From "You Can't Format a Bear":
Chad stared into the bathroom mirror, running through the mental list of corporate social dance maneuvers he’d compiled over the better part of a decade. Rising a half-hour early to ensure no puffy eyes, sheet marks or other signs of slovenliness – check. Clean shave with no remaining TP residue – check. Lack of “pheromones” – check. Crisply-pressed slacks in an unthreatening shade of grey – check. The shirt had given him fits for a quarter of an hour. White was undeniably the classic model of professionalism, but would HR manage to read a message of old-school “white men’s club” mentality into it? When you were dealing with a mindset that equated Old Spice with ass-grabbing, nothing was beyond reason. He’d finally settled on a shirt Pea had given him for Christmas a few years ago in a shade of quasi-lavender-pink that he was sure Crayola had a name for but he hadn’t a fucking clue. Pale enough to be professional, but with a hint of “I am secure in my inner femininity.” Perfect. And as a bonus, since he’d never worn the hideous thing before, it was still package-crisp, with sleeve folds you could slice snooty cheese on. Everything was calculated, down to the last detail.
Thirty minutes later, as he walked into the Evercorp lobby, the rest of his brain woke up.
FUCK! SHOES! JESUS CHRIST! FUCK! FUCK! Chad frantically flung his feet out into the air in front of him, examining the tops for scuffs or fade, then twisted them alternately up and behind him, craning over his shoulder frantically to see the amount of wear on the treads, and god forbid had he stepped in anything? Somewhat assuaged that he wasn’t tracking mud or the by-products of the neighbor’s Pomeranian in with him, he sighed and straightened up.
The desk guard’s eyebrow was hovering approximately a foot above his forehead as he stared.
“Ahhhh... heh.” Chad went to rake a hand through his hair and stopped an inch away from the impeccably-gelled coiffe. “It’s... Riverdance, you know? For the company talent show. Coming up. Gotta practice. Great acoustics in here!” He shot the guard a grin and a thumbs-up as he strode confidently towards the elevators.
Barely skated out of that one. He mentally patted himself on the back as he stepped into the waiting car. He caught a mutter from the desk as the doors whispered closed.
“Hunh... shoulda known. Pink shirt.”
From "Shade of Leaves" (lyric mis-hear: "The Mummers' Dance"/fairy tale):
“Lady Jenna!” Prince Rupert looked bedraggled from his ride through the woods, the creeping branches and blackberries that lined their path showing no mercy to the layers of lace and velvet he’d chosen to wear. “May I-”
“I am no lady, sir,” She cut him off firmly, trying to hide the annoyance in her voice. Unwelcome or no, smarting off to royalty tended to leave one without a head. “I am merely a farmer and seamstress, like my father. And my sister.” She hoped the unspoken slight would incur some royal sense of shame and send him on his way with his ego viably intact.
“Peasantry or no, I have sworn to seek out the most beautiful maiden in the world and bring her back as my bride. If I may merely…” Prince Rupert let his words drift off as he tried to peer around her into the cottage. Jenna moved to block his line of sight.
“You may not, I’m afraid. My sister has declared her disinclinations to wed, and I’m afraid you must take her at her word. My apologies, your highness, and good day.” She began swinging the door to, but the Prince thrust a foot into the doorway, wincing as the wood bounced off his soft-leather boot.
“But I bring gifts to declare my honorable intentions! Both panniers of my steed are filled with gold for you and your family, if I may only-”
“GOLD?!” A voice roared out behind her. Damnation, she winced to herself. Turning him away before Father woke had been her only change at salvaging a peaceful resolution.
“You think to buy my daughter, my youngest treasure, with gold?” The old man limping across the floor was bent over his staff, shaking with infirmity and rage. “My daughter is no whore to be bought, sir! Neither her love nor her body has a set price, and the thought that you would assume so says multitudes towards your so-called ‘intentions’! This is no brothel for you to peruse, and bid with your coin! Remove yourself from my house! NOW!” With his final outburst, the elder raised his cane menacingly, but staggered under a fit of coughing. Jenna caught his arm gently, steadying his ancient frame.
“Please go, your highness.” She cut off the Prince’s protest before it began. He turned slump-shouldered back to his waiting horse and she sighed with relief. This chapter was finally over.
“Come back tomorrow, Rupie!” Sarah’s voice lilted out of the cottage like syrup. Jenna felt her teeth grate together as she watched the Prince’s back straighten and he strode to his mount with new resolve. God’s thunder! Biting back the urge to throttle her sibling, she led their father slowly back into the depths of the cottage.
“FUCK IT!” She flung her beer at the sidewalk with all the force she could muster. Unfortunately law had demanded the bartender pour their drinks into plastic cups before letting them stagger back out onto Bourbon Street. Instead of a satisfying smash, the half-filled tumbler bounced with a liquid pwock, spraying lukewarm pilsner in all directions.
“Shit! Shit!” Stacy danced sideways as the alcohol caromed past, tripping over a divot in the abused concrete and nearly pitching into the street. Deb caught her arm at the last moment, grabbing a street sign with her other hand to keep from being yanked off the sidewalk as well. A clumsy pirouette and they were back on the walkway, staggering under the weight of laughter and the last bar’s three-for-one special.
