After wrapping herself in the burgundy shawl,
And stands in the kitchen entrance,
A rare occasion indeed,
Such things do not happen to me often on earth,
The only red wine is uncorked,
For we are sad tonight,
Her in my arms on the faded green couch,
The glasses do not clink,
Aphrodite has come to spend the night,
In my fourth floor apartment,
Asleep in my arms,
The bottle lies half-empty,
On the kitchen counter,
I am reading the Divine Comedy,
And thinking of friends,
Laying my hand gently on her hair,
Fingertips barely touching the surface,
Why are we given what we are?
It is well into the morning,
The bottle lies half-empty,
Not even a hair remains on the shawl,
Nothing of her ever having been,
But an empty glass,
And a big heart,
That leaves the door unlocked,
In hope of everything,
And in the light of it being November,
Warm rooms sound nicer.
Are filled with hands-in-hands this evening,
With blushing smiles and quickly caught laughs,
And she is no exception,
Although she be the highest of these,
In a green gown she moves,
With the simplicity of humility,
And a downcast glowing countenance,
She is queen tonight,
And everyone is asleep,
As the queen breaks free,
And sails into the crisp night sky.
Must be full of people like you,
Holy and perfect,
You always have been,
The minister's daughter,
In the back of the service,
You care but it takes effort,
I wish I could help you with that,
Your thoughtful eyes,
Watch but never judge everyone you meet,
With jetted hair,
I expected you to walk right out of my life,
But it was my leaving,
An angel like you,
Would never dream of such a thing,
With such a fervency as I dreamt of you,
Under my awning out of the rain,
You wanted to say it all,
Or at least write it down,
So you asked for some paper,
But I was already out the door,
And you pulled your black pea coat tighter,
Continuing to hurt,
And when I came back down that road,
On a Sunday years later,
You continued to hurt,
We had coffee,
You caught me up on everybody,
I talked about everyone else,
And laughed to myself,
Because you're the only one I really wanted to know about.
To sway like the bass lines,
To drift in triplets,
Falling asleep behind a county fair,
The oldest generation,
Is about the only one worth keeping here,
With their small eyes and worn hands,
They have seen these towns grow,
But still remember bare mountainsides,
I want to give it all back,
The land and the future,
For those who were schooled in church,
And born onto stone floors,
And to the same,
When they can no longer see the sky,
I will be truly sorry.
And step out with our chins high,
And get our heads knocked off,
And fall miles,
And lose faith,
And quit dreams,
And settle down,
I will not stab you in the back,
I will not lose any of this,
I will always love you.
Beaming and glowing,
I want to hide like a child,
Under the table or behind the barn,
But she is there,
Beaming and glowing,
Brightening up the sky at noon,
Resting under the shaded sycamores,
With braided hair she reads,
Beaming and glowing,
We are all just looking for this,
Under our tables and behind our garages,
And she provides the only clue,
Beaming and glowing,
I may be accepting this,
As how you're going to be,
As your scowl is in the morning,
I can't imagine,
Anyone else next to me,
So please shout,
And throw cooked things at me,
When you feel like you're cheated,
Because honey I do to,
And when all we have,
Is that old heirloom coffee table,
We'll go ahead and sell that too.
The white rim of her summer dress waves in circles,
And the brown curls don't reveal a thing,
He wishes it was better,
But the gulls and she will never know,
At the county fundraiser,
He's taking coats while she watches the nursery,
They never get anything done,
And he wishes it was better,
And he hands back their coats,
The end of the year dance sees,
The red rim of her formal dress waves in circles,
With nothing in his eyes he walks away,
The black chords of her eyelashes,
And he thinks about the war and his brother,
And he wishes things were better from the top,
Of a sunset covered bulldozer,
He's floating along,
Through friend's houses and families,
And he wishes they would stay together,
But they and the unopened table wine will never know,
So he takes up his green knapsack,
With some food and a picture,
And she is fast asleep,
And he wishes things were better,
As the powerlines fade behind.
Fascinates both of these children,
A boy and a girl,
Concealed in the elephant leaves,
Watch the shivering curtain before them unravel,
And collect in the muddy clay banks,
One of his overalls is torn,
So she gave up one of her ties to fix it,
One blonde pigtail still protruding like a limp antenna,
He says it was his birthday yesterday,
Although he's not very sure,
But it would make him nine,
Valiant and fair-skinned,
He thinks to himself,
But stays like a heart-stopped rabbit in the leaves,
Her eyes trace his back,
The lumps of his spine showing through red and white stripes,
She imagines a tiger,
Thankfully the rain hides the boy's tears,
And the birds his sobs.
A baby boy was borne to no one in particular,
The product of a migrant with black farmer's cap,
In briefly held bond with a yellow seamstress,
He who came to be your Millard,
Was sent below the earth at nine,
To hollow and carve it out,
Like so many October pumpkins,
All his mechanisms worked,
For a time,
And you saw fit to accept him,
Entwining your futures,
And he gave you two beautiful dusty daughters,
With spirits like summer dresses,
And they had the most beautiful pairs,
Of two green eyes each,
That would soon call husbands of their own,
As your Millard ran down,
Like grinding gears,
That morning he stayed outside,
Millard, whom you came to love honestly,
And he beheld the foggy sun,
With broken eyes,
Kissed your cheek and went down,
And when the hungry mountain swallowed him whole,
His arms were not enough,
Brittle and hollow they began to pop under the weight,
Until he returned to no one in particular,
And the girls with their green eyes,
Looked up at the night sky in wonder.
With hands that trembled,
And an uncertainty in his sleep,
He would bow his head like a priest,
But I could still see into his endlessly black eyes,
As the plane grew higher and higher,
He never said a word,
And as the sun touched his tunneled brown skin through the window,
I felt a twinge of pain that I could not name.
Reads: --After all-------------
---------------Love each other.
And it drags at my heart,
Like a child at my waistcoat,
With miniature gestures,
Inquiring as to where we are,
And I can only point,
My arm raising like a clock tower,
To point down the weakened road,
Its depressions and cracks,
But I have his hand,
And a certain absurd confidence,
That I have come to expect at times like this.
We're trained to find hope,
And in each other,
That things are supposed to matter,
But I don't want the world,
And I don't want to float,
In the past with no mistakes,
Every kind of failure will be mine,
Before they realize,
With unacceptable furrows,
I haven't lost a thing.
Kissing the new girl,
The children snicker and,
Tap on the frosted window outside,
Leaps at mixed feet,
And mixed thoughts,
Of love and the Super Bowl.
A Divine April Fools
On April 1 at 22:13, the Orange Air Force base in Tuscaloosa detected nothing abnormal on the surface of the planet mars. A full sixty seconds later the planet's red, coarse wrapping was dotted with 16,242,070 white beings, all of about the same height of the earth equivalent to 5 feet and 9 inches. The researchers at the Orange Air Force did not at first detect all 16 or so million creatures. They did not have the appropriate ranged telescopes for such a discovery. What they did notice was the pale patch that now lay over a portion of the upper hemisphere, created by the creatures close relation to one another. The researches at the Orange Air Force base at first took this to be a mass of water newly exposed and promptly frozen. A full eighteen minutes passed on the planet earth before it was discovered that the ice was in fact alive. It was still not known that the life was sentient, but rather obvious as the patch began to move and spread. It would be 48 hours before the professional world would admit that an exceptionally large number of, for lack of a better word at the time, people now existed on the planet mars. They made this distinction very clear. Immediately plans were made to investigate closer and a number of astronauts who before had no launch expectation date were trained and prepped for the mission. They were to orbit the planet first, and use special instruments to discover just exactly what the people were doing. Upon relaying this back to earth, the astronauts would be advised either to, if they showed any signs of hostility, return home or else proceed to land a safe distance away from the borders the people had spread to. The radio communications would be aired live on both Fox News and CNN. The launch date was set for April 30th.
