Posted on September 11, 2010
Stoking the Flame
I told you I was destined to become one of the great thinkers of our time. I said it came to me in a dream, but not one of those abstract, watery dreams; rather one of those hi-def, technicolor types.
You claimed to believe me and you nodded your head vigorously as if this motion were proof of your conviction. I wanted to believe you understood. I wanted to believe your words and gesticulation, but looking into your vacant eyes, I knew better.
We were high and naked and you’d gotten off as you do and I’d faked it per usual, and so I knew you were lying. It was just obvious.
Posted on July 17, 2010
This Noose was Designed to Break on ImpAct.
It’s half past dawn and already blazing hot when the treacherous villain called Creature and his villainous sidekick named Harlot scale the fence and drop headlong into the town square. It is Sunday.
“This is a slippery kind of place,” she says.
“That explains the warm welcome,” he replies.
He isn’t being sarcastic either. There is a disarming sense of surrealism here.
She feels it too.
Primitive, smiling types everywhere…
Robust work-a-day men, proud of their sweat and bathing in their stench drink liquor from flasks and wipe their foreheads with rancid bandannas.
They are fatuous creatures, the kind who shout even when speaking softly. They rub their swollen guts and gnaw on their stubby fingers and when they belch, it smells like vomit.
Diminutive women bustle to and fro with gaggles of children nipping at their heels. They regurgitate damaged ideologies with irrepressible pride and the children mimic their words by rote with no discernible emotion and then they violently scramble to fetch the birdseed and moldy breadcrumbs tossed at them as a reward for learning their lessons well.
The townspeople are possessed by the demands of the moment. It is all they know. There are no memories here, which works out well for rogue interlopers trying to quietly assimilate and remain under the radar. In this place there are no cynical suspicions.
Here, everyone’s been here all along.
And so, with none of the usual tense curiosities regarding their past to account for, the chiseled Creature with filthy hands and the Harlot made of fiery dust, pause for a breath. Warily, at first…
“We should call this home for a time,” he states, as though it were a suggestion.
As if I had an option, she thinks, knowing full well that she hasn’t.
“Sounds swell,” she says, in way that suggests that it isn’t.
“You have a bad attitude,” he snarls while simultaneously swatting at an errant ash, which is drafting downward, threatening her ruddy cheek.
She instinctively ducks which infuriates him, and so he clasps four dirty fingers and one disjointed thumb around her neck and twists her head toward the fallout so that she will understand that he was being heroic. That he was trying to save her.
She is unimpressed by his attempt, and also slightly reactive and she responds to his brutality with a sucker punch straight to his beautiful face “Don’t be a jerk,” she snaps in conclusion, as a verbal punctuation of sorts…
And when she pauses for a long moment, considering what’s next, he becomes enraptured by her irrational fury and by the heaving of her chest.
Then she is ready, and she continues:
“I remember a time when people like us didn’t mix. You might do well to remember that yourself once in awhile.”
She says this in tones laced equally with ire and syrupy sweetness and he suddenly feels the stirrings of an erection. His insides writhe beneath his flesh and he imagines the tiny, trampy cat-girl pouncing upon him, knocking him over and then passionately licking his sweat and his fever.
His excitement turns to heated arousal and so he turns and slaps her, boorishly and hard.
His calloused fingers coil and release and then violently impact her face.
A series of red, pock-like blisters appear almost immediately, marring her otherwise angelic countenance, causing it to swell and distend awkwardly and her wounds erupt in a curious pattern; one that is oddly reminiscent of The Big Dipper.
“This could go on for days,” she says in a manner that reveals nothing.
She makes a show of stifling a yawn before languidly sinking to the ground where she begins digging a hole in the sand with her fingers.
“I got nothing but time” he says sinking alongside her and starting in on his own hole.
They sigh in unison. In reckoning. He thinks her a spooky little scout and she regards him as a dastardly crook and a charlatan. They are a match made in hell, these two; digging holes in quick sand, bound together by hatred and necessity and psychotic twisted admiration.
The air is heavy with water and soot and shame and she considers the ocean and the trees. She considers this in spite of her mightiest efforts not to.
She longs for a moment so far gone that it feels dream-like in nature.
Creature recognizes her absent gaze.
“Remember all those days…” he says carefully as the sand sifts dramatically through his fingers, “…those days when all we did was sit and wait for death?”
She smiles at nothing and then turns toward him. Her eyes pierce his neck and she indulges a throaty laugh. And then: “No. I remember living.”
This is her reply and with her words still hanging low in the air she averts her gaze so she will not have to look at him.
She continues, more softly now: “I want to go back.”
He shakes his head in mock empathy. “That’ll end,” he says, “You’ll learn to forget.”
“Not without a fight,” she replies, but already her constitution has weakened and her delivery lacks its trademark vigour.
She sinks further into the mire of life and love and truth unrequited and begins to contemplate the ironic freedom of acceptance.
While she knows he is right, she prays he is not. This vague longing for a time not so far gone is all she has to remind her of who she’d been before the beast she is now; back before some vile, decrepit animal infiltrated her blood and being, effectively exorcising her humanity and forcing her to exist in this glitchy, scattered and heinously morbid, alterna-world.
The thick night air is decomposing quickly, giving way to stale mustiness. The townspeople are tucked safely away in cottages made of ash and stone, and the darkness provides suitable disguise for the two specters silently digging graves with mud-caked faces. They contemplate memories that they are not supposed to think of because the memories make them human and they are anything but. Now they are the past. They exist as voids in space, bereft of hopes and dreams and hindered by the remoteness of the lives they’d lived and the ones they’ve stolen. They are goblins feeding in the shadows, slogging and toiling and scouring the ground in obscurity. Though they disregard daybreak, it always comes and is always the same: steaming, toneless, aggravated. They kiss the sun as they sweat in their sins. They woozily cluck and hiss while sitting against the rock wall, chained inexorably to the other vagabonds and exceptionally unacceptable types. They are the stars of an exclusive reunion, conceived of and played out in hell.
“I don’t belong here,” Harlot cries suddenly, without warning. She is panicked and thrashing.
“But you do,” Creature replies evenly. “You do belong here. That’s why they welcomed you. They only welcome what they know.”
He pauses. And then:
“And if you aren’t actually what you seem to be, I must say that you fake it alarmingly well.”
“I am…haltingly honest,” she says less convincingly than intended.
“If this is about him…we could always keep him safe, you know…”
He attempts to sound casual but his efforts are futile, for she is hip to his game.
“How long has it been since you actually believed that?” (Scorn.)
“You will leave him alone.” Her words are a command and her tone pricks him; it is suddenly deep, guttural and unfamiliar; rooted in evil.
In that moment, Creature feels a creeping sludge begin to well up from his insides. It heats his spleen and begins to bubble up through his windpipe and he feels the tightness of fatal asphyxiation descending.
He fears that his Harlot with her purple face and her blood orange revelations might never truly learn to be gracious and still in his picturesque underworld.
