About Me

My photo
Occasional ramblings and writings. Occasional being the optimal word.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Smorgyboard Saturday--LOST IN OZ

Today's offering was something I wrote last Halloween in about a day for some friends to use in their Hallowen "pageant" at work. They performed it at the Fresno County Office of Education. It's a three-story building with a central lobby/courtyard/foyer area, so there are several references to someone entering from another floor, etc.

The other "inside" joke was that Jim and Jennifer were an item--hence the ending.

The cast (at least the people I know) was as follows:

DORTHY: Jennifer Quinn
SCARECROW: Denise Miller
TIN MAN: Keri Sheaffer
WIZARD: Jim Yovino



(DOROTHY, SCARECROW, TIN MAN, & LION walk in. They are clearly lost. SCARECROW is carrying a map and studying it. The rest are arguing for a brief moment. They all stop as DOROTHY begins.)

(Annoyed) Hey, hey, hey…HEY! Everybody just pipe down for a minute and let me think! Now, Glenda said to follow the yellow-brick road, right?

Yeah, but she didn’t tell you it split off three different ways once you hit Winkie Country.

Well, you’re the one who told us to come this way.

Sorry! It wasn’t a freakin’ expressway the last time I went through.

Did ya forget you were stuck rusting in a field for an eternity and that maybe, just maybe, things might have changed?

I’m sorry! I didn’t see you offering any suggestions.

How’d I get dragged into this thing anyway? I was perfectly happy in my forest…

Being a big ol’ sissy.

I was perfectly happy in my forest livin’ my life until you came along…

No one forced you to come with us.

Yeah. You chose to come with us, and you’ve spent the whole time complaining. You lions are all the same.

What do you mean you lions? I oughta kick you in the cans right now you walking junkyard!

Bring it on ya fleabag!

Oh! Now I have fleas because I’m a lion, huh?

Stop it! Now! I’m tired of this! We need to just focus for a minute and think.  (Sighs) This is what we get for listening to a witch.

(Under his breath) We’re listening to one right now…

(Glares at LION) I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear that…

(Looks up from map) I think if we go that way…

Oh, what do you know straw-for-brains?! Gimme that thing. You’ve stared it long enough.

(LION grabs map. TIN MAN grabs other side of it as he begins to speak)

Hey! You don’t know any better than he does!

Well, you have no idea how to use it!

That’s not what your mother said!

(They pull the map back and forth until it rips)

Now you’ve done it. Great job guys! What now?

(Chuckles to self) We are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

(TIN MAN and LION roll their eyes and groan.)

(Looks around) Can someone get this schmuck some brains, please?

This is ridiculous. I’m calling Glenda. 

(She pulls out cell phone. A phone rings in the distance, maybe on another floor, a loud, obnoxious song, maybe a rap song)

(Sweetly) Hello?

Glenda? Hey. It’s Dorothy. We seem to be a in a bit of a pickle here.

Oh? Well, did you follow the yellow brick road?

Yeah, yeah we did.

Ok, then. What seems to be the problem?

Well, we ran into a bit of trouble around Winkie Country.

Winkie Country? Oh my. You really are lost…(Giggles)

She’s right there (Points to GLENDA).

(Turns to see her) Hey! Pollyanna! Get your smiling face over here and point us in the right direction.

(GLENDA comes to where they are.)

You just follow the yellow brick road…

(She goes to leave. TIN MAN and LION block her way. She snaps.)

You best be gettin’ out mah way! I’m fi'in’a get my herr did! Y’all are on your owns! I told you to follow the yellow brick road! I didn’t say nothin’ ‘bout no Winkie Country! I can’t help it if you can’t follow directions!

(As he exits she mumbles to herself, complaining)

Who knew the north was so ghetto?

What now? All I want to do is get home…(She starts to cry)

Don’t cry pretty lady…(He begins to pet her hair)

(Suddenly, there’s a loud noise. The WICKED WITCH appears on another floor cackling loudly. She descends down, laughing the whole time. Making a scene.)

(As she’s coming) What fresh hell is this?

So you’re lost, huh? HAHAHAHA! I told you I’d get you my pretty! And your little dog too! HAHAHAHAHA!!! (Takes a deep breath) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

(Takes stuffed dog out. Hands it to her) Here. Take him.

(Surprised) Oh. Really? Just like that? That was easy I guess. Well, You’ll never make it to the Emerald City! You’ll never get to see the Wizard! AHAHAHAHAHHAHA!!!!

