Monday, May 21, 2012

Week 8

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

                Wesley stood in front of the self-check-out at the library. “Out of order” was stamped onto a laminated page in large, bold, blue font.  He eyed the book tucked into his side, then eyed the librarian, an attractive young woman with whom Wesley had a class.
                Wesley started back for the shelves to return it, but hesitated. The self-check-out had been in need of maintenance for a week now. What was the chance it would be fixed before the end of the week? The essay deadline was coming up. He had no other option. He took the copy of Linda Williams’ Screening Sex and slammed it on the counter. The young woman scanned his card, scanned the book, and handed them back to him. “The book will be due back in three weeks,” she said.
                She would have turned to continue her work if she didn’t notice Wesley’s intense stare, his deeply red face, and the plank-like way he moved when he left the building. He burst into a sprint after passing the threshold.

Friday, May 11th, 2012

                At the age of thirteen, Gerald still hadn’t grown any hair. Having been studying U.S. History, he wondered if he could make any profit off of an impersonation gig, movie, interactive museum, or anything that may require somebody to perform as J.D. Rockefeller. He began investing his time in copying everything he could find about the tycoon, from his suits to his horrendously unethical business practices.
                When at the age of seventeen, the hair began growing in, Gerald was so committed to the role that he began shaving his head. Even the look was as dishonest as the money.

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

                It began with using your roommates’ body wash. Your reason for this was excusable. We all run out of our own hygienic products, so we borrow others. You didn’t expect to like the mixture of peach and lavender but you did.
                You used her deodorant because yours was terrible. It had a great smell but didn’t hold a candle to the downpour of sweat that sneaked on you, even at the slightest additional effort to hurry across a busy street. The smell wasn’t bad but it was nothing compared to the peach and lavender.
                God only knows why you started wearing her clothes. You were a guy who didn’t usually have a thing for cross-dressing, but her tiny brown suit would look pretty awesome on you. It did, despite the fact that it was a child’s size suit in comparison to your frame. You still figured you could pull off smaller clothes. Hell, the hipsters did it all the time. Why not jump on the bandwagon?
                Still, it’s such a shame that you walked all the way to class before you felt the shame of not being able to bend your legs to sit down, without risking the seams of the pants. You walked home in defeat, but that didn’t stop you from admiring yourself in the standing mirror as you entered your room, striking several poses before triumphantly muttering, “Hell yeah.”       

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

                 There were some places that were even too haunted for Satan to visit. He told me the other day, standing guard at the casino ATM, how at the hedge maze on Frost Avenue stole your cell phone reception when the sun went down, the footsteps would slide quietly but audibly through the gravel even when you were alone, and how small pieces of the wall would remove themselves and alter the path. “It could trap you in there if it wanted to,” he said, tapping a man on his shoulder.
                The man withdrew another hundred and I pulled out my phone to Google Map it.
                “Don’t go! I’m telling you!” he said.
                “But you’re Satan,” I answered. “You should know that when you’re told not to do something, you’re going to do it anyway.”
                “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers,” he said, “especially if it’s dated by a thousand years, retranslated, and bound in leather and bordered gold sheen, you understand?”

Monday, May 14th, 2012

                One day, an adventurer and a detective married.
                Nobody could understand what they saw in one another. The adventurer preferred the open air, the smell of the sea salt lashing up from the waves and crystalizing in the sun. The detective preferred the labyrinth of the city, the uncertainty found in the missing fingernail on a victim subjected to blunt force trauma. It was a long distance relationship for the most part, but even when they were together, holding each other close, the detective inspected the nape of the adventurer’s neck, running fingers, tongue, and mouth across the blemish. The adventurer held the detective and wished for once the detective would turn to admire the sublime beauty of the lonely seagull, the persistence of the tide, the wind growing cold over the water.
                Nothing about them was similar, yet they were drawn to one another, drawn to what could be rather than what was.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

                The tablecloth caught fire on the catering company’s burner, and Raymond vowed to keep quiet about what happened.
                The truth was: nothing happened. Everything was normal. The flame suddenly spread. Raymond had only been thinking about it when it had happened, so he was going to keep his mouth shut. He didn’t want to be blamed. Not that he could be blamed, not in the long run, but he didn’t want to get in any trouble just for thinking about it, seeing the fire fueled by gas spreading its flame like two hot appendages across the length of the table, and welcoming the entire reception area into its warmth.