In his periphery, Creature spies a pale horse crawling toward a water trough in the distance, squawking in desperation. The trough is just a mirage, but Creature sees no reason to impart such heartbreaking knowledge upon the brute.
Soon enough, he thinks.
Calmer, he is now ready to re-approach the girl.
“Given enough time, all love fades,” he says, “And then it ends and then we move on. It’s inevitable. I just cut out the middleman. Saved you some trouble. Procrastination is the Devil’s playground, you know…”
He says this and must immediately quell his overwhelming instinct to laugh gaily at his endlessly clever wit.
“I know,” Harlot replies, “but the process is in place for a reason. It enables resolution. He needed to love me so that I could learn to not love him.”
“Come now…you would’ve quit anyway. While it isn’t a terribly unique exit strategy, you certainly perfected it.”
“I never quit! I just left. Leaving isn’t quitting. Leaving is leaving. Quitting is final…It’s…different.” She is sputtering now. (Chord. Struck.)
“Don’t be simple! It’s no different at all. It’s exactly the same. You were born to quit and you can gel the lens and turn it the color of roses, you can sheathe it in riddles and perplex the senseless masses but you can’t hide what you are from your kin because we smell your intention. And while circumstances provide reason and allow the unthinkable to be forgiven, your intention is your truth. And even you cannot hide from your truth. That is why you belong here and that’s why I helped you. I did for you what you couldn’t for yourself.”
“Well, thanks for that then. Next time you should just help me right over a cliff…”
“That can certainly be arranged.”
She ignores his offer. “Sometimes you just want to be important to someone. But you aren’t. And no matter how you try, you won’t be. And once you know that…once you really own it, it’s simpler to remove yourself altogether. It’s provocative. And when I couldn’t be important, I could always be provocative. I’d rather be hated and remembered than disregarded and forgotten…”
“Then you should thank me. You were a wound...an infected sore, with an incomplete story. But tragedy is trite. And now, because of me, you will exist as a mystery until the end of time. I gave you a legacy.”
The two continue punching and jabbing and quibbling and quarreling until suddenly, with no discernable impetus or reason, she kisses him. Her outburst reeks of a trenchant, deep and falsified passion. She runs her lips up his bloodless arm. She accosts his neck and licks his face before abruptly switching directions and making her way toward his despicable chest, which she slurps at for a spell. He stares straight ahead, determined to remain unmoved and unaffected by this hellion and her transparent manipulations. But finally he can stand it no longer and so he yanks her hair and begins to delicately maul her. This is the exact moment that she tires of the charade and wordlessly turns back to her hole, which, sadly, has refilled itself, almost to the top.
She angrily sets about digging it out all over again. (Poor thing.)
A China man appears from God knows where and dashes hurriedly past them. He carries three plastic bags bearing yellow smiley faces. He kicks up dust and rubble; leaving a waft of sweet and sour in his wake.
“I’m hungry,” Harlot whines.
“I could eat,” Creature replies, “got any cash?”
“Not a dime.”
He stands quickly and moves toward the Asian yelling and waving his arms, “Sir, excuse me sir…” The man stops as Creature approaches and with no further dialogue, the Creature reaches out and snaps the man’s neck. The Asian falls to ground and Creature removes the bags from his still-clenched fist as his ferocious little cohort claps from the sidelines.
“Never saw it coming…” he mutters proudly returning to her and pawing through the bags.
“Way to stay under the radar,” Harlot remarks.
Then they fall silent. They slurp their delicious lo mien. It is too late for words.
While Creature’s solution to funds run dry could appear callous and injudicious to the layman, it’s actually quite sensible when one considers the rules of survival singed into the collective psyche of thugs and dames and delinquents of their kind: They are taught not to make plans and never to become attached. Reality is in a constant state of flux and there is no time for comfort when everything is ephemeral. There is no space for belief. When existence itself is transient, there is no need for forethought.
There is only blind action. Hurl it quickly. There is no tomorrow.
And they are the result…
Like some less mystical, unsophisticated form of a maenad, they indulge without thought or concern for consequence. It is all they know.
Yes, Creature and Harlot and the other untouchables merely exist in this dustbowl. Even “survival,” with all of its mediocre connotations, is far too grand a term to properly depict the depths of hollow nothingness associated with their subsistence. There is no life left here. Not for them. They’ve sold their souls to savages and moths in exchange for nothing. Now they watch from afar as tiny children play Battleship and Jacks in alleyways; content and unaware of the hurricane force winds threatening their milieu.
Schoolgirls skip stones across riverbeds that have long since run dry; their hair ribbons, once tied prettily and shaped like bones, have been violently whipped and turned and unfurled and now lie limp, draped across their tiny ears. Yet still they remain blissful, traipsing gallantly through time; hurtling toward the infinite oblivion without care. All too soon they will grow into foolish, foul-mouthed adults whose only desire is to rule the world, qualifications be damned. Though flowering trees may perish in the frost, plants will bloom again in a year or so; human beings aren’t as resilient.
There are no resources here. The terrain is desolate and nearly untenable now. It bears a horrifying resemblance to the minds and hearts and souls of the discarded denizens who flock to it and pitch their tents in the night. There is no justice and they have no shame. They are all puss filled wounds; they are martyrs and pawns.
They are the powerless and the indecent.
They are disabled big rigs and derailed trains…built with purpose and strength, but suddenly sidelined and awaiting repair. The passengers are starving on the side of the road; munching on some stale CornNuts they were lucky enough to find in the glove box and between the seats just before the engine exploded and incinerated the framework. They are saddled with the tyranny of choice, the problem of promise…
They are terminally ill and gruesomely falling, expecting a net that will not appear.
Some weeks or minutes pass, and no-one knows which. The sun sets as it does and night dawns. It is neither unusual nor special.
There is an arrow and a bow and a pumpkin they think, but it could easily be an oversized gourd. There is a small tussle involving a ninja star hurled by the increasingly ornery Harlot in response to a shower of shrapnel set off by a Redheaded Minx who blatantly disregarded a large, neon sign bearing the words:
“Active Land Mines. KEEP OUT.”
The Minx is new in town, having just arrived as the sun fell from the sky. She admits she was overly exuberant and smidge cavalier (but she was “just so excited to be here!”) and she feels awful for the trouble she’s caused. But Harlot is in no mood for mercy.
This is somewhat reasonable however, considering that it is because of this Minx that she and Creature have a long night ahead of plucking thousands of shell casings from her legs and stomach.
Harlot has become increasingly important within their strange caste system (though she claims to care nothing for the power,) and she banishes the Redhead to the horrid and untamed Western-front, which is where the surliest of the filth-mongers and hate-mongers are sent to dwell. They fight and kill for sport. They are outlaws amongst the outlaws; forever engaged in pointless territorial crusades egged on by adrenaline and unrelenting bloodlust.
