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She knew she would never see him again; dark nights, dark thoughts, dark memories. She loved his bloodless eyes shining on her, his cool hands, breath on her, his hard, taut, lean, smooth body next to her, sleeping. She never expected to feel for the vampire the way she did. Yet she couldn’t help being slightly disappointed. Her immortal left her without a word, a touch. She knew he loved her beauty and her fading beauty. Vampire didn’t want to disrupt her aging, that’s where her beauty lies, where he loved her most. Her neck would remain unbitten, she unloved.
Mark clutched the razor in his hand, piercing flesh, drawing blood. He stared into his reflection, failure staring back into his face red, weary, and twisted. Life has been too hard he thought, too empty, too exhausting, he felt battered, drawn. With his failed marriage, ruined career, dependant whiskey, he desired nothing. Once there was a feeling, a need, a pull, now there was nothing, he was nothing. That all changes now he thought, tightened his grip, felt alive, clear headed, dug the razor into flesh, and blood flowing. The clinic opened in thirty minutes, the job fair this afternoon.
Maria. Entitled. So she thought. Arrogance, assurance, audacity, boldness, brashness, brazen, disrespect, gall, impertinence, impudence, incivility, insolence, nerve, rudeness, shameless. She moved through her days with apathy, contempt, disdain, disinterest, heedlessness, indifference, insouciance, neglect, scorn, slight, and unconcern for those around her. The abuse she inflicted upon everyone gave her no concern. Maria, unaware, didn’t notice how people reacted. They were beneath her. She was above reproach. So she thought. Maria, so thoughtless, believed the world owed her. She expected her due, accustomed to getting her way. Indulgent, gluttonous, hedonistic, libertine, egoistical, narcissistic, pompous, self-absorbed, self-centered. Maria. My sweet Maria.
I took in the pale light. I felt deadened, heavy. Beneath me the couch trembled. No, I trembled. Moments of recollection drowned out the morning and I remembered. I shut my eyes and wanted nothing more than to take back every bad thing I had ever done. My hair, skin, clothing reeked of regret. I called out for the tequila, noticed the bottle lying empty on the carpet and shame flooded me, leaking from my face. I silently called him; cursed him. Fell into a troubled sleep, dreamt in white and black. Somewhere in the day I awoke. I’m innocent.
She watched her darling daughter eating, daring for her to notice. She didn’t. Neither spoke as they went through dinner, finished the dishes, and dissected the evening. One thought of her failures, her inabilities; the other thought of boys, dark skinned boys with wicked mouths and lithe bodies and suggestions. She turned on the TV, news reports, ads, sitcoms to lessen the void between her and her daughter. She picked up the photograph of the two of them smiling, laughing, golden. When did things get so unpredictable? Upstairs she prepared to sneak out, wild into the night with the boys.
She snapped about how much work she was doing, how no-one else was doing anything to help her, why I wasn’t doing the work, she had her own to do. She classifies work as looking up hairstyles online, searching for interior decorating tips, creating greeting cards, doing her delinquent children’s homework, and finding the perfect patio furniture. I watch her with complete disgust, the respect languishes around -10 on a good day. There is none to give. I consider her a pile of crap on the sidewalk of life. Even that is too good for her, the piece of shit.
My head was in my hands when I found out.
There’s nothing I can do about you.
I’d cut out my heart and hold it out.
If this isn’t love I have no doubt.
I’d tear myself to pieces if it would relieve me.
do anything to get you to believe me.
Do anything so you’d never leave me.
I can have you, I can hold you.
My head was in my hands when I found out.
There’s nothing I can do about you.
I’d tear myself to pieces.
Kick and I scratch and I cry out to Jesus.
I think of John often. I only have his name and the memory of seeing his naked body. I was in junior high school, scrawny and awkward. He was solid, tall, and hairy. The difference between us polarizing. He was my friend, always kind and considerate to me, helpful, and protective. My recollection is faulty, I fill in blanks to remember him specifically. I wish I could remember more about him than just him changing in the locker room. For whatever reason, I feel drawn to John, feel he was a good friend, wish I stayed in touch with him.
The grapes lay at my feet, having fallen off the vines. The wind calmed my irritation, though it caused my ire to begin with. I painstakingly began placing the damaged fruit into the wooden crate. The efforts futile; the fruit beyond repair. That afternoon straight-line winds tore the vineyard apart. Most of the plants ready for harvest, bloating with fruit. Now there were sticks. Plants twisted, mangled, ruined. I imagined the fields full, brimming as I pushed my way through. I noticed one plant hiding, uninjured, covered with grapes. I fell to my knees, cried out and began to eat.
