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#356 :: Scurvy Knave

February 5, 2005

drug ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false” href=””>He wakes up after an hour or so, his face pressed to the wet bar, his brain still well-pickled on the shots of rye he’d been tossing back before (and after) he insulted that lady (well, she wasn’t, really) and she slapped him hard. He doesn’t bother raising his head. It’s comfy here. A warm pad of numb flesh covers his cheek, nerves deadened to sleep by the constant pressure of his sweating head against pocked mahogany. If he gets up, he’ll just feel cold, the breeze from the open bar door chilling the spilled booze on his face. So he lies there and considers: Beer taps hunching, cobra-like, overhead. Change puddling near his nose – before passing out, he kept dredging up pennies from his pocket for every shot the bartender slid his way that didn’t arrive with it a disapproving sneer. Olives lurking in a murky jar of oil. The incandescent hush of warm lights beneath the liquor racks float up through colored bottles – rye, whiskey, bourbon, gin, vermouth, absinthe, coca syrup, malt, seltzer, grenadine – a woozy hallucination of polychrome gems. This one bottle is … so pretty – a delicate turqoise lozenge of serenity, its maker’s name mock-etched into the glass. The barkeep shoots himself a seltzer/rocks, and returns to mopping the other end of the bar. Be here long, the drunk thinks. He’ll work his way down here and I’ll just have to move, finally go home to Virginia and the kids. And the dog. And the house, the newly electrified townhouse with a gas tap in every room, the huge mortgage he took out a month ago, before his boss let him go on Tuesday. I’ll have to steel my resolve and face it all. He turns his head a bit – well, turns it on the bar as if moving a huge, soggy block of soap – twisting it free so that the suction of his face on the wet, varnished wood is broken slightly, and sensation tingles back into his cheek. God. This’ll kill Virginia, he thinks. And slowly, he picks himself up.

Back in the first or second decade of the 20th century (future shock, anyone?) this was a state-of-the-art delivery system for bubbly water. It was refillable: Once you used up the liter or so of seltzer, you’d toss it back into its crate for collection by the seltzer man, who would return the whole thing to a delivery plantto be cleaned out and refilled. At about five pounds and nearly 12 inches high, it’s just under the bulk limit for HLOs, but it’s so gorgeous I had to squeeze it in.

The identity contest for El Luchador Libre is drawing to an end – as is the first (and perhaps only) year of HEAVY LITTLE OBJECTS. There have been some excellent entries so far, but I know there are great ones out there still unwritten. If you’d like to win the multi-masked Mexican grappler and at least one other relentlessly nifty HLO of your very own, drop by the contest and bang out a few paragraphs. I’ll announce the winner (and there will be fine runner-up prizes) in Entry #366. Jump in. Have fun.
ed ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>One of two things will happen: He’ll eat your heart off a pike, or he’ll have your guts for garters. You have a choice: You can fight him with a cutlass, or you can walk the plank. Choose: The devil or the deep blue sea.

These little avatars, these plastic warriors are a safe outlet for our genetic legacy of bloodthirst. We as a race teach children the ways of men. But we as a family allow no gun games in the house, show no videos with shooting. So why is my son already designing killer robots from K’Nex – this is the laser, that’s the missile launcher, here’s the thing that sucks blood from its enemies? He’s five.

It’s just play. Isn’t it?

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