Author: Aaron Blaylock

The Flash: Movie Review

Let me just start by saying this is easily my favorite DCEU movie, and it’s not even close.

My son and I got to attend a sneak peek preview of The Flash last night in Scottsdale.  The theater was full and brimming with anticipation.  I, myself, curbed my enthusiasm because I’ve been let down by more than a few superhero movies of late, and DC movies in particular don’t have a great track record.

With that said, this film opens with a delightfully entertaining scene that sets the tone for the majority of the film, which was lighter and littered with laughs among the collateral damage on all sides.

Though there were plenty of laughs, The Flash was not without an emotional core that actually paid off in the end, more on that in a moment.

Let me start with what I liked, and what I loved (spoiler free), before I get to what I could have done without and what I really did not like.  I’ll include a bonus “things I loved” in the spoiler section at the very end, for those who care to read it.

What I liked.  Overall, The Flash had good action, a strong narrative, and fun character interplay throughout.  I liked Ezra Miller, in his less spastic moments, as Barry Allen and his obtuse approach to the conflict was entertaining.  I liked that the cameos did not take me out of the story, they pulled me further in.  I liked that this movie gave me something to look forward to right until the very end.

I LOVED every single scene Michael Keaton was in and to see Batman being Batman all over the screen.  Michael Keaton has long been one of my favorites and he stepped back into the role like he’d never been away.  I really loved that this movie brought you through all the superhero and science fiction magic to the heart of the story, a parent child love that endures.  Oh, and I loved that we got a new Kryptonian booty kicker who was not just a sub for Superman but a character with their own unique story arc.

What I could have done without.  The pacing was kind of uneven, it starts off with a bang and immediately wanes, to the point where my teenage son started to check out.  They tried to introduce Iris West, who did nothing for the story and played no role in the plot, other than a super contrived “realization” for Barry from something innocuous she said.  Didn’t need it, didn’t want it.  No offense to Kiersey Clemons, who did a fine job, but in a movie that was already two and a half hours we did not need an underdeveloped subplot about a college crush.

I did not like that we had another time travel/multiverse mashup extravaganza with a quasi-villain whose origin was tried so closely to the protagonist that they were almost literally doing battle with themselves.  You’ve seen shades of this movie before, if not full-on repeats of tropes that are from the not-so-distant movie past.  I will give them credit for doing it well and putting their own spin on it, but I feel like if I have one more explanation of time travel and the perils of navigating it I should be awarded an honorary doctorate in Time Travelology.  I will say one more thing on this topic, to their credit, in the spoiler section below.

Overall, if you like this genre, if you like DC comics or DC films, The Flash is worth the watch.  If you are fatigued of superhero movies this will do little to rejuvenate your love for them.  Is this a good watch?  I’d say yes, mostly.  Is it my favorite DCEU film?  If we are disqualifying the Chris Nolan films, then yes.  Should you carve out a hundred and fifty minutes and plunk down your hard-earned cash on The Flash?  It depends.  I’m glad I watched it and I will probably see it again, which is more than I can say for just about every other superhero film to come out in the last three or four years.


Still reading?  Okay, I’m going to say some stuff about the film.  Stuff that’s not in the trailer.  Stuff that the nerd blogs have probably leaked after Cinecon but I didn’t read them, so it was a surprise to me and I liked it. 

Spoilers ahead.  Spoilers coming, right now.  Spoilers.

Three things that I really loved that The Flash did.  First, the moment at the end where Barry says goodbye to his mother was so so good.  They walked you right into it and the payoff was beautiful.  I teared up a little and was not alone.

Second, Nicolas Kal-El Freaking Cage!  I don’t know how many people in the movie theater fully appreciated what DC did with that cameo.  They literally built a scene from a scrapped Superman project in the late 90’s.  One that was so fascinating that super-sweaty super fan/filmmaker Jon Schnepp made a documentary about it, The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? 

That moment was so sweet as I thought of our dearly departed friend Jon, and his love comics and movies and these characters.  Seriously, for those of you confused about why a long-haired Nic Cage was dressed as Superman, do some research.  You won’t be disappointed.

Nicolas Cage Con Air GIF - Nicolas Cage Nicolas Con Air - Discover & Share  GIFs

Last but not least, DC finally stopped playing the role of little cinematic brother to Marvel and reminded everyone that they’ve been doing this television and movie making thing for a long long time.  During the climatic conclusion of the time traveling/multiverse storyline they emptied the bench, in terms of cameos, brief and virtual as they may be.  DC said, ‘Oh Marvel, you built up a crossover that was ten years in the making.  That’s cute.  How about you suck on half a century?’  Even in CGI it was a treat to see Chris Reeves again, and standing next to Helen Slater?  Yes please.  They even threw in George Reeves and we got multiple Batmen in this piece, including a tasty reprise from George Clooney as Bruce Wayne. 

DC lost ground quickly to Marvel in terms of their cinematic universe and it’s about time they came swinging back.  I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what comes next.

The Best Thing Since

Woodruff and Bob weaved through the empty tables and sat down at a booth on the far end of the room.

“Unlockables,” Bob said.

“I’m listening,” Woodruff replied.

“Locks that unlock as you near them,” Bob said.  “Your car, your house, your mailbox.  You walk up and ‘click’ it unlocks.”

“How will the locks know it’s you?” Woodruff asked.

“An app on your phone?”

“What if somebody else has your phone?”

“A chip in your hand then.”

“Too New World Ordery.”

“Voice command, like Alexus.”

“Too big brother.”

Bob grimaced, as a tall perky blonde strode up to their booth.

“Welcome to Foodsters,” the server greeted.  “My name is Bruce and I’ll be your foodineer today.”

“Hello, Bruce,” Bob said.  “What are your feelings on an app that unlocks all your locks?”

“What if somebody steals your phone?” Bruce asked.

Woodruff silently gestured in agreement with the lanky waiter.

“Fine,” Bob muttered.

“What can I get for you fine foodventurers today?” Bruce asked.

“I’ll take the special,” Woodruff said.

“Did I already tell you about today’s special?” Bruce asked.

“Nope, just rolling the dice,” Woodruff replied.  “I trust you, Bruce.  Bring me something foodtastic.”

“You bet your fooding life on it,” Bruce said.  “And for you?”

“I’ll roll the dice too,” Bob said.  “Can I also get a water, with lemon.”

“Sure thing,” Bruce said.  He finished a quick scribble on his notepad, spun on his heels, and returned to the kitchen through the swinging metal door.

“What about Snapbacks?” Woodruff said.  “Elastic that doesn’t get all stretched out?”

“If that code could be cracked somebody would have done it already,” Bob said.  “How about muffartlers?  Underpants that muffle your farts.”

“It’d have to be thick.”


“What if they could absorb accidental tinkles too.”

“It happened one time!”

Bruce emerged through the swinging kitchen door with two glasses on a platter.

“Your waters, gentlemen,” Bruce said, and placed two clear glasses of ice water in front of them.

“Thank you very much Bruce,” Woodruff said.  “Take it easy, Bob.  You aren’t wearing your tinkle guard.”

Bob glowered at Woodruff, as he sank the lemon down through the ice cubes.

“My pleasure, gentlemen,” Bruce replied, with a bow.  “Your specials will be up in just a few minutes.”

Bruce turned again and departed.

Woodruff sipped his water and Bob thoughtfully looked out through the window at the pedestrians passing by outside.

“You know when you think somebody is talking to you and it turns out they just have one of those Bluetooth ear pieces?” Bob asked.

“Yeah,” Woodruff said.

 “What about an earpiece with LED lights that spin around on the top of their head like an emergency vehicle when they’re on the phone,” Bob said.

“That might be distracting,” Woodruff said.  “Plus, it kinda defeats the purpose of the inconspicuous device.”

“Okay, what about a service that delivers food to your house?”

“Like pizza and Chinese food?”

“Yeah, but like all kinds of food.”

“They already have that.  Grubhub, Door Dash, Uber Eats.”

“We truly live in an age of wonders,” Bob said.

“Indeed,” Woodruff agreed.

They both took sips from their glasses.

“How did we get started on this?” Bob asked.

“I wrote on my bucket list to discover something that would replace the expression ‘the best thing since sliced bread,” Woodruff replied.

“Right,” Bob said.  “How about a pot that boils water BECAUSE you watch it?”

“Did you just come up with that because of the expression ‘a watched pot never boils’?”

“I did.”

“You’re better than that.”

“I know.”

Bob hung his head and Woodruff took another drink.  A clang of dishes in the kitchen drew their attention for a moment, before the dining area fell silent again.

“Burn Cake,” Bob proclaimed.  “A cake that burns calories as you eat it.”

“Um, I’m pretty sure you’re talking about magic,” Woodruff replied.  “What about kineticar?”

“Kineticar?” Bob asked.

“Yeah, a car that runs on kinetic energy,” Woodruff said.  “Someone gives you a push and away you go.”

“What about people with no friends?”

“Good point.”

