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Monday, December 28, 2015


Thanks for all the messages demanding more content.  Love them.  Well, not the ones that say I sold out.  Those were not that nice nor true because that would imply actual money.  Alas, money is always been a bitch to me.  This is still a labor of love.  Or maybe madness.  It depends if your glass is half full or half empty.

I have a million ideas, I have Tracks 2 figured out but alas I have no time.  I'm on vacation, I have family obligations and I am moving.  That's my excuse.  But seriously, I do indeed love your messages, bizarre questions (I am not Kym though that would have been brilliant) and well wishes.  So thanks!  And I'll try my best to get something out between fits of surfing, packing, rearing small children and mi vida loca.  

Oh and January 1, 2016 to January 7, 2016 Tracks Vol. 1 will be on sale in the US and UK.  I actually wanted it to be on sale in the US and Canadaland but Amazon is prejudiced to the throne.  So the vassal state of Canada had no option for reduced pricing.  Not sure how much the price was reduced either.  I was drunk when messing with Amazon.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Lying to Doctors

"One day, that shadow you drag around is gonna snuff you out" she says sitting up in bed.

Hundreds of candles illuminate the beads of sweat on our bodies like stars. I am mesmerized. Behind the crackling, electricity of her pitiless stare, the shadow rises like the hood of a cobra. It slowly pulls itself free from the wall and floats down gently on black wings. A creature made of Darkness hovers near my face. The candles flicker as I feel it breathe.  The chill an open casket funeral. It licks my face with a cold, dry tongue of clay.

Startled, I WAKE up.  Sera is still talking.  The TV is on, making familiar sounds of ESPN.  I need oxygen and gasp as my heart violently slams within my bones.  I calm myself by breathing the way my state sponsored therapist taught me.  Inflate your lungs all the way to your belly.  Release the cords of tension while intoning Ra.  Exhale with a sighing Ma.  Ra-Ma.  Raa-Maa.  Raaa-Maaa.  My breathing slows.  My heart slows.  I return to the condo.  Jesus.  I must have fucking nodded out...

"Wait.  What?  What did you just say?"  I ask sitting up.  Sera looks up from the community newspaper she is reading.

"I said the quiche is non-dairy so you can eat-"

"No the shadow thing.  Why did you say that?" I demand.

Sera squints at me in confusion and then her face melts to concern.  I get this look a lot lately.  She gets up from dining room chair and sits next to me on the couch.  I shy away from her comforts because my emotional well is dry.  These days I only pretend to care.  If I recall, that is what people do.

"You're sweating.  Are you feeling alright?" she asks.  Behind her eyeglasses, luminous violet eyes scan back and forth.  Restless birds in a cage.  They search my face, my eyes and soul.  I look down at my hands.

"Yeah.  I'm fine" I say shrugging off my shadow.  "I think I fell asleep."

I get up, walk to my desk and open the drawer.  Inside are important pieces of paper, obsolete electronic devices, cut up straws and a myriad of pill canisters.  Beneath the clutter is an expired driver's license encrusted with oxycodone, cocaine and heroin.  The smiling kid in the picture is unrecognizable.  

I get three, doctor prescribed oxy and two more of Sera's doctor prescribed morphine.  I add a loose pill from the floor to the pile.  Not sure what it is.  Probably oxy.  Maybe Valium.  I toss the pills into my mouth and chew mechanically.  I gulp it down with a sip of beer.  When Sera goes back to her cooking, I'll do some speedball lines.  Coke and oxy.  Until then, I smoke cigarettes and stare blankly at ESPN.  

Two guys in tiny, colorful speedos beat the hell out of each other.  People cheer as the 
nearly nude men grapple, sweat and choke the shit out of each other.   Homoerotic violence at it's finest.  Ay dios mio, these are the Roman times.  Why do I watch this?  It brings me no pleasure.  My re-wired brain is only receptive to opiates, cocaine and alcohol.  Sera's huge, perfect tits, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, the full moon and love mean little to me.  I finish the beer and light another cigarette.  In my peripheral vision I notice Sera is still watching.  

"Smells great" I offer to the vacuum of smothering silence.  I can hear the gears in Sera's head spinning.  Concern.  Worry.  Fear.

"Thanks" she responds quietly.  

Sera is an eternal optimist but no damn fool.  I have passed out in the bathroom twice this week doing sudoku puzzles on heroin.  I don't even pretend to go to work anymore.  I have lost 17 pounds since I last weighed myself.  The pale, sickly man is back.  It speaks.

"Really.  You're a great cook Sera.  I'd starve without you" I finish lamely.  We both know I don't eat much food these days.  Mostly candy or the chocolate bundt cakes she bakes with marijuana butter.     

"You know, I was reading about your surgery" presses Sera.  "Did you talk to the doctor about your medications?"

I fake smile at Sera knowing she will smile back.  My lie, reflected in a dark pool of water creates light.  Then I rub my face to steal a moment to think.  Yeah...tell the good doctor I take 90mg of oxy when I wake up just to feel human.  Not to mention the binge drinking.  Or all the morphine, coke and heroin neatly stacked behind the .357 pistol in the safe.  You can set a watch to this habit.  Every three hours I vanquish the pain.  Because.  Then at night, I indulge.  My goodnight kiss is heroin.  And I can't tell you how many times I have thought, 'What a waste it is to smoke/snort this shit.'  But I don't shoot up.  Well, lately.  Fucking doctors would notice the track marks.  

"Yup" I lie.  "They have a list of my medications."  

