Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Telescope

(Seriously, if you are at all offended by perverse sexual depictions, do not read this short story. Or at least skip the section that begins with "Sometimes she would snoop". Now that you've been fairly warned.... enjoy!)


It all started when...

A girl came into my life during the Second Recession, she brought with her two handfuls of heartache and a heavy dose of love. I insisted on examining everything equally, but instead was met with a telescope that could see only into the future. I told her a great deal could be learned by exploring the past, but she couldn't put that telescope down.
     A lifetime is a long time to be unhappy. Between us, we shared sixty years of delusion and the world hasn't stopped spinning even once. Several moments were close encounters, comet fly-bys, but we just blinked as the danger raced by at 20,000 mph.
     "I feel like we're doing that," I said.
     "What?" she asked. I blinked and stared down at her hands, then up at the sky.

***

An average tree can suck several hundred gallons of water in through its roots each day. The root system then delivers this water up through the trunk via the sapwood, and out to all of its branches and leaves.
     If you stood next to it the entire time you'd never know anything was even taking place.
     Trees are mysteriously quiet like that.
     Birds find refuge in their canopies, as do other forms of animals and insects. A tree feeds off life, life feeds off trees. Trees give off life. It's a pretty amazing sequence that often goes unnoticed, and it was decided long ago that trees would be here for a very long time. Fires remove them, they grow right back. Humans remove them, they grow right back.
     We were holding hands while walking along a dirt path through the forest when she stopped and said, "I know we've only been together six months, but I love you, and you say you love me. I don't understand why we just don't move in together."
     I could hear a bird somewhere off behind me, singing a song that sounded a lot like laughter. The sun pierced through the branches illuminating my body in sections. Suddenly, I could feel water being sucked up through my feet, gallons upon gallons of icy cold water rushing up my legs and out through the rest of my body.
     Brain freeze. Stop.
     I felt the pressure building inside my mouth, the water searching for an escape. I felt like I was drowning. This must be what water boarding is all about.
     I glanced up at the nearest tree to us and said, "I think our relationship is a lot like a tree."
     "What do you mean?" she asked.
     "Never mind," I replied as I squeezed her hand and started whistling while we walked on mysteriously quiet.

***

Sometimes she would snoop. Trust was a coin that got flipped early in our relationship: she guessed heads, it landed tails. Ever since then, I was under the impression a snake had been slipped inside my pillowcase. I could hear the long, steady warning rattle of an apprehensive tail shaking faintly while I slept at night.
     I was put on defense before the ball was ever hiked.
     One time my brother texted me a sequence of dirty pictures. The first pic showed a beautiful blonde sitting on a counter top with her legs spread open wide. She was completely naked, smiling at the camera. Second pic: camera moves in closer, a tight shot of her shaved pussy and a finger touching her asshole. Third pic: finger is inserted all the way in asshole, a slimy grey squirmy thing appears in her pussy. Fourth pic: camera even closer, the slimy grey squirmy thing reveals itself to be an eel backing its way out of her vagina. Fifth and final pic: pan out, girl still fingering her asshole, smiling, eel is writhing on the tiled floor beneath her feet.
     "Why do you always do that?" she asked me.
     "Do what?" I replied as I flipped shut my cell phone.
     "Every time you get a text message you always angle your phone in such a way that I can't see it. You're hiding something and it makes me nervous. What don't you want me to see?"
     I looked back down at my phone as it vibrated in my hand and the light on the side flashed green to let me know I had another incoming message. It felt just like a rattlesnake tail against my skin, and the burn of the bite would surely follow.
     Goddamn technology. It can't be trusted.

