The Day the Yacht Club Was Gone

Gino’s Entry 3-22-2010

[Subtitle: Roy's Story- ED]

It was a daunting and melancholy task to read this year’s fiction contest submissions, the topic being what it was. Of the six hundred submissions however, only a handful were over eleven words long, and half of those were disqualified for plagiarism. Fortunately the judges all have degrees in literature, and the attempts to pass off War and Peace, Moby Dick, and Ulysses, were detected, though we were still impressed that someone took the time to write them out by hand. The winning story, as you will see, adds a bit of science fiction flare to the possibility of a world without the Yacht Club, as well as a poignant familiarity with the bar’s customer’s and staff. It’s almost as if it were written by someone who works there. . . .

The Day The Yacht Club Was Gone

[this is Scary -WitchDoctor-ED]

By Narcissus Hughes

The handsome, intelligent, well built bartender with the excellent sense of humor arrived at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club at 9:30 am as he did every Saturday morning to make sure the bar was ready to open at noon; to put the boat in the water between regattas, or the car on the track between races as he liked to think. It took quite a beating on Friday nights and another on Saturdays, so it is only fair to add wisdom to his catalogue of virtues. He stood with his sensuous mouth half open, a mouth so many beautiful, nubile, wealthy women wanted to kiss. His right hand was raised a little higher than his waist and forward about ten inches holding a key which should have been about to enter a keyhole and unlock the door of the bar. But the keyhole wasn’t in the door. In fact there was no door. Nor was there a wall. The Euclid Avenue Yacht Club was gone.

Although he was famous throughout the city of Atlanta for his unshakable cool and grace under pressure, Xeno, the bartender, moved back from the non-door and let loose a stream of obscenities and curses directed mostly at poor old God (who may or may not have been blameless). Only five minutes away from his first cup of coffee after a long, hard Friday-night of drinking! Also it seemed pretty certain he was out of a job, not, oddly, due to any gross negligence on his part; it was just unlikely anyone would pay him to stand in a deserted alley. But the worst part of this already terrible, terrible moment was the realization he would have to call the owners and, if he figured out how, the police.

He took a deep breath and stepped backwards ten paces into the middle of Euclid Avenue, surveying the city block, but nothing looked out of place except that the Yacht Club was completely gone.

Xeno took his cell phone from his pocket, conjured the owner’s number, then closed the phone and returned to the sidewalk as a two-ton liquor-delivery truck hurtled past. When the dust settled he realized with a sudden clarity that time was not of the essence. It wasn’t as if a smash n’ grab had occured and every second the Yacht Club’s brand new flat -screen HD TVs or the (empty) cash register were getting farther and farther away. He rationalized thusly: The owners really loved the bar . . . there was nothing they could do about its disappearance . . . they would find out soon enough anyway . . . they deserved a couple more hours (at the most) to live in blissful unawareness on this exceptionally beautiful spring day. Nor did it really seem like a job especially suited for the Atlanta Police Department, despite their diverse areas of expertise and special training. Also, having had no coffee he was in no mood to be ridiculed.

For an eternal two minutes Xeno stood paralyzed, waffling between the two plans he had devised, one being do nothing, the second being gather as much help around himself as possible. Jack Bauer wasn’t in his cell phone directory so he decided to just go through it alphabetically, keenly aware that noone whose number he had was specifically trained for situations of this nature, but surely their combined brain power and talents were at least comparable to anything he would be able to scare up on the hated internet, the virtues and capabilities of which so many otherwise respectable and intelligent people droned on and on about ad nauseum. Anyway he started with Allen and Amanda. After hanging up with Jim McNamara, who was on his way, angry and armed to the teeth, a car drove up and skidded to a stop in the middle of the street. Randall Bailey jumped out, leaving the engine running and the door wide opened. As if this were a pre-arranged cue, Allen came running up, followed by Crazy Mike and Chicken Boy. Donald rode up on a bicycle with a case of cold Budweiser in the large basket between his handlebars. Jeffrey the Tiny Monkey arrived in his cruiser and started handing around Dixie Riddle Cups full of Tito’s vodka. New Zealand Lindsay Long and Celia “seal yer eyes” Rice, on their way to open up Rag-O-Rama, an outlet for feminine hygeine products down the street, did double takes when they saw the empty space where the Yacht Club used to be. Catching sight of Xeno, about whom they had both been plagued by sexual fantasies since their early teens, they drew up rein and joined the crowd. Within a half hour lawn chairs, blankets and beach umbrellas appeared along with pinic baskets laden with fish, loaves of bread and bottles of water and wine. Ross and Roy scribbled out physics equations on legal pads. Colleen elbowed adoring young women aside and presented herself before Xeno to ask, “Wasn’t it just last week we were watching that report on the Gamma Ray Burst?”

