Friday, October 30, 2015

Not the Haunting you were Expecting

                Steve stepped into the hallway off the bedroom. He yawned and scratched his right butt cheek as he walked. His bare foot stepped forward and slipped in a thick goo on the hardwood floor. Steve fell backwards and landed hard on his lower back in a puddle of greenish-yellow mucus.

                “Ah, what the hell,” he cried out.

                He carefully lifted himself up and turned on the hallway light. The floor was covered with a layer of thick disgusting snot-like slime.

                “What the…,” he said to himself.

                A strange laughter filled the house followed by what sounded like someone throwing up after a long party, which was then followed by more laughter, evil laughter.

                “Honey, are you okay,” asked Steve’s wife from the bedroom.
                “Don’t come out here babe. It’s ah….not…uh…safe…,” said Steve.

                Steve carefully stepped around the thick puddles and made his way downstairs. The living room and dining area were awash in greenish-yellow and brown smeared gunk. There were also empty bottles of beer and Steve’s tequila that he’d won at the bowling raffle two weeks ago was also open and empty. The cabinets were all open and there were Cheesy Snacks spilled all over the counters.

                “Oh Jesus,” said Steve as he moved toward the open kitchen door.  He slipped again in the mess on the floor but stayed on his feet.  He steadied himself in the doorway and blinked in disbelief. At the refrigerator, hovering in front of the open door was a ghost. A ghost right out of the cartoons, a ghost in a white sheet with two black holes for eyes, staggered backwards.

                “You’re… you’re outta, out of, the beer…dick,” slurred the Ghost and it vanished.

                Steve slid back against the kitchen doorframe to the floor. He made the sigh of the Cross across his chest and hugged himself. The relator told him this house had a strange past, but the price was so right he just didn’t even care. It was such a steal.

                “Holy Jesus,” shouted Steve’s wife, Miranda, from the hallway, “What is going on?”
                Steve stood up, steadied himself for his wife’s wrath, and went to the bottom of the stairs.

                “Honey, love of my life. I’m pretty sure our house is…haunted,” said Steve.
                “Haunted, haunted with what? This is just, just so much puke up here,” she said.
                Steve closed his eyes and shook his head. He remembered the Relator’s warning about the old Fraternity that used to rent the house. They got shut down when too many pledges and staff were dying from alcohol poisoning and some sort of hazing with goats. Steven rubbed his chin.

                “How are we going to clean this up, Steve,” shouted Miranda.
                “I’ll take care of it baby. You go ahead and get ready for work. I’ll… I’ll make a few calls,” said Steve.

                Miranda went to the bathroom and felt like she was in that completely illegal scene from Revenge of the Nerds when the Llamba’s broke into the girls dorm and illegally set up video cameras and started filming the female residents like some sort of deranged stalkers.  She couldn’t believe anyone in the 1980’s thought that was okay. It was such a violation of privacy. All those Nerds should have been arrested and sent to prison and then register as sex offenders when they finally were released. She cringed as she toweled off. She could swear she could hear a snicker from somewhere.

                She quickly dressed and headed back downstairs. Steve was trying to use a snow shovel to push the thick mucus off the kitchen floor.

                “I’ll be home by 7:00, all this,”  she pointed around the room “is gone when I come home or we’re leaving and never coming back.”
                “Yes my darling,” said Steve.

                Miranda left the house and couldn’t shake the creepiness of all those ghost eyes probably ogling her naked flesh. She shivered as she pulled the car out of the driveway and went on her way.

                Steve watched her pull away and he dropped the shovel. He got his cell phone and called his friend at the University.

                “It’s here Dave. Full phantasm activity… Yes… all over my damn house… it’s astounding. When can you come by because we only have until seven? Okay, okay…yeah…see you then.”

                Steve hung up the phone and went upstairs to get dressed and to rewind the home surveillance footage for Dave to watch.

                Dave rang the bell a half hour later and Steve jumped when the bell rang. He had been watching the footage of something stumble through his house, knocking things over, clumsily setting them back, throwing up on everything. He was astonished and he knew now for sure that there was an afterlife.

                “Dave, you’re not going to believe this,” said Steve as he brought him upstairs to watch the video.

