Tuesday, January 22, 2019

shattered but whole



I briskly walked down calle Insurgentes towards centro, a squat row of crumbling houses cast long and foreboding shadows across the shattered sidewalk. Dull yellow lamplight buzzed overhead as the crunching of my shoes on loose gravel was the only sound in this still slumbering town. My breath puffed out into frozen air as I made my way across Park Independencia – under dead and leafless trees, several concrete benches occupied by snoring immigrants waiting for their chance to cross the border. This city was depressing the hell out of me – I cannot connect with anyone. And for that matter, what was left to connect with? I am dead inside. As dead as the rotting houses which surround me. I bitterly glanced around. Why does this city attain the appearance of the aftermath of a bombed-out war zone? Ah, I forget…it is the aftermath of a bombed-out war zone. Who am I to judge?
Ding! I sling open the door to Café Central and took a seat at the long counter. Order coffee from the tired looking waitress in the grease splotched uniform and as I stired the sugar into my cracked mug, once again the question slaps me across the face: What the fuck am I doing here in Juárez?
I recall I stated that exact question the evening prior toward two intoxicated cohorts as we sat and drank caguamas at Bar Olympico. The statement fell on deaf ears, unfortunately. They did not care for my personal woes, they were more interested in the rentboy who slinked up at us slurping on his free beer.
“For a hundred pesos, he’ll let you suck his dick.” My friend confided. He pronounces it deek.
I eyed the hustler with obvious contempt. Oh. Of course. The solitary gringo in the joint and this doe-eyed waif decided I was an easy mark. Little did he realize I am one jaded homosexual and at that exact moment and time really wasn’t in the mood for any of his shit.
“Wait a minute.” I began, pointing toward the well-formed pecs hidden under the rentboys tight, flannel shirt. “You want me,” I point back at myself, “…me…to give you one hundred pesos so you can have an orgasm?”
“Yes.” He curtly nodded, with hip hooked in that universal stance of Hustlers of the World.
“And what about me? You gunna get me off? Suck me off? Anything?” I asked.
“No, man, I’m not no faggot. I don’t do that shit.”
“Don’t do that shit? What shit? What fucking shit don’t you do?” I barked. He glared at me in consternation, slowly realizing I was not the typical weak spirited tourist he usually employs. I leaned on my stool toward him, “Again, you expect me to pay you to come?”
“That’s the way it works, yeah.” He said morosely.
“Get the fuck out my face.” I retorted and slumped into my beer. The hustler casually shrugged and decided to lurk in the cantina's doorway and await more promising prey.
One of my two friends refilled my glass from my bottle, “Why were you so mean to him? He’s a nice boy.”
I paused. Lit a cigarette and watched the plume of carcinogens swirl up into the water damaged rafters, I said, “I think my time in Mexico has come to a close. My adventure here has grown stale. Nothing interests me. I have done it all. There is nothing else. It’s time I lay tracks toward a more civilized locale.”
My words, again, fell on deaf ears as yet another macho fuck sauntered across the dirty tile floor and distracted the two queens with a smile and a coy nod.
In the coffee shop, I sat bitterly. A lonesome Mexican ballad crooned over the speakers as I scrutinized my ravaged, tired face in the mirror attached to the wall across from the counter. Except for myself and the three servers, the only other occupant was a wrinkled old fuck slumped in a booth wearing shades. Probably asleep. The half-eaten fried eggs coagulating on a large plate in front of him. Gnawed chicken bones scattered about the formica. The thought of returning to my house, collecting my things and leaving screamed in my skull. And, I did.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

but why though?



