The Yoke of the Horde

The most suppressed novel since Tuesdays with Marvin!

For those with short attentions spans: a very brief excerpt

"I made my way up to the counter and, not knowing the language or even where I was on a map, decided there was one thing I could do in a situation like this, one thing I had to do in order to diffuse the tension surrounding my presence. I reached down into my tube sock, and coming up with a handful of Yuan notes indicated with universal hand gestures that I was buying the next round."

From Chapter 3 of The Yoke of the Horde

"Of course you can't believe anything that comes out of his mouth. You know, I cannot wait until the divorce proceedings heat up. I want to see him show up in front of some judge dressed in that silly outfit of his, rambling on like he does about all of his visions and so forth. That's what I want to see, because I know this sounds strange, but I think with the judge there, I'll feel vindicated. One look at Rosco and wham-o, oh I can't wait, split right up, like the whole marriage never happened in the first place. How I wish the whole marriage never happened in the first place, or better yet, that I had met and married a real man like Scott instead."

Flora beams at Scott Vrock, the new love of her life.

"Did I tell you about my lawyer?" she continues. "He's amazing. We're talking Perry Mason. He's gotten Scott out of jail four different times. Believe me, when it comes to lawyers, Scott is something of an expert. This lawyer of mine though, or I should say ours... did you hear that Scott? I said 'our' lawyer. We're doing things together, we're a unit. Anyways our lawyer said that it would be in our best interests to have Rosco show up at court dressed in one of his little costumes. I told the lawyer I don't think he'd wear anything else."

"Any more of those corn chips?" Scott croaks.

Flora, moves closer to Tommy and whispers, "Believe me, Scott's usually more social, but sometimes after a few beers he can be... how to put this, a bit difficult."


"Scott," Flora scolds.


Scott resembles a man stretched out in a carnival mirror, only lying prone on Flora's couch. Half way through his third bag of corn chips, and surrounded by half a dozen empty forty once bottles of 'Old Squirrel Hill' malt liquor, Scott still does not make the impression of one who ingests more than the minimum amount needed for human consumption. Everything about him is lanky. His hair is short with the exception of the long stringy bands that hang off the back of his neck. His so-called 'muscle' shirt reads "No Fear," and his jeans tightly encase two long skinny legs, which lead like country roads to his pair of size 14 basketball shoes. His face is wrinkly, long, and remarkably out of proportion. He wears a pair of black glasses, thick because as he told Flora just the other day, "I got my eyeball kicked out of my head once."

Tommy and Flora are watching Scott from the kitchen.

"Here," Flora says shoving a bag of corn chips into Tommy's hands. "Go have some corn chips with Scott. I think it's great that you two are going to get to know each other today. Scott doesn't have a lot of friends. He could really use a buddy. Most of his friends are locked away for crimes they didn't commit. It's a shame really, the justice system, or should I say 'injustice system' being what it is. The police have framed Scott more than once, but nobody has taken the time to listen to his side of the story. Until now, that is. Well, what are you standing there for? Come on. Go in there. You guys are going to be great friends. I just know it- Scott! What did I say about throwing bottles in the house?"


Tommy brings the bag of corn chips to Scott with Flora following him into the room. She's wearing a proud smile. This is like seeing her child in the school play. A friend for Scott, she thinks, this is a real step forward. Let the rest of the world think whatever they want, her Scott is making progress. As he grabs the bag of corn chips from Tommy, Flora can't help but hope that this is the beginning of the new Scott. She briefly imagines him buckling up children in a mini-van, her children, a family of Vrock-Giordanos perhaps setting out on a vacation, going camping or something. Oh yes, this is the beginning of everything she'd dreamed about since meeting Scott at the bar the other night.

"What are you people, a fucking bunch of moron imbeciles?" Scott spits out. "Sitting around and not even paying attention to what's on teevee. Look, you're missing Alright Already," he says shoving a handful of corn chips into his mouth with one hand and turning up the volume on the remote with the other. He proceeds to give them a quick review of the show Alright Already. "Hot damn! Vis is funny ship! Aw shit. I seen zis one befuh. I seen this one before. This mother fucker's got two chicks to take to the dance, and he thinks he can get away with it. So the one mother fucking chick finds out at the dance and she takes the mother fucking punch bowl and pours it over the mother fucker's mother fucking head," Scott cackles with delight. "Goddamn if that's not funny, my name ain't Scott Vrock."

"Scott, you remember Tommy from the other night," Flora tries to say as pleasantly as possible with the teevee's volume now roughly that of a jackhammer. "He's the one who I said would be our arbitrator. He's going to make sure that everyone who lives here can be as happy as they can possibly be until we find a way to get rid of Rosco."

"Sleeper hold."