                Dave pushed his glasses back on his nose as he watched the ghost. The ghost didn’t always have a form, but there was almost always a Pabst Blue Ribbon in its hand, or floating in the air, occasionally spilling a little. There was also footage of the fully formed ghost, just as Steve had seen in the kitchen, just stopping and staring off into nothing, then throwing up giant streams of puke all over.

                “This, we can’t go public with this,” said Dave.
                “What? Why not?!”

                Dave pointed at the screen as the Ghost bumped into an end table and then threw up on it.

                “I’m not attaching my name to the Vomit Ghost,” said Dave.
                “What?! C’mon man, this is definitive proof of life after death,” said Steve.
                “No, it’s proof of a dead frat boy, drunkenly vomiting on everything. That’s not exactly proof of anything other than drunken douche-bags turning into ghosts. Can you imagine the fraternities that would have ghost pledges if this video ever got out?”

                Steve sat back in his chair and thought about it. It was still proof life after death but, what kind of life was it. He looked up at the screen to see the Ghost attempting to light a cigarette on the stove, but then get dizzy, stumble backwards into the cabinet and throw up.

                “Okay, maybe you’re right. Maybe this isn’t the best proof of life after death,” said Steve.
                “Yeah, let’s just exorcise this joker and we’ll chalk it up to a creepy experience and forget about it,” said Dave.

                Steve nodded and followed Dave going room to room performing a blessing and the Exorcism rights.

                “NooooOOOooooOOO, BrooooOOoooOoo,” said a disembodied voice as they moved around the house.

                Dave and Steve ignored it and continued the blessings until every room was clear. The last they heard of the Vomit Ghost was a very faint, “You suuuuuUUuuuuuUUUccccKKKkkk BroooOOOooo….,” before completely training off and vanishing.  

                “I think Miranda will be happy,” said Dave.
                “Yeah, she might not turn me into a ghost now. So, I’ll see you Tuesday for our meeting,” asked Steve.
                “Yup, see you then,” said Dave.

                Dave left the house and Steve checked each room for any trace of the Vomit Ghost. He didn’t find any more puke puddles or hear any drunken stumbling.  He went to the couch and sat down. He turned on the TV and started watching a Ghost hunting show.

                “Pshht, lame,” said Steve.

                                                   HAPPY HALLOWEEN Dearest readers!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Long Walk on a Dark Street

The screams on the wind
swirl through the darkened
neighborhood streets and
corridors of deceit.

Was it a cat?
Was it a cry?
Was it a woman?
Was it a guy?

The hair on your neck is
at attention, you shiver
and shake as you peek
into the moonless night.

Who is there?
Who could it be?
What do you want?
What do you need?

Nothing there, but the
cold wind, rustling the
leaves in the trees, a dying
chorus of awful applause.

Such a noise.
Such a sound.
Such a night.
Such a fright.

A raging wind, angry
with panic, carries more
moans and cries, more
sorrows and pains.

Oh my.
Oh Dear.
Oh heavens.
Oh no.

A pulled up collar and a
bundled coat are no defense
for the chilling, echoing
terrors of a Halloween night. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween House Guide

A Jack O’Lantern’s face,
carved with a terrible
sneering leer, quivers
and shimmies from the
backlit flicker of a candle’s

The steps are damp with
the autumn leaf harvest
and a light chilling misty rain
falls. The plastic black cat, locked
in a perpetual scowling hunch,
is the warning.

A skeleton, hung on the door,
hollowed eyes staring vacantly
at the approaching ghouls and
goblins, a toothy yet goofy,
grin on  its bony skull, but
ready to chomp on the cowardly few.

The orange lights, strung about,
casting a golden hue of Fall on the
small cowboys and ballerinas,
minions and monsters, Elsas and
robots.  Each one ready, through their
fear, to shout a familiar phrase said every year.

Night comes quickly and goes
too fast for the seekers of sweets
on All Hallows Eve. Each house is a
challenge, a fright or a bore,
depending on, who comes to the door.
A mommy, a mummy, a monster or Dad,
or no one at all, and that seems bad.

Some houses are scarier than
most, there’s something about them,
that’s evil and morose. Parents avoid them
and babies cry passing by, it’s that
house with the crazies or the one lonely

No tricks, no treats, no decorations to
speak of, just dark and unholy, melancholy
and dismal. It’s broken and tired and left so
alone. But one night a year it fits just right,
as the creepy house on the corner, that’s
somehow always empty but always lit.

