Thursday, May 5, 2016

The sand was warm between her toes and on her knees in the moonlight, as the looked up at him, her hands pulling at the small of his back. The roar of the ocean resonated with the blood rushing through her ears, cheeks, heart.

Grinning, she licked her lips and smiled; they both chuckled and he wrapped his hands in her lavender hair. "Come here," he said.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


The house is clean and organized for pictures.

Today and this weekend, the front and back yards will be cleaned for visitors, as will the inside of the house and the inside-outside of all windows.

It is raining today, a slow steady rain that started just before 7am. I put the Danger! Glass! Sign on the garbage before 7am. I called and talked to a woman from the garbage company and she assured me that it would all be removed today.

Everyone is asleep, so I am writing.

I am pleased but nervous about the state of the house. I think painting the trim and the window sills will do the house a world of good, as will putting down the molding. I'm not sure what we need to do now, so I will pray and listen, and listen and pray.

I turned the heat on again yesterday, that seems important to mention.

I took two days off work to get the house to the state it is currently in. This weekend, we are taking MANY boxes over to our friends' house, and bless them for holding our things while we find a new place to live.

This weekend, my plan, in addition to the painting, is to start in the basement and work my way up, cleaning and organizing as I go. There will be fast and slow spots, as with any activity, and I am looking forward to a deep clean, like that. My son will help! He loves to help, asks all the time how and if he can help and I will always find a way to let him help, because that is the best thing in the world, I think.

Grocery shopping this weekend, too. Lots to do. The deep clean may start today, and we'll call for another big trash load pick up the following week, too.

My son is awake!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Gaan Tender, Take two.

At twenty-eight years old, he started grinding his teeth. If asked, he would shrug, and smile and say thank goodness for socialized dental care.

At twenty-eight years old, he started waking, sweating, to the pounding on the floor of his apartment. His neighbors shouting angrily, or with concern, in a language he did not speak well, and certainly not in the deep hours of the night. The language of the country he was living in. Not the country his family was living in.

If he, Gaan Tender, did not get up when he woke up, he felt tired the entire day. This had always been the case with him. He learned to adjust his schedule accordingly.

Gaan Paul Tender. His mother a gardener, his father drunk, but decidedly the one to give him his first name. Spindly, tall, black, scarred, missing two fingers. Working third shift and driving a stick shift pick up truck. Smile like a January sun burst in Detroit, which is where he lived, with a roommate, in poured cement apartment, a few blocks from Wayne State University, which he had not attended.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Gaan Tender -- character sketches

1. Fixing his elven ears.
Laying on a thick table, ankles cuffed, shirtless, Gaan bit down on the chunk of wood in his mouth and forced his eyes open against the pain. The surgeon's knife cut deeply into his ear, and Gaan clenched the leather sheet under him; blood spurted and ran down his ears, pooled on his shoulders.

The surgeon said, "Bite the wood, grind it in your teeth. Grind the wood between your teeth, the Bettlebarb tree is a pain killer. I'm almost through the thick part."

Gaan nodded and sawed his teeth across the wood. The action distracted him, and the sweet mulch gumming up his mouth started to tingle on his teeth. The doctor said something, and the room started to swim. Gaan felt warm. Gaan closed his eyes, and slept.

He woke surrounded by embers and ash and the burned down support remains of the doctor's forest hut. He could not move. Gaan wet himself and passed out.

In Gaan's dream he was floating around inside an infinite smoke coil. He still could not move, but it bothered him less. He was not scared. He heard a voice. The voice told him secrets he didn't remember on waking. The voice explained it willl give Gaan what he wants, but that he, Gaan, will have to help it, the voice, in exchange. Gaan nodded and woke.

He was still in the burned out remains of the surgeon's forest hut. A small girl stared at him, hard eyes and a set mouth. Gaan looked at her, stood up and searched around in the wreckage where he remembered a desk to have been. He found what he was looking for, pocketed it and turned. He mimed tossing two gold coins at the little girl, who startled. Gaan smiled. "I was a half orc with very green skin who limped off, north, understand?" He threw her a gold coin and waited. He played with the other gold coin, running it along his knuckles while he did. "Of course you're a gimp half-orc, you gimp half orc," said tiny girl. Gaan tossed her the other gold coin and smiled at the girl, who smiled back at him. "Good girl," he said, and set off east, into the forest.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Confessional (apologies)

Ever since I learned about mental capacity, and the fact that it is a thing, and that the nature of this thing is that you can only hold so many active thoughts and ideas and whatever elses in your brain at one time, being a nerd, I always look at myself in the context of whether or not my brain is full, and how close to full it is getting.

I cannot think very well at the moment. I am full. My family and I live in a house, a very nice house that we share with another family. My wife and I have two children and the other couple also have to children.

In a few weeks, their oldest child will be having major brain surgery.

They have agreed to get a divorce.

The house is in my name and the name of the other husband.

For his birthday, his dad rented him a car and he drove to Oklahoma to visit his online girlfriend, who is equidistant to him and his children in age. He canceled plans with his wife and left on a Saturday. He told his wife he would be home Wednesday. He told me he'd be home Thursday and he arrived home Friday.

Frantic, on Wednesday evening, his wife texted this girl, asking if he had left yet, because he wasn't returning phone calls or text messages. "No" was the response she got.

This man, yesterday, sent his children, two sons, to bed at just before 8pm. At 8:30p.m., since they were being loud (they share a room) he went upstairs and dragged the oldest, the one about to have brain surgery into the basement, where he turned off most of the lights and stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. His son, a delicate but amazing six year old, started loosing his mind: screaming, yelling, obviously hyperventilating himself.

