The Virginia Evaluation For Intelligence

This is a story I am currently working on revising. I got lots of great comments from my workshop this summer, and I’m just opening this to a (hopefully) wider audience. This is how I turned the story in to class, without further revisions.

The Virginia Evaluation For Intelligence

“Will the following students please report to room 171 for VEFI testing…”

Oh please, oh pleeaase don’t let them call me…

“William Johanas Mossbourge,

“Ronald Justin Clearwater,

“Joseph Frank London,

“and Kristian Alissabeth Rutherford. Again, please report to room 171 for VEFI testing.”

“Oh no, no, it’s not fair! I won’t go, I won’t I won’t!

“Kristian, look at the boys, they aren’t complaining, why don’t you go along with them and take the test?”

“It’s not fair to take the test with three boys!”

“Well, you’ll have to realize that life is not fair; besides that, they don’t have any advantage over you, you are very smart.”

“Yes they do! They’re boys, they’re bigger and stronger and smarter and they’re all better than me and I’m just gonna fail next to them!”

“Kristian, go with them right now. You have no choice in it, the test is required.”

“It’s not fair!”

“Go on, now, and we’ll discuss the fairness of it later.”


“Hello, Mrs. Rutherford?”

“Yes, what can I do for you?”

“Hi, my name is Mark Davies, and I’m calling from the Virginia Population Centre. The results from your daughter’s VEFI test are in.”

“Oh, really? She didn’t tell me about it. How did she do?”

“Well, yes she did take it. Unfortunately, she did not do very well in comparison to the other test takers. I regret to inform you that she has been scheduled for cessation because her scores do not fall above the fiftieth percentile for all five test scores and is therefore classified as a non-contributing member of society.”

“Oh my God … Oh my God. It can’t be. You have to let her take it again. She is much smarter than that. She… She just… Please, I’m begging you, you can’t take her she’s all I have, all I live for. Please let her take it again!”

“Kristian will be picked up tomorrow at eight a.m. I am sorry.”

“please, please don’t do this.”


“Virginia! Hi Honey, how are you?”

“Dad, we need to borrow the cabin for a while. You still have it, right?”

“Yes… what’s wrong? I can hear you’re upset, what is it?

“Dad, they made Kristian take the VEFI and… We really need a place to hide, they want to take her, and we’ll never see her again and they’re going to kill her! I’ve got to do something.”

“But can’t you appeal the matter?”

“The Population Courts never grant appeals. Unless we do something, Kristi is dead!”

“Virginia, you’ve never been against the population policy before… Why suddenly are you—“

“Don’t you know how dangerous it is to say that kind of thing? They’re easier on you old people cause you lived with freedom, but they don’t put up— Dad, won’t you help?”

“You know I would, Honey… but I have to think of my life, too. You’re gonna have to handle this one yourself.”

“Dad, they’re going to KILL her… Dad?”

“Michael! Michael, you have to come home now… Screw work, we have to leave as soon as Kristi gets home.”

“Virginia? Slow down, honey, what’s wrong?”

“Michael, they want to take Kristi… she took the VEFI test… and they called today and they’re going to get her tomorrow morning and…

“Michael, they are going to kill her.”



“I’ll be right home, honey”

“Did you call your dad about the cabin?”

“Yeah, he’s not going to help. Bastard! Can’t trust anyone who’s not your own blood. I tried, but he just doesn’t care. He’s never even seen Kristi… how’s he supposed to care?”

“We’ve got to figure something out. I knew we should have moved to Quebequois when Kristi was born. What about the Andersons? Did you try them?”

“No! They love the Commonwealth and the Republic. They’re real Patriots. No chance there… don’t we know about anyone who’s gotten away? The ISP’s block all the net feeds about that… but don’t we know someone? Anyone?”

“I’ve heard people making it to Quebequois or the United European States, but I don’t think—“

“No, Kristi’s on their list and we won’t get tickets. I don’t know anyone who can get id’s for us so quickly either. We have to drive, and as far as possible as soon as she gets home.”

“Well, we could make the mountains, and maybe Kentucky or Tennessee…”

“Let’s get ready, she’ll be home soon.”

