Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday and the Face Punchers

            The band walked slowly across the stage while fans mildly cheered their entrance. Sven, the lead singer and lead guitarist, picked up his guitar and stepped toward the microphone.

            “Hello Chicago how you feelin’ tonight,” he shouted.
            “Fine”, said the crowd.

            Sven stepped back and counted off the time for the first song. The beat was average. A normal 1980’s pop beat from their drummer, Mikala. Hendry was the bassist and he started on his strings. He was always the least interested looking in the band. Coogan was the rhythm guitar and he filled the small room with average musical ability. The crowd reacted with a smattering of applause as a few folks recognized the song as one of the bands few hits. Sven stepped back toward the microphone as the song got into its full swing.

            “Your face, is the face I like”, sang Sven, “It makes, me ride a bike”.

            Sven was not known for his lyrical genius yet he persisted.

            “I’ll make, your favorite, for dinner, if you’ll, sleep with me tonight”, he sang.

            The crowd that had gathered and paid eleven dollars and fifty cents to see Friday and the Face Punchers was slowly starting to enjoy the onstage antics of Sven and the rest of the band. Sven was clad in his tight red leather pants and sleeveless black tee-shirt. His yellow thinning hair was corralled by a white headband with the word, “Meh”, on it.

            “I’ll break, for you, if I, see you,” he continued.

            Hendry the bassist seemed to yawn. He was wearing his customary, ‘I have something better to do after this’, gray suit and yellow tie. Mikala was wearing only her tank top and what looked like old bike shorts from the 80’s. They were neon green. Coogan was impressed with himself so he only wore some tight blue jeans, no shirt. Although he probably should have since the back hair was starting to turn gray.

            “Make love to me tonight, and everything will be alright”, sang Sven as he gyrated his pelvis toward the three 18 year old girls that likely thought this was something else when they bought their tickets.

            His movements were strangely hypnotic though and the beat provided by Mikala was slowly getting the crowd moving, even swaying, with the music.

            “Baby, don’t turn on the day, baby don’t turn on the day, baby, don’t turn on the day, what else is there to say, baby, don’t turn on the day”, sang Sven.

            He closed his eyes when he sang the chorus, as if the words really meant something to him. It was like the words were taking him back through his memory when he might have said something pithy to his girlfriend, Callie, one Sunday morning. The chorus really seemed to have a lot of meaning for Sven. He sang it with enthusiasm and vigor.

            After a few guitar flourishes from Coogan the song came to an end and there was a few excited folks in the crowd.

            “We love you Sven,” they shouted.
            “I love you too,” said Sven back.

            The band then broke into their second song. A slower ballad song about the time Sven lost his virginity to a creepy Goth chick that liked to cut herself during sex. The song was called, ‘Make me Bleed’, and was one of the bands more popular songs off the album, ‘Personal Day’.  The concert goers were pleased to hear Sven’s mournful guitar as the song began. They actually started to cheer with a little more heart.

            “I don’t know how you make me need,” sang Sven as he cozied up to the microphone, “But you make me bleed”.

            The guitars blasted ever faster and the crowd began to dance and sway. Heads started to bob and hands went up in the air. Sven thrusted his hips and Hendry sighed. Mikala smiled as she drummed and Coogan closed his eyes.

            “In your mother’s basement, the wine was so nice, what’s with the razor blade, I can do it twice,” continued Sven. He cooed and strutted across the stage with Mick Jagger type aplomb.

            The sound of the music echoed across the front of the buildings for this street fair concert and bounced across toward the opposite side of the street where a young man and his girlfriend ate elephant ears and chugged down beer as they each wondered how long it would last with each other.  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Relationship Prologue

            When I was very young I saw my first breast and I was hooked. I knew from that moment on that I would likely be enjoying breasts for the rest of my life. Fast forward a few years and to the barber shop and my first exposure to an Adult Themed magazine. No, not Playboy, the other one. Yeah, that one. While shocking as that magazine was, I was still on the hook for the fairer sex. A history of being in love with women while simultaneously not understanding them one bit. It’s quite the mystery but one I’m fully vested.

            In grammar school I was infatuated with a little blonde girl and I dreamed and wished the innocent fantasies that an eight or nine year old would; living in the woods with her away from our families, having some sort of Swiss Family Robinson home complete with native animals to do our bidding. How hard could that have been?

            In eighth grade I had my first kiss with a different blonde girl on a fire escape at a haunted house. I never saw her again and I still don’t remember her name. I find that very tragic but she set the tone for every other meaningful kiss in my life. Kisses that, as I entered high school, would flow like pubescent gasoline over everything flammable.

            There were make out sessions with the theater girls at every party it seemed and the first set of breasts I ever got to touch with any encouragement and confidence. I dated girls briefly and some are still friends to this day. We didn’t have that deep emotional attachment but still enjoy each other now. Then there were the first real lusty relationships on parent’s couches, groping and kissing and teasing through underwear. Until my first High school girlfriend of any significance; who was bat-shit crazy. After trying to break up with her for the third or fourth time she dumped a Slurpee on my head and scratched my face under my right eye. It was a painful break up. Not really because of the scratch but what I had gone through just to make her my girlfriend in the first place. I sacrificed my friendship with my two best friends over this girl and in the end I wound up with nothing. But I was optimistic in my adolescent depression that things sucked now, but they would get better. They just had to.

            I soon met a young woman who would become the model of the kind of woman I would always want in my life. She was smart, witty, fun, and sexy and she thought I was pretty neat. She was the first girl I ever really was in love with. It was more than mere infatuation or liking someone a whole lot. We laughed together and wrote together and read together. We listened to music and smoked cigarettes. We danced. We cuddled. We tried secret coughing codes when far apart to tell each other of our love. I loved her and when she dumped me on Valentine’s Day I was crushed. I crawled into a hole and didn’t emerge from it for two or three years.

            By then college had started and I was back to schoolboy crushes on a Swedish girl and a waif-like redhead. The Swede didn’t like me in that way and the Redhead was an alcoholic with deep emotional issues who later accused me of a horrible act of which I would never do in a hundred billion years. (I’ll leave the mystery open.) An act so hateful that I gave up a nickname I had for 11 years so I could bury her accusation in the past. Again I was sent into a depressed and chaotic singlehood.

            College didn’t last long and I took up residence at two bars in the city. One bar was for observing the very make up of relationships as couples would come into the bar and the mysteries of how these two people could get along were explored. The second bar was for fun and the encouragement of strong male figures to pursue women with more confidence. In this second bar I met the second love of my life and she was the combination of the first kiss blonde and the relationship definer of high school.

            Our relationship was turbulent at times but we had real love for each other and it seemed like we would likely be together forever. However two people can only hurt each other for so long before the wounds get too deep to heal and the love, so earnestly and honestly professed, becomes a wedge of contention. That relationship died on a cross in the sun and hurt more deeply than any other in my life. Parts of me still miss her every single day.

            I returned to a state of perpetual pining and several more years passed until I felt I might be ready to meet someone special again. Since then, the pickings have been slim. I’ve met some very wonderful women but didn’t get that spark. I’ve met some women that professed their desire for me that encouraged my heart to beat for them, only for them to break that heart with their youthful indiscretions.

