Wednesday, August 30, 2017

7 Times A Celebrity Photobombed Famous Paintings


Everyone loves a good photobomb, and when it's a celebrity doing it, we love it even more! But did you know some celebrities have taken it that step further, and shown up in famous paintings? Here's our 7 favorite times a celebrity photobombed classic paintings.




Amy Schumer what are you doing in American Gothic? You don't belong there! Maybe that's why the farmer and his wife seem so dour.






It's okay, Kanye, we all know Beyonce is better than any old Girl With A Pearl Earring. Remember when he did that thing? Here he is, doing it in a famous painting.







You'll just have to take our word for it when we tell you that's Kevin Spacey doing his best to blend in. He even brought his own apple! Best impression yet Mr. Spacey.








 Talk about good luck! Mark Wahlberg just happened to be out for jog when he slipped through time and accidentally posed long enough to be painted by Rembrandt. 








 Hey, who's photobombing whom here? At first you might think Whistler's Mother is showing up in Channing Tatum's picture, but look closely, sneaky Mr. Tatum snuck his sneaky Magic Mike poster in to distract her. And who can blame her for being distracted? Not us. Not us.







Ha Ha Ha, how do you do that Taylor Swift? We don't know, but it sure is a Scream!









Here's Will Smith destroying the subtle message of the painting by literally pointing it out to you. Not cool Mr. Smith. On the other hand, who can blame him for getting a picture with God?



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Art Man: Go Boom - By David Eccher



