Still ring in my ears,
Leaving the auditorium,
You're left wanting,
One leg against the bare outside,
You've never seen me,
I've never seen you,
This is evident,
The moments break like glass,
Jagged moving to the electronic night,
My head is pounding
You have too much eyeshadow,
You have bangs,
Your black hair glosses under the florescent light,
I can't maneuver through the eager crowd,
You were about to leave,
I tell myself,
Things break and form,
A beer bottle from your right hand,
Distractedly collapses on the concrete,
I don't want you to see,
I tell myself,
I touch your cheek,
The broken glass crunches under me,
And then it's all out on the table so take your pick.
I am so far away,
So much the weaker in this,
The tire swing rocks in the rain,
My knuckles are showing white futility,
What was control?
When I was the child,
Resting in something else,
Than everyone else's feelings,
No knowledge of that first fruit,
Of her uncursable _____ eyes!
Tears with abandon!
No, this is not living,
This is an end in all certain terms,
It is slow but it is there,
Idling away into the street,
Streams of spent effort,
To hang myself,
On another's decisions,
It lurches forward,
I seek tree,
Anything to stop my head,
From hurting so Goddam much.
The smoke on that yellow light night,
The red hem of her skirt,
In the safe leathered arms of her father,
Her pale complexion smiling up,
And the night before,
At her bedside she's telling me,
A failure a failure,
Nobody likes a failure,
And we're all failures to ourselves,
Flirting I took her hand,
And got a look into that girl's soul,
The flickering behind a lampshade,
And we're all failures outside her door,
For just one more day,
Hoping to God she'll smile again,
And here she does,
In the smoke of this yellow light night,
See her as she will always be,
See what really pumps your heart,
Her every move,
A lifetime of your most precious dream.
Cold and damp and solitary,
My nervous arrogant assertions,
Echoing off the concrete slabs,
And the markings on the floor,
Point to every way but out,
And every answer but the one I want,
It's not acceptable to leave this untouched,
Like some leper's heart,
Carve into it with all the surgical ideas you have,
And my dim wit doesn't serve to light the morning,
Any better than your shallow breathing.
But I'm choking down syrup to tell you the truth,
Over all of these walls,
Your thick purple guises,
Drip down to checkmate,
And I know,
I told you I know,
Dammit I know,
My own steeples are falling,
My own distances calling,
To check mind again,
To lie again,
Very close-with honours,
Into all the ears that won't listen.
To assume that glorious falsehood,
And I take full responsibility of that.
And I am responsible for every night,
Hidden in blue cover timidity,
Where I smile in understood nievate.
Think not on success, nor victory, nor pride,
Think not on passion and memories!
Live in the eyes of your lovers and here alone.
Cobblestones took me captive,
They all took me apart,
To the four corners of the border states.
Window seat on a train,
There is just one small crack,
For the air to seep through.
I think it's the breathing,
That really gets me stuck,
In the usual mud.
Escape with her steamy breath,
And mix with the surrounding foggy haze,
Like my thoughts they get in behind,
Back there, digging in for the winter that's already here,
She is watching,
Sees the damage,
Feels the cold through her scarf and red jacket,
I feel it too,
The worst of it all,
To want this numbness,
To come from her doing,
But feeling the stiffness of fingers,
And the crinkling of my boots on dead grass,
Nothing has stopped,
Only I have skipped a beat but already resumed,
My heart rejecting the command to halt permanently,
It's been at this business too long,
Now she is fiddling,
She has places to be and this engagement is complete,
My hand jerks from my side but not to full rise,
A spasm really to an onlooker,
But she is gone,
Into the fog,
And me in the dead yellow grass.
To plant firmly and grow for a time,
Before uprooting to someone new,
Or is all rambling,
Accidental following of a subconscious wish,
A Fenrir bound,
Unstoppable to break free,
No matter how much you may want,
To just slow down.
The night stars,
Swinging in tandem,
Every soul passing,
A beacon to another,
Cross lightyears to be seen,
Streetlamps I despise,
Fluorescent lights effortless,
Not so these stars,
It is all anew,
It is all worthwhile,
So they have my love.
The four pints of ale began to manifest themselves as Ben took eight steps, turned 90 degrees clockwise, took another eight steps, turned another 90 degrees, and slowly ascended. As any good natured metropolitan would do, he drastically overinflated the situation to one of pinnacle pivotal magnitude.
This is it.
Eight more steps.
She is the one.
Turn 90 degrees.
Nothing will ever be the same.
Take the door out into the hallway.
I'm the one in every million they keep talking about.
Room 224. Home sweet home.
He tried to peer into the lookout, was amazed that he could live in so small an apartment, and tried the knocker. He waited patiently after three good Whaps.
He tapped his left food. God, he should drum for Journey!
How was he going to change everything if he couldn't get into his tiny apartment! It couldn't end like this, he wouldn't let it! No, couldn't let it, because he...he...
"Lub," fell out of his mouth. "Lubbed errrrrrr."
Standing impeccably straight, Ben feel forward producing a deeper Whap against the green wood. Somewhere, in another universe, he heard a door open.
If that door would open why not his!
"You lib alone white debil! Open door with key," he heard a jingling, "Key!"
He began to slant forward. No, he was sinking! Oh cruel fate! Oh for lub!
Ben felt two arms encircle him from behind, lifting him up. They were a deep brown, more than just a beach tan, and thing. Then one was in his pocket, then out, then more jingling.
The door opened!
His apartment was HUGE!
He felt the magical hands fade away behind him as he stumbled inside. Now he could find her! The phone book was the new key, and right here past the couch under the end table. Ben fell onto the burgundy couch and reached for the book, which stayed put a good three feet out of his reach.
There is no accurate English translation of the arguments employed by Ben against himself to get off the couch. What is accurate is that they were short lived and fantastically unsuccessful.
The menace of new sobriety.
Ben squinted at the window and recollected the night before. O'Mally's. The gang. The usual. The he remembered how he got inside, and edited his memory to read that his apartment had never changed size during his occupation, and that the magic hands must in fact have been normal, human hands.
The omnipresent voice chanting 'White Debil' was Mrs. Abidia, who really had more of a cackle. It had to be her, as she was the only resident on his floor who pronounced all her v's as b's. But the hands he couldn't place. They were too new and soft to be Mrs. Abidia's, and all the other women had the same wrinkles, spots, and veins that signify age and experience. Ben's brain wasn't setting any records this morning, so he shrugged it off. Kind Stranger.
To keep with the analogy, at this point Ben's brain realized it was missing one kid in the car, and that one was a very important, the most important, fragment from last night that had not been picked up.
He reached, lunged for the phone book, remembered that Ellie was not the right identifier just yet, and flipped back to-
He never got her last name. Was this punishment for drinking the night before? And the Thursday before that? And the Thursday before that?
He slid the phone book back under the table and went for the shower. For thirty minutes he stood motionless, trying to feel every drop and knowing he couldn't possibly feel more than a 100th of them. He was so human it was disgusting. So out of tune with all of existence and yet fooled into thinking he actually had a grasp of even the edges of it. Audacious!
If he ever cried, it was in the shower, mixed in with the drain water so he could never be sure.
He dressed, ate a short breakfast, and decided to go back to the library. He wasn't giving up on this thing yet, just not holding out all hope. Passing her door in the hallway, Ben stopped and felt he should at least let Mrs. Abidia know things were better.
The woman who opened the door Ben immediately identified as the owner of the magical hands. Middle Eastern by his guess, she had a uniform olive complexion and dark eyes. She wore a plain white t shirt and black cargo pants, and stood with educated authority. Her whole body screamed 'I am in my element. Always.'
"Yeah Mrs. A. I just wanted to let you know I'm okay now."
"Oh, yes White Debil, you bery okay. You drink yourself stupid, hab good time! So lucky to hab such a stupid Debil!"
"You know I'm not the actual devil, right?"
Nothing more would be heard on the topic.
