Walking Cleveland: Ohio City & Detroit Shoreway

This one started out around the corner from BEET JAR on the corner of W 29th and Church. I hoofed it along Detroit Rd just east of the Cargill salt spread on the coast and took a glance at a nearly former Cleveland ruin.

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I have no idea what this pace is or was or what it’s about to become but it did have this cool mirrored tile on the front.

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A few more streets dropped behind my fucked up shoes before I took off over the Detroit-Superior bridge. I’m guessing it was at least half-a-mile over the thing, maybe more, and I got a few photos before I felt nauseous. The sun beat from well overhead of me, and my slick Caucasian skin took the pounding like a woman desperately trying to impress a well-hung man. By the time I made it all the way over the bridge I thought I might keel over, so instead of going with my original plan of haunting The Flats, I turned back for Ohio City.

Yeah, it was a wuss move. With my anxiety and heart problems I’ve been a wuss lately.

Halfway back I started feeling more nauseous. I didn’t know if I should hate myself for wussing out or love myself for being vaguely aware of my bodily needs. Of course, I immediately worried that I was about to have a stroke or a heart attack. I slugged a little bit of water and about thirty seconds later burped up a mouthful of puke, which I gargled and swallowed like the best prostitute in Cleveland.

Jesus, I mumbled. I’m in bad motherfucking shape. Either that, or I’m about to pull a Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler and collapse with a fucked up ticker.

I hadn’t exercised in a while, like all summer, unless you consider lifting mugs of beer to within reach of my mouth exercise. If you do, I exercised this summer like a boss, and bulked up with about twenty extra pounds of beer fat. As I trudged forward in the sun, I got more nauseous by the step and I kept saying to myself I really want a beer right now. I really want a beer.

Other than my impending death, beer was all I could think of.

And puke burps in my mouth.

I think I might be an alcoholic. A functional one, but still, an alcoholic.

By the time I made it back over the bridge I’d had to swallow four puke burps.

Maybe that bar I parked near will be open, I wondered.

I went back down into Ohio City waiting to have some sort of meditative epiphany but my lurid paranoia of failing or collapsing in cardiac arrest kept the prominent portion of my brain occupied.

I turned down W 26th, three blocks before that bar, just so I wouldn’t tempt myself, even though I really wanted a beer, where I ran into St John’s Episcopal Church. According to a plaque on its facade somewhere, St John’s is the oldest church in Cuyahoga County.

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After standing in front of St John’s for a while obsessing over whether or not I was about to puke, I moved down the road where I found The Rex Body Company. No, they don’t pimp out hoes. They do automotive body repair. I’d live in this building if I could.

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I also saw The Goodyear Blimp.

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A lot of the neighborhood is being reworked into condos and trendy domestic setups for nebulous yuppies that prefer the urban hoods to suburbia. There is a lot of construction. A lot. The little area I explored, that is, when I could pay attention, had half-a-dozen construction sites, at least, within a few blocks. This is great for Cleveland. My hometown has been on the rise for a few years, and with the Cavs and everything, the city, we, are coming back.

Sometimes I feel synonymous with Cleveland. The ennui the city felt in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s was the ennui I ingested as a kid. The Browns’ failures and the Indians’ close calls all taught me a valuable lesson: losing is what you will experience in life. I learned that lesson hard. All those early defeats for the city intermingled with the losing hockey team I played on (we were lucky to win one or two games out of thirty). My arguments with my parents, even when I won, were slammed down for the count, trumped as always by parental authority. Losing has been a way of life for me. Either experiences play a pivotal role in how we think and see ourselves in relation to the world or I’m just a loser and a coward and wrong about everything, just like my dad said. As much as I want to see myself get over my depression and anxiety issues, I want to see Cleveland rise from its own ashes. Mistake on the lake to World Champions. Cleveland and I are together in this. We are fighting the same demon.
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After a short trek down the Detroit Shoreway I circled back to my car. An unknown future awaits me, a future that might project into many extremes, but I, at least, can be like Cleveland and pick a direction.
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GRATUITOUS PHOTOS
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Photo Shoot Gone Incredibly Right

I just got finished with photographic master Derian Simplenuts and here I am sharing the proofs.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you, and once again thank you to Derian for coming up with the whole generic blue blocker concept. You really made me look like a studdly blind man. That’s a trending look, folks.

