Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mo loved the wind. There was nothing better to him than a dark summer afternoon with a strong wind howling down a city chasm.

Mo might be a woman, a girl. She had blue hair, but here, in this wet alley under a dark, roiling sky it's lightning blue.

Mo flashed her teeth at the man with the tentacle tattoos down his arms. He was pale, bald, tall. Three blue tentacles writhed around his right arm. Two red tentacles snuggled around his left elbow.

"Please move." Mo said.

The man with the tentacle tattoos shrugged. "Sure." he said, and stepped aside.

Thunder rumbled.

Mo hugged the damp wall, circled past the tall, tentacles, man. She snarled at him, teeth bared.

Impassively, the tentacles man twisted his neck impossibly far. He grinned and Mo turned and ran

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Herman asked, "Are you still  a donut, George?"

George laughed and snuffed out his cigarette. The waitress came and refilled their coffee cups. Outside, the snow continued to fall, soft and orange like the way good medicine tastes when you're four and a half.

"We're closing soon," The waitress said, a few minutes later.

George said, "I don't know. I don't think so. Maybe some of my barbs have sprung."

"That's good to hear, George. I'll see you in a few months and we'll talk about that." And then, just like always, Herman was gone. There was a nauseatingly blurry moment, and then he was gone, like a movie's special effect.

George smiled. His thick boots tracked water prints, heavy heels, across the faded paisley carpet. George lit another cigarette, over tipped, and walked out into the snow. Outside, George's breath billowed, despite that soft, strange winter warmth that comes at the beginning of a really desperate blizzard.

George inhaled, smiled through stab of cold in his nostrils. He pushed smoke languidly out his nose. The smoke oozed like languid tentacles, like a sentient mustache.

The tentacle man appeared.

George sighed. "What can I do for you on this blustery night?" George said.

"Heard you might've sprung, so I came to take a look." The tentacle man said. Then, without so much as a preparatory blur, the tentacle man had his mouth against George's left ear. The tentacle man said, "But it appears. . . not yet. Springs are still winding. Maybe in the spring?"

And then, his head reeling, George was standing alone, sweating in a dark parking lot while snow settled on his hat and coat and

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Trickster Notes v3

Monster Professional Arc and a half (tragedy)
1. Kills a big demon

  • looses killing a small demon, can't pay rent w.out the money from the bounty
    • Gets splashed in the face by demon gunk
    • Sits and sighs, contemplates continuing the chase
    • Continues the chase
    • Chases demon down flight of stairs onto a crowded L train platform
    • Demon turns unexpectedly and jumps on him
    • Twists his ankle as they fall
    • looses the demon
  • homeless; first night sleeping in car, sees huge demon chasing someone
    • gets to his apartment, door is open
    • inside his windows are open
    • his apartment is cold and empty
    • his stuff is on the sidewalk --tossed out the windows
    • runs down, gathers necessities
    • gets in his car
    • parks in a parking lot outside the city
  • chases the demon chasing the someone
    • Demon roars, runs by his car
    • "Bad dream." 
    • Someone screams fire
    • he goes running, hurts his ankle more
    • goes the wrong way, looses them. Gets frustrated
    • starts to go back to his car, runs into them again
    • They stand on either side of the alley, someone in the middle.
  • fights the demon, who tears the someone's arm off
    • Demon tears someone's arm off
    • Throws it at him
    • Kicks someone into him
    • Falls and demon smashes someone's face into his face
    • Someone looks dead
    • Demon laughs and uses dead someone to smack him around
  • INNOCENT BYSTANDER RAGE leads to killing the big demon
    • keeps getting hit with the limp legs of someone, like a gigantic flail
    • manages to snap big demon's knee
    • gets caught under falling demon
    • crushed and suffocating under flabby part of otherwise taut demon
    • bites demon's important artery, gnaws it apart
    • demon screams and tries to run, forgetting about snapped knee
    • he kills the demon
  • looses the bounty taking the someone to the hospital
    • someone groans
    • he calls a clean up crew
    • someone is  bleeding to death
    • clean up crew are busy tonight, won't be there for at least an hour
    • someone whimpers for help
    • stares at the huge demon corpse, debating life and death and money
    • takes someone to the hospital
  • goes back and the demon body is gone. goes back to hospital, patient checked self out.
    • has trouble speaking to nurse, who thinks he needs to stay, too
    • manages to sneak out of the E.R. when an ambulance pulls up
    • limps to car, almost out of gas
    • stops to get gas, 
    • calls clean up crew: haven't gotten there yet
    • demon is gone, not due to clean up crew
    • starts to EMOTE over lost bounty

2. Paid by mail
  • Wakes up, goes to a gym, showers, sees a neutral demon.
    • Car smells  bad, he smells bad
    • Checks the date, checks gym membership app
    • expired yesterday; has to sneak into the gym
    • works out, sees a demon working out
    • they eye each other but the demon leaves
    • no one else seemed to notice
    • is he going crazy?
  • Gets to car, envelope with a key in it.
    • chases demon into parking lot
    • showers, dresses
    • talks to sales rep about other customer
    • other customer is ELITE SPECIAL member
    • gets kicked out due to expired gym membership
    • Someone doing something to his car
    • Finds an envelope with a big, brass key in it under a windshield wiper
  • Texts contacts --not them.
    • phone is out of power
    • doesn't want to waste gas; it starts to rain
    • takes coat, USB cord, walks to library
    • library is closed.
    • lightning strike
    • phone is charged
    • texts demon hunter contacts, but none of them picked up the demon or dropped off the key on his car.
  • Takes the key to post office. 
    • rummages about in his stuff, doesn't find a coat
    • decides to walk in the rain anyway
    • soaked and cold, runs to post office
    • post office has weird hours --is open
    • post office is full of demons, many with bounties on their heads 
    • almost starts a fight, post master points out this is a no violence zone
    • gets in line to find what's in the box
  • Post office doesn't know.
    • line is very long
    • he gets pushed around, jostled, otherwise treated like 3rd rate citizen
    • gets angry, shouts about fight and killing gigantic demon
    • all the demons surge around him
    • post master points out this is a no violence zone
    • many many many threats
    • post master doesn't recognize the key
  • Almost gets run off the road, swerves into a parking lot with a store "going postal."
    • leaves the post office
    • chased through stormy city by gaggle of angry demons
    • takes a turn into a dead end alley
    • turns to face the demons
  • The key fits a mail box, there
    • Demon working the counter ignores him until he yells and flicks blood on the counter
    • Demon refuses to serve him
    • Tricks demon into wits contest and wins "nothing but the truth" from the demon
    • Demon threatens vile and hellish retribution, but shows him to the mail box
    • Gaggle of demons burst into the store
    • Demons are more interested in other demon than him!
    • Rummages, finds the mail belonging to the lock box

3. Gets another job
  • Letter to meet someone at a park at dinner time
  • Skips free lunch with a friend
  • Waits at the park
  • No one shows
  • it gets dark
  • has to hide from curfew cops
  • (same) someone shows up with another envelope and two arms

4. Gets snot kicked out of him, and turned into a monster

  • Hands him the envelope and disappears
  • Two big(ger) demons show up
  • Surprises them and gets the drop on one
  • the injured one grabs his leg, tripping him; keeps kicking injured in the face when
  • other demon starts fisti-smashing him into the ground
  • big demon goes for kill shot punch (or equivalent) and gets cut in half: knees to neck: gone
  • Finishes off injured demon, limps home

5. Gets attacked by family, almost dies fleeing loved ones

  • gets home and leaves the lights off
  • father / relation is in the kitchen, too
  • they talk
  • opens the fridge, the light blinds him
  • relation attacks him, knocking him around the kitchen, into the stove; further exacerbating current injuries
  • starts a house fire to distract sibling / relation
  • escapes, hobbling into the night as his house burns


6. Uses the rage and hurt to destroy the snot-kicker

  • Goes back to the park
  • someone is there, dissecting the demons
  • stands up, offers handshake
  • both shake hands and both use it to throw haymaker attacks at the other --trying for insta-kills
  • the bruising from all the other fights are numb, so the delicate pressure point attack from the someone doesn't work
  • fit of rage: smashes and curb stomps someone well to death

7. Moves to Detroit, only takes easy jobs for a while.

  • rifles through someone's clothes; strips him naked. Finds many moneys and a credit card
  • rifles through the demon's guts, finds [something valuable] in the guts of the first downed demon
  • gets picked up by cops for being out after curfew
  • taken to Detroit police station
  • pays bail
  • hails a cab --driven by a demon
  • next day, finds and pays for three months of utilities and rent with half the acquired money.

