IN THE CIRCUIT COURT
FOR TRAVIS COUNTY AUSTIN, TEXAS
Plaintiff Stickley, Hibble, et al.
Diablo ThrusterBangers, Inc. Defendants
A deposition of Eugene Harmon Slack was recorded on November 5, 2008, commencing at 11:05 a.m., at the law offices of Hadley B. Conover, LLC, The Stovall Building, Suite 600, 1666 2nd Street, Austin, Texas, 78701-3713, before Cindy L. Ingot, Notary Public.
HADLEY B. CONOVER, ESQ.
On behalf of Plaintiff
SIDNEY JEFFERSON PARDO, ESQ.
On behalf of Defendant
ALSO PRESENT: NILS A. STEWART
REPORTED BY: CINDY L. INGOT
[Conover] Sir, please state your legal name and address.
[Slack] Eugene Harmon Slack, 12800 Cherubim Lane, Austin, Texas, 78753. So, it’s tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but, is that right?
[Conover] Yes. As we discussed, you are swearing out a voluntary affidavit, and you are sworn to tell the truth. Do you understand?
[Slack] Yes. Can I cuss in it?
[Conover] I can’t advise that, but if you tell the truth, I don’t think it will matter.
[Slack] Everything matters in the law—you know that, counselor. But, just so we’re clear, I will be using my scatological skills here today. There’s no way around it anyway—it’s all part of the truth.
[Conover] Mr. Slack, please give us your account of the termination of your employment with Diablo ThrusterBangers, Inc. ________
[Slack ] Even before things broke down in the office with Leonard, I’d already witnessed within myself the growing penchant for disrespecting my betters that would eventually get me fired. A lot of people blame George W. Bush for pushing the country into an unneeded war and for tipping the economy into the fucking abyss, but I fault him first for making it acceptable, in public life, to act like a goddamn hayseed bumpkin. Karl Rove’s exit from gainful employment followed closely on the heady revelation that the President of the United States had dubbed him “turd blossom.” [Deponent indicates with air quotes.] The news reports never let on what poor Karl’s retort might’ve been, maybe something like Stinker-in-Chief, I don’t know, but I cite this presidential name-calling as evidence that W. opened the door. He set the tone and made it acceptable to cast global aspersions, imprecating as he did against evil-doers, terrorists, and turd blossoms.
So, not too long after W’s pet name for Rove found its way into the headlines, I started calling Leonard a professional ass-lick, thinking by God that was the best way to get fired from a piss-ant job I hated anyway. Plus, I just wanted to see if W’s decorum couldn’t possibly swing both ways, tit for tat, so to speak. Of course, I knew it didn’t.
Leonard didn’t fire me right away; in fact, he never had the gumption to do the deed himself. Once I was finished misbehaving, corporate execs and a lawyer arrived at our division office, for the final showdown, while he, ass-lick Leonard, watched from the bleacher seats.
But, as I said, Leonard forestalled any action at first, fearing I had gone loony and would sue him under disability laws if he took precipitous measures to fire me. The ruse proved HR-proof and gave me the leverage I needed to put a twist on overweening corporate arrogance. [Aside to counsel] And, no, I am not really crazy. [End aside]
From experience, I can enumerate what business owners fear more than anything—1) untidy, 2) inconvenient, 3) costly legal exposure—that’s what. Manage the possibility of litigation and you manage them.
I played that card for nine months.
While W. convinced the world to go to war on flawed intelligence, I was making Leonard miserable, and his bosses chase their tails like in-bred pit bulls, on the false assumption that I had diagnosable “issues” [air quotes]. Committed to head-long assaults, I used to enter Leonard’s office with a big shit-eating grin, and tell him, “You ain’t got to keep it weird all by yourself, Bubba; I’m here to help you keep it real. Yeah. Cha cha cha [sic].” Scared the crap out him, I could tell, and I imagined a brown spot forming on his dress khakis, dead center crotch, even thought I caught a whiff of raw ass wafting out from under his desk.
And if I was a little wiggy in scaring my boss shitless with malice of forethought, so what? It was fun, the lying and the deception and the turning-of-the-table, and I made the most of it before I walked away. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Unlike some, at least I put up resistance, and I left with a clear conscience, too, because at least I did what I could. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Yeah, fun, my ass. [Aside to counsel] And tell me again, why am I trying to help Leonard Stickley now? [Consultation off-camera between Counsel Pardo and Deponent Slack.]
