Blackout. Either way alcohol nurtures society but absolutely obliterates the individual.
I look around at the others seated at the table. I don’t know yet if they’re people. I haven’t even figured out if I am to be human for the evening.
We bullshit some more. The couple danced. I can never remember names. Then the girl danced alone. I was towing the line between drunk and insanity.
The question of my last breath is either sober or whiskey soaked. The continuous monologue in my mind reaches the end of its reel. I am not making sense but its my senses that make me.
I have a fake dog, it’s made out of plastic.
The two made their way to the bar in silence, glancing at each other every so often. He looked down at his drink and around the flashing lights and sounds. She adjusted her cap and looked around at the flashing lights and sounds.
Why should his sanity ever be in question when it swam in the same pool of saturated judgements and opinions as those who were insane and those who labeled others insane. It was all the same doggie paddle, just different ends of the pool.
“If I had to guess, you have about 10 to 15 minutes of living left to do. That’s a gift in my book, not many people are given the satisfaction of knowing how much time they have before, well you know.”
The rain drops on the window made all the head lights look like shooting stars passing him. No one was walking the streets. Homeless were huddled at bus shelters, doorways and underneath shop overhangs.
Follicles salute bloody snouts. Extending past split ends, peering at red snow, hearing howling, growling and snarls.
He stood, stage right, peeking out of the curtain, watching them. Some opened the programs, others sipped drinks and in the balcony, a few focused their binoculars. They were nearly ready.
I started walking down the street. There were luxury shops I had seen in downtown’s across the U.S. and Europe. There were street vendors selling the things I had seen about this place on television and movies. I got the sense that they had set up shop for all the backpack carrying people who needed sunscreen applied every 2 hours.
A cube of marble with arms, a chest, stomach, legs and feet with none of the ripples and bumps of a completed piece. He was a block.
Everything was imagined from mythical beasts to majestic feasts. Yet he could not conjure her, even in his own memory. She would not appear in his imagined world.
I put her clothes from the hospital in the hamper and sat on the bed. What were all those forms I needed to fill out? What were those phone numbers I had to call? Why did I put her clothes in the hamper?
“Turn, bend over, spread your cheeks and cough.” He paused and looked at the other freshly imprisoned men complying. His clothes black with a strip of white, wadded up on the floor behind him.
I knew she was just extending a guilty hand. I looked around the yard and spotted chains and a lock on the lids of their trash cans.
The grandfather stopped its whining. He check his watch out of habit one more time then slid it off his wrist. Another thing he thought he could count on gone.
I was terrified to breathe. What I had considered a burbling brook a few minutes ago seemed now like a turbulent vortex. It started to rain.
Through the angry clouds and assault of spray from the waves battering the boat, I stared. My eyes stung from salt. My body ached from gripping tightly to ropes and climbing rigging, all to pull us out of the deep ocean and closer to land.
“Right. It was singing but it was the combination of a chortling bird and an opera singer. Like Andrea Bocelli Gargling mouthwash or Placido Domingo trying to belt out ‘O sole mio while being water boarded. It was bizarre.”
“PANCAKES! Pillow-y spheres dripping with melted butter and sweet maple syrup. What do you think of that.” The private looked up at the sky, as if the clouds would fall down onto a plate and the heavens would rain down syrup.
On to the rite-aid for some ice cream, a scoop with a cone for a dollar a some-odd cents. A pretty good day. I felt like I had lived like a king.
Rooster’s don’t have teeth. At least that’s what he was told. He was also told to go to college, get married and buy a house. That shit didn’t work out. So did rooster’s really not have teeth?
Milton scratched his nose, perhaps it was the waft of fecal matter, like the sudden chill of a ghost passing through the living, or perhaps he was reminding himself that he thought too much.
Then some priest was like, I’ll pray about it. For all we know he’s still doing that.
She wiped it off her chin. He wiped with a towel. The crew struck the set. The director took the footage to the editor. The talent got dressed and drove off in separate vehicles.
The man pushed the tines of his fork into the base of the T in his steak. The woman scooped out a piece of chicken with her hands, dipping it into her dressing before taking the whole bit in her mouth.