(WIZARD appears at top of stairs. He is wearing sunglasses. He looks and talks like a mobster, a total goomba. He makes his way down as he talks)

Hey! Who’s a’talkin’ about me? What’s a’goin’ on here? What’s all dis commotion?

FINALLY!! Look, all we want is a heart for him (points), some courage for him (points), some brains for him (points), and I just wanna go back to Kansas.

Well. I’m glad you came to see me. It just so happens that I’m the man that can make things happen.

(Approaches TIN MAN). Why do you want a heart my friend?

So I can love. So I can feel emotion.

(Punches TIN MAN.) Did ya feel dat?

(TIN MAN nods, says ‘Ow’, something like that)

 Then bada-bing! There ya go!

(Goes to LION)

What’s new pussycat? What can I do for you?

I came looking for some courage.

(Pulls a flask or bottle out of his jacket. Hands it to LION.)

Bada-bing! Liquid courage!

(Goes to WICKED WITCH. He’s startled by her appearance.)

Whoa! What’s goin’ on here?


She’s not with us…I think the Scarecrow is next.

(SCARECROW is busy playing with his hands, maybe the ‘here is the church, here is the steeple’ game. He’s amusing himself.)

Whoa! I think I can tell what this guy needs.  (He taps SCARECROW). Hey. Do you know what this is? (He pulls a small can out his pocket.)

That’s Shinola.

Bada-bing! Smarter that most people!

(To DOROTHY.) Now. What about you?

I just wanna get the heck outta here!

Where ya from again?


Whoa! Kansas? You don’t wanna go back there! You should stick around. Stay here. I bet I could find a spot for you in the Emerald City somewhere.

You’re kinda cute you know that?

(She smiles and giggles. They hold hands and start to walk up the stairs or just walk away).

You’ve got to be kidding me! I’ve been trying to get on at the Emerald City forever! This isn’t fair! Darn foreigners coming in and taking our jobs!

(DOROTHY pulls a squirt gun or water bottle out of her basket and sprays WICKED WITCH with water. WICKED WITCH does her ‘I’m melting’ routine. All of the others cheer.)


They won "Best in Show" 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ISFP (My quest to understand existentialism)

So, I’ve been away from the blog for a few days. I’m not sure exactly what writer’s block feels like, but I think I’ve got it. So, who knows what this blog-week will bring…

I sent my cousin a text earlier to remind him it was a blog day and said I didn’t know what to write about. He responded I should write about existentialism. (What are they teaching in high schools these days?) Anyway, I did some looking around online for what exactly existentialism is.

Here’s the simplest definition I could find:

“Basically, they [existentialists] don't believe a god influences their lives but they create their own destiny.”

It took a few searches before I found this definition. I’m sure it’s still pretty basic.

As I read through all the other definitions, I realized that I didn’t feel like I was quite understanding it. I started to search online for something to explain why, but I didn’t know the correct search terms I wanted.

Eventually, I went back to over ten years ago when I attended a leadership conference with the student government at Fresno City College and had the chance to take the Myers-Briggs test. When you take the test, you’re given a “type” which is expressed by a four-letter code.

From the M-B site:

“Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).”

My “type” from way back when is ISFP, so I looked up a description to see if it still fit.

Here are some highlights that I think are true. You can feel free to agree or disagree:

“ISFPs tend to be quiet and reserved, and difficult to get to know well. They hold back their ideas and opinions except from those who they are closest to. They are likely to be kind, gentle and sensitive in their dealings with others. They are interested in contributing to people's sense of well-being and happiness, and will put a great deal of effort and energy into tasks which they believe in.”

ISFPs are action-oriented individuals. They are "doers", and are usually uncomfortable with theorizing concepts and ideas, unless they see a practical application. They learn best in a "hands-on" environment, and consequently may become easily bored with the traditional teaching methods, which emphasize abstract thinking.”

“ISFPs are warm and sympathetic. They genuinely care about people, and are strongly service-oriented in their desire to please. They have an unusually deep well of caring for those who are close to them, and are likely to show their love through actions, rather than words.”

“ISFPs have no desire to lead or control others, just as they have no desire to be led or controlled by others.”

Dislike disagreements and conflicts, do not force their opinions or values on others.”

I’m not sure if I found the answer as to why certain concepts or ideas are more difficult for me to grasp. Perhaps the section above where it talks about ISFPs being “doers,” etc., is a start. For example, at FCC I sit on a lot of committees and many of them have to do with long-term planning. Sometimes, the discussions just go in one ear at out the other. I’m much more interested in planning when the ending goal is actually within reach or site—like an event or something like that.

Part of it could also be that I overcomplicate things sometimes. I think they’re harder to understand than they actually are.

