Friday, September 27, 2013

4 Minutes. Go!

It's flash Friday again. All writers and non writers are welcome to put their three minute free write in the comments section on this post. Tell a friend. The more the merrier. :)

You place the fingers on the right keys, and I don't mean Alicia. Shit's not even spelled the same, and the wife wouldn't like it. But this isn't about that. This is about nothing. I thought of some good writing advice last night. People ask for it sometimes and I never have anything simple to say. Now, I do. KEEP YOUR NAILS NICE. I spend a lot of time looking at my fingers. It helps if I have decent looking nails.

Which makes me realize something. I finally learned to type while looking at the screen. Sometimes I look at my fingers anyway. But that's something. I've improved myself. I used to watch my mom type and it would blow my mind.

I had a dream last night. That's kind of unusual for me. I don't remember much of it, but it was a howling, lonely thing. I didn't enjoy it. I wished for another night of blackness.

I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday and I felt happy. I felt good to be spending time with my neighbors. I was happy to buy fresh peaches, gently stroking the fuzz and squeezing them ever so softly. My time is almost up. This time. It is time to go back to the editing that my Friday will be made of. I'm not complaining though. It could be made of worse things.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Find

Margaret walked slowly through the living room, waiting for her mother to yell at her. Or to ignore her. She lucked out and got the latter. She could feel it hidden under her shirt, an old soccer jersey that was too big for a seven year old girl - it had belonged to Jason. Jason was dead. 

She forced herself to do everything as "normally" as she could. She closed the door to her room with just the right amount of force and gently lifted her shirt. And there it was. Amazing. Her eyes were searchlights, scanning the room ... what would she need? There was also a trilling exuberance in the back of her mind that told her she didn't need anything else. Not anymore. 

Margaret's mother was a stern woman. She was not cruel, but her rules were absolutes. 'No' meant 'don't ask again unless you want the paddle'. Margaret loved her mother, with good reason. She knew what Jason's death had done. She forgave her mother for almost everything. And, now, she would have to lie. Not just one lie. Many lies. A mountain of lies ... if she built it high enough she was sure she'd be able to see over the morass that her life had become.

Hiding it from her father would be easy. He had always focused on Jason, anyway. Now that Jason was gone, he was largely silent. A man-shaped sculpture that lurched around the living room bumping into things and then apologizing to them. She was not convinced the ottoman warranted an apology, but she did not have to worry about her father. He did not see her. Not really.

Her mother. Her mother would take it from her. Her mother would turn red and grow several inches taller and she would take it. And then she would make Margaret apologize, which she would, even as her heart was breaking. Because she knew it was wrong. She was wrong.

She knew it, and she didn't care. She had tried to understand that losing your son changes you. She still struggled to accept it. Her parents were not the same people they had been a year ago. She spent so much time trying not to remind them, trying to be in the background, silent - she often forgot to think that she had lost something, too. 

Jason had been her champion in all causes. Her protector. He had shown her the secret joys that lived in the industrial wasteland behind their house. Where everything was freedom. She had never been scared when Jason stood beside her. He had taught her to curse. To skip smooth stones. He had taught her everything.

She often felt like there was something missing from the house, now. Jason. Of course. She did not realize that he had taken all of the love with him as well, though. His death had built a cathedral of sadness. Love was no longer welcome.

But now, she would have love. Now, she would feel joy again. She watched the small orange kitten stomp around her comforter. It swatted at her hand and she laughed, her mind chirping through the things they would do. She would not have to sleep alone. Whether she was having the nightmares or not. She would have an ally. Something she could protect.

She heard her mother coming up the hallway, quick strides. She didn't knock, but Margaret had just enough time to put the kitten in the closet. Safe. She forced herself to breathe. 

"Margaret. It's almost time to eat."

"OK, Mother. I'll wash up."

"That's a good girl. How was school today?"


"Did you pass your..."

Margaret's mother did not finish her sentence because she was distracted by a sound. They both heard it. A high pitched whine. Then, the tumbling song of fallen toys. Margaret's mother grabbed her by the arm and pulled her in front of the closet. She could see their reflections in the mirrored doors.

"Margaret, open the closet."

And time stopped. Margaret looked at her mother's face in the mirror and saw a befuddled rage building. She scrambled for excuses in her mind. She wanted to run. She looked at her own face and, for the first time, recognized the visage of resigned horror that Jason had left behind.

Friday, September 20, 2013

3 minutes. Go!

It's flash Friday again. All writers and non writers are welcome to put their three minute free write in the comments section on this post. Tell a friend. The more the merrier. :)

The wind outside the window is doing that thing. That thing it does. With the soft invitation and swoops through sunbeams. I am inside drinking tea. I wish that the wind was inside drinking tea and writing and that I was dancing through sun beams.