The restaurant has wooden floors and mirrors behind the bar. It’s full, but politely so. We sit at the bar and I ask why we never sit in a booth. Hector says this is easier. He orders something minty to drink and I ask for gin and vermouth. Why is there a baseball game on? I’d like to drop my face on the bar and let the blood slowly draw away from my nose, down to the other patrons, drip some and pool to a puddle below my stool. I grab the menu. I shake my head. Snails and gizzards and cracklings and what the fuck is a date and why is it wrapped in bacon and stuffed with bleu cheese? Do you have ranch dressing? Of course not. Every place Hector wants to go to is too good to have ranch dressing or salt n pepper and let’s talk about sex. Fuck me. From behind.
Our drinks come and his is manlier than mine. I try it and cough a little. What is that? Martini? Yeah. I’m hungry. Why do you like me? Because you’re fucking weird. I like you. I know. Hector asks me to go to Los Angeles with him and I stretch my lips across my face like a smile and say maybe. The bartender takes our food order and I get the only thing I recognize and he gets the steamed escargot. When it comes, Hector asks me to try it. I say no. Please? No. This continues and I get frustrated. I want to leave. I want to drop my face on the bar and break my teeth, force them into my gums and pucker my nose in on itself, piercing my brain. Hector says if I don’t eat one then he’ll never be mine. I laugh and say we’re now officially wasting each other’s time.
I catch myself in the mirror, where two panes come together, and I look crooked, deformed, demonic, and utterly suave. Black leather jacket. Grey button-up shirt. Black herringbone tie. Stubble. How could he not want me? He cuts a snail in half and says to try that much. I tell him splitting it apart doesn’t help. I think about leaving and I start thinking about what I’m gonna say, ‘cause I have to say something. Or would it be better to walk out without saying anything? Not even a glance at him. Leave, man. Get up.
The bald man in the cowboy suit next to me leans in and says something about the game. I say something back to prove I am a man and I know sports and stuff. Then Hector and the bald man talk with me in the middle feeling suddenly awkward, but watching this scene in the mirror. Hector likes the bald man’s ambition and his watch and how he speaks four languages. I notice his discolored teeth and beady little eyes. Hector says he’s moving to Los Angeles, the bald man asks when, Hector says March, the bald man says he should be out there then. I say we should get goin’. I finish my drink and don’t take another. Look at Hector, look at the bald man, the game, the condensation ring, the mirror, me. What the hell happened? Heavy sigh, noticeable. Hector leans to my ear, You gonna fuck me when we get home? You gonna leave your clothes on? If you want. Maybe. You wanna go? Yeah.
I pay and in the taxi, Hector asks if I want road-head and I say no and ask the taxi driver to turn the radio up. I’m hard but we’re almost home. Up the stairs, to the bedroom, push the blankets aside. I fuck Hector bent over and I pull and push into him, using his hips like handles. Hector moans and sighs and whimpers and tells me to lie on my back. Tells me not to move. He fucks hard, twists and grinding but changes his mind and bends over in front of me, ass spread. Fuck me ‘til you come. I tease then give it then take it then give it deeper, taking Hector to the furthest until I have to pull out and empty onto him, weakened as steam in cold night air. I like you. I know. I mean, I like you a lot. I like you too. But why, though?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

