Posts Tagged ‘Florida Man’


So, again, not funny, but hey, not every terrible thing that happens in Florida has a ridiculous side. Sometimes it just sucks. DOn’t worry, this is the last of it…back to funny-ha-ha next Friday.

A two-year-old boy from Nebraska, Lane Graves, was attacked by an alligator and dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon at a Disney Land resort, despite their “very proactive program” of “removing alligators that pose a threat.” The body was found sixteen hours later. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stated that in excess of two-hundred-twenty alligators were removed from the resort from 2006 to 2015, then increased to more than 40 from 2015-2016 alone. After Graves’s death, removals doubled to eighty-four in 2017. A few days prior to the incident, four six-foot or larger alligators were removed from the park, and two days after the body was recovered, five alligators were removed and euthanized. It’s almost as if wildlife lives there.

Jacobo, Julia; Brian McBride; Morgan Winsor. “Boy’s Body Found After Gator Attack at Disney Resort, Officials Say.”ABC News. ABC News Internet Ventures.

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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Again, definitely not funny…

Despite a history of domestic violence and being investigated twice by the FBI for alleged ties to terror networks, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen not only passed a 3-day wait period to purchase a handgun, as per Florida Law, but was also able to walk out of the story with an AR-15-type gun the same day of purchase—again, as per Florida law. He went on to kill 49 people and wound 53 at the gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando. He was shot eight times by police on the scene with no drugs or alcohol in his system and wearing two pairs of socks.

Ellis, Ralph; Ashley Fantz, Faith Karimi, & Eliott C. McLaughlin. “Orlando Shooting: 49 Killed, Shooter Pledged ISIS Allegiance.” CNN. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. June 13, 2016.

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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Homwewood Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pa.

To be honest, I have spent very little time on this blog lately. All the posts from The Beast of Gévaudan and Florida Man were scheduled months ago, and while Beast ended a whole ago, Florida Man has just come to an end (citations notwithstanding). And from those citations, Florida Man Friday will continue, I believe, at least until March. [I need to update the Florida Man table of contents, which I will, soon.]

So, what’s been going on…well, I started work on my first non-fiction book — a band biography of the fabulous Swiss tech-thrash trio, Coroner. Super excited about it. I’ve been digging into old magazines and fanzines (which really are a little social habitat of their very own — taking me way, way back to my teen years) and sorting through the many varied releases, both official (yay) and pirated (boo-hiss). I’ve collected what is probably the most complete collection of tour dates and am reaching out to gig attendees for their best memories of particular shows. I’ve got a bunch of contacts, kindly provided by Marky, but have yet to really reach out for interviews, as I need to get solid with all of this information myself before I start bothering people with questions, especially questions relating to activities from, geez, 30+ years ago. All in all, happy with the work, happy with the progress, happy thinking it through and putting things together.

2020, eh? Sucks. Since about March, I’ve seen/heard much commentary on the difficulties of isolating/quarantining, but I have to say, I didn’t start getting itchy until about August or September, and only then when it really hit home that I couldn’t leave the country. For whatever reason, that bothered me more than being stuck in my house. Well, there are known reasons that I won’t get into, but suffice to say, I needed an attitude adjustment, which I managed, and now I’m back to what I suppose many writers do — we stay home, researching and writing. Though, admittedly, it’d be much easier on everyone involved, and faster, if I could hop on a plane and spend a few weeks in Zürich to physically go through these zines and mags myself. Otherwise, I’m relatively content to keep riding this out in my study.

Been painting a little, too. It functions as meditation, so I do both. Hit the gym (the garage). Deal with my fluctuating perimenopausal hormones — what a complete fact of life shitshow that’s been.

In terms of Covid itself, it’s inching ever closer. For months it had been friends or family of friends, which is disconcerting enough, but lately, it’s been friends and family, directly. My sister and her guy have just pulled through, though she was at the ER yesterday for Covid-related pleurisy, which, apparently, can be an issue even in the recovery phase (she’s okay so far). Thankfully, an elderly aunt tested negative. And friends, whom we care about as much as family. So far, though, no one’s been admitted to hospital and everyone’s recovered or recovering.

It’s fucking wild out there. Everywhere (for the most part), but we must concede that the United States has screwed this up probably more than anyone. We can blame Trump, sure, and he deserves an ass-load of it, but honestly, much of this was basic common sense. Basic survival instinct. That should have kicked in, right? What can we say about a society who’s collectively lost its foundational instinct for survival? Well, not much good can be said of that, and it speaks volumes to where we’ve been politically and where I suspect we’ll go. Unfortunately, even if the knuckle draggers are a minority, that’s all it takes for a virus to spread out of control, and the majority suffer for it. We can say the same politically, and despite the light reprieve, I don’t have very high hopes that 2022 or 2024 is going to mitigate the condition of the society that welcomed this entire mess. I think we might be too far gone. But, who knows…?

Speaking of how suck-ass 2020 has been — we had seven cats and now we have five. I can’t even go into it, it’s so heartbreaking, but basically we lost two of our most vulnerable, most in need of care, rescues — one to FIV in July and the other to kidney disease just a few weeks ago. I won’t go into it, but suffice to say, the deaths weren’t easy and the gaps left are huge, because they required so much. I know, I know…cats. But it’s hard to take responsibility to a living, sentient being and not be able to save them from everything. We did the best we could under the circumstances, which weren’t easy. But moving on, because this is depressing…

Since the scheduled posts are largely up, I suppose I will have to post here more actively. which is fine, but don’t expect me to blow your mind every time. I’ll talk about whatever I’m working on, whatever’s going on and immediately on mind, and I don’t know…cat pictures. Plenty of those. Well see…

I’ll leave you with some Watchtower, the chapter for whom I just finished reading in Mean Deviation.