"I'm Zoe," she answered for herself.
"You no touch debil!"
Zoe smiled. Ben smiled back. Mrs. Abidia continued her unknown business deeper into the apartment.
"What are you doing here?" He asked, immediately regretting the tone that question evokes.
Zoe tossed her head back behind her for a flash. "She's my aunt. I'm living here and going to the University."
"Oh yea? What're you taking?"
"Philosophy and Philanthropy."
"It's not too bad so far."
Ben could feel his small-talk meter draining with every passing second. Surprising, Mrs. Abidia pulled him out.
"Well debil? You okay, we bery happy! Now you go, leab Zoe alone, she hab class!"
Uncomfortable lingering aside, Ben was back in an empty hallway. He remembered the library. He remembered Ellie and hurried down the stairs. IF he saw her, he would have to be careful to leave out he was the Debil.
Our character enters under a streetlight. It is an orange, sodium light, but put into one of the old township's vintage cases that used to be filled by lanterns and, before that, candles. He is soaked, appropriate to the fact that it is raining like a bitch (according to him). He has just stepped off the Downtown 458 bus, and is but two brisk strides away from shelter in O'Mally's. He is haggard, or feels that way at least, and is determined to display the most gaunt, downcast, out-of-luck posture and facial description his body has ever invented. He decides to stop just short of the "I just found out I have cancer" look, to keep things inoffensive. This is Ben Carrigan, my audience, and yes ladies he is single for a self-authored book of reasons. What becomes of importance now is that he has finally prepared enough to stride doubly inside the familiar restaurant.
O'Mally's is a family pub for only the most dysfunctional of families. If you have had a recent death in the family, or have had at least two siblings come out of the closet together, there is a drink special for that (an Open Casket Concoction and the Closet Cosmo, respectively). The lighting is dim, with little but candles to help the poor souls waiting between the dangerously sharp tables. The seat cushions are all a deep maroon, and in the back the booths become rounded for especially large parties to collectively grieve. It is to one of these tables our Ben maneuvers, and though he looks as if he has just lost and entire orphanage of children to the plague, those already seated could not be more in their element. These people have had love, then loss, then another pack of cigarettes. They come here and laugh amidst tears, bleed sarcasm surrounded by imaginary black veils, and the candles dance in their eyes. And as this newly haggard man approaches their usual table, their eyes receive him just as they always have and always will, with complete knowledge and the wit of sages.
"Another shitty day on the job," Aaron throws up his glass in bidding.
"You lost another pet?" Constance is truly broken for this and every other animal Ben has never owned.
"Erectile dysfunction." That would be Desirae, eying what she likes to call Ben's "package" with curious displeasure.
"A woman," comes from the eldest man in the middle of the half-circle and closest to the wall. His beard is black at the fringes, but white continues to parade out from the roots. His eyes are a bit sunken, but only for the years put on them and not any Holocaust of hardship. He has simply fallen out, like they all have, and has on this occasion won the town goose.
Ben pleads with his eyes at the Rabbi, plays up the burden floating on his shoulders and closes the curtain in his mind by dropping his head within degrees of the table. Keep in mind he is still standing when this occurs. He hears the cackle that finds itself in Desirae's throat and hears the red leather squeak as she slides further in to make room.
"Yes, we are such a fiendish bunch, are we not Constance? We just love to prey on all the little boys out there still wishing for true love and a full wallet. Such fools they are! Such children!"
"A regular pack of vultures. Wait, is it politically correct to call it a pack if there's only two vultures? Is pack even the right term for vulture?" Aaron racks his brain.
"What is there to be politically correct about vultures?" Constance asks, wondering if it is a vulture Ben has lost so suddenly.
"Hey, vultures are people too!"
"No they're not, they're vultures!"
"You're a vulture, stupid!""What?"
"Vulture! As in you and I are vultures, preying on they! The...hell, I don't know, sun-dried lizards of the desert!" Desirae pretended to swoop down into Ben's newly-acquired draft and pick it up with fingers poised like a claw. "Ca-CAWW!"
"Give that back! I've had a shitty day, and need that to-"
"To drown your sorrows!" They collectively raised their glasses in a group clanging together.
"No, not for that, I just need-"
"Should you really be toasting that, Rabbi? I mean, to drowning your sorrows? Seems a bit out-of-line to me," Desirae's dark eyes peered just over the rim of her glass, her fingers curling around its thin shaft. The image formed in both Aaron and Ben's mind was the same as they exchanged a look that meant only one thing: succubus.
Rabbi Falk leaned back, while at the same time extending his hand to set down his own glass. A bit of froth lingered on his upper lip, but it was not something to be bothered with. He was once one of the main leaders of the local synagogue, but suffered a series of events three years back that put him on uneven footing with his God. Still, he tries to maintain the faith as best he can, but speaks to the Lord with a bit more honesty than his colleagues would have him to.
"I feel I am just as much entitled to a bit of conscious self-destruction as the vultures sitting on both sides of me, and the lizards beside them. If anything, my experiences delving the deeper emotions of the human condition give me more reason to toast that than you, my dearest Dezzy."
"But shouldn't you be fasting and praying away your troubles? Mmm?"
"Yes, that is a part of it, but we do eat and drink after the periods of not eating and drinking. You have just caught me at one of the times when I happen to be 'off duty'."
"And when you're 'off duty' as you say, this exempts you from all your beliefs and-"
"Oh let the man drink, Dezzy! Please, you just chip and chip away at the poor bastard." Aaron stared her down.
"Like a succubus." Ben said while watching the ripples in his drink. Aaron nodded his agreement.
"Like a succubus."
Dezzy slumped back into her cushion.
"Constance, aren't you going to stick up for the female race?"
"I am not a vulture!"
"And I don't the female is a race," Ben sipped.
Desirae threw up her hands, then in time one again wrapped around her drink as she brooded.
"I'm sorry, Rabbi, I shouldn't have chipped."
"You do just as you want sweetheart, I can promise you that I don't give a damn what you think or judge of me."
"That's what I find so attractive about you," her eyelashes fluttered.
"My romantic endeavors aside, who is this our Ben has been taken with and apparently dropped by?"
"I don't wanna talk about it."
"Oh yes you do, or else you wouldn't have come in with that face!" Desirae was alive again with this fresh meat.
"I can't help how I look, just don't worry about it."
"Oh, OK Mr. Martyr. I didn't mean to bother you about it. Go back to your public bleeding now."
"Down, Dezzy, down. Now sit. Good girl!" Aaron waved a piece of bread in front of her.
"I'll show you some of my other tricks later, baby."
"I pray to God that I never live to see that through. Anyway, do tell about this temptress. Is she another succubus? Surely you wouldn't fall for a succubus."
"She's not a succubus."
"Just a vulture. Like you, Constance."
"I am not a vulture!"
"More like a parrot with your generous contributions to tonight's discussion," Falk said.
"I'm sorry. I have been a bit out of it, haven't I? So what's this about Ben and some woman?"
"We were just trying to find out ourselves, honey."
All four of them leaned keenly towards Ben, who had long ago stupidly professed his general dislike of attention and close spaces. Now they lay coupled in front of him. It was unbearable.
"This is unbearable."
"Lover, we know what this is. We want to know about her."
"Please don't call me that."
"That's better," he sighed so that everyone could hear. "Her name's Ellie-"
"Ellie did you say?"
"-and she works at"
"You got yourself a good one that'll work for herself."
"Definitely a keeper."
Ben let his head gently collide with the open space of table in front of him. Soon he felt nails tracing the back of his neck.
"I am not a scratching post."
"And I am not a cat. But these are my claws."
He sat up. "I only talked to her for a minute. I was leaving the library and she must've gotten in line behind me at the checkout."
"Wait, you don't mean what I think you mean. She talked to you?"
"Is it that surprising?"
"Thank you for your confidence in my attraction. Anyway, we were just there for an instant."
