Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Accident

Time didn't matter any more. Blind and bedridden, Allen slept when he could and tried to ignore the blipping of machines when he couldn't. The blindness was still new and it astounded him. It was so powerful. It took so much and gave so much. He could hear conversations from fifty feet away. He could smell the rib joint at the end of the block. He had never imagined before that there was so much to see just inside his own head.

Nurses fluttered in and out. He could not see them of course, but it made him picture a soft summer afternoon, drifting in and out of a nap, watching the thin curtains billow and then retract. This is how he saw the nurses. Occasionally, he imagined them as old time nurses with white uniforms and the little hats. He would never have been able to connect the soft, caring hands with green scrubs and neck tattoos. The blindness was a blessing.

Pain. A lot of time to think about pain. Everyone experiences pain, but not everyone gets to experience real  pain. The accident had left Allen broken. His pelvis, shattered. Legs snapped. Spine a jumbled mess of jigsaw laziness. His pain was a vibrant, living thing. It made his breath catch. Sometimes, a muscle would spasm and his brain would erupt into a bright, ungodly red. Throbbing. He would grind his teeth and swallow it. Sometimes, the pain would turn him off. Blackness. Sometimes, the nurses would.

He liked the pain, though. That's what they didn't understand. They were always pushing morphine on him. And pills. The morphine was unavoidable. He always said no, sometimes they listened. The pills were easily disposed of. He liked to wake into the think, why God? Why me? And then to remember. To have the remembering wash over him like acid.

The doctors came by. They liked to look at him. Amaze each other with the details. A man that should, by all rights, be dead. And he would focus on the pain. He would dive into the bloody madness of it. And sometimes, the pain almost made it OK. His mistake. Their lives.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Old Man

The wind cut the sunshine...sliced it clean in half. I was sitting on a pier...I liked sitting on piers. The gulls were laughing and my collar was up, neck hunched down. I didn't hear him coming, but it didn't surprise me either. He was wearing his old down jacket. No hat. Of course.

"You need to come back home, son."
"Fuck! What the fuck do you mean 'why?'...cause that's where you fucking live..."

His voice trailed off near the end, as heads turned toward us. He smiled and shrugged. No one cared. He put his hand on my shoulder, which I practically dislocated shaking free. He wrapped his fist in the front of my windbreaker. I was on my feet before I could think.

"Don't what, Nancy?"
"Don't fucking touch me."

I turned and started walking away, but he followed.

"You're a fucking tough guy now, eh?"
"You sure? You talk like you're a fucking tough guy."

His fingers were curled. His hands itching for it, you could see it. He walked forward until our noses were almost touching and jabbed me in the chest. I looked into his eyes and laughed.

"Something funny?"
"You know what, Dad? You're a fucking bully. You've always been a bully. But you're old now. I'm bigger than you are. I'm sure as hell stronger than you are..."
"So, you touch me again...ever...and I will kick the living shit out of you. Got it?"

His eyes narrowed and then grew wide. You could see it registering. I had four inches and twenty pounds on him now. I lifted weights every day. I moved even closer to him, his eyes level with my nose.

"Do you get it, old man? You don't have the power any more."
"As long as you live under my roof..."
"I'm working on that part, don't worry."

He was shaking with anger and suddenly the whole thing was hilarious. I had felt small for so long; it had happened without my realizing it. I felt a little sorry for him. A little. 

"Hey, bud...sit back down..."
"By blood, old man. By blood."

I pulled a cigarette from my pocket and lit it. He winced. It felt good. I turned around and starting walking, but he didn't follow. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I don't need you to tell me shit. I already know what you're going to say and then what you'll follow with, I can see it all in silver, shimmering silkworm strings. Your opinion means little to me and so much means little to you except you. You mean everything.

With that fucking look again. I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to laugh, cry, or call a doctor. Maybe all three. I'll watch your eyeballs roll down me until they're plop on the floor. Then, you can look up to me.

I am eschewing all human contact. Scuttle back to your holes. I want none of it. Your weak-kneed excuses and mental travails. It all makes me tired. The kind of tired that you want to fall into because the blackness is so deep.

Shit and grasshoppers, son. That's no way to tie a fishing line. Who the hell taught you to do that?

I've been hanging with the wrong crowd, and I got the stink on me. That's what you say. That's what you look like. Save the broken artifice for someone who needs a cause. I already got one.

Play your cards, son. Play your cards. I don't care if it's UNO, you play 'em and you hope just like the rest of us. Heart attacks don't give a fuck about your bank account. Your kids aren't gonna thank you. You'll feel good about the whole thing, though. Stigmata.

So, ramble on Billy boy, and fuck the folks behind you. We're going on a rabble rouse and you're not invited. You're old news and no one wants to hear your shit. It pours from your mouth like sickness. You are sick. That is why you are tolerated. You are the old dog that no one has the heart to shoot.

Stare at the sun and let it burn you. Why should you be any different? What makes you so goddamn special? Pick up a shovel, like the rest of us, and start digging. You're gonna need somewhere to sleep.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Deal

He sat in the driver's seat, music low, telling himself this wasn't insane. Paul put the money under an old coffee cup in the holder. He didn't know this dude. Had never seen him before. He tried to breathe evenly...worst case scenario, robbed. Not like anyone is going to kill a stranger in a busy Chevron parking lot. Not like the cops give a fuck.

He saw the man in the rearview mirror. He was big, but not muscle big. His skin was the color of Fall. Black coat, black cap. Paul unlocked the passenger side door and the big man slid in with surprising agility. He reeked like weed...good sign. They did the fist pound. One potato, two potato style. Paul fucked it up.

"You Paul?"
"Yeah, man...what's good?"
"Man, I'm telling you. The purple is fire. Straight fire, man. It's all good, but this is the top shelf. You know...we all about the indica in the Bay."
"Right. Can I ask you something?"
"What up?"
"You advertise on Craigslist...that doesn't, like, sketch you out a little?
"Naw man, you just gotta be careful. You can tell, you know. I knew when I talked to you yesterday you was legit."
"You didn't ask no stupid questions. You didn't want to meet right away. You didn't ask me to break the 'ounce rule'...BTW, now I know you straight, so you can buy as much as you want. But that's it, man; you can tell the cops easy. And my boy is over there in that car, so I ain't much concerned, feel me?"
"Yeah, I feel you."

Paul could practically feel the red dot on the back of his head. The big man slapped a ziplock bag into his hands. The car was thick with the smell of it...he looked inside and a smile spread slowly over his face. Magma.

"Yup, that's some good shit, man."
"The best. $35 an eighth, $55 for a quarter, $100 for a half..."
"The money is under the cup, man."

The thick fingers thumbed the twenties.

"You can count it...I would."
"Alright, brother. Your number is in my phone now. Call me anytime. I threw in a gram for making the drive."
"Right on...respect, brother. I'll be in touch."

Paul got the handshake right the second time. He pulled out of the gas station as the man got back in a very nice car. He pulled over when he got around the corner. He laughed and pulled the bag out from the seatback where he'd stashed it. He pulled a bud out and held it up to the sun. Fire. He put the bag in a tupperware container and pulled back onto the main road.

Jesus, Paul thought, you really can get anything on Craigslist.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Shadow Moon

The sky is so clear, blue to the point of absurdity...a faint outline of mottled moon hangs above the tree-line. I am friends with the moon. I have spent many hours, lying flat on my back, grass tickling my neck, staring at it.

Sometimes, where I live, the moon is bashful, hidden behind wisps of cloud...a cotton ball stretched to infinity. The moon hides, appearing in brief flashes, coloring the whole of the cloud-soaked sky. A blanket of vapor. I have never seen this anywhere else.

I always point the moon out to people because, well, some people don't look UP. I'll never understand it. My daughter is impressed that I see deer, frogs, hawks, sunsets. I am teaching her to look. So, I tell people to look at the moon, considering it a favor, and they often look at me like I am insane. There are some things I will never understand.

Past the pigeon palaces and shift-eyed beat cop malices...the lyrics come back when I first awake. I don't know why. My mind resists waking because it likes to play. I don't blame it.

This past week has been one of the most bizarre of my life. I have seen my neighbors cry, rage, laugh, comfort, and accept. None of these things are easy to do. None of it is easy to watch.

I have accepted my age. This week, perhaps for the first time. In exactly two weeks I will be 35. The winter solstice will usher in a new age of epiphanies and shortcomings. I want to help carry furniture, but I have injured my back to the point that I can't. I would still do it, but my wife won't let me. And she's right. The pigeons are coming home to roost.

You pay for your sins and you hope you will be rewarded for your triumphs, but sometimes you get both and sometimes neither. I've spent Christmas Eve in the ER more than anyone should. That's not going to happen this year. I feel a strange, sniveling pride. You take it where you can get it.

You can't go back and revise your life. I'm glad. I would probably change things that shouldn't be changed. I'm happy with the voyage that has brought me here. So what...I've traded some cynicism for a little hope. Cashed in some brain cells. You live with the choices you make. You live with the choices you don't get to make, too.

It's been an odd week, and a dose of sunshine does a lot of good. I am wiser now than I was a week ago. I have seen the power of nature. I have seen the compassion in people. And life goes on. The good parts and the bad. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The web...

There is one leaf gently bopping on my tree. I'd say undulating, but I've never liked that word. It's overcast and I'm sitting here thinking about people. We're a pretty amazing lot. We come in all sizes and shapes. Different levels of pigmentation. Different beliefs. But in the heart, where it really matters, most people are pretty similar.

We worry. We laugh. We like to watch small children do the things that we used to do. We appreciate when someone makes us laugh on a rough day. We love least the good kind. We are not as selfish as we seem, it just takes a good kick in the butt to remind us to be human sometimes.