J---- didn’t know how long he would last. He had to die sometime, right? Even not breathing or feeling the cold or the pressure, he had to eat to live.
Oh bother! What if I don’t? What if I can survive forever down here? My clothes will disintegrate, and I’ll be here, a hundred, no a thousand years old, naked, watching the fish world go by.
The predicament came about when his foot became stuck in some sort of metal box. Maybe it wasn’t designed as a trap, but whatever it was, it had a solid hold on his left leg. Hours of pulling, pushing, lifting, twisting and shaking had done nothing. He was as trapped now as when his foot first stepped onto the thing, and he was starting to despair of ever getting loose.
No one will find me here. If there’s one thing I’ve learned walking the ocean floor is that you don’t see many people, do you J----? Not exactly a mall where eventually the janitor will find you, without pants, locked in the Footlocker store room.
That he was talking to himself in the third person was a sure sign he was losing it.  That he remembered the “Footlocker Incident” as it was forever known in his hometown, was a sure sign that he was doomed to relieve every embarrassing memory while stuck on the ocean floor for eternity.
*****
On the surface, Art paced the deck of the cruise ship.
The plan to sell the jewels was not as effective as Art and J---- had imagined it would be. These Northern ports were basically ‘one pawn shop’ towns and J----- did not find a sellers market. Perhaps Ghost Betty had deceived him in giving him lessor pieces from the retrieved treasure, or perhaps 100 years had altered the value in ways a ghost did not understand.  J---- got enough to buy out of his cruise job contract, but not enough to live without a job for very long.
Still, it got him off the boat, which was good for J----, but not so much for Art. Art liked the cruises, and he liked making a living this way, but he liked working with J---- more than working alone, and way more than working with the next crewman assigned to him: D-Bag.
Donnato Baccio, the name itself a misspelled bastardization of Italian, was a bastard. Maybe he stopped listening to people when the kids in school teased him as “Donna”. Maybe he picked up the trait from his asshole family, maybe he was just as asshole himself, but D-Bag never listened. All arguments over D-Bag doing his job incorrectly, bringing the wrong item, being there at the wrong time, ended with “I did what you said, old man. Learn to talk better next time.”
And not just to Art. D-Bag called everyone he didn’t listen to ‘old man’, and D-bag didn’t listen to anyone. He happily and obliviously trounced all around the ship, sipping from his secret flask that everyone knew about. He came on board calling himself “Donny the Man, or D-Man for short”, but all the crew quickly changed that to D-Bag, and D-Bag never objected, because, well, D-Bag wasn’t listening.
Art sales weren’t as good with D-Bag helping. At first, Art tried to coach him along, but quickly gave up on that. The simple solution, it turned out, was to get any woman on board to say hello to D-Bag while walking away. For a small stipend (more if he had to ask the same person to do it again), a woman would walk by the space where D-Bag was ‘helping’ set up the sales session, make eye contact, say hello, and keep walking. D-Bag would disappear for the night. If she was lucky, and somewhat nimble afoot, D-Bag would never catch-up to her, but he would still never come back to the session. If he did catch-up to her, well those are the ones Art had to apologize to and who would never do it again, no matter how much Art offered.
*****
Once he had bought his way off the boat, J---- kept trying ways to find another treasure, or at least to meet another ghost. He visited museums, monuments, points of interest, points of little interest, buoys of no interest, and historical markers of no particular significance to anyone still living. He walked the ocean floor in areas of known shipwrecks, in areas of suspected shipwrecks, and in areas of no shipwrecks (though these side trips were usually due to wrong turns and the lack of waterproof maps.)
After much frustration, he made his way back to “Aunt Betty’s Bordello and Music Hall”, hoping to learn something more from Ghost Betty.
“Betty, I just thought there would be more ghosts and treasures.”.
“Not everyone becomes a ghost, you know,” she admonished him. “It is a special thing, just like you Water Walker. Only a few of the living ever become ghosts, and fewer still offer anything of value.”
“I didn’t think of it that way. Sorry,” he said, and began to mope his way out of the same room where they had first met. “Guess I’ll have to go back to looking for work.”
“But there are a few of us,” she said, appreciating the company and wishing to keep him talking longer. The novelty of visiting her beloved treasures every day had begun to wear off, and she longed for a new task, now that the burden of the old one had been fulfilled.
“And you know them?” J---- asked, hopefully.
“For Pete’s Sake, what, you think everybody in New York knows everybody else in New York? It is a damn big world out there!”
J----’s face flushed with embarrassment, again.
“But!”, Ghost Betty exclaimed, a bit embarrassed that she had once again lost her ghost temper. When one goes such long stretches without talking to anyone, it is easy to forget the proper way of doing so.
“But,” she continued, more calmly now. “I recall a story from my childhood. A story about a thief with a lost, haunted treasure. I think that book is still here.”
“Butt!” J---- exclaimed, as an inexplicably pantsless child ran across the doorway, pursued by a flustered mother.
*****
“Butter!” Art exclaimed, looking at all the packets of mayonnaise that D-Bag had brought him. “All I wanted for my sandwich was butter.”
“Learn to talk better, old man.”
Art contemplated tying several very large paintings to D-Bag and throwing him overboard. This had three possible outcomes. One, D-Bag has powers like J---- and walks the ocean. Unlikely, but not impossible. Two, D-Bag dies and Art lives the rest of his life in prison, where there were probably worse d-bags than D-Bag. Three, D-Bag lives and gets his uncle, not coincidentally a powerful member of many businesses, including being on the Board of Directors for this cruise line, to make life hell for Art.
He chose instead to speak to management about perhaps reassigning D-Bag away from Art’s area. That worked, but not in the way Art intended.
“Butera! Butera will have my ass!,” was the phrasing the manager used, referring to Richard Butera, D-Bag’s well placed uncle. “If I bust him down or give him a job he doesn’t like, I’ll end up transferred to a shit kicking job on a farm in Butte.”
