Archive for the ‘ People of Interest’ Category

Touching Without Feeling and Other Near Impossibilities.

Posted on July 17, 2010

This Noose was Designed to Break on ImpAct.

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.

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Dealer’s Choice (?)

Posted on May 2, 2010

Full House (?)

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.


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She Wears Gowns Belonging to Ghosts

Posted on April 25, 2010

Who Art Thou?

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.

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Giving Up the Ghost

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.

Oh well.

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.”

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“Sitting On a Park Bench…”

Posted on March 5, 2010

Hey Aqualung

Hey Aqualung

Sitting. Silent. Amongst the chaos.

Lying.

To yourself and others.

Numb.

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.

(seeking?)

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.

(feeling?)

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.

Fucked up.

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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The Nonsense of Incubation

Posted on December 27, 2009

Devour

Devour

The room in which you sit is almost barren.

It is filled to the brim with games and memories and knick-knacks and words and ghosts and ribbons won at state-fairs long ago.

This room is miniscule in size and rather amorphous in its shape.

It is roughly the size of a high-school gymnasium and was clearly designed by one of those early, radical Cubists.

There is no way out of this room.

There are three doors. One leads to the closet. One leads to a hallway.

And the one with the daunting metal lock on it leads to the outside.

There is also a small window that floats far, far above your head.

There is no glass in this window and so you’ve become well acquainted with the feral whims of Mother Nature and the robust fury of her elements.

You should relocate.

You should switch up the view and explore life against another wall. But you don’t.

You think, “Maybe tomorrow…”

Which is the very same thought you had yesterday.

You sit Indian-style atop a wooden futon and devour a crust-free cucumber and cream cheese sandwich, which has been cut into four efficient triangles.

All the while, blueberry-sized bits of gravel are being dispatched through the pane-less opening near the ceiling.

They seem to be launched with force, perhaps by a hellion with a slingshot.

They pelt you hard in the abdomen.

You feel like this assault should be painful or at least evocative, somehow.

Shouldn’t you be moved to build a ladder out of all the useless chattel in your midst?

Might this ladder and the act of creating it, aid in the possibility of eradicating the omni-present torpor that plagues you?

“There is sense in the thing…” you think. Still, you are dubious.

“Say I do build this ladder and climb its rungs…then what?”

“Am I meant to cover the opening or am I expected to crawl through it?”

Such lyrical questions deserve shrieking, passionate answers…

And since you’ve nothing of that ilk prepared, you opt instead to focus on the refreshing and delicious cucumber crunching between your teeth at present.

You decide that while pickling a cucumber seems to be a relatively straightforward and rewarding process; turning a pickle back to a cucumber would likely be a challenging feat, steeped in disappointment. Indeed.

Satisfied that you’ve effectively banished all notions of ladders, and bridges, and tunnels, and viaducts and have successfully reverted to benign acceptance for the moment; you place the plate on which your sandwich had lived inside the dumbwaiter and ring a bell for service.

(The room also has a dumbwaiter. You’d once considered it a ‘way out,’ but that was before you knew better.)

‘Smarting’ has ceded to ‘throbbing’ and the red, gravel-induced welts which adorn your abdomen are beginning to become blood-filled blisters.

Still you reason, “I’ll mobilize when I am moved to.”

You languidly reach for a nearby stack of books and ashes and who-knows-what-else. You’ve been meaning to organize these piles for some time now…

There is a newspaper near the top, dated sometime-before-today. You typically shun the news, but you rationalize that its contents are no longer news precisely, rather history.

You skim the letters which form words, until your eyes focus on a small sidebar below the fold.

The headline reads:

“A Tale of Nothing Much”

There was once a moderately happy couple who indulged a moderately lengthy courtship, before marrying in a moderately fancy wedding. They were wed for a moderate amount of time before they divorced. They split their moderate assets evenly and drove away from the situation in their respective mid-range vehicles, each moderately unscathed. They went on to loathe one another only a moderate amount.

“The whole thing seems rather unremarkable…” you muse and then toss the paper aside.

“Enough organization for now,” you decide.

A cicada has penetrated the aperture in the wall, and now buzzes near your ears and forehead.

You swat at it mildly and then close your eyes in attempt to pretend that it isn’t there.

You figure it’ll leave soon.

You would leave if there were a way out.

But there isn’t.

