No. 9 - Where the Hoopla Is


Afforded a modicum of privacy by the overgrown hedgerow bordering one side of the house, El Humidor enjoys a long, beer-fueled pee, a cigarette smoldering from his lower lip. Zipping up, he walks up the side of house back to the front, turns, and makes his way back the front stoop, from which billows clouds of blue smoke. He shoulders (politely) through the crowd of smokers and squeezes in the front door.

Nodding hellos, smiling broadly and saying "hey" at party-goers male and female alike, El Humidor makes his way through the morass of sweaty humanity in the front rooms of house. The stereo is blasting but what's playing is almost undistinguishable from the din of voices.

"So I told him of course I would but that I would naturally have to do the same for my husband--"

"Never mind."

"You're going to want to disinfect that, before. And after."

"Him? Sweetheart, nobody's ever been that drunk."

"Your mom."

"What are you trying to kiss me for? You didn't buy me any drinks."

" mom. Once."

"I rubbed it up to half mast, but nobody saluted. Truck stops are such a waste of time anymore."

"Like you were never broke enough to do that!"

"I think the bathroom is clear."

Humidor pauses to light a girl's cigarette in the passageway between foyer and kitchen, chats amiable for a minute or two until his red plastic beer cup runneth empty. Excusing himself, but promising to return, he pushes on to the kitchen.

The kitchen floor is slippery with a mix of spilled beer and dirt and grime. Someone's lighting a cigarette on the electric stovetop. El Humidor pauses at the sink, where a guest has procured a bottle of cheap whiskey. Cupboards are ransacked for suitable substitute shot glasses. A menagerie of mason jars, coffee mugs, and measuring cups result. A round is poured. A toast is proposed. An awkward silence follows when no can think of what to toast too, followed by just taking the shots to a general shrug.

Yelling his thanks for the drink, El Humidor resumes his migration. Aecca/Decca's Chamber of Reflections (the pantry) has been reappropriated as a sort of beer docking station, at the front of which sits a keg. Behind the keg lean Mudman and Jerry Rig. Rig's manning the tap and pouring beers. Mudman's saying hello to party-goers and pointing at the empty plastic pitcher full of cash, a paper scrap marked "BEER $" taped to its front.

Being a housemate, El Humidor cuts to the front of the pseudo-line and squeezes around the keg and into the alcove with Rig and Mudman. Rig nods and fills El Humidor's outstretched cup. Refilled, El Humidor perches on the desk at the back of the pantry and drinks. Mudman kicks the base of the keg and looks back at Humidor meaningfully. El Humidor nods, winks, signals at his beer.

When he's done with his beer he grabs a second plastic beer pitcher from a shelf and heads out into the crowd. He slowly makes his way back to front of the house, and eventually reaches "the sweet spot." The sweet spot is an vantage point along the wall between front door and the front window, from whence one can see all the way back on the right, through living room/dining room to the door of the bathroom, and, on the left, through the passageway by the stairs through the kitchen to the door of the pantry. El Humidor steps up onto a convenient chair, elevating him a few feet above the sea of drunken souls. He catches the attention of someone by the stereo and makes a turn-it-down gesture. The music cuts and is met with a disappointed groan from the mob.

"Ladies and genteelmen!!" shouts El Humidor, "it has come to my attentshone, hey, SHUT UP! It has come to the Keg is Empty! We already have a lot of money!" he points back towards the pantry. Mudman, grinning, hoists the pitcher of cash up like a grail. "But we need more to GET A SECOND KEG!" He pauses as a spirited cheer rises from the crowd. He holds out the empty pitcher as a steady slew of ones and an occasional fiver are tossed in. After a few minutes Humidor sits down at the top of the stairs, joined by Rig and Mudman.

"Man, where the fuck is Aecca?" asks Rig, pausing to sip his beer. They're counting the money.

"Outside?" suggests Mudman.

"Well, I am not venturing to thee public house on my own," says Humidor, "oh, okay, I count sixty-two dollars."

Mudman holds up a stack of bills, "eighty-five and some loose change."

They both look at Rig. Rig's face breaks into a slow, wide, smile. "One. Hundred. Eleven."

