Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Stereo

Thanks to Brenton Harper-Murray of Poor Brenton's Notebook for this guest Moral!

Troy wanted to stay in that Friday night, like he did every night, but his roommates were dead set on making that impossible. He had just gotten home from work, stretched the kinks in his back that he got from hunching over a keyboard coding at work all day. He made a bowl of ramen and sat at his computer for a relaxing night of Internet. He had just found a juicy thread on a message board when his roommates, Bierce and Lox burst in through the door with straining bags from Cut-Rite Liquors in their hands and gin on their breath.

They physically removed him from the computer and fixed him a cocktail that would cause a horse to have an extremely difficult time driving a car. They wanted him to come out dancing with them. Luxxx Club was having free HammerDown! NRG Shotz for the first hour they were open, and even though they didn't enjoy the spray-tanned spiky-haired rich kids that frequented the place, they couldn't turn down a hosted hour of their favorite brand of blackout-juice. To top it all off Lox dj'd there sometimes, and could get them in free.

After his second cocktail, Troy found it hard to refuse. He rationalized that he would stay till the free drinks stopped flowing, and return to his argument over the acceptable length of female dwarf beards that he was embroiled in on a message board.

Somebody was wrong on the Internet, and Troy would not stop until they realized the error of their ways.

When it came to free drinks, his roommates were always punctual. They arrived at Luxxx Club just as the electric bells of the Church of Bob struck 'Whenever'. The place was filling up by the minute with orange skinned men, their hair like blond syringes. And women that looked as though they had given up on dressing half-way through. The roommates dragged Troy across the empty but throbbing dance-floor and elbowed their way to a first row seat at the bar.

By the time the dj had queued the third Mp3 on his laptop the kidnappers had finished a tall can of the malt beverage each, and started on their second. Troy lagged behind, only sipping at the huge, syrupy can. He felt woozy from the cocktails back at the apartment and his obscure, geeky t-shirt (Don't Phaze Me Drow!) made him feel out of place.

But then it happened.

The NRG began to flow.

He slammed the rest of the can and thrilled at the tingle of caffeine making every nerve ending stand at attention, as the fifteen percent alcohol shrouded his brain like a Cloak of Mystification. When the free hour of drinks was up, he had destroyed two more of the twenty four ounce cans and the Internet dwarf fight was far from his mind.

The time had come for him to dance.

He swam into the sweat of the packed dance floor, hands in the air, hips gyrating, knotting himself into the swarm of humanity, breathing nothing but tart body spray and exhaling only to shout, 'Woo!' when it seemed prudent to do so. He was a diaspora of NRG, casting it left and right with his flailing limbs, lending his infinite inertia to all those around him when he stumbled and bumped into them. This was the greatest night of his life. He felt like taking chances. Dangerous chances.

He saw the beautiful woman's hair first, thick and long and black, barely tamed by a tightly tied scarf that was dyed with every color of passion. He didn't have quite the nerve to approach her yet, but he was sure he would find the courage within another can. He knifed through the oil shined biceps and bought a can, Grape-Granade flavored this time, chugged half of it down, and made his way back to his raven haired goddess.

He ran his fingernails through his hair and gave his best mysterious smirk.

"You got this..." He said, just before he tripped on the slick dance step he was attempting and spilled ultra violent purple drink down the front of her ivory white peasant blouse.

Only a few sips landed on the blouse, but the stuff was so dense with dye that is kept spreading out like she was bleeding it.

"Shazbot! I'm sorry! Let me buy you a drink!" He spluttered.

She was fuming, her eyes had gone all black and her lips twisted down so far it seemed they might rip from her face. She had about ten pounds of amulets around her neck and wore enough skirts to start a thrift shop.

"Idiot! What were you doing?" She dabbed at the stain and only succeeded in tainting her fingers grapeish.

He grinned. Time to turn on the charm. "Dancing, baby!" He did a little jig he had once seen performed by a homeless man. "I can't stop dancin'!"

Her frown turned into an evil smile.

"You're right." She made a gesture in the air with one of her amulets. "You can't control yourself. You let the music move you."

"Yeah, baby! I just do what the music tells me. My body handles the rest."

She's as good as mine... He thought, as he flopped on the floor like a fish.

But the time he had regained his feet, she was gone. He shrugged and finished his HammerDown. Plenty of other fish in the sea.

Then things got weird.

He awoke the next morning sitting at his computer with one shoe off and the smell of garlic on his fingers. There was a looping animated picture of a dog stealing a sled from a child and riding off on it. His mouse was nowhere to be found. It felt like a nettle-bird had laid an egg in his head. Lox stumbled into the room.

"Man, you were amazing last night!"

"Oh yeah?"

"You don't remember? You closed out the bar! Everyone loved your dancing, didn't stop for one song."

The nibbling ache in every one of his joints backed up the story. Lox turned on his stereo as he did every morning and went into the bathroom to shower. A fast, dirty dance song was playing.

