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Dec 11, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)

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To Jeremy and Leonard, I’m not sure why.




All I can say about these stories is that their progression matters, and that you should
pay attention.
Also they are so high school that I think it’s lovely.

-
Shane









I


The Time is gone, the song is over. Thought I’d something more to say.”

Pink Floyd



I’ll tell you something that I don’t understand. I work in a building that people rent out,
usually for wedding receptions, birthday parties, and all that
kind of shit
.

It’s called

Beckenmyer’s
.

It’s a nice place, quite quant actually. There’s a playground outside for the
kiddos, and a small recreation area inside if someone wants to show off in pool or something.
There’s a bar too; bartender’s a great guy, one of the o
nly people I’ve ever met whom I can
tolerate. He creates challenges for people to do, like eat three pizzas in an hour, or eat enough hot
wings to stop your heart for a few seconds. Stuff like that. Then I have to take their goddamned
picture and put it on

a wall o
f winners or some crap
. Oh,
I work there as a photographer. See,
let’s say that there’s a family that wants pictures of their beloved event, but for whatever reason
Uncle Herman can’t make it with his camera, or no one in th
e family has any sort o
f talent.
T
hat’s when you hire me. I’m an extra fee on
the application to rent
the place
, but I’m the best
$150 you’ll ever spend, swear to God I am. So anyway, I work here just about
every day
. Some
girl comes in, and she tells me she wants a picture outs
ide, by the veranda. Some fat ass comes in
and says he broke one of the food challenges available at the bar.

With permission, I add some of
these pictures to advertisements

we send out. It’s a sweet little

building. Great adjectiv
e, right?
Sweet.
Building
s can be sweet, I think
. So anyw
ay, big guy breaks the Endless T
aco Food
Challenge or whatever the hell it is, and he wants a picture.

I handle it. But here, let me tell you
here, this

is

what I don’t understand. I work in the same building every damn day,

a
nd I still have
to adjust my indoor settings.
Every. Damn. Day.

Nothing ever changes in this fucking room…

I
drop over $2,000 on this hunk of junk

camera
, and I still have to readjust these godforsaken
settings every day.


Now I’ll tell you another thin
g about my job: it’s my passion. Yes, I am one of the few
human beings to successfully pursue the elusive beast known as happiness. In college I studied
psychology,

and
for twenty

nine years I worked as a psychiatrist. Here’s a secret: I didn’t help a
sing
le person. The first session was the only time I ever had to do a lick of work; all I had to do
was take notes on whatever was grinding the sad sap’s gears. Every subsequent session was just
sly regurgitation

through review of the proper notepad
.
And how d
oes that make you feel, Mrs.
Anderson? Is Billy still smoking?
Have you thought about joining a church? Have you thought
about leaving your church? Remember, abortion is an option. Remember, your boss can only
frustrate you if you allow him too. Remember,
she still loves you. Remember, he has moved on
.
That’s really all it ever took, I swear that’s all. But I’ll tell you one more thing; it all comes down
to a moment. The reason people showed up in my office at all is because there was a moment
that formed t
hem into the excuse of a human they saw themselves as. Hey, those aren’t my
words. I heard that one a million times. Moments construct the greatest heroes, and the most
frightening villains. Moments form lovers, haters, workers, and slackers. A moment is o
ne of
those things that no one can truly capture, but everyone knows what it entails. Psychology is not
my passion; photography is. Because through my lens, I am the master of moments. I capture
them and they are mine. Never again will there be a moment of

my life that I cannot destroy, or
celebrate.

I control them, and they cease to

control me. I’m a photograph
er

not because I care
about the “art of the photograph”, or the careful preparation and finesse that professional
photography requires. I’m a photographer because I’m a manipulative freak. I’m a photographer
because when I tear a moment from its position in
time and it becomes mine, I can understand it,
and once I became an expert in analyzing tha
t which cannot move, I became a

constant observer
of everything around me. Nothing gets by my judgment; as long as I see it, I control i
t. I really
am a freak.


So,
tonight I have quite a crowd on my hands. Every year this office complex rents us
out; it’s a pretty big place I guess because a lot of people show up.
I take pictures of the
individual companies that work there, and then throughout the night people basica
lly just request
me.


“Uh, excuse me,” he says as he looks at me with stupid, puppy dog eyes. “I was
wondering if you could take a picture of me over there by the pool table.” I hate when people
start their sentences with “uh.” What is that supposed to be
? I nod in the affirmative.


“Why the table?,

I ask as I assemble my tripod.


“Well
, uh, I like pool.
Ha
-
ha
. And like, we can get these right?”


“Get them?”


“Well like, is there a way I can get the photo?”


I sigh.

I hate the word “get.”


“Yes, since I have been hired by your employer and or
owner

of the establishment at
which you work, every photograph I take

will be posted on the Beckenmyer

website, at which
your company has the option to purchase every photo, or select individuals.” He
smiles at this,
and pick up the 8 Ball as he leans against the table. Gladly, I take his picture. The lighting’s
subpar, but he won’t notice. He smiles at me and walks away with a dorky spring in his step.
Tool. I review my photograph. His black faux
-
hawk
styled hair is shining wi
th the abundance of
gel, and his toothy grin

alerts me that this young man has never been within ten miles of an
orthodontist. He wears an elaborate watch on his left wrist, and all of
his
clothes seem to be
designer labeled, from
the pre
-
faded blue jeans to the white V neck. Something keeps bringing
me back to the guy’s face. It’s chubby, almost like a chipmunk, yet he’s a fairly skinny guy.
Everything from his blue eyes to his round nose make
s

me think that he’s Chip and Dale’s lo
ng
lost brother. Ugh. Upon further viewing of the picture I see that the watch has an annoying
gleam. I could’ve fixed that. I’ll edit it later. That watch looks pretty nice; daddy probably
bought it for him for finishing school or something like that. Tha
t’s a pretty looking Liberal Arts
Degree sir, what type of lap dog would you like with your picket fence and brick patio?. Either
that or he has an obnoxio
us “Get Rich Kwik
!” scheme that I’m going to see at a Walgreens in a
few years.


Out of the corner o
f my eye I can see the next customer. She’s not half bad; hell, she’s
practically already a photog
raph. As she walks over her fire red

hair flows behind her

and her
wide blue

eyes look around innocently. I actually like her style to be honest.


“Hi, I was

wondering if my boyfriend and I could get a picture outside, just right in front.
Is there a fee or…?” she asks with a timid twinge in her voice. It’s as if she expects me to go off
on her for asking such a heinous question.


“No fee at all, your employer

and or the owner of your building has hired me. Every
photograph I tak
e will be posted on the Beckenmyer
r website. You said you wanted it outside, in
front? Give me a second to get my stuff together, and I’ll meet you out there, is that alright?” I
like t
o be polite sometimes. She really does seem like a sweet girl. Very… nice. Everyone is
nice. I walk outside and set myself up right in front of the building, and the sweet girl and her
nice boyfriend put their arms around each other right in front of the d
oor. Oh, and they smile.
They always smile. I wonder sometimes, do we smile in photographs to help our future selves? Is
it beneficial to look into the past, to look at the “you” from a few years ago, and see yourself
smiling?
So, I take the picture. They
thank me and walk away, holding hands until they (think)
they are out of my vision. I hit the playback button. Sorry love, but your scarlet scarf isn’t hiding
that hickey.

His smile is a little crooked, and his nose is weird. Everything seems off with this

guy. It looks like he’s melting or something. He’s European gone wrong. She’s beautiful though,
very beautiful. She has one of those smiles that actresses in the 1940s had, you know, those real,
genuine smiles that were completely fake. If I were younger,

I’d be better for her. Why is she
with a guy like him anyway? She’s a total knockout, cute as a god damned button, and he looks
like Rocky at the end of…well, every
Rocky
movie.
What a shame.

Maybe I can change this
picture… load Photoshop, and make his knuckles red, and split. Make her forearms discolored.
Now he hits her, and s
he’s such a sweet girl, I can just tell. I can see it in her smile, she’s the
type of girl who drops everything to d
rive to your house. She’s the type of girl who still believes
in sunsets, hand written love letters, and personalized happy endings. I’d love to tell her, I’d love
to take her from him if I were a bit younger, and I’d love to say, “Darling, those things ar
e true,
please don’t let them go.”


I want to say those things to her before he hits her again. I want to tell her those things so
she knows she deserves a better love than him. But she turns the corner and disappears. But she
smiles when I’m not around.
But she’s twenty four and I’m forty three. But I’ll tell you
something, I
hate guys like that. Guys who hu
r
t

gals. If I c
ould, I’d crop him out sooner than I’d
change who he is. Because as long as his existence in my life is confined to this photograph, I
am
in control of the person he is.


Shortly after photographing the young lovers, I notice something that is too rich not to
notice. Amongst these clean cut individuals, is a bearded man who
looks like a decaying pirate
. I
swear, he’s sitting a few feet aw
ay from the bar, drinking
what looks to be water…

or something,
and just watching people. Watching them. He looks like he’s having way too much fun, and now,
so am I. This guy is such a contradiction that I can’t help but chuckle. Seriously though. This gu
y
is in a room full of people wearing (somewhat) nice clothes, who actually made something of
themselves, and he’s over there acting like he forgot where the homeless shelter is.
Hell, he’s got
to be at least 70. What the hell is he doing here?


Naturally
, I take the picture. Candid shots, if you will. And oh, it’s absolutely lovely. I’ve
got what I assume to be a Hollister model in the background, an action shot of the bartender to
the left, some important people conversing to the right, and in the middle

is a lovely (could be a
painting) shot of a lost old geezer taking all of it in. This guy is an absolute riot; he’s got pants on
that probably belonged to Alexander the Great(provided he wore pants), shoes that look brand
new, but probably smell the exact

opposite, a plaid shirt that

teeters on an awkward line of
hipster gramps and retired lumber jack
, and a face that looks like a disheveled version of The
Most Interesting Man in the World. His watery, strained eyes are hardly visible behind his
strands of

tangled, grey hair, and I’m convinced there’s a colony
of bugs

living in his bushy
beard. But I’ll tell you what happened next, and I’m not kidding when I say this. Not at all. He
starts crying. Out of nowhere, this Santa Clause reject starts crying in th
e middle of the party.
Right in the middle of it.
He finishes his water, stands up, and I’m not lying when I say this, he
sprints out of the party. Sprints. Right out the door.


So, I spend the next hour or so taking more pictures. Candid, staged, group,
whatever the
hell falls into the scope of my lens. After awhile the party starts winding down, and slowly, the
place is cleaned up. Two folks stay, however, and after the clean up crew asks them to leave,
they simply go and sit outside. Through the window,

I steal a moment of their lives with the click
of a button. To this day, it’s my second favorite photograph. You see, I never did quite catch
their faces during the party. And even in my picture, the two figures are completely
unidentifiable. My shutter s
peed was slightly slow, so the motion of a passing employee
obscured the man’s face, an
d the woman had the slyness

to sit in the shadows. Oddly enough, I
view this photograph from time to time, and I ponder it. These two people are talking, I believe.
She
is making hand motions, as if she’s trying to get him to comprehend something. She is bent
forward and determined, and the shadows form a mask upon her face. Clever. Maybe she knows
I was there, and she chose to hide her face so that I cannot decipher what

she is trying to convey.
The faceless man she speaks to, he seems unaffected, yet interested. He’s leaning against the
wall nonchalantly, as if the message she is sending is nothing at all. As if, he’s heard it all before.
As if, he doesn’t give a damn. A
nd I swear, really I do, that this picture, the final one I took at
that party
….

That picture, no matter how many times I tell myself no. No matter how many
times I tell myself they do not care for
each other
, and he just wants to leave
. No matter how
many

times I tell myself that those faceless people could not possibly have something that I do
not. No matter how many times I tell myself these things, I fail to believe them.
Because I cannot
identify those people behind their clever masks, and I cannot acc
ept that they are safe from my
jurisdiction. I cannot accept that they are in love.










For a Lead/2
-
21
-
2013

II


A picture will survive, so smile and look alive
.”
-
Incubus


When it gets down to it, I think love really is just some sort of ultimate
denial. Maybe
people finally get sick and tired of being sick and tired and sick of

being

tired of being lonely
and alone in their sick sad little tired lives. I feel that way quite often: tired. Exhausted. Love is
denial without exhaustion, and that’s pro
bably why I can’t find it. I’m too damn tired all the
time.
Anyway, those folks in the picture were really starting to get to me. Make my skin crawl,
you know? I couldn’t pin them down, I didn’t understand them. So, I tried to find them,
obviously.


To mak
e things simple for you, because I’m the sure last thing you want is a long winded
narrative about the process of uploading photographs to the
website;

I ended up finding the name
of the office complex these people worked at. The couple in love. It was cal
led the Hannigan
Complex, and it was about twenty minutes from my

house. Ah, Jesus. I don’t know.

I’m not too
comfortable skipping over the story like that. Not explaining the uploading process and how I
found the address to the place. Frodo didn’t just a
ppear in Mordor, the reader get
s

to follow him
the whole way. Every damned step of his hair
y

hobbit feet was graciously accounted to the
reader. But then again, no one wants to hear about that kind of stuff. Screw it. So, I end up at this
complex, and I go

up to

the

secretary. I’ve always found that there are only two types of
secretaries: The type who seem like they absolutely adore you at first glance, and could very well
model for Victoria’s Secret. And of course, on the other hand, there is the type who
se facial
expressions practically implore you to get out of their face before they do something
unforgiving, like misdirect your call or something. Thankfully, I had the f
ormer of the two. She
asked some bullshit about my purpose of visit, and I lied or so
mething like that. I said I worked
there. I practically did work there anyway, because I had taken all their photographs. It wasn’t
the worst lie I’ve ever told, but it wasn’t the truth either. Although, I guess when you get right
down to it, lies and trut
hs don’t matter a whole lot. Some corporate asshole issues for that
building to be created on perfectly good soil that could be used to, I guess, sustain human life
maybe. With vegetables or something. But anyway, so that asshole issued for the building an
d
then people starting working there. But a building is really just some walls and whatnot, I don’t
understand why you have to work inside of there for it to count as working there to begin with.
Hell, I know some twin brothers who own a pretzel stand abou
t 10 miles from the good old
Hannigan Complex, but they could just say they work there. It’s just

a damn building anyway.
There are

multiple companies, too. I don’t really think I lied to that woman.


