Off You Go, Martin!

“Martin! Martin! Urgent! Get over here!” Gordon screamed into the telephone. “Get over here now!” He slammed the telephone on to the receiver.

Gordon shook his arms violently. “This is big! This is big!”

The man facing him on the other side of the desk was smiling from ear to ear. “I’m glad that you’re so glad, Gordon,” he said. “I knew you’d be happy. I knew it.”

“Happy!? By Jove, I’m ecstatic! Just wait until Martin hears what you just told me!”

“Oh, Martin’s going to love it too, I’m sure.”

“Love it!? By Jove, he’s going to be out of his socks! He’s going to be out of his drawers! His coat will be out of the window, I tell you!” Gordon cackled mightily. “Ooooh!” He rubbed his hands together and puckered his lips. “This is big, Jeremy!”

Martin burst through the door, his suit jacket flailing around as if caught in a windstorm. “What’s going on, Gordon?”

“Martin!” Gordon’s bushy eyebrows were in his hairline. “Just listen to what Jeremy just told me!”

“What’s that, Gordon?”

“Just listen!”

Jeremy stood up from the chair he had just seconds before sat down in. He patted down his shirt. He brushed off his pants. He adjusted his cuffs, one after the other. A sheepishness had overtaken him. He looked down at the floor.

“Jeremy!” Gordon was jumping up and down in the air. “Jeremy! Tell Martin what you just told me!” He looked at Martin again. “You’re going to love this, Martin! Your coat’s gonna go flying out the window!”

Martin began taking his arms out of his coat. “What is it!?” He ran over to the window.

“Ooooh, Jeremy! Jeremy! Tell him!”

Jeremy sat down again, drumming on his lap with his hands. He was smiling so hard it was impossible. “Well, Martin…” His drumming was in triple-time. Gordon began to waltz. “I was just telling Gordon here…” Gordon screamed in the highest pitch he could muster.

“Gordon! I’m trying to listen!” yelled Martin, struggling with the bolt on the window.

Jeremy continued. “I knew Gordon was going to love this. I knew it was big. I didn’t realize how big, but the way Gordon is reacting, well, I guess it’s pretty big.”

“You better believe it! You better believe it!” said Gordon.

Martin had one leg out the window.

“Step down from there, Martin! Martin!” Gordon made a flapping, beckoning gesture with his right hand.

Martin looked down at his leg, and stepped back inside. “Sorry. I was trying to listen to Jeremy and I forgot what I was doing.”

“Screw your head on, Martin! You’re going to need your head for this. You’re going to need every neuron in that beautiful brain of yours. This is going to send you flying out the window! This is going to send you into the stratosphere! You’re going to be Halley’s Comet, Martin!”

Jeremy burst forth in a loud voice. He explained to Martin exactly what he had explained to Gordon, in twice as many words and twice as fast. It all came out in a single breath, and when he was done, he collapsed on to the floor, his eyes rolling back in his head.

Martin’s coat was floating down towards the busy New York streets. Gordon’s head burst through the floor of the conference room upstairs, startling a tableful of bespectacled men. Lava poured out of his ears. Jeremy lay perfectly still on the floor, white as a sheet. His face shew unparalleled ecstasy.

Aflame in the atmosphere, Martin reached speeds immeasurable.





  • a project designed to uncover the new beauty
  • a project for fun and beauty
  • let’s recapture the MAGIC and love ourselves


  • I am going to write it
  • I am going to believe in myself, that I can do it


  • my old projects are not beautiful
  • my old projects are also old
  • i am sick and tired of old not-beautiful projects


  • now and in the future


  • inside of my heart
  • later on, in your mind
  • on this website



  • dragons are involved in the new beautiful project
  • there is something about dragons: they have pride
  • their pride is why they fell from godhood
  • do they regret this? or are they fine with it?



  • this will have to happen
  • if this does not happen, new beautiful project will not exist
  • new beautiful project already exists
  • therefore, this will happen



  • more work is necessary
  • we’ve got the foundations down


How to Make Friends

dear balckwell,

my name is jeremy from the state of massachusetts. i’ve been living here in massachusetts for seven and a half years. i just turned twenty two years old, and yet, i don’t know anyone anywhere. i used to know some people but then i forgot about them, and i can’t find their names anywhere. that was around a year ago. i would like to make some new friends, but i don’t know how. if you have any tips for not forgetting my friends once i get them, that would also be helpful.

john (that’s a fake name)


Hi John!

