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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Thanks guys

You know I'm a lucky bastard because I get a lot of love from you guys.  I really appreciate the nice messages, the encouragement and donations.  Let me see if I can answer some of the questions...
  • To those of you who guessed ADHD you are probably correct.  I don't know but that's what they tell me.
  • Stories From the Moth People is almost done.  I know I say that a lot but I think the editing is just about wrapped up.
  • How I Killed My Father is totally made up.  Sheesh.  But I like how it bothered some of you because that's how I felt watching this weird family at the airport.
  • I'm not gonna say where I live but I no longer reside in Hawaii.  And I'm moving.  Again.  We're like gypsies.    

Once again MAHALO.  And to my struggling friends - Please stay strong, sane and stay safe.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mentally Ill

Stopping for awhile should be easy.  I can do this.  Sobriety will make studying for finals easier.  It will make my term papers coherent.  My life easier.  So why do I have four books open, two half-written papers and one incomplete assignment with only my name filled out?  Because it's hard.  It's hard to concentrate.  I keep thinking about being numb.  How all the noise just fades.  But mostly quitting is hard because my friends snort coke, use heroin and pop pills in front of me while I pretend to study.   An endless buzz of laughter, music and the schizophrenic, madness of group conversation rolls over me like waves.  

"Why are you pacing around, dude?" asks Jason.  

And I catch myself.  The kitchen window blinds do not need adjustment again.  I do not need to stretch again.  Don't touch all your books again.  I look at Jason and shrug.  Then I adjust the blinds, stretch my aching shoulders and sit down.  I move all the books around.  Then I tear a piece of paper into tiny squares.  But I make no move to study.

I've been eating a lot of acid.  Sometimes it helps.  Sometimes not.  I keep forgetting where I am.  But the couch is real.  Kym is sitting on it next to Dev watching MTV.  My vision is unfocused.  It mixes with electric light and the spirit world.  The brown, fractal sheets of the couch expand geometrically.  Voltaic ripples illuminate Egyptian hieroglyphics in the liquid.  Liquid?  No, the couch is solid.  I blink.  Change.  Flux.  Chaos.  This part is real.  I sigh and look down at my physics assignment on diffraction.  I've read the same problem over and over again.  I yawn again and rub my face.  Concentrate!  Maybe I should just finish the paper on polymers?  But I need to read this book.  I look at the text.  It's the same page I have read over and over and over again.


I look up at Dev who has joined me at the table.

"Yeah?" I answer while absentmindedly touching all the books again.

"Can I have some of your hair?"

"What?  No!  Go away!" I say looking down at my astronomy notes.  There is some good stuff here.  Stuff I can use.  But most of my notes are drawings of dogs piloting UFOs.  They're assaulting the Hubble Space Telescope.  I need Vince.  Maybe I'll call him because Vince knows a lot about phys-

"Very wise" says Dev in her eerie, wind-up doll voice.  "Never give a shaman your hair.  Or fingernails!"

"But I thought you were a witch" says Jason opening the refrigerator.  He pulls out Kym's juice, looks over to see if she's watching and takes three huge swigs and puts it back.

"Yeah, Khadja has that old witchy blood in her" says Dev.  "But not me.  I just feel everything.  And I do mean everything.  Like I know what you are doing right now, Lover."

"Babe, what are we doing tonight?" asks Kym while lighting another cigarette.  The spark flash hangs in the air between us like Creation.  I stare far too long.  Kym catches me staring, stretches two fingers like a 'V' in front of her mouth and waggles her tongue.  When I look up, she laughs.

"I don't know!" I shout exasperated.  "Kym I have to finish this-"

"You guys should stop by Slim's" interrupts Jason.  "I can leave passes at the door.  You gotta see this fucking band!  Lead singer has a cello.  He can't play it.  Just makes awful sounds.  But the bass is jazz and the drummer is that guy from Limbomaniacs."

"Oh!" yells Kym suddenly bolting up from the couch and dashing to the TV.  She drops to her knees before the glowing screen.  Transfixed, Kym's face is inches away from the TV as the video for Tainted Love starts.  Black smears around her eyes, wet raspberry lips and white, 
porcelain makeup in the glow of MTV.  My girlfriend looks like a flickering, black and white movie image.  

"All of you!" she commands.  "Shut it!"

"What's that all about?" asks Jason.  

"Everytime a video comes on from a song Khadja liked as a kid, she has to watch it" Dev responds.  "They didn't have cable growing up.  I don't think they even watched TV.  That's weird, right?  Me and sister were raised by a TV.  We called him Steve."

"Fuckin' foreigners, eh?" says Jason shaking his head in disgust.

"Kym's from Danville" says Dev.  "US of motherfucking A.  America, bitch.  Flags, hot dogs, baseball-"        

And they won't shut up.  On and on about nothing while I struggle to read a paragraph or get a thought down...I close my eyes.  Think!  Embed the formulas in your brain...But I can hear them.  They don't talk.  They YELL.  Every single one of my fucking friends is a motherfucking shouter!  And the TV is on!  Blackhole Sun by
 Soundgarden.  And the stereo is on!  Cure's Disintegration!  It's maddening...All of this sound is crushing me.

