Nicholas Skoda lives in east Tennessee. He is a writer of short fiction and his day job is with a weekly newspaper. He actually kind of likes it, too. He finds solace in the strange and cultivates the off-kilter in his work.
It would only take about 20 minutes for the jungle to strangle and kill someone like me. I’ll be the first to admit it. Maybe not even 20 minutes. I could break the world record for fastest anyone has ever been killed by a jungle. Not even an animal of the jungle, just the jungle itself. An animal would probably liven up the process though.
The vines would tangle around my arms and legs and the air would condense to a point of unbreathability and I would melt into a sloppy mess on the jungle floor. My eyes would still work so I could see it all happening. I would seriously hate to lose my vision. I’d be moss food. I love moss; the scent and the feel of it. Sometimes I lay my head on moss even if I’m not tired. So it would be appropriate for me to become moss food. When I was a kid I was a boy scout. We learned how to use moss to survive. I don’t remember how now, though.
Who would miss me? I’ll tell you who. My constituants is who. That’s just what I call them. My fans, my diehards, my readership. I am a writer. A journalist. A reporter. People rely on me, see. People rely on my words, they rely on my mind and my ideas. So i can’t go off dying in some jungle.
I’m a writer, did I say that. I write for a newspaper, The Daily Post-Athenian, in Athens, Tennessee. Honestly, it’s one of the best newspapers you can get your hands on. My opinion column is really something else. But that’s just my opinion.
Sure, it is a small town. Not many people, backwards societal views and all, but man, some peculiar shit happens.
Like this one time, I did a story on this old Native American fellow that was importing peyote buttons and selling them to high school kids. It was really good stuff, from what I heard.
Another time, I covered a grave robbery, while it was occuring. The grave robbers were super cool about being interviewed and everything. As far as I know they are still at large.
Anyways, There is this family here in Athens: the Mulgrews. They’re a weird bunch, but brilliant. At least people say they are. Papa Mulgrew, that’s his real name, was a scientist. Only Mulgrew left is Old Spencie Mulgrew, again, his real name. He’s got to be a thousand years old by now. Old Spencie lives on top of a giant cliff and pisses off it about every night. I don’t even think he’s waxed when he does it.
Old Spencie followed in his father’s footsteps and became a scientist, a damn good one to boot. He studied all things living. Plants, animals, people, maybe even fish. He’s gone and retired now though. I guess he doesn’t feel like researching any of those things anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever retire. Don’t make enough money to. And also I couldn’t do that to my constituents.
Well, if you follow the news, you’ve probably heard about the Amazon Jungle. It’s in South America. Not like southern America, because that’s where I am but South America, the continent. Honestly, I love the Amazon Jungle. Without it, my stories wouldn’t have anything to be printed on. Apparently it’s in a lot of trouble, though. Not only are all the trees being cut down to make newspapers, but the people are losing their minds and eating each other. It’s goddam far out, if I do say so myself. I can’t imagine eating someone but sometimes I can kind of imagine being eaten.
Apparently there is something in the water of the Amazon River, which is a river in the Amazon, that is causing the villagers to go all berzerk. A microorganism? I think that’s what the reporter on channel 6 said. I wonder if he writes his own stories? Probably not. What a damn sorry excuse for a guy. This world is going to hell in a handbag.
So there is this Amazonian Microbe that is making people eat each other and the U.S. Government has gone and gotten themselves involved. It makes sense though. I mean if that Microbe travels up the Amazon into the ocean then into the Gulf of Mexico then into the Mississippi River, we are all up shits creek. You’ll see Mother Teresa munching down on Sammy Hairston. He’s a baseball player. Only baseball card I ever owned. He died on Halloween. Probably wasn’t eaten to death by a nun but I guess I can’t rule that out either. I may have something there, what a headline that would make. I’ll run it by my editor. He likes stuff like that, says it sells.
Back to the point though, the U.S. has gotten all mixed up in this ordeal and when that happens, the U.S. brings in the big guns, the specialists. Not many scientists specialize in Cannibalistic Microbes in the Amazon, I wouldn’t think. But take a guess at who does. Old Spencie Mulgrew, the bastard. In classic Mulgrew fashion, he is the only son of a bitch alive the government could find that had any potential familiarity with the Microbe. How’d he even come to specialize in that anyways? Well, I guess it is my job to find out.
