Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Starting is Simple

A peculiar blankness erupted in my head. I had plenty of things on my mind and they were doing a fine job of destroying me. But now at the prospect of being manifest outside of myself in spoken words all the troublesome bits rushed together and jammed in my throat. They became indistinguishable, lumped together into this vague statement:
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“If I had to guess I would say nothing,” he said. “You are doing nothing, at least, nothing meaningful.”
Snip by snip I dissected the blankness, and sip by sip the whiskey added its light-headed clarity.
“That’s right.” I realized for the second time today.
I thought about it hard and shot my whiskey. With the drink gone quick my face was free from the interruption of drink and adopted a very serious look.
“Don’t strain yourself, bud.” The man said. “What are you good at?”
“Good at?” I wondered, “Well, good at nothing. I’m okay at a lot of things.
“How does a guy get good at nothing and okay at a lot of things?”
I thought about it. I thought about all the things I wanted to be good at but never invested the time in. All the things I had tried out and moved on from when I lost interest. Drawing, making movies, traveling, writing.
Writing - that old thing. I remembered I used to feel I was good at writing. A game with words, you switched them around and pared them down and blew them up then pared them down again until they were simple and honest and true and expressed complex things in tiny ways. How they piled up on pages, details heaped on details. Straw words patiently placed on thatched pages. I thought about how easily my own bastard ego put the torch to my words one day when faced with the mortality of being average and how I never wrote since. It was the same with art. It was the same with a lot of things.
“He gives up.” I admitted.
“Damn right he gives up.” The man said. The man could be described at that moment with certain good words. Strong healthy words. Vim, moxie, gusto. He gulped his beer down with hearty enjoyment. Then other words seemed to seep into him and without any pep at all he turned his eye on me and said sternly. “Any dumb ass who gives up shouldn’t claim it like people should pity him.”
“I don’t want people to pity me.”
“You pity you.”
“Yes.”
“Hell, well there it is.” He said with beer foam still on his mustache. His large hand wiped it away; again it did its disappearing act into the whiskers.
“Yeah. There it is.”
“Where’re you from?”
“Me? I’m from everywhere.” I said, and at that moment it felt that way. “My job drags me all over the U S of A and the dust of me is left all over the damn country. No, really I’m from California.”
“You don’t like the travel?”
“I love the travel.”
“But it’s a problem.” I didn’t know why he was talking to me and not only that but listening too. So I talked. It felt like I needed to and I was working through it myself.
“It’s a distraction. You can’t think I’m fine with being no good at anything. I was on a bus today to the Indian Reservation and back, driving through the country. It’s peaceful. Not a lot happening aside from hundreds and thousands of rocks and horizons of cactus surrounding the flatness of dried up lakes. Small houses, clouds like I can’t believe. Damnit. It reminded me of something. Times change, things change. There was a feeling on those roads I haven’t felt since I was a kid. A feeling that used to exist in my hometown. A real weird sensation. Feeling that again was like starting over from a time before distractions when everything was fresh and the whole world was open to me. I still can’t figure it out.”
He stood up and dropped some cash on the table. A tip for the waitress. He was leaving and I found myself not wanting him to. The small connection I had made with the stranger disintegrated.
“Figure it out.” He said. “Figure out what you are passionate about then go for it. But first have another drink.”
Then he left.
The waitress brought me a fresh whiskey and collected the tip money left on the table. I tasted the whiskey and this time I noticed that it was good. It’s simple, I thought. Starting is simple.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Things are Going Pretty well For Us.

Things are going pretty well for us. We’re in this period right now in which we don’t speak to each other, and it seems to be working out. It’s mutual, of course. You see, I just get up in the morning, go to work, go to sleep at night, wake up the next morning, and so on. I assume that he does the same, but I wouldn’t know because we’re not talking. It has been a couple of months or so, but it’s not like I’m keeping track. All those emails, phone calls, Skype conversations - I don’t know about him, but it was all pretty tiring for me. What a relief, I tell myself. Now I can concentrate on my work. It’s not like we don’t still like each other - we do. Of course, we do.
He’s a lot better at this whole not speaking thing than I am. It’s kind of hard for me, actually. A month or so ago, I sent him an email with a recommendation for a movie with one of those smiley face emoticons. I thought I was being pretty breezy, but he didn’t respond. Typical. I didn’t expect him to reply, and I would have just ignored it anyway since that’s what we’re doing now. That’s if he had sent anything to me, which he hadn’t. See, he really is better at this than me.
Like I told you earlier, things really couldn’t be better for us.
You know, I’m hoping to meet up with him one day for coffee or something when I move back to Tijuana. I think we’d have a lot to talk about.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Waste.

I lie on top of the blankets. The glow of the fading summer sunlight creates oceans of shadows as it dances through and around the blue bottles on the window sill.
“Worthless,”
The word repeats itself over and over, scratching like an old record in my head. I allow myself to acknowledge the feeling, noticing the way it sulks in the center of my body, taking up too much of my insides. Then I release it down my arms and legs. It rests in the tips of my fingers and at the front of my ankles. I notice the way my heart throbs, sending life to the parts of me that haven’t given up, and finds a scrap of hope: If I can feel pain I must still be alive.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rain.