"It's always just an instant."
"Yes, I know Rabbi, but I mean it in the literal sense this time too. She asked my name and said she'd seen me before. She had the most beautiful brown hair-"
"Oh please don't go on that tangent."
"Shuddup Dezzy," Aaron leaned in, "Please do go on that tangent."
"There is no tangent, I just liked her hair."
"Did you get her number?"
"No." Desirae said.
"I'm sorry, were you there tonight?"
"Same answer to your question."
"So," Falk pushed away his half-empty glass, "how are you going to see her again?"
"I was kind of hoping we would just meet at the library again."
"Yeah, all the available hot girls frequent the library like three times a week, Rabbi. Didn't you know that?" Aaron smiled.
"I did not."
"Oh, well...they do."
"I hope you meet her again, Benny Bear." Constance beamed up at him.
"I'd rather be called Lizard, but thanks. I hope so too."
"You know what I hope, Benny-Bearlizard. I hope you meet her again, and you two share a nice little fu-" Falk reached gently over and covered her mouth.
"Those glasses really do sneak up on her," Aaron signaled for the check while Desirae pulled the Rabbi's hand off her mouth.
"No really! They could do it right there in the library, in Ancient Civilizations or-" she began to crack up, "-or they could do it in Sexual Studies!" She collapsed against Ben's shoulder, and he suddenly thought his open space on the table was very appealing again. Aaron scooted out first and helped Desirae out after Ben had exited.
"Alright, let's get this little vulture a cab."
"Hehe, Sexual Studies."
"Yes, Dezzy, you love your alliterations."
The group dispersed, Aaron taking Desirae's cab to make sure she wouldn't just ride around until she was broke, and Constance began walking down the street. Ben and Rabbi Falk both turned left upon leaving O'Mally's, and so had a chance to talk a bit more. It was the Rabbi who took advantage of it.
"I had a love once."
"You always say your only love is the Scriptures."
"Well, yes, I love them too, but I mean a woman."
"This is new."
"To you. Not to me. Problem is, I have no idea where she is right now, or if she's even alive, let alone still available."
"You could try and find her in the phonebook."
"Yes, I could, but I wouldn't. I'm not telling you this to see if you can help me, Benjamin. I'm telling you this because I'm afraid I may have saw in your eyes tonight what I had in mine so long ago."
"My mother used to call it kitty-litter. That yellow stuff in the corner of your eyes when you just wake up-"
A leather-gloved hand fell on his shoulder. The Rabbi halted him, and stood opposite his face.
"You do not have kitty-litter in your eyes. But you may have love. Tomorrow, you will go to the library, and you will see if any of the receptionists know this brown-haired girl. You will find her name, and you will with that find her number. Call her. Get the ball rolling or I will call down fire upon you."
"You can do that?"
"I'm not that far out of the faith." He began to slowly raise his hands into the sky.
"OK, OK. I'll get her name. First thing tomorrow."
Ben jumped some of the steps of the landing of his apartment. Falk stayed on the sidewalk, hands in the pockets of his khaki jacket.
"You'll tell me her name the next time we meet."
"Fire from Heaven"
"Straight from Raphael's ass."
The Rabbi's flat was the farthest away, and so he always walked the last length alone. He usually thought about his love, and not the Scriptures. But tonight there was almost a sense of euphoria at having possibly steered someone into that inconceivable maelstrom that is true love.
Or maybe it was just the lager.
here ya go.
Vincent was running out of the house. He burst through the flimsy screen door and was out past the lawn and into the street before he heard it crash back in place, giving his escape route away. He couldn't feel his legs as they sprinted beneath him, or rather any part of his lower body. He spun around the street corner, wondered why in the hell he was still in the street, and jumped into the nearest backyard. He thought he saw headlights through the fences he scampered behind, but they could just as well belong to the car of a college student in much need of some heavy sleep.
He doubted it.
Suddenly he felt it certain death to stay outside. He braced for impact as he met with another door, and sure enough it repelled him efficiently. He tried the knob and thanked the Lord for his luck while cursing himself for his stupidity. He didn't want to go upstairs for fear of being trapped, but before he could find a suitable hiding place light flooded the room. He was caught. Somehow they knew which house he had broken into. He should've closed the door!
A middle-aged man with a rapidly receding hairline came partially down the stairs in blue furry slippers and a matching, darker blue robe. Vincent looked up to see two little faces peering over the banister to see who Daddy had invited over so late at night, and he turned on his heel.
Vincent fled back outside and made a hard left back behind the fence line. Then he tasted blood. He must've bit his tongue at some point running. The taste filled his mouth and he turned to spit it out but nothing came. He rounded another corner and ducked through some pine trees once he had crossed the street.
Why the fuck did you just cross the street?!
His head admonished his every turn, screaming that just around that air conditioner was an entire swat team with bullet-proof vests and, more importantly, fully loaded AK-47s or whatever was now more powerful and standard issue thanks to the Second Amendment and all the safeties off.
Vincent tripped, thrashed his feet to shake off whatever had tangled him, and was only looking back for a second. His head had time to turn back around and his body achieve the stance of an eager runner before the image registered in his mind, resulting in a lunge-jump forward rather than a running start. He felt the fresh dew on his forehead as he turned around to the giant shadow advancing in the moonlight. He saw the trail of blood that meant a lot more than his tongue was hurt, but he didn't know what. He only ached like any man would after a triathlon compacted into five minutes. Still he saw the black line snaking to and past the feet of the shadow. The shadow pierced something back in his head, in that part they say you never fully tap into because it lets Miss Cleo have an explanation for her profession, and he stared but did not look. To look was suicide. No one was well equipped enough to look at this thing directly, and it would not even grant him that privilege in the moments before his cowardly death. Vincent felt he would rip his eyelids off trying to close them if it took just one more step...
Then his eyes did close.
Or rather, open.
Megan stared down from above Vincent's exasperated body. Her face hovered above his own, some three feet up and a bit to the left. In that instant he awoke he saw her smiling, with that kind, motherly smile where in some biological anomaly only the bottom eyelid slightly rises to give this look of affection. For that moment everything was white before it came into focus, except for her brown hair falling down around her. He again wanted to reach out and just feel something of so much invested importance, but then that was gone. Her face scrunched, and she looked back to the door. Nate stood in the opening, both hands above him on the door posts. He was out of breath, and some liquid had left a trail staining a line down his button-up olive shirt. Megan brought Vincent's attention back with a gentle hand on his cheek.
"Sweetie, who's Felix?"
"I don't know a Felix."
"You were saying his name just now."
"The only girls that I ever ran the bases with were Debbie and Cassandra at both of their graduation parties. I think I would remember a night with a Felix, she sounds very controlling."
"That's cute. I was right here though. You even shouted it the last time."
"That's why I'm here," Nathan's breath had recovered.
"I don't remember, I swear."
"If Debbie or Cassandra graduated first."
"If I ever get my nails done again, the first thing I'm going to do is claw your eyes out, you know that?"
Both of the men winced.
"I really don't remember anything of last night." And it was true. Vincent could only make out vague shadows of his dream, like someone's feet clad in fuzzy slippers.
"Megan..." came from the door.
"That means he's close," she said, without taking her eyes off Vincent.
"Fuck me," echoed from a voice now rapidly descending the stairs.
Vincent started to sit up, and felt the sharp hollow point of a needle enter his left forearm.
"You just keep resting, sweetie, we'll take care of everything."
It's always another girl.
Do homosexual men always dream about girls?
I should look into being homosexual.