[Pardo] Mr. Slack, please stay on-task with your testimony.
[Slack] What am I? A fifth-grader? I’ll tell the story as I see fit, or not at all.
[Pardo] Go on.
[Slack] I played crazy to fuck with Leonard’s head, but I always did my work. I was the administrative savant for Diablo ThrusterBangers, Inc., a distributor of widgets in high demand in our Texas town, and one day the sole proprietor decided it would be entirely copasetic to shave a few bucks off the commission payments to our sales staff.
Leonard said, “Mr. B______ wants us to clean house. We’re missing a few items in inventory, so we’ll just charge them off to the commissioned sales accounts. Those guys will never miss a few bucks out of their paychecks. Besides, they’re all a bunch of fuckups anyway, breathing our air.”
I heard W’s hubris behind Leonard’s bullshit, and it pissed me off.
“Fuck no,” I told him, “I ain’t stealing from our bullpen.” The use of ain’t put me in the column with hayseed W. But Leonard shot back “I’ll be damned if you ain’t.” He had me stymied there, one-upped me in the hayseed quotient, but I still wouldn’t comply with what he wanted.
He pushed back some more—“fiduciary obligation” this and “blatant insubordination” that—and that’s when I used the WMD and called him a professional ass-lick. “You ain’t nothing but,” I said, the hayseed quotient reasserted in my favor.
His brow arched up as if I’d groin-punched him. Growing over his eye sockets were these rioting bushes forming a scrubby hedge that always distracted me in the moment when I was arguing a salient point.
“What the hell did you say to me?” he asked, with disbelief and outrage.
“You heard me,” I said, staring right at his wiry uni-brow. “I ain’t stealing from these sales people. And why the hell don’t you do some personal grooming on those chingaleras?” I might as well have called him a goddamn professional Republican, for all the mileage I got out of appealing to his conscience.
It wasn’t too long after that first skirmish with Leonard that El Jefe Dubyer got his way with Congress and won a lopsided vote to go to war and hunt down Saddam Hussein, “dead or alive,” [air quotes] or some such bullshit. “He already tried to kill my daddy onced [sic],” W. said. Policy wonks and cable commentators had their fill, bloviating on the inevitability of taking Saddam out of the terrorist equation. For God’s sake, we had to do it for our national security. Why, it was as clear as Rove’s shiny pate. It was as clear as W’s homespun, folksy, ah-shucks rhetoric. We had to do it, quote, “for our posteriors,” unquote.
What did W’s stupid-ass political victory mean for a corporate nobody like me? It meant executive power everywhere was on the ascendancy. It meant not rocking the boat with my piddly concerns. It meant falling into lockstep, if I had any sense of the rising, unbridled power I faced. After all, W. said he had a lot of tools in his “toolbox” [air quotes], which was code for saying he could rip you a new asshole anytime—all of which emboldened the Leonards of this world to act like lords of the manor, too. Yes, that’s what W’s decorum accomplished—middle-class a-holes acting morally superior in a post-post-modern world.
In the space of a few days Leonard found his mojo again. “Son,” he said, “there’s nothing wrong with you that a pink slip won’t fix, and don’t think I won’t do it neither.” Neither was the operative word for my wayward sensibility. If he’d talk in triple negatives like that, he’d sure as hell fire my ass in a heartbeat. At first it worried me, this reconstituted Leonard, and I thought I might have to do as he asked, even though stealing from the sales staff seemed like an impossible choice.
That whole time, though, Leonard was getting what he wanted by having his secretary, Agnes Hibble, initiate the transactions under her username. He said that he’d vouch for whatever he told her to do. He could accomplish whatever he wanted without my cooperation—that was his point, and he made it clear enough—so the rub was my refusal to accommodate a superior’s request. That’s what irked him. His managerial prerogative had been thwarted and he wanted to test my will, to push me toward compliance with his directives, to make a point of his authority.
“Well, you go head on, dicksnot,” I said, fixated once again on his beetling single eyebrow. “Make your point however you like, pink slip, red slip, blue slip—I don’t give a flying shit. I still ain’t stealing for you.”
