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