Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Just Grow, Not Up

This gig of growing up, such a harsh and beautiful transition. Going from showing friends around to all your favorite dive bars to get sloppy drunk, to showing them all your favorite eateries and coffee shops to get sloppy caffeinated and bloated. Travel becomes more of who you are with, than where you are going. Getting wasted on the weekend turns into having copious amounts of wine during the week. Remembering the days where work didn't seem so important; nice to have money but not a necessity. Now living to work instead of working to live; maybe it's a bit of both. All of these strings to seemingly come to a point towards the end where they're all tied together in retirement. This grand idea of finally being able to go places and do things that you've wanted to do your whole youthful life, but have felt the reason to wait till the ending. I could say that money, work, kids, life, opportunity is the cause of all this but I feel like that would be a lie. Money may have a restraint on how far you go, but not necessarily on going. Take your kids with you, work and life will be there when you get back. Opportunity is what you make, not what comes along. There is obviously a physical side to age, but I know to leave well enough alone sometimes.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Strike Dam

After our last night at Kaylene's house, morning has come and we're headed to Boise. Nothing better to do, so we go along for ride while Kaylene does the testing for her GED. The test can take anywhere from one to three hours and she's not giving up the keys, so it's all footwork to go exploring. Marty, Brian and I are sitting in the grass outside the education building and they begin to give me the rough story of the Four Horsemen after I notice a tattoo of The Punisher on Brian's arm. At this point in my life, I am un-churched and have no basis for comparison; it felt like listening to a fairy tale.  An elaborate story unfolds of these hooded beings atop horses that will bring about the end of the earth; each Horseman representing an undeniable future for the eternal lives of the saved and the damned. 

We venture a few blocks away and come upon a tattoo and piercing shop; time to get inked. Marty and Brian have two tattoos drawn up, both with the Roman numeral IV. Marty's will have Pestilence included under his; the bringer of plagues and famine. "... behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer" Revelation Chapter 6 Verse 2. Pestilence regards God's creatures as disease and the epitome of unclean imperfection. He will further that truth by their fall under his hand; rapid spread of plagues and diseases will be the demise of God's "perfect" creations. Brian will have Death. "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him" Revelation Chapter 6 Verse 8. A Horseman that requires no explanation in my opinion, but for the sake of the story….Death is an ending, by any means necessary. The transporter of souls taken by War, Pestilence and Famine; the last vision of the lost before Hades. 

To help pull you back from the deep thought of your afterlife, a natural follow up to these tattoos is Brian's decision to get his left nipple pierced. I watched the whole thing, regrettably. A strong stomach for most thing I have, but a giant needle going through a man's nipple was a bit much. However, this little adventure helped take up our remaining waiting time and Kaylene was finished. We all piled back in the car and headed back to Mountain Home. 

Now to figure out where to stay. Kaylene's had been used so I tried my luck with my house. It's worth mentioning that Kaylene's dad was one to let his daughter have anyone stay the night and drink to their delight, while mine was the polar opposite. No dicks allowed overnight, regardless of my pleading and attempt at reasoning. The answer I received was, "They can tent in the backyard, but they are not sleeping in your room". Fuck dad, thanks. At that time, I'm positive there were no words to describe my humility and embarrassment. I was desperate to help my friends, and was in a position where I couldn't at that moment. I reluctantly told them my father's response and cringed with the each word. In a second of panic, the word "tent" blew up. It was summer after all, and Strike Dam was not very far and free to camp. 

We loaded up the red Nissan and the three of us headed to Strike, without Kaylene; not exactly the camping type. With a 30-pack of cheap beer on hand and a couple tents, we were set. Night had settled and a fire was glowing. The campground was flat with tall oak and walnut trees sporadically placed. The back of the dam was about 500 yards away with the Snake River pushing against the front. Beautiful darkness and nature, only the sounds of rushing water and locusts. We had managed to get through about half of the beer around midnight and Brian began to break the silence. A single black locust had jumped onto my shoulder and he took it as a sign. 

