Archive for July, 2012

Serial Installment Part Uno – Hired

July 31, 2012

Everything original and fresh in my process has been shooting out of a typewriter…so here’s some old shit to keep the hooves moving down the trot trail of destiny.

 It started on a rusted bar stool. My cousin Nels had offered to bring me out for a couple rounds and help him send off another fast retreating summer… nothing is ever free though and it became clear to me, by the second inning of the ballgame, that my cost would accrue to sitting in as an audience for his repository of post-collegiate knowledge… why you never prospect an older woman for too long, especially if she hadn’t had a C-section… why you always made a Sunday bar brunch but never hit the same establishment on consecutive weekends….why you always stayed away from ex-cheerleaders and pom-squad dancers if you had a girlfriend at the time… why you never deleted any sexually explicit picture that is texted your way until you had saved and transferred it to an encrypted back up hard drive…to him, hard earned life lessons and nuggets of the truest sort of wisdom… to me, self rationalizations peppered with a healthy dose of bedroom braggadocio… either way I washed down the Singapore Slings and excused myself intermittently to enjoy a cigarette or warm piss and soon enough it was the top of the eighth.

There was only one television streaming the game. The Fiddler’s Hearth was an old worn out neighborhood bit, far enough from all the pseudo-poverty stricken trendsetters and the Porsche driving boyfriend’d cocktail waitresses ricocheting off each other in the city’s center, mad pin balls without the second chance of a replay… far enough to be not be bothered directly, at least, and I very much enjoyed the graying Irish girls that posted as barmaids. They were waxing maternal (far more than my own mother) and served me with a smile and at a discount. It was one of the few cantinas I could stand to drink at more than once or twice a month…I didn’t like to be a regular anything, but if I had to claim a home base, The Hearth would be it. I could’ve staid on that stool politely talking up Martina and Margaret and Mary Ellen and drinking on Nels’ tab well into the next week, speaking sometimes but not really hearing anything…

Nels had propped his collar open wide and out and up but his brow remained furrowed and his cheeks were on fire. There was black Irish… he was red. His education had landed him an economically viable and country-club-circle desirable, 55hr a week rat-race-goose-chase gig with a staffing agency out by the airport. His phone hummed like a nervous old loon cranked up outside a library and he was forced to pick up every call. Calls were time and we all know what time is… he sweated continuously.

The bulk of his Assistant Managing Recruiter responsibilities involved calling and convincing his clients, whom he referred to as “drippings,” to keep attending a job that he had set up for them. The jobs he procured may or may not have been more or less menial labor and mindless office work and his own company may or may not have been just another profiteering conglomerate raking it in off of all the drippings’ misery, but the drippings needed the work nonetheless. Nels pampered and pep talked and ‘go get ‘em tiger’d his drippings all day in the name of low turnover rates and high monthly bonus numbers.

CorpoTech Staffing United, Ltd. loved low turnover rates… my cousin loved his monthly bonus… the drippings loved being coddled… I loved my Singapore Slings…what was not to love?

Between all the digital howling and trembling and constant tremolo Nels confided in me about one of his immigrant clients (not-particularly-fluent women loved to perfume themselves in the American Dream and buy into the pressed, platinum look that Nels shined on), a nice gal in particular who he was trying to get out for drinks and deal close with. “I know she wants it dude, her hips say it loud enough, but if anything goes wrong at this job she could throw me under the bus to try and save her position. It’s like the porno where the chick gives it up to the dude to get a job, that’s where I’m at.”

 He whacked my shoulder and stared smiling, and then stopped abruptly as if Moses’ black angel of death had crept out from the line of beer taps. He put his hand on his chin. “Is that illegal though? This is not my first casting call if you know what I mean.”

He wasn’t the most lustrous shard of sea-glass, but Nels played defensive back all through his grade school and high school and undergraduate years, a wild eye’d cannon man prone to guzzling pints of Whisky and wandering through busy urban intersections, fully equipped with cheetah speed and a hell of a left hook…so I had to set him down easy.

