What is a Zobelgraham??

Zobelgrahams: [zoe-bull-gram] (noun) short random bits of prose produced by a brother/sister team of would-be writers. Zobelgrahams are most commonly produced on the backs of receipts, scraps of toilet paper, or dashboards of moving vehicles; (verb) to zobelgraham, to spend time writing for one's own amusement when one should be doing other things

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Nose, The Final Chapter (by Graham)


She drove straight home from the library and parked extra straight in her driveway. She let herself in with her key and put some water on to boil. She unwrapped her tea bag feeling humiliated. She couldn't believe that she hadn't heard the librarian coming up behind her. She also couldn't believe that this self-same librarian had recognized her without so much as a blink -- in spite of the perfectly placed mole.

Well, she'd learned her lesson good and well this time. It was quite clear that unless one was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to protect their dual identity – like Spiderman or Batman or Indiana Jones – a double life was simply not feasible.

Far from being undone by this discovery, in the four minutes that it took for her to steep the perfect cup of green tea, she fully came to terms with herself – meaning her real, true, actual Self. Before being seized with the madness of The Nose, she had been content, hadn't she? Now that the madness had spent itself, she was content again. What a relief to have the thing settled.

It was in this state of relief that she went to bed early Friday night and woke up early Saturday morning with a sudden urge to grocery shop. She got up and threw on some clothes without bothering to shower or do her makeup. She wanted to beat the crowds to Shop 'N Save. She almost ventured forth without a list or coupons, but she stopped herself. Such rash acts belonged to the Nose or the Mole – not to her. She made her list, sorted her coupons, and headed out the door.

She enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the grocery store. It was just 7 a.m. and the place was nearly deserted, yet she still kept her cart to the right of each aisle just because it was the right thing to do.

When she finished her shopping, she got in a checkout line behind just one other person. As she waited her turn, she double checked the expiration dates on all her coupons. She glanced up and noticed that the cashier was an acquaintance of hers. How nice. They were not exactly friends, but they both had children in the same grade at school and had chatted dozens of times.

She unloaded the cart onto the conveyor belt, careful to sort fresh, frozen, cold, and canned items for proper bagging. Then she looked up to greet the cashier with a smile and a warm "Hello!"

"Paper or plastic?" was the terse reply.

"Actually, I have cloth bags," she answered, confused by her friend's formal tone.

"Fine," the cashier replied.

"How are you, Janet?" she asked hesitantly, peering uncertainly at the cashier.

At the sound of her name, the cashier looked startled. She looked at her customer more closely, squinting and tilting her head. "Do I know you?" she asked, clearly confused.

"Yes, I'm Janey's mom."

The cashier hesitated a moment more before breaking out in a smile. "Oh, of course! My goodness. I didn't recognize you at all. You look so different without your makeup!" she commented, then laughed good- naturedly.

She loaded her groceries into the back of the minivan and drove home in absolute silence. She didn't even play the radio. She had to think. No, she had to do more than think. She had to process. What could it mean that the only way to render herself totally unrecognizable was simply to appear as her unvarnished Self? What on earth could that possibly mean?

She had absolutely no idea.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Nose, the Sequel (by Graham)

The nose had been a mistake. She could see that now. After all, one nose is very much like another. How could she have thought that changing her nose would render her unrecognizable? It was simply unrealistic.

Lacking a proper disguise, she decided she would just have to face life as a respectable middle-aged woman and shed her wild fantasies of borderline criminal activity. She'd held it together this long. What was another forty years? She could survive, baking with whole wheat flour, drinking decaf, and putting skim milk in her coffee. No one had died of respectability yet ... Had they???

Days passed. She rose each morning, took her vitamin, went to work, did her job, and came straight home. She read Prevention magazine and went to bed early. She was fine. Really.

Then one morning she woke up screaming, "I'm an espresso woman in a green tea world!"

Her inner maniac was oozing out at her seams. It could not be contained. It was time to try again.

A false nose hadn't worked, but she knew what would. It had come to her in the night, whispered itself in her dreams. What she needed was:  A mole.

A mole's power cannot be overstated. Take Marilyn Monroe, for example. When her mole moved from her cheek to her temple, she was quite a different woman! Yes, a mole was just the thing.

The next morning when her alarm went off she hit snooze four times instead of the usual three. When she finally got up, she showered extra fast and threw on her clothes. Then she stood before the mirror and contemplated.

She contemplated long and hard because the placement of a mole -- especially with a permanent marker -- was not to be taken lightly. After much deliberation, she settled upon the left cheekbone, just an inch below the eye. This spot was perfect in its conspicuousness. She opened and closed her eyes several times, making sure that the "mole" was the first thing she saw each time she looked at her reflection. It was.

With a spring in her step, she headed out the door to meet the day. Her first act as a new woman would be to break a rule she had never yet broken in all her forty years of life. Like cigarettes form a seemingly harmless gateway to other drugs, this act of defiance would open the floodgates to all sorts of lawless activity. She was sure of it.