FLASH ETUDE #3

Tragedy of all tragedies this morning. . . Microsoft Excel’s response time had climbed to ten minutes per query.

For Mike, this was bad news. He had several queries to perform and he hated slow moving PC applications.

By his second query he smacked his keyboard. He kept smacking the keyboard harder and harder until Kim showed up with a smile and glassy eyes.

“Whoa there, stud,” she hummed. “Save a keyboard and ride a cowgirl.”

Well known in the office was Kim’s love of all things country.

Mike replied, “You know I’m a little bit rock and roll.”

“Yeah I know, but you can’t blame a girl for trying. What seems to be the problem there, partner?” Kim asked. “You seem worked up. Banging that keyboard isn’t going to help. You’d be better off banging a co-worker.”

“Don’t tell me you don’t know,” Mike said.

“I could name a few problems there, Buckaroo,” sang Kim. “Why don’t you tell me which one is really bothering you, then you can thank me later?”

“Excel is slow again,” Mike said. “Make a call to IT?”

Kim whipped out her cell phone. She sweet talked the IT guy to clean the cache again. Then she hung up.

“Try it now, partner.”

Mike did. Miraculously Excel completed the query in mere seconds.

“Thanks, Kim,” Mike said.

“Don’t worry, you can thank me later.”

Mike found himself confronted with an opportunity to bang a cow. A sentiment to Which Mike responded with a silent fart.

Crisis averted.

The Corner Pub

The streetlights buzzed as Johnny Q stumbled through a conical shaft of illumination.

At this point his balance was more luck than skill, yet he managed to penetrate the double doors that shrouded the holy tabernacle of alcohol pursuance — The Corner Pub. The Corner Pub was known in Lakwewood as “Skid Row Paradise” minus the paradise. One look in the bathroom permitted one an ample view of skidmarks but the paradise seemed in short supply. The usual clientele consisted of a baker’s dozen alcoholic retirees, all of whom wanted to pick up women like they were still in high school.

There were a lot of missing teeth.

At 37 with only a single root canal slash crown on his dental CV, Johnny Q was the most orally advanced man in the bar, and consequently the most valuable.

Such contextual value oftentimes boosts the confidence of a man, and this was the case with Johnny. Standing there he felt virile, like he could have any woman in the place. Considering that two of the fifteen souls inside The Corner Pub sported vaginas and both those dick gobblers were flirting with “the best used by date”, there wasn’t much sense in taking a risk. But given the newest laws passed to protect females, the mere thought of an unwanted approach could get a man 3-5 years in Mansfield.

And we all know who the arbiters of want are.

Johnny wandered in, taking some eyeballs from competitors, men with twenty extra years on their bones and a deficit of twenty teeth to Johnny’s set of near capacity chompers. He sat at the bar, and this was when, through the suitably hazy alcoholic stupor he’d tied on earlier, Johnny Q saw the most beautiful woman he had ever saw. Six feet of Amazonian muscle formerly hidden from his male gaze by an enormous bartender. Wearing only a pair of stripped boots, bikini bottoms, and a tiara, she made Grace Jones look like a Playboy Bunny.

The way she looked, Johnny salivated, a three year stint in the pen was worth the chance.

Johnny got up and positioned himself at the most seductivest and musculatured flanks Johnny had ever seen. The Amazonian welcomed Johnny with a turn of the head. She was a hard one. She had learned this move from Clover, the shrewiest Amish broad in Berlin, Ohio. But that’s another story. With a reception as chilly as this, pressing forward with the approach would be a serious risk to say anything, but Johnny wanted those massive breasts enough to ask this woman if it was just him or if it was hot inside the confines of the corner pub.

