For as long as I can remember my Uncle Bobby was my idol – the self-proclaimed “Poster Boy for Home Depot”. In fact, I can’t recall a time when he wasn’t fixing this or repairing that. He was the neighborhood handyman, the guy everyone called to replace a broken window or unclog their toilet. He could paint a room like nobody’s business, his cutting-in seams done to perfection without the use of that “sissy painter’s tape”. Yep, he was like a magician, my Uncle Bobby was, and I loved following him around on his odd jobs, delighting at his request for me to hand him a Phillips head screwdriver or a roll of duct tape. 

Uncle Bobby was a no-frills kind of guy; what you saw was what you got with him. He was my dad’s brother, living with us in the spare room of our old rambling Victorian house. He must have replaced just about every board of the huge porch that wrapped itself around the house. My mom would complain that the decking looking like a patchwork quilt with no two pieces of wood being exactly the same. Uncle Bobby would always say the same thing: “Don’t worry ‘bout nothing, Margie. They’ll all weather with age and you’ll never be able to tell ‘em apart.” But they never did and the porch truly looked like a jigsaw puzzle.

The biggest problem with Uncle Bobby was the fact that he couldn’t truly fix anything that required real skill, like a washing machine or a radio or a power lawnmower. Whenever he attempted such jobs, he’d inevitably have a couple of pieces left over even after he finished putting the whole thing back together! He’d toss all the unused parts into a ten-gallon drum in our basement which was also his workshop. Funny thing was everything he was asked to repair would work fine for a while, then breakdown after several weeks anyway. Uncle Bobby would explain that he “fixed the dang thing but it was just its time to go”. I think I was the only one who knew about his stash of leftover essential pieces which doubled in size on a weekly basis.

Truth was Uncle Bobby had more crap in our basement than Carter had liver pills and he was slowly but surely inching his way over to the cramped corner where my mom had her washing machine. She finally put her foot down one day and demanded he either clean up his crap or build a wall around her laundry area so she wouldn’t have to look at all his crap. Rather than clean up the place, Uncle Bobby built mom a wall. Even she had to admit it was the best looking wall she’d ever seen, with a door and everything!

Believe it or not, Uncle Bobby was a genuine ladies’ man and he “cleaned up real nice” as old Mrs. Jenkins liked to say. He’d wash up in the basement using Lava Soap, shave with menthol Barbasol and splash on the Aqua Velva then head out to Kelly’s Place for ribs and a few beers. All the girls liked Uncle Bobby but his favorites were the Andrews twins, Patty and Paula. They didn’t seem to mind the perpetual ring of dirt under Uncle Bobby’s fingernails; no matter how many times he washed his hands that grime stayed put. He said it was “the mark of a hard-working man”.

Uncle Bobby loved watching those old black and white tv shows like Flash Gordon, Superman and The Twilight Zone. He had a real fascination with outer space and anything that could fly. That’s probably why he loved “The Honeymooners” – that classic Jackie Gleason comedy show; he’d laugh his head off every time Ralph Kramden roared his trademark tagline “To the moon, Alice!”

I’ll never forget that one Christmas when I got a remote control airplane; I think Uncle Bobby spent more time playing with that damn thing than I did. He was happy as a pig in slop the day he found a used one at the church tag sale. He’d tinker with that thing every chance he could, making it fly higher and faster. He’d inevitably forget to include a piece or two which he’d just toss into that catch-all drum of his.

So one day out of nowhere right in the middle of dinner Uncle Bobby announced he had his mind set on building a rocket ship. Well, I think it came as a shock to everyone but me and they all laughed it off as him just joking around as usual.  But I knew Uncle Bobby better than anyone and he was dead serious. He told me he was gonna use all the bits and pieces and spare parts he’d collected over the years. And what he didn’t have, he’d scavenge for in dumpsters, rubbish piles outside people’s houses or the garbage bins behind Home Depot. Those places were like a magical treasure trove for Uncle Bobby and he always came home with something. “You never know when this might come in handy” he’d declare, proudly showing me a discarded catalytic converter or a manual typewriter.

Well, true to his word Uncle Bobby started construction on his rocket ship the morning of April 1st and the neighbors howled that it was the perfect April Fool’s Day joke ever. But it wasn’t no joke to Uncle Bobby and he worked on that craft every day. He pitched a tent in the backyard, rolled out that giant ten-gallon drum and went at it like a man possessed. And I was his helper; my special assignment was to find him a really good helmet and a cooler which I filled with Hawaiian Punch, bologna sandwiches and Twinkies.

By July 4th Uncle Bobby’s rocket ship was finished. To be honest it looked like a pile of junk but he thought it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever made. He painted it red, white and blue and named it “Independence Day”. By now word had gotten out and the whole neighborhood was there to watch Uncle Bobby attempt to take off into the wild blue yonder. Sporting his best overalls and the cool viking helmet I found for him, he climbed in, waved goodbye and slammed the door shut. 