One of the things I have always liked about apartments is that you can see your neighbors. When we lived in San Francisco, our apartment faced another complex across the street and we saw everything our neighbors did. And vice versa. Pretty much everything, I should say. We named them all. Sometimes we waved. Sometimes they hollered when I played guitar too loud. Mostly good hollers.

Sometimes I think about the web. That's how I see it in my mind. Each of our lives intersect with so many others. There is a liquor store across the street and I know the people that work there pretty well. They know I have a cat (we always forget to buy litter). They are nice to my girls. Then there are the people at Safeway, the deli, the bait shop...and, of course, there are neighbors.

You really realize this when you have a four year old. I spend a lot of time pretending to be people who would never imagine in a million years that a whole family is playing a game that involves them. "You be the guy from Target with the hat, Dadda!"

When bad things happen: death, illness, tragedy...our differences seem to vanish almost instantly. It no longer matters who thinks socialized medicine is a good idea or what sports team wins some silly game. Thrown into a cage together, many animals will fight to the death. Humans generally find their commonalities and cling to them. And we never know, except in brief moments of clarity, who is in our web.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I can hear the rain in the gutters, a soft ticking, flash images of the old days in the news room. I wonder where my electric typewriter is...

Contrast. I think it is all about contrast. Grey skies make colors sharper, smiles warmer...hugs last a little bit longer these days.

Rain is an interesting enigma. The central valley gasps for it, children play in it, adults run from it. And when those rain drops get together to form a gang, there is no stopping them.

It's our fault in a way. No one said to build roads and houses. Used to be the rain could go wherever it wanted. Water was everything, carving canyons and reshaping the world.

You can't be mad at water. You just can't. You can't be mad, period. Things happen...things that we have no control over. This makes life both exciting and terrifying. It is what it is.

A lot has happened in three days. A lot, but not enough.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


It is hard to watch people suffer when you are NOT suffering. Because of an arbitrary choice. My Paupa always said to buy a house on a hill. I can't afford a house, but I have always lived on the second floor. One tiny decision...a signature on a lease...and we escaped the water that our neighbors couldn't.

It is hard to sleep at night, snuggled up with cat and family, knowing that downstairs there are people realizing that they will never get back what they lost. And it isn't even just the "stuff". The worst thing to lose is the feeling that everything will be OK.

There have been, and will be, far greater tragedies than what happened here. But we try to ignore the possibility.  And we succeed for the most part. Hell, I've lived half my life knowing that a huge earthquake is coming...scant miles from a fault line. And it is...coming.

But the immediate problems...and well, a wise woman said it was bad timing. And that seems like a strange way to think, but she was right. This is a time of year when people should be happy, warm, looking forward to lights and parties and a new year.

It is what it is. Everybody gets their turn. We ducked it this time. I am left only with an impotent frustration. The 'what ifs'. What if I'd checked the storm drain before the storm came? What if the city had kept it clear? What if we lived on higher ground?

It is a strange thing, this lingering frustration. Tragedy and redemption. The story of humanity.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The water...

You wake up at four to the storm, bleary-eyed and awe of it. The band-saw wind and the dancing trees; you're grateful to be inside, staring out the mottled window for a few minutes before you return to sleep. Thinking about water. Magic, really. It is our friend. Except when it is not.

Sunday morning, you stroll outside. Your daughter wanted to jump in puddles, but they were drying up. The sun was trying to set things right. And then you saw the video. Waves of water coursing through the parking lot, up to the fenders on your motorcycle...your neighbors car with it's bumper near torn off. But you didn't connect it, see. Not on a sunny Sunday morning. Just: "Wow, look at all that water." And then on to Christmas errands. You didn't think what it was like on the first floor.

Driving past broken trees and castaway cars on the freeway. That cold feeling is starting to play chopsticks on your spine. Your cell phone rings and your wife tells you that all your neighbors' furniture is outside. Firetrucks and cleanup crews. Now, it's real. Life on the second floor goes on, but your downstairs neighbors are standing shell-shocked, trying to decide what is salvageable. Trying to smile. Doing a surprisingly good job, considering.

And now the stories are starting. Christmas presents ruined. Furniture decaying. Sewage contamination. And you're up there on the second floor, and you're trying to find the world's biggest bandaid.

Sure, it's painful. You start thinking about the kids who won't get the presents their parents saved for. You try to put yourself in those shoes...everything gone. You wonder what the water took. Furniture can be replaced. What about photo albums? What about the drawings your children did? What about the feeling of security? What about the storm that is still coming...?

It's the people that break your heart, though. They're not complaining. They're helping each other, sharing food and trying to make sense of it. They're smiling and laughing with shock-wide eyes. But they won't be beaten by the water. And now you understand more than ever what the word 'neighbor' means.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

You know it when you see it...

You probably think I don't remember...and that would be a safe bet...but I do. I remember the tight feeling in my chest, thinking how absurd it was to pretend to be looking at books when I really did go to bookstores all the time to look at books. But I wasn't interested in the books at your store.

I remember thinking that I had never seen anyone do a shitty job with such devotion and care. That's a weird thing to remember, granted, but it was my first impression. Respect. Followed by softer realizations, ushered in on fluttering wings. Soft, tender things. Smiles. Brave in the face of a complicated life.

Kindness. There is nothing as beautiful. I was sad in the way that you become accustomed to. I didn't realize that I was. I had friends, and I worked with kids whose eyes shone with a kind of demented hope. Hurting, I was surrounded by beauty and still you stood out.

There are some things I will never forget. Eugene approved...he's a tough sell sometimes. I liked to talk to you. I let you read my stories when no one read them except Pat and sometimes my family. I liked the way you called me on my shit. And I liked it when you knew to just let it ride.

Time is a subtle deception and, in hindsight, I knew that it was going to happen. I put it off because I was afraid, but part of me knew that we'd end up here. And 'here' is not a place. It is a kind of life. The kind I always wanted, but was afraid to ask for.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Present

Rolling on the memory of a distant disaster. Clear the taste from your mouth. You remember it, yeah? That look. The one that made your chest deflate. A little animosity and a lot of pity. You holding that little box like a stupid motherfucker. Ain't gonna change shit.

It seemed simple, didn't it? All kinds of ways to rationalize it until you have to look her in the eyes and your eyes are twitching like tweaker vertigo. And you huh? and well... and look here! and you're the fucking problem.

She's not gonna get over it, man. You need to own that. You need to climb inside it, a cave the light won't reach. You need to feel the pain. You bought it.

It all seemed easy. All that soft flesh and the smell...vanilla and flowers or something. Something that reminded you of childhood cookies and jerking off to Vogue. You were nervous. I understand that. That was part of it, huh? That searing tickle in your subconscious. The sweaty palms. You let her call the shots...why not, you were paying for it. Let her do her job. It all made sense until it was clean up time.

So, now everyone has lost respect for you. And you weasel and make excuses and no one fucking cares.

You killed it, slaughtered it. You're hanging in the closet with your dick in your hand. You're waiting for a second chance, but you're on your twentieth, brother. She was the one who saved you. She held your hand in the ER while you made promises you were already breaking in your mind. She stuck it out. There was only one thing that could have destroyed it, and you did it anyway.

Seven minutes. You get that don't you, dumbfuck? You traded decades for minutes. You're eating frozen dinners in a shit hole apartment. You invited yourself to this party of one. Now, you're drunk and you're telling me and I don't even know you, let alone give a shit about your pussy problems. I got problems of my own.

Keep buying drinks, and I'll keep nodding and silently judging you, swirling my black robes. I am the fucking acolyte. I will be your reflection for a moment. That's all I'll do. That's all you deserve.

It's getting hazy now. You're getting lazy now. You built yourself a victim to climb inside and you think that will get you through the years. Lie to yourself all you want. You're still gonna wake up sweating, thinking about her. You're still gonna see her new husband's face. See him playing with your kids. Wondering if they like him better than you. And guess what? They probably do. The only person who still likes you is you.

Friend? You throw it out like trash, that precious word. I'm not your friend. I'm the fucking ghost in the machine, and I will fuck your mind because you deserve it. And that's my trip, see? I am the solitary judge. I am incapable of human compassion or guile.

You're not gonna like it, but I don't give a shit. I don't even exist, and you're propped up on the toilet leaking from every part of your body. You want to kill yourself, but you can't find the nerve. You get skittish like a dust dawn foal. You're flitting away like summer bats.

You show up drunk at their house on Christmas Eve and you expect everything to be cool. You can't see through the film of liquor sweat that is covering your eyes, your covers everything. You don't see the little faces looking out the window. You don't know that she's in the bathroom crying. You want to fight him, but he's bigger than you. And he's not even mad. You want to fight him, but he's helping you. Just go home and sober up, bud. Don't come here like this. It's not fair. He's right and you slink off into the night.

You open your mouth and the vomit pours down your chest. You open your mouth to scream and the demons force their way out. But you'll never get them all out. So, you might as well do it. You might as well. But you don't. You wake up to the sounds of children laughing, playing with their new toys.

You are alone. You earned it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


He watched from the shadows. I could see the smiling face...big, open features. Simplicity. Something missing. Smile with broken teeth. It made his skin slick. It opened up a fear in him. Why was the boy watching? What did he want to see? Was he controlling it?

The axe handle demolished the old man's skull. He had been sleeping, wrapped in old newspapers. The axe handle tapped against the concrete for several minutes before I saw him. Behind a dumpster, the pale face with a pleading smile. He felt strength as he looked at the dead man. Skull, split open...a burning in the throat. Sickness. I beat the dead body until it was mush. Under the newspapers there was a small kitten. Pure white. I looked at the face. The boy was laughing, tears streaming down his cheeks.

