Care and Feeding of Zombies

January 30, 2007 at 10:25 PM | Posted in Notes on Society | Leave a comment
  Zombie Psychology
  Zombie Psych is an important topic of study in today’s world.  No one knows what causes humans to become zombies, although there are plenty of theories to go around.  We will examine some of these theories briefly, as it may lead to insight into how to deal with the creatures.
  The various theories include:  government biological weapons agent gone awry, space-born virus from a meteor, Armageddon (one of the many natural occurrences that arise during the natural course of the end of the world), or your typical alien invasion (ala Plan Nine From Outer Space).  I myself don’t really buy into the government biological weapons theory, because I’m not a conspiracy nut; I try to be realistic.
  In terms of behavior, zombies seem to have two basic behaviors:  wandering, and the hunt.  Wandering is essentially how most of their time is spent, in between hunts.
  During the wandering, a zombie will travel randomly, and mobility is erratic.  Although zombies seem to be independent and nomadic, they tend to congregate.  Various theories for congregation abound.
  If zombies retain any sense of instinct or trace memories of their previous existence as living humans, then they retain the human desire for contact, and also, the collective unconscious that causes them to gather in the same familiar places, i.e., shopping malls, movie theaters, major urban areas, and secret underground government research facilities.
  It could also be purely random, and they are gathered near the general area in which they were sired (turned into a zombie), because being a zombie severely limits mobility.  Most zombies do not drive.  Attempts to study the migratory patterns of zombies devolved into a duck and cover operation, having an adverse effect on the experiment.  Proof of the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle.
  This, in part, is the explanation for the third theory:  Zombies are opportunistic.  They see another zombie feed, and they want to feed.  They see a zombie on the hunt, and they follow the hunt.  They travel in packs, yet are separate.  They are the ultimate anarchists.
  Although zombies tend to hunt in packs, it is because of this opportunistic behavior, not any organized attack plan. 
  Sensory impact:  Although not proven, anecdotal and clinical tests seem to indicate that Zombies have an enhanced sense of smell.  They have the ability to tell zombies from humans.  We could find no volunteers to act like zombies and walk through a crowd of them to see if they would be detected or not, therefore this experiment is shelved for the time being.
  If they still have eyes, they can still see, and if they have ears, they can still hear.  Their sense of touch and pain are essentially non-existent, however.  This fact is obvious when one sees the disfigurement and dismemberment which the zombies seem oblivious.  In addition, shooting, stabbing, and other assorted mopery and dopery inflicted on them, unless directed at the head, does not appear to have any affect on them.  There is a theory that they do feel pain but they have no outlet, no venue to display those feelings.  This remains untested.
  They do appear to retain their sense of balance, such as it is, for although they stumble and walk funny, for the most part they retain an upright position.
  Their survival instinct, although oxymoronic in nature, tends to indicate that they are operating on a low-level instinct, and therefore although they can see to hunt and navigate, they don’t have the higher brain function to realize danger (for example, three zombies chasing you in a pack, and you shoot two of them, the third has no identity that he is in any danger, and continues to chase you until you shoot him.  Or he eats you.)  This low level of activity indicates a brain function of a very low arachnid or specialized insect, following a single prime directive wired into their DNA.
  Their instinct to feed is stronger than anything, including their survival instinct.  In fact, it may well be stated they have no instinct for survival, other than to feed.  It has been suppositioned that the desire to feed may not even be a survival instinct.  It may be merely a cross-wired lower brain function, the result of the infection.
  This suggests that there are strategies which will allow you to set traps for them, provided you can get someone to act as bait.  They are in relentless pursuit of human flesh and naught else.
  And that is another thing–human flesh?  I’ll allow that the zombies can detect their own kind, and are therefore uninterested in rotting flesh.  But I don’t feel that the use of animals has been thoroughly explored.  If the zombies are not eating animals and only eating humans, it lends credence to the End Of The World theory, although there is still some air in the government conspiracy virus, if engineered so exactly to make the zombies crave only human flesh.
  So, some experimentation is called for, in terms of determining if the infection can be passed to or transmuted to animals, and then determining what their reaction is.  These are important issues.  If zombies are uninterested in animals, then humans can use dogs to track and keep guard without fear of them being turned and then attacking them.  A pack of zombie dogs would be dangerous, because their main weapon is biting.

