Vote CLOSED: best of the best

This is the list of people with perfect word scores. Vote for the one you like best!
Email only. Voting opens now, closes at midnight tonight. IT"S CLOSED NOW



Here is the list of those that were disqualified for word count.
Popular (bordering on frightening!) demand is to have a "best of the DQ" winner:
Send me an email with your choice. Email votes only.
Voting opens now and closes at midnight tonight. IT"S CLOSED NOW


What Made Me Stop Reading Your Query Letter Today

Miss Snark is deep into her slush pile today. Herewith some choice morsels:

1. I want you to publish my novel

2. Having read your website carefully, I think you are just the right agent for my (insert category that is listed on the "what we don't do" side of things).

3. I just finished my novel/my novel is almost done.

4. I published this myself and sold x copies and now I want a crack at a big publisher.

5. Everyone tells me I'm a born storyteller and I should write a book, so I did!

6. Dear Submissions Department

7. Impactful. I'll give you a pass on "safety deposit box"; but impactful is not a word and if you think it is, I don't want to work with you.

8. I'll call to follow up/I'll have my assistant call to follow up. If you do, you and/or your assistant is going to get a very puzzled response. Don't call to follow up on query letters. Ever. WRITE to follow up. No exceptions. Even email.


Braille rights

I was contacted by a school for blind children (this is a significantly sized school in a major city) to read one of my short stories. (Of course I said absolutely!) They have asked for a hard copy of this story as they wish to have it made into Braille for the students library. No money will be exchanged, I would be doing this for the children. The story is not published, yet if I ever wanted to publish would this cause a conflict? My initial thought is no, this is an apple vs. oranges situation. However, I wanted your advice before I proceeded.

There won't be a problem as far as I know. Braille licensing rights are pretty much always given to the publisher and no royalty accrues to the author. The author gets royalties for large print and audio but not Braille. I'm not sure why other than Braille existed long before audio did.

If you ever sell this story, make sure you tell your agent so the clause about Braille rights can be amended.

Do not just hand over the manuscript either. You need a contract and a dollar. I don't suspect them of chicanery but I like to have things written down. It assists me greatly if I have to sue vultures for their carrionon later.

Word Count Disqualifications

Well, it's true, I missed some.

In answer to "how did you do this" the answer is clearly "late at night or early in the morning" when I clearly was not too chipper. (actually Miss Snark is never chipper...more like she was more snarly than usual).

If you run a word count on an entry and it's over 500, and there's nothing that says disqualified in red at the bottom of the entry, let me know and I'll run the count again.

The One Great Scorer is still silent but there is rumbling in the west. Either Killer Yapp needs a quick walk or OGS is on the move.

Miss Snark Eyes the Bottom Line

The Media Bistro newsfeed provides Miss Snark with a GREAT fundraising idea:

Jared Paul Stern, a freelance gossip columnist, is under investigation by the FBI for an extortion attempt involving billionaire Ron Burkle. Stern allegedly demanded $100,000 from Burkle, plus a regular stipend of $10,000, to not write any damaging stories about the supermarket magnate.

NYP: Sources close to the investigation say the FBI has been investigating for two weeks and has Stern on video and audiotapes.

NYDN: On Monday, Stern emailed instructions to a designated Burkle employee for a $100,000 down payment to be wired to his New York City bank account, and during the week sent more emails wondering where his money was.

FBNY: Burkle rumored to be one of the possible investors for Radar's third launch.

NYT: "Should the allegations prove true," Post EIC Col Allan said, "Mr. Stern's conduct would be morally and journalistically reprehensible, a gross abuse of privilege, and in violation of the New York Post's standards and ethics."

No kidding.

Now, if only I'd emailed Bat Segundo BEFORE the contest for a little hush money!!
A day late, and truly a dollar short.
Miss Snark retires to her counting house to dream up new schemes.

Contest word count

A word about word count.
There are some heartbreakers...disqualified for 501 leaps to mind.
A couple at 503, 507 etc.

A helfpful Snarkling wrote in to say that there was a study on word count discrepencies. A 400 count document was submitted to a wide range of word programs. Word count ranged from 386 to 408

Program/Version/Platform Words


Adobe Frame Maker 5.0, 5.5 404

Adobe Page Maker 6.5 400

IBM Translation Manager 2.0.1 386

Lotus Word Pro/Ami Pro 400

MS Word 2.0c 400

MS Word 5.0 DOS 400

MS Word 5.1/5.1a Mac 404

MS Word 6.0 Mac 400
(this is Miss Snark's program)

MS Word 6.0/a/b/c 400

MS Word 7.0 400

MS Word 8.0 400

Nisus 4.1 400

QuarkXPress 4.0 386

Quicknotes 399

TexEdit 2.0.5 Mac 402

Textcount 408

Trados 1.15 402

Word Perfect Spellchecker Mac 402

Word Perfect 2.1.4 Mac 408

Word Perfect 3.0/3.1/3.5e Mac (spell checker counts 387)

Word Perfect 4.2 386

Word Perfect 5.0 404

Word Perfect 5.1 DOS 386

Word Perfect 6.0 400
(this is my back up program)

Word Perfect 6.0a 402

Word Perfect 6.1 400

Word Perfect 8.0 400

Wordstar 7.0b de (7.0d en) 386

So, what does a smart Snarkling take away from this? If you're entering a contest, don't send "exactly 500 words" to a 500 max word contest. Send 450. Or even 475 in a pinch. Give yourself some margin for program count discrepencies.

When I got something that was close (501, 503) I hand checked the words to make sure it's didn't count as two, and formatting hadn't rendered it it,s and thus counted as tw0. I counted twice, once in my usual word and once in my back up word programs. I can tell you without a doubt that if you send work to places that run contests, chances are no one is going to do that. It will just be delete delete delete.

I never stopped to think about discrepencies in word programs before. Had you?


Miss Snark is recovering from the complete novel she read this week: 111 entries x 500 words!

The One Great Scorer is in hiding, drooling, muttering "kill the snark, kill the snark", somewhere Out There.

We were pretty tough on the scoring part. If you had bunions instead of bunion-no dice. Same for will o' the wisp instead of will of the wisp. Capitalized Snark did count for snark, but galley cat didn't count for galleycat.

Like I said...harsh, mean and clearly Out To Get You. But then...where's the fun in being nice??

Results to come this weekend.

Bat Segundo...never far from our thoughts

The latest installment of The Bat Segundo Show, a literary podcast featuring interviews with today's contemporary writers, is now up.

Show #29 runs 44 minutes and 36 seconds long and features Jay McInerney, author of The Good Life.

The main Segundo site can be found here

Here are the details for this week's show.

[AUDIO NOTE: At one point, the conversation was interrupted by a vacuum. It only appears for about a minute and we’ve filtered most of it out. But just so you know.]

I knew it! Once word of that bisexual vacuum cleaner got out the press would be all over it...so to speak.

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Furious and defensive, defending himself against the acrimonious charges from Miss Snark

uh oh.



"Your mother wears Army boot."

Those words never bothered me as a child. I probably saw more humor in the comment than those who used it because I knew it was true. The boots themselves weren't funny, it was the sound they made as she goose stepped her willowy body around the library where she worked that played in my head like the second feature at an all-night drive-in.

Army boots defined dear old Mom. With the precision of a drill sergeant, she had my brothers and I prancing around like a pack of promenading poodles. If one of us were to muddle along, she would say things like, "a terrapin could move faster", or if she was really pissed, "drop everything and give me ten... books". It seemed that she always found something to snark about.

Living up to her expectations was tough. Not living up to them was tougher. She took pride in her disciplinary teaching style, and found many ways to help us understand what was expected. We called it bending to the will of the wisp. I remember once instance, although I don't recall the incident that provoked her wrath, when she told me I was "like a bunion on her ass". Being the well-read, intelligent kid I was, I calmly and arrogantly explained that bunions afflicted the big toe, not the derriere. She and her Army boot proved me both right and wrong.

Growing up under the heel, and in front of the toe, of an Army boot will cause you to either develop calluses or a sense of humor. I felt it had developed my razor-like wit. Mother did not agree. She often told me I was no Oscar Wilde or Bat Segundo. I often wondered if Segundo played for the Yankees or the Red Sox but was afraid to ask. Anyway, she was wrong about me being funny. There are thousands of rodeo fans that will back me up. There is nothing like the life of a rodeo clown ... the roar of greasepaint, the smell of the crowd. There is nothing like it.

It's a shame that mother never experienced my fame, not that she would have gone anywhere near a rodeo. But she could have read about it. Like a Bunion On My Ass: The Story of a Rodeo Clown is sitting at number seven and it got a mention on galleycat. She would have finally been proud of me.

I'm the one who wears the boots now, even if they are rubber. I will always remember those old, leather Army boots of my mother's; the way they sounded, the way they stung, and the way they swung from the end of an old rope the day she retired.

yeeehaw! Miss Snark looks for her cowgirl hat!

Scoring to come.


Nitwit of the Day

Miss Snark in a fit of madness elected to email everyone who sent in a contest entry saying the entry had been received and which number it was.

Imagine her surprise when this came back:

I apologize for this automatic reply to your email.

To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders who are already in my Address Book.

If you would like to be added to my Address Book,
please fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I
approve you, I will receive your original message in my inbox. You
do not need to resend your message. I apologize for this one-time

Well, let's see. You send in a contest entry. You think you might hear back?
What if this was something that MATTERED??
I've yapped about this before; if you send something to an agent, list the email you send to in your address book. You look like a nitwit if I get this. Save your nitwittery for people who are clueless--not YOU!!!


La La La La La La La!!

