Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Reject

Posted: April 11, 2011 in Anger, Dark, Life, Musings, Rant, Slam, Thoughts, Ugly

Don’t you dare fucking think
for a moment that I’ll take
self-pity street! I drink
criticism straight, no chaser; fake
ME out, you say? You can try and fail,
overly polite disrespecting sonofabitch!
I’m resplendent with skill to nail
words deep into your brain, invisible itch!
Ain’t no reason I should be rejected thrice,
you hardly even know me! Your unfeelin’
collection of faceless masks ice
cold left your souls reelin’
deep in a snowfall that left you numb
to the plainest spoken word.
Now nurse your broken jaw makin’ you dumb,
maybe you should’ve taken a second or third
look at the letters so carelessly tossed aside,
makin’ a nice guy turn mean!
I’m a reject and it hurts my pride deep inside
that place kept clean
by creative construction that let me function
day to day with my failures adorned on my chest
as body armor for the fools hidin’ at every junction!
I accept I ain’t perfect but as for all the rest
you’re damn morons unable to see my vision!
And it won’t be long again before the pen hits paper
and again my faithful words will be arisen,
I’ll turn your fill-in-the-blank letter to vapor!
Don’t! for my own fucking sake
be the snake takin’ words out of my throat
before I can make a debut and slake
my thirst for written word, you can quote
me on it! And I say this for every time
I look on and smile at the red-pen pretender gods
making slashes through masterpieces sublime
when they never had the time to see through the facade
that they think is all bad but it ain’t, I know it’s good,
and I don’t give a FUCK if it ain’t understood!

“White”
Back in the prehistoric times of elementary school, you’d recognize ten-year-old me on the playground with ease; that bright flop of blond hair so pale it was bleached-bone white in California sunlight. I was never in the sun too much though. More often you would find me sitting on the benches under a canopy of oak trees, Goosebumps or Animorphs clenched tight in my hands as I took the fifteen free minutes I had in the best way possible. More often than not, when that bell rang to draw us back to class, I’d keep my book locked tight under my desk, the text exposed so I could read during the lesson. Funnily enough, out of the many reasons I was sent to the office after getting in trouble, reading in class ranked pretty high. My mom would get calls from teachers who would alternately complain about my lack of attention and praise my voracious reading, much to her amusement. Back before that hair darkened and grew longer, I was Tweety Bird; short and with a big head, a mop of yellow hair and a penchant for causing trouble for those prowling Sylvesters teaching my classes.

“Long”
Seventh grade. The summer was an ocean to cross, and the new land I found across it was puberty. Girls I’d grown up with for years (who had always been fascinating) had become curved, perfumed beauties, and this was one of two reasons that I decided to try the rock star mantle on and grow my hair down to my shoulders. The second reason was also related to women, though not in a way you’d expect. My haircut venue had switched from Contempo (an Eden filled with gorgeous older women, chiefly my mother’s friend Diane, whose body would press warmly against my shoulder as she sculpted my hair) to Monty’s Barbershop. Needless to say, Monty was not a worthy successor to Diane. So I told my mom, no more haircuts. She breathed a sigh of relief for her checkbook and applauded my free spirit. My father, on the other hand, made snide remarks about his feeling that I looked more like the women I wanted to pursue than a Kurt Cobain. I didn’t care about his opinion by that point; I was doing what I wanted. And I made damn sure from then on that he never got me down about my choices.

“Thin”
Here I was, my junior year at a new school. A year before, I had said goodbye to the long hair and cut it down short as could be; Dad was elated that his son looked respectable for once. But once again I was doing it for myself, and mostly for the ladies. The long hair was reminiscent of the stoner culture so prevalent in my town, and a stoner I would never be. Girls liked the respectable look, and so I started wearing button-down, collared shirts from stores like American Eagle and the Gap to go with my new school and the new image I was carefully crafting. That year, I found a new hair stylist, Lindsay, who was twice as beautiful as her name would suggest. I remember closing my eyes as she washed my hair, reveling in the feeling of female contact that had been lost since those early days with Diane. She cut the hair down short and styled it up with a pomade to form a fauxhawk, a cut I admired both in name and look. I looked at it in the mirror after she was done, proud and preening. For the first time, I was truly satisfied with my appearance. I was smooth and suave, fitting into my new skin with an elegance I surprised myself with. I turned to Lindsay and told her I loved it. She smiled at me and nodded, then said, “You might want to try some Rogaine, your hair’s a little thin up top there.”
Fuck.

