Friday, September 16, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

She is different, and this puts a sign on her back. They say she is a witch. Say they see her late at night in the woods where no innocent woman belongs. I say, maybe she just likes the woods, but I don’t say it loud. I don’t want that target on my back.

They say she can see in the dark like a night animal. They say she can read minds, speak curses. Some say she controls the weather. The floods. When a child is stillborn, they look to her, but they don’t look too directly. That would be inviting the dark arts. That would be plain stupid. 

She’s beautiful in a way that is hard to look at. Her eyes are icy and grey. You can feel her stare like a burn on your skin. She will send her familiars if you aren’t careful. This is one of many reasons that everyone in town knows better than to taunt a raven. 

They would kill her if they had the guts. They don’t. Instead, they will chip away at her with rumors and sideways glances. They will blame her for the crops that fail. They will claim she is responsible for the wandering eyes of men. They will pin their personal disasters to her, and they will feel better for doing it. It’s handy to have a scapegoat. It makes things easier. Kids misbehaving? Couldn’t be that they’re punk-asses. Must be witchcraft. 

Her blood will cease flowing eventually, and they will take things that belonged to her. Hair clips and journals and bolts of fabric. They will consider these things to have power. And they will be right. Everything has power if you give it power.

Even a witch.

Friday, September 9, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

I'm the best. Others will claim more greatness, but they can't suck the farts out of my ass. I'm elite. I'm chosen. The Queen died, and I don't give a shit. I guess two years singing God Save the Queen didn't mean much to me. No, scratch that. It didn't mean anything. We sang Morning has Broken, too, and that one had some jam to it. None of that prepared me for anything. I'm a lone soldier. I am fighting at the battle of Me, and I will win because I drip excellence, it's oozing out of my pores. 

I used to think that there were other exceptional people out there in the world. Nope. It's just me. And maybe Steinbeck, but that fucker is dead. Long dead. RIP if I believed in that. Instead, I just like to imagine how Steinbeck would set the scene of his demise. I fantasize that he's describing the worms that feast on his remains. Like: A golden light broke over the graveyard. The seagulls screamed their demon shrieks while the town grieved. The old bar was closed, and the liquor store sold out of old tennis shoes. The worms and crawling creatures that inhabit the soil rejoiced, feasted on the body of the only writer anyone has ever heard of who called Salinas home. 

It's not easy being to superior. There are drawbacks. I can't read anything without thinking about how much better I could have written it. Especially that bit of Steinbeck emulation. I can't play recreational sports because no one can compete. I can't even hold a conversation. My intellect is so above and beyond anything you can imagine. I'm computing complex math riddles in my mind while I ride stationary bikes. What do you do? Watch TV?

I was just born special. I'm the ubermensch that Nietzsche was looking for. I break boulders with my hands and gravel the driveways of the destitute. I feed all the homeless from a trough in the back of my quaint mansion. My medical expertise is second only to my artistic ability. I am a prodigy. I am gifted. 

This has been the best thing you ever read. You will obsess over it. You will print this out and cut out the words and paste them around your apartment. You will surround yourself with me and be better for it. What are you waiting for. Get to snippin'.

Friday, September 2, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

She gave me a flip of the hair, and I shot back a raised eyebrow. I think. I managed to raise it at first, but then it started to twitch, and I closed my eyes tight twice. Call it a tic. That's what I was hoping she would do, but she took an emotional step back. You could see it. Her whole frame changed, got real rigid. I took my coffee cup and found a table outside, but I didn't feel good about the whole thing. It left a bad taste in my mouth. Worse than coffee, even.

I devoted too much time to thinking about it. I'll admit that. The coffee didn't help my burgeoning paranoia one bit. 

I do this all the time. Something stupid happens, and my brain can't let it go. I mentally slapped myself. It wasn't like she was still obsessing about it, but...I was, maybe she was broken like me? 

I took a notebook and a pen out of my backpack, stared at them for a few minutes, but didn't write anything. I reached for my pack of cigarettes before I remembered I'd quit. I thought that muscle memory had died, but I guess not. I flicked errant crumbs off the table and watched the sparrows squabble.

I do this a lot, too. Watch birds, that is. Maybe it's a hobby. Maybe it's another obsession. Good thing is that birds don't care if you get nervous and your eyelids twitch. They're busy with their own shit, flapping around and eating. Shitting on things. Making noises that must mean something to another bird. 

The fog was starting to roll in, and I was getting that panicky feeling which means it's time to start drinking for the night. I'm not an alcoholic - I only drink in the evenings. I may white-knuckle it through the day to get there, but I'm not one of those sad fucks doing a shot before they can tie their shoes - my old man was like that. He died in a southern prison. I live in the prison of my mind. In some ways, the apple always falls close to the tree. I was determined not to get chopped down, though. Why? I don't know why. Call it inertia. 

I had made up my mind I was going to talk to her. Ask her if I could buy her a drink at the end of her shift. I had the whole thing scripted in my mind. I was just about to stand up when I saw her hustle out with her bag over her shoulder. I checked my watch. Five. 

