THAT I AM

That I am
That You are
That Death is
More real than God
To Me

(Oh, no
Not again)

I Whistle
I Sing
I Eat candy
I Smell flowers

I Cry

Not To Be
But To Be
Not enough
No more
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ON THE DEATH OF JOHN LENNON

lennon

ON THE DEATH OF JOHN LENNON

        “I’m shot! I’m shot!” plays loudly from the record console as John Lennon emerges from the fog and shadow. He covers his ears and stares at the source of the grotesque song.

        A figure in a long robe of red appears from behind the record console. The figure reaches out his hand and the grotesque song is silenced.

RED-ROBED FIGURE

“A bit primal, but it was a big hit on earth.”

JOHN

“Who are you?”

RED-ROBED FIGURE (laughs and extends his hand)

“John Lennon, I am Jesus Christ.”

JOHN (shaking his hand)

“You?”

JESUS

“Do you remember?”

JOHN

“Yeah. I’m bigger than you again this December.”

JESUS (wincing)

“True. But your message is mine. That is, most of it is mine. Some rewording was necessary to reach your times.”

JOHN

“Yeah. Goo-goo Goo-joob, y’all. So this is Heaven? Excuse me but I didn’t expect…”

JESUS (gesturing all around)

“Heaven? No, John. This is the Heart. We all meet here.”

JOHN (angry)

“Fuckin’ expensive ticket-to-ride, Mr. J. C., sir.”

JESUS

“Hey, buddy, you went fast. The world cared. I went slow, speared, and naked.”

JOHN

“So who are you workin’ for now?”

JESUS

“I am still with the Self we all claim.”

JOHN

“Yeah? So are there guitars here or what?”

JESUS (smiles again)

“No. Whatever sounds you imagine can be made real. Just let it be.”

JOHN

“I’ve heard it before.”

JESUS

“Go on. Try it.”

JOHN (his eyes going misty. Oh, Yoko plays happily from the music console. It stops abruptly. He sighs.)

“Is..?”

JESUS

“No, John. Here we are still within Time. Yoko will be along later.”

JOHN (voice cracking)

“So what now, Big Brotha’?”

JESUS

“That is always for you to decide.”

JOHN

“Believe it or not, eh?”

JESUS

“Come on, John. All you need is love.”

JOHN

“All you’re gonna need is a good lawyer if you keep rippin’ off lines from my songs.”

JESUS AND JOHN (both laugh together)

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A TASTE FOR LIFE

taste for life background 2 - RESIZE1

A TASTE FOR LIFE

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        Trotty Wilde rides her bicycle (named) Kardashian up and down the slopes of the Coyote Hills trails at night. In these wee hours, Trotty enjoys being the only bicyclist, illuminating her own path with that 400-lumen LED headlight.

        Trotty swoops out of the trail head and onto the public street that circumvents Coyote Hills. She pedals furiously up the incline in a triumphant finale to her workout, focusing only ahead, savoring the deep muscle burn, the rapidly chilling sweat, and the bicyclist’s endorphin high.

        Suddenly a large dark automobile, without headlights, comes up from behind Trotty and side-swipes her. Trotty is flung away sideways onto the sidewalk, bouncing off of her helmeted head and rolling like a rag doll.

        Trotty can feel as she impacts and tumbles but the sensation is not yet pain, only knowledge of what pain must come.

        She faints as the deluge of pain now quickly engulfs her.

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        Trotty awakens. The pain closes upon her consciousness like water upon a hole in water. She sees a blurry figure above herself.

        Trotty hears a man saying down to her, “I have called for an ambulance. Can you hear me? You’re going to be fine.”

        Trotty faints again.

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        When she again awakens, her first conscious thoughts are of dread at being conscious. Her jagged world is pulsing with a red light. She realizes there are now other figures above her.

        Another voice is saying, close to her face, “We’re going to lift you into the ambulance. We’ll give you something for the pain when we stabilize you.”

        Trotty faints as she is lifted onto a gurney.

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        She awakens laying inside an ambulance with two medical technicians moving around her, touching her, prodding her, pulling her, saying, “We’re leaving your helmet on for a little while longer, just in case….”

        Trotty cries out from the pain. One technician says, “OK, here you go. You’re going to feel something in one second…”

        The pain now falls away like a robe. Trotty exhales. Her vision is still blurry as if under water. She watches the two pale young technicians.

        One of the technicians says to her, soothingly, “Welcome back. You were a hit.”

        Trotty giggles at the bad joke.

        The other technician says, “She’ll be marinating in happy juice now.”

        Trotty is sentient enough to realize that she is now strapped naked under a blanket. She drawls with effort, “Where are my clothes?”

        One technician says, “He knocked the shit out of you. Understand?”

        Trotty mumbles, “Yessir.”

