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Kraggh's Works ♫♪


Love Story (Guy's Version)

Posted by Kragghle , in Relationships, Music Nov 12 2009 · 73 views

We were both young when I first saw you
I close my eyes
And the flashback starts
You're standing there
On a balcony in summer air

See the lights
See the party, the ball gowns
You're the diamond angel in the crowd
I bid adieu
How I wish you knew

That I was Romeo, and we were both rebels
Your father said "Stay away from Juliet"
And I was heading down the staircase
My right told me "no"

Juliet if only we could have a time alone
I'll be coming
All there's left to do is run
I'll be the prince and you'll be the princess
It's a love story just say "yes"

So I sneak out to the garden to see you
We keep quiet 'cause we're dead if they knew
I close my eyes
Escape this town for a little while

'Cause you were Juliet, you were a scarlet letter
But your father said "Stay away from Juliet"
Though you were everything to me
I knew I had to go

But I wished
"Juliet if only we could have a time alone
I'll be coming
All there's left to do is run
I'll be the prince and you'll be the princess
It's a love story just say 'yes'"

Juliet's lonely, and fate seems to have another deal
This love is difficult, but it's real
Don't be afraid, we'll make it out of this mess
It's a love story baby just say "yes"

Oh oh

I left after midnight
Clouded with doubts in my mind
Are these feelings truly right?
I stayed away for a long time

My heart said

Juliet I love you, I'm trying hard to work it out
I want to be with you but we're both afraid
I made up my mind, there were no second thoughts
I knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring

And said
"Marry me, Juliet
You'll never have to be alone
I love you and that's all I really know
I talked to your dad, go pick out a white dress
It's a love story baby just say 'yes'"

Oh oh
Cause we were both young when I first saw you

:kaukau: In my opinion, much better than the other male version I found when I looked one up. Sorry, but just switching the references in first perspective with the references in second perspective and vice-versa just doesn't cut it. The story genuinely needs to be told from a different perspective, and this is my version of it.

By the way, if anyone can help me fade the two colors used in this, I'd very much appreciate it. I still don't quite understand how to do it. Yeah, I know how to look up the site and stuff, but I need more info than that.

Thanks for encouraging me, Turakii.

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh


Can I Learn From Success?

Posted by Kragghle , in Life Nov 12 2009 · 37 views
:kaukau: Sometimes it gets annoying when I fail big time and someone tries to counsel me by saying "It's good this happened because otherwise you wouldn't have learned from it." Personally, I'd rather have already known whatever needed learning. I don't see why I can't just as well learn from success as I can from failure.

That's not always the way things are, but I'm still a perfectionist punk.

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh


A Stone By Any Other Name

Posted by Kragghle , in Wisdom Nov 12 2009 · 58 views
:kaukau: In a park, there was a statue of a woman. One day, two fools visited the park and fell in love with the statue. They both came back every day to the statue, one in the morning and the other in the evening. The first named her Ann and the second named her Lynn. The first fool saw Ann as a statue of knowledge and wisdom, while the second fool saw Lynn to be a statue of bravery and pride. Along with standing for different ideals, each fool felt the statue had a different personality.

Did they love the same woman?

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh



Posted by Kragghle , in Relationships Nov 10 2009 · 36 views
If there was some sort of Oscar award ceremonies of my life, the trophy for "most influential person" would go to my father. The word "influence" is neutral, implying neither good nor bad things, merely that my life would be nothing like it is right now if it wasn't for his involvement. There are many people I would compare him to. In terms of mythology, he's like Hermes and Zeus. Hermes holds the record for being in the most myths, and almost everybody in some way had a relation to Zeus. In the same way, my father's hand has been in everything, and there is so much that I can trace back to him.

When I walk through the graveyard in this old Dutch community, some of the gravestones aren't written in English. Instead they say words like Vader and Moeder. A more recent addition is written in English, and when I was there for the burial I was reminded, as my father helped carried the coffin, that he was as human as I am.

This story starts with my father's childhood. He was raised on a farm with almost a dozen siblings. Grandma says that they were always running around shirtless and barefooted. In the country, he grew to be a boy of character, with bronze skin and a big build. He knew the taste of manure, the hard work of chores, and the fun of playing with a whole crowd of brothers. My grandmother has gone through and showed me pictures of his childhood. It was quite an adventure.

His account of his life in school mostly detailed how easy it was. According to him, calculus was so easy it hardly required thinking. He also had an interest in things like engineering in college, and he is now a carpenter.

Hours spent on a horse, he claims, numbered in the thousands. He has also gone mountain climbing in the Rockies. I do not believe I will be big in either of those.

To fast forward a ways, he met my mother. For the longest time, the only detail I knew about this fabled first encounter was the sweater my father had on, which he was protective of. It wasn't until recently that my mother told me that they met in a bar. "Trust me," she said, "you do not want to meet someone at a bar." This detail of my family history disturbed me.

While my mother was still in college, she gave birth to me. My birth certificate had her surname on it. When my parents married afterwords, my name was changed to my father's.

This is where my story starts.

My earliest memory of my father was when I was one or two years old, waddling around a second-floor apartment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Like some dreamy image, I can see my father, towering above me even when he is sitting on a chair, handing me a fly swatter to go get as many of them as possible.

Fast forward. It was my third birthday. We still lived in Sioux Falls, but now we had a blue house. I can only remember what it looked like from outside. I was climbing up on the pick-up truck, the same one he owns today, while he was in the back yard. I fell off, lost a tooth, and broke a finger. He was at my side in an instant. I can't remember driving to hospital, but I can remember the doctor having me wait.

Once my father walked around the block with me while I rode the tricycle. It was large block, or so I remember, or perhaps I was just small. Of course, this was in the city, so it could very well have been large. He also enjoyed flying kites with me.

When one day we moved to a small Dutch community in Iowa, I was introduced to the most memorable house in my life time. We call it the Brick House. There are endless memories that rest there now, and if walls could talk, they would talk of so much. They cannot, however, and I can, but I would recollect without end, and the only stuff that needs getting to right now is the stuff regarding my father.

My father had a whip, as well as some sharp arrows. A "friend" of mine got hold of the whip when I was four and ran off with it, and also had fun jabbing stuff with the arrows, including the tired of someone's suburban. Since I was involved in the latter stunt, I got in a lot of trouble.

Somewhere along the line, he got two hunting dogs and trained them. This was after he replaced the rug in the kitchen with a linoleum floor. The dogs were named Pinky and Harmony. They were the start of my love for dogs, especially big ones.

Father was much more into punishment than my mother was. Soon she quit spanking. He, on the other hand, would give me one for not dressing up early enough on Sunday morning. This might have been the beginning on my preference of my mother over my father.

On the subject of dressing up, he introduced me to the Dilbert cartoons when I was young, which I thought immensely funny. Later on in life, this effected my sense of fashion, for one day I noticed a business suit and admired it. To this day, I still wear business suits to school on a regular basis.

Even when I was a young child who was not yet trained to use the bathroom, I received my education on World War II from him. He showed me the airplanes and watched a movie on it with me.

It was in this house where everything ended. I can remember my parents argued often, although I didn't think much of it. To me, they were Mom and Dad, not lovers. I saw the photo of their marriage and it was enough for me. They were married. I took it for granted. One day, Mother told us to pack up, didn't explain why, and drove us elsewhere.

And so it was that the marriage ended in a bitter divorce. It's still bitter.

Several months later, my father had us back. There were further disputes over how the children were going to be divided, and then it was settled. I can remember his ominous figure in the door frame, and I was dragged from my room kicking and screaming. From this point on, I lived with my father. All that had happened before was setting the stage for this point in my life.

My father began to press down his own values on me. When I was young, every day in school was a struggle for survival. The school I went to had an unwritten code of the bigger fish eating the little fish. My father had given me one thing, and it was a tall and strong frame. However, on the other hand, he gave me something that made me much more vulnerable than what my size could make up for. Although he does not quite believe it, he has Aspergers, and he gave it to me as well. It's on both sides of my family, really, so I'm not putting any blame on him for this, but it was still a bummer. Somehow, people knew to turn to me to be their victim. I was brutally beaten on the buss every day. I was excluded from everything.

When I complained about this to my father, he criticized me for being brittle. His philosophy was to have the skin of a rhinoceros.

