Sunday, April 13, 2008

Foolish Words 2008 - The Mighty Document

Ryan Cassavaugh

Ryan Cassavaugh is a founding member of improv comedy juggernaut Equinox Comedy DeathMatch, erstwhile writer/performer for TV sketch comedy show “The Pizza Show,” stand-up comic, puppeteer, and writer of four award-winning plays, including “Last Kings of America,” which won best script and audience favorite at the 2008 Equinox One-Act Festival.

In the beginning...

Has this ever happened to you? You’re waiting for the bus to pick you up and take you to one of the fabulous stores we have in lovely downtown Bozeman (Downtown, mind you, not the mall); when, quite out of nowhere, a very frightened looking man with an obscenely fake mustache runs towards you, shoves a small, oddly shaped package in your hands, hoarsely gurgles the name “Marcellus” and drops dead at your feet with a skull-handled dagger protruding from his back? Well, if it has, then that is one thing you share with James, a young man who was just now finding himself in that most unlikely of circumstances.

He blinked confusedly (it seemed the least he could do), then he blinked again. He stared at the dead man, then at the package, then at the dead man again. He blinked a third time. At this moment James really wished there had been another person waiting there for the bus, so he could at least turn to them and say “Well, you don’t see that every day!” but there was no one to turn to. He was alone; alone with a dead man, a package, and an overwhelming urge to run like hell.

‘There is of course, no sense in running’ he told himself. ‘Running would solve nothing. What is needed is a cool, level head. A rational man does not panic!’

James had just made up his mind to be very cool about the whole affair when, to his surprise, he realized that he was running, and, apparently, had been for quite some time. He was well out of sight of the bus stop by the time his mind fully accepted the fact that while it was busy thinking, his body had been busy fleeing.

Still clutching the package, James came to a stop down a small side street and scuttled into the doorway of a dilapidated apartment house to catch his breath and more closely examine the package.

The package was heavy; very heavy for its size. It was no bigger than a super-ball, wrapped in brown paper, and trapezoidal in shape.

James sniffed it. It smelled like his grandmother’s house when he was a kid. He held it up to his ear and listened. Was it... ticking? A BOMB! No, wait, that was just his heart pounding. No, it made no sound.

This was nerve-wracking.

Things of this kind just didn’t happen to James. The most exciting thing that had ever happened to James was being struck on the head by a foul ball during a minor league play-off game. (He had been in the papers!) But this was something altogether different. This was... mysterious. James was pretty sure this was some sort of espionage. The thought staggered him... he, James Quincy Monroe was, through some twist of fate, mixed up in honest-to-God espionage! For the first time in his life, James wanted a martini!

Before he could explore the fantasy any further he was startled back to reality by the sound of the apartment house door creaking open behind him. He spun around quickly only to find himself face-to-face with the largest man he had ever seen. The man was easily two heads taller than James and twice as broad. His eyes were small and mostly obscured beneath two dense outcroppings of yellow eyebrow. His fingers, which were the size of summer sausages, were clenching and unclenching furiously. This man was, in a word, ‘menacing’.

“There you are!” the man cried with, what James noted, was marked relief. “The professor was beginning to think you weren’t coming. Do you have the package?”

James held the package out instinctively. The gorilla looked at it approvingly then motioned for James to follow him back into the building.

James followed like a man in a dream.

The hallway inside was cold and completely dark except for the small patch of light that streamed in through the open door.

“We’ve been expecting you Mister Marcellus,” croaked a voice from the darkness of the hallway. The door behind James creaked shut, and the room went black.

Marjorie Smith
Marjorie Smith writes for several publications and acts in local theatre and film projects. She is also a musician, if being a member of the MSU gamelan and the Awesome Polka Babes counts.

You know how they say that before you die, your whole life passes before your eyes? James had always wondered how that could possibly be true. That time he was hit on the head by the baseball the only events that passed before his eyes before he lost consciousness were the innings leading up to that foul ball.

This time his mind was trying to work out the puzzle of the last few harried minutes as he lost consciousness. The professor and the giant goon hadn’t stabbed the man who had given him the package, he told himself, because they thought James was Marcellus. But why had he run exactly to the place where Marcellus was expected? Maybe it was the package? Could it have controlled his movement? After all, he hadn’t even meant to run!

Those thoughts coursed through his brain as he blacked out, along with that croaky voice saying, “Take the package from him.”

As he regained consciousness he heard the voice again. “I knew the needle was not a good idea. It’s paralyzed his grip on the package. Ana Maria, see if you can persuade him to release it.”

And James’ busy brain thought, Aha! That’s why my head doesn’t hurt. They didn’t hit me on the head – they jabbed me. That would be why my right bicep is so sore.

Slowly he opened his eyes. A table lamp nearby emitted a dim light but most of the room was filled with deep shadows. He could see that a gorgeous woman with long, dark hair was kneeling beside him, leaning over him. She was wearing a very low cut blouse and he thought he might pass out again from the view right in front of his eyes. He took a deep breath. She wore some sort of exotic perfume and she most certainly did not smell like his grandmother’s house.

Her voice was low and seductive. “Senor Marcellus, I need that package. Can you give it to me?”

James would have done anything she asked, but his fingers refused to obey him. They would not release the package. Instead they explored the odd shape. It reminded him of something. It felt like – could it be? A very heavy, very small Sponge Bob Square Pants?

No, that was ridiculous! And yet …

Keith "That Jeopardy! Guy" Suta is co-host of KGLT-FM's The Coffee Show and is gainlessly employed as a writer. "Dead Noon," a movie he co-wrote and appears in, will be distributed later this year by Lionsgate Entertainment to video stores worldwide.

James groggily blinked and tried to focus on the object in his hand. Another vision took precedence-- Ana Maria's décolletage. James was still under enough nerve serum to think he heard a wailing saxophone solo and to imagine himself turning into a cartoon wolf, howling at the top of his lungs and unrolling his tongue an unprecedented length across the floor.
Just then, two seemingly disparate events occurred:
At that very moment, far away in his secret underground geodesic dome, a mysterious billionaire sat stroking his white, long-haired Norwegian Forest Cat, cackling evilly to himself. But that's just a normal Tuesday night for Ted Turner...
Also, James saw the Professor bearing down on him, wielding a device that looked like it was constructed out of pneumatic tubing, parts from a rusty meat grinder, a dentist's drill, and several Ron Paul campaign buttons. James stammered, “B-b-b-but I'm voting for Mike Gravel...” The Professor grinned a crooked smile, his machine grinding, humming, buzzing and making wheezing accordion noises all at once. Ana Maria was shrugging into a poncho, as if she was seeing Gallagher at Branson, Missouri and expected to get covered with watermelon goo. James thought he knew who the watermelon was going to be.
Just before one of the spinning blades, prongs, or assorted spork-like attachments made contact with James' face-- the door to the room exploded inward. Silhouetted in the light, stood a man, a military-grade AA-12 combat shotgun held at the ready. The AA-12 can emptied a 20-round drum of 12 gauge shells in just under four seconds. This is what it proceeded to do to the floor, walls and ceiling all around James. The Professor and Ana Maria dove for cover to avoid the falling debris. James would have done so, had he not been strapped to a table. The man with the gun hurried to the table and began unbinding James.
“We don't have time for questions. Come with me, if you want to live,” said the man, in a decidedly non-Austrian accent.
James glanced at the dusty object still clutched in his hand. “Who are you?” he blurted.
“I'm Thaddeus Franklin Akira Walter Bergdorf McKinley Spader Jodorowsky Thompson MacGee Alan Marcellus. Call me Marcellus.”
“No time for questions, but we had time for that?” James started to ask, but was yanked out the door...