 “I’m not sure you’re quite encapsulating the complexity of your arrangement, but I still refuse to believe anything is illegal if the young lady’s over eighteen and gives a reasonable amount of consent. In English or not… a blowjob’s a blowjob.” I raised a glass and we laughed and I enjoyed his unabashed interpretation of reality’s blanket folding and unfolding around us. At the time my own interpretations had been losing their bite and growing stale…

School had discontinued, for good, four months prior, and I had secured a job, part-time and low paying, but a job, piddling away at myself through eight hour stretches for three days out of the week… re-filing file folders, rearranging cabinet arrangements, re-verifying verification notifications…a whole hell of a lot of piddling. Two hours from each shift was spent button humping a copy machine, reeling off pounds of documentation required by the State to house and care for the kids who lived in the foster community that signed my paychecks (the state, not the kids).

I rarely talked after checking in at the front desk, waving at the secretary Tamika and trying not to come off as red wine hung over as I certainly was. The staff probably thought I was some raving mad white boy, maybe they thought I was strung out, who the hell knows…I only worked part time and never with the kids, so the administrators I knew were up tight social work majors who believed in the cause and the residential staff members I wanted to know thought I was one of the up tight administrators.

After a beer lunch I would dissect the kids’ case histories and I clocked overtime hours paging through counselors’ notes on art therapy and group therapy and play therapy and massage therapy ad infinitum. If I was at all feeling like the world owed me something that day the resentment or pity evaporated from my mind just as soon as I opened up one of the overstuffed “client” binders. Molestation by teachers, rape by uncles, maternal abandonment, paternal abuse, neglect, degradation, torture … all done before the ripe old age of fifteen…hyperactivity, attention deficits, hallucinations, depression, schizophrenia, mood disorders, fights at school…the inability to trust.

I saw them (aka the clients) in the hallways and scrambling to lunch and selling lemonade outside the brick building raising money for amusement park trips; the administrators who got bored would sometimes walk down to my office and relay stories to me about the clients picking fights with the residential staff members and the vulgar comments they would make and various depths of insanity that seemed to be occurring all the time within these brick walls. I rarely listened, however, and relished in my oblivion. I never put a human face to one of those black cased binders and kept ample space between myself and the clients because that would’ve made things a little too real.

You always need a little space when examining the harsher truths of life.

The kids seemed fine to me though. I could appreciate the underdog’d and hopeless bastards; it was the unending demand for paper copies and facsimile print outs and fresh ink cartridges that was burying me deep into stupor, sick and twisted and covered in black like a drunken gopher.

I had tried for months before graduation to line up a gig in manual labor. I should have been pulling up the driveway each evening with color and new muscles and a pocket full of dough equivalent to what I was pulling in now. To boot I’d be able to smoke on the job… but I couldn’t find a damn thing in the Help Wanted sections and all my family connections were restricted to lifetime union gigs and tradesmen apprentice commitments, neither of which I was about to sign up for. Every subcontractor and general contractor and Joe Handyman seemed to be out of business and down on their luck and hardly in position to hire a worthless general laborer such as myself.

The only other viable opportunity was a minimum wage landscaping gig I found drinking red wine on a Sunday afternoon betting horses that were galloping a thousand miles away. I tore up the newspaper advertisement and opted out of another summer mumbling broken Spanish and eating hot sauce drenched Doritos out of a truck bed and wishing I hadn’t drank a case of beer on my way down to the south side the night before. I was getting too old for that sort of gastric assault…plus I’d probably kill one of those bastardos nowadays if they called me ‘blanco.’ I wasn’t fucking 17 anymore….

Nels looked around the bar again for a set of older women but saw nothing worth getting off the bar top. “So how much are you depositing a week Mac?” Once high school athletics are in the off season a man’s annual income seems to become the only stat people put any stock into. Two simple digits. Three if you were lucky… four and you were the enemy, without doubt…to me it seemed about as relevant as when you took your last shit but it was a necessary ego inflating conversation piece that’d stab you at any good dinner party…

I thought the pressing question should have been, “How much a week are you spending Mac? And on what?” That inquiry rendered a hell of a lot more information about an individual, and room for gossip…the incidental costs…California import sativa crystals, crates of Cutty Sark and diet ginger ale, end of the bed no condom motel room rompings, Fall Season sales on heels and pleats and low rise and denim denim denim, celebrity magazines and movies and insider scoops, NFL Monday Night underdog moneylines struggling to find even ground, Czechoslovakian bondage equipment, model airplanes and antique wicker furniture collections…the omega point of Western culture.

