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.

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.

 

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.

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

street parking

If your car is parked across the street in front of your house, even if you were in a rush you would have to look both ways before you walk to it.  Sometimes at night when it’s cool, the rain doesn’t fall but rather floats to the ground.  It lightly finds its way down and becomes wet pavement.  If you went to walk to your car and there happened to be a car driving by that you had to wait for, you would be able to see small drops of water hanging in the beams of the cars headlights.  The drops would look like they were all dancing with each other.  You would only be able to see them if you had to walk to your car, and it was night, and the rain fell like that, and you didn’t rush across the street to beat the car.  You would only see it if you stopped to look both ways.  If anyone asked you, you could tell them you had to wait for a car to pass and you saw the rain dancing.

quicksand

This was supposed to be a poem that turned into more of a short story.

quicksand

I try to forget about her and the love that we shared.  But every time I see her I fall in love with her again.  I fall deeper each time like trying to escape from quicksand.  She is beautiful and from my perspective she is perfect.

There was one cold night when she lay in my bed.  It was dark except for a small sliver of light that shown through the blinds exposing her face and neck.  Her diaphanous features made my heart jump like a scared cat.  The pale light rested on her soft lips and as I rubbed her neck I stole a kiss and inhaled her breath.  I wanted to steal away with the bounty of her, but her defensiveness thwarted my attempts at rekindling a forgotten love.  The love that I squandered with immaturity.  The glass that I fill up with sorrow now has a glass next to it filled with regret.  Both goblets are brimming and glimmering as our bodies come close and our hearts seem to touch but only in the memory of a forgotten tryst.  It was like she left and I stayed foolishly.  When I finally made the decision to follow her the time had created a wedge in our energies.  I feel disconnected, indifferent.  Lost would be a slight overstatement considering I am still able to find love.  I want her to be mine but I don’t want to possess her like an object.  I just want to always have the idea of her as the pure and innocent young girl that I knew.  I only wish to supplement her beauty with tenderness and so that when she smiles it isn’t just her beauty but the emotion of love emanating from her lips.  Our connection seems to rise and fall like that hands of a clock and I can only hope that our love unfurls as the second hand strikes midnight.

1/5/16

The rain rolled down the roof and tapped on his window as if trying to wake him.  But he lay idle like a car at a red light.  His eyes to the ceiling the lights were dimmed and he relished in the sound of it.  The sound of his inspiration, his obsession.  The rain was still falling when he woke up the next morning so he took it with coffee and a book.  In his little nook he listened to the first rain of the year.

It was a cold Winter morning when the rain ceased just long enough for the sun to peak through dark grey clouds.  Rain water was settled on the green shrubs below his balcony and reflected the rays of the sun up into his leathered face.  In the light of the silence he began to comprehend his obsession with the rain.

His infatuation was in the mystery of the rain.  Since it was something he was unaccustomed to, he treated it like a beautiful stranger of which he wanted to become acquainted.  His mood was acquiescent as he meditated.  He thought about all the things he hadn’t done.  He knew the sun but it was the same sun he grew up with and knew all about it.  He knew the air because it was the same air that he respired as a young boy.  The dirt in which he gardened was the same soil that had always dirtied his hands.  The lack of seasons and constant sunlight in Southern California can make life dull at times.  The rain brought a peculiar contrast with its enigma.  His creative faculty was exacerbated by the rain and fact that he had no tasks for the day.  He felt the urge to bask in it, to use it selfishly.  He felt the rain bring change in his emotion and an association with simpler times.  He also felt the collective subconscious of those around him feeling the same thing.  He felt joy in the motivation rain brought to him.  At the same time the rain felt like heartache.  He still isn’t sure what it means.

 

 

 

 

The Ash Tray

It sat on the table droll and beckoning them like any other empty bowl.  It was white and round with three notches spaced equidistant around it to place a still burning stogie.  There was only one small burn in the middle of it.  The ash tray was emptied out routinely without thought, a reflex, like when the doctor hits your patella with that small rubber hammer.  The way it was filled up was more enigmatic

Large deposits are made on nights when they arrived home late, and still from nightly festivities.  Other times they would sit and inebriate themselves with neat whiskey and no intention of departure from the home or the table at which they sat with the ash tray.  These nights were also similar to reflexes, just reactions from stress at work and being in their twenties.  But on certain nights there was a different kind of ash filling the little bowl.  An experience, a palpable memory of the departed.  There were times when they needed to use it, even if it was only once.

The Cigarette rested between his middle finger and index as smoke idly rose to the ceiling.  A puff, an inhale, a release, and then a flick which broke off the ash and with it sadness and longing.  Heartache followed and eventually anger and despair.  The emotions in the ash tray weren’t always spoken and were far from disingenuous.  A moment of introspection.  The ash in the tray made it heavier with no change in weight, made it deeper with no change in dimension.

It was drunken nights with others or sometimes it was the dark nights alone.  It was always filled with some sort of emotion.  If you looked in the ash tray on one of the days before they emptied the contents, you wouldn’t see them, you would see the ones who had abandoned them.

 

Notes:

The main inspiration that produced this story was actually letting my emotions and feelings get the best of me until I felt the urge to smoke.  The cigarettes were temporary but the ash tray was always there.  So i felt like rather than focusing on the cigarettes themselves I would focus on the place where I deposited them.  The funny thing is I don’t normally smoke but I do use it as a scapegoat sometimes.  Sometimes when I feel longing for a particular someone be it female or family I tend to get down and to get stressed and to think negatively.  I’m not saying that smoking is the most positive outlet for these stresses but sometimes I find myself saying “man I could use a smoke”