Elizabeth

Elizabeth’s black pumps left depressions in the Persian rug when she walked.  She wore a black cocktail dress.  Elizabeth’s hair fell messy down her bare back.  Her young skin spread taut over her shoulder blades.  The soft light accentuated her young skin.  Her male suitor sat with anticipation in a black tuxedo.   Elizabeth thought that he looked handsome tonight.   Elizabeth moved her hips back and forth and raised her arms with a make believe difficulty, like she was under water reaching for the surface.  Her suitor was a recurring client but he still enjoyed the anticipation of the moment.  He wanted to be teased by a woman whom he already owned.  Elizabeth didn’t have a problem dancing; her hourly rate had already been established.

She grabbed onto his knees and pushed his legs apart before she slid her hands up his thighs.  Elizabeth looked into his wrinkled face.  He didn’t catch her gaze as he was pre-occupied with her supple young figure.  Elizabeth noticed every crevice that had engulfed his aging face; the crows feet, the hard horizontal lines across his forehead, the wrinkles that formed around his wry smirk.  Elizabeth turned around to sit on his lap.

“Are you ready?” Elizabeth said

He nodded without a word.  Elizabeth stood up and walked him into the bedroom slightly gripping his fragile hand.  She crawled on the bed as he stood over her.

“Give me a few moments to prepare baby.” He said

He took a seat next to her on the bed.  The sheets of the bed were Egyptian cotton.  Elizabeth didn’t know why it mattered that the sheets were Egyptian cotton or that the painting hanging over them was a Caravaggio.  She didn’t care that the Eames arm chair that faced out onto the skyline of the city was one of a kind.   Elizabeth didn’t gain a particular felicity in the opulent interior or the haute aesthetic of the penthouse.   Her client opened the drawer of the bedside table and grabbed a capsule containing a little blue pill.  One side of the small container was foil; the other side was clear plastic in a diamond shape.  Through the plastic you could see the little pressed pill with a capital V imprinted on the front of it.  Elizabeth’s client groped the small pill wrapper.  He pushed hard at the plastic part, trying to get the blue pill to breach the shiny foil.  Elizabeth sat on the bed watching him, her heels still on, puncturing the high thread count sheets.  She reached into her purse and pulled out a pack of cigarettes.  Three remained; she lit one and inhaled deep before releasing a satiable cloud of smoke.  Her client’s liver spotted hands were still trying to open the plastic container.  He changed his technique and now he was trying to peel the wrapping by sticking his long yellow fingernails into the space between the foil and the plastic.

“Do you want me to help you?” Elizabeth asked.

“No I can do this myself” He replied

Yet again his hands turned over the plastic container pleading with it to come loose.  The skin of his hands was loose like a turkey’s gobble yet you could see the bones of his hands protruding sharply as they worked over the small container.  Now he pushed with both thumbs on the plastic to get the pill to puncture the foil but to no avail.  Sweat began to collect on his brow.  The anticipation of romance began to be replaced by embarrassment.  Elizabeth put out her cigarette and reached into her clutch yet again, this time producing a small glass vial with a black lid.  It contained a white powder.  Elizabeth took the key to her apartment and used it to scoop a small amount which she lifted to her nose and sniffed with fervor. She repeated the motion to her other nostril.

“It’s ok baby just let me open it for you.” Said Elizabeth

No reply from the old man as he fumbled the plastic container and it fell to the floor.  Elizabeth watched him slowly bend over and reach his lanky arm down to pick up the pill.  The plastic of the wrapper was now mutilated with white spots but there was still no access to the medicine inside.  Elizabeth’s client breathed heavily, his thin white hair went about in all directions like he had stuck his head out the window of a speeding car.  She touched his back and his spine felt bony and abnormally curved like the wood of a bow.  He didn’t notice her touch; he just went on trying to separate the foil from the plastic.  Elizabeth reached for another cigarette, now she only had one left.


 

The problem with my stories is that they are short parts of longer stories I haven’t written yet.  I’ve never written from the point of view of a woman before.  Which is troublesome when trying to portray emotional depth in a character.  I think the deeper issue is I don’t understand women.

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I followed a man leaving the movie theater the other day.