The next year, I learned to take my height to my advantage, and adapted to the fabric of the school's society as best as I knew how, which was to prey on the few who were lower on the food chain than me. It's a very uncomfortable background, and for me it's like the European dark ages. I made a victim out of girls, not out of any sort of lust for them, but because they were easy victims, easier to harass, and once or twice I had my allies in this hunt as well. In the meantime, when it came to the guys, I was manipulated and teamed up on, by hey, at least I wasn't the lowest on the food chain.

To best summarize this period of my life, I had a lot of anger in me. With everybody. It just didn't stop.

As it turns out, being less brittle hurt me even more. I was expelled.

The strange thing is, although me father always preached to me to be tough, no never be bothered by what other people say, it is extraordinarily easy to get him angry with any sort of insult. It may make a difference that I am his son, but he's still a hypocrite.

My father is the kind of guy who likes to call other people freaks. When I liked Neopets, he called anyone who liked stuff like that freaks, not knowing how that made me feel. There have been occasions when he will talk to a person and, when their backs are turned, he will tell me that they are freaks.

This is something that I do not want to imitate, however this overall attitude he has exhibited while raising me has taught me to be critical of others.

He seems hostile to fantasy and imagination. Sometimes I will be pacing, and something will be on my mind. Okay, I admit that sometimes I will imagine being in a battle from Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. Nevertheless, he will say "What are you imagining?" There's an implied hostility here, because I know what he's said on imagination in the past. I've overheard him say to his own mother once, when she started a sentence with "If only", he said "You're resorting to wishful thinking and you can't fall that low." That's sums up his attitude on imagination.

This carried on to my literary life. I want to write a story that mixes together many imaginary characters and events throughout my life called Journal, because I don't want those to die. It has a very deep sentimental meaning to me. Some things go through my mind, such as what certain people will think. I wonder what my mother would think, what my girl would think, but most obsessively I wonder what my father would think. He's said that everything I say comes from TV, which is ridiculous because I only watch the news and I hate to think that who I am as an individual is limited by what some little box spews out. He's talked negatively of me even when I associated the clothes an aunt once wore with Little House on the Prairie. Case in point: he hates fiction.

Instead, the last book he checked out for me a year ago presents more of his expectations. You see, I can't check out books by myself because minors need parent's permission to get a card and my father won't even let me get a library card while he is still my guardian. This book was by some guy called Studs Turkel. "This guy actually went around and wrote about what other people think," said my father. This guy wrote books like "A Nation Divided."

Es tut mir leid. I tried. That book was impossible to read. There's nothing wrong with writing, and he's promoted it to some extent, but he's presented me with what he wants.

More so than he has pressured me with his views on writing, he has pressured me with his expectations on my life as a whole. He glorifies engineering and farming, and has pressured me in taking classes that would educate me on both, which I have denied. However, his expectations remain.

Earlier I mentioned that there were many characters I could compare him to. In the last year, "Stars" has become my favorite song from Les Miserables, or at least has garnered the feeling of being "my song". Javert has always been my favorite character, and I wasn't sure why. At once, it occurred to me that Javert reminded me so much of my father. Just as Javert has high expectations of people and is slow to forget when people fall, so is my father. Being the son of such a man, I have naturally developed to have high expectations of myself. When told of how easy school was for him, I feel that I should excel as well, which I do. I'm always in the A range, but I believe that an A- is a failure. Would I feel the same way with my mother if I had lived with her? Maybe, maybe not.

In the meantime, my father once called me stupid when I was in middle school and said I should be more like a cousin of mine in the same grade, who is a child prodigy. This only furthered my tendency to use others as my measuring stick. So far, I do not believe that he has ever mentioned anything of this tendency of mine or counseled me in any way.

He has also influenced me in positive ways. He has a strong attitude regarding whether something is worth his time or not, worth arguing about or not, worth thinking about or not. Sometimes, when people give me hot ham and bacon, which is to say they treat me like a dumpster, I know better to not acknowledge them. Of course, it still gets to me, and I'm much better about it on the internet, but this behavior has developed as a direct result of being raised by my father.

He has strong political opinions, and as redundant as he can be sometimes, he always starts to talk about the glory of God in any such conversations. Does he overdo it? Yes, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

My father is Julius Caesar, and I and Augustus. I do not know how that association came about, although I can say that I was born in the month of August, but somehow I always found us symbolically tied with these two historical figures. Their relationship did not directly correspond with our, but for whatever reason this metaphor has been with me.

Father has instilled a deep pride in family within me. There are family reunions often. He will sometimes talk of our Dutch heritage just as my mother sometimes talks of her own mixed heritage. We have a large family. You see its name here and there throughout our community. It's a name that everyone's familiar with. I feel a deep conviction to my family, as well as a determined loyalty to whatever family I will one day start. As much as he is a part of me, I do not wish to repeat some of the same mistakes that he has made. I worry that I might be a bad person to my wife just as he was for my mother. I have doubts in myself.

It all started in the countryside, but do not know where this is going. The story of Julius and Augustus has plenty further chapters to be concluded. He is my father, and that will never change. He did much more than just bring me into the world. He shaped so much of it for me, in ways I have mentioned and in ways I haven't. I can only keep writing about it.

In Thought,


Halloween And Far Coming

Posted by Kragghle , in Life Nov 02 2009 · 23 views

:kaukau: So I've been thinking, in the ninety-nine blog entries I've made so far, from confessing that I felt like a self-obsessed git to posting a story so long it didn't even fit the page, that this here person has come quite a long ways. Writing down some of my thoughts and experiences has done a lot for me. I am proud to have written such entries as "Logic and Wisdom" and "Personal Isolation". It's been good to get my thoughts down. In what ways I have have matured I cannot pinpoint, however I know it's there.

Since the next entry will be the hundredth, it will be a special one. I will put some time into it, as it will be of an important subject to me.

In other news, this entry will be unique as well. This marks the first time ever I will have posted pictures of myself on the Internet! Lo and behold, my Halloween costume.

And here...We...Go!

Posted Image

Well, you look nervous. Is it the scars?

Posted Image


Okay, so this isn't how I usually look, and the only reason these are being posted are because they don't give you a good idea of my age and they're somewhat cool.

The pants and suit turned out better than anticipated. The vest was sewn by my mother on Halloween day. However, we did not have enough tie to add any buttons, although they will be later, because the vest is nice enough to wear. We are also planning on adding a strap on back with which we can tighten it.

It was kind of funny. As you know, you can't do the Joker impression while handing out candy to youngsters. That's taboo. However, I went to a haunted house later. Granted, it was lame and cheesy to my masculine tastes and according to the accounts of other tough-guys I know who went to one where they actually thought they were going to die, but it was still an interesting experience, considering that it was my first. Nothing phased me, of course, and for the most part I just laughed at all the ghouls who jumped out at me. When one thrust its hand out, I just gave him a high-five. Then, of course, there was the classic line of "Why so serious?", which I used throughout. The most interesting moment was when one of the ghouls stopped and said "whoa!" when they saw my costume.

Putting together the outfit: somewhere around $50 (guesstimate)
Price to enter enter haunted house with sister: $8
Scaring the haunted house ghouls: Priceless

Now I can get my hair cut. Growing it out was a nice experiment and all, but the look does not fly at all, in my tastes.

Lol, yeah. So, yeah, nice weekend. Now I have to go off and do homework. Oh, the fun.

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh


* Needs Title *

Posted by Kragghle , in Literature Oct 19 2009 · 39 views
Picking up the mess that everybody left behind was not a fun job, and it took away from valuable time that he could be using to do homework, but at the same time it brought a vague sense of satisfaction. In seventh grade, there was a problem with bullies, and not the type that went around bruising knuckles left and right like they were playing a game of whack-a-mole. Those people always got into trouble and anyone with an ounce of brains knew how to avoid them. No, the problem with middle school was that there was a social hierarchy. There were significant people and there were people who weren't worth their time. Okay, that was going into the extremes of things, but when someone considered to be cool splashed pride on everything and everyone, the volunteer janitor was excluded. It seemed that everybody could reserve some sort of respect for that kind of guy. It didn't make him cool or noticeable - he didn't even have any friends - but at least Michael was not on anybody's enemies list.

