Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I'm Glad I "Knew" You.

You came in right before closing, stumbling that stoned, blinky walk. Staring at all the shiny stuff. You didn't know I was watching. If you had known, you would have felt awkward, but there was no reason to feel anything. You wore a heavy coat and rainbow gloves and the flurries outside had anointed you. The flakes were melting to slow trickles that darkened the gold in your hair.

I didn't see you again for weeks. I wasn't looking, really - I'm not a stalker - you were on my mind, though. One of those snapshots that won't go away - a soft moment that you are allowed to witness with no recrimination. No forced hellos. No teeth-grinding small talk. I saw you like a vision: the snow princess.

When I saw you the second time, you were sitting at a table, eating. There was a guy with you. You were sitting at a ninety degree angle to him. He looked like a nice guy. He was handsome, but he just looked nice. He had one of those wool coats with the barrel wooden buttons and a hood. He seemed like the kind of guy who could sit in on drums and not make a big deal about it. You held hands. I was happy for both of you; I was sad for me.

I started seeing you around more after that. And I saw him, too. Then, I started feeling like a stalker. Not because I was, but because I had built a whole life for the two of you. I'm sure that neither of you noticed me, you had no reason to. But I thought about you. I'd see you at Dolores Park and think stupid things. I should buy them pastries. I never did. I imagined your weekend jaunts and smiled some kind of smile.

I knew when you broke up - it was pretty obvious. I felt like I should say something, do something, make some kind of gesture. I also thought that would creep you the fuck out. I thought, briefly, about making some kind of play. Trying to make you mine. But you were his, whether you were or not. It didn't feel right. I knew it would never feel right. And I didn't want to destroy my creation.

It was all so long ago. You can't help but wonder sometimes, no one can. I can still see your face so clearly. And it is perfect. That face. Eyes deep, lost in wonderment and chill. I owe you, and I hope that things worked out well. I'm happy with the way things worked out, myself. I'm glad that I never had to see those eyes flash anger. I'm glad that we never had a disagreement over coffee. I'm glad I met you, even though you never met me. I'm glad I knew you, even if it wasn't really you.

Friday, October 25, 2013

2 minutes. Go!

It's FLASH FICTION FRIDAY again. Basically, all writers are invited to do a free write for five minutes in the comments section. It is definitely more fun when we have thirty people playing instead of five, so tell a friend (and have a lovely weekend from the folk at JDMader.com), ;)

You got to make sure you're playing in the right key. That's the most important thing. Otherwise it's going to sound like shit. Otherwise, you won't be hitting it right and it will sound like cats fighting.

You don't want things to sound like cats fighting do you? It's an even worse sound than cats getting it on. Cats can make some Godawful noises, that's for sure. I know, I saw them one time on Broadway making the most sentimental racket you ever heard. 

I stepped in vomit on the way out of the theater. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Green Sweater

You wore that green sweater all the time. I remember wondering if it was your favorite or your only. I wanted to be both, see. Your favorite and your only. Not really. In that way that twelve year old boys have, knowing they can outman the compromised adults they see around them if only given the chance.

We rode the bus. Nothing special about that. Except it was special. Because I could see glimpses of your smile, your hair. I rode in the back, of course. You sat right at the front, backpack still on, like you were ready to hit the ground at a dead sprint to get the jump on learning. Straight back, green sweater. You smelled like flowers.

No one spoke to you. I wonder, now, if that hurt? Did you feel snubbed? Did you not realize that the other girls feared you and the boys were terrified? We were content to get our short glimpses. They kept us going for weeks. The girls just wanted to be you and some of them took it hard. I hope to hell you didn't think it was because no one liked you. You were just a different species, and we couldn't relate.

The weird thing about time, the part I can never understand is this: I have no idea where you are. What you're doing. You're a few years older than me. We wouldn't recognize each other on the street. But I would instantly recognize that green sweater. No doubt. And sometimes when I walk through grocery stores, I realize that you smelled like laundry detergent, not flowers.

Friday, October 18, 2013

5 Minutes. Go!

It's FLASH FICTION FRIDAY again. Basically, all writers are invited to do a free write for five minutes in the comments section. It is definitely more fun when we have thirty people playing instead of five, so tell a friend (and have a lovely weekend from the folk at JDMader.com), ;)

I stand, watching the police officer as he methodically tickets a line of cars. The sun glints off the polyester creases of his uniform, badge bright, hair short and efficient. His shoes shine, too. And his cuffs. Look like they've never been used, those cuffs.

I wonder if I ever look as shiny and put together, but I know I don't. I don't look that efficient and shiny on my best day. On my best day, I might shave.