  Strategies in hand to hand:
  First, don’t attempt to fight a zombie hand to hand.  They will bite you.  Don’t bite them; this has proven to be a poor strategy.  Hand to hand should be a fall back position ONLY while you regain your weapon.
  You need to control their mouth so they don’t bite you, and their hands so they don’t claw at you.  The mouth is the primary concern.  Hold them by the neck to keep the mouth at bay.  If you can’t remove the head or destroy the brain right away, gag them with something.  Their hand dexterity is such that they wont be able to easily remove it.  If you can break an arm, they can’t tear at your flesh as well. 
  Don’t block with your arm, they will bite it.  Instead, use your hands on their throat to keep control of where their mouth is.  Try to get behind them, full-Nelson style, to keep their arms away from you.  Chances are good that they are all muscle and teeth, no real wrestling training.  If you can snap their neck, it may not kill them, but they won’t be able to lift their head to bite you.
  Note that these are strategies for one on one.  When attacked by two or more zombies, it can be scary, but martial arts strategies for fighting multiple opponents will apply.
  Most notably, since they will follow you single-mindedly without forethought, as long as you maintain a sense of where you are, travel backwards, in a circle.  They have to come after you, and going in a circle generally means only one at a time can get to you, so you can fight them one at a time.  CAUTION:  watch you footing!  Don’t trip and fall!  Be careful, or they will be on you!
  In the event that you find yourself on the ground, the mistake most people make is lying flat out where they can be torn apart.  These are just zombies, man!  They don’t have superhuman strength!  Ball yourself up, pull your arms and legs in, roll back and forth.  Keep moving, make it hard for them to hold on to you or bite you.
  If you are anticipating a fight, it might be a good idea to douse yourself in oil.  This will keep them from getting a grip on you.  At least, oil you abdomen so they can’t tear it open.  Just wear gloves, or keep your hands dry, so you can maintain your grip on your weapon.

Weapons:
  Of course, everyone wants a gun.  Few people know how to use them, and even fewer of those are a decent enough shot to be useful.  Here are some things about guns.  The ironic thing is, most pistols are only accurate in the short range, where they become ineffective defensively and can be easily knocked away, taken away, or otherwise removed from the shooter. 
  Remember, the target is the head.  Body shots are useless.  Over twenty feet away, 9 out of 10 people will miss three of four attempts at a headshot.  If you have a six-shooter, that means you will probably only kill one, maybe two before you have to reload.  A gun with a nine-shot clip you may fair better, probably getting 3 zombies with every clip.  The best recommendation is to get a small pistol with cheap ammo, and lots of clips, and practice.  Although a .22 caliber is not big and won’t hurt a human much, it will stop a zombie if you shoot them in the head.  A .38 or a .44 may be impressive, but the gun is heavy, the ammo is expensive, and they aren’t as fast, plus there is more kick to them, which means a greater possibility of missing.
  Rifles are good for distance shooting, and if you have a defensible area with an open range, that is the best protection, because they can’t sneak up on you.  You can watch them from a distance, see them coming, and pick them off.
  Shotguns seem like they might be a good idea, but they don’t have a very good effective range.  Over twenty yards away, you may as well be throwing baseballs at them.  Plus, specifically for zombies, birdshot is not going to penetrate the skull.  Unless you are shooting them at less than six feet away, you may not do much damage.
  Bottom line, the best theory of defense is a rifle and several pistols, and try for ones that use the same ammo, so that in a confused, battle-torn situation, it wont matter what ammo you use in what weapon.
  Now, on to other weapons:
  I have discussed this concept with other strategist, and we are in agreement on this:  You want a sword.  Most combat will be close- quarters, closer than you want.  The zombies will be trying to get close to you, because their weapon (teeth) is a close quarters weapon.
  Unlike a pistol or a rifle, a sword never jams, never needs to be loaded.  It can be used for defense as well as offense, and is made for close quarters.  Perhaps the only drawback to the sword is that it takes time to learn to use it.  Maybe a life time?  Well, that is only if you are going to be fighting others using a sword.  A few months or so of dedicated practice will put you well on your way to being able to handle yourself against zombies.  Anecdotal evidence from the field indicates a markedly diminished capability of zombies to handle swords or any other weapon effectively.  (We take note of the exception of the rare and unprovable case of "Bud," a captive zombie used in study, who was purportedly able to handle and effectively use a firearm.)  Take some lessons, or buy a samuri video or DVD.
  The thing is, you are going to have to spend a pretty penny on a sword that is a real one, not "for display only."  Quality steel, capable of cutting through bone again and again and again is not cheap.  In the range of 500 to 1000 dollars, I think.  Coldsteel.com is the place to begin your search.  Or you can get a piece of steel and begin to fashion it yourself.  Good luck with that.
  There are also other bladed weapons that can be made, used, or improvised.  Get a cricket bat or a heavy wooden oar, and bolt a sharpened lawnmower blade to it.  Axes and hatchets are good.  Hell, so is a sledge hammer.  Remember to practice, and practice on something that you can put some real force behind.
  Other garden and hand tools come in handy.  I like a machete, but I believe the blade is too small and thin for bone.  The aforementioned lawnmower blade with a handle instantly becomes a heavy-duty machete.  A hoe, a spade, a stiff shovel, a rake; these are all good possibilities.  A garden rake, not a leaf rake–You get the idea.