You remove a necklace which holds a weighty key from around your neck, and place it atop the metal toolbox on the floor next to the futon.

You need a nap.

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Written Omissions…

Posted on November 12, 2009

SHHHudder. Just listen

SHHHudder. Just listen

He was the second one. He emerged in the space between the first and the third.

She promised to love him forever, for now.

He loved her well enough. (It was never enough for her.)

In the beginning: “You are red. Always running from here to there and there to here. Where are you trying to get to?”

She is unsure. So, she stops for a spell.

Red is not well suited to her, this much is sure. She ponders her options…

Meanwhile: (She likes his colour) “May I have some of yours, please? We can share it…”

He thinks she has a pirate’s smile. He is well familiar with grifters of her sort.

“Still, there can be little harm. So long as she keeps her hands where my eyes can see…”

Reasonablizations. Rationalizations.

Together they are green.

It is suitable.

Time passes.

(It always does.)

Verdant days grow mold. Trash is strewn atop the moss.

Transcendence cedes to the murky mire.

Eventually: “You are grey. This place is killing you.”

She leaves then. It is her way.

He follows her. (He fears that she will lose her way)

After all, he does love her well enough.

The pavement is cracked. She prefers it so.

The monochromatic starkness suits her.

It turns her orange. She thrives in the hellfire.

She sidles through the alley. It is fun for her.

He follows, always 10 paces behind. It is not fun for him.

But it is his burden. She is his burden.

“That tiny, treacherous, spindly girl,” he thinks, “how she does love to hide.”

He tells himself it’s a game. (Plot. Coup.)

He lifts the lid of a garbage can. Still searching.

(Prepare.)

He hears her tinkling laughter then. It emanates from a foreign space.

It floats through the air, oxidizing at an alarming rate.

Daggers made from the remains of her rusty mirth, draw and quarter him. (Destroy.)

Broken now, he fits easily within the confines of the receptacle.

He piles bits of rubbish atop his own corpse. He is hiding. (Game. Over.)

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what colour you are in the dark.

Reasonablizations. Rationalizations.

Time passes.

(It always does)

“The air is too thin down here,” she thinks “there is not enough breath to be had.”

She negotiates with the gatekeeper. She agrees to die a little.

What had been “not enough,” is now.

(It is hard being her keeper) She is her own burden now.

It is not fun for her.

Time passes.

(It always does)

Diverge. Converge. Submerge.

Eternal. Return.

And then: “You are a shadow”

And then: “I always was.”

And then: “Ever allusive”

And then: “Ever illusive”

And then: “You look just like me.”

And then: “I always have.”

(Checkmate.)

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A Gift for You. With Love from Girl…

Posted on August 20, 2009

Thank God for Nomads

Thank God for Nomads

His writing will inspire your guts to relocate to the filthy city cement below.

You will then stare helplessly as they writhe and thrash about in the muck.

His tales will tear your heart from your being, leaving a gaping, vacant chasm in your chest.

And then you will thank me for the introduction.

www.nomadjunkie.com

(You’re Welcome)

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Breaking the Locals…

Posted on May 23, 2009

The Fishers and the Nomads

The Fishers and the Nomads

I haven’t seen the comb in a week.
Which is of little consequence, as I’ve not felt moved to use it.
My fingers are more than adequate

I dress quickly and head for the pit.
I hear commotion the moment I enter the enchanted walkway.
And when I emerge, I see The Man from New York standing with Nachos, gawking, as The Fishers fight the eels.

Please note:
‘The Fishers’ are not a Jewish family who have a beef with Anguilliformes, rather Locals who fish, assiduously.

These are the same locals who were baffled when Santa Cruz ‘lost’ his second fishing pole in two weeks, while out on a beer run.
No one had seen anything.
Santa Cruz openly called bullshit on their story three days ago, and it occurs to me that I haven’t actually seen him since…

But The Fishers…they live and die by the sea.
They eat what they catch, and they never go hungry.

Please also note:
The Fishers are not your average white haired; yellow slickered, Gorton’s variety fishermen.
They are all in their mid to late 20’s, hold day jobs as painters and contractors and are rarely seen without a pole in one hand, a beer in the other and a cigarette between their lips.

They are attractive enough. (Attractive enough for what? you ask…)
Attractive enough to attract…
Women. And a few rambunctious, underage girls, for that matter…
I’ve witnessed multiple Tourist girls ’sideways stare’ The Fishers, as they casually sun themselves in tiny bikinis.
But The Fishers have ‘dharana.’ Immoveable focus of the mind.