A breeze. Not a wind, per se. It would be nice to be a breeze. Everyone loves a breeze. It was a breeze. Yes, that's it. I have decided to be the breeze. Lifter of hawks and butterflies. Friend to the bee and the forest. Sometimes I can't see it though, for the trees. 

Things change and sometimes I do, too. But not all that much. No more than anyone else. I suppose I shall continue to be what I am and have been. A man who, like many men, wishes he was more like the wind. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sneak peak: "Hannigan's Fight" - on sale now.

            Hannigan sat his elbows on the old, wooden bar. He could see himself through the amber bottles. His beard was full. Grey. He looked like Santa Claus. A starving Santa Claus. He smiled at his friend Mick behind the bar. Mick splashed another dose of Jameson’s into his glass.
            The Shannon Arms was crowded. Saturday night, so the college kids were there. Hannigan sighed and threw back the whiskey in front of him. It went down smoothly and landed with a thump in his subconscious.
            He was trying to ignore the argument going on at one of the tables. Everyone was trying to ignore it. It was getting harder. Hannigan craned his neck and got a quick glimpse of them in the mirror. Young. They were in their mid-twenties – maybe. The girl was dressed far too fancy for an old Irish bar. The boy was dressed in jeans and a wrinkled shirt. The kind you have professionally wrinkled. He oozed money. And he was getting louder.
            “You think you’re something, you stupid bitch? You’re nothing. After tonight, I will never see you again. And you won’t see me.”
            Her voice was soft.
            “It’s not over … I’ll …”
            His laugh was mean-spirited, an elbow to the ribs. He smiled at his friends leaning on a booth.
            “It’s over when I say it’s over, whore. I go back to my mansion, and you can go back to sucking dick at the club, and it will be like none of this ever happened. You’re nothing. You’re trash. I should never have associated with someone like you. You’re nothing but a gold-digging bitch. And that’s all you’ll ever be.”
            Hannigan felt the eyes on him. The regulars at the bar knew. He could also feel his jaw muscles tightening. Ah, well … another resolution broken. He flexed his fingers and stood up slowly. He was not a huge man, but his arms were knots of muscle. He was wearing work pants and an old plaid shirt. His face was not like Santa’s now.
            When he saw Hannigan, the boy looked up and smirked. Hannigan forced a smile. He was a big kid. He looked strong. He smelled strong. Like expensive cologne and money.
            “Evening, kids.”
            The girl had a gentle plea dancing in the corners of her eyes. The boy was like so many Hannigan had known. He was what happened when you never have to work. When everything is given to you and life is a continual party. He was gym-strong, but his hands looked soft.
            “Good evening, old man. Very polite. Now, please go back into your alcoholic hole, you old fuck.”
Hannigan felt the surge and smiled a little.
            “Well, here’s the thing, lad. This is my bar … our bar. My brothers on the rail and I consider this place home. We don’t like people disrespecting our home. And I sure as hell don’t like hearing someone talk to a woman like that. I sure don’t.”
            The boy stood up. He was several inches taller than Hannigan and broad shouldered. His skin was baby pink.
            “There are no women here. Just some old, drunk bitches and this whore I fed for a little while. I’m done with her now … as I was just explaining … she’s used up. She’s only fit for niggers and old faggots like you, now.”
            Hannigan looked into the boy’s blue eyes. Every muscle in his body ached for blood. He looked through the boy’s eyes and saw the privilege, the things that had been given to him. Things he did not deserve. Things that had turned him into a parasite. There was complete silence in the bar. Hannigan broke it.
            “Touch me.”
            “What the fuck did you just say, faggot?”
            “I said ‘touch me’ … push me, punch me, slap me … whatever it is that pathetic, pussy little rich boys like you do. Do it. Now.”
            The punch was loopy and wide, but Hannigan didn’t duck. He took it on the cheek and smiled at the boy. Then he drove a straight right into the boy’s face. It sent him sliding across the bar floor. He stood up slowly. Hannigan’s hands were by his side. The boy adopted a boxer’s stance and grimaced hate through his bloody teeth.
            “You just made the biggest mistake of your life, old man.”
            “Possibly …”
            The boy charged and Hannigan waited until just the right second to step aside. Momentum carried the boy almost to the door. He stood up fuming, laughter pounding in his ears. He reached for the holster at the small of his back, but someone behind him neatly plucked the gun from his hand. He stood, confused for a moment, then he charged again.
            This time Hannigan planted his feet and put everything he had into another straight right. Then a left jab. Then an uppercut that knocked the boy over a table. He stood up unsteadily.
            “We don’t have to keep this going … you can apologize and leave. We’ll make sure the lass gets home.”
            The boy blinked and shook his head. His nose was swollen and blood streamed down his face.
            “Fuck you.”
            He grabbed the girl roughly by the arm and pulled her up. Hannigan’s grip on his forearm was a vise. The boy’s friends were starting to look around nervously.
            “That wasn’t one of your options, son.”
            The kick surprised Hannigan. His ankle buckled a bit, but it surprised him more than anything. He’d given the boy a chance. A chance he was too stupid to take.
            The thick, rough fist that wasn’t holding onto the boy’s forearm smashed him in the ear. Blood began to trickle out. Hannigan grabbed the front of the designer shirt and hammered six hard lefts into the kid’s stomach. He let go and the boy fell – conscious, but unable to stand. Hannigan lifted him off the floor with one hand.
            “I know talking is going to be hard for a while. Hopefully, you can listen. You don’t talk to a woman – any woman – the way you spoke to this pretty girl here. And you don’t ever come back here. This is my bar. Your friends, who did an excellent job watching you get your ass beat, by the way, can drag you out. Next time I see you, the paramedics will take you out.”
            With a shove, Hannigan sent the boy sailing toward his friends. They held him up. They obviously did not know what to do. Hannigan took a step toward them, and they all flinched. Then they dragged their blood-soaked friend out of the swinging doors.
            Hannigan looked at the young girl.
            “Do you need help?”
            She stood silently, looking at Hannigan with wide eyes. Then, she picked up her purse and left. Hannigan went back to his bar stool and sat down. There was a fresh drink waiting, and Mick was smiling.
            “That was a good one, you old mucker. You think it’ll take?”
            “Probably not.”
            “Well, you done good, mate. Adds a little excitement to the evening.”
            Hannigan smiled.
            “Same old shit.”
He drank his drink and took the towel-wrapped ice cubes for his knuckles. An hour later it seemed like a dream. Then, it was.