Hideous ghosts of the past lurk in
there, creaking the floorboards,
and slamming the doors, they are
envious of your flesh and want it
for their snack. So if I were you,
I’d stay back.

Stick with the carved pumpkin faces,
the jolly psychos and smiling zombies,
the well-lit porches and bowls of candy,
stay clear of the dark house, the one
with the frown, it might swallow you
whole and drag you down.

If you’re brave though, and think it’s all
a fake, there’s nothing to fear, no vampires
to stake. Then by all means go up those
steps, ring the bell and tempt Hell.
You might be the trick, and the treat,
for what dwells inside collecting souls to eat.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Three Million Man

                The computer read-out flashed a new number across the heads up display. 2,999,997 was just three shy of the three million man mark.  The battle armor machine robotically trudged across the old streets of Chicago; over the burning ash and remnants of what was.  The machine’s eight foot tall stature and thick layers of aging steeluride plating lumbered toward the next kill zone. Inside, Hap 759 stared ahead with dead eyes at the destruction. He scanned the computer assisted holographic interface. He mechanically operated the walk controls while simultaneously keeping a look-out for the rebels. He’d done it for 10 years. He didn’t really need to think about it. He was focused on the last three.  He would be the first Razor Knight of the new age to reach three million and he wanted it.

                Hap 759 paused the giant robot and took an environment reading.  The air was putrid with rot but was breathable still. So many people had been crushed under the new War Masters in the New Age of Man. It seemed hard to believe that people had once gone to the moon and now they barely eked out an existence hiding from the Razor Knight Corps. People were vermin and they needed to be eradicated, especially the rebels and their cries of human decency and something about unalienable rights. It made Hap 759 laugh, if he knew how to laugh. He’d never really learned since he was dropped in his razor knight I-4200 as soon as he could be hard wired into the main network.   

                The motion warnings lit and Hap 759 turned his Razor Knight around. His sensors picked up the faint traces of a human moving through the rubble. Small clouds of gray ash were kicked up and left lingering in the sour air. Hap 759 tracked the human form as it moved across the dilapidated downtown structures. It was moving quickly, it was likely a small human, a child. No matter to Hap 759. He was ordered to cleanse this quadrant and he would follow his orders without fail. He stepped forward and the giant legs of the death machine started toward the scurrying human.

                “Three more kills,” thought Hap 759. Three more kills and he would be awarded the Magna Cross and would be able to enter his first breed cycle. He’d heard the breed cycle was only for the best of the best and it was an honor to be chosen and granted access to the Holy Number.

                He trudged forward, hoping the little human would lead him to other humans and make it easy for him to reach the three million mark. Hap 759’s proximity sensors sounded to his left and he made a quick scan of the area.

                “Tactical display,” said Hap 759 and his war grid activated over his eyes.

                He could see the one human he had been tracking was standing still on top of an out of production Armega Drone. The human was pointing at something. The human was point straight up into the air. Hap 759 angled the Razor Knight and looked up. It was a difficult task in the hulking metal machine. He looked up just as a concrete block dropped off a building above him. Hap 759 quickly activated the evasion protocol and his boosters came on-line. He started his leap to the right. It was too easy to avoid. He was actually startled when another giant block of concrete and steel swung out from the corpse of a burned out building to his right, directly into his escape path program.  He attempted to adjust his controls to gain altitude but the block overhead came crashing down onto his leg, knocking him to his robot knee. The block on his right then smashed into his front and he was doubled over from the weight.

                Hap 759 did not panic. He was trained for this. He was skilled in Warcraft. The Razor Knight was stronger and tougher than concrete blocks. The humans were only delaying the inevitable. He activated his shoulder mounted 100 caliber saw rifle and began firing at the concrete blocks, chipping and breaking them into dust. He turned to the block on his leg and smashed through it with the Razor Knight’s powerful arm. The debris was strewn all over. Hap 759 re-engaged his human target, but his heads up display no longer showed the little vermin in the area. Hap 759 started to reacquire a standing stance when his contact alarm started sounding. His computer directed exo-shell alerted Hap 759 there was an explosive device attached to his Razor Knight.  Hap 759 activated the exterior shield and surface rumblers but the explosive device did not detach.