El Humidor whistles. Rig slaps the pile of cash into Humidor's hand.

"Two Fifty-eight. Good haul. Good plan, Rig," says Mudman, handing his pile to Humidor.

"Yeah. Thanks," says Rig, then turns at Humidor, "now, remember, make a big show of taking the cash with you when you go."

"Yes yes yes, El Humidor remembers!" replies Humidor, "but who is, how you say, riding shotgun with I? Where IS Aecca/Decca?"

"I'll go," says Mudman.

"Good, let us go, you and I, then," says El Humidor, standing.

The three housemates trundle down the stairs. Holding the fistful of money in the air, El Humidor declares loudly over the again blasting music that more beer will be on the way, for which he receives a loud cheer from the crowd. El Humidor makes a theatrical exit through the front door, Mudman in tow.

"Be back before you know it!" says Humidor as they pass through the porch throng, "here, hold this," he says, handing the stack of cash to Mudman and fishing his van keys out of his pocket. El Humidor comes to a stop as he reaches the sidewalk, his attention drawn to the left as if by some black hole of gravity. Mudman, starting to count the cash for the zillionth time, almost bumps into him from behind, follows his gaze. The two stand there, soaking up the scene before them.

"Oh, hey guys," says Aecca Decca. Decca's standing out in front on the sidewalk, beer in one hand, other hand casually stuffed in a back pocket. The girl he's talking to smiles slightly gives a tiny wave to Mudman and El Humidor, rocks back and forth on the roller blades she's wearing. Cargo pants, plain yellow t-shirt, pixie haircut. Bengali features.

"Hey," says Mudman.

"Uhhhhh," says El Humidor, steeping off the walkway and on to the sidewalk, "we're, off, uh, to get that second keg," suspicious eyes looking at Aecca, then the girl, then Aecca.

"Cool," says Aecca, noticing Humidor's looks, "uh, this is Creet." He motions at the girl, then looks at her, "these are housemates, El Humidor and Mudman."

"Nice to meet you," says Creet, a friendly grin.

"We'll, uh, be back soon," says Humidor, jingling his keys as he walks backwards to his van.

"Yeah. Soon," says Mudman.

"Okay," says Aecca, turning his body to face Creet again. El Humidor and Mudman walk a few car lengths down the street and clamor into El Humidors dilapidated van. They drive to the bar from whence the procured the kegs. They park in the back, head inside, order themselves up a couple of beers.

"We drink these, then we head back, agreed?" asks El Humidor. Mudman nods.

The two drink in silence. El Humidor spins around on his barstool so he's facing away from the bar, look around the place. "Where IS everyone? It is Friday night!" he asks with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

"At our party," says Mudman, with a boastful tone.

"Oh, right! I forget! Silly me. Silly El Humidor," he claps the empty beer down on the bar, "shall we go?"

Mudman shoots the rest of his beer in a long swallow, "yeah."

The two get up. El Humidor leaves a whole five dollar bill as tip! They return to the van and head back home. Mudman throws open the back door of the van and the two of them wrestle the keg out. With no small amount of wrangling, they manage to actually lift the keg up to their shoulders: El Humidor in front, Mudman behind. Then, like heroes bearing the spoils of war, they begin their march back into the awaiting party. As the cheers begin to rise, first from the front porch, then from inside the house as the word of the second kegs arrival spreads, Mudman murmurs to El Humidor, "I don't see Aecca/Decca."

"What?" Humidor says over his shoulder. The crowd has spilled down the steps, buoying the two of them now into the house, like an amoeba absorbing some protozoa.

"Aecca/Decca. Is he here?" repeats Mudman over the growing din.

The keg has now been entirely separated from Mudman and El Humidor, and is sort of bobbling its way back towards the pantry, where Jerry Rig can be seen holding the tap above his head like a poised sacrificial dagger. As the crowd's bum-rush jostling begins to push El Humidor and Mudman away from each other, Humidor hollers at Mudman.

"Fuck that guy, let's get drunk!"

Words & drawings by D.D. Tinzeroes

No. 8 - Field Tactics for Urban Recluses

THURSDAY, Mid-Afternoon.