            Some women I tried too hard with, some I didn’t try hard enough. Some woman just didn’t like me, some women were liars. Some women were just flirts, some women were stones. Some women were careless with my feelings, some women didn’t have any feelings. Some women didn’t know who I was, some women didn’t take the time to find out.  Some women abused my heart, some women were abused by mine.

            In all, my relationship history is rather tortured with passions diluted and expectations too high for their own good. I don’t know what will happen next. I don’t know if I will ever meet the right woman who’ll want to nurture a relationship with me. Will I meet a nice woman that accepts my relationship prologue and thinks that will have made me into someone she can appreciate and even love? Will I see in her all the parts that I now know I need?

I hope so. This is getting ridiculous.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bloody Nose

            The rains finally stopped and the city was attempting to dry out under a weak summer sun. It was still fairly gray and cloudy overhead, but at least the pounding rain stopped. Karen was starting to feel the effects of cabin fever as she watched the two days of rain pummel the city like no time she could remember. She watched through her window as the street flooded and the lawn became super saturated. It was just impossible to go outside for any reason. She didn’t have a canoe or other water born mode of travel. So she sat in her house for two days, watching the weather channels, reading, discovering new ways to flavor her tea, talking to her mother on the phone, checking her own basement for water which thankfully there was none, and falling asleep on the couch. Now that the rain had stopped she had a very strong desire to go outside and survey the damage.

            Karen grabbed her Marc Jacobs rain roots and rolled up her pants legs. The boots were a great investment and she really didn’t care how popular they were, they were stylish and practical, something Karen appreciated. She thought about taking her rain coat just in case it started to rain again. It was getting really humid already and she didn’t want her little exploration of the neighborhood to turn in to a hot sweaty mess. She left the rain coat behind. She grabbed her house keys and her phone, just in case there were any opportunities to take some Facebook worthy photos, and opened her front door.

            The water had started to recede from her short front walkway and she avoided a few lingering puddles. Everything smelled so damp but somehow fresh. She was glad the sewers hadn’t back-up. The raw sewage smell just made her terribly sick to her stomach. When she was younger her father had accidentally broken a sewer line while working in front of their old house and raw human waste spewed up like a geyser and covered her father and the cars on the street in filth. The smell was terrible. It made Karen wonder how human beings ever made it through the Dark Ages. Then she remembered that they almost didn’t. She started walking toward the busy streets two blocks west.

            She could see that the traffic signal up ahead was flashing red meaning the intersection must have lost power at some point during the storms. They were pretty violent at times, but her house never lost power. She walked looking at the high water still in the street and watched as it moved like a fast river toward the storm drains. Karen though that if she were to step out into it, even ankle deep, she might get swept away and down into the horrors of the underworld. She kept walking along the damp sidewalk.

            The sun was still fighting its way through the clouds and every so often it would break through and bathe the wet city in yellow sun. Karen squinted her eyes against the sun as it glared off the surface of the flood waters. She was happy to feel the sun on her face and felt a warming happiness start to fill her as she walked through the neighborhood. She hardly noticed that she was the only person out.

            It only dawned on her that no one was around when she got to the corner and the flashing traffic light and there weren’t any cars slowly moving through the intersection. It was odd since the intersection is normally very busy at all times of day. She looked down to the left and didn’t see any road blocks or accidents and then she looked right and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. There just wasn’t any traffic. There were some cars still parked along the street though and that was good. She was glad that none of them had floated away. Frankly she was glad the whole neighborhood hadn’t floated away in the bustling flood waters.

            She carefully crossed the street and found the water had already receded quite a lot. It was only barely cresting over the toe of her rain boots. She slogged gingerly though since she didn’t want to step on a hidden tree branch or into a pot hole. She got to the other corner and turned to her left to walk up toward the corner liquor store. She figured she’d celebrate the end of the rains by picking up a bottle of wine or two. Some sparking white wine would go nice with the dropping water and the warming sunlight. She might even be able to dry her deck furniture out and enjoy the quiet for a while.

            Karen splashed her way through some larger puddles that were mimicking mini lakes in some of the rougher hot holes along her route. She felt like a little girl splashing through muddy puddles at her grandmother’s house. She smiled. She looked around and jumped high into the air and splashed down into one of the large linger puddles. She giggled to herself as the water sprayed up everywhere. Her jeans got a little wet but she didn’t mind. It was fun to act childish sometimes, especially when no one was watching.

            “Nobody is watching at all,” she said aloud.

            She looked up and down the street again and there still wasn’t a soul in sight. She splashed and kicked through the puddle as she walked and suddenly felt a little embarrassed. Plus it was starting to feel a little eerie. Somebody was probably watching her from some window and was making fun of her childish exuberance.

            “So what,” she said as she kicked through another deep puddle, “I’m having fun”.

            Karen neared the liquor store and realized that it might not even be open. The rains might have prevented the owner, Mel, to get there and open shop. She might not be able to get her wine. She shrugged and figured that if he wasn’t open then she’d just have to turn around and go home. Maybe later in the afternoon she’d be able to make a return trip. She kept splashing her way forward through the puddles.

            She heard a car horn suddenly blare from somewhere up ahead. It was the first sound she’d heard besides her own splashing and voice. She looked down the street and saw a guy leaning into the driver’s side window of a car, honking the horn. He was really making it blare. Karen was a little disappointed that this horn noise would be the first sound to disrupt her peaceful little water walk. She’d hoped it be sweet singing birds or maybe some music, maybe someone playing, “Here Comes the Sun”. The guy kept hitting the horn though and it was starting to become unpleasant.

            Karen kept moving toward the liquor store and stopped her big splashing. Now she felt she was on more of a mission rather than a playful romp in the puddles. She looked up at the windows of the liquor store and saw Mel was inside behind the counter. He was arching his body toward the sound of the blaring horn. He had a telephone to his ear. Karen thought it was so odd that Mel still had a big black secretary phone at the counter. It looked so out of place in this age of tiny cell phones.

            Karen pulled open the store’s door and entered. Mel looked at her and gave her the ‘just a minute’ finger. He was listening to someone on the other end of the phone. Karen nodded and started generally looking at the candy and the sweets on the racks, the potato chips and dips. Maybe she’d get some snacks too. She heard Mel hand up the heavy antique phone.

            “Hi Mel,” said Karen.
            “Do you hear that guy with the horn,” asked Mel right away.
            “I do. What’s going on with that,” asked Karen.
            “There’s like, a hole there,” said Mel.

            Karen looked at the normally confident and strong Mel and she realized that he was shaken. He looked pale and scared.

            “A hole? Like a sink hole,” asked Karen.
            “I don’t know. I mean, it’s not a sink hole, it’s just a, a hole,” said Mel.

            Mel stepped around from the counter and toward Karen and the window facing the blaring car horn noise. He was clearly frazzled.

            “What’s going on,” asked Karen.
            “I think, that, this hole is coming for us,” said Mel.
            “How can a hole come for us,” asked Karen.

