Saturday, October 20, 2007

Augusta's Story

Augusta, Dusty, and the Bunnies

"I’ve just known Dusty for a couple of months, so my story doesn’t have quite the depth as her story. But sometimes we know someone better as a stranger than we know a long time intimate, so please take note of what I have to say.

I am first and foremost a cop. Most people don’t like cops. Cops enforce the law and are often blamed for the law. I could go on and on about how we don’t write the law, but that is for another time. I’ll try to stick with what I know of Dusty.

A couple of months ago we heard that the president of the United States was coming through Dustland and our mayor, Rube Adams, decided it was time to clean up our city once and for all. Though he had been treated for many years for his obsessive compulsion disorder, he never really was cured. When he said that he wanted to clean up, he wasn’t kidding.

He issued orders to get rid of every speck of dust in Dustland. He was sick and tired of his town being the butt of so many jokes because of its name. He wanted to be known as the mayor of the cleanest city in the United States (if not the world) and not the mayor of a cloud of dust.

When my sergeant received the proclamation to rid Dustland of dust he took Rube quite literally. I wasn’t sure if Rube really meant that every speck should be removed, but as a well-trained and obedient cop I was much better at taking orders than at thinking. Maybe that is why I never could graduate from college.

I received my marching orders on July 5, the day after Independence Day. I was told to go to Dusty’s house and both get rid of all her dust bunnies and let her know that in the future the harboring of bunnies would not be tolerated.

I put a dustpan and collapsible broom in my brief case and set off in my Hummer for Dusty’s house.

I had never met Dusty but I thought that this would be a rather simple call. I had been married for a number of years and knew women well. Though my wife walked out on me when she found a younger man, we did have some good years. She generally took my direction, as do most women. I’m a big man with a commanding voice. Not too many people stand up to me, especially women."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dusty Continues (more)

And each other, of course.

"I probably was pretty depressed. I couldn't leave the house. I tried to get his pension, but they said without a body I could not prove his death.

My dog, Dirty Hairy, just moped around, and so did I. Our friends were the bunnies, and only the bunnies. And each other, of course.

We learned to live on almost nothing. In time, our utilities were turned off. In the winter we burned the branches that had fallen in the nearby forest. In the summer we sweated out the hot days and enjoyed any breeze we could find in the evenings.

We took care of the bunnies. They kept reproducing, thanks to Dirty Hairy shedding hair. It wasn't a bad life, but I missed Softy, and I missed having a man around.

Then Augusta came, first under assignment to get rid of the bunnies. That evolved into a love affair and a business partnership. We commercialized the sanctuary and made enough money to get the utilities on and to pay the back taxes. Life was good.

Augusta got word that Softy was still alive, which is why we are here . . . looking for him. He heard that he was still selling pillows, and was in the next town. Augusta wanted to flatten the guy, and I wanted to embrace him.

And that's my story."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dusty Continues

Marriage . . .

"Somehow Joan was able to remove the key from the door. We ran down the stairs but Mom was no where to be found. To make a long story short, we heard a year later that she ran off with a cute street cleaner.

My friends and I continued to worship the bunnies. Softy asked me to the high school prom and I brought him afterward up to the attic to see the bunnies. I was madly in love with him.

One thing led to another and he asked me to marry him. Before I could say yes or no, he said that he wanted to marry me, and not the bunnies.

I thought that my love for him would certainly overshadow my love for the bunnies, so I said yes, I would marry him, and yes, I would get rid of the bunnies.

We had a fabulous wedding. Even mom and the street cleaner showed up. We all danced and cried with joy. Everyone was happy that I was getting hitched to my soul mate.

We moved into my house. My dad had passed by then, and my sisters had already moved out. Softy and I had quite a honeymoon in our love nest, if you know what I mean. But before long the honeymoon was over when Softy started asking me to vacuum up the bunnies.

I said the vacuum was broken and he said he'd fix it. I said that my back hurt. I said that I needed to vacuum in the morning when there was more light. I gave him one excuse after another. Finally one day he vacuumed up all the bunnies when I got my hair done.

I was so angry at him for not being more patient and understanding;. We start fighting all the time and he spent more and more time in his shack. When the shack blew up I was so angry at him that I was happy. But in time, I began to miss him terribly and was very sad that he had died in the explosion."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dusty's Story

Let Me In!

"So where do you want me to start?" Dusty asked.

"At the beginning," the others chanted in unison.

"Well, take a seat," Dusty said, as she motioned them to sit on the two logs.

Softy and Eliza sat on one log, and Augusta and the highway patrolman on the other. Dusty took a deep breath.

"I was born in Dustland and lived there all my life. My mother was a fanatic about dirt. If there was even one dust bunny anywhere in the house she'd go postal. One time I was grounded for a week because of one bunny she found under my bed."

"I felt sorry for the little critters, so I started a secret sanctuary in the attic. My friends would come over and we'd go to the attic and light candles and watch the bunnies dance as the wind went through the thin cracks in the siding. We'd ooh and awe and have a great time, until . . ."

"Until what," Augusta asked.

"Shh!" said the highway patrolman. "Let her tell the story as she sees fit."

". . . until my mother came up to the attic one day to tell me that she was going out. We were so engrossed with the bunnies that we didn't see her in time to hide them, and she was furious when she discovered that we'd been praying to the little creatures."

"Praying" Eliza asked.

"Shh!" said the patrolman.

"Yes, praying. We had kind of made up a religion, believing that the bunnies represented the second coming of Christ. Mom said that she had never heard of anything so infantile or so ridiculous, and that there was no way she'd live with dust bunnies."

"What happened then?" The patrolman asked.

"Shh!" mocked Augusta.

"She went down stairs to get the vacuum. We heard her muttering as she was coming back up the stairs with a vacuum hose following her, "I'll suck up those bunnies and give them the surprise of their lives."

"By that time, we were so committed to the bunnies that we would have given our lives to save them. So we closed the door to the attic and laid down against it so Mom couldn't come in."

"You never told me this," Softy said.

"Shh!" said the patrolman.

"You never asked. Mom couldn't deal with her kid defying her wishes so she gave one of her many ultimatums, saying if I didn't open the door in the count of five, I'd no longer have a mother."

"What happened then," Softy asked.

"Shh! said the patrolman.

"I wanted to open the door. I could hear how angry and hurt she was, and knew that I'd be better off with a mother, even if she didn't believe in sanctity of bunnies."

"So?" Augusta asked.

"Shh!" said the patrolman.

"My friend Joan got her hair stuck on the key and couldn't move to open the door. We screamed through the door that we couldn't open it right away. Mom yelled back that she knew we were faking it, and that she knew we were now hiding the bunnies, and that she was leaving and she'd never coming back. Our choice was to cut off Joan's beautiful blond hair, or to lose a mom. We looked for a scissors as we heard mom go back down the stairs."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Who Goes First?

All four of them started to talk at the same time. Blame, shame, hurt and guilt filled the air. Each voice became louder in an effort to be heard.

In fact, they were so loud that they couldn't hear the sirens until the highway patrolmen stopped his car behind Augusta's Hummer.

"What do we have here, Augusta?" the patrolman asked.

"I'm trying to get the story. Do you want to help mediate this dispute?" Augusta replied.

The patrolman had taken the conflict resolution workshop with Augusta. This was their first opportunity to try the five fold path to resolution that they had learned.

"Ok folks, why don't you each tell me what is going on?" the patrolman asked. Before he had a chance to add that the couples should talk one at a time, they all started in again, once again raising the noise level so high that the leaves started to fall on them from the trees above.

"One at a time. Who would like to go first?" Augusta added.

"I'll go first," Softy said.

"You've lost your inalienable rights when you died, mister. I'm going first," Dusty said.

"Ok, let's listen to Dusty." Augusta said.

"There is no way that I'm not going first. I gave up my home and husband to be part of this insanity. I'm sure I'm the one with the greatest lost." Eliza said.

The patrolmen took Augusta aside to decide who should go first.