Monster Personal Arc (rebirth)
1. Lonely Monster killing monsters
2. Saves Sara from monsters bent on revenge
3. Meets Sara
4. Gets to know Self through getting to know Sara
5. Monster fight, turns Sara into a half monster AND they both get the shit kicked out of them.
6. They use combined monster powers to destroy monsters and etc, which seems to expel all his monstrous attributes
7. Leaves the city

Sara Arc Personal Arc (dream / adventure)
1. Gets saved from monster mugging
2. Meets Monster
3. Fights off monsters / Gets to know Monster
4. Alienates family
5. Attacked and taken elsewhere with monster
6. Breaks out / frees self as Monster arrives
7. Leave the city / call family who are happy she is alive after going missing for a while

Sara Professional Arc (Rags to Riches)
1. Coffee maker who looses her job
2. Odd jobs: waitress at a strip club
3. Almost mugged, but gets a reward from the police for detaining a wanted criminal
4. Starts looking for other monsters
5. Gets the shit kicked out of her by other monsters
6. Finds a den of monsters
7. Turns them all in for many, many reward dollars.


Coffee Space Arc (Comedy)
1. okay
2. weird customers
3. weirder customers
4. break in
5. break in and assault
6. burns down
7. Two sets of insurance money (equipment and building owner, something) allow for an all new/amazing rebuild

Julia Personal Arc (Awakening)
1. Dislikes monsters
2. Meets Monster
3. Monsters take over her cafe
4. Monster fight messes up her cafe
5. attacks and fights off Monster and monsters
6. monsters burn down her cafe
7. Monster kills arsonist monsters in front of her . . . not all monsters are bad :)


Monday, May 12, 2014

Trickster Notes v2

Monster Professional Arc and a half (tragedy)
1. Kills a big demon

  • looses killing a small demon, can't pay rent w.out the money from the bounty
  • homeless; first night sleeping in car, sees huge demon chasing someone
  • chases the demon chasing the someone
  • fights the demon, who tears the someone's arm off
  • INNOCENT BYSTANDER RAGE leads to killing the big demon
  • looses the bounty taking the someone to the hospital
  • goes back and the demon body is gone. goes back to hospital, patient checked self out.

2. Paid by mail

  • Wakes up, goes to a gym, showers, sees a neutral demon.
  • Gets to car, envelope with a key in it.
  • Texts contacts --not them.
  • Takes the key to post office
  • Post office doesn't know. Demon working at the post office
  • Almost gets run off the road, swerves into a parking lot with a store "going postal."
  • The key fits a mail box, there.

3. Gets another job

  • Letter to meet someone at a park at dinner time
  • Skips free lunch with a friend
  • Waits at the park
  • No one shows
  • it gets dark
  • has to hide from curfew cops
  • (same) someone shows up with another envelope and two arms

4. Gets snot kicked out of him, and turned into a monster

  • Hands him the envelope and disappears
  • Two big(ger) demons show up
  • Surprises them and gets the drop on one
  • the injured one grabs his leg, tripping him; keeps kicking injured in the face when
  • other demon starts fisti-smashing him into the ground
  • big demon goes for kill shot punch (or equivalent) and gets cut in half: knees to neck: gone
  • Finishes off injured demon, limps home

5. Gets attacked by family, almost dies fleeing loved ones

  • gets home and leaves the lights off
  • father / relation is in the kitchen, too
  • they talk
  • opens the fridge, the light blinds him
  • relation attacks him, knocking him around the kitchen, into the stove; further exacerbating current injuries
  • starts a house fire to distract sibling / relation
  • escapes, hobbling into the night as his house burns


6. Uses the rage and hurt to destroy the snot-kicker

  • Goes back to the park
  • someone is there, dissecting the demons
  • stands up, offers handshake
  • both shake hands and both use it to throw haymaker attacks at the other --trying for insta-kills
  • the bruising from all the other fights are numb, so the delicate pressure point attack from the someone doesn't work
  • fit of rage: smashes and curb stomps someone well to death

7. Moves to Detroit, only takes easy jobs for a while.

  • rifles through someone's clothes; strips him naked. Finds many moneys and a credit card
  • rifles through the demon's guts, finds [something valuable] in the guts of the first downed demon
  • gets picked up by cops for being out after curfew
  • taken to Detroit police station
  • pays bail
  • hails a cab --driven by a demon
  • next day, finds and pays for three months of utilities and rent with half the acquired money.

Monster Personal Arc (rebirth)
1. Lonely Monster killing monsters
2. Saves Sara from monsters bent on revenge
3. Meets Sara
4. Gets to know Self through getting to know Sara
5. Monster fight, turns Sara into a half monster AND they both get the shit kicked out of them.
6. They use combined monster powers to destroy monsters and etc, which seems to expel all his monstrous attributes
7. Leaves the city

Sara Arc Personal Arc (dream / adventure)
1. Gets saved from monster mugging
2. Meets Monster
3. Fights off monsters / Gets to know Monster
4. Alienates family
5. Attacked and taken elsewhere with monster
6. Breaks out / frees self as Monster arrives
7. Leave the city / call family who are happy she is alive after going missing for a while

Sara Professional Arc (Rags to Riches)
1. Coffee maker who looses her job
2. Odd jobs: waitress at a strip club
3. Almost mugged, but gets a reward from the police for detaining a wanted criminal
4. Starts looking for other monsters
5. Gets the shit kicked out of her by other monsters
6. Finds a den of monsters
7. Turns them all in for many, many reward dollars.


Coffee Space Arc (Comedy)
1. okay
2. weird customers
3. weirder customers
4. break in
5. break in and assault
6. burns down
7. Two sets of insurance money (equipment and building owner, something) allow for an all new/amazing rebuild

Julia Personal Arc (Awakening)
1. Dislikes monsters
2. Meets Monster
3. Monsters take over her cafe
4. Monster fight messes up her cafe
5. attacks and fights off Monster and monsters
6. monsters burn down her cafe
7. Monster kills arsonist monsters in front of her . . . not all monsters are bad :)



The envelope opened easily against the wooden letter opener. The letter was from

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Trickster Notes v1

Monster Professional Arc and a half (tragedy)
1. Kills a big demon
2. Paid by mail
3. Gets another job
4. Gets snot kicked out of him, and turned into a monster
5. Gets attacked by family, almost dies fleeing loved ones
6. Uses the rage and hurt to destroy the snot-kicker
7. Moves to Detroit, only takes easy jobs for a while.

Monster Personal Arc (rebirth)
1. Lonely Monster killing monsters
2. Saves Sara from monsters bent on revenge
3. Meets Sara
4. Gets to know Self through getting to know Sara
5. Monster fight, turns Sara into a half monster AND they both get the shit kicked out of them.
6. They use combined monster powers to destroy monsters and etc, which seems to expel all his monstrous attributes
7. Leaves the city

Sara Arc Personal Arc (dream / adventure)
1. Gets saved from monster mugging
2. Meets Monster
3. Fights off monsters / Gets to know Monster
4. Alienates family
5. Attacked and taken elsewhere with monster
6. Breaks out / frees self as Monster arrives
7. Leave the city / call family who are happy she is alive after going missing for a while

Sara Professional Arc (Rags to Riches)
1. Coffee maker who looses her job
2. Odd jobs: waitress at a strip club
3. Almost mugged, but gets a reward from the police for detaining a wanted criminal
4. Starts looking for other monsters
5. Gets the shit kicked out of her by other monsters
6. Finds a den of monsters
7. Turns them all in for many, many reward dollars.