Lah lah lah lah lah lah lah

La alalalalalalala

The choir of heavenly voices of the literary angel-agents wove its way along the will o' the wisp to the great Snark above, the Galleycat of all who hope and dream and scheme to muddle along"

"Cherubim and Seraphim, Terrapin and Bunion

Which were and will be

Ever words to work with"

AHHHHHmennnnn""and women, too"."

Head Galleycat Snark shot the glare of doom around the assembled snarklings.

"NITWITS!" she shrieked. She rolled her eyes to KY, strutting proudly in his pick tam among the defeated.

"Drop everything and give me ten ...books" she bellowed "Snarkling wanna-bees and just plain Nitta Wittas surrounded her, like a passel of promenading poodles. Some actually dropped and toss her books. Some tossed their cookies.

One timid but prolific snarkling reaches into the depths of her soul, gathering the strength of her muse and projects above the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd:

"Oh Great One! I hold in my repertoire of tired colloquialisms and over-used and much abused phrases"the one and the only key to Mr Clooney's room!! Stand Back!! Make Way!! Bat Segundo!!"

The Great Snark looks over her cheaters and blinks, several times "The choir of angel-agents halted their anthem, and silence descended upon the world.

She clears her throat. Clearly, this is a struggle "Does she ignore the key to Paradise? Or does she accept the key to Mr. Clooney's room, publicly acknowledging this snark-wannabee has what she wants and DOES NOT HAVE??????

ARRGGHHH!! Snark reaches out and snatches the key from the snarkling's grip. The snarkling smirks, prematurely overconfident in her progress.

She turns away, only to be booted into the Gin Pail by the stiletto of Snark .

"Hah!" growls Snark. "And your mother wears Army boots!" And the Great Galleycat, the Snark of all Snarkolicious, brushes the non-existent dust from her stilettos as she sips from the pail o' Gin with her trusted ally.

The anthem continues".la la la la la la la"..

Yanno (tm) when Miss Snark imagines going to Her Reward in the Sky..this isn't quite what she thinks of. Isn't one lifetime of being an agent enough? How long must Miss Snark suffer??

Scoring to come.



"Miss Snark. You called; you talk,"the beautiful agent answered.

"It's you! I knew it! Don't worry, I won't tell anyone." It was a man's voice. It didn't sound like George. At all.

"How did you get this number?"

"Listen! I'm going to make you rich! I've listened to everything Bat Segundo has ever said, I took a three-day class over at Galleycat, and I've read almost the whole front page of your blog! The best thing is, I have a great idea for a book! It's your lucky day!"

"Oh dog." She threw back a shot of gin and whimpered. If she hung up, he'd just call back. Killer Yap nuzzled her hand sympathetically.

"It came to me while I was sitting out back watching the will of the wisp and filing my bunions,"he continued.

"How nice."

"I know! I was just sitting there scraping, taking in the smell of the swamp when it dawned on me! "Promenading Poodles and Killer Turtles From Space"! Isn‚t that brilliant! And I know you like poodles, so we couldn't possibly be a better match!"

"Possibly... Look, I don't take science fiction, so..."

"I know! I totally read your blog! But this is the perfect break-in title for you. Oh, and while we're on the subject of your blog, what's up with the green header and orange titles? That's so 2005. But I could help you muddle through that. We could trade! I'll set your blog up and give you 5% when you sell my book. You gotta admit, that's a sweet deal. So what do you say? Should I start writing?"

Miss Snark threw back another shot of gin. She had to find a way to close, lock, and seal the door between them forever. She scratched Killer Yap behind his ears and took a deep breath.

"Here's what I want you to do,"she said. "First, drop everything and give me ten... books. Dancing canines and murderous terrapin are the perfect break-in to science fiction, but one book won't do it. We'll need a series."


"You're obviously brilliant,"she continued. "If we're going to sell this series, we'll have to do it right and I can't sell it until it's all written. Science fiction tends to be wordy, so each of the ten books must be at least 200,000 words. Got that?"

"Got it."

"Good, so once you've got that all done, you'll edit them thoroughly, then write a ten page, single-spaced synopsis for each book. Zip it up in a file with a query letter and send it to this address: u.r.a.n.i.t.w.i.t at w.t.f. dot com. You got that?"

"...f dot com... Got it!"

"Good, because I rarely take phone queries. You probably missed that page of the blog."


"So you're not going to call here again. We're going to handle all further business through email."


"Great! I think we're going to have a fantastic relationship. Get busy!"


Miss Snark thumbs through her OED for "doppelganger".

Scoring to come.


Bat Segundo straddled the brightly painted terrapin on the carousel. His target Lolita Snark, oblivious to being tailed, laughed heartily at something her companion whispered. The two of them were kicking up their well-heeled feet on the pink promenading poodles in front of Bat. He would be glad to get off the mind-bending carousel. The roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd confused his senses. Bat sighed as the carousel came to a screeching halt. His quarry stepped off the ride. He stood and grimaced. The bunion on his left big toe ached. He was sure it would burst if he wasn't careful.

Fortunately, his target and her friend were not in any rush and had made their way to the cotton candy kiosk. He got in line behind them and heard Lolita tell her friend the punch line to the joke he hadn't heard: Drop and give me ten... books! The friend laughed as if that was the funniest thing she'd heard in years. Bat didn't get it, but that didn't matter. Getting his target mattered, not getting her jokes. After they paid for their pink cotton candy, they turned away from Bat. He hurried after them and heard Lolita's companion finish a joke of her own by saying, "Your mother wears Army boots!" Lolita's deep laugh told Bat that she had gotten the joke. Good for her, Bat thought, my mother wore Army boots, too.

The pair of women locked arms and moved to the front of the next ride, Will of the Wisp. Bat was neither eager nor hesitant to get on. As the line grew shorter, Bat realized he'd made a mistake. The Galleycat, the next boat in line, seated six. Bat would have to ride with Lolita. What a muddle! He thought about aborting the plan, but he had to get his target. He could let the next two people behind him go ahead, but then he might lose Lolita. His decision was made for him as the line pushed forward, and Bat was seated right next to the woman herself. It was then he knew this would be his only shot.

The boat lurched forward. Lolita and her friend laughed as the first spray of water hit them all. Bat had been on the ride before and remembered there was a perfect spot to make his hit. With as little fanfare as possible, Bat pulled the weapon out of his pocket and waited. The Galleycat wound its way around a bend and the clanking of a skeleton's bell echoed off the water. Lolita grabbed Bat's knee as the boat took a fast turn. Bat feigned surprise and patted her on the back, leaving his mark on her back.

Bat smiled as the Galleycat's ride ended. He let Lolita Snark and her companion leave. He watched them walk away and admired his handiwork: "Tag You're It!"

Miss Snark was getting a tad nervous there thinking she was about ready to the be corpse in the story!

Score to come!


The vacuum rattles and hums its familiar too-loud chorus of "there goes a penny, there goes the pewter terrapin earring, Baby's first tooth, George Clooney's direct number, dog hair, cracker crumbs, ticket stub to Rabbitania, snark you-was that a dessicated bunion I just sucked up?!"

The vacuum chokes and dies, and you drop to the floor ready to unsnarl the muddle because after all, even though you wear stilettos your mother wears Army boots and you feel a familial obligation. But as you lean into the burning-rubber cloud billowing from the downed appliance, you flash on your pal, Galleycat, and wish you'd followed his lead and stayed upright in the chair with a pencil and paper because your suddenly spasming back muscles feel as if promenading poodles are, yanno, promenading across your backside. And as you lie there facedown, poodle hairs tickling your deviated septum, you could swear you hear and feel the roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd, and you rally.

But even with your MFA mentor's voice shouting "Drop everything and give me ten ... books," you cannot move.

So you grimace and bite your lower lip, raising yourself to your elbows shouting to the ghost of the still-alive Julie Andrews:
A flibbertijibbet,
A will of the wisp,
A clown.

And miraculously, the pain vanishes.

You stand, upright and confident, on deck and ready to Bat Segundo.

The roar of the crowd melts into the vacuum's hum.

When Miss Snark says "suck it up" some people just take it literally.

Scores to come


Mike rotated several cards sideways, then put another from his hand on the table.
"I play Promenading Poodles. It destroys your Giant Terrapin when it hits the table."

Nick scowled and swept the Giant Terrapin into his discard pile. Mike smirked and passed the turn. Nick drew a card from the top of his deck, furrowed his eyebrows, and passed the turn back to Mike.

"You're getting screwed," Mike taunted. "I'd tell you your mother wears Army Boots, but your playing is insulting enough."

"Lucky for you Ma was in the infantry," Nick muttered, waiting for the move he thought Mike would make. Then it came.

"I play Will of the Wisp so I can search for a card," Mike said.

"Don't think so," Nick replied, revealing a card. "I'll counter with Muddle the Muck."

"Fine," Mike replied disgustedly. "I'll just drop Huge Galleycat."

"That it?" Nick replied. He could feel sweat beading on his forehead, hear the roar of the greasepaint, smell the smell of the crowd, and could still through it all only vaguely wonder if his clammy hands was causing the ink on his cards to run. He knew the stakes for the game. The winner would receive an exclusive Bat Segundo podcast. The loser-- Nick didn't want to lose.

"Yeah," Mike replied. "I'm done."

"Well then," Nick grinned, drawing a card, "I play Paul Bunion."

"Shouldn't that be spelled 'Bunyan?'"

"I thought it was funnier this way. Shouldn't you have spelled it out instead of saying the word though?"

"What's it matter? This is written dialogue being read off a computer screen!"

"Mike, quit breaking the fourth wall!" Nick shouted. "You're not supposed to know we exist for the sole purpose of a writing contest."

"Yeah, well you know also," Mike said.