Interaction

Posted: March 15, 2010 in Beauty, City, Culture, Imagery, Life, Love, Night, Romance, Urban, Women

“a blond walks into a bar.” Inhale, cheeks swell, then exhale. Eyes refocus through haze upon mine, amber browns versus cheap blue fifties telephones trying to tell stupid joke.
“is it a man or a woman?” Haze dissipates, smoldering cherry trails lit by green Heineken neon behind.
“what?” Blink, confusion, cocked head. “what do you mean?”
“sexist jokes written by sexist men. no one ever calls a man just a blond. it’s always a blond man. you’ve never wondered about that?” Eyelashes fan twice rapid, dizzying. Ash flickers like falling snow to maple/oak/whatever wood grain surface of table.
“uh…no, i haven’t.” Hand fumbles for long brown neck, squeezes and lifts, tipping amber brown liquid down mouth.
“same thing with nurses. a guy isn’t just a nurse, he’s a male nurse. they need to make that distinction to separate their masculinity from what’s perceived as a feminine job. it’s all to make them feel comfortable.” Uncomfortable myself now, want to go yet captivated by plunging neckline and glitter eyeshadow. Primal instinct pulsing with undertone of bad romance.
“female heiresses in the news; guys are always ‘playboys’. don’t you think it’s wrong?” Unsure of words, years of male-female conversation skills shift into gear.
“totally.” Irritated glance towards disinterested answer that prompts continuation but no involvement. Slightest shake of head.
“cops are always men, women are policewomen. it’s a power thing, you know. from jokes to titles, men have put themselves in control through every little facet of society.” Eyes now narrowed into sideways glance towards me, undisguised anger.
“yeah.” Mumbling, cheap blue fifties telephones already wandering to blond downwind of angry feminist.
“am i boring you?” Question missed, unconscious male coping en route to Titanic iceberg.
“uh-huh.” Amber browns turns to dark slits, cigarette pushed into ashtray, purse snaps closed and heels click decisively towards door. Feminine frustration incarnate directed towards typical masculine insensitivity. Blink, confusion, cocked head. Shrug, turn, eyes focus on blond. Gravitate towards adjacent barstool.
Maybe she’s a nurse.

Fourteen days left.

Peter shoves hard on the glass door, hearing a small bell jangle above him as he steps over the threshold. The young clerk glances up from the small television screen, startled by the sudden noise. He stands up quickly, offering a manufactured smile to the new customer.
The news report, background noise: “Tonight, our subject: early expiration.”
Peter ignores the clerk, prowling to the back of the convenience store. He searches the store intensely, as if some hidden item had been eluding him for years. He stomps past the Twinkies and Snowballs and alcohol, past Cheetos and condoms and Slim Jims to get to the soda rack.
“In an effort to curb population growth after an American victory in Vietnam, legislation enacted by former president Richard Nixon in 1973 made the tattooing of expiration dates onto all children born post-1975 a federal mandate.”
The clerk glances reflexively down at his hand; the tattoo reads DEC 31 2061. He smiles. At the back of the store, Peter pushes sodas back violently, his eyes darting back and forth as he searches for a particular label.
“Recent studies, however, have revealed that those marked with early expiration dates– people marked to expire in their teens to mid-thirties due to statistics determining their worth to society– experience severe depression, suicide, and– more frequently– homicidal tendencies.”
“FUCK!” screams Peter in the back, punching a row of Coke bottles into the back. One of them falls to the floor, hissing and spitting brown foam onto the dirty tile. The clerk, taken aback by the sudden outburst, inches his hand towards the aluminum baseball bat concealed under the counter.
“This has prompted a movement to abolish the Expiration Date Act of ‘73. A bill has been put forth to Congress–”
Peter storms back up the aisle, eyes locked onto the clerk. The clerk is shaking, drawing the bat up and holding it loosely, eyes wide. He can’t be more than eighteen.
“–but it is expected to fail despite mass protests staged outside of the Capitol Building over the last few weeks. The bill, if passed, would only affect children born after its success. Those already bearing an expiration date would still be required to adhere to their own date of death.”
Peter slows, not intimidated by the bat but amused, a small, grim smile on his face as he stares the clerk down. He places his hands on the table, exposing the tattooed characters on his own hand to the clerk’s terrified eyes: OCT 23 2009.
“In the meantime, the county sheriff wishes to relay information to the public about a dangerous local gang that is recruiting those with early expiration dates and organizing them into a destructive and disruptive influence. The gang’s members call themselves the Living Dead, which is often abbreviated to L. D.”
Beneath Peter’s date, the carefully stenciled initials proclaim “L. D.”; the periods are small skulls. The clerk swallows hard.
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs.
Peter laughs, a short, harsh bark. He leans forward, blue eyes watching the clerk’s own brown ones with a frightening intensity.
“You got any Cactus Cooler?” he growls. The clerk blinks.
“What?”
Peter lunges forward, grabbing the bat from the clerk’s hands and jerking back, nearly pulling the clerk over the his side. He smashes the metal bat into the cash register, prompting a loud plastic crunch as the clerk cowers back, holding his head in his hands.
“Do you fucking have it or not?!” he yells. The clerk shakes his head violently.
“No, no! It’s d-discontinued!”
“Shit!” Peter swears, turning around and rearing back, throwing the bat as hard he can through the glass shopfront. He stomps back out the doorway and the clerk is alone again.
“If you encounter one of these gang members,” the newscast drones on, “your life could be in serious danger.”
The clerk is shaking slightly, clutching onto the counter for support. As he reaches for the phone to call the police, his eyes flick to the date on the calendar: October 9th, 2009.
His head sways from side to side in pity. The crazy guy that had just destroyed the store was eighteen as well.

