfunctional.  

I think the real question we should all be asking ourselves, wherever you lie politically is, what exactly are they trying to get us to go along with here? I’m not sure what the answer is, but I think it has something to do with not going along with that first concession.   

Mike Black

Author of Boug Boys and The Merry Pranksters



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Posted by on June 24, 2020 in opinion, Uncategorized


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The Merry Pranksters: Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down

Chapter XXXI 

    Saturday night gives way to Sunday morning but there’s no telling when or how. None at all. We all may or may not have slept, I’m pretty sure I passed out after we got home from Cooper’s and Dicky and I took turns doing upside-down beer bongs from our keg and Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia margaritas laced with cocaine in leu of salt. At some point Curt grew tired of freebasing coke through a straw and started rocking it up with a blowtorch. There are visions of us stomping around on the black Armani couches, taking blasts of rock cocaine like it was some Native American peyote ritual that we needed to be naked for.  

    How they got in was unclear, yet Crazy Ginger and Lolita showed up at some point, though I don’t remember ever seeing them come through the door, they just slithered their way in. Someone must have spoken their names, whatever their names really are, out loud three times and they just manifested. It could have been me. It’s hard to say.  

    Somewhere in between songs, after having my way with Ginger on my bed but before putting it in her ass I asked her if I could tie her up to the mahogany bedpost on my king-sized bed. She got very excited. A dusting of confusion began to emerge. I feel like my motivation for wanting to tie her up may have missed her entirely.  

    Either way, Sunday morning is now a reality that we all have to make our peace with whether we like it or not. Saturday night is a memory but a memory with a chain of evidence that hasn’t been properly wiped clean yet. Here it is, still on fire, still bleeding. Saturday night’s wounds have not had time to adequately scar over. All the sunlight does is shine a light on the debauchery that went down.  

    My phone starts chirping at me as I’m clinging to the crystal chandelier over the pool table, holding on for dear life, swinging around like a goddam carousel. It’s M. B. calling, and once Dicky convinces me that its safe, I crawl down the maroon, velvet curtains and curl up in a ball on the sofa to take the call.  

    “Who in the God so loving F…what the finger banging hell is this all about?” I ask, cautiously, lighting a cigarette. 

    “You motherfuckers are ate the fuck up.” The voice on the other end of the phone is shouting. “Have you slept?” 

    “I’ve uh, I’ve…yeah I’ve slept. I was just…cleaning up. Ya know, exercising. You know, drawing the curtains and the like, doing push-ups…” I say looking around the house, there is a new painting, New York Skyline at Night, an original Jake Rosen, hanging on the wall next to the George Nelson, Sunflower clock. The thermometer reads 58 degrees although it feels colder than that. Dicky is sitting on the black leather sofa wearing a St. Louis Rams visor, mirrored Aviator shades from Ray-Bans, and hot pink Abercrombie and Fitch boxer/briefs, chewing on a metal coat hanger with his guitar in his lap trying to write a song but the only words on the page are Does Dicky Do it? Dicky doesn’t do it. Dicky doesn’t do it. Over and over again. 

    Curt is in his room, naked with a forest green and gold striped Ralph Lauren necktie knotted around his neck and tied to the ceiling fan that is on medium, attempting to beat off to the centerfold in the August addition of Samson Magazine. I walk by, closing the door telekinetically.  

    Lolita is curled up on the Love Seat wearing one of my black Guns ’n Roses T-shirts and pink lace and nylon panties. She is sucking her thumb and rubbing the soft satin tag of the T-shirt on her lips like a child. A morphine laced lollipop she was sucking on is stuck in her hair that will leave a bald spot if not cut out with a razor blade.   

    M.B. is rambling about construction work on his cell phone and I can hear Curt grunting from his room but other than that, further away, distant, I can hear a muffled moaning. Flashbacks of a wretched scene set in my bedroom begin to dawn and a paranoia starts to overwhelm me. 

    “Michael,” I whisper into the phone. “I can’t listen to this right now. Something nefarious is happening in other parts of the house.” 

    “Take a fucking nap and then come over.” He shouts. “We’re BBQin’ at the pool all day.” 

    “Alright man, I’ll see what I can put together.” I say. 

    “Whatever Dude.” He mocks. 

    “Oh, don’t tell Valerie or anyone like that.” I say, peeking over at Lolita and touching myself through my silk, Lord & Tayler boxer shorts. 

    “I don’t invite junkies to my crib Dude.” He says blankly. 

    “Well…alright then.” I trail off, hanging up the phone at some point. 

    I go in my bedroom cautiously to see what all of the ruckus is about. I find Ginger tied up and gagged to my bed, kicking and squirming around like a hooked eel, wrinkling the satin sheets. I loosen her black, silk blindfold and she starts to give me head. Confusion doesn’t begin to describe what I’m feeling. I think about Lolita and her pink panties and I cum in Ginger’s mouth before I can pull out to cum on her face. I let this eat me up for, what I would consider to be a healthy amount of time before coming to grips with the reality of what just happened.  

    CNN is on the T.V. talking about Chandra Levy. Wolf Blitzer is now sure, and he is assuring the audience that Rep. Gary Condit was having an affair with and murdered her. I crawl into the shower to try and give myself a fighting chance of making it another day and when I emerge baptized, Fooky is beating Curt in an intense game of pool. I pop three Xanies and join Dicky at the bar for a Beefeater and tonic. 