She had coffee. He watched as she brought the CAUTION! HOT contents of the pitcher to a collection of vagrants and waited the other tables in turn. She wore a miniskirt and her hair was back in a ponytail. He knew this because he only saw her from the back. Rather than turn around, she would simply appear at a table closer to his, still facing away. She was in a tight black short-sleeved shirt with nothing on the back. He became increasingly thirsty, and awkwardly aware that he was staring, which didn't normally happen in his dreams. Usually, when he wasn't flying with the most recent incarnation of the Da Li Lama or wrestling baleen whales, he could just sit in the middle of a city and watch people. He could even walk right alongside some, examining their casual facial compositions. He looked down at his little table and wished that someone would sit opposite him. He felt four years old again with no one there to take car of him. Suddenly his table jerked violently to the right, as if it were trying to snap him out of it. Vincent looked up, and no one else's tables had been disturbed at all. He didn't know quite what to make of that.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck," Megan chanted as she sped down the interstate.
"Is that very becoming of a lady now?" Vincent yelled, half out the window.
"Yes actually, they changed the manner code and it's considered improper if I don't ask you for a spin whenever we're alone now. Dammit all to HELL!" she spun the wheel hard left, and the little car grudgingly obeyed to the point that it came in contact with the fake-mahogany siding of the sedan in the neighboring lane.
"I thought they had to come in those sweet black polished cars!" He yelled, back outside the car. "One would think, wouldn't they?!" Part of Megan's hair fell into her frustrated eyes as she moved back into her lane. A police siren first sounded and then descended the merging ramp quickly dissipating behind them.
"Oh, don't do it guys." Nathan whispered to himself from his perch on the side door.
The enhanced vehicle quickly caught up, unfortunately to the sedan first. And intercom blared the SOP for coercing a speeding criminal, then waited for the taillights to flash and the car to signal into the emergency lane.
What instead happened was that the police car managed to both implode and explode at the same time, producing a sort of crunched-paper-in-a-fireball effect.
"I'm going to try my gun."
"Oh dammit to hell and back with a-"
"Get us next to the wall."
Vincent hard a clamor in the back of the little shoppe. He pictured the cartoony idea of a line of pans hanging by their handles all clattering at once, but didn't quite think that was the sound. The one waitress still hadn't turned around, and Vincent had tried to busy his mind with the other refugees but kept coming back to her. It wasn't that she was extremely attractive, though she was that, but more the way she moved, even if it was only away from him. He thought he saw a wisp, a faint green aura about her as she worked. She must have some hideous horse face, to be revealed only dream-seconds before he woke up gagging. Still, the didn't turn around, or even have to catch herself as the whole apparatus exploded to the left.
"Get as close to the wall as you can."
"Nate, the window's scraping the fucking wall already!"
"OK, well, see if you can get closer and-"
"How the fuck do I get closer to the w-"
From his jacket Nate withdrew a deep navy revolver with a barrel no shorter than eighteen inches. He let his hand off the handle inside the top of the car, and balanced with his legs straddling the door. He let one eye and both his hands take over as things began to slow down. Before they were completely stopped he felt suddenly pressured to fire early.
The front of the sedan, fully into the two front seats, disappeared. Or rather, was instantly incinerated in the ball of blue flame that erupted from Nate's gun. Megan's car went up on it's two left wheels against the wall, then fell back at almost the same speed. Megan was a good driver.
The sedan, having no driver, did not fare as well. The back end of the car, at its present speed, began a series of flips and spins in various directions, coming to a stop only after taking a number of innocent commuters with it. Nathan slid back into the car.
"When did you become such a sailor?!" he yelled.
He had gotten up to warn the waitress that something was seriously wrong with the building they both occupied when again Vincent felt gripped by something in the back of his mind.
We will get you. Don't even SLEEP without knowing that. We will get you, and, the woman, and that BASTARD with the instrument. Just you fuckin' WAIT.
Vincent sat bolt-upright in the back of Megan's battered car murmuring 'Felix'.
But it's starting to look like all I have,
Two hands to hold on to this spinning planet,
This bucking lifeform,
Screams that it's had enough of this,
Too much shit already,
What would you contribute?
Who would you benefit?
Not near enough to satisfy,
You subside and you make do,
With all of the shades you will never live out,
Because your two hands cover your face,
And you still see what's coming,
Right through to passing you by,
Come with the night in invisible packages,
Left on my doorstep like bastard children,
My own creations,
And mine to keep or cast,
It is bloody business,
Ripping these leeches from my body with two hands,
Holding on to what hope I can still produce and retain,
Advancing forward with giant's laden steps,
A long way remains,
So I will grasp each and every moment as if I would never have it pass,
With two hands.
Like a rustic carousel,
That once spun in auburn cycles,
Now consumed by taller seeds,
It is an itch beneath the surface,
Below fake bronzer and leathered hides,
Below all your attempts,
To retrieve it.
It is walking in a capsule around all the people you know.
and oh my God I feel so damn old." -Modest Mouse, Never Ending Math Equation
Nicholas struggled with a dream he would not remember. His brow furrowed and the various other muscles that comprised the inner workings of his face twisted and contorted. His eyes slowly slid open as the idea slipped back into whatever dark pool ideas come from, and stared blankly at the ceiling as they took their leisure to focus. He swung his feet to the left and out of his white sheets. For a long time he sat with his palms over the edge of the mattress, enjoying his yet-still existence and examining the mappings on the tops of his feet.
His ankles flexed, slightly shifting the mappings as he stood up and raised his hands over his head to help wake the rest of him.
He moved into the small kitchen, very much in the stillness and pressed the button to begin brewing his coffee. He had become fond of the all-powerful, singular button that signaled the real beginning of his day. The machine had no other settings; it could not make an expresso or latte, could not be programed to start at a preplanned time. All that was fastened avove the glass pot was the chrome circle and a miniature bulb that lighted green when the chrome circle was pressed.
He heard sounds from his counterpart life back in the other room. He leaned against the counter and waited for the machine to finish his cup. While the time passed he studied the front of their refrigerator, faring no better than a tackboard with its generous helpings of mangets and postcards. He poured his coffee, fixed it to his liking as a bluejay pecked around the outside of the window above their sink, and returned to the bedroom.
"You were grumbling, " he said to the woman who now sat upright against the headrest, whisps of white sheet advancing her midsection.
"Yes, I was grumbling."
"You don't like children anymore?"
"No, not literal children. I mean how so many of the actions and habits we take onward into adulthood are some of the most basic ideas we ever had. Selfishness, jealousy, irreverence- they all started out in a sandbox. Someone pushes you and you get angry. Here we are, some twenty years later, and it just feels like we're still angry at that guy in the sandbox."
Nicholas held his coffee between his hands, sipping it and wondering if that bluejay was still at the window.
"You're probably right. I bet we really don't need as much schooling as we have after fifth grade or so, just vocational stuff. "
"I'm not trying to be right, I'm just trying to see if I've gone crazy yet. Am I crazy, Nick?"
"You're not crazy."
"Here, have some joe." He handed her the half-empty cup and moved in behind her, to hold her. He could tell she wasn't watching anything outside the room, and that she was still uncertain. He tilted his head to speak directly into her ear.
"It is a very fascinating hypocracy for man to say so much that he so yearns for the joys of a child and wishes so desperately for them back, but has taken with him all the pains and injustices of growing up as if they were somehow more important, more necessary. No you aren't crazy. You're beautiful. You're wonderful, Adel."
He kissed her cheek as she sipped the coffee. Her hand reached back and felt the side of his face as she continued to think. At length he felt her relax and fall back into him. Her eyes regained the cunningness he had fallen in love with, and he knew she had won. She continued to drink his coffee.
"Did you know I saw a bluejay out over the sink a minute ago?"
"You put too much cream in your coffee."
I like to root in my positions,
Like a mother hen to her nest,
And squack until I'm blue in the face,
At any old bloodhound to pass by,
About every problem I haven't fixed,
And every one I'm sure to start,
Until they howl at my persistance,
And I ruffle feathers one more time,
To show I mean business brother,
And there is a secret hope,
That if I belch knowledge enough,
I will eventually be light enough to fly,
Up and over the house and the weathervane,
With the morning rooster joining in flight to the sun,
Both of us refusing to let up,
Lighter and lighter,
And the bloodhounds will howl up from their solid dirt road.