And they do not remove their focus from the sea.

Please further note: Tourists are different than Nomads. Nomads come to the Island with the highest stakes in their overwrought minds. They are deliberate and wary. Tourists want to get tan and go on Sunset Sails.

Please also further note: While not off-limits to Nomads, Tourist girls are traditionally shunned by Locals.
Mostly because they want to get tan and go on Sunset Sails, activities for which Fishers and such, have little time, patience, or money.

I got diverted.
Which has happened more than once, recently.
Much to my delight, I might add…
Right. So there I am, at the end of the enchanted walkway, and I see Jin fighting the eel.

Sidebar: Jin’s name is not actually Jin, but he is of Asian descent and his English ranges from superior and accent-free to underwhelming and broken, depending on the situation, and thus, he has been named accordingly.
Also, fine fish handling skills add to his innate Jin-essence.

I am sure that he has just de-brained the eel he’s been fighting, but Nachos swears that the blob of smooshy goo which now lies in the lawn, which I tend to tromp through barefoot, is merely the squid bait that the eel had tried to eat.
I make a mental note to wear flip-flops whenever ‘tromping’ anywhere, henceforth.
The manner in which I see Jin wrestle this eel makes me doubtful that it could be anything but dead / wholly de-brained, and I only believe that the thing is still with us, when I witness him pick it up and hurl it back over the seawall.
I watch it swim away, and my eyes dart betwixt the sea and the goo on the lawn.
Un. Real.
I am floored.
The Man from New York is floored.
Even Nachos (who, at this point is only about a sheet and a half to the wind) is borderline impressed.

Dennis hands Jin a beer.
Dennis is a Local whose name is obviously not Dennis, but who bears a striking resemblance to Dennis the Menace.
The cartoon version.
In addition to being a Fisher, he is also in charge of distributing the finest chronic between Ka’annapali and Kapalua, though he shares a portion of Napili with a guy from Lahaina Town, which was (for Dennis) a rather un-settling settlement handed down by the powers that be, as a solution to a potentially ugly territorial dispute.
We are not allowed to speak of this though, so we do not.
But, Dennis does love the land and the sea, in equal measure.
I’ve a feeling that if you are really nice to him, he could be convinced to deliver some fresh Mahi for dinner, when he swings by with your desert.
He offhandedly tells Nachos that ‘his girl is pregnant,’ as he lights a cigarette.
Nachos expresses some affirmative emotion which is marred by his serious twitchiness, which seems to scream, “Help! I’m Nacho’s DTs… and I really loathe Nacho’s. Get me out!”

Finally, my eyes land on Uriah, just as he separates the head and body of a less fortunate eel and watches it bleed out.
Uriah is the Fisher King, a reference that has nothing to do with the Oscar-winning film, rather the fact that he is the very best of all the Fishers.
Uriah is the Island.
He is skinny…almost gangly, but strong.
His hands are far rougher than those of other 29 year-olds I know, a product of spending the past 3 decades living off the land and in the sun. They are the hands of a hunter. His face bears the weariness of men twice his age.
In spite of this, or perhaps because of this, I cannot stop noticing Uriah.
I know that if I am to live this Island-life the way I’d envisioned it, the way I’d conceived in the daydream… I knew that I needed Uriah. I needed to know him.

I travel back to the night we first met…
He’d come to the pit, raw meat in hand, and tenderly…lovingly, almost, dressed it in the marinade he’d prepared.
I’d watched him with curiosity and noticed the reverence with which he was regarded. By everyone.
Later, I sit sandwiched between he and the Man from New York, along with ten other people; at a table built for eight.
I am following five separate conversations around me, as I do, and contributing to each, as I see fit.
Uriah does the same.
And he seems to be hearing exactly what I am, in the same moment that I do…
As if it weren’t arbitrary, which it is.

