Thursday, April 15, 2010

GreatHites Season 2 Episode 14

This week I asked people to come up with stories based on a news article. We got two stories about some very interesting news pieces.

Stories this week by:

Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll
Ashley Redden

Download this week's stories

My article came from a website called Psych Central, psychology news. The artical is tittled 'Children, Alcohol, and R-Rated Movies'.

Movies and Real Life
Philip Norval Joe Carroll

The phone rang.
He opened his eyes. Floating red numbers on his night stand told him the time.
"Two thirty seven," he grumbled, "who would call at this time?"
"Only one way to find out, Jack," his wife said in an equally groggy voice.
He must have slept through the first few rings, the answering machine out in the living room picked up in the middle of the next. Jack waited. He looked at the clock again, two thirty eight. The clock clicked over to two thirty nine as the answering machine made its tone, indicating the end of the message.
"That was a long message, jack," she said, "you'd probably better go see what it says. You don't think your Dad had another stroke, do you?"
"I wouldn't be surprised, Sheila," he said, sliding out of bed to walk barefoot from the room.
"The way things have been going lately," he said, but didn't complete the thought as he headed down the short hallway.
The thick carpet felt good on his bare feet. Recently installed it still had the smell of new carpet and he was happy they had chosen the highest quality available. He passed his sons room and was surprised to hear the television was on. He paused a moment to listen. The sound of screeching tires, gun shots and shouting supported by an intense soundtrack was clearly audible through the door.
"What's that kid doing watching tv this late at night," he asked himself as he reached for the door knob. It was locked.
He pounded on the door and shouted, "Steve, turn that off and get to bed, you have school tomorrow."
"Crazy kid," he muttered as he turned back to his original mission.
Jack stepped down into the sunken living room and crossed it to drop into the white leather sofa and poke the flashing orange playback button on the answering machine.
The voice came loud and immediate from the machine, "Mr. Pettigrew, this is Sargent Wardlow, of the city police. Please call us as soon as possible at..."
The officer gave the number, but Jack just hit call back, and had Sargent Wardlow on the line in moments.
"Mr. Pettigrew," the sergeant said without preamble, "your son, Steve, was in an accident. He is not severely injured. We have him at the station and need you to come down and sign for him."
"Sign for him," Jack said, dumb founded. "At the station. Has he done something wrong?"
"Yes sir," Wardlow said, "there are several charges against him. Will you be coming down to the station now, or will you come by later in the day?"
"Charges," Jack said, questioning himself if he was truly awake. "Are you sure you have teh right kid? Steve never does anything wrong."
"Let me see," Sargent Wardlow said, "Steve Pettigrew, five feet, six inches, one hundred fifteen pounds, blonde hair, blue eyes, date of birth, January sixteen, nineteen ninety five, resides at 4216 Popinjay Circle?"
"Ok, ok," Jack snapped at the officer, "that's my son. I'm coming down right now. I'll be there in a few minutes."
He hung up the phone and went to get his wife.