Coffee Space Arc (Comedy)
1. okay
2. weird customers
3. weirder customers
4. break in
5. break in and assault
6. burns down
7. Two sets of insurance money (equipment and building owner, something) allow for an all new/amazing rebuild

Julia Personal Arc (Awakening)
1. Dislikes monsters
2. Meets Monster
3. Monsters take over her cafe
4. Monster fight messes up her cafe
5. attacks and fights off Monster and monsters
6. monsters burn down her cafe
7. Monster kills arsonist monsters in front of her . . . not all monsters are bad :)




Teeth like a stomped match stick box

Julia stared at the man across the counter --a customer asking after one of her employees. She narrowed her eyes and said, "She's not here."

"Are you sure?" The man asked. He wore a light grey suit, with a white shirt, black dress shoes. He also wore a huge, black scarf.

It was June in Detroit. Everyone was sweating, except this man, who stood, legs spread, grinning politely at Julia the barista, owner of The Coffee Space, just off the Cass street corridor.

Julia smiled politely, her eyes still narrow. "She doesn't work today." She growled.

"I understand your concern for your friend? Your colleague. But I want you to know I will take good care of her." The man paused, furrowed his brows and nodded, as if asking: Understand?

Accidentally, Julia nodded.

"At least," The man with the gigantic black scarf and light grey business suit continued, "I will make sure not to turn her into a monster like myself. I recognize that I am a monster, and so, I think, do you. My past stains me." He smiled. The man's teeth were thin and crooked and often overlapping, like a trampled match stick box. "You do not think that I fit, and I know I do not fit, within your conception of normal, or nice, or safe. For myself, you are right. But: I will take care of Sara, and I will take care to keep Sara from becoming." The last word hung in the air, and the man in the grey business suit cocked his head and smiled. "At least these days, recently, you see, I am a conscientious monster." He grinned again, without revealing his teeth, this time.

Julia shuddered, goose flesh ran up her arms, which she rubbed, hugging herself.

"May I leave something for Sara?" The man asked.

"Sure." Julia whispered.

The man pulled a wide envelope from inside his thin suit jacket. The envelope was yellow --a standard inter office business envelope, yellow, with a series of names crossed off, leading to the bottom of the page and the name Sara Miller. The man adjusted his scarf and said, "Please take care that Sara gets this. Thank-you. Sorry to bother." He held the envelope out and Julia took it.

"Will do. Bye." She said.

The man smiled, tipped an imaginary hat off his bald head. He pretended the hat fell down, he picked it up, dusted it, blew specs of imaginary dust from his non-existent hat, set it back on his head and turned, and left.

Julia, paler than normal, thin lipped, leaned against the counter top. Next to her, the large yellow envelope glowed softly.

Alaska

"Well hello there," She said with a smile as she slammed into the seat next to me. "Didn't expect to see you on a southbound train any time soon. Sneaking away for a weekend?"

I smiled, but my heart wasn't in it. I said, "No,

Friday, May 2, 2014

2 Floors to go

I'm still bleeding from the dog bite. I'm down to three bullets.

I'm sweating so much

I'm fogging up my goggles.

Where is she?

Where is she?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

23 Floors to Go

We stared at each other through grime and gas masks. Maria twitched her left hand and I nodded.

Wind rustled through the heat flaked hallway. Dogs barked. Upstairs, something clattered to the floor, floorboards creaked above our heads.

I checked my pistol --bullet in the chamber, three left in the clip.

Glove fingertips wrapped in duct tape, Maria gingerly turned the knob on an apartment door --it turned and

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Teeth

"I love you. I'm sorry I'm not what you need right now. I will see you later." I said.

I turned the lights off and walked down the hall, down the stairs.

I sat on our couch and practiced deep breathing exercises.

I lay down and went to sleep.

Escapism

We, Devi and I, were chatting and sipping coffee and whiskey (with ice cubes) in her kitchen. We were waiting for our sweet potatoes to finish baking. The rice sat, slowly cooling in its stainless steel pot. Outside, her dogs barked at a jogger.


We were both sweating like our mason jars. The air was still, despite the open doors, despite the open windows. We leaned against the ancient Formica countertops. The salad --chopped kale, red pepper, cucumber-- smelled strongly; the vinegar dressing shone on the crushed peanuts.


The living room was oppressively bright --bleached pale, washed out, the sun breaking across the bay windows. But, the kitchen. The kitchen faced north into a forest. The verdant trees meant that at dusk, noon, or nine the kitchen was pleasantly dim.


She said, “Look,” while staring into her coffee cup. Devi bounced an ice cube with a long finger. “I’ve got my student loans, and we don’t need passports to go to Puerto Rico. Let’s just go. Let’s go. To the airport, now. Let’s just leave for a while. Just a week. I don’t care. Only if there’s a flight today. Or not. We can eat dinner. Whatever you want.”


I swallowed coffee-whiskey for a long time. I looked at her and I said, “I don’t.” but then I stopped.


And Devi looked at me and said, “You don’t what?” Her blue eyes caught the light of a passing car, all the way from the street, through the living room, into the kitchen. Devi blinked, her eyes suddenly wet. “What ever you want, alright?”


There was a moment of emptiness while I tried to fish something out of my memory, but couldn’t. “I don’t know” I said. “Will your roommate drive us?” I smiled.


“Probably. Or Samantha.” she said.


A breeze stirred. Our mouths were wide as our eyes as she texted her roommate. The timer on the oven beeped. We reached out and turned the stove off at the same time, our fingers twined.

Devi's phone beeped. "We're good." She whispered. She rolled and lit a joint, her brass zippo was dull, dented, nicked. "What am I going to pack in ten minutes?" She asked.

"Nothing." I said. "I'm not packing anything."

"You're bringing your laptop, though."

I nodded.

Devi nodded. She tapped her chin."Then you're packing. Don't worry, I'll buy you clothes."

I smiled. I shrugged. "Puerto Rico?" I asked. "Just a bathing suit will be fine."

"We'll see." Devi narrowed her eyes at me. "We can't spend the entire time on the beach, we could do that here."

I shrugged.

"I'm gonna," Devi pointed. I nodded.

While she was gone I took out the sweet potatoes and sliced, buttered, salted, mashed them. I carefully spooned starchy, waning moons into bowls, then slid spoons down their rim. I swirled my coffee and wiped the mason jar against my forehead. I stared out the window, palms flat against countertop, fingers enjoying the cool of the black porcelain sink.

"Miss me?" She asked, coming back, wiping her hands on her black cotton dress. Some of the seams were frayed where the swathes of more black cotton were sewn in, like a loose toga, swirling, covering her breasts and hips. The grey stitching looked like halogen contrails under a midnight Caribbean sky. Devi's smile was wan, her eyes cagey.


I shrugged.

Devi's brow furrowed.

I smirked and reached toward her left cheek with my right knuckles.

"You guys ready?" Her roommate shouted. The garage door slammed.

I laughed.

Devi yelled, "Almost! One second!" Then, "Buy clothes when we get there?"

I said, "Cool."

We stumbled, weak knees, green pallor, down the stairs of the small airplane, warm rain pelting us like a monstrous, warm massage shower.

I stopped at the stairs into the airport and finished emptying my stomach. Thunder rolled over us, sending a wave of goosebumps up my spine while I spat, hands on knees. Devi firmly rubbed my back with her finger tips and whispered encouraging, soothing words to me.

I stood. I smiled. We stared at each other and, simultaneously, grinned, nodded.

Taking my hand Devi pulled us through the airport.


Later, I sprawled on a towel, propped on my elbows and watched Devi kick and splash in the ocean. Behind her, the setting sun was red and small. Above us, the edge of a storm rolled toward the sun. Devi wasn't getting rained on yet, the roar of the ocean hiding the pelting, clicking and putting sound of the huge, warm raindrops.