"Ok, Dusty. We'll start with you. And everyone else listen. You all will have your day in court."

"Unfair," Softy said.

"Be a big boy now," the patrolman said

"Well, all right. But . . ." Softy replied.

"Quiet!" Augusta said, pointing his finger at Softy.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

They Meet

The Powwow

Dusty and Augusta's Hummer sailed along, as did Softy and Eliza's car. In a cloud of dust each saw each other's car coming and slowed down. The road was only wide enough for one lane, so each of the couples looked for a spot to pull over. None to be found, they both stopped their car, and Softy and Augusta got out.

As the dust settled, Dusty yelled out, "Oh, Softy, you are alive." and they embraced passionately. Then she remembered the torment and poverty that he had created and started to hit him, yelling, "you S.O.B. . . you S.O.B."

Eliza and Augusta were on the sidelines not quite knowing what to do. Augusta remembers his professionalism as a cop and decided not to punch out Softy. "Besides," he thinks, "Dusty is giving him what he deserves."

It soon becomes apparent that Softy is no match for Dusty. Five years of anger is quite a warrior. Augusta decided that he needed to stop the fight so he took his service revolver hidden in the leg of his pants and shot a warning shot into the air.

"Stop fighting immediately or you'll both go to jail," Augusta yelled.

With no where to go without backing their cars up, The two couples found themselves on two facing logs and sat down for a powwow.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Looking for Softy

Two logs between them.

Augusta had almost walked out of the door of the police station when he heard his phone ringing. It was the sheriff in a nearby town who said that Softy is there selling pillows.

Augusta knew about the old road as well, and decided to go there with Dusty first thing in the morning. The Hummer should be able to take care of all the logs that had fallen on the road. The road was quite narrow and was just wide enough for one car, especially if that car was as wide as a hummer.

In the morning, Augusta and Dusty put a sign on their door "sanctuary closed for religious holiday" and took off to the next town.

They brought Dirty Hairy along. Augusta though he might be useful in identifying Softy should he be wearing a disguise. And neither of them knew when they might return to Dustland.

About five minutes down the road they came upon their first log. The hummer had a winch so it was quite easy to attach the cable to the log and pull it aside. "Let's hope there are more of those," Augusta said, still angry as could be at a man who would desert his loved one.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Old Road

Sleeping in the Car

Eliza and Softy checked out of the hotel and filled their tank with gas. They got directions for the old road and took off.

Softy was anxious to see his wife after five years. He thought he might try to reunite with her, especially if she had cleaned up her act a little.

Eliza, on the other hand, had no desire to let go of Softy and did not anticipate that her partner/lover still had eyes for his wife.

They wondered what Eliza's customer was talking about when she mentioned the logs that had fallen on the old road. Then they went over one more hill and came upon quite a number of them.

One by one they tied a rope around the logs and then backed the car up to pull the road to the side. After awhile, Eliza walked ahead with the rope and Softy followed. What was supposed to be taking two hours was taking all day and then some. The stars were starting to shine and they decided to sleep in the car and continue the next morning.

Softy was not anxious to confront Dusty in the evening.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tar and Feathers

". . . who'd like to tar and feather him with his own pillows."

Augusta went back to the office and started to work on finding Softy. He was so angry at the guy that he could barely see. Even though Softy's disappearance made it possible for Augusta to form a relationship with Dusty, Augusta was furious that Softy had left his wife destitute.

He knew that Softy sold pillows door to door, so he started calling all the pillow manufactures. They all knew Softy, and some had seen him since his disappearance. That seemed to make a case for Dusty to divorce Softy on the grounds of cruelty and abandonment.

But Augusta was not one to forgive and forget. No one, in his mind, should do to anyone as Softy had done to Dusty.

The challenge was to figure out where Softy now was. He decided to call all the police stations in the state. Perhaps Softy had been busted for operating outside the limits of the law.

As he called the stations one by one, they all knew about Softy, but none had seen him for quite some time. Softy had a way of leaving town just when his reputation started to go astray. Seemed like he would start a pyramid scheme, get paid for the samples, and then leave town. There were lots of customers waiting for their pillow. And there were lots of his "salespeople" who'd like to tar and feather Softy with his own feathers.

Friday, September 28, 2007

On the Road (Again)

". . . not hard to pull aside if you have a rope."

Eliza and Softy reconstituted the old pillows into new ones. Eliza delivered the pillows and her customer was satisfied.

"My husband came home early and asked where his pillow was. I just said that I was washing it, so he didn't seem to mind. I think he'll be happier not knowing that I bought him a new pillow. If he doesn't notice that I had my hair cut and colored he certainly won't notice a new pillow."

"Good idea. I'll suggest it to future female customers," Eliza said.

"So are you going to stick around?"

"No, we need to be leaving town. We have a mission in Dustland. We need to see how someone is doing."

"Can't you just call or email?"

"No, we can't be that direct."

"Did you know that Dustland is just a couple of hours from here, if you go on the old road? There might be a log or two that have fallen on the road, but they are not hard to pull aside if you have a rope."

"Yea, we have a rope. We'll give it a try."

"Would you like to sell some pillows for us? We'll give you half of what you take in."

"Half! Wow, those pillows must have a great mark-up!"

"No, not really. We are paying to distribute the pillows around the US. It is our mission to give everyone a good night's sleep."

"Ok. I'll be glad to sell some pillows. As long as it is for the good of humanity. I don't really need the money."

"Fine. You can use your pillows as the samples, and we'll be through here is a week or so to help you fill the orders."

"Sounds peachy to me."

"See you soon. Write down your questions so when we talk next I can answer them."



Thursday, September 27, 2007

More on God

". . . his alarm clock that had some wires attached to it. . . . ."

"So you think that seeing is believing," Dusty said, adding, "there is no doubt that the world in wondrous and beyond our wildest imaginations. But believing that any force could create Earth is also a leap."

"Ok, let's agree to disagree on this one. What we need to do is to get you divorce. He is dead, isn't he?"

"Well, I think so, but his body was never found."

"Hey, you are going too fast. What happened?"

"Softy had a shed out back where he worked to inventing the perfect pillow substance. One day their was a giant explosion and everything was gone. Except, that is, his alarm clock that had some wires attached to it. Because there was no sign of Softy we just assumed that he was dead."

"As a copy I've learned not to make any assumptions. How about his pension? Did you apply for the pension?"

"I tried, but they said I'd have to wait ten years."


"Because there was no evidence that he was actually dead."

"That's cruddy. So you starve for ten years. If I ever meet up with Softy I'll teach him a thing or two."

"You really think he's alive."

"It is obvious. Why else would he make a time bomb?"

"Oh, I didn't think of that."

"Do you think we can find him?" Dusty said with tears of joy running down her cheeks."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Different Kind of Test?

"How about if we put 'God Saves' . . . ."

Eliza had the habit of saying things that weren't true. Like she had an idea for a different kind of test for God's existence. She just knew that the tests she had heard about wouldn't do. She decided to come clean.

"Softy, I really don't have a test, but I do think if we put our heads together we could come up with something."

"How about if we drop paper clips on the floor and see if any words form. If God wanted to he could form any words he wanted."

"But suppose he was on to us, and he didn't want people to believe because of physical proof, but rather believe because they had faith."

"Do you think he'd do that?"

"Why yes," Eliza said.

"Maybe we've already had a sign. The fact that we are being allowed to sell the pillows without a license seems enough of a sign for me."

"How about if we put 'God Saves' on the pillows since he did save our butts."

"And suppose that he doesn't exist, but that we were just plain lucky."

"Well, lots of pillows would be sold, we still wouldn't need a license, and . . ." Eliza stopped abruptly.


"It is our mission to see if Dusty is alright? Perhaps we ought to just sell a couple of pillows and move on to the next town. Opportunity or not, our goal is not exactly prosperity but rather to move across the country."

"Sounds like a plan," Softy said.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Think I'm Married

It was black or white.

"I'm married, or at least I think I may be. Are you married if you don't have a husband?