After most of the flotsam has been eliminated from Harlot, she and Creature sit in the sand sucking helium from balloons in the moonlight. They do some blow and then eat some pills that make them nauseous at first, but their brains quickly detach from their feeling and nerve centers and they float higher and higher still…far, far (far, far, far) above the Earth. Now they dance wildly and without inhibition, tearing their clothes from their flesh and replacing them with carcasses of the vermin they’d burned for fun that afternoon. They spin dizzily and fall to the ground gasping for air as the last balloon disappears into the rotting, red sky. Their thoughts tread the air and then sink back into the dune before finally smashing and scattering into indelicate, watery graves.
“We are a sad cliché,” Harlot says, finally.
Creature misses this however, as he is vomiting violently into a burning bush they’d set aflame hours earlier.
Finally, when there is nothing left inside of him, the Creature crawls to his Harlot, who is now lying in the sand scowling at the stars, and he lies next to her. He peels the remains of a muskrat from his left thigh and places it over her bony arm, for the night has turned frigid and they’d destroyed their tent during a mishap with a hand grenade earlier in the evening.
And so they stare at the sky, disappointed and bored and somehow ignorant of the swarming buzzards feasting delightedly on their cadaverous clothing. They wait without hope for something mystical to happen which might give them some ever-elusive reason to continue.
Posted on May 30, 2010
“Maybe they’ll call me tragic” he says hopefully. Wistfully.
He grins awkward and crooked for a moment and then his eyes glaze and he stares dreamily through me; his face fixed, bearing a mutant’s smirk.
“They won’t think of you at all,” I say before I can stop myself.
Immediately, I wish I could take my words back. I hate to be the bearer of such news and I know he won’t believe me yet anyway. He’ll need to do his time and come to this on his own.
The sage-like tones that accompany my assertions are hard-won and harder accepted. He’s still living the dream.
As for me, I think of death often. Mine. His. Other people’s.
I consider when and how and the affect of the thing on those we leave behind.
I contemplate the preventable and the unavoidable, the calamities and tragedies.
I examine the sociological synthesis between leading causes of death in a given year and the state of the economy and other socially driven forms of ease or dis-ease. I seek patterns and connections and tangible reason. I seek comprehension of that which is largely incomprehensible. I do this in spite of my best efforts not to…
It seems that the leading cause of thinking about death is trying not to think about death.
However, it is because of these unrelenting reflections that I truly grasp the verity of our utter inconsequence. And this can be oddly freeing…
I know that the best most of us can hope for is some shadow of influence. Perhaps some whittled down version of our tales will traverse time and space and meet the future thanks to a stranger’s rendering of them…maybe through music or paint.
Maybe someone will detail the events of this night in Japanese one day. Maybe they’ll depict our pain in a poem. A haiku, possibly. I imagine the carefully crafted, indiscernible characters floating across a page of recycled bamboo paper. I imagine this moment in a universal sense. I pray that someone will be more proactive about its documentation than I’ve been.
My reverie is interrupted as he abruptly stands and moves toward the window.
Instinctively I follow him; fearful that he has chosen now to try and prove me wrong about the masses and their posthumous recollections of his tragic nature.
Instead though, he pulls a cigarette from a pack that lives on the windowsill. It seems he is still opting for the deliberate, creeping route toward an inevitable end, which pacifies my immediate concern and I fall back to my perch on the arm of the couch.
He doesn’t notice my movements. He seems not to notice my presence at all, really.
The custom-made gauzy white curtains billow mightily toward the ceiling; a reaction to a strong and unexpected gust of wind. An ember from his cigarette gets caught in the melee and burns a hole through the delicate fabric before falling to the floor and smoldering until nothing remains.
I used to care so much for things like gauzy curtains and rogue ashes.
But now they barely register.
I am preoccupied by his shadowy image and the dreamy phantasmagoria playing out before me.
He sits on the ledge of a window with no screen; unwittingly becoming the living, breathing metaphor of his own mental state. He is transparent yet furiously sobbing and wracked with free-form shame. He exhales a gasp of carcinogen filled smoke and his gaunt face becomes marred and I imagine him old and sickly. He is barely recognizable, a man on the edge in every way…I fight the niggling thought that it was my actions that got him here.
I opt instead to focus on his zippy, hooded sweatshirt.
“Love Kills Slowly,” it reads in dramatic cursive stitching.
He’s been wearing this jacket everyday for more than a week, but on some level he’s known this truth since the day we met.
Acknowledgement is a necessary evil, I think.
He turns to me then, as though I’d just arrived, as if I were new to the scene; a neighbor popping in for a quick coffee or asking to borrow an egg or some other triviality…
“So how’ve you been?” he asks easily. “What have you been doing?”
I am surprised when I answer in tones as casual as his.
“Not much. Work. Life. Just feeling kind of…solitary” I say.
I am careful with my word choice. Solitary is fair, in spite of my near-constant state of accompaniment. ‘Alone,’ would’ve been a more exact truth, but assuredly he’d find cause to argue the adverb.
Best to stick with simple adjectives at this time of night.
A long beat envelops the space.
He stubs his cigarette out.
He lights another and inhales deeply before speaking.
“The key to happiness…to all good things, really,” he says, “is stupidity.”
I silently disagree. Stupidity and ignorance are wholly different, I mentally argue.
But I let it go. Close enough, I reason.
He’s drunk. I’m exhausted.
His eyes change suddenly; now emitting an intense flaming lucidity that is by turns radiant and evil. I try to look away but the searing beams of light latch into my corneas before I can even mount a defense.
A vein in my arm vehemently pulsates and then it bursts without warning. The blood gushes just beneath the outermost layer of my epidermis causing my skin to swell and then violently tear amidst the chaotic pressure.
I look to him in fear and devastation, but he notices only vaguely. He lights another cigarette, apparently unaware of the one still pressed between his lips.
Streams of my indigo blood run the length of the slanted floorboards and coagulate in viscous tide pools in the corners of the room where the walls and the parquet meet.
“It isn’t even real wood,” I mutter, dizzy and fading.
He stands and turns from me. He wades through the noxious mess and down the hall toward the bedroom. He closes the door gently and locks it behind him.
I know in that moment that love and hate are exactly the same.
The wind swells. The curtains flutter and twirl, insolently taunting me.
The couple next door is throwing things again.
Jabs, insults, coffee mugs and such…
Posted on May 16, 2010
Life changer, game changer, reality chaser...
Thoughts of you in any regard have been banished. It is the only way. You were my madness, my guilt, my knowledge and my truth. You saw through me and consumed me wholly and now I am forced to deny you and your light because I became inextricably tied to the shadows that you cast.
Still, the grey flashes come and I feel my body tremble in acknowledgement.
They arrive unbidden; indiscriminate blips from a space deep within a murky chasm in my brain. They appear obscured and shaded at first and might easily be disregarded as meaningless white noise; but I recognize these images instantaneously. I know better.