To express and find them deaf,
To care so deeply and be so helpless,
To have done so little,
To have done nothing,
To wish and break,
To put back together in shambles,
To never be able to,
To leap and be shot out of the sky,
Is to fall flat,
Is to stick a very fine shoe into one's own mouth every morning,
It is enough to pull out every hair.
And when you are wrecked,
You have lived just a tad.
Who may never hear of such a name as mine,
And never see my face as I do hers,
You had a most wonderful birth,
Not passive in the least you came,
Screaming and kicking and changing,
Shaking the room with your future,
I saw it clearly from my spot in the corner,
Even as the rest of your family crowded in,
You were very full of light from the start,
I watched from unoccupied chairs,
As you ventured out into the vast apartment,
Hair not yet long enough to be brushed out of your hazel eyes,
Nothing escaped your vision,
I have tried my best to keep you safe since then,
And only a few scars have escaped my own sore eyes,
But that's growing up,
Which you have done splendidly,
Right up to and through the drinking under the bleachers phase,
Which was trying for both of our psyches,
You never lose the ground you gain for a second,
Nor a drop of the light you blessedly started with,
Did I hear,
From my place on the outskirts of your dinner table,
That you were ready to pass that light on?
Or at least portion it out to your own children,
Who I hear will turn out much like their mother,
With just a tad in all the right places of father,
The last time I remember dancing was when you two met,
I cannot even postulate how bright that will all be,
But you will always be my brightest,
No matter how long I've been gone you will always be the brightest.
When people are supposed to be alive,
And everything is fire,
The world sleeps in late,
When she is more than a thought,
She is a dinner with a microwave and a blanket and a heartbeat,
And we are all caught in hammocks with our loves,
Shielded flatteringly by sun soaked trees,
This is a time,
When people are supposed to dissolve,
Tearing like wet paper,
With their frayed edges,
And their repetitions,
Standing with weak knees,
You watch everything get smaller,
And getting smaller I,
Am drowning with it all,
I will see this fall its course,
Down to the dark lavender,
Surrounding the ocean floor,
And in time I will return,
To fresh coastal clouds,
And better for it,
For not splitting myself,
The one real sound sleeper that idea.
Rudy crossed the landing and peered outside for a sizeable duration of time before doing anything else. A biker was waiting at the corner for the light to change, which was very rare in Rudy's neighborhood as no one really remembered a time when the signs were adhered to. Some men were unloading a floor cleaning ensemble and loading it into the freight elevator in the adjacent building. A little girl was watching the men below along with Rudy, and he was just about to wave to her when she turned at her mother's voice, brown ponytail flying, and disappeared. Rudy went back inside himself, but no at any direct beckoning. Still he did feel pulled as he entered his bedroom and began to undress. He had worn his good shirt for the walk that morning, because the weatherman had said it would be an exceptionally good day and Rudy felt that he carried some degree of importance in being the only senior in the city who still believed that the weather report was usually right. As he put the oxford shirt back on its hanger and looked up to find the bar for the hook, he again felt something. He looked around his tiny room, with nothing but a bed and lamp for reading, but only felt differently when he was staring into the closet. He stood up and began moving various articles of clothing on various colored hangers in hopes of finding the source. Rudy was visually reminded of what surely had to be the cause when he rediscovered shoeboxes lining the far wall of his closet and hidden by all his pants and shirts. He had collected and filled the boxes with various trinkets and mementos of his life, and chose to withdraw five at random, hoping it would satisfy whatever urge was inside him that had jumped at the sight of the boxes, and that was now beginning to annoy him. Even though he had nothing else to do that day, Rudy still didn't like the feeling of being commanded by such a desire.
Inside he recognized everything instantly. The horribly itchy red sweater he had received after graduating college from his aunt, which had marked the last piece of clothing that he had been given as a child played off as a present. The seashell necklace he had been given by a girl upon disembarking his plane to Hawaii, and later discovered that same girl to have three different incurable but very treatable diseases and that that was the closest he could come to summarizing Hawaii: a beautiful girl with a cabinet full of pills behind the bathroom mirror. Rudy was perhaps most excited to find his old film camera, the kind with the wind-up side that distinguished every serious amateur film director. He had almost forgotten all about his original purpose in digging out the boxes and was set on filming down at the park when he discovered a spent roll of film still in the camera. It was not like him to leave film undocumented, and he was immediately curious.
Rudy closed the yellow, embroidered curtains to his street. He thought they fit his age if not his taste, so he had kept them dispite all of his old friends announcing every time they saw them that yellow was not his color (as if it were some new, unbelievable discovery). He was surprised to find his heart rate had increased at the expectation of what could lie on the film. Quickly he set up his old reel set and sat down in his ratty recliner. Rudy declined to recline, and instead stayed with his elbows on his knees as the reel rewound. As soon at it was finished, the reel automatically clicked back and began to play.
The light shone on the screen, and Rudy's eyes followed it to see himself, only much younger. He was in the same park that he had planned on filming in. Rudy stroked his chin, as the Rudy on the screen still had his beard trim and neat. He was smiling and commenting visciously on the day and the people, when he reached with both hands behind the camera, presumably at its director, and after a brief struggle turned it around. Now the light brought a woman on the screen, one with deep grey eyes and a calmness that ran down the background. She was sitting on a black park bench, and kept covering her mouth when she laughed at the young Rudy's flattering description of her. Often she would look off out at something, but the camera never left her face. One tear from each of Rudy's eyes began to make their way down his beaten face, but he didn't notice. He didn't blink. Young Rudy said she was Marketa, and that she was the prettiest Marketa he had met so far, to which she chuckled. The camera jerked randomly for three seconds and then settled to them both, Young Rudy beside the prettiest Marketa. More flattery, more chuckling, and then a little peck of a kiss from Young Rudy. Then there was silence and nothing but homely eye contact until the reel abruptly ran out.
Rudy looked back at the machine as if to embarrass it into starting again. Slowly he reached up and felt the water that had run down his cheeks and onto his undershirt. Marketa. The name was a spice to him. Those grey, ominous eyes echoed all through the history he chose to keep remembering. Had he really continued to live without her? More tears came.
At length the film equiptment returned to its place in storage and that night Rudy kept the filmstrip and the camera under his pillow as he slept. It seemed like as long as he could feel it there, Marketa was the last thing he thought about and the only one he dreamed of. In those dreams Young Rudy always had the prettiest Marketa, and the weather was always mild and the weatherman was always right. So when Old Rudy woke, he could be happy, no matter if he remembered his derby or not. And every day he would walk a new way, one that led him down into the park and to the bench in the film. He would look in the direction that she had looked, and she was there with him, seeing past everything like migrating geese across endless stretches of land.
It latches and it feeds,
Coils around the heart strings,
The vibrancy rings through,
Clear to the other side of the cage,
And everyone catches something of it,
So beautiful and so old,
But in their grasp they become quite impatient,
To see and not to feel,
Pinching open it escapes,
And the glance is granted for the instant,
Foolishness quickly realized and laughed at,
To think we would be any better off with possession!
Again comes the ringing,
That never stops but never has your full attention,
To the other side of this cage,
Don't think about it.
Very enjoyable thing,
To feel through your value,
Like weaving through delicate,
To remember how much you are,
To so many people in so many places,
And to smile behind your back!
At all you don't see,
Radiating from you like poisonous glory,
Seeing it like the first litter of squirming,
Finding blind pups,
Splayed on the slate floor,
And just waiting,
For that first honest connection,
That you robbed me of any reason to continue wishing stars.
(and you're so damn cute.)
A raw anticipation,
That it's just over the next hill,
With crisp light and solutions,
To it they all come bounding,
Setting in on that abolishing embrace,
They always cry,
Not for the hole in my pocket,
Not for the keys I am missing and the love that eludes,
Behind everything I cannot lift,
But for each other,
As I wiggle my finger through the freyed cloth and look at my scuffed shoes.
