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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

fool bee

Fool bumble bee flew right into my gaping maw and stung my tender lip.
The experience was not only alarming and painful but has left my mouth swollen and asymmetrical.

What really made me upset however, was I overheard the fool bee, sans pulsating poison sack and stinger, in his death spiral toward the awaiting earth say "Dumb ass talk too much anyway."

Friday, July 9, 2010

When the Levee Breaks

After graduation a bunch of guys from our class and me and Nate rented a house near the university. None of us were planning to go to school there, or anywhere for that matter. Nate and I had the biggest room (we had to pay an extra $50 a month); we moved our stuff in. Well, I moved my stuff in, Nate brought over two milk crates stuffed with clothes, dirty clothes.

My mom came over to help me unpack. We hung a full length mirror on the back of the door and put a dust skirt around the bottom of the bed. My mom had saved a few pieces of furniture for me over the years because 'some day you’ll have an apartment of your own’ she said, ‘and you won’t want to spend your money on dressers and couches’. She was right except it wasn’t that I didn’t want to spend money on furnishings it’s that I didn’t have any money to spend on furnishings. Maybe that’s what she meant.

The dresser was from our old house on Leyden Sreet. It was in the room I shared with my sister Drea. When I pulled open the bottom drawer to put my t-shirts in I saw the big red ‘X’ she in drew in crayon. She had drawn on little piece of paper a treasure map and then hid the treasure under the dresser; a bag a skittles, a crooked little pony whose mane and tail had been “groomed” and a glittery wand.

Mom was sitting on the edge of the bed watching me; she looked tired.

Still in the truck was the gold couch with red and blue striping. ‘This was the first thing your father and I bought after we got married,’ she said. I had spent a good portion of my childhood watching T.V. on that couch. Before we moved it in my mom walked off four paces in our new room to see if the couch would fit.

“Jen, I don’t think there’s enough room in here for the couch. Maybe you and the boy’s would like it in the living room,” she suggested a little reluctantly.

“Oh I don’t know, Mom,” I said, “maybe you can just hold onto it until Nate and I get a place of our own.”

We walked out to the living room and three of my new roommates were sitting on the floor in front of the T.V. playing video games.

“Would you guys like a couch?” she asked.

“Of course,” said Derek, by far the most socialized of the three.

“Well come help us get it out of the back of the truck,” she said.

Within in moments the couch was sitting in the living room with the guys sitting on it playing video games.

“Thanks, Ms. Donatello,” said Derek never looking up from the screen.

We walked out to the truck. “I’ve got to get this back to Trevor before five,” my mom said, “but I’ll pick you up on Monday at 11 and we’ll go out for lunch.”

“See you then. Love you.”

“Love you too Jen.”

As soon as my mom left the boys pulled out the three foot bong and started smoking.

“My sister and I use to build forts with that couch,” I said. They didn’t hear me.

*

When Nate got home later that night the other guys had made a beer run and some of their friends were hanging out, drinking, smoking and playing video games.

I was in our room lying on the bed. Nate came in with two beers.

“You want one?” he asked as he untied his work boots handing me a beer.

“How was work?” I asked.

“Good. Uncle Denny scored scrapping rights to an abandoned warehouse that use to make plastic bags. The landlord is paying us fifteen hundred bucks to take out a bunch of crap and we figure there is about six grand in copper wire we can salvage.”

Nate worked with his Uncle Denny salvaging scrap metal from everywhere and anywhere and then selling it to recycling centers. The price of copper and aluminum had sky rocketed in the past few years. They made pretty good money doing it. We spend a few evenings a week together peeling the insulation off electrical wire.

“Where did you guys eat lunch?” I asked.

“Oh, we went to Dos Palomas again. Denny has a thing for the chick working the cash registrar. He actually got digits today.”

“How old is she?” I asked knowing that she wouldn’t be over twenty. Denny had a thing for much younger women, and for some reason they seemed to have a thing for him. Nate just smiled.