I locked eyes on my cocktail.”I mean with the hours, something like $250. It ain’t much but my loans haven’t kicked into full interest yet and I have only a little credit card debt left, so as long as the dope stays relatively inexpensive around here and my car insurance down…” I took another swig from the ruby elixir and pinched one of the pineapples from off the rim. I had set the two umbrellas next down on a napkin and I re-set my semi-drunken gaze over the lip of the cup and onto the backside of a waitress who had dropped a silverware napkin behind the bar.

“Yeah, but you need more than that. You’ll be stuck in that room of yours forever in your Ma’s house. Stuck. How are you ever gonna get any good pussy up in that room? You’re like a cloistered monk.” He was laughing. No one got more pussy than Nels.

 “No shit constable, but let’s face, it I’m running on fumes just finishing school, thank god my body made it. And my wallet…shit I barely have enough cash to maintain, for now… and having to work only three of seven days has made for a damn relaxing summer, so I don’t know. For now I try not to think about the money too much. We got our whole lives to run around and suffocate in shopping malls…eventually our hearts will explode over all that fucking nonsense anyways, so what’s the point?” I took another sip and felt convinced by my previous statement then I thought about the loans and the dinner table and the hearts of men and women who had gone before me and quickly took another sip, longer and with my eyes closed. “I don’t know anything man.”

Nels straightened up.”I know this, baby: the money is all you should be thinking about. It runs the world! You’ve got to step up your game old sport. If I see any leads come across my desk I’ll set up an interview for you. That way you can make more money, I can make more money, and we can both keep banging before anyone goes into cardiac arrest.” His simplicity was algebraic and long legged divorcee enticing so I let out a good laugh and was beginning to quickly see, again, that none of this mattered. “Seriously, these resumes that pour out onto my desk, these people out there are cretins man. You’re qualified, college educated from an Ivy League practically, and you’re family. You know how to do work like I know how to do work.”

We might as well have been smashing helmets on the gridiron.

 “Alright, do what you want. I suppose you can’t pick up the drink tabs forever.” I was still staring into the glass and finished off the foamy remains and bit off another wedge of juicy tropicalia not really considering what I had just agreed to. I was playing out my own death in my head… excited and youthful love with my tender sylph, me a dirty old man, dying instantly after climax, falling unctuous and wrinkled and soft into the arms of eternity…

He called for a round of tequila. “I can tonight though bud, and that’s the best part of the game. Lets go talk to that mother daughter pair that just walked in. You look like hell you take the seniority.”At least we both still had our dreams…

The game went to extras but one of the regulars called for the local news and that was that. Nels shook my hand and rattled off some more about his weekend plans and told me he’d be getting back to me soon…within eight hours he had matched my resume with a lead that could substantially boost my annual income …so I bought a suit jacket and rolled through the first round of interview questions… I bought a new pair of socks for the second post-pre-screening screening… within a week I had received a phone call back congratulating me for having been selected from the large pool of candidates and here are the details for work which starts next Friday at 8AM sharp…

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Birdman Up in His Trees

July 25, 2012

“I want you to be happy, but we need to be financially stable. I need you to start thinking about a career. Look at Tom, he’s already…”

The noise stopped. I clicked the end of a cigarette and flipped a wave of smoke across the room, an amorphous hammer-head set on a Sherman inspired death march. The last bits dripped across a small space between our eyes and she waved her left hand back and forth across her face. “…is there anything you want to say, to help me understand where we’re at?”

“I don’t know Rachel, I have a job and I work and that’s what we’re all supposed to do. I don’t know what else you want me to say. I show up in the morning and stay until they ask me to at the end of the day, and then at the end of two weeks they pay me for it. That’s my only attachment to it, I can’t let it bother me anymore.” I sent the expended tobacco into an ashtray on the black cork coffee table and brought the filter back to my lips. She sat up from my next to me and moved across the room to the other couch.

“Stop smoking for a minute and listen to me. I want you to be happy. I know it’s good you’re making money, but I see all these kids in my classes that you are so much smarter than, and I feel like you’re just wasting your talent in that office. I only want what’s best for you.”