This was the wrong thing to say.

The sound of his voice prompted the Amazonian hottie to explode in a fit of rage.

With respect to feminism, of the third wave variety, that is, the Amazonian hottie exploded with a fit of rage. She dumped her drink over Johnny’s head, then smacked a Stroh’s bottle across his cheek. She then screamed like a demonic minion, and finally concluded with a fit of tears and a declaration of powerlessness due to her female genitalia. It was a performance filled with such extremes, Johnny was afraid to move. He had drastically underestimated her identification level with the damsel in distress.

“You said some of my trigger words,” the Amazonian whimpered as she piteously bawled into her oversized palms.

He had no choice now but to promptly apologize. How was he to know he’d triggered her? He had never spoken to this woman before. How would he know what her triggers were? “I’m really very sorry,” he ventured carefully, hoping to evade any other emotional hot points hidden inside her psyche.

“You should be careful!” cried the Amazonian. “You can’t just go around saying things to women you don’t know. It’s abusive!”

“I’m really sorry,” Johnny said. “I didn’t mean to trigger you. Really, I didn’t.” He had thought about fleeing but worried the woman might be triggered again.

“Well, you did,” the Amazonian barked. “You triggered me good and hard!” and this was when she dialed 9-1-1.

#

It was no longer 2016. Back then, women had decency and morals. Now women dressed in high heeled boots, g-strings, and that’s about all.

Minimalism and Zelda Belt Buckles

So, Peeps, who’s checked out all those minimalist travelers out there?

Raise your hand.

No, wait, I can’t see you. Instead of raising your hand, comment. Yeah, that’s the thing to do on a blog. Comment.

Feel free.

I’ve been perusing the blogs of several long-term travelers who promote minimalist travel. Most of these folks advocate bringing no more with you that can fit into a single carry-on bag.

I dig that shit.

I mean, I really dig that shit.

I’m a closet Thoreau myself. Well, out of the closet. Wait. Out of the closet but not currently engaged in the lifestyle. Out of the closet but not currently living an authentic life. Yeah, something like that.

But whatever.

See what I’m saying? Because I’m not sure I do.

Jesus.

Okay. What I mean is, come on, people, we’re human beings! What’s with shacking ourselves to -ism after -ism? What is this, the 20th Cen or something?

When you submit to an -ism often what follows is the subordination of individuality, a reduction of personal potential. Yes, the opposite is often just as true, but GD, we’re not going to talk about that right now. I’m not sure I want to give up my kinky fashion style just so I can call myself a more minimal minimalist. Personally, I don’t want to ditch my Zelda gold crest belt buckle just so I can tell fellow wanderers that my load weighs less than 5kg.

And, just so I’m up front, I don’t know a damned thing about Zelda. I’m a poser. I just like the way that belt buckle looks. Blingity bling bling.

So, in my one carry-on bag I need room for assorted flash and bling.

Zelda Belt buckles.

If that makes my pack a little heavier, then I just have to get bigger back muscles, baby.

Peace.

Be wild.

Live free.

Nathan Hale Park — Parma, OH

During breaks between my globetrotting adventures I make time to visit interesting places in my hometown of Cleveland, OH.

Today’s awesome adventure comes in the form of Nathan Hale Park in Parma, a huge suburb on the south side of Cleveland.

Just a little history. I used to live a few streets over. That’s how I knew about this little gem-like oasis of nature smack in the middle of suburban blight. History lesson finished.

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Jesus, what am I thinking? Getting ahead of myself. Before I tell you what happened, I simply must detail out what I brought. You know, my kit. It’s minimal, since I’m a minimal kind of guy. And no travel story is complete without a bit of gear porn.

1) Myself.

2) Surly Long Haul Trucker.

3) Nikon DSLR.

4) Two pens, but I forgot a notebook.

5) Smart phone.

That’s it! 🙂 My morning ultra-trekking kit. It’s all I need on a hiking day trip.

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Nathan Hale Park is off behind Cuyahoga Community College. Back when I lived in the neighborhood I used to go back there to escape the pressures of normal daily suburban crap.

