My writing and other perversions
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Len Woods was being chased by a thing with more teeth than a shark but it walked on two legs. He knew it was a nightmare, his anxieties always tortured him when his eyes closed. But after weeks of this, he was ready to fight back. Before he slept, he envisioned a gun, modeled after his fathers Hk 45. He drew it out, pictured it's weight in his hand. He knew it would never run out of bullets and when it fired, there would be no kickback. He pictured each bullet being directed by his will, the gun an extension of his soul. When the sharp-toothed beast came after him in the house where he grew up, the blood of his dead father dripping from its gaping maw, instead of running, this time he stood his ground. He could smell it, blood and sweat mixed with chlorinated water, like when he got a nosebleed in the pool in high school and people called him ragface. And he felt the gun. The weight felt right. Pure and powerful. With the monster in his face, he pulled the trigger four times, each bullet carrying a bit of his fear with them . The first shot was when he was caught with a hard on by his neighbor, a painful memory that haunted him whenever he got naked with a girl. The second one was the fear as he sped to his father's house, knowing he was too late and that his dad was dead, lying on the bathroom floor, covered in a sheet he'd grabbed from a hamper. The third was the anger he'd felt when his girlfriend told him she was leaving, even though he'd done his best to drive her away by being a selfish asshole. She was crying and he couldn't be bothered to feel anything but betrayal. The last shot was all the pain he'd felt eating away as he'd blamed it on himself. The inability to forgive himself or anyone else and the toxic mess that burned inside him. The shark mouthed thing never stood a chance. The bullets vaporized it, turning it into a red cloud of bloody dust. Then Len woke up. And the gun was still in his hand. Glowing.
Monday, October 24, 2005
She was in a prison behind her eyes. Every day she walked and hoped that someone would notice when she stumbled. Her heart begged for anyone to do more than wish her good morning or hello.
She fervently believed in love at first sight, so much that when she fell in love with a man upon meeting him, she let him tear her open and leave her bleeding on the ground. And she went back for more.
She would wish on falling stars, and make dandelion dreams whenever she had a chance. She would take 2 minutes before a birthday cake to make a picture in her head of what she desired would happen when she blew out the candles. She kept her fallen eyelashes so that she could blow them from her fingertips when times were rough and she needed a bit of hope.
She dreamed of men that she met, every day, casually passing by. The ones that smiled and the ones that scowled. She knew that one of them was her true love, but she didn't know how to tell him apart from the ones that weren't. She knew he would come to her, though. It would happen because it had to happen.
She almost burst with ideas every day, paintings that she drew upon steamed mirrors in the bathroom, snippets of stories that she wrote on the backs of reciepts, sonnets that grew to crescendos in her head only to find out that the mirror dried, the reciepts lost, and the sonnets lost the beginning by the time she got to the end.
She felt full to bursting. She felt like she could tread the world, but she dreaded taking that first step alone. She needed a sidekick, a partner or a friend.
Oh, she had friends, people who spurred her, prodded her, poked her when she needed it, but she didn't have that one special friend who would look into her heart and know what she needed. That other, opposite and same.
She burned with embarassment when she saw people gaze at each other with pure love in their eyes. She once spent a whole movie watching two people in front of her kiss, wishing that she was one or both of them. She looked at every holiday as another chance to meet her special one, then stayed at home.
And that's what she hated. Every time she was at home, she cursed herself as that being the moment that she missed her true love. When she slept at night, she knew he had passed by the door to her apartment, and she'd just let them go by.
Oh, she'd tried the clubs. She'd gone out with the girls and seen the glittery boys, shining under the flashy lights, all teeth and eyeballs roving her body. She'd seen the interest or the casual dismissal. None of them would care what her favorite book was. None of them would ask her if she liked milk with her tea.
She'd been to the church, but those boys had their eyes on one goal and she could not compete with that. It hurt to be with a beautiful one who had such love that he wouldn't share with anyone but the one on the cross.
She'd attempted the computer dating, with the sly, slimy boys. They all seemed like they were trying to sell her their cars or their watches. They wanted to hypnotize her, that was obvious. They didn't see past her eyes, they didn't have the key that unlocked the door in her mind. They didn't have what she needed.