I called Old Spencie up on my office phone. I’ve got a really nice office. Two desks, one wood, one metal, so I can choose which I feel like using on the day. No window though. Not much to see outside, anyways.
“Old Spencie, how’d ya do sir. Its Broussard at the Athenian. Seriously How’ve you been? Remember I did that story on your ferret a few months back?”
“Eh? What the hell are you talkin’ about, ferret? I’ve never had a damn ferret in my life.”
I’m almost certain I’d done a story on Old Spencie’s ferret.
“Anyway, Old Spencie pal, I heard the Government has got you comin’ out of retirement for one last shindig? What do ya say? Up for an interview?
“Eh? Bring some beer. We can share but I drink real fast. Say 3 o'clock.”
“Ah, Old Spencie I’m not much of a drinker, but what the hell, I’ll be there at 3 with some beers.”
“Eh?” With that, Old Spencie hung up.
“What the hell is this crap?”
“Well, Old Spencie, that’s beer.”
Old Spencie threw back three cans while I nursed one. I feel like I conduct interviews better when I’m sober. Not that I’ve ever conducted one drunk, but sometimes you just get those feelings like you just know. Maybe I’d conduct interviews better when drunk. I figured I owed it to myself to find out. What if I had been holding myself back by never drinking before interviews. I started sloshing em’ back and before I knew it was at the gas station picking up more. How the hell I got there is beyond me but I had a four-legged walker from Old Spencie’s house so I had my theories. Man I was waxed.
“So, Mr. Spencie. You ever eat anyone?” It was something I had to know if we were going to go forward with the interview.
“Please, call me Old. And no, I don’t believe I have. Seen someone eat somebody though. Down there in the Amazon. Yeah, they cooked him up medium rare and with scallions.”
“Were you down there studyin’ this Microbe?”
“Sure” Old said.
“What can you tell me about the Cannibal Microbe?” The alcohol seemed to be working.
“Well, honestly, not that much. That’s why they want me to go down there. To learn more about it.”
“Have you ever had your heart broken?” The alcohol was definitely working.
“Listen, you seem like a smart kid.” I wondered what he meant by seem like.
“As you can probably tell, I don’t function like I used to, physically speaking. Mentally, I’m fine. But I am going to need someone to help me with my research in the Jungle. Now, I know your editor and I think I could talk him into letting you come, not only to help me lug around my equipment but to cover it. Write a story about my journey. Our Journey.”
I agreed because that would be the biggest story of the year, and I didn’t really have anything else going on. It may make national headlines. I could become a syndicated columnist. Then I threw up on his rug.
I woke up to the brightest light I’d ever seen. I wondered if maybe the Earth had moved closer to the sun or something, but I couldn’t think too hard because it was hard. I got into the office late but nobody seemed to notice. The metal desk was the colder of the two so it was the one I used.
“So you want to follow Old Spencie down to the Jungle do ya?” said George Swaller, my editor. Never had I met anyone else with a name like that. I hated the way it sounded so I just called him George, or editor. “Not much in the budget for transcontinental travel and living expenses, these days.” Editor was studying me with a look that would have made Elvis proud. “But it’s your lucky day, kid. Old Spencie is covering the whole cost. Just bring me back a story. A good story. Nothing about pygmies though. The Sentinel ran a story about them last month. We don’t want to look like a bunch of rookies do we?” Was that a trick question?
“Got it, no pygmies.” I said. I was going to be in real trouble if it was the pygmies that were eating each other.
That day went by pretty slow. I wrote a few stories on the events of a City Council meeting from two nights before. Really boring stuff. Some lady wanting to save a water tower. A water tower for God’s sake. Claimed it was a ‘historic landmark and benchmark of the cities identity.’Fair enough. Whatever. She was a decrepit little thing but she had this monster of a man accompany her to the podium. I guess to assert dominance. It was probably her boyfriend.
I got a call from Old Spencie around noon to ask if I remembered agreeing to accompany him on his Amazonian retreat. I didn’t remember a damn thing.
“Yeah Old Spencie, I’ve never remembered anything so vividly in my life. Every word of it, stored right up here.” I was tapping the phone receiver against my head to indicate where I had it all stored.
