Friday Fast Fiction

Wallace

Wallace drinks. He doesn’t drink all the time, just whenever he’s awake. Some people would consider him an alcoholic, but Wallace doesn’t feel he is. He drinks one thing, scotch, and drinks it because he enjoys it. He has never slipped past that invisible border between desire and need because he’s never hated himself or his scotch. He’s always been in love with his scotch, and in love with the way it makes him feel. No guilt, no remorse over lost loves or lives or possibilities. There has never been a sacrifice for Wallace. It has always been scotch.

Once, three years ago, he briefly considered giving it up. For a woman, of course. Her name was Elizabeth and she thought Wallace spent too much money and too much affection on his drinking. Elizabeth didn’t want to share the man she’d made room in her heart and life for with a bottle of booze. If she could work Wallace into her world, he should be able to work scotch out of his, she reasoned. It was only fair.

And Wallace considered it. He was already forty two at the time and wasn’t getting any younger. Liz, on the other hand, was in her early thirties and more beautiful than any other woman who had ever given him the time of day in the past. More beautiful, even, than his first wife, who he had long considered the most beautiful woman he had ever known. He knew he had lucked out with her. She liked him, maybe even loved him. Would he ever have a chance like that again?

Yet, while a future with Liz was a future full of promise, he quickly decided that she would never be capable of being as consistently charming or pleasing as his scotch. While human beings are subjective and emotional, scotch only gets stronger and more confident with age. You can depend on it to deliver, no matter what time you unscrew the cap and pour yourself a glass. Scotch wouldn’t wake up cranky or ask him to take out the trash or wonder why he left the toilet seat up. Scotch would never be on the rag or want to have dinner with her parents.

So, Wallace told Elizabeth that he had no intention of giving up his scotch, and if she wanted to spend time with him, she’d be spending time with his drinking as well. He even suggested she learn to appreciate scotch as well, so that they could share a mutual interest and further deepen their chances of making it through the long haul. Elizabeth was hurt, and then furious, and finally regretful. She never spoke to Wallace again. Last he heard, she had moved to Wyoming.

Wallace chooses to drink but he’s not consumed by it. He makes a decent living stuffing envelopes from home and working eBay. He watches his game shows and his Hogan’s heroes reruns. He reads books he gets from the library. He doesn’t drive, because that would be reckless and unwise, so he walks or takes the bus. He lives within walking distance from a grocery store, where he gets money orders to pay his bills, food to put in his belly, and scotch to fill his heart. Three times a week, he walks a little further and makes the rounds to the bars, where all the regulars and staff know his name. He talks to them about what he watched on TV that day or how the Dodgers are doing. He talks to his bar buddies about music and art (he used to be a painter) and politics and philosophy, and he never raises his voice or loses his temper. People like Wallace and, at the end of the day, one of them will call a cab and send him home.

Wallace has a good life. He knows one day that he won’t wake up and that’s OK. For him, you can’t ask for more out of life than being with the one you love, and he is.

(no subject)

Friday Fast Fiction.

One Story. One Hour.



They move mechanically, with no fluidity, no attention to space. It’s as if each one has been programmed to perform a variation of the same set of steps. There is no true rhythm, no innovation springing up from the soul. Does the music even touch their souls? Do they feel the beat? It has to be more than mere sociology that compels them to gather together in that tiny square. Why do they swarm and sway and swivel? Why do they stutter and careen into one another and jockey for precious floor space?

I don’t dance. I don’t understand it. I’ve tried but I don’t have the false sense of grace these fools have.

Yet, they’re smiling and laughing and flirting and this place, all this around me, it was built for them. I’m the interloper here. I’m the square peg.

My sense of superiority is completely unjustified, and that makes me feel even more smug towards them all. There's a furnace being stoked within my chest. I want to go out there and beat them with my fists. I want to feel my knuckles devastate someone’s nose. I want to bring my knee crashing into someone’s crotch. I want to see the fear in their eyes that comes when someone they didn’t notice before suddenly turns their world upside down.

Jack comes in from the next room to see how I’m doing.

“Good,” I tell him. “I want to murder everyone in this room.”

“Cool.” He says. He reeks of Camel cigarettes and Polo aftershave. I hate him. He was my ride here.

The song changes, tempo – beat – everything, and they dance exactly as they did before. No pattern recognition, no situation-specific response. They don’t even have the rudimentary environmental adaptability of insects. They’re of a lower order than any other species on earth, and yet they are the future. They own this planet. And what do they do with their mighty sway?

They grind their bottoms against one another.

“You need another drink, my friend.” Jack says.

“No. Really. I don’t.” I say. “I’m already feeling impervious to shame.”

“Not enough. Not until I see you out there having fun.” He pats my shoulder and heads off to wait in line at the bar. I see him strike up a conversation with a black girl in her early twenties. The girl has straight purple hair.

For people like Jack, for people like the dancing robots, the world is simple. They simply co-exist together in a shared mental space of collective narcissism. Each believes they are the star of their own sit-com, rom-com, and dramedy. They speak as if they’re reciting lines written for them by someone else. They’ve been taught that they’re special and unique and that they’re entitled to have it all. Yes, entitled. That’s the thing that kills me. They all act as if they’re entitled. Entitled to go where they want, do what they want, say what they want. What nobody seems to grasp these days is that we’re only entitled as far as someone else is willing to indulge us. There are no unalienable rights. There is no right to life, or right to liberty. These are illusions. I could walk right up to any of those fools this very moment and break their neck and what then? Did I violate their right to life, or did I mere exercise my right to liberty? In the end, we only exist as long as someone else allows us to exist. Everything in our lives is potentially transitory. Yet look at them. They don’t understand this. They live in denial, or rather, ignorance. They chauffer themselves through a state of perpetual bliss and woeful disregard for anyone else’s life but their own. Everyone else is either a co-star or an audience member. In their heads they hear laugh tracks and string quartets and applause when they finish out their days.