I see our hands gripped together and pulsating with grave intensity.
And only with our fingers fully entwined; clenched and clinging and necessary, only then was the full weight of your intention allowed to descend, and suddenly my options were none, so I gave you free reign to chip away my carefully constructed façade.
Years of precise indemnification vanished in a moment, and we held my naked soul between us.
I was afraid then, but I innately knew this fear to be life affirming. It was the final manifestation of my own ignorance and I watched quietly (gratefully) as you reaped it that night.
You were pulling me from the vortex and I held tightly to your palms.
I considered holding onto your thumbs instead, but we’d already discussed that you are among the 24 percent of humans whose thumbs are hyperextenable. You’d mentioned that your freakish appendages were a splash at parties and even though I knew that you’d used the line before, I laughed in a dizzy, girlish way, meant to indicate that I was intrigued and delighted by your tale.
And so as I recalled your story, in the moments just after the reality had blurred and taken on that peculiar nauseating, gyrating inertia, I questioned whether the inherent flexibility of your splashy thumbs could handle the violent tug of a flailing girl trying desperately to avoid the eternal abyss.
Your palms felt safer. And so I placed what was left of me inside them.
I try now to focus on your smell…the way you smelled that night…
My God. I could have laid with you for a century or three.
And now I cannot recall it.
Fuck. I can’t even cull the adjectives that I’d assigned to your natural fragrance, though I am confident that I’d thunk of many…
I know that I rolled them through my brain and heart and guts over and over and over again until they made no sense at all. Perhaps I’d even allowed them to slip from my tongue a time or two; attempting to taste them and measure their strength outside of the bottle.
I had hoped that uttering them aloud would make you real and somehow transmute you from the two-dimensional character living in my brain to a four-dimensional life force existing and feasting in my realm, dancing and leaping and dropping benign snippets of truth throughout the menagerie of my life.
My plan did not work, however, and now I am alone again, pining for a part of speech.
I would give anything just to remember your goddamn adjectives.
And while your specifics have gone missing, your aftermath is alive and well. You impaled my existence. You obliterated life as I knew it. I’d cultivated this life believing it to be custom made for me. It had once been a perfect fit. But now it is swollen and distended, and the silken cloths I had draped over it are weary and awkwardly stretching and straining in vain attempt to fit around this updated and enhanced version of reality.
The band plays on.
I got your email today. You said you hoped I was doing well.
You typed this wish on a separate line and added a comma and my name after the thought.
And because it was you who wrote it, I assigned great meaning and weight to this otherwise mundane nicety. Because it was you who wrote it, I paused to consider the thing.
I am not doing so well, I decide. In spite of your sincerest desires for me…
Nope. Actually, I’m really fucked up. I haven’t slept in awhile and I’m spinning and while superficially this state is not so different than when you found me; it is, because now I have cut my lines and have no anchor. This is not ideal.
You warned me about this…
But I’d been cavalier and insisted that the hard part was over. You knew that I knew better, but you accepted my flippant tone and offhanded shrug without much objection. It was late by then, and the sun was starting to come up.
You didn’t actually email me ‘just because.’ You were replying to a notice about a concert that I sent to you because I know you like the group.
Still, you wrote three lines of original text and I went with only a subject line and a link to Ticketmaster’s website, which made me feel like I won that round.
You are unaware that we are at war. This is for the best.
I could not win even one battle against you if the fight were fair.
I am drinking cheap white wine straight from the bottle with the shades drawn, which doesn’t really matter. No one will know. According to my social networking profile, I am having the time of my life. The social networks always paint an accurate picture.
And so I sit in my darkened cave, drinking punishing amounts of alcohol and listening to the black box recordings of ill-fated aero-planes just before they crash. I am attempting to grasp the concept of true fear and regret.
On a whim, I open the shade a tiny bit but I close it quickly because the streaming sunlight hurts.
I consider taking an extreme action intended to filch the suck-age from the spiral which eclipses me at present.
I contemplate not speaking for some significant amount of time a la Maya Angelou.
Then I too might know why the caged bird sings.
I try to remember which glamorous old film star just shut herself up in her mansion after her longtime love died. “I want to be alone,” were her parting words.
Was it Ingrid Bergman? Lauren Bacall?
The moment passes then, and I shift in my seat, making myself comfortable.
I won’t do either of these things. I won’t really do anything at all, most probably.
Invocation. Provocation. Motivation. Unable to be undone.
Posted on May 2, 2010
Full House (?)
I am sitting Indian-style on the floor of my living room digging through tattered shopping bags overflowing with books.
My roommate placed them in this spot sometime last year.
They are allegedly destined for a charity or a dumpster or something, but they haven’t made it yet.
The situation doesn’t look promising.
I have plucked several titles that feel relevant and interesting from the dusty abyss, and they are now strewn about the floor surrounding me.
My roommate enters from stage right.
I watch as he directs a perfunctory glance toward my picks and I study his face as he takes them in.
“A Glimpse of Heaven.” “Jesus.” “The Book of Enoch the Prophet.” “The Reformation.”
I am a duck. Sitting.
“Look, I can save you a bunch of time and just tell you all about the God racket. Trust me, you’ll have that holy-roller screaming “Hallelujah” in no time,” he says.
He says this with no verbal inflection at all. It’s hard to tell if he’s kidding.
I’ve long suspected that my roommate spies on me and the statement he’s just made does little to pacify my paranoia on the topic.
He just knows too much. Especially because I haven’t really divulged anything yet.
After all, we just met six weeks ago.
I laugh then because I think he wants me to and also because I am uncomfortable.
And then I pause attempting to foreshadow a vibe switch, which is imminent.
I am hoping to warn him that the forthcoming moment will be a sober one. A serious one.
He should try exceedingly hard not to say anything dumb or irritating.
And when I feel the moment settle, I quietly tell him that I believe that I actually may have felt something last night…standing there amongst all those believers, I mean…
This feeling, while not completely foreign, had felt excruciatingly distant and buried; and then it fled. It vanished as quickly as it had appeared, and now I know that I must find it again.
It will necessitate thorough examination and honest appraisal.
I think I want to read these books, I tell him. For me.
I allow my words to trail off and he turns and walks away as if I hadn’t spoken. As he retreats, he mutters aloud about a time when he was 19 and had almost joined the priesthood.
My roommate used to be a banker but he got laid off, and now he runs an online porn business from his bedroom while collecting unemployment.
The man knows how to work his way around a lemon.
My phone rings.
Do I have a moment for a brief survey?
There’s a real-live human on the phone. This isn’t one of those automated surveys. I find it hard to hang up on another human. Especially one with a really shitty job.
He’s not selling anything, he is saying. Please, can he just ask me two quick questions?
I’m feeling benevolent. I’m also feeling sad that he is doing a job that could be done far more efficiently by an automated system. I agree to answer his two quick questions. He is grateful. He prefaces the first question by stating that I was selected for this survey because I live in the greater Los Angeles area and have a car… I interrupt him. I’m in New York. I don’t know how to drive. I’ve had my cell number for many years now.