“Julian has some ecstasy do want to do it? I can pay for your hit.” Nate said as he pilfered through a crate of his dirty clothes pulling out something, sniffing it and then putting it on.

“Yea, sure,” I said pulling a t-shirt out from the bottom drawer of the dresser, “try this on Nate. It’s too big for me but it might fit you.”

*

By midnight everyone was rolling. We had turned out all the lights, lit candles and Nate and I had built a fort with the couch cushions. It was our own little world. I set up an alter on top of a shoebox covered in a muslin scarf.

“Put something special on it,” I said to Nate.

He reached in his pocket and set up his zippo.

I ran to our new room and got the Ganesh statue I gave Nate for his birthday, a couple of quartz crystals my friend Marie gave me and some rose scented massage oil. In case we stayed in the fort all night I grabbed “emergency supplies”; beer, fruit (to ward off the scurvy), flashlight, and a small radio that was stuck on the Mexican radio station. Musica Romantica.

Bésame, bésame mucho
Como si fuera esta noche
La última vez
Bésame, bésame mucho
Que tengo miedo a perderte
Perderte después

Kiss me, kiss me a lot,
As if tonight was
the last time.
Kiss me, kiss me a lot,
Because I fear to lose you,
To lose you again.

With his zippo I lit a little candle. The inside of the fort transformed into a golden cave of flickering light.

The shadow of Ganesh cast a large shadow on the couch cushions. Nate and I tripped out on it.

“Everyone outside the fort is crazy,” I said.

Nate took my hand and started to massage it. He poured some scented oil in his hand, rubbed them together building warmth and then clasped my hands. My stomach fell as I gasped. Our eyes were locked, our mouths parted, our breath syncing.

“I love you soooo much Nate.” I whispered as we undressed.

“I love you too!” he whispered back as he poured massage oil onto my stomach.

Everything turned electric. Our skin melted together. Our energy passed through each other. Everything became a golden flickering bliss of roses, oil, me and him and oh fuck yes

“I think I got some on the couch cushion,” said Nate as we lay together catching our breath.

We laughed a rolling laugh that tumbled out of us.

*

Outside the fort, in the world of crazies, the front door slammed open.

“Masternate? Where are you Masternate?” The voice tore us out of our womb like a back alley abortion. “Come drink some Jager with me you fucking pussy!”

“Fuck, it’s Jimmy,” said Nate as he scrambled to get dressed.

Jimmy is the worst. He is an old friend of Nate’s and still has some macho control over him.

“Just relax Nate,” I said rubbing his back.

“Derek where’s Masternate?” Jimmy asked, “What the fuck is going on here? Turn on some lights and let’s play quarters or something.”

“We were just going down the park,” said Derek, “but Nate and Jen are around here somewhere.”

We heard the door close behind Derek and company.

“Nate you have to get rid of him, please,” I pleaded.

“Okay give me a second to think, shit.” Nate said as he pulled on his shorts and slid out the “front door” of the fort. On his way out he knocked over the alter with his foot. Hot candle wax splashed onto the carpet and the cushions. The flame was extinguished by the time the candle hit the floor.

“Fuckin’ Jimmy, what the fuck are you doing here? I thought you were still in Pueblo.” I heard Nate say in an affected “dude bro’” tone.

“Way to tell me you guys were having a party asshole. What the fuck is going on in here?” He paused as, I assume, he looked over the scene. “Nice fort dick weed.”

Jimmies words wrapped around my stomach and squeezed. I was no longer high; I wanted to puke.

“Are you going to drink some Jager with me or what?” He asked Nate again.

“Hell yeah man! Pour it up!”

I sat quietly in the dark fort listening and picking at the dried wax on the carpet. Nate, Nate, Nate? What the fuck are you doing? Get rid of him. Shot glasses clanked on the counter.

“Cheers asshole!” said Jimmy.

“Cheers cum guzzler!” said Nate.

Oh fuck, I thought, this cannot be happening. Cheers cum guzzler? Nate? Really?