Well, the damn thing sputtered and smoked and made all kinds of weird noises but it suddenly started shaking and actually took off. It was kinda wobbly at first but it just kept on going higher and higher until it disappeared into the clouds. We all stood there with our jaws hanging open, expecting to see the ship come crashing down any second – but it didn’t. We stayed out there for a long time, then gave up and went inside thinking Uncle Bobby would probably just waltz back in when he was good and ready with some great adventure tales to tell.

Damn thing was, we never did see the rocket ship or Uncle Bobby again. Boy, do I miss him!

Here’s to you, Rocket Man! Hope you had a great journey, wherever you are.

Independence Day

NAR © 2021

Reposted for Fandango’s


Coroner? What do we need the coroner for?” asked Police Sergeant Jefffries. “It’s obvious this poor slob jumped off the roof. Just look at him!”

Not so fast, Jeffries” snapped Police Captain Russo. “Take a close look at the extensive amount of pimples on this guy. There’s something very strange about them.”

Averse to showing fear but knowing his boss was expecting him to man up, Jeffries crouched down and examined the various array of pustules. God, how he hated those disgusting zits!

You know what I think, Cap? This guy was some sort of perv into kinky sex and weird stuff. Maybe this is some rare strain of an STD.” Jeffries looked up at his superior hoping to have made a good impression.

Jeffries, sometimes I wonder how you ever made it onto the force” replied Russo sarcastically. “If you hope to be Lieutenant someday, you better prove you have what it takes. There’s something nefarious going on here and I can see it with my own two eyes. Have this entire area cordoned off and call the coroner pronto. I’ll bet you a week’s worth of doughnuts he’ll agree with my assessment.”

Humiliated again, Jeffries was beginning to think he really wasn’t cut out for this line of work – always tripping over himself and looking like a fool in front of the captain.

When Dr. Rusikoff, the coroner, arrived he took one look at the body and started barking orders: “Get this man in a body bag ASAP! Hold on … make it two bags; I want this guy double wrapped and hauled off to the morgue! I’m gonna call ahead. This body needs to be incinerated immediately. Jeffries! Make yourself useful and get a crew to scrub down this sidewalk with the strongest disinfectant you can find.”

Jeffries felt like a lackey but did as he was told. After the street was cleaned up he asked the coroner “Dr. Rusikoff, what’s going on here?”

The coroner looked at Jeffries as if he was an idiot. “Isn’t it obvious, Sergeant? Those aren’t pimples; they’re sacs and they didn’t appear naturally. These ghastly things were caused by some sort of aggressive virus manufactured in a lab. Both Russo and I could clearly see organisms moving around inside just waiting to bust out. I heard about this same thing happening in Gongabu in the Kathmandu Valley. Believe you me, Jeffries, it was a nightmare of epic proportions.”

Captain Russo ordered everyone back to the station. “Not you, Jeffries. You’re done for tonight. Report back tomorrow.”

Talk about getting cut off at the knees! “I’m such a loser! I need a drink, a decent lay and some excitement in my miserable life” Jeffries thought.

He began walking aimlessly about and found himself outside ‘Bar Kathmandu’, the sleaziest dump he’d ever seen. Jeffries drank way too much and woke up the next morning with a killer hangover and a stabbing pain in his neck. That pock-marked hooker must have slipped him one hell of a mickey. Stumbling to the bathroom, he looked into the mirror and let out a blood-curdling scream; he was completely covered in throbbing pimples. Just before his head erupted Jeffries saw thousands of tiny grotesque creatures breaking through their sacs and scurrying off.

Who will their next host be? They may be heading in your direction! And for fuck’s sake, stay out of ‘Bar Kathmandu’!

NAR © 2020

Responding to Fandango’s blog with the prompt word “strain” –


Known for their wild imaginations, triplets Carter, Patrick and Lisa couldn’t get anyone in their dad’s restaurant to believe they saw a UFO on the beach. No matter how hard they tried, everyone just laughed it off as a prank. The fifteen-year-old siblings and their parents lived in a beach house just behind the restaurant, a small family-run business in Amagansett. Their dad had finally been granted his liquor license and all their friends were reveling in the good news and celebrating the festivities. Enjoying the evening and feeling slightly inebriated, everyone dismissed the tall tale of UFOs.

It all began an hour earlier. The teens had been on the beach occupied with their new video game, Robbery Bob. The sky that night was an ominous pitch-black, devoid of any stars or even the sliver of a moon. Their devices gleamed like little beacons in their hands as they sat in a tight circle on the sand.

Lisa finally won her first game against the boys and whooped with glee; her brothers fell backward, groaning in the mock disbelief of defeat. Looking up at Lisa blissfully doing her victory dance, Carter noticed an amorphous light high in the sky. Pointing it out to his brother and sister, they joked about it being a UFO. They held their games up to their faces, the green light from the screens making their features look like extraterrestrials. They wrote off the far away object in the sky as just a plane but there was something unusual and a bit unnerving about the craft. It didn’t move in a forward direction as an airplane would; instead it gradually descended toward the water while slowing approaching the shore. The closer it came to the beach the more it took on the appearance of a giant jellyfish.