School had just got out and the hallways still had some emptying out to do. Michael made his way to the closet where he got his supplies, a vacuum and a trash can. All he did was clean up rooms of the scrap kids left lying around and vacuum the floor, because Michael knew that some kids would always inevitably pick his nose and leave it on the rug because they knew that nobody would notice and that the janitor would take care of it anyways. He would also come across the occasional lost assignment, which he would tape to the front of the locker of the individual.

He wheeled out the supplies and began his standard sweep of the school.

When he came into Mr. Booker's classroom, where he taught all forms of high-school math, he found the teacher had stayed after school. Everybody called him by his first name, Buddy.

He sat behind his desk listening to headphones.

"This is new," said Michael. "You're always one of the first people to leave the school."

Buddy looked up from the assignments he was correcting. "After school a lot of things come up."

"But not now?" asked Michael.

He gave a gleaming smile. "Nope."

"What are you listening to?"

"I listen to the big three most of the time, but it's sort of a chore. Today I've returned to the good old stuff. Rock'n'Roll and pop."

"Anyone in particular?"

Buddy unplugged the headphones and let the music play. The headphones filled Michael's ears with the beat of Separate Ways. Buddy's head began to nod. "Who sings this, by the way?"

"I'm pretty sure that it's a band called Journey or Adventure or something. I'm surprised you're asking me. This stuff came out more during your time."

Buddy shook his head and looked Michael in the eye. "No, I missed out on a lot."

What did he mean by that? It was too vague of a statement for Michael's tastes, and he would have asked but he had work to do. The math room was an orderly place, and there was seldom anything he had to do, but he was told to always wipe the tables because there were pencil marks on them remaining from when someone might not have had a piece of paper with them. Buddy let the music play as they both went about their work.

After a few minutes, Buddy piped up. "By the way, what's your name?"

It wasn't surprising that he asked. It was doubtful that Buddy knew the name of anyone outside of his class, given the minimal amount of time he spent in the building. "Michael."

Buddy just shrugged. "You may call me Buddy."

"I know. I've heard tell." When Michael was finished with his work, he looked at Buddy, although tried to conceal it. This was the first time he had ever had a good look at the teacher. He looked to be in his mid-twenties, and he had a round face crowned with messy hair. He wore what looked like could be half a dozen layers of clothing with a thick sweater on top, as opposed to the more formal look of the tie-wearing teachers. Michael thought that what he was an oddity before, but now seeing him in person he was with more questions.

"What do you do after school?"

"Nothing you need to know about. This isn't teacher-to-student stuff."

"Oh," said Michael. He readied his things to leave the room.

"Wait," said Buddy as Michael was going through the door. He turned around. "Do you have a sister in my class?"

"Wha-?" said Michael. "Why did you bring it up?"

"You have the name Zweifel on the back of your shirt. I noticed as you were about to go."

Michael reached back to touch the space between his shoulder blades. "Yeah. Most of what I know about you comes from her. She says you're a very fun teacher."

Buddy smiled. "I'm flattered. She's a very good student in return." He wheeled his chair over to take a textbook off a spot on his desk that was cluttered with CDs. "She hurried off to a test. This got left here."

"Thanks," said Michael, and took the book from the teacher.

"No problem," said Buddy, and he put the headphones back on.

Michael put in his backpack.

Later that evening, he brought his supplies back to the closet. It was 6:30 and it was his official time to leave. As he turned from the closet, he came face-to-face with the most disgusting figure in the school.

"Oh, hey," said Michael. The main custodian, Jared, grunted and shoved him aside. Michael didn't know what on Earth he did to provoke him. "What was that for?"

"You took forever to stash that stuff in and I had to wait behind you. Speed up."

Everybody except the school teachers knew that Jared had major problems. They said he was on drugs. He would sometimes take a slip outside to take a smoke. His teeth had black stains on them and he pinched his lips together to hide them. Students often caught him glaring at them. Nobody dared report it.

After hurrying off, Michael found his coat and went to the main door. He lived a couple of miles away from school. Sometimes a friend of his sister would give him a ride, but not too many people had stayed behind that late after school today. It was dark and snowy. Michael sighed and wrapped his scarf tight and dug his face into it as best he could.

He walked north. A half hour later, he arrived at his home outside of town. It was a comely brick place overlooking a large yard covered in a blanket of snow. A pair of deep tracks ran up and disappeared underneath the garage, and a warm yellow light shone through the living room window, surrounding a blurry silhouette.

Michael walked inside and stomped his feet on the welcoming rug to get as much snow as he could off his boots. He set his bag down and went straight for the kitchen. After another hard day's work, the first thing that was on his mind was food, and really hot food at that. He went to the kitchen and found himself his typical meal, chicken noodle soup partnered with a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows. When they had both gone through the microwave, he savored their smell in his reddened nose, which was just beginning to thaw out. Given the circumstances, this was ambrosia.

When he has finished his meal, he picked up his bag and brought it into the living room where the desk was, as well as his father. Leonidas "Leo" Zweifel was a handsome man. He made a good living as a lawyer and wore a full three-piece suit at all times. Michael looked much like him, with the same sunset-orange hair and skinny face.

As Michael set his bag on the desk and began pulling stuff out, his father looked up from the legal files he was reading. "Do you have any homework?"

Michael turned and looked back at his father, whose eyebrow's were set like a skeptic's. He took a deep breath. "Of course I have homework. That's why I'm taking it out right now. Why do you always have to say that the first thing every afternoon? Could you have a better conversation starter?"

His father set aside his documents. "Why do you have to be so disrespectful? That's not going to get you anywhere in life."

"Why do you have to ask like that? It sounds like you're trying to insult me or something every time you do."

"That doesn't matter. How much homework do you have?"

"I only have math and English to do. It's none of your business."

His father stood up. "Yes, it is my business because I'm your father and I'm in charge of raising you. If I want to know how your education's going, then I ought to know. Now let's see what we've got here."

"But I already told you that I had math and English. Isn't that enough?"

He rested his hand on Michael's shoulder and set him down in the chair, an act which Michael was not fond of because it suggested that his father thought of him as some two-year-old. He didn't need help sitting down. His father continued, "No, because you need help. I've seen your report cards and you're struggling in your classes and you're getting an eighty percent in math. When I was your age, I got perfect scores in that, and so did your mother and sister. You should be doing good to. This stuff is easy."

"Maybe for you it is, but for me, it's hard."

"Don't kid yourself," said his father. He knelt down next to Michael's chair so they were level and slid the math book to the center of the desk. He opened it up to the page marked with a piece of grid paper. On top it had Michael's name lesson number seventy written on it. His father skimmed the problems. "Let's take a look at the first one. It says here to divide 9.2 by 0.5. That's easy, just multiply it by two to get 18.4."

"I know that! I don't need help with it!"

"Well what do you need help with?"

"None of them, Dad!"

"If you didn't need help with them then why would you be struggling in this class?"

Michael hesitated to answer. The truth was, he didn't have enough time to get everything done because of his job as a janitor, but if he said that he didn't know what his father would think. There was nothing wrong with volunteering, but he didn't want to admit that it was coming at a price, and he didn't want his father criticizing him for doing hard work. "Would you rather help me with my English?"

His father closed the math book and opened the English book. For the next half hour, he was lectured on something called clauses and assisted through an overall of forty textbook problems.

"See? That wasn't too difficult. Now, let's see to your math." His father reached for the math book and noticed the second one he had brought home with him. "Wait, this is your sister's book. What's this doing here?"

Michael explained. "I would have given it to her, but she was no longer in the school. I'll give it to her in the morning."

"You'd better. She shouldn't get a zero on an assignment because of you."

Michael slammed his fist down on the desk. "Shut up! Why are you looking for someone to blame? How come whenever there's a failure it's always mine? Why? You're always like this! Everything I do isn't good enough, and if she doesn't get that done, it's not going to be the end of the world for her and it's not going to be my fault!"

His father got out of the kneeling position, and stood above Michael. The old man's fists were clenched. "You do not talk that way."

"But you don't listen to what I'm saying!" Michael stood up as well, though he also got on his toes.

His father grabbed him around the bicep and pulled him away from the desk. "That's enough! It's getting close to your bed time. You go to your room. And don't forget about your sister's math in the morning."

"Fine!" Michael put everything back in his bag and stormed to his room upstairs. He closed the door behind him.