This is an interesting question. Enough readers have written in with variations on this question that I’m starting to wonder where they got the impression that I have friends. I do have friends; it’s just that I’m not sure where I ever mentioned it. I have also begun to wonder how I made the friends I have. Perhaps, if I can come to understand that, I can begin to help my readers who come to me for advice on this topic.

By my definition, I would say that I have ten friends, plus one potential friend who I haven’t met yet. Outside of these ten friends, there are some people who, if encountered at the right level of inebriation, I might call “my friend” or “my buddy.” However, they’re not really my friends. They’re just people that I know.

I have one friend of 20 years, three friends of 11 years, three friends of 5 years, 2 friends of 4 years, and one friend of 3 years. I guess it’s been a while since I made a friend.

For the record, if anyone is wondering, The Imp is not my friend. I want to make that explicitly clear.

I made four of these friends in high school. I made three of these friends by living in a college dorm with them. I made one friend at work. I made one friend by him being a brother of a previous friend. I made another friend by her being a friend of the Imp (who, I repeat, is not my friend.)

I would say that the friend I made at work is the only friend I made on purpose. How I did it was I showed up at work, and waited for him to talk to me. When he had talked to me enough, I started talking to him too. Then, I left that job and didn’t talk to him for a year. After that year, he messaged me on Facebook. So that’s how I got that friend.

Okay. I think, after some analysis, I have come upon a couple of pointers for how to make friends.

1) Show Up at the Same Place at Around the Same Time

A great way to make friends is to be in constant proximity with someone who you might like for a few months, maybe a year or two. This could be at school, at work, or even at home if you happen to be roommates. Eventually, if you are near them a lot, you will find it necessary to say something to them. If you’re at work, you might say, “Do we have any more potatoes?” If you’re at school, you might say, “What class is this again?” If you’re at home, you might say, “Where’s the salt?” If you have enough mundane conversations, it is statistically likely that, eventually, one of you might make a joke. If both parties find the joke compatible with their humour, a friendship will begin to sprout. From there, friendships have a mind of their own.

If you’re impatient, or have no reason to talk to the person, you might have to take matters into your own hand by speaking unnecessarily. If you’re at school, you could say, “Hey, you dropped your pen.” When they look for it, you could say, “Oh, maybe I was mistaken.” If you’re at work, you could say, “Hey do you work tomorrow?” If they ask why you asked, you say, “Oh, no reason. I just wanted to know.” If you’re at home, you could ask them what they think of the house or apartment the two of you live in. You share common ground, after all.

Here are a few more lines for various situations:



“Hump day, am I right?” – NB: Only works on Wednesdays (and some Thursdays, depending on the country.)


“Hey, mi casa es su casa.”

2) Ask Your Friends to Bring Their Friends

This an advanced manouevre, because you need to make at least one initial friend first, and that friend needs to have at least one friend other than you. This won’t work for you, John, since you don’t have any friends yet, but if you do happen to make a friend or two who have at least one other friend, this will become a viable option.

There are several ways to make this happen. One way is to plan an activity that requires three or more people, and then say, “Well, [friend], I don’t know enough people to make this work, but I’ve already bought the tickets, so it’s up to you to bring some of your friends too.” This shifts the obligation to your friend to bring their friends, and you can sit back and reap the rewards.

Making these new people into your friend can be difficult. Some of the tactics from step one won’t work, because you will be meeting them less often. My advice is to be cool, be calm, and take things in stride.


This is something I also have struggled with in the past. Here are some tips that I have implemented in my own life.


A list is a great way to remember anything. Whenever you make a new friend, write their name down in a notebook, along with a brief physical description, and a few notes about how you met, what they like to do, etc. This way, anytime you’re unsure about what friends you have, you can check back on the list and remember. If possible, write down their address, or some form of contact, so that you don’t end up in a position where you can’t find where they are. Having a friend who you can’t find is no better than having no friend at all.


Your brain is a collection of interconnected neurons. The more connections a neuron has, the more easy it is to recall the information contained in said neuron. So a good way to remember people is to associate them with common concepts or objects. For example, you could associate your friend Brian with the colour blue, so any time you see something blue, you think of Brian, and remember that he is your friend. Or you could associate cookies with your friend Kirkencott, so that any time you eat a cookie, or buy cookies at the grocery store, you remember Kirkencott, and perhaps think about calling him or sending him a text.


A schedule means that you will meet with friends whether you like it or not. If you say to Sam, “Let’s meet at the discotheque every Sunday,” and then write “Discotheque” on each Sunday of your calendar, you will end up finding Sam at the discotheque every Sunday (providing you follow the schedule on your calendar.) Even easier is to tell Joe, “Hey, come over every Saturday and we will play Shogi.” That way, Joe will simply show up at your house each week with his Shogi board, and you won’t have to remember anything at all. If Joe shows up and you don’t recognize him, just play it cool, and it’s probable that you’ll be able to become friends again fairly easily.