The shared house's living room is relatively clutter-free. Mudman watches on as a cloud of cigarette smoke bends and dances to El Humidor's fumokinesis - a rather impressive fully animate model of the solar system. Aecca/Decca slouches in a chair, half-listening to someone on the phone and half-watching Jerry Rig count through and organize a pile of one, five, and ten dollar bills.

"Hey, yeah, still here" says Aecca to the phone, pauses," yeah? Awesome! Okay. See you then!" He hangs up. The other three housemates glance at him.

Decca slaps his hands together, then spreads them out palms up, "we have a keg tap."

"Excellent," says Rig, patting the sides of the pile of cash into a neat rectangle, "with the money we save from not having to rent a tap, we can totally afford two kegs!"

"Two kegs?" monotones Mudman.

"Up front?" says El Humidor, his solar system spinning away into puffs of dissipating smoke. "I know not if like this idea..."

"Yeah, Jer," agrees Aecca, absently toying with phone cord, "I mean, I think the party'll be a success what with the flyers and all, but we might as well just wait til the first keg kicks and do a collection to get a second, then we're not out the cash up front. 'Sides, Humidor's good at buggin' people for money."

"My life's truest calling," confesses El Humidor with a slight nod.

"Okay, okay, fine," says Jerry Rig, then snaps his fingers three times. From beneath sofas and behind tv-stands his brood of miniature robotic furniture scramble across the room to him. El Humidor appears visibly terrified, and assumes a decidedly guarded posture. A three-inch tall Louis XIV chair jumps up and down at Rig's left foot. Not even looking, Rig lowers his left arm to a few inches above the floor, and the little chair scurries up his sweatshirt sleeve to his shoulder, where it perches.

Rig pulls the coffee table closer and begins setting his animate doll furniture atop it, "but first, I would you hear me out," he sets down the largest of the 'bots, a six inch tall wardrobe, "for I have a plan!"

El Humidor scoots his chair back a few inches, "does this plan involve the destruction of these unholy furniture familiars?"

"For zillioneth time, Humidor," sighs Rig, "they certainly can't hurt you! They aren't out to get you! They do not steal your cigarettes, lighters, or spare change! They do not spy on you in your sleep!"

"I do not like the way they look at me," states El Humidor, "their eyes are filled with devious contempt for me."

"Ugh," Jerry Rig runs his hands across his face in exasperation, "to the extent that the furnimicrobots have 'eyes,' they certainly can't be filled with 'devious contempt.' Seriously, what does that even mean?!"

"Get on with it," says Mudman.

"Huh? What?" says Rig, somewhat shrilly. His seemingly never ending defense of the innocence of his tiny furniture automatons has gotten him somewhat worked up.

"Your plan," explains Mudman, "get on with it."

"Oh, right," Jerry Rig arranges himself, claps his hands twice, "Furnimicrobots! Command Pattern: Pongo-Alpha-Redneck-Tiberius-Yankee!!" The robotic furniture freeze for a split second, then appear to scurry chaotically, quickly followed by the clear taking up of predefined positions. At one side sits the little five inch long sofa. At the other sits the wardrobe, the Louis XIV chair, a 3½" x 3½"

kitchen table, and a high-backed upholstered sitting chair.

"For the purposes of this demonstration," explains Rig, "let us say that," his hand dart about the clutter of the coffee table, "this lighter, and this pack of matches are our two kegs of beer," holds them up for illustration. "Now, before the party, possibly tomorrow, El Humidor and Aecca/Decca will take the Battle Wagon to the bar to get..."

"Battle Wagon?" says Aecca.

"We have a wagon?" asks Humidor.

"For battling?" further postulates Mudman.

Jerry Rig sighs, "El Humidor's van."

"Oh, the Valiant, you mean," says El Humidor.

"The what-now?" asks Aecca.

"The Valiant," repeats El Humidor, "my van."

"You call your van the Valiant?" Aecca says.

"And a fine ship she be," beams Humidor, "I won her in a game of cards."

"But you suck at poker," says Mudman.

"It was a game of Magic," explains Humidor.

"You don't know how to play Magic," says Mudman

"Sometimes, in a the best of knowings all," says El Humidor with a philosophical flourish.

"That. That really doesn't make any sense," says a bewildered Mudman.