                Hap 759 looked for a structure he could smash against to dislodge the electro-magno-bomb from his armor shell. The humans had distracted him with the blocks and the little one, the one that scurried, had managed to stick the device to him. He located a suitable structure that could knock the device off and he started for it. It was too late. The electro-magno-bomb detonated and Hap 759 was blown up into the air through the gravity well shockwave. His Razor Knight exploded out and his arms, his real arms, were exposed to the air for the first time in 10 years. Hap 759 was unfamiliar with the feeling he was having. It was an out of control, worried, sweating feeling. He was scared for the first time.

                His giant death robot spun in the air before tumbling back to the surface. The electro-Magno was pulling his machine back down at a high rate of speed. Hap 759 tried to activate the emergency defense systems but they would not come on-line. His power reserves were not functional. He looked through the cracked display and felt the rush of air, a truly new feeling, flowing through his armor. Hap 759 smashed into the broken ground and a giant plume of smoke and ash flew upwards. It was like a technological volcano had erupted sending tons of electronics into the air. The suit exploded in a blue fire ball. Hap 759’s torso was thrown out of the machine and he came to rest at the feet of the small human. The display chip over his eye blinked, 2,999,997 and then faded out.

                The small human brushed the ash off her face and took out a small knife. She lifted the butt of her weapon and carved a small hash mark into the stock.

                “That’s five,” she said.

                The smoke drones started gathering above her head.

                “Christiana,” shouted one of the elders, and he motioned for her to follow him into the underworks.

                She kicked Hap 759 and ran off to join the other survivors.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Victorian Sort of Madness

Mason morosely muddled
about the mansion, making
mournful moans and muttering
madness over the missing
Madam Marguerite.

Marguerite, sweet Marguerite,
making her way across the misty
moors, must have meandered
and made a mistake. The
muddy marsh murdering her.

The men made a search but the
mist was too much and Madam
Marguerite was lost to the mud.
Many years moved by and
Mason still mourned.

His message of mutual matching
love made her marathon to
his side only to become embroiled
in the mysteries of Mason’s Manor
and muddy marshes.

A mourning soul possessed Mason
many a morning and he was unable
to muster any movement from his
mattress. He was too murdered by
the muddy marsh at Marguerite's loss.

He made a mandate for all the great
men of magic and mystery to make
his mansion their home and make
his Marguerite manifest through the
marble of death.

The magicians said Mason could have
her back. Through mystic forces and
modest monetary machinations, they
made voodoo, mumbo-jumbo and medieval

His Marguerite never reappeared. The mystics
made no manes  and Mason molded  
into the mortar of his mansion , forever
making eyes at the marsh that swallowed
Madam Marguerite. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Anniversary Blog! Happy Five Years to Me!!!!!!

                This marks my 870th posting and marks the five year anniversary of A Minute with Michael on BlogSpot. (It’s a different anniversary and number for the WordPress site but, meh.) I’m not sure it’s the cultural and artistic milestone I had always hoped it would be but it’s still pretty nice.  If you do the math (which I have) you could read one poem, story or essay of mine every single day for 2.38198106 years. So rounding up, I’ve conquered the literary world in two years and should probably retire while on top. But no, I’m trying to make it to that ever illusive 1,000 posting mark. In my opinion, that shows a true dedication to honing my passion. 

I certainly do have a ton of work on this site.  It’s not always great I’ll admit, some of the stories miss the mark or the poems don’t exactly convey the real emotional content I was trying to dig out, but overall, it’s very representative of the type of writing I love. It’s also rather impressive for me to have kept it up so long. I just love stories that fire the imagination into realms of “what if” and “why not” or, “is that thing going to eat my face”. It gets me excited to pen a clever poetic turn of phrase. I love having my soapbox to air my disgruntled ramblings. I don’t know where I’d be without it.

When I started this in 2010 I had dreams of being lauded as the new “Great American Poet” or “Great American Short Story Writer” or “Hey look, it’s that guy.” But as time passed I realized the important thing was finding my voice, having a clear point of view and being humble if anyone said they actually read and enjoyed what I had written. My dreams of being on the University talk circuit, discussing my work and signing autographs on the chests of impressionable college girls, have faded with time a bit. I know that even with the body of work I have; I still have a long way to go. It’s respect that I want as a writer more than anything now. Fame, celebrity, money (Well a little money would be nice to be honest) was never the real goal but there was always a certain appeal if it did happen for me.  I mean, who doesn’t want their shot at mild immortality, right?