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Rupert drives his forest green 1970 Cadillac DeVille convertible down the Tamiami Trail, heading south. He doesn’t put the top down too often, as he still hasn’t gotten used to the intensity of the sun down here—he doesn’t imagine he ever will—though he is sporting a pair of vintage knock-off Ray Buns. He finally got his sunglasses. But, there was no way he could refuse to return and help out Jesus, who’d done so much to help him through all of that mess. Going back to “normal” wasn’t an option—not after the Florida experience alone, not to mention adding the reality of Crack Planet, the ótrúlegt vá, the Sprungians. It’s pretty hard to come back from that.

Rupert never went to Crack Planet, and he figured he would someday. Despite understanding that he no longer suffered from anxiety—an impossibility if one had partaken in ótrúlegt vá, which he had—changing his thoughts about it proved to be harder than one might, well, think. His preceived anxiety has improved a lot, but it’s not perfect. It might never be perfect. Changing one’s perception or expectation of one’s reality is harder than kicking any drug, though similar in many ways. But he works on it, pushes his limits, retraining his brain to move past old thought patterns and expanding his comfort zone.

It’s work, but it helps that he changed his shitty attitude. He had to accept that living one’s life according to a belief in the inevitable incursion of social entropy on every aspect of one’s existence makes one blind to all the ways it’s not inevitable. And that’s stressful.

Upon reflection, Rupert finds it interesting that, with all the time, effort, and money spent on fighting drug addiction, no one utilizes nearly as many resources addressing the average person’s addiciton to their own shitty thoughts, and yet here he was. But he keeps focused. In fact, it’s safe to say that he and Leenda have become born again negentropists—while obviously accepting the fact of entropy in its various forms in the universe, they choose, in their lives, to hope and strive for some personal order out of that raging chaos.

Rupert drives and wonders whatever became of Bucket.

As for himself, his life has changed a lot. He turns the massive, green auto-eyesore off of Tamiami, pulling into the Osprey School’s Visitor Center’s parking lot. The sun beats down. The air is thick and hot.

He waits, thinking.

Yeah, he thinks he’s made the right decision. He’s doing some good in the world, and not only by making himself a more worthwhile human being on a one-on-one basis—he’s still a professional.

No longer an entropolgist, he and Jesus are Senior Sales Executives at JesRupe (Pronunced: Hay-Sroop) Industries, and also a Senior Sales Consultant to individual national JesRupe franchises, which means a little travel now and then. Neither he, nor Jesus, act as representatives any longer. No more hot, sweaty days behind the FFG for them—they most often conduct business via smartphone from the white, sandy beaches of Siesta Key, tanning their already-brown asses, and occasionally ogling scanitly-clothed passersby. Hey, it’s a living.

But that’s not all. Rupert spends at least half of his weekly work hours doing hard research, as he is on remote faculty at Crack Planet’s ­­Gôddärd Anteé University in their Sun and Crack subdivision, under the umbrella of their Ótrúlegt Vá Studies department. He’s not nearly as well-versed as his Sprungian colleagues, but he’s got the advantage of working in the field—together, they are working to answer some questions, make some advances, make the universe a better place.

What gives ótrúlegt vá its instant rehab properties, despite its being almost molecularly identical to Earth crack? Almost. Unfortunately, the additional unidentifiable molecule involved only rasies more questions than it answers. Perhaps they need to be looking a little more to the left.

Sunlight arrives to Earth as low entropy, high energy light waves, and leaves the Earth’s atmosphere as high entropy, low energy infrared radiation. Is there something notable about Crack Planet’s atmosphere? Is there some force related to the planet itself, like a specialized gravitational pull? Whatever the case, when Earth jettison’s its high entropic, low energy infrared radiation into space, it travels—is pulled?—straight to Crack Planet. How? Why? No one knows exactly. Or vaguely, to be honest. But specialists believe it has something to do with the sun.

Ótrúlegt vá isn’t man-, or Sprungian-, made, like Earth crack—it is mined from the ground. For millions, if not billions, or trillions, of years, this “mineral” has absorbed the Earth’s high entropic, low energy infrared radiation and, over time, like coal creates diamonds, this crack transforms into a low entropic, high energy lightwave. That’s right—ótrúlegt vá is not a solid substance, but a wave, and it glows like the sun at high noon. It is also self-igniting, but that’s a phenonemon for another department. All of this occurs naturally, unlike filthy Earth crack, which is manufactured by humans and means that it must, by default, bring disaster and ruin.

Not so with ótrúlegt vá, this solar offspring—the stuff of gods.

So, Florida—the Sunshine State: Why is it so batshit insane? No one can say for sure, but Rupert has his own little theories. Regular Earth peoples might compare Rupert’s Florida transformation with the coal/diamond scenario, but Rupert understands it was more akin to the ótrúlegt vá scenario.

Rupert arrived in Florida a highly entropic, low energy person. Over the course of his stay, under immense social and professional pressure, he trasmutated from that to a high energy, low entropic individual. See, Florida Men and Women are, by nature, high entropy, low energy. They live unaware of their entropic state, leading them, by larger cultural standards, to not give a shit about much of anything, but their low energy—emotional, physicological, physical—leads them to widespread and chronic drug abuse. What the rest of the nation perceives is a state full of crazy people just getting crazier by the day, but for someone like Rupert, who arrived embodying an unrecognized form of the Floridian Condition—his exposure to the Florida sun, compounded by his interpersonal activities, actually caused the mutation, and instead of becoming more dysfunctional, he became more functional by his own perception and standards. Society, though, would see him as just another Florida Man calling 911 because he hadn’t received his tax returns. Geographical context is, apparently, not important.