        The technician continues, “We’re leaving your helmet on until we are sure.”

        His partner mutters, “These bicyclists. How stupid are they to insist on sharing the road with automobiles? That’s like swimming with sharks.”

        Trotty begins to mouth the movie JAWS’ ominous theme music, “Dun-dun-Dun-dun-Dun-dun…” and she splutters, giggling.

        One of the technicians says, “Don’t marinate her too much. She’ll be bitter.”

        The ambulance stops. The technicians throw the back doors open.

        They are not at a hospital.

        As they lift Trotty out of the ambulance she has a disconnected observation that they are in a dark park. Her gurney is bumping over uneven grass.

        Trotty becomes aware of a small crowd around her. She tries to focus on them. They seem to be a mix of young and old.

        One of the ambulance technicians lifts her head tenderly and removes her helmet. At that moment she realizes that all of the different people seem to have the same pale face with sunken eyes.

        The ambulance technician snatches Trotty’s blanket away. The cold night air is sobering upon her nakedness. The pain medication is diluted with a fierce shock of adrenaline but she can’t make her throat scream. She squirms desperately in her straps upon the gurney.

        The ghouls now surround her closely and begin to press their hands and lips upon her flesh, murmuring with lust and craving.

        For all ghouls have a taste for life.

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BRATWURST AND RUMBLEGUTS

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BRATWURST AND RUMBLEGUTS

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        When I was a wild kitten I was chased by that old pit bull Rumbleguts up into a great pine tree in Aden Park. I didn’t need to climb as high as I did but I was terrified.

        I cried out for days and nights to Saint Francis, afraid to climb down. People left food at the base of the tree to entice me down but I was more afraid than hungry. One of those nights a coyote appeared, saying with his eyes, “Come down little friend, I will catch you.”

        That dawn an old man appeared. The nice old man leaned his face against the tree trunk looking up at me and patted the bark, saying with his mouth, “Come on, come on, you’re keeping me awake every night,” fixing his eyes into mine. It was then as if the way down became horizontal and I was compelled to clutch bark, branch to branch, all the way down to him.

        The nice old man then carried me exhausted to his house near the park.

        He named me Bratwurst.

        Otherwise it was a good situation. My mother had told me to find a human.

        The old man’s neighbor owned the old pit bull Rumbleguts. At first Rumbleguts would get all agitated when I sat on the fence, well out of his reach. He was blind in one eye and he was missing pieces of his face from his fighting days (he would tell me later), and he got himself rescued by our neighbor before they could kill him when he couldn’t fight anymore.

        Humans. Killer Angels.

        My human took me to a veterinarian at the Cornell Feline Health Center for a “routine checkup and shots”. The veterinarian said, “Bratwurst has Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). It is a viral disease of cats caused by certain strains of a virus. Most strains do not cause disease but in a small percent of infected cats (5 to 10 percent), either by a mutation of the virus or by an aberration of the immune response, the infection progresses. With the assistance of the antibodies that are supposed to protect the cat, white blood cells are infected with the virus and these cells then transport the virus throughout the cat’s body. An intense inflammatory reaction occurs around vessels in the tissues where these infected cells locate, often in the abdomen, kidney, or brain. It is this interaction between the body’s own immune system and the virus that is responsible for the disease. The disease is progressive and is almost always fatal. The way clinical FIP develops as an immune-mediated disease is unique, unlike any other viral disease of animals or humans.”

        The veterinarian suggested “putting me to sleep” but I sleep just fine. My human said that as long as I had an appetite he would keep me alive. When would I not have an appetite?

        My mom told me that the lifespan of an outdoors cat was 12 moons so I wasn’t worried. Twelve moons is a long time.

        Then one night I met Katalina, a golden long-hair cat. She was from the next neighborhood. We climbed up into “my” pine tree in Aden Park and we talked all night, talking of our three moons so far and imagining the moons to come.

        At dawn Katrina left, saying that we would meet again someday. Occasionally after that I would think I heard her far away crying to the moon. I might have been dreaming.

        Rumbleguts and I became friends, which was lucky because he could dig under his gate any time he felt like it (that’s how we first “met” when he chased me up that pine tree). We would cruise the neighborhood together. He took me under his tongue. People would point and be amazed and take videos, yet they would always stand aside. Ugly old Rumbleguts was my protection and I was his lost eye and ear and nose.

        One day when we came back to Rumbleguts’ house there was someone at the front door talking to Rumbleguts’ human. When Rumbleguts and I squeezed under the gate into the backyard we saw another human opening a window and trying to climb in.

        Rumbleguts charged and jumped and chomped onto the foot of the intruder human slipping through the open window. The human screamed. Then there was a loud bang. Rumbleguts fell down onto his side and stopped moving. I heard Rumbleguts’ human shouting and the intruder human jumped out the window and ran across the backyard and climbed away over the fence.

