Thursday, December 17, 2009

'The Starbuck'

Location: Some locally-owned Coffee Shop

Characters (All regulars at the shop):

Jeroh: Male. Athlete at a local sports team. Good looking. Insecure of Morgan’s occasional homosexual nature.

Vikki: Female. Slightly plump, down to earth Hair Stylist. Wears glasses. Has a crush on Jeroh.

Samantha: Party Girl/Barista. A better artist than her boyfriend.

Morgan: Barista. Flamboyant, open sexuality which he teases Jeroh with from time to time.


Samantha: So I was at Tom’s show last night, and I’m sitting at a table with a couple of his friends..

Vikki: They still let him play shows? Didn’t he beat up some guy in the audience last week for saying that he sucks? (laughs)

Sam: They still let him play shows, Victoria. (to herself) ...within court ordered guidelines...

(Jeroh looks over from a book, concerned)

Sam: ...anyways this one guy kept bringing up all these sexual ‘moves.’ You know? Like donkey punch and stuff.

Vikki: Um... no?

(Jeroh grins, Morgan grins)

Sam: It was annoying, he just kept going on and on. Plus he kept calling me ‘Dawson’s Freak’ because he said Tom looks like James Van Der Beek....anyways, they were stupid. I would never do some of them.

Vikki: (To herself) ...cause you needed to say that last part.

Sam, thinking: One of them was sort of funny though.

Vikki: What was it?

Sam points across the street to their competitor, the Starbucks: It’s called the ‘Starbuck’

(Jeroh laughs to himself.)

Vikki looks at him: You know what it is?

Morgan: I know what it is.

Vikki looks to Morgan: I’m the only one that doesn’t? What is it?

Morgan grins, reluctant, looking to Sam.

Sam: Ok so the guy is doing you from behind, right? And then he shouts out the name of a celebrity, and (she motions with both hands in front of her) ‘bucks’ you really hard.

Jeroh bursts out laughing.

Sam: It’s not that funny. If Tom ever did that to me I’d.... well it would depend which celebrity.

Morgan: That’s the whole point. You clearly weren't listening.

Vikki: What do you mean?

Morgan: Well it’s like a game. If the girl stops and turns around then you picked the wrong one, but if she’s ‘oh yea...’ then you say another name and buck. If you can get three in a row then you try with an ass slap---a ‘slapaccino.’

Vikki: Seriously? People actually do shit like that? How do you know this anyways?

Morgan hesitates, looking at the floor: I read it on the TMZ website.

Vikki, incredulously: Oh my god! You’ve played the game!

Sam claps her hands: You have!

Jeroh tries to go back to his book.

Morgan shakes his head, blushing: No... I haven’t

Sam: He has, too, oh my god. Ok you have to tell us who it was!

Vikki: Tell us!

Morgan, smiling: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Jeroh forces a laugh, putting the book down: Come on, girls, leave him alone.... ...seriously.

Vikki, Sam: Tell us, tell us, tell us!

Morgan, smiling still: Ok! Ok! Just stop chanting, before someone comes in here and asks to buy a cellphone.

The girls listen eagerly. Jeroh tries not to.

Morgan: ...Ok first of all this guy was an idiot... but ok so we’re doing our thing, and he’s behind me, then out of the blue he says: Jonathan Franks

Everyone bursts out into laughter, trying to talk at the same time.

Vikki: Oh my god, the guy from Star Trek, and... what was that show? Beyond Belief ...(Fact or Fiction?)

Sam, excitedly: Fact or Fiction!

Jeroh, to himself: That’s fucking hilarious....

Sam: So what happened?

Morgan: I turned around. I was like ‘what the hell was that?’ the guy just sort of shrugged and said (disgusted with the words) ‘I had you pegged for a trekkie.’ I mean come on...did he have to say peg?

Sam: Pwned.

Morgan, shaking his head: Anyways, it’s a stupid move. All those moves are stupid. I mean who actually does takes it beyond the urban dictionary and does it?

Vikki: Tom’s friends?

Jeroh: Dawson’s Freak!

Sam: Who do you think was the freakiest person on Star Trek?

Vikki: Well Deanna Troy was definitely the most slutty.

Morgan rolls his eyes. “Cause she had a triangle-shaped cleavage? Come on she was an empath, she couldn’t help feeling horny around guys.”

Jeroh: I’d say Jordie LeForge.

Vikki, laughing: Levar Burton?

Jeroh: Definitely. Down there in the engineering section, you know that guy was swinging pipe. Plus he can see through clothes with his visor. I mean come on, tell me he hasn’t tied up a couple ensigns with the ‘warp injector coils’ if you know what I’m saying.

Vikki: I didn’t know you were such a Star Trek fan.

Jeroh: Oh yeah. Think about it: They’re all listening to Packard in the conference room and Jordie’s just sitting there with a big grin on his face. Know why? Cause Jordie’s streaming a steamy porn scene onto his visor and rubbin it out under the desk.

Vikki: That’s... gross.

Morgan rolls his eyes.

Sam, watching the two: Plus, Reading Rainbow. I mean hello?

Jeroh: .... hello...what?

Vikki: I bet Beverly Crusher gets a little action from Warf every now and then. A single mom, up there all alone...(is thinking to herself) She might need some ‘extra security’

Jeroh: Seriously, the Klingon?

Sam, whispering to to Sam behind the lattle machines: Oh my god.... Vikki has a crush on the guy whose head is crushed! Her fantasy is to be Crusher!

Morgan, after a moment of awe, whispering back: Oh my god Sam that was epic.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Stain

Outside? Well it’s blue skies.

Inside, I see a couch... and that is vomit beside my mouth. That rhymes, but it’s all over the cushions, and the carpet. Fuck, definitely getting up---another one. How novel, but this has already soaked in. My brain tries to rush into some sort of gear, like a kid too lazy to get off the bike and fix the chain. I stand up. I need... things to clean with---I need a drink of water. I gulp some down. I look around the place quickly and quietly. I realize we have little more than the most basic of household soaps.
I inhale a quick bong-hit and release it out my bedroom window and into the passing breeze. The fresh air feels nice. I could use a shower. Below me a young man--probably about my age--is walking by. He’s clean-cut, wearing a suit, headed for the bus stop that is just down the street. I see him on occasion, with his polished feet down there firm to the ground.
6:49am. I get into my car, decidedly to try searching at my parent’s house down the street to see if they have any carpet cleaner. That’s right I live down the street from my parents. Hopefully no one is up at the house yet. I give the car some gas and shoot out of my condo’s parking lot. Whoa. I might still be drunk. I let myself in the side door slowly and conclude from the silence that everyone is still asleep. I rummage around in the dark, bumping into stuff, trying, and occasionally failing, to not burst out into laughter.

It’s either Tuesday, or Wednesday morning.

I am about to pull out of my subdivision and onto one of the main roads. This is kind of hard right now. I don’t see a car coming from the same direction I am turning and have to make a sudden stop to allow it to pass. I think I am still drunk. I fly down the road with a small grin. It feels good to be moving. There is a song on the radio I want to sing but my throat hurts. The Price Mart is near-empty due to the hour. I fly into a parking spot slightly crooked and I don’t re-adjust.
‘Mary’ her name-tag reads. The greeter at the front door looks more awake than humanly possible for this hour. She has a man-brow. I suspect she may be a virgin. “Hello” she says enthusiastically. I can’t tell if she is faking it, or if she is a genuinely good greeter. Are virgins good greeters?
“Hello!” I say, trying to match her enthusiasm. Why does my voice sound like... that? I step across the threshold into the fluorescent lighting. That’s really bright. Good lord...

“Whoa, man, what the fuck is going on in here?!” I look over to see my roommate, Jason, staring at me in disbelief.
I have the giant couch cushion up on the sink counter. The sink itself is bubbling with the laundry detergent; the giant bottle sits conspicuously beside me. “Yeah... “ I start, unsure of what to say. “I guess you must have gone to bed before me. ...I’ve been up for a while.”


I’ve just finished cleaning everything when my mother calls. For a second I fear that she knows about the incident somehow. She wants to see if I have found a job yet. “Yes, mom, I have been job hunting.”
I haven’t been, not really. As you can tell I’m... well not job hunting. I have a bit of money saved from my last job, and I’m sort of spoiled anyways, which will probably mean I’ll end up poor. I’m not living down the street from my parents by choice. They bought this place so as to save me from living on the streets for a little while longer at least.
“Yes, I know that I need money to live.... as that is the medium of exchange for goods and services... ...Well why did you send me to school if you didn’t want me to ‘get smart?’”
In retrospect English might have been a better decision. The old philosophy degree has probably served more as a repellent than anything else. It’s like a badge, or something---one that I can’t get off. People run from it like it’s some gestapo symbol. You there, Citizen! time for a thinking!
“Mom, look, the phone is hurting my head. I gotta go, I’ll pop over for dinner, or something. Ok, bye.”
I put the phone down, rubbing my ear slightly. Feeling the shame of motherly worry I decide not to play World of Warcraft and open up my Inbox instead. I haven’t even touched it in days. To my surprise, amongst the ‘suggested by a friend’ emails from my parents, I do have something directly job-related.

-----------Re: Temporary Editor Position------------

Mr. Reing,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected, pending an interview, for a temporary position at the Sphere corporation.

Should you feel so inclined, please arrive at room 357, 1:30pm, Wednesday, Oct.17th.


Nathan Hardwich, Special Services. Sphere.

-------------------Time: O:OO----------------------------

I hope to god it’s Tuesday today. I look at my calendar icon which confirms it is so---I’m so pro. The sad thing is I don’t even remember sending anything to Sphere. I mean, Sphere why would I? That soul-dead apparatus of technological fervor? It must have been a joke.

The things that come out of us when we’re drunk.


“So you have an interview at Sphere?” My father laughs, poking through his vegetables. “That is irony for you.”
“Yeah...” I exhale, still sort of flummoxed about this. I feel like I should have some moral reservations, but I also know a lot of counterarguments.
My mother’s neck perks up at the sound of my exhale like a cat. “Well please tell me you are going to go.”
“Yes, I’m going to go. I’ll see what they have to say.
“Might as well.” My dad stabs a bean stalk and chews it down.
My mom carries on, her momentum already started. “I know you have this... fear that all these corporations are ‘bad’ and the new government is out to get us, but you have to still live a life. You have to have a job. How else can you ever hope to support a family? You’ve been stuck in this rut ever since Katie. It’s time to move on.”
“You’re right, I should move away.”
“Don’t get smart. I can only pray your suit doesn’t have any stains on it as you obviously don’t have time to get it dry-washed. I find it odd they gave you such short notice.”
“I’ll bet you just haven’t opened your inbox in days, instead playing that stupid game.”
“Only children play games.”