I turned my head up and closed my eyes. I could still see Devi in her black cotton sun dress, an arc of ocean bubbles spiraling from her foot.

Thunder rumbled. I smiled. I stood up, slowly, stretching my arms over my head, then down to my toes. I yawned. I shouted to her, but the ocean and the storm stifled me.

I followed the edge of the storm toward the sunset, toward Devi, never taking my eyes off her. She turned while I was a goodly distance away and I stopped, the rain rushed ahead and a moment later I could barely see Devi through the veil of water.

Devi turned just before the edge of the storm caught her, soaked her warmly. I heard her startled laugh through the pitter and the patter. Behind us, lightning cracked the air, then thunder. I ran to her and wrapped my hands around her waist and picked her up and twirled her and the tide went out and the sand went out from under my feet and we crashed into the white muck, laughing, drenched, warm and a wave crashed hard over us and knocked her forehead onto my nose and I laughed and said, "Bonk!"

And Devi said, "You're bleeding!" and thunder rolled, and

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fever Dreams

Last year, for a while, I was a boxer. I punched people. I punched people and they crumpled, and some of them died.

Yesterday A long time ago, I was a gardener.

There was a peach tree behind my house, in a vast, low, yellow and white field. The field was ringed by lonely, distant ash trees.

Ash trees were rare, back then.

The farmer of the field didn't care for trees. Don't blame him, they weren't his stock or his trade. He trimmed branches according to whim, then retired.

When I came to the field, scythe hoisted across my shoulders, shears in a back pocket. I smiled. I said, "Hello." to the peach tree.

The peach tree stood quietly.

I pruned branch buds and thin sticks. I chopped off dead branches and carefully sawed through thick limbs. I didn't finish the pruning before the sun slipped behind the mountains, but the peach tree looked cleaner when I looked at it from a distance; Less brutalized.

The peach tree was riddled with stubs. Branches cut in the middle, for no discernible reason, no forks or burns, just branch, then:


Like a poorly cared for veteran.

Like a poor amputee.

The peach tree was stripped of its stubs and crooked limbs, its stunted branches culled.

I smiled.

Listen: everyone in this story: I am them. I am everyone. This is a dream we're sharing, you and I, my reader. We are both everyone in this story. Understand? (I don't care.)

This is a fever dream, because I am sick. I've told you already: I kill people. I've killed so many people. Strangers, friends, acquaintances, lovers, family. Like tree limbs. Sometimes. Sometimes I danced while I did it. a jig, a mosh, never salsa, though. Salsa isn't for killing.









"Hello dear." Dale breathed to his cat as he closed the thick apartment door and set his keys on the chipped, cigarette burned Formica counter top. Dale did not smoke. His cat did not smoke, either, any more. Tonight, the cat tilted its head and started to purr. "On the table though, cat?" Dale asked his cat. The cat's name was










a few years ago I had pink hair and a vagina. It was awesome. I smiled all the time and none of this should surprise you. I was named by the doctor who pulled me into this world. My mother died, you see. (I laughed when I typed that, I laughed because what else can you do? It was a long time ago, now, and you have to show people you're okay with it.) So my name is Thursday. I was born on a Thursday, but the birth started on a Tuesday. Thursday June Smith. The doctor was thorough, even if she wasn't particularly creative. I bet you can guess what month I was born in, eh?

I met a man the other day, a much older man. This other day, I was early twenties (I don't remember, exactly, any more) but he was clearly in his mid thirties: short, grey hair, flat fingertips and scabby, hairy, knob knuckles. He had a crooked grin and a rambunctious tongue. He closed his eyes when he ordered his aniseed green tea. I frowned. "Is that any good?" I asked.

"Do you like black licorice?" He asked. He smiled. His tongue darted.

I smiled, but my eyebrows continued frowning. "I dunno." I said, "Not really."

"Would you like to try it?" He asked.

I said I would, and we chatted for a while, after I ordered my Americana. We talked about coffee and the weather --how cold it was, still. We



He told me he missed talking, like this. He missed, he told me, talking like an adult. I laughed, secretly flattered to be called an adult. I said, "






"Hello." He said as Marie slid into the passenger seat of his car.

"



Saturday, March 22, 2014

bien sûr, por supuesto, obviously

"Listen, if we're friends, please, please just come over. I'll text you my address. Text me, yeah. I'm serious."

Hector stared at his hands, the snakeskin of his dry knuckles. the dried blood from the cracked joints. The hair he didn't remember getting so thick. "Thank-you." He said.

He texted his friend, Bertha (everyone called her Bea) his address, including his full name on the first line. Sure, they chatted. Sure, Bea gave him her number and offered to cook him dinner, or buy him a ("Just one, I'm pretty broke." She sighed.) a drink. Sure. But this was the first time either of them had called the other, and it was late.

"What a first time to call someone." Hector said to himself. The mass of butterflies flittering around in his stomach were hiding the pit, covering the dank opening, though it growled, hungrily.

Hector stood in his small kitchen, looking anywhere but at Bea as she bent down and unstrapped her summer sandals. Under her red hooded sweater --a zip up, that wasn't-- Bea wore:
  • a black t-shirt skirt with a rough cut V decolletage that she made herself. The seams stemmed from knots of thread by her kidneys
  • An pair of lacy black boy-shorts panties
  • A black, full cup bra with spaghetti straps
Hector wasn't blushing, but only because Hector didn't blush. Hector didn't smile much, either. Polite acquaintances called him: The Supreme Poker Face. Bullies in high school his freshman year called him Frankenstein. After a brawl in his junior year, Hector didn't have trouble for a solid three years, but now.

Bea stood up. Her t-shirt skirt had the impossible to read logo of a Swedish Black Metal band on it. She smiled at him. She smelled like baby powder. She wasn't wearing make up.

"Drink?" Hector asked.

"I'm hungry, actually. What do you have to eat?" Bea replied. She looked around Hector's apartment. She asked, "Got enough couches?"

"There's three more in the other room, if you're concerned." Hector said. He opened his fridge.

"Where do you sleep?" Bea asked.

"On a couch."

"Just any couch?"

"I've got a lot of couches."

"But not a favorite?" 

Hector did some math,  counted on his fingers, then mentally chopped some vegetables. "I could make us some vegetable and egg stir fry, and rice." he said. he added, "If you don't mind sharing food."

"I would share a drink with you too, if you offered." Bea said. She smiled at him, hands in her hooded sweater's pockets. She rocked on her heels, a sly grin curled a corner of Bea's mouth.

"Let me show you my favorite couch." Hector said.

(earlier that day. . .)
Hector Tanner stood tall and thick. From the ground up he wore:

  • Thick black gunner's boots, with reinforced toes.
  • Thick grey socks, with anti-smell heels and toes.
  • Black, boot cut, work jeans with knees his mother turned inside out and reinforced.
  • A black t-shirt
  • A dark grey, short sleeve, work shirt with a name tag sewn on. The name tag said, "William."
Hector Tanner held the splintered remains of a baseball bat. He stood tall and thick and hairy over the abject, broken, bodies of three college students. At least, they looked like college students. One of them moaned. Hector dropped the useless half-a-baseball bat and stooped. He gathered his library books and tablet computer and his backpack and carefully put everything back where it belonged. Hector sighed. The one with his wallet had run off while he dealt with the one who had the gun. 

The gun.

Hector looked around in the darkness. He found the gun and emptied the remaining four bullets from their chambers. He put the bullets two each in the breast pockets of his shirt. Hector put the gun in his backpack.

Hector Tanner slowly, quietly, finished the dark, over grown path between the gas station where he worked and his apartment building.

There were three people sitting on the stairs of Hector's apartment building. Three white boys, all younger than him, but not by much. One of them had a black eye and a split lip and a gashed open cheek, he stood up and pointed at Hector. "That's him." He said.

Hector stopped under the orange street light on the edge between the husk of one apartment building and the parking lot. Hector's hands gripped the straps of his back pack. "Hello again." Hector said.