 I know I get a little crabby at times when I don’t feel like I’m being recognized for the outpouring of imagination or emotion I put into this blog, but I hope no one takes it personally. It’s a lonely life as a dreaming writer and it can get pretty tough to keep going when you’re not sure if anyone is actually reading your entertainment product, and if they’re enjoying it.  I think it’s quite an accomplishment for me since I have gone through so much personal growth while trying to maintain this blog. So whenever I do get a little recognition it always feels like a warm hug on a cold day.  (But don’t touch me in person unless I initiate contact or you feel we’ve reached that level of comfort with each other. I don’t want random huggings. It’s a figurative representation of what it “feels” like.)

I have always welcomed criticism, positive or negative, of my work and in most cases it has helped me to grow and evolve as a writer.  I didn’t have a formal education in writing other than my Catholic School education and two writing classes at two different colleges. So it’s always an experience to hear from people about my work. I think it’s grand to hear from all types of readers and explore with them what they liked or didn’t like about my writing. I always want to know what it made them feel, what it reminded them of or if it expanded their imagination in some way. I think the best writing is one that slightly challenges what is normal and formulaic, even if it works within that formalized structure.

Whatever the hell that means.   I digress, I’m just happy to have had this opportunity to write for you, and for me. I really do it because I want you and me to have a story time experience together.  I want you to feel what I feel in some way or see the world in a different sort of way, either through my eyes or that of a character.  I need to write like some people need to exercise three hours every morning or use heroine or travel. All of which I don’t do but I value the experiences for those people, much like I hope people value the effort and sheer passion I put into these posts. (Well, maybe not the heroine use. I’m not sure that’s an enviable experience.)

I’d like to thank the people that have really supported me and encouraged me to keep going over these last five years. I know they may not always “get it” in the poems or stories or might know me in person and describe me as “a good person, but difficult at times. Weird, but not a real creepy weird.” I sincerely appreciate the patience, the good will, the good fortune, the kindness, the honesty and the occasional kisses on the cheek. I hope I’ve brought some smiles, some insights, some joy, some fear, some sadness and recognition of the stories that reside in all of us.  We all have stories to tell, we do it every day and I find it endlessly fascinating.  

I hope you’ll stick with me as this journey continues and we discover new realms of imagination together. I deeply thank you for following me and generously sharing a small part of your day with me.

Thank you,


Next week – More Halloween themed stories and poems! Hang on to your Jack O’Lanterns!

Also, my book of 200 poems is still available:  - Get the paperback! The Kindle doesn’t quite work.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Terrors of Exaggerated Ambition

Aggressive ambition is one of the
most frightening things
I have ever had to bear
witness to.  It’s terrifying.
I’m chilled by it.

I’ve seen bloody  Jack O’Lanterns
that were less menacing than
a person’s blind ambition and
desire for successful recognition
above everything else.

They want the money,
they want happiness,
they want success,
they want love,
without knowing what those
things are really about or worth.

It’s spine tingling how
much, how badly, they want
it. I’m happy with a modicum
of success and it warmly sustains
me for weeks, months even.

The monstrously ambitious, it’s
never enough. They’ll suck the
marrow from the bones before
the body is dead, like a vampire
with a Carpe Diem tattoo.
They’re hooked on a life spent in
pursuit of cheating  death.

As moderates, we know, we die.
It can’t be helped (unless medical
science is like, “Hey, Live Forever
Pills, on the market!) Which my
insurance probably wouldn’t cover.
Death doesn’t scare me as much as fiery
ambition does.

The ambitious, their uncompromising
desire for success trumps any unconditional
love they could have had. They project
their desires for success onto  others and
wonder, “Why aren’t they as motivated as
I am? They must suck at life, while I am
clearly killing it.”

Only true monsters believe they’re
above judgment, above reproach,
above considering the issues or
troubles of the mildly ambitious.
They choose not to empathize because
it might de-rail their own ambitions.

Human kindness, understanding,
are weaknesses for the ambitious.
Worse than a Wolfman, Frankenstein’s
Monster, The Mummy, or Xenomorphs
is any ability to be patiently understanding.
Patience is the terror of the ambitious. 
Which makes them a terror for me.