“You know we can never come back? This is it.”

“Yes. She’s worth it. You know I can’t have another…”

“I know.”

“Mommy! I’m home…”

“Kristi! Bonjour Ma Petite!”

“Daddy, you’re home early.”

“Yes, honey, we’re going to go on a little vacation. I want you to put your favorite things in your backpack, except your computer, you can’t bring that, okay?”

“Okay, where are we going? The beach? Oh, I want to go to the beach!”

“No, I think we’ll be going camping for a while in the forests in Kentucky. We’re going to drive for a ways, so I want you to bring some games and books and stuff, okay? Go on and get your stuff ready now. We need to leave soon.”


“Do you think she took it okay, Michael?”

“I’m not sure she even understands.”




A Rocky Start, 1-3

What exactly do you do when, out of nowhere, you lose your breath? When an unexpected encounter leaves you wondering what in the hell just happened? Who was that?

This is what happened to me on my first encounter with Melissa. Flabbergasted and tongue-tied I felt like a middle-schooler again. Not only was she beautiful, but smart, and kind, and (this is important for me) interesting. On top of all that, she was also my age. Which was an odd thing, being at the community college, rebooting my college career after a stint in the military. I am just at that age, now, where all the students seem like kids to me, or they are looking for a second degree at their mid-forties. So I was surprised. To say the least. And I made the minimal effort at conversation for the five minutes we spoke after class.

Introducing herself to me, she made a comment about how we had Art History together as well as the writing class we were walking away from. We made small talk about the classes and professors until we split ways, she to the bus stop, and I to the parking lot. I sat in my car for a few minutes and pondered the stirrings of what I had not felt in a few years. Was I ever terrified. These things always sneak up on me, I thought as I turned the key in the ignition.


So where do things go from here? What kind of action does one take, to express one’s immediate and overwhelming feelings? Do you just blurt out all of the impressions and pour a heartful of blood out onto the table through slit elbows, or do you hold it in until some point later where you can look on things from a more logical perspective (as Spock would say)?

In my experience, I have always been blind-sided. By that I mean, love (or infatuation, I guess) is always sudden, surprising, and (this is important) reciprocated. And in this case it was not immediate, or surprising, or (maybe) reciprocated. So What To Do?

Take things slowly. Hang out, build a good friendship, and see where things go. I have not tried this approach before, and I must say I was very nervous about doing it that way.


I startled awake. In front of the tv, again. I had only been asleep for a second. The kind of doze-off you get when you’ve been studying too long or driving too far. The cartoon was still on the same scene, but that was just something registered in the back of my consciousness. What was really on my mind was Melissa. I had fallen asleep with her head settling on my shoulder, and her arm entwining with mine, and I felt natural and loved. But it was only a flash dream. Sometimes, when I’m going to sleep, my leg muscles will jump, and that always feels like a falling sensation, and it always wakes me up. This dream was like that, but in a good way. It confirmed that what I had been carefully easing forward the last few months was really true. That my feelings were not just infatuation or overblown friendship. Both those things have been a real issue for me, letting my heart runaway with my well-being into the uncharted areas of life. So I’ve been trying to approach this one differently. Trying to ease into something real as opposed to reactionary. I felt now like I was succeeding. I hoped.

Melissa and I had been spending time together, outside of class. Moving in cautious orbits around each other. We studied, and talked and laughed more than getting any work done. We took a voluntary field trip to DC together, went to the art museums, saw Rembrandt and the one da Vinci in the US. We went to a poetry reading, and hung out at a bar she knew about afterwards. We talked for hours, about anything, and we made each other laugh, and pout, and generally made each other happy like only true friends can. I was getting too excited about the possibilities of the relationship, and I knew it, and still there was nothing I could do to stop myself. One little crack of hope would send me spiraling in for gutwrenching hurt.


A Rocky Start, pt 2

Part I

So where do things go from here? What kind of action does one take, to express one’s immediate and overwhelming feelings? Do you just blurt out all of the impressions and pour a heartful of blood out onto the table through slit elbows, or do you hold it in until some point later where you can look on things from a more logical perspective (as Spock would say)?