The plan was to leave from Old Spencie’s house at 9 p.m. that night. We were flying out of Nashville. After work, I packed a few bags, fed my cat, Gary, and pedaled my Huffy up the mountain to Old Spencie’s. He greeted me with a tomato to the head. He was waxed.
There were dozens of small bags laying all around the property. They looked like camera bags. I owned a very nice camera. A Nikon. My pictures got in the paper most every week. It feels really good when not only you have a story in the paper but a picture too. To be honest, I couldn’t wait to take pictures of the Amazon. But not of the pygmies. According to Old Spencie, I probably wouldn’t end up being able to get a good shot of the Cannibal Microbe due to its small size. I’ll snap the photo either way. It’ll just look like I’m really far away from it.
The bags didn’t contain cameras. They contained various gadgets and gizmos. Some of them contained rabbit or deer scram. One contained a verocerepteratorer. I’d never heard of one but Old Spencie clarified what it was. It has a secret purpose though so he couldn’t get too specific. We packed all the bags into his vintage Chevy “Tail Blazer.” He had the original emblem replaced. I offered to drive, seeing as he seemed pretty out of it. I mean who just throws a tomato at someones head. Someone who is out of it is who. I could have driven my Huffy right off his cliff. He probably would have pissed on me while I was falling.
He ended up driving. He had to have killed at least three birds, probably more. It was like they were attracted to his car. Bird after bird, they’d just swoop down out of nowhere and play chicken with us. I wonder if they’d take offense to that chicken comment?
We made it to the airport pretty much safely. I’d never been to an airport so it was pretty cool. My favorite part was the luggage check, where they weigh your bags. Crazy stuff. I got a cup of coffee with six creams and six sugars. Old spencie disappeared into the Tennessee Tavern. Whatever. I let him go. We were pretty early. Our flight wasn’t supposed to leave for another 20 minutes.
I got on the plane and pushed my way through all the fatsos to get to my seat. Fatsos are always in my way. I heard a ruckus coming from the front of the plane. Old Spencie was trying to get a bottle of whisky on to the plane and the ladies at the door didn’t like it.
“Come on, I’ll share with ya. We’ll have a good old time.” he said. One of them chuckled, but only a little bit so he wouldn’t get the wrong idea.
“We should have taken off half and hour ago, dammit!” It was the captain. He took the bottle from Old Spencie’s hand and launched it halfway across Nashville. My god, if Old Spencie didn’t just about cry. I had to console him until the sweet ladies came by with drink carts.
“There is something so satisfying about sadness.” Old Spencie told me. “But I never can put my finger on exactly what it is because I just have another drink.” I felt like maybe that was a strange way to live, but I mean, Old Spencie Mulgrew was a damn scientist, so, it must have been a good way.
“One for me as well, please.” I said.
“No.” said the lady in blue. The nerve of this woman. I had even said please for God’s sake.
“Why the hell not?” I asked.
“I’m only kidding, honey. What would you like”
I hate when people I don’t know try to joke with me. How am I supposed to understand it’s a joke if I don’t even know them.
“No.” I said.
“What?” Now she seemed confused.
“Oh, I’m only joking with you, darling.” I laughed.
“Hmm. Mhm. Ok then.” I could tell she was trying so hard not to laugh.
“A light beer please.”
“Eh?” said Old Spencie.
“I wasn’t talking to you.”
Old Spencie made the lady a little uncomfortable so I let her know it was ok to go on to the next passenger. No tip though, she wasn’t that great and her joke was awful.
Sometimes, I questioned whether Old Spencie was cut out for this mission, but then he would hit me with facts about jellyfish mating seasons or male pattern baldness in goats which totally set me straight. The man really was a genius.
The flight lasted about fourteen hours. I watched maybe twenty episodes of this show called “Best Not To Ask.”
A government agent met us at the airport terminal. He was a weird son of a gun. Dirken Prompenah was his name. I’m sure it was a fake one, specially assigned to him for this mission. I gave us fake names as well.
“I am Azon, and this is Mike Robe. Pleased to meet you Dirken pal.” I gave him a wink so he knew we were cool.
“I’m glad you made it down here safely, Mr. Mulgrew.” he said. I immediately panicked. Our cover had already been blown.
“I wasn’t aware you’d have company.”
Neither of us could tell if Old Spencie was even awake behind his sunshades.
“Eh?” Finally he broke the silence. “Ah, yes. This is my research assistant, Broussard. He is going to help me lug around my gear and write a story about it.”