            The dream was nonsensical, but vivid. Beneath the veil of color and noise, he could see himself. There was a haze of cigarette smoke … faces, blurry, floated through the miasma. He could see himself, but he didn’t recognize.
            The Hannigan in the dream was scared. His shoulders were slumped. He looked tired, like he was reaching for a rope and falling short. He was lifeless.
            There were shuffling sounds from somewhere. Then the world tilted, and he was looking into a face he had only seen a few times, the first time when Matt had beaten him in the alley. The last time when he had stood on Bernal Hill and watched a man die: the man who had killed Matt’s father. Still, he could see the face clear as day. Matt Stark. He did not look afraid. He looked like he was carved from stone. Then everything turned a very blood red. Hannigan opened his eyes and saw Mick smiling at him.
            “You dreaming of the devil, mate?”
            “Argh … nah, mate. Dreaming of a good friend. Why?”
            “You were shaking and twitching something awful.”
            Hannigan looked around him and saw a clean, empty bar. He looked at the clock. 3 a.m.
            “Shit. Sorry, mate … I must be getting old. What do I owe ya?”
            “Nothing you haven’t paid a hundred times over.”
            Hannigan smiled, rapped a sore knuckle on the bar, and headed for the door. 
            The fog had set in, and the air was cool. It took the edge off the hangover that had been steadily building. He looked at the sky. He thought about the dream and shrugged it off. He flexed his aching hands and cursed.
            He saw a quarter on the ground and stooped to pick it up. Then, screeching tires, and a bus stop exploded behind him, scattering glass. Hannigan hit the ground hard and rolled. He saw the back of a red corvette just as it rounded the corner. Then, Mick was beside him.
            “What the fuck was that, mate?!”
            “You’ve got me, Mick …”
            “You know who it was?”
            “Well, judging by the phallic nature of the car in question, I could take a guess.”
            “I’ll call the cops, mate … come back inside.”
            Hannigan stood up and dusted himself off.
            “No, brother. Thanks. If that was him, the bar needs no part of it. I’d guess he’s done.”
            “For tonight, maybe.”
            “Maybe … never can tell about these kinds of things.”
            Hannigan didn’t tell Mick that he wanted to be alone. He had been fighting his whole life, but he had never been shot at. Until now. He looked at the bus stop, pulled his collar up and walked home.

            The next day, there was a call to The Shannon Arms. A warning. Get lost or get dead. The rich boy had enough money to get it done. He had said as much. Hannigan thought long and hard, and then he did the only thing he could think of: he kissed his wife, went to the post office, and then got himself lost. He found a furnished apartment in Daly City and started drinking.

Hannigan's Fight is the sequel to The Biker. They don't have to be read in order, but it wouldn't hurt. The Biker is also available in paperback HERE. Thanks for your support! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

It was bound to happen.

I thought it was stupid from the very beginning. I was against it. But you persisted. And we were living together and the world seemed like the world seems when you're twenty. So, we checked the paper. "Let's just go look," you said. I looked into your eyes and said the same thing I always said: "OK."

