Hot Fudge Sundae

A Joseph Castagno short story…

I know it was for my own good, but I miss bacon… pizza and what I wouldn’t do for a donut or a milk shake – the cubes aren’t so bad and we’re not supposed to even remember the old days… but I do. The days before Techocracy, before the vaccines saved us, you know back when we were still allowed to think for ourselves – but it’s better now right? No more cancer, no more diabetes, no more fat people…

It had happened pretty quickly after the 2022 mid-term elections, we had all thought the mergers were a good thing and hadn’t we laughed at the names? Amazoogle, Micrapple, Sprizon… Pfizeneca was probably my favorite, but it didn’t seem so funny when they had setup a national governance board replacing the executive branch of what was no longer a democracy or the forced vaccination programs… no that wasn’t funny at all.

Covid had been a test run if you will and the vaccines had worked with unprecedented efficacy, eradicating the virus had been a nice side effect – testing out DNA manipulation had been the real win though. Cancer had been a fast follow, I mean how do you argue with curing cancer, it was the fucking holy grail, wasn’t it? Diabetes was next, you don’t really need to worry about insulin costs if you wipe out the disease.

All this was just part of the learning curve though, the real test was programming out human behavior, a small hormonal adjustment here and there and all of a sudden no one craves food anymore. Science had learned plenty during the Covid years including how to turn off taste and smell and wasn’t that really at the heart of desire? I try to push all this aside as I gaze at my toes… socks or no socks? That I was even making this decision and could see my toes was progress, right?

I had decided no socks, but the kitchen floor was cold and I was rethinking my decision as I cut two green cubes in half and contemplated adding a yellow. About six months earlier I had found an old jar of peanut butter, God only knows how the inspectors had missed that, turns out toasting the yellow and adding a glop didn’t trigger any taste sensations, but the Alexa alarm system had scared the shit out of me. That little experiment had cost me another inspection and fifty tokens as that bitch Siri is fond of reminding me every time, I check my account.

I stand at my desk and adjust the treadmill speed, no one sat any longer it wasn’t healthy, plugging in I receive the overnight “news” – ahh all is well in the world, no unemployment, no disease, everything is green and the climate is perfect… Elysium I think to myself, damn where had that come from, Dante? No Shakespeare… I can’t quite remember as I start to tremble… Oh fuck no I think licking my lips, a hot fudge sundae pops into my head. Everything starts to fade and I can hear the Alexa alarm going off somewhere in the distance…

Tumbling – an Ode to the Soul Collector

Never forget the “Soul Collector”


The bright white of the bare fluorescent bulbs reflected off the white enamel chasing any chance of a shadow along the linoleum floor into the corners – the black and white flecked tiles, slightly gummy and redolent of industrial pine cleaner, cling to the bottom of Jimmy’s bright red Chucks as he watches the aimless tumble of T-Shirts in the big dryer. Taking a deep breath of the heavy humid air tinged with the sweet scent of warm cotton and softener, he lets out a deep sigh watching the chaotic choreography – he isn’t a metaphor kinda guy, but it strikes him that his life has been following a similar pattern lately – leaning back in the plastic chair the thought passes. He doesn’t open his eyes as the door scrapes open and a deep mellow voice intones… “long is the day, hard is the struggle…”


Tried to spend most of the day not glued to the computer or social media… it’s a rare weekday not working… I indulged some time this afternoon catching up and of course reading the many posts celebrating Dr. King’s life… mostly posting snippets of speeches some with pictures some without, a few tying together Billy Graham or JFK with Dr. King’s work.

I can’t say i have a favorite necessarily, but if you haven’t actually taken the time to move past the overused quotes and listen to a full recording of one of his speeches make the time you’ll be better for it. It’s not just what he is saying but how he says it… a true orator he leverages his whole being to infuse purpose and power into his words.

I was born in 1965 and can’t claim to have any first hand experience of those tumultuous times and other than a brief period of months in SC as a teenager it would be disingenuous to claim any real understanding of systemic racism and oppression. My very dear friend Steve Coleman has described it as a “burning in his bones, something that is inescapable and never goes away…” He attributes this to a speech Mr. George Williams gave at the African American Student Association in 1987.

I guess that description has stuck with me, and It’s something I try to remind myself of as often as possible, today of course was easier than most. But i wonder as we move past this evening and into our work week, back to the pandemic, the politics of a new administration, all the other every day distractions we all face… if we are so fortunate as to not have a “burning in our bones” to not face the daily reminders of our race… will we remember to remember?

I hope so, and in doing so in our own way bring some small honor to the legacy of Dr. King…