"They never come near people, there must be something about you", Brian stated, pointing to a locust that had landed on my arm. I give a side-long glance at Marty who only returns a buzzed smirk. Brian's eyes go wide and dart around as if searching for something hidden. Paranoia has begun to get a grip. He begins to move around the campsite muttering to himself and hiding from tree to tree and looking towards the dam. "Brian, what the hell is wrong?" I ask. "They're here, do you see them?"

"See who? Where?"
"Them, the demons, they're on the road above the dam, they're getting closer."

Whether or not there were actually demons present, didn't really matter. Brian was convinced they were there and was genuinely fearful for his soul. I had looked up at the dam, trying to see what he was seeing, but this task was tricky. It was dark and the only light source was the moon and our dwindling fire. Darkness can, and will, play games with your mind; see things that aren't there, and hear things that have no voice. As I stared, I started to see what looked like two figures standing on the dam wall, then three, then four. It appeared as if they were multiplying from each other. All of a sudden, two lights pierced through the darkness. 

"It's people, Brian. They just started their car. Look, there's nothing out there but them."

While this took a little of the edge off, Brian never seemed fully convinced. He reluctantly came back to the picnic table Marty and I were sitting at while his eyes still darted back and forth. We finish off the pack smokes and feed Brian a few more beers, attempting to talk about anything that won't feed into his delusion. After another hour, seemingly satisfied that he won't be reaped in his sleep, Brian succumbs to sleep and Mary and I follow suite. 

The sun hits the tent in the morning, heating the inside like a popcorn bag in a microwave. Even if you wanted to keep sleeping, the prospect of being baked alive made you get up. We have no coffee, so wake-up-beer it is. The grounds have public restrooms available, but no showers. Idaho's river water was good enough for anyone clean off in if you weren't opposed to temporary hypothermia; or if you had fresh ink. Marty and Brian couldn't get the newly dawned tattoos soaked in river water, but couldn't leave them uncleansed either. 

A logical idea looking back at this, would have been to wash each other's backs. Maybe it was a hung-over idea, maybe it was the best we could come up with; either way, I was the one that ended up in the men's restroom that morning. Marty remaining modest kept his cargo shorts on and we began to warm up the faucet water. Public restroom soap in hand, I begin to wash Marty's tattoo and back while Brian is in one of the stalls. As I'm rinsing off the soap, Brian steps out. 

Pale white skin, riddled with freckles greets you. Brian has on no shoes, no shorts, no underwear and no shirt. He does however, have on toilet paper and grin as wide as the Mississippi. He has wrapped his manhood up in a makeshift toilet paper gift and is ready to be cleaned. 

"Oh my god Brian, what the fuck are you doing?" I exclaim. 
"I can't just wash my back, I need to wash my whole body," he replies matter of fact. 
"I will wash your back, but you're doing the rest."

I begin to wash Brian's back and tattoo and he begins to wash his chest. Water is inevitably dripping down his front and begins to melt the toilet paper. Marty begins to giggle and when I notice why, I yell at Brian to go reapply the tissue. He comes back out and I finish cleaning off his back. All of us are laughing and poking fun, but it's a beautiful moment. While unconventional, it was glimpse of time that was pure joy. No worries, no demons, no responsibility; just unadulterated happiness at its finest. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Story Cubes - 1

  Travis looked out through the windshield of his two-door 63’ Chevy Corvette, contemplating how to handle the man and his gun. The engine revved and then coughed a pitiful sputter as he pressed his foot lightly to the petal. Travis hoped that the quietly obvious gesture would signal to his friend that he too was not afraid to fire his weapon. Jacob probably knew the gas tank was on E, it was his car and he had driven them into the alley to begin with. Both men knew that it wouldn’t take much juice to drive 5 feet forward and into the brick wall.
  A friendship rooted in magic mushrooms is often based on a series of hallucinations, confounding as they’re compounding. Travis’ job was the easiest and least risky of the two; growing fungus in his basement and always on the search for more potent strains. When they first met, Jacob had been the middle man for various drugs, street peddling his way to a mountain of riches that most high school dropouts only dream of. Adding mushrooms to his supply list wasn’t a yes or no question as much as it was a dollar and cent equation.
  Two shots erupted. Echoes vibrated the brick walls, back and forth, from the dead end of the alleyway and releasing out the open side. Spiderweb strings stretched out and away from the tiny bullet holes, each piercing the driver’s side windshield with the kind of accuracy that is all but guaranteed with such short range combat.
  Once bright lights of the outside world began to dim as Travis clutched his chest in agony. Through the shattered window, Travis could still see the outline of a gun pointing man he had once called friend. Before the darkness could completely close in, shadows sprinted out of the corners of his eyes and onto his betrayer. Velociraptors hadn’t been seen on Earth since the Cretaceous period, but to say that Travis was excited to see them would have been an understatement. An exhale of joy slipped out of blood stained lips as the black curtain of death slammed down.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ancestral Gates