Defensible position:
  Ideally, you want a brick building of some sort with very few windows.  You MUST block the windows.  If the place has a whole wall of windows, I recommend you look elsewhere.  You want a clear perimeter, so you can see approaching attacks.
  Also, you don’t want a highly desirable place, like a shopping mall, unless you are willing to share with others and in general have your shit looted.  A small, lone little store of some type is best.  Work out a way to get food and water there.  Have a plan.
  This indicates that you don’t want to be in an urban area, or even a suburban area.  They are going to be crawling with the dead.  An exurban or sparsely populated rural area means fewer zombies, and also fewer people to share resources with.  If you have the ability, find a place (storage in rural area, cabin, root cellar, underground bunker) to store some food and water and supplies.)  This is a good idea not just if zombies come, but for other natural disasters, like hurricanes, tornados, and nuclear war.
  You probably do want a dog.  If you are not a dog person, become one.  They are invaluable for guard, as well as for sniffing out prey.  They have excellent hearing and sense of smell, and can be trained to react to approaching zombies.  Some may even be useful in a fight against them.

Rebuilding civilization:
  So, you are going to need some people in your group–your cadre–not just you and a buddy.  You want to be able to turn your simple citadel into not only a village, but also a new cradle of civilization.  So, you need to recruit or save or absorb or in whatever way accumulate other people.  This way, there is a larger pool for breeding.  You want to save as many chicks as you can, especially hot ones.  They will be grateful, if you do it right. 
  Not only that, but especially early on, there is a high likelihood of nearly imenant zombie attacks until you have the area clear and secure.  Make sure your group of people contains several of the stereotypical "disposable" types.  This is really the only reason to allow exceptionally annoying or just excess people.  That, and for comedy relief. This is the best defense, which is to put people between you and the zombies.  Hey, there are winners and losers in this world.  You snooze, you lose. 
  Once your area is clear of zombies, it should be easy to maintain.  Then more people will flock there.  Set up guards and fences.  Try to differentiate between humans and zombies when they show up at your doorstep, so that you avoid any unfortunate and embarrassing moments. Start farming and hunting, develop some sort of power generation, and form local government.  You will be, at that point, an autonomous third world country, which should have been your goal in the first place.

You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Blog Is About You

January 26, 2007 at 1:13 AM | Posted in Personal | 2 Comments

"Let me not seem to have lived in vain."

Tycho Brahe.  Danish Nobleman and Scientist.  What a piece of work.  These were his dying words.

I can relate, brother.  I can relate.