So the manager promoted D-Bag into a made up position: Manager of Security for Personal Floatation Devices and Storage Spaces. The job had no discernible responsibilities, yet swelled D-Bag’s head even more, as he would now march about the ship, sipping his flask more openly, and yelling at anyone opening a closet or looking at a floatation device.
*****
“Barnacles,” J---- thought. “Mermaids,  barracudas, and barnacles.”
Sitting endlessly on the ocean floor did strange things to a man’s mind.
The most frustrating thing was that J---- was certain he was near the site of the treasure he had learned about with help from Ghost Betty. Her childhood book was a fanciful tale of a Gold Rush pirate named Captain Kroc. It was silly swashbuckling variation on Robin Hood, set in the great Northwest. Kroc, the hero, takes on cartoonishly evil men, tricks them out of their ill gotten gains, gives the riches back to the miners and prospectors, marries the beautiful maiden, and disappears without a trace, promising to return if needed again.
Ghost Betty, during her days as an adult ‘entertainer’, with an ear trained for listening to secrets and hidden desires, kept hearing bits of stories repeated. These various forms and tidbits led her to think maybe there was truth underlying the children’s tale, in a tangled mess of half-truth and fancifulness.
In the book, a great fortune turns on the spin of a gambling wheel. In her Dance Hall, drunken card players would wax on about a mythical poker game in which a chest of gold was lost and won.
Other players had a version in which the card game was a diversion, a strip poker game used to keep guards occupied while a robbery occurred.
And more than one sensitive soul who paid for time in her bed shared the story of a haunted saloon that had been the site of notorious gold robbery.
The beautiful maiden in the story, she presumed, was actually a prostitute at the saloon (god knows the number of men who wanted to treat her as a helpless maiden and save her from this life.)
And the name Kroc, even, might have come from Crocker, a notorious rich asshole that built railroads during the California Gold Rush. There was rumour at the time, as Betty heard from her clients, that a disgruntled nephew had been behind the heist, but had lost his life, and the goods, during his escape.
Piecing together the story lead J---- and Ghost Betty to an abandoned prospector encampment in the Pacific Northwest.
“Well, a ghost town probably has some ghosts,” J---- said, optimistically.
“Well, sometimes I hate people,” said Ghost Betty, reconsidering her desire for conversation.
“Bumbershoots,” exclaimed J----, as he fell backwards after being startled by small rodent.
Betty watched the mouse scurry across the path and disappear into a hole beneath the door of a decrepit building. She passed through the deteriorating wall, then reappeared to J---- after a short time.
“The good news is, despite yourself, you were right, there is a ghost here.”
“And is there bad news?” J---- asked, dusting himself off.
“He’s an imbecile.”
Ghost nephew ‘sat’ at what once was the main feature of this tiny room, a wooden table covered with the remnants of everything from decayed eating utensils to web covered playing cards. Ghost nephew (she never could get him to offer up a name, perhaps he did not understand the question) hovered by the table, repeatedly, and uselessly, trying to pick up a playing card.
“Just need another Jack,” he moaned.
“Excuse me, sir”, J----said, trying to get his attention.
“That will be useless,” Ghost Betty said. “This is the only way that will work.”
Ghost Betty floated between the table and Ghost Nephew and bared her breasts, causing J---- to stumble backwards and fall to his backside while covering his eyes.
“Oh for the love of Poseidon you clumsy child, they are just breasts. And dead ones at that.”
Ghost Betty returned her attention to Ghost nephew, who had stopped pawing at the playing card and was now pawing at Ghost Betty, his hand passing through her body as ghostly drool dripped from his mouth.
“Yes, big boy. Oooo. Oooo. Touch me again,” she said with a dead eyed stare. “You are such a fascinating man. It’s just incredible how brilliantly fascinating you are, with your stories of daring and treasure.”
“Boobies,” was the extent of Ghost nephew’s reply.
“Yes, boobies are treasure too. Do you want more boobies? Tell me where your treasure is and you can have all the boobies you want.”
“Go BOOM.”
“Oh, that’s terrible. If you tell me where it went boom, I can help you get it back and then you can have all the treasure and all the boobies.”
“Boobies.”
“Yes, you are an imbecile.”
J----, staring at a wall and trying not to blurt out ‘boobies’, had a moment of revelation.
“Oooooooooooooooooooooooooo,” J---- said.
“Hey, Water Walker, keep it in your pants, I am trying to conduct business here.”
“No, not that,” he stuttered, turning red. “I mean, yes that, you are lovely, and ghostly, and I really appreciate you as a friend, and I respect your chosen profession, and I would never ever blurglesnorff heminahemina...”
“Focus, Walker! Spit it out before you stain your pants.”
“Book! The book,” J---- shouted, working to overcome his flusterations. “Your children’s book had a big ‘Ka-Boom’.”
“Yes, I know. So in what way does that help us?”
“There was a ship, an insignificant fishing vessel, mentioned in the reports we read from that year, the year of Ghost drooler, egads he is disgusting, his robbery and escape, there was a fishing boat that exploded mysteriously.”
“Go boom?” Ghost nephew was now undoing his ghost pants.
“Hold on there, big boy. No money, no ‘go boom’, she admonished.
“Fishing boats don’t have much on them that can explode,” J---- continued. “Maybe drooly there was on it trying to escape?”
As soon as Ghost Betty moved away from Ghost nephew, he returned to his ‘poker game.’
“Well, let’s track that boat down then,” she said.
*****
“Butterscotch!”, J---- thought when repeated attempts to free his leg failed.
He was never comfortable with cursing, so even in this predicament, his distracted thoughts were mostly nonsense cussing. Dang, and poopsters, and polly-wants-a-cracker took the place of the usual expressions of frustration.
It was easy to lose track of time under the water. He sometimes would walk the ocean floor for what he thought was an afternoon, when it turned out to be a day and a night. So he was quickly losing track of how long he had been stuck here. When a creature would swim by, he would ‘talk’ to it, hoping for a friendly crustacean or even a smiling shark to help pass the time. There are only so many times you can sing “Under The Sea” in your own head and retain a semblance of sanity.
Under the sea
Under I see
Ghostly encounter
Poopies the shouter
Make it frosty
Up on the deck they swab away
Art is the bun hamburger day
While D-Bag fartin’
My favorite Martian
Under the sea