In my experience, I have always been blind-sided. By that I mean, love (or infatuation, I guess) is always sudden, surprising, and (this is important) reciprocated. And in this case it was not immediate, or surprising, or (maybe) reciprocated. So What To Do?

Take things slowly. Hang out, build a good friendship, and see where things go. I have not tried this approach before, and I must say I was very nervous about doing it that way.


Unbearable Lightness

Very… Different. The narrator breaks in with philosophizing all the time. It seems like the book would only be half as long if not for it. A story (in my opinion) should not need that much explanation, but it could just be the de facto style in former soviet bloc countries. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but if it breaks in with the same things, it might be unbearable. (heh heh)

I saw Episode 3 again last night. Second time. The first time was in a kind of shitty theater, but this time I saw it in all the digital surround, stadium seating, huge screen glory. Plus the place was empty. I try to make a point of avoiding big movies on their release weekend unless I can make it by 2 or 3, because the crowds always suck. I liked it, again, and I think it’s the best of the new ones put out. Of course, none of them match up to the originals, in all their original, low-tech glory. There’s just nothing like real explosions of real models in real environments. I loved them. Also, the dialogue seems to have been written for minors in the new ones, and the acting in Ep.3 leaves some things to be desired. Yes, it’s grandiose and epic, but that should not dictate the quality of acting. Every line seems almost contrived, and the pauses between character interaction is almost inexcusable. Ahh, Mr. George…. What have you done?

I am currently looking for a job. Part-time (25-30 hours/week), flexible enough for school, and something to keep me busy enough to prevent me from falling asleep. If anyone knows of a position, drop me a line.


Fear and Loathing, pt deux

So, at the end, you are wondering where the American Dream has got itself to. I’m left thinking, thirty-five years later, and drunk, and not responsible, the same thing. My thing is more like this, however:

Was there any such thing as the American Dream? Did it ever exist, or was it just a fascination with an entire generation. That generation was basically split in half. Who supported the war, and who did not. How do I fit in to that version of history? Everything is complex now, every issue is crowded by slippery morray eels. How do you escape their electro-gnawing grasp? Ignorance is becoming the true bliss in this over-hyped, over-spun, bull-crap world.

Biggest example:
Now, you can support the troops (the GI’s the Marines, the Sailors, etc.) without supporting the government that sends them wherever the fuck it wants.

I do not vote based on party lines. People have to decide which issues are important to them, and vote that way. I am fairly conservative Constitutionaly, however, I see very bad things in the future of a populace that votes according to religion. The entire existance of this country is based on freedom (and seperation) of religion from government.

enough soap-boxing, I’m going to bed.


Fear and Loathing

I just finished reading The World According to Garp, and started in on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas this morning. I was sitting at my coffee shop, drinking coffee (!) and waiting for my buddy to call me. We were going to shoot firearms at a range he knew about. A .357mag revolver and a .45 1911 model. I shot both, and I have to say, for first time shooting (pistols) I did fairly well. Four inch groupings with both .38spec and .357mag rounds he had for the revolver at 10 yards. My groupings with the 1911 were more like 6 or 7 inches, but still doable.

The point of all of this is that Fear and Loathing may not be the best influence on a person just before going to shoot guns. I was trigger-happy, I was speeding crazily the whole way to the range, I moved through traffic like water, like a dancer. I was pretty high off reading. Reading.

Also, don’t invade my house, cause I’ll put a full six rounds where ever I want to.

Also, I wanted to mention some things about Garp since I indicated this was to be a kind of reading journal as well. Namely this: I felt like the book was constantly ending. I felt, at times, like, “This is the end.” And I would feel satisfied and could put it down, only to realize I’m only half way through. And I would think, “Where else could he possibly go with this?” I think it depressed me thoroughly. I’m almost done with Fear and Loathing, but I’ve already made my feelings clear on that. I’m surprised how faithful the movie was to the book.

