EViL

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

In the great old stories, it’s never hard to spot the source of evil. It may be a winged beast, or a black rider, or a simple, unblazoned ring sitting on a table, just waiting to change the world…

In reality, however, it’s rarely so easy. Evil may take many guises, and come from any direction. Is evil inherent to humanity? Can it ever be prevented?

Education, equal opportunity and the provision of basic needs and human rights is the most obvious answer, for by removing the greatest temptations towards desperate actions, we are most likely to see them decrease. Yet there seems to be an evil in this world which pervades and permeates even the best intentions. It sprouts up no matter what we do. It finds the cracks, or makes them, and it’s dark blossom unfolds often where it is looked for the least.

Traditionally, there are two ends of the polarity in response. One is to be jaded and fearful, rejecting everything different lest it bring evil in with it. This may prevent the terror from without, but it transforms the hearts of people, and creates hatred and evil within.

The other side would be unending faith in the goodness of human kind, sometimes to the open denial of the gathering clouds. This is idealistic, and often this school of thought is quickly met by the bitter reminder that in the end, best intentions cannot ward off evil acts.

We cannot be too careful, or too careless. Vigilance is the price of peace, and those who would deny the presence of evil may soon suffer its harsh truth.

Alas that we do not have a ring to focus on and destroy. Evil is a more insidious thing than that, manifested most often in the sins of pride, greed, and avarice—the strongest motivators of human vice. We cannot see it, nor cast it into the volcano to banish it forever.

Yet the discerning heart can feel it grow. Where will it strike? None can say.

Still, if you pay attention, you can feel the tension in the air, smell the fresh tinders and see the sparks dancing against the black night sky. Old threats and bedtime stories are alive again. Evil grows…now is the time for heroes.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Fight Against Hatred

purelyspeculation‘Sit down and shut up.’

Too often, it seems like the most prudent advice. In a world so chock full of contradicting thoughts and overt hatred—how are we to parse out truth from nonsense and be sure we take the right stand? It’s no small task, and all too frequently the safest bet seems to be sitting on the sidelines—unwilling to take a stand one cannot fully commit to.

In our recent article, ‘Why You Should Seek Contrary Friendships’ (Link), we discussed the importance of expanding our social circles in order to enhance our understanding of the world and diversify our own perspective on life.

But sometimes, this proactive effort falls short in the face of modern reality. While growing ourselves and seeking higher understanding is undoubtedly among the keys steps to squashing hatred in its tracks, it isn’t always the most expedient.

Some deem it best to bow out if they are not directly involved, but this is misled. It is incumbent upon any decent man or woman to endeavour always to speak out in the name of what is right, even—or especially—when doing so seems the most difficult path. It is precisely this individual fortitude of character which empowers the world as a whole to take a stand for decency, while it is the lewd and cowardly act of sitting impotently on the fence which enables hatred to take root.

So let it be known: when it comes to the condemnation of hatred and intolerance, inaction IS a stance, and silence DOES speak.

When we witness acts of hatred or intolerance, it is the duty of anyone who values virtue to speak up loudly, to call it out by name and make clear that there is no place for such atavistic atrocities in our world.

It may not stop such vile acts forever, but it will certainly make a difference to the present victim.

What about the long term, then? Is it a reasonable goal to eliminate—or even substantially reduce—the hatred so malignant in this world, and if so, what will it take?

Certainly, to seek its total elimination seems perhaps over-ambitious. But if we are to effectively enact its reduction, the best strategy may be the concurrent elimination or reduction of fear.

Yes, fear is most often the driving force behind hatred: Fear of the unknown, the foreign—the strange and the different. Fear of anything which makes us step back and experience the world outside the comfort of the familiar. After all—that which is different presents us with a sudden and startling awareness of our own unlimited options—and that can be a lot to handle for the simple-minded zealots most likely to cling to such divisive rhetoric.

The above may seem like a hateful or derisive over-simplification in and of itself, but I don’t think it’s far off base. Hatred is bred from fear, and fear itself is most often the product of ignorance.

The ultimate goal then, can only be education. Not teaching people WHAT to think per say, but rather teaching them HOW: How to think critically. How to evaluate facts. How to consider other perspectives.

As discussed in the article cited above (Link), it is by the constant challenging and re-evaluation of our own innate assumptions that we learn to better understand the views of others. Without this, we are left to blindly fear the dark—assuming that only terror can be held beyond the short sight-lines of our own stunted knowledge.

It must be clear however, to any thinking person, that such assumptions are faulty from the start. Few indeed are those who would willingly seek chaos over comfort, or cruelty over kindness. All sides of every debate must follow this same advice—to learn about the other, to understand their fears, and to evaluate with reason and unbiased ration their own contributions to the present state. We must seek to unite in our common truths, rather than draw lines in the sand over perceived differences.