He was blind, at least that is what I gathered from the previous few times I had seen him.  For many nights during work he passed by and I caught every glimpse I possibly could.  He wore dark thick glasses and always swung a long white stick in front of him when he walked.  When the store was slow I would stare out and watch the people walking by on the sidewalk.  Occasionally the blind man would be one of them.  The first time I saw him; I was following him unconsciously.  As I was walking to work on the red bricks of the plaza I lifted my head and saw him in front of me.  The swaying of the white stick caught my gaze. It briskly grazed the ground ahead of him searching for an obstacle.  He always wore the same outfit; a green blazer made of tweed, black dress slacks and black non-slip shoes that made a ‘click clack’ noise as he passed.  He wore a black fedora pulled down to his thick black glasses that shaded out any discernible features.

 

A blind man with repose isn’t something that comes across you so often.  The acute accentuation of the other senses due to blindness could either drive one mad or make one more in tune with other frequencies.  What it could be like to see things with your ears.  To feel the vibrations of the fountain as it sprays in the air and falls back into the pool from which it came.  The miasma of a crowded room like thick fog you could feel brushing past you.  The remaining senses becoming so visceral.  For some, imposing like the doorman at the gates of heaven.

 

I decided to catch a movie after work.  I enjoyed watching movies by myself.  Conveniently the theater is located right next to my workplace.  I sat in the frigid theater and noticed a white stick coming out of the entrance ramp.  The blind man followed in the green tweed jacket.  He swung his white stuck down the handicap aisle and took a seat almost directly in front of mine.  He folded up the white stick and inserted it into his left jacket pocket.  

 

I couldn’t concentrate on the film.  I could only stare at the screen and the shadow of a fedora and wide shoulders against it.  He was so still, he couldn’t have been breathing.  I don’t remember the film.  I remember moving pictures supplemented with sounds.  I closed my eyes for a few moments and listened.   I thought about how we heard the same things but must have been listening to them differently.  The cold air of the theater sent chills down my spine and created goosebumps on the nape of my neck.

 

I sat through the credits, waiting for him to rise up from his seat.  When he did, I let him unfold his white walking stick and begin to swing it.  When he turned the corner of the partition out of my line of sight, I rose with haste and hurried to catch up to him.  I caught sight of him again just as he was leaving the darkness of the theater.  

 

I followed him.  The thick carpet that lined the theater muffled the sound of his black shoes.  We walked together silently, until we reached the elevator to take us down to the first floor.  He must have been a regular at this cinema, how did he know where the elevator was?  He swung his stick against the aluminum threshold of the elevator which made a small twang consistent with plastic meeting metal.  He reached with his right hand down towards the panel to hit the small silver button.  He had to search with his hands for a few moments to find the right spot.  I stood behind watching him, the button surrounded by a red ring of light.  We waited for the elevator together.  The aluminum doors separated and he entered first holding his white stick in both hands.  By now he must have known I was with him.  The elevator doors closed and we stood there together, hung in the moment.  I heard my heart beating in the steel cage.  He certainly heard the same thing.  Still, I watched him.  I felt sorry for him but in a way I knew he was content; like the burden of being blind was his alone to carry, like it was something he had to do.  His hands gripped the white stick as if it were to disappear randomly.  The skin of his hands was taut around his bones.  His knuckles reflected the fluorescent lighting of the elevator and they looked like they had white spots.  He smelled like my chess teacher in 6th grade.  Like oak and cherry.  It was an older man’s smell.  I knew my chess teacher must be dead by now.  
When the doors clanked open, he stepped forward one black shoe at a time.  Perpetually swinging the white stick he walked towards the double doors of the exit, towards the darkness.  I walked a few steps behind him as he thrust himself out into the darkness and turned left down the boulevard.  I crept out after him and watched him walk away swinging the white stick.  I pictured him with a thick, rich voice like a river of melted gold.  He had the air of a man who was born with vision but adopted darkness like an unwanted son.


 

I wrote the first draft of this story before I read The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.  I thought it was interesting how the plot lines were so similar.  Stalking or following someone without their knowledge, especially someone who is disabled, is one of the more sinister things you can do.  The way Poe writes, with such lucidity yet focus, is something that I tried to emulate in the final draft of this peace.  Obviously his talent far surpasses mine.  I found myself referencing him unconsciously when writing the rest of the story.

