Thursday, July 19, 2012


The boy counted to one hundred and twenty-three, blew out the candle and went to sleep. He dreamed of two tall, black teenagers, a boy and a girl. The three of them were stood in the yellowed, grassy median of a highway and it was dark, but the light from zooming cars hung like long exposure photography, like melting neon tubes.

"Wow." the black girl said. "You're pretty strong to pull us here like this."

"What?" he asked.

"How did you pull us here?" The black boy spoke, and it was the same voice that he'd heard the day before, the one that stood up for him, protected him from Mark.

"You!" he said, waking himself up.

(In the dream before they dealesed the two looked quizzically at each other. The girl shrugged, the boy sighed as they faded out.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

"I don't know why I summoned you, actually. Sorry. I guess because I'm lonely and tired, but don't want to sleep yet. A friend told me about some songs, and they seemed to fit. So I tried that ritual again, and here you are, now. Sorry."

The demon's dozen eyes blinked, a body wave of closed and opened obsidian sockets. It squatted, gargoylesque, on the foot board.

"I've never seen one of you before, so close. I don't really. I don't know what. What do I do now?"

The demon blinked again. It whispered, "Make a wish."

"I want to know who scared Mark off, yesterday." He said.

"What is the payment?"

"Oh, right." With a snip he fed a lock of his hair into the candle flame.

"More." The demon uncurled a black tentacle, like a burned octopus arm, it crinkled as it moved. Another snip and another lock of hair was gone.

"Usually you . . . your kind don't come into the light."

The demon's chest opened, a gaping body smile with oily gums, no teeth, a dozen still, wormy tongues. "Others, eh?"

He nodded, gulped quietly.

The demon nodded, and vanished.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Best and Worst Birthday.

Yesterday was his fourteenth birthday and he had been so happy: His mom had taken him clothes shopping and she'd won really big at bingo the weekend before and she told him he could get what ever outfit he wanted, and, meticulously, he did.


He'd gotten the most appropriate cool kids jeans he could find, and the perfect under and over shirts, and he'd begged his mom for a new coat, for fall and winter and, "I promise it'll be warm enough! Yes! Even in January!" He'd said when she balked at the price.


His mother had smiled at him and asked if there was anywhere else he wanted to go, did he want a new watch or anything? He knew better than to ask for a new mobile phone, so shook his head no and smiled timidly.


She'd said, "Great! Then how about we splurge a bit more and go to your favorite restaurant?"


"What about the meatloaf?" He'd asked.


"We can finish that after our left overs are gone, in a day or two, hey?" Her smile was infectious.


"Really? My Favorite favorite restaurant? We're going there?"


His mom nodded, and they arrived just as a booth was clearing, and she told him, conspiratorially over their ice teas, that they should order the most expensive things on the menu, no matter what, and they did, and it was delicious, and the server remembered his name, and the cute hostess with the glasses and the hips had mussed his hair, and he laughed along with everyone when he blushed, after they sang him their happy birthday song.


But now it was sixth period but he couldn't concentrate on anything, just stared hard at the black board, knuckles white under his long sleeves. Lunch had not gone how he'd imagined it would.


He'd walked up the cool kids' table just like he'd imagined, and tried to sit down, but Mark Jones had pushed him as he sat and he'd fallen off the end of the bench, spilling his Mac'n'Cheese on his shirt, and they'd laughed and when he managed a laugh too, they'd stopped. "Why are you laughing?" Mark asked him.


"That was funny, right?" He replied, smiling and trying to wipe the cheese sauce off his new shirt.


"No."


"But you were laughing."


"No. You don't sit there. You stink just like your mom."


He'd started to protest but Mark's cold green eyes knocked the words from his tongue and they fluttered quietly to the floor with his gaze.


Class after lunch was just as bad: Mark and two of his friends were in his next two classes, and they said his name, loudly, then whispered, laughed, glared at him.


And now, the end of the day, and the long walk home. The bell rang and everyone packed their bags, the teacher shouted the homework assignment, which he dutifully wrote down. He swallowed the knot in his throat and zipped up his new coat, all the way, dug his nose down into the high collar and trudged out of the classroom.


As he approached the gate in the fence that lead through the small wood and to his subdivision, his heart raced happily for half a moment: Mark and his two friends were there, waiting on the other side of the fence --he started to wave, but stopped. One of them tapped Mark on his arm. Mark glared at him and rolled up the sleeves of his jacket, cracked his knuckles.


The sun went behind a cloud and a cool breeze pushed a dust devil of leaves around his feet. The knot in his throat came back. He slowed his walking, and stuck his hands deep in his pockets.


His voice cracked when he shouted hello at Mark and his two friends, who strutted toward him.


He stopped walking.


"You."


"Me?"


"You." Mark spat.


"Yes?" He asked, trying to sound hopeful.