Excerpt from the novel The Merry Pranksters

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Posted by on June 4, 2020 in Fiction, TheMerryPranksters


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Dear Santa,

Dear Santa,
Bad Santa

Spoiler alert: If  you believe that Santa Claus is a real person that brings you toys on Christmas, please do not read any further.

Friends, first let me extend my warmest Christmas wishes from me and my family to you and your family. I hope each and every one of your Christmas miracles come true this year, next year and every other year for as long as we all shall live. I hope with all my heart that you are able to make your children’s Christmas dreams come true as well, I hope it is a magical time and the memories created last a lifetime.

That being said, I do feel like the holidays can sometimes bring out the best and the worst in people and I feel it is important to maintain just a wee bit of perspective. One point that people tend to take too far is Santa. For some, children in particular, Santa is the very cornerstone of Christmas. He is after all the reason for the season…or wait…maybe it’s that other guy… never mind. Anyway, he’s a big part of it and I feel like I need to point out a very un-Christmassy point. Santa Claus does not, in fact, exist.

I realize that this is Christmas blasphemy.  Believe me, no one hates a Scrooge on Christmas more than me, but it’s a fact. All the movies about Santa that end with that last wink from the big guy to the kids saying that, “Yes, I AM real, but let’s just keep it between us and leave those grown-up Grinches who don’t believe to their miserable lives.”

I know, as a parent you want to shield this harsh reality from your children for as long as possible. The same way any parent would hope to shield their child from any other of life’s cruel realities such as death, old people, or Love Actually. It’s only natural but you need to be prepared to deal with this bombshell when, not if, it unavoidably drops.

It’s important to treat this like any other difficult milestone of parenting and growing up in the real world. Be a responsible parent and have a proper sit-down with your child. Not unlike when a grandparent, pet, or if you’re American, a classmate should die suddenly. Unfortunately it’s time for one of those dreaded “parenting moments”.

Like most things in life, the important thing is to maintain your composure. You knew this day would come, or at least you should have and panicking or blaming others does little to calm the situation. I once had the misfortune of watching a man who was trying to sell furniture to a young family and when he joked to the 5 ft. tall, 150 lb ginger haired son, “It’s not like you still believe in Santa or anything…”

The mother’s face turned to stone and the father went off to tell the manager what this “bad man” had done. As the 25-year-old manager scolded this 50-year-old man in Ebonics about how he should have been more sensitive to the “child” a little piece me, of the culture and of the world, died that day.

So parents, if you are going to tell your children that it is Santa who brings them toys on Christmas, please do it with an air of lightheartedness. No kid actually believes in Big Bird but it doesn’t take anything away from the Sesame Street experience. After all how do expect your kids to trust you when it comes to the big stuff if they find out you lied to them about Santa? Good luck getting them to buy the whole God thing once they know that all those times you told them that if they didn’t behave, Santa would bring them coal instead of toys. Is Hell any worse than getting coal on Christmas for a kid?

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Posted by on December 8, 2020 in Christmas


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The Mushroom Epiphany

The Mushroom Epiphany

Excerpt from the novel The Merry Pranksters

Things don’t seem the way they seem.

    “I can’t believe we used to do this all the time.” I say, breaking an epic pause. “It’s so crazy. When you smoke weed or do coke, even take pills, you more or less know what you’re going to get but with these ‘shrooms man, anything can happen. It’s nuts.” I finish, possibly to myself but even the silent thought seems to reverberate throughout the park. 

    “Yeah…man.” Dicky gets around to saying at some point.  

    Curt is ranting about something hysterically, but I can’t be bothered. His mouth is running like a piston and noises are coming out but what he could possibly be talking about is anyone’s guess. 

    “Hey man, I gotta tell you something.” I start hesitantly. “There’s something I feel like I have to say, I’ve been thinking about this, or it’s been sort of swirling around in my head for a while and I haven’t really thought it through, but now I feel like I have to get it off my chest.” I’m nervous though I’m not sure why. I can almost feel myself being watched, like the trees themselves are watching, listening…spying. 

    “You’re gay, Schultz.” Dicky says. “We know. We’ve always known.” 


    “No Man, like at school, at Lindenwood, it feels…like something is off. There’s like a whole weird feeling I get that there is like a secret cult or something going on, Man. Only it’s not secret, it’s not even unspoken, it’s just kind of an attitude. I don’t really know how to explain it or, I haven’t really thought it through all the way but it’s kind of like…” 

    “Schultz, what the fuck are you talking about?” Curt snaps. 

    “Alright so,” I’m gathering my thoughts, my courage. “You know how when we were in Elementary school, we were taught that America was the greatest country in the history of the world and everything that America does is right and just and good?” 

    “Yeah, I’m following you so far.” Curt says. 

    “High school didn’t really scratch the surface that much further; they just added a few more details, right?” I say. 

    “Still with you.” Dicky says. 

    “Well then you get to college and all that changes, right from the beginning. They shatter that whole image and they start to tell you the real truth. It’s like they peel the onion back a layer that no one has peeled back before.”  

    “Like what?” Curt asks, his face melting partially off.  

    “Oh, stuff like, that all the founding fathers were a bunch of slave owners, or that we stole the land from the Native Americans and then stole half of Mexico from the Mexicans, that the whole system is set up by rich, white men in order to keep everyone else down and keep rich whitey rich, crap like that. George Bush, our president, well he’s a fake president. He stole the 2000 election from Al Gore. Al Gore, he’s all environmental and everything. He’s the only one who is going to save the planet from the greedy capitalists that are just out to make a buck and don’t care who they hurt or how dirty our air and water is. You follow?” 