The downtown building is massive, and so is this guy’s office, from the looks of the outside, which happens to lie deep in the heart of a series of security clearances. Third floor from the top. Mr Hardwich’s secretary shows me through the frosted glass doors after paging him as to my arrival. I only now feel safe enough to put my ID card into my pocket. That bong hit I had previous to my shower has me feeling somewhat stoic. I don’t respect this company, I doubt it respects me.
This is a drug-trip enough. Maybe my last.
“Mr. Reing, please, come in, make yourself comfortable.” A pinstriped creature slithers up, dismissing the secretary and motioning me into a seat. He is a tall man, with with grey sparks of hair at this temples, erupting back into the brown of the rest. I suspect he gets those dyed-in, as they look too perfect. Someone who wants to seem older than he is? Sort of funny. When I finally settle on his face I realize he seems on the verge of laughing. He is likewise looking me over. “Would you like something to drink?”
My mouth is pretty dry. “Yes, please.”
“Well, I’m going to be completely honest with you---partially because I doubt that I could surprise you. The paranoid...” he starts, walking over to a small table with a jug of ice water and some glasses. “We don’t need to employ you, really, as you’ve probably already considered. We want to offer you a large sum of money to scan your brain. To...use your perspective, shall we say. That is the offer.”
“Is this a joke?”
He walks back over to me, handing me the glass of water. “No.”
“How much money?”
“How about... endless?”
“So this is a joke...” A take a sip of the water. Damn. I really do need a job. “Didn’t know Sphere had a sense of humor.”
Nathan Hardwich walks back around to the other side of his desk, looking out the window---actually, the entire back wall of his office is glass, enabling a rather amazing view of the city below. You can tell he just loves basking in it, like some sort of Egyptian lord staring down the pyramid. “It’s no joke. You’d be surprised what goes for commodities these days.”
“It’s not really fair to tell a student with a huge debt all his financial problems are gone. I don’t know what game you’re trying to play. I didn’t even apply here, did I?”
“I have your file. I know all about your...problems.” He points behind him to the folder on the desk. “You’re not some materialist. You have your head in the clouds, and you spend most of your time writing fiction---poorly, I might add. What would be the point in giving you billions of dollars? It would just sit in an account, suspiciously, while you continue to ‘warn people of clandestine evil’ and do drugs.” He laughs. “Evil as an objective force...”
Billions? I start breathing hard.
“How it works is we just give you a credit card.” He’s still looking out the window through all of this, and he motions now rather dramatically to the entire expanse of the city by spreading his arms. “Buy what you want, Justin.”
“Alright let’s cut to the chase. So what is it you want from me?”
“A brain scan, as I said. Someone wants your perspective. Here at Sphere we...engage in that line of work.” He explains this, turning around and taking a seat in the chair, staring deep into my eyes. “A client caught a glimpse of it, and they seem to like you...” He continues to stare, trailing off a bit, “I have no idea why...” He finally looks away.
“Me either.” I rub my eyes, trying to take this all in. “Look, you have my file, you know what kind of person I am. You think I want a credit card? In exchange for my....what sounds a lot like my fucking soul? No way. This is wrong.”
“Your soul?” This sounds foreign to him. “Your perspective---and you’re not selling it, you’re just...copying it for compensation. You’re a writer, right? Isn’t that what you do? Sell your perspective? Like I said, yours is...pathetic---that’s why you haven’t been published. So I would take this opportunity if I were you.” He holds up the file, opens it up, chuckling as he flips through the pages. “People like you are so naive...” He points at something I can’t really see on one of the pages, starting to read out loud. I recognize after a couple seconds it’s something I wrote once on an online forum: “I just don’t understand why people don’t care.” ...The voice he’s using isn’t even what I sound like. “The truth is right in front of them and they refuse to see it. There is a secret plot to form a one-world-government.” He just starts laughing at this. A grown man, laughing quite hard.
I feel so immature. I don’t understand. Well I’m not just going to give up my integrity because some rich guy made a speech. “Listen you prick, I was right, wasn’t I?” He stops laughing. “Um...”
“After an auspicious string of ‘terrorist acts’ and vague climate threats, we did unite under global governance. Look at how things are now. They’re horrible.”
“Horrible? You’re rich! And no one else cares about th--”
“I care! I--”
“---Just stop. Please, Mr. Reing, just stop.Think about it: should we all just re-arrange things for you and your band of online disenfranchised goons? ‘Freedom? Which one?’ You people think you are special just because you can see more of the lies than the rest of the public. Alright well here is your prize. Take it.” He just shakes his head. “Spotting lies isn’t hard to do. Try spinning the lies for a change. You don’t have the first clue, kid. You don’t. We saved you from yourself.”
“We should monitor everything then? Control thought? Orwell’s nightmare? That kind of future is hellish.”
“Hellish? What grace did you fall from? Look at Eden: it was Big Brother---the apples were on camera, obviously.”
“That’s not even....
“You don’t have to always think for yourself--logically--love isn’t thinking for yourself. You realize, that, right? Don’t you want to have some fun? Look at yourself, you’re miserable.”
“Fun is...subjective. That’s the point: people should be free to be able to--”
“Fuck you’re annoying.” The veneer is wearing off. He actually seems to be getting frustrated. “Look... kid, I can’t re-write the drug laws, OK? The card does come with a sort of get-out-of-jail clause, though. I mean...judges can be bought off. We look after our clients.”
I bet you do. “Look, Mr. Hardwich. I’m not that naive. I obviously didn’t apply to this company, which means I’ve been targeted.” I get a chill at this, considering that I may not even leave this building alive. What have I gotten myself into? Then again what do I have to go back to? “I mean, do I even have a choice? If I say no will I get.. you know...thrown into a black van while walking down the street, or something?”
“Let’s not get philosophical.”
I exhale, looking down at the cup of water in my hands, shaking my head, unsure of what to say.
“Exactly.” He continues on, unfazed. “Who cares about the details? Easier to keep things simple. Taking the credit card is simple. You can use it to buy anything else you might want. back your girlfriend.” He either forces a short laugh, or stifles a real one.
Asshole. I clutch the glass harder---really I’m in control, though. Maybe for the first time in a long time. I don’t want to cut my hand. I’m tired of hurting.
“The scanning process takes about an hour. You will read Chaucer, listen to Beethoven. It’s all very innocuous.”
“I need to think about this.”
He nods, standing back up, buttoning his suit back up. “Of course.”
There is so much pleasure in those two words and the corresponding nod. Hardwhich is acting as if I have just said yes. Maybe I have. This guy seems to know me better than I know myself. I gulp down about half of the water, reaching forward to place the glass on his desk. It is refreshing.


I sit alone in my room. After a while I even forget about the offer from Sphere, instead Is this decision already a forgone conclusion?

I log onto Facebook to see what the friends I never hang out with are up to. They’re all great. When I do see them I usually have a blast. Why can’t I just... live that? Invariably my search leads me back to Katie. Her page is still showing the same thing it was almost a year ago now. I’m blocked. I miss her so much. I can feel the heartache ticking years off my life. Aging me. The winkles of regret. She is back with what’s-his-name again. The deduction---the never-ending loop---is this: does she love him more, or was I so horrible that it doesn’t matter? I keep asking myself because I don’t want to settle on an answer. Happiness is, for her, never talking to me again, and she is not a cruel person.
I surf around the web a bit. I check the news, then the media. Apparently the North American Council is bringing back the death penalty---for select cases. I read on: “Justice will be swift. These terrorists will then exit our concern forever.”
Good. Monsters don’t deserve compassion. They don’t even deserve goodbyes.

It is Thursday morning, and I find myself on the bathroom floor. I have a shirt on, but no pants. I stare at my penis, somehow more alone than the body it’s attached to. There is vomit in the toilet.
“Have you made your decision then?” I am talking to the mirror, wiping dried something off my face with a wet towel.
I exhale a bong hit out the window to see the same reflection of what I could be walking to the bus stop as usual. His suit looks freshly dry cleaned. Just in general he looks suited: a story worth telling; someone worth loving. I wonder what his name is. It’s probably what’s-his-name. Fuck that guy.
I walk out into the front room and just stand there on the carpet. I feel like it’s the only thing holding me up. I guess it is. In this light I think I can almost see that stain.

Later on I’ve decided to go out. A stroll through the city, perhaps my last as a poor man. It’s nice out. Blue skies, like her eyes.
“Hey, did you hear about the death penalty thing? That’s pretty intense, eh?”
I nod, placing the alcohol on the counter. “I heard.”
“What do you think?”
I shrug. “Monsters deserve to be put down.”
“The terrorists?” He scans the bottle. “Maybe...” he seems to give this some deep thought. “That will be $26.89”
I nod, making the exchange.
“Goodbye, sir.”

The doctor is younger than I had imagined--my age, even--but I suppose that is the nature of business. Get the brightest while they are young; and they get them. So what will I get? He stares at me seated in the chair with curious, cold eyes. Very curious. His lab coat looks designer, if such a thing is possible. His waxed, messy hair contrasts with the crew-cuts on the armed security stationed at the door to the lab. Total power. He knows how smart he is. He loves it, playing god deep underground.
I have to ask. “So can you do it?” I have to know.
A machine turns on, and something ignites in his eyes.


Jason continues to stare.
The looks of shame I can handle. I have have a natural immunity. “Anyways it’s all good. Everything is clean I just gotta let this stuff dry.”
“I’m not even going to ask.”
“Yeah, that’s probably for the best. Just tell me one thing: Can you look over there and tell me if you see anything--a stain--on carpet?”
“Luckily, no.”
“Ok. Well, we have some carpet cleaner now.”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Origin of Dance

How can we know the dancer from the dance? ~William Butler Yeats

River was only a young girl when she lead her wandering people to the river by which they now dwell. A child not searching for her name like most, but instead walking its first steps towards the familiar, the self-determined. She wears her name with comfort, like one should. Consistently more clever and generous than the rest, she aged into a woman learning new things. The limits of the horizon would play with her mind, her smile curving with the shining arc of each new day.

There are, of course, those who found alternative routes to the passing water, but she was the first. The elders re-affirm this gathered in their dimly-lit tents where they listen to to her sounds. Lessons, advice, daily companionship in a harsh world. The elders precede her time, still partially nomads. They cannot move forwards any more than River could go backwards. Some of the children, for example, take to her system of symbols so well, whereas some of the elders still cannot grasp it. How does one define a definition? They are ignorant... They cannot hear the myriad of sounds found within, nor discern the shapes--and they try and tell her what it all means? Their collective wisdom is demonstrable, but so is their contempt. Despite this, however, all they have is each other.

River sits down at the gathering table, having been summoned from her explorations in the wild. "I was listening to the sounds of a bee. It was truly quite remarkable...why was I interrupted?"

The eldest speaks: "There is something that must be addressed, and it might as well be now. River you are a constant to the people. You must not change their beliefs on the whim of each passing wind. You hold responsibility, child. Do you understand?"

"I change no one's beliefs, and I am not a child, old man. I am taller than you; I see further. I see hands clinging to my movement for theirs."

"This.." He gestures around " what we do, River, and you give us life. Why must you upset the order? You say you are not a child but yet you believe you should be able to act in disregard for everyone else."

"What are you talking about? I go where the shores direct me. I have hurt none."

The second eldest chimes in: "You hurt them with your speculations and shifts of the mind. When the river is calm, so are the people who feed from it. When the powers ravage the waters with behavior of the unfamiliar the people retreat, scared."