Oh, wow, I love New York, he is saying.
I tell him there are t-shirts for people like him.
He misses the joke.
I should be careful. I should be aware over there, he is saying. It is important to stay safe.
God bless you, he says.
And then he is gone. The line goes dead and I sit for a long moment staring as the screen of my phone fades to black. I am trying to remember the last time someone blessed me just for the hell of it.
I know that Hugo thinks I’m a whore.
Hugo is the overnight concierge in my building.
I don’t blame him for thinking his thoughts; no matter how flattering or offensive I may or may not find them… I mean, it’s actually a very logical conclusion.
I’ve lived in this complex for nearly two years and I’ve only seen Hugo a handful of times; usually when he is covering a day shift.
But recently Hugo has become a featured player in my world. A constant…
He provides the necessary punctuation when my nights and days blend and the world feels senseless as I amble through his office bleary-eyed and wanton, but trying very hard to appear normal.
Hugo probably thinks I’m on drugs the way I carry on.
The asinine hours I’ve been keeping do nothing to dispel this notion. Besides, whores and drugs go together. It makes sense.
Hugo is wrong though. I’m not on drugs. And I’m not having sex with even one person, let alone the multitudes of people that real whores are required to muck about with.
Still. Hugo has no way of knowing that the people keeping me up all night are good, solid Christians.
They don’t do drugs.
They don’t arbitrarily fornicate to satiate the demands of the feral beast within.
They fight temptation.
They hope they will be rewarded with deliverance from evil.
Maybe I should divulge these details to Hugo. He’s Spanish. The Spaniards dig Jesus.
Maybe he’ll understand me.
Maybe we’ll bond and bless one another for no particular reason.
I consider this only briefly before I decide to let Hugo think what he wants to. I don’t actually care.
Besides, I somewhat enjoy the cloak of shadowy mystery that has been cast upon me thanks to Hugo’s visions of me turning tricks while hopped up on crank.
Further, I know that Hugo spends the majority of his shift sleeping in his chair, all sloppy and slumped over and drooling on the front desk and shit.
He should be eagle eyed and alert, vigilantly guarding the entry gate and protecting the residents from ill-intended interlopers. I also know that Hugo is far more intimately acquainted with Dolores, the Dominican cleaning lady with the sunny-disposition, than a man who is married to a woman who is not Dolores, should be.
I may be riff-raff but I have sources too.
And any secret worth keeping is also, for someone, worth telling.
Hugo is lucky that I’m not that someone. For me, his secret isn’t worth telling.
Besides, I only come out at night these days, and anyone who might care about Hugo and Dolores is definitely asleep then.
If I bothered to form an opinion on Hugo, I would not speak of it. I would take care and hold my tongue, thus ensuring that defamatory untruths should never tumble from my lips.
I doubt that Hugo is equally prudent.
He swathes his conjecture-laden opinions of me in fabric that bears a striking resemblance to the fabric donned by men who uttereth facts. Things become convoluted. And then, with reality and fiction inextricably intertwined, Hugo is free to disseminate his open-ended fairytales to the masses.
I imagine that he speaks in haughty tones while perched on a make-shift podium spreading his falsified notions of me and my whore-ish nature while they listen eagerly and blindly accept his gospel without question.
Which is sad because, like I’ve said, Hugo’s version of me is mostly completely inaccurate
I wonder what the other residents of my condo complex think of me. The complex has three hundred and sixty some-odd apartments in it. They are spread out among three buildings.
It’s reasonable to think that the other residents may not think anything of me at all…
Perhaps they’ve never noticed me…
I allow the idea to tumble around the soft tissue of my brain. It grazes through billions of neurons. It plays tag with my synapses. It chats with the axons and then expresses a few frustrated feelings to the suprachiasmatic nucleus before it is suddenly washed away altogether by a flash flood of endorphins.
I should like to believe that I have gone unnoticed in these parts…
But I know better…
At one time this complex was a tin-can factory.
During the war, the factory stopped producing tin and it produced arms for the military instead.
I don’t really know which war all that happened during, but I assume it was sometime after The Civil and before Operation Desert Storm.
During the 90’s, the factory was converted into pricey condos with 25 ft. ceilings and lofts.
The location of the factory is far more suitable for fancy housing than mass production of tin anyway. The buildings are perched on a cliff overlooking the Hudson River which provides a very unique and exclusive vista of the entire New York City skyline. You could even see The World Trade Center. Back before it was destroyed by the evildoers, obviously….
This is the sort of place that people aspire to live in.
This is the sort of place that pits the condo owners who still reside here against the condo owners who bought cheap back in the day, and now charge vagrants like me astronomical sums of money to rent their units, so they can chill and drink white wine spritzers from the safety of the veranda in their Long Island McMansions.
Don’t get me wrong; the people who live here are nice. I mean that.
And I’m not being snide just because I consider “nice” to be the most useless adjective around.
But just below the surface, these are people who possess an innate distrust of the vagabonds who camp here for short while. They rest with one eye up.
They aspired to live here and now they do, and as such, they will protect their quality of life by any means necessary.
It’s hard to find fault in that.
As such, they keep careful track of we ‘transients.’ I’m sure they have files on each of us. After all, they have a community to keep safe.
My roommate probably helps them. After all, he owns his condo…but he also rents his space.
He is a double agent… the problem and the solution.
No wonder he knows so much about me.
I ponder the facts in my file…
These people know that when I moved here in August of 2008, “I” was half of a “we”. “We” lived in the C building. They know that the other half of my former “we,” is a musician. They know that we sublet our place to some strange characters last year and we moved to Maui for a while. They know that we keep odd hours. They know that we used to fight sometimes. They know that, on occasion, we would fight loudly. They know that we smoke. They know that a month ago I moved to the A building. They know that I smoke far less now. They know that I spent the week prior to the move painting my new room a snazzy shade of green. They think that it’s strange that “we” are still friends and that I only moved across the corridor. We know what they think.
We don’t care.
But now, thanks to Hugo and probably my roommate, they know that I gallivant like a hooligan far into the wee hours of the night or the morning or whatever, doing God knows what, with God knows whom, as I flagrantly shun all that is righteous and holy.
If only they knew, I think.
But they know only what they know, and they know only what Hugo hath told them.
And Hugo only knows half of the story, obviously.
No harm, no foul, I guess.
While I do wish that we might avert our collective gaze, and somehow implicitly agree that no one saw or heard anything; I can’t say that I blame poor Hugo for his part in this.
He is merely honoring the other agreement that he’s made: he will barter vital intel about the drifters and the gypsies and the ruffians such as myself, in exchange for absolution and faux-ignorance of the fact that he sleeps when he is being paid to work and fucks his girlfriend while she is being paid to clean.
Means. End. Justification. Survival. Understanding.