"Oh, Scott. Tommy already knows about how you mistook Rosco for a burglar."

"I had that cock sucker in a sleeper hold just the other night. That's right. I got him like this. Then he tried to weasel out, so I gave him one of these. UH UH UH! Then I put him in the sleeper hold, but he wouldn't say uncle. That's when Flora over here said he wasn't a burglar. Just in time for him, because another mother fucking second or so and I would have thrown him on the ground and done this. UuuHAGG! Then I woulda picked him up and twisted him like this, and then I woulda given him two or three a these. You see this? Wham! Wham! Wham again, mother fucker. Then I woulda taken him and done one of these... "

Scott Vrock leaps up, twists his body in mid air and crashes down elbows first onto Flora's coffee table. A terrific clap follows, corn chips fly indiscriminately about the room. Flora waits for the reverberations to settle before announcing, "I'll be in my room combing my beanie tots if you need me."

"You like wrestling?" Scott asks Tommy somewhat short of breath after Flora's left the room. "I like wrestling sure, but what I really like is this show here. Now that she's gone, check this out." Scott changes the channel "Oh yeah and it's just starting. I love this show."

On the teevee search lights manically swirl all over giant metal letters spelling out the words "Real Live Fights." Scott punches the air violently to the beat of the theme music, which happens to substitute gunshots for drumbeats. An announcer's voice is heard over a throng of people inside a coliseum. "Ladies and Gentleman! Welcome to... " and then the crowd, frenzied shouts out "REAL LIVE FIGHTS!" The announcer's voice returns, and informs the audience about tonight's show. Meanwhile, Scott jumps up and down beating up an imaginary foe.

"Goddamn this show gets me psyched up! How about you? I bet you never even saw something like this before."

Inside the coliseum, a giant television monitor descends from the rafters as the Real Live Fights theme music picks up in tempo. When the monitor turns on, the viewers on teevee and in the coliseum see a very plain looking man standing behind a convenience store cash register. In the upper left hand corner of the screen it says "Live from Albany, New York." In the upper right hand corner is the RLF logo. The man continues to stare into the camera without emotion as the announcer says, "Tonight, our very own band of RLF thugs have made their way to Albany, New York, where they'll attempt to rob this convenience store at gunpoint!"

The man behind the counter in the store looks confused. "What the hell is this all about?" he asks the camera. The audience has begun to chant, and the teevee now shows them, people from all walks of life holding signs and placards with mug shots of criminals on them. "This isn't that teevee show, is it?" the man pleads. "It's not that show Real Live Fights, is it?" And with that the audience goes wild, even wilder than before.

"Now just wait and see what happens," Scott advises Tommy. "Then you just try and tell me this isn't the best damn show teevee has to offer. It's much better than Alright Already. Just you fucking wait."

Into the convenience store walk five big guys all dressed in black. The leader of the group walks up to the counter and asks the clerk for a roll of breath mints. The clerk moves slowly, warily. The smallest of the thugs yells something at the clerk, who wheels around and says, "Listen now, I don't want any trouble."

"Shut your pie hole and give the man his breath mints!" a bald headed thug yells.

With that the whole group of thugs falls upon the clerk and begins to pummel him. Alternating shots are shown of the clerk's beating and the crowd, now a sea of dizzy excitement and fistfights. The camera pans across the arena, catching people instantaneously exchanging blows in the swirling glare of the spotlight, and then disappearing again into darkness. The live feed from Albany is brought back up onto the screen, where a close up of the clerk shows him now firmly sandwiched between a combat boot and the floor, as he strains desperately to grab a pistol.

"Ah, this is getting boring," whines Scott. "Let's get a pizza."

From the bedroom Flora calls out, "Scott, did I hear you say you were going out for pizza? What kind of pizza are you going to get?"

"A mother fucking pizza. Fucking-a, what is this? 20/20 questions with Hugh Walters?"

"Wait a minute," Flora says running in from the other room as if she's heard something exciting. "Are you guys really going out for pizza?" Then, with her fingers interlocking, weak at the knees, "Oh, that is sooo cute! You two are becoming little friends! I love this. Oh Tommy, thank you so much for being Scott's new best friend. Scott, isn't this great? You have a new friend."

"Come on let's go," Scott mumbles somewhat oblivious to Flora's enthusiasm.

"Oh, Tommy. I just knew you and Scott were going to be buddies, I just knew it all along. Now, seeing it happen, it just makes me want to cry. You're going to get pizza together, that's so adorable. I know I'm getting choked up and maybe, meb-, maybe I'm beginning to seem a little silly, but it's just that Scott doesn't have a lot of friends, do you, Scott?"

"We're fucking hungry see you later, corn-fart!" Scott replies.