Waking dreams and dreaming shakes, I slept a vision of blue white gates. To travel far away from here, leave the pain for a world that’s clear.
               A water-like explosion erupts from the center of an old circle. The ancient object wears white scratches all across its older than old gray surface. Not brick, nor rock; not metal, nor alloy. This gate is strong enough to open a portal to the other side of imagination, reality be damned. To escape the feeling that this is all we have and it’s only getting worse. Pretend for an hour that life’s not sour with breathing as a curse.
               The room is empty, save some metal stairs, to lead us through the hole. Safety protocols suggest a probe be sent ahead of our departure, to make safe the interstellar ride. With no probes existing, it will be fate that we’re twisting, as a first foot plunges inside.
               If the stories do ask, the purpose and task, for risking a possible doom. For me, I would just tell them, a fake truth to dispel them, our real reasons are our hell. It’s not a seek for adventure, but an escape from indenture, that walks me through the well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Home Without a House

It’s been roughly a week since the meeting of Marty and Brian. There’s been a handful of acquaintance conversations and coffee overnighters at The Diner. Kaylene and I are heading over to the place where they are currently residing to hang out for a bit. We walk inside and are greeted with a new face, this would be Ben. Someone I would later form the opinion of being a human penis with ADD. He’s good looking with a nice body, but deep down you know you’ll get fucked in the end, one way or another.
We don’t spend too much time at the house. There’s a tense feeling in the air. Not having known the boys very long, there’s not much that I can guess as to what the reason might be. Marty decides somewhat hastily that we need to go; nowhere in particular, just anywhere but there. We head back to Kaylene’s house for a few hours to bullshit and decide what to do for the day. As usual, a multitude of people come and go while we’re there. As the evening gets closer, we decide to have night of drinking and general hanging out.
I assume that due to a lack of attention from Kaylene, Brian has turned his radar to me. A multitude of verbal compliments and impromptu hugging ensues. I must admit there’s a charm to that red-headed boy. His smile can light you up and his extravagant stories can make you forget your worries. Unfortunately, I have already formed an unprovoked attachment to someone else. I was hooked that first night in The Diner.
Whether or not Marty was keyed into this attachment I had made was unknown. Brian however, hadn’t missed a beat. With both of us on our way to happy intoxication that night, Brian and I begin chatting as if we had been life-long friends. Unabashed with his questions, the asking begins.

“So you like my friend Mary, don’t you”, more of a statement than a question.

“Um, well, why do you ask?”

“I can tell, plus you’ve been blowing off my advances. I like you and I think you’re hot, but it’s obvious that you like him and not me. Do you want me to talk to him? Try to get the conversation going? He’s really a good guy.”

“Uh, no. I think that would just make it worse.”

“OK, well, tell me about Kaylene. Is she seeing anyone?”

