In a hospital there was a man.
“You be good, Kyle,” said a woman, leaving her four year old son there with the man.
The boy said nothing and his great-grandpa stared at him, saying nothing. The boy walked over and looked at the man’s face. The man turned his head and looked at the boy. His voice was ghostly and weak when he said:
“Clyde, you go sit down now.”
The boy made a face. He climbed up on the rail of the bed and looked down on the man.
“Get the hell down.”
The boy laughed and walked sideways on the rail. He pulled the corded control that lay beside the man and began turning the channels on the TV. The old man tried to raise his leg but he couldn’t. Only his foot moved. The boy stopped the TV on a channel with a person dressed in a bright pink, soft-looking hog suit who snorted and danced with a person dressed as, what looked to be, a deer. The boy laughed at it.
“You whistledick, give it—”
He reached out for the control and touched it with his callused fingers. The boy jerked it away.
“Guilt is doing what you want.” ~Bunny Rogers
It must have been the way the sun shone on your face, down on you. You were pressed up against the side of your car and then popped up off the side, one leg raised against the door, but even after the phonecalls, and hearing your soft, deep, Tomboy voice, now in real life, once in a phonecall:
“Do I have a deep voice?”
“Yeah, I noticed it but I didn’t want to say anything.”
“Is it weird?”
“No, I like it. It’s pretty.”
I wasn’t convinced either of your love or mine. I honestly just didn’t think I was gonna like you. I mean, I liked you enough. You told me you had feelings for me already. I cussed you out over the phone because you didn’t understand–[I’m bent over screaming down crowded 1st St. on a Sunday filled with a fervor after lifting]
Tarot Cards on a Catholic School Playground
We shouldn’t be doing this –
making angel paths to open sewage holes, priest holes
The Lovers and The Fool, debauching
near a fallen birds’ nest
amidst rain-ruined chalk suns
and the shadows of our skirts
bells ring loud as we leave The Hangman behind –
with arms outstretched, can hug an entire continent
I was 23 years old when I returned home to Lansing, Michigan after two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
I came back to find my wife was with another man. It had been over a year. Together they had spent all my savings.
He seemed to feel a little guilty about it when they broke the news to me at the doorstep – but she didn’t.
So I bought an ounce of weed off him and took my things to a motel on the other side of town. I played the classic rock station on my transistor radio and got as high as humanly possible for two weeks.
I thought about how the same 50 songs have been playing on repeat my entire life. Whenever I wanted to listen to them, they were playing already. They would probably be playing long after I was gone, maybe after everyone is gone.
Silence haunted Eliza’s house each night. Gone was the clackety-clack of toys against the wooden floor. No more voices hollering down the hallways. No laughing. No crying. Nothing. She’d hadn’t seen a single other person since she’d arrived at the abandoned shack in the woods a couple of days ago. The emptiness suffocated her. But she dealt with it. This was how it was.
She’d experienced life—real life—before. Two sons and a husband. He’d been good once. The times they’d had. Parties. Game nights. Conversations about the future.
Eliza often wondered if she should try to forget these memories—if the glimpses into her past might halt the beckoning of her future. She sat in bed with the soft glow of lamplight against her face. The deserted covers messily piled on top of her. The corners untucked and loose. A memory of her boys ran through her mind. Her two sons, with their round faces, running shirtless in a summer rainstorm. Their legs barely strong enough to hold their rollicking bodies. Their voices still unhurt. Their small bellies pudgy and soft.
Mojitos & Sushi
I don’t need alcohol, I need alcohol to be around people— I thought this for perhaps the first time while blackout drunk with Ethel, drinking Mojitos and eating sushi, things, to that point, I’d never really experienced so fluidly with a female, but perhaps, I’m thinking now, I actually thought this sentence for the first time this morning, jotted it down while half asleep, and I’m now shamelessly superimposing the thought onto a night where I was allegedly blackout drunk with Ethel, drinking Mojitos and eating sushi.