So, what about the Sunshine State? This Florida sun, apparently so different from the sunshine falling throughout the rest of the country, the rest of the world . . . well, here is another of Rupert’s theories: It’s not just Florida. But, there are reasons why Florida has its international reputation as a massive outdoor asylum. The first being that the state of Florida has some of the United States’ most unfettered open-record laws (ironically, also called “Sunshine Laws”), which means journalists looking for a wacky scoop on a slow-news day can pilfer through the public record and out the wildest shit the state’s residents have to offer from ther criminal lives. However, some states’ open-record laws are equally permissive, so . . . why Florida?

This is where Rupert thinks the real meat of the matter lies: Everyone goes to Florida—and what do they go for? The weather. The sunshine! Like California, its native-to-transplant ratio is pretty skewed, but California’s open-record laws are more stringent, so while there are people living in both states from all over the country—hell, all over the world—it’s Florida’s general diversity that most frequently gets showcased in the newspapers and online.

The crazy is everywhere, and perhaps, Florida gets more than its fair share of loons, not by nature at this point, but by reputation and self perpetuation. It’s widely known as a haven for nutters—why wouldn’t they flock to this mecca?

Of course, these are all just theories—theories about ótrúlegt vá, about Crack Planet, about Florida, and its ever-scorching, madmen-making sun—which Rupert doesn’t really discuss with his peers. For now. He does discuss it with Leenda, and Jesus, and even Stanley, who’s taken the Dean’s position at GAU, and he agrees that it has merit and is worth pursuing. So, that’s what Rupert does in his spare time.

He’s never been happier or more fullfilled emotionally, socially, or professionally. How is any of this even possible?

* * *

“Oh my God, put the top up, are you crazy?”

Leenda dumps her things into the back seat. Rupert smiles at her, gets out, and they both pull the convertible’s top up and secure it.

“You’re going to burn us both to a crisp,” she says after they get in, then leans over and kisses his cheek, like she does. Although not thrilled with the idea of returning to, and living in, any part of Florida, Leenda had said to Rupert: “I cannot live without you.”

She said those very words.

He remembers those words exactly, because he had looked her straight in the eyes for longer than he thought he’d ever looked anyone in the eyes. He’d been looking for something—some hint of a lie. Some exaggeration. A sign of hyperbole.

He’d found none. A moment of negentropy—in seconds, his Universe collapsed with hers and they birthed a new, fetal plane of existence, a cluster of buzzing, vibrating atoms—that was love.

As they pull out of the parking lot and back onto the Tamiami Trail, from the nearby Spanish Point jungles rises a solitary monkey screech, splitting the heat of the day. It fades into the distance streching out between it and them, and together, here under the blazing sun, none of them gives a shit.


The End.


Yes, it’s the end, but Florida Man Fridays continue, and will until the first week of March — I guess I had more citations than I thought. 

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Kevin James Loibl

Kevin James Loibl

This one just flat-out isn’t funny.

Kevin James Loibl—raised by a violent, abusive mother who eventually died of an aspirin overdose (possibly purposefully, at his urging), then lived with his father’s violent girlfriend, dropped out of college due to a World of Warcraft obsession, had to be maneuvered around departments at work due to severely bad social skills, became infatuated with a celebrity to the extent that he believed them to be soul mates, lost 50 pounds, got LASIK surgery, got his teeth whitened and hair implants, and converted to Christianity to impress her—was somehow able to procure two handguns, one of which he used to shoot Christina Grimmie the times, and the other to shoot himself in the head.

Chuck, Elizabeth; Gemma DiCasimirro; Molly Roecker; Jillian Sederholm. “Gunman Who Killed ‘The Voice’ Singer Christina Gimmie Had Two Weapons, Ammo, Knife: Police.” NBC News. NBC Universal, Inc. June 11, 2016.

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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Mr. Anteé continues: “What the Junkies here don’t know is that smoking Crack Planet crack is a very different experience than smoking Earth crack. Crack Planet crack, or as we Sprungians call it, ótrúlegt vá, provides a feeling of deep calm and ease.”

“We?” Rupert interrupts.               “Sprungians, natives of Crack Planet.”               “Aliens,” Leenda adds.               “We don’t really prefer that term,” Mr. Anteé makes a face as if he’s been squirt in the eye with a grapefruit—Rupert finds this all very ironic. “But back to the ótrúlegt vá. It boosts your self-esteem, but not only that, it is accompanied by the mild, pleasant forgetting of anything terrible that might have happened to you to have caused your esteem problems in the first place. Not the events, but the psychological impact and emotional repercussions.”                “That’s very specific,” Leenda says.               “We have scientists, too.” Mr. Anteé replies. “We don’t spend all of our time mutilating your cattle and probing your asses. To be accurate, it’s less a forgetting than an accelerated aid to processing and, well . . .                “ . . . just not giving a shit,” says Rupert. “A little like being on crack, or the drug of your choice, here, except without all the drawbacks.”               “Yes.” Mr. Anteé smiles. “It gets rid of the major emotional factors that lead to drug addiction. And the kicker is, if you’re addicted to Earth meth, or crack, or what-have-you, smoking ótrúlegt vá will cure you—the effect is immediate and permanent. Earth drugs no longer fuck you up. There is no such thing as withdrawal or a relapse on Crack Planet. Simply doesn’t exist—in fact, we have no words in our language to describe those states of being.”