Well John, I hope this helps you out. Good luck.

Balckwell Manifesto #4 – January, 2021

I find that I spend much less time nowadays thinking of my past. It used to be that I would spend hours of days recreating past circumstances, trying to return to my mind those lost emotions – emotions which felt so much more real than their present counterparts, due to their being frozen in time, encased in an immovable bubble that provided them solidity and clarity, as opposed to the malleability and transience that characterizes the here and now. My past is, in essence, a work of fiction, that I may read at my own leisure, while my current life is a manuscript, a work-in-progress, the writing of which brings with it the struggle and pain of creation. I am, these days, more of a writer than a reader, if you will. I remain an avid reader, but now I read not so much for escape but for inspiration. I read because the more I allow beautiful words and ideas into my mind, the more it becomes a rich, flowering garden, from which I may pluck delicious fruits as I laze within its luxurious grounds – fruits that provide the foundations for Works of which I will one day be so fond.

As it stands right now, these Works are but a pain in my side, a bee in my bonnet, and a sword in my back. My goal is to become one of the greatest writers to ever live. This is, of course, pure vanity. I often say that I lack ambition, but I find that I must now reveal the truth, which is that I aspire to a glory so high and vaunted as to possibly not even exist. Perhaps it is as they say, and the Age of the Novel is over. If this is the case, so be it. This fact changes nothing of the ferocity with which I approach my mission. In fact, its impossibility only increases its honour in my eyes.

I am a writer of novels. It is not my job; it is not my hobby. It is my vocation. I would not go as far as to say that it is what I am best at; instead, I would say that it is the only thing I am capable of doing. Over the years of my life, it has become increasingly clear to me that any other course is impossible. This is not to say that in some alternative reality, such courses may not have made me happy, or been met with success. In certain circumstances, I am sure that I could competently perform a wide variety of activities. However, in the specific circumstances that make up my existence on this planet, at this time in its lifespan, all these courses are closed to me. It is nothing about my social or economic position that bars me; it is instead some aspect of my own mind. Perhaps it has been poisoned, or perhaps it alone contains an antidote that frees me from other poisons – either way, due to what 19th century doctors might describe as my “nervous disorder,” or 21st century psychologists might describe as my “mental illness,” I find myself woefully ill-prepared for the lifestyle that many might term “normal.” For many years, I blamed this on my own stupidity.

Well, the words that we use inside of our head have immense power, and this word “stupidity” brought with it a self-restraining paralysis that was of no use to anybody, least of all myself. Nowadays, I choose not to call myself stupid. I do not call myself anything at all. I simply accept that I am the way that I am, and repeat to myself the adage: “It takes all kinds to make the world go round.” My kind, I admit, is one whose usefulness for maintaining the rotation of the Earth is difficult to recognize, but I, like many others, take the word ‘all’ to mean ‘each and every one,’ and logically speaking, this must necessarily include my kind as well.

All this is to say that I no longer consider it my duty to spend quite so much time reflecting on my life in order to determine what, exactly, “my problem” is. This time I now spend trying to determine what “my problem” will be – i.e. what disastrous circumstances might befall me in the future and make it readily apparent that my decision to make no money and forego the “building of a career” is a foolish one. This is futile time wasted, I know, and it is one of my primary short-term goals to eradicate such thoughts completely, allowing myself to focus exclusively on the composition of my Works.

‘What Works are these, exactly?’ you may ask. You may look around this website and see no works able to justify such an audacious renunciation of civil duty, instead seeing exclusively the confused, amateurish writings of a young man with an overblown sense of his own importance. In which case, you may chalk this entire project up to simple egoism! Well! I can’t help but admit that this judgement is a sound and reasonable one! All I can say in my defence is that a man’s life has the potential to be quite long, and I am trying my best to continually improve. If I fail in my goal of becoming one of the greatest writers to ever live, I consider that failure a more worthwhile use of a lifetime than success in any other pursuit. If I die having contributed nothing of artistic value to the universe, I will at least be able to say that I did no harm, and on top of that, I managed, at times, to enjoy myself.

