Retcon Punch, Episode 07: Maureen McGovern Had It Right

Retcon Punch, Episode 07: Maureen McGovern Had It Right

Nov 24

New to Retcon Punch? Start at the beginning.

Manic pixie dream girl. Manic pixie dream girl. Manic pixie dream girl.

I repeat those words in my head as I navigate the winding road into the hills of Rancho Palos Verdes. I am trying to manage impatient speed and overcautious care. It’s tricky.

Zooey Deschanel. Natalie Portman. Kirsten Dunst. Veronica…I don’t know her last name.

I fell for some manic pixie dream girl bullshit and now I’m an accomplice to a major theft and it is FREAKING ME OUT. But of course, it wasn’t a magic indie fairy spell; it was my own insecurities, my own gaping financial maw, my own loneliness. She helped me do this to myself, and now I need it to be over.

What I really need is for someone to hit me and make this all go away. But the barriers of our reality aren’t so flimsy.

I don’t know Veronica’s last name, so I sure as hell don’t know where she lives, which stops my plan A right dead. I won’t be speeding over to her house and demanding that she turn over the stolen property.

I pursue my plan B, which involves appearing at Sid’s front door on a Saturday morning to confess everything. Shit, I don’t even want the fucking job anymore. I’ll temp, I’ll flip burgers, I’ll janitor at the local public school. I’m ready to move on; if nothing else, I’ve learned that much from this escapade.

I guess the real plan would involve me not being such a pussy and actually going through with the final stages of the crime. Instead, I spent the night on that awful couch, tossing and turning as a nameless bile crept further and further up my throat, until I could feel it burning constantly at the base of my tongue. I knew what the bile was trying to tell me–I’d behaved like an idiot, made a huge mistake, and the flimsy index card of a “moral code” I kept in my soul’s back pocket got ripped when I fell back onto that awful couch for some illicit nookie.

Blame it on the superheroes, I guess–when you spend as much time as I have reading the adventures of unimpeachable men in tights, you tend to end up on the right side of the law. I didn’t want to imagine myself as the type of person Superman would knock into a light pole and then deposit into the Metropolis jail. Scratch that–I didn’t want to imagine myself as the type of person Superman would knock into a light pole on his way to deal with Brainiac or the Parasite. I don’t think I’d even rate the Man of Steel’s full attention.


Sid bought a really amazing house with his proceeds from one-hit wonderment. It overlooks the ocean and has a tiki bar. Add those to the list of reasons I’m jealous of this ungrateful fuck.

I pull into the driveway and realize I don’t have much of a plan. I feel like knocking on his front door is a good first step. So I knock, several times, and no one answers, several times.

Finally I absentmindedly check the handle, and it’s unlocked. Go figure.

I’ve been to Sid’s house often enough, usually to drop off a hot book that he refuses to come pick up at the store but insists upon reading immediately. Sometimes when I stop by, he’s in his boxers and I can see a high-end Apple laptop open to a major comic book message board, as though he’s literally planned his entire day around reading a comic book and then sharing his thoughts online. These moments make me feel well-balanced by comparison. Other times, he’s in his boxers and there’s porn open on the laptop and I need to take a shower stat.

“Sid?” No reply. I cautiously step down the main hallway. To my left, Sid’s obscenely large television mocks me with its majesty. To my right, down another long hall, is the kitchen…and Veronica. Raiding the fridge. In her underwear.

She turns her head, sensing someone watching her, and I can see her mouth the word “Fuck” from twenty feet away. I’m frozen on the spot, so after a long second of regarding each other, she pads down the hall toward me, a box of Swiss Creme Rolls in her hand.

“What are you doing here?” she hisses.

“I could ask you the same.”

“I…slept over. Gotta keep up appearances.”

“You appear to be keeping up really good appearances. You appear really good. Apparently.” I completely fuck up the repartee, and I know it, and there’s nothing I can do but work hard to keep from gawking down at her mostly-naked body.

“Was that an insult?”

“I’m not sure.”


“I can’t keep this up. I have to come clean.”

“’Keep this up’?! It’s been twelve hours. You don’t even have the comics; they’re in my apartment.”

“I think they need to go back to the store, or I think I need to tell Sid.”

“Is that what you were coming here to do? Or were you looking for me?”