I stopped myself from opening another pack and thought out loud. “What’s best for me or what’s best for you, what’s best for the rest of the working world, for this consumer society at large?” I had been drinking red wine before she got home.

She leaned herself back against her shoulder blades, angelic half circles, blossoming from her tank top and against the  end of the loveseat. The smoke had settled into the carpet fibers of the studio apartment. “You don’t care about what’s best for us? Forget about society and this bullshit artist role you try to play, this mindset of not giving into the demands of society. If you want to live your life like that then you need to let me know, because I need a partner who is stable emotionally and financially, within this society.”

Living as a sucessful 20-somethinger had become clearer and clearer to me… it wasn’t a refutation or an abandonment of dreams…those had become worm food since teenage years… now it was an acceptance of the whirling dollar dervish as the control mechanism for everything except the movements of the birds. Her eyes fluttered back and forth, beautiful and evil within the same blinks.

“I really don’t know what to say, honestly. I want to be with you, I love you, and I’ll work my way through whatever we need, but I can’t sit here and talk about a career with you. I really can’t. It doesn’t register for me.” My face began cultivating beads of sweat and my eyes closed exhausted. Summer cobwebs fell heavy with heat and humidity, me with my red wine.

I wanted to fly.

Hopeless young, and old – Friday’s 500

July 20, 2012

“You see Harrington,” Botchkin clears his throat, “the difference nowadays is that the oppressors (he extends his wrinkled index fingers like a prinking gymnast and moves them together to simulate a set of shotgun barrels, crosshair’d on Harrington), these little faux plastic cubicle walls, those emails in your Outlook, the inflated tax bracket for your overtime hours… the oppressors are invisible and unidentifiable and are chipping away at your mind (the gun goes down and he knock knock’s on his own frontal cortex). Throughout history, the overlords used to only be able to enslave the body… that’s all they had because the dream was too big, the mind of man was too mystical, the gods to everpresent. But now, now the sun has been fragmented into a thousand parts, and out of those parts, for whatever reason, very few of them are able to see through the blur of their own rays. It’s much more dangerous now because once Big Brother erases the great vision, blanks out the dream, it doesn’t matter what they do to the body. They used to send us into salt mines… now they have us mine for data.” The old man slings his coat over the multi-levered maxi-adjustable chair and seats himself down, removing a pair of worn black gloves. “Don’t stop digging Harrington, but don’t let them take your mind.” Botchkin keeps his back to the boy but continues. “Look over there, the first woman, filing her nails at the corner of Alligator Alley (the rows and rows of cubicles had to be delineated in some manner, and since the corporate meeting rooms each had a multi sequence’d alpha numerical pattern, the CEO at the time, being a naturalist when outdoors and an impotent lover while inside of them, determined it best, along with the help of six HR Analysts with a $5,000 budget, that animal alliteration would be best for office morale). Either she’s filing or looking at the phone dashboard for her reflection, but take a good look at her. Genevieve Pinsky. Now you know how to spot the people who no longer posses their own volition. You know what volition means Harrington?” The boy seizes up in his chair and thinks to talk but moves his fingers to type instead. “Of course you know what volition is. They said you’re a state graduate, smart kid, engineering. That’s all I know about you, I don’t presume to know anything more, at least until I get to know you, but I’ll assume you’ve still in possession of your mind until you start spreading nail polish and checking your hair in your computer monitors.” Botchkin laughs and Harrington continues typing. Then the young man glances over the stunted wall.

“Hey, that sounds great and all, but, uhh, do you mind if I put my headphones on. I have a lot I need to get done this afternoon.” It is Harrington’s second day, and Botchkin’s twelfth year. Botchkin offers no response and begins attending to the needs of his own keyboard, pit patting away, back from another lunch ending another conversation with another green tyro who was sure to end up face down in the gutter of Penguin Parkway.

Another casualty in the war.

CONTINUING ON WITH THE PLEDGE (another 500 words of wisdom)

July 19, 2012

Wednesday night in church. Here we are, me and him…all because of drunken promises to my mother the night before. Two bottles of red and here I was, and here he was.