Though he claims to possess little tactical knowledge of the world beyond the Island, I find that he is keenly aware of my words and tones.
He seems to get my dry sarcasm and I feel fortified each time he subtly chortles at something I say.
Especially the things that no one else notices. Or understands.
I savor his laughter as though it were a seal of approval, given by the most powerful citizen in a foreign land.
A foreign land, which one admires, ferociously…

At times, I feel him staring at me hard, through the darkness.
And when someone’s eyes are flush to the back of your hair, you do tend to feel it.
I find that when I speak with him, I speak intently.
Intensely.
With him, I discover a quiet calm in my voice that I’d not heard before.
And I stare at him, just as he does me.
He appreciates this.
His eyes never break from my gaze, nor mine from his.
In spite of the impropriety of our forced closeness and decided lack of personal space, I feel no need for coy behavior.
I listen and I learn and it is only when I momentarily project my-Self out of myself, as I feel I must in order to take a fast situational inventory, that I see that our hands and legs are in full contact.
We are sitting that close.
We are being that much together, and yet there is no shame.
No fault or intent.
No one notices. No one cares. No one is conscious
Except, of course, my-Self.
And so, I hastily re-align my-Self into myself, so as not to allow any self-sabotage of this perfect moment.
And I do continue learning.
And the group wanes.
And then there are five.
The Man from New York, Alaska, Willie Nelson, myself (my-Self has gone missing, Thank God), and Uriah.
We remain.
He invites us to his lair so that we might experience the true bounty of the Island.
He speaks of indigenous strains which mere mortals thought existed only in legend.
He believes our journey to the fourth floor will be worthwhile.
Not that he’d be partaking.
He quit that stuff, but keeps a fair supply on hand, for deserving explorers.
I ask why he no longer indulges…
He begins: There was this girl…
“Ahhh…It always starts with a girl…” I interject.
I expect the titters of laughter that such comments usually command, especially when surrounded by an all-male audience, as I was, but suddenly…
Uriah turns dark and scolds me sharply: “Don’t categorize me or this.”
And now I imagine what it might be like to kiss Uriah.
Which is not to say that I want to kiss Uriah, rather that I was imagining what it might be like, much in the same way that a child who has never had a cookie, might imagine tasting one.
No implied emotion.
Just simple, human curiosity.
I wonder what the combination of his tobacco and beer and meat would taste like.
I wonder if he’d attempt to nibble my bottom lip, but immediately shun the thought because it seems awkward, at best.
No, I decide. He’d not be tricky or slick. I imagine that he’d kiss me simply.
Straightforward with just a touch of unintentional strength.
Which, again, is neither here nor there but simply where it is…

In that moment, the Man from New York squeezes my hand, as consolation for the embarrassment of my public verbal lashing.
The one that it seems I hadn’t noticed.
Uriah says that he found that his memory was failing him at a disconcerting rate.
And that his ‘chick,’ as he calls her, was displeased.
And he’d loved her so much…
That he’d quit.
Not that it had mattered in the end…
He speaks of love lost. He’d been with the girl for nine years and built his life around her.
But that was then.
Now, he feels that he’s been dwelling for too long.
It’s been six months.
I offer that six months isn’t much considering that he’d dedicated nine years, to the thing.
Still, he seems unforgiving. Of himself. Of her.
I inquire about the nature of their demise.
His answer surprises me, which I enjoy, as I find that I am rarely actually surprised, though I do fake it well.
He says that she’d ‘changed.’
That she was once a tomboy, and she loved to camp and fish. They’d built tents in the jungles and such…
But then she discovered nightclubs.
She liked straightening her hair and wearing make-up.
This strikes me as odd, because one of my favorite facets of Island-life is the idea that make-up and straight hair are fundamentally silly.
Why ‘make-up’ when the sun naturally bronzes you?
Why straighten when the legitimate salt air replaces the $30 a bottle Fredric Fekkai ‘beach waves spray,’ I’d used at home?
I’m curious now.

Me: What changed?
He: She did.
Me: Right. But why? What was the catalyst?
He: I don’t know…she turned 21 and I guess it started then.

WAIT a second. Hold the phone… when she turned 21???

Me: Um, how old was she when you started dating?
He: Well, I was 20, so she was…15

I find myself judging him. I consider myself non-judgmental. This is confounding me.
This man is smart. This man understands nature both technically and ideologically…
How could he have honestly expected that she wouldn’t change?
This notion is more than bizarre.

But he is equally puzzled.
By her and the fact that she’d dare decide that, at 24, she wanted different things than she had at 15.
And in that moment, I decide that:
A) I will never, no matter how I might try, be Local
B) That I was glad, harshly as he had, that Uriah had warned me against categorizing ‘him and this.’

Because though I really hadn’t been in that moment, were it not for his warning, I might be, in this one.
And then I’d have missed the rest of Uriah’s bounty.
Which, as I understand, runs deep.

