Thursday, October 13, 2011

A short break for a Conversation In The Gallery

“It’s just a pile of rocks.”
“Says who?”
“I’m saying it. I’m looking at it. It’s a pile. It’s rocks.”
“Think Smithson, think, Maria, think...”
“This is my submission.”
“Even thought I’m telling you there’s no chance this will be curated into the show? Even though I’m saying, right here, right now, I wont take it...”
“My work is in Art In America.”
“Show it to them.”
“I received the Yanich Initch Itchynich earlier this year.”
“There’s a cream for that.”
“You’re saying you don’t like it.”
“Have you really looked at it.”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Is it that bad?”
“Oh boy.”
“But you show crap. I figured, crap...”
“I don’t do angry artist well.”
“That’s’ a fact.”
“Have you tried next door? They’ll love you next door.”
“I just came from there.”
“It was nice to meet you.”
“Meet me? Margret, you represented me for six years, what are you talking about?”
“I thought you looked familiar.”
“I really need this. It can bounce me back.”
“Try rubber bands.”
“Is that Dino over there?”
“He loves my stuff.”
“He lies a lot.”
“He’s doing well.”
“He is it. He’s now. He is today.”
“Who is tomorrow?”
“Not you.”
“Goodbye Margret.”
“Goodbye Jonathan.”

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Nervous Wreck - part 2

        “It’s not encephalitis,” said Major.
“I’m pretty sure it’s encephalitis,” replied Shine. “My head’s killing me, the light is just so painful”
Major waved a hand in the air and stirred the dusty sunlight. “ So bright! It’s a bright beautiful day.”
“For you. You don’t have encephalitis.”
“Maybe he has meningitis.”
“It’s warm in here. Is it warm in here?”
“I”m confused.”
“It’s the swelling.”
“If he’s confused it might be meningitis.”
Binky stood on a chair. “Meningoencephalitis!”
“Is that possible?” asked Shine. “I didn’t know...”  
“See, this is why hypo-group doesn’t work! Who had the idea? All we do is share diseases! Two hypochondriacs in one room is a problem, four of us is... four is...” 
Major closed her notebook quietly, pushed her chair back just enough to take in the whole circle, the circle of four. With her included, a circle of five, which more closely resembled a crooked square.
“Shine, it’s bright in here. It’s warm in here. You’re confused because...”
“Because you’re always confused, Shine!”
“I’m not. Not always. I’m frequently confused. Traditionally paranoid, occasionally hypochondriacal.” Shine paused.
“It may be his duodenum.”
“Pancreas. Pancreatic divisum.”
Major put up a hand. Stanley caught it. “It’s what makes him so dark. All the bile. A failure from the embryonic stage of his life. Tragic.”
Shine stood, rubbed his eyes, looked at Major. “They’re nuts. I may be crazy, but this,” he looked around sadly, “this isn’t working.”
Major touched a curl on the left side of her head. They all saw it. Left side meant he was right. Hyper-vigilance had its advantages.

Nervous Wreck - part 1

    People called him Shine, and those that knew forgot to smile and those that didn't wouldn't have anyhow, but the fact was this: Shine was short for sunshine, which was, at least poetically, the inverse of cloudy, which had connotations of dark and stormy, or just plain gloomy, and that was what he was most of the time - dark, cloudy, or stormy - and that's why no one called him Gary, or Gimpy, as his father and brother had before the two of them drowned in the bottom of the duck pond, soggy in the Dodge with a dead bottle of Jack pierced through the windshield like an ugly reminder of a bad idea.
Most people who met him were happy enough with not calling him anything, or pretending at least that they didn't notice the damp, dim shadow of his presence. An embarrassing ploy on an elevator but he couldn't  blame them. He thought about it some mornings while he stood in front of the bathroom mirror drawing black marker circles on the glass around the dark-ringed reflection of his eyes. He did it almost daily to track the tendency of his growing despondence. There were a lot of pairs of circles on that mirror: misalignments, scale issues due to simple issues regarding optics, physics, posture - the fact that he was a schnook and just couldn't stand still long enough to do the job right.   
    The mirror looked diseased.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Crate - part 4 - the end