Blonde hair that might have looked good if it was washed, faded green eyes, clear skin, almost rail-thin; by today’s conventions, she was very pretty. Her skin was pale, almost anemic. Besides a possible case of anorexia (judging by her weight and height), she had a slight yellow tinge to her skin that signified the early stages of liver failure, symptomatic of heavy drinking. To most people, she might have looked like a typical California girl, yet to me it was evident that her body was being badly abused through alcohol and starvation. Which, it could be argued, did in fact define a typical California girl.
White, cotton blouse. Dirty from the night, maybe a party. Dark blue jeans that were clinging far too much to her skinny little legs. Hollister sandals, bronze toe ring. A ring on her finger, a plain silver band with an opal set into it. Diamond studs in her ears. Cheap, gold-colored bracelet on her left forearm.
She looked like the kind of girl with family problems; a lot of problems, in fact. Maybe an abusive boyfriend, friends that were regularly drunk and stoned every night, trouble with school. Anything could have contributed to the situation she was now in. The situation being, of course, the fact that she was lying on her back in the middle of a grassy field at seven o’clock in the morning, eyes open, staring into the sky with cuts and bruises fresh across her face.
Add that to the list of her problems. She was dead.
“What was the name?” I ask curiously, pushing her head from side to side with the eraser head of a pencil I had found in my pocket. Tammy looks disgustedly at me from behind a clipboard that she’s scribbling on.
“Have respect for a corpse, Taggart.”
“How many times do I have to tell you, Tam,” I mutter, peering into the dead girl’s mouth, “call me Johnny.”
She ignores me. “Her name was Cassandra Halverson. Found her wallet and driver’s license. No cash, credit cards still there. Organ donor.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want her liver,” I murmur, poking curiously at dead, jaundiced skin. I pick up her hand and inspect her fingernails; yellow, like her teeth. A heavy smoker, drinker, possible drug user. “Did you send off samples to the lab for a tox screen yet?”
“Haven’t gotten them yet,” she mumbles, distracted by the clipboard in front of her.
“What are you doing there, Tam?”
“I like to guess at causes of death while I’m waiting for the brass to arrive.” She brushes a strand of hair back from her face. “At the top of the list now is alcohol poisoning, drug overdose, or boyfriend beating. All of which could have contributed to each other.”
Tammy’s a very smart woman. Those were my guesses as well. I peer into Cassandra’s staring eyes; the pupils are heavily dilated.
“Looks like ecstasy. Combined with alcohol could have lead to dehydration…which wouldn’t have been helped by her body type.”
Tammy nodded. “There was a card for an anorexia support group in her wallet. Looked like it was there for a while.”
“To be honest, though, the bruises are at the top of my list. Or some other kind of external damage.”
“Why is that?” she asks curiously. “You think this could be a murder? Sometimes bruises are just bruises.”
“I’m just thinking out loud. Twenty bucks says someone killed her.”
“I’ll take that. You’re not always right, Taggart.”
“Johnny,” I grunt, squatting next to the body and looking down at it. “Did anyone move the body yet?” I wave my hand at the forensic techs combing the field.
“No, but Noriega doesn’t want anyone moving it anyway, so you’ll just have to sit tight until he gets here.” She returns to her list.
“But you took pictures?” I ask.
“Uh-huh,” she says quietly, drawing a line through something on the clipboard.
“You were always very thorough about that kind of thing,” I comment as I reach under the body and flip it onto its stomach.
“Johnny!” Tammy cries out, eyes widening as I disturb her crime scene. “You can’t–!”
She stops, staring at Cassandra Halverson’s back. I look up to her, unable to keep a small, smug look off of my face.
“Seven in the morning and I’ve already made twenty bucks,” I laugh. I gaze back down to the body, to the dark, almost black bloodstain that spreads across her white blouse.
I give Tammy’s horrified expression a grim smile. “Murder.”