The sun is high in the sky, but the breeze is kind and soft. The type of weather where you just have time to register the thought: I'm a little warm. Then the gentle wind sweeps the heat away, dabbing and the sweat on your forehead. The damp spot between your shoulder blades.

The cop does not seem to notice the heat and I wonder at it. How much of my heat comes from inside. From pounding heart and repetitive jackhammer thoughts that bang, bang, bang, bang...

It starts me sweating more. I'm a little drunk and a little stoned and I smile at the cop and wave. And his look is everything. It is the look I give my daughter when she is acting childish. It is a look that says a real man can stand in a polyester suit and not sweat. I walk home with a clammy wetness coating my body. Sliding, slug like, hoping no one pours any more salt on me today. Beer? OK. It might kill me, but I'll take that risk.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Other Me

You make the call, I'll show my cards. I'll let them fall over both of us like giant snowflakes, licking the soft air in their descent. We will cock our necks and twist our minds and dance around each other, courting trust.

I am soaked in blood on the inside. Filled up with it. I let it out in small, controlled pulses. Thin rivers that run down the arm, slowing time. I watch the slithering blood and smile, feeling peace. You want to know the serenity that I feel, but it is not available to all. You have to pay your dues.

My arms and legs, fingers: foreign things. They do not feel a part of me. Like someone switched them in the night. Replaced my arms with these dead things that hang as if weighted. My fingers are frostbitten, blackening; I am waiting for them to fall off.

You were not there when I needed you. And you held your attentions (or lack thereof) above my head like a cursing cousin. I jumped, and you always pulled just out of reach, laughing at my futile attempts.

We were something, weren't we? Before the decay. Before the disease. We were spritely, playful. We did not buy into the system because we did not understand it. We still don't. I do understand that thumbing my nose at it was not a good idea. Or, perhaps it was the perfect idea, and you pay for perfection.

We pay in sweat and fear and twisted guts and end-of-day sighs that escape when we lay down our heads. Did that sound just come from me? It is a frightening prospect because we never wanted to be the kind of people who made those soft, sad sighs.

I say we, but I mean me, of course. Me and the other me.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Four Minutes. Go!

There are a lot of things you can do in four minutes and a lot you can't. And a lot you can do in four that will seem like one or feel like hours. We all just muddy the waters, waiting for showers. Cause they bring mayflowers, which wasn't a real good thing for a lot of people, but what's done is done.

I feel the crispness in the air and panic starts to rise. I don't know why. The next few months will hit me hard. They always do. In the past they have meant trips to the ER and embarrassing breakdowns. This year, I don't know. Tis the magic of the season, I guess.

I want to be so many things that I can't keep track, so I end up covered in mud, spinning my wheels. I even throw my share. And I get muddied myself. The world is a fucked up place. It's hard to figure out who's right when everyone is.

Ignorance is a strange adventure. I know all about it. I am ignorant of so many things. And for someone who prides himself on characterization, I have been feeling real ignorant about real people lately. Or maybe disappointed is a better word. I'm disappointed in all of us.

But it's time to string lights and put up scary pictures. Won't that be fun.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


"You said that just to hurt me."

John stared into the wall, trying to decide. He had known it would hurt, but he considered it an act of kindness and desperation. Better to hurt a little bit then to let things get worse ... to make the pain more acute had to be better than letting it fester. His eyes bored into the wall and he tried to decide how he could always be wrong. Because he was. She said it. She was usually right ...

"Now you're not even going to say anything?"

"I'm trying to think."

He could feel the tightness in his throat. Why don't asteroids ever fall on people when they should? Not her. Him. He wanted to kiss the asteroid. He'd gladly become the asteroid. Floating in some black void of nothingness. Goddamn, he wanted that fucking asteroid.

"You're mean. I can't believe you would do this."

He pressed his thumbs into his eyes and watched the light show, worms of neon sparkling in the black.

"What should I do?"

The tears were coming. John wondered why he placed so much more importance on her tears than his own. Wasn't he the one that was dying? Wasn't he the one grasping for straws? Reaching and always falling short. Trying to keep the anger from destroying them. Somehow it had all become his fault again. It was a neat trick and he didn't fault her for it. He respected it. A novel skill.

"You're probably right. I'm probably the asshole. This is why I didn't even want to talk about it."

"Don't give me that bullshit!"

"You can't have it both ways. Either I'm an asshole or I'm not. I just ..."

"You just what?"


"No, just fucking say it. You said it before. Is there someone else?"

"What?! No. No, there is no one else."

"You're a fucking liar."

"Believe what you want."