Now, let me tell you something. People don’t like suspiciousness. Kind of like a raccoon
sneaking around your trash cans, or John Wilkes Booth. You
know the guy who killed whats
-
his’s
-
name
. I wonder how suspicious he looked walking around in 1800
-
whatever
and trying to
kill a president. I wonder how much premeditation goes into killing a president. I took a
photograph of a president, back in 2007. I don’t remember who, but I took a picture of him. He
was smiling and waving, for whatever reason. I’m sure it
was because he was the goddamned
president of the United States of America. Luckily, I managed to avoid being suspicious. In most
cases, it would seem odd for a man to search around a building trying to find a cert
ain two
people. It becomes a bi
t more unor
thodox when his only method of doing so is by flashing a
photograph and waiting for the affirmative. So anyway, by a stroke of luck, when the elevat
or
doors opened I was greeted by

a plethora of pictures of the two people. Right in my damned face.
They wer
e all posted on the wall.

I finally saw the complete
them
. They were both in their 20s,
and they looked as happy as goddamned clams. She had
blonde hair that made me weak in the
knees, it could have belonged to an angel. If angels have hair. If angels exis
t. Her eyes were a
calm
,
evening

ocean blue, and they looked as though the sun was const
antly reflecting off of the
gentle, shimmering water
. She smiled with her mouth in every photo, so I could not see her teeth.
Someone’s
teeth say

a lo
t about them, espe
cially if they’
r
e

missing any. Her nose was small, but
also pointy. I’ll bet she could’ve played Peter Pan on looks alone. It’s all in the nose for that role.
Everything about her screams girl next door, but there is a subsequent contrast in her nature tha
t
argues she is a pure prize to be won. She has every reason to flaunt her looks, her demeanor. I’ll
bet she never did.


I like people like that. People who have every opportunity to have the world in the palm
of their hand, but they choose a specific pie
ce. They only want to hold a small portion of it all,
and they only possess it for a little while. Before long, they share it with everyon
e, and that piece
becomes a

larger, shared experience. Soon enough, everyone is happy, at least for a moment.
And some
times, if you get it just right, that moment feels as if it is as infinite as the beauty in the
stars. More people should be like that.


As for him, his hair is as black as the night, and then blacker once more. If you’ve never
walked through the woods at

night, with no artificial light around, you won’t understand him.
He’s paler than her, and his smile is a little crooked, but I bet that’s what she liked about him. I
bet that’s what they liked about eachother. You see, when you walk through the woods, yo
u still
know where to go, no matter how dark it becomes. Your feet are almost nimbler, and every step
is certain. Tripping only occurs when your gut interferes. I bet that’s what they were for one
another. You see, he can walk the woods at night, with

feet

as swift as a Fox
. But her light
simply helps him along the way. Furthermore, her light is probably darkened sometimes, but I
bet that he makes the darkness no
t

so dark. He removes the fear. I’ll bet that’s how it worked.


Oh yeah, I’m s
peaking in the pas
t tense. They’re

dead. At the top of the photographs, it
said:
Gone But Not For
gotten, Kletus and Cecilia
.
I lingered for a few moments, and then
some idiotic office grievers spotted me. I was swarmed before long, and as if on
cue
, everyone
started recalling memories. A few of them grabbed for my picture at hand, but I held onto it of
course. It was an odd experience, I felt as if I was the victim of a moronic flash mob. I guess that
every time they have an opportunity

to creep awa
y from actual working, they leap at that chance.
Oh, the convenience of death.
Anyway
, then

I was greeted by tall man with a cigar. I would
describe him more in depth for you, but he had literally no defining features. Had I captured a
picture of him in th
at moment, I’ll bet he wouldn’t even have appeared in. It would’ve gone
straight on through to the eggshell white walls. So he comes up to me and says,
“You

know
them, huh? Great kids, both of them. Really livened the place up. Hey, we’re heading down to
t
he wake in a bit, if you’d like to join us. We really will all miss them.”


I nod, signifying a yes. He returns to his office, the grievers lose their interest in me, and
I’m left standing alone. I’m going to start nodding for no, what’s the difference? I
once had a
patient who told me he simply could not conform to social norms. Red just did not mean stop,
and a handshake was a sign of disgust and hatred. His mind registered things differently, and
everyone hated him for it. I attended his funeral, and I h
eard some people muttering words like,
coward and unforgivable, u
nder their breaths. You see, he

had killed himself, and they saw that
as a sign of weakness and fear. Based on the information I had, I’m positive that he was simply
setting himself free. Peo
ple seem to think that prejudice ends at color and sex.
Funny, because
that assumption leads to even further bigotry.


I guess I’ll take this time to tell you a story. Well, multiple stories because I damn well
feel like it. Those poor kids, dead already.

They gave me so much happiness, and also much
unhappiness. Maybe they’re glad that they’re dead. I wonder if they were married, or dating, or
maybe they were the best of friends. I had a best friend when I was a little kid, but he ended up
writing a bunch

of romance novels and freaking me out.

I also once met a romance novelist
whom had never had sex, but that’s a story for another time.

So anyway, I dated an organized
woman once. When I say organized, I mean that everything had a specific time and place
and
that was that. No questions asked. I liked her because she always had time for me, and the time
for me was proportional to the time that everything else received. No matter what, she never let
me down. She taught me a thing or two about love, and the b
enefits of organization for that
matter. From her, I learned that time is a miraculous gift, and giving it is crucial. If someone is
not receiving your time, they ar
e not receiving your love. Damnit
, receive is hard to spell
sometimes. My life had structur
e when I was with her, and things made sense. However, as I
advanced in my job as a psychiatrist, I had less time for her. Three strikes: that was her rule. I
stood her up three times, and she scheduled me in for a break up.


I also dated a Christian, for

a little while. She was Catholic, and she loved me more than
anyone ever has, I think. Although, that doesn’t mean her love was the s
trongest. It
s direction
was geared towards many other people, like God, and the Saints, and people like that. For awhile
I

thought it was weird that she could love something she couldn’t see, but then I saw the value.
You see, I know a guy and a gal who fell in love over an internet chat in an online game. They
had slain

monsters together and hunted for treasure. They were ma
rried in Seattle, I believe.
Anyway, she taught me to trust. If I could love what I couldn’t see, then I could adore it when it
was finally in my sight. We had a fairly strong bond, and we had a lot of fun. She was the
woman who first sparked my interest i
n photography as a hobby.
We talked about everything
there was to talk about. I guess in a way, in my mind we were talking about everything under the
stars, and in her mind we were discussing everything under the heavens
. It just all seems silly to
me. I’m

told God has a plan for me, and I assume that I’m experiencing that currently. However,
under that mindset, I guess I’m led to believe that God’s plan for my would
-
be younger brother
was to be aborted.

But it was a human who chose to abort him, not God. B
ut God gave us free
will. But he also has a plan for us. So, is Free Will just all a hoax? Smoke and mirrors? Are we
just under the illusion that these decisions are our own? Someone once told me that God has a
clear destination for us, but we are allowed
to choose how we get there… I don’t know. To me,
that’s like giving a director a blank check to make a movie, but telling him he’s not allowed to
film the last 20 minutes.


Don’t get me wrong, I think there are benefits to it all. Prayer is a simple form
of
meditation that is beneficial to the mind, and when you summarize the Ten Commandments, it
basically explains how not to be a jerk, which is fine by me.

The Bible is essentially a historical
document, and the customs presented reflect the time. I just d
on’t’ understand why thousands of
years later, we all still conform to it. We’re smarter than those people were in some ways, I
think. Anyway
, we

spent quite some time together, and the eventual fall
ing out was tame
.
I think
I broke up with her. Or maybe w
e just stopped talking after awhile. Anyway, I

was left alone,
and she was left with God. I think that’s how it works.
However, the entire situation was God’s
plan so I’m left to assume that it was all for the best. Our breaking off was another strike to t
he
anvil in the forging of the eventual coming of Jesus Christ.
I guess

the world had to reach a
certain point, and that humans had to create it. To me, I always imagined it as the forging of a
weapon, and
every time

someone accomplished something in the n
ame of Adam or Eve or Noah
or Moses or Abraham or Jesus or Peter or Paul or Nicodemus or Mary or God or The Holy Spirit
or all three of them in one, humanity moved closer to meeting Jesus Christ. I was often left
confused because there were such large quan
tities of people to pray to, called Saints. Even
though we were all created equal, the Saints were better than everyone else because they
followed all the rules, I think. Or actually, some of them didn’t, apparently. I am certain that my
mother has never d
enied Jesus, but she died a slow painful, cancerous death. Peter denied Jesus
three or four times or something like that, but he was given the position of the Pope, and then he
went on to be a Saint. I wonder, do the believers get treated better in heaven?

Will my mother get
to eat prime rib for dinner, but I’ll be given bologna? Either way, we’re still both eating, but
maybe God provides a little more to those who didn’t see all that much value in Free Will and
decided to play sheep throughout their days.
I guarantee you that Jesus enjoys being shepherd.
Getting to lead a bunch of damn sheep where
ver

the hell you please had to be an absolute blast.


I’ll try to be romantic with this part, like a romance novelist, Okay, so
I also was with a
woman who didn’t
really care about anything. She thought more about the ending of Twin Peaks
than she did about God, and I think she would have

been

perfectly content if Jesus passed her
over

whenever the Rapture finally came along
. She was a sharp girl, but she had no dep
th. Some
people are as thin and weak as the final surviving leaves at the end of autumn. Her confidence
was a facade over a character of complete indifference. What I learned from her is that I cannot
love someone who is grounded in nothing. If I missed a
date, she didn’t mind. If we argued, she
allowed me to win. She enjoyed my happiness and hated my sadness, just like she was supposed
to. Depth was absent from her personality, and belief was a ship that had sailed long ago. You
see, I didn’t want her to p
reach to me, or hate me, or argue with me. I just pleaded for some
resistance, some adversity. Love requires, it implores, contradictions.

It needs an opposing force
to provide a challenge, or else it becomes overwatered and wilts just as it would have bee
n it had
been given no water at all. I think that love

is a 16 year old farm boy in 1944, who faked his age
to join the military

and fight in World War II
. Love has his ambition to fight, his possibility to
fail, and his raw need of adventure and opportuni
ty. Love possesses his hope to become a home
town war hero, and his fear to be nothing at all. Love is present when that boy is shot and killed,
and as he cries out for his mother in the soil of a foreign land. Love is when
h
is eyes close, and
he meets an
eternal darkness with a look of pride upon his face. You see, love is

the

moment
when every fiber in your body wants to run, a
nd scream, and collapse in on itself like a dying
star
, but love is also the moment when you sling your bag over your shoulder, le
ave home, and
face all of it anyway.


Was that decent? It’s always entertaining to make love analogies because there

are

saps
out in the world
that

eat that shit up.
Anyway, that whole office incident is still bugging the hell
out of me. The way everyone
flocked over to where I was standing within seconds… How do
they know that I gave a shit about the departed? I could’ve been in there to shoot every last one
of them.


I need to remember to tell the story of the final woman, and the story of what happened

at
the wake. And the story of my father, my favorite photograph, and why those damned kids
ruined my life in ways that I will never be able to thank them for.

note: re
-
read,
too cynical?

























Fo
r a Pretzel at Midnight

III


I tell you,
we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.”
Kurt Vonnegut


While the names present within this set of stories have been changed over time, it is
generally agreed upon that this particular t
ale f
ollows The Geezer, The Wa
lker,
The Whore, and
The Fox.
The story begins with The Walker

looking at

The Geezer

from

the

opposite si
de

of the
street, The Whore prepari
ng herself for her nightly escapades
, and The Fox smoking a cigarette

as he drives to his apartment
. The story ends
with The Geezer lying on th
e ground with The
Walker holding

his hand as The Whore and The Fox watch sympathetically and count their
blessings.


Grizzled, nursing a wound to the forearm, and

craving a drink, The Geezer glared at the
new face across the stre
et.

Thin, meek, almost as innocent
-
looking as a bunny, the forlorn eyes
looked back at The Geezer and said,
help me.

The Geezer rolled back over on his bench and
ignored the youngster, uninterested in dealing with anything tonight. Unfortunately for the
la
ziness of the old man, the cold city streets seemed a bit more inviting tonight, and the young
man began to cro
ss the street. The Geezer sensed his approach
, but decided to act ignorant

and

look up at the stars. He loved the stars. He was well aware that t
he constellations had given
names, but he preferred to name them on his own. That way, on the coldest of nights, his family
and friend
s were just a little bit closer

in the form of the eternal lights in the sky.


He could hear the approaching footsteps; t
hey were nearly upon him now. A few cars
passed. Driving one of them was a pimp named Julian Legarreta, otherwise known as The Fox.
However, his entrance into this story takes place later.