“God damn, Jean, the beer’s not that bad,” Deb giggled, tapering off into an unladylike snort.
“And if it is, I sure as hell don’t want it on my shoes!” Stacy nudged the empty cup into the street with a moue of exaggerated distaste. Deb burst into another cackle.
“Yeah, but you almost launched yourself into that shit trying to avoid it?” The three women glanced at the rancid green rivulet flowing down the gutter and collapsed back into drunken snickering. “I swear to God, it looks like a Midori Sour straight out of Satan’s asshole!”
The journey back to the bedroom was littered with louder swearing, since waking my wife was no longer a danger, but a requirement. I dropped heavily onto the mattress and shook her shoulder.
"Whuh? No lemons. Billing's not 'till... Chad?" Her bleary eyes slowly focused on me as she squinted in the dawn light. "What's wrong?"
"Sorry, babe. I need you to take me to the doctor. I think... well, I think my foot's broken."
"How the hell did you do that?" Maddy raked a hand through her sleep-tousled blonde mop.
"I don't know. I just woke up, and it hurts like hell. I can't even put any weight on it. No idea how it could've happened, but it's screwed. Maybe I went sleepwalking and kicked the furniture or something."
"Christ." She tossed the comforter aside. "Couldn't you save your Bruce Lee fantasies for decent waking hours?" Her sarcastic tone didn't mask the worry fogging her blue eyes.
From "Yearling" (fairy tale revamp):
“Jesus! Hey, are you okay?” The overcast sky met the murky water seamlessly, the voice could have come from anywhere. She ducked her head half away from a wave and attempted to yell for help, managing only a feeble croak. A rhythmic noise began and she turned her struggles in its direction. A darker silhouette loomed out of the gloom, resolving itself a few splashes later as a lone figure pulling at the oars of a small rowboat. Strong hands grabbed her wrist, splinters tattooed their way into her breasts and stomach as she was dragged over the side, and then she was in. She lay curled on the floor, sobbing in grateful hysteria against the spreading puddle on the planks. She wanted to scream in confusion, in outrage, in joy at surviving, but her salt-burned throat clenched like a fist, hoarding her hard-won air. She was left gasping and cawing in the bottom of the vessel, a sodden crow.
From "Power Drill Necromancers 9466" (spam story):
"Watch it! Harv, watch it, you're going too deep... Aggh, you asshole!" I ducked just in time, as his bit punched through the last of the Gat's skull and flung gray matter around the room at 1,300 RPM. Duff wasn't so lucky and caught a splat right in the ear as he turned from his table to see what was going on. He screeched like a buggered parrot and hit the deck next to me. I had my arms folded over my head at that point, both to keep bone chips out of my hair and to hide my purpling face as I tried not to crack up. Duff isn't known for his sense of humor when it comes to himself, and I didn't need a steel-toed boot in my ass to help me up again when this was over.
From Untitled (lyric mis-hear/historical rewrite [points for anyone who gets the reference from this bit]):
“I gots to shove off, Phelie.” Larry shouldered the grungy no-color knapsack like it was a packed lunch, not everything he owned. “You better ‘member to write me now.”
“Like I’d forget?” I ran to him, feeling his wiry arms wrap around me and keep me safe, like always.
“Same ol’ 'Touchy-Feely'.” He laughed and rumpled my hair like we was still kids. My chin fit in the palm of his calloused hand. “’Fore I go, I got to say one thing. I know you been walkin’ evenings with that Hampton boy. Just promise me you’ll be careful. A night stroll’s a fine thing with a fella when you’re young, just you keep careful about bein’ more than that.”
“What’s you gettin’ at?” I felt my shoulders stiffen up like an old hide, but didn’t pull away.
“Just don’t go givin’ away your heart just yet, Phee. I know he’s probably followin’ at your heels like an ol’ hound, and thinks you hung the stars and sit on the moon. But you’n still kids. Ah—” He set his hand over my mouth before I could argue. “Less kids than we was, but still kids. Remember he’s town, and we’s not, and he’s got a few years yet ‘fore he’s out f’m under them family that might not think as open. Got me?” I nodded mutely, trying not to let tears prick at my eyes. “Hey, no cryin’ now, Phee. It’s as may be he’ll come t’ his own in a year or two and still think you’re Queen o’ the Night Sky. And when that happens I’ll be first lined up to give blessin’. I’m just sayin’ if he’s of that mind, he’ll stay that way even if you keep it simple ‘till then. You’re all the lil’ sister I got, right?” He stroked my cheek with a rough thumb and I smiled in spite of myself.
“I hear you. But don’t you go fallin’ all over some hoochie girl overseas since you used all your good sense up on me, neither!” He threw his head back and hooted, and for a minute the walls of the cabin rang with our laughter one more time.
“No worries, Phelie. Now I gots to get goin’, or they’ll sail without me.” His grin was broad and white in his tanned face, but vanished quick as we heard the door rattle. “Pa’s home. Good thing, I hate sayin’ bye, let alone twice.”