Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Is Kids In The Hall Day

Here you go, two guys in matching suits.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Your Weekly Dose of Crazy

PSA's from the future.

Don't talk to robots, yo.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Meet The November Nine 003: Phil Ivey

Sometimes I wonder if this is even worth it.

I mean, really. So I know the November Nine personally, for the second year running, in defiance of all probability and common sense. You'd think that I'd be feted by the poker elite, celebrated by the Vegas illuminati, and given the keys to the Rio safe to be quiet. But these types know that life is cheap and hush money is not, so I'm dodging hit men, backbiters, syndicators, riff-raff, and the occasional taxidermist out to make a name for himself. It's sickening, and probably not worth the risk anymore. I'm a family man. I didn't ask for this. The only thing that keeps me going at this anymore is my rigorous pursuit of truth, and my hopes that someday I can sell my story to Hollywood for millions, if not billions. I'm hoping that I'll be played either by Edward Norton, or (if it is a cartoon) David Hasselhoff. More on this in days to come.

Anyway, this is really the one that they've been trying to keep me from telling, and I guess I'm a dead man as soon as I post this, but I just don't care. If I fold now, they win and I'll never be able to look my family in the eye again.

This is my 400th post. Let's all hope and pray for number 401.


Name: Phil Ivey

Age: 32

Occupation: Phil Ivey Impersonator

Nickname: The Tiger Woods of Phil Iveys

Poker Style: Patterned after the game of Phil Ivey

Alignment: Neutral Neutral with Bitters, Shaken

Card Capper: A single golden dragon's testicle.

Favorite Country Song: I Fell In A Pile of You and Got Love All Over Me, by Emily Dickinson

Brief Bio:This isn't going to be easy for a lot of you to hear.

I went to middle school with Phil back when his name was still Braxton Herring Hinkley III. Even then he was a master impersonator, the "Tiger Woods of impressionism", if you will. He could impersonate the sound of the principal's voice with such uncanny precision that the PA announcements could never be trusted unless he was sitting right next to you, but that's not the eerie part. He could actually look EXACTLY like the principal, right down to the mittens (that's another story). He impersonated the school bully until the bully, overwhelmed and confused, transferred schools. He once impersonated the pencil sharpener for an entire week without ever drawing attention to himself, though he did require a lot of floss. My point is, the kid is and was good. The best.

Naturally, he drifted to Vegas and became one of the most celebrated Elvis impersonators of all time. He operated under the name "Swivelhips Jenkins" and brought in top bucks, but it all came crashing down in December of 2003, when he made a pilgrimage to Graceland and discovered that Elvis is, in fact, dead. After that he was inconsolable. He called me up, bawling, and said he was giving up the act. "It wouldn't seem right to impersonate the King as anything but what he is," said then-Braxton to me in his Tennessee drawl. "And that's a corpse. I just ain't ready to make that kinda commitment, cousin."

So, that was it, you know. My boy is a purist. He mailed me his sequined jumpsuit and his sideburns with instructions for its disposal, which I carried out to the letter. I still have no idea how he shaved those sideburns but kept them in one piece.

But Braxton was lost. He limped back to Vegas a broken man, an master craftsman with no muse. He drank from the bottle and watched a lot of TV. And that's when it happened. Call it fate if you like. Call it coincidence. But my man saw Phillip Dometian Ivey getting brutalized with grace late in the 2003 World Series of Poker, and that was it. It was over. Done. He'd found his new calling, and he's been at it ever since. He changed his name legally to "Phil Ivey" and became the greatest Phil Ivey impersonator the world has ever seen.

Last month Braxton (now Phil) entered the World Series Main Event. He's still in it. He's sitting in Seat 3.

I know what you're thinking. It's impossible. It can't be. Balderdash. I am here to tell you friend, that it IS. Deal. Come on, there was a guy dressed in full Native American garb, and you think somebody is going to notice another Phil Ivey? Dude. An average of seventeen Phil Iveys have entered the Main Event in each of the last 5 years. And this one? Is the master.