In the time since that night, the Man from New York and the Fisher King have become the closest of mates.
As close as a Nomad and a Local from opposite ends of the planet might become in two weeks, anyway.
Which is wondrous, as friendship is; but I find that my research into the land of the Fishers, a bit hampered because of the thing.

In our territory, befriending a friends Other, is legal game play.
It’s in the rule book, and is even expected…
But we are not in our territory, and the game is played differently here…
So now, the Fishers and their King are polite, if a bit standoff-ish towards the Girl from New York.

And I am back to watching him from afar, as he watches the eel die in close range.
He digs through his surgical bag, choosing his instruments with care and expertise.
He looks up suddenly and catches me staring
“Hello Uriah.”
He tells me later that he was impressed that I’d remembered his name and I cannot help but think that is rather easy to impress people around here.

We three ‘talk story’ until the early morning hours.
Uriah speaks of ‘eating Mushies and dancing naked among the Bubble Gum tree forest in Hana.’
He surprises me by asking if I really am a ‘gypsy’; in the true sense of the term, and I scan my brain in search of where he might’ve developed such an idea.
This gypsy notion, though fitting, is not true. Not precisely, anyway. We didn’t caravan around in Winnebago’s marrying within the clan, but I base this statement on the fact that I consider myself a rootless lover of the water and the turning of the tides as they desire to turn. I assert that I’ve found a deep-rooted spirit and culture within myself and have little need for the trappings of the Western World.
I’ve always claimed that it was because of this very spirit, that I’ve found settling in one spot nearly impossible.
Moreover, I’ve found that this story is appreciated in mixed company and that it is easier than explaining why I’d really turned up in a place.
So I’d told the story that first night.
But I hadn’t realized that Uriah had heard.
His meat had been on the grill, but his adoring subjects had surrounded him on all sides as I’d spoken, which I know because I was spying him, and I was sure he’d not even glimpsed in my direction. Which I’d hated.
But apparently, Uriah was something of a gypsy-soul himself. And we gypsies can be in many places at one time.
And, in that moment, Uriah had been with me.

I am glad that Uriah is here.
In the universal sense and physical sense. The Man from New York is thrilled to have someone to talk about fish and aliens and recycling with, which I also seem to enjoy discussing a lot more in a third party setting than I do privately. Because for me, that feels superficial and easy. It just doesn’t light my soul fire.
But for The Man from New York, it feels natural and necessary. He feels…lacking without it.
And now he is satiated.

And now, onto me…and my satiation…
I feel I may have to travel further than the enchanted walkway, past the Fishers and the Nomads, into the sea (obviously) but perhaps in the opposite direction as well.
There is more. And I’m getting warmer…

Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure.  But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it.  Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer. ~Shunryu Suzuki

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Vanity, Insanity and the Plight of Being Uncomfortably Numb…

Posted on April 14, 2009

Natural State of Things...

Natural State of Things...

The Girl hates pain (careful, or this could get metaphorical…)
The Girl has been known to employ extreme measures in order to bury, dull, anesthetize or otherwise conceal any offending hurt, be it the mental or physical sort.

But what of the pain that one cannot hide?
What of the dis-ease which callously arranges itself all over the face?
That most impudent and cruel brand of malady, which defies even the cleverest tactical obfuscations…
This is exactly the impertinent variety of pain ailing The Girl, at present.

The dentist and her drill have turned my previously soft and impressionable face into a distorted, engorged, and distended shadow of itself.

The prescription painkillers have effectively assuaged a reasonable amount of the physical ache, but seem to be doing little to relieve my visual and mental discomfort.
I study myself in the looking glass, and imagine my misshapen face as though it were a chaotic, dream-like representation depicted by Salvador Dali’. By turns revered and reviled, Dali’s overstated flamboyance has always intoxicated me personally, and I have an inking that he might be equally as intoxicated by my current oddity.
This thought makes me smile in spite of myself, but the expression that stares back at me is virtually unrecognizable.
My trademark ‘subtlely amused’ smirk looks ghoulish and macabre.
Perhaps I should photograph this smirk-turned-grimace and post it on the inter-web, in hopes that I might become the muse for some undiscovered and currently uninspired Surrealist painter.
We would travel the globe and he could paint portraits of my gruesome image in front of landmarks and town halls and all seven of the World’s Wonders.