I have The Unbearable Lightness of Being lined up for after that.


ps- The reason I mention pistols up there was because I was an expert rifleman in the Marine Corps three years running. At 500 yards with open sights I could put six or seven of ten rounds in the black consistently. I am fairly proud of this fact.


this post deleted seeing as how it sucked and wasn’t going anywhere.



Funny how time slows when something really bad is happening. How you notice little details, and those are all that you remember later. Funny how time slows and you can see everything, but all you remember later are the tiniest little things. Like how the kilometers on the speedometer are marked in red, not white like the miles. How you are doing sixty-two or sixty-three of them, and how the sound of locked-up anti-lock-brakes buzz through your brain. How the silence strikes as the tires leave off the pavement, and how the branches of the small tree in front of you are gray, not brown like the trees in all the pictures you drew as a kid. How time really seems to stop then, when the car is almost airborne over the ditch of the median, and then, how funny that suddenly time is racing. At that point, when the other car hits, how time suddenly accelerates so fast as to make you black out. And when you are finally back into your senses, you are in a crumpled car in the bottom of a ditch on top of a small toppled tree. How funny it all is. How funny that Einstein’s Relativity is so much more real when you experience all this, how you suddenly understand it all.

These are Mike’s thoughts in his few minutes of lucidity, when the doctors have to restrain the drip long enough to explain this or that procedure, and “would you mind signing here? And here.” When they leave, and restore whatever drug is in his I.V., it takes him a moment to remember that these things all happened years ago. And once he remembers, a few more increments of time pass before he wonders, What am I doing here and now, then? By then the drugs are taking their toll, and the pain starting to seep into his mind slides away.

Pain still comes in through his haze. But it is like the tide on a long gentle white beach. Subtle and slow, and more a realization that the tide has come in, and the beach is smaller, and the next time you turn around, and care to notice, the tide has gone out again. Mike’s tide of pain undulates with his dreams and hallucinations, instead of gravity. In the low tide of dreams, Mike swims in saltwater of deep green and purple, flies with winged dolphins in red skies, walks a long garden full of geese twice his height. Plants are blue and the geese are iridescent, color changing, full of greens and blues and purples. The sounds are like the ocean heard in a conch shell, in and out and constant. Smells linger through his nostrils, the dolphins with the rich dungness of horses, like they are some kind of Pegasus, and the geese are featherless and smell of fried apples and they cannot fly.

Women he barely knew from grade school walk and fly and swim beside him. Some he only knew from dreams in grade school, people he had never actually met, or even seen. Whole conversations slide through him, in languages he does not know. Words that mean everything at once and nothing at all. The women come in black, and cream, and cocoa, and butter with hair green and yellow and purple and orange and black. But they all invariably wear the same things: a black t-shirt, white shorts, and black tennis shoes. And every one of them makes him smile, makes him love.

High tide rages in silently and suddenly. More women he does not know walk around him, clad in white and pink and pastel sea-green. They move about him, in and out of his vision, and say things like “He’s so lucky,” and “Okay, you’re lookin’ good today.” Mike does not really understand what they are talking about, and the voices come well after their mouths shift. The ceiling undulates in a way that makes him sick, because the bed he is laying in swings in opposite amplitude. He is floating in a full straight jacket, arms and legs pinioned and motionless, lips wired shut as in bad horror movies, and his eyes held wide open. He sees everything projected on the sliding ceiling above him. Women burning alive screaming until the fire sucks the oxygen out of their lungs, men strapped to tables and drawn out of their bellies, inside out, children packed five deep and three tall in shelves like cordwood. Falling snow.

Not falling-from-the-sky snow, the gently swinging snow of childhood through the kitchen window with hot chocolate. Not the gotta-make-it-home blinding snow at the end of a six hour drive back to Boston. Falling rumbling snow like a wall. Snowflakes like boulders, bounding in the air, carrying trees and rocks and slabs of ice. Snow moving like a tsunami of solid earth. Snow so heavy and dense it could not possibly fly like it does, from above. Snow with the chest-shaking, mind drenching determination of a tympani-only orchestra. Not even white snow, but grey snow that hasn’t seen the sun in ten or twenty years. Death snow. This is when Mike starts moaning, shaking, and trying to run his broken body away. This is when the nurse puts an extra shot of whatever in the I.V. and tells him to “Calm down. Go back to sleep.”