            Karen wondered if Mel maybe hit his head or fell in the water or maybe had a stroke. He wasn’t a young man after all. She reached up and put a hand on Mel’s shoulder.
            “Are you feeling okay,” asked Karen.
            Mel turned and looked at her and suddenly seemed calmer and that he recognized Karen as someone he knew.
            “Karen, when did you get here? How did you get here,” he asked.
            “I just walked in, didn’t you see me. We’ve been talking about some hole for the last few minutes. You were on the phone when I walked in,” said Karen.

            Mel looked over to the counter and then back at Karen. He had a confused look on his face but he looked less afraid than before.

            “Yeah, the hole. There’s a hole. I had to report it to the police,” said Mel as he turned back toward the window.
            “What’s with the guy blaring the horn,” asked Karen.
            “He’s keeping it at bay,” said Mel.

            Mel turned back toward Karen and his nose had started bleeding. Karen took a step back as the blood started to drip off his chin.

            “Mel! Your Nose!”

            Mel didn’t acknowledge her exclamation and turned toward the store door and stepped out onto the sidewalk. Karen tried to stop him but he kept going. He staggered toward the sound of the blaring horn. He turned back toward Karen, blood flowing from his nose and seemingly from his mouth now.

            “Mind the store Karen. Mind the store,” he gurgled.

            He turned back toward the sound of the horn and then fell forward into a deep puddle. The puddle swallowed him like it was a tar pit rather than rain water. Karen called after Mel but he was gone. She looked down the street for help.

            “Help! Help! Help!” she cried out and it echoed between the wet buildings and was drowned by the horn.

            The horn was weakening from over-use. Karen looked toward the car and the man leaning into the driver’s window. She could barely make him out. He turned to look at her and Karen could see his face was red, it was bloody. She screamed and rushed back into the liquor store, slipping on the wet tile floor from her rain boots. She slammed the door behind her and braced herself against it.

            She had to mind the store, that’s what Mel had said. She had to mind the store. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Three Days

            One would have thought that a three day weekend would be just the thing to recharge the old creative batteries and get the juices flowing. I think the opposite occurred however. This blank page has been staring at me for a little while now with little to…. um…. er…. …uh…. hm…. something. I think the weight of returning to work and sitting in this godforsaken cubicle all day has sapped whatever recharging might have happened. It’s hard to return to a mundane life after spending so much time trying to be a little better than average.

            The thought of calling people and asking them why they fell down or let their apartment catch on fire or why they ate that expired yogurt and why they feel someone else should pay for it seems disgusting to me today. Legitimately disgusting. The very idea of having to do this makes my hands ache and my forearms feel tired. My eyes seem to be crossing and I feel a wave of sleepiness coming over me.

            I was out yesterday with a few people who immediately lost interest as soon as I told them I do for a daily wage. I could have said anything. I should have said anything. I should have been like, “Oh, I’m a chair duster for the Chicago Symphony”, or, “I’m the guy that helps the guy that paints the lines in the streets”. Anything would have been more entertaining or interesting than Liability Claims Examiner. It’s like telling people you’re a leper with the most fingers.

            Mind you, I am not unhappy to have a job. In this economy and with the cost of just about everything, having a job is a good thing. Even if it’s a boring, terrible, mind numbing, soul sucking, and debasement of everything good and holy on a daily basis. It might seem as if I’m being a little harsh on this employment of mine. It’s true. I am being harsh. It’s just so damn hard to convince oneself to keep doing the same old crap everyday. Crap that is completely unrewarding in any way. (Other than a lousy paycheck that barely seems to last very long.)

            Over the long holiday weekend I felt slightly good about the life I have. I’ve got good friends that care about me whom I sometimes don’t always appreciate properly, I have a fairly decent place to live, I have food I like in the house, I still look okay in a cardigan sweater and I can still make people laugh. Those are pretty good things and as happy as I was with all of it, it was simply wiped away as the alarm clocks went off around my head this morning. The dread of the cubicle, the annoyance of the ringing phone, the dead inside feeling that comes with riding the train like so much cattle to the slaughterhouse, just drained me of any joy. The three days of fun, relaxation and booze, was now only a memory and replaced with the ongoing dread of the rest of my days.

            The three days now seem like a reminder that I am letting my time slip away into the void of perpetual mediocrity. I have to get up, dust myself off and get busy doing…um…the thing with the…um…yeah….that thing. You know, with the thing? Thing Damn it. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Let’s Get Close

Love and intimacy
has been on my mind
a lot lately. More so
than usual, no less than
average. I’m filled with
a great deal of longing for
true intimacy.

Aggressive sex is fine,
but lacking in the softness
true intimacy holds. It’s
bleary eyed compared to
the focused vision of intimate
and gentle loving.

I’ve been thinking about
passion and deeply felt
kisses. The kind of kisses
that send electricity coursing
through your body. The kind of
kisses that make your head feel
lighter and fingertips sizzle
with each anticipated caress
of a lover’s body.

It seems I’m in a
perpetual state of mourning
for the intimacy I’ve lost
along the way in this life.
The long hand holding,
the arms around my chest
from a lover that wants nothing
more than to feel my heart and
see my smiling face as she
looks at me. A lover. A person
consumed with want for me.

And I for her.

I haven’t met any woman
in a long while that wants
to invest in me.
That’s hard to bear.

So I just stumble along,
trying to hide from the longing
with beer and smokes and
bouts of laughter that’s a bit
too loud, but it’s still in there.
The longing.
The wanting.
The desire.
The pain of not being on anyone’s
wanted list.
Cry me a river and
I’ll swim to the shore.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Sweeter the Punch

            Harold felt the pressure of time on his shoulders as he hurried to his nine o’clock morning meeting. He’d put all his final reports together the night before and had weeks prior for setting up all the statistical data he would need to really give a great presentation. No, a great presentation wasn’t enough, it had to be majestic. It had to be like seeing the ocean for the first time or as memorable as a first kiss. The president and the CFO of were going to be at the meeting and he really wanted to impress them. He’d been slogging his way in the trenches in development for 10 years without any recognition. Today was his chance to shine.

            He stopped at his office to pick up his portfolio case and the program copies he’d made to go along with the PowerPoint presentation. He then made his way to the conference room. Harold checked the clock and had an hour to rehearse and then make sure the donuts and coffee arrived. Not just any donuts though. These donuts were from the really fancy shop downtown where each one was practically crafted by hand. The cream and jelly donuts were filled individually by a little old Italian woman. They were something special and he knew the bosses would be impressed with how much more flavorful they were than Johnson’s donuts. Johnson had given a presentation last week and he just brought in regular old donuts from some chain. The president had a single bite and never went back to it. Plus Johnson’s presentation was drab and boring. Harold’s was going to be an extravaganza of ideas, color and substance.

            The conference room seemed a little musty to Harold, maybe a little warm too. He reached into his bag and pulled out some individually packaged wood polish pads. He then dusted the entire long conference table with lemon scented cleanliness. He then lowered the thermostat to a comfortable 64 degrees. He didn’t want it too cold or too warm. He figured with all the bodies in the room and the excitement from his presentation it would get warm soon enough. He took his jacket off and rested it over one of the conference chairs and checked his pits. He didn’t want to be a sweaty hot mess when the president shook his hand to congratulate him on his masterful presentation.