Naomi

Posted: April 18, 2009 in City, Dark, Imagery, Life, Musings, Night, Snippet, Thoughts, Women
Tags:

Walking out of the restaurant, I remember turning back to take my nephew’s hand and seeing her, heading easily towards me. I remember hoisting my nephew up into my arms and smiling at her, pleased and slightly wary to see her.
Seeing Naomi had always put me into a sense of caution, and I’ve never figured it out. It’s like I feel my every move will be judged for its worth, as if I’m some sort of marionette on display for a queen.
She blinked, as if she couldn’t believe her eyes, seeming not to recognize me for a moment. No surprise there; the last time she had seen me was when I had hair down to my shoulders and a perpetual outfit of jeans and a t-shirt.
I remember that day my hair was short and swept back from my forehead, given some lift a few dabs of wax. I had a goatee and sideburns running down my face, a loose-fitting blue-and-white striped long sleeve, and dark khakis. I looked like a completely different person.
And I was. The looks and the confident smile took her off guard, I could tell. Where were the downcast eyes, the sloppy clothes, the quiet demeanor that had defined me for so long? I liked the effect, I have to admit, the changes that have made me into this person.
The wariness I felt was gone; the balance of power, which had always been firmly in her court over the years we had known each other, had shifted my way. She gave me her trademark one-armed hug, a lazy movement that belied her true lethargy, and I returned it with another broad smile.
Back from when my family and I moved from Meiner’s Oaks into Ojai proper is about how long we had known each other. I remember her mom, Diane, was friends with my mom; she would always cut my hair at her Contempo beauty salon.
(Not until years later would I realize that it was a woman’s beauty salon. Before that I had just assumed men never came around while I was there.)
We had met through the parental connection, along with some other kids from my neighborhood. Always there was that uncomfortable caution I felt with her, the feeling of the marionette, of the caged animal watched by its captors. Perhaps not that extreme, but you can understand how I felt. Intimidated, perhaps because she was one of a precursor of those girls I would encounter throughout school life; pretty, popular, and with next to zero interest in me (for some reason, the latter was an attractive quality).
But standing in that parking lot with her, as we talked about college and plans for the summer, all I could think of was how short she really was. Almost half my height, really. It almost made me laugh, though of course I didn’t. I had been wary of this small girl? Afraid that if I said the wrong thing it would haunt me for the rest of my life? This was the real evidence for me, the final fact that I had changed from quiet, unassuming and passive Luke to someone who could actually interact with those around him with confidence and poise.
We said our goodbyes, and I gave her one last look into her deep brown eyes. I couldn’t see anything, least of all anything scary or intimidating. They were just blank, and that made me sad. I could see the choices she had made had never been the best they could have been, and it reflected in those deep brown eyes.
I remember she turned and walked away, and I gave her one last look before turning and taking my nephew’s hand.

