Lucifer's Heaven by Tobias May
In an unassuming house, on a hill, in a small suburban village where there had been no newsworthy occurrences for over 30 years, the resident, short on money and unwilling to sell anything she had, including her stocks as she thought that they would go up, had rented out four rooms to tenants. The rules were simple: they had to clean up, pay $30 a night per person, they could not have any pets, they could only have guests, male or female, between 9am and 10pm (or they had to pay rent on them), and rent was collected every Tuesday. The tenants were John Fletcher, a tall, black man with no hair and deep brown eyes; Jonas Cooper, a shorter man who looked like an ideal jokester for a comedy pair; Jacqueline Smith, a tall, slender woman with coffee skin, brown hair, and blue eyes who tended to see several men all at once, and had a hard time settling down with any of them; and Joseph Hunter, who looked a bit like Sean Connery, and was known for this trait. The owner of the house, an old albino named Martha Beatur, was happy that Jacqueline was there, not just because she was constantly keeping male guests overnight, who were usually quiet. She was, however, on the verge of kicking Jonas out, due to boisterous day invites with his girlfriend. She had warned him several times, but they both knew that her threats were not serious, because she knew she probably could not get another tenant easily in a town so small, and it had taken her a year to fill the five rooms. So as long as he paid the rent, she was happy. She did not, nor did any of the tenants, know of the goings on in his room that day. It was not his girlfriend that was in there, but another man, who had a buff figure with light brown hair.

“You’re here. Does that mean he is dead?”

“Yes. He is dead. He has been for a few weeks, but there was a crisis in my organization.”

“And you want me to pay you?”

“Yes. I believe the agreement was for $100,000”

“Hang on. I’ve got a plan for you… a sort of ‘double or nothing’ deal.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll pay you a million dollars if you kill six other people…again, ‘accidentally’”

“Who?”

The conversation continued on in that vein, as Jonas listed the people for him to kill. They did not realize the time, as at 11:00, Martha notified them that Jonas would have to pay an extra $30 for an overnight stay. However, Martha never collected any of that week’s money, due to complications that would soon arise.

Joseph walked out of his upstairs room, and noticed a strange lump on the stairs. Upon closer inspection, he found Martha, lying there, dead. He stepped over her and found his way to Jacqueline’s room, as she was the first person he thought of.

“Jacqueline, come over here, there’s something I want you to see.”

Jacqueline came out the door and followed him to the stairs, where she noticed Martha’s body.

“Joseph, is that…Ms. Beatur?”

“Yes.”

They went to get Jonas and John. John was out, and Jonas was just as surprised as they were, but for a different reason. They both thought that she had fallen in an accident, but Jonas knew what had really happened.

“God, what did you think you were doing?!”

“I do not want to be seen by anyone who I am not associated with.”

“But you must be seen sometimes!”

“No. My face is never seen but by those who hire me, those who work with me, and those I kill. I am a man of Lucifer.”

“Look, why don’t you want to be seen?”

“If someone sees me killing, and sees me another time, they will report my whereabouts to the police, perhaps while I am unarmed. Thus, I do not let anyone see me either time.”

“What do you do with all the money, if you don’t want anyone seeing you?”

“It goes to my organization, of course. Then they supply me with all my needs. When a am to old to be used, I will be killed.”

“Why would anyone in their right mind want to join an organization like that?”

“We do not join. We are conscripted. We then are forced to join, with life at stake.”

What Jonas did not know is that the assassin was once, long ago, in his position. Once you are linked to Lucifer, the ties can never be broken… except through death…

John was on his way back to the house. He did not know what waited for him on the way, or what was going on there. Out of the blue, his car went out of control. He tried to swerve back into the road, but he only went farther off. He remembered not to slam on the breaks, so he began to slowly let up on the gas, and it worked. But suddenly, he realized that he was tumbling down a hill towards a cliff, and the doors were jammed by his car’s safety lock during drive. He tried to shift gears, but it didn’t register. He suddenly felt indifferent about his fate. When he saw the assassin, he suddenly snapped back to reality. He tried to get back, but the car was still out of control, and the brake wire had snapped. He realized all the mistakes he had made in life, and said an act of contrition. He suddenly wanted to grab… kill the assassin, but he knew he could not. He went over the cliff, and looked down, again indifferent to his fate. The car hit the bottom of the ditch below, and when it hit, there was a huge flash of fire. Five to go.

Jacqueline, Joseph, and Jonas were in their rooms. A man, however, came to the door and told them all to leave, as the house was being claimed by the government, at least until the will was read in two weeks.

“Well, at least I won’t be homeless.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve come on a windfall. I bought a house.”

In truth, he had had the money all along. He had only been in the apartment because he wanted to be near a few of his targets. John Fletcher was one. His new house, in fact, was near another of his targets.

“Say, where’s John been recently? He should have been back two days ago.”

“Who knows? He could be doing anything.”

“Maybe you’re right. What do you think…”

The conversation was mostly directed to Joseph after that. Jacqueline didn’t suspect a thing.

A few blocks from Jonas, there lived a woman known as Charity Clemens, a young woman, not more than 25. She stepped inside, went to the kitchen, and suddenly felt a knife go into her heart. She then felt nothing more. The assassin put a loaf of bread on the table, and left. Four to go.

The girl had gotten carsick, so her father pulled over onto the shoulder. The girl started to feel better soon, and wandered off a bit. Her father noticed how close she was to the lip of a nearby ditch. So he went and got her back. For some reason, however, she looked traumatized.

“What is it?”

She seemed too shocked to answer.

“Well, what?”

He began to get annoyed with her.

“Barbara, just tell me what it is!”

Slowly, she pointed towards the ditch. He went over. It was a deep ditch, with a sharp drop-off. There was a corpse at the bottom of the ditch! He got Barbara into the car and, marking this spot in the dirt, went to a police station.

Jonas had offered to let Joseph sleep in his house. Jacqueline was at her boyfriend’s until she could find another place. At John’s father’s house, the police suddenly knocked at the door.

“Is this the Fletcher residence?”

“Yes. What do you want to know?”

“Four days ago, a little girl wandered off to the edge of a ditch. Her father got her back”

“And…”

“She found your son’s body in the ditch. I thought you should know.”

He paused for a moment.

“Thank you.”

He closed the door and went in to tell his wife.

At Jonas’s house, he and Joseph were watching the news.

“…in local developments, a man was found dead in a ditch by Henry and Barbara Haywood”

A picture came up on the screen

“…the man has been identified as Jonathan Fletcher, though badly burned in an explosion.”

“Good God…”

Jonas also expressed shock, but there was a kind of emptiness in his voice, as if he were an unrehearsed actor. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Jonas got up to answer it.

“Hello, I’m with the Beatur Law Firm, perhaps you’ve heard of it.”

“No. My old landlord was named Beatur, but she died in an accident.”

“I’m here about her. She hired me while her husband was still alive because of family connections, and never switched, even after her husband died a few days before she did.”

“What about her?”

“I’m looking for a Joseph Hunter, I’ve heard that he was staying here.”

“I’ll get him”

He went inside, and Joseph came to the door.

“Yes?”

“It’s about your landlord, Martha Beatur.”

“She died in an accident. She fell down a flight of stairs weeks ago.”

“Yes, and I’m here to tell you that you’re mentioned in her will.”

There was a brief pause.

“But I was only a tenant…”

“She had no living relatives, sir.”

“When is the reading again?”

“In three days.”

“Is Jonas mentioned?”

“No.”

And he closed the door.






































by

by

Right Arm by Ron Lennex
“Ronnie! C’mon, get up! It’s time to go to school, son!”

The voice shook me from the deep sleep that engulfed me. I was in the middle of an intense dream about…well, nothing that I can remember. The truth is, it wasn't time for me to go to school at all. I was 26, going on 27, and I was in between semesters at the local community college. It was, however, Saturday, February 7th, 1998 at 6 am and it was time to see my best friend, Steve, who was closer to me than a brother, leave my life for what seemed to be forever. The voice that woke me up sounded like him joking around, but it was, in fact, the voice of reality knocking on my door that morning. It woke me up from my slumber of complacency and denial. The complacency of neglecting him for the past month or so, and the denial that had convinced me of the lie that this day would never come to pass.

* “He wouldn't go through with it…He’s really not going to leave…”

I believed those falsehoods, even though I knew Steve better than that.
As I came to from my inebriated state and struggled to feel my way out of the foggy sleep that enveloped me, I reached up from my bed to turn the white swing arm lamp on. ‘Click!’ The 60 watt “soft white” bulb devoured the darkness and filled the room with much more light than I was comfortable with at the time. As I squinted to avoid the glare, I saw him standing in the doorway to make sure I was awake. I know that was his way of saying that he wanted to spend as much of these last few minutes in NY as possible with me before he left for Texas, even though he never said it. His dad was going to drive him to Newark airport at 7 am and his flight left at 10:30. That left very little time.
I stared blankly at the fuzzy silhouette in the doorway through my half-open eyes and barked deeply, demanding that he make coffee. Then I smelled the aroma emanating from the hallway. It crept silently into my room and carried me closer to my date with the bitter reality that he was leaving.

My heart sank deep into my chest cavity and my mind spoke:
* “Jesus! He really is going. This is it! Damn…”

“ Duh! I’ve been up since 5 o’clock in the morning. Don’t you think I would have already made coffee? …Get up, loser!”

His words made sense as he turned and walked down the hallway toward the living room.

I got up off the bed, put on the shirt and pants I wore the night before and made my way through the doorway, checking to see if my cigarettes were still in the shirt pocket. As I traveled into the hallway, I turned to my left to catch a glimpse of what was his room.

* “Shit! Empty!”

The clothes no longer covered the floor. The laptop wasn’t on the short dresser, anymore. Nothing cluttered the nightstand. No books were on the shelves anchored to the wall. Even the bed was stripped. It looked like no one lived there for a year or two. It was lifeless, desolate, and barren.
It made my heart sink deeper, as I made my way across the hall into the bathroom to wash my face. I had to get the crust out of my eyes and put my contacts in so I could see clearly again. After I finished in the bathroom, I started down the hallway towards the living room. I could see one of his duffel bags straight in front of me, leaning up against the end table next to my futon. As I entered the room, I noticed the other duffel bag, his laptop case, and what appeared to be a suitcase, clumped together in a pile in the near left corner of the room.

* “I can’t believe my eyes.”

“Here! Ya want some damn coffee?” he grunted with a half-cracked grin, as he handed me a soul saving cup of lifeblood. The sweet odor pierced through the remnant of fog that clung to me so persistently and cleared it all away as I took my first sip.

* “Damn! As usual, not enough sugar…yuck!”

He stared at me with some confusion as I walked to the kitchen counter to reach for the sugar and the spoon.

“Not enough sugar, huh? …Sorry.”

“No…that’s ok, no biggie.”

Scooping out two full spoons worth of the sweet stuff into my fresh, hot cup, I remembered all the laughs we shared over the first cup of coffee in the morning. Laughs about girls we’ve dated, things that happened at work, or life experiences in general. We laughed a lot over the morning “Coffee/Cigarette” conference.

After I put a pair of shoes on my bare feet, I made my way toward the sliding glass door at the rear of the kitchen. I heard him behind me:
“Sure, Ron, I’ll come out and smoke one of your cigarettes with you.”
That was his subtle way of asking if he could bum one of mine.

“Ok…”

I slid the door open and was immediately greeted by the bone-numbing, frigid morning air outside. The thermometer read 20 degrees F.

“Chilly,” he observed.

“Gee, Steve, nothing gets past you. Are you psychic?…Dork!”

“Bite me! Why don’t you gimme one of dem dar smokes, boy…’fore I goes and kicks yer arse!” he added in his half-ass, southern accent.

As I reached into my left shirt pocket to dig out the pack of Parliament Lights, and my lighter, I was hit by the memories of laughter and faint thoughts of the conversations we had out on the patio, smoking and bullshitting. It made me want to smile, but that would take energy and it was too cold for that.

“Ya know what sucks?” he asked with a half-cracked grin.

“What?” I returned bluntly, knowing he was going to say something to rile me up a bit.

“In about 6 hours, I’ll be wearing shorts. My legs are too damn white for me to be wearing shorts in public, ya know? So, that means that until I find a job down there, I’m gonna be doing a lot of sunning myself.”

“Ya know what Steve?…bite me.”

I knew him like a book…He wanted to get my goat and it worked. The reason it worked so well is because, for over a year, we were both planning on going to Texas…together. Like two brothers setting off on some hair-brained adventure, moving to a far off place to start life over. We wanted to get away from the seemingly “jobless” market, the soaring cost of living, and the bad attitudes (of which we were two) in NY. We did our research. There were lots of jobs in Texas. It was much cheaper to live in Texas, compared to the area of New York we were in. The people were much nicer in Texas, too, but would they be ready for a couple of “New Yorkers” like us? Steve had family in Texas as well, so we could crash anywhere we wanted to down there until we could get on our feet. It all added up to a winning combination to both of us. We both said that nothing and no one was going to stand in our way…but that was then... this is now.
The truth is, I let a lot of things keep me here in NY. The biggest two were Fear and a woman. The Fear is the kind that I imagine you would feel, if your right arm were damaged in an accident and someone were about ready to cut it off. You know that you would learn to write again using your left. And you know that down the road you would learn to adjust to it, but…do you really want to? The pain of having that arm removed, mourning over its loss, and struggling to deal with it afterward, all make up one very imposing and down right frightening task. A task so huge in fact, that maybe, just maybe, that right arm was worth holding on to…for a little while longer, at least.

* “Savor this moment. This is the last time you will be able to do this for a long while, maybe even for good.”

As he took the pack and lighter from me, he began to tell me what his Fiero, which he was handing over to me, needed. Something about the battery cable being loose, engine mounts rotting out, and front-end being shaky. I don’t really know. I wasn’t paying much attention, unfortunately. I was off in my own world…savoring.

I lit my cigarette and turned away from him a bit, facing east across the road at the Winter sunrise. It was going to be a clear morning. I remember how the yellow, at the base of the horizon, blended upward into the bright orange, hot pink, and light blue. It was a beautiful sunrise. A rather fitting scene considering this was the dawn of a new day and the beginning of a new life for him …and for me. His new life starts as soon as he gets off the plane in Austin. My new life starts as soon as his father drives him up the road, on his way to the airport in Newark, NJ.

My heart sank even deeper as I took in the sight in the east.

* “I can’t take much more of this. I can’t believe I’m losing my Best Friend.”

The emotions were surging through me as I kept back the puffy eyes and the tears. We’re guys, we don’t cry in front of one another. That just DOES NOT happen.

We said a few words back and forth. Minor “chit-chat” is what it basically amounted to, because I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t make me lose my bearings and bawl like a baby. Then we went inside to try to escape the cold.
He looked at his watch.

“6:30! Damn! I gotta start getting my stuff outside.”

He grabbed his suitcase and headed back out into the frozen air. As he did so, I followed with one of his duffel bags and his laptop case. We stopped at the shed where he kept his Cannondale (his baby) so he could grab it and bring it with him. After that, we moved on to the end of the driveway and next door to his dad’s awaiting Bronco.

“The other ‘sea-bag’ is the only thing left,” I blurted out, thoughtlessly.

“It’s not a ‘sea-bag’, you Marine jackass! It’s an Army Issue Duffel Bag. Can you say, ‘Duh - ful - bag’?” He barked in a sarcastic tone.

“Kiss my ass, grunt-boy.”

He went to knock on the door to let his dad know he was ready to go, and I went back to my house to get the other 'Army Issue Duffel Bag' that was leaning against the end table.

I walked into the living room and strapped the duffle bag on my back. As I did so, I nearly fell backward. It had to weigh 90 pounds and it caught me off guard because I was expecting it to be a lot lighter.

* “Man, his whole life is in this bag.”

That is a very profound thought at 6:30 on a Saturday morning when you have only had one cup of coffee.

I made my way back to the Bronco. Steve’s dad was standing at the truck by the time I got there. I said good morning to him and proceeded to help Steve load the rest of his things into the truck. The bike wouldn’t fit so we had to take the front wheel off to get it in.

After we got it all in the truck, he turned to me with his hand extended for me to shake it.

“I’ll send you a postcard as soon as I get settled in, and I promise I’ll write after that, too. The offer to come down if things turn sour for you up here will always stand, Ron.”

“Thanks”, I uttered as I shook his hand firmly. “I’ll write back as soon as I get the postcard, and I’ll email you too… Good luck, man! Let me know how things turn out.”

“I will”

And with that, he got in the truck and I headed back to my house.
I heard the Bronco start after I made dragged myself into the driveway. I stopped, walked back to the curb, and stood there. I was waiting patiently for them to make it up the road. There must have been something in the air because my eyes began to burn a little and tear up.

In the three years we’ve been friends, we’ve grown close enough to almost read each other’s minds. It reminds me of stories I’ve read and shows I’ve watched about the bond that twins share. It is very similar, and seeing him go felt like a part of me was truly dying inside.
They backed out into the street and I heard the engine rev higher as they began to roll forward, up the road. They seemed to be moving in slow motion as they approached me.

* “This is really it! This maybe the last time you’ll see him face to face. Later, Steve! Good luck, buddy!”

As they rolled toward me, I saw Steve wave. My body stiffened to stand at attention and I raised my right arm up in a sharper salute than I have ever given to any officer in my life.
I wanted to give him one last laugh to remember me with, and as they passed by me in the salute, I could see Steve laughing.

* “I know him like a book.”

As I relaxed form my salute and watched the Bronco crest the hill and disappear, I was overcome by the combination of emptiness, jealousy, joy, fear, anger, and laughter mixing like a poisonous cocktail in my stomach. I stood there in a trance for what seemed like hours, but in reality was only about thirty seconds. After the truck disappeared and I returned to reality, I turned toward the house and took the first step into my new life, …all the while contemplating and debating the value of my right arm.

Not Established As of Yet by Ellix
Chapter I



"So doctor, How long do you think it will be?" asked a tall, withered man cloaked in a suit as black as the night. The front was festooned with countless military honors that shimmered beneath the lamplight. His gaze was focused on the feeble, rodent-like man at his side, a complete contrast to himself.
"We're not sure yet," came the answer from the doctor, his eyes set deep in their sockets from insufficient sleep, "he's not doing as well as we expected."
"Was it that long ago that you expected him to awaken?" The man in the black suit asked peering through the glass at the specimen's limpid body sprawled across the mattress.
"About seven hours ago, yes, I would consider that to be awhile."
"So, he's weaker than Bottannio thought, it doesn't surprise me," the man in the black suit said, stroking his chin with a snide smirk.
"It seems that way," the doctor began, "but I wish you would refer to him as Lord, I don't feel like losing my job because of your slip of tongue."
"Forgive me doctor, but even you can admit that the Lord has made a bad decision with this one," he said, "I mean, the man doesn't even have any modifier parts, what harm, let alone good could he do?"
"Well," the doctor tilted his head, searching into the eyes of man in the black suit, "the Lord works in mysterious ways I suppose. I wish you would keep your voice low."
The man in the black suit smiled at him with an ugly, twisted mouth beneath the folds of his wrinkles, "Are you going to install any parts?" he questioned as the grin faded from his lips, returning his face to its usual seriousness.
"I thought I should. Any untouched needs it if they're doing this kind of dangerous business, but the Lord is adamant that he stay an untouched."
"This is crazy, this boy is going to be annihilated!" the man in the black suit exclaimed flailing his lanky arms like two uncontrollable lassos in disbelief of the Lord's untactful orders.
"Shh!" the doctor hissed, "would you stop? We're both going to lose our jobs. Now look, I don't know what the Lord has got up his sleeve with this one, but I'm sure he has some method behind his madness, he always does."
"Oh please," the man in the black suit hushed his voice to a breaking whisper, struggling to keep the conversation between the two of them, "you know he's had enough failures that you can't say something like that anymore. Admit it doctor, you never know with him."
The doctor sighed, rolling his eyes into his head as if he was being forced to deal with a stubborn child, "Look, we can't do anything about it, so why talk about-"
"Wait a minute," the man in the black suit interrupted with his typically booming voice, "did he just move?"
"I don't know, did he? I didn't see it," the doctor sputtered quickly, shifting his head from every angle to detect any more indication of the specimen's consciousness.
"I think he did, I saw his arm twitch a little bit."
"Perhaps I should go in and check," suggested the doctor.
"Yes, that would be a good idea, I'll wait out here for your signal if anything doesn't go according to plan."
With that, the doctor hobbled eagerly towards the entrance of the laboratory, his long white coat trailing on the floor behind him. With frail hands that shook with unrestrained enthusiasm, he passed a red card through the key insert, prompting a loud and satisfying click that echoed throughout the hollow corridor. The doctor waited by the entrance with an impatience that was set apart from his passive nature. He tapped his nubby foot and allowed his eyes to travel aimlessly about his surroundings, studying them with little interest. His attention was soon directed to the laboratory door, which began to disappear into nothingness as he had witnessed many times before. The once solid particles dissolved into thin air as if transformed into a gaseous state. He waited for all traces of the door to disintegrate before entering the room that held the company's most prized and precious specimen.
Once in the room, his eyes surveyed the mattress where the specimen lay, still seemingly comatose. The white walls that encased them were foreboding and constrictive to the freedom-loving body. Relief surged through the doctor as he felt thankful that the specimen had not awaken earlier to find that he was entrapped in this the cage-like environment, with no official to free him. Such traumatic experiences could lead to permanent psychological damage on the subject's part, something that neither he nor the Lord had time to deal with. For, the Lord had made it clear that the subject had a very significant duty to fulfill, and little time could be wasted due to the rigorous training program and other such mission preparations that he was yet to endure.
With a meticulous and methodical movement, the doctor positioned himself, leaning over the specimen to search further for any signs of life. When he found him to be unresponsive, he became dissatisfied, and with his unusual impatience proceeded to tap the subject's arm in great frustration. At first, the tapping was unavailing, the body still lay their, unmoving and dead to the senses. However, after an increased amount of force in the tap, and a simple pinch added here and there, the subject took in a sharp, startled breath.
"Hey there," started the doctor, with a contented smile creeping across his mousy face, "are you finally going to wake up?"
The specimen just mumbled some muddled nonsense and turned recklessly to his side, in the hopes that he might drown out the doctor's useless noise by pushing one ear into the cushion. However, this had no such effect, as it only vexed the man further. With this show of indecency and disrespect, the doctor not only tapped him, but slapped his arm with terrific wrath.
"What!" the specimen finally spit, leaping to sitting position from annoyance rather than pain. With his eyes finally opened and operative, he searched the room around him; its walls that pierced his pupils as their burning white leaked through their funnels, the oversized mirror that exposed him to himself on the far wall. Suddenly fear ate at his throbbing brain, his stomach twisted into knots of distress as he realized that he did not know where he was or how he had gotten there. He swallowed the stones that formed in his throat and began to speak, "Where am I?" he asked with a timidity that can only be found in the innocence of a child.
"Never mind that," the doctor replied looking at the boy squarely, "how do you feel is more important of a question."
"No," the boy said with an astounding seriousness as his voice rose from a weak choke to a bold and menacing groan,"you tell me where I am."
The doctor sighed, and rolled his eyes once again in irritation, "If you really must know, you're in the Bayoness military advancement facility, now would you please tell me how you are feeling? Then we could move on."
"I'm fine," he said without thought, having little care for the doctor's evaluation, "what exactly am I here for?" he asked suspicion ringing throughout his voice.
"Well, it is classified information and it's not my business to inform you, for I know little as it is about your use in our company."
"Well," the boy became impatient and flustered, "what is this place? What do you do here? Am I going to get hurt?" he asked in an enraged nervousness, his stomach becoming a storm of uncertainty.
The doctor could only laugh at the specimen's unease, "No, of course you won't get hurt, you're just here for the well-being of our country, that is all. Now if we could get to the medical evaluation that would be super." He swept up a notepad which lay on a uniformed white night stand next to his bed and examined its contents thoughtfully. "So, what is it? Drez?"
"Yes," replied he, with great defensive caution.
The doctor nodded at the information, "Has eighteen years, 6'4", 210 pounds, well, you're definitely not a small boy. I'm convinced you could defend yourself even if we were trying to kill you," he smiled morbidly.
"Very funny, I just want to get out of this fucking room please," Drez said, becoming angry with the doctor's games.
He only waved a crooked mocking finger at him, his tongue clicking like a metronome in that back of his throat. "Temper, temper. I would advise you not to let any of that. . . .vulgarity slip when you're speaking to the Lord."
"Whatever," Drez mumbled, his eyebrows knitting together in distaste, "I just want to get out of here, I really don't have time for this."
"Oh!" the doctor exclaimed, "but that is where you are wrong, see. You have all of your time for this, this and nothing else. This, my friend, is your life from now on."
"Oh, is that so?" Drez challenged, "and just who are you to tell me what I am going to do? I could walk out of here right now if I wanted to."
"You could, could you?" the doctor asked, looking to the mirror, and pointing the crooked, quivering finger towards it. In an instant, the room rang with a loop of shattering glass, zooming lasers and crashing cement of the walls plummeting to the ground. The glass of the mirror shattered, reducing it to tiny shards and crystals. Drez quickly clasped his hands over his ears like two clamps and rolled from the bed to the floor, ensuring his safety underneath until the mayhem ceased. A cold sweat dribbled from his brow to the tiles as his heart throbbed violently within his chest, like a hand rapping urgently on a door. Taking in short and shallow breaths, he closed his eyes, just hoping for his fear to end. After all, this was not anyone's idea of a peaceful awakening.
Finally, came one final hum of a laser, and the sound of the last cement chunk falling from the destructed walls and shattering to the floor. Drez exhaled and slowly removed his clammy hands from his ears, which still rang with the intensity of the attack, despite his effort to suppress such a racket. Drez's eyes immediately shot to the space that the mirror once occupied. His heartbeat quickened all the more when he saw, lined before him with laser dispensers pointed at his face, a row of masked, heavily armored and precisely dressed infantry soldiers. Suddenly, as if he had blacked out for a brief moment, he realized that the doctor was laughing hysterically.
"Ha-ha," he cackled, "did you really think they were going to shoot you?"
With rage in his eyes, and blood pulsing like scalding magma through his veins, Drez stared at the laughing doctor with an almost rabid glare. His breath forced itself out of his body in short gasps as his chest moved rhythmically with its exhalation. Closing his eyes, and falling to the floor in defeat, he battled to suppress his anger. By now, the infantry soldiers had made their way into the dilapidated room, gathering around the delicate doctor in a tight seal to prevent him any injury.
"Get him, and take him to the Lord," he demanded in a voice surprisingly free of alarm.
"Will do sir," came a gruff answer from one of the nameless soldiers.
With the order, five of the men crept towards Drez who lay on his back, trying to restore his breath and restrict his emotions. With his eyes closed, he was startled when a gloved hand grabbed his arm with an unshakable grip and pulled his torso up. He flashed the soldier a displeased sneer, his lip curling in irritation. "Get your hands off me," he grumbled, his voice threatening and sincere, "I can walk myself."
The soldier removed his hand from Drez's arm, closely monitoring him nonetheless as he rose to his feet. Drez brushed the powders of the broken glass from the knee caps of his white hospital pants and looked to the soldiers with bitterness and sighed a troubled sigh.
"Let's go," he finally said, though he had no desire to do so. It had become apparent now that there was no use in fighting. Brute strength was useless amid the power of lasers and other such modern marvels. Drez trudged dreadfully to the open entrance, the soldiers following his every action, ready to strike at any false move. He stopped at the room's exit, and waited for the men to catch up to his pace, after all, he did not wish to make the situation harder on himself than it already had come to be. He thought perhaps if he showed a little class by waiting, he would be saved an immense amount of trouble. However, this notion was hastily dismissed when one of the soldiers, finally reaching his vicinity, relentlessly pointed the nose of a armed laser to his temple. "Get that thing the hell out of my face," Drez ordered with agitation, pushing the laser dispenser to his side. With dispensers aimed to the floor and a lengthy stream of soldiers following him, Drez left the white room and the doctor behind.


* * *

"Well, I wonder what is happening with those idiots down in the basement, God knows they could never do anything right," a tall, gaunt man in a gray and tasteful pinstriped suit stated as the smoke from his cigarette twirled like a dancing ghost through the air.
"Yes sir," came the answer from a woman with flaming orange hair and unhealthily pallid skin. She sat in a lavish blood red chair with the finest turquoise coins encrusted on its silver borders, "That's what happens when you get these scientific folk, some seem to forget how precious timing is."
"Ha! You're telling me. Our facilities should be far more advanced and packed with fire power by now, but no, what do we have instead? Disappearing doors, that's what."
"Ugh, It is so detestable you know. People make such frivolous things with scientific knowledge that it's just pathetic," the fiery headed woman added shaking her head with arrogant superiority.
The fire in the hearth was the only thing that lit the otherwise dark room, and the pale crescent of the moon leaked vaguely through the window panes behind the tall man's desk, but not brightly enough to illuminate the dreary surroundings any further. The crackle of the flames was soothing to both who occupied the room, as it had been another long and agonizing day for the two of them.
With an exaggerated and relaxed sigh, the tall man spun around from behind his desk to look at the lady in front of him. He smiled at her good-naturedly, the wrinkles creasing on his forehead as his lips spread. He gave the impression of a genial and harmless grandfather, as his smile expressed no contention of evil doing. With a sort of delight, he wrapped his arms across his chest. "My lovely assistant," he began, with a new and soft tone to his voice, "how has your week been?"
"Oh, Hell as always," she grunted back to him, letting out a breath and looking to the matching maroon carpet.
"Oh Naja, you shouldn't be so cynical about everything," the man said sweetly, "it will make that beautiful face grow old and sick a lot sooner." He approached her, his footsteps strangely dainty and planned. With an age-worn hand, he lifted her soft, doll-like face and looked into the oceans of her eyes that sparkled in the fire light like the waves when caressed by the mysterious moon. Her strawberry lips smiled at him like two pillows as she rubbed his hand endearingly with delicate porcelain fingers. They looked into each other's eyes with the utmost pleasure, searching for the words to their silent conversation in the deep, shimmering pools. He looked at Naja as though she was the only thing worthwhile in the world, and leaned toward her and without a sound emitted from his lips, he had persuaded her. He drew himself to Naja slowly, his mouth craving the sweet and delightful young taste of hers. She belonged to him.
The blunt sound of a knock on the door filled the room, and with the rush of passion swiftly leaving him, he sighed with mild irritation at the spoiling of a perfectly romantic moment. The second knock came and he stood stroking his head with anxiety. Naja looked to him in question, and soon realized that it was her duty, and she was returned to the ranks of assistant once again.
"I'll get it," she offered quite uselessly as she got up from her extravagant chair. She took her time, walking towards the door without a care, and finally unlocked it, turning the knob to respond to the visitors. She peered through a crack big enough to place her head, inquiring what the disturbance was about. Before her stood five infantry soldier and one sweaty and rugged man in need of a good pampering.
"May I help you?" she asked in disgust of the dirty young man.
"Yes," answered one of the soldiers, "you can tell the Lord that his prospect is waiting for him."
"Oh," she replied, quite unimpressed by the Lord's choice as she studied Drez with a crude smirk. Naja turned to the Lord who waited in the room, sucking at his cigarette with pursed lips. "Um, sir?" she said, "you're prospect is here waiting for your assistance."
"His eyes lit up once again and a smile returned to his face at such news. All bitterness about his interrupted moment had ceased to exist as he took a puff of the cigarette with renewed exuberance. "Tell him to come in, and for the soldiers to get back to work," the Lord ordered.
She followed his demands and bid the soldiers farewell as she led the young and unkempt man into the room, making a point not to place her hands on his disgustingly dirt laden body. She pulled out an old wooden chair for him to sit in and looked to the Lord with a warm, youthful smile.
"Leave," he said stolidly, pointing a finger to the door without eyes grazing her face.
"But sir, I -" she began, but was rudely cut off by the Lord.
"I said leave!" he growled.
Naja's head sunk to the ground and she whimpered a half hearted "yes sir," as she left the two men in the room by themselves. The door closed behind her gently and the room fell to silence. The Lord sat down in his cushioned throne, and folded his hands together as he studied the boy's face for an answer. He was a dirty and befouled young creature, his waxy raven hair, matted against his forehead from perspiration. The unshorn face was riddled with bloody nicks and scratches, and his once powder white shirt was caked with filth and soot. The Lord smiled at him rather pleased by his presence.
"So, Drez," he said, still beaming, "I've been waiting for you to come out of the woods for quite sometime now."
"Is that so?" Drez replied sardonically.
"Yes, you see, you're going to be a very important part of our corporation. You should be honored by your selection."
"Oh, well what if I'm not?" Drez asked intently.
"Well, that would be quite unfortunate, I picked you for a very special reason," the Lord explained calmly, "For, I couldn't imagine another person taking on this mission."
Drez remained quiet for a few moments, curious to discover what the Lord was going on about.
"Now, you do not have any modifier parts," he said, "but this is to me a good thing. I didn't choose you for you're impressive upgrades, everyone has that. I chose you because of who you are. Drez, you have something that these other men don't hold a candle to that I need, something that's importance has been lost due to the advances and revelations of our time."
"And what's this thing that I possess that you couldn't possibly find in anyone?" Drez asked, becoming interested with the conversation.
"Passion," the Lord said in but a whisper, with eyes becoming glassy with tears, "fait, courage, uncanny belief in yourself!"
"Oh please," Drez began, "I could go out and find you hundreds of people with passion!"
"No, not like you," the Lord corrected, "you have such an iron will, you go with what you feel, not with what someone tells you is right, and it's always been that way for you, hasn't it?"
"How would you know?" Drez asked, quite annoyed by the Lord's ridiculous bantering.
"Drez, we have been watching you since you were a very little boy," the Lord told him, "fate has chosen you for the most important job, and your mannerisms are just what we need for this mission."
"Listen Lord, what is this ‘mission' that everyone is telling me about? If I'm the one who will be taking it, then I believe it's my business to know what the hell is going on."
"Call me Vincent," the Lord said, getting up from the throne and looking out the window to the glowing moon. "and you will find out soon enough."
Drez became suddenly impatient, he leaned forward towards the desk with restored aggravation,"Jesus Christ! Would you people stop with this beating around the bush shit? What? Is everything around here so goddamn mysterious that I can't be let in on the big secret? I'm sick of sitting here and being pulled over to you people on a chain without knowing anything about what could happen. Now tell me, what is this freakin' mission about?" his voice boomed.
"I cannot tell you what about, but I can tell you when, and I would venture to say three weeks," the Lord responded docilely.
Drez released the tension in his arms and fell back to the seat and let out a breath, rubbing his head pensively.
"You will need to go through a training program, we cannot send you right away, you are not battle ready yet. I think you should be good in a few weeks however."
"Yeah, well what if I don't want to do this? What if I want to go back home and live my life?" Drez battled on, "What then?"
The Lord settled in his throne once again, hiding his searching hand beneath the desk. When he finished his long rummage through the drawers, his hand returned to view, clutching a black, shiny object. It was called a pistol, Drez had only seen it once before in a textbook in his history class. It was an old instrument, that was basically useless now due to advancement is weaponry and regenerator parts, but Drez was aware of its function. Without regenerator parts, and no armor to protect his body, he stayed perfectly still.
"Well, Drez, "he said, aiming at him, "you do have a choice. Either you leave here, with that contract in front of you signed, or you leave in a body bag," he threatened, as the gun clicked with intimidation.
Drez sighed and reluctantly grabbed for the pen and paper in front of him. The Lord was relieved; he had no time for negotiations, for, he was a very busy man.

New Years Day by Robert Flynn
NEW YEARS DAY

I'm walking along a dry riverbed in California. It's a beautiful day. The future stretches out ahead in the valley and hills and mountains that surround me. The past is there too, but today I prefer to walk forward. To live "in the now", and truly see all the good things in the world.

The air is warm and dry. Fleecy clouds float high in the bright blue sky, and the sunlight glitters and shines off of the houses and cars in the distance. People walk and ride bicycles on the bike path that follows the river. They talk, and point, and laugh together as they enjoy the day off from work. What a beautiful and peaceful scene it makes. My heart is suddenly full of joy as I remember that it is New Year's Day. A day to start fresh, and to feel overwhelming gratitude for the gift of life that God has given me.

I pass by a man and his son, a toddler sitting on the "lofty" wooden fence by the path, but held safely in his father's arms. His face is a study in pure joy and wonder as he looks out over the miles of sandy wash, green hills, and towering mountains of his brand new world. It is a beginning of a beginning, and tears gather in my eyes with the power and sweetness of this simple thought.

A man sits on a rock and gazes into the distance. He looks sad and forlorn as the breeze blows by and makes the leaves flutter on the tree next to him in this lonely scene. I am reminded of other days in the past when sadness and hopelessness were my only companions. I say a silent prayer for him, and a profound thanks to God for me. Then I walk on.

A young couple crouches next to a "bicycle built for two" that has thrown it's chain. As they look up, I grin and say "Happy New Year, Dammit"! They grin and laugh and wish me the same. It is a simple thing, but for a moment we have become one with the world, and a sudden joyful exhilaration takes my breath away.

An old woman leans on a fence post looking into some other time. She doesn't seem either happy or sad, just gazes into the past, or maybe the future. I wonder what her aging, but still lovely eyes have seen in the time she has spent in this world. Where has she been? What amazing things has she witnessed? A lifetime lays hidden behind her eyes. A feeling of timeless peace flows through me, and all fear of what the future may bring drains away. I thank her with my thoughts, and move on.

I am almost home. I walk by a stand of young trees swaying in the wind. A loud burst of cheerful chirping and tweeting erupts from the little grove, and I can't help but laugh out loud at the "bird party" going on next to me. As I reach home, go inside and close the door, I say another thanks to God for the gift of "now". It has taken a long time to find it, and though I can't seem to keep it with me all the time, I know how to open the door again when the time is right. And I know that whatever the new year will bring, there will be joy, and enough treasures of "now" to help me through the hard times we all must face. Happy New Year!
Vietnam Notes by Robert Flynn
VIETNAM NOTES
by Robert Flynn

This story took place in Vietnam, but it's about any violent conflict. And it's not about me, it's about the very real nightmares we can find ourselves living if we don't reason things out for ourselves, and continue to let movies, television, and the violent fantasies of others do our thinking for us.

For the year I was there, my job mostly consisted of driving a truck and slinging sandbags. I never lost any close friends or killed anyone. There is still a feeling of guilt for not having suffered "enough" even though what I experienced puts me through almost overwhelming grief sometimes for the people involved in what I saw. It's senseless, but it's almost as if by having more pain I could somehow lessen the pain of others carrying horrors that would make my memories seem like welcome relief to them. There were some who went through much more, and some who went through much less, but in the end what matters is that we try to learn from all our experiences and then use them to benefit ourselves and others.

At times I'm filled with anger and resentment for the stupidity and gullibility of a major part of the human race. The vast ocean of shallow, psychotically romantic hype fodder called humanity that doesn't have the sense to see the reality of pain, grief, and horror of war and death. Even those are all just words that don't begin to convey the convoluted tangle of feelings involved. Then I remember that if I'd known then what I know now, I'd never have gone to that miserable place myself. But I didn't know. I couldn't have known what is so obvious to me now until after the experience. I don't mean to imply that I think the world could destroy all it's weapons and then everything would be paradise. Evil is a very real thing and sometimes must be fought. I doubt for example that a loving note to Hitler would have changed the fate of six million Jews. But "the young want to die nobly, the wise, to live humbly". Evil takes many forms, and one of them is the willingness of governments, businesses, and individuals to corrupt and steer youthful naiveté, exuberance, and strength toward terrible destruction because of petty dedication to their own purposes, no matter what the cost, as long as the cost doesn't seem to be directly their own.

I'd only been in country for a few weeks when a couple of guys and I went into the village of Duc Pho to get haircuts. We were excited and sort of mesmerized by the fact that we were actually in a tropical country, in a war, and all on our own. Sort of like going to Disneyland for the first time and finding a sign inside warning "assassins in the park, enter at your own risk." We walked into the town orphanage which was a small, high walled schoolyard with a large rambling building inside where the barber was located.
I sat down in a rickety chair, laid my rifle up against the wall next to me, and the barber began cutting my hair. Suddenly he jumped aside as another Vietnamese grabbed my rifle, jacked a round into the chamber, put the muzzle inches from my nose and shouted "NOBODY MOVE!" My friends could do nothing. As he glared at me over the top of the sights, I clearly realized that my time on earth was over, that I was a dead man. I remember being suddenly sick with sadness for myself, and thinking that it wasn't fair. It just really wasn't fair at all! We looked at each other for what seemed forever, and then he smiled. He said "Everything OK, no problem, nobody shoot!" Then he lowered my rifle, handing it to me, and said sternly "You no do! You no leave weapon alone, ever! No do ever, or you maybe die!" He was in civilian clothes, but turned out to be an officer in the South Vietnamese Army. It may come as no surprise that I always remembered what he said, and especially the way he said it. For the first time I realized that it was no game, it was all too real. Nothing and nobody can save me if I get careless. Whatever our age, childhood is over the day we lose that sense of immortality, and it never comes back. It's odd how sure we are that we're aware of everything, until we suddenly get shocked into the reality of how little we actually perceive.

One night I was sitting in a bunker watching a battery of 105mm Howitzers during a fire mission. They were about 100 yards away and firing right over a group of huge boulders that had a bunker sitting on top which was in a perfect spot to watch the perimeter. As they fired again, an unexpected flash and boom split the night, and a billowing mushroom of smoke and dust shot from the bunker on the rocks. Somehow a round had been fired point blank into the bunker from one of the cannons. We didn't know whether anyone was in the bunker or not until a minute later when the most agonized, piercing, terrified scream I'd ever heard cut through the dead silence that followed the explosion. At least one man, no doubt badly wounded, was buried in the collapsed bunker. For a while there was horrifying silence, then another awful, long, anguished scream. Then silence. Then another scream, then whimpering. This went on for what seemed like a couple of hours, although I doubt it was actually that long, with the sounds slowly growing weaker until they either got him out, or he passed out, or died. We never knew which it was.

We'd just crawled into our cots after another exhausting day of digging holes and filling sandbags (we usually called them mudbags for good reason) when a series of jarring explosions put us on our feet grabbing for boots, rifles, ammo, and set us running from our tents to the bunkers. I'd only been in country for a short while and other than a few incoming mortar rounds, nothing much had happened in that time. As I ran out of the tent more explosions went off, and then I saw something that still sends chills up my spine. The bunker out on the perimeter in front of me, full of guys in my company, was exploding with huge sprays of sparkling fire jetting from the door and windows, and everyone was running for cover in total confusion.
We grouped up and formed a secondary perimeter behind any cover we could find, but the attack was over as quickly as it had begun and then the cleaning up began. Luckily I didn't have to pull the dead and wounded out of the bunkers, but was in one of them moments later to replace the guys they had hauled out. The dirt floors of the bunkers had been drenched in blood and it created patches of gooey mud with a chilling odor. The sandbags and wooden bracing had been blown apart, and my fear was more that it would all collapse and bury us than that the VC would attack again. But the rest of the night while very scary, was uneventful.
We saw what had happened the next day. The VC had crawled across rice paddies in front of us, crept in through concertina wire, trip flares, and claymore mines, jacked apart some metal bars covering a drainpipe, using the pipe to crawl under a dirt road, and crawled up and down a weed filled ditch behind seven or eight bunkers full of wide awake men on a moonlit night. They then simultaneously began throwing three and four satchel charges into each bunker and as the charges exploded made a quick and clean escape. But that wasn't the end of it. After a couple of days in the high heat and humidity, the blood saturated dirt began to rot. For the next couple of months while we were in the area we had to sit in those damaged bunkers at night surrounded by the overpowering stench of rot and death. Several times as we were heading to the perimeter to pull guard duty we were told that intelligence had been received that we should expect a massive offensive with the possibility of being overrun by a "human wave" attack. That didn't happen or I wouldn't be writing this. But add up the horror of that smell with the fear of the attack and you have nights guaranteed to last your nerves the rest of your life whether anything happened or not.

I slammed the shift into a higher gear, bouncing and laughing with my "shotgun" rider and flying down the road toward somewhere. It didn't really matter where, we just hoped we could find some cold beer and a safe place to sleep. As we barreled through villages we could tell how the people there felt about things. If they smiled and waved they were friendlies. If they frowned and threw rocks they were VC, or VC sympathizers. Hopefully all we would get was a dent or two from rocks. It could always be worse.
We usually drove in convoys. Long lines of trucks sometimes joined by tanks or armored personnel carriers for protection. Every so often a helicopter gunship would scream low overhead with a deafening roar as it patrolled the roads, guarding the convoys and looking for a little something to do. Like unleashing the unbelievable firepower they carried in the form of rockets, grenade launchers, and most impressive to me, miniguns, which were super machine guns with firing rates so high that when they went off all you saw was unbroken red lines of tracers and all you heard was a continuous burp so loud your ears would ring for quite awhile if they were close enough. At the other end of all that was hell on earth. Hauling ass down a road in a truck with an M16 at your side and gunships and tanks around, or sitting in a bunker surrounded by a considerable selection of deadly weapons could make you feel powerful and invincible at times. That was a very welcome fantasy. Most of the time I had the much more realistic and stressful awareness that I was in a very dangerous place, and if it was my turn to get it, no attitude or weapon in the world would save me. But the attitude was also valuable. We had to try to convince ourselves that we were dangerous too, and anyone with a gun really can be. Sometimes feeling that way was the only way people stayed sane, but it's an exhausting way to live.

The bunker was ready for the night. The machine gun, claymore mines, grenade launcher, hand grenades, ammo and flares were all laid out and ready to go. The four of us were sitting back in the relative coolness of the early evening, watchful, but just talking and relaxing after a long hard day. Our shifts of staying awake all through the night on guard would start soon enough. This was the best time of the day. I felt lazy and comfortable just talking with friends.
Then one of them got an idea. "Lets shoot a few flares into the village. That'll wake 'em up!" I was always uncomfortable around that sort of thing, but what the hell, we shot them at each other now and then as a sort of sick joke. Why should the villagers be exempt? The instigator cut off the little parachute attached to the flare so that it would really fly, and smacked the cap to launch it toward the houses a few hundred yards away. Much to our surprise, he actually hit a house, and in no time at all quite a little fire was in progress on the roof. A crowd of villagers quickly gathered, running and yelling and trying to put out the fire. I felt kind of guilty, but couldn't help but laugh a little as my buddy did a little victory dance and whooped it up. I don't know when it all really started, but what had begun as a little joke soon became something else.
We were inside a bunker which is a tiny building built of sandbags, with it's confinement able to amplify gunfire into hammering explosions inside that could actually be felt as concussions in your body. What had been a relaxing, friendly evening abruptly turned into a horrifying nightmare as without warning the machine gun went off, quickly followed by an M16 on full auto, and the hollow "thunk" of the grenade launcher, all accompanied by bright flashes and unbelievable noise. While I had been sitting by the back door, my buddies had begun a killing frenzy up front, and as I looked up I saw a vision straight out of Hell. As I write this it seems almost like a joke to try to describe those emotions and perceptions with words. That's something that could never be done.
As I realized what I was seeing, I remember bringing up my rifle with a raging elation, and a desire to join in and KILL THE DIRTY BASTARDS! As quickly as the feeling came it disappeared, thank God, before I pulled the trigger. And I have thanked God thousands of times since that night. The rage was replaced with a terrified, paralyzing fascination while tracers ripped into the crowd, grenades exploded around them, and horrible shrieks, screams, and cries of agony from the wounded and dying men, women, and oh my God, children bored into my brain and scorched out gaping wounds which will never, ever, ever be gone from my memory.
All of a sudden the firing stopped with a shocking silence. And then even with gunfire deadened ears, the sounds of wounded and dying human beings cut through the night air in a crystal clear, sickening wail. I just stood there in a stupor unable to move or think a coherent thought for what seemed like a long time. What happened the rest of that night is gone from my memory. Thank you God.
The story was told of VC being shot at, and the casualties were blamed on the village being too close to our perimeter bunkers. The story worked just fine for the record. But we knew. And so did they.
The next day the village showed up in all it's funerary finery. Led by the elders, the people held a procession by the bunker that had, in just a few sickening moments, destroyed so many people. So many precious, irreplaceable lives and stories. They were dressed in beautiful, richly colored silks that flowed around them in the breeze. They carried many festive, brightly colored caskets on their shoulders. Red, gold, blue, green, yellow. The whole thing was unreal in it's color, beauty, and dignity. The bright sunlight shone down on this dream and made me wonder if it was all real.
And then I noticed how small some of the caskets were. They were too small for a real person. Why was that? Oh! They weren't too small! They were for the children! I remember feeling rather clever that I'd figured it out. So very clever, until my mind couldn't bullshit me any more. Until the whole reality hit me. Then, even though I hadn't done anything, the knowledge of what I'd seen, and of how close I'd come to being a monster out of my nightmares kicked me into a place I wouldn't be able to leave for a long, long time. Although not the only reason for the self destruction to follow, when the walls finally did begin to crumble so many years later, the process came close to killing me as it has so many others with the self medication of alcohol and drugs. When I see scenes on television of people in pain from war or anything else, it's not just pictures for me.
The people in that village were not saints. Some that died may have even been the enemy. But all of them had been living human beings. And now they were dead and gone forever. Just like the thousands of young, bright, hopeful Americans and others who made the one way trip to their doom. All I know is that from that night on my life was never the same. One of the lessons I learned then is that we may feel that life is precious, but we are all capable of terrible evil if the time is right. And that until (God forbid) the time it happens, most of us are ignorant of it, and would deny it to the grave. Which is probably just as well. Knowledge like that can be a very heavy burden. Too heavy for the many who give mute testimony by their choice to be absent from this world.

I sat on a sandbag with a cooling monsoon breeze flowing by and the fresh smell of growing things perfuming the air. Huge, white, billowing rain clouds drifted overhead with wide patches of pure blue sky standing out between them. The village looked like a tropical island in the rice paddies, with little toy palm frond houses and palm trees everywhere. It was so beautiful and alive I wanted to cry with happiness. Villagers walked on the dikes between rice paddies so green that emeralds look pale in comparison. They talked and laughed among themselves and I found myself wanting to join them. What a wonderful place to be, and a beautiful day to be alive. Then I got up, lifting my rifle, turned around and headed back to the war.

As the truck dropped the six of us off alone on the side of the mountain near Kontum, I couldn't help but wonder at the insanity that had put us there. A new firebase would be built here and we had been "volunteered" to start cutting it out of the jungle with axes and machetes. Eventually the engineers were brought in with heavy equipment to really do the job, as there was no way that the amount of growth that needed to be cleared away could possibly be done by sixty, let alone six men. As the years have gone by, many mysteries about the happenings in Vietnam have cleared up for me, but why our lives were risked out there remains a puzzle.
We decided to check out the trails close by to try to put a little insurance on our safety while working. None of us were used to any sort of recon patrol, so we were pretty nervous. It was a good thing we were walking slowly, because a little way down a trail I suddenly felt my boot snag a tripwire, and I froze, gritting my teeth, expecting to be blown up by my blunder. Nothing happened. Afraid to even talk or move, I quietly called to the guy in front of me to wait up. He turned, puzzled, and stopped the others. I said "I'm hooked on a trip wire. Try to find out what this damn thing is!" At that point their eyes got wide, and they all began backing away from me down the trail. When I realized what they were doing, I as carefully as possible brought up my rifle and said "You better get back here and help me quick!" I was too scared to be really angry, and doubt that I'd have shot anybody, but thank God they didn't know that. Itchy sweat was pouring down my whole body in that miserable, scorching humidity, and my muscles were shaking and about to cramp up by the time they finally found the ends of that wire. When a voice said "No sweat, it's only a trip flare!" I almost collapsed, puked, and cried all at once. But of course I only said something like "You assholes better not punk out on me again like that!" or some such swaggering bullshit. It was a very good lesson though. You never know what people will really do until the pressure is on. And that changes from day to day. It was that way for them, and it's that way for me too. It seems that Vietnam veterans are all supposed to be brave, dangerous, trained killers, primed and ready to show the world that they're not to be messed with. I'm sure that some came back just like that. But training in itself doesn't make you brave, dangerous, or a killer. I, for one, went to Vietnam not feeling particularly "brave", and I surely came home with many more fears than I left with. And I learned that being able to kill someone doesn't necessarily have anything to do with courage. If you take the goodness and love out of courage, what remains is merely insanity. Insanity is nothing to be proud of. I only wish more people knew that.

Garbage detail again. Damn. Oh well, better that than burning shit. Burning shit was much worse. Our latrines were outhouses with the bottom half of an oil drum used in place of a hole in the ground. Disgust and disease prevention demanded that we pull the drums out, pour diesel fuel into the mess inside, light it up and stand there stirring it up occasionally to make sure it all burned away. Lots of fun and fragrant too. Like I said, garbage beat shit anyday.
We would load up four or five large metal trash cans brimming with rotting garbage and trash and heavy enough to need three men to comfortably lift one high enough to slide into the bed of a truck. Then we'd drive out of the firebase about a mile to the dump area where a crew of Vietnamese would be kind enough to unload it for us and put the empty cans back in the truck. Of course they did get paid. Their pay was that they got to eat that slimy, stinking, rotting garbage, swarming flies and all. And that they did, handful over skeletal handful in a horrible, frantic, disgusting way. These people were starving to death. We'd bring a little food along to help them, but it didn't make much difference. There were just too many of them.
As I'd stand there watching all this with a sickened fascination I'd wonder how they could live like that. They were the homeless in a place where "homeless" was a deadly serious thing. I came to the awareness that the reason I was in the truck with a full belly and a place to sleep, and they were just feet away actually dying of hunger with no place to go, had nothing to do with deserving anything. It was fate. Or God's will. Or luck. Whatever you called it, it had little to do with "fair". There are always those wanting something for nothing, or feeling that the world owes them something. I'm not speaking of them, and I certainly don't have all the answers. But years later when I came close to taking our version of homelessness as my only option to deal with a life I'd turned into a nightmare, I felt those feelings of frustration with mankind's selfishness even more. Anyone can end up there. But most of us have to end up there ourselves, or come very close to it, in order to see that truth in our hearts. Maybe someday we'll evolve far enough to feel enough compassion to actually do something about the unnecessary suffering of a large part of humanity without having to suffer ourselves to do it. But that isn't how it is now. And although I have much more faith in our future now than I once did, it just isn't going to change anytime soon.

I pulled the truck up next to a bunker out on the perimeter. It was an unusual vehicle. It was a 3/4 ton truck with armor plate welded to the front of the bed rising above the cab. A machine gun mount was placed in the middle allowing the gun to fire over the top of the cab. I had been ordered to take the truck to the bunker line to add the firepower of the machine gun to the already formidable line of weapons facing the rice paddies and cane fields outside the wire. On hindsight this wasn't a very good idea. While far from impregnable, a bunker is a very hard structure to destroy and can be rebuilt quickly and cheaply. A truck on the other hand is a relatively valuable, easy to destroy, and very tempting target.
I got out and hopped up into the bed to get things ready for the night. Since I had to pull guard duty anyway, the thought of spending the night in a nice, dry, relatively clean truck sounded much better than the usual damp, dirty, rat infested bunker. I loaded a belt of ammunition and settled back to begin another long, tense night.
The gun mount had a spotlight on both sides of the gun so you could see what you were shooting at in the dark. This was undoubtedly designed by someone who had never thought the situation through. I had no intention of ever using them to aim, as doing so would be about the same as drawing a bull's eye on your nose and shining a light on your face. But the lights were good for surveillance. I would duck below the armor plate, flip on the lights and look through a small hole drilled in the plate while swinging the gun back and forth to illuminate the landscape.
The night was very dark. I had just flipped on the lights and started moving the gun, when right in front of me almost to the concertina wire a VC sapper jumped up and started running. I was startled for a second, but yanked the charging handle, swung the gun around on him, and totally forgetting what an easy target I made, started shooting. As the tracers caught up to him, he dove below one of the dikes of a paddy. By this time someone had popped a hand flare, and the landscape was bathed in the eerie Halloween glow of it's flame. The only sound was the hissing of the flare drifting down from far above on it's little parachute. Suddenly the man jumped up a short distance from where he had disappeared and began zig-zagging away across the landscape. I started firing, following him with tracers, but every time the rounds caught up to him he would dive and disappear again. This went on for quite a few minutes until he finally made it into the cover of a cane field and was gone for good. If I'd hit him he never showed it. I yelled out at the night "Motherfucker, you DESERVE to get away!" and really meant it. I was laughing with the stress and adrenaline rush, but was absolutely furious at myself for missing him. I was a pretty good shot and I wanted that bastard DEAD! He had been only seconds away from lobbing a satchel charge or two into my truck, and that could have very easily ended in disaster for me. That, plus the sick and all too common conviction men are subliminally taught from boyhood, that killing a man would make me more of one, only added to the anger. Very quickly those feelings were tempered with the awareness that I had just witnessed the bravest thing I had ever seen. That guy had single-handedly crept up to a perimeter of barbed wire, claymore mines and trip flares, backed by bunkers filled with soldiers equipped with quite an array of deadly weapons, and all for the purpose of destroying one lousy truck. Or he had possibly not been alone, but had taken the heat on himself to save his friends. Either way it was amazing. I think we were all stunned by the display of courage and skill we had just seen. It had been something totally outside my previous experience. Then as I began to realize how close I had skirted death, the raw reality of our situation set in once again. It was impossible for me to stay aware of how dangerous Vietnam was on a continuous basis and still maintain the ability to function. But every so often a reminder would jolt me back into the paralyzing fear, and once again I'd just have to hang on and wait until it slowly drifted away.
The anger that I'd felt on failing to kill that man, along with many other terrible memories ate at me for years. But slowly as time passed, my mind began to heal, and I found my heart opening to a more loving, kind, and spiritual way of life. The anger turned to acceptance, and then one fine day to gratitude. I am so very glad I don't have the death of another human being on my conscience. He was an enemy soldier fully intending to kill me if he could, and if I had killed him I'm sure I could accept it as just another part of my life and a necessary action at the time. But on those nowadays rare nights when I wake up feeling lost, alone, and afraid, with Vietnam all around me, the relief of not having killed him helps me find my way back to my warm, safe bed a lot sooner than those old feelings used to. Love and kindness are such beautiful, healing things.

"Harris" was a friend of mine. He was a tall, lanky, soft spoken black man with an easy smile. A gentle man with a kind disposition and a wry sense of humor. Sometimes we'd pull guard together and talk quietly in the eerie silence of the bunkers at ni
Before You Go by Stacy Goff
Before you go
I just thought that you should know
That you really shouldn't drive
If you want to make it home alive
Because you've had too much to drink
So before you leave just stop and think
About how your parents would feel
If their son would die drunk behind the wheel
And think about your little brother,he looks up to you
Is this something you want him to do?
Besides you've got your whole life ahead
At 17 do you want to be pronounced dead?

Chosen by Charlotte Jackson
Darkness lifted his head in alert, Charlotte had heard the same noise. The rustling of leaves in the woods caused her to draw her sowrd and dagger. She could see it plainly now, it's head was just brushing the trees. This she wasn't ready for at all, how could she possibly slay a dragon?

test by test
test
goodbye by nasya
i'm sorry you had to leave this way but you have now
found a better place you were my friend and i'm sorry
you're gone i'm not thinking of this as thee end but
as a part of our life that has to end you will always
remain in my heart not just as a friend but as someone
i really never lost
Occupational Hazzards by John Wesley Wilson


Daryl

I walked into the job trying to figure out what drama I was going to be faced with on this day. It seemed that lately there are more rumors than work related issues in my office. The one thing I could count on was my rumor network. There are a group of women who keep me informed of the latest drama. Most employees didn't know what was going on in the office for months. I knew what was going on months in advance. Why the women felt they could trust me remains a mystery, but I'm not going to ruin it. I guess that's a perk of being one of three men in an office of fifty. As long as I didn't reveal where I got my info I was straight. I wasn't at my desk 3 minutes before Beverly was in front of me with the latest. "You know that shit you pulled Friday was foul right?" At first I wanted to snap and tell her to get the hell away from me, but since I was the topic of the latest gossip I bit my tongue. I said, "what did I do now". I couldn't figure out what she was talking about. I spent most of my weekend with my girl, besides that I went to church with my Grannie, and surely that couldn't be what she was talking about. She snapped back, "why do you keep telling Valerie that you are going to marry her, when you know damn well that you aren't?" I couldn't believe Valerie was spreading this mess. She knew the last person to tell her business is Beverly. It seems like she wanted her stuff on Front Street. Valerie and I had been kickin' it for about three years off and on, and she had a way if making me say anything when we would make love on those rare occasions. She had the "Pretty Brown Eyes" that Mint Condition sang about, and when she wore a thong she looked like Foxxy Brown at a music award show. I wished that she understood that it takes more than a big butt and a smile to keep a man. She thinks that I will love her until the end, and at one point I would have, but that was a long time ago. Now I just had to have her sexually. She knew about my infidelities, and she dealt with it. If she wanted to tell people we were getting married, that was on her. I again explained to Beverly that there was only one love in my life, but by the look on her face I knew she thought that I was full of it. Now I had to go and explain to Carmen that it was just another rumor. Why do I continue to date women at work? When I got back from the fourth floor where Carmen worked in the accounting department, I was shocked at what I saw. Someone had rifled through my desk. I don't know what they were looking for, but from the looks of things it wasn't anything that had to do with work. From what I could tell there was nothing missing, or added for that point. I didn't even sweat it. I guess I'm getting wiser, because the old Daryl would've gone Springer up in the place. I did notice that someone was trying to access my e-mail. I'm glad my boy Anderson hipped me on setting up a password. That could've been ugly. Today was proving to be a typical Monday. I made up my mind that at 4:30 that I was up out. Salary or no salary I wasn't putting in 10 hours today. That's what upper-management expected from its Supervisors, key word being "expected". I have to get out of here today, Carmen and I are hooking up after work, and I want get home and get out of this monkey suite. I'm not required to wear a suite, but you only feel as good as you look, and with today being Monday, I had to fake it. I wanted to hurry up and get home, so I wouldn't have to deal with Valerie's barrage of questions. I can't wait until she finds a new place. We tried the roommate thing, but it got tired very fast. I explained everything to Carmen, but deep down I know she doesn't believe that we are just roommates. I would hate to have to ask Valerie to leave, but if it starts causing a problem with Carmen, Valerie would have to go. As it is she doesn't help with the bills, it seems like I'm living two lives. If I hadn't lost so much on bad stock decisions, I would move out and leave everything behind. All I would take is my microwave, my clothes and my music; everything else has bad memories written all over them anyway.


Carmen


I'm so sick of this place I don't know what to do. If I didn't have 5 years invested here I would give it up. People around here just can't mind their own business. Most of them don't even have a man, and they are trying to give me advice about mine. Daryl has been very understanding and I hope that he can weather this storm. As soon as these nosy ass women find some new business they will leave us alone. Regardless of what they say I know Daryl is a good man. My father likes him, and that means a lot to me. I can't wait until Valerie moves out of Daryl 's place. That way I can give up my second job and move in with him. I'm so tired of dancing that I don't know what to do. I would make enough at Baxter's if it weren't for my student loans kicking my butt. It seems that I would've been better off if I would have just gotten a job without going to college. There are people in my department that have been here 10 years, straight out of high school and they are making more than me. What sense does it make to have a 40K a year job, and pay back 10k of it annually? I guess that's what I get for choosing Loyola University. I'm not mad, because I learned a lot in those four years, and plus that's where I met my girl Gina. We have been tight since we got to Baxter's. I'm glad she got me this job, but I'm just sick of the gossip. I guess it's the same everywhere, but it seems like they just take it to the extreme here. I guess I'm just worried that someone will find out that I dance at the Crystal Club out in Harvey. I know it's on the other side of town, but you never know. The only people that know is my girl Gina and Daryl, and I told them not to say a word to anyone, so far so good. Daryl had a problem with it at first, but after he came to the show about 5 times (twice without telling me), he was OK with it. I don't want to do this for long, I'm just trying to survive, and it's pretty good money. It's not the thousands that are talked about on talk shows, but for two hours work, I would say it is worth it. Some of the girls work all day, but the club isn't jumping until about 5:30. I only do it about 3 times a week, and I don't do lap dances, I have a little respect for myself. My girl Gina pops in sometimes, I don't know if she's there to watch me or just to hang out. There are a few women who come on a regular basis, but for the most part it's usually men. I know Gina used to be Bi-sexual, but she said that life is over. She has a nice man, and seems to be happy. We double date sometimes, and Antonio really seems to be into her. She doesn't talk about him that much, but some people just keep their business to themselves, which is the way I am. I tell Gina a few things about Daryl and I, but for the most part I keep to myself. I know one thing; I have to get Valerie out of my man's house. I'm tired of having to talk to him all night just so I know he's not messing around with her. I trust him, but I know men can only take so much. He's always trying to reassure me that nothing is going on, but I just have a bad feeling about their set up. Every time I show up over to Daryl's she leaves. I guess she feels just as uncomfortable as I do, but that still seems a little odd. She also has this smirk on her face everytime she sees me and I know that she is the originator of half the rumors that I hear about. I can deal with that though, because I know how trifling' some women can be. Just because she can't have him, she has to make his life miserable. One day I'm afraid I'm going to go off on that child in a bad way. I know that if I hurt her at work that I would lose my job instantly, but I think it might be worth it. I should've listened to my mother who told me to never date someone you work with. Now I know why, but just like everything else I've learned, I had to learn the hard way. At least Daryl doesn't have any kids because, that's something that I try and stay away from. Unless the baby's mother is dead or out of the country, I don't have time for it. Some baby's mamas bring too much drama. I guess I would be hateful myself if I were to lay up and have a baby expecting to get married, just to be dumped. Some men are dogs. How can you even call yourself a man and leave your child just so you can start the sick cycle again? If I didn't have needs, I wouldn't even be bothered. I guess that's why I love Daryl so much. He is baggage free. Even if he is still sexing it up with Valerie, I might let it slide. Men will be men, and the good ones are too hard to find. As long as he doesn't throw it up in my face, I might just ignore it. He's good to me, and if he can balance his time correctly, then I guess I shouldn't complain. At least he doesn't sweat me over a threesome like some of my previous men have.


Gina


I can't believe she doesn't know that she is getting played. I have done everything in my power to let her know. I don't have any proof that's why I was trying to get to his e-mail. I don't want to go to her with accusations. All I want is for Carmen to be happy. She is the nicest and most caring person I have met. Her friendship means a lot to me. I have even learned to deal with stupid Daryl. Even though he gives good men a bad name, he's cool in his own way. He was there for me when my mother passed away, and that's something I won't forget, most people gave their condolences, but he actually sat me down and talked to me. He told me that momma was better off in the heavens, and that the only reason people cry and act a fool is because we are selfish. Why do we cry knowing that our loved ones are gone on to a better place? That really helped me, but that was almost two years ago, and now he is playing with my friend's heart. I wish I could give him a taste of his own medicine. I want to confront him, but I have to lay low, and Keep my enemy close. I know that he is still sleeping with Valerie, because once I called his house looking for Carmen, and I could hear soft moans in the background. He didn't even try to play it off, I think he knew that I was a little aroused. He told me that it was the TV, but I'm not stupid. I would know Valerie's voice anywhere. I couldn't figure out why he answered the phone knowing that he was doing wrong, but then I figured that he had to have caller ID. It would've been perfect timing if Carmen was over my house, but she wasn't. I finally caught up with Carmen later that night, I was about to tell her what I had heard earlier, but that dog was now giving Carmen the same pleasure that he had given Valerie earlier. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. How could he do both of them in a matter of hours? Was he that hungry for sex, or was he just trying to prove a point. At any rate I was determined to get him away from my friend. She had been hurt so many times, I knew she was becoming numb of the pain, but I also knew that this would crush her. Carmen has a way of attracting the biggest dogs that the streets had to offer, and everytime one hurt her she would cry on my shoulder. I wasn't having it this time; I had to come up with a way to get her out of this without her being too hurt. I grew up on the south side of Chicago, and I know a couple of people that would be more than happy to send Daryl a message. That would teach his dog ass a thing or two, but he wasn't worth the jail time. I was so upset I wanted to teach Ms. Valerie a lesson too. The whole office knows that Daryl is a dog, and a couple of men and even a few women tried to warn Carmen, but she is head over heels in love with him. I don't understand what women see in him. Granted he is about 6'2" with features that reminds you a lot of Leon, but he is also as arrogant as the dark skinned actor is. What upsets me the most about Daryl is the fact that he has the nerve to pretend he loves Carmen, but the moment she isn't looking he's trying to conquer another woman. He has even started sleeping with white women. It doesn't bother me that he sleeps with those fake ass Barbies, but these are the same women who have the nerve to call themselves Carmen's friends. I know Carmen is going to find out sooner or later, but I wish it was sooner, I can't wait to see Daryl's face. I hope she brings him to his knees. How can he fix his mouth to say, "I love you", when everytime he opens it a bone falls out? Too many people don't understand the meaning of the word love, and that's what gets so many people in trouble. That saying, "you always hurt the one you love", is a lot of crap. If you love someone, you wouldn’t hurt them. After seeing what my girl has been through, I think I'm about done with men. I refuse to be played for a fool. Antonio and I are doing OK, but I don't know what he does when he's not with me, nor do I care. If I spent my time worrying about what some man was doing, I would never rest. Those dogs do what they want when they want to. That phrase "thinking with your little head instead of you big one" applies to them all. If they can get away with getting some on the side, they are going to go for it. Most women on the other hand are genuinely faithful. I say most, because there is that small percentage of women that will sleep with your father your and your cousin for a small fee, but that's usually result of what their father showed them. Carmen isn't like that. She deserves a lot better.