     Fidget stopped grasping at the strip of cloth and offered the narrow end of it to Cramp with his mouth and nodded for assistance. When Cramp drew it away Fidget said, "Oh, the crate? why? You think it will be the end of us?"
     Cramp looked over the ledge and squinted. "It's likely. I wouldn't ask, I mean under normal circumstances." They both hissed painfully from the humor of it, "But we're so close now, and I don't feel like we'll make it, not after that bear, not with this." Cramp toed the crate, "Look at us."
     "Foolish, I suppose. We should be near, wouldn't you say? Seems like maybe a few miles will bring us into contact."
     "I agree. Maybe hours. Unless...."
     "you'd figure we'd see planes, lights, something. We still have the flares..."
      "We do, but still," and they came back to the crate.
     Fidget limped up to the ledge, leaned against the crate and in doing upset a small tuck of stones beneath it. The stones clattered down the rocky cliff, echoed into an easy quiet. The crate shifted.
     "Okay then," said Fidget, mustering up something that looked like gladness. "Here it is, I was waiting until we were rescued, until we finished this, but since it might finish us first," Fidget fumbled with the latches, clubbed and clawed it a  bit. When he finally threw the lid open it flipped hard, and Cramp stared in wide eyed disbelief as Fidget said, "It's a present! A present for you! A welcome home gift! Can you believe it!" And fidget turned to the crate to stare with disbelief too as the crate rocked forward once and back, right off the cliff.
     "A what, did you say that was?"
     "A gift," said Fidget," leaning over the ledge for a look.
     The crate careened down the side of the cliff, they could hear it and the contents shattering into ever smaller pieces as it descended.
     "You had me help you carry a gift for me? Through this?" Cramp swept the air above and below him.
     "Of course," said Fidget plainly, "Who else would have helped me?"
     Cramp chuckled as he sucked at the tears in his lips. He edged his nose over the ledge. Darkness. Then he began to laugh. Fidget laughed a little too, still shaken from watching the crate vanish like that. But he laughed and tears welled up in his eyes, and when Cramp saw the tears he laughed more and made to slap his knee but couldn't due to the pain. And as they both laughed a terrifying sound rose up from beside them and grew to deafening in mere seconds, so much so that when the lights slashed flashing, radiant, arcs across the sky they found themselves in a tangle against the hard earth, both men having had the same irrational thought, which was: Bear with flashlight!  
     By the time they'd sent up he flare and the real rescue had begun, Fidget and Cramp had forgotten about the crate almost completely. It wasn't until later, once they were safe, when the rescue team had told them that the helicopter found them after the pilot spotted a firelight descending the dark mountainside.
      "You boys were lucky! A needle in a haystack! If old Doc hadn't been mak'in that pass on his midnight flight, you'da been finished! Nothin out there but dead 'n wanna'be dead!"
     Cramp looked at Fidget. "So, what was in that crate again?"
     Fidget pushed up he bandage over his eye a bit and scratched the sutures in his head. "Well, I was telling you, before all this... " he waved about a bit. "I guess it was a welcome home present, and as you know, we hadn't any candles, so I guess it was the flare... That was mostly a joke really... And well, now the rest if it, heavy as it was..."
     "Some Mighty present indeed!" interrupted the deputy sheriff, "you got a box full'a saved your life is what'cha got there! Box'O Save U Life indeed!"
     Fidget poked at the clean hospital linoleum with one bootied toe and thought of the others, the span of their battle, the losses. Cramp followed with his eyes and his heart and the moment passed.
     "Thats what it was," said Fidget, gently. That's what it was indeed."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Crate - part 3

     The fifth evening fell quietly and both men shared the feeling that the dawn would either make them survivors or the last victims of a long suffered catastrophe. Any observer of the pair, with knowledge of their circumstances, would suppose that a conversation was due; some planning, crisis management, tactical discourse, perhaps a final assessment of stock and strategy. But it wasn't until after a small tangle with a large bear much later that evening that Cramp found a moment to discuss the crate.
     The conversation took place as they stood against a stone ledge, teetering on a broad plateau, overlooking a subtle expanse of empty terrain below. Moonlit hues of iron-grey, plum, and blue emptiness painted their isolation in serene certainty. The sky above read black, ignoring the bright moon, with no lights above or below to signal civilization.
     While wiping his own thin blood from his forehead Cramp noted, "It had to be your right hand, huh? As if the bear knew... "
     Fidget looked at what remained of his right hand while attempting to grasp a remaining shred of his shirt to use as a bandage with his stump of a left hand. He said, "How it managed to maul the both of us at the same time is the most painful thing here. This is a bear with remarkable agility."
     "Speaking of agility," said Cramp, "I guess I have to ask again, only because I believe it may mean the difference between life and death: Why was it that we are carrying that crate?"
     They both looked at the crate glowing dimly on the stone ledge like a small warning.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Crate - part 2