            Harold looked at the clock and couldn’t believe that fifteen minutes had flown by so quickly. He set up his lap top and plugged it in to the projector. He set up the tripod for the posters showing last year’s numbers and this year’s progress. Clearly development was doing something right with the way the current numbers were looking. Harold started to worry that he’d forgotten to order those fabulous donuts where there was a knock on the conference room door. Harold rushed over and opened it. A young man with shaggy hair, giant glasses, a nose ring and wrinkled clothing was waiting holding two big boxes of donuts.

            “Excellent,” said Harold to the completely disinterested delivery kid.

            Harold directed the kid to put the boxes on the cabinet along the windowed wall of the conference room. The kid plopped the boxes on the cabinet and turned to Harold with the bill in his hand.
            “That’ll be one hundred and sixty four dollars and twenty eight cents,” said the delivery kid.
            Harold had to pull himself away from the fantasy of the president biting into one of the handmade donuts and being so impressed that he just gave the entire division to Harold to run.

            “I’m sorry, did you say a hundred sixty four dollars and twenty eight cents,” asked Harold.
            “Yeah,” said the kid as he flicked his messy hair out of his eyes.
            “That can’t be right. I paid in advance for the donuts and delivery on Monday,” said Harold.
            “No you didn’t,” said the kid.
            “I’m afraid I did,” said Harold.
            “Nope. You have to pay me today or I’ll take the donuts back,” said the kid.

            Harold fumbled through his mind, back to Monday at the donut shop. He remembered flirting with the young woman at the counter, trying to get her to go on a date with him, he remembered picking out the donuts from the menu list, he remembered filling out the order form, the office information and then… he couldn’t remember if he paid. Harold started for his wallet to see if he had a receipt. He found the order slip tucked away next to his Social Security card.

            “See, here’s my receipt,” said Harold as he handed the slip to the kid.
            “Yeah, this is just an order confirmation slip, not a receipt. So, you still gotta pay me” said the kid handing it back to Harold.
            “Order confirmation? No this is my receipt for paying,” said Harold.
            “Yeah, no. That’s not a receipt. Can we hurry up man, I have a bunch more places to go,” said the kid, blowing the ugly sand colored hair off his forehead.

            Harold looked up at the clock and his meeting was scheduled to start in eight minutes. He didn’t have time to rehearse like he wanted to.

            “Listen, I know I paid, can we call Maggie, it was Maggie right? She’s the owner,” asked Harold.
            “Yeah, my sister,” said the kid.
            “Your sister, okay, can we call her and maybe get this sorted out. I’m quite positive I paid for these donuts and the delivery on Monday,” said Harold.
            “She doesn’t get to the store until ten. I’m the only one there until then,” said the kid.
            “Well you’re her brother, so can you maybe call her at home,” asked Harold.
            “No. She doesn’t want business calls bothering her at home,” said the kid.

            Harold looked up at the clock again and he had five minutes until the start of his meeting.

            “Listen, there’s a meeting about to start in here, possibly the most important meeting of my entire life. So maybe you can make an exception in this case and call your sister at home to verify that I already paid for the donuts,” said Harold.
            “No. I can’t,” said the kid.

            Harold stood in front of the kid, hands on his hips and was panting.

            “You can’t,” said Harold, “You can’t call her at all?”
            “No. So like, if you don’t pay me I’m going to have to take the donuts back man,” said the kid and he moved toward the boxes on the cabinet.

            Harold grabbed him by the arm.

            “Hold on a second there partner,” said Harold.
            “Don’t grab me man,” said the kid as he pulled his arm away.
            “I’m sorry, I just really need those donuts for this meeting,” said Harold as he moved a little closer to the kid.
            “Well, I guess you should have paid for them then,” said the kid and he stepped toward the cabinet another foot.

            Harold laughed out of some incredulity or nervousness and then grabbed the kid by his shoulders. The kid pushed Harold in the chest and sent him back a few steps. Harold’s fuse finally made it to the TNT and he rushed at the kid. He plowed into the kid’s thin chest and tossed him onto the conference table. Harold climbed on top of the kid, who was now shouting and screaming like a 10 year old girl, and began pummeling him about the face and neck. Harold was murmuring quietly as his fists hit the soft flesh of the kid’s face.

            “Give. Me. My. Mother. Loving. Donuts. You. Hipster. Geek. Bastard”.

            Harold’s mind was focused on the donuts, their deliciousness; they’re chewy creaminess as he continued to bang the kid’s head against the long wood, finely dusted conference table. He was going to get the jelly out of this donut. The kid had stopped yelling and Harold felt tired. He stopped his fists and sat straddling the kid’s body on the conference table. Harold was panting and his fists were bloody. He looked up at the clock and saw it was five after nine. He turned his head to the conference room entrance and there stood the president and the CFO. Their mouths were open in what looked like a silent scream. Harold slipped off the kid’s body and stood next to the table.

            “Would either of you like a delicious donut,” said Harold. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Le Problème avec la Fiction

            There are times when I write stories that are filled with massive destruction and chaos. I create worlds of utter devastation and ruin where society has broken down to its most base elements. I usually have one or two survivors trying to climb their way through the broken landscape in a vain search for the remnants of humanity. Most of those stories don’t end very well for the characters and they usually wind up in a continual limbo of morbid ruination.

            When real life causes epic destruction I can’t help but feel like a fool. I feel a little shame for so casually discarding so much of my imagined worlds in hellfire or tragedy. The real world is far crueler than my imagination could ever be, but at least in my imagination no one actually has to suffer. I still get a tinge of shame when I carelessly drop a building on a fictional character that was just looking for their dog amid the broken spires of the old town church. It is curious how I can so easily imagine it but when the real thing happens, I’m at a loss to really grasp the true echo of the destruction.

            I’m in my cubicle, casually sipping an ever cooling cup of coffee, feeling a slight chill from the overworking air conditioner vent positioned right above me, wondering about lunch in the back of my mind, and only slightly concerned with the real world devastation occurring all the time. It’s natural to have some disconnected feelings from events so far away and without any real personal interaction. I’ve never been to Oklahoma. I’ve never been involved with a Tornado. I live in the Mid-West and tornadoes are a possibility, but in Chicago, it’s an extremely rare possibility It’s unlikely one would ever touch the ground in the city.

            I feel for the lives lost, the utter loss of everything ever had in this life, swept away in a freight train of wind. I sympathize with the families, however I cannot empathize. I’ve never been through it. I’ve never had everything precious to me in the world taken away in the blink of an eye. It must be a purely singular hell. I could imagine it however. I could write a character, standing on the stoop of what used to be his house. I could imagine his heart beating wildly in his chest at the realization of his life’s work is now a pile of rubble. I could imagine the tears stinging his eyes and streaking down his dirty cheeks, creating a clean line down his face making him look like a the photo negative of a mime. I can imagine the ripped tee-shirt he wore to bed. I can imagine his thoughts swimming as he searches for an explanation from somewhere, from God, from anything and finding nothing. I imagine him sitting down on the concrete stoop and burying his head in his hands.

            I can imagine it all. I just can’t imagine it being real for someone. That’s the problem with fiction. I can create and mold without any regard for reality and no one gets hurt. Nature, however, is not a good writer and lacks any imagination. Albeit nature is creative in its fury, it is without imagination. That’s not to say that nature has any particular personification, like a grumpy old giant man, swinging his cane across the Great Plains, complaining that the music is too loud. Nature does what it does because that’s simply what it does. It creates and destroys, in a never ending cycle.