Sid Gustafson
Sid Gustafson is a novelist, pacifist, and word bum. He teaches equine studies at the University of Montana Western in Dillon (High Horse University), but writes in Bozeman, where his mind wanders freely.

Marcellus dragged James into the hincty alley between Willson and Grand and stuffed him into his Hummer before heading through the neon dims of snowslain Bozeman, south, rising out of the streetlights of Bozeman, slowly humming up to the great farmy curve, and then left, up Hyalite, alongside the rock fences, rising into snow, and then into deeper snow, deeper darkness. “We’re going fishin’,” Marcellus stated militarily.
City water supply, James thought, not understanding where the thought arose. The grayling, the afluvial grayling. How are the grayling doing? he pondered. Are they fluvial or afluvial? They have the reservoir, and they have the creek. They have water. Still water. Running water. Cold water, water under ice. James was not sure what had overcome him-- what had overtaken his mind, his body. He did not feel like he thought he ought to feel. He felt poetic and destined.
As they wended through the steep canyon, the object in his hand began humming. The humming became paralytic. James could feel his hand loosening, his body loosening, the Hummer humming, his hand humming, the whole world… humming. Rising into darkness, rising into the mountains. Trees rising out of the world. Snow rising. Hummer rising, Marcellus driving robotlike, his redneck rough and red and hairy. They came to the reservoir. A gibbous moon arisen to starch the sky, whiffing the stars. Fluvial, afluvial. Effluvium. Moon arisen, moon risen. Oblong moon, long night.
Marcellus wheeled the Hummer to the boat dock on the eastern shore, southeastern shore, northeastern shore? James gawked out the window looking for Polaris. There was no Polaris, no BIG Bear, no little Bear. A glow to the north, Bozeman glowing in her valley, her bisected, resected, subjected, dejected valley of flowers not blooming.
His hand loosened enough for him to open his palm, and the thingy started glowing, humming now, and glowing. Marcellus dragged an icefishing drill out of the back of the Hummer. James followed him out onto the ice. The jaundiced moonlight phosphoresced the ice a sulfurous yellow. Marcellus flipped some little switches on the drill, and pulled the cord. The machine took life, rattling and choking and banging, and then, humming. The rattle choke and bang bounced off the dam, bounced off the mountains, bounced off the moon, and came back to James, back through the hum and glow of the object in his palm.
Marcellus drilled, drilled through the ice. Chips of ice. Chunks of ice. Drilling, chipping, and then chunking deeper. When the ice-commando hit water the reservoir spit and groaned, a glottal lurch buckled the ice, unshackling the juggernaut Hyalite Reservoir had become.
The fish, James thought, the gray ling, the bur bot, no, the rain bow… must be the moon glow splitting my fool hearty words.
“James, you Jimmy, you nin-com-poop ninny,” Marcellus bellowed, “drop that device in the hole.”
James leaned over the hole, the black hole, a moonlit blackness tinted sulfuric yellow. He tipped his palm, the thing a ma jig rolled, plopped, came back up floating as if to say farewell, before sinking into the depths of manmade Hyalite Reservoir.
As the two marched back to the Hummer the littoral water under the ice took up a prismatic hue, and the hue rose into the ice, all the hues of the world rising into the ice, and as they looked back the hues rose out of the hole into a vortex, swirling the night, shaking the ice, stirring the world.

Holly Zadra
Holly writes and edits for the Tributary, but she brings in the big bucks finagling fiscal sustainability for the non-profit sector in Bozeman.

Ana Maria Marcellus scoffed, pulling off her wig of bombshell brunette to reveal tightly cropped bleach-white hair, “He wasn’t as easy as Thaddeus, even under the serum.” She reveled in thoughts of Thaddeus’s former naïveté as she stripped off the poncho and replaced it with a neoprene body suit, lit a cigarette and blew it in the professor’s face.
“Your tactics are so gruesome. Can you not, in all of your intellectual finery, come up with something clean?” she asked.
The professor stood there, seething and charmed at once, and handed his latest device to the big guy who turned toward the door.
“Let’s get to the reservoir.”
Ana Maria brushed past the big guy secretly revealing to him a sleek crimson gadget as she and the professor hurried off to their converted Chevette rife with the professor’s rampant contraptions including a slant-six turbo-charged 7-liter engine. While the professor gassed up the thirsty Chevette – 19 miles to the gallon on the highway – Ana Maria placed her little red device under the front passenger seat. She pulled on a trilastic hooded vest, zippered boots, goggles and gloves.
She was in for a very cold dive, she thought bitterly. In her mind’s eye she saw the professor’s failed attempts to snorkel, his body seizing with anxiety and sinking toward the bottom of the pool…
She recalled his response, “I just couldn’t psychologically reconcile my being under water and being able to breath.”

Back on Main Street, the couple sped off to Hyalite. As they spun out around the left turn marking the entry to Hyalite Canyon, the professor slammed on the brakes. The two stared up at the sky in disbelief.
“We’re too late!” the professor stammered.
“Not if I have anything to do with it,” Ana Maria responded. “Move over. I’m driving.”
The professor sidled out of the car like a child being punished, and Ana Maria climbed over her submersible spare air and the stick shift to the driver’s seat. The professor hadn’t even slammed his door shut before she took off up the winding road. Straight ahead was Thaddeus in his Hummer.
‘Compensating for something?’ Ana Maria wondered as she lurched passed the giant tax incentive and waved to her husband and his newest follower…

Joseph Menicucci, Jr.
Joseph waxes poetic about our national pastime at He is currently an instructor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Montana State University-Bozeman.

'It is little…very little…tiny even,’ thought Magnús as Ana brushed past him in the doorway, 'but... I… think that she just showed me the red detonator she mentioned last night.'
Magnús had been sleeping with Ana since her trial separation from Thaddeus; she liked him, and even told him things that she didn't tell anyone else.
"I like you Magnús. I can tell you things I can't tell anyone else."
'Yes, that is what she said,' thought Magnús as he struggled to recall more of their conversation from the previous evening. He eventually remembered that Ana said that he reminded her of someone that she read about in a book once, someone named Santino, or Sonny, (he wasn't sure which one) but only when he was making love. Ana also said the Lord's name a lot when they were in bed, but she said it was all right because she was an atheist anyway. She also said the f-word a lot when she had sex.
"You say the f-word a lot," he told her.
"It's alright, because I'm an atheist," said Ana.
'Atheists can say the Lord's name and the f-word when they have sex,’ thought Magnús, while making a mental note that he certainly was not an atheist.
Ana then told Magnús something very important. "Magnús, I'd like to tell you something very important…"
And this, of course, is all that Magnús could remember from the evening he had spent with Ana. He could remember the passion of their kisses, the lovemaking, the conversations of Sonny and the f-word, and Ana Maria saying the Lord’s name over and over again, but he could not remember the most important thing she had told him.
Frustrated by once again forgetting something so important, Magnús turned his head to the sky and made a noise so violent, so guttural, that it was as if all motion stopped around him. People blocks away paused upon hearing the horrible sound, and they turned toward him sympathetically. Just then, when the world had paused to gaze upon Magnús, the sky exploded into a swirling mix of colors that, for a moment, seemed to dance to the echo of Magnús’ primal scream.
His frustration turned to horror as Ana’s parting words suddenly materialized to him as if revealed amidst the cacophony of colors now overwhelming the sky. “You must remember what I’ve told you, Magnús. I need you to follow the plan exactly if something goes wrong. My very life depends on it.”
Many years later, when mothers would tell their children stories of the heroics of Magnús the Great, they often left out the story of a defeated Magnús Skúlason, huddled against the brickwork of the downtown Bozeman building, sobbing as he muttered repeatedly to himself, “I can’t remember…I can’t remember…I can’t remember…”

Liz Allen
Liz Allen is a therapeutic massage therapist who spends a substantial amount of time rock hounding in the mountains with her dog Tigger, telemark skiing, and writing poetry and short stories.