“Hello?” said a voice from behind The Geezer. “Look, I don’t real
ly need anything, or
whatever. I was just wondering if you could point me towards the closest bus stop. I mean, yeah,
I could probably just go n’ find one I guess, but I don’t know. It’s kind of cold, and yeah. Sorry
if I woke you up or…yeah.” The voice wa
s not weak, but rather, tired. It belonged to young man
at the age of 22 who was a little down on his luck tonight. The Geezer sat up to look at the young
man. He was tall, thin, and African American. His scalp was a gleaming
bald; one could mistake
it

for

the moon. He had a long face that was slightly shrunk in. The Geezer squinted his eyes and
the young man looked like one of the zombies from the movies he had watched as a child.
His
brow cast a shadow over his brown eyes.
He was wearing a tan button down

shirt and black dress
pants. Even the shirt seemed to
o

big on him
; the kid was a bean pole. Recognizing that he was
being observed, the young man flashed a toothy smile.

The Geezer sighed. He had been homeless for 27 years. Whether it was a fault on his
own
device, or lack of help from others, he had forgotten long ago. All he knew was that this bench
was his bed, the pretzels down the street cost 50 cents, and sometimes Orion disappeared from
the sky. In his years as a homeless man, he had been jeered at
, beaten by the police, and pitied,
yet ignored, by many. However, he had also eaten like a king when a local restaurant closed
down

and gave him some leftovers
, found friendship in a dog named Gary,
and befriended the
owners of a small pretzel stand down
the street. The Geezer also loved the area he resided in

so
much
that homeless did not even begin to describe him. The houses were tall and pac
ked
together, with their weathering

exterior bricks losing more color every year. The road had been
smoothed over

and packed down under the millions of passing tires. A diner down the street
leaked the soothing scent of burgers and shakes, and the smoke shop adjacent to it spread the
aroma of tobacco varieties. There was an elderly beauty to the aging city streets, a
nd The Geezer
loved to be a part of it.

The Geezer had grown used to ignorance over the past few years. It was easy to ignore
the stare of a passerby, but he could not deny the look of the young man before him. Despite the
times he had been ridiculed, forg
otten, and ignored, The Geezer could not
reject

this man. So, in
the simplest act of kindness a person can do, he responded to the invitation of conversation.

“Bus stops’ a little ways down there,” The Geezer replied. He was not sure how long he
had sat a
nd day dreamed after the young man approached him, but now was as good a time as
ever to respond. “I can take y’there if y’want. Ain’t very far. We’d pass th’ pretzel stan’ on the
way down. You like pretzels?” The Geezer was still looking up at t
he boy. He

raised an eyebrow
as he waited for a response from the stranger. Sheepishly, the young man took another step
forward and extended his hand. The Geezer took it, cautiously, and shook it. He smiled,
revealing a mouth with a tooth or two m
issing, and stood u
p to level

with

his

new acquaintance.

“Yeah, I like pretzels. I’d appreciate it very much for you to take me there. Sorry about
this, I just don’t really know where I am or where I’m going. Well, I know where I need to be
but…”

‘Whatever. Les’ get walkin’

b’fore I forget where th’hell everything is.” The Geezer
replied with a cackle. “Guess I’ll call you th’Walker.”

“What?” asked the newly dubbed Walker
.

“Well, we’re walkin’ together, and I dunno who y’are or what your name is, so I’m
decidin
’ that your name is th’Walker.” The Geezer said with a nod, as he spun on the heels of his
worn boots and began to walk down the street. This time it was The Walker’s turn to observe the
stranger before him. The Geezer face was mostly hidden behind his bus
hy beard and long hair.
On his head he wore
a maroon beanie that pushed his hair over his eyes. He wore a

thick green
jacket that appeared

as if it used to hav
e buttons. Before he could take

in anymore of The Geezer,
the old man was half way down the stree
t.

The Walker strode briskly to catch up with The Geezer.
Walks fast for an old man
, The
Walker thought
. The Geezer’s feet began to tap on the metallic surface of a sewer grate as he
continued to pull ahead. “Hey! Wait up, umm… I don’t know your name, but

wait up!”

“Give me a name then! Gimme a name n’ maybe I’ll slow down for ya!” The Geezer spat
at The Walker with another wild laugh.

“Fine! You…” The Walker realized that The Geezer was practically jogging now. “Slow
down, freak! I can’t... Jesus... I th
ought you were helping me! SL
OW DOWN!” The Geezer
passed by l
aundromats, delis, and comfortable home
s
. He would not stop for The Walker. “What
the hell?! Stop running you damn old geezer! I can’t keep up with you!” At that, The Geezer
stopped abruptly. The

smell of pretzels floated through the ai
r. Despite The Walker’s annoyance
of the race that has just taken place, the two men had at least made it somewhere. The Walker
finally caught up and stood next to him, catching his breath. The Geezer wa
s muttering
nonsense
to himself and rubbing his knee. He looked like he was in pain. Suddenly, the previously present
verocity of the man broke down as he began to wheeze. The coughs changed into laughs soon
enough.

“Pretty funny…Geezer…it sticks…got personality…I’ll

take it. The Geezer and The
Walker, findin’ a bus t’gether!” He cackled again and slapped The Walker on the back. The
Walker’s frustration melted away with a proud smile.
He had no idea what type of man he was
dealing with, but his audacity was practicall
y contagious.

“You want a pretzel or what?”





















For Sunny Days

IV

“Art rescues us from our self chosen triviali
ty, to which we are so prone.”
Colin Wilson


Ever since Alicia was a little girl, the world was her canvas. At age 3, she
gracefully
painted the walls of her home with the remnants of whatev
er had been previously known as

lunch.
Understanding that this would become a problem, her parents bought her the 64 Pack of
Crayola Crayons; however, the white walls of the hallway soon b
ecame portraits of Dragons,
Puppy Dogs, Barnie, and anything that dwelled within the creative confines of Alicia’s mind.
Alicia’
s parents loved her. S
he was truly a gifted, beautiful child. The well being of their house
also mattered to them, however, so
at age 4, Alicia wa
s given sidewalk c
halk to express herself.
Her mother, Christine, would observe her daughter from the porch as she ran around the
driveway and scribbled sweet sketches upon the cement. Alicia’s golden hair flowed behind her,
not yet bein
g cut at any point in her life. Occasionally, she would glance over to her mother with
brown eyes full of curiosity and pride. For a m
oment, Alicia would look embarrassed

and scared,
as if her mother would be ashamed of what she had done. Christine would s
imply smile at
her
daughter and notion a
go on

with her hands. Alicia would smile

and continue.
When Alicia was
proud of what she had accomplished, it was time to turn in for the day and play with her coloring
books. Although, when Daddy came home, he woul
d wash off the driveway with the garden
house so that Alicia could draw for the rest of the evening. The neighbors would smile from
behind their windows, but they would hold their children close.


At age 5, Alicia began schooling. She passed her activitie
s with flying colors, golden
stars, and smiley face stickers. Christine and Daddy were so proud. One night, at the dinner
table, after Alicia had finished a portrait of her favorite zoo animals on the driveway, the young
girl asked, “Why don’t the kids at
school talk to me?” Her parents abruptly stopped eating, and
shared a somber glance. Their loving, adorable daughter was not getting along with the other
children. Alicia did not recognize this as a lack of acceptance
, the young girl simply wondered
why th
e other girls and boys did not speak to her, and Mommy and Daddy surely had the answer.


“Well honey,” started Christine, “Some children are shy. You just need to introduce
yourself!” She smiled at her daughter, and pinched her cheek. The little girl looke
d over at her
Daddy, who was also smiling. As children often do, Alicia started smiling because everyone else
was.


“How do I do that?” Alicia asked innocently. Once again, her mother smiled. After
dinner, Daddy told Alicia that she would have to go up to
other children and say, “Hi, my name
is Alicia, what’s yours?” Alicia was excited to meet the other children, and the next day when
school began, she eagerly introduced herself to as many people as possible. Recess came around,
and as the other children sw
ung on swings, slid on slides, and jumped rope, Alicia pulled from
her pocket a piece of yellow chalk which she had snuck in from home. When it became time for
the kids to go back inside, Alicia had drawn a smiling sun accompanied by other, smaller,
smilin
g stars. She told the other kids that the sun was the teacher, and they were the stars. None
of the kids seemed to care all that much.


Over the course of kindergarten, Alicia made no friends. The neighborhood children
invited her to play kickball, but Ali
cia quickly became uninterested and went back to her trusty
sidewalk. Seeing that his daughter was lonely, Daddy bought her a beagle puppy. Alicia named
the puppy Elmo, after a certain puppet from a certain TV show. At ages 6 through 9, Alicia and
Elmo wou
ld play together every day. The two friends ran outside together, and Elmo would
watch Alicia intently as she sketched him on the sidewalk.
As if on queue
, Alicia would
sometimes catch her mother watching her from the window, and just like the way it used
to be,
Alicia would smile at her mother and continue to draw. At age 10, Alicia’s grandparents bought
her an easel and canvas. The long days outside became strenuous, late nights in her room.
Alicia’s natural hobby had evolved into a passion; when she was
creating, she was in her natural
habitat. Elmo still watched her paint with wide eyes. Alicia enjoyed painting invers
ions of
everyday things. She had

worked for a total of 37 hours on a painting of a blackened sun
illuminating a negative colored field. The

steely blues and powdered grays came to life as a dark
sphere gave light to it all. Alicia also painted two people melting into one another with


written above them.
Alicia painted her favorite food, grilled cheese, her favorite drink, Pepsi, her
favo
rite thing, Elmo, and had also managed to paint a self portrait. Late one night, Alicia gazed
upon herself. She had looked in mirrors millions of times as people do, but she had never noticed
what she looked like until she had made it herself. Her deep, br
own, wid
e set eyes stared back at
her
. Her face was small and rounded, but her chin was pointed. She had never realized that her
nose was small and slightly upturned, but it was an asset if anything. Her eyebrows were high
arching, and her self portrait lo
oked surprised and interested. Her portrait was not smiling, but
rather, smirking back at her with full lips. Alicia put her hand to her face, and traced along the
smoothness of her skin.
She felt her soft, wavy hair. That was the night that Alicia realize
d she
was beautiful.


It wasn’t until Age 12 that the boys at school started to realize this as well, and for the
first time in her life, Alicia started to make friends. She would hang out with the boys after
school, and she would choose one of them to wal
k her to her pottery class down the street. While
she was still ignored by the girls, Alicia felt good when she was around the boys. Despite
newfound popularity, nothing came before art. At age 13, Alicia was painting, drawing, doing
origami and wire sculp
tures, pottery, and she had even begun to play guitar. Daddy was so proud
to hear the sounds of the guitar echoing through the house, and Christine loved doing origami
with her daughter. Elmo was beginning to lose the spring in his step, but he was still A
licia’s
number one fan.


Over the next three years, Alicia went through highschool. She acted in school plays,
joined art clubs, and was able to have a few of her paintings featured in student expositions.
Alicia avoided art classes because the other stud
ents were too slow for her pace. At age 17,
Alicia was running to her American Literature class when she collided with James Landon. The
two of them fell to the ground, looked at their materials strewn across the tile floor, and
immediately began laughing.

They helped one another pick up their things, and walked to class
together. Alicia realized that James was in a few of her class
es
, and the
two became fast friends.
The friendship did not last long, however. One afternoon in Algebra II, Alicia was doodlin
g in
her notebook when she caught a glimpse of James. He was sitting across from her with his head
leaned back against the wall, sleeping. Biting her bottom lip but unable to conceal a smile, Alicia
began to sketch James. His long brown hair was tied into
a ponytail, and she could see the
earrings he wore. She took notice of his eyebrows, which were dominantly straight, and his long
eyelashes. James’ chin was somewhat cubic, and it was accompanied by defined cheek bones.
She didn’t know why, but she liked h
is thin facial hair. By the time the bell rang and awakened
James, Alicia had a complete black and white sketch of the boy. He saw it in her notebook, and
blushed. The two of them locked eyes for a moment, and then each departed for their next class.
Alici
a would spend the duration of American Issues thinking about the feeling she had just
experienced. Later that night, she painted it on her canvas. There was no method to the painting,
any rhythm or form. It was simply a combination of purple, orange, yello
w, and red swirls
colliding and overlapping one another. Alicia had not allowed Elmo to watch her create this
time, but when he was scratching on the door at 3:21 AM, Daddy opened the door to let him in.
Daddy saw what Alicia had made, and it warmed his he
art. It reminded him of the feeling he
experienced when his daughter had been born, and it reminded Elmo of the warmth of the grass
during the summer. Man and Dog gaz
ed upon the piece for a moment; Daddy smiled, Elmo
yawned, and The Creator snoozed the nig
ht away.


Alicia and James soon struck up a relationship, and dated for the remainder of
highschool. They wrote songs together which they played on the guitar. Alicia would paint
James sometimes, and James’ songs were always about her. It was around this t
ime that Elmo
took his last steps. The poor, old beagle had arthritis in his paws, and the once cheerful tipping of
his nails on the hardwood floor was replaced by a depressing, dull shuffle. Alicia took Elmo
outside on his final day, and sat him next to h
er on the driveway. She drew pictures of him with
chalk just like she used too. Elmo watched diligently and faithfully like he had for the past 11
years. His watery eyes looked at Alicia, and she looked back upon her first friend. His face
contoured into t
he dog version of a smile, and Alicia began to cry. She sketched her pal one last
time, and she recalled all the long nights that
Elmo had stayed up with her.

The comforti
ng
presence who continuously observed everything Alicia had ever created. Daddy came
outside
and let Elmo lay in the grass for awhile and look
ed at what Alicia had drawn. On

the driveway
was a wonderfully simple portrait of a childlike Alicia running around with a youthful
Elmo.
Daddy picked up Elmo, and drove far away.

Before long, colle
ge came around the corner, and James told Alicia he would go
anywhere that she went. Uncomfortable with this, Alicia had to break it off. The break up was
rough, and James did not take it well.