Then, and only then, can we hope to live in a world less fraught with hatred and disdain, and embrace instead a future of understanding and opportunity for all.

-Brad OH Inc.

Upon the Bones of Better Men

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgThe philosopher Bertrand Russell once claimed that “the fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

What a hack! What fanciful platitudes! Tell me Bert, do ‘nice guys finish last’ too? Do the good die young? Let me tell you something Bert, sorrowful homilies are good for one thing and one thing only—cheering up losers by convincing them that their failure is the unjust result of their righteousness rather than the logical result of their ineptitude.

What’s worse however, is that so many people seem to believe this naïve nonsense. Well, have no fear—you’re friends at Brad OH Inc. are here to set the record straight!

The truth is, these notions of ‘stupid or wise’, or ‘good and bad’ are entirely misled at the best, and revisionist at the worst. Victory is for the bold—the lions willing to do anything to take it, and leave the rest to lick their wounds and talk about how life just isn’t fair.

It’s pathetic.

The claim that one is held back by their morality is utterly absurd. It’s not that only brutes act decisively, leaving the considerate in the dust. That’s just switching labels to console lack of ability. If we look at the world pragmatically—and we should, always—we can see that it is no bestial or heinous act to seize upon your desires—hell, it’s what being a corporation is all about!

No, the problem is that the hindsight of the meek is 20/20, while their foresight is more mole-like than Machiavellian. It’s true in business, in love, in politics, and in the picking of low-hanging fruit. Don’t believe us? Well, let’s look at some of the key culprits here.

‘Nice guys finish last’. It’s the motto of every single loser too scared to say hello or slap an ass when the opportunity presents itself. For these pencil-necked geeks, it’s easier to sit back and lament that their ‘kindness’ is the reason they are left behind, rather than their own pathetic fear of rejection.

We see the same lame-duck whining in business as well. ‘We can’t compete with big businesses’, says the mealy-mouthed dweeb as he finally shuts the doors on his dusty little shop and files his EI claims. Well you know who can compete with big businesses chump? Bigger businesses! So maybe instead of blaming cruel fate for your failure, you should take a long look in the mirror.

Politics? Social interactions? Without fail you hear the same miserable whining about how decency gets you nowhere—that idealism is treated like an insult and dreamers are called naïve. But that’s not quite it, is it?

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but if you don’t eventually wake up, marshal your underpaid employees, petition politicians to change laws in your favour, and make off with millions, you have no one to blame for it but yourself. Wuss.

To break it down; morality is an excuse, not a handicap. At Brad OH Inc., we stand as a shining example of action, pragmatism, and success. Where others have cried about the opportunities they never had, we’ve used our inherent societal privilege to better ourselves. So for you hopeless waifs still waiting for someone to hold your sorry hand and lead you to happiness, let me share a bit of healthy advice. Holding strictly to honesty and kindness is the surest route to failure in business, politics, and interpersonal relationships alike. They’re for chumps, and punks who would rather stew comfortably in their failure than bully their way to true happiness. Success in almost every aspect of life is predicated on cunning decisiveness and a brutal willingness to sell out your fellows when the opportunity presents itself. The towers of the powerful are built upon the bones of better men. So make your choice, and take your place. If you’re smart, we’ll see you here at the top.

Your Dear Friends and Personal Advisors,

-Brad OH Inc.

‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ Update #2

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgNot so very long ago, we let you know that the beta-reads for our upcoming novel, ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’, had come to an end, and the revisions had begun! Well, we’re now proud to share that said revisions are wrapping up, and all that now stands between you and picking up a copy at your local retailer is the small task of finding a suitable publisher!

At that time, we celebrated by sharing Chapter One of ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ (Link), so we here at Brad OH Inc. thought it only fitting to share Chapter 2 with you today. We certainly hope you enjoy it!

Edgar's Worst Sunday Official CoverIn life, Edgar Vincent had always maintained one great passion—himself. A semi-successful composer, his rock star lifestyle suited him well, and his narcissistic outlook had always ensured he was a man with few regrets. Callous comments, thoughtless promiscuity, binge drinking, and excess sufficient to shame Caligula were standard Saturday night fare.

Sundays for Edgar had always been a painful haze of sickness and regret.

But when Edgar finds himself in the cloudy planes of the afterlife on one particularly bleak Sunday morning, he must put aside his ever-present hangover and try to figure out how he ever got to this point…and where he’s meant to be going now. But as Edgar traverses the spiritual realm, he comes to find that facing his death is hardly as difficult as facing himself.

However, heaven also presents Edgar with an unending smorgasbord of hedonistic entertainment, so he’s in no particular hurry to change his self-serving ways. After all, considering he’s already dead, what more could he possibly stand to lose?