Five rounds with the doctors in the O.R. That is what the physical therapists tell Mike, six months later. It took that many surgeries to get all the bones and ligaments in his legs and the one arm pieced back together. The shrink tells him he needs to try to remember everything about the day, and the week of, the accident. That is what everyone is calling the avalanche, “an accident.” It seems rather weak to Mike, when he thinks about it. An avalanche is not an “accident,” a car wreck is an “accident,” falling down the stairs is an “accident.”

Mike cannot convince himself that it was anything other than God. He has not yet decided if God hates him profoundly, or was just making a correction to some paperwork one of his interns messed up. Mike supposes God hates him because he is still alive. His wife of all of three days is still missing. Anna’s body is unrecovered on a mountainside in Colorado, and they had to bury an empty coffin in front of the granite headstone outside Boston. Mike was still in a wheelchair and had to be pushed through the three feet of February snow. Even at that point, Mike was really unsure of what had happened. He was still on a strict diet of pain-killers and anti-psychotics, and was generally seeing things and feeling pain. He swears he saw and talked to Anna a couple of times, and that is the reasoning behind the crazy-drugs, as he calls them.

Now, in August, in Boston, he’s finally off the crazy-drugs. The pain drugs are still around. His bones hurt deeply inside. The kind of feeling that makes him want to tear his skin off, but he’s actually just happy to be able to scratch his legs again when he gets an itch. The casts came off just over a week ago, but he still has to wear braces to stand and walk, and the doctors said he may never run or bike or ski again, with the damage to his knees. The therapists urge him to get up and about when he feels like it, on his own. The shrink tells him to try to remember, and he tells the shrink he’d rather not.

Mike sees the shrink twice a week, right before his daily (except Sundays) visit to the physical therapist. The sessions last an hour, and the head-doctor asks him probing, personal questions about his life before “the accident.” “What was your typical day like?” “How many times did you eat a day?” “Have you suffered depression before?” “What really made you smile?” “How much did you sleep?” “What was Anna like?” “What made you want to marry her?” “Did you like your job?” “What did you really like to do, above all else?” To this last he replies, “To spend time with Anna. To get to know her better. To hold her in front of the TV, to make her dinner, to make love with her.” The doc likes this and asks him to expound on the use of ‘with’ instead of ‘to.’ Mike does not really respond to this. Instead he wonders if he can discreetly check his watch without the man noticing.

Mike’s daily (except Sundays) physical therapy sessions go something like this. He is wheeled in to a room on the other side of the hospital, where he is greeted by one of three people. The first therapist he sees is a woman a little younger than him, in her mid-twenties, blonde, bright and way too enthusiastic. The fake enthusiasm that is immediately grating and uncontrollably irritating. The only word he can think of to accurately describe her is ‘pneumatic,’ the way desirable women in one of those books he had to read in high school were described. She is certainly pretty enough, and she had to be smart to get through school for this job, but she is also definitely full of air. She strikes him as patently false. His second therapist is another woman. She was a little younger than his mom, graying, and has the build and attitude of nurses in Bugs Bunny cartoons. He likes her because she does not take any bull, and her opinion of the younger girl is the same as his, and they get to laughing about her. The third therapist is a guy. The kind of guy you expect to meet in the gym, being a personal trainer so he can meet beautiful, in shape or soon-to-be in shape women. Slimy. But he is upfront and honest with Mike, even more so than the cartoon nurse, and he expects a lot of Mike, which makes him work harder.

The sessions always start with his arm. His left arm was broken in several places and pulled out of the shoulder socket, and he lost the two smaller fingers to frostbite. He now wears the wedding ring around his neck on a chain. Mike starts with finger exercises, squeezing a ball and pushing or pulling against the trainer’s hand. Then the wrist, then forearm, then biceps and triceps and finally shoulder exercises. Then they put his leg braces on and he is stood up, wobbly. Mike is walking about ten feet on his own right now. His trainers all encourage him to continue practice at home at the ends of his two hour sessions, and sometimes he does. Mostly though, he does not.