There is something about the rain that makes me feel good inside.
When everything out there is cold and damp, in meteoric contrast to my warm-blooded, hot-headed self. I wear a jacket to keep me dry, or at least, on certain areas that would be uncomfortable if wet. There is no point in using an umbrella, all the things I brought this morning are sealed carefully inside my backpack. What’s the problem with hair getting watered down just about the same way a shower does? Nothing. I watch people search through their bags for protection, from something that in my opinion, should not be avoided but embraced. I would later have to get on a bus, and the driver would frown, seeing this new passenger look for a seat, wet as a sponge on a sink. But I don’t care what they think.
Once I am seated somewhere (beside a window, preferably), I would watch the tiny droplets descending to nowhere, in slow motion. Forming odd shapes, but always going down quietly to the flows, like them. People.
Perhaps, the most probable theory about my sentiments for the rain is how the waters link together the ground and the skies. Two infinite worlds divided by infinite space. Getting in touch only when it rains.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Shotgun Writing.

Wrote this while sitting idle on a city bus:
He rolled the coin between forefinger and thumb. Both sides tails. You ask most people ‘heads or tails’ and they’ll answer ‘heads,’ it’s less effort, slides off the tongue quicker. But he hadn’t been able to use it. He cut off another bite of warm roast lamb, tender but the knife still squeaked on the plate. If he could only think, he didn’t do this in such loud places. They could barely hear each other think. As far as he knew there were two options left, he could run, knock his chair back as he rose, cause a scene, hope he gets arrested. Or he could try one last game, he still remembered back when he would play chess with the homeless men in the park, back when games with multiple outcomes still held their novelty. He followed the man's tie up his chest, past the thick jowls and a single bead of sweat, until their eyes met. That short smile stabbed like a knife. Now was his chance.
“I want to bet you one last thing,”
Laughter, hoarse and spluttered. “You don’t have anything left to offer,”
“Yes, but you couldn’t live with yourself, having won like this. You win this wager and you’ll be able to sleep easy, knowing you beat me”
He pushed a chorizo into his mouth as an abusive husband would his arm. “What makes you think I have the pride?”
“The first bet is against yourself, if I lose, I concede, if I win, I get your watch, I will then bet you your watch against your wallet, if I lose it’s for good. I will then bet your watch and your wallet against your gun.”
Silence, like being tied up in rope. If he breaks it, he knows he’s dead. Then, “What’s the bet?”
“Heads or tails?” Laughter “From your wallet.” The man opposite him chuckled in a way better resembling spitting. He stood slightly and fished for his wallet. Produced it and pulled out a single coin which didn’t look like any coin he had ever seen before, it was enormous, made of a thin copper. The man opposite rolled it to show each side. Then threw it in one large flip. Now.
His eyes followed the coin in midair. As it began to fall the man opposite prepared his hand. He rose, took his plate of roast lamb and vegetables and threw it into the man face. Then he ran.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

exterminate all rational thought


William S. Burroughs put a hex on Truman Capote and documented the curse in this open letter.
"I have in line of duty read all your published work. The early work was in some respects promising — I refer particularly to the short stories. You were granted an area for psychic development. It seemed for a while as if you would make good use of this grant. You choose instead to sell out a talent that is not yours to sell. You have written a dull unreadable book which could have been written by any staff writer on the New Yorker .You have betrayed and sold out the talent that was granted you by this department. That talent is now officially withdrawn. Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. Over and out."
It became a fulfilled prophecy as Truman Capote slipped into a drug and alcohol induced state of non being and never produced another major work.
I’d love to write a novel on this.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lables on Gin


It was night and the air muggy. I was listening to jazz music by artists I can’t distinguish between in the room half-lit by a navy banker’s lamp when he came in with a forty ounce bottle of malt liquor named after a general who died in the first days of World War One and his back hit the wall hard.
Mycroft, Gin said, he was the hero. He couldn’t remember, he stammered. An hour ago. The fat one, not Sherlock. "People don’t write Mycroft into hero roles", I said. Laughing. Grabbed the bottle with eyes and fists, drinking like it were caloric as water, like Burroughs was a gentleman, what a Joke. Doesn’t matter, he was worth a fortune. "Rights", I said, I pinched my fingers, and he said "Right".
He said he had a dream about a man who spoke with a tongue of morphine, he was sticky when he leaned against anything - the air, open space, just stuck to it–took hold of the table, it came back when he stood straight, back with him. Tethering gravity like led hounds. He was gray and his legs twisted on anywhere like a wrench but not his dick. It was sharp like a knife, and whenever his pants reached ankle, there was only a static screen. Everything below was just a staticy screen, and he woke up, Virginia, and he was puking. I was watching a lot of Sherlock Holmes in the half-lit house. He was doing a lot of drugs. And it was night and the air muggy.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Tucker.