        Rumbleguts’ human picked up Rumbleguts and cried out again and again. He put Rumbleguts into the front seat of his automobile and he crashed through the closed gate and he drove screeching away down the street.

        My fur stood on end for a long time.

        Then I was lonely.

        That night I climbed back into “my” pine tree in Aden Park and I sang for poor old Rumbleguts who had first chased me up there.

        It wasn’t the same without Rumbleguts. I had to be a lot more cautious. I spent more nights up in “my” pine tree just watching the stars creep.

        One moon I saw Katalina at the edge of Aden Park. She was coming toward my tree, singing. I joined her song. She was still far from my tree when I saw the coyote emerge from the bushes. My fur stood on edge. How often had he been there? I wanted to run farther up the tree.

        Katalina saw the coyote and began to run to “my” tree. I could see that she wouldn’t make it. Without thinking I leapt from the tree and charged at the coyote, hissing and crying out. The coyote became confused for a moment and stopped and stared at me. Katalina would be almost at the tree now.

        I was jumping and hissing and crying out, a whirling aberration, but the coyote now could see I was a dead cat leaping and he charged at me. I could see Saint Francis as my few moons passed rapidly before my eyes. But then…

        I heard the hoarse bark, the savage growl, and I saw the charging form of a dog startle the coyote. The coyote turned and fled across the park. It was Rumbleguts! Rumbleguts chased the coyote until I saw Rumbleguts halt wheezing and coughing. I looked back at Katalina up in the pine tree and then I dashed toward Rumbleguts in disbelief.

        Rumbleguts was weak and shaking from his exertion. It took me a minute to see that Rumbleguts now had only three legs.

        I rubbed on Rumbleguts wet face. He licked me. Katalina joined us and we stayed with Rumbleguts until he could hobble back to his backyard, where his human had not replaced the shattered gate. We stayed with Rumbleguts there until he fell asleep.

        Rumbleguts got to see my children before he died. That made me happy. I don’t care what the barking dogs say, Rumbleguts was ahead of his time.

        Now my moons are waning. I have become skin and bones but I haven’t lost my appetite yet. I lose my balance sometimes but I still enjoy the sun in the backyard, even if I can’t jump up on the fence anymore or climb “my” pine tree or even dare to venture all the way to Aden Park anymore.

        I died in my sleep, dreaming of Rumbleguts and Katalina, and now we run together in Aden Park where even the coyotes eat only apples.

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IMPERFECT PEBBLES

imperfect pebbles

IMPERFECT PEBBLES

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          I am Old Medicine and I have come to this mountain creek in the white of winter to settle my death.

          This creek yet flows through the frozen tears of the Great Spirit.  In the throat of this flowing creek I see many pebbles colored with the memories of sunlight.  I reach into this yet living water but the cold makes my hand turn very heavy, reminding me, stroking my hand, reminding me.  One by one I borrow pebbles to make a beautiful arrangement on behalf of my death.

          Great Spirit, how could I possibly have added to your sovereign purpose?  How can I possibly honor you now except to kiss the life that was never mine and return it gracefully?  What other arrangement do I have time to understand as an old man?

          I am old and frozen with lies.  I now need freedom.

          These pebbles are imperfect and that is their beauty and I arrange them in the symbols taught to me long ago by my mother and never forgotten.

          Still, I am not finished arranging my pebbles when the child of my death appears to me.  He reaches for my cold fingers…

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        FUCK!! AND NOW HE FUCKING TRIPS AND FALLS FACE DOWN IN THE SNOW.  GOD DAMN IT!

        CUT!

        GOD DAMN IT, GREAT SPIRIT LIFE INSURANCE, TAKE THREE!

great spirit life insurance

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THE CUTTERS LOUNGE

 cutters lounge A

THE CUTTERS LOUNGE

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        Tonight is Swinging Dicks’ Night at The Cutters Lounge cigar bar.  There are to be no women.  So why is The Katman’s daughter serving the ceremonial Clynelish 20-year old Scotch to Michael, Rick, David, and me?

        “My dad is running late.  He said to start with his recommended appetizers.”  She holds out a tray of New Havana cigars.

        Michael turns his head, blows a billow of smoke and converses with it.  “There aren’t supposed to be any … girls tonight.”

        Katie curls her lips at him, “Why?  That never stops you from scratching, farting, and belching.”

        Michael’s head whips back at her and he tries to give her his most foreboding stare of doom.  Katie turns and sways away to the counter out front, scratching her ass at him.

        Rick grins and pleads after her, “Everything out there in the world is for women.”

        I add, calling out lamely, “Civilization is a feminine concept!”