    “You lost me, Dude.” Dicky says. 

    “Yeah, Dude, what the fuck are you talking about?” Curt piggybacks. 

    “O.K., look, first you have the Republicans.” I start, eyes tightly shut. “The Republicans, they’re on the right, they hate poor people, so they don’t want to help them at all. They want to take away the food stamps and welfare from poor families who are just trying to put food on the table and clothes on the backs of their kids. They have been keeping the black man down, the brown man down the whole time, oppressing them with the help of the fat cats in Washington, their corporate buddies, Wall St., all those A-holes. America is a racist, horrible place that turns everything it touches to crap.” 

    “Alright, so the Republicans are ass holes. Got it.” Hudson confirms. 

    “So, then you have the Democrats, they’re on the left like Clinton and Al Gore, see they’re the good guys. They want to help the poor people, the working man, by giving them the assistance that they need, to give them the food and the money that they need to support their families. To take from those greedy capitalists who don’t pay their fair share of taxes and give to the hard-working people who are just trying to make ends meet. To save the planet from corporations who are polluting the planet just to make a couple million dollars. And health care. Remember Bill Clinton’s wife, what’s her name, Hilary, tried to get healthcare for all Americans? It didn’t work but she tried. Why didn’t it work? The damn Republicans don’t care if people die with no health care, they just don’t want to pay for it because they are greedy capitalist pigs.” 

    “Yeah!!” Curt shouts.  

    “Just look at the news, they agree. They talk about it all the time, every night they are talking about it just like at Lindenwood. It’s not just one or two teachers, it’s all the teachers. All the teachers, who teach all the students say that what we have grown up to believe about God, and America, and our parents, and rich whitey, it’s all bullcrap. They opened all of our eyes to what is really going on in the world.”  

    “Yeah, so what’s the problem?” Curt asks. 

    “The problem is…” I whisper, looking around to make sure no one else is listening. I’m shivering but it may be from the frigid cold. “The problem is…” I’m leaning in. Whispering. “The problem is Man… that I think it just might all be bullshit.” 

    “What?!” Curt shouts. 

    “Shh! Keep your voice down, they’ll hear us!” I say, completely paranoid. 

    “What the fuck do you mean?” Dicky asks. 

    “All of it.” I repeat. 

    “What do you mean?” Curt asks again. 

    “Alright, stay with me here.” I start, clearing my throat. “So, when we were kids there was an onion called America and everything that we learned was peeling back one layer of that onion. Then you get to college and all the things I just described to you, that’s peeling back another layer of the onion. Only now that I’ve been in school for three years and have had time to sort of look into this a little, I’ve realized that that’s where they stop. They stop peeling back the onion after that second layer, they don’t go any further.” 

Open your eyes, take the Red Pill.

    “You’re losing me Schultz.” Dicky says. 

    “I started to notice things not really adding up a little while ago. Little things like, I don’t know, like, slavery for example. They tell us that America is a horrible place because we founded the country on slavery. So, is all that true? Well yes, of course that’s true. We all know that but it’s not the whole story. You have to peel back the onion further. So yes, we had slavery in the United States and that was a really really bad thing. No one argues that, but if you think about it, everywhere had slaves. Every civilization or country in the history of the world had slaves. White people had other white slaves. The Irish were basically slaves, hell, even Africans had African slaves.  

    But when they talk about America, you’d think we were the only people to ever have slavery, like we invented it or something. So, the question really shouldn’t be who had slaves, because the answer is everyone. The question should really be, who ended slavery?”  


    “The answer is, we did. We fought a war against our own people to end slavery that killed more Americans than any other war, which is kind of a no shit point if you think about it. But anyway, it wasn’t even the slaves who stood up and revolted, it was the regular people that did that. The people decided that it was bad, and we ended it.” 

    “Yeah Dude, but we still did really shitty things to a lot of people. What about the Indians, sorry, the Native Americans?” 

    “O.K. well think about that, God didn’t create the universe and on the seventh day said, ‘Let North America belong to the Native Americans and Mexico and its borders belong to the Mexicans.’ did he? No. Native Americans fought over territory and a million other things for centuries way before the Europeans ever got here. Mexico fought wars and claimed territory in the same way every other country on the planet has ever become a country.  

    So why is the narrative, the story they tell, that the white man came and stole it? Because we have it now? Think about that, that doesn’t make any kind of sense. What happened was, we fought a war with Mexico, we won that war and then paid Mexico for the land we won. When have you ever heard of a country winning a war over land and then paying the loser for it? We didn’t have to do that, but we did.” 

    “Yeah but Dude, really, we killed like, all of the indigenous people living here. It was a genocide.” Hudson chimes in. 

    “That’s true. That is totally true and really crappy but to be fair, and to be truly intellectually honest, the world was a brutal place back then.” I’m uncomfortable saying this out loud for the first time. It feels so dirty, so ugly but I feel like it needs to be said so I continue. “Do you have any idea what things were like back then? Without going down that rabbit hole too far, you really can’t retroactively go back and judge history through the morality of today. The world was a completely different place back then, and it was F’ing brutal.” 

    “I don’t know about all that, Dude.” Dicky says, unimpressed. 