"TV makes you stupid" says Jason.

"I like it" chirps Dev.

"Hey, where's my credit card?" demands Kym.  "I need to get some cash."

"It's on the mirror, cokehead."

"Oh my fucking god!" roars Jason.  "I got it!  This Mickey's cap puzzle has been driving me nuts!  It's 'Shoot for the stars!'"

"Lemme see" questions Dev.  "Yeah.  Probably."

"That was awesome!" Kym declares.  "Now I have to see their Sex Dwarf video!"

"I don't think they can show it on MTV.  It has tits.  And dwarf butts."

"Hey let me see that puzzle!  Oh Jase, you are stupid aren't you? The answer is is so simple a drunk, frat boy could figure it out."

My mind is captured by their conversational anarchy.  So LOUD.  I sit at the table, pick up my books and try and find where I left off...should I write a paper?  Read?  Finish the astronomy?

"Lover" sing songs Dev.  "Do you want me to wake you up?  Or do you want to be here?"

"What'd you do without TV?" continues Jason.

"Calculus" says Kym.

"Oh and how'd that work out for you?" laughs Jason.  "Get me a double latte with skim organic goat milk."

"Lover?" asks the Priestess in a new voice. 

I close my eyes.  I can do this.  I can focus.  I can-

And everything changes.  I remember this sensation as a child.  All the voices spinning around me, all the faces and the furniture and insects crying out in garbled, unison.  Perplexed doctors, angry teachers, terrible report cards.  I can smell mom's Avon soap as I struggle to find my way home.  Wait, which home?  Do I have a home?  And the voices have changed.  Happiness to sorrow.  Sorrow to euphoria.  Voices, voices, voices pushing me into the cold embrace of the earth.  They are coming.  They cover my face.  Tiny moths licking my eyes, filling my nose, mouth and ears.  Soft, powdery wings drowning me.  Yet they love me as they push me into the dirt.  They fill me with their human kindness.  If just for a moment, I am alive.

"I need it for her pre-school.  Shit!  How are we going to pay the mortgage this month?"

"Hi!  What's for dinner?"

"Daddy!  Look at my painting!"

"Catalytic converter?  How are we going to pay for that?  What does it do anyways?" 

"Close the door.  Have a seat.  Now this is the third time you've been late this month..."

Make it stop.  Make it stop, makeitstop, makeitstopmakeitstop, makjesystd, $%$^&*($!#(&%%&^#)*(*#&^@&%&@%*&@^*&^(*@&)(&#&^*&^@(*&@)(*_!*!_(*(&@^&*&^!%!(!&*!(&(*@^*&^*@^*&@&(#*&#&*%^&&$!#$%&*^*&)*()&@^%*(!&(&)

A field.  Green grass topped with laughing, red flowers for miles.  Before me is a house.  Yellow paint flakes off rotten wooden beams.  The roof sags in on one side.  A parrot flaps it's wings, cries out and wheels upwards into a hostile, blue sky.

"You ready?" asks the old guy.

I look at him. We're sitting 
on cheap plastic chairs.  An enormous, fiber optic wire spool lays between us like a doll's table.  He is older.  Black suit, red tie and a black overcoat.  Pale skin, a salt and pepper goatee, half shaved cheeks and bruised slugs beneath his eyes.  Puffy, swollen and unhealthy looking.  

"For what?" I ask.

"I gotta give you the low down" he scowls.  "You're here, man."

He wipes his nose, looks briefly at me and then away.  He's always moving.  Twitching.  Messing with shit.  His hands wander around like migrating beasts.  He vibrates one knee maniacally while the other foot taps to an unseen rhythm.  

"But where am-"

"Ok!" he interrupts.  "So the water pump is like one at Eagle Lake.  The generator is self explanatory."  He walks around the house and I follow.  I watch him crack his neck and have the insane urge to copy.  

"Don't leave the porch lights unless you like bugs" he continues as he reaches out, rips a stalk of grass and starts to tear it into tiny pieces.  "Toilets on a cesspit so don't dump anything like-"

"Oh my god!" I yell as the dog approaches us.  

He's majestic.  A shaggy black and brown, fuzzy-wuzzy teddy bear of a dog that stands man high.  Bugger has to weigh at least 150 pounds.  He looks at me with a serious face, sits down and watches.  And I feel like crying.

"Mookie?" I ask him softly.  His ears pop up, his tongue comes out and he runs to me.  I bend down and laugh as he licks my face.  "Mookie!"

"Yeah Mookie's here" says the man with a smile.  

Mookie sniffs the man's hand, licks it and jumps on me whining.  He tries to curl up on my belly but he outgrew this spot long ago.  Mookie.  My dog.  My very dead dog.  My best friend from days long forgotten.  He jumps and circles me.  Always so conscious of his enormous size, he jumps straight up which lets me grab him midair for a hug.  After he squirms away, I look for a stick to throw.  The man clears his throat.

"There is an old well in the field" drones the man as I shove my hand into Mookie's mouth, grab his lower jaw and shake his enormous head back and forth.  
"Nothing around the well" continues the man.  "It's just a hole.  But a very deep and dangerous hole.  Don't let Mooks over there."

