Commander In Briefs

by by Crow Jonah Norlander

illustration by by Samantha Ballardini

(or, OUT OF A JOB)
By Crow Jonah Norlander

The circumstances of Steve Nevile’s abrupt resignation from his role as Chief Director of the Upper and Younger Houses at the Moscowitz School of Experiential Learning have been unclear for quite some years. Due to the silence-breaking testimony of a former student at the school—widely reputed for its charted-mandated policy of extending admission to any student regardless of whatever punitive procedures they may be facing from another educational institution—information has been discovered linking his professional conduct to his subsequent disappearance and, it appears, his eventual arrest. While the student’s firsthand experience would seem on the surface to be rather harmless, there is little doubt that the ensuing series of events catalyzed Nevile’s departure.
Due to an absence caused by a broken-down school bus, the student leader of the Abstract Drama Troupe missed a lunchtime audition for a part in a theatrical rendition of The Power of One to be directed by Nevile himself. The try-out was also intended to factor into Nevile’s decisions process as he selected from hopeful applicants to his South African exchange program, in preparation for which the student had already begun studying Xhosa and Afrikaans. One of Nevile’s favored disciples, the student was able to arrange for a private after-school enactment of the Sangoma tradition of iNtfwasa. After an initial refusal, the student submitted to Nevile’s request that he perform the ritual shirtless in the interests of dramatic accuracy, despite the student’s body image issues and resultant insecurity. The make-up session concluded without consequence until the boy’s father heard about his son’s day at school.
It is unclear what motivated Nevile not to show up to work the next day, but a week later, having received no word and assuming the worst, the school’s administration democratically determined new leadership. Within a month the parents of MSEL students were informed by a letter from the new Head Advisor that they ought to be relieved: Steve Nevile had been found alive.
Although specifics were omitted from MSEL’s official letter, reporters revealed that Nevile was located in the process of his admission to a state prison on charges of identity theft and repeated child molestation, with accusations dating back to several years before his flight. Due to his impressively forged professional qualifications and warm but not overbearing demeanor, Nevile had no trouble ascending to several posts in which he was able to preside over children with his actions largely unmonitored, allowing for a brief period in which he was able to gain trust, take advantage, and swiftly escape.
When asked by a journalist about what information he had obtained and threats he might have made, the student’s father replied, “I always knew that handsome fucker was a pedophile.”


Comet’s a poodle. That means he has curly hair. A lot of people think this is weird because he is a dog and they’ll tell you dogs aren’t supposed to have curly hair. They’ll say dogs are supposed to have fur that gets all over and sticks to your couch and be careful don’t rub your eyes after touching that mangy dog couch because they (your eyes) will explode into hideous red blobs of itching. Anyway, Comet has curly hair. That’s why he’s president of Appleton, Wisconsin’s Lions Club.


With campaign promises of peculiar oblivion and the pathetic ethos now etched into constitutional half-eternity; with ballot initiatives bordering on the lachrymose and mostly scribbled in the margins of Parade magazine’s Walter Scott’s Personality Parade; with quarrels regarding the congressmen’s preferred brands of chocolate syrup; with an effortless calm even in the midst of international panic, Aunt Jemima placed her hand on the stack of pancakes and was inaugurated as the first (and last) corn-syrup president of the United States of America.

