The Parable of the Flower

There’s a flower. It is remarkably beautiful, its petals glow and it seems always to be sprinkled in dew that twinkles like diamonds. It is delicate and robust at the same time, and its beauty is cleansing.

There’s a group of people gathered around the flower. They admire and love the flower with full and open hearts, recklessly, and their lives are full of love and serenity and joy. In their love for the flower, they also love each other and take delight in one another’s company.

Then one day, the flower falls ill. It begins to wilt, and its petals drop to the ground one by one. Ice slivers of fear puncture the internal organs of the lovers of the flower, and a storm of grief gathers in anticipatory inevitability. The people do everything they can to try and save the flower, and they cling to one another desperately as they pour out care upon the ailing bloom.

Despite all of their efforts, the flower dies. A toxic grief settles itself in the entrails of each of the people who loved and cared for the flower. The root of their love gone, they are cut loose from one another. They can no longer stand to be together; the memory and the grief are too much. They are torn apart and scattered to the winds.


There’s the doorkeeper, who lets people in and out of the building. Doorkeepers, rather; there’s more than one. And more than one door, too. Problem is, the doorkeepers won’t turn anyone away. They operate the portal however the people going through want. So viruses break into the building, and the immune system doesn’t eradicate them because the viruses went through the doorkeeper, thus legitimizing the virus’s presence in the building. And you can’t eliminate or replace the doorkeepers, because without them, the doors cannot be operated. So. How do you keep the viruses out while not modifying the doorkeepers’ behavior in any way? You don’t. What you do is, you hire a team of virus killers and station them as guards throughout the building. If they see a virus, they’ll kill it.

Next to the virus guard barracks, there’s a drinking fountain. All of the virus guards use it on the way in and out of the barracks. The water fountain becomes infected with something for some reason. All the virus guards get sick and become insane. They now kill only the doorkeepers and leave the viruses alone.

Security finds out about the crazy virus guards and takes steps to preserve the remaining doorkeepers. In the end, there are three doorkeepers left, which isn’t enough. (And there are zero virus guards, which is the correct amount.) So obviously they’ll need to take on additional doorkeepers. But just anybody can’t be a doorkeeper, so the process to beef up the ranks will be excruciatingly tedious, and it will take a long time, and meanwhile, all these doors need operated. In the end they set it up so that when you get to a door and there’s no doorkeeper, there’s a button you can press. Then, the next available doorkeeper will come and open the door for you. So there’s a bit of a wait. The doorkeepers are given Segways and pagers so they can get to the doors faster, but it’s far from ideal.

Meanwhile, everyone has forgotten about the viruses. What have they done during the time of insufficient doorkeepers? They decide to abandon their quest to infect the building and decide to help out. They learn to be doorkeepers. They learn very quickly, and the doorkeeper ranks are rebuilt (and well-built) in a very short amount of time. It is decreed that viruses are free to go where they wish as long as they promise not to be bad viruses. Virus persecution ends.

This has all happened before.

D&D Session Story

This is a short story I wrote back in Aug-2003. It is a faithful account of a D&D session I was in. My character was Gwynn. I’m amused with the cheese I laid on this little project. I just ran across it today, 15 years after writing it. I was trying to find the name of Gwynn’s sword. So yeah. You don’t know who anybody is, but it should still be interesting. If there’s curiosity, I’ll maybe make introductions in the comments. The thrice-damned comments.

After the fight with the desmodu and the chuuls, Varden and Casartes decided to explore the pool into which the last chuul had retreated. Varden polymorphed into a shark for the expedition, while Casartes relied on his own bad monk self. Soon enough they found the remaining chuul and quickly dispatched the vile creature. They were about to explore the depths of the pool (which contained sparkly things that looked suspiciously like treasure) when suddenly, out of the depths came four dire sharks! Still beyond these new adversaries, Varden sensed something huge and ancient lurking in the depths below. Clearly, discretion would be the better part of valor, and the party still had Marharet to think about. Casartes and Varden returned to the group and all made ready to proceed.

As the party approached the large double doors in the spider-like chamber, Gwynn heard sounds from the room beyond of shuffling feet and shifting rubble. Gwynn was ready to bash in the door and bash any heads that could be found, but Casartes tempered his exuberance with wisdom and carefully cracked the portal open. “Come on in!” said a boisterous voice.

Realizing their cover was blown utterly, Casartes and Gwynn opened the doors fully. The fighter and the monk were joined by Taliesin, Varden, and Viday as they moved cautiously inside. A large room opened up, well-lit with torches and stretching nearly a hundred feet up. The remains of a staircase lay crumbled on the floor, upon which was perched a desmodu mercenary. It was he who had greeted the party. In the center of the room, a spiral staircase descended into darkness. Another desmodu tended a long chain gang of what were clearly ill-treated and overworked slaves.

