Sunday, November 11, 2012

(Or, put another way) 509

Tzu shifted uneasily in his sleep, under the dark, verdant canopy.

"Wake up boy, there's a pig to hunt." Whispered his grandfather's ghost, and Tzu snapped up, coffee eyes wide, looking around.

Grandfather Ghost sat down on the far side of the quiet fire, and when Tzu saw him, they stared at each other for a long while, while skinny bats and flying insects played cat and mouse.

Tzu asked, "Am I dreaming?"

"No," Replied Grandfather Ghost, "You ate some fermented fruit for dinner. There's soft vine down by the river, and some flint to fashion your spear head from."

"But I checked down there."

"Not hard enough. Be careful what you eat, the boar is no chicken, no easily swayed doe eyed creature. You're lucky, with this fruit."

"Which was it?"

Grandfather Ghost shook his head no and shrugged.

A centipede crawled over Tzu's ankle and he woke, blanket wet with morning dew, the white and orange remains of his fire browning the blanket's edges.

The sun came up red through the grey, cloudless, morning sky --it would bake it azure throughout the day, but all good things take time to cook.

Tzu picked his knife out of the fire and re-wrapped the leather strip around the handle, carefully overlapping and laying the leather flat. He smiled at the prick of blood it drew, pushed lightly into his thumb.

At the river, her skewered shimmering piranha and left them to drown on the rocks while he foraged more wood for his fire.

Most of the wood was damp, but the thinner sticks dried and caught fire, speeding the drying of the rest, and so on until he had a fire fit to sizzle the scales from his toothy breakfasts.

Tzu relieved himself in the deep hole, dug two days ago, and quickly covered his mess.

He walked, hopped, and balance gamed his way half a mile or so down stream, so as not to pollute his drinking water, and washed the work of the previous day from his skin, which sang to him, deep in his ears and lightly through his skin --the crispness sharp on the parts of him usually covered in cloth.

Around noon, thankfully, the storm clouds rolled in for the day, bringing cooling rains and a hide to hide the blinding daytime river under.

Tzu sat and splayed his legs out, splishing his toes happily in the water. He splished, and when that got tiresome he splashed and just as he was about to dive in, something red and sinuous caught his eye. Something strange and otherworldly tworled between two rocks, then was gone.

The red tworling thing shot back into site: a gigantic, bulbous head and eyes like cat's when caught staring at a storm as lightning strikes, but horizontal and infinitely deeper, even in the river. The red tworling thing had more limbs than tzu could count, and they drifted gently in the river's breeze, though the creature stayed where it was.

Tzu noticed it had not broken eye contact with him.


Back in Detroit, there’s this group of kids, people --some of them are kids. They’re experimenting with lord only knows what. Space and Time, they’d tell you.

They’d tell you a lot of things, on rainy sundays, with sparkling mimosas and medicinal marijuana. On a Foggy Friday, in Ferndale, staring at fading indie rock singers who headline for men older, with more pizzaz and energy than a lot of the teenagers faux-mosh-pitting.

Lee would look you in the eye, over the frames of her glasses, and before she opened her mouth to speak, she’s set her fingertips on your thighs, under the table. Lee would push her immaculate fingertips firmly down and she’s slowly lick her upper lip and she’d say, “I need you” and she’d pause dramatically before asking for a bottle of water, so she could sober up and drive home in time to let her dog out.

Because shit just isn’t fun to clean up, and you’ve been out since eight thirty.

It snowed, and you spun out on the way to the party these two gorgeous sisters were throwing. You spun out, hit a curb and knocked a wheel off. The tow truck driver told you you’d probably snapped an axel and you turned white. He drove you home.

When you turned nineteen, you met a man with a sad eye (and an eyepatch) who collected window frames and broken glass. He was much older than you and he smiled a lot when you talked, and more as he answered your questions with more questions.