Alicia went through
her first year of college with J
ames on
he
r mind, and by the end of her second semester, she dropped out. Taking the money she had,
Alicia moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where she told herself she would find a way to survive.
Her parents supported her all the way, as they knew their beautiful dau
ghter would find some
way to live off of her talents. Alicia’s story begins as she sits on her floor in her new apartment.
James called her one night, and they talked about themselves and where they stood with the
situation.

However, there is a different

break up story that will be detailed within these pages.
Alicia’s story is not about James or their relationship. Alicia’s story is not a love story.

Note: re
-
read, clean up




For a
Kid

October 2010

V

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of

love, a gift to t
hat person, a beautiful
thing.”
Mother Teresa


William Leo Michna hated the winter, but he loved the snow. If anything, that sentence
says more about him
than can ever be revealed within the words of his story. If the reader feels
as if th
ey understand him completely at this moment in time, feel free to leave the story and
continue onto the next.


Fifteen minutes ago, William and Jessica had held hands for the first time. Months later,
Jessica would insist she had

only

taken his hand to cr
oss the street, but at the moment when the
action had actually happened, the couple had been nearly sixty yards away from the nearest road
which they eventually crossed.

Two minutes earlier, a ten year old had gone up to William and
asked to use his cell p
hone. Jessica laughed as William awkwardly dealt with the kid. Now, in
the present, William and Jessica are sitting and looking at the sunset together.

The rough October
grass is beneath them, and the chilled autumn air is around them.

They are both ramb
ling about
their lives, ignoring the topic at hand. They
nervously

laugh, simultaneously smile, and let
instinct handle the rest.


“So, I wanted to tell you that I’m ready,” Jessica says with a smile. They are not looking
at each other when she says this, but their hands are still locked together. The way the two are
feeling in this moment, it is certain that there is no key to that l
ock. He cannot see her face, but
he feels her smile. For a second, the inner workings of Will’s mind tried to form words. Within
that second, Will felt the cold, dry grass with his left hand. A gentle breezed occasionally blew
by, and it would rustle his h
air with each of its passing.
He looked ahead to the setting sun. It’s
dancing, fiery orange illuminating a small portion of the sky as it was slowly overcome by the
darkness of the night. That was Will’s favorite moment of every single day, although no on
e
knew that yet. He loved seeing the rebellious, untamed colors of the sunset battle against the
impending blues and blacks of the night. Every day the sunset would fall and lose the glorious
battle against the forces of twilight, but it was the most beaut
iful thing William had ever seen.
S
eeing the night engulf the sun was a bittersweet beauty.
Sometimes, the blue would have
streaks of orange, trying one last time to make an impression of the day. Other times, the
blackness would practically sit on the sun
, and crush all the colors into a contained sphere of the
daytime, which would not be seen again for hours. The battle waged day in and day out, but how
glorious was it when the red sun rose again every morning, and sent out its colorful children into
the
sky to splash oranges, and reds, and yellows across the airborne plain? To William, it was the
greatest battle in existence because there was no pain in loss.

William Leo also felt his heart skip a beat in that second. He knew what she was going to
tell h
im that day. They had walked around for an hour talking about books, writing, life, and
friends, but both of them knew what it was leading to.
He knew what she was going to say in that
moment, but it gave him the feeling of the surprise, and better yet, a
feeling of contentment that
he had been anticipating all along. While contradictory in theory, surprise can still come about
even when it’s expected.


William also felt the temperature. It was cold. Above all things in life, William despised
being cold. He was constantly making a conscious effort to not allow his teeth to chatter, and this
would cause him to shake, sometimes. Had he not gotten a haircut,

he would probably be
warmer. William was also nervous that his haircut looked stupid, but she had not looked at him
weirdly so he assumed that he was in the clear. William finally began to speak, after feeling the
grass, the wind, his heart, his hair, and

watching the sun. His voice let out a small cough before
he spoke, half laugh, half sickness. It was a verbal tick that he had when he was trying to speak
dominantly. The two exchanged words which William cannot remember, but they were
accompanied by the

same, lovely, innocent, and unknowledgeable nervous laughs. William
never thought about it until later on, but she had been here before. Jessica had dated multiple
guys before William, some relationships more relevant than others. He would learn about the
m
in due time. William’s repertoire of relationships reached a grand total of two: A girl he had gone
to movies with, and a girl he had been with for a few months until she ended it to be with
someone else.
But Jessica was really the first girl who had alr
eady transcended the feelings he
had for anyone else, and

they

had only been together for

32 seconds.


After tender moments of sweet nothings, deciding to keep it a secret and let people find
out, and discussing who
should

know first, William spoke. “How d
o I make this different for
you?” he asked. “We’ve been hanging out alone together for, like, a month or whatever. But how
do I like, I don’t know, actually make this, like a thing for you? Do you know what I mean?” His
inexperience shows in this moment. D
espite having been with two girls, neither of them were an
actual girlfriend
, except one… kind of
. He doesn’t realize it, but Jessica enjoys this comment. It
shows his sincerity to make this something special, despite having
absolutely

no idea what he is
d
oing. She’s walked these grounds before. But it’s different this time.


“Just be yourself,” she says with a smile that once again, he cannot see, but rather, he
feels it in the air of the moment. “Let’s just see how it all goes.” He sees her smile this tim
e, and
he returns it graciously. Something raw is present between the two of them. Whatever baggage
exists is not even daring to interfere. Both of them bring insecurities to the table, and both of
them bring secrets. Some of the secrets will not be told f
or months, even over a year. But on this
night, it doesn’t matter. And for the rest of their days together, it never matters.


The couple stands up, and William feels weak in the knees.


Digression, William’s mind immediately went to Disney’s Hercules, wh
en Meg
proclaims that she has weak ankles. It is a fleeting thought if anything, but the relevance is there.

Also, William is spoiled. At age 15, he is currently holding hands with everything he loves in a
girl. They have similar ideas and thoughts. They b
oth like tea, lazy days, and adventurous nights.
There are many sweet insignificants that they will relate to with one another over the year or so.
She will find out that he wants to publish something, and he will find out that she can tie cherry
stems in
her mouth, something that

he

is very jealous of, and impressed by. All in all, he is
spoiled because she is that kind of girl. She can work on cars, discuss decent movies, and be
open about her opinions. But occasionally, every now and again, she will shar
e something about
herself that makes his day. Something insignificant, or forgotten, but every time he hears one of
these things, from stories about her Grandpa to bizarre things she has done, he smiles. He can’t
help but loving the simple act of discoveri
ng her, day by day.. And of course, William
remembers every one. There may have been moments down the road where he wouldn’t realize
an anniversary was creeping up on him, but being an aspiring writer, he remembers the nothings.
The way she had smiled six
months ago, the manner of which she said something. Not
necessarily what happened, but
how

it had happened and how it had made him feel. Not
necessarily what they did, but how she looked. How she spoke, moved, yawned, laughed. Not
when she told him, but ho
w she told him. He would remember a shirt she had
worn
, and that
would be the
instigator of memories. William was truly a digresser, and that is why his story is
this story. Because love, friendships, and the act of communicating is the most elaborate
digr
ession from existe
nce. Coincidentally, it gives life

more meaning than anything else can ever
hope to.
Note, clean up concluding line


They begin to walk around the grade

school they both attended, although she is a year
ahead of him. As they venture aroun
d together, the moon finds its place in the sky. Jessica turns
around to look at William, and the moonlight hits her face at the perfect angle. William had
always been attracted to Jessica, but this was the first time he saw how beautiful she was. The
ligh
t reflected off of her eyes, and half of her face was illuminated by
stars
. She smiled, because
she realized that he was speechless for a moment. William honestly can’t remember if he told her
she was beautiful in that moment, or if his dumbfounded smile said all the words for him. He
told her at some point, whether or not it wa
s in that moment, or not that night. Every now and
again, when they would stop to talk, both teenagers were beaming. Anxious, honest laughs
would interrupt them, midsentence. And the culmination of six months of friendship came to this
night. But as the tw
o walked on in the cold together, and continued to laugh in the middle of
their sentences, practically high off of the feelings they had for one another, Jessica held his hand
a little tighter, and
William watched his breath as it became visible upon each
exhalation.


Note: clean up the ending












The story

about two guys.

‘Shane, you need to stop living the life of Chris Giaraffa.” Matthew William Hodapp


Rain falls in Seattle as two men meet at a newly opened coffee shop. Rain falls, and more
rain falls, and rain continuously falls because rain often falls in Seattle. Arriving simultaneously,
the men exchange a simple nod, and find a table at which to engage in conversation; the
conversation would include talk of current events, personal endeav
ors, and how the weather has
been. The weather has been rain.


Chives sits down first, and he makes sure to place his newest novel,
Introduction Into a
Rising Action Which Peaks Into a Climax, followed by Falling Action and Resolution
, at the edge
of the
table so that a passerby may glance at it and become vaguely interested. Chives wears a
Spiderman watch because an adult wearing such an item might instigate a comment along the
lines of, “ You’re an adult wearing a Spiderman watch!”Chives also made sure t
o wear a
Doctor
Who

shirt on this particular day, as a double entendre of cultural superiority and self gloating.
For example, if one were to comment upon his shirt due to a shared interest in the Television
Show, Chives could then flaunt his knowledge of
the BBC classic. On the contrary, if someone
were to say, “Doctor….Who?” Chives would then come back with a comment such as, “You’ve
never heard of
Doctor Who?

Let me guess, your favorite show is
Survivor

or
American Idol!”

The victim of the assault might
then say, “ Well those are both fairly good shows, with decent
ratings. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with a little reality TV. Actually,
-
“ but at that point the
conversation was over.


Marion takes the seat across from Chives. While he did not have any possessions to place
in the peripheral vision of fellow coffee shop customers, Marion wore grey Sperrys and black
jeans, complimented by a
Rear Window

T shirt. Marion hadn’t shaved in a fe
w days to appear as
if he had been hard at work on his newest projects. Nothing says artistic superiority like a gruff
beard. Marion wore non
-
prescription lenses so that he would be taken seriously, and he had his
Polaroid One Step slung over his shoulder
at all times. This way, people would note his
photographic ability (in complementation) and his retro accessory (in envy).

Both men have slightly long (but not too long) black hair. Chives speaks first. Rain
continues to fall.

“ I’m going to go order, wha
t would you like? It’s such a beautiful day that I figure I’ll
just pay for both of us.” Chives raises his voice to increase the volume of his generous offer.
Marion ponders his order for a few seconds, although he already knows what he wants.

“ Well first

off, it’s not a beautiful day. Rain is falling. And rain is falling still. I know
this, because I captured a few photographs of the rain fall earlier. And this very same depressing
rain fall is present in my upcoming film,
Wisconsin Knights.
” Marion leans

back in his seat.

“I disagree, it’s not depressing at all. A true artist, sorry, a true writer like myself has a
trained eye to see the beauty in all things, as well as their flaws. Being a visionary yourself, it
shocks me that you are not able to apprec
iate the duality in both human and natural elements that
surround us at all times, “ Chives replies as Marion gazes out the windows. “ In addition to this, I
would propose that you search for a way to broaden your range of vision. Metaphorically, I
mean.”

“It’s depressing.”

“It’s beautiful.”

“Hazelnut, black.”

“Mm.”

“Mm.”

Chives returns with the orders. Neither man wants to take a drink first, but both are eager
to begin the explanation of accomplishment. Marion decides to take the first move. He clears hi
s
throat as a battle preparation.

“So, as I said before, I’m making a film called
Wisconsin Knights
. It’s mostly a political
allegory on the current standing of discount cheese, but I also plan on widening my range of
talent in artistic shots.” Marion take
s a sip of his coffee and glances out the window. The rain is
starting to let up. But it’s still falling. The rain is falling in Seattle. Chives raises an eyebrow.

“ I don’t know Marion. I believe that political allegories are accomplished with more
finess
e when they are on paper. You can only show much. Anything can be told.” Chives ends
his statement with a small smile, and quietly nudges his novel a bit closer to the edge of the
table. Chives’ strike hit home hard with Marion, but the sworn cinematograph
er won’t go down
without a fight.

“No, actually. Words, they’re…old. Books are slowly being replaced by Digital
-
Books,
and there will come a day when you will explain to your
grandson

what paper was. Humans love
to be shown; they love to see. What takes yo
u 400 pages to accomplish, I can portray in 40
minutes. And of course, more in
-
depth,” Marion continues. “You see, words are simply words.
Black type on white paper. But my films, and all films, take a person on a visual journey that
cannot be equaled by a
ny other art form. Except maybe paintings. I am also a painter.”

“Why show what you can tell in an unrivaled mental vividness?”

“Why tell what you can show in a creation that combines music, vision, and the raw
emotion embedded in all art forms?”

“ You ca
nnot create a film without first writing a screenplay.”

“ Film captures all artistic endeavors in one incredible experience.”

“You did not reply to my previous comment.”

‘That is a nice Spiderman watch. How funny for an adult like yourself to wear one.”

“T
hank you, I like your shirt. That was a very enjoyable movie.”

“Not nearly as enjoyable as
Doctor Who.

I see by your shirt that you are a fan. I liked the
Quantum Villains.”

“I didn’t. There were better episodes. Have you read my book?”

“No.”

“ I thought I

mailed you a copy.”

“You did, but I have been quite busy on my movie.”

“Mm.”

“Mm.”

Silence fell upon the table for a moment. Marion adjusted his glasses and checked his
hair in the reflection of the window. For a second he was embarrassed because his hair

looked
wet, but then he realized it was just the rain. It was still raining. Chives thought about explaining
the symbolism in his novel, but he was in the process of drinking and ingesting his drink, so he
decided to wait; however, Chives was the first to

break the silence.

“So anyway. I have been thinking about writing another novel about a man who gets
arrested because he committed so many crimes. And then, he meets multiple inmates who are all
somehow symbolistically tied to each of his crimes. I think
I will call it,
Many Crimes For Many
Times.