            I’ll stick to fiction but try to remember that somewhere, someone might have had to go through it and they may not have come out the other side. So I’ll pray and I’ll hope for the best. But I’ll go back to writing about the aliens attacking and hell bubbling up from the depths of the Earth and riding the train mourning for love. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Smell that? Smells like Nirvana

            This morning I had Nirvana on my mind, in more ways than just the ethereal plane of peaceful existence achieved through long meditation. I literally woke up with Kurt Cobain singing in my head.  I was happy to have the auto jukebox of my mind finally click on after what’s been weeks of silence. There’s something wonderful about having a good song in your head as you start the day.

            Now though, as Monday has begun it’s heartless, foot dragging, monstrous lurking through the corridors of the morning. I am annoyed I can’t remember the exact Nirvana song it was that I woke to with such pleasantness. I’ve been looking through the lyrics on-line and the right song won’t make itself known to me. But as I read through the song lyrics of the other tunes I can hear the jukebox belting them out in my head. There were so many good songs. Sometimes the words were difficult to understand thanks to Kurt’s distinctive mumbling, but I can still remember how it made me feel.

            It reminds me of being young and misunderstood and incapable of expressing myself. I still didn’t know my place in the world and there was the right sound from Nirvana that seemed to make not knowing seem okay. I’m not the angst filled youth I once was, without any comprehension of the real world.  I am an angst ridden late-thirties-something with more knowledge about the real world and more real life to be annoyed with.

            The punk music of my past, Screeching Weasel, NOFX, Blue Meanies, on and on, while still enjoyable to my ears today never reached me in the same way that Nirvana did. When you’re a young man, certain things get etched onto you, like a tattoo on your heart and Nirvana happened to be one of those things for me. I associate them with the first real love of my teenage life, friendship, alcohol, drugs, hair styles and a burgeoning sense of self.

            It is self that I’m still working on and part of me is glad to have Nirvana along for the ride. I’ve always had a hard time knowing my place. Am I a storyteller, a comedian, an artist, a cubicle jockey, a businessman, a painter, a poet, a drunk, a pig, a saint, a melancholic muser, or an empty vessel waiting to be filled? Nirvana and Kurt Cobain’s lyrics always seemed to hit the nail on the head to describe that very question. What am I and what is my place? 

            When an old Nirvana song comes on the radio (Yes, I still listen to the radio in my car) I usually turn it up and sing along. I’m reminded that I still don’t quite know my place and that it is okay to not be sure. But I can sing and I can enjoy the moment. I can still shake my head in agreement with the beat and play the drums on the steering wheel. I can know that no matter what I am, I am.  

Friday, May 17, 2013


            “Do you know what you want,” she asked.
            “I dunno,” he said.
            She looked him up and down as he sat in the restaurant booth. She snapped her gum against her teeth and waited. He just stared at the menu, seemingly reading every word intensely.

            “Should I give you another couple minutes honey,” she asked.
            “Yeah,” he said.

            She walked away from the table and back around the diner counter. She positioned herself against the coffee station and folded her arms against her chest. It was one o’clock in the afternoon and the place was empty except for this one customer. There wasn’t much of a lunch rush, just a few construction workers from a few blocks away. They just got a few sandwiches to go. $18.00 bill for which she received $1.50 tip. She wasn’t sure how she would make rent this month if this kind of slow down continued.

            She looked out the window and watched the wind push sickly gray clouds through the sky. It looked like rain. She looked back to her lone customer, still staring at the menu. He was still on the first breakfast page. He was focused on the Hammerin’ Hash picture. It was hash browns covered with an open faced egg, covered with more hash browns, a pat of butter on the top and covered in maple syrup. It was a crazy creation from a cook that hadn’t work at the Brown Top Restaurant for 16 years. She didn’t’ know why it was still on the menu, or why it was a featured item. People did order it though. Well, not people, drunks ordered it at three o’clock in the morning.

            She slowly walked back toward the lone customer at the booth.

            “Is there anything I can help you with,” she asked.
            “I dunno,” he said.
            “Do you have any questions about any items on the menu,” she asked.

            She started to wonder in her mind if this guy could read. It wasn’t all that uncommon for someone to come in that couldn’t read and they sat there, struggling with the menu for a long time. The guy was sweating a bit and looked pretty frustrated.

            “No,” he said.

            He didn’t look up, but he did flip the menu over to the lunch specials.

            “We have a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich as a special today that’s not on the menu,” she said.

            The man didn’t reply. He returned to his focused reading of the menu items. She got the hint and slowly backed away from the table while tapping her pen against her order pad.  She wondered if this guy might be one of those nutso types; laid off from some factory job, drunk for days, hell bent on revenge. It was always the waitresses or the support staff of life that always seemed to catch the most hell from the nutsos.

            She returned to her spot by the coffee maker and leaned back. She realized she never offered the guy at the both anything to drink. She didn’t notice him come in and sit down so she never thought to get him something. She grabbed the water pitcher and walked back toward the guy at the booth. She poured him a glass of water.

            “Can I get you something to drink while you read over the menu,” she asked.
            “I dunno,” said the guy.

            He shrugged. For some reason that seemed to be the last straw for her and she felt her blood start to boil. Six years of taking crap from people was raging up in her stomach, she felt her anger in her eyes. It was an irrational anger but it burst forth. She put the pitcher of water down on the table.

            “Listen mac, if you don’t order something in the next two minutes I’m going call the cops and have them shoo you off for loitering,” she commanded.

            She picked up the pitcher and turned back toward the coffee station. She felt relieved to have gotten that out. She was not a mean person by nature, but even she had her limits of patience. It wasn’t the stabbing verbal attack she had imagined, but she got her point across she felt.

            The man in the booth put the menu down and took a sip of water. He stood from the table and headed toward the door.

            “Hey! Where you going,” she asked.
            “I dunno,” he said.

            He turned to the door and walked out into the graying afternoon. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Flittering Flight of Fancy

The white winged moth
floundered and fluttered
in front of the chain link
fence. Flustered by the
fortifications preventing
it’s flight to the field
on the other side.

It flew up and back and
side to side, struggling to
figure how to pass through
the intertwined fenced mesh
of metal. Right and left it
flittered, down and half-way
up it flew, stopping short
of passing through.

I felt myself cheering this
moth on, silently encouraging,
strategizing from its perspective
on how to overcome this
flight path problem.

I felt if it would only land
on one of the chain link ties
and cross through one of the
holes and step forward it
could resume its flight.

I started to feel bad that
maybe this moth didn’t
have the cognitive ability
to problem solve in such a
way. I worried it might
flutter forever at this fence,
barred from the grassy
green on the other side.

Five minutes had passed and
the moth was still ricocheting back
and fro along the fence and I thought
it might be hopeless. The failing,
flailing insect doomed to die over
the rocky dryness of the train tracks.

A sharp breeze suddenly wafted
by and the moth was lifted high
aloft, up, up, up and up over
the fence and to the freedom of
the other side.