She’s smirking now, and that’s appealing. Suddenly I wonder if I really expected to find Sid and tell him all my sins. Maybe deep down I was actually checking to see whether Veronica would be here, to determine whether the all-too-brief tryst we’d shared the previous night was something real, or just a show. Or is Sid the show? I think I really hope Sid’s the show.

“I have no idea what I’m doing. This is hard.” My resolve softens. Seriously, that morality index card is super flimsy. She puts her hand on my chest.

“Take it easy. We’re fine. There’s no reason–”

“Babe? BABE?!”

A door slams open upstairs. A clamber like two bowling balls dipped in Crisco comes tumbling down the stairs as Veronica pushes me into a closet.

“Shit, babe, where’d you go? Little Sid misses you.”


“I was hungry, babekins. I got a snack. Let’s eat and then we’ll see what we can do about Little Sid.”

Again: Jesus.

“Hold up, babe. I gotta show you this rad new helmet I picked up–”

The closet door opens, and there I am, almost trembling, and there’s Sid in nothing. He’s a hulking mass of formless douche who could not even be bothered to put on a pair of fucking BOXERS whilst scampering around his own fucking HOME.

“Ike?” There’s confusion, even bemusement.

“Hey, uh, Sid.”

“What the fugggggggghhhhhh”

I don’t even see it happen; I just see the result. Sid’s a pile on the floor and Veronica’s standing behind him with a trampy Batgirl statuette in her hand. There’s a small wound on the back of Sid’s head bleeding, and if he’s not unconscious, he’s damn close.

“Come on.”

Veronica grabs my arm in her underpants and we hit the door and we get in my car and we drive, drive, drive. She’s still clinging to the Swiss Creme Rolls.

Retcon Punch returns in January!

Misspent From the Outset

Misspent From the Outset

Nov 19

[This essay originally appeared in the second issue of Grok, the Alert Nerd ‘zine.  You can follow along in Google Maps here.]


“He wanted to be a grown-up, not
ridiculous, and he did not realize you could be
both at the same time, and oftentimes are.”

– Peter David, Tigerheart

So I’ve caught myself reminiscing about the geography of my youth – the wheres that I grew up in. Sixty days shy of 30 – the demarcation line – reminiscing seems to be the thing to do. I mean, 30 is old to begin with, but in geek years, it’s practically incalculable. At least, that’s what I’m told.

Which leads me here. Testing the Thomas Wolfe Theory, I toured the arcades, comic shops and gaming haunts of my youth,
comparing them to what was, seeing how they’ve grown and hoping they’ll tell me a bit about how I’ve grown.

By all estimations, it’s a life misspent from a very young age.

The General Hospital Hospitality Shoppe no longer sells comic books; it’s where I got my first, a Frank Miller issue of Daredevil with Stilt-Man and Heather Glenn. I was 4 years old, and though I was an early reader, I didn’t understand much of what was going on except that Stilt-Man was the best villain and that Daredevil may have been the most awesome hero, even more awesome than Batman. I didn’t know who Wolverine was.

The book was 60 cents, a miscalculated bribe on my grandmother’s part – it was supposed to keep me quiet. She was pulling double duty, watching me and her husband, and neither of us made it easy on her.

Today, the prominent features of the shop are the BOGO sale on WebKinz, the expansive selection of Vera Bradley bags, and the portmanteau smell of cafeteria food that wafts into the Shoppe. There are magazines and crossword digests, even the odd coloring book, but the magazine rack full of comics isn’t in the store any longer.

From my gram’s house, Koronkiewicz’s Pharmacy was two blocks’ walk, and when she’d fill prescriptions, I’d tag along and usually have scraped together enough change to buy at least one book – 65 cents now – from the spinner racks. Haphazardly restocked and
guaranteed to be ransacked by older kids before I could manage to make it in, I wasn’t left with much – random issues of Star Wars, Uncanny X-Men and Dreadstar I somehow managed to rescue from that period are a testament to my blithe unawareness of issue-to-
issue continuity. I didn’t know what Secret Wars was, but the editors’ boxes talked about it a lot. Wolverine was a jerk.

Today, the pharmacy is a law office. The spinner racks are gone.

Around age 6, I found my first real comic shop within walking distance of school. Gema Books (so named for the married ex-hippie owners Gene and Mary) was the kind of comic shop that makes people not want to go to comic shops. Gema was a haphazard, poorly-lit holein- the-wall with an aloof staff, a layout that borders on the archaeological, and no discernable community attached to it aside from insular cliques of what we now know in this enlightened age as trolls and fanboys. For years, it was the shop of record in Northeast PA.