Here, let me show you what I mean:

This is the real Phil Ivey.

And this is my friend, legally named "Phil Ivey."

Huh? Huh?

"But Goat," I hear you stammering. "If this was true, the real Phil Ivey would have stepped forward. Surely he wouldn't let some impostor use his name in that way."

You poor naive sot. You really did just fall off the grape nut truck, didn't you? Do you even realize how much is at stake for the power brokers of the WSOP? Why, ESPN alone has paid the REAL Phil Ivey eight million just to stay hush-hush. The REAL Phil Ivey already HAS first prize money, and the respect that comes with being the first highly-regarded pro since 2006 to make the final table, to boot. That is how pimp it is to be Phil Ivey, my friends. Now you understand why ol' Braxton would want to impersonate him in the first place.

Hate the message, you all. Don't hate the messenger.

Fun Fact: Phil watches Steel Magnolias pretty much every night, and he cries every single time, but (and this is the fun part) he only cries during the opening credits.

Previous Entries

Darvin Moon
James Akenhead

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Your Weekly Dose Of Awesome

Always cool to see what bullets do in slow motion.

Yeah man . . . bullets.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Meet The November Nine 002: James Akenhead

Let's continue meeting the November Nine, shall we? Again, all nine are, through some random act of fate, well-known to me. I'm just doing this as a public service. All of what you read here is completely, totally, entirely true, unless you are a lawyer. In that case, WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT BEHIND YOU?


Name: James Akenhead

Age: 20

Occupation: French Impressionist Painter

Nickname: OMGItsClayAkenhead (friends) / Gerbil Tube (Enemies)

Poker Style: Plodding, Slow, Randomly Violent

Alignment: Chaotic Good

Card Capper: Bobblehead of Leo Tolstoy

Favorite Country Song: How Come Your Dog Don't Bite Nobody But Me?, by Mel Tillis

Brief Bio: James is a my neighbor's kid, and they've had a rough time of it with him. If you drop out of high school, you need to have a plan. In this case, however, the problem is that James has one. He gets up every day and puts in 12 unprofitable hours as a French Impressionist painter, despite the fact that he is not: 1) a painter, 2) living in the 19th century, or 3) French.

He tried to cut off his ear earlier this year. What a scene. His poor mother was carrying on and on, trying to get him to put the knife down and forget it, and finally she just laid down in the yard and howled in frustration, kicking her arms and legs against the ground like an enormous toddler in the throes of a tantrum. Meanwhile, Jimmy was only using a butter knife. I just don't get it. He's taken to wearing that Van Gogh basket hat, and has asked me to stop wearing glasses when I look at him so that, out-of-focus, he might look a little more "impression-y." I tried to explain to him that Van Gogh was Post-impressionist, not impressionist, and Dutch to boot, but it was hopeless. He thinks Manet is something you put on your BLT. I chased him off my lawn.

He's got a lot of paint, but it's all exterior house paint. He uses sidewalks as his canvas, and the neighborhood association is really getting sick of it, to say nothing of the police, especially since, rather than being influenced by the masters, sitting in quiet reflection until one is ready to capture only one's perception of the world around you, Jimmy blasts Kid Rock on his car stereo and paints dirty words and crude depictions of cruder acts. He uses his dog's tail as a brush.

My property value is down 47%. I don't like to think about it.

What else can I tell you? He really likes felt. He'll stroke a piece of felt for hours until it calms him down.

Fun Fact: James got the buy-in by mowing lawns. Also by selling a lot of pot. Actually I think he only mowed about three lawns.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Your Weekly Dose of Crazy

I've seen a lot of movies. It is sadly rare when an image on film startles me anymore.

This is nothing but startling images.

Face melt in 5 . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . .

Tobias Stretch Reel I from Tobias Stretch on Vimeo.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Meet The November Nine 001: Darvin Moon

I'm in shock. And, soon, in no small amount of danger.