"Sure" I agree rubbing Mookie's ears and headbutting him while he licks my face.  Doggie breath.  The smell reminds me of being safe.  Laying in bed with a huge, stinky dog without racing thoughts of fear or sorrow.  I look up at the man but he is gone.  I look down at Mookie but he is gone.  
There is nothing here but the wind slithering through the grass and strangling softly to death at my feet.  

I walk forward and yell, "MOOKIE!  HERE BOY!"  

And I hear him bark.  Distant.  Echoing.  But I have eaten a lot of acid and sometimes perception can be an issue.  I wander into the field.  The grass is chest high and sways like the sea.  I follow the sounds, treading carefully.  And there it is.  The shattered remains of a well.  The rocks have long fallen away and lay scattered around the hole like teeth.  The gaping mouth screams soundlessly at the vigilant sky.  Now the sun is setting.  Slivers of a vibrant blue bleed to purple as the Universe reveals itself.  Owls call to the approaching night and an eight-pointed star rises in the East.  I peer inside the hole but see nothing.  The Darkness is complete.

"Mookie!  Don't worry buddy!  I'll get you out of there!" I reassure him as he whines.

I race back to crumbling, old house and find a rope and bucket.  I tie the rope to the bucket handle and lower it into the mouth.  Mookie is known for his happy demeanor and 
freakish size.  But Mooks is not known for listening or following directions.  

"Ok, Mooks" I explain, "get in the bucket!  You can do it!  C'mon buddy!"

Mookie whines while my mind grapples with the absurdity of a 150 pound dog climbing into a 5 gallon bucket.  But the rope grows taunt.  He did it.

"You in buddy?" I grunt as I square my feet.  I might be able to pull him out.  Maybe.  I wrap the rope around my hands and pull.  The bucket is not heavy at all.  Or I have grown psychotically strong.  I look into the Darkness and pull.  A shape forms.  I see eyes looking upwards towards a dissolving blue sky.  Human eyes.  But instead of doing the sane thing and letting go, I keep pulling.  The old man rises out of the hole.  He's still dressed in his shabby, black suit and overcoat with both feet planted in the bucket.  

"Last night I dreamt..." the man sings.

This song.  This fucking song.  I have heard it 1,000 times.  A record my girlfriend plays over and over again.  The piano, the roar of voices and the sudden clear, sound of an exquisite melancholy.

"...that somebody loved me." I finish while pulling.  The man steps out of the bucket and looks at me sadly.

"You know how you always hope it gets better?" he asks me.  


The man looks at me for a moment.  Then he shrugs, turns his back and walks away.  I let go of the bucket and hear it tumbling forever.  In the distance, a curtain of fire burns across the field.  Red flowers swaying like madness as long gray shadows cover the field.  

And I can see and hear everything.   Voices like flames devouring all.  Everyone is talking at once.  They swirl around me like spirits of the void.  Colors bleed into each other, huge anime eyes.  And then a terrible, ringing silence.  

"What?  You're talking too fast" says Kym putting her arm around my shoulder.  "Take a deep breath.  You ok, babe?  You're all sweaty."

My eyes open and my life is torpid.  My house is a painting that melts slowly.  All their eyes are on me.  They seem still.  Statues stuck in mud.  But when I focus, everyone is in motion.  Kym is talking but I can no longer listen.  Jason distracts me by moving across the linoleum forever.  Each step from his steel-toed boots explodes in slow motion.  Then Dev stands up and walks normally across the room.  She smiles at me, calmly reaches forward and puts her hands on both sides of my face.

"You can't breathe.  It's time to wake up."


They tell me when I scream at night, the sound is terrible.  A hysterical, moaning wail pushed out in wheezing gasps.  Louder and louder until I choke out.  My wife is looking at me.  The kids are hovering by our door.  The cat is concerned.  I'm still halfway in the dream but the tiny faces of my sleepy children bring me back.  It's not the first time I've woken everyone up screaming.  After we get them back to bed, my wife begins.

"You have to go to the doctor" says my wife.  "You have to get back on the meds!  This is annoying!  And dangerous!"

I shrug and flip over my sweaty pillow.  This happens when I quit using any opiate.  The detached, euphoria cracks and life pours down the well.  The sadness and psychotic realities that never left start screaming again.  The meds they gave me as a kid and the ones they gave me as an adult don't make it go away.  But they do reign my mind in.  I can focus.  I can breathe.  But I don't like my medicine.  I never have and never will.  Exercise, proper diet and forcing myself into society is my cure.  You see, the trick is making them think you're normal.  Do this long enough and you actually become normal.   


Monday, May 16, 2016

How I Killed My Father

The End, pt.1

"I know this is a difficult time and we appreciate you coming down" smiles Sergeant Madison pushing a stack of paper towards me.  She digs in her bag and comes up with a pen.  She hold it in the air daring me not to accept it.  I look down at the fake wooden table, reach out and take the pen.

"Didn't I do this already?" I ask studying the thick report.  This is ridiculous.  Such a huge stack of paper for a stupid old man that fell down the stairs.  