* * * * * * * * * * *

“Cool! I’ll turn it on!” Xeno said into the phone and then hung up. “Roy! That was Meredith. Turn on CNN! Do you still have the clicker?”

“I don’t know,” Roy said looking at the remote control in his hand.

“She said a Gamma Ray Burst was about to hit the moon!” Xeno yelled down the busy bar. “Handle it!”

“Gamma rays?” Roy asked, pointing and pushing tiny buttons.

“Holy shit! That’s right! I forgot,” Ross said, snatching the remote away from Roy. “Remember that Neutron Star going super about seven years ago?”

“Oh yeah,” Roy said.

“Well, It was eight light years away.”

“So, in a year we’ll be able to see it?” Jim McNamara asked.

“Maybe right now,” Ross said, looking up at a super-serious Wolf Blitzer reporting from the Situation Room. “Some idiot calculated that a Gamma Ray Burst could pass between the moon and Mars.”

“Gamma Ray Burst On Moon Imminent,” The closed captioning said. “Live Footage From International Space Station.”

“This is going to be just like that tsunami hitting Hawaii,” Roy groaned.

“Or not hitting it,” Xeno said. I wonder where that thing did hit. . . .”

“Dart of intense gamma radiation to hit moon at 4pm”.

“A dart!” Donald exclaimed. He had been making his way to the bar from the dart board trying to watch the tv at the same time and was amazed when Xeno put a beer into his hand without him asking. “If only I could play darts the way you tend bar,” Donald said.

“You’d be the best dart player in Atlanta,” Tommy and [Chantelle-ED-
WD] said in unison.

“Savage celestial shot targets Earth’s solar system.”

“Is that the thing that’s supposed to create a black hole?” Crazy Mike asked, gesturing for another gin and tonic.

“No,” Xeno said, serving it up. “The black hole thing is in Switzerland.”

“No!” Rich screamed, feeling no pain. “That’s the particle accelerator! I’m an engineer!”

“Choo choo!” Xeno said, placing a bottle of Pilsner Urquel in front of Rich.

“Xeno! Attend me!” Jim McNamara said, having finished his beer almost a nanosecond ago. “I’m also an engineer, Rich. And the only black hole around here is between your ears!”

“Choo choo!” Xeno reiterated, placing a can of Schlitz in front of Jim.

“Barfight!” Army Michael yelled, deflating the lethal situation.

“Quiet! Quiet!” Allen shouted. “I think the moon is breaking up.”

“I’m having deja vu,” Roy and Xeno said together.

“Gamma Ray Burst energy could exceed output of our own sun over its entire 10 billion year life.”

“That’s a booty of energy,” Randal said.

“Too bad we can’t harness it,” D&D Bill said.

“Tightly focused beam to come from Sagittarius constellation like deadly archer’s arrow.”
[we are all dead now - ED-WD]

“What would happen if that beam destroyed the moon?” Dr. “Diver Down” Chad asked as he finished putting a couple stitches in Mike Bogan’s foot.

“It would be even worse than if it destroyed the Yacht Club,” Bogan said.

“Shut up, Mike,” said Kim Novak.

“Aren’t you guys supposed to be in Iowa?” Chef Jon asked.

“There was too high . . . too high of a chance the Gamma Ray Burst could hit us there,” Bogan said.

“We came back for the end of the world . . . or the moon, or whatever,” Kim said.

“Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) strike on moon could affect earth”

“What’s everybody watching on the boob tube?” asked Marty the Plumber as he arrived with Chicken boy in tow.

“There’s a special news report on the effects of the Yacht Club getting hit by the Gamma Ray Burst,” Xeno said, setting out beers and shots.

“No there isn’t!” Roy said, his physicist sensibilities aghast at this untruth.

“Mankind would have to struggle to adapt and survive.”

“See?” Xeno said.

“I’d have to say Xeno’s right on this one,” Marty the Plumber said.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Xeno said.