Mike usually sits in the easy chair in front of the TV and drifts in and out of sleep, taking pain pills when he needs to, and more when he wants to. He drinks beer thoroughly and aggressively, putting four or five or six down so he can fall asleep and forget about Anna, and “The Accident.” Mostly he is successful in this, and he has finally convinced his doting and worried parents to leave him “the fuck alone,” so he can be miserable by himself. Anna’s parents came to see him a couple of times, but they have left off in the months since the funeral, and Mike is secretly glad about this. When he takes enough of the meds with enough beer, he can see Anna again like she is standing right in front of him, right there. He likes this and uses more and more, until he starts missing his therapy sessions. His friends start passing on bringing beer over, and after one day of going without the percocet or codeine or whatever, he snaps. He yells at everyone in earshot, curses them all to high hell, and curses God. He stops eating. Three days he sits in the brown and sagging La-Z-Boy with his feet up and his sweat pouring out of him non-stop. Then he finally quits.

He asks his mom to bring a journal and a pen, because the shrink said writing might help him deal with his emotions and recover more quickly. He writes, and writes, and writes. Everything that comes into his mind goes into that little black book, and by mid September he is asking for another book. He makes his final entry on January, 5th 2006, exactly one year later.


05 Jan, 2006

I can finally walk without the braces. I tried it myself last night, and then showed the p.t. today. She said I would be okay to get around without them bits at a time, and to take things easy. And easy I will. I realized today that I have started talking about the avalanche as “the accident” as much as everyone else has been. As much as I hated that when it was fresh and I couldn’t remember anything, and everything seemed like a complete abject failure, I’ve started doing it, too. I’m not sure if this bothers me or not. Seems like it should, like I should hate myself for it, but I don’t, and I don’t really know why. Something to ask the shrink about tomorrow. I even started titling the journals that way. This one is “Journal of The Accident, vol. 4.” I really don’t know about that. I have been thinking about writing a book. These journals will be a great resource, because I can’t exactly remember when I started calling it “the accident,” or when I first fell over trying to walk, or how I felt when I went to crutches instead of the chair.

They still say I’ll never run or bike or ski again, but I am thinking differently, and I really want to do those things, and so I’ve made that my goal, for August. I have joined a gym, and started going at night to get stronger, in addition to the p.t. sessions.

I went to Anna’s grave today. Her parents were there, and there were hugs and tears all around. I really like them, and plan on staying in contact with them. We had dinner at their house, my parents came too, and we shared pictures and talked for a long time. I realized I still love her. I think about her all the time, and sometimes, I still cry. Sometimes I cry for what I lost out on with her, and that makes me feel like a total self-absorbed shit-head. I miss her though. I think I will still think about her and miss her when I am 60.

Things I’ve learned:

I can survive anything. I can get better. God is not interested in my little existence. Salvation rests in myself, not in church, and not in pills or alcohol. And the sound of salvation is the sound of a dog barking and scratching, and the sound of boots crunching in snow, and the sound of shovels hitting ice, all eight feet above a small dark hole at the bottom of an avalanche.


Firsts. Makes one think of, say, First Kiss, First Date… etc. This is my First Blog. Mostly I think an outlet of thinking for myself. I think much better when I write my thoughts down. So why make these thoughts available to everyone and their brother? This is somewhere I can place all the crap I write. I do not mean ‘the whole lot of stuff’ I write, but ‘the whole lot of worthless stuff’ that I write. Most writers publish only between 5% and 10% of what streams out of their pens onto their paper. I myself have only published three items, all poems, and all in school literature magazines. (two in college, one in high school)
The question remains, however. Why self publish embarrassingly poor items?

Much more thought is needed on this one. In the meantime, I hold no aspirations, no delusions of grandeur forthcoming for this enterprise. I just think maybe someone will see something in my writing I miss, and give me a promising idea to further a story or poem or critique along. I hope for honest and sound criticism, although that may be a far and away senseless hope. I hope that the audience that finds this will help me make my writing far and away better than I would be able to on my own. A hope for self-improvement. Maybe that is one reason.