Alcohol had undoubtedly contributed as much if not more to my deterioration as an artist, to my deterioration as a human being, as any of my friends, as any of my debt.
Abusing alcohol to make myself semi-functional in social settings, in many ways, killed me—it killed the “real” me (which was admittedly a me probably equally steeped in lies and denial) in favor of constructing a “socially palatable” me, or at least it made others seem “socially palatable” to me, even if I was incoherent, or perhaps because I was incoherent.
But, looking back, what choice does a person really have—assuming you always find yourself extremely socially anxious, possibly to a paralyzing degree?
Is being a drunken fool worse than any of the immediate, plausible alternatives?
At the time I didn’t think so—being a drunken fool was perfectly fine.
‘I think ill go w/ the boneless’
Brendan let out his characteristic half-ironically forced mirthful/spoiled child smile. ben was livid. Buffalo wild wings offers its wings in two forms: boneless and ‘normal’(?), the ‘boneless wings’ being basically nuggs. Ben thought the normal wings were clearly the correct choice, chicken is pretty gross in general, what with being selectively bred to be unable to walk/experience lifelong inflammatory rotator cuff agony via outsized pectoral hypertrophy, processed in rural Mississippi by a 5’1 honduran man of deep mayan peasant extraction, a mammalian maize weevil with repetitive stress injuries, but nuggs are so obviously un-’food’ like, almost deliberately nostalgic in their artificiality, their very ‘extrudedness’ harkening back to a golden age of junkfood when ‘better living through plastics’ wasnt yet a cliched dystop-ism. Ben thought about saying something like that to his friend but instead he decided to call him a fucking faggot.
Brendan’s aforementioned smile morphed into an exaggerated grimace, losing none of its strained smugness. The fine lines on his forehead became more obvious. Brendan was severely balding – nw3 with definite crown thinning. A few grey hairs sprouted conspicuously from his unkempt ‘side burns’ (if you could call them that). Nasiolabal folds were becoming noticeable in even flattering lighting, and his undereyes were baggy and weathered. Norwoodcel, facecel, telomereshorteningcel – he was 23 years old. The rest of his friends laughed. A few of them also called brendan a faggot. Another couple defended the boneless wings.
At the onset, Elyse’s mother had no visible symptoms, but she was conscious enough to describe a “mild head-sickness” before retiring to bed for the month. Elyse had to deal with its malformation, which appeared around the same time her mother awoke in the night screaming Hail Marys.
Malforms were known to hang around parkway forests. Elyse first met her mother’s malform on I-55. She was on her way to the pharmacy for extra-strength aspirin, but pulled over to investigate what looked like an injured animal. She approached it with the same caution she used when she tip-toed around her mother’s bedside, changing the pan without a clang and sweeping the floor just as noiselessly. If the malform was anything like her mother, it would appreciate her cautiousness at least on a subconscious level. Instead it used the interstate dell as a stage of mockery. Lying in the pathetic pose from home. Dry heaves and fake vomit. A garbled sound from one of its holes which could only be classified as “motherly.”
I’d finally finished it that year. All nine hundred pages of it.
What was it about?
It was the story of how my mother’d always wanted me to be a writer but never wanted me to write about any of the bad stuff, the sad stuff, anything worth writing about in the first place. How messed up our family was. How messed up I was. She was. How she never wanted me to tell the story of my big brother who’d killed himself and why-all he’d done it.
Why I’d never had the balls to follow in his shoes. Waah, waah, waah.
The final chapter’d concluded with me finishing my big book about my dead brother and showing it to my mother the little-kids book writer, the one who’d pushed me to be a writer my whole life. To make something good out of all this sad stuff.
It’d ended with how my mother’d died of cancer before she’d ever got around to finishing her protégé’s nine-hundred page pièce de résistance.
I’d meant it to be both figurative and crude and a cruel joke on the narrator’s entire pitiful existence, which is to say my own entire pitiful existence.