She'd glanced about her at work, the boys that shuffled and filed. The ones that giggled and then stopped when she looked at her. They were all sad, sycophantic, begging for attention from anyone, but not from her. No, never from her. Her they ignored, or sometimes playfully flirted with. If they wanted something. That was all they knew, to use charm to get what they wanted. That wasn't for her. She saw through them and their petty ways.
Her mother had tried to set her up with boys, they all seemed eager to please, moist and unsure. Too shy, too undemanding, willing to bend. She'd had enough of them after too long. They were wet ones, damp like a used diaper.
Lately, she'd been feeling odd. Off. Out of sorts. Unsettled. She felt like she was becoming disconnected. The lack of attention was making her feel invisible. Not that she lacked attention, but the right kind of attention. Sunshine versus heat lamp.
She was wilting, she knew it. She could feel it. Her skin was always dry, her hair felt brittle. She had trouble catching her breath. She thought she might have a disease, when she woke up with huge bags under her eyes and no one noticed. She thought she might be catching something, diseased from some exotic rare thing that was uncurable.
She made up a fantasy in her head where she had her last days, and people clustered about her, praying for her, sobbing over her. And one handsome doctor who had a cure, but it might be worse than the disease. In her dream, it would leave her permanently crippled but alive. But he would care for her nonetheless. He would be there for her, if she needed him.
Then she realized that her doctor was already handsome, and he barely asked her about the weather when she saw him.
She spent the day staring at her nails, wondering if the spots in them meant that she was experiencing the last stages. The people at work milled about her, dropping things off or picking them up, barely glancing or recognizing her illness.
She tried dressing the part, wearing black for days on end. No one noticed that she was garmented for her own funeral. Not a word was spoken about her black painted nails, bunned up hair and black spectacles.
So she started listening to the most droning, dark music that she could. They were allowed to put in cds on their computers, and she took it to extremes, playing dirges and cacophonies. From Moussorgsky to Marilyn Manson. From Tchaikovsky to Kronos Quartet, the music was resoundly neglected. All that happened was everyone avoided her, instead of just a few.
Then he came back.
Her only, to be honest.
He was in a band. She met him through a friend, and he savaged her heart with wolflike skill. She loved him from the moment she saw him, the way he carried himself like the world owed him a favor but spoke as if he wanted to pay one back to you. She could see his duality and felt it in herself. He was proud and hurt and she loved him for it.
He wore ugly clothes and sang ugly music that hurt her ears, even as her heart drank it up. He put on makeup and had more jewelry than she did. His hair was never styled, combed or washed. He always smelled like the cigarettes at the bottom of an empty glass of beer. And sweat.
When he talked to her, away from the others, his eyes reflected hers, his voice was so soft and sweet. He touched her arm and she felt it in her ribs. He slid a hand across her back and she felt it all over.
He cried when he was with her. It made him angry to do so, and that made him better for it. When he raged and broke her vase that her mother made for her, she forgave him. As he screamed at her she closed her ears to it and remembered what he'd whispered to her earlier, before the screaming, and the sobbing faded.
He'd been shattered, and he was only trying to put it all back together. But it was hard, because pieces were everywhere and he couldn't find them all. She understood.
He wrote songs about her pain, things she told him in confidence, secrets passed in the darkness above their bed. He sang in loud voices about her fears, he made them into poems and dedicated them to her. She loved the jealous looks from the other women in the crowd as much as she hated him telling how much she feared germs, or all her hair falling out, or that dream where you pull your teeth out and there just seem to be so many teeth and they never stop coming and you keep pulling but your mouth, bleeding and sore keeps producing them.
She'd read enough to know that you cannot change what will not be changed, be that fires, foot length or fellows. She knew that she wouldn't make him into something new, but she wanted to have what he could give her for as long as she could. She knew that he would hurt her. But she went anyway.
He would sit up for hours, playing his guitar while she dozed next to him, tuning and re-tuning, never happy. She would call him and know that he had just turned off his phone, but knowing that he was all right because he'd turned it off. He only answered her when he was angry.
She would cook him grand meals that would grow cold and old in the night as he played for hours after his set was over. He would come home drunk and full of regret, but he would come home. That was important.