Let me start from the beginning. Well, not quite the beginning.

Softy and I met in college. He lived in his place, and I lived in mine, and we mainly met for dates. Before we knew it, on a lark, we went to a justice of the peace and got married. We got along well, so we thought that marriage would be the next step.

Everything was peachy until we bought this house and moved in. Actually, when we moved into this house it was clean as a whistle and devoid of any bunnies. We thought we had a marriage made in heaven until the bunnies started appearing. Then the trouble started. He couldn't understand how I could worship dirt, as he called it, and I couldn't understand how he could worship cleanliness. It was black or white. Either the bunnies would have to go or he would divorce me. Well, I had never worked and he had a good job selling pillows so I decided that I wouldn't give him a divorce. I believed in the back of my heart that he'd come around someday and realize that the bunnies were god's creatures, just like the rest of us.

Not to digress, but that was another issue. He couldn't understand how anyone could believe in God because couldn't find him/her in a Sears catalog. And I kept explaining to him that he would just open his eyes he'd see that God was everywhere. We'd go back and forth about the bunnies, then we'd go back and forth about God and life went quickly from bad to worst."

"How could anyone who can see not believe in G_D?" Augusta said.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What Now?

"Couldn't we call our pillows, 'Sleep w/G_D?'" Eliza said.

Softy returned to the hotel room to find out that they didn't need a business license because their pillow business had been classified as a religious organization. Softy is very impressed with the work that Eliza did on the officers.

The officers left the room, and Eliza and Softy went to dinner at the hotel restaurant.

After they ordered, they talked about their future in this little hick town they were in. They liked the idea that they were missionaries, but they were not very excited they people might expect them to extol God's word.

"Couldn't we call our pillows, 'Sleep w/G_D?'" Eliza said.

"Are you really comfortable with that. Yesterday you told me that God did not exist."

"Maybe he does exist, and we were put on earth to spread his word. That is why the officers changed their minds," Eliza argued.

"Get real. You did a real number on those officers, but it wasn't to promote the word of God."

"How do you know?"

"We'll have to devise a test. If God really wants us to work for him, he'll give us another sign."

"Remember that Mother Teresa only heard from God for three weeks during a fifty year period. Are we that patient?"

"No, but I have an idea for a different kind of test," Eliza quipped.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Dusty should have been elated that her life had turned around on a dime. She now had a boyfriend, utilities, and friends for her bunnies. But characteristic of most outcasts, she was more comfortable with being ostracized than with being embraced.

She knew intellectually that her new life had much promise, and yet wondered what true happiness it would provide. She wondered if happiness was really the point to life, or would she get more satisfaction supporting her "cause."

Yes, she thought, she was put on earth to make it a better place. And Augusta had been sent to her, as an angel, to help her spread the word.

She knew that dust bunnies were more important that what they seemed. For centuries bunnies were swept out in the street, to be trampled on by packs of dogs, horses, and later cars. As Einstein refuted Newton, so had Eliza refuted all conventional wisdom. Finally these little creatures had a champion.

Dusty's thoughts were abruptly interrupted by Augusta.

"Aren't you excited, my dear. Your life has turned around on a dime, and now your bunnies have a chance to give love and happiness to the world. Not only that, but others will start to breed the critters in their homes and businesses. It is the dawn of a new age."

"But Augusta, we are now in the public eye. And we don't have a business license . . . or a marriage license."

"One thing at a time, dear. What would you like to do first?"

"That certainly is one hell of a strange proposal. Are you asking me to marry you?"

"I am."

"Then I must tell you a story."

"I'm all ears."

Saturday, September 22, 2007


The two officers laid down on the bed, resting their heads on the new pillows. Eliza told them to close their eyes, and they swiftly fell asleep.

Softy and Eliza didn't know what to do. They could leave the officers asleep and skip town, or they could wake them up and hope they had made their case that good pillows primarily existed to benefit humanity.

Eliza whispered to Softy, "Suppose we switch pillows on them, giving them back the old pillows, and then skip town."

Softy reminded Eliza, "Remember, we decided to become honest. Let's wake them up."

"How about if we get them a cup of coffee," Eliza said.

"I'll go get it. If we both go they will put out an all points bulletin for us."

Softy went to the hotel restaurant for a couple of cups of coffee. Eliza sat and watched the officers snore away. "My life is certainly more interesting that it was with Alfred."

Before long, the officers awoke. "Hey Charlie," one of them remarked, "the guy skipped out."

"No he didn't. He went to get you a cup of coffee," Eliza said.

"He better be back here in five minutes," the other cop, Ralph, asserted.

"He will. Now how did you like the pillow? Both of you were sleeping like logs. Here's a picture I took of you with my digital camera."

Eliza showed them the picture in the little screen in the back of her digital camera.

"Hey, that wasn't nice. You shouldn't have taken that."

"It is just a picture. And, don't worry. I won't show it to your superiors."

"Better not."

"Here's Softy now. I hear him walking down the hallway."

"You can count your stars . . ." Ralph said.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Powwow

The officers went outside after looking at the bunnies and huddled about fifteen feet from the house in a powwow that seemed to take hours. Their dilemma was whether to uphold the letter of the law, and or to follow their inner guide. They knew on the one hand that Dusty and Augusta were doing a great public service by getting people to be mindful of the down trodden, so to speak. And then, on the other hand, they had taken an oath to uphold the law, even if they should disagree with it.

But, they argued, what would they say to their maker, when asked why they followed the law when they knew it wasn't right. And suppose the law told them to kill their children. They certainly wouldn't do that.

They decided not to go back to the house, but just to leave the premises and issue a report that they informed Dusty of the complaint and of the law, and that she indicated she understood the severity of her actions.

Dusty and Augusta watched the officers leave, and smiled at each other. They certainly were on a roller coaster and this was a high point for their day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Knockers

Well, it seems that we have a parallel universe here. Just as Dusty and Augusta were busted, so it appears that Eliza and Softy are in deep dudu, as the expression goes.

Two cops were at the door. It appeared that Eliza's customer's husband called the cops when he heard the story about the pillows. He was furious that his wife had shelled out $200 for pillows, took the old pillows, and hadn't even delivered any new pillows. It didn't sound legit.

"Let us see your business license, please," one of the officer's demanded.

"We plan on getting one tomorrow," Softy said.

"Then you can pay the fine tomorrow, after a restful night in the slammer. We know your kind and you are not welcome in this town."

"Now wait a second," Eliza said.

"What is it you'd like to say, Ma'am. Do you both want to spend the night in the slammer?"

"Officer, if we were giving out bibles door to door would you be so adamant that we have a license?" Eliza argued.

"Well, no, but pillows ain't bibles."

"Pillows may be better than bibles." Eliza blurted out, but then regretted what she had said.

"Excuse me, but we respect the lord's word in these parts," the other officer said.

"What I meant, sirs, is that if you have had a long day and you are really tired and you want to lay down your head . . . which would you use, a bible or a pillow?"

"An interesting argument, Ma'am. I'm glad you added that or we would have thrown away the key."

"Officers, just give us a second of your time. Would you both lay down on the bed a moment and put your head on our pillows. I think you'll experience a moment of relaxation? Do you know that your head weighs about 15 lbs? That is a lot of weight for the average pillow. Imagine the effect on your lovely town if everyone woke up with a smile on their face." Eliza couldn't believe that she was asking the officers to try out the pillows. Nor could Softy believe his partner couldn't keep her trap shut.

"Buster, what do you think? Can it hurt any if we lay down . . . just for a moment?"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Argument

Even though Dusty had second thoughts about converting her house to a public nuisance, as the officers called it, she was not going to take defeat sitting down.

"Officers, are you men of G_D?" she asked.

"Why yes, Ma'am, the lord is our shepherd," the tallest of the two officers responded.

"Well you then take a closer look at one of my bunnies."

"Ma'am, you are using one of the oldest trick in the book. Every day people use all kinds of excuses to talk us out of things. Any seasoned officer of the law has heard all the excuses and is resistant to falling for them."

