Tales of the Bearded Toad

Short stories and the occasional true tidbit devised in the life and times of the Bearded Toad

Thursday, September 21, 2006


The President entered the room setting off a storm of clicks, the shutters slamming shut repeatedly on the press cameras. Tension and excitement was evident in every person in the room. The photographers pressed forward against each other. Two reporters had nearly gotten into a fistfight trying to vie for seating positions. The expectation was that he would make an announcement that everyone had assumed was true already, one that if confirmed was expected create quite a stir.

At the podium, he cast his sly smirk to the television viewers in anticipation of the reaction. “In light of the recent attempts from the Islamic terrorist community to again blow up airplanes with U.S. citizens on board, we have instituted a program that we have been developing for months. We now will require every Muslim in the United States and every Muslim who wishes to enter the United States of America, to register with the Department of Homeland Security. They will be required to provide a history of education and travel for the past 10 years. Also, they will be required to offer any information they have on other Islamic Terrorists. If it is determined that they have a link to known terrorists, then they will either be denied access to the country or transported to a detention center for questioning. We will be providing a printed release with the details of the program at a later time. No questions at this time. Thank you.”

The journalists erupted immediately with questions, but the Head of State refused any more insights into his mind. He knew what would happen; at least what his advisors told him would happen. There would be a small uproar over the weekend in the Muslim communities, but his supporters would think it about time. The party base would be energized and feel safer that the terrorists wouldn’t be able to get on a plane anymore. The airline industry would see a boon in business, because people would feel as though it were safer to fly.

He was right. The Muslim communities held rallies in their neighborhoods that weekend, and the opposition went on the weekend talk shows. By Monday, most people had heard about the plan, and the poles on Tuesday revealed that his approval ratings had gone up 10% from the announcement. “Heckofa plan,” he told his advisors.

Two weeks later, on Sunday, bombs exploded in twelve professional football stadiums killing 5,000 people and wounding 10,000 more.

Here’s the editorial part: I am nauseated daily hearing about how our government has taken away the rights of U.S. and world citizens for years. The President announced that the secret prisons exist. He has yet to acknowledge torture has taken place, nor that individual’s rights have been violated. The way that they talk about them is appalling. They ask questions designed to rebut their opponents such as, “Do you really want to give these people more rights?” “These people” are “suspected terrorists” who have not been given due process to address the charges against them. No one is trying to give them more rights either. Some of us, are just asking that they not have their rights taken away until they have been proven guilty, and even then not to treat them in an undignified manner. It amazes me that somehow the leading politicians believe that we are helping our image by telling the world that Muslims are bad, and that we can take away their rights when we feel like it. The truly embarrassing part is that so many of the citizens believe it; and, those that don’t believe it can’t seem to muster the pressure to make changes. Hopefully the upcoming election will speak the essence of this country. Hopefully the ones elected will make clear policy changes and correct the damage that has been inflicted. Although death by human hands may be an anxiety provoking possibility, being accused of something you didn’t do and having everyone believe it is probably worse.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to say what I felt, even on this blog of fiction.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Get Tested

He couldn’t remember if he should be embarrassed, but he felt it a little anyway. Pulsing with enough pressure to make his eyes ache, his brain was searching for memories of any uncouth or even illegal moments. He closed his mouth, which had apparently been agape the whole time as made evident by it being devoid of moisture. His tongue felt like his old baseball mitt when he chewed on it, bored in right field. He’d been thinking a lot about baseball metaphors lately. He even laughed at himself when he thought about which base he’d gotten to with some girl. She’d tasted of lime, and he couldn’t tell whether it was lip gloss or her drink that caused it.

But who saw him kiss her? Did anyone from the office see it? He couldn’t remember what she looked like from the neck down, or her name. He didn’t even remember if he’d asked for it. He checked the time, not his watch, because he didn’t have one, but on his phone. Three messages. The first was a hang-up. The second eased his lagging memory, but aroused mortification to the point of breathlessness. It was he; his own voice calling to remind him to get tested after what he’d done.