El Humidor brings his hands together at the fingertips, "and yet I am the one with a van."

"Okay, guys! Fine! El Humidor and Aecca/Decca will take the Valiant," pauses, glances at El Humidor, who nods approvingly, "to the bar to get the keg." The Louis XIV and the high back walk over to the sofa, and the three pieces move to the far edge of the table, where Rig positions the lighter and the pack of matches on the sofa.

"Which of us is the fancy chair?" asks Aecca/Decca.

"It doesn't matter," replies Rig, struggling to get the lighter to stay on the little sofa.

"They are both sort of fancy..." opines Mudman.

"I mean that one," says Aecca, leaning out of his seat and pointing the Louis XIV.

"It really doesn't matter, got it!" Rig wedges the lighter and the matchbook on to the sofa securely.

"Its Humidor, isn't it?" Aecca says accusingly, with a little hurt in his voice.

"Damn straight it is," says El Humidor smugly, momentarily forgetting his disgust of the miniature animatronic furnishings.

"Yeah, it is, Aecca, okay?!" Rig snaps with a hiss, "because Humidor's good at wooing people from their money, like you said yourself! And Louis XIV chairs are good at wooing people from their money, in their own way!! Is that alright!?"

Aecca leans back in his seat, crosses his arms, sulks, "yes."

"Okay," continues Rig, composing himself, "so, we have two kegs in the van, and we come back to the house," the sofa and two chairs click and clack their way back to the sofa's starting point. "And this here, this is the crucial part, okay? We take a keg and bring it in the house, put it on ice, tap it, everything," Rig takes the pack of matches, lays it suspended between the highback and the Louis XIV. With surprising agility, the two chairs then carry the matches over to the table and the warbdrobe, then walk away from eachother, dropping the matchbook between them. The four little robots then arrange themselves in a semicircle around it. Seated in a semicircle around the coffee table, watching the semicircle of Lilliputian robotic furniture set around a matchbook, the four housemates sit in silence.

"Then what?" asks Mudman.

"Oh," says Rig, snapping to, "we leave the second keg in the van."

"The Valiant," says El Humidor.

"We leave the second keg in the Valiant," says Rig.

Aecca/Decca's face is creased in illumination, "so..."

"We bring the first keg in, and let the party at it," as Jerry Rig speaks, the robots do a sort of stilted approximation of drunken mingling, as understood by robotic furniture. El Humidor's white-knuckled left hand clutches and claws at the arm of his chair. "When that first keg kicks," continues Rig, "we'll have Humidor go about and do his money-collecting thing," the little Louis XIV proceeds to walk in a tight circle like a bug with all its left legs pulled off. El Humidor's life appears to be flashing before his eyes.

"Then, when the money's collected," Jerry Rig's voice rising, as he works to his conclusion, "Humidor and Aecca get back in the van," the pair of chairs clatter back to the diminutive sofa, "go and just drive around for 10-15 minutes," the three pieces of furniture move around their side of the coffee table in a tiny procession. "Then, they come back and just unload the keg that's been in the back of the van," Rig transfers the lighter to the two chairs as he did with the matchbook earlier, "I mean, the Valiant, the whole time! And no one's the wiser!" The two chairs carry the lighter back to the other furniture and drop it, stop moving.

The living room in silent. Rig looks to and from the other housemates with an expectant look on his face. The other three sit with thoughtful looks on their faces. The demonstration programming apparently complete, Jerry Rig's miniscule furniture go back to their apparently-aimless wanderings.

Aecca breaks the reverie, "so... by pretending to not already have the second keg, we essentially guarantee that we'll raise the money for the second keg...."

"Exactly!" says Rig, "see, if we just had both kegs sitting out the whole time, there's no way we'd raise enough in donations to cover the total expense! People will donate towards a keg based on two things: an initial gesture of thanks to the keg providers, and blind, brutal necessity!"

"And if there's two kegs, people will only make that first kind of donation, once," says Aecca, nodding his head in understanding.

"And if they think there isn't a second keg, they're much more likely to make a second donation!" says El Humidor, relaxed now that the little chairs and such have moved along.

"And when the second keg arrives..." says Rig.