He smiled as he answered the door to his apartment, on a fire escape. (“Don’t bother with the buzzer,” he told you, “I disconnected it. Just come up the fire escape, I’ll make sure its down for you.”) You were wearing your sexiest outfit, and he laughed despite himself and overly dramatically ushered you in.

His living room and bedroom were the same size, and his kitchen and bathroom were tiny and it was all immaculate cast-offs and riff raff.

You smoked pot and ate some peanut butter and psilocybin mushrooms and drank some whiskey with a squid (or something) on the label and he talked in such a sonorous voice that, despite the age difference, despite your friends’ warnings you went into his bedroom. And immediately out.

He politely turned on some music while you pooped out the entirety of yourself, three times, wondering as you wiped, each time, “have I done this before?” and “Wow I’m fucked up” and you chuckled, but carefully, because you didn’t want to make a mess on his threadbare welcome towels.

When you made it out, sweating, shirtless, from his bathroom you were so proud, the way you walked back to his bedroom, through the burgundy door, into the disorientation.

He spoke calming words to you and you, slow transition, made it onto your back, onto your bed, staring out a window, straight up.

Confused, you turned your head to the side, resting it assuredly against a leaky throw pillow with tiny bangles that jingled like rain.

“Oh.” You said, disconcerted. “Another window.”

Very clearly, the man with the eyepatch told you, “They’re all real. They’re all eyes.”

You smiled languidly, jostling the pillow bangles with laconic fingers. “Eyes to the soul.” you flubbed, and he laughed.

He said, “Exactly.” and handed you a glass pipe, which you toked from, heroically.

You laughed and said, “Oops.” Then, after both your giggles wore off, you asked, “What’s this?”

THe man with the eyepatch told you, “You’ll see.” And you did.

Oh and you did.

There was a shattering and a sundering and a cold breeze across your bare chest.

Friday, November 2, 2012

nanowrimo0003 (735)

The balcony.

Let's back up.

The Balcony was wrought iron, painted chartreuse (there's no other green, in New Orleans) and has a half dozen hanging baskets choked with a time lapse of snapping dragons and poppy weeds.

A steep stairway lead to the roof, which had very little by way of a guard rail, just the rickety n's.

The Roof itself held a well kept but old, New York style, water drum; and a small stage, and a green edged tiki bar in opposite corners.

So, when James frenzied and dove at Geoff, Philip knew that he'd have to heft the man up through the window in order to get him over the edge and away from the party goers.

A few things: Philip didn't know it would be James that frenzied, just that most likely it wouldn't be Geoff or the other guy, and it definitely wasn't going to be Matthew. Philip was larger than every other player by a good fifty pounds, but he hid it well in loose, well fitting clothes, a practiced half slouch, and an easy smile.

Philip knew someone was going to go nuts; to his brain, that is just how these jobs went. He wouldn't be there otherwise.

The table flipped away from everyone, toward the living room as James, spittle dripping, drove toward Geoff, who sat there, somewhat stunned.

There was a crash and a rattle when Philip tossed James through the window, upward trajectory practicedly correct.

“Wait for it,” Philip said, “There’ll be a thump in a moment.”

They listened to the party from the roof, the hum of the fridge.

Then, with blood curdling silence James popped up, bloody, a shards of glass spider webbing, embedded acros in his face. He stood, heaving, hands rictus, staring at the four men.

“Oh.” The other guy said, followed by the tinkle sound of liquid dripping on tile.

“Piss.” Matthew muttered, scooping money as he slunk away from the shattered window (and James) and toward the living room.

Right. Layout; of the apartment. It’s nice in the glitzy ramshackle sort of way only New Orleans pulls off with pride. If you come up the stairs next to the shop front (currently coffee, soon to be a post card and candy shop, then a coffee shop again --this is too far from tourist land to be an effective anything not already established or a truly amazing amalgamation.

Up the stairs, you’re in the living room right off, and it’s a big square, four rooms with a bathroom squeezed into the back middle, kitchen and living room “on the front” bedroom, and in this case an office, in the back, to your right.