Last year I woke up one fine July morning to one of the bigger surprises I'd had in a few minutes. Every single member of the 2008 November Nine was a close personal friend or (at the least) a longtime acquaintance of mine. You don't have to tell me that the odds of this happening were staggeringly low. Unbelievable. Breathtaking. Like the better hand holding up at PokerStars. It just isn't something you ever expect to see in your lifetime. But it did, and I told everybody I could the real story about all of them, before the ESPN/Harrahs/Milwaukee's Best/Chase Manhattan/TGIF/KFC corporate machine could crank out the watered-down, family-friendly, totally bowdlerized versions. I nearly died in the attempt, and just yesterday I finally won my suit with Norman Chad for fire-bombing my house while dressed as a Norse Valkyrie, pigtails and all (he didn't need to stuff the bosom of his breastplate, and I still have nightmares about that), to ensure my eternal silence. But I got the word out. Check it:

Dennis Phillips
Craig Marquis
Ylon Schwartz
Scott "Flea-market" Montgomery
Darus Suharto
"David" Chino "Rheem"
Ivan Demidov
Kelly Kim
Peter Eastgate

So there it is. I did my duty, OK? OK? My family and I deserve a little peace and quiet. A little rest and relaxation. So imagine my chagrin, my shock and amazement, my outright disbelief, when I realized that the exact same thing had just happened again!!!

That's right. I am good friends with every single member of the final table. The 2009 November Nine are my friends, neighbors, compeers, and sometime colleagues. I don't know what I have done to deserve this, but I've got a target on my back. Like Jason Bourne, except without any ability. And so, I suppose, it's time to pick up the keyboard and throw myself bodily into the breech once more. I'll be bringing these profiles to you over the next couple of weeks, and clearly I'll have to work fast. I've already seen a 9 ft. tall Jack Links sausage whispering furtively in James Akenhead's ear, so the cabal is already at work. They won't hesitate to bring me down.

I'm going to be brave. I'm going to be strong. If you hear a knock on the door, dear reader, it's me, hoping for a safe place for an hour. Just let me in to crash on your couch. I won't even eat your food, unless you have something really good.

Let's get started.


Name: Darvin Moon

Age: 76

Occupation: Human Lie Detector

Nickname: Ol' Poochie

Poker Style: Imaginary but Festive (he often pretends to shake maracas while he's in a hand)

Alignment: Lawful Neutral

Card Capper: A monitor from which he four-tables on Full Tilt.

Favorite Country Song: Get Off the Table, Mabel (The Two Dollars is for the Beer), by Bull Moose Jackson

Brief Bio: Born in New York, New York to a couple of theater workers (his mother sold candy in the lobby, his father raised and lowered curtains at union wages), Darvin was raised on the stages of Broadway. He didn't act, he was just raised on the stage, sometimes with a show going on around him. He spent kindergarten and first grade on the set of Death of a Salesman, which made things rough for the matinee show. But the actors were pros, they just pretended that the kid coloring on the floor between Biff and Happy's bed was a figment of Willy Loman's imagination. The show must go on.

Fatefully, in first grade, Darvin Moon was moved over to the set of Cats, where he discovered he was allergic and had to go find a real job. To this day, he can't even stand the sight of a feline. Darvin worked as a tariff clerk down at the shipyard for decades, a profession that he hated, though he was proficient enough at it. "There's no music in valuation of duty rates," he moaned to me more than once, on those occasions when my merchant shipped docked in the Big Apple. "There's no poetry in inspections."

It wasn't until his mid-forties that Moon discovered his true calling. He's a faultless human lie detector, a fact he discovered one brisk April morning on an inspection. The smuggler was a smooth operator, but Darvin sniffed out the prevarication, all right, and nabbed a container full of hot ocelots. The guy tried to bribe him, but they were felines, and Darvin was having none of it. Those cats were worth close to three million on the street. From then on, Darvin was a regular on the court circuit, where the real money is. He played high stakes truth or dare until he had enough dough to quit the Customs house, and he just moved on from there. OJ Simpson reportedly paid him high six figures to stay away from California in the early nineties.