    “You have to peel back the onion a little further to get to a fuller picture, to realize that all of these arguments that they are constantly spewing, they’re all kind of nonsense. You don’t have to dig that much deeper to see that all these arguments are pretty much horse crap.” 

    There’s a pause while I catch my breath. Dicky sticks his finger in the air and finally asks, “Well, what about the welfare and the inner cities and all the poor people just trying to make ends meet and all that shit?” 

    “Good question.” I continue. “The Democrats, that’s the Clintons and the Gores of the world, they like to think that they are the compassionate ones because they want to help the poor people in the inner-cities, but think about it, how do you really help people? You know the saying, ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.’ Well that’s what the Democrats are doing, they’re just giving people fish without teaching them how to fish. We’re meant to work man, we’re beasts of burden. If you take away our need to work, our drive, you take away our whole reason for existing. We’re supposed to take on our responsibility, as humans, head on, not farm it out to the government.” 

    “That’s harsh, Dude.” Dicky says, shaking his head slightly. 

    “Is it?” I ask. “They make it seem like it’s all or nothing. There’s a huge difference between helping people get started, giving them a leg up and completely enabling them. We as a country do a lot for poor people, but at some point, you stop helping and you start hurting them, crippling them to the point that they don’t know how to take care of themselves, even if they wanted to.  

    O.K., here’s another example. What about when you go to a pond and the sign says, ‘Don’t feed the ducks. They will become dependent on humans and not learn how to feed themselves.’ That’s what they’re doing. It’s like they want to people to be the ducks and be reliant on the government for everything.”  

    “They wouldn’t do that, why would they do that?” Hudson asks. 

    “Well, in a word, Power I guess, and some warped sense of fairness.” 

    “Damn.” Curt says. 

    “Think about all their causes, racism, global cooling, inequality, and all that stuff. These are all boogeyman issues that are impossible to solve especially by the federal government. You solve these problems locally, in people’s hearts and minds. In the family, in the community, not by the federal government holding a gun to your head. Even if it were the government’s job to tackle all of those things, which it is not and never has been in this country…at all, the only way to do that would be for the government to take over everything and control it like the communists did in Russia and China in the 20th century.” 

    “Why?” Dicky asks. 

    “Well, for one, because there’s no way to pay for it! Whenever you hear about the government paying for something or doing anything, you have to remember, the government doesn’t make anything, they don’t sell anything. All they do is spend taxpayer money. That’s the money that we earn, and they take and spend it. The problem with a big government is that they run out of other people’s money, our money to spend.” 

    “Fuckin’ hell, Dude.” Hudson says, rubbing his temples. 

    “I’m all for helping people. I want everyone to be able to live their lives in peace, prosperity, have clean air to breathe and everything else, I just think that the government is the last place I would look to for solutions for anything. It’s like the plant from Little Shop of Horrors, the more you feed it, the more it grows out of control. I think the problem is that people truly believe that it won’t become a blood sucking monster but that is historically illiterate.  

    And by the way, isn’t that wildly condescending and more than just a little bit racist to imply that certain groups in our society are incapable of taking care of themselves and need to be treated differently than other groups, like children? I mean, you and I don’t get money from the government and I wouldn’t want it.  


    “Dude get the fuck outta here. That’s crazy!” Dicky laughs, thinking that I’m F’ing with everyone the way he F’s with people. 

    “Is it?” I say again. “Look at every big city in the country, look at St. Louis or Goodfellow and Duck’s neighborhood, they have all been run by Democrats since at least the late 60’s, now it’s 2001, are they any better off? Not a Republican in sight and they are all still S-holes and not getting any better. Look at Duck’s freaking ‘hood. And they blame the Republicans and call them racist?” 

    “So, what, are you a Republican now?” Dicky asks. 

    “No man,” I say shaking my head. “I don’t like teams, I’m not a team player. I can’t get behind all the social nonsense like religion, the war on drugs, and censorship. I’m not down with the man telling people what to do. The government can’t even fix potholes or put up a simple Disk Golf chain in our park, you think they can fix your life? No way! Whoever is telling people what to do, what to think, what they can or can’t say, and what to do with their time and money, I’m not down with that.” 

    “So, what are you then?” Curt asks. 

    “Well since I’ve had a total of 28 minutes to think this through, I guess I’d say I’m pretty libertarian on most things.” 

    “What the fuck is that?” Curt asks. 

    “Well, basically, it means liberty. You’re free to do whatever you want…as long as you can pay for it. It’s all about personal liberty, not these collective groups that they try to put us in to divide us: victim vs. victimizer, oppressor vs. oppressed. That’s straight out of The Communist Manifesto. The hard truth is that the world is never going to be equal. People don’t put in equal effort for one, but even trees and animals are unequal, there really is no other way to do it without stealing one person’s stuff to give it to another person. Nothing is free, man. Mice die in traps because they don’t understand why the cheese is free.” 

    “Yeah Dude, the hood has been the hood for a long time. That shit’s true.” Curt says. 

    “Well isn’t it fucked up that the rich people don’t pay their fair share of taxes?” Dicky asks. 

    “Dude, when they talk about rich people and companies not paying their “fair share” of taxes, well that’s complete bullcrap.” I go on to explain further. 

    “Dude, rich people don’t pay taxes. We all know that.” Hudson says confidently. 