What did you do today?
And breaking their backs,
And a furrowed, blackened face,
Fathers in studies,
Mothers love like little,
We are fending for ourselves,
In fully stocked cabinets,
And we are so tired,
We need each other,
To forget how every vein,
Is contemplating rupture,
But from the courtesy,
Of telephone poles,
We sit in a sea of white tile,
With our sanity,
And we've washed our folded hands of the whole thing.
Looked very nonchalant,
Leaning on the one side of that vase,
Out in the summer rain,
Your hair was in curls that whole week,
And I couldn't get enough of kissing you,
I lived in every drop,
We didn't clean the house at all,
And stayed in bed,
She was thinking, but about what I cannot or will not say. Is it possible to think of something, and then have that thing happen simultaneously or later on, but only if you treat it with respect and caution? I hope so. I want so much to finally meet her, I don't know if she is or ever will be in that shop, but I know that she is real. I know.
Words are just enough air to continue to beat.
She wanted a chance,
Peering over the crowd at the cavalcade,
To the sound of churning,
Gravel rock grinding,
The paper iron balcony,
Did not sway with the breeze,
But held its breath,
As they came down the street,
Two by two,
To the funeral.
All those adolescent highs,
The security and warmth,
Stealing all thought,
Shorter than the last,
Like a sea to get lost in,
Far too much,
For anyone I think,
But we wouldn't have it any other way,
Now would we?
And totally Gorge.
That is a small spectrum of Noor, of whom nothing close could ever be written. She is an experience, and she is a treasure. Lurve.
They skirted the floor,
He felt and felt he heard,
The scraping of dusty shoes on treaded hardwood,
But all he saw,
And all he cared to see,
Was those flying curls,
With the blur of that backroom parlor,
And her smile,
It held so much power in so small a space,
It gave him confidence to lead,
In circles circles circles,
She was his,
If just for these seconds,
Etched as if into a childhood tree,
Harboring an old tire swing,
Filled with fresh rainwater,
Only he could hear it through this music,
"If you don't love me let me go,"
Circles Circles Circles,
It was all he knew now,
She was Eve and they were restored,
The lights swelled,
The din rose,
It was all so very fleeting.
**For Aubrie, a very beautiful person of whom I have seen not a single picture. (Quoted passage from "The Engine Driver" by The Decemberists-catch it.) **
But we don't.
We don't make the rules and we don't get to say when the action starts and stops. We don't get to say how long the opposition is kept in the dark, or how they will react. And we don't get to have a preplanned suave remark for when they come up behind us.
"Excuse me," a friendly voice and a single tap on his shoulder. Vincent turned around. "Hi, my name's Claude and I was wondering if--if you could tell me where the restrooms are. Is something wrong?"
Vincent's eyes had inadvertently gone wide. Claude was dressed in khaki shorts with a blue button up shirt, no suit, no tie, no wire to his ear. Yet Vincent knew that at any other time it would be.
"Actually, we don't use earpieces. That's just the CIA, " he smirked and Vincent thought he saw nothing behind those lips, then teeth. Rows of teeth. No, razors.
His head was swimming. He spun back around and stared at the cashier with pleading eyes. He began looking to all the other customers, violently spinning his head from right to left to right.
"Uh, could someone help me! I think he's going to faint!" Claude again. Claude with the razors in his mouth. Claude the man that nobody would remember. Claude the-
And he was out.
He woke up to the scent of lemons. He was lying on his stomach and shifted to his back, squinting out a window with telephone poles scrolling lazily across it like an old filmstrip. Then he heard a grunt and turned to the front of the car.
"This town is so fucking stupid. I mean we could come in guns blazing and no news crew would waste the helicopter fuel to cover it. Oh, well! Hello there trooper!"
Vincent had been staring at the charm dangling from the rear view mirror. It was yellow, so he figured it was the source of the lemons. Now his eyes traced back to the man in the passenger seat. His head throbbed. His eyes ached. Still, he tried to focus on whoever had called him 'trooper'.
Then it was like being his by a wave. Vincent doubled back into the cushion, writhing in pain but unable to verbalize it outside of an intense hissing through clenched teeth. His hands began to claw at his hair. I'm going to die if this doesn't stop. I'm going to claw out my eyes and I'm going to die.
The Trooper man let out a chuckle and turned back to the driver, resuming their conversation. The driver seemed disinterested in pursuing whatever they were talking about, and turned around to have his own fun with Vincent.
"Hullo, sir! Could you -uh- help point me in the right direction of -uh, the restroom there please? Thank-ya!" He was faking an accent that no one spoke in the entire West, and Trooper man was snickering in his seat. "Aw, don't be like that, sir! Help a brutha out!"
Claude. Vincent remembered, even through the accent, that this one was Claude.
"That's right! I'm Claude and I still have to piss! You never did tell me where those restrooms were, no sir, you were too busy thinking about those plastic coily earpieces!"
So they read minds.
That was going to get annoying fast.
"Hey now! Don't get all aggressive on us now, or else 'Trooper' here will have to give you another hit." Trooper waved. "Now you just sit there all quiet like. Sleep if you want. We're going to your little excuse for an airport and catching the first flight out. If you try anything, N-ee-thing, bam!" Trooper pointed to his temple and nodded. "Don't worry about packing or anything, we'll take care of all that. And if you play your cards right and survive long enough, I'll even try and see if I can't bring you a slipping saying how you took your life in despair because of that Womack kid."
"Tragedy," Trooper chirped.
Vincent's head still hurt. Why hadn't the cashier done anything? Did all the customers just watch them load him into this car?
"Actually, they helped, " Trooper. " All Claude had to do was say he knew where the hospital was and that it would be faster than an ambulance, and I come up and agree and start helping move you, and there you go! One of the easiest lifts we've ever done."
Vincent sat up, and let his head collapse into the rest as he watched Cosavo go by through tinted windows. He wished Tommy had told him to pack some Advil.
Perhaps if Trooper hadn't been so hard on Vincent's first real Wave, he would've been away enough to see the Red Buick LaSabre going much too fast to not be in a hurry, and then running the busiest light in all of downtown. As it happened, when the car hit Vincent was just as surprised as the other two. Thankfully the point of contact shattered all hopes of opening the front passenger door, buckling it at such an angle that Trooper had to be dead.
There are angels.
Vincent opened the door even while his ears were still ringing. He saw people standing on the street corner. One woman with a baby carriage was pointing with one hand and covering her mouth with the other. A man who had been running was actually still jogging in place, his body not yet caught up with his head. Vincent bolted down Main, and hadn't gone a block before he had to turn around and see. Claude had wrenched free of the mass of buckled metal and was limping at a pace that would be brisk for most people.
There are demons too.
He was yelling and pointing at Vincent to solicit support from the onlookers. One man actually took a step towards Vincent, and that set him loose. He bounded down the sidewalk, then turned at the next corner. There were no alleys in Cosavo, so he didn't have to worry about getting stuck. He just had to make sure not to backtrack. His lungs began to heave with every step, but he had gained nothing on Claude and began to wonder if Trooper really was incapacitated. Finally his hands fell to his knees in exasperation as he turned another corner.
"Got a light?"
If Vincent hadn't been raised a good Christian boy, or if he had had any air in his body, he would've found the most vile string of explicatives known to man and brandished them upon the stranger in a heartbeat.
"You know, a flame? A lighter? A match? Hell, a bundle of sticks?"
Vincent looked up, losing what little breath he had regained.
It was James Dean reborn. Only he had dark hair, not long but not kept in strict regulation. His aviators reflected the street and opposite brick wall. He was swaying back and forth with his hands in the pockets of a canvas green jacket, and an unlit cigarette dangled out of his mouth. His smile touched ears when he saw Vincent's reaction, then jerked his head to a car parked on the curb.