The dim lights of the missile began getting brighter until they were so intense the kids had to shield their eyes. It then started vibrating noisily and emitting shrill sounds. Covering their ears, the siblings sought shelter under a nearby dock. Realizing Lisa was not with them, Patrick and Carter looked back and saw her still on the beach, arms outstretched and staring straight at the ever-increasing light. They called out her name and yelled for her to come to them but their cries couldn’t be heard above the piercing noises of the craft. Lisa stood in a trance, unable or unwilling to move as a shimmering halo surrounded her entire body. The mysterious craft hovered over her, long-reaching prongs crackling and sparking like electric tentacles. Abruptly the noises stopped and the lights dimmed; the missile spun around and shot off like a rocket. In an instant it was gone, swallowed up by the blackness of the night.

Lisa fell to her knees, dazed but seemingly unharmed. The boys raced to their sister, grabbed her arms and ran as fast as they could to their dad’s restaurant. They animatedly retold the story and were rewarded with amused and disbelieving faces. Frustrated and agitated, they gave up trying to convince their parent’s friends and went home, retreating to their rooms. The next few days were awkward and many weeks passed before any of them mentioned that night on the beach.

One morning months later Carter awoke around 4:00 in a cold sweat. Momentarily disoriented, he switched on the lamp beside his bed and saw Patrick standing at their bedroom window looking out into the predawn sky. Carter asked his brother what he was doing and Patrick turned to him, a troubled look on his face. Haltingly, he explained a strange dream that had disturbed his sleep. There were little pointy-headed men standing at the foot of his bed chanting “We are the partisans. You are needed, Patrick. Come with us”. The little men took Patrick into a large room with gigantic gears crashing and grinding against each other. They walked to a metallic cerulean-colored door and entered an area with several different chambers. Patrick was led to a small room where he was instructed to sit on a large cushion in the middle of the room. The lights were turned off and the little men left the room, leaving Patrick alone in the darkness. He tried standing but found he was unable to get up; the cushion had a strong hold over him. At that point the dream ended and Patrick woke up. Carter sat on the edge of his bed staring at his brother in stunned silence, then whispered “That’s impossible! I just had the exact same dream!”

Thoughts of that night on the beach came flooding back to the boys; could this dream have anything to do with that night? They knew they had to tell Lisa about their visions. Shaken, Lisa reluctantly admitted to also having a very similar dream. She said that when the little men led her to the metallic door, they entered a crystal chamber; rows of transparent silvery pods neatly filled the room. Each pod contained a young woman much like herself asleep on her back, arms crossed over her chest. The last thing she remembered was being led to an empty pod and reclining on the bed as the crystal lid was lowered and locked in place. The siblings sat quietly for a long while trying to absorb all they had shared.

As time went by the dreams became less frequent and eventually stopped but the next several years brought much unhappiness to the family. The triplet’s parents contracted a novel virus and died withing weeks of each other. Patrick, Carter and Lisa took over operation of the failing restaurant until Lisa became ill and could no longer work. She started getting unbearable pains in her stomach and her brothers brought her to the hospital. After doing a scan, doctors discovered Lisa had a sizeable tumor and immediately prepped her for emergency surgery. Patrick and Carter were informed of the development and waited anxiously for news.

When the doctors opened Lisa up they were shocked to discover the tumor was actually a translucent gelatinous sac delicately inscribed in beautiful calligraphy with the words ”The Partisans”. Peering through the diaphanous membrane of the sac, the doctors were aghast to see it was full of miniature people with pointy heads. They carefully removed the sac in one piece, placing it in a receptacle on a cart next to the operating table. Once the sac was out, another shocking discovery was made: Lisa’s uterus had be removed, the surgical technique highly advanced and unfamiliar to any of the doctors. Bewildered, the surgeons began to complete the operation when Lisa’s blood pressure suddenly plummeted; she crashed and died on the table. When the doctors examined the sac, it was empty. The tiny pointy-headed people had vanished into thin air.

Patrick and Carter were devastated by the news of Lisa’s death; they were horrified hearing about the sac full of little people. Of course, the doctors had no explanation and the brothers made no mention of that night years ago on Amagansett Beach. On the way home from the hospital, Patrick asked Carter if his dream about that night had returned. Carter admitted that it began again shortly before the novel virus. Patrick nodded in agreement; his dream had also returned.

“Do you know what it all means?” Carter asked.

Patrick drove the car to the side of the road and turned off the engine. He thought for a moment then spoke very softly. “Yeah, I think I do. I believe Lisa was impregnated that night on the beach. The Partisans used you and me to fertilize the eggs of the women in Lisa’s dream, including Lisa. The Partisans likely caused the virus, ridding the world of countless older people. We had no idea we were creating a whole new life-form, the beginning of a new generation.”

Carter ran his fingers through his hair, pondering his brother’s words. “As incredible and far-fetched as it sounds, I think you’re right. How many others do you think this happened to?” he inquired.

Who knows? Hundreds? Thousands?” Patrick declared. “One thing I’m sure of: the Partisans didn’t simply vanish; they are repopulating the universe. And this, brother, is far from over.”

NAR © 2020