His room was in disarray from lack of care, which made it feel small and cramped. He only ever used it to sleep. His floor was covered in used socks and shirts. It was his horizontal closet. The only things that weren't on the floor were the pants, which were easy enough to fold to put back into drawers, and the number of tuxedos and formal wear that his father bought for him on occasions such as birthdays and Christmas, which weren't suited to remain on the floor and were instead hung in the closet.

He kicked at the floor and opened his backpack again to find the English notebook, ripping out the sheet and crumpling it up. He threw it into a trash can next to the dresser.

For the rest of the night Michael had trouble sleeping or closing his eyes. He stared at the window where the snow, like small little visitors peeking in to get a glimpse of the boy inside, drifted past. His father invaded his mind, though he tried to suppress him from his thoughts.

When sleep didn't come, Michael, got out of bed. Since he was awake he might as well fill that time trying to get something done. First he dug the English paper out of the trash bin and flattened it out. His father's work or not, he decided that he didn't want to get a bad grade because he didn't have it done. Next he turned on the light and took his math out.

Halfway through the problem set his attention span began to wander and he began to play around. He took out the book that Buddy had given him instead and observed the cover, which was fancier than his own. What was math like for a high school student? He opened up to the first lesson to find out.

At once, a superfluity of alien terms and strange incantations submerged him in confusion. None of it made sense. What on Earth was a real number and an integer? If one person could like thirty stamps per minutes and the other could lick twenty-seven stamps per minute, how was he supposed to figure out how many they could lick together? The only thing that looked familiar to him was the traditional train problem, but he hadn't a clue how to figure out when they would meet. He dared himself to skip ahead to the same lesson he was on, and shook his head when he began seeing Greek letters.

He closed the book.

Then opened it again. In between the pages of the book was a CD. What was that doing there? Michael held it to his face and observed it, but didn't find any details on it. Didn't Buddy have a bunch of CDs on his desk? How would it have ended up in the book? Michael figured he'd give it to his sister tomorrow. If it was hers, she would know. If not, then she could just give it to him during class.

Amidst the mess of his room, he found a plastic CD holder and put it inside.

Michael finished his homework and went to bed, where the mental exhaustion had at last readied him for sleep.

The next morning, he got up and did his daily chores, including having breakfast, taking a shower, getting dressed, and packing. He went to the garage where his father was waiting in the car for him to bring him to school. Michael had to arrive there at 6:45 to work as a janitor, otherwise Jared would get a little red in the face, and nobody liked that, least of all the person who had to put up with it most.

When they drove out of the garage, his father gave him a reminder. "Don't forget about that math book."

He just had to remember that and bring it up. Was it worth talking about? Michael was tempted to make a remark, but held his tongue. It was easier today than yesterday.

"So what about the rest of your homework?"

To that, Michael could answer. "I'm done."

"Well that's good. Are you sure you got them all right? This must have been while you were supposed to be asleep."

"If I got ones wrong, do think I would know about it just now?"

"I'm suggesting that you get it done earlier."

"I have to work for the janitor!"

"Well then get it done during class."

Michael pulled his hat down so that it half covered his eyes and looked out the window to his right. He should have sat in the back seat for good measure when he first got in the car.

Town buildings went past, soon they were coming up to the middle school. His father dropped him off and drove off. Michael walked inside. He looked at his watch. It was seven in the morning. That meant that he would be six minutes late, but Jared might not notice.

He made sure he was quiet going in through the front doors. The school's hallways were quiet and empty, with only half of the light turned on. A Christmas lights lined some of the doors and the ceilings were poke-a-dotted with mistletoe. It would have been a nice setting if he wanted to relax, but that was not to be.

As he walked past the office, he noticed his sister inside at the secretary's desk. Just as he did, she also volunteered. Truth be told, the main reason he became an assistant custodian was because he was inspired by her, and he knew that she was popular, especially with the middle school students. Part of Michael hoped that by imitating this he might gain friends as well. She spotted him from behind the window and waved at him.

He dropped by the office. "Hello," they both said.

Michael went to the front of the desk and looked over to see what she was doing. She had a stack of text books next to her, all set in color-coded paper book covers. She wasn't working on any of them and was instead reading a book called Les Miserables.

"Your math teacher gave me this." Michael took her brown-clad math book out and set it down in front of her.

"Oh, thanks. I noticed that he stayed behind school for once." She took the book and opened it. "He's very different, you know."

"Yeah, he listens to rock'n'roll."

"Really?" she said. "Well, I knew he liked music. He would always play Beethoven in the background during tests to keep us focused, but quiet enough to not defeat the purpose."

"Yeah, well dad was pressuring me to give this to you. He always makes me out to be incompetent. In the meantime he also had to mention how great everyone else was in comparison."

She set the book aside and looked Michael right in the eye. "Michael, he's not as harsh as you think he is. Like many other people in the world he's...preoccupied with the negative possibilities. It's human. I see a bit of him in you, too. You don't give him the fair analysis either."

Michael didn't understand how she could be so fair to their father, but then it had to be easier for her since she didn't have to deal with him. "You know that sometimes he's angrier."

"Yet he's not cruel. If there's anyone who would get to you, it should be Jared," and at that they both looked to the office window before continuing. She lifted up a corner of her lip. "You know how he is."

"Yeah," said Michael, "but he's not my father."

She sighed. "Of course, you are entering your teenage years, so why should I argue with the inevitable?" She smiled and went to her work.

By this time, the subject had to be changed, especially after that last observation. "Can you look over my math?"

She shook her head. "I would be glad, but my math hasn't even been started on yet, which is my fault, of course."

He was again curious, and looked over the desk to watch her work on her math. It still looked like an alien language. She noticed that he was overseeing her working process and began to read out loud. "In a game of pool, the corners of the board are represented as points (0,0), (100,0), (100,100), and (0,100)," she began, then gave the coordinates for five different balls, one of which was the cue ball and one was the eight ball, all the rest being the balls of the opposite player. The objective was to figure out how to get the eight ball into a certain corner, using the right amount of force. The problem included something called a vector. It looked simple enough, but the actual mathematics behind the problem were beyond him.

"It's funny, because Buddy doesn't know what pool is," she said when she was finished. "He was doing a similar problem before in the middle of class and didn't have a clue. It turns out he's never heart of basketball and volleyball, either. The only two sports he knows about are football and baseball, and he said it was only because it was America's past time."

"Well, you said he was different," he said.

"Math is the only thing he could teach," she continued. "He'll get to a problem and is always asking dumb questions."

The door opened behind them. Michael jumped, but was relieved to see that it was not Jared. The guy wore shorts and an Iowa Hawkeyes jersey, which in the winter time was a sure sign of a die-hard athlete. "Hello Nixon," he said. He came in and rubbed Michael on the head, to which Michael flinched.

"Uh, that's my brother, Michael," she said.

"Oh, I'm sorry," he said, and turned to hold out his hand to Michael. "Nice to meet you."

They shook.

"Hello, Gary," Michael echoed, but by then Gary had turned towards his sister again. Michael looked at his watch. It was just seven o'clock. Very few people were in the school building so early in the morning, and the populace did not consist of athletes. Michael eyed the guy as we went around the desk to sit by his sister.

"So, uh, how far are you on that?" he asked with genuine surprise. Nixon was known for being perfect about her homework.

"I just got started. Problem five."

"I'm on fifteen. Would mind working together?"

Why did Michael have a feeling he knew what this guy was up to? If he noticed, then his sister must have noticed, but she seemed to be playing along. They began working together, and Michael thought that at that moment it would be the right time to slip out and at least let Jared know he was there. He didn't have to know whether he was working or not, but he had to check in.

Outside the room, he began to head towards the high school end of the building, then, as he turned a corner, he stumbled. Jared was working on mopping the floor. He heard the squeak of sneakers against tile and looked up.

"You're late," he snarled. "What do you think you're doing, slacking around? Look at all the work I have to do!"

"You always do the mopping," Michael pointed out. As usual, anything that the janitor could interpret as defiance was met with a bad reaction. Jared walked up to Michael and stepped on his foot.


"Yeah, that's what I thought," he said. Then he called him something profane and grabbed him by the collar, wrestling him over to the wall. "You think you're so smart, don't you? Think you can get away with coming to school early but not doing your work? Yeah, I saw you with your chick of a sister. What are you going to do, use her as an excuse? Huh? Huh?"

