Friday, April 24, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

Fear

The dream is always the same. There is noise and blood, and the air is thick with it. The blood is in your eyes, your mouth. You taste iron, and you feel it run down your throat and, in tracks, down your face. You try to call for help, but your voice is lost in the gurgle of blood and spit and panic. Your heart races, that feeling you get when you know you’ve really hurt yourself, but you need to act quickly. Stay calm. Stay focused. Spit the blood out fast enough, and you might be able to get a few words out. Clear your throat. Spit and yell. There is no one there to hear you. The dream makes no sense, but there is no wonder in your mind. The meaning of the dream sits on the fence of your subconscious: a fat, alley cat smiling. It knows something you don’t. The cat knows everything, but you never will. You will continue to be a conveyance for blood and terror. Until your eyes open.

They probably will.

 

Medication

The ones you want aren’t the ones you need. That’s the first paradox. The second is that they want you to keep your mind straight, unless they’re the ones bending it. There’s a pill to make you happy, but it comes with a price. There’s a pill that makes your hair grow, but it might make you blink twice. There are pills and powders and potions, there always were and there always will be. There’s all kinds of nooks and cranny’s in the world of pharmacology.

Advil is medicine, just like Cocaine. Benadryl and Dramamine? They’re one and the same. The most deadly? That’s Tylenol, you can buy it at school. There are lots of sly lessons for you to learn, fool.

Everything’s medicine. Every show, shot and smile. The world is wide-open, you can see it in style. The side effects vary and may be intense. You may just start stuttering and lose all your sense. You may end up naked and covered in puke. Or you could end up a tenured professor at Duke.

If it’s crack, bribe the cops, if it’s pills bribe a doctor. She’s heard it before, trust, none of it shocks her. And her prescription pad’s magic, it will fix all your pain. Ask all your junkie friends, and they’ll tell you the same.

 

Childhood

The table is so high and, sitting underneath, you can watch the knees walk by and they won’t even know you’re in there. A dozen brownies stuffed down the front of your shirt. Aunt Irene can’t try to kiss you on the mouth. Grandpa can’t try to convince you to recite the poems he made you memorize.

The air smells like homemade peach pie, and the wind is shifting just right that it rustles the cornstalks and whips conversations through the fields like precocious ghosts.

You just stay under that table, boy. You really should. Trust me. It doesn’t get better. It gets harder and more complicated and you end up going places where everyone ignores the kid slipping under the tablecloth with a plate full of cookies. You’re going to wish you could go under there with him, but you can’t because people are suspicious. And jail’s not fun.

22 comments:

  1. The Futility of Resistance:

    There was no resistance: I pushed my hand inside his head and just pulled. It was as easy as that. One soul, barely used, without a trace of guile. It would be a little beige in flavour, but it would be as nutritious as the next. An ifrit took what she could, men, women, even small children. I'd stooped as low as taking an animal's soul once or twice. Rats, feral cats, and rabid bats were much the same. Some had a little more je ne sais quoi to them than others, but they all tasted of cinnamon and steel. Men, on the other hand, had little to distinguish them. They were white bread without a filling, a pauper's sandwich, a stopgap between roadside banquets or a service station supper.

    But this man was barely a mouthful. I'd pushed back his hair - greasy and over-combed, hiding an expanse of self-tanned skin - and was surprised to find myself clutching at air. He was well-to-do, wearing the right suit, but sadly lacking almost everything. It was a shock, to be honest. He was in authority, so I'd been expecting more. He'd been the first to disappoint me for a while, the last in a long series I'd taken from the same place, the building a grand one in Washington. A monument of money and power.

    Who would have thought it?

    Although, perhaps this one did have an aftertaste of cinnamon. But very little steel. I was quite sure of that.

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    1. This is cool. Good start for a story. Pulls you in.

      'white bread without the filling' is an awesome description here. it's so run-of-the-mill boring!!!

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    2. I love e rhythm and poetry. Bats and cats and strong structure oh my! ;)

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  2. This story didn't want to end. I'm sure there's more to the tale.