 Edgar’s Worst Sunday

A Novel by Brad OH Inc.

-Chapter 2: The Local Bar-

The former life of Edgar Vincent had never been rife with ritual. In fact, he made every effort imaginable—and some beyond imagining—to avoid it whenever possible. Still, some level of routine did slip in, and Edgar couldn’t keep vigil forever. And so, by the time he met his demise at the age of 32, there existed a small collection of routines that Edgar had come not only to rely upon, but to fully endorse.

Primary among these, and holding the special distinction of being the only thing Edgar would commit to calling sacred, was his customary celebration of a job well done. As a moderately respected independent film composer, these moments were not uncommon, but Edgar reserved this particular celebration for only the most monumental of accomplishments. On such occasions, he would put on the first—and only—tie he’d ever owned in his adult life, sit down in his big old office chair, then crack open the most expensive bottle of scotch he had.

The scotch—purchased only just before a score’s completion as an anticipatory measure—would be consumed as he sat in contemplative silence, listening to the completed work with a broad smile painted across his devilishly handsome face.

Inevitably, this ritual would lead him out the door once the scotch and music were finished—Edgar possessed an uncanny skill for synchronizing these events—and off into countless adventures which he would never fully recall.

Further to the list of ingrained habits, Edgar was certain to call his dear friend Emeric at the earliest possible convenience each time he bedded a new woman. Emeric, never being fond of this particular ritual, had over the years begun to answer Edgar’s calls with less and less reliability, but Edgar remained unconvinced of any correlation, attributing it rather to Emeric’s apparent lack of courtesy.

Edgar would also call his mother on each major Christian holiday, and even did his best to conceal the pain in his voice when she inevitably harangued him with the meaning of the day, and what lessons he might take from it.

Most truly ingrained habits aside from these were minor, and were only noted by those who knew him well—who in truth were rather few and far between. He took a shot before sitting down in every bar he visited. He often drank high-end cocktails, but made a point to always request at least one small, subtle change. He avoided public washrooms whenever possible, although history—and police records—indicated he had absolutely no qualms with actual public urination.

However, among the various quirks and rituals Edgar had permitted over the course of his life, one of his most cherished had been his bi-weekly Saturday nights out with his inner circle of friends during university. This of course should not be taken to imply that drinking only once every two weeks had ever been the standard for Edgar—quite the contrary—but rather that even in the wild days of his youth, Edgar had still been certain to put that small slot of time aside to meet with some of his most valued comrades, and partake in some of his most enjoyed activities.

A goddamn drink would be nice, Edgar mused woefully. With each step, the soft white glow puffed up around his feet like billowing clouds, and he wandered blindly through the haze, his footsteps coming like old memories.

His head still swam, the inside of his skull scraping like sandpaper. From somewhere in his uncertain surroundings, Edgar thought he could hear a soft, delicate voice singing. Seems about right, he acknowledged, can’t have clouds and golden gates without some harp-brandishing asshole singers.

How did I end up in this hellhole? Racking his tired brain for answers, Edgar came up dreadfully short—still, logic could get him far enough.

Whenever Edgar woke up feeling this bad, he could be certain that at least one of the usual suspects were involved. Could this be Duncan’s fault? he asked himself.

It was a distinct possibility, given the length of their friendship and shared passion for excess. But it had been a long while since Duncan and Edgar really tied one on, and in truth, he’d long suspected that Duncan was slowing down.

Again his thoughts turned to days long past, and the endless shenanigans he and his friends had engaged in back at their old crawl, ‘The Scholar’s Lament’. It had started with just Duncan and himself, having grown up together, but it certainly increased from there.

There’s no way Emeric would have let things get this out of control, Edgar surmised. Emeric had joined the group some way into their first year of university, and while he’d never matched the unchecked hedonism of either Duncan or Edgar, he did bring a certain unspoken balance to the group.

Admittedly, he did pitifully little to stop me that time with the police horse…No, Edgar was certain that Emeric would have done something to prevent him from…How the hell did this happen anyway?

Continuing onward, Edgar struggled to shake the strange sense of déjà-vu that haunted each step, and although he could see nothing but the white fog everywhere around him, his feet moved as if they knew the way, and Edgar was far too dizzy to argue.

Duncan is too serious now, and Emeric is too responsible. Edgar raced through a mental process of elimination. The list of suspects was dwindling, and as he worked to swallow down a liberty-minded bit of bile, he shook his head dismally and hedged his bets on the culprit. Fucking Jake, he concluded.

The youngest member of Edgar’s inner circle by two years, Jake had joined the group late, and only through sheer tenacity had he managed to be accepted at all. Still, he was dependable, and Edgar knew that beyond anyone else in his life, he could always rely on Jake when he wanted to get truly, righteously shit-canned.