Michael closed his eyes and bit his lip, not wanting to be defiant to the janitor.

"Look at me. I said look at me! You stupid son of a lawyer is letting me down!" He thrust Michael against the wall again. "I'm tired of you's thinking I'm stupid. I know what you're getting at. You think that you can play with me. You think that's a joke? Get to work!" He tossed Michael to the ground, and he got up and scurried off to the supplies closet.

He rummaged through everything and slapped it all together. Then he trudged down the hallway again. Jared walked past him, hunched over and muttering something under his breath. Michael went to the first bathroom he saw, which belonged to the girls, but he didn't care. He was a janitor anyways, and at least he wouldn't haunt it with the fascination of a vampire had with warm flesh, like Jared. It didn't matter if there were girls in there or not, the image of the smoking mutant slouching around in there just seemed wrong. In the meantime, since Michael was done with the other stuff from yesterday, he did the bathrooms in the morning. The main thing he did was mop the floor and check to see if the paper towels were running out, in which case he would put a fresh role next to the dispenser for people to resort to when the main supply ran out, and he could put it in the dispenser later on the next morning. The worst part was looking for clogged toilets, but to his good fortune those weren't too common.

When he was done with all this, as far as he was concerned he was done, period. After visiting all the bathrooms, he peeked out of the door and looked both ways. When Jared was not in sight, he took his supplies to the middle school office. Putting them back in the closet would have been a dead giveaway that he was not being faithful to Jared's standards of labor. He left his supplies outside as he walked in.

Already he could tell that Nixon was done before Gary, even though he had a head start.

As it seemed that he was almost finished as well and had been educated by Nixon's assistance, his conversation transitioned from math to more casual interaction. "So tomorrow we're getting half-off because of Christmas break," he said.

Nixon nodded. "Yes, it should be interesting. Hello Mickey," she waved. "How are things going?"

"Better, now that I'm done."

"Whoa man, you don't smell too good," said Gary. "Where have you been?"

"Oh, he's much like me," she explained. "Except he works as a janitor. When I said dirty work, I meant dirty work.

Gary blinked. "Oh."

"So did you need any help with your Biology?"

"Uh yeah - I mean no. Sorry, no," he said. "Do you have any more work?"

"No," she replied.

"Well, I was saying, uh, what with Christmas break coming out, would you like to hang out?" he asked, trying to sound casual.

"Hang out? No," she said.

Gary looked at the clock. "Well, I'd better be going," he said.

Michael couldn't contain himself. "What for?"

"Uh," said Gary, "other people are beginning to arrive at this time." He was telling the truth. Michael looked behind him and noticed another person walking through the halls. It was about the right time.

When the boy named Gary had left, Nixon sighed. "Mickey," she said, letting the name hang for a bit, "no need to put him on the spot like that."

"I don't know what you mean."

"I know and you know and I know you know that he was flirting with me. A lot of guys do that."

Michael made a mental list of all the different things there were to like about her. She had a subtle beauty that was warm and inviting. He had seen a picture on Anne Frank once and thought that they looked similar, although Nixon was older. She was smart, and yet she didn't seem intimidating. She was always nice to him, so Michael had to assume that she was nice to everybody.

Well, not everybody.

There was a knock on the window, and they both turned around to see Jared behind the glass, looking ticked. "Get over here!"

Michael didn't want to, but came out to meet him. Nixon was more quick than he, and followed him out. By the way she walked, she was sending off aggressive vibes. When Michael was facing Jared, who was beginning to blast him with foul phrases, Nixon stood in front of him.

"Back off, Jared."

"What, are you going to hide behind your sister, punk?"

Michael had to give him thanks later on for that brilliant idea, and he let Nixon block him from view. She stared Jared down with a deadly gleam in her eyes.

"Back off, Jared," she said.

"You..." but Jared never finished. Nixon took a strong, deliberate step forward. Jared flinched and backed off. He almost seemed intimidated, and he left.

"Wow," said Michael. "I wish he would do that for me."

"Mickey," she said as she turned around, "the only reason he won't mess with me is because he doesn't think he can get away with it."

"Yeah, but sometimes I stand up to him and he just shouts at me and even beats me up at times."

"It's not about standing up to him," she explained, then paused, trying to think of a good way of explaining it. "It's not just how you treat him, it's how you treat others. You can't defeat him through force."

"I think I get it," said Michael, still unsure. "What am I going to do now?"

"Do you mean to say whether or not you want me to explain further or what do you want to do with Jared off your back?"

"What do I do with my spare time?"

"Do you want to hang out with me?"


"Okay," she said, and she brought him back into the office, where she went back to her place behind the desk. With a gesture of her arm, she welcomed Michael to come and sit behind it with her. It was relaxing to have a single morning where he could spend time with his sister, and he felt he deserved it, for if ever there was a time to be merry it was during the Christmas season. Nixon did a quick review over his math and pointed out a few things that were wrong, and once he was done with his homework they both had the rest of fifteen minutes at their leisure before the school bell rang, during which time they began talking about the books that they had read recently.

"I tried getting started on Les Miserables," Michael said at one point, "but the beginning was so slow. The book is too much for me. I don't know how you do it."

Nixon smiled, amused. "Sie sind klüger als Du glaubst."


Nixon got up as the school bell rang. They strapped their bags on their backs, and then she gave her translation. "You're smarter than you think you are."

He smiled and the encouraging words, then separated for his first class of the day. "Bye!"

English was not far away from the office, but he had to push it to make it there on time anyways because the custodial supplies needed to be wheeled back to the closet in the high school. He bumbed into Jared on his way back but neither said anything since the hallways were still crowded and Michael was in too much of a hurry for him to do much about the frantic little student. Michael was able to put his foot in the door right before the bell rang. The teacher didn't look up, so he took it he was safe.

Michael sat and took out his English book from his bag and did his best to flatten out the wrinkled sheet of paper.

"Guten Morgen, class," said the teacher. He was a substitute Michael never had before. "My name is John Thomas Hooyer Monosmith."

A girl named Tammy raised her hand. The substitute's eyes swept over him and nodded. "Where's Mrs. Van Roekel?"

"Her car battery froze. From what she's told me she will have it replaced tomorrow," he explained. "In the meantime, there hasn't been much of a schedule today since it's so close to the holidays, although we won't just sit around and do nothing. From he looks of it, you've been working on clauses, right?"

A few heads nodded.

"Okay, so how do people feel if we don't quite have a 'sit around and do nothing day' but we sort of break off from the monotonous threat on grammar for a day?"

A few more heads nodded.

Monosmith walked to the board and wrote "Literary Elements." He repeated it out loud. "Alright, who knows what these are?" Someone in the back groaned.

The answer should have been obvious, but though it seemed familiar Michael couldn't quite touch on it. He raised his hand anyways, deciding to wing it. The teacher gestured at him in the same way he did with Tammy. "Something that makes god writing?"

"You could get more technical, but yes," he said, and wrote that behind the main title.

"Now who could give me an example?"

Tammy held up her hand again. The teacher glanced in her direction but found someone else who hadn't raise their hand. He nodded. When the kid didn't respond, the teacher emphasized his gesture with verbal support. "You."

"Me? Uh, science fiction?"

"No. Anyone else?" said the teacher. Tammy raised her hand higher, looking as eager to jump out of her seat as a baby bird does for a worm, but at the same time retaining a girlish posture like she was at a tea party. Michael shook his head, because he knew she was trying to be a show-off.

"Phrases?" said another person.

"Closer, but not quite there," said the teacher, and he crossed his arms.

"Well how about adjectives," he student persisted.

"That's close too, but you're not nailing anything," he said, seeming disappointed. He looked again in Tammy's direction, but turned away. Michael raised his cautious hand. For some reason, Mr. Monosmith thought that Michael was worth calling on when Tammy was not. "What do you say?"

"Creative words? Like, don't you compare stuff?"

"Often times, you do, yes. Does anyone know what that's called?"

Tammy kept her arm up. Mr. Monosmith sighed. "I know you know, but please don't go on an encyclopedic rant like I would have at your age." He gave a crooked smile.

Tammy coughed, then, blushing she answered, "That would be called a simile."

The substitute wrote that down one the board. "Good. Now, there are several other literary elements that make writing more 'interesting', so to speak. There's metaphors, alliteration, and personification, as well. Overall, the most important thing is the story, and I for one think that some authors overdo the creative language, but without these the story would be lacking.