The sensation was of wallflowers. Becoming a part of the scenery, the background, a decoration that’s been hanging for so long it’s lost all meaning. A ghost viewing life but not able to live. She leaned back, her mouth open, her eyes only slits. The needle stayed in her vein.
Smoan had made the trip hundreds of times. From the satellites shining in the sky, the group made their way through the terrain in a smooth, continuous movement.
When she closed the glass door of the lighthouse, for a moment, there was only silence. Silence and the spinning light.
I flagged down the waiter for another Sangria and sat, trying to figure it out. All this raw emotion and rush of feelings but I was alone. In younger days it was easier to identify my feelings. This is happiness. This is regret. This is anger. As I grew older, the feelings tied themselves to memories and experiences, making it harder to untangle one emotion from another.
I watched her dance and ignored the insatiable appetite of the flames biting into my finger tips. An emptiness hit me, a tunnel opening up inside my chest, terror. Then the flame spit up its victory smoke and I was left with the memory of her dance.
She drove, her hands ten and two, no radio, stopping at every light, keeping two car lengths between the vehicles in front. Textbook safe driving. We pulled up to a bakery and she said, “get out.”
He snapped off the end of his carrot and kept thinking. More than a cup of coffee, chewing woke him up in the mornings. This morning, however, his mind seemed to be stuck in that fog between dreams and the reality of the world that his eyes took in.
He kicked the dust and shoved his hands into his jeans. She slammed the hood of the car down and dabbed at sweat on her forehead. Pulling a cigarette from a pack, she let it hang from her lips and crossed her arms on top of her head.
The morning was moist and the empty lot was soft underfoot, clinging to all the hand-me-down shoes of the young troupe. They made their way, shortest to tallest, toward the striped tent. Cotton candy, kettle corn, funnel cakes, fried chicken wafted into their hungry noses. Not a single kid, however, turned his gaze toward the vendors.
Little Johnny stacked his potato chips on the TV tray. His eyes were glued to the salted yellow starch disks while Wally and the Beaver “gee whizzed” and “golly’d” all around their picket fence neighborhood. So concentrated on balancing his Lay’s, Johnny didn’t hear his daddy come home.
he dropped her brush. The desert’s grit clung to the paint stuck to the brushes toe. The once indigo splash was now a textured nib of yellows, oranges and browns from the Mojave’s sands.
I took a long pull from the cigarette. With no filter, the smoke punched a hacking cough out of my lungs. I choked it down to hear the rest of Father Ibsen’s sermon.
A young girl, taking her parents lasers and adding some of her own, taped all of them together and stuck them on the weather vain of her roof. As she stepped back to admire the lasers whipping in all directions the wind would blow, she fell off the roof and never was the same, but neither was the world.
Dust. So much swirling in the air that it became mud in the eyes and chewed up cake in the mouth. Their ears built dams of wax and stone. Their noses reduced to only to hold up glasses, unable to pass air in or out from the mucus and wet clay caking its opening.
Flat-nosed. Ears like used tinfoil. Arms, legs and a neck like chiseled stone from a sculpture still in progress.
We had talked about shutting off the world many times and he was a few days and a couple details away from freedom. Tracking time in cigarettes and answering only to his bodily functions.
He looked up at the faces of the other guests. Nodding, smiling, winking, head-tilting, lip-biting, red cup sipping, arm touching, eye fluttering, eye fucking, and jealousy. Bob noticed it all in those faces. He took a deep breath and downed the rest of his drink. What was he doing there?
Something like thirty cubicles span the space between me and this RJ character, so why is he unloading his life on me? His badge! I can glance at the name on his employee badge. I look down at the usual badge holding locations. Shirt pocket. Damn. Belt loop. Shit.
I walked in the front entrance of the institution where crazy lived. Outside crazy was called normal. Inside it smelled like rubbing alcohol. In the waiting room, everyone’s hair was shiny and thick. The bags under their red eyes reminded me of how I felt every morning.
Now that life was burning 10 feet from where I stood in the snow, keeping me warm and melting the billions of frozen flakes around my feet.
It only takes a moment for our animal instincts to take over us. A hushed whisper of a thought becomes the booming voice of vice.
The morning arrived in a gradient of orange, purple and blue across the sky. The sun hadn’t pulled itself over the mountains and the moon was enjoying a glimpse of the day. The girl with the pearls in her eyes wept.