"Yeah, whatever," Nick replied. "Just go already."

"I believe I will. Now why don't you drop everything and give me ten... books!" Mike proclaimed, laying ten book tokens out on the table.

"Quit showboating," Nick said.

"It only gets worse," Mike said, rotating most of his cards sideways. "I'm coming at you with everything."

"Bring it," Nick seethed, flipping several cards in his hands, picking one out and getting ready.

"I'm still coming at you with everything," Mike said, grinning.

"I'll stop your Galleycat with Paul Bunion."

"That should still be 'Bunyan'."

"We already talked about that. And you should be spelling it out instead of just saying it. And watch where you put your punctuation."

"It's not my fault!" Mike protested. "The guy writing this isn't sure where it should go with the single and double quotes!"

"Whatever. I get to draw a card, though," Nick said, pulling one off his deck and grinning. "I play 'Snark of the Damned' for the win."

"That doesn't do what I think it does, does it?" Mike asked, suddenly worried.

"Oh it does ... you lose!" Nick announced, looking at Mike's smoldering corpse. "I can't believe they make a card that actually kills the opponent.

Miss Snark checks to make sure all her cards are not only off the table, they are shuffled off to Buffalo.

Score to come


I looked over at my mom and smiled as the show began. El Bat Segundo led the other mimes on stage like a line of promenading poodles. In certain circles this guy was famous the world over, and his strut showed it. In the excitement of the moment there was an inaudible roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd intensifying in expectation. Not my first choice of shows, but following orders comes naturally when your mother wears combat boots. It didn't matter that she now wore bunions instead and was built like a wisp. You do not snark at the will of the wisp. It just isn't done.

Admittedly, she's not all grit and steel. Exhibit A to that effect was currently bounding around onstage. Mom is quirky. She had nicknames for us kids while we were growing up like "Galleycat", "K.P. Doodle", "Trench Monsters" and "Recruit A-Z" (depending on how pissed off she was at that moment). For every moment she'd get fed up and yell "Drop and give me twenty!", there'd be days she'd come home and say, "Drop and give me ten ... books!" On those occasions, my brother and I would rush to fill her lap, and no matter what the evening plans had been, she'd read every last one.

It was the real reason we loved her more than anything on this earth, and followed her every order. It was the real reason I let her drag me out of my muddled apartment, and am sitting here on vacation with her now. Today it was greasepaint and drums. Tomorrow it would be a boat tour to see the diamondback terrapins. On the drive home we have a date to go see the Painting Pig of Pittsburgh. Everyone has their own way of meeting with life. This was hers, and she was bound and determined to take me with her.

Miss Snark is afraid to ask, but posts her courage to the sticky place and asks: what the HECK is a Painting Pig?

Scores to come.


It all started last October. She was sitting at her computer reading galleycat. She didn't hear a thing, but suddenly she saw a bright light, so she looked out her window. Bentley, her main squeeze, was standing in the midst of an ethereal fog, screaming like a fool. But before she could get there, he was sucked into the will of the wisp and disappeared.

She said it was a UFO. But no one believed her. We all figured that she beat him to death with that cast iron pan she hangs over her stove and buried him in the back yard. But we couldn't prove it.

Nothing was the same after that. She wasted a lot of time on the Internet throwing back antidepressants like Halloween candy. In between bottles of Bali Hai, she sent email messages to UFO sites asking if anyone had seen Bentley.

Like anyone believed his body would ever turn up.

The next couple of months were a muddle. Everyone in town talked about her. Some said she'd become addicted to Miss Snark and that this had driven her crazy. Others said it was the pet terrapin in the koi pond with whom she was known to converse. Someone even said that it could be that the bunion on her right foot had finally driven her mad because what woman in her right mind could live without a pair of Steve Madden? But really, no one knew for sure.

There were whispers that she had gone over the edge, like when you stand on the precipice of a cliff and consider what it might feel like to hit the bottom after falling about five hundred feet. She had contemplated it, I'm sure. But there weren't any cliffs in E-Ville, so it wasn't likely that she'd jump.

It wasn't until the pharmacy clerk, some dimwitted half-brain said, "Your mother wears Army boots," as he handed her the bottle of Prozac that she lost it. She stormed out of that store, drove to the local pound, picked up a few strays and sported those damned promenading poodles in public, like she was telling us all to stick it you know where.

As she stood in the town square, you could hear the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd, which was something akin to fresh blood if you're into that kind of thing. Everyone packed in around her but she held them back with her vicious dogs, and made the sign of the cross with her arms. We were all scared. And then out of the blue she yelled, ‘Drop everything and give me ten ... books.’”

Well, what happened next was more horrifying than Bat Segundo show number 28, I'll tell you that. I never liked her. I hated her. And that's why I was the one who broke through the crowd. I was the one who took her on. I was the one who finally did something about it. I was the one who

ohhh...heartbreaker: Disqualified for word count; 501!!!!


"Oh evil, Macbeth, thou are a mere bunion of my foot," dear Lady Macbeth dost sayeth, while twisting a will of the wisp betwixt her future bloodied fingers.

Macbeth, the once and future leader, the king terrapin of his Scotland if you will, snarked his eyes toward the glimmer of the lake. The day was vile underneath cloak of sun and temperate climate, and the Mrs. irritated him to the point of self-mutilation.

"But murder is the muddle of all time," he responded with a cataclysmic-sort of sigh, and then he bit the inside of his cheeks to keep his tongue from further clacking against them.

"I shall write it out for you then, and leave the galleycat upon the quilts of your bed: the bed I am no longer a part of." She stood and swished her skirts back toward the castle, leaving Macbeth to wonder what she was talking about and if she'd meant to say, "alley cat."

There's a lot to be said for brevity.

Scoring to come.


Lydia woke to a muddle of sounds. Asleep at the desk again! The roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd of promenading poodles from her dream mingled disappointingly with the crackly familiarity of Terrapin Station on her ipod. She waddled over to the espresso machine, bunions chiming, then eased back into the Chair of Judgment.

"Channel the Snark," she told herself again. "You ARE the Snark."

It didn't work. It never did.

She checked out galleycat and Bat Segundo, to make sure she hadn't missed anything. She hadn't.

"What I need," she thought," Are a few good writers. OK, even one. One good writer would make my day." She sighed, and clicked gmail.

"OK, Drop everything and give me ten ...books."

"Dear agent,

"Perhaps you've heard people talk about the Next Big Thing. Perhaps you've always secretly hoped to be the very person to discover it? Well sir, today is your day."

I'm a girl, doofus.

"I have decided to dispense with the formality of a query, and have sent you all 97 chapters of my oeuvre, Will of the Wisp. Will is an ordinary guy who works by day in a fast food place but writes wildly popular fan fiction and incognito love letters by night. My story builds to a climax in chapter 14 in which Will, on the point of confessing his authorship of the letters he's been writing to another man's crush, is suddenly whisked out of his Mazda Miata and carried off to the planet of the Wisp, who discovered his fan fiction tomes during his nightly podcast readings. They loved his stories so much that they brought him back home to Wisp in the hopes of using advanced tissue culture meiosis to permit him to read his stories in ten part harmony on WWISP radio. I can feel your pulse racing already at the very idea. Do you find me cruel, and wonder that I would send you such a dastardly cliffhanger?"

"That's not all I'm wondering about."

Never fear, my little agent friend."

"Yah, your mother wears Army boots."

"In consideration for your eyes dulled by dozens of terrible and doubtless handwritten manuscripts, I have also taken the liberty of sending my file in yellow 48 point text, to ease your suffering. I have also ordered that a masseur be sent to your office to rub your feet as you read, and a maid who will serve you tea as you scroll through the pages.


Just call me Will.

PS. Please find Will of the Wisp attached. Download shouldn't take more than an hour."

Lydia sat back and sighed. The intercom buzzed.

"Lydia, there's this guy down here who says.."

"Go ahead and send him up," said Lydia. "My bunions are twinkling in anticipation."

She pushed from her mind all thoughts of beverages other than tea, and turned her "What would Miss Snark Do" plaque to the wall. Then she opened the attachment.

This is hilarious. And I want one of those plaques!

This was counted wrong the first time. As far as I can tell, I forgot to take OUT my comments before I counted. Yes, Miss Snark is officially Nitwit of the Day.

Scoring to come


She stood in the lagoon, tipping to one side as she atempted to alleviate the burn of her bunion in the cool water. Casting her line she hoped to hook a halibut, but each cast headed off course due to the will of the wisp of every one of the wind’s gusts. She was determined not to lose to the wind in the Great Halibut Hunt fishing contest.

Suddenly her line jerked and she chirped with glee earning her glares from her opponents and some spectators who spewed a few snark filled comments. None more hate filled than those from the disheveled greasy man with the patch of suntan lotion on his nose who was sitting in the stands. But with every inch of line she reeled in, her excitement grew. She had visions of a first place plastic halibut trophy. She could see anger in the eyes of the obese man at
the thought of a little woman winning such a manly tournament.

As she pulled the winner from the ocean, the evidence began to muddle her brain. For there was no monstrous halibut hanging on the line, but a thoroughly offended terrapin caught with a hook through his stubby tail.

She cast a quick glance toward the stands; which were set up like the inside of a large vessel complete with galley, to see if any eyes were on her and her embarrassing haul. He held a hotdog in each hand over his head in triumph and laughed. Her foil, the most disgusting of those watching, the nastiest galleycat trying to rile up any other onlookers.