With each charge Mr. Pettigrews jaw seemed to drop even further.
"Consumption of alcohol by a minor, public intoxication, auto theft, driving without a licence, driving while intoxicated, resisting arrest, destruction of private property, destruction of public property, assault, and several other less serious charges," Wardlow said, and paused while Jack considered the list.
Steve slouched in the metal chair at the officer's desk, and scowled at the blank wall directly ahead of him, the alcohol still in his system made his eyes heavy and unfocussed.
"What's come over you, Steve. You've always been such a good boy," his mother said, sniffling and dabbing at the nose with a tissue.
The sergeant began again, "I spoke with Judge Wilson. He said, since this is the first time your son has been delinquent, we can release him into your care, without bail. But you will be held legally accountable for his actions while in such care until trial. If you don't want to take him, some parents like to let them stew in the cell for a while, we will transfer him to juvenal hall, later today."
"Well, Steve," his father said, "what do you have to say for yourself?"
"Are you gonna leave me here," he slurred?
Jack felt flush with anger. Here his son sat, serious charges against him, and all he had to say was, "are you gonna leave me here."
Furious, Jack stood up suddenly and asked, "what do I do, where do I sign to get him released?"
He signed the appropriate papers and soon had his son supported between himself and his wife on the way to the car. Steve slumped in the back seat and was snoring even before they had left hte parking lot. The drive home was long and silent. Jack fumed and ranted while Sheila stared silently out the passenger window.
Steve was slightly more sober by the time they sat at the kitchen table, each with a cup of coffee, father and son stared one another down. It had been may years since all three of them had sat together at this table.
"Steve," Jack growled at his son, "what on earth were you thinking? You got drunk, stole a car, and tried to out run the police when they tried to pull you over. I thought you were a smarter kid than that."
The coffee in his cup made little circular waves as Jack clenched it and shook with expanding rage.
"What was I thinking?" Steve spat the words at his father. "I was thinking what a dull uneventful life I have. I go to school, I sit in class all day, and come home and watch tv. Nothing happens around here. But then you wouldn't know, you're never around to see that."
Jack ignored the jab at his lack of presence in the home and made his own attack, "so you get drunk? That's supposed to create some excitement?"
"Yeah, that's what I though." Steve came alive. "Drinking seems to work for you."
"Well, That's because I'm an adult," his father countered, "with age comes the maturity and self control to know when you've had enough, and drink responsibly."
"Sure Dad," Steve said and stood, leaned on the back of hte chair he had just vacated, and sneered. "You call your drinking responsible? Like at the New Years party, and the Christmas party before that, and thanksgiving, and every other holiday you use for an excuse to get wasted?"
Steve wavered a bit as he looked quickly from his father to his mother and back.
Jack looked at Sheila as well to see she had gone quite pale.
Before he could open his mouth in rebuttal, Steve started in again, "You have so much maturity when you drink that you don't even notice how loud and obnoxious you get. You talk and laugh like you think your Jay Leno and everyone in the audience is hanging on your every word. And the jokes aren't even funny. When you talk to people you call everyone by their first name, and you use thier names with every sentence, like you have to keep reminding yourself who these people are. Or maybe you're afraid they'll think your as boring as you really are and will walk away if you don't keep calling them back."
Steve took a breath and squeezed his eyes shut as if trying to clear them.
"Then you start grabbing the women," he said and pointed at his mother without looking at her, "You do it right in front of mom. Right in front of her, and she laughs. But her eyes don't laugh. No, her eyes are crying, and you won't even notice, because your too mature, and too responsible, and too drunk to see it."
Steve turned and walked toward his bedroom, supporting himself with one hand on the wall. He said, before he left hte kitchen, "the people in the movies drink more responsibility than you do, and they're criminals and murderers."
Steve laughed a dry humorless sound and stumbled away, down the hallway. He shouted over his shoulder, "Now I'm a criminal, too. I wish I could just go live in a movie and get away from you."
They could hear Steve fumbling with the lock at his door for some time.
Jack was astonished by his sons behavior. "Can you believe that boy?" He said and looked to his wife for support for his rising indignation. She kept her eyes lowered and refused to look at him.
Down the hall, the television from Steve's room was suddenly loud and then muffled again as he finally opened the door and then closed it behind himself.

You can take the girl out of Gotham, but good luck getting Gotham out of the Girl
By Ashley Redden