“Does anyone ever come back from Crack Planet? I mean, besides you?” Leenda asks.

“Well, I was born there,” he answers. “I’m a native Sprungian, but yes, lots of people come back. In fact, you know a few.”

“Angel.” Rupert says, nodding.

“There’s one. Who else fits the bill?” Mr. Anteé asks.

Rupert thinks for a minute. “Not Jesus . . . ”


“No shit.”

“Yes shit.”

Rupert laughs and Leenda feels a little better about smiling at all of this.

“Anyone else?” Mr. Anteé asks once more.

Rupert thinks again, but shakes his head. There were so many crackpot chuckleheads down there—could be anyone.

“Not Bucket . . . ?” The one nutbag in Florida who, despite his clear insanity, actually planted a seed of thought in his mind that had helped in his time of need.

“Lord, no,” Anteé laughed. “Bucket is straight-up Earth-grown crazy.”

Rupert and Leenda both sat silently, thinking.

“Well, of course there’s my brother,” Mr. Anteé says, gesturing to the aloe plant.

Rupert and Leenda notice that there is a name painted across the front of the pot: Lëslié Gôddärd Anteé.

“Its name is Lez-lee,” Rupert says with a laugh, not at the name, but that it had a name all this time.

“He. Well, it’s pronounced ‘LeeSlay.’ LeeSlay Goodahrd Anteeay.”

“Is that Icelandic?” Leenda asks.

“No, Sprungian.”


“Wait,” Rupert interrupts. “What about the story Jesus told me? Embalming fluid . . . ”

Anteé laughs. “He couldn’t very well tell you the truth.”

No, Rupert supposes he couldn’t, and only in Florida would ‘embalming fluid-engorged talking plant-monster’ be more plausible than ‘Crack Planet Alien named Leeslay’.

“So . . . not a gift from Derek Peterson.”

The room went quiet, the discomfort palpable.

Finally: “We don’t speak of Derek Peterson.” Anteé gazed out the window for a moment.

Rupert thought he felt colder than a second ago.

Anteé continued: “Yes, we come in all sorts of shapes and sizes on Crack Planet. On earth, something about my earth crack addiction made it impossible for him to be near me without losing strength. Scientists here still haven’t quite figured that out. But! One man came here, unaddicted to anything, which we’d never seen before. His parents were addicts; his siblings were addicts. He wanted to make a difference, so on and so forth—”

“Then one day, my sister . . . ” A voice behind Rupert and Leenda startled them. The door had opened quietly and they catch Angel smiling and closing it behind her as she left.

Standing before them is Stanley—missing Stanley! They’re both about to get up, but he gestures for them to keep their seats. He walks around and leans against the desk next to Mr. Anteé.

Rupert and Leenda are too stunned to say anything.

“ . . . my sister was a meth-addled idiot, Rupert, as you well know. She bought a Golden Ticket to Crack Planet, but she loved me so much, she gave it to me for Christmas last year because she’d spent any gift money she’d had on meth. She was an idiot, but she had a big heart . . . ”

“When she wasn’t fucked up,” Mr. Anteé added.

“Exactly.” Stanley smiled.

“Man, was she fucked up.”

“Indeed.” Stanley laughs. “Anyway . . . she’s super high, so I take the thing, and it’s . . . ”

“Balsa wood and gold paint,” Rupert guessed.

Stanley nods. “But that night, Mr. Anteé came to me and took me to Crack Planet.”

“Boy was that embarrassing . . . like, one of my first times collecting someone.”

“So, he takes me to Crack Planet, and I’m like, really? And there’s aliens . . . ”

Mr. Anteé makes jazz hands at Rupert and Leenda, like, me!

“ . . . but there’s also this population of happy, healthy, drug-recovered earthlings doing their thing.”

“When you’re not fucked up, you can integrate pretty well,” Mr. Anteé chimes in.

“See, after you come and get well, you have a choice to stay or go back to earth . . . ” Stanley begins to explain.

“We have a very progressive immigration policy there.”

“Well, most of them stayed, because, well, Crack Planet’s pretty sweet. So, I thought, there must be a way to save all the drug addicts on earth. I worked with some people there, including our esteemed Mr. Anteé (who bows) and created a larger, more sustainable system by which to bring addicts from earth to Crack Planet to cure them, and either adopt them into the program doing the work here on earth, or keep them there, depending on their skill set, to do related work there.”

“This isn’t like that D.E.A.T.H. program, is it . . . ?” Rupert asks.

“Oh no,” Stanley assures him. “Pyrdewy is a cocktooth and he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison for pretending to help people in real need just to get his hands on some of that Obama federal long green.”

Rupert must finally concede that ‘long green’ is not only a legitimate term, but also a good one.

“Jesus chose to return to Earth and go about doing the work of saving souls.”

“How ironic.”

“The study I had been working on wasn’t to observe the work habits of Methheads. Pyrdewy, that shitfuck, got his hands on it and used it to cover his bullshit crimes. My original study was to infiltrate the community and see how the tickets were being sold, thus creating a larger, better-connected, but still secret system of getting addicts to Crack Planet, which you did on your own. As a matter of fact, the changes you made with Fulva’s operation upped our intake by a significant margin. Good job.”

Leenda kisses Rupert’s cheek and he smiles, blushes a little.

“So, Fulva’s system wasn’t yours?”

“Nope. We have no idea how the word got out. We’ve heard the name ‘Stevie,’ but that’s all we know,” Anteé says. “We’re working on it.”