***

When I was little I met the monster that lurks in a child's imagination. We met face to face. He was handsome and well suited, smelled of chlorine and drove a brown Saab that needed push-started half the time. The wind became heavy, the air thick and harder to breathe.
     Everyone thinks blue is the color God gave to the sky. Everyone thinks the clouds take shape of  fun-loving creatures. It's all a charade.
     My heart is wiggling on the linoleum like an eel. People suck the souls out of other people like thirsty trees. Comets rock a fragile world at an early age.
     Devastation. Unfixable bullshit. Hands held together with tears. These were the things I showed her. This is everyone's past. She gave me love, I gave her sorrow. Her legs were strong and continued walking, deeper and deeper into the wild. Step by step, she disappeared into the forest of my mind.
     "Here, this is for you. I want you to have it, you need it more than I do," were her last words to me as she handed me her telescope. I took it and held it in my hands, examined it for flaws.
     It was perfect in every way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Little Things

I went over to where she had stood and placed my feet in the exact two spots where her feet used to be just moments ago. In an attempt to recreate what life would be like at 4 feet tall, I squatted down in the aisle and peered up at the shelves of food looming before me. I scanned the myriad selection of canned soups and stretched my arms high, but struggled to reach the New England Clam Chowder. Being 4 feet tall would exclude my number one pick from the dinner list, forcing me one shelf lower to where the less desirable soups were kept. Damn, life at this altitude sucks.

I pivoted around while still crouched down low, sort of like a goose waddle, and slid my empty grocery basket toward the opposite shelf. After flipping the basket over, I climbed onto it and was able to reach a jar of bread & butter pickle spears. Score! I climbed back down, erected myself once again, and dropped the jar of pickles into the basket. Upon looking up I noticed a mother and child halfway down the aisle. They were looking directly at me, standing completely still, and as I gathered my basket and started walking toward them, the mother grabbed her daughter's hand and quickly stepped to the side.

"Hi there," I said with a smile as I passed by. My greeting was met with silence and a bewildered look from the mother, while the little girl eyed me curiously from the safety of her mother's hip. I tried to imagine how it appeared as they turned the corner and saw a grown man goose walking in circles, trying to reach for food while crouched on a plastic basket. I can't imagine any excuse that would've eased their curiosity, and the truth (that I was pretending to be the midget who was currently browsing the next aisle over) probably would've been equally alarming.

I left the soup section, turned the corner into the chips and soda aisle, and there she was again. She was walking away from me, her short muscular legs pumping vigorously with each little step. She held her basket by clenching the handle in the crook of her left arm. It was full of groceries and the head of lettuce sitting on top gave the appearance of a baby being carried in a basket. Her orange sleeveless shirt was riding up and I could see the chubbiness of her side undulate as she continued walking. An orange shirt? Why would someone who already attracts stares everywhere she goes be wearing a brightly colored shirt like that? I'd be going dark blue, maybe earth tones, anything but orange.

 She stopped when she got to the flavored pretzel section, hooked a quarter turn, and looked up. She was eyeballing a bag of honey mustard pretzel bites, a fine selection if you asked me. I was standing several feet away from her, staring at her pudgy arms and noticing the way her legs bowed outwards slightly, when suddenly I realized she was no longer looking at the pretzels. She was watching me watch her look at something she couldn't reach, damn. Her feet were so tiny, like babies feet stuffed inside sneakers. Her face was long and thick and her hair was pulled back in a ponytail to reveal a forehead that was shiny and well developed. I pictured her blowing a giant pink bubble with the gum she was chewing and imagined her little fingers pulling the sticky strands off her face after it exploded.

"I'm not gonna get any taller the longer you stare at me," she said, snapping me back to attention. The pink bubblegum disappeared from her face and suddenly I could see her eyes for the first time. They were set low and looked up at me widely, her eyelashes caked in mascara. She kept staring at me, waiting for something. "Well, aren't ya gonna say something?" she asked.

I stood there quietly, not fully understanding the situation. She was very little and her body twitched slightly when she spoke. I wondered if somewhere beneath her blouse was a metal circle attached to a string waiting to be pulled. "How many different phrases did this one know?" I wondered. "What about songs? Does she know any?" I thought to myself. She had turned her attention away from me and back to the pretzels. She set her basket of groceries down and stretched out her arm, massaging it with her other hand. There was a red mark where the handle used to be. She looked back at me and shot me a peculiar look. I wasn't exactly sure if the look was meant for me or for someone else, so I turned and looked over my shoulder. Nobody there.

