Scratchy Glitter

Observations for the easily irritated.

Category: Story Time

Nick Gets a Tune-up

macro photography of brown weevil on green leaf

Photo by Jimmy Chan on

I got a letter today from the Police Department addressed to “Handler of Beast #1307.” “Don’t they know I’m retired?” I grumbled.

“It has come to our attention that the said beast still bears the official colors of the Police Department. Since this animal has been decommissioned, we request that you remove said colors.”

I called Nick in from the kitchen, where he was stealing cat food.

“Do you know anything about this?”

“About what?! You know I can’t read. Well, read well. I can’t read well.” He turned his undeniably navy-blue back on me.

“You’re not supposed to have police coloration anymore. People might get confused and expect you to do police work.”

“Well, suppose I just refuse to do it, and we’ll see how that goes.”

“I am responsible for you, and–why have you been scratching so much?”

“Dunno. Allergic to responsibility, probably.”

“No, it’s just that one spot. Let me see–”

“Can’t I even itch in peace?!”

One of his scales was slightly raised. I pried up as much as I dared. “Just what I thought. You’ve got a tick under there.” His armor-plating repels most pests, but makes them hard to remove if they do burrow in. “You’re going to the vet.”

We are, you mean. I’m not going there alone.”

“Of course not. You can’t pay the bill.”

Since we can’t use the Police Department vet anymore, I took him to my own, who was impressed to behold him.

“We don’t see many of these. This is a fine specimen.” Nick preened. “Have you bred him?”

“Well, he…he sort of breeds himself.” Nick preened even more.

“Yes, since they mate for life, initial mate selection is extremely important. So what seems to be the problem?” I pointed the bad spot out.

“Ah, yes. I can remove that. It should cause minimal discomfort–

Nick immediately became agitated. “Then why mention the possibility?”

“–but of course he’ll have to be sedated.”

“No, I’m not going to let you–” Nick began, but I immediately grabbed him by the ears. It’s a risky move, since I have to bypass the terrible teeth, but his ears are sensitive, and it makes him disinclined to struggle further.

The vet started preparing the injection. “He’s going to stick a needle in me!” Nick said, sounding uncharacteristically squeaky.

“Don’t move or I’ll rip your ears off,” I murmured, so the vet couldn’t hear. “Don’t think I won’t.”

“You’ll do nothing of the kind,” he answered between his teeth, likewise under his breath. These pleasantries kept us occupied until the vet could slide the needle beneath a scale on his throat, and we both eased him down as he collapsed.

It was short work for the vet to remove the affected scale, pry the tick out, daub the wound with ointment, and reattach the scale. Since Nick was still snoring–OK, more like gentle hissing–the vet said, “I assume you want me to readjust his colors?”

“Can you do that?”

“Oh, yes. It’s actually a simple procedure, but you need the right tools. Then he’ll revert to his original color.”

“Which is…?”

He shrugged. “We’ll just have to find out.”

The “special tool” appeared to be a simple pair of pliers. The vet began tugging on the barbs at the end of Nick’s tail.

“Are you actually going to pull those spines out?”

“Oh, yes. It’s just a minor adjustment. They’re mostly decorative, anyway.”

He pulled–hard–causing the patient to whimper in his sleep. I stroked his ear soothingly, and he quieted. Some half-dozen spines were removed in this way.

“Now, we wait…” the vet said. So we did, until the dark blue slowly faded, and became the dull green of one of those army-green grasshoppers.

Nick started to stir. “Why is my tail sore–What?!” He looked at himself with dismay, then turned to me. “You planted that tick on me so you could get me in here to do this. I just know it.”

“No, the tick was there before I got the letter, remember?”

“And good thing it’s only a tick,” the vet said. “Sometimes they get infested with weevils, and then their scales fall off.”

“You know,” Nick said musingly, “I think I like this green better anyway.”







The Great Debate

person dropping paper on box

Photo by Element5 Digital on

{Credit for this post, or blame as it may be, goes to my former co-worker [well, they’re all former now, aren’t they?] L.L. [if I once gave you a cute nickname for blogging purposes, I no longer remember it, sorry–it went in the trash folder with the NIMS regulations], who informed me that a regular 911 caller who is, let’s say, reality-challenged, called in and announced he is running for President.}

MODERATOR L.L.: We welcome you to the 3rd floor employee lounge of the Safety Building in the Civic Center for tonight’s debate. Our candidates are, representing The Rent Is Too Damn High party, P.G. {so called because that’s what he calls himself when he calls 911–they really are his initials, so he’s not reality-challenged in that respect}, and, representing the Radical Centrist party, P.J. {so called because those are my initials, and I was actually called that as a child. But now I have put away childish things, supposedly.}


P.G. “It’s me, P.G., checking in!”

