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TAB2, 1960

stanley.lieber's picture

TAB2, 1960
452 words by Stanley Lieber

The testing was rigorous but fair. I don't know if the equipment had any real effect, but he started talking just the same.

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Little Tommy.

"Semen the color of old comic book pages, aged plastic, tape residue, dipping sauce for crayons that were flattened for a specific age group. You know, so they wouldn't roll away -- the crayons, not the age group. Dog piss on the carpet, striped wallpaper, a tray of stale flat bread, a portfolio of chalk drawings."

"What else do you remember?"

"The weather. Nothing."

"Let's start over from the beginning."

Aptitude tests. Memory. So far, things were progressing smoothly. I actually choked back a tear. I admit it: I was proud of him.

"Son, have you figured out what's going on yet?"

"A severed, pierced penis. In a can of Prince Albert pipe tobacco. Title: Not Funny."

I wrote TAB2 on the inside of his hat and placed it on his head.

"Let's get the hell out of here."


Tommy hated the matching outfits. Orange toboggan hat, bomber jacket, military goulashes. I had told him to think of it as his uniform. He scratched at his buzzcut, dumbly.

I hoisted him into his car seat.

Winter had struck while the other boys were studying. Permafrost, monochrome landscape. I had Tommy out and about in the elements every day; we covered four miles on average pacing the farmer's market near headquarters. He was already beating up on the boys in the class ahead of him.

Or so I had forecast, when I set him on this routine.

Reality didn't quite track. Tommy wasn't meeting his PT requirements. I began scrubbing his face with an abrasive washcloth and doubled his hours.

"Father, who do I have to blow around here to get a time sheet?"

"You'll be done when I say you're done."


The kid's mother.

I cleared my cache and ducked into a flower shop, dragging Tommy behind me. He planted himself on the floor and booted up a comic book. I should never have bought him that thing.

"The usual?"

We came in here at least twice a week.

"Affirmative. Red."

I jammed the bundle of roses under my arm and yanked Tommy along to the truck. I thought he might have released a slight whimper, but I couldn't be sure so I ignored it.

The mesh was offline in the truck. I punched the dashboard and Tommy let out a laugh. Finally the HUD activated and we peeled out of the parking lot.

I was thirty-three years old.

So far, 1960 was diminishing returns.


To be continued...



Call me crazy, but I kinda

Call me crazy, but I kinda like it. But I like weirdness of the high, dark variety.


What the hell is going on here...a reader can only go so far with an author before they give up. One needs to establish a long history of delivering good stuff before a reader will stick with a story that doesn't appear to make any sense whatsoever.

But of course, I may have missed a part one or something.