“We would have to grapple with a radically altered environment.”

“My God! Xeno’s lie has become the truth!” Leonard said.

“Yikes.” Roy said amidst a chorus of dismay as several people raised their drinks to toast.

“Let me get another Guinness before the Yacht Club gets zapped,” Sioux Ellen said.

“Maybe you should all get another drink while you still can,” Xeno said, starting her Guinness.

“On the house?” Guatemala Mark suggested.

“Nope. And now that I know I have a finite supply of product I think it only fair that be tipped in advance.”

“That’s going too far,” One-eyed Bob said.

“Not to mention that it’s pure evil,” Leonard sighed. Grudgingly everyone checked their drink levels and ordered more, even several people who still had plenty. As Xeno busied himself filling orders, several more patrons entered the bar and each received an update on how the news was preparing the world for the possibility of the Yacht Club being Gamma Rayed. Even Roy joined in, adding an almost scary level of credibility to the explanations.

“Crabs would be disoriented.”

Everyone toasted.

“Sloths would find it increadingly difficult to mate.”

Xeno, swept up in the apocalyptic atmosphere, poured a shot of Coke into a Jagermeister cup for himself.

“Everything would be a mess.”

“Yay!” everyone cheered raising their drinks again.

“It would be like a giant roller derby.”

“Yay!”

“The world would be much more hoatile than it is.”

“Yay!”

“Boo!”

“Shorter life spans.”

“Boo!”

“Human beings could evolve into monsters like something straight out of a science fiction film”

“Boo!”

“It could conceivably be an extinction event.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

The police arrived about an hour after New Zealand and Seal yer eyes tried to rip Xeno’s pants off. They promptly cordoned off the alley where the Yacht Club had been the day before with yellow police tape while E.T. looking men in HAZMET suits meandered around picking up rocks with tongs like the kind Yacht Club bartenders used to place wedges of fruit on the rims of glasses. They also scooped various quantities of sand and dust into tiny zip-loc baggies, for which there is no bar-life analogy. The scientists and cops eventually crowded the regular customers out right about the time the Yacht Club would have opened for business. Across the street, Xeno fashioned a crude megaphone from a rolled-up Creative Loafing and addressed the crowd.

“Everybody! At the count of three close your eyes and pretend this didn’t happen!” Xeno, bless his heart, was overly fond of children’s fantasy movies such as Matilda and School of Rock in which this technique would have set the world right. “One . . . two . . . three!” Sadly, the Yacht Club was still gone when the crowd opened their eyes. “OK!” Xeno cried desperately through his Loaf, “Evidently someone peeked, so we have to try it again.” A massive groan went up from the crowd, and there was murmuring that this plan might not work.

“I want a Yacht Dog!” D&D Bill yelled.

“A Sizzlin’ Steak!” Randall screamed.

“My second Rumplemintz!” from McNamara.

“Galley Burger!”

“Hippy’s homemade pies!”

“I miss the bell!”

“The Window Table!”

“Curling!”

“My dear, dear friends,” Xeno pleaded.

“Chilimac!”

“We’ll have to watch horrible flat-screen TVs!”

“What about Halloween?”

“Where are we supposed to go?”

“What are we supposed to do?”

“Why, God, why?”

* * * * *

On a cold, windy, overcast winter day . . . January 11th, 2012 to be exact, three gray figures made their way through the ruined wreck of a slum, formerly a thriving, eclectic neighborhood known as Little Five Points. Where once a colorful assortment of urban campers bartered spontaneous poetry in exchange for a cheap meal . . . where wealthy, rebellious suburban teens had pilgrimaged to find sacred, rare parts for their custom skateboards . . . now only a handful of shadowy outcasts peered furtively from broken windows like feral cats waiting for unwary prey to cross their path.

The three figures stopped in front of the dark facade of buildings where the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club used to be. Appraising the faded tattered police tape which flapped ineffectually in the eddies of unnatural dust devils, the three stooped beneath it and made their way to the heart of the haunted vacancy. Tiny tornados darted hither and thither creating a distinctly vacuous and obscene atmosphere.

“According to my calculations,” Ross said, “it’s less than a millimeter in diameter.”

“Listen,” Roy said, gesturing with his hands as if he were trying to demonstrate how big a fish he’d just caught was. “It will still gobble up at least a thousand atoms in the first year . . . and then it will double every year! You have no idea how much it’s going to consume!”