The store, such as it was, was cramped as hell. Back issue bins, new release shelves and spinner racks all struggled for real estate in the front half of the shop, while the toys and statues, the cash register, New Age books and baubles and the thinly-camouflaged adult section consumed the back half. As a little kid, I found it difficult and exhilarating to navigate, looking for hidden gems and secret history in exactly the same way that an older me would one day pore over marginalia, journals and letters from writers who were “better,” but never more important than the ones on display in that little labyrinthine comic shop. I discovered the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe here, and was absolutely certain that the final issue was going to reveal all of Wolverine’s shadowy past to me (Wolverine, by this time, was awesome – definitely more awesome than Batman and Daredevil combined; he had claws). I count it as my first great Wolverine-related disappointment in life (to be followed by many, many more – including, some 15 years later, Paul Jenkins’ Origin).

Through the direct market, I discovered the Legion and the Teen Titans and I dutifully combed through the bins until I had as much of each team’s back matter as I could manage. I remember thinking that it would be “the best idea ever” if Batman and Shining Knight could team up and fight Gorilla Grodd. Being owned by ex-hippies, the shop was well-stocked with various incenses, crystals and other arcane devices. Even at a young age, I knew that these were a) utter bullshit and b) to be avoided at all costs.

Today, the storefront houses a chiropractor’s office. The store moved a block away, into an actual basement, a move that managed to
make it even less inviting than it was previously. That store is now vacant.

Just after “Inferno” – like any true geek, I measure time by crossovers – my parents put their foot down and forbid me from buying
comics. It affected my grades, they said. Over the next few years, my grades suffered a slight dip, and though I won’t claim that it was a manufactured middle finger to parental authority, the notion is a pleasing one. It wasn’t until about 1993 that I returned to comics.

Riding the wave of the speculation boom, a sport card/comic shop opened up near my grandmother’s house, and each weekend I
stayed with her, I’d walk down to that store and buy a new Liefeldian wonder without understanding just how bad it was. Cable #1
($3.50) was the first. Not surprisingly, the place vanished not long after the Return of Superman. Now it’s a tanning salon.

It’s a disturbing trend.

The cramped, smoke-filled arcade where I learned the intricacies of Kung Fu and Space Harrying? Now it’s a pool hall with only a pair
of outdated arcade machines.

The cool, well-stocked arcade that got me through my early teens? A Japanese restaurant.

The ironically-named Phoenix Comics across from my college call-center job? It sells clothing and shows no signs of rising from the

The Wizard Site, the card and role-playing game store that survived the harsh scrutiny of The 700 Club? Today it sells spa products, a fate shared by Dragons Inc., the all-purpose gaming store launched by a pair of my high school friends.

The landmarks of my youth have all grown up. The buildings are all still there, but now they’re inhabited by doctors, lawyers, beauticians and the bitter realization that the places where I learned to be a geek have all moved on and that I have not.

It’s supposed to be the other way around. I mean, in Europe, there are castles that have been castles for centuries, and I would feel much better about being a nerd for decades if my comic shop still sold comics hundreds of years later, just to offer some sense of scope and a tacit nod of approval via its longevity.

“It’s easy,” the proprietor of my current local comic shop tells me, “to run a business like this badly.” It’s the beginning of a digression in a discussion about Marvel’s post-Civil War landscape that involves practically every warm body in the building. Despite two moves and nearly 20 years in business, The Unknown still manages to grow its community and generally keep its head above water. Because not only is there room for frivolity in adulthood, there can’t be adulthood without the shoulders of frivolity to stand on, and the trail of failed geek meccas in my wake simply couldn’t grasp the balance between the two. And so, when I think about packing the comics up and donating them to charity, eBaying the gaming books and hiding the other nerd paraphernalia and writing off the past 20 or so years as misspent, I stop and remember the 6-year-old poring through back issue bins and it’s hard to feel it’s been misspent at all.

And then, I think about telling the little brat that Wolverine is an overhyped editorial mess with no real depth, but I doubt I’d have listened. Wolverine has claws, you know.

