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.