Silence elbowed its way back into the room. John sank back in his chair. He sat and listened to her cry. He picked at a cuticle and chewed the inside of his lip. Why was it always so goddamn complicated. How did it work? He needed help. He'd needed help for years. But instead of help he'd gotten angry tears, accusations, and then a sly return to the status quo.

"You're telling me that ..."

"I'm not telling you anything."

"You sure as hell ..."

"I told you what I had to say. You don't want to hear it. I'm not gonna say it again."

"That's convenient."

"Yeah, just like 7-11."

John stood slowly before he turned and began the trudge up the stairs.

"Now you're just going to walk away?"

"What else can I do?"

"Whatever, John. Walk away."

He hesitated for a moment and then continued his ascent of the stairs. Downstairs was thick with confused rage. Upstairs, his thoughts could unfold. Upstairs, there were books. A shotgun. A bottle of scotch someone had given him years ago. John didn't drink, but it sounded more appealing than the shotgun, and he was too tired to read.

He sat in his office chair and pulled the heavy bottle out of the drawer. It looked expensive. It probably was. He opened it and took a drink straight from the bottle. It made his mouth fall in on itself. It brought the mouth sweat, and he was convinced he would vomit, but he didn't.

John sat in his lonely office and sipped from the bottle. His thoughts were like a scared animal, skittish. He listened to the cabinets being slammed in the bathroom. He heard the water run, stop. He waited until he was sure she was asleep, and then he sighed.

He had not realized how drunk he was. Standing was difficult. But he was tired of standing. He had made his stand. And failed. Again. He lowered himself to the floor, feeling the scratch of the cheap carpet. The scotch had been the only thing they'd had that wasn't cheap. And now it was opened. Ruined. Half empty, half full, it didn't matter. It was a stupid fucking bottle, and he didn't need any wisdom from it.

He loved her. She didn't believe it, but it was true. He needed help. He was scared. But there was no one to talk to. No friends. He couldn't talk to her. He felt sudden nausea and turned his head, launching scotch flavored bile onto the cheap carpet. And then everything was black.

When he awoke, she was towering above him.

"So, I was up all night waiting for you to come to bed and you got drunk?"


"And I suppose you want me to clean this shit up?"


"Is that all you have to say?"


She left the office, slamming the door, which sent bright bolts of pain through John's head. Everything made sense in his head. He could think of the right words. They seemed reasonable. But when they were out in the world they squirmed and scuttled under furniture.

It would take a week or so, but things would return to "normal". Nothing would be resolved. Except for one thing. John had resolved himself to it. He would not try to argue anymore. It would get easier. Injustice was killing him, but he knew if he accepted it, stopped thinking about it ...

John rolled over on his side and wondered if these things happened in their neighbors' houses. He wondered if it was all his fault. He decided to assume it was. It would make things simpler. And he was halfway there. In a few more decades it wouldn't matter. He could nod and grin for a few decades. He'd done it before. It was like riding a bike. You never forget how to push your emotions down until they live in you like a cancer. You never forget the pain of self-inflicted guilt. You never forget the freedom of apathy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eat Your Peas

Tim Duluth was six years old. He was a small boy, tall, but thin with bad posture. He was the kind of kid who was equally happy playing in the park or in his imagination. Not many things angered Timmy. But he was angry. And he was not going to eat his peas. No matter what. He'd rather die.

Dinner had been over for hours. It was getting close to Timmy's bedtime, and the showdown was approaching. His mother was making more trips to the kitchen. Timmy could almost hear her biting her tongue. He felt a little bit guilty. He had no problem with his mom. He loved her. But he hated pees. But it wasn't about the peas.

There was something inside Timmy that made him want to do the exact opposite of whatever he was told to do. Years later, shifty eyed 'specialists' would give it fancy names. Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which sounded like a special ops army unit - or a punk band. There were others, too. The reality was that Timmy was stubborn, did not like peas, and, therefore, was not going to eat the stupid, crap shit peas.

His mother walked behind him and stopped. He felt her hands on his shoulders.

"Timmy. I understand, but those peas will make you strong."

"I'm not going to eat them."

And then Tim had an idea. Without a word, he began to shovel peas in his mouth until they were all gone and his mouth was packed full. He reached for his warm milk.

"Tim! Stop, you'll choke!"

Timmy smiled as he took a small sip of milk, all that would fit. Then he grabbed the edge of the table and swallowed. It was like swallowing a ping pong ball, but he didn't choke. His mother sighed.

"Timmy. What are we going to do with you?"

Leaping down, Timmy smiled.

"Whatever. Fine. Brush your teeth and wash up. It's bedtime."