She helped heal him, finding the scattered pieces. Gluing them with love and pasting them. Sometimes it was rejected, too old, or ignored, too fresh, but it happened. And he began to live. He took deep breaths instead of his shallow angry ones. He slept instead of picking at the strings all night. He stopped screaming his songs and started wispering, like he did with her at night.
And then he left. He didn't say a word. He didn't even take his guitar. She'd come home and there was nothing. But a new nothing. Or maybe the old nothing again. The one that was there before. The emptiness where two bodies were. The dryness from lack of breath. She knew he hadn't been there. And by the next morning, she knew he wasn't coming back.
She checked the band's website, but it was the same old page filled with lies and bravado. Then it too, was gone. She checked the paper, looking for his name. She googled him obsessively, for months on end. He was gone, like he never existed. But she knew he had.
Though there were times she thought she made him up. In the shadows thrown up by the clock radio on her nightstand, she wondered if she created him, bought all the things that she had, the guitar, the ratty, stinky clothes, the cigarette butts. When she went back to the club where he played, everything was different. They didn't play that kind of music and she didn't recognize anyone, not that she knew them anyway.
The old hurt was back. She drew it across her like a blanket it, settled in it, waiting for it to disappear again, if it ever would. She felt the hollowness inside, the emptiness and the feeling of being carved out.
She'd cried so much. It felt like she cried all the blood from her body. And then she stopped.
He showed up at her work. At first, she thought she was seeing things. It was... phantomic? That's not a word. Ghostly? Not real enough. Spectral.
He was just standing there, in the middle of her busy office, people walking around him or narrowing their eyes. They wondered if he was a new boss, same as the old boss, or a new employee. He was in a suit. He was clean. And warm. He looked warm. He'd always looked cold when she'd known him.
She recognized him instantly, even shaven and sparkling. He didn't walk like he used to. He advanced, like he had purpose. His legs strode now. She wasn't sure she liked striding. It reminded her of her boss.
It shocked her that there might be something about him that she didn't like.
"Can you leave?" He asked. This was not a whisper. Nor was it a request. It was more of a demand. He'd never demanded. He was too used to them being ignored back then.
"I think so." She was not playing hard to get. She wsn't sure she wanted to go.
In her mind, he'd joined a cult. He had come back to get her as a likely candidate to be the new mother goddess. To give birth to the new race. She was to be worshipped and kept as a breeder. All the men had their turn, and none of them knew who would breed true. But they needed her to strengthen the strain.
"Good. Meet me at.. Luigis." He turned and strode out again. That was like him. Except for that pause. He always knew where he was going.
She puttered around her desk. She felt the love stirring, yawning and stretching. She felt the blanket slide off, and
She felt fear.
But she was going anyway.
So she got up, punched out and left. She told no one, but she watched as they whispered behind their hands and turned to watch her leave. She stumbled, as she always did when she was being watched, her heel turning and her ankle twisting, but she kept moving. She walked through it.
She got to Luigis in moments. It was their place, the only place he'd eat out. A badly lit hole in the wall with mediocre food. He liked the ambiance, where he could crouch and eat and mumble. He ate like a refugee, and in this setting, so did everyone else.
He was there, at a booth.
She slid in across from him. They used to sit on one side, because he knew it annoyed people.
"How are you?" She knew before asking that he'd tell her he'd changed. That he had found God (who was never lost) or that he had one week to live and he had to find her and apologize or that he was actually his own twin and the man she loved was gone, dead.
"I'm okay. I'm better than I was. I'm sorry I left." He let her chew on that. She knew he was waiting for her to ask him why. She wouldnt' give him the satisfaction.
"Why?" She cursed herself, it was her feminine curiousity or her need to be in pain. She wouldn't like the answer and it would never satisfy her anyway.
"Why am I sorry? You were the best thing that ever happened to me. Why am I better? Because you helped put me back together. Why did I leave? The band thought I was losing my edge. They told me you were changing me and that I was becoming a whipped dog, peeing in corners because I was too afraid to make it outside." He said this as if it were something he wrote in his head but never practiced in a mirror. Or vice versa.
"But you still left. That's what matters." She could feel his heat across the table. She used to feel his cold. It made her feel ill. He smelled like aftershave and some expensive cologne that was actually cheap. His fingers were no longer stained from cigarettes. His breath was minty fresh.