And I can see the concern float off Sera's shoulders and and flutter out the condo's sealed windows.  Her mind returns to food.  If only my life was so simple.  To get stoned, cook food and actually want to eat it...Sera is a trip.  She is alive and happy without dope.  Personally, I don't get it, but I truly admire it.  I can no longer remember what that would feel like.     

"Oh good!  The article said it is very important to be honest.  Oops.  I gotta start the bacon for the spinach salad.  You like the vinaigrette dressing?"

"Yeah, sure.  Whatever."

I stare balefully at the nurse as she fucks with my IV portal that is shoved into the top of my bruised hand.  Fucking amateur hour here.  My restless body shifts in the hospital bed cage and another groan slips out of my mouth.  Pain.  Intense, throbbing pain.  I can feel the fucking holes the surgeon carved into my knee.

"On a scale of one to ten" she asks slowly, "how is your pain?"

"Eight" I say through clenched teeth knowing she is fucking with me.  

There is no nine or ten on the pain scale in this bitch's world.  But the sadistic nurse keeps asking the same fucking question like a cop.  The dilaudid and morphine at controlled, hospital doses are shit.  I want more.  Maybe fentanyl?  And I want her to slam the plunger home to gift me the rush of the god.  I groan again and writhe in sweaty pain.  I gotta get out of here.  Cook up some of the good tar I have at home.  The Mayan shit.  I will use the median cubital vein and know only bliss, love and perfection.  The warm glow of narcotic euphoria is only a car ride home.  This thought keeps me sane.  

"Well..." she muses languidly, "I have given you ample pain relief.  I need a doctor to sign off on more.  Unfortunately, Dr. Vasquez had a family obligation.  I'll need to wait for Dr. Cho to sign off."

"Ok" I grimace while blinking rapidly.  It's like my eyes are sticky with sleep.  Or dried tears.

"Oh.  Look who's here" says the nurse unenthusiastically.  

I see Sera.  Her eyes are stranger eyes.  I notice it but don't care what made her sad.  I have a stash of pills in her car.  The fucking surgeon prescribed me more ibuprofen and some wispy little 7.5 mg hydrocodone.  Fuck this nightmare.  Time to leave and Sera is my ride.

"Look" I implore the nurse.  "I'm ready to go.  Can I have one more?  I still have to go the pharmacy."

The nurse looks at me like I'm a bloated dog corpse that rots upon her clean, white hospital linens.  She shakes her head.  I know that she knows.  She knows that I know.  But neither of us will acknowledge my tolerance is junkie high.

"While our insurance policy states clearly you will leave the hospital in a wheelchair, you still have to wait for the physical therapy nurse to explain how to use your crutches safely" shrugs the nurse.

"Fuck me!"

"I'll find Dr. Cho" responds the nurse blandly before she trudges off.

Sera refuses to look at me.  She stares at the curtain that wraps around my bed.

"Hey.  You ok?" I ask. 

"How are you?" blinks Sera still not looking at me.

"How am I?  I fucking hurt and want to get out of here."

"So you can do more drugs?" asks Sera.


"Sorry.  I'm tired" sighs Sera.

Tired of what I wonder?  She looks distant.  Like me on the couch.  Another wave of pain washes over and I groan.

"Fuck this place!  Jesus fucking Christ it's miserable in here!"

"You still hurt?" asks Sera.  "The nurse said-"

"Fuck the nurse!" I yell.  "I hurt!  Trust me, I would fucking know!"

I hear Sera inhale through her nose and breathe out softly.  She pinches the bridge of her nose where her glasses sit.

"Look Sera" I say shifting in the bed trying to worm away from the pain, "I'm sorry I'm angry but fuck!  I hate hospitals.  No one's ever happy to be here!  It's like a great fucking emptiness-"

"You mean like the desert?" she asks finally looking at me.  

I pause.  Stunned as my walls come crumbling down.  I sit back completely exposed for a moment.  Sera imparts a longing for something she will never touch.  I wrap the shadow back over me and stare furiously forward as I bang on the nurse call button.  


This is how it happened.

When I was a kid, I was in a car accident.  I busted my leg and ripped open my knee when I shot through a window.  When I got older, I realized I could use this to get high.  First off, I always pick a female doctor.  More empathy to milk.  Hopefully she will start with hydrocodone 5mg.  If not, I'll get horse-pill sized ibuprofens or naproxen.  So I wait.  After a week, call again.  Sorry doc, not working.  What?  Yeah I tried the ice...

When I get the hydrocodone I'll let it coast ten days or so.  Then mention the pain is getting worse.  Fake limp so realistically it becomes second nature.  Usually I'll get more hydrocodone.  Maybe 7.5 or even 10mg.  Then she will schedule an x-ray.  This will spotlight the old injury.  Now the doctor believes me 100%.  Next is the MRI.  Time to moan about nausea.  Lo and behold, the oxycodone appears.  Pure oxy I can crush and snort.    

I have played this game off and on for years.  A sane doctor will insist on physical therapy after I work the oxy prescription to 30mg pills.  This is when I miraculously recover.  Or go back to heroin.  More often than not, I will physically see the doctor only once.  The rest of the game is played over the phone.  I was playing this game again when Reality limped in with a twisted grin.  


Voicemail:  Hi Mr. Severson!  It's Agnes from Dr. Sue Carlotti's office.  I'm afraid she says your MRI showed severe damage.  You have been referred to an orthopedic surgeon.  Oh and I sent in your prescription.  Doubled it because of your business trip.  Have a nice day!"

Fuck me.


"Do you hear that?" asks Kym pausing where silvery roots of Ohia trees pierce through the ceiling of the lava-tube.  She stands perfectly still in the corpse-colored light that fills this space.  Beyond her wide blue eyes is the end of the world.