“A 12-hour work week,” Bob said.  “That’s got to beat sliced bread.”

“Why twelve hours, why not ten or twenty?” Woodruff asked.

“That’s about all people really work anyway,” Bob replied.  “The rest is just small talk, scrolling newsfeeds, filling up at the coffee pot or water cooler, and emptying out in the bathroom.”


“Bonus, with a 12-hour work week people could spend the rest of their time serving, learning, improving their community, and spreading peace and joy to the world.”

“Most people would just spend it watching Netflix or Disney+.”


The kitchen door swung open and Bruce shuffled to the table, with a full platter on his shoulder.  He set down two steaming plates of shaved meat, one in front of each of them.

“Here you are,” Bruce said.  “Today’s special, meat plate.”

“The special is called meat plate?” Woodruff asked.

“Yes, it’s a plate of meat,” Bruce replied.  “We shave down all the leftover meat from last week and heat it on the griddle.  Meat plate.”

“Our compliments to the chef,” Bob said, scooping up a pile of meat with his fork.

“Let me know if I can do you for anything else,” Bruce said, before spinning and departing again.

Woodruff stabbed a sliver of pork with his fork and chewed thoughtfully, while Bob continued his scooping technique on the varied meats heaped on his plate.

“A gameshow where politicians are voted off weekly, by text or by phone?” Woodruff said.

“Nah, nobody wants reality TV stars in Washington,” Bob replied, with a slab of beef hanging from his mouth.  “What about waterproof paper?”

“Wouldn’t it also be ink proof?” Woodruff asked.

Bob grimaced and continued chewing up his mouthful of meat.  Woodruff skewered a piece of ham, beef, pork, and chicken shavings, like a makeshift kabob, and swallowed it whole.

“Sugar Depot,” Bob proclaimed.

“Sugar Depot?”

“You know when you go to bake a cake, or something, and you realize you don’t have any sugar?”

“Uh huh.”

“Well we’d place little cabinets with sugar near every home so people can pop out real quick a get some sugar.”

“You mean like a neighbor?”

Bob pursed his lips and scrunched his forehead.  Then, all at once, his eyebrows raised and he looked back across the table with a knowing smile.  Woodruff sat up and leaned forward expectantly.

“Egg Depot,” Bob said.  “Same problem, only we put one right in your yard.”

“That’s just a chicken coup,” Woodruff said.

“Okay, you know how you can never eat just one potato chip?”


“Well we sell a single chip, so you only get one.  Problem solved.”


“Self-trimming fingernails.”

“Again, magic.”

“No Waiting,” Bob said.  “Like Disneyland Fast Pass, but for your life.”

Woodruff simply shook his head.

“Self-destructing junk mail,” Bob said.  “Like Mission Impossible.  You can just set it aside and it will self-destruct in seconds.”

“Sure, that would be super cool,” Woodruff said.  “Be a touch impractical.”

“Nightstand urinals.”


“Hear me out.”

“No, Bob.”

“You just settled into bed,” Bob continued, ignoring Woodruff’s protest.  “You’re nice and cozy and, uh oh, you have to pee.  Nobody wants to climb out of a comfy bed.”

“Bob, please.”

“You can just slide open the drawer of your nightstand and inside is a porcelain lined…”


“Nightstand urinal,” Bob whispered.


“For your peepee.”



Bob folded his arms and pouted.  Bruce returned with a padded black billfold.

“Here you are, gentlemen,” Bruce said.  “I can take that whenever you’re ready.  No rush.  Feel free to continue your foodventure.”

“I think I’ve lost my appetite,” Woodruff said.

“Me too,” Bob sulked.

“Oh no, I’m sorry,” Bruce said.  “Was something wrong with your meal?”

“No, it’s not the food,” Woodruff said.  “Meat plate is amazing.”

“It’s the best thing since…” Bob paused.  “Since…”

“The best thing since…,” Woodruff began.  “Ya know, I can’t think of a foodvention better than meat plate.”

“Me neither,” Bob said.

“I’ll slice my own bread, thank you very much,” Bruce said.  “Just give me a big ol’ plate of meat.”

“I’ll second that,” said Woodruff.

“Hear hear,” Bob agreed, raising his glass of ice water.  “To meat plate.”

“To meat plate,” Woodruff and Bruce replied in unison.

In Hot Water

Bob crawled, with his belly to the ground, and drug his legs through the tall wild grass.  He reached Woodruff’s position on the backside of a long berm.  Sliding in beside his friend, Bob peeked over the grassy berm.  The moonlight shone down on a quartet of strangers loading cages into the back of a tiny pickup truck.  Woodruff sank back down and rolled onto his back, out of sight of the men on the other side of the berm.

“Jose was right,” Woodruff whispered.

Bob dipped back beneath the cover of the berm and looked over at Woodruff was a quizzical expression on his face.

“I don’t see any eggs,” Bob said.


“Yeah, eggs.”

Woodruff rolled up onto his side and stared back at Bob, awaiting an explanation.

“Well what else do you poach?” Bob asked.

Woodruff sat up fully, with his mouth agape, and considered the statement.

“Jose said there were poachers,” Bob said.  “He said they were good at what they do, and really hard to find.”

“Are you telling me that you think we trekked out into the middle of the jungle in the dead of night to eat poached eggs?” Woodruff asked.

“Well maybe not eat poached eggs, but at least see how they do it,” Bob asked.

“Bob, poachers illegally hunt and capture wildlife,” Woodruff said.  “Those men are trying to take animals from a preserve that is dedicated to protecting them.”

“That’s awful.  We should stop them.”

“That’s why we’re here.”

“That makes way more sense,” Bob said.  “I was thinking you and Jose were being way too serious about your eggs.”

“What did you think all this equipment was for?” Woodruff asked, shaking his backpack.

“I thought we might have to rig up a monkey bridge, for after.”

“Why would we need to build a monkey bridge after eating poached eggs?”

“So we weren’t walking on eggshells.”

Woodruff rolled his eyes and turned back to the criminals on the other side of the berm.

“Okay, they are almost finished loading the cages,” Woodruff said.  “We have to be quick.”

Bob peeked over the grassy barrier and surveyed the situation.  The sputtering engine was the only sound in the calm of the dark night.  A small plume of gray smoke wafted out of the exhaust pipe and turned to vapor near the top of the cages.

With a determined look on his face, Bob turned back to Woodruff and signaled with two fingers to his eyes and back to Woodruff’s.  Then he made a series of hand gestures, pointing, striking, waving, twirling, chopping, and finger walking across an invisible plain.

“What are you doing?” Woodruff asked.

“Tactical strike plan,” Bob replied.

“Why are you flailing your fingers around?” Woodruff asked.

“So I don’t make any noise,” Bob said.

“But we’ve been talking for the last five minutes,” Woodruff said.

“Not about tactical plans,” Bob replied.

Woodruff shook his head.

“Just tell me what the plan is.”

“Fine,” Bob said.  “I’m going to climb up the tree over there and tie a rope to that large branch.  You sneak around to the side of the truck and wait for my signal.  At the signal I’m going to swing down from the tree and knock the big guy off his feet.  You take out the other three and we’ll free all the animals in those cages.”

“So, in your plan, you are going to surprise attack one guy and I’m supposed to subdue three?” Woodruff asked.

“You can surprise them too if you like,” Bob said.

Woodruff pursed his lips and shook his head.

“What else you got?”

“Well, I could climb up into that big tree and tie a rope around the big branch, then you could jump out and distract them while I swing down and take them all out.”

“You really want to swing down from that tree, don’t you?”

“I really do.”

Woodruff looked over at the men standing at the back of the truck and then up at the large tree.  He pulled the rope from his backpack and held it out to Bob.

“Okay, fine,” Woodruff began.  “Climb up in that tree and tie the rope around the big branch.  When I’m in position, you holler like Tarzan.  When they all look up at you, I’ll jump in the truck.  You swing down from the tree into the back of the truck and we’ll drive those animals out of here.”

“The old Tarzan, tree, truck, trick,” Bob said.  “I like it.”

Bob took the rope and threw it over his shoulder.  With a wink, he rose to his knees and rapidly crawled down the berm toward the tree.  Woodruff snuck around by the front of the truck as the men finished fastening the cages to the bed of the truck with large straps.  From over the top of the rattling hood, Woodruff saw Bob stand up tall on top of the large tree branch.  He held a rope in one hand and puffed up his chest.

“AAAAAaAaAaAAAaAaAA!” Bob bellowed.

The startled men near the back of the truck spun around and looked up into the tree.  Quickly, Woodruff ran to the driver’s side door, pulled it open and slipped behind the wheel.  From the sideview mirror, he saw Bob fall from the tree and strike the ground hard, holding fast to the rope with both hands.

Without hesitation, the poachers hurried to the spot to help the fallen.  They lifted the would-be ape man to his feet.  Bob shook his head from side to side and stood for a moment on unsteady legs while the men backed away.  All of a sudden, Bob spun around and pointed wildly back into the trees.