Nick smoked the last cigarette from the pack slowly, enjoying the burn in his throat and the sting in his lungs. He crumbled up the empty pack and tossed it onto the rock strewn walkway along the lake. Yesterday he bought the pack with a promise to quit after this one. Today he promises it will be tomorrow. As he trudged along, he thought about his diagnosis and the debilitating treatments that will begin next the next week. “I’m only 19” he lamented. His thoughts caused him distraction, he stumbled and fell. “Oh how I wish I had a smoke.”
She regrets her words immediately, as soon as she hurled them. He takes her words without reaction. She tries to follow the insult with a joke, it falls between them like a bowling ball hurled down an alley towards 10 unsuspecting pins. He blinks, nervously swallows to remoisten his dry throat. Words lodge there. They remain unspoken. He blinks, turns away from her. She tries to call out, tries to apologize. She stops, lets him walk away. One last thought occurs to him as he leaves, I love this woman, how can she be so cruel, so harsh, so uncaring?
Smoke rolled, billowed, blanketed. I was caught in traffic as fire trucks raced, dodged, careened to the factory. I was late as usual, now I would smell of burning plastic, burning rubber, burning chemicals. From where I was stopped I could watch the fire. I could breathe the fire too, it was covering the roadway in thick black smoke. Traffic continued to pile up, flames shot high into the air, and my temper flared, relaxed. People were moving, running, shouting. Firemen were moving, running, shouting. The smoke changed in intensity, color, shape. Traffic began to move. I drove away unsatisfied.
We did back flips in the rotunda, hand stands outside the reception hall. Arriving guests stared at us and we continued to jump around, laugh, and generally misbehave. It’s not often I get invited to play for the Governor and his wife. The tables were covered with Ivory pillar candles and votives. The band commandeered two tables worth and brought them into the hallway, at the top of the staircase. Candles lit, soft rap music, and flagrant body movement warmed those entering the mansion. Soon the party was not in the hall, but the hallway. It was an awesome night.
I am frightened by clowns. More so by the people who are the clowns. Back in the day when circuses and freak shows were a popular means of entertainment, clowns had a purpose. They were trained acrobatic, comedic performers. Now in the day, clowns are unstable individuals wearing ugly, mismatched oversized clothes, shoes; severe, distorted make-up; rainbow wigs; carrying tired, old props. That’s supposed to be entertainment? Along the way, anyone who wanted to be a “clown”, basically could put on stupid clothing, act irrational, and call themselves by a warped name like “Peanut the Clown” or “Winky”. Be scared.
I haven’t been sleeping well the last couple of nights. I’ve kind of been playing all sorts of mind games with myself. I have enrolled in classes at the community college and they start in a few days. I am taking a computer class, an art class, and a Spanish class. Seemed like a good thing at the time. Now I’m not so sure. I started a new job a couple of months ago and I don’t like my boss, don’t like the work I’m stuck doing either. My girlfriend has been avoiding me, telling me I’ve become distant, cold.
Leave me out of this. I don’t want to have anything to do with this. You’re seriously thinking about doing this? Are you out of your mind? How could you ever consider this? This is going to cause all sorts of problems for everyone. Are you sure that this is the only course of action available? I don’t like this. I don’t like this one bit. I wish you would have told me about this sooner, maybe I could have helped you through this and you wouldn’t have to do this. I hope you know what you’re doing with this.
I laughed so hard I started to gasp for breath. She laughed so hard she cried. Between us lay the remains of the mayonnaise jar and its contents. Some on my leg, my shoes. Some in her hair, on her dress. We were in the process of making our favorite midnight snack, BLT sandwiches. I was in charge of the bacon, she would take care of the rest. Lettuce cleaned and shredded, tomatoes washed and sliced, bread toasted. As I drained the grease off the bacon, she remembered the mayonnaise. We collided by the sink. We couldn’t help but laugh.
I opened the refrigerator door, grabbed the American cheese and pulled off a slice. I turned around put the cheese back in the refrigerator and closed the door. I heard a noise that I couldn’t quite identify. I listened closer, heard it again; something in the refrigerator, clinking, clattering. I opened the door on the refrigerator. There was my cat Pharaoh. He looked at me and purred. He was helping himself to the American cheese slices I had just placed back into the refrigerator. I wondered how he had gotten in there. Then I figured it out. Pretty smart cat.
Andy knew he was dying, his breath labored, heavy. The crowd above him staring with hopelessness. Several thoughts crossed his closing mind. “Lisa” he managed to gasp, choke. She wasn’t with him to ease his pain. Warmth overcame him and his sight began to shade. Instinctly, he wanted to get up, run from the surrounding grayness, but there was no weight to his body. Confusion sank into his consciousness until his mother grabbed his hand. He held his breath, tried to swallow, accept the shadows; more thoughts, a fleeting image of Lisa, then softness. His mother sang him to sleep.
