24 October 2015

BARE Study Reveals Shocking Truths About Pittsburgh Drivers

Disassociated Press
24 October 2015

  A new BARE study has revealed some shocking - though not wholly unexpected - truths about people who drive in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  Among the things researchers discovered:

  82.7 percent of Pittsburgh drivers were unaware their car is equipped with turn signals.

  Half of Pittsburgh drivers who are aware turn signals exist refuse to use them, claiming them to be "the work of the devil."

  99.6 percent of Pittsburgh drivers see no problem with making a left turn from the right lane (even from two lanes over) and vice versa.

  94 percent of Pittsburgh drivers were unaware of the large green reflective signs posted above roadways which direct them to proper lanes.

  99.3 percent of Pittsburgh drivers believe that a traffic light turning red indicates three more cars may traverse the intersection before anyone must stop.

  53.4 percent of Pittsburgh drivers freely admit their only purpose on the road is to slow down other drivers.

  97.1 percent of Pittsburgh drivers were unaware of the purpose or meaning of solid lines painted on the roadway.

  92.7 percent of Pittsburgh drivers were unaware curved arrows painted on the ground in front of them means they are in a turn only lane.

  85.8 percent of Pittsburgh drivers believed stop signs only need be obeyed if other cars are visible.

  99.997 percent of Pittsburgh drivers were unaware there are other drivers on the roads. Many disputed the researcher's claims.

13 October 2015

San Diego

By Bud Koenemund

A 100-word story

  After San Diego, the President went a little crazy. It was understandable. Maybe even expected. And, on some level, forgivable. His parents lived – had lived – near the Navy base. Friends and advisors tried to bring some solace by assuring him it had ended quickly for them. But, he knew they’d never really be sure about that.
  A dozen terrorist organizations claimed responsibility. The CIA narrowed it down to one group – with, they said, 73 percent certainty. With a three in four chance of being right, 20 B-2 bombers lifted off from Whiteman AFB in Missouri, and disappeared into the night.

11 October 2015


By Bud Koenemund

A 100-word story

(TRIGGER WARNING: This story includes domestic/sexual abuse.)

  He always apologized after; “I’m sorry” dripping off his tongue as he gently cradled her in his arms; fingers gliding over her damp skin; caressing as if healing. The names he’d called her dissolving in the dark.
  In the morning, he’d be tender; kissing her; saying “I love you” before leaving for work, and his shame would burn off like fog in the sunshine. Showering washed away the smell of him, the taste, the…residue. This time, the pain, her bruises – already ugly yellow-brown – would fade forever. She watched his car turn the corner before she dared to breathe.

03 October 2015

The Promise

By Bud Koenemund

A 100-word story

  Emilia entered the hall with a regal air, as if she were a queen granting an audience. The crowd hushed, stunned by her magnificence, then filled the room with murmurs, and discreet pleas for favor. Her dark, olive skin glistened; her smile painted blood red.
  Recognizing the shade, Will frowned. A week before, she’d deserted his bed before dawn – leaving behind a pair of lip prints; one on his stubbled cheek, the other inside and below his left hip bone.
  “You didn’t say goodbye,” he grumbled, when she approached.
  “I will tomorrow,” she returned, with a surreptitious wink. “I promise.”

06 June 2015

Schrödinger’s Dickens

By Bud Koenemund

  It began innocently enough. 0300 on a Sunday, and I’m awake, tossing and turning in my bed. Finally, I decide it’s a good time for a bit of Spring cleaning in my office. I’ve been writing a lot lately, and things have slipped through the cracks. I need to do some filing, and I am gradually losing the eternal war on dust.

  I trudge down to my basement office, open The iTunes to play some music, and begin cleaning and straightening. I file, I shred, I wipe, I pick up a photograph of my niece that needs to go in a frame. Moving to the chiffarobe in the alcove, I pull open the door…and there it sits: Schrödinger’s Dickens.

  Physicists, and fans of The Big Bang Theory, are familiar with Erwin Schrödinger’s proposed thought experiment involving a cat, a box, and a flask of poison – even if on only the most rudimentary level. But, precious few are aware of Schrödinger’s Dickens. The box has been replaced by a padded UPS Express envelope; the cat by a book, and the poison by something far more deadly – memory.

  Truth be told, however, this isn’t about Schrödinger, or Dickens, or chiffarobes. In the end, it’s about a woman, the man who loved her, and the madness that still haunts him.

  In May 2013, out of the blue, “Her” sent me an armful of books once owned by her grandmother. Old stuff; rare stuff; stuff one could not easily find outside well-tended family collections. When I asked why, she told me she didn’t have room to store them. I offered to act as curator, and foster them until she had the required space.

  “You don’t want them?” she asked.

  “Il mio respiro,” I insisted, “I don’t want your grandmother’s books. I want your grandmother’s granddaughter.”