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

                Some people listen to Beethoven in the midst of a warzone. They hide underneath the stairs, or in the cellar, and sometimes below the bed while the seventh symphony thrusts its horns in the dusted air. They wait for the sound of mud-drenched boots, foreign chattering, and the feeling of the boards bending below them as the troops gather around. They close their eyes and focus on the music. Some people can listen for something beautiful through anything.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Week 7

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012:

            The infant was found near a waterfall. Subjected to the noise, it was assumed to be deaf. On the contrary, it cried in the face of stillness as its new parents carried it home through the woods.
            The mother and the father took turns with certain responsibilities. When one held it, the other would collect twigs and break them, throw stones against the thick trunks of trees, and rustle the bushes that surrounded them.

Friday, May 4th, 2012:

            I used the rice cooker, but realized after learning how to use it I did not know how to clean it. I asked my friend how to do it. She said “It’s really simple unless it’s the Aromax 9-T Model.”
            That was my rice cooker. “What makes it different?” I asked.
            She shrugged. “Usually you remove the inner pot and handwash it, but you can’t do that with this model.”
            “But what about my Aromax?”
            She shook her head. “Search me. Don’t clean it though. It won’t work.”
            “What do I do then?”
            “Leave it.”
            “What if it gets moldy?”
            “Don’t throw it out?”
            “Why not?”
            “It’s cursed.”
            I rubbed my forehead impatiently. “You could have said that from the very beginning.”
            The pot sits in my basement. It’s been several weeks and I got myself an older model. Occasionally I check on the new model to see if anything has developed. The mold has begun to creep out and onto the cement like flat fin-like appendages. Ever since it’s been down there, things have been falling from the shelves, the lights flicker on and off, and occasionally I hear a table saw revving in the night. “Leave it be,” my friend tells me.

            Saturday, May 5th, 2012:

            Hours into his departure, the boy who ran away from his parents found refuge in a church. The front doors were locked, but one of the windows in the back was pried open, and so he climbed in. There was a terrifying thundering noise coming from above his head. The chorus of voices yelling back and forth at each other, arguing about what was valuable and what was not, gave the boy no indication that the outside world was any different than home.

            Sunday, May 6th, 2012:

            In an effort to make himself more visible during Halloween, he planted L.E.D. lights into his mask. When the both of them broke on the bridge of his nose, nobody could help but laugh at what he had done to himself: two scars stuck to his face like fat red leeches.
Monday, May 7th, 2012:

            Out at sea for seven years, I got your letter in Tangiers. Thought that I'd been on a boat, ‘til that single word you wrote. That single word it landlocked me, turned the masts to cedar trees and the winds to gravel roads. Idaho, oh Idaho.

            It was always easier to be taunted by the thought of a coiled snake nestled in the nook of a dune when you were still alive, and somehow it was cooler the closer we climbed to the sun. The wind blows its hardest at the top of those hot treeless hills that come into existence by pure chance.

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012:

            Tom Waits left behind the husk of his career that leaned on perpetual intoxication, but somebody possessed the genius to dig it back up, dust off the dirt, and make it every Monday night’s reliquary at The Shakedown. Now I and the other non-smokers smoke as if the sort of sacrifice we were making was worthy of his abandoned image.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012:

            Being immortal skewed Zed’s perception of time. He saw those who were alive and saw their future at the same time. A corpse hung onto the shoulders of every person like gravity. The rotting double cuddled closely at their backs when they slept and even came between two of them during sex, secretly meeting the pull and thrust of every couple. The only solution, Zed decided, for this problem of witnessing people’s unawareness of duality is to take control.
            When he began murdering people, he started with handguns and, but as he became more and more desensitized, he resorted to tomahawks, hammers, his own hands, and finally to the tediously repetitive motions of a small pin, which usually took an entire day to complete.    