“Put on some tunes,” commanded Jimmy.

“What do want to hear?”

Zep, I predicted.

“Let’s get the Led out!” Jimmy said.

If Nate puts on House of the Holy I am so out of here.

The intro starts … “Since I’ve been loving you.”

Nate is not as dumb as he looks. I’m not a Zeppelin fan, but god I love this song.

Said I've been crying, my tears they fell like rain,
Don't you hear, Don't you hear them falling,
Don't you hear, Don't you hear them falling.


Gropping around in the dark for my clothes I pick up the zippo, candle and Ganesh putting them in the shoebox we used for the alter.

“Put on Zep Four dude, this song kinda sucks,” Jimmy said.

The music stops and then…if it’s stairway to heaven I will personally pour lighter fluid on both those assholes and light them of fire…When The Levee Breaks.

The fort collapsed when I crawled out.

“Jen, what the fuck?” Jimmy asked as I walked past him toward our room.

He grabbed my wrist and spun me toward him.

“You are so fucking high.” He laughed. “Check this out,” He put his hands next to my face and started making little karate chop motions, “you're running down the hall, you turn left, you're running…” Oh god I want to knee you in the balls so fucking bad.

I walked away.

“Fine be that way,” he laughed. “Dude, Jen is such a stoner.” I closed the door before I could hear how my “boyfriend” would respond to that insult.


*
Before laying down I set up the alter on the dresser and light the candle. My stomach began to unclench as I watched the flame dance in the dark and reflect off Ganesh’s large blue head. He looked like he was swaying. The little radio played another Mexican love song.

*
Reloj no marques las horas
porque voy a enloquecer
ella se ira para siempre
cuando amanezca otra vez
Nomas nos queda esta noche

para vivir nuestro amor
y tu tic-tac me recuerda
mi irremediable dolor


Clock, don't mark the hours
Because I'm going to become crazy
She will leave for forever
When its dawn again

We only have this night
To live our love
And this tick tock reminds me of
My unrepairable pain

***

My pillow absorbed my tears.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Edge of Convict

The seat on Jake’s bike had broken off leaving a rusty pipe sticking up from the crossbar. On more than one drunken ride home Jake had forgotten the bike’s dysfunction and poked himself right on the buckeye. Phil queried if it truly was an inebriated mistake or more possibly a desperate attempt to self stimulate.

On this January day Jake stood on his pedals carefully pumping them around in the freezing cold. Jake’s outermost of six total layers was a beat corduroy jacket with worn elbows and a fur collar. He actually made money when he bought the jacket at the second hand store, there was three hundred dollars in large bills in the front pocket. After a night of hedonistic debauchery Jake figured all he bought with the windfall was an expensive hangover. Jake confessed he was sorry that one of the dimwitted kids who worked at the thrift store didn’t find the money, he was sure they would have put the loot to better use.

The moisture from Jake’s breath froze on his scarf like tiny chrystal balls. Even under the bright winter sun the temperature hadn’t topped -10. As Jake road his bike down the wide side streets of Convict his eyes watered and froze to his face.

Now the cold settles in Convict, Colorado. The cold spot use to be up valley in a small town called Chimeron but when the Army core of engineers flooded the valley to make a reservoir it pushed the cold air down 15 miles on top of Convict. Since the flooding of the upper river valley Convict has earned the infamous reputation as the coldest spot in the USA. Negative thirty was not uncommon for a January day nor was sunshine. 50 years ago a hotel in town offered a free nights lodging if the sun didn’t shine in Convict at some point during the day, a proprietary risk that the innskeep intended to capitalize on, and with an average of 360 days of sunshine generally did.