"Any accidental death is always documented" shrugs Sergeant Madison.  "For public safety."

"Public safety?  He fell at home!" I complain.  

"I understand, Mr. Turner" she says soothingly.  "But we need to finish our investigation."

It sounded like Sergeant Madison emphasized the word 'investigation'.  But maybe I'm just paranoid.

"We need to make sure there are no public risk.  Like environmental concerns.  Or criminal" she adds casually.  "So let's review, sign and get you out of here ok, sir?  Make sure you sign it James P. Turner like it says on your ID."

And we go through it.  Again.


The Creature

I got kicked out of school for selling pot.  The school never pressed charges, but they did kick me out.  That's how I ended up back home.  In three years, home changed a lot.  My sister moved out, my mom started working and dad is crazy.  Mom and sis call him 'The Creature' which is pretty fucked up until you have to deal with him.  The real irony was dad was once a prominent psychiatrist.  Now he's a slack jawed, drooling, idiot that wears diapers and 
only cares about toast.  Butter and crumbs smeared across his unshaven face.  Slice after slice into the toaster.  While he feeds, there is a feverish glint in his eye.  His last spark of humanity.  

When I moved back, dad had no idea who I was.  He thinks I'm Mexican.  My presence makes him paranoid.  But I need breakfast, so I go down the stairs into the toast and urine-scented kitchen.  After two days or not bathing, dad smells pretty ripe.   

"Good morning, dad" I smile.  

My father stops buttering his toast and stares blankly at me.  "What are you doing here, friendo?" he asks in a hostile tone.

Friendo?  He's never said that one before.  "Uh dad, it's me.  Jim.  Your son."

"How dare you talk about my family, amigo?"

"Ok, dad" I shrug pouring milk over cornflakes.  I think about making coffee.  

"I'm not assigning any blame" says Dad putting two fresh slices into his toaster, "but my CD-ROMs are missing."

"Ok" I answer looking for coffee.  Mom buys the good stuff and I need to find the grinder.  "What's a CD-ROM, dad?  Is that like old music or something?"

"You have stolen my money and burned down the tower" says Dad.  "I am calling the lawyer and police."

I look up.  His face is bright red with anger and his lips are covered with spittle and crumbs.  Maybe I'll skip coffee.  "Ok dad.  See you later."  

Ten minutes later, the cops showed up.  The police know our house well.  My dad has called the cops on my mom, my sister and now me.  He also calls 911 because of midget burglars or ghosts peering into windows.  It was the first time the cops saw me so I was handcuffed while they investigated dad's accusation.  Mail theft.  A call to mom solved the problem but now I began to look at dad differently.  After the cops left, dad goes back to his toaster.  I disconnect the kitchen phone, lean close to him and whisper, "Fuck you."  


The Girl

Before I came home, all I heard about was Priya.  How wonderful she is.  How patient.  How much dad has improved since her visits.  
Priya is a home care nurse that helps three times a week.  But I like Priya for much different reasons than my family.

I haven't slept with many girls.  And I've never slept with anyone who wasn't white.  Priya is Indian.  Smooth, mahogony limbs.  Dark, laughing eyes that devour me as she peels off her work uniform.  I watched her work for a couple weeks before I joined her outside for a smoke.

"Do you have a smoke?" I asked Priya in the garden.

"Sure" she smiled slowly as if she wasn't surprised to see me.  "James right?"

"Yeah.  Jim.  Or whatever" I winced.  Not smooth at all.

"Priya " she said fishing a smoke out of her pack.  She lights it for me and I try not to gag.  I don't actually smoke cigarettes.


"No problem.  I'm not allowed to smoke on duty, but most of the old ones don't care.  Heck, most of the old ones don't care about anything but food.  Does it bother you?" she asked.  


"Brrr!" she shivered, "So cold!  I wish we could smoke inside.  It's hard to enjoy a smoke in this wind!"

"You can smoke in my room" I blurted out like a fool.

And thats when we started fucking.  Soon, Priya would just come over, spend a few minutes with dad and turn on some youtube music for him.  Most of her shift was spent lounging in my bed.  Only on Saturdays, when mom is home, does Priya do her full routine.  But mostly we screw, eat and lie in bed watching Netflix. The old bugger even got jealous a few times.  We could hear him shuffling his walker to the stairs and slowly climb them.  Annoyed, Priya would dress, walk out and reprimand him to return downstairs.  Always talking slowly in her cheerful soothing nurse voice that never quite matched her irritated expression.  

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays became my favorite days.


The Boyfriend Project

It's complicated, but Priya says I am now her boyfriend.  We never go out.  We only meet here.  She's playing me.  I get it.  But man, those dark eyes peer straight into my soul.  Or maybe my penis.

"Your room is huge!" says Priya settling into my bed and turning the flatscreen to my computer which is now loaded with her music.   

"Really?  Well, what's your room like?"

"I share a room with my aunty and my little sister" says Priya.  "Our whole apartment is barely this big.  You guys have a really nice house.  First class!"

 "Thanks" I shrug.  I never really thought about it.  It's just always been my room.  I open the window to let out the smoke and see my pipe.  Stoned and playing Xbox is how I pass most of the day.  "You want some of this?" I hold up a crumpled bag of weed.