Two months later


(Daryl) I can't believe what I have gotten myself into. I knew I should've stopped while I was ahead. Now I'm ashamed to show my face at work. I hope Valerie doesn't open her big mouth. Well here comes Beverly, So I will soon know. "Daryl, you are the biggest liar I know. I can't believe you got that girl pregnant. After all the shit about you loving Carmen and wanting to do the right thing this time, I can't believe you looked me in my face and lied". All I could do is play dumb. "What are you talking about? What girl? Why are you trippin'"? I knew I had it coming, but at least I tried to play it off. "You know exactly who and what I'm talking about, don't you think Valerie has told everyone who will listen by now? You didn't even have enough respect for Valerie, Carmen, whoever else you've been sleeping with or yourself to use a condom. That is just plan ole' nasty. Your stuff is gon' to fall off. I'm too through with you Daryl. I hope Valerie takes you for everything you are worth, which isn't much. What's your next step? I guess now you have to at least think about marring her. You're a joke." All I could do is slouch down in my chair. Beverly was right, and now I had to suffer the consequences. I didn't even bother to run up to the fourth floor this time, because I knew Carmen was done with me. From the looks that I got I sensed that everyone knew. Even my manager had a look of disgust on her face. I just played it off, and went on with my daily routine. Carmen and I normally ate lunch together, but I decided that I would alter my schedule by an hour today. When I did finally make it to lunch I saw that Carmen was sitting with Gina and they looked at me with detest. I pulled myself together and approached the two of them anyway. "Hey Gina, can I talk to Carmen for a minute?" Gina looked at Carmen for disapproval, but to both of our surprise Carmen agreed to talk to me. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. I broke out in a cold sweat and had those stupid butterflies in my stomach. At that point it occurred to me that I really did love Carmen. Why is it that you have to be faced with losing someone, before you realize how important they are to you? Carmen was as cool as could be. She looked at me, and for the first time I could see how much she loved me, and then that look changed. I didn't know it at the time, but that would be the last time I would see that look from her. I tried to brace myself for what she had to say. "I'm not going to even try to explain how I feel right now" She started. "I do want you to know that I never lost faith in you. It took me a long time to open up to you, and this is my reward. I loved you with all my heart, but now it's gone. I knew you were still sleeping with that girl, she told me herself. I was in denial for a long time, because you seemed to really love me. Normal people can't as deceitful as you, so I guess that makes you abnormal. I don't really care what you have to say I just have this little advice for you. Don’t call me, write me, talk to me or e-mail. Hell don't even think about me. Please just forget about me Take care of yourself, and your new baby." With that it was over. I never even had a chance to say how sorry I was, but I think she already knew.


Daryl


I became a father today, and from the looks of things that's all I would ever be. Valerie left me about four months ago, and now I'm just trying to figure out what happened to my life. I have slipped into a deep funk. I was forced to resign from Baxter's. From what I heard they told everyone that I left to, "pursue other career opportunities". What the hell does that mean anyway? Luckily a little bird warned me ahead of time, at least I had a chance to get my resume on the net at Baxter's expense. After Carmen left me it seemed that everyone in the office despised me. It's hard to go to work where you're hated. I guess I learned my lesson. Never date anyone that you work with. My new job is cool, I'm in sales for the first time in my career, and I get to spend a lot of time on the road. I even have a company car, which is cool, because I don't have to pull my ride out of the garage until the weekend. Even though I found a new job I still think about all the people I hurt at my last gig. Everybody looked up to me, and I let everyone down. I tried to make amends, but people just grew tired of me. To top it off R. Kelly even started messing with my mind. I just know he wrote, "I'm a bad man" for me. I tried to work things out with Valerie, but after a few months she realized that a part of me just wasn't there. I mean I made it to every doctor's appointment with her, but the feelings just weren't there. After Valerie left I was hurt, but not like that day in the cafeteria when Carmen dumped me. That is a pain that left a hole in my heart. I guess that's what I get for loving her from the bottom of my heart, instead loving her wholeheartedly. I hurt over Valerie in a different way. She's going to be faced with raising a son without a father. I mean of course I'm going to be there as much as I can, but that still won't be enough. Beverly was right when she said "sick cycle". My mother raised me alone, and now Valerie faces the same challenge. I made a vow that I would do everything in my power not to put anyone through the pain that I had suffered, but here I am hurting my son too. The grass always looks greener on the other side that's why you have to take care of your own lawn. I ran into Carmen at the mall one day, and believe or not she acted like she was happy to see me. She was glowing. We talked like we were old friends. I didn't know what to make of that. I almost asked for forgiveness, and then I noticed an engagement ring. I also I noticed that she was carrying a bag from David's Bridle. She saw my mood change and she decided to end my curiosity. "Oh, I see you noticed my ring." "Yes", I said. "Yes I'm getting married in a few weeks". Of course I had to ask, "so who's the luckiest man in the world?" Nothing could have prepared me for what I heard next. She smiled and happily responded, "Gina". All I could do is walk away. I haven't heard from Carmen since. I think I will carry this pain to my deathbed. I can't win.

First Sight by Rekha Ambardar
Rekha Ambardar 1500 Words
501 Ave. E
Dollar Bay,
Michigan 49922
(906) 482-8841
e-mail: rekha@portup.com


AT FIRST SIGHT

by

R. Ambardar

"You should see the gorgeous guy who's taken the office space next to my flower shop." Kristen tossed the salad and set it out on the counter.
Her friend, Julie, sat on the stool at the counter, waiting for Kristen to dish out the beef stroganoff. "Lucky you," Julie sighed, "although I wouldn't exchange him for my stodgy, dependable Richard.
Kristen turned off the stove. She served the stroganoff in two plates and set them on the counter. "My new office neighbor is too good-looking. I intend to stay clear of him."
"Must be nice working next door to a gorgeous guy." Julie dug into the golden-brown portion of meat and noodles in front of her.
"I'd think so too, if Jeff, my ex, hadn't been so gorgeous and had an ego to match. Going for a good-looking guy is like love at first sight. You regret it afterwards." Kristen forked into her stroganoff noodles with a glazed look in her eyes.
"Don't be too sure. Love at first sight can happen–-and can last." Julie sounded mysterious.
"Not for me, thank you." Kristen got up. "Coffee?"
The next day, Kristen felt the presence of the new guy even more keenly. When they passed each other in the carpeted corridor of the building, he smiled. "You're Kristen from Kristen's Country Flowers, aren't you?"
Kristen reciprocated with a tight smile. "Yes, and you are?"
"Steve Lorrimer. I'm your neighbor and I give people the bottom line to their money matters. Not always a popular job--I'm an accountant."
For a guy with chestnut hair flopping over his eyes and a heart-stopping smile, he seemed down-to-earth and easy to talk to. She noted that he did not glance perpetually at himself in the glass door or smooth down his hair. She remembered the small comb Jeff used to carry around in his pocket and whip out in a flash.
"Nice to meet you," she replied in a kinder tone. She might need his help sometime, since they had adjacent offices. "I have to run. I'm expecting an order in from the nursery."
She walked away leaving him looking as if he'd have liked to chat some more. She strode purposefully toward the glass door that opened into a brightly-lit store that looked like an arbor. But where was the delivery of mums she'd ordered? No matter what the season she had a steady supply of flowers and ferns from downstate.
The front door bell tinkled and a delivery man in khaki uniform walked in. "Ma'am, you've got to ask somebody to move their car. It's parked in the loading area out back where I'm supposed to make the delivery to your store."
So that was it! She went out the back door and peeked out. Sure enough, a sleek black Buick sedan stood there. She recognized it as Steve's car. She'd seen him drive it to work a couple of times. He must not have known that the truck parked there to deliver her flowers.
"I think I know whose it is. I'll ask him to move it."
"Okay. I'll try again round the back." The man disappeared looking less harassed.
Kristen went next door, an uncomfortable thud in the pit of her stomach. The last thing she wanted was a difficult situation with the guy in the next door office.
Steve looked up from the papers he was reading. Lucky he was not with a client.
"Steve, could you move your car? The delivery truck is about to make a delivery to my store."
He looked up, concentration etched on his face. "I'm sorry. I had to meet a client and I thought I'd be late." He glanced out the window behind his desk. "I didn't see a yellow line, so I thought it was okay to park there."
"The truck driver's assumed squatter's rights on the space whenever he comes by to make a delivery." She hoped she had just the right tone of voice. She didn't want to make a big issue of it, given his nice manner.
He appeared calm and not at all put out. He got up. "I'll move it right now." His presence seemed to fill the room as he held the door open for her.
"Thank you," she said and returned to her store. In the next half hour, she put away the new shipment of flowers in tall jars containing water-logged sponges.
At noon, the door opened and Steve walked in. "I'm going to Hamburger Heaven to get a bite to eat. Want to come along? It's the least I can do after causing you the inconvenience this morning."
She looked up from the red tissue paper spread out on the counter ready to wrap a bouquet in. Her heart lurched. Stop it, she scolded herself mentally. Keep a picture of Antonio Banderas by your bedside, if you have to.
"Thanks, but I can't. I have orders to make up."
"Maybe another time."
Was it her imagination or did he look just a shade disappointed as he shut the door behind him? The rest of the day, she was conscious of a smug feeling of having declined Steve's offer of lunch.
You're coming to my birthday party on Friday, aren't you?" Julie asked that evening. "The party's Richard's idea."
"Of course." Kristen remembered the lovely dinner glass set Julie had given her on her birthday last month and she'd picked up a pair of tall pewter candlesticks almost as soon as Julie had mentioned the party.
Kristen hardly noticed the week race by. Between fielding phone calls for orders and the special deliveries she had Eric, the messenger-boy make, she had no time to think.
She sat on the high stool with her shoes kicked off, making up a bootie-shaped vase with baby's breath for a morning pickup. Her feet hurt from goodness knows what. Tomorrow, Saturday, she decided she'd do nothing all day.
The door opened and Steve came in. The last few days she'd heard him come and go, but hadn't seen him. Was he sulking for some reason? Who could tell what went on in the mind of a knock-out guy who could snap his fingers at anyone he pleased? Except, she wasn't going to be the recipient of his finger-snapping.
"Good morning. I'd like a bouquet made up." He smiled that smile again.
"What would you like in it?"
"Whatever you think is nice for a special lady."
Kristen's spirits did a downward spiral. And she thought he had no one in tow! Just because he'd been cordial.
"I'd be glad to make one up for you. When do you need it?" She managed to keep her voice level.
"By this afternoon."
"It'll be ready when you come back."
Kristen made up a beautiful bouquet of pink and white carnations and ferns. She placed them in cellophane-encased wet sponge and wrapped them in pink tissue.
"You're a genius," Steve said, when he came by to pick it up and pay her.
There were worse things to be called than a genius Kristen thought as she got ready for Julie's party. Armed with the present she knocked on Julie's door at six o'clock.
"Happy Birthday."
"Thank you. Come on in and have some punch. The guys have gone to get more ice," Julie said taking the gift from Kristen.
"The guys?"
"Richard and my brother."
But Kristen's eyes were riveted on the table's centerpiece. In a tall vase stood the bouquet of carnations she'd made up that morning.
"Where'd you get that?"
Before Julie could answer the door opened and two men walked in. Richard and –-Steve?
Kristen stared, slack-jawed. "What are you doing here?"
"Let me introduce my kid brother, Steve," Julie said. "I told him about the office space next to yours when he moved here from Chicago."
"She's done me a favor by inviting us both," Steve said, his melting grey eyes resting on Kristen's face. "This time there's no office work to interrupt us."
"Steve asked me if I knew any pretty girls in town." Julie poured out punch.
"And I won't tell you what I said to Julie." Kristen laughed. "She did mention a brother moving here, but I forgot."
"I've been giving a running commentary about you to Julie. How you appeared to be sizing me up," Steve said handing her a cup of punch.
Kristen flushed. "And I thought . . ."
"I can imagine what you thought. Still, you're a special lady. Suspicious--but special," he said with a smile.
But she knew that the warmth of his smile had melted away her caution. It reminded her of the flowers in her store and the rare feeling they always gave her.

THE END




Crimson Legacy; Rise of the Sate by scott adams
<>


CRIMSON LEGACY
Part 1
Rise of the Sate

COMING SOON
BIG STINKING STEAMING HEAPING PILE OF NUTTY BROWN BULL SHIT! by Nathan
BIG STINKING STEAMING HEAPING PILE OF NUTTY BROWN BULL SHIT


My thoughts scream
in painful teams
of long lost hopes
and forgotten dreams

I fell on my ass
I feel like trash
and I'm not quit sure
how long it will last

It used to be
all I see
is the sun rising
over distant horizon
and there she comes
to see me again
but now I've lost my best friend

Time goes on
faster each day
wile I wonder
what's the next game
that I'll have to play

So I was born
and will
live, do and die
through all the
truths, lies and whys

I can't wait to
get through
all the nasty goo
of this

BIG STINKING STEAMING HEAPING PILE OF NUTTY BROWN BULL SHIT!
All Seasons For Womanhood by Judith Greencorn
All Seasons For Womanhood

Woman of Night
glues stars to her
flowing chemise;
her breasts and vulva
glows.Her hair lies
carelessly strewn,like
silken corn tassles tossed
into a harsh gunny sack earth.
Her Grandma's bones clack
in the wind; her ancient face
frozen into Winter's
toothless green.
She smiles back at her.
Her Casper granny bounding
up and away.

Ladies with green lining
in leaflet purses;
long young limbs unulating
against a storm that thrusts
and moistens knotted black wombs;
acorns growing and seed renews.
Chapped hands stiffened in subzero
mornings. Cold chatter mixed
with cigarette burned bitterness.
Hills echo of their time now gone.

Woody stump buttons
sewn up and down a slope.
Another season opens its trunk.
No woman can dress or find
her clothes in the sleepy stupor
of a mild Summer;
when Woman of Night
closes her closet door
and her eternal light.

test by test2
test
test by Test
test
by

"Brother" by Danielle
I've known you for eight years,
being your best friend and one of your "brother".
I've crushed on you for as long as I can remember,
being intrigued by your brilliance and led my soul sunk into your eyes.
I dropped you tons of clues,
showing you that I want to be more than just friends,
but you never seemed to have picked anything up.
I was annoyed and crazed,
whenever girls come up to you with flirtatious looks,
or slipped you a note with a melt-your-heart smile.
I know I am not as pretty.
But I love you as much as other girls do.
I dressed up feminine,
but you never never treated me as a girl.
I want some breakthrough,
because I am tired of being your best bud,
and sick of being your "brother".
I don't only desire your trust,
but also your affection and love.


Talking in my Sleep by ickletease
In life there are millions of dos and don’ts, and most of them crop up when you get yourself into a relationship.
It seems to me that for some reason whenever things are going better than you can imagine us humans have a way of completely mucking it up for no sane reason.
Josh is tall, with the most gorgeous dark brown hair and piercing blue eyes, he’s a dream, even before you get to the body. With the personality too, he’s amazing. What’s more he’s in love, and that’s where everything gets absolutely beyond any words I can think of. The person he loves is me.
So picture it. Great boyfriend. Great relationship. Then six months down the line you get all those damn dos and don’ts all mixed up. A few days later you’ve dumped the fantastic boyfriend, for the guy you have know for five minutes. The one you met in a club and is so obviously only after one thing.
Luckily for me a few days later I had the so-called ‘slap in the face’. And luckily for me it wasn’t too late. I still don’t understand the behaviour. Why oh why?
So now I’m happy? Back in this great relationship, getting everything I need (and a bit more besides!!!). In real life I’ve sorted the dos and don’ts. Great! End of problem? Well, not exactly.
Everything is fantastic…until I go to sleep. That’s where I can’t seem to control these dos and don’ts. As far as my dreams go, well I’ve slept with half the guys in college. I thought that it was guys who had a problem with being faithful?
It seems that if I’m not being unfaithful in real life, it’s a necessity to do it in my dreams. But now I’m starting to feel guilty, very guilty.
One morning after I’d had one of the dreams I was sure Josh knew. I thought he’d find out I’d been unfaithful. Sort of. I felt worse than when it had happened in real life. It took me a couple of days to get over it, to convince myself that it was just a dream.
The problem is it’s now more frequent. To make matters worse I could share it with anyone, without even knowing.
I’ve started talking in my sleep.

Reward by Danielle
Have you ever ask yourself a question about why you work so hard? Perhaps we all will come up with different answers to this question. Nevertheless, I think most of us work hard because we want to be rewarded.
Nevertheless, do we get rewarded all the time? I am sure sometimes we just do things and eventually end up with getting nothing. To me, life is to give and gain. It often comes as a cycle and never stops. Even though I might not get anything out of what I am doing now, but I still feel very contented because I actually enjoyed the whole process of trying hard. What I am going to get from what I do actually became meaningless. Therefore, while you are doing something, try to enjoy its process. Usually, you can learn a lot from the process, which might even be more worthwhile than earning money or admirations from others.
Life seems to be a piece of cloth, in which we weaved our happiness and sadness into it. Nevertheless, our laughs and cries is really what makes our "cloth" colorful. Without ups and down, life is just a piece of plain white cloth with no meaning. If so, what's the actual purpose of living it?
Life is an adventure from the beginning til the end. We must learn to adapt to our environment that we are exploring and enjoy the whole venture-- even thoguh there might be hardships and obstacles. Certainly, I am sure God had created us to be strong enough to overcome any problems, if we use our wits and know how to gather our strengths.
Thus, please do not look back to the past. Once things are done, just let them be a memory. Don't regret about anything because even if your mistake, it's done already, you can't really do anything to change it. We should learn to live in the present and plan for now. In my opinion, I think we should leave our future to God and let him decide how things will turn out to be. I suppose our lives will be more exciting and meaningful wihtout any anticipation from the past or now.
Reward by Danielle
Have you ever ask yourself a question about why you work so hard? Perhaps we all will come up with different answers to this question. Nevertheless, I think most of us work hard because we want to be rewarded.
Nevertheless, do we get rewarded all the time? I am sure sometimes we just do things and eventually end up with getting nothing. To me, life is to give and gain. It often comes as a cycle and never stops. Even though I might not get anything out of what I am doing now, but I still feel very contented because I actually enjoyed the whole process of trying hard. What I am going to get from what I do actually became meaningless. Therefore, while you are doing something, try to enjoy its process. Usually, you can learn a lot from the process, which might even be more worthwhile than earning money or admirations from others.
Life seems to be a piece of cloth, in which we weaved our happiness and sadness into it. Nevertheless, our laughs and cries is really what makes our "cloth" colorful. Without ups and down, life is just a piece of plain white cloth with no meaning. If so, what's the actual purpose of living it?
Life is an adventure from the beginning til the end. We must learn to adapt to our environment that we are exploring and enjoy the whole venture-- even thoguh there might be hardships and obstacles. Certainly, I am sure God had created us to be strong enough to overcome any problems, if we use our wits and know how to gather our strengths.
Thus, please do not look back to the past. Once things are done, just let them be a memory. Don't regret about anything because even if your mistake, it's done already, you can't really do anything to change it. We should learn to live in the present and plan for now. In my opinion, I think we should leave our future to God and let him decide how things will turn out to be. I suppose our lives will be more exciting and meaningful wihtout any anticipation from the past or now.
You're not alone by Emily (or M)
You’re not alone

He shouldn’t have done it. He shouldn’t have pushed her to the limit. He shouldn’t have made her show him her anger. Why? She asked herself, why couldn’t he have left things as they were. Nothing would have changed; they could have still remained the way they were, happy, in love. Each respecting each other’s own privacy and secrecy, but he had to be so inquisitive. Feeling that he must know of her past, her own thoughts and emotions, being the typical paranoid male. Well he regretted it and now she was on her own again, like so many of the other times when people had probed and uncovered too much and she was compelled to defend herself, for no one must ever know who she really was, never.
She had loved him so much, her heart bled for him, she cried painful tears for him, and she starved herself of the desires and hunger for him. And how had he repaid her? By deceit, a word she knew well, her life was surrounded by it, for, without it she would have surely been dead by now. But to be deceived by one she so adored, it was an unspeakable act. But he had paid dearly, she thought to herself, smiling as she remembered that night, the pleasure created from those actions still coursing through her veins, fuelling her dark heart.
As she struck a match against the rough stubble of his face, now immortalised in eternal stillness, his mouth slightly open in a silent gasp of shock, his eyes wide in shock and surprise at the suddenness of her attack. She watched as the single flame slowly consumed the wood, creeping it’s way down until just before it reached her fingertips she brought it to her cigarette. Her amethyst eyes shined as the red and yellows scorched the fragile paper and dried tobacco a filthy black with the flecks of white ash accompanying it. She breathed in slow and hard, reminiscing as the sweet, sickly poison slid down her throat, and swam into her lungs. She exhaled sharply and abruptly as she brought herself back to reality. Quietly cursing, as she lifted herself up to her feet and moved to the bed. Why did she always let her anger get the better of her, now she was alone and with no security again, she would have to search long and hard for another like him, and perhaps there was no one. Fool, she muttered, she’d survive she always has. Plenty more fish in the sea, she laughed, an almost innocent laugh, as she realised the alternative meaning. Now in a much more light-hearted mood, she thought it was time best to leave. She never concerned herself with the disposal of the body, as they could never determine what actually happened to it. To them it was just another random attack on a young male, who they presumed had too much to drink and possibly consumed a narcotic of some sort, thus, leaving them totally exposed and unable to defend themselves. Quite an accurate analysis, she complimented when she read the headlines a few days after a previous ‘accident’.
She picked up her bag, stubbed out her cigarette, and made her way to the door and once again, towards freedom. Before doing so, she stopped, knelt down and laid a sympathetic kiss on his once vibrant lips. They were still warm, or was that just the blood? Now, it was over.

Sitting one the train to a new destination, she looked around at the other passengers. Poor fools, her eyes narrowing in contempt. How could they possibly enjoy their lives, it was the same monotonous pattern, everyday, and no real change. Life was worth so much more, they didn’t deserve it the parasitic vermin, she spat. Looks like someone rubbed you up the wrong way, an amicable voice spoke opposite her. Glancing up, she saw a smooth, tanned face staring right back at her. You could say that yes, responding with a similar tone, silently scolding herself for revealing her real emotions to a total stranger. Although looking up again for a second glance perhaps he could become more. He was well groomed, an essential for possible applicants, short coal black hair, a fantastic bone structure with tight unblemished skin. But his most distinguishing feature were his eyes, she had never come across such an intense colour before. She almost felt as though she was swimming in them, they were a Bermudan blue, an inviting blue, a playful blue.
'Can I help you?’ the voice spoke again, a rich silky tone with a slight hint of playfulness. Not realising that she had been staring at him for quite some time now, she shook her head.
No, I’m sorry, it’s just I’ve never seen eyes that colour before. What?! What a pathetic excuse, she almost kicked herself.
The same could be said about yours, purples an extremely rare colour, are they contacts? He inquired
No, this is their real colour, though I’m often asked that. She laughed
He smiled and her heart almost melted. So where are you headed then? His smooth voice wrapping her up in a world of fantasy.
‘Wherever, I just want a clean break. You know leave the past behind and look the to the future’
‘Oh, I see, just broken up with your boyfriend then?’
‘How did you know that? His accurate observation threw her off balance slightly.
‘Well, it’s just that you have that look, of’, he paused here ‘liberation, like you’ve escaped finally. I kinda knew because I’ve recently left a relationship too, she was too inquisitive.’
Mine, too!’ she exclaimed.
She was now aroused, as she imagined his lips on hers, almost tasting him. She felt the change take place, her tongue smoothly running over her teeth.

‘Oh shit, here’s my stop.’ As he got up, she controlled the urge to get up too; she didn’t want to appear to eager, that always scared them off.
Hey, I don’t mean to sound forward, but do you reckon we could keep in touch?’
Surprised at this, she took a while to reply, ‘ Uh sure, yeah that would be cool’.
‘Great, here’s my card’, he handed her a small ivory white card with delicate red writing on it.
‘Thanks, here’s my number too’. She scribbled her mobile down and passed it to him, his hand embraced it along with her own small hand. Sparks of electricity burst through each other.
‘Well, I’d better get off now’ he grinned mischievously. ‘I hope to hear from you soon’.
‘Who says I’ll be the one to call first’, she returned his playful words, in her own flirtatious manner.
He smiled and then turned around, and became engulfed in the swarm of the regular commuters going back and forth from their stereotypical homes and jobs.
When she saw him get off the train, she hurriedly moved to the next carriage, and jumped off, hoping he hadn’t seen her.
As the daily bustle of life rushed by her, she looked down at the card: ‘Ethan Murphy’ it said.
She slowly laughed to herself; she wouldn’t go hungry tonight. He’d call they always did.


As soon as he emerged from the hot, swarming station, he breathed in the cool, inviting night air. Taking a cigarette and drawing in on its heavenly delicious aroma, he looked down at her writing, beautiful romantic swirls of black ink spelt out her name, Alaia. No last name just the first. That was a gorgeous name and a gorgeous face to go with it. What a shame though that after tonight it would never be seen by another. With the thought of that beautiful face, ivory white skin inches away form his own, and her luscious, ambrosial, nectar ebbing from her body and flowing smoothly down his throat. His eyes gleamed with a wicked glint, and his smooth canines grew, tips sharpening. Perhaps this would be the best meal yet.

Alaia too, was smiling, her tongue playing with her perfectly sharpened fangs too. Vampires could be so choosy sometimes.
the leaves in autumn by Nicola
When I looked out at the leaves that autumn,
I no longer saw what I had seen every other time,
I did not see the death and destruction of nature.

I saw an end, waiting for a new beginning,
One part of an everlasting circle,
Not the hatred i used to see.

In the crispy brown leaves I saw toast,
Burnt slightly by a loving parent,
Feeding love to their fair child.

In the bere, unhappy branches,
I saw a child weeping for the loss of a loved one,
Not knowing what has happened,
But that they will never see that one again.

In the strong, sturdy trunk I see two legs,
Holding up a body,
A brain and heart.

In that autumn tree I see,
The circle of life,
And love.

the leaves in autumn by Nicola
When I looked out at the leaves that autumn,
I no longer saw what I had seen every other time,
I did not see the death and destruction of nature.

I saw an end, waiting for a new beginning,
One part of an everlasting circle,
Not the hatred i used to see.

In the crispy brown leaves I saw toast,
Burnt slightly by a loving parent,
Feeding love to their fair child.

In the bere, unhappy branches,
I saw a child weeping for the loss of a loved one,
Not knowing what has happened,
But that they will never see that one again.

In the strong, sturdy trunk I see two legs,
Holding up a body,
A brain and heart.

In that autumn tree I see,
The circle of life,
And love.

Bar Tone by Nathan
Better far at the bar I set marred up to par
A jackass in strut chewing cigaret butts
Wile flies lick his razor cuts
Some poor girl fit to hurl
Her guts now set to spin and twirl
She smells of shnops and lolly pops
For that I shurely give her props
Prom Fantasy by Danielle
Even though Josh and I had been buds only about a year, but we already knew each other like siblings. Everyday, we would see each other in the class and fool around together. Since I am really boyish, we had never gotten any difficulty in communicating with each other. We were just as close as any pair of girl-friends and boy-friends.
Things had gone very well before the prom. Until one day, Josh came up to me and asked me to be his prom partner, I could sense there was something "wrong".
At the beginning, I turned him off and pretended he was only kidding, although I knew he wasn't. Then, about two weeks away from the prom, he asked me to be his partner again. This time, I became a bit more "alert". So I asked him, "Is there something wrong with you?" I know it sounded stupid, but I really did think there was something big happening.
"I guess it's time for us to make a little change or maybe big change to our friendship." He said seriously and looked deeply into my eyes.
Honestly, I was really stunned and nervous. Certainly, I knew what he meant by that. Nevertheless, I also knew I only liked him as a friend. Thus, I just said, "I think we both are changing all the time. And I am thankful that while we changed, our friendship stayed the same. That's something I can really trust and feel comfortable with."
I said so because I was trying to drop him a clue by saying I want to be friends with him only. Hopefully, he would have picked up the clue if he was smart enough. Yet, he said, "I am sure while we change, our relationship should also change."
This time, I became rather nervous and bewildered. Therefore, I just said crispily, "I am afraid we can't. Since we've known each other so well, I would rather just stay friends with you."
"You like someone else?" Josh asked and observed me carefully.
"No...and yes" I said. I didn't want to lie to him because I never lied to him.
"Who is he?" he asked.
"It's Christ! And he might not even know I exist!" I really wanted to yell at him that way, but I didn't. I knew I couldn't say it because he's Josh's best friend! I couldn't just spit that out to him without concerning about the consequences afterward. Since I knew it would be impossible to have something happen between Christ and me, I would rather keep that to myself.
Obviously, Josh was wounded by my speechlessness. Without a word, he left the school yard immediately and never looked back. I remained standing there, with my soul sank into deep thoughts.

On the prom night, I went with Jen and Alice. Therefore, I spotted Josh with his friends. He looked very fine and nonchalant as if nothing happened. Meanwhile, he sensed someone was staring at him. As he looked at my direction, he spotted me too. Hesitantly, he came over and said hi to me.
"You look great tonight." he admired.
"I think you do too." I said, then I excused myself and went to a table with some of my friends.
Slowly, the soft music drifted in the ballroom. I saw people paired up and began to dance. At that moment, I really did hope Christ would come over and ask me for a dance. But at the same time, I guessed I would have fainted if he really did come up to me.
"Why aren't you dancing?" Jen asked when she came back from that dance.
"Umm... I am just a bit tired, that's all." I said.
"Come on! You shouldn't just come and sit here! That's a big waste of time and money!" Jen cried out loud. At that time, everyone in the ballroom looked at our table, including Christ.
"I don't know. I might just want to chat with my friend and chill out a bit tonight." I said, quite embarrassed by being the center of attention under such spectacular occassion.
"Why don't you dance with Josh?" she asked. Apparently, she didn't knwo what happened between me and Josh the day before.
"Oh, I think he's pretty busy to dance with other girls." I said.
"Oh well, whatever. Now I am going to get some snacks, do you want some?" Jen asked.
"No thanks." I said abruptly, became impatient to carry on a meaningless conversation with her. Jen seemed to have noticed it, so she just walked away to the food section.
I sat there for another minute, staring at each couple in the dance floor. Suddenly, I saw a hand hold out before me. When I looked up, it was Christ!
"Oh my god! I must be dreaming!" I thought. I tried to calm myself down and tried to think that he might be just asking for a fork or something.
"Would you like a dance?" he asked politely, and then gave me a gentleman-like bow.
"Sure." I said automatically. I gave my hand to him subconsciously. The next thing I knew when I finally got my thoughts together was when we were already at the dance floor, being sandwiched by several pairs of couples.
"Are you nervous?" Christ asked and looked deep into my eyes intently. I felt like I was almost melting under the spells casted by his green eyes.
"Maybe a little, but at least I am still conscious." I joked. He laughed softly and held my hand tighter.
Meanwhile, a couple was moving toward us and they were about to bump into us. Christ swift me pulled me aside and put his hand protectively on my head. He held me so close but gently as if I was made of glass and he was afraid I would break if he held me too tight.
"I must be dreaming or somewhere in the wonderland." I thought. Even though we were at a corner with very few people, but he still held me close.
"Danielle." He said gently, almost like a humming of wind.
I felt like we were both ascending high up into the sky, where no one else would be there. Almost at the same time, Christ held my chin with a hand to let me face him, and he kissed me!
"Danielle!Where are you?" Jen called out. I knew she was looking for me.
"Your friend is looking for you, do you want to go now" Christ asked.
"I think so." I said, although I didn't really want to reply Jen's call.
As I went to Jen with Christ, I saw Josh beside her. Jen winked at me to clue me that she and Josh got hooked up.
"Hi." Christ said to Jen and Josh.
"So, you two got hooked up?" Jen said.
Josh looked shocked and angry. He excused himself and went back to his table.
"What has gotten into him?" Jen said, confused.
"I think he's just a little thirsty." I said. Even though I knew it sounded crappy, but I didn't want to let Jen know the truth."
"I will go and check." Jen said and then walked away.
"Do you think she sense something was wrong?" I asked, a bit worried.
"Maybe. But I think everything will be fine. Right now, all you should concern about is to figure out where to hang out after the prom." Christ said.
I smiled at him and then we left the prom together.
The prom is not only a place for everyone to show off their best outfit, but it also can be a place for people to fall in love.
Here is your blood by Kristin

Bleed for me you said
And I did here
Here and here
Love me you said
And I tried
Then, not and Forever
Tell me the truth you said
And I did
Don't fear me you said
And I tried that too
But obstacle stood in our way
You said, I will love you forever
Unconditionally
But you couldn't
Not the way that unconditional means
I hear what you are saying
I am shaking as I write
Listening to you hurt me
Scared me into hiding
I will leave you with love
And I will take these scars from bleeding for you
And cherish them forever
Only I know what they are from
The pain and hurt of loving you
A Tale of Two Moguls by Amy S.

I stood by my window, overlooking the lake. It had frozen last night and looked like a white
sheet had enveloped it. It was nearly seven o’clock and I was still in my pajamas and bathrobe,
sipping a cup of coffee. After I finished sipping the warm, soothing liquid, I decided to get dressed,
for I had an appointment with Gloria Edwards concerning her ex-husband. I had planned it so I
would have just enough time to get ready and get to Winthrop on time. I grabbed my keys and
purse and off I went.
My name is Lauren Taylor and I am a private investigator in central Maine. I live in an old
coach house that I rent out from a sweet lady, Mrs. Burns. It’s not a great place, but it suits me just
fine because I just live with my cat, Italics. I am twenty-six years old, I have a medium build, long
legs and cropped blonde hair. I don’t wear much make-up and my wardrobe is quite plain. I love
my job, being a private detective, and I enjoy interacting with the people that I question.
I turned the corner to Gloria Edwards home. It was the biggest on the block, complete with
three car garage. I parked in the street, not wanting to draw attention to my pitiful Geo. As soon as I
rang the doorbell, it was answered by a woman in her late forties. She looked tired and as if she
had been crying.
“Hello. I’m Lauren Taylor. Here to see Ms. Edwards.”
“Oh, please call me Gloria. Come in, won’t you? I have some tea on.” She walked me into
the kitchen and motioned for me to take a seat at the island.
“What would you like to address about your ex-husband?” I asked, wanting to get to
business.
“He was found dead, just this morning, frozen in the ice out on the lake. Some ice
fishermen were out there are found him,” she said, as she was pouring the tea into two mugs.
Even though I couldn’t see her face, I knew she was fighting for her emotions.
“I am terribly sorry Ms. Edwards. You have my deepest sympathy,” I said, unsure if I
should console her.
“That’s okay.” She turned around and wiped the tears that were gathering in her eyes. “I’m
so sorry for behaving this way.”
“Well, what can I do for you?” I asked, regretting the abruptness in my voice.
“I would like you to investigate the murder. I feel that the Winthrop Police Department is
incompetent, for this sort of thing.”
“I would be happy to. I can assure you, whoever killed your husband, will be sought out.”
“What is your fee?” she inquired with almost no facial expression.
“Four thousand.”
“Done. I will write you a check right now.” I was pleased to have the work because the first
of the month was approaching rapidly.
* * *
I knew I had to go to the scene of the crime and at least inquire about what happened, but
that wasn’t a guarantee that the Police would tell a civilian. I drove my car out onto the ice and
asked about what had happened to Finch Edwards, but I couldn’t get anything out of the deputy.
Plan B- call my friend, Sheryl, at the County Coroner’s Office. I went back to my place and phoned
her. She was able to run his records and give me the Coroner’s Report. It showed that he had
been the CEO of Edwards International Software. This guy was rich and handsome. He must have
had some enemies. Where? I wasn’t sure.
I decided to go to his office to see if I could snoop around. Edwards International Software
is a rather large glass building of five stories and has a parking lot for employees. I opened the tall
glass door and entered. Behind the reception desk, there were two women, in their mid-twenties.
They were talking and clicking their gum.
“Hello. I’m Lauren Taylor, here to investigate the Edwards murder.”
“Go see, Mrs. Harrod, she was his personal secretary. She can help you. Take the
elevator up to the fifth floor and turn right,” the woman replied, automatically.
“Thanks,” I replied, being thankful that I didn’t have to pry information out of somebody. I
got to Mrs. Harrod’s desk and told her who I was. She told me that he didn’t come into work the
day before the murder. Mrs. Harrod thought that it was just another spur-of-the-moment trip to
Puerta Vallarta. I asked her if I could look around in his office and she said that without a search
warrant from the police, she was not authorized to make a judgment call. The Vice President was
away on a business trip and wouldn’t be able to give me authorization, either. There would be
some maneuvering to be done. I thanked her for her time and left. I had to get in that office.
That night around nine, after the building was vacant, I parked my Geo Metro outside FIS
and took my tools out of the trunk. I brought my tools with me to the door and started to pick the
lock. You should know that I don’t do this often, but sometimes it is necessary. After five minutes of
frustration, the door clicked open. I opened the big glass door and crept in. I knew I was seriously
playing with the law at this point, with a security guard inside. I took the stairs up to the fifth floor, I
opened the door to the main offices just a crack and then, when I knew the coast was clear, I crept
into Finch Edwards office. It was huge; he had a long mahogany table as a desk, with papers
strewn all over it. I started looking at the papers; it was just usual stuff, I thought. Things like net
worth and gross product. I opened a drawer. It only had gum, cigars, and magazines. I assumed
this was for his ‘leisure’ time at the office. I opened another and there was a rustling sound, what
was that? I shut the drawer and opened it again. It sounded like papers. I bent down so I could
view the door at eye level. I placed my hand inside and felt along the back of the drawer. There
were papers there, that had been taped to the back of the drawer with masking tape. All of a
sudden, I heard someone open the door. It was dark, so I laid flat under the table and just prayed
that the guard wouldn’t find me. He quickly gave the room a once-over with his flashlight. My heart
was pounding! He left and pulled the door shut. I gathered myself and took a deep breath. Then I
pulled the papers out and looked at them. They had handwritten numbers on them.
“121-5673-98-3758925,” was written on a piece, in a large scribble. I thought I better take this
along with me. I was able to creep out of Edwards International Software just by the skin of my tail.
That night I was exhausted from the adrenaline rush wearing off and fell asleep like a soldier come
in from battle.
The next morning, I was eager to make a phone call.
“Jenny, please. (pause) Hi Jenny, what’s going on at Central Maine Telephone?” I asked
jokingly.
“Not much. How are ya, Lauren?”
“Good, good. Hey, I was wondering if you could get me someone’s telephone bill?”
“Of course, who’s?”
“Finch Edwards, house and office.”
“Will do.”
“When can I pick them up?”
“Tomorrow at lunch, OK?”
“Sounds great, see you then.”
* * *
It was nearing five o’clock, so I decided in honor of this new job, I would go out to eat at
Pepper’s. Pepper’s is a nice little restaurant, a family place, with killer ribs and great salsa. This
was Winthrop’s main eatery. I went in, sat down and ordered my favorite, the vegetable skillet. I
hate eating alone, but tonight I was determined to have a good time.
As I was eating a piece of carrot, I overheard someone say Edwards. I quickly listened in.
“That d*** fool, his paradin’ around town in his fancy Mercedes Benz. No wonder the
Harrod chick offed ‘im.”
“Yup, I agree Nelson, I betcha ol’ she did it, couldn’t stand his extravagance no more.
When us country folk, ain’t got nothin’.” Wow, I thought to myself. Maybe I should check this out.
This is very lucky for a PI to get a lead just from eating dinner.
“Hiya! You fellas need some company?” I asked, knowing what the answer would be.
“Hey, good lookin’. Why don’t you sit down right here?” asked one of the guys trying to turn
the charm on.
“Sure.” I replied. After a few beers, on me of course, I asked them about Finch Edward’s
death.
“Good riddance,” one of them said.
“I think the secretary did it, she was always complain’n about him bein’ too fancy. She was
real jealous of him,” another said. I would definitely have to question her. She could be the answer
and she definitely had a motive, but she didn’t seem like that kind of person to me.
* * *
Jenny came into the little bistro, at lunch, and I waved her over to a table. She gave me the
bills and then we talked for about forty-five minutes. As soon as I got in my car, I started looking at
the bills, local, Boston, local, what’s this? A three-one-four exchange. Where was that? I reached
into the backseat to get my phone book. I looked frustratedly for the map with the area codes on it
and finally I found it. The number was in Washington, D.C. Why would he be calling down there? I
decided to call the number when I got home.
“United States Patent Office. How may I help you?”
“Hi.” My mind raced trying to come up with something to say that sounded descent. “I
would like to check the status of a patent.”
“Do you have the number?” The number. What number? It hit me like a brick: it was the
number on the paper.
“Uh, yes I do.” I reached into the folder I was keeping for the Edwards case and brought
out the piece of paper, while holding the phone in the crook of my neck. “121-5673-98-3758925,” I
said.
“Would you like me to fax you the printout?”
“Yes, 272-796-2575.”
“I’ll send it to you momentarily.”
“Thank you.” I had this feeling in my gut that I was so close to solving this out, I just
couldn’t put my finger on it. It could be nothing. Maybe he was just going to release a new product.
The printout would help. It started coming out of the facsimile machine. I looked at it and it said that
the patented product was software and the patent was put into effect just a day before Finch
Edwards disappearance. Something was on that software that wasn’t supposed to be and
someone knew about it. It had to be his competition. Stevenson Softare.
I went over to Stevenson Software and asked to speak with Parker Stevenson. After about
ten minutes of waiting, I went into his office.
“Hello, Mr. Stevenson.”
“What do you want?” he asked in a very harsh and to the point way.
“How is your company doing?”
“Just fine,” he replied brusquely.
“Are you sure? No one was going to take over the company? No one was going to put
your job in jeopardy?”
“No.” he replied. I knew I was right, his voice was wavering. “I have an appointment, so if
you wouldn’t mind.”
“Certainly, sir,” What else was I supposed to do? This is one of the downsides to being a
private detective, you can’t make arrests on just gut instinct.
I left and headed over to Finch Edwards’ house to see what if I could find some
incriminating evidence against Stevenson. I started thumbing through his books, in his home office
and what did I find, a hollow one. Gosh, this is starting to get easy. I opened, A Tale of Two Cities
and found a CD inside. I immediately moved over to his computer, turned it on and inserted the
disc. A small screen popped up that said,“ Enter Stevenson’s Database? No. Yes.” I knew it!
Edwards got a hold of Stevenson’s database and was going to totally put them out of business. I
clicked “Yes” and a screen with a database on it popped up. On the database, there were rows for
the product, the actual cost of the product, the selling cost, and finally, a column marked profit. I
clicked the product, “Palm Organizer,” and it showed, practically a recipe for making it. It showed
what chips were used and the cost. This was the same item that the patent was for: the Palm
Organizer. This was all Edwards needed to put Stevenson Software out of business.
All of a sudden, I heard a sound. It was footsteps. I immediately headed for the door, but I
was too late. Parker Stevenson was there holding a .32.
“Hello, Ms. Taylor.”
“Hi, Parker,” I said trying to keep the gunman talking.
“You know what, Ms. Taylor? You know too much.”
“I think you knew too much, Stevenson, or else you wouldn’t have even known that he had
the disc,” I inquired.
“That was the easy part. Ms. Harrod wasn’t getting quite enough salary, so she told me he
had it.”
“Now you are going to ruin it for yourself, though. You almost got away with killing him and
saving your company,” I said as my mind was putting the puzzle together.
“Am I? I don’t think so. My employees get to keep their job, I get to keep taking my family
on vacation and central Maine gets quality software and Internet access at a low price.” I knew I
had to do something and fast.
“I’d done such a good job, if you hadn’t come along and ruined everything. I hired a
triggerman to kill Finch, that dirty bas****. He dumped him into the lake before it froze and
everything was going perfectly to plan.”
“Its not my fault, I’m just doing my job.”
“Well, I was too.” he raised the .32 to his head and shot himself. I turned away. I ran out to
my car, got in and drove to the police station.
That was a good case, one of my best. I felt like I had accomplished something and given
back to society. I was really happy, but disturbed at what went on during those 3 days. All this was
about money and it really didn’t matter.
by
Amy S.
The Katie Sheen by Mark J. Sadness



The Katie Sheen by Mark Argyle














…I kept you in my little box to unleash on the world when it was ready…

…it isn’t but it’s escaped…

…now it’s going to break this whole world open…













































Free the nails from their hold,
Take the skin and lick it dry,
Suck the life from this,
eat the leaves in this dank little place,
something feels wrong,
maybe I’m just wrong

















The people looked at the ugly wooden tree, from it hung a rotting piece of meat that used to be a man, the flies buzzed around his face, seeming to take turns gnawing away the more juicy parts like the eyes and the inside of the mouth, the rest had to suffice with the drying blood that painted his face with anguish. This messiah, this ‘god’ was dead. Lifeless. Hopeless.

Katie awoke in a transparent film of liquid. The smell of urine and sweat hung in her unventilated room. It stuck her thin white nightie to her small pubescent breasts. She realised where she was, ashamed at what she had displayed to the researchers looking at her.

From The Katie Sheen Report
“…At first the subject slept in apparent comfort, heart rate just above average, breath rate right on average, at three fifty-six am her heart and breath rate leapt suddenly, doubling in a matter of minutes, the victim began to mumble, due to the incoherence of her speech it was difficult to tell exactly what she was saying, fortunately, due to the help of a team of linguists, certain phrases and words were able to be deciphered with about ninety percent certainty… ‘…worms crawling, need to get them…maybe come out…Jesus, what?… don’t look at me like that…don’t f__king look at me like that…god…god, no…’

Katie’s worried parents stared on at her, through the one way glass. Horror on their aged faces. “Katie, poor Katie.”
“Maybe…maybe it would be better if we just let her...just let her…”
“Don’t talk like that Peter, that girl isn’t our Katie, what we see in there is Katie’s illness. One day we’ll all be together again…like it used to be.” The conversation was only continued by furtive glances towards each other.

…Katie, Katie, it’s Charlie, your friend Charlie…

This is a nightmare

…big cream pie…

But I’m awake

…yummy, yum, yum, a big cream pie…

Why won’t they let me die?

Can’t they understand what’s going on in here?

…big pie, maybe some icecream too? Icecream?

…don’t worry Charlie I’ll get icecream…

…guys?I’m the icecream man wouldn’t it make sense for me to get the icecream?…

…you get the balloons, I’ll get the icecream soon…

…have we got her a cake? Someone needs to get cake…

…no, no, no sillybilly don’t get a cake, we’ll just eat away at her mind…

…yum, yum, yum…mind…

“Leave me…please…please…please…please…please.”

From The Katie Sheen Study – Night Two
“…and in saying that I feel that these nightmares, these terrifying images could well have contributed if not, been completely responsible for the subject’s suicidal tendencies…”

Katie’s Mind
Why wont it stop there is something very wrong look at this room such an ugly room yucky white paint big crack in the corner they’re not exactly holding me in luxury why did they have to stop me I could have been not if they had just let me finish saved me? Doing me a favour? I don’t think so, I’ve got nothing to live for, they think that I’m sick? I’m not sick this whole world’s sick maybe I am sick nobody else has these nightmares to make it worse I have to check everything fifteen times why? Just stop I cant just stop no definitely not can’t ever make it go away it’s never gonna stop cause its to far away I’ve fallen too far far too far away all the away down now all the way away now

“Poor Katie, my little baby what happened to you?”

In the next room: cell 13-2 Involuntary Admission – Ernie’s thoughts
better check my fly look at fly fly alright one two three four five six seven eight nine ten fly check fine one two three four five six seven eight nine ten fly check one two three four five six seven eight nine ten look at fly its fine one two three four five six seven eight nine ten look at fly one two three four five six seven eight ten fly fine don’t want to break it don’t pull it two hard have to make sure it’s okay one two three four five six seven eight nine ten fly check fine don’t need to worry fly fine fly fine fly fiiine look away look back fly fine…

The next room after that: 13-3 Involuntary Admission - Rachelle’s thoughts
What if they look at me always watching never ceasing got to look out got to go somewhere they wont get me they’ll get me lock the doors lock the doors they’re coming alright it’s safe now door locked no one can touch me safe what am I going to eat don’t know what to eat can’t go and buy any food can’t buy any food food food safe here friends will bring something round maybe if they know I’m here maybe they don’t know what am I thinking I’m not sure why do all the spies want to look at me? Fbi coverup trying to look at the spaceship on my lawn under the tree they won’t find it I promised the alien that I wouldn’t tell anyone just our secret he said take you to their nice planet he said I wonder if he will of course he will his planet no more hurt or pain not on their planet no sirree not on their planet away with that now away away now

Paint the golden trees with blood.

The Meeting of Facility Executives

“So, in conclusion, to continue receiving state funding we need to increase our workload by ten percent and we cannot afford to get any mud on our hands.”
“This is my families business, it is our duty to all the great Wilkinsons that it stays open, we are independently run, but as some of you may not know we need government funding to survive. Go work. Keep your noses clean. Anybody who’s workload doesn’t increase shall be fired and I mean that.”

Ted Wilkinson stood staring at the portrait of his father that hung ominously above his desk. Looking down on him. “I won’t let you down, dad.” Ted would never admit it to himself but he had come to resent the pressure put on him by surviving family members. “We’re counting on you.”
“You know we own a lot of it, don’t you let it break down. Don’t be the weak link Teddy, be strong, make your father proud,”
“You know a lot of our money is in that institution, you wouldn’t want to be disowned by the family would you?” There was a joking edge to his uncle’s words but he knew all too well from his school days that there was truth behind every joke.

From The Katie Sheen Report – Night 3
“…Katie again began her slumber in relative comfort but yet again this time at two thirty-seven she began convulsing and muttering what this time was completely undecipherable except for the words ‘cherub’ and ‘burning, burning.’”

Eat the silver unicorn.

Katie’s thoughts
Never seen the bye bye go away go away Katie Katie they call why do they call to me like that got to escape this fucked up world nothing is what it seems they don’t believe what they know to be real chains on my wrists on this pain stick big dead pain stick all these dreams can’t die they won’t let me die why won’t they let me die? It’s all so black nothing to live for just this hell I’ve got to escape each day’s one little hole deeper sinking into my little baby footprints nothing by my side no one walking with me no one could follow me this far down.

Kill the dreams all away everyone is going to die. Everything dies. Grandma died, Fluffy died, mum and dad will probably die soon.

…Upwards downwards all the way around and down again…

Nothing is here nothing is here but sin and pain and death and tears and fear and lies and nothing.

…something away and now it’s all gone and I hate myself for pissing it all away…

There was a certain chemical smell to the room, on the east wall there was a little desk bolted to the floor, with a cute pink tin full of different coloured felt tipped pens, the desk was a dark wood, she didn’t know enough about the subject of wood to correctly state what it was, pine, perhaps? No, pine was a lighter coloured wood she thought to herself, her teddy bear lay next to her on the cushiony white metal bed with the shiny new button eyes that mummy had sown on, the limbs hung limply from the torso having been cuddled and held for so long by Katie. She noticed the blood stains on the forehead that mummy had scrubbed and scrubbed at but couldn’t quite remove. Katie’s wrists hurt like flaming torches had been held to her wrists. There was a faint blue mark on both of them from the constant pressure that the handcuffs applied. They used to put them on looser than this but once she pulled out her left hand and reached up to her ear and stuck her finger in as far as she could and tried to scratch out her little brain. Now they were painfully tight. The only time that they took them off was bath time, and then there was an intern watching her and helping her wash her young little body. She didn’t think he was really allowed to do that, but she didn’t say anything for fear of being hurt.

…once Harry touched you in the yucky spot didn’t he?…

no.

…once he took off his funny pants and pulled out his big white cock didn’t he?…

no.

…didn’t he?…

maybe.

…he made you suck it didn’t he?…

yes.

Katie disliked bath time a little bit less than the rest of her life, especially now that she had a plan, a special plan.
“Mr Intern man?”
“Yes, Katie, what do you want?” Harry’s eyes looked into hers intently although she knew that he had been studying her fresh, high, young breasts, and her tight virginal cunt. “Can you help me wash my back?” Her big brown eyes stared up at him imploring him to. “Sure Katie, his hands eagerly started rubbing her young, lean back, rubbing the suds around and around into the skin, into her flesh. “Can you wash my front now, Harry?” Harry felt a brief but powerful surge of morality urging him to see it for what it was, improper, sleazy and unprofessional, but that soon passed. He put his hands on her young breasts, kneading them, they were neat, ripe handfuls. He proceeded to run the tips of his fingers over them, feeling the petite young bumps on the nipples. She was a pretty little thing, gorgeous some might say. Katie’s desperation took over, “Get me out of here Harry, and I’ll do anything for you, anything.”
“Anything?”
“Anything.”

She felt so dirty so used so…at least she was getting out of here finally. Thank God, he was going to sneak her out at midnight. Maybe it was worth it. Harry didn’t ever come to free her. He just kept his big goofy grin, and never said anything more. She couldn’t do anything they wouldn’t believe her over an intern. How dare he steal away her virginity without paying. He would pay. He must. He had stolen her innocence and fucked her little body for all it was worth. She was broken. He lied to her. How dare he.

She didn’t want to close her eyes, all she could see was pain, she didn’t sleep for two days, then awoke after sleeping for twenty-nine hours again, she had had the nightmares again. She knew it, she knew they knew it from the machines and they knew that she knew that they knew from the machines. The nasty pain machines.

Ted had been a close friend of Harry for some time now, and the two would often, as they were on this occasion, share a whisky and a cigar together, or several, into the late hours of the night. Then Barney would go back to his modest house that contained his loving family, and Harry would go to his big, cold empty king size bed and wallow like a pig in his own emotional mud.

The cleaner sanitised Katie’s cell twice a week, she found him to be the most interesting person in the whole place. For the fifteen minutes that he was in her room, they would talk about life, about baseball, about nothing. Nobody talked to her about nothing anymore, now it was always about feelings, about her life, about her counselling, about her pills. Occasionally it was refreshing just to forget about her existence and talk about nothing.

From The Joyeton Times 13/2/00
“…we’ve come up here every week, as a family for the past ten years, but never caught a fish this size, no sirree not this size…”

The Joyeton Bakery was alive with the wonderful smells of all varieties of breads, and Mrs Pumpernickel was in a good mood. Apperently her son Ernie was responding well to treatment and would be better soon. She’d make him a big scrummy pie and they’d eat it like a family, Howard would take time off work and they’d have a good old fashioned picnic. She smiled at these thoughts and kneaded another ball of dough. The other Mrs Pumpernickel, her daughter in law, was also excited about Ernie’s release. Although she had convinced herself that admitting him was the right thing to do, she still questioned the decision, but she tried not to let thoughts such as these undermine her good mood.

Rachelle’s pet dog, Sammy waited impatiently for lunch it was a bit chilly in this kennel, she was looking forward to ending this confusing business and returning to the nice warm fire in her masters home and giving her master a big lick. Why was she here? Bark, bark.

Katie dreaded bathtime now because that was when Harry would molest her. He didn’t wait for permission any longer, he simply undressed her and had his foul way. She was so sore afterward. She began to neglect her appearance, here normally neat braids became a mass of tangled hair, she went for days without grooming herself in anyway. It made her look even sicker. They weren’t going to let her out anytime soon.

Ernie’s Thoughts
Hooray I finally get to go home I’m so glad I’m feeling better don’t need to check as much, getting better, one, two three, getting better, one, two, three, I can finally go.

From The Katie Sheen Report - night 52
Katie slept uneasily from the start tossing, turning she eventually sat bolt upright, getting out of bed and proceeding to hit her head against the wall, signs of adolescent dementure.

The light played on the old baker’s hands as she proceeded to contort the dough in different ways. The smell of flour seeped into her nostrils it was a homely smell that, frankly enough reminded her of, well, home. She thought of her ageing mother, seventy-six years old now. Seventy-six, time seems to move so very quickly.

Katie looked all around her, crazy people, crazy.

Christmas trees eat all the ingredients for the Sadness Chocolate.

Six tall men,
Take the corners of the light,
And tear it in sixtieths,
Then by three different widths the length make strips of the widest edge,

…trees and lies, trees and lies…

There she was, the only thing between her and insanity was the thin thread that was the hope of revenge. Revenge, how wonderful it would be. Harry would pay.

..something inside, away again the night is black with pain…

…choose the lion over the leopard it won’t win when the sadness rises cause the truth is away for tea, a funny clown tea…

…to only know away from this the shit in the pan hits the big funny wuzzy bam bam pan…

…eat the cow away then uneat again and spawn it whole…

…eat the cheese, don’t eat the cheese maybe maybe not, sadness…

…feel it away when the man comes…

…all the time you’ve wasted will wreck you…

Will you go away soon? Sometimes in the funny place everything will fly away like a big pie eat the pie nobody’s fine everything is said to whomever is there it the leaves in the china doll’s mouth.

…Katie, Katie, you are dirty…

…so dirty…

…funny clown, funny ha ha lamp on head clown…

…hah hah hah hah hah you are a silly lamp girl…

…eat the pie then uneat it like the big cow in the funny man cheese to be the…

…like the away place that mr and mrs sadness forever preserved…

(vendor in the tennis shoe game)

no.

(turn it away)

yukky.

(yukky)

(two fold yukky)

choose the chains who choose the pain who eat the man who hurt the lies who make it so who know it’s so cause it looks so stupid and it all just fades away…

you like it we choose it and it all just falls apart

and it breaks

and eventually it will die

just die

…I’m a big monster…

…boo!…

…ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ah ha ha ah ha ha ah h ha ha ah ah ah ha ha ah ah ah h ahha ha ha ah ha ah ha ha ha ha hah ah ha haha ah haah ahah haah ha hh aha ahha ah ah ahh ah h ah ha haahah ah ha ha ah ayh ha ha ha ha ah ha ah ha ha ha ah ha ah ah ah ha ha hhahaahhaahhhhh haah ah ahah ah ah ah ah ha h a h a h a h a h a h a ha ah ahahahaha…

Pigs for everyone.

…I’m Joe Jolly and I’m going to ruin your life…

…just leave it to me…

From The Katie Sheen Report pages 42 sections 46 thru 48

“The subject is a classic example of schizophrenia, aural disturbances, inability to sleep…textbook schizophrenia.”

Katie’s mind
…I’m gonna climb the ladder all the way down…the father of lies is going to be real happy. One more assignment and I’ll be made an Unsaint. Post Humerus, everything down here is post humerus…one more suicide on the books and I’ll be there…guess what Katie? You’re it.

…psst, god is dead…

…I’ll show you his face…

I don’t want to see it.

…don’t you want to see god boy?…

No.

…I’ll show you god boy, he’s down with the vultures…

I hate it I hate it I hate it this can’t be real what about salvation but I know it’s him he said the he rose again he said that he came alive again that can’t be him but it is but god said it would all be okay god said it would all be fine but the good book said…

…but the good book said, wah wah wah wah…

…don’t you see? It’s all one big lie…

Don’t you see? Can’t you see that the reason this world is so fucking broken is because there is no god? It’s a fairytale it’s all one big fairytale. Impossible terror as I realise the futility of everything.

Katie killed herself, everybody else died. Then came the nothing time. Joe Jolly got his promotion. The world ended.

I’m sorry.










































































Katie died, Rachelle died, Sammy died, both the Mrs Pumpernickels died, Ernie died, all of their parents died, Howard died, Harry died, Barney died. Everybody died. Nothing really changes anything. Everything dies sooner or later.



















Wake me from this dream by Tamara
Life has always had its little mistakes, people hate each other for reasons that are callow and unethical, children kill their friends and enemies because of hatred in their hearts and others just suck the life out of the world in their own quiet little ways. There are the people that grow up never knowing pain, the ones that make other peoples lives a living hell. They get up and go to church every Sunday praying for a better world around them so their children will grow up in a better world. This is exactly why I decided to write this story to try to explain what happens after you make the mistakes in life and then die, how when the dust settles and you can see clearly the world around you for what it reallly is: A meat market. Enjoy.



Sarah Anne Miller grew up in a life she never wanted she had great parents, wonderful friends and even better enimies. Still she always felt like the world wanted her to suffer, she was never happy never satisfied with the things she had, some called her selfish and spoiled others just ignored her. Deep down she just wanted to die. So with the darkness in her life and soul Sarah took the plunge most people her age never dared to take, she stepped out infront of a moving truck and let it strike her down. She held on for two days in the county hospital before finally letting go and passing on, she got exactly what she had always expected no heaven, no hell, no hope. You wandered the earth forever, no none would hold your hand, you only saw what you could understand, could except and went on knowing you made the mistakes you made in life and dealing as you made your way searching for that one thing you'd never find: salvation. Sarah often sat on cliffs over looking the beautiful oceans that stretched for miles contamplating her life, enjoying her solitude. She had no friends here and no family the dead ignored the ones that had taken their own lives, even in death you'd think that the dead would rest and be peaceful what a joke that was. They fought over everything. From why they had to be reincarnated in bodies they disliked or why they had to watch over that troubled teen or that challenged boy they were never happy. Sarah kept to herself and minded her buisness, she sometimes wondered if maybe she was dreaming and if she tapped her feet together and chanted "There's no place like home...there's no place like home...." she'd wake up in her bed. But there was no one there to wake her from this dream as much as she wanted to be at times she'd have to live with the mistakes she'd made, and the consequences that came. Plus Sarah wasn't Dorthy, she didn't wear a retarted plaid jumper and she didn't like dogs, she was a cat person. The day came when Sarah was asked to be reincarnated she shrugged "Why not? it's not like being dead has all the perks, you guys can't even vote". The man who was basically her old guardian angel Eric was his name frowned at her, folded his arms across his chest and huffed "Don't get smart this is to teach you a lesson, although when you go back you will have no memory of killing yourself you will know who you were until the age of 5 then the memory will fade and you not repaet the same mistake again". "I was hit by a truck" she muttered. "no, you jumped on front of it now go you're to be given life now" Eric smiled "and good luck".
Part two to come soon if you think I should finish.
Cobalt by N. Williams
I put a hand inside my chest,
And pulled silk over my eyes,
To see beauty rise from opalescent fields,
Like the mist from running waters.

I pulled a tattered vision from behind my ear,
And sparked a spiraling rise-
Or fall-
Without real thought for the future.

I buried my face in pride to come,
Pushing on,
And in,
But never out.

Yet when the smoke cleared,
And the ashes stopped falling,
The last man standing,
Was the weakest of all.

Bozo in Sadland Part 3 [Section 1]: Fun for the Children by James Happyman

1

The night was cold, so cold that any sane man would be snug in bed, his radio cackling away in a strangely comforting manner, his hot water bottle warming his curling toes. But Bozo was no sane man, and he was certainly not in bed. He was prowling the streets, his hands stuck deep in his pockets, his legs jittering with a kind of nervous energy that he had never felt before. It was like they were on fire; his veins were roaring rivers of hot, bubbling blood, his flesh rippling with goosebumps. He had just gone and made the circus master funny! Yes, he had made him pay for making Bozo leave the circus, and that was just swell. But Bozo was not satisfied yet – he knew that there were some other things that he had to do before he could truly say to himself that he had taken full advantage of the immortality some unknown force had granted him. Some other funny things, that would make him smile, would make him laugh. But most of all, make other people cry. And that was the best comedy of all, wasn’t it Bozo? Wasn’t it Bozo?

2

He literally slept the night in a ditch, resting on hard, cold concrete. But his twisted smile never left his face, and when light dawned, it simply widened. It looked like he was at his ninth birthday party, and his best friend had just walked in the door, bearing desirable presents. And things really weren’t that different, were they? After all, every day now seemed like his birthday party, where he could do whatever he wanted. Right now, that meant paying a little visit to the local primary school. It was where he had gone when he was a young ‘un, all those years ago, so he ruminated that it was high time to see how things were going there, you know, just to check up and see that everything was alright. Nothing else.
The pleasant thought swam around his head like sweet alcohol. It was enough to motivate him to get out of the ditch, and on his un-life.

3

People seemed to be looking at him weirdly. As if he wasn’t a funny clown after all. But Bozo knew that this wasn’t true – if there was any time in his life where he was truly a funny clown, well, it was now. And after today’s little exploits, he would be even funnier, that was for sure.
He padded down the street, looking around at all the silly people, and impulsively looked down at what he was wearing. He had to admit that it was not a pretty sight; his white shirt was smeared with thick ichor, his pants ruffled and torn in two places. He postulated that his hair was also a mess: his face would surely be no better. But that didn’t really matter…except all the people were looking at him! Everyone was staring at Bozo…just like at the circus! Yes…and that was good, Bozo liked people watching him, so maybe this wasn’t so bad at all: maybe it was a good thing that he was finally getting some attention. He certainly deserved some.
He reached the side street that led to the school. It was called ‘Pure Valley Primary School’. Bozo couldn’t help but stifle a maniacal chortle under his breath as he muttered the title over and over to himself. Yes, Bozo had turned out pretty pure, that was for sure. Now it was time to repay all those great teachers and children, even though he probably knew none of them. But it was the principal of the matter: yes, the principal, not the facts. The facts were just there to rationalise the hard-to-rationalise, and Bozo was definitely hard-to-rationalise. Well, for most people anyway.
He rounded the corner and smoothed back his hair. He had to look a little presentable. Just so all the kiddies wouldn’t run away from him and call him a monster…no, he wouldn’t like that at all, in fact, that might make him get angry, and then people would have to pay. But that was all for later. He couldn’t let himself get too excited about the present.
Bozo reached the gate. It was a simple, green-painted iron affair, and he negotiated it with ease. It was almost as if the school was ushering him in, asking him to grace their grounds with his magnificent presence. It was good to see, and it brought some gladness to his blackening heart.
In front of him was a huge oval, with a section of asphalt to the left. He could spy a few children there – they seemed to be playing basketball, or at least some sort of game with a ball. Bozo could remember how he had used to love playing ball games, but now he liked to play games with other round objects, just like the circus master’s head, which he had severed from his body and bounced around for a while until the joke had got boring.
He returned his vision to the panorama in front of him. Beyond the oval was a huge, ugly concrete block: this was where all of the classes were held. How touching. It was there that little minds were moulded, and in some cases, broken. But they were not broken enough, and that is where Bozo stepped in. It was only his duty, really. Nothing out of the ordinary.
But first things first: he walked over to the children. There were three girls, all blond hair, smiles and angel skin, and one boy, who looked like he had lost his way, but nevertheless enjoyed the odyssey. His brown hair bobbed up and down in the sun that was just starting to hit its straps. Bozo approached him with measured, non-threatening strides, all too aware of his alarming appearance.
“Hello little child,” he chided, pouring syrup all over his smile.
The boy looked at the girls for a moment, then re-directed his gaze to the fallen clown. His eyes were sharp, but clouded with uncertainty. He scratched his left ear.
“Um, mister, mummy says not to talk to strangers.” His voice was agonisingly sweet.
“Ah, but I am no stranger,” Bozo countered, “For I am your friend. I am a clown, and I can make you laugh.”
“Oh, I like clowns,” the boy said, his expression brightening somewhat, “And daddy says clowns are good for the heart. Because they make you laugh, and that makes you happy, and daddy says that being happy is good for the heart.”
“Yes, Bozo is good for your heart. Very good.”
Then, with one quick, frightening movement, he snatched the boy by the front of his green jumper and began the unspeakable horror.











