The tide pulls the seaweed around your leg, and, for a second, your heart pounds. Visions of great white sharks blossom. There is no shark in the water. The shark is in your mind. If only it was the only toothsome nightmare therein housed.
I went down to the store because I wanted to buy a reason to live - they laughed and tried to upgrade my cell phone.
My Grandmother was a nice woman, but she used the word nigger in casual conversation, so I have trouble telling people about how her hugs felt. How good her cobbler was. Homemade biscuits can make up for a lot, but there are limits. She hit the limit. Now, my memories of her are all wrapped up in Klan robes.
Ain’t it a shame.
I was born in the heart of the south. The literal site of the yearly KKK march. I wonder about the other kids born into the hospital that day that didn’t spend their whole youth trying to surround themselves with homosexuals and Mexicans. I wonder if those poor inbred fucks have ever even had a real burrito. Hell, a real conversation. Or if they’re all using their trump flags to beat young women trying to abort their rapists’ babies.
Man, the fishing was great when I was young. The food was good, and the music kicked ass. I’ll listen to bluegrass all day long, as long as I can do it in Stern Grove.
It was the hidden rivers of blood I couldn’t handle. The folks crossing the street to avoid their neighbors. The sweet old Grandmas casually telling their Grandsons that something nefarious was up by using the phrase: There’s a nigger in the woodpile someplace.
I got a lot of beef with the military, but maybe I should thank the Navy for getting my family the hell out of the parts of the country where patriotism is a sport. Give me a world of sexual revolution and burritos any day.
Open your mouth. I want to see if I can fit my whole hand in there. So, how are you? What, you having trouble talking with my hand in your mouth? Just do your best to ignore the blood-slicked saliva sliding down your throat. Do you see how fucking tan I am? That’s your money that made me that tan.
I know what you’re thinking. No one would do this for a living if it wasn’t some kind of sick fetish. Shove your fist in my mouth while we talk about your son’s youth soccer team. Here, put this vacuum tube in your mouth. That’s right. That’s the way. Good boy, good!
Roll over. Sit up. Spit. If you do a good job, we’ll give you a little gift baggie to take home. Toothbrush, floss, and mini tube. You just gotta lean your head back. Open wide. Hold on, let me see if I can get both hands in there.
Don’t even wonder about the looks I give the hygienist. They’re fatherly. FATHERLY! They are like my daughters. All blonde, all tall, all built like brick - oh, hey, spit into the sink for me. Rinse your mouth with these chemicals. Don’t mind the burn. You learn to get used to it. OPEN YOUR MOUTH!
Don’t you want your goodie bag?
So, which one of these metal instruments terrifies you the most? This one? This one is just to help spread your mouth wide, you silly goose. These are the tools I refer to. No, they aren’t for leather working, what a funny thing to say.
OPEN YOUR FUCKING MOUTH!
I’m gonna knock you out for an hour or so while this smoking hot blonde and I put our hands in your mouth together. You’re fine. FINE! You’ll get your gift bag, and you can tell your wife you don’t have any cavities.
We’ll see you again in six months.
The wind pulls the blinds back from the window - they are begging me to look. To observe and catalogue. This is how we learn, by studying our betters. This is how I will learn the routines that dictate the lives of the ones in the windows. Don’t knock on the glass - they startle easily.
They don’t know that I watch, and that brings the power. The first body is discovered on a Thursday, and I watch the ripples of fear pass through my neighbors. They start to close their blinds at night. This is evidence that it is working. They are SEEING me, even with their eyes closed, their blinds closed. They feel me, the danger that I am. They feel hunted, and they are aware for the first time what it truly means to be an animal.
The bloodletting is only cursory. The fear is the point, but it is the blood that brings the fear. They have become so secure- they feel so safe, like nothing will ever hurt them. This safety is mediocrity. They should thank me for adding flavor to their meager lives.
I watch them love and argue and hate and pass out drunk alone. I watch the things they do in secret when they are too immodest to pull the blinds. Tell me this doesn’t make me a god, I dare you.
I will continue to direct this play as long as I can. And when the final curtain falls, I will take my final bow, bleeding from the neck with a smile on my face. This is what it means to be a teacher, a prophet. A friend.
I like to think I’ve never stolen much, but I’m pretty sure I stole gum when I was a kid. Not because I was jonesing for gum - I never liked it that much. It was to see if I could do it. To see if God would smite me. To see if the cops would knock on my door some cold, lonely night. Tell my Mom I was even more of a disappointment than she had expected.
My friends stole cigarettes, but they would have bought them if they could. I smoked the stolen cigarettes. What of that? Morality and ethics are tricky concepts.
How bad should I feel for stealing gum, if I’m right about that recollection. If that is what happened. Should I feel worse than the folks that decided we needed to invade Afghanistan? I don’t think so. And I don’t care how many cute retirement paintings he does, if I’m gonna feel bad about gum, then Bush needs to do some serious reckoning with himself. I didn’t make defense contractors and politicians rich by stealing gum. I was young and dumb, not old, bitter, corrupt and calculating. Sue me.
I don’t think the world suffered for my purloined gum. I don’t think children died. No one spent twenty years in Guantanamo Bay because of my stolen gum. No one lost a leg. No one came out of that 7-11 with PTSD.
I’ve never stolen much, and I can own that gum. That’s cool. I’m just a 43 year old former gum thief doing his best to make amends. And old man retirement paintings have fuck all to do with it.
This is communion.