She was mortified and furious and wanted revenge. She headed quickly to the shore with pole and turtle in tow. Making a beeline toward the fat man, she could feel herself starting to channel Bat Segundo as nasty notions and crass quips began to flood her brain. Drop everything and give me ten...books; was the main thing coming through, but even in her fury she knew it made no sense.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw the judges scurrying over, like promenading poodles trying to pounce through the sand. She knew she had to hurry to beat them to the pig of a man stuffing half a hotdog into his mouth, grinning through his mustard covered lips as she approahed.

The crowd gathered, looking expectantly at what was about to unfold before them. The other contestants paused their fish luring to see what would happen.

When she was two feet from his face she saw the suntan lotion made him look like an overstuffed clown. Words flew from her before she could stop herself, "your mother wears Army boots!" She dropped the terrapin at his feet and turned to walk back to the lagoon as the turtle went for the fat man?s toe. The applause from the bystanders was loud as she reveled in the roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd, and the whining of the judges.

Disqualified for word count: 502. Let me know if I'm wrong.


"Come see the will-o-the-wisp," Chauncey's mother called from where she sat in front of a computer with her foot propped up on a stool. She had an ugly bunion on her toe and was drinking sweet tea with vodka and lemon in it to deaden the pain. She called the drink an ice pick.

His mother looked back at the computer screen where he saw the words "Bat Segundo." She typed in "Galley Cat" and went somewhere else to read about writers. He thought how cool it'd be to write a good story and have her find it on the internet. She said something about a snark on the computer that would steal all her private information.

He looked out the window and saw a pale light over the marsh. It called him out. He needed some private time to think of words and begin composing a story. He kept thinking the words that described that strange light wrong, "Will of the wisp, will of the wisp," because there was a skinny girl named Irene whom he loved that everyone called "The Wisp" and she stubbornly refused to kiss him. His friends told him it was time he got a piece, but he just wanted to kiss her.

A piece. Everything sounded like something else. He took some lettuce from the fridge and gave it to his diamondback terrapin turtle. He stepped out with a notebook and headed toward the marsh with his dog, Jazz, following, thinking of the yellow tom cat that kept sneaking up under the house at night and wailing, and of the importance of a good batting order.

The pale light was way out there over the marsh, like the future. One day he'd be at a Braves game. He could sense the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd.

Luke came up out of some trees and ruined his concentration. "What you dreaming about now? You should be working on building up your muscles."

"Oh piss," Chauncey said. "What do you want, Luke?"

The storm had taken out Luke's house and he lived with his family in a tent. "We'll muddle through," Luke's mother was always saying. "It'll take a while, but we'll get there."

Luke thought he'd survived the storm to become every boy's coach.

"Drop down and give me ten..." He frowned, "Books? What books you got there?"

"I'm going to write a story for my mother."

"A story for your mother? Are you kidding me?"

"I don't feel like explaining myself to a boy who wants to marry his mother."

"Shut up. That was a long time ago when I was little."

"Sick is what it was."

"Shut up. Your mother wears Army boots."

"So what if she does?"

He was imagining a story for Jazz. In it were promenading poodles with pretty banana and apple colored bows in their silver curls. They were out there under that light in the marsh, waiting for Jazz to come along and dance.

Miss Snark retires to the kitchen to compose an ice pick!

Score to come.



"Paddy! Drop everything and give me ten books."

Paddy popped a greenback into his hand. "What's this for?"

"Oi found a cheap terrapist."

"You need a little terrapin'?"

"Yep. Me 'ead's in a bit of a muddle."

"Why's t'at Mick?"

"Oi found out me mother's a stripper."

"T'at little will of the wisp? But your mother wears Army boots."

"Yeah, she's got bunions!"

"Guess you'd 'ave to if you got bunions. Where she workin'?"

"It's a gay bar called Bat Segundo. They worked the boots into the act. She strips to Macho Macho Man."

"A gay bar you say. But she can't need the money."

He shrugged. Gulped the last of his double Cutty Snark. "She has pompoms on her tits. Bounces'm around like a pair of promenading poodles. She's got all the instincts of a galleycat."

Paddy shook his head. "Guess there's nuttin' like the roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd."

"I guess it's 'cos they're all stoned on Blarney."

They sighed. "Well I gotta go , Mick. I got a field of four leaf clover to harvest. Good luck with t'terrapist."

"T'anks Paddy."

Miss Snark consults her trusty NFT for the location of Bat Segundo, gay bar.
This is a night for promenading poodle tassle twirling if ever there was one!

Scores to come.


I don't know why the girls in middle school are so mean to me. You'd think they'd like a circus kid. I mean, everybody loves circuses, right? The roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd. The trapeze artists, the jugglers, the promenading poodles in pink tutus. Maybe it's because they expected me to be funny, like my dad the clown, or lithe and flexible like my mom the contortionist. Unfortunately I was more like my pet cat, Galleycat-chubby and furry with whiskers. Mom and Dad said it was some latent circus people gene.

"Hey Catgirl,"Monica Myers yelled at me across the science room. "Your mother wears Army boots!"The other girls snickered. Monica is such a snark. It was too bad I didn't have claws.

I looked up from feeding the class terrapin. "So what? She's patriotic. And she has bunions from walking the trapeze.”

The girls laughed at me again. Luckily, that's when Mr. Segundo walked in. I doodled my teacher's name all over my notebook all different ways. Mr. Segundo. Mr. Bat Segundo. Mr. B. Segundo.

"Ms. Jefferies?"I heard him calling my name. Oh, no. Everyone was staring at me. What a muddle.

"Ms. Jefferies, it is clear that you haven't been listening. Drop everything and give me ten . . . books.”

I felt tears welling in my eyes and a hairball rising in my throat. My hopes of being Teacher's Pet were now nothing but will of the wisp.

Miss Snark reaches for her lace hankie to wipe away a tear!
Scoring to come.


Miss Snark sighed and stopped to rub her eyes. This was the poorest excuse for a synopsis she had seen in years. She considered quitting as soon as she saw that the heroine was a librarian, an amateur detective and an award-winning yodeler -how original- but she reminded herself sternly that she was reading this particular submission for a good cause. Red pen flashing, she absently corrected 'will of the wisp' to 'will-o'-the-wisp' and 'galleycat' to 'alleycat'.

Crossing her elegant ankles, she glanced again at the query letter. Yes, she thought in annoyance, a border of promenading poodles certainly shouts 'serious writer!' to me.

George entered the room behind her. "Drop everything and give me ten...books," he teased, kissing her earlobe.

Miss Snark smiled slightly at his weak joke, but perked up when she noticed the gin pail in his hand. George gently set the pail beside her chair and cast an admiring glance at her feet.

"I don't understand how you can wear stilettos every day without getting bunions," he remarked, settling into a chair.

"Genetic good fortune and sheer force of will," she replied. "Now don't distract me or I will never get through this dreck."

"That bad?" he asked, wincing at the dark look on her face. He resolved to tell his cousin Wendy that he couldn't help her with her manuscript after all.

Miss Snark turned to the first pages of the manuscript and fought the urge to throw the entire muddle out of the window. "Let's see. We open with seven charming paragraphs devoted to the heroine's beloved pet terrapin. Then we enjoy a nun trading insults with said heroine, culminating in the Sister shouting: 'Your mother wears Army boots!' But my favorite is a description of a landscape that actually ends 'etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.'"

George leaned back and looked wistful. "Ah, Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd. We did it in high school. I made a wonderful Sir. Did I ever tell you”?"

Miss Snark gave him a look that quickly quelled his tangent.

George leaned over to kiss her hand. "Sweetheart. You shouldn't have to put up with this. I don't care if this guy does own 80% of Bombay Sapphire - a nitwit is a nitwit. Come on, let's go to bed. I think Bat Segundo has a new podcast out."

Ever the professional, Miss Snark left the pages beside the fire for Killer Yap. He might want to add some notes.

As she followed George into the bedroom, a smile on her lips, she decided that Mr. Segundo and his show could wait until tomorrow.

Slush pile porn..who could have dreamed?
Miss Snark rings for a cool compress and cabana boys to wave fronds in her overheated direction.

Scoring to come


Bat Segundo and the Poodle of Doom

You know it is going to be a bad day when you find yourself waiting in the veterinary surgery, next to Bat Segundo. I mean, veterinary waiting rooms are not the most relaxing places to start with. But there's Bat with his parrot, and me with my terrapin, and on the other side of me this tiny little will of the wisp grandmother with the most enormous cat that ever wasn't diagnosed as a Puma.

Still, I thought, perhaps this wasn't so bad. Keep myself to myself, and nobody gets hurt.

Then Bat's parrot started talking. I'll leave the worst to your imagination.

"Your mother wears Army boots,"it screeched at its most polite.

The promenading poodles in the hallway went berserk, getting their leads in a muddle and their owners in a snark. The mega-cat leapt off the old lady, who hobbled off in pursuit, alternately calling "Galleycat, come back,"and "Oh, my poor bunion!”

The place was a circus, complete with the roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd - the whole nightmare.

Poodles, cats, birds, a couple of guinea pigs, some guy's python - everything was running loose. Everything except the fish in the tank a kid was holding, and my own tortoise. I couldn't let my darling get run over, so I plunked her in the fish tank.

I grabbed a passing poodle leash, and tied it to a chair. I threw a jacket over the razor claws of the cat, rolled it up and returned it to its owner. The guinea pigs were easy - I pulled the potted plant away from the wall, they ran into the dark space behind it, and there they hid. Two more poodles and a snake later, there was only the trouble-making parrot left on the loose.

The parrot was perched up above the window. Bat Segundo was looking more helpless than I could have imagined. I looked around the room, but there wasn't a chair to climb on that didn't have a poodle attached. I needed some height, and I needed it before the parrot went out the window.

I fixed BS with a steely glare.

"Drop everything and give me ten... books,"I ordered.

