Choosing Better Targets: Not A Short Story


So. It’s Saturday night on a another snowy day in Paradise. I’ve spent a third week painting and just for the record, next time somebody tells you that the way to eliminate the soreness caused by doing something is to keep doing that something that made you sore—kick them in the nuts. Or twist their nipple.

I had been thinking it’s the dogs sleeping habits that are giving me the recent spate of interesting dreams that invoke visits from God, but now I think differently. I’ve about decided that it’s the aches and pains from painting that are generating the strangenesses visiting me almost nightly.

OK, stop. It’s likely the dogs and the painting pains combined with copious quantities of mind altering substances causing these dreams. It’s just that I almost always dream and remember them, but I rarely have whopper dreams like lately and have never dreamed those whoppers on consecutive nights. But I’ve had these dreams nightly almost since we started painting.

As for God’s visits, I think it’s the lunacies of human beings that bring God to my doorstep. Like, for example, my mother’s inherent meanness or the slaughter that occurred in Connecticut yesterday.

Which reminds me. My ADHD seems to have entered an unusual phase. It’s been spinning my brain with multiple thoughts as it always does, but I haven’t been fritzed for a week. Not that I haven’t fucked stuff up as is typical, it’s just that I haven’t been too bothered by any of it, and that isn’t what I was going to tell you about when I was reminded of something when I spoke of the dreams starting with my aches from painting.

Have you ever noticed the structure of the word painting? It fucking STARTS with pain!!!

What I intended to tell you when I was interrupted from telling you about my dreams was this: my entire life I have been a muted color sort of fellow. White or gray cars for me, blue jeans and khaki pants, soft plaid shirts and off-white walls dominate my color palate. One of my several wives once painted my dining room back to the ranch in Austin a “pale peach” color. I had gone to Costa Rica with Streaker Jones for a couple weeks and she had decided to redecorate some shit out of boredom. Boredom or maybe spite.

Pale peach walls, an orchid colored tablecloth and this giant silk flower arrangement containing every bright color from a Crayola 64 Jumbo Box festooned the small formal dining room of the ranch house in Austin. Except during this particular marriage, all of our family meals have been eaten at the big kitchen table. The kitchen is the center of Johnson family life. This wife, however, determined that each evening meal was a dinner, and dinners were served in the dining room.

I tried my best to live with the dining room colors, but the not-muted shades instigated my gag reflex whenever I tried to swallow any not-green vegetable. Potatoes, carrots, turnips and such could all turn my stomach at will.

That wife was Roshandra Washington-Johnson, my ex-wife number five. Roshandra is an Austin Police Sargent and keeper-of-the-gate for the City Council, and Robin Quivers’ double in a woman’s extra-large. Buy my stupid fucking book and you can learn way more about Roshandra.

“You puke on my new tablecloth there’ll be hell to pay, Mr. Johnson.”

Roshandra called me “Mr. Johnson” when she was pissed at me. If you’re ever been mated to a confident black woman, you know that I didn’t ever quite puke on her orchid tablecloth.

My point is that I have lived my entire life in lighter shades of pale. Until now. Until I moved to Santa Fe and started painting this house. With this house I’ve splattered five gallons of bright turquoise all over the portal and shed out back. The inside walls are Sherwin-Williams’ Melon, and Pale fucking Peach, and Golden Globe and Abalone Shell—a color that can only be described as just a shade darker than “lady parts pink.”

When the Squirt walked into the den yesterday afternoon after Adrian and I had finished painting the walls, the little hound said to me, she said, “Don’t let your mother see a picture of this room, shithead. She’ll be scheduling you for one of those Christian interventions to keep you from being a homo-sex-u-al.”

Mother always says it that way—“homo-sex-u-al.” Like it’s as dirty and disgusting a word as it is, again in Mother’s words, “A lifestyle choice.”

And that reminds me of last night’s dream. I had been tossing and turning for several hours in feeble attempts to find a position to lay for sleep that didn’t hurt some fucking body part. The goat dog would move each time I flipped or flopped and each time he settled back in the same spot when I stilled. Yoda would wait for me to quiet after moving, then he’d stick his cold nose in my ear and then slowly turn in a tight circle until he screwed himself into the crook of my neck and shoulder. He’d turn and turn—wedging himself tighter and tighter until he could get his hip pushed under my shoulder and one paw under my neck. His other front paw he would drape across my throat and he’d jam his snout against whatever side of my face was showed to his.

The Squirt—as she always does in cold weather—camped in my crotch.