This hard-hitting repartee reasserted my suspected status as a loon, which was well and good, and Leonard backed off, but the repeated head-buttings with him couldn’t continue indefinitely, I knew. Subsequently, I decided that I probably needed outside help of some kind. I thought about a lawyer, a minister of the gospel, a psychiatrist, or maybe someone with interdisciplinary skills, like a lawyer-minister-psychiatrist. But I decided if they had any professional credentials, I didn’t want to talk to them. [Aside to counsel] That’s why I refused to talk to you earlier, you see; I was delayed by an existential prejudice against officers of the court, which I have not relinquished, by the way. [End aside]
As an unwitting exemplar, W. taught me that lesson, too. No offense intended here, Mr. Conover, but those in the professional class are the ones who’ve churned the world into a fucking clabber-cluster. They were the ones in charge, the ones on watch who participated in screwing the ever-loving pooch. So why should I talk to them? How could they help me? It was obvious they couldn’t. Events had gone too far on all accounts, micro and macro. I had taken an irretrievable step in the direction of anarchy, W. was dead-set on marching us straight into the Maw of Sheol, and the pinhead counselors, whatever their stripe or allegiance, could not help me.
However, I wasn’t completely averse to a third party’s assistance in determining a course of action. I was simply inclined to reject doctors of jurisprudence, doctors of divinity, and doctors of pharisaical psychiatry. Rejection of status quo professionals didn’t mean there was no help for me, and as captain of my own imperiled ship, I determined that fate should have some say in the matter. I therefore decided on a respected local establishment offering advice in matters of consequence, and made arrangements there to consult with someone I trusted.
Where I occasionally go the girls are all college coeds, and I seek their confidential advice on an as-needed basis. On the appointed evening, I asked my favorite, Kimber—sweet, sweet Kimber, rhymes with limber—if she wouldn’t mind inserting the C-note in her garter for me, direct touching being, sadly, forbidden. She looked at me with simpering regret, as if she were about to cheat me by force.
“Why, sweetie,” she asked me, “don’t you like me anymore?”
“Oh, yes,” I replied. “You know I love you, but you’re about to answer a cosmic question for me, depending on where you put that Benjamin. Just dance while you do it.”
I had determined that the left thigh signified the auditing firm of Price Higginstooper & Hottel, the right thigh was the FBI, and the sweet spot was a full-on assault. W., you see, had caused me to long for more than just straight-up business dealing. I ached for those Clinton days when nothing was so clear-cut that you couldn’t mix in a little grab-ass while taking the moral high ground. [Deponent screams.] Fuck a lawyer. To hell with a minister. And a psychiatrist could go suck Pharma’s cock, for all I cared. Kimber gave me what I needed, my answer—sweet nookie. A full-bore, full-on assault it would be. [Screaming ends.]
Now I just had to write the letters. The trick was to play everyone off of each other. If I wrote Senator H_____’s Congressional office, I had to tell her that Senator C_____ was also receiving a letter. If I wrote the so-called independent auditors and the bank examiners, I had to tell them that the FBI had already been notified, to create a healthy competition in the response. And if I wrote the IRS, I just had to step out of the way, I thought, because for sure there’d be a big hole where the SP used to ponder his existence. I was specific, too. Look here, in this database, for this documentation—the evidence—to prove an on-going fraud.
Living in W’s sorry-ass world, though, would anyone give a bean counter’s shit? Would they—would anybody I contacted—follow up? I wasn’t sure, but my inclination was to expect a maelstrom directed at me, the whistle blower, aka evil-doer, aka terrorist, aka turd blossom. Because I was, after all, writing to just another set of professionals, albeit banking and Federal officials, who inspired trust in my view to a degree no higher, and perhaps much lower, than the lesser, local imps.
Yes, yes to trust issues. Yes, yes to authorities issues. So fucking what? Guilty and guilty. I am self-aware. Still, it felt good to think I might tweak the nose of the corporate beast, even though inwardly I thought my chances of succeeding were nil.
I mailed the letters, making sure to send myself exact copies, never to be opened except under legal necessity, and I purposed to weather whatever consequences redounded from my decision. I imagined a cacophony of responses directed at the sole proprietor, because my allegations would surely not go completely ignored. Was I just some pettifogging malcontent? (That was a valid question. To an outsider, like a judge, that would be the foremost question.) Or had I identified real corporate abuses requiring a further look-see? I expected Diablo would get the initial high card in answering both questions, the benefit of “passing go” [air quotes] accorded sole proprietors. Yes, I was a loon in Diablo’s employ, they would say, under HR’s microscope of late; and, no, of course not, there had been no sanctioned program of electronic theft. Deny, deny, deny.