“Write a story about carrying your equipment? Sounds like an exciting read.” said Dirken. “And then I handed the magnifying glass to Professor Mulgrew. But it wasn’t the magnifying glass he’d asked for.’ Riveting stuff.”
“No, dammit. Write a story about my, our findings. And also carry all my stuff.”
With that, Dirken led us to a blacked out Lincoln town car that drove us to a mountain man in a jeep, that drove us to a jungle man in a Bronco.
“Gas mileage, am I right?” I said from the backseat to the Jungle man driving the Bronco. I don’t think he spoke English.
We rode for hours, along densely overgrown Jungle roads. Snakes were jumping from tree to tree and jungle cats were everywhere. I saw a crocodile chewing on a monkey. I had never seen so much green in my life. And everything was damp too. Wet and green. Everything was as vivid as it could be. The light reflected off the water that soaked everything’s surface, making everything seem like it was glowing. I was taking pictures of everything I could see, except for pygmies. And they were everywhere.
“Here we are.” said the Jungle man driver. I guess he hadn’t heard my joke. He showed us the trailhead and left us. Just like that, it was only Old Spencie and I, and a few pygmies. They didn’t seem to be eating each other. I sighed with relief: story was still alive.
I had three backpacks on. Two on my back and one on my chest. Is it always a backpack even if it’s on your chest? I guess I had two backpacks and one chestpack. Two of them contained all the random equipment necessary to complete the job. One backpack, it was actually the chestpack, was locked. I had no idea what was inside it. I figured it was the verocerepteratorer, which I figured was the device we were going to use to kill the Cannibal Microbe in our final confrontation with it. This was panning out to be Hollywood type stuff. God, what a story I’d have.
On we hiked, through the underbrush and sometimes, the overbrush. The bush and thicket. I would name a newspaper The Bush and Thicket. Or maybe a clothing line. I’m usually not good at naming things, but that one just works on so many levels. Mostly ground level.
We were looking for the source, where the Cannibal Microbe originated. Old Spencie figured he knew where that was. He said there was this natural pool type thing where three different rivers met that was notorious for having nasty things like dead animals in it. He said that was likely where the bacteria mutated and infected its first victim. Whatever. I’m just carrying his shit.
After hiking for a while, we finally stumbled across the Amazon River. We took a few samples and set up camp. I was in charge of building the fire. I’d never built a fire before. Is a fire something you build? I collected as much dry-ish wood and leaves as I could find and threw them all in the pit it put together. I lit it and it burned wonderfully, for about 15 seconds.
“Old Spencie, what’s in that chestpack?”
“That doesn’t concern you. Its for later.”
I figured maybe he could teach me how to use the verocerepteratorer, but he clearly wasn’t in the mood. He was looking at little pieces of glass through a microscope.
Lugging Old Spencies equipment around wasn’t that tough for me, or not as tough as I thought it might be. Maybe he packs light or maybe I’m really strong. I do have excellent endurance. In high school, I ran a 5 minute mile in gym class. No one knew why.
I managed to get a pretty impressive fire going and that night we ate piranha over a bed of Macaw eggs. I wasn’t crazy about it. I’m not a big fish guy. I wondered if we couldn’t find a cow somewhere and use the verocerepteratorer on it.
We awoke the next morning to the sound of animals dying and animals being born. I guess the jungle is as hard on its tenants as it is on its visitors. I was drenched in a mixture of sweat, morning dew and other various unidentifiable yellowy green liquids. I smelled really good. We mustered up a quick breakfast of roasted dung beetle and we were on our way up river.
“What are we going to do if we find this thing?”
“We take it back, stateside, and run tests on it and create a medicine that combats it. Once we have it back in the U.S. it’s easy. Isolating it in the wild will be the most difficult part. The only evidence I have to go on is one sample from one singular case. It could have already mutated by now for all we know.”
Old Spencie seemed more tuned in than he usually did. Sure he was old as hell and retired, but he could really get that brain of his cookin sometimes.
“Why’d you retire?” I asked him. He ignored me so I asked again. Still he ignored me. I’m not as good at prying as I once was. The jungle was really getting to me.
After a while, we took a break on the river bank. A gang of crocodiles laughed about something on the opposite side. I took out my notepad and pen and thought I’d get started on my story. The hardest part is getting started. I put pen to paper but nothing materialized. The jungle canopy must have been blocking my brain power.