It really is a testament to his complete lack of imagination that he's never taken this skill to the world of poker until now. It's even further testament to his lack of imagination that, when he finally got into poker, he played exclusively online, where his skills were useless. I love the guy, but honestly. Those of us that know him well know that only Darvin can beat Darvin, such as if he blinds out of the final table while obsessively playing online. The chipleader facing a table full of total unknowns, and completely unbluffable, Moon is the favorite to win the whole thing.

Fun Fact: Once, on assignment for FOX News, Darvin discovered that Geraldo Rivera's mustache, is, in fact, a symbiotic alien intelligence from the Area 51 cover-up. But don't tell anybody, OK? He informed me of this in strictest confidence. The alien isn't hurting Geraldo, though some of the higher brain functions may be working only sporadically.

Friday Is Kids In The Hall Day

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Scandal Rocks WSOP: Ivey Accused Of Using Skill To Steal Main Event Seat From Deserving Imbecile

Steve-Bob MacNamora sits in his La-Z-Boy recliner and smokes on in a string of filterless hand-rolled cigarettes. The smoke curls around him like a death shroud, but it isn't the only pall surrounding the 36 year-old Kentucky welder these days.

"Phil Ivey stole my seat," MacNamora seethes, refering to the well-known poker pro who just made the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker's (WSOP) Main Event this year. "I been waiting and saving over a decade, and now my seat, it's been stolen. Just stolen. And you just know he used skill to do it. It makes me sick."

MacNamora was sure he was destined to join such poker luminaries as Jerry Yang (07), Jamie Gold (06) and Robert Varkonyi (02) as World Champions of poker, but he was unceremoniously bounced from this year's tournament in the first day of play. "I had a King and a Jack and I couldn't beat two nines," he explains, disgust ranging on his ruddy face. "You know, if it weren't for bad luck I wouldn't have any."

But now MacNamora claims that there is more at play than simple bad luck. According to him, the final table place that is rightfully his has been taken from him by a player he accuses of using skill, or "mad game" in order to gain an unfair advantage. "Every year nine complete imbeciles make a million bucks on that there tournament," says MacNamora. "And I am a total imbecile."

"He is," agrees Betty, his wife of 10 years. "That should have been my brain-dead dummy up there."

"You could say that Steve-Bob is the Phil Ivey of idiots," says Preston Reedsammy, the attorney whom MacNamora has retained in his suit against Ivey and Harrah's Entertainment, as well as (for reasons that are unclear at this time) the comedian Carrot Top. "He really is completely clueless. And here you have this guy who knows the game inside and out, who has great instincts and intuition, whose focus in unparalleled. It's just sad to see somebody like that succeed in poker's marquis event. When you look at the evidence, it really seems unavoidable that this individual was using skill. And not just once, but throughout the tournament. Something has gone badly wrong, and we're merely asking Ivey and Harrah's to make it right."

For now, however, there are no answers. There are only dreams deferred and hopes shattered.

"I just don't get it," fumes MacNamora. "When I'm at the table I honestly still refer to that Hoyle card that tells me what beats what. When I see a seasoned pro like Ivey, who is clearly using skill to take what is rightfully mine? I just get mad. Real mad." MacNamora pauses and eats a few more truck-stop 'energy' vitamins. "I mean . .. pot odds? Implied odds? What does that even mean?"

Phil Ivey, busy making a hedge-maze out of stacks of hundred dollar bills, was unavailable for comment.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Two-Time Mookie Winner Julius_Goat Thanks You

Yeah, this happened.

I know what you're thinking and don't worry. I'll stay the same. The only difference is a little bit more cash in my account. Also, from now on I will answer only to "Two-Time Mookie Winner Julius_Goat."