The War of the Kingdoms by Pezz
The boy walked around, not taking a liking to what he saw. There was not a sign of life anywhere. THe place where a flourishing town had once stood, was now bare and fruitless. The ground bore no plants, not even grass. There wasn't even a scrap of metal or a pile of rubble that could lead him to believe the city had been destroyed, or blown up.
"Hello?" He called out, not expecting to get an answer from anyone, there was no one around. There wasn't even a place for someone to hide. "Is anyone out there?" He called; finding himself almost too discouraged to yell.
A sudden wind from behind him made the boy turn around, violently. He came face to face with something he thought he'd only see in a movie. A large cap with lots of tiny gills was attached to a large, plump stalk followed by a flattened out base. The creature that stood before him was a mushroom. A giant Mushroom. THe boy blinked. At first, he thought it was some king of costume, but when a flaky crust from the tan stalk flaked off and glided to the dusty ground, the boy turned and ran.
The boy ran until he couldn't run anymore. His feet couldn't carry him further. His voice rasped as he yelled, "Is this some sort of sick joke?" He didn't know to whom he was yelling, he just had a felling that, whoever was responsible for this, was listening and watching.
After the boy caught his breath again, he stood up and looked around. The shroom that had scared him wasn't around. He walked a few feet, and then felt the same gust of whind behind him. He turned, slowly, expecting to see the shroom that had been there before. Instead, his eyes came upon a beautiful green, almost translucent creature. A long, whip-like tail came out of it's back, it's flagella. One dark eyespot was the only way to determine which end was front and back. Small, greaan chloroplasts filled the creature. THe boy didn't run. Something about the way the green creature's chloroplasts moved about inside of it intrigued the boy. He stared at it; not realizeng that it's flagella had slowly wrapped itself around his neck.
It wasn't until he felthis air suddenly cut off by the flagella around his neck, did he realize it was there. He tried to scream for help, but the flagella was choking him, not letting air into his lungs. His fingernails dug into the flagella and tried to pry it away from his neck, but nothing worked. When it seemed that all hope was gone for him, he gave up. Dizziness was upon him, and soon everything around him became blurred.
A loud smack almost scared him, if he hadn't been hal-asleep. THe flagella suddenly let go, and he fell to ther ground, not able to move. "Are you okay?" Came a girl's voice. Light taps on his shoulder made him sense that everything was all right. Before he blacked out, his eyes met with those of a girl his own age.

The boy slowly opened his eyes. HIs head was throbbing, and his neck seemed to be bruised somewhat.
"Ah, you're awake." Came the girl's voice again. The boy sat up and looked around. The girl was sitting in a comprimisable chair made from what seemed to be a layer of translucent skin.
"What...what happened?" The boy stammered, trying to ignore the pain he felt in his neck.
"Oh, a dumb little Euglena thought that he'd have you for his breakfast." Lucky I was there to teach him a lesson." The girl smiled and stood up.
"A Euglena? What's that?"
"It's from the Kingdom Protista. Its cousins are the Amoeba and the Paramecium. From the look of things, you're lucky I got there when I did or else that little Euglena would have swooped you into it's Reservoir."
"Reservoir?"
"It's like it's mouth."
"Oh." The boy tried to get up, but fell to his knees with a sudden jolt of pain that came from his back.
The girl ran to his side and helped him back to the small bunk, made from the same translucent skin the chair was made from. "You shouldn't walk." She said, gently setting him down.
"How did...where did those things come from?" The boy asked.
"Well, I hate to admit it, but my father made them. Actually, I should say Mother Nature made them, my father just improved them, if that's waht you want to call it. He made them so that everytime they ate something, they'd get bigger. It was an easier way to test them. He was going to have them die whent they got bigger than a small dog, but they killed him before he had time to tell anyone about hsi experiment." The girl looked sadly down at her lap. "I've tried to kill as amny as I can, but my father didn't know how many he had infected with the drug, and they destroyed the whole city."
"They ate it?"
"Yeah."
"Well, I saw this one thing. It looked like a mushroom, jsut huge!" The boy frowned; he wasn't sure if the girl would know what he was talking about.
"A mushroom? Oh no,. His drug must have spread to the Fungi Kingdom too! What's next? Monera?"
"Ma, what?"
"Monera. It's the kingdom that has viruses and bacteria. Man, if those things got big, the whole world would be in fot it."
"Where did those things go?"
"Probably to a different city, to eat that too."
"Well, if they ate the city, where are we?"
"Underground. It's the only safe place there is."
A sudden rumble made the boy and girl jump off their seats. The boy winced and struggled to remain standing. When he thought he was going to fall over, the girl grabbed his elbow and helped him stand. They smiled at each other, and then looked int he direction of the rumbling.
THe wall to the room that the girl had brought the boy in suddenly cracked. When is tumbled down, a large fruiting body of a fungus came out. It moved into the room. It opened and a million tiny black spores came floating out. The spores stuck onto the walls and suddenly, there were maybe twenty or thirty other fungi structures sprouted and reaching towards the two kids.
"We should run." The boy suggested, taking the girl's hand and running towards the door.
"Where do we go?"
"I don't know, but your underground room isn't safe anymoe!" He screamed back to her.
"But..." She was cut off by a loud clashing sound coming fast from behind . They looked back and saw a large, metallic creature, jumping and landing towards them. "It's a virus!" The girl screamed.
"How do you know?"
"It's inner core, it's made of nucleic acids, and it's outer core is protein! It looks like a robot!" The girl screamed as the virus jumped and stuck it's inner core towards her.
The boy looked back at the terrifying sight. He grabbed the girl's hand hard, and flung her in front of him out of pure first reactions. The virus's long inner core stuck into the boy's side and the two creatures fell to the ground.
"No!" The boy heard the girl yell.
"Keep running!" THe boy struggled to get his demand out. A totally new pain he had never felt before took him over. He was totally paralyzed. It was like, something was bieng pumped into him.
Alas, the dear young boy was falling victim to the virus. As the virus invaded the boy's body with it's DNA, the boy looked up. The girl hadn't made it far for desperately trying to get away from the virus that held her down.
Amazingly, as suddenyl as the viruses had come, they left, leaving the two lying on the ground. In a few hours, the pain was over, and the two of them got up and ran to each other. "What happened?" The boy asked.
"I...I think the virus has infected us." The girl said.
"Infected us? But...but that means we'll..."
"I know, but there's nothing we can do." The girl sighed. All hope was lost for the two kids.
"No, there is something we can do. We can keep these viruses from becoming big like the others." The boy said.
"How/"
"The boy just looked at her. "Oh." She said, not liking his idea, but knew that it was the only way.
"Come with me. I know how to do it." The boy took the girl's hand and led her for almost an half hour to a large drop off that many people had tried to jump across before to only not make it and fall to their death.
"I'm scared." The girl whispered.
The boy didn't hear her. Something inside of him seemed to be making him dizzy.
The girl took his hand, bringing him back to his senses. "It's now or never." She whispered. The boy nodded. They held on to each other's hands as the two brave, infected kids, jumped off the edge. They fell through endless space and would have been killed by the impact of them hitting the ground, but the fall alone was enough to do the job.
Once again, the Monera had killed. The two kids didn't know it at the time, but they had been the last two animals alive on earth. The animal kingdom had been totally wiped out by the three giant kingdoms. The plants would be killed in months to come, and soon, the giant three would turn on themselves, and the earth would end up a bare, and fruitless planet.
The Quest of Sir Cavinaut by Julie
The Quest of Sir Cavinaut


In a far away land, many centuries ago, there stood alone an enormous castle surrounded by forest on all sides save one whereupon it faced a long stretch of rolling hills. On this day, a sweet tune resounded throughout the castle walls. It began slowly and gradually quickened until everyone in the courtyard was dancing merrily. This was the celebrated day upon which the prince turned eighteen. People from all over the country had traveled to participate in this joyous occasion. It seemed as though everyone felt exhilaratingly cheerful, everyone except for the prince. After one sweeping glance over the crowd he was assured that the one he sought was not present. For a moment, the prince appeared despondent; however, knowing that this was to be a delightful occasion, he quickly masked his chagrin and continued smiling while chatting gaily.
“I do say that the young princess of Nairoma will soon be sixteen,” a voice said. Realizing what he had just heard, the prince kindly excused himself from the group of women and followed the peddler talking to King Augustus.
“...Yes, she is quite lovely. I happened to catch a glimpse of her before leaving Nairoma. ’Tis a shame that she must live under King Draquma’s supervision,” said the peddler.
“Is it true,” inquired the king, “that King Draquma is a sorcerer? An evil sorcerer? His voice had lowered confidentially. “You of all people would be certain of the truth.”
The peddler was silent for a moment. Then, without raising his eyes, he said softly, “I know that the princess, as an infant, was said to have been given to him. I am certain that she was stolen, but her parents have been dead for fifteen years.” He looked up at the king. “King Draquma had barred his castle from all outside his kingdom. He plans on her sixteenth birthday to make the lovely Princess Naricca a - witch!”
The king regarded the peddler, his face expressionless. In his mind, he was turning over the issue which had just been presented to him. To allow Draquma to succeed, if indeed this was his plan, would be disastrous for the princess and for his own kingdom Shismaron. Something had to be done to stop Draquma quickly, for Princess Naricca would soon be sixteen.
Meanwhile, the prince had been casually loitering nearby chatting with passersby, but his keen sense of hearing had not missed a word of the peddler’s conversation with the king. Silently, he pondered his options and decided that he must speak to Sir Cavinaut.
The greatest knight in Castle Shismaron was also Prince Laiyon’s closest comrade and most skilled instructor. This noble knight Sir Cavinaut had graciously undertaken the task of training the prince in the fundamentals of jousting, fighting, and other areas of knighthood. As a result, the two had formed an impregnable bond. Therefore, when Prince Laiyon requested Sir Cavinaut to meet him in the garden, the knight deduced that something of importance had occurred.

The night air was chill and darkness fell deep in the shadows. Above, the moon gleamed brightly through transparent clouds. Prince Laiyon stood patiently concealed in the shadows awaiting the arrival of his companion.
“The air is cool,” a low voice said.
“Good eve, my friend,” the prince returned. “We have much to discuss.” After a moment of silence he continued. “I am sure you are familiar with the situation in Nairoma. You used to travel to the castle often,” he added.
“Indeed, I did,” the knight assured him.
“Then you must know that Princess Naricca will soon turn sixteen.” Prince Laiyon paused, then lowered his voice. “I have devised a plan-”
“Wait. I understand,” said the knight. “I shall safely bring the princess to Castle Shismaron. I give you m word.” With that, Sir Cavinaut bowed slightly to the prince and disappeared.

Sir Cavinaut’s light-stepping steed sensed the apprehensive disposition of its rider and became eager to reach its unknown destination. After his discussion with Prince Laiyon, Sir Cavinaut had left immediately and had therefore been traveling all night long. He traveled alone since his journey was to last only four days and was concerned a very delicate matter.
On the third day of his expedition, Sir Cavinaut met three knights from Draquma’s kingdom. After a terse, heated exchange, he charged the first knight who fell senseless from the back of his horse. Then, with one sweeping slice of sword, Sir Cavinaut injured both of the other two knights so seriously that they both pleaded for mercy. With an oath to send them to God upon their next encounter, Sir Cavinaut left the knights to nurse their wounds and continued on his journey.
Some time later, Sir Cavinaut reached the Land of the Dragon’s Tongue. It was so called because it was inhabited by a colossal three-headed dragon whose three tongues converged into one flame spouting tongue. Consequently, the dragon was unable to retract its tongue, and it lolled bedraggled down the length of his monstrous frame.
Since the knight was aware of the dangerous area in which he traveled but knew that he hadn’t much time, he decided not to take the winding, longer route taken by most travelers who sought to avoid this precarious land. Instead, Sir Cavinaut guided his horse through the uncharted forests of the Dragon’s Tongue, hoping to avoid contact with the dragon. His efforts were made in vain, however, for as the day waned and darkness began to fall, the knight was suddenly startled by a coarse dragging noise, the sound of the dragon advancing forward.
Upon reaching the edge of the woods, Sir Cavinaut was met by an angry roar and the searing breath from which it poured. Reigning in sharply, the knight wasted no time. He turned his mount and grasping his spear, charged straight for the heart of the mighty beast. Seeing this, the dragon gathered up its tongue, now full of strength, and proceeded to wipe the knight from the back of his horse. However, Sir Cavinaut was well mounted on a trusty, swift steed which sprang nimbly away from the length of the flaming tongue but not before Sir Cavinaut sank his piercing spear into the depths of the dragon’s belly.
With a scream of pain, the dragon wheeled on its hind feet and sent forth a flaming stream of fire against which the knight held his magical, impenetrable shield. This served only to enhance the dragon’s fury and it started clumsily yet rapidly toward the knight, shaking the ground as it drew nearer. Just as the beast drew up its tongue for one great swipe, the burdensome tongue of fire slapped mistakenly across the eyes of the dragon, temporarily blinding the monstrosity. In that brief moment of confusion, Sir Cavinaut flung his spear at the dragon, and being so close, it struck the beast in the left eye. A roaring cry uttered forth from the depths of the dragon, piercing the air. In a raging fury, the dragon began whirling in circles, constantly tripping over its tongue which it cast in all directions seeking only to destroy that which had hindered its senses. Knowing that the dragon was past all means of control and that to remain would mean certain death, Sir Cavinaut sent his mount racing into the hills and to his destination beyond.

The following morning, after only four hours of fitful sleep, the knight cantered up to a massive castle that gave the appearance of being uninhabited. The drawbridge was sealed tightly to the castle walls. Apparently, visitors were not welcome.
“Well, my friend,” spoke the knight to his mount, “I believe we shall summon Merlin and enter the castle according to one of his spells.”
Dismounting, Sir Cavinaut led the horse to a secluded cluster of trees and, using the horse’s body as a cover, looked into the face of his shield and called, “Merlin. Thine assistance is desired.” Instead of hearing an answer, however, the shield became momentarily clouded; then the mist dispersed to reveal a clear picture of a tower inside Castle Nairoma. The scene showed Merlin laboring over a steaming pot according to a voice that was unintelligible through the shield. In a shaded corner of the room stood a lone figure. Looking more closely, the knight was able to distinguish long hair and the folds of a draping dress. Instantly, Sir Cavinaut recognized instinctively the figure of Princess Naricca. With this new information, the knight was stimulated to a greater, newfound strength.
In a loud, booming voice Sir Cavinaut called out to the castle, addressing anyone who dared accept his challenge.
“All within the walls of Castle Nairoma, hear my affirmation. I have come to rescue the beautiful lady who is to be dreadfully converted into a sorceress, an evil witch. If this was indeed to be her fate, which everyone knows to be untrue, then the ceremony - if such it can be called - would not be so secretly kept and I would not have needed to make this journey.” He paused for a moment, then added, “I have come also to free Merlin whom I know to be unfavorably imprisoned in your castle.”
To this a grumbling of voices expressed their surprise, and Sir Cavinaut conceived that many witnessing the ceremony were unaware of the details and scandal involved. He continued, “This is my ultimatum. I will fight the best knight present who is willing to defend such a dishonorable rite. If I lose, then of course, you will be allowed to continue if you so desire; if I win, then both Merlin and the princess shall be released and placed under my protection.”
Sir Cavinaut did not wait long before the drawbridge was lowered and there appeared two knights, one clad in black armor, the other in deep gray. “Since you are such a great knight, fighting the two of us together will not be a difficult feat for you,” said the Gray Knight.
Sir Cavinaut realized what his opponents were attempting to do, but he accepted the challenge wholeheartedly. “Come then, and we shall waste no more air with empty words,” he retorted spiritedly.
The Gray Knight was caught a little by surprise, but he recovered quickly and mumbled something to his companion. Then the Gray Knight moved forward. “The Black Knight shall delay - to give you the advantage, of course,” he said mockingly. This was untrue since after the Gray Knight fought and tired his opponent, the Black Knight could then easily replace him and continue the battle anew. Sir Cavinaut however would have no such relief. Nonetheless, he shifted his lance and prepared for battle.
The two knights charged and Sir Cavinaut pierced the Gray Knight’s armor around the middle. After the second charge, both broke their lances and pulled out their swords. However, to the Gray Knight’s surprise, Sir Cavinaut remained astride his mount. “It will make the fight all the more interesting,” he challenged. It would also help Sir Cavinaut preserve his strength. He was not as fit for battle as he would have liked after days of traveling and fighting and decided that since his opponent was probably not used to crossing swords on horseback, it would make the fight equally unfamiliar for both of them.
After a time which seemed like hours of strenuous fighting, Sir Cavinaut succeeded in knocking the Gray Knight tumbling head first to the ground where he remained unconscious. Before Sir Cavinaut could jump down to examine the knight, he wheeled around to the sound of pounding hooves to see the Black Knight charging toward him. Since his lance lay useless in the ground, Sir Cavinaut gripped his sword tightly and urged his worn mount into a speed now only half as fast as in his previous charge.
Strangely enough, the reduced speed of Sir Cavinaut’s steed served to his advantage. Sir Cavinaut deduced that since the Black Knight’s lance was twice as long as Sir Cavinaut’s sword, he would need to move quickly out of range of the lance but then swing backward swiftly with his sword to make contact. The Black Knight was too eager and had spurred his mount to a speed that made it nearly impossible to strike his opponent, nor had he calculated the differences between himself and Sir Cavinaut’s shorter sword and weariness which actually served to Sir Cavinaut’s advantage if used properly. When the two came within striking distance, Sir Cavinaut’s steed sidestepped lightly, allowing the Black Knight to pass by without a chance at turning. Then Sir Cavinaut quickly spurred his horse after the Black Knight while instantaneously swinging his sword to slash diagonally across the shoulder and neck of his adversary. The Black Knight slumped in the saddle and as his horse slowed, sank to the ground.
Although Sir Cavinaut felt nearly dead with fatigue, he slid from his horse and leading it, walked wearily to the Gray Knight who was just then beginning to recover. Grasping the head of the stunned knight, he proceeded to finish the job as was the custom when he suddenly stopped at the sound of King Draquma’s voice. “If you will spare this knight, I will place all of my sixty other knights under your control,” he offered.
“We have already agreed to the conditions for the victor, but because this knight fought bravely, I shall spare his life and take your sixty knights back to the Kingdom of Shismaron,” Sir Cavinaut answered.

Three days passed and Sir Cavinaut did not meet the princess, nor did he ask about her except to inquire about her comfort and state of health. Merlin appeared after the first day that Sir Cavinaut spent in Nairoma and conjured a formula which would quickly restore Sir Cavinaut’s strength. During this time, the knight was served by a young maiden who frequently inquired about his past. She did not however tell him her name nor anything about her family. She was not overly beautiful and although she often spoke rather unkindly to him, the knight found himself daydreaming about her and eagerly awaiting each of her daily visits. Only Merlin knew of her true identity but he had sworn not to tell.
After a week had passed, Sir Cavinaut decided that it was time to return home. At this point, the maiden walked in with his mid-morning meal.
“It is a lovely day,” he commented. She nodded in agreement.
“Tell me,” he implored. “Of what birth are you?”
She looked up at him with wide eyes, eyes deeply clouded as if with unknown troubles, giving the appearance that there was indeed something hidden within their depths. Smiling slightly, she asked, “For what reason do you ask?”
However, before the knight could respond, an urgent knocking sounded at the door and a messenger called to Sir Cavinaut to come with all haste to the courtyard, for Prince Laiyon was awaiting him.
When Sir Cavinaut arrived in the courtyard, he walked into the midst of a jousting fight. The prince, dressed in black armor, was fighting another knight clad in dark red. Sir Cavinaut was told that the Red Knight did not believe that the black knight was actually Prince Laiyon and had demanded a fee for the black knight’s entrance into the castle. He was promptly refused, however. Feeling insulted at being called a liar, the prince had then challenged him to a fight.
The battle did not last long because the prince was in excellent health and marvelously skilled. Before long, the good skill that he had acquired from constant practice and Sir Cavinaut’s lessons overcame the resistance of the Red Knight. With one powerful rap on the head, the prince sent his opponent sinking to the ground. He then sprang on top of him and proceeded to unlace the knight’s helmet.
“Spare me, please!” the Red Knight pleaded.
“Why?” inquired the prince.
“I am really the Prince of Nairoma. You can ask the king if you like. I have two sisters to guard, so I had to fight you.” Prince Laiyon released him and asked him to present his two sisters.
When the ladies came forward, Prince Laiyon asked in a shocked voice, “There are two princesses? I don’t understand.”
The Prince of Nairoma explained that the real Black Knight whom Sir Cavinaut had unintentionally killed a week ago had been deeply in love with his other sister Princess Salaraea. Because of her royal birth, however, he knew that he would never be permitted to marry her. Deciding that no one would have her since he could not, the knight cast an evil spell over the princess and all of Nairoma that hid her beauty and made the kingdom a dismal, dreary place. The spell could only be broken by the death of the knight, and the kingdom would return to normal following the marriage of Princess Salaraea.
“Prince Laiyon had not taken his eyes from Princess Salaraea’s penetrating gaze since the moment they were introduced, and they both fell simultaneously in love.
“I shall forever be indebted to you and your knight for freeing me from that dreadful spell,” she said softly.
The prince moved closer and said, “I have only one request to ask of you. May I have your hand in marriage?”
The princess blushed and after accepting, a cheer arose from the villagers, and they began the preparations for the wedding.
During this time, Princess Naricca had stood silently, patiently waiting to address Sir Cavinaut. Moving forward, the knight bowed and, taking her hand, kissed it gently.
“I, too, shall be forever grateful to you for saving my sister and me,” she said.
Sir Cavinaut had not yet met her gaze and responded, “Your beauty blinds me and I am ashamed. I am sorry but I have only to ask for the maiden who cared for me. I am in love with her; yet I do not even know her name.”
At that point, he raised his head and looked deeply into the princess’s eyes. Suddenly, his heart jumped. The princess knew that he was now aware of her identity and she said, “I am indeed the maiden of whom you speak. I have just now been informed of your distant relation to King Arthur and therefore, noble birth.”
Words were no longer necessary. Sir Cavinaut pledged his undying love for Princess Naricca and received hers in return. They decided that they would be wed when the princess turned eighteen years old. For the next two years then, Sir Cavinaut went on numerous journeys and was permitted to see the princess only six times. In this way, their love would grow and develop into true love, a love that would last for eternity.

A Turning Point by Elizabeth Pellett

Sometimes I feel the bad turning points in my life out number the good turning points. But I guess everyone feels that way once and a while. Turning points in my life that stands out and made me think would have to be the night I decided to drink alcohol. That night was a night I shall never forget. This night has made me change the way I feel about alcohol.
The day started off like a normal Saturday I had a cross-country meet. But this meet took a lot out of me. It was a hot day and my body couldn't handle the heat because I was already dehydrated. At the end of my race I fainted and had an asthmatic attack. I recovered somewhat, but not fully. Later in the afternoon when I should've been drinking fluids and eating I was sitting in the hot sun watching runners get awards for what they had done earlier in the day. Then on the way home again instead of drinking fluids I was playing cards and talking. When I got home was when the night started to go wrong.
When I got home I took a shower and got changed into some more comfortable clothes, and then the phone rang. It was my dad calling from a friend's house to see how I did. I told him, and asked if I could stay the night at a friend's house. He said that I could. But I had other things in mind. I knew that one of my guy friends was having a party, because his parents were out of town and had planed to stay there instead. So after I got off the phone with my dad I waited for my friend, Fish, to come pick me up? His parents were also out of town.
So we sat at his house for awhile. I didn't think that there would be any alcohol at the party so I asked my friend Fish if he had anything to drink in his house. I knew that tonight would be a perfect opportunity to drink. Because I had a place to stay with no parents, and my dad would never find out. So Fish and I went into his liquor cabinet and he pulled out a bottle of Jim Beam. I took a shot of it. It was the worst thing that I have EVER experienced in my life. The smell if it shot up my nose like sharp knives. The taste alone almost made me puke. But for some dumb reason I ended up taking eight more shots of the Jim Beam.
Shortly after we had to go pick up a friend named Todd. I vaguely remember picking him up. At that time the alcohol was starting to kick in. When we got to his house I got out of the car to let him in, since the car Fish was driving was only a two door. They tried to keep me as quiet as possible since his parents were outside. Todd got in the car and then I got back in the car. I don't remember the ride home. But Fish said I was starting to get violent, I kept hitting him in the head. But I do remember getting back to Fish's house. They gave me some bread and told me to sober up. But I took the bread and started to throw it around saying "here ducky, ducky! Eat the goddamn bread!" "You stupid duck I'm going to cook you!" And then I started chasing Todd around the house. But shortly after this I passed out. This is the last thing I honestly remember. I vaguely remember a few things that make little sense but I do fully remember waking up at 3:30am. So now I will fill you in on what really happened from 8:00pm till about 3:30am. I passed out in Fish's house, so Todd and Fish had to help me out to Fish's car.
We were in Belleville and had to stop in New Glarus to pick up Heather at her work. When we got to her work she was just finishing up. But I was complaining that I had to go to the bathroom. So they helped me to the bathroom. I was still somewhat conscience at this time. But when I came out of the bathroom I had to puke so I bent over and started to puke on the grass. After I was done I got up stumbled feel back down and I laid there for awhile and then passed out. Fish and Todd were just staring at me, until Fish saw a cop car coming, so him and Todd picked me up and threw me in some bushes.
Heather was watching from the window laughing. All she saw were my feet sticking out of the bushes and Fish and Todd running for Fish's car. I was told later that by Fish that he kept saying over and over that if I got caught my candy ass would be paying all the fines. Finally when the cop is gone they run over pick me up and throw me in the back seat with Todd. Heather finishes and get in the front. So we were finally on our way to Monticello to get to the party.
We were driving down the highway and I thought that it would be fun to hit Fish in the back of the head. Fish was getting pissed very quickly so Todd got me to stop hitting Fish in the back of the head. But it was then that it was time for me to puke. So I told Fish I had to puke and not even a minute later I puked in the back of his car. Fish pulled over as soon as he could. But it was too late. I began to puke in the back of his car. So he pulled over and let me finish puking in the side of the road. But he has told me later that it didn’t do very much good because I still got a lot in his car. When I finish puking I fall over into Todd's lap. Face down.
We stop at the gas station in Monticello because Fish needed to pick something up. At this time I was still face down in Todd's lap. While Fish was inside an old lady walked by the car and looked at me. It looked really bad from her point of view. She just looked at me, then glared at Todd and looked back at me. Meanwhile Fish sees this and starts to laugh. So finally we get to Justin's. I'm still passed out so Todd gets out and leaves me. The three of them go into Justin's house. When they get into the house everyone asks were I am. They tell them that I'm passed out in Fish's car. So a big crowd of people go outside to get me. They drag me out of the car and I am still unconscience at this time. They put me in the grass and crowd around me because they see a cop driving slowly down the street. So after the cop goes by the four guys pick me up. One on an arm or leg. But they leave my head dangling. So when they set me down my head was on Fish's feet. He was already upset with me so he moved his feet and my head went thunk on the ground. They ended up putting me on the floor of Justin's little brother's room.
Justin sent Bethli to go get something for me to puke in, because he didn't want me to puke on the floor. So Bethli brought back a tupawear bowl. I was unconscience when I was puking. Justin, Bethli, and Heather were bringing washcloths to wipe my face off with. Another one of the boys named Shane had just arrived with some alcohol to the party. Meanwhile I was being moved to the bed because I had caught a cold chill. They wanted to get me off the cold floor. Shane heard about me and wanted to see me. He yelled at someone to turn the light on since it was off. He was really upset because my eyes were rolled into the back of my head and they couldn't get me conscience. He was ready to call the ambulance.
He was also very pissed at Fish for letting me drink so much. Which you think about it now it's dumb for anyone to get mad at anyone else except for me. Fish didn't make me drink ANY of it. I did it to myself. He then tried to wake me up and get me conscience. I kind-of woke up. They asked me if I could regonize anyone in the room. I looked at Zach and said "that’s Zach." Then I looked at Kris and said "that's Kris." Then I looked at Barry stopped and turned back to Zach and said "that's Zach." I did that about 8 or 9 times. Shane yelled a little bit then left the room to get drunk. That when I got upset and started to say, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" I said this for over a half an hour straight. The only time I stopped was when I had to puke. While I was still conscience they wanted to try to give me some bread. But I started to choke on it so they stopped. They made me drink lots of water.
Justin stayed by my side the entire time. He completely ditched his party for me to make sure I was going to be okay. After awhile Justin told me to go to sleep and I did. He stayed by my side a little longer then when he was sure I was asleep he left. He checked on me every half-hour, but I was always sleeping. He told me later that a few times when he checked on me I was snoring. But I finally woke up at about 3:30am. I remember waking up in a strange room not knowing what was or what had happened. I got up and went out of the room. I found myself in a living room with beer cans everywhere in the kitchen. I knew I was at Justin's house but that was it.
I went out side because I saw some people out there. I saw two of my friends out talking to each other. I saw Shane yelling at one of our guy friends. Telling him to leave before there's a fight. So he leaves. My two friends ask me how I'm doing and I tell them I'm fine. Just a little loopy still. I ask them what had happened and they start to fill me in on some of the things I had missed. Shane came back into the house and we sat and talked. I went into the kitchen to get some bread. I wanted to completely sober up. When I was in the kitchen Shane came in and he tried to kiss me but I pushed him away. He tried a few more times but then I went by my other friends. I sit next to my friend Meret. She is the only other girl in the house besides me. I ask her were Justin is she told me that he is sleeping in his room with Zach, Kris, and Barry. I try to find him. But since I didn't know his house I sit with Matt, Shane, Aaron, and Meret. But finally Justin comes upstairs because Shane is being so loud. I run to him and give him a big hug and tell him how grateful I am for him helping me. I looked at him and told him "wow it looks like I missed one hell of a party, but I didn't think it was going to be a drinking party." He told me at first it wasn't but then the guys got alcohol and then everyone started to drink alcohol. While we were all talking Meret said that she had better get home because her parents will probably start to worry. We decided that Justin would drive her home since he had only 1 beer and that had been many hours ago. So she said her good-byes and I decided to go with them because I didn't want to be alone with three drunks, horny guys. So we only went 45mph the whole way to and from Meret's. On the car ride Justin started to fill me in one exactly what happened. Because at that time I still had no idea how I got to Monticello. He sort-of chewed me out for drinking so much, and for scaring the shit out of him. He told me that he was really disappointed in me. He told me that what I did he would expect from someone else, but not me. At that moment I knew that I had let all my friends and myself down. I admit that I've drank before, but I've never drank to the point were I don't remember approximately 7 to 8 hours of the night. When we had gotten back to the house Justin said he had to get some sleep, because it was 4:30am and he had to work 11-7 the next day. So he went into his parents room and I followed because I wanted to get away from Shane who was trying very hard to "get some" from me. But he followed Justin and I and then he laid on Justin. So Justin got up and Shane stopped me to talk, so I didn't get to see where Justin went. So I went and laid with Aaron because I knew he wouldn't do anything, even though he was drunk. Plus he passed out shortly after I laid down. I fell asleep shortly after he passed out. I woke up at about 8 am the next morning. Aaron was cuddled up with me. I moved him over and got up. Shane and Matt were passed out on the couches. I got a glass of water because I was very thirsty. Other than that I felt fine. About 10 to 15 minutes later Kris came up from downstairs. We talked a little. He made fun of me for drinking so much. Justin must have heard us because he came out shortly after we started talking. Kris asked him for a shirt to borrow and I asked him to, because mine stunk of puke and alcohol. So I followed Justin and Kris downstairs to Justin's room were he gave me a shirt. Kris said good-bye cause he had to get going and left. Justin went upstairs so I sat downstairs and I got some more of the night that I had missed from Zach and Barry. After awhile we ventured upstairs. We saw that Shane had gotten up and went and laid down next to Aaron. It was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Two guys just in their boxers cuddling with each other. Justin had started to make breakfast. Matt had woken up and got the Sunday paper and started to read it. I thought I'd be nice and help Justin start to clean up. So I started picking up beer cans, skittles, pixie sticks, and cards because these things were scattered everywhere. We just kind-of sat around ate and talked for awhile. Matt started to walk home a little while after he woke up. Then about quarter after 10 Justin woke Shane and Aaron up telling them they had to leave cause he had to get ready and leave for work. Then we left. Justin gave Barry a ride home first since I live in New Glarus and Justin works in New Glarus. Then after he dropped Barry off he went by his house to make sure Shane and Aaron had left, and that Zach's mom had picked him up. No one was there so then Justin took me home. When I got home I was thankful that my dad was on the phone, so I grabbed some clean clothes and took a nice long shower right away. I thought things would be all right but in reality things were just getting started. I forgot to hide my shirt till I was able to wash it. My dad found it smelt the alcohol and puke on it and questioned me. I tried to lie my way out of it, but needless to say it didn't work. My dad ended up finding out about the entire night. He was so mad at me he didn't talk to me for two days. When he did decided to talk to me he told me how I had let him down when he had trusted me and how for the first time he couldn't trust anything that I said. Then he told me that I had a day to turn myself in to the athletic director since I had broken the athletic code. He then told me if I didn't he would. So the next day at school I had to explain to the athletic director and my coach. I had to lie to my coach to protect others. I told him I was the only one drinking just with Fish. I had to sit out an important cross-country meet. To this day I wish I would have been smarter because to this day my dad doesn't fully trust me. But I've learned a lot from that night. Never again will I drink to get drunk. Or even drink to have a good time. Because you don't need alcohol to have a good time. I know now why there's a drinking age; it's because people that are only 16 years old can't handle the responsibility. I was at a birthday party a few weeks ago and my friend had what looked like coffee and I love the smell of coffee. So I took a big sniff of it and all I could smell was the Tequila that she had poured into it. It was so upsetting to my stomach that I ran to the bathroom and puked. To this day I can't stand the thought, site, or smell of hard liquor. I've thought about that night a lot, and what really makes me sad is everyone saw how bad, maybe near alcohol poisoning I was. But yet, everyone still drank. You would think that people would look at me and have decided not to drink. It makes me sad. I hope that anyone who reads this learns that alcohol isn't cool, or fun, it can be downright deadly. If you can remember anything from this essay remember this nothing good EVER comes out of alcohol.

Essay on Friends by lexie duval
Friends can be defined as "one attached to another by affection of esteem." Feiends are people you need to carry on. People that you want to be with, that actually care about you. I am seventeen years old, not very old by many standards, but for some reason I have had a few friend quirks. It seems to me, that the more you try to please, the more everything goes wrong. It also feesl like that when you think you can count on someone they end up ditching you. Magically, someone who you never thought you would ever talk to comes into your life and is there for you when you are in need. My good friends are some, that make me happy, tell be I'm being dumb, have some of the same inerestes, and enjoy being around me. They like me because of who I am and not what they want me to be. Friends don't just give up on you because you are busy with other things, they know you will be there as soon as the merry-go round slows down. They don't just pretend to be nice, thay are. Real friends can go without seeing each othere and be able to pick up where they left. Friends are those who truly care about you.
Bozo in Sadland: Part 2: Yucky Clown Things by James Happyman
Written by James Happyman
Based on a character created by Mark J. Argyle

1

Bozo stepped into the street feeling a sense of powerful impunity surge through him like warm, soothing syrup. With a strange feeling of disconnection, he looked down at where the man had shot him, and could not help but stifle a laugh as he watched the bloody hole heal itself, closing in, smoothing itself over with a fresh patch of skin. Bozo had no idea how any of this was happening, but right now, that didn’t seem to matter terribly much. He was invincible, immortal, and he could do anything he wanted.
The first thing that occurred to him was to get back at that terrible circus-master that had sacked him from the only thing he loved; the dear old circus. He knew where he lived.
Grasping the gun with ferocious intensity, he hurried down the nearby street, a funny clown smile twisting his face.

2

“You know June, I really didn’t want to do it, but I had to, June. God dammit, I had to.”
Having vented his trouble conscience to his somnolent wife, Roger Jennings rolled over, grasping his pillow for some comfort. Finding nothing there, he reached over to his bedside table and grabbed his bottle of whisky. He cradled it gently, as if it were his dear child, and brought it slowly to his lips. He tilted it up a fraction, and let the soothing wildfire course down his dry throat. He swallowed, and repeated the process. Ten minutes later, he was halfway through the bottle and fairly unsure of what his own name was. You see, Roger was only a small little man, and not a very durable drinker – most of the time, three standard drinks and he was down for the count. And he had certainly had more than three standard drinks tonight.
Putting the bottle back onto the table with a looseness that he never exhibited to anyone else but himself, he lay back in bed, his head swimming with irrationalities, nascent fantasies, forbidden thoughts. He looked back over at the plump hulk that was his wife and frowned in honest despair. She was useless, just a used-up hunk of expired human flesh. Her mind was almost gone – fragile at best - and her body was a sad testament to the rigours of time and gravity. She could never satisfy his cravings that seemed to subsume his being every so often, cutting off everything else – responsibility, clemency, tact, morality…
Roger cursed and lay back on his pillow, feeling hot and terribly dissatisfied. He was not an old man yet – fifty-two and counting – surely there was more to life than this?
“There must be,” he mused to the cold darkness, and closed his eyes.
He felt something close around his neck – a pair of large, ungainly, cold hands.
His eyes snapped open, his fingers scrambling to turn the nearby lamp on. But he couldn’t move; the hands were strong, and would not allow any motion that would hinder their intention, which Roger was now realising, was not holy.
“Lie back,” said a hard, blank voice.
Yet he still scrambled, a resolve he didn’t know existed burning within him. Finally, he managed to break free from the left clammy hand, and thrust out his searching fingers, groping around for the light switch. He caught it, and flicked it.
It was Bozo.
He was hovering above him like a phantom from a child’s nightmare – a sad, yucky clown with no smiles for anyone, a sardonic, sadistic smile cramming his face with insanity, specks of blood splattered over his white shirt. And in his pocket was the unmistakable outline of a gun. Bozo saw Roger’s gaze focus on it, and let go of his neck.
“Do you know that this is a gun? Oh, how silly of me, of course you know, after all, you’re quite familiar with them, aren’t you? You used one on my heart when you fired me, fucker!”
Roger’s wife, Helen, was now awake, and screamed as she gazed upon Bozo and the gun that he was now holding in his right hand. She pulled the sheets up to her neck, yelling and yelling, her mouth an agonising O of helplessness.
Bozo looked at her with frosty contempt, and levelled the gun at her forehead. He found that his conscience, and all that he had ever believed – to be good and kind to everyone, all of his morals - were now sitting in the back row of his mind, making way for hostile immediacy. But this was just, wasn’t it? He was just getting back at someone who had destroyed him, wasn’t he? An eye for an eye and all that – even the Bible said that somewhere! And what harm could it do if he hurt someone who dared to love the one who had lead to his downfall? In his mind, they were already dead, so he would just be doing them a favour! Yay! Then everyone would be happy.
Feeling self-righteous and empowered being his darkest dreams, he pulled the trigger and watched with a kind of dreadful fascination as Helen’s head exploded, blood and gore spouting in all directions. Her eyeballs, nose, ears, and portions of her brain all spliced into sickly fragments of mortality. But her head was still on her shoulders! That’s funny! Bozo laughed heartily, patting his stomach.
But he had to finish the job. The screams of her husband echoing in the back of his mind, he fired again, demolishing the bloody remnants of skull, flesh and blood with one jerk of determination. He laughed again, as he saw that now, replacing Helen’s head was white spine, shining in the frugal bedroom light. It should have disgusted him, but it only intensified his merriment. The muscles and veins bunched around it looked like dreadful flowers. Flowers of death which Roger would soon be draped in.
It seemed that Roger had already realised that he would be Bozo’s next subject of mortal concentration, and had scampered off somewhere into the house. Bozo chortled at the prospect of playing some tiggy with his friend. It would all be a great joke, just that, in the end, the one who got tagged would lose…everything.

3

It only took him five minutes to find his charge. He was in one of the kitchen cupboards, his pasty, pinched expression indicative of all-consuming catatonia, his arms wrapped around his legs in an embryonic position. It was sad to see, but in the eyes of Bozo, it was fairly amusing.
“So, here’s little Roger,” he said, smiling, dragging the end of his gun around his mouth slowly, teasingly. His eyes were alight.
“Please, please, please,” stuttered the man pathetically, keeping his gaze fixed straight ahead of him. If he looked at the clown once again, he was sure that he would not be able to face anything, ever again. It was enough that he had witnessed the visceral destruction of his wife; if he was going to die, he didn’t want to be looking into the face of death itself as he did so. That would haunt his soul forever, that he was certain of.
“Oh I’m not going to hurt you,” Bozo said stupidly, his voice low and diffident, “We’re just going to play a little game.
It’s called Funny Clowns.”
Suddenly Bozo grew sick of the charade, and shot Roger six times in the skull. He picked up his thin little body and threw it in the bin.

4

But this was only the beginning for Bozo. He was in control – for the first time in his slow, uneventful life, he was in control. He was the master of himself, and he would make sure that he would do everything that he wanted to do. And if that meant…
No, he restrained the thought.
He brushed himself down, smoothed back the little hair he had left, and trundled down the street into the night, whistling a funny little tune under his breath.




Part 3:
Fun for the children

Coming: 15/3/00

From:
James Happyman

Lunch with Susan by Theo Carlson
Lunch with Susan
By Theo Carlson

“I should think you’d be more charitable during the last minutes of our lives.” I mused with genuine disappointment to Susan as she sat wide-eyed and shaking behind her chamomile tea.

I bit back my rage and ran the fingers of both hands through my hair and locked them together, as best as I could, at the back of my head. Ironically, I looked like a prisoner. I was collecting myself. My attempt to affect a calm, relaxed, demeanor had failed; the evil, violent, malevolence retreated not at all. I could feel it prowling in my belly ready to strike; ready to tear and bite and revenge the thousand torturous cuts received over the last few hours.

I waited for the end.

This morning I discovered that Susan had been having an extra-marital affair for the last six months - with me. I played back every lie she ever had told me in a continuous loop. I tortured my soul with each prevarication until I was nearly senseless. I imagined tearing out my hair and gouging out my eyes. Mentally, I committed mass murder and suicide. My mind was an abyss of chaos and death.

I smiled.

I was curious as to his reaction. What did the other obtuse angle in this triad think?

I asked.

"He doesn’t know," she stammered. "Or, he didn’t when I came here."

He knew. By now, everybody did.

I had joined her in the first booth by the door at the diner we’d been having lunch in lately. She had ordered tea while she waited for me and was sipping daintily from the large blue cup as I sat down. I remember thinking how young and innocent she seemed. She looked like a child who wishes to be taken seriously but can’t because she is drinking from a cup as big as her head.
This thought made tickled the corners of my mouth into a grin. She looked up at me and spoke:

"I’m married," she said. No greeting, no we need to talk, she addressed me as if I were a barfly instead of a lover.

The sound I made must have sounded like a disinterested chuckle, my appreciation of an amusing, if distasteful irony because she looked relieved and slightly smug. The sound I made was, instead, a barely audible grunt that usually precedes the lifting of a steamer trunk or follows a rabbit punch. I marveled at the tempest of emotions that followed from this small release of pressure. They ranged from amusement to despair but the most fitting one was a combination of indignation and rage.

Susan and I were the only patrons save for two old men; two grouchy, complaining, loitering old men with far too much opinion and far too little sense having "Just Coffee" and sharing the newspaper. They commented when appropriate and when not appropriate on the news of the day. It was the same news as every day, poor people starving, women in fear of psychos and rapists on the street, politicos getting rich or getting caught. The opinions that they offered to no one in particular consisted of reading a sentence or a fragment or a word and pronouncing "Humpf!"

I turned my attention from the old men back to Susan. She looked so small and fragile, this insidious serpent; her long slender fingers clasped the mug as though it were a shield. She struggled to speak, to qualify her actions. I wondered why this Judas, who had taken my life, who had called this cozy lunch meeting to inform my that my services were no longer needed, felt the need to explain at all.

My whole body was tense. I set my jaw as if attempting to shatter my teeth against each other. She continued to chatter, but I heard her now as a man underwater. I was busy editing and re-editing the endless loop so that I could begin to mentally flog myself with regret, loss and angst.

"...were such a dear, I was having such a difficult time, and...

CHRIST.

The funny part was that I had come prepared to end it in my own way after lunch. I expected to have a final meal followed by a final excursion to my apartment around the corner; so rejection was not truly the issue. She was taking pleasure in my disappointment. That she could enjoy my rage -- when Tormentor was the role I usually played -- was offensive and doubled my outrage. Discovering that not only this lunch, no, our entire time together had been meticulously planned was more than my arrogant mind could endure.

Martin, the bus boy, waiter, Mater D’ and chef, who demanded his name be pronounces as if it had two "e's", was as cheerful as a man who knew he would live forever. He poured me coffee and made polite, if inane, conversation. He welcomed us back and asked how we’d been. He noted that Sunday was not our usual day and asked if we had any special plans.

"You wouldn’t believe me if I told you," I sniffed, more rudely than I’d intended.

He had the good sense to end the conversation there and ask for our orders. I told him the coffee would be plenty. This response earned me a look that suggested he felt that people who wanted "Just Coffee" should stay home and make it themselves, particularly on a Sunday afternoon and especially if they didn’t want to be chatty with the bus boy, waiter, Mater D’ and chef.

Martin, (Marteen, the voice in my head corrected) was right though; Sunday was not one of our regular days. The invitation to Sunday coffee had alerted me to Susan’s plans, or rather what I thought her plans were. We usually met here for lunch during the week. Lunch and meaningless banter about the day to day excitements since our last rendezvous followed by torrid, almost spiteful sex in my apartment. Then, excepting occasional weekend marathons of depravity, we went to our separate corners. Sunday coffee was never on the program.

Susan had apparently said something that required a response and was sitting patiently waiting for one. Her body language was sympathetic but her eyes dared me to cause a scene. I have never been one to disappoint so I gave her one. I caused a scene of cataclysmic proportions.

"The thing is, Susan," I said, "I had special plans for us for today. I have a surprise and a half for you at my place, a whole day of fun and merriment to celebrate our break-up. I refuse to let you force me to celebrate alone."

Susan rose slowly, a bored CEO at an unproductive meeting. She intended to leave without another word. Public scenes were beneath her. She looked down her nose at me as if to say ‘My business here is concluded’ and told me she had expected a more mature response. I followed her to the door, grabbed her arm just above her elbow and turned her to face me. I placed myself between her and the door and spoke. My voice was a low monotone. I chose each word carefully and annunciated as one would to a child or foreigner.

"This is not how it ends," I threatened. "I have very specific ways of ending a relationship and the formula is explicit: it does not end with the woman storming out of the diner. I’ll show it to you sometime." I let my rage show briefly in my eyes. The look frightened her, I could tell. "Now," in the barely calm voice of a parent at the end of his rope I no more than whispered, "please sit down."

Martin was approaching. I knew then that this would end badly for all involved and I was ready. The anger at the ending drove my rage to a fever pitch. Years of work, thought, and consequence free living were about to be ended by some half-assed Spanish import with ten times more testosterone then brains. It would have been amusing if it was happening to someone else. The knight galloping to the rescue of the fair damsel had no idea what he was in for.

He placed himself between Susan and I. That was when the scene truly started. There was shoving and posturing, threats were made and then it was over. Reason, or at least my reason, had prevailed. Once Marteen understood my position, once my singular purpose had been revealed, he left us quietly with a mildly surprised and quizzical look on his face.

I noticed that the old men had observed my outburst and addressed them: “Sorry for the commotion gentlemen,” I smiled amiably, “Please, continue to enjoy your Post and your ‘Just Coffee’. You won’t hear another word from me. I do ask, however, that you give the lady here and I the courtesy of not staring. I will conduct myself properly and will not disturb you further; please do the same.”

The codgers bent their noses back to their papers as I gently escorted Susan back to our booth. I caught the occasional wary glance in my direction but it is to be expected from old men with nothing to do but gossip. At least they stopped reading aloud from the paper. I supposed they’d finished and would sit here now until tomorrow's paper arrived so that they could continue with their insightful commentary.

Susan looked terribly uncomfortable. She was perspiring lightly and a small bead of sweat glided down the side or her face in front of her ear, over her sharp jaw line and down her neck. Her eyes were red and swollen, she had been crying silently while I spoke with the cronies. She dabbed the corner of her eyes with a paper napkin. I laughed at her alligator tears.

“Careful what you wish for hon.” I continued to smile as I resumed my seat.

“So, enough about me, lets talk about you.” I had a solid plan in my head now and the execution was charmingly simple. “I’ve a few questions about you, hubby and life in general. It’s like ‘To tell the Truth’ - will the real soulless being please stand up? You won the last round so you get to pick our first category.”

“Don’t do this,” Susan pleaded, she was having trouble getting her crying under control. Any more shocks and she would loose it completely.

“Oh, Darlin’, you have no idea how serious I am. This is not a game to me. This is the conclusion of my life’s work and you’re the lucky girl that gets to share it with me.”

“But Martin…”

“Don’t worry Dear, I’ve assured our privacy. Besides, Martin doesn’t care what we discuss anymore, and we’ve ordered all we’re going to order today.

So, tell me about hubby,” I prodded, “Did he fail to measure up? If so how? Or is this a personal thing with you, a vendetta of some kind against him or men or me?”

Susan was openly sobbing now, practically screaming. Gently, I pushed her hair out of her face and stroked her feverish cheek with the back of my hand. I tried to calm her down:

“It’s over Hon, I know it. But it is important to me that I have an understanding of the only woman that saw through me. The only person that chose me because of what I really was and not because of what I told them I was.”

She began to regain some control. She closed her eyes, tipped her head forward as if napping and breathed deeply. She pressed the balls of her hands to her eyes and slid them slowly down her face. They came to a rest just below her chin, her fingers pressed together as if in prayer with her index finger poised at the base of her nose.



She sat that way for two full minutes. The diner had become a crypt by an interstate. The tumult outside seeped through the thick pane of glass with the coherency of a lunatic with a sock in his mouth. This, combined with the persistent ringing, buzzing, throbbing, chaos behind my eyes, made those the longest two minutes anyone should ever be forced to withstand. Susan shattered the silence with her quiet tones. Her words were barely audible but the eye-of-the-hurricane stillness amplified the disturbance.

“I just wanted a little adventure,” she sounded dazed and seemed to speak mainly to herself. “I knew that David, that’s his name you know, David, not only trusted me but would forgive me if I was caught. I planned to have just a short fling, to see what it was like to be a predator, to show myself that I could be dangerous and bitchy and mean.

When we started out you seemed like such an…” Susan looked at me, mildly startled as if she’d just remembered where she was and what she was doing. She decided to choose her next words more carefully. “You seemed like the type of guy who might like a girl like that.”

“I seemed like an arrogant prick in need of being taken down a notch or two. It’s O.K. you’re right. Except, obviously, about being the predator.” I looked directly into her guilty soul through her little girl eyes and paused for effect. “I do like tramps. I do take advantage of lonely women who need to boost their self-esteem. Except for the twist at the end when you decided to break it off with me this is one of my standard issue relationships. Including this little game of ‘To Tell the Truth.’”

The payphone had been ringing incessantly, I suggested to one of the ancients that they should answer it. The old man shuffled to the shrilly shrieking phone and answered. He spoke quietly, shaking his head, yes, no, yes, yes, then came toward my table. He approached with a timidity usually reserved for naughty little boys approaching Santa in the mall.

“It’s for you,” he croaked.

“Who ever it is,” I said, “I don’t choose to speak with them at this time. Go hang up the phone.”

He addled back to the phone, ala Tim Conway, and relayed my message verbatim.

The old man came back without cradling the phone and told me that it was the police and they demanded I speak to them. He was sweating and in tears. This afternoon had been too much for him. He pleaded with me to take the phone call. He said that the police were here to help. I shot the old man for being stupid and irritating. When I did, the same look of surprise came over his face that came over Martin’s when I shot him for interloping that was not needed, wanted, or appropriate.

This, as I had supposed, was more than Susan could bear. She was sputtering and sobbing and swearing. She said that I was a cold hearted, psychopathic, maniac. I slapped her lightly to bring her out of her hysterics. She picked up her tea/shield again and told me that she hoped I rotted in Hell.

I’d thought she would be more charitable in the last minutes of our lives.

I decided to tell her as much.


MS CEO by Ryan Luzader
MS CEO A short Story By Ryan A. Luzader Jr.

Blankly I was staring into the sky as I often do. “Drake,” someone called I heard it but It had yet to register. “Drake!” finally it registered. “What is Sam?” was my reply. “Did you get the reading yet?” I was asked. “Yes, they are right here.” I showed him the screen of my personal processor displaying a bunch of technical stuff related to the pollutants and various gas and particle levels in the air. “Sorry I was spacing off,” was my week defense. “You better stop that Drake. We need to finish this report soon. The CEO is due in a hour and we need to modify the area’s climate to accommodate him.” “Ya, what ever.” Sam started some huge filtration system attached to the back of an enormous Truck.

Every ones moral was low, especially mine sense the latest amendment to the constitution. Bill had just deleted the entire election process and buried what was left of Democracy to a past memory. No one claims to know how he did it but anyone with any sense could see.

After the government forced him to split the various parts of the company he struck Mexico with the deal of a Millennium. He basically bought the entire country. Opened the biggest Think-tank every known and applied every political program that showed any profit to the company on the people. The most shocking was legalizing prostitution and drug use. The Idea was tax the stuff. Well over the duration of 5 or so years the Multi-trillion dollar drug industry was taxed By Mexico Soft (Slang term given to the New Mexican government). After that what everyone had feared happened. He bought the entire Internet. Given Mexico Laws in his control no one could stop him from there. All of the company became operated out of Mexico. Other countries of the world overlooked the feat. A lot of good that was coming out of it for the old Mexico had 1% unemployment. Even severely disabled and blind people were employed in computer related non-physical jobs I could go on and on. Drugs were more in control there then the US (a very Big Client). After just a short time all of Central and Latin America were part of the company, a little later southern America. They all became the new Merged South or MS a Global Nuclear Power. MS started controlling the world’s drug, Internet and sex trade. The U.S. lost its grip on Software and Internet Market as well as a huge entertainment market to MS. First MS took the Porn and independent filmmakers then the big film companies. Hollywood moved too Mexico City. With control of the Internet and entertainment industries no one could go see or do anything in the US with out MS involvement drugs, sex and Internet controlled by the company. Then it was Music no one saw that one coming until it was too late every MP3, CD and Video had the MS logo. He pronounced him self Chief Executive Official (CEO) of Merged Southern Americas (MS) the MS CEO and soon bought out All of Canada. Some think that Japan and a lot of South East Asian Countries were under his control at least indirectly.

How did he get US control? Automated elections. No one can prove it but this stupid Government of ours was charging him with monopolizing the Software and Internet markets but at the same time buying all his products for government use. He had a back door, no one can prove it but how else could he have become president 75% the poles. William H. G. III became the 56th president of the United States of America after several amendments the office of president changed to the Chief Executive Official Like it was in Mexico and South America the name of the countries become the Merged States or MS. Two Full continents all one country’s. The government and economy controlled Directly by One man. Organized crime became non-existent because they had nothing to offer. Prostitution, Drugs, Adult entertainment and Gambling all heavily taxed and controlled by the government.

The good news, because of government regulation Kiddy Porn was impossible to find Drugs were in control theft and missing persons was near emulated due to tagging of individuals at birth with a microchip much like pets were being tracked in Hawaii. The chip posed as a locator, credit card and Identification your whole history of all legal criminals and medical information was recorded. Your locations were tracked and recorded and accessed by MS. Each chip had a corresponding Personal Processor for interacting with the Micro Chip. What you watched where you went what you did was all recorded. The monitors were all disabled persons and all Illegally activity was recorded but Because of some strong protest inadmissible in a court of law. However criminals were easily identified and tracked by police until Illegal activity was properly recorded on video the only way to convict anyone of any crime anymore.

Every computer was interconnected everywhere weather you wanted it or not. No more wires. N. Tesla wireless power was possible. Right after MS CEO gained control of the power companies it was discovered that wireless transmission of power had been developed and could have been available as early as the 1980s. For those of you out of touch let me explain. You receive a Personal Processor the size of a pack of cigarettes. Its power is received wirelessly as well as its Internet connection. You can’t shut it off or disconnected it, the company updates its software if you want it or not.

Well back to what we were doing. MS CEO was coming to Washington DC to make a Speech on the new cloning procedures (another law he change) involving downloading ones conscience into a computer and uploading it to a clone. The CEO’s clone had reached maturity 25 and Old Bill now 106 was now ready to retire his old body and upload his conscience into the new one. The 28th day of October 2051 marks the start of the Endless Empire. No stopping old bill now his conscience now recorded into a computer and clones frozen awaiting it.
“Hey Drake I hear He is going to announce him self head of the UN now and start acquiring all the world countries.” Sam said. I cringed some predict the 4th or so clone will start a galactic acquisition process. At least this solar system, the moon’s terraforming was almost complete they say that there is atmosphere up there and plants are growing. Well we will see. “Ok this atmosphere is acceptable his old venerable body will suffer no ill effects. Give them the go.” Sam shuts off the filtration system, as more trucks start arriving setting up where the speech will take place.

English Leather by natalia
English Leather

Dangling from a crooked nail
On the smoke yellow wall
The long, leathering strap
That smells like his English Leather
Waits-what will be the punishment?
Daddy threatens with his Ten Commandments.
(There were more than ten...I counted them).

His words are not enough
To break a small child,
He reaches for the strap.
On its way to meet me
Its silver buckle winks.
Such an impression the shiny metal makes
That the cowboy is still riding his horse
And I feel like the calf
Straddling the ground,
By a rope bound.

When the calf can stand
And is strong again
The cowboy, broken by the bull,
Will be left with the smell
Of dirt, blood, and English Leather.
Oziano by Lauren Elizabeth Kilby
OZIANO

Oziano was a 15 year old boy.
He lived on a farm with his parents.

Ozianos birthday was coming up, but his parents didn't really celebrate because they were poor.The only way they celebrated was by having a picnic by Ozianos favirate place.The creek.

One day when Oziano was helping his parents feed the animals,a soldier started walking up the drive.He was from the army.The soldier started talking to Oziano and telling him to join the army or he would be a prisoner at prison camp.
Oziano didn't want to leave his parents,but he also didn't want to be a prisoner.
He followed the soldier to the van and thought about if he would ever see his parents ever again.

When the van Oziano was in stopped,the soldier took him to the equipment room and gave Oziano his supplies.The soldier then took Oziano to the training area.Oziano trained for days,weeks and even months.
When training had finished Oziano went into battle.Oziano saw really bad things happening,like his friends had their head blown off their shoulders,and Oziano had been torchered many times.

When war was over.Oziano went home.
But when he reached home there was no sign or note from his parents.That was until he reallized there was a note on the fridge door.Oziano read it aloud,it said
Dear Oziano sorry we arn't here,but that's because when war broke out,the other country had charged through our countries soldier and started attacking our home,they also attacked your father and he know has a broken arm.They killed 13 of the 20 cattle,3 of the 4 horses,12 of the 15 chickens and 14 of the 18 sheep.
We are living with your aunty and uncle in CALIFORNIA,USA.

Oziano looked for his address book and managed to find it in what used to be his bedroom.Oziano looked through his address book frantically and managed to find his aunt Emilys and uncle Henrys address.

Oziano travelled by cart.
He didn't have any money but he caught a way through by a vegetable cart.The owner felt sorry for him and they were both travelling the same way.
When he reached his aunt and uncles home,he rushed in to see his parents.
Oziano ran to his parents and they ran to him.They all had tears in their eyes because they hadn't seen him for 3 years.

Ozianos parent promised never to let Oziano go to war ever again.

Oziano still lives with his parents,aunt and uncle
today and always will forever and ever and ever. But for the other animals,that's another story.


it just happened. by James Happyman

1

i never really liked the girl. sure i could tolerate her but when it came to the crunch i really didn’t enjoy her in any way. she used to walk down the halls at school looking like your regular castle brat; hair shiny and shined with god know how many different types of hair care products, her clothes all neat and tidy, her shoes sparkling with a special unidentifiable type of arrogance, her face positively radiant, as if it was being lit from within, lit by the fires of elitism and superiority. everyone else seemed to like her, all of the boys at school always made wolf whistles whenever she walked past them, and i bet that every last one of them would have liked to fuck her rotten, lay her out on a bed of pain and give her a good big helping of rape. ah yes she was that type of girl, the type that you knew you could never have, but the type that you always wished was in your indomitable possession. her name is Anna. not that i really cared or anything.
she was seventeen years old. a little too old for innocence, but just young enough to apply the possibility that she was a virgin, and that she had never touched or indeed pleasured herself. yes, as i have said, she was just that type of girl.
i must admit that on more than one occasion i did fantasize over her and imagine what it would be like to own her to control her to bind her and to mark her. i would lie in my bed at some unearthly hour of the night and wish upon my rotting star. and then it would come. the voice. telling me what to do how and when and why. i wasn’t an unreasonable voice, actually it was quite nice. it sounded like a British tour guide, after having just one too many scotches. and he said to me ‘live this’. i knew what he was talking about. he was instructing me to live out my terrible desires, to feed my flower of tragedy with the nutrients of despair. or something like that. i sort of tuned out near the end.
so the very next day i did the very thing. it was just past eight o clock on the morning of never and there she was just like all of the other times, walking down the hall, her black hair pulled tight back from her forehead her hands held at her sides like impervious rods of steel, her back straight and dignified. a boy came up to her and tried to talk to her. i smiled to myself as i saw the familiar look of rejection smear its fucking paint all over his pretty face and then he walked away his libido tail dangling between his legs like a broken and withered flower. how often i have felt like that. but i could take it all away now. i knew that now. thanks to my old friend the tour guide.
she marched on, ostensibly empowered by her assertive act. she was wearing her uniform, as perfect as ever, the muted grays and brown hugging her developing body like a well worn glove. her blue eyes sparkling with a kind of covert mirth. i wondered what she was thinking. i wondered if she had ever thought about me. no, i chided myself. of course she had never even considered me; she hardly knew who i was.
i could only remember one other time that i had actually spoken to her and that had been several months ago now. it was during a science practical class one where we had to get into pairs and by the luck of fateful draw i was coupled with her. although most of our work was done in uncomfortable and strained silence (i wasn’t UP enough to talk to her), it was mercilessly inevitable that at some point we would actually have to open our mouths and converse. i think i asked her to hand me the beaker, she said okay and then it went from there. i recall that we chatted, in a disconnected and aphonic way, about the weather and how there were so many clouds in the sky at this time of the year. yeah, it was something along those lines.
but now there would be another time for me to talk to the misery goddess. i walked up to her, trying to keep up with her forceful strides. it was almost as if she was pregnant and she was in a hurry to get to the hospital. well, she might not be pregnant now, but...
i was right by her side now. she looked at me casually saw my searching gaze lock onto her and then looked away again. i was still keeping up with her although now she was actually walking a little faster if such a thing is possible. she looked back at me. now there was a look of fazed distress on her mien. it was obvious that she didn’t want me there. i thought that was relatively amusing.

“Hi,”

“What?”

“I was just thinking that,”

“Yeah?”

“That, um, you’d like to get together or something,”

there was silence for a moment. we were still moving through the halls at breakneck speed. I could hear her breath rasping from her clean lungs. for some reason that turned me on.

“What?”

“You know, maybe for a movie or,”

more silence. now a look of incredibility was creeping across her features. it was pretty obvious that she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I just thought that maybe,”

“Go away.”

it was a hard thing to say, and it cut me, although i knew that, in the greater scheme of things, it really shouldn’t have. but i’m human, and i couldn’t help but feel just a little bit hurt when those two words leaked from her mouth like a noxious punching gas.
and then she left. just like that she vanished, hurrying into a classroom to attend a mindless brain deadening lecture about how much we should listen to history if we are to learn from it. but i would see her again and when i did it would be me who would direct the conversation.

2

school was out and so was my sanity. lets just leave it at that.
i was the first one out. i suppose that that had something to do with that fact that i didn’t attend any of my classes.
i was standing out on the lawn the too-bright sun shining in my face like the celestial intruder it too often is, my hands stuffed into my pockets my rough grey shirt and old black track pants making me look like a real down and outer. that i may be but i certainly did not feel or think like a down and outer. no. indeed i had great plans. plans that were soon going to be realized. once and for all. funny.
ten mindless minutes crawl by with no apparent sense or purpose and then she appears. the mistress, my personal heavenly dominatrix. ah yes i would let her spank me and whip me with the very fires of the gods.
i knew the way that she walked home. i would follow her. in secret.
when she walked past i heard her talking to one of her friends.

“Have you seen that new Leo movie?”

“Yeah, how gggorgeous is he? Geez, if only all guys were like that!”

“I totally know what you mean.”

a colloquialism? from the queen of eloquence?

“I wish that I could just, well, you know,”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you have nice dreams about Mr. Leo,”

“I’m sure I will. And what will missus prissy pants dream about?”

some fake laughter.

“None of your business. See ya.”

they parted company, and she began her journey. when she was a hundred meters down the road i began to follow. whenever she looked behind her i took utmost care to vanish from sight. whether that meant hiding behind a tree or ducking behind a bush, i would do whatever was needed for me to remain out of her casually but all too purposefully roving eyes. now you must remember, dear reader, that i had planned everything out. i knew that tonight, tuesday eve, no one would be home. don’t ask me how; all questions should probably be directed to my drunk British tour guide. if you buy him a couple of drinks at the bar of dreams and eternity he will probably be more partial to reveal information.
anyway. she was near at her house, and she was now going in. my soul was lathered with the syrup of sweet expectation; i could almost taste the honey i had craved but no, but no, i was not there yet.
she went in and then i crawled around to the side of her house and waited by one of the window, completely hidden from sight. i could her the vapid tones of commercial television coming from within the house. she was probably taking off her blazer, undoing the top button of her shirt, maybe taking off her lovely little pleated skirt and maybe chucking on a pair of jammy jams or whatever was there and available and whatever her dear little mother had washed and whatever her big money earning lustful dad had blessed with his consent ‘yes dear you can wear that because they wont be able to look at you so much and see your body only i want to see that when you walk out of the shower through my special little camera in the special little roof’. now she was having a drink i could see her now just over the top of the window in the kitchen and yes yes yes yes now she had taken her shirt off and now she was just wearing her black lacy bra and a thin top that her sense of sensibility forced her to wear. it yelled at her cajoling her with an sense of stern conservative reason and Anna was always helpless to resist it. or was she? maybe after this things would be a little different. maybe things would be a lot different. funny. more so this time.

3

ten minutes later i smashed the window with my right hand and stormed into her house. she screamed as i expected her too but no there were no security men to call and no the phone lines were both cut - i had taken care of that last night but that is another story all together. still screaming i held her tight asserting the strength i had accumulated from many years of hard wretched labor on the family farm and gagged her using a big roll of gaffa tape that i had been storing in my pockets for an occasion such as this. i led her to her bedroom well i assumed that it was from the sickening amount of pink that was everywhere - oh yes pink - a precious little virgin girl - everything just how god intended it to be - and slammed her down on her bed with a terrible lack of respect. she was still screaming but it came out as nothing more than a useless yet annoying muffle.
i looked at her for a moment more and then let my dreams fill my head. yes there i was i can see everything clearly now and here i am. i cannot believe that this is happening but still i know that it is beyond my powers to deny it. i am rock hard.
just like in my dreams when i was the controller and she was my willing subordinate. now i could do everything. and what would i say to anybody who just happened to find out about this little foray? it just happened, man. it just fucking happened.

4

still screaming but now with the low underscored tone of emerging defeat. she knows that she is in an defeated situation, and this excites me further. but now it is time to stop thinking about what i could do and actually do it. Just like the tour guide said: ‘live it’.
now anna was resorting to swearing. i could hear the harsh vowels of the words even through the hard and impenetrable blanket of tape. i didn’t know that such a lady would even know such horrible words. oh well. its a strange world and sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to happen, do you?

first thing that i do is using some rope from one of my other pockets i bind her squirming hands and feet to the rails of the expensive looking bed. she yowled and some more swearing but then nothing. she knew that something awful was going to happen and she knew exactly who was doing it do her. i didn’t care.
now she could not move. she was powerless and in my command. in short i could do anything and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop me. i looked at my watch. it would be hours before either of her parents got home. i knew this as well. if you want more info, you can go down to the wishing well and throw your soul in. then you’ll find out and for such a bargain price too. i mean, who really needs a soul anyway? they’re only useful for eternity.