Hug’s was the forgotten gas station outside of town. For some reason cigarettes were a dollar cheaper there and so it was worth the half mile ride out of town; even in the snapping cold. A tangible seal was broken between the soft warmth of the Hug’s gas station and the sharp cold of outside when Jake opened the door. Even though the same handful of customers breech the threshold of Hug’s each day just to buy cigarettes Emad, the Iranian shopkeep, treats them with the same routine professionalism. If it were your first trip or your three hundred and seventh trip it was always the same greeting. Emad would offer a warm ‘hello’ while make a grand sweep with his arm to show off all the goods Hug’s Food and Gas has to offer. Emad would then return his gaze to the three ring binder of daily inventory spreadsheets allowing you to shop in peace. Despite his invitation to browse the rows of crappy food and windshield washer fluid ninty-nine percent of his customers b-lined for the counter and asked for smokes. As if torn from pressing business but eager to provide exemplary customer service Emad would look up from his binder and ask ‘did you find everything you were looking for?’ Jake had once answered honestly and said ‘actually I am looking for a decent manual pencil sharpener.’ The next time he went in there were a half a dozen x-acto brand pencil sharpeners at $21.99 each hanging on a peg board display.


Since that time Jake ignored Emad’s introductory question and would reply ‘Hey Emad, how are ya? Just a pack of Drum, no lighters, no rolling papers, and no porn thanks.’ Jake had also made the mistake of buying a Club magazine from Hug’s and for six months after that Emad would make a production of letting him know when the new issue was in.


The Regal Rancher Inn was on the south side of the highway and so enjoyed the prime winter sun. Jake leaned his bike on a post and planted himself on the bench absorbing some sunshine, smoked a cigarette and watched the pick-up trucks roll by.

Phil pulled up to the curb in his cream colored Volkswagen Jetta that overnights in a heated garage and so the hood was conspicuously absent of snow. Phil was from the South and was notoriously underdressed. Jake watched him walk up the street in low top chuck taylors with no socks, a pair of jeans, and a denim long sleeve shirt with a logo embroidered on the right brest. No hat, no gloves, not even a sweater.

“It’s fucking freezing out here.” Phil said as he approached.

“No shit Phil.” Jake replied.

“How can you sit out here smoking cigarettes and ride your goddam bike around?” Phil asked.

“My bike is my only mode of transportation.” Jake responded taking a drag of his cigarette. “You’re the only guy I know that owns a car, Phil. The more common of us ride bikes or walk.”

“Not me man, too fuckin’ cold out here.” Phil chattered.

Phil moved to Paradise Mountain, a ski resort town about 30 miles north of Convict, a year ago from Athens, Georgia where he majored in Business. He now lives in his parent’s condo, one of three that they own in different exotic locations, and sells weed. Phil and Jake worked together at the South American turned Thai restaurant at the bottom of the ski slopes. Jake liked working with Phil because Phil had nothing to lose and so would make his own rules. The restaurant was struggling for an identity and as far as the owners knew Phil’s just might work. One night an ”investing partner” walked into the kitchen and asked Phil if he had paid for his shift meal. Phil told him to leave the kitchen and he did. After that incident they offered him a management position and fired him a week later. Phil hasn’t worked since.

Jake and Phil entered the Regal Rancher and sat in a booth by the front window. When the door opened the cold air rushed in sending fresh clouds of steam from their cups of coffee. A family of four towns folk could slip into the Regal Rancher door without letting hot air out or cold air in. In contrast, one tourist and his wife on their way to Paradise Mountain could, with a great deal of awkward pretension, drain the heat from the entire joint as they fumbled about trying to look as if they eat there all the time.

The Regal Rancher offered a common diner menu but boasted the biggest pancake in the state. It was huge, easily the size of a hub-cap. On Jake’s first visit to the Regal Rancher he ordered the monster cake out of pure curiosity. From that day forward Jake allowed other gastronomical impulses guide his ordering. .

“Did I tell you I saw Bill Watterson when I visited my sister in Ohio last summer?” Jake mentioned to Phil after the waitress took their order.

Phil wasn’t listening. He was to busy looking over Jake’s head out the window at, Jake presumed, his car.

“I didn’t even know you had a sister.” Phil answered.