What? What's that? Two-Time Mookie Winner Julius_Goat can't hear you.

You say I only won after spiking the four outer heads up to cripple TBA? You say there were two years between victories? You say there were no BBT points? You say there were only fifteen runners?

Bah. Two-Time Mookie Winner Julius_Goat can't be distracted by such nonsense. Two Time Mookie Winner Julius_Goat needs to go buy a new cape.

The old one is behind the times these days.

Your Weekly Dose Of Crazy

An important message for us all.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This is going to be an astonishing admission of geekiness - and this from somebody who has a poker blog - but that's just how it is going to have to be. It's too good to pass up.

I am an amateur photo craptioner.

That's right. You heard right. An amateur photo craptioner.

"But what is that, Julius_Goat?" you ask. "And how does one pronounce that silly little underscore that is in your name for no reason?"

"Shut up, you." I growl, but you are undeterred.

"I mean, you do have an operating system better than Windows 95, right? You do know that you can just type a space if you need a space, right?"

You're about to ask more, but that's when you see that I have an axe and an unstable glint in my eye.

A craptioner is somebody who goes to and suggests humorous and/or clever captions to some odd picture that is posted there every afternoon. Then, Digg-style, other submitters and readers vote on their favorite captions. Only the strong survive. Top vote-getter is totally Internet famous with their ID avatar and winning caption on the Cracked home page.

Rules are: You can't vote for yourself. Offensive posts will be taken down unless they are funny. Complaining about the quiz will be taken down unless it is funny.

I do this. Yes, my family is proud.

I like doing this because it seems to me to approximate what I've read about being in the writer's room of The Simpsons (and probably other shows), where you're given a situation and basically have to compete to get the best joke out there. You have about 30 seconds, and the only judge is the laughter of the other people who are trying to beat you. Very neat.

This is very similar, except that you have about 5 minutes before there are so many captions that you're buried and you may as well not bother. So, time-cost is low, and it's a fun little diversion.

It's a "craption" because then you have the word "crap" in it! Crap is funny! You see what they did there?

So every afternoon I take a break and spend 5 minutes or so with the new picture, typing whatever dumb thing comes to mind. Then I do a quick search on the word "Goat" to make sure my entries take (they don't always). Then I click refresh for another couple minutes, see how I'm doing, and then return around quitting time to see if any of the monkey poo I flung at the wall sticks.

I've done OK. I usually have one or two that get decent traction, and I've won a few times.

Now. Go back and look at the picture I posted. That was the photo for captioning that posted today. I posted a few, then did my search, and the first thing that came up was:

"Julius_Goat will be too busy masterbating [sic] furiously to this image to post his usual lame captions."

The next one was:

"This is a box of the heads that actually think Julius_Goat is funny."

About five minutes later, the "masterbating" one was winning - WINNING - by a large margin. The other one was in third place.

That's right, my friends. I have caption haters.

I'll repeat. I have caption haters. There are people out there that I have put on such caption tilt that they are now venting their caption hate for caption me on the caption site. I am Caption America! I am Caption Courageous! I am Caption CAAAAAAAAVEMAAAAAAAAN!!!

This is the best thing ever (though I am unnerved - how did they know that I was masturbating to that image? HOW? HOW?? HOW DID THEY KNOW???). I did the only possible thing I could do. I voted for them.

Sadly, they are down, now. I guess the admin decided they broke the "don't complain about the quiz" rule (or perhaps the "don't misspell the word "masturbate" or its derivatives" rule) and deleted them. But fear not, we have a happy ending. I just went on this morning and (I'll admit) did another search on "Goat" just to see if there was any more.

I found this:

Now excuse me, I gotta go vote for it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Your Weekly Dose of Awesome

Wow, guys. I guess I just do video links now. I don't have writer's block, I just have Bartleby Syndrome. For now, I guess I would prefer not to.