Troy mumbled as he wandered into the kitchen.

"I need some..."

He thought about it a moment as he stood before the pantry.


The stereo was extra loud. The music pulsed around Troy as he untwisted the festive bag of white bread.

"Booty-booty-booty-booty-booty-booty-BOUNCE!" The song blasted.

Troy was having trouble fitting the flimsy slices into the toaster. At first he thought it was because he was still drunk from the night before, but soon he realized it was because his ass was shaking, up and down, of its own accord. He discarded the bread and doubled over, putting his hands on his knees for support. He was almost at the point of bewildered tears five minutes later when Bierce walked in.

"Hey man, wait... what are you doing?"

"I can't stop!" His voice wavered in time with the bouncing of his booty.

"Seriously, bro, it was cool last night, but you're freaking me out now."


It clicked in Bierce's addled head that his friend may have been having some sort of erotic seizure, and decided to get the poor nerd on his back and make sure he didn't bite his tongue off.

"Ok, here, bro, I'll help." He came at Troy from behind and grabbed him by the shoulders. He tried to flip Troy to the ground, but the dancing man continued to bounce, butt first, back into Bierce's groin.

"Eugh! Dude! No!" Bierce exclaimed with each unwelcome thrust. Troy could only muster soft choking sobs as Bierce hooked a leg around him and pushed him to the floor. Bierce used his size advantage to roll Troy onto his back and straddle him. He pinned him down with his elbows.

"You've got to calm down! Open your mouth! You'll choke on your tongue!"

The next track on the mix cut in. For a moment there was only the sound of the bass line and the labored breathing of the two men. Troy's butt was stationary.

"Phew, alright." Bierce said, "Looks like it's over-"

Then the full song began in earnest, screeching synths fought for control of the tweeters as a robotic voice began to drone.

"Push it-Push it-Push it-Baby-"

Instantly, Troy's hips began to thrust upwards, causing Bierce to bounce along to the beat.

"Eurgh! I'll save you!" He began squeezing at Troy's jaw, trying to pry it open.

Lox walked in from the bathroom holding a towel around his waist. He started when he saw the commotion on the floor.

"Give it to me!" Screamed Bierce.

Lox fiddled with the towel about his waist.

"Hey, so..." He bit his lip. " what are you guys, ah, up to-" He looked hopefully at the struggle.

Troy snapped his mouth open. "Cut the music!" Before Bierce seized his tongue and held it, not knowing what to do next.

"Luahhgh!" Howled Troy.

Lox sprinted into the living room and flipped the stereo off. Troy's hips stopped pumping and shortly thereafter Bierce released his tongue. They both lay on the kitchen floor, panting.

Lox returned. "Guys, that was awesome."

"No it wathent!" Troy's swollen tongue slurred.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Gasped Bierce.

"Ith thumpthing to do with the muthic. I can't thtop mythelf. I jutht do what the muthic tellth me..."

He began to recall the night previous. The spilled drink. The beautiful, though oddly dressed woman. The day's events clicked together and he jumped to his feet, finger pointing in the air.

"She wath a gypthy! She curthed me!"

"What?" The roommates said in unison.

"A gypthy." Troy made mystical gestures in the air between them until they nodded in understanding.

"This is crazy." Lox selected a track on the mp3 player connected to the stereo.

"So you mean if I do this..." He pressed play.

"Give it to me-huh-huh- Give it to me now!"

Troy was bouncing to the beat, rhythmically throwing the contents of his pockets at the roommates. Soon his shirt was off and draped over Lox's stunned head. Bierce mashed stop before Troy could remove his belt. Lox took the removed the shirt, smiling.


"Guyth! Thith ithn't funny. You can't lithen to muthic around me any more. Not until I figure out how to counter thith curth."

"No way, bro. Music is my life." Said Lox, arms crossed.

"He's right. You're the one with the curse. Why should we suffer?"

"Well, I can't afford to move out, and I'm the only name on the leath..."

They were silent for a time, thinking about their problem. Lox left to put on some pants and came back with his laptop.

"I got it!"

The apartment had nearly returned to normal. Lox produced a playlist of dance music for Troy to listen to on noise-canceling headphones. Each song was dubbed with positive messages such as;

"Don't do nothin' creepy, Troy!"

"Focus on your work, work, focus on your work!"

There were so many cures for gypsy curses, he knew it would be a long time, years even, before he found one that worked. That night he had gotten three easy ones out of the way that didn't involve too much blood letting. He was about to delve into one requiring an herb called 'Bladderbane' when the track changed on the new CD Lox had made for him.

"Hey-Troy-Take off your shirt! Hey-Troy-Take off your shirt!"

His hands pumped, peeling at his Reptoids t-shirt.

"Lox!" He screamed.

"Yes?" Lox floated out of his room wearing nothing but a bathrobe and two snifters of brandy.

Moral: You can help yourself to anything in the fridge, but keep your damn hands off of my stereo.

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