Thursday, April 23, 2009

Top 10 Stories

Hey everyone. Thanks for checking back, been awhile. I’ve just added a list of my top ten stories. So check out the sidebar. If you’re new, it’s the place to start. And if you’ve been here before, dig these again. And of course, thanks for reading my stuff.


Monday, March 9, 2009

A Blog Post

Fifty-two pieces in fifty-two weeks. It's been a whole year. I'm taking a break. Not from writing, just from this blog. Just for a while. I have some other things I'm working on. Please check back from time to time for updates. Maybe more stories. And thank you for reading my stuff. Hate to get soft, but it means a lot to me. Take it easy.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Can You Hear The Singing? Sounds Like Gold

There he was, smoking a cigarette in the cold. Thirty five degrees but with the wind chill, something like seventeen. No jacket, no sweater. No coat. Only a long-sleeved flannel shirt, rolled to the elbows. And he flicked closed the rusted, wick lighter and he blew smoke out his nose.

“That’s him. Aw shit. That’s totally him.”

“Who? Where?”

“Right there, smoking. Oh man, that’s him.” I was losing my shit.

He looked around. No eye contact with anyone, barely anyone for eye contact. And then, she wasn’t standing next to me. She was right in front of him. Shaking hands. He gave her a cigarette. She walked right over and bummed a cigarette. From him. Like asking Bill Gates to spare a dime. Like asking God to give a damn.

In the dark, I watched. I waited. My tickets in hand.

* * *

A casual music fan, I am not. When dropping coin enough to see a show—and in the age of Stub-Hub legalized scalping, that can be several coins—I expect a show. What I don’t expect, listening to a crew of drunks run their mouths—this is not a bar. Listening to a couple poseurs chat it up, just here for bragging rights. Listening to a few kids who don’t know shit about rock and roll as they talk through a set. Their mommies—holding car keys—gossip in the row behind. I am not a casual music fan. And casual music fans I do not suffer.

Cell phones sounding off.

Grooving hippy dancers. Feeling vibes.

That prick yelling, “Play Free Bird!”

At one show, a mother held her baby’s arms—barely old enough to stand—and danced around the pit. This until security interrupted. Said she’d have to pop some ear plugs in the kiddie. My thought: If you can afford concert tickets, you can afford a babysitter. Me, I can’t afford distraction.

* * *

Onstage later, he wore the same flannel shirt from the alleyway. I had asked for the cigarette butt she’d bummed. She called me disgusting. I had reached down to grab his butt. Her look froze me and caused second thoughts. But later, in the concert hall, what did that matter.

A few power chords before the drums kicked in, steady behind. Until the first chorus when the bass and lead guitar joined and the keyboardist started messing around. That was when I grabbed my pipe.

One hit, deep and held onto. A quick spark of my disposable lighter. Exhaled upward and I pass it to her.

And from thin air. Like how a near-death experience must look. I see nothing but brightness.

Right there, flashlight in my eyes, a black-shirted security guard. Myself, hands in the air, like don’t shoot. The goon stares me down for a few beats too long. He looks hard. I look high.

And this at a rock show. A full-grown man can’t smoke a bowl. Because somewhere, there’s a baby with earplugs.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Day In Haiku

7:05 am
Between toes it seeps.
Like oatmeal with hair: cat sick.
Me, more a dog guy.

9:12 am
Coffee pot near dry.
Office rules: Kill it, fill it.
Have a smoke instead.

1:47 pm
A scotch with my lunch.
Many—a lunch with my scotch.
Next,fake productive.

5:20 pm
Cars for days, rush hour.
Springsteen on the radio.
Tramps like me, stillborn.

10:02 pm
Wife says she’s on rag.
Same excuse was used last week.
Jerk in sink, goodnight.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blossoming All Over

Legs or breasts, he asked me.

And I said, you mean like dark meat or white?

No, he said, what I mean is, are you a dude who digs the strong thighs, solid calves? Or a full set of titties? Every guy, he said, every guy is one or the other.

And I said, neither. Really, have to pick something, guess I’m an ass man. Yeah, I like a nice round ass.

No good, he said. Can’t count it. We’re all ass men. The ass, that’s what leg guys and breast guys agree on. Either the climax of the thighs or another set of round, meaty bumps. Both ways, it’s a point of compromise.

So I thought. And after a beat or two, okay, mark me down for boobs. But a great butt can get me into trouble.

* * *

Along with many of the best ass kickings, this one was dealt in a piece of shit dive. Where the mugs were chipped and not a damn person had any ice in their drink. Where the exposed brick wasn’t a bit trendy. Where vomit pocked the gravel parking lot. Between shots of well whiskey and pints of draft beer, I was working on a broad. Oh, and she had an ass like two kegs of Pabst.

What I sat through was an hour and a half of bitching. First about her husband, to whom she was on-and-off separated. Then kids, three of them, all sounding like little jerk offs. Finally, her boss and coworkers, everyone taking advantage. Her making them rich. And throughout I followed. Every worthless anecdote, registered despite being so shitty my eyes kept trying to touch my nose.

That was it. Finished waxing pathetic and up she stood. Off to shoot pool with some prick in a denim shirt. And denim vest. And jeans. For shit’s sake. And I held it down at the bar awhile. Another shot. Another pint. Another shot. Then watching her bend over the green felt, ass in the air like two hills waiting on a yodeler. I walked right over. Smacked her hard on the rear. And made a b-line for the parking lot.