Kind of like this post I guess. Thanks for taking this small little journey into what goes on in my head sometimes.

Oh you have no idea what’s in there. The half has not been told my friend…

 PS: Feel free to leave any comments about the ISFP description. Does it fit or not?  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Smorgyboard Saturday--Ladies and gentlemen, Rowan Atkinson

At least one of these has to make you laugh.

A Warm Welcome

The Amazing Jesus

The Good Loser
(Contains grown-up language)

No One Called Jones
(Contains more grown-up language)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Big times are back!

Went to the Fair tonight with Janice.
Here are some things I learned:

1. The people scanning tickets will accept the one you printed at home even if you dropped it in a puddle.

2. People will eat anything if it's deep-fried.

3. Just about everything can be deep-fried.

4. Don't drop your  plate on the table. It spills the salsa.

5. The Democrat booth had candy while the Republican booth did not.

6. It was not David Bowie who was playing, it was Billy Idol.

7. I know more David Bowie songs than I thought.

8. I could be an artist.

9. The following people should enter photographs:
*Janice Wong
*Jennifer Franklin
*Juana Echeveste
*Albina Campos

10. The following people should enter cakes and other food items:
*Tomas Casarez

11. The cinnamon roll stand gives you a wooden fork which sucks.

12. Chickens don't interest me much if they're still alive.

13. People ignore "No Smoking" signs.

14. $14 for a shish kebob plate is a little high (I didn't get it)

15. It's still fun to spin the wheel and buy a bag of rocks in the Gem and Mineral building.

What things have you learned from the Fair this year?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Smorgyboard Saturday--Happy Anniversary

I wasn't quite sure what to do with this week's Smorgyboard Saturday. I checked the calendar and saw that Paul and Alisha Torres celebrate their one year anniversary on Monday. In honor of that, I'm posting the speech I gave at their wedding nearly a year ago.

In true Celebration Church style, I’m going to tell you that this will be brief, but really, it won’t be. And then we’re going to take an offering…kidding, but I hope you’ll bear with me because I’ve been planning what I was going to say here since December 27 (and Paul or Alisha can explain why).

 It’s somewhat cliché to compare the story of two people to a fairy tale, but I think that’s exactly what we have here. Now, I know some people think fairy tales aren’t true or they’re not real, but just because you don’t believe in something, it doesn’t mean it’s not real…but that’s for someone else to speak on.

This story has all the essential elements of a fairy tale. We have the handsome prince, the beautiful princess…the goofy sidekick…

All fairy tales begin with…what? Once upon a time. This one could begin anywhere: once upon a time at the Celebration Church Christmas party, Once upon a time at Teazer’s, Once upon a time at Alisha’s grandparents’ house.…the list goes on and on…

Most fairy tales have an element of magic. Now here’s where we start to deviate a little. This story doesn’t have magic because magic is just deception…it’s why they’re called tricks… What some people call “Magic” is really just God at work—a sign, a wonder, or a miracle. They just call it magic or fate because they don’t know what God can do. This story could not have been written by anybody else but God.

At some point in the story, someone gets swept off their feet. It’s usually the princess, but not in this case. Let’s just say Paul’s the only grown man I’ve ever heard use the word ‘smitten.’

So, we have our characters, our once upon a time, our “magic that’s not really magic,” our smitten…we just need one last thing which is how all fairy tales end: Happily ever after. Well, obviously this story is far from over……Galatians 3:9 says that all who have faith are blessed and made happy and favored by God. John 3:36 says those who have faith are guaranteed eternal life, and Titus1:2 (which really is in the Bible, somewhere in the back) says they have eternal life which God, who does not lie, has promised since before time began. So, Paul and Alisha, being people of faith, have been guaranteed by God because He does not lie, a “happily ever after” even before they came to their once upon a time.

Most fairy tales end with the wedding of the prince and princess, but this one may just be getting started. Or maybe this is just another chapter. Another beginning. Another once upon a time.

So, Paul and Alisha, thank you for allowing me…and all these other people…to be a part of your story. To be a part of this once upon a time…to be a part of your journey towards happily ever after...
 The Happy Couple (Photo by Albina Campos)

And, of course, the Handsome Groomsmen
(Photo by Janice Wong)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Love or Like?

Today’s post is a little jumbled. By that, I mean I’m not quite sure where it’s going, even as I write it.

This past Sunday, I was in a parking lot walking into Wal-Mart and I don’t even recall what was going through my head, but I remember that it was in between church services.

I felt a question come to me and I’m not sure what it means or what to do with it, so I present it to you.

What I heard was: “I know you love Jesus, but do you like him?”