"Let's go" I urge.

"Deeper?  Why?  Let's go outside babe.  This is the House of the Rising Sun" says Kym as she reaches up and lightly touches a finger-thick vine of tree root.  "This Ohia tree is over 500 years old.  And Mauna Haleakalā has stared at the sea for millions of years."

"Who are you?" I ask.

But she ignores me.  Maybe I am not really here.  

"And the wind.  The wind that makes waves across the sea is eternity.  What is the difference between the wind and us?" she asks in a different voice.

"Please tell me.  Who are you?"  I ask again.

"Me?  Who are you?  I'm lost like you are destined to be forgotten.  Inana, Khadja, Istar are names swallowed in the desert sands.  Meaningless.  I am war.  I am lust.  I am the rain that brings life to the scorched Earth."

"What?  What does-" 

"Shhh!" she hisses cocking her head sideways and pointing up towards the rock tomb ceiling.  "Can't you hear it?"

I listen as the corpse light flashes all around us.  It searches.  And it is so cold here.  Far away I hear thunder galloping wildly across the sky.  Beneath the roar of creation is a tinny, buzzing sound.  

"What's up with your leg?" she breathes softly.

I look down.  My injured knee that brings me 120 oxycodone pills every ten days 
for $5 is grotesque and gray.  It is made of clay.  I try to explain but my throat is clogged.  Her silhouette melts into the Darkness and fuses with the eerie, electric blue light.  The shadows grow and grow covering the world with my madness.  

The statue stands over 30 feet tall with a thin slice of glowing moon crowning wild, dandelion blond hair.  At her bare feet, two house-sized lions watch me.  Two owls circle above us and an eight pointed star rises in the East.  The statue blinks and the world goes black.

"Don't worry" echoes a chorus of one thousand women singing in my skull.  "They taped your eyes shut..."

A roaring sweeps over me like an ocean wave.  As it recedes to the endless tide, I can hear them speaking.

" Bishop's park.  This is for the semifinals.  Pretty good chance this year I think.  Sean's a starter and doing good in the workouts so-"

Mundane, conversational voices bouncing off the walls of my mind.  I sense the light flashing but am abandoned to the Darkness.  The normal voices seem perplexed.

"...really?  Wow.  Are you sure Dave?  Shit.  Ok.  Get Dr. Miller in-"


"Hi" says the nurse with the clipboard.  "You with Mr. Severson?"

"Yes" says Sera lowering the hospital copy of Sunset Magazine.

"I'm Eileen.  I work for Dr. Vasquez.  First off, everything is fine.  No complications.  He's awake and you can go sit with him if you like, but he's not all there yet.  They say funniest things when they wake up.  He keeps talking about the desert and lions."

"The desert?  Ok" laughs Sera putting down the magazine.  

"Yeah.  But he asked for you.  You're Karla right?  Or is it Katya..?  Sorry but they mumble a lot when they come out of anesthesia."

"No" sighs Sera looking down at her hands.  "Not Khadja.  I'm Sera."


"One day, that shadow you drag around is gonna snuff you out" she says sitting up in bed.

I look around and there are only a handful of lit candles this time.  It is so dark in here.  But I am older and let too many of the flames burn out.  I really gotta work on that.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Witch and the Baker

Devika is crying.  

Melo holds her as she shudders, snivels and gasps for air.  But nothing can remove the pain of drowning.  No more opiates in their veins.  The real world has been dragged into this room.  Reality is a solid, heavy entity after a good dope habit.  A massive stone pressing them both into the cold earth.  Only the meat fights back, screaming.  But the mind is too weary and alone after the god has moved on.  And there is little respite.  What few hours of sleep Melo finds are plagued by unending nightmares.  They both curse and squirm like cavern creatures dragged from the Darkness and exposed to the Light.

"It's ok" sighs Melo gently rubbing the knobs on Dev's spine.  "Look I'm sorry I yelled ok?  You were right to sell that shit to Kym and-"

"I'm sorry Melo!  I want some too!" wails Dev covering her face.

"Honey, it's all good.  You were right.  It was getting too heavy ok?"

"Ok" she sniffles.

Melo sighs and rolls his shoulders to knead the pain.  Oh so weary.  He loves his woman.  That part is true.  She carries his stone when he falls and they both know this.  There has never been anger towards Dev.  Never.  But the world?  Fuck the world.  

But a little warning would have been nice.  When you smoke, snort and bang heroin for eight months and then shoot hospital Dilaudid for five days straight and then....NOTHING as your hysterical girlfriend demands you both kick...Reality is pure, fucking Hell.  

Dev curls up in the bed and closes her eyes.  He exits the room because his legs scream MOVE!  
MOVE!  MOVE!  He thinks of exercising, push ups, sit ups, anything.  But just ends up wandering the house sighing.  Why did she sell the last fucking bottle?!  Pure hospital Dilaudid is rare.  So fucking rare!  When his restless legs return to the room she's playing that damn Velvet Underground song again.  Over and over again.  She just leaves it on repeat and it creeps him out.  Is Dev the whiplash girl child in the dark?  What the hell is the song about anyways?  Weird fucking?  Slavery?  

Though he senses the futility, Melo rubs his face and asks, "What is this song about honey?"

Dev shrugs.  "I dunno.  The rhythm reminds me of our temple walks late in the summers of Eleusia."

"What?  What does that even mean?"

"It means more 7-Up" Dev says narrowing her eyes.

"Another one?  You still have half a glass!  I'm not opening the freezer again!" gripes Melo standing over the bed with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders.  Dev looks up unamused.  