    Part I

    Supposedly an orange tabby named Reese lived in the small, weather-worn Victorian at the top of the hill, but Jessamine had been there twice and had yet to see a whisker of him. The first time, she checked the food, water, and litter box, refilling and cleaning as required. The food dish had been empty, so she thought for sure, if she stayed a few moments, a feline might materialize from a hidey-hole of his choosing. No dice. The second visit, what she’d laid out had not been consumed, and she feared he might have died, somewhere in the clutter. Mary and Walter Anderson were not the tidiest of housekeepers. The producers of “Hoarders” might have surveyed the premises and proclaimed it too challenging an undertaking. To hunt for Reese, or what might have become of him, Jessamine had to weave her way between and among piles of magazines and newspapers, half-filled bags of polyester clothing, presumably being readied for donation to Goodwill, and mismatched furniture positioned in odd groupings like it might have been at a rummage sale on someone’s front lawn.

    After a fruitless search, during which she banged her shins several times and nearly tripped over a frayed, dusty rag rug, she’d gone back to the hospital to check with the aid at the desk. Yes, the woman told her, the Andersons did indeed have a cat that had been very much alive before the pair had been brought to the emergency room, although Mary had reported through the nurse on duty that Reese was a shy boy. “You might have to wait him out,” the aid said. “I don’t think the Andersons will be going home anytime soon, and none of their family we could reach live close enough to tend to the house. Maybe give it a day or two and try again.”

    So Jessamine did just that. She had plenty on her plate to keep her occupied, since she’d been furloughed from her job with the county clerk’s office. She purchased groceries and deposited them, in sorted bags, on various neighbors’ front porches. She baked dozens of batches of cookies and, after masking up and donning gloves, brought them to the fire department and the police headquarters and the ambulance squad.

    If she had to live through a pandemic, she was determined to be as useful as possible. After all, there were only so many online Zumba classes she could take, only so much television and so many books that could penetrate her muzzy thoughts. The walls of the small apartment she rented were squeezing closer and closer, the little news she’d watched harder to bear.

    She thought of her grandmother, who’d raised Jessamine on her own, who’d given so much to their community.

    “It doesn’t always have to be grand,” she’d said to Jessamine, shortly before she died. “But do something, dear.”

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    1. Part 2

      Jessamine was doing something. It felt good to shop for her neighbors, to bring treats to first responders, but her work with the hospital was the most fulfilling job she’d ever had. So far, she’d tended to sixteen dogs, twenty-five cats, and an African Gray parrot who knew the words to “Go Tell Aunt Rosie.” All of them left on their own while their “parents” were in the hospital.

      But Reese was the first to actively avoid her.

      The third time was more encouraging. Reese still hadn’t made an appearance, but some food was missing from the bowl, a soggy piece of kitty kibble floated atop the water dish, and the litter box needed scooping. She exhaled her relief at the apparent signs of life.

      The next day, during Jessamine’s morning rounds, the aid called to tell her that both Mary and Walter Anderson had passed, within minutes of each other. While Jessamine stood on the front porch of a neighbor, where she’d just left a dozen eggs, three boxes of pasta, several refilled prescriptions, and five tins of sardines, and still holding her phone, a wave of romantic tragedy washed over her. That if they had to be called to heaven, at least they would go together.

      Then she thought of her grandmother. Then she thought of Reese.

      “Jessie. Jessie, honey, you still there?”

      Jessamine mumbled blank words.

      “Honey, the family won’t be here for a while. Can you keep looking in on the cat?”

      She snapped to the present. “Of course. Sure. Of course I will.”

      But how to tell a cat that his parents are gone when you’ve yet to meet in person? Unfortunately this wasn’t the first time Jessamine had received such news. She searched her memory for what she’d done then. Before a friend, relative, or the shelter people could come for the animal. Often she lavished them with affection, extra scritches and belly rubs and treats. But now she had nothing. Her gaze strayed to the paper bag on the porch chair to her right. Surely they wouldn’t miss one can of sardines until tomorrow.