MOD L.L.  “Indeed. P.J., do you have a response to that?”

P.J. “Um, was there a check-in process? I didn’t see a form or anything.”

L.L. “No, you’re fine. Well, let’s start with a bit of information. Have either of you chosen your vice-presidential running mates yet?”

P.J. “Yes. I have chosen a certain Nick–”

P.G. “Hey, doesn’t that guy turn into a dragon or something?”

P.J. {blushing} “I believe my opponent is off his medication.”

NICK {jumping up and waving his arms} “Hey! I never said I wanted to be Vice President!”

P.J. “Objection overruled.”

L.L. “No one’s on trial here.”

P.J. {glaring at Nick} “Well, someone should be.”

P.G. “I was on trial once.”

L.L. “P.G., have you chosen a running mate yet?”

P.G. “I have, Your Honor. I’ve narrowed it down to two fine ladies–Ada Redd {not her real name, because I’m trying to stay out of trouble}, who was in the circus once before she was conceived and who is killed every day, and Mrs. T. {whose full name I no longer remember–it’s in the trash folder with the S.O.P. for suburban fire move-ups, mercifully}, who smells entrails in her basement.”

L.L. “And do those individuals actually exist? I believe the Constitution requires that they do.”

P.G. “They do, Your Majesty.”

L.L. “Very well. Now let’s–”

P.G. “Does anyone else smell a gas leak?”

L.L. “No, I don’t believe–”

P.G. “I’m serious. I detect a strong odor of natural gas. You need to send the fire department out here.”

P.J. {nervously eyeing the exits} I think it’s just this perfume I’m sampling.

AUDIENCE: “The fire department! Let’s go out and watch them!”

Chaos ensues. No one is trampled, fortunately. 





Fall Festival Follies

ancient animal antique architecture

Photo by Pixabay on

“None of these dragon stamps looks like me,” Nick observes testily, craning his snaky neck over my shoulder. “This one is breathing fire, which I can’t do, thanks to you–”

“–I thought you’d given up on that idea,” I observe. He twitches an ear, as if dislodging my comment from it.

“…And this one looks like a snake or a salamander, or something…”

“I think they call that kind a worm.”

“And this is that Chinese kind of dragon. I’m not sure those things even exist. Now, this one is–well, breathing water or something, in the ocean. I don’t know, I suppose that could be me, if I decided to go sink ships or something…”

“Why are you always talking about destroying things? Get your claws off my shoulder.”

He does so–slowly, no doubt pretending it was his own idea–and lies down in front of me, with his back to me. But his ears are canted back, listening for any word or movement. After several moments of silence…

“I’m ignoring you,” he says. Several more moments…”I’m still ignoring you.” The ears quiver. Then, since he requires constant attention–

“You’re ignoring me back! I knew it! No fair!”

“I don’t think you know what fairness means. Do you want me to tell you a story?”

“When do I ever not want that?”

“OK, then. Let’s pretend that you were a man…”

“I don’t know, that might be boring.”

“…at the Fall Festival.”

“Do I get to destroy anything? Can I eat all the cotton candy?”


I had been avoiding the Fall Festival, because 89 degrees did not seem like fall. (Oh, it might be climate-change fall, but that doesn’t exist, right?) Besides, I’m nervous in crowds, so I usually grab something from the booths right next to St Joe, on the edge nearest my house. But Nick texted me that he had ride tickets, and I had been wanting to ride the Scrambler again, which they don’t let anyone do alone. Which is rather odd, since it doesn’t even turn you upside down. If it did, I wouldn’t be on it.

I tracked down the aforementioned Nick, with his mate and his kids, Things One, Two and Three. (Thing Three is still a baby, and had no particular interest in the festival.) Nick and his kids had just been on some ride that simulates weightlessness. “So did you like it?” I asked him. “Of course not! It was horrible!” Rather odd to hear from an Army helicopter pilot. “I’m still nauseous,” he grumbled, but it availed him not, because he had two kids who wanted to go on rides, and most of the rides they wanted required an adult as well. So he kept muttering under his breath, “Hurry up, before Dad dies,” and such.