Friday, May 4, 2012

Week 6

Thursday, April 26th, 2012:

                When the executioner cries out One! you begin to feel it. In the muteness of the blindfold, your sweat creeping through the threads toward your eyes, you realize that what you see now is your final memory, your last chance to take in the world before it disappears only to realize that your last chance was prior to your prison sentence and already the memory feels unclear. Two! A tugging feeling that pulls slowly from your head to your toes like silk slowly slipping away from your body. This is your soul. It’s slipping away and with your hands tied behind your back and your legs together, you have no hope of chasing after it. Three!  

Friday, April 27th, 2012:

                What makes the man said to stalk through the woods with a low-burning lantern so unnerving is how the light source seems to move with its own volition; that is, it is not an indication of where the man can be found. It merely gestures to the vastness by which everything disappears.

Saturday, April 28th, 2012:

                It’s strange how a short step from the train platform can alter so many ticket times, make so many phone calls to spouses, children, or academic conferences, and force the tired traveler to make due with sleeping on the divots between the chairs. My toes curl, my back sinks against the seat, and I wonder if I’ll see her here, punching moneyless numbers into a vending machine or turning the faces on the magazines around.

Sunday, April 29th, 2012:

                Chantelle came home to the sight of a small pair of footsteps leading from the back door to the birdhouse. She found her mother in the living room alone, her feet crystallized by ice. Countless times, she had told her mother not to go outside. Her mother, however, continued to insist on the existence of a small figure beckoning her from the entrance just beyond the wooden perch. 

Monday, April 30th, 2012:

                I unlocked the door to my suite and heard, prior to entering my room, a low buzzing alternating steadily between small differences in pitch through the wall on my roommates’ side. I stepped away and sat down on the living room couch. For a while, I figured I could wait to go in and get my textbook, but as her voice began to emanate, I began to feel like skipping class.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012:

                He was, for all intents and purposes, Patient Zero, the first to be diagnosed with the disease that caused distinct shapes to appear upon the skin of the person infected. By no means was it deadly, but it was incurable. Still, Patient Zero, and other patients alike, grew accustomed to the sight of familiar memories manifesting themselves on their bodies like tattoos.

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012:

                There’s nothing wrong with housewifery, she thought. A true breadwinner is a bread maker.
                She slipped the loaf from the oven and let it cool.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Week 5

April 19th, 2012
                The front page displayed a rare bird that hopped across the road and entered Gregory’s Market, tripping the wooden doorstop to the supply closet and locking itself in. Gregory’s son and successor, Francis, was too busy reading the front page of the previous day’s news to consider who went into the bathroom, and how long they had been in there.
                It took a few days and restocking the dairy products to realize the smell came from a carcass that had been torn apart by an unknown infestation of rats. The bird was disposed of by wrapping the newly outdated article around the body, picking it up by the leg, and tossing it into the woods.
                Needless to say, every day is a slow news day.

April 20th, 2012
                Frances’ only memory of her mother lay in the photograph. Shrouded in a silk sheet, she held her still; long enough for the camera film to reach the proper exposure.
                Now, as a teenager, she talks to her hidden mother who takes the form of a curtain, stored furniture, or the sound of a flickering candle’s breath.  

April 21st, 2012
                He has mastered the art of watchmaking to such an extent that he keeps all time by a watch broken at 8:16. It sits in front of him at the table, reflecting the moving daylight from its golden sheen to different intervals of the day. When the pinpoint of light reaches its minute, it strikes him in the eye, and he winces briefly, enough to conclude a day has passed since yesterday.  

April 22nd, 2012
                Hastings turned the key in the ignition and Reed pressed the button on his jacket. For a brief moment, an uncomfortable silence spread between the two of them. “Start the engine.” Reed said.
                Hastings turned the key again. The car wheezed but refused to start.
                “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
                “Should we call somebody?” asked Hastings.
                Reed shook his head. “I’m padlocked to the seat. The plan was to start the timer the instant you turned the key. Then you’d drive along the highway and speed through the motorcade and hit the limo. According to the precise nature of our timing, they wouldn’t have time to stop us. Naturally, the key turned, and I pressed it.”
                “We should have said when the engine started.”
                “Is it okay if I leave?” Hastings asked.
                “You’re going to leave me in this car to die alone?”
                “Well, I mean… since the plan is fucked.” Hastings shrugged. “Yeah.”
                Reed decided it would be best to refrain from saying anything for the rest of his life.

