Sunday, 20 April 2014

Hell Hath No Fury by Naomi Elana Zener


“These unscheduled emergency sessions have to stop. If you want to continue to be my patient, you must make an appointment,” Dr. Freud advised.

Sigmund Freud’s office in Purgatory was an exact replica of the one he’d occupied on Earth. Photographs and his university degrees lined the walls, hanging above the cabernet red velvet sofa on which his analysis patients would lie, which sat atop a brightly hued Persian rug. A rich, deep mocha desk sat in front of Dr. Freud’s high-backed elegantly curved, well-worn leather armchair, where he was sitting, jotting down notes from his previous patient session prior to the unwelcome interruption.

“Alright, lie down and we’ll begin in a moment.”

“Fine, but hurry it up. My time is precious,” Satan advised flopping down on the Persian rug covered sofa. “Didn’t I tell you to get rid of this rag of a rug? It chafes my skin.”

“Did you come here to waste your precious time telling me that?” Dr. Freud queried, peering down condescendingly over his wire-rimmed round spectacles. “My time is equally important. I thought we covered that last time.”

Disgruntled at being reprimanded like a small child, Satan huffed a fireball in the direction of a small pile of books sitting on the floor next to Dr. Freud, setting them ablaze.

“Passive-aggressive behavior will only result in my referring you to another psychiatrist for analysis.” Putting out the fire, Dr. Freud smiled. “Oh, those were only Nietzsche’s books. No big deal.”

Having no jurisdiction over Freud because he resided in Purgatory, Satan was incapable of coercing Freud to see him whenever the mood struck. All he could do was blow off steam by setting fires in his office, which never made an impact since God always replaced the damaged items.

“So what’s your crisis du jour?”

“Everything seems to be exploding all around me. Hell is overcrowded so we need to renovate to make more space. I hate dealing with trades. God is giving me grief that Heaven is on the light side these days. Can I help it that my followers are more loyal to me than his are to him? I can’t help the fact that Americans love their guns and join stupid political parties like the Tea Party. Blame Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the NRA. And, to top it all off, my IBS is flaring up. It’s like the time Montezuma took his revenge on me in Mexico – it’s a runny colon: morning, noon and night.”

“Do you ever stop to think about why your body is reacting so negatively to stress? I’ve told you a million times, until you accept your emotional issues at play, you’ll keep having bowel trouble. Come on Beelzebub, you’re the ruler of the scariest place known to man. You’re telling me that you’re scared to confront your inner demons?”

Satan took a vow of silence for an eternity. With Purgatory being devoid of a clock or the concept of time, time literally stood still. Gone were the days of the forty-five minute session, Dr. Freud thought wistfully to himself.

“I think I’m having an identity crisis,” Satan admitted.

“Ok, we’re making progress. Tell me what you mean by that.”

Satan pursed his lips, sitting in his chair quieter than a monk.

“Come on my little devil. You can do it. You’ve been working on this since I arrived here.”

“I…”

Dr. Freud nodded his head encouragingly.

“I, uh, I want…”

“Go on.”

“I want to be…”

“For Chrissakes, will you just spit it out already?”

“I WANT TO BE GOOD!” Satan confessed. “I’m so tired of being bad all the time. I hate living amongst murderers, priests, dictators, Charles Manson followers, politicians, investment bankers, Hitler, porn stars and strippers.”

Freud raised a skeptical brow.

“Ok, I don’t mind some of the porn stars and strippers,” Satan chuckled. “I like the ones who don’t have VD. But, truth be told, I’m a bit bored with our hourly orgies. I feel like a gynecologist, once you’ve seen one vagina, you’ve seen them all. And, I’ve seen trillions.”

“So, what do you want to do about this? With your unique background, it’s not like there are many vocations suited to your skills set. Being a lawyer is out of the question since they all end up with a Hades zip code when they die. Maybe you could be a doctor?”

“And, have to touch sick people whom I cursed with diseases in the first place? Uh, no thanks.”

“Your altruism is impressive.”

“Actually, I do know what I want to do,” Satan advised honestly.

“And, that is?”

“I want to be God.”

“You know he can hear you, right?”

“I want to be God,” Satan bellowed. “For once, I want to lay my head down on a fluffy cloud when I go to sleep instead of brimstone. I’d like to have cherubic angels serenade me with lullabies instead of listening to the noise pollution of Kurt Cobain and his grunge rock friends on repeat. That music has no melody. How did they ever get record deals?”

“Since most of dead Hollywood lives in Hell, ask one of the record executives who is spending eternity with you.”