It was precisely due to this ease of access that Edgar accurately considered himself quite the authority on the heinous Sunday mornings after a night out with Jake. All the tell-tale signs were there; the swimming head, the raspy throat, and the overwhelming senses of loss, confusion and regret. Still, even as the evidence mounted, something at the back of his weary mind struggled against the tightening noose of logic, and Edgar could not wholly commit himself to this explanation just yet.

Pulling another cigarette from his still-full pack, he trudged onward as he drew the lighter up to his mouth. With a flick of his thumb, the flame ignited, sending a soothing wave of nicotine coursing down his desert-dry throat.

If Edgar had thought he’d heard angels singing before, there was no doubt now. With a final step, the haze of fog peeled back to reveal a stout brown building with dirty windows and a flickering, neon sign: ‘The Scholar’s Lament’.

The chill which ran down his spine was accompanied by a long sigh, and despite his ongoing misgivings, Edgar could imagine nowhere else he’d rather be at the moment. The place had served as a sanctuary during his ‘academic career’, and it was in this very bar that he’d cemented most of the defining relationships of his life.

“Another round over here!” Stepping into the large, dim room, Edgar was immediately put at ease by a familiar voice. Gazing around the room, he found everything in place—exactly as he remembered. The unused popcorn machine in the corner, the sprawling bookshelves full of battered hardcover tomes beautifully bound with patterns utterly unrevealing of their contents…even the tiny shelf high up in the far corner holding an odd, miniature brass motorcycle.

Tinny, outdated music played quietly from beaten up speakers mounted above the long bar, and in the far left corner opposite the door was the ugly old ceramic statue of a student toiling over an invisible project, his forehead balanced on his palm in a show of deep frustration. The intricately painted statue, as always, was covered with countless years of intimate personalized graffiti.

“Hurry up!” Once again, the voice was Duncan’s, who sat beside the scholar and stared over at Edgar with an impatient smirk.

The call made Emeric turn, adjust his glasses, and send out that big, dumb smile he seemed to reserve only for the company of his friends.

“Hey Edgar,” he called softly, his voice barely making its way over. Edgar moved slowly, passing strangers as his mind raced with possibilities. How much did I drink last night?

Draped around the shoulder of the poor busy scholar was the long, muscular arm of Jake. How long has it been since we’ve all been together? Edgar wondered as he made his way methodically through the familiar bar. A year at least, maybe more?

Time was cruel to young men and naïve promises, and although the four of them remained relatively close, it was an especially rare occurrence these days that their schedules allowed all of them to get together at once.

Not all, Edgar corrected himself, not anymore.

The three familiar faces watching him from across the room burdened Edgar once again with the nagging suspicion that perhaps his entire situation was still, somehow, the tail end of the most elaborate joke ever pulled.

A splitting hangover, a walk through an inscrutable void, and a trail of doubt leading through a golden gate and ending at his old university hangout. Doubting his sense of reality was nothing new to Edgar, but existential questioning certainly was. How does one know if he’s truly dead? he wondered. The question was too heavy to hold in the tissue paper folds of his throbbing brain, and he let it spill out with no significant contemplation. If he was to unravel the mystery of the night before, the three men in front of him were the place to start. Those bastards.

If it was a cruel joke, he was certain he could rule Emeric out. The mousy little man, although clever, would never have the spine to play a trick on anyone, and Edgar least of all.

Jake certainly would have done it, but alone the drunken buffoon was about as practical as tits on a bull, and his ability to plan was even less functional. The ever-increasing complexity of the joke—if indeed it was one—meant Jake could not have done it by himself at any rate.

If anyone could have pulled this off, it would be Duncan. In his prime, Duncan was the perfect foil to Edgar—returning every joke, answering every shot, and one-upping him with every misdeed. But Duncan was Edgar’s oldest friend and closest rival…if he’d done it, the crowd he assembled to witness the humiliating punch-line would have been far more significant.

Stopping in front of the table, his friends turned cheerfully to greet him. Emeric pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, smiled, and nodded in eager anticipation of Edgar’s acknowledgement. Definitely not Emeric…but he’ll be the first one to come clean if he does know anything.

Jake, his arm still cast about the ceramic student in a careless gesture betraying no affection, stared not at Edgar, but rather at the five shots presently being laid out by a waitress. An exceptionally sexy waitress, Edgar noted with restrained glee.

Duncan, meanwhile, was a picture of poise—sitting squarely against the backrest of his chair with his hands folded politely in front of him. He gave one stiff, formal nod as he spoke, “Edgar.”