the ballad of roland gerodias



Cerritos, California.
Somewhere during the late ‘80’s.
Saturday.
11:38pm

I flopped down on my back sickly ill from too many Boone’s Farm wine coolers. A ghastly feeling. Like you want to vomit but you can’t. The couch was one of those big, neutral colored, over-stuffed affairs, u-shaped, and took up most of the cavernous living room. In the darkened house, the party was ebbing away and most of the teenaged guests had departed. The house itself being a cookie-cutter two-story stucco monstrosity which infest every neighborhood in predominantly white suburbs of Los Angeles. It rested in a cul-de-sac, an exact copy of every other house on the block, except this one was somewhat more a bit unkempt.
On the couch, I complained about how my stomach felt woozy. The only other person with me was Roland Gerodias, a friend from my high school. We didn’t attend any classes together, barely associated through mutual friends.  The casual association primarily through Janet Tarrish, a fellow classmate and whose house we were currently sleeping over in. As I said, I was lying on this couch with Roland, the tops of our heads almost touching with our bodies sprawled in opposite directions. The couch was that big.
Roland was a third generation Filipino who lived with his parents in a one-story stucco house on the low end of the neighborhood. Soft-spoken, we met each other while playing Dungeons and Dragons after school at a friend’s house. We hit it off immediately and rapidly became friends.
Out of the half dark, he mentioned something about getting one’s fingers sucked took your mind off the ill feeling. Snickering with naiveté, I agreed and offered up my hand, in which he performed the remedy with slow, precise movements. That, of course, led to us making out, both fearing either Janet or the old grandpa who lived in the den and spent his waning years watching the Playboy Channel in soiled, blue stripped pajamas would walk in and catch us in this uncouth homosexual experimentation.
Up to that point, I had never kissed a boy, nor made out like two lovers on the lips as Roland and I did in the still of the night. Nonetheless, I liked it. I liked it a lot. It stimulated dormant passions in me I never dreamed existed. After an hour or so of fumbling and whispered giggling, we both fell asleep.
The following morning, at the crack of dawn, I rose and went to the restroom to relieve myself. Glancing in the mirror, my neck was a constellation of hickies. I examined them in my reflection, gliding a finger over the brown and purple splotches. In guilt and mortification, I left the house without a word and returned home, quickly darting over puddles of incandescent water created by automatic lawn sprinklers.
Later that afternoon as I was in the kitchen preparing a sandwich, my mother caught sight of the marks and hissed, “What are those on your neck?”
“I…uh…” I faltered in confused guilt. She, at this point, was completely oblivious of my homosexual tendencies.
My mother stated in hushed tones, her face disdainfully puckered as if she just sucked a lemon, “Only Mexicans give each other those.”
The way she said Mexicans was laced in contempt.
Several days passed and I never saw Roland on campus. Though during each boring class, I sat brooding with the images and emotions of what we had done burned into my mind. It was my first contact with another of the same sex in that way (apart from a fumbling quick blow job or mutual masturbation sessions of very, very few in the past) My mind reeled in teenage obsession yet with the unrefuted fact the act could never be repeated or spoken of in lieu of classmates catching on. And then again, why would occur again? A spontaneous thing ensued, nothing more. So, I kept quiet, tolerating the smirking jabs of humor by schoolmates of having a girlfriend or quips of “finally getting some pussy” over the prior weekend.
One afternoon, as I was in my room at my desk drawing horridly melancholy and surreal comics, my mother said I had a phone call. It was Roland. When I heard his voice it was like the air was snatched from my lungs. He asked if I wanted to hang out. I said sure.
At that time, my mother allowed me drive her ’74 powder-blue Maverick around. I came up some excuse to use the car and off I went. It was a horrible junker. The engine chugged so loud and low, you could hear it blocks away announcing your arrival. I had nick-named it “Das Boot”. I picked up Roland at his house and we drove around Los Angeles joking, talking, and having a casual time as friends often do; eventually making our way up to Griffith Observatory. The sun had already set and grey shadows stretched across an empty parking lot. Not too empty, there was a darkened car on the other side of the lot, windows steamed and slowly rocking. I noticed a pudgy, balding man in a track suit hunched in the bushes watching, his round face gleamed in a film of sweat.
Before we parked, Roland and I stopped and scored a bottle of wine from some hobo who we talked into purchasing for us at a liquor store. We sat in the car and talked about nothing until the event at Janet’s house was brought up. Roland asked if I liked guys. I stated timidly I did, never had an experience with a girl, I added and held no desire to acquire one. Roland stated he loved girls and looked forward to having a wife and children one day. My heart sank. While he confessed this to me, he viewed in interest the muddled shadows in the adjacent car and its rhythmic movements. He unbuttoned his pants, pulling them down to his knees; brandished his erection. Looking at me, he took my head in his hands and we again began kissing passionately. He took out my erection and began masturbating both of us. His copper-colored body was lithe and hairless. I truly believe it was this initial encounter which paved the way for my preference of the darkly exotic sort. I had never been driven to seek the embrace of men with fair skin or abundance of body hair. I truly believe it was Roland’s influence. We slid into the backseat and did what most deemed unnatural. Four times.
When I dropped him off at his house at 2am, I watched as he said “Check ya later…” and disappeared into the quiet darkness of his home. I was overbearingly smitten. Throughout the rest of the year and onward into first term of community college, Roland and I remained close friends. During that period, he was my solitary sexual outlet, much to my dismay. I was madly in love with him and he knew it and patiently tolerated it, I suppose. I would become insanely jealous, not when he chased after girls, but when other guys hit on him. Out right dramatically infuriated. It was during the final year of our friendship the entire ordeal crashed and burned. I became overtly possessive and went out of my way to take up all his free time. Free time spent either in the back seat of my car or some cheaply rented hotel room humping like rabbits. Over a period of a few months in lieu of attending different colleges and work schedules we stopped associating with one another. When I finally sought him out, he’d since moved out of his parents’ house and shacked up knee deep in a torrid love affair with a dumpy, fat girl with large, thick glasses and bad acne. I attempted to speak with him (alone, but the girl wouldn’t have it) eventually I was asked to leave and never come around again. I never saw Roland again after that.
A block away I sat in my car ugly sobbing, my heart crushed. Unaware future events would allocate far more insidiously emotional heart aches and disappointments. Ah, the ignorance of youth!