I want you to take note of the NOBILITY of this man, making their cart on the ride SPIN FASTER because it made Thing Two squeal with glee, even though, once it was over, Nick was biting his lip to keep from throwing up.

And he proved himself a GENTLEMAN as well, because, even in his weakened state, he accompanied me on the Scrambler, letting me step up onto his hands (I plan on having him spread his coat over puddles for me to walk on in the future), and carefully positioning himself on the outside, so he was the one who got bumped into as the ride turned. (I was trying not to bump into him, but I wasn’t trying very hard.) I also told him the story of a Scrambler ride in my past, where my strapless top popped off, and the guy I was with pretended not to notice. Nick said that, if that happened now, it would be a “desperate bid for attention,” which reminded me why I hate him. Nevertheless, he is now my official Scrambler Partner, and if he throws up, he’ll be on the outside and it won’t get on me.


I went to the festival with Nick, who insisted on flying up to the top of a building, and then swooped down onto a clown and ate all his cotton candy.


Wild In the Streets

food eggs

Photo by Tookapic on

…is what I currently am. Since I’m awaiting a doctor’s appointment for, um, digestive issues, and anticipating a long and dreary round of elimination diets, I’m doing the sensible thing and eating all the stuff I’m afraid they’ll tell me I can’t have. Except for ham and sausage, which make me very sick. I told myself I would not blog about the upcoming embarrassing adventure, but I make no promises, since I once live-blogged about my colonoscopy prep. Until it became impossible.

Speaking of wild things, let’s…


The said beast is waiting for his latest egg to hatch.

“Well, it’s not mine, exactly. I didn’t lay it. The shell isn’t mine.”

“Don’t lie on your back like that. You’re indecent that way.”

“Well, I could do a privacy tail, like this–” he whips it neatly into place–“or I could do this,” and he curls up tightly, with his tail on his head.

“You look like an armadillo that way.”

“What’s an armadillo?” he asks, uncurling.

“Well, it’s a scaly thing…quite a bit smaller than you are, though.”

“Edible, I presume?”

“Uh, I don’t know.”

“You lead a boring life,” he says, flicking a wing dismissively.

“You should talk. You’re the one waiting for an egg to hatch. Where are the other two cubs, by the way?”

“I sent them out to play. They kept rolling the egg around. They can’t wait for her to hatch! So I told them to go out and practice their flying.”

“How are they doing?”

“Well, Thing One is getting pretty good. Thing Two can finally get up in the air, but he still has trouble turning, and crashes into stuff.”

“Have you decided on a name for the new one?”

“Well, Thing Three, obviously. You are so dense sometimes.”

“Did you explain that girl-beasts don’t have wings?”

“Well, they can figure that out, by looking at their mother. She left to get some food. I offered to bring something back, but she wanted to get out and hunt for herself. Of course, it may take her longer to find something, being wingless and all.”

“I heard that,” says the she-beast herself, appearing in the entrance. Her voice is muffled, since she has something bloody in her mouth. It’s hard to tell what it is. Or once had been.

“It’s only reasonable,” Nick tells her, warming up to what must have been a familiar argument, “since you can’t go, you know, soaring through the skies, searching for prey on the ground…”

“And would you have been able to get this“–she indicates the bloody heap at her feet–“crashing through the underbrush with those wings? I think not.” She settles down and begins to feed.

“Can I have some?” he asks.

“No. Get your own. In the underbrush.”

“Hey, have you ever heard of an armadillo?”

She raises her head. “I had one once. Scaly. Not worth the trouble.”

The egg doesn’t look any nearer to hatching than it did when I arrived, so I head out the door.

I am still playing with the photo feature for the blog. I have the uneasy suspicion that’s it’s been here all this time, and they’d just moved it from the side (where it used to be–some of you might remember that this thing used to be illustrated) to the top, where it now resides. I tried to make the picture less huge, like it used to be, but if there’s a way to do that, it eludes me. (“Lots of things elude you,” Nick says as I’m leaving. “I bet an armadillo would, too.”)



The Donald and the Dragon

You may recall that Nick was headed to the Capitol to stop the government shutdown, so let’s check in on him, shall we?

He charged in the doors without significant opposition, since the guards had never seen such a beast before. To get the attention of Congress, he flew in sweeping circles near the ceiling, then sailed down for an impressive landing before the podium. Lawmakers drew back, gaping.

“Wh-what is that thing?” Mitch McConnell said, drawing his turtle-like head into his shoulders.