"You can't be in the same class as us any more."


"I can't switch classes though. It's too late."


"You can. If you don't, for every hour we have to spend in the same room as you, we're gonna spend an hour beating you up. Make sense? Seem fair? An hour for an hour?"


"No?"


"What'd you say?" Mark roared and reared up, chest to chest with him. Mark's palms stung him, and he stumbled backward, had to skip step not to fall over.


"No." He said, again, louder this time. "It is not okay."


"It's true." A voice, watery and deep, agreed with him from behind his shoulder. "Whatever he said no to, it's a no."


Mark's eyes narrowed. "This isn't you."


"I disagree." came the voice, cold as an Alaskan waterfall. "For every minute you spend beating him up, I'm going to spend an hour beating you up." It quipped, "Make sense?" in a whinge.


"Whatever." Mark spat, it whistled past his ear and he flinched. Then Mark turned around and sulked off.


It took him a minute to come to his senses, to turn around and thank --thank whoever. When he turned around, though, there was no one there.







Thursday, July 12, 2012

This is What I Think Friendship Looks like (5/10)

"Hey, what happened to that blog series you were writing?"

"I'd forgotten about it, honestly."

"I liked that one, it was good."

"Thank-you."

The hostess walked up to us as we sat, sweating pleasantly, enjoying the condensation from the liquor snifters on our fingers and chatting about where we were from. "Your table is ready." she said.

"I've got this," she said.

I protested, but she was having none of it. We settled on my giving her cash for the drink, and her buying us dinner. I could hardly argue with free food on a nice day.

We sat and talked about comic books, and made raunchy jokes about the people who were sitting, pretending not to notice our sun burns, a few tables away.

The sun set, we had more drinks. She gave me a ride to my car and a compliment.

I said, "I'll see you soon."

"You too."

And we did.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cooking and Eating the Bacon

"Brrrr." Julian muttered as he stepped out of the freezer.

Crissy handed him his coffee sludge. She told him, "The eggs are almost finished, so I  turned the oven on."

"Cool."

"You've got a pig back there?"

"Most of one."

"Huh."

"Yup."

"Where'd you get your eggs?"

"God." Julian laughed. "I got them from God."

"Very funny."

"No, I'm serious. I know a guy named Jesus, Hey Zeus, really, but we call him God for short. He raises chickens, hens and cocks, and I did him a favor last year, helped him keep his chicken farm."

"There are no chicken farms in Detroit."

Julian smiled, "You're right: There aren't." he replied.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bacon II

"Bacon and some scrambled eggs, if you'll let me."


"That sounds amazing!"


Julian smiled. He asked, "What's your name again?"


"Crissy."


"Hi Crissy. Sorry I don't remember you --I was drunk, very drunk, last night. Can you hand me that pan, and turn those two red nobs, on the big chugging machine?"


"How much?"


"Til the lines are flat." Julian made a horizontal motion with the pan she'd handed him.


Crissy turned the two red nobs and the coffee machine slurp-bumped down from a roar to peaceful gurgles. A thick, rich, almost sludge of coffee began to ooze into the waiting cast iron pot. "You'll want to cut that with some water. I dont' know how it comes out so thick, but it does. There's spoons. . . somewhere around here."


"In the drawer maybe?"


"Maybe." Julian smiled. He lit the stove with a match and opened the fridge, rooting around for the margarine. "You find them?"


"The spoons?" Crissy drummed on the back of a chair, grinned with her teeth, asked, "You want a mug?"


"Yea, two spoons of sugar, two cup-cups of water, please." Julian found the margarine and stood up, spooned a glob into the pan --it started sizzling instantly, and he swished it around, coating the well loved bottom.


Crissy tapped him on the shoulder with a mug; they sipped their coffee sludge and smiled at each other. "You, ah, you going to make those eggs and bacon?" She asked him. "That margarine's going to burn your pan out if you don't do something with it."


Julian mumbled something agreeably and cracked five eggs into the pan. "Scramble those?" It was barely a question, and Crissy grabbed a spatula from the repurposed coffee can in answer.


"Scrambling come menced." She intoned, faux-robotically.


While Crissy scrambled the eggs, Julian set another pan on the stove and tip toed back to the walk in freezer, hiding as it did behind the kitchen area, to the left of Jenn's bathroom. 


The freezer was a lucky find Julian came upon while rooting around another block, looking for something to patch Jenn's roof with. He'd called in one of many favors from a man named Ellis (just Ellis) who had a forklift, and another favor from a ex-home builder whom Julian had eased a scorned lover for, just after the crash, and the three of them had reinforced the floor and carefully knocked out a corner wall and stuffed the freezer into Jenn's loft space. She had cooked them venison and roasted potatoes, with onion and chive soup as a reward. Miraculously, it ran just fine on the solar power converter, and so civilization crept back into the river front.