Self perception

All the physical things and the way I act in front of other people is almost entirely for them.  I do seek affirmation and self-gratification in things but it isn’t my top priority.  I could never see myself how others see me and although I agree with a lot of the words that people use to describe me; I would almost feel narcissistic using them myself.  Even as I type this I feel like I’m lying but I truly wish I could remain oblivious in perceiving myself sometimes.  Vanity is something that I would like to be devoid of.  Unfortunately it seems like an impossible undertaking.  I think individuality is found in moments of purity when you don’t care about others perceptions or even your own perceptions.  In moments when you are remaining true to your core values.  In thinking about how I perceive myself I have two main views.  One of which is that I am not doing enough.  What I mean by that is that I look at what I am doing in terms of work, school, and personal health and I always think about how I could be doing better.  The times of negativity for me are when I know I should be doing something but instead I am off drinking or partying.  These are times when I judge myself the most.    The second way I perceive myself is actually through my own self awareness of these interconnecting perceptions of me.  How I view myself vs. how my family views me vs. how my friends view me.  It all seems to be this eternal, malleable, interconnecting relationship that is always changing.  Depending on who you meet and that kind of person you want to be.  I think I can honestly say that I don’t know who I am yet.  I have an idea of the person I want to be.  I am mostly aware of these ideas that I perpetuate about myself.  I guess I want people to see in me what I see deep down in myself.  It seems to be a never ending cycle of self gratification.  Circles can be brutal.  I just hope one day I can find myself.


 

This may be reaching but I liked the last part about the circle and as I was reviewing the post I noticed it was 365 words.

Snake Pit

 

Lying on that couch with my leg elevated in a cast, my mind had felt like a dull knife.

Friday afternoon and my ankle had just started working again.  Business professionals were just beginning to vacate their desks; people who define themselves on the hours between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.  I sauntered to the closest bar I could find.

My beer began to sweat as soon as it hit the table, I drank it quickly.  The man at the table next to me was drinking a whiskey on the rocks.  He was playing with his daughter; she was drinking an orange juice.  Two big open windows let fading sunlight into the dive bar.  The smell of beer and spicy mustard was circulated by the cool summer air.  3rd grade level paintings of snakes looked like they were tossed up on the wall.  Two bartenders alternated between disdain and cordiality under a sign that read “Snake Pit”.  I slithered through another beer.  Derek walked in and asked “Where is your whiskey?”  Before I had a chance to decline he walked over to the table with two glasses of Jameson and his own perspiring beer.

The darkness that overtook the elongating shadows of the snake pit crept inside my head.  I said goodbye to Derek.  I stomped back home.  I sat on my couch.  Through the clustered black holes of my front gate I could hear the rats that infested the bamboo shoots in my neighbors yard.  I listened to them as they climbed and made the leaves rub against each other.  My mind tumbled in a wave of breaking anticipation.  I undulated between contentment and grief.


 

For some context this story is about an injury that I sustained recently.  It forced me to go on leave from work for a few weeks.  It left me with a decision when to go back.  I also had a prompt for my writing class that was to write a story about a character going somewhere and coming back.

the red brick wall

THIS IS FICTION


 

He maintained a small apartment among the clutter of downtown San Francisco.  The apartment was meager compared to the extravagance of his Friday nights.  There was one room and a bathroom.  There was no kitchen.  A sink and mirror sat in the corner in front of his bed and above that stood a small television set which was never on.  There was one window that contained nothing for him except light and fresh air.  The red brick wall of the next building was all you could see out of it.  The buildings downtown are built so close together, one would have to give his life for a room with a view.

The morning light and the fog rolled into his room together like they were playing in bed sheets.  He sat on the edge of his bed smoking a cigarette and stared at the endless brick wall.  He was complacent with his life.  He lacked purpose.  He didn’t have something that he was willing to die for.  He didn’t feel that he was a scale upon which a man could be measured

‘Brrrrrrrring’

His phone rang and he picked up quickly.

“Hello”

After a few moments of heavy silence the receiver clicked.  He grabbed his jacket and went out.  The  cigarette sat in the ash tray with fire still burning at the end of it.

His car sat inert in traffic as red brake lights shone bright on his face.  The Bay Bridge looked like a toy the fog plays with.

“How could she be pregnant?”