“It is great to be here tonight. I was going to give you a brief rundown of my speech, but I figured I could just start from the beginning.”

The lanky teenager stood up on his tippy toes.

“To introduce myself… I’m J.P. Klein. I attended St. Thecla for grammar school and now I am at Prairie South for highschool. When I was a student here I didn’t even know what an abortion and contraceptives were… once I got to freshman year, that was when I really became pro-life. I saw a girl walking around the hallways, her stomach was big and I could tell she was having a baby, and I thought to myself, this girl has real courage. It was hard to do what she was doing, but it was another baby saved. I would say that in that particular moment, that instance I saw Christ and came to the side of pro-life.

A year later, I had a friend get pregnant, and seeing her experience from sophomore to senior year, well let me say my faith was reaffirmed. She was fifteen years old when she decided to have an abortion, and what I have seen her go through since then, now that we’re both seventeen, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. She still drives to the abortion clinic on the anniversary of her child’s death, every year, and gets on her hands and knees and asks God for forgiveness.

The drugs kids my age take, the alcohol, the temptations, they don’t know what they’re doing to themselves, let alone a future person, one of their kids or grandkids.

I recently started texting members of our youth group in order to remind them to meet on Saturdays, and just last week a couple of the kids in the group and around the group confronted me… they asked if I was a Jesus freak or some kind of ‘narc,’ which means a narcotics officer. And you know what, I said yes to all. I just want to follow in Jesus’ footprints, and I want the people I am with to do the same.

Hopefully I will be in a position to pursue a political science degree in college and become a politician, a voice for those without a voice. I want to help others understand all that I have learned about life and Christ, and to continue to keep people protected. How can we be Christians if we hate? That is my next question. The elderly, the homeless, especially the unborn, and the teenagers and parents and kids, we need to respect and love everyone.

Thank you, are there any questions?”

The parishioners on sight clapped and clapped and my mother clapped and I could tell she could tell I thought most of what he had said, no, all of what he had said, was completed bullshit… she tried to dribble something quietly into my ear but I now I had to clap and clap so as to avoid a side conversation about sex. My sister had been slotted as the next speaker during the TUESDAY YOUTH SERMON SERIES, so I kept clapping.

There were questions for JP: an old woman wondered with all her heart how he had been born with such a passion, such a vigor in his faith… he smiled and responded with a quip about not having very many friends in Middle School so he prayed a lot, and what a defining moment in his life it had been when he saw the pregnant girl in the hallway, his personal smidgen of revelation… a call to God at thirteen. Another question poked up about his favorite gospel… then, his favorite saint.

I stopped listening and remembered second grade, right before First Communion, right before my Uncle Bob had died without any warning…  a seven year old… the adults and aunts and uncles who knew what cancer and radiation and 10% chance of living meant… but not me… it didn’t matter to anymore though. I hated First Communion and God and was done with everything else that happened in this basement chapel, this very basement chapel, at 7.

And there above the altar hung a banner and, as the pregnant parade of truth walked off and my sister walked on, I read the banner… It is these people who will inherit my kingdom

I laughed.

ROADTRIPRIPAROO

July 18, 2012

“Turn on your smart phone and figure out somewhere for us to buy beer.”

“I’m trying but I can’t get a signal.” She squinted into the screen and silhouetted her lips against the window from my driver’s seat position, the bird peckers curling upwards in the dark, unattractive caterpillars of flesh decorated in burgundy gloss. Unattractive. Tennessee had been a bender, far and wet and only getting hotter…I had taken enough of the stories about daddy’s CEO ventures and her brother’s sure-thing-pop-star career, drips and drips and drips…my patience had evaporated with the electrolytes.

I wiped my hand across my forehead. “What’s the point of paying five hundred dollars a month for that thing to piss out on you? I say we pull over at the next town, go to a gas station, and find out where the attendant buys his suds. Or where he brews them… fuck that screen of yours.” The whiskey from Louisville still bit my tongue after my teeth did and the sting stung but there were issues at hand. Pressing, important matters.

“There’s no service out here, sorry. And by the way I don’t pay five hundred for…”

“Of course you don’t pay for it you miserable fucking cunt, your old man does!” Long range targets and oak barrels and clips of ammunition flooded my mind, sweat continuing its exodus down my face. “Next time you talk is going to be when you offer us directions to where we can find cold beer!”