It’d be easier if you saw it, promise. For now, just know that Matthew is making his way toward and exit and there is a bloody, somewhat crazy man on the balcony, breathing heavy, peppered with glass.

“What the eff man?” James shrieked, a string of spit dangled from his chin.

Philip replied, “Uh, you were about to mangle-ate our host. I’m not cool with that.”

“You almost tossed me off the balcony!”

“I was trying to, actually.” Philip was still calm, hands at his sides.

“What the hell? Aren’t you on my side?”


“Yeah, man, I figured there’d be a rube and four of us in the know; once I realized the other two were in cahoots, I figured you were another sucker!”

“Ah.” Philip said, “I see.”

The four of them were motionless for a few, quiet, seconds.

James blinked a few times. “I’m going to go. And I am never playing cards with any of you again. And you,” He snarled at Geoff, “I know where you live.” James carefully climbed down the balcony, and was gone.

“Well, that was strange.” Philip noted.

“Uh, yeah.” Geoff stared at his broken window. “Was that necessary?”
“How’s your throat?”


“Well, then.”

“You count the money, I’ll be on your couch.”

“I’m just going to go,” Said the rube.

No one responded.

* * *

(The next morning)

Beatrix woke up to her phone buzzing --Matthew wanted to get a breakfast burrito from Juan’s Flying Burrito.

(This is 2012, remember, before the apocalypse and the three hurricanes that destroyed Florida, D.C. and NYC. These places exist as stores and shop fronts and houses. This could’ve happened, for all you know.  [Don’t worry, it’s all just fiction, really.]).

Philip was sprawled happily outside The Burrito, on the curb, sunning himself, a half lit cigarette hung callously from his lips.

“Hey!” Beatrix shouted, “Where’s my burrito?”

“Patience, grasshopper.”

“I will hop on your crotch if we don’t eat a burrito soon.”

“An interesting argument.”

“Let’s eat.”

“You order, I’ll save us a table, the tourists will be waking up soon.”

They smiled at each other and she went inside. Philip puffed his cigarette back to life, smiled on the last inhale and tossed it into a gutter.

(Once they’re seated, eating)

Beatrix asked, “What happened last night, anyway?”

“Just another angry mark.”

“You should be more careful, it’s a small town and if you keep taking jobs like that eventually people are going to know you.”

“And that’d be bad?”
“Having a reputation poor reputation? Yeah, that’d be bad. I had a friend who had to move to L.A. because he rubbed the wrong local rube the wrong way.”

“Ruh ruh ruh ruh ruh.”

Beatrix slapped his burrito, a splodge of guacamole plithed onto the sidewalk. “Seriously. I know you think you’re special or whatever, but eventually someone will figure out your game.”

“Yah, but we were working for a local.”

“Geoff?” Beatrix snorted, “He’s a migrator who normally sublets his place and kicks out his tenants for random parties. Or sleeps with them.”

“So, not a local local.”


“That sucks. Matthew said he was a local. He said it probably wouldn’t even blow up.”
“He says that every time.”

“Yup.” Philip sighed. “I don’t know why I keep agreeing to it.”

“Because it’s easy money, yea?”

“Suppose so.”

“Just be careful.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nanowrimo0002 (766)

The sun shone sickly through the slatted window shutters. Vaughn peered through them, nervous. "Dude, where is she?"

"Man, she said she'd be here at noon, right?" His flatmate, Andrew, wetly snarfed more kid's cereal into his mouth, and flipped to the next episode of something political on the internet television.

"Yeah bu--"

"But nothing, she's got a good ten minutes before she's even on time, man. Chill out."

Vaughn sighed, and checked the safety on his handgun again, the warmth of his previous check still lingering in the underarm holster.

"No," Andrew said, "The gun does not make you look fat." They both chuckled.

* * *

The princess paused, the scissor edge just above his nipple --her phone had beeped. "Someone special, excuse me please," She said, standing and tying her robe.