“Look over there!” Bob yelled.

Woodruff watched Bob rapidly approaching through the mirrored reflection above the words ‘Los objetos pueden estar más cerca de lo que parecen’ inscribed in the glass.

“Come on!” Woodruff shouted, putting the truck into gear.

By the time the men turned back from searching the empty trees, Bob had pulled open the side door and jumped inside.  Woodruff jammed on the gas and they sped away from the pursuing poachers.

“Ha ha!” Bob cried.  “We did it!”

“Are you okay?”

“Never better.”

“Your chin is bleeding.”

Bob reached up and touched the red liquid oozing from his chin.

“Yeah, I hit the ground pretty hard.”

“What happened?” Woodruff asked.

“There was more rope than I thought,” Bob said.  “Or less tree, depending on how you look at it.”

A sack on the seat between them began to move and wiggle.  Woodruff took his eyes off the bumpy backroad for a moment, as Bob took up the sack.  He loosened the twine tied around the top and pulled it open.  A tiny fuzzy head poked out of the burlap.  Bob pulled back the bag to reveal a spotted jaguar cub with golden eyes.

“Would you look at that,” Woodruff said.  “A little jaguar.”

Bob held up the cub and stared into its little face.

“Hey Woodruff,” Bob said.  “We let the cat out of the bag.”

“Good one.”

“Can we keep her?”

“No, we can’t keep her,” Woodruff replied.  “How do you know it’s a her?”

“She’s got long eyelashes,” Bob said.

Woodruff shrugged his shoulders.

“We’ve got to return her to the rangers along with the rest of the wildlife.”

“Can we at least name her?”


“I’ll call her Aesop.”

“Aesop it is.”

A pungent aroma wafted up from the floorboards.  Woodruff pulled the collar of his shirt over his nose and Bob plugged his nose and Aesop’s with his fingers.

“Ew, what is that?” Bob asked.

“Check under the seat,” Woodruff said, as he rolled down the window, gasping for fresh air.

Bob pulled a soggy paper sack from under the seat and opened it.  Inside were a half dozen moist eggs.

“I knew it!” Bob said.

Back to the Drawing Board

Red and blue lights cycled in and out, changing the lighting of the darkened room with every turn.  A large, stern-faced man with a bush mustache stood next to a short woman with her hair pulled back in a ponytail.  The red and blue lights danced across the notepad of the stern-faced man. 

“How many times we been here, O’Hare?” the stern-faced man said.

“Too many times,” O’Hare replied, pulling on blue rubber gloves and gently adjusting her long blonde ponytail.

“What’s your take?” the stern-faced man asked.  He clicked on the cap on his pen and prepared to take notes.

“Two Caucasian males, mid-to-late 30’s,” O’Hare studied the bodies that lay within the white chalk outlines on the linoleum floor.  “No signs of forced entry.  No signs of struggle.  Wounds indicate close proximity, meaning they probably knew each other.  Looks like the taller male struck first and his husky friend got in a retaliatory blow before they both succumb to their wounds.”

“Motive?” he asked.

“Who knows,” O’Hare replied.  “Crime of passion, crime of convenience, crime of curiosity, crime of wheat.  This is a twisted world.  Nobody knows that better than we do.”

O’Hare and her stern-faced partner knelt down next to the bodies.  With her blue rubber gloves, she reached into the front pocket of the victim’s cargo shorts and pulled out his wallet.

“Cut!” the director yelled from the corner of the room.  A bell rang overhead and there was a collective groan from the cast and crew.  Woodruff and Bob sat up from the chalk outlines around their bodies.

“Did we get the shot?” Woodruff asked.

“No,” the director replied.  “Your friend was smiling, again.”

“Those gloves tickle,” Bob said.

“Bob, you can’t smile,” Woodruff said.  “We’re supposed to be dead.”

“I know, but it tickled,” Bob replied.  “I think she’s doing it on purpose.”

“I’m not tickling you,” the indignant actor replied.

“Well then you’re just naturally tickly then,” Bob argued.

“Steve, this is ridiculous,” she pled to the director.

“It’s not my call,” the director replied.

“He’s right,” Woodruff said.  “Judge Goodman sentenced us to community service here on the lot.”

“Turns out if you kick in a door dressed as superheroes, grab hold of a woman, jump out a window, and run from security, it’s a crime,” Bob added.

“Who knew?”

“Who knew.”

“I won’t work with a couple of amateurs,” the actor replied.

“Katee, please,” Steve said.

“No, either they go, or I go.”

“Well, we are here at the mandate of the courts,” Woodruff began, with an awkward pause.  “So, if one of us are leaving, it’s probably gonna be you.”

“It’s been a pleasure working with you,” Bob said.  “I’m a big fan.”

The actor threw her head back, rolled her eyes, and stormed off in a huff.

“Katee, come on,” Steve pled.  The door slammed shut behind her.

“Steve, if I may, I’ve got a few notes,” Woodruff said.  “The script says two Caucasian males, well I’m of European descent for sure, but Bob here is 1/32nd Cherokee and 2/92nd Choctaw.”

“My baby, she’s a Chippewa,” Bob added.

“She’s a one of a kind,” Woodruff said.  “So, I don’t know that your description gives full sway to the nuanced background of the bodies we’re portraying.”

The director stood with his back to Woodruff and Bob, still facing the recently slammed door.

“Also,” Woodruff continued.  “No one’s gonna believe that these sweet shrines to humanity are in their mid-to-late 30’s.”

“And while we’re on the subject,” Bob said.  “Which one of us is the tall one and which one is the husky one?”

“Bob, I mean, clearly I’m the tall one,” Woodruff said.

“So that makes me the husky one?”


“How dare you, sir!”

“Enough!” Steve shouted.  He turned around to face Woodruff and Bob.  “You two have completely ruined this entire shoot.”

“I think the descriptive inaccuracies of our physical traits were already doing that,” Bob said.

“Not too mention the casting,” Woodruff said.  “I mean Office Angry Brow over here would be more convincing as a disgruntled bus driver than a detective.”

“I want you two out,” Steve said.

“Knocked out or passed out,” Woodruff said.  “Because I was thinking if we just fell down on the floor and then you chalked our outline it would look more natural than trying to contort our bodies in a pre-drawn form.”

“Especially a husky pre-drawn form,” Bob said.  “Which is clearly too big for my non-husky form.”

“Get out!” the director ordered.

“But the court,” Woodruff said.  He pulled the court order from his pocket and held it up in front of the director.  “We’ve got to return this to the judge with your signature after we’ve completed a hundred hours.  It’s only been four.”

“Give me that,” Steve grabbed the paper from his hand.  “Pen!”

An intern ran over from the craft services table and handed the director a pen.  Steve took Bob by the arm and turned him around.  He placed the court order on Bob’s back and signed it.

“There,” Steve said, handing the paper back to Woodruff.  “You’re all done.  Now leave this set, immediately.”

“Thanks, Steve,” Bob said.  “You’re all right.”

“Do you want the rest of our notes before we go?” Woodruff asked.  “I’ve got some thoughts on our backstories that could really spice things up.”

“Security!” Steve called.

Two muscular men in black t-shirts stepped out from behind a façade.

“See that these two are thrown off the lot and banned for life,” Steve said.

The burly security duo nodded and took Woodruff and Bob by the arms.

“Benny, Leon,” Woodruff greeted them.  “How are the kids?”

“They’re good,” Leon said.  “Molly just made first chair in orchestra.”

“Greg took fourth at state,” Benny said.

“That’s terrific,” Bob said.  “Top five.”

Benny and Leon escorted Woodruff and Bob to the main gate.

“Sorry about this,” Benny said.  “But you guys are banned from the premises.”

“No worries,” Woodruff said.  “We’ve got what we came for.”

“We’ll see you guys at canasta on Friday?” Bob asked.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Leon said.

Leon pushed Woodruff and Bob out onto the street and Benny closed the gate.

“Great guys,” Bob said.

“The best,” Woodruff agreed.

“Should we go drop that off with the judge?”

“We should probably at least wait until its been a hundred hours.”

“Good point,” Bob said.  “I don’t know why judges keep giving us community service.  It always ends the same way.”

“It’s a mystery,” Woodruff said.  “You hungry?”

“I could eat.”

“What sounds good?”

“I don’t know why, but I’m craving cream of wheat.”

“Me too!”

Unreasonable Exposure

“This suit is so hot,” Bob said.  “I feel like it’s trying to suffocate me.”

“I told you to go with the spandex,” Woodruff said.

“So I can be on display for all the world to see?” Bob asked.  “No thank you.”

“I feel light, like a hummingbird,” Woodruff replied.

“You look like a Ken doll dipped in green apple nail polish.”

“You’re just jealous that my suit doesn’t impede my movements.”

“It doesn’t impede the outline of your underpants either,” Bob said.  “And could you have picked brighter colors?”

“It’s so the bad guys see me coming,” Woodruff said.  “I strike fear in the heart of crime.”