“Bla, Bla, I vont us to start investing
in saving for a trip to Mexico after ve get
back from our hang-gliding adventure, bla!
I vill just have to reschedule zee meetings I
have vit de neighborhood association and
zee dog sitter service, bla, bla!” – Ambitious
Vampire voice.

Nightmares scare me less.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Funny Thing About Time

                The machine whirred and sparked. It shook the ground and the white sterile walls of the institute’s laboratory. Doctors and Professors held their while lab coats tight around them as the machine kicked up a strong twisting wind. The control room was buzzing with excited chatter as the machine started to phase in and out of time and space.

                “Doctor Patel, it’s starting to happen,” said a lab assistant as he pointed at his computer screen.

                Dr. Patel leaned on the back of the assistant’s chair to steady himself against the aggressive rumbling of the whole building. The machine in the far room, the time machine, was turning into a white hot ball of plasma fury as it started to bend space time. The lab was starting to warp and gravity was losing its tenuous grasp on things.

                “Are we at full capacity,” asked Dr. David Patel.
                “Yes sir. Nineteen point seven five on the track, computer is at full,” said Dr. Mary Fallstrom.    
                “Excellent,” said Dr. Patel.

                General Connors stood back against the far wall of the control room. He put his sun glasses on to shield his eyes from the ever brightening glow of the machine. He put his hand in his pocket and felt for the St. Christopher Medal his wife had given him on their wedding day. It was the only good luck charm he believed in.

                The lab continued to rumble and particles of white dust dropped from the ceiling and walls. The lights in the lab constantly flickered and shook.

                “Clear the lab area. Repeat, clear the lab area. Non-Essential personnel to leave the lab area,” announced the automated safety message.

                “Sir, we’re ready for maximum power,” said Dr. Patel. He looked at Dr. Fallstrom and she nodded.
                “Then let’s do it. And may God have mercy on our souls,” said General Connors.

                The lab assistant, Jimmy, entered the last sequence into the main computer and then held onto the edges of his work station. He wasn’t sure what was really going to happen but he was super excited that his college loans would be paid off in less than two weeks thanks to his volunteering for this secret project.

                The machine burped out a plume of purple plasma and sparks started flying about the lab. The air was being sucked out of the lab and Dr. Patel could swear it sounded like someone was sucking on a straw in an empty drink cup.  The smell of sulfur and pine seemed to reach his nose and he turned his face from the blinding light of the machine. The moving parts were now spinning too quickly for the human eye to track.

                “One hundred and thirty-five percent Doctor,” yelled Jimmy over the noise.

                Dr. Patel nodded and looked at Dr. Fallstrom. She was holding her dress down under her lab coat with one free hand; almost absently as she stared into the bright light of the machine she’d help create.  He smiled at her.  The noise in the control room was a mix of white noise and a grinding of the machine’s massive motors and gears. It was now impossible to hear anyone talking, even through the head sets.

                The machine lurched in the lab and a blue orb of massive size enveloped the machine. Thunder pealed and lightening tore through the lab bouncing off the sterile walls. The machine lurched again and a wave of plasma shot out in all directions and then the machine was pulled into a vortex underneath. The machine flickered and then vanished into the portal.

                The noise stopped. The wind was gone. The regular computer controlled environment returned to normal. Jimmy looked up at his monitor.  It was beeping steadily.

                “It’s gone,” said Jimmy.

                Dr. Patel straightened himself and looked up through the control room window onto the lab floor. The lab was a mess but the machine was gone. It was pulled through time just as Dr. Fallstrom had said it would be.

                “Mary, we did it,” said Dr. Patel as he smiled.
                “Where is it? Where did it go,” asked Dr. Fallstrom.

                She moved toward the control panels. General Connors took off his sun glasses and touched his face. It felt as if he’d been sunburned. He looked around at the other people in the control room and saw they were all sunburned in various ways. 

                “Dr. Patel,” said General Connors.

                Dr. Patel looked at the General. The General pointed as his own face with a circular motion and then pointed at the rest of the control room staff.

                “Heh, sunburned,” mused Dr. Patel.

                Dr. Fallstrom had a pencil in between her teeth as she typed at the control station. It was an old college habit to have a pencil between her teeth as she worked, although she couldn’t remember the last time she had actually used a pencil to write anything down.