    “No man, sorry but that is simply not even close to being true.” I’m explaining. “The wealthy not only pay their fair share; they pay almost everyone’s share. They’re not the problem, they’re the ones paying for everything. Do you know that the top 10% of wage earners, the richest 10% in this country pay 85% of the taxes? The top 25% pay for 90% of the taxes. The bottom 30% don’t pay taxes at all.”  

    “Is that true?” Curt asks. 

    “F yeah it’s true! Look it up on the internet.” I’m shouting. 

    “The what?” Hudson asks. 

    “Oh, you know, on a computer.” I say. “That place where you can watch Pamela Anderson giving Tommy Lee a hummer.” 

    “Oh yeah. That’s just for nerds and pervs isn’t it?” Hudson asks. 

    “Maybe, but there is all the information in the history of the planet there, so… Anyway, we went to war for our independence back in the day because Britain was taxing us without us being represented, remember “Taxation without Representation.” Well what we have now is “Representation without Taxation.” It’s completely ass backwards. You have people who have a vested interest in one party over the other because they have been conditioned to depend on them for everything, without contributing anything.” 

    “You know who are the biggest people pushing this? It isn’t the poor people, it’s the rich white kids and professors and liberal politicians. But these rich, white kids, who have grown up with all the privileges that our free market, capitalist society has to offer, they are the quickest ones to tell others that they should give their stuff away. These people can afford to pay a 50% tax rate. It’s the regular people, the people they claim to want to help who can’t afford it. They want all the privilege as well as all the virtue of being poor, as if being poor or a victim is virtuous by itself. They’re not willing to give up their money, no no, or their seat at this prestigious University to people less fortunate, but they sure want everyone else to do it. It’s wealth distribution, Man! It’s stealing. It’s a friggin’ legal, Mafia style shakedown. Taxation is theft, Dude.” 

    “I don’t know, Schultz. That all seems pretty crazy.” Dicky says. 

    “You know, think about it this way, why is sex with your girlfriend not rape? Consent, right? What makes going to work not slavery? Consent. So, what makes taxes not theft?” I pause for effect. “Flippin’ crickets’ man. It’s a mystery! That’s taxes.” 

    “Alright Dude, well, you know more about this shit than I do so, whatever.” Curt says. 

    “Dude, I can’t believe it took a mushroom trip for me to see things so clearly. I gotta tell people about this!” I finally finish, taking a deep breath. 

    “Yeah, good luck with that Schultz.” Dicky says as we all gather our thoughts and head up the hill back to our house. 

    “Well Dude,” Curt starts, “It’s fucking hard to take something away from people once you’ve started giving it to them.” 

    “That’s a good point, Dog. I think they know that. That’s why they try to sneak it in progressively and then downplay it. They know it can never be taken back.” I say. 

    We walk through our front door for the first time since the disaster and it’s like The Love Boat; bright, shiny and new.  

    “Damn Dude, Beth and Stephanie did a fucking great job.” Dicky says. 

    “Wait a second, is this real? This doesn’t seem real.” I say, taking a good look around. 

    “No shit, the place looks as good as new.” Dicky says. 

    “Did you guys always have a pool table and a bar in here?” Hudson asks. 

    “I don’t know. I don’t know what I know.” I say out loud. “Everything is suspect.” 

    “See, I know bitches who straighten shit out.” Curt says accusingly. “You two only seem to find bitches who fuck shit up.”  

The Merry Pranksters -Mike Black

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Posted by on September 27, 2020 in Fiction, TheMerryPranksters


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The Merry Pranksters: You Got the Stuff?

Chapter XLIII 

    “Dude, what are you going to wear?” I shout from my room. I’m standing in front of my mirrored sliding glass closet flipping through hangers of clothes. I grab two shirts and walk out to the living room where Dicky is sitting leisurely at the bar stirring a glass of scotch with his finger. 

    “Schultz,” He says without looking up from his drink. “I’ve heard you say a lot of gay shit over the years. I’ve known you for a long time, Kid, since you were a skinny ass fucking hippy, scamming motherfuckers for crack money in Stamm’s shitty garage. But that is head and shoulders beyond the gayest thing I have ever heard you or any other motherfucker say in my entire life.”  

    “So…” I start, holding both shirts up to my neck, alternating back and forth between the two. “Which one, the Louis Vuitton polo or the Navy Boglioli button down?”  

    “Get the fuck outta here with that shit Schultzy, you’re too caught up in all that bullshit.” He says, pouring himself and me another drink from the bar now that we’re back on the scotch. “It’s all in your head, Man. You know, that right? All this shit…” He slurs, pointing around in a general sort of way, spilling his scotch on the polar bear rug. “All this shit is just in your fuckin’ head, Man.” 

    “I’ll take that as a vote for the Louie.” I say, putting on the shirt, drinking the scotch he poured me, and handing the glass back to him, shaking the ice suggestively. “Is that what you’re wearing?” I ask looking him up and down. He’s wearing flip-flops from Wal-Mart, stained blue jeans, a faded black and gold Mizzu T-shirt though he never went there and mirrored Aviator shades from Ray-Ban. He pours me another drink, hands it to me graciously, then tells me to go fuck myself.  

    “Where are we on the coke?” I ask, though I’m distracted by the lack of definition in my Deltoids I’m inspecting in the gold-plated mirror in the living room. “And where the hell is Curt?” 

    “He said he had it taken care of.” He says changing the channel to CNN. There is non-stop coverage of Gov. Gary Condit, who is now the only suspect in the murder of Chandra Levy who went missing back in May. 