Normally, I would assume that like comes before love, but this is how I heard the question.

I let it rattle around in my noggin for a while and I’m not quite sure if I’ve figured out what it meant yet.

For some reason, what I thought about was my cousin Colton, probably because I had spent some time with him over the weekend.

He’s 16 and I’m 32, so I’ve known him his whole life. Up until recently, I never really saw him outside of family gatherings and holidays. There was no real relationship there. I suppose there are reasons—he lives in the Coarsegold area, for years I didn’t have a car, and I was always at work or school, but I loved him because he’s my cousin even though we hadn’t spent more than a few hours at a time together.

Each time I did see him he seemed to have grown up so fast. It seems like in a matter of only days, he went from a little kid who once locked my hat in the bathroom at our grandmother’s house (it had two doors and he locked both), to a teenager that was as tall as I was (which isn’t saying much).

As I began to become keen on Jesus and attending Celebration Church, I had a feeling that he would like it. I remember pitching him the idea once at Christmas or Easter or some other holiday you’re obligated to see family. He politely declined.

Last year, God began to put him on my heart. I don’t know why. I guess I just began to realize that I had let so many years go by without making an effort to develop a relationship with him. He’s the only true cousin I have on my mom’s side of the family and he’s a boy guy, so it had made no sense why we didn’t hang out or anything. Frankly, I assumed he wouldn’t want to. Why would a teenager want to hang out with me?

I sent him a text inviting him to our Easter production and his response was something to the effect of “Uh…no thanks,” so I backed off.

 As our church moved into its new building in Clovis, we were all given the opportunity to write names on the stage of people we for whom we were believing to be saved. His name was at the top of my list.

Then something interesting happened. I started to notice on his Facebook that he was going to some youth group. Then I noticed him posting about God.

Over the course of the next several months, I made a more conscious effort to see him outside of holidays: went to see his band play, went to the movies and Christmas Tree Lane with him and my sister, went to see the band again, and went to see his school play. During Christmas he even stayed at my place for two nights.

Somewhat of a side story: In January, I read on his Facebook that he was going to get baptized. Not only did he get baptized, but it was in a creek just outside of Oakhurst—at night.  In the middle of January. That’s dedication. He had awesome friends in his life that helped him develop a relationship with God. Check out the video.

Anyway, I sent him a message back in April or so to see if he wanted to hang out and to my surprise, he said yes. We went to Celebration for service on a Sunday and to lunch…and I forget what else.

After that, we started to spend more time together. I started to visit his church in Oakhurst on a regular basis and he started to visit Celebration.

We hung out together more and actually developed a relationship (almost every weekend it seems).

I realized that not only did I love him because he was my cousin, I also like him.

I think our view on Jesus can sometimes be this:

We love Him because of who He is, but we don’t necessarily have a relationship with Him. Much like some of our family, we love Him because we have to.

We love Him, but we don’t quite like Him.

It wasn’t until I spent time with Colton that I realized I liked him.

It wasn’t until I talked to Colton that I realized I liked him.

It wasn’t until I began to know who Colton was that I realized I liked him.

It wasn’t until I made an effort to build a relationship with Colton that I realized I liked him

So, I repeat the original question: “I know you love Jesus, but do you like Him?”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Following the Leader

I’ve been employed full-time at Fresno City College for the last five years, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of two different leadership programs. Prior to being employed, I was a student and was active in the Associated Student Government where I also received leadership training—all of it valuable.
As I was getting close to completing my latest program, I became more aware of the growing market for leadership training. There are now probably about a bajillion different leadership books out there. The more I paid attention to this fact, the more I began to come to the realization that not everyone can be a leader. Some people have to be followers because a leader without followers is basically a one-man wolf pack.

I’ve come up with some characteristics of followers and what I think would make someone a good follower. I suppose someone could argue that being a good follower is like being a leader—a leader of followers. Wouldn’t that then make the next best follower a leader and so on and so on? It defeats the point of this post and since I’m already writing it, we’ll continue.

Now, I will add a disclaimer that most of these will be more applicable to a business or other team-oriented setting, but I’m sure they can apply to other areas where there would be leaders and followers.


The Yes-Man
Quite possibly the most popular type of follower. A Yes-Man will tell his leader exactly what they want to hear and agree with them on anything no matter the situation.

The Anchor
This person is pretty much dead weight. They don’t do their share for the team and keep the team from moving ahead. It usually has something to do with their passive-aggressive nature and perhaps a negative attitude towards the leader. Picture a toddler having a fit who just drops to the floor and his mother has to drag him out of a store.