I didn't bother to look anymore. I could feel the boy's presence. He could sense the direction I was headed and knew it was the right one. Deeper into the mind. He did not want to be afraid, so he pushed himself. His killing became more sophisticated. Drawn out. We learned to use a knife. I took the ones that would not be missed and he carved them into bloodscape in my garage. The boy looked through the window with wide, blank eyes.

He was there. I'd swear to it.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Just between us, it was always that way. Yelling and cussing and all kinds of bullshit. A man gets to where he can't think with all the spitting and howling. My old man, red-faced and ugly. But it was frustrating. The bastard couldn't even do the simple shit. Couldn't feed himself. Never could keep clean. Always smelled like spoilt milk and caked-on shit. He got a little better as he got older. And then he was old enough to be about six, really. And I didn't want to do it. But I did it. I took him in because Momma would have wanted it. She always said he was getting better. She was wrong. He was always the same. Maybe he could keep himself clean now, but that ain't much.

Even when we were kids, he was a stone around my neck. Had to take him everywhere. He'd be drooling and smiling, giggling to himself. He always hung on to me. Every once in a while someone would fuck with him, and I'd beat the holy hell out of them. He may have been a fucking retard...he may be a fucking retard. That's my call. My brother.

Every night I tuck him into bed, and I curse my Momma for dying. I look into those big soft eyes, and I wish that things could be different. But they aren't. It's the same every night. Get your hand off your dick, Johnny, Jesus. Then he'd be hugging all over me and we'd start smiling. I'd try not to laugh, but damn if it wasn't funny. See, he is in there. He knows when he's being funny and when he's not. The kids in school never understood that. Neither did Pop.

He started getting sick out of nowhere. One day his skin was just all pale and purpled up. He never complained about it, but it didn't look right. I finally took him to the Doc. They didn't know shit, so we went back home. I put him to bed and told him to take his hand off his dick. He tried to hug on me, but you could tell he was weak. Trembling. I'd never seen him look scared before. I reckon I held him most of that night. We woke up side by side.

I sat in my room and told myself it was for the best. Life without Johnny. That's what I'd always wanted. But I hadn't. Deep down, I'd always known. Now it was real. It had edges, sharp ones. I took some time off work, and I made that boy soup and hot tea and milkshakes and he just got smaller and smaller. He was shrinking and I couldn't even talk any more without a clutch in my throat.

It happened during the night. He didn't come out to breakfast one morning, and I knew. So, I went in there and he was laying real peaceful. His face was smooth and calm like a river stone. Cold like it, too. My insides were all churned up. I wanted to feel pain...I sat on that bed for hours with his head in my lap. I looked at his face blur in and out with my tears.

It's been a while now. Things don't sit right with me. I can't eat. Nothing's the same anymore. I can't read the funnies and show off the good ones. There's no one to sit on the porch with. All those years of me wanting to cut and run. I guess I was fooling myself. Johnny knew the score all along.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The tree outside will shed its hide, but not before gold and red shine through the streaked glass of my window, chasing green. Not before I open this up...

It's like gutting a fish. You hold the cold, slimy glow in your hands and slide a knife in slowly. You remove the things inside: red, black, shining, beautiful. If you have a heart, you kill the fish first. A sharp knock to the head will do it.

It's a parade of one, and the simple folk get mesmerized by its scope and its size. But it's nothing really. An illusion. Something you create while your children wait, wishing they didn't have to.

It's a quick, heartless blow. That's the thing. Mercy killing. You feel it already, I know that. As the sycophants turn their heads to the next shit-throwing monkey.

I don't kill fish unless I am hungry. I don't jive with violence or pretense. You went to the top of the mountain and all I got was this crappy t-shirt, inert...I'm tired. All that's transpired. It's hard to swallow. But here's the deal. For every person that wants you to succeed, there are more that want you to fail. So flail, get it out, pour it out, puke it onto the pages as fast as you can because time is running out. You only get so much and you fucked so much of it up already.

Shout it, spout it, tout it on your shoulder and maybe it will seem real, that chip. Or keep telling yourself it is everyone else. Cover heart with hand, Napoleonic. I'll be here when you need that sharp knock to the head.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The New Kid

"Hey faggot!"

Head down, looking at your shoes... goddamn, if only she knew what $10 more on shoes would have meant. Don't think that way. Fuck them. Fuck the stupid shoes.

"Yo! Deaf faggot!"

Keep walking. One foot in front of the other. That's what Dad said. Like a whisper flash, your right hand slips into your pocket and wraps itself around the thick, four inch bolt. No broken fingers this time. You need to play guitar. You can't break any more fingers.

A big clod of dirt hits your backpack and explodes. You are enveloped in the dust, breathing it, feeling the sting in your eyes. You try to convince yourself the tears are from the dirt. You know what is about to happen because it has happened again and again and...

"What's your name, faggot?"

They've surrounded you now. They are about your size, but there are six of them. You squeeze the bolt and start thinking about who you should hit first. The big one looks soft. It's the little mean one. The one who keeps talking. He's the one.

"You got one more second to answer me, you piece of shit faggot..."

You look up at the sky and sigh. Why? Why does it have to be like this? You think briefly of the motley crew of friends you had in Virginia. Fuck! You're so angry you're shaking and you know what's always does.

" made the faggot cry...what's the matter faggot?"

"Leave me alone."

You're on the ground. There is a ringing sound in your ears. Now you realize that there were seven of them.

"Get up, faggot."

You think to yourself how stupid it is, but it is always exactly fucking like this. Get up so we can knock you down again. You wipe your eyes on your forearms and stand, slowly, time-lapsed motion.

"Now, what's your name faggot?"

Enough. Fucking shit. Enough already. You don't even care if they hurt you, you just want to get home where you can be alone with your books and records.

"I don't have a name."

"Good, we'll just call you faggot."

It's OK. You're used to the name. You used to wonder if it was true. You think about it. Does everyone question it? You wish you had someone to ask.

Someone pushes you down again and rips open your backpack. You lay on the warm grass and close your eyes. A kick to the stomach curls you into a tight ball. Your mind short circuits. If you had a machine gun. If you were braver. If you didn't have to fucking move all the time. If you weren't sized up on the first day of school. Wrong clothes, shoes, accent. You fucking hate it here and it has only been a week. And the week was spent waiting for the first day of school. You open your eyes and the boys are walking away, shouting.

"See you tomorrow, faggot."

The walk home is over far too quickly. You don't care that there is a beach here. You don't care that people come from all over the world to vacation here. You open the front door and try to make it to your room, but she intercepts you. She is smiling...too wide. A grand canyon of false cheer. You know it is hard on everyone, but you also know that it is hardest for you. You know that you have at least six years to go until you can just fucking leave...go somewhere and stay. She is holding a plate of cookies and a glass of milk and you want to knock the shit out of her hands. And Jerry Mathers as...the Beaver. It echos in your skull. A place inside of you turns dark and black and cold. You walk into your room and she stays where she is. You start to close the door. You cannot make eye contact.

"OK, not hungry. How was school, sweetie? Did you get any compliments on your new shoes?"


There are two choices, but you don't feel like opening the floodgates. It took most of the walk home to get it tamped down. The doorknob is loose. Of course. The door clicks shut and you can feel the pain from the hallway, but it pales in comparison to the demon song in your ears.

Monday, November 5, 2012


She realized she hadn't been breathing and took four deep breaths, letting the wind slip through her lips - a lullaby. The terror kept her glued to the ladder, white-knuckles on the slick bloody rungs. The darkness slithered through the corridors, occasionally throwing up tendrils of light..teasing. She was alone.

She ran her fingers over her chest and felt her heart pounding. She was surprised by its power. Like someone was kicking her from inside.

She could hear the rats, ticking. Their nails and teeth clacking on the hard ground. She knew that there were thousands of them. She knew they would eat anything - including each other. They were waiting for the drops of blood. Building up an appetite.

The door was locked and she wasn't sure if she could make it, but she had to try. She placed one tentative foot on the rung beneath her. Her entire body revolted against it. And then the first finger slipped.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


She moves in half-light.  Spins in the swirl of noise and strobe.  The laughter seems tarnished.  The smiles, a sticky camouflage.  She beams around the confusion.

She moves in rapid glances.  In missed caresses.  In the feeling that remains when a loved one leaves, planning never to come back. 

What tangible nothing?  What deception?  What?  Is it love?  Hogwash.  Or is it merely forgiveness?  Equally absurd.

Does it come in a bottle?

She lives a me, but what would Sartre have done?  When simple self-loathing fails.  When self-punishment is not enough.  When self-destruction only gets you halfway there...

Happiness lives in the shadows, but I can see it sometimes from my apartment.  She is elusive.  Lost in tall groves and backwood thickets. 

She becomes lost in the cross-light.  My memory implodes for the third time.  My mind is frightening to me.

Licking lips, feeling strong.  It’s all just the same old con.  Selling something you don’t have.  She sells dreams and sadness.  She sells everything but what we really need.  Is this a mother?  Is this a friend?  No more or less than anyone else.

Forced to face the frontier.  Bright lights to armageddon.  Dim lights to self-delusion.  Gas makes my car run.  Whiskey makes me run.  But what makes the whiskey run?  Who breathes the life into every rye and corn flow desecration?

Quick, look confused.  Is it the guy in the hat?  With the dirty t-shirt?  Is he hurting?  Is he lonely?  Aren’t we all?

She slinks through half-death.  I live in hell already.

Who will sing the songs of my childhood when I have forgotten the words?  When time has suffocated the sentiment.  When will these words fail me?  It’s just a matter of time.  A matter of brain cell assassination.  When the bottle is dry.  When the books are gone.