Either that or,
Allen McDeggory
. I am not entirely sure. What do you think?” Chives
looks around to see if anyone is taking an interested in he and Marion’s conversation. They
aren’t. Marion ponders Chives’ quest
ion for a moment.

“I think…. That I am going to make another film about a man who loses his garbage can,
so he has to find it. And it turns out that his Suburbanite Grandmother stole it from him because
it was green, and green was her favorite color. But i
n actuality, green is a symbol for greed. I
think I shall dub it,
Julio Where Is My Trash Can?: The Tale of Two Counties.”

Marion has
stabbed Chives in his heart by devoutly ignoring his novel. In return, Chives will attack Marion’s
word choice.

“Dub was a
n odd choice.”

“I try to break free from main stream decisions. Small ways have the biggest outcomes.”

“You could have picked better words there. I will text you a better way you could have
said that later.”

“Mm.” Marian
mm’s.

“Mm.” Chives
mm’s.

“Have you
seen
The Shining?”

Marion asks.
The Shining

is one of his favorite movies.
Not because of Nicholson’s performance, that is far too wildly appreciated for Marion to share in
its merit. He enjoys the film, rather, because it is a movie that departs from its
subject material in
substantial ways, but it still manages to serve as a worthy adaptation of the novel it is based on.
At least, that’s what he read on an online blog.

“Yes, I’ve seen it. I enjoyed Nicholson’s performance as Jack Torrance, as well as the
music in the film. Interesting, Jack was a writer who went insane. Sometimes I wonder if
insanity would improve my writing,” Chives replies, and begins to digress. “Do you ever feel
that way Marion? Does true brilliance come from becoming lost in your art?

Becoming insane,
do you think it can drive us to create something never seen before?”

“Maybe as we fall deeper into obscurity, it is our own creations that bring us back out.
They rescue us. Possibly, we lose ourselves in our aspirations; they destroy us,

but then, they
rescue us in our pursuit of them. Perhaps a true Magnum Opus is a result of an art using a man,
not a man using an art,” Marion replies. Suddenly, snickers are heard from a few tables over.
Marion and Chives both look across to café and fin
d that they are being made fun of by a group
of teenage girls. They hang their heads in embarrassment. Marion calls to mind his father’s
reaction to a poem he had written him for Christmas. Chives recalls his mother’s scoff when he
wanted to go to the movi
es for his birthday. Silence. Rain.

“Ok. So, how is Carol?” Marion asks.

“Carol?”

“ Yes, Carol.”

“Did you mean Karol?

“Yes, Carol.”

“No, it’s Karol. She spells it with a K. It’s Karol.”

“Okay. I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine.”

“How is she?”

“She’s good.”

“That’s g
ood.”

“Yeah, it’s good.”

“It was nice talking to you, but I need to go. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.”

Chives and Marian departed from the coffee shop on that day, as the rain slowly
subsided. Marian went home and napped through the afternoon, and Chives played Xbox.
Chives’ novel on the man in prison sold fairly well in Seattle, but
Wisconsin Knights

only
made
it into one, very small, film festival in Southern Missouri. As Chives turned left and Marion
turned right, a pigeon flew overhead toward the new rainbow in the sky. Marion pondered the
freedom of birds, and how they fly oh
-
so
-
free. Chives questioned
why one would ever want to
leave the comfort of solid ground.



This narrative cracks

VII

“And when they’ve given you their all
,

some stagger and fall, after all it’s not easy banging
your heart against some mad bugger’s wall.” Pink Floyd


Yipes
. Turns out those kids died in a car crash on their way to work. So I go into the
wake, and people ask me who I am. I say that I am an uncle, or something. I ask around, ask
about the kids. They were engaged, but they never planned on getting married. I gu
ess what’s
really bothering me is that I walked around to some of the younger people who are still holding
onto what bits of sanity they have left, and I asked if they had ever been in fights. Kletus and his
girl. They told me about 2 months ago they had g
otten in a fairly large argument, and that Kletus
had stayed at some friends’ houses for awhile. You know, it got me thinking. The picture I took
was probably their one bad moment. The only time their relationship had faults, flaws, and
cracks, was when it

was captured through my lens. Shit, don’t that give you the chills?


Well, there you have it. That’s the story of my second favorite picture. The one that
ruined me. I’ll tell you how. I left the wake, and I was so damn pissed off, that I kicked a
dumpst
er outside. You see, those kids, why the hell did they have to die? If I had never taken that
picture, I would’ve never ruined their love. More importantly, I would’ve never seen their love.
The love that drove me crazy. The faceless entities of my blurry
photograph came to life, and it
wasn’t the life I wanted for them. I wanted them to be stupidly and passionately in love. Not
nursing rough patches and dead in caskets. What the hell is that anyway? Car crash? Bullshit.
This isn’t what it was supposed to b
e.


I looked up at the funeral home as I exited, and I took a picture of it. This is it, are you
ready? This is where it all starts. It’s time to jump down the rabbit hole. And you better not be
expecting to get out of it for a damned long time. You know
what the hell happened? Some piece
of shit janitor did his job that day, and made those windows extra shiny. Turns out, I caught
myself in my photograph. My reflection is standing in the frame of the door, taking a god damn
picture. Oh, and it’s my very fa
vorite picture. My
----
ing favorite one. Because every time I look
at the damn thing, I get to judge myself. I get to remember why I’m a piece of shit degenerate of
a human being, living an excuse of a life. Taking pictures. Stealing moments. Capturing fra
mes
that contain the very air that you breathe. And I’m taking that from you. It’s mine to keep,
destroy, and recreate it all over again. But I’m going to tell you something. I’m sick. Those kids
dodged the umbrella of my judgment because I couldn’t see th
eir damn faces. So cleverly did
they hide from me,

and so fiendishly did they conceal

their humanity. Quite an impressive move,
the most impressive of all. They avoided. Me. But such a notable notion of a maneuver can only
rank second place. The greatest p
hotograph I have ever
taken

is the one where I forgot to hide
myself.

My father would’ve said, “You need more practice if you’re going to make stupid mistakes like
that.” He was always supportive. Such a great man. I killed him when I was 15, but we’ll get

to
that. Hold your damned horses you impatient son of a bitch. That’s another thing he might’ve
said.


My dad always took my brothers and sisters and I out shopping on Saturdays. Our house
was simply a playground of projects for him, and every weekend re
quired another trip to the
hardware store. Afterward, he would take us to the grocery store to get stuff for Mother.
Sometimes, maybe every three months or something, he would take us to the department store
after that and buy us each a little toy. He told

us that we were his favorite helpers, and his
favorite kids. We always laughed at the idea of him having other kids. We liked when Daddy
picked

us over those other stupid
----
ing piece of shit kids that didn’t exist. We were better
workers than them. That
’s what Dad told us.


Dad told me not to lie. One time, I stole some bubble gum from the grocery store on our
way out, because I really liked bubble gum. That day, us kids were helping Dad work on the
deck outside. I was chewing my gum. Daddy asked, “Son,
where did you get that gum?” I
swallowed it and told him Mom had given it to me. I told him I was going over to my friend
Jimmy’s house
, and I would be back at dinner. I rode my back all the way to the grocery store
and gave the gum back to the clerk, but
she smiled and said my Dad had paid for it already. He
was a sly

son of a bitch. My uncle saw me

talking the clerk, and he drove me home that night.
Uncle John was also a pretty great guy. I guess my grandparents were good at making kids. I
have a daughter

somewhere.


This is probably a good time to tell you about my Uncle John…. You’re agreeing with
that? I was in the middle of telling you about my Dad, and you don’t even care to stop my
digressions. You’re bad at this. Uncle John owned a shop where he sol
d people’s shit. Necklaces,
key

chains, old bikes, comics, lunchboxes, whatever. I think that’s where all our old toys went. I
don’t what it was about that place, but everyone loved it. He just called it, John’s Shop. He was
just selling whatever, whenever
. Sometimes he would have a bunch of skateboards in there, or
baseball cards. Other weeks, he had shovels and shoes. It was a bullshit store full of bullshit
things. I got a job there and someone burned the place down. It was bullshit.


I wonder how much m
y camera would go for in John’s Shop. So anyway, my uncle drove
me home and my Dad asked me how I was enjoying my gum, and then he started laughing and
he told me I had done the right thing by going back. I didn’t like when people complimented me
or things

like that. I don’t deserve that shit. My brother Christopher and I used to share a room.
My Dad used to get all excited when my Mom was pregnant with another son, and he built
another bed in the room for whenever the baby didn’t need a crib anymore. He wa
s damn crazy.
That baby got aborted because my mom got really sick and couldn’t take care of it in her body,
or something. I don’t remember. Maybe my mom decided she didn’t want another damn snot
nosed kid running around and raising hell. I know I didn’t.


So to be straight with you
, my Dad was a good man. Never hurt us, or Mom. Always
provided. Always made us feel special. We all had a thing. He read comic books with
Christopher, rode bikes with Mary, ran around with the dog outside with Leonard, talked
baseball with Janie and Johna
thon, and went on walks with me. I was the oldest, and we always
went on walks together ever since I was young. My feet always hurt on those damn walks, and I
hated them, now that I think about it. What’s the point of walking?


So one night, my Dad came h
ome really late, and I was 15 at the time. I was having a late
night snack like teenage boys do. My dad stumbles in and sits down, he’s laughing.
Muttering

curse words under his breath. I ignore him. I start pouring some milk into a glass, and my Dad
comes

over and calls me a name. I think it was fag. I can smell whiskey on his breath, but my
Dad was never a drinker. He starts leaning over the counter and staring at me, asking me what
I’m doing. I kept ignoring him because I had never s
een my Daddy like thi
s before.
Before I can
react, my Dad takes the milk jug and throws it on the ground, and then he punches me in the
stomach so hard that I fall onto the tile (that we had installed ourselves.) My Dad slips on the
milk and falls on top of me. I can feel glas
s in my back, and then he starts punching me in the
face so I felt my hand on the ground for something but all I could find was a long shard of glass
that had probably been the side of the jug because back then we got milk in glass jugs or bottles
whicheve
r you wanted to buy and I took the shard and I stabbed him in the side just belo
w the
right rib and I said
----

you Dad
----

you and I stabbed him again and he kept punching me and
then he was crying and he puked on me and I smelt the whiskey again and the
n I kept stabb
ing
him and telling him to
----

off or go
----


himself or something and there was blood everywhere
and then he started crying and asking what the hell was going on and why we were on the ground
and he slumped over

and he died on the floor an
d my brother Chris had seen the entire thing and
he called the cops and the family was waking up and I was questioned later that night and
throughout the entire trials and records of everything everyone said my Dad was a great man and
so did I and I said h
e was drunk and he had attacked me and I was defending myself and my
dad’s employees said that my Dad had been fired and his world had been shattered because he
was always trying so hard to provide for us that I guess it was the air in his lungs if you kno
w
what I mean and I guess he was afraid and unrealistic so he lost it and got drunk and came home
and attacked me because I was something precious that he could not love anymore because he
had. Failed me. And I killed him to defend. Me. I guess I didn’t li
ke him all that much.

I had to
go group therapy sessions after that, with some other teenagers who had been through traumatic
events. I don’t really remember them. The teenagers, not the sessions.


The moral of the story is this: Don’t be my Dad, or I’ll k
ill you. Yipes. I’m kidding, Jesus
Christ I’m kidding. Don’t be my Dad, but also be my Dad. You see, he lov
ed us so much, that
when he thought

he wouldn’t be able to love us anymore, he stopped loving himself, and thus,
us. You feel me? He invested himsel
f into a good thing so strongly, that when he thought he
would lose it, he was too afraid to face the journey and hardship of truly living for us. He didn’t
want to watch us go hungry for a day, or have us watch him job hunt, or force my mom to work.
He on
ly loved us when everything was peachy.

He didn’t want to have his idea of happiness
shattered, and have to fight for it. He had already done that when things were fine. I guess.


That’s kind of a lie. I don’t know if he actually lost his job. I don’t rem
ember. That’s just
my guess. But it ended up being ruled as an act of self defense, and I got a job at John’s Shop,
went to college on my Grandparent’s dollars, and you know the rest. Well, not yet. But you will.

When I see myself in that doorway, I see Da
d. The glass of the door reminds me of my weapon
of choice. Or, weapon of circumstance I guess. My mom knows I didn’t have to kill him.
Everyone does. Chris knows, too. But I did. Chris became depressed and he killed himself when
he was 17. I hope he’s hap
pier now. Or whatever we become when we die. You know, we
always praise this idea of an afterlife, but what if the goal is to NOT die? What if we all started
listening to Doctor Oz and stopped
smoking

or what if we all meditated and did yoga
every day
?
Wha
t if eternal life is possible if you just put a god damn ounce of effort into it? I mean really,
how often do you try to live? Literally make yourself

You should make amends with you, if only for better health. But if you really want to live, why
not try a
nd make yourself?”

breathe and live, and be thankful for everything? Maybe we could live forever if we actually
wanted to. I don’t think anyone actually wants to. Maybe the saggy, old skin of our elderly lives
is just a cocoon of rebirth that we have to pu
sh through. Maybe when we close our eyes to die,
we’re supposed to try to keep them open just ONE more time, and then whatever diseases or
ailments we have help us remake ourselves into a higher form of a human. I mean, I bet dying
feels good. I bet when t
he feeling comes around, people just close their eyes and embrace the
comforting rest of death. But I bet you just have to push a little harder. You have to WANT to
live. But maybe, at the end of the road, no one wants to because all their friends already
gave up.
And when their cocoon is ready to hatch, they close their eyes because they’re done with this god
damned joke of a world.