I cheered. A stadium of cheers
inside my head erupted. I looked
over to the field and saw the moth
now floating and flying over
the wild flowers in spring bloom.

Maybe everything will work
out after all, just not the way
it was planned.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


            The sidewalk was covered with papers, wrappers, plastic cups, cellophane, and dingy newspapers. It swirled around in the morning breeze and blew across my path. It was a mini-tornado of filth I had to try and dodge. It got me wondering about all that anti-littering propaganda that consumed the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, at least before being pushed to the wayside by the onslaught of HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns.

            I noticed a tremendous amount of filth and litter as I walked along the sidewalk toward my train this morning. It was everywhere and I couldn’t comprehend where the wheels on the anti-littering bus fell off. My generation was hounded by Woodsy the Owl and other Native American images begging us to keep our cities and parks clean by not littering. There where times when you couldn’t turn a corner without Woodsy’s big owl head staring at you with his giant dead eyes, hooting his message of not polluting so we can help keep America looking good.

            Weren’t the young people of today being force fed this pollution awareness information like I was? Aren’t there posters and teachers aides pushing the anti-littering rhetoric into the brains of America’s youth? Or have the big corporations finally hunted Woodsy and his kin to the point of extinction? Did they trap them in some secluded wooded cabin and force them to watch as everyone ate from Styrofoam containers and then threw it out the window?

            The tornado of dirt blew down the street as I walked by and I just had to shake my head. If I wasn’t in such a morning hurry I would have stopped to pick the larger bits of trash up. Unless it had dog poop on it, then I’m not touching it. But I still wondered where this generation had lost their way on the whole, “Don’t throw your garbage on the ground”, thing. It was shameful really.

            There just seems to be a lot of trash blowing around these days. I can’t really say if it’s more than what I remember from my youth. I just really noticed the abundance of it. My mother’s house is a prime example of the lack of concern some people show regarding their litterbug ways. She lives on a residential block but somehow, her front lawn is often littered with potato chip bags, candy wrappers and empty bottles; pop and beer bottles in fact.  It’s as if slobs just open their car doors and sweep the refuse out onto the lawn. It’s very annoying.

            I’ve had windshield flyers in my car for years after they were placed there by some unscrupulous business person rather than just toss them to the ground. It’s so ingrained in me to not litter that the very thought of just tossing a wrapper or paper on the ground is sickening. I think my generation were given electro-shock treatments as children as part of a littering aversion program. Then they erased our memories of the event and filled it with visions of the nuclear family.

            I’d like to see some new anti-littering material on TV and the internet. MTV could possibly step in with some more awareness programming and maybe have the Jersey Shore/Real World/Teen Moms casts get the word out about anti-littering along with their douchebag/double douchebag/teen sex messages. Couldn’t hurt to add that in right?

Please don’t print this out and then litter with it. C’mon, that wouldn’t be cool. Come back Woodsy the Owl, rise from your grave and stalk the littering living. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bad Coffee

            Gerald moved his bag off the seat next to him so others could sit down. It was the directive from the overhead automatic P.A. System on all the trains. Gerald wanted to be in compliance with the robotic voice from above. He wasn’t a rock the boat type. He hoped that by moving his bag the woman of his dreams would board the train and sit down next to him. After an awkward smiling exchange they would strike up a conversation about the trains and then they’d live happily ever after.

            Gerald sat up a little straighter in his seat, hoping his good posture would elicit some positive response from the potential female riders. Plus it hid his ever growing gut. There wasn’t anything he seemed able to do about it. His belly just kept growing. He wasn’t ashamed of it but he certainly didn’t feel he had the sex appeal of those six-pack sporting muscle heads in the terrible Affliction tee-shirts. He wasn’t sure why certain girls found those shirts attractive. He could understand the whole six-pack thing though. A woman, just like a man, wants to find the best possible mate to breed with and a guy with six pack abs has a better chance than his flab-pack abs. Flab-Pack abs weren’t all that attractive, but some women appreciated their cuddling factor.

            The train wasn’t very crowded this morning and much to Gerald’s chagrin, no potential Mrs. Gerald’s ever sat next to him. The train got to Gerald’s downtown station and he disembarked. He wasn’t in a hurry this morning and decided he could stop at the little coffee place by his office building and pick up a nice, fresh cup of Hazelnut coffee, instead of that murderous breakfast blend crud in the coffee room. He smiled at the thought of a good cup of coffee to start the day with. He entered the coffee shop and stood patiently in the long line of coffee starved customers.

            The line moved a little slowly, but it was moving. Gerald started to wonder if he did have time for that special cup. He only had eight minutes to get it, pay for it and get up to the 32nd in the building across the street. He might be cutting it a little close. But still, the allure of a good cup of coffee kept him in line. He was thinking about the exchange with the cashier, maybe he’d say something witty or maybe just play it cool and quick.

            Glass shattered outside and the line of customers turned to look behind them, toward the busy street. Gerald turned his head and looked with the rest of the customers in time to see a crowd of people start running past the windows, then more people, and shouting, and screaming. The ground started to shake and a picture fell off the coffee shop wall. Two of the in-line customers rushed toward the windows as Gerald took a step backwards toward the counter. Car alarms were blaring and Gerald could here fire trucks and sirens and horns blowing. There were more screams as the ground reverberated with a violent thud and several people went screaming past the coffee shop window. They were on fire and begging for help. Gerald took another step backwards and pressed against the counter.

            A horizontal column of fire exploded down the street and the coffee shop windows blackened and then exploded. Fire roared across the coffee shop ceiling and the coffee customers screams and fell to the ground. Gerald fell backwards over the coffee counter and ducked down next to a young barista who was praying in Spanish. Over head sprinklers came on and quickly doused the flames that licked across the ceiling and the tops of the other people in the coffee shop.

            Gerald poked his head up to eye level and looked through the heavy streams of water falling from the sprinklers. Cars and store fronts were all burning and smoldering as a giant flaming leg stepped forward in front of the coffee shop. The ground trembled and Gerald could see the flames dripping from a great height and sizzling on the sidewalk. Another leg swung into view and stepped further down the street. The building lunged and shook. The legs were molten, but solid, and clearly on fire. Gerald ducked his head back down behind the counter and suddenly knew how to pray in Spanish.

Monday, May 13, 2013


            Matt woke up on the couch around 8:00 in the morning. He was having terrible dreams about moths eating though all his clothes. The moths were hard to catch and looked more like folded bits of paper fluttering around in a strong breeze. They were chewing through every shirt and tee-shirt he owned and there didn’t seem to be anything he could do. Except wake up, which he did.

            He was disappointed to find himself on the couch. He’d wanted to make it into his bed at least once this weekend. He was always getting home too late from the bar, half in the bag, and falling asleep on the couch. He didn’t want to but it just seemed that his body had enough and wanted to shut off right where it was. At least he didn’t fall asleep in the bar. That was just not done.

            He checked the time on his phone to make sure he was as disoriented as he thought. It was just after 8:00 a.m. now.  Why did his body, so crazy tired a few hours ago, want to wake up now? He didn’t have to pee. He didn’t have any where to be. He just snapped awake. Like someone had flipped a switch. He sat up and felt a terrible stiffness in his elbow where he had apparently been lying on it. He extended his arm and tried to stretch it out. He stood from the couch and felt soreness all through his body. It was cold in the house. He’d left a window open and a very chilly spring breeze was blowing in. Matt moved toward the window and shut it and shivered a little.

