The Good Word of Sprout

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Shared Joke

It was raining ice as he walked to the grocery store. He bought a can of tomato soup and a couple of red potatoes. There were no lines at the registers. As he counted out his bills, he could smell himself. The cashier smiled past him at the other cashier, high school girls sharing some sort of joke.

He turned around to the other cashier. "I'm sorry I stink."

The other cashier blushed and giggled, covering her mouth. She ran down the produce aisle, still giggling.

"She thinks you're cute," his cashier said, and handed him the change and the receipt.

It was snowing as he walked home.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Brief Reign

Three children play on the great mound of dirty ice in the parking lot. One, a funny little man in a puffy blue jacket, stands atop with arms raised and barks:

"Here ye, here ye...Here ye, here ye...I love Little Caesar's pizza! Cheese and pepperoni!"

The other two, a small boy and larger girl, struggle with each other for the right to topple him to the pavement and announce their favorite pizza toppings.

"I am what I eat!" he yells. "I am the big cheese! King of the Pizza! King Pepperoni!"

The other two tumble, giggling, to the base of the mountain.

The blue boy arches his back and screams to the sky, "Long live King Pepperoooooo..." as he slips and bounces down the back side of the oily ice to the sidewalk.

He dashes around to drag down his rivals, Princess Sausage and Prince Extra Cheese.

Monday, February 19, 2007


"Describe beauty," I tell myself.

Beauty is a waitress with a white shirt and black pants with a black apron, and in the pocket of that apron is a pink rose, or do I mean under the pocket of that apron?

Beauty is a pile of dirty black snow on which flutters a McDonald's bag with the "I'm" and "it" smudged with dirt so it just reads "Lovin." In that bag is a golden brown double cheeseburger that will surely make me sick if I eat it and eating it anyway.

Beauty is a vase full of fresh parsley, cascading green towards my kitchen table on which sits a glittery pipe packed full of fresh parsley.

"Okay, I'm done," I tell myself.

"No, you're not."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Just Say No

"Yay? Did you just say 'yay'?"

"Nay. I said 'yea.'"

"Yea? You say? You said 'yea'?"

"'Yea' I said. I say 'yea.'"

"You may have said 'Yay.'"

"I may yet say 'yay,' but I said 'yea.'"

"This is stupid."


"Yea. End it."



Thursday, February 15, 2007

Overheard Under the Overpass

Having nothing better to do Valentine's night, I decided to spend it under the overpass with a bunch of stock-traders turned alcoholics turned indigent. There was nowhere to plug in the space heater I brought, so the flowers died and the chocolates froze, but the brandy was a hit. After I set up my sleeping bag, popped a bunch of diet pills (no way was I going to fall asleep), and announced that I would pepper spray anyone who came within arm's length of me, I listened. I had no choice but to listen, because after the pepper spray announcement, everyone moved to the other side, cardboard boxes and all. What I overheard:

"That guy [me]. Wuh-zee doin'? Wuh-zee doin'? Writin' or somethin'. Some kinda big shot. You gotta knife? This jerky's frozen."

"That's not jerky, Bob."


(Traffic noise)

"Smell that? That smells like eggs. You still got those ketchup packets? Quick, quick, before the eggs go away."


"You wanna know wat I tink? I tink dat Bush's suggestin' dat dare's no udder e'splanation fer eye-ranian-made weapons'n eye-raq udder dan oh-ficial eye-ranian sponsorshit uh smugglin' dem dare. Course, mos'weapons whoever k'buy...could buy tru -- 'termediaries -- in the Mill'East. Anyone. Fuckin' anyone. Anyone got a cigarette?"

"Hey, I got a cigarette."

"Not goin' tuh pepper spray me?"

"No. I don't pepper spray anyone without a recognizable accent."

"Gareth Porter's da'name."


"Yeah, you sit there and make fun of the homeless, for your blog. Your fancy blog. Oh, you're such a good writer. Picking on the most vulnerable members of society, you shit. You'd be dead in about forty-eight hours here without the emergency generator you brought for the space heater."