"This is not an excuse. We both walk in the shadow of the lord (here she was getting her scriptures confused) and we need to be mindful of all beings, sentient and otherwise (and now she was getting her religious mixed up)."

"You use some impressive words, Ma'am. What would you like us to do?"

"Well, come over here and get down on your knees."

"You aren't going to knock us out with a stick," one of the officers joked.

"Of course not. Just come over here and spend a few minutes with one of the bunnies."
Dusty said very politely as she handed each of the men a magnifying glass.

"Now look at the bunnies and notice their luscious garb. Notice the sheen in their hairs. Notice how they tend to quiver as they look back at you (unbeknownest to the men, she blew gently on the bunny to make it quiver a little)."

"Wow!" one of the officers exclaimed, "did you see that guy move."

"Hold on to your gun," the other office warned.

"No, take a look at that little critter. She is a real looker!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Dusty took the woman's two pillows and carried them, with two "new" pillows to their hotel room.

As she started to go up the stairs the clerk said, "Hey Lady, what are you doing with all of our pillows."

"Excuse me, sir, but we sell pillows and these aren't your pillows."

"He nodded and went back to reading his magazine."

When she got to the room Softy was stretched out on the bed fast asleep.

"Wake up, sleepy one, I have some good news."

"Wh...a...t is it my lov...e?"

"I sold two pillows. Got $200 and their old pillows."

"Not bad, for an amateur. When I was starting out I once went to a children's home and sold a case of pillows. That's one hundred, you know."

"Shhhh... How could you do that to a bunch of poor kids?"

"They were thrilled to have new pillows."

"New? You mean old pillows with new covers."

"Dusty, you need to realize that there isn't any such thing as a new feather. Feather come from chickens, and you never know where a chicken has been. A pre-owned feather actually has less particulate matter on it than newly plucked feather. The foreign debris has had a chance to fall off."

"Be quiet and help me reconstitute these pillows. I've had enough of your stories for today."

"Your wish is my command, Eliza."

"Hey, who is knocking on the door."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Success or Busted

Success is a two edged sword. As Emily Dickinson wrote, "Success is counted sweetest By those who ne'er succeed." In the first place, Dusty had gotten used to her private fetish being private. Now that the lights were on, and that it was out in the open, she was not so interested in the bunnies. She had risen from being unknown to being infamous.

She was concerned whether the public really liked the bunnies, or whether they were just laughing at her. And was Augusta in it for the money, or because he cared about her?

Would the bunnies stick around? What is like for a bunny to be examined in the flesh with a magnifier? "Look at that funny one," someone would say.

It was a hard moment for Dusty. She planned to have a talk with Augusta that evening.

As some tears came down her cheeks, she saw two men from city hall come through the door. They didn't look happy.

"We've had some complains from the neighbor, ma'am. Your house is a residence. You can't just hang up a sign and make in a darn sanctuary. You are not even supposed to have those bunnies, anyway. I thought Augusta and his crew cleaned them up. Augusta, what are you doing here? Are you a part of this?"

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Customer

Eliza had to restrain herself from selling a pillow to her eager customer. Sure, she could have sold one pillow. But her goal was to sell both pillows, not to leave any "new" pillows behind, to get full price for the pillows, to have the customer to sell some pillows to her friends, to get the cash in advance, and to get the customer's old pillows before delivering the new ones.

As Eliza was learning the ropes she was also learning the true meaning of Chutzpah. In its purest form, chutzpah is unrestrained audacity. It is difficult to say no to someone with chutzpah because they take permissions for their actions with such confidence.

Anyone can sell a good product for a low price. The opposite is more difficult. A true salesman takes pride in being able to sell anything to anyone. That is the meaning of being a professional.

Eliza was a quick study. Her customer believed that she had a new best friend who had a mission in life to deliver unadulterated sleep to her and her husband.

She almost gagged when her customer brought out her husband's pillow. Not only was it lumpy. Not only was it flat. Not only did it smell. It had the most disgusting stains that she ever seen.

"Listen, Miss. If I was a salesperson, I'd tell you that was the worst pillow I had ever seen. If I was youR best friend, I'd tell you the same. I'm supposed to be an impartial researcher, but for the moment I'm going to step out of those shoes. Your husband should not be sleeping on that pillow."

"But why? He says it is his best friend."

"Well, you either like him or hate him. If you like him, you don't want him to die from the diseases in such an atrocity. And if you hate him, you don't want him to lose him mind from ceropity, do you?"

"Ceropity? What is that?"

"It is not a common disease, but we are seeing more and more breakouts now that people are keeping their pillows longer and longer. I'm going to have to take your husband's pillow. I promise I'll have a new pillow back for him before he comes home from work. And because I'm not supposed to be selling you anything, I'll give it to you at cost. In fact, I'd like to be able to bring you two pillows back for you and your husband. Now go get me your pillow."

"But what will the pillows cost?"

"Cost? What does a bout of ceropity cost? What does it cost to bury a husband and find a new one?"

"I guess you are right. I'll have to go to the bank. How much will I owe you."

"$200 for the two pillows. I'll get in trouble selling them so cheap. But I want you and your husband to be safe, starting tonight. Doing pillow research is my opportunity to make the world a better place. Now go get your pillow so I can be on my way."

"Sure. I'll be right back."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Opening Day

The sanctuary was ready and the bunnies were dressed in some fresh dust. Augusta spent the night on the couch so he'd be able to be ready for the crowds at day break. They had forgotten to mention the hours on some of the publicity so Dusty and Augusta figured some would come at dawn.

The Hummer was gassed up and ready for the crowds. Dirty Hairy was assigned the task of keeping people from walking up the road. Only 4 people were let into the sanctuary at a time, and no kids under 10.

No one complained about the $5 tickets and everyone was delighted to see the bunnies under the magnifying lens. Dusty gave a little talk to each crowd which became more polished as the day progressed.
My dear friends of the Dust Bunny Sanctuary. Some day you'll be able to tell your children and grandchildren that you were here on the first day we were open to the public. I congratulate you for your choice to spend this fine day in a sanctuary with such a divine presence.

As you experience the bunnies, please try to feel the sensations you get from them. Notice their hairy texture and the variety of their colorations. It is not necessary to conceptualize your reaction with them. Just be with the bunnies and they will be with you. They will become your angels and will guide you through good and bad times.

Enough said. Now enjoy my friends and when you get home, stop cleaning and enjoy your dirt for the diamond that it is.

Perhaps Dusty went a little far, but the crowd loved it. It was evident that Dusty and Augusta would need to start taking reservation because the lines were going out to the highway.

Success had come to Dustland.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lots has Happened

Alfred called his buddy the detective to put out an all-points bulletin for Eliza. His buddy owed him because Alfred saved his life in Nam.

In the meantime, Softy and Eliza set out in opposite directions with pillows under their arms. They had a somewhat healthy competitive spirit to see who can sell the most pillows.

Eliza knocked on the door of her first customer.

"Hello, I'm representing one of the largest door-to-door pillow marketing companies and we are gather marketing ideas for the development of a new line. Unfortunately we don't have any pillows to sell you, but we'd like to show you our newest model. May I come in."

Eliza knew that everyone wants what they can't have. Lying was becoming second nature to her.

"Sure, come in. My husband is always complaining about his pillow. And yet when I try to get him a new one he complains that it is too stiff. Doesn't anyone make a pillow that is soft right out of the box."

"Would you bring out his pillow. I'd like you to compare it to this one that I have underneath my arm."

"Sure. I'd love to show you the disgusting lump that he calls his best friend. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could switch it out and he wouldn't even notice it."

"Remember, I'm not selling these pillows. I'm just looking for some marketing opinions. But maybe something can be worked out at a later date."

"We'll, let me get his lump of a pillow. Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"Yes, that will be nice."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Grand Opening

Progress went lightening fast on the commercialization of the sanctuary. The press release was written and Augusta gave it to his friend on the newspaper. His friend started to roll on the floor laughing, thinking it was a joke.