"But I'm not who left. I traveled with the band but I was no longer in it the moment I met you. I was a stand in. They replaced me on the road with someone who sang two octaves higher and growled two octaves lower. I worked my way back to you, from California to Michigan. I love you. I never told you when we were together because I didn't want you becoming attached. And I became attached. " He almost said this in one breath. He paused before the second attached. He didn't used to have to pause.
"Right. And I wasn't there to see this change. So to me, you're a diffferent person who became one when I wasn't around. You're the shadow of you, or maybe that was the shadow of you and now you're you, but I didn't watch that." It made sense to her.
"I thought you'd be happy." He almost. Almost. Sounded like he used to. He came close to his whisper, and she felt a part of herself, her inner self, reach out to him. This was what she wanted. Him. Not this Him suit.
"I would have been happy if you'd never left. I would have been happy if you'd changed with me, instead of because of me. I would have been happy if you had become this with me at your side. I would have been happy if I could have held your hand while you quit smoking, or kissed your lips when you quit drinking. I would have made sure you had a suit that fit your shoulders and an aftershave that didn't burn my nose. I would have shaved that spot you always miss on your neck when you went for your job interview or laughed at you when you tried to tie a tie. Now it feels as if a baby was taken from me and raised by another mother." Now her inner self had pulled back and crossed its arms. That last line was very wounding, since that's what happened to him as a child. She was trying to draw blood.
"I'm sorry. I tried. I thought things could go back the way they were, before, but they weren't that great before, either. I met you when I was screwed up and you were screwed right and you unscrewed me. And then I left because i couldn't stand to be unscrewed." Here he was. He was getting there.
"But you left. Don't you see? You left. You walked away. You went with them. You didn't have to. You chose to. You wanted to. You probably enjoyed it, until you woke up and realized that you didn't have me there to enjoy it with you. You can't come back to me after the fact and hope that I can replace that missing time. " Oh yeah. She was on a roll.
"I left you my guitar." And yeah, that did make a difference.
"Oh, that helped heal my wounds. I pawned that for 20.00." She hadn't. That sickness she'd felt earlier. It was gone. It was burned up in the fire that sprang up in her stomach.
"You pawned it? I loved that guitar. My mother gave it to me. This was a bad idea. I'm sorry." And he cried again. His old tears. Not new tears. The same tears that got her before, his face squeezed together and red. Florid. Like he was trying to cry all the blood from his body.
If she reached across the table, all bets were off. They'd end up in bed together, and then married. Or the cult would come out of the woodwork, bundle her up to kidnap her. Only the cook would come out and save her, turning out to be some ex-marine kung-fu specialist who needed to take his anger out on cult members.
She closed her eyes.
If she opened them and he was still there crying, silently, (he said he always cried quietly so that he wouldn't be punished for it), she would touch him. If he had gotten up and walked away, well, that was that. Tit for tat.
The world swirled behind them. She saw fireworks and aomebas. She saw the distinct shape of the candle that was on the table. She saw her hands sitting on the table, in front of her, fingers bent, thumbs touching, like she was sitting at a keyboard even at rest. She saw her empty apartment, he had brought so much there, cds, books, comic books, video games, everything she owned was his, it seemed, since it piled and spilled. She saw his torn posters and his love letters from ex-girlfriends that he refused to throw away. She saw his pictures of his family, before and after.
She saw the lost, lonely boy who she'd fallen in love with and the man that had fallen in love with her. She saw the horrible suit and the ugly tie, in contrast to the torn shirts and ripped jeans.
She saw his eyes, distant and indistinct, then sharpened by his tears, magnifying the depths. That's what they did.
They magnified his depths. Without his tears, he was just another guy. With them, he was hers.
She saw the prison she was in. The door, slammed shut. She saw herself put her arm through the bars.
She pulled, with her other hand, on the bars, pushed, slammed against them. She saw them bow. They bent. They broke, shattering and scattering. She saw herself walk past where they used to be, marveling at their weakness.
She opened her eyes.
Monday, June 06, 2005
How to find the hidden places
But when I got there
It was my Grandfather's fault. He entertained me with incredible stories of fantastic adventures he had when he was my age.