‘That Magnús is one unobservant dolt,’ thought Ana Maria as she shifted the Chevette into Hover-Craft mode. ‘What could he possibly be doing right now to miss this night sky extravaganza?’

The Professor regarded her wistfully on an ice sofa and remarked to no one listening, ‘This fantastic color display reminds me of the Aurora Borealis,’ while Ana Maria and her 5’ 11” model body loomed over the ice-hole and readied herself to jump into the swirls of the abyss.

Her voyage into the ice hole’s gaping mouth was brief. Underwater, she believed she pressed the red detonater and for a dramatic effect once on ice again, tossed it into the ice hole. It was actually a trilobite that the Professor swiped from Earth’s Treasures earlier that day. The Professor had his own plan, a twisted and undeveloped plan, but a plan nonetheless, despite his distracting prolific propensity for shoplifting.

Ana Maria, unaware of the slight upturn of his grimace, quickly wiped her hands together, and snapped “We best be getting back to town Professor, I don’t wanna be responsible for recovering your liquefied body off that ice sofa. You know what’s about to happen.”

“Right you are Ana,” the Professor tried to look hurried. When, in reality, nothing turned him on more than a woman in charge. “You should drive!”

They hopped into the Chevette, still in Hover-Craft mode, and glided back through the forest onto the rural road, in the outskirts of Bozeman. That’s when Ana pulled over to shift out of Hover-Craft mode, to fit in with the Subaru AWDs amassing on the roads.

“What the….?” Ana Maria began to stutter as she realized the red detonater was not doing its job. Instead, the psychedelic swirls in the sky transfixed her. For a moment, she thought she saw the outlines of a trilobite glowing bright orange. She felt herself slipping off the edge of reality.

“Did you…?” Her eyes teared as her gaze drifted to the grimace of the Professor and her question hung in the air inert. She slumped over in her bucket seat, a good hour of drooling unconsciousness upon her. At least that’s how much time the Professor hoped he had.

The Professor gently caressed her beautiful neoprene legs as he moved her into the back seat. Unfortunately, the kaleidoscopes in his eyes were of no effect to the person who pulled up next to him, in a maroon Subaru AWD.

Craig Kenworthy

Craig Kenworthy writes the 30 Second Timeout column for the Chronicle. His radio play ‘Hurf” won a Silver Charles Ogle Award in 2007. He still can’t believe he lost to that Bradbury guy.

It was the guy from the bus stop, minus the dagger sticking out of his back. The mustache looked as fake as ever, though. [A note to the reader- in full postmodern tradition, this would be a good time to reflect not on “I thought this guy was dead”, but instead on “What is death?” Is it a state of being? A resolution of all our hopes and fears, realized or not? Your father in law complaining about his heel spurs? And if death is a journey, is dying at a bus stop just symbolic as hell or what?]

The driver of the Subaru nodded. It was the kind of nod you don’t ignore.
“Hello, Professor. Or should I say ex-professor?”
The driver got out. He reached into the Chevette and took the keys out of the ignition.
“I prefer former professor. Just as you must prefer former grad student.”
“Former. Sounds like a good descriptor for me. At least until this little experiment or…” Creighton looked up at the sky. “….or experience, maybe, starting having some interesting side effects. Have you driven past the cemetery, professor?”
“The pet cemetery? You know I go there every week to see Buttons.”
“I am not referring to your obsessive devotion to a late Pekingese, you dolt.”
“Actually, she was a Chow and she was all I had, except for my patents. I tried curling up on the couch with them, but it just wasn’t the same.”
“Listen to me, the people in the cemetery. They’re…”
Pedro’s revelation was interrupted by the sound of Ana Maria hitting the Professor over the head with the Chevette’s owners manual. Normally, that would just be annoying, but in this case, she’d wrapped the manual around the vehicle’s tire iron.
The professor’s head hit the steering wheel, setting off the car’s horn. Ana Maria shouted above the din:
“We’ve got to find Marcellus and Magnus.”
“You want to find a trellis and sphagnum?”
She wondered how many tire irons this car had, but decided moving the Professor would be easier.
“I said we must find Marcellus and Magnus.”
“Magnus, the guy who owns the Icelandic restaurant on Tracy?”
“He’s the key to stopping this now.”
“Stopping this? I am not sure I like that idea.”
“We must protect the current state of affairs.”
“Listen, lady. In the current state of affairs, I’m dead.”

Bob Hendricks
Bob Hendricks was born in Frankfurt Germany in the waning days of the Eisenhower administration and moved back to the USA when he was ten months old. While he has no memory of Germany, he does retain a fondness for BMW motorcycles and dark Bavarian beer, and he credits both for the occasional inspiration to write a one-act play.

Weaving through the sea of Hyalite Reservoir bound Subarus, topped with Yakima bike racks, and sprouting fists with raised middle fingers deriding the H-1’s conspicuous consumption, Marcellus and James headed north—back toward Bozeman. The endless stream of oncoming traffic braided a rope-light that stretched to the historic downtown retail district. Congestion on South 19th slowed progress, and prompted drivers to pass without regard for oncoming traffic, and—when the inevitable collision blocked the opposing lane—they took to driving on the shoulder and passing in the ditch.

“I much prefer police states—I prefer the order. No traffic jams and the trains run on time,” groused Marcellus, as he detoured to Cottonwood Road to avoid the gridlocked South 19th. James knew the route… knew there were two unavoidable ninety-degree turns that would require the lumbering Hummer to slow to a crawl and give him a chance to jump and run. Marcellus downshifted as they approached the first opportune corner. James steeled his nerves and inconspicuously grabbed the door handle. It was a right turn, and centrifugal force would hold the passenger side door closed—his escape would require extra effort, and his adrenal glands were rising to the occasion. James suddenly realized that escaping the Hummer was only the first step. He must also escape the AA-12 shotgun and its professional handler. The perpendicular roads he anticipated were surrounded by wheat fields; there was no cover… no place to hide… no escape. James sighed and released the door handle—adrenaline capitulated and regrouped for another opportunity.

James correctly concluded that this shotgun-wielding commando who rescued him from the clearly perceived—yet thoroughly misunderstood—threat back in the apartment building, was much more concerned with the package than with James’ well being. He resented the demeaning tone Marcellus used to address him. If this package was so valuable… so vital… then shouldn’t he be accorded some respect for ushering it away from the bus stop, its dead courier (or so James thought), and the gathering crowd?

Cottonwood Road passed the little red schoolhouse and descended slightly as it approached Hyalite Creek. As the Hummer crossed the creek, James noticed the blue-green glow that month-old ice, and a two-foot blanket of snow could not conceal. The spread of the glow was outpacing the river’s current. The current could not have carried it from the reservoir, over the dam, down the canyon, and into the valley faster than the Hummer had speeded down the paved roads.

“What is that?” he demanded of Marcellus. “What was in the package? What is it doing to the lake… to the water?”

Marcellus responded as he had been splendidly trained: “You don’t have a need to know.” While his answer was surely condescending, his tone had changed, and James noticed it. But he did not realize that the tone of Marcellus’ voice meaningless. He had rehearsed that response for years so that he could deliver it in the exact same manner to the lowest errand boy that Langley could dispatch to retrieve his laundry, to the President. And he had indeed delivered that same line—in the same flat tone with a hint of respect—to both.