I don’t care what you believe: imagine nothing happens after you die, and you lose all
consciousness. There are no thoughts.

You’re gone. How does that make you feel?



















The park bench.

VIII

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as
well as you deserve.” Bilbo Baggins


Standing and observing the passing cars, The Walker and The Geezer enjoyed their
pretzels. The stand was a 24 hour business. One brother worked during the
day

and the other
during the night. Having not used iPods or smart phones, The Geezer believed the
24

Hour
p
retzel stand to be the greatest invention mankind had ever seen.


“And so, this is what I eat,” The Geezer explained. “Usually by the end o’ the day, I’ve
got more than 50 cents, so I get me a few pretzels.” The Walker nodded. He wasn’t exactly
int
erested in The Geezer’s eating habits, but there was something alluring about the old man.


“Hey so, about the bus stop…” The Walker suggested awkwardly. He had finished his
pretzel and was ready to continue the rest of the trip.


“Oh, shit. I forgot, so
n. Take ya there right away. All we hafta do is walk up thattaway n’
take a left. It’s right there. Really not far at all. Sorry, forgot is all.” The Geezer explained
apologetically. He threw away the rest of his pretzel, smiled at the vendor (who looked
e
xtremely tired and uninterested) and motioned for The Walker to follow him.


“Oh no I mean, I was going to say that I’d be totally fine with taking, I don’t know.
Taking like, a longer route. You know, a detour.” The Walker said hopefully. The Geezer smi
led
at this, he had made another friend. However, his smile turned into a sheepish frown.


“I dunno about a detour. My old legs really don’t take me very far. But I promise if ya
shuffle along with me, we can still have a damn good time,” he presented ano
ther toothy smile.
The Walker felt sympathetic
for The Geezer; all the old coot

really wanted was a friend, whether
or not he would admit it openly. However, The Walker would play into his game.


“Now, you have to tell me: how
do

you do that step?” The Wa
lker joke as he imitated
The Geezer. The Geezer chuckled at this.


“ S’called 62 years o’ livin’, 27 years o’ sleepin’ on a damned bench, and eating Kellog’s
ever’ mornin’ for a well balanced brefisk,” The Geezer spat at The Walker. They both laughed at
this and shuffled down the street together. Viewing the sight of the two ridiculous men wobble
around, The Whore let out a small humph
.
She was familiar with The Geezer; she had even
offered him her services before. But the younger face was unknown to her.

As pissed off as she
was, she enjoyed watching the fools hobble
past bars, over sewer grates, and under street lights.
The lights made it seem as if they were a featured comedy act. Truth be told, she had somewhere
to be. It was 12:22AM, which meant, unle
ss she had been picked up, she was supposed to be
walking Jameson. She hadn’t been picked up and wasn’t on Jameson. She was a bad whore.


Suddenly, the old man tripped and fell straight on his face. A dull thud rang out through
the sleepy city streets, and

an
oh my god!

chased it away. Exhausted yet amused, The Whore
crossed the street to see what was going on. The Geezer was sitting up and holding his nose,
blood was gushing down his hand and soaking into his jacket.
The Walker was on his knees with
an arm

on The Geezer’s shoulder. Both men turned their heads toward The Whore as she walked
over.


“Don’ worry about me. Just slipt and took a nasty little fall is all!” The Geezer yelled as
he was waving his free arm in the air.


“No offense bro, but you took
quite a tumble there. Might want to think about stopping
that bleeding,” The Whore replied with a sly smile and the raise of an eyebrow. Her voice was
strong and dominant, yet undeniably feminine. Had she played her cards differently, she
would’ve made a f
ine drill sergeant. Her jet black hair rested upon her shoulders in long waves.
She smelled of nicotine and perfume.


“…Bro?” The Geezer wheezed back to The Whore. “Well hell, now I don’t know who I
should be t’night. The
Whore’s

brother or The
Walker’s
geezer!” he quipped as he went into
another fit of laughing and coughing. It was impossible to tell a difference between the two. The
Geezer reached his arm out, and The Walker helped him stand. There the three of them stood,
pillars of society, casting el
ongated shadows from the lamp post above. The Whore’s prior
amusement now turned to a budding annoyance, and even The Walker looked slightly doubtful
as The Geezer stared blankly at the two of them. The Walker decided to brea
k the silence.


“ So are you
-



Only to be interrupted by The Geezer.


“ C’mon now
! I’ve shared a pretzel with
you
, and
you

claim to be my sister, but I guess I
don’t really know either of ya! Interested in swapping a story or two as these old bones shuffle to
the bus stop?” The Geezer’
s offer hung in the air as he walked away from his two companions.
The Walker followed The Geezer in pursuit of his ride home, and The Whore followed because
in recent days, she was not all too sure about the nature of her business.


The unlikely acquaint
ances strolled along in a necessary silence. They were all honestly
trying to come up with stories to tell one another. The Walker’s stance was of an upright posture
with his head looking at the ground. The Geezer’s form was as crooked as ever with drops o
f
blood marking where his boots had been. The Whore’s demeanor was frigid and tight due to the
fact that a small jean jacket was the only thing providing her with warmth. Not willing to take a
young man’s shirt or a homeless man’
s jacket but eyeing an allu
ring piece in a clothing store
across the street, The Whore came up with a proposal.


“Alright, stop!” she demanded as she stepped in front of the men. A sensual smile crept
upon her face. “You boys want to have some fun?” Her voice echoed slightly, but wa
s then
killed by the sound of a passing car. Traffic was thin to none at this hour, and the moon was
resting in the sky. The Geezer waited patiently for The Whore to
finish

her statement, but The
Walker looked away in embarrassment. “Don’t get your hopes u
p to fast, junior,” The Whore
continued as The Walker blushed.
“You

boys are walking around all cozy like in your nice
clothes, leaving a nice girl like me to the cold. I’ll excuse your manners for now, because it’s a
given that all men are apes, but I’m f
eeling light tonight, new. Probably the reason I’m following
you ne’er do wells in the first place. But you know what? I want that jacket.” Said The Whore as
she pointed across the street to the definite CLOSED sign on the clothing store window.


The Geez
er took a step toward The Whore. Teasingly he said, “Now what do men of
class like us have any business helpin’

a peasant

like yourself?” He looked back at The Walker
and giggled.
The Walker simply shrugged. The Whore’s face showed no emotion until it crac
ked
into pleasant surprise. The two were getting along well. The Whore took a step toward The
Geezer, closing all space between them.


“You boys get the jacket for me, and I’ll start your game of stories. I’ve got a tale that’ll
knock you off your feet.” S
he smiled wryly, winked, and lit up a cigarette.


“We’ll get it,” The Geezer said. “But first, lemme go take a leak…” He limped into the
darkness of an ally. The Walker and The Whore stood next to each other for a few moments with
neither one of them both
ering to acknowledge the other. The Whore flicked a half smoked
cigarette onto the ground and stomped it out with her boot.


“You know, if you’re gonna waste em like that you may as well give half of the pack to
me,” The Walker said jokingly.


“If you wa
nt a smoke, all you had to do was ask
,” responded The Whore as she handed
him a cigarette and provided a light. She lit up another of her own, and the two smoked together
as a Hostess Truck passed by, following by a Chevrolet pickup truck. “So, this guy yo
ur grandpa
or something?”


“Oh, no,” The Walker said with a laugh.
“I

was wandering around looking for a bus stop,
and I kept seeing the same damn buildings. I didn’t want to get anymore lost than I already was,
so I asked him for some help. At first he lo
oked pissed off, or grumpy or, something. But then he
starts pulling this gig as Yoda or something.”


“Yoda?”


“Cackling, bumbling alien puppet from Star Wars?”


“Never seen it.”


“So, you’re a…”


“You can say it.”


“Prostitute?”


“Experienced and reliable

jeweler, actually.”


“Oh? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”


“Kidding. I’m a whore.” She flicked another half smoked cigarette onto the ground.


“Not too big on finishing those are you?” The Walker said as he took a drag. He had only
smoked a few times in hi
s life, mostly from a pipe. But tonight seemed like a special occasion.


“Really reflects a thing or two about me when you think about it. I like leaving my
mark,” The Whore responded. Silence hung between them.


“You remind me of a book. The type I would

have to read in highschool.” The Walker
added thoughtfully. The Whore stopped for a moment and looked The Walker in the eyes.


“Which one?” She as
ked with an absolute sincerity.


“Well, I didn’t mean a single
one
…but, just. I don’t know. Nevermind.”


“Okay.”


Before long, the tell tale scuffs of The Geezer came around the corner. He had one hand
concealed in his jacket. “Smoking out here? I should beat ya. Smoking’s bad. Youngsters
shouldn’t be smoking. No smoking for youngsters. Shouldn’t be no cigare
ttes for a Walker or a
Whore.” The Geezer mumbled as he started to cross the street. His companions followed him.


“What can I say, The Walker has a habit,” The Whore added whimsically.


The three gathered around the window pane of the store, eyeing the
lavish fur jacket. The
Whore was about to say that she did not want it anymore, and that she was fine with being a little
bit cold. The Walker was about to say that they should try the back of the building to see if there
were any unlocked doors. Before ei
ther of these comments could be made, The Geezer protruded
a brick from the inside of his jacket, and threw it at the window. The g
lass shattered and an alarm
started to ring. Without saying a word and with a look of wild excitement, The Whore jumped up
in
to the store and ripped the jacket from its resting place. She jumped down, and sprinted off into
a nearby park. The Walker and The Geezer(slowly) followed.



The Whore Sees a Murder


Gathered around an oak tree, the trio sits and prepares their stories.

The Walker is
smoking again. The Geezer’s bleeding has stopped and he is ripping grass from the ground
.

The
Whore

warns them that the story is bizarre, and must be kept secret. The Walker nods with the
utmost diligence to respect her wish as he puts out h
is cigarette on the sole of his shoe. The
Geezer explains he has no one to tell anyway, unless he starts to form some alternate
personalities to chat with. The Whore is dissatisfied with his comment, but The Walker can’t

help
but reveal the slightest smirk

.
”Well, this is the story of how I befriended a clown and watched
him get murdered.”


The Whore begins.


Well, I’ve been doing this gig for awhile now. Usually I’ll get a 24 year old who feels
he’s behind the curve, a midlife crisis subject who works lat
e, or something in between. One
time I see this guy riding

a bike around Jameson at about 12:45 in the morning. He’s being a
total asshole about it though, like, it changed from interesting to annoying faster than my first Pre
Med Student. He’s ringing thi
s bell on the bike as he rides around.
He’s wearing this ridiculous
red wig, you know, with the curly hair and
all that. He’s also wearing these

huge, baggy orange
pants. To be honest, it was pretty creepy.
In my mind I’m thinking in any second he’s gonna
get
picked up by the police, or taken down by Batman, secretly being some sort of insane
accomplice to the Joker.
She laughs to herself at this comment. The Geezer and The Walker take
no notice.


So then he comes up to me, and stares at me. He’s reminding
me of a cross between
Ronald McDonald and Pennywise the Clown… He dismounts his bike, and continues staring at
me. The face make up he has on is dripping off. Just so you know, I’m not stupid. I have a knife
on me, and this was the closest I ever got to us
ing it. Although I didn’t have to, because he took
off the wig, and wipes his make up off, and asked me if we could go on a walk.

His face is
surprisingly handsome, but his teeth seem fake. They look as if they’re made of cheap plastic.
But like I said, he
’s an attractive guy under the clown make up. Chiseled features, deep blue
eyes, his hair has that Clark Kent Curl going on… And here I was, walking with him.

This was
probably the closest I’ve ever felt to being in a book, or a movie


or, something like that.


The Geezer is picking up on it, The Walker is not.


I told him it would cost him, and he didn’t seem to mind. So, I walked with him. And
there we were, striding along under a purple night sky. I’ve always wanted to say that. Th
ere’s so
many different ways I can say it, too. I could say we were walking briskly, or sauntering, or…
you know, anything. And it makes it different, you know? I always think that’s weird. With
language and stuff.


She blushes.


I remember it now, we end
ed up in this park, actually. We sat for awhile, and I was
wearing shoes I could slip off. I remember the grass feeling cozy and warm. Almost like there
was a furnace below it, or something. Well I guess there is, it’s the core of the Earth and…yeah.
So I
remember it, we were sitting on an aluminum bench that was cold on my back, and the
branches from a nearby tree stretched out toward us. And the grass, well, like I said, it was
warm. He talked a lot about whatever this, and whenever that. I read somewhere

once that time is
a snaking that is swallowing its own back end, so I didn’t really care about when his stories took
place, and since I was bored that night, I didn’t care what he was talking about.

I know he cried a
few times, and said he was in a lot of

trouble. I patted his shoulder and said, “There there, there
there.” It didn’t seem to do much, but I had read in a book one time that one of the character’s
consoled a dying character by saying that, so I thought I may as well do it.

Eventually he got
ar
ound to bringing me back to his place, and on the way there I spotted a shooting star.


It’s interesting. Seeing a shooting star, I mean. Have you guys ever seen one? It looks
like a quick stroke of a paint brush up in the sky. Almost like, a Creator deci
des to show us a
little bit of what’s coming next. A swift, fading stroke of a paint brush… that’s what a shooting
star is.


She trails off after this. The Geezer begins to nod off, and The Walker sits with astute
stillness.