So, we went to this lady's house. She had a box full of kittens. I didn't know jack shit about cats, but I didn't have any problem with them. And the kittens were hella cute. The box was pretty evenly divided. Half the little things were all white and half were black and white.

"Take your pick."

How do you even do that? You were motor-mouthing the lady and I wished to God that no one had even invented Dexedrine. Or that I had a handful. How do you pick a living thing? I honestly had no idea.

So, I'm staring at this mound of fur and thinking, "I don't even fucking want a cat. What the hell are we doing here?"

It's just me, staring at these kittens. Then one of them opens his eyes. He sees me. He stares at me, and then he walks over and puts his front paws on my leg. Makes that kitten noise. It chipped a little of the blackness off my heart. It did, and I don't care if you think that's stupid or not.

"We'll take this one."

"Don't I get a say in this?"

"Nope. I didn't either. He chose. Or she? He? Yeah, he chose."

We named you Cat. No sane person can hate a kitten. I learned that pretty quick. Suddenly, I was a pet owner. I could barely keep myself alive and probably wouldn't have bothered if it hadn't been for you, your dexedrine, or your dad's credit card. We drank a lot. We did a lot of things a lot. We lived in a tiny room in a punk house. It was no place for a kitten. You couldn't keep your hands off him. I couldn't give enough of a shit to put the bourbon, weed, and whatever else we had away. When we turned off the light, the kitten came and slept on my chest. And he did it every night thereafter. And, man, did that piss you off.

A year or so passed and the cat got big, and I realized I liked cats a lot. Then one day I came home and the locks had been changed. It didn't surprise me too much. You had that runny nose again. And you hadn't come home the past few nights.

I didn't have a cell phone, and I don't think you did either. It was a long time ago. I called you at work. I said that if you didn't come home, I would kick the door in. And if I couldn't, I would call the cops. God, I hated you so much at that moment. I have never hated like that since.

You came home, and you were all coke-freaked and fucking weird and talking about how I couldn't take any of your CDs or whatever. I picked the cat up.

"I don't give a fuck what you do with any of my shit. You think I'm leaving the cat, you're out of your fucking mind, though."

"I know you'll take the cat. I thought about it."

And that was the greatest gift you could have given me. I still hated you, but the lingering love was there ... right up until you didn't fight for the cat. Then, I lost all respect for you. I found the cheapest, ghetto studio I could find. When I came back, you'd boxed up all my shit. I guess the Dexedrine was good for something.

I had been getting clean-ish, but that stopped with a quickness. Over the next several months, I read everything John D MacDonald wrote, and I drank as much bourbon as I could. Which was a lot. And I'd rail some mini-thins when the Dexedrine memory hurt too much. And I'd smoke. And I'd pet the cat. He followed me everywhere. My lap was his. It always will be.

You can think it's stupid all you want, but I don't think I'd be alive if it wasn't for my cat. We'd sit and play fetch for hours. He tolerated the drinking. He hated it when I was on uppers. He wouldn't come near me when I was tweaking. So, I stopped. I didn't want to disappoint him.

It seems like all this happened to a different person. Every morning I woke up, and I had no idea where I would go to sleep that night. No benders anymore, though. Someone had to feed the cat. You never went hungry. I made sure of that.

I probably would have died. I certainly wanted to. But it wasn't the fucking cat's fault, and I wasn't going to let him suffer for it. My stupidity. Our stupidity. It was about this time that I realized I loved that fucking cat more than anything in the world.

That was 16 years ago. Now, I'm a grown ass man. I'm fucking old, man. Not old old, but older than I ever thought I'd get back then. We've spent almost half my life together, the cat and I. We lived with my best friend for years. I got married. My wife was always nice to my cat. If she hadn't been, she would not be my wife. She would be married to someone with money and normal emotions and maybe that would be better for her, but not for me. Not for us.

We brought two babies into the house, and the cat wouldn't go near them. The doctors - everybody - don't let the cat near the baby! And I'd think, "You don't know shit about me or my cat." If I'd have thought there was even a glimmer of a chance that the girls were in danger ... you never hurt a person except Eugene and Billy and they asked for it. Dog people. Too rough.

When the girls were the same weight as the cat, everything changed. Every morning, my oldest would wake up and grab that black tail, rubbing it on her nose and giggling. The girls were never gentle with my old black and white cat.

The cat was gentle. He understood. He understands. My youngest is one now, and she is hell on wheels. And my cat has never hissed at her. Never scratched. Never done anything but accept that little people can be rough, but they don't mean any harm. And I'm onto your game, Cat. You could run away. Instead, you move a foot away and wait for the baby to come grab another handful of fur.

I don't like putting you in the carrier, Cat. I don't like taking you to the Vet. I don't like them sticking things into you - taking your blood and piss - and I can't even explain it to you. But you understand. I know you do. You trust me. You always did, whether I deserved it or not.