Remember those two-piece, covered cast iron pots with long wooden-tipped handles? The ones where you placed a burning ember in the pot and then used it to warm your bed back to the oldie times—those pots? Sleeping with these dogs is like having two of those pots in bed with you.

So. In this dream I was cooking griddle cakes for a big roomful of people and their pets. The room had a checker board floor of lime green and peacock blue 16-inch ceramic tiles, and the only clothing I wore was a bright purple paisley-print arm sling on my right arm and a matching headband. For some reason I thought I looked like Jimmy Hendrix.

My arm has been aching and cramping like crazy from the painting and some of the pets were exotics—a kangaroo, a herd of penguins, thirty-three hermit crabs that lived in soup cans for shells, and some other interesting shit. Each hermit crab had a Navajo name and their owner kept repeating their names and the kind of soup can they inhabited.

“Yawa’ba’, he lives in a Campbells Tomato can, and Ben Shelly—he won’t habitate anything but Progresso Lite Salt cans. Bina’ha’sdzu lives in a Kroger generic chicken broth can and Elizabeth Warren, she’s a Swanson Oyster Stew kind of girl. New England style and never Manhattan.” The speaker was an elderly man wearing a name tag that read “Bill”.

“Bill,” I asked the man, “would you please say that Binha’ name for me again? That’s the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.”

Bill spoke the name repeatedly, the soft rhythms rolling from his mouth in hushed impulses of breath, like lovers’ moans. I was, in the dream, reminded of a time last summer when I went to a late dinner at Long John Silvers down on Cerillos and sat next to a Navajo family. The grandmother was speaking to her granddaughter in her native tongue and I was mesmerized.

As I mentioned, I was dream cooking griddle cakes. Not pancakes or waffles or Johnny cakes, I tell you, I was cooking griddle cakes. Not that I have any fucking idea what a griddle cake is, but I was in a big auditorium filled with people and animals and standing at a huge, fiery hot grill, flipping griddle cakes with my left hand while I tried to keep my pecker off the hot steel cooking surface.

In this dream I had what I can only describe as a giant pecker adorned with a Salvador Dali mustache. It was about as big around as a liter plastic bottle and I never did get a gage on its length. It was wrapped around my waist and sitting atop my right arm in the sling so I knew it had some heft. Its mustachioed head lay on top of my upturned palm and peeked out at the crowd. My shoulder throbbed under the weight of arm and pecker in the sling.

A very attractive lady approached the griddle to order seconds. She was wearing tight jeans, a camel cashmere sweater, and her hair was in a long pony tail that was tied high near the top of her head. I’ve always found high-tied pony tails attractive, but the pit bull lashed to the lady’s wrist by a thick stainless steel chain was a turn off.

“May I please have another serving of your fabulous pancakes, Sir?” she requested. “And my doggie would love a bite of your bone.”

I was thinking of a proper dream retort to the woman’s requests when I was awakened by the Squirt. She was standing on my bare chest, looking down in my face and breathing heavily.

“Wake up, shithead, and go to the bathroom. Your having what might become a wet dream and we’re not ready for that.”

“They’re griddle cakes, ma’am, and I don’t like pit bulls… Oh, it’s you, Squirt.” I had to shake my head to get the woman’s pretty face off my mind.

I got up and peed and since I was up, went to the office to check emails. I looked out the office window into the chilly night. In the halo of the neighbor’s yard light I could see tiny, icy snow crystals falling, and the beautiful sight made me sad. Twenty-seven humans will never see another snowfall because America’s politicians are controlled by the NRA.

“Love the tittie pink walls in your office, Mooner. And things won’t change until these killers choose different targets.”

It was God, again, sitting at my computer and reading my thoughts. “Have you ever noticed that these shooters always seem to choose innocents or men of peace, son? JFK, RFK, MLK, Gabby G., school children and Christmas shoppers—those are the targets of assassins and gun nut crazies, not religious zealots or Republican Senators or big business tycoons.”

“Huh?” I was both startled by God’s presence and by the message of Her thoughts. “Uh, OK, Ma’am,” I stammered in surprise. “First question is why are you back again so soon? You were just here within the week and while I like you and all—please take no offense—but you’ve got bigger fish to fry than me. And my friends are starting to look into clinic vacancies for me.”

God looked like that woman from Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated by their military to prevent the injection of sanity into Pakistan’s government. She wore what I believe to be a Sari of the same colors of Roshandra’s dining room centerpiece, and her stunningly beautiful face was without makeup. I wanted to kiss her.