"Now I want to ask you something else. What do you think makes a good story?"

A girl raised her hand. "The genre?"

"That's true, it makes a difference with some people. But let me ask you something, what if you liked romance but came across a story with a boring relationship or on that you thought was disgusting, or if you don't like science fiction but fall in love with Spock's personality?"

"Well, I guess it's not the only thing."

The substitute chuckled. "Perhaps...perhaps the people in the stories is the most important thing. It's all about the characters. What would the tale of Scrooge be without the old man himself? It's all about who he is and what he goes through to change. That story is about an internal conflict between forces within the character. I think you should all be familiar with this?"

He drew a line of the board that looked something like a line graph that Michael associated with marketing and economics. He recognized what it was, too, and raised his hand along with several others.

"That's a plot line," someone said.

"That's right," said the substitute. "This first part, right here, is the setting. The beginning of the story is always dedicated to establishing the setting in some form or other. Once important things have been established, such as the characters and the world they live in, the story takes direction and the problem is introduced. For example, in the tale of Scrooge you first find out how mean he is to everyone else, then he finds out that he's been too mean when an old friend visits him. From there, this rising slope is called the 'rising action'. It represents the conflicts between two forces in a story growing as certain events take place bringing it closer and closer to a resolve. There can be a lot in here or very little, but this is where the majority of the plot takes place. This peak here is called the climax, and that's when the problem gets resolved. Sometimes you will find yourself rooting for a certain outcome, and that's what can often make a story good or bad, and of course a lot of it has to to with tastes. The rest is the falling action, and then the story concludes. In Romeo and Juliet, this part was where everybody finds out that they died and then made a truce.

"Does this refresh your memory?"

Heads began to nod.

"What often determines whether we like a book or not is our tastes, yes. We might want a story that ends without all the characters dying. Perhaps we might even like a plot line that is somewhat different. For example, a story can also end like this," he erased the falling action. "How many of you have read The Pit and the Pendulum?"

Michael raised his hand. "My sister has."

"Anyone else? No? Okay, well this is an old story where someone gets thrown in jail during the Spanish Inquisition. It describes him getting tortured, long story short, and it ends when all of a sudden he's about to get squeezed to a pulp by those walls that close in on him, which I know you've seen in the movies, but at the very last moment he's pulled out of there. Now Edgar Allen Poe is as wordy as ever and he could spend several pages just describing what it was like to be unconscious, but he ended the story in only one sentence. Snap, you end right at the climax.

"Another thing that we might subconsciously look for is whether or not the story makes sense. A story should follow a logical path, correct? It's like a river, which will take a specific path through the terrain. Some people like to explain this by saying that the story was "unrealistic". This is the reason I don't like Romeo and Juliet. Two people don't just go to a party and fall in love at first sight, then get married a few days later. These were also your age, maybe younger. The story just didn't make sense, and I know that to some degree we all look for that."

Tammy objected. "What if it's science fiction or fantasy?"

"It's not the setting, but the story that needs to be convincing, and above all the characters," explained the substitute. "I appreciate your participation. Anyways, the last thing that often determines whether a story is 'good' or not is whether or not is resonates with some of your outlooks. Perhaps a romance novel will seem to send a message that you do not agree with. How many of your parents have not let you read a certain book?"

Most of the class rose their hands. "Good for your parents. I believe this covers most of what I wanted to say this morning. I suppose we could either spend the rest of the class period writing half a page on what we feel makes good storytelling or we can just stand around talking about stories that we like."

The rest of the class period was spent talking about stories that various people liked.

Since English was his homeroom, Michael came back last period for study hall. He went up to the substitute teacher.

"Mr. Monosmith," said Michael. "My sister in the high school has her study hall at the same time as I do and she uses that time to assist the secretary in the middle school. I was wondering if you could let me go over there and do my homework with her."

The man set aside the sheet of paper he was correcting. Michael recognized by the wrinkles that it was his own. "Does Mrs. Van Roekel usually okay with this?"

"Sometimes," Michael shrugged.

"So I can assume that it depends on her judgment of the situation at hand, in which case if I were to see nothing wrong with my own evaluation of your request then I would be at liberty to judge positive, right?"

Though that went a little over his head, Michael nodded, because he at least understood well enough that it was the right response.

"I'll call the office and ask your sister about this then. What's her name?"

"Nixon Zweifel," said Michael.

"Ah, then that makes you..." Mr. Monosmith picked up a sheet with all the students' names on it. "Michelangelo. Interesting names you have."

"They just call me Michael."

"I can see why," Mr. Monosmith chuckled. He picked up the phone and dialed for the office. Michael could hear him having a brief conversation with his sister, then he hung up. "She says you may come hither. By they way, didn't you say before that she had read The Pit and the Pendulum?"

"Yes," said Michael.

"That's nice. What else does she read?"

"Well, she read Lord of the Rings and To Kill a Mocking Bird. She's reading Les Miserables right now. She likes the classic novels."

Mr. Monosmith leaned forward and gave an engaged smile. "The last one in particular is a hard one to read. It was my mother's favorite. The musical adaptation leaves all other plays in the dust, in my opinion. As for the book, I tried to get into it at your age, but didn't get into it until much later."

"You must like books," said Michael.

"Danke," said Mr. Monosmith. "I cannot live without books. That's a quote by Jefferson. Shakespear said something similar about music and the soul."

"What kind of books do you like?" said Michael, since he was curious.

"Well, the genre doesn't matter, of course, but I don't judge books until after I'm finished. If the ending can make me cry or gives a strong, lasting feeling in the chest, then it was worth reading. Some works in particular would be Harry Potter, The Gift of the Magi..." He drifted off and thought further. "Then there's The Bells, Oh Captain My Captain, the movie Schindler's List, and of course Les Miserables. Then, of course, if there's nothing good to read, I can always get to work on writing my own stories and making them however I like. What do you read? You didn't speak much in class."

"Oh, I don't read much. I work extended hours after school and don't have much spare time," said Michael.

"What would you read if you could?" said Mr. Monosmith.

That was easy. "Adventure."

"That doesn't surprise me, being a boy of your age. Those are always easier to read. Would you consider anything else?"

"Well, whatever my sister's read, I guess," said Michael.

Mr. Monosmith chuckled and stopped leaning forward. "Read the adventure stories first, Michael. It might take a while before you get to the classics. Now you'd better get going, because I thought you wanted study hall with your sister. 'Tis the season to be jolly."

"Yeah, thanks," said Michael, and went.

When he arrived at the office, Nixon was busy with a phone call. She made eye contact with him for a moment before focusing again on the invisible person on the other end of the line. Next to her was a small pile of homework, with Les Miserables and the Bible lying on top of it all like a crown. After the was done with the call, she beckoned Michael over and patted a seat she had pulled up to her own. To Michael's subtle pleasure, it was cushy and had wheels.

"Good news," she said. "None of this is due until after Christmas break. Tomorrow the high school's going to just watch movies and stuff like that."

"Same here," said Michael. "I'd still like your help, though. I don't want Dad to act like he's - "

"Oh, Michael!" said Nixon, exasperated. "Don't go there. Just let me help." She pulled the bag off Michael's back and unzipped it. "What do you want done?"

"Math. I don't want that nagging me over the break."

She pulled out the book, then from her own bag she wielded her handy dandy calculator. Michael could not wait until high school, where he was allowed to use a calculator. Until then, he got away with her sister offering him help through hers. To her, regular math was as simple as counting, and she didn't have a problem with using the calculator to assist him in all his work. Whenever a bigger problem came along, they would use it to sake them a lot of work, but she always made sure that Michael could explain the concepts behind the problems before confirming the answer with it. Still, it was glorious to get away with using such a tool.

High on enthusiasm, he managed to finish his math, giving credit to his sister, of course. It was good to have it out of the way. Nixon then turned to her own homework. "Since you brought it up, I think I'll get my own math out of the way as well."

"It's not due. Can't we talk about anything?" Michael didn't want to spend the rest of the time watching his sister doing her math. That would have been boring.

"Well, I guess I'll only do the first problem," she agreed. When she flipped to her page, the first problem happened to be a set of equations with five variables. Michael's jaw dropped. He had her do these ones before, and she had tried in vain to explain them to him before, but the one thing he remembered was that they were as lengthy as they looked. She looked at the dismay on his face.