She swings by with a sideways glance.  Selling the private dance.  She says, “so, are you smart and poor?”  I tell her I’m poorer than I am smart.

What greater selfish rush than the written word?  I live as king and queen.  I bleed for myself while Christ begs for bandages.  Do we all despise me as much as I do?  Listen to how silent it is in here.  Listen, maybe, to the implied deception.

She dances in the contempt I hold for myself.

Among men, I sicken me.  I choke and gag on self-awareness.

Can I speak to you?  Or overpower you with the smell of cheap perfume?  A scent that takes you back to all those pre-pubescent Playboys.  If even I disgust myself, and pity the others?

Tap into the realm of repression.  Love yourself through the hatred others feel for you. Find a place. Or a shady spot to turn to death.

Money talks more profanity.  I prove myself to quantify a cash reduction.

She hides her beauty in obscurity.  She sluts away the easy fix.  One would hope that this means salvation.  The game is over but for the blind optimism that tempts a mortal to call the goddess down.

You are impressed by these shiny recollections.  You like to watch me drink.  To see me choke the bourbon past sobriety.  You love the weakness, but fear the beast.  We all become prostitutes or repressed.  We try to let life fill in the blanks.  But the blanks are emotion.  The loss is communion.  The love is ultraviolet.

Can you buy my love?  Can I sell it to you?  Let’s take guy #7.  Wants a woman who will reach for love and settle for the status quo.  I’m sad, but I don’t know how to tell anyone. Maybe if I pour enough whiskey down my throat they will think to ask.

Is there a damsel in distress?  A Madame lost among the dunes of hapless wandering.  Over the hill and fuck the dale.  Do you love me, or will I love the way you ignore me?

Do you want me?  Do you pretend to care?  Do you love beyond your means?  Or will you force caring to be redemption?  Wishing you could love anything, or anyone, or anywhere more than me, here and now.

Spinning in the shallows of half-remembrance.  Hunting the crayfish of horror.  Inside yourself are you uglier than outside?

Is it better to be free, while the rich drive past in gleaming German cars?  Crying for an orphanistic rabble rouse.  It’s lonely in the noose, with the conveniences that are prerequisites.

We crave the freedom, all of us, to be the round peg that fits into the round hole.  We are waiting for the scale-tipper.  Driven mad by the bet-hedgers.

She moves in halfway-there.  Dizzy from the spin.  Brain fried after all.  Ketchup covering disillusion.  I would love revenge on the stupid monkey.  I can grab a stick and bash skulls.  While you oggle and give life to disrepair.

Once upon a nightmare, bleeding.  Left to casual hatred.  Right to heaven.  Do I want to die?  Or will I hunt God down and force him to ante-up.  Don’t forget to not remember any of this.  Once upon a hogwash.

The light refracted makes less sense.  The loss of feeling, body set to purge.  Yank the rug out from my heels.  Fake left to increase the sprawl.

Put all your eggs in one basket.  Give the basket to a child.  And watch him spin toward yoked oblivion.  Paint the colors of lying.  Shade and glitter deception.  Salt my wounds and cauterize.

If there is dialogue and prophesy...  Even between a man and his notebook.

On knee, shortened--pre-shortened in slavery and servitude.  Money falls to the bottom, where we will fight and scrape and bite and betray.  Kill your fellow man.  Drink deep while the weak are falling.  Don’t pity unless you pity yourself for looking backward.

Out of all the monkeys, why us?  Why settle for the large brain?  Why pervert God’s harvest?

Why antelope?  Why tiger?  Why rapt attention and hidden resurrection?  Why pretense?  Why music?  Why beat?

Why death not insurrection?  Why life, this bland confection?  Sugary escape.  And why always disappearing into withdrawal and hangover?

Am I still hiding from a school marm that never existed?  Someone’s got to write the bad songs.

The colored lights swirl like nausea.  Left behind, awkward girl.  Always running, awkward girl.  Do I smell your corpse burning?

We all fear our desires.  And I fear life.  Wanting instead...what?  Despair and suicide?  No, to sleep forever. Or to live like God, in fiction, as water flows through trembling hands.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Small Hours

It is in the small hours when I am roused from sleep. Sometimes there is a clarity to the waking. A restlessness. I want to GO. To do something. To take a ride, to eat a bowl of cereal, to read a book. The shadows don't make sense in the clash between the kitchen light, the streetlight, and ambient night. I look towards the bookshelf. I take down a photo album and, once I get past being pissed about the pics where I am fifteen pounds high, I am lost in it. I am back in time and remembering that time has passed. A lot of it. Like a steady drip that becomes a roar until the drywall rots and crumbles.

Sometimes my cat will find me, confused that I am in his time. But he is happy to see me. Always ready to sit on a warm lap. I try not to turn on the computer. I think of all the people who write in the small hours and I feel guilty, but I don't want to write. That's not the way I do it. I wonder how much of my life I wasted trying to do things the way other people did them and failing. I won't let that happen to my girls.

I'm silly about it really. When my oldest was just learning to use scissors she would hold them upside down and get corrected until finally I couldn't take it. "Let her hold the goddamn scissors any way she wants!" And then I realize the anger is out of proportion and it's not about scissors anyway, and never was. It's about me.

But the small hours give me a kind of magic sight. I sit and watch the girls sleep, so limp and free of worry. Tiny little people with sweet breath that sits on the night air and makes you feel like laughing out loud. I look into four tiny brown eyes, and the love I feel in the small hours is almost crippling. I want to wrap it around myself. I want to throw it as far as I can, scared of its power. I want to keep it in my pocket forever.

My wife is sleeping and this makes me happy. She doesn't get enough sleep. She doesn't complain. I look out the window. I used to live in a city that was never quiet. There was always something. The small hours where I live now are silent and empty. I stare out the window at the moisture collecting on the tops of jolly rancher cars and I wonder.

Years from now, I will be an old man. I will have written more words than most people, but that will be all I contribute to the world. I hope my girls will want to hang out with their old man. I hope my wife will get more sleep.

In the small hours, my brain is slow and sensible...

I sit on the edge of the bed for what seems like ages. I pet the cat and listen to the breathing apartment and wonder what fate holds in store. Because there is so much to lose and so much to win. And I don't deserve it. But I hope to hell things keep going my way. I lay back on my pillow and think about time and money and all the things I don't have enough of. It all seems pretty stupid in the small hours when the house is filled with love and bemused shadows.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


His grandfather loved trains. He had a shelf of books about them. He had a model train set in the cellar that rivaled any you could find in a museum or fair. He often started stories about bulls and campfires that trailed off, circled around the room, and landed with a rough calloused hand through his hair. "Someday, I'll tell you all about that."

His grandfather died before he got a chance to tell the story, but there were a million stories hidden in the cellar. There was a giant wooden box full of hundreds of night-crawlers. There were old things that he would find poking around when his grandfather was making the rounds, sharing a beer with his friends. There were tools he spent hours trying to decipher. There was a sap, although he didn't know what it was called at the time - he knew what it was for. Woven leather around a lead ball. He tried to imagine his grandfather hitting someone and he couldn't. He held it in his hand and heard train whistles through the corridors of time. Wheels rattling the tracks.

It was a small house, but it was full of treasures. There was a perfect replica of a sabre, but tiny, used to open letters. The plumbing was iffy and the cellar flooded in the rain. He could barely tolerate the non-fat dry milk with ice cubes that he drank to be polite. The wonder outweighed the sagging mattresses and blue milk.

His father's room had been maintained because of the death. Going inside his father's room was like discovering King Tut's tomb. Old toys and pocket knives and books - god, the books. There was a series called "The Book of Knowledge". Volumes designed for children. They taught everything from how to tie knots, to how to survive in the wild, to how to cross-stitch. And they were filled with stories.

There were other books, too. Tom Swift and the Hardy Boys and Chip Hilton. He read them all and he read 'Wyatt Earp' over and over again. He broke some of the toys, but no one criticized him. There were still clothes hanging in the closet. A few pairs of pants and a stack of shirts. The whole house was spartan, but the things that were there were precious. He spent hours going through the drawers in the kitchen. Old matchbooks and souvenirs from all over the northeast.

Most of all, he liked to look through the tackle boxes. His grandfather was a simple fisherman, but he was not immune to the angler's obsession. There were lures and flies and many of them were homemade. Some, the shiny ones still in the boxes, were like trophies. His grandfather never used them and never would.

In hindsight, it is astounding that they could still live in the house. That they weren't always looking for phantom bloodstains. His grandmother never went upstairs. Into the 'boys' room'. It was a house filled with joy and the lingering smell of pipe tobacco. There was nothing in the house that was less than ten years old. It would never change, and there was something about that. A warm feeling.

But the years passed and the stairs to the cellar creaked louder...his grandmother fell once, and before he knew it the house had been sold. The nonsense treasures he had found vanished. His grandparents moved into an apartment across from the High School and later a home. The trains were given to friends and fellow enthusiasts.

He still drives by the house, but it brings, alternately, a sense of sadness and a sense of betrayal. He is just beginning to understand that time betrays us all.

The Basement

The darkness was total and immense. A presence. It was a hand clamped onto the shoulder of his soul. He sat in the cage and tried to ignore the small tickling legs of things that ran over his skin in the night. When the light came, it came in stabs and small incisions. Stabs to bring food or to bring pain. Needles of light just to check on him. To say 'goodnight, you little faggot'.

His mother had died. That was the last thing that had made any sense. She was sick for a long time, and then she died, prune-skinned and grey. And then his father started to drink and smoke and, suddenly, he was a different man. The first beating was incomprehensible. He could hear the whistle of the belt louder than he could hear his own screams.