Maybe this power of his was a curse instead of a blessing.
“Buffoonery,” Betty said, well, thought, into J---’s head.
“Betty!” you have no idea how glad I am to see you!”
“What kind of ridiculousness have you gotten yourself into here?”
“Well, my foot is stuck in this, this thing here. I’ve been stuck here for days and I thought I was going to be here forever until you arrived. Please help me to get out?”
“Days? You just left me hours ago.”
“Oh my, how time sinks when I’m sunk.”
Ghost Betty gently shook her head and extended her hand to him.
“Of course, poor Water Walker who can’t walk. Here, take my hand.”
J---- reached for her extended hand, which passed right through his.
“Bwhahaha,” Ghost Betty mocked. “You know I can not touch anything. What help did you think I was going to be able to give.”
If J---- could cry under water, he would have.  
“Oh, Billhilly woodpeckers,” he cursed. “How in Jiminy Crickets am I supposed to get my leg free?”
“Have you tried...” and she proceeded to list all of the ways he had already tried dozens of times over: “shaking, pulling, twisting, looking for a button, hitting, poking, pushing, kicking, dancing...”
“Dancing!?”
“Well, how am I to know? I haven’t touched anything in a hundred years.”
Disheartened in the extreme, J---- slapped his forehead and started falling backwards, his leg pained as it was stuck in a rather upright orientation. As his tookus headed for the ground behind him, a latch was sprung and his foot popped out of the box.
“Sitting,” Ghost Betty asked. “Have you tried sitting?”
“Blimey, I hadn’t thought of that.”
Now freed, J---- was easily able to locate the ‘’treasure chest’. It was not a chest at all, but rather one of those huge, old time safes that trainrobbers had to blow open with dynamite in movie Westerns. The Crocker nephew had indeed stolen something, safe and all, but failing to open it, decided to blow it up. On a wooden ship. He was such an imbecile. So here it was, still closed, and extraordinarily heavy, on the bottom of the ocean.  
I wanna be where safes are open
I wanna see, wanna see what’s inside
I've got water and seaweed a-plenty
I've got ghost-tits and damp-nuts galore
You want incredulous?
I've got twenty!
Walking around with these - what do you call 'em?
Oh - POOP!