“Unfortunately,” Stanley continues, “I needed to run operations on Crack Planet, so I faked my disappearance, blah, blah, blah. In my place, I sent Mr. Anteé down to keep an eye on things . . . ” Stanley elbows Mr. Anteé who smiles and hangs his head.

“Here’s something we didn’t know then, but we know now,” Mr. Anteé explains. “Crack Planet ex-pats have a very different reaction to Crack Planet crack. While it cures you of your addictions and mega-boosts your self-confidence, for us, it’s a non-addictive stimulant. Kind of like your caffeine. Pretty harmless, makes you feel a little more awake, gets you off to work. Well, I’d been down here for a while—became fascinated with your Native American history—you know, those folks really got fucked—”

Everyone nods.

“Anyway, I thought I’d give Earth crack a shot—I was feeling a little sluggish one morning. Such the wrong thing to do. Turns out, if a Sprungian like me smokes Earth crack, I go absolutely batshit, moon-howling, punch-your-mama-and-maybe-even-your-mama’s-mama insane. And I did. Hence all that . . . emotional and mental instability. Sorry about that. Also, for the record, I had no experience whatsoever with explosives of any kind. I don’t know what a G4 detonator is. We’re all lucky to be alive.”

Rupert shifts in his chair and sort of waves it off, like, hey, no problem. Leenda smiles wide, perhaps too wide.

“Plus,” Mr. Anteé adds, “Lëslié—who had been sent to Earth to collect me, but somehow ended up in Fulva’s bathroom—got a contact high in the cavern and just blew right up—allergic reaction. We had no idea. Nothing a little antihistamine couldn’t take care of.”

Lëslié waves a tentacle.

“So,” Stanley says. “Getting down to business, here’s what we’d like to propose. You can either go on about your business like nothing happened . . . ”

They all have a good, long laugh at that.

“Or, you can return to Florida and continue to help Jesus with his work selling Golden Tickets and helping the insane Junkies of the Sunshine State become real, functional people with a purpose.”

“Can’t I just go to Crack Planet, smoke the ótrúlegt vá, be cured of all of my esteem and social anxiety issues, and live happily every after among the peace-loving Sprungians.”

Mr. Anteé and Stanley look at one another.

“You already have,” Stanley says.

Rupert doesn’t get it.

“Rupert.” Stanley is half-laughing. “What do you think Jesus gave you to smoke when the shit hit the fan?”

“But, my anxiety . . . ” Rupert protests. “The meth . . . ”

The office door opens behind them and Angel pops her head in. “Told you,” she says to Rupert. “Second time you smoked crack.” Then she disappears again and the door closes.

Goddamn her.

“Placebo,” Mr. Anteé explains. “Afterward, you convinced yourself you still had anxiety, and so you did.”

“And,” Stanley adds, “you convinced yourself you were high in all those subsequent drug binges, so you were.”

“I thought you were a little too easy to deal with,” Leenda says.

Once again, Bucket—the straight-up Earth-grown crazy person—was right. You are what you think you are.

“And that explains why rehab was such a cake walk.”

It’s quiet for a moment. Rupert and Leenda look at each other.

“Well. I guess we need to have a talk,” he says to her.

Leenda frowns.

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Seven Months Later. Washington DC.

Rupert walks out of the DC Forest Park Piney Branch Rehab Center carrying his duffle bag. He scans the parking lot and sees Leenda get out of her red 2016 Hypersonic Prius. He thinks of the 70s time warp of Florida and is glad to be home.

Rehab hadn’t been nearly as difficult as Rupert had expected, and in fact, his withdrawal symptoms were so mild, the staff suspected he had faked his addiction and had him tested. Lo, his system was loaded with illicit drugs and he stayed the entire length of the program, doing a lot of gardening and art therapy.

Leenda runs to him and jumps into his arms as they wrap around her waist, lifting her off the ground. She covers his face with kisses and he’s laughing. And then:

“Ow, my boobs.”

And he puts her down. She grabs his hand and smiles up at him.

“Come on. Let’s go.”

* * *

As they drive, Rupert’s pocket vibrates. It takes him a moment to react, as he’s still not used to having a cell phone. It’s a text. He struggles with the buttons for a minute, still learning what does what, and then turns the music in the car down.

“Anteé?” He checks to see if Leenda might know who this is.

“Oh, yeah,” she says. “Mr. Anteé. Pyrdewy’s replacement. We haven’t met yet, but I’ve heard good things.”

After the shit went down and the D.E.A.T.H. work program was revealed to have been simply one of a number of ways for Pyrdewy to get his hands on some of that Obama federal long green—there was a huge national scandal, revealing about thirty other Federal Government rip-off schemes Pyrdewy had operating all over the country under the banner of the Spliphsonian. The whole thing was just a cover—the file he’d given Rupert had been complete bullshit. He had expected Rupert to catch onto the scheme and simply go along with it, write up an equally bullshit academic analysis to save his job, and that’d be that. Pyrdewy apparently thought Rupert was smarter than he was, as the expectation was just a few steps beyond what Rupert was going to put together. Pyrdewy was fired and is awaiting trial, which Rupert and Leenda plan on attending, for the sheer amusement of it. He’s expected to go away for a very long time. And he learned a valuable lesson: If you don’t want the stupid thing you’re doing to end up on the national news, don’t do it in Florida.

“So, what does it say?” Leenda asks.

“He . . . she?”


“He is insisting that I come by the museum. Like, right now.”