He thought to himself, the red brake lights still flashing in front of him.  Aside from the ambiguity of their relationship he was considering cutting off the drunk late night hook ups they shared.  That was all their relationship was predicated on.  Now he thought he would have to marry her without question.  He thought about how his life was going to change.  He thought about how he would have to get a second job and a bigger apartment.  He knew he wasn’t ready.  He knew he couldn’t even take care of himself let alone a wife and child, but he had a calm feeling.  A sense of fulfillment and reassurance.  He knew he would figure it out, he always did.  He thought about abortion for a quick second but then whispered,

“Fuck that”

under his breath.

He pulled up to a suburban neighborhood in Oakland and put the car in park.  He picked up his cell phone to dial out.

“I’m outside” He said.

“I’m sorry, I’m not there anymore” She said calmly.

“What the fuck do you mean you’re not here?” He replied with worried annoyance.

“Christina picked me up, were going to the walk in clinic,  I’m getting it taken care of” she said in a declarative and matter of fact tone.

“So we’re not even going to talk about this?”

“I’m sorry” She said “I didn’t have time to consider your feelings.”

He hung up as his heart fell deep inside him, somewhere not easily found.

The bridge was still gripped by the fog.  He drove back aimlessly but this time a hollow shell of his former self.  He was completely detached.  He felt as if he was watching himself drive from the back seat.  He was at a loss.  He knew he didn’t have a say in the affair.  Ultimately, the decision was always hers.

He sat on the same bed staring at the same red brick wall.  He was chain smoking like he just came home from a funeral.  He thought about his father.  His father was a man.  His father raised him to be a man but he wasn’t.  He was a pathetic hollow little organism with no direction except down.  He decided to write a letter to his little one.

‘Dear my child,

When I was young I would sit by the window and wait for my father to get home from work.  When he would arrive he would always sneak around the back of the house so I would have to go looking for him.

Life is tough my love but you would have made it worth living.  I would have shown you the value of life.  It would have been difficult but at least we would be together.  I’m sorry, your mother is playing by societies rules.  Don’t blame her, it’s my fault I didn’t stop her.

I’m trying to be indifferent but guilt is gripping me the same way you would have gripped my thumb after you were born.  Who am I to say you can’t live your life?  It’s yours not mine.  It’s your heart that doesn’t get to feel love.  It’s your hands that don’t get to touch.  It’s your eyes that don’t get to see.  Now it’s your soul that sits heavy on my conscious….’

He grabbed the letter, crumpled it up and threw it violently but it just hit the wall and landed softly beside him.  His apartment was very small.  He put his face in the palm of his hands and tears streamed down his arms like little waterfalls.  He didn’t understand why he cared so much.  He was free, he could go on living his life.  Then the sun broke through the fog and shone bright on the red brick wall that sat outside his window.


 

I got the inspiration for this story during a recent trip to San Francisco to visit my brother and the book I read there which was The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre.

 

Don’t ask me why I always write about love.

Please, if you know me, don’t read this

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A romantic is someone who has an idealized perspective of love.  Someone that thinks love to be this tangible thing that appears when two people connect with each other.  Two people who compliment each other perfectly.  Everyone, or most of us, seem to be looking for that one person.  That person who makes up for what we lack.  The person who carries all the ideals and values that we want a mate to have.  Some of us are vain and look for an attractive mate.  Some of us look for intelligence.  Some of us are looking for anyone to fill that void in your chest.  Say that you find someone.  Someone that has the qualities that you’re looking for.  They’re almost perfect.  You two fall in love and the flowers bloom as you walk past them.  The sun shines on your face whenever you walk outside.  You’re floating on a cloud.  Then out of nowhere someone better comes along.  Someone who has all the qualities you like and then some.  Then you discover someone who has qualities that you didn’t even know you liked until they came along.  Imagine this happening to you over and over again.  You would be treating love like a pack of gum.  You would be handing out a piece to anyone that came along and smiled at you the right way.  What happens when you run out of gum?  You buy a new pack and chew on your sorrows.

If you believe in evolution or even if you kind of think it’s possible.  You must agree that humans have evolved to the point where we no longer need to look for a mate based on the primal need to propagate the species.  We can be pragmatic, almost selfish in choosing a partner now a days.  Complimentary to that fact is that we now have access to hundreds of thousands of people.  Compared to the old days when you only had 4-5 options.  Let’s see there’s the girl that you work with.  The cute girl that works at the grocery store.  Your cute neighbor who always seems to be looking at you and that’s it(I only said girl but it was the same for men and women alike).  Back then it was easier to find love and make it stay because there was slim pickings as far as partners.  I’m not going to go into why it is a different ball game today, because you know why.