James contemplated his next possible escape opportunity, oblivious to the commotion behind him. The blue-green glow beneath the ice and snow was far more brilliant—indeed violently psychedelic—in open water. And it marched upstream under the ice—defying the current—toward Palisade Falls, where it raced up the column of ice to the top of the waterfall and shot into space like an electron charged fountain reaching up to the sky, seeking its Aurora Borealis source and bridging the eight and a half light minutes back to the sun… back to the solar flair that spawned it. Cold fusion had been created, but was far from corralled.

For the second time that evening—and the second time in his life—James craved a martini. A Bombay Sapphire martini. Straight up with a twist… and dry. Put the vermouth in the air humidifier.

Alison Grey
Alison Grey is a Bozeman native who has spent much of her adult life trying to avoid the real world, a semi-successful pursuit. When she isn’t skiing, eating French fries or wasting away her youth in local dive bars, she is a writer who prefers the ridiculous and socially unacceptable to the boring and mundane and is attracted to hot men in snow pants.

Word spread quickly throughout Bozeman of the incoherent transient emitting horrible groans and mumbling the same repeated phrase over and over again.

The first to come across this mysterious transient were Dorothy and Jan, a duo a retirees walking home from their usual luncheon date at the Nova Café. Their animated conversation detailing the numerous achievements of their grandkids was cut short when they came upon Magnus, now huddled in fetal position, peering up into the sky with glazed eyes, red and puffy from his dramatic breakdown.

“Are you all right?” asked Jan, inching slowly towards Magnus.

“I don’t remember,” said Magnus, his voice so hoarse Jan could barely understand him. “I don’t remember…we had sex…oh, we had great sex, mind blowing…but, ah, I don’t remember.”

Magnus mustered his last bit of strength to raise his arm towards Jan, beckoning her towards him as he let out a low guttural noise. She lurched backwards, moving more quickly than she had in years.

“Dear Lord,” she said to Dorothy, her voice quivering with a mixture of fear and animosity. “What a pathetic sight. The last thing we need are a bunch of beer guzzling, crack smoking, sexually perverse, societal rejects dirtying up our community.”

“Absolutely,” Dorothy agreed. “What this town needs to do is buy these low life scoundrels a one-way ticket to Missoula with all those hippies that actually feel sorry for them.”

“Ah, she was so beautiful, naked, sweating and moaning,” Magnus quietly bellowed, tears streaming down his face. “But, I just can’t remember.”

“That’s it,” screamed Jan. “We’re calling the cops.”

“Pervert,” hissed Dorothy, as the two scuttled down the street.

As the two were busy alerting local law officials, a black Ford truck pulled up next to Magnus, screeching to a halt inches from his head. Through his blur of tears, Magnus saw two dark figures in cowboy hats coming towards him.

He let out a whimper, wishing he was back in Ana’s arms, cuddled tightly against her voluptuous breasts as she screamed profanities to the Lord and called him Sonny.

Weak and tired, Magnus did not resist as the two men wrapped him in some sort of animal hide. He could feel himself being lifted, and with a thud, dropped into the bed of the truck. As the engine roared beneath him and the truck sped off, Magnus could hear sirens in the distance approaching the site of his abduction.

After a long and painful ride over bumpy dirt roads, the truck came to a halt. Before Magnus knew it, he was unwrapped, and found himself sitting on a buffalo hide. He looked up to see a grinning Ted Turner gently stroking a long-haired white cat.

Brian Kassar

Brian has lived in Bozeman for 8 years and been active in the arts community as an actor, singer, writer and director. His scripts have won an Audience Choice award and 2 Best Production awards in the last three Equinox Theatre One-Act Play festivals.

“Where’s the Orb of Dominion?” asked Ted, placing the cat on the floor.

Magnus was still sitting on the buffalo hide, a bit dazed from the trip and subsequent deposit in front of Ted Turner. The cat rubbed against knee, purring loudly. Magnus absently began petting the cat as he tried to make sense of this surreal tableau.

“The Orb!” screamed Ted, simultaneously maniacal and benevolent.

The outburst jolted Magnus back to the present. With surprise, he noticed he was petting the cat and immediately stopped. He hated cats.

“I…I don’t know. I’ve been having problems keeping track of things…my memory…”

Ted interrupted him. He bent down, inches from his face, and hissed, “What do you think will happen to our little deal without the Orb? The fate of Ted’s Montana Grill lies with that Orb. Without it, our previous agreement will become null and void.”

Magnus noted a smell of sandalwood and tobacco. “Our lives are now inextricably entwined my friend,” gloated Ted.

“Mr. Turner, please. I need this deal as much as you do. I can help find the Orb. I know someone…someone close to the Orb. You see, a while back this girl and I..”

“ENOUGH!” shouted Ted. The cat, which had begun licking its ass, paused with its leg raised in the air as if hoping to answer an arithmetic question. “Bring them in.”

At that moment, an elevator door opened and one of Magnus’s cowboy-hat wearing abductors shoved Anna Maria and James into the cavernous room.

“Anna Maria!” exclaimed Magnus.

“You know this guy?” James asked Anna Maria.

“Yes,” she replied. Hoping to avoid speaking the truth (oh the awful truth) of their knowledge of each other, she said, “He owns the Icelandic restaurant on Tracy.”

“Indeed he does,” said Ted Turner.

Magnus tried to interject. “But—“

Both Anna Maria and Ted Turner gave him a look that served to silence him. Anna Maria’s out of desperation, Ted Turner’s out of menace.

James quickly made sense of the situation. “I think I have what you want!”

Like a predator, Ted Turner approached James from the other side of the room.

Michele Corriel

Michele Corriel is a freelance writer working with about a dozen regional and national magazines. But perhaps she is even less well-known for her invention of the Poetry Dispensers that keep popping up around town (and around the West). She is currently working on her third (or is it her sixth?) novel for young readers.

Playing with the somewhat dull-edged skull-shaped dagger, Ted turned to the hermetically sealed doors that were supposed to have guaranteed that no microorganisms gained entrance. But something much bigger than a microorganism had indeed obtained a foothold in his lair.

“I thought I told all those Romney kids to get out of town!” Ted sneered at his personal assistant, none other than Pedro Creighton.

“I told them, sir, but they insisted on staying. I believe their father is buying the Yellowstone Club and turning it into a retreat for the Tabernacle Choir.”

“Creighton, seal those doors at once! I can’t be bothered with the noveau rich. And don’t forget to vacuum the cat,” Ted returned to his guests.

“But aren’t you?” James pointed at Creighton. “Isn’t he? … What the?” James stuttered into his half-finished martini.

Ana could see Creighton pretend to vacuum the cat, but in actuality he was signaling an escape route to her.

Ted’s head swiveled and caught Creighton in the act. “So, I see we’ve got a mole here.”

“Where?” Ana searched her face to see if that pesky mole on her upper lip had resurfaced. “Does anyone have a small hand mirror?”

“Not that kind of mole, you idiot!” Ted yelled.

“You mean a spy?” Creighton feined disbelief.

“No, there, that furry animal burrowing under my carpeting! Quick Creighton get my buffalo gun!”

“But sir, that’s only for shooting buffalo.” Creighton replied, unlocking the back door and allowing both Ana and James the ability to leave.

Ana knew her only chance to make a run for it was to create a diversion. But what?

In a last gasp effort to save herself and James, who was looking rather cute in a bedraggled sort of way, stepped forward and declared, “All right, you got me. I’ll tell where the Weapons of Mass Destruction are.”

“Honey, that’s yesterday’s news. No one believes in them anymore than we believe in cold fusion.” Ted threw his dagger across the room. “We need the Orb, darlin’ The Orb.”

Ana’s eyes signaled to James, darting from the curtain to his feet. “Run,” she mouthed when Ted wasn’t looking.

And he did.