Time magazine will put us on the cover of their December 2011 issue under the headline,“The Face of the Apocalypse and the Man who made it so…”
Gypsies and circus freaks will send me fan mail and praise me as their idol.
People magazine will dedicate a side bar in their annual ’50 Most Beautiful’ issue to me and my “Least Perfect Golden Ratio” which, even before the issue hits stands, is sure to be the newest trend in cosmetic surgery. Women will flock to their local plastic surgeons begging for their natural proportions to be mathematically warped, until they are satisfactorily maimed and disfigured.

I forcibly shake myself from this reverie, lest I get too excited about the possibilities of living life as the new-age archetype of post-modern anti-perfection.

I resign myself to pretending that I am recovering on “The Swan” (arguably the most obnoxious ‘reality’ show EVER.) I once read that all glossy or potentially reflective surfaces (including utensils, shiny plastic, or laminate of any sort) were banned from the recovery house, so that the contestants had no idea what they looked like until the big reveal in the finale. Perhaps I might do well to apply that tactic to my own convalescence.

I lie on my bed as my brain sifts aimlessly through the dossier of nascent thoughts I’d haphazardly filed away for ‘further ponderance at a later time,’ until it happens upon one of interest.
A friend recently solicited my opinion on the value of propelling the plot of a story forward at all costs, regardless of how many characters are destroyed en route.
Her initial inquiry was broached with respect to a television show we are mutually obsessed with, but I found it challenging to answer her solely within that context; a fact which I made clear in my reply, but later lamented when I did consider the thing as the thing, sans extenuating circumstances.
My (partial) initial and fully loaded response is below:

“I find it hard to address your ‘plot at all cost and destroying characters to get there’ query objectively. But, since this is really an opinion and I know you aren’t seeking hard and fast answers, I shall give you mine. Here goes:
I think it’s necessary. I tend to correlate everything on the show to life, and in life, sometimes we must go against ourselves and others (or Others) to move the story along. To get to the next space…
We make choices that we know are ‘wrong,’ or we stick with an ideal that we’ve ceased believing is ‘proper’, simply because we refuse to acknowledge that what we thought we knew, was ill-conceived. And often, we’d rather accept the consequence of these familiar choices, than give over to a new way of thinking. Little by little this destroys bits of our innate being and innocence. We affect our personal plot lines shift our storylines with every decision we make. We introduce new characters and ‘destroy’ others. I don’t always like it but I don’t know if there’s any other way.”

In retrospect, while I maintain my afore stated stance with regard to certain aspects of life, I cannot help but wonder if plot turns, puzzles and mysteries aren’t less interesting when the protagonists who drive them have become contrived, pseudo-versions of their former selves…
When does one draw the line on principles (eff you, principles!) and man-up to nature?
Why do we numb our pain and make decisions based on our deadened perceptions rather than truly feel our despair and allow it to create the story?
Why kill our innate good OR evil in favour of utter dispassion?
Since when is a fruit that is grown like a grape and tastes like a grape, called an apple just because it looks like an apple? The preceding question was brought to you by Rx painkillers
Still, in defense of the passion and the pain and apple and the grape, this numbing, this wholly un-sensational murder of sensation, is appalling.
It is the physical version of inducing ignorance.
And though ignorance may be a reason; it is never an excuse.
So what then, is my excuse?
How might I justify introducing this faux-tranquility to that which riles me so?
Why must I blunt the force of my ugliness, just because it threatens me?
Why does Vanity provide reason towards the unreasonable?
Today, when I called upon her to dissuade my internal anarchist from rearing its swollen, disjointed face; I learned that Vanity was out sick.
And with no positive imagery being mirrored back to sway my thoughts on the matter, I acknowledge that I’ve the same degree of internal disorder whether my externals appear orderly or otherwise.
And suddenly, I feel an odd zing, a fast flash, a quick sizzle, if you will, surrounding the possibilities that await once the effects of this numbing agent subside.
I shall explore. I shall spelunk through my ugliness in hopes of finding my innate cave-dwelling crystals.

I shall…hope that I do not heed the call of my ‘pain’ and pop another of those tablets before I get to the caves in the first place; an option which grows more and more appealing as the seconds pass.
It’s getting late. And my swelling appears to have abated a bit…

“I always keep a supply of stimulant handy in case I see a snake, which I also keep handy.” W. C. Fields

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