I will always think of this story because it says it all. I used to have one of those eye masks you can put in the fridge. I came home one day and you were covered in gel, Cat. Then I saw the mask. Then I freaked. I didn't know what the fuck they put in those things. I picked you up and we got in the shower. And I washed you. And you licked my face the whole time, claws embedded in my shoulders, but not from anger ...

So, they're testing your blood as we speak. I won't even spend the money to find out why I have "decreased liver function". I don't care. But I'll spend $300 to find out what's wrong with you, Cat. I owe you that and so much more. Even if all that I find out is that time is a bitch. Some people have pets. I've never felt like I "had" you, buddy. I always figured if you wanted to, you'd leave. But you never left my side. You're my friend. We have each other.

Through pneumonia and horrible sicknesses (natural and self-inflicted), there has always been one thing I could count on. One furry little thing that chose me 16 years ago, when I didn't even choose myself very often.

We've gone from one room, filled with addictions and sadness to three rooms filled with love and baby smells. I don't know what the tests will say. It doesn't matter. Cats don't live forever. I know that. It has been one of my worst fears for over a decade.

I'll repay you as much as I can, bud ... it will never be enough. But I'll sleep beside you while you're sick. I'll try to keep the sunny places clear for you to use. I'll try not to cry, and I'll try not to punch the wall until my hand is a mangled mosaic of bones and blood. I'll try to live up to the example you set, bud. Because you always had class. You still do. You didn't learn it from me. I think you were born with it. And, when it does happen, you'll die with it too, Cat. And I will reach for the dignity that you tried to teach me. I wonder how close I'll get?

I don't care about too many things that aren't human. But I always figured you were only half cat anyway. The other half? I have no idea. Something more noble than human, there's no doubt about that.

Friday, September 13, 2013

3 Minutes. Go!

It's flash Friday again. All writers and non writers are welcome to put their three minute free write in the comments section on this post. Tell a friend. The more the merrier. 

Reckon I'll go fishing today. It's one of those days. The sky is fragrant blue, and not even Huck Finn could resist that. I want to stand beside the lake. Feel the wind like a cool cloth, whipped across the water, draped across my neck. I want to see ospreys and eagles dance on the capricious whims of the wind.

I want to try a few lures and see if the fish are feeling picky. I'd like to catch a fish, but I don't care if I do. I know I will catch a few minutes to stand, sun warm on my shoulders, wind singing in my ears, blocking out the racket that is usually inside my broken ears. I will nod like my grandfathers nodded. At passersby. An accepted greeting on a quiet shoreline. I am here. You are here. And it's great. Ain't it?

Thursday, September 12, 2013


It lives in the strangest places, true beauty. It is not on billboards, selling shampoo. It does not lurk in the spacious dressing rooms of expensive department stores. It is not injected into your skin. It has nothing to do with your skin, actually. Unless you have especially nice skin.

I have seen beauty. I have found it under smooth, satin stones in rivulet streams. With the sun behind me, I have seen flecks of gold and more. You can see it, too.

I see it every day in the soft reflection of light in my daughters' hair. Beauty dances there. It is not still, not for a moment, because my daughters' have busy hair that keeps beauty on its toes.

There is beauty in the soft, tired eyes that hide behind the sleep mask my wife wears. And she will take the mask off in a second. To comfort a sick child. To talk to a scared friend. To hold her husband down when he is afraid of floating away. There is beauty all around her.

Beauty hides in the eyes of the folks I see. Same folks, every day. Each one makes me feel something different, but it is an awareness of life. The nod and twinkle in the eye. I know you. You know me. We see each other. You are beautiful. I hope you see some beauty in it. I hope it makes you realize you are alive, too.

There is beauty in the eyes of someone finding love. Whether it is the first or the thousandth time. There is a release and madness in the smile and pumping heart.

Why speak of beauty? I don't know. I spoke of ugliness yesterday and I don't believe in telling one side of the story.

It is in the gentle smile that belies the pain I know old men feel when they try to stand young. It is in the single Mom who can somehow squeeze a few extra hours into her days. It is the old woman with the sweater she wears every day. It took me months to notice the sweater because it is hard not to look at all those teeth. I don't know whether it's senility or wisdom, but I want it.

The world is a beautiful place. It can also be horrid and ugly. If it wasn't so beautiful, the ugliness would not stand out. If the ugliness were gone, the beauty would become routine.

This isn't much of a story, but I don't have much of a story in me right now. I woke up feeling like I was sedated. Then I stepped out into beauty. I can hear the chirps of my youngest as she strains to get her words heard. My five year old always wants to know how she looks. There are only so many times you can say: "You look like beauty." That looks real nice, kid. I like your shirt.