                “There,” she said, “it’s moving forward in time at an amazing rate, but we can’t seem to get any data. The machine is there, but, it’s not. It’s almost as if…it were still in the lab.”
                “Isn’t that what we predicted,” asked Dr. Patel, “the machine could be both gone and still here, we just wouldn’t be able to see it anymore?”
                “We warped time and space so really, we didn’t know what would happen. It’s never been done before,” said Dr. Fallstrom.

                The control room was silent aside the computers and lab equipment. The doctors looked at each other as if trying to come up with something to say. They shrugged at each other and looked up toward the giant head looming over their existence.  They shrugged again.  The giant face on the giant head raised his eyebrows and the giant shoulders also shrugged.

                “Writing a time travel story is hard okay,” said the giant head.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Neighborhood Code

                “Holy cow Johnny, don’t be such a wuss,” said Edgar as he shoved Johnny in the back towards the front door. Johnny shrugged Edgar off and started up the long crumbling stone steps toward the Old Anderson Mansion. The Old Anderson place was a shadow of its former Victorian glory and had frankly been the eyesore of the entire Kennebunk neighborhood for years. It was terribly dilapidated and was scheduled to be demolished.

                “Go man, c’mon…go,” egged Edgar.
                Johnny tossed his empty beer can into the long grass that rustled in the night winds. He looked back at Edgar and flipped him the bird.

                “I’m going, nerd,” said Johnny.

                Johnny knew the stories about Old Mrs. Anderson and the curse she placed on the neighborhood. She said that as long as her house stood undisturbed the neighborhood would be spared the horrors of blight and destitution. But if the house were to be removed or torn down, then hell would come to Kennebunk.  Mrs. Anderson was a crazy old philanthropist who went to too many seances and spiritualists and believed she could protect her mansion from beyond the grave. It was clear her curse was a joke since the neighborhood had indeed fallen into destitution and blight, along with prostitution, drugs, alcoholics, wife beaters, work-out equipment in the driveways, oil drum fires, and all the other classic stereotypical visuals of a poor neighborhood. Mrs. Anderson’s curse was a joke. Most of the old neighborhood types had taken to spitting through the iron fence onto the mansion’s scraggly lawn.

                Johnny stepped up to the old ornate oak front door and took a deep breath. He looked at the orange sticker on the door, notifying any possible occupants that the house was scheduled to be demolished in two days.   He burped a little and looked back at Edgar. Johnny and Edgar, friends since childhood, had been drinking for most of the day. Johnny had won a scratch off lottery ticket for two hundred and fifty bucks so they were having a day/night on the town. They were at Matteo’s bar, which used to be Kennedy’s Bar until 2008, before getting kicked out for trying to get the waitress Clarita to make out with Edgar. So while wandering the streets Edgar got the bright idea that they should break into the Old Anderson Mansion before it got torn down.  

                “Are you going to knock,” asked Edgar and he laughed.
                “Shut up. I’m going…,” said Johnny.

                Johnny did knock. Shave and a haircut. He looked back at Edgar and laughed like a drunk. Edgar laughed too and tried to light a cigarette. Johnny turned back to the door and pushed against the old wood and to his surprise the door opened without much struggle.

                “That was easy,” said Johnny as he stumbled back from the open doorway. He shrugged and started to walk inside the old mansion. Edgar called for him to wait up and he bounded sloppily up the steps and followed Johnny inside, like he always had.  They walked into the dark foyer and heard the crunch of old leaves and paper under their feet. They had both lived in the neighborhood their entire lives but they never had the courage to break in to the old place until now. Even though the people spit on the lawn, there was an unwritten rule about breaking in. You just didn’t do it. There were never even any squatters in the place. The reputation of it being a haunted house kept most homeless and druggies away.

                It was said by the old timers in the neighborhood that if you went into the house uninvited, Mrs. Anderson would be quite displeased. Johnny had heard their stories about headless corpses being found on the fringes of the property and how stray dogs and cats, and even rats wouldn’t go inside the place. But the house and Mrs. Anderson had to feed. They had to feed in order to keep the neighborhood strong. Johnny had always dismissed it as stupid nonsense, something to scare the kids away; which seemed to work.

                “If I had known it was so easy to get in here we would have done it years ago,” said Johnny as he nudged Edgar.
                “Yeah,” said Edgar as he looked around in the dark.