So what am I getting at?

Besides this cliche conversation that I always have with girls on the first date.  What is there to be learned about the modern romance?   One easy takeaway is, as we evolve as humans so has our relationship with love evolved.  Don’t think of love and romance as something that has to occur between two people.  Love is something that should flow from the deepest part of you out into the world.  Even in solitude one should be able to feel love and passion in themselves.  Love shouldn’t be something that is given arbitrarily to someone else.  Love is an antiquated term that used to be something that two people attained when they were together.  I’m talking about new love.  New love is found in the mystery of a person you just met.  New love is in their flaws.  New love burns at the end of the cigarette they gave you.  New love is that feeling in your stomach when they don’t text back.  New love is the sound of the wind that blows over you as you walk alone in the night.  New love is in the ink that flows onto this paper.  New love is that poem in the book they let you borrow.  New love is in the oyster that you eat that reminds you of a different time.  New love is in the oil that fills the tiny crevices in your hand as you massage her back.  New love is at the bottom of the whiskey bottle.  New love is the moon staring back at you.  Love should no longer be perceived as this grandiose idea.  New love is in the little things that you don’t even think about.  Things that you can’t lose because they will always be yours.  They are in anything that you do with passion.  The little things that make life beautiful, either in solitude or with someone.  Ask yourself, are you in love?

Men With Similar Interests

Men With Similar Interests

 

Northern Spain 1950’s

 

Francisco Alvarez sat on his boat on a warm August morning.  His schooner was docked as he awaited a group of Americans that had chartered his boat for a day of sport fishing.  He prepared bait and lines as his dog Bruno watched him pensively.  Bruno was an African Ridgeback he had purchased many years ago from a young French Yachtsman.  He never kept a deck hand or co-captain.  It lowered his expenses.  He made a living as a fisherman in the Bay of Biscay.  As the sun rose above the Cantabrian sea the city of San Sebastian became a hive of activity.  The bulls were running just twenty miles south in Pamplona.  This time of year brought in an influx of English and American tourists seeking to empty their pockets for a thrill.  It was a very lucrative time of year for Francisco and the small port town of San Sebastian.  The life of a fisherman is a simple one.

“We need you to take us out, we will pay you,” said a tall skinny man who was now standing over him.  

He hadn’t noticed the three men walk up along the dock to his boat.  The tall skinny one who spoke to him wore a very nice suit.  He had long blonde hair which he had slicked back.  His long nose and strong jawline made him look villainous.  From the way the men were positioned he seemed more managerial than the other two.  The other two men also wore suits but of lesser quality.  One of them was short and stubby like a thumb.  The other one looked like an average man except for he sported a thick black beard and was missing three fingers on his left hand.  

“Con permiso senor,” said the skinny man, “but we are eager to depart.”

Francisco noticed submachine guns slung around the shoulders of the other two men.  They were all carrying black briefcases.  They looked like Mafia henchmen in the midst of a turf war.

“I apologize but my boat’s been chartered for the day, the party has already put down a deposit,” said Captain Alvarez

“I’m afraid this isn’t negotiable,” said the tall skinny man

“How so?” said Francisco “I may charter who I please.”

The tall man lifted his jacket revealing a silver pistol.  He reached for it and pumped one round into the head of the dog.  Bruno lay on the floor of the boat in a pool of his own blood, still wearing his pensive face.  Francisco acquiesced to the situation rather than reacting.  He put his face in the palm of his hands as the three men boarded his boat.

“Take us north to Biarritz and don’t get too close to the coast,” said the tall skinny man.

Francisco Alvarez pulled his 28’ boat out of the slip in the dock and headed north along the Spanish and French coast.  They must be French he thought.  What kind of shady dealings were they doing in San Sebastian?  What’s in the briefcases? Money? Drugs?  The speculation and the sight of his dead dog made him queazy.  He could hear the sound of blood and water sloshing around on the floor of the boat.  The three assumed French men stood towards the bow of the boat discussing their plot.  He stood at the helm offsetting the current of the ocean with a subtle tilt of the helm.  Francisco listened to them converse with each other.  He could barely hear them over the sound of the ocean, they spoke French to each other.

“Why haven’t we killed him yet? The stubby one asked the tall one.