    “Well where the mother F-word is he?” I ask, pacing the living room. 

    “He said he’d meet us there.” Dicky says, tossing a Xanax into the air and catching it in his mouth. 

    “Wait, when did you talk to him?” I ask skeptically. Grabbing the cue ball from the pool table and tossing it casually into the air and catching it. 

    “He just fuckin’ called, Dude.” He says calmly. “Chill the fuck out.” 

    “Can we crush up a bunch of those Xanax and snort some of them?” I ask, setting the white cue ball down on the table less than gently. 

    “No Dude.” He says dryly, finally looking at me from behind his mirrored shades. 

    “Then can we get the blow torch and start smoking them?” I demand, aggressively rolling the cue ball into the black 8 ball, missing the corner pocket.  

    “Dude, you need to chill the fuck out.” He says, tossing me a Xanax which I also catch in my mouth like a dog. 

    “That’s what I’m trying to do.” I say, holding my hands out in front of me to show how bad the shaking is. Dicky is sitting on the bar stool, swiveling idly back and forth with his foot. Suddenly something hits me, and I ask, “Wait, he told you over the phone that he could; get coke, meet us at the gig, and be ready to pull this all off by 7 o’clock?” I ask, then digging in further, “When?” 

    “Dude, Schultz, I just got off the fuckin’ phone with him.” He says, holding up his cell phone, as if that offers any kind of assurance.  

    “Goddamn it, Richard!” I shout. “He’s not that good at these things. He doesn’t know…the things! Details get rearranged, misunderstandings all you see!” 

    “Chill out Dude, he’ll be there. Let’s pack this shit up and head out. Put a fucking T-shirt on and let’s go you fuckin’ queer.” He says tossing a handful of ice cubes at me that land on the Polar Bear rug. 

Excerpt from the novel The Merry Pranksters

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Posted by on June 7, 2020 in Fiction, TheMerryPranksters


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The Merry Pranksters: Polar Bear Rug

The Merry Pranksters: Polar Bear Rug
The rug really ties the room together.

Chapter XVIII

      It’s impossible to gauge how much time is passing as I hibernate in my bed, mummified by bloody bandages and silk bed sheets. I can no longer distinguish between reality and fiction, when I’m asleep or awake. The only thing that’s real in any kind of measurable way is the pain that slithers its way into my nervous system like a serpent, reminding me that, through all the fantasies, dreams, and alternate realities that are flowing around and occupying my consciousness, I have in fact been in a horrible accident. My face and head are being held together by stitches, and that the Caddy is in fact, no more. I take a handful of pills and wash them down with vodka and then keep drinking until I’m back in some other reality that is more palatable. Heavenly, white and pure. New and elaborate.

Suddenly I feel cold. I open my eyes, blink once, twice before looking up at the ceiling and notice for the first time the pearl Corinthian trimming contrasting the ivory white paint. While the bandages and booze are obstructing my vision, I’m seeing everything through very low resolution, I sit up slowly, wondering if I’ve somehow missed something. This is definitely my bedroom but there is something unfamiliar about it. I take two more Percocet’s before touching around gently at my head and body to make sure everything is still attached. I pivot around on my bed to stand up and brace myself for the push up from my mattress to my feet but find that my feet are barely touching the floor. I slide off the king-sized mattress and onto the warmth of a thick purple and gold, multi-threaded Persian rug.

I stand at the foot of my bedroom door and take a blurry look back at my dark room, lit only by a small crack through the plush Armani drapes. When I carefully open my bedroom door, the bright light that floods in from the living room immediately blinds me, causing me to wince in agony. I take that first step into the light and, through the bandages, my eyes slowly begin to adjust to this new and fantastic reality.

Dicky is sitting on the black, leather Armani sofa wearing a red Cardinals jersey and gold pinky ring with his acoustic guitar and the song notebook in his lap while Curt is sitting on the opposite, matching sofa, shirtless, a leather, Harley Davidson chain wallet attached to blue jeans from The Gap, freshly shaved head, and steel-toed boots. He’s playing the bongos, trying to keep a beat and not doing a horrible job, in a Meg White kind of way. Resting comfortably on a large, Polar Bear rug is a glass, Herman Miller Noguchi coffee table. On the coffee table sits a white, porcelain vase filled with fresh Daisies, a marble chess board and a Baccarat Harcourt Abysse crystal lounge ashtray.

“Schultzy, you’re alive!” Dicky says, tossing the brown, leather-bound notebook on the glass coffee table.

“Dude!” Curt starts shouting at me with no regard for the hyper-stimulation that I’m experiencing like a five-year-old that just starts rattling off questions the second Daddy walks in the front door. “We had to go get your shit out of the Caddy the other day. It looked like a fucking accordion!” He finishes on a more somber note than he began. “That was fucked up Dude.”

“I’m glad you’re alright man,” Dicky says, trying to sound sincere, “really, ya’ know, I’m glad you didn’t fucking die, Kid.” He nods at Curt who nods back in agreement. There’s a pause that I feel I have to interrupt.

“Yeah well, you both can tongue my balls.” I say, feeling around at my face, unwrapping the bandages that are stiff with dried blood and pieces of skull.

“What the fuck?” Dicky asks, throwing up his hands in a gesture of genuine confusion.