I get it.
We all have our thing.
Posted on April 25, 2010
Who Art Thou?
It is nearly 4a.m. in Osaka.
The perfumes of cigarette smoke and pungent espresso intermingle and form callous clouds of dense grey air which shadow and shroud her face. Strangers chatter idly in indiscernible languages. An alabaster bird swoops down from the sky, skimming the crown of her head. This is now an emergency, she decides as she snuffs out her cigarette.
She sits for a spell before requesting water from the waiter. She waits. The waiter returns and places a small cup of water before her. In addition to water the cup contains a dead fruit fly and a crust of bread. She stares at it hard.
The waiter reappears unprompted and removes the menagerie, replacing it with a vase of fresh water and an empty cup. She smiles at him wanly, an overture which he does not see because he has already walked away.
She pours herself some water.
It is 3p.m. in New York.
Her cigarette continues to burn in the ashtray and she stares transfixed as the smoke twirls and dances before her and then trails stealthily out of the café and into the night. She drips a bit of her beverage on top of its remains; extinguishing it.
There has been an earthquake in Haiti so large that the Richter scale cannot measure it. There are no resources. Millions are feared dead. Many buried alive (!).
She purposefully catches her breath in her throat in attempt to simulate the feeling of being buried alive.
Of asphyxiating while still fully cognizant.
This is nothing like that, she is sure, but the idea intrigues and arouses her senses…
Women and children sob in the streets designating themselves appropriate spectacles for ravenous news cameras looking to spread their dis-ease. Their most private sorrow will be broadcast across the globe in 30-second clips brought to the faceless masses by Botox-ed anchor-people who will shake their heads in mock-empathy before cutting to a commercial for McDonalds or Paxil.
This is now an emergency, she thinks again.
She is innocent by reason of necessity. Innocent by reason of artistry. Innocent by reason of vagrancy.
She lights another cigarette. Images of a house-fire in the suburbs replace the tormented Hatians on the television.
She allows her eyes to gently close and imagines the heat of the flames lapping at her heels. They engulf her feet. She rolls a stray match between her thumb and forefinger and catches a faint whisp of sulfur. She wonders how fast she’d need to roll it before she burst into flame. She wonders if she might will herself into amalgamation with the hellfire. What would be left after this cataclysmic conflagration of sin and sinner and its brazen incineration of evil? Nothing.
They’d not even be able to separate her ribs from spleen in that sort of mess.
They might never know that she’d been here at all.
Dreamy music made by psychotic men taunts the air around her and she remains unaffected. She sips her cigarette. As she exhales, she follows her smoke and wanders out into the night. She nods at the waiter who is smoking in the alley while chasing the alabaster bird with a fork.
Bird deserves to forked, she thinks.
She is assuming this is the same bird which nearly decapitated her earlier.
It is just after 9pm in Paris and she feels the tug of it.
She is suddenly aware that she is urgently burning, urgently yearning, and feverishly seeking the darkness.
She is looking for trouble, excitement, deviation.
The emergency is now forgotten.
Posted on April 21, 2010
v. moved, mov·ing, moves
1. To change in position from one point to another
2. To progress in sequence; go forward
3. To progress toward a particular state or condition
Moving in. Moving up. Moving over. To remain in motion.
To perpetuate movement.
Life is nothing if not a series of movements. We each travel a path.
Some feel this path is predetermined, and where it leads, they will follow.
They do not ask any questions, least of all, “Why?”
Some feel the path is being created on the fly. We are both the strategists plotting the route and the captain of the vessel traveling it. There is only us and the wind and the moment.
Plans are made and changed according to unanticipated roadblocks or sea squalls or fanciful whim, but are never definitive.
The only constant, the only promise, is movement.
And now here we are (where “here” is; still undetermined,) looking at this nonsensical sequence of events that comprise our existence and wondering how it all happened.
“Who is in charge of this chaos?”
“I want to speak to your supervisor!”
“I want answers!!!”
And now the Earth is shaking and exploding and vomiting the thousands of years of toxicity we have foisted upon it…
It is trying to purge the problem (we are the problem,) in order to create a solution.
To begin again. To move forward. With or without us.
But the masses are suddenly angry and frightened and engaged in a fight to the death. They arbitrarily hurl money and prayer and blame and platitudes at that which they do not understand, in order to regain control and create a sense of security surrounding the epic calamity that is life. They prefer a falsified sense of comprehension to an unverifiable truth.
They ignore the obvious to propagate their ignorance. It’s simpler.
The Girl is not implying that she is not guilty of this (she is) or that she is not fighting alongside her fellow men, but she does see a few key strategic differences with regard to the battle plan itself, which prevent her from offering alliance…
Where an overarching fear of melting into oblivion dictates that the masses “Keep Calm, and Carry On,” as they methodically create PowerPoint presentations and graphs and charts and statistics, The Girl observes from the sidelines.
“That doesn’t look fun,” she thinks.
And then she turns around. She faces away from them. She stares at nothing. She shuts her eyes and opens them quickly, repeating this pattern until she tires of it. She clicks her heels three times, but finds it trite, and so she clicks some more. She spins in her chair. She points her toes. She wonders what all of the hubbub is about. Life is pretty simple from where she sits.
She thinks about inviting the masses to join her. She wants them to peer through her lens, if only for short while. But then she ponders the noise and the inevitable protest and the overcrowding. She loathes overcrowding. She considers what might happen when she wants them to leave so that she can once again be alone in her spin-ny chair…she worries about the ones who won’t want to leave. The stragglers. There are always stragglers. She really loathes stragglers.
She knows she is selfish in certain regards, and now she embraces it and leaves them to their own devices.
The Girl considers her tactical defenses and is momentarily disquieted. She has few defenses, she realizes. And then her anxiety is pacified. After all, “The best defense is a good offense.”
She says this aloud…as a mantra, of sorts. She considers herself acutely offensive.
She subtly smiles. She spins in her chair.
The Earth bubbles around The Girl, but she is unafraid. She is curious. Eager for Part Two.
“Sequels don’t always suck,” she reasons.
Still she wonders…
(She blames this wonderment on her innate humanity, which not for lack of trying, she has been unable to banish completely)
Still, she wonders… why The Earth must always be so boisterous in its upheavals and coup’s.
“Why must so many enemies be made in the name of progress?”
Maybe it is The Earth that needs a peek through her lens. A little perspective shift…
While she empathizes wholly with The Earth’s desire for advancement beyond its current situation and the innate need to discard that which troubles it, The Girl questions the validity of complete decimation as the ultimate solution.
She thinks on her own experience. She does this often.
She spins in her chair and then leans back far (so far, in fact, that she experiences a brief sizzle of excitement during a fleeting moment when the chair teeters perilously on its hind wheels and she fears that the thing might tip over completely and spill her out unto the floor with a loud Thud!)
But then the moment passes and she returns to vertical, considering the process of recovering or righting that which we perceive to be wrong in our lives.