The other two men stood up. One of them seemed almost as tall and stocky as Hector. This big one cracked his knuckles and a smile. "That so?" The big one said. "Well, Jon." He patted the pointing guy on the shoulder. "At least this one looks the part."

The three young men were all wearing identical, mottled grey hooded sweaters --zip ups that weren't-- and blue jeans that looked new under the parking lot light.

"Pardon?" Hector said. "May I pass?"

"May I pass?" Jon asked.

"Hector J Tanner, I a regret to inform you that you are to be evicted. Due to violations in the sub clause of your lease, you have forty-eight hours to vacate your apartment. On Monday at eight o'clock, the cleaning crew will arrive at your apartment. Anything still in the apartment at that time will be removed. Do you have any questions?" The biggest guy, hand still on Jon's shoulder, looked at Hector. He said, "I'm sorry Hector. You crossed the wrong guy."

"Really?" Hector asked.

"Really. Forty eight hours. I'm sorry."

"Well then." Hector said, "Excuse me." He strolled through the trio of men on his apartment building stoop. Through the two doors --his keys still worked. Up the backless stairs, through the mustard and dirt smelling cold spot on the stairs.

The key to his apartment also worked. "Huh." Hector said.

In the aloe scented darkness of his apartment, Hector sighed. He did some math, counted on his fingers, then mentally unpacked and started filling the dozen plastic totes in the bedroom closet. He stood there for a few moments, visualizing. He said, "I should probably actually do that."


(earlier that year. . . )
Hector tilted his head. "Thank-you." he said.

"Sure. Hi." 

* * *

The gas station doesn't have a regularly mopped floor. The gas station is also a mechanic's shop. The mechanics are young, dirty, honest. They laugh and most of them smoke. This is where Hector works. Hector does not smoke, he does oil changes, brake pad changes. Tire rotations. Tire changes. On his lunch breaks, Hector reads a book, or listens to an audio book.

Hector eats five apples a day. He is loosing weight, according to his plan.

Hector is twenty-five years old, and is not in college. He does not need college. He likes learning --is an autodidact. Eventually he will be the owner of









We were, the seven of us, sat in chairs, feet up on the patio table, while young fireflies flittered around the pine trees.


We were, the four of us, sat on a blanket, while the antique, electric fan rattled and kept the mosquitoes away. It was hot and the Absinthe was long warm, but black Absinthe (its first, startling, aniseed bite: so tasty) was designed for Greek evenings and rivuletted beautifully through our misshapen ice cubes and coiled delicious at the bottom of our pint glasses.


We were, the three of us, cuddled on the couch. We listened, mouths open, breath held, for the next thunder clap. We smiled and clapped and forced laughs that turned real with each boom.


We were, the two of us, stuffed in a booth the night before



. . . look. This isn't exciting, it is wish fulfillment. You don't have to read it, you probably shouldn't.

I want to remember moments where we held hands and stared quietly into a roaring fire while sheets of rain thrashed against the windows. I want to remember the

I am writing this so I can remember the curve of her hips in those brown pinstripe pants we found at a thrift store in Charleston and no, it doesn't matter which one. We got funny looks and poor service. She wore a white a frame shirt and a cream colored bra that made many things defy physics that evening, and she grinned with her thin, wide lips and her verdant eyes shone like polished lake stones.

We laughed, incredulous, at the dry triangle of t-shirt under her boobs, the first time she wore that bra and we got caught in the rain. "How is that?" She asked, holding the shirt up.

"Your boobs." I said, "They are literally comic book big."

She shook her head. "That's ridiculous." She said, "They're ridiculous." And she sighed, heavily, goose fleshed and August tanned.

I am writing about the past because I am trying to come to the present.

I am writing while I wait. I am waiting. I have a friend, I am her ride to the hospital when she goes into labor. Well. I might be her ride to the hospital. I might go out dancing tonight, later, depending on how she feels. She has slept most of the day, and been prone, half dazed, when awake.

I wanted to write a "simple" heroics story. A clever set of events that a group of friends or acquaintances experienced together. Instead I'm pretending I'm single.

I'm not. My friend is my wife and the fact that she's my friend isn't a lie, but it isn't the truth, either, because people always expect you to tell them the biggest most interesting and life changing part of a story first, as if it were their business that I'm married to my best friend.

As if they have a right to know who I actually love.

I love my best friend, and she is asleep, or about to be, on the couch. And I am here, writing. Putting words down, trying to express the present, so I'm not stuck looking into the past, no matter how far that may be.

Do you know the song "STUNNER" ? it came out in October of 2013. The singer-song writer is a very tall, very old man. He is in his forties. He wears black clothes, t-shirts with his name in huge block letters, white on black.

Maybe if I have a sip of vodka my daughter will kick off this

Simple
Actions
Stake

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gracias, amiga.

Sus manos son frágiles. Son las primeras cosas que veo.

Comienza pequeño. Pasos pequeños son el único modo de conscientemente llegar a algún sitio. Múevete lentamente, presta atencíon. Mira más alla --dos veces-- todo el tiempo.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Enthralled by a summer witch in the dead of winter

amaba una bruja de verano en el medio de invierno.


I sat and secretly enjoyed the smoke from the man's cigarette. It was crisp, and reminded me of corn mazes and a summer with witch's fingers.

Me sentaba y con yo me gustaba los humos con el pitillo del hombre viejo.

The ghosts of summers passed. The ghosts of past summers. The ghosts of passed summers.

"Pass the past," he said, and passed out.

Por favor, dime el pregunto del realidad. 

En éste momento, quiero preguntarte: ¿qué vas a hacer? ¿que quieres a hacer? ¿por que éstos no son lo mismo? 

voy a escribir un relato en español. Va a ser un travelogue de mi vida, mi corazón, y mi cabeza cuando soy un papa.

Sí voy a escribir en español --va a divertido pues, ó cómico? 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Assume

There was a poem in my head the other day,  it stared at me with break light eyes on a dim bus. 

The poem began with, "Assume. Assume he engineers all those moments for you. He lays them out, just so you can smile and laugh and think 'synchronicity'"

That isn't how it started.

I don't remember how it started.

That is half a truth. The poem started while I was contracting, while I was feeling the clouds, and her uterine lining.

The poem started, then.

The poem started with the idea that nothing is coincidence, that all the electric moments where hands brush, or where one wavers into the other --all those moments are planned.

The poem is the edge and the gusty day that stilled our lips with its strength.

The poem tried to talk about the bird calls, and the muddy water we swam in, and how we both laughed and swopped the dirt from our eyes.

"Assume," I thought, "That he waited breathlessly for you to take his rook, knight your pawn and threaten his king."

No. None of that is true. Until just now the poem wasn't a chess metaphor.

The poem isn't chess because the poem is not combative. The poem is collaborative. Like, hands holding; that fluttered until touching, then were earth steady. Hands that pulled us through museums to see the next favorite painting.

The poem was outstretched hands and a red hooded sweater on a dark, cool, summer fire escape.

Assume he wants to as much as you do.

Assume you're thinking synchronously.

Assume you know their secrets and momentary fantasies (because you do).

Assume you know the questions.
(because the poem recalled the re-getting-to-know-you of it all.)


Assume the darkest, closest moments.

That was the refrain to the poem, but the three stanzas are gone.

Just love, hiding in the falter of a wonky tongue.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A birth cycle is a series of escalating echoes that culminate in the creation of love. This is the broken equation at the root of our universe. There is a spectrum and both ends, though completely separate, are exactly the same.

He laughed and swallowed the last of his vodka. He looked across the white table at his dinner companion and continued, "Love from things previously not love. Entropy is, in reality, not. Entropy is a human misunderstanding, because humans evolved without a keen love sense. Training a sense of love, learning compassion. Every religion points to this as a thing. Reincarnation, living after death, an afterlife."


Before dinner, he stretched, smiled, all his tension gone. Still smiling, he stared into the mirror. His reflection smiled back.

The pressure subsided. The darkness of his apartment grew warm and soft. The tugging eased. The pushing eased. "Soon." He whispered into the darkness. "But maybe, not yet?"