They exchange a worried look. Rupert had lost his entropologist job there, what with his meth addiction and bumming around seedy areas of Sarasota for a bit after the incident. Leenda retained hers because she was merely an innocent bystander and was supposed to be down there anyway. She worked on the Spanish Point burial mound—the focus of which had changed—and took care of Rupert at his worst as they lived in a room at the Regency Courtyard Royal-Clarion Inn. His worst was the trade-off for his best—living reasonably anxiety-free—which Leenda had accepted. That said, she had noticed that Rupert whacked out on Smack wasn’t much different than his normal behavior, despite how utterly fucked up he insisted he was.

She was happy, though, when she bailed him out of jail that night after being locked in an unlocked closet for most of an evening and he announced he was going to get clean, and they would return to DC. His behavior would be unchanged, but surely having that shit in your system was not a good thing in the long run.

And sure, Junkies say they’re getting clean all the time, but Rupert didn’t lie to Leenda, and he hasn’t yet.

“The last time I got called in there, bad shit ensued,” Rupert said, shifting in his seat.

“Yes, but . . . it brought us together,” Leenda points out, trying to keep him optimistic.

Rupert produces a weak smile and squeezes her hand.

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” Leenda continues. “It’s not Pyrdewy. Maybe Anteé wants to consult with you on some entropic business.”

“Maybe,” Rupert says, “but I still don’t want to work there anymore. I’m done with entropy.”

Leenda shrugs.

“Well, let’s get it out of the way so we can go home,” she says. “I went to the Consolation Zone yesterday.” Leenda winks at Rupert.

Rupert is happy the Consolation Zone has locations across the country. They have the best deals on the highest quality products.

“By the way,” Leenda says, smiling. “Did I ever tell you what Pyrdewy means?”

“No. I’m sure I’d have remembered.”

“It’s a from a medieval phrase, ‘to play the Pyrdewy.’ It means ‘to fuck.’”

They both sit in contemplative silence—considering how Pyrdewy had certainly fucked himself—for the remainder of the drive.

* * *

Rupert and Leenda come out of the Mall exit of the Metrorail and walk. When they cross Madison Drive and head up 12thStreet, Rupert can’t keep his eyes off the building. He hasn’t been in it . . . or near it . . . since he left for Florida so long ago.

They round the corner on Constitution Ave and walk up the steps. Rupert’s chest tightens and he can’t pinpoint why. Nothing particularly terrible happened to him here. But as they come through the entrance, it hits him. The foyer is massive, cavernous, and the whole experience that took place beneath Spanish Point comes back to him, but instead of there being a massive freakazoid aloe plant-monster, there’s a giant elephant display.

He stops short, his hand going to his chest as if that can stop his heart from racing.

“It’s okay, Rupert. It’s only the museum.”

Leenda slips her arm around his waist and coaxes him forward, past the elephant, through the visitors milling about, into a hallway and to an elevator. After some deep breathing on the way up, they get off on the carpeted floor of the administrative area of the museum.

They knock on an office door and a young woman opens it. Still-fading scars cover her face, and her hair is black and shoulder length. Rupert stares at her for a moment.


Leenda looks at him. “You know her?”

“Desk clerk at the Royal Courtyard Econo-Regency Chalet.”

Angel smiles and nods, then, her smile falters a little.

“You also saw me take a dump in a mop bucket,” Angel says.

Leenda looks incredulously at Rupert, who gives the same look to Angel.

“High school janitorial closet . . . ” Rupert clarifies.

Leenda nods.

“This is also. . . ” Rupert begins, but can’t finish.

“Shit Pail.” Leenda says flatly.

“I thought we’d be in there for days . . . wait, what?” Angel asks.

“You were only in there for a few hours,” Leenda parries.

Angel shrugs. “I was high as balls. Also, full disclosure: I had you bugged and tracked everywhere you went in Florida. The whole story you told me in the closet—I already knew it all. Sorry about that. But come in. Let me take you to the boss.”

“ . . . what?” Rupert protests, but they are ushered through another door and into an office with a wonderful view of, well, the Department of Justice. The office itself—Pyrdewy’s former office—has been restored to its former antique-y, musty, old time glory. A man stands with his back to them, looking out the window. As Angel leaves, he says: “Thank you, Angel.”

“Mr. Anty,” Rupert says.

“An-tee-ay.” The man turns around, smiling.

Both Rupert and Leenda gasp, frightened for a moment. Mr. Anteé is none other than Efunibi, cleaned up, wearing a very smart suit, and no longer the leathery, wrinkled, psychotic freakshow he was down in Florida. He also has a British accent, which Rupert would not have expected and feels it’s a bit of a swing too far to the other end of the spectrum—not offensive to one’s morality, but to one’s sense of place in the world.

However, Rupert is comforted by this, but then he remembers how Efunibi had left the scene and he’s on guard again. Mr. Anteé walks around and leans against his desk, on which Rupert now notices a black-thorned aloe plant in a decorative pot that he swears waved at him when they first came in. Rupert pulls Leenda close to him.

“No need for that, Rupert. But I’ve definitely got some ‘splainin to do.” Anteé slips into a Desi Arnaz, which, while still offensive to those who don’t know who that is, is still better than Tonto.

Mr. Anteé goes on to explain that, yes, everything that happened in Florida actually happened, and he apologizes for his sudden, and rather shocking departure, but he didn’t want to smash to bits on the cavern floor.

“Fine,” Rupert said, his arms still around Leenda, who isn’t arguing.

“Both of you, please, sit.” Mr. Anteé says. “It’s a long story. Coffee? Tea?”

“No.” Both Rupert and Leenda say together.

“Okay . . . ” Mr. Anteé says, takes a deep breath, and begins: “Crack Planet? Crack Planet is real. It is made entirely of crack cocaine and yes, it’s free. Free to anyone who wants it.”