She wonders whether we are actually evolving during these times, and learning lessons to take with us into future experiences or if we just crushing some piece of ourselves?
Is moving on always moving forward? Or is the whole process just a more acceptable method of building walls and layering fresh scar tissue upon our souls in the name of “preservation”?
When we dogmatically try to forget someone or something, we will.
But forgetting is dicey because then it’s all just gone…
Though we have cleansed our wounds and may no longer be susceptible to infection by a given assailant, is it not reasonable to assume that we’ve also succeeded in killing a great many good bacteria in the process?
“Penicillin,” she mutters.
One would be hard-pressed to find a more ardent advocate of passionate devastation than The Girl. Of this fact, she is well aware. And while she openly admits that at first blush the whole thing sounds very self-destructive and maddeningly cyclical; she believes that it also keeps her aflame.
Unlike the fighting masses and the belligerent Earth, The Girl is acutely conscious that without both awareness of and active participation in “The Spiral,” in some regards, one is avoiding life altogether.
“Balance,” she whispers, as places her hands on the uneven floorboards and kicks her legs mightily, resulting in a full inversion of her body. Her heels easily find the wall, which is behind her now, and she relaxes into the handstand as the blood rushes to her head. Her arms begin to shake at one point, but it is here that she remains. Because she knows that when she does right herself again, all will not be forgotten. She will be as she was, perhaps a bit flush and dizzy, possessing a slightly revised perspective on the events that led her to this space; but herself nonetheless.
And this pleases her. It is her way.
Posted on March 20, 2010
You would like the space your guts used to occupy in your torso to be patched up.
Your insides are shivering.
You have nothing. No words. No thoughts. Just the rain.
Just the sickening snap and the loss and the filthy complication of life unrequited.
Just the abstraction of reality.
Reality, even? The entire concept… foreign.
There is a busted lock, a broken ladder on a fire escape, a blown fuse, and a drowning girl. (Reality.)
This is death and life and hope for life after death.
This is skipping and running and leaping and crashing and bleeding and stitches.
This is the post-infernal smolder fed only by the air and nothing left to burn.
This is punched in the guts. Hard. Again and again and again. This is the dull ache that follows…
This is the point of no return. (This is the point, obviously…)
These are the bony fingers belonging to goblins beckoning from the shadows. Tempting and taunting…
This is your funeral now.
Organ music plays in 40-second loops. It blasts forth through the crummy speakers of a dual cassette recorder which was considered ‘top of the line’ in the 80’s. There are no mourners. There are no tears. There are a handful of celebrants gathered in one corner.
They seem rather unaffected.
This is you…not really blaming them.
(This is having so very far to go. This is feeling completely unable to begin at all.)
The water is seeping and dripping through the windows of the space and all you can do is stare with glassy, bloodshot eyes at an inconsequential point in the darkness, surrounded by nothing in particular.
You attempt to predict the patterns of the ferocious gusts of wind. As if such a thing were possible. Still you try…
The rain lashes obscenities against the windowpanes and you just listen. You are empty.
Tabula Rasa (?)
Posted on March 9, 2010
The view is nice. It has character. He said.
I agreed. Halfheartedly (foolhardily) at first.
Then I give over.
Logic and whim become peaceful, if foreign, bedmates.
And so it goes.
And then it went.
The cryptic creeks become comfortably familiar.
The yellowed walls are now coated in the highest-grade semi-gloss.
Inaccurate photos portraying moments from the lives of the wistful, witless insouciant’s we wish to be are framed and placed in haphazard clusters throughout the space. These clusters are planned and re-planned with immaculate thought.
Their graceless effect, extremely affected.
As are we.
And so it goes.
The Nordic looking Russian in suspenders pushes a type written note under the door early one Sunday morning and then lobs away, giggling gaily.
Ever conservative, likely because of his experience standing in bread lines as a youth, the man has trimmed the standard slip of copy paper to 1/8 of its original size. This is sense, when one considers that just three words comprised of nine letters (ten including punctuation) are inscribed upon it.
See Me Soon.
We find the note sometime later (we do not find it together. He did or I did, but in the end the actual discovery of the thing is of little import.) We set about the task of its comprehension.
See Me Soon.
Very well then.
But who is it that we must see he asks.
I don’t know I reply honestly.
We independently indulge simultaneous shivers of musty excitement.
He nods the question.
I nod the answer.
He drags the 10-foot ladder from the crawl space and then I scale it and stand en pointe while digging through the top-secret custom cubbyhole which lurks behind an oversized framed photo of some old people we pretend to know. The frame (like most things) is a façade. It swings open via imperceptible hinges adorning its left side.
Be careful he says from below and I glare in response from above…
My very life is threatened each time this process becomes necessary because he is afraid of heights…
Look alive I call just before I drop the 17-pound relic from my perch.
He is used to my impetuous nature. He is alive and makes the catch with ease.
I consider a flashy dismount but decide that fun must be reserved for later, after this bastard note hath been decoded. I climb down the old fashioned way.
I wash my hands in a nearby sink and by the time I return to him he is already plugging the equipment into the wall socket while wearing his argyle super sleuth hat.
A wooden pipe is clenched betwixt his teeth.
This gets me in the mood, so I run to another cabinet and unearth a trench coat. It smells like mothballs but I don’t really care. I take off all my other clothes and slip it over my naked body. We eye one another critically and then, suddenly, we allow the smiles we’d purposefully been masking. Just for old times sake…
Been too long he says
You can say that again I reply
Been too long he says again.
I ignore him.
We dim the lights and flip the switch on the dusty slide projector. We are attempting to look official. We must determine the nature of what we do (not) know. He passes me a blank transparency which I place atop the projection window.
So…I say, the red erasable marker poised in my right hand.
We silently stare at the illumination of light on the shiny wall.
We should have gone satin I say.
You were feeling Draper he replies.
Fuck I say.
What a disaster. The walls are ablaze in my stupid post-modern caprice and now we have this note to contend with. And even in our full character garb, we have no clue what any of it means.
What a disappointment he says.
I know I say.
Maybe its really been too long he says.
That’s so sad I reply.
We have no choice. We both know this.
I pull on my teal, rubber galoshes. Right foot first. Then the left.
A pair of oversized plastic tortoiseshell sunglasses now adorn my face.
He loses the pipe.
And then, inspired by my eyewear, he selects a pair of thick black-framed, reading glasses which have no lenses and he props them on the bridge of his nose while licking his palm and then using its wetness to slick his fuzzy hair into a jazzy cowlick.
Feels good to be home he says.
I smile crookedly in agreement, my brain already running wild; buoyed by thoughts of independence and wielding childish dreams of infinite autonomy.
We silently shut the leaden door and then slink past the elevator, scanning the carpet for clues as we go. We hug the walls, trying to blend. We head for the stairs. Once in the safety of the stairwell, we do a sweep. We do not actually believe that anything is safe.