        Rick turns to me in seriousness, “It really is, you know.  Think about it: the highest compliment paid to the most advanced invention is ‘a woman can do it’”.

        Michael says “Yeah?  What about France?”

        “Huh?”

        “They were supposed to be the highest civilization once, and they wore powdered wigs and silk stockings!”  Michael leans back in triumph.

        Katie calls from the front counter, “Yeah, yeah.  Without women men would just fish and drink beer.”

        “And smoke cigars!” says Rick.

        “How can she hear us?” I ask incredulously.

        “She’s young,” says David, laughing at me.

        Michael persists, saying loudly, “All real men used to hunt, …seek, …endure…

        Rick interrupts him at his own peril, “Men hunt, women nest”, quoting from the old Seinfeld show.

        “…and all real women, yes, tended the campfire and the children,” Michael finishes, glaring at Rick.

        Katie shoots back, unseen from the front counter, “And women made damn sure the Men stayed away from the children.  They’ll fuck anything.”

        David bursts out with mock indignation, “How dare you insult my better half?”  He grabs my hand.

        I say wryly, “Not tonight, dear, I’m constipated.”

        “Maybe I can help?” he whispers.

        Michael makes a retching sound.  Rick chimes in, “A little too civilized, gentlemen.”

        The Katman enters.  We stand.

        I bow.  Rick curtsies.  Michael salutes smartly.  David flings his right arm out with a “Heil, mein Meister”.

        The Katman seats himself upon the massage recliner Throne and proceeds to hold court, allowing the obvious question from David, “How did the meeting go?”

        The Katman lowers his eyes and warms the foot of his cigar, revealing, “This is a Fausto.”

        I ask humbly, “Is it as good as the Avion?”

        “Better,” says The Katman as he savors the ignition.  “You’ll all try one.”

        “What about the meeting?” insists David irreverently.

        The Katman states matter-of-factly, “It’s going to be a fight.  The government is hell-bent on regulating cigar blends.”

        “Why?” asks Rick rhetorically, “This isn’t cigarettes.  This is wine tasting.”

        Michael says, “It’s what bureaucrats do.  The government can only grow.”

        “Until the revolution!” I conclude, trying to be weighty.

        David shakes his head, “The German government strictly regulates beer.  They sure haven’t ruined that.”

        “A Cigar Czar?” Rick contemplates out loud, “Quality control for blending?  Now that’s a government job I’d like to have!”

        The Katman watches and listens as his court debates, his eyes pulsing red with the glow of the Fausto cigar tip.

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STALKING EMMA STONE

stalking emma stone

STALKING EMMA STONE

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        The homely young man, Justin, posed alone in front of his reflection holding the rifle, speaking his best bad-ass, “We all die.  Some of us need to die sooner.”

        Thou shalt not kill

        “Thou shall not murder.”

        What is murder?

        “Murder is killing without Justice.”

        What is Justice?

        “Justice is balance.”

        An eye for an eye?  Where does it end?

        “Justice.”

        How can you be sure you aren’t interfering with God’s Justice?  Even Evil bends to God’s will

        “How can you be sure there is a God?”

        If there is no God, there is no Justice; only random choice or personal whim

        “So I need God for True Justice, God for to kill righteously?  OK, then ‘God guide my hand’.”

        That is hollow

        “So are my bullets.”

        Justin held the rifle behind his back and leaned forward to kiss his drawing of the actress Emma Stone that he had hung beside his mirror, sniffing, “Good-bye, I still love you.”

        Justin lived alone in his apartment.  When he was a child his father had shot to death his mother and her friends in a custody battle.  His father was still on death-row.  Justin dwelt in the government foster-care system until he “aged out” at eighteen years old.  He was on his own from then on in the dark forest of statistics.

        Only half of foster youth will graduate from high school. Fewer than 10 percent of foster youth enroll in college and only 2 percent actually graduate.  More than 25 percent of foster youth will become incarcerated within two years after they leave the system.

        But Justin found a job working at Liberty Supplies gun shop.  The owner, Ravid “Rabid” Kohn, had listened to Justin’s story and he had taken Justin under his wing.  Justin could legally work there and legally own a rifle, yet not own a handgun until he became 21, and he couldn’t sell firearms until he became 21.  Justin had thought about just joining the military at 18, but he was afraid of another government system.

        Justin wanted to be friends with Rabid’s tough little daughter, Karni, who also worked at Liberty Supplies, but Karni soon became jealous of her father’s doting attention on Justin, her father treating Justin like the son that he never had.  She would tell her friends, “Justin is ugly, so I only pretend to be friends, ‘to keep my enemies close’.”

        Karni soon enough found out about Justin’s obsession with the actress Emma Stone.

        Justin gushed, “I posted how much I liked her on her Facebook blog and she posted me back, saying, ‘Thanks :)’.”