Monday, January 07, 2019

they're only words



How does one choose to be a writer? There are as many variables as there are people on the face of the earth, I suppose. I do not expect anyone wakes up one morning and claims, Hey, I’m going to be a writer. For myself, it was a long road both strange and beautiful.
Originally, in as far back as high school, I aspired to be a graphic artist. I created intricate illustrations with passion. Unlike my friends who filled their imaginations with comic book superheroes like Batman or The Green Lantern, I spent my money on collecting the magazine Heavy Metal. I was not only drawn to the remarkable stories, but the outlandish art. Especially the works of Jean Giraud a.k.a. Moebius. I would sit and scrutinize for hours the beautiful lines and simplistic clutter Giraud would impregnate into every frame. It was him and the luscious line drawings of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon I gleaned inspiration. I would purchase reams of lineless paper and meticulously copy their works until my own style eventually emerged.
During long summers while my friends remained outside playing, I would find refuge in my cramped room drafting surreal comics about livid dreams I’d had and idiosyncratic adventures of lone wonderers. I would show my uninterested friends my strange doodles and be labeled crazy or weird. I didn’t care, I adored it.
Come college, I took both photography classes and intermedial art. I would roam around deserted alleys and crumbling buildings taking black and white snapshots of scenes I found interesting. I realized I was the odd one out when in art class all I drew were disturbing charcoal paintings of various oil refineries around Los Angeles. Scores of them one after the other. I was attempting to portray the mood of decay crossed with industrial beauty. My teacher had enough of my dark and sulky shit and expelled me from class.
That evening, I went to a local cinema in Pasadena to watch a movie. Which film I do not recall, all I remember is it was sold out, the only other playing in the small two cinema theater was David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. I knew of David Lynch from his breakout student film Eraserhead, but was apprehensive to view his latest work because at the time, I deemed Eraserhead was simply his one hit wonder. (I knew of Dune, which flopped and was never interested to view Elephant Man) Never the less, I sat in the theater mesmerized by the intense visuals and off kilter story. I stumbled out of the theater past jocks yelling “Fuck!” badly imitating Frank Booth with the burning thought, That! That is what I want to do. I want to make movies like that!
The following semester, I attended film school. While other students produced sappy romances and teen dramas, I cranked out short, ethereal stories of pain and solitude amid filth and degradation. I had always been drawn to the underbelly of society. Once, during ninth grade and living with my parents in Lakewood, CA, I took a city bus on a day trip to Hollywood. The route went through skid row Los Angeles and I sat there wide eyed gaping out the window in captivated interest at all the sordid squalor passing as the bus chugged along 3rd and Spring. That initial image lingered with me for a long time.
Years later, I would venture to skid row in downtown Los Angeles and film the drunks and addicts who haunted the streets day and night never recognizing one day I would find myself living among them. And live among them I did, the fervidness became an addiction as was I more comfortable surrounded by transients and junkies than mall crawlers or office workers.
I had found my niche. My passion. Film. I moved out of my parents’ house (they never supported any of my hobbies so it was a relief when I left) and rented a cockroach infested studio on the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Highland. I had transvestite hookers and aspiring porn stars for neighbors. I was well on my way, attaining employment at various film studios as gaffers or best boys, I would watch and study everything cinema related.
Then, life reared its ugly head. I fell in love. In love with someone who was absorbed more in the material things of life than the artistic. The four year campaign of this seemingly one-sided relationship was spent not producing films, but attempting to placate his varying affection. He was my world – the very reason I got up to go to work, to eat, to shave, to bathe. Indeed, I had it bad. I even spent a month incarcerated in Los Angeles City jail in lieu of stealing funds from my employment so I could afford to take this person to the various night clubs he so much revelled in. I would had done anything for him. Much to my dismay.
After four years, we eventually separated. My heart was shattered and never fully recovered. One afternoon as I stood in Mickey’s Bar on Santa Monica Blvd. with a gaggle of uncaring and phony friends, I was asked what I planned to do; now that I was single. My heart filled with pain and distrust, my only thought was to commit suicide as any over-dramatic queen would. I morosely stated I planned to go down to Tijuana for the weekend to think things through. I did and never returned to Los Angeles’ or its plastacine lifestyle.