“Don’t worry Dicky,” Curt says, holding a single hand out in protest. “that’s just the pain meds talking. He doesn’t know what he’s saying.”

“The hell I don’t you C-words!” I shout then tend to my throbbing head. “You both not only stood me up for the gig, I had to get up there and play all by myself and then, and then you all walk in and interrupt my gig, and…and then you two f-f-fuck faces started heckling me!”

“What?” Dicky’s imaginary pearls are clutched. “I…I don’t think” Head shaking. “…did we?” He sort of asks, his mind racing.

“I think we maybe, we might have said something like, ‘Hey Schultz, what up?’” Curt says, nodding, shifting around on the plush leather sofa making a crinkling noise.

“Yeah Dude, I think that’s all we said…I’m pretty sure about that Schultzy.” Dicky assures himself.

“Try,” I start, putting up air quotes, “and I quote, ‘You fucking suck. Jew. Go home you fucking Jew. Please kill yourself. You fucking Jew. Go home. Jew.’ End quote.”

“Schultz, buddy.” Dicky starts. “Here’s the thing, and Curt, I think you’ll agree with this. I don’t wanna put words in your mouth or anything Dude, but what happened there Schultz was, ya see …”

“Dude, what happened was…” Curt interrupts. “You see, we were drunk.”

Dicky thinks about it for a beat or two really hard, squints his eyes and then says, “Yeah Dude, I think that must have been what happened. Ya see, there’s really nothing anyone could have done about it.”

“Yeah Dude, there really was nothing anyone could have done Schultz.” Curt says.

“Yeah well, you both can go pull a frickin’ Daisy Chain on each other for all I care. I quit. I’m out.” I say, shaking my bottle of Percocet’s then eyeballing it carefully.

“Oh, come on Schultzy Baby, don’t be like that.” Dicky pleads.

“Whatever, I’m going to take these bandages off and take a shower. Then you two fags are going to cut these stitches off my nose.”

“Alright Schultzy, love you buddy.” Dicky says lighting joint from a sterling silver, table lighter.

Excerpt from the novel The Merry Pranksters

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Posted by on May 26, 2020 in Fiction, TheMerryPranksters


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The Merry Pranksters: Crazy Love

The Merry Pranksters: Crazy Love



Excerpt from the novel The Merry Pranksters:

…“Is it cold in here?” I’m asking, completely zoned out.

“Dude, what’s up with you and Valerie?” Dicky asks me without answering my question.

“I asked if it was cold in here?” I repeat, breathing to show that my breath is visible.

“Yeah, I heard you.” Dicky says, “Then I asked you about Valerie.”

“I don’t know, Man.” I say, unsure of where this is going. “What about her?”

“Well, look Dude, it’s like this Schultzy… you love her.” He says, for reasons I may never fully realize. “We all know that, so why are you fucking around with that Crazy, Ginger bitch or whatever the fuck her name is?”

“Dude, she’s the one that doesn’t want to put labels on us. She’s not into titles.” I say, putting up air quotes. “Formalities or whatever, ya’ know?”

“Well, here’s the thing dude.” He starts explaining. “You love her. We all know you love her; she knows you love her, kind of, I mean, you keep doing stupid shit that makes her not know for sure, but deep down, she knows that you’ve always loved her.”

“Well I’m not the only one doing stupid shit.” I say in air quotes again, noting not to do that again for at least a week. “You don’t live with her; you don’t know what she does when she’s not here.”

“You think she’s fucking around?” He asks.

“Dude,” I start. “you know how she is, right? She’s either hot or cold” I’m pouring a glass of Don Julio Tequila circa 1942 on ice, then add, “Well I’m not the only dude she’s like that with.” I say, handing Dicky a drink, making eye contact for emphasis.

“Shut the fuck up.” He says, gulping down the drink I just gave him, then taking the bottle and pouring himself another glass. “She fucks around?”

 “Dicky…” I close my eyes tightly in thought. I need this to come out right. “Dude, she’s like a puzzle with…with moving parts.” I say. “There are no edges, there are no male and female parts. Everything is…I don’t know, fluid with her. She has secrets that she will take to the grave and at the same time she will open up her veins and just sit there and bleed for you. She’s crazy, Man. Wild. She’s crazy wild. She is…she’s only what she wants us to believe she is. Or something like that, you know what I’m saying?”

“Kind of.” He says, nodding along.

“She’s crazy wild.” I whisper to myself again. “She makes me crazy…” Pause. “She makes me wild.”  

“But Dude, you are so into her.” He says. “Don’t fucking tell me you’re not. I’ve fucking known you since you were just a skinny ass, long haired kid, Schultz.”

“Well what the fuck do you know about love, Dicky?” I ask accusingly, casually taking a drink. “I mean seriously.”


From The Merry Pranksters 

Other books from Mike Black: Boug Boys, Samurai Blues, and Dead Flowers.

Available on Amazon.

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Posted by on November 10, 2019 in Fiction, TheMerryPranksters


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The Merry Pranksters: Witchy Woman

The Merry Pranksters: Witchy Woman

Excerpt from the novel The Merry Pranksters

“Hookers?” I think, possibly out loud. My mind is buffering. “Dude, seriously, who in the mother eff are you talking about?!” I finally shout, my patience worn thin.

“Those two bitches that you and Dicky brought home the other day from the bar.” The simmering begins. “The crazy ass, red headed bitch and her runaway looking friend. That shit ain’t cool, Motherfucker!” He’s shouting now, his anger brimming to a boil. “You know how much fucking dope I run out of that house?” He yells, blood rushing to and fro, veins pulsating, eyes bulging. My brain starts to spiral out of control.