"If I can make you sing karaoke, I can make you do anything.  Ice, 7-Up, splash of water.  Now please.  Ok, bye-bye" says Dev in her usual wind-up doll voice with a hint of venomous impatience.

Melo shakes his head.  She always brings up Kym's 21st birthday.  Christ, they were all so drunk that night.  Somehow the party ended up in a Korean karaoke bar.  After Kym and her boyfriend's horrendous duet of 'Cruisin', he found himself belting out 'Islands In the Stream' with Dev.  Easily one of the strangest moments of his life.  

So weary, sighs Melo for the thousandth time as he grabs Dev's soda glass.  Each step reverberates pain and loss.  No more Dilaudid.  But the eyes that stare back in the dressing mirror are his own for a change.  Brown eyes with actual pupils.  They look darker than he remembered.  The familiar pin point pupil, junkie stare is gone.  His eyes are unfamiliar things that watch him.  

"Hello!  Mr. Melo?" interrupts Dev quietly.  "Did you forget?  Get my drink.  Go on.  Shoo."

Fuck, Dev has always been a miserable kicker.  Whatever life did to her comes out when you take away the drugs.  Dev is weird.  No bones about it.  She calls herself a witch.  Others call her Priestess.  People leave candles, flowers, coins and bottles of booze by their tent in the park.  She makes good money doing tarot readings.  Even the Financial District suits make their way to tent at midnight to glimpse their moira.  Easy cash.  Also, more often than not, they will buy coke or weed.  But some people like the Guatemalan ladies are free.  It makes no sense.  But this is Devika we are talking about.
Melo sighs and checks the clock.  It is 2:10 pm on the the third day of no bliss.  In about four or five hours, his legal wife will come home.  He still has to clean the hall bathroom of his breakfast puke.  Dev was bathing and locked the door leaving him no choice.  The hall bathroom was bleached and spotless.  Splashes of partly digested toast, bile and saliva splatter pristine surfaces.  He can see his wife wrinkle her nose and look pissy.  Oh yes, she will notice.  Julie always does.

Now why Julie puts up with him and Dev strung out, shitting, puking and leaving huge messes in her house is one of life's mysteries.  But Melo is too dopesick to care.  He plods painfully down the hall past a wedding photo of him in a military dress uniform.  The bride holding his arm is a beautiful Vietnamese woman resplendent in white.  Jules.  They are surrounded by people who wish them happiness.  The photo is too bizarre to comprehend.  Life crawls to a torpid stupor as Melo stumbles forward with his blanket in a fugue.  Just a tiny hit would solve this.  Just a taster shot.  Warm the winter in his bones and melt the crushed ice grinding agony into his muscles.  

He opens the freezer.  A nearly empty, frost filled cuboid.  Some gourmet hippie ice cream, squares of lasagne neatly stacked in Ziploc bags and ice cube trays.  This section of the city is damp from fog.  The interior is forever glazed with ice.  Like shoving his arm through stabbing knives.  Death's gaping maw illuminated with a tiny lightbulb.
  He grabs a handful of ice for Dev's 7-Up.  Like touching a corpse, he shudders.  Even the soda in the fridge hurts.  Shaking uncontrollably, Melo opens it and winces at the POP!  Soda spritzes everywhere.  For one insane moment he pictures smashing the glass against the wall.  Instead he wipes his hand on the blanket and curses this fucking life.  Fuck the mundane shit people do, fuck soda, fuck ice and fuck not being HIGH right fucking now.

"Fuck!" he shouts.  "Fucking soda hassle bitch motherfucker!"

He leaves the effervescent mess on the counter and brings Dev her soda with ice.  In the back of his mind he will clean up later.  But then again, he still hasn't brushed his teeth or showered.  He pushes open the door and her perfect face looks up.  Peace.  Thank god Devika holds his hand in this life or he would have put the bullet in his skull long ago.  He passes her the soda and mercifully, Dev turns off the music.  Melo rests his head on her chest and listens to her heartbeat.  

"All that stuff you talk about when looking at leaves and shells and shit" sighs Melo, "all those lives...Do I always end up the same?"

"Every time I dream about love, it always ends the same" Dev says.

"And we're together?"

"Usually I follow you when we meet.  Sometimes later.  Maybe a month, or years.  Sometimes I find a new life.  Sometimes I have children.  But I always wake up.  I find you.  Michelangelo, I am always with you.  
In saecula saeculorum."

"Well then" whispers Melo to her heart, "something actually works."  

Dev stares down into his face and smiles.  A mischievous look.

"There's a picture of us here.  In this house.  Wanna see?"

Melo props himself up and looks at her.

"Yeah right.  Our mugshots?  I guarantee Julie does not have any pictures of us." 

"Oh yeah?  Get that book" says Dev pointing to a shelf his wife stocks with volumes on architect and travel.

"What?  This one?"

"Yup.  Turn to page 13."

"Ok" shrugs Melo settling back into Dev's arms.  

The book is a travel guide to Italy.  When it falls to page 13, Melo looks up at his girlfriend.

"Fuck Dev.  That's...that is-"

"That's us Mr. Melo.  Us a long time ago."

He reads the book caption: 'Baker and his wife.  AD 1.'  

"It kinda, sorta looks like a crappy painting of you.  Spooky."

"Of us!  World without end Mr. Melo.  You wanna hear this or what?" demands Dev leaning down until her lips brush against his temple.  

"Sure" he sighs, letting it all go.  Sometimes believing in anything is so much easier than believing in life.

"You were a veteran of the Emperor's campaigns against the barbarians in the east.  But you got hurt and you came back home.  Pompeii."