Utterly incensed at the sight of such brutality, Casartes advanced upon the desmodu and confronted them as Gwynn and Taliesin moved to flank. Suddenly, a beholder rose up from the depths of the spiral staircase, eyes blazing with magical rays shooting in all directions! A fierce melee followed. Varden was struck with fear from one of the beholders rays; Viday and Casartes fought the two desmodu with valor and honor; Griffon, invisible as always, moved to free the slaves and attempted to enlist their aid, but to no avail. The poor wretches were far too ill used to fight. Gwynn and Taliesin used their arrows and blades to add to the helping of hurtin’ that was dished out to this batch of scumbags. One desmodu was dispatched, and the other desmodu and the beholder fled, the desmodu through a side door and the beholder up into an alcove high overhead.

As the rest of the party tended to freeing the slaves and pumping them for information, Griffon graced Casartes with the ability to Fly so that the alcove above could be investigated. Meanwhile, one of the slaves confided quietly to Gwynn that one of the enslaved trolls was actually a mindflayer spy in disguise. Gwynn would have none of this, and imediately brandished the mighty Karrach to slay the creature. Recognizing that its cover was blown (and after two mighty slashes from the icy blade), the mindflayer disappeared by some magical means.

Just at that moment, Casartes reached the ceiling and discovered a rude surprise: two desmodu mercenaries lurked above. The fight was clearly not quite over. After a few taunts and jeers failed to draw them out, the party decided to take the hurtin’ upstairs. Viday climbed, Casartes and Griffon flew, Taliesin used a dimension door provided by the monk, and Varden and Gwynn teleported in behind the desmodu. The party was feeling pretty good about their chances before the two beholders showed up. Then it was touch and go, and the fight was on!

One of the beholders laid down an antimagic field with its main eye that caught Gwynn, Viday, and Taliesin in a bad spot. Gwynn was toe-to-toe with one of the desmodu, keeping the vile creature trapped in an alcove. Unfortunately, Karrach was rendered ordinary by the antimagic, as were Gwynn’s protective rings and amulets. Gwynn took quite a beating, but held the desmodu at bay. Meanwhile, Taliesin was doing his best to keep the other desmodu pinned in the alcove opposite. Varden activated his ring of spell-turning and did his best to taunt the beholders into blasting him with rays in the hopes of turning their eyes against them. However, one beholder soon found itself in the power of the mighty Casartes, who apparently knows Beholder anatomy well enough to render the creature helpless through nerve pinches. Meanwhile, the other beholder was distracted by Griffon, who sneak attacked from below with his trusty longbow for a simply obscene amount of damage. You should have seen the look on that eye tyrant’s “face” as three feathered shafts ripped into its bulbous flesh. But Griffon was to pay quite dearly for his audacity, and the beholder used its eldritch power to all but slay the valiant elf. Fortunately, Varden was on hand to bestow healing on Griffon, and the killing blow on the beholder. Casartes, in the meantime, rendered his beholder foe into a slimy, gooey pulp, and emerged to help finish off the desmodu with the help of Taliesin.

After this exhausting fray, the party made a quick survey of the area and decided that it was a good time to camp.

Pink Floyd Concert

So Pink Floyd was gonna be in Cleveland, and Danny was agitated about it. I had access to a car, so he wanted to go with me. And, you know, he thought I’d like it. I thought I’d like it too. My exposure to Pink Floyd live at that point was _Delicate Sound of Thunder_, their concert album in support of _A Momentary Lapse of Reason_. There were some photos of the light show, but photos in a CD booklet cannot impress upon one the enormity of the proceedings. So I’m like, “Sure, Pink Floyd, yeah, cool.” We had to get in a lottery to get tickets. The lottery took place at Rolling Acres Mall. I remember we went to the mall, I drove, borrowing one of Dad’s cars. Or it coulda been Mom’s car. Doesn’t matter. We go in, I think by Sears, or was it JCPenny? Doesn’t matter. There was a big courtyard kind of area, not the fountain courtyard. Lots of grey-white tile and shit. Lines of people standing around. We got tickets. Cheap tickets. Shit-ass tickets, if we’re honest with ourselves. We were on the lower deck, way up under the upper deck. You could see about a quarter of the stage. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Danny was super excited about getting the tickets, and I was too, just not as much. The concert was still months (weeks?) away. So we waited around, living our lives. I didn’t think about it all that much, but Danny’s excitement never completely faded. Much reduced, yes, but still there. And then of course it ramped back up in the days leading to the concert.