"I wish!  Mmmm!" she says smelling bag.  "But I can't.  Drug tests."

"Your job?"

Priya narrows her eyes at me as if trying to guess how much I weigh.  "No James.  Court.  Probation."


"Can you keep a secret?" she smiles mysteriously.  

"Yeah, of course" I say sitting up.

"Ok.  I got in some trouble awhile ago.  Meth mostly.  But I stole credit card numbers from my uncle's restaurant."

"Whoa" I nod in disbelief.  But then, I get lost in the lines of Priya's body.  Her high, pointed breasts are unlike anything I have ever seen.  She never wears a bra.  It's like they're sticking up to say 'Hi'.  Priya covers them with a pillow and smirks at me.  I blink and return to our conversation.  "You stole people's credit cards?"

"No.  I just took pictures with my phone.  This guy I bought meth from used them to order items to his neighbor's house. It was stupid."

"What happened?"

"My family never pressed charges but there's like, all these laws when you steal cards.  So I was charged.  They made me testify against my friend.  Sucks but it was his idea.  I also wrote letters to all the people I swiped.  Since a lot of them are Indian, they wrote back on my behalf.  Can you imagine?  But the bitch judge still sentenced me to twenty days in jail.  I got out in seven.  But I'm on parole, so I have to pee test."

"You were in jail?  That's crazy Priya!" I say in awe.  "What happened to your friend who used the numbers?"  

"I don't know" Priya shrugs unconcerned. 

"Damn" I say wondering if I should put my arm around her.  But she doesn't look upset. 

"It's ok, James.  I still get high.  Just not weed or meth.  I miss meth but the painkillers I get for my back are decent in a pinch."

"You have a bad back?" I ask wondering if this is a good excuse to rub Priya.

"No" she yawns and stretches her body.  "I just wanted the pills.  I get some from the old ones too.  Your dad has hydros in his bathroom.  Just 5's but heck, I bet you knew that."

My dad's bathroom smells like pee.  He pee's a lot.  He pees in his diaper, in his bed and in a bucket near his bed.  I avoid his bathroom like the plague.


"You don't take any of his painkillers?" Priya asks incredulously.

"No.  Why?"

She looks at me and smiles.  "You care if I partake, James?  I've been counting them.  He doesn't use them.  Two refills left.  We should get them.  Like he cares.  Right?"

Priya is topless, drinking a Monster energy drink and smiling at me in bed.  

I agree.


The Ice Floe

"Your mom has real Tiffany!" remarks Priya as she eats McDonald's french fries off her smooth, naked belly.  

Tuesday.  She came in, turned on dad's computer to youtube and rode me in a manner that satisfied about 5,000 fantasies I've had since her last Saturday visit where I could only look, but not touch.  She came up with her McDonalds lunch and a lit cigarette.  I make a mental note to open the downstairs windows as mom has a good nose.  I watch Priya eat.  She only eats Happy Meals.  I have a growing collection of Pokemon toys on my window sill.

"Oh, you saw the silverware?" I ask.  

"I meant the lamps in the hallway!" says Priya.  "You have antique Tiffany silverware?  First class!"

"Yeah, I guess" I smile.  Priya's weird expressions never fails to amuse me.  

"You guess?" snorts Priya.  "You're the eldest son!"

I think about this.  I am the eldest son.     

"You get everything, right?" asks Priya dipping a fry in ketchup.

"Everything?" I ask.

"Yeah" presses Priya, "everything.  Like my little brother gets everything.  Me and my two sisters get nothing.  They always leave it to the male heir.  America too right?"

"I dunno" I answer truthfully.

"You DON'T know?" asks Priya incredulously.


"James" she says wiping her greasy hands on my down comforter and pointing at me.  "You are the first born son.  How can it not go to you?  Who will carry on the name?"

"I don't know" I shrug.  Until now, my biggest concerns were Halo related.  The updates from Operation Hydra are amazing and make my shitty marijuana and home life ok.

"James!" says Priya more animated than I have ever seen her.  "Do one thing!"

She says this with such force I stop and stare, mesmerized.  "Ok, what?" I ask.

"You have to know your path.  Are you the heir or not?  The old ones no longer care, James!  YOU have to care.  YOU have to carry on.  Not your mom or your sister!  You are the man!"

"Oh I know" I say not knowing.

"You have to be ready James.  All of this" she says gesturing around my room, "is YOURS.  What are you going to do?"

"Do?" I laugh.  "Priya, my dad thinks dwarves creep in his room and steal checks.  It's all good."

"Ok" smiles Priya.  "Remember this conversation when you get nothing and are left with nothing.  Believe me, I know greedy relatives.  You don't secure your seeds and you get what you did not plant."

"Plant?" I ask confused.  Some of Priya's sayings don't quite hit home.

"Whatever" she flashes in anger.  "In my experience, the old ones long forgot about what needs to be done.  These days, they live too long.  If you are OK with nothing, I guess I am too."



"Hi dad" I say walking into the kitchen.  I smoked a bong hit before I came down and can already taste the cornflakes.  Maybe I'll make coffee.  Coffee sounds amazing.  