5

now was the time to talk to her. before the crimes.

“If I take off some of the tape, will you scream?”

she shook her head like a broken doll. but i needed more.

“What can I do to you if you scream?”

“Annyfingg.”

i took her word. i removed one of the strips so that she could speak properly. not that she had ever actually spoken properly in her entire life. nevertheless she had her chance now. something to bait her with.

“You know who I am?”

“Look, please, let me go. Please, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“I know that. Now, do you know who I am or not? Answer me, whore.”

she trembled, and yes, there they were, the first tears were rolling down her smooth and made up cheeks. it seemed like anger and retaliation had finally given in to despair and fear. how touching. how fucking touching.

“Yeah, I know you. So what. You go to my school.”

between sobs.

“Ok. Good. Now, do you know what I’m going to do to you? I mean, I don’t want to sound presumptive or anything, but you should have a fairly good idea by now.”

“Please, please, oh god, let me go and stop this. Stop this, stop this,”

“I can’t.”

“Stop this, stop this, stop this, stop-”

“Shut up.”

more shouts of a desperate fearing human creature.

“OK, I gave you the opportunity to speak, and you clearly wasted it. So, now it’s my time to speak. Through my actions, that is.”

And then it really began.


To be continued…

In one week…






1

i never really liked the girl. sure i could tolerate her but when it came to the crunch i really didn’t enjoy her in any way. she used to walk down the halls at school looking like your regular castle brat; hair shiny and shined with god know how many different types of hair care products, her clothes all neat and tidy, her shoes sparkling with a special unidentifiable type of arrogance, her face positively radiant, as if it was being lit from within, lit by the fires of elitism and superiority. everyone else seemed to like her, all of the boys at school always made wolf whistles whenever she walked past them, and i bet that every last one of them would have liked to fuck her rotten, lay her out on a bed of pain and give her a good big helping of rape. ah yes she was that type of girl, the type that you knew you could never have, but the type that you always wished was in your indomitable possession. her name is Anna. not that i really cared or anything.
she was seventeen years old. a little too old for innocence, but just young enough to apply the possibility that she was a virgin, and that she had never touched or indeed pleasured herself. yes, as i have said, she was just that type of girl.
i must admit that on more than one occasion i did fantasize over her and imagine what it would be like to own her to control her to bind her and to mark her. i would lie in my bed at some unearthly hour of the night and wish upon my rotting star. and then it would come. the voice. telling me what to do how and when and why. i wasn’t an unreasonable voice, actually it was quite nice. it sounded like a British tour guide, after having just one too many scotches. and he said to me ‘live this’. i knew what he was talking about. he was instructing me to live out my terrible desires, to feed my flower of tragedy with the nutrients of despair. or something like that. i sort of tuned out near the end.
so the very next day i did the very thing. it was just past eight o clock on the morning of never and there she was just like all of the other times, walking down the hall, her black hair pulled tight back from her forehead her hands held at her sides like impervious rods of steel, her back straight and dignified. a boy came up to her and tried to talk to her. i smiled to myself as i saw the familiar look of rejection smear its fucking paint all over his pretty face and then he walked away his libido tail dangling between his legs like a broken and withered flower. how often i have felt like that. but i could take it all away now. i knew that now. thanks to my old friend the tour guide.
she marched on, ostensibly empowered by her assertive act. she was wearing her uniform, as perfect as ever, the muted grays and brown hugging her developing body like a well worn glove. her blue eyes sparkling with a kind of covert mirth. i wondered what she was thinking. i wondered if she had ever thought about me. no, i chided myself. of course she had never even considered me; she hardly knew who i was.
i could only remember one other time that i had actually spoken to her and that had been several months ago now. it was during a science practical class one where we had to get into pairs and by the luck of fateful draw i was coupled with her. although most of our work was done in uncomfortable and strained silence (i wasn’t UP enough to talk to her), it was mercilessly inevitable that at some point we would actually have to open our mouths and converse. i think i asked her to hand me the beaker, she said okay and then it went from there. i recall that we chatted, in a disconnected and aphonic way, about the weather and how there were so many clouds in the sky at this time of the year. yeah, it was something along those lines.
but now there would be another time for me to talk to the misery goddess. i walked up to her, trying to keep up with her forceful strides. it was almost as if she was pregnant and she was in a hurry to get to the hospital. well, she might not be pregnant now, but...
i was right by her side now. she looked at me casually saw my searching gaze lock onto her and then looked away again. i was still keeping up with her although now she was actually walking a little faster if such a thing is possible. she looked back at me. now there was a look of fazed distress on her mien. it was obvious that she didn’t want me there. i thought that was relatively amusing.

“Hi,”

“What?”

“I was just thinking that,”

“Yeah?”

“That, um, you’d like to get together or something,”

there was silence for a moment. we were still moving through the halls at breakneck speed. I could hear her breath rasping from her clean lungs. for some reason that turned me on.

“What?”

“You know, maybe for a movie or,”

more silence. now a look of incredibility was creeping across her features. it was pretty obvious that she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I just thought that maybe,”

“Go away.”

it was a hard thing to say, and it cut me, although i knew that, in the greater scheme of things, it really shouldn’t have. but i’m human, and i couldn’t help but feel just a little bit hurt when those two words leaked from her mouth like a noxious punching gas.
and then she left. just like that she vanished, hurrying into a classroom to attend a mindless brain deadening lecture about how much we should listen to history if we are to learn from it. but i would see her again and when i did it would be me who would direct the conversation.

2

school was out and so was my sanity. lets just leave it at that.
i was the first one out. i suppose that that had something to do with that fact that i didn’t attend any of my classes.
i was standing out on the lawn the too-bright sun shining in my face like the celestial intruder it too often is, my hands stuffed into my pockets my rough grey shirt and old black track pants making me look like a real down and outer. that i may be but i certainly did not feel or think like a down and outer. no. indeed i had great plans. plans that were soon going to be realized. once and for all. funny.
ten mindless minutes crawl by with no apparent sense or purpose and then she appears. the mistress, my personal heavenly dominatrix. ah yes i would let her spank me and whip me with the very fires of the gods.
i knew the way that she walked home. i would follow her. in secret.
when she walked past i heard her talking to one of her friends.

“Have you seen that new Leo movie?”

“Yeah, how gggorgeous is he? Geez, if only all guys were like that!”

“I totally know what you mean.”

a colloquialism? from the queen of eloquence?

“I wish that I could just, well, you know,”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you have nice dreams about Mr. Leo,”

“I’m sure I will. And what will missus prissy pants dream about?”

some fake laughter.

“None of your business. See ya.”

they parted company, and she began her journey. when she was a hundred meters down the road i began to follow. whenever she looked behind her i took utmost care to vanish from sight. whether that meant hiding behind a tree or ducking behind a bush, i would do whatever was needed for me to remain out of her casually but all too purposefully roving eyes. now you must remember, dear reader, that i had planned everything out. i knew that tonight, tuesday eve, no one would be home. don’t ask me how; all questions should probably be directed to my drunk British tour guide. if you buy him a couple of drinks at the bar of dreams and eternity he will probably be more partial to reveal information.
anyway. she was near at her house, and she was now going in. my soul was lathered with the syrup of sweet expectation; i could almost taste the honey i had craved but no, but no, i was not there yet.
she went in and then i crawled around to the side of her house and waited by one of the window, completely hidden from sight. i could her the vapid tones of commercial television coming from within the house. she was probably taking off her blazer, undoing the top button of her shirt, maybe taking off her lovely little pleated skirt and maybe chucking on a pair of jammy jams or whatever was there and available and whatever her dear little mother had washed and whatever her big money earning lustful dad had blessed with his consent ‘yes dear you can wear that because they wont be able to look at you so much and see your body only i want to see that when you walk out of the shower through my special little camera in the special little roof’. now she was having a drink i could see her now just over the top of the window in the kitchen and yes yes yes yes now she had taken her shirt off and now she was just wearing her black lacy bra and a thin top that her sense of sensibility forced her to wear. it yelled at her cajoling her with an sense of stern conservative reason and Anna was always helpless to resist it. or was she? maybe after this things would be a little different. maybe things would be a lot different. funny. more so this time.

3

ten minutes later i smashed the window with my right hand and stormed into her house. she screamed as i expected her too but no there were no security men to call and no the phone lines were both cut - i had taken care of that last night but that is another story all together. still screaming i held her tight asserting the strength i had accumulated from many years of hard wretched labor on the family farm and gagged her using a big roll of gaffa tape that i had been storing in my pockets for an occasion such as this. i led her to her bedroom well i assumed that it was from the sickening amount of pink that was everywhere - oh yes pink - a precious little virgin girl - everything just how god intended it to be - and slammed her down on her bed with a terrible lack of respect. she was still screaming but it came out as nothing more than a useless yet annoying muffle.
i looked at her for a moment more and then let my dreams fill my head. yes there i was i can see everything clearly now and here i am. i cannot believe that this is happening but still i know that it is beyond my powers to deny it. i am rock hard.
just like in my dreams when i was the controller and she was my willing subordinate. now i could do everything. and what would i say to anybody who just happened to find out about this little foray? it just happened, man. it just fucking happened.

4

still screaming but now with the low underscored tone of emerging defeat. she knows that she is in an defeated situation, and this excites me further. but now it is time to stop thinking about what i could do and actually do it. Just like the tour guide said: ‘live it’.
now anna was resorting to swearing. i could hear the harsh vowels of the words even through the hard and impenetrable blanket of tape. i didn’t know that such a lady would even know such horrible words. oh well. its a strange world and sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to happen, do you?

first thing that i do is using some rope from one of my other pockets i bind her squirming hands and feet to the rails of the expensive looking bed. she yowled and some more swearing but then nothing. she knew that something awful was going to happen and she knew exactly who was doing it do her. i didn’t care.
now she could not move. she was powerless and in my command. in short i could do anything and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop me. i looked at my watch. it would be hours before either of her parents got home. i knew this as well. if you want more info, you can go down to the wishing well and throw your soul in. then you’ll find out and for such a bargain price too. i mean, who really needs a soul anyway? they’re only useful for eternity.

5

now was the time to talk to her. before the crimes.

“If I take off some of the tape, will you scream?”

she shook her head like a broken doll. but i needed more.

“What can I do to you if you scream?”

“Annyfingg.”

i took her word. i removed one of the strips so that she could speak properly. not that she had ever actually spoken properly in her entire life. nevertheless she had her chance now. something to bait her with.

“You know who I am?”

“Look, please, let me go. Please, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“I know that. Now, do you know who I am or not? Answer me, whore.”

she trembled, and yes, there they were, the first tears were rolling down her smooth and made up cheeks. it seemed like anger and retaliation had finally given in to despair and fear. how touching. how fucking touching.

“Yeah, I know you. So what. You go to my school.”

between sobs.

“Ok. Good. Now, do you know what I’m going to do to you? I mean, I don’t want to sound presumptive or anything, but you should have a fairly good idea by now.”

“Please, please, oh god, let me go and stop this. Stop this, stop this,”

“I can’t.”

“Stop this, stop this, stop this, stop-”

“Shut up.”

more shouts of a desperate fearing human creature.

“OK, I gave you the opportunity to speak, and you clearly wasted it. So, now it’s my time to speak. Through my actions, that is.”

And then it really began.


To be continued…

In one week…






1

i never really liked the girl. sure i could tolerate her but when it came to the crunch i really didn’t enjoy her in any way. she used to walk down the halls at school looking like your regular castle brat; hair shiny and shined with god know how many different types of hair care products, her clothes all neat and tidy, her shoes sparkling with a special unidentifiable type of arrogance, her face positively radiant, as if it was being lit from within, lit by the fires of elitism and superiority. everyone else seemed to like her, all of the boys at school always made wolf whistles whenever she walked past them, and i bet that every last one of them would have liked to fuck her rotten, lay her out on a bed of pain and give her a good big helping of rape. ah yes she was that type of girl, the type that you knew you could never have, but the type that you always wished was in your indomitable possession. her name is Anna. not that i really cared or anything.
she was seventeen years old. a little too old for innocence, but just young enough to apply the possibility that she was a virgin, and that she had never touched or indeed pleasured herself. yes, as i have said, she was just that type of girl.
i must admit that on more than one occasion i did fantasize over her and imagine what it would be like to own her to control her to bind her and to mark her. i would lie in my bed at some unearthly hour of the night and wish upon my rotting star. and then it would come. the voice. telling me what to do how and when and why. i wasn’t an unreasonable voice, actually it was quite nice. it sounded like a British tour guide, after having just one too many scotches. and he said to me ‘live this’. i knew what he was talking about. he was instructing me to live out my terrible desires, to feed my flower of tragedy with the nutrients of despair. or something like that. i sort of tuned out near the end.
so the very next day i did the very thing. it was just past eight o clock on the morning of never and there she was just like all of the other times, walking down the hall, her black hair pulled tight back from her forehead her hands held at her sides like impervious rods of steel, her back straight and dignified. a boy came up to her and tried to talk to her. i smiled to myself as i saw the familiar look of rejection smear its fucking paint all over his pretty face and then he walked away his libido tail dangling between his legs like a broken and withered flower. how often i have felt like that. but i could take it all away now. i knew that now. thanks to my old friend the tour guide.
she marched on, ostensibly empowered by her assertive act. she was wearing her uniform, as perfect as ever, the muted grays and brown hugging her developing body like a well worn glove. her blue eyes sparkling with a kind of covert mirth. i wondered what she was thinking. i wondered if she had ever thought about me. no, i chided myself. of course she had never even considered me; she hardly knew who i was.
i could only remember one other time that i had actually spoken to her and that had been several months ago now. it was during a science practical class one where we had to get into pairs and by the luck of fateful draw i was coupled with her. although most of our work was done in uncomfortable and strained silence (i wasn’t UP enough to talk to her), it was mercilessly inevitable that at some point we would actually have to open our mouths and converse. i think i asked her to hand me the beaker, she said okay and then it went from there. i recall that we chatted, in a disconnected and aphonic way, about the weather and how there were so many clouds in the sky at this time of the year. yeah, it was something along those lines.
but now there would be another time for me to talk to the misery goddess. i walked up to her, trying to keep up with her forceful strides. it was almost as if she was pregnant and she was in a hurry to get to the hospital. well, she might not be pregnant now, but...
i was right by her side now. she looked at me casually saw my searching gaze lock onto her and then looked away again. i was still keeping up with her although now she was actually walking a little faster if such a thing is possible. she looked back at me. now there was a look of fazed distress on her mien. it was obvious that she didn’t want me there. i thought that was relatively amusing.

“Hi,”

“What?”

“I was just thinking that,”

“Yeah?”

“That, um, you’d like to get together or something,”

there was silence for a moment. we were still moving through the halls at breakneck speed. I could hear her breath rasping from her clean lungs. for some reason that turned me on.

“What?”

“You know, maybe for a movie or,”

more silence. now a look of incredibility was creeping across her features. it was pretty obvious that she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I just thought that maybe,”

“Go away.”

it was a hard thing to say, and it cut me, although i knew that, in the greater scheme of things, it really shouldn’t have. but i’m human, and i couldn’t help but feel just a little bit hurt when those two words leaked from her mouth like a noxious punching gas.
and then she left. just like that she vanished, hurrying into a classroom to attend a mindless brain deadening lecture about how much we should listen to history if we are to learn from it. but i would see her again and when i did it would be me who would direct the conversation.

2

school was out and so was my sanity. lets just leave it at that.
i was the first one out. i suppose that that had something to do with that fact that i didn’t attend any of my classes.
i was standing out on the lawn the too-bright sun shining in my face like the celestial intruder it too often is, my hands stuffed into my pockets my rough grey shirt and old black track pants making me look like a real down and outer. that i may be but i certainly did not feel or think like a down and outer. no. indeed i had great plans. plans that were soon going to be realized. once and for all. funny.
ten mindless minutes crawl by with no apparent sense or purpose and then she appears. the mistress, my personal heavenly dominatrix. ah yes i would let her spank me and whip me with the very fires of the gods.
i knew the way that she walked home. i would follow her. in secret.
when she walked past i heard her talking to one of her friends.

“Have you seen that new Leo movie?”

“Yeah, how gggorgeous is he? Geez, if only all guys were like that!”

“I totally know what you mean.”

a colloquialism? from the queen of eloquence?

“I wish that I could just, well, you know,”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you have nice dreams about Mr. Leo,”

“I’m sure I will. And what will missus prissy pants dream about?”

some fake laughter.

“None of your business. See ya.”

they parted company, and she began her journey. when she was a hundred meters down the road i began to follow. whenever she looked behind her i took utmost care to vanish from sight. whether that meant hiding behind a tree or ducking behind a bush, i would do whatever was needed for me to remain out of her casually but all too purposefully roving eyes. now you must remember, dear reader, that i had planned everything out. i knew that tonight, tuesday eve, no one would be home. don’t ask me how; all questions should probably be directed to my drunk British tour guide. if you buy him a couple of drinks at the bar of dreams and eternity he will probably be more partial to reveal information.
anyway. she was near at her house, and she was now going in. my soul was lathered with the syrup of sweet expectation; i could almost taste the honey i had craved but no, but no, i was not there yet.
she went in and then i crawled around to the side of her house and waited by one of the window, completely hidden from sight. i could her the vapid tones of commercial television coming from within the house. she was probably taking off her blazer, undoing the top button of her shirt, maybe taking off her lovely little pleated skirt and maybe chucking on a pair of jammy jams or whatever was there and available and whatever her dear little mother had washed and whatever her big money earning lustful dad had blessed with his consent ‘yes dear you can wear that because they wont be able to look at you so much and see your body only i want to see that when you walk out of the shower through my special little camera in the special little roof’. now she was having a drink i could see her now just over the top of the window in the kitchen and yes yes yes yes now she had taken her shirt off and now she was just wearing her black lacy bra and a thin top that her sense of sensibility forced her to wear. it yelled at her cajoling her with an sense of stern conservative reason and Anna was always helpless to resist it. or was she? maybe after this things would be a little different. maybe things would be a lot different. funny. more so this time.

3

ten minutes later i smashed the window with my right hand and stormed into her house. she screamed as i expected her too but no there were no security men to call and no the phone lines were both cut - i had taken care of that last night but that is another story all together. still screaming i held her tight asserting the strength i had accumulated from many years of hard wretched labor on the family farm and gagged her using a big roll of gaffa tape that i had been storing in my pockets for an occasion such as this. i led her to her bedroom well i assumed that it was from the sickening amount of pink that was everywhere - oh yes pink - a precious little virgin girl - everything just how god intended it to be - and slammed her down on her bed with a terrible lack of respect. she was still screaming but it came out as nothing more than a useless yet annoying muffle.
i looked at her for a moment more and then let my dreams fill my head. yes there i was i can see everything clearly now and here i am. i cannot believe that this is happening but still i know that it is beyond my powers to deny it. i am rock hard.
just like in my dreams when i was the controller and she was my willing subordinate. now i could do everything. and what would i say to anybody who just happened to find out about this little foray? it just happened, man. it just fucking happened.

4

still screaming but now with the low underscored tone of emerging defeat. she knows that she is in an defeated situation, and this excites me further. but now it is time to stop thinking about what i could do and actually do it. Just like the tour guide said: ‘live it’.
now anna was resorting to swearing. i could hear the harsh vowels of the words even through the hard and impenetrable blanket of tape. i didn’t know that such a lady would even know such horrible words. oh well. its a strange world and sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to happen, do you?

first thing that i do is using some rope from one of my other pockets i bind her squirming hands and feet to the rails of the expensive looking bed. she yowled and some more swearing but then nothing. she knew that something awful was going to happen and she knew exactly who was doing it do her. i didn’t care.
now she could not move. she was powerless and in my command. in short i could do anything and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop me. i looked at my watch. it would be hours before either of her parents got home. i knew this as well. if you want more info, you can go down to the wishing well and throw your soul in. then you’ll find out and for such a bargain price too. i mean, who really needs a soul anyway? they’re only useful for eternity.

5

now was the time to talk to her. before the crimes.

“If I take off some of the tape, will you scream?”

she shook her head like a broken doll. but i needed more.

“What can I do to you if you scream?”

“Annyfingg.”

i took her word. i removed one of the strips so that she could speak properly. not that she had ever actually spoken properly in her entire life. nevertheless she had her chance now. something to bait her with.

“You know who I am?”

“Look, please, let me go. Please, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“I know that. Now, do you know who I am or not? Answer me, whore.”

she trembled, and yes, there they were, the first tears were rolling down her smooth and made up cheeks. it seemed like anger and retaliation had finally given in to despair and fear. how touching. how fucking touching.

“Yeah, I know you. So what. You go to my school.”

between sobs.

“Ok. Good. Now, do you know what I’m going to do to you? I mean, I don’t want to sound presumptive or anything, but you should have a fairly good idea by now.”

“Please, please, oh god, let me go and stop this. Stop this, stop this,”

“I can’t.”

“Stop this, stop this, stop this, stop-”

“Shut up.”

more shouts of a desperate fearing human creature.

“OK, I gave you the opportunity to speak, and you clearly wasted it. So, now it’s my time to speak. Through my actions, that is.”

And then it really began.


To be continued…

In one week…
























1

i never really liked the girl. sure i could tolerate her but when it came to the crunch i really didn’t enjoy her in any way. she used to walk down the halls at school looking like your regular castle brat; hair shiny and shined with god know how many different types of hair care products, her clothes all neat and tidy, her shoes sparkling with a special unidentifiable type of arrogance, her face positively radiant, as if it was being lit from within, lit by the fires of elitism and superiority. everyone else seemed to like her, all of the boys at school always made wolf whistles whenever she walked past them, and i bet that every last one of them would have liked to fuck her rotten, lay her out on a bed of pain and give her a good big helping of rape. ah yes she was that type of girl, the type that you knew you could never have, but the type that you always wished was in your indomitable possession. her name is Anna. not that i really cared or anything.
she was seventeen years old. a little too old for innocence, but just young enough to apply the possibility that she was a virgin, and that she had never touched or indeed pleasured herself. yes, as i have said, she was just that type of girl.
i must admit that on more than one occasion i did fantasize over her and imagine what it would be like to own her to control her to bind her and to mark her. i would lie in my bed at some unearthly hour of the night and wish upon my rotting star. and then it would come. the voice. telling me what to do how and when and why. i wasn’t an unreasonable voice, actually it was quite nice. it sounded like a British tour guide, after having just one too many scotches. and he said to me ‘live this’. i knew what he was talking about. he was instructing me to live out my terrible desires, to feed my flower of tragedy with the nutrients of despair. or something like that. i sort of tuned out near the end.
so the very next day i did the very thing. it was just past eight o clock on the morning of never and there she was just like all of the other times, walking down the hall, her black hair pulled tight back from her forehead her hands held at her sides like impervious rods of steel, her back straight and dignified. a boy came up to her and tried to talk to her. i smiled to myself as i saw the familiar look of rejection smear its fucking paint all over his pretty face and then he walked away his libido tail dangling between his legs like a broken and withered flower. how often i have felt like that. but i could take it all away now. i knew that now. thanks to my old friend the tour guide.
she marched on, ostensibly empowered by her assertive act. she was wearing her uniform, as perfect as ever, the muted grays and brown hugging her developing body like a well worn glove. her blue eyes sparkling with a kind of covert mirth. i wondered what she was thinking. i wondered if she had ever thought about me. no, i chided myself. of course she had never even considered me; she hardly knew who i was.
i could only remember one other time that i had actually spoken to her and that had been several months ago now. it was during a science practical class one where we had to get into pairs and by the luck of fateful draw i was coupled with her. although most of our work was done in uncomfortable and strained silence (i wasn’t UP enough to talk to her), it was mercilessly inevitable that at some point we would actually have to open our mouths and converse. i think i asked her to hand me the beaker, she said okay and then it went from there. i recall that we chatted, in a disconnected and aphonic way, about the weather and how there were so many clouds in the sky at this time of the year. yeah, it was something along those lines.
but now there would be another time for me to talk to the misery goddess. i walked up to her, trying to keep up with her forceful strides. it was almost as if she was pregnant and she was in a hurry to get to the hospital. well, she might not be pregnant now, but...
i was right by her side now. she looked at me casually saw my searching gaze lock onto her and then looked away again. i was still keeping up with her although now she was actually walking a little faster if such a thing is possible. she looked back at me. now there was a look of fazed distress on her mien. it was obvious that she didn’t want me there. i thought that was relatively amusing.

“Hi,”

“What?”

“I was just thinking that,”

“Yeah?”

“That, um, you’d like to get together or something,”

there was silence for a moment. we were still moving through the halls at breakneck speed. I could hear her breath rasping from her clean lungs. for some reason that turned me on.

“What?”

“You know, maybe for a movie or,”

more silence. now a look of incredibility was creeping across her features. it was pretty obvious that she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I just thought that maybe,”

“Go away.”

it was a hard thing to say, and it cut me, although i knew that, in the greater scheme of things, it really shouldn’t have. but i’m human, and i couldn’t help but feel just a little bit hurt when those two words leaked from her mouth like a noxious punching gas.
and then she left. just like that she vanished, hurrying into a classroom to attend a mindless brain deadening lecture about how much we should listen to history if we are to learn from it. but i would see her again and when i did it would be me who would direct the conversation.

2

school was out and so was my sanity. lets just leave it at that.
i was the first one out. i suppose that that had something to do with that fact that i didn’t attend any of my classes.
i was standing out on the lawn the too-bright sun shining in my face like the celestial intruder it too often is, my hands stuffed into my pockets my rough grey shirt and old black track pants making me look like a real down and outer. that i may be but i certainly did not feel or think like a down and outer. no. indeed i had great plans. plans that were soon going to be realized. once and for all. funny.
ten mindless minutes crawl by with no apparent sense or purpose and then she appears. the mistress, my personal heavenly dominatrix. ah yes i would let her spank me and whip me with the very fires of the gods.
i knew the way that she walked home. i would follow her. in secret.
when she walked past i heard her talking to one of her friends.

“Have you seen that new Leo movie?”

“Yeah, how gggorgeous is he? Geez, if only all guys were like that!”

“I totally know what you mean.”

a colloquialism? from the queen of eloquence?

“I wish that I could just, well, you know,”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you have nice dreams about Mr. Leo,”

“I’m sure I will. And what will missus prissy pants dream about?”

some fake laughter.

“None of your business. See ya.”

they parted company, and she began her journey. when she was a hundred meters down the road i began to follow. whenever she looked behind her i took utmost care to vanish from sight. whether that meant hiding behind a tree or ducking behind a bush, i would do whatever was needed for me to remain out of her casually but all too purposefully roving eyes. now you must remember, dear reader, that i had planned everything out. i knew that tonight, tuesday eve, no one would be home. don’t ask me how; all questions should probably be directed to my drunk British tour guide. if you buy him a couple of drinks at the bar of dreams and eternity he will probably be more partial to reveal information.
anyway. she was near at her house, and she was now going in. my soul was lathered with the syrup of sweet expectation; i could almost taste the honey i had craved but no, but no, i was not there yet.
she went in and then i crawled around to the side of her house and waited by one of the window, completely hidden from sight. i could her the vapid tones of commercial television coming from within the house. she was probably taking off her blazer, undoing the top button of her shirt, maybe taking off her lovely little pleated skirt and maybe chucking on a pair of jammy jams or whatever was there and available and whatever her dear little mother had washed and whatever her big money earning lustful dad had blessed with his consent ‘yes dear you can wear that because they wont be able to look at you so much and see your body only i want to see that when you walk out of the shower through my special little camera in the special little roof’. now she was having a drink i could see her now just over the top of the window in the kitchen and yes yes yes yes now she had taken her shirt off and now she was just wearing her black lacy bra and a thin top that her sense of sensibility forced her to wear. it yelled at her cajoling her with an sense of stern conservative reason and Anna was always helpless to resist it. or was she? maybe after this things would be a little different. maybe things would be a lot different. funny. more so this time.

3

ten minutes later i smashed the window with my right hand and stormed into her house. she screamed as i expected her too but no there were no security men to call and no the phone lines were both cut - i had taken care of that last night but that is another story all together. still screaming i held her tight asserting the strength i had accumulated from many years of hard wretched labor on the family farm and gagged her using a big roll of gaffa tape that i had been storing in my pockets for an occasion such as this. i led her to her bedroom well i assumed that it was from the sickening amount of pink that was everywhere - oh yes pink - a precious little virgin girl - everything just how god intended it to be - and slammed her down on her bed with a terrible lack of respect. she was still screaming but it came out as nothing more than a useless yet annoying muffle.
i looked at her for a moment more and then let my dreams fill my head. yes there i was i can see everything clearly now and here i am. i cannot believe that this is happening but still i know that it is beyond my powers to deny it. i am rock hard.
just like in my dreams when i was the controller and she was my willing subordinate. now i could do everything. and what would i say to anybody who just happened to find out about this little foray? it just happened, man. it just fucking happened.

4

still screaming but now with the low underscored tone of emerging defeat. she knows that she is in an defeated situation, and this excites me further. but now it is time to stop thinking about what i could do and actually do it. Just like the tour guide said: ‘live it’.
now anna was resorting to swearing. i could hear the harsh vowels of the words even through the hard and impenetrable blanket of tape. i didn’t know that such a lady would even know such horrible words. oh well. its a strange world and sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to happen, do you?

first thing that i do is using some rope from one of my other pockets i bind her squirming hands and feet to the rails of the expensive looking bed. she yowled and some more swearing but then nothing. she knew that something awful was going to happen and she knew exactly who was doing it do her. i didn’t care.
now she could not move. she was powerless and in my command. in short i could do anything and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop me. i looked at my watch. it would be hours before either of her parents got home. i knew this as well. if you want more info, you can go down to the wishing well and throw your soul in. then you’ll find out and for such a bargain price too. i mean, who really needs a soul anyway? they’re only useful for eternity.

5

now was the time to talk to her. before the crimes.

“If I take off some of the tape, will you scream?”

she shook her head like a broken doll. but i needed more.

“What can I do to you if you scream?”

“Annyfingg.”

i took her word. i removed one of the strips so that she could speak properly. not that she had ever actually spoken properly in her entire life. nevertheless she had her chance now. something to bait her with.

“You know who I am?”

“Look, please, let me go. Please, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“I know that. Now, do you know who I am or not? Answer me, whore.”

she trembled, and yes, there they were, the first tears were rolling down her smooth and made up cheeks. it seemed like anger and retaliation had finally given in to despair and fear. how touching. how fucking touching.

“Yeah, I know you. So what. You go to my school.”

between sobs.

“Ok. Good. Now, do you know what I’m going to do to you? I mean, I don’t want to sound presumptive or anything, but you should have a fairly good idea by now.”

“Please, please, oh god, let me go and stop this. Stop this, stop this,”

“I can’t.”

“Stop this, stop this, stop this, stop-”

“Shut up.”

more shouts of a desperate fearing human creature.

“OK, I gave you the opportunity to speak, and you clearly wasted it. So, now it’s my time to speak. Through my actions, that is.”

And then it really began.


To be continued…

In one week…
























1

i never really liked the girl. sure i could tolerate her but when it came to the crunch i really didn’t enjoy her in any way. she used to walk down the halls at school looking like your regular castle brat; hair shiny and shined with god know how many different types of hair care products, her clothes all neat and tidy, her shoes sparkling with a special unidentifiable type of arrogance, her face positively radiant, as if it was being lit from within, lit by the fires of elitism and superiority. everyone else seemed to like her, all of the boys at school always made wolf whistles whenever she walked past them, and i bet that every last one of them would have liked to fuck her rotten, lay her out on a bed of pain and give her a good big helping of rape. ah yes she was that type of girl, the type that you knew you could never have, but the type that you always wished was in your indomitable possession. her name is Anna. not that i really cared or anything.
she was seventeen years old. a little too old for innocence, but just young enough to apply the possibility that she was a virgin, and that she had never touched or indeed pleasured herself. yes, as i have said, she was just that type of girl.
i must admit that on more than one occasion i did fantasize over her and imagine what it would be like to own her to control her to bind her and to mark her. i would lie in my bed at some unearthly hour of the night and wish upon my rotting star. and then it would come. the voice. telling me what to do how and when and why. i wasn’t an unreasonable voice, actually it was quite nice. it sounded like a British tour guide, after having just one too many scotches. and he said to me ‘live this’. i knew what he was talking about. he was instructing me to live out my terrible desires, to feed my flower of tragedy with the nutrients of despair. or something like that. i sort of tuned out near the end.
so the very next day i did the very thing. it was just past eight o clock on the morning of never and there she was just like all of the other times, walking down the hall, her black hair pulled tight back from her forehead her hands held at her sides like impervious rods of steel, her back straight and dignified. a boy came up to her and tried to talk to her. i smiled to myself as i saw the familiar look of rejection smear its fucking paint all over his pretty face and then he walked away his libido tail dangling between his legs like a broken and withered flower. how often i have felt like that. but i could take it all away now. i knew that now. thanks to my old friend the tour guide.
she marched on, ostensibly empowered by her assertive act. she was wearing her uniform, as perfect as ever, the muted grays and brown hugging her developing body like a well worn glove. her blue eyes sparkling with a kind of covert mirth. i wondered what she was thinking. i wondered if she had ever thought about me. no, i chided myself. of course she had never even considered me; she hardly knew who i was.
i could only remember one other time that i had actually spoken to her and that had been several months ago now. it was during a science practical class one where we had to get into pairs and by the luck of fateful draw i was coupled with her. although most of our work was done in uncomfortable and strained silence (i wasn’t UP enough to talk to her), it was mercilessly inevitable that at some point we would actually have to open our mouths and converse. i think i asked her to hand me the beaker, she said okay and then it went from there. i recall that we chatted, in a disconnected and aphonic way, about the weather and how there were so many clouds in the sky at this time of the year. yeah, it was something along those lines.
but now there would be another time for me to talk to the misery goddess. i walked up to her, trying to keep up with her forceful strides. it was almost as if she was pregnant and she was in a hurry to get to the hospital. well, she might not be pregnant now, but...
i was right by her side now. she looked at me casually saw my searching gaze lock onto her and then looked away again. i was still keeping up with her although now she was actually walking a little faster if such a thing is possible. she looked back at me. now there was a look of fazed distress on her mien. it was obvious that she didn’t want me there. i thought that was relatively amusing.

“Hi,”

“What?”

“I was just thinking that,”

“Yeah?”

“That, um, you’d like to get together or something,”

there was silence for a moment. we were still moving through the halls at breakneck speed. I could hear her breath rasping from her clean lungs. for some reason that turned me on.

“What?”

“You know, maybe for a movie or,”

more silence. now a look of incredibility was creeping across her features. it was pretty obvious that she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I just thought that maybe,”

“Go away.”

it was a hard thing to say, and it cut me, although i knew that, in the greater scheme of things, it really shouldn’t have. but i’m human, and i couldn’t help but feel just a little bit hurt when those two words leaked from her mouth like a noxious punching gas.
and then she left. just like that she vanished, hurrying into a classroom to attend a mindless brain deadening lecture about how much we should listen to history if we are to learn from it. but i would see her again and when i did it would be me who would direct the conversation.

2

school was out and so was my sanity. lets just leave it at that.
i was the first one out. i suppose that that had something to do with that fact that i didn’t attend any of my classes.
i was standing out on the lawn the too-bright sun shining in my face like the celestial intruder it too often is, my hands stuffed into my pockets my rough grey shirt and old black track pants making me look like a real down and outer. that i may be but i certainly did not feel or think like a down and outer. no. indeed i had great plans. plans that were soon going to be realized. once and for all. funny.
ten mindless minutes crawl by with no apparent sense or purpose and then she appears. the mistress, my personal heavenly dominatrix. ah yes i would let her spank me and whip me with the very fires of the gods.
i knew the way that she walked home. i would follow her. in secret.
when she walked past i heard her talking to one of her friends.

“Have you seen that new Leo movie?”

“Yeah, how gggorgeous is he? Geez, if only all guys were like that!”

“I totally know what you mean.”

a colloquialism? from the queen of eloquence?

“I wish that I could just, well, you know,”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you have nice dreams about Mr. Leo,”

“I’m sure I will. And what will missus prissy pants dream about?”

some fake laughter.

“None of your business. See ya.”

they parted company, and she began her journey. when she was a hundred meters down the road i began to follow. whenever she looked behind her i took utmost care to vanish from sight. whether that meant hiding behind a tree or ducking behind a bush, i would do whatever was needed for me to remain out of her casually but all too purposefully roving eyes. now you must remember, dear reader, that i had planned everything out. i knew that tonight, tuesday eve, no one would be home. don’t ask me how; all questions should probably be directed to my drunk British tour guide. if you buy him a couple of drinks at the bar of dreams and eternity he will probably be more partial to reveal information.
anyway. she was near at her house, and she was now going in. my soul was lathered with the syrup of sweet expectation; i could almost taste the honey i had craved but no, but no, i was not there yet.
she went in and then i crawled around to the side of her house and waited by one of the window, completely hidden from sight. i could her the vapid tones of commercial television coming from within the house. she was probably taking off her blazer, undoing the top button of her shirt, maybe taking off her lovely little pleated skirt and maybe chucking on a pair of jammy jams or whatever was there and available and whatever her dear little mother had washed and whatever her big money earning lustful dad had blessed with his consent ‘yes dear you can wear that because they wont be able to look at you so much and see your body only i want to see that when you walk out of the shower through my special little camera in the special little roof’. now she was having a drink i could see her now just over the top of the window in the kitchen and yes yes yes yes now she had taken her shirt off and now she was just wearing her black lacy bra and a thin top that her sense of sensibility forced her to wear. it yelled at her cajoling her with an sense of stern conservative reason and Anna was always helpless to resist it. or was she? maybe after this things would be a little different. maybe things would be a lot different. funny. more so this time.

3

ten minutes later i smashed the window with my right hand and stormed into her house. she screamed as i expected her too but no there were no security men to call and no the phone lines were both cut - i had taken care of that last night but that is another story all together. still screaming i held her tight asserting the strength i had accumulated from many years of hard wretched labor on the family farm and gagged her using a big roll of gaffa tape that i had been storing in my pockets for an occasion such as this. i led her to her bedroom well i assumed that it was from the sickening amount of pink that was everywhere - oh yes pink - a precious little virgin girl - everything just how god intended it to be - and slammed her down on her bed with a terrible lack of respect. she was still screaming but it came out as nothing more than a useless yet annoying muffle.
i looked at her for a moment more and then let my dreams fill my head. yes there i was i can see everything clearly now and here i am. i cannot believe that this is happening but still i know that it is beyond my powers to deny it. i am rock hard.
just like in my dreams when i was the controller and she was my willing subordinate. now i could do everything. and what would i say to anybody who just happened to find out about this little foray? it just happened, man. it just fucking happened.

4

still screaming but now with the low underscored tone of emerging defeat. she knows that she is in an defeated situation, and this excites me further. but now it is time to stop thinking about what i could do and actually do it. Just like the tour guide said: ‘live it’.
now anna was resorting to swearing. i could hear the harsh vowels of the words even through the hard and impenetrable blanket of tape. i didn’t know that such a lady would even know such horrible words. oh well. its a strange world and sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to happen, do you?

first thing that i do is using some rope from one of my other pockets i bind her squirming hands and feet to the rails of the expensive looking bed. she yowled and some more swearing but then nothing. she knew that something awful was going to happen and she knew exactly who was doing it do her. i didn’t care.
now she could not move. she was powerless and in my command. in short i could do anything and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop me. i looked at my watch. it would be hours before either of her parents got home. i knew this as well. if you want more info, you can go down to the wishing well and throw your soul in. then you’ll find out and for such a bargain price too. i mean, who really needs a soul anyway? they’re only useful for eternity.

5

now was the time to talk to her. before the crimes.

“If I take off some of the tape, will you scream?”

she shook her head like a broken doll. but i needed more.

“What can I do to you if you scream?”

“Annyfingg.”

i took her word. i removed one of the strips so that she could speak properly. not that she had ever actually spoken properly in her entire life. nevertheless she had her chance now. something to bait her with.

“You know who I am?”

“Look, please, let me go. Please, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“I know that. Now, do you know who I am or not? Answer me, whore.”

she trembled, and yes, there they were, the first tears were rolling down her smooth and made up cheeks. it seemed like anger and retaliation had finally given in to despair and fear. how touching. how fucking touching.

“Yeah, I know you. So what. You go to my school.”

between sobs.

“Ok. Good. Now, do you know what I’m going to do to you? I mean, I don’t want to sound presumptive or anything, but you should have a fairly good idea by now.”

“Please, please, oh god, let me go and stop this. Stop this, stop this,”

“I can’t.”

“Stop this, stop this, stop this, stop-”

“Shut up.”

more shouts of a desperate fearing human creature.

“OK, I gave you the opportunity to speak, and you clearly wasted it. So, now it’s my time to speak. Through my actions, that is.”

And then it really began.


To be continued…

In one week…
























1

i never really liked the girl. sure i could tolerate her but when it came to the crunch i really didn’t enjoy her in any way. she used to walk down the halls at school looking like your regular castle brat; hair shiny and shined with god know how many different types of hair care products, her clothes all neat and tidy, her shoes sparkling with a special unidentifiable type of arrogance, her face positively radiant, as if it was being lit from within, lit by the fires of elitism and superiority. everyone else seemed to like her, all of the boys at school always made wolf whistles whenever she walked past them, and i bet that every last one of them would have liked to fuck her rotten, lay her out on a bed of pain and give her a good big helping of rape. ah yes she was that type of girl, the type that you knew you could never have, but the type that you always wished was in your indomitable possession. her name is Anna. not that i really cared or anything.
she was seventeen years old. a little too old for innocence, but just young enough to apply the possibility that she was a virgin, and that she had never touched or indeed pleasured herself. yes, as i have said, she was just that type of girl.
i must admit that on more than one occasion i did fantasize over her and imagine what it would be like to own her to control her to bind her and to mark her. i would lie in my bed at some unearthly hour of the night and wish upon my rotting star. and then it would come. the voice. telling me what to do how and when and why. i wasn’t an unreasonable voice, actually it was quite nice. it sounded like a British tour guide, after having just one too many scotches. and he said to me ‘live this’. i knew what he was talking about. he was instructing me to live out my terrible desires, to feed my flower of tragedy with the nutrients of despair. or something like that. i sort of tuned out near the end.
so the very next day i did the very thing. it was just past eight o clock on the morning of never and there she was just like all of the other times, walking down the hall, her black hair pulled tight back from her forehead her hands held at her sides like impervious rods of steel, her back straight and dignified. a boy came up to her and tried to talk to her. i smiled to myself as i saw the familiar look of rejection smear its fucking paint all over his pretty face and then he walked away his libido tail dangling between his legs like a broken and withered flower. how often i have felt like that. but i could take it all away now. i knew that now. thanks to my old friend the tour guide.
she marched on, ostensibly empowered by her assertive act. she was wearing her uniform, as perfect as ever, the muted grays and brown hugging her developing body like a well worn glove. her blue eyes sparkling with a kind of covert mirth. i wondered what she was thinking. i wondered if she had ever thought about me. no, i chided myself. of course she had never even considered me; she hardly knew who i was.
i could only remember one other time that i had actually spoken to her and that had been several months ago now. it was during a science practical class one where we had to get into pairs and by the luck of fateful draw i was coupled with her. although most of our work was done in uncomfortable and strained silence (i wasn’t UP enough to talk to her), it was mercilessly inevitable that at some point we would actually have to open our mouths and converse. i think i asked her to hand me the beaker, she said okay and then it went from there. i recall that we chatted, in a disconnected and aphonic way, about the weather and how there were so many clouds in the sky at this time of the year. yeah, it was something along those lines.
but now there would be another time for me to talk to the misery goddess. i walked up to her, trying to keep up with her forceful strides. it was almost as if she was pregnant and she was in a hurry to get to the hospital. well, she might not be pregnant now, but...
i was right by her side now. she looked at me casually saw my searching gaze lock onto her and then looked away again. i was still keeping up with her although now she was actually walking a little faster if such a thing is possible. she looked back at me. now there was a look of fazed distress on her mien. it was obvious that she didn’t want me there. i thought that was relatively amusing.

“Hi,”

“What?”

“I was just thinking that,”

“Yeah?”

“That, um, you’d like to get together or something,”

there was silence for a moment. we were still moving through the halls at breakneck speed. I could hear her breath rasping from her clean lungs. for some reason that turned me on.

“What?”

“You know, maybe for a movie or,”

more silence. now a look of incredibility was creeping across her features. it was pretty obvious that she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I just thought that maybe,”

“Go away.”

it was a hard thing to say, and it cut me, although i knew that, in the greater scheme of things, it really shouldn’t have. but i’m human, and i couldn’t help but feel just a little bit hurt when those two words leaked from her mouth like a noxious punching gas.
and then she left. just like that she vanished, hurrying into a classroom to attend a mindless brain deadening lecture about how much we should listen to history if we are to learn from it. but i would see her again and when i did it would be me who would direct the conversation.

2

school was out and so was my sanity. lets just leave it at that.
i was the first one out. i suppose that that had something to do with that fact that i didn’t attend any of my classes.
i was standing out on the lawn the too-bright sun shining in my face like the celestial intruder it too often is, my hands stuffed into my pockets my rough grey shirt and old black track pants making me look like a real down and outer. that i may be but i certainly did not feel or think like a down and outer. no. indeed i had great plans. plans that were soon going to be realized. once and for all. funny.
ten mindless minutes crawl by with no apparent sense or purpose and then she appears. the mistress, my personal heavenly dominatrix. ah yes i would let her spank me and whip me with the very fires of the gods.
i knew the way that she walked home. i would follow her. in secret.
when she walked past i heard her talking to one of her friends.

“Have you seen that new Leo movie?”

“Yeah, how gggorgeous is he? Geez, if only all guys were like that!”

“I totally know what you mean.”

a colloquialism? from the queen of eloquence?

“I wish that I could just, well, you know,”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you have nice dreams about Mr. Leo,”

“I’m sure I will. And what will missus prissy pants dream about?”

some fake laughter.

“None of your business. See ya.”

they parted company, and she began her journey. when she was a hundred meters down the road i began to follow. whenever she looked behind her i took utmost care to vanish from sight. whether that meant hiding behind a tree or ducking behind a bush, i would do whatever was needed for me to remain out of her casually but all too purposefully roving eyes. now you must remember, dear reader, that i had planned everything out. i knew that tonight, tuesday eve, no one would be home. don’t ask me how; all questions should probably be directed to my drunk British tour guide. if you buy him a couple of drinks at the bar of dreams and eternity he will probably be more partial to reveal information.
anyway. she was near at her house, and she was now going in. my soul was lathered with the syrup of sweet expectation; i could almost taste the honey i had craved but no, but no, i was not there yet.
she went in and then i crawled around to the side of her house and waited by one of the window, completely hidden from sight. i could her the vapid tones of commercial television coming from within the house. she was probably taking off her blazer, undoing the top button of her shirt, maybe taking off her lovely little pleated skirt and maybe chucking on a pair of jammy jams or whatever was there and available and whatever her dear little mother had washed and whatever her big money earning lustful dad had blessed with his consent ‘yes dear you can wear that because they wont be able to look at you so much and see your body only i want to see that when you walk out of the shower through my special little camera in the special little roof’. now she was having a drink i could see her now just over the top of the window in the kitchen and yes yes yes yes now she had taken her shirt off and now she was just wearing her black lacy bra and a thin top that her sense of sensibility forced her to wear. it yelled at her cajoling her with an sense of stern conservative reason and Anna was always helpless to resist it. or was she? maybe after this things would be a little different. maybe things would be a lot different. funny. more so this time.

3

ten minutes later i smashed the window with my right hand and stormed into her house. she screamed as i expected her too but no there were no security men to call and no the phone lines were both cut - i had taken care of that last night but that is another story all together. still screaming i held her tight asserting the strength i had accumulated from many years of hard wretched labor on the family farm and gagged her using a big roll of gaffa tape that i had been storing in my pockets for an occasion such as this. i led her to her bedroom well i assumed that it was from the sickening amount of pink that was everywhere - oh yes pink - a precious little virgin girl - everything just how god intended it to be - and slammed her down on her bed with a terrible lack of respect. she was still screaming but it came out as nothing more than a useless yet annoying muffle.
i looked at her for a moment more and then let my dreams fill my head. yes there i was i can see everything clearly now and here i am. i cannot believe that this is happening but still i know that it is beyond my powers to deny it. i am rock hard.
just like in my dreams when i was the controller and she was my willing subordinate. now i could do everything. and what would i say to anybody who just happened to find out about this little foray? it just happened, man. it just fucking happened.

4

still screaming but now with the low underscored tone of emerging defeat. she knows that she is in an defeated situation, and this excites me further. but now it is time to stop thinking about what i could do and actually do it. Just like the tour guide said: ‘live it’.
now anna was resorting to swearing. i could hear the harsh vowels of the words even through the hard and impenetrable blanket of tape. i didn’t know that such a lady would even know such horrible words. oh well. its a strange world and sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to happen, do you?

first thing that i do is using some rope from one of my other pockets i bind her squirming hands and feet to the rails of the expensive looking bed. she yowled and some more swearing but then nothing. she knew that something awful was going to happen and she knew exactly who was doing it do her. i didn’t care.
now she could not move. she was powerless and in my command. in short i could do anything and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop me. i looked at my watch. it would be hours before either of her parents got home. i knew this as well. if you want more info, you can go down to the wishing well and throw your soul in. then you’ll find out and for such a bargain price too. i mean, who really needs a soul anyway? they’re only useful for eternity.

5

now was the time to talk to her. before the crimes.

“If I take off some of the tape, will you scream?”

she shook her head like a broken doll. but i needed more.

“What can I do to you if you scream?”

“Annyfingg.”

i took her word. i removed one of the strips so that she could speak properly. not that she had ever actually spoken properly in her entire life. nevertheless she had her chance now. something to bait her with.

“You know who I am?”

“Look, please, let me go. Please, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“I know that. Now, do you know who I am or not? Answer me, whore.”

she trembled, and yes, there they were, the first tears were rolling down her smooth and made up cheeks. it seemed like anger and retaliation had finally given in to despair and fear. how touching. how fucking touching.

“Yeah, I know you. So what. You go to my school.”

between sobs.

“Ok. Good. Now, do you know what I’m going to do to you? I mean, I don’t want to sound presumptive or anything, but you should have a fairly good idea by now.”

“Please, please, oh god, let me go and stop this. Stop this, stop this,”

“I can’t.”

“Stop this, stop this, stop this, stop-”

“Shut up.”

more shouts of a desperate fearing human creature.

“OK, I gave you the opportunity to speak, and you clearly wasted it. So, now it’s my time to speak. Through my actions, that is.”

And then it really began.


To be continued…

In one week…
























1

i never really liked the girl. sure i could tolerate her but when it came to the crunch i really didn’t enjoy her in any way. she used to walk down the halls at school looking like your regular castle brat; hair shiny and shined with god know how many different types of hair care products, her clothes all neat and tidy, her shoes sparkling with a special unidentifiable type of arrogance, her face positively radiant, as if it was being lit from within, lit by the fires of elitism and superiority. everyone else seemed to like her, all of the boys at school always made wolf whistles whenever she walked past them, and i bet that every last one of them would have liked to fuck her rotten, lay her out on a bed of pain and give her a good big helping of rape. ah yes she was that type of girl, the type that you knew you could never have, but the type that you always wished was in your indomitable possession. her name is Anna. not that i really cared or anything.
she was seventeen years old. a little too old for innocence, but just young enough to apply the possibility that she was a virgin, and that she had never touched or indeed pleasured herself. yes, as i have said, she was just that type of girl.
i must admit that on more than one occasion i did fantasize over her and imagine what it would be like to own her to control her to bind her and to mark her. i would lie in my bed at some unearthly hour of the night and wish upon my rotting star. and then it would come. the voice. telling me what to do how and when and why. i wasn’t an unreasonable voice, actually it was quite nice. it sounded like a British tour guide, after having just one too many scotches. and he said to me ‘live this’. i knew what he was talking about. he was instructing me to live out my terrible desires, to feed my flower of tragedy with the nutrients of despair. or something like that. i sort of tuned out near the end.
so the very next day i did the very thing. it was just past eight o clock on the morning of never and there she was just like all of the other times, walking down the hall, her black hair pulled tight back from her forehead her hands held at her sides like impervious rods of steel, her back straight and dignified. a boy came up to her and tried to talk to her. i smiled to myself as i saw the familiar look of rejection smear its fucking paint all over his pretty face and then he walked away his libido tail dangling between his legs like a broken and withered flower. how often i have felt like that. but i could take it all away now. i knew that now. thanks to my old friend the tour guide.
she marched on, ostensibly empowered by her assertive act. she was wearing her uniform, as perfect as ever, the muted grays and brown hugging her developing body like a well worn glove. her blue eyes sparkling with a kind of covert mirth. i wondered what she was thinking. i wondered if she had ever thought about me. no, i chided myself. of course she had never even considered me; she hardly knew who i was.
i could only remember one other time that i had actually spoken to her and that had been several months ago now. it was during a science practical class one where we had to get into pairs and by the luck of fateful draw i was coupled with her. although most of our work was done in uncomfortable and strained silence (i wasn’t UP enough to talk to her), it was mercilessly inevitable that at some point we would actually have to open our mouths and converse. i think i asked her to hand me the beaker, she said okay and then it went from there. i recall that we chatted, in a disconnected and aphonic way, about the weather and how there were so many clouds in the sky at this time of the year. yeah, it was something along those lines.
but now there would be another time for me to talk to the misery goddess. i walked up to her, trying to keep up with her forceful strides. it was almost as if she was pregnant and she was in a hurry to get to the hospital. well, she might not be pregnant now, but...
i was right by her side now. she looked at me casually saw my searching gaze lock onto her and then looked away again. i was still keeping up with her although now she was actually walking a little faster if such a thing is possible. she looked back at me. now there was a look of fazed distress on her mien. it was obvious that she didn’t want me there. i thought that was relatively amusing.

“Hi,”

“What?”

“I was just thinking that,”

“Yeah?”

“That, um, you’d like to get together or something,”

there was silence for a moment. we were still moving through the halls at breakneck speed. I could hear her breath rasping from her clean lungs. for some reason that turned me on.

“What?”

“You know, maybe for a movie or,”

more silence. now a look of incredibility was creeping across her features. it was pretty obvious that she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I just thought that maybe,”

“Go away.”

it was a hard thing to say, and it cut me, although i knew that, in the greater scheme of things, it really shouldn’t have. but i’m human, and i couldn’t help but feel just a little bit hurt when those two words leaked from her mouth like a noxious punching gas.
and then she left. just like that she vanished, hurrying into a classroom to attend a mindless brain deadening lecture about how much we should listen to history if we are to learn from it. but i would see her again and when i did it would be me who would direct the conversation.

2

school was out and so was my sanity. lets just leave it at that.
i was the first one out. i suppose that that had something to do with that fact that i didn’t attend any of my classes.
i was standing out on the lawn the too-bright sun shining in my face like the celestial intruder it too often is, my hands stuffed into my pockets my rough grey shirt and old black track pants making me look like a real down and outer. that i may be but i certainly did not feel or think like a down and outer. no. indeed i had great plans. plans that were soon going to be realized. once and for all. funny.
ten mindless minutes crawl by with no apparent sense or purpose and then she appears. the mistress, my personal heavenly dominatrix. ah yes i would let her spank me and whip me with the very fires of the gods.
i knew the way that she walked home. i would follow her. in secret.
when she walked past i heard her talking to one of her friends.

“Have you seen that new Leo movie?”

“Yeah, how gggorgeous is he? Geez, if only all guys were like that!”

“I totally know what you mean.”

a colloquialism? from the queen of eloquence?

“I wish that I could just, well, you know,”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you have nice dreams about Mr. Leo,”

“I’m sure I will. And what will missus prissy pants dream about?”

some fake laughter.

“None of your business. See ya.”

they parted company, and she began her journey. when she was a hundred meters down the road i began to follow. whenever she looked behind her i took utmost care to vanish from sight. whether that meant hiding behind a tree or ducking behind a bush, i would do whatever was needed for me to remain out of her casually but all too purposefully roving eyes. now you must remember, dear reader, that i had planned everything out. i knew that tonight, tuesday eve, no one would be home. don’t ask me how; all questions should probably be directed to my drunk British tour guide. if you buy him a couple of drinks at the bar of dreams and eternity he will probably be more partial to reveal information.
anyway. she was near at her house, and she was now going in. my soul was lathered with the syrup of sweet expectation; i could almost taste the honey i had craved but no, but no, i was not there yet.
she went in and then i crawled around to the side of her house and waited by one of the window, completely hidden from sight. i could her the vapid tones of commercial television coming from within the house. she was probably taking off her blazer, undoing the top button of her shirt, maybe taking off her lovely little pleated skirt and maybe chucking on a pair of jammy jams or whatever was there and available and whatever her dear little mother had washed and whatever her big money earning lustful dad had blessed with his consent ‘yes dear you can wear that because they wont be able to look at you so much and see your body only i want to see that when you walk out of the shower through my special little camera in the special little roof’. now she was having a drink i could see her now just over the top of the window in the kitchen and yes yes yes yes now she had taken her shirt off and now she was just wearing her black lacy bra and a thin top that her sense of sensibility forced her to wear. it yelled at her cajoling her with an sense of stern conservative reason and Anna was always helpless to resist it. or was she? maybe after this things would be a little different. maybe things would be a lot different. funny. more so this time.

3

ten minutes later i smashed the window with my right hand and stormed into her house. she screamed as i expected her too but no there were no security men to call and no the phone lines were both cut - i had taken care of that last night but that is another story all together. still screaming i held her tight asserting the strength i had accumulated from many years of hard wretched labor on the family farm and gagged her using a big roll of gaffa tape that i had been storing in my pockets for an occasion such as this. i led her to her bedroom well i assumed that it was from the sickening amount of pink that was everywhere - oh yes pink - a precious little virgin girl - everything just how god intended it to be - and slammed her down on her bed with a terrible lack of respect. she was still screaming but it came out as nothing more than a useless yet annoying muffle.
i looked at her for a moment more and then let my dreams fill my head. yes there i was i can see everything clearly now and here i am. i cannot believe that this is happening but still i know that it is beyond my powers to deny it. i am rock hard.
just like in my dreams when i was the controller and she was my willing subordinate. now i could do everything. and what would i say to anybody who just happened to find out about this little foray? it just happened, man. it just fucking happened.

4

still screaming but now with the low underscored tone of emerging defeat. she knows that she is in an defeated situation, and this excites me further. but now it is time to stop thinking about what i could do and actually do it. Just like the tour guide said: ‘live it’.
now anna was resorting to swearing. i could hear the harsh vowels of the words even through the hard and impenetrable blanket of tape. i didn’t know that such a lady would even know such horrible words. oh well. its a strange world and sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to happen, do you?

first thing that i do is using some rope from one of my other pockets i bind her squirming hands and feet to the rails of the expensive looking bed. she yowled and some more swearing but then nothing. she knew that something awful was going to happen and she knew exactly who was doing it do her. i didn’t care.
now she could not move. she was powerless and in my command. in short i could do anything and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop me. i looked at my watch. it would be hours before either of her parents got home. i knew this as well. if you want more info, you can go down to the wishing well and throw your soul in. then you’ll find out and for such a bargain price too. i mean, who really needs a soul anyway? they’re only useful for eternity.

5

now was the time to talk to her. before the crimes.

“If I take off some of the tape, will you scream?”

she shook her head like a broken doll. but i needed more.

“What can I do to you if you scream?”

“Annyfingg.”

i took her word. i removed one of the strips so that she could speak properly. not that she had ever actually spoken properly in her entire life. nevertheless she had her chance now. something to bait her with.

“You know who I am?”

“Look, please, let me go. Please, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“I know that. Now, do you know who I am or not? Answer me, whore.”

she trembled, and yes, there they were, the first tears were rolling down her smooth and made up cheeks. it seemed like anger and retaliation had finally given in to despair and fear. how touching. how fucking touching.

“Yeah, I know you. So what. You go to my school.”

between sobs.

“Ok. Good. Now, do you know what I’m going to do to you? I mean, I don’t want to sound presumptive or anything, but you should have a fairly good idea by now.”

“Please, please, oh god, let me go and stop this. Stop this, stop this,”

“I can’t.”

“Stop this, stop this, stop this, stop-”

“Shut up.”

more shouts of a desperate fearing human creature.

“OK, I gave you the opportunity to speak, and you clearly wasted it. So, now it’s my time to speak. Through my actions, that is.”

And then it really began.


To be continued…

In one week…
























1

i never really liked the girl. sure i could tolerate her but when it came to the crunch i really didn’t enjoy her in any way. she used to walk down the halls at school looking like your regular castle brat; hair shiny and shined with god know how many different types of hair care products, her clothes all neat and tidy, her shoes sparkling with a special unidentifiable type of arrogance, her face positively radiant, as if it was being lit from within, lit by the fires of elitism and superiority. everyone else seemed to like her, all of the boys at school always made wolf whistles whenever she walked past them, and i bet that every last one of them would have liked to fuck her rotten, lay her out on a bed of pain and give her a good big helping of rape. ah yes she was that type of girl, the type that you knew you could never have, but the type that you always wished was in your indomitable possession. her name is Anna. not that i really cared or anything.
she was seventeen years old. a little too old for innocence, but just young enough to apply the possibility that she was a virgin, and that she had never touched or indeed pleasured herself. yes, as i have said, she was just that type of girl.
i must admit that on more than one occasion i did fantasize over her and imagine what it would be like to own her to control her to bind her and to mark her. i would lie in my bed at some unearthly hour of the night and wish upon my rotting star. and then it would come. the voice. telling me what to do how and when and why. i wasn’t an unreasonable voice, actually it was quite nice. it sounded like a British tour guide, after having just one too many scotches. and he said to me ‘live this’. i knew what he was talking about. he was instructing me to live out my terrible desires, to feed my flower of tragedy with the nutrients of despair. or something like that. i sort of tuned out near the end.
so the very next day i did the very thing. it was just past eight o clock on the morning of never and there she was just like all of the other times, walking down the hall, her black hair pulled tight back from her forehead her hands held at her sides like impervious rods of steel, her back straight and dignified. a boy came up to her and tried to talk to her. i smiled to myself as i saw the familiar look of rejection smear its fucking paint all over his pretty face and then he walked away his libido tail dangling between his legs like a broken and withered flower. how often i have felt like that. but i could take it all away now. i knew that now. thanks to my old friend the tour guide.
she marched on, ostensibly empowered by her assertive act. she was wearing her uniform, as perfect as ever, the muted grays and brown hugging her developing body like a well worn glove. her blue eyes sparkling with a kind of covert mirth. i wondered what she was thinking. i wondered if she had ever thought about me. no, i chided myself. of course she had never even considered me; she hardly knew who i was.
i could only remember one other time that i had actually spoken to her and that had been several months ago now. it was during a science practical class one where we had to get into pairs and by the luck of fateful draw i was coupled with her. although most of our work was done in uncomfortable and strained silence (i wasn’t UP enough to talk to her), it was mercilessly inevitable that at some point we would actually have to open our mouths and converse. i think i asked her to hand me the beaker, she said okay and then it went from there. i recall that we chatted, in a disconnected and aphonic way, about the weather and how there were so many clouds in the sky at this time of the year. yeah, it was something along those lines.
but now there would be another time for me to talk to the misery goddess. i walked up to her, trying to keep up with her forceful strides. it was almost as if she was pregnant and she was in a hurry to get to the hospital. well, she might not be pregnant now, but...
i was right by her side now. she looked at me casually saw my searching gaze lock onto her and then looked away again. i was still keeping up with her although now she was actually walking a little faster if such a thing is possible. she looked back at me. now there was a look of fazed distress on her mien. it was obvious that she didn’t want me there. i thought that was relatively amusing.

“Hi,”

“What?”

“I was just thinking that,”

“Yeah?”

“That, um, you’d like to get together or something,”

there was silence for a moment. we were still moving through the halls at breakneck speed. I could hear her breath rasping from her clean lungs. for some reason that turned me on.

“What?”

“You know, maybe for a movie or,”

more silence. now a look of incredibility was creeping across her features. it was pretty obvious that she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I just thought that maybe,”

“Go away.”

it was a hard thing to say, and it cut me, although i knew that, in the greater scheme of things, it really shouldn’t have. but i’m human, and i couldn’t help but feel just a little bit hurt when those two words leaked from her mouth like a noxious punching gas.
and then she left. just like that she vanished, hurrying into a classroom to attend a mindless brain deadening lecture about how much we should listen to history if we are to learn from it. but i would see her again and when i did it would be me who would direct the conversation.

2

school was out and so was my sanity. lets just leave it at that.
i was the first one out. i suppose that that had something to do with that fact that i didn’t attend any of my classes.
i was standing out on the lawn the too-bright sun shining in my face like the celestial intruder it too often is, my hands stuffed into my pockets my rough grey shirt and old black track pants making me look like a real down and outer. that i may be but i certainly did not feel or think like a down and outer. no. indeed i had great plans. plans that were soon going to be realized. once and for all. funny.
ten mindless minutes crawl by with no apparent sense or purpose and then she appears. the mistress, my personal heavenly dominatrix. ah yes i would let her spank me and whip me with the very fires of the gods.
i knew the way that she walked home. i would follow her. in secret.
when she walked past i heard her talking to one of her friends.

“Have you seen that new Leo movie?”

“Yeah, how gggorgeous is he? Geez, if only all guys were like that!”

“I totally know what you mean.”

a colloquialism? from the queen of eloquence?

“I wish that I could just, well, you know,”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you have nice dreams about Mr. Leo,”

“I’m sure I will. And what will missus prissy pants dream about?”

some fake laughter.

“None of your business. See ya.”

they parted company, and she began her journey. when she was a hundred meters down the road i began to follow. whenever she looked behind her i took utmost care to vanish from sight. whether that meant hiding behind a tree or ducking behind a bush, i would do whatever was needed for me to remain out of her casually but all too purposefully roving eyes. now you must remember, dear reader, that i had planned everything out. i knew that tonight, tuesday eve, no one would be home. don’t ask me how; all questions should probably be directed to my drunk British tour guide. if you buy him a couple of drinks at the bar of dreams and eternity he will probably be more partial to reveal information.
anyway. she was near at her house, and she was now going in. my soul was lathered with the syrup of sweet expectation; i could almost taste the honey i had craved but no, but no, i was not there yet.
she went in and then i crawled around to the side of her house and waited by one of the window, completely hidden from sight. i could her the vapid tones of commercial television coming from within the house. she was probably taking off her blazer, undoing the top button of her shirt, maybe taking off her lovely little pleated skirt and maybe chucking on a pair of jammy jams or whatever was there and available and whatever her dear little mother had washed and whatever her big money earning lustful dad had blessed with his consent ‘yes dear you can wear that because they wont be able to look at you so much and see your body only i want to see that when you walk out of the shower through my special little camera in the special little roof’. now she was having a drink i could see her now just over the top of the window in the kitchen and yes yes yes yes now she had taken her shirt off and now she was just wearing her black lacy bra and a thin top that her sense of sensibility forced her to wear. it yelled at her cajoling her with an sense of stern conservative reason and Anna was always helpless to resist it. or was she? maybe after this things would be a little different. maybe things would be a lot different. funny. more so this time.

3

ten minutes later i smashed the window with my right hand and stormed into her house. she screamed as i expected her too but no there were no security men to call and no the phone lines were both cut - i had taken care of that last night but that is another story all together. still screaming i held her tight asserting the strength i had accumulated from many years of hard wretched labor on the family farm and gagged her using a big roll of gaffa tape that i had been storing in my pockets for an occasion such as this. i led her to her bedroom well i assumed that it was from the sickening amount of pink that was everywhere - oh yes pink - a precious little virgin girl - everything just how god intended it to be - and slammed her down on her bed with a terrible lack of respect. she was still screaming but it came out as nothing more than a useless yet annoying muffle.
i looked at her for a moment more and then let my dreams fill my head. yes there i was i can see everything clearly now and here i am. i cannot believe that this is happening but still i know that it is beyond my powers to deny it. i am rock hard.
just like in my dreams when i was the controller and she was my willing subordinate. now i could do everything. and what would i say to anybody who just happened to find out about this little foray? it just happened, man. it just fucking happened.