The other three sat in silence. It had been seven hours since we had left urbanization… months since I had stood near sanity. Glenn remained steady in the passenger seat… an ideal shotgun, undeterred, uninterested in conversation and hoping only for some kind of filtered draft to come his way as soon as was agreeable… rolling and rolling along, far from the cover-charges and festering sidewalks of suits and highway-drive-by-advertise-here-advertisements. SteveO focused on his line of cocaine across the plastic-panel’d-side-pocket of the backseat, laid across a CD case, straight enough, with Donut watching everything intently and doggedly panting and silently laughing towards Sharon.

She was upset now, pretending to look at the screen, deperately trying to summon a pithy supply of courage to say something back, to the ‘cunt’ phrase, but there was nothing. There was no hope for any of us. No beer, hardly any gas, a strange girl in the car who we couldn’t use for sex or drugs or even cell phone capabilities… everything was hot and sticking and stretching conscious patience.

“Okay, I think I have something,” her cadence had shifted from field-mouse squeaking to Cassanovan braggadocio and I laughed with the deep gulp that accompanied the back end of her sentence. “Yeah, I do, we should be coming around a Wal-Mart in about sixty miles, and it’s supposed to be open all night, according to the website.”

“Call and make sure.” The price of technology… the enslavement of pixilation. I pulled my shorts off the bottom of the leather seat and dragged the window down a little further and lit another cigarette. “Make sure they have Budweiser heavy and plenty of Marlboro 72’s. Or else.” I laughed and so did Donut.

Inhalations and head shakes and eye rubbing from the back seat, SteveO beamed up at me in the rear view window. “Hey driver, you want a rail to get you through this last end of Chatanooga?”

“Hell yes.”

RIVER SONG (aka another 500 words for you)

July 16, 2012

“I’m just gonna keep fishing and see what happens.”

 The water whirled and then sat still after a casting line hit the calm of the pool.

“I mean, are you sure? That’s all you need to say right now? I mean I ain’t the most emotional cat in the alley, more of a bastard really than anything else, but we haven’t talked at all about it, and honestly if you need anything…”

“Ted, I’m just gonna keep fishing,” Jack cracked open a frothing beer and flipped his hand at the mosquitoes dancing above the rim of the can. They barely seemed to move, suspended mermaids slow-motion-dancing in thick seaweed gardens… the humidity weighed on each layer of life along the river. He sat up with a swig and looked around the pool. Ethereal, all the creatures of the bog sweating and singing themselves awake with dusk’s rusty entrance just creaking through the door of the horizon, and soothing. Clouds in between.

“Hell then,” Ted cracked one of his own cans and set the throttle against the shredded seat back of the boat, “let’s get some goddamn fish!” If it wasn’t a moment to be somber, then it was time to fish the only way he knew how.

Jack smiled. He was glad to see Ted was happy. Things were off putting enough for Jack, and whenever Ted’s constitution was sour the whole scenery seemed to dim even darker. Ted was a simple man, and Jack loved him for his keen ability to discern between good and evil, even envying him sometimes for the contrast that seemed to cut through Ted’s life and not his own.

Ted raised his aluminum cylinder, perspiring with the rest of creation but still a few degrees below lukewarm, and looked at his friend in the eyes. “To Mrs. Almandine, an incredible woman on earth, surely an even more incredible angel in the heavens.” Jack could tell Ted had built himself up into the statement, undoing tangled lines and cutting worm gut’d hooks for a couple minutes until they got out of the wetlands and onto the river. A river is a good place for a man to empty his heart, the boat rocks and the crests fall and the motor purrs the clouds through the wind… constant kinetic motion, nothing really wading around for that long to be examined and scrutinized and recorded, out like an emergency flare’s tail, streaking and streaking and then done with.

Jack shared his eyes and let out a hearty “Amen” and the two glugged and glugged, one crackle after another, two juiced grapefruits, and they tossed the scrap metal back into the cooler with another set of half-cold beers replacing them almost automatically. The nature of the river.