Right into the Professor who was emitting multi-colored rays of light from the ends of fingertips. Everything he touched turned psychedelic. He was the trippiest Midas that ever walked the streets and tunnels (tunnels?) of Bozeman.

At that moment Ted hoisted his buffalo gun and shot at the mole.

“Wait!” screamed the Professor. “That sir is no mole, that’s my wife!”

Mike Finkel

bio: Mike Finkel is currently producing offspring at a disconcertingly rapid pace.


Goddamn there’s a lot of characters in this story, thought Mike Finkel as he read he tale, then read it again, and found himself thoroughly confounded. I guess that’s what happens when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. How wonderfully, egotistically rude would it be, he wondered, to fuck the whole thing up, insert himself as a character, have that James guy -- remember James? has anybody actually read this far? hello? -- shut the book he was reading back near the Thomas the Tank Engine track over at the Barnes & Noble, and, in a nice Italo Calvino sort of way, start the whole damn story again?

It could be a simple, coming of age yarn about a young man -- a man named James -- and his mother -- let’s call her Eileen -- driving with the multitudes down North 19th Street, talking about what they’d like to eat for lunch, speaking of the weather, telling unfunny jokes. Tender. Poignant. Subtle. A searing look into the quiet angst that defines our time. The ennui of life. The meaning of it all. Possibly written in French.

Certainly, we could weave in a lot of insider hilarity, like making good-natured fun of the fact that you have to mortgage your home to afford a bagel at the Co-Op, or that there’s really only two types of people left in town -- real estate agents and yoga instructors -- or that by city ordinance you must own a black lab or face expulsion. We’d have to note the amazing and unbelievable fact that Petsmart can be read as either Pet Smart or Pets’ Mart. And we’d no doubt retell tell that great old Bozeman knee-slapper about being only 20 miles from Montana…


You’re right.

It’s a bad idea.

Really bad.

So: There’s an orb in the lake. The sky is all trippy. Someone has apparently wed a rodent. We’ve poked some fun at Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, and Mitt Romney, but not the sacred Democrats. People are named Marcellus, Ana Maria, Magus (with an accent aigu), the Professor, Dorothy, Creighton, Jan, and Ted. It’s possible that the Professor has a name, but I missed it. Marcellus is also known as Thaddeus. I think. Anyway, there’s been a bit of sex. People have driven all over the valley. The word “hincty” has been used. Someone has a diminutive penis. Can we say penis in this story? Martinis have been craved. James, I believe, is still the main character.

Plow on, my dear Soren.

Soren Kisiel

Soren Kisiel is an award-winning playwright and co-author of Broad Comedy, the Executive Director of the Equinox Theatre Company and the founder of Spontaneous Combustibles Improv Comedy Troupe.

Plow on, indeed, Mike. For what choice have we?

I understand your impatience, my friend, but sit here by the fire. Let the night’s quiet calm you, for there is still much to tell.

You cannot be blamed for feeling that there are too many characters in this story. There are many. But you see it is only by a complete telling of the tale that the deeds of Magnus the Great can be seen in their full light. Only with a full recounting of Magnus’ mighty actions, and those of the legends around him, can the true heroism be seen, and the fullness of his humanity.

Indeed, it is tempting to disrespect our ancestors. To chuckle over a word like “hincty” or the confusion of names, but is this what we wish to teach our children?

If our great stories were allowed to be treated so lightly, how would we know who we are? When we are asked why we wear the cloaks of silver dire-wolf fur upon our shoulders, or why our leaders wear a ring of cold iron from the north seas upon their brow, what will we answer?

Just as if the traditions of Magus Terra of the Denim Overalls had been lost, we would have been lost as well.

If the Ways were not passed to her from the earliest times, from wise one to wise one, if they had not been preserved to eventually land in Magus Terra’s leathered palms, would we even be here to tell the tale? Passed from Sun Tzu to Sun Ra, and indeed from the hearthstone to Firestone. Yes, Firestone. For, my friends, my community, it is around tires that our story now turns.

Magus Terra of the Denim Overalls stood just outside the property line, across the street where Hyalite Canyon Road finds its bottom, at Cottonwood Road. She knew this was coming. And she knew she wouldn’t be prepared. She had spread herself too thin.

When the elders had given her the task of maintaining the wall, she should have made that her only goal. Live in the house across from the bottom of Hyalite Canyon Road, and keep the holy tire-wall intact.

Few in Bozeman now remembered the tire wall, it had been so long since it was taken down. A fence, long and proud and as high as any rancher’s, constructed entirely of old tires. Of eternal tires, holy tires, tires imbued with the elasticity of angels, as all rubber is. Tires made to stand the test of time, the test of progress.

That wall had been gone a half-decade, at least, when now it was finally needed. For half a generation Magus Terra had watched over the wall, before she became distracted.

It was too easy to become distracted. Her attention had been pulled away in so many directions. Supporting local businesses… fundraising for small non-profits… reading the Food Co-op’s newsletter… taking on students of her ways, like Stephanie Campbell, or Holly Zadra. This land offered so much for a woman like Terra, how could one blame her for not maintaining her focus? So when the property taxes got to be too much - for all her income had gone to bailing out small theater companies - and the house with the tire fence was sold, she tried not to think of the tires, to put them out of her mind. Terra, after all, wasn’t her real name, anyway. She’d done what she could, right?

But now, watching the dancing glow reaching out from the mountain tops, she understood why the angels had placed the tire wall there. Why the spirits had chosen that spot at the bottom of the canyon to make their steel-radial stand.

She pushed a tear from her eye. This was no time for self-pity, or regret. Pulling a worn bandana from her pocket she blew her nose, steeling herself against what was to come.

She climbed back into the U-Haul she’d rented, the illustrated postcard of Wounded Knee painted on the side no coincidence. From the breast pocket of her denim overalls she pulled a long graying eagle’s feather, and placed it on the dashboard. Firing the engine, she headed for the storage unit. The storage unit where the tires had been stacked upon one another like prayer stones, sleeping peacefully for these many years.

Sally King

After paying her New York dues, King lives in Bridger Canyon and writes about food, wine, travel and design for Big Sky Journal, Western Art and Architecture, Wine Review Online, Wine Enthusiast, More, and other publications and websites.

Hunkered down in the U-Haul, Terra (a.k.a. Ana Maria, Junior) thought about the life she had led before storing so many things in the storage unit. She’d had an exciting life, a good life, and now she was willing to put it all on the line.

In addition to the tires in the storage unit, there were cases and cases of Ketel One vodka. Why had she felt the urge to stockpile so much vodka? It had to do with some feeling of scarcity. Terra was always worried about being broke, poor, hungry, and unable to pay her rent. Now that cost of living in Bozeman was out of control, she had felt compelled to be somewhat of a pack-rat.

During her years in town, she had asked Ted to bail her out so many times—which he did, even when he was married to Jane—and she just couldn’t ask him again. It was too embarrassing. And she certainly couldn’t call Marcellus! Not again!

So, she slumped back in the driver’s seat of the U-Haul and thought about what to do next.

Terra worried about the tire situation; it was more of a stressor now that she was divorced from Thaddeus and she had to fend for herself. She started pacing.

Then, it came to her: YOGA! If I go to Down to Earth’s mysore class, I’ll be able to think straight; I’ll be able to come out of the Emerson—pink and glowing with that yoga high—and confront the contents of the storage unit. The tires. The vodka.

So she walked over to the yoga studio, spread out her yoga mat, and proceeded to chant, breathe, and move her body and mind. After 1 _ hours of introspection and yoga poses, Terra had a clearer head. It worked every time. “Practice, practice. All is coming,” said her guru.