My treatises on corporate fraud could, I knew, end up as dead letters in the offices of the various authorities to which I had appealed; however, in the interest of keeping my spirits up, I chose instead to consider the effect of my missives thusly. The progress to the executive suite would begin with some lowly admin in our Dallas HO receiving a phone call from the auditors, which she would forward to her supervisor, which he would forward to upper up-your-ass management, who would finally deliver the salvo—“We’ve been betrayed!”—to the SP upstairs. Imagining the whole progression emboldened my resolve and made me giddy with the potential power I had to send Diablo into an untidy, inconvenient, costly legal tailspin.
But W., a sole proprietor of sorts, knows all about what to do with betrayal. You play the dumbass, right? And combine ignorance with an admixture of moral effrontery. Videlicet. [Deponent mocks in a loud voice.] Scooter, how could you out the nice lady for a spy? Bad Scooter! Bad! Boy howdy! That was that fucker Nixon’s problem, too, wadn’t it? That boy, he just weren’t hayseed enough. Why, if he’d just played the hayseed dumbass, he could’ve finished his second term. Without a doubt, the whole world would’ve been different. [Mocking ends.]
[Conover] Let’s break for another consultation off-camera.
[Conover] Mr. Slack, I’m asking you if you could refrain from political commentary in your recorded statement. Can you do that, you think?
[Slack] No. Turn the camera back on. You should know better than to ask questions requiring no more than yes or no replies. Unless you know the answer to the question you’re asking. Which didn’t help you in this instance.
[Conover] I’m not the enemy here. It is on. Talk. Address the camera, not me.
[Slack] Ironically, during the time I was waiting for Diablo’s caca accounting to pass through the rotors, I became the model employee. I knew what I had done by outing the company could have far-reaching consequences—possible jobs lost, reputations ruined—but I was content with those risks, if, in the end, I stopped the SP from cornholing his sales people.
As a result of this new-found balance, I stepped into a zone of bliss where I knew what was coming, relished its arrival, but still kept it all to myself. I also stopped lapsing into ain’t and fixin-to to make emphatic points, swearing off the hayseed quotient as a viable mode of linguistic exchange. I even quit aiming vile invectives at Leonard. As a consequence of these adjustments, I found that W. was, if not far away, at least somewhat removed as a retarder of effective corporate culture.
To maintain my equilibrium, I avoided Leonard as much as I could, and things were better with me, until the invasion of Iraq began with sufficient “shock and awe” [air quotes] to unsettle me. Absent without excuse from work, glued to the television at home, I dealt with my fear and trembling over executive authority gone ape-shit by venting a spate of vulgar logos at W’s Howdy Doody photogeneity, even as Saddam’s governmental compound exploded in real-time on CNN.
My sense of power over the accounting imbroglio at Diablo evaporated altogether when, not long after the invasion, W. appeared—ill-advisedly, I thought, as soon as I saw his goofy mug wrapped in a pilot’s helmet—on the deck of an aircraft carrier, with the banner Mission Accomplished waving behind him. That’s when I knew that I was probably F-U-C-Kayed. Any country that would lap up that kind of spooge as representing anything like truth would certainly have no problem throwing me under the bus and believing Leonard’s version of events over mine. I’d have no help, it was clear to me then, and I needed to think about girding my private parts for the assault to come.
However, months passed with no response.
Having served on juries where continuances, baby-splitting, and plain-ass legal dawdling were the norm, I tried to reassure myself with the notion that the law never moves with urgency toward the urgent. Accordingly, in this period I maintained my attendance, did my work competently—still refusing to steal from our sales bullpen. But my former resolve gradually diminished, what with programmed theft and lying seizing the day, and I began to dread that I wouldn’t have the cojones to stand my ground when the reckoning came, as it surely would, even if the proper authorities were in no hurry to mete out justice. Waiting and time to consider my actions led to a wormhole of rumination. Maybe I should back off. Maybe I should recant while I still had the chance. Maybe I should just quit, run off, and go live, Thoreau-cum-Kaczynski-like, in the fucking woods somewhere.
To wit, I mulled and waited, waited and mulled, marking the days of shock and awe, less and less sure of myself and my position, but hating executive power all the more because it had provoked me into a fight when I had absolutely no chance of landing a blow.________
The day you get fired from a job you hate is like being born again. It doesn’t matter what’s on the other side of that conference room door, as long as it’s not the asshole with whom you just played the dozens.