"... it will be welcomed as if a victorious conquerer," concludes Mudman.

"Good plan, Jer," says Aecca.

"Yeah. Good plan,' agrees Mudman.

"I concur," says El Humidor, "and I must say, the outlook of this party continues to improve!"

"Then the plan is approved?" asks Aecca.

"Did you cut your hair?" asks Mudman, gesturing at Aecca's scalp.

"Huh?" Aecca touches his palm to the top of his head, "oh, yeah. Since it always sticks up I figured I'd just cut it short. Took the scissors to it last night."

"Looks good on you," says Mudman.

"Uh, thanks," says Aecca, blushing slightly, "so, right, all in favor of Rig's plan? Say aye," then followed by the reply, from all four housemates, in unison.

Words & drawings by D.D. Tinzeroes

No. 7 - A Broadsheet for the Soul


Dawn's inexorable rosy fingers stretch out over the sleepy grid of east Portland, greeted by dew-laden blades of grass. The soldiers of morn: joggers, dog walkers, the coffee-seekers, make their way into the brave new day. A couple, thermoses in hand, wave across the street to a woman walking her golden retriever. The wave is returned, the walk resumed, the dog's lease tugged when he pauses for too long to sniff at one lawn. An uneasy look of mild disgust from the canine's owner at the dwelling.

The old Portland craftsman's lawn is unkempt. Its porch, littered in empty and almost-empty beer cans and bottles. Ashtrays bristle with cigarette butts. A bottle which had been conscripted as an ashtray lays on its side, its ashy, butty, beery sludge-liquid pooled on the porch. A fart toots. El Humidor stirs. Mudman and Aecca Decca exchange snickering glances as Humidor continues his drunken slumber on what may be the world's most disgusting porch couch.

Aecca stretches, yawns, "so, we're in agreement, then?"

Mudman looks absently at his beer can, then looks determinedly up at Decca. A curt affirmative nod, "yes." He swigs the last of his beverage.

"It's decided. I'm gonna sleep, then," Aecca gets up, goes in the house. Morning programming drones on as Jerry Rig snores on the sofa. Aecca heads up the stairs. Mudman continues to sit on the porch, slumped in exhaustion.


El Humidor pads down the stairs, grunts in the direction the sprawled figures of Rig and Mudman and heads out the front door immediately to light a cigarette. He stands in front of the big picture-paned window, staring into the living room vacantly at the teevee on which an afternoon cable matinee flickers.

Butting out in a nearby beer can, he comes back inside, gets his own coffee (he doesn't warm it up, however) and perches on the edge of a chair.

"What," he asks, "the fuck are we watching?"

"Robot Holocaust," answers Jerry Rig.

El Humidor arches his eyebrows in disbelief, "robot... holocaust..?"

"Yeah," says Rig, "Y'know. Last city still stood? The remaining home of what was left of civilization? Society all but destroyed by the Robot Rebellion of '33? Blah blah blah?"

"What is that?" says El Humidor, "What is that you just said? Is that from the back of an ACE book? Del Rey? Something?"

"Robot Holocaust. 1987. U.S.-Italian co-production," recites Mudman, "brainchild of Tim Kincaid, who wrote and directed. Starring Norris Culf."

"Exactly," nods Rig.

"Is this the one with the monkey in a diving helmet?" asks El Humidor, peering at the screen.

"That's Robot Monster," snorts Jerry Rig, "moron!"

"1953. Directed by Phil Tucker. George Barrows as Ro-Man," says Mudman, not looking away from the t.v.

"I liked that movie," says El Humidor, with a fond smile, "how did the monkey say?..., 'Ro-Man want be Hu-Man! Something?" looking to the others for assistance.

"To be like the hu-man! To laugh! Feel! Want! Why are these things not in the plan?" recites Mudman.

"How do you do that?" asks Jerry Rig.

"Like, it's like you're a crappy movie idiot savant," agrees El Humidor.

Mudman shrugs.

Humidor and Rig fall silent, and all three continue watching Robot Holocaust.

About an hour passes. Aecca sloths his way down the stairs, yawning. He sluffs into the living room, stands glassy-eyed staring at the t.v. for 30 seconds.

"Robot Holocaust?" he asks.