“I’ve heard of these!” Paul Ryan said, coming closer. “Experimental use in police departments…but the one I saw didn’t have wings.”

“That one was a female,” Nick informed him, and he jumped back.

“It talks!”

“I’m not an ‘it,'” Nick said testily, but then everyone came crowding around, poking at his teeth and ears in spite of his terrible growls, which became louder when a voice in the back said, “I’ve heard of those, but it’s not as big as I was expecting.”

“The President has to see this,” McConnell said.

“Yes, the President! That’s even better than Congress!” Nick cried, and set off eagerly with them for the Oval Office.

The President was eating lunch and watching TV when they came in, but screamed and jumped under his desk when he saw Nick. “What is that?! Get it out, get it out!”

“Sir, this is the latest in law-enforcement technology. We think the model deserves wider application.”

Nick jumped onto the President’s desk, gulped down two cheeseburgers, knocked over the drink and lapped it with his forked tongue, said, “Eww, it’s diet,” and jumped down.

“And it talks, too?!”

“Yes, sir. At least, it appears to.” Nick’s tail began to lash.

The President, having not been devoured yet, began to recover his composure. “That thing’s an ugly color. What do you call that color?”

“I believe it’s navy blue, sir.”

“So you get these things from the Navy?”

“No, sir. They’re used for police work.”

“Hmm. I want this one for Mar-a-Lago. Have it gold-plated.”

“Sir, I’m not sure that’s possible–”

“Gold spray paint, then. But I want it gold. Crate it up and ship it down there. And get a couple females! I’ll start a breeding program!”

to be continued!



Writing Well Is the Best Revenge

Facebook asked me what my life motto is. The above title was the second thing that came to mind. The first was “My temperament is to believe in extremes,” but I didn’t write that, Michael Stipe did.

No, I have not posted since Dec. 14. I’ve been taking stock of things writingwise, as opposed to, you know, actually doing it.


…brought to you (clenched in his teeth) by Nick, who couldn’t stand it any longer and finally asked me to write. (“I did nothing of the kind.” Yes, you did, you were just too proud to put it in the form of a question.)

Nick is sulking at my feet. “Why is the government still shut down? They won’t let me do anything.”

“Because…well, you wouldn’t understand.”

“Will they still buy my food?”

“For a little while, at least.”

“Will I have to gnaw off your foot to survive?”

“You never have to do that.”

“But it remains an option?” I frown at him.

“If I could breathe fire, I could go out and remove the rest of this snow.”

“Find yourself something to do. Go read my old blog posts.”

“You know I can’t read! Tell me a story. You never gave me a Christmas special last year.”

“I never told the story of you pouncing on that clown at the Fall Festival, either.”

“Wait, what?”

“Never mind. Go fly around the yard or something.”

“I know! I’ll fly to the Capitol and make them stop this shutdown.”

…to be continued…




…brought to you, as always, by a Taurean with Scorpio envy.

Fashion for Gemini–“Wear a beige-and-white striped men’s cotton bathrobe loosely belted for exciting at-home entertaining.” Yes, the excitement of wondering when the hostess’ clothing is going to fall off. Plus, all her guests are thinking, “She couldn’t bother to change out of her bathrobe?”

Fashion for Scorpio: “Daring fashion that only Scorpio can get away with includes a pale wild rice-colored blouson in thinnest wool with a chocolate suede skirt, high matching boots.” Yeah, a gray shirt and a brown skirt is pretty daring.

Interior decorating for Scorpio includes “a rainbow-striped hammock for bedroom fun.” OK, would sex in a hammock even work? Of course, I’d probably fall out even if I wasn’t having sex. Of course, I’m not a Scorpio.


Decommissioned & Refurbished: A Bedtime Story

The last post title, “Dragons and Roses,” may have led some people to believe that the post would be about my mythical police beast Nick, who is more like a dragon than he is like anything else. For those who were thus disappointed (Nick assures me it was disappointing, though I have reason to question his objectivity), I offer this update.

I had, I thought, no further responsibility for said beast once I retired. The department merely said he would be “decommissioned,” which sounded vaguely ominous, but surely it meant an honorable retirement with his owner, playing with his cubs, etc. Surely? So I was surprised to hear a splintering crash in my front yard, followed by my neighbor exclaiming, “What in the hell is that?”

I ran out, and was greeted with a sad tangle of wings and tail, spread out in my flower bed. Nick had knocked down the trellis and now had morning glories all over him. Luckily he had missed the oak tree.

“What is that thing?” my neighbor asked.