The singing didn’t help J---- lift the safe, and he once again fell backwards and sat on the ocean floor.
“I think I’m gonna need some help with this.”
*****
To get the safe off the ocean floor, J---- figured it would take all of the floatation devices he could possible attach to it. They wouldn’t float it to the surface, but perhaps they would give enough buoyancy to allow him to carry it.
“Buoyancy! Good plan,” Art said, when J---- returned to the ship, the only nearby source of floatation devices he could think of. “But there is a hitch in the old D-Bag.”
Art explained that with D-Bags new ‘position’ getting a load of floatation devices off the ship would require some subterfuge...
*****
D-Bag was walking the deck, yelling at doors, when a woman he had never before seen seemed to float by. She turned to look at him, winked, and then disappeared. D-Bag, predictably, followed her.
“Pssst. Over here,” Art beckoned from his cabin door.
“What is it old man? I’m busy.”
“She’s in here, you d-bag, I mean, D-Bag. You up for a game of poker with her?”
Inside Art’s cabin, Ghost Betty floated by the table while Art explained the rules.
“Simple 5 Card draw, nothing wild, no gimmicks. Losing hand takes off a piece of clothing. And...,” Art paused to make sure he had D-Bag’s attention. “Any time anyone says anything rude, they have to drink a shot.”
“I don’t want to see you naked, old man.”
Art rolled his eyes. Again.
“First, I’m not playing for me. As I explained, she can’t touch the cards so I will have to hold the cards for her to play her hand. Second, ‘old man’ is rude, so drink up.”
Unsurprisingly, D-Bag was not a good poker player. He had no patience and consistently went for long shot draws. When he didn’t get them, he would curse and shout rude things, which earned him a drink, and made his game worse.
Scarcely an hour after the game had started, Ghost Betty was floating around the cabin in old tyme undergarments, playfully teasing Art with flashes of flesh. And D-Bag was naked, puking over the side of the ship, as passengers and crew posted pictures to social media.
Meanwhile, J---- had a closet full of floatation devices safely smuggled overboard.
*****
Carrying the safe was comical. J---- looked like a balloon vendor, walking along the ocean floor. He could only get it as far as shallow water, but Art arranged for assistance in getting it to land, and open.
This treasure, being gold coins, proved much more useful in turning J---- into a rich young man. He bought a cute little beach house on the East coast of the U.S., a much larger beach house on the Western shore of South Africa, and a large boat, complete with crew, to take him anywhere he didn't feel like walking.
Ghost Betty enjoyed her newfound distraction of swindling idiots in poker games, and Art, never afraid to date an older woman, was glad to be her partner. It was, after all, a good career move.
‘D-Bag’ Donnato Baccio, or “The Nude Puker”, as he was now known world-wide, did not enjoy farm work in Butte Montana, and all the farm animals hated him, too.
Ghost nephew never managed to pick up that Jack, but he is still trying...   