April 23rd, 2012
                The greatest pride Virgil had in his job was spending his break high up on the window washing lift, eating his bologna and cheese sandwich while dipping the squeegee in the dirt-and-soap water, and holding it out over the edge and shaking it vigorously. There was nothing funnier to him than watching a few drops of water plummet into the oblivion in the city, only to imagine that something so insignificant would ruin somebody’s jacket, hair, or day.  

April 24th, 2012
                I remember how my first trip to a synagogue was also my most memorable experience with the Jewish tradition, while at the same time, a freshly purchased blueberry and cream cheese bagel, a double shot vente black coffee from Starbucks, and a small slice of fudge aided me in understanding Yom Kippur from the middle row.

April 25th, 2012
                During the Christmas season, the nativity themed tour guided the visitors through Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Galilee, but in the summer at night, my friends call it Jerusahemilee. The men and women of that time are long gone, and the dust and hay settle on the abandoned structures and obscure the boundaries between each sectioned area. Even Christ’s empty manger is hard to find in the darkness, and my closest friend, when finding it misplaced by local pranksters other than ourselves, feels an eerie compulsion to return it to the proper building. But as the season fades into autumn, and the night becomes cloudier, it is hard to find anything. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Week 4

Thursday, April 12, 2012

                Marie Antoinette was frequently watched by curious aristocrats who wanted to see firsthand how she went about producing an heir. How were her legs positioned? What did she whisper to her king between the grunts of bearing his weight?
                She is dead, but everything else is still on display.

Friday, April 13, 2012

                The theater is historical in the sense that it still carries around its past between the path of pennies lodged above the doors and windows. Eventually though, like the Ouija board marketed by Hasbro, the building will be renovated, and the spirits will be given free roam once again.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

                Philip Marlowe is too old now to begrudge the women who only caused him trouble. Life at his age teeters on the abyss daily – the cholesterol in his eggs, the blood-thinning painkillers, the bending wooden stairs. No, he thanks them in prayer for bestowing within him a sense of adventure in his passions.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

                Petrov was almost asleep when a martyr of Christ kicked down the door with two fists of recently converted water. “Get out of bed,” he howled. “I want to hear your rendition of Hallelujah!”
                Petrov could never tell when his saint was divine or drunk, or if the tears were sincere when he repeated in sobs, “This song is about me!” but he continued to play without hesitation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

                When I imagined the horror of his lightness, I jerked awake in bed and prayed it wasn’t the body of a boy I knew. I wouldn’t think about that sort of selfishness until later, when I felt a part of me was assured by the possibility of the incident being somebody else’s tragedy.
                When I we were given a name and an idea of the time of death, and how people stared out their windows without telling anybody else about the body mangled in plain sight, I wished again that it wasn’t somebody I knew.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

                The cigarette in his breath bore down on my nose with the heat and scent of a cherry smothered in burned charcoal, and the tar on his tongue made it slick as velvet against mine. I cringe to think of how I want him to smoke more, drink more – how I want these vices to hold him like they do for me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

                Jack was always in a good mood so long as the tree was pink. He fell asleep frequently below the cherry blossoms and awoke to the soft new diadem crowning his head and backpack. During the spring, when the wind would blow down the main road, he would fill his backpack several times over with the petals, preserving them in plastic bags through the warmer seasons.
                When winter came, he removed his stock from the freezer and thawed each one, peppering his apartment in the autumn and winter, in a good mood once again.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Week 3

April 5th,2012:
He imagined they were all in love with him. Every gesture - an offered cup of coffee, a stare lasting too long, a well fit pair of jeans - was an invitation to the heart. "If only," he thought, "there was something I could do about my weird infatuation for having sex in socks."

April 6th, 2012:
I cut down the tree for her since she couldn't bear to relive the sight of her son swinging from the branches. She called me a week later, crying and asking what to do about the massive space encroaching on the kitchen through her window.

April 7th, 2012:
A moth flew through his window and proceeded to ram against his palm, the fuzz of its body and fluttering wings brushed against the inside of his knuckles. With every caress, he drew back his hand and shuddered. Too much gentleness became such an eerie thing.