“No touching, Mooner,” God informed me, obviously still reading my mind. “I know it’s been awhile since you’ve had any sex but you can’t touch me without invitation. You know that.”

“Right. Salt pillars and all of that shit,” I said. “It’s just that your lips look so soft and I…”

“Focus, son. What you need to know is that the gun issue in your country isn’t about the Second Amendment, it’s about greed and control. As long as the victims of this violence are innocents and peace loving, nothing is going to happen to change things.”

Huh? “You mean that until some shithead buys an assault rifle at Walmart and then shoots up a Walton family reunion or the set of The 700 Club, we’re going to go through these massacres?”

“That wasn’t exactly what I said, but you seemed to have boiled my words into an essence, son. Think of it another way. If Phil Knight was required to work in one of his shoe factories gluing the soles to the uppers on Michael Jordon sneakers, do you really think Nike shoes would be manufactured in Indonesian sweat shops? “

She had a point—God had a point. “So, if we make the Koch brothers drink water from wells in aquifers where they frack the shit out of things, they might stop fracking the shit out of stuff.”

Maybe that’s a way we can solve many of America’s problems. Put these retailers and product manufacturers to work in the factories that produce their products, force oil executives to live with the byproducts of their activities. Force Wall Street shitheads to live in cardboard boxes after they wreck a market.

Make our elected officials wait four years for medical procedures when they deny the funding for veterans’ medical and rehabilitation after sending them to fight needless wars.

“Now I get it,” I told God. “We should find ways to hold influential people accountable, right God?…. Ma’am…”

She was gone. God left me without confirming my notions. But I don’t think I need confirmation to feel on solid ground here. Ever since Ronald Reagan started deregulating America’s business enterprises, our businesses have gotten more and more out of control and our country has gotten more and more impersonal. Like children without parental controls, big business has run amok.

OK, stop, Mooner. This is going nowhere. Almost every politician in America is fucking owned by special interests. Until Senator Bernie Sanders can be elected President, nothing will change.

I’m worn out with this shit. I’m sick to my stomach from reading about massacres in schools and I can’t do one thing about it except to say:

“Fuck the NRA, Fuck Walmart, Fuck the Koch brothers and Fuck our politicians who allow this shit to continue!”

Manana, y’all.

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10 Responses to “Choosing Better Targets: Not A Short Story”

  1. mel says:

    What up buddy? I am still in hell. Last week sucked on multiple levels. I am still sick over what happened in that school. I can’t even talk about it…

    Ummm…anyhow, whomever told you to keep doing what hurt you in the first place is crazy. You lie on a nice comfortable couch under a blanket until you feel better. That is what I have been trying to do since a week ago Saturday when shit got real again.

    And seriously, do you have the fume free paint? I think that is the root of your sleepy time hallucinations. Or maybe a combo. Or maybe you are just working through things in your own way.

    I need to go to sleep. Three more nights.

  2. Squatlo says:

    How can a man who’s ingested massive doses of hallucinogenic potions over the years have muted colors in his life? Shit, I’d expect flaming red undies and purple walls in half of the rooms.

    Sleeping with snugglin’ puppies might be the answer, Mooner. Stop painting. Painting sucks. Almost as bad as wallpaperin’ sucks.

    Gotta go… Limbaugh’s holding forth about gun control. Can’t miss the crazy even if you try.

  3. Squatlo says:

    By the way, speaking of muted (and frankly, boring) colors… I just watched a DVR of the Tenn/Tex ladies basketball game from yesterday. It went well, which is a rare thing in UT athletics these days. UT… did you notice I called Tennessee “U.T.”? See, we had it first. Way first. Eighty-nine years first. And we had the color orange first, too. Which is why we didn’t have to toast it in an adobe kiln for a month to give it a burnt and bland hue.

    Go Vols.

    And Fuck Walmart.

  4. bj says:

