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?

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.

——————————————————————–

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.

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”

 

the garden

A young man and his grandmother walked through the gardening section of a supply hardware store and had a conversation about vulnerability.  The grandmother was old but she wasn’t gone yet.  She knew she was close but she was very strong.  She had always been.  It wasn’t strange seeing them walk together.  The grandmother spent many hours in her garden.  She spent her life raising children and her children’s children.  When there were no more kids to raise she found purpose in the soil and flowers in her backyard.  The young man wasn’t necessarily interested in gardening.  He enjoyed taking his grandmother on little outings as he knew they were limited.  They always thought about the concept of death, but these thoughts were always hidden.

“These Lilies are beautiful.” said the grandmother as she picked one up to smell.

“Whenever I see the roses in your garden they inspire me and give me compassion, stick with those grandma.” said the young man.

“Roses are beautiful.” She said “But they can hurt you if you get too close.”

“Kind of like me, right grandma?” joked the young man.

“I certainly miss when you didn’t have such a tough exterior.”

“Well, I am your grandson.”

They continued to walk among the colorful flowers.

“Do you remember your grandfather’s old property up north?” She asked.

“Of course I do.” he replied.

“A long time ago, you must have been five or six.  You were visiting us and all of your cousins were there as well.  You guys were all playing like you usually did.  That winter a tree had fallen across the stream.  In the summertime when the stream dried up the creek bed filled with thornbushes.  You and your cousins took turns walking back and forth over the fallen tree.  You slipped off the log and fell in the thorn bushes.  Do you remember this?” asked the grandmother.

“No” The young man said.  But he did remember.  He had a vivid memory of this exact moment.  But he didn’t want to feel vulnerable.

“After you fell in, I carried you back to the house.  You were crying because there were cuts all over your arms and back.  My heart wrenched as I tended to your wounds, but I told you to be strong and stop crying even though I just wanted to hug you and kiss your tear filled cheeks.”

“Why are you telling me this?” asked the young man.

“Because I love you very much and you will always be that little boy crying in my arms.” She said

“Maybe one day I’ll get to take care of you like you took care of me and I can see you vulnerable.”

“Being strong is both a blessing and a curse my son, it carries a burden that prohibits you from showing vulnerability.”

The young man laughed and said

“Ok grandma”

The young man remembered the day that his grandmother was referring to.  He remembered it going exactly the way she described, but to him it wasn’t about being vulnerable.  To him the memory was a reminder of how much he loved her.  It wasn’t implicitly apparent to him but that experience among others added a layer to his subconscious.   It made him never want to show weakness or vulnerability.  He wanted to be strong, like his grandmother.  They walked to the car with a cart full of flowers and contentment.  

“Grandma have you heard that ‘the earth laughs in flowers?’”

“My garden is not a joke.” She replied with a smirk.

They loaded the car and drove away.  As he pulled out of the parking lot and accelerated down the boulevard he said,

“Could have fooled me grandma, I can’t help but smile when I’m in your garden.”

What he didn’t see was the pick up truck speeding through the yellow light behind him.  The truck tried to swerve and avoid the car which contained the young man and his grandmother but it was too late.  The truck slammed into the rear end of the vehicle which whipped their heads back and then forward into the steering wheel and dashboard.

———

The cardiac machine maintained a subtle tilde.  The young man sat next to his grandmother’s hospital bed.  He sat with his head down, listening to the beep of the cardiac monitor.  Her face was peaceful but she was enveloped in jumbles of wires and cords.  He looked up at her, grabbed her hand and began to speak.

“I lied grandma, I remember you carrying me to the house, I remember you telling me to be strong.  I’ve tried to be that ever since.  There is something else I remember grandma.  It was a few days after grandpa died.  You were sitting by yourself in the garden and you were sobbing.  It was strange to me because during that time you were so rational and composed even though the love of your life had passed.  I realized now that it was because you were being strong for us.  In your time of great pain, your unselfish strength served as a monument for the rest of the family.  I realize that life has patterns grandma.  I recognize that it’s my turn to be strong for you and for the rest of the family.”  He kissed her hand as the monitor continued, beep…beep…beep.

hi

I wrote this a while ago.  It used to be a lot longer.  At first I had written this whole thing about how i am scared of commitment.  About how I am constantly running away from women, and responsibilities.  I figured out I am afraid of stagnation.  But when I was typing it out it just sounded like I was bitching and you don’t need to hear all of that.  So I trimmed all the fat and left a little bit.  More existentialism for you.  I promise I will write a story or some shit soon.

I felt the moon pulling me in, just like the moon pulls the tide.  It awakened my soul just like it awakens inclement weather.  The moons energy pulled me in simultaneously as I drove south towards it, towards Los Angeles.  The light of it reflected off the crinkled up ocean and gleamed up at me in ribbons.  It all created an a imaginary phone call to me, asking me to write something for heavens sake.  So I used the opportunity to exercise my creativity or recollection if you will.  Considering I had all of these words in my head already, I just had to find them.

Why do humans run when there is no danger?  Science must be set aside when talking about love and fear and life.  Philosophical questions deserve philosophical answers.  In Philosophy there are no wrong answers and I seem to always have no answers.  Only questions.  Something that helps and hurts my perception simultaneously is our perpetual insignificance.  We are but a grain of sand on universe beach.  Smaller than that actually.  Yet when I look inside myself I find things that I never knew were there.  My mind seems to have an endless supply of creativity and imagination.  The problem is translating that to words or paper.  The universe and your soul are congruent facilities.  There are answers inside everybody.  I haven’t found any answers yet.

When Love comes into your life

The following excerpt is from an Ernest Hemingway novel For Whom The Bell Tolls.  In this paragraph the main character Robert Jordan has just made love with Maria.  A woman he met in a guerrilla camp which is helping him to blow a bridge.

“If this was how it was then this was how it was.  But there was no law that made him say he liked it.  I did not know that I could ever feel what I have felt, he thought.  Nor that this could happen to me.  I would like to have it for my whole life.  You will, the other part of him said.  You will.  You have it now and that is all your whole life is; now.  There is nothing else than now.  There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow.  How old must you be before you know that?  There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion.  This is how you live a life in two days.  And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life.  A good life is not measured by any biblical span.”

It is apparent to me that Hemingway is talking about love not  just love.  But the first love.  The kind that makes you want to live another day because you never want to lose the feeling.  The kind of love that makes your heart ache as much as it makes it flutter.  Interestingly enough Hemingway is known for his themes of war and death.  Something obviously has to offset the morbidity of his writing and he has found it in soft tones of love.  His characters seem to fall in love fast and hard.  This one in particular, Robert Jordan, comes into a camp of rebels with the hopes of blowing a strategic bridge held by fascists in order for an offensive to be made by the Republic.  The reason the bridge must be blown is that so no backup reinforcements can make there way to the battle.  Robert Jordan comes into the story with a tacticians mindset, cold and expecting some form of death.  As soon as his love Maria comes into the story his subjectivity changes.  He now laments death and wishes to have his love for his whole life.  In his head he fights with himself about having his love for the future and living with his love in the moment.  “There is nothing else than now.”  he thinks.  He knows death could be imminent.  So why squander a beautiful love, a beautiful moment.  Something that can’t be defined by physical description, something that can’t be bought or sold.  Love is something that comes from the deepest part of human consciousness and is just as hard to explain.  I enjoy how he transcends from “I want to have it for my whole life” to realizing that if he only lives for two days, then that is your whole life.  There is no way to predict the end.  So live your life in the moments that are guaranteed.  The only moment that is assured is now.  So if you love, then love.  Don’t think about it in the future.  Cherish it for what it is now.