He did, in record time. I piled the books up, good fat hardcover veterinary texts they were. Fortunately.

So there I was, thinking myself a hero, and waiting for the thanks to come flooding in. And then I saw what I'd failed to see during the commotion.

My terrapin had eaten the kid's fish. The kid had thrown the terrapin onto a chair. The terrapin had crawled onto the poodle tied to that chair and, in a state of fear, made a nasty mess on the poodle's rather stylish outfit. The poodle looked extremely displeased... and his leash had worked loose.

The poodle was wearing a pink tam.

There is only one.

I grabbed my tortoise and ran, with Killer Yap in elegant yet vengeful pursuit.

Oh dear dog, the idea of terrapin poo on KY's elegant 'do ....
Miss Snark shields the screen from KY's inquiring eyes!

Scoring to come!


The Hunting of the Salinger

Evil sits at the end of the bar. The restaurant attached to the bar, or the other way around if you're sober, is too muddled with wait-staff tripping over themselves for anyone to have noticed. She's normal-looking, maybe beautiful to the right person, but not to me. I've chased Beatrice Segundo, for ten years now. I'd be damned if I fell for the harlot who'd forgotten to return ten library books.

I'm a private eye with a soft spot for public libraries. Beatrice "Bat" Segundo's days of literature-despising laziness has come to an end, sharp as a stiletto heel. I get up from my end of the bar to collect. It wasn't just a book. It was the pride of the library, The Catcher in the Rye. Besides she had nine others. No respect.

Barely standing, a waiter pushes me back onto my stool. It was a classy joint but the service sucked.

"May I help you," he asks forcing a French accent.

"No," I say. He ignores me.

"Today's specials include steamed terrapin in..."

"Terrapin? Like the turtle?" I interrupt.

"A turtle," he says.

"What kind of place is this?" The waiter follows my eyes around the room.

"It's French," he says. Bastard.

"Can you come back in five-maybe-ten years?" My sarcasm wipes the fake accent off his blatantly German face, and he walks away. I make sure he's gone, pocket a fork, and head towards the she-devil.

I dance my way past barstools and promenading poodles, neo-Franco-gentry trying to impress each other. They're slow and obnoxious turtle-haters to me, and do little to impact my way. I sneak up behind Bat and poke my fork into her side. I make like it's a gun. Hopefully she'll buy in.

"You're nothing but a glitch in the system baby, a snark," I say careful not to snarl as I speak. "I don't want to cause a scene..."

"No scene? I'm not the one poking you in the back with a fork." She's smart for a galleycat, and prettier upon closer inspection. She wore her overcoat too tightly, so that it burst out from the synched belt. A light flickers above her and goes out; the will o' the wisp dies.

"You're the bunion on the big toe of mother civilization Bat." She looks unbothered. "Everyone sees how twisted and scarlet you are." Her hair is scarlet.

"Not if your mother wears army boots," she says. "what do you want from me?"

"Drop everything and give me ten..." she looks confused, "books."

"They're at my place. I'll go get 'em for yah." She smells damn good. How could I refuse? I nod and she walks out. I yell at her that I'll wait here. I'm sure she doesn't hear me over the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd. Tony Bennett sings "Who can I turn to" as she closes the door behind her, and I turn to no one.

Library noir! My dog, we have a whole new genre!
I must call up Akashic Books and alert them at ONCE.

Scoring to come


Ass's Fate

The donkey watched the promenading poodles from the roof. Nobody wondered how the donkey got on the roof, or indeed even noticed, because all the village folk were busily watching the fiftieth annual canine march in front of the Galleycat Inn. Even the donkey was not entirely sure how he came to be on that rooftop, and try as he might, he couldn't fight the muddle of his donkey mind to find out.

Something zipped past him, a misplaced will of the wisp, and he turned lazily to look at it. It hovered in front of him, a taunting phosphorescent light. It bobbed patiently and after a number of moments he took a hesitating step toward the light. As he did, the wisp bobbed backward. The donkey took another step, and it became clear that the donkey was to follow the spectre.

He walked for a long while. A very long while. Even longer than the time he had to haul a load of Bat Segundo for the nutty caravan leader who swore that it was the secret ingredient in his terrapin soup. That was the same man who had yelled "Roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd!" as if it were a curse. The donkey had not much enjoyed that stint of employment.

By the time the light stopped bobbing, the donkey could no longer hear the canine march. At that startling realization, he looked down, and saw he was not on the roof of the inn. He stood on sand. He looked up again, and seeming about as panicked as a donkey is able, saw more sand as far as his donkey eyes could see. He turned desperately to the will of the wisp, and let out a shocked bray as it blinked out and left him alone in the desert.

"Hello little donkey," a deep and resonant voice spoke behind him.

He turned, faster than he'd moved since he was bitten by a snark. Recovered from his sudden movement, the donkey realized that the voice was not the voice as a man as he had assumed, but the voice of a large lizard.

"I was turned this way by an evil warlock," it said. "He was a cruel man, and I was his servant. He would catch me reading his magic books and he would cry 'drop everything and give me ten... books are not for the likes of you!' and one day he turned me to this."
The donkey nodded his big head and glanced the lizardÂ's toe, wondering if the swelling indicated he suffered a lizard's bunion. The donkey's eyes went wide, and he realized this was the moment he'd waited his entire life for. Nobody knew the donkey could speak, and indeed he knew only the five words of the secret code he had been taught: "Your mother wears Army boots" he said with a slight donkey accent. With that, the lizard turned into a beautiful ass: his true love.

Does a donkey accent sound kinda braytish?

Scoring to come


I'm not sure how it all started. Midlife crisis? Boredom? Muddle through every day until all the days seem the same. Finally doing something crazy knowing crazy's not a good fit for a psychiatrist. I'm the one who's supposed to dispense good solid advice, not snark sergeant-like "Your mother wears Army boots and needs them to kick your thick ass. Drop and give me ten ... books of psychiatry so I can beat myself in the head for ever getting in this profession."

I was treating middle-aged boring folks, week after week with the same age-old problem - their Mummy and Daddy. Their progress was slower than a terrapin with a bunion on a jaunt to the local liquor store. I snapped. I contacted a PR firm and sarcastically told them to do a broad based ad campaign stating "I treat circus clowns." I repainted my office in Barnum & Bailey red and gold, dangling gold tassels from the blind pulls.

I was putting the finishing touches on the gold trim when my phone rang and a man identifying himself as "Bat Segundo." He wanted an appointment immediately. I was still splashing around in the paint but I told him to come on over and bring his hurdy gurdy. I wasn't prepared for what I saw when Bat greeted me at my office door. He was a clown. A real clown, greasepaint and all, wearing a comical grey bat costume with flippity wings sewn onto his back. I gestured for him to sit, if he could, in a drop cloth covered chair. I sat down behind my desk. "So, where's Bat Primero?" I asked sarcastically.

"Mi padre? Es El Problemo." Bat spoke with a thick Hispanic accent.

I nodded. Same old shit, just a different clown.

"Mi padre owns our circus de familia. I love circus. I love the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd but lately I do not have the will of wisp for eet. I want to change promenade and mi padre say 'no.'"

"Promenade?" I asked lost.

"Opener weeth todos los animales. I want to put in galleycat."

I sighed and cut to the chase, mainly because I had left the lid off the enamel. "Look, you can't 'put in galleycat'. You can't herd alley cats or make them walk in a line. Pick a trainable domestic animal and I'm sure your Daddy will reconsider." We talked - sort of - and came up with promenading poodles. I snagged the color charts off my credenza that I had been using. I suggested colors in vegetable dyes to make the dogs a little more circusy. Bat chose lavender for the poodles' torsos, blue for their ears and orange for their head and tail poms. Then he was gone. And then there was circus-land word of mouth. Now any given day, you can find a variety of clowns in my honking waiting room. They are waiting their turn to speak to me, The Clown Psychiatrist.

Miss Snark is glad her mental health does not need professional attention.
Killer Yapp is rethinking his plan to run away and join the circus.

Scoring to come.


A Piscatorial Tale

He was a whippoorwill, a will of the wisp, a wisp of the wind, held back only by his odd rocking gate, caused by a bunion the size of a grape. Despite it all, he fancied himself a prize catch, a galleycat, a real ladies man.

His other flaws, if he were to list them: a terrapin-like beak of a nose, a turtlish coloring, and fishy breath. And yet he persisted, this fishy-man with his sealish walk, his green eyes. If there is love, then love will be his, and she comes to him in the form of a sharkish librarian full of snark, razor sharp wit and long, lonely nights.

He approaches her cooingly with the words, "Drop everything and give me ten...books," a quick flick of his turtle tongue.

Not usually at a loss for words, the sharkish snark finds herself relying on bad '80s sitcom dialogue. Her response, "Your mother wears Army boots." She circles one black eye on the turtle man, and like the killer Orca at Ocean world, in his rasp she hears the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd. She trembles at the fish smell of him, at the spell cast by his green eyes. As she leans into him, a pile of returned books topples off the counter and an avalanche of misplaced verbiage lands square on the fish man's bunion.

"!Bat Segundo!" he cries, and his spell is complete, for who else could know our snarky librarian also has a passion for all things vampire. Her Anne Rice to his Jacques Cousteau, they gaze and admire, banter and sigh, two lost hearts recognizing in each other the missing piece.

All that is left is for them to walk off into the sunset, two prickly souls smoothed by love, transformed and reborn in each others eyes, now a pair of purebreds, bluebloods, promenading poodles circling each other into the happily-ever-after.

Miss Snark has seen hell, and it's a man with fish breath taking Mr. Clooney's rightful place in the sunset perambulations. "Misplaced verbiage" is perfect however!