“Well I do and she lives in Ohio in the same town as Bill Watterson, so I was kind of on the look out for him. I mean ninety-nine percent of the people who read his stuff would never even know if he was sitting next to them on the bus. Not that Bill Watterson would need to take the bus, I’m sure he is loaded beyond belief.” Jake sipped his coffee, “I guess he’s really into painting landscapes.”

“Bill Watterson,” Phil looked at Jake as if he just registered he was at the table. “You mean the guy who wrote Calvin and Hobbes?”

“Yes Man, I’m telling you, he lives in the same town in Ohio as my sister, and I saw him in the hardware store.”

“Did you say anything to him or get his autograph?” Phil was looking at Jake with great intensity.

“Of course, that’s how I know he is into painting landscapes. I went up to him and said ‘Bill Watterson, I think your comics are beyond brilliant, thank you so much.’ He said thanks and that now he is really into painting landscapes. Then he walked out with a bag in his hand. I said to the gal at the registrar ‘holy shit that was Bill Watterson’ and she said she knew that.”

Phil said, finally present, “Did the girl at the registrar even know who Bill Watterson is?”

“I asked her ‘do you know who Bill Watterson is?’ She said ‘sure he’s the guy who just left.’ I pressed her ‘you know the comic Calvin and Hobbes?’ She said she didn’t.” Phil’s eyes widened.

Jake continued. “I couldn’t believe it Bill Watterson lives in her home town, she knows him by name but doesn’t know he is the single greatest living comic strip writer in the frickin’ nation. I was in total disbelief so I continued to press her ‘you know the comic strip about the messy haired six year old and his friend a stuffed tiger?’ ‘That doesn’t sound familiar.’ She said.”

“Unbelievable,” Phil interjected.

“Wait it gets worse, so I said ‘you know that little messy haired kid on the back of all those pick-ups who is pissing on Ford’s or Chevys or whatever with a mischievous grin on his face?’ When I said this she freaked fuckin’ out ‘oh my god!’ she said ‘he invented that little kid.’

“She freaked out because she thought she knew the guy who invented the Calvin decal?” Phil asked in disbelief.

“Yes, man that’s what I’m telling you. Isn’t that crazy. This gal thinks that’s all there is to Calvin, a mischievous little fuck who hates another brand of truck so much that he pisses on it’s logo.”

“That is so very sad.” Phil sighed and looked down at his feet. “I love those comics.”

Phil was obviously high. He couldn’t get warm and sat in the booth shivering. He would start in on a topic of conversation and end it quickly with ‘nothing, man it’s too fucked up.’ Phil had wonderful conspiracy theory’s about the federal reserve bank, the gold tassels on the American Flag in U.S. courtrooms, ‘that is a maritime flag which puts you under maritime law.’ and other injustices. He threatened to bring in his own flag to the courtroom if he was busted for anything. Phil was good on the initial set up for the conspiracy but had little to back it up with. Jake once asked what exactly it means to be under maritime jurisdiction. Phil answered ‘nothing man, it’s too fucked up.’

It was a month and a half before Jake returned to the Hug’s gas station for smokes. He had been sick with bronchitis and swore if he ever got well again he would quit smoking. The windows of the Hug’s were steamed up. When Jake entered he didn’t smell the usual disinfectant and slushie syrup combo but curry. Emad greeted Jake with the usual hello and hand sweep. However, this time his arm continued until it arrived upon a rotating cyclone of pressed meat on a spit surrounded by heating elements.

“Gyros,” Emad said with great pride. “Hug’s now offers Gyros sandwiches.”

Jake looked at the rotating meat sizzling under the red heat coils and said, “Sorry Emad I don’t eat meat.”

Emad’s arm returned to his side and his face dropped. Jake could see he was crestfallen. “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Emad asked disheartend.

“Just a pack of Drum, no lighters, no rolling papers and no porn, thanks Emad.” Jake responded automatically.

On his way out the door Jake noticed the half dozen x-acto pencil sharpeners still hanging on the peg board display.