Jumbled, mumbled words,
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,
She turns,
My hand jerks from my side but not to full rise,
A spasm really to an onlooker,
After her,
But she is gone,
Ten feet,
Fifteen feet,
Into the fog,
And me in the dead yellow grass.



Is it possible to rest?
To plant firmly and grow for a time,
Before uprooting to someone new,
Or is all rambling,
Unbeknownst searching?
Accidental following of a subconscious wish,
Forcibly contained,
A Fenrir bound,
Unstoppable to break free,
No matter how much you may want,
To just slow down.

Late December or Hands in My Pockets

It is busy,
The night stars,
Swinging in tandem,
Every soul passing,
A beacon to another,
Two signals,
Stars themselves,
Cross lightyears to be seen,
Expanding endlessly,
Streetlamps I despise,
Fluorescent lights effortless,
No journey,
No struggle,
Programmed pathways,
Not so these stars,
It is all anew,
It is all worthwhile,
So they have my love.

Buzz Buzz

"Where is my mind?" -The Pixies, Where Is My Mind?

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.
No answer.
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.
"White Debil!"
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-
To who?
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.'
"White Debil!"
"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.
"Who's this?"
"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."
"Sounds intense."
"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.


Kitty Litter

"Dig me up from under what is covering the better part of me. Sing this song, remind me that we'll always have each other, when everything else is gone." -Incubus, Dig

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?"
"So smooth!"
"-and she works at"
"She works?"
"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?"
"Did you?"
"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."
"Good boy."
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."
"Sure thing."
"Or else-"
"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.


Cacti Chp. 6


here ya go.

Chapter Six

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."
"Saying 'Felix'?"
"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."


A girl.
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'.