No one moved…no one said a word. Emeric, Edgar realized with unease, failed to pass his shot up to him, as was customary. The bar waited in purgatorial silence until a jarring sound brought Edgar’s head around to the right, where a chair at the end of their table had been pulled out with a long, grating screech. Falling into it with a graceless but refreshingly characteristic plop, was Alex.

That was it for Edgar. His breath left him like a freight train making up for lost time, and he stood stuttering meekly. Edgar had known only Duncan longer than Alex, having met the latter in his first year of university. Together, the three of them had partied and grown; they’d learned life lessons, and shared things that were…unsharable.

Everything changed after university, however. As Edgar applied himself to music and worked his way into an industry that was every bit as nepotistic and elitist as he’d imagined, Duncan had lied, stolen, and even studied his way into the ranks of a prestigious law firm. Emeric had taken up a professorship at the very university they’d all studied at, and Jake, never having chosen a major, dropped out once his friends finished their tenures, but managed to finance his nights out with Edgar by taking up construction.

Meanwhile, Alex began to drift. An inspired painter and lover of wine, women and whimsy, Alex shared just about every characteristic of Edgar’s save for the latter’s respectable preference for hard liquor; that and his drive for success. While every bit as talented—even Edgar would admit that, albeit only to himself—Alex was interested only in the moment. He’d simply travelled about, never applying himself to any long-term goals.

The thing that really bothered Edgar however—and never more than this moment—was what Alex did when he’d finally come back to reunite with his old friends years later. It wasn’t that they’d ever lost touch—social media made that almost impossible—it was just that they had so much proper catching up to do. So when Alex ended up wrapping his jalopy around a tree after their first night out drinking and being carried away on a covered stretcher, it had put almost as much of a damper on the festivities as his sitting down at the table just now.

“Fuck,” said Edgar. Emeric smiled up at him, his pale hand extending a shot.

“Time to get drinking boy!” bellowed Jake, as he waved, and half-spilled, a shot under the nose of the eponymous lamenting scholar.

Duncan smiled with quiet repose.

“Good to see you, buddy.” Alex looked up with unabashed sincerity—he’d never lost that shit-eating clarity usually reserved for children and lunatics.

“But you’re…” The words stuck in Edgar’s throat, but his table seemed to care little for the immediate completion of clauses, and followed instead after Duncan’s example, watching with good-natured patience. “…Dead,” Edgar finally finished.

“Yeah,” Alex agreed, shrugging his shoulders as if to indicate that it was every bit the bummer Edgar seemed to imply.

“…And so am I.” Edgar needed no conductor to follow this train to its destination.

“Yeah!” Jake hollered with the drunken enthusiasm of a freshman at a strip club.

Emeric shook his head. Then, realizing the obfuscating nature of his gesture, nodded to Edgar in an exaggerated arc, blushed, and stared back down at the table.

“Afraid so, my friend,” Duncan chimed in, his calm voice chiding, “you really fucked up this time.”

“Thanks,” Edgar mumbled.

“Now don’t mope about it. It’ll happen to us all eventually.” While sincere communication was nearly a foreign language to Duncan, he did mean well on occasion.

“Happened to that asshole long ago,” Jake declared, thrusting a meaty hand towards Alex, and spilling the majority of his shot in the process.

Alex offered only a comical shrug and an exaggerated pout.

“Sorry about him,” consoled Emeric.

“Let’s move on from all this unpleasantness, Mr. Vincent. Here we are after all, together again!” said Duncan.

“Don’t call me that!” Edgar snapped.

“Sorry Eds, didn’t mean to ruin your afterlife.” The self-assured smile on Duncan’s face had been custom-designed long ago to raise Edgar’s ire. It worked without fail.

“Drink, you losers!” Jake hoisted his near-empty shot glass into the air.

“The man is crass…but he isn’t wrong,” Duncan admitted, holding up his shot in turn.

With a gentle clink and a uniform motion, the five reunited friends tossed the liquor down their throats. Jake scowled darkly into his empty shot glass—seeming to suspect it of being withholding—as Edgar took the chair beside Emeric. His attention lingered briefly on a final empty seat near the wall beside him, an unbidden question playing through his mind before being forced out by another.

“Holy shit…” The consideration only struck him that very moment, “…Are you guys all dead too? What the hell happened to us?”

“Afraid not, mon frère, you’re on this journey alone.” While he enjoyed toying with Edgar, Duncan’s intentions were beyond dispute. He could always be counted on to tell Edgar what he really needed to hear, and—to Edgar’s endless frustration—to remind him of things he would sooner forget.

“He is!” Jake’s finger shot across the table again, sloppily jabbing Alex in the eye and eliciting a yelp.

“Watch it dude! I’m dead, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel.” Alex rubbed his eye as Jake nodded proudly.