  My beloved, my darling, my Detroit–she and I had a conversation.  There was a commercial for hearing aids, and I mentioned that I told my sister that our dad needs one.  She told me that he has several and won’t wear them.
  Detroit says, "Your dad is very vain."  And then she looked at *me*.  It took only a second for me to make the connection, because I am brilliant.
  "It’s a good thing I’m not–" was about all that I could get out.
  But for her to tell me this was kind of a revelation for me.  I had never considered myself vain, not really.  I mean, I’m a fat middle-aged white guy, working a couple of dead end jobs with delusions of grandure, but–
  Oh, yeah, maybe that’s it.  Detroit adds this to the mix, that I have a fear of growing old.
  She may be right about the vanity, but wrong about the growing old.  I’ll get to that in a second.  But the vanity we will deal with right now.
  I want to be rich and/or famous.  I want to be famous, actually, for my creative brilliance.  I guess I am touched in the head with the vanity.  I have always thought I was intellectually superior to. . .well, everyone.  It doesn’t help that I am actually pretty smart, and therefore intellectually superior to over 90% of the people on the planet.
  This causes an inferiority psychosis:  If I’m so goddamn smart, why the hell ain’t I richer?  Huh?  Huh?  Got an answer for that, genius-boy?  Well, actually, I do.
  One of those feel-good empowerment maxims that was taped to the back wall of a cake decorating supply store indicated that success was all about hard work, it didn’t matter how smart you are, unsung genius is a sad but standard story in our times, it didn’t matter how smart you are as long as you work hard.
  What a blow to my freakin ego.  Dual blow, actually.  Not only–not only was the massive intelligence that I possess virtually useless, but the one thing that I don’t have–the ability to work hard, persevere–is deemed the most important to success.  Christ!
  It reminds me of a "Dilbert" cartoon.  Dilbert was going to join Mensa, the club for brainiacs.  (I myself have considered joining.  Maybe I will, I need the ego boost.)  Not only did his garbage man belong, but when he asked another member who worked with him why they were stuck working there for their low salaries he said (and I quote):
  "Intelligence has much less practical application than you might think." 
  So I am fairly smart, and somewhat creative–and this gives me cause for vanity?  I’m not thin.  I’m not good-looking, by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m far from financially successful.  What the hell do I have to be vain about?
  I guess it’s all subjective.  But then again, I could be wrong.  I mean, how am I an expert?  Insecurity rides shotgun with vanity, I think.  Vanity may be a defense mechanism–it covers up the insecurity, gives it a coat of primer.  I. . .
  I was picked on and teased in school.  Maybe everyone was–?  No, not everyone.  There are always the kids who are always popular, always perfect, always good looking.  I’m sure they have other problems, but getting psychologically abused from your entire student body is not one of them.  Good Lord, I was beaten down.  I was beaten down so much that when it stopped. . .
  I didn’t know it had stopped.  I was still cowering in the corner, in my own little world.  Ask me if I want to be a teenager again.  Go ahead, ask me.  ASK ME!
  When I finally did bloom out of my shell like the delicate little desert flower that I am, I’m sure that all these past experiences, as an aggregate, took their part in shaping who I am now.  So I rise out of those ashes and what?  Have a superiority complex?
  I have always, for some reason, wanted to make a name for myself somehow?  Do I feel an inner compass pointing to my destiny?  No.  I think it’s a fear of death.  Not growing older.  Dying.  I don’t like the idea of growing older ONLY because, so far, all evidence suggests that it leads to death.  I want to make a name for myself because therein lies immortality.  How many millions, how billions of people have lived and died, and no one beyond their small circle of family and friends ever heard of them?  And what drives me to desire this?
  I guess I would rather die of old age than anything else.  What I really fear is dying in a car wreck.  It’s the singular notoriety of which I do not wish to participate.
  . . .I have become a very cautious driver. . .

  Google Tycho Brahe, or look him up on wikipedia, and ask yourself–"Is a gold nose the same as a golden calf, and is notoriety the same thing as fame?

The Grey Overcast Cloudiness of a Brand New Day

January 15, 2007 at 1:53 PM | Posted in Personal | 5 Comments
  I may be done here, I don’t know.  I don’t have a very long attention span, and I have a compulsive need for attention.  I’m flapping in the breeze here and no one gives a shit.
  Don’t count on seeing me here again.

Cute and Cuddly

January 14, 2007 at 11:13 PM | Posted in Notes on Society | 1 Comment
It occurred to me:  Koala bears are known for eating, shooting, and
leaving.  Haha.  Seriously, though–they are known for eating
Eucalyptus leaves, and ONLY Eucalyptus leaves.  This is why it is so
hard to raise them in a zoo, because of their highly specialized diet,
blah-blah-blah.

I don’t buy it.  I think it’s bullshit.  I don’t
think they have a "highly specialized diet," I think the fuckers are
addicted.  It seems to affect their breeding habits, even because that
is all they want to seem to do.  I admit I understand the appeal–there
have been many times I’ve had a Halls Mentho-lyptus and wanted another
one right away.
But still–I feel that we as a race have become
enablers of this destructive behavior.  It is time to stop the cycle of
addiction.
I propose an experiment:  Let’s get a koala cub, right at
weening, and take him away from his dysfunctional parents, and raise
him in a foster home, and give him a diet of cheetos and
cheeseburgers.  Or shrimp scampi (Currently watching Forrest Gump right
now).  Or hell, catfish heads.  Anything else but those damn
destructive, addictive, dangerous Eucalyptus trees.
Then we’ll see who the hell is right about their dietary needs.  Fuckin’ little addicts.