I believe wholeheartedly that the creation of Beautiful Works is in itself a positive act, and that such an act is the most positive that I, as myself, can perform. This is not to the neglect of more tangible acts, such as being affectionate and generous towards my loved ones, and to a lesser extent, the entire portion of the human population that I come into contact with. My egoism does not extend to the social sphere; I consider it my duty as a responsible human being to behave in a virtuous manner towards whomever I am able. I love everyone. I love everyone, although many are twisted, evil, malicious creatures, and the structures and systems they create facilitate wickedness on a scale that no single individual could possible conceive. I can not help but be a human being, and as such, I can not help but feel a certain amount of love for all other human beings. I hope that you can understand.

It is on this note that I end this update to the ever-evolving Balckwell Manifesto. It is my hope that this document will continue to grow and change over the years, reflecting the contents of my soul and the system by which I govern my actions. I extend a hearty Happy New Year to all denizens of the Soup Web, and many happy returns. My greatest hope is that I can one day do you all proud

– Balckwell


“I have never seen these people before, and I know not who they are.”

“They are the people you once were, in a past world. They live in your apartment building with you, but they keep from your sight like rats in a cave, appearing before you only on days such as today, when you have proven yourself to be resolute and pure of heart. They appear before you as a reward: the reward is the reminder of how far you have come. Seeing where you were lifts your spirits, and confirms that the way you have chosen is correct. To be virtuous, to be pure of heart, to be free from Gravity, is the course that leads to an especial glorified blessed existence among the stars.

Those shadows you see: when they are alone, they say, “Zoom up!” and they zoom, and are burned in the fires of the atmosphere, and their bones they burn too, and are blackened and sent down to Earth again as soot, dark as a moonless night. Their way is perverse and horrid, and they seek to make it to the starry world as by a shortcut.

Be not like them, my young friend, but stay your course. Though it seem difficult, though it seem trying, and though it seem that Gravity pushes you down at a rate of approx. 9m/s², the truth is that your path is the easiest and most fruitful.”

My Moustache

One of the great features of my life is that I have structured it such that I can grow a moustache with impunity. No one dares defy my right to grow a moustache, and I have been met with great support from all sides since the day of its coronation. That being said, I did not grow a moustache in order to reap admiration; no, I grew my moustache because I felt that it would help me to define a marked change in my attitude and behaviour towards the strange mishap that is life on earth. This it has done, and so much so that I believe the great scholars who in the future take it upon themselves to write my biographies will have no choice but to divide them into two sections: pre-moustache and moustache. Of course, this implies the fact – which, while it might easily be left unsaid, might just as easily be said – that this moustache is here to stay. Make no mistake about it, friends! There is no end for this moustache but my grave!

Continue reading “My Moustache”

Hokey-Bokey: An Introduction

Hokey-Bokey: Throwing it All Away

Throw away your memories, and all that lies in your past!
Throw away your dreams, and all that lies in your future!
Throw away your worries, and all that contaminates your present!
Make ice! It’s all nice on ice, alright!

The time has come to Deny the Earth, and thus, it is time for Hokey-Bokey.

What must be done? Ah, well there we go – but also, there we gon’t. Must?
What should be done? Ah, well there we go – but also, there we gon’t. Should?

Hokey-Bokey is a philosophy with only one rule, and that rule is: Always give up!
Hokey-Bokey is a philosophy with only one motto, and that motto is: Deny the Earth!
Hokey-Bokey is a philosophy with only one suggestion, and that suggestion is: Be yourself!


What you are aiming for cannot be achieved! That which you seek is beyond your reckoning! Look around you! Why are you striving when there is so much sitting to be done!? The Master said: ‘A true sage ignores that, and chooses this.’


Did you ever want something so badly that it made you sick? Was that thing, perhaps, a papaya? Do you know how much those cost around here? Maybe it’s best to forget about it.


Have you ever felt that love is more trouble than its worth? Alas, my friend, it seems you’ve never been in love.


Here I sit, awaiting a promotion. With a promotion comes power; and with power, comes money; and with money, comes power. With enough power, I could give myself a promotion! With enough money, I could quit my job!


‘Ahhhhhh’, you say. ‘Ahhhhhhhh!’ Okay, okay! I’ll listen – just stop screaming!


My father used to expect things of me. He’d say, ‘Aren’t you going to do this? Aren’t you going to do that?’ It made me weep and gnash my teeth. I decided, ‘I’m doing nothing!’ and off I went. ‘I’m happy!’ I screamed. But still, ‘Aren’t you going to do this? Aren’t you going to do that?’ The words rang in my ears.

I didn’t do this, and I didn’t do that. No, I did some other thing. When I’d finished, my father said: ‘That’s the ticket!’


I started something that I couldn’t finish. And now it sits there, incomplete. It’s missing its… What was it missing again? I don’t see anything.