“Two thousand atoms the second year?” Xeno offered. “Four thousand the third?”

“The difference between the Yacht Club and a tiny black hole really depends on perspective,” Ross said.

“We need an irony snob.”

“Maybe if we could divert enough energy from that transformer that powers the American Apparel sign we could create enough seismic torque to leverage the Yacht Club out of the tiny black hole,” Xeno said. The look of disgust he received from Roy was priceless.

“Wait,” Ross said, looking at the power lines and scribbling in his legal pad. That actually might work.”

“Really?” Xeno said.

“Of course not!” Ross said and smacked him in the head. “This isn’t Space 1999, its suck-ass real life and there’s no Yacht Club!.”

“This totally blows.”

That The Yacht Club had become a black hole was an irony not lost on its previous customers, many of whom still felt inexplicably drawn to that twilight alleyway. During sad times they came to forget, happy times to celebrate and share. And sometimes they would congrgegate in groups of three or four, sitting crosslegged in the dirt of that filthy alley and reflect on what a bitch it was to try and fill an empty place in your soul with a black hole.

THE ENDGino’Gino’s Entry 3-22-2010

It was a daunting and melancholy task to read this year’s fiction contest submissions, the topic being what it was. Of the six hundred submissions however, only a handful were over eleven words long, and half of those were disqualified for plagiarism. Fortunately the judges all have degrees in literature, and the attempts to pass off War and Peace, Moby Dick, and Ulysses, were detected, though we were still impressed that someone took the time to write them out by hand. The winning story, as you will see, adds a bit of science fiction flare to the possibility of a world without the Yacht Club, as well as a poignant familiarity with the bar’s customer’s and staff. It’s almost as if it were written by someone who works there. . . .

The Day The Yacht Club Was Gone

[this is Scary -WitchDoctor-ED]

By Narcissus Hughes

The handsome, intelligent, well built bartender with the excellent sense of humor arrived at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club at 9:30 am as he did every Saturday morning to make sure the bar was ready to open at noon; to put the boat in the water between regattas, or the car on the track between races as he liked to think. It took quite a beating on Friday nights and another on Saturdays, so it is only fair to add wisdom to his catalogue of virtues. He stood with his sensuous mouth half open, a mouth so many beautiful, nubile, wealthy women wanted to kiss. His right hand was raised a little higher than his waist and forward about ten inches holding a key which should have been about to enter a keyhole and unlock the door of the bar. But the keyhole wasn’t in the door. In fact there was no door. Nor was there a wall. The Euclid Avenue Yacht Club was gone.

Although he was famous throughout the city of Atlanta for his unshakable cool and grace under pressure, Xeno, the bartender, moved back from the non-door and let loose a stream of obscenities and curses directed mostly at poor old God (who may or may not have been blameless). Only five minutes away from his first cup of coffee after a long, hard Friday-night of drinking! Also it seemed pretty certain he was out of a job, not, oddly, due to any gross negligence on his part; it was just unlikely anyone would pay him to stand in a deserted alley. But the worst part of this already terrible, terrible moment was the realization he would have to call the owners and, if he figured out how, the police.

He took a deep breath and stepped backwards ten paces into the middle of Euclid Avenue, surveying the city block, but nothing looked out of place except that the Yacht Club was completely gone.

Xeno took his cell phone from his pocket, conjured the owner’s number, then closed the phone and returned to the sidewalk as a two-ton liquor-delivery truck hurtled past. When the dust settled he realized with a sudden clarity that time was not of the essence. It wasn’t as if a smash n’ grab had occured and every second the Yacht Club’s brand new flat -screen HD TVs or the (empty) cash register were getting farther and farther away. He rationalized thusly: The owners really loved the bar . . . there was nothing they could do about its disappearance . . . they would find out soon enough anyway . . . they deserved a couple more hours (at the most) to live in blissful unawareness on this exceptionally beautiful spring day. Nor did it really seem like a job especially suited for the Atlanta Police Department, despite their diverse areas of expertise and special training. Also, having had no coffee he was in no mood to be ridiculed.