We were all alone in this part of the grocery store. I turned back towards her just in time to catch a blurred glimpse of her war face as she rushed at me full speed. I thought I heard a hawk screeching seconds before a painful blow was delivered to my groin. Before I could even register what happened, a second blow to the nuts rocked me to my knees. We were now eye to eye, almost. She still had to look up slightly as she spoke, "You fucking weirdo pig! Whose handicapped now, bitch?" She stormed back to her groceries, reached in and pulled out a can of soup, tossed it at the bag of pretzels which fell straight down into her basket. After giving me one final pissed-off glare, she turned and duck-waddled her way down the aisle and disappeared around the bend forever.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Interior Eval. 101

Self evaluation 101: Where am I in this life? What am I doing now, and how has that changed from years prior? In what direction am I headed? What is the state of my mind, body and spirit? Have I learned how to love? Do I want to live and die alone? Am I serious about my writing? Am I an alcoholic? Are corduroy pants ever going to make an official comeback?

Okay let's break it down, one question at a time. I am in Salem, Oregon, situated on the west coast amidst the rain and mountains, snuggled close to an ocean I seldom see. I live in a beautiful area of an enormously magnificent landmass, which I seldom explore. This is where I am physically. Where am I mentally? Rewinding. With every new year tacked onto my existence I find myself going backwards in thought. Why was I born? To what purpose? What am I supposed to do with this life of mine that feels so damaged and bruised? Why can't I remember my childhood? I want to, I really do. I want to remember everything: birthdays, schools, friends, family, tree forts, karate class, parties, bedrooms, girlfriends, SAT tests, college, vacations, neighbors, activities, good times, bad times, etc. All of these things are a fuzzy mess inside my head. Without these memories I feel like I never really lived. I am sad by this.

I am a trash collector, in every sense of the words. For money, I collect garbage and haul it to a dump. For fun, I collect DVD's which take up space in my apartment and my mind. For no reason, I collect broken images of everything I experience and store them in the cracks of my brain, never to be recalled. If I have changed much over the years, it doesn't show very well against my misdemeanor. I am reckless, defiant, unwilling to accept, stubborn, turbulent, cynical, angry, and pained by an invisible enemy. Which means I am headed nowhere worthwhile if I don't reign in my distraught emotions. I can't keep doing this.

My body is an exact representation of my mind and soul. I am out of shape, loosening quickly, becoming weak and vulnerable, weighed down by excess, and very unhealthy. Instead of jogging after work, I choose to drink and think and write and ponder the pointless. I make excuses for why I'm sitting at home instead of playing outside with the rest of the world. Typically they sound like this: not enough hours in a day, what's there to do anyway, my back hurts, it costs too much, I have a lot on my mind, etc. Fuck that shit, man, there is no excuse.

Love. Do I even know what this word means? If love were to leap out and stick to my face like the Alien facehugger, would I even recognize it? Well it has... and I didn't. I witnessed true love bouncing up & down in the driveway, excited at the mere sight of my car pulling in. The unbearable urge to run and hug me and shower me with happiness, completely overwhelming a tiny little heart before I can even switch the ignition to "off". And the desire to drive off a cliff, forever falling into nothingness at the thought of losing the love that is right there in front of me, burning like a forest on fire. She'd rather die than lose it, and I can't even accept it. I am sad by this.

Of course I don't want to die alone, although I am taking giant steps in that direction. I have abandoned everyone in my life, friends and family alike. I don't remember birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, or any special occasions, I seldom answer my phone when it rings and forget to call people back all too often. I distrust love and put miles of pavement between me and it. I've placed myself into an empty gin bottle and screwed tight the lid. Speaking of empty gin bottles...