Vincent shut the door to the lowrider and they were going 60. He saw Claude turn the corner and his face flash red. He remembered the razors.
"We have to go to the airport. You have to leave."
"You go to sleep again in this town and you die."
"Who are you?"
"You have to earn that."
He answered no more questions and Vincent had no chance of surviving if he bailed out of the car at that speed.
They pulled up to the airport when night had fully set in. Mr. Dean handed him a ticket for a flight that left in ten minutes.
"There's no way I'm going to make that."
He flashed his teeth and Vincent noticed he still had those glasses on. But at least there were no razors. He was holding another ticket.
"Have faith, my son."
They were in the doors, through the checkpoint, and waiting for the last of the line to get through the tunnel when Vincent got a chance to stop. But it wasn't until he had actually fallen into his seat that he realized what he was doing. He put both hands on their rests and started to get up. His escort forced him back with one palm.
"Nuh-uh, Paco, We're about to taxi. Besides, you can relax a bit. You're among friends." He walked past him and came back with a Sprite. "Serving carts don't come 'round for another three hours, but I'm a paying customer, right?"
Vincent didn't want to talk. He didn't want to think. Hell, this guy was probably reading his thoughts too.
Well, at least he wasn't reminding him of it.
Vincent would've screamed as the plane flew through into the crisp night air, if that wouldn't have gotten them grounded and him killed.
Even if you aren't particularly fond of your parents, there is still an unexpected tug of the heart the first time you are really and definitely separated from them. There is a sense of open vulnerability, which no son will admit but all feel from time to time for the first few days. It was this feeling that Vincent alone was shaking because of at 25,000 feet in the air somewhere above the continental U.S., and the same feeling his partner had shook from years ago. Pure empathy aroused him, though he would open his eye with no idea of his counterparts condition until he looked over.
"Oh, hey, you're up. Uh, sorry if I forgot, but you can sleep here and not die. None of them can fly that I'm aware of."
"No it's okay. I just wish I knew what was going on, why my friend was killed, and why the hell I'm on a plane with a guy who never takes his glasses off."
And then they were off, and Vincent was staring at circles of hazel. Then a hand.
"First thing's first. I'm Nathan, go by Nate, and in this one place I'm Reverend. Not Reverend Nathan or Reverend Nate, just Reverend. But don't worry about that place, you'll probably never see it anyway. As for what we're doing, it's really not mine to explain, but the short version is...well...shoot, there really isn't a short version. " His forehead crumpled down.
"Where are we going?"
"First? Detroit, then you're off to Europe. "
"I'm pretty sure I'd have to have a passport for that."
"I'm completely sure you would. And you do. Please give me more credit than that. If people can read your mind, can't I plan ahead?" he played being offended.
"Can you read my mind?"
"How can they?"
"Darkkkk Magicccc," Nate began to wave his hands in Vincent's face.
"And what exactly is that?"
"No, 'Dark Magic' "
"Pig-fucked if I know. I don't even think magic is the right thing for it. Just wait a bit longer. Trust me, I'm in about the same amount of light on the subject as y- "
"You don't put someone on a plane and then tell them to just be patient."
Nate sighed and slumped back in his chair, then looked back at Vincent.
"You really wanna know?"
He looked around to make sure everyone else was asleep, then leaned over into Vincent's personal space bubble.
"Everyone is supposed to do something. At the beginning, people took the world they were given and built it into this lovely mess we contend with every minute. Now, most people dance around for a couple of decades or so, and pass on through. But there is also another group of people who feel it is their duty to end things. They would just as soon destroy beauty as admire it. At the top is this man -entity might be a better choice- who we know next to nothing about. But I can tell you for certain from all that I've experienced he is hell bent on seeing everything burn -even himself at the end." Nate was down to a whisper. Vincent mulled it over for a moment.
"And why am I on a plane?"
Nate perked up.
"Because we're the last group. No, you don't have a dormant superpower like laser-heat-vision or anything, it's just your- "
"Yeah. Basically, you're just deranged enough to go through what you're going to and not claw your eyes out."
Vincent remember the first car ride.
"I thought this was Tommy's destiny. He was the one with the calling from birth, not me."
"Tommy did serve destiny, you just have to see it play out. "
"So how much aren't you telling me?"
They were landing.
"Shit! -" Nate was on a cell phone Vincent hadn't noticed before. "Well what was I supposed to do? Wait for the next flight! Okay, okay, so are they at the gate yet? Good, good. Yeah, I'll call you if we make it to Meg's. When we make it." Nate plucked his glasses from their pocket and was ice.
"Get ready to shove it, Paco." He was beaming.
They were up before the seatbelt light was off, and managed to make it through half the plane before bodies began blocking their route.
" 'Scuse me, pardon, he's expecting and we have to hurry! Sorry, oops! Here we go now."
They were in the terminal and running. Vincent could feel specific eyes on him, then motion to his fading left. Nate was on the phone again.
"Forty-five seconds, Meg."
They flat out sprinted the next hallway. An old woman's Pomeranian began jolting at them as they whisked by, then it only growled.
The men were close.
People were shouting now. Ordinary people, if there was such a thing anymore. Vincent saw the doors just as they hit them.
Then he was faced with another set of doors, this time a bit lower.
Open. Close. Lock.
Vincent found that he had actually lunged into the car, and was splayed across the entire back seat. Nate was seated comfortably next to a woman with swirling brown hair.
At not as much length as Vincent would've been comfortable with, they pulled into a driveway. The house was small and white, with blue shudders. It had a one car garage, and when the door closed you couldn't tell if anyone was home or not. At least there was that.
Both the other passengers had already disembarked and Nate was waiting at the door to the house.
"Don't worry, you'll get faster, " he said as they crossed the threshold.
Both the boys tested the endurance of the couch as they fell into it. Sounds came from a room in which Vincent could see half a refrigerator completely covered with pictures, magnets, and sticky-notes. Then the noises ceased. Silence.
"Phhhhh, Nate! Introduce me!"
"Oh! Uh, Vincent, please meet Megan Donnivan."
At cue she swept from around the corner and into the room. She wore a long fading jean skirt with a cream yellow top. She had dark skin, but not enough to be considered very tan, just a healthy brown. Her lips were full and sweet, and her eyes a compassionate but piercing green. He could tell she was a natural brunette, with only small hints of blond woven into what looked like the smoothest hair he had every seen. He restrained his hand from reaching out like a child to a wild rabbit.
She handed him a glass of water and smiled.
"Meg's also been convicted of arson three times!"
In a flash she was over and raining hell on Nathan.
"They were accidents! And it was a brushfire! It's not like anyone got hurt!" Nathan tried his best to protect his face. Vincent just tried to take it all in. In time both of them returned their focus.
"So, welcome to Detroit. I hear you've had a bit of an eventful few days."
"He hasn't seen half of it, " remarked Nathan.
"Well, from what I hear you've been taking it all like a real trooper."
Vincent cringed and felt his temple.
"Please don't say that."
"But you have- "
"No, I mean don't say 'trooper'. "
"Oh, okay. Sorry, " she shied away.
"It's no big deal, really, but thanks. And...well, would it be possible to- "
"Banish the manners, Paco, Meg here's like family. Ask her anything and she'll be happy to burn it for you."
She glared but smiled again.
"Okay, well- is there a bed I can get into? The airplane really didn't do much."
"Of course! I'll show you the guest room."
"Get some good hours in! Tomorrow we ride at dawn! Er...probably around eleven!" Nate yelled as the two went up the stairs.
When they were out of sight Nathan removed his aviators and rubbed his eyes. He was tired too, but he had to stand guard. They were awfully close to a whole lotta hell, and it would take Megan and him both to get Vincent to the Doctor.
(apologies for the transfer errors, all the Paco's are in italics as well as a good bit of Claude's dialogue, and some other stuff. The pardon has an accent on the o (yea, that French word), and hopefully you'll get the paragraph changes. Enjoy.)