Just like that he was onto the next venture. I could hear the same compliments being given and the puppy-like infatuation ensued. Kaylene was an attention whore by nature, so this new devotion from a new character was being eaten up. I’m sure that it was exploited to the fullest extent that night, him refilling her drinks and lighting her cigarettes. I sat with Marty on the floor in the living room for the remainder of the night, watching whatever happened to be on and talking about nothing and anything. Before everyone passed out, Marty and Brian head back home and I attempt to get a few hours of sleep.
I get a call late the next morning from Marty, asking me to meet him at his house. Once inside, we immediately go into the basement and Brian is grabbing a backpack and filling it with clothes. I want to ask what’s going on, but think better of it and decide to just go along with the show. We head back upstairs after they have some clothes packed; Brian and I head outside to wait.
Marty comes out of the house roughly ten minutes later and he and Brian throw their things in the back of Marty’s little red truck. I hop in Rosy and we head back to Kaylene’s. It’s still morning and everyone leftover from the party the night before is still passed out, Kaylene included. We head onto the back porch and during a smoke the story unfolds.
Ben has essentially put Marty into a decision position. His new found fuck buddy is moving in, and in order for that to happen, Brian has to leave. A dick move, any way you look at it. Brian, mind you, is visiting from Michigan for a couple of months and is staying with Marty during this time. Ben has made it clear that he’s not kicking Marty out, just that Brian has to stay somewhere else for the remainder of his visit because his new vagina doesn’t like Brian. Making the obvious choice, Marty decides that if Brian isn’t welcome there, neither is he.
So here we are. Two weeks in, and my new friends are essentially homeless. They have no family here, and no other friends to crash with. Kaylene is awake by now, and the first few nights are on her. After that, none of us are really sure where they’ll stay. All I know, is that I’m not going to abandon them. I still don’t know either of them well, they could be serial killers for all I know; but at least they’ll have a friend in their victim if that be the case.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Starchildren 2 - Excerpt 1.0 (w/Gandalf's Eagles)

“What is the point of having a dozen servants if nothing is ever done correctly!?” Ali screamed in rage. 
The man’s three story chalet stood tall amidst the tiny village of smaller one and two story buildings. His top floor balcony gave any would be lookers the best views of two worlds colliding. On the west side, the Arabian Desert consumed everything within sight; innumerable grains of sand reflected a blinding light out and every which way. From the east side, a less hostile but still intimidating body of Persian Gulf water incessantly crashed against a rocky beach.
Just then, as if out of nowhere, Gandalf's eagles appear! The large feathered friends waste no time in beginning to dive bomb any and all enemies. The day is saved!  Huzzah!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Organic Thoughts

       Writing a novel is one thing, but I still have this craving to create something that is completely organic. Let’s table the idea that creating something of your own is no longer possible and walk out on a limb of hope. Where to start? I’m not going to lie and say that writing the first novel was any form of the word easy, but it does feel like I cheated in some ways. The characters are based on people I know, I've been to the locations, and the events aren't completely out of the realm of possibility. The ability to picture things and describe them as they actually are, it cuts out the middle man of having to pretend them into existence first. That itty-bitty detail of organic creation, it can be as time consuming as editing!
       Imagination is key. A five minute conversation with me would be enough to prove that even as a 32 year old “man”, a vivid imagination I do still have. And it’s not just sexual thoughts either, though the sex stuff does eat up a good amount of my mental RAM at any given moment. Creativity is my real drug. When I go without creative thoughts, whether it’s because my attention is focused on work or other stresses, I suffer withdrawals, I become visibly upset. Others may not be able to clearly see what is bothering me, but I need it, I fucking need it.
       If ability isn't the problem, then what is? My inner-pragmatist wants to say that it comes down to effectiveness; why spend extra time doing something that can otherwise be hacked? You’re right iPrag, I wouldn't plow the fields by hand if there were horses in the barn. Not wanting to spend additional time on a task does not prove laziness, if anything, it leans to ingenuity.
       Maybe what I’m really searching for is balance. A way to mix what I know is unique with what I want to be unique. One of the most comforting parts about writing stories that include my friends and our situations is that these stories are uniquely ours. Now I’m not going to say that each of us is a beautiful little snowflake, but our experiences: how we perceive them, how we remember them, how we let or don’t let them affect us. Our experiences make us variables, and if you get enough variables into an equation, the likelihood of a unique(ish) product greatly increases!
       In a way, writing about familiar things is a creative safety blankey. Clutching tightly to things that I believe to be unique(ish), allows me to escape the fears of accidentally recreating someone else’s ideas. I don’t have to abandon writing about the things I know, but it might be time to get rid of the blankey… well… maybe not get rid of… maybe I’ll just set it next to the bed, for now, in case I can’t sleep.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Friendship is Born

It’s the night before high school graduation and I’m at home. It’s almost midnight and my best friend and I are in my kitchen staring out the window, waiting for my uncle to pull up. He had a late flight in and was due any minute. Rosy, my lovingly named red VW Bug, is parked out front. She’s the love of my life at the time, and the streetlight is showing her beauty perfectly. I look down at the sink for a few minutes and am startled at Kaylene’s outburst. “There are people walking down the middle of the street!” she exclaims.