Missed part 1 & 2? You can read it here: Part 1 Part 2
And be sure to follow David on Twitter

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Troll [Short Story]





















The words are building up in my head again.
It's like a collection of relics, dusted off and on display.
My heart just isn't in the facade.
I think I might.
I think I might be at my breaking point.

He stared at his computer in a daze. Up until now he'd been able to control himself. To hide what he truly felt. The self hatred, the caustic remarks, they were nothing compared to the monster that dwelt deep within him.

Most of the time I've been pretending.
Even with myself.
I don't think I can anymore.
I'm like the most worthless Little Train That Could.
Spewing forth "I know I can't. I know I can't."
And truth now: I know I can't.

He grabs an open can beside him. Generic cherry cola. Condensation dotting all around the still cold can. He flicks through a few open tabs on his browser, browsing the walls he's built up. The persona; the man in front of the curtain.

Invited to an event.
What?
Why would they invite me?
I've never been more than a corner-of-the-room-hogging letdown.
The last party I truly enjoyed was.
Was...
Thirteen. I was thirteen and it was just my parents, my little sister, and me.
Back when I still felt like there might be hope.
So naive.

He checks his calendar. It's empty as it always is, he just checks the date. There's no reason not to go. Every reason to go. His hand hovers over the accept button. Finger trigger-locked. But instead he clicks away.

Can't think clearly.
That can wait.
Or maybe they'll realize it was a mistake and rescind the offer.
Either way, I have to...
God, I can't concentrate at all anymore.
What the hell happened to the bright, young, up and coming, kid?
He grew up of course.
Half my life gone.
If I'm lucky.
Or if I'm unlucky.
Where was I?

Clicks a tab and he's back to the game he was playing. Little bubbles popping. Some quest. Some impossible level that's made for making money on the boosters. He loses again. 3 lives down. Clicks the "try again." Takes one shot, then he changes tabs. Job application. Another tab. A music video. He clicks play again. He's been listening to the same song all night. He could put it on repeat, but he chooses to constantly restart it instead.

Need a different job.
Need a different life.
Need to get the hell away.
When did my hands get so big?
I remember when I was a kid, I thought of how this day would come.
But I always thought.
You always think you'll be better than you are.
Life doesn't have to be perfect.
But it should still work.
God, it should still be better than the alternative.
Right?

He suddenly closes his laptop. He doesn't move. Just sits there with his eyes closed. Around him the darkness closes in. The small blinking light of the computer is his only candle. One he's now hid under a bushel. After a moment he pushes back the chair from his desk and walks over to his bed where he collapses. Dark red sheets, haven't been washed in weeks. Two feather pillows, and a bleach stained blanket.

When did I become nothing more than words on a screen?
Tomorrow.
Tomorrow something is done.
One way or the other.
Tomorrow.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ART MAN: Olde Tyme Good Time World - By David Eccher






