“If you’re not dead, how are you here?” Edgar demanded. “And how did both Alex and I make it to heaven for fuck’s sake?”

“Maybe this is actually hell!” Jake leaned forward as he spoke, placing his palms flat on the table as his eyes turned to saucers.

“Oh wow,” Alex said with a chuckle, but no one at the table was willing to bite onto Jake’s attempted epiphany.

Edgar grimaced over at Jake, who only lowered his eyes in an ill-fitting display of humility. “Now that that’s out of the way, can we focus on the guy who just fucking died for a second? Explain to me how you guys are here.”

Gulping uncouthly from his wine, Alex leaned over and placed a small hand on Edgar’s forearm, “What would heaven be without friends, buddy?”

“You I can understand, but what about the living ones?”

“Alex might not be wrong.” The tips of Emeric’s forefingers circled his temples as he spoke, and were soon lost in the coarse red wire of his hair. “It wouldn’t be very heavenly if you had to sit around just waiting for everyone else to die.”

With a sudden motion, Jake’s hand flashed over in a wide arc and knocked the glasses from Emeric’s face with a loud crack. “This isn’t all about you Emmy, you selfish prick.”

Emeric stuttered self-consciously before reaching down to gather up his glasses. Jake searched the faces of his peers for affirmation of his good deed.

“That was thoughtless, Emeric,” Duncan agreed—the sarcasm in his voice readily apparent to everyone but its intended target. Jake beamed.

Edgar watched Duncan take a long sip from a glass of caramel coloured liquid…brandy, Edgar knew. At least one of my friends has class.

“I’m glad you shitheads are here,” Edgar admitted, “…and for this bar. Heaven isn’t half as bad as I’d have guessed…especially when I saw those ungodly obnoxious gates out there.”

“No doubt about it. I can hardly imagine how all those Christians can stand it,” said Duncan. This sent a gale of laughter around the table.

“I don’t suppose their heaven would be like this at all.” Emeric was dedicated to the quandary now, and seldom allowed himself to fall into the languid humour which Duncan and Edgar both loved so much.

“What is eschewed on Earth is denied beyond it…if I’d known that I would’ve been far less abstaining,” said Edgar.

“And here twice as soon,” came Duncan’s quick retort.

“How did I die anyway?” Edgar wondered aloud. “Do any of you remember anything?”

He was met with blank stares.

“What can I get for you, handsome?” The voice came from beside him, and turning, Edgar saw a stunningly beautiful server leaning in to take his order. Not the same one as before, it struck Edgar that this one might be even more unnervingly lovely. Heaven, he decided right then, would suit him well.

“Scotch,” he answered with a well-practiced smile. “Your very best,” he finished, after briefly considering the occasion’s special significance.

“Of course, sir.” The woman curtsied deeply before she turned; a trite gesture, but sufficient at least to allow Edgar a better view of heaven than he’d had up to that point.

Finishing his wine and glancing over his shoulder to ascertain the whereabouts of his next drink, Alex returned Edgar’s attention to more practical matters. “Can I bum a smoke from you?”

“Come on man, you don’t even have your own smokes in heaven?” Edgar rolled his eyes, but reached into his back pocket without any true resentment. Removing two from the pack, he handed one to his needy friend and lit the other for himself.

“I’m just going to go ahead and assume I can smoke in here.”

“Heaven ain’t so different after all,” Jake declared with a guffaw.

“I just ran out,” Alex grumbled defensively.

“I don’t run out anymore,” shared Edgar with a delighted smile. “It’s like a fresh pack every time I open it up here.”

“Well, you are in heaven,” Emeric spoke softly, the better to dull the redundancy of his input.

“And yet my friends remain beggars?” Edgar laughed aloud.

“You are the company you keep.” Jake smiled broadly, then poured the remainder of his beer down his gaping maw.

“I believe you’re thinking of ‘what you eat’.” Duncan spoke in an incredulous monotone.

“But I’m not even hungry.” Jake was confused.

“Jesus guys…I’m beginning to dislike heaven again. Is it like this for you too, Alex?” Edgar asked.

Alex twirled his empty wine-glass absently between two thin fingers. Finally catching his attention, Edgar was answered only by an uncertain gaze.

Emeric glanced about inquisitively, eagerly soaking up every clue he could as the waitress brought out Edgar’s drink.

“You’re as useless in heaven as you were on Earth, Alex.” Edgar spoke from the side of his mouth, skillfully managing to simultaneously sip at his scotch and take another drag from his cigarette. “This is fucking perfect. I’m dead, and I’ll never even know how I died.”

“Hey, I’m sure it’ll come back to you eventually.” Emeric set a comforting hand on Edgar’s arm.

“You know what the real kicker is? I was just about done writing the score for ‘BHI’!”

