Here we are again my friends. We live in an interesting world where anything can happen and does. In Episode 19 we look at the many faces of denial. These themes are loose at best…transient sometimes. Each story is threaded together to make a dream. Try to read them in order and then revisit those you love. It is a great pleasure to welcome back these fine writers to IBAS: Len Kuntz, Shawn Misener, Kevin Ridgeway, Michael D. Goscinski, Cheryl Ann Gardner, Tim Gager and Josh Olsen. A big hello to new IBAS writer Calvin Fantone. Enjoy!
Category: Episode 19
I know you are dancing. It’s Tuesday here, too.
What I do is, in the morning I put Rage Against the Machine on full blast, until my eardrums are bleeding, and I run. I sprint hard for an hour, until I’m about ready to vomit. Sometimes I do puke. Those are lucky runs. Puking takes my mind off of us, how we had a schedule of making love every Tuesday morning. We might do it later on that night, but Tuesday was an appointment we always kept.
It’s three hours later where you are. You’re dancing Brazilian. You’ll be wearing something in red, light fabrics, a tie string or two. The men there will have beautiful dates, but they’ll find themselves distracted. You won’t notice at first. The music will have seeped through you by then, that and the cabernet. Your teeth will be white cream in the strobe light wash of other colors. By closing time, you’ll pick a man, any man, like choosing some random card for a magic trick. It’s Tuesday after all.
I take two pillows and make a down body to rub against. I kiss the one on top. The cloth tastes like dust, like stuffing my mouth with moths. I know how pathetic I am, but it’s Tuesday.
It’s Tuesday and I’m flaccid and in a few hours the dial will slip into Wednesday.
I call my sister. “Derrick,” she says, “you’ve got to get a grip.”
I say I know.
“She wasn’t even good to you.”
I say I know that, too.
“She was actually a real bitch.”
I hang up.
At a bar, I sit at the counter. The women can smell the wounded and they hover and ask what all my necklaces are for, say am I some kind of rock star and laugh while fingering a pendant of their own, waiting for me to play.
I ask, “What time is it?”
“You going to turn into a pumpkin pretty soon?”
“Something like that,” I say.
“You’re so stinking cute, I could eat you up.”
“Right here,” her friend says, washing her lips with a meaty, blue-veined tongue.
I order five shots. I cock them down one after the other. They’re liquid bullets.
“You best not be driving,” the bartender says.
I shake my head.
When I turn on my stool, there are new girls. “What was her name?” the blonde asks.
“Lilly,” I say.
“That’s a stupid name.”
I push through them.
“We were going to let you take us home!” one calls.
I stumble down the streets lit no better than the bar. At an ATM machine I wait for the guy to finish. He gauges me warily. I say, “I’ll give you my card and pin number and you can have everything in my account. It should be about nineteen thousand dollars. All that for your car.”
“I am, but it’s a good deal. Look,” I say. I slot my card, punch in numbers, grab his hand and write the same four numbers, 2222, just over his knuckles. I give him the five hundred in twenties and the receipt showing my balance.
“Dude, my car’s a piece of junk.”
“You’re not going to screw me over somehow, close your account?”
I nod toward his wreck by the curb. “You’re already ahead.”
He tosses me the keys.
I get in, roll down the window and ask, “Hey, what time is it?”
He says, “Three minutes till midnight.”
I gun the engine. My foot slams the accelerator. There’s hardly any traffic on the West Side Highway.
When I get to pier, I’m counting seconds. I almost roll the car while cornering but I’m still zooming. The wheels rattle hard on the warped lumber tiles. I can see Lady Liberty in the distance. I keep my eyes focused on her as the car explodes through railing. Soaring over the Hudson, I wait for the woman to give me some kind of sign, to at least tell me she understands
Life is rich. Let me tell you why.
I gots some shag carpeting that feels great on my bare feet and even better on my bare ass. I gots a girlfriend named Wanda Rollins who drives a black 1979 LTD.
Now, I realize I’m in my sixties and my body ain’t what it used to be. But I’m retired from workin’ at the butchery and collecting disability from that time the meathook dug into my ear and drug me through the air like thirty feet. Seems like only yesterday, though I reckon it was around 1993. My ear ain’t never been the same but Wanda, that frisky bitch, she still loves me like a hot greasy bucket of chicken from Clucks.
Just yesterday she rolls over in bed after kissing me with that breath that smells like mouthwash and Budweiser and I realize something new about her, something pretty damn cool. She has two asses. And two fine ones at that. One’s her normal ass, the nice big double watermelon one I grab onto just for kicks, but this other one, it’s unique, it makes itself known only when she’s layin’ there naked on her side. And you know what it is? It’s the two rolls of fat on either side of her back, pressed together by gravity, creatin’ this long enormous hot dog bun ass! Who cares if it ain’t a proper ass? It’s the most beautiful thing in the whole goddamn world.
“Damn, baby, if you don’t let me make love to that frank fence I just might go crazy!” I moaned.
He stood watching the sun slowly form yellow lines along the tiled floor of the den. He’d be drunk most of the night. He bought his last call at one AM at the liquor store that doubled as a meth lab, two bottles of low grade wine purchased mostly with pennies from his girlfriend’s piggy bank. She sat sleeping, the blanket moving up in down in the glow of his computer screen. They’d fought over his escapades, which were becoming a daily occurrence, and she threw him out of the bedroom to sleep with the dog in the laundry room on a shit stained futon. He groped his stubble and felt a growing feeling of paranoia and dread when the morning birds began to chirp. He tooted the last strain of speed from a vial, took the gun he inherited from his father, and went quietly into the morning light while people sipped coffee from travel mugs and chewed donuts as they pulled out of nearby driveways, never to see the pandemonium surrounding this man’s house by mid-morning with her blood curdling screams.