Sorry, I just… I really, I do
n’t know. I don’t care what you guys think, but I guess I like
the idea of a God. I don’t know if I believe in one, or if I want to believe in one, because I don’t
really like the idea of believing in One… But I guess I do believe. You see, I had a friend
in high
school who freaked out after I told her that I had lost my virginity. She was all Church
-
Campy
and, actually, you know what? She lost hers before I lost mine! And I guess because she viewed
it as a time of darkness in her life, and she confessed, t
hen that made her cleaner than me, or
something. I hate how people are so afraid of sex. Anyway, God. She told me once that God was
the Author of Creation. And that really stuck with me. You know? Because an author, well, they
plan everything, whether or n
ot it makes it into the story. They know where their characters
come from, where they will go, what they will do, and where they have been. They know the
shoes that have strode upon the grounds they write about… There’s a beginning, and an end.
Some charac
ters in the story aren’t around for both. Most aren’t, actually. But I guess I just see it
as such a beautiful concept that God would be an Author of all of us. Knowing everything about
us, creating us. Every detail from our nose to our toes. Ah damn, that

was corny. Sorry. But
really… If God was an Author, that would mean there’s a method to all of this. That would mean
that what I’m going through is really just the arc that was planned for me… But you see, God
would be a good author right? A good author p
uts meaning into every character, whether their
significant role is to die, kill, love, hate, or just be present in a passing glance. So I believe, that
maybe despite the shit I’ve practically waded through, that there’s a significance and symbolism
to it
all. Maybe my character hasn’t come into play yet in the grand scheme of things, maybe my
meaning hasn’t been revealed. But if God is an Author of Creation, then He has a Plan, right?


“I guess,” The Walker answers with staleness.


Sorry, I’ll go on…
So we

were at his place, we did the deed, and I was getting ready to
shove off. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. I peered over to him, and he was as white as
the sheets he lay on. He tries to say something to me, but it was cut off by a shotgun blast ri
pping
apart his face. A gaping hole was in the door, and then it was kicked in. An enormous, ape
-
like
man walked in. He was wearing a purple suit, I think, and aviator sunglasses. He was extremely
hairy, I remember that, and his skin was red
-
ish.


He looke
d right at me, and he asked me, “Will you tell anyone?”

I shook my head no.

He asked again, “Will you tell anyone?”

I tried to say no, but my throat was dry and filled with fright.

He asked again, “Will you tell anyone?” as he cocked his shotgun.

I looked over at the corpse on the now blood stained sheets. Some of the blood has
splattered onto the min fridge next to the bed, some more on the fan above and window behind.

“Never.” I said. And he looked at me more, well not looked, but stared at me.
Leered into
me. And he believed me. Which, I guess was a misjudgment on his part, because I just told you
the story of how I befriended a pseudo clown and watch him get murdered.

Questions hang in the air. Who was the Clown? Who was the Purple Suited Red
Man?
What was The Clown like? Why was he killed? What did The Clown talk about in the park?
Contrast to written word, these questions will forever roam in the spoken words of The Whore.
She did not touch upon them in her dialect; therefore I will not touch

upon them in mine.



The Walker Eats His Pancakes


The Whore pats The Walker on the back, signifying that he is next. He smiles, laughs, and
falls backwards over the bench. There he lay with his hands behind his head, observing the
branches above.
“Alright. I don’t know where this story is coming from, or why I’m telling it, but
here it goes.” The Walker begins as The Fox prowls unbeknownst and too close for comfort.


Okay so, when I was growing up my family always had the same house. We never moved

or anything. There were five of us kids, Me, Jenna, Jacqluine, Reedus, and
Samuel. I was the
middle kid, with 2 older brothers, Reedus and Sam, and my younger sisters, Jenna and Jacqluine.
Reedus was named after my Grandpa, who was actually named Feldon,
but he used to read local
kids stories all the time, and he became Reedus. I don’t know if that’s true though…


We celebrated Christmas every year in the same way: We all had an enormous pancake
breakfast together, and whoever finished first, got to open t
heir gifts before everyone else.
Samuel had won every year as far as I can remember, but there’s one year in particular which is,
you know, my story. A few years back, it was going to be my last year at home before going to
college. Luckily, all of us coul
d be together because Reedus had been able to get home from
Maryland, and Samuel had been living at home that year. Jenna and Jacqluine were still in
highschool. See, we have this huge wooden table with these slick black legs on it, and that’s
where we all

gathered.
I remember waking up that morning on the couch and looking out the
window. Man, the early sun’s rays were shining right through. I could see all the little stuff
floatin’ around in the air and all that. It always makes me think I’m in a story, l
ike a fairytale,
when I see the sun do that. It’s so surreal to me. I don’t know if it’s what happens next, or the
way the windows looked that morning that makes me remember this story.


The Walker is grinning from ear to ear. The Geezer closes his eyes as

he listens. The
facts are unclear whether or not he fell asleep. The Whore was becoming nervous because she
spotted The Fox in the distance.


We all get to the table one at a time, right? And we’re sitting there. I’m wearing plaid
pants and an old T shirt
, and I guess it runs in the family, because so are my brothers. Jenna
joined us, wearing sweat pants and a T Shirt that said, “2004 Race for the Cure!” I don’t know
why I still remember that. Jacqluine sat down, and then mom walks in with the pancakes. Ou
r
table was right by the big window that you could see the front yard from. Mom sits down, and
we all start to eat. After a few seconds, Jacqluine says, “Wait, where’s Daddy?”


And I swear to you, this isn’t a lie, at that exact moment we all heard a slam

followed by
a
DAMNIT!!!
My dad came flying down the steps, slid on the wood floor, and barged into the
dining room. His face was half shaven, his jeans were on but his belt was unbuckled, and other
than that, my dad had no clothes to show for. He screams
at us, “Who done it?! Who done it?!
Was it you Reedus?!” Reedus was the only one laughing. Unfortunately for him, the decision to
grow his hair into an afro ill timed, because my father grabbed a clump of hair and started to
pull. “Was it you Reedus?! Huh?
!” Reedus was still cracked up and banging his hand son the
table, both in pleasure and pain. “No Daddy, it wasn’t me!” he says in between hysterical
giggles. Suddenly, Samuel is darting out, I swear, he’s darting right out of the room and out of
the house
. My dad glares at us all with tiger’s eyes and points. Then he shook his head and
chased after Samuel.


All I can remember is my dad tackling Sam and bringing him to the ground. Reedus ran
outside and tackled my Dad, and I watched it all from the window.

And there they were: my
older brothers and my dad, fighting each other like wild animals on the front lawn. Jacqluine and
Jenna watched eagerly as my mother frantically chased after them. I remember sitting there at the
table and eating. Just… eating. I
hadn’t said a word all morning. My mom was trying to pry dad
off of Sam, and at this point Reedus was rollin
g around laughing like a hyena. Suddenly, the
sprinklers turned on, and I guess it’s true that things only become crazier when you add water.


But
you know what? I finished my pancakes. Silently, efficiently, and deliciously, I
finished my pancakes. It was basically the end of being a kid, the demise of my childhood. I got
to open my gifts first that year. To be honest with you, and this is the perfe
ct tie in to the cute
little Christmas story, I don’t remember what I got. All I really recall is the incident with my dad.
The enraged look of him, the insane look on Reedus’ face, and the hilarity of the moment when
Samuel ran for his life. I have no ide
a what it was all about, and I never got around to asking.


The Geezer shows a soft smile when The Walker says this. The Whore lets out a quiet
laugh.


But you know what really blows? That was the last time I ever saw Reedus
. I didn’t even
realize that until now… I… Holy crap. I haven’t seen him in years. He left the next morning to
go back to Maryland and… Oh my God. I mean, we’ve talked over the phone and… Oh my God.
I haven’t seen my big brother since… holy crap…


The repo
rts insist that The Walker never actually told his tale, hence why it is the shortest
and vaguest of the three. Some suspect that this story was just a lead
-
in to a larger story, a more
intimate story. However, The Walker was completely derailed by thought
s of his brother, and
then, by thoughts of his family.
The Fox had wandered off, but he would soon spot The Whore.
Not yet. The Whore and The Geezer sat for a few moments to make sure that The Walker was
finished. The story was not over, but it continued i
n his mind. After a minute, it was clear that
The Walker had no interest in continuing talking.


The Geezer Spies, Cries, and Almost Dies









The

fourth time th
at Alicia had dyed her hai
r
.

IX

“The worst kind of non
-
smokers are

the ones who come up to you and cough. That’s pretty
fucking cruel isn’t it? Do you go up to cripples and dance too?”

Bill Hicks

INT. Small Apartment Room.

It is midday. Clothes and various
items are scattered about. Paintings hang on the wall, paintings
lie on the floor. Crumbled manuscripts, decaying clay
sculptures, shattered glass art. Floor is masked and concealed
by countless failures.



Editor: Revis
e.

INT. Small Apartment Room. Midday. Room is lacking a Magnum
Opus.



Editor: Awkward. Revise.

INT. Small Apartment Room. Midday. Empty room, empty woman, lack
of creativity or success.

Alicia, a young woman of 22 with artificially red hair, paces
about
the room while talking on the phone. Phone is held between
shoulder and chin. Wearing sweatpants, black tanktop, hair in a
ponytail. No shoes.

A cigarette (American Spirit) rests between
her index and middle finger.

Alicia

No mom. No, I… Well I did submit

the painting I… Yes mom. I won
it. Well it… No it’s not what you think. It doesn’t matter like
you think it does. This isn’t, well, this isn’t grade school
anymore.

Talking is heard on the other end of the phone. Alicia’s facial
expression changes from bo
red to defensive.

Alicia

Yes. Mom… yes. Yes. I have the job at the… yes. Mom I have the
job at the Art Museum…Downtown. Yeah. Well I… Mom, could you
stop? Christ… I have the job at the Art Museum… yes mom. I
started out as, I don’t know, I answered phones.

Now I manage
the local exhibitions…No, mom. No, I don’t feature myself.

She paces around the room, and exits into a small kitchen.
Macaroni and Cheese is cooking on the stove. Alicia adds a dash
of something and takes a drag off her cigarette.

Alicia

Bec
ause Mom, it’s not about me. It’s about… my job is to
organize local exhibitions… Mom, please just listen. I’ve
finally settled into a cozy schedule of doing bi
-
monthly art
exhibitions. I have
a team working for me that look

at all the
pieces that get sent

into us. Poems, drawings, paintings,
sculptures, sometimes even digital art and music videos. It’s a
lot of fun, and I’m loving it…Do I still do art?

She pauses for a moment. Shot of Alicia’s face, move slowly
backwards into cluttered room.

Editor:
Revise.


She pauses for a moment. Close up on Alicia. Slowly move out of
kitchen into the messy room. Scattered/scrapped/failed art
projects.

Editor: Contradictory. Revise.

She pauses for a moment. Close up on Alicia. Slowly move
backward into room lacking

inspiration and creativity.

Alicia(cont.)

No, I
actually

haven’t been working on much lately. Busy with
the job, you know…yeah…Oh that would be great! I’ll need to
clean up a bit though… oh you do? Alright, I’ll let you go then…
I know mom.

Alicia ends t
he call,
flicks her cigarette into the sink, and
slowly slides down onto the cold tile, crying. Brain Damage can
be heard quietly.

And if the dam breaks open many years to
o

soon

And if there is no room upon the hill

And if your head explodes with dark
forebodings, too

I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

The music fades out as the phone rings. Alicia does not answer.
The music fades back in.

And if the cloud bursts thunder in your ear

You shout and no one seems to hear

And if the band you’re in st
arts playin’ different tunes

I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon




It’s twelve o’ clock on a Saturday. Alicia, now working at an art museum, paces around
her apartment. She is talking with her mother on the phone; her mother’s asks many this and that
questions concerning everything from her career to her love life. Her mo
ther’s voice is mostly a
dull hum accompanied by the occasional crack of static. A question if fired, something about her
job. Alicia answers as she steps over a crumbling clay sculpture of a Clydesdale. Macaroni is
cooking in the kitchen. As her mother wo
nders why Alicia isn’t putting more focus on her own
art in her exhibitions, Alicia steps over an unfinished novel. What was it called? What is scary?
Poetic? Post Modern? Was it a screenplay? Journal entry? As Alicia takes a drag, the
mashed
manuscript jo
ins the art projects of triviality in the recesses of its creator’s brain. Alicia flicked
her cigarette and the ashes fell upon an oil painting of two boxers inches away from making
contact. The painting was inspired from an inside joke between Alicia and
a friend. The men’s
bodies were rubber like, their arms bending in odd shapes. A purple aura surrounded their nearly
meeting fists in the middle, and around both men shone a green light.
Fuck.
She thought as her
carpet was slightly singed by the falling as
h.


Her mother proceeded with the questions. Whether or not she was creating art,
showcasing her art, art art art art art. A word starts to become annoying when one hears it one
thousand times within sixty seconds. Alicia was answering her questions. Some
what. The Artist
steps over another project; it’s some sort of glass creation. Its neighbor is another clay sculpture
that looks like an elephant that was morphed into a pipe. Beside those lay a picture of a boy in
overalls holding a balloon; inside the ba
lloon there is a melting desk.
She looks over slightly,
before entering her small, cramped kitchen. She sees a mirror, and above it three wooden
carvings that say LIVE LAUGH LOVE.
Her mother’s babbles faded into blahs as she looked
below the carvings and s
aw a woman in a mirror. That woman was her, and she was looking
beautifully bummish today. She gave herself a wink and thought,
Lookin’ good Alicia.
She
continued to appease her mother’s thirst for questions as she entered the kitchen.


As her mom speaks, she inhales the dull taste of her stale cigarettes. This was an old pack
that had been lying around. Alicia speaks calmly on each exhalation. She adds something into
her macaroni, although she’s not sure what it was. These phone calls ha
ppen somewhat often,
although, not as much as they used to. They are usually an interrogation that Alicia doesn’t mind.
No certain statement ever seems to dig too deep; it is usually just a mother checking in on her
child. However, as if from left field, t
he simplest words are spoken.
Are you still working on
your art, honey?