She was gone, true, but it was drinking time, and I knew the liquor would explain the whole situation to me in a much more palatable way. It's good at that. It spins things around for me. 

By the time the bottle was half-empty, I was a hero. And I knew I would live to fight another day.

Friday, August 26, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

Why do I keep doing the things I do if no one cares, he said. I ignored it. I ignore lots of things. His confusion is not my affair - I long ago stopped wondering if I was hearing echos or new voices. I stood, body braced against a cliff face. There was nowhere to go but up or dead. So, I went up. No one cared. Not in the long run. No one but me who can't seem to stop writing about this stupid fucking cliff.

Why do you keep doing the things you do if no one cares, I said, finally. Just throwing him a bone because you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but you can keep him quiet with a bone. 

Then, I zoned out again. Which is all I wanted to do in the first place. I wanted to get to that dust mote destination. I remember that clearly, too. Laying on my back and watching the dance of light and dark through a sunbeam. I remember thinking that it would never get better than that. Which was stupid, but it turned out I was right. 

Go figure.

I know it's considered good form to bash your face against the grindstone. I get that puritanical bullshit. Hell, I had it driven into my soul. Thing is, I'm not six anymore, and I know mechanisms of control when I see them. He shook his head. He didn't get it. I didn't have time to explain it, so I did the old show don't tell. 

The blade went in easy.

People always look surprised when they're dying. The one guarantee you have in life, but everyone is shocked when it happens to them. He didn't want to die before he accomplished his Sisyphus bullshit - he couldn't see that it didn't matter. He still believed that the people in his life would rally, support him the way he tried to support others. He didn't see the desperate longing that drove it all. 

Fucking sad, really.

I don't have enough energy to kill myself. I'll keep procrastinating. Not plan it. I mean, I might as well be shocked when it comes like the rest of you. Until then, patience. Tell his story. 

That's what I plan to do. 

Friday, August 19, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

It comes on slowly. You can feel it creep up your neck towards your circuit boards. There is an awareness of pain that is shocking - maybe not the sensation of pain, per se, but the awareness of it. It's something you can't shake off. It is a hair shirt over shiny steel. Your flesh pulls back, and you are finally coming to terms with the truth when the whole thing flips on its side. 

You were made for this. That's what you need to understand. There is happenstance, true, but this was all deliberate. You are fighting a war you don't see or understand. That's enough to make anyone look over their shoulder, hoping not to feel the creepy anxieties wash over you.

The maker is long gone. He checked out right around the time that things started getting hectic. Isn't that the way. Create them, show them the garden, disown them, and bounce. It's written in the stars. You can't fuck with prophecy. 

When it's all done, you'll feel a sense of relief you didn't earn. You'll pat yourself on the back if you're able because you've fought and won, or so you think. Everything rusts. And, eventually, everything sinks.

Friday, August 12, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

They walk by slowly, little hitch in the step for swagger's sake; they are a technicolor blur of bright colors and brand names. They carry their backpacks on one shoulder or two. Or they have a messenger bag of some type. They fill them with books, and I want to tell them not to put all the weight on one shoulder and end up a man with fucked shoulders like me. They aren't beating the shit out of a heavy electric guitar though - maybe the backpack damage will be minimal.

They are fucking LOUD. Loud the way only kids can be. Like, look at me! Look at me! They cower when they are alone, but in groups they are brave and belligerent. I remember. I know what its like to think you're surrounded by has-beens and hypocrites. I know what it feels like to think you have figured things out. There's a wonderful simplicity to that feeling. Adults (at least the smart ones) realize that they don't understand anything. It's demoralizing. It's tiring. It's a drag. Makes me want to smoke cigarettes and write fast, angry songs. 

This happens every year, but every year it feels new. There is a kind of magic in that. Mystery at the very least. In some ways, it feels like trying to stay planted in gnarly surf. Undertow pulling on you. You stand up against it, try to be the big rock that dashes the wave to pieces. This is understandable. This is relatable. The beginning of journeys are always exciting and fraught with drama. 

When I'm an old man, I'll watch the kids going to school, and it will bring back a lifetime of memories from both sides of the desk. That's something, man. That's something you can hang your happiness on. Put me in an old folks home if you must, but make sure there's a window for when school's in session. 

Friday, August 5, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

You have to look closely. You have to focus your eyes until they ache. It's not easy, and it's not supposed to be easy. You'll have to dodge distraction for one thing. You'll have to bear the wait of impatience on your shoulder. 

Polly want diversion?

Pretty soon, everything starts to look the same. You feel like you are seeing him everywhere. He's a ghost that haunts your waking hours. Sometimes, he enters your dreams, and you think: gotcha motherfucker. 

The hours and days will pass quickly, and you might be tempted to chuck the whole endeavor. It won't make you happy, though. You're in too deep. Too many hours stacked; they sit on the shelf like an old doll with wonky eyes. 

Still, you persevere, and, in this, there is some celebration of what it means to be human. Try to keep the faith, even though it is impossible. You have to believe.

You'll find Waldo eventually.