Soon the dam will burst.

This week, we'll switch things up. Awesome before crazy.

P.S. PokerStars 180 SNG turbos are good.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Is Kids In The Hall Day

Hello, I'm Julius Goat and I'll be your blogger today.

And, since I've been a lazy blogger, I had to also choose one that could double as your weekly dose of crazy.

This being KITH, it wasn't too hard.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Hello, hello, hello, is there anybody out there?

I'm starting to get the rhythm of the blogging seasons. Ironically, summer is when poker bloggers Internet-hibernate. There's too much warm weather, too many lakes to play in, too many parks to sit and read in.

Oh, who am I kidding. You're all either in Vegas or hitting refresh on Pauly and Al's WSOP Twitter feeds. You degens, you.

But it's quiet, that's for sure. Not just around here, either, unless I miss my guess. We're in recovery from 7,000 blogger tournaments over the last 18 months or so, and need to go lie down until we remember how much fun they are again. Was I dreaming or was the Mookie only 14 runners? What. The. WTF. (tm Tripjax). I put the BBmT on hold this quarter because it would probably have drawn 2 runners. Oh, and I am busto. Heh.

This is my way of saying: So long for now, Donkament. I'll miss you more than Michael Jackson, and much more than Robert McNamara. Come back and make us happy some day.

Other items of note:

Hoy won fifty large. Well done, sir. Now please, post something about it.

LJ nearly final tabled in WSOP HORSE action. Superstoner actually DID final table in the WSOP. Peel me off the floor. She and Lucko are alive in the Main Event for Day 2. Blooogers represent. Hoo-ha.

What else for the future?

I will say that nine of my very closest friends have entered the WSOP Main Event. I can't say definitively, but I think they all have a very good chance of making the final table. They're just that good.

More videos will be coming as soon as Xtranormal coughs up the greatly expanded software they're promising, which will let me do all sorts of keen (and maybe even nifty) new things.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Is Kids In The Hall Day

Special July 4 edition. Have fun out there, kids.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


"I am your Grandfather," his first words to me, and I let him in, though he was clearly a decade my junior, and I'd never seen him before in my life.

Dr. Haveman, I don't believe you appreciate what that means.

You think I'm crazy. I hardly blame you. Thinking me sane is so much more dangerous than neatly assigning to me whichever pathology you have chosen. The things I claim to have seen, to have done, to be able to do . . . you perceive madness in me, and this keeps you safe, you think. Shall I break the seal for you, doctor? Shall I offer you proof to pierce the thick preconception of your training?

What do you suppose would do the trick? What would force you to at least consider, even briefly, the alternative - that I am what I say I am? What if I wrote down something you've kept hidden? Something you've never breathed a word of, not even to Joy? Yes, I think so. A thing no other person could possibly know.

The boy. Yes, I think I'll tell you about the boy. What you thought to yourself when he slipped from you - I should say, when you let him slip. He was wearing a green scarf and his eyes went wide with a bully's fear as he saw your intent. He was your best friend. That's what everybody thought.

What did he say to you as you let go? Do you remember?

Did he say "Don't, Sammy. Please don't. My mama won't find me here." Wasn't it that, Dr. Haveman?

And what did you think to yourself, over and over and over? For hours down there in the dark?

Was it this: "Finally, finally, finally finally finallyfinallyfinallyfinally . . .?"

Don't worry, he was right.
They never found him. Still to this day. Your secret is safe, and I am incarcerated in a psyche ward, so who would believe me?

So. Now I think you will read the rest of this. Now, perhaps, you'll really hear my story. Now, perhaps, you will stop creating such neat little boxes to put your problems in. A diagnosis is so clean to you. It's disgusting how secure it makes you in your notion that science will keep you from the creeping strangeness, disgusting how easy it makes it for you to dismiss my every word when your job by definition involves listening to me. Insanity is not so strange, and affliction by it doesn't make one automatically incorrect. Believe me, doctor, sanity is the thinnest membrane over an ink-black pudding. When I think back on it now, it seems so strange. All I did was open a door.