Scoring to come.


He looked down at his foot in disgust. His bunion surgery, while quick, had left him swathed in a hard plaster cast for the next two months. His foot reminded him of the terrapin's shell, though thinking about turtles brought his mind back to the zoo and how it had all come apart for him that night in the monkey cage. He knew that he ought not to act too snarky when the police arrived to question him but he wasn't sure he could contain himself. Here he was, thirty years old with a neon yellow cast picked out by his son. The world couldn't look any bleaker.

His name was Jack Perkins and his thoughts were one big muddled mess. Only twenty-four hours earlier he had been on top of the world and now his life seemed to be spiraling out of control. He looked down fondly at his nine year old son.

"You're not going to leave me are you Timmy?" He asked softly.

"Of course not papa," Timmy said, "But when is Mom coming home?"

"You're mother is following the breeze son. The will of the wisp they call it."

"So she's not ever coming back?" Timmy asked in his innocent voice.

"Your mother wears army boots now Timmy. The day she comes back to town you'll see promenading poodles on Main Street."

Perkins winced in pain as he shifted his weight to his good foot. He tried to maintain a smile for his son's sake but knew he couldn't hold up the façade much longer.

"Did mommy really join the army?" Timmy asked.

"No son. I'm afraid she's wearing those army boots to fit in better with those lesbians."

"Mammy's a lesbian? What's that?"

"You'll find out when you're older Timmy. Right now I just want to sit back with a beer and listen to Bat Segundo."

"But I don't understand. Why are the policemen here?" Timmy asked.

"They are?" Perkins rose with a start. "Those bastards."

There was a heavy knock on the door and Perkins hobbled over to open it. When he did he found himself face to face with two of Gatlinburg's finest.

"We're here to take you in Jack." The older of two said.

"There's nothing I can do?" Perkins pleaded.

The younger cop sneered. "Yeah, you could drop down and give me ten ... books! Your books are on fire!"

Perkins spun around and instantly knew he'd been tricked. Books? He'd never learned how to read. That's how he ended up in the monkey cage to begin with. He swore under his breath as the handcuffs were applied.

"You're taking my daddy?" Timmy asked.

"Yes son. His galleycatting days of rousting monkeys are over. You'll be fine son."

"But where will I live?" Timmy asked reasonably.

"Dale Earnhardt Jr. is adopting you Timmy. And believe me when you're out watching your new dad on the racetrack with the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd you'll know why."

Ok, I'm sure there's an in-joke here somewhere, but we all know Miss Snark has no idea who Dale Earnhardt is...junior or senior. Now, Dale Carnegie..him we know. He's the guy who wins friends and influences people on his way to 56th Street.

Scoring to come.


"Chili, drop everything and give me ten...books!" Hotdog yelled. They could snark at each other later. Right now the future of the planet depended on working as a team. Chili didn't look up from his ipod.

"Your mother's a smarmy snoot," he muttered, too engrossed in Bat Segundo's antics to pay attention.

"It's 'your mother wears Army boots' you nitwit." Hotdog kept his leg wedged in the bookstore door, holding it open despite the crush of bodies flowing down the street that threatened to close it, sealing them inside.

Chili could muddle anything. Actions. Words. It didn't matter. Leave it to Chili and the world was doomed. But Hotdog wasn't giving up without a fight. There had to be a way to stop this madness, to return the street outside to the paradise of blue-haired ladies and promenading poodles it had always been.

"Give me books!"Hotdog's leg was going numb. He couldn't feel his bunion anymore. A small benefit, but he wouldn't be able to hold out much longer.

Chili's eyes never left the iPod. He laughed at something Bat Segundo was saying, while he groped along the bookcase behind him with one hand.

"You're mom got the name right," Chili mumbled. "Hotdog fits. The roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd. Drama king. "His hand closed on a book and he raised it above his head.

"You stupid Hinkypunk. That's a signed edition of Harry Potter. Choose another!"

"You're the frickin‚ will of the wisp." Chili set the book down with haste and reverence, his eyes still glued to his iPod. He fished out another, a thick reference tome, and lobed it in Hotdog's direction.

"It's will-o'-the-wisp, Einstein! It's the smell of greasepaint, the roar...Ow!" The book struck Hotdog's nose. He caught it anyway. Blood spattered the title: Terrapins, Turtles, and Terrain." An appropriate volume to save the planet. He'd only get one shot today. He'd have to make it a good one.

He shoved open the door, flinging bodies helter-skelter across the street to slam into tree trunks and storefronts with satisfying smacks and squashes. Taking careful aim at the hideous creature coming down the street, he released his missile. It hurtled through the air, pages fluttering, and thudded against the monster's hard-shell dome. The monster lost control of its bike, crashing into a hedge.

"Got him! Five o'clock. The world is safe again!"Hotdog grabbed his time card, punched out, and headed for the back door. "See ya, Chili."

Will Smith stuck his helmeted head inside the bookstore "That alley cat gone?"

"Galleycat gone. Shot out of here like a canyon." Chili switched off his iPod. Bat's show was over. "Left with a muddy blows this time."

Will frowned, working that one out. "Bloody nose?"

"Yay." Chili grinned and made a throwing motion. "I been practicing. You workin‚ 'til nine?"

"Gotta. Need the money. Bike repairs."

"Yay." Chili clocked out. "Another day, another holler."

Saving the world in less than 500 words!

Scoring to come


I opened one eye and noticed Skeezix yawning in the corner of my library, sucking my oxygen when he should have been dusting my books. Even from my lounger, I could see they were filthy. I cleared my throat. Within moments, my red-faced butler bent over me like a praying

'And what is the will of the wisp'' he asked. The faker. He was one of those promenading poodles that pranced when the judges were watching, but slurped their balls when they thought they had privacy.

'I'm anything but a wisp,' I said. 'I'm a walrus, stuffed with so much of your terrapin soup that flesh ripples from my bones.'

'Hardly, madam,' Skeezix said.

Nonetheless, he stepped backward, probably fearing another stroke from Bat Segundo, my walking stick. Naughty me, I enjoyed spooking Skeezix, who'd served me since the day I won him in a poker game from that dimwitted Duchess of York.

'Don't contradict me, Skeezix. I pay you too much to endure your snark. The pounds I've gained are torturing my bunion.'

'Shall I massage it, madam''

Ah, the look I loved so much, a combination of eagerness and horror. I would inject him with Botox myself if I thought I could preserve it for all time.

'Do my feet horrify you, Skeezix' I do have rather long toes.'

'No, madam. They are ' elegant.'

'Good,' I said. 'I command you to drop everything, and give me ten ''

Skeezix blanched, no doubt thinking of the time I had him lick my gnarled toes when I was in a particular mood. He pressed his fingertips together, as if in prayer. I let the silence linger a moment, sucking the moment like a lemondrop.

'Books,' I said finally. 'Drop everything and give me ten books.'

'Mysteries, perhaps''

'The day I read one of those is the day your mother wears army boots,' I said. A witty line, I thought, considering Skeezix's mother lost her feet years ago in an escalator accident.

He loaded a silver tray with a variety of books, taking care to avoid the mysteries section my late husband had amassed before he succombed to poisoning by arsenic. The man simply couldn't resist a powered-sugar tea cookie. He spent his last days in a muddle, calling our
pointy-eared schnauzer 'galleycat,' and muttering tonelessly about the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd. Perhaps his rotting mind had transported him to one of those dreadful American basketball games. Damn Yankees.

I selected a romance with a bare-chested man on the cover and leaned into my lounger.

'I've changed my mind about the foot massage, Skeezix.'

My toes clattered like dropped marbles beneath his strong hands. Had I the power to decide when I'd breathe my last, I would not have minded going then, with an airbrushed Fabio in my hands, and a cowering butler at my feet.

I closed my eyes and dreamed ' if I recall correctly -- of musclebound men and terrapin soup.

That powdered sugar tea cookie is looking better every second.

Scoring to come


The Painters

"This color is bunion ugly." Chuck rolled dark green paint on the white wall.

"The lady said she likes terrapin."

Chuck snickered. "I like Mexican food but you don't see tacos on my wall."

Howie rolled his eyes. He worked with an idiot. "I went to Miss Snark's website last night."

"For hot galleycat porn?" Chuck perked up at the prospect of other things spicy.

"No. Whatever the hell that is." When Chuck opened his mouth, Howie quickly held up a hand. "Don't tell me. Anyway, she happens to be a literary agent. I'm writing a book called The Muddle of Bat Segundo."

Chuck scratched his butt leaving green splotches on his white pants that looked like mutant boogers. "That's as queer as promenading poodles!"

"Oh yeah? Well, your mother wears Army boots," Howie retorted disappointed he couldn't think of a better comeback. Maybe next time. He was up pretty late last night working on his bestseller.

After a few minutes of silence, Chuck jabbed Howie in the ribs. "Is that snark chick like Hot?"

Howie looked around to make sure the homeowner was out of earshot. He didn't need Chuck getting him into trouble again. "I have this fantasy where she holds a glass of gin, presses her sharp stiletto against my chest real hard, and says, 'Drop everything and give me ten ... books, stud.' Then she licks--"

"Books!" Chuck interrupted with a loud bellow. He raised his arms and paint dripped like chunks of moldy cheese on the plastic tarp. "You got a hot chick and she wants you to give her books. Talk about lame-O. She'd want me to drop everything and give her--"

Howie was grateful when the sound of a woman humming stopped Chuck before he could unveil his twisted fantasy.

Chuck cleared his throat. "Writing is for wimps. I'll take the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd any old day. Broadway is where it's happening, dude."