Augusta almost lost his temper, but instead laughed with his friend a little and then admitted that the sanctuary was out of the ordinary and that is why the sanctuary should be of interest to the public.

Well, the newspaper ran the article, and understandably it caused a lot of commotion. One prominent citizen wrote a letter to the editor:
How dare you run an article about a dust sanctuary. Do you not respect the Christian value that cleanliness is next to godliness? Do you not realize that dust bunnies are the eye sore in any home and to glorify those buggers is nothing less than sin? Get off your high horse of tolerance and grow back your moral backbone.

Well, the letter and the fact that the sanctuary was now the main topic of conversation in Dustland was great PR for the opening. In fact, for opening day, Dusty and Augusta decided to limit the visits to 5 minutes so that more people could go through.

Then Augusta painted large bunnies on the doors of the Hummer and on the side of the house. Dusty was pleased with the progress, though concerned that the bunnies were not yet arranged safely in the house and that the path for the visitors was not yet indicated on the floor.

With the opening two days away, they decided that they'd spend the next day on these issues. Augusta came back with a thin red carpet to indicate where people should walk, and some magnifying glass for the visitors.

He called the power company and got the electricity turned on. He worked out a payment plan with them for Dusty to pay her past bills off.

The sun was shining brightly on Dusty's Sanctuary. It was a good day in Dustland.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A New Day

Softy and Eliza drove into the sunrise, believing that they had Alfred's blessing.

Far from a blessing, Alfred was so furious that he could barely see well enough to drive to work. Then he remembered their meager savings in the local National City Bank and realized that he should go by the bank on the way to work. He discovered that she had taken all their savings, which added considerably to his fury.

He did go to work, however, knowing that he'd be out on the street without his job if he missed another day of work. "How am I going to pursue Eliza and keep my job?" he muttered to himself.

It wasn't long before Softy and Eliza got hungry and decided to stop for breakfast. They'd had never been to a restaurant together.

Softy ordered eggs sunny side up, but not runny, toast with half of a pad of butter, and coffee with a little nutmeg.

Unbelievably, Eliza ordered the same and they then knew that they were made in Heaven for each other.

"Do you think I really should have taken all the savings, Softy?"

"You said you were just borrowing it. With your brains and my experience, we'll be able to pay him back with interest."

"Don't you think I ought to give him a call or write him a letter. I certainly don't want him to come after me."

"He find some chick and forget about you and the money before the sun sets."

"I hope so."

"Do you think we could sell some pillows in this town?"

"Let's give it a try."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Press Release

It was starting to get dark so Dusty lit a candle. Then she proceeded to write the press release.
Hear ye, hear ye . . .

"Dusty, this is not a resolution, it is a press release."

"Ok, if you are so smart Augusta, you write it."

"Don't mind if I do."

Announcing the opening of the Mid-America Dust Bunny Sanctuary

"I didn't mean that you'd name the sanctuary. I started it, so I should name it. How about "Dusty's Home for the Ignored?"

"That's a little esoteric, whatever that means. How will they know who the ignored are, and suppose that people want to be taken in by the home because they feel ignored. You don't want that, do you? How about "Home for Destitute Dust Bunnies (HDDB)?"

"I like that, Augusta."

Home for Destitute Dust Bunnies (HDDB)
Starting September 15 Dusty and Augusta will be . . . .

"Augusta, I never agreed that we'd be partners."

"Well, we better settle that first. May I be a partner in your enterprise? I want none of the profits. I just want to see your sanctuary prosper."

"That is very sweet Augusta. How about a "limited partnership?" You'll be the directer of the shuttle service and PR."

"Ok, if that all you'll give me for now, I'll have to take it."

"Good. Now keep writing before the candle burns out."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Alfred Comes to his Senses

Alfred fell asleep in his chair, leaving the TV on. Eliza was glad of that so she wouldn't have to make excuses why he couldn't make love (if you want to call it that) to her.

The morning sun burst through the window and awoke him. He staggered into the shower, knowing that it was his only chance to get to work looking decent and on time. His boss had threatened to fire him numerous times because of his slovenly appearance and tardiness. He knew that a cat had nine lives and he wasn't as lucky as a cat.

He forgot to turn on the light in the bathroom. His head hurt from his drinking, and anyway, bright lights were not what he wanted for breakfast.

He reached to adjust the shower head and felt the rolled letter hanging from the shower. "What's this?" he said to himself.

He unrolled the letter, turned on the lights, and started reading. He then remembered that Eliza told him the night before that she was leaving him. His face turned red with anger.

"There is no way that bitch is leaving me," he said out loud, "Eliza, Eliza, come here this instant."

But the house was quiet and he figured the worst. She had left already.

He knew that he couldn't afford to lose his job, so he put the letter on the sink and went back into the shower. He knew that he'd come up with a plan to find Eliza and she'd be sorry that she had run out on him. "That bitch will never run out on me again," he muttered to himself with confidence.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Dusty Listens to the Plan

If Dusty or her bunnies weren't in such a predicament she would not have been so eager to hear Augusta's plan. This was a time when something needed to be done or her house and its residents (the dust bunnies) would be evacuated.

"Well, Dusty, my idea is that you charge people to come and see some your bunnies. Initially you could just open up one room, and you'd hand people magnifiers and they'd come and see your bunnies. There is not too much happening in Dustland and people will appreciate the opportunity for a new experience. You could even play dust bunny music, wear a dust bunny hat, and serve bunny lemonade. But let's start . . . ."

"Hey, wait a second mister, you are on probation. You are assuming that we'll be partners."

"Didn't you notice how I cleaned up, stepped gently, and brought you flowers?"

"Yes, but what will you look like tomorrow? In any case, keep talking. What could I charge people?"

"I think people will be thrilled to pay $5 for the opportunity to see a few of your most interesting bunnies."

"I'm interested. But they will have to take their shoes off and step on designated marks on the floor. We can't take any chances. How do you think we could get the word around?"

"Press releases are the best and cheapest way. Other than signs, that is. Let's do a sign on the highway, and a press release."

"Sounds great. If we write the press release, can you type it at work so it looks good."

"Sure, I'll be glad to do that. And I know someone at the newspaper."

"Say, I don't have any parking."

"Dusty, I've thought of everything. I get to use my Hummer on my day off. How about if I shuttle people from the road to your house one day a week. They'll get 15 minutes at the sanctuary for $5, and then they get shuttled back."

"Yes, and they'll love the Hummer ride as well as the bunnies. And we could ask them to become members of the sanctuary society that will entitle them to one free tour of the sanctuary each month. That way I'll get a little cash flow right away to get the utilities turned on."

"Now your thinking!"

Dusty hugged Augusta and then went off to find some paper and a pen to write the press release.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Letter for the Shower

Eliza decided to write Alfred a letter because he tended to be confused about what she would say to him. She'd leave it hanging from the shower. His most sober moments tended to be in the morning when he took a shower.
Dear Alfred,

My name is Eliza. That might seem like a casual repetition of a fact you already know, but I'm leaving you because you don't really get it. I never wanted to be primarily a woman, or your wife, or even a homosapien. I just wanted to be Eliza and to surround myself with others you recognize me as such. It is not primarily my mission in life to wash your dishes or stinky underwear. It is my mission to be me.

I am here, or am I? Some part of me has been married to you, trying moment by moment to recreate that original love that I had for you. But when you come home, day after day, drunk and stupid and mean, it is hard to be here, and I tend to live more in the positive aspects of my past, or in the hope I have for the future.

In a sense all of us Earthlings are here and everywhere. We host atoms who belong to everyone who is, was, and will be alive. We have histories that go back to the beginning of time, and dreams that extend to the end of time. Part of me will always be here with you, and part of you will be here with me, no matter where I go.

I'm not sure what the "I" is of me. That is going to be my search. What will it look like as I paint this picture of "I" with words, with actions, and pictures? Who is Eliza?

In my search for her, you certainly will be part of my heart and soul. And I thank you for that.