ALt Revision 3 (for Dave L, from the bus)

This is the most recent version of ALt. It is the complete, chapter-ed, text, and it is happily distributed under a CCL.

Here's the ugly URL:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1szY4nGCsvcsxBijQERAQBYLTDHzHFgZhd51Ybz54XJQ/edit

Enjoy!

motion

paraphrasing www.asofterworld.com

You can't get further away than the moment just before you start coming back

conversely

There's a Cuban phrase, a dismissal and condemnation: roughly translated, it is:
I wouldn't even move backward to gain the momentum to pass you faster

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mercedes, 15 Years Later.

Teeth strained against gums in a raw, copper-tasting, mouth. She slid into bed with him while a watery sun rose, and was trapped in their gossamer curtains.
(A spiderweb, glistening)

Mercedes wrapped an arm under, around, his neck as she slid quietly against his back --the crook of her elbow found his jugular, then her other hand found the center of his hips, and stalked past it.

He sighed in his sleep, as she scrapped dirty teeth against his bristled neck.

Mercedes closed her eyes; and opened them before he woke. Her hand slipped from his hips up to his eyes, and she gently pressed her fingers against them. He stirred, but only briefly.

She bite one of his ear lobes, and tooth sawed it raw before she slid off his eyes and out of his bed.

* * *

Mercedes let the breeze sway her on her bare heels. Under a thin cloud blanket, the spring morning was warm and wet. She smiled and pulled on the hood of her red sweater. Her grey leggings matched the clouds: patchy, old, fast moving. Despite piles of refrozen snow, she stood, barefoot, her toes blueish, pink-ish.

"See you later, lover." She whispered, staring at the poorly locked apartment building she'd just left. And with that, she walked away, cat toeing down the sidewalk skipping over cracks in the wet sidewalk, letting the cold fail to push its way into her feet.

Mercedes

Friday, March 7, 2014

Force

Teeth strained against gums in a raw, copper-tasting, mouth. She slid into bed with him while a watery sun rose, and was trapped in their gossamer curtains.
(A spiderweb, glistening)

She wrapped an arm under, around, his neck as she slid quietly against his back --the crook of her sallow elbow found his jugular, then her other hand found the center of his hips, and stalked past it.

He sighed in his sleep, as she scrapped dirty teeth against his bristled neck.

She closed her eyes, and opened them before he woke. Her hand slip from his hips up to his eyes, and she gently pressed her fingers against them. He stirred, but only briefly.

She bite an ear lobe, and tooth sawed it raw before slipping her fingers off his eyes, and out of his bed.

* * *

This woman, Ingrid, because that is this woman's name. Ingrid let the breeze sway her on her bare heels. The spring morning was warm and wet, under the thin cloud blanket. She smiled and pulled on the hood of her red sweater. Her grey leggings matched the clouds: patchy, old, roiling. Despite the piles of refrozen snow, she stood, barefoot, her toes blueish, pink-ish.

"Excuse me" a man behind her said. "Sorry."

"Why are you sorry?" Ingrid asked. She stepped into him, they thumped chests and the man looked away, wet Petoskey stone eyes darting.

"Sorry." He repeated.

Ingrid shifted her hips, shuffle slid her feet and smiled. Their bare toes touched, hot-cold on the damp pavement.

The man startled back with a hop, but his shoulders were relaxed, his head up, neck straight.

They stood a few feet apart, like samurai sizing each other up.

Ingrid said, "Barefoot." and the word pulled her lips into a grin.

"Uh huh." The man said. A grin twitched on his lips like an errant heartbeat.

"Well." Ingrid said.

"Well." The man said, "Good day to you."

"And to you." Ingrid said with teeth like knives, lips like whips.

He passed by her, her head lilting. She sniffed as he passed her. He smelled like a good, clean, tattoo parlor. He smelled like expensive vodka and a tree just struck by lightning.

Ingrid counted to ten before she continued her walk.

Back in her apartment, Ingrid sat, naked but for an overlong, white, a-frame undershirt on a deep red, very worn leather couch. The couch, a shambling thing from the forties, was held together by huge brass rivets and expertly hidden staples.

The wind rattled the window panes and Ingrid stood, wavered, padded quietly over and snapped the hanging blinds shut.

The blinds rattled against the drafty window panes.

Ingrid sighed.

The kettle whistled mournfully, but just for a moment.

* * *

Ingrid's nose cracked, snapped down, the butt of the gun bouncing off her face. Lips like  a drunk clown, she laughed, blood flecking the assailant in front of her. "Really? Me? You? You are going to hit me?" She asked.

Henry knocked two of Ingrid's front teeth out, but it took him a goodly few strikes to do it.

"My dentist both laughs at, and thanks you." Ingrid said with a lisp, through fat lips. "So,

Thursday, March 6, 2014

TTU

I leaned down to kiss her and she brushed her oceanic bangs (fringe, hairline, forehead coverings, whatever) away and looked up at me --just her pupils moved. Her eye brows twitched and this was the moment we shared, her blue eyes and my grey, and then I kissed her exposed forehead.

Staring at the TV she shouted, "Thanks for cooking dinner." while I washed and put away the dishes.

She was pregnant. Our apartment was always warm, up on the third floor. Our balcony overlooked the guest parking lot. Our cats crashed about: into the kitchen, out again.

We sat and held hands for a minute before it got uncomfortable for her wrist, so she said, and then she was tired and it was "late."

We traded goodbyes like pairs of twos and threes. I sat for a moment. I sighed. I stood up and got the laundry, folded it neatly and put it all back into a different basket.

I walked into the bathroom and stared at the mirror. Tired, cloudy eyes stared at me, a half grin poking through my beard. I rubbed my hands together. I decided to go for a walk.

Barefoot, the sidewalk was still warm against the soles of my feet, rough. The boughs of the trees whispered softly back at the breeze, and hands in my pockets, I smiled and whispered, too. Words like string, knit like memory blanket.

I stopped on a street corner and watched a car speed by --tinted windshield, huge rims, booming bass. A bottle dropped and shattered in the middle of the street, the shards sparkling across the concrete.

I crossed the street carefully, heel toe, heel toe. Ahead, under another halogen intersection street lamp two people talked, the smaller had a cigarette.

I quickened my pace, the larger one was too close, yelling indistinctly, slurred. The smaller person shrank away, bumped into the lamppost, and I ran: toes heel, toes heel, toes heel. Ten feet from the couple, I announced my presence with the slap of my feet against the ground as I slowed, soles singing, and

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mercedes

"Mercedes Marie Swanson!" her mother yelled from the bottom of the wrought iron staircase. "You de-electrify this staircase immediately and come down to breakfast or so help me I will dig out my rubber soled shoes and drag you down myself!"

Mercedes rolled over, her pillow clasped against her ears. She stared up at the rain washing down and across one of her five skylights and sighed. Mercedes adjusted her white, cotton, eye patch and pushed the corners of her mouth around, experimentally. She settled on a crooked grin. "Be there in five! I'm jerking it!" Mercedes yelled.

"You're grounded!" Came the instant report.

"I'm already grounded!" Mercedes screamed back. Mercedes rubbed her hands together, then paused. She looked between her computer and the staircase. Mercedes walked to her tatami mat bed, peeled a corner back and pressed one of two green buttons on a thin, glass and aluminium rectangle. She sighed. She rubbed her hands over her cooled lava scalp and down her wrinkled, chicken skin neck. "Another day." She said.

As she was pulling on a pair of sweatpants, her computer and workbench lost power.

"Son of a --" Mercedes said. She stared at the dull screen and the empty eyes of her various, used-to-be- charging devices.

"No swearing! Get down here!" Mrs. Swanson bellowed. "Your melon is getting warm and your pancakes and tea are getting cold! Now Hurry! Up!"