"Well we need to shed this persistent fear like the sun sheds the shadow. Just like night turning to day, it is all change, ultimately. The passing of time."

"Time..." One of her newer words. The elders chew this over. They eat an abstract supper that night.

Different nights, many different plates of tasty food. It goes on for a while. There is lots of food now. With more and more gathered the days get longer even though winter fast approaches. Fights break out; animals and women are subject to man's boredom.

One day it is discovered that the river has slowed. Silent panic breaks out. Have they done something wrong? Only a demon would wish such rescinding of the land's precious lifeblood. Thankfully they have in their company the avatar of the water. River, however, is afraid to go look upon herself. When she first discovered the river, so many years ago, she also discovered the shifting chameleon which dances on the surface. She was so young it was the only thing she really remembers clearly. It mimics her movements, as if it were humorous. The two of them, one. It has always scared her, how the gods operate--just enough to be tempered. Hiding in fear is not temperance, River. You must move on. She does, she decides she has not come this far only to halt.

She is movement.

The village Seer is venturing down the familiar path, the one she has walked so many times before. As she walks she thinks about that figure again. The chameleon, impersonator, god of the opposite. It is a silent participant. Instead of trying to figure out who is subjugated to whom, she instead imagines herself and her partner joined at the hands and feet--a sort of back and forth movement. They all move on, the pull of the earthly body and everything else.

She explores a bit beyond the boundaries of their watering area upstream and eventually she finds the answer to this quest. It is rather welcoming one--a strange creature which has built up a filter of sorts, blocking the flow of water. They scurry about, harmless. River exists in the current of this place for some time, just watching the leaves collect in the network of interlocked twigs. One of the animals eventually rises from the water to look her in the eye. She smiles at the small brown explorer--perhaps the Seer of his companions--ventures out of the water fully and onto the shore. It clasps it hands together, shaking off the dripping water. With what River can only describe as a smile, it begins to move, seemingly for the sake of moving...

Upon the sight of her healthy figure in the distance some of the local children who had been waiting run up to great her, others run back into the village to tell the others. The adults huddle nervously at the entrance to the village. River, now close enough for them to see her expression, gives them all a smile to relieve their fear.

"River, River! You made it back!"
"Are you OK?"
"Is everything going to be normal again?"

That night River tells the story over a grand feast. Everyone in the village is in attendance. "My fellow villagers, I have found the source of the river's change in speed. Its waters are flooding upstream due to the clustering of an animal--the 'beaver' as I have defined. These creatures use the waste of the land; their collective contributions--the tiniest of morsels--have significant effects in total, as we can see. They are not unlike us, in that regard. We all help out, and look what we have built here."

The villagers smile, some of them murmuring to themselves or individually offering grunts of agreement.

"What now, though? I ask this my friends. Not to cause harm, or undue stress, but to save us, ultimately. We have come from utter wilderness. What still lies within that is yet untamed? What lies within that makes us blessed with change, instead of the victim?"

The crowd falls silent, wondering what she is talking about.

"I stood outside of myself today. I stood in the eyes of the beaver. Though apart, we moved as one....and what became of me was most exquisite. I just...moved, with sustained enthusiasm. Pure expression. To the animals, to the Earth Mother, to myself. I must create a new enunciation here: 'dancing' -- we were dancing."

The eldest has had enough. "The girl 'dances' with the beasts of her--our--problem. Foolish. Chaos. She introduces this idea with little concern for the others. The river has still slowed, has it not? This is not normal!"

River moves on, unfazed. "...Dancing to 'music'--these are the sounds. Have you ever heard them?" She asks to no one in particular. "You know how to do it, surely...." The Seer tries to further explain the ex-stasis to her fellow villagers, but to no avail.

Has she gone mad? The creeping shadows of the darkness whispers winds of criticism through the flapping door of the main tent. The sound of the wind chime elicits the same from the crowd: No one wants a spiritual possibility... we want to go home with our families.

The Eldest finally stands up, motioning for the others to come to order. "Tomorrow we will arm ourselves and confront the beast. It is decided."

River moves to a local high spot so as to watch the small procession of mostly men moving out of their comfort zone upstream. Hopefully the beavers will flee before the brigade of fools works up the courage to storm the knot of the forest which irritates them so.

When the water receded it revealed a strange landscape previously unseen. All kinds of things: some curious and inviting to exploration, and others disgusting and rotten-smelling. When they see it they will hate it. The water itself is easier to access now; the unpredictable and often times overwhelmingly strong currents of the river in its prior state made fishing and crossing quite difficult, but with the help of the beavers it is now calm and shallow. She explained this, numerous times, but the only one who seemed to understand that this change was a good thing was the youngest of all the villagers, a young girl by the name of Zora.

"It's probably just what beavers do, Mommy." she had speculated innocently.
"Well they can do it somewhere else."

River turns away from the water in the distance and instead allows her attention to fall on a tree which stands near her. She is restless. The tree, she considers, can't move at all, and yet there is so much motion in the leaves. The wind plays with them, and they with the wind. How divine. She smiles. She starts to dance with them, allowing a soft hum to escape her lips. The vibrations feel nice, along with the wind. This person is one. Holding hands with everything she steps in perfect timing. This is the order of all things. The Seer drifts off into a lullaby tango. Her worries move beneath her feet, trampled on like blades of grass. The world moves away and finds herself now in the eternal embrace. She is everywhere, can feel the twigs as they are uncombined, and the dying breath of an innocent animal. The villager's boots land demoralizing blows to a community which has to now start over. Somewhere, in another layer of thought, sadness grips the land. The river flows strong again, draining the tears.

The melody distorts.

When River at last opens her eyes she sees the village--nearly all of it--enshrouded around her. The energy is one of a decision long beyond the possibility of redemption. Circling, somewhere in the back of the crowd, is her partner. The grim spectre, waiting to be paired up. His arm is a line, of which there are two directions. "Those who cannot hear it think me insane, but what will you do when your song plays?" River offers out her hand to the dark figure, and they all walk closer.

The song is upbeat, and this woman is the instrument of bestial vigor. They rip her apart.

Zora stands looking at the blood-stained ground where the village seer lies unrecognizable, and in pieces. There is roaring scream in her head and it won't go away. The only other thing is that which mutes it by comparison: the orchestra of the cosmos.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Kay's Diner

It was right there in her diner,
None soon from heart and the undone,
Now a knot it's tight, With a smile, it's like:
To touch her mouth when it is moving.

Laugh, and drink some tea
Lonely but, how you see me
I'll mark this time
And then rewind
Oh how it felt so forward graceful

Studious essential: glasses perch
Playful jab, a coyful smirk
To her dismay I sit away
This isn't bubble hubris
She maybe likes you

Shoulda hugged her at the door
Except... the others.
If she's anything like me
She'll understand; those eyes

Riding home
All I hear are future heartbeats

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Soul Harvest

Brian lays beside his wife trying to match his breathing to hers. He is tempted to wake her up, just to bask in her presence. He does not want to deal with the pointed insomnia, clicking between his nightwardly thoughts. The husband and father turns over and over next to his wife. Trying to give up into his pillow, failing each time.

He hears something, underneath.

The slight vibrations and muffled sounds take a couple minutes to be recognized, but the cause of the sound becomes definitive: Daniel, his youngest son is still up playing video games. A slight anger is pleased to provide assistance to Brian's languid mental workings. Father is wide awake, slipping out of bed and heading downstairs to the room below.

Brian strolls into the den to find Daniel with his game on pause, staring right at him.

"Um..I was just...finishing my last game..."

The lie is feable, one that lazily escapes the mouth to fill the silence.

"It's can play."

"Oh..." Daniel responds. Confused.

"I don't know..." Brian responds honestly, shrugging his shoulders a bit. "I couldn't sleep."


"Well, I'll tell you what, seeing as how I find those games of yours a complete waste of time, try explaining this one to me and then maybe I'll get tired and be out of here."

"Alright..." Daniel responds, eyes now dancing around in their sockets thoughtfully, searching for something in around the desk area. "Ok, look here, Dad..." he starts, finally finding the box for the game sitting under some papers.

'Soul Harvest' the is black and white ying-yang symbol.

"Lovely..." Brian exclaims rolling his eyes slightly.

"It is pretty cool..." Daniel starts, pointing to the box. "Essentially there are two sides -- black and white -- and the overall goal is to harvest souls. Now, each side does it differently..." His son swivels around in his chair back to the computer screen and simultaneously hits a combination of keys which minimize the game window and bring up a page on the internet browser.

Brian can see the words 'Soul Harvest' at the top of the webpage.

"I write on this forum and learn stuff for the game -- almost everyone agrees black is the best because it's more fun if you're on the hunt, trying to survive." Daniel explains. "Black gets way cool technology and awesome effects. White is soooo boring, pretty much everyone agrees that playing black is way more fun. Playing white is just boring, honestly, I don't know why that part of the game was designed that way."

"Sounds like maybe I'd like the white team..."

"It's not a team, it's a soul class, Dad."

"Oh, OK. So...what's the overall point of the game?"

Daniel brings the game back up. "Ok, essentially the black guys are mutli-phase creatures from the start, whereas white can only achieve that later on past all the boring stuff. So, anyways, it's pretty simple, at least at the start -- you want to sneak up on a white Terrcon--"

"What's a Terrcon?"

Daniel points the mouse at a small humanoid-looking creature walking around in the game environment. "That thing" he explains. From the white soul class.”


"Anyways, you phase shift and then sneak up and click 'infest' and if you're successful in your attempt then you can start influencing the Terrcon's body to do different things it wouldn’t normally want to do. It's all about emotion."

"So how do you win?"

"Well, for black it's just to obtain the whole a soul-shell for your character -- like getting a whole black circle" he adds, pausing and bring up his status meter which is 90%."

"What about for white?"

"Well," Daniel shrugs, "I guess it's to get a white circle. The whites start off with a whole soul-shell but they try and decrease their shading of black as they progress -- I don't know really know, it's just kind of the opposite I guess."

‘Hmm’ Brian sounds, half thinking over the game and half thinking over the state of the gaming industry these days. "So do you just control one 'Terrcon' or is there more to it?"

"Oh yeah!" Daniel laughs, starting to punch in more keys and wielding the mouse with a skill Brian will never master. The young man zooms out on the environment map and soon a small country comes into view. A few major cities seem to be visible. "See..." Daniel starts, circling a city with his mouse. "It all takes place in the white world. If you can make a Terrcon afraid then you can gain BSP's, or 'Black Soul Points'. So like... I made this city to be ruled with religion, and this other one with science, and then and once and a while I can convince them to go to war with each other. That's extra points."

"Why would you do that?" Brian asks, letting out a small yawn. He's happy to be tired again and ready to try sleeping, but he is admittedly fascinated by this.

"Well, when the whites kill each other then you absorb soul points and you build more of your black soul shell."

Brian shakes his head a bit. "So, let me get this straight: You're trying to coerce computer things into killing each other for points? Well, that sounds like a real nice game Daniel..."