She pulled into the library parking lot at a reckless speed and parked crookedly in the spot nearest the door. She scooped up her DVDs from the front seat and stepped out of the minivan. She walked boldly to the large metal "Book Return Drop" receptacle and pulled on its handle. It opened like a gaping mouth, the metal door hanging from its hinges like a jaw dropped in astonishment. She paused to re-read the same red sticker she'd read a thousand times before:

"Do not place videos in book return drop."

Then, with a flourish, she tossed the videos down the metal throat and slammed the trap door shut. She'd done it! She was right! The mole was powerful, and she was free!

Or WAS she???






Sunday, March 25, 2012

The False Nose (by Graham)

There were times that she thought she'd crack under the pressure.

Her roles of wife, mother, school teacher, and church member all seemed to fit her like hats that were just a few sizes too small. The pressure to be respectable -- to say the right things, to set a good example, to wear matching clothes -- could get absolutely stiffling. Every once in awhile she just wanted to cut loose and go crazy -- run around and scream or yodel from the top of a parking garage. But what if, in the midst of some mad display, she were to turn around and BAM! run smack dab into someone who expected her to be respectable. She would simply die!

 Then one morning, as she lay in her bed mustering up the strength to rise and face another day, she had an idea. It was so perfect. So poetically simple. Why had she not thought of it before? She could live a double life -- a parallel existence of madness and sanity. All she needed was a false nose...

 She formulated her arguments during breakfast. She countered the opposition while brushing her teeth. She anhialated the re-cross while getting dressed. By the time she was putting the finishing touches on her makeup, her plan was complete. She could have her respectable cake and eat it too -- all slathered in delectable fudgey frosting! And fortunately she had a false nose in her cosmetic case already. It was positively providential!

 She drove to school in her usual nose, and behaved herself admirably all day long. After school, feeling frazzled from a long day of silly questions and inattentive students, she decided to put her alter ego to the test.

She donned the false nose and recklessly pulled into the grocery store parking lot. She parked her minivan so close to the neighboring vehicle that unless the driver was ninety pounds or less, they'd have to climb in through the passenger side door to enter their car. As she got out of her van she laughed. Maniacally.

Next she selected a cart with a wheel that squeaked with a fingers-on-a-chalkboard quality and pushed it randomly throughout the store. She made sure to travel down the center of the aisles at a meandering pace, clogging up the traffic flow. She occasionally stopped, blocking access to more popular items while pretending to read their labels. And finally, the coup de grace: She pulled brazenly into the express lane for twenty items or fewer -- even though there were clearly twenty five items in her cart.

 As she stood in line with a devil-may-care look in her eyes as they peered over her anonymous nose, she was startled by a voice calling her name.

"Is that YOU?"

 She turned around and was highly dismayed to see her next door neighbor in the line behind her.

"I thought that was you. What happened to your nose? Did a bee sting you?"

She sighed deeply as she left the store. Her five extra items no longer carried the thrill they had just minutes before. As she peeled off the false nose and threw it in her ashtray, she felt defeated and small. The nose hadn't worked. there was no other way. She was clearly doomed to this life of respectability, every day, 24/7, forever. Unless....

Buckskin Briefs-A Series of Frontier Shorts (By Zobel)


                “You Harry Pete?” I asked.  My words were short, terse, and came out just the way I’d hoped  they would.
                “What do you think?” replied Harry Pete. 
He was the biggest man I’d ever seen, a quarter-ton of mean and ugly.  His head was wrapped in fur with just his thick brown nose poking out the front, making his face look like a gopher’s rear end when it’s taking a dump.  A trapper’s hat hung flatly on the back of his head.  I could count four guns hanging off his torso, plus a few belts of ammunition that ran up, down, and across his stomach like railroad tracks laid over a mountain. 
                “I think you is,” I replied. 
                “What makes you say that?” he asked. 
                “Cuz you’re ugly as sin and look as stupid as a jackass’ idiot brother.”
                “You’re gonna die,” Harry Pete said.
                “Someday,” I said.  “But I don’t reckon it’ll be today.”
                “How you figure?”
                “I don’t aim to die; I aim to kill.”
Harry Pete looked at me, obviously confused. 
                “Let me ask you something, Harry Pete,” I said.
                “What’s that, you pucker-faced son of a jackelope?”
                “Two trains leave Boston, travelling at forty-mive miles an hour.  They both take the Western Line, leave at the same time, but one lands in Colorado Territory two hours before the other.  How’d that happen, you rattler anus?”
Harry Pete’s eyes shot back and forth as his pea-size brain fumbled for an answer like a card shark trying to find an ace where there just ain’t one. 
                “What’s their load?” he asked.
                “Lead!” I cried. 
I drawed on him faster than butter runs across a skillet in hell.  He drew too, pulling his pea shooter of his crotch holster.  For just a moment I saw fear flash across his marble-sized eyes. 
Next thing I did was to shoot him in the face.  I hoped to see his whole head fold in like a circus tent that got its center pole snapped, but the mirror just exploded all around me as the bullet hit it instead... just like always.
                 “Die!  You son of a pucker-brush brained son of a horny toad!” I cried through the shower of glass.