          Somewhere beyond Skull Pass, but before Blind Drop, Cramp lost a toe. He didn't make much noise about it, and Fidget was grateful for that. It was shorn off in a rockslide, and considering how badly that might have turned out, a toe wasn't such a terrible loss. At least that's what Cramp told Fidget as that little piggy got seared shut with the red-hot side of a Butchers knife they'd been using as a machete since the plane went down.
    "I suppose I should have pulled the crate over instead of pushing it that way," say Fidget once Cramp stopped screaming from the cauterization.
    "Might of still slid," replied Cramp.
“...or I could have tried a lever, I don’t know.”
   The fact was that Fidget had taken his own share of minor beatings on he trip as well. He had torn one ear almost fully off, and he’d split the flesh and tore tendons between his index finger and his thumb on his left hand; both injuries occurred while hefting the crate from one spot to another.
    Cramp pointed weakly through the dark bramble. "Looks like Blind Drop up ahead there. After that, if we got it right, we're home free."
    "Fidget sat on the crate and held his chin up with one club of a bandaged hand and said, "Would have been nice... you know, for some of the others to have gotten off with us. Even just to see it happen."
    And in the darkness it looked like tears in his eyes to Cramp, but Cramp never saw tears leaking from Fidget, not once, not during the worst of it, the kind of worst that makes a maiming seem like a scratch.
    "The only reason we're here now is exactly cause there's no one left. Right? Dead and dying for how long? I don't remember..."
    "Don't want to," said Fidget. "don't ever want to."
   They risked their lives on blind drop, letting the crate down on a pulley they devised that used their own dead weight as a counterbalance. In their worst moment, dangling, sick with exhaustion from the effort, they'd both laughed into the force of the howling wind. death had them again, but there was no fear, no care, just being, just that and nothing more.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Crate - part 1

           Fidget and Cramp had packed up their belongings and swept out their huts before making sure that the small mountain ledge that they had called home since the terrible crash was as neat and clean for the next disaster victims as it had been for them.
"Are we ready?" asked Fidget.
"I believe so," replied Cramp.
The early morning wind was up. Cramp eyed the solid, grey expanse of sky above them.
             "Gale up. Maybe worse."
            "Got everything?"
            "I'll need a hand with something."
            Fidget ducked into his hut. A moment later Cramp heard Fidget laboring and the sound of something heavy hitting the packed earth within the hut. Fidget came backside-first out of the hut, dragging what looked like a small metal trunk into the clearing.
             "What's that?" asked Cramp, rubbing one elbow like an alarm.
            "Nothing," responded Fidget.
The two of them stood silently with stares stuck on the dull metal box.
            "That's some hunk of nothing..."
            "Yeah it is."
             "And you need a hand with this?"
            "Yes, would you mind?"
            "We're heading over Skull Pass."
            "I know."
            "And if we make it, Blind Drop."
            Fidget toed the box, gave it a test kick. It didn't budge.
            "Okay," said Cramp.
            "Thanks," said Fidget.
            The wind troubled the small space between them and then died down. It was Fidget’s turn to scan the perfect opacity above them.
            “Did you ..?” He threw his chin up over the huts.
            Cramp said, “Yes, she’ll be fine. They’ll all be fine. If we make it down, maybe, we can bury them properly.”
            Fidget shuffled his feet, blew air out his bottom lip, said nothing with a lot of noise.
            “And this,” said Cramp plainly, “you going to tell me what this is that we are about to carry over the mountain?”
            Fidget pushed his palm through his hair and looked up into the sky for some sign of diversion. There was nothing aside from what was in front of them.
            “No,” said Fidget. “Not just now.”
            Cramp blinked at Fidget, and then the two men silently started the last check of the makeshift camp that had been the center of their survival efforts after the plane went down.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lights Out

A story originally created as a submission to "The Big Ugly Review", for which I never received a receipt notification. It seems my little story might have simply been the last ugly straw for a seven-issue flash.
Here it is so I don't feel like I totally wasted a handful of small words.