“Bye,” Rupert says and starts to get up, Leenda right behind him.

Mr. Anteé puts his hands out. “Come on, hear me out.”

The pair look at him, more irritated now than concerned for their safety. Leenda sits down slowly. Rupert follows.

“No joke,” Rupert says to Mr. Anteé. “I’m not into this shit anymore.”

“I understand, just hear me out.”

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Shit Pail drops another still-burning cigarette butt between her thighs and into the shit pail. At this point, Rupert might have lost his sense of smell, it having been seared from his nostrils.

“So, wait,” she says, shifting and closing her legs to keep the residual smoke from escaping until the butt finally goes out. “The cops showed up? How’d they get there so quick, I mean, inside the cave?”

“Well,” Rupert explains. “Who can tell why they even answered Joe’s ass-dialed 911 call? But I did find out later that there is a serviceable entrance down into the caverns through the Osprey School’s Visitor Center gift shop.”

“No way.”

“Way. Been there for years, apparently. I suspect the clerk there had something to do with it, but I have no idea, and frankly, I’ve kind of had enough of that craziness.”

“Now you just get high,” she says.


“Well, how did you and Leenda get out of there?”

“Paddle-squid I left on the bank at Webb’s Cove, unscathed by the speedboat crash that killed Osceola and that poor, violated ostrich. Worked a lot better with two people. Took it under Cock’s Footbridge, past the Guptill House and the pioneer boatyard, and kept going north past the Bird Keys and into Little Sarasota Bay. We docked at someone’s personal boat launch on Siesta Key and then walked down Midnight Pass about three miles . . . ”

“That’s an awful lot of traveling for a pedal boat and walking,” Shit Pail interrupts.

“We had a lot to talk about.” Rupert smiles. “Did you know that there is a point about three inches above the ankle, on the inside of the leg, that when electrically stimulated can bring a woman to orgasm?”

Shit Pail looks at Rupert. “No. I did not know that.”

“Well,” Rupert squirms a little uncomfortably. “Now you do.”

Shit Pail nods and rolls her eyes.

“Anyway, once we got to where the resorts are, Leenda called us a cab and we went back to . . . ”

“The Royal Courtyard Econo-Regency Chalet,” Shit Pail said, enthusiastic.

“Actually, we got a room over at the Regency Courtyard Royal-Clarion Inn.”

“Ha! Yeah, I guess you didn’t need to see that Angel chick again,” Shit Pail says, smiling.

“You got that right.”

“So, then what happened?” she asks, still smiling.

Rupert opens his mouth and then shuts it.

“None of your business.” He pauses, then says: “I did see in the paper that a large group of despondent Tweakers had descended upon a ritzy retirement home that night and terrorized the wealthy retirees.”

“Is that related?” Shit Pail asks.

“Might be. I don’t know. It was pretty weird, though.”

“Says the guy saved by a mutant-big aloe plant.”


“Yeah,” she says, eyeballing him through squinting lids. “That’s all, um . . . pretty unbelievable. And I’m high as tits.”

“I know.” Rupert sighed. “To be honest, I’m not quite sure it all happened. Maybe some of it, but not all of it. Probably.”

“How’s the anxiety now?”

“Fine, when I’m high. And I’m usually pretty high.”

“Since you smoked that crack . . . ”

“Meth,” Rupert corrects.

“Crack,” Shit Pail counters.

“It was meth.”


Shit Pail nods. Rupert nods with her.

“So, uh, you still with Leenda? Whatever happened with her?”

Rupert breaks into a huge smile, the biggest smile Shit Pail’s seen on his face all night.

“Leenda loves me.”

“Even like this?”

“Fucked up? Yep.” His smile becomes comically bigger. “She loves me no matter what.”

Shit Pail nods and looks at Rupert for a moment.

“You know what?” she says.

Rupert looks at her expectantly.

“You should get clean.”

He breaks the eye contact and looks down, thinking. Then finally:

“Yeah. I should.” He looks at Shit Pail. “I will.”

“Because you love her, too, and even if she puts up with this shit, she shouldn’t have to.” Shit Pail’s smile would be pretty if she had any decent teeth left. She passes the remainder of the blunt to Rupert. “But for right now, here’s to one last burn.”

He takes and hits it, thinking of Leenda.

As he exhales, they hear the sound of heavy footsteps moving toward them, and then, like in the caverns, a police radio. Then, a knock on the door.

Shit Pail tries to jump up and Rupert averts his eyes, but her pants have been down around her ankles for so long, she’s forgotten them. She almost takes a header, but not only manages to stay upright, but also to get her pants most of the way up while yelling: “Yes! We’re in here! Help!” And then muttering to Rupert, “it’s about goddamn time.”

The doorknob to the closet turns without any fuss and the door swings open, revealing the half-amused/half-disgusted face of one of Sarasota’s finest. He recoils at the smell and disappears, but his face is replaced by another, who grimaces and says:

“It’s unlocked, idiots.”

Then, from behind him: “You’re under arrest for trespassing.”


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There’s a black market on just about everything, but this makes a certain amount of sense—women’s lingerie is just too damned expensive. Daniel Espinosa and his juvenile co-culprit saw their opportunity and they took it—on three separate occasions. They stole 850 pairs of underwear—over $15,000 worth—in November and December of 2013. Espinosa was a recent high school graduate, lived with his parents, and had no money in the bank, so we can presume these were not for personal use.

NBC Miami. “Man Stole 850 Pairs of Underwear from Victoria’s Secret: Authorities.” NBC Miami. NBC Universal, Inc. January 16, 2014.