“Do you know how to pilot a sailboat?” Replied the tall skinny man.

They all looked at each other.

“How much did we get?” Asked the bearded man.

“Let’s not worry about that until we get to Biarritz.  I saw a row boat hanging off of the side.  Once we get anchored close enough to the coast, we will waste him and row to shore,” said the tall skinny man.

They continued talking but Francisco discontinued his eavesdropping.  He felt his heart and stomach drop to the floor.  He knew immediately what he had to do.  He thought about his family.  His dog still lay dead on the floor of the boat.

“I have some food below deck if you gentlemen are hungry,”  said the captain.

“We’re not hungry,” Replied the tall skinny man “but what about to drink?”

“Only Grappa,” said the captain “there are two bottles below deck in the cabin, you may help yourselves.”

The stubby one went down and came back from the cabin with the two bottles in his hand.  He uncorked one and took a long drink.

“Give it here you hog!” Shouted the tall man.

He snatched it and took a large gulp then handed the bottle to the captain.  Francisco poured the warm Grappa into his mouth like a man preparing to complete an unwanted task.  He was going to do something he didn’t want to do, but he had to.

“Do you make a good living as a fisherman?” Asked the tall skinny man.

“I make an honest living and I enjoy the tranquility of the ocean,” replied the captain. “I would never work just for the money.”

“Then why work at all?  What other motivation is there besides money?” Asked the tall skinny man.

“I do what I have to do to provide for myself and my family,” replied Francisco.

“We are men with similar interests then,” said the tall skinny man.

“I don’t agree,” replied the captain “I don’t fraternize with criminal enterprises and I don’t steal from the working man.

“It’s like you said captain, I do what I have to do,” replied the tall skinny man.

The sea rolled as the distance between the men and their destination shortened.

“Hey you!” yelled the captain looking at the stubby man. “Come man the helm for a second while I check on the engines.”

The stubby one walked to the wheel with the machine gun still slung over his shoulder.

“What do I do?” He asked the captain,

“Just keep her on a straight line, don’t let the wheel deviate, I’ll just be a minute,” Replied Francisco.

He glanced toward the bow of the boat where the other two men were standing facing the ocean.  They were passing the bottle of Grappa back and forth to each other.  Francisco turned around and descended into the engine room which was located at the stern of the vessel.  He felt a slab of concrete slide from his throat down into his stomach.  He reached down and opened his toolbox that contained his pistol.  The toolbox had carried the pistol for many years on the open seas and never came close to being used.  Francisco always wondered why he kept the pistol on the boat.  He realized that this was the moment it was meant for.  He was filled with nerve and he prayed the gun wouldn’t jam.  Francisco Alvarez ascended from the engine room and he got that cold feeling you get right before you kill a man.  The stubby one was still at the helm as Francisco approached him from the rear.  He raised the pistol to the back of stubby man’s head and pulled the trigger.  The muzzle was so close to his skull that it bounced off of the pistol as he fired.  He aimed down his sight at the bearded man and let off two shots in quick succession.  As he swung the pistol towards the tall man and pulled the trigger, he heard a shot from the pistol that killed his dog.  Pop! Pop! Pop!  Francisco emptied his clip at the tall man and simultaneously felt a sharp pain in his shoulder like someone was plunging a fire iron into it.   The impact of the bullet made him fall down behind the steering wheel of the boat.  He pulled himself up and leaned against the helm and waited a few moments to investigate the fate of the tall skinny man.  When he finally peaked over the steering wheel he saw two men lying next to each other in a pool of blood.  He walked over to the bodies and discovered the tall skinny man, still alive, and writhing on the floor of the yacht.  The tall skinny man was hit in the neck and had his hands clenched around his throat in an attempt to stop the bleeding.  Blood gushed from his neck and as he gasped for air you could hear it filling up his lungs.  Francisco felt the cold murderous feeling subside as he watched blood spray from the tall man’s mouth and his eyes roll to the back of his head.

Francisco felt no pain, only the cold wet blood running down his chest.  He put pressure on his wound but to no avail.  He didn’t feel an exit wound, the bullet was lodged in his shoulder blade.  He went down to the cabin of the boat and grabbed a small emergency hand flare that he never had the use for either.  Francisco unbuttoned his shirt and put it in his mouth and bit down hard.  He activated the flare which glowed hot and red even in the daytime sun and pressed it hard against the bullet wound in his shoulder.  All Francisco could smell was burned skin and blood and death and the ocean.  The adrenaline went away as he turned his boat back towards San Sebastian.  