By Rachel Sanders

Well what do you mean it’s no good, I said, how can you tell. But he just kept on staring at me, and then he’d look down at the bill on the counter for a while, and then he’d look up at me again, and he’d say it like he never said it thirty times already: this bill ain’t no good.
So I started to feeling impatient, which you might not think was the strangest thing in the world if you just consider that here I was laying perfectly good money down on the counter for a junk heap car that wasn’t worth half that, and this with Leo Virgil sitting by his self on the bench outside to keep the dog company, and wasn’t it the hottest day we’d gotten all that month of July. Swear I heard that spaniel’s feet sizzle all the way across the parking lot.
So anyway, here we are in this crummy old dealership office on a dog-sizzling day in the middle of July, and this gangly sumbitch has the nerve to tell me my money’s no good.
Look, I say, this here is a regulation ten thousand dollar bill. But he gets all worked up and says how there’s no such thing and won’t even shut his mouth so long as it would take for me to explain what I got to say, which is that the bill come direct from the official mint of the United States of America and been in our family since grandpa won it fair and square from Benny Binion’s casino in thirty-nine, and in his will my grandpa gave me all the right I need to spend it if I ever should choose to do so. (And by the way, if you might be thinking I got more use for some old piece of green paper than I do for a car, well, I never saw no bill I could drive Leo Virgil to school in.)
So anyway, by the time he looks down at the bill again for the hunnerth time and I’m about to lose my composure in a considerable way, well that’s when he finally says, I can tell it’s no good cause it ain’t got no president on it.
Well hell, I say, I could of told you that. It’s got old Secretary Salmon P. Chase on it, and he was a sight more useful to this country than hardly any president I could name you off a dollar bill. Weren’t for him you wouldn’t have no type of dollar bills, seeing as he was the one who got them all printed up in the first place, I say. Weren’t for him about half this country’d still most likely be all mucked up with slavery and there wouldn’t be no such a thing as the United States, just a bunch of regular old states without much to do with each other. And that’s the honest truth, I say, same from me as it was from my grandpa who tell me the story of the ten thousand dollar bill about ten thousand times every day of his life if he tell it once.
I never heard of no Salmon P. Chase, the idiot says, but I know one thing and that’s a bill’s got to have a president on it or it ain’t no good, he says, no good at all.

Hooverville Lovesong
By Timothy Nolan

As President Herbert Hoover sat crouched over his large oaken desk, scribbling furiously at a document stamped with the presidential seal, he heard three sharp knocks at the door.  His mouth curled into a timid smile as he raised his head and said “Come in, Charles.”  The door swung open confidently, and framed in the dark of the hallway stood a roundish man with a magnificent moustache, smoky red skin, and deep brown eyes that seemed to anchor his face to the ground.
“Good evening, Mr. President,” said Charles Curtis, his words echoing like a command, but with a hint of the sultry summer air that smothered the room.
“You know, Charles, right now I’m working on this sport I’m inventing.  It’s really quite riveting.  I’m attempting to combine volleyball and tennis,” Herbert said, politely smiling like Mother Mary at a dirty joke.  The vice president walked towards him with the virility of a horny Zeus.  “It’s complicated, inventing a new sport.”
Charles grinned and put his hairy hand on Herbert’s shoulder, squeezing tightly.
“One has to make sure the rules are extraordinarily explicit, or else the players might lose interest.”  Herbert laughed nervously as Charles, with all the silence of a Vanderbilt in a bordello, sank his head into the President’s soft hair.  “Oh…ha…Charles, I’m trying to talk to you.”  Strong gnarled hands slipped down Herbert’s heaving chest.  “You see, Charles, the problem with inventing a sport is that only I know the rules.”  Tough wet lips searched the President’s neck for a response.  “And…nobody will want to play with me…because they won’t know the…”
Herbert turned to Charles as a rush of fiery passion gripped him behind the stomach.
Later, in the largest bedroom of the White House, entangled in the sheets, Herbert laid his tired head upon Charles’ bare chest.  Herbert’s eyes were puffy and red, and glistened mournfully in the moonlight.
“I can never go to sleep with all the racket outside,” he whispered as Charles dozed off.  Herbert sniffed loudly and dried his eyes on the sheets.  “I don’t want them to blame me,” Herbert said shakily into the stuffy room.  Poor and humble Herbert Hoover curled up in his lover’s arms, shivering in the heat of another summer night.
Outside, a bum in tattered clothes let out a couple more gurgled yelps before he drowned in the White House swimming pool.

Voiceless Velar
By Gillian Brassil

The K in James K. Polk is for Knox: James Knox Polk, a name that clatters around the mouth but ultimately hits like a hickory stick. But Polk himself never hit, never laid palm to skin except to smooth over the back of his young wife Sarah, to whisper quick-choked into her ear: I’ll be back in a second, darlin’—I’ve got to acquire Oregon is all. He was a one-term president from the start who said four goals and thassit, get ‘er done, and then got ‘er done, got Sarah all done up too, though she got exactly zero terms from him, nary a pregnancy in their 25 years of marriage. But you couldn’t say the man was impotent, our Napoleon of the Stump, the greatest promise-keeper of our time: reestablishment of the independent treasury (check), reduction of tariffs (check), Oregon to the forty-ninth parallel and the deft left-hand snatch of California and New Mexico from our neighbors to the south. He drank gin straight and licked the first postage stamps dry until his tongue lay flat and raw, and then he affixed them over Sarah’s body and sent her to bed.