But before I could think about dodging puke, I was off the ground. Not going anywhere. My eyes saw red then my upper body cracked then I’m screaming. Right here, I was kicking my feet, eight inches from the floor. The bouncer, a pony-tailed Tongan or some such, he had me by the collarbone. Raised to eye-level. Fuck’s the matter with you, he said. Ahhhhhhhhhh, I said.

Dropped and I landed hard. My shoulder was jutting at a fucked angle, the collar bone disconnected and almost stabbing through the tent of flesh. Why shouldn’t I fuck you up, he said. Ahhhhhhhhhh, I persuaded. Then the heel of his boot was up. Then down. I slept pretty solid for a pretty long time.

* * *

What he asked me was, flowers or chocolates? So I shrugged and didn’t say a thing. Flowers or chocolates, again, you know dude, like for a chick. Like for Valentine’s Day.

So I said, both, I guess. Cover all bases.

He clucked his tongue. He said, for the sake of argument dude, pick one. Are you a flowers guy? Are you a chocolates guy?

I went with chocolates. This, I said, because if I had to receive one. That’s what I’d prefer.

Very selfish rationale, he said. And wrong. Correct answer: flowers.

Didn’t know I could be wrong. I told him as much.

Listen, flowers are the perfect gift. So beautiful for a couple days and dead. Then, buy her more. On and on without end. A perfect gift for the woman who has lots. And the woman who has little.

Chocolates, I say, they come and go too. Perishable too.

Totally not the same. Chocolates grow tiresome. No, what’s palatable to the eye endures far longer than what’s palatable to the…well the palate.

* * *

Dark wood, the color of coffee without milk. Whittled, chip by chip, into human shapes. One, a man, sombrero pulled low, accordion on his lap. The other, a man, head back laughing, holding a drink with a thin wire straw. Both, on the bottom, green felt. Bookends, handcrafted and pretty damn fine.

Placed in a bag with scrunched, pink tissue. The handles tied tight by ribbons. Scotched taped to the side, a construction paper heart and written in Sharpie: Happy Valentine’s Day Babe.

When presented she started to tear. Blinked it out and said, so heavy. I can’t imagine…

And then the heart was torn off. The ribbon snapped. The tissue paper flung by wads. The bag itself ripped in two. Left behind in the mess, in the wrecked cocoon of wrapping: two carved, lacquered, pretty damned exceptional bookends. Really, the only bookends she would ever need. The finest bookends she could ever hope for.

Oh, she said. Aren’t those interesting. Beautiful.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fever Dream

Something like being buried alive. Cold earth everywhere. Damn cold. Over my lips so breathing comes only in dirty, shallow sucks. Eyes pulsing with the beat of my heart and so hard I can feel it in the back of my skull. My head. Like I was smacked with a shovel.

Not moving for maybe hours or years or maybe minutes. The ridge around my nostrils fills with yellow sweat. So too my forehead. My eyelids. Something like darkness, eventually it gives way.

Skyscrapers made of tree branches made of Styrofoam. And inside the elevators move back and forth—never up or down—but that does not matter. Security guards at the front desk remove my coat and underneath I have nothing. No jacket, no sweater, no shirt. No skin, no muscles, no bones. Nothing.

“You’re looking for the twenty-second floor,” says nobody in particular.

And they are right, of course. Though this is the first I’ve heard of it. But in the elevator there is no button for the twenty-second floor. So all I do is hit the button for the second floor twice. Very fast. And hope for the best.

Metal doors part and this is not the twenty-second floor. And this is not the building. But this is where I am so this is where I should be.

“C’mon. If we don’t get out soon, the fish won’t be much for biting,” says a man who looks nothing like my father but is my father. I don’t even question, I follow.

At the pond, there are no fish. So I dive in, swim five yards down, I bite my own line and I reel myself in. I fillet myself. Marinate in lemon and butter and pepper. I light a wood fire under a portable grill, and I cook myself until I am no longer pink in the middle. Then I dine and I am good.

My back is twisted into knots that are twisted into knots all the way down to the base of my spine.

Eyeballs throbbing so hard, I peel the lids open with two fingers. They are gummy and wet. The ceiling is white. Please be sweat. I’ve soaked all through the sheets.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Short One

Two bottles of red wine between us and my tongue is black. The buzz nice, but inefficient. Anyways, it makes this whole lame exercise a little more fun.

Overall the process is not complex. A few cords plugged into a few slots. Run the disc. Setting up the router is straight forward. Still, I’ve never been too handy.

She yells to hurry up. I shake an empty bottle at her, stick out my black tongue. Give me time, I say.

And what does it matter? Today, pretty much a throwaway. A paid holiday. There is no wrong way to live it. Sleep until noon. Drink too much wine. Set up the wireless. All this is fine.

What to name the network, I ask. Ask again. But she is asleep, sprawled across the bed and snoring through deep maroon lips.

So the network named and a third bottle opened. On the bed, she’s still crashed out. On the couch, I slug wine. My laptop connected. All this is fine.

Times are good. A day with no work but full salary. Connected beyond six inches from my desk. In the living room. On the shitter.

Ah, what America’s about. Casual drinking and money for nothing and wireless internet. Freedom, what an abstract idea that is. To spread its gospel around the globe, difficult to get behind. By contrast, had it been Operation Iraqi Paid Holiday—if these were the principles to diffuse—maybe the public heart would be won more readily.

All this is fine.