"I am your grandfather." His first words to me.

* * *

The bum stood flat-foot on the porch. He wore his beard tangled and filthy and curling like an invasive vine to his checkered hunting cap. The jacket covering his spindle arms was threadbare. Snow on his pink vinyl boots. Not pinkish. Pink.

Lewis blinked, the warm milk in his hand forgotten. A rush of hot air and a faint stink met him.

"I'm your grandfather," the bum said again. Lewis wondered where his grandfather could have found pink boots in his size, and why he was letting this drifter in, and why it was so hot suddenly, and why it had been so long since his granddad had come by the house.


"What? No hug for your old pop-pop?"

Dutifully, Lewis hugged him and pulled away. Beneath the rags the . . . the . . . granddad was warm. No. Hot. He was hot. Like he was burning. He felt sort of like Alice, all heat and bones. With this though, he remembered suddenly and whispered:

"We need to be quiet. Alice is upstairs, she's . . ."

"No need to wake the wifey. I'll stay in the basement."

Grandad walked past him, into the house, leaving Lewis confused. Living below sea level meant no basement; nevertheless, Lewis nodded, as though granddad had just said something rational. But . . . What basement? Why had it been so long since Granddad had stopped by? Why was it warm in January? Lewis rubbed his eyes and tried to concentrate. Here he was, catatonic and granddad was visiting.

"Pop-pop, it's been so long . . ."

Granddad belched, a deep meaty sound. Lewis turned to him, stopped, stared. Under the kitchen light, granddad had become brutally visible, the reality of the filth which caked him inescapable. His white rat-nest beard was yellowed from nicotine and cigarette tar and it settled on his soiled pea-green jacket like a decaying sloth. His hair was shaggy and matted down, and when he spoke

"Yep, been forever. Mind if I take that milk, kiddo?"

when he spoke Lewis saw his mouth with its shy huddle of brown tooth-stumps pushing out in a ring around pink tongue-meat. Lewis proffered the glass, and the hand receiving it was creased with grime; the crescents of the fingernails black and chipped. Lewis looked down at the man's plastic boots, pink and shiny like a six-year old girl's first purse. Lewis wiped his face and realized that he was sweating - sweating! - even though the old house let wind run through it like a pack of greyhounds. On her good days Alice's fever went down and then she needed the space heater. And he was sweating? It was hard to think.

Everything was so slow.

Grandad took the milk down in large, choppy gulps and threw the glass away, almost absent-minded. It struck the refrigerator, bounced once, and rolled across the floor, unbroken. Lewis winced. Alice was sleeping, she'd finally gotten to sleep. Why would Grandad be so inconsiderate?

"Thanks sonny," the dirty stranger said, "That hit the spot."

"Hey!" Lewis started, and then Grandad looked at him and it all got slow again. He wiped his feet again. Awkward as it might be, he wanted to reprimand the old guy. He couldn't have any more noise. Alice needed . . .

"Oh her?" Granddad laughed. "Don't worry about her. She won't be waked up none."


Lewis squinted. Why was his Grandad such a young man? He seemed to be in his late thirties, though the dirtiness might have added even ten years to him. His granddad had been a sober man with silver hair. Kindly but grave, like a totem carved from solid Lutheranism.

"Your wife. She won't get waked up is what I'm telling you. She won't even hear a thing. Not her."

"Are you . . . are you sure you're my grandfather?" Lewis asked, and then it slowed and pulled and stretched and then his grandfather, the one he'd remembered as a boy was there.

"Of course I'm your grandfather, my boy," Granddad rumbled. "Who else would I be? Now come on with me."

"Where are we going?"

"To the basement."

"But we don't have one."

Grandad put an arm around him, protective, chummy.

"We do now, my lad," he said.

The rest was all mist.