Mayor Walt ‘The Bruiser’ Kagan wiped at imaginary filth from the starched white lapel of his suit. Everywhere Walt looked sparkled green. The plant life had really started to grow around here. Some of the lower buildings were already covered by the stuff. Walt knew that all this vine growth in the end was most likely his doing, what he didn’t know was why. But in the end why’s didn’t matter either. In the end, all that really mattered were results.
The scowl that coated his round face was anything but imaginary. The Mayor was not used to waiting on anyone, let alone someone who worked for him. The distasteful fact that he now stood in the middle of the South Yards only added to his discomfort.
If the city of Poulsonville had a slum, then the South Yards certainly fit the bill. The Mayor had remade his town into his own image, pristine in appearance, solid in structure and severe in personality, for this city just like any other, did have a definite personality. Mayor Kagan had taken a bankrupt town, one beaten down into submission and turned it into a mecca, though not in the usual sense, but a mecca nonetheless.
The city had once been shiny and new like most things when young, but corruption and bad business deals piled one atop the other had essentially killed the city. When Walt ‘The Bruiser’ Kagan arrived at town hall on his first visit, some stupid thug had attempted a carjacking on his Lincoln. Obviously, these people had no idea who they were messing with.
One of Walt’s henchmen, Lonnie ‘The Thumb’, had made short work of the guy. Walt would have been surprised if the carjacker had survived. He had never bothered to check.
Lonnie ‘The Thumb’ was so named for his propensity for breaking thumbs whether they needed breaking or not. Lonnie may kill you, but he would without a doubt break both of your thumbs in several places before doing so. Walt figured everyone needed a hobby and Lonnie’s fit into his work nicely, so Walt never complained. Besides, a man that found enjoyment in his work was a more productive employee, or so Walt’s philosophy went.
The other henchman could only be described as the polar opposite of Lonnie. Johnson, not even Walt knew the man’s first name, went by no other street moniker. Where Lonnie was tall and broad, Johnson was slim to the point of being anemic. He stood just under six feet in height, a full two to three inches below Lonnie, but for some reason always appeared taller. Lonnie operated as the tuff, while Johnson served as the brains of the pair. Walt could point those two in a direction and forget about it.
Walt had rolled into Poulsonville with a plan. He and his two lieutenants had executed that plan to perfection. Walt had first gotten himself elected mayor of Poulsonville, then went about procuring city rights to the property that was for the most part either in disrepair due to abandonment or well on its way in that direction.
For the next step Walt needed industry, but he concentrated on industries that were generally shunned by other cities.
The one industry tailor made for this project turned out to be herbicide production. After all there were always going to be crops right? And there would always be weeds growing and choking out those crops right? And add to that a sweet government contact and not long after Walt found himself rolling in the money..
So most of the city had been razed piecemeal and replaced with chemical manufacturing facilities to produce the herbicides and adequate housing for the new workers. Of course all this new building had greatly increased the taxation coffers of the city. And of course Walt had a deep tap there as well.
After all Walt ‘The Bruiser’ Kagan was a business man and business wouldn’t be business without a little corruption. Or, in this case…a lot. Most of those that lived in Poulsonville had then gone to work for one of the new chemical plants.
The one problem that neither of his lieutenants could get a handle on was all the bums. Transients, squatters, dispossessed and homeless seemed to spew forth from every nook and cranny down in the South Yards. Walt was beginning to fret that he would have to slaughter the whole lot of them, and he had no idea how many there were, just that they must have been breeding like rats because they were everywhere.
It wasn’t that he had any problem with issuing orders to have people killed; the problem was more of the potential for exposure. The title of ‘The Bruiser’ was certainly not an honorific. Walt Kagan had very much earned his moniker in his early days in Gotham City. No, he had no problem with violence be it justified or not. But problems with the cops were another subject entirely. Generating the interest of law enforcement from outside of Poulsonville was one situation that Walt could do without.
He was almost to the point of having his guys raise an army and burn the whole damn place down when she showed up. Walt remembered it like it was yesterday. He was sitting at his desk on the 25th floor of the Kagan industrial building. The mayor’s office had appropriated the entire floor.