April 8th, 2012:
Jesus can rise from the dead on Easter but nothing can kill the conversation between my stepdad and his mother about pornography. Somebody mentions semen and the gravy goes sour in my mouth. I move my plate to the kids' table and sit cross-legged next to my niece. She offered me a plastic teacup of Kool-Aid and I begin to feel thankful for people like her.

April 9th, 2012:
The growth on the leg of the girl in science fiction is a perfect circle beneath her torn jeans, and I can't help but marvel at the natural geometry. It looked like a scarlet hamburger, irritated either by something from without or something within, and alien maybe, or a large sac of eggs, is pressing up through her muscle. All of this comes to mind before I realize I am not paying attention in science fiction class.

April 10th, 2012:
Death is surprising in the way it works its way into a room and stays there. The raccoon who came to know this well was belly up in the tub, its claws tangled in the window's screen mesh and its eyes wide with invitation.

April 11th, 2012:
The one good thing about the apocalypse was that nobody at Ted's job required him to come to work in a white, buttoned down long-sleeve shirt and black tie.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Week 2

March 29th, 2012:
                The wind snapped the umbrella like a twig underfoot. The two unhinged joints left one side of the fabric limp like a collapsed lung. My anger soon dissolved into laughter as I caught sight of the windproof tag before tossing the ragged skeletal mess into the trash.
March 30th, 2012:
                Somebody knocked on the door. I went to see who it was but the peephole had been covered. I cracked open the door and found an empty hallway resonating with televisions, crying children, and the smell of cooking rising through the floor. A letter was attached to the other side of the peephole. Typed were the words, “I am watching.”
                I spent several nights with the blinds shut, pulling them back only slightly to see if any eyes were returning the vigilance. What I saw instead, in the apartment across the way, was my boyfriend locked in the arms of another man. His face was buried in the stranger’s matte of chest hair. With all the time I spent watching them, I completely forgot about my previous fears.
March 31st, 2012:
                First it was my roommate waking up at three in the morning screaming my name, demanding that I wake up. Then it was a light outside my roommate’s window, rising like a firework and cutting across the sky. The final phenomenon was the fluid figure running on all fours through the underbrush while my mother strolled in the arboretum. I shivered at the stories, and again at how close they had all been to me without so much as stirring me in the sheets.
April 1st, 2012:
                I thought nothing of her laughter until I could foresee no end to the noise. Her voice rose from a giggle to a chuckle to a laugh and finally into a cackle that forced her to thrust in her stomach and double over with her elbows in her gut. I set my book down and looked over to her, where I saw a demon hyena ramming its head against the inside of the young girl’s jaw. Eventually it unhinged and the strange beast escaped. The woman’s eyes rolled back into her head, and blood and saliva mixed into pale foam at the corners of her mouth. She passed out onto her latte and I resumed my homework.
April 2nd, 2012:
                On the library shelf there was a cross; its check out history a yellowed sheet wrapped around the edges of the crucifix like a shroud. Present dates conversed with the past in accidental intersections. I found myself enamored with the names and dates: Donated by Kenneth Carson, 1919. Stephanie Lynn, 1997. Martin Lancer, 1954. The list went on. I spent so much of my time pondering the potential fates of these names and their faiths that the hours passed and I hadn’t even considered the icon.
April 3rd, 2012:
                I donated my four dollars for a box of Girl Scout cookies. I ate them at home, hunched over the individual plastic cookie sleeves like a malfunctioning sewing machine tearing through the fabric. Even with the knot of nausea tightening its way into my throat, I continued to eat. As I lay in the bathroom, my stomach and head pressed against the tiles for their icy surface, weary from the sugar coma illness, I imagined the Girl Scout receiving a badge for her efforts.
April 4th, 2012:
                The mute man, who felt sad for the blind stranger in the waiting room, began to fear his own existence. Although the blind stranger sat in silence without any company, it was the mute man sitting in his company who could not be acknowledged without some form of interference. The blind man read The Possessed in braille and moved his lips. He was reading to himself, or talking, or maybe he was singing, connecting to a human mystery the deaf man would never master. The mute man had sight, but only the sight of the waiting room in its four whitewashed walls, a stack of slowly dating magazines, and the blind man who did not have to endure the sense of invisibility.