"Pompeii?  Like the volcano one?"

"Yeah.  But we were in Rome during the eruption.  Visiting my dad."

"Fuck.  Thank whoever for that" groans Melo as he gets up to open the window.  

A vampire slab of cold air creeps in.  But now they can smoke without going outside where it is now Fall.  The climate controlled room heater rattles to life.  He'll deal with his legal wife and the smell later.

"It was me!  I did it!" exclaims his insane and perfect girlfriend.  "I made you leave.  You didn't want to.  Always the same Melo!"

"Oh yeah?" smiles Melo lighting a cigarette and passing it to Dev.

"Yeah Mr. Melo" says Dev accepting the smoke.

"Wait.  Why am I a baker guy?"

"Oh" says Dev exhaling in the opposite direction of the open window.  "Well, my father in Rome wanted to marry me off.  I was a pain in the ass.  But I loved you!  And you knocked me up.  So he had to cancel his plans.  Luckily you were some sort of war hero but you never told me why which is ok cause I hate that stuff.  But when I told my dad about our baby he gave us some money and we opened the bakery.  Well, I did.  But you helped.  You helped a lot!" smiles Dev.

"Shit" chuckles Melo taking the cigarette for a hit.  "Preggo?  Like a son?"

"Nope.  I only have daughters.  I hope that's cool" says Dev using her serious, penetrating stare people pay cash for.

"So over and over, I'm the last of my name?  Always daughters?"

"Yeah!" smiles Dev.

"Good" sighs Melo leaning his head back on Dev's sturdy shoulder.  "Boys are a fucking pain in the ass."  


Three proposals.  Basically, they are identical on the surface.  Fractional variations in cost and timeframes.  So the true decision is based at the executive levels.  Who are the CEOs and officers?

Hmmm, muses Julie Trang-Pagani taking a sip of white, pineapple juice with a splash of 7-Up on ice.  
Then a wild, bestial cry from someone she knew a long time ago fills the house with fear and misery.  Michelangelo.  Her husband.  The instinct is still to get up and check.  Like when he came home broken from the war.  But if she went to the room, she would hear the eerie, child-like voice of his girlfriend soothing him.  Calming him.  Keeping him alive.  

Julie trembles as her husband screams over and over again.


Julie covers her face as unbidden tears fall from the ghosts inside.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Alcoholic White Junkie Kids Upstairs

You hate the upstairs neighbors.  

The sanctity of the Monday through Friday work week means nothing to them.  You hate the way the two guys ALWAYS stomp around like beasts in heavy, black boots.  The slutty girl is sexy and you even think about her sometimes during your weekly girlfriend/fiancée screw...but she is the worst one of them all.  You hate her the most when it is 3am and they are blasting crazy, Mexican music and she screams her blood curdling AYAY-YAY-YAY-YAY! or BRRRAAAAHAAAHAAA!  From punk music to that damn rap music or oddly enough - country music, the only thing you could say about their musical tastes is they always play it LOUD.  Plus, none of the degenerates in Unit D can walk quietly up the goddamn stairs like normal human beings.  And when they're up there, they seem to enjoy yelling, screaming and throwing furniture at each other.  

You both love and hate your Victorian residence in the Mission.  It is quaint and historical with stunning architecture.  This place is a million miles from the midwest suburb you escaped from when you got a wild hair up your ass and said California...The cost is very reasonable as you religiously pay your student loans, taxes, bills and rent.  And you are so tired of your girlfriend/fiancée wanting to move to Potrero.  

"Nancy and Keith live there and it is SO peaceful.  No crazy alcoholic junkie white kids upstairs.  Explain something to me, my dear.  How the HELL can they afford that place while we're stuck in this Mexican shack?!" your girlfriend/fiancée wails.

You are too tired after another fruitless shift as a DVD Duplicator 2000 salesman to explain.  Again.  It is all the goddamn credit you borrowed so your girlfriend/fiancée can take her fruitless, foreign massage classes.  You are too weary to justify how a halfway decent DVD Duplicator 2000 salesman might make great commissions if it wasn't for the darn economy.  
Your girlfriend/fiancée just looks at you like you're an asshole.  DVDs are the future you find yourself muttering to her in the middle of the night as the upstairs unit shudders, shakes and reverbs with heavy bass music and primal screaming.  

Oddly enough, weekends are never the nosiest times.  But every Tuesday night they seem to go insane.  Maybe a crazy fight between the tall guy and the girl.  Screaming, walls shaking, glass shattering.  Or maybe a party with way too many people JUMPING up and down until your girlfriend/fiancée calls the cops.  Or like when the homeless guy threw a garbage can through their window and ten cops showed up with guns.  Seriously.  What the heck is wrong with these people?  

The odds of living in the Mission WITHOUT a Mexican neighbor is like 10 to 1.  I guess you are lucky.  You live below the alcoholic, junkie white kids.  Or whatever the heck they are.  They are certainly not the family oriented, quiet, industrious Mexican people that make up most of the neighborhood.  That is for damn sure.

"Go tell them to be quiet!" growls your girlfriend/fiancée 1,000 times a month.

Yeah.  Screw that.  While meeting the girl with the purple, pink, black or blonde hair might be interesting, what if the other two freaks answer?  One time, the tall guy stood in the middle of the street and screamed at cars.  He threw beer bottles until the short, bald guy dragged him back upstairs.  Oh and the tall guy had a butcher knife!  Merciful Jesus Christ, what kind of people are these?  Definitely not normal.  