        Karni sneered, “That wasn’t her.  She’s got dozens of publicity agents running that Facebook site.  I could have sent that answer for all you would know.”

        Justin had only Emma Stone that he treasured and he sounded inordinately hurt by Karni’s words, saying, “She wouldn’t do that.”

        Karni shook her head as if at an ignorant child, saying, “She has 30 Facebook sites.  I looked.”

        Justin replied fiercely, “I posted on her personal blog.  It said so!”

        Karni mocked, “Oh, Facebook said so.  You can only post the truth on Facebook, I forgot.”

        That hurt Justin and Karni sensed the terrors starting to ooze through his dented faith in Emma Stone.

        Yet, together, Justin and Karni would use Liberty Supplies’ test shooting range in the basement.  They made good competitors.

        Rabid had several “special customers” to whom he made “special sales”, yet he trusted Justin and Karni to be silent when he would let them try “special” sniper scopes and “special” elite weapons in the shooting range in the basement.

        Karni grinned with satisfaction as she was now beating Justin regularly on the range.  That crack about Emma Stone really got to you.  It was his gaping, palpable weakness.  Karni said to her friends, “He is a hollow fragile retard.  I figured out how to get him to get rid of himself.”

        Karni searched the internet for alternate truths about Emma Stone, “Oh, this is good”:

“She’s just not a pleasant person. I have no interest in spending time with this person, let alone looking at this person.  It was hard to achieve any form of friendship relationship…She’s convinced everyone that she’s this thing when she just isn’t…She’s a bitch.”

        And Karni soon discovered that Emma Stone likes black tar heroin.  She forwarded all the links to Justin’s sad little Facebook account.

        Later Karni found the right moment to comment casually while together with Justin on the shooting range, “Hmmm.  You know, Justin, I’ll bet you could get rid of someone just about anywhere with this stuff and nobody would ever know it was you.”

        Justin responded nervously, “No way.  You mean like the President?”

        Karni replied, “I mean like Emma Stone.”

        Justin was aghast, “What?”

        Karni said again, “Like Emma Stone.  She is fooling everyone and she is becoming so famous and she’s a lying tramp.  I’m getting sick of her, aren’t you?”

        Justin wavered, “What, what, how…”

        Karni hissed, “It might take two of us to be sure of succeeding.  But I could do it myself if I had to.  Listen to me.”

        And they talked for an hour, back and forth.

        Justin then brooded broken-hearted and alone in his apartment over what Karni and he had discussed.  Justin made up his mind and stood before the mirror, arguing with himself, grasping his rifle, the “special” compact sniper rifle with silencer that could fold into an apparent briefcase; a briefcase that could snap back into a sniper rifle with a press of a secured button.  Justin then held the rifle behind his back and leaned forward to kiss his drawing of Emma Stone that hung beside his mirror, sniffing, “Good-bye, I still love you.”

        Emma Stone was to host The Amateur Film Academy’s “Breakthrough Awards” that night, being held at the quaint old Stayfree Pavilion, a red-carpet venue downtown.  The back entrance was visible from dozens of rooms in the old high-rise apartments surrounding the Pavilion.  And that was a good decoy for the positions that Justin and Karni took on two separate rooftops across from each other as they arrived separately in the mid-morning before security was established.

        Karni had found out days ago that some twit had tweeted that Emma Stone, and not some stand-in, was going to attend the rehearsal that morning.

        Justin and Karni saw each other’s face low above the two rooftop parapets.  After several minutes a luxury car, not a limousine, pulled up at the rear entrance.  Emma Stone emerged alone from the backseat, opening her own door, dressed in nondescript casual attire and sunglasses.  Justin was nearly bloated with adrenalin but he noticed Karni’s barely perceptible nod.  He saw the barrel of her rifle creep over the parapet.

        Justin slid his own rifle barrel over the edge of the roof.  He saw Emma Stone chatting with the driver, not in any hurry.  He looked over at Karni’s position.  They had agreed to fire together, they had practiced.

        Justin suddenly shouted, “NO!” and stood erect and he fired toward Karni’s position, shattering a cloud out of brick mortar near Karni’s cheek, stunning her.  Emma Stone and her driver glanced up startled but they did not run.

        Justin screamed down to Emma Stone and her driver, “RUN!” and he fired again at Karni’s position, not realizing that Karni was dazed and already immobile behind the parapet.

        Emma Stone was tackled by her driver and pushed to the side of the vehicle.  Her driver yanked a pistol from his jacket.  Emma Stone screamed, “WHAT THE FUCK?” as the driver aimed upward at Justin and emptied his gun.

        Later, Karni confessed crying to the police that she was not going to shoot and only wanted Justin to fire and take the heat and be out of her life forever, saying, “I figured he wouldn’t hit her.  And I don’t really hate Emma Stone.”