Peace be with you, Alfred.

Your loving partner,


Eliza went to the bathroom and tied a string to the shower head. At the other end of the string she put the letter, rolled up tightly.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Augusta Starts to Sell "the Idea"

As Augusta walked toward the door of Dusty's house with some trepidation. Part of him was attracted by her caring nature, and part was repulsed by her squalor. Then he remembered his plan, and confidently proceeded.

The door opened slowly before he was able to knock on it. Dusty always did that so as to not stir around the dust bunnies. Augusta realized that the safety of the bunnies must be a high priority if they decide to commercialize the sanctuary.

"Hello Dusty, it is good to see you."

"I am glad that you have returned, Augusta, and you look like quite the gentleman. May I take your hat? Would you like something to drink."

Augusta knew that giving her his hat was one thing, but getting something to drink was courting danger.

"Here's my hat. I don't need anything to drink. Just had breakfast."

"Will, come on in."

As Augusta came it, he walked very carefully to avoid the bunnies. In fact, to the outsider, it might have looked that he was doing a ballet dance as he stepped so carefully on the few spots of floor that weren't already occupied.

"Augusta, I assume by your dress and manner that you took some of my suggestions to heart. I'm so proud of you for doing that. I know that it must have been a blow to your ego to hear such criticisms."

"Dusty, I have taken seriously your suggestions and find them helpful and reasonable. I do have an idea that I'd like to discuss with you for the dust bunny sanctuary."

"Augusta, before you start I need to let you know that I don't think I'll be here long. I owe five years of back taxes and have no income. I can't get welfare because I own the house, and I can't live in the house anymore unless I can get welfare. Great to be in America, isn't it."

"Let's not start comparing America with some other countries that I've been in. But I agree that you are in a quandary, and I have just the plan where you can not only stay in your house, but you will get enough money to turn on the utilities. And you'll be able to share your love for dust bunnies with the world."

"I'm all ears," Dusty said.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Eliza Confronts Alfred

Alfred came home early that night, as Eliza was planning her escape. Her suitcase was packed and hidden behind a bush. It would have been easy to leave Alfred as he was snoring away one more hangover.

And that was the plan. Except Eliza had a smile on her face that she couldn't hide.

"What's going on, Eliza, you have that look on your face?"

"What look is that, Alfred."

"It is the look of having something up your sleeve. Let me look at your sleeve."

Alfred grabs Eliza and tries to pull up her sleeve. When she resists, he tries to kiss her. She resists that too.

"Leave me alone. I told you that I can't stand men who have been drinking."

"The bottom line is that you can't stand me."

"Yes, that's right. I can't stand you."

"Now the truth is coming out."

"And I'm leaving you tomorrow."

"How are you going to do that? I support you."

"That's my problem."

"It certainly will be. Is my mother in on this?"

"No. Of course not."

"So where will you go."

"On a mission of mercy."

"So you're going to become a nun or something."

"More like something."

"Good riddance. I hope to never see you again."

Alfred went to the icebox and got another beer. He opened it and sat in front of the TV, turning it on loudly with his back to Eliza.

"That wasn't so bad. I wonder if he'll really let me go that easily," Eliza wondered.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Augusta Decides

Augusta’s father always said, “Go for it.” Augusta thought of his father as he made his decision to pursue his relationship with Dusty. But he knew that when he focused on some of her specific traits he was unsure of his decision, so he just focused on those traits that were more to his liking, especially the way she cared for him.

He knew that, if he was going to get her to change, he’d have to change himself, or at least make some pretense. So he decided to put on some regular clothes, a little bit of aftershave, some dress shoes, and pay her a visit. First he made a stop at the flower store, and then a stop at the candy store. "No six pack of beer, maybe a bottle of wine. Maybe flowers and candy are too much,” he thought, “No, maybe flowers this time and save the candy for the next.”

He decided to call Dusty first, but then remembered that she didn’t have a phone. Her poverty was certainly an issue. He wondered if he could get her out of her situation.

He pondered too how she could pay her property taxes. It seemed that she lived on nothing. Certainly she should be able to charge admission for visits to her sanctuary.

The light bulb went on. Before Augusta was a cop he sold air conditioners. He had quite a flair for sizing up his customers and emptying their pockets.

If he could get Dusty sold on the idea of going commercial, perhaps she would be able to afford such things as light and heat. Augusta smiled, thinking, “It is a brilliant idea, if I must say so myself.”

It was one of those days when he was in a hurry, yet every traffic light was red. Finally he pulled into Dusty’s drive and saw her looking out of the window. He hid the flowers behind his back and walked toward her house.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Will Eliza Spy?

"Softy, I'm having some trouble understanding why you'd go to such lengths to fake your death when you could have just divorced Dusty."

"Dusty would have been so heartbroken if I told her I couldn't stand to live with her."

"But think how devastated she must be to believe that you are dead. And she might be starving to death without any water or heat. You said that she is too strange to be able to work at a job."

"Well, I am worrying about her."

"Worry does not feed the stomach. We need to go to Dustland right now and make sure she is alright."

"But what if she is not. What can we do?"

"We need to take care of her. Somehow?"

"But how?"

"There is only one way. But before we get to that, let's see what the facts are. We'll leave tomorrow for Dustland and we'll only sell enough pillows along the way for gas and a little food. Agreed, partner?"


Monday, September 3, 2007

Augusta Cleans Up

The combination of the remaining lard and Hairy's saliva made August feel especially dirty. "What am I getting into?" he wondered.

His mother had told him to count to 10 when he was faced with a confusing situation. He tried 10, but his confusion remained. "Maybe she meant 100," he thought.

Finally he made it home, sitting on old newspapers in his car so that he wouldn't soil the seats. The lard, unfortunately, dissolved the ink on the newspaper and words, in reverse, covered his legs and cargo shorts.

He threw his clothes in the wash and went right for the shower. He couldn't get the water hot enough or stay in the shower long enough to feel clean again. He got out of the shower, dried himself off, and then decided to show once again. "Now that's better," he concluded.

He became clear about two things taking the second shower: 1) that he could never see Eliza again, that he could take her as she was, or that he could change her and 2) that he would change her as she wanted to change him. "Tit for tat," he thought.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Big Confession

"Eliza, I may be a married man. I'm not sure. I was married to a crazy gal named Dusty who runs a dust bunny sanctuary. She and her dog, Dirty Hairy, are filthy. They not only liked dirt— sometimes they both even looked like dirt. Life was a living hell for me.

I needed to get out, and I wanted Eliza to get my pension so she wouldn't starve to death. I knew that she was too far gone to work at a job.

I had a shed behind the house where I conducted chemistry experiments to improve the pillows. I tried to make a synthetic pillow that would cost virtually nothing to produce and would have the softness and recoverability of a feather.

Before I got too far into my research I came up with the idea of faking my death. After exploring a number of options, I decided to blow up the shack and make it look like I was blown up as well. That way Dusty would be able to get my pension, and even remarry, should she find anyone who could stand her.

So on one cold day in October, I made a sort of time bomb with a couple of chemicals and a clock. I was out of the shack just in time and watched the explosion from behind a tree in a forest. I saw Dusty and Dirty starting to run toward the blaze, and then I vanished.

Perhaps curiosity did kill the cat, but I really want to know if Dusty is alive and well, and if she got my pension. Is she heartbroken? Has she found a new man? Did she get remarried? Have I been officially proclaimed dead?

I could use your help here. Obviously it would be a disaster if I went and knocked on her door. I'm wondering if you could do a little leg work for me? If you'll still have me, that is."

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Mess

It was a sad mess. Dusty greased up Augusta with the lard from the inside of her house, then went outside and pulled him out. Time for a shower, you say? Well, remember that Dusty had no running water.

If Augusta looked bad with the boots, the cargo shorts, and the Hawaiian shirt, he really looked bad covered with lard. And then the flies discovered him. He turned black with a solid layer of flies. He tried rolling on the floor to squish the flies, but Dusty got hysterical, fearing that her bunnies would die too. Finally Dirty Hairy, who had been sleeping, got into the act and started licking the lard off Augusta from head to toes.