“Look at that!” said Old Spencie. A crocodile was eating one of his compadres across the river from us. “Hurry, we need to kill it and collect a blood sample and its brain.”
I wasn’t overly enthused about having the job of killing the bastard but I couldn’t let Old Spencie try. He was ancient and delicate. I took the bowie knife and waded across to where the action was. A crocodile being eaten by another crocodile is so much more disgusting from up close. I jumped on the infected crocs back, for some reason, and it threw me off like I was an umbrella in a hurricane. Next thing I knew the croc was on top of me, biting at my face. It’s arms were so strange feeling. I feel like that is what my cat Gary’s arms would feel like if shaven. Gary is a real son of a bitch.
The bastard had terrible aim and I was just as safe as can be, other than possibly being crushed. I’m pretty thick, though, so that wasn’t too much of an issue. I freed my knife bearing hand and jabbed the croc through the bottom of the head. That made him so damn mad. I thought I had hit his brain but I must’ve been way off. He got off me and we squared up. I kicked him in the snout. Then again. That didn’t seem to have any effect. I’m not the best kicker. He grabbed my leg in his mouth and swung me like a baseball bat. “A swing and a miss.” I heard Old Spencie laughing.
Enough was enough. I love animals. I love nature. I want them to succeed and be alive all the time. Zoos are immoral and donate to nature preserves. Veterinarians do the lord's work but in that moment, I was to that croc what Enola Gay was to a salaryman. My Little Boy was the bowie knife.
“Goddam boy.” Old Spencie was still laughing. “You are one cold-hearted, bad mother fucker.”
“I could have been killed, you know. Then what? You’d probably be dead too. Who would carry your shit for you? Huh. You sure as hell can’t carry it you old son of a bitch.” I was so angry for some reason. I didn’t usually get so angry. Old Spencie came and collected a blood sample and cut the poor bastards brain out while I cooled off. I could never be a doctor. That kind of thing makes me cringe. I guess I couldn’t be a scientist, either. Or a gator wrangler.
We kept moving with the river. I felt much different than I had a few days before. “The Jungle’ll do that to ya.” said Old Spencie. He kept looking at me with a really menacing looking smile.
I can’t explain in what way I felt different, it was unexplainable. I felt like that yellowy green liquid I had woken up to had seeped through my skin and turned me into a Jungle blood. I felt like I should have twigs for toes and moss for hair. Maybe that was the moss survival technique: substitute the moss for your natural hair? It wasn’t a bad thing, it was just so different.
“So, we have our sample don’t we? We can leave now.” I said.
“We have a possible sample. We need more than one, just in case.” Old Spencie said.
Again I tried to start the story: What do you call a crocodile eating another croc… No. The Amazon River. Home to billions, probably trillions of Microorganisms. But how many of those make you want to eat someone? According to Scientist Old Spencie Mulgrew, a lot. Getting there.
Four days had passed since the Jungle man had dropped us off and left us. I was beginning to sort of lose it. On multiple occasions, Old Spencie had curled up in a ball and pretended to die. I wouldn’t let him though. I picked his ancient and delicate ass up by the collar of his striped polo and put him on his feet so we could keep moving.
That night we fell asleep without dinner. Sure I was hungry but I had a job to do. Carry equipment. I decided that I would focus on taking as many notes as I could down in the jungle then write the story when we got back to the States. Old Spencie had been progressively acting weirder and weirder. I saw him licking the bark of a tree. He tried to make love to a toad. It was when I woke up in the middle of the night to him hovering over me that I kind of felt like he was really losing it.
“Howdy there, Old Spencie. Can I help you?” I could only see the outline of him because it was so dark and the only light was from the moon shining through the tent. He didn’t say anything but grunted a little. I also think he drooled on me, but that could have been the yellow green jungle goo or a monkey pissing on the tent.
Old Spencie grabbed my arm and took a big bite out of it. Blood was everywhere. He was lunging for another bite but I wasn’t really happy about the first one so I figured I’d better get the hell out of his way. He fell face first on my pillow and got blood all over it. “Great, you ruined my tempurpedic” I thought. Third one this year I’d gone through.