“You believe in angels Ted? Not that I don’t think you do, but sometimes in these kind of situations, people are going to lie in order to make you feel better. You know what I mean? Like the preacher… the damn preacher, I can’t get away from him fast enough when he goes into that God’s plan nonsense. I don’t mean to blaspheme or anything, but you know what I’m saying?” Another pair of glugs fell into the sonosphere of the curving river and Ted killed the engine. “They just lie to you.”

“Jack, I can’t even imagine what’s in your head right now, like I said before with the fishing and letting me know if you need anything and all of that… but you gotta know that I ain’t ever gonna bullshit you because I feel sorry for you. I love you like a brother, and all I can do is be your friend and be myself. You bet your ass I believe in angels, and you bet your ass that your momma is one of them.”

Jack smiled.

Death and America and random asides…I wish there were only 500 words between me and the machine

July 12, 2012

The drive down I-80 hit like a fastball slipping up and in. I was too slow and it hit hard. Nothing but tall grass and drought-stunted corn stalks and farmers with python knuckles crackling through open roads in rust’d flat beds.

I unearthed the last of the Budweisers from under the duck-tape re-upholster’d seat and sent an empty predecessor out the window… following the cylinder with my third eye, up and out and there rests a half-drunk moon… armies of evil chasing knights of truth across the sub-lunar plains… hands away from the clutch and sending that first gulp, that perfect gulp, down my throat and into my hindbrain, praying the monkey stays shut down.

Cold cold cold.

Exit 137, maybe 173 (it had been a long week of speed and loose pussy and fuck else if I remember) and I peeled off the dragon of asphalt and settled into a parking lot for a magazine-cover diner, front page out of Sears’ Christmas Edition for the Midwest. Stainless steel panel’d exteriors, red-checkered drapes covering cut-out windows, burnt grease and diesel, the menu covers charred as well… I walked in and sat down and looked for a newspaper.

Six days on the road… I was ordering cheeseburgers and draft beers and reeling it all in like Doc on the hunt for octopi. The waitress was a fine piece of short-ciliated-blonde-hair’d ass and met my eyes early and hard…everything slamming into me. Hips, eyelashes, ruby red lipstick and matching nails…I thought about her toes, hiding beneath her white Keds…did they match up as well? I wanted to know.

“How’s everything treating you honey?”

“Couldn’t be better with you taking care of me, thank you so much. Can I get one more beer on top of this ice cream and apple crisp, I know I’m going to sleep in my car for a little while. And a slice of cheese if you don’t mind, goes great on a pie crust.” This was her entry point.

“Where you coming from? And cheese on the pie?” She purred up right next to the table, a pre-smile to her smile…not grossed out by the cheese…her thighs were shaven and silky and forbidden but within my arm’s reach.

“Absolutely cheese on the pie, please. Headed South, coming home from Chicago… for a little bit. How long have you been hustling around here?”

Deflection deflection deflection.

She smiled and shimmied, right thigh over left, insatiable and not even naked yet. “That’s a good question, but I’ve been here long enough to know not to answer those kinds of questions on a Saturday night, especially from city boys.” She paused and we smiled and she accepted me for a friend, of some kind. “I’m only twenty… been rafting down the river from Shelbyville my whole life, but I’ve been working here since I was fifteen. Family still makes a living on their cabins on the lake shore. My dad, mainly… been trying to get out since I started, to be honest, but it’s alright. I moved out and am in nursing school now.”

“Boyfriend?”

“Ex-husband.”

She blinked and blinked and I saw her pain ridden eyes with my own, bloodshot and scattered, and we met for an infinitely small second and then it evaporated. She meant it all, every nuance and lip tense and timid pause, but you would never be able to tell with of her motion picture beauty and the speed of time.

I had to alleviate. “Well, all in all sounds like you’re a lucky girl. I wish I had some beachfront property… all I see is rich people in cars and FaceBook followers. I don’t get any of it.”

“I mean there’s obviously nothing wrong with FaceBook... and there ain’t no beachfront on our lake.” Legs uncrossed and re-crossed across away, tan and smooth… the tab is torn off of the paper pad and she faded away before she left me to my cheese-less pie.