Howie sighed. He loved Broadway too. "I wrote a play called The Will of the Wisp about a painter who dreams of making it on Broadway." He wasn't sure how Chuck thought there would be any plays without writers but whatever. The guy was clueless.

"That sounds like me. Dude, I could totally star in it." Excited, Chuck puffed up his scrawny chest like a rooster. "Everyone tells me I look just like George Clooney except I'm more handsome."

"Yeah," Howie replied dryly, "and I write just like Stephen King."

"So it's a freaking scary play?"

"Are you starring in it?" Howie raised an eyebrow.

"Totally, dude."

"Yep, it'll be freaking scary all right."

Galleycat porn featuring Miss Snark in her heels? Where is that bus to Boise when you need it?

Scoring to come



We are leeches, the roar of greasepaint, the smell of the crowd maurauding our senses, as we search for the next best thing. Mother, a purple character at the best of times, was in bed with the galleycat, to the tune of the promenading poodles who were carrying their leash hopefully around and around... never give up, the poor little buggers. Through the keyhole, I could see the bunion on her foot. The man in a bizarre mask was reciting Shakespeare over her naked body and in competition with the dogs grr-ing My father rarely came home. Busyness calls, he liked to say. When I told the housekeeper about the bedroom terrapin, she was hooked onto the Bat Segundo podcast. She unplugged and said, "Your mother wears Army boots." I was in a muddle till I realized that she was talking about foot deformities.

"Define snark." The housekeeper was staring into space, tapping a pencil to her uneven teeth. Even she imagines herself a writer, putting down horrendous tales of bisexual vacuum cleaners. "Visually," I replied, "a Snark must resemble either a Mobius strip or a time-eating ouroboros. Or maybe it’s like that third-eye fucked-perspective illustration of a tuning fork with three prongs or two depending on how you look at it." I did not know then that in the next month, my mother would be dead, and that I would receive all her unpublished books.

bisexual vacuum cleaners...the latest tool for serial scrubbers.
Miss Snark looks out the window to see what planet she's on..yes, Rabbitania home sweet home.

Scoring to come


He clutched the small box in his sweaty hands, careful not to cover the air holes. This was his first time at a Bat Segundo and he had no idea what a twelve year-old Jewish girl would be expecting as a gift. He hoped the terrapin would be appropriate, he always liked getting them himself, and it hadn't cost an arm and a leg either.

The surprise invitation had been a godsend, a chance to mingle with members of the exclusive cult, an amazing list of Hollywood A-listers attracted to the fold by the teachings of its obscure Mexican mystic.

A week ago it seemed his Hollywood dream was dead - the proceeds from the sale of his last dog-eared Will of the Wisp comic book gone to buy a ticket home. If he didn't
get a break tonight he would be on the bus for Boise in the morning, or maybe he would just throw himself under it.

It had taken him a while to find the turtle, elbowing through the muddle of Rodeo Drive boutiques, gawking at the packs of promenading poodles and their stylish owners as they cruised the crowded sidewalks. If he could option his book he might have a chance with women like that - a slightly older one who knew what she was doing maybe, or
one with a slight drinking problem who might not notice his lack of prowess or a premature ejaculation now and then.

He had burned some bridges at the Portable Malasada Company today. Three years of frustration as the swing-shift galleycat, going from cart to cart emptying out the grease traps, had exploded into rage when they refused to pay his accrued vacation. Well, they definitely had a slippery mess on their hands now.

He usually reveled in the throbbing of his enormous bunion, it reminded him he was alive, but tonight it was forgotten, replaced by the excruciating pain of the social gathering. There was no use being here unless he started to mingle.

He recognized an aging actress, she had been the staff snark at the nursing-home in "Whence They Came", cancelled for over a decade now.

"Do you ever miss the roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd?", he said as he sidled up to her, grinning like a lunatic.

"What planet are you from?"

"We moved around a lot. My mom's in the JAG Corps."

"Your mother wears Army boots?"

Well he was certainly tired of hearing that. He stood there in silence, defeated, having no idea how to approach the high-rollers that filled the room.

"Drop everything and give me ten...books, screenplays ...I don't care", came the distinctive voice of Hollywood's hottest actor, cutting through the ring of producers pressing three-deep around him. "Send me something, anything, that will stay with me for awhile, something hard and tough with some meat on it!"

"Anyone here have a turtle?" yelled the bald producer to the room, his abrasive voice rising over the raucous laughter of his peers.

Disqualified for word count: 502. It's under the bus for Boise for sure now, sorry.


A private collector in New York had promised $10,000 for a breeding pair of the elusive diamondback terrapin, but so far the crew had found nothing but rotting wood and river reeds. The marshes gleamed with the full moon and little tendrils of mist curled upwards like a will of the wisp. "This is alligator country," George whispered as he and Harry hauled another net on deck.

The rope slipped and sliced through the bunion on his right thumb. George yelped and kicked out and the boat lurched sideways violently. "Watch it!" Harry hissed as he pulled the net with a final effort and dumped it into the shallow basin.

Downstairs the captain's gin pail tottered and fell to the floor with a thud, spilling the sweet alcohol everywhere. The galleycat dozing in the corner yowled and looked aggrieved. Seeing no one to blame, she curled back up and resumed her dreams, a hazy muddle of flying fish and promenading poodles.

George closed his eyes and wished he were home in bed. His idea of a good time was reading a good book, not fishing in a swamp in the middle of the night.

This load was heavier than the others but it was only a pair of old boots. Harry thrust them at George with a snigger: "Your mother wears Army boots." George frowned and pressed his torn thumb against his lip.

"Oy! Cut the snark and get on with it," the captain snapped. George looked at her as she started climbing through the hatch. A plump woman in her mid forties with a grey crew cut, she emphasised her squareness with thick-rimmed glasses and a long shirt over comfortable pants. She wore a grubby pair of old Reeboks rather than army boots but Harry's comment still stung.

George's mother had always been different. If she had just been gay it might have been okay but she was mostly asexual. She didn't even make her living in a normal way. The other boys at his New England prep school had mothers with glamorous jobs like charity fundraiser or literary agent, but George's mother was a faux eco-warrior. In reality she was an illegal poacher and the Everglades were a regular haunt, where there were rich pickings in rare orchids and the occasional terrapin. When it was her turn to have George for the holidays she always dragged him with her. 'It's not like Dad doesn't pay her enough alimony,' he thought bitterly, suppressing the flickering thought that to his mother he was just cargo that doesn't pay its way.

The boys flinched as a roar came from beneath the deck. The captain had discovered the upturned gin pail. She reappeared on deck with a grimace. "We're aborting the mission. Drop everything and give me ten... books. I have an interview with Bat Segundo tomorrow and if I can't talk about terrapins, it'll have to be books. George, I need you."

Miss Snark looks up "faux eco warrior" in the classifieds to contemplate a career change after this contest.

Scoring to come.


Paul Bunion was bored. He'd been in the circus for about ten months, training promenading poodles, but it was getting boring. Besides, he'd started to get this weird feeling the people weren't coming to see the poodles. He didn't know why they kept coming. He just knew it wasn't because of Bat Segundo, the trapeze artist. And he was tired of the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd, and the people who threw terrapins. Those shells really hurt.

He sighed. His head was all in a muddle, and he just didn't know what to do. "Hey, Bunion. Phone."

Bunion picked up. "Hello?"

"Bunion. Your mother wears Army boots, and I want it to stop." A mystery voice says.

After a few seconds, Bunion remembers that Army boots‚ is the newest cool phrase for being a stupidly stubborn disciplinarian. "Um, what?"

"Look, it's me. The galleycat. You know, the weird one your parents brought home last fall?"

Bunion blinked. Truth be told, he didn't remember that. But he had a kind heart, so he lied, "Yes."

"Great. Look, she's threatening to include me in the will of the Wisp family and have me entombed to keep their dead dog company. The only way out is if you head to library school and become an author."

Bunion wasn't really sure what happened next, but he ended up out of the circus and in library school in a week. All the literary agents were pacing in front of the large group of them, looking closely and separating out some people on occasion to head to a different group.

Finally, only ten of them were left in the last group. They were approached by one of the literary agents. Following closely behind her was a poodle in a pink tam.

"Okay. Every year I get stuck with the nitwits, and you just happen to be this years crop. The name's Snark. Miss Snark. And this," She said, pointing at the poodle, "Is Killer Yapp."

"Sup." The poodle said, bouncing forward. Then Killer Yapp, hereby known as K.Y., singled out Bunion. "I don't like your looks. Drop everything and give me ten ... books."

Miss Snark wasn't given that name for being a lily-growing granny. Every day she'd charge in howling at them. K.Y. helped. Unfortunately for Bunion, he was quickly labeled as the class Nitwit and was a strong contender for Nitwit of the year. Every day Miss. Snark came at him, determined to drill into him that an S.A.S.E. was a requirement of the course.

Finally, he had it with her. Using those skills picked up at the circus, he lured away K.Y. and trained him to promenade. He spent his entire winter break teaching K.Y. tricks with the pink tam and a whip.

Upon his return, Miss Snark was furious. He was almost kicked out of the school, but something more devious was decided. At graduation that year, poor Paul Bunion was fatally shot with the clue gun.

Oh KY loves this one the most so far!
Poodle rap! Two pack lives!

Score to come


"My sweet librarian gruntling, was that an attempt at sophistication?" She stroked the side of his face as she spoke, and I smiled, waiting for the eruption. "I assure you, you're no GalleyCat! Now drop everything and give me ten...books!" Newspapers scattering, the recruit had already been halfway to the floor before Catherine completed her order. The sudden change in direction as he headed for the stacks made me suspect I'd find him in the infirmary tomorrow with a pulled bunion.