4

still screaming but now with the low underscored tone of emerging defeat. she knows that she is in an defeated situation, and this excites me further. but now it is time to stop thinking about what i could do and actually do it. Just like the tour guide said: ‘live it’.
now anna was resorting to swearing. i could hear the harsh vowels of the words even through the hard and impenetrable blanket of tape. i didn’t know that such a lady would even know such horrible words. oh well. its a strange world and sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to happen, do you?

first thing that i do is using some rope from one of my other pockets i bind her squirming hands and feet to the rails of the expensive looking bed. she yowled and some more swearing but then nothing. she knew that something awful was going to happen and she knew exactly who was doing it do her. i didn’t care.
now she could not move. she was powerless and in my command. in short i could do anything and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop me. i looked at my watch. it would be hours before either of her parents got home. i knew this as well. if you want more info, you can go down to the wishing well and throw your soul in. then you’ll find out and for such a bargain price too. i mean, who really needs a soul anyway? they’re only useful for eternity.

5

now was the time to talk to her. before the crimes.

“If I take off some of the tape, will you scream?”

she shook her head like a broken doll. but i needed more.

“What can I do to you if you scream?”

“Annyfingg.”

i took her word. i removed one of the strips so that she could speak properly. not that she had ever actually spoken properly in her entire life. nevertheless she had her chance now. something to bait her with.

“You know who I am?”

“Look, please, let me go. Please, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“I know that. Now, do you know who I am or not? Answer me, whore.”

she trembled, and yes, there they were, the first tears were rolling down her smooth and made up cheeks. it seemed like anger and retaliation had finally given in to despair and fear. how touching. how fucking touching.

“Yeah, I know you. So what. You go to my school.”

between sobs.

“Ok. Good. Now, do you know what I’m going to do to you? I mean, I don’t want to sound presumptive or anything, but you should have a fairly good idea by now.”

“Please, please, oh god, let me go and stop this. Stop this, stop this,”

“I can’t.”

“Stop this, stop this, stop this, stop-”

“Shut up.”

more shouts of a desperate fearing human creature.

“OK, I gave you the opportunity to speak, and you clearly wasted it. So, now it’s my time to speak. Through my actions, that is.”

And then it really began.


To be continued…

In one week…




1

i never really liked the girl. sure i could tolerate her but when it came to the crunch i really didn’t enjoy her in any way. she used to walk down the halls at school looking like your regular castle brat; hair shiny and shined with god know how many different types of hair care products, her clothes all neat and tidy, her shoes sparkling with a special unidentifiable type of arrogance, her face positively radiant, as if it was being lit from within, lit by the fires of elitism and superiority. everyone else seemed to like her, all of the boys at school always made wolf whistles whenever she walked past them, and i bet that every last one of them would have liked to fuck her rotten, lay her out on a bed of pain and give her a good big helping of rape. ah yes she was that type of girl, the type that you knew you could never have, but the type that you always wished was in your indomitable possession. her name is Anna. not that i really cared or anything.
she was seventeen years old. a little too old for innocence, but just young enough to apply the possibility that she was a virgin, and that she had never touched or indeed pleasured herself. yes, as i have said, she was just that type of girl.
i must admit that on more than one occasion i did fantasize over her and imagine what it would be like to own her to control her to bind her and to mark her. i would lie in my bed at some unearthly hour of the night and wish upon my rotting star. and then it would come. the voice. telling me what to do how and when and why. i wasn’t an unreasonable voice, actually it was quite nice. it sounded like a British tour guide, after having just one too many scotches. and he said to me ‘live this’. i knew what he was talking about. he was instructing me to live out my terrible desires, to feed my flower of tragedy with the nutrients of despair. or something like that. i sort of tuned out near the end.
so the very next day i did the very thing. it was just past eight o clock on the morning of never and there she was just like all of the other times, walking down the hall, her black hair pulled tight back from her forehead her hands held at her sides like impervious rods of steel, her back straight and dignified. a boy came up to her and tried to talk to her. i smiled to myself as i saw the familiar look of rejection smear its fucking paint all over his pretty face and then he walked away his libido tail dangling between his legs like a broken and withered flower. how often i have felt like that. but i could take it all away now. i knew that now. thanks to my old friend the tour guide.
she marched on, ostensibly empowered by her assertive act. she was wearing her uniform, as perfect as ever, the muted grays and brown hugging her developing body like a well worn glove. her blue eyes sparkling with a kind of covert mirth. i wondered what she was thinking. i wondered if she had ever thought about me. no, i chided myself. of course she had never even considered me; she hardly knew who i was.
i could only remember one other time that i had actually spoken to her and that had been several months ago now. it was during a science practical class one where we had to get into pairs and by the luck of fateful draw i was coupled with her. although most of our work was done in uncomfortable and strained silence (i wasn’t UP enough to talk to her), it was mercilessly inevitable that at some point we would actually have to open our mouths and converse. i think i asked her to hand me the beaker, she said okay and then it went from there. i recall that we chatted, in a disconnected and aphonic way, about the weather and how there were so many clouds in the sky at this time of the year. yeah, it was something along those lines.
but now there would be another time for me to talk to the misery goddess. i walked up to her, trying to keep up with her forceful strides. it was almost as if she was pregnant and she was in a hurry to get to the hospital. well, she might not be pregnant now, but...
i was right by her side now. she looked at me casually saw my searching gaze lock onto her and then looked away again. i was still keeping up with her although now she was actually walking a little faster if such a thing is possible. she looked back at me. now there was a look of fazed distress on her mien. it was obvious that she didn’t want me there. i thought that was relatively amusing.

“Hi,”

“What?”

“I was just thinking that,”

“Yeah?”

“That, um, you’d like to get together or something,”

there was silence for a moment. we were still moving through the halls at breakneck speed. I could hear her breath rasping from her clean lungs. for some reason that turned me on.

“What?”

“You know, maybe for a movie or,”

more silence. now a look of incredibility was creeping across her features. it was pretty obvious that she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I just thought that maybe,”

“Go away.”

it was a hard thing to say, and it cut me, although i knew that, in the greater scheme of things, it really shouldn’t have. but i’m human, and i couldn’t help but feel just a little bit hurt when those two words leaked from her mouth like a noxious punching gas.
and then she left. just like that she vanished, hurrying into a classroom to attend a mindless brain deadening lecture about how much we should listen to history if we are to learn from it. but i would see her again and when i did it would be me who would direct the conversation.

2

school was out and so was my sanity. lets just leave it at that.
i was the first one out. i suppose that that had something to do with that fact that i didn’t attend any of my classes.
i was standing out on the lawn the too-bright sun shining in my face like the celestial intruder it too often is, my hands stuffed into my pockets my rough grey shirt and old black track pants making me look like a real down and outer. that i may be but i certainly did not feel or think like a down and outer. no. indeed i had great plans. plans that were soon going to be realized. once and for all. funny.
ten mindless minutes crawl by with no apparent sense or purpose and then she appears. the mistress, my personal heavenly dominatrix. ah yes i would let her spank me and whip me with the very fires of the gods.
i knew the way that she walked home. i would follow her. in secret.
when she walked past i heard her talking to one of her friends.

“Have you seen that new Leo movie?”

“Yeah, how gggorgeous is he? Geez, if only all guys were like that!”

“I totally know what you mean.”

a colloquialism? from the queen of eloquence?

“I wish that I could just, well, you know,”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you have nice dreams about Mr. Leo,”

“I’m sure I will. And what will missus prissy pants dream about?”

some fake laughter.

“None of your business. See ya.”

they parted company, and she began her journey. when she was a hundred meters down the road i began to follow. whenever she looked behind her i took utmost care to vanish from sight. whether that meant hiding behind a tree or ducking behind a bush, i would do whatever was needed for me to remain out of her casually but all too purposefully roving eyes. now you must remember, dear reader, that i had planned everything out. i knew that tonight, tuesday eve, no one would be home. don’t ask me how; all questions should probably be directed to my drunk British tour guide. if you buy him a couple of drinks at the bar of dreams and eternity he will probably be more partial to reveal information.
anyway. she was near at her house, and she was now going in. my soul was lathered with the syrup of sweet expectation; i could almost taste the honey i had craved but no, but no, i was not there yet.
she went in and then i crawled around to the side of her house and waited by one of the window, completely hidden from sight. i could her the vapid tones of commercial television coming from within the house. she was probably taking off her blazer, undoing the top button of her shirt, maybe taking off her lovely little pleated skirt and maybe chucking on a pair of jammy jams or whatever was there and available and whatever her dear little mother had washed and whatever her big money earning lustful dad had blessed with his consent ‘yes dear you can wear that because they wont be able to look at you so much and see your body only i want to see that when you walk out of the shower through my special little camera in the special little roof’. now she was having a drink i could see her now just over the top of the window in the kitchen and yes yes yes yes now she had taken her shirt off and now she was just wearing her black lacy bra and a thin top that her sense of sensibility forced her to wear. it yelled at her cajoling her with an sense of stern conservative reason and Anna was always helpless to resist it. or was she? maybe after this things would be a little different. maybe things would be a lot different. funny. more so this time.

3

ten minutes later i smashed the window with my right hand and stormed into her house. she screamed as i expected her too but no there were no security men to call and no the phone lines were both cut - i had taken care of that last night but that is another story all together. still screaming i held her tight asserting the strength i had accumulated from many years of hard wretched labor on the family farm and gagged her using a big roll of gaffa tape that i had been storing in my pockets for an occasion such as this. i led her to her bedroom well i assumed that it was from the sickening amount of pink that was everywhere - oh yes pink - a precious little virgin girl - everything just how god intended it to be - and slammed her down on her bed with a terrible lack of respect. she was still screaming but it came out as nothing more than a useless yet annoying muffle.
i looked at her for a moment more and then let my dreams fill my head. yes there i was i can see everything clearly now and here i am. i cannot believe that this is happening but still i know that it is beyond my powers to deny it. i am rock hard.
just like in my dreams when i was the controller and she was my willing subordinate. now i could do everything. and what would i say to anybody who just happened to find out about this little foray? it just happened, man. it just fucking happened.

4

still screaming but now with the low underscored tone of emerging defeat. she knows that she is in an defeated situation, and this excites me further. but now it is time to stop thinking about what i could do and actually do it. Just like the tour guide said: ‘live it’.
now anna was resorting to swearing. i could hear the harsh vowels of the words even through the hard and impenetrable blanket of tape. i didn’t know that such a lady would even know such horrible words. oh well. its a strange world and sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to happen, do you?

first thing that i do is using some rope from one of my other pockets i bind her squirming hands and feet to the rails of the expensive looking bed. she yowled and some more swearing but then nothing. she knew that something awful was going to happen and she knew exactly who was doing it do her. i didn’t care.
now she could not move. she was powerless and in my command. in short i could do anything and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop me. i looked at my watch. it would be hours before either of her parents got home. i knew this as well. if you want more info, you can go down to the wishing well and throw your soul in. then you’ll find out and for such a bargain price too. i mean, who really needs a soul anyway? they’re only useful for eternity.

5

now was the time to talk to her. before the crimes.

“If I take off some of the tape, will you scream?”

she shook her head like a broken doll. but i needed more.

“What can I do to you if you scream?”

“Annyfingg.”

i took her word. i removed one of the strips so that she could speak properly. not that she had ever actually spoken properly in her entire life. nevertheless she had her chance now. something to bait her with.

“You know who I am?”

“Look, please, let me go. Please, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“I know that. Now, do you know who I am or not? Answer me, whore.”

she trembled, and yes, there they were, the first tears were rolling down her smooth and made up cheeks. it seemed like anger and retaliation had finally given in to despair and fear. how touching. how fucking touching.

“Yeah, I know you. So what. You go to my school.”

between sobs.

“Ok. Good. Now, do you know what I’m going to do to you? I mean, I don’t want to sound presumptive or anything, but you should have a fairly good idea by now.”

“Please, please, oh god, let me go and stop this. Stop this, stop this,”

“I can’t.”

“Stop this, stop this, stop this, stop-”

“Shut up.”

more shouts of a desperate fearing human creature.

“OK, I gave you the opportunity to speak, and you clearly wasted it. So, now it’s my time to speak. Through my actions, that is.”

And then it really began.


To be continued…

In one week…

























































Midnight, Warts, and Stump Water by Jason Chavez
Some time after midnight I felt the call of Nature and was complied to answer. Tossing back the covers I hopped out of bed. Staggering, I made my way to the bathroom and kicked the door open. I didn’t trifle with the knob as the door didn’t latch. As I was reaching for the light switch an almost panicked voice came from the direction of the toilet.
“Hay man,” it quavered “I’m in here.” A fairly lame speech by any standards-but understandable under the circumstances. “Sorry.” I muttered not really giving a damn. I fumbled my way out, closing the door behind me.
“Smooth.” Commented my roommate.
“He’s sitting in there in the dark. How was I to know?” I complained.
“Weirdo.” Replied Murphy. Dan Murphy was given to short profound comments. A good thing too, if he said any more he would have ended in a gutter with a knife in his ribs. The sound of the toilet flushing came from the bathroom breaking my reverie.
“Maybe I scared the shit out of him.” I said.
“Ha!” laughed Murphy, “That’s funny.”
I lay back down and half slept for some minutes. Nature’s siren call was still pulling at me and becoming ever stronger. I tried the bathroom again and found it empty. Returning to my bed I lay down and stared into the semidarkness.
“It’s a full moon to night.” I commented. A pause, then, “He was probably in there rubbing his wart with stump water hoping to get it off.” A muffled snort was all I got from Murphy-it was all I expected.

Desdemona`s Ghost by Sheryl Osmeña

Othello dearest,
As I am lain to my final rest
I see your face through the blur of rain
As gray clouds above me beckon my wretched soul
And everything turned awfully cold,
Every creature, none be heared

Ah, you speak to me in silence
Alas!, how the misery silently seeps in your veins!
How agonizing does love feel when hatred collides
with it
Thou`st embitter by what crime you`ve done to me!

You stabbed me a thousand times with lies
Imprisoned mine weary soul with your jealousy!
How can someone who loves you more than her
meager life ever decieve you?

Why so that you not trust me?
But now is too late, there is none to be done
Only painful guilt of murdering my innocent soul
For condemning me of a crime that I have not committed;
None can be done but excruciating guilt
Oh how you`ve done me wrong, dear husband

Our love has shattered completelty the very moment
you have condemned me!
And now I see you not, And even in my dying breath;
I speaketh your name...Othello...Othello..

When I see you Smile.. by Sheryl Osmeña
When I See You Smile

Sitting beside the window, staring blankly into space
My mind miles away....Trying to picture every feature of
your face.....The day has been gloomy
My face, etched with worry;
Until I saw your smiling face,
You breezed through me, bringing with you the sun and the moon
Metling my blues, bringing different kinds of hues

And making me smile at night as I see in my dreams
Making my spirit sing joyful songs
And in the morning after, I was still in warmth and bliss
That I gave my dog a morning kiss,
I tossed my mother a bone....
Can it be true? That maybe I am in love with you?
Don`t know exactly what spell you bestowed upon me,
I just know that whenever I am with you nothing matters

Whenever you smile my way, I can go on walking miles
and miles for days and then wonder later on,
what had hit me?....I just go crazy whenever you`re near
Making me forget about the likes of fear!
Nothing could possibly hurt me than not seeing you;
For sunshine is always by my side,
Whenever I see you smiling at me....




In A Child`s Eyes by Sheryl Osmeña


In A Child`s Eyes

They see everything, they feel everything
Even pain and destruction
They plea for attention
For they are just victims of our own crimes
Crimes like violence exploding in our very minds,
Our ignorance making them feel vulnerable of feeling
that it is ok to do wrong;
This increasing plague affects their unpublished future
Until for a long time or.....never
In a child`s eyes, there is fear and sadness
In every moment that they shed a tear, feels like
their hearts being shred by shears!
Why are we so blind as what has been going on?
Why so biased by our own selfish reasons as not not care?
Perhaps, we`re too stupid or too afraid to know
Or too weak and afraid to get to know them better;
And so, we ask ourselves to and fro.....
If you leave them to where they are now,
Then consider yourself unfortunate to have not
inherited the ability to care!

For in a child`s eyes, we see hunger for knowledge
And of love.....For their spirit is still imprisoned like
a helpless dove! Dying to be free! Dying to be noticed by you!
Look at them closely...what do you see?
I see that they reflect the future....




Song Of Nature by Sheryl Osmeña
Song of Nature
(S.M.O.)


When Nature brought beauty to the earth,
And the world was young and full,
Man never heard war nor hate;
Flowers bloomed and trees swayed;
Birds sung tunes that echoed through the forest;
Dewdrops glistened like diamonds,
And stars glittered along te canopy of the sky

As nights and days slipped by,
A new world was found
Man learned how to hate;
Animals butchered, trees cut down
The world was now a living mess!

Man, what are you thinking?
Why do laugh instead of crying?
You may be showered with silver and gold
But it`ll never make you content
Your heart of stone can make birds lose
their enchanting tune, intead, they shriek in
fear at the sight of you!
Learn to love the earth, not to waste
Stop the destruction before it`s too late!





late at night by hannah marie
Your absence is crushing me!
killing myself trying to sleep, miserably
alone and wanting you near
trying to stay calm surrounded
by this which drove me away in
the beginning
it was easy once when i didn't
care, it was easy not to
but now i can't just leave
it behind
because i'd like to think i'm
the only one
thinking i'm alone on the road
but there is always someone
coming around the bend.

all that for nothing
and who cares if you knew i spied
on you. just goes to prove
my only friend is a pen
i got from a gas station
and am i crazy enough to do
that in the backseat of my car
at three in the morning?

pain sometimes isn't enought, i need
your touch, but where were you?

dirty feet, and dirty cunt
it's not a lie if i don't know it's
true
i tried to get out of here
when i had the chance
but i'm too stupid to know
what's true
and i hate myself for being loved
too much of that he said/she said bullshit
two cigerettes left
where's your dick tonight?
bumping elbows with the moon
trying to find you
because nothing can set me free
from this trap i caught meyself in
i was never any good anyway.
the planets align in your presence by hannah
i wait in this black forest for you
hungry still for more
left with the taste of you,
giving under your gravity
you have silenced me

enchanted faeries tangle themselves in my hair
the pain reminding me of your absence
lost in the darkness,
wrapped in your pale shadow
you comfort me.

In my cryptic state you freed me
fight so hard for the last touch
i look up and you are no longer there.
Christmas Without You by Jim Miller
Not what it once was
Not what it could be
Not what used to mean
So much to me
And I feel the pain
I know you feel it too
Of the first christmas
christmas without you

Material gatherings are
Not what I miss
I never wanted it to
Be like this
And something inside me
Will remember this too
Remember the first christmas
christmas without you

No more mem’ries to be made
Just those not to forget
And inside I’ll be yearning
For god to let
You come back to me
So I won’t have to go through
My very first christmas
christmas without you

The Puzzle by Julie
The Puzzle

I've got the broken pieces,
But where they fit I do not know.
They're awkward in the places
Where I've tried to make them go.
You've given me the shattered shards
Of the heart you used to have
Please tell me how to mend the break
So you can have your feelings back.
I know your heart needs healing,
But I can't do the job alone.
I need your love and willingness
To make your pained heart whole.
Employ your soul with patience,
My heart needs some healing, too.
And with a little love and kindness
Our hearts will be as good as new.

Queen Of Gypsies 2 by Aaron Teel
1

We lived on the outskirts of society and where notoriously wild. Rock and Roll shows still traveled in those days, but because of their subversivness were banned in most places. As a result we were forced to work the more austere, remote corners of the country. Underground clubs without names built alongside dingy whorehouses in red light districts all across this nation. We each had criminal backgrounds of varying consequence, each of us where outcast, each of us where desperately grasping for any opportunity when The Solomon Grundy Band came along.

I had been sleeping in my tent, which I had intentionally set up exactly on the border of North and South Dakota so that I could sleep suspended between two states, when I was woken by the sound of their dilapidated bus sputtering to a stop on the other side of the highway. I poked my head out, squinting my eyes against the early morning sun, and watched the commotion. The small door at the front of the bus banged open and three ragged looking musicians leapt out. You can always spot a musician, or at least I can. Their clothes for one; though dirty, were incredibly bright and adorned with intricately sewn patterns, the sort of which you never see in the shops. God knows where they find them. I even knew which one was the drummer; the one flailing about wildly, leaping up and down and yelling frantic obscenities while the other two dragged the unconscious driver from the bus. Tears ran from his eyes in an unbridled stream and he eventually collapsed to the asphalt in an overly dramatic fainting motion. This is to say nothing negative of drummers; they are simply unable to contain themselves. Cautiously, I emerged from my tent and crossed the highway. The two musicians trying to help the driver were as oblivious to my approach as they were to the antics of the third. They were bent over his body and saying prayers in foreign tongues while slapping him about the chest and face. It would have been comical if not for their sincerity. I stood by and watched silently for fear of disturbing their prayers. This went on for several minutes before they bowed their heads and finally gave up. The drummer was still out cold. "How do you do?" I asked, unable to think of anything better. The two musicians where sitting cross-legged on the pavement and staring at their hands. They looked bewildered and lost and my heart broke for them. There was an extended moment of awkward silence before one of them finally looked up at me and gave a response. "We are not good," he said flatly.


That was how I came to meet the band: Solomon, Shorty, and Dess. Solomon, the one who spoke to me, was the guitarist, composer, and iron fisted leader of the band. He had long, dirty red hair and a handsome face crowned by penetrating crystal blue eyes. Dess, the bass player, unable to speak through his grief, was introduced to me by Solomon, as was Shorty, the overexcited drummer, as he was still unconscious. I introduced myself as Wesley, a name I had read at the end of a dew soaked letter I found on a highway and decided to keep, as good a name as any. After a while Solomon and Dess and I set about to bury the driver whose name turned out to be Jonah. They supposed it had been a heart attack, feasible, as he was obscenely overweight and heavy. We dragged him under a bypass about a hundred yards from the bus and half-heartedly covered him with rocks and leaves. Dess began to cry and Solomon said a few more prayers I couldn't understand. When we returned to the bus Shorty was awake and full of questions. "Sol, Sol, What the hell are we gonna do now man? Whose gonna drive the bus? How the hell are we gonna get out of here?" and so on. I took this opportunity to offer my services although I had never driven anything larger than a broken down go-kart taken from an abandoned carnival, a faded memory. They gracefully accepted my offer and promised to pay me immediately after their next performance in Bigmouth North Dakota, though no specifics where discussed. I retrieved my pack containing all my worldly posessions from my tent, which had been my home, and left it there beside the highway meaning to return to it one day. For all I know it may still be there. From then on out faith was the road under my wheels at every turning, lit by a tendency to go too far.


By the time we reached Bigmouth I was a fairly good driver though my companions had deduced my lack of experience behind the wheel. Along the way they regaled me with tales of their recent hardships. They had been traveling as a crew of six, including Jonah the driver and two roadies who had made off with several months worth of earnings and much of the bands equipment; presumably to pawn for money. The band where still reeling from this betrayal and had not played a gig in many weaks. They had driven penniless all the way from Texas, stealing gas and begging for food along the way, only to have their driver they’d keel when they where almost there. I wondered silently how a man of his size could survive so long on so little food but refrained from asking out of respect. "You'll find new roadies in Bigmouth," I assured them, "North Dakotans are by and large a trustworthy people."


2

I had a little money saved from my last job selling Christmas trees in Wyoming, and decided to buy lunch for my new employers as a gesture of my gratitude. There was only one restaurant in Bigmouth, a town I knew well. I parked the bus in front of the Horn of Plenty and we went inside. The Horn was about half full but the locals were congregating around the bar. We sat down at an isolated booth by a large window looking out onto Main St. The band where ravenous and ate without speaking which suited me fine. We all had chitlins and gravy at the suggestion of our waitress who told us her name was Hope. After the meal we bonded over several pitchers of beer, the way men do. Solomon spoke eloquently of his music and determination to continue despite recent circumstances. He warned me that life on the road with them would be hard and strange. The shadows outside began to gather as time slipped away without our noticing. I paid the bill and tipped Hope a fiver, which is more than my usual custom. Solomon told her about the show and she promised to try and make it although her shift didn't end for another hour. "That's alright," he said, "we play a fairly long set." At first I had thought her hair to be black but when she leaned over our table the sun hit it and I noticed it was really a dark shade of brown. It's funny how sometimes a woman's beauty will hit you straight away like a slap in the face and sometimes is just sneaks up on you slowly, growing more potent every time you look. That's the way it was with Hope.

It took longer than anticipated to locate the venue, a small ramshackle nightclub on the outskirts of town. It was called Tears in a Bucket, which struck me as being perfect. I pulled around back and we quickly unloaded the sparse set of equipment the band had been left with. I had sort of feared for the turnout of a rock and roll show in a town of this size, but was surprised to see a considerable crowd of about forty kids gathered in front of the stage. Solomon spoke briefly to the soundman, the lights went down, and the band began to play. The hum of the chatter in the room was instantly silenced and the people just coming down the stairs and into the club froze in their tracks as a multitude of jaws soundlessly dropped. Maybe I have exaggerated that in my mind as so often happens with the passing of time, but I don’t think so. In any event it was the strangest, most beautiful music I had ever heard in my whole sorry life. There where no words to the songs, nor any singer as you might expect, but Solomon’s melodys stretched out for miles, coming down on us in shimmering waves of sound that where cemented by Short’s hypnotic drumming and Dess’ gut rattling bass lines around which everthing revolved like planets around the sun. The songs would seem to speed up and slow down as if they where being played underwater and then Solomon’s guitar would build and tremble and fill every space possible in the tiny club and behind our eyes. He never spoke a single word to the crowd. When the lights came back up, hours later, there where about ten people, the bartender, the soundman, and myself included left in the audience. It was like waking up. We were looking around at each other, blinking and smiling stupidly. There seemed to be a communal bond between us because of what we had just witnessed. I can't tell you why so many people left, or why that would continue to happen everywhere that they played in the years to come. Perhaps it was just too much for them, sensory overload. It doesn't matter. Shorty was taking apart his kit; Dess and Solomon were moving about the small stage, wrapping up wires and preparing to reload. I wanted to help them but my feet seemed to be frozen in place.

Hope broke my paralysis. She walked right up to me and just stood there like an orphan cat. At first I didn't recognize her, so drastic was the change in her appearance from the restaurant. She wore a fancy blue dress, older that the hills, that emphasized her beauty but could not hide her country innocence. Her hair, which looked black but I knew wasn't, lay across her shoulders like melted chocolate; real combed, not finger combed. Her eyes were glistening with tears, nearly glowing in the smoky darkness of the club. They reminded me of the color the skies had been in Wyoming early in the morning, a matchless pure blue I had never expected to see anywhere else. She had clearly been moved by the band's performance. "It’s like home." She said. Her words were soft and wet with emotion but I didn't know what she meant. "Yes, I know." I said, feeling ignorant. She just stood there with tears in her eyes, hugging herself as if she was cold, waiting for me to say something. I've never been able to talk to woman. I noticed she had some people with her, three young healthy looking men stealing glances at us. I wondered if she wanted me to introduce them to the band. She stunned me by reading my mind, the way my mother once did. "You're wondering about those boys I'm with aren't you." "No." "They're my brothers. They want to come with you when you leave," she said, blushing, "and so do I."


3

After the band had been paid and the equipment loaded, we all piled into the bus and headed back to the small house where Hope lived with her brothers. She served us tea and homemade acorn bread while Derek, Matthew, and No Future talked about music with the band. As there was no furniture we all sat on the floor. Derek and Matthew were twins. Once told this I never doubted it, though physically, they looked nothing alike. Derek had a long blonde mane, baby-fine, which hung down to his chin when his small ears failed to hold it in place. Matthews’s head was shaved. Derek was tall and lanky, very thin. Matthew was about medium height, several inches shorter than his brother, and of a substantial build. But they acted alike. They were very quiet, yet when they did speak, their mannerisms, hand movements, and facial expressions were like mirror images. At twenty-six they were the oldest. Hope was twenty, and No Future; a hard looking figure with spiky blonde hair and many tattoos, was only seventeen. At some point the tea became liquor and the mood became festive. We swapped stories of run-ins with Johnny Law and narrow escapes from death. We traded the stories of our lives the way children trade baseball cards, letting go with a sigh.

Taking turns in the quiet, subliminal way that they had, Derek and Matthew told us of their early upbringing in the middle class suburb of Green River, Iowa. They were the firstborn sons to Elizabeth and Colson Mercy. Their mother, whom they spoke of with a reverence unmatched by any holy man that I've encountered, was a teacher and a saint, and their father worked as an insurance salesman, a noble trade that had all but vanished in the intervening years. They admitted to commiting wanton acts of willful violence for money in their youth told and told us of their difficulty finding work in Bigmouth due to their criminal records. They pleaded with Solomon to hire them on as roadies and allow for their younger brother and sister to come along without pay. I could tell they where on the run and secretly admired them though I admit my attention wavered. I could not keep my eyes nor my mind off Hope, who was sitting by the fireplace and sipping hot tea mixed with rum from a wooden bowl that was carved to resemble the shell of an ancient turtle. She looked like a gypsy queen from some blackened clan of mysterious and romantic origin. I thought she must be a wandering Madonna blessing us with her presence or a weird angel momentarily distracted by the mad lives of strange little innocents. I closed my eyes and imagined her wings as she flew through hell and made the damned souls swoon.

I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare having to do with wild dogs breeding in the wombs of woman. I lay still for an unknowable amount of time and tried to remember where I was. My head ached dully and my bladder was full to bursting but I was paralyzed with fear and displacement. Finally, unable to take the suspense any longer I retrieved a book of matches from my pack which was my also my pillow and struck one. In a flash I saw Hope hunkered down in a dark corner, surrounded by mice who seemed to be consuming her, and she was smiling at me with eyes that pierced straight through to my heart and froze it in mid-beat. "Hope!" I gasped as the match burnt my thumb and I dropped it. I fumbled another match from the book and in a flash it was lit, but she was gone. I half-heartedly scanned the shadows for her, but apparently she had only been an apparition, a thing that seems to be but isn't, except in the mind. I almost believed it. I made my way outside to piss into the cold North Dakota night and then went cautiously back to my place on the floor. I stepped on something, Dess it turned out, and he let out a sharp grunt but didn't wake up. I lit one more match to search for a blanket. The only one I saw was being used by Shorty but he had passed out well before me and I thought he probaly wouldnt notice if it was gone. I was wearing my clothes and moccasins but winter had come on when we werent looking and the wind was blowing hard enough to carol in the eves.

Wrapped up tighter that a papoose in a stolen blanket I let bittersweet sleep take me where it would, though I hoped to be through with the wild dogs and woman eating mice.
In the morning I woke to the sight of Hope walking away from me through rising steam like a ghost over a freshly baked blueberry cobbler. I said "Thanks," but she must not of heard me, or if she did she walked back into the kitchen and didn't respond. I didn't mind. I woke the band and we ate a hot breakfast fit for kings.


I folded my stolen blanket, combed my hair with my fingers, and put my pack in the bus. Derek and Matthew set about packing bags for themselves and their two siblings who were busily preparing the house for its long season of emptiness. I could tell Solomon was growing impatient with the delay. He sat in a corner Indian-style, mumbling quietly to himself and scowling at Shorty and Dess who where louldly playing patty-cake and chanting something ridiculous. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. The blissful intimacy of the night before had been replaced by an awkwardness like waking up married to a stranger. “We should go soon,” said Sol finally, “we have a long road ahead of us.” This was true. I think it must be hard for people to leave their homes though I wouln’t know.


4

We were headed for Oregon where the band had secured gigs in Seaside, Bearhead, and somepace called Baby’s Arm though we never found that one. The other two though, went off without a hitch, beautifully in fact. I came to discover that no two perfomances by the Solomon Grundy band were ever quite the same. The differences where often subtle, and were entirely dependant upon Sol’s moods which swung wildly, but the overall effect was always breathtaking. Again though, only a handful of adventurous souls remained when the house lights came up, strangely a fact that never seemed to bother the band. Those who did stay however, where so enthusiastic in their appreciation they would often insist on giving the band money and gifts, which Solomon accepted gracefully. The show at Bearhead was lucrative enough, both from the house take and the donations, that Solomon decided we could stay one night at a local Bed and Breakfast before moving on, in celebration of our new beginning. They would have never allowed all eight of us to stay in one room, which was all we could afford, so Solomon and Hope went in together and the rest of us stayed in the bus to be retrieved later, when the “coast was clear”. Shorty lit a hash pipe and passed it around. Funny how musicians, no matter how poor, always seem to have hash. “Good fucking show tonight, man,” said No Future to Dess as he took the pipe from him and inhaled deeply like an old pro. He held the smoke in his lungs as he spoke so that his words took on real form and shape, falling up from his lips in slow grey swirls. “You guys should be famous.” He said, which was ridiculous but true. We sat that way for an unknown length of time, the six of us in a circle at the back of the bus among a tangle of wires and various exotic instruments, smoking hash and speaking in the hushed, exctatic tones of tones of irreverant children cutting up in church. Inevitably my thoughts turned to Hope and I was anxious to get up to the room. I asked Dess if he thought Sol would be coming to get us soon and he turned to face me slowly. “How in hell can I know a thing like that?” He spat the words at me, discusted with the taste of them, “You’re an obnoxious twat Wesley, we should have left you on that highway.” I was dumbfounded for a response although looking back on it now I can think of a million and one humdingers. I just sat there though, staring back at him with my mouth agape. Derek came to my rescue. “Hash makes you mean Dess,” he said “a downright prick really, you shouldn’t smoke it.” Dess turned to him and his eyes narrowed to bloodshot slits, “I’ll shoot you in the face!” He shouted. We burst into stunned laughter at the absurdity of it all. “That’s enough!” We all jumped. Solomon stood with the big door open at the back of the bus looking at us like some haggard old suburban pappa in the midst of a long and hairy family vacation. “ You bastards are stoned out of your minds. I could hear you all the way across the parking lot sounding like a pack of maniacs.” “Sorry, Sol,” I muttered, “We where just talking.” He stood there shaking his head for a maddeningly long time and thinking God knows what, then finally said “Between loose talk and silence, opt for silence.” A phrase I have carried with me like a postcard ever since, I don’t know why. Some things just stick in your head like a fleck of broomstraw driven through a telephone pole by a tornado. After a few more awkward seconds of silence he told us to “keep it down” and left us there to sleep in the cold bus as he went back up to the room, back up to Hope.

I had a hard time sleeping that night. Every time I closed my eyes I saw Hope Mercy, naked and shimmering, bathed in the milky white moonlight coming in through the open window, gasping in Solomon’s skinny troubador arms. Jealousy is not an emotion I was familiar with. Its sting was too much for feeble heart to bear.

Somehow though, I know I must have eventually fallen asleep because I woke up the next day.

There was a brief but terrifying moment when Sol was ready to go that I couldn’t find my pack. Understand that all my worldly belongings were contained within that pack, which I had carried with me for so long that I could no longer remember when, or even where, I had aquired it. It must have been made of muleskin or something equally sturdy because it never split or tore or faded. In it I carried a second, identical pair of Levi’s and a nice pair of special occasion slacks taken off a manequin in a dead Texas town, a seashell from galveston so I could listen to the ghost of the sea, several Buddhist texts taken from a burned out monestary and a book of wisdom which I carried for culture but rarely consulted, a picture purported to be of my mom and dad (ripped), a sack of marbles for their texture, a journal and pencil, a money clip, a canteen, a sack for acorns, a nutcracker, the keys to the bus, and whatever else I found, took, or bought. Somehow, during the night, it had gotten knocked under Shorty’s bunk and I had to climb all the way under to get it out. My relief in finding it was enouth to temporarily take my mind off Hope as we set out for Poetry Massacheusetts. I drove straight through the day and into the night to make up for lost time and spoke nary a word to anyone save myself. I went into a sort of road daze with with my hands on the wheel, my eyes on the painted lines, and my mind somewhere else entirely.

That night, as the band slept, Derek and Matthew went out to search for whiskey. Hope produced a Gideon Bible from under her bunk that she had taken from the room at the Bed and Breakfast in Bearhead and, because No Future couldn’t read, not even the wise tattoos on his arms, and Solomon was already asleep, she asked me to read from it. As I read the Sermon on the Mount, whose meanings rang so clear I could lift my eyes from the page and still be reading, I glanced up at Hope bare-armed in a velveteen nithtgown with the jewel-black Massacheusetts night like a pillow-frame around her. My mouth and lungs kept reading as she reached over and held my hand. This left one hand for the book.


5

Poetry, Antwerp, Chantilly, Hector, Glorious Divide, Broken Neck, Shotgun, Simpleton, Copper Ball, Bad Kitty, Wanderlust, Skakespear, Golden Nugget, Hank, Heartache, Whyso Sad, Morning Glory, No Shit, No Buddhist, Blackjack, Lucky Lady, Coldspot, True, Loudmouth, Fearsome Beaver, Corn-mo, Zen-No-Mo, Laughter, Heaven, Iota, Hardhead, Nonplussed, Stormin’ Norman, Martha, Capello, Tuesday, Russia (Ark.), Homestead, Meander, Confucious, Virginity, Fritz…

None too sacred, these towns. For years I’ve thought about their names. Where has it gotten me?

Dave, Medicine Hat, Abandonment, Zero Interest, Drunken Indian, Harlot…

Oh Lord, the smell of perfume mixed with shit and hay on the streets of those places! We never belonged.

Amazingly, even in towns where the money had run out years before, people would come to see the band. The crowds in fact, grew quite large as time wore on and there notoriety as a live act grew. No matter that most people never stayed to the end, they had already paid and couldn’t get their money back.

Most nights Solomon and Hope made love in the bunk that they shared. When this happened I closed my eyes and ears and tried to remember scenes from my youth, fragmented though they where, they offered some consolation.


6

“I sure wish I had me a little dog,” said Hope one morning after an all night show in Big Rita Wisconsin. We’d been together as a group for a while, years maybe. Certainly years in the end. It was the middle of summer, August probalbly, and hot. No Future, Hope, Shorty, Dess, and I had just finished our Sunday morning Bible reading and where sitting down to a breakfast of beans and franks with seven-grain bread which we ate under a public shelter roof that housed wooden picnic tables and a working concrete water fountain. I looked at her, with bean juice on her chin and mischief in her eyes, and I loved her the way a dying man loves life, with all his ignorant heart.

I knew Sol was holding out on us, we all knew. He kept the money in a wooden cigar box and stashed it in his guitar case. He doled out to us what he thought we needed and horded the rest. I never objected. Solomon and the twins had walked into town to buy food and other necessities. I climbed onto the bus and headed straight for the guitar case. The Queen of Gypsies wanted a dog, by god she would have one!

I slipped out the back door and headed into town. When finally I came upon the Lucky Duck pet store in Big Rita Wisconsin it was very nearly noon. The sign on the door said “Open”, so I did. The air conditioning hit me like a kick in the chest and I froze in my clothes, soaked through with sweat from the heat of the day. It was damn noisy in there also, and stank. “I need a dog.” I said aloud and a rainbow feathered bird told me to go to hell. I had never been cussed by a bird and was a little startled. “I need a dog!” I said again, louder, ignoring the bird. An old man carrying a bucket came out of a back room and stared at me quizzically. “I need a dog.” I repeated for a record third time, but quieter. “Hells bells,” said the old man kindly, “why didntcha’ say so?” He put down his bucket filled with what I don’t know, and walked toward the front of the store. I stood my ground, not wanting to get too close to the old lunatic. “What kinda dog ya aimin’ to get young fella, we got all kinds.” He stood holding his arms out to a line of cages filled with various canines and looking at me. “Something small,” said I “a gypsy dog.” He opened a rather large cage with several small pups in it and pulled a sad-eyed, brown dachound from there midst. “Lookit this hear weiner dog,” he cackled, “aint he cute?” He held the dog up by the neck for my inspection and I came a little closer to get a good look. His tail swayed hopefully back and fourth in a slow arch and he begged me silently to take him home with me. “Nah, weiners are too excitable, what else ya got in there?” He tossed the reject nonchalantly back in the cage, and dug around for another hopeful. “How ‘bout this hear poodle?” He held it up. “Too posh, back in the cage!” I began to enjoy my sense of power over the fate of the helpless animals, but knew I’d have to make a decision soon. I spotted a serious looking little creature in a cage to the left of the old man. He seemed utterly detached from the goings on. While all his captive bretheran where going mad to get my attention he had the demeanor of one who just didn’t give a fuck. “What about that one?” I pointed him out. “That there’s a Sussex spaniel, he’s just a pup but he won’t get much bigger’n that.” “Sussex spaniel,” I repeated under my breath. “I like it, how much?” “Three Hunnerd.” He said. My heart sank. “I’ve only got thirty.” The old bastard laughed. “Well that won’t do will it?” I supposed it wouldn’t but I had to have a dog. “Well what can I get for thirty dollars?” I asked. He looked bemused and ancient. He took me to the back room he had emerged from carrying the mysterious bucket. The smell out front had been bad but back there it was overwhelming. The floor was covered in various kinds of shit and piss, breathing through my mouth I could taste it. He pulled the mongeral from a cardboard box and held him up for my inspection. Leave it said that it was the ugliest creature God ever let pass through the portals of a womb. It appeared to be part pug part pot bellied pig. Its grey fur was matted and filthy. It drew instant pity, even from me. A blind man would have winced upon feeling it for a picture. I reached out and rubbed its mane. It snorted and hare-lipped me. I paid the old thief, grabbed the mutt, and got the hell out of there.

Walking back to the bus I thought about what I would tell Solomon. The dog, though small, was incredibly heavy. I cursed and wished for that spaniel.


7

Solomon and the twins had still not returned when I arrived back at the bus. No Future was gone too, getting another tattoo I found out later. He had taken to getting a new one in every town we played and was quickly running out of skin. A green snake ran down the bridge of his nose to where a pink rose bloomed. On his eyelids were salamanders. Dots, like those on roseate trout, outlined like colored bubbles the creases of his face. A pair of blue snakes wound round his thick neck. He had even had his toenails removed by a podiatrist in Crabapple, California so that the skin beneath them could be tattooed. On those surfaces he had little hands clapping underneath little faces containing the various emotions: fear, hate, envy, love, courage, faith, hope, regret, joy, and despair. Dess and Shorty had gone to see some girls they had met at the show.

I approached the bus cautiously and stuffed the ugly dog in my shirt in hopes of suprising Hope. The doors where locked. I put my face to the window and saw her sleeping naked atop my bunk. Her hair, which by this time hung nearly down to the backs of her thighs, fell off the bed and spread out on the floor like a sleeping cat. Curled up the way she was she looked like a huge infant suffering through a dream. I sort of feared waking her, the way I fear waking anyone, but especially a naked woman, so I quietly stepped away from the bus.

I found a bit of rope in my pack and tied the mutt to a tree. He whimpered pathetically but eventually fell asleep. Seeing all this made me aware of my own weariness and I crawled beneath a picnic table for a nap.

When next I woke it was nearly dusk. In my confusion I sat up too quickly and banged my head hard on the bottom of the table. The mut was barking. I crawled away from the table and stood up slowly. The world was swaying beneath my feet and I saw two of everything. I touched my head and felt blood. Hope stood at the door of the bus, wrapped in an afgan and staring out at us, or one of us. The mut, or me I’m not sure which. She walked toward us slowly; the way people walk in dreams. Blood from my head ran into my eyes and cast the world into a deep crimson red. I took a few steps toward her and passed out cold.

I came to in the familiar warmth of the bus, wrapped in her afghan. My wound had been cleaned and dressed but I had a terrible headache and still felt a little woozy. Perhaps that’s why I did what did. She sat by lantern light on the bunk across from me, cradling the mut in her arms. “Weird angel,” I said to her, fancy words but not loose talk, that just erupted softly from my lips and against my will. I had never talked like that to a woman in my life. She came to sit beside me and pulled me in her arms with a strength woman posess that men can’t see. I said, again unwillingly, “Im thirsty.” And I was. She pressed her mouth against mine and filled me with a liquid like honey, or the precious tears of an angel. It was all the nourishment I needed.

She took me by the hand out way past the picnic tables to an abandoned campsite among the trees. Logs of green live oak cut with hatchets sat in a square around a hole about six feet wide. The earth inside the circle was scorched and black. We made love in the ashes in full view of heaven. I kept looking at a huge oak tree that must have been struck by lightning or partially eaten by termites because its pointed tip hung down like the finger of god identifying our position.

When we returned to the bus there was a party in full swing. Everyone had seemingly returned at once and everyone was drunk. Dess and Shorty had their dates with them and there where others there with Sol and the twins. Noone seemed to have noticed we had been gone or that we where dusted in ash from head to toe. They where all enraptured at the sight of No Future’s newest, penultimate tattoo. He stood in front of the bus, without pants and without shame, holding a lantern in one hand and a beer in the other, posing calmly like Adonis or Michaelangelo’s David if the marble could talk, his eyes glimmering like christmas bulbs in the Coleman lantern light. A tiny rose and a snake on its thorny stem, green and red and black, sat perfectly on the end of his penis. “Snake and Rose,” he said to me proudly. I turned up the lantern light and examined it closely. It had been finely wrought.


8

With his exotic tattoos No Future became something of sideshow attraction for the Solomon Grundy Band. No band member, nor even Derek or Matthew who had developed god-like physiques from lugging around the band’s new equipment, could any longer compete with him for the attention of the most beautiful girls. The tattoos lent him a sense of mystery lacking in the rest of them and with each new addition his confidence grew. His palms were tattooed and he would say to some awestruck farmer’s daughter, “If you place something in it I will show you my hand.” She would take a coin from the pocket of her overalls and he would open his palm to reveal a pink rose. The girl would giggle, want to see other hand, and produce another coin. Slowly, as if engrossed in revelation, No Future would open the other hand to show a coiled-up snake with its red tongue flickering. Often, as in one Friday night in Particulate, Kansas the same farmers’ daughter would return after the show for No Future’s final act. It would be a private shwoing in the trees followed by a swim in the river.


9

It was one of those Sundays when suddenly you wake up and don’t know who you are. For a brief moment the possibilities seemed endless but then I remebered I had never known anything except that I knew that I was nobody and had always known, just forgot. I was the driver for the Solomon Grundy Band, thirty-three years old and a rock and roll gypsy; good enough.

Outside I heard Hope laughing. She sounded like a little girl who had never even known a man, much less been hurt by one. I rolled out of bed and looked out the window. We where parked in a shallow ditch by the highway. Beyond that there was nothing to see in any direction. I slipped on my moccasins and stepped outside.

Hope was wearing the same blue dress she wore the second time I saw her. “It’s Easter,” she said to me in explanation, “I wanted to dress up.” She was holding the mongrel against her chest and she started spinning around in tight, concentric circles. The hem of her dress flowed around her like water and then, as she picked up speed, rose up. She stopped suddenly and set the mutt down. He wabbled away from her like a stumbling drunk. She laughed and clapped her hands, then picked him back up and kissed him squarely on the mouth. He licked her lips but she didn’t move away. By then the mongrel was incredibly fat, still young but with a succesful rock and roll show. He was dubbed Prince Albert by No Future due to the fact that his penis, when exposed, had a tiny mole on it that resembled a stud. Noone ever bothered to ask where he came from. The door opened behind me and Derek and Matthew stepped off the bus. “Its Easter fella’s,” said Hope, swaying back and fourth from dizziness, “Easter Sunday.” I wondered if they where still upset with me about an argument we’d had the night before. It had occurred to me that if one or both of them would learn to drive then we would make much better time by switching off and not having to stop. They didn’t take kindly to the suggestion. “We’re the roadies man, we don’t ask you to load the equipment do we?” “I would though, I’d be glad to help.” “No man, you’re the fucking driver. We’re the roadies and you’re the driver and that it!” Solomon told us to shut up and we did. Dog tired that night; I fell asleep while driving. Usually when that happened I didn’t wreck for some reason and this was no exception. Fortunately the three gas stations we’d passed since crossing the Red River had all been closed and at that very moment we ran out of gas. We just glided off the road and into this ditch, by chance or fate, in Po Toe Texas. I didn’t then and still don’t now remember waking up and going to bed, but I must have because that’s where I woke up. Things like that didn’t bother me as much then as they do now. I went inside and put on my special occasion slacks. Then I grabbed the Gideon Bible from my pack, whose white leather cover was now broken and tattered, and whose gold was now rubbed off the pages, and went back outside to conduct a special Easter Sunday bible study. The others drifted out slowly, Solomon as always the last to rise.

After bible study and breakfast the twins and I took three dented red gas cans which had been with the band longer than we had and went to find an open gas station. We walked several miles along the highway in the blazing Oklahoma sun saying very little. Tired of feeling like an idiot and with our destination in sight I stopped and offered my hand to them. “Listen, no hard feelings fellas. Its cool if you don’t want to drive and all. It was only a suggestion.” The looked at each other and then back at me. “We’ve been discussing it,” Matthew said matter of factly, “and we don’t want you falling asleep at the wheel anymore. We’ll learn to drive but you can’t help us with the equipment.” “You’re a damn clutz, Wesley.” Derek said. “Fair enough.” Said I, pleased as hell. Later on, on the way back to the bus with our gas cans now so much heavier, I asked them what they meant when they said they had “been discussing it” since none of us had said much of anything up until then. “Earlier”, said Derek. “I meant we discussed it earlier.” He was lying, I knew; I could smell the lie like a fart in a car.

That night we camped outside Austin at a little place called Mosquito-Creek; aptly named at it turned out. We couldn’t stay in Austin proper of course, because even that far south they had put a ban on rock and roll shows. Purportedly Austin had once claimed to be the live music capitol of the world though I can hardly imagine it.
We set up a bonfire and the band played a free set for the young hipsters and vagrants that roamed the streets of Mosquito Creek. The twins wheeled out a small set of amplifiers and speakers that, after a few minutes of tinkering, came to life in a fuzzy squeel of crackling feedback. They played sincerely and with all their hearts and skill. Veins popped out in their foreheads and necks and their fingers plied, plucked and quivered with manic intensity. Outside, under the vast starlit prarie skies, the magic in the music was manifest tenfold. Hope Mercy sat in the midst of them like the center of a lopsided circle, the pivot of their inspiration. Swaying from side to side and with her eyes gently shut; she wove her pretty head of wild womans hair in easy circles with one hand and with the other rubbed Prince Albert’s fat belly as he lay sprawled out with lolling tongue on her lap.

The following night the band secured a gig at The Straw Hat which was south of Austin in a town called Hate. For the first time ever Hope chose not to attend. “Im not going tonight,” she stated bluntly as we pulled in behind the club “I don’t feel well. Im just gonna stay in here with the Prince.” She squeezed the mutt’s cheeks as he dozed on her lap then lifted him up to her face and kissed his muzzle. Seeing this always sickened Solomon to the point that he closed his eyes and turned away like a man turning from bloody death. “How can I kiss the same lips that kiss that beast?” He asked himself aloud as he strolled off the bus.

If I had been raised differently, in a family I could remember and piece together, I might have handled things differently or I might at least have had that option. As it was I played the part of the helpless pawn awaiting destiny. I snuck back out to the bus as the band began to play and found Hope on her bunk weaping softly while Price Albert kissed away her tears. “I’m pregnant Wesley.” She said to me. “I’m going to have a baby.” “Whose?” I asked stupidly. She turned her face away and sobbed. “I don’t know.”





10

Sometimes you get the feeling things are coming to an end, like a river flowing towards a waterfall, but your wrong. It’s just the rumble of existance echoing up the canyon housing a turn. I had that feeling about sundown as we approached within reading distance a little green sign on a white post by the road: Green River, no population. Matthew pulled over directly in front of it and studied it closely. I looked around at the fields and buttes and mountain ranges far away, all wild and without fences. I could see for miles in every direction. No house nor shed nor building, even in ruins, stood anywhere. “This can’t be.” The twins said in usison, since this was where they where born. Hope quietly opened the curtain above her bunk and peered out at the desserted former metropolis. It was about six months into her pregnancy and she was more beautiful and mysterious than ever. The road however, is no place for an expecting mother and she had become silently distant and withdrawn. She rarely left the bus except to empty her bladder or take Prince Albert to empty his. Matthew and Derek had both become such excellent drivers that I began to regret the day that I suggested they learn. I was feeling useless and overpaid, though in truth at the end of my time with the Solomon Grundy Band I was scarcely more wealthy that when I’d begun. Often they would switch off late at night without even slowing. It was an intricate and dangerous manuever that involved the one driving to maintain speed by keeping his foot on the pedal while simoltaneously crouching beneath the other one who had taken control of the wheel. Finally the one who had taken the wheel would slide into the seat and put his foot on the pedal at the exact moment that the other one removed his. It required percise timing and perfect communication though they never spoke a word while they did it, not aloud at any rate, and where usually drunk as hell. On this occasion though it was I who took the wheel to take us away from Green River, Iowa. Like myself, the Mercy family was now without a home.

Around that time it was becoming increasingly difficult to secure gigs. The ban was spreading like wildfire into even the most remote areas of the country and we had already been to every backwater bar and shithole club left at least twice. The people remembered the band and where learning to stay away.


11

Solomon and Hope where married by an old black preacher named Reverand Bosephus in an all black pentecostal church in Goats Milk, Alabama one Sunday morning in April. Sol paid him a hundred dollars in cash money and some of the woman brought us acorn cakes and tea after the ceremony.

No Future stayed in the van so as not to startle the paritioners. By then he was completely covered in tattoos, such that no skin showed. His head and beard where shaved and colered dark green with scales like those of a snake and his ears where tatooed black so that against his reptillian skull they almost couldn’t be seen.

As we exited the church there was an old dust caked squad car with idling engine and two of Goat’s Milk’s finest with pistol drawn waiting for Derek and Matthew. Apparently the sheriff had been in attendance that fateful morning and had recognized the infamous Mercy Twins who where wanted for conspiracy to commit arson, and the success of that act, in the incineration of the school for wayward children in Meeganville, Iowa twelve years previous. The headmaster and headmistress had perished in the blaze. Foresightedly Derek, who had been driving, tossed me the keys to the bus upon his capture. Seeing the commotion No Future came came out of hiding and began screaming obscenities at the arresting officers while Prince Albert barked furiously at his feet. Thinking him a demon and Prince Albert a hound of Hell, they shot them both in the parking lot of the Goat’s Milk Holiness Tabernacle in Goats Milk, Alabama.

12

No Future survived the shooting but was refused medical attention by the good people of Goat’s Milk on the grounds that he was a servant of the devil and thus should die. With his blood on my hands and chest, I drove us like Hell on wheels to the next nearest town while Hope and Dess tried to keep him calm. There wasn’t much else they could do for him as he’d been shot in the gut. Shorty was hysterical. He kept shouting “Goddamnedhickcommybastards!” between fits of weaping and indecipherable prayers. Solomon sat indian-style on the floor, just scowling or perhaps praying silently.

Around dusk, out of fear for the life of my friend, I pulled over amid a thicket of pine trees in front of Bertha’s Lodge in a town called Fate. I ran inside and started banging the small bell that sat on the desk. No matter how hard I banged on it a tiny, feminine “ding” sound was all it could muster. Out of frustration I picked it up and started slamming it against the desk while screaming for help. An impossibly old man, a hundred and one at least, came sleepily out from a back room behind the desk. “What can I do ya fer my boy?” He asked with a cheerful but puzzled and maybe slightly frightened grin. “My friend has been shot in the gut.” I said to him, nearly bawling. “He is very strong but has lost a lot of blood. I fear that without prompt attention he will die within the hour.” It took a few seconds for what I’d said to register in his pale blue eyes but when it did the genuine concern and alertness I saw in them was enough to bring unexpected tears of relief. Miraculously the only other question he asked me was where we had parked so that he could relay the information to Bertha when he got her on the line.

Bertha was the owner and propreter of Bertha’s Lodge in Fate, Alabama. She was a huge, jolly woman with a puff of bright red hair and a hearty, melodic laugh that was as infectious as it was endearing. She told dirty jokes and worked like a man but could also be as gentle as a lamb when the situation called for it. A big crow, the biggest I’d ever laid eyes on, stayed with her there scaring the poor tourists, societal misfits, and freaks who camped at Bertha’ Lodge for a dollar a day. For their dollar they got a good sized lot to camp on, unlimited propane for cooking, access to a combination café/bar/gas station that was connected to the lodge, and a shower house where you put coins in a scummy slot attached to a knob that you turned to the number of minutes you wanted to pay for. People with more money stayed inside the lodge proper which was quite luxurious for those days. The richest guest stayed in rooms with king-sized beds and private shower baths with everlasting water. These where the sort of rooms Bertha put us up in. No Future, Hope, and Solomon in one room, Dess and Shorty and I in another.

On the second morning we where there she put us to work, Dess and Shorty and I, as payment for the rooms. Apparently Solomon was helping Bertha take care of No Future and Hope, who was about ready to pop. While picking up litter in a recently evacuated lot, I spotted the big crow pecking the side of a little pup tent where two honeymooners slept. A giggling girl crawled out of the tent as the animal cawed a sound like wicked laughter. “Oh Jasper, come look!” She squeeled, “Come see this crow!” As she beseeched her husband, the bride reached for the bird to pet it; it hopped onto the peak of the tent and pecked her hand; she jerked back and laughed. “Jasper, bring some bread!” When the young man offered the bread to the bird, it started squawking and hopping around in wild circles. They both laughed. Then the animal leapt onto Jasper’s arm and up to his shoulder. It pecked his eye and he shrieked and fell rolling to the earth with the bag of bread in his hand and the giant bird attached firmly to his thick tufts of curly black hair. The sight of blood finally got me moving but Dess was already there with a swift and powerful kick that knocked the beast cleanly off the poor boys bloody mane, then he stomped on its neck with the heel of his big black rubber boot. Solomon was forced to move into our room to make way for Jasper and his bride in Bertha’ makeshift infirmary suite.

Later that night we had a double funeral for Bulldog the giant crow and Prince Albert the ugly dog beside the Teslin River, which flowed into a bog behind Bertha’s Lodge.
Hope sat by lantern light, cradling the Prince in her arms. Bertha had pickled him in a green glass ten-gallon jug that had once held the fetus of a king. The lable said, “Fetus of Giant Oceanic King.” For a brief time it was utterly dead silent except for the sound of our breathing and the sighing of the mighty Teslin River in the deep vale below. But then Shorty, now seated on the needle-strewn ground, began softly to mourn from his lungs and belly, a sound of pure sorrow and hopelessness that is impossible to write down or even describe. His desperation seemed less theatric and more sincere than it had been the first time I saw him by the side of the highway after the death of the former driver Jonah. “You’re a hell of a drummer.” I said to him, but hy then he was crying so hard that he couldn’t make sense of it. Or maybe the comment merely fueled whatever fire was burning his body and searing his soul. I’ll never know or even pretend to understand what makes a drummer tick. Dess went to the trees and vomited.

On the evening of our fifth day at Bertha’s Lodge Hope gave birth to a baby boy and named him Albert after the ugly mutt whom I’d bought with stolen money and who had been so named because of a mole on his penis. Solomon held her hand during the delivery but later that night hung himself in our room while the rest of us ate. We had all wondered aloud where he was during supper as well as afterwards while we drank whiskey and smoked cigars to celebrate the birth. Drunk as hell and toting my cup I barely managed to make it up the stairs to find out, finally, what was going on with Solomon. Giggling like a schoolgirl I knocked gently on the door. When nobody answered I rapped hard on the hollow-core wood and shouted, laughing, “Hey Sol, Your’e a pa! Play us a ditty!” Still no answer so I fumbled with my key and opened the door. I found him suspended by a thread from a ceiling hook with his guitar leaning against the chair below his toes. I found five strings on the instrument, where there had been six.

We buried Solomon alonsdide Prince Albert the dog and Bulldog the crow on the banks of the Teslin River, which runs into a bog behind Bertha’s Lodge in Fate, Alabama.



13

Albert had his mother’s hair, the decievingly dark brown hair that looks black but isnt. He had her opal eyes and almond skin as well. He didn’t look like anyone else but her. I suppose her gypsy blood was just too strong to be diluted.

Within a month No Future was well enough to play with his nephew and take meals with the rest of us though all he could eat was mushed up bannanas and water. He wore the scar on his belly proudly like a tattoo. It resembled a rotten eye.

One night as we sat round the kitchen table at supper Bertha offered us permanent jobs at the lodge, which she told us point blank that she was planning to “doll up” and change the character of completely. She said we where the best help she’d ever had and that she would gladly provide us with a small wage as well as room and board. She also wanted to keep Hope on as a “hostess curio” to tell fortunes and read palms for her paying guest. “What about No Future?” Hope asked reluctantly. “Well,” Bertha said, looking at the completely naked boy where he sat eating his banannas at the head of the table, “what can you do?” Embaressed, he excused himself and retreated to his room. “He can’t read.” Hope told her, “and has never applied for a job.” “That explains a lot.” Bertha said very sincerely. Then, gazing after No Future as if the shifting pair of tortoises tatooed on his buttocks where still there, she said, “He lives in a world of pictures.”


14


No Future stayed on as a bartender at Bertha’s Lodge which she called Angel Fire Lodge after the renovations were complete. Hope, being entitled to Solomon’s earthly posessions, sold the bus to Jasper and his wife for five thousand dollars and threw in everything else: the musical instruments and equiipment, camping supplies, foodstuffs and bunks, as a belated wedding present. Not a bad trade seeing as, according to Dess, Solomon had bought the bus and all it contained for five-hundred dollars from a backslidden preacher who’d planned to destroy it all if he couldn’t sell it.

Dess and Shorty stayed on for a while but troubadoring was in their blood and in the spring they met some other musicians who where staying at the lodge and set out with them for Canada to start another band. Rock and roll shows are legal over there. I often wonder how they fared.

I never really decided to stay at the lodge permanently but it was a good job, the kind of thing you just can’t hardly find if you go out looking for it. Hope and I where married on her twenty-fifth birthday in front of a congregation of misfits and wanderers who happened to be camping there at the time. Bertha, who is not actually a priest, presided over the ceremony so I suppose it was never really legal, but I’ve never had much use for matters of legality anyhow. Albert grew up strong and remembered his family.






























Queen Of Gypsies by Aaron Teel
1

We lived on the outskirts of society and where notoriously wild. Rock and Roll shows still traveled in those days, but because of their subversivness were banned in most places. As a result we were forced to work the more austere, remote corners of the country. Underground clubs without names built alongside dingy whorehouses in red light districts all across this nation. We each had criminal backgrounds of varying consequence, each of us where outcast, each of us where desperately grasping for any opportunity when The Solomon Grundy Band came along.

I had been sleeping in my tent, which I had intentionally set up exactly on the border of North and South Dakota so that I could sleep suspended between two states, when I was woken by the sound of their dilapidated bus sputtering to a stop on the other side of the highway. I poked my head out, squinting my eyes against the early morning sun, and watched the commotion. The small door at the front of the bus banged open and three ragged looking musicians leapt out. You can always spot a musician, or at least I can. Their clothes for one; though dirty, were incredibly bright and adorned with intricately sewn patterns, the sort of which you never see in the shops. God knows where they find them. I even knew which one was the drummer; the one flailing about wildly, leaping up and down and yelling frantic obscenities while the other two dragged the unconscious driver from the bus. Tears ran from his eyes in an unbridled stream and he eventually collapsed to the asphalt in an overly dramatic fainting motion. This is to say nothing negative of drummers; they are simply unable to contain themselves. Cautiously, I emerged from my tent and crossed the highway. The two musicians trying to help the driver were as oblivious to my approach as they were to the antics of the third. They were bent over his body and saying prayers in foreign tongues while slapping him about the chest and face. It would have been comical if not for their sincerity. I stood by and watched silently for fear of disturbing their prayers. This went on for several minutes before they bowed their heads and finally gave up. The drummer was still out cold. "How do you do?" I asked, unable to think of anything better. The two musicians where sitting cross-legged on the pavement and staring at their hands. They looked bewildered and lost and my heart broke for them. There was an extended moment of awkward silence before one of them finally looked up at me and gave a response. "We are not good," he said flatly.


That was how I came to meet the band: Solomon, Shorty, and Dess. Solomon, the one who spoke to me, was the guitarist, composer, and iron fisted leader of the band. He had long, dirty red hair and a handsome face crowned by penetrating crystal blue eyes. Dess, the bass player, unable to speak through his grief, was introduced to me by Solomon, as was Shorty, the overexcited drummer, as he was still unconscious. I introduced myself as Wesley, a name I had read at the end of a dew soaked letter I found on a highway and decided to keep, as good a name as any. After a while Solomon and Dess and I set about to bury the driver whose name turned out to be Jonah. They supposed it had been a heart attack, feasible, as he was obscenely overweight and heavy. We dragged him under a bypass about a hundred yards from the bus and half-heartedly covered him with rocks and leaves. Dess began to cry and Solomon said a few more prayers I couldn't understand. When we returned to the bus Shorty was awake and full of questions. "Sol, Sol, What the hell are we gonna do now man? Whose gonna drive the bus? How the hell are we gonna get out of here?" and so on. I took this opportunity to offer my services although I had never driven anything larger than a broken down go-kart taken from an abandoned carnival, a faded memory. They gracefully accepted my offer and promised to pay me immediately after their next performance in Bigmouth North Dakota, though no specifics where discussed. I retrieved my pack containing all my worldly posessions from my tent, which had been my home, and left it there beside the highway meaning to return to it one day. For all I know it may still be there. From then on out faith was the road under my wheels at every turning, lit by a tendency to go too far.


By the time we reached Bigmouth I was a fairly good driver though my companions had deduced my lack of experience behind the wheel. Along the way they regaled me with tales of their recent hardships. They had been traveling as a crew of six, including Jonah the driver and two roadies who had made off with several months worth of earnings and much of the bands equipment; presumably to pawn for money. The band where still reeling from this betrayal and had not played a gig in many weaks. They had driven penniless all the way from Texas, stealing gas and begging for food along the way, only to have their driver they’d keel when they where almost there. I wondered silently how a man of his size could survive so long on so little food but refrained from asking out of respect. "You'll find new roadies in Bigmouth," I assured them, "North Dakotans are by and large a trustworthy people."


2

I had a little money saved from my last job selling Christmas trees in Wyoming, and decided to buy lunch for my new employers as a gesture of my gratitude. There was only one restaurant in Bigmouth, a town I knew well. I parked the bus in front of the Horn of Plenty and we went inside. The Horn was about half full but the locals were congregating around the bar. We sat down at an isolated booth by a large window looking out onto Main St. The band where ravenous and ate without speaking which suited me fine. We all had chitlins and gravy at the suggestion of our waitress who told us her name was Hope. After the meal we bonded over several pitchers of beer, the way men do. Solomon spoke eloquently of his music and determination to continue despite recent circumstances. He warned me that life on the road with them would be hard and strange. The shadows outside began to gather as time slipped away without our noticing. I paid the bill and tipped Hope a fiver, which is more than my usual custom. Solomon told her about the show and she promised to try and make it although her shift didn't end for another hour. "That's alright," he said, "we play a fairly long set." At first I had thought her hair to be black but when she leaned over our table the sun hit it and I noticed it was really a dark shade of brown. It's funny how sometimes a woman's beauty will hit you straight away like a slap in the face and sometimes is just sneaks up on you slowly, growing more potent every time you look. That's the way it was with Hope.