He swirls his index finger in the air, and then bobs it upward three times, indicating that I should head up the remaining three flights to insure that we are alone and that it is safe to talk. He will secure the perimeter. I do as I am told, only slightly resentful that he is in charge now. I shoo my niggling thoughts which insist that the very conversation we are prepping for, should’ve been held in our living room.
I will not bring this up, however, because his response will irritate me. His insistence that they are onto us and that our living room is unsafe is sheer paranoid tomfoolery.
Our disguises are second-to-none. We are fully incognito.
He disagrees though. And he is in charge now.
I return to him and nod three times indicating that all three floors are clear.
Good he says in Farsi.
Wow Farsi even I state with obvious dismay.
Do not be lulled into complacency he says.
Fine. Now what I ask still somewhat irritated but more entertained than earlier.
We split into two teams he replies.
Ok what are the teams I ask with a straight face
You and me he replies with an equally straight face
That’s exactly what I would’ve done I say
I am glad you approve he replies
And with that he pushes open the door which leads from the stairwell to the great outdoors.
The door is marked with a threatening sign which reads:
Emergency Exit Only. Alarm Will Sound
Obviously, no alarm sounds
We’d taken care of that problem on Day One.
We know the benefit of a secret, silent, side exit, you see.
We emerge from the darkness and step into the overwhelming daylight. Birds chirp. There is the sound of a lawn mower buzzing in the distance.
The temperature is hovering around 74.83 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just this side of ‘too warm for a coat.’
Or it would be, anyway, were I not naked as a jaybird beneath mine.
We set about our exploration of the compound. I have been assigned Sectors E, 7, and Q.
He has Bravo, Tango, and Foxtrot. I fucking hate how his always takes the cool sectors now that he can. I’d always tried to be fair. I’d tried to be a good example and take the stupid sectors now and then. He doesn’t do that.
Smart guy, I think.
After all, I’m still here, exploring fucking Sector 7…just as I had when I was being a ‘fair-and-good-example.’
Dictators do it better, I think.
And then wouldn’t you know it? Just when I’d begun to teeter on the slippery slope of cynicism, a clue in the form of a rancid, bedraggled prom queen donning pink taffeta and reeking of Strawberry Hill Boone’s Farm presents herself.
I thought it a ruse at first, for such vital intel is not usually quite so apparent in its nature…
And so when the Rasinette approaches me and openly asks if we’d gotten the summons from the King, I react warily. Instinctually. Though seemingly unnecessary and ludicrous to an outsider, one in my position might easily understand the need to feign ignorance.
“Deed you’s git zee massage? Zee man want see you.”
What massage I ask; my tones steeped in the afore mentioned faux-innocence come ignorance.
How the fuck did she recognize me, I wonder, what with these teal galoshes and everything…
Meanwhile, I am merely biding time. The jig is up. The mystery is solved.
The Road to Boredom beckons once more. Coming! I reply.
She teeters away across the concrete cobblestones. She is hobbling more than a moderate amount. Which makes sense once I see that she wears only one shoe.
I pluck a half smoked cigarette from the ash-can near the border of 7 and Q before ducking into a nearby bush to gather some tinder and then using the lens of my not-so-effective-disguise sunglasses to start a fire and light that beast.
Disgusting I think as I inhale. Menthol. Blech.
A tree rustles from behind. How the fuck is he in charge if he can’t even climb the tree I wonder for the gazillionth time. I know he is watching. Judging. Wondering why the cuss I am practicing my fire-starting skills when there is a case to be solved. He has no idea that I am feeling benevolent. I figure it’d be a shame to tell him the truth and ruin his day too.
And so I create a water filter from an errant palm frond and set about making drinkable water from a teeny puddle of sedentary, melted snow; while humming Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”
Posted on March 5, 2010
Sitting. Silent. Amongst the chaos.
To yourself and others.
Take another. Hoping to invoke. Evoke. Provoke…
Need. Desire. And the need for desire.
You are seeking that which has already been sought and supposedly found.
The Observer sits across from you. Drawing. Writing. Listening.
You’ve removed your wedding band and engagement ring.
You wonder if he noticed. You’ve placed them in your sunglass case.
(your sunglasses are on your face.)
You wonder what he is thinking. Writing.
You wonder if you might live vicariously through him.
You wish to view it all from his perspective.
The Asian next to you smokes and mutters to himself.
He is your age (ish.)
He appears normal otherwise. Other than the abnormal muttering that is.
You cough. You wonder if The Observer looked up. If he noticed.
It was a phlegmy cough…noteworthy enough, you think…
Then again, you notate many things that others do not.
For example, you notate that it was your ego that conjured this superiority-infused thought, not necessarily you.
The Asian is muttering again.
You have an attachment to him.
Not the Asian now… The Observer in the hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses and fingerless gloves, sitting on the bench across from you.
You don’t want him to leave. Your attachment is obviously inappropriate.
Besides, he shows no sign of moving to leave.
Still, your worry surrounding the inevitable persists. It is your way.
The Asian leaves, muttering as he goes.
A crazy homeless man enters from stage left, yelling, which is why you assumed him crazy in the first place.
“Kill ‘em all!” he yells. “Let God sort ‘em out!”
A well-dressed Negro, also crazy and far more frightening, due to his mundane appearance and how easily he’d been able to blend with the normal folk like you, stands and bellows a deep and guttural sound. He smiles wide and high-fives the Belligerent Homeless Man. They stand too close to you now. They smell like soup.
“We should put em’ on a boat,” the Homeless one continues.
“Yeah, a slow boat to China,” the Negro proudly retorts.
They both laugh wildly as they amble off together in one direction or another.
It’s cold on this bench. But they’ll never find you here and so here you shall stay.
You are avoiding life and everyone and everything in it. Your phone goes unanswered. Your emails remain unread. This is in their best interest, you reason. You’ve no interest in spreading your dis-ease.
The Observer is digging through an oversized black backpack.
The Belligerent Homeless Man and The Negro drift by again and you overhear The Homeless one lamenting the fact that the bank is closed.
That’s because you’re crazy, you think.
You don’t think this man could possibly maintain an account at a real bank. Perhaps he refers to a fictitious bank, though…
Such an establishment could be quite useful to these harlequins. They probably have phony bankcards and easy to memorize passwords such as “Junk,” instead of complicated PIN numbers. Everything probably moves extra fast at this fictional bank and the fictitious tellers are all probably real happy and shit.
Then again, on the off chance that The Homeless one was referring to a real-life banking institution, you realize that there’s a legitimate possibility that he owns the whole goddamn place. Crazies always seem to hold power positions.
The Observer is leaving now. You are sad. As you knew you would be. He floats past you without even a nod in your direction. You watch him as he disappears. He does not look back. He hadn’t noticed you. Not even a little.
Dumb, you think.
He’s dumb. You’re dumb. The pills are dumb. The world is dumb.
(You are numb.)
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