She took the stairs two at a time, heart racing, and had the clamshell open before the locks had clicked their second clicks.

It read:
Hey was great running into you at the diner yesterday.
She smiled, eyebrows raised and started to respond when her phone beeped again. It read:
Do you want to get coffee some time?
The princess deleted her response. Instead, she sent the question, "Are you an Eddie Izzard fan?" to which, a few moments later, the response came:
 Lol. Tomrw?

* * *

The roof of the apartment was only cold for a moment, the gust not bothering to tail back, and Vaughn smiled at the lost hats and whipped-about bustles of the burlesque dancers.

Beatrix shot him a disproving glance before bellowing, "A breath of fire, perhaps?" And then it was hot and bright and drunk people squealed in exhortation.

A loud drunk shouted "MOORE" and she obliged, turning toward the voice, expertly keeping the flames in check, her spit in her cheeks, her lips crayon red, eyes glistening from the heat.

"That do ya? Now! Let there be music!" She bellowed again and somewhere, a dj scratched a record to life, hidden speakers blasting. "Welcome to the Solstice!" but  this time Beatrix's voice was lost in the crowd and the thud-thump of the music.

Vaughn stood on the edge of the roof, leaning tentatively against a rusty guard rail. He smiled and raised his glass at Beatrix as she lasciviously made her way through the roiling crowd, toward him.

They hugged, she on tippy-toes despite platform shoes, and she shouted, "Shouldn't you be watching Jim's back?" Gumming his ear lobe.

"They're taking a piss break, and the host is making more drinks. I'm probably going to have to ringer one of the more astute players in a drinking match, not sure if he's trying to swindle us or just getting lucky."

Beatrix bent back, "I don't believe in luck." She intoned.

"Back to it then, eh?"

“Back to it.”

Philip carefully climbed down the stairs, careful not to dislodge any of the drunker revelers, and climbed back through the kitchen window. “Woa woa woah, what’s this?” He asked.

The four other men, seated around a table looked up. James, the one Philip had mentioned to Beatrix smirked. “You snooze you loose.”

Philip counted everyone’s chips --exactly as it was when he’d ducked out to check on Beatrix. “I think you must be snoozing pretty hard then, pal.”

“Not your pal, pal.”

Philip shrugged and took his seat. He leaned into the table and reiterated where they were: The big and little blinds, minimum bet, and how well James’ mother fellated Philip that very morning.

Geoff, the man Philip was playing beef for took the deck and shuffled it, dropped it once, accidentally and blushed --actually blushed, just slightly-- before shuffling thrice more and dealing out the next hand, which James won.

The next hand was more tense, but Matthew, the person who’d hired Geoff (and subsequently Philip) and whose kitchen they were now monopolizing won big, knocking out the other player, a scrub, and leaving Philip and James both dangerously low on funds.

“Are we playing nice?” Matthew asked. “I’d hate for the two lovers here to have to go home at the same time.”

The lights flickered and another gust of wind blustered about, making it through the window, catching, but dropping a few fifty dollar bills.

“I won’t lose” James calmly stated.

Philip took the deck, shuffled, offered Matthew a chance to inspect the deck before dealing (declined) and dealt the cards.

The only sounds were the clink of chips and knuckles knocking the linoleum table  for a minute or two. Finally, Matthew looked everyone evenly in the face and announced the end.

Geoff won it all.

James frenzied.

NanoWriMo0001 (883)

"This doesn't feel right. I don't feel monstrous. I'm not sure you're doing me justice, recounting me like this." Said the misshapen man.

* * *

"This feels like a fairy tale, us here in the dark, talking amongst ourselves." The princess's voice was Ella Fitzgerald or a testicularly challenged Tom Waits. As if to prove the point, she lit a cigarette. Puffed it bright, lighting her half smile in the otherwise pitch room.

There were other voices, too, but all too distant, so I stood, thinking, meditating on the labored breathing of the misshapen man (though, squinting, maybe there are two of them? I couldn't tell) and the slow sighs of the princess.