There is beauty in pain. There is beauty in suffering and sadness. There is beauty in all things that man has access to. You miss a lot if you only look for beauty in the "common" places. Museums. Gardens. I'd rather find a bedraggled dandelion, broken at the stem. Because that's not just beauty, that is a story, and stories are the most beautiful things of all.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Just Visiting

It's been a while since we hung out, so I thought I'd give you a shout. People talk a lot of shit about you. They do the same to me. Together, we'll get 'em. Join arms and circle the wagons, there's reality about.

You were always there. If I abused that, it was on me. No one made me push so hard. No one made me think anything I didn't want to think already. Anything I didn't know. That's bullshit, but it sounds so sweet.

So, we'll sit and chat awhile. I'll do most of the talking. That was the deal from day one, and it ain't changed now at 'day whatever the fuck it is'.

They don't understand us. But, to be fair, I don't understand a goddamn thing about them. They're a different species or something. People are dying in prisons all over the country. Some of them are guilty. Some are innocent. Some are less guilty than others - some were just trying to get by without hurting anyone. Silly fuckers, don't they know banks are the only ones who can steal? You pay taxes that maintain those prisons. But you can't hear the word "fuck" without changing your underwear. Ain't it just a peach.

Fuck you.

I'm not turning a blind eye to shit. I'm not gonna watch 'America's Top Vapid Fucktard'. I'm not gonna sanitize my speech, the shit I preach, or the way I do it. Shit's like trying to take the fuzz of a peach. I want the pit. Screw it.

So, here's your comfortable American life. You can control the temperature in your house. You have clean water to drink. You are never hungry unless you choose to be hungry. Sure, there are people being tortured and murdered. Sure, we have US military personnel working with admitted child molesters in Afghanistan. Sure, people get raped. Occasionally, we fly a robotic death robot into innocent people trying to live their lives and just fucking BE. But you don't have to think about any of that shit when the snack bowl's full and there's mindless entertainment to be had. I'm so glad.

Ah, brother. See, you can't make sense of them. Because they're hypocrites. And we may be assholes. We may be degenerates. We may be addicted and broken and we may fucking cry too much. Dig. I am a privileged, white, semi-intelligent American. I may be broke, but I don't know what poor is. Actually, that's not quite right. I just haven't lived it. I've never watched my child die of starvation. But I'm not about to sit in my living room talking about the rain instead of the international child sex rings. I'm a coward of a different kind. I'm afraid not to know the truth.

You understand. You always did. That's why we always got along so well. You want to hear something fucked? I got an email a few weeks back from a guy who wanted me dead because I used the word "nigger" in a story. A story about the injustice, racism, and the ignorance of ... da Da DUM! ... "my fellow Americans".

How could I use that word? Oh, the shame. Maybe it's because when I use it, I use it as a magnifying glass to shine light on high-horsing motherfuckers who would never say the word "nigger" ... but also don't have any black friends. And can't talk to black people. What a fucking irony that is. I look at people and their color means jack shit to me. I had a football coach one time. Kid asked him what color pussy was best. He said, "they're all pink inside, son." Maybe ... just maybe the same thing applies to brains. You fucking idiot.

Fag, too. Although the fags seem to get it. Most people seem to get it, frankly. I know you understand. You aren't too packed with bullshit and Doritos to see the truth. And there are many truths, but this is my favorite: I don't care if you're gay. I don't care what color your skin is. I don't care is you like to suck your dog's dick - you live your life, I'll live mine. We'll all live with the personal repercussions. I've said it a thousand times and I'll keep saying it. If you aren't hurting me or anyone else then: I. Don't. Give. A. Fuck. What. YOU. Do. I got enough of my own shit to worry about. I'm worried about REAL shit. Your jerking off to 'barely 18' porn just makes me sad for you. But I don't give a shit, really. I'd rather build some legos with my kids.

Let's stick with the niggers and fags for a second because I truly think it's interesting. I'm not gonna go all Lenny Bruce on this shit 'cause I don't have the chops or the time. But if I write a book and a character calls someone a nigger or a fag or a gook or a cracker, what ... I'm not supposed to use those words? PEOPLE STILL TALK LIKE THAT. Not people I chill with, but there are plenty of people I've MADE UP that I don't want anything to do with. So, you're so pure and loving and full of fucking gnome butterflies that it pales your very soul to think about the terrible, awful, SICK, people that use those words in EARNEST. That's some racist, homophobic BULLSHIT right there.

You want to watch the History Channel and get all concerned and thoughtful when you realize that over half a million Americans died in the Civil War. Fuck you. How do you think they died? You think it was pretty? Were there angels, even? Or did those poor, misled motherfuckers die in muddy trenches, screaming, trying to shove back in what the bayonet freed? But I can't write about it. It's too hard to think about. It makes you sad. Cry me a fucking river while you're pulling your head out of your ass you two-faced fuckers.