"No, Dad..." He magnifies back down into the city towards what looks like a church. "You see..." he says clicking on the church with the cursor to bring up a small caption above the stained glass structure. " only half of it. Where you really get points is when they cross over into the black phase. Into de-”

“Into death. Honestly, Daniel.”

He stops, confused, “What?...So when they die they enter the black phase. Depending on what beliefs they formed while in the white phase determines how much extra soul pain you can take them for. The white is physical; black phase is all mental. So you see how I have this church? You need to have some level of fear in order to soul drain from a Terrcon, which is how you get your BSP’s”

“Unreal." Brian just shakes his head, but still wanting more. "What happens in the science city?”

“Well, science cities are for beginner players mostly, and it’s complicated, but essentially you belief apparatus will catch more of the population. Less of them live in fear, so wars and bonuses like that don’t happen as much, but they hardly ever achieve a full white belief function. You want to have zero for the white belief function score, but so far no one's done it. Some of the people online say it can't be done...The company has no comment."

"So besides playing it in the first place, how do you lose this game?"

“Well, the game time moves very fast. The Terrcons age quickly. So when they die, depending on their belief function, they can get trapped in fear, or go to limbo where they sleep for a couple minutes of game time before being re-birthed as new Terrcons, or if a Terrcon soul attains a full white belief function then you lose a portion of your soul shell. Full white belief function is like miracles and stuff -- and they spread. If you lose all of your soul shell, you lose the game.”

Another yawn escapes Brian's mouth and he thinks he's heard about enough. "Well Daniel, I'm not going to lie, if I had known that's how that game transpires I wouldn't have let you get it."


"Anyways, you've bored me enough, I'm going back to bed -- don't be up too late. You have school tomorrow.”

Monday, June 08, 2009


Bowling is a game that takes place in frames, added together. When you get a strike you want to capitalize on the next frame. It has that compounding element to it. A strike is the best there is. Total perfection. It is the moment when you realize that all matter is in motion, and every waking second is the messy collision of forces, but in that prolonged moment is the essence of art and sport alike. It is everything or nothing. It is standing or laying down. It is seeing and believing.

There is a party going on in a bowling alley, and there are also onlookers. Present, focussed.

Thirteen individuals are gathered of varying intellectual anomalies. Their conditions are unfortunate for the onlookers, but some of these people scrape realms of perception the onlookers will never visit. Everyone here, in some way, is the way that they will be for the rest of their life.

“Meagan, I think you are nice.” One young man says this in earnest, awkwardly placing his gentle arms around the birthday girl. He walks up and rolls three gutter balls in a row.

One of the other girls is fixated on one of the older male onlookers. “Richard I think you are nice.” She raises one hand for a high-five.

“That’s...nice.” He lands his hand on her innocent palm, watching her blink a couple times, holding her smile and stare. He pushes a smile again, turning from her to roll a strike.

“I see an alien.” Jules stands near the small mount of shoes which await the end of this game. He is a pleasant, even sometimes witty boy. He is, of course, of some type of impairment, but doctors have found it hard to pin down. He is older than the rest of the kids, but still needs to be watched. “Over there.” He points forward, generally. He is totally harmless.

“Ok Jules, come back over here though, OK?” The mother of the birthday girl beckons him back over to the group with a smile. “It’s almost your turn to bowl.”

“But I see it...”

Another strike from the onlookers, who are surprisingly competitive for their sister’s birthday party -- and surprisingly popular.

“I wish I could see aliens.” They laugh, sparking looks from the kids; from the birthday girl.”

“K, can we get serious here for a minute?” Another strike.

Then another, but this time from the birthday girl. “I did it!” Meagan jumps up and down a couple times before running back to her friends. “I did it!” She gets high-fives from her friends. She is popular. She has the symmetry.

“Hey Meagan.” Jules sits down beside her, his large frame juxtaposed with hers. “I saw an alien. This party is fun.”

She nods knowingly. “Jules, I just got a score!”

None of the onlookers know exactly what to say to all of this. They know each other so well compared to the kids, but communication is not always easy, or at all possible.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Then the body hit the floor.

Sophia’s frame stings with the heat of love. What an inferno it can create. She would scream but there is no one in the house that will do anything. This is not new, and there is nothing but the floor. Likewise Frank doesn’t say a word, he’s always been the quiet type.

It’s just the sounds. A constant reminder for both. This external world.

Sophia was born a very special girl, and so far continues to be. Her intelligence quotient is listed in an anomalous category. Her first strip to the classroom, she explained to the skeptics her epistemology. Some of them stopped laughing, and others started. She is getting older now, developed enough that she cannot fully and permanently contain the images to which she is related.

Frank is a very clever man, for he is Sophia’s father. He reaches down to grip the crown of her skull, and feels a life force pulsing, purple with potential. He knows of this potential, but he yet remains trapped in this dungeon. These walls. There is always a way out. He tells himself this, lifting her up just to throw her back down again.

Then the body hit wall.

Frank knows, as Sophia knows, that he identifies in a different kind of way.


Helen married Frank, all that time ago. A woman never feels as complete as she does on her wedding night, and hers was a perfect. Their union was like two halves of a brain -- one person. She was drunk all night though she never had a glass. She’s always been intoxicated with him. She always will be.

When they first met, he was an athlete; a dream, really. He would get out of the shower and swoop her off of her feet. He would hold her so tight. Frank planned it all out: the future, her career. He does all the taxes, as he is a lawyer now. Often Helen will watch him late at night as he works in his office. The lamp illuminates his serious face with its soft heavenly glow. He sometimes looks up, reaching out his hand to her. She knows he will protect her, but forever she is waiting for a vacation to the mysteries which flurry the butterflies in her stomach. Her, the explorer, and he, the guide.


The Wilbers live on a fairly safe, family street. It is near a school, and there is also a park down the street. You don’t see the police around here too much, in the suburbs, but still you know that they are near if things get dire. There are neighborhood watch signs. People care.

The Wilbers are known for throwing barbecues. Nothing crazy, and definitely not loud. Just some friends. An educated group that will discuss the dynamics of life. Such people are happy, productive, with dark circles under their eyes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Kent is a native to these lands. He is nomadic, but this region alone is his home. Here we find the finished limb of a ancient growth: the evolution of man. Kent stands beneath a long-rooted tree, his kind a key affinity to the mother giant.

She has rejected a persistent stone, by the looks of him, from the thick jungle brush. He is scarred, and resilient -- unnecessary for the harmonized. He does not belong here, persay --Kent knows that-- but the winds of time blow sideways just as they do forwards and back. Here these two men stand facing each other, and something will come of it.

They look into each other’s eyes and then stranger speaks, but who can know what he says.

“Sometimes I find that I have reached the peak of another mountain, and all the ones I’ve climbed before, unknowingly, lie back before me. I can see them, just like the ones further along in my path. It is such a beautiful place up there. So much potential in the sky...the land. Then, I start to head back down, and I wonder: why does it have to work this way? Why can’t I live up here? As I descend closer to the earth, and the cracks in my brain, that’s when I forget where I am, and I stumble around, lost. I am hungry, I am alone. At night I dream of being up there, breathing the fresh air. It’s not supposed to be like this, you know. I could have a wife, kids, I guess. I chose to be here, all that time ago.”

Kent cannot help this man, but this approaching night they will sleep in the same tribe. Kent will show him their customs, and while their music is largely misunderstood, the strange man will dance before sleeping.

The Ebon Encounter

The humans know him as Ebon. A simple enough name, easy to pronounce. He stands at the front of the classroom, behind him is a nano-particle board --as requested-- which he controls by telekinesis. Mathematical formulas, general diagrams, detailed pictures. A nano-particle board is the bare minimum with a species that is largely non-telepathic.

Ebon, of course, doesn’t speak. This isn’t the arts, or anything like that. The humans bark out questions for each other, and then they all listen.


1. The armed men outside of this room are not to come in.
2. For those of you in this room, do not approach me.
3. What I am about to say, while negotiated upon, and subsequently inherent with certain political subjectifications, is correct. Do not let your emotions cloud that.
4.Keep rules 1-3 in mind at all times.


It’s just one extraterrestrial alpha, unarmed. It is a science lecture.

Joseph grips his gun carefully. He grips it, carefully. He is usually one with a weapon --seamless-- but this weapon is different. It does not fire bullets, it fires energy. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is. To this end, and being the diligent soldier that he is, he tried to obtain the specs on his particular equip. He could not find any. He wasn’t classified to know that information. Not classified? Unquestioned were the microchips, or any of the strange shots --not even his assignment to a station frequented by alphas-- but when it comes to a soldier’s weapon, you have to know how it works. You have to harmonize with it; this soldier is far from harmonized. He and the other soldiers are in the hallway outside one of the larger viewing rooms in at Del Croix base, Antarctica.

Walking amongst the honed instruments in the hallway is Mr. Daak. He is a large man with a strange stare. A thousand voices, the unthinkable at his command. He wields a cellphone, but Joseph has battled worse. “...He's watching...” He rasps into the phone. Dark laughter at his own comment. A contorted face.

There are a lot of different people in the military, just like any organization, but there is something about it --especially this deep black stuff-- that seems to attract people who are, for all intensive purposes, utterly alien themselves.


Ebon begins with some preliminary basics like the answers to a couple of mathematical equations, illustrations of famous historical figures, and Tomorrow’s lottery numbers. In this environment, one has to earth the trust of the creature. Once trust is established, original thought can ensue. Standard tactics so as to get onto the main point, as there always is one.

...Your actions here affect other places.


Special Agent Cardinal got to practice with the weapon of course. They allowed him that much. It produces a small counterclockwise spiral of a color he had never seen before. It slices through steel like it wasn’t even there. One of the scientists he talked to about the weapon explained it: “...because for that instant it isn’t there.” Joe’s memory fired at the scientist’s explanation, something a drill instructor had screamed it into his face one time.

“Son, there is more than one of everything!”


Mr. Daak continues to pace amongst the soldiers. They remain quiet professionals as he rambles on into the phone: “We don’t need anyone’s help. Fuck it. Look at where we’ve come: from the dawn of the last age, we travelled through the corridors of Gaf, up the back of the peak and down the front. We know how to waltz with the planets; to bear the burden of the sky -- we are the brightest, the sun! We make the sirens cry of heartbreak. Our craft is forever the flexing arm, forged of Titansteel, of gleaming metal feather. Born witnessed was the birth of this flood, us, Leviathan. We verge of becoming gods, the King to kings creation. Precipice gazing, we are affixed with Father’s watch, surely this is the final hour before awakening!”



“What is the magnitude of these effects?”

Ebon clears the board. He blinks, trying to think of a way to express the thought succinctly. He illustrates an atomic blast. It pulsates slowly, like the Devil’s heavy breathing.

Unimaginably large.

Now, I will show you what your governments have been up to, at present day, with your work. I do not have permission to do it psychically.


The Secretary’s stare moves with the elevator’s doors as they spread. She steps out into the 42nd sub-basement.

“Secretary.” Daak simply says the word, staring through her sharp frame.

“Where is it?”