Tijuana was an alien planet. A world both dangerous and liberating. Yet, I went there to die. Over dramatic, I assure you, but at the time it was the most dangerous locale I knew of and if I was going to go out, why not in style? I envisioned they would find my alcohol saturated corpse face down in an alleyway with pants around my ankles, sexually assaulted to death. A content smile across my insipid lips. I did not appreciate at the time on how this unrelentless city would become the major focal point for my future career as a writer.
I made it a habit to visit a movie theater at least twice a week and watch whatever seemed appealing. In downtown San Diego, at this monolith of a mall, I went to the movies and, again, the film I wished to see was sold out. The only other of interest was a film titled Naked Lunch. I thought it as simply a stupid teen comedy or at least a foreign sex drama in lieu of the title. Sure, why not, I’ll check it out.
The initial screening was both humorous and motivating. In the row ahead of me was five jocks from the local university. Before the film began, they teased about how the film was probably going to be a dumb comedy. My glee was to watch their appalled reaction change when instead of titties and cheerleaders they were subjected to drug addicted homosexuals and typewriters morphing into giant cockroaches dictating their thoughts out of their assholes. I immediately loved the film. When I learned it was based on a book, after the third screening that same week, I directly made my way to a local Barnes and Noble to purchase a copy of the novel.
At that time, I knew nothing about the beat generation or their influence on literature. In my first attempt at reading Naked Lunch, I found it dense and hard to follow. The fractured style was confusing, but I tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it segwayed into reading other works. I studied all the greats in literature both classic and contemporary. Supping up the works of Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, George Orwell, William Burroughs, De Sade, Henry Miller, Hemmingway, Bukowski, William Kennedy, and many others. Instead of haunting comic book stores, I would sit for hours in libraries and book stores reading. I wrote my first novella (in longhand!) in a leather bound journal. I had concocted this horrible short story concerning a small person resembling a cross between Danny DeVito’s Penguin and The Babadook who terrorized and murdered small children in white suburbia – with illustrations! It was ghastly and extremely cinematic in the set up of scenes. I wish I still possessed a copy.
Still passionate about making films, I used this fodder of reading novels to pen screenplays which I sent to every studio I knew of. I never received any call backs. It did not slow me down, I wrote screenplay after screenplay all the while antedating when I would purchase my own film equipment and produce my own visual works.
It was about this time, while I trolled the cantinas of Tijuana on a nightly basis and indulging in all manner of decrepit excess, I found myself addicted to methamphetamines. Years passed and I began adopting some manner of mental psychosis. In lieu of the dope and lack of sleep combined with a toxic, hedonistic lifestyle, my mind was literally bursting with ideas and terrifying nostalgias. A coworker introduced me to the therapy of “blogging”, writing down my thoughts and problems and in trade expunging them from my head.
I titled the blog Borrowed Flesh from the first line of Naked Lunch, “I awoke from The Sickness at the age of forty-five, calm and sane, and in reasonable good health except for a weakened liver and the look of borrowed flesh common to all who survive The Sickness…” (Years later, I would be accused by some goofy bitch of lifting the title off her badly written zombie novel of the same name. Look, sweetie, if I’m going to steal, I’m stealing from the best) With the blog, I didn’t compose my thoughts per se, but focused on transcribing the idiosyncratic factors which seemed to pursue me on a daily basis. I had to admit, writing was soothing. I did feel better afterwards. In the beginning, no one read my tripe and that suited me just fine. Until a year passed and all of a sudden I became this underground literary hero being bombarded via email on all aspects of sordid Tijuana or the finer points of drug addiction. Back then, I penned this blog anonymously using the nom de plume Desolation Angel. I supped up the attention, as anyone would. The most common comment I would receive was the I Envy The Way You Live I Wish I Could Live Like You or a variation of it.
I would incessantly shake my head slowly and state, “No…no you wouldn’t. It’s terrifying. Truly terrifying.”
I made the decision no matter what I did, no matter what fate would fling at me, I was going to keep a painfully accurate account about it; writing with unashamed passion. Two decades later….here we are. During those years, I published nine novels and one tome of sickly poetry. I never dared read the reviews. My ego wouldn’t be able to handle it. I assume they are doing well, I still receive royalty checks. I rarely return emails yet the acclaim outweighs the negative critiques. I don’t care much for the limelight. The attention anymore. I simply want to be read. But, for one thing I can claim without fear of retribution is, I am a writer and a damn good one.