Images start flashing in and out of my mind’s field of vision. I’m warped to a foggy memory of me in the passenger’s seat of Dicky’s red Dodge Durango, fumbling around with the radio, a cigarette dangling from my lips, a beer spilling in my lap. Then we’re stumbling into the Rusty Hook. I’m squinting at a clock that reads 10:37 a.m. as drinks are poured and quickly drank. A graver image of falling off of bar stools, giant sunglasses in the pouring rain. Goliath mountains of cocaine being cut up into short little lines and snorted with rolled up dollar bills. Pills of all varieties being bitten in half and passed around.

Bartenders. I can almost put a face to the bartenders. All I see is a faceless girl with fiery red hair and a prescription for madness moving from my peripheral vision into the foreground. The wicked witch of the West tattooed on her left bicep and a black spider web crawling up her neck. This is no rose on the small of her back kind of girl. This must be what the Madonna girls from 10 years ago are doing now. I look down, a dragon is etched into the wooden bar with a knife, breathing fire that is far mightier than the sword.

The faceless bartender licks her lips, flips her passion colored hair aside and sets down a bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold next to two empty glasses. She spins the cap off with her thumb and then takes a pull off the raw bottle that makes Dicky’s liver cringe. Her tongue flips like a snake. I rub my sweaty palms on the thigh of my Levi’s and realize that the General is harder than a Hungarian tongue twister.

She splashes the glasses full, pours the liquor strong, tosses a handful of ice at them that miss both glasses. No words are exchanged. We’re running on reptilian instinct. Anything can happen here, complete chaos. Drinks are poured. Vomit is spewed. Xanax pills are smashed on the counter and snorted. Deliberately long stares are exchanged. The shepherd is becoming the wolf.

A brunette with pouty lips, dark eyeshadow and fuck me eyes that shoot fire scream some unknown verses at me. Dicky pulls out a rock of cocaine and crushes it with his fist on the bar and breaks out four lines with his pinky finger. He leans down and snorts a small mound off the bar top with no straw. I bury my face in it and so do the two faceless bartenders.

As I’m shaking off that railroad, having gone through quite enough of that horrific scene in my head, the faceless red head’s hair starts to blow back, a face emerges. The low resolution comes into focus, Hot Kryptonite colored eyes that are having a superhuman effect on me. The Brothers and Sisters album by The Allman Brothers Band plays in the background. The bar is decorated like a Whistler painting, dull and four generations too old, yet here we are, early 21st Century foxes.

From The Merry Pranksters

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Posted by on October 6, 2019 in Fiction, TheMerryPranksters


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The Merry Pranksters

“What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” -Morticia Addams



Chapter I

It can’t be that much past midnight and I’m ambling around this deserted, pathetic shell of a gravel road in East St. Louis with burnt ashes fluttering around like dejected snowflakes. The air is thick with a season’s worth of humidity festering around idly and threatening to unload a biblical downpour of infested rain at any moment, flooding all that has built up and washing away any trace of existence. I pause, take three steps off the industrial soot covered road to a small patch off to the side where the weeds have even ceased growing, kick a rusted Colt 45 tallboy out of the way with the toe of my brown leather flip-flops and carefully set down the Macho Mug I just stole from the strip club on to the dark grey, cracked dirt. Warrant’s Cherry Pie is still banging around in my head with no real way of escaping.

I stand up straight, crack my neck and, taking a glance around, notice the sign that reads in bright neon yellow: Cheeks with a hot pink arrow pointing to an ominous two-story brick building. Silhouettes of dilapidated factories with broken windows, cracked foundations and rusting steel paint a bleak landscape on the dark horizon. Closer in peripheral are unseasonably dressed crackheads sharing glass pipes and malt liquor bottles and hookers with half of their teeth and even less of their Lee Press-On nails. The Devils playground is spray painted in blood red letters across an inflamed dumpster.

I pull a pack of Marlboro Reds out of my faded Levi jeans pocket and light one with a white Bic lighter, hoping I’m not sending some kind of unknown signal to the homeless community around me. I inhale, put the pack of cigarettes back in my pocket, pull my dirty blonde hair back off of my face with my hand then take the cigarette out of my mouth and exhale up into the heavens. Looking up to the vast, angelic expanse I notice that the night sky is crisp and as clear as an opal. The moon is high and winking suggestively at me.

I pivot around when I hear a car approaching. The headlights of my 1995, pearl white Cadillac Deville are shining bright spotlights, slashing through the darkness, the tires are kicking up massive dirt clouds before skidding to a stop right before my feet. I cover the top of my Macho Mug with my left hand and let the storm of sawdust filled, malignant air blow past me. As the dust settles, my Caddy idling before me, I take a double gulp of beer and a drag off my smoke before curiously squinting at a spec of mud on the silver hood ornament. I pause, take the bottom of my black Danzig T-shirt and wipe it off before stepping around to the passenger’s side of the car and pulling on handle. It’s locked.

The tinted window rolls down with a snore and Curt leans over on my elbow rest from the driver’s seat and laughs, “You need a ride, Pone?”


Excerpt from the latest Mike Black novel, The Merry Pranksters.

The Merry Pranksters

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Posted by on July 3, 2019 in Fiction


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