The cafe wouldn’t let Tucker in without shoes. I huffed at the manager and went inside by myself, but not before I made Tucker promise not to take off.
"I’m not going anywhere. Like you said, why would I pass up a free drink?" He said, crossing his skinny arms over his chest and coyly raising an eyebrow at me.
I nodded and smiled at him briefly before I went inside. The coffee was hot, and the pastries were half price, a deal made to lower waste at the end of the night. A muffin or two couldn’t hurt, so I went ahead and grabbed the ones which looked the freshest before paying for everything. As I smiled my way through the transaction I could feel the manager staring at me from off to the side His arms folded and his chin so far up I could have looked up his nose.
"Is there a problem, sir?" I asked, tearing off a bit of my muffin and popping it into my mouth.
"It won’t learn nothin’ if you just give it things."
If my mouth had been empty, my jaw would have dropped. Instead, it clenched tightly, biting through the crumbling muffin until my teeth cracked together. “Last time I checked, that guy out there is a person just as much as I am and there’s nothing wrong with having compassion. Have a nice night, prick," I fired back, my eyes narrowing in disdain. I turned on my heel and made my way out of the shop. My face felt hot and I could feel my grip on the drinks tightening to the point where the cardboard of the cups began to give. I managed to loosen my grip before I ruined our drinks, but my face was still burning as I met Tucker outside.
The streetlight above him flickered on just as I walked outside and the sudden burst of brightness made the dirt on his skin more apparent. The oil in his hair practically shone underneath the pale yellow beam and his clothes now showed lighter, more faded stains which I hadn’t notice in the orange light of the sunset. He looked filthy, but the way his green eyes widened at the muffins in my hand made my cheeks cool almost instantly.
"I grabbed something to eat, too," I chirped, holding the undamaged pastry out to him. Tucker took his drink and the muffin and after exchanging small smiles, we headed down the street once more. Streetlights continued to flicker on a few paces ahead of us, bathing our path in that same yellow light. Behind us, the sky darkened to an indigo color while we sipped gingerly at the coffee steaming from our cups and nibbled at the muffins slowly becoming crumbling messes in our hands.
Shops began to turn out their lights, switching their “Come in, we’re open!" signs to “Sorry, we’re closed" signs. Then the shops disappeared and were replaced by apartments and small houses. Some new with their painted outer walls and others looking as if they had been there since the city came to life, old brick building crumbling and splattering rusty red throughout the neighborhood. Tucker and I passed these buildings in comfortable silence, and only when he tapped my shoulder did I realize that I had stopped outside of my building.
Tucker’s eyes flickered between me and the building a few times. He sipped at his coffee and I could hear his bare feet shuffling against the rough concrete of the sidewalk. I blinked at him a few times and suddenly inhaled sharply. “Right! Um, would you like to come in?"
"Sure, provided you’re not gonna bitch about me getting dirt on the floor and tell me I can’t touch anything."
I buzzed our way into the building and ushered him inside with a smirk. “If I cared I wouldn’t have invited you in," I said as we ascended the stairs. “And besides, that’s what showers are for."
Tucker followed me up the stairs and waited while I fumbled with the lock on my door. When I managed to slip the key inside and wrench the rusty thing open, I turned to see him licking muffin crumbs off of his fingers and chuckled slightly. “Come on in."
As we stepped into the apartment, I almost said something to compensate for its small stature. Tucker’s body visibly relaxed as soon as he stepped inside though, so I kept my comments to myself.
I toed my shoes by the door and set my bookbag on the kitchen counter as Tucker slowly wandered around the living room, taking everything in with wary green eyes and drinking his coffee in larger gulps now that it had cooled a bit.
"You live here by yourself?" He asked after a minute or two. I ran my hand over my hair, grimacing at the product in it, and joined Tucker in the living room.
"Yeah, it’s just me here," I said, shutting the front door after Tucker had neglected to. When I turned around, he was heading to the kitchen with his coffee cup to his lips and an empty muffin wrapper crumpled in his hand. Both fell into the trash can with brief thuds and Tucker licked coffee from his lips slowly, savoring the last taste of his beverage.
"Stay!" My sudden outburst had Tucker arching an eyebrow at me and I felt a different kind of heat rush to my face this time. “I mean…what I mean was that you can stay here tonight. If, y’know, you want to."
Cocking his head to the side and folding his arms across his chest, Tucker kept that eyebrow arched and stared at me quizzically. “You’re not afraid I’m gonna steal something?" He asked, his tone incredulous.
"Well you haven’t really given me a reason to be afraid of something like that."
"…How can you be so trusting of someone you don’t even know?"
I ran a hand across my head and sighed. “I don’t know. Trust me I realize how stupid I am for doing things like this, but…I just wanna help people. I can’t help everyone, but I can do things like this. Right now, I can help you and whether you steal from me or not, at least you had a roof over your head and a shower tonight."
Tucker didn’t respond for a while, just kept staring at me with those piercing green eyes of his. He pursed his pale lips at me, then attempted to run a hand through his hair before the knots stopped him short. He chuckled to his self and then looked up at me with a smile on his face. “Allright Sunshine, I’ll stay. I could use that shower."
"Right this way."