She rolled up her sweaty yoga mat. “OK.” She sighed. “Here we go.” (When she got nervous or anxious, she talked to herself. It was her own way of dealing with stress. )

When Terra arrived at the storage unit, she entered her code, and there they were: All the tires, plus, all the Ketel One vodka. The room was chilly, and she was grateful that alcohol didn’t freeze. “Plus,” she said out loud, “…he LOVES martinis!”

She knew she had to consider the Orb. She thought about adding some Ketel One to the hole in the ice. Would it help or hurt the situation? Terra worried about the fish and the environment, but she also knew that the vodka would very slightly change the temperature of the water in the reservoir so that the water would be more accessible.

She sat in the storage unit, opened a bottle of Ketel One, and took a long swig, right out of the bottle. Just like James had done.

She put on the red Neoprene suit that she knew she had to use, took one of the tires, tucked two small bottles of vodka in her vest—the one she bought on sale at Northern Lights-- and headed up to the reservoir.

When she got to the reservoir, she took out the tire and……

Jonathan Gans
Lives with horses and over the ridge from Bridger Bowl in Brackett Creek country. He writes poetry, teaches kids, talks to his dogs and has loved the same woman for 31 years. His recent book 49 Poems: Where Are You Leading Me Now? was published in 2005.

a can of charcoal lighter she kept in the trunk for starting fires on wet mornings in the campground. She tucked her rolled up Yoga Tarp under one arm and her prayer helmet under the other.

“I’m a gonna either scare that loony Orb back into the zenith delta where he come from or git him to settle down right heah ‘cross from me like we was gonna smoke a pipe and he’s gonna tell me just what this whole shindangdooie is about,” she muttered, taking a look around to see if anyone else might be watching her one woman parade from her Rambler down to the lakeside. She’d gotten tired of shifting into that worn out U Haul clutch and had left the beast at the storage yard.

“Ain’t this a helluva thing for a gal as shined up an smart as I used to be, reduced to this kind of foolishness in the dead of night, and for what? Got to be some dumbass furriner man type behind this I am sure.”

Down on the ground went the old tire when she’d carried it through the pine woods as far as she could on what breath she still had left at that altitude. She squatted stiffly and squirted the inside of the rim with lighter fluid. Reaching into the front slash pocket of her skin tight suit, she pulled out a Zippo lighter and flicked it into flame in front of her face for a moment. “You light MY fire, baby. Always, Jimbo” read the engraved inscription on the cover.

“What the hell do I think I’m doin out here anyway? Savin’ the world? Bringin in the Orb? Livin out a dam fairy tale gone real wrong, ‘ats whut.”

She reached forward and lit the fluid inside the tire. It all leapt into a flaming blue ring, and instantly began to cast up the putrid black smoke for which riot tires are famous. With the tiger striped prayer helmet pulled down snugly, her rhythmic chanting of the Zarathustrian Manger Moan Mantra echoed and ricocheted inside her head like a swallow trapped in an attic trying to find a way out. But keep it in she did, as she was supposed to do, now sitting on her spread out tarp in the pose of reception, soles of her Birkenstocks pressed together, the burning tire’s black light casting an eerie glow on her red neoprene suit. She was like the red pointer of her own compass, aimed in some new magnetic direction other than the four cardinals, calling out of the dark matter of the sky whatever Power, God, Orb, or late night freak with a portable dish might tune her in.

She felt prickly. Was it the suit? Itchy on her skin. Hard to concentrate on the Mantra. What if the tire burned out before she got the message? Would she know the message when she heard it, be able to distinguish it from her own inner slavish rant, her worn through complaint on life? She would know. She had to know. She was the only one out here, the only one with her own tire, her own inner reggae filling in what crevices remained in her disintegrating brain, the only one in The Red Suit, the only one believing in The Great Man after so many disappointments from so many little men, the one true believer in The Orb. Somethin’s comin.

She paused for a good long swig of the cold and burning vodka. And another. One more. Back to the chant. Now she was feeling the energy, her blood running warmer, her eyelids twitching from the expectant REMs behind them. She tilted her head back and looked directly up into the night sky and she saw it then, saw the rainbow Orb, circling the moon like rings around a stone thrown into night’s own water. It was descending slowly, spinning as it came down to where she sat, a patient disciple, a Vestal waiting in the light of a burning tire, her mouth dropped open, eyes wide as temple bells. Did she see the little man, the little man just inside the rim of the rainbow Orb, as if he were at the controls, controlling the descent of the glimmering, shimmering donut orb. Yes, she had harnessed its power, and it was coming down to meet her, to greet her, to rescue her, to reward her with all those dreams she had for so long been wanting.

She was fixated on it, her face full upward as it grew in size. She felt her neck stiffen and cramp from the cold and she couldn’t straighten it. She was losing her balance, being drawn into the light tunnel. She fell backward and the nape of her neck, unprotected just below the helmet, landed with a heavy thud on a downed log and she passed out.

Kate Howe
Wastes a lot of time writing poetry, short stories, screenplays (some of which she’s finished!) and the occasional novel. Sometimes they get published. When she isn’t teaching skiing at Bridger Bowl or rock climbing at Spire, she can be found hanging absurdly large sculptures from the ceiling of the Co-op or documenting the insanity that is her life at

James looked down at the neoprene clad, Birkenstock wearing fruitcake that was his former flame and sighed. Why are the most interesting ones also the craziest? Clenching and unclenching his right hand, which was pulsing in psychedelic patterns where he had touched the Professor (read as: shoved him violently out of the way as he made his escape), he looked across the ice to the group that had gathered on the shore.

Anna Maria nodded at him. Magnus, who had the potential to be great, stared vacantly at Anna Maria, wondering if he could inhale her bodily and suck her into his skin. The Professor and Marcellus were trading touches back and forth, seemingly playing games with the psychedelic pulses of light. Interesting that in every crisis, there is also time for boredom and distraction. The dead guy sat dejectedly, looking sullenly at Magnus, and realizing that it could just as easily have been him. Okay, it HAD been him. Anna Maria hadn’t let him inhale her bodily into his skin, either. It was time to get on with life. Perhaps he could find work up at Bridger teaching skiing. People say it’s a good job, an okay place to meet hot women.

James surveyed the motley group and knelt next to Tara. Lovingly, he removed her tiger striped mantra helmet, allowing her wild, unkempt hair to spill from it. Even insensible, she was still strangely compelling to him. He still couldn’t believe this had to be done. His history with her, it had been hard to stay away, and equally great to be outside her orb of insanity… he glanced again at Anna Maria, who was scraping Magnus off her lower leg with her heel, and gesturing for James to get on with it.

“This is ridiculous” thought James, feeling a bit biblical, a bit in over his head, a bit moronic, and not just a little curious. He bent down over his former love, whispered her name. The Professor and Marcellus touched the ice at precisely that moment, sending pulses of cosmic light across the reservoir toward them.

James, who might have thought “Not again” or “Oh, please” normally under such circumstances, was wholly captivated by the spectacular goggle tan that Tara was sporting and drew nearer and nearer realizing as the scent of hot neoprene and sweat assaulted his senses that he had never ever needed to taste someone as badly as the taste of Tara… his lips descended upon hers and all eyes turned to the sky as…

Mike England
Once a writer of marginal promise, Mike England has currently suspended his literary ambitions to engage in the equally unprofitable business of independent magazine publishing.

…Ted Turner emerged from the center of the iridescent glow, riding a white, winged buffalo. The deranged media mogul bore down on them, eyes ablaze with the indignation and fury that only a member of the bourgeoisie can feel when outsmarted by proletarians. “Impudent little wretches,” he growled, kicking his spurs into the flying bison’s ribs. He reached out and stroked his cat, poised like a sphinx on the beast’s shaggy head. It purred momentarily, then let out a horrid wail that echoed through the canyon.