See, I really don't get it. And I know you do. Why don't they fucking understand? Why are they afraid of words and ideas that might actually penetrate the pretty layer of frosting they put on their 'I'm a fucking hypocrite' cake?

Man, it's good to see you again. Been too long. I don't have anyone to talk to about this shit. It was always just the two of us. I know, I'm getting all sentimental now. Spilling guts.

So, let them be offended because I won't lie. Nigger is an ugly ass word. So is fag. So is "special" if you say it with the right eye-roll. It doesn't mean the word doesn't exist. It doesn't mean that BECAUSE YOUR FUCKING GREAT GRANDMA WASN'T A SLAVE, you get to be all pish-toshed and hanky-reaching because, "well, gee, Martha ... I just don't understand why he has to say all those vile things." Cause people fucking say them. And they mean them. And I'm not cool with that. And I'm not quite insane enough to care about my lawn. Even if I had one. Agree or disagree. Hate me or love me. I could give a fuck. I'm gonna go read a book. Don't you have something important TiVo'd. Why would you want to spend your time listening to a washed up 'could have been somebody' speak ugly truths?

I don't even care that much. As long as you know this. Not because I'm a sick fuck. Although it has been said about me. I wrote a story about rape once that was basically a riff off of a personal experience (on the bad side) and lost a shitload of "friends". I don't care if you want to wake up, go to work, have a few drinks, pretend that the word 'genocide' doesn't apply to "countries like America". I don't care as long as you have the fucking decency to at least acknowledge that while you are getting the last crumbs out of the potato chip bag and wishing you had a bigger TV, there are children being killed. In horrible ways that I could describe. And will describe. Because someone has to tell the fucking truth. Shitty things abound. There are women getting raped. There are a thousand atrocities to account for your pleasant Wednesday evening. You turn a blind eye, and that makes you complicit. Think about it. I sure have.

What am I even talking about? This doesn't do shit for anyone except me. I get full up with the lies and I have to get it out, and this is the only way I know of that doesn't involve law enforcement.

Forget you even read this if you made it this far. Make sure you keep it on the hush and hush if you did read it all. You wouldn't want to ruin someone's night when all they wanted to do was watch a movie and relax. It was a hard day!

Step up and be counted. Watchoo want? Hell, reparation and endless hate? Degradation and a police state? How about 'separation of church and state'? In God we trust, you dumb bitches.

You and me? Shit, brother. We'll always be cool. You hurt me and I'll hurt you. We'll go to the dust, entwined, making spastic animal fucking sounds. Actually, I'm pretty sure the train's about to leave the track, but honestly, I don't care. I have told the truth. If that's what does me in - jail, the nuthouse, a swift bullet in the night - then fine. And I'm glad I was right about them. They've gotten away with too much. They've gotten away with everything. And I just heard the timer ding. Ten minutes is all you get 'cause it's all you're worth. Not you. THEM.

Frankly, I'm running out of fucks. I gave them all away a long time ago.

Friday, September 6, 2013

3 Minutes. Go!

If this is your first time, we do this most Fridays. Everyone who wants to is welcome to write - three minute free write - in the comments section on this post. Play as many times as you like and tell a friend. It's fun when these things get BIG. (We're trying to break the internet, SHHH!!!)

So, it got the jump on me this time. The clock twitched and I had no choice. I don't know what I was going to write anyway. I have the overwhelming feeling that I have gone too deep and am losing sight of daylight. I don't understand peoples' motivations. I wish I did. I'm just not that guy. I either judge people harshly and end up feeling like a jerk, or I give the jerks too much benefit in my doubt.

Doubts are tricky things. They are like those creatures that live at the bottom of the sea, gargoyled and terrifying. They live in darkness and dart out to take their nips and leave their stings. I will try to stay near the surface, where the air is fresh and redolent with salt. I will, today, stay floating, calmly, above the nefarious, blind, monster fish that own the bottom.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Person

I don't like it. Let's get that out of the way right now. I'm cool talking about you, but I don't dig this "I" shit all that much. But I am realizing more and more that sometimes you don't get to choose, and sometimes the First Person is the only way to get it done.

I'll give you something to look at. That might help. Here it is. An old memory:

There was 'old school' black and white victorian tile in the bathroom. I've always been a fan of staring at patterns. Things come out. I see things. I can't do it with my eyes closed. Blurry, yeah. At any rate, this tile was fucked and cracked and unloved, just like the rest of the house. I used to stare at it every morning. I'd rest my head against something cool and porcelain - usually the sink - and I'd stare at this black and white geometric monstrosity around me. My David Lynch mornings, I suppose. A lot of things came out of that tile, and most of them were unpleasant; I'd try to reason them out while swallowing saliva and trying not to puke because I had just stopped filling the toilet with blood. And I didn't want to see any more blood.