A Good Idea on Paper

January 12, 2007 at 7:35 PM | Posted in Notes on Society | Leave a comment
  North Korea, that Utopian bastion of peace, freedom, and clear thinking, has found a unique solution, it thinks, for its starving millions:  Giant Rabbits.  Yeah, it’s in the news, look it up.
  The problem with this, however, is twofold:  first, rabbits eat a whole lot, and second, they are just so darned cute!  If they are so cute, how can you possibly eat them?  But wait–these are giant bunnies.  Maybe they aren’t that cute?  But what if they are deadly?  How big is a "giant" bunny, anyway?  Are we talking T. Rex size?  Or merely velociraptor size?  Can you imagine a flock of velociraptor- sized bunnies, charging at you?  Those ears flopping menacingly at you?
  And if regular bunnies eat a lot, how much more does a giant bunny eat?  They think they have a food shortage now, and the bunnies are going to eat all the greens they have left–
  Wait.  Wait a minute.  Greens.  Soylent Green.  Oh no!
  I’ve just uncovered a possible conspiracy.  On the outside, it looks like they want to bring bunnies into North Korea to feed the people, and alleviate the food shortage.  But if that’s true, why not get regular bunnies, and why not get them from closer to home, like Australia?  Australia is overrun with rabbits; they consider them vermin, like a fluffy-tailed rat.
  Speaking of rats, I smell one.  I think the actual plan is to import several giant bunnies, and have them EAT the North Koreans!  By their logic, if there are fewer people to feed, there won’t be a food shortage!  Kim Jong Il is one crafty little man.
  Then, they’ll keep the giant bunnies on, in the capacity of a unique weapon of mass destruction.  To thwart their enemies, they simply send some giant bunnies into the that country’s capital, like, say. . .Washington, DC!
  The capital of our own country, overrun by giant bunnies!  Our leaders, our senators and representatives, our judges, our white house–ravaged by giant bunnies!  Big floppy ears, covered in blood!  Oh, the humanity!

  My brother lives in the country.  Loves the country, the outdoors.  He fishes, he hunts, he has forty acres, he does all outdoors-y stuff.  A regular Daniel Boone.  Once, perhaps 20 years ago, he wanted to get into rabbit breeding.
  Yes, rabbits are cute and cuddly and fluffy–as long as you don’t feed them after midnight–but in the early days of the health food craze, and alternative diet crap, it was discovered that rabbits have very lean meat, high in protein, low in the various types of fat that are bad for you.  Plus–tasty!  Tastes like chicken!
  So my brother Carl got some pens and cages, got some bunny chow, got some rabbits, and started to breed them them like he was in Brazil during the cold war trying to create a Hitler clone.  He even made a sign and put it out front, "Bunnies for sale," with a cute, comical little bunny face drawn, complete with one ear flopped over, for effect..
  As I said, he lives in a rural area.  The town I grew up in, he still lives there.  Secluded, as most small towns in southern Illinois are.  Four miles to the highway to the north, two miles to the highway to the south.  When certain cars roll through, you know you are dealing with an out-of-towner.
  A white Cadillac rolled through town slowly, stopping at the stop signs.  All of that just screamed, "I’m not from here!"  The hapless driver, a woman, sees the ‘Bunnies for sale" sign and pulls in.
  Carl is watching though the window, and sees a middle-aged, sophisticated, made-up, well-dressed, city-type fancy woman get out,  looking for purchase in the slightly muddy grass and rock with her designer heels.  She lowers her sunglasses and looks around.  The way my brother tells it, imagine her wearing a mink stole.  Or holding a small dog. Or both.
  Thinking quickly, Carl takes off his khakis and designer shirt, puts on his overalls.  Leaves one button undone.  No shoes.  He strolls outside.
  Through the course of the conversation, she intimated that she would like to purchase a cute little bunny as a pet for her daughter.  Despite the signage, however, Carl was selling these rabbits as food.  She wished to peruse the merchandise.  Carl led her through his backyard, through mud, plywood on the ground, some hunting dogs on chains, through a shed that was about to fall over.
  The lady bent over and looked at them, cooing and "awe-ing" at them,  "They’re all so cute!" she exclaimed.  Finally, she picked one while Carl stood on, patiently waiting.  "That one!  The cute little white one."
  "This one?"
  "Yes.  That one."  As Carl reached in and grabbed it out, she continued, "My daughter will love th–"
  Her sentenced ended with a choke and a scream as Carl pulled the rabbit from the cage in one smooth motion, grabbed it by the head with one hand and the body in the other, and twisted the head.  Twisted it OFF.
  Carl looked at her as though he didn’t understand, as she screamed, kept screaming, shook her head and arms all over like she was having a seizure, and ran awkwardly though the yard back to her car.  She was still screaming as she drove off.
  My brother laughed for quite a while.