I appreciated the way Catherine handled the recruits. No subtle snark from her, just in-your-face abuse. Rare moments of tenderness were a sure sign of impending doom for the recipient.

"And you, don't stand around with your thumb up your ascot. Pick up those newspapers and get them ready for the binder!"

I chuckled as I watched her work. A classic DI. Every good leader knew to let his chiefs do the heavy lifting, and I fancied myself a good leader. Tucked into a comfortable chair on the balcony with a warm cup of terrapin soup, I allowed my commanding presence to be felt by the grunts below. That was enough. Catherine would handle the rest. Her skill and thoroughness gave me time to reminisce about my glory days on the bodypaint circuit. The roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd... (Florescent paints and four-day bratwurst conventions made for a tough gig, but we all had to learn our chops somewhere.)

"Everyone else, twenty laps. And I don't want to see a bunch of promenading poodles this time. This is a library! Show me fierce!"

When Catherine showed up to interview, I had my doubts, yet all became clear during the psychological evaluation. Seeing the rage she exhibited in response to "your mother wears Army boots," I immediately terminated the interview and offered her the job of instructor. She was fresh from the Navy SEALs, a common enough transition since the Intellectual Property War of '23, but the intensity of her response told me there was more to her anger than one too many Army-Navy games. This lady had the library in her genes.

"Wilson! I see you lagging behind one more time and you're gonna have a stiletto heal up your backside. Move it, librarian!"

And good riddance to Jones, my previous instructor. No intensity at all. You'd be more likely to find Bat Segundo in a twelve-step program than get any adrenaline out of Jones. Her recruits muddled through training while she drifted around like a will of the wisp, luring them one by one into the stacks to be lost forever. Granted, those who lived through training made decent librarians--they were survivors, and strong willed--but they had no fire, and a library isn't a library without fire.

Made the insurance company happy, too. They get cranky if we have more than one fatality a week during training. The private sector does have its downsides.

Librarian drill instructor! Miss Snark is getting on THAT career path tomorrow morning. And the Intellectual Property War of '23!!!! Miss Snark will be combat ready (a bazooka concealed in her walker of course).

Scores to come.


Snarklings around the world have received their marching orders:

"drop everything and give me ten...books"

Well not exactly, but it looks like that to them. They must produce a brilliant narrative of 500 words in less that a day or risk forever being branded a nitwit. They all puzzle over how to incorporate bunion, galleycat, terrapin and snark in a coherent narrative. "Wait a minute, isn't there some connection between the mythical snark and a terrapin somewhere?" they wonder.

Those that received their charge late last night already dreamt of promenading poodles led by killer yap that turn on them and devour their substandard work. In the early morning hours of half consciousness they think "how in the world am I supposed to use "your mother wears Army boots" or "roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd" in any kind story with all those other words. As they awake they realize their real nightmare has just begun. There are only sixteen more hours to finish. Forget the work they brought home that's due Monday morning. Forget the kid's breakfast. Their ego is at stake. They must" rise to the occasion" (oops one cliché to many?).

Now they're all off to do research. "Who the hell is "Bat Segundo"? What's a "will of the wisp"?" They dare not risk being impaled by Miss Snark's stiletto heels for their ignorance. Well, even if they are shot by the Clue Gun for their total lack of ability, they'll have learned something. Miss Snark will have achieved one of her goals.

Snarklings stare at their clocks. How typical they think. "She chooses a day with only twenty three hours. Just like an agent. They're never fair!" Will they be able to muddle through and create a winner before 12:01? We'll all find out tomorrow.

Oh that IS hilarious!! I didn't realize the day had only 23 hours! This is pretty funny.

Scores to come


Even for a jockey, Seraphima Snark is a midget. I grab her bony shin and give her a leg up on our Derby entry, Will of the Wisp. A few last words -- let early speed Promenading Poodles set the pace -- and it's time to go.

Track security speeds me to Wisp's owner's box. I watch the steel-gray filly and steely-eyed jock join the post parade with favorites Terrapin and Galleycat and twenty other Thoroughbreds. Rippling muscles slide under their satiny hides. They look like pure energy ready to explode.

I reassure Wisp's owner. Yes, she can run with those shoes and pads protecting her bunion-afflicted left front. Recovering from that lameness kept Wisp out of the warm-up races for the Derby. Hence her 17-1 odds. Will that ease the jitters of owner Barnabus Bollenbocker, the billionaire owner of the Wakarusa Wildcats?

Is Bock OK? From the attitude of his people, I'm guessing the white-haired owner has been as nervous as those colts and fillies on track below. Now his ruddy face looks greenish-gray. I wonder what he's thinking -- how much we spent on the filly, vet bills and shoeing? The missed races? That in two minutes it'll all be over? Or that he wished he'd passed up those onion rings at lunch?

Noticing beads of sweat across Bock's upper lip, I'm counting on veteran announcer Bat Segundo's call to ease us through these two minutes we've anticipated for years. Meantime the horses churn back of the starting gate. Wisp and Snark waltz right in. This time all the horses load easily and then --

"They're off!" Segundo hollers. Even filtered by the sound system he sounds, um, impaired?

"It's Promenading Poodles on the inside in the lead at the first turn. Slightly off the pace are Terrapin and Galleycat. Snark's taking Will of the Wisp outside running easily in fourth. Then there's a muddle of Fictional Novel, Paranormal Romance, Yellow Pages, Blogger and Dewey Decimal System running fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth ..."

"Terrapin and Galleycat are challenging Promenading Poodles -- and here comes Will of the Wisp. She's tellin' the boys 'Your mother wears Army boots!' 'Drop everything and give me ten ... books. Ten poodles. What the ... Whatever! And there's the mile in 1:37!"

Bock roars, "What's he on?"

"Pails of gin, sir."

Wisp charges alongside the leaders. Poodle fades to sixth.

Segundo thunders, "Snark goes to the whip! Here comes Will of the Wisp! It's the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd! It's a photo finish!"

Bock drops back into his seat, shaking his head. The crowd rumbles around us as "Photo finish" flashes on the board, then gives me a wry grin. "Someday I want to be the guy that watches all this from the blimp."

Snark goes to the whip! I love it!

Score to come.


"Ohh, my bunion is killing me," she moaned as she plopped into an overstuffed chair and kicked off her clodhoppers.

"Hi, Mom. What's up?" Sheila asked.

Mark glared at her out of the corner of his eye. "Perambulating poodles! Your mother wears Army boots," he gasped in astonishment.

"I'm planning a dinner party for tomorrow. Drop everything and give me ten...books with recipes for Bat Segundo."

"Mom, you don't really cook bat?"

"No," she laughed. "I substitute terrapin and snark. No one knows the difference. It's such a muddle anyways. We're going birding tomorrow and at 4:30 in the morning all you can spot is will of the wisp and galleycat. After we're tired from the roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd they'll all stop here for dinner. We can announce your engagement then."

Mark rolled his eyes. "I see what you mean about our upbringings being a little different. At least my parents won't be here until tomorrow night and they'll miss all this," he sputtered.

"Wait until you see what we have planned for their arrival!" Mom gloated triumphantly.

Miss Snark searches for her subscription pad to write a prescription for Modern Bride.

Scores to come


Every muscle in his body shuddered as he watched yet another display from his over-active neighbor. Fascinated, yet horrified, these nightly productions had seeped into his soul. He could no more look away than he could chew off his own leg.

The spectacle was too fascinating, and too angering, to ignore.

Miss Thang, as he liked to call her, seemed to have a penchant for the roar of the greasepaint, and smell of the crowd. She reveled in wagging her tail-end around for everyone to see, much to the delight of the onlookers.

Why did he watch? Even he didn't know. Perhaps it was to see her fall. To see the crowd throw a terrapin at her instead of tasty morsels.

But no, it was deeper than that. She had that grace that fed his own will-o-the-wisp desire to be on Broadway. Galleycat or not, the girl had the moves.

"What’cha doing?"

The voice at his shoulder had him spinning around. He shuttered his envy with a look of contempt.

"Ah, her again," his woman whispered. "You really have to let go of that, you know." Her hand slipped to his back and she shouted out the half-raised window, "Yoh. Yeah you. Your mother wear's army boots!"

He cringed at her crude, snarky tone, knowing that he could no longer hide as a harmless bystander. She'd muddled everything up. All eyes were on them both, and he felt obligated to shout a taunt of his own.

"Yeah, that's right, um..." He had to pause to think. No way he wanted to be in this position now. Life was tough enough without pissing off everyone in the neighborhood. And he was outnumbered by far. He yelped out the words, "Show us some promenading poodles."

Just saying it gave him strength. "Yeah, stop this happy, crappy bat segundo and give us a real show." For emphasis, he added, "Amateur!"

It should have made him feel great, and it did, until Miss Thang gave him a misty look through her big green eyes. She hopped from the stage in nothing flat, tail tucked between her legs.

He knew in that moment he’d just destroyed a fellow artist. Maybe not someone who performed things he was in to, but an artist none the less.

At his back, his woman said, "It will be okay. She is good, and strong. Granted, I got a bit tough, but the true test of whether she wants it enough is if she can take criticism. And a bit of taunting. The whole world is hers if she just works for it."

And he knew it was true. He leaned his head into her hand, searching for the ear-scratch he desperately needed. All would be well for Miss Thang if she was tough enough.

She sighed. "Okay, enough of this. There’s a Clooney movie on and ... I need you to check out these bunions. I should give up wearing sandals.."

Yap sighed.

Another exciting night in NYC.

If this was truly New Yorkers it would be "ya mutha wears fucking army boots"...but no matter.
Killer Yapp (two p's please) is glad to find himself in the mix.

Scores to come