      She left a note inside the bag that she’d bring them more tomorrow, and trundled up the hill to the Victorian.

      He was waiting at the door. A divine and elegant orange tabby, eyes the color of green olives, mewling softly as if he already knew. That his family was gone. That the bag contained sardines. And that Jessamine would become his new forever friend.

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    2. Ah, I love this. I'm a sucker for animal stories and I love this a lot. The narrator is so likeable, you just warm to her straight away. The elusive cat is the mystery. Then the backdrop of what we're all going through. Love it. I'd love to see this turn into something longer.

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    3. Agreed. You pull such well fleshed out pieces - this one should stick around I think. I agree with all V's points and I think the writing is super strong.

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  3. Love for the MaderRap! "Medication" hit me hardest (as it often does). Every bit of it spot on. And this sentence from "Childhood": "It gets harder and more complicated and you end up going places where everyone ignores the kid slipping under the tablecloth with a plate full of cookies." Damn, you got rhythm magic.

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    1. That's one scary dream. I can taste the iron. It's weird how it tastes like that. I put my teeth through my skin below my mouth as a kid and I remember that feeling - it's like you're drowning in your mouth. Bloody weird!

      It is bizarre how you can get a pill for everything: to get high, to get low, to get out of pain. The great escape.

      My favourite is the boy under the table. Boy, does it get more complicated! Stay there. It's great to be invisible.

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  4. Here's something silly that I wrote on Friday:

    Cat bum

    My cat’s bum is alive today,
    It keeps on doing poops.
    He’s the oochy coochy poopy machine
    And your winnings come in scoops.

    Chance your luck on the fluffy tail,
    Pull it down and watch him go.
    He’s the oochy coochy poopy machine,
    Making gifts for friend or foe.

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  6. Green grasses

    I wander freely
    Seeking life’s waking hours

    In a small grain
    A multi-faceted stone

    Orange curve of beak
    Green poke of grass

    An evergreen stretching
    Dew drippling

    Endless stem spirals
    Spiky branch waving

    Breezy bluebells nodding
    Wet clod of earth

    Sense of rain
    A spill of sun

    All in time
    With no discord

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  7. Sleep’s lure

    In sleep’s lure
    I dream in colour

    Weaving corridors
    Of light

    Where shadows pour
    Cast in a roar

    Doors to nowhere
    Houses without eyes

    Voices on the breeze
    Amid spectre trees

    A diamond everglade
    A closing room

    I strike my place
    Lay down my face

    Make a pillow
    For night’s walk

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    Replies
    1. Hot damn! This one is rad. Reminds me of Coleridge.

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    2. Wow that’s a big compliment indeed. Thanks :)

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  8. Sisyphus had got into a routine. He felt like he could do this in his sleep.

    “Pick up the brick, make with the trowel, add a dab of cement and then place. It has a natural rhythm to it. Like a train on its track.”

    The big labourer beside him yawned. He’d been mixing up cement for him for hours. Before that he’d been stacking bricks. And before that… Sisyphus couldn’t remember there being much of a before before that. He supposed it must have had something to do with building walls. But at least they were eating well; his friend seemed to bring an inexhaustible supply of sandwiches every day. Just the thing you needed to fuel tired muscles after a long shift on the site.

    Building the wall, building the wall, building the…

    The labourer paused, clutching his side. He usually needed to ease off each day about this time. It usually meant that lunch was coming soon. Sisyphus was hungry and more than a little tired.

    “Hey, bud,” he said, taking advantage of the break, as brief as it was. “How about we stop, take a quick bite, maybe drink a swift flagon or two? We can chat for a few minutes; exchange details, share a couple of stories. Just to be sociable, don’t you think?

    His companion nodded, offering up yet another cloth-wrapped blood-stained package. “I’m sorry,” he said. “But it’s liver again. And yes, that’d be cool. And by the way, my name’s Tityus.”

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    Replies
    1. Man! This is so cool! I want to read more - awesome idea.

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