“You strike fear in the retina of crime,” Bob said.  “Is that what the R stands for, Retina man?”

“You know this stands for Reason Man,” Woodruff said, and tapped the green letter on his chest.  “A ne’er-do-well’s worst fear is reason.”

“You picked the lamest superpower ever.”

“Uh, you can’t defeat reason.”

“Of course you can,” Bob said.  “Ignorance, opinion, delusion, disbelief, misinformation…”

“Fine,” Woodruff said.  “But the most interesting superheroes are the ones with vulnerabilities.”

“Then whey didn’t you be Vulnerability Man?” Bob asked.

“Because reason is the cure for chaos,” Woodruff said.

“Are you trying out catchphrases?”

“Well, I was going to use the striking fear in the heart of crime one, but then you made for of it.”

“I’m sorry,” Bob said.  “I’m just grumpy because of this stupid hot suit.  I had to fast for like three days just to fit into it.”

“That’s super unhealthy.”

“I’m so dehydrated it’s not even flonny…fonny…funny.”

Bob stopped and swayed on the spot, as they neared the end of the alley.

“We’ve got to get you some water,” Woodruff said.

“No can do,” Bob replied.  “One drop and I’ll expanded like a Magic Grow capsule.  You’ll have to cut me out of this suit with a paring knife.  I’m fline…fine.”

“How do you expect to help the helpless when you’re in need of medical attention?”

“Whenever the call, no matter the peril, you can always count on Xposure.”

Bob placed his hands on his hips and looked thoughtful up at the fire escape beside them.

“You went with Exposure, huh?”




“That’s what I said, Exposure.”

“No, X-posure.”

Bob crossed his forearms over his chest.

“Fine,” Woodruff said, crossing his forearms over his chest.  “Ex…posure.”

“Now you’ve got it.”

“And your superpower is a good tan?”

“My skin can soak up the rays from the sun, like Superman, and change color like a chameleon.”

“That’s just tanning, you should be Tan Man.”

“Um, my powers come from ultraviolet radiation,” Bob said.  “What do your powers come from, education?”

“Education is more powerful than a good tan!”

“Tell that to George Hamilton!”

“Now I know why Batman works alone,” Woodruff muttered.

“Yeah,” Bob said.  “Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, totally alone.”

“An orphan, a butler, and a snitch.”

“How dare you?!”

“I’m sorry, Bob…”


“Exposure,” Woodruff corrected.  “We didn’t get all dressed up to fight each other.  Let’s remember why we’re here.”

“You’re right,” Bob said.  “It’s just so hard.  We’ve been walking around for like ten minutes and there’s no crime anywhere.”



“Well the sun is going down so crime is bound to go up.”

“You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”

“No, really,” Woodruff said.  “Statistically speaking, you’re much more likely to be a victim of a crime at night.”

“Here’s hoping,” Bob said, as he adjusted his leather eye-mask.

“Help!” a woman’s cry echoed through the cavernous cityscape.

“Did you hear that?” Woodruff asked.

“It’s go time,” Bob replied.

“Which way?”

“Follow me.”

Bob struggled against his leathery confines as he sprinted up the street.  Woodruff jogged along beside his partner with the swishing sound of spandex joining in concert with the crinkling crunching rawhide.  Suddenly, Bob stopped and turned his ear to the sky.

“Help, please help!” the woman’s voice echoed again.

“This way!” Woodruff said.

“No, this way!” Bob turned and ran back the way they had come.  Woodruff jump and whirled around a mailbox and sprinted up the sidewalk.

“Groovy outfit, dude,” a long-haired man walking his shih tzu said.

“Thank you, citizen,” Woodruff replied in a deepened false voice.

“What was that?” Bob asked.

“That was my hero voice.”

“You sound like Robert Barone.”

“From Everybody Loves Raymond?”


“I’ll take it!”

The duo rounded the corner and stopped in the middle of the street.

“Help!” the voice cried again.

“There!” Woodruff said, pointed to a third story window.

Black smoke billowed out the window and up into the air.  A blonde woman wearing a bright red dress leaned out the smoky window and waved her arms frantically.

“What do we do?” Bob asked.

“Call 9-1-1,” Woodruff said.

“But we’re superheroes,” Bob replied.

“My superpower is reason,” Woodruff said.  “Since neither of us is fireproof, the reasonable thing to do is call 9-1-1.”

“You should be called Coward Man.”

“Coward Man’s superpower would be longevity.”

“Are you with me or not?”

“You know I am.”

Bob dashed down the back alley behind the building with smoky window.  The backdoor was prompted open by an old milk crate and Woodruff and Bob burst inside.  After a quick scan, Bob headed down a narrow hallway and bounded up the stairs.  The woman’s muffled plea for help could be heard coming from the floors above.  Bob paused at the landing to catch his breath.

“This super suit is making it hard to breathe,” Bob said.

“Are you sure it’s the suit?” Woodruff asked.  “I saw you get winded taking the trash out last week.”

“It’s a long driveway and that barrel was heavy.”

“It had wheels.”

“My new workout regimen starts Monday.”

“You said that last Monday.”

“And it did,” Bob said.  “But this is a new new workout regimen.”

“As far as I could tell the old new workout regimen was just you pacing back and forth in front of the freezer until you gave in and ate a box of ice cream sandwiches,” Woodruff replied.

“It’s called intermittent fasting,” Bob said.  “You deprive yourself of calories, intermittently, and then eat them all real fast.”

Woodruff just shook his head.

They ascended two flights of stairs without stopping and pulled open the door to the hallway.

“This way,” Bob said, racing down the hall.

“Where’s all the smoke?” Woodruff wondered aloud.

The woman yelled again and Bob backtracked to the door he had just passed.

“X-plosion!” Bob shouted, and he kicked open the door.  A beautiful blonde, surrounded by black smoke, turned around with a startled look on her face.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Reason Man and Exposure,” Woodruff declared, in a deepened false voice, as he placed his hands on his hips.


“That’s what I said.”

“What do you think you’re doing?” the woman asked.

“We’re here to rescue you,” Bob replied.

“Rescue me?” the woman said, scrunching up her forehead.

Woodruff and Bob ran to where the woman stood and peered out the window, through the smoke.  Blue and red lights flashed from the street below and a bright white spotlight shone up at them.

“The fire department is here,” Woodruff said.

“And they’ve got a trampoline,” Bob said.

“I think that’s called a jump net.”

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“No Bob, no I’m not.”

“Come on, Reason Man, you only live once.”

“We should just take the stairs,” Woodruff said.  “The path is clear and there’s not even any smoke in the hallway.”

“You shouldn’t be here,” the woman said.

“She’s delirious from all this smoke,” Bob said.  “There’s no time for stairs.”

Bob took the woman in his arms and stepped up onto the window sill.  He took a moment to judge the distance, while Woodruff squeeze himself onto the ledge with them.

“On three,” Woodruff said.

“What are you two doing?” the woman questioned.

“One, two,” Bob counted.

“Don’t you dare!” the woman shouted.

“Three!” Woodruff and Bob yelled in unison.

They jumped from the window, screaming, and the three of them plummeted down the waiting firemen below.  They bounced off the jump sheet and landed on the feet, still clinging to one another.

“Cut!” an irritated man with a goatee shouted.  “Who are these two?”

Beyond the firetrucks and flashing lights, a camera crew was perched on a lift that overlooked the street.

Woodruff looked back up at the window from where they had leapt, and the black smoke suddenly stopped as if it had been turned off.  All eyes down on the street were on them and nobody moved.

“We’re Xposure and Reason Man,” Bob said.

“You ruined our shot,” the irritated goatee man said.

“What shot?” Bob asked.

“I think they’re filming a movie,” Woodruff said.

“Really?” Bob asked.  “Wow.  We’ve only been superheroes for like fifteen minutes and we’ve already got a movie.  Take that Adam Warlock!”

“Get these two off my set,” the irritated man demanded.

Immediately a quartet of muscly security guards emerged from the crowd and made their way toward them.

“Time to go,” Woodruff said.

“Remember, m’lady, whenever the call, no matter the peril, you can always count on…”

Woodruff grabbed Bob by his leathery collar and pulled him away from the blonde woman in the red dress.  They dashed down the nearest alley with the security guards in pursuit.

“You know what we need?” Woodruff asked, as he looked behind at the advancing guards.

“A Reasonmobile?” Bob replied, huffing and puffing.

“Theme music.”

“Oh yeah!”

They both jumped in the air and fist pumped the sky.

Uno es el Numero mas Solitango

“Cinco empanadas, por favor,” Woodruff said.  He reached for the first meat pastry.  “How many do you want?”

He turned around to see only unfamiliar faces, of friends yet to be made, filling the marketplace.

“Bob?” he turned his raised eyebrow away from the sea of swarthy consumers and back to the business at hand.  The street vendor placed four additional empanadas in a brown paper sack and handed it over the pushcart.

“Gracias,” Woodruff said.  He exchanged several bills for the greasy paper sack.