Retcon Punch, Episode 06: Ripoff

Retcon Punch, Episode 06: Ripoff

Nov 18

New to Retcon Punch? Start at the beginning.

I wake in the chair, sun stabbing its stabby light into my eyes, groggy for a second. Then I recall it’s Petty Larceny Friday at Superb Comics, and that gets me up.

I stop for a McGriddle on the way in, barely making the 10:30 a.m. breakfast cutoff, and pull into the strip mall lot to see Tara leaning up against the locked door, reading an issue of McCall’s. Take a snapshot every Friday morning, lay them on top of each other over the years; the only thing changing is Tara’s ugly sweater.

“You see Survivor?” Tara barks as I stick the key into the door and flip the bolt. She is insufferably devoted to reality television. Sometimes I am too, if only to give us something to talk about all day.

“No, I missed it last night. I was out.”

“Big date?” Tara snorts. Yep, a snort escapes her face. It must have been making a break for it.

“Just busy.” My grin is tight.

And that’s the sum total of our conversation on this slow Friday, which I spend mostly working on the next month’s comics order and surfing the internet when my mind becomes too distracted by thoughts of blowtorches melting away the hinges on a giant safe to steal the valuable contents within.

By seven-thirty, the Friday after-work crowd has come and gone, and Tara tips a folding chair at our gaming tables onto its back legs as she continues her voyage through McCall’s.

“You can head out if you want,” I say, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible. “I’ll wrap things up here. Probably scoot a little early myself.”

“Thank God,” Tara sighs. “This magazine sucks.”

Slowly, it unfolds in my brain that she’s been reading (perhaps re-reading?) that self-same sucky magazine all day. For the thousandth time, I puzzle over Tara, and the strangeness of her existence–the kind of person who would not only continue to read, but possibly re-read, a magazine she does not like. How bored do you have to be to do that, especially in a store that is literally full from ceiling to floor with reading material?

By the time I complete that train of thought, the little tin bell on the door handle has rung, and Tara is long gone.

It’s a little after nine when I hear the tap-tap on the shop’s back door. In fact, it wakes me up; there’s an awful couch in the back room where I sometimes take a brief siesta when the relentless pressure of selling periodical comic books gets to be too much.

“Do you want a Snickers?” Veronica asks. There’s a candy bar hanging from between two of her fingers; in her hands are two packed bags from Home Depot.

“Thanks. You paid with cash, right?”

“Of course.”

“And you didn’t withdraw the cash anywhere in the vicinity of this shop or the Home Depot this evening?”

“Of course not.”

“And you wore, like, a hat or something, so that the checkout people wouldn’t be able to identify you?”

“I used self-checkout, jackass.”

She’s dumped the bags on the awful couch by this point and is seated next to them, quickly withdrawing an assortment of tools that in theory will be used to pry open the giant old safe. I think I see a blowtorch and the reality of what’s happening hits me pretty hard.

“Holy shit,” I whisper.

“I had a feeling this would freak you out a bit. Here, help me move this.”

We remove a pile of detritus from atop the safe, then wobble and scoot it away from the wall, so as to cut into the back. The activity doesn’t do much to help my mood; by the time we’re done, I’m shaking a little bit. Veronica grabs both of my hands.

“Listen, go eat your Snickers out at the counter. I’ll knock again when I’m done.”

I walk out into the store, slightly dazed. I stand behind the counter and begin to fire up the computer, then realize that if I log onto the internet, I will effectively be providing proof that I was in the store while the robbery was taking place. Paranoid as all get-out, I turn toward a large pile of back issues under the counter that have needed filing for weeks.

I’m working with my head down and my brain almost not even thinking about thieving when that tin bell tinkles again. I almost don’t hear it, until the tinkling gets more forceful, and is joined by the thump of an angry fist on the shop’s front door.

My heart pounds and I contemplate sliding behind the counter or exiting the back door screaming. Then I see Tara’s round anxious face peering in the front window, her hands cupped around her eyes so she can see me.

She sees me.

I slap on that tight grin again and undo the deadbolt.

“Sorry, boss.” She practically pushes her way past me. “Have you seen my sweater? It has Mickey Mouse on it.”

“Huh…I can picture it in my head” (which I can, because half of what she wears features a cartoon character) “but I don’t think it’s here.”

“Let me check the back.”

I cannot hear past my heart in my ear. I am engaging in Edgar Allen Poe-style hysterics. I am inventing my own macabre subgenre.