"Mom! I'm cleaning my eye! Please! --" Mercedes's voice cracked and she stopped shouting mid  thought. She gently pulled her eye patch off and put it in her pants pocket. She took a bottle of saline solution and a cotton ball from a small, high shelf. Mercedes sat, cross legged, and dampened a few cotton balls. Like taking off makeup, Mercedes carefully rubbed and dabbed away the sleep-crust and dried blood from around her ruined eye. She stood, fluidly, without using her hands. From a gigantic, baobab-esque coat rack tucked behind the spiral staircase, Mercedes plucked a fresh, olive colored eye patch; put it on; adjusted it.

"Be right there!" Mercedes shouted and hopped and descended

Friday, February 28, 2014

She asked, "Does this look sexual to you?"

Blood smeared lips, bruised eye sockets. Crooked noses.

Wrestling with a shark --may be the title.

She shattered the surface with a Da Vinci arc of crystals and steam from out the hot tub into the verdant night.

She smiled: red and pink teeth and tongue. She dove at him, arms around his neck, split lips smashing into his sutured cheek. 

"I love you." They said.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

L-Tier: The Recycling Awards

Sara frowned at Alex. She asked, "Did your port break?"

Alex frowned and splashed at the water. "Yah." He lied. They stared at each for a moment, before Alex laughed and shouted, "Wanna see who can swim furthest underwater?"

"Yeah!" Sara shouted and splashed at Alex. "I'm gonna beat you, I've got huge lungs!"

Alex stopped himself from laughing and said, "Sure! Let's go! Race you to the wall!"

"And after, we'll fix your port!" Sara said and dove toward the wall. She squealed, then laughed, then gurgled and as Alex grabbed her ankles and pulled her back, propelled himself to the wall.

* * *

"Sir," the M'aitre D said. "Your allotment for the evening. Welcome to the casino."



* * *

The bright white stage always hurt Addie's eyes. She couldn't see the audience, but she knew that every family from L-Tier was there, watching, waiting in anticipation. She smiled so big her cheeks hurt, and she ignored the mumbled insults from the Stein son standing next to her. Her mom had told her: don't stop smiling! So, Addie didn't.

The announcer (an impossibly tall man dressed all in white, with impossibly blonde, impossibly big hair and an impossibly long microphone)  paused in his speech. He checked his six suit pockets, before pantomiming "Ahah!" and pulled a thick black envelope from a rear pocket.

Standing on her right side, Addie's sister Kye snacked Addie's hand. "Cross your damn fingers, or ELSE." Kye hissed, "This is IMPORTANT."

Addie closed her eyes and crossed her fingers. Addie bounced under the lights, her tight pig tails whisking her cheeks. She heard the impossibly loud tear of the impossibly black envelope and then the impossibly tall announcer said, "It's a tie!"

The sighs and boos of the crowd knocked into Addie so hard she grabbed Kye's hand to steady herself against the wash of emotion. She squeezed her eyes tighter closed and felt Kye's hand, sweaty, and squeeze  rhythmically

"Now, now!" The impossibly tall announcer boomed, impossibly loud, audible over the roar of the patrons. "Now, now!" No one listened. The boo's and hisses continued. "Hush!" The impossibly tall announcer shouted, and, impossibly, instantly, there was silence.

"Wish I had a pin," Addie's Brother, Alex, stage whispered. "Ow!" he said.

"Hush." Their mother, Marie, hissed.

The impossibly tall announcer boomed, "And, reclaiming their title as the most recycling family in all of L-Tier this year. . ."

Music, huge bass drums swelled in the theater, Addie felt her chest getting ready to explode. She peaked an eye open and watched the impossibly tall announcer turn and wink at the Stein family. "Oh." Addie thought, "Maybe next year, then."

The announcer boomed, "The Hacksons!"

And then Addie was spinning, fast and giddy on the stage. The roar was like her heart in her ears, when she ran down the side streets to make it to class on time, after a long morning of searching for recyclables. Addie opened her eyes and her brother Alex's gigantic, crooked, grin greeted her.

"We did it!" He shouted. "We did it, we did it, we did it!" They fell over, laughing, dizzy.

"Yes folks! That's right! The Hacksons have taken the title of  Most Recycling Family back from the Steins! After their upset last year, we weren't so sure, were we? But they've pulled together an amazing amount of recycling from their own homes, and from all around the community, marking their --"

The impossibly tall announcer was cut off as Addie's Dad, Michael Hackson, snatched the microphone from his hand. "I'd just like to thank --" He started, but just as quick, the impossibly tall announcer snatched the microphone back.

"Time enough for that!" The impossibly tall announcer strained through a tight smile. "First, thank-you Steins, hopefully we will see you back here next year!"

Three very wide, very short men with very nice tuxedos and with no noticeable necks gently but firmly escorted the Steins from the stage.

"Garbage pickers!" the Stein boy, Gabby, shouted as he was pushed stage right.  He punched ineffectually at his handler. "Garbage Pickers!" His voice was very loud.

Part of the crowd took up the call, booed, and chanted over and over and over and over: Gar! Bage! Pee! Kurrs!"

Addie looked at the rest of her family. Her mom and dad looked back and forth, first at each other then at the crowd. Brittle, toothy smiles sat, crooked on their faces. Her brother Alex was turned away from the audience, hugging their other sister, Molly, who was crying into his shoulder. Her oldest sister, Kye looked at Addie, then her parents, then the audience. She held her hand out to Addie, who took it. Kye strutted to the very edge of the stage, and dragged Addie with her. Kye stared out into the blinding light. Imperiously, she swept the crowd with her gaze, a dramatic frown slapped on her face.

The jeering came mainly from the right side, and that is where Kye's gaze came to rest. She crossed her arms. The the jeering quieted, but Kye's frown only deepened.

The impossibly tall announcer bent and held the microphone to Kye's mouth.

"Well?" She said, "Come on! Gar bage pee kurrs! Gar Bage Pee Kurrs!" Kye rattled her sister's hand and thrust their clasped hands into the air. "Gar bage pee kurrs!" She roared into the microphone.

Sheepishly, Addie smiled into the spotlights. She shouted along, too, "Gar! Bage! Pee! Kurrs!"

There was a moment of confused shuffling, then the whole antechamber thrummed with the chant. Gar Bage! Pee! Kurrs! Gar! Bage! Pee Kurrs! And on, and on.

Even the impossibly loud, impossibly tall announcer couldn't drown the chanting out.

Eventually, it quieted, and the impossibly tall announcer took his impossibly long microphone and into it said, "Well all right then." He took a single step most of the way across the stage and asked, "So, Mr. Hackson, are you going to buy your family any gifts this year?"

"Thank-you Sam. I am, actually, yes. I'm going to buy them the best gift they'll ever get. And thank-you to--"

The last of his words were drowned out by the thunderous screaming and applauses from the audience. And then Mrs. Hackson, normally a very composed young woman, fainted.

* * *

Back in their tiny home, huddled around their ramshackle dinner table, the four children begged and poked and prodded their father about the gifts they were going to get.

No matter how much they poked and prodded and pleaded and praised, Michael kept silent. He sat, grinning. The gleam in his eyes was the only hint anything was different.

Marie asked, "That is the third time in four years we've won a lot of money and not used a drop of it for anything. You're not paying for another of your father's cock-eyed schemes, are you?"

Michael Hackson kissed his wife's cheek. He said, "You'll see tomorrow. I'll be home a bit later, so you'll have to wait, but then you'll see." And that was all he would say.

They sipped their water and finally the excitement wore off. They all hugged and saluted and prepared for the early morning and nodded to each other and hugged again and said the well dones and the children went to bed. The adults stayed up and talked, but Michael  rebuffed from even Marie's most convincing connivings.

"You'll see!" Was all Michael Hackson said.

* * *

The day was interminable. But finally, they had to buzz their father onto their floor. Michael's walk from the elevator seemed to take ages longer than usual, and he fumbled with his keys, unlocking the door.

Finally, the door opened, and in he stumbled, the right side of his face was bloody. Michael Hackson cradled his right arm at a strange angle. Marie gasped and pressed the emergency services button, which pulsed calmly. "I'm fine. I will be fine! You'll see, I've got them!" Michael said.

"Dear! Your arm!" Marie said, stepping from foot to foot.