“We were robbed.” 
She pushed the words forward against the carpet as she crawled.
“We what?”
Rusty wiggled around on hands and knees, nicked his chin on the edge of a side table and hissed, “This is what I’m talking about, Mare. This kind of thing, it’ll ruin us!”
He pulled the black mask up to his nose, felt the damage and eyed his wife angrily. 
In the unfamiliar room, soft moonlight crisscrossed with sharp shadows over her black bodysuit. Her full, pouting lips struck through the hole in her mask – those bright blue eyes - Mary filled the image of everything he loved about her in that very moment: the daring, the sexy innocence, the romantic thrill-seeker. She’s killing me, he thought, but…
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I just feel like we’ve been robbed here.”
And the moment was over.
Rusty yanked his mask down and hissed through the mouth-hole, “You and me, we’re robbing this house and you say, ‘We were robbed.’ He trembled. “That’s what’s costing us! That’s why we’re in therapy! That’s why we’re robbing this house to pay for that therapy!
Mary rolled gently onto her back in the plush carpet, held up the empty black sack and waved it theatrically. “Does this look familiar, Rusty? It’s our take tonight. Empty! Looks like most other nights!” 
Saying it brought tears of regret to her eyes, a mad torrent of haphazard regrets.
“Mare! Mare! Hang on now! Shhhh!” he ‘shushed’ her, didn’t want to. Her crying was so important - he’d learned in therapy without really understanding why – but he had to ‘shush’ her because of the headlights arcing, bouncing, filling the whole room, accompanied by the sound of an engine cutting off and…
“Mare! Mare! You can cry later, I promise you – I know it’s important to you, I swear it! but we gotta go! Now!
Rusty tried cool for Mary but instead stumbled over the hardwood floor off the living room and skinned his forehead on the dining room breakfront. 
Mary kept one eye on her husband’s enthusiasm and another on the front door as she effortlessly rolled through the darkened house.
They’d made it to the rear door of the house, stood on its threshold when they heard the keys, the lock, and the nauseating sound of light-hearted conversation. Lights went on in adjacent rooms.
Mary held Rusty tightly against the back door in the half-lighted kitchen. “Did you mean it?”
“Mean what? Let me go! C’mon Mare, let’s get out of here!”
“Mean what you said about letting me cry?” She felt Rusty’s fear building.
“Whatever it takes Mare! I’ll do whatever it takes!”
That could have meant many things, but Mary put it where she wanted it and that was enough for her.
A husband walked into his kitchen, turned on the light. The back door was open and an empty black sack draped the threshold.
He turned to his wife and said, “We were robbed.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

that guy - part 14 - The End!

That guy, crooked with simple hatred and half blind with a new found passion for life (in the shape of Babe), raged behind the gimpy pair on the stairs, tangled himself in the procession and was stunned when the bloody body of Gus smashed headlong into the cheap pine box.
    When Crawly squealed it was Crimp who let go of his end of the crushed pine box first. Swine let go when the weight if the load snapped his index finger.
Crimp tumbled onto Gus and Swine skid into the heap and the busted box gave way and caught hat poor guy Right in the forehead .
He stuttered and burbled as the world spun. A word came out of him and Babe leaned into the coffin at the top of the stairs to get a better angle on the sound. The pressure it put on Crawly there, still bleeding beneath that filled box, was enough to crush the last few intact ribs on the little fellow.
"What was it?" asked Babe over Crawly's wails.
    "Babe," said that guy. A trickle of blood ran down his forehead, went zigzagging as the swine and Crimp tried to use him like a rope.
Crawly groaned.
    "Shut up," said Babe, “I can't hear him."
Babe leaned harder against the edge of the coffin. It pressed into Crawly's throat and cut off the little air getting through. Babe smiled. That guy, with one finger making to wipe his split forehead, went for a smile himself. It didn't work.
    Crawly gave one last heave, and babe was leaning just a bit too forward on the coffin when he did that. Her weight gave the push enough leverage so that the coffin tipped forward, crushing Crawly's jaw, and toppled down the stairs, Babe, stiff, and box at once.
    That guy. That poor guy. With his head split wide open and all that blood running down his face, Babe looked to him like an angel of he lord coming to bring him to paradise.
    He was right!
    When the cops got there they found Creepy dead, Crawly dead, the dead guy in the coffin even deader than before, and that guy, that poor guy, a dead guy too. They found two crushed coffins and blood and guts and brains all over the place.
    What they didn't find was Babe, or Crimp, or Swine. The three of them knew better. After Babe gave a gentle kiss to what she believed was a piece of that guys forehead, she took her valuables from her apartment while he two narrow guys rifled any dough they could find from the apartments upstairs and downstairs. 
Then all three of them went to the twenty-four hour Skeeter-Bowl over on Third.
    Try watching Babe bowl a round.
   It didn't take long for Crimp and Swine and every other hooligan and dumbbell in the dim place to scratch up dreams of a new lives, happy
with Babe at their side. Babe saw it it all in their eyes, what she looked like for each of them. She felt it, and knew she could do it, be everything for each of them and everyone else in the world without the slightest effort. She knew it and it made her sick. 
“I’m gonna go get a soda,” she said. And Babe left the alley, passed the soda jerk, passed the elevators and took stairs down and out into the new day and never looked back.