The cage was small. Made for inside dogs so they could shit outside without supervision. He could not stand in the cage, so it was almost with relief that he greeted the beatings. He could stand, and the belt brought feeling back into his legs. He had lost his relationship with physical pain. It did not register as pain anymore. He hoped to god the man would kill him.

He tried in the beginning.

"Dad, this is not you. You need help...please...I know..."

"Fuck you, you faggot piece of shit."

"Dad, Mom died. You did everything you could."

"That whore? I'm glad she's dead. That dirty backstabbing bitch. I'd kill her myself if she was here now."

"That's wrong...Dad. You loved her. She loved you. You love ME!"

None of it registered. All of it made things worse. The night he had tried to really get through, his father beat him until he could barely see. His eyes swam in a white half-conscious haze.

He was bent over a table and his old man was beating him with a golf club. He was numb from the waist down. Naked from the waist down. He squinted and saw a pen near the edge of the table. He reached for it. The whistle preceding the explosion in his hand was exquisite. His flesh opened and his bones cracked. The hits kept coming and he drifted in and out of darkness. In his mind, he was in the past. He was in the backyard with his parents and they were cooking out. Everything was so achingly normal.

He sat up through the blinding tracers and saw his father slumped in a chair sucking from a bottle of whiskey. He looked scared. Then, Ben looked at the floor around him. So much blood. Too much. He felt his head lighten and swallowed hard. He could feel the warm ooze of blood out of his head and nose, creeping toward his chest.

He laughed. He laughed until he was on his side coughing up thick, red blood.

"You did it, you know? You goddamn son of a bitch."


"I'm going to die. Tonight."

"Fuck you."

"No, fuck you. I loved her, too. Fuck you. She was my fucking mom."

"You shut your goddamn..."

His head fell to his chest, and Ben felt himself slipping into a dream so dense and thick that he knew he would never leave it. He wanted to, he could explain what had happened. So his dad would get better again. But he knew he wouldn't. Some things stay broken. By dawn, he was dead, and flies swarmed over the smell of blood and whiskey breath.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Jimmy sat like a small Buddha. His hands were clasped tightly together. His shirt had a predominant green stripe that matched his green corduroy pants. His hair was brown and sprouted from an expanse of freckles. Jimmy was scared. Down in the very deepest part of himself, he was terrified - they wanted to take it away from him, he knew it.

The rest of the kids were fascinated. No one had ever said 'no' to Ms. Griffin. And none of them knew Jimmy. Like really knew the things that went on in his mind. The things that mattered too him. They did not know that he was quite funny. He was good with voices. He could draw.

There was almost complete silence as the kids stared and Ms. Griffin glared - the tick, tick, tick of metal on metal from the tetherball - they were stuck in the silence, the glint of the sun. Horror. Surely. This was something. This was different. The kids savored it slowly like a caramel, letting the flavor of it slither down inside them.

Principal Crow was like an old country preacher. He was famous for his slightly bemused demeanor. He was loved. His glasses made him look like an owl, but he was not wearing them now. He was frustrated. Angry. The kids unconsciously moved forward with the smug Ms. Griffin.

"Jimmy, I understand that you disobeyed your teacher."

Jimmy didn't answer. He tried to shut his eyes and to concentrate on the tether ball.

"Jimmy. Open your hands."

There was a hurricane in Jimmy's brain. He was suddenly on fire with a kind of irrational panic. He couldn't move. Couldn't think of what would come next. That anything possibly could come next. His eyes were shut but he opened them when he smelled sweat and aftershave. Principal Crow was very close to him. He smiled. Then he grabbed Jimmy's hands and began to twist them apart. Jimmy held on for a few seconds. The kids edged closer.

And then it was gone. They had taken it, and Jimmy was sitting in the sun, surrounded by his bewildered classmates.

They had taken it, after all. Jimmy did not cry. Not until many years later.

How it be.

I'd be scared, too. What with your mediocrity, and that sly self awareness. Shit's gonna get hectic with these words we spew. When we see what we can make these letters do. Skitter and splash through the elastic understanding of a few? True. You want to eat the leaves off the bottom of the tree, go ahead. There's lots more of them, but the ones at the top are sweet and I'll eat til I've had my fill, til there's no more blood to spill. Cause you fucking stepped in it now, and you smeared it all over the walls. You cry out from a silent blank expanse and hope that someone hears you, but you hide behind the walls of the fortress. I'm not hiding. I'm right here, and I always will be. And I know people are gonna trip and people are gonna fall, but I got the long view. I don't aim to be around for just a few. I'm in this for the whole shebang, when you're hauling ass afraid you've fallen, second class. That's a real fear...a legitimate gripe. Above and beyond who's wrong or right. The truth will out, and it's wearing thin. I didn't bring us here, but that's the state we're in.

So, take your shoes off. Make yourself comfortable. Everyone fetches their own drinks here. But you'll fit in and if you don't you'll fake it and God sure ain't done making rubes. So, you'll be cool. Grab your cube and hold on tight, it's gonna be a vicious fight. You'll lose. We'll all lose. But you'll lose more. And I'm gonna be the one laughing with one foot in hell, saying bitch leave the cleavers, we have new wares to sell.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Jersey

The jersey was thin with wash and wear, threadbare in spots...worn. It had been his, but even that could not turn her against it. It was her battle armor. He hated when she wore it.

He was a secret misogynist. He believed himself to be de facto King by sex and birthright. He had small black eyes that darted to the corners, chilling with a kind of bloodstained brilliance when they held.

She let him fuck her, but she hated it. He was hirsute and smelled like a piece of rotting fruit. She could not help but imagine chimpanzees rattling cages, sending pulses of hatred out from behind the iron bars that held them. Throwing their shit around.

She kept a bottle of vodka hidden in the basement. He did not know about it.

He died easily. She had been a good nurse. The needle didn't even wake him up. And the inquiry was short. Terrible the habits that some people can't shake. The things people have to live with. Everyone was so sorry for her. She ate their lasagnas and shook her head.


The jersey is orange with blue lettering.

Feel it, soft like ash against your skin.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Kyle was friends with the raver dipshit. Actually, he was a pretty nice guy, but he hung out with some real annoying K-hole A-holes. He sold K and acid and he'd give us the thin strips off the acid sheets he cut. Can't sell em, but they still work. We'd get him into shows and put him on our guest lists and shit. We were probably a nice break from the sacks of stupidity he was forced to deal with. We like to talk about books and music and...well, we like to talk.

So, we're at dude's house and all the rave-kids are looking at us funny. We pretty much associate with them because they have the best drugs. Sad, but true. In my rock and roll angst, they stand for pretty much everything I am against. I want to play my guitar loud and talk about important shit. They want to wear plush animal backpacks and use pacifiers. But they get good drugs.

So, Kyle, Jim, Mario and I are chewing strips like there is no tomorrow because, quite frankly, that is a very real possibility on any given day and the shit is FREE. Kyle disappears and we're trying to calculate how many strips equals one hit and we're overly conservative in our estimations which makes the calculations really fucking hard because we're tripping face. We figure Mario and Kyle and I are at about 7 or 8. Jim was hesitant then. Before coke and heroin and speed blew any hesitation he had out of the water.

We're talking about some shit and feeling out of place. We're in the backyard smoking, but the ravers are all inside watching The Shining now. Like that's what I want to see on acid. Weird kids. The ketamine kids are the weirdest. I want to be aware I am fucked up. They want to fall backwards into a velvet nothingness where the world can be safely viewed through a tiny hole of distortion. Whatever.

Finally, Kyle shows back up and we're fucked and we just want to leave. Kyle looks weird, and he is always pulling shady shit, so I take him aside. He just did some GHB. That's all. Smiles at me. Goofy. Fuck. GHB has been killing kids all over the county. See, it works by blocking your body's drug defenses so your 'natural' drugs can fuck you up. But if you take it with speed or a downer...well, you can't fight back and the heart doesn't like that. None of us have ever done it before. We've pretty much crossed everything else off the list, though.

But man. We're fucked up. Everything is bright and cartoony and I can't keep a thought in my head for more than three seconds. I keep lighting cigarettes.

"Alright, fuck, Kyle...we need to get some food in you. When's the last time you ate?"

We were a scrawny lot that lived on chemicals and alcohol, so it had probably been a few days.

Jim, of course, is freaking out. True colors.

"Man, fuck you guys. I'm leaving. Fuck this."

His pupils are like fucking planets and I momentarily consider breaking his face...he's pulled this shit before. Too often. Selfish fucker.

"Bullshit have the are taking us to get food so Kyle doesn't fucking die, asshole!"

Kyle stops smiling.

"I'm not gonna die..."

"No, you're not gonna die, but you need to eat."

The car ride is a fucking nightmare.

I would have done just about anything rather than walk into that 7-11, but it had to be done. God, it was menacing. Everyone knew. I could feel all the eyes on us. And inside, I knew it would be a dayglo nightmare. But, fuck it. We pound in through the double doors.

We head over to the pre-made shit we can afford. I've known one  person who can even look at food on acid. It's not Kyle. I grab this big slab of week old turkey sandwich.

"I'm not eating that, dude."

"Fuck, Kyle, just eat some of it. Why did you take the GHB anyway?"

Dumb question. Kyle takes whatever is handed to him. Mario is quietly concerned. Jim is stalking around pissed off that he's inconvenienced. No one's surprised. So, it's me and Kyle. He's this charismatic dark-skinned kid and strong looking. He's never scared. That's part of his thing. But I can tell he's a little close to the edge.

"Dude, I'm not going to die."

"No. No way. Think about it, man. GHB kills you if it amplifies the effects of something else on your heart. Acid doesn't do shit to your heart. You might trip extra hard, but you're not dying."

"Cool, then put the fucking sandwich back."

I realize I'm holding the sandwich like it's a dead raccoon covered in shit.