About saving the Candy Kingdom from the Toothbrush King, about stopping the dreaded Ice Queen, Hillianthus, from destroying the happy talking animals led by King Libris, the lion.
About fighting alongside Jeffery and his Purloined kids in Farawayland against the evil Admiral Sword.
About being the sidekick to adventurers finding hidden treasure, stopping scientific geniuses who wanted to rule the world.
He told me so many stories and adventures, what boy could help but go and try to have some of his own?
The first one was the story he told me when I was five, about the Candy Kingdom. You had to look through a translucent lollipop, like it was a magnifying glass, until you found a doorway. Usually in the back of a candy shop, or ice cream parlor. Grandpa said he found a doorway in a cotton candy booth while at the World's Fair. He had been up on the Ferris Wheel when he spotted it, gleaming and looking delicious.
He told me the first thing you smell when you get there is cotton candy from all the trees, then chocolate from the cocoa river. Inside the cocoa river, brightly colored candy fish jumped and caught butterscotch flies. You could taste spicy sugar in the air from gumdrop bushes and even bounce along on the gummi grass.
Not when I went there, though. I smelled smoke, like burnt cookies. The cocoa river looked curdled, white waxy foam clinging to the sides of the sugary shore. It had been dammed up, and all the candy fish he’d described were gone.
What I had imagined as the cotton candy trees were merely stumps and the gumdrop bushes that had sweetened my dreams were picked clean. It seemed without the Toothbrush king to fight, the Candikins were forced to industrialize, selling off bits and pieces of their kingdom to whomever was buying.
Everything that had once been beautiful about the place, the white chocolate snow, the licorice vines, the candy animals, were all gone. I tried talking to one of the Candikins, but they were all too busy rushing around, making appointments and meeting deadlines.
Compared to the hours I spent looking through a half-sucked lollipop, finding Farawayland where Jeffery and the Purloined kids stayed was easy. All I had to do was climb a tree above a cave and jump.
As soon as I hit the darkness, I ended up falling back upwards, into another set of trees, until I magically found myself in a treehouse.
Except well, apparently Jeffery grew up and left. The kids, who had been barely under his control when he was there, discovered rap music and the thug lifestyle. When I went to Farawayland, they were all tattooed, with golden teeth. Even Jeffery’s little fairy, Chime, had a piercing through one of her wings. They beat me up and stole my wallet.
And poor Admiral Sword… He'd apparently been eaten by the shark that followed him, and his second in command, Grime, had taken over. Only, he was much scarier than the Admiral could ever be.
Grime had already killed several of the kids, and was definitely on his way to kill as many more as he could. I got out of there as fast as I could. But not after being taken prisoner by the pirates and being rescued by the arrow shooting kids. Who, by the way, held their crossbows sideways to mimic rappers. They escorted me to another tree above a cave before kicking me out, laughing all the way.
Honestly, there wasn’t much difference between them and the pirates.
And when I went through the back of the closet to the land of the talking animals, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw there.
The other animals, afraid of the lion, had banded together to lock him up. They installed a weasel instead, and he proceeded to turn the world upside down. He built an enormous palace, where he kept the lion in the deepest dungeon. He made senseless rules, and had had set up a system that kept everyone checking these indentification medallions to prove who they were.
Everyone had to wear it, except for the weasel, of course. If they didn't have it, off to the dungeons. I wasn't there for 5 minutes before I got to see the inside of the cells. They were filled almost to bursting with every kind of animal you could think of. The giraffes had it the hardest, since they had to stick their heads out the bars just to fit inside. The weael’s guards, more weasels, would walk by and clunk them on the head or make fun of them.
I managed to escape, just barely. I had to pretend to be dead, and when the wolf guard on my door tried to eat me, I had to stab him with his own sword. But before I left, I let the lion out, then all the other animals. I was glad not to stick around and see what happened next. I could hear roars and screams as I slipped back through the closet.
And so it went. When I found an adventurer to pal around with, it ended up that he was a boozy old man, intent on finding his next batch of money or women or both. The adventures usually involved begging, or trying to sell magical, holy or precious objects to pawn shops.