“No, Tara, wait–“

But she doesn’t wait; she opens the door before I can stop her, because she is a speedy small troll of a woman.

Miraculously, the room appears normal. The safe is somehow back into position and looks completely undisturbed. The Home Depot bags are stuffed into the garbage can; the awful couch is the same as it ever was.

“Ugh, it’s not in here. Shit. Anyway. Have a good weekend.”

Tara leaves me in the back room and stomps away to the exit. I hear the tinkle of the tin, the scrape of her tires on the gravel lot out front, a car horn blaring as she merges into traffic without looking first. My heart’s noise returns to my chest where it belongs.

Veronica scoots herself out from under the awful couch, covered in dust mites. A stale Skittle is attached to her hair.

“Holy shit, can you believe–“

She rushes towards me, pulls me in. We kiss and fall onto the awful couch. The Skittle drops to the floor and rolls.

Next Week: Maureen McGovern Had It Right

Peasant Problem: Interlude

Peasant Problem: Interlude

Nov 15

[Before the story reaches its senses-shattering conclusion next week, enjoy a brief interlude with the enemy. New to this story? Catch up from the beginning.]

Peasant Problem

The Following Morning

Sunday morning was cold and foggy. The Hawk, driving Darren’s golf cart, could barely make out the path ahead. They drove in silence as Darren texted furiously. Overnight, two-thirds of his Council had vanished and wasn’t answering text messages or returning calls. They were ghosts, and that just wasn’t possible. He tried to gather whoever he could find and summon them to the Lodge.

The orcs’ rebellion was getting out of hand, and he had no idea how it had gotten to this point.

The cart crested a hill, puttering on its electric motor. “Sitrep?” he asked, glancing at his Captain of the Guard.

The Hawk, his features truly aquiline in profile, began his report, not taking his eyes off the dirt road. “Town guard is at half capacity. Two permanent deaths resulting from the overnight fighting, several poisoned and magically weakened knights who cannot fight effectively, and three disappearances with no contact. Guilds and mercenaries have either declared neutrality or sided with the Seven Skulls. Sixty-six percent of the Councilors have also been disappeared. A dawn patrol found the Arbor Elves gagged and bound to trees near the creek. Perhaps most distressingly, sir, the launch has disappeared from the lake. If it is not returned, we’ll certainly be on the hook for the cost of a replacement.

“The event ends in four hours. I don’t need to remind you, sir, that calling a stop right now would be disastrous for the game setting – the downtime between events would be anarchy.” Dazed from lack of sleep, Darren said nothing for a long while. The Battle Country was falling apart. His councilors had abandoned him. One of his oldest friends had betrayed him. His players were in open war. This was supposed to be a game.

“What?” The cart had stopped and The Hawk was looking at Darren oddly. He’d been talking out loud, he realized. He needed sleep.

The pair were across the parade green from the Lodge. Tired and unfocused as he was, Darren didn’t notice the flag flying. It was red, with six small skulls surrounding one large skull. The standard of Wayne’s orcs. As he reached mid-field, he noticed that the Lodge’s windows were all open. When they’d met a day earlier, those windows were closed.

The THWANG of a bowstring broke the silence. An arrow, tipped with foam and tape, droned past Darren’s head and plunked into the earth behind him like a lawn dart.

For a moment, Darren and The Hawk stood there, stunned. After a beat, a hail of arrows came from the open windows. Arrows came close to hitting them, but none struck home.

Suddenly, The Hawk dove in front of Darren, pushing him backward and down to the ground. Two arrows took The Hawk in the upper chest and a third caught him in the cheek. From the Lodge, three bowmen each shouted out, “Three damage!”

The Hawk was not wearing his bulky combat armor; nine damage was too much for the guard captain to withstand. He collapsed to the ground, slain.

Darren inched toward him, but his guardsman whispered, “Get out of here!” With a salute, the Count turned and scrambled back across the parade field to his golf cart.

The seat of his kingdom had fallen.



Nov 12

[Every November, Jeff attempts to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo); he has never successfully finished. This year, he’s trying again, and you are about to read a little bit of it. Enjoy (hopefully)!]


You never end up taking the money for exorcisms.

It’s a moral thing, right? Like how could you not save this poor little girl’s life, or how could you keep this boring middle manager from going home to play with his kids, especially over something as banal as cash?