The port of call was a port of call girls.
Was, in that it used to be, back in the day. The cruise ship’s ports generally had interesting things to see. All the better for J---- if the sites of interest required no human interaction.  The demands of the cruise ship, now that he was assisting Art sell art more directly, were stressing his capacity for tolerating humans. Art himself was a chatty fellow, but he knew when to back off and give J---- space. And his cabin mate was in no uncertain terms, a D-Bag. The crew actually called him this to his face, and D-Bag didn’t even get that it was an insult. He was constantly in full ‘primping for a date mode’, which meant the he had no date and would be out trolling and bothering every breathing female on board, again. The primping could take hours, as he had no actual place to be. Luckily, despite being in close proximity all the time, D-Bag had no interest in talking to a ‘loser’ like J----.
New passengers, however, were aggressive, annoying, cloying, chatty, fawning, staring, stalking, snarky idiots. As soon as one learned J---- was the “Water Walker”, the day would go straight to interaction hell.
How do you do it?
Is it a trick?
Have you always been able to do it?
It must be a trick.
What does it feel like?
Stupid fucking trick, you ain’t no Houdini. Being able to walk underwater was cool, but not extraordinarily useful, as far as J---- could tell. Yes, it seemed he could stay under indefinitely. No, he didn’t feel the temperature of the water. Yes, he could walk on any submerged surface, no matter what it’s orientation. But… He couldn’t swim. He couldn’t even float! In the water, he sank like an anchor to the bottom. The umpteenth time he was badgered by passengers about what it was like, he grew so flustered that he just muttered “here, it’s like this” and plunged feet first over the side of the boat. What a mistake. The water was deep, and there was nothing to climb. There was nothing to walk up. There was no (non-floating) way back to the ship. He wasn’t horribly far from shore, but even a short-ish distance of underwater walking took some time. By the time J---- had walked the seafloor and reached dry land, the ship was not visible on the horizon. He had to walk further to find people, then beg politely to borrow a phone, and beg even more to convince the company to arrange transportation for him to rendezvous with the ship. And then he got an earful from his boss. Do you know how much this cost? Not just the transport, but the work you weren’t doing that had to be done by someone else. And no one was buying anything from Art. And the time spent waiting for you. I’ll be shocked, just shocked, if we don’t get lawsuits for the emotional trauma you inflicted because passengers thought you were dead and we were abandoning you. On and on and on she blistered his metaphorical hide and tattooed his virtual buttocks. He thought for certain she would fire him, or confine him to quarters at least. But when she didn’t go there, it suddenly dawned on him why. They wanted him. They NEEDED him. Maybe they weren’t sure what for yet, or more specifically, they weren’t sure yet how they could best exploit his skill for their profit. J---- figured they had to balance short term gain against his long term potential. He was on a six-month contract. He could walk away now, literally from the ship, and figuratively from the contract, and would owe them money back for his training and transportation from home. He hadn’t earned enough in pay to cover that yet, but he supposed he would figure out a way to make money off himself as quickly as they could figure out how to make money off of him. And they likely would want to lock him into a long-term relationship for long term exploitation.   At the end of his verbal dressing down, they agreed he would not go overboard again without first consulting her. To at least make sure there was a plan for how to get him back onboard. She also suggested they rig him up with floatation devices that he could inflate underwater to carry him back to the surface. (J---- suspected that she did not actually believe that he could neither swim nor float.) He agreed to let them try this scheme. They strapped him into an inflatable vest with a little cord. Once in the water, he would pull the cord, and theoretically, rise to the surface.
Nope. He was like Mjölnir in the water. Only the power of Thor, and not this puny vest, could lift him. He stood firmly on the bottom of the deep end of one of the ship’s pools, feeling a fool, his vision hampered by the inflated vest as it tried to rise, as effectively as a toy balloon trying to carry away a child.
Maybe it would work in the salt water, she said, grasping at straws.
He was not game to try again.)
*****
In the current port of call girls, he had exhausted all of the “things to do with no human interaction” and dared to visit “Aunt Betty’s Bordello and Music Hall.” The brochure on board had promised a self-guided tour and musical revue, both of which were types of activities normally minimally acceptable in terms of not talking to anyone. Unfortunately, several of the ‘exhibits’ on the tour were humans in period costumes, speaking with strained Irish accents, and, most dreadfully, ‘soliciting’ for your attentions.
My, as fine a looking young man such as yourself, at sea for months and months, certainly you could use a bit of tender companionship. (and sotto voce, to the other tourists nearby) These young sailor lads ‘pop their cork’ before you can even touch their Blarney stones.
J---- did his best to ignore the idiotically mixed up metaphors and advances. But when he dared try to take a photo of one of the costumed women, “Betty Herself” grabbed him by the arm and would not be ignored.
A dollar in my stocking if you want to be doing that, laddie. And a dollar in the other one as well to get a peek at my treasure chests.
And with all the subtlety of a potato famine, she pulled his head against her rolling landscape of a bosom.
Two dollars for these treasures, and fond memories of my mammaries for those long nights tugging your boat at sea.
Oof.
Once free of her bosomy embrace, he quickly looked for an escape route, and found a side room that was devoid of people. He pretended to submerge himself in a book on a table by the far wall, just in case ‘Betty’ should follow him.
He stood staring, sweating, not even seeing the words when a voice startled him.
She is a bit much, eh?
In the corner, tucked away, was another woman in a costume dress. J---- must have been too discombobulated to notice her when he first dashed into the room.
It’s just the role, you know. I have been “Betty Herself” too, but I do not talk like that so much. If they would read the books in here they would know Betty was Canadian by way of Norway, not Irish. But I guess the phony accent plays better in Irish. It is all scripted anyways, even the ‘handsy’ part of pulling you to her chest. Done a thousand times over. Quite tiresome.
Yea, that makes sense, he replied.
In these books, that is where the real stuff is. The stuff that would interest one such as yourself. The book you are staring at is okay. “The Tales of Treasure”, but it is a secondhand account that plays to cliché. Chapter 13 is not bad. The story of Betty, having stolen away every bit of jewelry and coin she could pinch from her uncouth male patrons and the snooty ‘ladies’ in the music hall, stealing away in the dark of night, running, well sailing away from this shithole existence, but winding up, presumably, at the bottom of the sea.
J---- found her mesmerizing. The flat, honest tone of her voice pulled him in and captivated him to the point of uncomfortable embarrassment.
Well, um, tall tales I guess. Legends make for good storytelling, he said.
Maybe. Maybe. People have been hunting for years. Divers. Salvagers. Governments. Some have found items. Some have even claimed to be onto the ‘Betty load of Booty’. But they only show a few coins, never anything conclusively Betty’s.
How would anyone know if it were really the, um, “Betty Booty”? He mumbled the horribly awkward phrase with more than a bit of shame.
I would know. If they would read the right items in this room, they’d know too.
So you think the B…, the, Bo... treasure, um, it is really still out there to be found?
Up there.
Up?, he asked.
The woman pointed to a spot above where he stood.
Read the one up above your head and you will know what is lost under the water.
J--- looked up and saw books, just ordinary books, on the shelves around him. He reached a hand out, while looking at her face, hoping for an indication of which one to take.