“A…co-worker of mine,” I replied.

“I thought you retired.”

“So did I.” Nick raised his head, but his eyes were tight shut. “I know that voice. I must be in the right place, then,” he murmured, as if talking to himself, and laid his head back down.

“Where have you been?”

He raised his head again, but his eyes were still shut. “I’m hungry. Do you have any cats I could eat?”

“No! I have the same two cats you can’t eat.” I could see Glamour in the window, staring at him with frank curiosity. I knew from previous experience that Esmerelda had darted behind my laundry basket as soon as she heard his voice.

“Could I eat these sunflower seeds, then?” Without waiting for an answer, and still without opening his eyes, he ate an entire sunflower, then began crunching the stalk.

“Stop that, it’ll make you sick,” I said, although I had no idea if it would in fact do so. He ignored me. “I asked you where you’ve been.”

“Hmm, am I still required to obey your orders?” he mused, until I shoved him with my foot, and longtime habit kicked in (so to speak).

“I–I’ve been on a journey. A Quest,” he corrected himself. “That’s more important than a journey, right?”

“You’ve never been on a Quest in your life.”

“I was on a Quest to avoid…to escape…” He took a deep breath, and suddenly words came rushing out. “When you retired, they said they were going to decommission me, and I thought it must mean that they…that they…” I touched his head gently, in spite of the terrible teeth. Understandably, he has never been able to utter the word “euthanize.”

“Did you think your owner would let them do that?” He laid his head down again, then went on (head still down). “I heard they were having a problem with clowns in Orlando, so I flew there to help out.”

“Did your owner know you were going?” He flipped his tail over his head, and said (voice muffled), “I’m trying to tell you a story.”

“Carry on.”

“Carry what on? Oh. OK, so I flew to Florida, and you wouldn’t believe it! Clowns everywhere, and giant mice wearing clothes, and dogs that talk–it was out of control. I pounced on them all.”

“Then what happened?”

“Well, they wouldn’t let me eat any of them. They wouldn’t even let me kill them. The laws must be different in Florida. You can’t handle a clown problem that way, you know,” he said, raising his head so his tail slipped off it.


“Well, I could tell they were dissatisfied with my performance, and I was afraid they were going to…decommission me if I stayed, so I took off to leave there. And you’ll never believe what I saw when I started to take off!”

“Probably not, but try me anyway.”

“Try you? Do you mean…for dinner? Wouldn’t I get decommissioned for that for sure? Oh, I get it. It’s a Figure of Speech,” which is what he calls anything I say that he can’t understand.

“So I crouched down to take off, and looked up, and…the sun was getting eaten up by something! I didn’t know that was possible! It looked kind of like PacMan.” I got the feeling he’d be frowning in puzzlement, if his armored scales would allow him to frown. “I knew I couldn’t let them destroy the sun–the sun is very important, you know–so I took off to save it. I flew and flew, but I never got there…and I finally went blind. Then I tried to get away—and I flew and flew, but then I couldn’t fly anymore, and then I smelled roses, so I knew this must be your house, and then I started falling…and here I am.” He nosed blindly at his side. “I think my wings are melted.”

“So you have been on a Quest after all.”

“But I couldn’t save the sun.”

“I don’t know about that–it’s still up there as usual.”

“It is? Wow!” He looked very proud of himself. Well, as proud as you can look with limp wings.

“I’ll call your owner to come get you.” He began to croon, sounding like a cross between a purring cat and a baby raccoon.

She arrived quickly, in the specially-equipped red pickup truck, which has chains in the bed to secure him. (Mostly for his safety, we tell him.) After hugging his neck as he wrapped his tail around her, she said, “Now jump in the truck.”

“I can’t! My wings are melted, and I can’t see!”

She rolled her eyes. “They are not melted, you’re just tired from flying, and your eyes are just sunburned.” She turned to me. “This happened once before. I told him not to look at the sun, so he insisted on staring at it for half an hour. He was fine again in three days.”

As he–well, I guess “clambered” is the best word to use–into the truck bed, and she secured him (he whimpered a bit when she touched a wing), she told him, “You might have something to do once you’ve been refurbished.”

“Does refurbishing hurt?”

“Usually not. Guess what–the U.S. Army has expressed an interest! Would you like to go fight a war?’

He put his tail over his head again. “Not right now. I just want to eat a clown and go to bed.”

Disclaimer: No clowns have been harmed in the making of this story. Although maybe they should have been.



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