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I’ve been going through a dollop of crap recently. Money problems, relationship problems, personal problems. I was in the troth, those low points between the peaks where you’ve lost the power and authority to call your own shots. All that tsunami of stress built to a storm. I went back to the woods, one of the few places I feel comfortable to contemplate my next move.

When you feel insufficient and incapable or when you’re best isn’t good enough for the people around you, you need a retreat.

I end up in nature.

As I plunged into the forest, well, the undeveloped tract of trees behind CCC, I felt as if I were returning home in some way.

Give praise to the Great Spirit
I am
One with the light
One with the dark
One with the righteous
One with the wrong
One with health
One with disease
One with the dead leaf
One with the living tree
One with the pulsing quivering body
One with the corpse
One with the divine
One with the wretched
One with the infinite
One with the infinitesimal

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As I walk, as my eyes fondle the shaft of light touching trees, as I come to stand in the stellar warmth, I am filled with the sense that this is all there is. Just this moment, this forest around me where the squirrels scamper and crickets chirp, and I see the pretenses we live under. The jealous God is a false God. The creator serves the creation until the creation can itself fly. Whose wings are strengthening is the current winds?

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I am thankful for this moment. Out of all possible moments this is the moment I’ve been given. Those are some pretty leaves.

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The Biggest Slut in Ratville

IN THE TRADITION OF THE BERENSTAIN BEARS COME AMERICA’S

MOST BELOVED FAMILY OF RATS WITH LESSONS THE WHOLE FAMILY CAN LOVE 🙂

 

It was a beautiful sunny day in Ratville. All the delightful sounds of spring filled the air. Robins chirped in the branches of sycamore trees. Bluejays chortled at passing finches, which whistled delightfully, and butterflies fluttered on the warming air currents all over Rat Valley.

It was also the time of year Ratville High produced an immense theater experience. This year it was going to be Fleas & Ticks—one of Sissy Rat’s all-time favorites.

Sissy Rat wanted to play the lead role of Esmeralda more than anything else, so she practiced for weeks getting the lyrics memorized and the tunes in shape, even though her singing gave her brother an assache!

Sissy knew she would be great in the lead role of Esmeralda. Esmeralda was the kindest rat in the whole world.

So was Sissy!

Oftentimes, she brought Mama breakfast in bed, usually a single unpeeled banana. That’s how kind Sissy Rat was!

But Esmeralda was also the hottest rat in the whole world. And Sissy. . . she wasn’t. Sissy was. . . well, ‘lumpen’ would be a good word. Or, another, simply, might be. . . ‘ugly’.

A lot of the rat girls in her school even made fun of her and her ugly protruding hot pink nipples.

Sissy Rat’s nipples projected from the bed of coarse rat hair on her belly, sometimes stiffly, sometimes flaccidly, and always ugly-ly.

Sissy’s biggest rival, Tammy Fay, was beautiful like Esmeralda, and she didn’t have the nipple problems Sissy did. Tammy Fay had cute ears, eight bulging breasts topped with with delectable pale pink nipples, and sharp, elegant claws. What wasn’t to <3!

Everyone was saying Tammy Fay would be perfect to play Esmeralda because they were both so beautiful. Nary a person mentioned how vastly different were Esmeralda and Tammy Fay’s personalities. Everyone was saying Tammy Fay was so beautiful. Everyone was agreeing with everyone else on the topic of Tammy Fat’s beauty. No one listened to Sissy’s argument.

Or said a word about her.

If Tammy Fay gets the part over me, Sissy told herself, I’ll. . . I’ll. . . I’ll do something drastic!

One evening when Sissy had gotten particularly worked up over the injustices of high school politics, her father, Papa Rat, attempted to make her feel better.

“If you think you’re going to get somewhere just because you work hard, dream on,” Papa told her while he sat beside the hearth reading from his newspaper. “Fat chance, is what I say. The world moves on sex and money. Not talent.”

“What should I do?” Sissy Rat asked.