Eventually Augusta was lickety clean, so to speak. The flies were sluggish from the great meal, and Dusty was relieved that there was no longer extreme turmoil in his habitat.

"Augusta, that was quite an experience that we had, wasn't it. Some day we may be able to laugh about it. In the meantime, maybe you'd like to take your hat and go home and change. I assume that you decided that change was an acceptable price to pay for our relationship."

"Now wait a second, Dusty. You'll need to tell me how you can like me, and err . . . not like me at the same time?"

"A lot of what we like in a person isn't right in front of us, but it is what we know about them. It is a combination of our experiences and our projection into the past . . . future, I mean."

Dusty talked like one of her university professors. Unfortunately she didn't understand what he meant when she was in college and still didn't understand it any better.

"What arrrre you talking about? You are avoiding my question. But I'm so uncomfortable to be covered with Dirty's saliva, and so confused about our relationship that I will go home. When I clean up maybe I'll be able to see the whole situation with a smidgen of clarity."

"Now don't you forget your hat. I'll be waiting for you. I hope you'll come back. Now I have to feed the bunnies."

Friday, August 31, 2007

Eliza Responds

"Softy, you must understand that I'm madly in love with you. Perhaps love is blind, but to me you are the savior of humanity.

And to save all those chickens by reusing the feathers . . . what a wonderful idea.

As you were talking, I started wondering if the deception is really necessary, or could we turn your recycling of the feathers into a talking point. Imagine if we said that our pillows use renewable resources. In addition, we call them "peace pillows" because everyone would be sleeping with the energies of others. Feathers are so light that I believe they have a lot of room to soak up energies."

"Eliza, those are interesting ideas. I can see that you'll be a good partner. But perhaps you'll want nothing to do with me when I tell you the rest of my story."

"How could I have nothing to do with you. I love you. And I learned from the Bible that we should not criticize the splinter in your brother's eye until we see the log in our own eye."

"Wait until you hear my story. I've been living alone with this burden for five years now, and I need to tell it to you."

"What could be so terrible, Softy. Did you murder someone?"

"Well, I murdered myself. But let me start from the beginning."

"If you murdered yourself, then you must be dead."

"Not quite. Now be quiet and I'll start from the beginning."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Augusta Arrested by a Dog Door

"Augusta, you silly thing, you are stuck in the dog door. Shhh Dirty, stop that barking."

"Why didn't you answer my knocks."

"I discovered that one of my bunnies has been murdered. I've had that bunny since Softy left."

"Will you p l e a s e get me out of this door. I think you need to pull me back out from the outside."

Dusty carefully opened the front door (so as to not cause a breeze that would disrupt her bunnies) and went toward the dog door. She grabbed Augusta by the boots and started to pull. It became immediately obvious that he was stuck. She put on her thinking cap and decided to brainstorm: leave him captive stuck in the door, tie a rope to him and to his car and back him out, cut him in half, cover him with lard and slip him out. The last idea seemed the best, as it usually does.

"Augusta, just hold on, I'm going to get some lard and slip you out."

"I'm not going anywhere, Dusty. That is the problem."

"Augusta, please have a sense of humor. It isn't every day that a cop is arrested by a dog door."

"Well, hurry up, will you?"

Dusty went back into the house and got the lard. "This will be very messy," she said to herself with a grin on her face. She went outside, but then decided that it was the part of him on the inside that needed the lard to slip back out. She went back inside and said,"now hold still while I take your shirt off. We don't want to rip the shirt when you come tumbling through the hole."

"Anything. Just do anything to get me out of here. What would the other cops say if they saw me like this?"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Story, Part 1

"Eliza, before you get too involved with me, you'll need to know a few things about the pillows that I sell and about my past. Having been raised a good Catholic, I was taught to believe that confession will help the salvation of my soul. I can't really talk to a priest because he might think that what I have done is so bad that he'd turn me over to the authorities.

First, let me tell you about the pillows I sell. I used to buy fairly good pillows from wholesalers. But my credit got worse and worse, and so I had to improvise. If you notice, I always ask the customer for their old pillows. The truth be told, the problem with most pillows is that they haven't been adequately fluffed. I take the old pillows, rid them of their casings, dump the feathers into a heavy duty garbage bag, and viola, I have the makings of a new pillow. Pre-owned, as the car salesmen like to say.

I take the feathers and fill them into a pillow bag, as the industry calls them. Then I whip out that little sewing machine I have in my trunk and sew the seams together. I attach a look-alike label to the brand the Neiman-Marcus sells, and my total cost is never more than a couple of bucks a pillow.

You might think I'm sleazy doing this. I would understand that, but before you jump to any conclusions, please listen to why I believe that I make the world a much better place for all my customers.

As the Buddha discovered, people suffer. He was off-base thinking that the source of suffering was that they did not know their essential self. They suffer because they don't get any comfort at night. And I can alleviate that suffering by selling them a comfortable fluffed pillow.

Now you might wonder why I don't sell the pillows for ten dollars rather than one hundred and forty-nine dollars. We tend to enjoy quality things. And to the novice, there is little difference between quality and expensive. So I make it expensive and they love it.

Eliza, before I go on with the second story, I want to be sure that you are still with me, and that you want to join my missionary, so to speak, and give comfort to the multitudes that suffer so severely."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Augusta Decides

Augusta cooled down from the criticisms and decided to go back to Dusty's house with Dirty Hairy. He was a forgiving soul and knew that she only meant good with her criticisms.

When he returned to the house he knocked repeatedly on the door. No one answered. Dirty became quite agitated and started barking as they both wondered what happened to Dusty.

He tried the doorknob, but it was locked. He knocked again to no avail. Did she leave the house? Was she alright? Augusta did not know.

Dirty Hairy was not going to stand by. He leaped up on Augusta and knocked him down, and then ran off into the house through the dog door.

As Augusta watched Dirty Hairy from the ground, through the corner of his eye, he remembered how he learned to crawl through small holes in basic training in the marines and felt that he could make it through the dog door, or at least give it a "college" try.

So he got up, brushed off some of the mud on his pants, and walked over to the door. He then looked at the door, looked at his waist, and looked again at the door. "It is going to be close," he said to himself, "but I think I can make it."

Augusta sucked in his breath and started through the door. But Dirty Hairy wanted no part of letting Augusta use his door. The dog alternately barked and growled ferociously, making a big raucous. But Augusta was a brave marine and continued through the dog door, only to get stuck half way through. "Should have taken off my pants," he thought.

Then Augusta saw Dusty on the floor apparently staring at a dust bunny with tears rolling down her eyes. She was weeping hysterically.

"Dusty, Dusty," Augusta called out.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Eliza Steps up to the Plate

Eliza was desperate. She didn't want her opportunity to escape her torturous life to vanish. She decided to use the direct approach since the indirect approach was failing.

"Softy, I would like to go off with you and sell pillows on the road."

"Eliza, why would you ever want to do that? You'd have to leave your husband."

"I'm not sure that I could take another day with him. He treats me so badly, and this town has nothing to offer me."

"But the pillow business is very difficult. Selling to people you know is one thing, but cold calls are another. You have to be on your toes all the time, and you have to be able to stand the abuse."

"Oh, Softy, I would so much like to go under your wings and to learn the ropes."

"But would your husband let you go?"

"Of course not. I'm his virtual slave."

"Then what will you do?"

"I'll pack a suit case, and we'll just go before he comes home."

"Do you have any money? We could use a few bucks to get to the next town."

"I have $500 or so in my bank account. Since it is getting late we'd have to wait until tomorrow to withdraw the money."

"That would be good. We could travel pretty quickly then and he couldn't find us.

"Great. I could have the money and be ready at 10 tomorrow morning."

"Here, give your mother-in-law this pillow. Take her $150. The other pillow we can use in the next town to get orders. Do you think we ought to start selling kid pillows? We could tell people how a good pillow can raise a kid's IQ by 10 points. But we can talk more about that tomorrow."