And the scientific geniuses who wanted to rule the world? Not any more. Either they’d gone straight and were working for some corporation, developing sinus medication or they’d been put in asylums, where the things they developed were hidden from sight and sold for their greedy kids.
All in all, from the time I was 5 to the time I was 12, my adventures were horrible and boring or both. My grandfather may have had great times, but my times were anything but great. So kids, don’t go on adventures just because your grandfather did. It’s not the same!
Epilogue, read if you like
Only after having my own grandchildren did I see what happened. The worlds you visit, they are reflections of your own heart. Even at 5, I’d been through my parent’s 3 separate divorces, from each other and then from other people. Add to that having to go to public schools where I could be shot, even in kindergarten, I was not the happiest of kids.
My grandkids claim to have been to those places, and they’re as beautiful as they were described to me. They also said there are stories of other people who stayed and helped them fix it. Unlike what I did. I guess the problem was me.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
A Christmas story, huh? Hmm, that’s kind of difficult. I have a couple of good ones.
One that I remember vividly is cheating at Christmas. And getting caught.
The day before Christmas Eve and all of the presents are wrapped and under the tree. Now, my dad was well known for being… thrifty. He would use whatever paper was cheapest, usually left from the year before, or found in an off-rack at the store. For a long time I believed that I was subjected to the ultimate insult. See, my dad wouldn’t spend money to buy special paper for my presents. No, I wasn’t good enough.
Or so I thought back then. Whereas my brother was treated to (somewhat) top of the line wrapping paper, I ended up getting mine wrapped in the Sunday comics. Cheap, came with the Sunday paper, comics.
Back then, I thought it a grand injustice. I believed that he loved my brother more than me. Why else would he use newsprint on me, and actually costs money wrapping paper on my brother?
It took me almost 20 years to figure out why.
See, I love comic books. I love comic strips. Just about anything with the word comic in it, I love. Pictures of superheroes, funny cats, and hyperactive kids in humorous, dangerous or bizarre situations were always my favorites. I inherited it from my father.
He wrapped my brother’s presents in whatever wrapping he could find, usually left over from the year before. Then, he wrapped mine in the Sunday comics, because he knew I loved them. He thought I would appreciate the gesture.
How wrong he was. Unfortunately, back then I wasn’t appreciative. I figured that he was cheap, and was showing how much more he loved my brother than he did me. What does all this have to do with cheating?
Well, in an orgy of self-pity, something I’m sure that we’re all guilty of; I broke
the cardinal rule of Christmas. Never look at your presents beforehand. It’s okay to shake them or guess what’s inside, but one should never, attempt to find out. That’s cheating. Well, I cheated.
I had what I thought was a foolproof plan. My father, fan of Sherlock Holmes that he was, would never give the presents more than a cursory glance. He had more important things on his mind, and anyway, he trusted us.
I figured, that if I made the most minuscule of tears in the wrapping, I would be able be peek into the packages and ascertain what was in there. I would tear it on a corner, or on an edge. A couple of times I couldn’t make out what was in it by a corner or an edge, so I got a little bit bold and tore it right on the front of the box, then switched it so that the shred was facing the tree. Well, he wasn’t going to look, right?
Needless to say, it worked. Tearing open the first of my prizes, I espied a familiar box. I had wanted this toy more than life itself. At the time, Hasbro had a toy brand out called the Transformers. They were robots that changed into another form. I was in love with them from the moment I first set eyes upon them. Opening that first box, I knew that my many wishes had been answered. Along with the list I’d given my dad and the many times I’d pointed it out on the television. And how I’d hinted around it all year long.
Inside this box Megatron himself awaited me. Leader of the Decepticons (the bad guys of the Transformers), he transformed into a gun. Can you imagine the magic of a robot that changed into a gun? What a wonderful boy’s toy.
One after another, I tore open box after box.
Ugh, shirt. Ooh, ugly shirt, red with a blue collar! Must be from my aunt and uncle. They have no kids, so anything that is really ugly or really sugarcane sweet is what they buy for me.
Oh no, underwear! Not again! I bet another one of these is socks.
Some books. Good choice, I’ll check those out later.
Then, like a bolt from heaven, another Transformer. Inside this box, Shockwave, Second in command to Megatron. Another robot that transforms into a gun! I'm the two-gun kid now!