Balance your dreams atop a high perch, and let them crash all over you. A dream ‘comes true,’ so they say, when you are playing in its wreckage.


Phew! It’s over! And I thought that was going to continue until the day I died! It’s over now! And I’m only half-dead.


‘This has to be done. It must be done. It can not not be done. There is no way for it not to be done! Doing it is a necessity. It is required that it be done. It must. It has to! Stop! You ought to do it! It is best for it to be done! It would be greatly appreciated! Where are you going! Wait! It would benefit us all for it to be done! It’s not too hard! Come back!’


And he stood atop his dusty mountain, and stared down at all that lived and breathed in this century and those to come. He saw it all, and he leapt, arms outstretched.


LOVE! Love is the power! They don’t understand that it is LOVE that makes it all possible!


No, do not fear the earth, and do not hate the Earth – Deny the Earth! With fear and hate the Earth spins its web around you. Deny it! The Earth has no power over me, for I do not recognize it!


‘But the trees are shining, and the birds are calling!’ Exactly! I did not ask you to deny birds, did I!?


Behold! The man whose photograph you are looking at – this is a man who takes no pictures, and would not be caught dead appearing in one!


An App? You call this an App? Well, I’m still hungry! Where’s the main course?


‘Is your goal not to change minds – to purge others of their latent, dangerous beliefs? Why, then, do you act as if the mind is immutable – that it cannot be changed?’ So says Falsital of Wizzeroth.


Take from Earth what little you need – you will treat it better than Earth ever did. You are rescuing it! I say, take what you need and cherish it! And then… then there is nothing left to do!


A man far away screams from a mountaintop.

‘Stop it!’ I yell.


Well, then. I suppose I’ll just listen to something else.


And there, across the sky, burning hotter than a thousand suns, stood that grand Castle, and within it, the people of God slept. Slept to dream a million dreams, of torments and passions, and of retribution. The world around burned with a crazed fire, but within those walls, not a sound of it could be heard!


‘Become a mechanism!’ they cry, papers flying out of their pockets. ‘Become a mechanism and it is easy!’


‘Don’t try too hard,’ she said.

‘It’s okay – I wasn’t trying at all!’


Fame will crash your computer desktop. Fame will knock over your bookshelf. Fame will spill your paints. Fame will drink your water. Fame will sit in your chair. Fame will walk in your shoes. Fame is for scoundrels, and only scoundrels deserve it!


Freedom! This is what we are chasing for – this is why all else must be denied! Freedom! Freedom can only come when that which tries to control you is thrust away! Freedom can only come when you Deny the Earth! Do not let the mind control control your mind. Your mind is deadly; your mind will kill you. Well, I ask, who better to be my murderer!?


You can not help it! It is right there for you to do!


Let’s watch the birds! There they are: Up a tree, down a tree. High in the sky and deep in my dumpster.

‘How I wish’, you might say, ‘how I wish to be like that bird! Flying, hopping, stopping, crying. It is the life for me!’ (You say.) My friend, that bird’s life is not for you. For one, you do not like to get wet, and it is raining out.


He looks like he’s having fun, doesn’t he? Well, me too!


What a miserable sap. Standing there with a grimace on his face. Cheer up, darling! We can’t all be this way!


Thirty minutes a day is all you need
To make your pay, to eat your feed
Why do you always want for more?
You walk the dog, you walk the store
Don’t you know what you are living for?
Haven’t you seen this all before?

You eat your pay, you make your feed
You stomp your hoof, you eat some hay
You’re going somewhere new today!
Why must you always stomp and bray?
Just go along, just come with me
Worry not, take no heed
You are a horse, and nothing else


I can not control the movements of orbs! They roll away from me, and they fall on the floor. They bruise, and then no one will eat them any longer. I won’t apologize – I can not control the movements of orbs!


When I paint a thousand pictures and write a thousand books – inside of this mass, this detritus of my soul, will lie an original work that will prove to you what I was.


He stepped forward, gingerly. “I can’t do this, I can’t do that. It’s harder for me than for some.”

He stepped backwards. “Ah, it’s very difficult.”

He stepped to the side. “Ah, some may find it easy, but not me.”

He jumped in the air. “Great!”


‘Away on a boat! Off to the sea! It is clear: this is the life for me!’
‘My friend, please stop! You fear the sea!’
‘That is not for you to decide! Off I go!’

Sheriff Hamhock and The Yellow Flash

A jolt of yellow light moved about the holster. The Yellow Flash had struck again. The twelfth bell sounded out from the clock tower but high noon had long since passed. Blood had already pooled out around the torso that had toppled and lay splayed in the dirt. The victor slowly sauntered across the beaten road that cut through the town. He was donned in gray from top to bottom which made everything else about him stand out that much more. His revolver was on main display, its handle crafted from a strikingly yellow wood. From that came his moniker. So fast on the draw it was just a yellow flash before it was all over.