The end

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That guy - lucky 13

     It was crawly screaming as the door came off the hinges, battered down by the weighted coffin but buffered slightly by the wedge of the scrawny boy stuck half beneath it.
"Gettim off me! Gettim! Off!" he squeezed it out, flailing, eyes bulging, blood seeping from a gap in his teeth, through one shredded lip, spattering the filthy landing.
Gus staggered over the coffin and into the hallway. 
"My own son! Hell! How's about that!" Old Gus, he looked both pleased and sickened as he climbed up on he coffin to get real close to his boy, sweetly riddled as drew the long, bloody, stainless steel blade from a sliced organ deep inside of him, just to the belly-roll side. His spleen he thought, maybe a kidney.
"I was going to show you," he slurred, "show you some magic!"
     Gus hiccuped blood, smiled into his palm and wondered what he was looking for, but before he had an idea Babe gave him a shove from behind and fell over the pile of creepy, crawly, and the coffin.
     That's about when that guy got into the hallway, about twenty seconds after crawly had pushed the buzzer to let his two pals, Swine and Crimp, into the building with the new and empty coffin. That's about forty seconds after Crawly gave Gus a swordfish hug and sixty seconds after Babe shouted, "the only reason I had sex with that guy downstairs is cause your old man told me it was your idea in the first place!"
     And so, you see, when Gus smiled admiringly at that bold tactic, Crawly simply saw complicity in his father's brutal face, and a few groping seconds later - Swordfish-hug-surprise!
     Swine and Crimp had the empty coffin half way up the landing when Babe shoved her way out onto the gathering pile of dead and dying there on the second floor landing. That guy was right behind them too, with timing that allowed him first to see Babe stumble out the door, and then Gus as he leaned over to kiss his son goodbye. Crawly got one fist out and gave his dear old dad a pop on the kisser, lending the dying man enough additional momentum to tumble head first down the stairs, dead on the first bounce!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

That Guy - Part 12

         That guy lay in his bed that night, cringing, fitful, elated, filled with new ideas, new anger, new joy - as new as baby blood - and the roiling turbulence in his gut was fear wrestling promise. It gave him the nerve to bellow and boom, “That's it! Fuck you! I'm coming up there!" 
And he meant it too, standing there on the bed, bouncing, trembling with hatred, hiking himself up in the air on invisible steps, inches from the ceiling as it shuddered and boomed back heavy with railroad ties and anvils threatening the beams. Up sweaty close, through the hammering, nailing, smashing about, that guy could hear Creepy cursing and Crawly shouting, pounding, fighting like maniacs thrashing at death through the darkness. 
And that guy there. That little guy. Snapping his teeth at their heels.
"Shut it! Shut up! I'll kill both of you!"
 Momentary  silence. 
Then, across the ceiling, heavy dragging, and again, the same sound without the anvils, with a bit of a pause followed by an explosion of shouting. 
That guy followed the action as it slid across the ceiling, thrust through the living room, across the hall, before it tumbled over the kitchen to the front door.
Really, how much hubbub can fit into this, just to get it right? You have to crush all that crooked thinking into a singularity that will cleanse the whole lot of them, one way or the other, and then you have to ditch the bodies and walk away. But not before we drag some coffins up and down the stairs!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

that guy - Part 11

     Later she said, "thanks for saving me," .
That guy, he got a sliver of babe over the pink and purple range of swelling against his right eye. Words were right there, but his tongue and lips just quivered up nonsense.
Babe leaned over, her bed gave a nice bit.
"Is this what you do? Spend your time falling off the planet, mopping your blood about, and saving girls like me?"
"Whas rot nit," he said through the swelling, "Ron nuh rill in,"
"Kill him? you may have to anyhow." and babe told that guy the whole story. When she was done she leaned over and kissed him gently on the mountainous ruins of his eyes and lips. Before she kissed him again she paused, silently, and the look on her face was one of gladness, peace. That was a look that crawly could have profited from, in fact it could have been a game changer. Instead, that bit of eden, and the bit offered so gently within it was a gift for that guy, the one who really did save babe. Funny how these things work. If crawly had only.., but then again, if only that guy hadn't..,
Well, in real life there"s none of that. No looking back at ifs and uh-ohs. Its all tripping forward; and anyhow, so much work went into getting the whole thing as wrong and fucked-up as it could possibly get. Why would we undo all that just to make ourselves feel better by fixing a lousy situation? I’d rather not.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