Box after box was torn, usually in a corner. I attempted to make sure that my handiwork would never be noticed. I would carefully tear, ripping what little I could. But, I became too brash. I couldn’t figure out what was in one of the boxes, simply by a corner or an edge. I ended up tearing it right in the center.
I paid dearly for this mistake.
In this box, was the ultimate of Transformers. Omega Supreme. Truly a paragon among Transformers, this beast of a toy stood 3 feet tall. It was a city, a whole city, that changed into a robot. The box was so big, I my arms didn’t even fit around it. I was in heaven.
Secure in my knowledge of what awaited me come Christmas Day, that night, I went to sleep a happy boy.
The next morning, I awoke, excited about which one I would open that night. It was Christmas Eve, and we were always allowed one present every day. I knew which one I would open. The biggest, the best, Omega Supreme.
No doubt in my mind, no second thoughts. It would be that one, it had to be
When I walked out into our living room, I was grinning from ear to ear as I looked at the tree. Happier than a boy should be, I looked for that present among the brightly colored jumble.
I looked again.
I got on my hands and knees, hoping to find it, hoping that it had been moved from somewhere among them. I was distraught. I was hysterical. I was horrified.
I looked and I looked, in vain.
I was close to crying, not having any other options.
The rest of the day passed in silence. Both my brother and my father woke up later than I had, both of them walked right past the tree, as if nothing was missing. I wanted to scream at them. I knew one of them had something to do with it. I wouldn’t put it past my brother to hide one of my presents, out of pure spite. I wouldn’t put it past my father to have taken it back to the store. I had no idea what had happened.
That night, at dinner, we sat around chatting after we'd eaten. I’d been angry all day, wondering whether or not my toys had been hidden, destroyed, manhandled, whatever. I was depressed. I knew that it had been there, I’d looked at it! But I didn’t know where.
After dinner, my dad turned to me and said “I saw what you did with your presents, Paul, “
I was shocked, needless to say. My mouth dropped open
He went on, “See, Paul, you cheated Christmas. You tried to find out what you had, before it was actually yours. Until the moment that the clock strikes midnight, nothing under that tree belongs to you. It all belongs to me, or whoever bought you those presents.”
I, of course, thought this to be a horrible idea.
“Instead of waiting to see what you got, instead of letting yourself be surprised, instead of enjoying the anticipation, you decided you would sidestep it all and get in on it beforehand. I’m ashamed of you.” He said, shaking his head.
And before you think, “Normal people don’t talk like that,” my father was an English teacher. He talked like that all the time.
“Now, instead of getting that one toy that you wanted the most out of them, you get nothing. You’ve ruined it for yourself. You’ll never get to play with that toy, you’ll never have a chance to see what it was like, you’ll never hold it in your hands, all because you decided that you’d lie and cheat.”
I was terrified. He was right, of course, but that didn’t make it any easier. If anything, that made it harder, because it meant that I was in the wrong.
When midnight hit, I didn’t even want to open a single thing. Knowing what I had done wrong, knowing that I had lost something that was so close that I’d touched it, really had an affect on me. I walked up to my father, and I apologized.
“Dad, I’m sorry.” I struggled with the right thing to say, I tried to figure out a way to tell him about how I felt. I couldn’t. In the end, I left it at sorry. Then I went to bed, heart heavy and angry at myself for thinking I wouldn't get caught.
The next morning, the same toys I’d left the night before greeted me. I had been moping that my apology to my father would have been sufficient to get it back. But apparently, I was wrong. The other toys were good… Actually, they were great. But not good enough, not compared to the one that I’d almost had.
When my father woke up, he was happy to see us playing with what we’d gotten. He laughed with us, as we staged impromptu battles between the Transformers. My brother was the bad guys, of course.
Then, my father disappeared into the bedroom for a couple of seconds.
When he came back out, Omega Supreme was in his arms. A picture of my face
survives somewhere, a perfect O of surprise on my mouth, my eyes lit by 100-watt bulbs of pure joy.
Apparently, he’d just wanted to make me suffer a little bit more. He actually said “Well, it was too late to take it back to the store anyway.” but I knew the real reason.