For an eternal two minutes Xeno stood paralyzed, waffling between the two plans he had devised, one being do nothing, the second being gather as much help around himself as possible. Jack Bauer wasn’t in his cell phone directory so he decided to just go through it alphabetically, keenly aware that noone whose number he had was specifically trained for situations of this nature, but surely their combined brain power and talents were at least comparable to anything he would be able to scare up on the hated internet, the virtues and capabilities of which so many otherwise respectable and intelligent people droned on and on about ad nauseum. Anyway he started with Allen and Amanda. After hanging up with Jim McNamara, who was on his way, angry and armed to the teeth, a car drove up and skidded to a stop in the middle of the street. Randall Bailey jumped out, leaving the engine running and the door wide opened. As if this were a pre-arranged cue, Allen came running up, followed by Crazy Mike and Chicken Boy. Donald rode up on a bicycle with a case of cold Budweiser in the large basket between his handlebars. Jeffrey the Tiny Monkey arrived in his cruiser and started handing around Dixie Riddle Cups full of Tito’s vodka. New Zealand Lindsay Long and Celia “seal yer eyes” Rice, on their way to open up Rag-O-Rama, an outlet for feminine hygeine products down the street, did double takes when they saw the empty space where the Yacht Club used to be. Catching sight of Xeno, about whom they had both been plagued by sexual fantasies since their early teens, they drew up rein and joined the crowd. Within a half hour lawn chairs, blankets and beach umbrellas appeared along with pinic baskets laden with fish, loaves of bread and bottles of water and wine. Ross and Roy scribbled out physics equations on legal pads. Colleen elbowed adoring young women aside and presented herself before Xeno to ask, “Wasn’t it just last week we were watching that report on the Gamma Ray Burst?”

* * * * * * * * * * *

“Cool! I’ll turn it on!” Xeno said into the phone and then hung up. “Roy! That was Meredith. Turn on CNN! Do you still have the clicker?”

“I don’t know,” Roy said looking at the remote control in his hand.

“She said a Gamma Ray Burst was about to hit the moon!” Xeno yelled down the busy bar. “Handle it!”

“Gamma rays?” Roy asked, pointing and pushing tiny buttons.

“Holy shit! That’s right! I forgot,” Ross said, snatching the remote away from Roy. “Remember that Neutron Star going super about seven years ago?”

“Oh yeah,” Roy said.

“Well, It was eight light years away.”

“So, in a year we’ll be able to see it?” Jim McNamara asked.

“Maybe right now,” Ross said, looking up at a super-serious Wolf Blitzer reporting from the Situation Room. “Some idiot calculated that a Gamma Ray Burst could pass between the moon and Mars.”

“Gamma Ray Burst On Moon Imminent,” The closed captioning said. “Live Footage From International Space Station.”

“This is going to be just like that tsunami hitting Hawaii,” Roy groaned.

“Or not hitting it,” Xeno said. I wonder where that thing did hit. . . .”

“Dart of intense gamma radiation to hit moon at 4pm”.

“A dart!” Donald exclaimed. He had been making his way to the bar from the dart board trying to watch the tv at the same time and was amazed when Xeno put a beer into his hand without him asking. “If only I could play darts the way you tend bar,” Donald said.

“You’d be the best dart player in Atlanta,” Tommy and [Chantelle-ED-
WD] said in unison.

“Savage celestial shot targets Earth’s solar system.”

“Is that the thing that’s supposed to create a black hole?” Crazy Mike asked, gesturing for another gin and tonic.

“No,” Xeno said, serving it up. “The black hole thing is in Switzerland.”

“No!” Rich screamed, feeling no pain. “That’s the particle accelerator! I’m an engineer!”

“Choo choo!” Xeno said, placing a bottle of Pilsner Urquel in front of Rich.

“Xeno! Attend me!” Jim McNamara said, having finished his beer almost a nanosecond ago. “I’m also an engineer, Rich. And the only black hole around here is between your ears!”

“Choo choo!” Xeno reiterated, placing a can of Schlitz in front of Jim.

“Barfight!” Army Michael yelled, deflating the lethal situation.

“Quiet! Quiet!” Allen shouted. “I think the moon is breaking up.”

“I’m having deja vu,” Roy and Xeno said together.

“Gamma Ray Burst energy could exceed output of our own sun over its entire 10 billion year life.”

“That’s a booty of energy,” Randal said.

“Too bad we can’t harness it,” D&D Bill said.