The floor of the boat looked like the Nile river after the first plague of the Egyptians.  Francisco stared out at the ocean but wondered about the contents of the briefcases.  One of the briefcases sat down next to the body of the stubby man.  Francisco picked up the briefcase and opened it up revealing stacks upon stacks of crisp US dollars.  They were federal reserve $100 notes.  He immediately shut the briefcase and brought it down to the cabin with the other two.  Francisco then dragged the corpse of the stubby man over to the other two frenchmen.  His shoulder stiff with pain and his arm hung with limited movement.  He detached the rope with the anchor from the bow of the boat.  He ran the rope through the belt of the stubby man then through the belt of the bearded man then through the belt of the tall skinny man where he tied it off.  He threw the anchor overboard which assisted him in lugging the corpses of the Frenchmen into the ocean.  When he got the last body over he tossed the machine guns into the cold bloody water.  He kept the pistol which killed his dog.  Francisco wrapped the body of Bruno with a blanket and put him below deck next to the black briefcases that were filled with cash.  He would have traded all the money on the boat for the life of his dog.  Francisco thought about how money changes people.

As Francisco and his boat re-entered the port town of San Sebastian there was a boat similar to his passing close by.  From the deck of the passing yacht a dog barked at Francisco.  Francisco locked eyes with the captain of that vessel and they nodded at each other as they passed.  The acknowledgment of men with similar interests.  

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I drew inspiration for this story from an Ernest Hemingway book To Have and Have Not.  When I pictured the dialogue I wanted the characters to be speaking French and Spanish but for the sake of my demographic they are speaking English.   This is the first story I’ve written in which I’ve done actual research.  I don’t know anything about yachts or fisherman in Spain in the 1950’s.  When I was researching about the currency Spain used in the 50’s I found out they used pesetas which were coins of copper, nickel and silver.  I felt the aesthetic of Francisco looking into the briefcases and seeing stacks of cash was better.  I tried to tie in The Running of The Bulls in Pamplona and how the foreign currency most likely came from the Frenchmen robbing a bank there.  I tried to use a lot of implied morals and I left it up to the reader to decide what Francisco does with the money.

When you walk to the library.

I decided to walk to the library yesterday instead of driving.  It was cold outside or at least I thought it was .  I decided to wear a pair of old Adidas soccer gloves that I had purchased in a different part of my life.  I enjoy walking but the convenience of driving has trumped my urges to walk.  My main motivation was driven by an introduction I was reading to the book Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes.  I didn’t get to the actual book because the introduction was a fucking novel in itself.  It said during the three year period in which Hobbes was writing Leviathan he had a very strict routine.  He would wake up every morning at 7:00 am, he would eat his bread and butter.  Then he would walk through the streets of Paris for three hours and write down his notes in the afternoon.  I can’t speak to the inspirational qualities of 17th century Paris compared to present day West Hollywood.  I’m sure he had more to work with.  Even though my walk was motivated by meditation it was manifested by the need to get somewhere.  I tried to concentrate and be mindful during my walk but I just found myself rushing through the cold.  I walked down Gardner towards Melrose as the sun fell beyond the horizon creating a pale blue in the sky.  I stopped at a juice bar on the corner of Melrose and Gardner to get a shot of ginger and lemon juice.  When I continued my walk down Gardner the hue of the blue sky had changed into a midnight-ish feel.  I petted a curious dog on the corner of Beverly and Gardner and smiled at his owner.  He was nice, I don’t know about the owner.  I got to the library as the sky turned from blue to black.  The library was just as cold on the inside as it was outside.  It could be the reason why there was no one in there, or it could be because no one goes to the fucking library anymore.  After skimming through the atrocious selection of literature I decided to check out a Fitzgerald book that I had previously read.  I left and walked west on Beverly towards Fairfax because I knew there was a mailbox on the corner there and I had to drop off some letters.  Right now you’re probably thinking  “Library? Letters?  Who the fuck is this old lame ass thinking that hes cool because he writes letter and goes to the library?  I think he’s an asshole.”  Honestly you’d be right.  Anyways I saw my friend Franco on the corner of Beverly and Fairfax.  He was riding a fixie and he told me that he was heading home from reading at Barnes and Noble (another asshole).  I dropped off the letter and walked north up Fairfax.  I had a slice of pie that burned the roof of my mouth even though it was slathered in ranch.  Afterwards I went to The Dime for a Jameson with Ice.  The bartender gave me a heavy pour probably because I was the only poor bastard drinking by myself.  I found my reflection in the mirror behind the bar and said “cheers shithead” as I took a gulp.  The cold Jameson felt good on the roof of my mouth.  I watched the first quarter of the Laker game but left because I figured I wasn’t missing anything.  North up Fairfax then East on Willoughby and I was walking back into my apartment with a buzzed smile.  I didn’t get any meditating done and I didn’t have my gloves on anymore.