The only tenant that has the nerve to tell them to shut the heck up is Neela in Unit C.  For some reason, they listen to Neela.  But that crazy hippie woman blasts the Bee Gees and vacuums every goddamn day.  Probably because of her four cats.  The same four cats that crap under your bedroom window making sleep disgusting in the summer.  You are probably the only normal person in this subdivided, Victorian nightmare house.

Oh well.  After a quiet, seven Coors Light night you wake up next to your snoring girlfriend/fiancée with burbling, stomach acid and the usual regrets.  The leftover, microwaved, spaghetti last night was terrible.  Only frozen toaster waffles and instant coffee in the chilly, San Francisco morning gloom are there to comfort you.  But duty calls.  You mentally prepare your telephone sales pitch as you shave.  As you put the final touches on the 
DVD Duplicator 2000 salesman look, you hear them approach.

The tall guy and currently, pink-haired girl come stomping up the path with the rising sun at 7am.  No doubt back from one of their debauched outings.  And your day is just beginning.  The 7:22 am Muni to work awaits.  Just like every Monday through Friday.  Clockwork and steady.  You know this will pay off.  Soon?  Please Jesus?  

You can hear them bantering back and forth and laughing.  Very much wide awake like people who have not slept yet.  Drunk people on drugs.  No future but annoyingly happy.  For a moment, you can vaguely remember the good old days.  Days before reality kicked in and started kicking your butt.  Then, the girl sings in a high, clear voice, "Hey Mike: You know we've been noticing you've been having a lot of problems lately!"

What in Sam Hill...?  Your name is Mike.  You approach the double bolted, chained door and stare.

The male laughs and flicks a cigarette at your door as they stagger towards the stairs arm in arm.  My god, he is wearing more black eye liner than the girl and looks like a ghoul. 

"All I want is a Pepsi!" he laughs, squeezing the girl closer.  

As usual, the girl is barely dressed.  Black leather jacket, half shirt and tight jeans.  You notice her jeans hang obscenely low and your heart beats a little faster.  A gold chain dangles across her belly.  It flashes in the security lights like a lost dream.  They STOMP up the stairs in their cursed boots.  And you stare through the peephole for two reasons.  From the weird fisheye peephole angle you can watch them go up the first six steps that shake your apartment windows.  The way her breasts bounce up and down as she goes merrily up the stairs is reason enough.  Sometimes she doesn't wear a bra and has 
tits that stand up and say Hi!  Youth is definitely wasted on the young.
But the real reason is it is time to put your game face on.  A block walk to the Muni bus stop is waiting.  You do not want to come out in the salesman suit as the freaks parade by.  They always laugh when they see you.  

So you straighten your Wednesday, red-striped tie and swallow the last gulp of instant coffee.  As you check your mustache in the hall mirror for waffle crumbs, their stereo kicks in loud enough the vibrate your girlfriend/fiancée's porcelain Disney figurine collection.  The noise is muted through 100 year old wooden walls but you clearly hear and feel the thudding, reggae beat.  You saw only two people go up yet hear a whole chorus of drunks start screaming, "THINK YOU'RE IN HEAVEN BUT YOU'RE LIVING IN HELL!"

Amen to that.  Damn those alcoholic junkie kids upstairs.  But time to go.  Let the girlfriend/fiancée moan about this morning.  She needs to find a real job instead of whining all the time about money.  Another day awaits you.  

It's business time.            

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Ghost Comes In


"HEY!" yells Jason.  "Open the fucking gate!"


"Oh my GOD!  He fucking forgot his key again?" groans Kym.

I look at the clock and it's 4:23am.  Poor Kym has to get up at 5 for her morning shift at the Ferry Building.  Kym rips the comforter off me spilling me from our cozy bed to the icicle air of our unheated room.  Kym curls up in a protective ball, rolls over so her butt points in the air and pulls a pillow over her head.


"OPEN THE GATES OF MORDOR!" bellows Jason in a deep voice.

"Jesus fucking Christ!  Let him in babe!  Tell him I'm gonna kick his ass when I get home."

I put on Kym's flamingo pink robe because I'm naked and the robe is fuzzy, warm and smells like Kym.  I yawn as I make my way to the door. I open it and look down.  Jason is plastered against the metal gate like a squished bug staring at me.

"Damn girl!  You look gooood" purrs Jason.

I unlock the gate and he suddenly lunges at me.  Jason is freakishly strong and easily pins my arms and kisses my cheek as I try and shove him away.  He smells like cigarettes, alcohol and pizza.

"Get off!  Jesus!"

"No.  Not Jesus.  Jasonus!  And I bring you miracles" says Jason slipping me two tiny yellow balloons.  Yellow means quarter gram I think.

"Really?" I ask as he jogs up the stairs.

"Yeah really.  Guy didn't have cash and traded.  Fool!" he yells as he bolts up the last few steps and slams the front door closed.  I hear the lock click.

"Show me your tits!" Jason demands.  I know he is staring at me through the peephole so I flip him off.  The door opens.

"Aww don't be that way" says Jason insincerely.  "I'm gonna go pass out for awhile.  Hey you wanna go meet Kym at the Ferry Building later or lunch when she's off?"


"Cool.  I know she has to get up soon so I'm gonna take a huge coke and beer shit.  Been saving it for home!" chuckles Jason disappearing into the bathroom.

I shake my head and look at the balloons.  Black tar heroin.  Then the phone rings.



And the floor falls away.  A voice from the past.  I pick up the phone and drag it over to the couch, untangle the line and sit down.  The room is covered in shadows and gloom.  A moth drifts by my face.

"What time is it in California?" Mary asks conversationally.

Odd start as this is my ex.  Last time we spoke, she was crying because I left her at her brother's wedding for Kym.  I can detect a sniffle in her voice like she has a cold.  Or she's been crying.  I look at the VCR/DVD clock.