Before Papa could continue, Mama Rat appeared from the kitchen, having overheard Papa’s guidance. “You know what the good lord says—ask and you shall receive,” Mama Rat said to Sissy.

“Does it really work like that?” Sissy Rat asked giddily.

“No!” Papa said.

“Everything I ever asked the lord, he provided,” Mama Rat patiently told Sissy. “I’d always wanted a husband, a nice place to live, and a family—and, thanks to the Lord’s generosity, I got exactly what I wanted.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” said Papa, “quit filling that child’s head with bullshit! Everyone has that. That’s just normal. Come here, Sissy. I’ll tell you how the world really works.”

Papa Rat proceeded to explain, “You’re old enough to hear the truth. . . No matter how good you are, no matter how hard you try, the rat with the prettiest face and the most money always wins. Think I’m lying? Take a look at Ratville. Do you see one poor or ugly rat in a position of authority? No. Our whole society is set up to help pretty rats with money beat down rats with real talent. I go through this every day. No matter how hard I try, I will never go as far as that little ASSWIPE—”

“Your boss?” Sissy asked for reasons of clarification.

“Yeah,” Papa said, “my ‘boss’. And it’s all because his daddy has money. The world is not all sunshine and rainbows, the way your mother thinks it is. You just remember that, kiddo.”

Sissy didn’t know who to listen to. Sometimes, life is just so confusing, she thought.

A couple days later, the theater doors opened for auditions. Sissy Rat sang her heart raw. She’d never sang better, or put so much effort as she did for the part of Esmeralda!

She belted out lyrics like “You make me feel so good when you suck on my nipples” and “I got a feverrrrrrr, an infectious feverrrrrr”!

But when she finished breathlessly, she couldn’t tell how well she had done. Jacques Rat, the director, was so professional there in the stands capped with a black beret.

“Next!” was all he said.

But Sissy knew she’d done better than Tammy Fay. Tammy Fay had just stood up on stage, forgot the lyrics, and giggled.

When Sissy got home, everyone wanted to know how she’d done.

“Did you stink up the stage?” Brother asked. “You stunk, didn’t you?”

“Did you kiss the director’s ass like I told you?” Papa asked. “That’s how you move up in the real world.”

“I’m sure you did fine,” Mama said finally. “I’m proud of you for trying so hard.”

“I think I did pretty good,” Sissy admitted, but she didn’t dare let her true feelings show. “I figure if I’m the best, the director will pick me.”

Papa lowered his head. “Then you’re fucked.”

Later, at bedtime, Sissy’s confidence rattled a little. She told Mama she was nervous about getting the part. “I sang better than Tammy Fay,” Sissy said. “She even forgot the words, but she’s so beautiful. Everybody likes looking at her, even if she can’t act. Do I even stand a chance?”

“Of course, you do,” Mama said.

“Do you think Papa’s right?”

“Your father is an old curmudgeon. As long as you did your best, I am sure you will get the part.”

Unbeknownst to the two female members of the Rat family, Papa Rat had taken up residence at Sissy’s bedroom door, listening to what he considered superstitious blather.

“Don’t get your hopes up,” he said. “That’s my advice. I’m not trying to be harsh, but this world is one big disappointment. It doesn’t matter how good you are, it’s all about looks. I’m sorry to be the one who tells you this, but since no one else will be honest with you, if you don’t look like Tammy Fay, you don’t have a shot in this world, kiddo.”

Poor Sissy Rat slumped in her bed.

The next morning, Mama took Sissy to the little nook where the Rat family kept religious paraphernalia.

“Now,” Mama said, “you listen to me. Your father thinks the way he does because he works with a bunch of immoral heathen. But, I know what I’ve seen. If you trust in the lord, you shall prevail. I’ve seen it before. . . Miracles!”

Mama added with a searing intensity, “Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to say a prayer or two!”

Once Sissy heard this, she spent all day on her knees in front of the paraphernalia. Praying to the lord. . .

“Please, lord,” she said, “give me what I want and I promise never to have sex. . .”