"Kyle, please man. I know you don't want to do it and I don't think you're gonna die, but you haven't eaten in a while. It can't hurt, right?"

I really, really want Kyle to eat the sandwich.

"I'm not gonna die."

He's convincing himself. Trying to.

"I 100% agree with you. You will not die, dude. People don't die from acid and GHB. They just don't."

We look at each other and try to pretend we both believe what we're saying while the snack cakes throb and the walls breathe and the lights are so fucking bright. It's at this point that I pzaaaaaaaap snap back out of our world and back into the real one. Just for a second. Just long enough to realize that there are seven other people in the store, we're talking really loud and really fast, and Jim is stalking around with a cigarette like a crazed tweaker hornet. And it's a small store. Kyle sees me looking and then he sees it, too. You can tell he's calculating how many illegal things he has on him just like I am.


So, it's your standard 7-11 crowd, they're all the same. Paramedics and construction workers and I'm hoping to god no cops and that the guy behind the counter doesn't aspire to hero-dom. They are all literally backed against the walls, staring at us in complete horror. I look in the circular mirror thing and I see us. Punk rock and dirty. Two scrawny white kids, a quiet, soft eyed mexican kid, and this scared looking Samoan kid who looks like he could fucking do anything at any moment. And he could. For some reason I'm always the fucking PR guy. And what I say next makes perfect sense to me in the moment, while the cigarette packs are turning into doves.

"Alright folks. Sorry about that. We're gonna leave. Everything is cool. We were just fucking around. My friend's not gonna die. Sorry. Have a good day."

And we do leave. With a quickness.

I drop the sandwich on the counter and we leave. Jim bails. Mario and I stick with Kyle and give him cigarettes, and we spend the next six hours talking about how he's not going to die. He doesn't die. So we eat some of the strips he pocketed and run into Jim later. He's pissed we didn't share. The stars are tiny daggers of flame.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sensitive Skin

He played with insects, small things. He collected miniatures and knick-knacks and raided his sister's doll house to hold the tiny turn them in his close his fingers around them until their sharp edges were traced into his soft flesh. His hands were too soft. This was one of the things he hated about himself. Skin too pale. Skin too soft. The doctor said he had sensitive skin and wrote a note that turned into a special soap that morphed into the kind of ruthless self-loathing that makes sense only in hindsight.

He never wanted to hurt anyone. He got confused. Things got jumbled up. She was the catalyst. She made him look at himself differently. She imposed some kind of worthiness that jumbled the wires up...confused the circuitry.

He was content to absorb the sun and light and let it bounce off his pale, soft skin. He expected so little from himself. He was content to not make a mark in the world. He was happy, invisible, pale and blind like those worms at the Natural History Museum.

She built him up and it was against everything he fucking believed. She was so goddamn cheerful. The first time he hit her it felt so fucking good. It hurt his soft hands, and it left her standing with an 'O' for a mouth, confused. She looked so fucking stupid. The dumb bitch. He spit on her and laughed. She cried and he slapped her so hard it spun the world around.

Then, he cried. She cried. She wrestled the knife out of his hand. It was going to open him up and allow the evil to pour out. It was supposed to be his fucking baptism and she stole it. His salvation. He was so sorry. She hid all the knives and matches and she watched him. He was grateful. He found a screwdriver at the bottom of a kitchen drawer and hid it on top of the heater where she would never see it.

She was going to save him, see? He started hitting her more often and she started thinking that maybe she had been put there to save him from himself. She went to work with bruises that were hard to explain. She withdrew. She had found her calling and that was all that mattered.

Sex confused him. He liked to hurt her while he fucked her. She didn't ever tell him to stop. Face shoved up against the wall, tears and blood. They both shook with the power of it. It was fucking undeniable.

She wanted to take him to meet her parents. She kept asking until he couldn't stand it. He punched her in the solar plexus and she dropped to her knees. She grabbed for him, and he smacked her down again. She was standing up when he returned from the hallway. The sun was creeping through the shades they always kept closed.

"I love you."

"I know you do...I know you didn't..."

The screwdriver went in so easily. Soft skin. Her eyes went wide as he pulled against the suction that held it to her neck. He turned his grip on the handle. He laughed at the blood. He stabbed until he could no longer hold the plastic grip. Until he was heaving, laying on the ground beside her. Blood everywhere.

The police car pulled up slowly and two men with guns got out. They saw him, scraping his hands on the sidewalk. He was covered in blood and his palms were shredded. He did not see them. He did not answer their questions. They stood and watched him and slowly, ruefully, he raised his eyes. He smiled at them. He raised his palms. Not a surrender...just so they could see...what he had done. They asked again, but he was not listening anymore. He spoke from somewhere far away.

"She's inside. I killed her."


It was a rookie question and his partner scowled at him over the chirping radio.

"Because I loved her."

The cuffs were like ice water. His vision came in and out. He felt like he couldn't breathe. They handled him roughly. Nothing sensitive about it. He smiled and thought about the scars that would finally bind his hands.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Courting Nancy Drew...

Your novels were adequate. You were soft when you should have been hard and wooden when you should have been real. I don't aim to be a 'Hardy Boys were better...' banner toter. I'll take Chip Hilton, loyal, honorable, and respectful to the end. Tom Swift.

When you can't do something, you got to keep flogging that slow horse. The slow horse will ride...for a few races...then to the glue factories. And the world will remained unchanged, chaste with white gloves to protect you from reality. Check it's an interesting place we visit sometimes.

A dimebag is a dimebag is a dimebag and you keep buying them because you're poor. Inside. I know the score.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Wait

He sat on the edge of the cigarette-pocked sofa, small pale fingers wrapped around the heavy, black weight of the gun. The gun he wasn't to touch until his father said it was OK. Until he was ten. No one knew that he could open the safe and had held the gun a thousand times.

From the back of the house, he could hear his mother on the phone. She was talking too loud. Too fast. Then too slow.

The house was nothing. It was vacant and generic. No pictures on the wall. Smell of old smoke and sadness.

His skin was peppered with gooseflesh and his mind was racing. A track race. Around and around the same circle. Hammering on one thought. His father would be home from work soon. He would come in and drop his tools and he would yell for his dinner and a drink. And then it would happen. He would never hit his mother again.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2 minutes. Go.

The heat waves penetrate my brain and I can't maintain. Tried to write, but I can't write shit. Like a egotistical half-wit. Look at all them fancy people walking around like they don't know I know their underwear is soaking wet and shoved up their ass cracks. I know. And I will sit in front of the air-conditioner and wish the fucking thing worked. And the world will slowly turn as it is wont to do while I try to figure out something productive to occupy my time. Something that does not involve moving. Sorry gunslingers, too hot to touch metal today.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

That little crack in the wall.

I see you. I see you and see the roads behind you and what is ahead of us. I see flashes of nightmare color, blood, I see the sparks on the guardrail. I am a coward. I deceive myself and that is a damn shame. I give myself too much credit. But I have high standards. I will admit that I am operating on a different plane than many of the slack jawed simpletons that populate this earth. And CHRIST, give me the simpletons. Rather than the calculated users and autodidacts who learned it wrong. I will create a maze for myself to investigate. I will go to sleep late and wake up guilty. I will always pull for the little guy because I have known too many big guys. And I'm a big guy, but size isn't what I'm on about. Four years old, I lived in England.  Sang 'God Save The Queen' every morning. Exercise in our underwear. Football with a wiffle ball. Climbing giant apple trees and tossing them down to my father, happy as I can imagine being. We lived next to beekeepers. I will take an English robin over his American counterpart any day. I get emails from my UK friends and I feel the yearning so strongly sometimes...why do we take ourselves so seriously? The USA. A country founded by criminals, infidels, and religious zealots. We wag our finger at the Holocaust and ignore the fact that we eradicated an entire way of life. Our hands are soaked in blood. But we put on a happy face, pretend. We are a nation of charlatans, but I won't participate. If I want to hate myself, I have that right. If I want to see the cracks, I fucking will. I'm not saying we don't have our redeeming qualities, but we also have niggers hanging from trees not too damn long ago. We have people afraid to admit their sexuality. We hide the abuse that gets cast upon the young. We live in a TV world where books are a joke to most. Literally, a joke. Reading is shameful. I met a young man once who thought that all fags should die. I asked him why and he couldn't come up with an answer.  Kill the redskins, hang the niggers, beat the fags...and we have the nerve to pretend that America is a land of hope. If you are white and well off and you go to church...maybe. Those of us who think? I live in a country where sometimes a woman can't get an abortion if she is raped. By a family member. Thankfully, some states have seen the light. The right to the pursuit of happiness. What a joke. I could go to jail for numerous things that make me happy and harm no one. The American Dream? What a lauded fable that one is. Families are starving and scared. The distribution of wealth is shameful. I clench my jaw and try to stretch my neck, but goddamn it we fucked things up. My great grandfather was a sharecropper. My great grandfather on the other side worked and died in a coal mine. I have it good. But it could be so much better if people would stop being such blind assholes and take the time to think about how we should operate as rational fucking people. I have a feeling I will live my life poor and die poor and leave my children little, but I will show them that passion trumps assets. That honesty is more important than a job promotion. That honesty is everything. There are cracks in the walls and the roaches are coming in. I am waiting for the white man to be the minority. I am cheering for the immigrants. I am waiting for the revolution that I know is on its way. I hope I will have the courage to be there. I hope that I will have the tenacity to call it as I see it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

3 minutes. Go.

I trip the wire and it all starts over again. Starting fresh with no plan. Smile on my face just because I can. Feel the steel at my back, but I thrive off that shit. It's a gift. And we'll see when all is said and done. Cause I don't aim to quit, and the words don't aim to quit me.