Ode To My Maverick

January 12, 2007 at 7:32 PM | Posted in Personal | Leave a comment
The new year has brought on a desire to reminisce.  More so than usual, I mean.  The whole concept of this blog was a desire for me to introspect the hell out of myself.  I dug deep, deep within myself, via my navel, and only came up with lint.  It hurt me deep to realize how shallow I am. . .
And now, a song.

Come and listen to my story about a car named Fred
It was a Ford Maverick and it filled me with dread.
The thing would always start and it always ran
Well, let me tell you boys that was part of it’s plan.

He’ll get me where I’m going and I’d think it’s fine
When really all he’s doing is biding his time.
when it’s time to go he would give me a smirk
And a part I never heard of now doesn’t work

"It needs a dual-reverse overhead valve reduction
super modified carbeurtion PFT inducer with fluid"
The mechanic would tell me with a satanic grin
What he charges for repairs is a deadly sin

But at least he’ll do the work; you might say "So"?
Everybody else just wants to have it towed
"The junk yard is where that car should be;
Buy a new car and set yourself free"

I was late to get my girl when it broke down fishin
She got pissed and dropped me like a bad transmission
Every second chance and every last straw
This car is mocking me and rubbing me raw

Once again I’m walking in the heat of the summer
A dude pulls up to me and says, "what a bummer."
He offered me a lift in his shiny new car
I felt like a loser and he felt like a star

"What I hero," I thought as he let me out
All he did was make me feel like a lout
Trying to explain the things I should aspire
So I smiled and as he drove off I slashed his tire

I get the Mav back and its running fine
Held together with rust, bujee cords and twine
My destiny is painted pale blue and primer
AM-FM 8 track, what else could be finer?

This car has wreaked havoc on my self-esteem
You can tell by its look that I’m not living the dream
I just want to be apart of the status quo
But I can’t even pick up a three dollar ho

The chicks don’t dig me the way that they should
And The guys know it’s scrap metal under the hood
I get respect from no one and it really sucks
it makes me wonder-was it really worth the fifty bucks?