I look up without a word and there are four figures walking slowly. Normally, not such a weird deal. However, I live on an obscure street, in a small town, in the middle of nowhere Idaho; no one ever walks down my street in the middle of the night, except for Chester Molester Steve. Kaylene is about to come out of her skin with excitement and says, “I’m going to go see what they’re doing.” Par for the course for her; always in everyone’s business and always has to be the center of it.

I don’t go outside right away. While the idea of new strangers is enticing, I’m really not that concerned with what they’re doing and where they might be going. Kaylene is waving frantically at me to come out, so I give up and mosey out. Ends up being four guys who were just walking back home after getting a drink at the gas station that happens to be less than a block from my house. Strategically, my street was the most direct route from point A to point B.

Kaylene has effectively been asking them shotgun questions no doubt for roughly ten minutes thus far, most of which I have tuned out. Not only was I more interested in body language versus actual conversation initially, but I had always learned to be habitually quiet while out with Kaylene. Even if I had something I wanted to say, finding a moment, and not having it instantly discounted because it didn’t come her mouth, was a challenge I’ve never been quick to accept.

Sometime during the conversation, there had apparently been a mention of us all going to The Diner; no special name needed because there was only one. The Diner was a weekly hangout for never-ending coffee and the occasional small meal; we were broke and young of course so French fries and coffee were not such an outlandish pairing.  They also ran 24 hours, perfect for hangovers and pointless conversations till four in the morning.


We all managed to pile into Rosy and drove to Kaylene’s to get her car. Two of the guys were dropped off and four of us remained; until Kaylene’s habitual addition of more people. Our group arrived at The Diner and all sat down at a few tables that we had pushed together. Kaylene did her normal introductions and I was still in la-la land, trying to sum up the two strangers that remained.

A point has to be made that my relationship with Kaylene was one of tolerance. I was pretty enough to be in her close group of friends, but not too pretty as to take away any spotlight. All guys we ever met, undoubtedly ended up attracted to her over me and she was not afraid to rub it in. I had yet to see a man come into contact with the two of us and reject her, so what was about to happen was one for the record books; well my journal at least.

Conversation was going on as it always had, her talking about her days and new movies she’s watched or the party she was last at. I make eye contact for a brief moment with Marty, one of newbies, and the look on his face is one I will never forget. It was a “Is this chick for fucking real?” kind of look. I was elated, someone saw what I saw. I was no longer the only one at the table who thought that Kaylene was the most egotistical, soul sucking, dick-teasing prude they had ever met in their life. Brian, the second stranger, could barely keep the drool from his chin as he listened to her every word. Can’t win them all. I got one though, and one was all I needed.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Silence At Last

It’s time again for the annual company Christmas party. It’s more like the one day of the year where all the employees have an excuse to get together, get shit-faced and bitch about their patient population. All in good fun I say. Lindsay and I get along great with everyone at the office for the most part. There are those special few that have their moments of course. One of these “special” persons is Christie; a nurse with her head shoved so far up her ass she could eat her lunch for the second time. You know the type. Everything is a catastrophe or a crisis in the making, and her solutions are infallible.

Christie and her husband Johnnie are attending the party together. Lindsay comments, “Welp, I guess Christie found a reason to wear her whore clothes again”. I laugh out loud at the abundance of truth in the statement. She has on a “little black dress” that stops a few inches past her crotch, boobs hanging out and black thigh-high hooker boots. I won’t detail the make-up, but think John Leguizamo in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Johnnie is a “former” MMA fighter who acts the part to a “T”. Arrogant, large stature, Affliction T-shirt, small dick….you know the type. Lindsay and I watch as the two get completely obliterated and like clockwork begin to argue. That’s our cue.