I lag and lolligag and fuck I feel guilty because Rush!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is waiting on me, but I got bills to pay and I write for money. Not the real writing. The real writing comes from my confusion and wonder and fear of the world. And my recognition of its beauty. The writing about product releases and small businesses. People who want a little extra for nothing. But then there's Jeff. Thank the good lord I resist for Jeff. My belly is full and the rent is paid.

The Nighttime

When soft night breezes call, I am ready to accept the charges. There is depth to night. There is more shadow, nothing as crisp. Daytime is harsh. Too harsh for me. I deal with it because I have to, but I only do it to limp toward darkness.

There are so many opportunities that night presents. There is everything. Unlimited potential. For good, for horror, for phantasms of paranoia and teeth-gnashed suffering. There is redemption, there is betrayal. Night is the devil's footman.

In the small hours, I can rise above the day, look down on it, map it out, see that nothing tragic happened. And sleep...thank heaven for sleep. My daughters are asleep and I am free to just be. To read or write or lay and stare at the ceiling.

The nighttime has always been magic. We can float away into the light of the night kitchen, where Maurice Sendak has already drawn the shades.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


The hawk fell into a sweep over the wetlands, rust-bellied and sleek. The dust was thick, you could feel it in your lungs. It had substance. The light was unbroken, the sun direct and blinding. You watched it dance the wind into an orange glow. A pair of meadowlarks leapt from an old fence post. In the next second, a splattering of red-winged blackbirds and then utter calm. You sat as night climbed day and the dusk lay thick in the valley. For a second, time stopped and you could feel yourself lurch, like walking in an airplane. The night sounds started, a quiet symphonic anarchy. Night wins. Every time.

The Hangover

She woke up with him inside her. Her mouth had that sweet, citric taste of vomit and liquor. She didn't understand it. Step back, look at it. You don't want to, but you need to see it. She is young, her pants are down around her ankles. You can hear the shouts and music outside the bedroom, but inside it is just her. She is small on the bed and her face is buried in a pillow. She tries to move it and feels the fingers pull at her hair. She screams. He starts fucking her harder. His pants are down and his shirt is off. His tattoos suck. He smiles because he knows the bitch fucking wanted it and now he's giving it to her. Just how she wanted. Staring all night. He'd woken her up. He believed it. He would swear to it. He came and let go of her hair and the room blurred into focus. They were in a guest room, the decorations were spare and generic. She was crying and he blinked at her, confused. Do you see it?

They will never talk about it. Either of them. They will live within miles of each other for the rest of their lives. Their kids will go to the same school. Their spouses will know none of this. But you know. Some hangovers don't ever go away.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

4 minutes. Go.

Bring it. This is my four minute blast of useless letters into the atmosphere. Inside, live amoebas and mysteries and stories told hundreds of years before my time. My chafing brain searches and finds knobs of thought wrought from the folds of my subconscious. Fingers, move faster. You're fucking the whole game up. I never believed there was a monster in my closet. I did believe in monsters. I lived inside TV show sitcoms rules that rubbed me the wrong way, so I rubbed my brain the right way until it was all shiny. Not shiny, scuffed up...ready for a fresh new varnish. And I'll tell you one thing straight shooter, the clock is ticking and you can take four minutes just as much as I can. And I don't give a damn about gargoyle face cracks looking from the corner. You may be afraid, but I am brave in the face of adversity, weak in my apathy. I took a look and we got two minutes to rumble. Do you want a sip of ice water. I would. Someone spray me in the face with Gatorade. I'll dope up and mum up and you can have my medals for soldering. And you can mock me with your garters on. You can't get a rise out of me the way you're trying. And it makes you look foolish. This isn't about one person in particular. It is about everyone except me. Sorry, that sounds like a dick call, but I gotta be honest about it. Prove me wrong. Find your stopwatch.

Winter Abides...

David Antrobus wrote this story. Edward Lorn wrote this one. They asked me to play. Now I can't sleep until I write this shit. Thanks fellas. They probably make more sense if you read them in order.

There are open places inside all of us, and she was no exception. She had caverns, carved out darkness. She sat at the bar, struck a match to another bayonet, darted eyes around the room following the smoke shadows. She saw herself through their eyes. Some of the men just wanted to fuck her. Some of the men were afraid of the open places, astute enough to see the wounds. The women either pitied her or hated her…and the pity hurt worse.

She drank her vodka and tapped the bar and saw herself in a sudden flashbulb: short black hair, tight black dress, red heels. She had aimed for defiant and landed in…what? Whore? Predator? She realized it suddenly. All the fucking things she hated, she had embraced them all. She had killed the kitten so the lion could live. And the lion was predatory.

She drank the next vodka fast. It was smooth. All this time had passed. All this time and her…feeling like she was drowning and chasing her pain and her open places. But somewhere along the line, she had tried to…hell, build something. A fortress. She recognized now what she had built and felt shame. She just wanted a barrier. Some armor. She didn’t want women in bars to hate her. She certainly didn’t want their pity. She didn’t want to fuck anyone or get fucked. She just wanted.

The next drink was there, so she drank it and lit a cigarette. The bartender was wise to the whole thing. She realized that now. He was standing a little to the left of her. His back was turned and she knew it was because he was judging her. She hated his ponytail. Her eyes turned to an icy stare.

“I suppose you think I’m a whore?”

“I don’t think about it.”

“I come here all the time…you see it, you have to…don’t fuck with me.”

“I’m not fucking with you. I’m just saying I see it different than you do.”

She drank the next drink and stubbed out her cigarette.

“So, what, ‘captain fucking deep bartender guy’…?”

“So, nothing. You got your business, I got mine.”


“And I don’t think I want any part of your business aside from a smile every once in a while if you can muster it. I’ll make the drinks.”

“And where are you going that’s so fucking great…tell me.”

“Probably nowhere, but you never know. It’s that ‘you never know’ part that interests me, see.  I know more about you than you think. But it’s all just sticky tape and spilt ink and things you wanted but didn’t get. Aside from that, it’s life. One thing a bartender knows, ain’t many people got easy lives.”

“Yeah, great. Thanks.”

“Look, Summer…yeah, I know your name and you don’t know mine…you aren’t the only one that got dealt the shit hand. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s life. Some people have…I don’t know…hope, some people don’t.”

“So, you think I’m hopeless?”

“No, I think you think you’re hopeless. What I think doesn’t matter. You don’t know my name and won’t remember any of this.”

She slammed her glass down and stood slowly, careful not to wobble.

“Sorry to bother you.”

“It’s no bother. No bore either. That’s surprising. We have these kinds of chats a lot. I know you don’t remember them…I do.”

She grabbed her coat and pinballed out the door into the cold night. Her breath rose like smoke into the whitening sky. Stars. So many fucking stars. There was always that. When the stars started falling it would be time to seriously rethink things. Until then... A laugh tore out of her.

She wondered if she had spoken to the barkeep before or if that was a cheap come on. It didn’t matter. She lit a cigarette and walked the empty streets towards her apartment. Flickering windows wept soft light into the alleyways. She found her building. Her apartment. It was dark, she never remembered to leave the light on. She lay on her bed and let go of her conscious brain. Her throat burned.

She was no Phoenix. She woke to a pounding headache and no memories from the night before. Just blackness. She was alone. That was a clue. She got up and found a warm handle of vodka in the kitchen. She poured a little orange juice in. She drank it while trying not to vomit. Five minutes of mouth sweat, and she knew it would be over. She could do that. She leaned, arms braced against the sink like bridge abutments. They were scarred and shaking. She waited and she could feel the vodka. Like a switch being tripped. She smiled ever so slightly and lit a cigarette. She poured a glass of straight liquor and drank it in steady sips.  She wondered who she would call. What day was it? Kirk would be down to party…he would have coke, but he was an asshole.

She walked into her room and saw her dress laid across the pink fuzzy bathrobe she had owned for years. When had she worn it last? She ran her hand across the arm. She slipped it on. In an explosion of images, she knew. The years collapsed, and she knew that she was just stuck. Had been stuck. How long? This time she would do it. Unstick. She had to. She poured the vodka down the sink. She made a cup of tea and waited to get sick.

The cold seeped in through the window cracks, and she felt winter’s breath. It was getting weaker, but it was there. She shivered and knew it wasn’t the cold. It was starting. But winter was ending. And then it would be spring. And she had no idea what that meant. She shrunk into a small ball of pink and cried.

Jo-Anne Teal comes in for the kill here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Step right up!

I'm made of tin-foil. Recycled oil by-products. I'll make your teeth whiter. You'll be closer with your family. I come with a money-back guarantee. I'm organic. Free range. I'll make your laundry glow with half the soap.

I have special functions you won't believe. I am 100% hemp. I am 100% pro-choice, you choose it, and I will back you 100%. I am a brand you can count on. A family company. My great grandpa was a sharecropper and never touched a drop.

I will keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I am everything you want for your vacation planning needs. I will restore your hairline to its former glory and make you feel like living again. If you feel like living, I'll make you feel like living longer.

I am the result of 34 years of research. I am not recommended for human consumption. But if you have consumption, I'll cure the shit out of it. Guaranteed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Happy Leaf

Outside the window, there is a tree. I don't know what kind of tree it is. I wish I did, but I would have to call a professional botanist because it looks like, well, a tree. A nice leafy one. Like a lot of nice leafy trees I see. It doesn't have pine needles or weird bark or a visible root system. It's just a tree. Doing its tree thing. I respect that.

The leaves look a little like maple leaves, but smaller and missing two points. They are green. Just green. Not olive green or apple green. Just green. It is the kind of tree I picture when someone says the word tree. Stolid, but wavy in the breeze, unobtrusive.