“And, I want to experience that natural high God gets everyday from seeing people do good things. I’ve had enough of the LSD, special K, Ritalin, Lithium and other mind bending feel good drugs to know that they can never make you feel as good as a good deed does. Kids today overdose on horse tranquilizers trying to feel good. They’re batshit fucking crazy!”

Without warning, the ceiling of Freud’s office was parted in two like the Red Sea by a lightening bolt that pierced the leather top of Freud’s desk.

“LUCIFER!” God bellowed. “How dare you take my name and try to go after my job.”

“Whatchya gonna do about it?” Satan taunted, challenging God to a sparring match. “Report me to HR? Tell me to go to Hell?”

“You think it’s so easy being me? Do you know how hard it is to figure out which prayers should go unanswered? Or, to let a good person die before their time? Like a child? Or, not helping someone who’s been barren get pregnant, while watching a crack whore deliver her seventh bastard child from an unknown baby daddy, whom you’ll no doubt house in your cesspool? You have no clue what that kind of pressure is like.”

Freud sat back and watched the holy ping-pong match.

“That’s just because you’re too damn picky. If I was God, I’d grant every wish and prayer intended for my ears. I’d let everyone into Heaven who deserves to walk through the pearly gates.”

“If I did that, I’d have the same overcrowding problems that plague you.”

“So, maybe I’ll just send them to Purgatory.”

Freud grew agitated at Satan’s suggestion. He liked the quiet of his surroundings, enjoying the solace of being in limbo. It represented the perfect Ego-like balance to the Super Ego that was Heaven and the Id that was Hell.

“Since it sounds like neither one of you has total job satisfaction, perhaps you should each spend a day in the other’s shoes. A job shadow of sorts. If after walking a mile in the other’s sandals, you’re still unhappy, then maybe a role reversal will provide you each with the change of scenery you both need,” Dr. Freud suggested.

“Good thinking, doc,” Satan said.

“Finally, we’re on the same page for once,” God advised.

“This is what I like to call a breakthrough,” Dr. Freud surmised.


© 2014. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

To Whom Do I Bequeath…? by Naomi Elana Zener



Last night I sat down to dinner in front of the TV with the hubby, a routine established when you have two kids in two years and one of those wallet emptying ankle biters is under six months of age. I turned to him, glued to an infomercial for a water hose that shrivels (the obvious allegory not being lost on me in that moment) between periods – hockey periods that is, to ask him a question most couples dread.

“Honey, when I die, do you think you would remarry?”

I was ignored.

“Well, if you do get remarried, make sure that you wait a few years and ensure that the kids like her,” I continued. “I know we have done our estate planning, but what do you plan on doing with my shoes? I didn’t make any specific provisions for them.”

This caught his attention.

“You’re dead and still worrying about your shoes?” he asked. “Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

You see, I own literally hundreds of pairs of shoes, and not your average garden variety “Made in Italy” hoofers, and certainly not anything from a bargain basement or ones that were “Made in China.” Over a lifetime to date, I have curated carefully a collection of high-end designer footwear: Prada, Manolo, Miu Miu, Gianvito Rossi, Valentino, and names only shoe connoisseurs would recognize. To many this may seem to be a frivolity, but for me it’s a passion. It’s almost like collecting art (which we do and it all goes to the kidlets). It wasn’t until I had children and they started to suck my bank account dry, when I was required to divert my shoe budget away from shoe collecting (hoarding according to the husband) and put it towards childhood necessities, such as clothing, toys, dentist visits and multiple visits to McDonalds.

Having hatched a daughter on our first go, I had an heiress to whom I planned on bequeathing my shoes, providing she followed in my footsteps genetically inheriting my shoe size. But, in a fit of panic, worried that her foot would outgrow mine, I needed a back up plan. Something, to ensure that the generations to come from the fruit of my loins and their loins thereafter, would have the footwear to sport on dates, to the office, to parties and on red carpets (if they should be so lucky) when they could advise that they were vintage bequests carefully preserved by a long line of my progeny.

“I know you’ll keep them for our daughter, but what about if she outgrows them? I know she’ll love my taste since I’ll raise her to love it, but I need a back up plan to make sure that the shoes stay in the family,” I advised my husband, who returned to zoning me out.

“I’m not kidding. I think I need to change my will,” I pressed.

“Fine. Change your will. What do you want to do with your shoes?” husband asked humouring me. “Create a trust fund?”

“That’s not a half-bad idea,” I retorted. “Maybe I could leave them in trust to our daughter for her to keep for her lifetime, or until the shoes no longer fit her feet, with a proviso that upon her demise they go to her daughter, and if she doesn’t have one, to our son’s daughter.”

“And, if neither has a daughter?” my husband offered.

“Then to charity. Maybe to abused women starting over who need great shoes to wear at job interviews,” I replied. “I could leave them to Dress For Success, or something like that.”