Four months after I hurled my plaint into a void of unknowing, the SP showed up unannounced on a Friday, that set-apart, hallowed day for separations and terminations. He had Diablo’s COO and a lawyer with him, as witnesses to the proceedings. Grim-faced and pious as a menopausal nun, he declared that they wanted to investigate “allegations of fiduciary misconduct” [air quotes]. The implication was that the misconduct was ours, in no way theirs, and they were going to get to the bottom of it all. [Aside to counsel] Which was bullshit, I still contend. They investigated themselves and got away with it. [End aside] They called me into Leonard’s office, with Leonard excluded from the proceedings, of course.
Wasting no time, Mr. B_____ lit into me.
“How come you wrote all these goddamn letters impugning my company’s reputation?”
I replied, “Because you directed Leonard to have me commit a fraud.”
“Not so” was his calm denial, calmness and gainsaying being vital parts of executive prerogative. “No,” he said again, “but I’ll probably fire Leonard and his dumbass secretary for good measure. We’ll call it a re-organization.”
For some sort of sign of what was to follow—beheading, castration, disembowelment, exsanguination—I looked to the Chief Operating Officer and the lawyer. The COO was a cold, taciturn mothereffer, looked like an SS agent dressed as a metro-sexual in a dark blue two-thousand-dollar suit, and he gave me no sign of the next step in my dissolution. The lawyer, however, straining to smile and appear lawyerly all at same time, looked like he might piss himself, which gave me some hope that not all authority was cool, competent and corrupt. If he was so uncomfortable with the proceedings that he ran the risk of whizzing his drawers, well, then, I thought, there might be room for conscience after all. He put me in mind of a Chihuahua, all spindly, thin-limbed and short-haired, and dressed inappropriately, my God, in a shit-brown suit. [Aside to counsel] Everyone knows that out of respect you wear a black suit to funerals, terminations, and depositions. [End aside]
The sangfroid sole proprietor redirected my attention from the counselor’s caca-colored suit and back to the proceedings. “You’re not really crazy, are you?” he inquired thoughtfully.
“No, sir,” I replied. “I’m in full possession of my faculties. Saner than you, I’d warrant.”
“Well, okay then, boys,” he said, looking not at me but at the Schutzstaffel COO and the bobble-head Chihuahua, “—he’s fired. Get it done.”
When the SP finished firing me—it all happened pretty fast, just as I’ve recounted here—I got up to leave, and the Chihuahua lawyer said, “Thank you.” And, oh, that pissed me off. So I hollered, “Thank me. Thank me for what? You twitchy little ass-lick.” The lawyer winced, his head bobbing in a pathetic, palsied manner, as if he were drunk, of a feeble constitution, or on his last legal leg. But, as the counsel of record, he knew to keep his mouth shut and let the other party blather on unimpeded.
“Fuck all y’all,” I said. “You’re nothing but a bunch of sanctioned thieves.”
And that was the capstone, the last word, as I stalked out of Leonard’s office. I didn’t even go through the ritual of cleaning out my desk. I couldn’t get out of that hell-hole fast enough.
On reflection, I thought that everything came off hunky-dory at the firing, which went pretty much as I had envisioned it. I took the comeuppance like a man, used words and didn’t swing fists. Really, what else could the sole proprietor do but fire me? I gave him no wiggle room, no option except nuclear annihilation. Maybe, subconsciously, I wanted to be fired, and my narcing on Diablo and their commission-bilking scheme was just my way of going out with style. On the other hand, maybe the sole proprietor wanted me out and baited me with a fraud. A lose-lose proposition for me, damned if I complied, damned if I didn’t. But I can’t prove that theory, and I’ve let it go. I don’t regret anything.
As far as I know, the allegations never went any further, no investigation, no follow-up by the proper authorities. Sole proprietor got a pass, just as I thought he would. His simple word and reputation as an employer of thousands sufficed to tamp down any charges. He characterized them, I’m sure, as the facile maledictions of a loose cannon, and that was enough. Case closed. _
Not long after my termination at Diablo, W. held a press conference, with Defense Secretary Donald “Rummie” Rumsfeld in tow, to announce that they’d once again whittled down the deck of playing cards representing the fifty-two most-wanted former Iraqi officials. Why just the other day, with great fanfare, they let it be known that Saddam’s sons, Uday and Qusay, had been hunted down like a pair of chupacabra dogs. Those semper fi fucking Marines popped a cap in each of their heads. Now there’s the smell of bloody victory. Count ’em, Bubba. Two high-target towel heads greased. Progress in the Wore on Terr! After all, the truth is all about how you account for things—high-tech widgets, commission payments, turd blossoms, dead Iraqis—and I’m sure that W. believed every word that came out of his mouth. Just one more example of managerial prerogative, I guess.