“Tightly focused beam to come from Sagittarius constellation like deadly archer’s arrow.”
[we are all dead now - ED-WD]

“What would happen if that beam destroyed the moon?” Dr. “Diver Down” Chad asked as he finished putting a couple stitches in Mike Bogan’s foot.

“It would be even worse than if it destroyed the Yacht Club,” Bogan said.

“Shut up, Mike,” said Kim Novak.

“Aren’t you guys supposed to be in Iowa?” Chef Jon asked.

“There was too high . . . too high of a chance the Gamma Ray Burst could hit us there,” Bogan said.

“We came back for the end of the world . . . or the moon, or whatever,” Kim said.

“Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) strike on moon could affect earth”

“What’s everybody watching on the boob tube?” asked Marty the Plumber as he arrived with Chicken boy in tow.

“There’s a special news report on the effects of the Yacht Club getting hit by the Gamma Ray Burst,” Xeno said, setting out beers and shots.

“No there isn’t!” Roy said, his physicist sensibilities aghast at this untruth.

“Mankind would have to struggle to adapt and survive.”

“See?” Xeno said.

“I’d have to say Xeno’s right on this one,” Marty the Plumber said.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Xeno said.

“We would have to grapple with a radically altered environment.”

“My God! Xeno’s lie has become the truth!” Leonard said.

“Yikes.” Roy said amidst a chorus of dismay as several people raised their drinks to toast.

“Let me get another Guinness before the Yacht Club gets zapped,” Sioux Ellen said.

“Maybe you should all get another drink while you still can,” Xeno said, starting her Guinness.

“On the house?” Guatemala Mark suggested.

“Nope. And now that I know I have a finite supply of product I think it only fair that be tipped in advance.”

“That’s going too far,” One-eyed Bob said.

“Not to mention that it’s pure evil,” Leonard sighed. Grudgingly everyone checked their drink levels and ordered more, even several people who still had plenty. As Xeno busied himself filling orders, several more patrons entered the bar and each received an update on how the news was preparing the world for the possibility of the Yacht Club being Gamma Rayed. Even Roy joined in, adding an almost scary level of credibility to the explanations.

“Crabs would be disoriented.”

Everyone toasted.

“Sloths would find it increadingly difficult to mate.”

Xeno, swept up in the apocalyptic atmosphere, poured a shot of Coke into a Jagermeister cup for himself.

“Everything would be a mess.”

“Yay!” everyone cheered raising their drinks again.

“It would be like a giant roller derby.”

“Yay!”

“The world would be much more hoatile than it is.”

“Yay!”

“Boo!”

“Shorter life spans.”

“Boo!”

“Human beings could evolve into monsters like something straight out of a science fiction film”

“Boo!”

“It could conceivably be an extinction event.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

The police arrived about an hour after New Zealand and Seal yer eyes tried to rip Xeno’s pants off. They promptly cordoned off the alley where the Yacht Club had been the day before with yellow police tape while E.T. looking men in HAZMET suits meandered around picking up rocks with tongs like the kind Yacht Club bartenders used to place wedges of fruit on the rims of glasses. They also scooped various quantities of sand and dust into tiny zip-loc baggies, for which there is no bar-life analogy. The scientists and cops eventually crowded the regular customers out right about the time the Yacht Club would have opened for business. Across the street, Xeno fashioned a crude megaphone from a rolled-up Creative Loafing and addressed the crowd.

“Everybody! At the count of three close your eyes and pretend this didn’t happen!” Xeno, bless his heart, was overly fond of children’s fantasy movies such as Matilda and School of Rock in which this technique would have set the world right. “One . . . two . . . three!” Sadly, the Yacht Club was still gone when the crowd opened their eyes. “OK!” Xeno cried desperately through his Loaf, “Evidently someone peeked, so we have to try it again.” A massive groan went up from the crowd, and there was murmuring that this plan might not work.

“I want a Yacht Dog!” D&D Bill yelled.

“A Sizzlin’ Steak!” Randall screamed.

“My second Rumplemintz!” from McNamara.

“Galley Burger!”

“Hippy’s homemade pies!”

“I miss the bell!”

“The Window Table!”

“Curling!”

“My dear, dear friends,” Xeno pleaded.

“Chilimac!”

“We’ll have to watch horrible flat-screen TVs!”

“What about Halloween?”

“Where are we supposed to go?”