The Slave
The Slave will work themselves ragged often to the detriment of their own health and personal life. They feel obligated to do it.
The Martyr
They work long hours and make sure everyone else knows how much they do and what they’ve had to sacrifice because of it.

The Idolater
The Idolater puts their leader on a pedestal and sees no wrong in them. They scold anyone who speaks negatively about, or disagrees with, their leader. They basically worship their leader and the ground on which he or she walks.

The Toddler
Like a small child The Toddler questions everything—what the leader says, what they do, and tasks given to them.

The Lane-Changer
Always to get ahead of others, The Lane-Changer will do whatever it takes to get the front of the pack.

The Scene-Stealer
This person loves to take credit for everything. They want to be center stage, but won’t admit it.

The Howdy Doody
A talking puppet. They are controlled and manipulated by the leader into doing whatever the leader wants.

The Incomplete Donkey [think about it]
They cut corners and look for easier ways to do things. Their quality of work is poor and it shows.

The Harvey Dent
This person will be behind the leader a hundred percent when the leader is in the room, but then takes no time voicing their opinion to their teammates, often causing dissention.

The Siamese Twin
They never leave the leader’s side. Can also be called The Kiss-Ass.

I’m sure this list can go on and on. Keep in mind that people can be combinations of these, so they might not fit into just one category.

What might make a good follower? Here are some key qualities I think a good follower should possess:

They see the bigger picture of the team
They recognize that there is a common goal and they embrace their part in achieving it.

They contribute constructive ideas
They brainstorm and offer up well thought out ideas in order to help meet the goal.

They save their complaints for private
They don’t air their grievances in front of the whole team. Ideally, they can share their concerns with the leader one on one.

They don’t take it personal
If one of their ideas gets shot down, or their assignment is given to someone else, they realize that it’s best for the team.

They support the decision or outcome regardless of their opinion
If they don’t agree with the final decision, they don’t go around bad-mouthing the leader or the team and telling people how wrong the final product was.

They give their best effort
Half-assed isn’t even in their vocabulary.

They are okay with not getting credit
If their name isn’t on the final product, or they don’t a personal thank you note from the corporate office, they can live with it.

They aren’t locked into a “job description”
They will do what it takes to help the team meet their goal even if it means doing something a little different than what they’re used to.

I’m sure we’ll never see a whole section of books at Barnes and Noble for Follower Development, but that doesn’t mean being a good follower isn’t important.

Now, get back to work. I need those TPS reports on my desk by 8.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Smorgyboard Saturday--What's Good for the Goose

After having a discussion this morning with Ryan and Colton about David Sedaris, I decided this edition of Smorgyboard Saturday (which got an early start thanks to Brina) would be a story I wrote which is a total rip-off of his book Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.

The book came out in October of 2010 and I pre-ordered for my friend Nate's birthday.
I wrote the first half of this story and gave it to him to hold him over until he got his copy.

**I would probably rate this PG-13 for language and violence.**


The Panda Bear slammed down his gavel and shouted, “Order in the court! Order in the court!” as he tried to quiet the cacophony that had broken out in his courtroom. The Goose sat sobbing, covering her face with her wings. Her lawyer, a fox with an unnaturally jet-black pompadour tried to comfort her.  Meanwhile, the Gander hugged and high-fived his friends and supporters at the opposite table.

“Order in the court!” the Panda demanded. “I will read the rest of my decision, and if I hear so much as a squeak out of anyone else, I’ll hold everyone here in contempt.” The Porcupine stood at attention ready to escort any troublemakers out of the courtroom.

The Panda cleared his throat and continued, “Furthermore, I hereby award sole custody of all seven goslings to the Gander.” The words had barely left his mouth when the whole uproar began again. Boos and jeers erupted from the Goose’s side of the audience while the cheers and celebration continued from the Gander’s.

The whole situation started several months earlier on a cold Friday night. The Gander had been out with his friends, the Chimp and the Bloodhound, at a local bar celebrating the Chimp’s promotion at the factory. They had been friends since grade school and remained close ever since. All three of them had taken jobs at the wig factory and had each worked their way up from the assembly line—the Chimp to product development, the Bloodhound to human resources, and the Gander to sales. On this particular day, the Chimp had become the new Associate Vice President of Development which came with a modest raise, more vacation time, and use of the company car.

“Man! That’s pretty freakin’ sweet,” the Bloodhound said. “Congratulations, pal.” He raised his glass of ginger ale and toasted the Chimp. The Gander signaled to the Mouse that they were ready for another round of shots. “Hey baby! Set us up again,” he shouted.