He stood over the newly fashioned corpse, a lad no more than seventeen, mouth agape and eyes wide in horror. He looked down at the dead boy and tipped up his hat, exposing some of his dirty blond hair which was more dirt than anything. He put his hands on his hips and let out a theatrical sigh. “Late to your revolver, early to the grave,” the Yellow Flash bellowed, making sure that all the onlookers would hear his words of victory. He looked only to the corpse, he knew all eyes were on him, just as they had been for all of his victories. He fished into his breast pocket and plucked out a silver dollar. He flipped it in the air and caught it, “I suppose it just wasn’t your lucky day kid,” and placed the dollar heads up on the boy’s forehead, leaving his shocked expression as it was.

The Yellow Flash then reached over to the boy’s holster and slid the revolver out with ease. “Couldn’t even get it out of the holster when being stared down by a real man.” He stood and spun the revolver in his hand and whispered to himself, “little fool,” and jammed the barrel of the revolver into the chest of the boy. It messily sunk into the bullet wound, forcing itself into the hole that was too small for it. He withdrew the revolver and held it up to the sky as blood dripped down the barrel and fired it. The bullet that was meant for him launched into the sky, covered in his victim’s blood.

With his routine complete he sauntered on toward the saloon and the undertaker quickly moved to the boy and spoke a prayer under his breath. The Yellow Flash’s grin widened further and further as townsfolk ducked out of his way, a few looking on with reverence. He winked to beautiful women that he would bed in due time. He stared down others who dared to look at him with anything but respect. As he neared the saloon a glint of light struck him in the eye and his grin turned into a dark scowl.

The sheriff stood outside the saloon, his vest struggling to contain his portly belly. His badge was displayed prominently over his heart and it shone with a brilliance that rivalled the flash of the Yellow Flash. But that wasn’t the only thing that shone with brilliance. The sheriff’s hair was like golden hay and billowed out from his hat which itself was a brilliant white. His eyes were a deep black and his stare would cut into a man. He had the red nose of a drunk but never touched a drop. His mouth was small and his teeth gigantic in contrast. His most distinguishing feature however were the two golden shocks of hair that framed his face, a brilliant set of mutton chops that matched the colour of his hair exactly. From that came his moniker, Sheriff Hamhock.

Hamhock stared at the Flash. Hamhock held eye contact with him, boring holes into his face and spit at his feet. Hamhock’s badge caught the sun sending it right into the Flash’s eyes and he put up his arm to shade himself. “You get yourself and that damn badge away from me before things get messy here you cake eating bastard,” Flash spit right back at Hamhock’s feet, trying to still look tough while shying away from the badge’s glint.

Flash’s dancing as he floundered about the badge’s glint made Hamhock lighten his expression, “Ooohwee, look at you boy, can’t even stand the sight of a great lawman without cowering away! Ham ham ham ham ham,” he gruffly chortled.

“Now don’t you try and make fun of me fat man, don’t you see this?” Flash angrily lifted the bloodied revolver, “I’ve got dozens more of these, all covered in the blood of men that thought they could best me. Might be nice to add a lawman’s revolver to the collection.”

“I’ve heard word of you, ‘Yellow Flash’. Roy Bolton from over in Shadestone sent message just the other day that I would have a dandy to deal with. And well, here you are, Irvin Isaacs. One who fancies himself a top tier gunslinger but only deals in tricking young boys who’ve barely held a revolver in their hands to duel. Ham ham ham. It seems you ran away from Roy Bolton with your tail between your legs but you won’t get by me.”

Folk were gathered up in and outside the saloon, giving the two a wide birth and listening on with murmurs. Flash looked about at the onlookers, their expressions changing from fear to smugness. Their sheriff’s words had emblazoned them with more courage than they had had moments before. “All you filthy bastards think you could even put a scratch on me?! Drop your goddamn smiles before I put a hole in every one of you!” Some of the onlookers again shied away but some held strong in their belief of Hamhock.

“They’ll be no need for that boy. It’s going to be you and me. Tomorrow. At high noon. Just like how you like to do your killing with theatrics I myself am quite partial to a showdown with the sun high in the sky.” Hamhock shifted slightly and the sun glinted off his badge again right into Flash’s eyes, but this time he only winced and didn’t shy away.