"You should know" grumbles dad, "I have drawn up a document.  You will be out of my house once I get the lawyer to file it."

I sigh and start to move faster.  Maybe just cereal for breakfast.  Plus the pee stench is extra acidic this morning.

"Also I am getting a TRO against you and that Negro woman who steals my pills" says dad.  "There were 17 pills on Saturday.  Now there are 7."

I look at my dad.  The Creature stares back.  An electric POP! shatters the air between us.  He calmly reaches for his toast.          


 The Accident

My dad is halfway up the stairs.  I see him gripping the metal bars of the stair railing as he pulls himself slowly up.  Fucker.  On quiet feet I stalk forward and ascend the stairway.  Our stairs are carpeted.  His hearing poor.  He never knows I'm there until I am right beside him.  My face, inches from his ear.

"LOOK OUT!" I yell.

"Wha-" dad reacts surprised.  But his body reacts faster than his mind.

It starts to turn towards my voice...and fails.  I calmly climb the stairs and never look back as he whirls past me.  Without the railing, he falls.  The sound of his death is nothing.  Carpeted stairs.  A rolling, tumble.  A sack of stick and stones.  I pause at the top but do not turn around.  I can hear a deep, wet, snoring sound.  It grows in intensity, falters and abates.  The last snore is a tiny sigh.  Silence.

I go in my room.  Priya looks up from her magazine.

"I did it."


"What we talked about" I respond closing the door.  Her face looks irritated.  Then her eyes grow as she she understands.  I try to smile, but it doesn't work.

"You-what?" gasps Priya.  "What the fuck?!  With me here!  Your mom is home in an hour!  I haven't sent my work report!  What the fuck were you thinking, James?!"

"Sorry but-"

"I gotta get out of here" says Priya.  Her eyes shoot around the room and stop at the ashtray.  She grabs her cigarette butts, pockets them and grabs her coat.  "Turn on your stereo.  Loud.  In 30 minutes, call 911.  Say you found him like that but heard nothing.  Turn on your stereo!"

"But what about-"

"Do it!" shrieks Priya as she exits my room and runs down the stairs.  I hear the front door slam.  Ok.  I turn on the stereo.


The End pt2

At the hospital I waited with my sister in a room of empty chairs while my mom paces the hallway on her phone.  Unlike the emergency room which is packed, the hospital morgue is deserted.

"Well, now what?" I ask to my sister.

"Guess we need to plan the funeral stuff" she sighs.  "he never talked about this.  Burial or cremation.  Religious service or-."

"No" I interrupt.  "I mean who's gonna pay for stuff with dad gone?  Like my phone bill?"

My sister looks at me in disgust.  She's five years older and has always treated me like a stupid kid.  We never really got along.

"What are you talking about?  Like the will?" she asks.

"Yeah" I say sitting up straight.  "What's next?"

"Jimmy" smiles my sister condescendingly, "mom has had control of the trust for the last five years.  In case you haven't noticed, dad is not of sound mind...I mean, he was not of sound mind-"

And my sister starts crying.  This is the first time I have ever seen her cry.

"I gotta make a call" I announce.  I walk down the other hallway away from mom.  Looking up uneasily, I realize I am in the area where they store dead people.  Dad's in here somewhere.  I call Priya.  It just rings.  I hang up and try again.  Same.  

"C'mon" I grumble looking down the empty corridor.  Where are all the people that work here?  Finally she picks up.

"Don't call me anymore!  I'm blocking your number!" she whispers harshly into her phone.


"I don't know you or have ever associated with you James!  Good bye!"

Somewhere down the hallway, a door swings opens.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Maybe I Can Control It

Without trying, I have been clean for a month.  Went to Maui and kicked our heroin and cocaine habits.  The pills we brought over helped, but honestly, I never knew places like Maui existed on Earth.  Why don't we all live there?  It blew my fucking mind.  Kym led me by my hand and smiled.  She knows Maui.  Kym guided me to this dream state I might still be locked in...The moth's dream.  Am I still in the hospital after that Santa Cruz crash?  My meat kept alive by robots?  An interesting thought.

Yes, we suffered.  One cannot escape physical withdrawal no matter how many Salty Dogs you swill or Valiums you eat.  But I forgot about heroin.  How many people can say that?  Forgot about heroin?  I love heroin like a twin.  Like a soul.  But in Maui, I knew 
only beauty.  The fiery sunsets, the magical sea and my girlfriend glistening in tiny bikinis beneath a tropical sky.  I forgot about my life.  No one told me we could select this option.  Paradise.

When we got back, I did well in school.  Focused.  I finished strong and brought my GPA back up.  Then came Fall break.  Kym travelled with her family and I went north to my ancestral home.  We spoke on the phone a lot.  We spoke of love and how strong we have grown.  How bright and beautiful everything shines when the Darkness is kept away.  But we never discussed the chains.  The pleasures of city life.  Time passed.  Kym came back first.  I wish I could have been there to taste her smile but I was at my family reunion.  Four days later, I returned to the city of San Francisco.  