Jack comes back with a couple of Long Islands and sits back down. He’s trying to tell me about the girl he talked up in line but I’m busy staring out at that dance floor, at the children of the MTV revolution, their lives an incomprehensible sequence of jump cuts and accelerated zooms. I feel like I’m caught in between signals, lost in transmission. I should have been born in a time where people flowed and moved in one continuous arc from birth to death. Not like today, when everyone is expected to leap effortlessly from one money shot to the next, never fully appreciating just how vital and precious every single breath is.

I take a sip of my Long Island. It’s very good.

“Thanks, Jack.” I say. “I think I needed this.”
smoking, joker

Roadtrip Out Of This Little Town

Goddamn goddamn this little town,
if it hasn't been already,
not in hatred, anger, jealousy or sadness,
but in it's unwavering ability to smother the minds of its citizens,
in opiate like anti-awareness.

Fed only by failed philosophers with false revelations unto you,
over fermented drink and ideas skewed,
from lifetime of wasteaway, in this little town,
if you knew any better than me, or he or she,
yours wouldn't be the same faces I see,
unchanging like this fucking scenery,

Fired up to keep your head down,
inspired to keep this cycle moving 'round,
every day, all night,

In my imagination, sweetly scented saints,
offer me their powdered cakes,
delicate, soft and sweet like their skin.
melting softly on my tongue,
like fresh snow in the sun,

And though the stink of nicotine has been dismissed,
from these outstretched fingertips,
holding now this pen,
how much I've changed,
and how little has this place,

Im sorry Allen,
our angel-headed hipsters have grown tired,
and no one is listening anymore,
to the the strange characters we'd conceive,
for the images we'd weave,
this poetry,
with words and smoke,
and sentences spoke,
sometimes carefully,
sometimes recklessly,
with urgency,
delicacy,
energy,
love,
awe,
purity,
anger,
madness,
fear,
passion,
honesty...

For our dreams of wandering stars,
trailing fingers through a midnight sky,
rippling back through our eyes,
like blackened water, reflected high and infinite
surrounding us through desert or mountain path,
teasing us, ripping us back,
with electric slideshows of our days of future past.

All this swirls through my head,
and out in ink,
I've got to leave this goddamn, goddamn town to think,

I've got my foot on the gas,
the car shakes (or is it me?)and the stereo blasts,
There are years and miles flying under me,
and Im praying to crash,
headlong into an angel's arms,
In a slow motion shower of glass,

And find myself awake in new ideas,
this ain't no Wisconsin Death Trip honey,
I'm too tired to sleep that long,
I may be crazy, but I know write from wrong,

Im just looking for a little place,
just outside this goddamn goddamn town,
where I can walk away from mangled mental metal,
and find a spot to sit down,
breathe the clean air of a fresh start,
spit blood from an unbroken heart,
and see my city lights for how very small they really are.

And after I pick the glass out of my face,
As I swallow down that copper taste,
I can look back on that place,
and feel bigger than everwhere I've ever been,
and with little clearer head, and stronger soul,
I can start to head down,
back to that goddamn goddamn little town,

I just wish I'd brought a cigarette, cuz it's a long walk.

-Joker
  • Current Music
    Inertia Creeps - Massive Attack

Outlets

Fast Fiction Friday.

One story. One hour.

Outlets

The monster sits in the bathtub of room 65 at the Chelsea Hotel. The tub is filled with luke warm water. The monster has to sit in it with his knees drawn up. He is very tall.

The neighbors next door are fighting again. He sighs and bangs on the wall.

“Fuck you!” the man yells from the other side of the wall.

All he wants to do is soak in his tub. All he wants is to be left alone.

He wants a fix.

No, he thinks. I don’t need it. I’m fine without it. Better than fine. Perfect. Excellent. I’m well. Healthy.

But it’s all a lie. He’s never been healthy. Never been well.

The neighbors next door are yelling again. Louder.

Why did he ever come back?

Because they’re everywhere. Even in the icy fields. They have cruise ships that bring them to bare witness to the crystal alps that used to be his home.

There’s no escaping them.

At least here, in their cities, he can get a hit.

Now the man next door is hitting his wife. She is crying for someone to help her in Spanish.

Fuck it, he says and gets up out of the tub.

He pads out into the room, dripping water all over the rug. He unplugs his hotplate and walks back to the bathroom. There’s an outlet right by the tub and he plugs the hotplate in.

Why fight it? It’s the way he was wired.

He steps into the tub, still holding the hotplate. He can feel it warming to his touch.

Why fight it?

He drops the hotplate into the tub. The crackle of electricity and the smell of his own burning skin in the bubbling water rises up to his borrowed nostrils. The bathroom light flickers. His eye lids flutter. He lets the electricity flood his nerves, ignite the slumbering synapses of his brain, making him feel alive again.

In a moment, he’ll go next door and rip off the wife beater’s head. The violence and the juice go hand in hand. The authorities will come and the criminal inside hopes he’ll get to hurt them too. Either way, he’ll have to move on, but that’s OK.

There are outlets in every city.
  • Current Music
    Bauhaus - Hair of the Dog

What's Her Name...

Here's a short story I started a few years ago. I polished it up a little, but kept alot of the language and rough spots in the narrative as a more complete picture of what was going on in my noodle at the time I wrote it. Like the poems I've posted, going back and completely revising them to work out all the kinks kind of kills whatever spark I had at the time I wrote them. So I'm putting 'em up warts and all. I hope you like it.

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  • Current Music
    Swans - Like A Drug