He had just thrown a very expensive, and purportedly very rare, small round vase that had sat upon his desk in the service of a paperweight. Walt’s blood was up about something, he didn’t remember nor really care in particular what, so he had tossed, no check that, flung the vase at Johnson. Johnson, of course, had the good sense to duck. Walt distinctly remembered the satisfying sound of the vase smashing into the far wall.
That was when the door opened, seemingly by itself, and in strode a gorgeous tall red head. She walked like a woman to be reckoned with, but that was all body language and what a body she had. The pantsuit that she sported, or thought Walt, sported her, fit as though it had been made for its wearer.
She wore her hair down and though it had obviously been fixed, her dark auburn locks seemed unruly, as if it were a wild creature with many parts that refused to be completely tamed. She strode up to the mayors desk a casual smile lifted onto her full lips and stopped, folded her arms over her bosom and said, “So, I hear you have a transient problem.”
The mayor blinked, for a moment completely speechless. He wasn’t even sure how this broad got onto his floor much less knew about his bum problem. He was saved from his speechlessness by a loud throat clearing ehem from his immediate right.
The woman looked over at Lonnie, who stood to the right of the Mayor’s desk and frowned. Lonnie’s eyes were traveling up and down her person as if she were a main thoroughfare. He cleared his throat again as a nasty smile accompanied his leer.
Not taking her eyes off of Lonnie, the woman said, “Did I come to the wrong place or are you looking to get rid of some squatters?”
“Actually, we are,” answered the Mayor finally finding his voice. “And…who might you be?”
She looked back at Walt and her face blossomed with a sincerely bright smile. She said, “My name is Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley, I’m a botanist. You can call me Pamela or Dr. Isley whichever you prefer.
Lonnie drawled, “Pamela is it, well…I am sooooo very pleased to meet you.”
Pamela frowned as she looked back at Lonnie, the color of distaste washed again across her beautiful face. She answered Lonnie directly, “You may call me Dr. Isley or better yet, not at all.”
Lonnie made as though he was going to jaw back when Walt cut him off, “Lonnie, shut up.”
Pamela looked back at the Mayor and smiled anew. She continued, “So, like I said, I hear you have a transient problem. I am here to offer my services.”
The Mayor blinked, “You can get rid of the bums?”
“But, how?”
“Well,” said Pamela, “That’s my problem. I’m guessing that you are not a man that concerns himself overly much with the gears of the process. You look to me to be a man who’s primarily concerned with results. You expect results, probably demand them and that’s just what I can offer, results.”
Walt smiled, he didn’t know who this broad was, but despite himself he was starting to like her. He answered, “You’ve got me there. So, to acquire your services in this matter, what would be required?”
Pamela beamed. She said, “Why, nothing much. Just simply allow me to remove the population of the South Yards in my own manner and ask no questions.”
Walt frowned, “I don’t understand.”
“Of course you do. You need the space without the people who, like cockroaches, just won’t seem to be good little children and die off or leave. Me, well, I certainly have no need of nor designs on the land, but do have a significant need of warm bodies that can, shall we say, disappear without a trace.” Pamela looked at her nails as she finished, “We all have our little secret projects, now don’t we?”
She looked again into the Mayor’s eyes and said, “So, Walt, what’s it going to be?”
The Mayor’s eyes hardened at the use of his name in such a cavalier manner and asked, “How long?”
“One month and no one goes in or out. I’ll clean the place up by then. On the first day of May, meet me at the South Yards for the conclusion of our business. I promise you won’t be disappointed.”
The Mayor said, “Okay, you’ve got a month and we won’t bother you down there, we’ve got plenty to keep us busy with the day job. The first of May at the South Yards, see you there.”
The Mayor didn’t offer his hand, but it didn’t seem to faze Pamela. She smiled brightly and turning on her heels, cast a final lecherous glance Lonnie’s way and strode out of the office never once glancing towards Johnson. The door shut behind her.
Lonnie said breathlessly, “Boss, you gotta hook me up with that. Wow, what a woman. You know I gotta thing for redheads.”
Walt frowned and said, “You got a thing for every color in the book.”
Lonnie grinned like the Cheshire Cat; Johnson as usual wore a look of indifference.
Walt continued, “Don’t worry. When the deal is done, whether she gets rid of those bums or not, you can have her. Someone needs to teach the doc some manners.”
Lonnie sighed and said, “Yeah and I’m just the guy to do it.”
Walt and Lonnie laughed; Johnson stood to the side appearing as aloof and unconcerned as ever.