It took longer than anticipated to locate the venue, a small ramshackle nightclub on the outskirts of town. It was called Tears in a Bucket, which struck me as being perfect. I pulled around back and we quickly unloaded the sparse set of equipment the band had been left with. I had sort of feared for the turnout of a rock and roll show in a town of this size, but was surprised to see a considerable crowd of about forty kids gathered in front of the stage. Solomon spoke briefly to the soundman, the lights went down, and the band began to play. The hum of the chatter in the room was instantly silenced and the people just coming down the stairs and into the club froze in their tracks as a multitude of jaws soundlessly dropped. Maybe I have exaggerated that in my mind as so often happens with the passing of time, but I don’t think so. In any event it was the strangest, most beautiful music I had ever heard in my whole sorry life. There where no words to the songs, nor any singer as you might expect, but Solomon’s melodys stretched out for miles, coming down on us in shimmering waves of sound that where cemented by Short’s hypnotic drumming and Dess’ gut rattling bass lines around which everthing revolved like planets around the sun. The songs would seem to speed up and slow down as if they where being played underwater and then Solomon’s guitar would build and tremble and fill every space possible in the tiny club and behind our eyes. He never spoke a single word to the crowd. When the lights came back up, hours later, there where about ten people, the bartender, the soundman, and myself included left in the audience. It was like waking up. We were looking around at each other, blinking and smiling stupidly. There seemed to be a communal bond between us because of what we had just witnessed. I can't tell you why so many people left, or why that would continue to happen everywhere that they played in the years to come. Perhaps it was just too much for them, sensory overload. It doesn't matter. Shorty was taking apart his kit; Dess and Solomon were moving about the small stage, wrapping up wires and preparing to reload. I wanted to help them but my feet seemed to be frozen in place.

Hope broke my paralysis. She walked right up to me and just stood there like an orphan cat. At first I didn't recognize her, so drastic was the change in her appearance from the restaurant. She wore a fancy blue dress, older that the hills, that emphasized her beauty but could not hide her country innocence. Her hair, which looked black but I knew wasn't, lay across her shoulders like melted chocolate; real combed, not finger combed. Her eyes were glistening with tears, nearly glowing in the smoky darkness of the club. They reminded me of the color the skies had been in Wyoming early in the morning, a matchless pure blue I had never expected to see anywhere else. She had clearly been moved by the band's performance. "It’s like home." She said. Her words were soft and wet with emotion but I didn't know what she meant. "Yes, I know." I said, feeling ignorant. She just stood there with tears in her eyes, hugging herself as if she was cold, waiting for me to say something. I've never been able to talk to woman. I noticed she had some people with her, three young healthy looking men stealing glances at us. I wondered if she wanted me to introduce them to the band. She stunned me by reading my mind, the way my mother once did. "You're wondering about those boys I'm with aren't you." "No." "They're my brothers. They want to come with you when you leave," she said, blushing, "and so do I."


3

After the band had been paid and the equipment loaded, we all piled into the bus and headed back to the small house where Hope lived with her brothers. She served us tea and homemade acorn bread while Derek, Matthew, and No Future talked about music with the band. As there was no furniture we all sat on the floor. Derek and Matthew were twins. Once told this I never doubted it, though physically, they looked nothing alike. Derek had a long blonde mane, baby-fine, which hung down to his chin when his small ears failed to hold it in place. Matthews’s head was shaved. Derek was tall and lanky, very thin. Matthew was about medium height, several inches shorter than his brother, and of a substantial build. But they acted alike. They were very quiet, yet when they did speak, their mannerisms, hand movements, and facial expressions were like mirror images. At twenty-six they were the oldest. Hope was twenty, and No Future; a hard looking figure with spiky blonde hair and many tattoos, was only seventeen. At some point the tea became liquor and the mood became festive. We swapped stories of run-ins with Johnny Law and narrow escapes from death. We traded the stories of our lives the way children trade baseball cards, letting go with a sigh.

Taking turns in the quiet, subliminal way that they had, Derek and Matthew told us of their early upbringing in the middle class suburb of Green River, Iowa. They were the firstborn sons to Elizabeth and Colson Mercy. Their mother, whom they spoke of with a reverence unmatched by any holy man that I've encountered, was a teacher and a saint, and their father worked as an insurance salesman, a noble trade that had all but vanished in the intervening years. They admitted to commiting wanton acts of willful violence for money in their youth told and told us of their difficulty finding work in Bigmouth due to their criminal records. They pleaded with Solomon to hire them on as roadies and allow for their younger brother and sister to come along without pay. I could tell they where on the run and secretly admired them though I admit my attention wavered. I could not keep my eyes nor my mind off Hope, who was sitting by the fireplace and sipping hot tea mixed with rum from a wooden bowl that was carved to resemble the shell of an ancient turtle. She looked like a gypsy queen from some blackened clan of mysterious and romantic origin. I thought she must be a wandering Madonna blessing us with her presence or a weird angel momentarily distracted by the mad lives of strange little innocents. I closed my eyes and imagined her wings as she flew through hell and made the damned souls swoon.

I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare having to do with wild dogs breeding in the wombs of woman. I lay still for an unknowable amount of time and tried to remember where I was. My head ached dully and my bladder was full to bursting but I was paralyzed with fear and displacement. Finally, unable to take the suspense any longer I retrieved a book of matches from my pack which was my also my pillow and struck one. In a flash I saw Hope hunkered down in a dark corner, surrounded by mice who seemed to be consuming her, and she was smiling at me with eyes that pierced straight through to my heart and froze it in mid-beat. "Hope!" I gasped as the match burnt my thumb and I dropped it. I fumbled another match from the book and in a flash it was lit, but she was gone. I half-heartedly scanned the shadows for her, but apparently she had only been an apparition, a thing that seems to be but isn't, except in the mind. I almost believed it. I made my way outside to piss into the cold North Dakota night and then went cautiously back to my place on the floor. I stepped on something, Dess it turned out, and he let out a sharp grunt but didn't wake up. I lit one more match to search for a blanket. The only one I saw was being used by Shorty but he had passed out well before me and I thought he probaly wouldnt notice if it was gone. I was wearing my clothes and moccasins but winter had come on when we werent looking and the wind was blowing hard enough to carol in the eves.

Wrapped up tighter that a papoose in a stolen blanket I let bittersweet sleep take me where it would, though I hoped to be through with the wild dogs and woman eating mice.
In the morning I woke to the sight of Hope walking away from me through rising steam like a ghost over a freshly baked blueberry cobbler. I said "Thanks," but she must not of heard me, or if she did she walked back into the kitchen and didn't respond. I didn't mind. I woke the band and we ate a hot breakfast fit for kings.


I folded my stolen blanket, combed my hair with my fingers, and put my pack in the bus. Derek and Matthew set about packing bags for themselves and their two siblings who were busily preparing the house for its long season of emptiness. I could tell Solomon was growing impatient with the delay. He sat in a corner Indian-style, mumbling quietly to himself and scowling at Shorty and Dess who where louldly playing patty-cake and chanting something ridiculous. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. The blissful intimacy of the night before had been replaced by an awkwardness like waking up married to a stranger. “We should go soon,” said Sol finally, “we have a long road ahead of us.” This was true. I think it must be hard for people to leave their homes though I wouln’t know.


4

We were headed for Oregon where the band had secured gigs in Seaside, Bearhead, and somepace called Baby’s Arm though we never found that one. The other two though, went off without a hitch, beautifully in fact. I came to discover that no two perfomances by the Solomon Grundy band were ever quite the same. The differences where often subtle, and were entirely dependant upon Sol’s moods which swung wildly, but the overall effect was always breathtaking. Again though, only a handful of adventurous souls remained when the house lights came up, strangely a fact that never seemed to bother the band. Those who did stay however, where so enthusiastic in their appreciation they would often insist on giving the band money and gifts, which Solomon accepted gracefully. The show at Bearhead was lucrative enough, both from the house take and the donations, that Solomon decided we could stay one night at a local Bed and Breakfast before moving on, in celebration of our new beginning. They would have never allowed all eight of us to stay in one room, which was all we could afford, so Solomon and Hope went in together and the rest of us stayed in the bus to be retrieved later, when the “coast was clear”. Shorty lit a hash pipe and passed it around. Funny how musicians, no matter how poor, always seem to have hash. “Good fucking show tonight, man,” said No Future to Dess as he took the pipe from him and inhaled deeply like an old pro. He held the smoke in his lungs as he spoke so that his words took on real form and shape, falling up from his lips in slow grey swirls. “You guys should be famous.” He said, which was ridiculous but true. We sat that way for an unknown length of time, the six of us in a circle at the back of the bus among a tangle of wires and various exotic instruments, smoking hash and speaking in the hushed, exctatic tones of tones of irreverant children cutting up in church. Inevitably my thoughts turned to Hope and I was anxious to get up to the room. I asked Dess if he thought Sol would be coming to get us soon and he turned to face me slowly. “How in hell can I know a thing like that?” He spat the words at me, discusted with the taste of them, “You’re an obnoxious twat Wesley, we should have left you on that highway.” I was dumbfounded for a response although looking back on it now I can think of a million and one humdingers. I just sat there though, staring back at him with my mouth agape. Derek came to my rescue. “Hash makes you mean Dess,” he said “a downright prick really, you shouldn’t smoke it.” Dess turned to him and his eyes narrowed to bloodshot slits, “I’ll shoot you in the face!” He shouted. We burst into stunned laughter at the absurdity of it all. “That’s enough!” We all jumped. Solomon stood with the big door open at the back of the bus looking at us like some haggard old suburban pappa in the midst of a long and hairy family vacation. “ You bastards are stoned out of your minds. I could hear you all the way across the parking lot sounding like a pack of maniacs.” “Sorry, Sol,” I muttered, “We where just talking.” He stood there shaking his head for a maddeningly long time and thinking God knows what, then finally said “Between loose talk and silence, opt for silence.” A phrase I have carried with me like a postcard ever since, I don’t know why. Some things just stick in your head like a fleck of broomstraw driven through a telephone pole by a tornado. After a few more awkward seconds of silence he told us to “keep it down” and left us there to sleep in the cold bus as he went back up to the room, back up to Hope.

I had a hard time sleeping that night. Every time I closed my eyes I saw Hope Mercy, naked and shimmering, bathed in the milky white moonlight coming in through the open window, gasping in Solomon’s skinny troubador arms. Jealousy is not an emotion I was familiar with. Its sting was too much for feeble heart to bear.

Somehow though, I know I must have eventually fallen asleep because I woke up the next day.

There was a brief but terrifying moment when Sol was ready to go that I couldn’t find my pack. Understand that all my worldly belongings were contained within that pack, which I had carried with me for so long that I could no longer remember when, or even where, I had aquired it. It must have been made of muleskin or something equally sturdy because it never split or tore or faded. In it I carried a second, identical pair of Levi’s and a nice pair of special occasion slacks taken off a manequin in a dead Texas town, a seashell from galveston so I could listen to the ghost of the sea, several Buddhist texts taken from a burned out monestary and a book of wisdom which I carried for culture but rarely consulted, a picture purported to be of my mom and dad (ripped), a sack of marbles for their texture, a journal and pencil, a money clip, a canteen, a sack for acorns, a nutcracker, the keys to the bus, and whatever else I found, took, or bought. Somehow, during the night, it had gotten knocked under Shorty’s bunk and I had to climb all the way under to get it out. My relief in finding it was enouth to temporarily take my mind off Hope as we set out for Poetry Massacheusetts. I drove straight through the day and into the night to make up for lost time and spoke nary a word to anyone save myself. I went into a sort of road daze with with my hands on the wheel, my eyes on the painted lines, and my mind somewhere else entirely.

That night, as the band slept, Derek and Matthew went out to search for whiskey. Hope produced a Gideon Bible from under her bunk that she had taken from the room at the Bed and Breakfast in Bearhead and, because No Future couldn’t read, not even the wise tattoos on his arms, and Solomon was already asleep, she asked me to read from it. As I read the Sermon on the Mount, whose meanings rang so clear I could lift my eyes from the page and still be reading, I glanced up at Hope bare-armed in a velveteen nithtgown with the jewel-black Massacheusetts night like a pillow-frame around her. My mouth and lungs kept reading as she reached over and held my hand. This left one hand for the book.


5

Poetry, Antwerp, Chantilly, Hector, Glorious Divide, Broken Neck, Shotgun, Simpleton, Copper Ball, Bad Kitty, Wanderlust, Skakespear, Golden Nugget, Hank, Heartache, Whyso Sad, Morning Glory, No Shit, No Buddhist, Blackjack, Lucky Lady, Coldspot, True, Loudmouth, Fearsome Beaver, Corn-mo, Zen-No-Mo, Laughter, Heaven, Iota, Hardhead, Nonplussed, Stormin’ Norman, Martha, Capello, Tuesday, Russia (Ark.), Homestead, Meander, Confucious, Virginity, Fritz…

None too sacred, these towns. For years I’ve thought about their names. Where has it gotten me?

Dave, Medicine Hat, Abandonment, Zero Interest, Drunken Indian, Harlot…

Oh Lord, the smell of perfume mixed with shit and hay on the streets of those places! We never belonged.

Amazingly, even in towns where the money had run out years before, people would come to see the band. The crowds in fact, grew quite large as time wore on and there notoriety as a live act grew. No matter that most people never stayed to the end, they had already paid and couldn’t get their money back.

Most nights Solomon and Hope made love in the bunk that they shared. When this happened I closed my eyes and ears and tried to remember scenes from my youth, fragmented though they where, they offered some consolation.


6

“I sure wish I had me a little dog,” said Hope one morning after an all night show in Big Rita Wisconsin. We’d been together as a group for a while, years maybe. Certainly years in the end. It was the middle of summer, August probalbly, and hot. No Future, Hope, Shorty, Dess, and I had just finished our Sunday morning Bible reading and where sitting down to a breakfast of beans and franks with seven-grain bread which we ate under a public shelter roof that housed wooden picnic tables and a working concrete water fountain. I looked at her, with bean juice on her chin and mischief in her eyes, and I loved her the way a dying man loves life, with all his ignorant heart.

I knew Sol was holding out on us, we all knew. He kept the money in a wooden cigar box and stashed it in his guitar case. He doled out to us what he thought we needed and horded the rest. I never objected. Solomon and the twins had walked into town to buy food and other necessities. I climbed onto the bus and headed straight for the guitar case. The Queen of Gypsies wanted a dog, by god she would have one!

I slipped out the back door and headed into town. When finally I came upon the Lucky Duck pet store in Big Rita Wisconsin it was very nearly noon. The sign on the door said “Open”, so I did. The air conditioning hit me like a kick in the chest and I froze in my clothes, soaked through with sweat from the heat of the day. It was damn noisy in there also, and stank. “I need a dog.” I said aloud and a rainbow feathered bird told me to go to hell. I had never been cussed by a bird and was a little startled. “I need a dog!” I said again, louder, ignoring the bird. An old man carrying a bucket came out of a back room and stared at me quizzically. “I need a dog.” I repeated for a record third time, but quieter. “Hells bells,” said the old man kindly, “why didntcha’ say so?” He put down his bucket filled with what I don’t know, and walked toward the front of the store. I stood my ground, not wanting to get too close to the old lunatic. “What kinda dog ya aimin’ to get young fella, we got all kinds.” He stood holding his arms out to a line of cages filled with various canines and looking at me. “Something small,” said I “a gypsy dog.” He opened a rather large cage with several small pups in it and pulled a sad-eyed, brown dachound from there midst. “Lookit this hear weiner dog,” he cackled, “aint he cute?” He held the dog up by the neck for my inspection and I came a little closer to get a good look. His tail swayed hopefully back and fourth in a slow arch and he begged me silently to take him home with me. “Nah, weiners are too excitable, what else ya got in there?” He tossed the reject nonchalantly back in the cage, and dug around for another hopeful. “How ‘bout this hear poodle?” He held it up. “Too posh, back in the cage!” I began to enjoy my sense of power over the fate of the helpless animals, but knew I’d have to make a decision soon. I spotted a serious looking little creature in a cage to the left of the old man. He seemed utterly detached from the goings on. While all his captive bretheran where going mad to get my attention he had the demeanor of one who just didn’t give a fuck. “What about that one?” I pointed him out. “That there’s a Sussex spaniel, he’s just a pup but he won’t get much bigger’n that.” “Sussex spaniel,” I repeated under my breath. “I like it, how much?” “Three Hunnerd.” He said. My heart sank. “I’ve only got thirty.” The old bastard laughed. “Well that won’t do will it?” I supposed it wouldn’t but I had to have a dog. “Well what can I get for thirty dollars?” I asked. He looked bemused and ancient. He took me to the back room he had emerged from carrying the mysterious bucket. The smell out front had been bad but back there it was overwhelming. The floor was covered in various kinds of shit and piss, breathing through my mouth I could taste it. He pulled the mongeral from a cardboard box and held him up for my inspection. Leave it said that it was the ugliest creature God ever let pass through the portals of a womb. It appeared to be part pug part pot bellied pig. Its grey fur was matted and filthy. It drew instant pity, even from me. A blind man would have winced upon feeling it for a picture. I reached out and rubbed its mane. It snorted and hare-lipped me. I paid the old thief, grabbed the mutt, and got the hell out of there.

Walking back to the bus I thought about what I would tell Solomon. The dog, though small, was incredibly heavy. I cursed and wished for that spaniel.


7

Solomon and the twins had still not returned when I arrived back at the bus. No Future was gone too, getting another tattoo I found out later. He had taken to getting a new one in every town we played and was quickly running out of skin. A green snake ran down the bridge of his nose to where a pink rose bloomed. On his eyelids were salamanders. Dots, like those on roseate trout, outlined like colored bubbles the creases of his face. A pair of blue snakes wound round his thick neck. He had even had his toenails removed by a podiatrist in Crabapple, California so that the skin beneath them could be tattooed. On those surfaces he had little hands clapping underneath little faces containing the various emotions: fear, hate, envy, love, courage, faith, hope, regret, joy, and despair. Dess and Shorty had gone to see some girls they had met at the show.

I approached the bus cautiously and stuffed the ugly dog in my shirt in hopes of suprising Hope. The doors where locked. I put my face to the window and saw her sleeping naked atop my bunk. Her hair, which by this time hung nearly down to the backs of her thighs, fell off the bed and spread out on the floor like a sleeping cat. Curled up the way she was she looked like a huge infant suffering through a dream. I sort of feared waking her, the way I fear waking anyone, but especially a naked woman, so I quietly stepped away from the bus.

I found a bit of rope in my pack and tied the mutt to a tree. He whimpered pathetically but eventually fell asleep. Seeing all this made me aware of my own weariness and I crawled beneath a picnic table for a nap.

When next I woke it was nearly dusk. In my confusion I sat up too quickly and banged my head hard on the bottom of the table. The mut was barking. I crawled away from the table and stood up slowly. The world was swaying beneath my feet and I saw two of everything. I touched my head and felt blood. Hope stood at the door of the bus, wrapped in an afgan and staring out at us, or one of us. The mut, or me I’m not sure which. She walked toward us slowly; the way people walk in dreams. Blood from my head ran into my eyes and cast the world into a deep crimson red. I took a few steps toward her and passed out cold.

I came to in the familiar warmth of the bus, wrapped in her afghan. My wound had been cleaned and dressed but I had a terrible headache and still felt a little woozy. Perhaps that’s why I did what did. She sat by lantern light on the bunk across from me, cradling the mut in her arms. “Weird angel,” I said to her, fancy words but not loose talk, that just erupted softly from my lips and against my will. I had never talked like that to a woman in my life. She came to sit beside me and pulled me in her arms with a strength woman posess that men can’t see. I said, again unwillingly, “Im thirsty.” And I was. She pressed her mouth against mine and filled me with a liquid like honey, or the precious tears of an angel. It was all the nourishment I needed.

She took me by the hand out way past the picnic tables to an abandoned campsite among the trees. Logs of green live oak cut with hatchets sat in a square around a hole about six feet wide. The earth inside the circle was scorched and black. We made love in the ashes in full view of heaven. I kept looking at a huge oak tree that must have been struck by lightning or partially eaten by termites because its pointed tip hung down like the finger of god identifying our position.

When we returned to the bus there was a party in full swing. Everyone had seemingly returned at once and everyone was drunk. Dess and Shorty had their dates with them and there where others there with Sol and the twins. Noone seemed to have noticed we had been gone or that we where dusted in ash from head to toe. They where all enraptured at the sight of No Future’s newest, penultimate tattoo. He stood in front of the bus, without pants and without shame, holding a lantern in one hand and a beer in the other, posing calmly like Adonis or Michaelangelo’s David if the marble could talk, his eyes glimmering like christmas bulbs in the Coleman lantern light. A tiny rose and a snake on its thorny stem, green and red and black, sat perfectly on the end of his penis. “Snake and Rose,” he said to me proudly. I turned up the lantern light and examined it closely. It had been finely wrought.


8

With his exotic tattoos No Future became something of sideshow attraction for the Solomon Grundy Band. No band member, nor even Derek or Matthew who had developed god-like physiques from lugging around the band’s new equipment, could any longer compete with him for the attention of the most beautiful girls. The tattoos lent him a sense of mystery lacking in the rest of them and with each new addition his confidence grew. His palms were tattooed and he would say to some awestruck farmer’s daughter, “If you place something in it I will show you my hand.” She would take a coin from the pocket of her overalls and he would open his palm to reveal a pink rose. The girl would giggle, want to see other hand, and produce another coin. Slowly, as if engrossed in revelation, No Future would open the other hand to show a coiled-up snake with its red tongue flickering. Often, as in one Friday night in Particulate, Kansas the same farmers’ daughter would return after the show for No Future’s final act. It would be a private shwoing in the trees followed by a swim in the river.


9

It was one of those Sundays when suddenly you wake up and don’t know who you are. For a brief moment the possibilities seemed endless but then I remebered I had never known anything except that I knew that I was nobody and had always known, just forgot. I was the driver for the Solomon Grundy Band, thirty-three years old and a rock and roll gypsy; good enough.

Outside I heard Hope laughing. She sounded like a little girl who had never even known a man, much less been hurt by one. I rolled out of bed and looked out the window. We where parked in a shallow ditch by the highway. Beyond that there was nothing to see in any direction. I slipped on my moccasins and stepped outside.

Hope was wearing the same blue dress she wore the second time I saw her. “It’s Easter,” she said to me in explanation, “I wanted to dress up.” She was holding the mongrel against her chest and she started spinning around in tight, concentric circles. The hem of her dress flowed around her like water and then, as she picked up speed, rose up. She stopped suddenly and set the mutt down. He wabbled away from her like a stumbling drunk. She laughed and clapped her hands, then picked him back up and kissed him squarely on the mouth. He licked her lips but she didn’t move away. By then the mongrel was incredibly fat, still young but with a succesful rock and roll show. He was dubbed Prince Albert by No Future due to the fact that his penis, when exposed, had a tiny mole on it that resembled a stud. Noone ever bothered to ask where he came from. The door opened behind me and Derek and Matthew stepped off the bus. “Its Easter fella’s,” said Hope, swaying back and fourth from dizziness, “Easter Sunday.” I wondered if they where still upset with me about an argument we’d had the night before. It had occurred to me that if one or both of them would learn to drive then we would make much better time by switching off and not having to stop. They didn’t take kindly to the suggestion. “We’re the roadies man, we don’t ask you to load the equipment do we?” “I would though, I’d be glad to help.” “No man, you’re the fucking driver. We’re the roadies and you’re the driver and that it!” Solomon told us to shut up and we did. Dog tired that night; I fell asleep while driving. Usually when that happened I didn’t wreck for some reason and this was no exception. Fortunately the three gas stations we’d passed since crossing the Red River had all been closed and at that very moment we ran out of gas. We just glided off the road and into this ditch, by chance or fate, in Po Toe Texas. I didn’t then and still don’t now remember waking up and going to bed, but I must have because that’s where I woke up. Things like that didn’t bother me as much then as they do now. I went inside and put on my special occasion slacks. Then I grabbed the Gideon Bible from my pack, whose white leather cover was now broken and tattered, and whose gold was now rubbed off the pages, and went back outside to conduct a special Easter Sunday bible study. The others drifted out slowly, Solomon as always the last to rise.

After bible study and breakfast the twins and I took three dented red gas cans which had been with the band longer than we had and went to find an open gas station. We walked several miles along the highway in the blazing Oklahoma sun saying very little. Tired of feeling like an idiot and with our destination in sight I stopped and offered my hand to them. “Listen, no hard feelings fellas. Its cool if you don’t want to drive and all. It was only a suggestion.” The looked at each other and then back at me. “We’ve been discussing it,” Matthew said matter of factly, “and we don’t want you falling asleep at the wheel anymore. We’ll learn to drive but you can’t help us with the equipment.” “You’re a damn clutz, Wesley.” Derek said. “Fair enough.” Said I, pleased as hell. Later on, on the way back to the bus with our gas cans now so much heavier, I asked them what they meant when they said they had “been discussing it” since none of us had said much of anything up until then. “Earlier”, said Derek. “I meant we discussed it earlier.” He was lying, I knew; I could smell the lie like a fart in a car.

That night we camped outside Austin at a little place called Mosquito-Creek; aptly named at it turned out. We couldn’t stay in Austin proper of course, because even that far south they had put a ban on rock and roll shows. Purportedly Austin had once claimed to be the live music capitol of the world though I can hardly imagine it.
We set up a bonfire and the band played a free set for the young hipsters and vagrants that roamed the streets of Mosquito Creek. The twins wheeled out a small set of amplifiers and speakers that, after a few minutes of tinkering, came to life in a fuzzy squeel of crackling feedback. They played sincerely and with all their hearts and skill. Veins popped out in their foreheads and necks and their fingers plied, plucked and quivered with manic intensity. Outside, under the vast starlit prarie skies, the magic in the music was manifest tenfold. Hope Mercy sat in the midst of them like the center of a lopsided circle, the pivot of their inspiration. Swaying from side to side and with her eyes gently shut; she wove her pretty head of wild womans hair in easy circles with one hand and with the other rubbed Prince Albert’s fat belly as he lay sprawled out with lolling tongue on her lap.

The following night the band secured a gig at The Straw Hat which was south of Austin in a town called Hate. For the first time ever Hope chose not to attend. “Im not going tonight,” she stated bluntly as we pulled in behind the club “I don’t feel well. Im just gonna stay in here with the Prince.” She squeezed the mutt’s cheeks as he dozed on her lap then lifted him up to her face and kissed his muzzle. Seeing this always sickened Solomon to the point that he closed his eyes and turned away like a man turning from bloody death. “How can I kiss the same lips that kiss that beast?” He asked himself aloud as he strolled off the bus.

If I had been raised differently, in a family I could remember and piece together, I might have handled things differently or I might at least have had that option. As it was I played the part of the helpless pawn awaiting destiny. I snuck back out to the bus as the band began to play and found Hope on her bunk weaping softly while Price Albert kissed away her tears. “I’m pregnant Wesley.” She said to me. “I’m going to have a baby.” “Whose?” I asked stupidly. She turned her face away and sobbed. “I don’t know.”





10

Sometimes you get the feeling things are coming to an end, like a river flowing towards a waterfall, but your wrong. It’s just the rumble of existance echoing up the canyon housing a turn. I had that feeling about sundown as we approached within reading distance a little green sign on a white post by the road: Green River, no population. Matthew pulled over directly in front of it and studied it closely. I looked around at the fields and buttes and mountain ranges far away, all wild and without fences. I could see for miles in every direction. No house nor shed nor building, even in ruins, stood anywhere. “This can’t be.” The twins said in usison, since this was where they where born. Hope quietly opened the curtain above her bunk and peered out at the desserted former metropolis. It was about six months into her pregnancy and she was more beautiful and mysterious than ever. The road however, is no place for an expecting mother and she had become silently distant and withdrawn. She rarely left the bus except to empty her bladder or take Prince Albert to empty his. Matthew and Derek had both become such excellent drivers that I began to regret the day that I suggested they learn. I was feeling useless and overpaid, though in truth at the end of my time with the Solomon Grundy Band I was scarcely more wealthy that when I’d begun. Often they would switch off late at night without even slowing. It was an intricate and dangerous manuever that involved the one driving to maintain speed by keeping his foot on the pedal while simoltaneously crouching beneath the other one who had taken control of the wheel. Finally the one who had taken the wheel would slide into the seat and put his foot on the pedal at the exact moment that the other one removed his. It required percise timing and perfect communication though they never spoke a word while they did it, not aloud at any rate, and where usually drunk as hell. On this occasion though it was I who took the wheel to take us away from Green River, Iowa. Like myself, the Mercy family was now without a home.

Around that time it was becoming increasingly difficult to secure gigs. The ban was spreading like wildfire into even the most remote areas of the country and we had already been to every backwater bar and shithole club left at least twice. The people remembered the band and where learning to stay away.


11

Solomon and Hope where married by an old black preacher named Reverand Bosephus in an all black pentecostal church in Goats Milk, Alabama one Sunday morning in April. Sol paid him a hundred dollars in cash money and some of the woman brought us acorn cakes and tea after the ceremony.

No Future stayed in the van so as not to startle the paritioners. By then he was completely covered in tattoos, such that no skin showed. His head and beard where shaved and colered dark green with scales like those of a snake and his ears where tatooed black so that against his reptillian skull they almost couldn’t be seen.

As we exited the church there was an old dust caked squad car with idling engine and two of Goat’s Milk’s finest with pistol drawn waiting for Derek and Matthew. Apparently the sheriff had been in attendance that fateful morning and had recognized the infamous Mercy Twins who where wanted for conspiracy to commit arson, and the success of that act, in the incineration of the school for wayward children in Meeganville, Iowa twelve years previous. The headmaster and headmistress had perished in the blaze. Foresightedly Derek, who had been driving, tossed me the keys to the bus upon his capture. Seeing the commotion No Future came came out of hiding and began screaming obscenities at the arresting officers while Prince Albert barked furiously at his feet. Thinking him a demon and Prince Albert a hound of Hell, they shot them both in the parking lot of the Goat’s Milk Holiness Tabernacle in Goats Milk, Alabama.

12

No Future survived the shooting but was refused medical attention by the good people of Goat’s Milk on the grounds that he was a servant of the devil and thus should die. With his blood on my hands and chest, I drove us like Hell on wheels to the next nearest town while Hope and Dess tried to keep him calm. There wasn’t much else they could do for him as he’d been shot in the gut. Shorty was hysterical. He kept shouting “Goddamnedhickcommybastards!” between fits of weaping and indecipherable prayers. Solomon sat indian-style on the floor, just scowling or perhaps praying silently.

Around dusk, out of fear for the life of my friend, I pulled over amid a thicket of pine trees in front of Bertha’s Lodge in a town called Fate. I ran inside and started banging the small bell that sat on the desk. No matter how hard I banged on it a tiny, feminine “ding” sound was all it could muster. Out of frustration I picked it up and started slamming it against the desk while screaming for help. An impossibly old man, a hundred and one at least, came sleepily out from a back room behind the desk. “What can I do ya fer my boy?” He asked with a cheerful but puzzled and maybe slightly frightened grin. “My friend has been shot in the gut.” I said to him, nearly bawling. “He is very strong but has lost a lot of blood. I fear that without prompt attention he will die within the hour.” It took a few seconds for what I’d said to register in his pale blue eyes but when it did the genuine concern and alertness I saw in them was enough to bring unexpected tears of relief. Miraculously the only other question he asked me was where we had parked so that he could relay the information to Bertha when he got her on the line.

Bertha was the owner and propreter of Bertha’s Lodge in Fate, Alabama. She was a huge, jolly woman with a puff of bright red hair and a hearty, melodic laugh that was as infectious as it was endearing. She told dirty jokes and worked like a man but could also be as gentle as a lamb when the situation called for it. A big crow, the biggest I’d ever laid eyes on, stayed with her there scaring the poor tourists, societal misfits, and freaks who camped at Bertha’ Lodge for a dollar a day. For their dollar they got a good sized lot to camp on, unlimited propane for cooking, access to a combination café/bar/gas station that was connected to the lodge, and a shower house where you put coins in a scummy slot attached to a knob that you turned to the number of minutes you wanted to pay for. People with more money stayed inside the lodge proper which was quite luxurious for those days. The richest guest stayed in rooms with king-sized beds and private shower baths with everlasting water. These where the sort of rooms Bertha put us up in. No Future, Hope, and Solomon in one room, Dess and Shorty and I in another.

On the second morning we where there she put us to work, Dess and Shorty and I, as payment for the rooms. Apparently Solomon was helping Bertha take care of No Future and Hope, who was about ready to pop. While picking up litter in a recently evacuated lot, I spotted the big crow pecking the side of a little pup tent where two honeymooners slept. A giggling girl crawled out of the tent as the animal cawed a sound like wicked laughter. “Oh Jasper, come look!” She squeeled, “Come see this crow!” As she beseeched her husband, the bride reached for the bird to pet it; it hopped onto the peak of the tent and pecked her hand; she jerked back and laughed. “Jasper, bring some bread!” When the young man offered the bread to the bird, it started squawking and hopping around in wild circles. They both laughed. Then the animal leapt onto Jasper’s arm and up to his shoulder. It pecked his eye and he shrieked and fell rolling to the earth with the bag of bread in his hand and the giant bird attached firmly to his thick tufts of curly black hair. The sight of blood finally got me moving but Dess was already there with a swift and powerful kick that knocked the beast cleanly off the poor boys bloody mane, then he stomped on its neck with the heel of his big black rubber boot. Solomon was forced to move into our room to make way for Jasper and his bride in Bertha’ makeshift infirmary suite.

Later that night we had a double funeral for Bulldog the giant crow and Prince Albert the ugly dog beside the Teslin River, which flowed into a bog behind Bertha’s Lodge.
Hope sat by lantern light, cradling the Prince in her arms. Bertha had pickled him in a green glass ten-gallon jug that had once held the fetus of a king. The lable said, “Fetus of Giant Oceanic King.” For a brief time it was utterly dead silent except for the sound of our breathing and the sighing of the mighty Teslin River in the deep vale below. But then Shorty, now seated on the needle-strewn ground, began softly to mourn from his lungs and belly, a sound of pure sorrow and hopelessness that is impossible to write down or even describe. His desperation seemed less theatric and more sincere than it had been the first time I saw him by the side of the highway after the death of the former driver Jonah. “You’re a hell of a drummer.” I said to him, but hy then he was crying so hard that he couldn’t make sense of it. Or maybe the comment merely fueled whatever fire was burning his body and searing his soul. I’ll never know or even pretend to understand what makes a drummer tick. Dess went to the trees and vomited.

On the evening of our fifth day at Bertha’s Lodge Hope gave birth to a baby boy and named him Albert after the ugly mutt whom I’d bought with stolen money and who had been so named because of a mole on his penis. Solomon held her hand during the delivery but later that night hung himself in our room while the rest of us ate. We had all wondered aloud where he was during supper as well as afterwards while we drank whiskey and smoked cigars to celebrate the birth. Drunk as hell and toting my cup I barely managed to make it up the stairs to find out, finally, what was going on with Solomon. Giggling like a schoolgirl I knocked gently on the door. When nobody answered I rapped hard on the hollow-core wood and shouted, laughing, “Hey Sol, Your’e a pa! Play us a ditty!” Still no answer so I fumbled with my key and opened the door. I found him suspended by a thread from a ceiling hook with his guitar leaning against the chair below his toes. I found five strings on the instrument, where there had been six.

We buried Solomon alonsdide Prince Albert the dog and Bulldog the crow on the banks of the Teslin River, which runs into a bog behind Bertha’s Lodge in Fate, Alabama.



13

Albert had his mother’s hair, the decievingly dark brown hair that looks black but isnt. He had her opal eyes and almond skin as well. He didn’t look like anyone else but her. I suppose her gypsy blood was just too strong to be diluted.

Within a month No Future was well enough to play with his nephew and take meals with the rest of us though all he could eat was mushed up bannanas and water. He wore the scar on his belly proudly like a tattoo. It resembled a rotten eye.

One night as we sat round the kitchen table at supper Bertha offered us permanent jobs at the lodge, which she told us point blank that she was planning to “doll up” and change the character of completely. She said we where the best help she’d ever had and that she would gladly provide us with a small wage as well as room and board. She also wanted to keep Hope on as a “hostess curio” to tell fortunes and read palms for her paying guest. “What about No Future?” Hope asked reluctantly. “Well,” Bertha said, looking at the completely naked boy where he sat eating his banannas at the head of the table, “what can you do?” Embaressed, he excused himself and retreated to his room. “He can’t read.” Hope told her, “and has never applied for a job.” “That explains a lot.” Bertha said very sincerely. Then, gazing after No Future as if the shifting pair of tortoises tatooed on his buttocks where still there, she said, “He lives in a world of pictures.”


14


No Future stayed on as a bartender at Bertha’s Lodge which she called Angel Fire Lodge after the renovations were complete. Hope, being entitled to Solomon’s earthly posessions, sold the bus to Jasper and his wife for five thousand dollars and threw in everything else: the musical instruments and equiipment, camping supplies, foodstuffs and bunks, as a belated wedding present. Not a bad trade seeing as, according to Dess, Solomon had bought the bus and all it contained for five-hundred dollars from a backslidden preacher who’d planned to destroy it all if he couldn’t sell it.

Dess and Shorty stayed on for a while but troubadoring was in their blood and in the spring they met some other musicians who where staying at the lodge and set out with them for Canada to start another band. Rock and roll shows are legal over there. I often wonder how they fared.

I never really decided to stay at the lodge permanently but it was a good job, the kind of thing you just can’t hardly find if you go out looking for it. Hope and I where married on her twenty-fifth birthday in front of a congregation of misfits and wanderers who happened to be camping there at the time. Bertha, who is not actually a priest, presided over the ceremony so I suppose it was never really legal, but I’ve never had much use for matters of legality anyhow. Albert grew up strong and remembered his family.











1

We lived on the outskirts of society and where notoriously wild. Rock and Roll shows still traveled in those days, but because of their subversivness were banned in most places. As a result we were forced to work the more austere, remote corners of the country. Underground clubs without names built alongside dingy whorehouses in red light districts all across this nation. We each had criminal backgrounds of varying consequence, each of us where outcast, each of us where desperately grasping for any opportunity when The Solomon Grundy Band came along.

I had been sleeping in my tent, which I had intentionally set up exactly on the border of North and South Dakota so that I could sleep suspended between two states, when I was woken by the sound of their dilapidated bus sputtering to a stop on the other side of the highway. I poked my head out, squinting my eyes against the early morning sun, and watched the commotion. The small door at the front of the bus banged open and three ragged looking musicians leapt out. You can always spot a musician, or at least I can. Their clothes for one; though dirty, were incredibly bright and adorned with intricately sewn patterns, the sort of which you never see in the shops. God knows where they find them. I even knew which one was the drummer; the one flailing about wildly, leaping up and down and yelling frantic obscenities while the other two dragged the unconscious driver from the bus. Tears ran from his eyes in an unbridled stream and he eventually collapsed to the asphalt in an overly dramatic fainting motion. This is to say nothing negative of drummers; they are simply unable to contain themselves. Cautiously, I emerged from my tent and crossed the highway. The two musicians trying to help the driver were as oblivious to my approach as they were to the antics of the third. They were bent over his body and saying prayers in foreign tongues while slapping him about the chest and face. It would have been comical if not for their sincerity. I stood by and watched silently for fear of disturbing their prayers. This went on for several minutes before they bowed their heads and finally gave up. The drummer was still out cold. "How do you do?" I asked, unable to think of anything better. The two musicians where sitting cross-legged on the pavement and staring at their hands. They looked bewildered and lost and my heart broke for them. There was an extended moment of awkward silence before one of them finally looked up at me and gave a response. "We are not good," he said flatly.


That was how I came to meet the band: Solomon, Shorty, and Dess. Solomon, the one who spoke to me, was the guitarist, composer, and iron fisted leader of the band. He had long, dirty red hair and a handsome face crowned by penetrating crystal blue eyes. Dess, the bass player, unable to speak through his grief, was introduced to me by Solomon, as was Shorty, the overexcited drummer, as he was still unconscious. I introduced myself as Wesley, a name I had read at the end of a dew soaked letter I found on a highway and decided to keep, as good a name as any. After a while Solomon and Dess and I set about to bury the driver whose name turned out to be Jonah. They supposed it had been a heart attack, feasible, as he was obscenely overweight and heavy. We dragged him under a bypass about a hundred yards from the bus and half-heartedly covered him with rocks and leaves. Dess began to cry and Solomon said a few more prayers I couldn't understand. When we returned to the bus Shorty was awake and full of questions. "Sol, Sol, What the hell are we gonna do now man? Whose gonna drive the bus? How the hell are we gonna get out of here?" and so on. I took this opportunity to offer my services although I had never driven anything larger than a broken down go-kart taken from an abandoned carnival, a faded memory. They gracefully accepted my offer and promised to pay me immediately after their next performance in Bigmouth North Dakota, though no specifics where discussed. I retrieved my pack containing all my worldly posessions from my tent, which had been my home, and left it there beside the highway meaning to return to it one day. For all I know it may still be there. From then on out faith was the road under my wheels at every turning, lit by a tendency to go too far.


By the time we reached Bigmouth I was a fairly good driver though my companions had deduced my lack of experience behind the wheel. Along the way they regaled me with tales of their recent hardships. They had been traveling as a crew of six, including Jonah the driver and two roadies who had made off with several months worth of earnings and much of the bands equipment; presumably to pawn for money. The band where still reeling from this betrayal and had not played a gig in many weaks. They had driven penniless all the way from Texas, stealing gas and begging for food along the way, only to have their driver they’d keel when they where almost there. I wondered silently how a man of his size could survive so long on so little food but refrained from asking out of respect. "You'll find new roadies in Bigmouth," I assured them, "North Dakotans are by and large a trustworthy people."


2

I had a little money saved from my last job selling Christmas trees in Wyoming, and decided to buy lunch for my new employers as a gesture of my gratitude. There was only one restaurant in Bigmouth, a town I knew well. I parked the bus in front of the Horn of Plenty and we went inside. The Horn was about half full but the locals were congregating around the bar. We sat down at an isolated booth by a large window looking out onto Main St. The band where ravenous and ate without speaking which suited me fine. We all had chitlins and gravy at the suggestion of our waitress who told us her name was Hope. After the meal we bonded over several pitchers of beer, the way men do. Solomon spoke eloquently of his music and determination to continue despite recent circumstances. He warned me that life on the road with them would be hard and strange. The shadows outside began to gather as time slipped away without our noticing. I paid the bill and tipped Hope a fiver, which is more than my usual custom. Solomon told her about the show and she promised to try and make it although her shift didn't end for another hour. "That's alright," he said, "we play a fairly long set." At first I had thought her hair to be black but when she leaned over our table the sun hit it and I noticed it was really a dark shade of brown. It's funny how sometimes a woman's beauty will hit you straight away like a slap in the face and sometimes is just sneaks up on you slowly, growing more potent every time you look. That's the way it was with Hope.

It took longer than anticipated to locate the venue, a small ramshackle nightclub on the outskirts of town. It was called Tears in a Bucket, which struck me as being perfect. I pulled around back and we quickly unloaded the sparse set of equipment the band had been left with. I had sort of feared for the turnout of a rock and roll show in a town of this size, but was surprised to see a considerable crowd of about forty kids gathered in front of the stage. Solomon spoke briefly to the soundman, the lights went down, and the band began to play. The hum of the chatter in the room was instantly silenced and the people just coming down the stairs and into the club froze in their tracks as a multitude of jaws soundlessly dropped. Maybe I have exaggerated that in my mind as so often happens with the passing of time, but I don’t think so. In any event it was the strangest, most beautiful music I had ever heard in my whole sorry life. There where no words to the songs, nor any singer as you might expect, but Solomon’s melodys stretched out for miles, coming down on us in shimmering waves of sound that where cemented by Short’s hypnotic drumming and Dess’ gut rattling bass lines around which everthing revolved like planets around the sun. The songs would seem to speed up and slow down as if they where being played underwater and then Solomon’s guitar would build and tremble and fill every space possible in the tiny club and behind our eyes. He never spoke a single word to the crowd. When the lights came back up, hours later, there where about ten people, the bartender, the soundman, and myself included left in the audience. It was like waking up. We were looking around at each other, blinking and smiling stupidly. There seemed to be a communal bond between us because of what we had just witnessed. I can't tell you why so many people left, or why that would continue to happen everywhere that they played in the years to come. Perhaps it was just too much for them, sensory overload. It doesn't matter. Shorty was taking apart his kit; Dess and Solomon were moving about the small stage, wrapping up wires and preparing to reload. I wanted to help them but my feet seemed to be frozen in place.

Hope broke my paralysis. She walked right up to me and just stood there like an orphan cat. At first I didn't recognize her, so drastic was the change in her appearance from the restaurant. She wore a fancy blue dress, older that the hills, that emphasized her beauty but could not hide her country innocence. Her hair, which looked black but I knew wasn't, lay across her shoulders like melted chocolate; real combed, not finger combed. Her eyes were glistening with tears, nearly glowing in the smoky darkness of the club. They reminded me of the color the skies had been in Wyoming early in the morning, a matchless pure blue I had never expected to see anywhere else. She had clearly been moved by the band's performance. "It’s like home." She said. Her words were soft and wet with emotion but I didn't know what she meant. "Yes, I know." I said, feeling ignorant. She just stood there with tears in her eyes, hugging herself as if she was cold, waiting for me to say something. I've never been able to talk to woman. I noticed she had some people with her, three young healthy looking men stealing glances at us. I wondered if she wanted me to introduce them to the band. She stunned me by reading my mind, the way my mother once did. "You're wondering about those boys I'm with aren't you." "No." "They're my brothers. They want to come with you when you leave," she said, blushing, "and so do I."


3

After the band had been paid and the equipment loaded, we all piled into the bus and headed back to the small house where Hope lived with her brothers. She served us tea and homemade acorn bread while Derek, Matthew, and No Future talked about music with the band. As there was no furniture we all sat on the floor. Derek and Matthew were twins. Once told this I never doubted it, though physically, they looked nothing alike. Derek had a long blonde mane, baby-fine, which hung down to his chin when his small ears failed to hold it in place. Matthews’s head was shaved. Derek was tall and lanky, very thin. Matthew was about medium height, several inches shorter than his brother, and of a substantial build. But they acted alike. They were very quiet, yet when they did speak, their mannerisms, hand movements, and facial expressions were like mirror images. At twenty-six they were the oldest. Hope was twenty, and No Future; a hard looking figure with spiky blonde hair and many tattoos, was only seventeen. At some point the tea became liquor and the mood became festive. We swapped stories of run-ins with Johnny Law and narrow escapes from death. We traded the stories of our lives the way children trade baseball cards, letting go with a sigh.

Taking turns in the quiet, subliminal way that they had, Derek and Matthew told us of their early upbringing in the middle class suburb of Green River, Iowa. They were the firstborn sons to Elizabeth and Colson Mercy. Their mother, whom they spoke of with a reverence unmatched by any holy man that I've encountered, was a teacher and a saint, and their father worked as an insurance salesman, a noble trade that had all but vanished in the intervening years. They admitted to commiting wanton acts of willful violence for money in their youth told and told us of their difficulty finding work in Bigmouth due to their criminal records. They pleaded with Solomon to hire them on as roadies and allow for their younger brother and sister to come along without pay. I could tell they where on the run and secretly admired them though I admit my attention wavered. I could not keep my eyes nor my mind off Hope, who was sitting by the fireplace and sipping hot tea mixed with rum from a wooden bowl that was carved to resemble the shell of an ancient turtle. She looked like a gypsy queen from some blackened clan of mysterious and romantic origin. I thought she must be a wandering Madonna blessing us with her presence or a weird angel momentarily distracted by the mad lives of strange little innocents. I closed my eyes and imagined her wings as she flew through hell and made the damned souls swoon.

I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare having to do with wild dogs breeding in the wombs of woman. I lay still for an unknowable amount of time and tried to remember where I was. My head ached dully and my bladder was full to bursting but I was paralyzed with fear and displacement. Finally, unable to take the suspense any longer I retrieved a book of matches from my pack which was my also my pillow and struck one. In a flash I saw Hope hunkered down in a dark corner, surrounded by mice who seemed to be consuming her, and she was smiling at me with eyes that pierced straight through to my heart and froze it in mid-beat. "Hope!" I gasped as the match burnt my thumb and I dropped it. I fumbled another match from the book and in a flash it was lit, but she was gone. I half-heartedly scanned the shadows for her, but apparently she had only been an apparition, a thing that seems to be but isn't, except in the mind. I almost believed it. I made my way outside to piss into the cold North Dakota night and then went cautiously back to my place on the floor. I stepped on something, Dess it turned out, and he let out a sharp grunt but didn't wake up. I lit one more match to search for a blanket. The only one I saw was being used by Shorty but he had passed out well before me and I thought he probaly wouldnt notice if it was gone. I was wearing my clothes and moccasins but winter had come on when we werent looking and the wind was blowing hard enough to carol in the eves.

Wrapped up tighter that a papoose in a stolen blanket I let bittersweet sleep take me where it would, though I hoped to be through with the wild dogs and woman eating mice.
In the morning I woke to the sight of Hope walking away from me through rising steam like a ghost over a freshly baked blueberry cobbler. I said "Thanks," but she must not of heard me, or if she did she walked back into the kitchen and didn't respond. I didn't mind. I woke the band and we ate a hot breakfast fit for kings.


I folded my stolen blanket, combed my hair with my fingers, and put my pack in the bus. Derek and Matthew set about packing bags for themselves and their two siblings who were busily preparing the house for its long season of emptiness. I could tell Solomon was growing impatient with the delay. He sat in a corner Indian-style, mumbling quietly to himself and scowling at Shorty and Dess who where louldly playing patty-cake and chanting something ridiculous. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. The blissful intimacy of the night before had been replaced by an awkwardness like waking up married to a stranger. “We should go soon,” said Sol finally, “we have a long road ahead of us.” This was true. I think it must be hard for people to leave their homes though I wouln’t know.


4

We were headed for Oregon where the band had secured gigs in Seaside, Bearhead, and somepace called Baby’s Arm though we never found that one. The other two though, went off without a hitch, beautifully in fact. I came to discover that no two perfomances by the Solomon Grundy band were ever quite the same. The differences where often subtle, and were entirely dependant upon Sol’s moods which swung wildly, but the overall effect was always breathtaking. Again though, only a handful of adventurous souls remained when the house lights came up, strangely a fact that never seemed to bother the band. Those who did stay however, where so enthusiastic in their appreciation they would often insist on giving the band money and gifts, which Solomon accepted gracefully. The show at Bearhead was lucrative enough, both from the house take and the donations, that Solomon decided we could stay one night at a local Bed and Breakfast before moving on, in celebration of our new beginning. They would have never allowed all eight of us to stay in one room, which was all we could afford, so Solomon and Hope went in together and the rest of us stayed in the bus to be retrieved later, when the “coast was clear”. Shorty lit a hash pipe and passed it around. Funny how musicians, no matter how poor, always seem to have hash. “Good fucking show tonight, man,” said No Future to Dess as he took the pipe from him and inhaled deeply like an old pro. He held the smoke in his lungs as he spoke so that his words took on real form and shape, falling up from his lips in slow grey swirls. “You guys should be famous.” He said, which was ridiculous but true. We sat that way for an unknown length of time, the six of us in a circle at the back of the bus among a tangle of wires and various exotic instruments, smoking hash and speaking in the hushed, exctatic tones of tones of irreverant children cutting up in church. Inevitably my thoughts turned to Hope and I was anxious to get up to the room. I asked Dess if he thought Sol would be coming to get us soon and he turned to face me slowly. “How in hell can I know a thing like that?” He spat the words at me, discusted with the taste of them, “You’re an obnoxious twat Wesley, we should have left you on that highway.” I was dumbfounded for a response although looking back on it now I can think of a million and one humdingers. I just sat there though, staring back at him with my mouth agape. Derek came to my rescue. “Hash makes you mean Dess,” he said “a downright prick really, you shouldn’t smoke it.” Dess turned to him and his eyes narrowed to bloodshot slits, “I’ll shoot you in the face!” He shouted. We burst into stunned laughter at the absurdity of it all. “That’s enough!” We all jumped. Solomon stood with the big door open at the back of the bus looking at us like some haggard old suburban pappa in the midst of a long and hairy family vacation. “ You bastards are stoned out of your minds. I could hear you all the way across the parking lot sounding like a pack of maniacs.” “Sorry, Sol,” I muttered, “We where just talking.” He stood there shaking his head for a maddeningly long time and thinking God knows what, then finally said “Between loose talk and silence, opt for silence.” A phrase I have carried with me like a postcard ever since, I don’t know why. Some things just stick in your head like a fleck of broomstraw driven through a telephone pole by a tornado. After a few more awkward seconds of silence he told us to “keep it down” and left us there to sleep in the cold bus as he went back up to the room, back up to Hope.

I had a hard time sleeping that night. Every time I closed my eyes I saw Hope Mercy, naked and shimmering, bathed in the milky white moonlight coming in through the open window, gasping in Solomon’s skinny troubador arms. Jealousy is not an emotion I was familiar with. Its sting was too much for feeble heart to bear.

Somehow though, I know I must have eventually fallen asleep because I woke up the next day.

There was a brief but terrifying moment when Sol was ready to go that I couldn’t find my pack. Understand that all my worldly belongings were contained within that pack, which I had carried with me for so long that I could no longer remember when, or even where, I had aquired it. It must have been made of muleskin or something equally sturdy because it never split or tore or faded. In it I carried a second, identical pair of Levi’s and a nice pair of special occasion slacks taken off a manequin in a dead Texas town, a seashell from galveston so I could listen to the ghost of the sea, several Buddhist texts taken from a burned out monestary and a book of wisdom which I carried for culture but rarely consulted, a picture purported to be of my mom and dad (ripped), a sack of marbles for their texture, a journal and pencil, a money clip, a canteen, a sack for acorns, a nutcracker, the keys to the bus, and whatever else I found, took, or bought. Somehow, during the night, it had gotten knocked under Shorty’s bunk and I had to climb all the way under to get it out. My relief in finding it was enouth to temporarily take my mind off Hope as we set out for Poetry Massacheusetts. I drove straight through the day and into the night to make up for lost time and spoke nary a word to anyone save myself. I went into a sort of road daze with with my hands on the wheel, my eyes on the painted lines, and my mind somewhere else entirely.

That night, as the band slept, Derek and Matthew went out to search for whiskey. Hope produced a Gideon Bible from under her bunk that she had taken from the room at the Bed and Breakfast in Bearhead and, because No Future couldn’t read, not even the wise tattoos on his arms, and Solomon was already asleep, she asked me to read from it. As I read the Sermon on the Mount, whose meanings rang so clear I could lift my eyes from the page and still be reading, I glanced up at Hope bare-armed in a velveteen nithtgown with the jewel-black Massacheusetts night like a pillow-frame around her. My mouth and lungs kept reading as she reached over and held my hand. This left one hand for the book.


5

Poetry, Antwerp, Chantilly, Hector, Glorious Divide, Broken Neck, Shotgun, Simpleton, Copper Ball, Bad Kitty, Wanderlust, Skakespear, Golden Nugget, Hank, Heartache, Whyso Sad, Morning Glory, No Shit, No Buddhist, Blackjack, Lucky Lady, Coldspot, True, Loudmouth, Fearsome Beaver, Corn-mo, Zen-No-Mo, Laughter, Heaven, Iota, Hardhead, Nonplussed, Stormin’ Norman, Martha, Capello, Tuesday, Russia (Ark.), Homestead, Meander, Confucious, Virginity, Fritz…

None too sacred, these towns. For years I’ve thought about their names. Where has it gotten me?

Dave, Medicine Hat, Abandonment, Zero Interest, Drunken Indian, Harlot…

Oh Lord, the smell of perfume mixed with shit and hay on the streets of those places! We never belonged.

Amazingly, even in towns where the money had run out years before, people would come to see the band. The crowds in fact, grew quite large as time wore on and there notoriety as a live act grew. No matter that most people never stayed to the end, they had already paid and couldn’t get their money back.

Most nights Solomon and Hope made love in the bunk that they shared. When this happened I closed my eyes and ears and tried to remember scenes from my youth, fragmented though they where, they offered some consolation.


6

“I sure wish I had me a little dog,” said Hope one morning after an all night show in Big Rita Wisconsin. We’d been together as a group for a while, years maybe. Certainly years in the end. It was the middle of summer, August probalbly, and hot. No Future, Hope, Shorty, Dess, and I had just finished our Sunday morning Bible reading and where sitting down to a breakfast of beans and franks with seven-grain bread which we ate under a public shelter roof that housed wooden picnic tables and a working concrete water fountain. I looked at her, with bean juice on her chin and mischief in her eyes, and I loved her the way a dying man loves life, with all his ignorant heart.

I knew Sol was holding out on us, we all knew. He kept the money in a wooden cigar box and stashed it in his guitar case. He doled out to us what he thought we needed and horded the rest. I never objected. Solomon and the twins had walked into town to buy food and other necessities. I climbed onto the bus and headed straight for the guitar case. The Queen of Gypsies wanted a dog, by god she would have one!

I slipped out the back door and headed into town. When finally I came upon the Lucky Duck pet store in Big Rita Wisconsin it was very nearly noon. The sign on the door said “Open”, so I did. The air conditioning hit me like a kick in the chest and I froze in my clothes, soaked through with sweat from the heat of the day. It was damn noisy in there also, and stank. “I need a dog.” I said aloud and a rainbow feathered bird told me to go to hell. I had never been cussed by a bird and was a little startled. “I need a dog!” I said again, louder, ignoring the bird. An old man carrying a bucket came out of a back room and stared at me quizzically. “I need a dog.” I repeated for a record third time, but quieter. “Hells bells,” said the old man kindly, “why didntcha’ say so?” He put down his bucket filled with what I don’t know, and walked toward the front of the store. I stood my ground, not wanting to get too close to the old lunatic. “What kinda dog ya aimin’ to get young fella, we got all kinds.” He stood holding his arms out to a line of cages filled with various canines and looking at me. “Something small,” said I “a gypsy dog.” He opened a rather large cage with several small pups in it and pulled a sad-eyed, brown dachound from there midst. “Lookit this hear weiner dog,” he cackled, “aint he cute?” He held the dog up by the neck for my inspection and I came a little closer to get a good look. His tail swayed hopefully back and fourth in a slow arch and he begged me silently to take him home with me. “Nah, weiners are too excitable, what else ya got in there?” He tossed the reject nonchalantly back in the cage, and dug around for another hopeful. “How ‘bout this hear poodle?” He held it up. “Too posh, back in the cage!” I began to enjoy my sense of power over the fate of the helpless animals, but knew I’d have to make a decision soon. I spotted a serious looking little creature in a cage to the left of the old man. He seemed utterly detached from the goings on. While all his captive bretheran where going mad to get my attention he had the demeanor of one who just didn’t give a fuck. “What about that one?” I pointed him out. “That there’s a Sussex spaniel, he’s just a pup but he won’t get much bigger’n that.” “Sussex spaniel,” I repeated under my breath. “I like it, how much?” “Three Hunnerd.” He said. My heart sank. “I’ve only got thirty.” The old bastard laughed. “Well that won’t do will it?” I supposed it wouldn’t but I had to have a dog. “Well what can I get for thirty dollars?” I asked. He looked bemused and ancient. He took me to the back room he had emerged from carrying the mysterious bucket. The smell out front had been bad but back there it was overwhelming. The floor was covered in various kinds of shit and piss, breathing through my mouth I could taste it. He pulled the mongeral from a cardboard box and held him up for my inspection. Leave it said that it was the ugliest creature God ever let pass through the portals of a womb. It appeared to be part pug part pot bellied pig. Its grey fur was matted and filthy. It drew instant pity, even from me. A blind man would have winced upon feeling it for a picture. I reached out and rubbed its mane. It snorted and hare-lipped me. I paid the old thief, grabbed the mutt, and got the hell out of there.

Walking back to the bus I thought about what I would tell Solomon. The dog, though small, was incredibly heavy. I cursed and wished for that spaniel.


7

Solomon and the twins had still not returned when I arrived back at the bus. No Future was gone too, getting another tattoo I found out later. He had taken to getting a new one in every town we played and was quickly running out of skin. A green snake ran down the bridge of his nose to where a pink rose bloomed. On his eyelids were salamanders. Dots, like those on roseate trout, outlined like colored bubbles the creases of his face. A pair of blue snakes wound round his thick neck. He had even had his toenails removed by a podiatrist in Crabapple, California so that the skin beneath them could be tattooed. On those surfaces he had little hands clapping underneath little faces containing the various emotions: fear, hate, envy, love, courage, faith, hope, regret, joy, and despair. Dess and Shorty had gone to see some girls they had met at the show.

I approached the bus cautiously and stuffed the ugly dog in my shirt in hopes of suprising Hope. The doors where locked. I put my face to the window and saw her sleeping naked atop my bunk. Her hair, which by this time hung nearly down to the backs of her thighs, fell off the bed and spread out on the floor like a sleeping cat. Curled up the way she was she looked like a huge infant suffering through a dream. I sort of feared waking her, the way I fear waking anyone, but especially a naked woman, so I quietly stepped away from the bus.

I found a bit of rope in my pack and tied the mutt to a tree. He whimpered pathetically but eventually fell asleep. Seeing all this made me aware of my own weariness and I crawled beneath a picnic table for a nap.

When next I woke it was nearly dusk. In my confusion I sat up too quickly and banged my head hard on the bottom of the table. The mut was barking. I crawled away from the table and stood up slowly. The world was swaying beneath my feet and I saw two of everything. I touched my head and felt blood. Hope stood at the door of the bus, wrapped in an afgan and staring out at us, or one of us. The mut, or me I’m not sure which. She walked toward us slowly; the way people walk in dreams. Blood from my head ran into my eyes and cast the world into a deep crimson red. I took a few steps toward her and passed out cold.

I came to in the familiar warmth of the bus, wrapped in her afghan. My wound had been cleaned and dressed but I had a terrible headache and still felt a little woozy. Perhaps that’s why I did what did. She sat by lantern light on the bunk across from me, cradling the mut in her arms. “Weird angel,” I said to her, fancy words but not loose talk, that just erupted softly from my lips and against my will. I had never talked like that to a woman in my life. She came to sit beside me and pulled me in her arms with a strength woman posess that men can’t see. I said, again unwillingly, “Im thirsty.” And I was. She pressed her mouth against mine and filled me with a liquid like honey, or the precious tears of an angel. It was all the nourishment I needed.

She took me by the hand out way past the picnic tables to an abandoned campsite among the trees. Logs of green live oak cut with hatchets sat in a square around a hole about six feet wide. The earth inside the circle was scorched and black. We made love in the ashes in full view of heaven. I kept looking at a huge oak tree that must have been struck by lightning or partially eaten by termites because its pointed tip hung down like the finger of god identifying our position.

When we returned to the bus there was a party in full swing. Everyone had seemingly returned at once and everyone was drunk. Dess and Shorty had their dates with them and there where others there with Sol and the twins. Noone seemed to have noticed we had been gone or that we where dusted in ash from head to toe. They where all enraptured at the sight of No Future’s newest, penultimate tattoo. He stood in front of the bus, without pants and without shame, holding a lantern in one hand and a beer in the other, posing calmly like Adonis or Michaelangelo’s David if the marble could talk, his eyes glimmering like christmas bulbs in the Coleman lantern light. A tiny rose and a snake on its thorny stem, green and red and black, sat perfectly on the end of his penis. “Snake and Rose,” he said to me proudly. I turned up the lantern light and examined it closely. It had been finely wrought.


8

With his exotic tattoos No Future became something of sideshow attraction for the Solomon Grundy Band. No band member, nor even Derek or Matthew who had developed god-like physiques from lugging around the band’s new equipment, could any longer compete with him for the attention of the most beautiful girls. The tattoos lent him a sense of mystery lacking in the rest of them and with each new addition his confidence grew. His palms were tattooed and he would say to some awestruck farmer’s daughter, “If you place something in it I will show you my hand.” She would take a coin from the pocket of her overalls and he would open his palm to reveal a pink rose. The girl would giggle, want to see other hand, and produce another coin. Slowly, as if engrossed in revelation, No Future would open the other hand to show a coiled-up snake with its red tongue flickering. Often, as in one Friday night in Particulate, Kansas the same farmers’ daughter would return after the show for No Future’s final act. It would be a private shwoing in the trees followed by a swim in the river.


9

It was one of those Sundays when suddenly you wake up and don’t know who you are. For a brief moment the possibilities seemed endless but then I remebered I had never known anything except that I knew that I was nobody and had always known, just forgot. I was the driver for the Solomon Grundy Band, thirty-three years old and a rock and roll gypsy; good enough.

Outside I heard Hope laughing. She sounded like a little girl who had never even known a man, much less been hurt by one. I rolled out of bed and looked out the window. We where parked in a shallow ditch by the highway. Beyond that there was nothing to see in any direction. I slipped on my moccasins and stepped outside.

Hope was wearing the same blue dress she wore the second time I saw her. “It’s Easter,” she said to me in explanation, “I wanted to dress up.” She was holding the mongrel against her chest and she started spinning around in tight, concentric circles. The hem of her dress flowed around her like water and then, as she picked up speed, rose up. She stopped suddenly and set the mutt down. He wabbled away from her like a stumbling drunk. She laughed and clapped her hands, then picked him back up and kissed him squarely on the mouth. He licked her lips but she didn’t move away. By then the mongrel was incredibly fat, still young but with a succesful rock and roll show. He was dubbed Prince Albert by No Future due to the fact that his penis, when exposed, had a tiny mole on it that resembled a stud. Noone ever bothered to ask where he came from. The door opened behind me and Derek and Matthew stepped off the bus. “Its Easter fella’s,” said Hope, swaying back and fourth from dizziness, “Easter Sunday.” I wondered if they where still upset with me about an argument we’d had the night before. It had occurred to me that if one or both of them would learn to drive then we would make much better time by switching off and not having to stop. They didn’t take kindly to the suggestion. “We’re the roadies man, we don’t ask you to load the equipment do we?” “I would though, I’d be glad to help.” “No man, you’re the fucking driver. We’re the roadies and you’re the driver and that it!” Solomon told us to shut up and we did. Dog tired that night; I fell asleep while driving. Usually when that happened I didn’t wreck for some reason and this was no exception. Fortunately the three gas stations we’d passed since crossing the Red River had all been closed and at that very moment we ran out of gas. We just glided off the road and into this ditch, by chance or fate, in Po Toe Texas. I didn’t then and still don’t now remember waking up and going to bed, but I must have because that’s where I woke up. Things like that didn’t bother me as much then as they do now. I went inside and put on my special occasion slacks. Then I grabbed the Gideon Bible from my pack, whose white leather cover was now broken and tattered, and whose gold was now rubbed off the pages, and went back outside to conduct a special Easter Sunday bible study. The others drifted out slowly, Solomon as always the last to rise.

After bible study and breakfast the twins and I took three dented red gas cans which had been with the band longer than we had and went to find an open gas station. We walked several miles along the highway in the blazing Oklahoma sun saying very little. Tired of feeling like an idiot and with our destination in sight I stopped and offered my hand to them. “Listen, no hard feelings fellas. Its cool if you don’t want to drive and all. It was only a suggestion.” The looked at each other and then back at me. “We’ve been discussing it,” Matthew said matter of factly, “and we don’t want you falling asleep at the wheel anymore. We’ll learn to drive but you can’t help us with the equipment.” “You’re a damn clutz, Wesley.” Derek said. “Fair enough.” Said I, pleased as hell. Later on, on the way back to the bus with our gas cans now so much heavier, I asked them what they meant when they said they had “been discussing it” since none of us had said much of anything up until then. “Earlier”, said Derek. “I meant we discussed it earlier.” He was lying, I knew; I could smell the lie like a fart in a car.

That night we camped outside Austin at a little place called Mosquito-Creek; aptly named at it turned out. We couldn’t stay in Austin proper of course, because even that far south they had put a ban on rock and roll shows. Purportedly Austin had once claimed to be the live music capitol of the world though I can hardly imagine it.
We set up a bonfire and the band played a free set for the young hipsters and vagrants that roamed the streets of Mosquito Creek. The twins wheeled out a small set of amplifiers and speakers that, after a few minutes of tinkering, came to life in a fuzzy squeel of crackling feedback. They played sincerely and with all their hearts and skill. Veins popped out in their foreheads and necks and their fingers plied, plucked and quivered with manic intensity. Outside, under the vast starlit prarie skies, the magic in the music was manifest tenfold. Hope Mercy sat in the midst of them like the center of a lopsided circle, the pivot of their inspiration. Swaying from side to side and with her eyes gently shut; she wove her pretty head of wild womans hair in easy circles with one hand and with the other rubbed Prince Albert’s fat belly as he lay sprawled out with lolling tongue on her lap.