Well, that’s my Christmas story. If I learned one thing, that has stayed with me to this day. Over and over again, I’ve practiced it in my life. It has never failed me since, it’s a lesson that everyone should learn. If you’re going to do something stupid, don’t get caught. The next year, I took a knife a cut underneath the tape on the wrapping paper, and then re-stuck it.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
She smiled down at him. He looked up at her and attempted the same, but his dry lips wouldn't let him. He did the best thing he could and reached his withered hand to her face, laying it aside her cheek. She moaned lightly and a tear slipped down her face. She leaned down and kissed his forehead.
This was the last time she would ever see him. They'd spent the day together, just sitting in the sunshine beneath a nearby tree, well, mostly her talking while he gently attempted to nod. They hadn't been together for years, and she had forgotten how sweet it was.
She told him about being a surgeon, how she had met a man named Floyd, and about the kitten she hoped to get. He simply laid there, looking at her, drinking her image in. Though he didn't move much, she knew he was listening. His eyes, yellowed though they were, looked happy.
She told him how much she missed him. How much he'd missed out on, how much his life and memory had meant to her. She told him how difficult it was for her mother, at first, and how his brother, her uncle, still talked about him.
And now it was time to go. They both knew it. It hurt her, so much, to let him leave, but she knew it had to be. If she didn’t, well, she didn’t know what would happen. But she knew it would be bad.
Seeing him lying there broke her heart. But even worse was the idea that he'd never have known how she'd turned out. Now he’d know, he could leave her, content in the knowledge that she was happy and healthy, despite the fact that she missed him so much.
She kissed his lips one last time and said "Good night, dad."
He'd been dead for ten years. But before he passed, he promised her, "20 years darling, my sweet, beautiful daughter. 20 years, and when you're still as perfect then as you are now, come see me and tell me how you're doing. We'll spend the day together. Just remember, 20 years."
At 6 years old, she'd believed him with all her heart, and knew that he’d be here. She'd dedicated herself to making him happy, studying, working, being the best that she could. She decided to become a surgeon, to save people from what had ended his life. As she'd gotten older, she thought he'd been lying, she felt hurt, but to honor his memory, she'd kept on.
And here, 20 years later, she'd come to his grave, expecting to see nothing.
And there he'd sat. Worse for the wear, but, still her father. At first she thought it was a cruel joke, till he raised his head and looked at her.
It was her dad. And he had kept his promise.
She closes her eyes and gets up, trying not to look at him. She’s hoping to force the tears to stay in, but she’s not successful. As she turns to walk away, she imagines she can hear him say "Good night" to her.
But that could just be a fantasy.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Sometimes at night, the cat would think: "Just one swipe of my claws, and it's gone."
Sometimes at night, the dog would think: "That thing is two bites. Two small bites."
Sometimes at night, the mother would think: "Just hold her head under water, and no more crying, no more screaming, no more anything."
Sometimes at night, the father would think: "A match. Just one single match."
Sometimes at night, the baby would think: "Everyone loves me."
Sunday, May 16, 2004
When we bled him, we had no idea what would happen. I mean, sure, we wanted the extra chromosomes that his white blood cells contained, the ones that could cure anything. It cured AIDS, it cured cancer, hell, it even cured death. But there was no way we could have predicted the ah… interesting side effects.
Did you know a coconut can be used for blood plasma? When you drink one, you give yourself an instant transfusion.
Drinking blood is not as bad as you might think. Drinking this blood is the same way, instant transfusion.
When we found him, he was living in a cave, buried under mounds of batshit, eating whatever crawled near him. The amazing properties of his blood are still being discovered.
What we didn’t expect was that he’d be a fucking vampire. And that sucking down a pint of his blood meant that we’d have to keep going, living off the lives of others. It’s no wonder he lives in a fucking cave.
Every person you drink lives in your head. They stay there. Screaming at you. Crying. Making your every waking moment hell. I am simultaneously a 10-year-old Thai boy, a 16-year-old Russian girl, a 48-year-old British man and a 36-year-old Australian woman. Later tonight, who knows what I’ll be. I’ve eaten too many people, and all their lives are growing and screeching in my brain and god help me, a dark cave in the center of nowhere is looking fucking beautiful to me.