I ripped open the front flap on the tent and scoured the campsite for something to cover up my wound with. Pygmies were beginning to crawl out of holes in the ground and swinging down from vines. I had just finished wrapping my wound with a Old Spencie’s striped polo when he tackled me to the ground and began biting at my neck. The Pygmies were cheering him on. Or cheering me on. I think they just wanted a good fight.
I hurled him off of me and grabbed the first stick I could find which turned out to be a human leg. I have no idea from what human it was removed. I guess Old Spencie had been out hunting all night. And we couldn’t have even looked for a cow?
I picked it up and there was an anklet around the stiff, cold ankle. It was stitched with the word “Promepenah,” with a heart on either side. Not valentine, cartoon hearts either. Anatomically correct hearts, down to the last valve. I was more concerned about why Dirken Prompenah wore an anklet with his last name and two hearts stitched in it than I was about how Dirken Prompenah’s leg wound up seperate from his body in the middle of our campsite in the Amazon Jungle.
I battered Old Spencie with the leg, which he quickly began chewing on. I gotta give it to Old Spencie, in the face of adversity, he does not give up, even when he’s on his last leg.
Again I had to search for something to protect myself with. Then it hit me. The leg that is. Old Spencie hit me with the leg. Then it came to me. I remembered the only weapon we had lugged down there with us: the verocerepteratorer. Finding the chestpack was easy, opening it was not. There was a padlock securing the zipper shut that was 2 inches thick.
Old Spencie threw a flying kick at me and in protection of myself I lifted the chestpack up in front of me. Old Spencie kicked right through the padlock. Didn’t even break a toe. Amazing. I pulled the verocerepteratorer out and fired it up. It made a noise like a weird synthesizer might make from a Spacemen 3 song. I only know Spacemen 3 because my old neighbor Paul Gascoigne used to do cocaine and blast their music through this giant speaker he borrowed from me and wouldn’t return.
I fired it and my god the beam of light was almost blinding. The sudden burst of light really illuminated the campsite, showing just how many creatures were in attendance. I missed by a foot and incinerated a pygmy. That really shut em up. It had to reload. How do you reload a death ray? What a shitty weapon. Might as well have been a severed human leg.
It took too long and Old Spencie knocked the verocerepteratorer out of my hand with Prompenah’s leg. I was fucked. This was the end. My story would never make it to the front page. I would never write about celebrity sex scandals for The Guardian or write articles about UFO sightings for New York Post. All that hard work for nothing. I have to say, I really didn’t want to die like this. Clubbed nearly to death with an FBI agents severed leg then eaten by a Mulgrew. A Mulgrew of all the people that could eat me. Out of nowhere, a familiar blinding light whizzed by my shoulder and reduced Old Spencie to rubble. I turned to see a pygmy with one eye and a cigar in his mouth holding the verocerepteratorer. “Munch on that, asshole.” he said. I cringed.
Apparently the pygmy I had accidentally turned into dust was a real son of a bitch that none of the other pygmies liked. He’d been sleeping with everyone’s livestock, if my translation serves me correct. So that ended up working out. We ate some mushrooms and danced around a fire for the rest of the night. Old Spencie had ruined my sleeping bag so I found an anaconda skin to keep me warm through the night. I woke up the next morning with a new appreciation for my life, and covered in the secretion of the jungle.
I guess the bask of crocs was thankful that I’d stopped their cannibalistic compatriot as well, and allowed me to float on their backs all the way up the river to where the jungle man escorted me to the mountain man who escorted me to the blacked out Lincoln that took me to the airport. Reacclimating to normal life was going to be hard. I thought about buying a monkey to piss on me and a snake to curl around my throat to make the transition easier.
I wrote the story and, my god, it was fantastic. More details than there actually were in real life. That’s how you write a good story for the paper, by finding more details than there actually were. And I wrote a little piece on the pygmies, too. I promised Escobar I would. He had saved my life after all. I owed him the eternal glory of being the subject of one of my stories. And Editor even accepted that story. Said he hadn’t read a better pygmy story in all his life.Then I took a bite out of his neck. Blood was everywhere. My publisher said he’d never seen so much blood in all his life. Maybe that’s always been my problem. I always have to be the best at whatever I do. Like right now. I can’t help but want to eat more people and spill more blood than anyone has ever done before me. Sometimes I tell myself, “No, it’s ok to just be good.” But today is not the day to just be good. Today is the day to be god damn great.