Duncan turned his attention to the bar as Emeric nodded sympathetically. Alex stared vacantly into his empty glass, while Jake drifted off—his lips wrestling with some unspoken debate. This continued as Edgar drank in silence. After some time, Jake’s struggle overpowered the apathy of his friends, and brought them all around to gape at him in dumbfounded awe as he continued opening and closing his mouth in exaggerated movements.

Ultimately, it was Duncan who broke the silence, “‘BHI’—it’s an acronym you fucking idiot, stop trying to sound it out.”

“‘Basic Human Indecency’. Don’t you remember the documentary Edgar was scoring?” Emeric always sought to play the peacemaker.

“Watch it Emmy,” Jake threatened. Edgar slumped down into his seat—his forehead finding a comfortable perch in the palm of his hand.

The table was quiet a moment, as each man considered what Edgar might need. “Don’t be so glum, my pitiful pupil.” Duncan reached over and gave Edgar a loving punch on the shoulder, then held up five fingers to the waitress behind the bar.

Looking up at the statue across from him, Edgar managed an ironic laugh. “Sorry guys, it’s just a bit much, you know. ‘BHI’ was going to be my master work. I was finally going to show those fuckers exactly why I’m the best. What my music would have done for that script—it was really poised to make an impact. The entire project will probably fall through now. Heaven…shit!”

Edgar lit himself another cigarette, intuitively passing one to Alex before being asked. No one spoke as the server brought out the requested round, placing them before each man in turn—Scotch, Beer, Brandy, Wine, Rum and Coke.

“How can a group as incompetent as all of you be here with me, if you’re also still alive?” The question straddled the line between simple rhetoric and pleading sincerity with painful uncertainty as Edgar finished his first scotch and moved on to the next.

Duncan only smiled. It was not a demeaning gesture, nor even mocking. He just smiled over at his friend, and allowed a moment to pass.

Edgar looked over to Emeric, who nodded reassuringly. He was seldom much help, but ever the most eager in the attempt.

Alex, as always, stared off in esoteric repose. “I imagine somewhere down there people are gathered around your body. How can you be there, and here as well?”

“Wait…” Jake leaned in, the furrow of his brow revealing the enormous exertion of his thoughts. “Am I dead too?”

Edgar had to laugh. It was hard not to love the dumb bastard. Jake was loud, obnoxious, and stupid as a brick. Yet of all Edgar’s friends, he was the most unflinchingly loyal. Like a giant dog with a mild learning disorder, his unabashed consistency had always been a great comfort to Edgar. “No,” he answered his friend, “I’m sure you’re just fine.”

“That might be going a bit far,” Alex interjected.

“You’ll get it all figured out soon, Eds.” Duncan rarely committed any statement to a single, candid meaning, and it was always a profound surprise to Edgar when he did. “And whatever happened for you to end up here, I’m sure it was sufficiently heinous to make us all proud of you.”

“Even more than the night with the ‘Slip-n-Slide’!” Alex spoke from deep within his wine-cup, his satisfaction with the reference evident in its giddy delivery. This sent another gale of hearty laughter around the table—even Edgar took part, despite a long eye-roll and fervent shake of his head.

“Thanks,” Edgar replied to Duncan after the laughter subsided. His voice came in a scratching rasp. “It’s all such a blur. I know it was Saturday night, and that I was drinking. I have a few brief patches of memory, more like feelings really…I remember being very unsure, then a sudden epiphany washing over me.

“What really puzzles me though is how I ended up in heaven with you guys. What could I have possibly done to merit an afterlife of friends and booze?”

“That’s a good question.” Duncan smiled as he spoke. “For you to make it to heaven, your final seconds must have been monumentally heroic.” Despite their shared penchant for what more refined men might consider depraved situations, Duncan looked at Edgar as a brother, and would never speak ill of him in earnest.

“What would I have possibly done though?” Edgar mused. “Could I have sacrificed myself for someone? That sure doesn’t sound like me. But still, heaven…something doesn’t add up.”

“You didn’t go to heaven.” Jake finished his beer with a mighty swig and hammered his empty mug down on the table. “You’re dead and that’s it, moron. Now you’re just living out your own fantasies—easy as that, you dumb motherfucker.”

Emeric was visibly aghast.

Alex giggled with what he hoped would pass for nervousness.

Duncan arched his thick eyebrows and attempted to conceal the keen curl working up the sides of his mouth.

The idiot has it right, Edgar knew.

“You die, and the first thing you do is come see us…” Jake trailed off breathlessly…slowly doubling over the table as he rattled the cups with his braying laughter. “I knew it,” he managed, before losing himself entirely.