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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In the distance, echoing through the chamber and tunnel behind them, they heard what sounded like the footsteps of certainly more than a few of people.

For a minute, Rupert thought it could be Tommy and Bucket, or Merideth and Joe—he felt afraid this wasn’t over yet, not so much for himself, but for poor Leenda, who’d been through so much she’d had no clue about. He felt guilty for not having told her about everything, warned her a long time ago. But, how could he have? How would any normal, sane person react to this? It was more than would fit on a single postcard, and besides, he couldn’t have risked chasing her off completely then, and his heart broke now, knowing this couldn’t end well.

They then heard police radios, which wasn’t much better. They had to move, now.

Leaving Bill’s crumpled, but still breathing form, the three of them ran back through the now-wrecked lab chamber and scrambled up the cemetery access. When Rupert and Leenda got outside and into the fresh night air, they saw Jesus was no longer following.

Rupert made to keep going, but Leenda grabbed his hand.

“We can’t leave . . . that guy,” she said. “Whoever that guy is.”

“We can,” Rupert replied. “He’s a big boy.”

It sounded as if there were cops all over the paths of Spanish Point, and when they heard footsteps running down the trail toward them, Rupert pulled them both through the thick bushes of the cemetery and behind Mary’s Chapel.

They stood there in silence, Rupert’s hand settled on Leenda’s back, but he then realized this and removed it. It was dark, though the moon cast a few flecks of silver over them through the trees, landing softly across their features, but Rupert wouldn’t look at her. Soon, the sound of the police became part of the background noise of the place, blending in with the songs of the insects and the night birds. All Rupert could hear was Leenda’s breathing.

“Rupert,” she whispered. “Do you love me?”

Rupert’s chest seized, full of fear, and he stuttered out something incoherent. He feared he was having a stroke. Leenda stood on her tiptoes and moved close to his ear.

“I have loved you since I first saw you,” she said. “When you came into the museum to apply for the janitor’s job. I can’t tell you why.”

He felt his face flush red and was glad she couldn’t see it. His knees felt weak. He thought only he, Stanley, and Pyrdewy had known about that—the janitor’s application.

“Which I didn’t get because I’m not qualified,” he whispered.

“Rupert, you got a better job, doing what you love, doing what you’re so good at.”

“Wait,” Rupert had to backtrack. “You loved me?”

“Love. Present. I love you now,” she answered. “I thought you knew.” She lowered herself back down, feet flat against the mossy ground. She sounded disappointed.

Rupert couldn’t absorb any of this, though he tried. Everything between his brain and his heart stopped and wouldn’t budge for anything. This is a stroke.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were building a giant meth super lab under the mound?”

“How did you know?”

“That whacked-out white fake-Indian guy told me.”

“Which . . . ?” he began, but remembered she’d never met Osceola. He hung his head. “I wasn’t in my right mind,” he finally said. “There’s something about this place. Something that makes you crazy. I thought I was doing it for you, for us. I thought there was an us. I thought I was better than I am. I just didn’t give a shit—”

“Exactly,” she said. She stretched up again and kissed him. “And that’s amazing. And I’ve never wanted you to be anything but exactly who and what you are. And sometimes . . . often . . . it’s right not to give a shit. Like when you apply for a janitor’s position when you’re not even qualified for that.”

He had closed his eyes at the kiss, but then opened them and looked directly at her for the first time.

“What did I say to you?”


“On the phone? I really have no idea . . . ”

Leenda laughed. “Well, it was pretty disjointed—like stream of consciousness—but brief. Something about your taxes and how you might need bail money; the possibility of writing your prison memoirs—something about a Derek Peterson; something about getting married, naked, on the back of a giant alligator. And it sounded like an alarm clock kept going off. Then you just kept saying my name over and over, except you stressed the ‘ee’ like Leeeeeeenda. And, actually, it sounded like you were jerking off, which was flattering in a weird way, but then I’d hear a kind of zapping noise as the alarm went off, and you’d scream. It happened, like, three times. I tried to talk to you, but I’m not sure you knew you were still on the phone. Then the line went dead.”

Rupert was pretty sure death by humiliation was a thing and he was experiencing it now. He wished more than anything that the alarm-clock-turned-electro-stimulation-device had killed him.

“Don’t be embarrassed.” Leenda smiled. “I didn’t know what to make of it at first, and I just assumed the negative—I was pretty angry—but I thought about it and had it pretty well figured out by the time I got your completely psycho-creepy postcard. Also kind of flattering. But, seriously, absolutely creepy. You shouldn’t do that.”

Rupert sighed deeply and covered his eyes, trying to rub the mortification out of them.

She laughed again. “You know, everyone has their shameful little secrets. Nasty Habits—that was an Oingo Boingo song, right?—things they struggle with . . . ”

“What’s your struggle?” he asked.

“I find it difficult to find a sexual partner willing to experiment with electro-stimulation.”

They looked at each other in silence for a moment, and then embraced for a long, unforgettable, cinematic kiss—which was interrupted by movement in a nearby bush. A scrambling sound, too small to be the police, or Jesus.

Abruptly, Steve Perry came flying out of nowhere, used Rupert’s head as a launch point, and landed several feet away in the Pioneer Cemetery.


But Steve Perry cut Rupert off with a triumphant screech, ripped off his electric-blue monkey vest, screeched again for emphasis, then scrambled over the headstones and disappeared into the jungles of Spanish Point.

Another sigh from Rupert. “Good luck, you disgusting little shit.”

One last, fading screech and all was quiet.

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