American Dream

     When you have a job long enough, and work hard enough, and care just enough about everything there is to care about and do the right thing just enough to get into heaven with the platinum invitation, you can say to yourself, “I’m ready for the American Dream!”
You work hard, very hard, and earn millions for the Boss, and for that he cheats you on your insurance, cuts your salary, and doubles your workload. You scratch enough money together to put a downpayment on a house, and when you look around for one, you find that there are more home’s you wouldn’t want to be murdered in than those you’d like to live in. The mortgage broker robs you, the previous owners despise you, the real estate agents - well, there are not enough words to describe that kind of disease - and the sub-contractors who will fix up your dream falsify their credentials, lie about their ability, deceive you about the scope of work, and are generally the kind of people you are trying to keep out of your home instead of let in. The car dealer is a thief,  who manages to admit to aspiring to ever deadly sin between the first handshake and the first pat on the back. The State the City and Town, will all put a home more than a hand down your briefs, the Insurance brokers will admit that they are not at all competitive, and the only people through the entire episode who seem nice enough are your new neighbors, who look as tired and ravaged as you do.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

another break for some - Big Art Business

“We want something light, L-I-T-E like, you know - you know?”
“I think I know. Like.”
“Things that are very big, that’s light, right? Those big flowers, or those big dolls, or those big toys...”
“Big sculptures. Big pop-sculptures.”
“We put them in front of buildings, in parks, on the medians, perhaps you’ve seen the most recent works on Park Ave - I love saying Ave...”
“...Giant cupcakes...”
“Is that what they are? Haha, I thought they were rocks. Giant rocks.”
“No, I thought they were, like, giant rocks.”
“Giant rocks are boulders...”
“Now you’re just teasing me.”
“Dick Dirkens.”
“Yes, fabulous.”
“He murdered his wife.”
“But he got off.”
“Ah, did she get better?”
“When he got off, did his wife get better, cause...”
“She’s dead.”
“How much are we talking about?”
“Forty-five thousand.”
“How big?”
“Make it touch the sky.”
“Everything touches the sky.”
“They said you were difficult.”
“Who are they?”
“Everybody in the program.”
“In this state?”
“Public Arts projects are valuable, they help society.”
“Eighty-five, unless I make it out of pancake batter.”
“Really? No! You’re teasing me again!”
“If I killed my wife would you give me Eighty-five?”
“Let’s meet again next week.”
“Wait, are you, Like, serious?”
“I’ll call you.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

that guy - Part 10

A memory, before the fear that came with Gus’s love - that’s right - It took a while  but that tiny crawdad got the best of the old man, and with love came the fear he never had for himself; fear of what the future had in store for his fragile boy, the hurt, the disappointment, the sharp promise of despair, failure and to top it off, the disease of death that already ran through his veins.
So Gus hadn’t killed Crawly, no, he slowly tortured him with his love. His was a promise to inure the boy against the pitfalls of life; a plan to keep the boy’s head as low as possible, eyes down, close to the ground, with bruises and stumbling incorporated. That was Gus’s love: Bruises and Stumbling Inc..
But before all that there was something else, a pleasant feeling, one that came without the residual violence after the vice. It was the nearness of that feeling and the close threat to it, in the form of that guy - suddenly that stinking, lousy guy sneaking out of Babe’s place - that made him go,
Crawly didn’t know any of that, but Babe did. And after that poor guy had his teeth in one hand and his jaw in the other she said this to Crawly:
“You want your Mama and that’s pathetic.”
That guy, he saw an opening in the startled look on Crawly’s face, made a weak fist and took a swing but missed. The weight of those two beads clamped in his hand was enough to throw him off balance, draw him forward off his feet and he went down a second time over Babe’s threshold, down into a bullseye of his own blood.

Monday, April 25, 2011

That Guy - Part 9

Of course it was Crawly on the staircase with half a mouth full of petrified bannister as that guy stumbled over Babe’s warmth and out the door. Crawly: one-half an angry inch from a dynamite-belt strapped to his own head, half that distance to dreams of explosive peace - a memory of something soft and compelling, a comforting space torturously tied, gagged and wrapped in fear. Ah, there’s nothing like a firm, well-ruled childhood! Tick, Tick...
“You, you’re that guy from the first floor - what’s the guy from the first floor doing with Babe there? Huh? Guy from the first floor?”
That guy still had his hand on the sweaty frame of Babe’s doorway, hadn’t even had a chance to expel the last breath of her surroundings from his lungs before he found himself stuck using that air to defend himself. And he did it, did that, using that very air, he said, “Crawly? You’re the son,” he said, quietly, nudging a soft cheek upward.  “The other one up there - Babe said so...”
“Babe said what!?” spat Crawly. “What did Babe say?” And Crawly had that guy up against Babe’s door, used his head for a knocker, banged it a few times until they both heard the footsteps, the bolt flipping, again.
“Hey Babe,” hissed Crawly, “This that guy from across the hall?” He drew a handful of that guy’s  hair into a bridled grip, and spun him around to face Babe. The blood and hair and sudden wash of sweat across that guy’s face blurred for a moment and the next moment that guy was marbling out two of his front teeth onto his blood drenched shirt.
It wasn’t the pain or the blood or the feeling like he was about to cry in front of Babe that had him stunned, no - it wasn’t even the head-smashing spit of teeth onto the tiled hallway floor either - it was the look Babe gave Crawly in reaction to the violence, the look that went right through that guy, straight through him as if he weren’t there. No shouting, no flinching, she barely moved those full lips when she said, “put him down, pick up his teeth, and give’em back.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Now, a quick interview with a famous artist of the day