I sit beside the window while I write, so I know this tree very well. In the spring, the songbirds go insane in the hidden spaces of this tree, and I write to a symphony of chirps and tweeps. The birds are long gone now. And soon the tree will lose its leaves, but I like it that way, too.

It gets really hot by the window sometimes, but the tree and I don't trip. I sweat. The tree's leaves shrivel up near the top where the sun assaults them. Down at couch level, they stay nice and leafy, though. I wouldn't want to eat one or anything. I would kind of like to rub one against my face. But I live on the second floor and it's probably best that we just hang out...nothing physical.

When the sun hits the leaves, the veins stand out, but you really have to look. It is a delicate tree. It is like a first date, the tree. It is full of nervous energy, twitching in the wind, hoping its leaves are the right color and shape.

I'm not quite delusional enough to think that the tree knows I exist. But I believe it anyway. We're brothers, the tree and me. We forgive each other grammatical mistakes and allergens. But the tree is really the beginning of the story. The story is about a happy leaf.

All the leaves on the tree look the same (except for the extremely scorchy ones on top). All except for one. At my eye level, right near the end of the branch, six inches from the glass of the window, there is an especially happy leaf. It is malformed and it has a bright orange dot on it. It seems to dance in the breeze a bit more vigorously. It is quite obvious that it doesn't lament its difference. It is merely happy to be doing its leafy thing.

There are days when my world becomes an opaque blackness, and I want everything to burn to the ground. I want to die. I want everyone I know dead. I want it all to be over. I want the buildings to slowly rot and fade back into pastoral splendor. I want all the TVs in the world to explode. These days are infrequent...they didn't use to be. Sometimes, on the black days, I sit with my laptop and just fucking hate. And sometimes I am smart enough to stop hating and look at the happy leaf. And then I smile a bit, and the smile erodes a bit of the pain. The leaf does a cheeky floop in the wind. It is not a magic leaf, it does not cure anything, but it helps.

I haven't named the tree and I refuse to name the leaf. I'm sure it has its own name and it doesn't need my help. It needs songbirds and sun. Lately it has been needing a little rain. But it gets by. And maybe, just maybe, the tree knows that I am here. I don't know. Seems stupid, but so many things do. You can't convince me it doesn't. You wouldn't be able to convince me that it does either.

It's just a droopy, floppy tree. It's not the kind of tree that would stop you if you were in a hurry. But since we share office space, I look at it a lot. My infant daughter will stare at the waving branches and smile. I know she doesn't see the happy leaf and it doesn't see her. I think. What I'm getting at is that it doesn't matter if it does or doesn't. Not everything needs to be explained. So, I'll take my leave now. I need to work on a novel. But first I need to watch the happy leaf shimmy.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Steven sat with the blocks in front of him. He knew what he was going to build. He could see the castle in his mind. It would be his greatest creation.

He started with a strong foundation. He settled on a color scheme. He whispered softly to himself as his prosthetic hand knocked a piece...almost. The castle grew and Steven grew with it. At last it was done. He ran to get Ms. Jensen. She had to see. Then she would believe. She would tell his parents. He could do it.

They returned to a scattering of blocks. Ricky was grinning in the corner. He winked at Steven. Steven tried to get the words out, but they got twisted and caught on themselves, tripping over their toes.

Ms. Jensen sighed.

"That is a beautiful castle, Steven! Good work!"

She returned to her desk and drank a sip of water. Ricky glowed inside, ripe with triumph. Steven was miles deep, always deeper, into a part of himself that was half-true. Half-beautiful. Or so it seemed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Pound. The words hammer his skull with that dull knock, knock sound.  That fucking sound. Fists into eyeballs into bright explosions of light. Outside, the night voices are soft and warm. He is living in the blanket fort inside his mind. There is a bag of 'Nilla wafers and a flashlight. He rocks slowly back and forth, perfect, a metronome. He can't fuck it up. It has to be fucking perfect.

He hears, not voices, ideas...taunts. Sounds. Questions? They come from inside. They are what if's and vague ideas. Some are terrifying. Some are silly. Some are dares. What would you do? How would everyone react? Fucking do it, you pussy. Stop thinking about it and do it and then at least you'll know.

Lips claw the spirraled top of a secret bottle. Burn. Wait. Heart pounding. It slows down. He laughs to himself. Fuck it. He removes his clothes slowly and stacks them on top of his shoes. He looks at the dark hairs erupting from his pale chest. He hears the calls from downstairs, but he has giggled himself beyond their reach. That soft and ever fleeting place, peace. It is his secret, his salvation, stagnation, is all he has.

"Paul? What are you doing up there?"

He stares gunslinger eyes into the mirror and cocks a half smile. He hiccups and shoves a sob back into his chest. He punches the dresser so hard that the shock in his hand is pure fire. He opens a knife and stares at the blade and sees his reflection. He cocks a half smile. Teeth on glass rasp, he drinks deeply and waits.

"Paul? You better come on down here."

"Goddamnit, Paul. You answer, boy."

" ungrateful bastard."

The light in the bedroom is shifting and he tries to pretend that the walls look the same to everyone. But he knows they don't. Paul, you silly fool. Put a record on. Take a drink and tamp it all down. Music. Turn it up as loud as the stereo will go. 1...2...3...4...

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

I'm tired and the weather is weird, my barometer is off. You go through life groping. Sometimes you grab something nice. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's honeysuckle and sometimes you choke back the bile while you try not to cry in front of people who don't understand.

My daughter asks me sometimes why I'm sad. Then I remember I need to put the happy mask back on. I can't explain to her and I hope to god she never figures it out for herself. I am not always sad. But sometimes life is a punch in the gut. Sometimes people are just so plain ugly that you're ashamed you are the same species. I want to be a moth. I want to be drawn to something. I'm tired of fluttering aimlessly.

All this emo shit makes me want to smack myself. You can want to smack me, too. It's just one of those days. Must be the blue moon.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wednesday Night

Thursday night and the baby's crying. It echoes off the cheap walls of the apartment. It is stuck in the corners with the cobwebs. It is a colorful sound full of deep reds and greens so green they are almost black. Sleep is something we take for granted. Like grandparents. Like breakfast.

I'm an automaton. It's almost kind of pleasant. I have been anesthetized by fatigue. I feel like McMurphy and his electroshocking calm. I'm not fighting it. You can't.

Think I'll go have a glass of milk. There is something about cold milk at night. Something that takes me back to footed pajamas and sleep that was rarely interrupted. I dreamt of flying. Every night. Here, in the darkness, my family surrounds me and I can feel this weird energy. It's like airborne love. And I'll fucking take it. Even if they fall asleep, I might stay up. Looking at their faces. Being thankful.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I hate the word 'dappled', but that's what the fucking sun is doing. I slump on the couch and stare at the wall, painting it different colors in my mind. My lower back hurts. This is a constant. I want to run, but I can't. I want to fly, but I could never do that.

I find my mind wandering back through the cob-webbed corridors...there was a girl. How many stories start like that? I guess every story starts like that. There was a girl.

She was like a poorly trained puppy. Always lashing out. She was flailing, out of control. She was beautiful. So beautiful I can't even describe it. For once I just want the word to mean what it really means. She really was beautiful. 

She came to my shows. I knew some of her friends. She liked my white Chucks. She told me one time, and I couldn't think of a response, and she laughed and pinballed down the hallway of our flat singing about boys who wear Dickies and white Chucks.

She moved in with a friend of mine. A wonderful girl...she always made me sad. She always fucked my friends and they never seemed to care that she actually thought it meant something. But what can you do? She was smart. She didn't need a thing from me. She had a big soft bed. I slept in it, but never with her.

She invited us over for Thanksgiving. Tofurkey. Santa Cruz. We made the drive down from the City with some laced weed and warm beer. We were on vacation from the vacation that was our daily lives. Fuck the tofurkey and pass the booze. She could get fucked up, that girl. With the best of us. She had a thing for acid and whip-its that I never quite understood. I liked her.

Her friend liked to fuck with people. She looked riot grrl soft, but she was made of safety glass. I didn't know it at the time. She was mean, and I liked that. I liked it when people treated me like shit. I liked bitchy, privileged girls who liked me because I was poor and on the death march. Eventually, I would let the little, small human part of me show and they would leave because I was just like every other schmuck. I cared too much. But before the facade shattered I was some kind of 'bad girl' trophy. I didn't realize this at the time.

We spent days drinking and smoking that dust weed and churning through packs of cigarettes. I remember that I spent a lot of the weekend playing guitar by myself on the porch. Hoping she would find it interesting. Hoping I could get away without talking to anyone. Jim was busy fucking Lilith, and so the beauty and I circled. She was fucking with me. So, I played guitar and got as fucked up as I possibly could.

I guess I passed out on the couch, but I woke up with her on top of me. Her eyes were those magic eyes. The kind that change color. Her skin was dark and soft. She was voracious. Neither of us had our shirts on. I was confused and trying to keep up. She bit me. I was still wearing the pegged, size 28 Dickies she had given me, laughing that her pants fit a boy. I put a lot more in my nose than my stomach back then.

I wanted her. No doubt. But she kept fucking biting me. Not coyly. Not sexy bites. She bit me until I shoved her onto the floor. She ran out of the room crying. Lilith came in and saw the blood...I told her what had happened. She told me that her friend had been a virgin until the rape I didn't know about. The one that had happened on Halloween.

We didn't talk the rest of the trip. I didn't talk to Jim or Lilith either. I drank wine from a jug and played their shitty acoustic guitar until my fingers bled. Some of the bite marks were visible. Big, purple bruises on my arms and neck. No one said anything.  

We left, and I forgot about it. Months later, my friend Kevin came to visit and fucked her. Then he stole my weed and my wallet and went back to San Diego.