“Door C.”

The present soldiers cannot help but watch as the Secretary slides past, gripping her pantsuit and everything else around her. Her attractiveness is one that breaks the rules somehow. As the mistress approaches Joe looks up and their eyes lock. Hers are large watery eyes, parted by the gravity of a mysterious moon, a place where the sun cannot shine. It is so cold, such a hopeless place.


...when such a thing as your ego is reborn it retains a fear: knowledge of the death of what came prior. This is its purpose: not to die. It remembers that doorway to always, because that is home.

It is nearly time to go home.


Ebon watches as the Secretary enters the room, for she is different. She is dangerous.

I see you. I will give you one warning: change your intentions towards me immediately. You are outmatched here.

Ebon watches as the Secretary attempts to mount an attack. She falls to the floor dead with a psychic scream that rips through the surrounding minds. The scientists momentarily see the laughing face of insanity and shift into a fight or flight state of excitement. Most yell. A soldier rushes through the door after a few scientists flee; he is dead and his gun hits the floor. Seeing this, two more soldiers rush through the door; they die and their guns hit the floor. A scientist, unable to get out of the room now, charges forward toward Ebon with a primal yell. He is killed instantly.

Thirty-six people die in total. The encounter is scrubbed from all records. The treaty is burned.

Friday, May 08, 2009


One of these houses is the same
One of these songs is the cane,
One of these rules in my brain
Looking to cement what’s mind
One of these days it will end
And all of these times that I pretend
Trying to care, to sew, to mend

The dreams inside me mute
Just whispers of the coming fail
My sail is limp, this boat
This liquid fucking bucket pail

Clouds of a blackened sun

Thursday, March 12, 2009


By Matt Jones 

I think if you remember back far enough, you will find a heavenly time. For me it was a long time ago when I was a spoiled kid. I had everything, including an atmosphere which would let me get away with it. There is something about being young where anything goes because children are closer to where we all want to be: sitting in the sun up on that island. God is my head and there is but one rule: don’t forget how it works---and for a time, it was good. Conversely my parents, being atheists, really only had one rule which was enforced: eat thy fruits and vegetables.

In my adolescence I was struck, as we all were, with what we came to know colloquially as ‘Twilight Rains.’ That is, when the frozen Moon of Iddarus was shattered by our brute mechanics. An entire body. A time of contemplation and catharsis swept over the world, for as I remember frozen shards of water fell down on our planet in rain, cubit by cubit. For how many days, nights? It remapped things for us here. Some would say a maturity, some would say sin. I remember exactly when I began to wonder if our post-apocalyptic remnants would see themselves perhaps ill-representative of how they came to be.

I met Lilith. Everyone did. A stubborn, exquisite woman born from the dust, it was eventually where she would leave me. I still find it appalling, looking back, that she rose to the position she did. A problem lover--a problem, period--she just makes things worse. Ironic, for her enunciations, her books...her spelling. The whore, that such a leech is capable of love shows the complexity of things. She damned me. If allowed she’ll damn her husband, their androgynous child, everyone.

It just went to shit.

So I find myself lost--a recluse for how long now? Of memories, of friends, of everything. I crawl on the dirty floor of drugs and dirty sex, chasing the transient taste of that once divine spark so that I might be ignited and heated once more. Do I deserve that love? This is what I sit wondering. That purpose of my note here. I don’t know. I can’t remember. I haven’t talked to my parents in some time now. Instead I spend the days creating my own magic. Crowley, and Dee--this and that--like holding E flat. Call it rock bottom, or call it a truth refused to be accepted, I lay here so tired.

I really don’t feel well at all.


“Well, you have Scurvy” the doctor comments. He has a slight lisp, and his pin of intertwined snakes tells me this with a hiss. Ophiuchis

I sit in the walk-in clinic’s examination room with my empty musket, a colonial dunce lost in the mysteries of the frontier. An explorer, far from home. Why haven’t I called home? All around me I hear natives laughing. I guess you never know just how far you’ve slid down those shale slopes of nutrition until you hit the foothills of an official deficiency. I’m not sure whether to laugh or to cry so I blink three times and say: “Oh.”

“Yeah, just go home and eat some fruits and vegetables...” He trails off, looking down at something on the clipboard in his hand. Complete imbecile? Check. I sense no pity from the good doctor. It is just a fact of life, seemingly, that Scurvy rears its ugly teeth now and then. Until this point I assumed it was lost to the antidotes of history---but then again, what year is this? “Yeah get some vitamin C, and once you get that into your system you will be looking a lot better. Nothing to worry about.”

“Forgive me.” I have no further words I can muster. I am running on fumes.


Later that day I am walking strong. I am cathartic: no longer a desperate fool fallen to an alien planet, but a shaman melted to its earth. The horizon is beautiful: the black sun with its dancing rays, they are crooked, nagging at the moon to turn around. Don’t. I am not home but somewhere else--and it is good. Morality? Well, that is of another order. There are those who remember where they’ve been and those who do not.

In my hand is a fruit smoothy of the largest size. I drain the inverted phallus of its contents feeding the anima. As I pass by people I muse: we are so many varieties, some of which are not human. I peer into each set of eyes I pass by. The pupil is black; there is depth. Somewhere deep within I hear the sound of a waterfall, and lit up through the suspended mist are the higher lights of a burning Avalon, my destination.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


In another world a whiteout is what they call it when unbelievable phantasms spray, blanketing the sky completely. They appeared to have sprayed all throughout the night. Waking up I could see the outline of the sun trying to beat through the putrid chemical haze that our handlers have gassed over the cornfield.

It's 12pm and I am already tired and stressed for reasons known. By whom? Is this reality? It mustn't be.... for now I am flying. This is impossible; psuedo science. I shrug, dumping nothingness onto the smug stalks below. Take it then--lunch--eat with your gaping smile, Matthew.

I wake up, for real this time, in another world where these problems don't exist. It is not dark, but cloudy.... The sun is trying to beat through.

Monday, March 02, 2009


The way to be interesting is to just dive into something. In the deep end, of course. If you make a bold statement without justification it can either sink or swim. If you’re still reading this, then butterfly, baby, we’re swimming here. Keep a rhythm. Kick with action and consistent imagery. The stories that drown, a flailing waste of time are either too calm, or carrying too much subcurrent. Let them know when the ending is coming so they are not left standing when the tide comes in, but have nothing less than the mystery of nature at the end of the day. For a desert rose is but a passing thing, and often should be that way.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


“Essentially the distinction is thus: a sign gives reference to that which is known, whereas a symbol points to the muted unfamiliar.” -- Carl Jung.

Francis Bacon adjusts his cumbersome black hat slightly, watching the man seated across from him at the large library table as he flips through one of his many books with earnest. The book in question is purple: one of three the man keeps on his person at all times, along with a few other things, most noticeably the large gold pendent around his neck. If ‘Agent’ Dee, (the first person to hold this title to Bacon’s knowledge) was not held in such high esteem one might think him to be an absent-minded idiot of some sort, with the books tethered to his belt, and gaudy jewelry with numeric sequences. Surely one can remember the content of three books, or some numbers?

Still, despite these questions, the old man’s superlative rank is undeniable. He walks around the castle grounds in a wake of rumors which knows no rival. Now alone with the strange old man, an inevitable curiosity enlists in Francis.

Bacon, not so long ago a mere writer, had seen his latest manuscript capture the type of attention which pays in this noble age. So much so that he was entrusted, if only in part, with the creation of new English words for Her Majesty. All this before the book in question, The New Atlantis, has even graced the public eye. This is an honor which eclipses all previous. So it was that the two men came to be paired up, trading thoughts beneath the flickering illumination of the chandelier above. They are positioned high in the castle walls of the clerical section of London: the voice of the English Empire, salient in a world of barbaric darkness.

Dee is alleged to be, amongst many other interesting things, a magician. Francis had lived long enough to see the rise of the true sciences, however, and suspects that this word ‘magic’ is itself a sort of sorcery of the mouth. A boastful misdirection away from natural ends. Surely the mystery behind this ‘Seal of God’ which he displays so proudly on his chest is that it hides a regular man. There are always rational answers.

John Dee lifts his head, blinking a few times as if perhaps forgetting about the other man’s presence momentarily. The old man looks at Bacon in thought for a moment before motioning to the blank piece of paper before him with his quill, and glancing into the open book one more time. “Spelling: we shall henceforth take this to mean the act of writing.” He says this out loud with careful enunciation before carefully beginning to write the declaration down on the paper in front of him.

Bacon writes this definition into his notes as well, conscious of the logic working its effects, somewhat to dissatisfied ends. “This is a...tricky approach, good agent of the Crown.”

Dee laughs at this, the older of the two men looking up again from his slow inscription. “Tis’ not trickery my approaching friend, but a path of reason.”

“Sp- Sorcery -- it is not reason; it is illusion, trickery. Everything can be explained in due course; why should we ascribe such a curious term unto the sciences?”

“I disagree, but let me applaud: you, sir, are learned, and ride the agile legs of wit down the empirical path. Men such as yourselves aliken to candles which scare the darkness around you, revealing truths. Like a keen ear to a priest’s symbal, the village person may hear the tone of your words, as you construct them with ritual and intention. You will, god willing, go far and see an age where angels descend from the ceiling of the sky.” The Agent’s eyes are slightly bloodshot as they always seem to be, suspended within dual webs of fatigue. They peer into Bacon’s being. “Your New Atlantis, as it were.”

Francis considers his words carefully, playing with his quill. “I have doubts as to whether angels with descend from the sky, good Agent of the Crown, but a world of civility surely can. I see it now, down the path of time somewhat.”

“Bah...” Dee grunts playfully. “What do you see but literal? You see no angels but you see the angles of sun, so what of the son? Thirty, thirty-three? Life is metaphor, and it runs deep. You see the surface of the code at work here, good fellow.

“What code?”

“The code of the angels: sublime in archetype, elegant. Sure, it rests in book, in a manner of speaking, but all one must do is listen to the signing birds on a bright spring day.”

“You confuse me, Sir.”

“Let me return to your question, then. What else is a spell but a vocalized intention, with inflection, that has the power to make people think a certain way? Your science will struggle to explain this with convoluted linguistics, some of which I have seen. So I act in cognizance of this.”

Bacon leans back in his chair, exhaling slightly with a small grin. He struggles to find the words to respond. He wonders just how much this old man knows, for he is opening like the ceiling.

As if preempting this thought, Dee continues. “Look, good fellow, where you-- where we stand, it is cause for certain reflections. I will die soon. That which I’ve seen, that which lies beyond your method...though large as the library has blossomed into, stands but one library, easily destroyed. The human story should be accessible to all or it will perish under it’s own foreign weight. Good Sir, we are moving into a new world; if I know certain minds like I think I do, then it will be one where knowledge is commodity, to be rationed and used for control. May our work here seek to remind the future from whence it came. In a sense, I believe this to be somewhat out of our hands. The universe talks to us when we talk to each other.”

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love Bomb

February 10th.