I took three shirts off the rack to try on with the pants I wanted to buy. I entered the fitting room and started changing. For some reason I got completely naked in front of the mirror. Hearing other guys trying on clothes got me turned on, sat on the bench, started to masturbate. It was hot to watch myself. Coaxing and manipulating, I soon finished. I didn’t realize how loud I was until one of the other guys asked if he could join me. I tried on the shirts, decided I didn’t want any of them, got dressed, left.
In the parking lot of Starbucks I watched the guy swinging around a ball and chain. He set it on the ground. He lifted it up by the chain. He grabbed it by the ring. He swung it like a bowling ball. He heaved it like a shot put. I was in the drive thru for my morning mocha. He was standing next to a white full size pickup, playing with a ball and chain. I stared in amazement. It was strange yet fascinating to watch. I couldn’t take my eyes off him as I pulled up to the window.
Optimistically I walked into the interview. As I sat there under scrutiny from the hiring committee, I felt the urge to sneeze. It began as a slight twinge, developed into a tickling sensation. I tried to ignore it, pay attention to the fierce questioning being hurled left and right and at me. I was composed as I continued to answer all inquiries, while the burning itch, the beginning of a sneeze, built. The interview finished. As the panel stood to shake my hand, I sneezed with such force, I swear I knocked one person over, covered them all with spray.
It had been a year since I talked to him. I had gained most of my weight back, most of my strength and endurance had returned also. The last conversation had been frightful, damaging. It took me a long time to recover and a while longer to call him back. As we talked he sensed my confidence, my strength. He mentioned the change he noticed. He mentioned his fear, his relief. The conversation went on for quite a while, both of us content, interested, profound. I didn’t want to hang up. He wished me well, promised to stay in touch.
We had been best friends for ages and I swear I never expected her husband to come between us; or on to me for that matter. How could I resist his smoldering blue eyes? Regardless of who started what, we went through everything. I supported her choices, encouraged her, and she did exactly the same for me. Twenty odd years. Todd accepted me immediately, never discouraged, always polite, respected our friendship. I stood up in their wedding even. They’ve been married now for twelve years. Then Todd kissed me. Afterwards I wondered why. After I got dressed I called her.
I had never been so insulted. I was shaking, angry, even though he left. I have been at this job for seven years, started right out of high school. I had plenty of clients throughout the years, many repeat customers. I pulled in plenty of money. Lately business has slowed, but I’m not too concerned. I can still get people interested in buying what I’m selling. He wants more business ventures. If not, I will be forced to stand on the corner and turn tricks. I still have my looks, 24 isn’t that old. Know anyone looking for an escort?
he thought about the pain. he held onto the bottle of vodka to steady his mind. my body covered in pain he figured would make his existence more meaningful. arms, legs, neck, chest, stomach, head, ass, all over. he flipped open the cigarette pack, snaked one out, lit it. inhaling deeply, he turned the burning edge into his flesh. thought about the pain, relaxed. he stood up, stripped down, burned his flesh until he couldn't stand it any more, then dove into the pool. he swam to the surface, exhaled, jumped out, thought of the pain, grabbed for the cigarettes.
So I like this girl (I’ll call her Amy) and met her through a friend (who shall remain nameless). He just wanted to be friends with her. She was hurt. I told her I liked her, liked her a lot. (Thought about her all the time.) She told me she thought I liked her and she liked me in return. (Put a smile on my face.) She leans into me and I put my arm around her. (I like where this is going.) I mention our friend by name and she quiets me with a kiss. (I really like this!)
Staring out the window at the rain over the sidewalk café nothing on my mind but you another night of rain you’re never gone from me and so the story goes on they never tried to understand now I understand you’re never gone from me hurting as the clock strikes one and know you won’t be here the rain drives my desire deeper and I call out to you softly you’re never gone from me and so the story goes on they never tried to understand now I understand you’re never gone from me and so the story goes on . . .
Adrian, Adrian There’s no place to hide to change your disguise I CRY OUT YOUR NAME. Keep running, keep running There’s no lie to change your life I CRY OUT YOUR NAME. Adrian, oh Adrian Surprising how the past catches up so quickly When your back is to the wall and there’s no where else to turn and you cry out my name Adrian, Adrian There’s no place to hide to change your disguise I CRY OUT YOUR NAME. Keep running, keep running There’s no lie to change your life I CRY OUT YOUR NAME. I cry out your name.
“what?” only word I could manage in my drunken state. Raising my head off the cushion I caught fading headlights on the cheek, sneaking into my burnt eyes. Dropping back down into the couch, focus on the remote, thinking about it over and over. Lost my balance, fell into and behind the cushions, my hands and face found the remote. Awkwardly pressing buttons in any direction I could trying to turn on the damn TV. ‘what?” I coughed again, wondering where I left my beer as the TV lit up and stared at me blankly. Cable’s been disconnected for weeks.
The Tip Jar