In the bottom of Edgar’s glass, only a mouthful of scotch remained. Between his fingertips, the orange ember of his cigarette slowly approached the filter, and sitting about him were his closest friends and confidantes. They watched him in silence—Emeric with his nervous squirming, Alex with his detached stare, and Jake gazing obliviously around for recognition of his insight. Duncan simply waited with a faint smile, a sparkle in his eye betraying the excitement with which he anticipated Edgar’s response.

“Thanks guys, I needed this.” Edgar smiled, finishing the last of his scotch while snuffing his smoke out on the tabletop, leaving a long black streak.

“So what are you going to do now? You must have a lot to process.” Emeric sipped slowly from his Rum and Coke as he waited for an answer.

Edgar’s attention wandered about the room, slowly tracing its way over the curves of the servers. “Well,” he offered with a smirk, “if this place really holds anything I can dream up, I fear my time with you guys is done for now. I’ve seen the Golden Gate already, so that’s one tourist trap down. Now, I believe I’ll go see about some angels.”

Emeric shook his head as a gleeful giggle burst from Alex’s lips. Duncan nodded his knowing approval, while Jake continued laughing boisterously to himself. “Anything he could dream of…and he ends up at a table with four dudes…”

Edgar rose with conviction, a broad smile splitting his face across the center. Turning, he crossed the floor of the bar with a swagger, and passed through the heavy wooden door into the brilliant white glare outside. It wrapped about him like a blanket—a disorienting haze that was at once vivid and vague.

It made no difference; Edgar knew exactly where he was going…

 -Brad OH Inc.

‘My Brother Cain’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Today we have another song/ poem from the intellectual property vaults of Brad OH Inc. For your enjoyment, we present the lost ‘Basic Human Indecency’ song: ‘My Brother Cain’.

The disillusioned knight

You find the world has changed

But if anything’s unnatural

You know everything is

But about that boat

I just know it sailed

I can’t tell you when

Still caught up in that tale

And I could never consider

How I’d turn that table

What I would have changed

If I’d known I was able

He had a magic wand

That slowly seared his voice

And it just kept showing up

Like any other choice

So now some smile back

You know it’s not the rule

But I never rolled my eyes

That was me looking up to you

My Brother Cain

Remember me?

You’re shadows and history

But do you remember me?

Still I could never consider

How I’d turn that table

What I would have changed

If I’d known I was Abel…

-Brad OH Inc.

‘Dog’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Today we have another song/ poem from the intellectual property vaults of Brad OH Inc. For your enjoyment, we present the lost ‘Basic Human Indecency’ song: ‘Dog’.

I met a man on the curb
Who told me he could see
The end of time the fall of man
And how it would all be

His beard was gray and tangled
His eyes were milky blue
His mouth was dry and twisted
At the things he thought he knew

I grimaced and kept walking
As he called out from behind
That I would have to listen
If he could read my mind

I turned upon my heel
Towards the bent old fool
He waved me to come closer
Mumbling through his beard and drool

He said my mind was simple
Although he could not read
A look into a person’s eyes
Is all that he would need

He spoke of how I judged him
And was so quick to place blame
He talked me up from my old pride
Down to my new found shame

He preached about the ease
Of instincts on the street
But said I’d have a clearer view
If I’d lie beside his feet

I put my hand upon my mouth
Felt the stubble on my face
I felt my strong back lean and tilt
Beneath his lessons weight

He told me that we all are born
From darkness and are blind
And all that we can ever see
Are the paintings of our mind

My eyes were glazing over
And my world began to spin
I guessed it was the old man’s breath
Which smelled of crusts and gin

He said he had to go
I pleaded for more time
I threw myself upon the street
And saw what I denied

People passed and shook their heads
As they looked down on me
I looked to thank the homeless man
For helping me to see

I saw that he was gone
Nothing was as before
I saw a man upon the curb
A man and nothing more…

-Brad OH Inc.

‘Town of Truth’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Today we have another song/ poem from the intellectual property vaults of Brad OH Inc. For your enjoyment, we present the lost ‘Basic Human Indecency’ song: ‘Town of Truth’.

In the city with no lies

Things are not the same

Love is very rare there

There’s no such thing as blame

There are many ideas

And each one has a name

They name them for a dreamer

A man that’s not quite sane

In the city with no faith

There is no metaphor

They keep their eyes upon the ground

And guard dogs at their door

They know just where they came from

And where they’ll go forever more

Their science killed their magic

And life is such a bore

In the city with no soul

Each man is his own slave

He walks his path all by himself

Up to his lonely grave

Their medicine will cure a man

That he could never save

It can bypass the dreamer’s heart

Of which he only gave

But in the Town of truth

The eyes follow the mind

Dreams blossom to vision

Men smile and are kind

Yes the city may be ugly

But the town-folks they are blind…

-Brad OH Inc.