No. You can’t see it. You can’t reach it like that. It’s up on top, out of view. You’re going to need to climb up.
The woman was no longer sitting in the corner chair, and he guessed she meant for him to pull it over and stand up upon it. He struggled to move the overstuffed chair. She offered no help, but he got it over to the shelf. Balancing his feet on either of the tattered arms, his eyes were level the top of the bookcase. There was a small decorative ridge at the top, and behind it what  looked to be 100 years of accumulated dust. Barely visible, there was a slight elevation is a section of the dust. The rectangular shape of a slim volume blended seamlessly with the carpet of undisturbed time. He nudged at it, revealing a leather-bound ledger of some sort. It was scarcely thicker than the layer of grime that had accumulated on and around it. He expected a joke title in the category of World’s Smallest Book, like “Great South African Lovers” or “The Wit and Wisdom of Steven Seagal”. But as he carefully brushed at it, he could not see any printing on the cover at all.
He picked the volume up and shook a bit of the dust, which went straight up his nose and started a sneezing fit. The chair rocked with each nasal explosion and the motion nearly sent him tumbling. He quickly tucked the slender volume into his pocket and grabbed at the chair back with both hands to prevent catastrophe as he convulsed from sneezing.
What the fuck are you doing?
It was the first “Real Betty”, minus the fake Irish accent, flirty manner, and olde tyme swear words.
J---- struggled to compose himself.
I, well, she, we really…
He swiveled his head around, but could not see the second woman.
Get the fuck off the furniture. That old crap is expensive.
Sorry. Sorry. The other Betty said…
What? What are you on about, you little nerd. I’m the only Betty here today and you better get your skinny ass down and out of here before I call security to drag you out.
*****
J---- had to wait for his cabin mate, D-Bag, to leave the room before he dared examine the ‘stolen’ ledger more closely. (Was it really stolen? They didn’t even know it was there and one of them helped him retrieve it. It was only borrowed, really.)
When J---- had gotten back on board, D-Bag was in full primping mode, so the wait time was unpredictable and excruciating. When he finally left, J---- made sure the door was secure and proceed to carefully lay the ledger out on his desk for examination. He was interrupted by a knocking and unlatched the door.
Dude, locking the door to jack-off?
No, D-Bag, he said, closing his eyes so he would not have to look at the walking hunk of uncouth. Unfortunately, closing his eye only heightened the impact of the grotesque mix of body washes and man-sprays.
Jeez, dude, you look like you’re gonna puke. Thought even a dweeb like you would have his sea legs by now. Chill, I just forgot my trilby.
D-Bag, left, and once again J---- latched the door and turned to the desk. Another  knocking sound, another deep sigh, and another check of the door, but he found no one there. When he turned back to his desk, she was standing there.
J---- nearly screamed, but swallowed it and hopped about sounding like a pigeon who desperately needed to pee.
Coo roo-c'too-coo. Oh-oo-oor. Hooooooooow.  
I can go anywhere, but am always nowhere.
Whooooooo. (gulp) Who. Are. You?
I told you before, I am Betty. That’s my ledger you fetched down for me.
She wasn’t looking at him, but stood staring down at his desk, an intense passion in her demeanor. Her hand reached for the book, but stopped just short. She sighed deeply and let her hand fall on the book. Her hand fell on it, then passed through it, through the desk, and back to her side.
It’s hell not being able to touch anything.
J---- nearly fainted. Maybe he did faint but just never fell down. He shook his head and swallowed hard, blinking about 100 times a second.
Would. Would you like me to open it for you?
Oh, yes, that would be lovely.
J---- moved to the desk and stood by her side, even though he could have, he guessed, occupied the same space as her. That would be rude though. He gently took the cover and turned it back to reveal the first page.  Every line was written on, though the print was faded. The entries on each line varied in length, some short, some longer, but they didn’t look like a story or diary entries.  
What are these, he asked, bending forward to peer at the fainted markings.
This is my inventory. Every piece I collected over the years. Every piece I took with me on the boat to escape. Every piece I died for. Every piece you will get back for me.
Get back? How?
You know very well how, Water Walker.
J---- stumbled backwards to his bunk. His head was spinning. Of course a ghost who could appear through walls would know about him. Of course she would want his help. Maybe this was his way to... wait, none of this really made any sense.
You can’t touch anything, right?
I cannot. Not in a hundred years have I been able to touch, to move anything, to feel texture, or heat, or grime. I miss grime. I miss smokey ashen wood chips after a fire has burned out. I miss food. I miss flesh.
And these items. These things you have ledgered and want me to retrieve. Will you be able to touch them? Are they magical?
No, you silly romantic. No.
Then... why?
I want to see them. I want to look at them. Years of servicing smelly, brutal, ignorant men. I worked for every one of these items, and I deserve to see them.
You could go to where they are now and see them.
Under water, like a fish? Pass through the sediment, and the cases, and the wrapping? In the dark of the deep? No, that isn’t what I want. I want them to be up here, in the open and displayed, cleaned and cared for, so that I can look at each piece at my leisure.
J---- swallowed dryly.
Okay, I will get them for you.
Ghost Betty looked at him with burning scepticism, but her look faded when she saw he was staring at his own hands, trembling.
Don’t you want to know what’s in it for you?
Oh, sure, um, right. What’s in it for me? (Other than you not haunting me for the rest of my life, he thought.)
No one knows what’s down there. So if several of the very valuable, but less traceable, and easily saleable pieces were to go missing, I wouldn’t mind, and no one would notice.
Who’s going to not notice? I mean, no one knows what’s there but you. What am I to do with the pieces I bring back up for you?
You will donate them to Aunt Betty’s Bordello and Music Hall, of course. You will stipulate they are to be displayed for the public as being on loan from ‘The Collection of J----- H--------, Water Walker Esq.”
What collection? I don’t have any collection. (He chose not to mention his Superhero figurines back home. Quite the collection though they were.)
Oh, my dear naive boy. There are many treasures you, and only you, will be able to find, once you know who to ask.
*****
Aunt Betty’s Bordello and Music Hall would have to be renovated to be able to display these treasures securely, but the ownership was overwhelmed and ecstatic to have this boost to their stale business. J---- had to spin some tales about ‘just tripping over them’ on his underwater walk, versus the truth of being guided to them by Ghost Betty. And ‘of course, it is just the right thing to do’ was why he loaned them for display rather than profiting from them. “They belonged to Betty so they belong here” he had come up with by way of explaining why he wasn’t keeping them. It certainly raised fewer questions than explaining that Ghost Betty wanted to look at them and he feared she would follow him around the globe whispering graphic tales of olde tyme sex in his ear if he didn’t.  
The only person he confided in was Art. The old man, seemingly, had no problem accepting the story and helped J---- formulate a plan.
J---- would quit his cruise ship job virtually immediately upon reaching a port that offered a discrete opportunity to sell one of the lessor items. Lessor being a misleading word in that Art felt the sale of one item would certainly allow J--- to pay of his broken contract and pay for much more beyond that. Diamonds. Emeralds. Rubys. Art advised removing the stones from a piece or two and selling them as loose jewels as the safest way to start his fortune.

After that, well, J---- would Water Walk his way to untold riches. Assuming he could find one or two more of these spirits that Ghost Betty had told him about...
Missed part 1? You can read it here: ARTMAN And be sure to follow David on Twitter



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