    Bright colors make me feel pretty; that’s why I wear them, to feel pretty. I’ve seen pictures of yer Enchanted Mountains and the colors there are magnificent and blend perfectly with yer newly painted walls.
    Even though she/he/it visits you way more than even Pat Robertson I’d be wary of trying a lip lock on the Big G. Doesn’t sound like she/he/it’s visits are about yer sex-u-al satisfaction. S’prolly more like advice and counseling sessions. Maybe Jehova Bhutto is spot on correct about the wrong ones dying in these mass shootings. Maybe if some whacked out nut job Left Wing Pacifist bought hisself a new Bushmaster and started eliminating Koch brothers, Walton spawn, Fred Phelps and the like (in mass quantities, of course) and add in several Right Wing Politicians who are deep in the pocket of the NRA and gun manufacturers, and doing it with panache, maybe the REAL power agents in ‘Murka would stop, take notice, and end these atrocities. Only problem with that is …. fuckin’ …. FINDING a whacked out nut job Left Wing Pacifist. And btw … if she/he/it tells YOU to do some shit like that? come back here to Johnsonville before you go on a spree like that. We’ll need to TALK about that shit in great detail beforehand, and if I can’t talk you out of it …. you’ll need backup.
    I hope yer finished with all the painting you need to do …. but if yer not? at least stop licking the paint stirrer stick clean between coats …. that oughtta cut down on some o’ them dreams …..

  5. Squatlo says:

    I miss the good ol’ days when Mooner used to blog more often than I crap. And he’d respond to almost every snarky comment, often in real time, with unlimited prose of his own.

    Ever since joining that commune over to New Mehiko he’s been about as regular as a constipated nun. All cloistered up.

    Hey, wait a damn minute. Reckmonster doesn’t post any more either…

    Are you two off somewhere trystin’ it up???

  6. Mooner Johnson needs sexing says:

    Mel. Sick is the word for that event. OK, and angry too. Please get better soon.

    Squat and Beej It’s the ingesting of the hallucinogens, I think, that caused the muted CHOICES of personal color palatte. When your brain spins in the P-sychlo-metallic colors of a Jemminy Hendrix Experimentalice album cover, tan shorts, a soft blue tee and dirty white sneakers are a calming cover.

    Beej. I’d first need to buy a gun should God suggest that I take on a personal role in changing the target mass profile for mass murderers. You know how I feel about guns. That said, I may need a driver and back-up for another risky project in the works. More to follow.

    One, and All. As Squattie suggests, I’ve been somewhat inattentive to the pages herein. If only I’d been sexing it up with the Reckster… When combining prepping for a week-plus trip back to Austin with dealing with my mother’s atrocities–more to follow–and working on this fucking house, I find myself with little time to write to you.

    When I do write, it’s in 5,000-word chunks that take me into the wee hours to edit and title and print.

    Whaaaaaaaa, for me. I’ll try to do better.

  7. Squatlo says:

    Aw, shit, Mooner, now you’ve got me feeling guilty for poking at you… Are you sure you weren’t raised as a Catholic? Most protestants don’t know how to evoke that guilt gene so easily…

    I’m still trying to figure out why a smart guy like you bought a house that sounds so fixer-upper-needy? You’ve reached that point in life where you ought to select abodes (as opposed to adobes) by the lack of work they’ll require you to perform. Hell, if you wanted to bust your ass into an arthritic gnarl we could have found you a place up here, complete with bed bugs, termites, and hot-n-cold runnin’ homophobes for neighbors!

    That place is starting to sound like The Money Pit…

    And it’s damn sure crimpin’ your blobber.

    Anybody heard from Reck? She’s gone into witness protection or something. Personally, I’m feeling shunned.

    Just read where your gubnor over to Tay-hass wants teachers to carry weapons there…

    Jebus… Fuck Rick Perry…

  8. Mooner Johnson needs sexing says:

    Squat. And the Rebubbir Governor here says, and I’ll quote her on this one, that, “We need to keep assault rifles out of the hands of the mentally incompotent.”

    How do I even start with that one?

    As for the money pit, you are correct, sir. The pre purchase inspection I paid for wasn’t worth a shit and New Mexican liscensure gives a duped buyer Zero recourse. Zip, zilch and no recourse when you pay $400 for some asshole to tell you, “Except for a couple small items, this house is A-OK.”

    Another reason for me to NOT own a fucking gun.

    As for your guilt, wear it like protective armor, asshole. But you did manage to stir me into action. I’ll be posting later today if only you will leave me alone. Fuck you, and I mean that in the kindest possible way. Like a brother.

  9. Squatlo says:

    One mo’ thing, and I’ll leave you to your promised blobbin’… Ever watch that DIY network show “Holmes on Homes”? Don’t answer that because it’ll set you back a couple of hours. Anyway, this Holmes guy (“Mike” to his beloved disciples) finds owners of homes who have been screwed over by lousy contractors or home inspectors, then goes through their places pointing out things any idiot should have seen before writing a check.

    Not that you’re just any idiot, mind you. I think even Mike Holmes himself would agree- you’re special.

    Looking forward to your post.

  10. Squatlo says:

    The suspense is killing me!

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