        Karni’s father was questioned but he had too many connections and he was quietly absolved.

        But, after the whole story was sorted out, and against all advice, Emma Stone actually empathized with Justin and visited Justin in jail.

        Justin told Emma Stone,  “I went along to stop Karni,” sighing, “This makes it all worth it.”

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I HAVE NEVER BEEN

i have never been

I HAVE NEVER BEEN

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        Remember that old movie It’s a Wonderful Life?  I was like that silly second-class angel Clarence who begged for a chance to earn his wings.  But you never prayed for me, Polonia.  And then the bells that I finally heard ringing were for another man.

        I have been in your embrace.  I have never been in your heart.

        And now I am adrift in the gulf between this moment of my life and the last time you ever spoke to me, Polonia.  I’m an Urbana cop, for goddsake.  I can’t afford to be so pussy and so distracted.

        It was two weeks before your wedding.  It was going to be a traditional Polish wedding.  That whole neighborhood of Urbana thought it was zajebiscie! (fucking great!).  Your parents tried to be happy for you, but, O Moj Boze (Oh My God), they still invited me.  I swear I think they wanted me to break up the wedding.  Sure, old custom forbids the exclusion of anyone in the village from being invited to the wedding, but then your parents really liked me.  And I liked them.

        I’ll never know what you saw in him.  Was it “bad boy” sex?  Really?  It’s me who would read those books you had for your Literature class just so you could talk about them with me; like that Withering, …Wuthering – whatever – Heights.

        And you would still say kretyn (cretin) things to me like “He’s like Heathcliff and I’m like Catherine.”

        Polonia, the guy’s just an asshole.  It was me who took you to those Gershwin concerts.  And I only liked “Rhapsody in Blue” for your sake.

        You would say things to me like, “You think he’s taking me for a ride.  You can’t be convinced of his sincerity.  You think I’m naturally trusting and that I believe what I want to and I’m being taken.  It really hurts me to have such a beautiful and meaningful thing as our relationship degraded so, and especially by you.  Oh, my dear sweet friend, you are immature in some ways, and you can’t really conceive of or understand this kind of love.”

        Odpierdol sie ode mnie! (Get the fuck off me!).  Wait, I didn’t mean that.  I just knew it was wrong.  You were supposed to be with me.  How could you not understand my kind of love?

        So I was primed when my partner and me got the call for a disturbance on Ridgeway Avenue; a wild party.  We could hear the shrieking from the street below.  We went upstairs and before I could even rap on the door it was yanked inward and a drunken asshole stumbled right out against us and puked on my shoes.  What we saw inside was more of God’s glorious little plan for me.

        It was his bachelor’s party.  A roomful of drunken assholes.  He was on his back on the floor, naked except for a grass hula skirt, arms and legs tied to furniture, and there was some hooker squatting down over his face.  One of his shit-drunk Navy buddies was hollering, “You’re crossing the equator now!”

        In a sideshow his “Boris” was rising up like a charmed snake out of his grass skirt.  His other szkorbut (scurvy) friends shrieked laughter and poured a bottle of wódka Polska (Polish vodka) on it.  Pierdol sie (Fuck me), I was… was… indignant when I realized that his “Boris” had lipstick stains on it.

        I hollered, “Police!  Listen up!  Knock it off!” but it still took a minute before my words penetrated that disgusting… rozpusta (debauchery).

        He was still on the floor and tied to the furniture as the hooker stood up and quickly went to the rear of the crowd.  His red-rimmed eyes finally recognized me.

        “You?” he snarled, “What the fuck are you doing here, asshole?  Get the fuck out!  This is my fucking bachelor party, goddamit!” and then he was supported in all this by the chorus of his drunken cohorts.  I pulled out my baton and stepped into the center of the ring over him, wagging my baton with angry restraint, “Shut up!”

        Then I felt warm liquid on my pant leg.  I twisted to look down.  Incredibly, he was peeing up onto my leg and laughing!  In one reflex I swatted his ugly “Boris” with my baton and then dropped, plunging my baton down onto his poorly concealed nut sack.

        The crowd gasped and moaned for him.  But he was so numb drunk that when his body convulsed he didn’t seem to feel it.  I rose up enraged and I hollered to those surrounding zombies, “Untie him!”

        My nervous partner whispered, “What are you going to do?”

        I cried, “Assault with a deadly weapon!” and I spewed my gaze like a blowtorch around the room, daring any challenger, chewing my words, “And the rest of you fucking assholes get the fuck out of here unless you want to go to jail too!  Party over!”

        My partner added lamely, “No driving!”