            He shuffled slowly toward the kitchen and considered making something to eat, or maybe a cup of coffee, but that seemed like a lot of work for so early Sunday morning. He dragged his feet through the kitchen and stopped at the sink. It was filled with dishes yet to be loaded into the dishwasher. He hated that he’d gotten so lazy that he didn’t even want to bother with it. He thought about getting started on that chore, but was overwhelmed with not wanting to do it. He looked out the window that faced the back yard and thought that it would be nice to spend a quiet afternoon reading in his lawn chair out there. But that thought was once again quashed by just not feeling of just not wanting to do it.

            Matt turned from the window and shuffled back toward the living room. He remembered he did want a Coke and grabbed one out of the pantry as he passed by. He cracked it open as he shuffled and took a long satisfying drink. There was nothing like a room temperature Coke for a hang over. Matt moved back the couch and took up his usual sitting position. He turned on the TV that was over the fire place and started mindlessly flipping through the channels looking for something to watch. The History Channel never really failed him. After a few minutes he was hearing all about the undiscovered relics littered across the Great Plains left by Mezo-Americans. 

            A few moment later and Matt was drifting back to sleep. The quiet intensity of the narrator’s voice rocked Matt back to sleep like a lullaby and his chin dropped to his chest. He dreamed of cowboys and sun baked deserts. He felt himself carried along some dusty wagon trail through treacherous Indian Territory. He had a rifle. He rode fast. It was always twilight or dawn. Then the dream faded as Matt fell into a deeper sleep.

            Matt opened his eyes and took a long somewhat startled breath. He looked around him and realized he was again on the couch. He looked over at the wall clock and it was 1:30 in the afternoon. The History Channel was still on, some show about how aliens were building Aztec spaceships or something silly like that. Matt checked his phone, to see if there were any calls he missed or e-mails, or messages. Nothing. No one called, no one messaged him in any way. He put his phone down and grabbed his Coke on the end table next to the couch. He took a quick sip.

            “Damn it,” he muttered to himself.

            Matt put his Coke down and stood up from the couch. He felt stiffness in his back immediately from sleeping while sitting up. He stretched and reached up high above his head. He grunted and moaned like aging men do whenever they attempt some physical activity. Matt shuffled away from the couch and toward the bathroom. It was about time to move some things around in there. He took his phone with him because that’s what people do now. It seems perfectly acceptable to check the social media outlets while sitting on the throne these days. Matt remembered that he used to have magazines he took to the bathroom.

            Once done in the bathroom and caught up on the doings of all his Facebook and Twitter friends Matt felt completely alone. No pokes, or messages, or likes or anything. He looked out at his living room, so dusty and tired looking, and wanted new furniture. He wanted a new set up and was tired of how the couches sagged. He then blamed himself for the sagging since it was he who made them that way. Matt shuffled through the living room and back into the kitchen. He was hungry now but didn’t have much in the fridge to eat. He found a microwave tuna casserole thing and decided that would have to do until dinner time.

            Matt thought about getting something else for dinner. He thought maybe he could find the energy to go to the store and get his shopping done. He through about it while his tuna got micro waved. Matt shuffled back toward the living room and plopped back on the couch. He wasn’t leaving the house today. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hey Mom

Where’s my sweater?
Where’s my shoe?
Hey Mom, where’s
that shirt I like, you know,
the one.
Unzip me.
Wipe me.
Drive me.
Buy me.

Where’s the glue?
Where’s my crayons?
Do we have any bleach?
For the Experiment.

I don’t want to.
You can’t make me.
You don’t understand.
I’m in my room.

Why are we going?
Do we have to?
I locked the screen door
from the inside, now you have
to unscrew the hinges to
get into the house.

I threw up.
I peed the bed.
This is bleeding.
There’s so much snot
on my sleeve. Because
I was wiping my nose
with it.

I love you.
You’re funny.
I know you have
my nose.
Thanks for the jeans.
Thanks for the genes.

Happy Mother's Day, all you Mothers.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


            Amanda stepped out onto her balcony for the first time this year and breathed in the spring morning air. She had closed the balcony in November and just never went back out there until this morning. She’d been meaning to put her plants out and set her little chair back up, but time had just gotten away from her. It was so nice now to step out from the living room and feel the spring air wind its way through her hair and across her face.

            She took another deep breath and it felt clean. It was literally fresh air. It was so much better than the climate controlled air that forced its way through mutual vents and air flow systems of her condo. It always seemed a little musty to Amanda. She took another deep breath and leaned over the railing and looked out over the bustling streets below.

            It was Amanda’s first day of vacation and she wanted to enjoy it. She’d been cooped up in her little office at the museum for months it seemed. Preparing for the antiquities of China and India to be presented in the Museum was time consuming and the hours were often strange thanks to the time zone differences. When she was finally at home during those long few months she ate something and usually went right to bed. She vaguely remembered having a boyfriend when the whole procurement process started at the museum, but she didn’t recall what happened to him.

            “His name was… Andrew… something,” she asked the spring breeze.

            The breeze didn’t answer. It gently swirled through the balcony railing balusters and around her ankles. She looked down half expecting feathers to be twirling around her ankles. She realized she probably shouldn’t be wearing such a revealing nightgown out on her balcony. She was on the sixth floor from the street, but any wandering eye might be able to catch an up-skirt view.  She might end up giving a little Marilyn Monroe show if the wind blew a little harder.

            She stepped away from the railing and was about to step back into her condo but stopped herself.

            “No. I haven’t been out here forever. I want to enjoy it,” she said slightly defiantly.

            She stepped back toward the railing and looked back out over the city. She did hold her nightgown closer to her body though. She looked back out over the city as the morning sun kept climbing. She could see the green tree tops now blooming. She realized it had been a very long time since she’d actually seen the color green. She felt like she’d taken it for granted but now acknowledged how much she had missed it. There was something comforting in the greenery that spouted up across the urban landscape. The green broke up the hardscrabble grays and browns that made winter so austere.

            Amanda took another long breath and felt something like peace inside. Her stomach was calm. Her mind was clear. She thought about maybe walking down to the beach near-by and reading by the water. She might get a nice cup of coffee and some brioche at that little café down the street. Perhaps she could call Andrew Something and see what he was doing. Or perhaps not. 

            She looked back out over the streets and smiled.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013


            The small brick building, that was once a corner bar, was demolished in less than half an hour. It had sat empty for an unknown number of years and the windows were all boarded up. Advertising flyers for music events and movies from three years ago that had been plastered on the boarded windows were now ripped and crumpled with the rest of the debris. The lot now seemed much larger with the building all in rubble. The small work crew that had torn the building down were taking a break before beginning to scoop the old bricks and splinters of wood and metal piping. They had a little bulldozer set to start collecting the broken corpse of the building. A place that stood still as time marched forward.