The group on shore froze in place. Not only would Ted be on them in seconds, but they were all transfixed by the banner trailing from the winged creature’s tail: “Where Culture Meets Evolution: Buffalo Ted’s Montana Grill and Flying Wild West Show.” Anna glanced at the Chevette and was overcome with shame. Her “Be a Yokel, Buy Local” bumper sticker now seemed so 2006.

The Professor cringed with self-loathing. He had helped create this abomination, when he was part of the secret genetic engineering program concealed in the geodesic dome beneath the Flying D Ranch. The winged bison Pegalo had been their only real success—unless you call turning his wife into a mole successful (which he certainly did). The Professor remembered Ted’s impassioned soliloquy when Pegalo was born. “Forgive me, Montana, for Jane,” he’d said, in a rare moment of humanity. “I was weak! Like Beowulf with Grendel’s mother! Jane is my curse, and always will be—at least until the Vietnam vets die off. But the Flying Wild West Show will be my salvation! What ex-Marine could hate me after seein’ buffalo-mounted cowboys jousting 200 feet above the Gallatin River?”

James, still in his liplock with Tara, opened his eyes in time to see Ted and his giant albino bison-bird landing on shore. As Tara smiled and groggily maneuvered herself into the downward dog yoga pose, James’s mind wheeled with a single, persistent thought: “Can you really get high off tire smoke?”

Ted dismounted and leveled his buffalo gun at the group. “Where is the Orb of Dominion?” he demanded. “Without it, my genetic augmentation program cannot succeed! Anna Maria, unless you want a 50-caliber slug through your saline sacs, I suggest you get in the water and fetch me my orb.”

While Ted was threatening breast reduction and James was considering new psychoactive opportunities, Magnus was thinking. An ember had ignited inside his brain. He felt everything around him changing, shifting, like the air before a storm. And then all at once it burst into his consciousness. He suddenly remembered what Anna had told him during their moment of non-blasphemous, profanity-laced ecstasy. How could he have forgotten? Those tender lips, whispering to him ever so sweetly that it was he, and only he, who possessed a penis diminutive enough to save Bozeman from certain doom.

A change came over Magnus. His stooped shoulders raised and broadened. His furrowed brow relaxed and a look of calm permeated his countenance. Everyone turned to witness the grandeur and dignity of Magnus’s transformation. He was no longer Magnus the Miniscule. No longer “Big Guy with Tiny Pee-Pee,” as the Hopi called him. Destiny had arrived at last. He would become what his Aunt Ruthie had always told him he’d become: Magnus the Great. And for the first time in his life, he knew exactly what he had to do.

Shayna Gibson

Shayna Gibson is the recent recipient of mild Internet infamy. She wishes she were joking. She also can’t resist flirting with the boundaries of literary decency. She’s sorry. No she isn’t.

It takes a great act of daring to be considered by the Board of Literary Name Suffixes to be qualified as a “the Great.” It is, as of yet, an unbusted myth that correlates outstanding genital characteristics to greatness. Of course, that said, the size of a man’s genitalia has little to do with the quality of his constitution. Unless, of course, you happen to find yourself in Butte, Montana on St. Patrick’s Day without pants.

Of all of the greats, Magnus had by far the most fascinatingly magical stick of salami in his pants (except, perhaps, for Joan of Arc, who found her holy armor more comfortable when she stuffed its codpiece to prevent chaffing the empty slot.) This trouser tiger had lain dormant for the majority of Magnus’ life, only did it finally begin to awaken with the arousal provided by Ana Maria’s sailor mouth and the vacant afterlife plans that solidly slept behind her irises. It was a lust-slaked glimpse of a faith in vast empty nothingness that was promised in Ana Maria’s climax-dialated pupils. Like all “the Greats,” Magnus had been injected by his own potential by the noncommittal affections of a disdainful woman of action.

Catherine the Great had a prophetic vagina. Xerxes the Great possessed a testicle that permeated the aroma of freshly baked bread. Alexander the Great had been blessed (or cursed depending on the moment) by two nigh-identical Greek peni to pack in his Byzantine underpants. The slightly lubricated hand of fate had touched Magnus with a gift that might cost him his very life, or at least certainly his dignity.

With one last look of profound, almost pubescent longing at Ana Maria, Magnus dropped trou. A collective eyebrow raise directed itself at the new dangling member of the adventuring party. It would have introduced itself, but it was rather cold. The awkwardness of the moment lingered at length before finally giving way to the light jazz-infused sounds of Tony Mottola.

“Magnus!” Ana Maria gasped as she fully understood his plan, “I had no idea that your penis was baritone.”

Ted Turner was not amused. His flying buffalo was not appeased by the sounds of pants-sausage easy listening. Ted Turner was not a man to trifle with with your pants down. Unless of course, you knew his secret…

Rebecca Kinman

Rebecca Kinman is a vagabond writer whose recent travels to South America have inspired a number of humanitarian projects. A former Co-op employee, she enjoys the occasional indulgence in affectionate jabs at the store’s philosophical core. But she doesn’t mean it because she wants to continue friendly visits with her ex-coworkers while they’re still on the clock . Read her blog at

……That second to the Co-op, the Ted Turner Foundation was one of the biggest annual beneficiaries to ACRDA (Americans for Complete and Rapid Destruction of the Amazon). “What a useless, putrid waste of potentially profitable advertising space,” Ted grumbled.

“Yah, Magnus’ penis is capable of so much more,” chimed Anna Maria.

“No, you Latina wannabe fool,” cried Ted. “These foolish words astound me! The Amazon Rainforest is a waste! I’d like to buy it all and start a new advertising campaign,”

Ted’s eyes joyfully sparkled at the thought of thousands of species of endangered monkeys violently dying, one by one. His mind basked in the thought of lush green canopies being whipped to shreds and ancient native traditions slashed by the pleasure of capitol greed. His heart pounded expectantly as he conjured the idea of replacing the entire Amazon with a colossal… billboard. The largest one ever. It would be visible from…the moon! From Saturn! From His secret collection of Sinead O’Connor reggae bootlegs! It would read: “Ted’s Montana Grill. Eat Great. Kill the Rainforest. ” His late father would be very proud.

As if telepathically detecting Ted’s devious plan, Anna Maria grabbed Marcello’s AA-12 shotgun with her right hand and Magnus’ very vocal manhood with the other. It was a trick that she’d learned from an 180-year-old shaman that she had met in Venezuela after her post-college quest to find herself. “The male member is a great thing. It is like a shotgun,” the shaman had said. “Only a woman can combine their powers to save our people. To save the jungle. And the world.”

“Don’t even think about it,” Anna Maria commanded, pointing the expensive firearm to Magnus’ temple.

‘Sorry honey,” she whispered to a very sweaty Magnus. “This will only take a second,”

She bravely pointed Magnus’ singing penis toward the buffalo, who was now trying to plug his ears with his hooves.

“Make one move and I’ll put this penis on permanent Barbara Streisand. You and your Buffalo will live in an infinate hell that no soundproof geodesic dome can shelter you from!”

“Oh, you foolish, foolish girl…”cackled Ted. “Everyone knows that the Double-Handed Feminine Phallus Grasp can be overridden by pressing just one simple button. One that lies deep within the center of the Orb of Dominion. Now tell me where it is, or I will be forced to buy Hyalite Canyon and have the city’s water supply laced with…chlorine! Then I’ll have the Board of Directors at the Co-op raise the price of local, organic non-genetically modified bison! Then I’ll sell the Co-op’s McDonalds’s franchise and use the extra cash to bleach my mustache! I’ve got those sold-out hippies wrapped around my little finger! Huaahuaa huaaa!”