        Those perverts stumbled out, stepping over and around him, making the sign of the cross, wishing him the traditional “bread and salt” wedding blessing.  I could hear them thundering down the stairs outside.  I yanked him to his feet and glared into his blindly belligerent excuse for a face.  He was lucky that my partner was still there.  Together we ‘cuffed him and lowered him down the stairs one misstep at a time, him still only in his grass skirt.  When I rumpled him into the backseat I told him that if he puked he was going to wear it.

        My partner asked soon enough as we started to drive, “Where are you going?”

        I said, “To someone who will be glad to see him.”

        My partner moaned, “Oh, no.  Not that.  You can’t do that.  You’ll get us both in trouble!”

        But I drove to your parent’s house where you were staying while you were away from college for the damn wedding.  I told my partner, “Wait here.”  I grabbed him from the backseat, deliberately banging his head on the door, then him yelling, “Hey, fucker!”  I really hoped that your parents would answer the door with you.

        You alone opened the door and gasped, “O Moj Boze!  What happened?  Is he alright?”

        I asked, “Are your parent’s home?”

        You didn’t get it and replied, “They went to a movie, dzieki Bogu (thank God)!  Bring him into my room.  Why is he handcuffed?  O Moj BozeHe stinks!”

        As we both supported him down the hallway I gritted my teeth, saying, “You have no idea.”

        He suddenly started to struggle against me, mumbling, “You get the fuck away from us!  Leave us alone!”

        I sat him on the floor against the footboard of your bed and ‘cuffed him to the two posts.  I stood up and looked around your room.  Your mama and papa still left it a girly room, still with the lace curtains and dolls on the bed.  But there was that monolithic bookcase with all your “literature”.  And your flute, displayed on your high-school music stand, surely by your mama and papa.

        You finally stood right in front of me, demanding to know, “What happened?  Why is he handcuffed?  Why did you bring him here?”

        I said gravely and slowly, “He was… you should have seen…it was out of control…there was…” I exclaimed finally, “He peed on me!” pointing to my pant leg.  And then we both saw the vomit stains on my shoes.

        You reached out and held my forearm and then you burst laughing.  I couldn’t help it: I laughed with you.  You look down at him and started to say, “Poor…” when you noticed his lipstick-stained “Boris” joining the party once again.

        You looked back up at me and you raised one eyebrow.  I just wouldn’t corroborate that pained quizzical expression.  But I reached for you with my other hand and I pulled you toward me.  You stared into my eyes and did not resist.  I embraced you and I kissed you hard, bending your neck back, and you did not resist me.

        You did not resist me.  I pushed you gently backwards until the edge of your girlhood bed buckled your knees and we fell slowly together.  I could not stop devouring your tongue.  I slid my hand up your thigh, raising your skirt.  You moaned and I felt you try weakly to push me away.

        I lifted the crotch of your panties using my thumb and forefinger like a napkin ring.  I stroked you with my knuckle.  You were breathing fast through your nose, but you did not stop kissing me.

        I released your panties and I groped to undo my belt buckle.  You grabbed my belt-loop.  You shed my pants wiggling them past my buttocks like a snake-skin.  I held the crotch of your panties aside and I plunged into you.

        I heard myself gasping, “O Moj BozeO Moj BozeO Moj Boze!” over your counterpoint, “Uh-Oh!  Uh-Oh!  Uh-Oh!”  Your girlhood bed was oscillating like a steam jackhammer.  Then we both finally noticed the loud bump-bump-bump-bump-bump! each time we merged, and him complaining, “Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!”

        His head was being knocked over and over against the foot of the bed.  As appealing as that was to me, that ruined it for you.  You laughed.  I laughed.  We both exploded laughing.  I sat up, resigned.  But I was left with “one in the chamber” as we came to our senses (if nothing else).  I kicked the foot of the bed one time, “Ow!” but you stopped me, not laughing now.

        You said, “Mama and Papa will be home in a half hour.  You must go, take him.  Please do not hurt him.  Take care of him tonight, please?  For me?” adding, “I am so sorry.”

        My partner had been in the car all that time.  When we got back to the station he told the sergeant everything.  The rest of the night I had to watch him and make sure he didn’t choke on his abundant vomit.  I couldn’t even sit down because of my cramped “blue balls”, thank you.

        Of course, he became a heroic legend to all his Navy buddies after that night.

        Out of respect for you, Polonia, I did not attend your wedding or the reception.  But you, you have never spoken to me again.  When I drive by you will not wave and you pretend not to see me?

        I have been in your embrace.  Was I ever in your heart?

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ORCHARD OF THE GOLDEN APPLES

orchard of the golden apples

ORCHARD OF THE GOLDEN APPLES

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        She never let him cut her.

        Docteur Beau Tétravaux, who is the creator deity of The California Beauty Factory, may have been chosen to co-host the annual Golden Apples Pageant for The Most Divine, but Selendra refuses cosmetic surgery.