Mmmmm, she muses. He looks exciting.
Susie almost sighs, her chin propped up by her hand, eyes bright and wide as she stares at the man sitting at the end of the bar. Dwelling over his every move, wondering if his casual glances up the bar are for her or the TV. He raises a hand and she blinks. He’s saying something.
“Another beer please, miss…”
She shakes her head and smiles dreamily at the Southern lilt in his voice as she saunters over to him, curling her fingers around the handle of his mug and lifting it up into her hands. She keeps her eyes cast demurely down as beer sloshes into the mug, foaming up into a heady white froth that caps the dark lager below. She balances the heavy mug carefully in her hands as she walks back to the man. She does not set it down before him, but holds it out for him to take in his hands. Rough, callused fingers graze her dainty schoolgirl hands, and she catches her breath to keep her from making a tiny noise.
He smiles slowly, lazily at her, drawing the mug back and setting it before him. He does not drink it, nor even look at it; his gaze is focused on Susie’s eager, bright-eyed demeanor. Reaching down to take his mug in his hand without looking at it, he takes a deep swig. Lightning-blue stare set dead on Susie’s brown doe eyes, he does not blink. Susie becomes nervous, intensity mounting between them, something dark and unmanageable. She looks down.
“You’re embarrassin’ me, mister…you ought not stare at a girl like that.”
He grins, teeth white and flashing in the dark bar. He takes another draft of his beer, wiping his mouth and leaning forward. “I ain’t starin’ at a girl, missie. I’m starin’ at a pretty lady.”
She blushes hot crimson and fingers the hem of her blouse, unable to look at the man. A little smile tugs at the corners of her mouth, and she whispers a quiet “thank you” to the floor.
“I’m right here, honey. Ain’t no reason to not look at me.”
She looks up at him and the smile breaks free of reluctance. “Thank you, mister. That’s very sweet of you to say.”
He snorts a little with laughter, grinning wickedly up at her. “The truth ain’t never sweet, honey.”
She smiles again.
“What’s your name, sugar?” He nods at her, taking another sip of his beer.
“Susie,” she breathes quietly, feeling a little light-headed.
“That’s a good name, Susie. I like it.”
She giggles a little, foolishly, feeling more red flushing her cheeks. She struggles to meet the lightning-blue eyes again, smiling nervously.
“What’s yours?”
He nods slowly, finally looking away from her to take a long, deep drink of his beer, draining it down to a thin layer of foam at the bottom.
“Ain’t got a name, honey.”
“Everybody’s got a name,” she says teasingly.
“Why honey, who told you that?”
“My momma.”
“Well, hell, you’re lucky you had a momma to tell you such a thing. Ain’t nobody ever told me I needed a name.”
She doesn’t say anything, but draws a rag up from behind the counter and begins to nonchalantly polish the bar in front of her. She gazes into the dark wood, drawing the rag against the dim surface.
“Where you from?” she asks the bar.
“Round about Alabama way, miss Susie.”
“Why’d you come to Virginia? Coming up to see a girlfriend?” She smiles almost devilishly at him.
“Aw, no, nothin’ like that. I ain’t got a girlfriend, miss Susie. I’m just a travellin’ sort of man.”
“You a bum?” she asks jokingly, a hand planted on her hip. “Some sorta vagrant?”
“Somethin’ like that, I suppose…” He slides his beer over, fixing that same lightning-blue gaze on her, ratcheting the intensity up a notch. “Why, you worried I ain’t gonna pay for my beer?”
“Oh no, mister, you seem like too much of a gentleman to do that. I would never presume such a thing.”
“Well, you’re right not to worry about that, sugar, because I’ve got money.” He slides his hands across the counter, close to the dainty schoolgirl hands that Susie is desperately forcing to stay still.
“Oh really?” Susie asks, trying not to stutter in nervousness. “What exactly is it that you do to earn your money?”
He shrugs, gives her that same slow, easy smile, leaning forward. “I find things.”
“You find things.”
“Yes ma’am.”
“What kind of ‘things’?”
That slow, easy smile. A slight sniff as he reaches for his beer and takes a long pull on the dark, foamy liquid, his eyes locked lazily on hers. He finishes the beer and slides it in front of her.
“One more for the road, I think.”
“You leavin’ so soon?” Susie says playfully, taking his mug and slipping it underneath the tap to fill it a third time.
He laughs again, stretches back along the bar like a cat. “I’m always leavin’. That’s why I ain’t got no girl. I don’t stay long in any place.”
“That so?” she muses, setting the third beer in front of him. “That’s too bad.”
“Aw, honey, you’re makin’ me blush.” He grins at her over the top of the beer and takes another sip. His eyes flicker for a fraction of an instant to the mirror hanging back behind the bar. “But I bet you wouldn’t be sayin’ that if you knew me well.”
“Why?” she whispers, leaning casually in front of him. “You a bad man?”
In response, he brings up a pistol from out of nowhere, the long, silver barrel steadily winking at Susie’s widening eyes. Before she can draw herself back from the bar and scream for help, however, the man swivels around and three shots ring out.
A couple minutes later, the man leans over the bar and grins down at her, chuckling.
“Sugar, I just saved your life. The least you could do is thank me.”
Shaking, Susie just stares at him. The long barreled silver Colt .44 pistol is still held loosely in his hands, and he shoves it back into his jeans, extending a hand to help her up. She stares at his hand like a frightened dog being offered a piece of meat, then takes it gingerly. He helps her up gently, and her eyes widen again.
Behind the man, the window is broken, three spiderwebbed holes playing together in a close triangle along the splintered pane. Lying on the ground outside the bar is a large, beefy stranger with a bad sunburn and dark, stringy hair splayed around his head. A small .32 caliber pistol lays careless next to his stiff fingers. The black stains of blood are a sharp contrast with his bright blue denim shirt.
Susie’s eyes are the size of shooter marbles by now, and she turns to the man, her mouth hanging open. The man just looks at her.
He smiles, the slow, easy smile once again, leans over to her ear.
“I found what I was looking for.”
He kisses her once, grazing her cheek with rough lips, then leaves her standing shell-shocked, clutching onto her apron and staring at the half-finished beer sitting on the bar.