“Great honey, wonderful idea. Now, can I get back to watching the hockey game?”

Of course he doesn’t care, he only has six pairs of shoes, all of which I bought for him, and has no appreciation of their pedigree.


© 2014. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Oh, What A Messiah You’ve Made! by Naomi Elana Zener


“Dammit woman, push!” cried the midwife. “And, don’t forget to breathe.”

“I’d remember, if my so-called husband would help me with my Lamaze breathing,” Mary shot back.

Mary lay on her black, her legs unevenly splayed apart for she was not on an even surface, doing her best to remain calm and focused on the task of giving birth in less than optimal circumstances.

“Come on hubby, give your wife the pyramidal countdown she needs to push this baby out!” the midwife ordered.

“Fine, but I don’t get why I have to help out when I’m not even the father,” a man’s voice replied from the shadows.

“Joseph, front and center!” boomed the loud almighty voice of God from above. “I may be the father of this child, but you knew that when you agreed to marry the mother of my child. Now, be the man I know you to be and help Mary bring our baby into the world.”

“Alright, alright,” Joseph grumbled. He slowly got up from his chair in the dark, unlit corner and ambled over to Mary’s side. “All I’m saying is that I’m a little uncomfortable with the situation. You have your three henchmen standing here, staring at Mary’s exposed lady parts and doing nothing, but you expect me to coach her through labour and delivery. Let them coach her through labour and delivery.”

“We’re not doing ‘nothing.’ We’ve come bearing gifts,” the Three Wise Men chimed in unison.

“At least someone brought me a push present or two,” Mary shouted at Joseph. “All you do kvetch and moan.”

“Technically, these gifts are for the baby,” the Three Wise Men advised. “Gifts from his father.”

“You see what I’m saying? Even these guys know that I’m not the proud papa, which is why I don’t have to give you a push present,” Joseph countered. “I didn’t even get you into this mess, your incorporeal baby daddy did. Let him get you gifts.”

The midwife shook her head in disgust while trying to keep Mary and the baby safe, which was no easy feat given that they were surrounded by baying horses, mooing cows, clucking chickens and sheep shit. The risk of infection was high enough without having to contend with the infestation of animal E. Coli surrounding them in the makeshift barn-cum-birthing suite.

“Being hippies and all, I normally wouldn’t complain about bunking in a barn. But, Mr. Sperm Donor, did you ever stop and think that maybe you should have forced one of your rich disciples to open up their palatial homes to us, so that your baby mama wouldn’t give birth in pile of cow dung?” Joseph queried. “You could have threatened them with boils, frogs or even seven years of bad crops, but instead you force Mary to deliver your kid, with hay up her ass, in a room that smells like horse piss.”

“Bare down, Mary. Bare down,” the midwife instructed.

“Who are you to question God’s choices,” the Three Wise Men asked. “If he means for his son to be born in a manger, then it shall be done.”

“I’m sure God’s son would prefer to enter the world in a sterile MRSA-free environment instead of getting a pile of gold and whatever other crap you brought him,” Joseph retorted.

Mary continued to bite down on a knife to cut the pain. The midwife’s head remained buried between Mary’s legs as the baby’s head began to crown.

“That’s it Mary, keep going. I can see the head. You’re doing great,” the midwife cheered. “Now, I’ve got the head out. One more push and you get to meet your baby.”

Joseph remained seated next to Mary, perfunctorily holding her hand, while simultaneously reading the latest gossip scroll with the news of whose marriage was crumbling in Jerusalem.

“Argh!” shrieked Mary.

“Wah!” wailed the baby.

“It’s a boy,” cried the midwife.

“And, his name shall be Jesus,” God announced. “In honour of his father, Joseph.”

The Three Wise Men nodded their heads in reverent adulation of the birth of the Son of God.

“Our Messiah has been born,” the Three Wise Men sang.

Suddenly, Mary lurched forward from her supine position writhing in pain, letting out a blood-curdling scream, shifting focus from cherubic Jesus’ cries.

“What’s going on down there?” asked God.

The Three Wise Men looked at each other blankly, impotent from collaborative confusion, incapable of providing God with an answer. Having resumed reading his idle scuttlebutt, Joseph looked up as Mary let out another violent scream.

“Don’t quote me on this, but I’m not one hundred percent sure that Mary is finished laboring,” the midwife thought aloud.

“But, you already delivered the placenta,” God offered.

“Thank you Mr. OB in the sky, I know that,” the midwife replied, proceeding with her internal examination of Mary’s uterus. Suddenly, all colour drew from the midwife’s face, forcing her to take a deep breath, almost sucking all of the oxygen out of the manger.

“There’s another baby in there,” the midwife whispered.