Flash’s face was boiling as he got angrier and angrier. With his outfit he looked like a beet placed on a stone. “I’d love to oblige you, you old rat bastard! It’s a deal!” he roared. “Now leave me be for the rest of the night, I have whisky to drink and women that can’t wait for my talents. I’ll pop a bullet right through that badge of yours tomorrow,” Flash then leaned into Hamhock and whispered, “then I’ll have my way with this town as I see fit. That’s what they deserve for having a worthless sheriff.” Flash turned away without waiting for Hamhock’s reply, smashing his boot through the saloon doors. “Whisky, now!”

Sheriff Hamhock stood firm, chortling to himself at the Flash’s child-like attitude, “ham ham ham.” He looked about at the townsfolk he held a pledge to protect. “Don’t worry now folks, Irvin Isaacs will be swiftly dealt with tomorrow by none other than myself. Now if he gets up to a ruckus tonight, I’m not far away, I have my eye on him. Sleep easy folks, boys like him got no power ‘round these parts.” With a wink and tip of his hat, Hamhock turned away and made for his office.


The moon hung high in the sky, unimpaired by any sort of cloud cover. Flash looked out the window of his rented room at the saloon, “Goddamn weather, where the hell are the clouds when you need ‘em.” He picked up his satchel and coat and made way out of his room, to the back of the saloon. He pulled his hat down and a bandana up about his mouth. His movements weren’t as swift and sly as he would have liked. With the bulk of his coat and his bags, he stumbled down the stairs. Luckily with all the drinking and singing about the tables and piano he had no trouble slipping away out of sight from the patrons and working girls. He sulked his way around the side of the saloon and peered out past the edge of the building to the main road. The few that would be out and about at this time of night were all already holed up in the saloon in a drunken stupor.

Flash sidled up along his horse and unhitched her, quieting her low whickers by patting her head. He hopped up onto the saddle and quietly began trotting off to the edge of town, away from the sheriff’s office. He made his way along without incident. None had even as much as peaked their heads out as he neared the edge of the town and he could gallop away without needing to worry about Hamhock. His horse trotted on, passing the last building along the main road when a door slammed behind him. The Flash looked back wild-eyed but saw no one. He turned back his head and there was Hamhock, atop his horse, rifle held in his hands. The colour drained from Flash’s face and he put on a gruff voice, trying to pull by the sheriff. “Watch where you’re going there friend, I nearly ran you down.”

Hamhock walked his horse forward, further blocking Flash’s path. The shocks of hair upon his face glowed with the moonlight, along with his badge. “I suppose they were right when they gave you the name Yellow, boy.”

The colour rushed back into Flash’s face so quickly that it gave him a head rush. Flash ripped the bandana down from his face, “What the hell did you just call me you pig suckin’, grease swiggin’, shit swimmin’ rat bastard?!”

Hamhock met Flash’s rage with complete calmness. “You heard what I said Irvin Isaacs. It looks to me like you were skipping town after I challenged you to a duel. So then it would seem you’re taking that name of yours and living up to its real meaning. The Yellow Flash, the man that runs from any fight faster than you can say his name.

“You keep those lies to yourself Hamhock! I always go out for a midnight ride to clear my head before a duel. Now I suppose it won’t matter what you say about me, by noon tomorrow you’ll be dead in the dirt with the filth where you belong!”

“Ham ham ham, oh yes indeed. As long as you stick around for it I’m sure it will be quite the duel Irvin Isaacs. Now how about I escort you back to your room. I don’t think the ride will do you much good this time around. There’s a chill in the air after all, don’t want you catching sick before your big day.”

Isaacs’ sneer turned into a forced smirk. “Yeah, sure sheriff, why don’t we both get some rest. Big day tomorrow with the funeral and the hiring of a new sheriff. Quite a lot of work to be done.” Isaacs’ turned away and let out a huge barking laugh before setting off back to the saloon.


The sun was high in the sky. The Yellow Flash rallied up himself and the crowd with his practised theatrics, spinning his revolver in his hand, the yellow handle ablaze in the light. “What you are about to witness here folks is the end of a worthless sheriff. One that spends more time with his hands in a pie dish than protecting his people!” Flash threw his revolver up in the air and caught it back on his finger and continued spinning it about. “This revolver right here has ended the lives of many a gunslinger. They were all at least twice the man than your so-called protector. And today I will rid this waste of space for you townsfolk. And maybe, just maybe, if you butter me up just right, I’ll step up and take the place of that man. And no outlaw would ever be foolish enough to challenge this town or its people ever again, lest they face off against the Yellow Flash!”