Woodruff weaved through the crowded alleyway, munching on his flaky meat pastry.  He looked up and down the cobblestone street as he reached the intersection.  Just before the bend, he spotted Bob strutting back and forth across the narrow roadway.  The music from the horns and drums of a lively quartet echoed off the two-story buildings that lined the street. 

After observing Bob saunter around for a moment, Woodruff popped the rest of the fried pastry in his mouth and made his way casually up the street.

“Hey Bob,” Woodruff said.  “Whatcha doing?”

“Dancing,” Bob replied.  His melancholy moves were out of step with the upbeat rhythm of the local musicians.  Both Woodruff and the band eyed the hoofer wearily.

“Uh huh,” Woodruff said.  “But why?”

“I’m working on a new dance.”

“I thought we came here to eat empanadas.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Okay, what’s wrong?”

“Nothings wrong,” Bob said, he shook his hips back and forth before taking long strides away from the band.

“I kinda think something might be wrong,” Woodruff said.

“Why do you say that?” Bob asked.  He crisscrossed his arms wrapping himself in a hug and spun around into more long strides back across the street.

“Well, for one thing, I have a greasy bag of fried meat pastries and you haven’t even looked at them,” Woodruff said.  “And for another, you are meandering around by yourself in the middle of the street.”

“I’m not meandering, I’m dancing,” Bob said.  “And I told you, I’m not hungry.”

“As long as I’ve known you that’s never been true,” Woodruff replied.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” he snapped his head, twirled, and slowly high-stepped back toward the band.

“You look like a flamingo,” Woodruff said.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Bob said, spinning back to Woodruff and crossing his steps overtop each other.  “Flamingos are beautiful and graceful.”

“This is painful to watch,” Woodruff replied.

“You know the saying, if it’s not painful it’s not dancing,” Bob said.  He sunk his hips, squatting low to the ground, and slid sideways.

“That’s not a saying,” Woodruff said.

“It is now,” Bob replied.

“I asked where you wanted to go for lunch, you said Buenos Aires” Woodruff said.  “So now we’re in Buenos Aires and you don’t want to eat?”

“What can I say,” Bob added two aggressive hip shakes.  “Gloria Estefan was right, the rhythm has gone and got me.”

The drummer rolled his eyes and Woodruff shook his head.  Onlooker wandered over from the marketplace and began to gather around the contorting and prancing foreigner.

“It doesn’t look like the rhythm’s got you, it looks like it’s trying to get away from you,” Woodruff said.

“If you’re worried about what it looks like, you haven’t surrendered to the music,” Bob said.  Another head snap and he spun again and strode around the crowd.

“I think we’re all ready to surrender, to the music or whatever it is you’re doing,” Woodruff said, holding his hands in the air.  “We surrender.”

“It’s all part of the process,” Bob said, with a twist and a lunge.  “To make an omelet you’ve got to break a few eggs.”

“Is that what you call this?” Woodruff asked.  “The omelet?  The broken egg?  Cause it’s a mess.”

“If you must know, I call it the solitango,” Bob said.  He stood up straight and looked back at Woodruff.  “It’s the seductive dance of the perpetually alone.”

The band stopped playing and turned to Woodruff as well.

“Perpetually alone?” Woodruff said.  “What are you talking ab…oh.  Of course.”

Bob hung his head.  The crowd awkwardly looked away and slowly began to disperse.  Woodruff walked over to the band.

“Por qué no se toman un descanso,” Woodruff said.  He handed over the bag of empanadas, and the bandleader happily dispersed them to his bandmates.

Woodruff walked over and put an arm around Bob.  “It’s Thursday.”

Bob nodded.

“And she didn’t write,” Woodruff said.

Bob shook his head.

“You can’t go into the dumper every time your pen pal doesn’t write you back,” Woodruff said.

“She’s not my pen pal, she’s my soulmate,” Bob said.  “And she did write me back.”

“What did she say?” Woodruff asked.

“She’s getting married,” Bob said.  He wiped at a tear forming on his cheek and sniffed.

“To Orlando?” Woodruff asked.

“Stupid stunningly perfect pirate elf,” Bob muttered.

“You knew this was a possibility,” Woodruff replied.  “It’s like Beyonce said, if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it.”

“She’s knows I’m a wild stallion,” Bob said.  “I can’t be housebroken.”

“I don’t think that’s what you meant,” Woodruff said.  “At least I hope it’s not.”

“Wild hearts can’t be housebroken!” Bob cried.

“Okay, alright buddy,” Woodruff said.  “You’re a wild heart.  You pee wherever you like.”

“Thank you,” Bob said.  He sniffed and wiped his nose.

The band members watched quietly from their stools, having finished their empanadas.

“So, the solitango, huh,” Woodruff said.

“Now it only takes uno to tango,” Bob said.

“You wanna show me how that goes again?” Woodruff asked.

Bob turned to the bandleader and nodded.  The drummer centered himself and the trumpeters raised their instruments.

“It’s all about confidence and passion,” Bob said.  “But like the kind of passion you have reading a good book all by yourself, and the kind of confidence it takes to go to the post office on your own for the first time.”

“Got it,” Woodruff said.  “I’m ready.”

“Cinco, Seis, Siete, Ocho,” Bob said, and clapped his hand over his head.  The band began to play in rhythmic harmony.  “Hands in the air, Woodruff.  Now sink your hips like they were just hit by an iceberg of loneliness.  That’s right, you’re the Titanic, but you’re going down dancing.  Now strut, left, two, three, right, two, three.”

“Like this?” Woodruff asked, crouching like a catcher with his hands in the air.

“Not bad, but you’ve got to feel it,” Bob said.  “That feeling when you check into a hotel and ask for a single twin bed or tell the hostess you’d like a table for one.  Feel it!”

“Like this?” Woodruff sank to his knees and hung his head to one side.

“That’s it!” Bob said.  “Now imagine you’re dancing for a room full of cats!”

Woodruff jumped to his feet and twirled around, before high stepping his way across the street.

“You got it!” Bob shouted.  “That’s the solitango!”

The band stopped playing and several onlookers began to clap from down by the marketplace.

Woodruff and Bob took a bow and gestured to the band.  They all gave a little wave to the audience.  The applause subsided and Bob sighed.

“You feel better?” Woodruff asked.

“I feel hungry,” Bob said.

“I knew it!” Woodruff yelled.

“Those empanadas looked delicious,” Bob replied.

Two young ladies sat by a doorway on the near side of the street.

“Buenos movimientos,” the girl with brown-eyes said.

“Me?” Bob asked.

She nodded and her friend giggled.

“Gracias,” Bob said.  “Would you like to get some empanadas?”

“Si,” she replied.

“Bueno,” Bob said.

The two young ladies joined their new foreign friends, as they walked down the cobblestone street toward the smell of fried meat pastries.  Behind them the band began to play, and everyone started dancing together, all by themselves.

Foot In Big Mouth

The wind hollered across the serenely calm lake as the moonlight glimmered off its rippling waters.

“Bob!” Woodruff called again.

When no answer came, Woodruff stepped down onto the sandy banks of the wooded island.  A pair of footprints trailed off the beach into the brush.  Kenny stood at the edge of the bridge and held a flashlight high overhead, to light the way.

“You don’t think he’s…” Kenny began.

“No, he’s alive,” Woodruff interrupted.

“I was going to say taking a nap,” Kenny replied.

Woodruff grimaced but did not look back.  He pushed aside the ferns that blocked his way.

“Bob, if you jump out and scare me, I’m drinking your milkshake.”

The only sounds were the chirping of crickets and a lone raspy bullfrog.

“It’s chocolate,” he added, to improve the severity of his warning.

“I don’t think he can hear you,” Kenny said.  “I hate to say it but he’s…”

“He’s fine, Kenny,” Woodruff interrupted.  “He’s fine.  He’s got to be.”

“I was going to say he’s a Scorpio,” Kenny replied.  “Passionate, independent, and not afraid to blaze his own trail, no matter what others think.”

Woodruff turned and laid a narrow-eyed scowl on the old vagabond.  Kenny sheepishly rubbed the scruff on his chin and held the light a little higher, in a vain attempt to seem helpful.

“Stay here,” Woodruff said.  “If I’m not back by sunrise, go get help.”

Kenny nodded and gave him a thumbs up.  Woodruff stepped beyond the tree line and stood still for a moment, until his eyes adjusted.

Of all the times Bob had vanished, the trombone festival, the Myrtle Sklesko incident, the three-day blackout in the Pyrenees, this was the most worrisome.  A number of possibilities troubled Woodruff’s mind.  Had a lake merman worked Bob over for hitting on his lady of the lake?  Had a tribe of pygmy warriors carried him off to be sacrificed to a vengeful god?  Again.  Did he find Bigfoot on a day when the beast was suffering an intense migraine brought on by a 72-hour YouTube binge and mild dehydration?

The sound of grunts and groans coming from deeper into the woods broke Woodruff from his worry spiral.  He inched forward, cautiously, toward the sounds.

“Bob?” he whispered.