"Okay, Softy, but before you go, may I kiss you."

"Eliza, of course. But before you do, I need to tell you a story."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Augusta's Dog Walk

Augusta had never walked a dog before. And this dog hadn't been walked in a long time. When these conditions occur, the dog usually walks the man. If it is a big dog, the dog runs the man. If it is icy or muddy, the man falls down. And if it is a really large dog, the man falls down and is dragged.

Dirty Hairy was bred to be a hunter. A soft mouthed dust bunny hunter, that is. Though no dust bunny would be worth her weight once mixed with canine saliva, training is training, and dirty hairy knew his role in life.

You might be thinking that Dirty, as Dusty called him, would snatch up domesticated bunnies that lived and romped in the house. But no, he knew the difference, and only went after the undomesticated bunnies that lived outside.

Dirty Hairy, like other hunters, had a great sense of smell and could track a bunny for miles. His concentration was perfect, which is why he graduated from his class with honors.

Augusta, on the other hand, had been cut down to nothing with the criticisms. He had great affection for Dusty, which made them sting even deeper. He knew that it would be far easier to simply walk up the road, turn around, take back Dirty to Dusty, and then leave forever.

It initially made no sense to him that this woman who professed to care so deeply for him wanted him to change every bone in his body. "What kind of love is that," he wondered.

Augusta, being a cop, was in pretty good shape. To remain a cop, he had to work out two times a week and to keep his weight and body fat under control. But still, it was quite a challenge to keep two feet on the muddy ground with Dirty tracking ever bunny that was within his sniff.

So Augusta's focus went back and forth between attempting to figure out the "dilemma," as he decided it was, and trying to stay on his feet. He had read an article on "mindfulness," and was somewhat confused about how he was supposed to concentrate on his dilemma, and at the same time stay upright. "We always need to be multitasking or our system will break down," he said to himself.

He remembered some of what he learned in his economic class from college and decided that he'd do a cost benefit analysis of becoming Dusty's soul mate vs. running off with his tail between his legs.

If he ran off, he thought, his life would continue to be relatively devoid of intimacy. But he could enjoy his cigars, his stomping like a bull in a china shop, and his ugly clothes. On the other hand, if we went with Dusty, he could enjoy a new and exciting intimate relationship, but he'd have to tolerate a slightly (to be generous) kookie woman.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Door

Eliza's sweaty palms could hardly grip the door. She tried to turn the door knob, but her hand just slid around, never quite being able to turn it. Then her Catholic upbringing started talking to her, "what am I doing? I'm married to a good man." Next the survivor/romantic stepped in, her hand firmly connected with the door knob, and she swung open the door.

There was Softy with two pillows, one under each arm. Softy was about 5'6" and had a beer belly. To see him with a pillow under both arms was a little bit comical, though Eliza only saw the prince on the white horse who had come to save her.

"Softy, Softy," she said, "it is lucky that you've brought me some more pillows. Madonna wants to buy one."

"Hi Eliza. I thought that you might sell one. You were so enthusiastic about the pillows. You know that is the secret of good salesmanship. To truly love your product." Eliza thought that the second secret was to truly love Softy. Her heart was racing so much she realized that she needed to sit down.

"Come on in and get out of the muggy summer heat Softy."

"Don't mind if I do. Do you have a glass of water?"

"Sure. Would you like it with ice cubes? Maybe a slice of lemon?"

"How about with both? That will be great!"

Softy sat down on the plaid couch, with a king size white pillow on either side of him. Eliza went to the kitchen to get him his water. When she returned, she realized that it would be difficult to sit next to him because of the pillows, so she took one of the pillows and put it on the easy chair, and then plopped herself next to Softy, but because of the softness of the couch she probably ended up closer that she intended. She figured that if God had wanted things to be different he wouldn't have had her own such a soft couch.

Softy was a little uncomfortable being so close to Eliza. He started sweating a little. Eliza noticed the beads rolling down his brow and went to the bathroom to get a washcloth with cold water.

She brought it back to him and lovingly wiped his brow. The wind from the ceiling fan blew against his face and gave him a slight but pleasurable chill.

"Tell me, Eliza, did you have to sell the pillow to your mother-in-law, or did the pillow sell itself."

"Well, the difficult part was to get her to try it out. When she heard the price she wanted nothing to do with either me or the pillow. Finally I made a deal with her and she tried it, and then the pillow itself went into action. Her drunk son-of-a-bitch husband loved the way she looked when she awoke, her bags having disappeared from under her eyes and all, and so he told her to buy it, no matter what the cost."

"That is called a turn-a-round," Softy said. "I love that kind of sale. One minute you wonder why you knocked on the door, and a moment later you want this person to sell pillows for you. How about if we see if Madonna wants to sell pillows as well. You'll get a commission, since you found her, and the two of you could transform your town to becoming a haven for happy bagless under their eyes people.

Eliza was a bit dumbfounded about what to do next. Sure, it was great that Madonna sell pillows, especially if she would get a commission. She felt that she was missing a good opportunity to make the move on Softy.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Augusta Ponders

"Dusty, you have said some very hurtful things to me. I think I'll take a walk down the road and take in what you said. I learned in a workshop not to react instantly to such criticism."

"Augusta, please remember that it is only because I care for you and that I desire to pursue a relationship with you that I would say such things."

"I know that Dusty. What I'll have to think about is what will be left of me if I become who'd you like me to be. Let me take a walk."

"Would you like to take Dirty Hairy on a walk with you. He'd love that. He hasn't been on a walk with a man since Softy died."

"Sure. I can do that. But remember, I'm not making any response to your criticisms until I have a chance to process what you have said."

In the workshop Augusta learned a good process for taking criticism. Listen, then breathe deeply, then tell the person what you heard, then go away and consider what they have said, and then respond to the criticism (in person, if possible).

"Before I go on a walk, Dusty, I'd like to be sure that I'm hearing your criticism correctly. You want me to change three things: that I dress differently, that I give up cigars, that I give up beer, and that I walk gentler around your bunnies. Is that correct?"

"No, not exactly. I don't mind if you drink beer when you are not around me. And the cigars are fine as long as I don't have to smell them on your breathe. Maybe when you go hunting with the guys. Though I'd like you to be sure not to take any bullets when you go hunting so you are sure not to kill anything."

"Dusty, now you are going too far. Way too far."

Then Augusta remembered that he needed to process her criticisms so he took the leash that Dusty was holding in her hand and hooked it on to Dirty Hairy and they left in a flash, with Dirty Hairy leading the way down the road.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Softy Returns?

Eliza slept much later than usual. Having spent much of the night thinking about Softy cut in on her sleep, so that when she finally did fell asleep it was hard to wake up.

As well, she didn't want to face Alfred that morning, who'd be groaning about his hangover and about how we should just kill all the people in the world who weren't white and Christians. He wasn't a very nice man.

When she did awake, she listened carefully to see if Alfred had left the house before she opened her eyes. One advantage of living with a loud husband is that you always know when he's around, she thought.

She did not hear him, so she took a quick shower and put on some slightly enticing clothes for Softy. She contemplated packing but then decided that would be a little premature. And if Alfred should find the suitcase she'd be raked over the coals, or at least locked in a closet again.

After the shower and getting dressed she had a little breakfast. She didn't want to eat too much because her jeans were already so tight, and besides, this was as good of a time as any to start getting ready for a swimsuit.

Then she turned on the television to pass the time until Softy came. The first program was about people who loved animals more than humans, and the next was about women who left their abusive husbands. This was "close to home," she thought.

As she became more and more immersed in the stories of what these women endured, she momentarily forgot about Softy, only to be jolted out of TV land by a couple of sweet and non-threatening knocks on her door. Eliza quickly made sure her hair looked good and that her almost see through blouse was tucked in to her jeans. Then she ran to door following her racing heart. Was this Softy at the door? Was this her opportunity to have the kind of life she had dreamed of?