(Overheard in my own head.)

(There are three of us?)


"This guy passed me the other day, real J. Crew, doesn't even make eye contact, and says 'You stink.' My clothes were clean, I showered at the Y, but it don't matter to a guy like that. Then he slips on some ice and falls flat on his back. I run over and rub my ass all over his face."


"I'm bored. Anyone want to get baked and drink some brandy?"


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Valentine's Day Incident

Ah, there you flutter, sweet cherub, just out of reach in the top corner of my shower. I've been looking for you. Come here and give me some of that tasty bitter poison from your arrow. My body is used to poison.

No? Too strong for me you think?

Then I've got something for you. Hold on, let me get it from the closet. Yes, it's a longbow. I took it from a dead body I ran across in Uptown. No match for an AK, apparently. And these are lawn darts. I had them shipped from the Czech Republic so I would have something to do while drinking absinthe.

The window is locked, friend. Now let's not make this more unpleasant than it already is. Hand me your weapon, and I will just touch the tip to my tongue, and then you can have it back.

Okay, have it your way. But don't say I didn't give you a chance.

Take that, you weird diapered fucker!

Oh, Jesus, I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry. I just wanted a taste. One little taste...was that so much to ask? It's all your fault.

It's all my fault. Stop cooing! Stop cooing at me!

This is not going to be easy to clean up.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In Search of Heat

Who poured Tabasco sauce all over the radiator last night?

I did.

But why?

It was cold in my apartment. The radiators have not turned on for days. I called the landlord. I found unsatisfactory his proposed solution of "put on another sweater, Nancy." He pronounced Nancy "NON-see," like a real Sally ("SOLL-ee"). I hung up on him and opened the medicine cabinet. To my horror, my last bottle of K-Y Warming Liquid was just over half-full, leaving none to coat the rest of my body (I have problems finding pants that fit).

So I consulted my good friend Sapphire from Bombay. She laughed at my dilemma.

"What's to laugh at, Saph? I could lose a toe. I could lose the little one."

"Dear, paranoid, crazy Sprout," she said, "don't worry. Come back in twenty minutes. I can fix everything."

I consulted her again. My face glowed rosy red.

I consulted her again. I gyrated in the mirror: "Lasso, lasso, whip!"

I consulted her again. My nose grew larger and more like cottage cheese.

And so I awoke this morning with the vague, ghostly memory of cackling as I shook vinegar and fermented liquid peppers down between the silver painted segments.

The neighbor, as is his (paid) custom, slipped under the door a typed record of what he could hear through the walls the previous night. It read:

"Saph, you are magic. I-love-you-I-love-you-I-love-you!" (He has such good syntax.)

Then: "The Spoonful! (cue falsetto [he's a former stage manager]) I believe in magic -- in a young girl's heart...(silence)... and it's magic, if the music is groovy...the magic's in the music and the music's in me...(silence)...Do you believe like I believe?...(louder)...Do you believe like I believe?"

It might have been a screaming nightmare, I thought. But the smell of burnt vinegar told me otherwise.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

2002 Journal Entries

From a journal entry May 19, 2002:

I would like to receive a paycheck for existing. Is it not work to exist? All this breathing and eating and moving around surely should merit some form of compensation. I suppose that existing is a paycheck onto itself. Damn this minimum wage.

July 10, 2002:

I like songs and would like to buy a book about songwriting. Not sissy songwriting about rainbows or itsy-bitsy things, but about lust and hate and disorder. About pain and love and debauchery. Thinking about this makes me want to throw a chair out the window.

August 5, 2002:

Here today I sit in the Wisconsin north woods after a day of fishing and shooting. I had never shot a gun before today, and I look forward to doing it again. It combines the pleasure of throwing a baseball with the adrenaline of starting a dangerous fire. Guns are mindless killing devices, but (and?) they are awfully fun.