She went on praying and praying and praying and swore to the Lord that if He gave her the part she’d remain an ever faithful virgin.

Friday was a perfect day in Ratville. All the delightful sounds of spring filled the air. Robins chirped in the branches of sycamore trees. Bluejays chortled at passing finches, which whistled delightfully, and butterflies fluttered on the warming air currents all over Rat Valley.

Friday was perfect, that is, until Sissy got to the front doors of Ratville High School, because Tammy Fay was waiting there for her. Once Sissy got close enough, Tammy Fay jeered her.

“You really think you have the goods to compete with this?” Tammy Fay asked, puffing up her eight bulging rat boobs.

One look at those glowing rat knockers and Siss scurried away to the bathroom. One look at her face, distorted in a rippled mirror speckled with pimple puss, and Sissy Rat wanted to barf all over the school. While Tammy Fay was beautiful, Sissy Rat was ugly. Plain. Frumpy.

Lumpen.

Instead of bargains everywhere, Sissy showed some class. She retreated to a fecal-stained stall where she produced copious amounts of briny eye dribblings into the padded palms of her forelimbs.

But she was still up for the part of Esmeralda, and that gave her hope. Maybe, at the end of the day, the better rat would win?

At the end of the day, Jacques Rat posted the cast list. Sissy Rat barged her way through the halls until she arrived at the theater doors. And there it was, taped with a single rectangle of cheap tape in front of the theater—the cast list.

Sissy searched frantically for her name, only to see the nightmarish truth. . .

Esmeralda had been given to—

TAMMY FAY!

It wasn’t fair! She’d practiced! She’d sang better than Tammy Fay! She’d even prayed! And made a pact with the lord! Promised Him her virginity!

Still, Tammy Fay had gotten the part!

Sissy Rat cried as she slumped through the halls.

For the next few days, Sissy Rat grew more and more depressed. Neither Mama nor Papa Rat could bring her out of her mood. One night, Sissy got out of bed so upset with the world she raised her hands up to the sky and said, “I promised you if you gave me the part, I’d obey your law and never have sex! Now, since you’ve shown yourself to be fraudulent, I’m going to be the biggest slut in the history of Ratville!”

Sissy picked up the phone and called Tammy Fay’s younger brother. Even though it was three in the morning, she asked him one question: “Wanna fuck?”

THE END

Bob in Paris

A BIT OF ABSURDITY TO KICK THINGS OFF

It was black over Notre Dame—and I really didn’t give a fuck. It could of been sunny for all I cared. There could have been a tornado rolling round the streets. Or a bunch of dolphin caught in tuna nets off the coast. I really just didn’t give a fuck.

At that moment all I wanted was an orgasm. An orgasm would have made me feel better.

As I was saying, I was leaning against one of Notre Dame’s buttresses with a bad case of blue balls. This skinny little whore had her fat French lips around my cock. Torrents of saliva were flying out of her mouth, soaking the front of my trousers with dark spittle marks, and slicking down the two chest apples she’d disengaged from her halter top. She was really going to town, head bobbing, hand jerking so fast I could see three of them at once, but still not managing to finish me off. With a face glistening in ropes of her own spit, she asked if she was doing something wrong.

It was simple. If you can’t make a guy blow his wad after a minute or two you’re doing something wrong.

Finally, I couldn’t keep it up anymore so I pushed her away. I thought I’d get myself an orgasm but succeeded only in worsening the case of goddamned blue balls I’d been suffering that afternoon. I thought about curbstomping her. That is, until I got a good look at the hanging slabs of roast beef between her thighs. For a second I wanted to fuck them hanging roast beef slabs, then I just wanted a sandwich from Arby’s. I hadn’t seen an Arby’s in Paris, yet. I didn’t think they had Arby’s over here, and that made me sad. Especially if I was five thousand miles away from horsey sauce.

I reared my head back and screamed at the top of my lungs, “WHY ME?!?!?!?!” then I tossed the old slut a five franc coin and told her, “Better luck with your next Jean.”