We head out, praising God that I parked right outside the entry doors. It’s a beautiful 18 degrees outside; frost on the car windows and the wind thankfully non-existent. I get into the driver’s side and start up the car, Lindsay gets in opposite me. I hear a third door shut. I look in the backseat and Christie is sitting behind Lindsay staring at me. “Christie, what the fuck are you doing?” I ask. “This is my car,” she replies, “get out of my car”.

Holy shit, here we go. I look at Lindsay to see if I’m the only one with a “what the hell” look on my face. She stares back, obviously nervous about what’s about to transpire. Just as I’m about to open my door, Christie starts screaming in the backseat; “GET OUT OF MY CAR! GET OUT OF MY CAR! NOW!” My heart rate jumps up, instant anxiety from the high-pitched screaming lunatic in my car. I turn again to open my door and Johnnie is standing in the way.

Christie is still screaming as he begins punching my driver’s side window. Lindsay has begun to cry and I think I’m about to implode. The scene becomes surreal and I begin to calm. Heart rate slows to a resting beat, anxiety has begun to drain out and my mind goes into overdrive. Now mind you, normally I’m the person who would just lock the doors, call the cops, and wait for them to come get these two freaks of nature. Not today though. The mix of Lindsay’s crying, Christie’s screaming and Johnnie’s belligerent punching of my window has forced me into a need of making it stop; and it has to stop now.

There’s a pause long enough in Johnnie’s hits and I shove the door open as hard I can into his gut, knocking the wind out of him and onto the ground. A couple swift kicks to the crotch ensures he’ll stay there long enough for me to get his fucking wife out of my car. I walk around to the back passenger door and swing it open. “Get out of the car Christie” I say in a calm voice, barely heard over the last couple screams. “Get out of the fucking car Christie, now.” She looks up at me with a twisted drunk smile and say, “What are you going to do if I don’t?”

I can hear moaning from Johnnie on the other side of the car. A small moment of panic that he may get up before this is over. While I definitely have adrenaline and soberness on my side for Christie, Johnnie is fucking huge and I like my face just the way it is. “Last chance to get out on you own and then I’m going to remove you from that fucking seat.” A drunken giggle and then warm spit hits my left cheek. I hear Lindsay take in a deep gasp and hold her breath, beginning to turn red as she watches. I reach in and hook my right arm under Christie’s chin and secure the hold with my left hand. Planting one foot in the gutter and one on the sidewalk, her body comes flying out with one hard pull. Still in the headlock, I slam her into the side of car and throw her on the ground. A trickle of blood begins running out of her right nostril.

Years of pent up anger and rage at her, my childhood, life, begins to pour out of me with every kick that makes contact. “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! I TOLD YOU TO GET OUT OF THE CAR YOU STUPID PIECE OF SHIT WHORE!” My ears are ringing and I can feel my head pulsing to my heartbeat. I’ve never been in a fight my entire life, not on the giving end anyways. Tears are rolling down my cheeks as the beating continues. One last kick to the stomach and Christie spews a mix of alcohol and appetizers onto the concrete. I hear my name being screamed from the car. I turn and see Lindsay with a horrified look on her face. No doubt in awe of what she just saw her best friend do to another human being, whore or not. I run to the driver’s side and get in before Johnnie makes it to his knees.

Silence, finally. All I wanted was for the screaming to stop; the crying and the sound of flesh against glass to go away. Only the sounds of the car and the wind now, making my way to Lindsay’s house to take her home. I feel terrible for her having to be there for the ordeal, but was liberated at the same time. A new calm, a better calm, than any drug or amount of therapy could ever give me. There are only a couple more blocks till Lindsay’s turn off. Red, white and blue lights begin flashing in the rear-view mirror. I didn’t think I was speeding and I just replaced the right tail-light.

I pull over and pull out my license and get my proof of insurance from the glove box while rolling down my window with my left hand. I turn to hand the officer my information and his gun is drawn. My eyes widen and I drop my license and insurance. Lindsay’s crying has started up again. “Step out the vehicle please and keep your hands where I can see them.” With my left hand up, I open the door with my right and slowly begin to step out. “You’re under arrest for the murder of Christie McMillan; you have the right to remain silent….”