"It's 4:44 am"  I answer pondering this odd, numerical configuration. "Where are you?"

"Australia.  Night time here.  I'm finishing up my internship in Sydney.  Immunology" she laughs nervously.  "Am I bugging you?"

"No.  You OK Mary?"

"Yeah..." her voice trails off and she sighs.  "No.  I just got dumped."

"Oh.  Sorry."

"It's ok.  Still seeing that red haired girl?"

"Yeah.  Well her hair is blue now."

I hear Mary laugh.  Then I hear her gulp something and wince. Probably red wine knowing Mary.  Here it comes.

"My boyfriend Scott, well ex-boyfriend now, broke up with me because I told him something.  And I think I should tell you too."


"Remember in the dorms how I left school the last semester?"

I did.  Mary broke up with me, moved home and most of the summer passed.  Then one night, she called me.  Somehow we started going out like nothing ever happened.


I hear another gulp.

"I left school because I was pregnant."

It is almost 5 am.  A new day awaits.  The mundane, comfortable view of my life vanishes.

"Wait.  How...I mean when...what?"  I gather myself and light a cigarette while she takes another sip.  "What the fuck Mary?!  Why didn't you tell me?  What happened?"

"What happened?  I got an abortion!  And I didn't tell you because...I don't know!  I couldn't deal with you ok?  So I just did it and pretended like nothing happened.  But it did happen.  And I think about it all the fucking time!"

Mary never swears so this shuts me up.  And I shiver in this silly pink robe as a shadow bends over me and studies my face.  A chill from it's presence breathes through me.  So cold.  Beneath the ground cold.

"But...but why?  Why didn't you tell me?!"

"Tell you?  Why?  What would you have done?  Huh?  Nothing!  As usual. Nothing!  I never wanted to tell you.  This was obviously a mistake. Look I gotta go.  Bye."

And the phone goes dead.  look around nervously because something terrible has changed.

I go back to the bedroom.  Miraculously, Kym is asleep with her ass in the air.  I curl next to her, feel her warmth, inhale her breath and stare at her face.  When the alarm shrieks I pretend to be asleep.  Behind closed eyes I hear her start her day.  I need this.  I need Kym's normal routine.  I hear her go in the bathroom, burst out and bang on Jason's door.

"You sick fuck!  The toilet's clogged!  I'm gonna shit in your bed!  Asshole!"

I smell matches, sandalwood incense and a cigarette as she fixes the toilet and curses.  Then she showers with the door open and blasts the Pixies.  Later, I hear her humming as she makes a peanut butter and honey sandwich for BART.  When she leaves I listen to her boots bouncing down the stairs and the metal gate slams Goodbye.  I crawl out to the living room with a sheet of foil and a lighter.  I think about my life and where this new piece fits?    Three years ago...So a two year old child?  Boy or girl?  Does it matter?

I am 21 years old.  A mountain fell on me.  The veil of reality is lifted just high enough to show me the Darkness lies everywhere beyond the illusion.  I smoke a trail of black tar and free the Dragon.  He curls around me protectively and I lean into his scaly, metallic warmth.  For I love my god.  The pathway to the Gods opens up through Kym's glass straw and my steady hand.  I move the silver square across flame and track the tiny dragon.  I exhale the sour taste and fade as the Darkness comes.  


"Yeah!  Super Leaf bitch!" yells Jason.

I wake up and feel an empty Keystone Light beer can falls off my head.  The TV is on.  Mario floats across his problems twirling a raccoon tail.  Outside, the sun thrusts beams of Light into our dreary flat.  And I feel empty.  

"Food" I croak.

"Hey Lover" says Dev who sits on the floor.  "We were waiting for you.  I'm going to Pericos to get some food.  My treat.  What do you want?"

In front of Dev are bones, shells, pebbles and playing cards.  Her hair is wet which means she came over to shower.  I sit up and rub my face.  The clock says 11:21 am.  Wow.  I was out.  Like I don't feel like I belong in this dimension yet.  Since Kym turned 21, we have been cash strapped and hanging out in bars, clubs and shows every damn night.  Piles of coke, MDMA and I gulp pills and psychedelics.  My body and mind is weary.  Without heroin I would never sleep in this madness.  My stomach rumbles.  Yes.  A free burrito sounds great so I lean forward to think.

"Mmmm carnitas?  Like just the pinto bean one with rice and salsa and guacamole?  But no queso.  No crème por favor."

"Ok.  Soy vegetariana so no crème too."

"Vegetariana?" scoffs Jason.  "Que?!  You ate pepperoni pizza last night with me at Donny's!"

"I'm a vegetarian except when it comes to pizza or chocolate cake" shrugs Dev.  "Or ice cream.  Or chicken noodle soup."

"Oh message on the machine dude" says Jason lighting a joint.  "Kym took a double shift at Financial."


That means she is working a 16 hour day.  Her tips and overtime are amazing but she comes home grumpy, demanding coke bumps and is still in manager mode.  Manager mode makes Kym a bully.  Like CLEAN THAT!  YO!  WIPE THE COUNTER!

So no BART trip to the Ferry Building as Kym is already heading towards Union Square.  Dev looks at me like she just noticed me.  And I feel it again.  That cold, empty feeling from my early morning call.  I can feel impossibly large wings beating over me as I sit on the couch pinned beneath Dev's stare.

"What" demands Dev, "is THAT?"


Jason looks at us and shakes his head.  He does not care for such things but I have learned to listen.  I lean forward.

"You can see it?" I ask.

"What is it?" asks Dev.