        The California Beauty Factory is a universe and Dr. Beau Tétravaux is its Big Bang.  It is a Régime of distaff discipline, diction, discourse, diet, depilation, deportment, demeanor, dance, dysmorphia, and doinking, indeed.

        Dr. Beau Tétravaux is warning Selendra, “You do know that you are going to be dans les concurrents supérieurs (within the top contestants), don’t you?  Mousse, Victoria, Chera, and you, ma chérie, each of you are so ‘sure’ that you are the fairest creation since the Un-Do Button.”

        Selendra asks, “And what does Señora Espejo think?”  Señora Espejo has long been associated with the Golden Apples pageantry.  She is Dr. Beau Tétravaux’s gadfly counterpart with her Manhood Academy.  Señora Espejo’s famous quote is:

In this world, that which is truly important is no longer left to chance.  You can live by the Design of Nature, or you can live by the Nature of Design.  Those who live by the Design of Nature want and those who live by the Nature of Design give.

        Dr. Beau Tétravaux is dismissive, “Señora Espejo?  What is she to you?  What she thinks about women is mode à reculons (fashion backwards).”

        Selendra taunts, “And yet she is co-hosting the Apples with you; won’t that make her a hectoring reflection?”

        Dr. Beau Tétravaux puckers, “Ooooo, if only Wit were a Talent Category: you wouldn’t have to rely on your Freestyle Rap performance.”

        Selendra waves away his piqûres (jabs), asking, “So, what do you have for me today?”

        Dr. Beau Tétravaux leers, “A Trojan horse.”  For it is Dr. Beau Tétravaux who instructs the Bed Test course himself.

        Selendra blushes at the coup.

        Selendra was enrolled as a young girl into The California Beauty Factory by her father, Kebenaran Dunia, the CEO of Avidya Communications.  He would always say to her “Beauty is currency in this world.”

        Selendra’s mother had objected to that enrollment, saying, “Women are only the currency of your ambition.”

        Kebenaran soothed, “I should have said that femininity, the feminine principle, is the currency of our world.  Beauty is its denomination,” and tilting his head to her in a calculated move from his youth, “You are my treasure.”

        Selendra’s mother would not be soothed, “I am your wife, the mother of that child.”

        Kebenaran grew ominously conciliatory, “I am sure that you do not forget history.  When tribes, and even states, encountered one another they exchanged beautiful women and beautiful men to purchase the peace between them.  Would you return us to the masculine principle of War?  Although, War was once indeed the sole forge for the greatest material advances of Man: flight, food preservation, the internet, virtual sex, …”

        Selendra’s mother dared to challenge, pronouncing, “Woman is the forge of Man’s soul.  And what is this Man’s world now but warfare dissimulated?  Men like you have fouled the forge, creating this world to stave off the feared obsolescence of your own version of masculinity!”

        Kebenaran’s jaws grew tight, annealing fury, saying, “You sound like a Leper,” using the common slang term for those who still believed in the Design of Nature.”

        Selendra’s mother must have known the consequences of her words, and yet she spoke, “Any sufficiently advanced concept is feminine.  You yourself say ‘It is so easy a woman could do it’.  It is the emblem of excellence, of elegant design.  You know it, you admit it without realizing, and yet you have found a way to arrogate power.  You men are all afraid, aren’t you?”

        Selendra’s mother was banished by her father soon thereafter for such opposition.  Her mother had been a ’38 Beauty Factory mint.  Kebenaran was then legally owed and received a full refund of bridewealth from The California Beauty Factory.  Dr. Beau Tétravaux had told Kebenaran by way of apology, “Sometimes this can happen.  It is the risk of the liberal education that is a standard feature,” to which Kebenaran had muttered, “Perhaps you should consider redesigning your approach to their education.  It could be a commercial advantage and a good selling point for The California Beauty Factory,” an idea which Dr. Beau Tétravaux raised at the next board meeting, stating, “Competition from others, especially the state-owned Venezuelan Beauty Factory, is stiffer than a Viagra overdose.”

        Selendra now imagines the men and women of great power and wealth who await the winners of the Golden Apples.  They bid for immediate ownership.  Lesser men and women await lesser graduates of The Beauty Factory in all the franchise showroom runways, bidding to qualify for a mort gaige (death pledge), an old term for “until death parts us”.

        Selendra has heard from a secret  Leper friend that her mother now lives in a Hindu monastery.  Selendra lately dreamed of her mother, asking in that dream, “Mother, is this dream of you a sign of my weakness?” and in that dream her mother replied, “Do not doubt yourself.  It is I who have dreamt you.  My dearest Selendra, you are going to be a ’57 Beauty Factory, minted for joy.”

        One need only pass unscarred through the orchard of the Golden Apples.

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