Am I an alcoholic? I think so. I drink a lot, sometimes to the point of inebriation, although I never let it interfere with the following day. I get lit, I write, I go to bed, I get my sleep, I wake up, I do my job, I go home, I repeat. I believe this is called a "functioning alcoholic", which I suppose is much better than "full blown", but still. I drink too much, I medicate. Where some people use television or food or religion or drugs or shopping or sex, I use alcohol. Right now I am writing this blog fueled by four beers and a bleeding mind. It's just the way it goes for me, I don't know exactly how to change that. But I want to.

I'm pretty sure corduroy pants have seen their end. That's a fashion that won't flip back around in twenty years, I feel. But hey, as much as I like to think I am always right, chances are I've been wrong before and unwilling to admit it. So let's bring back the ribbed pants (for his and her pleasure) and prove me wrong yet again! (you start).

Self evaluation 101: end transmission.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bum

     The rain continued pouring as he walked down the sidewalk towards the shopping center. His cargo shorts and light, cotton zip-up Etnies hoodie didn't provide much protection from the water, but he didn't care. This was Oregon, after-all. He adjusted his camera around his neck and tucked it deeper into his soaked clothing.

     "Shit," he though to himself, wishing he had left it home instead. Earlier, when he left the apartment, it was a perfect evening for a photo walk. And now the temperamental mood of the west coast skies had shifted against his favor.

     It was still nice to be walking, regardless of the weather. He just hoped his desire to burn calories didn't destroy his camera in the process. His journey lead him down the length of Senate Street and across Rosemont Ave. Upon reaching the intersection he noticed a Coca-Cola bottle lying on its side on the pavement against the curb. Stopping momentarily, he gazed at the bottle devoid of contents. He thought about his current situation in life and realized the similarities shared between them, "I am alone like this bottle. I am empty on the inside too, though once I used to be filled. I remember when I had something to offer, and how people loved and wanted me. Yet now I've allowed myself to become discarded, abandoned, and useless. I feel so very unimportant".

      Despite the rain, he pulled his camera out from the wet depths of his clothing, removed the lens cover and snapped a few shots of the bottle in its lonely resting place. He lowered himself to his knees and captured the angle of life lying wasted in the streets. A few leaves, some debris, a plastic cap... slightly blurred in the foreground, the empty cola bottle crisp and clear just behind them against the concrete curb. Satisfied with the shots, he arose and began walking again.

     He thought about the decision he made a year ago to quit writing. The pressure from his girlfriend to "spend more time, to stop drinking so much". He thought about the many times he tried so hard to write sober, and to write only during their scheduled "off-time". He remembered the feelings he hid from her, the internal war that was taking place that he could never explain. There were moments that felt as though pieces of his soul were chipping away like old paint and falling to the ground below. He could see the ugly wood showing through, the exposed nature of his nothingness. No more words written down, no more stories being told, poetry placed on pause in perpetuum.

     He continued walking... past the grocery store, past the Dollar Tree, the pizza shop, and the hair salon. He crossed Edgewater Street in tears and made his way to where the homeless hung out, panhandling their way to each new meal. He stopped just outside of their vicinity. There were five roughly dressed men positioned in a clustered circle, all talking and motioning with their hands at things invisible to most passerby's. A few shopping carts were stationed nearby like sentries filled with war-torn armament, and not a single bum stood at the lighted intersection begging for change.

    He kicked off his sneakers, pulled off his hoodie, removed the camera from his neck and rolled it up inside and set them all down near a tree. From his back pocket he removed a folded cardboard sign and a stack of poetry and short stories he had written and quickly walked past the group of homeless guys. He made his way for the part of the sidewalk opposite their side of the street, and upon reaching the the chosen spot that would expose him to the highest volume of traffic, he unfolded his sign and began this new chapter of his life.

     And as fate would have it, the very first car to be caught by the red light was driven by none other than his girlfriend. And as their faces connected he felt a pang of despair as he watched her eyes move  from his, down to the sign that read: "GIVEN UP ON LIFE, BUT NOT WRITING. WILL TRADE MY WORDS FOR A DOLLAR".