Holidays are many things; most people either seem to enjoy them immensely, or dislike them for the reasons that the majority do. We at the Eros Group side with the minority in that many holidays are simply consumerist whore outs, but as our name implies we represent the love which is found among us all, the real love, not some socialist catch phrase. We stand here on Valentine’s Day not just to rebel, but also to unite; for violence is a dying method. It is better to give than to take.

Join us this 14th, at 8:30pm.

Jake turns the rather professional looking white flyer over and the only thing on the other side is ‘Eros Group’ in large pink letters -- the same which were on the initial side. He drops the piece of paper back to the ground without ill-conscience, as they are literally everywhere.

“This is big” he explains to his friends on the phone.

February 11th.

“Hey! Did you hear about the thing?”

“What thing?”

“I dunno there is some sort of like...rebel group that is planning a Valentine’s Day thing.”

“Oh, that thing...”

“What, you don’t like it?”

“Like it? It’s terrorism! I’m kind of scared, to be honest.”

“Terrorism? Com’n. It’s exciting!”

February 12th.

“New in the News this week, it seems that what police have surmised is a ‘small collection of individuals' otherwise known as the ‘Eros Group’ has something rather exciting in store for Halifax on Valentine’s Day, but the question that all of Canada is now wondering is: Should the rest of the cities also be so lucky? CBC’s Jason Neumas has more.

I stand here on the rather clean looking streets of downtown Halifax, but just a few days ago, that was not the case at all.

“Yeah, there were just thousands of them.” -- Susan Minnes, Student.

Thousands, of these. The rather innocuous looking flyers seem like just another eccentric holiday message, but a closer look by the Halifax’s RCMP revealed quite a bit more.

“You see here how it says ...for violence is a dying method. It is better to give than to take. Well, that can be interpreted rather violently, in fact, and so we are also taking every precaution.” -- Corporal Sergeant Dunnie, RCMP

Some feel that the extent of the precautions are unwarranted.

“To be honest I feel like this is exactly what these so called ‘rebels’ want; they want us to stay in side and make is feel bad for buying some chocolates for our girlfriends. ‘Consumerist’ whatever and all that stuff -- all these police presence is exactly what they want if you ask me.” -- Jason Spez, Student.

While others have adopted a rather carefree, perhaps even carpe diem-like attitude; some of this based on internet buzz.

“Yeah man, they’re calling it the ‘Love Bomb’ -- it’s all over the web. This thing has gone viral. No one knows what it is, but everyone has just started opening up, you know? Telling those people from their past how they feel.” -- Alex Goodspeed, Resident.

With Valentine’s Day only two days away, the suspension will only build here in Halifax, and around the Eros group, with their aimed Cupid’s Arrow. Jason Neumas, CBC News.

February 13th.

So you guys must have heard about this ‘Love Bomb’ situation going on up there somewhere in Canada, right? This terrorist group is planning some sort of bullshit for Valentine’s Day.


I know, right? Yeah nice plan asshole, disrupt people on fucking Valentine’s Day, yeah that will get us to jump onto your bullshit cause: ‘Hold on Honey, our expensive candlelit diner may be interrupted. I see some dissidents outside of our restaurant trying to blow us up for being consumerist....

...whew, looks like they’re too uneducated and short-sighted to come up with anything beyond a bunch of flyers and a malfunctional bomb they bought on, looks like they’re giving up and going home. Did I mention I love you Honey?


Now, I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but I’m getting sick and tired of these sophomoric clown groups from whichever campus it happens to be thinking that they can simply enact social change by littering the streets with flyers critical of society with the expectation that same society will clean up after their mess--


I mean, fuck, I enact more social change in five minutes of broadcasting then these nitwits manage to achieve in their entire run has half-rate lifelong troublemakers and panhandlers. There is a point where coherent social analysis crosses over into simply not wanting to pull your own weight in society, and so getting off and by on the exhibitionist fumes of glorified violence, no matter how pink-laced and in sync with the holidays it may turn out to be--


But let’s face it folks, we are zombie buyers. I am. I might as well just print ‘My present is expensive because I’m so busy’ on my Valentine’s Day stuff but I don’t because my wife actually chooses to entertain the thin veil of illusion that surrounds holidays like this in the first place -- and who can blame her? We all want that emotion in the end, most of us just aren’t sure how to get it and so we hang so much expectation on a day that more or less sets it all up for us. The Eros Group isn’t going about this the right way, but surely these people will always be around so long as society is so utterly fucked beyond any collective psychological repair. So long as they decide to leave violence out of the equation, then I for one hope the insane ramblings of a leftist street person can unite at least a couple people. Com’n folks, let’s hear it for the love!


February 14th. Valentine's Day

“I’ll be watching you.” Mark says coldly to the so-called ‘psychic.’ As the most skeptical of the bunch, he is still confident enough to go forward. It’s not that he doesn’t have faith in the theory --because he does-- he just doesn’t have faith in the idiot which stands before him, slowly unwrapping a Charleston Chew candy bar and staring out the hotel window into the approaching night. Below, the crowd is forming, and they deserve what they are going to get. They need a real psychic for this to work, and Mark is afraid Ester’s selection in Simon is suspect. A small aptitude and a spacey brain is not enough. Anyone idiot has that. Provided he can, he still might mess it up.

“Curious thing to say to me.” Simon responds immediately, peeling back the wrapper on the chocolate bar and taking a sizable bite.

Kurtz, the IT guy, remains quiet as he fiddles with his equipment, tapping away on his laptop occasionally. There is a sound at the door and Kurtz freezes. Mark’s hand ventures down to his pistol while Simon takes another bite of Charleston Chew, still facing away and looking out of the window at the city below. “A lot of them down there” he mutters. The door’s electronic lock chimes; while Ester is due back, Mark is glad to confirm her red hair as she moves into the room.

“Update.” She asks simply, looking around.

Marks crosses his arms over his chest as if slightly annoyed with the question. “Oh we’re ready, right Kurtz?”

“Once he gets strapped in I’ll have to do a couple of last minute things, but we’re good to go.”

Mark continues. “This should go over without a hitch provided Mr. Candybar here is ready -- but you know what I’ve been thinking? I don’t know if I’m ready. I want to know about this guy before we move forward. No secrets; we’re in this together.”

Ester sighs, looking down at her watch for a moment and around the room. 8:09. “Ok, fine...” She walks over to Mark, taking a moment to collect her thoughts. Simon turns away from the window back to the room, his deep blue eyes as piercing as they are beyond. “Simon is, to me at least, my brother in law. None of you know about my sister because she refuses to speak me -- to either of us...but it wasn’t always like that. We were close friends once.”

Simon cuts in as Ester’s face begins to quiver and fall. “Me and Claire, my angel...well, we used to date. We were engaged, actually...” The strange man smiles to himself, the kind that is just sad to everyone else. Standing there like a child with a half-eaten piece of kids candy he exudes depression. Not exactly an impressive feat, though, and certainly not the one they were here for.

“She couldn’t take it.” Ester states flatly. “She’s just...” her sister cannot finish the description.

Mark feels bad about the love that was lost, but his apprehension holds now more than ever: Why choose some tag-along heartbroken loser for this? “’re better off without her, trust me.” He offers gently, glancing down at his watch.

“No...I’m not.” Simon whispers. He exhales rather loudly, scratching his head in psychological discomfort. He looks like he is about to say more, but he does not.

“ ready?” Kurts interjects from his seat at the desk behind the trio.

“Yeah cause if you can’t do this--”

“Then what?” Ester cuts in. “You’ve been showing reluctance this whole time to Simon. Do you want to sit in the chair, Mark? Do you know anyone who would?”

“Well, no I--”

“That’s right, so get positive.” She smiles past Mark to Simon, who returns hers with a shade of his own. “Simon can do this. I know he can.”

“Ok, let’s get you seated.” Kurts asserts into the conversation again, glancing at his own watch. He stands to proceed to the hotel desk chair which the team had earlier outfitted with the equipment: a neural interface helmet, heart chakra plate(s), and a special pair of nano-metallic gloves which will align specifically to Simon’s DNA when he puts them on.

The members of the Eros Group have all been involved in government projects for some reason or another. Civilian scientist stuff; none of them are trained assassins, but as a military engineer Mark had received some weapons training. Working with things that do not exist, the fringe walkers meticulously assemble their years of testing and planning around a man who is more of a mystery to them than any of the science they have seen thus far.

Strapping on the minimalist style helmet, Kurts poses a question: “Why don’t psychics just win the lottery? That would help us out so much--”

“No don’t--” Ester manages to get out.

Anger. “‘Cause I’m not some fucking whore, and it’s more complicated than what you can see with your little... vision.”

Mark is hit with a rush of seething red that is most assuredly not his own. Before he can even process what is happening he is breathing heavily: the bitterness seeps through everything to the bone. Blinding anger mixed with self-despair and a broken heart. After what seems like an eternity of this torturous state it slowly begin to fade away.

“...I’ll tell you what, you want the lottery numbers? You go find Claire -- she’s gotta be rich by now.” He struggles to slow his breathing. “Besides, that is precog.”

“Holy shit...” Kurts pants, holding his chest.

Ester begins to cry softy.

Mark is speechless.

Simon rubs his face, shaking his head slightly. “I’m... I’m sorry. I...” he trails off. “...Claire.

“Ok, we’re ready...” Kurtz announces softly, his face is white and it glances to Ester momentarily. “Are you OK?”

She nods silently, sniffing a couple times. Shaking her head and looking at her watch she tries to re-instill herself, a woman of confidence.

Perhaps these outburts are not new to Ester. Perhaps...this guy is for real. Mark struggles to accept what just transpired.

8:29. “Ok, gentlemen” Ester starts in a strong voice. “This is it. Here’s to history, and to the planet.” She smiles for Simon who looks up to return this to his close friend.

“Gentlemen, I’m sorry for what you experienced there.” He says honestly. “Those are the risks, but what are emotions if not the extremes? I promise you will like this better, just promise me you will hold onto love should you find it. Please do that.”

Mark nods. “I will” he states rather seriously, still in shock.

Simon glances up to Kurtz as he pulls on the shiny nano-metal gloves.

The IT wiz has moved back to the desk now. He types a couple commands and the equipment on Simon comes to life. Lights flash on the helmet, and the breastplate begins to emit an odd chiming.

“These gloves feel weird.”

“Good.” Ester smiles. “Do it, Simon.”

Simon positions his hands in a some strange way Mark does not recognize, slowly beginning to hum to himself in the chair as another smile creeps onto his face, only this time it is pure light. The last coherent thought any of them have: it is working. The emotion which takes over the room does not ‘hit’ in any abrasive way, rather it builds from inside, like a picture of heaven amassing over the pale veneer of reality that is the quiet hotel room. Depth. Their bodies are stripped away, and soon the ego as well. More depth. Mark, Ester, Kurtz, and Simon extend beyond the hotel, the block, and the city itself lifts up into the night. The lights of Venus; the eyes of Isis; far above is a single waiting figure, unadulterated by the time that would come after, she simply beckons closer the embrace of her friend, her smiling companion. Her hand is so close, and her eyes so divine.