Through the thick forest foliage, Woodruff could see strands of orange light casting a warm glow into the dark woods.  He crept forward listening to the soft groaning.

“Bob,” he whisper-yelled as he drew closer.

The groans stopped and Woodruff reached out to part the curtain of leaves in his path.  Behind the natural barrier was a clearing with a roaring fire at the center.  On the far side of the clearing, Bob hung upside down, with ropes tied to both ankles.


Woodruff sprang into the clearing and ran around the fire pit.  He grabbed hold of Bob’s waist and lifted him up to ease the tension of the ropes.


“I got you,” Woodruff said.  “Who did this?  Was it an angry merman?  How many times have a told you to leave the underwater world alone?”

“It was him,” Bob said.

“Who him?” Woodruff asked, looking down at his overturned friend.

“Him,” Bob pointed out across the clearing.  Woodruff bent over and slowly followed Bob’s finger to a giant hairy creature beyond the fire.

“Bigfoot,” Woodruff muttered.

“His name is Bert,” Bob said.  “And his feet are actually proportionate to his height.”

“Hello,” Bert said.  He waved a hair-covered hand at Woodruff.

“Uh, hi?” Woodruff said.

Bert flashed a big bright smile and Woodruff stood up straight.  The furry giant wore only a blue and black afghan around his waist.  Other than that, his body was covered from head to foot with dark brown hair.

“Are you going to eat us?” Woodruff asked.

Bob and Bert chuckled.

“Uh, gross,” Bert said.  “Why would you think that?  Because I’m hairy?”

“That’s hairist,” Bob said.

“Then why do you have my friend tied up next to a fire in the middle of a secluded island forest?” Woodruff asked.

“The fire is for light and warmth,” Bert said.  “We’re the middle of a secluded island forest.”

“And I asked him to tie me up,” Bob added.

“What?” Woodruff asked.  “Why?”

“He asked me how I got so tall,” Bert replied.

“He told me it was from long term inversion therapy for a chronic back condition,” Bob said.  “I told him I was looking to add some scale to this sweet package.”

“That’s what Xi said,” Bert added.

“Inappropriate,” Woodruff said.

“What?” Bert asked.  “Wang Xi is a composer I summered with in Kathmandu.  She wanted to add scales to her composition.  Get your mind out of the gutter.”

“You were in the Himalayas?” Woodruff said.  “You’re kidding.”

“Nobody kids about Kathmandu,” Bob replied.

“What’s funny about that?” Bert asked.

“The Himalayas,” Woodruff repeated.  “You know, the Yeti.”

“Oh Woodruff,” Bob said, covering his upside-down eyes.

“That’s offensive,” Bert said.  “I happen to have hereditary gigantism and suffer from congenital hypertrichosis, which effect one in ten billion people, just so you know.  I’ve had to endure a lifetime of Sasquatch jokes and straight up cuckoos.  Have you ever been hunted?  It’s not fun.”

“Actually, Bert, we have been hunted,” Bob said, swinging gently side to side.

“A couple of times,” Woodruff said.  “It was not fun.”

“Not fun at all,” Bob agreed.

“I’m sorry,” Woodruff said.  “That was insensitive.  Please forgive me.”

Bert sat down on a stump and scratch at the ground with a broken branch.

“It’s okay,” Bert said.  “My ex says I’m too sensitive.”

“No,” Bob said.  “It’s got to be hard living out here on your own.”

“Oh, I don’t live out here,” Bert said.

“You don’t?” Bob said.

“No, I was just doing some fishing,” Bert said.  “You know, disconnecting, getting off the grid.”

Bob craned his neck and looked up at Woodruff, before they both turned back to Bert.

“I’m a hedge fund manager from San Fran,” Bert said.

“Why aren’t you wearing clothes?” Woodruff asked.

Bert looked down at the afghan tied around his waist.

“I fell in the water and hung my clothes out to dry,” he replied, pointing to a clothesline hanging between two trees.  “Bob gave me this blanket he knitted.”

“Crocheted,” Bob corrected.

“We thought…” Woodruff stopped himself before further offending their host.

“You thought I was a mythical creature living in a secluded island forest away from societies reach?” Bert said.  “I get that a lot.”

“Wow,” Bob said.  “We sure learned a valuable lesson about making snap contextual judgements.  Even when the evidence seems to overwhelmingly support them, you could still wind up mistaking a bay area capitalist on a fishing trip with a North American folk-legend.”

“No worries,” Bert said.  “If I had a nickel for every time I was mistaken for Bigfoot, I’d have invested those nickels in the market, quadrupled my original investment, and bought a SKS-HT540 7.1 Channel Surround Sound System with a 10-inch subwoofer and Bluetooth.”

“The Onkyo,” Woodruff said.  “Excellent choice.  I’ve got the HT-7800 at home.”

“Always nice to meet another audiophile,” Bert said.

Bert gave a double pistol salute with his finger guns just before being taken to the ground by a rampaging man who leapt from the bushes.

“Run for it, guys!” Kenny yelled, as he struggled with his hairy captive.  “Save yourselves!  Tell Meryl I’ve always loved her.”

“Kenny, what are you doing?” Bob asked.

“Kenny?” Bert said.

“Bert?” Kenny replied.

“Hey!” they sang in unison.  With a great big smile, Kenny climbed off Bert and helped him off the ground.

“You know each other?” Woodruff asked.

“This is my brother-in-law,” Kenny said.

“Ex-brother-in-law,” Bert added.

“Her loss, brother,” Kenny said. 

“As always, you’re too kind.”

“How’ve you been?”

“Good,” Bert said.  “You?”

“Same,” Kenny said.  “Whatcha doing out here?”


“Catch anything?”

“Just these two,” Bert said, pointing at Woodruff and Bob.

“Those are throwbacks for sure,” Kenny said, with a wink.

“Definitely,” Bert said, and pantomimed a tossing motion.  “Catch and release.”

Kenny threw his arm around the waist of his former brother-in-law and they both laughed.  The smile fell from Kenny’s face as he looked over at Woodruff and a dangling Bob.

“Wait a minute,” Kenny said, raising an eyebrow in their direction.  “Did you two think Bert was Bigfoot?”

“It was dark,” Woodruff said.

“And far away,” Bob added.

Kenny shook his head and muttered, “Of all the hairist…”

“It’s Reno all over again,” Woodruff whispered.

“She was incognito!” Bob said.

Woodruff mouthed a silent, “We’re so sorry” to Bert.

“Would you like a lukewarm apology milkshake?” Kenny asked Bert.

“Jamocha?” Bert asked.

“Chocolate,” Kenny said.

“Pass,” Bert replied.

When We Come To It

“How much further?” Kenny asked.

“If you ask me that one more time, Kenny, I’ll turn this bridge around,” Bob said.  “You just keep hammering.”

“My hammering hand is tired,” Kenny replied.

“Then use your other hand,” Bob said.

“Oh, okay,” Kenny switched hammer from his left to his right hand and finished pounding the nail into the board.  “Much better.”

A cherry-red Karmann Ghia pulled into view, with several dozen 2×12’s sticking out of the trunk.  Bob set his hammer down and made his way across the adjoined planks, to the rocky shore.  Woodruff climbed out of the Karmann Ghia and waved to Bob.

“This should do it,” Woodruff said, as Bob drew nearer.  “How’s it coming?”

“Great,” Bob said.  “Except for some whining from the hammering hobo.”

“Be nice to Kenny,” Woodruff said.  “He’s doing us a favor.”

“He’d be doing me a favor if he built more than he belly-ached,” Bob muttered, with a look back out toward the lake.

Kenny knelt at the end of a long bridge that nearly stretched to the island at the center of the lake.  Waves lapped up against the buoys that held up the footers and the bridge bobbed gently up and down.  The sun hung low in the sky and cast long shadows out over the water.

“Think we’ll get this done before the sun sets?” Woodruff asked.

“Dunno,” Bob said.  “Maybe.”

They each grabbed a stack of lumber and headed back over the bouncy bridge.

“Genius idea to float the bridge instead of trying to sink the piles to the bottom of the lake.”

“Thank you, my good man.  When you cast aside the umbrella of the advisable inspiration is free to rain down on you.”

“Did you just come up with that?”

“Nah, I got it from a fortune cookie at Panda Express.”

Woodruff and Bob set the long planks down next to where Kenny was fastening that next run of girders together.  Bob grabbed his hammer and knelt beside him, while Woodruff let himself down over the side and climbed across the trusses to support the beam from underneath.

“Girder your loins,” Woodruff said.

“Planks for the assistance,” Kenny said.

“Okay Punserella,” Bob said.  “Let’s focus.”

“What pickled his pier?” Kenny asked.

“He’s just anxious to get to the island,” Woodruff said.  “You know how obsessive he gets about celebrities.”

“Remember Reno?” Kenny asked.

“M-M-M-M-iranda, no, um, M-Meryl, M-M-Miss Streep,” Woodruff pantomimed, with a mocking bow.  “It’s an honor.”