* * *

Yes, with his first words to me he told me he was my grandfather, and yes, I let him in, though he was filthy, though he was a stranger, though he was clearly younger than me. Though my I knew well that my granddad was dead. Now that I can better relate to him, I think it must have been his little test, and his little joke, too, an obvious lie rather than a subtle one, as a way of proving his mastery. He dominion. And I do relate to him, doctor. I have allowed myself to be kept here for many months now. I could walk out when I like, and indeed I will do just that soon, but for this long time I have abided, and allowed my incarceration to continue. I have allowed it for the same reason he allowed me to be sent here. Do you want to know the reason? It is a simple reason, though I will allow you to chew on it for a long time.

Here is the reason: Because. Just because.

It brings to mind the reason he gave when I asked him, right before he left, why he'd chosen me.

"Your house is green," he said. "I like green."

This, doctor, is how lives are ruined.

Do you know that I am standing right behind you, now, as you read this? You'll have to take my word for it. I presume that just now, in your attempt to spin around, realized that you are unable to move.

Do you finally believe me? You must, mustn't you? And to think, all this time you have known I was guilty. You thought it was perhaps a mercy killing, but you knew beyond doubt it was me who had done it. You know so many many things, yes? What else do you "know"?

I didn't kill my wife, sir. Worse than that, sir, worse than that.

Read on, Dr. Haveman. What else do you have to do?

* * *

The first thing he was aware of was the heat.

Lewis awoke from mist to find himself sitting, cross-legged, in a carpeted jungle. A naked man sat across the fire, picking meat from a large bone. Blood covered his face and chest and arms and when he smiled his remaining teeth were bloody.


Where are we?

In the Basement.

What basement? Which basement? Where are we?

We are in the heart of things. We are where it started for such as us. We are in the Basement.

Lewis looked in panic around the small room. Ceiling and floor were covered with deep red carpet. Walls were solid verdant foliage, vine and bark and leaf, tiny acacias fronds and Egyptian palm branches and huge green elephant ears drooping. Entrance and exit not in evidence. He stood and faced the naked man.

Where are we? Lewis shouted, but the man simply looked suddenly quizzical.

You've said that already. Sit.

Lewis sat, cross-legged, automatically, as though guided by strings. He realized that he was naked as well, and that there was a thick wetness on his lips.

Wipe your mouth.

His hand raised itself and came away bloody.

Who are you? he whispered and the man came to him and sunk his teeth in.

I am you the man laughed and he said I am you I am you and he said I am you.

* * *

You have heard this story before, but you've heard it without belief. And, as I finish this, I wonder, do you believe even now? Has that maddening overconfidence finally left your eyes? If I have a goal, it is that. I will visit you again, someday, I think, just to find the answers.

Tell me, doctor. What color is your house?

Don't worry, I won't be visiting soon. You'll have plenty of time to think of when it may be. Why, it could be any bump in the night, any knock at the door! But I'll leave you for now, just because. When you wake up after finishing this you'll have a bad headache and I will have vanished. You can search for me if you like, but I won't be found. You can guess where I am going, if you have been listening to me. In case you haven't been - and I admit the distinct possibility - I'll simply tell you. I'm heading for the start of it. The center of the jungle. He left me a picture of the oldest place. The true basement. I'm going.

What? You wanted a map?

What I have told you is real, and it did happen. You don't remember this (because I told you not to), but during our last session I had you hop on your left leg for an hour. Is it sore? Now you know why.

And your mind! Did I suggest that I had pried out of you one of your deep secrets? Oh, Doctor Havemen, it is not you who have been studying me. I've explored the dark cobwebs of your soul. You lie revealed to me now, and I have the taste of you. When I return, we will talk, you and I, about many things. About that boy. You did kill him, you know.

It may be humid when we have that conversation. It may be hot. But I do think I should close, my time is up. You are finished with your rounds. I hear your coming footsteps.

Until We Meet Again,