I was walking away when she yelled “Merde! I said Euros! Not this garbage!” and launched the five-franc piece back at my face.

Dumb bitch didn’t know how to give a proper blowjob and she thinks I’m going to pay her in Euros? I should have paid her in Monopoly money.

So, what, if anything, can you learn from this episode? I’m Bob Collins. I’m an asshole. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

#

I was walking away from Notre Dame and trying to remember just how much I enjoyed fucking pigs when the French hooker began following me. Forgive me, but I’m not too keen on re-opening “a line of communication” with a hooker that has a defective cunnilingus technique.

“You owe me money,” she barked, “and if you don’t pay, I will call my manager,” like her pimp was an upstanding member of the business community.

This was France, so maybe they did have a pimp union. How would I know?

“Fine,” she said, pulling a cellphone out of her bag. “If that’s what you want, do not say I didn’t warn you.”

“You didn’t,” I said.

After scowling, she tapped the screen.

Not long after that, a guy pulled up along side me in a gray Fiat. He was Albanian. I could tell by the low forehead.

Last thing I needed to deal with was an Albanian. They were the fucking degenerates and losers of Europe, even one step below the Irish.

This particular Albanian looked like he could single-handedly destroy a small Italian village.

“Put down your fists,” he said to me in a very calm manner. “You owe money. Jasmine spends two hours on you, you pay for time and effort. You no climax, problem yours. Still pay for time.”

My position was simple. “She said she’d get me off. She didn’t deliver the goods, so she don’t get no money,” I said.

“Look,” he said, “I can see we are having difficulty understanding one another. I am reasonable man. You give me money, all is forgotten. You refuse, I kill you. Simple as that.”

I didn’t even see it, but his fist connected with some part of my face. Next thing I know, I was handcuffed in the backseat of the Albanian’s Fiat.

“I hoped it wouldn’t come to this,” the Albanian said. He looked sad at what the future was about to make him do.

#

We pulled up to some country house. Inside, he led me through corridors and corridors until we got to a set of doors that led to the cellar. The Albanian then tied me to a chair in the cellar underneath a dim light bulb.

I don’t know much about French country houses, but I do know most of them are old. Because these houses are old, no one would hear me scream.

The Albanian touched together claws on a set of jumper cables and blue sparks went shooting out.

“Where I come from,” said the Albanian, “life very rough. Sometimes, we would play futbol with head of corpse. Because of war, there no balls, but we have lots of corpse. So we find head, kick guy’s head around. Score many goals. But don’t kick too hard—might get brain on the boots. Pavol, my friend, juggle head for ten minutes, knee to knee, foot to foot. Now Pavol play professional in France. Do you understand?”

“No,” I said.

“What I say, American weak. Albanian strong. Now you understand?”

“I got an eleven-and-three-quarter-inch dick,” I explained. “American big, Albanian small. Even Steven.”

“Good luck for you, that thing. But, still, it make you debt, you must pay. Is only good.”

The Albanian touched the positive and negative clamps of a set of jumper cables together again.

“Now, I give one last chance to American, pay me money, or I attach to nipple?” the Albanian said. “When I run electricity through, nipples no feel good. Either American hurt so bad he give money, or he die. Simple. Either way, I happy.”

I didn’t say a word.

“Okay, have it your way. Like Burger King. Just so you know, I’m not so cruel I enjoy this. All you need is cooperate. I let you go. You give me money, I untie you. Is simple.”

“You know what’s really simple?” I said. “Your mom! Last night I fucked her asshole out, then I made her sniff her own shit right of my johnson!”

Where this came from, I had no idea, and in hindsight, probably wasn’t the smartest thing to say to an Albanian gangster who’s about to electrocute your nipples.

The Albanian sent a bazillion jolts of electricity through my knackered nips. All I could do was spew out curses about the Albanian’s mother until my puffy pink nipples were black and smoking.