“I don’t know,” the Chimp said, “I might be just about topped off.”

“Pssh! We’re celebrating! Don’t be a sissy like this queer,” the Gander said as he gestured towards the Bloodhound.

“If it’s queer to be clean and sober, then so be it,” the Bloodhound responded. “You know darn good and well I’ve been delivered from the addiction to alcohol.”

“Oh shit,” the Gander sighed, “Here we go again.”

“What? I think it’s a story worth sharing.”

“Yeah, but we’ve heard it a thousand times. Give it a rest, Jesus-freak.”

“Hey, hey, hey. Do we have to go through this every time?” the Chimp asked.

“Tell that to Billy Graham over here,” the Gander retorted. “I’m surprised his Bible isn’t flat as a pancake from all that thumping.”

“I’m sorry that I want to share the message of salvation with the unsaved,” the Bloodhound responded.

“Bah!” The Gander waved his wing in the Bloodhound’s face.

The Chimp stretched and said, “Well, fellas, it’s been fun, but I gotta get home. The misses is gonna wanna celebrate too.” He patted his friends on the shoulder, hopped on the table, and swung to the door on the ceiling fans.

“I guess I’d better head out too,” the Bloodhound said through a yawn. “See ya around?”

“See ya around, Mother Teresa,” the Gander said. The Bloodhound laughed slightly and went to hug his friend. “Bup, bup, bup…back off homo,” the Gander said as he kept the Bloodhound at wing’s length. The Bloodhound laughed again, patted the Gander’s shoulder, and sniffed the floor on his way to the exit.

The Gander sat back down and pulled out his cell phone. As he checked to see if his wife had called, the Mouse approached the table. She struggled to carry two shot glasses filled with vodka. “Here ya go, hon,” she said as she stood on her tiptoes to put them on the table. “Did your friends take off?”

“Yeah,” the Gander responded. “One had to go schtup his cow of a wife and the other probably has to be in by curfew at the monastery.” The Mouse giggled, “Oh, you’re terrible.”

“You have no idea,” the Gander said. “Hey. You wanna have this other shot with me?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m still on the clock.”

“It’s only one shot. Come on. Live a little”

Several hours later, the Toad came over to let them know it was closing time. The Gander laughed as he staggered to his webbed feet, knocking over several shot glasses in the process. The Mouse sat with her head on the table snoring loudly with her almost-empty shot glass in front of her. “Hey. Hey. Wake up. Let’s get outta here,” the Gander said as he nudged her in the side with the tip of his wing.  He picked her up and carried her out the door to his champagne-colored Camry.  He set her on the front seat, fastened her seat belt, and got in the opposite side and started the car.

They drove in silence down the empty street as the Mouse drifted in and out of consciousness. The Gander pulled into the parking lot of the Briar Inn. He jumped out of the car and opened the Mouse’s door. “Where are we?” she slurred. “At a motel,” he replied. “Oh,” she nodded pretending like she had any idea what he had just said.

They both stumbled into the main lobby and were met at the counter by a sloth with pigtails. “Well, hello,” she said. “Welcome. What can I do for you folks?”

“One room, please,” the Gander said anxiously.

“Ok, one second. Let’s see what we can do for ya.” The Sloth slowly tapped the keyboard and sighed. “I’m afraid the only thing we have is our economy suite. It doesn’t have a lot of frills, but I can throw in free breakfast if you’d like.”

“We’ll take it,” the Gander said as he pulled his credit card out. “Do you take Diner’s?”

“Of course we do. Let me get this processed for you,” she said as she took his credit card and driver’s license. After a few minutes and a few signatures, she handed the Gander a key to room 922, and the he practically dragged the Mouse behind him as he bounded down the hallway.

Meanwhile, at the small pink house on Chestnut Lane, the Goose paced back and forth in her faded green bathrobe. She had tried watching TV to calm her nerves, but the only things on at this hour were syndicated talk shows, reruns of Perfect Strangers, and soft porn. Although she was fond of two out of three of these, she found herself unable to focus enough to enjoy the programs. She tried reading the latest crime novel with a letter in the title (R for Regicide or something like that), but again, her mind was moving too quickly to comprehend it. The Goose’s thinking was such that she would come up with a scenario in her mind and then almost immediately, one even more horrific than the last.

She pictured her husband being mugged, shot, and left for dead. Then she pictured him lying several yards away from a smashed up car, blood oozing out of his body. Then she pictured him hanging by his feet in the window of a Chinese market between a row of skinless rabbits and what appeared to be a row of terriers—and she smiled.