I went down into the basement and calmed him.

This boy, his brain surgery is because there's a faulty tube, an "encavemet"  or some such --I don't remember the name. It isn't cancer but it is something that, when he is extremely worked up will bleed, brain into his skull, pressuring his brain.

This boy, who when he is extremely worked up, his brain can leak blood and he might die, was left alone in the dark while his dad could smoke a cigarette and play with his phone.

The part that makes my chest tight is that he, this soon to be ex-husband, is doing his best. He is playing the cards he has been dealt as well as he possibly can. He is extremely personable and friendly and very charming. He can hold down a job even though he doesn't like it -- as far as I can tell. He pays his bills. He tries to do his chores. He starts house projects.

He stays in the basement and chats with his Oklahoma girlfriend until all hours. He works out every night. He usually does specific things that are asked of him.

He's trying. He wants what's best for everyone, in his own way.

We're all trying. We all want what's best for everyone.

I don't know what that looks like.

I turn thirty-five in three days.

Two weeks after that, my daughter turns two.

I am going to look up a gluten free, vegan cake.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Connor Smith Killed a Boy

The next time we saw the teenager, things went far, far worse for us.

We were in the forest again, but south of our apartment complex. First, we agreed we had never really explored down south much, and definitely not with our push-jump technique. Second, well. We didn't talk about that, at all. We smiled and laughed a lot, and I was the only one who ended up with soaked feet.

IT was a cold, late August morning when he found us. We were wearing neon wind breakers, so I couldn't have been hard.

Hold on.

I'm trying to capture  a feeling and it isn't here.

Moving backward, now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Those things everyone has

When you're dying, as your life flashes before your eyes, it is a weird sensation to realize that you were, for the most part, a gigantic asshole who got away with a lot because of your innocent child good looks.

I am dying. This is a flashback story and with any luck I'll finish it, but I can't actually guarantee that. I'm falling, literally, and so I'll start with something relevant and then skip around a bit. I'm embarrassed by my actions, so I'm going to change my name and my face and hello, maybe even my gender. To protect myself and my loved ones from retribution by other families. We'll see.

My friend Connor Smith was an Irish red headed little girl. Our fathers worked in the same factory in, 1986. We were seven years old and, to spoil what may have been some sort of dramatic tension, we are still friends today, even if we haven't talked in years. I could still call her up, we'd still help each other bury a body.

Here's why.

It was late June and we were playing in the woods between the freeway and our apartment complex. We'd take turns pushing each other over the winding creek with a thick stick. It had started as an accident, I think. I was jumping over a thin part and Connor jabbed me in the back with the tree stump; startling. Shocked, I flubbed my landing and skidded into some vines. Angry I stood up and shouted at her, "What was that?"

"I didn't think you'd make it," she said.

I looked at her and then the creek. I was a ways further than I could usually jump. "Woa," I said."Do that again!"

"What? You were just crying!" She shouted at me.

"Yeah, but look how far I jumped! I'm like Captain Power!" I whooped. I ran down to the thin part of the creek and jumped across.

We kept going further and further up the river, taking turns shoving each other, then pulling one another across. Each shove increased our boisterousness and laughter and we decided to play willfully ignorant of how far away from our homes we'd gotten. We just laughed and jumped and shoved and laughed louder and

"You runts. what're you doing here? This is my river." The teenager stood and loomed over Connor. I was tall for my age, but definitely skinnier than this teenager. He had hair to match Connor's, and acne to match his hair. His jean jacket was covered in patches with unreadable band names and satanic symbols.

I said, "Woa," and reached out to touch one of them --it was the cover of an album that Connor's dad listened to, and would sometimes, on Saturday nights when Mrs. Smith was working, let us listen to. "Rad," I said.

He shoved me and I flew back, landed with a sharp thud against a tree, sprawled. Connor took off running into the woods, me and the teenager watched her go. I said, "Ow," and my eyes watered. The light from the sun was bright green and there were cicadas and crickets all around us, and the rush of the stream, somewhere that may as well have been the moon.

"Pussy," the teenager said, and came and towered over me. "What? You gonna cry? Your girlfriend left you." He spat, next to me. "I could kill you and no one could prove a thing. You gonna beg?" He leered over me.

Tears streamed, but I set my jaw and, staring at the ground shook my head no. He slapped me, hard across my face. "Come on!" He yelled, "Beg!"

Thunder boomed, dirt flew, the teenager went cross eyed and collapsed. Connor was stood there, our stump slung across her shoulders.

"You runt!" The teenager roared and lunged at her, grabbed her waist and they tumbled; Connor's head smashed through saplings that whipped back and caught them both. "You RUNT," the teenager screamed and raised his fist.

I smashed it with our stump, which broke. The momentum spun the teenager toward me and I smashed what was left of the stump into his face. He started screaming about his eyes and his nose, but Connor and I were already sprinting back down the river, urging and egging each other on, bruises and welts forming as we fled.

The teenager's screams followed us all the way back to familiar forest, the desiccated, fallen tree fort. The toppled, ancient poplar. We knew the river would lead us home and it did.

We burst from the trees and into the parking lot and skidded, almost wiped out across asphalt, caught ourselves and bolted into the playground, plonked in the middle of the three buildings. We dashed up slides and duck dove, knees stinging from the impact, behind the bright red, plastic walls.

We peaked over.

We were alone.

Our hearts slowed, quieted. Somewhere a lifeguard's whistle blew and the disappointed sounds of children climbing out for adult's only swim wafted over us. "Let's go to your place," Connor suggested, "Your mom'll be home."