As W. told the White House press corps of his successes—I wasn’t really listening to the asshole; it was something about former-Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz—I noted his body language. Very telling. W. has this way of hunching his shoulders forward when he talks, as if he might take a wild roundhouse swing at the nearest somebitch, if things don’t go entirely his way, and smile like a crazy-ass loon the whole time he’s punching. And watching him, I knew with metaphysical certainty that somewhere, in some shitty office, a middle manager with dangerous self-esteem issues was anxiously hunching his shoulders forward, too, just like W., because he’d found open purchase, by that invisible hand of the free marketplace, to act like a dick.________
[Conover] Cut camera. Dallas, did you get that?
[Dallas office] Yes.
[Conover] Secure the feed for transcription, please, and e-mail it to me.
[Slack] Are we done here, counselor?
[Slack] How did I do?
[Slack] Damn it, how did I do?
[Conover] You did fine. You’re a real world-shaker.
[Slack] Too much truth setting you free, Counselor?
[Conover] Something like that.
Ultimately, I did not use Eugene Slack’s recorded statement as testimony in the wrongful termination suits of Agnes Hibble and Leonard Stickley, filed jointly against DoTB. As Mr. Slack’s affidavit indicates so forcefully, something obviously happened to precipitate the mass firing that had nothing to do with professional exigencies or economic reductions-in-force. But Mr. Slack could not see beyond the broader issues of injustice to append his personal claim of wrongful termination to that of Ms. Hibble and Mr. Stickley. In fact, his story was potentially harmful to Leonard Stickley’s cause, because Slack blamed Stickley for not taking a stand with him against DoTB’s alleged financial abuses. Consequently, he was blind to, or stubbornly refused to understand, the possible benefit to himself of linking his cause with that of his former supervisor. For his part, Stickley argues that he was expressly doing the bidding of DoTB’s sole proprietor, while Agnes Hibble says essentially the same, that she also was simply following the orders of a superior, that is, Stickley. And, of course, true to his core ethical traits, Slack declares that they are both, quote, “inveterate corporate ass-licks undeserving of vigorous legal representation.” In truth, I would rather represent him, but the practice of the law has its own exigencies, which I must follow, even at the risk of compounding the very wrongs against which Slack rails. –HC
 Chingalera. Noun. Spanish. Common vulgarism of American Southwest. From infinitive chingar, to fuck. Translates as little fucking thing. Used to indicate passing annoyance at trifling impediments or obstructions.
 Clabber-cluster. American Southwest. Colloquialism. Clabber, as in sour, curdled milk, combined with cluster, as in a concentrated mass. Used to describe a disorganized situation that is beyond rectifying.
 Screw the pooch. U.S. Army slang dating back to WWII. The original phrase was “fucking the dog,” which was a euphemism for a soldier on the line wasting time or loafing. When, however, the fighting soldiers turned the term back on their commanding officers, they were speaking of incessant holding patterns, of being caught in the delay of issued orders, especially when urgent, decisive action was required but not forthcoming. The term evolved into the more esoteric, seemingly less vulgar, “screw the pooch,” which pilots used to describe an error of avionic judgment resulting in a plane crash. Now used generally to refer to any catastrophic “fuck-up.”
 Videlicet. Latin. “It may be seen clearly, evidently.”
 Caca. Noun. Spanish. Vulgar. Shit, defecation, corruption.
 Cojones. Noun. Spanish. Slang for male testicles. Invoking usually suggestive of bravado or courage.
 Chupacabra. Noun. Spanish. Neologism from the American Southwest. From chupar, to suck, and cabra, goat. Goatsucker. An alleged blood-sucking, hairless, four-legged miscreant believed to prey on livestock in Texas and New Mexico. Of a mythical, almost paranormal reputation, chupacabras have recently been identified as coyotes suffering a severe form of mange that completely denudes them of fur.
Martin Barkley's fiction, poetry and reviews have appeared in *The Three Penny Review*, *The Texas Observer*, and *Arcadia Magazine*, among others. He has a story collection, *The Lovesong of Smith Oliver Smith*, due out from *Red Bird* in early 2016.