My angel...I love you always.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama: Cryptic Rock Star

The 44th President of the United States of America is the first in a number of ways. Besides being black, President Obama is the first President ever to give his inauguration address entirely in musical form. The twenty (out of twenty-four) minute guitar solo, played by President Obama, who opted to not wear a shirt during this process, caught some by surprise.

Ronnie, a DC native, did not approve. "Yeah man, are you kidding? The headband was too much."

"Yeah, it wasn't even so much that it was musical --you know? I like that-- it was that he choose some extended version of November Rain by Guns and Roses. What is that? Plus, for a rock star, he wasn't -that- good." Susan Knowles, a sniper for the United States navy seals, remarked.

The second, and only other song in the inauguration, was not another solo. The newly-sworn in President simply put down his guitar gently, and then snapping his neck up to the crowd with intensity, began to slowly clap in front of himself, staring into the crowd without blinking his eyes. Slowly, but surely, the early nineties rap group 'House of Pain's' hit single 'We Are Family' began to build in volume over the master speakers and the audience erupted into a borderline sexual frenzy.

"It was sublime. I hadn't heard that song since Dance Mix '93, man." Russel Clemmons, a Georgetown sophomore told reporters.

The entirety of Obama's few, select comments during this process, were cryptic at best.

"The 'Rock is gonna Rock, and then it's gonna roll, baby" he whispered on the verge of laughter after first taking to the podium.

"Alright check it, let me tell you this in closing: I know we might seem imposing, but trust me if we ever show in your section, believe me its for your own protection." This quote, spoken with confidence and clarity before he blessed America, was later confirmed to be from Will Smith's 1997 hit single 'Men in Black.'

President Obama is a lefty, and the fourth youngest President. Only time will tell if his time in office will continue to be as novel as his entrance so far.

Associated Press.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Villemont is a small road; only through continued use does it keep its distinction from the approaching thorns and looming trees. If even at a slow rate, it is surely closing up behind them, as it should be. A net of shadows crawls up the marked white-and-blue police car as it crawls through what is, despite the street sign’s recent theft, still an official street. After all it’s their job to keep it that way; to bridge communities. Villemont exits just past the stretch of forest which separates their destination from the highway and continues on into the quiet hills.

“Listen, don’t take this the wrong way, but we’ve been issued to the Signal building, so, with all due respect, can we please just take the obvious route and not bother with this sign theft excuse? I mean, we both know what this is.”

Constable Gravel watches as the custom Ford continues on Villemont and into the small community of Montaigne. This area is just off the highway several miles from town, where they should be going, to the Signal building. Instead Gravel finds himself being lulled into uncomfortable territory once again.

To be honest, he thinks himself to be a fairly unbiased person, and he joined the force, in part to try and perpetuate a sense of fairness, one that his younger, deceased brother did not get the privilege of. Despite the good intentions, however, Gravel knows certain facts, and he doesn’t want to be in the middle of moral darkness without a good reason. At the end of the day, it comes down to the fact that Montainge is excitable, cold emotion. It is the end of reason; the abyss.

“Listen Gravel, fuck you and fuck these meonds if they think they’re going to get a break today. I know those shitclowns have a meth lab or... something, in Montaigne. We’re heading to Signal for some sort of security detail because the lights went out -- and we have to stay there -- you heard dispatch. So we’re just gonna take a quick swing through the big M, just so see if anything is going on...” Corporal Burgess trails off, the plump blonde’s careful eyes darting around, her head slightly hunched over the steering wheel.

So they start their search, a creeping high profile vessel.

Eventually they encounter a young group of black young men slowly walking along side the road. One of them is swaying from side to side slightly, assisted when needed by two of his companions. They glance over as the police car drives up and stops in the middle of the road, a safe distance from the group. One of them pulls out a cellphone.

“Yeah, we’re here” the his blonde partner barks at the one kid, continuing on before anyone can say anything. “We need some info. You know the place. No need to call up your hellions -- we’re not here for you, just answer the question.”

Gravel has come to accept the fact that Corporal Burgess is a jaded. In the sense of safety, this is not such a bad thing. Better someone’s feelings get hurt than Gravel get hurt. What the young Constable has not come to accept is the middle-aged woman’s blatant disregard for safety. She is quick to assume foul intent, but she assumes too much about the psych. Most people are not stupid, and these people, no strangers to the law, hold no fear of it. Gravel is somewhat new to the force, but he can tell when someone lets their emotions override logic and reason. Anyone can; you don’t have to be a police officer. Some potentially dangerous criminals have picked up on this more than once to her partner’s witness, and Gravel has tried his best to address this issue to his superior officer. She understands, but yet she does not. Somewhere in this lack of self control, Gravel thinks at least, is the threshold for being a bigot. The robust woman simply cannot help herself.

“You want us to get out and do a little search on your drunk friend there? Don’t make my life any harder than it has to be boy. Put the phone away, now.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The boy on the phone puts it away, leaving his hands in his pockets, staring in thought at the cruiser. Unlike the rest, adorned in large jackets and puffy clothing, this particular boy wears a plain white T-shirt; not too big, and not too small -- his size, with the equally plain pair of jeans and white sneakers He wears a black pair of glasses which thresholds a calm, calculating look.

“Burgess, I really think we should get out of here.” Gravel wants to say more but cannot build the argument beyond what’s already been stated.

She holds one finger up to the group of kids, bringing her head into the car to face Gravel. “It’s security at some corporate giant -- do you honestly think that will be time better spent serving the public?”

Gravel doesn’t think --well, the one kid at least-- is carrying, but something about this still feels wrong. They don’t need guns because they are not afraid. Not here.

The group looks amongst themselves, eyes dancing back and forth in their whites; some sort of code. “I’ll show you somethin’.” He says finally.

Montainge is essentially a loose collection of roads, some of them non-paved, through the grassy foothills of the region. The only thing which separates the small, sparse set of houses is the tall browned grass, quietly blowing in the wind. The young man slowly takes his hands from his pockets and begins to walk towards the car. The dry leaves whisper warnings in the passing breeze but they fall on deaf ears.

Gravel glances up from Burgess’ right hand, which rests on the hilt of her gun. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s enough there soldier.”

“Yes ma’am.” He stops, blinking a couple times. Slowly, deliberately, he lifts up his right hand, unfolding his palm to reveal a small piece of tinfoil wrapped around something. “This is what’s going on now.”

Gravel watches as his partner's attention is snared by the glistening hook of metal. He glances past the Corporal Burgess to see the crowd behind the advanced watching intently, faces locked.

“Ok, I want you to slowly advance and place that in my hand here. My other hand is on my gun, so don’t try nothing funny now.”

“Yes ma’am.” He slowly walks up and places the tinfoil in her hand, which she in turn reaches over to give to Gravel, still watching the boy in the fitted clothes. The boy backs up slightly and then just stands there, watching.

“What, you want your drugs back?” The fat blonde, eyeing the approached figure, forces a laugh at the boy with the glasses before turning back inside the car, hand still on the hilt of her gun. She grins at Gravel, curious to what is inside.

“Feels pretty hard...maybe a big pill?” Gravel mumbles to himself as he picks at the wrapping, trying to find the edge.

He eventually pulls away the wrapping to reveal a small pill-shaped container which holds what appears to be a small scroll of paper. Prying the two ends of the capsule apart the young officer carefully removes the ghetto scroll. In cursive is a poem; accessible and marked with the paint of brevity. It strikes to the soul of the rookie, and it strikes hard. Slightly embarrassed as his eyes well up with tears, Gravel hands the note over to Burgess. It is beautiful. It is the spear point; any tyrants nightmare.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Dinner Party

The decision to attend the dinner party was one I made in the pretext of unchoice: my ex girlfriend Katie. I have never been happier than with her, and love is never a choice, but an order you are happy to obey. Of course no one chooses to fall from grace, but the closer you get to someone the more graceful choices must be. The same goes for death. Till this day it amazes me that a connection so strong could be broken by things so flimsy. How hugs so tight could be pried open with the feathered crowbars of morals and dogma.

--I feel like I can’t talk to you: everything I bring up is some ‘mode of control’ or whatever. It’s so depressing.

--Well, I don’t want you to be depressed.

--You make me feel so good sometimes, and then’re so negative. You don’t think I’m as smart as you. How can I be with someone who doesn’t even respect me?

--That’s a reductionist point of view. I don’t think intelligence works like that. Smart, dumb? That’s...


--No, I...that’s not that I meant.

--It’s always got to be some...argument with you. Why can’t you just be nice?

--Koe...I love you, you know that. I don’t think I’m a mean person...I’m trying to be honest. Not just with us, but with everything.

--Yeah well maybe you shouldn’t!

--Katie...please...don’t say things like that.

--Maybe you should go.

I went, but not far. These days, with the shift of communication everyone’s just a touch away. It wasn’t until several years later we would talk again, online. We would exchange a few words when my heart could spare it, or when liquor came into the equation. She is married now, as that’s where she felt she needed to be around the time we were together. As it turns out, she married a doctor, following in her mother’s footsteps. I did not attend the wedding; I could not bare to. I do not remember that night, but I did phone to congratulate her eventually -- land line. The husband’s name is James, and to this day I have found no evidence of humility from the surgeon. One time I encountered him by chance at the Toronto hospital, waiting to see a specialist. I don’t think I would have spotted him out of the crowd, but he approached me. Seeing him in his white coat, a shining symbol of security, I had a visceral moment of clarity.

--Um, it’s James right?

--Listen loser, you need to move on.

I guess I am a loser. I lost her. I probably don’t deserve her. I’m a social deviant. As I said though, I’m a writer now. That is, unlike before, I have more money. Though, a few other things have changed which money cannot fix.

So it was that I, already in the city, accepted her offer to attend their small gathering. I’d see her one last time, perhaps. Just in case.

--It’ll just a couple friends over to chat. Nothing serious.

My rental vehicle turns into the entrance of the Glendale Estates suburbs where Katie and James’ house is located. I glance in the rearview mirror at my face. I do not look healthy. I stare at the bags under my eyes for a while: bruised muscle; purple tears where there are none left to cry.

The beige house in question comes into view and I notice several cars already present. I do not recognize any of the cars in the large driveway. They must have gotten a new one. The SUV? I take my time parking on the street, preparing myself. Walking up past the cars of the other guests I see a rather expensive one. Looking into the passenger side window I spot a small mirror sitting on top of one of the cup holders with trace amounts of some white powder on top. Interesting. The vehicle closest to the house is the SUV. It looks fairly new. Before ringing the doorbell I take a moment to listen to the quiet neighborhood. Somewhere kids are laughing, but mostly silence. Like the calm before some generational storm.

I knock on the door.

I can hear noises faintly through the polished wooden wood; two sets of footsteps are making their way to the forefront. After a barely perceptible pause, the door opens to reveal the pair, pretty much as I expected: both of them smiling politely, James with his hand around Katie’s waist, wedding rings secure on their fingers. She speaks first, with a controlled smile.

--Hi Mike, it’s good to see you.