“I still say that was Meryl Streep,” Bob said.

“Dressed as a security guard?” Woodruff questioned.

“She was incognito,” Bob said.

“It was a man,” Kenny said.

“With a beard,” Woodruff added.

“In-cog-ni-to,” Bob shot back.

“What about the time we actually met John Krasinski,” Woodruff said.

“You met John Krasinski?” Kenny asked.

“Bob asked if he knew Meryl Streep,” Woodruff replied.

Kenny and Woodruff burst into laughed and Bob threw down his hammer in disgust.

“Are we going to giggle or are we going to build?” Bob said.

“Can’t we do both?” Woodruff asked.

“Meryl Streep could,” Kenny said.

Another round of laughter sent a wave of red up his face like a thermometer on a summer morning.

“The sun is getting low and we’re not going to make it before dark if you two keep messing around.”

“If you’re in such a hurry to get to the island, why don’t you just take a boat?” Kenny asked.

“Because that’s exactly what you’d think you’d want to do,” Bob said.  “That’s why nobody has found him yet.  If you want to do something that’s never been done before you’ve got to do it the way it’s never been done.”

“Fortune cookie?” Woodruff asked.

“Of course it is,” Bob said.  “You know I live my life by the Panda.”

“I could go for some orange chicken,” Kenny said.

“I told you, you’ll get food when we make landfall,” Bob said.

“Bob, you’ve gone full Ahab again,” Woodruff said.

“What did I say about Herman Melville references?” Bob responded with an accusing finger point.

“Only if it’s from Queequeg,” Woodruff and Kenny replied in unison.

“That’s right,” Bob said.

Woodruff climbed up, back onto the deck, and wiped at the lake water splashed across his slacks.

“Well you’ve taken all the fun out of this,” Woodruff said.  “I don’t even want to meet Bigfoot anymore.”

“You don’t mean that,” Bob said.

“I do,” Woodruff said.  “I hope we never meet him.  I hope he stays mythical forever.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying,” Bob said.  “What about your list?”

“Bigfoot wasn’t on my list,” Woodruff said.  “Meet a legendary creature was on my list and we can check that off since you met Meryl Streep.”

Woodruff made sarcastic quotation marks on the word met.

“So you admit it was Meryl Streep,” Bob said.

“Sometimes I wonder why we’re friends.”

“Convenience and laziness, really.”

“I stay for the food,” Kenny said.

“Fair is fair, Kenny,” Woodruff said.  “Come on, we owe you a meal.”

“The bridge is only ninety percent finished,” Bob said.

“Then I’ll buy him ninety percent of a sandwich,” Woodruff replied.

“No one’s going to make you ninety percent of a sandwich.”

“Then I’ll buy one hundred percent of a sandwich and I’ll eat the pickles.”

“You’d eat the pickles anyway!” Bob shouted.

“I do not like pickles,” Kenny said.

“Fine, then he’s going to get one hundred percent of a sandwich,” Woodruff replied.

“For ninety percent work?” Bob said.  “That’s quite a deal.”

“Being friends with you is quite a deal!” Woodruff bellowed.

“Thank you!” Bob shouted.

“You’re welcome!” Woodruff replied, as he turned around and stormed off with Kenny trailing behind him.

“Bring me a milkshake!” Bob yelled.

“Chocolate or vanilla?” Woodruff shouted back.

“Chocolate, of course,” Bob said.  “Jamocha if they’ve got it!”

“We’re not going to Arby’s!” Woodruff shouted, as he pulled open the car door.



Woodruff and Kenny climbed in the Karmann Ghia and drove away, leaving Bob standing alone at the end of the bridge. 

“Is he still upset?” Kenny asked.  “I really can’t tell.”

“No, he’s moved into the milkshake phase,” Woodruff said.  “You know, denial, anger, bargaining, milkshake.”

Bob watched as the cherry-red car pulled out of sight.  For a moment he thought about jumping in the lake to cool off, but he was worried he might land on a crawdad or a baby bass.  Instead he set to work finishing the bridge.  Just before the upper rim of the sun dipped below the tree line Bob set the last plank from the deck to the sandy banks of the island.  He looked up at a large shadowy figure, amongst the trees, looking down on him.

“Miss Streep?”

Calls It How He Eats It

“This is the life,” Woodruff said.

“We needed this,” Bob replied.

“No doubt,” Woodruff agreed.

Woodruff reached into a small Styrofoam cup and pulled out a muddy, wriggly, worm.  He quickly expanded a fish rod and caught hold of the hook dangling off the end of the line.  With the hook in one hand and the worm in the other, Woodruff sought to join the two by force.

“That’s barbaric,” Bob said.

“It’s nature,” Woodruff argued.

“Nature?” Bob said.  “So, hooks are the natural predators of worms?”

“Fish prey on worms, I’m just the middle-man,” Woodruff said.

“It’d be more natural if you ate the worms and left the fish alone,” Bob said.

“Fishing goes back to the dawn of human history,” Woodruff said.  “There are cave paintings depicting fishing, and archeologists have found stone age fish hooks made of bone.”

“Yeah, barbaric.”

“You’re just mad because you can’t bait a hook.”

“Could too!”

“Uh huh, sure you could Grandma knits-a-lot.”

“How dare you!” Bob exclaimed.  With crotchet hooks in hand, he swiveled on the boulder to turn away from Woodruff, carefully balancing the balls of yarn in his lap.  Bob rapidly weaved red and blue yarn together with sterling silver crotchet hooks, purposefully blocking his work from Woodruff’s view.

When Woodruff had properly baited his hook, he stood up on top of the massive rock and held the pole over his head and behind him.  He surveyed the body of water and looked for a calm spot between their shoreline and the banks of the not-so-distant island in front of them.

“I choose to use my hooks to create not to kill,” Bob said, holding up a long sock shaped creation.  “I’m making this for you, worm murderer.  Maybe it could warm your cold heart.”

Woodruff lowered the pole and pivoted to look at Bob, who had already turned his attentions back to his project.

“You’re making me a heart cozy?”

“It was going to be an oven mitt, but that was before you forsook the sanctity of life.”

“The sanctity of life?”

“Hashtag worm lives matter, Woodruff, worm lives matter.”

“You’re being very dramatic.”

“Woodruff the wormslayer!”

“When I said I wanted to go fishing, what did you think was going to happen?” Woodruff asked.

“I thought you were going to catch them with your bare hands like a gentleman,” Bob said.

“And then what?” Woodruff asked.  “Don’t fish lives matter?”

“You’re going to kill the fish too?!” Bob shouted.

“I’m not going to eat a live fish.”

“You’re going to eat them?!”

“What else would I do with them?”

“I don’t know, return them to the water with a light taunting for getting caught.”

Woodruff stared down at Bob with his mouth agape.  The rod in his hand wobbled from the movement of the worm on the end of the line.  The moment past with only the sound of a gust of wind between them.

“I need to know that you know where food comes from,” Woodruff said.

“I’m not a child,” Bob replied.  “I know where you carnivores turn for sustenance.  That’s why I gave up fish and chicken and lamb, oh, and hot dogs.  Gross.”

“You had a hamburger last night,” Woodruff said.  “What do you think that was made from?”


“And where does beef come from?”

“Uh, the store, obviously.”

“Before the store.”

“Beef farms?”

“Bob, beef comes from cows.”


“Beef, hamburgers, steak, it comes from cows.”

“Then why don’t we call it cow?” Bob asked, incredulously.

Woodruff put down his fishing rod and rubbed his forehead with both hands.  He drew in a deep breath and watched Bob stare off at the shimmering waters.  Bob’s head slowly tilted to the side and his lips began to quiver slightly.

“An orange is an orange, an apple is an apple, lettuce is lettuce, chicken is chicken, and beef is cow?” Bob muttered.

From the look on Bob’s face, he was clearly grappling with the new reality.  Woodruff picked up a canteen in a camouflage pouch and walked over to Bob.  Crouching down he unscrewed the lid and offered it to his befuddled friend.  Bob took the canteen and mindlessly drank from it.  Swallowing the cool refreshing liquid, he pulled the canteen away from his mouth and looked at it suspiciously.

“Water is from water, right?” Bob asked.

“Yes, water is from water,” Woodruff said.  “Bob, are you going to be okay?”

“What other food doesn’t go by its animal name?”

“That’s not important right now, you need time to process this.”

“That’s exactly what you said to me when I asked if Vincent died in the LOST finale,” Bob accused.  “What aren’t you telling me?”

“Nothing,” Woodruff said.

“Woodruff,” Bob demanded.

Woodruff drew in a deep breath, and exhaled slowly, “Bacon.”

“No.  No.”

“Bacon, Bob.”

“But, but bacon comes from pork.”

“Why do you think the pig on Looney Tunes is named Porky.”

“No…no.  It’s can’t be!  That’s not true!  That’s impossible!”

“Search your feelings.  You know it to be true.”



Four hours later Bob was still hunched over the boulder in the fetal position, with Woodruff fishing quietly by his side.