Once again, the word art is thrown around as if it means nothing. Maybe it does
mean nothing. Maybe it means nothing at all. The exhaustion of a word can leave a sour taste in
the mout
h of a speaker, but this time it instills bitterness in the listener.


Alicia replies in the negative as she looks out of the kitchen and into the clutter. It’s time
for mommy to go.
I love you, dear.
Alicia flicks her cigarette into the sink.



I know mo
m,” Alicia speaks into the phone as continues to gaze upon the other room.
She hears Pink Floyd’s
Brain Damage

begin
s

to play as she slowly slides onto the cold, tile
floor. Vision blurred by tears, Alicia wonders what is plaguing her. She works in an art
museum,
surrounded by her passions. She creates seemingly masterpiece after masterpiece. What isn’t
working? Is it simply the exhaustion of the word
,

art? Has the meaning transcended the
language? Art museum. Art project. Gl
ass art. Clay

sculptures. Novels
. Paintings. Photographs.
Graphic designs.


At what point was the meaning loss? Leaning her head back onto the lower counter
cabinet, Ali
cia asks these questions. At what

point in time did she become lost in her dream?
When did the meaning of her life bec
ome a meaningless concept, defined by a w
ord she can no
longer tolerate? A

word she cannot
fucking stand.
Certainly it is not her skill that brought upon
these feelings. Creating these many projects was an absolute joy, but the finished product has
brought

nothing but a desire to move onto the next. And the next. And t
he next. It is a vampire of
a passion that is

nearly sucking the life out of its master. What does a late night mean when its
baggy eyes and nicotine stained fingers are washed out by a 6:00 A
M shower? What does a
creation mean when it does not satisfy its creator?

At what point did satisfaction replace
expression?

She does not know. But David Gilmour continues singing, and her lighter is out of fluid.
And mom checks in every now and again, an
d Daddy lends some cash if necessary.
James calls
sometimes, and a picture of Elmo hangs above a mirror. The floor is riddled with projects; the
floor is covered with stuff. The floor is cold, her palms are sweaty, and Alicia simply cries.



X


I like to walk beside you, your steps are short like mine. You never say, “Hurry up!”,
you always take your time. Most people have to hurry, so they don’t stop to see. I’m glad that
God made Grandpa, unrushed and young like me.”

Some poem that was given to

me when I
was ten.

A small boy wakes up in the early hours of the morning. He changes from his Batman
Pajamas into crinkly Adidas shorts, a shirt with a train on it, and tops off the outfit with a Mickey
Mouse Hat. On July 4
th
, 1998, the boy had found th
e hat in his cousins’ basement. Being
attracted to the beloved cartoon mouse, the boy wore the hat and simply refused to give it back.
Soon enough, its owners obliged and the boy had worn the hat every day since. The boy rushes
to the bathroom where he bru
shes his teeth. Barely peeking over the sink, he makes funny faces
in the mirror and pretends that he is a talk show host sitting behind a desk. He runs back into his
tiny, simple room to grab his shoes. They are secured with Velcro because he cannot tie l
aces. As
he sits on his floor and struggles to put on his shoes, the boy looks up at the borders of his room.
His mommy painted them for him when he was a baby: red, blue, green, and yellow trains
travelled around and around his rooms, puffing little cloud
s of gray smoke behind them.

After the shoes are on his feet, he nearly sprints to the staircase; however, he goes down
the steps one at a time because his older sister told him that if he went down too fast he could trip
and fall. His mommy greets him and

has some oatmeal set out for him, but he only eats small
spoonfuls. He doesn’t like eating in the morning; it simply does not sit well in his stomach. He
will always be like this. Bowls are pushed, bowls are washed, and bowls are put away as mother
and so
n prepare to leave. The family dog barks as the two exit the house through the kitchen
door. He’s a small white thing with a whole lot of bite. On some days, the boy and the dog
explore the house together and crawl under, over, and behind anything they can

find.

The boy opens the van door and hops in; he briefly smells gasoline and the misty aroma
of a new spring day. He buckles his seat belt and pretends he is Buzz Lightyear during a certain
scene in Toy Story where Buzz rides in a pizza delivery car. The

ride to his Grandparents house
is brief and accompanied by the music of Celine Dion and Elvis Presley. Soon enough his mom
pulls the van up to a quaint little house; the garage door is a rusty brown
and the porch is a
structure made of thousands of tiny r
ocks. The young boy walks up to the squeaky front door,
but not without picking up a few lava rocks.

“Drop them,” his mom says as she puts a hand on his right shoulder. He tosses them aside
somewhere between the lawn flamingo and the Polish flag. The fron
t door opens with an almost
painful squeak. “Now he didn’t eat much of breakfast,” mom informs Maw Maw, “So don’t give
him any junk food.” The boy runs into the house to find his best pal, Paw Paw, as Maw Maw and
mom exchange words.

Maw Maw and Paw Paw we
re the little boy’s grandparents. He didn’t know why he
called them that, but only that the names originated from his older sister. Grandma was simply
Maw Maw, and Grandpa was simply Paw Paw. Past the shelf of music boxes and table with
family portraits,

a
nd beside the cabinet with a record player resting on top, sat the plaid couch.
Paw Paw was sitting there with a plaid, flannel shirt that’s colors of red, black, and gray opposed
the couch’s pallet of blue, green, and black. The boy sat himself right next

to Paw Paw and
rested his head on his stomach as Match Game played on the TV. The boy would always feel his
Grandfather’s hands; they were old, battletested, and worn. He can still recall feeling his Paw
Paw’s finger tips, and seeing if they were like his

own. The two buddies sat on the couch
hundreds of times, and the boy’s Grandpa taught him how to observe and find humor in
essentially everything. Whether it was Dora the Explorer, Little Bear, The Adventures of Batman
and Robin, Thomas the Tank Engine, B
lues Clues, or the
Nick Junior Interlude known as Face,
Paw Paw made jokes about them all, and the boy did too. Dora was Dumb Dora, Little Bear was
neglected because his parents had clothes and he didn’t, Batman and Robin ran around in their
underwear, Tho
mas was a train who never really went anywhere, Steve on Blues Clues was
clueless, and Face was annoying. The boy would giggle hysterically over his Paw Paw’s
comments; in fact, one time he laughed so hard that he fell off the couch and bumped his head on
the table. The two jokesters sat on the couch and poked fun at simply everything.

In addition to this, the boy would repeat everything and anything that Paw Paw said. He
had gone to preschool on many occasions complaining about how “Everything costs 19.95
and
you always get two!” and how “Everything comes from China!”
While these are merely
examples of what a child’s mouth does not filter, Grandpa has an astounding influence on his
Grandson. Above all else, the boy gained a crucial skill: the ability to loo
k at life, stop, smile,
and throw a jest or two.

Not long after the boy and his Paw Paw finish an episode of Match Game, Maw Maw
shuffles into the room and tells the boy he has to drink a glass of milk. She asks what movie he
wants to watch, and he respon
ds, as usual, with Star Wars. She tells him to go pick which one he
wants to watch, and he returns with
Return of the Jedi

in his hand because it’s the one where
some of the characters almost fall down and a hole and get devoured by a beast in the sand. Th
at
scene always excites him as each character helps one another up back onto the floating sand
skiffs,
and not to forget Luke Skywalker heroically turning the tide of battle by defeating the bad
guys. The boy drinks his glass of milk as his Grandpa slips h
im a yellow lid, on top of which sits
a few cheese balls. It never mattered if mom had said no junk food or not; cheese balls were
always expected and Paw Paw would always supply them. It was a rule of nature. A rule of being
at the Grandparents house. A r
ule of childhood. The boy eats his favorite snack quietly as Maw
Maw disapproves, but even she has been known to slip him a snack from time to time. It’s the
rule.

Before the movie begins, the trio goes outside into the backyard. To this day, the boy can
remember those soft, quiet mornings. The dew was still on the grass, the birds were still waking
up some late dozers, and the soccer ball was always just where he ha
d left it. Maw Maw would
sits on the small bench by the garden as the boy and his Paw Paw would kick the yellow ball
around the yard. The boy would giggle and fall, and then become upset that his clothes were
damp. Other times the boy would try to peek ove
r the large wooden fence at his preschool, only
to fall off the fence and roll down the short hill. Whatever antics the boy got himself into,
Grandpa always smiled from ear to ear watching his grandson discover the little things in the
world. The little th
ings, by a little house, in a little backyard. Although its origins are unknown, a
miniature, stone donkey also sat in the backyard. One of its ears came off if you twisted it
.
Behind the donkey was a low, chain link fence separated the Bogucki’s yard from

Jim’s yard.
Jim had a pool that he never really used.

As they all headed back inside, Maw Maw would break the news that before they could
watch a movie, the boy had to practice his handwriting.

“Now how do we spell Will?” Grandma would ask as she guided

the young boy’s hands.
Crooked letters formed across the page. William Leo Michna they would say. He would look up
at Maw Maw and smile. She was a lovely woman; a constant sense of order. She was known to
have a temper, and nothing upset her more than the

Cardinals losing a game, but when she was
right she was right. And even when she was wrong, she was right. Maw Maw, or Roslie, was a
film fanatic. Ever since she was a little girl she was enthralled by movie stars; however, above all
else, she was in wond
erment of special effects. That is the reason why Roslie enjoyed the Star
Wars movies, or the Superman movies. Growing up, nothing amazed her more than the
development of that technology within her favorite form of art.

Paw Paw, or Leonard, was mostly a s
imple man. He was in the service, and then worked
as a mailman all his life. Leonard did not care for Star Wars, or other flashy movies. All that
Leonard needed was his John Wayne Westerns, or any western in that case. However, he never
seemed to mind sitt
ing through the sci
-
fi adventures (and saying that he personally knew Jabba
the Hutt).
Sometimes William finished the movies, and other times his mom came to pick him
just as everything was winding down. It was a tradition for him to hide in a room in the
house so
he didn’t have to leave, while his grandparents insisted they had not seen him anywhere.
Although every time he always his in the same exact place, and he was always shocked when his
mom was able to find him so quickly.

Wake up, cap on, brush teeth, shoes on, eat food, say goodbye to the dog, see Paw Paw,
see Maw Maw, eat cheese balls, play in the backyard, watch Star Wars, come home. This was
what happened on the days that Will did not have preschool. This was what happe
ned back when
Will never even knew what day of the week it was, but he knew that Superman came on after
Batman, and if he ran up
stairs fast enough at his shows’

conclusion
s
, he could avoid the
Sister,
Sister

theme music.


Years pass by as trains on the wal
l turn into footballs and baseball bats, and then into a
simple white wall. The toys that were played with are shipped away to children who need them,
and the only remnant of those old years is a Spiderman poster on the back of the door. The pot of
soup th
at Maw Maw used to carry transforms into a heavy object that Grandma needs help with.
The lawnmower in the backyard that Paw Paw never allowed his grandson to touch becomes
something that William uses so that his Grandpa does not have to strain himself. Th
e people in
the pictures disappear from life seamlessly and seemingly one by one. Match Game moves
around in its time slot over the years until it’s almost impossible to catch, and the left ear on the
stone donkey breaks off due to inclement weather. The s
occer ball is ripped and torn, and the hill
is covered in rocky landscaping.

Most of these changes slip by unnoticed to William Leo Michna because one thing
remains constant: sitting on the right side his Grandfather on a plaid couch. A simple time of
vis
itation; a time he often forge
ts about because X and Y became more important than pee
king
over a fence.
But a special time nonetheless, and one that he is truly thankful for. At least,
tonight he is. Later on, when he’s 32, he will not be thankful of that
time, but rather, he will be
longing for that time. Tonight he is 17 and he is texting and driving and waiting to meet
someone, somewhere.



Note: clean up. Organize. Reveal willaim from the beginning because “the boy” is
repetitive and occasionally awkwar
d. What’s the POINT?




















































Timothy A. West, also known as The Walker, also known as many other unpleasant
names he had been called in gradeschool by the white kids, also known as Tim, Westy, Timmy,
and Bud,
sat at a high table by himself. He looked around a room of strangers trying to match a
face with a description he had been given years before. It was the annual Christmas party, and
truth be told, Timothy did not work with any of these people. He was tryi
ng to find The
Geezer’s son. Instead, he found a man walking around the room creepily. His hair was

disheveled and his back was slightly hunched, but he still looked like a well meaning guy. To
Timothy’s surprise, their eyes met, and the man began to walk
over to his table.


“You aren’t… Well, you’re new. You ain’t who’s supposed to be there,” the man said to
Tim. He looked at Timothy oddly, and slowly took a seat next to him. “Usually there’s an old
fella here… he always walks out before the end… cries so
metimes… you’re not him, I don’t
think. Much skinnier, I think.” It was true, the man was surprised at how skinny Timothy was.
But Timothy was surprised at how awkward the man was. The man’s face was tired, and his
teeth were yellowing. He breath smelled l
ike a horrible offspring of onion and garlic.


“I’m actually sitting in for a friend. I guess you could say I knew the old fella,” Timothy
forlornly replied. He missed that night. He missed The Geezer. But after he said this, the man’s
face lit up.


“You
knew him? Oh, holy crap. Well I didn’t know that,” suddenly he became excited.
“You see, I know ev’ryone here. All of ‘em. See that photographer? That used to be me. I used to
do that. But I got fired for some bullshit with using my resources for the wrong

purposes or…
something. I dunno. You wouldn’t understand. See that girl? She dyes her hair every year. Got a
new guy just about every year too. She reminds me of my daughter, I think.” And the man went
on and on as The Walker looked around the room to fin
d each person he was being informed of.
The man’s odd side comments were weird for Timothy, but he went along with it. They were
often about the man’s daughter.


“Your daughter,” Bud began. “You mention her a lot…”


Now when he said this, the man went off
on a tangent about his daughter, and how they
had recently been talking after years of separation.