Day of the concert arrives. I borrow the Barge Mobile. AKA my Dad’s ’73 Olds 98. Can’t remember if this was before or after Lollapalooza. I think before, but not positive. Anyway, it was the same car I drove to Lollapalooza ’93, if that tells you anything. I go over to Danny’s, he’s still living with his mom at that point. Despite being a drug-crazed lunatic, Danny’s Mom, god rest her soul, was really a sweet lady. Or so it seemed to me. It might have been different living with her. Whatever. The point is, she had packed us a fucking cooler (a full-size one) full of home-cooked food. And Danny’s Mom could fucking cook. I’ll never forget her chicken paprikash (although there wasn’t any of that in the cooler. It was more picnic food. And regular chicken. Cold, of course. I love cold chicken so much. But anyway.) So we threw the cooler in the trunk, and then we were fucking off. I drove to goddamn Cleveland, having never been there on my own before, without the help of GPS or anything. I had directions from Dad. 77 N to E 9th, right at the light. That was basically all I had. I’m amazed at the things I used to be able to do. Once we got to Cleveland proper on 77, the traffic backed up, and it was stop and go. We had left in plenty of time to allow for this, so no big deal. Anyway, all the cars are inching along, and I see a guy up ahead, a pedestrian, walking down between the lanes. I was in the middle lane, and he was walking on my drivers side. I was curious about this, and there was little else to do, so I watched him. He would occasionally pause at cars. When he got closer, I saw that he was a T-shirt vendor, selling Pink Floyd shirts, and they were awesome. I loved the design, and it seemed to me this would be a perfect souvenir. So I flagged the guy down when he got near, and bought a T-shirt. It cost me all my money, but it was such a sweet T-shirt that it was totally worth it. I don’t remember how much it was. $28, maybe? Doesn’t matter. So now I had no money, and a T-shirt. Five minutes later I realized that I’d spent all my parking money. Danny didn’t have any money. What the fuck were we going to do?

Finally got off the freeway and onto E 9th. There were parking lots all over the fucking place, but they were all paid lots. I pulled into one, there was a cop standing around. I asked him if there was anywhere to get free parking. He laughed in my face. No, I mean he literally cracked up laughing. There isn’t anywhere you can take the conversation from there, so I went driving around. Trying to think of an idea. I turned a corner, and there, unexpectedly, was the stadium, a block away. And right there by the corner, there was a parking spot. No meter. Just a fucking parking spot. And I got in that shit. It was incredible. I would not have been surprised if light beams from on high with the angelic chorus had shown the parking spot. It was totally that kind of vibe.

Anyway, so we’re parked. We sat there in amazement and enthused about our good fortune. I checked like crazy for a “No Parking” sign, some indication as to why this primo-ass spot was vacant, but there was nothing. It was just dumb luck. It was awesome.

Then we went to the show. On the way to our seats, we saw Matt Atkins, Trevor Sheridan, and a couple other kids from school, but we basically nodded as we passed and didn’t see them for the rest of the excursion. So we get in our seats. As forementioned, they sucked. I was resigned to it. I was like, “The light show isn’t as important as the music.” Danny was having none of it. He walked down to one of the support pillars, which are below the front edge of the upper deck. You could see the entire stage and the sky above. I had to admit this was a lot better than our seats.

The show began, and it blew me the fuck away. Nothing could have prepared me for the spectacle of it. Danny, for his part, was unsurprised. I now understood why he had been so excited. They led off with “Astronomy Domine” and it was fucking amazing.

A couple songs in, and I’ve become really attached to where I’m standing and my view of the show. Then a venue employee comes and says we have to sit down. So that’s it. Danny and I look at each other and shrug invisibly and resignedly. We look around, and there are two empty seats right in front of us. I mean, literally right next to us. Five feet away. I was reminded of the parking situation. Still no angelic chorus. We put our butts in these two empty seats right quick, and the venue employee left. Danny was on the end of the row, and I was next to him. On my other side there was a guy. He leaned over and said we could sit there, the seats were for his two friends who had ditched him. So we had king hella premier seats for the rest of the show. I loved it. As an added bonus, the dude didn’t talk to me for the rest of the show.

The show, as I’ve implied, was amazing. The highlight for me was the twenty-foot disco ball spinning over second base, and reflecting little moving pinpoints of light around the bowl of the stadium and onto the crowd. “Comfortably Numb” was the song. Those moments changed my life.

Then it was over. It was like four in the morning, since the show didn’t start before dark (it was summertime) and it was a really long show. Wait a minute. It couldn’t’ve been four in the morning. Although that’s the time I remember it being. Whatever. It was the middle of the night, okay? We found the car again no problem, it hadn’t been towed away or anything. I popped the trunk and we cracked the cooler. I’ll never forget sitting in the middle of downtown Cleveland, buildings towering over us, with a view of the old Municipal Stadium, sitting on the back of the Barge Mobile eating cold chicken. And Danny’s mom made it so it was fucking delicious. I can’t remember what we had to drink. We made a good meal of it, though. So sated, I drove home without further incident. And I had a bitchin’ shirt.

It was the best concert I’ll ever go to, and it was encapsulated in the best concert-going story I’ll ever tell. So that’s nice.