“Yeah Bob.”

“Is there a turg or a wild pirkey out there that we get turkey bacon from?”

“I think it’s just turkey that’s made to look like bacon.”

“That’s awful.”

“No argument here.”

Bob sat up and wiped at the tear stains on his cheeks.  Woodruff set his pole down softly and turned to face his friend.

“You all right?” Woodruff asked.

“I don’t know,” Bob said.  “You know, you think you are a certain kind of person, but then you have to look yourself in the mirror and tell that person that you love bacon and you don’t care who it hurts.  It’s hard.”

“I know, amigo, I know.”

“We were supposed to come out here and chillax, disconnect, take a break, get off the grid.”

“We did, we’re off the grid,” Woodruff said.  “We’ve disconnected.  We’re out in nature.  Look.”

Woodruff gesture out at the beautiful vista, a lake surrounded by evergreens with a wooded island near the center.

“What else out there have I been eating?” Bob said, glumly.

“Honestly, none of the animals you eat were ever in the wild,” Woodruff said.  “They were most likely raised on farms to be slaughtered for food.”

Bob burst into tears and threw himself back on top of the boulder, “I’m a monster.”

“You’re not a monster.”

Woodruff’s fishing pole shot off the rocky shore and went skipping across the top of the water.


Bob sat up and they both watched the rod dancing in the wake of a fleeing fish.  The wake turned parallel to the shoreline as it approached the island.  In a flash, a giant hairy blur exploded from behind the cover the trees and ripped the fish from the water.  With wide-eyed wonder, Woodruff and Bob watched the towering creature retreat, back through the trees with fish in hand, dragging the fishing pole behind it.

“Did you see that?” Woodruff asked.

“I sure did,” Bob replied.

“Was that…?”


“A Yeti.”

“A Bigfoot.”

“Break is over,” Woodruff said.

“Things just got real,” Bob said.

“You know where we’re going.”

“The island.”

“Most definitely.”

Bob collected his balls of yarn and Woodruff picked up his tackle box.  With their supplies tucked underneath their arms they looked across the lake toward the island.

“Hey, Woodruff?”

“Yeah Bob.”

“You wanna get something to eat before we head to Bigfoot Island?”

“What’re you in the mood for?”

“I could go for a PLT.”

“A PLT?”

“A Pig, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich.”

“Sounds hamtastic.”

“Don’t be insensitive, Woodruff.”

“I’m sirloin, um, sorry, I’m sorry.”

Woodruff grinned wryly and Bob shook his head.

“We have a Sasquatch across the way, but you’re the real monster.”


Woodruff strummed his fingers against a wooden countertop and looked listlessly out the front window at Bob twirling an arrow-shaped sign in a circle.  A cold breeze blew in through the door that was propped open by a giant horseshoe.   Bob tossed the sign in the air and tried to catch it behind his back.  Quickly, he scooped it off the ground from where he dropped it as a car zoomed by.  Woodruff sighed.

“Bob!” he called.

Bob continued to spin the sign while he jogged across the tiny parking lot.

“What’s up, partner,” Bob said, as he poked his head through the front doorway while keeping the sign spinning just outside.

“It’s been three days.”

“Technically, it’s been two business days and five hours.”

“Nobody’s coming,” Woodruff replied.

“Don’t lose faith,” Bob said.  “You’ve got to believe.”

“Oh, I believe,” Woodruff said.  “I believe nobody’s coming.”

Bob stopped twirling the sign and stepped inside the lobby.

“Do you think we need a new sign?” Bob held up the blue arrow-shaped sign.  The white letters read ‘SHABBY MARES THIS WAY’.  Bob looked down at the sign and back to Woodruff.

“It’s not the sign,” Woodruff said.  “It’s the service.”

“Our service is first rate,” Bob said.  “The best in the world.  That’s what our website banner says.”

“We’re the only ones in the world.”

“That’s why this is going to work.  We’ve already cornered the market.”

“There is no market!” Woodruff threw his arms in the air and gestured to the empty lobby and parking lot.

“Every visionary entrepreneur has had moments of doubt,” Bob said.  “You think Alexander Graham Bell didn’t worry about his new lightbulb store?  You think when Papa John invented pizza that he didn’t wondered if people would like it?  Fact, when Apple was founded in 1976 Steve Jobs didn’t sell a single iPad in his first three days, not one.”

“We’re not Steve Jobs or Papa John…”

“You’re darn right, we’re Woodruff and Bob,” Bob interrupted.  “And we paint horses!”

Bob stood triumphantly with his hands resting on his hips and looked up into the far corner of the lobby.  Woodruff followed his gaze quizzically and turned back to his friend’s unearned victory pose.

“We haven’t painted a single horse,” Woodruff said.

“Not yet.”

“Bob, nobody wants their horse painted.”

“We just need to get the word out,” Bob said.  “They don’t even know they want it, that’s how revolutionary this idea is.  A Horse of a Different Color LLC is going to change the world, one horse at a time.”

“You’re literally just quoting our website.”

“Well it’s true.”

“Unsubstantiated claims on the internet is not a business model,” Woodruff replied.

“Excused me,” a frail voice called from the doorway.

Woodruff and Bob turned their attentions to a short woman with curly gray hair, wearing a lavender dress and a matching shawl.

“May we help you?” Woodruff asked.

“Yes, I found you on the Google,” the old lady replied.  “I have an antique horse I would like to have painted.”

“Antique?” Bob asked.

“Yes, it’s an old rocking horse,” the old lady shuffled into the lobby with her purse cradled close to her bosom.  “My mother’s grandfather made it for her mother.  It’s been in the family for generations.”

“Please, come and have a seat,” Woodruff replied warmly, and hurried around the counter with a chair.

“I’ll handle this, Mr. Doubting Thomas,” Bob said.  “Why don’t you look back behind the counter and see if you can find your faith.”

Bob stepped next to the old lady and took her gently by the arm.  Very slowly, he turned her around back toward the front door.

“I’m sorry,” Bob said.  “We don’t do antiques.  We paint real live horses.  Why don’t you try asking the Google for a hobby shop?”

He gave her a gentle nudge beyond the threshold and the old lady turned around with a confused look on her wrinkled face.  Bob removed the giant horseshoe from the door and waved as it slowly swung shut.

“There,” Bob said proudly, as he placed the giant horseshoe against the wall.

“What did you just do?” Woodruff asked incredulously.

“Uh, I protected our brand.”

“That was a customer.”

“That was a confused old lady.”

“She wanted us to paint her horse.”

“Her toy horse.”

“What’s the difference?”

“We can’t just paint whatever gets brought in off the street,” Bob said.  “We are a horse painting business.  If we paint that old rocker, we’ll be no different than any other paint shop in town.”

“Every other paint shop in town has customers!”

“Exactly,” Bob said.  “We’ve just got to find ours.”

“We just had one!” Woodruff shouted.  “You literally just looked a gift horse in the mouth.”

“An antique gift horse,” Bob muttered.

“That’s it, I’m done.”

“Hold your horses, we had a plan.”

“You had a plan,” Woodruff said.  “I didn’t want to do this.”

“I’m doing this for you,” Bob said.

“What are you talking about?”

“Your bucket list.”

“I don’t think I had horse painter on my bucket list.”

Bob pulled a crinkled piece of paper from his back pocket and flattened it out on the counter.  With his finger, he tracked down the long list until coming to a stop beneath the first entry not crossed out in crayon.  He pointed to it emphatically.


Woodruff leaned over the list and trained his eyes on the words above Bob’s finger.

“Become a philanthropist?”

“That’s right, become a philanthropist.”

“How is this becoming a philanthropist?” Woodruff asked.  “Other than the fact we are definitely not going to profit off this venture.”

“That was the whole point,” Bob said.  “We just needed a never-before-thought-of innovation that would make us rich and famous.  Then after we’ve been interviewed on talk shows and in magazines, and after we got tired of yachts and lavish parties, we would have the money and fame to become world class philanthropists.  This was supposed to be phase one.”

Bob slumped onto a stool and hung his head.  Woodruff looked down at the well-worn list and back to his sulking friend.  He reminisced about all their adventures and all they had accomplished together.

“Maybe we just need an adjustment,” Woodruff said.

“An adjustment?” Bob asked.

“Yeah, you know, try something different.”

“You mean like horse racing?”

“Or something else.”

“Horse dancing?”

“We don’t have to decide that right now,” Woodruff said.  He came around the counter and took Bob by the arm.  Bob stood up and Woodruff walked him toward the door.  “Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out together.”

Woodruff pushed open the door and Bob picked up the giant horseshoe and followed him out into the parking lot.

“Horse dentistry,” Bob declared, excitedly.

“It doesn’t have to involve horses.”

“We could call it Straight from the Horse’s Mouth.”

“Let’s talk about it over dinner,” Woodruff said.  “You hungry?”

“I’m chomping at the bit.”

“What sounds good?”

“Anything really,” Bob said.  “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”