  I’d been in love – an unrequited love – with “Her” for 15 years, and we were in one of the half-dozen or so periods when she’d return to my life after a long absence, and let me think I had a chance with her; that this time she’d feel the same way about me. She’d re-appeared more than a year earlier, we talked, and e-mailed, and texted, and I quickly handed her my heart…again. To be honest, although she’d nearly killed me several times, I’d never fallen out of love with her.

  We discussed the books she’d sent. She mentioned her grandmother also had a first edition signed by Charles Dickens. I told her it would probably be worth a ton of money. And, I joked that I’d be happy to hold on to it as well. She laughed, and we never talked about it again.

  It’s been nearly two years since I last spoke to her; 18 months since I’ve responded to her in any way. I realized – actually, I simply finally accepted – that she was lying to me, again. So, except for the Christmas gift I sent that year, I stopped communicating with her.

  I know what you’re thinking. “What an idiot!” “Why would you send her a Christmas gift?” Well, months earlier, I’d gone far out of my way for her – to get a unique and almost ungettable gift – asking the quarterback of her favorite NFL team – a guy who rarely signs autographs, even for little kids – to sign a football for her. And, in my own defense, I hate that team with the fire of a thousand suns. I didn’t want the ball in my house.

  Just before Christmas, I received the aforementioned shipping envelope. It was easy to tell it contained a book. I knew I wasn’t going to open the package, so I put it in a red plastic Coca-Cola crate on a shelf in the chiffarobe, and tried to forget about it – to the extent I ever forget about anything related to “Her.”

  But, as so often happens, thoughts percolated in my fevered brain: Did she send me the Dickens? I mean, did she think a book would soothe my pain? Or, perhaps it was merely meant to repay me for the autograph beyond hope. Those questions remain unanswered.

  Even after all this time, I still receive the occasional text message from her, and cards on my birthday and Christmas. I don’t open them, or respond. I place them in the crate, along with other assorted “Her” memorabilia – photographs, letters, a lock of hair she cut off in a bar not long after we met in 1998, a stone I picked up at the New York Renaissance Faire the day we went together, and a Sea Otter Beanie Baby she handed me in the middle of a deserted street.

  That’s where my Schrödinger lives – the envelope resting atop reminders of my wasted love – lurking in the dark; waiting to release the poison. In the same way the cat is simultaneously alive and dead, it both contains and does not contain a signed, first edition of Dickens’ work. Unless I open it, I’ll never be sure.

  If I were smart – please, no comments from the peanut gallery – I’d delete the voice mails and texts on my phone. And, I’d toss that crate in the garbage. Problem solved! In one fell swoop there would be fewer things lying about to surprise me with memories.

  Of course, if I do that, I might be throwing away a treasure; something inherently valuable – in a monetary sense, yes – but in a broader sense, a piece of history; of art; something truly irreplaceable. And, if I opened it to avoid doing that – and the cat is alive – I’m harboring one more thing that reminds me of “Her.”

  There’s the rub. The paradox – my paradox – is that whether or not a particular book is there, thinking about it – like any of a million other things – makes me think about “Her,” which exposes a terrible truth: like that cat, I am both alive and dead…and my office still needs to be dusted.

26 April 2015

A Quartet of Haiku for NaPoWriMo 2015

By Bud Koenemund

Recalled to Life
For “Her.”

My heart will not beat
again, ‘til your lips touch mine,
and renew my life.

For Val

Whispered words enflame;
clutching; fingers caressing;
hot breath on my skin…

For “Her.”

She was a black hole;
ripping apart my whole world
to reveal wonders.

New Worlds
For “Her.”

Like the big bang, she
exploded within my mind;
creating new worlds.

06 April 2015

New York Mets Eliminated from Playoff Race

Announcement Comes Hours Before Season's First Pitch

FLUSHING, NY  (Disassociated Press) – In a move sure to stun many fans of the New York Mets, team officials today announced that the team has been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention this season.
  The admission came at Citi Field, just hours before the first pitch in the Mets season opener against the Washington Nationals.
  “We just feel that it’s important to be truthful with our fan base,” said Sandy Alderson, Mets General Manager.
  Alderson told reporters that a small group made up of team management looked into the team’s chances during spring training in Florida.
  “We looked at our roster, our current and recent injuries, and we looked at what has happened over the last several seasons,” Alderson said.  “Unfortunately, we determined that this team stood a snowballs chance in Hell of making the playoffs this season.”
  Following consecutive late season collapses in 2007 and 2008, Mets players suffered a frightening string of injuries in 2009, which virtually crippled the team for most of the year.
  “Truthfully,” Alderson said, “at this point, there’s a better chance that the world actually will end in 2015 than there is of the Mets playing even .500 baseball this season…much less make the post-season.”
  Mets players and coaches were disappointed by the announcement.
  “Baseball has been very, very good to me, but not this year,” Chico Escuela, Mets outfielder, said through an interpreter.
  “What can I say?  Sadly, eternal optimism doesn’t live in Queens anymore,” said Terry Collins, Mets Manager.  “All we can ask is that our fans wait ‘til next year…again.”