The following night the band secured a gig at The Straw Hat which was south of Austin in a town called Hate. For the first time ever Hope chose not to attend. “Im not going tonight,” she stated bluntly as we pulled in behind the club “I don’t feel well. Im just gonna stay in here with the Prince.” She squeezed the mutt’s cheeks as he dozed on her lap then lifted him up to her face and kissed his muzzle. Seeing this always sickened Solomon to the point that he closed his eyes and turned away like a man turning from bloody death. “How can I kiss the same lips that kiss that beast?” He asked himself aloud as he strolled off the bus.

If I had been raised differently, in a family I could remember and piece together, I might have handled things differently or I might at least have had that option. As it was I played the part of the helpless pawn awaiting destiny. I snuck back out to the bus as the band began to play and found Hope on her bunk weaping softly while Price Albert kissed away her tears. “I’m pregnant Wesley.” She said to me. “I’m going to have a baby.” “Whose?” I asked stupidly. She turned her face away and sobbed. “I don’t know.”





10

Sometimes you get the feeling things are coming to an end, like a river flowing towards a waterfall, but your wrong. It’s just the rumble of existance echoing up the canyon housing a turn. I had that feeling about sundown as we approached within reading distance a little green sign on a white post by the road: Green River, no population. Matthew pulled over directly in front of it and studied it closely. I looked around at the fields and buttes and mountain ranges far away, all wild and without fences. I could see for miles in every direction. No house nor shed nor building, even in ruins, stood anywhere. “This can’t be.” The twins said in usison, since this was where they where born. Hope quietly opened the curtain above her bunk and peered out at the desserted former metropolis. It was about six months into her pregnancy and she was more beautiful and mysterious than ever. The road however, is no place for an expecting mother and she had become silently distant and withdrawn. She rarely left the bus except to empty her bladder or take Prince Albert to empty his. Matthew and Derek had both become such excellent drivers that I began to regret the day that I suggested they learn. I was feeling useless and overpaid, though in truth at the end of my time with the Solomon Grundy Band I was scarcely more wealthy that when I’d begun. Often they would switch off late at night without even slowing. It was an intricate and dangerous manuever that involved the one driving to maintain speed by keeping his foot on the pedal while simoltaneously crouching beneath the other one who had taken control of the wheel. Finally the one who had taken the wheel would slide into the seat and put his foot on the pedal at the exact moment that the other one removed his. It required percise timing and perfect communication though they never spoke a word while they did it, not aloud at any rate, and where usually drunk as hell. On this occasion though it was I who took the wheel to take us away from Green River, Iowa. Like myself, the Mercy family was now without a home.

Around that time it was becoming increasingly difficult to secure gigs. The ban was spreading like wildfire into even the most remote areas of the country and we had already been to every backwater bar and shithole club left at least twice. The people remembered the band and where learning to stay away.


11

Solomon and Hope where married by an old black preacher named Reverand Bosephus in an all black pentecostal church in Goats Milk, Alabama one Sunday morning in April. Sol paid him a hundred dollars in cash money and some of the woman brought us acorn cakes and tea after the ceremony.

No Future stayed in the van so as not to startle the paritioners. By then he was completely covered in tattoos, such that no skin showed. His head and beard where shaved and colered dark green with scales like those of a snake and his ears where tatooed black so that against his reptillian skull they almost couldn’t be seen.

As we exited the church there was an old dust caked squad car with idling engine and two of Goat’s Milk’s finest with pistol drawn waiting for Derek and Matthew. Apparently the sheriff had been in attendance that fateful morning and had recognized the infamous Mercy Twins who where wanted for conspiracy to commit arson, and the success of that act, in the incineration of the school for wayward children in Meeganville, Iowa twelve years previous. The headmaster and headmistress had perished in the blaze. Foresightedly Derek, who had been driving, tossed me the keys to the bus upon his capture. Seeing the commotion No Future came came out of hiding and began screaming obscenities at the arresting officers while Prince Albert barked furiously at his feet. Thinking him a demon and Prince Albert a hound of Hell, they shot them both in the parking lot of the Goat’s Milk Holiness Tabernacle in Goats Milk, Alabama.

12

No Future survived the shooting but was refused medical attention by the good people of Goat’s Milk on the grounds that he was a servant of the devil and thus should die. With his blood on my hands and chest, I drove us like Hell on wheels to the next nearest town while Hope and Dess tried to keep him calm. There wasn’t much else they could do for him as he’d been shot in the gut. Shorty was hysterical. He kept shouting “Goddamnedhickcommybastards!” between fits of weaping and indecipherable prayers. Solomon sat indian-style on the floor, just scowling or perhaps praying silently.

Around dusk, out of fear for the life of my friend, I pulled over amid a thicket of pine trees in front of Bertha’s Lodge in a town called Fate. I ran inside and started banging the small bell that sat on the desk. No matter how hard I banged on it a tiny, feminine “ding” sound was all it could muster. Out of frustration I picked it up and started slamming it against the desk while screaming for help. An impossibly old man, a hundred and one at least, came sleepily out from a back room behind the desk. “What can I do ya fer my boy?” He asked with a cheerful but puzzled and maybe slightly frightened grin. “My friend has been shot in the gut.” I said to him, nearly bawling. “He is very strong but has lost a lot of blood. I fear that without prompt attention he will die within the hour.” It took a few seconds for what I’d said to register in his pale blue eyes but when it did the genuine concern and alertness I saw in them was enough to bring unexpected tears of relief. Miraculously the only other question he asked me was where we had parked so that he could relay the information to Bertha when he got her on the line.

Bertha was the owner and propreter of Bertha’s Lodge in Fate, Alabama. She was a huge, jolly woman with a puff of bright red hair and a hearty, melodic laugh that was as infectious as it was endearing. She told dirty jokes and worked like a man but could also be as gentle as a lamb when the situation called for it. A big crow, the biggest I’d ever laid eyes on, stayed with her there scaring the poor tourists, societal misfits, and freaks who camped at Bertha’ Lodge for a dollar a day. For their dollar they got a good sized lot to camp on, unlimited propane for cooking, access to a combination café/bar/gas station that was connected to the lodge, and a shower house where you put coins in a scummy slot attached to a knob that you turned to the number of minutes you wanted to pay for. People with more money stayed inside the lodge proper which was quite luxurious for those days. The richest guest stayed in rooms with king-sized beds and private shower baths with everlasting water. These where the sort of rooms Bertha put us up in. No Future, Hope, and Solomon in one room, Dess and Shorty and I in another.

On the second morning we where there she put us to work, Dess and Shorty and I, as payment for the rooms. Apparently Solomon was helping Bertha take care of No Future and Hope, who was about ready to pop. While picking up litter in a recently evacuated lot, I spotted the big crow pecking the side of a little pup tent where two honeymooners slept. A giggling girl crawled out of the tent as the animal cawed a sound like wicked laughter. “Oh Jasper, come look!” She squeeled, “Come see this crow!” As she beseeched her husband, the bride reached for the bird to pet it; it hopped onto the peak of the tent and pecked her hand; she jerked back and laughed. “Jasper, bring some bread!” When the young man offered the bread to the bird, it started squawking and hopping around in wild circles. They both laughed. Then the animal leapt onto Jasper’s arm and up to his shoulder. It pecked his eye and he shrieked and fell rolling to the earth with the bag of bread in his hand and the giant bird attached firmly to his thick tufts of curly black hair. The sight of blood finally got me moving but Dess was already there with a swift and powerful kick that knocked the beast cleanly off the poor boys bloody mane, then he stomped on its neck with the heel of his big black rubber boot. Solomon was forced to move into our room to make way for Jasper and his bride in Bertha’ makeshift infirmary suite.

Later that night we had a double funeral for Bulldog the giant crow and Prince Albert the ugly dog beside the Teslin River, which flowed into a bog behind Bertha’s Lodge.
Hope sat by lantern light, cradling the Prince in her arms. Bertha had pickled him in a green glass ten-gallon jug that had once held the fetus of a king. The lable said, “Fetus of Giant Oceanic King.” For a brief time it was utterly dead silent except for the sound of our breathing and the sighing of the mighty Teslin River in the deep vale below. But then Shorty, now seated on the needle-strewn ground, began softly to mourn from his lungs and belly, a sound of pure sorrow and hopelessness that is impossible to write down or even describe. His desperation seemed less theatric and more sincere than it had been the first time I saw him by the side of the highway after the death of the former driver Jonah. “You’re a hell of a drummer.” I said to him, but hy then he was crying so hard that he couldn’t make sense of it. Or maybe the comment merely fueled whatever fire was burning his body and searing his soul. I’ll never know or even pretend to understand what makes a drummer tick. Dess went to the trees and vomited.

On the evening of our fifth day at Bertha’s Lodge Hope gave birth to a baby boy and named him Albert after the ugly mutt whom I’d bought with stolen money and who had been so named because of a mole on his penis. Solomon held her hand during the delivery but later that night hung himself in our room while the rest of us ate. We had all wondered aloud where he was during supper as well as afterwards while we drank whiskey and smoked cigars to celebrate the birth. Drunk as hell and toting my cup I barely managed to make it up the stairs to find out, finally, what was going on with Solomon. Giggling like a schoolgirl I knocked gently on the door. When nobody answered I rapped hard on the hollow-core wood and shouted, laughing, “Hey Sol, Your’e a pa! Play us a ditty!” Still no answer so I fumbled with my key and opened the door. I found him suspended by a thread from a ceiling hook with his guitar leaning against the chair below his toes. I found five strings on the instrument, where there had been six.

We buried Solomon alonsdide Prince Albert the dog and Bulldog the crow on the banks of the Teslin River, which runs into a bog behind Bertha’s Lodge in Fate, Alabama.



13

Albert had his mother’s hair, the decievingly dark brown hair that looks black but isnt. He had her opal eyes and almond skin as well. He didn’t look like anyone else but her. I suppose her gypsy blood was just too strong to be diluted.

Within a month No Future was well enough to play with his nephew and take meals with the rest of us though all he could eat was mushed up bannanas and water. He wore the scar on his belly proudly like a tattoo. It resembled a rotten eye.

One night as we sat round the kitchen table at supper Bertha offered us permanent jobs at the lodge, which she told us point blank that she was planning to “doll up” and change the character of completely. She said we where the best help she’d ever had and that she would gladly provide us with a small wage as well as room and board. She also wanted to keep Hope on as a “hostess curio” to tell fortunes and read palms for her paying guest. “What about No Future?” Hope asked reluctantly. “Well,” Bertha said, looking at the completely naked boy where he sat eating his banannas at the head of the table, “what can you do?” Embaressed, he excused himself and retreated to his room. “He can’t read.” Hope told her, “and has never applied for a job.” “That explains a lot.” Bertha said very sincerely. Then, gazing after No Future as if the shifting pair of tortoises tatooed on his buttocks where still there, she said, “He lives in a world of pictures.”


14


No Future stayed on as a bartender at Bertha’s Lodge which she called Angel Fire Lodge after the renovations were complete. Hope, being entitled to Solomon’s earthly posessions, sold the bus to Jasper and his wife for five thousand dollars and threw in everything else: the musical instruments and equiipment, camping supplies, foodstuffs and bunks, as a belated wedding present. Not a bad trade seeing as, according to Dess, Solomon had bought the bus and all it contained for five-hundred dollars from a backslidden preacher who’d planned to destroy it all if he couldn’t sell it.

Dess and Shorty stayed on for a while but troubadoring was in their blood and in the spring they met some other musicians who where staying at the lodge and set out with them for Canada to start another band. Rock and roll shows are legal over there. I often wonder how they fared.

I never really decided to stay at the lodge permanently but it was a good job, the kind of thing you just can’t hardly find if you go out looking for it. Hope and I where married on her twenty-fifth birthday in front of a congregation of misfits and wanderers who happened to be camping there at the time. Bertha, who is not actually a priest, presided over the ceremony so I suppose it was never really legal, but I’ve never had much use for matters of legality anyhow. Albert grew up strong and remembered his family.










1

We lived on the outskirts of society and where notoriously wild. Rock and Roll shows still traveled in those days, but because of their subversivness were banned in most places. As a result we were forced to work the more austere, remote corners of the country. Underground clubs without names built alongside dingy whorehouses in red light districts all across this nation. We each had criminal backgrounds of varying consequence, each of us where outcast, each of us where desperately grasping for any opportunity when The Solomon Grundy Band came along.

I had been sleeping in my tent, which I had intentionally set up exactly on the border of North and South Dakota so that I could sleep suspended between two states, when I was woken by the sound of their dilapidated bus sputtering to a stop on the other side of the highway. I poked my head out, squinting my eyes against the early morning sun, and watched the commotion. The small door at the front of the bus banged open and three ragged looking musicians leapt out. You can always spot a musician, or at least I can. Their clothes for one; though dirty, were incredibly bright and adorned with intricately sewn patterns, the sort of which you never see in the shops. God knows where they find them. I even knew which one was the drummer; the one flailing about wildly, leaping up and down and yelling frantic obscenities while the other two dragged the unconscious driver from the bus. Tears ran from his eyes in an unbridled stream and he eventually collapsed to the asphalt in an overly dramatic fainting motion. This is to say nothing negative of drummers; they are simply unable to contain themselves. Cautiously, I emerged from my tent and crossed the highway. The two musicians trying to help the driver were as oblivious to my approach as they were to the antics of the third. They were bent over his body and saying prayers in foreign tongues while slapping him about the chest and face. It would have been comical if not for their sincerity. I stood by and watched silently for fear of disturbing their prayers. This went on for several minutes before they bowed their heads and finally gave up. The drummer was still out cold. "How do you do?" I asked, unable to think of anything better. The two musicians where sitting cross-legged on the pavement and staring at their hands. They looked bewildered and lost and my heart broke for them. There was an extended moment of awkward silence before one of them finally looked up at me and gave a response. "We are not good," he said flatly.


That was how I came to meet the band: Solomon, Shorty, and Dess. Solomon, the one who spoke to me, was the guitarist, composer, and iron fisted leader of the band. He had long, dirty red hair and a handsome face crowned by penetrating crystal blue eyes. Dess, the bass player, unable to speak through his grief, was introduced to me by Solomon, as was Shorty, the overexcited drummer, as he was still unconscious. I introduced myself as Wesley, a name I had read at the end of a dew soaked letter I found on a highway and decided to keep, as good a name as any. After a while Solomon and Dess and I set about to bury the driver whose name turned out to be Jonah. They supposed it had been a heart attack, feasible, as he was obscenely overweight and heavy. We dragged him under a bypass about a hundred yards from the bus and half-heartedly covered him with rocks and leaves. Dess began to cry and Solomon said a few more prayers I couldn't understand. When we returned to the bus Shorty was awake and full of questions. "Sol, Sol, What the hell are we gonna do now man? Whose gonna drive the bus? How the hell are we gonna get out of here?" and so on. I took this opportunity to offer my services although I had never driven anything larger than a broken down go-kart taken from an abandoned carnival, a faded memory. They gracefully accepted my offer and promised to pay me immediately after their next performance in Bigmouth North Dakota, though no specifics where discussed. I retrieved my pack containing all my worldly posessions from my tent, which had been my home, and left it there beside the highway meaning to return to it one day. For all I know it may still be there. From then on out faith was the road under my wheels at every turning, lit by a tendency to go too far.


By the time we reached Bigmouth I was a fairly good driver though my companions had deduced my lack of experience behind the wheel. Along the way they regaled me with tales of their recent hardships. They had been traveling as a crew of six, including Jonah the driver and two roadies who had made off with several months worth of earnings and much of the bands equipment; presumably to pawn for money. The band where still reeling from this betrayal and had not played a gig in many weaks. They had driven penniless all the way from Texas, stealing gas and begging for food along the way, only to have their driver they’d keel when they where almost there. I wondered silently how a man of his size could survive so long on so little food but refrained from asking out of respect. "You'll find new roadies in Bigmouth," I assured them, "North Dakotans are by and large a trustworthy people."


2

I had a little money saved from my last job selling Christmas trees in Wyoming, and decided to buy lunch for my new employers as a gesture of my gratitude. There was only one restaurant in Bigmouth, a town I knew well. I parked the bus in front of the Horn of Plenty and we went inside. The Horn was about half full but the locals were congregating around the bar. We sat down at an isolated booth by a large window looking out onto Main St. The band where ravenous and ate without speaking which suited me fine. We all had chitlins and gravy at the suggestion of our waitress who told us her name was Hope. After the meal we bonded over several pitchers of beer, the way men do. Solomon spoke eloquently of his music and determination to continue despite recent circumstances. He warned me that life on the road with them would be hard and strange. The shadows outside began to gather as time slipped away without our noticing. I paid the bill and tipped Hope a fiver, which is more than my usual custom. Solomon told her about the show and she promised to try and make it although her shift didn't end for another hour. "That's alright," he said, "we play a fairly long set." At first I had thought her hair to be black but when she leaned over our table the sun hit it and I noticed it was really a dark shade of brown. It's funny how sometimes a woman's beauty will hit you straight away like a slap in the face and sometimes is just sneaks up on you slowly, growing more potent every time you look. That's the way it was with Hope.

It took longer than anticipated to locate the venue, a small ramshackle nightclub on the outskirts of town. It was called Tears in a Bucket, which struck me as being perfect. I pulled around back and we quickly unloaded the sparse set of equipment the band had been left with. I had sort of feared for the turnout of a rock and roll show in a town of this size, but was surprised to see a considerable crowd of about forty kids gathered in front of the stage. Solomon spoke briefly to the soundman, the lights went down, and the band began to play. The hum of the chatter in the room was instantly silenced and the people just coming down the stairs and into the club froze in their tracks as a multitude of jaws soundlessly dropped. Maybe I have exaggerated that in my mind as so often happens with the passing of time, but I don’t think so. In any event it was the strangest, most beautiful music I had ever heard in my whole sorry life. There where no words to the songs, nor any singer as you might expect, but Solomon’s melodys stretched out for miles, coming down on us in shimmering waves of sound that where cemented by Short’s hypnotic drumming and Dess’ gut rattling bass lines around which everthing revolved like planets around the sun. The songs would seem to speed up and slow down as if they where being played underwater and then Solomon’s guitar would build and tremble and fill every space possible in the tiny club and behind our eyes. He never spoke a single word to the crowd. When the lights came back up, hours later, there where about ten people, the bartender, the soundman, and myself included left in the audience. It was like waking up. We were looking around at each other, blinking and smiling stupidly. There seemed to be a communal bond between us because of what we had just witnessed. I can't tell you why so many people left, or why that would continue to happen everywhere that they played in the years to come. Perhaps it was just too much for them, sensory overload. It doesn't matter. Shorty was taking apart his kit; Dess and Solomon were moving about the small stage, wrapping up wires and preparing to reload. I wanted to help them but my feet seemed to be frozen in place.

Hope broke my paralysis. She walked right up to me and just stood there like an orphan cat. At first I didn't recognize her, so drastic was the change in her appearance from the restaurant. She wore a fancy blue dress, older that the hills, that emphasized her beauty but could not hide her country innocence. Her hair, which looked black but I knew wasn't, lay across her shoulders like melted chocolate; real combed, not finger combed. Her eyes were glistening with tears, nearly glowing in the smoky darkness of the club. They reminded me of the color the skies had been in Wyoming early in the morning, a matchless pure blue I had never expected to see anywhere else. She had clearly been moved by the band's performance. "It’s like home." She said. Her words were soft and wet with emotion but I didn't know what she meant. "Yes, I know." I said, feeling ignorant. She just stood there with tears in her eyes, hugging herself as if she was cold, waiting for me to say something. I've never been able to talk to woman. I noticed she had some people with her, three young healthy looking men stealing glances at us. I wondered if she wanted me to introduce them to the band. She stunned me by reading my mind, the way my mother once did. "You're wondering about those boys I'm with aren't you." "No." "They're my brothers. They want to come with you when you leave," she said, blushing, "and so do I."


3

After the band had been paid and the equipment loaded, we all piled into the bus and headed back to the small house where Hope lived with her brothers. She served us tea and homemade acorn bread while Derek, Matthew, and No Future talked about music with the band. As there was no furniture we all sat on the floor. Derek and Matthew were twins. Once told this I never doubted it, though physically, they looked nothing alike. Derek had a long blonde mane, baby-fine, which hung down to his chin when his small ears failed to hold it in place. Matthews’s head was shaved. Derek was tall and lanky, very thin. Matthew was about medium height, several inches shorter than his brother, and of a substantial build. But they acted alike. They were very quiet, yet when they did speak, their mannerisms, hand movements, and facial expressions were like mirror images. At twenty-six they were the oldest. Hope was twenty, and No Future; a hard looking figure with spiky blonde hair and many tattoos, was only seventeen. At some point the tea became liquor and the mood became festive. We swapped stories of run-ins with Johnny Law and narrow escapes from death. We traded the stories of our lives the way children trade baseball cards, letting go with a sigh.

Taking turns in the quiet, subliminal way that they had, Derek and Matthew told us of their early upbringing in the middle class suburb of Green River, Iowa. They were the firstborn sons to Elizabeth and Colson Mercy. Their mother, whom they spoke of with a reverence unmatched by any holy man that I've encountered, was a teacher and a saint, and their father worked as an insurance salesman, a noble trade that had all but vanished in the intervening years. They admitted to commiting wanton acts of willful violence for money in their youth told and told us of their difficulty finding work in Bigmouth due to their criminal records. They pleaded with Solomon to hire them on as roadies and allow for their younger brother and sister to come along without pay. I could tell they where on the run and secretly admired them though I admit my attention wavered. I could not keep my eyes nor my mind off Hope, who was sitting by the fireplace and sipping hot tea mixed with rum from a wooden bowl that was carved to resemble the shell of an ancient turtle. She looked like a gypsy queen from some blackened clan of mysterious and romantic origin. I thought she must be a wandering Madonna blessing us with her presence or a weird angel momentarily distracted by the mad lives of strange little innocents. I closed my eyes and imagined her wings as she flew through hell and made the damned souls swoon.

I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare having to do with wild dogs breeding in the wombs of woman. I lay still for an unknowable amount of time and tried to remember where I was. My head ached dully and my bladder was full to bursting but I was paralyzed with fear and displacement. Finally, unable to take the suspense any longer I retrieved a book of matches from my pack which was my also my pillow and struck one. In a flash I saw Hope hunkered down in a dark corner, surrounded by mice who seemed to be consuming her, and she was smiling at me with eyes that pierced straight through to my heart and froze it in mid-beat. "Hope!" I gasped as the match burnt my thumb and I dropped it. I fumbled another match from the book and in a flash it was lit, but she was gone. I half-heartedly scanned the shadows for her, but apparently she had only been an apparition, a thing that seems to be but isn't, except in the mind. I almost believed it. I made my way outside to piss into the cold North Dakota night and then went cautiously back to my place on the floor. I stepped on something, Dess it turned out, and he let out a sharp grunt but didn't wake up. I lit one more match to search for a blanket. The only one I saw was being used by Shorty but he had passed out well before me and I thought he probaly wouldnt notice if it was gone. I was wearing my clothes and moccasins but winter had come on when we werent looking and the wind was blowing hard enough to carol in the eves.

Wrapped up tighter that a papoose in a stolen blanket I let bittersweet sleep take me where it would, though I hoped to be through with the wild dogs and woman eating mice.
In the morning I woke to the sight of Hope walking away from me through rising steam like a ghost over a freshly baked blueberry cobbler. I said "Thanks," but she must not of heard me, or if she did she walked back into the kitchen and didn't respond. I didn't mind. I woke the band and we ate a hot breakfast fit for kings.


I folded my stolen blanket, combed my hair with my fingers, and put my pack in the bus. Derek and Matthew set about packing bags for themselves and their two siblings who were busily preparing the house for its long season of emptiness. I could tell Solomon was growing impatient with the delay. He sat in a corner Indian-style, mumbling quietly to himself and scowling at Shorty and Dess who where louldly playing patty-cake and chanting something ridiculous. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. The blissful intimacy of the night before had been replaced by an awkwardness like waking up married to a stranger. “We should go soon,” said Sol finally, “we have a long road ahead of us.” This was true. I think it must be hard for people to leave their homes though I wouln’t know.


4

We were headed for Oregon where the band had secured gigs in Seaside, Bearhead, and somepace called Baby’s Arm though we never found that one. The other two though, went off without a hitch, beautifully in fact. I came to discover that no two perfomances by the Solomon Grundy band were ever quite the same. The differences where often subtle, and were entirely dependant upon Sol’s moods which swung wildly, but the overall effect was always breathtaking. Again though, only a handful of adventurous souls remained when the house lights came up, strangely a fact that never seemed to bother the band. Those who did stay however, where so enthusiastic in their appreciation they would often insist on giving the band money and gifts, which Solomon accepted gracefully. The show at Bearhead was lucrative enough, both from the house take and the donations, that Solomon decided we could stay one night at a local Bed and Breakfast before moving on, in celebration of our new beginning. They would have never allowed all eight of us to stay in one room, which was all we could afford, so Solomon and Hope went in together and the rest of us stayed in the bus to be retrieved later, when the “coast was clear”. Shorty lit a hash pipe and passed it around. Funny how musicians, no matter how poor, always seem to have hash. “Good fucking show tonight, man,” said No Future to Dess as he took the pipe from him and inhaled deeply like an old pro. He held the smoke in his lungs as he spoke so that his words took on real form and shape, falling up from his lips in slow grey swirls. “You guys should be famous.” He said, which was ridiculous but true. We sat that way for an unknown length of time, the six of us in a circle at the back of the bus among a tangle of wires and various exotic instruments, smoking hash and speaking in the hushed, exctatic tones of tones of irreverant children cutting up in church. Inevitably my thoughts turned to Hope and I was anxious to get up to the room. I asked Dess if he thought Sol would be coming to get us soon and he turned to face me slowly. “How in hell can I know a thing like that?” He spat the words at me, discusted with the taste of them, “You’re an obnoxious twat Wesley, we should have left you on that highway.” I was dumbfounded for a response although looking back on it now I can think of a million and one humdingers. I just sat there though, staring back at him with my mouth agape. Derek came to my rescue. “Hash makes you mean Dess,” he said “a downright prick really, you shouldn’t smoke it.” Dess turned to him and his eyes narrowed to bloodshot slits, “I’ll shoot you in the face!” He shouted. We burst into stunned laughter at the absurdity of it all. “That’s enough!” We all jumped. Solomon stood with the big door open at the back of the bus looking at us like some haggard old suburban pappa in the midst of a long and hairy family vacation. “ You bastards are stoned out of your minds. I could hear you all the way across the parking lot sounding like a pack of maniacs.” “Sorry, Sol,” I muttered, “We where just talking.” He stood there shaking his head for a maddeningly long time and thinking God knows what, then finally said “Between loose talk and silence, opt for silence.” A phrase I have carried with me like a postcard ever since, I don’t know why. Some things just stick in your head like a fleck of broomstraw driven through a telephone pole by a tornado. After a few more awkward seconds of silence he told us to “keep it down” and left us there to sleep in the cold bus as he went back up to the room, back up to Hope.

I had a hard time sleeping that night. Every time I closed my eyes I saw Hope Mercy, naked and shimmering, bathed in the milky white moonlight coming in through the open window, gasping in Solomon’s skinny troubador arms. Jealousy is not an emotion I was familiar with. Its sting was too much for feeble heart to bear.

Somehow though, I know I must have eventually fallen asleep because I woke up the next day.

There was a brief but terrifying moment when Sol was ready to go that I couldn’t find my pack. Understand that all my worldly belongings were contained within that pack, which I had carried with me for so long that I could no longer remember when, or even where, I had aquired it. It must have been made of muleskin or something equally sturdy because it never split or tore or faded. In it I carried a second, identical pair of Levi’s and a nice pair of special occasion slacks taken off a manequin in a dead Texas town, a seashell from galveston so I could listen to the ghost of the sea, several Buddhist texts taken from a burned out monestary and a book of wisdom which I carried for culture but rarely consulted, a picture purported to be of my mom and dad (ripped), a sack of marbles for their texture, a journal and pencil, a money clip, a canteen, a sack for acorns, a nutcracker, the keys to the bus, and whatever else I found, took, or bought. Somehow, during the night, it had gotten knocked under Shorty’s bunk and I had to climb all the way under to get it out. My relief in finding it was enouth to temporarily take my mind off Hope as we set out for Poetry Massacheusetts. I drove straight through the day and into the night to make up for lost time and spoke nary a word to anyone save myself. I went into a sort of road daze with with my hands on the wheel, my eyes on the painted lines, and my mind somewhere else entirely.

That night, as the band slept, Derek and Matthew went out to search for whiskey. Hope produced a Gideon Bible from under her bunk that she had taken from the room at the Bed and Breakfast in Bearhead and, because No Future couldn’t read, not even the wise tattoos on his arms, and Solomon was already asleep, she asked me to read from it. As I read the Sermon on the Mount, whose meanings rang so clear I could lift my eyes from the page and still be reading, I glanced up at Hope bare-armed in a velveteen nithtgown with the jewel-black Massacheusetts night like a pillow-frame around her. My mouth and lungs kept reading as she reached over and held my hand. This left one hand for the book.


5

Poetry, Antwerp, Chantilly, Hector, Glorious Divide, Broken Neck, Shotgun, Simpleton, Copper Ball, Bad Kitty, Wanderlust, Skakespear, Golden Nugget, Hank, Heartache, Whyso Sad, Morning Glory, No Shit, No Buddhist, Blackjack, Lucky Lady, Coldspot, True, Loudmouth, Fearsome Beaver, Corn-mo, Zen-No-Mo, Laughter, Heaven, Iota, Hardhead, Nonplussed, Stormin’ Norman, Martha, Capello, Tuesday, Russia (Ark.), Homestead, Meander, Confucious, Virginity, Fritz…

None too sacred, these towns. For years I’ve thought about their names. Where has it gotten me?

Dave, Medicine Hat, Abandonment, Zero Interest, Drunken Indian, Harlot…

Oh Lord, the smell of perfume mixed with shit and hay on the streets of those places! We never belonged.

Amazingly, even in towns where the money had run out years before, people would come to see the band. The crowds in fact, grew quite large as time wore on and there notoriety as a live act grew. No matter that most people never stayed to the end, they had already paid and couldn’t get their money back.

Most nights Solomon and Hope made love in the bunk that they shared. When this happened I closed my eyes and ears and tried to remember scenes from my youth, fragmented though they where, they offered some consolation.


6

“I sure wish I had me a little dog,” said Hope one morning after an all night show in Big Rita Wisconsin. We’d been together as a group for a while, years maybe. Certainly years in the end. It was the middle of summer, August probalbly, and hot. No Future, Hope, Shorty, Dess, and I had just finished our Sunday morning Bible reading and where sitting down to a breakfast of beans and franks with seven-grain bread which we ate under a public shelter roof that housed wooden picnic tables and a working concrete water fountain. I looked at her, with bean juice on her chin and mischief in her eyes, and I loved her the way a dying man loves life, with all his ignorant heart.

I knew Sol was holding out on us, we all knew. He kept the money in a wooden cigar box and stashed it in his guitar case. He doled out to us what he thought we needed and horded the rest. I never objected. Solomon and the twins had walked into town to buy food and other necessities. I climbed onto the bus and headed straight for the guitar case. The Queen of Gypsies wanted a dog, by god she would have one!

I slipped out the back door and headed into town. When finally I came upon the Lucky Duck pet store in Big Rita Wisconsin it was very nearly noon. The sign on the door said “Open”, so I did. The air conditioning hit me like a kick in the chest and I froze in my clothes, soaked through with sweat from the heat of the day. It was damn noisy in there also, and stank. “I need a dog.” I said aloud and a rainbow feathered bird told me to go to hell. I had never been cussed by a bird and was a little startled. “I need a dog!” I said again, louder, ignoring the bird. An old man carrying a bucket came out of a back room and stared at me quizzically. “I need a dog.” I repeated for a record third time, but quieter. “Hells bells,” said the old man kindly, “why didntcha’ say so?” He put down his bucket filled with what I don’t know, and walked toward the front of the store. I stood my ground, not wanting to get too close to the old lunatic. “What kinda dog ya aimin’ to get young fella, we got all kinds.” He stood holding his arms out to a line of cages filled with various canines and looking at me. “Something small,” said I “a gypsy dog.” He opened a rather large cage with several small pups in it and pulled a sad-eyed, brown dachound from there midst. “Lookit this hear weiner dog,” he cackled, “aint he cute?” He held the dog up by the neck for my inspection and I came a little closer to get a good look. His tail swayed hopefully back and fourth in a slow arch and he begged me silently to take him home with me. “Nah, weiners are too excitable, what else ya got in there?” He tossed the reject nonchalantly back in the cage, and dug around for another hopeful. “How ‘bout this hear poodle?” He held it up. “Too posh, back in the cage!” I began to enjoy my sense of power over the fate of the helpless animals, but knew I’d have to make a decision soon. I spotted a serious looking little creature in a cage to the left of the old man. He seemed utterly detached from the goings on. While all his captive bretheran where going mad to get my attention he had the demeanor of one who just didn’t give a fuck. “What about that one?” I pointed him out. “That there’s a Sussex spaniel, he’s just a pup but he won’t get much bigger’n that.” “Sussex spaniel,” I repeated under my breath. “I like it, how much?” “Three Hunnerd.” He said. My heart sank. “I’ve only got thirty.” The old bastard laughed. “Well that won’t do will it?” I supposed it wouldn’t but I had to have a dog. “Well what can I get for thirty dollars?” I asked. He looked bemused and ancient. He took me to the back room he had emerged from carrying the mysterious bucket. The smell out front had been bad but back there it was overwhelming. The floor was covered in various kinds of shit and piss, breathing through my mouth I could taste it. He pulled the mongeral from a cardboard box and held him up for my inspection. Leave it said that it was the ugliest creature God ever let pass through the portals of a womb. It appeared to be part pug part pot bellied pig. Its grey fur was matted and filthy. It drew instant pity, even from me. A blind man would have winced upon feeling it for a picture. I reached out and rubbed its mane. It snorted and hare-lipped me. I paid the old thief, grabbed the mutt, and got the hell out of there.

Walking back to the bus I thought about what I would tell Solomon. The dog, though small, was incredibly heavy. I cursed and wished for that spaniel.


7

Solomon and the twins had still not returned when I arrived back at the bus. No Future was gone too, getting another tattoo I found out later. He had taken to getting a new one in every town we played and was quickly running out of skin. A green snake ran down the bridge of his nose to where a pink rose bloomed. On his eyelids were salamanders. Dots, like those on roseate trout, outlined like colored bubbles the creases of his face. A pair of blue snakes wound round his thick neck. He had even had his toenails removed by a podiatrist in Crabapple, California so that the skin beneath them could be tattooed. On those surfaces he had little hands clapping underneath little faces containing the various emotions: fear, hate, envy, love, courage, faith, hope, regret, joy, and despair. Dess and Shorty had gone to see some girls they had met at the show.

I approached the bus cautiously and stuffed the ugly dog in my shirt in hopes of suprising Hope. The doors where locked. I put my face to the window and saw her sleeping naked atop my bunk. Her hair, which by this time hung nearly down to the backs of her thighs, fell off the bed and spread out on the floor like a sleeping cat. Curled up the way she was she looked like a huge infant suffering through a dream. I sort of feared waking her, the way I fear waking anyone, but especially a naked woman, so I quietly stepped away from the bus.

I found a bit of rope in my pack and tied the mutt to a tree. He whimpered pathetically but eventually fell asleep. Seeing all this made me aware of my own weariness and I crawled beneath a picnic table for a nap.

When next I woke it was nearly dusk. In my confusion I sat up too quickly and banged my head hard on the bottom of the table. The mut was barking. I crawled away from the table and stood up slowly. The world was swaying beneath my feet and I saw two of everything. I touched my head and felt blood. Hope stood at the door of the bus, wrapped in an afgan and staring out at us, or one of us. The mut, or me I’m not sure which. She walked toward us slowly; the way people walk in dreams. Blood from my head ran into my eyes and cast the world into a deep crimson red. I took a few steps toward her and passed out cold.

I came to in the familiar warmth of the bus, wrapped in her afghan. My wound had been cleaned and dressed but I had a terrible headache and still felt a little woozy. Perhaps that’s why I did what did. She sat by lantern light on the bunk across from me, cradling the mut in her arms. “Weird angel,” I said to her, fancy words but not loose talk, that just erupted softly from my lips and against my will. I had never talked like that to a woman in my life. She came to sit beside me and pulled me in her arms with a strength woman posess that men can’t see. I said, again unwillingly, “Im thirsty.” And I was. She pressed her mouth against mine and filled me with a liquid like honey, or the precious tears of an angel. It was all the nourishment I needed.

She took me by the hand out way past the picnic tables to an abandoned campsite among the trees. Logs of green live oak cut with hatchets sat in a square around a hole about six feet wide. The earth inside the circle was scorched and black. We made love in the ashes in full view of heaven. I kept looking at a huge oak tree that must have been struck by lightning or partially eaten by termites because its pointed tip hung down like the finger of god identifying our position.

When we returned to the bus there was a party in full swing. Everyone had seemingly returned at once and everyone was drunk. Dess and Shorty had their dates with them and there where others there with Sol and the twins. Noone seemed to have noticed we had been gone or that we where dusted in ash from head to toe. They where all enraptured at the sight of No Future’s newest, penultimate tattoo. He stood in front of the bus, without pants and without shame, holding a lantern in one hand and a beer in the other, posing calmly like Adonis or Michaelangelo’s David if the marble could talk, his eyes glimmering like christmas bulbs in the Coleman lantern light. A tiny rose and a snake on its thorny stem, green and red and black, sat perfectly on the end of his penis. “Snake and Rose,” he said to me proudly. I turned up the lantern light and examined it closely. It had been finely wrought.






































Mt. Obst by dexter
Helena's been backpacking around Asia for two months now, spending what she got from the five
paintings she's just sold. She's not(yet) a successful painter but she has a large studio/apartment
and drives a Fiat around the streets of Amsterdam. (She's been featured in European art
magazines a couple of times and some of her work are on the walls of cafes.) She went on this
trip, mainly, to see new subjects to paint.

She's never heard of this strange country in the Indian Ocean 'til two weeks ago, from another
backpacker she met in Bali. In Haarig, the backpacker said, the people look Middle Eastern,
have German- sounding names, their own Persian- based language and speak French as a second
language.

She arrives from Thailand in a British Airways 747 at noon. At the hostel, she makes a
long-distance call to her mother, from the front desk because it's just a cheap (but clean) hotel and
they don't have a telephone in each room. She tells her that she's already in Kratzsche, the capital
city and in two days will be in Obst, a tourist region 60 miles to the north; to go up a volcano that
erupted eight years ago and turned the surrounding forests, farmlands and towns into a desert of
sandy ash.

Almost three months ago back at home, more than a week before she left for this trip, her fiancé
Soren seemed out of himself and his mind somewhere else at dinner (the only thing they've been
doing together lately). His only responses were halfhearted uhuhs, reallys, wows when she told
him about her day. She asked him what's wrong, he said the office's just been really busy. This
went on for several days until one day he was suspiciously congenial and enthusiastic, like a
ten-year-old boy who broke his mother's vase. He's more responsive and kept the conversation
going, asking for the details, trying to create a certain mood. Then he dropped the bomb. 'Helena,
listen--- I've been thinking, maybe we should put off the wedding for a while. You know, take
some time off from each other, without this wedding thing nagging at us...' Helena found it odd to
hear nagging and wedding in the same breath. Even if it wasn't explicitly said, she knew it was a
break-up. She isn't stupid. She found out later that Soren's been having an affair with his boss, a
married woman. Apparently her marriage's not going too well and she confided in him. He's
always been a sucker for wounded animals.


In Obst, Helena gets a room in a more respectable hotel. After a heavy breakfast of four different
kinds of curry, two mugs of Ceylon tea and the most delicious mangoes, she goes out to the
parking lot. She's wearing black running shoes (with no socks), black track pants with three thin
yellow stripes on the sides and a blue tank top and has brought only two bottles of Powerade and
a camera for the hike.

A local and two caucasians are huddled on the bed of a white Toyota Pick-up. They get down
and after confirming identities, exchange introductions and pleasantries. The local guy is the guide
and the two white guys are Australian, one thirtyish, the other fortyish, both fairly fit. The right rear
door opens and a young athletic American couple comes out from the car. They decide to sit out
the back for the one hour drive to the foot of the mountain. The Aussies sit at the backseat and
she, up front with the guide who's driving. The guide's name is Pohl, he's twenty-six and an
experienced outdoorsman. When she first saw him he looked liked any other local. Now as she
studies his features-- fairer skin, narrower head, more refined nose, thinner lips and less body hair,
she sees that he could pass off as Italian. The Australian with the moustache is Edward and the
younger one is David. Edward's an antique dealer and David an architect. Their conversation
doesn't go anywhere near to imply it, but Helen's positive they are lovers.

The truck pull up beside another 4x4. This is as far as the cars are allowed to go. All around,
everything is grey, with a few trees and shrubs here and there.

Against the gray landscape, Helena realizes how attractive Dion and Elaine, the Americans, are.
Despite looking like Baywatch lifeguards, they're actually quite smart. Both of them work at
Silicon Valley in Northern Caliornia.

Thirty minutes into the hike, the landscape turns lunar. The occasional tree or shrub disappear and
they walk along, up and down unstable cliffs of volcanic ash as high as five storeys.

Halfway into the two hour hike they stop talking to each other to concentrate all their energies on
moving their legs forward. Thirty minutes more before the summit, the crater peak comes into
sight. It's not a constant climb from where they are. The path falls off for a foot, then a gradual
climb to the mouth of the crater, much like the whole climb- a few steps down, a lot of steps up.
Helena pauses and takes a snapshot of the brown-grey peak dotted with the colors of other
tourists' clothes against the clear blue sky. (When she goes back to Amsterdam, she will be
reproducing this on canvas from the picture she's taken and her memory.) She resumes walking
but now more slowly, still looking up the crater peak. She doesn't notice the Aussies who were
walking behind her, surge ahead of her, nor the sudden descent. She steps on nothing, falls on her
side and sprains an ankle. The guide radios for help and the Aussies and Americans complete the
climb.

The hotel upgrades Helena's room to a suite with a jacuzzi and a balcony facing the beach, free of
charge. The curtains are drawn and the TV's on the Discovery Channel. She's sitting up in bed,
her bandaged foot on a pillow. Maybe its the painkillers but she feels oddly satiated. Then the
phone rings. It's Soren and he apologizes and wants a reconciliation. He even offers to come to
Haarig, seriously.

'When can you be here?' she asks him.

'Tomo..., what time is it there?'

'It's five in the afternoon.'

'Tomorrow in the evening. I already made a reservation for a flight that leaves in four hours.'

'You're so sure of yourself. Allright then, I'll see you tomorrow.'

After Helena hangs up the phone she realizes she hasn't told him about the accident. That night she
checks out of the hotel, goes to the airport and hops on a plane to South America.

You by Ashley
Wherever I look
their you are
I see you
but yeat I don't
I want to talk to you
but I can't
I want to know you
but I'm scared
I want to let you go
but I'll miss you
I want to see you again
but I won't
by

An attention of pain by Eden Large
You can't hear my tears
You can't see the red eyes in bright lights.
Do you know that I am in pain?
I cry all night for attention, no one ever comes.
Always busy with someone else.
All I ever wanted was love.
You wonder why I bottle my problems deep inside.
You wonder why I don't ask for help.
You could never give me help, both so busy.
You never had a minute to spare, to listen to my pain.
Now I am suffering, I'm into deep.
There is no escape. I wish I had help now.
I wish someone could dig me out.
Did you know I had an eating problem?
Would you have cared?
Did you know that I make myself sick to see your reaction?
My head pounds, do you care?
My face is red from tears, did you notice?
Once I could open up to you, now my lips are sealed.
Sealed so tightly, I've tried so hard and so many times to open them.
Words never say it right.
The pain has been here for so long.
Once I relied on friends, I thought I could, but the only cared not only for themselves, but they only wanted an audience.
Now I need that audience, when I look around, everyone has gone.
The ones so close hurt me the most, the ones so far hurt me on the outside.
Wounds inflicted with hate, the scares never fade.
No one can help me now...
Too late for me to smile.
Too late for me to laugh.
Too late for me to stop the tears from falling.
Too late for me to talk.
Anyone, someone, won't you help me?
Won't you even try?

Fools of love by Eden Large
I don't want to admit you still hold my heart,
I am scared to say it but I want you back.
You treated my so cruel,
I was such a fool.
I try to move on slowly but surely I will make it.
Each day is a lie, and here I lay,
confessing the day you walked away,
was the day the tears came falling.
Shame hides inside.
Shameful for not seeing that you used me.
Did you love me?
Did you care?
Did it hurt you to see me cry?
Is this goodbye...
or just a brake?
I have no say, it's all on you, but you want her.
So you are the fool, you are the one missing out on all I have to give,
On all I have to love.
What is the truth for you leaving
You won't tell a soul, and my tears still come falling,
Until the words come flowing of your absence.
My Angel by ArabianHorseGrl
Taylor was special,
And even before she died,
She held a place in my heart,
That I am not afraid to hide,
I wish every day,
That she could come and see,
How much emptiness she left,
Within the heart of me,
When she died that horrible night,
It was a nightmare come true,
For I never go to say those special words to her,
I Love You
The Warped Mind of a Serial Killer (part 1) by Ashley
I know the first question on all of your minds is why I would want to write anything like this.Well I give you credit for this simply because any normal person would, but I think both me and you know that I'm nowhere near normal, therefore explaining the first portion of why.
Well another reason I am writing this is because for all the murders I committed I think I deserve more acclaim than I recieve for being a serial killer. I would like to look at myself more of a god.
In this personal biography of mine I attend to describe all the graphic details of my multiple murders. So let's get started shall we.
It all began when me, Skyla Masters, was born on October 31, 1980. I had the normal middle class family. I had no siblings so maybe this could contribute to the withdrawness I felt around others.
Let's move this story up some. I think we'll start in 85 on my fifth birthday. This was around the time I realized my abnormalness. All I had wanted for my birthday was a dog. So my parents, spoiling their only child, bought me a black lab puppy named Raven.
Well one day Raven was playing in the yard when my dad ran her over, completely on accident. He was pulling out of the driveway when Raven ran behind the car.
Raven's body was split into two pieces. Her intestines were all over the concrete pavement. Her brains in a puddle besides her head.
Well instead of acting like a normal child that I wasn't, I started laughing like an insane clown. My mother became worried at this so she took me inside.
Later that night when everyone had gone to bed, I snuck out of the house to see where my father had buried the remains of my dog. I located them behind the garage buried in a small spot.
I then started hearing voices that told me to DIG, so me being only 5 listened and dug up the remains.
When I had finally dug all of the remains up I found a jar besides the garage and placed them into the jar and took them to my room. I hid them under I loose board in my closet.
One day I was at school and there was a horrid smell coming from my room so my mother went to investigate. She looked all around the room but found nothing. Then she realized that the stench was coming from the closet so she looked around but still didn't see anything that could be related to what she smelt. She then noticed that a board was loose so she lifted it up.
She screamed in fright until she realized she wasn't alone. I was standing behind her now.
What was I to do? If I let her live she would tell my dad and they would have me committed. On-the-otherhand if I killed her I could make it look like an accident and no one would have to know my horrible secret.
Don't Start the Day with Doubts and Fear by Gladys
Don't start the day with doubts and fears
for where they live, faith disappears
Love won't grow in a gloomy heart
Where sorrows live and teardrops start

Don't give up before you've begun-
you still have time to get things done
Don't waste the time God's given you
Let him be praised in all you do

Don't be a quitter; you're not alone
we all must crawl before we're grown
There are no rainbows without rain-
there are no victories without pain

Don't let God down and run away;
you can't go back to yesterday...
Don't start the day with doubts and fears,
for where God lives, faith reappears
Travels with Christy by Danny McCaskill
Are we there yet?
by Danny McCaskill

Dustin and I settled into the very back-folding seat of the family wagon, a white
Chevrolet Impala estate wagon, with simulated wooden panels along the sides, and a
black vinyl interior, that in the heat of summer time, had seared the flesh off the back of
many a pair of legs in its day.

Nestled amongst the various paper bags, blankets, towels, and the metal 'Coleman' ice chest, our usual seating assignment for family outings, Dustin fiddled with the latch on the spare tire compartment, while I tried my best to hold onto our family dog. 'Christie', had a very bad habit of gouging the skin on your legs with her long-nailed paws if you made the mistake of trying hold her whenever she was excited about something. Even though it made her nervous as all get out to ride in a car, she loved the attention she got from a captive audience. She thoroughly enjoyed being petted and fussed over as she hopped from lap to lap on a long trip. I can see her now, sitting in Dillard's lap next to an open car window, propping herself up on the door handle, gleefully lapping at the rush of outside air that shot into the car. The force of the wind would make her eyes squint, and with her mouth hanging open, it looked as though she was smiling.

Dillard invented his own Christie vocabulary, and would whisper this strange language into her ear, and make cooingsounds as he petted her. He would say something like, "Beevie whirl, Beevie whirl". Old Christie would start whining, her tail would start wagging to beat the band, and she would lick at his chin and lips. I don't know what the canine translation of that phraseis, but it would always send old Christie into orbit when Dillard whispered it to her.

I had been given the task of keeping up with her on this particular trip, and seeing that
she was not left behind.

Mom was frantically running back and forth from house to car, making sure she had not
forgotten something important, or to turn off some electric appliance.

Dad stood vigil next to the open tailgate at the back of the car, rearranging everything that Morn had so meticulously packed earlier. Ferociously chewing a piece of 'Wrigley's Double-mint
gum, and checking his wristwatch every so often. He was a little irritated that his own
mental timetable was being delayed.

Dillard, Chelsea and Karen, my three older siblings were all standing next to the rear seat
passenger door, debating which two got window seats and which one got the drive
shaft hump. Everything from who got window seats last time, to which ones were the
oldest was being thrown into the argument. Karen was the meeker of the two, and more
often than not, if Morn or Dad didn't intervene, a teary-eyed Karen would resign to the
'hump'.

By now Dustin had grown impatient sitting in the sweltering rear compartment, and was
practicing free falls from the open tailgate. On his second or third attempt one of his
dangling shoelaces got caught in a sprocket on the edge of the gate, and he came real
close to busting his big round forehead on the concrete driveway below. I wanted to
laugh, but Dustin's monotone whimpering, and Dad's look of anger and concern told
me I better not. Dad dislodged the tangled shoelace, and told Dustin to get up. Not
one known for his sympathetic ways, he inspected Dustin's elbow and promptly told
him, "Quit crying, I've had worse places than that on my tongue". Dustin settled back
into the seat next to me and Christie and continued his infamous, barely audible, sobbing
that always drove Dillard crazy.

Having finally finished last minute chores in the house, Morn emerged carrying a
'Wrigley's Juicey-Fruit Plenti-pak’ in one hand, and a band-aid for Dustin's elbow in the
other. She gingerly placed the Band-Aid on his dirty scraped elbow and then gave us both
pieces of the juicey fruit gum. Crawling back out of the rear compartment, she headed
for her co-pilot's seat, while Dad slammed the gate closed. He checked his trusty
'Timex' one last time and breathed a heavy sigh of relief as he slid behind the wheel
and cranked the engine.

Finally we were off. Embarking on one of many trips to Galveston Island, and the
beach. Realizing that the car was in motion, Christie bolted from my lap, nearly
changing me from a 'G.I. Joe' to a 'Barbie' doll in one stroke. "Ouch!" I screamed
unnoticed. She bounded over the seat landing between Karen and Chelsea, and digging
her claws into Chelsea's thighs. Chelsea screamed in pain, but before she could react,
Christie was already hurdling the back of the front seat in her search for Morn.

Chugging along over the bumps and potholes of Beaver Bend Street, and smacking our
juicey fruit, Dustin couldn't resist the opportunity to sail his empty gum wrapper out the
open tailgate window. Dad's eagle-eye caught him in the act, and he quickly hit the
electric window button, sending it up. Now we would have to find other forms of
entertainment, on what seemed to us, a very long journey.

In those days the sixty something mile trip from Houston to Galveston seemed to take
an eternity, but then again, any trip that lasted more than thirty minutes seemed long to
us kids.

Sometimes we would play what we called 'car games' to pass the time, and
break up the monotony. Dillard invented all sorts of different games to play. One game
required players to shout, "Beep!" every time they spotted a particular color Volkswagen
Beetle. In those days V.W. Beetles were plentiful, so it didn't take long for the ear
shattering, "Beeps" shouted from the back of the car to annoy the hell out of Mom and
Dad. On especially long trips, Dillard would bring along pre-printed sheets of paper, that
contained a list of several specific items. Kind of like a scavenger hunt of sorts, the
player had to look for these items as we rode along, and mark them off the list as they
were spotted. Stuff like a cow, a water tower or a telephone booth. Sometimes really
hard stuff like a 'Sinclair* dinosaur gas station sign. There were very few of these still
around, even back then.

Dillard, Chelsea and Karen would also play a song game that Dustin and I were
considered far too young to participate in. The players would take turns singing part of
a song, and whatever word the first player ended on, the second player would have to
come up with an entirely different song, that contained the same word, and sing a
portion of the new song. Now the third player would have to pick up where the second
left off, singing yet another song. Thus the cycle would continue until someone was
stumped and eliminated, or the three grew bored with it all. Dillard would start it out
with something tike, "That's the way uh huh uh huh I like it...", Chelsea would chime in
with, "It aint gonna rain no more no more...", and Karen would finish that round with,
"More than a woman..." Something like that. Like I said, Dustin and I were never
permitted to play because we held the game up too long.

We were finally nearing the outskirts of the neighborhood, and I could see the familiar
green and red sign of Tom Grantham's Texaco gas station. Just then, Dad whipped
the car off of West Mount Houston Road and into Tom's lot. Mom was already fishing
around in her purse for the credit card that read, "Texaco - S.Sgt. James McCaskill",
one of the last remnants of Dad's old army days. Twenty two years he had given his
country, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant. He rolled down his window as he inched
the car along side the pump island. "Fill 'er up with Sky Chief”, he barked to the greasy
attendant with bad teeth that approached our car. Dustin begged Dad to let the back window down again, saying that we were burning up. Almost in the same breath, he asked Morn if he could have a coke from Tom Grantham's vending machine. She replied no, just like she usually did, but I guess he figured it was worth trying.

Tom always kept those little 6 1/2 ounce bottles of Coca- Cola ice cold in his machine. For some reason it seemed like they tasted better than any other Coke, in cans or in other sizes. There was nothing else better in the world to a kid on a hot summer day, than a little 6 1/2 ounce bottle of 'Co-Cola'.

Dustin sulled up at Morn's negative reply, but it didn't last long. Just then a white
Volkswagen Beetle raced under the Interstate 45 over-pass, and Dustin yelled, "Beep!
I got one!" Not wanting to let Dustin get one up on me, I started scanning the area for
my first white V.W. Beetle. I couldn't spot one quick enough to suit me, so I started
watching two little black boys that caught my eye. They were pedaling their way
towards the gas station on bicycles. One was riding a ten speed that was far too big for
him. He had to push forward one pedal at a time. Mashing one pedal down, he would
wait until the opposing pedal came up, so his foot could reach it. They wheeled into the gas station next to our car, and dismounted. The little one on the ten speed used the high curb of the pump island to get off of his, and almost fell face first into a big cement planter. He quickly regained his composure, and grabbed the compressed air hose mounted next to the planter. Attaching the nozzle to the valve stem on the ten speeds front tire, he began filling it with air. I continued to watch curiously. The tire appeared to have adequate air pressure to me. Several seconds
elapsed, when suddenly the peaceful summer air that meandered through the open
windows of our car was suddenly and violently interrupted by a small explosion.
"FOPPP-SISSSSSS!" Immediately Dad's head whipped around, no doubt thinking that
Dustin or I had done something we shouldn't have. Simultaneously, the little boy let
out a loud squeal. He dropped the air hose and, with his thumb and index finger,
pinched the sidewalls together on the, now, flat as a pancake front tire. Pathetically, he
would alternate pinching the tire a while, and wailing for a while. Dustin and I burst
out laughing, and were quickly reprimanded by Morn, who had figured out what was
going on. "Don't laugh", she ordered, "That's probably all he has." We put our hands
over our mouths and continued to giggle uncontrollably. The little boys friend glared at us scornfully as the two gathered their bicycles and slowly left.

Eventually, the station attendant returned to Dad’s window with the credit car clipboard in hand. Dad took the credit card out of the slot and handed it to Mom as he scribbled his signature across the receipt, and handed the apparatus back to the attendant. Steve, I guess his name was, at least that was the name embroidered above the breast pocket of his light green Texaco shirt, took the paper out of the clip, examined it briefly and handed a copy to Dad. Handing the slip of paper to Mom, Dad rolled his window up, cranked the engine and turned on the air conditioner. This time, much to Dustin’s disappointment, he did not forget to close the tailgate window as well.

Christie flew over the front seat, as if by catapult, pausing momentarily on the edge, then diving towards Dillard’s lap. Dad inched the family battle cruiser back into West Mount Houston traffic, then floored it, trying to beat the light at the feeder road. All heads snapped backwards due to the sudden acceleration, and Mom chewed on Dad’s ear as we passed under the I-45 over-pass.

At last we were Galveston bound. Half a day had already been wasted it seemed, and suddenly I had this terrible premonition. I could see the station wagon pulling onto a desolate beach, quiet except for a few squawking sea gulls, then me dashing from the back of the car and running towards the surf. Just as I reached the waters edge, the sun, which was already hanging low in the sky, plunged below the horizon, as if in fast motion. Night had fallen before I had even gotten my feet wet, and I could hear Dad’s voice echoing through the sand dunes, ordering me back to the car. Snapping back into reality, I panicked and asked the dreaded travel question, “Dad, how long before we get there?” Harmonic moans came from my three older siblings as Dad looked quizzically at me in the rear view mirror, and replied, “We just got started”. Slumping back into my seat, I said a small prayer to myself that my vision would not come to pass.

Mom clutched the dashboard in a white-knuckle death grip, as Dad zipped along the multi-laned freeways that inter-wound in and around Houston, like a giant bowl of pasta, with no apparent rhyme or reason. “Brakes! Brakes, Mack!” She would scream from time to time. Most of the time he would ignore these outbursts, but occasionally he would reply, “I see him, I see him.” Back in those days almost no one wore safety belts. My mother was under the mistaken impression that one could avoid serious injury in a frontal collision, simply by extending the arms forward and bracing against the dash. She also believed that she could do the same in the event the car decided to roll over, by extending her arms above her head towards the roof and bracing against that. Much to Dad’s dismay and utter embarrassment, she was not the least bit hesitant to use these techniques when riding with him. The rear passenger seat faced backwards, so Dustin and I had a fine view of the mean looks and ugly gestures that Dad’s driving conjured from other motorists.

Dad’s philosophy for traveling was, “Go all out until you’re there.” This plan allowed no time for stopping and smelling the roses, eating or peeing for that matter. Regardless of how long the trip happened to be. The only time he would stop was for fuel, and then only because he had to. It was like asking for divine intervention to get him to stop at a restaurant for a bite to eat. It was like getting an act from congress to get him to stop so that you could relieve yourself. His customary reply was, “You should have gone before we left the house”. It didn’t matter that home was some five hundred miles ago, and these words were of little comfort to a kid with a full bladder on a bumpy Texas highway.

Dustin now had nine Volkswagen “beetles’ to his credit, while I only had six. Partly because I had fallen asleep somewhere on the 610 loop, and partly because I kept forgetting that we were playing this silly game.

I glanced out the side window, and saw a familiar landmark. The magnificent steel towers and structures of the Texas City, Texas oil refineries and chemical plants. Some of these gleaming towers sported tremendous blue and yellow eternal flames at the top. Others billowed plumes of white and black smoke. It was absolutely beautiful at night. Thousands upon thousands of twinkling multi-colored lights dazzling the Texas sky, accented by the brilliant ominous glow of the perpetual flames.

Passing by this meant that Galveston Island was just around the next bend. Soon, we were ascending the incline of the Galveston causeway. An impressive marvel of modern engineering that linked the island to the mainland. Looking down I could see the ancient viaduct with its huge rusty iron drawbridge. Paralleling the new causeway, it had once served the same purpose. Now it stood as a reminder of mans ever-increasing technology. Still serving the trains that rumbled to and from the island, and used by locals as a fishing pier. The big black-orange drawbridge stood raised upright most of the time now, allowing clear passage of barges and pleasure craft. Lowered only for the occasional approaching train. I gazed at the tan bricked bridge tender’s house next to it, and wondered if it was still manned. Perhaps it was now operated by a device similar to the “Genie Automatic Garage Door Opener” I had seen advertised on television. Maybe the train conductor simply pushed a button on a remote control device to lower and raise the bridge.

Hundreds of red, pink and white flowers on oleander bushes now dotted the center divider, telling me that we were now officially on the island. I jerked my head to the right hoping to catch a glimpse of the old sunken shrimp boat. It had been there in a small inlet beside the bridge for years. Abandoned and sad looking, its hull battered and weathered. I often wondered what had caused it to flounder.

Dad maneuvered around several slower vehicles, then squeezed his way between a Ford Pinto wagon loaded with what looked like about ten Mexicans and a shiny black Cadillac Seville with dark tinted windows. “Mack! Mack!” howled Mom, when it looked like we were about to clip the front bumper on the ‘Caddy’. “Oh, Margaret, I see him.” Dad muttered. He was trying to jockey for a better position. By getting into the outside lane he would be ready for the quickly approaching 61st Street off ramp. Traffic was heavy. Mostly Houston tourists like us I suppose. On weekends they would flock to the island in droves. Seawall Boulevard would be as thick as molasses with bumper to bumper stop and go traffic. Completely saturating the beaches, they would play and frolic in the sun and surf all day, with their folding chairs and picnic baskets, spend very little money locally, and then slither back over the cause-way at dusk, like marching columns of ants in the fading orange sun. Usually leaving behind a multitude of trash and rubbish in their wake.

I always liked to think that we did not fit into the generalized category of tourists, but I guess technically we did. Somehow, I thought that since Mom was born and raised on the island, and still had much of her side of the family living on the island, that it gave me some sort of inherited right to claim it. Proclaimed on honorary resident or local if you will.

Galveston has always fascinated and intrigued me. With its rich colorful history, magnificent homes, mansions and landmarks, and the grand tales that were passed down by my grandfather and his brother. Stories about the legendary treasure hunts that several locals, including their own father, had participated in. For years the infamous pirate Jean Laffitte made Galveston his homeport. He and his den of thieves carved out a safe house in Campeche Cove, and enjoyed the fruits of their Gulf of Mexico ship raiding endeavors. That is until they pissed off the newly formed Republic of Texas government, and had to make a stealthy retreat into the night. Local legend has it that old Jean Laffitte left behind untold buried treasure in his haste. I have always had a mental image of where the treasure may be buried. I don’t know if someone else planted this image in my head years ago, or where it comes from, but I envision a grove of cedar trees marking the location of the loot. I don’t know where I got this idea, but it seems so fresh in my mind. My grandfather told us a story of how his father had gone away with some other men to look for the treasure. When he returned he was visibly shaken about something he had witnessed. My grandfather said that the men had uncovered something while digging, and whatever it was terrified them, and stopped them dead in their tracks. My grandfather said that his father never told a soul what it was that he had seen, and would grow pale and uncomfortable when the subject was raised.

There were also tales of Galveston’s glory days. Glitzy gambling casinos, speak-easies and nightclubs, with secret hide-away compartments and passageways, designed to thwart the efforts of the raiding Texas Rangers. The Balinese Room built on top of a pier was purposely designed with an unusually long corridor that stretched from the entrance to the gaming rooms. Whoever was working the front door simply had to press a secret button when the Rangers made their entry; thereby alerting those in the back. The long hallway bought a little time, and hopefully any incriminating evidence could be disposed of long before the Rangers could reach it. A secret panel would open and the gambling tables would be hidden away, or a lever would be pulled and the floor would open. It is said that many a slot machine and roulette wheel found watery graves in the warm gulf water beneath the club. All the big name stars of the era made visits to Galveston. Some to play and some to perform in the nightclubs.

Dad was busy checking his outside mirrors and glancing over his shoulder as he eased the car into the right turn lane. He always had this look of serious determination when he was driving, especially in a congested area, and you best not talk too loud or try and ask him a stupid question when he was like that. You just might get your head chewed off. Soon we were off the freeway and making the turn onto 61st Street. A cluster of sickly, two-by-four, supported palm trees marked the entrance to the Offits Bayou bridge. Scores of brightly colored sailboats, paddleboats and ski boats littered the shimmering blue water on either side.

The weather could not have been better. Crystal clear baby blue skies with temperatures in the mid-eighties. A gentle gulf breeze would make the stifling Texas humidity bearable.

The excitement of nearing our destination was too much for me, and I fidgeted restlessly in my seat. Dustin and I sat up, taking in as many sights as our tiny brains could register. People everywhere. Cars with surfboards mounted on the top, others pulling boats, and motorcycles and scooters zipping along beside us. “Oooh, look at that one!” Dustin shouted, pointing at a psychedelic V.W. dune buggy, with an equally breathtaking, bikini-clad cutie clutching its roll bar. It was like a completely different world to us. Strange and exotic.

Turning from 61st Street onto Stewart Road, I caught a glimpse of the familiar A-frame of the “What-A-Burger” hamburger stand. Dustin pronounced it “Water burger”, and try as you might, you could not convince him otherwise. It reminded me of a previous visit. One of those rare episodes when Dad splurged and bought take-out food for the entire family, and with a family of seven, it was indeed splurging, even in those days. We always had the worst luck with take-out food orders though. Invariably, we would arrive home with four or five bags of burgers and fries, and occasionally, on really rare instances, fountain drinks, and when someone unloaded the bags we would be minus a burger, a packet of fries or a drink, sometimes all three. Usually, mom would do without the missing item. I guess that sort of thing falls into the “Mother’s Code of Ethics” handbook. Chapter three, page seven I think. It always made me feel sorry for her, and I would have great difficulty swallowing my “Big Mac” or “Belt-Buster”. One time, I guess she had finally had enough. We had all gathered around the kitchen table for the ceremonious ‘unloading’ of the fast food bags. Suddenly it was discovered that a burger had been left out. Old Margaret Ellen kept her cool at first, counting and recounting each item. After the third count she began to turn a brilliant shade of crimson, and I’m almost certain that I actually saw smoke coming out of her ears. She slammed her hand down onto the Formica table and began to curse and shout. Then she slammed each burger and each packet of fries back into the bags. All except for the wad of french fries that Dustin was already chewing. She herded us all back out to the car, loaded us back into it, and left rubber all the way down Rockcliff Drive. The car felt like it actually left the ground at one point, as we careened off Gulf Bank Road and into the Dairy Queen parking lot. Mom brought old “Betsy”, her pet name for every car she has ever owned, to screeching halt within inches of the drive-thru window. Still clutching the bags of food in clinched fists, she swung the car door open and stomped toward the window marked, “Order here”. A pointed-paper-hat wearing Aldine high school sophomore with a bad case of acne had the misfortune of being the poor soul on the opposite side of the sliding window. She tore right into him, showing no mercy. Recounting all the times past that she had been short-changed by a fast food restaurant. It didn’t matter that all those other times were at some other restaurant. By the time she was finished with him, he was a quivering heap of adolescence. I thought he was going to cry at one point, and if it hadn’t been for the intervention of the short, afro-ed, Aretha Franklin-looking assistant manager, he probably would have. Ten minutes later, the order was right, and Mom coolly drove us all home for cold burgers and fries. We didn’t return to Dairy Queen for months. I don’t know if it was out of anger or embarrassment.

The tires made a real neat humming noise and this particular stretch of Stewart Road, and with the back seat situated directly over the rear axle, it made our insides tingle. We were passing the backside of Sea-A-Rama Marine World. I had always wondered what the word “A-Rama” meant, but had never asked. I leaned into the side window as far as I could, hoping to catch a glimpse of the activity that went on in this place. I couldn’t see anything for the large blue and white wooden fence and shrubbery that surrounded it, but decided that I would pretend that I had, just to mess with Dustin. “Did you see that!?” I shouted enthusiastically. “What?” Dustin asked. “I just saw a dolphin jump up above that fence!” I replied. “Where?” He shouted, crowding over to my side of the car. “Right there”, I said, pointing in the direction of the fence. Dustin stared for a few moments and then finally declared, “No you didn’t”. “Ah ha, made you look!” I shouted triumphantly. He cowered back to his side of the seat and sulked, knowing he had been had.