            It was a one story building in height, but I felt there were probably more stories in it. I wondered about the building’s first days. The day when everything inside and out was brand new. I can imagine the pride the builders must have felt seeing their concept go from a drawing to reality. It wasn’t a magnificent structure like the Taj Mahal, destined to stand for all eternity as a monument to a lost wife. It was just a regular work a day building designed to carry out the basics. It must have been something to open the door for the first time and feel the excitement of possibility; the first business owner feeling the pride in the achievement of a dream.

            I can only assume it was a corner bar based on its design from the outside. It just seems like it used to be a bar. I get that sense about it. It seemed that fell it on hard times. Maybe the long time owner fell ill and since he never had time for a wife or children to carry the business on, it had to close. Maybe there was a family that did run it and the father or mother refused to allow their children a life slinging beer and booze. Perhaps they sent them to med school or became professors and never looked back at their humble corner bar beginnings and they let the bar simply close.

            I can imagine long summer nights in this corner bar; the regular crowd joking and listening and laughing with each other. I imagine it only had a radio for entertainment during its early days. Days when men wore suits everywhere and women didn’t want to go there. Maybe they got a TV and hung it up in a corner and the customers were witness to the amazing events of the last century. Maybe folks saw the Moon landing in there, mourned the loss of the Kennedys or Dr. King. I can only wonder what loves were gained or lost within that old building’s confines.

            Now the building is a pile of rubble baking in the late Spring sun. The bulldozer starts up and there’s a tremendous squeal of metal scraping brick as the parts of once was are moved toward what will be. The old makes way for the new; it is the way of things. There’s something in me that mourns for the building. It’s like there was a silent voice with a story to tell that never had its chance. I don’t know how long the building was closed for. It may have been closed so long that no one remembers its name. A forgotten tombstone of a long gone era. So consider this its eulogy; it was. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Them’s the Breaks

Reflected blurriness in a
spilled cup of coffee, dripping
and spreading over the
counter top. No fuzzy
paper towels to wipe up
the hot mess of  blackish
brownish fluid.

The scuff on the polished
shoe when the woman
with the three bags and
backpack tried to squeeze
her ample frame passed you
as you calmly moved toward
the exit. Her bustling body,
muscling like a bowling ball
through the morning commuters,
amidst interior protests from interior
monologues of annoyance and
her treating everyone like
they were white painted,
red necked bowling pins.

Hearing the last few seconds
of your favorite song, that takes
your memory back to the summer
when you were in love and wet
with passionate desire, but only
the last few, the final notated
few seconds before it’s swallowed
in the din of the world and the

Wondering why they all
looked at you funny and
whispered and snickered before
you discover the toothpaste
smear on your black pants in
the most inconvenient of

The conversation that
abruptly ends when you’re
near-by. The thing in your
shoe that’s tickling your sole.
The knee pain. The missed
haircut. The boring work.
The sleeplessness of thinking
about the boring work.
The missed fun. The forced
fun. The randomness of evil.
The randomness of good.
The new twitch in your hand
as you type. The nonsense.
The sense, common and uncommon.

The days do try us, to break us
against the mundane and petty
rocky coastline of life. To crack us
and feed on the gooey nectar inside
as it spills out on the sand.

Monday, May 6, 2013

All Stops on the Crane Line

            Brian stared out the bus window trying to get over the wave of motion sickness that fell over him as soon as the bus started lurching and jerking through the heavy downtown traffic. He was glad he’d found a seat. He thought if he was standing he would have likely thrown up all over that nice old lady at the front. The bus driver seemed bent on destroying everyone’s day before it even really began.

            The bus weaved in and out of traffic and accelerated too fast and stopped too hard. The brakes on the bus sounded like the screaming pleas of orphan children trapped inside the burning hulk of a sweat shop. It made Brian cringe. He took a deep breath and tried to erase that image from his mind, but with every tap on the brakes the screaming started again. Brian realized he was sweating.

            He thought he might be having an anxiety attack like he used to have as a student. The pressure his father put on Brian to excel was immense. During a sixth grade spelling be, with his father watching, Brian passed out while trying to spell the word, ‘excommunication’; which in his young opinion was a little bit too hard of a word for a sixth grade spelling bee. Brian’s father didn’t actually speak to him for two weeks after that.

            The bus continued to barrel down the streets as if the devil was chasing it. Brian could see that he wasn’t the only other person not exactly enjoying their morning commute. The faces of the other riders showed they too were in some amount of panic. There were some very serious white knuckle riders.

            The bus came to another very hard stop at a red light and finally someone had enough. A burly but aging man shouted from the back of the bus.

            “What the hell man? Are you trying to kill us? Drive normal”, shouted the man.

            The bus driver did not respond. Brian didn’t even think the bus driver heard the question or request. There was no acknowledgment or even a twitch of the right arm that Brian could see. The bus idled in place and things got very quiet. A blanket of nerves covered everyone on the bus, blocking any sound from penetrating. Brian looked out the window and saw the cross traffic signal turn from yellow to red.

            The bus jumped forward at the green light and all the passengers had to hold onto the seats and poles for their lives. There were audible cries and gasps and Brian realized he was clenching his teeth.

            “Hey! I said to slow it down man,” shouted the burly man from earlier.

            The man, dressed in Jeans and a White Sox jacket, started moving through the bus toward the driver. The bus swerved hard and the G-Forces pushed everyone to the left. The man stretched to reach a hand rail and almost fell to the ground. The rest of the passengers started to get upset and shout.

            “God Damn it man! What the hell”, said a business man.
            “What the hell,” yelled a business woman.
            “Aye, Aye, Aye, moron,” said a young college looking guy.

            Brian didn’t say anything. His stop was getting closer and he’d soon be off this bus and safe in his little cubicle. The cubicle, something he normally hated, but felt that this morning he’d be more than happy to spend some quality time in it.

            The bus’s brakes screamed again like chorus of damned children and the bus stopped hard. Brian felt his stomach roll forward in his body and he was almost lifted from his seat and then slammed backwards as the bus settled.

            “Jesus Christ man,” shouted another passenger.

            Brian’s stop was the next one. He started to feel the anxiety draining away. He would soon be off this crazy bus. The White Sox jacket wearing burly guy finally made it to the front of the bus and turned to say something to the driver. His face was flushed and Brian thought the bus driver was really going to get it from this guy. Maybe the White Sox guy might even punch him out. Brian hoped not, considering his stop was next. He just wanted to get to work.

            “Holy Mother of Christ,” said the burly guy as he backed away.

            The bus started moving forward again as Brian stood from his seat to pull the cord to request a stop. The burly guy looked back at the other passengers and just opened and closed his mouth. Brian stepped up toward him as the bus leaned hard to the right toward Brian’s requested stop. The burly guy looked at Brian in the face and then stepped aside.
The bus came to a hard stop and Brian moved toward the door. He didn’t look. He didn’t want to look. He didn’t want to know what the burly guy saw.

            The doors opened and Brian practically jumped off the bus. The doors slammed behind him and Brian turned around and looked back up at the driver through doors. The bus started to pull away from the curb and Brain saw the burly White Sox jacket guy stumble backwards toward his previous seat. Brian only caught a glimpse of the driver, but he didn’t see the face. There was no face. It was a headless bus driver still performing his duty.  Brian suddenly remembered Sleepy Hollow and then fainted to the sidewalk like the anxiety ridden sixth grader he’d always been inside.