"Don't worry, I can do this one on the calculator too. Although, Buddy does give extra credit to anyone who can solve this many equations by hand," she added as if to tease him, then laughed. "Now close your mouth."

With a bit of typing, she had an answer on her calculator and, after a half a minute of waiting, copied it to her paper. She turned to Michael and leaned back into the soft back of her chair in relaxation, which Michael copied.

"I had a substitute today," Michael said.

"I know," she said. "I got the call this morning while you were working. Her car was broken down, and I called Mr. Monosmith. He's always open."

"We all of English talking about stories and stuff like that. He really enjoyed asking people what their favorite books were and asking them what they would do to make what they considered to be an ideal story."

"I can imagine him going through the Socratic method while doing that," she said. "He has to be in my top three substitutes. Most others are boring and don't bring anything new to class."

"Who's your favorite?"

"There was a man who was a former state senator and taught math in my freshman year, ounce. Nobody could beat him," she said with reverence. "Oh, is it that time already?"

The bell rang.

Michael groaned. Jared would come back at him with a vengeance, he knew that. "Nixon, are you staying after school? I don't want to be left behind today."

"Scared of Jared, huh?" she said, mispronouncing "scared" so it formed a rhyme. "I'll stay and do my homework in the commons."

"Is that all? Can't you stand by my side the whole time?"

"That would only provoke him further on and he might hold a grudge for who knows how long, and I can't stay behind every day. Sometimes a friend invites me over or something and...I'm sorry. I do wish I could be always be there for you, I really do."

Michael sighed. He didn't want to push his sister. She was the best friend he had. "That's okay." They walked out of the office and Nixon accompanied him to the closet where he donned his supplies, thereafter she went to sit in the lunch room as he began cleaning nearby rooms. As Michael moved to a different part of the building, she was always in the same general area. Jared walked by her a few times, but did a clear job of avoiding her, as well as Michael. He only acknowledged him once, when he asked him to go fetch a fluorescent lightbulb to help him replace a ceiling light.

It was when he was in the math room that he again saw Buddy, who was listening to rock'n'roll just as he was before. The eccentric math teacher's hands were behind his head, his body reclined, and his eyes closed. Michael walked him and went to clean the room without alerting him.

Nixon popped her head into the room. "Mickey, I have to go now. Mom gave me a call and she needs me to help her with several chores."

Buddy's eyes opened. "Hey, Nixon. Hey Michael."

Nixon waved. "Just so you know, I used the calculator to solve multiple equations for the first time. I'm afraid I broke my promise."

An eyebrow elevated on Buddy's forehead. "That's great. That's one less student who I suspect is secretly trying to impress me."

"By Mickey," she said.

"Bye Nixon," he echoed.

Now conscious of the presence of Michael, Buddy unplugged his headphones. Michael enjoyed the sound of a song he recognized to be by Elvis Presley's for the rest of his time in the room. All the while, Buddy was doing plenty of packing of his own. He started putting the CDs a dictionary-sized leather CD holder, stashing it into a briefcase, followed by a cookbook and a few little trinkets with the school colors on it. Inside the briefcase was a full set of World Book encyclopedias and a dictionary. It was a very large briefcase.

"Do you need any help with that?" said Michael.

"Yeah," said Buddy, sliding a big cardboard box out from underneath the desk. "Help me clean up this desk."

There was plenty on the desk to pack. Michael sorted through some stuff. It was questionable as to how he would pack some of the stuff, considering that some of it was fragile. He could not believe just how random it all was. There was a few more CDs with video games, at least a hundred DVDs, an advent calendar, a suit and several ties, a fedora, an antique family crest shield, a bag with an assortment of different types of candy, an advent calender, a Christmas stocking, a reef, Christmas lights, an American flag, a few autographs, a yearbook, a portrait of him with the math class, and an accordion. Although he was not satisfied with the result, he and Buddy managed to fit it all in the briefcase with the exception of the shield, which Buddy strapped to Michael's back.

"Where did you get all this stuff?" Michael said when they were finished.

"Oh, you know, I just sort of collected it over time," shrugged Buddy. He began pulling off sweaters that had been resting on the chair, then topped it all with a leather, wind-blocking coat. That had to be a dozen now.

"How many sizes do you go through with all those layers?" Michael remarked.

Buddy laughed. "I think they range from medium to XXXL." He then put on three scarves and two ski masks.

"Can you not stand the cold or something?"

Buddy tried to nod, but with all he was wearing it came out a little odd. He then put on a pair of gloves. "Uh, can you helph me phut these on?" He mumbled, pointing to two pairs of socks and wiggling his fingers. As he held out his hands, Michael took them and shoved them on. "Thanks."

Michael tried to retain a laugh, because the teacher at this point was looking ridiculous. Buddy went to one end of the first briefcase and crouched. "I can't lift this myself." Michael went and picked the case up on the other end and, as if they were moving furniture, they went out the door, Buddy first. "To the high school pharking lot."

They edged their way outside of school and were hit by the cold. It was still snowing. Michael had forgotten his coat indoors, but wasn't about to complain about it in the middle of what he was doing. Buddy directed him to a black suburban. They let down the briefcase down behind the back and Buddy opened the door. They heaved the briefcase in the empty backside of the vehicle. Michael unstrapped the shield from his back and set it inside as well.

"Great. Now we get the box," said Buddy, and the went inside and did the same thing again. Before they heaved it in, Michael hopped inside and moved the shield aside, leaning it against the side of the vehicle.

"That's great for you to helph. You saved me a lot of time."

"Your welcome," said Michael.

"Would you like a ride home?" asked Buddy.

"Sorry, but it's only five o'clock. Jared will need me working still."

"Oh, no, you just tell him that you're helphing me. He'll understand. I could use assistance getting this stuff into my home anyways."

Michael liked the idea of that. To get out early from his custodial duties was one thing, to avoid Jared was another, but to hang out with someone after school was something he had only ever done with his sister. "I think that will work. Wait a minute, I have to run inside and get my supplies into the closet."

"Okay, I'll wait," said Buddy.

Michael rushed to the building, then located his stuff in the math room. He wheeled it back to the closet, then removed his coat from its hangar. There was a cigarette burn on it that wasn't there before. Michael groaned. Jared must have taken his anger out on him in a more subtle way than he thought he would.

He sought out Jared and found him in his favorite spot outside the school to sneak a smoke. Jared noticed him. "Did you like the souvenir?"

"Yeah, sure. I'd like to give you one myself," said Michael. He quick explained what Buddy had offered him to do, and before Jared could deny him, he was rushing off.

Back in the parking lot, he found Buddy waiting in the suburban. Michael climbed into the shotgun seat and slammed the door harder than he had to. He took off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair. Buddy turned the key and drove the the vehicle started gliding along.

"Thanks, by the way," Michael said.

"For what?"

"Getting me out of school so early."

"Ah, why not? I figure that during this season it's not going to make much of a difference," said Buddy.

"So what is all of this stuff for?"

"Oh, it's just stuff I collected for fun. Some of the stuff was stuff kids just gave to me over time, which I sort of horded. As for the stuff like the shield, those were bought over the Internet and stuff like that. Some of these were actually early Christmas presents. I believe your sister gave me that one Christmas stocking and the reef."

"Are you looking forward to an tomorrow?"

Buddy paused. "I'm planning on getting a good sleep tonight. Tomorrow's a big day for me." He turned the heater up to its highest degree.

They reached outside of town at a place a mile west of his own house. The lights were already on, and several silhouettes could be seen throughout the windowsills, though the curtains were drawn.

"I have several friends come over to my place tonight," said Buddy. They opened their doors and brought out the suitcase inside. When Buddy got to the door, he knocked it with his boot. A young man wearing some sort of jump suit opened the door. He paused, noticed Michael, then exclaimed, "Buddy!"

In unison, several other people came to the door, crowded around to see the occupied Mr. Booker, all excited to see him. Buddy shouldered his way through them and let Michael in. They rested the suitcase down in the middle of the small crown. Some of them eyes Michael with curiosity.

"Who are you?" someone asked.


"Nice to meet you, Michael," said the man who had opened the door, holding out his hand. Michael took it.

"What kind of suit is that?" said Michael, noticing that most of the people inside Buddy's house wore them.