He looked at himself in the mirror as he raised his face from the sink. It was made up with skill. His lips were trimmed in green. They still tasted citrus and sweet, a stark contrast to the potent stench of cigarettes on his fingers. He had a tendency to smoke afterwards. It calmed him somehow, even though he despised the smell. The most calming thing he thought, though, was another drink. That would help take the sting out of his ass, not to mention calm the pounding inside his skull. He didn’t know which was worse.

Pouring vodka over ice, he trembled. The first sip of the harsh liquid burned on his dry tongue, but it steadied his hand enough to read the number scrawled across the back of it. He sat down at the table and tried to think. No use. He called it instead. A rough, sleepy voice answered. A man. He’d sounded so feminine the night before, but now his boss wanted to know why he was calling him at home.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Flying Home

One weekend as I was flying over the eastern part of Colorado on my way back home, I looked out the window and felt a sensation which I will try to put into words. In the surprising landscape of the state, the eastern part is rather flat and filled with farms, whereas the western part is filled with the suddenly rising and falling mountains for which it is quite famous. It is the eastern half that one sees on the way to Denver. As I looked out over this scene it looked as one enshrouding quilt with an odd patchwork of circles, semicircles, squares, and odd rectangles that were sewn together by different generations through the years, each of which tried to express the similarities as well as the differences between them. I started to feel that I was lying in a bed covered by this quilt with these patterns that were intermittently interrupted by wrinkles created from the small rolling hills that appeared with the occasional loose strand of a stream. I then looked through the window on the other side to see a fluffy pillow of clouds behind my head. It was a very warm and comfortable feeling.

Author's Note: This is just an exercise in description. It's not really a tale.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lip Tapping Thoughts

The tapping gave it away. She sat at the table staring at the pepper shaker tapping her lips with her finger, the same finger she used to wipe an eyelash from the ball moments before. It was as if she were tapping out Morse code on her lips, but there was no one to decode the message, not that she was aware. Her inquisitor’s understanding was well hidden.

Madeline had become accustomed to being questioned. He mom was the first, giving her interrogations on what happened at school each day as though she were trying to wrench a confession of horrible deeds done to her by the double-chinned teacher who never sent home notes. She wasn’t a trusting woman. She seemed to believe that every child was regularly getting into some sort of mischief, and she wanted to know what it was that hers had her tiny hands so deep into that they came out cleanly on the other side.

Then it was her boyfriends. Insecure, all of them, they wanted to know what that guy had said to her. Was he flirting with her? Did she like it? The questions swirled in their narrow little heads as the butterflies swirled in their tight little bellies with the thought of her with another boy. Once they pictured her being penetrated by one, it was too late; she already had been; and the nausea came to fruition. She was good at keeping secrets right up until she wanted them divulged into the world and minds of her interrogators with the clarity of a windshield swept clean of heavy rain to reveal an impending crash.

Even girl friends displayed a jealousy that caused uncharacteristic action at times. One even tied up another girl and shaved her hair as a means to prevent Madeline from befriending the poor victim, for to be a friend of Madeline was to be sought after by the rest. There was no reason to share.

No matter what happened before, she always appeared at first to be unsullied to the next person in line to become overly possessive and wrought with anxiety. The reaction was symptomatic of the power she held. It was an ability that was palpable from the beginning of her self-awareness, but it became a game to her as the rest of life’s offerings became humdrum. Toying with psyche and emotion as though these were pieces of furniture to be moved about a room until it had just the right look, she maneuvered souls around the plan within her mind.

This reaction was telling; the tapping, a quick rap of the lips, displayed concern and intrigue. And it was real. The blue line in the small window made a statement of change and challenge. She picked up the directions to be sure she’d read it correctly, that she’d urinated accordingly, and that the result was complete. A difficult concept to grasp, to have a part of her unleashed upon herself, would pose a threat to her own self-image; but at least it wouldn’t be dull, not with what it could do to me.

Seeing this window into her mind elated me. I knew the spawn was also half from my seed, and I knew that she would stay. A father was the only other relationship she’d never experienced, and there was no way she would deprive this part of her the chance to control me. She was mine.

I left immediately.