Everyone fell silent. The idea of toxic cleaning products in their drinking water -- and on Ted’s face -- was sickening. And Terra had just read in the Co-op newsletter that ground bison was already an astronomical $5.99 a pound. Not to mention, Mcdonald’s--and thus the greater Bozeman Community--would suffer greatly the economic loss of the Co-op’s underground investment in unethically raised meats and their not-so-undergound investment in soy-based, tasteless meatlike product. The future of Bozeman was greatly dependent upon stopping Ted Turner, the Co-op, and their collaborative efforts to make a buck off of pseudo-environmentally progressive causes.

There was only one thing to be done.

Stephanie Saline
Stephanie Saline writes at her kitchen table, rides bikes, works at the Emerson, is a member of Equinox Comedy Death Match, and will play Mindy in Alan Ball’s “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” in MSU’s Black Box Theater in April. She is currently scouting acts for a summer burlesque show in her backyard. Seriously. Email for more info.

Had Ted only known that the indulgent revelation of his nefarious intentions would actually cause their ultimate undermine, perhaps he would have chosen to enjoy an unexpressed thought.

His tragic fate, sung from the shelves of Poor Richard’s by so many ravenous heroin-hollowed and rehab-muted sirens on the covers of glossy fashion and celebrity gossip magazines, could have been avoided. But Ted, too rich to fetch his own copy of the latest Vanity Fair let alone burden his pockets with an actual wallet, had abandoned a life of chance and confrontation – which threatened to change him in ways he did not plan or expect – for one of convenience and catering. Ted’s housekeeper Doris had dispatched the lowest ranks of her staff to run in-town errands on his behalf for years.

What had once seemed the hallmark of luxury – the having of others tend to life’s everyday tasks so as to spend one’s time in more esoteric or at least commercially lucrative endeavors – had, over a lifetime, left Ted with a rather stunted soul. Thanks to Doris’ competent anticipation of Ted’s every whim, a small bell had even been recently installed in his personal water closet, which when rung, sent a manservant running to him, in each hand a roll of bathroom tissue.

Like Howard Hughes and Doris Duke before him, Ted had in fact noticed the gradual erosion of his dignity. Mostly in the dull pity he felt whenever he saw a photo or interview of Britney Spears. Yet Ted felt – if he could be said to feel anything anymore - strangely helpless to counteract it. His common sense had long since been replaced by an eccentric’s reasoning, which would explain why, upon remembering that he no longer knew how to operate a motor vehicle, instead of enrolling in the “Safe Driving Refresher” adult ed course, he had taken to traveling by bison volant.

And so, like any starved soul who joins the conversation half-emptied martini glass in hand, Ted blurted out his pathetic designs for Bozeman, the rainforests, and his restaurant, whose giant red neon sign proposed for the Baxter franchise had rankled the Historic Bozeman Society, who - with the mistaken sense of ferocity usually reserved for small yapping dogs - had predictably threatened to deep six the whole project.

On the banks of Hyalite Resevoir, the group had grown restless and fidgety in the musk of Ted’s loneliness. Oblivious, Ted barreled on.

“…and after the sign thing is put to bed, we can all get together for dinner at the restaurant. San Pellegrino’s on me. And then, you can all come over to the Flying D and we can watch youtube. Have you guys seen ‘two girls in a…’”

Had Ted been more keen, he would have known the “Double-Handed Feminine Phallus Grasp” for the ruse that it was. Instead of being distracted by the AA-12 in Ana Maria’s right hand, he would have understood that fate of his villainy was held in her left.

In the time that it took for Ted to impress the friends he longed for with his plans of domination and conquest, Ana Maria’s clever hand had succeeded in warming Magnus’ previously shy member. Had Ted been more observant, he would have seen Ana Maria release Magnus’ little warrior, now fluffed for his world-saving mission.

And if Ted had been a man who wiped his own ass, he would have registered that a freed and aroused Magnus was now waddling - pants around his ankles - to the hole bored mere hours before by Marcellus and James.

On and on, Ted talked. “There’ll be simulated sunrise and sunset ever hour on the hour, and every Friday night the maître d’ will release baby bison into the dining room for a running of the bulls…”

As Magnus kneeled, he looked back at Ana Maria. She was laughing in the moonlight. Unlike Mr. Turner, Ana Maria’s secrets were protected behind a pair of imperial guard dogs, her grin and her cunt. There is but one hero in the stories of men, she mused. She made a mental note to check out Beefalo Station, the new all-male burlesque club and fantasy show behind Miss Lil’s in Belgrade, after this adventure wrapped up.

Somehow, Magnus knew his singing cock was the one thing that would attract the Orb of Dominion like a magnet. Instinctively, he prostrated himself on the ice.

Ray Sikorski

Ray Sikorski wrote a play for the 2008 Equinox One-Act Festival, has a book called “Driftwood Dan and Other Adventures,” and contributes to national and regional publications. He has never seen anything quite like the 11,797 words that preceded his Foolish Words installment.

“I'll be damned if I'm going in there,” said Magnus' penis, rapidly shriveling. “You can soak your head all you want, but I ain't goin' in and I ain't singing a tune.”
“C'mon!” implored Magnus. Everyone was watching, which didn't help matters any.
“You know,” said Ted Turner, eyeing Magnus waning member. “Buffalo meat just isn't selling quite the way I intended it. Maybe Ted's Montana Grill needs to branch out into something a little more exotic.”
“I going in!” yelled Magnus' penis, straightening back up. “Name me a tune! You want it, I'll sing it!”
Magnus reassumed his position over the ice hole, and the crowd egged him on. The colorful orb swirled across the heavens, and Ted Turner noted to anyone who would listen that it was only colorful because he colorized it. And then, appearing from behind a snowbank, was a character who looked vaguely familiar, yet no one could quite place him.
“Who's that dude?” asked Ana Maria.
“I'm the star of this story. James. Remember me from page one?”
The others looked at him blankly.
“I was handed the package from the dead guy while I was waiting for my bus.”
The dead guy nodded in vague recollection.
“What I want to know,” James asked, “Is what the hell is going on with this story?”
“What does it look like,” said Magnus, his undulating nudeness turning pink from the cold. “I'm saving the world from a sinister plot by humping this ice hole with my diminutive, singing penis.”
“Well, you're right about a sinister plot,” replied James. “But the sinister plot isn't to destroy the world. It's to keep me from being the main character of this story, and I'm not gonna take it any more!”
“Why do you deserve to be the main character?” asked Magnus. “You don't have a singing penis.”
“You don't have a billion dollars and a flying white buffalo,” said Ted Turner.
“You don't have a red neoprene jumpsuit,” said Ana Maria, Jr.
“You don't have beautiful decolletage and use the f-word during sex,” said Ana Maria, Sr.
“You aren't dead,” said the dead guy.
“You don't know your way around Bozeman's hincty alleyways,” said Marcellus.
“You don't have a cool name like Creighton,” said Creighton.
“You don't know the ins and outs of Italo Calvino's style,” said Mike Finkel.
“You don't grasp the essence of Norse sagas,” said Soren Kisiel.
“You don't understand the concept of meta-narrative,” said Ray Sikorski.
James listened very, very patiently. “That all may be true,” he finally said. “But I do have the keys to the Chevette.”
And with that, James got in the old rustbucket, fired it up, and drove the ice-covered Hyalite Road back to Bozeman – leaving behind the crowd, the orb, and Magnus' penis, which was now softly blubbering just below the surface of Hyalite Lake.
James drove to town and parked at the bus stop. This time, he paid no attention to the dead guy and his package. Instead, James waited for his bus, got on, and simply rode away.



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