“...Well, Thurmond Theery was unkind. My work, “String”, the first “String”, was a monumental statement about the inconsequential - or, more perhaps - a translation of the monumentality of the inconsequential - You know, as much as a room full of string can say about such a thing.”
“You speak about a work, “String Three”, this one, a work where you literally string the continents together, literally. How so?”
“Airplane and a big spool of string. Monumental spool of string. Strong stuff.”
“I see.”
“Do you? Really? Can you see it? The string, bakery string, draped hundreds of thousands of miles, over homes and forests, and tigers and little poor children starving to death - no one is absent in my art! - over oceans - give it a yank and draw up an ocean! Magnificent!”
“Theery says you are a buffoon...”
“I wrap time around my finger like one end of a yo-you string and bounce space up and down with a flip of my wrist, Theery can kiss my bank account!”
“Still, he claims that your work is past it’s prime, that you are reaching, that your show has become all showmanship.”
“I filled the Guggenheim with pink ping-pong balls, FILLED IT! Right to the top, do you know there is a chimney, not many people know that...”
“Ah, classic work - ah, you were arrested for littering...”
“At the opening. Who would have thought of it? All those ping-pong balls rolling down Fifth Avenue... We only got the one door open. The only show in the history of the world to be an instant success without a single person entering the museum! And closed before it even opened! Ha! Jail, so what?.”
“And “String Two, a bit racy for the family viewers; the critics say you shouldn’t have.”
“They didn’t have to look if they didn’t want to.”
“You performed it on the steps of the New York Public Library.”
“They could have turned their eyes away.”
“Some say you just don’t have any talent. That you’re just a pervert, a ham, and worse, simply filled with juvenile concepts that are without depth. Bad for the art world, bad for the world in general.”
“Oh, really? Where are these people? In Soho? Are they in Rudies? I don’t think so. I suffer for my art. I spent six years researching my last project by locking myself in five-foot wide fish-tank with a dead otter. You know what that’s like?”
“You did what? Which years?”
“I said I spent two hours staring at a fish-tank while thinking about a dead otter, do you know how hard it is to do that?”
“You just said...”
“Don’t listen to what I say, just watch me! Watch what I do - I can do this, can you do this.”
“Mash my fingers about?”
“See, to you it’s just mashing your fingers about, to me it’s making knots in time! Knots in time!”
“And speaking about time, that’s about all the time we have today. Thank you, Neery Theery, son of esteemed art critic, Thurmond Theery, artist, social critic, and by some accounts, buffoon and idiot of our time. Goodnight!”