Bridge of Sighs

January 9, 2007 at 11:55 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
The tiny multi-colored car buzzed down the highway. It was back on the road, after undergoing what amounted to major surgery on a car. Yet, work remained to do to get it completely fit. Right now the health of the car was much like that of a 40-something man who recently became a smoker. In other words, Bryan.
The incessant droning buzz from the bad back right bearing made it difficult to hear the stereo unless it was loud, and the combined noises made conversation difficult. The two rode in relative silence in the car, lost in their own thoughts.
They were comfortable with each other, and there was no need to fill any void with chatter. If they felt like talking, they did. If they felt quiet, they were. The trip was just long enough to get lost in thought. Drudge up the past, mull it over, and put it away again.
As they approached the river, it triggered a memory deep within, and Bryan turned down the stereo and spoke:
"So–and stick with me here, see if you can follow this train of thought–"
"Oh, this should be good–"
"Hush. Seeing the river coming up reminded me of another day on the river. This is the Missouri River, but over by 270, where it crosses the Mississippi, there is another spot on the river, that you can best get to on the Illinois side. It’s the spot where Lewis and Clark left on their famous journey to find a Starbuck’s"
"That’s not how I learned it in school."
"You doubt me? Truth is stranger than fiction. I’m from here, so as a native I am well-versed in the history and above reproach on all narrative."
"Meaning?"
"Meaning don’t interupt my free-flowing cognitive bullshit."
"Continue with the crap. By all means."
"Thusly. Anyway, there is a small state park there, or maybe federal, who knows, commemorating the spot. If you look to the north, you can see the spot where the Mississippi and Missour rivers meet."
"Wow, neat."
"Also, if you look to the south, you can see where the Mississippi flows one way, and the canal splits and goes around that big island in the river."
"Cool."
"We should go sometime. Right there also is a small tributary, a creek that feeds into the river as well. I used to go there all the time with my old girlfriend–"
In unison, choreographed, they recited: "–And she is old, too, ba-dum, chink!"
Bryan looked at his love with misty eyes. To be able to share this silliness with her, and have her participate, filled his heart with joy.
And Joy, oddly enough, was the name of his old girlfriend. And you know the next line.
He continued. "We used to go there all the time, especially in the summer. She lived in Bellefontaine–" Pronounced ‘bell-fountain,’ for all of you out-of-towners "–which is right over by the river. Near Riverview, the town *right* by the river. This was my first pizza delivery area.
"So, in the summer, when it was hot, we would go across the river to hang out, cool off, whatever. We had several different spots. Cross the bridge, and then cross the canal bridge, and we’re in Illinois. Take that first exit, and there was a little gas station, and that’s where she always bought lottery tickets–this was before Missouri had a lottery–and where she bought beer on Sunday, because Missouri still had Blue Laws at that time. Mid-eighties.
"That street right there we would turn, and head back towards the river, and this time go across the old Chain Of Rocks Bridge. The interstate bridge we take is now called "Chain of Rocks," but this other one is the original."
"Did you say ‘Chain of Rocks’?"
"Yeah. I don’t know why it’s called that, either. Cross the first bridge, and you’re on the island. You can drive to the big bridge, but it’s closed. Hang a left, and that road leads to the river’s edge, the barrels."
"The barrels?"
"Yeah. These giantic concrete platforms in the river, at various heights. Not sure what the purpose is, it probably has to do with the barges or whatever. But people would go down there and camp and party, and fish off the barrels, and ride the dirt bikes and three-wheelers around. Once in a while the St Clair County cops would come out and bust underage drinkers and kids getting high, but mostly it was a free zone.
"We would go down there and get high and hang out. Never went in the water of course; that is the Mississippi River. That’s not a river to play in. But just being down there it was alot cooler, you know?"
"Yeah. In Michigan we have–"
"Right-right-right. Back to me. It was shady down there, and the undergrowth was ripped away by bikers and and flooding, so it was very much like a park. People from all over would hang out, and it was a friendly, festive atmosphere.
"But the bridge is a different story."
"Ooh-ooh! Tell me a story!"
"The bridge was off limits. There was big piles of dirt and broken concrete to keep people from driving onto it; the bridge was dangerous. That’s why they closed it and built a new one. I think. That, and it didn’t line up with where they wanted to put the interstate. Plus, it has a bend in it, an angle."
"There’s a *turn* on the bridge?" She seemed incredulous.
"Yeah. The bridge was all-around dangerous. Then, big potholes and things, and some manholes that are open, not a good place to drive. A little historical note: Remember the movie ‘Escape From New York’?"
"Vaguely. Kurt Russell?"
"Yeah, as Snake. Adrienne Barbeau, too. She was hot back then. Huge ti–"
She sighed. "Just continue."
"’K. Anyway, they filmed that movie here in St Louis. Turns out nothing resembles post-apocalyptic New York as much as present day St Louis city ghetto. Yo. Jus’ keepin it rhal."
"Whatever."
"Well, the final battle scene was filmed on this bridge, in fact. It was already closed at the time."
"Wow. Neato."
"But that’s not all. I’ve been on the bridge, several times. Skateboarded across it, once. It is covered in graffiti. Or was. It was a work of art."
"Was?"
"Yeah. About ten years ago, or more, two teenage girls got dragged here, raped and murdered, thrown off the bridge. I don’t know if it’s related, but I think it is. They may have figured this was too large of a structure to be derelict like this. Just a few years ago they cleaned it up and opened it up and now it is a tourist attraction, a walking and biking bridge."
"Hmm. Sounds neat."
"We should go sometime. The river is about half a mile wide in that section. Not kidding, I measured it several times with the odometer."
They sat quietly for a few moments. Finally, she turned to him and said, "So. . .that was the thing that came to mind when we were driving over the bridge earlier?"
"Yeah. Well, yeah. I guess so."
She took his hand, held it. She said, "I love your stories."
"Thank you, Baby." He had a thought. "What were you thinking about?"
"What, me?"
"Yeah."
"Oh." Short pause. "Aardvarks."

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