The Three Wise Men cheered at the proclamation that God was to become a father for a second time. Joseph shrank back into the corner.

“What did you just say?” God asked angrily.

“Mary’s going to have a second baby. My, what potent semen you have, oh omnipotent one,” the midwife advised. “Ok, Mary, time to start pushing again.”

“Blessed be He!” exclaimed the Three Wise Men.

“That’s not possible,” God cried. “I divinely touched Mary once to give birth to one Messiah.”

“Sometimes all you need is one try. Besides which, science has ways of making one turn into two babies,” the midwife explained.

“I invented science. It does what I want it to do. And, I wanted one baby,” God added confusedly.

“Mary push, push, push. Your baby is almost out,” the midwife instructed.

“I’m not that baby’s father,” God bellowed.

“Now look at who’s disclaiming paternity,” Joseph remarked smugly.

Aware of God’s displeasure, the Three Wise Men encircled a sleeping baby Jesus, rationing their gifts to be shared amongst Jesus and his sibling.

“Joseph, you’ve got some explaining to do,” God ordered. “Did you have sex with Mary?”

Joseph said nothing. Mary, too breathless to speak, shot Joseph furtive glances, shaking her head to indicate that he should keep his mouth sealed shut.

“I don’t hear you, Joseph. Did you have sex with Mary?” God demanded to know.

“I have the right to remain silent,” Joseph replied.

“Is that an admission? I can’t believe my ears. You had sex with Mary!” God bellowed.

“Um, well she is my wife,” Joseph replied meekly.

“How could you defile the immaculate conception and birth of my son by getting busy with my holy vessel? I don’t give a damn that she’s your wife,” God shouted.

“Wah!” the second baby cried.

“It’s a boy,” the midwife announced, as Mary passed out.

“What’s his name?” the Three Wise Men asked with trepidation.

“Don’t ask me,” replied God. “I’m not the father.”



© 2014. Naomi Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Inspiration: http://openbooktoronto.com/news/inspiration_naomi_elana_zener

Author and Open Book reader Naomi Elana Zener tells us about moments of creative inspiration and her forthcoming debut novel, Deathbed Dimes
You could be walking, alone with your thoughts. Or, you could be watching television, numbing out your mind listening to the lines delivered by actors’ mouths designed to entertain you. Then, in a split-second, your breath is swept away and it clicks and comes to you. Inspiration strikes. For a writer it's like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For my non-writer friends, I tell them that the moment is akin to when a person makes a decision, whether it has to do with what to eat for dinner, what movie to see, or when they knew it was time to ask their partner for a divorce. It’s in that moment when a writer simply knows that they’ve found something to write about and they hope that they have a laptop, a smart phone or even a pen and something to write on nearby. A rock and chisel will do, if need be, and a writer of speculative fiction may resort to using his or her own blood.
I walk around, weighed down by my laptop, notebook and iPhone, amongst the other non-writerly essentials in my bag, such as a wallet to pay for the caffeinated fuel to keep me going on a writing bender, photos of my kids to remind me to stop and remember what is most important in life and my business cards, since I never know who I’ll meet by happenstance who could alter the course of my future. I’ve found inspiration in the way someone looks at me, in an article I’ve read, in a conversation I’ve had wherein I’m doling out unsolicited dating advice (and having been out of the dating pool for almost thirteen years, I’m probably in no position to dispense any), in an amusing exchange between my husband and I, or even in what I hear other people talk about, as I insouciantly eavesdrop on their conversation in my best stealthy spy mode. The list could go on forever.
When I write satire pieces for my fiction blog, www.satiricalmama.blogspot.com, they are almost invariably the product of my skewering politics, society, religion, economics, relationships or any other thing that happens to rub me the wrong way on any given day and is ripe for parody. For my articles on Erica Ehm’s Yummy Mummy Club, the catalyst provided by other people’s parenting styles, attitudes and judgment, stimulates my musings. Last, in the world of fiction where I write my novels, it is where my humour, life experiences, legal background, and simply being a living and breathing humanoid intersect. It is where I live with my characters, who keep me company day in and day out, many a time telling me what to write, leading me to wonder sometimes if I’d make for an excellent candidate in a loony bin.
At the end of the day, every writer is inspired by something, be it an object, a sound, or a visceral experience. We rue the day when we stare at a blank page that we cannot fill with black-inked words. Luckily, the writer’s disease that shall not be named has yet to visit my brain, and I hope it never plagues me. So, I go on, writing one piece at a time, sometimes several simultaneously, hoping to entertain the masses by conveying meaning through intelligent humourous pieces that readers see fit to share with others.
My debut novel, Deathbed Dimes, is going to be published & released on May 30, 2014
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