Back in the HighLife

July 11, 2012

Readership,

My regards, best and brightest, to the faces of your beautiful bodies. The summer is here and the time is now and I smile at you with hope. Not from green fields or well-till’d pastures, but hope from a holy devil fuck raucus that has browned and boiled me over the past month… the kind of hope you earn. The kind of hope you need to beat back the demons on the path.

There is hope for all of us, and it is in the fight, the holy battle of our ancestors that carries over to this day (void of al Qaieda and 9/11 associations) and for the rest of our days… this is the beauty of the eternal battle for good. I hope we can end up in the same time zone, similar souls, neighbors in the fields, but if not then we will still be together. Not because everything is one or some monochromatic nonsense, but because we can choose to be. The power of mind… the power of you… the power of me… the power of us.

Believe and beware…I will be dropping 500 word stories from my omnibus all throughout this summer, for the eyes and ears and heart of hearts, even though most have been stolen away and worn down like a forgotten slab of jerky in some abandoned Nebraska gas-station…there are still those who fight. This first one is for Jimmy Lee. RIP my brother.

Forthrightness and Godspeed,

H.D.

Jay walked through the bar’s side door after skidding through the fogg’d out alleyway, pushing along the backstage stalls and the resin-tarr’d dance floor, glitter caught between concrete dents in the set list plaster’d walls and stray beams reeking from a single bulb in the back of the venue next to coat check… he stumbled between the howling and the sweat and handed his empty beer to a young lady perched in line for the bathroom, cut black jeans and faded blue hair, firm, so he rubbed her cheek. And laughed.

Before she could unclench her hands and send glass chards into his throat Jay trickled past a group of sound checkers and slammed a rusted, poster splattered door in his wake.

Klyph knew it was best not to endorse, or dismiss, any of Jay’s tangential ideas for how to work the set list. Variations, tedious debate, and jet-fueling lines of cocaine… Milwaukee had been enough. After Chicago it was all over. He knew it. Klyph was happy.

Jay stammered in. “Fuckers out there man, this place is madness. Do you have a beer?” Only a couple inches of couch dammed themselves between the two, Jay twirling, unimpressed with his global position, and setting down for some palavering while Klyph read through the end of a newspaper Sports Section. “How long have you been here man?”

Spiders ate flies and memorized enemy faces in the corners of a cigarette smoke drenched alcove. Cobwebs and guts. “We got here at six, like we said last night. Ralph and I set up… we’re supposed to set up, we couldn’t get you out of the hotel.” Klyph thought to lecture, but receded. A man will be a man. ” I think there’s beer behind that couch… I don’t understand how the fuck you can drink right now.”

Joint smoke and resentments tranquilized… explanations for 6AM phone calls and more joint smoke and cigarette tar and smiles and laughter and exploding in is Tom and Stacy. The beer remained behind the couch.

“Jesus, I thought me and Stace were dead out there. I’m just glad you sons of bitches remembered to get my name on a door list.”

Stacy hunkered in the strength of Tom’s shoulder, scared and disinterested. Jay laughed at her, blinking between glances, hidden at the other end of the couch, not offering a hand through the group’s necessary exchanges. The smoke died back into the cracks of the walls and nothing was left to say.

“Tom, uhh… sorry I didn’t catch your name?”

“Stacy.”

“Stacy. It is a pleasure. I hope you enjoy the show, but…”

“Fuck off Jay. We need to practice. Klyph tell this sonofabitch…”

Jay stood up. “Do either of you have a beer, or any doses, any speed? Anything, uhh, uplifting?”

They all stood together in the doorway.

Tom had crossed the dividing line that Klyph stood over. “Jay I can’t even believe…”

“Well, fuck off then. Both of you.” Jay didn’t even look over to acknowledge his victims.

That was it for Tom and Stacy. Door shuts. Keyboardist… done. That’s how it’ll be for everyone in the end. Only the glitter sticks.

Klyph continued inhaling. “Pretty fucking rough man. We’ve known him for ten years. Dude is not a bad guy.” The spiders went on and about with their front legs and their hind legs and felt nothing but their souls on fire in the light where a room ends and an outside begins. Memorizing the faces…

“Ahh, fuck it. They didn’t have any beers.” Jay reached behind the couch and a crack echo’d. Tremolos and gulps and, “Well, what the fuck are we going to play?”