"Get out" says Carl illegally parking behind a firetruck, two cop cars and an ambulance.  One of my neighbors is being led away by cops while a crowd gathers.  "And don't leave anything because I'll throw it away."

"Yeah, whatever" I say grabbing my duffel bag, a case of beer and a two quart jug of Wild Turkey.  Book money from mom.  I kick the door shut and tap on the window.  When my brother looks over, I flip him off.


A deathly, cold wind whips trash down the sidewalk past streams of pedestrians on lunch breaks.  The hum of their voices is like 10,000 bees rising from a hive.  It mingles with the grinding gears of Muni buses, the bellow of car horns bouncing off buildings.  The chaos of the city.  I cross the street with a weeping woman who drags a suitcase.  When we get to the other side, I carefully step around a pile of shit with a condom lodged in the swirled point.  A dead pigeon in the gutter stares at eternity.  Bored cops and emergency crews stand beneath gray clouds that slowly bleed across the sky.  I'm back.  I clomp up the stairs and drop my burden.  I fish the key out of my black leather jacket but it gets caught on a spike.  

"Fuck" I grumble yanking it free.  The door pops open.  "Whoa!" I blurt out surprised.  

Jason is in LA and Kym is at work.  I thought I was returning to a peaceful, locked house.  Autumn stands before me.  Red flannel, Blur t-shirt, black tights and weird, elfin boots.  So fucking MTV suburbs.  But this is my tribe.  My culture.  So I nod at her.  Autumn studies me while cracking her gum.  She blows a bubble.  "So..." she says.  The bubble pops.  I wait for her to continue but she just watches.

"Hello.  Autumn."  

I pick up my belongings and alcohol, slide past her look and walk into my house.  A voice cries out, "Welcome to your doom!"  The TV is on.  A werewolf battles a demonic pile of human flesh that throws heads.  An Oasis tape blares over the stereo.  Neither of my roommates are here.  They would never allow it to come to this.  They hate Oasis.    

"Lover!" comes a monotone, wind-up doll voice from the kitchen.

I walk inside, drop my bag and put the beer in the fridge.  
Dev smiles at me from the kitchen table.  A Vietnamese noodle salad is neatly divided in two portions.  The side in front of Dev is vegetable and noodle.  The other side of styrofoam container is chicken and noodle.  A box of wine sits next to a powdered mirror with a rolled up $20 bill and a credit card.  An abandoned game of Uno is scattered across the table.  Next to an overflowing ashtray, are pint glasses full of pink wine.  An SF Weekly is spread out and covered with a collection of glass pipes.  The smell of rubbing alcohol and cigarette smoke fills the kitchen.  Dev's eyes stare at a something 10,000 miles away.  Empty eyes.  Nobody's driving.  Autumn sits in front of the meat and noodles.  Dev blinks and looks at me with a huge smile.

"Give me kissy kiss!" demands Dev.  She stands up and falls back into her chair laughing.  She wobbles over, gets on her tiptoes to grab my shoulders and pulls me close to her face.  She kisses both my cheeks fondly.  "Aww, poor Lover!  You just missed Khadj!  She went to work!"

"What the fuck Dev?  That was like three hours ago!" frowns Autumn.  Then she stares at me.  "Hey.  You shaved your head.  It looks terrible.  Now you need a new nickname."

"Uhm" I say self-consciously rubbing my scalp.  When I was kicking, I decided to shave my head.  Thus far, everyone universally agrees, I look terrible. 

"Grow your hair back!" commands Dev.  "I miss your long hair!"  

"Ok, Dev" I smile.

Autumn picks up her pint of wine.  I watch Dev sway and wobble back to her chair.  She collapses and starts to slouch forward.  Shiny, faraway eyes.

"We need some ice" says Autumn.  "Box wine is better with ice!  Oh!  Do you have any rolling papers?"

"Maybe in-" I start to say but Autumn leaps up snapping her fingers in my face.

"I got it!" she says.  "We'll call you Auschwitz!"

"Oh my god!  You are such a fucking bitch Autumn!" says Dev.

"Oh're in The Tribe right?" babbles Autumn using chopsticks to eat slivers of chicken and noodle.  Then she points the chopsticks at me.  "Do you have any Zigzags?  Dev wants to roll a joint.  We're cleaning all the glass pipes!  Do you have papers?  No?  Do you have any ice?"

"My dad's Jewish!  I serve the Tree of Life you antisemitic grunge bitch!" says Dev squinting through one, angry eye.

"Yeah, yeah.  Sorry Dev.  Hey!  I got back today" says Autumn smiling sweetly at me.  "Like you.  But Jason is tomorrow.  I'm here to trade with Dev.  Boy for girl.  You like trading?  You need anything?  You cool, man?  Hey!  You guys have ice?  You want some noodles?  Meat or veggie?  I like meat.  They grill it good at Mr. Pho's!  Wanna bite?  No?  Ok then.  Carry on."

I look at them.  Dev is high on smack.  Autumn is high on coke.  Dev lifts a foot  showing me her underwear and a skinny, pale leg with painted toenails.  Electric versions of blue, red and orange.