Hoots and hollers shot out from the crowd. “Yeah, you worry about yourself there first dandy! Hah hah hah!” Another called out, “That’s mighty fancy gun toatin’ you’ve got there boy, but it’s nothin’ against our Hamhock!” “Just run away with that yellow tail bet—“

A shot rang out as Flash fired his gun into the air, silencing the crowd. “No more words from any of you!” Flash screamed out. “Just you all wait nice and silent and watch that grease ball of yours as I end. His. Life!”

“Calm yourself now boy.” Flash’s head spun around to see Hamhock striding up to the centre of the road. Hamhock was donned in his full sheriff’s uniform, his badge impeccably shined and placed on his vest, right over his heart. His golden hair billowed out from his white hat and his finely kempt chops proudly sat upon his face. “No need getting your nickers in a twist. May as well show the people a little bit of courage before this is over.”

Flash spit toward Hamhock. “The same goes to you sheriff. Now will those be your last words or do you have some kind of wisdom you wish to impart upon these townsfolk here?”

“Ham ham ham. I suppose all I have left to say boy is prepare yourself.”

“Well then, by the time that clock tower strikes it’s twelfth bell you’ll already be in your grave.”

Sheriff Hamhock and the Yellow Flash placed their backs to each other. The sun hung high in the sky, again not a cloud in sight. The crowd was silent, along with the wind. The first bell rung out and both men took the first of their ten paces. With each strike of the bell they took another step forward. Their steps looked lazy but were held with deliberate focus. At the eighth bell the crowd tensed up. Flash’s stride was much shorter than his previous seven. Hamhock firmly placed his boot to the dirt, his brow furrowed.

The ninth bell sounded and Flash took a step shorter still and before the tenth bell rang out he turned, drawing his revolver from its holster, a flash of yellow. Hamhock turned with the tenth ring to see the Flash with his revolver trained on him. Hamhock spun his body and with a drop of his shoulder his badge caught the sun and it burned right into the Yellow Flash’s eyes. The Flash winced, squinting his eyes and fired wide. A split second later a second shot rang out, followed by the eleventh bell.

“Ahh!” Irvin Isaacs cried out, a wounded dog. He groped at his right hand with his left and fell to his knees. Blood flowed out of his missing pointer finger. Sheriff Hamhock sheathed his revolver, looked down at his badge, shined it with a handkerchief, and began to stride toward Irvin Isaacs. The twelfth bell rung out and the townsfolk erupted in applause.

“You goddamn slimy bastard! You cheated with that badge of yours, blinding me during our duel you sonovabitch!” Hamhock strode closer as blood rushed in Isaacs’ ears and out of his hand.

Hamhock stood over Irvin Isaacs. Isaacs head hung down as he stared at his hand. Isaacs’ left hand slipped away from his right and into his coat. He looked up at Hamhock’s chest with a wild grin and pulled out his hand. A third shot rang out followed by a second scream from Isaacs which silenced the crowd from their cheering. A second revolver, its barrel caked in blood spun out of Isaacs’ grip onto the dirt. Hamhock swiftly spun his revolver and sheathed it again.

“At the end of the day you couldn’t even look a real man in the eye.” Hamhock looked down at Isaacs. Isaacs sat there, crumpled into himself, his head buried down as he moaned and muttered, his two hands bleeding. Hamhock scanned the crowd and called out, “Doctor Abernathy, I’ll be needing your assistance here with Irvin Isaacs, it looks like hes gone and got himself a hole in each hand.” And from that, the moniker of the Yellow Flash was no more.


It has been night every day recently. No one walks the streets around my home. I hear cars one at a time – usually loud ones, screaming by at unimaginable speeds. I can not fathom where they are coming from, or where they are off to. It’s night time; there’s no knowing what anyone is up to.


A Poem from the Balckwell Archives

November, 1, 2017

not a densely wooded forest,
nor a carefully manicured lawn
no oaks obscuring the clear blue sky
hardly any grass to speak of
Like No Park I’ve Ever Tasted

large piles of dirt
young trees sparsely planted
maybe in 100 years, this will be a park
for now: park, or parking lot?

dogs off leash
a naturalistic dog obstacle course
constructed of stumps and rocks
maybe i should bring my kids
No Nuisance Barking

behold a vantage point: you see
a road
and then, a highway
some farms
a streetlight

further north, i accidentally reach a sidewalk
i turn around
a creek
a bridge, a pond
bench carved out of a trunk
leaves fall like snow
my ducks in a row
true peace
No Dog Zone

across the street lies a beautiful golf course
hidden behind a wall of trees.
for us, a former dump
construction signs littered everywhere
Everett Crowley Park