Quietly, Julian slipped into the walk in freezer, took the butcher blade from its hook just inside the door and addressed the smoked slab of pork. "Thank-you for the food, and the friendship you are about to nuture," He said quietly. He inhaled and held his breathe for a moment; on the exhale he chopped down fast and hard, took off a goodly thick chunk of meat, and caught it before it touched the ground.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Where do we go oh oh oh . . .From here?



Julian Philip Ellis awoke on his twenty-eighth birthday to the recorded cheers and glitchy bass line of his favorite dub step song. He smiled at the other side of his bed, which was empty but for some spent condom wrappers and a folded piece of legal paper.


Julian didn't have to work on his birthday, so he wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and stepped from his cozy bedroom into the cavernous living room of the loft he shared with his friend Jennifer Marie Ambuloo (Jenn, generally speaking) --an older woman he'd met online some five years ago.


The loft was rent controlled all the way back to her great-great-grandfather lawyer.


The remains of two hand made piƱatas hung from the rafters, and the wan light of a Detroit February made patches between the cones of warm antique floor lamps. Faces hidden from the light, slumped on and around the papasan couch clusters were the still passed out bodies --a mixture of his and hers friends, then all smiling, all inebriated; all good acquaintances, now.


Julian passed through the MDMA Bosche painting of a living room, smiling faintly, careful not to tread on any unclaimed candy, and came to the kitchen section of the wall southern wall. He pulled down a gallon of water and prepped the gigantic, ancient coffee machine: turning nobs and pulling brass levers and spotless steel nozzles into position. As the coffee machinery beast began gurgling, he rubbed his belly with his right hand and swiped with solid clinks the handles of a half dozen or so glass mugs onto the post-humanly long fingers of his right; he set the mugs carefully under spigots and spouts, or around   the lowered nozzles. He smiled as the black ichor started to drip into the mugs.


There came the expected, loud bump from somewhere in the beast's bowels as the thick coffee reached the end of the dispenser line and things began to slush and gurgle back onto themselves in its guts. The bump must've woken someone, as a delicate groan floated from the closest cluster of couches.


"Coffee?" Was the next sound, though Julian couldn't be certain who it came from.


He replied anyway, "Yup," and, "I'll be starting the bacon and eggs soon, so if the smell's off putting..." 


A pixie with orange hair and indian warpaint shot bolt upright. "Bacon?'


"Bacon."


"Holy shit! Bacon!" and then there she was, shredded black shirt, no pants or pigment, and wide red eyes. "Bacon? Seriously?" She was pressed against Julian's chest, her tiny, pointed, nose pressed against the underside of his chin.


"Seriously seriously." Julian smiled, wrapping her in his blanket like an patchwork Dracularian cape. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Six minutes into the demon hour (witching hour, actually, but he got the name wrong, he always did...) he turned the night light off and closed his eyes. Outside the murky flicker of the candle he could hear the  demons scuttling. These demons being proper things of darkness, with long chitinous appendages, all pointed hooves and prehensile follicles. Dead eyes and doll face masks floating through the tiny vinyl bodies,  kind words wrapped around icicles; warm smiles and distant, fleeing and accusatory eyes.

Outside the candle light, they whispered to him, fed him stories of pleasant divorces, of easy sex with twirling, younger friends of friends. It helped him get by.

The stories the demons fed him weren't all real, there were the stories of dinosaur attacks and zombies that wanted to be friends, and these eased the loneliness of being sixteen. Even the divorce stories were a strange comfort: something solid to rage against, an action that had happened. Instead of the reality: the waiting. And, besides the solidity of something that had happened it was someone interacting with him.

"I want to argue." he whispered to the demons hiding just outside the quiet candle light. "I want to get in a fight and get a black eye. I want to loose a tooth."

The demons listened. The demons waited.

"Here, look," he said, unnecessarily. The boy cut a lock of his hair and fed it slowly into the tiny flame, which licked at the hair and farted crackling and smelled like scalded flesh.

The demons smiled in the darkness.

"I want someone to show me they love me." he said. "I want to see someone loving me, and enjoy it."

The demons' smiles grew toothy, jagged.

The boy sighed. Carefully carefully he pricked the thumb of his right hand with the sharpened tooth of a silver comb; he milked his blood, watched it dribble down the callow candle four times, and onto his bed sheets. "Here, it isn't, but this is my first born child." he said. "You can have its blood too, if I ever have children."

The candle cackled.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"I don't know what to say. I've already told you what happened."

"Then say you're sorry!" She shrieked.

"But I'm not." He narrowed his eyes. "I'd do every single thing over, just like I did the first time."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Violence is meaningless without context.

The black, bald, spidery man stood up and shook his head, rubbed his right knuckles gingerly with his left finger tips. He said something in Brazilian Portuguese and spat next to the crumpled, spurting face of his opponent; he turned and walked away.