She fought the urge to call her lover, the Turtle, to see if the job had been successfully carried out. Their agreement was that he would call her cell phone and say simply, “Yep.” They had gone over specific details just the previous day. The Turtle was to follow the Gander from work to the bar where he met with his friends and while he was inside, the Turtle was to nearly sever the brake line of the Camry.

However, at the time the Gander was leaving work, the Turtle was in his living room rocking back and forth trying to get on his feet again. Why he chose to nap on the floor that day of all days was beyond anyone.

The Goose had been looking for a way out of her marriage for quite some time. Divorce wasn’t really an option given the looks of judgment and downright alienation she would inevitably receive from the members of their small community. She was all about image and rationalized that she’d get more sympathy if she were widowed. She had been unhappy from the very start. She only agreed to marry the Gander out of an unfortunate mixture of pity, obligation, and selfishness. They had been together since high school and dated on and off in college. While the Gander wasn’t particularly handsome or charming, he was, in the Goose’s opinion, a masterful lover. She had had her share of flings and trysts throughout her life, yet she was unable to find someone who could satisfy her like he could—hence the seven goslings that were fast asleep in their pen.

After nearly two hours had passed since the estimated time the Turtle was to call, she gave in. She picked up her cell phone and stepped out onto the front porch. She called the Turtle’s cell, but it went to voicemail three times in a row. She tried his house number which she usually avoided, but there was no answer there either. Her mind began to think of more horrific scenes: both her husband and lover dead in the street, or her husband standing over the Turtle, yanking the top part of his shell off and carelessly throwing it aside. Her mind showed her the worst possible thing imaginable: her husband and lover sharing a laugh while drinking beer and watching baseball at Chili’s. This thought chilled her to the bone. She went inside the house, locked the door to the goslings’ pen, threw on some black sweats, hopped into the family minivan and hit the road to find out exactly what the hell had happened.

No more than twenty minutes after their mother left, the goslings began to stir. The eldest, a female with a nasty overbite, was the first to wake. She had to pee and tried the door the pen, but found it was locked. She thought maybe there was something wrong with the door, so she woke one of her brothers. He had a particular knack for fixing things. Not long ago, within the span of a weekend, he had managed to fix three broken sprinkler heads, a clogged shower drain, and his father’s computer which had caught some sort of virus. He jiggled the handle and inspected all around the doorframe. As he did this, each of his siblings began to get out of bed one by one. After about an hour all seven were convinced that their parents were either dead or had abandoned them. They began to cry. The sound of a gaggle of goslings crying their poor little eyes out made a racket not too dissimilar from a metal garbage can full of nuts and bolts being rolled down an endless flight of stairs.

After hearing the noise, the neighbors had begun to gather outside the house. The parrots from next door, the bears from down the block, and several others all tried to force their way into the house. Eventually, one half of the gay tomcat couple from across the street had managed to find a window open just enough for him to squeeze through. Once he had entered the house, he unlocked the pen door and was virtually trampled by the goslings as they spilled out into the yard. They were herded and comforted by the female neighbors while the males all searched the house hoping not to make a grisly discovery. Once the goslings had been comforted and taken safely into the neighbors’ houses to be fed and allowed to rest, the gossiping began.

“Well, I bet they just couldn’t take it anymore and left,” said a squirrel in his boxer shorts.

“I mean, who does that? Who leaves seven little things home alone like that?” asked a beaver with bright pink curlers in her hair.

“They’re probably at some sex orgy,” a garter snake guessed. The others neither agreed nor protested his claim.

The Goose drove the minivan past the wig factory and saw nothing. She drove past the bar where the Gander and his friends had been earlier in the evening. There were only a few cars in the parking lot and none of them were the Gander’s Camry. After circling around the surrounding blocks for a while she headed for the Turtle’s house. There in the driveway she saw the Turtle’s car and was beyond livid. She brought the minivan to a screeching halt and jumped out without even turning it off. She ran to the door and banged on it like a madwoman. There was no answer.

She began to go around the perimeter of the house looking for a way in. When she passed a window where she could clearly see the Turtle on his back trying to get up, that’s when she really lost it. She grabbed a garden gnome from the flowerbed and hurled it through the window missing the Turtle’s head by mere centimeters. She flapped in through the window amid a flurry of feathers and unintelligible swear words. She was talking so fast it sounded like she might have been calling play by play action at a soccer game in Hebrew. She turned the Turtle right side up with her foot and promptly kicked him across the room.