Addie ran in and tried to hug her father, but he yelped and went pale under the dirt and blood, when she tugged his right arm. The five other Hacksons stood around their father, who leaned his head back and splayed out in his chair. "This is going to be awesome!" he said, triumphantly. Then, Michael Hackson passed out.

* * *

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I want to skip to the good bits.

I want to tell you about the first time I saw Mercedes actually punch a bully in the throat, or about the nightclub incident, where a lot of the stories about us got started, I think. I want to tell you about how we really, really did try to work with the police on the harassment and the whatever else.

I came into high school a privileged minority, I think. I flew a flag I chose and I wasn't outed accidentally or maliciously. I knew what I was dong. Doing. I knew. And I knew how to deal with the consequences of what I was doing, at least at first.

At first, I could handle the consequences. I'm not so sure, any more.

Anyway.

Before all that was day two of school. I was walking between two of the main buildings, one of the longest walks on campus. I strolled. I have long legs.

Second day of school and Ben wasn't in class. The day was almost over and huddled around her books sulked Mercedes, coming toward me, head down.

"Heya." I said. My voice cracked. I waved.

Mercedes didn't look up.

We passed and I stopped. I balled my hands and smiled. I unclenched my hands. A warm breeze pushed sweat I didn't know I had into my eyebrows.

Someone yelled my name and I looked around, but didn't see who'd shouted. I started strolling again and the same someone, a boy, male, anyway. They shouted a rude name at me.

I kept smiling. I slowed my walk and my breathing. The warning tone sounded. I slowed to a saunter. I watched the sea of students wash around me. I focused on my breathing.

A very average boy turned around and his bright green eyes caught me off guard. Our eyes locked and he swallowed thickly, also in that shared moment, I saw his brows crease and a flicker of a scowl mar his mouth.

"Hah." I said, "Gotcha."

The last class.

Here's my fall schedule. It's simple:

  1. Spanish Building 1
  2. Government Building 1
  3. English Building 3
  4. Lunch ---
  5. Math Building 3
  6. Photography Building 1
  7. Earth Science Building 3
I walked to and from school. Most parents didn't let their kids walk, but Mom and Dad were cool with me walking by myself. I've seen some groups of kids walking to, or from, school, but I haven't said hello yet. Anyway.

I didn't need to catch a bus, after sixth hour is the point.

I had plenty of time to lean against a tree and watch for Green-eyes to come out of building three, and to see what bus he got onto. So I did. I watched for him, but didn't see him come out. I waited for the stragglers and the students who stayed after to interrogate or flirt with their teachers, and none of them were Green-eyes.

"Hey." Someone said and I jumped. 

I dropped my back pack and had my hands up before I knew what I was doing.

Mercedes stared at her shoes, boots, actually. She wore heavy looking black boots with sky blue laces. They clashed with her white shorts and loose, bleached-mostly-white black t-shirt. "Sorry I didn't." She looked up, "You said hi earlier, right?"

I frowned. "Aren't you going to miss your bus?" I asked.

"Nah, I walk home." Mercedes said. "Anyway." 

I smiled at that. I said, "Yeah, I saw you walking to building one and said hi, but you didn't hear me or something."

Mercedes said, "Yah, my bad. I thought you were gonna say something rude or something."

We talked for a while, under the shady tree, and eventually said our see-you-laters. Then, we both started walking in the same direction and laughed. 

"Oh! Right!" I said, "Of course you're walking this way." 

Mercedes laughed, watching her feet. "Yeah. Anyway." She said. "Well, uh. . .

It was sunny, and warm and I didn't have too much homework, so I walked Mercedes all the way to her house, or, the block her house was on. We stopped on the corner and smiled at each other.  

"So," I said, "Thanks 

Late May, Early June.

Marie's room was red-lit: a vibrant paper globe dangled from the center of the ceiling, dully lighting the petite space.

Perched against the huge window, Marie cranked with both hands at the stiff mechanism until finally, with a felt creak, the rusty cogs gave in and the window opened as she turned.

Sprawled across her ornate bed, Marie's friend Ita smiled. Ita rolled over and pulled her wild black hair into a ponytail nub; tied it down with a red hairband. "The sky is really green! Are you sure opening it was a good idea?" Ita said, "What if you get wet?"

Marie wiped her slick forehead with the back of her hand. "Too late." she said. Her smile went momentarily sardonic, as she carefully climbed onto the window sill.

The two of them quietly stared out the open window, into the green evening for a while.

The humidity dropped.

Thunder rolled over them; a bolt of lightning shattered the green air and sent sparks flying from a telephone pole across the road. Both girls jumped and, eyes wide, Marie teetered on the window sill; rain pelted her, made the sill slick while the wind whipped at her wrists.

Then, Marie sighed. Her hand wrapped in Ita's, the two toppled, sopping, onto the bed in the middle of the room.

Another cavalcade of thunder and lightning smashed down around the girls.

Ita giggled. Ita said, "I'll close that."

"You want me to get off then?" Marie asked.

Ita's giggle intensified, and only after a moment was she able to nod and agree. "Your rug, though," She said, standing, "Is really soaked."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

All his missed smiles ( δ / ∞ )

He smiled in the darkness as he squinted through the frozen windshield.

He smiled as their coats brushed while he held the door open for him.

He smiled while the waitress desperately dabbed at his dinner date's pants, apologizing while the molting towel left a trail of fur all over Adam's black, wool slacks.

He smiled when Adam couldn't open the bathroom door from the inside, the heavy, simple key having been knocked out and batted under the ornate bathtub by his cat. The cat, having lost its rusty companion, skipped out the window and down the greenhouse roof.

He smiled when he Adam rang his parents doorbell, before they knew he was dating their son, and he smiled when Adam's dad gruffly patted him on the shoulder and said, "Make a straight man out of him, would ya?" Adam's dad frowned, and sat back down in his mahogany and velvet chair. "I meant." Adam's dad said.

"I'll see what I can do." He said.

He smiled in the dark, the first, then every, time Adam fell asleep, head on his thigh while watching  their favorite show. He didn't mind watching episodes twice, not with Adam.

He smiled in the shower, gently pulling the soap off Adam's body.

He smiled in the kitchen, fixing them sandwiches to eat in bed on rainy autumn evenings.

He smiled as he keyed open their bakery.

He smiled as he said, "I'll see you later then." Like he meant it.




All the things a sky can be

Noon was just warm enough to turn the snow slick and bright.

The cold bit hard into our hands and cheeks, as we stepped left-right-right-left and waited to get into the basement concert. She turned to me and said, "I can't believe they're playing such a small venue!"

The sky was the blunt orange of a muddied prison worker.

The sky was the color of a danger klaxon.

The sky was the color of her hair, after the third bleach. The bathroom was mostly porcelain and the tub was weathered wrought iron, gigantic and ornate and bloody-smelling. She smiled at me, her hair in a plastic night cap, and she took my beard in her hands and tried to pull it out, to pull me to her, and we smiled, teeth touching, tongues playing.

The low sky was the color of iodine stains on pale skin, the breaks in the clouds like woven sutures.

The sky was the color of her lipstick in the half light of the stairwell, her breath like the wind as I pushed her hips and shoulders to the wall and our lips together.

The sky was the color of her panties (--thin, strained blacks darkened with secrets).

The sky was the color of the hickies she left on my neck, and the rising sun was the color of my blush when my friends saw me take off my scarf at a bar after church. I am not a dark man.

The sky was the color of the ocean the time we swam out past the breakers in South Carolina. The sky was the color of the Caribbean ocean, before we muddied it, kicking and laughing and falling out of the sun's pressure into the water's crisp zero-g. The sky was the blue dye of her hair, when we were happiest.

The sky was the color of the suit I wore to

The sky was

The sky was the color of the gin bottle we finished on the rooftop of the building where I worked just before The Change.

The sky was the color of old insulation tops and the wind swirled dangerously around our exposed shins, the wet grass white compared to our moist air. The eddies in the air tasseled our hair