“What are we supposed to do?”

“Why, God, why?”

* * * * *

On a cold, windy, overcast winter day . . . January 11th, 2012 to be exact, three gray figures made their way through the ruined wreck of a slum, formerly a thriving, eclectic neighborhood known as Little Five Points. Where once a colorful assortment of urban campers bartered spontaneous poetry in exchange for a cheap meal . . . where wealthy, rebellious suburban teens had pilgrimaged to find sacred, rare parts for their custom skateboards . . . now only a handful of shadowy outcasts peered furtively from broken windows like feral cats waiting for unwary prey to cross their path.

The three figures stopped in front of the dark facade of buildings where the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club used to be. Appraising the faded tattered police tape which flapped ineffectually in the eddies of unnatural dust devils, the three stooped beneath it and made their way to the heart of the haunted vacancy. Tiny tornados darted hither and thither creating a distinctly vacuous and obscene atmosphere.

“According to my calculations,” Ross said, “it’s less than a millimeter in diameter.”

“Listen,” Roy said, gesturing with his hands as if he were trying to demonstrate how big a fish he’d just caught was. “It will still gobble up at least a thousand atoms in the first year . . . and then it will double every year! You have no idea how much it’s going to consume!”

“Two thousand atoms the second year?” Xeno offered. “Four thousand the third?”

“The difference between the Yacht Club and a tiny black hole really depends on perspective,” Ross said.

“We need an irony snob.”

“Maybe if we could divert enough energy from that transformer that powers the American Apparel sign we could create enough seismic torque to leverage the Yacht Club out of the tiny black hole,” Xeno said. The look of disgust he received from Roy was priceless.

“Wait,” Ross said, looking at the power lines and scribbling in his legal pad. That actually might work.”

“Really?” Xeno said.

“Of course not!” Ross said and smacked him in the head. “This isn’t Space 1999, its suck-ass real life and there’s no Yacht Club!.”

“This totally blows.”

That The Yacht Club had become a black hole was an irony not lost on its previous customers, many of whom still felt inexplicably drawn to that twilight alleyway. During sad times they came to forget, happy times to celebrate and share. And sometimes they would congrgegate in groups of three or four, sitting crosslegged in the dirt of that filthy alley and reflect on what a bitch it was to try and fill an empty place in your soul with a black hole.

THE END

The Big Issue – by Gino

If you are one of those people who gave up drinking for Lent or, God help you, are still sticking to your New Year’s resolution by avoiding the temptations of the Yacht Club despite the Delicious, home-cooked, inexpensive food and excellent social opportunities to find a suitable mate, it is with mixed feelings of awe and contempt that I now offer you an opportunity to catch up on the latest hot topic of conversation at your favorite neglected public house.  Actually, even if you’ve been around, but are a little put off by the vehemence and passion of the hot topic, and would prefer to see it sorted out while at the privacy of your own computer terminal (wink wink) I think we can help you out. I am referring, of course to . . . (prepare for your blood pressure to skyrocket) health care reform.

Because I am an ultra type-A personality (In other words a real go-getter who cannot even conceive of biting off more than I can chew) the alleged monumental scope of the topic is undaunting, so much so that I feel confident in combining it with another controversy, namely whether the clientele of the Yacht Club is more efficient at mining information than the internet.  What follows is essentially an analysis of the thoroughness of the internet as an aid to understanding health care versus the efficiency of the Yacht Club.  Fortunately we will not have to become bogged down in technical definitions of terms such as efficiency or analysis, since the reader may supply his or her own, as long as they are the same for both entities.

According to Yacht Club customers the health care reform can be broken down into two categories;  category A which describes it as good, excellent, wonderful, beneficial, advantageous, creditable, laudable, swell, superior, and well-meaning; and category B which describes it as bad, hurtful, malignant, annoying, outrageous, depraved, abusive, oppressive, and sucky.

As you have probably gleaned by pecking through these crumbs, most Yacht Club conversations are high on passion but sorely bereft of substance and specificity.  Sadly, the internet, while seeming to be an endless feast of information, is just more of the same.  But it’s more like this . . . ” The new health care system is absolutely going to destroy the very foundations of this country” vs. “The new health care system is what this country is all about.”.  “It takes away our rights” vs. “It provides us with rights.”  “It imposes the tyranny of . . . it frees us from the tyranny of . . . .”.