#

“See? Is very simple. You are in a life death situation. Here, in cellar, no one can hear you. You scream for days in torture, no one come rescue you. You are at my mercy. For you, I am now God. I have power make you live, make you die. See? I make you pay. One way or other, you pay. Either money, or life. To me, I go on, not one care what I do to you. I sleep fine. So, why make enemies when be friends instead?”

There wasn’t no other way out of this. I’d scoured the room for an escape route. Nothing but the door we’d come in from.

“Fine,” I said. “I’ll pay you, but I don’t got the money on me.”

“I am shock,” the Albanian said. “Of all stupid things to do you get whore but no money. I almost think I should kill you just to make world less suffering.”

“No argument from me,” I told him.

“Instead, I just do one thing—for fun!”

The Albanian clamped the jumper cables on my balls. When he threw the switch, jolts and watts and joules of power ransacked my scrotum. So much energy went through that sag bag a geyser of semen squirted from my dong. The lion’s share got the Albanian in the eyes. He reared back, screaming that his eyes burned. That’s what you get when you take a Bob Collins load. Not just sperm, but a whole host of random and assorted microorganisms.

I managed to snap my bindings—the dumb motherfucker only secured me with a bow tie—then I walked up to the Albanian, who had assumed a kneeling position before me, and I kicked him right in the nuts.

As he rolled and flailed on the ground I told him no one fucks with Bob Collins, excepts hookers and sluts.

#

I still had some unfinished business with a certain French hooker that reminded me of Arby’s. I found her dorking some Jean against a Notre Dame buttress.

“Hey!” I yelled.

She looked over her shoulder. “You!” she said. “How did you—?”

“Leave the talking to me, toots.”

“But, Dimitri—”

“’S’gonna have a real sore sack of nuts in the morning,” I told her. “Now, it’s time you finished what you started.”

“Who are you?” the Jean said. “Get out of here. I’m busy.”

“Sorry, bro, but I don’t cater to Frenchmen,” I told him just before I kicked him in the groin. His boner went flying through the air. He ran after it, like a wide receiver going for a Hail Mary, so, just to be a good citizen, I tripped him, then kicked him in the head, knocking him out cold, an act of patriotism.

“It’s just you and me now,” I said with a level glare at the whore. “I want you to take me to Arby’s.”

“Arby’s?” she said, a pseudo-ignorant answer if I ever heard one.

“Don’t play innocent with me,” I said.

“But—but—I never heard of—RBs?”

“It’s a roast beef joint. Get it? Roast beef, RB’s, Arby’s? I could really got for a good giant right about now.”

“A good giant?”

“Enough of the innocent talk, sister, you’re coming with me!”

I dragged her off by an armpit. I was going to get a roast beef sandwich, come hell or high water.

#

We looked all over Paris. No Arby’s.

Next thing I know, Paris either had a blackout or someone had conked me on the head.

When I woke up, the Albanian was smiling at me. He had third degree burns around his eyes.

“I told you,” he said, “you pay, one way or other.”

Finally, I nodded, yeah. I’d pay. I tossed him a hundred Euros.

“More,” he said. “For eyes.”

I gave him four hundred more.

“We ever see each other again,” he growled. “Bring money, or I kill you again! Are we understanding one another now?”

“Now, I take you back to Notre Dame now,” he said.

The Albanian drove me back down to Notre Dame, where I was sleeping on a cardboard box. He was going that way, anyway, to drop off the French whore at her post.

“Okay, is settled,” the Albanian said, opening the door to his Fiat. “Is nice doing business with you,” he said as he and his hooker walked away.

I stood there all alone with only a couple charred nipples for company.

I looked at all the shit around me, all the lights and noises and sounds I hadn’t noticed before. Paris was kind of pretty when you stopped to look at her, but, like I said, I didn’t really give a fuck. It could have been sunny for all I cared. There could have been a tornado rolling round the streets. Or a bunch of dolphins caught in tuna nets off the coast. I really just didn’t give a fuck.

So, what, if anything, can you learn from this?

Bob Collins is an asshole.

And there ain’t no Arby’s in Paris.