“Youdumbsonofabitch!” she shouted. “Whatthehellareyoustilldoinghere?!” Her words all ran together as if she only had a certain amount of time to get them out. The Turtle tried to explain himself, but it was fruitless. She hovered over him like the grim reaper. She grabbed the garden gnome and despite the Turtle’s protests, she brought it down on his head—over and over again until there was nothing there but a gooey pile of blood and flesh. She may as well have put his head into the blender.

She sat on the sofa to try to figure out what to do next. The Turtle’s laptop sat on the coffee table opened to a losing game of spider solitaire. She called up the internet and began to log-in to various credit card accounts. When she logged-in to the Diner’s website and saw a pending charge at the Briar Inn an evil smirk came to her face that looked like a cross between the Devil and the Cheshire Cat.

Instead of going out the broken window through which she had flown in, she casually strolled out the front door to her waiting minivan. She got in and headed in the direction of the Inn. It was at this exact moment that the Gander got a weird feeling.

The Mouse was lying on the bed fast asleep with a sheet half-covering her small body. The Gander was pacing around the room in his underwear trying to justify what he had done. Just as he sat on the bed and was about to dial his home number, there was a knock at the door.

The Gander knew instinctively who it was and he was scared shitless. The knocking grew louder and more persistent. As the Gander attempted to peer through the window, a bloody garden gnome came crashing through and caught him right in the beak. As he staggered to his feet he unlocked the door and was knocked aside as his wife stormed in like a Nazi.

“Do you mind telling me exactly what you think you’re doing here?” she asked eerily calm.

“Uh…um…it was um…,” the Gander stammered.

“Who is she?” the Goose demanded. “Where’s the little hussy? Is it that swan from work? Is that big, fat, BLACK swan?”

“No, not her. Honey, listen. I’m sorry. You know I love you,” he tried to explain.

“How dare you,” she said sternly. “How dare you defile our union like this!”

The Gander was hanging his head in shame when he perked up. “Hey! What about you and that turtle?” he asked.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the Goose said sounding highly insulted.

“Yeah. You think I’m clueless? I know what’s been going on there.”

“Well, whatever you think you knew about is over now. There’s no turtle in the picture anymore,” she explained. As she was inching closer to the Gander with a crazed look in her eye, she saw a small flash of gray headed towards her. The Mouse latched herself onto the Goose’s face and began to claw at her eyes.

“What the…?!” she yelled. “Get this piece of trash off of me!”

The Gander pried the Mouse off of his wife’s face and held her at bay. As they all stood sizing each other up like a Mexican standoff, the Mouse began to cry. This didn’t diffuse the situation so much as it made it awkward. The Goose had an open opportunity to take the home-wrecker out, but didn’t feel right beating the lights out of someone who was already crying.

By this time, flashing red lights had begun to fill the room. The herd of sheep that acted as the town’s police force stormed in and placed all three in handcuffs. After questioning each of them, the Mouse was cleared and released. The Goose and Gander however were both taken in for further questioning.

By the next morning, word had spread like wildfire about what had happened. The town became divided. You were either on the Goose’s side as the poor, neglected housewife whose husband had cheated on her, or you were for the Gander whose wife was downright cra-zy and an irresponsible parent as well. The Gander was released late the next morning and returned home to try to explain the whole situation to the goslings who were as divided as the town.

The Goose, however, was booked and placed into custody for her various crimes: child endangerment, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and murder. The Gander filed for divorce almost immediately. Both the Goose’s criminal trial and the couple’s divorce trial became absolute circuses. Daytime television was dedicated to airing every aspect of the proceedings and the nightly news was inundated with the highlights.

The Goose was eventually sentenced to 25 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 15. The divorce settlement was exceedingly one-sided. The Panda awarded all assets including the house and two cars to the Gander.

After all the trials had ended, life went back to normal for everyone in town—except the Mouse. She was labeled as a whore and a hussy. She couldn’t go anywhere without being stared at or talked about. It began to take its toll on her. She had to quit her job at the bar and move to a neighboring town where hopefully nobody would recognize her. She had taken to calling herself a rat in hopes it might help the situation, but she was too small for it to be realistic.

After several months had passed, she made contact with the Gander and asked if they could meet. He agreed and they met at a small coffee shop in her new town. The time that had passed had not been kind to her. She had gained several ounces and really just let herself go to hell. They had lunch and talked for a while. The Gander apologized for dragging her into the whole mess. She accepted his apology. As their meeting came to an end, they agreed to keep in touch. They hugged awkwardly and as they did, the Mouse plunged a steak knife into the Gander’s back. As she watched the life leave his body, she pushed him to the floor and walked away with poise.

The Pig tapped his nightstick on the bars of the Goose’s cell. “Visitor,” he said. “It’s some rat.”