Snapping back to the present, Walt frowned and wiped his lapel again and stared daggers at the vines covering the nearest building. Something about the plant growth made him uneasy. Sporadically throughout the snarl of growth, dark red fruits could just be seen peeking out. The fruits seemed to be of different sizes from grapefruit to basketball sized.
Though Walt couldn’t be sure, but every time he looked back at that building, the vines that covered it seemed to have shifted, to have moved and rearranged. He shook his head ridding himself of the crazy thought. Though he did have to wonder at the purpose of all the vine growth, he had to admit that he was quite surprised at the absence of bums. This was the first time that he had heard of anyone coming near the South Yards and not being inundated by beggars. He had no idea what she had done with the bums, but they sure seemed to be gone.
“Hey Boss,” called Lonnie from the hood of the sedan he had driven to the meeting. “Look who just showed up.”
Walt turned and sure enough here came Dr. Pamela Isley striding confidently from in-between two vine covered buildings. The two-piece outfit she had on today was far more casual than when he had seen her a month ago but certainly no less striking. Despite himself, Walt thought, what a woman.
She walked to within about ten feet of both cars and stopped. Pamela smiled and said, “Looks like the Yards are yours again Mr. Mayor.”
Walt commented, “Looks like.” He shifted uncomfortably; for some crazy reason these stupid plants were making him nervous. But once the broad had left, he had several different chemical manufacturing facilities at his beck and call that made stuff to kill vines just like these. Let the broad garden all she wanted in the South Yards, with the bums gone, he would kill these plants to the root and then get rid of the rest of these trashy buildings. Progress marched on no matter what.
He couldn’t help himself, he just had to know. So Walt asked, “What’s up with all the plants?”
“Uh uh uh, remember our deal? No questions asked.”
“Right, well it was good to see you again doctor and thank you for helping with my little problem here. Now that those bums are out of the way, we can expand southward without any problems.” He smiled brilliantly, “Soon, we’ll corner the market on herbicides. We’ll kill more plants worldwide than smallpox.” Walt laughed as he seemed to think this statement hilarious, but his laughter was short lived as no one joined in. Pamela didn’t laugh but her eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
Walt said, “Again, thanks doc. But I have to be getting back. Got a business to run you know worlds to conquer as it were.” Walt lifted his hand in a gesture to Lonnie and continued,” Lonnie here will wrap up our business deal. Good luck doctor.” Under his breath he said, “You’re gonna need it.” Then he got into his Lincoln, Johnson closed the door, entered as well, cranked the car and spun out. Within a minute, Pamela and Lonnie were all alone.
Pamela smiled at Lonnie who smiled back cracking his knuckles. Lonnie said, “So what was it that you said I should call you? Was it Pam or Pammy or hot stuff or maybe something else, hmmm?”
Before Lonnie could say another word, Pamela strode up to him and to his astonishment placed both of her arms around his neck, closed her eyes and planted a big wet kiss straight onto his mouth. Lonnie was too shocked to respond, he’d been expecting her to run, counting on it, really looking forward to the chase.
She leaned back, opened her bright eyes and smiled. Seeing the doc this close in the daylight, her eyes sparkling like emeralds sent a shock of excitement through Lonnie’s body. He placed both of his hands onto her mid section and shook his head slightly as a small wave of dizziness washed over him. He noticed that he had developed a mild tingle in his lips.
It was past time to show this one who was boss, so Lonnie squeezed her midsection, not hard enough to break anything, but more than hard enough to get her attention and wipe that smug look off of her face. The problem was, his hands had stopped working, he squeezed and nothing happened. Another wave of dizziness blasted Lonnie.
Pamela removed her hands from his neck and placed both palms onto his chest and ever so gently pushed. Lonnie fell like a tree, stiff and silent and straight to the ground.
Smiling, Pamela removed a small bag from a pants pocket and after a short bit of digging, removed what appeared to be a lip gloss tube. She removed the top and swiveled out the gloss then puckered her full lips and ran the gloss over both, top then bottom. After placing the tube back into her bag, she returned it to her pocket.
Pamela then removed a handkerchief, folded it in two and placed it between her slightly open lips and pressed. Then, she placed the handkerchief onto Lonnie’s chest, tapped it twice and stood back smiling. Somewhere behind Pamela, Lonnie could sense movement; the movement seemed to be something large.
“Not exactly the tryst you had in mind eh?” asked Pamela as she smiled down at him. To Lonnie’s astonishment, two large plants lumbered up beside the doc. The plants stood on either side of the doctor, huge green trunks, as if hundreds of smaller trunks had been twisted to form the one large trunk maybe ten feet in height. From the top of the trunk to the bottom, vines sprung outward at all angles. At the base sat a huge upright jug or fruit or something that was deep red with a top that opened and closed.
Pamela said, “The lovely creatures that you see before you used to be called rat eating pitcher plants. Actually, they ate mostly bugs only the occasional rat. But with a bit of bioengineering, well, a lot actually, I’ve scaled them up and given them mobility. My friends here will rid this foul place of inhabitants and then I have some other specially designed botanicals that will destroy Poulsonville, once and for all.”
She leaned closer her eyes taking on the harsh glow of fanaticism and said,” In a week or two, there will be no more Poulsonville. This crummy city will never kill another plant again.”
Standing back up she wrinkled her nose and said, “The poison from my lips won’t kill you outright, though you may well wish that it had. The digestion process takes a couple of days to really get going good so I wouldn’t want to be you right about now.
Mammals have always eaten plants and plants have always been eaten, it’s a very old dynamic. But the dynamic in Poulsonville has just changed and salad is no longer the only thing on the menu.”
Pamela stood and walked away. After a few steps she stopped and turned. Lonnie could just see her head in a halo of glowing auburn hair straddled by two huge bulbous jugs the tops opening and closing with a small wet pop as the great plants moved towards him. To his horror, he could just make out what appeared to be a dingy shoe lace hanging from one of the jugs.
Pamela said, “By the way, you asked what you could call me? Call me Poison Ivy.” She smiled, turned and strode from the scene. Lonnie could not cry out, Poison Ivy had seen to that. She left and didn’t give him a second thought, after all who cares about plant food?