"Yep," says Rig.

"Can you believe Spielberg's doing a remake?" asks El Humidor. Aecca gives Humidor with a wry look. El Humidor smiles mischievously.

Aecca heads to the kitchen. He pours a mug of coffee, tests its temp with his index finger. Rattles the cup into the microwave. As the 'wave hums away, he makes some toast. A minute or two later he returns to the living room, takes a seat. He finishes a sip of his coffee, his eyes shift around, "you're probably wondering why I've called you all here."

A pattering of guffaws at an old standby line. However, the invocation is also met with the steeling of eyes and the tightening of jaws.

"Last night, words were spoken, and those words were transformed by will into action, my housemates," continues Decca, "and so we must now venture down this path of action which we have determined. We are throwing... a party."

"We're getting a keg," adds Jerry Rig.

"Off the hook, it's going to be, yes," says El Humidor.

"Rager," finishes Mudman.

A few seconds of silence, grim, determined expressions.

"When?" ask Mudman.

"Saturday," offers Rig.

"No, Friday," says Aecca.

Rig scoffs, "crazy. That's in two days."

"Yes, it must be Friday night.," interjects El Humidor, "Friday night is like our Holy Day, no? That is our bar night, our porch session night, our catapult into the weekend."

The others nod in righteous agreement.

"Okay, fine, Friday, then," says Rig, "less competition than a Saturday night. Our venture is more likely to succeed!"

"Yes. Let us not repeat the last party we threw, yes," says Humidor, shaking his head, as if to cut off a flow of bad memories.

"Like, give it a theme?" asks Mudman,

"No," scolds Aecca, "he means let's throw a party where people actually show up."

"Yes that is what I mean, Mudman," affirms Humidor, "there were, what? Eight guests at the last shindiggy?"

"Including or not including when Jukebox Hermit left and then came back?" asks Rig.

El Humidor, repeating in a childish, mocking tone, "including or not including when Jukebox Hermit left and then came back?"

"ENOUGH!" commands Aecca/Decca, "what is done is done! We have to move forward! Forward, I say!"

The other housemates quiet down, El Humidor sneaking a final sneer in at Rig.

"Now," continues Aecca, "how, my companions are we going to prevent such failure this time around."

Silence. Deep concentration.

"More beer?" asks Rig, eyebrows arched.

"Didn't work for our New Years Bash," says Aecca, pouting his lips.

"A full cocktail bar, perhaps?" suggests El Humidor, "a saucy lounge act or two?"

"We can't afford liquor," Rig says with a sigh.

"And unless you are referring to yourself, we don't know anyone who does 'saucy lounge acts,'" adds Aecca. An air of defeatism begins to swirl about the dingy living room.

"We need flyers," says Mudman.

"Heroes whose powers include flying aren't trying to figure out how to get people to attend their kegger, Mudman," says Aecca.

"No. Flyers. We should put up some flyers," repeats Mudman.

"Humph!" grunts Rig, scratching his chin.

"The moodman might be on to sometheeng, I theenk," says El Humidor, fishing a cigarette out of a front pocket.

"Where do we put these flyers?" asks Aecca.

"Coffee shop?" suggests Rig.

"Plaid, perhaps?" adds Humidor.

"Yeah, yeah," says Aecca, "and, like, the library and some telephone poles and stuff."

"The bar," says Mudman.

The other three 'mates stare at Mudman in abject awe, jaws slack.

"Brilliant," says Humidor, phoneticizing it out, bril-eee-ant.

"Guys," grins Aecca, "I think this party is gonna be a hit."


All is quiet in front a neighborhood convenience store. Not a plaid or a sev, but one of those independent ones in an older building. The relative silence is slowly broken by the approach ball-bearing roll of small hard-plastic wheels. Off an adjunct side street rolls a young Bengali woman in roller blades. Cargo pants, plain red t-shirt, pixie haircut. She pulls into an inertia-killing tight turn which ends with her tugging on the mart's door.

Closed. Like, at ten. She pouts her lower lip. Skates in a lazy circle. Something on the nearby telephone pole catches her eye. She skates closer, takes a gander.

It's the flyer for a house party on Friday.

Words & drawings by D.D. Tinzeroes