Worse than a zero-sum game, it’s a losing game – putting on the whole Baby Jesus Light Show isn’t cheap, and you also get knocked the fuck around in the process more often than not and, a line of work like this, you don’t get stellar fucking benefits. Late night trips to the urgent care clinic add up.

Fuck it, you say, I’m doing ghost tours from now on. The income is more stable, the risks are nonexistent. But you never do, because you can’t feel good about the work and you’re not the cynic you play you are.

But you tell everyone that you’re retired from exorcisms. Of course, all that does is make people more convinced that you’re the right person for the job, right? The word ‘no’ is the most powerful marketing tactic in the fucking universe.

And just like you never end up taking the money, you never end up saying no, either. You know about a demon, you let it run around, that’s irresponsible, one, and shitty karma, two.

And that’s why I’m currently being drowned in a toilet bowl by a seven year old boy in footie pajamas. Happy birthday to me.


Four days ago, Trip Parker’s father told a stranger in a bar that he would do “anything” for the chance to stay home from the office for a few days. The next day, Blaine Parker II called off sick because his namesake, age seven, was running an aggressive fever and vomiting. He called off the next day because his son broke into his bedroom at three in the morning and tried to murder him with a mandoline slicer while ranting either at or about something called ‘Sariel’; his breath stank of sulphur and Blaine swore, once he could be convinced that Kit wouldn’t think he was a lunatic, that Trip’s eyes glowed red.

Right now, Blaine Parker II was hiding in the back of his walk-in closet and trying desperately to ignore the voice in his head. It sounded like his stepmother, and it kept telling him to hang himself with one of his YSL ties, which hung enticingly in front of his eyes as he pressed himself as close to the back wall of the tiny room as he was able.

If she were able to scream underwater, Kit would have shouted at him to grow a pair and help to clean up his goddamn mess.

She thought a cantrip – a minor spell – in the direction of the flush handle. Normally, magic required focus, but rage could be a potent substitute in a pinch, especially if the magician didn’t care about collateral damage. The handle pulled, then wrenched itself free and flew wildly across the room, ricocheting off the tile and finally landing in the sink.

The water drained out of the bowl quickly and Kit could breathe again. She breathed deeply, elbowed the little boy in what she hoped was a kidney, and silently thanked her stylist for the pixie cut that she had originally protested: longer hair probably would have meant the end of her when the toilet flushed.

Trip gave out an ‘Oof!’ and slid off Kit’s back, dazed and babbling. Dragging herself to her feet, Kit caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror – half-drenched, makeup running, the start of a bruise on her jaw. And, she thought, there was still a birthday dinner tonight to look forward to. Here’s to seventeen more blissful years of this bullshit, she thought. Then she gave the child at her feet a kick in the ribs. It made her feel better.

It was also the wrong thing to do. Instantly, Trip skittered straight up the bathroom wall on backward-bent arms and legs. Above his bloody – Kit’s blood – Handy Manny pajamas, the possessed eyes glowed red again. The boy’s mouth hung open and a chorus of low voices chanting Aramaic poured out.

Kit was very rusty with dead languages, but she thought she picked up ‘sacrifice’ and ‘disembowel’.

Trip’s dad had found Kit through Craigslist. Six months ago, she’d dated a college freshman, and he was charming, cute and knew enough about the occult that he could keep up with her most of the time when she got roped into the inevitable crazy bullshit. She’d dumped him when she caught him enchanting weapons for the campus fraternity’s annual bum fight. He had responded by taking out an add on Craigslist once a month in Kit’s name. This not only pissed her off, but it also made her more findable on the web, and Kit Marlowe took online anonymity very seriously. Nearly everyone in her world did. She thought very long and very hard about just changing her contact info completely, but decided in the end that she didn’t want to capitulate to the asshole, so she endured the annoyances it brought her way.

Grabbing the porcelain lid of the toilet tank, she flung it two-handed at the demon kid and immediately bolted for the bathroom door, not looking back. As she leapt into the bedroom and rolled behind the bed, she heard a vomiting sound followed by the shattering of porcelain. Her mind’s eye decided to hate her a bit and pictured several scenarios for what just happened, all of them revolting.

“Asshole!” she shouted at the closet door, “Get out here now, or I will punch you in the head until you forget the hell-toddler’s middle name!”