With a razor sharp howl George vehemently denied having a heroin addiction. But his friends knew better. He knew better. The track marks on his arms, constellations from a magical galaxy. The cold sweats, a misty morning dew. The withdrawals, a gangbang in hell, burning his soul.
The intervention didn’t go as planned. Wasted words repelled by his ironclad urge to self-destruct. His friends babbled for over an hour on deaf ears. When they’d finished George stood up listlessly and excused himself.
On the street he scuffed his shin’s against a snowbank while barking under his breath. Surrounded by Christmas lights, reindeer and jolly Santa figurines he searched for a secluded area. His safe-haven a park offset from the road. Plopping his ass on the snow he reached into his pocket pulling out his date for the night. Breathtaking, a syringe glimmering in the reflection of the moonlit snow. George slid off his coat and found an unused spot on his arm. The kick was almost immediate as his finger made love to the plunger. Exhausting his resources he melted into the snow and let his mind get lost.
When the heroin took hold George’s body was swallowed by his surroundings. The wind was softer, the lights brighter and the cold, mystifying. Thinking about the intervention he mumbled with bitter sentiment.
“Waste of time. I’m not addicted to this shit! Who the fuck ruins someone’s Christmas? They could’ve waited for tomorrow. Well, I’m going to make this a Christmas to remember.”
As George’s eyes rolled back into his head he did just that, made it a Christmas to remember. And it’s a good thing he did, because it was his last.
The goddamn telephone was always ringing. No one I know would call me at this hour … any hour. No one I know would call me here, period. I felt like a ragtime prohibition floozy with one foot in a drain and the other atop a case of Chinese gunpowder, all blanched almond cheeks, dental dams, and laughing gas. “What’s so funny?” you asked when I giggled wildly at the thought of someone else and that they might be calling you. You couldn’t know what I was thinking, though, and I shouldn’t have found it amusing, since I wasn’t the one playing with all the sharp objects: You were, and I loved to hate you, even if you didn’t notice or didn’t care. You just wanted me to “hold still” as you leaned in close, the moisture vapor collecting in tiny droplets on the inside of your mask.
Ethan was five when he made his toy cars smash into one another. He screamed in joy when they hit. He then would get up and click his playlist of mp3 songs on the computer he’d been downloading since he’d been four. When he started his mother was amazed. “Funny how he never got into kids songs and how he’s all into music.” None of this surprised his father.
When he was eight he was running around the house while the music played. He jumped on the couch, flailing hands on air guitar. From the couch he leapt straight onto his play table, where he liked to paint. The table collapsed but Ethan kept playing. “I’m Pete Townsend,” he cried, smashing the air guitar to pieces. “I’m Who, I’m Who, and I’m whooooooo?”
“I don’t know who you are,” said the father as he wrapped him up in his arms until Ethan began to settle.
“I’m The Who,” he said and laughed. “In Cincinnati.”
His father had no idea how Ethan picked up that reference. The Who in Cincinnati? Wasn’t that thirty years ago when they played there and the people got trampled? Ethan was a sponge.
Today, when the school calls, his father is not surprised. Nothing in the world surprises him anymore. There are some pictures that Ethan has drawn. Would you like to have a look, Mr. McGrath? The father doesn’t think he can.
The hill he is climbing has just gotten taller. He feels it’s now a mountain and he needs oxygen but the tank is empty then thinks, “There is nothing wrong. Nothing is wrong.”
“Have you been drinking?” I asked my twelve year old daughter as she came bounding through the door. “No!” she exclaimed, incredulously, with the slightest hint of a grin in the corner of her mouth. “Let me smell your breath,” I said, and leaned in as she blew into my face. I failed to detect the scent of alcohol, but couldn’t help think that the odor of Jim Beam on my own breath must’ve made me seem like a bit of a hypocrite, though whether she was even aware of this contradiction, I had no idea, and wasn’t about to inquire. “It’s late,” I said, “time to go to bed.” And, with that, she hustled to the bathroom to take a powerfully foul smelling shit, then ate some cold pizza and ran upstairs to her bedroom to fall asleep in her clothes. Her cacophonous snoring shook the house to its very frame.
I have reason to believe that in my past life I was, in fact, a bird.
I haven’t always felt this way but it has come to my attention that I possess an extremely irrational fear of cats, snakes, bearded men wearing plaid that carry rifles, and extremely clean windows—especially clean windows.
I do not trust clean windows.
The windows in my home are to remain open at all times with the curtains drawn. The reason for this is twofold: I prefer to enter my house through those windows instead of the front door and I fear accidental (possibly fatal) collisions during the times in which I find it necessary to make a hasty entrance. For example, yesterday the neighborhood cat was chasing me and I attempted to jump through my window, which I believed to be open. The result was a painful series of cuts from the shattered glass.
Note to self: learn to distinguish between the cleanliness of a window and the openness of a window.
The second reason is that I wish to provide a welcoming environment for others of my kind. I leave platters of birdseed on my dining room table in the hopes that my past life brethren will find their way into my kitchen and keep me company. I have several birdcages filled with all necessary accommodations should these birds choose to stay. Sometimes in the late afternoon, I attempt to communicate with my companions. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to relearn the language I’ve forgotten. Perhaps one day wings will emerge from my body.
Perhaps one day I will take flight once again.