"I told Khadj..." mumbles Dev who's eyeballs rise up into her mind.  I wait as she casually nods out, falls forward and face-smacks the table.  She wakes up, peels a Uno card off her forehead and carries on like nothing happened, "paint them techno Persian.  Cool, huh?"  Then she starts to nod again.  Her chin slow motion drops to her chest.  When it touches her Subhuman's t-shirt, she's gone.

I just spent my break with relatives who enjoy a rich and robust drinking culture.  Alcohol is one of the few things strong enough to hold me down, so I enjoyed myself.  I had to bunk with my brother and fell into his patterns of exercise and manliness.  We worked out at dawn regardless of how much we drank the night before.  
"Hangovers are for pussies", explained Carl.  Push ups, sit ups, stretches and weight training before the morning run to the lake.  Though I puked, I learned my body is not broken.  It's actually pretty strong considering how terrible I treat it.  Human existence is hardly frail and I no longer slouch beneath the smothering sky of opiates.  Like Dev.  Jesus.  Is this what I used to look like?  

"So?  Need anything?  Let me know.  Be here for a bit.  I wanna finish cleaning these pipes" says Autumn while viciously cracking her gum.  Her jawline muscles are vibrating with gerbil-like intensity.  "Secret is you gotta soak them.  Alcohol and salt.  Alcohol, salt and elbow grease.  Like new!  You have any ice?  Do you want some noodles?"

"Nah, I gotta unpack" I say taking in the chaos of the kitchen.  

Neither Autumn or Dev look or smell good.  Dev is asleep with one eye open, cigarette burns all over her t-shirt and Autumn has carved the word 'MEAT' into her arm.  Her other arm is bruised with needle holes and smiley-face burns from a lighter.  These girls are living a little rough.

"Ok and if you want to hook up the tar I got some" shrugs Autumn who swigs her wine.  "But I need ice.  Do you know where to get any ice?"

"Nope" I say picking up my stuff and walking down the hall thinking about being high...Heroin and cocaine would make my kitchen cozy again.  I almost turn around but keep walking.


I take a long shower and think about heroin and cocaine.  Either would hit the fucking spot after a month of being clean.  Hell, maybe I could control it this time?  I sigh and look at my face.  My eyes are my own.  Alert with properly sized pupils that adjust normally to light.  I am a carbon-based organism with the illusion of free will wrapped around my existence.  I think about heroin and cocaine.  But I also need a shave.

I use Jason's shaving cream and one of Kym's razors.  As I carefully peel away my feral scruff, I notice the counter.  A half cup of mint tea.  An ashtray with lipstick stained butts.  She's here.  Khadja.  Strands of purple and pink hair in her brush.  The thin, spiked collar resting atop a pile of jangly silver bracelets from a far, far away land.
  While thinking about her, I cut my neck.  A blood rivulet pierces the snowy white foam.  I finish shaving, wash my face and dab Neosporin on my cut.  Then I go lay down.  My room has molecular particles of Kym in the air.  Cigarette, myrrh, wildflowers and amber.  I am home.

Even with my door closed, the TV and stereo blasting, I can still hear Autumn.  Asking and answering question after question.  Talking to no one about nothing.  Did Kym experience this madness?  Is she still clean?  It's hard to say.  I could hook up right now if I wanted.  I am tempted because you never know when Dev and Autumn might wander away.  Did Kym score?  Cocaine is her flavor.  I think about heroin.  I think about it a lot.  The temptation is a whirling madness in my mind.  Moth wings brushing against my face in the Darkness.  I close my eyes and hear the voices of my friends and loved ones swirl in my mind.

"Heroin makes the pain go away.  But it costs us everything.  Everything, babe.  How much life do we miss?" says Khadja.

"This is but a blip in my biography, dude" says Jason.  "Makes living with you and the Devil's daughter easier to deal with."

"This is Daphne" says Devika patting the enormous girth of the eucalyptus tree fondly.  "She reminds us all that we too, can be strong."

"I don't know what's harder.  Putting a bullet right here" says Michelangelo pointing to the side of his skull, "or accepting this mess as life."

"Look at you" says Carl.  "Don't be a loser junkie vampire pussy faggot.  You're killing mom."

"Fuck it" says Autumn, "gonna die anyways."


From our window, we have a view of the neighbor's house.  A cable and telephone box with snarls of wire dangling like some alien jellyfish plastered onto the wood.  Above it is a sliver of sky we watch from bed.  Rarely is the sky blue in this part of the world.  I stare into a dull, gray nothingness and think.  Santino's Minimart.  Only two blocks away and I do need smokes.  Plus, there's an ATM there...I could get cash.  Just to have some on hand.  How long has it been?  Today is the 33rd day of no heroin or cocaine.  That is a long time.  I should feel proud.  And it does feel good.  My brain is mine, my cock is mine and my life is mine.  I wonder if Kym bought any cocaine?  I wonder if she bought any heroin?  I could just go get the money in case she did.  Then I'd have it.  Heroin and cocaine.  But I will wait for Kym.  There is nothing more important in the Universe than her smile.  Nothing...

"Nothing!" I say out loud to reassure myself.  I smile because it doesn't work and outside, the wind slams into the window and shakes it violently.