Timmy ran to the bathroom and stuck his finger down his throat. The peas and milk came up in a warm rush. He flushed the toilet, but only half the peas went down. He flushed again and a few more went, while the rest floated back to the surface. He was about to flush for the third time when he heard the knob to the bathroom door turning.

Friday, October 4, 2013

2 minutes! Go!

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

Man, I wish I had an old Nash Rambler. I wish I was a high rolling gambler. I wish I was a six-gun slung ambler. Most of all, I wish that that I could go back to sleep.

Sleep is a weird drug. I like it. The comedown's a bitch, though. But I like drugs and I like bitches. I don't like thugs and I don't like snitches. 

Two minutes is hella short. Just saying. You can judge all you want. I wrote this one handed while standing on my head guzzling Everclear. Clear as day.

That sucked, so I'm going twice. Haha!

You didn't have to say it. I even said, "you don't have to fucking say it." But you said it anyway - I knew you would. You needed to throw some pebbles down from the pedestal. It ain't lost on me. This blatant disregard for decency. Emotions aren't cards and you can't poke 'em. And even if you could, you'd bust and I have a straight. So, let's get one thing settled. You can whine and sure, it nettles. But I don't give a shit, 'cause there's tea in the tea kettle. And I still have a few seconds left to tell you...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Kick Start

Her mind was struggling, gasping; she snatched thoughts, discarded them - they were flighty and filled with strange wanderlust. She was in an old barn. She knew the smell. She could see shafts of straw-soaked sunlight between the old warped boards.

She couldn't move, and, as her mind stretched, she realized that this was cause for serious alarm. It started slowly. The engine wouldn't turn over. Something wrong. My legs. Numb. I can't move. Why can't I move?!

The panic kick-started her mind. She felt the fog slipping away under new rays of understanding. She was supposed to be in a meeting with the new client. Super important. They needed it. What the fuck was going on?

She was not tied up. She closed her eyes and it felt like she could move, but she couldn't. Her heart began to pound and that accelerated her brain. Old barn. Can't move. The meeting. Who cares about the fucking meeting?! She needed to be outside. She needed strength and movement.

She tried to hold her thoughts still, and she saw flashbulb revelations that made her breath catch. Then she heard the creaking of an old, rusty hinge and it all came back. The meeting. She almost laughed. She'd missed the meeting years ago.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


He dove into the darkness, tethered by wires from his headphones. They were old and huge and looked like they should be atop a crew cut, directing airplanes. They blocked out everything. Fast drum beats drilled into his skull. Carefully, he dipped a safety pin in ink and continued the permanent doodle he was adding to his arm.

Jake had never been poor. He felt poor, but he wasn't. Poor is lack of potable water. Poor is digging through dumpsters. Rich made enough money to live. When he wasn't inside the valet booth, he was inside his headphones, and he was happy.

The other valets wore short sleeved shirts in the tropical heat. Jake wore a long sleeve shirt to hide the scribbling and notes and reminders he had spent years giving himself. The scars and the tattoos wouldn't fly at work.

Being a valet was cool. Jake liked it. He had found some interesting things in cars he parked. Money. A watch. Necklaces and earrings. He took them. All the valets did. No one could ever prove anything and his manager didn't care. He knew he'd be fired eventually. The only thing he ever found and didn't take was an envelope.

It was one of those big envelopes that people call "vanilla" when talking to people who are too embarrassed to correct them. Inside, there was a .38 and a bag of white powder. Jake had thought for a second, and then he'd put everything back the way he'd found it. Heart in his throat. That night he had listened to The Velvet Underground and wondered who was waiting for their man. And he smiled when he thought how pissed they would have been if he'd taken the stuff.

The room was still dark, but Rich was stoned and the cherry on the end of his blunt was fire orange. He stared at it and waved it lightly, writing his name like he had done with a thousand sparklers. In his former life.

On the cusp of sleep (and between songs), Jake heard a pounding on his apartment door. He'd been waiting for it. He smiled and didn't move. They could break the door in. He thumbed his phone and put on an old GBH album. He turned up the volume.

When the cops splintered into his apartment, knocking the door to pieces, Jake was still in his room, lost in the music. The first cop he saw was holding a flashlight and his gun. Jake laughed. The cop was yelling, but he couldn't hear a word he said. He tried to picture the other cops in the living room, the blood on the walls. The cop with the flashlight was joined by two more officers. Jake smiled at their purple faces.

He couldn't hear what they were saying, but he knew. In a flash, he grabbed the phone and pointed it through the murky light and lingering pot smoke. The first bullet took half his face. The rest were for good measure, he supposed. He closed his eyes and listened to the music and waited to die. It did not take long.