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Seemingly Innocuous Questions

     Their relationship wasn't difficult to understand, but the older of the two men found himself thinking about it more often than not.  Over the years, the friendship had come to mean so much to him that he feared losing it more than any other friendship.
     "Have you ever seen the plants that cashews come from?" Jack asked.
      Seemingly innocuous questions such as these were a normal part of their daily conversations. Stan rarely knew the answers, nor how to respond.
     "Yeah, sure I have," Stan lied.  "I love cashews."
     "What do they look like?" Jack continued to press.
     Stan's eyes rolled back and to the side as he found himself caught in yet another pointless lie.  He did not want his friend to think him ignorant, though that reality seemed all but avoidable now.
     "If I remember correctly, they look a lot like peanut plants."
     "No," Jack curtly responded back to his friend. "If you had ever seen a cashew plant, you would definitely have remembered what they look like."
     Stan waited for his friend to continue, but a long minute of silence indicated that the wait would be in vain.  Several options ran through his head as he realized that Jack was starring his way, expecting a response.  He could either ask what the stupid plant looked like or continue down the ruse of excuses as to why he might not be able to remember.
     "Nothing?" Jack asked, interrupting the silence.
     "No, I guess you're right, I've never seen a cashew plant."
     "They actually grow on trees," Jack smiled wickedly. "Part of the plant is poisonous."
     Stan hung his head, defeated.  Jack, the friend that he loved so dearly, now knows how deep his ignorance truly goes.  Stan vowed, right then and there, to never eat another cashew for so long as he shall live.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


They say that because I'm white, I have a better chance,
They say that because I'm white, I have cleaner hands.

They say that only poor people go to enlist,
They say that only poor people live their life like this.

They say that they understand, for the things that I have done,
They say that they understand, as long as I am numb.

They say that I am weird, because I say what's on my mind,
They say that I am weird, and they say it like a crime.

They say that they are grateful, they say that I did well, 
They say that one day I will die, and they say I'll go to hell.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Message

The smell fills my nostrils and I know I'm here again. I will my eyes not to open, knowing that what's coming can't be stopped yet holding desperately to the notion that maybe this time I'll have the power to stop this.

My eyes open (god dammit), taking in the sights before the inevitable happens. Mom, wearing her hair in a familiar 80's perm I once loved to pick at just to watch the curl bounce back up. My brother, chubby cheeked in his high chair picking at spaghetti o's. The sunlight peering in shines light on them both while I sit at the table, no such light sharing warmth with me. "I hate this part most" I think into the nothing as I watch them shine. "One happy moment so easily destroyed".

This world is silent and slow. Movements seem to exert all my strength as I get up from the table. I take one last look at these two bits of my heart. I walk into our living room as the sunlight begins to fade. (Oh subconscious, even you don't need to be this obvious with your foreshadowing) Hiding behind a cloud or maybe just a lie?

The back door breaks open with one swift kick from an armored solider, screaming for a name that isn't here, never comes to stop this scene. My mind wants to run to my family, but instead finds me ducking into the hall closet once again. (Why do I always do this knowing it does not save me from having to see what happens next?)

Spit flies from the dark man's mouth as he screams for the name again. My brother has began to scream cry by now, my mother replying that the name is not here, please let her pick up my brother then they can talk.

The man responds by smacking my mother across the face saying what I can only assume is "shut the fuck up cunt" as I read his lips.

As the tears fall down my mother's face, he walks through the door, another pair of faceless armored men at his heels taking their posts on either side of the door frame.

The man in white. A perfectly pressed, likely expensive suit swallowing a thin man whose features are just detailed enough to make him hard to pick out of a crowd.
His hand pats the dark man's shoulder as if to say, 'well done, son, now please, leave this to me.'

The thin man stands before my mother, his lips barely move as he says what he must think is the most terrifying sentence of his life. My mother's eyes growing larger as each word leaves his lips.