                They stepped forward toward the old parlor and fumbled through the dark. Edgar took out his Zippo lighter and held it up over his head to light their way.  The room flickered, bathed in the yellow fire light. There was still some furniture and random books strewn about. Leaves and moss covered the ground and the house had a greenhouse smell, mulched and composted. It was warmer in the house than outside. The cool fall night hadn’t crept in.

                “Good insulation in this place,” said Johnny.
                “Yeah, it’s almost, warm,” said Edgar.
                “I gotta pee,” said Johnny.
                “Me too.”

                They laughed at each other and continued to stumble through the house, absently looking for a bathroom in a house that was built before indoor plumbing was standard. They didn’t notice that the front door closed quietly behind them.

                “Where do you think the bathroom is,” asked Edgar as he stumbled into a stack of old boxes.
                “Watch out man,” laughed Johnny,” do you want to wake up Old Mrs. Anderson?”
                “Oooh, I bet she was hot. I’d wake her up alright,” said Edgar as he grabbed his crotch and gyrated his hips forward.
                Johnny laughed and the two found their way into the dining room. It was once a beautifully paneled room with crystal chandeliers and an elegant dining table for 20. It was now covered in wood rot and the lighting was gone.  It looked like a room that had been crying for 70 years.

                Johnny kicked up some of the wood debris that had fallen to the floor and looked at Edgar.

                “Must have been one hell of a room,” said Johnny.
                “Yeah,” said Edgar, “I’m gonna pee in the corner over there.”

                Johnny nodded and took the lighter from Edgar and looked around the rest of the room. He saw the old kitchen doorway and could have sworn the swinging door was actually swinging.

                “Did you see that door move,” asked Johnny.

                There was no response from Edgar. Johnny turned toward the corner where Edgar went to pee.

                “Edgar? Edgar? What the hell man,” said Johnny.

                Edgar was gone. Johnny walked toward the far wall of the dining room calling for Edgar but there was no response. He looked all around the ground for any sort of floor collapse or holes that Edgar could have fallen through. There was nothing, the floor was solid. The kitchen swinging door was flung open and a hot wind roared into the dining room. Johnny staggered backwards and the Zippo’s flame licked the sides of his hand. He cried out and dropped the Zippo to the floor. He bent down quickly to pick it up and re-light it. He flicked the flint and the flame cleared the darkness. He looked up past the flame. Her face was right in front of his, Mrs. Anderson, like a porcelain doll, white smooth skin and black soulless eyes.

                “Your friend did wake me. But not in the way he intended,” smiled Old Mrs. Anderson.

                She reached out and pulled Johnny’s head off before he could scream.

                In the weeks that followed, the house remained standing. Any demolition equipment that came to tear the house down would mysteriously break down or the weather wouldn’t cooperate. Strange fires would break out around the job site or the mud around the property would get so thick the workers couldn’t step through it to get to the old mansion. Eventually the demolition contractor just had to move on to a new job and the house stayed where it was, untouched.  The rose garden started to bloom in the yard. A Whole Foods was opening near-by and the workout equipment disappeared from the driveways. The streets got cleaner and jobs in the neighborhood started booming. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Clean Break

A clean break,
a fresh start,
a new beginning,
leaving it all

It might be hard,
to let it go, since
there’s such simple
but it has to be

Or you’ll never grow.
And never really let go.
Or let them go,
and let them grow.

A fresh start means something
was stale,
A new beginning means
something old ended,
with emotional flotsam & jetsam
churning in the wake.

You can only watch it sink,
you can’t dive in and save it
or collect it or only pick the
parts you want, it’s gone,
sinking to the bottom, out
of reach. All of it.

If you want it clean,
then you have to sterilize
it all. No going back to
pick the scab, or scrutinizing
where the cord was cut.
You made the choice.
You made the rule.
It’s your code.

You have to live with it.
You can’t have both,
the choice and the
people.  You made the
choice, now stick with it
and give up the people.

A clean break is
only clean if the broken
bone does not damage the
surrounding tissue or
tear through the skin.

My skin was torn,
my tissue was damaged,
I did what you asked,
I abide your choice,
I don’t know why you can’t.

Make it clean,
or take considered and
thoughtful  care to
mend it.
This is your life, dude.