Monday, March 28, 2011

that guy - part 8

            Gus couldn’t even tie a shoe without thinking of murder. A smooth lace around one index finger turned him into a lust-red-hobgoblin with visions of garroting, asphyxia, other types of hostile bifurcations. Drawing the little knot tight, that gave him tremors, pushed little bubbles of delight from the tight corners of hate-box.  It didn’t matter: waking up, eating marshmallows, there was violent murder in all of it. Acts of kindness simply led to anger and hatred then betrayal and death by murder. He’d often skip the middle stuff and go straight to the murder part. “Hello!” and a sharp knife across the throat if the sun was right.
            The sticky part was the thinking, the poetry. There was never legitimization; nothing like excuses, diseased thought processes, not that kind of lunacy. It wasn’t sex or thoughts of sex; roundabouts, daisy-chains, pink bugaboos or snakes that looked like the old man weeping. Gus was just fucked-up sick in the head and burbling death-throes looked like good art to him; begging bathed in bodily fluids was operatic - screams symphonic. He saw a shrink for a month before killing him. He had a wife long enough to squeeze his illness into the universe in the form of Crawly, and then he killed her. He had folks, (not bad people for murder-makers) but on his twelfth birthday he killed them too.  He’d of killed everyone else going back in time before that too - you see the system – but there weren’t means, just a little boy snuffing out the life from whatever he could, wherever he could, and calling it practice – The Early Period.
            Gus was pocketing a grand each time He bumped off that guy in 2F. And each time that guy in 2F gave up his lease, Mac (Muck) Wicking in 1B, owner and president of IFFY Realty Corp, Inc., got to tack on whatever the market would bear to his receipts each month and of course those liquid assets that would pour his way though debit cards, bank codes, passwords and other dripping finds one might stumble upon with a set of keys and good, long, head start, before anyone asked any questions – if anyone ever asked any questions at all. And then, down at the Dead End where Muck was known as Spike, he’d buy a round for the shooters and the darters and the thrillers and the stalkers and he’d toast The City of  New York, and the Office of the Mayor, and the Rent Guidelines Board, the D.O.H - the list went on - for aiding and abetting, stepping up and taking it every way they could, just for making downright murder an asset to those who didn’t mind cheating the system just a bit around the edges.
          For Muck, Gus was a temporary mechanism, one that worked well, but he’d hiked the rent in 2E three times in two years, and had the feeling that Gus didn’t do it for the money, which was a problem. And then there was the thing with Crawly and Babe, and Muck didn’t like it. Muck was up to here with Creepy and Crawly.

Monday, January 10, 2011

that guy - part 7

           “It’s okay,” her saying it making it so, her leaning against him, nudging him with each careful dab of the cotton swab, so familiar, forgiving, allowing him to breathe, speak.
            “I don’t know what happened, I must have slipped…”
            “You cut your head on the door,” said Babe gently, “when you passed out.”
            “Think of it,” his heart tipped, “I came to ask if you needed help. Me!”
            He wiped more vomit from the face-down side of him and spoke through the side of his mouth without the bruise. Once he started talking he couldn’t stop. He told her what he’d seen, told her how awkward he felt, how awkward he was and had always been, in fact, how uneasy he was with simply being alive.
            “It’s not that I am afraid of life, it is just that I am uncomfortable with being alive, always have been. There’s been a mistake - this can’t be mine, this life.”
            It ran out over his lips and onto the floor. He did it with bitter pride. He spoke and she listened and the more he spoke the more softly she attended to his wounded head.  Every waterlogged word that came out of that guy’s mouth there at Babe’s kitchen table took another barb out of the hooks on the lure she was supposed to be. Oh yes.
 Lure. That’s how corny the whole thing really was up until today.
That’s what Gus had wanted. She didn’t know why, but Gus had been sufficiently cruel to convince her of his sincere spirit. Bait, anyhow, as he put it. And it hadn’t really been the threat, the cruelty, no, no - not for Babe. It was the boy, Crawly.
Crawly had asked Babe to humor Gus; asked as he rolled off her late one morning, his sweat stuck to her supple flanks. “He’s got his shitty little murder plan, make him happy. Keep him off my back and let the old man think what he wants to think, ‘kay-Babe?”
Believe it. Wheezing little feint just fresh out of pimples. Banging Babe. Backspinning with delusory visions of vengeful romance, true love, punch-drunk cupidity; stupid ass Crawly, he didn’t fall for Babe, he fell for her falling for him. He needed, she provided.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

that guy - part 6

            It took the rest of the night, diligence on all sides, to get the whole thing stuck in order. In fact, there was more order than expected, more than could have possibly been dreamed of. An extraordinary batter of festering neuroses, desperate fantasies, depraved aesthetics and simple bad luck went into creating this particularly deadly delicacy. A heartless putty of sweet dissimilitude came together that night and it was nothing less than a perfect sum of parts that pushed the dawn, belching grey and beaten dim, into the early morning sky that following day.
            Index finger from chin to buzzer - two-feet? and a half? Really, how long is it shoulder to wrist? Watching it traverse the short distance gave him the hiccups. Watching the sick crescent of chewed nail across the top of it bob and weave along a miniature horizon gave him gas, on the spot, hot farts, burps like lesions.
            He’d shoveled himself across the hall where history and future collided there on the landing; a cosmic parallax failure made him dizzy, then nauseas, and then spun him into something more tragic than he’d ever known. By the time that finger was upon the buzzer, that pathetic guy had watched every opportunity in his life bob, and dip, and scoot off into the land of Mysterious-Impossible.
            The buzzer screamed like a B-movie murder victim. He vomited. Babe unlatched the door. It was too late to run. He farted, burped, and wiped his mouth.
            Babe drew in the vision, the offering, the failure. She smiled.
            “You’re that guy,” she said, nuzzling her nose in the direction of his door.
            That guy vomited again.