"Leave him a message" is always the only part I can make out, even after all these years. The thin man tips his hat as he walks backward out our back door.

SWAT 1 and SWAT 2 move quickly from their posts, each one grabbing one of my mother's arms. Her silent screams forcing me to close my eyes, only I never can.

The dark man stands behind my wailing brother, I see my mother scream, the shining blade come from almost nowhere into the hands of the dark man. The knife falls, the crying stops, but the worst is yet to come.

My mother has fallen to her knees by now, the dark man removes the knife from my lifeless baby brother's head. He nods as SWAT 1 and SWAT 2 as if to say, "your turn".

SWAT 1 picks my mother up, holding her arms behind her as though she has any will left to fight. SWAT 2's knife is his right hand, his left pulls the permed hairs of my mother's head, forcing it back just enough to expose her neck completely. One movement and it's done. The red is running, she is falling, but their work is not yet done.

As she gasps her last few attempts at breath, they move her body to lay out perfectly straight between our kitchen table and the back counter. She now lies directly in front of what was my brother.
SWAT 2's blade gets back to work as there are far too many organs left inside. The blade guts with surgical proficiency, just out of second sight as SWAT 1 closes my mother's eyes.

The dark man has a few more tasks before he will flee with the others, their message clear. His knife makes a jack o lantern of the tender baby skull that once belonged to my brother. He removes his brain like a pile of pumpkin seeds and leaves it on the kitchen table. A centerpiece to this dark business.

The dark man seems proud of his work as he tells SWAT 1 and SWAT 2 there is one last thing to be done. "Find the girl." He tells them. "I will finish up here."

In a flash, I'm back in the hall closet raw eyed and shaking. They will find me, I know that. They always find me.

SWAT 1 walks by giving no interest to this closet at first. I can hear him navigate the hall, peering into each room. SWAT 2 lingers a moment but continues into the living room before turning his attention back to the small closet. I quietly push myself farther back hoping to be saved. 1, 2, 3, 4....maybe I'll be ok this time....5, 6. The doorknob slowly turns, the door opens. Nothing but a gun barrel greets my eyes and in a flash...it's over.

My consciousness floats, watches SWAT 2 pull my six year old self from the closet towards the kitchen to be with my family again. The scene begins to turn white, but cannot filter the red that flows from the tiny body in the highchair, the open carcass that was my start in life. I reach for them as though I have any hope of bringing them with me.

I wake in a cold sweat, still grasping for what all this means as the flash of my brother's last moments, my mother's final pleas burn my tear filled eyes.

I don't get the message.


You found me again last night
What's it been, 11 years now?
That smile still cuts like a knife
just like that one crazy summer
Less a person than a symbol that
something isn't right
That I'm missing something
or maybe that someone's missing me?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Adventure Time

     “My insides are on fire,” Ashley complained.
     “How many times did I have to tell you not to eat that before you actually listened?” Martin's voice called back at the woman from behind a row of evergreen bushes.
     The last words hadn't even left the man's lips before his female friend began chewing another piece of the small purple fruit. Hunger relentlessly ravaged the pair for what was going on the 5th day of no food, an intense feeling unlike anything Ashley had experienced before.
     “But, they look like grapes, and taste like oranges.”
     “It hasn't even been a week yet,” Martin scolded, “we have fresh water, we don't need to roll the dice on any of this planet's food yet.”
     “You don't understand, I live for food. If I had known that this adventure would take us away from food for days at a time, I never would have agreed to come, and you know that. Besides, if I don't die or shit my brains out from eating this stuff, we can fill our backpacks with them for the next planet.”
     Martin glanced down at his skinny burlap sack of a backpack. He knew that packing light would be essential for success on this trip, but the rumbles from his tummy spoke in a language that knew nothing but how to second guess his decision.
     Ashley's lips smacked as she unapologetically continued to scoop fist fulls of this unknown fruit into her mouth.
     “Could you at least try to eat with your mouth closed?” Martin asked. A few moments passed, but much to his delight, the incessant chomping did finally come to an end. “Now that wasn't so hard was it?”
     An empty air filled the spaces of where a normally quick-witted retort from Ashley would have been.