Of course…

I wrote this after taking four shots of Robitussin and reading the entirety of Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.  I forgot about it until I was looking through my notebook recently and found it.  It seems like my emotions were out of balance at the time and when I read this I think about Bobby Boucher’s mother yelling “That girl is the devil!”   I am hoping this is a more eloquent version of that anecdote with the same affect.  Just keep in mind the Robitussin.

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Of Course…

They sat in a small french cafe with its white table cloths and light wooden chairs.  The place was filled with natural light that made her eyes look like the morning.  They had coffee and croissants together and they joked about how the place would be their own little parisian get away from the cesspool of Hollywood.  The way he stared at her was the way a father stares at his daughter as she performs on stage.

His phone rang incessantly but he did not notice the vibrating in his pocket.  A commercial airliner roared over head and his attentiveness to her remained unwavering.  A train rumbled past them so close that you could hear the patrons of the dining car conversing about how the chicken was over cooked.  His gaze was still unabated.  A car crashed through the front window of the cafe and hung there to the right of them with the engine still running and ambulances rushing to the scene.  Still he looked upon her unmolested by outside forces.  Then the earth shook violently and rattled the entire world.  The ground fell off and splintered away around them into a dark hell-fire.

She said to him

“My what a marvelous hole! Would you jump in it for me?”

He replied

“Of course darling”

He got up and wiped the bread crumbs from his jeans.  Then he turned and jumped into the abyss, with a smile.

Bad Bitches

I wrote this October of 2014 and when I read it just now I thought it was so fucking funny that I felt the need to post it again.  Please Read

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Bad Bitches Only

The chef in this place has a hat turned backwards which reads “bad bitches only” even though I agree with his hat it seems inappropriate for the current circumstance which is a hipster coffee shop. You know the ones I’m talking about. Overpriced lattes and slices of pie. Wooden chairs and a quaint demeanor probably playing Lana Del Rey “Summertime Sadness”. Filled to the brim with girls on there phones and guys sitting with laptops and headphones tucked under their beanies trying to figure out something cool to do on their computer. Please find humor in the fact that I just described myself perfectly but back to the hat. I would say only about 17% of the people in this place know exactly what a bad bitch is. The fact that anyone is present here in this coffee automatically disqualifies them from bad bitch standing. Which is entirely contradictory to his hat. I mean i’m pretty sure this fucking place is called pie. I haven’t seen one person buy a slice of pie. I think it would be better if this place was called wifi because thats the only reason anyone comes here. In regards to the “bad bitches only” hat, I think it would be funnier if it said “basic bitches only” because no one ever says that. I also feel like it would be more appropriate in this current situation. I am willing to associate my name with basic bitches for the sake of bringing you this story. I think you should appreciate the sacrifice. Next time you are in one if these coffee shops (if you ever are) look around and count how many bad bitches there are. I bet you the ratio of bad to basic bitches would astound you. I mean the guy woke up this morning heading to his job at Pie to make pies and made a decision to put on a hat that said “bad bitches only”. He has got to be overcompensating for something. Maybe he himself lacks the multitude of bad bitches that his hat seems to claim. Maybe he had a bad bitch but she moved on to greener pastures and now he is wearing the hat because he still hasn’t moved on. Maybe he is worried about his own basicness so he wears the hat to make people think he only associates with bad bitches. I feel you brother but you must accept your basicness if it is inside you. If you like to watch Dexter all night and drive a Vespa to work that’s who you are and you should be proud. I accept you. Take off the hat. At least now whenever I eat a piece of pie I will think about the man in the bad bitch hat and I will remember to always accept myself for who I am and not let anyone tell me who I am. I am a bad bitch