She breaks free of James for a moment to give me a quick hug. I suspect this is an act of defiance on her part. The embrace is something reminiscent of a father watching his daughter at the end of the first date. She smells wonderful. For a second our bodies remember another time, but James steps forward.

--Hi Mike. How are you? Here let me take your jacket...I just made some coffee if you would like some. You...look a little tired.

--No, thanks. You both look amazing though. More so you, James. You look shiny; brand new. Have you been tanning?

Katie fights a smile I feel something within me being resisted as well. She is beautiful, always. I hand James my jacket, doing a mental double-check, making sure there is nothing incriminating in any of the pockets. He walks around the corner and I can hear the sound of clothes hangers being moved. I envision the closet as full of white coats. Turning my attention back to Katie to catch her looking away from my eyes.

I keep the conversation rolling.

--He’s such a helpful guy.

--Yes. So...well, congrats on the book! That’s really quite wonderful. I always knew you had it in you.

Her response is calculated, but genuine: I know she means what she says, but still I wonder about the legitimacy of the comment. I smile, thanking her, and we reminisce on the days when I would send her my drafts.

James comes back, and I can sense he does not like he has nothing to contribute to the exchange. James is far from a secure man, but then again so am I. We make our way into the living room at his suggestion.

The living room is modern and stylish. The first thing I notice is an unfamiliar book on the coffee table, along with a couple of wine glasses. The second thing I see is a man in a pink shirt with his sleeves rolled up. He is chewing gum. An attractive blonde sits next to him on one of the two couches.

--Everyone, this is Mike -- Mike, this is Brendan, Courtney, Eric, and Janelle.

The crowd welcomes me warmly.

I recognize James’ younger brother Eric sitting in a chair next to the couch. Courtney, the blonde, has the body of a model and an evolved sense of fashion. She is one of Katie’s friends, and she sits with Brendan (I presume they are the users) on the couch. Janelle, an older brunette woman sits alone on the love seat. I join Janelle and she tells me she teachers with Katie at the same school. Katie takes her place on the other couch, and James asks my drink choice (whatever he’s having) before continuing through the other exit to the family room to get the drink, and presumably to check on the dinner I smell. He’s not a bad cook, judging from the smell wafting into the family room from the kitchen.

Brendan chews his gum in thought for a moment, looking me over as he gets ready to say something.

--So, first book right? You make much off of it? It’s fiction, right?’s art, not some....transaction.

The comment from Courtney takes me by surprise. He smirks off her surprisingly refreshing stance, looking back to me for a response.

--Um, more than I expected, to be honest. I had sort of given up on writing in a way, but a publisher happened to get a hold of some older stuff. Yes, it’s fiction.

Janelle takes a sip of her wine. I glance over, smiling politely. She is around forty; quite attractive, and has a single vibe. She is not out of place by any stretch, but James is the oldest at thirty-four. She asks me what the book is about. Eric is drinking beer and he takes a sip, looking over in interest as well. The phone rings and I glance to the kitchen for a moment: I see James answer it, and I notice it’s on the land line; he stands there twirling the cord with his finger as he talks to someone and I find this curious for some reason.

--Well, it’s about this couple: for no reason, they just start to loose things in extremely unlucky ways. They know, their car, their house -- even their cellphones. In the end, all they have is each other.

--Oh, that’s so sad!

James comes walking back into the room with a rum and coke for me and I thank him. I take a sip, wondering if perhaps there will be more of these.

He nods, announcing to me and the rest of the room that dinner is ready. We make our way into the kitchen (Brendan goes to wash his hands) where we help ourselves to the various dishes before sitting down. I a vegetarian so I skip the meat, but I am not so hungry, so I take only a bit of caesar salad and mashed potatoes. I notice Brendan and Courtney select fairly sparingly, while Katie fills up. With our selections and plates in hand we all finally sit down at the table.

Despite my efforts to keep things innocuous the conversation falls back to me, partly due to Brendan’s insistence. He sits across the rectangular table from me with Courtney beside him, and Eric on the other side. Janelle is beside me (advancing her intake of wine), and James and Katie sit at either end. There is an empty chair between me and James; there is Janelle between me and Katie.

--So you said work earlier, but what exactly brings you to Toronto, man? Book signing, something like that? You must be busy. You got a smart phone? You want a smart phone?

--Uh, I just had to meet with a couple people...

Janelle takes another sip of wine before jumping into the conversation.

--I haven’t read your book, but from what I heard it doesn’t sound all that sad. I mean, if the couple still has each other know, what is everything else but secondary?

--Yeah but do they even stay together?

I explain that they do, but eventually they both die by the end.

--Oh, that’s so sad!

--Listen, love is fine in the books --in theory-- but it takes money to make it work. You can’t just be broke and expect a relationship to function smoothly. Most divorces are because of money problems.

--Money, the root of all evil.

--Money is the root of all pleasure -- it buys me everything I want. Check out this new smart phone: it’s essentially a full-on computer and a phone.

--Brendan, that’s not what he means.

I explain that the book is kind of a comment on society, and again to my surprise Courtney is the one nodding like a succubus at my words: the absurdity of fiat banking; the failing economy. The more I talk, the more I can feel that Janelle, perhaps disillusioned with her own view of society, starting to flirt with me. I move onto my second rum and coke and she starts to become more appealing. I watch Katie notice all of this, sipping on her water quietly. James has had enough.

--What’s the point in worrying about all of this, though? Is anyone of us here going to change any of it? No, of course not. It’s all just...academic airy talk.

Eric smirks at his brother and sends me a glance, but says nothing. He sips on the same beer as in the living room, quietly eating his food. Everyone stays quiet for a moment.

--What do you want to talk about?

James has no follow up suggestion so I ask Brendan what he does for a living. Courtney sends Brendan a quick glance before answering for him. She tells me he is in construction. The rest of the table chimes in telling me that he a ‘Jack of all Trades.’ After all of this he just sort of nods at me with a chemical security as he takes out the latest smartphone to check a message. Courtney, it turns out, comes from old money, and doesn’t really work, but has been on three different TV game shows; she is very good at trivia. I know already that Eric is an engineer.

Katie takes another sip of water, and then finally speaks, as if following my line of thought.

--There is a lot of bad out there. I think that the best we can do is just be present with each other. It’s like you said to me one time, Mike, the more you stare into the abyss, the more it stares back, right? I think James is right; we’re never going to solve any of the big problems, so we should try and solve the small ones -- just be happy.

Janelle leans into me, whispering to me that she thinks books can change the world. I agree, so long as they get read, and written. She laughs, putting her hand on my arm for a moment. As the liquor goes down my connection to Katie becomes apparent: there is so much now, all around. Lives.

--I think sooner or later you need to look at the big picture, though. Like you said there is a lot of bad out there.

--Fucking terrorists. What’s the deal, you know? Why don’t they get with it?

--They probably see us as terrorists.

The conversation starts to slip back into politics and I exercise what knowledge I have on the subject. As much as I seem to be impressing Janelle, Courtney, and even Brendan in his alpha male way, show a remarkable display of knowledge on a range of topics. So much to the point that I am curious as to how they are so at peace with the rampant evils they describe. I knew Katie and James did not care or know anything about politics (They would claim they do, of course), but I did not expect their friends to be so learned. I am having some fun, admittedly. Looking to either end of the table I see that James and Katie are not. I am not surprised.

--See, the elites of today are world citizens; they do not think in accordance to one country’s politics, and I think people are beginning to realize that: globalization hides a lot of meta-ugliness.

More drinks ensue, and souls start to bend under the weight. We move back to the living room, where Janelle is now leaning on me, trying her best to stay awake for whatever she thinks might happen. James keeps making comments to me about finding a cab. Things turn sour as Katie starts to get into our past. I urge her not to go there, but on another layer I am still angry and so allow her to. Brendan and Courtney, like all the topics tonight, soak the agitation up like another liquor or drug. They are seemingly unfazed.

“Yeah well, I said to myself: If he can’t at least phone me, then is over. He’d go on about cellphone ‘dangers’ as some excuse, but the fact is he’s just immature and scared. He’s smart, but not when it comes to a lot of stuff. I was growing up and he wasn’t. I was just looking for a normal life. I didn’t want to have to spend my whole lifetime like that. It’s ridiculous. You’re ridiculous, Mike.”

--Look around you Janelle; everything is the internet, you just haven’t realized it. You’re so vain, always holding onto these aesthetic judgements -- thats what I always hated, but I accepted you. You know it’s not that I didn’t want to talk to you. You knew that but you let the others reproach. So fuck you and your conformist dribble.

The otherness of anger takes over, and I watch someone else command the words from my mouth. The yell echoes around the room and I can see Courtney rewording what I said silently with a red grin.

--I hate you.

Katie’s quiet, seething response. She is trying not to get mad.

James swears at me and Brendan laughs like a Prince, nodding at something. Janelle leans off of me, glancing up at Katie, then to Courtney.

I raise my voice.

--Do you know why I said I wasn’t going to make you choose me or James? Because I don’t give ultimatums; I just want you to be happy. So then, what do you do? You turn around and give me an ultimatum. You’re such a transparent coward. The last thing you ever said to me for two years was ‘Going to New York.’ Surely I deserved a goodbye at least? After all we had been just ignore me? That’s so cold.

I shake my head as the pain starts to swell inside. At the end of the day she has someone and I don’t. I look up to see James paralyzed in his chair with a look I cannot read. Katie almost seems surprised at my words.

--It’s not worth it. I should have ignored this whole...whatever this is. Fuck this, fuck all of you--

Early into my previous tirade I had expected either James, or the tweaky Brendan, to at any minute stand up and order me out of the house. James sits on the couch staring forward, and Brendan, like a terrible infant, is almost giddy as the prospect of a fight; he looks between me and James with thoughts towards this end. Much to my surprise, is it Eric who stands up. I had forgotten about him. He looks at Katie with a curious concern before speaking.

--I think you should leave, now.

He does not sound angry, he sounds logical. The crowd looks at me as if perhaps I truly don’t understand something, some secret. I hear the clicks of intuition behind the raw bellows of flailing, pent up emotion -- just barely. I consider: fighting Eric, the whole room, the whole world, welcoming the floods. I consider the days I used to hold onto logic, and where it’s taken me. I consider pain.

The phone starts to ring: none of our cellphones, but the land line for the house. It rings nine times and none of us move or say anything. The answering machine finally kicks in and we can hear someone hang up without leaving a message.

Eric repeats his thoughts about leaving and I nod slowly, turning to go without saying a word. Janelle offers me a ride and I refuse, trudging out into the foyer alone. I take the time now to glance upstairs and I see paint cans and the colors of youth. The pangs in my heart rip through years of careful bandaging and the bitter excrement of gut-wrought pain spills forth into every fiber of my being. I want to make some sort of sound; a goodbye, perhaps. I cannot. I cannot control my voice. While I had suspected she might be pregnant I am sure she does not know about the brain tumor. Perhaps James will hear about it someday, or perhaps I will phone and leave a message. In all likelihood I will walk out the door and never come back. We’ve all had enough, and they have each other. We’re different people now. Yes, it all seems to end right around here.