"It has a build-in heating system in it. It's much easier than wearing twenty layers of clothing," he explained. "But I suppose that Buddy would look weird wearing those to work."

Some people laughed. Some reached out and patted Buddy on the back. Buddy laughed with them. "Well, then maybe you could take the other box into the house. I need to drive Michael to his home."

They went outside, followed by four of the men from the house wearing the jumpsuits, who took out the remaining luggage from the back of the suburban and brought it into the house. They seemed to chatter of what was inside of the box and the person carrying the shield glowed with amusement.

"Jumpsuits, huh?" said Michael.

"Yep," said Buddy.

"They're actually pretty cool. Where do you get those?"

"Internet. Where do you live?"

"You passed my house on the way here. It's a mile east of here."

"Okay," said Buddy. Several minutes later, they were at Michael's house. Sharing their valedictions, Buddy drove off. Michael looked at the window of the building, which were aglow with a yellow light, and an extra car rested in the driveway. It was going to be nice to eat the standard meal and kill time around the house. This was an opportunity he didn't often have.

When he went inside, however, any hopes of having a calm and pleasant afternoon were shattered. He heard voices. Loud voices. One of them belonged to his father, who was as an aggravated lion.

"...will NOT!" said his father.

"Mr. Zweifel, she -"

"How many times do I have to tell you? I will not allow it!"

"Please, sir, put this into perspective. It's a - "

"NO!" bellowed Michael's father. Michael did not dare enter the room. He stayed in the entryway, where he had not been noticed so far. He stood with his back to the wall next to the doorway. The other man sounded like Marco Martinez, a friend of both of his parents.

"At least consider it. We should at least let him know and consider what he wants. It's his uncle's wedding," pleaded Marco.

There was a thumping sound. "Do you think that me, as his father, that I don't know what's best for him? A wedding would be a waste of his time. And Nixon's. No, the date stays the same."

"Nothing happens in January. It can be arranged."

"I am not going to be subject to the whims of that woman. I know my rights. I have no legal obligation to switch, now get off my property!"


There was a silence punctuated only with heavy breathing. After a moment, Marco walked out of the door and passed Michael. His eyes wandered in Michael's direction, but saw through him as if he was a ghost and didn't acknowledge his existence, although Michael knew he had no intention of communicating anything through words, seeming to understand that Michael had overheard a little of the argument. He took his had off the rack and left through the front door. Michael realized he had been holding his breath.

Oh. His aunt's wedding. He didn't know that it was during a weekend where his father had Nixon over.

Michael ducked down and peaked around the door-frame and the level of the floor so that he would be less noticeable. He saw his father's feet next to the kitchen table. Michael looked up to see his father's face. He was scowling and seething.

He crouched next to the doorway, afraid to be in the presence of his father, and waited until eight o


Smart Or Stupid?

Posted by Kragghle , in Wisdom Oct 15 2009 · 38 views
:kaukau: Throughout my life, I've heard people hold up two opposing philosophies. They are:

People are smarter than you give them credit for.

People are stupid.

The funny thing is, it seems that everybody believes in both at the same time. There aren't too many exceptions. One day people are smart and the next they're stupid. It's odd. There's not much I have to say on this, other than that it's peculiar.

It must just be one of those unexplainable behaviors of humans, who are illogical in nature. Good thing I'm half Vulcan.

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh


The Last Teletubby

Posted by Kragghle , in Humor Oct 08 2009 · 62 views
:kaukau: I couldn't resist.

Tinky Winky
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Laa Laa
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Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh


Plato's Cave Theory - Do We Exist?

Posted by Kragghle , in Wisdom, School Sep 30 2009 · 118 views

When I was a young kid, the question on whether what I saw was real was sometimes on my mind. There were several theories that I invented. One of them was that each and every moment I live my memory is being wiped out and replaced with a new one. Another was that I was some sort of being that was having a very long, very convincing dream. There was the possibility that I was the only person who existed. There was the chance that every individual was part of one master mind, just representing different trains of thought. The most mind boggling idea was that consciousness itself was an illusion.

Looking at Plato's Cave Theory, I am reminded of those childhood thoughts. The fundamental question is, "how can we be sure that what we perceive exists?" It starts off as an analogy where people live in a cave all their lives, chained in such a way that they cannot move or turn their heads. The only thing they ever knew were the shadows cast against the wall by a light source coming behind them. Their world is only the several feet between the tip of their nose and the rocky wall. It's all that was ever real. If introduced to the real world, they would reject it. The sun would hurt their eyes, and it would be too much for them. They would turn back to their world of shadows.

We come up with perceptions of reality. Perhaps someone's perception can be completely different from another's, and not just in terms of opinions. What can be yellow to one may be green to another. How am I to know how another perceives the colors I see? There are more extreme cases. Someone might imagine people who aren't there. Are these people insane? How can we be sure that what we think we are experiencing is actually happening? Are we dreaming or hooked up to a virtual reality program? What's real and what's illusion?

What we believe is based off of facts that we gather. The problem is, we can have all the facts to support something, in this case the perception of the world we live in, but there is the factor of uncertainty. What if there is something we can't see or one of the "facts" that we were presented with is faulty? There's no way of telling. All we can to is acknowledge a little doubt.

What I can say is that I believe we aren't all living in fantasy worlds created by deluded minds and talking to people who aren't there. My logic won't dismiss the possibility that we are human batteries being harvested by intelligent robots, though. One of the things that the ancient Greek philosophers all believed was that the universe has order and sense. The mind of the human being serves logical functions, and what sort of logical function is it to make up false perceptions of the world around us, denying the purpose of the five senses fed to the brain? Why would the brain do something like that to itself, unless it had a disorder? It's counter-intuitive. It hinders the mind from making proper and healthy judgments. Therefore, I somehow doubt that we are all in false realities due to mental conditions that come naturally to us.

Then one could argue that perhaps we were turned away from reality from the beginning of our lives and have adjusted to our false worlds because we can't adapt to reality, so there's still doubt.

Can we ever be sure of what we perceive to be reality? No, we sure can't. In the meantime, what would we do about it anyways? Neo could have never known that he was living inside the Matrix if he wasn't informed. He couldn't have found himself out of it himself, either.

Unless we know for sure that we live in Plato's Cave, why bother thinking about it? My logic tells me to go with the conclusion that is supported by more evidence, so so far my life as I know it has had all the evidence in the world as opposed to the possibility of it being an illusion, which has none.

:kaukau: This is a one-page essay I wrote for a class of mine. Chances are, I'll be rambling off something different by tomorrow. :P

Since I'm on the subject, I sort of let slip to the teacher yesterday that I had a blog. He took a sticky note pad off his desk and threw it to me. "Write the address down."

The image of him reading this blog is very awkward.

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh


Tod Vor Augen

Posted by Kragghle , in Art, School Sep 28 2009 · 61 views
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:kaukau: This is a drawing I did in painting class. I call it a drawing, the teacher calls it a painting. This was made from these weird little things called "water color pencils", in which you draw with a color pencil and then paint over it with a wet brush so that it looks slightly different in the end. I don't know why we did something like this in painting. It doesn't even use any skills used in painting.

The theme that we were drawing to was Georgia O'Keefe. She's known for her flowers, but I got the teacher on a technicality that Georgia also did paintings of bones, thus I could go about doing something interesting, like this. I'm much more accustomed to drawing facial portraits, and this worked enough as one.

Okay, I'll be the first to admit, the blue in the background was an eyesore. What was I thinking? It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now...I really should have gone with brown around the corners.

By the way, here's what the picture looked like before it was watered over.

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh


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Username: Emperor Kraggh
Real name: N/A
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Heritage: Half Dutch, 25% Hungarian, 12.5% Swedish, 6.25% German and Irish
Physical description: Looks like the eleventh Doctor
Favorite food: Chicken, turkey, and beef.
Least favorite food: Vegetables of any kind
Favorite band: Queen
Favorite singer: Billy Joel
Favorite song: American Pie
Favorite movie: Schindler's List
Favorite TV show: Smallville & Arthur the Friendly Aardvark
Favorite play: Les Miserables
Favorite color: Silver
Second favorite color: Brown
Favorite board game: Risk
Favorite athlete: Michael Phelps
Lucky Number: 53
Past-times: Writing, reading, politics, drawing
Political party: Republican
Religion: Christian
Language: Not English, but American.

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