I look at Jason and then back at Dev.  I rub my face.

"Can this stay in the room?  Like no Kym?  Please" I say through my hands.

Looking through my fingers I catch Dev and Jason share a look.  Both look at me and nod.

"Sure" says Jason.

"Go" says Dev.

"Mary called after you went in the bathroom" I say to Jason.

"And that's why you smoked all that fucking tar?  I sat here watching you wondering if I should call an ambulance all because of Scary Mary?" asks Jason indignantly.

"Who's Scary Mary?" asks Dev.

"His bitch before Kym" huffs Jason giving me shit eye.

I look at the table.  A lot of burnt foil trail art.  Mazes for sad minotaurs.  And I still am really high, stupid and lost.  Like I don't belong here and if I close my eyes...I'll go away.  But I have returned.  And my friends stare at me.  I know I look awful when I nod out on heroin.  Stupefied.  Like eyes kinda open but staring at nothing with weird snoring.  Makes people nervous I'm dying.  I grab the half smoked blunt in the ashtray, fire it up and hit it.

"Oh that sad girl Kym shooed away?" asks Dev.

"Sad?" I ask exhaling ganja.  "You met Mary?"

"I saw her.  Her bitchiness was a mask.  Rage is sadness.  Hmm. Is that why...oh.  OH!"

"What?" asks Jason sitting up.

I grab a cigarette from the table and light it.  The marijuana is heavy but makes the world bright.  A place for truth in the light of the day.  If this was night, I would sit in the shadows and refuse to speak.

"She told me she broke up with me in the dorms because she was pregnant."

"Get the fuck out!" exclaims Jason.

Dev leaves her circle of bones, pebbles and shells.  She sits next to me.  Her brown eyes that search my face for...what?  She pats my arm.

"You let a ghost in.  A lost truth to wander around and follow you" says Dev.

"Damn dude.  That is some heavy shit.  Why did she tell you now?"

"I don't know" I answer.

Why do any of us do anything?  Why do I smoke to tell truths?  Why do I use heroin to escape truths?  I crush the cigarette out and re-light the joint.  I take a lungful and hand it to Dev.

"It was too much for her.  She had to tell you but don't worry Lover. This is sadness but nothing bad.  I can teach you how to be at peace with lost things.  Teach you how to put your happiness and dreams into future hugs."

I look at her, smile and shake my head. " know I love you but often I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Yeah Dev.  You sound insane" adds Jason.

"Oh it's not insane at all.  It is completely sane" assures Dev as she winks at me, takes a hit and passes it to Jason.  "For your children Lover!  All of them.  Make peace with this truth.  Talk to it.  Love it.  It's just practice for the future."

I stare at Dev and start laughing.

"Sorry Dev.  Really I am not laughing at you it's just...I don't think kids are in my cards.  Me?  Family?  Nah.  If anything Dev, use your powers to make sure I am always surrounded by women."

And as the words leave my mouth I know something is off.  A golden gear in my universe clicks into place.  Dev smiles at me mischievously and starts chuckling.  Quiet at first, then some giggles and then shrieking belly laughs.

"Oh my gods!  That's FUNNY!" laughs Dev wiping her eyes.  "No worries Lover.  Women will forever surround you."

I look at her and look at Jason who whirls his finger by his ear and crosses his eyes.  Crazy.  I fall back on the couch and light another cigarette.

"Why no Kym?" asks Dev.

"Yeah that's your woman dude" adds Jason.

Something about Dev's face tells me she knows about Kym's past.  And yes.  Kym shared this part of her soul with me but...but hell, I don't know.  The sorrow in Kym's past is deep and unhealed.  Now I have better view why.  Fuck it hurts so bad.  Like all the What ifs?  Mary had a right to decide but I wish I knew for some reason.  My mind races as Dev's eyes burn this day into my heart. 

I look at Dev and she sighs.  "But Lover!  Kym would..."


"Jasoooon!" sing-songs a female voice.

"Oh I uh invited Autumn over...HOLD ON!" he yells standing up.

Jason looks happy.  None of us like Autumn but hell, Jason hated Kym when he met her.  Dev grabs my hand and squeezes so I look at her.

"Why?" she asks.

"Because" I say simply as Autumn comes through the door sucking the moment out of the air.

"Hey" she says as she blows a bubble, pops it and sucks it through her teeth.  The sound is like crackling electricity.  She takes off her shoulder bag.

Autumn wears psychedelic horn rimmed sunglasses, a rip off Kurt Cobain green sweater, jeans, boots and Jesus and Mary Chain t-shirt.  She opens up her bag and pulls out a package.

"Fedex from my girl in the Emerald city" she says tossing it on the table.  "I need a knife."

Then she looks at me and Dev oddly.  Embarrassed, I realize we are holding hands and I pull away.  Dev watches me sadly.  Jason gets a kitchen knife as Autumn casually pulls a roll of cash from her bag and starts rapidly counting $20, $50's and $100 dollar bills.  She stacks them in piles on the side, counts again, rubber bands them into rolls. Jesus.  Thousands of dollars.  She cracks her gum and shoves the rolls into a Triscuit box.  The she takes the knife Jason gave her and slits open the Fedex.  Inside is a box of candy.

"You ever try Fran's?" she asks while looking at me.

I shake my head.

"Good caramel" she grins as she slits the bottom of the box and bundles of dope rain out.  She tosses me the top with with the candy.

"Jason get me some coke.  Let's celebrate" she says counting the bundles once and then again.

"Celebrate what?" I ask like a fool.

"Fuck if I know" says Autumn pulling off her sunglasses and selecting a bundle.