"Hey," I asked the darkness. "What's your name?"

No Responses.

* * *

The sun broke through the clouds as the two hugged and parted. She called back over her shoulder, "Sorry this took so long!"

"Time is fine," he replied, but a grey truck turned the corner, burying his words, "We'll do it sooner next time."

During lunch, there had been genuine laughter, and highway divider eyes. He'd confessed to having a crush on a coworker, not the one that had a crush on him, and they'd both laughed. She chided him: "You're what? twenty-five? Aren't you too old for that shit?" And they'd laughed.

The sun, amazingly, strangely for September, warmed the wind, which gusted and rustled yellowing trees.

* * *

Mizu lives in Detroit, Michigan on the 9th floor of the Chatsworth Apartment building, in a one bedroom apartment she vacuums daily. There are bamboo shoots of various heights and girths potted in scavenged or stolen urns, rain barrels, jam jars, flower vases, and seven kinds of pots. Her closet is sparse, half a dozen variations on black or grey pencil skirts, ten white or grey button downs, and three sweater dresses: White, Grey, Black.

Mizu does not own pants. Mizu has enough garter belts and tights that by the time she has worn the last one, the first has aired completely out. She does not do this, though, oh no. She instead wears through tights and leggings obsessively, and more than one pair of runny thigh highs are reanimated panty hose.

* * *

Today, the day this narrative starts, is November Third, 2012. This story takes place in Detroit, and some satellite cities. These are cities you'd be familiar with if you were from Detroit, because let's write what we know, n'est pas? And they're not places you'd know if you were from, say, South Carolina, or New Orleans.

It's important to note that those two are different in scale only.

This is a story about living on the edge of cataclysm. This is the fourth of a second when the riders of a roller coaster are suspended, looking down the hill, the biggest on their ride, and they aren't falling, but they may as well be. In some ways, that not-falling falling is often worse.

Lots of people die of heart attacks, no one dies of fright.

This is about that space, what it looks like.

Arguably the two most important cities on the East Coast of the United States of America (Estados Unidos) have just been hit by one of the largest hurricanes in the history of the country. There may have been larger, but they weren't recorded.

(That may be a theme that emerges, later, and necessarily breaks the fourth (and third) wall: if something isn't recorded --tweeted, posted to a wall, tumbled, blogged, txt msg'd, or otherwise communicated to someone else, does it happen? This is different than lonely trees toppling or growing in forests.

The answer, apparently obvious from the outside, is yes: yes of course these things happen.)

On November third, a quarter of NYC is still without power, and the expected high temperature is forty eight degrees, with a low of thirty three. The number of dead old people, too stubborn to leave their apartments will be in the dozens and Republicans will hawk this number, screech about incompetence and the neglected argument is this:
If the GOP were in power, FEMA and other country wide disaster response teams would not exist as more than twitching shadows.

Not that there's much more life in it now, but none of that is Detroit, it's the brothers of Detroit, protecting and smiling and ignoring the beep beep beep.

Detroit was termed, "The Canary in the Mine" when the world's economy started twitching and leaking, way back in 2010. In 2012, the chap book "Discordia" By Molly CrabApple explained that, Greece, as a country, had also sprouted wings and a black lung.

Greece is tiny compared to los Estados Unidos, and as poor as the vacant tracts in Detroit, pero pienso que estais igualmente en ruina.

Counting spoons on the Hindenberg.

Mizu called her friend at 4:20pm, she thought it was funny and idiomatic. They chatted about class, an assignment, and whether or not they'd make it to the writer's conference in Chicago in a month.

"Depends on the election, really." dijo que.

* * *

There is a basement (so what?) deep en un barrio de Dearborn, circa de Detroit, sí? And in this basement the princess smokes cigarettes under a paper chandelier and draws art nouveau patterns on the complicit body of her ex novio with a broken pair of scissors.