I'll snap you back now. That's how good writers do it. Fuck that 'smooth transition' shit. I still stare at patterns a lot, but now I see mostly cartoon characters. Faces. Dogs. Boring things, but boring is a good look for the first thing in the morning. I don't miss hangovers one bit.

I think I tried to be everything I didn't want to be because I thought it would make everyone else happy, and then they'd leave me alone. It didn't work. I've stopped that now. And, most times, I don't even want to be left alone. Not really.

I look at shadow leaves dance on the sun-stroked facade of the building across the street, and the images come and go, but the words never stop. I suppose that's a choice I made. Let's say it's a choice I made. I can say whatever I want. I can't make you agree with me, but you'll have to take my word for it. Or don't. I wouldn't. In reality, it is probably because some part of my brain is broken.

Every day, I tell myself something like this: "You dumbfuck. Listen. Stop thinking about whether people are gonna buy your books. Stop worrying about whether the girls are really enjoying themselves. They will or they won't. Stop trying to control everything. Just. Fucking. Stop." And then life shows up and blows my pep talk right out of the water.

There are things I cling to. Stupid things. I once caught a steelhead while standing in a beautiful stream with a sunset behind me. It was one of those sunsets. Like someone said, "eh, sunsets are OK." And then mother nature was like, "the fuck did you just say to me, bitch? You want to see a fucking sunset?!" Blam. It was like that. Like someone turned fire into paint and spilled it across the sky. I never knew there were so many shades of pink and purple.

I have a few snapshots. When I throw my daughter up into the air at the pool, there is a moment at the apex when her face IS pure happiness. I can just see it. And I can't help but laugh. The bald dude with the shitty tattoos can make his girl smile. I want the world to know. Then I wonder why I give a shit if anyone knows but us. Then I think about that for twelve hours while life is happening and I'm stuck at the pool. Not being able to hear well doesn't help.

My older daughter plays her cards close to her chest like me. She is like a wary animal. I know it all too well. Sometimes, I weep for both of us. But it is what it is. For both of us. And when she tells you something, she fucking means it. I just teared up thinking of a few things she has said over the years. Things I won't tell anyone because I want them to be just for us. They are precious, and I know that we both understand that. Enough. My eyes are tired of making tears.

I don't know if I deserve it, but I am a wealthy man. I could sell everything I own and still be in debt. I hope every night that the economy collapses completely so everyone will be as fucked as I am. Then, I think what a dick thing that is to wish for and I feel bad. Because I am wealthy in so many ways. And I am poor in one very big way that means jack shit. Only it means more than it should.

Something else to look at? Sure. I've seen my wife lots of times. But there are a few times I remember with absolute clarity. If I could paint, I would paint them. Instead I hog-tie them with words and keep them tucked away. Writers aren't supposed to use cliches, but they're supposed to sell lots of books and I don't do that, so I'm throwing out the whole goddamn playbook. Here's a big fucking fat cliche and fuck you and fuck Mark Twain and fuck John Fante. Understand that love and hate run a very fine line when stirred with panic and jealousy. I have never seen a more beautiful woman than I saw on my wedding day. And that's the goddamn truth.

I try to think of metaphors for life and they all seem pat or overly dramatic and emo. And everyone's path is different. I feel like I've spent my life walking down a long hallway bumping into shit. Some good shit, some bad. I don't feel like I've had all that much control over it, to be honest. Which scares me, because I held life by the throat for as long as I could, trying to make it do things my way.

I wonder, frequently, if everyone is as weak and scared as I am. I think they are. Unless they delude themselves. I don't think I'm being overly dramatic about it. I think life is filled with wonder and, if you're lucky, you get to hold onto some of the wonder for when the storms of doubt and sadness come.

I put these words down, and maybe a few dozen people care. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I know it sounds like it, but, honestly, I'm just shocked by the futility of it all. Some days, I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile. Creating. Something. Then other days I think: "Peoples' fucking kids die. People are born with AIDS. People suffer unimaginable horrors. And you have the audacity to think anyone gives a shit what you think?! What's the worst thing that ever happened to your privileged ass?"

And that's not to say I don't have my share of sob stories. Bring a bottle of bourbon over and I'll have you crying in ten minutes. By the end of the bottle you'll think I'm some kind of saint. I fucking hate that about myself. That's why I like to tell other peoples' stories. Mine are all sappy bullshit.

But it's all just futile and stupid and masturbatory and ugly. The whole fucking thing. Like a story about a kickball will change the world. Like anyone is going to turn off their TVs long enough to wonder. I should get a TV. I should chuck it all. I really should. But I won't. Because I'm selfish and stubborn and I want people to listen to me. As long as it's on my terms. Again, this is why I like the Third Person. Or the Second. Let's talk about you, because I'm a mass of bullshit and it's too hard to sort out. You're much easier.

But, for good or ill, this isn't about you.