Notice anything missing?  Substance?  Specificity?

Here’s what people say when I cheat and try to steer conversations in the Yacht Club:

“Now my health care coverage is going to go up!”

“Now maybe my health care coverage will stop going up!”

“We’re doomed!  Now we’re going to be like Europe!”

“We’re saved!  Now we’re going to be more like Europe!”

“The government is finally taking away our basic freedoms!  I knew this would happen.”

“The government is finally giving us our basic rights!  I knew this would happen.”

I really wanted to present to those of you who have been absent a while a collection of anecdotes that maybe you could piece together so you wouldn’t feel you had missed anything while you were on your Lent or New Years Hiati (possibly plural of hiatus, not to be confused with that country with the earthquake.)  But, as noone in the Yacht Club has anything tangible to convey, I have no choice but to step in and relate my own story.  Sort of, but not much, like a Senate tie breaker.

When I quit my job at Barnes and Noble in 1995 one of the first things I did was get health insurance. (It was from a company called Continental.)  It cost me $145 a month with a $1000 deductible.  When I dropped it in 2005 it was $570 a month with a $10,000 deductible.  I dropped it because I couldn’t afford it.  OF COURSE I instantly got sick and was diagnosed with something that would forever be a pre-existing condition.  Was it my fault?  Getting sick wasn’t.  Am I sorry?  Yes.  Is it fair that now I have to die a slow torturous death while every crack dealer in Atlanta gets treated instantly for gunshot wounds by the Grady Hospital Emergency room and then gets to live a long, sexually adventurous life in a comfortable prison where all of their medical needs will be seen to?  (Ethical Gray-area alert.)

BUT . . .

Because I have an ulterior motive, (demonstrating that the Yacht Club functions as a reasonable substitute for the internet)  and advance it by allowing my own anecdotal story, I am wracked with Catholic guilt about my hidden agenda, so I’ve decided, in order to return the Yacht Club and the internet to a level playing field, to also include a conversation I “accidentally” overheard while tending bar (which is analogous to “lurking” on the web).  This will never happen again. (No matter what you think “this” is.)

Anyway, the conversation was between Jim McNamara and some liberal-leaning person in which Jim lamented that it wasn’t fair that he had invested a lot of time and effort and money into making sure that he was medically covered for a variety of contingencies using rules that were already in place.  I have to admit that from his perspective it isn’t fair and it would be nice if he could get some reward or credit for his dogged perseverance, but probably there is no such allowance for that in the new system.

My point in bringing up his story is that there actually are people out there on both sides of the issue who understand what’s going on, and to some of those people it is going to be grossly unfair that all the money and time they’ve spent keeping themselves insured is going to leave them in a similar position on the game board as lazy worthless losers who never even tried to take care of themselves.  And the people who honestly gave it a go, but who fell behind will be there too.  In fact everyone’s going to be more or less tied, which is going to make it a pretty boring game.

The only comfort I can offer to the people who were previously winning is that people’s health is different from other categories where being responsible and working hard are rewarded.  And maybe if the government bangs on this legislation for a couple decades it will end up being pretty cool.  God knows you would need one hell of a super-computer to assimilate all the wishy-washy opinions being offered in the Yacht Club, much less in newspapers, magazines, books and on TV and the internet.

So, as a conclusion of sorts, with the help of my assistant, Roy G. Biv, who moonlights as a statistician and pollster when he is not teaching physics or difracting light, I offer this handy little reference list which you can print out and carry around for when you are confused by conflicting information from different sources.  They are listed here in order from least likely to be credible to most likely to be credible.  (This is not a misprint, nor is it sarcasm, cynicism or irony.  Least credible to most credible:

1) Actually witnessing something with your own senses. (For example looking out a window and seeing rain falling from the sky.

2) Being told something by someone you trust implicitly and who generally has a reputation for truthfulness. (Such as myself)

3) Reading something in a newspaper. (There again, periodicals generally considered reputable; ie. Wall Street Journal New York Times)

4) Seeing something on television. (Often a source of conflict which can be remedied by referring to this heirarchy.  For instance, if the Weather Channel radar shows that it is raining where you are, but you look out the window and see sunshine, that means it is raining and your imperfect senses are deceiving you.)

5) Perfect tie between seeing something on the internet and being told something by someone in the Yacht Club.