We were only a couple miles from West Beach now, our ultimate destination. Dad had purposely chosen this route so as to avoid the thick traffic on Seawall Boulevard. “Look at that airplane!” Dustin shouted suddenly, pointing in the direction of Scholes Field, Galveston’s municipal airport, which was to our right. I knew this was only his feeble attempt to try and even the score in the game of “Made you look”, and I wasn’t buying into for a minute. Instead I immediately looked down at my shoe, and began humming while I played with my shoelaces. This really made him mad, and he sat pouting with his bottom lip protruding to such an extent that you could have probably set a teacup on it.

Dad made several turns, getting us back to the main highway. Where the sea wall ended, at the west end of the island, State Highway six began. If you stayed on this highway it would eventually take you to the toll bridge at San Luis Pass. It connected the extreme southwestern tip of the island to the peninsula of Freeport and Lake Jackson.

Dad made one more turn, and we were off the paved road onto the white, blistering hot sand of West Beach. In those days you were allowed to drive your car right onto the beaches. Right out into the water if you were fool enough. This was the same beach used in the movie “Terms of Endearment”, where Jack Nicholson’s character drives his corvette into the surf. Many an ignorant out-of-towner had ventured a little too far off the beaten path, and buried the family car up to its axles in the shifting sand. My Uncle Doug, with his old red and white “Phillips 66” tow truck could pick-up a nice piece of change on weekends pulling them out.

Dad lowered the tailgate glass while he scanned the area for a suitable parking space. Warm, sandy salt-filled air poured in through the opening, coating our hair and skin instantly with beach film. West beach was full of folks, but it was not near as crowded as some of the more popular beaches on the east side, like Stewart beach and East Beach, of that I was sure. Dad found an empty stretch right next to a huge piece of driftwood, and backed the car in as close as he dare. Before the car had come to a complete stop Dustin and I were tumbling out of the tailgate. Only to be halted in our tracks by shouts from Mom, telling us that we had to help carry some of our cargo. Everyone grabbed blankets, towels and bags and began carrying them to the site that mom had selected. She was already spreading the big green wool army blanket across the sand. The heavy metal “Coleman” ice chest was Dad’s responsibility. Chock full of soda, sandwiches and ice that Mom had packed for the trip. He tugged it from the back of the car and manhandled it across the sand. This was one of those rare times when Dad wore anything besides long pants, and his fish-belly-white legs glared in the afternoon sun. Depositing it next to the blanket he paused for a moment to stretch and catch his breath. Immediately, he noticed that his belly hung over the front of his swimming trunks just a tad. He dedicated himself to sucking it in for he remainder of the day, as he pranced around like a peacock with his chest stuck out. He was sucking it in with such intense effort that I thought he might cause some sort of huge vortex right there on the beach. I could just imagine people running and screaming as umbrellas, towels and chairs hurled through the air.

We had a ball that day. Playing in the waves, building sandcastles and searching for seashells with Mom. I was thankful that my earlier vision had not come true.

Finally, the time came to pack every thing back into the car, shake off the excess sand, and climb back in for the long ride home. Dad’s, once stark white legs now sported a pinkish-red glow. Chelsea complained bitterly about the huge glob of Gulf of Mexico tar that had somehow found the side of her new Keds tennis shoes. There would be no travel games on the ride home, everyone was much too tired and grumpy for that. Even old Christy was exhausted. She lay in Dillard’s lap and did not move.

Back to the Houston suburb of Northwood, and back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Mom would most likely do all the unpacking, while everyone else scrambled for baths and showers.

-End-







Dafodil Orchestra by Natasha Day
Among weeds and scattered garden rocks,
A green pinnacle emerges from the depths of the ground.
Stretching out towards the sunlight,
It sprouts two symmtrical reed - like leaves.
Time crawls; the glaucious structure grows.
It is a daffodil.

From the verdure a slender stem drifts up
And on the end a distended shape forms.
Inside this cluster of mystery
An obscured orchestra lies, tuning the instruments.

The opening phase - an orange trumpet plays
Getting bolder and brighter
As the crescendo begins.
The yellow petals blow in the breeze
While the golden saxophones
Emit jazz music.

Loud beats from the drums can be heard
As more blooms explode - booming.
Then they stop abruptly and snow swirls downwards
Making a white paradise.

The concert finale makes the daffodil
Wither; back to the soil, back to the bulb
Where the snowflakes bury it
After the annual daffodil orchestra.

A Mad Beer Dash by Dave Elliott
And it goes like this.
And I look at my watch, and it’s exactly 1:48 am, and Mark and Jeannie are standing in front of me.
And they tell me they want to make a beer run, and I tell them it’s too late, they’ll never make the circle k before 2 am, when they stop selling beer. And they laugh and Jeannie really looks beautiful tonight and Mark just looks a little drunk and tired and I think to myself that Mark looks like he’s aged about ten years over the last three months. And they get into someone’s car, I’m not sure whose, and I’m not even sure what kind of a car it is. It’s sort of round, sort of blue, and it looks like an Easter egg on wheels. And they start the engine, with drunken Mark driving, and the stereo is turned up way too loud and I hear dance music pouring out of the car and I hear Jeannie laugh over the music. And she keeps on laughing, and I like that about her. And Mark finally gets the stereo turned down and the car into reverse, and they back out. As Mark tries to move the car forward in the street it jumps and stalls because Mark isn’t very good with a stick shift when he’s sober and even worse when he’s drunk. He starts the car again, they drive off, and I can hear Jeannie laughing even when the taillights are little red specks in the distance. But that may be in my head since I’ve heard her laugh so much tonight.
And I look at my watch again, it’s 1:50 am now, and I know that they will not make it in time to get beer. It’s warm and muggy outside on the driveway, where I sit in shorts and a tshirt with a big plastic cup of melting ice in my hand. And I stand up, close my eyes, and I can hear the others, partying in the back yard. And almost everyone is drunk, bouncing on the trampoline in the back yard, and my girlfriend is back there, and she is having more fun in the back with my friends. And I don’t mind, like I told her earlier, I will not be very good company tonight. And she said to me, okay, I’ll just mingle, and I thought to myself that I don’t like the word mingle too much, and I kissed her and she has been in the back yard and I have been sitting in the driveway and now I need a drink.
And as I walk through the door into the living room, metallica is loud from the stereo, and it’s their new “black” album and I haven’t quite figured out if I like it yet or not, but it sounds better now that I have a buzz going on in my head. I walk to the dining room and the table is oak and it is covered with paper bags beer cans plastic cups ashtrays empty cigarette packs coke bottles orange juice bottles and other various things that get piled on tables at parties. And I sit down at the table in an oak chair and set my cup on the table and realize that many people have spilled or dripped sticky liquid on the table and that the table will require a good cleaning before brad’s parents come home and then I wonder where I will go when brad’s parents come home and this is too much for me right now and I grab the nearly empty half-gallon rum bottle. And I do what has come to be known as the “thumb rule” by placing my thumb over the rim of my plastic cup, bent at the first knuckle and then pour rum until it touches my thumb. And then I find the half empty coke bottle and it’s warm and I pour coke until the cup is full and then I take my thumb and I suck the liquid off of it and it burns my tongue a little bit but not much. I take a sip and almost shudder but not quite and I look out back, through the sliding glass door and about ten people are on the trampoline including my girlfriend, bouncing up and down and everyone is smiling and I let a small smile touch my face and then I stand up and walk back through the living room.
The metallica sounds better to me and I pause in the living room long enough to light a cigarette and take a big drag and then I head back out to the driveway. The lawn chair is sitting exactly as I left it, and of course it would be, since everyone is in the back yard. I sit down and check my watch and wonder how Mark and Jeannie’s mad beer dash is going. It’s now 1:58 am, and I’m not sure they’ve even had time to get to the circle k, but I find myself sort of hoping that they did, and I realize I’m pulling for them, like they’re in a contest or something. I take a drink of my rum and coke, which is entirely too strong and grimace a little, and take a drag off of my cigarette, because it seems to somehow dull the taste. I think about when my girlfriend got to brad’s house earlier, and I told her that I wasn’t going to be very good company. She went to the back yard and I watched a little while then, and they were all just talking and drinking, and I saw that brad kept on touching my girlfriend’s arm when he spoke to her, and I think about that now. I wonder if he likes my girlfriend, and I wonder if she likes him, and I don’t know how much I like either one of them right now, and I look at my watch again. It’s 2:07 am, and I hear a car coming down the street, cruising down brittany circle, and it sounds like the easter egg that Mark and Jeannie drove off in. I see headlights finally, and I see a silhouette of a cat moving in the headlights, and I don’t know what color the cat is or how close the car is to it, but the cat isn’t moving and I see the car’s lights swerve a little bit, hear the tires kind of squeak and the car swings over and the cat jumps and I hear a thump and the cat hits the pavement hard and then I can’t see it because the car is over it and here comes Mark and Jeannie pulling into the driveway and the muffled music coming from the car is led zeppelin and Jeannie jumps out of the driver’s side and Mark gets out of the passenger’s side and he’s holding a case of beer triumphantly and Jeannie has her arms raised high like a prize fighter who just won a belt and I see the keys gripped in her fist and she’s laughing and she says see, I told you we’d make it. Mark is laughing, and he tells me how they ran through the store and got to the counter just in time and now they have more beer and everyone will be happy in the back including my girlfriend who has already had several beers and will probably vomit later. I think about the cat, and I casually ask them if they saw a cat when they were coming down the street and Jeannie says yep, I tried to miss it, but she doesn’t quit laughing when she says this and she looks at Mark and winks and I didn’t know that she was the type of person who would run over a cat and suddenly her laughter isn’t that nice to me. They walk inside with the case of beer prize and I decide to walk out back and see my girlfriend because I need to ask her if she wants to sleep with brad and I think I might jump on the trampoline for a few minutes if everyone else comes inside for beer. And I wonder, who’d have thought that they’d make it in time?

Thing by Dave Elliott
i can't really talk about anything because i don't really know anything so when i'm able to know something i'll tell you another thing how's that for a whole lot of nothing i just want one thing and it's the opposite of nothing that's right it's something but something is another thing when you don't know anything actually if you'll please tell me how to stop this thing i promise i'll give you everything

i'm as pitiful as you
well...maybe not
what's the word
(world)
i'm searching for?
sleepy?
calm?
normal?
i guess it doesn't matter
i've spent too many hours
searching for words
(worlds)
...
by

Patina by Travis Bates
Only when the wind blows do we get to sing
Whether it be a blue northern or a heavy breeze of spring

We have to sit here quietly when the wind is still
silent hanging columns weathered natures teal

We once entranced a mocking bird it happened just last spring
He couldnt whistle what he heard so he just listened to us ring

We are second generation now, on our second set of strings
So when you hear those like us will you listen to their rings

Because only when the wind blows do we get to sing


Your worthless perants (incompleat) by Nathan
I only wanted to be with you
I did all I could for you
I neglected my life for you

But you let your perants tell you
I just wanted to screw with you
loaf around drag you down
and stick it up into you

But wher was your alky dad every day
when you would run from your house
to me crying and say

My stepmonsters a bitch!
and I just can't take her damnshit

And what about your Dad!

What kind of a father stays with a bitch
whos son raped his 13 year old daughter
son of a bitch!

If that fucking shit had
half a dick and some class
he would have tossed that leach bitch
out on her fat fucking ass
taken a claw hamer to the little shit pig's prick
and put it in a perminant cast!

A little weather in the canyon lands on the high southern plains of the Texas panhandle by Travis Bates
A slow thunder rolled and through the sound it snowed well into the morn

Pockets of aged ceder rooted in the red and grey inner earth of the canyons
thrust brilliant green against the new white shadowed cold blue

Amidst the scene a spirited wind amused itself spinning heavy flakes into
the banded cliffs

The air chilled pristine the observations vividly serene time became a long ridge suspended

Offered prayer to that one up there and walked along the edge of the plain
and the many splintered chasms

Wandering towards a cave while white dropped steadily away collecting on the deepening floors
Earth, Wind, Fire and Water by Rick
PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE
EARTH, WIND, FIRE AND WATER

As much as humans would like to think they are in charge, it is not so. We are nothing more than another species living on the face of the earth. Like all others, we are subject to the laws and rules set by nature.
No matter how much technology is developed by mankind, he will never gain the upper hand and be in charge of nature. Think about that for a moment. The worst man can be is when he goes to war. Terrible weapons of mass destruction are unleashed by both sides in an effort to win. Everything around pays the price. The land is destroyed, the animals killed and the air made unbreathable. But when the war ends and the area is left to nature, within a very short period of time you would never know that a war had taken place. Nature cures it self of all damage created by anything within nature. Nature will always be in charge.
When a person becomes aware and comfortable with this fact, his life becomes better. The heading of this information represents the four parts of nature. To be a true martial artist, you must understand each and know how they apply directly to you and your life. This is your introduction to the four.

EARTH: This is the foundation on which all exist. Without earth, there would be nothing for there would be no place to be.
In your life, earth is your foundation. It is your mind and your body. To be one with earth, your body is sound and your mind pure. You use your ability to think to its absolute maximum. You look at everything from as many points of view as you can. You gather as much information about everything around you. You keep an open mind at all times. You use all your senses equal to each other. You always see past what you see and hear past what you hear. You are tolerant of all things and always react the same way to the same situation. You are solid, you are earth.

WIND: The movement of air. The carrier of natures' awareness. Natures' wrath or Natures love. The envelope of life for all living things on the surface of the earth. Without wind, earth would exist. But without the whispers of life. Earth would be a dead, cold, lifeless place of no use to anyone or anything.
In your life, wind is your ability to apply your senses so as to measure all you see, all you hear, all you touch, all you smell and all you taste. To be one with wind is to be able to understand all the messages your senses collect for you. To be able to correlate all the gathered information and feel within your very being what is important, what is not. What has priority and what can wait. What is good and what is bad. How to react to how you feel. Your wind is the whispering of all your senses working at the same time.

FIRE: The soul of the earth. It is the warmth to calm the rage. It is the wrath that will destroy everything. It is virtuous when controlled, a total abomination when not.
In your life, fire is your ability to control your emotions. It gives you the understanding and tenderness of love and the warmth of friendship. But it also gives you the ability to unleash the monsters of your id. To be one with fire is to be able to control your emotions when it would seem to be impossible. To apply your love with only what you mean. To know when to rage and when to feel compassion for your enemy. Your fire is your sword. You must know when to use it. And, when you pull it from its scabbard, you must know what to do with it as well as how much to do.

WATER: The very essence of life. The carrier of purity. A world within a world. The forever changing liquid that forever remains the same.
In your life, water is your ability to change. To be one with water, you must be fluid; as nothing stops water, (it simply finds another way.) so too, must be your ability to adapt to change. Water is your ability to be anything you need to be as long as you need to be it. Water is the way.

Rick Boutcher
3rd Dan Kempo / 1st Dan Tang sung do / Grand Master Hammer Hand Karate

Bear fighting by Travis Bates
Blue arrow dreamed deeply into the early morning. Beautiful memories were acted out as they raced by each one depositng emotions into his soul which expanded to accomodate them. Love joy pride happiness comfort and pleasure a rich cache collected from his aged life. Truly he was blessed he thought as stared into a river whose current carried the reflecting sunlight and transformed it into the visions of the best experiences of his time on earth. Winning the long race for the first time, finding his spiritual guidance, becoming a leader, winning the love of Singing Pollen, the birth and growth of his daughters. The sweet reminiscense began fading away and then he could feel the presence of his beastly advesary. The stench engulfed him. He washed his face in the cold river wanting to wake, it took his breath away. His courage swelled incited by anger. The bear who always wants to fight chose the wrong dream to interupt. He turned to face the stinking bear who growled through his grin. He looked stronger and meaner than ever before and stood pawing the to make it kwown that he was. Blue arrow unsheathed his flint hunting knife with its blood red blade, but he had much more than that he had a reason to live a while longer. The warrior moved forward "dont tempt me" the old grizzly growled "but soon and final". "You are wise to leave today" Blue Arrow thundered raising his knife in the air "because if you had come forward you would be singing your death song". The angry monster stood again and bellowed out a furious growl. Wounds split open and thick blood oozed out, the battle scars of the many wanderings into Blue Arrows dreams. The same fate befell the man, and now he lay in a heap. There had once been a peace with the bear but that faded as the boy grew to man. The injuries of all of the combat with the bear over the years racked him in pain, the antithesis of the joy he had known only moments before. Broken shoulder, ear dangling, a large chunk of his back missing, busted jaw, and shredded skin he lay there bleeding. The bear bawled loudly, triumphantly. He tried to move but he couldn't he spit out teeth. Might he not wake this time. He tried but the effort caused him to black out. When he came back from the dark the respected Blue arrow sighed at his plight. He noticed a new beastly smell it wasnt the bear, wolves instead. They were on top of him quickly. He silently cursed the bear for not finishing it. Blue Arrow had been in deadly situations before. He reached deep inside even as the savage cannines tore into him and focused on the lithic totem the creator had granted him upon manhood. They were all about his head now, and then he woke up to realize there really were wolves all over him. They were the puppies of his favorite bitch, who had wandered into his stone and morter house and woke him from his moonlit slumber. Laughter exploded out of him! sending the mischievious pups scrambling for the exit and sliding on the smooth clay floor. Singing Pollen awoke unsettled "husband" she started. "It is allright only a dream" he consoled. "A dream", she softened "a funny dream?". "Yes a funny dream", to remind me of what I needed to do today". "I worry about your dreams" she said into his ear ear. "Do not worry" he replied, "they give strength to my suol". He kissed his wife and happily settled back into rest.
Sunny snowy day by Travis Bates


One partly cloudy day two hundred miles from home, I took a hike a ways. Following a stream up into a stretch of the Sangre De Christo mountains I was bidding my time in the mid of the day while the objects of my affections took an afternoon break to discuss the mornings action. I Came to a place a sunny glade with flowers fern and tall waterfalls. I spotted a trail leading up to where the cold water fell and wondered if I should climb. As I stood there in warming new spring sun I could see it snowing up there where I was going. Taking a deep breath of that piney smelling air, I wished I had a good hiking stick. There it lay neath some of last years leaves dead and brown and drawing the attention of me. I broke it off at the desired length which was no easy task, but it turned out just fine with a loud snap. It was perfect, a grip for the hand and as sturdy as I wanted. It helped me up the steep mountain stairway and I was in the snow. Lofty flakes fell all around and into a pool the emergence of springs out of the cool musky earth. From the edge I looked down into the sunny glade and its sparkling stream. A whirl of snowflakes cascaded in front of me as if in defiance of the sunlight in thier background. It seemed I was witnessing the last tears of one season and the first steps of another. I went back down to my new friends old place where the sun warmed my face. Then cimmbed back up into the white falling flakes and looked out upon the creators green splendor. Finally my friend and I left to land some more trout one sunny snowy day.
The Cake Jumps Out of the Girl by Tam
“Courtney! Courtney, are you all right?”
Blood. The sweet, clean, enigmatic smell of blood, Courtney thought, as she cut her wrist again with her razor. She winced heavily at the pain, yet a strange sense of comfort washed over her, as well as an inner feeling that everything was going to be all right. She sighed in relief. Fighting hard to stop more stinging tears from rolling past her eyelashes, she weakly leaned against one side of the toilet cubicle.
“Courtney? Come out of there, please!”
“What’s wrong?”
“What are you doing in there?”
The concerned voices of her three best friends simply seemed to wash over her head. Then, a sharper, more mature voice joined them.
“Courtney? Courtney darling? Are you all right?”
It was her Geography teacher, Mrs Spires. Courtney hastily wiped away her tears with the back of one hand, and wrapped a tissue round her bleeding wrist.

She’s a tormented child, totally messed up. She’s become so skinny now, because she’s been throwing up all her meals. I should know, I’ve heard her in the evenings. She wants her dad back. But she can’t have him. He’s stuck firmly in the past.

“Ha-ha-ha!” The sound of echoing laughter came from one table at the back of the school canteen.
“So, Katie thinks she’s going out with Kian from Westlife? All that LSD is finally starting to work then!” Leah Young’s ridiculing voice boomed above the general buzz of chatter.
A nervous titter arose from the other two girls at the table.
Leah frowned and swirled a chip in her ketchup. “Aww, come on you guys, we can’t keep worrying about Courtney all the time. We tried to be there for her, but she turned us away. We’ve done all we can.”
Samantha Oliver chewed on a slice of her vegetarian pizza. “Hell-lo! If we don’t do something, who knows what’s gonna happen to her? She’s been getting worse and worse. Do you remember when we tried on those gypsy t-shirts in Miss Selfridge the other day? Her ribcage stuck out a mile, and her collarbones were so sharp you could dice carrots with them!”
Rachel Jiminez lit a cigarette, her clear hazel eyes clouding over in thought. Out of all the girls, she was Courtney’s closest friend. The pair had been best mates ever since primary school, and now they were in the same A-Level Geography class in the sixth form of Oakwood Grammar School.
“We should really get her some professional help, like counselling or something. Or maybe we should tell her mum first,” Sam suggested.
Rachel coughed out a cloud of cigarette smoke. “No way! It’s partly her mum’s fault that all this is happening. She shouldn’t have started going out with Vile Nigel so soon after Courtney’s dad died.”
“Yeah, but she must have guessed by now. If your daughter loses that much weight in the space of three months, she clearly has an eating disorder,” Leah reasoned.
The three girls finished their lunch in silence.

Hmm. It’s the 8th March 2000 and I have been faced with a boring Saturday afternoon. I am staring at a girl with big hips and fleshy arms who has limp, blonde hair and a disgusting zit on her chin. Her hand reaches out to me and wipes lipstick off the mirror. See Dad’s old Arsenal t-shirt lying on the bed. I used to go to every game with him… Richard Davis was his name.
Vile Nigel’s taken Mum to some posh restaurant in Covent Garden, after which they’re gonna see Kathleen Turner’s strip-tease in The Graduate. Old Nige has a bit of an obsession with women’s naked bits, doesn’t he? Just wish he’d keep his hands off my mum’s. Urrggh.
Rachel, Leah and Sam are coming round later. Don’t particularly want them to, but at least they’ll relieve me of some boredom.

“Hi Courtney! Y’all right?” I hugged my best friend, and felt those sharp ribs. Her pale face looked wan and her blonde hair was stringy and greasy. Sam and Leah greeted her too, and then we all ran up to her bedroom and chatted and laughed for four hours. Occasionally, she would go quiet. Courtney ate an entire large pepperoni pizza, four packets of crisps, two king-size Mars Bars, and a bag of Starbursts. It went quiet when she excused herself to go to the toilet, and we weren’t nosy or cruel enough to go to the door and listen in. Though we know she’s bulimic, we won’t confront her ‘cause we know she’ll simply deny it. When Courtney came back, she wasn’t prepared for the gift that the three of us gave her. An Ouija board. We thought it would be a harmless way for Courtney to contact her dad. Rachel Jiminez, you were so stupid…

At first, I was cynical about the Ouija board idea. Unlike Rachel, I don’t really believe in spirits. But I miss Dad so much I was willing to try anything. So we turned out the lights and lit a few candles. Practically breathless in anticipation, we placed our hands on the glass and started asking questions. At first, it was really silly stuff, like Leah’s “Will I get married?” The glass moved towards ‘Yes’, yet none of us were shifting it! At last, a glimmer of hope! Then, I asked, “Will I get married?” Slowly, the board spelled out the following:
NO YOUR DEATH IN CAR CRASH. DADDY LOVES YOU. DADDY WILL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU.

Screams rang out in the tiny bedroom. Courtney started to sob uncontrollably. Sam, Leah and Rachel gazed at each other through the darkness, terrified.
“Dad, if you really are here, show us. Give us a sign.” At first, nothing happened. But slowly, the smell of CK One, a fragrance that Courtney’s parents had shared, spread around the room. An icy cold wind gripped the girls’ hearts. And they became even more terrified as the footsteps approached.

The sound of footsteps. It became louder. And louder. Then, there was a knock on the door. The four hugged each other, paralysed with fear.

“Courtney?” Her mother’s voice. Courtney sighed in relief.
“Relax guys, it’s only my mum.”
With a chorus of “Bye Courts,” Sam, Leah and Rachel rushed out the bedroom door.

Wow, what a night. Nigel was fantastic company, as always. He is such a gentleman – even the sight of a naked Kathleen Turner didn’t provoke wolf whistles. I don’t think Courtney likes him very much, but he makes me happy.
When I got back, I was horrified to witness the scene in her bedroom. Three of her mates rushed out with this petrified look on their faces, like they’d been touched by a spirit. My daughter was lying on the bed, face down, weeping quietly. I spotted the wooden Ouija board, and instantly knew what she’d done. I realised it was time to tell the truth. After comforting her endlessly, I got to the point:
“Courtney, Richard wasn’t your father. You see, sometimes people are born trapped in the wrong body… My sex-change operation signified a turning point in my life…”









My Fault by TooSweet
Is it my fault I have to stay while you go and play
Is it my fault that I have to wait for my period who is late
Is it my fault that you walk by without a glare
But while we laid you couldn't help but stare
Is it my fault that my love was your lust
And that I no longer can trust
Is it my fault that I cry asking myself
Why I let you in knowing you'd be leaving
Did you hear my heart say no
How could you, you were too close
So close I couldn't hear me
And don't think that's a good thing
Did you see the pain in my chest
OOoh.. you were too busy with my breasts
Did you see the hurt in my eyes
OOooh... you were too busy crawling up my thighs
Is it my fault I'm known as a whore
Please tell me I implore
I think I'll ask your dick
Scince that's the head you use to think
Maybe I should just stop asking you
Scince you'd give me the answers to accommodate you
And make your lies the truth


I wish weren't so stupid by Rick




I WISH I WEREN’T SO STUPID!

The most excellent thing to ever happen to me is you.
You came into my life and I became new.
Your heart is always there to give me your love.
Without asking anything in return you are always there.
I WISH I WEREN’T SO STUPID!

You give me your everything from your very soul.
Yet I sometimes raise my voice and scowl.
I hurt you with my voice and the words I say.
But you are always there to tell me you love me.
I WISH I WEREN’T SO STUPID!

I want to always make you feel the same way you make me feel.
My love should always be total and strong.
Forever more I will love you.
Yet still I fall and with my face hurt you.
I WISH I WEREN’T SO STUPID!

Forgive me my love for I know not what I do.
My love for you is total and absolute.
My life belongs to you.
Mrs. Priny M. Boutcher, I love you.
I WISH I WEREN’T SO STUPID!

Though I am stupid so many times, I ask you to see
Past my flaws.
God knows how much I love you,
I will try to be better. But,
I WISH I WEREN’T SO STUPID!

Your husband, in love with you forever,
Frederick

Dogs by Tucker Lee
Why is it that a dog must roam?
How is it that the dog always finds its way home?
If you give a dog a bone,
Will it really leave you alone?
Why is it that dogs chase tires?
Doesn't it realize, as soon as it catches the tire, the situation is quite dire?
When a dog catches its game, does it's mouth
set a fire?
Now that a look at it the dog walks a thin wire.
Whenever you look at your dog, don't think it a bore.
Even if the dog just stares at the floor.
If you don't see your dog this way, don't get sore.
Just remember, the fun starts, out the door!
Sandman`s Ode by Shey

I see you looking staight at me
Unaware are you of my existing soul
Swallowing such bitter sweet torments of loving
You are like a rainbow after the cold, cold rain
A music to mine ears
A muse to my world, a queen to my kingdom

Yet so sad?
What grief hast begotten thy lovely face?
I stand lurking in the shadows, watching
you helplessly cry at night..
How may I confort you when you are not aware
of me?
Angry at this bitter circumstance, I ponder on
and on of how to let you know that you are not alone

Your eyes sparkle like how the sea
reflects the full moon, and as fresh tears
fall to your cheeks so soft,
they remind me of endless raindrops falling from
the skies
How I wish to hold you, to warm you from this cold
grief!

But I am but a stranger deep in the shadows of your
unconcious mind
Dying to let be aware of my existence
Dying to let you know of a strong desire to
tell you how I feel..a desire to make you mine
Yet it wouldn`t be fair welcome you to my realm
How fair would I be, if I snatch you from your world?!

As I welcome you to the waves of slumber
I can`t help but hope against hope
That one day we`ll meet along the way
I stare at you, my eyes glowing through the
dark shadows of the night
A flash of lightning momentarily shakes the earth
But you remain in my realm of dreams

I see you smile
Oh how it warms my heart
With eyes closed, you are to me a sleeping
princess, waiting for a prince to kiss those
soft, warm lips ..
To rescue you from reality`s scorn
To release you from its painful thorns
You see me now, and feel me

Yet, all is broken
When morning breaks the mystical night
But tis not over, we shall meet again
In dreams, we shall, my love
Tonight, when the moon will kiss the velvety
skies, We will meet again with a promise of
sweet slumber........



Bar Tone by Nathan
Better far at the bar I sat marred up to par
the jackass in strut chewing cigaret butts wile the flies like his razzer cuts
Some poor girl set to hurl her guts now fit to spin and twirl.
she smells of shnops and lollypops for that I shurely give her
props...

A Mothers Love by Cindy
A Mothers love is warm and true,
unconditionally from me to you.
My heart is filled with love for you,
you'll always be my dream come true.
All my joys and my smiles,
my love for you goes on for endless miles.
Each day I find my love grows stronger,
I pray that time permits me to show it longer.
You will always be my reason for living,
you're a special one that is so giving.
Every mother deserves a child like you,
you're the very best by far and few.
I thank God for you each day,
for making you in such a perfect way.
I'm so thankful for you my little one,
you will always be my handsome son.



Hannah's Story by Elizabeth Pellett
Hannah's Story
By:Elizabeth Pellett
There was a time in my life when I was in need. After a devastating experience that almost took away my life, I felt completely dead and empty. No thoughts, no feelings, no sensations could find their way into me. Post-traumatic stress later set in complete with thoughts and feelings and sensations too intense to bear, and to relieve the flashbacks and other agonies I turned myself into a cloud of pot smoke. When I could no longer buy my drug of choice I turned myself into a keg of comfort. I was determined to destroy everything left living within me that had not already died, because all that lived was pure torture, and I could not stand it. It was not me. The me I knew before was gone. Dead. I could not find her, and if I could find her, I wanted what took place to die, also.
But something else beyond me wanted me to live. What ever this thing was would insert something I could hold onto here and there every once in a while. It wasn't until almost three years after this destruction despite my best efforts. But I see now I was calling upon a god I no longer believed in, silently making painful prayers I didn't recognize as such within my thoughts and through songs written by others. And those prayers were being answered, even while I was smoking and drinking myself to death. My addiction was caused by a tragic advent that involved one person in my life that meant the world to me. I wasn't until recently that I found a journal entry that revealed this:
I seem to recognize your face. Hauntling, familiar, yet can't seem to place it. Cannot find a candle of thought to light your name…I swear I recognize your breath. Memories like fingerprints are slowly raising…
As I found more journal entries I stared to reminisce of the days before my life went completely wrong. My story is simple and is as follows.

October
From the first time I saw him I felt like I knew everything about him. He walked into the classroom I found myself gazing into his intense blue eyes. He was placed in the empty chair next to me. I could feel my heart throbbing. Half way through the class period the teacher was called to the office for an important phone call. After the teacher left, the new student leaned over towards me and said "Hi, my name is Matthew, and yours is..." I looked at him and said shyly. "Hannah." There was something inside me wanting to just tell him everything but I held it all in. I had an image to uphold. I was what you would consider the type that would never amount to anything. So why would I give this complete stranger the time of day? Looking back I would have to say he was the persistent type. He never gave up on trying to get to know me. The real me.After a few minutes the teacher came back into the classroom and assigned us projects that had to be completed by the end of the week. She told us to find a partner and to get to work. Matthew immediately reached over and grabbed my hand saying “Hannah you’re my partner.” I looked at him and wanted to say of course. But it came out more like “the hell if I am.”
But somehow I ended up with him. So we had to do a research paper on something that affects us everyday. Thankfully the bell rang I got up and practically ran out of the room. When I got to my locker I just stood there breathing heavy. I felt scared out of my mind and I didn’t even know why. All of a sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder. I screamed with fright. I was so into my own thoughts I forgot about the world around me. It was Matthew. He just stood there smiling at me. “Hi Hannah, scared you didn’t I?” It was suddenly hard for me to find words. It seemed to me it was the first time in my life I couldn’t find words to say. Even bad words. Finally I managed “Yeah, but that’s okay.” I felt so nervous and unsure of myself. In my entire existence no one had ever mad eme feel so unsure of myself. But he always seemed to remain calm. He said to me ever so calm and casual “Well you left class so fast I never got a chance to finish talking to you." and then he gave me that deeply warm smile of his.

January
Well it's been almost 4 whole months since Matthew first came to our school. Its amazing how I feel when I'm with him, I feel like the world can't touch me. But most of these thoughts and feelings I had always tried to push away. I never wanted any of these feelings. There are days I can see why. He seems so innocent but when you look at it in other ways his innocence makes him very nieve. Sometimes it makes me sad, but I’ve found great comfort in him. Of course I’ve had other close friends but not like him. Although my idea of close friends was the friends that would always be there to light one up. It was almost like he was there to help me find the part of me that I had lost. He was a good friend that I liked to hang out with but I was still the same. As time went on I found myself trusting Matthew more. He seemed to understand me. He helped me figure out why I react the way I do. I don't feel he's changed me, but I feel he's helped me to understand who I am and what I've done to become who I am.


February
Valentines Day is coming soon. I'm undecided what to get Matthew. We aren't boyfriend and girlfriend. Our relationship is much beyond any silly little high school fling that all sappy high school girls hope for. The more time that we spend together, I can feel this connection between us growing stronger. It's so easy to find comfort in him. I really feel he fully understands me. He doesn't want to try and change me, just to be here with me. Despite all the time we spend together it never occurred to me how little I knew about my best friend. One day I asked him to tell me about himself. He simply responded with "Well I moved here from Langsten, Idaho. I live with my mother because my parents are divorced and that's about it." At that point I had learned nothing new. It didn't feel as if he was hiding anything, but yet he never just told me about himself. I would always have to ask. It was strange how that worked out. He always kept this mysterious edge to him that kept me do drawn to him. Many times I felt he was my guardian angel watching over me, and to keep me out of trouble.

April
Spring has finally come. Matthew and I celebrated my birthday a few days ago. We went to Johnson's corey sat there with a twelve pack and watched the stars. It was a great night. I fell asleep in Matthew's arms listening to him recite poetry. I love the sound of Matthews voice. It was so calm, tender, and so soothing. It was wonderful until the next morning. I knew I would have to leave Matthew. I hated the time that we were apart. Everyone said that was because I was in love. I never believed that. I figured I was only 17 I didn't know what love was. We never became a couple. But I remember the end of April. That was when Matthew asked me to go to prom with him. I gladly said yes. I had three weeks to make a hair appointment and to get a dress. Up until that point I had never cared about school functions. But to me this was different. It wasn't school related; it would be an unforgettable night with Matthew. But at that point, any night was an unforgettable night.

May
I think for the rest of my life I shall always remember the whole morning, day, and night of prom as crazy, hectic, wonderful, and tragic. Exactly in that order. That morning I spent in the salon getting my hair and make-up done. Then I came home and got into my dress. I had picked out a fairly simple looking dress. It was a long sky blue dress. It was a soft satin material. I had a matching clip to go in my long brown hair. Matthew picked me up around 5pm for dinner. Of course my mother had to take tons of pictures. We went to dinner at a cute little Mexican restaurant. Dinner seemed to fly by. The dance seemed to go even quicker. It was a great experience. I spent almost the entire dance in Matthews's arms. After the dance we decided to go to this party that was supposed to be one of the best party's of the year.
When we got there I quickly downed two beers and started a third. I noticed Matthew wasn't drinking. We had been to plenty of parties before. Matthew would always have a few beers with me. It was weird that tonight he decided not to. So I grabbed another beer and handed it to him. I sat down on a bench. Matthew sat down next to me. I told him to lighten up. I didn't want to be around a party pooper. We ended up taking too many shots of tequila and a lot of beer. Eventually Matthew told me it was time to go home. We were both completely trashed. But we decided that I was the one to drive us home. It was one of those gloomy nights, the fog had just settled in. It didn't seem like I was driving that fast. But later I was told I was going 65 to 70 mph. I missed a sharp corner and hit a tree. I will never forget the feeling. I saw this big brown thing coming at me closer and closer, until it was right in front of me. I remember this sharp pain in my head. I heard crunching of the metal and sounds of windows breaking. I remember the window parts breaking and flying at me. Neither one of us were wearing our seat belts. Matthew was thrown from the car. The last thing I will always remember of Matthew is his scream of terror, as he flew to his death. But as for me, the steering wheel caught me and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital.
I had serious head injury’s that would affect me the rest of my life. I remember my mother coming into my room. Her eyes were red and she looked like she had been through hell and back. I had no idea what had happened or what was happening. My mother was overjoyed with tears that I had successfully woken up. Up until that point I had a 60/40 chance of living. But my mother knew I would come out of it. She always said I was the strong one. She later told me that the hardest thing that she ever had to do, was tell me that I had killed the dearest friend that I had ever had. She sat down beside me and took my hand. She was trying very hard not to cry. She told me that the hardest thing that she ever had to do was to tell me that I had killed the dearest friend that I had ever had.
She then took my hand and took a deep breath. A few tears started to roll down her face. But she kept going. "Hannah, the night of the accident well you were in the car." The tears were flowing faster now. "Well Matthew was thrown from the car and he was gone before the paramedics could get there." At that point I had no idea what to do. My whole body felt completely numb. No thoughts or feelings could escape into me.


June
My summer has been going by so slow. I spent most of May and the first half of June in and out of the hospital recovering mentally and physically. I've spent this whole month of July in court. I'm being tried for manslaughter. It's so hard being tried for killing your best friend. I've tried to kill myself, but my mother and the hospital people have stopped me. They told me it wasn't my time. But what the do they know? It's been so lonely without Matthew around. I have no one to share my life and feelings with. I've found other ways to forget him. If I drink or take the right things I don't feel any pain. For the past two and a half months all I've ever wanted is to feel no more pain. I just want to end my life so that this aching pain in my heart will just go away.
No one will let me kill myself. I feel they don't care about my feelings. They just don't want to feel my pain. They want me to hurt. I feel that they don't realize how scared I am. Ever since Matthew's funeral I've been scared to death of what will happen next. And when I realized I'd never find anyone that could ever take Mathew's place, I started to feel this great loneliness. I felt that no one understood what I was going through. How I felt. Matthew was the only one in my life that fully understood me and truly loved me, and I killed him. I was the one that should have died not him. I've had a lot of time to think about this. My verdict should be coming soon. It's not looking so good.

July
I like to sit here and think about when my life used to go so smoothly. I'm now a convicted murder. I know that it sounds unreal but its true. I know it because of the pain that I feel daily. But there are days when I feel no pain. I get out in three years. I was able to get early parole. I keep to myself here. I talk to no one and I respond to no one. When I look back I see how greatly things have changed. It seems like only a little while ago that I was looking forward to things like going shopping, dances, movies, phone calls. Now I'm hoping for early parole, and that people leave me be. And what it's going to be like when I get out of here. Prison is a nasty thing that tries to suck all the life out of you. It makes you feel alone. Which most of us are. Eventually all your emotions and feelings start to fade away until there's nothing left. The old you that you so greatly knew before is gone. There's your old body that's still the same but on the inside you're cold, and emotionless. Prison had taught me how to be cruel and hard. Prison is a horrible thing to bare. If you don't have the inner strength it can take your life.


End of July
I remember the days when I was first let out of prison. I was an utter mess. A few weeks after I had returned home I turned myself into a keg of comfort. My alcoholism was breaking up our once happy home. But my happy home was a mug of beer and a bar. But I was broke and couldn't find a job. No one would hire a convicted felon. So to get money to pay for my addiction I would steal from my house. After a point my mother couldn't take it anymore. She gave me an altimadem. She told me "Hannah, you have a serious problem, whether or not your willing to admit it. But you do. You have a choice, you can get help, or get the hell out. Trust me you won't last long on the streets, you think your tough because you survived prison well prison was nothing compared to what they will do to you there out there. This world has no sympathy for drunks." I later realized that my life was in shambles I always knew that my life was a wreck, but I later came to realize that something needed to be done about it. But it took more than my mother ranting and raving at me.
August 25
Petrified. I walked to the back of the line of people waiting for food. Is this what I'm supposed to do at these things? I was scared to death. About a month before this advent I saw something that made me change everything that I believed in. I was sitting in a food court of a crowded mall, and there was this old couple sitting next to me. All of a sudden the old man grabbed his chest and fell off of his chair. He was having a heart attack. The old woman screamed with terror, and the mall grew quiet except for the shouts of, call an ambulance. You could hear the whispers of the people trying to figure out what was going on. The old woman was on her knees with tears pouring down her face as she cried out to god, begging for him not to take her husband. I just sat there and started to cry. I went home and sat. I couldn't eat or sleep I just sat in my house like a zombie. When night would fall I found myself leaving and going on long walks. I would be gone for hours. Then I started to work out. I was constantly beating my body. I gave it little food and no sleep. This went on for weeks. Finally my body couldn't take anymore of this abuse. So I decided it was time for my body to sleep. It was many stages of healing for myself.

A few weeks later as my body slept, I caught myself stumbling up the stairs. I sat down and I saw my dog, Steve, sitting at my feet. He comforted me. I then opened my eyes. Reality didn't change much from sleep to awareness. I'd been out of my body for so long and I saw it was another sign that maybe I wasn't hopeless after all. I realized that I couldn't run from my body or my emotions. It was time for change.

After I filled my plate of food I sat down at a table in the crowded room. I knew everyone was looking at me. On the verge of tears. Scared to death. A bang on the table. Everyone silenced. "This is the Friday meeting of the Florence Group of Alcoholics Anonymous." The man who banged on the table said "My name is Mike, and I'm an alcoholic." "Hi Mike," everyone, except me responded. "If this is your first meeting, introduce yourself by only your first name so we can get to know you better." Oh god. I knew that meant me. I then stood up and said "I'm Hannah, and I'm an alcoholic." I said with a quivering voice.
The beginning of the release from my death took place over the next hour. Matthew was in the room, and I could no longer deny him. He was the whole reason I was in that room with those people. I wasn't there to stop drinking like most people who walk into the doors of an AA meeting. I was there because I missed Matthew, and the only way I knew I could find him was to first stop drinking. And there he was speaking to me through the mouths of these people, and he gave the one thing I'd been looking for in the more than three years since I nearly lost my life.
A stranger said to me "I love you." I lost it, and tears cascaded down my face. I couldn't stop crying. Those words echoed the most amazing sounds in my soul. I didn't deserve love, and every time I had left a bar without finding that stranger my belief was confirmed. I believed without any doubt God thought I was unworthy of any love. Where was this stranger for me? I was the stranger others needed in the bars to give them kindness……where was mine?

He was waiting for me to make up my mind and to stop killing myself.

















Teddy Bears Picnic by futile_hope
I went to the Teddy Bears Picnic
An unceremonial affair
where children of a young-ish age
could take a Teddy Bear
but what I found when I arrived
was quite a different state
To what I had expected to find there.

These Bears, they weren't your average Bears,
these Bears, they burned, they burned with hate
Their mouths a'black
their eyes a'red
Preachin' cruel death,
prechin' dark fate.

These loathful bears,
their fur like wire,
their bloodied teeth like steel.
They danced around a ring of fire,
'twas then I heard a squeal;
A squeal so high, so loud, so mournful
that in a fitted tone, so scornful,
these bears, they screamed, and they fell in,
they fell into thier fiery ring

and then began their physcopathic,
began their physcopathic chanting,
'mongst a deep and angry panting,
'mongst a foamin', 'mongst a rantin',
'twas hypnotic, 'twas hypnotic,
'twas so evilly enchanting.

But 'twasn't all,
no, 'twasn't all,
no, it'd only just begun,
for from the centre of the squeal,
a light so bright and so unreal,
it could've blacked, it could've blacked,
it could've burnt away the sun.

So now you see,
now you see,
these bears and quite so
heaven-sent,
so innocent,
these bears aren't quite so cuddly.
The Sun Is Locked In A Lead Night by John Andrew Durler
The Sun Is Locked In A Lead Night.

The moon, low, rose pale, rises to pale white
curls around a billion blinking stars
speaks to them as lost children in a dark
colder than ice, muttering tales of blue cheese
and astronauts, fiddling cats and laughing dogs.

The voice drifts awhile among them, infinitely gentle,
slowly, almost not quite stopping, passing through.
The patience of eternity in the tonal ebb and pitch
of muted words calm the fury in the blinking stars
as they wait for old man moon to tell them what
they wait forever for, the best stories of all.

At the magical darkest hour halfway to the other lands
the moon spins tales of naked ugly hags in flight
whooshing over his highest mountains
casting spells on children of earth
who burn at the stake for being different.

Neighbor on neighbor point fingers as flute playing
pipers, wind children of the sun into the sky
and every horror and terror comes stalking
until the stars close their eyes forever.
Wake up! Wake up! The old man blasts.
Wake up for the rest of the story.

The wise old man knows the tales get worse
but the truth must be told, even if fairy tales are used
to get it out, even if grown ups and children
sleep forever in lies they tell themselves.
They do not wake and the moon finally
relinquishes the sky to the rising light of day.

He mumbles to himself;
Why else do lovers, madmen
poets and writers seek me out
for the tales to be told every night?
How else will they ever change?
How else?


The Perfect King by Jenna0521
The day I saw you
I knew it would be more
for there were no sparks
in my love before

Meeting your eyes
Holding your hands
by the shoreline
and cold, damp sands

Knowing your with me
till death do apart
I wonder with fear
if you'll go like a dart

Now towards the end
I notice with tears
BOOM BOOM
you're no longer with me those very long years

Good Bye my friend
I'll love you till the end

Surrounded By Love by Amy
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OUR LOVE by James McELFRESH
MY LOVE

Our eyes met
green to blue
My heart stunned
with emotion
gazed upon you

Frozen in time
I thought an angel
had looked at me

Unspoken words lost
by only distance and
memory
Your hair gold as sunshine
Your smile light of the day
Your touch fragile and tender
Your kiss warm and soft
Compelling me to stay
An Event to Remember by April Matthews
April Matthews
4-17-00

An Event to Remember

"I now give you the class of 2000", Mr.Jones shouts out over the excited graduates.
Sally is awakening from the sound of her alarm clock. Sally realizes that she has only four more weeks until she can walk across the stage and receive her diploma.
As Sally continues to lie in the bed she begins to think about all of her years in high school and her many memories. She thinks about her freshmen year when she started dating her boyfriend Jake and the slumber parties with her friends. As Sally looks back on all these memories she wonders what will happen next year when she goes to college. She puts it once again in the back of her mind and she heads out for school.
As she pulls into Wakeside's senior high school parking lot, Jake is standing there to greet her. This had become a routine because he has greeted her the past four years with these same words.
" Good morning, sweetheart" he says as he gives her a kiss.
As they enter the doors of the school her friends Alicia and Cathy also greet her.
These three have been friends ever since they can remember. Sally thinks back to all the
good times they have had and wondered if they will be close next year since they were
all going of to different schools.
But Sally tries not to think about it because Alicia and Cathy have great news.
They have found a place to have the after prom party. Before they have a chance to finish with the details the bell rang for them to go to class.
During lunch as Sally and Jake sit out in the courtyard, as they have done the past four years and talk about the prom. He fills her in on the after party and also tells he ahs a surprise for that too.
" Come on, Jake, tell me!" Sally begs.
"No I want it to be special and you to be surprised, okay." explains Jake.
Overwhelmed with excitement, she tells her friends Alicia and Cathy and asks if they know anything about it. They said "No" and shook their heads. In fact, they know Jake's plans, but promised not to say anything about it.
Sally could not wait to find out what the surprise was. All night long she goes through all of the possibilities of what it could be. Still having no clue she gives up and decides that she is going to have to be patient. The prom is only a day away but that is not quick enough.
Finally, April 29 is here, the day of the prom. Sally is literally bouncing off the walls with excitement but she is a little upset because she knows this will be her last prom. But she puts that out of her mind and begins getting ready to go to the salon.
Her mother knows she is excited and knows she very well should be because she knows the secret about what Jake has planned. As they get into the car to go to the salon, she turns to Sally and begins to talk.
"Sally I know Jake loves you very much and even though you both are going off to school he is the one for you."
Sally accepts the idea not knowing why she would bring it up.
Jake arrives at 4:30 and waits for Sally at the foot of the stairs. Jake catches a glimpse of her in his eyes and turns to see her. As she walks down the stairs she takes his breath away. He finds no flaw in her appearance and to him she is an angel sent from heaven.
As she leaves her mom and dad give her a kiss and a hug and tell her to have fun. Jake and Sally go out to dinner with all of their friends and enjoy their company and being with them.
After their meal the whole gang goes to the prom. As they enter the theme of " A Night to Cherish". They begin dancing and laughing and building more many memories to last their lifetime. As the prom comes to an end, Jake reminds her that he has somewhere they need to go. Sally tells her friends that Jake has a surprise for her and she will catch up with them later at the party.
Still having no clue what they are doing or where they are going they venture off. Jake says nothing on the way there, but just looks at her with a smile. As they travel down the road they notice a car swerving heading straight towards them. The car gets closer and closer and Jake swerves his car to miss them and they flip three or four times down the rocky side.
By the time Sally had awoken from the crash paramedics who were cleaning the cut on her forehead and checking for broken bones surrounded her. As Sally comes to she begins calling Jake, but there is no reply. She asks the paramedic to please let her see Jake. By that time the police officer is approaching her and he asks if her name is Sally.
"Yes it is where is Jake?" she begged.
" I am sorry Sally Jake is dead. He had internal bleeding from the wreck. And you are very lucky because we found him laid across you. Sally he saved your life because if he had not have did that then you would be very well dead too." states the police officer.
Sally, astonished by the news does not believe them and demands to see him. The officer explains that he was badly hurt and it would be best not to see him. The police officer then hands Sally an envelope that is addressed to her and she sits down to read it.
"Dear Sally,
I hope I have made you happy tonight by giving you a night to remember. I brought you to our spot to ask you a question. I know things will be hard next year and I want to show you that I will always love you and this is my question to you.
"Will you marry me?"
Love always Jake"
Tears begin to fill her eyes as a diamond falls out of the envelope. Sally, in a frantic frenzy, is now comforted by her mother who is also in tears.
" Mom, did you know about this?" Sally asks as she holds up the letter.
"Yes Sally, I did and I was so happy for you baby. I am sorry." Her mother says.
Sally returns to school on Monday without Jake there to greet her as he did every morning and eat lunch with her as he did everyday. Walking down the halls she remembers him with her and begins to cry.
As graduation day approaches Sally remembers wishing for this day to come, and now she wishes she could turn back the hands of time.
"Sally Duke" principal Jones calls.
Sally steps up and begin to walk across the stage, she pauses and looks up at the sky and says "Yes I will" and slides the ring on her finger as a reminder to love life to the fullest and never wish time away.



To Taste by Morris R. MacIver
To Taste

He slept. She read the expression on his lightly quivering lips - the expression of the happiest man on Earth, an extreme contentment which is even more joyous than the most violent euphoria, but calmer. She felt fulfilled at having caused this emotion in a human being. She, she alone, had caused it. The gentle whispering of the cool dark blue ocean rolling up the beach tickled briefly her conscience.

There was a most magnificent odour from the silicon sands. As she lay back down beside her beau, she saw the magnificence of Creation extending before her in the cloudless night sky. The stars were shimmering, dancing perhaps, the moon radiated a warm glow from its crescent. Perfect, this was really the perfect moment. She decided to savour it. She had never felt this way before and deep down knew she would never again, so she savoured it.

Dreams stole over her - dreams but no sleep, she remained fully aware of her chance as she considered the fairy tale she had been living these last few days. She had been with men before, of course, but never for more than one night - and rarely had she tried to strike up any sort of intimacy before deciding to taste their souls. This time everything was very different.

They had met in a bar - a little boring, but who cares. She had been prowling, searching a mate for he evening, and she came across him. Who could have predicted her choice. He was not handsome, the uncharitable may even treat him as ugly, he was badly dressed and had a glass of beer in his hand that had been there since the Flood. He was no-one, yet he was someone, her someone, her special someone. She knew it in her heart when her eyes danced upon him. Despite his lack of a physique, she had never seen a more beautiful man in all her life. He was sitting contemplating his beer.

'Excuse me...' The voice came from behind him. For half a second he thought his beer was speaking to him, then he turned round with a bemused expression on his face. - She was already in love.

'Yeah ?' The man looked into her eyes and was hypnotised by her deep green gaze. 'Uh... Yes?' Could such a beauty really be talking to HIM?

'Have I seen you somewhere before?... Do you come here often?... Are you on t.v.?... I couldn't find the right chat-up line or the right clich‚, so I thought I should just come up and introduce myself.

The meeting was nothing spectacular, but in their souls, they could both see hosts of angels dancing and singing with joy as their two errant hearts at last met. He told her all about himself, his two sisters, his sad childhood with no mother, his job in a book shop as a caretaker, his little blue car, his hatred of country music and his love of Mexican food.

She told him of her similar tastes. She loathed country music and was fond of Tex-Mex; however, she refused to expound on who she was and where she came from. She had always lied and pleaded with him to accept that she should tell nothing just now, one day, perhaps he would be ready to listen, but not today.

Thus the two began their crazy week of love. They kept their relation pure as both felt that to act otherwise would be to break the spell which they had woven over each-other. That evening they had gone down to the beach like foolish young teenagers. It was only Springtime yet they wore summer clothes - their love heated them from within, and there they were lying on the golden sands, he in his shorts and his tee-shirt and she with a tiny black dress.

She had watched over his sleep every night since their meeting. She had never stopped marvelling at his boyishness when lost in the realms of dream - a four year old would look the same. Yet this time, there was that joy as well.

* * *

The night had already fallen when they arrived at their beach. It was their beach, for despite the others present, they were alone together. 'You see that rock over there?' She asked.

'Yep.'

'The last one there's a baboon.' With these words she ran off in a fit of giggles. He was a bit slow at starting off, but almost managed to catch her before she arrived. 'You're a baboon, you're a baboon.' He kissed her softly to stop her. 'A baboon!' She laughed and they kissed, silhouetted black against the dark blue and starry sky.

Beyond their rock lay some more sand and a large rocky outcrop. They directed themselves towards this extraterrestrial landscape, after falling twice on the sand into each-other's arms. On this Venutian landscape they played with imaginary light-sabres. He killed her after she announced she would be more powerful than ever after her death.

'You're dead Obi-Wan, so you're now more powerful than I can possibly imagine!'

'Powerful I am, Darth.' She laughed as she got up, but suddenly her joy stopped as she realised what she was saying.

The man was worried, 'What's wrong?'

'Nothing. ... It doesn't matter.' She hesitated and looked about. 'Come, I want to show you something.'

They went hand-in-hand to a small pool in the rocks and gazed in at the limpid water sparkling with the reflections of a thousand worlds. Something glimmered in the water and darted hither and thither. It was a tiny fish who had been marooned when his school came by, the tide having been up. If the tide never rose again, would he survive, would he grow to be a salmon, or even a tuna in this small pool? She put this thought out of her head as she saw their two faces reflected on this, nature's most beautiful, mirror. How perfect they were together. She with her Adam and he with his Eve.

They both passed their gaze from their liquid dopelgangers to their real selves. They approached their mouths and placed their lips gently against each-other.

Suddenly, the man's hand slipped and plunged into the pool startling their dwarven tuna. He slipped and laughed with his arm soaking. She laughed too, she laughed as she had not laughed for years, since she was a child - it felt like centuries. It was clear that they were made one for the other.

* * *

They were walking along the sandy shore when she noticed he tried to hide a yawn. 'Don't be ashamed to yawn, it's natural.'

'I, uh...'

'Don't worry, I know there are different yawns, there's a bored yawn - that's not your kind, there's an ill-mannered yawn, not yours either, and amongst others, there's a tired yawn. That, that's yours.'

'Well, I am a little tired. ... I'm not used to these nights, but I love them, as I love you.'

She took her Romeo in her arms and kissed him softly before falling to the ground, pulling him with her. She tried to keep their lips together on the way down; although they did separate on the way, they landed together.

'Sleep, my prince. Sleep.'

'Here?'

'Why not? I'll keep you warm. Sleep.'

'Why not.' It was as if she had hypnotised him and into a deep sleep fell our Romeo as sweet Juliette looked on.

* * *

It was hard to resist. She had tasted the souls of so many men before, and yet, this time, she resisted, she felt she had to resist, otherwise the bubble of the dream would burst and cease to exist. How could she resist with the man who was destined to be her other half lying beside her on this sandy paradise? She decided to get up and to do what, she did not know.

She paced round his sleeping form. He was a good man, how could she spoil him? She wanted to, she longed to, but no. She mustn't, she daren't. It was too much for her, what was she to be able to resist? She was no god, she was but a ... No, she had to try. Try harder weak fool. Try harder. Seven nights of torture. Seven nights of bliss. It was no good, she was too weak, far too weak. She told herself not to as she bent down. She brushed his lips with hers, but every cell of her body cried out not to do this. He was woken by the pleasant tickling feeling on his lips and saw her beauty against the brightening sky.

She, seeing his eyes open, could bear it no longer and decided to get it over with, she shut her eyes and began to kiss his face. She aimed her love at his lips, his chin, his neck. She would taste his soul. He spoke.

'I think the sun is coming up.'

She turned round with a look of horror on her face. She had forgotten. The first ray of the newly born star hit her eyes after dusting the deep blue ocean and she gave a scream. He blinked and on opening his eyes she was no longer ... there. What was that grey dust all over him? He wept.

The bubble had burst.

Blind Needs by Martha Chisholm
She falls in a trap,his eyes how they burn.
She thinks there for her;There is lessons to learn....
He holds her with passion and lust in his eyes, he take s her to bed to live out
out the lie......She gives of herself,with love and desire ;only to find
their our so many fires...Not only for her is his passion and flame;
he thinks of their bodies, but not of their names........
Then morning awakenens;up comes the sun. The Womens now taken;the deed
is now done.......
not sure by Autumn
hehe
Ariadne by Cailean Darkwater
Ariadne

I suppose you could attribute it to my curious nature but I can't stand a secret. The quickest way to irritate me is to say, "I've got a secret, but I can't tell you." It really drives me nuts! And maybe, if I could control that impulse, this story would never have happened. Maybe I should be less inquisitive in the future. Maybe ...

It all started when I was walking through the hills ... as a result of my excellent navigation skills I'd managed to miscalculate a minor detail in the terrain. Like a mountain. Oh well, this trip SEEMED like a good idea at the time.

My home, being an old city, in the surrounding hills still remain echoes of old colonial times. Manors and even small keeps abound in the highlands, not tourist attractions but still noble family estates. To see one of these grey and forbidding edifices up close had always been a dream of mine, so when I actually saw the mammoth cast iron gate yawning wide, a tall white tower in the distance, you can understand my temptation.

I wondered whether entering would be considered trespassing. Unconsciously I was already strolling through the beckoning portal, I didn't feel worried by any laws of the land. To hell with the rules; if later asked I could always respond "Hey, your gate was open."

I'm normally very cautious, but sometimes I get the impulse to do something REALLY reckless. I think everybody has a very contrary element in their nature, a counter to the everyday.

Reckless. Like what I was doing now. I half-expected snarling, savage security dogs to pounce on me and rip me to shreds. But my passage was undisturbed. Slightly disappointed that my actions had gone unnoticed, I headed to the white tower that crested the knoll.

Does anybody feel invisible? If we were suddenly removed from Life, would the world notice? Does anybody notice the individual in the crowd? Maybe it's a matter of perspective. When an ant dies, nobody seems to care, but in ant society that ant may be sorely missed. Maybe that ant has friends that miss them now, and reminisce about things they did together. Who can say? Maybe I'm just giving ants a little too much humanity!

The sun finally peeped through the cloud and the meadow lit up and sharply reminded me that it was spring. It had been a wintry day with an overcast sky filled with dark harbingers of rain. My sodden clothes were testament to the fury of the storm. But now ... the sun struck down upon the white tower - a dazzling, radiant spire was born out of that bleak, austere structure.

At that moment, I felt I was in the presence of destiny. Something special was happening ... I felt that this vision was mine and mine alone. Knowing within my heart that I had done the right thing, I quickened my steps towards that shining abode. The black oaken door reverberated with my knock, a knell of doom.

Startled, I jumped. And regretted my decision. It's strange how one can be so sure one minute and so uncertain the next. The booming of that door seemed to have woken me from a pleasant daydream bringing cold reality back into sharp focus. What the hell was I doing?

Then the door opened and my heart leapt. A glorious girl stood in the doorway, her demeanour; childlike and curious. The vision of purity and innocence beamed brighter than her ivory tower.

(Later looking back on it, I could analyze why she was so lovely. Her goodness suffused her features; a heavenly glow that made her beautiful beyond earthly ken.)

Serenely she presented herself as Ariadne. Charmed, I greeted her in kind and waited for her to ask why I was trespassing. Instead she invited me into the surrounds of her tower. My fears had departed me - I no longer worried about the logic of the situation. I just let it carry me.

Walking into her tower I stepped back in time. The tower's furnishings were Victorian in nature, all in excellent condition, a very intricate slice of life in the 1800's. I've always been fond of the Victorian in terms of style, so I chose a large stuffed armchair to deposit myself. Ariadne sat opposite me, only a small table separating us.

She began to speak with me on an array of subjects, however it was obvious that although trained in conversation she had little practical experience. She seemed to hunger for knowledge of the outside world. It appeared that Ariadne had never left her ivory tower.

This was apparent by her responses since I had to explain the most basic concepts of life. Having little human contact, Ariadne seemed to have been raised from books.

The only other person on the property lived in a small stone cottage closer to the gate. Ariadne spoke of Jeremiah, the groundskeeper, with warmth and obvious affection - he had virtually raised her when she was a child, talking to her and teaching her enough to read the trove of knowledge stored in the tower.

And a true treasure it was! She displayed her collection with total modesty. There were texts on art, principles of thought, early science and the fables of literature. Unlike me, I knew that she's read all those classics that I'd bought but never got around to reading. I guess I was caught up in the hustle and bustle, too busy to sit down and appreciate these literary gems. But Ariadne, in her ivory tower, had the peace and tranquility to clearly hear the evocative messages from those long-dead writers, without the interference that we call life, obscuring those immortal voices.

That's when it hit me. This was a person never afflicted by the vicissitudes of life, an individual raised in a stable, caring and comfortable environment for her entire existence. This sweet girl was as close to perfect as a human being could ever come.

I then decided that I could never destroy those illusions that Ariadne had built around herself. That the world made sense; where the good were rewarded for their kindness and the evil were punished for their cruelty.

I have seen the truth and it makes no sense; too often the good are downtrodden and reviled while their evil adversaries are respected and esteemed. That's what breaks a good person, I think. Doing good generally brings no reward but pain, while evil laughs all the way to the bank. Why would any rational person choose to be good?

I felt I was in the presence of an angel; a wondrous, exquisite but delicate angel. And I wondered if Ariadne could feel sympathy for the pain of others, having no knowledge of suffering herself. How do you explain colours to the blind? What can you relate it to without true experience?

I visited her often after that. She gave me a key to the outer gate, with an invitation to visit any time. Ariadne was obviously so lonely, so starved for human contact. I made a weekly ritual of visiting her and giving her a carefully screened and beautiful façade of the world outside. She seemed happy to receive reinforcement to her carefully crafted illusion - my commitment to honesty was that I brought only truth, just not all of it. I brought the happy endings, not the nine others where the endings were not so happy. Meagre scraps though they were, I was bringing the best my world had to offer.

And then ... I knew one day it would end. It's strange how some small detail that seems so meaningless, so insignificant, can have such a harrowing effect.

I left my bag behind.

That statement looks so innocuous, sitting there on the page. But as I will reveal, its impact was shattering.

Tears. Flowing down those sweet features, knives piercing deeply into my heart. It pained me to perceive her pain. In a tortured, choked voice, such a tragic mockery of her angelic tone, Ariadne asked me whether it was true.

She lifted the newspaper from my bag. It was a relatively normal example of a newspaper - the occasional murder, accidents, war reports and starving children.

But to one who had never experienced death or pain had now seen the truth of Life. Fundamentally cruel, that everything didn't wrap up nicely in the last chapter.

With reluctance, I verified the newspaper's stories. I felt like a parent explaining to their child why their pet couldn't play with them any more. I wasn't in the best state of mind either. I felt like a monster; that I had unleashed such agony within her, albeit unwittingly.

I told this pure innocent of the ways of the world. I bestowed on Ariadne knowledge of death, pain and hate - all these things which we deal with every day. It came out in such a rush - I told her of my pain, my failed hopes, my unrequited love. I just couldn't help it, just a release of everything weighing down my soul.

When I finished, Ariadne just gazed at me, her eyes full of love. Even though she was distressed by this horrendous pain, pain that I had thrust upon her, she could still bring herself to care for her tormentor.

The simple beauty of the act brought me to tears.

Ariadne stroked my shoulder tenderly and my own pain dwindled, eclipsed by her agony. With love in her eyes, Ariadne gave me a faint smile; a brave, sad, little smile.

Nothing would prepare me for what happened next. She aged within moments, her pained features withering centuries in minutes. It seemed like the wind blew and Ariadne fractured - flaked away, piece by piece, and she was gone. All that remained were her empty clothes and grey dust on the breeze that was already dying down.

Shock. I dropped to my knees in confusion and anguish. Ariadne was gone. Forever. Looking at the dust that was the remains of Ariadne, interspersed in her white dress, I could do nothing but weep.

Zombielike, I made my way from the ivory tower. Even as the storm broke, I felt shattered and helpless. Although I had never met him, I decided to inform Jeremiah as to the state of his mistress.

Naturally, Jeremiah was devastated and I became the focus of his ire. He explained that Ariadne had been raised from birth with no knowledge of death; since she was ignorant of death, she was immune to its dread touch.

She had been in a state of budding womanhood for over a hundred years.

Her parents, long dead, had wished to preserve her from the agony of life; they had wanted her to be truly timeless. Ever unchanging, ever beautiful, ever perfect. He further spoke of his bloodline, which had altered their features to resemble the first Jeremiah - when Ariadne was growing up. He was of an age similar to myself, not the grizzled 60 year-old that he seemed. His true age showed now, his pain, his anger, his sadness. I had brought about the destruction of his family's legacy to Ariadne - I had revealed the concept of death to her and that had called the pale rider to claim her.

I'm sure that Jeremiah burned with the wish for retribution towards me, but for the moment his sorrow outweighed his wrath. I'd already done enough damage - I left him to his grief.

Let me tell you, I felt totally worthless. Through such a minor mistake, I had caused so much damage; I had destroyed something that would have been truly eternal.

As the sun pierced the tempest, I was struck with an epiphany:

The true beauty of Ariadne was revealed at the end of her life. Knowing that the world was fundamentally uncaring, she could still care for others. She could ignore her pain and still manage to love. That we can love one another in this cruel mockery of existence is truly miraculous. A miracle of which we all are capable.

We appreciate beauty more when we know that it will be gone some day. The rose, while beautiful, will wilt, the plant will die. While the rose blooms, we love its beauty, because it won't last forever. The metaphor for human existence. We grow, we bloom and then we die. We are all the more precious to one another since we know it will all end one day.

I do not regret my actions. I did what I thought was right. I may have disturbed the universe, but such is my right, such is my duty. I live in it, after all. Whether I enrich the cosmos or ruin it is up to me. Ariadne had a mockery of life, she was only truly beautiful from her own mortality. Ariadne was only truly in our world for a short time, but she enriched this world before she left it.

We have turned our back on paradise - it is now up to us to create our own paradise.
Too Late by Lindsey Howe
I feel the sense of fate twisting all around me.
"Is this my fate?" I ask myself.
I look back on my life and see nothing but the pain my soul has been entangled in for so many years.
My tears burn my cheeks, and even though I don't want to cry anymore they fall harder and faster with each breath that manages to escape from my emotionally ravaged body.
I just want it all to end now, before I crash and burn like the rest of them. I look down and see them all moving like ants, in a single, boring fashion.
"How can they live their lives like that?"
They aren't people, just dead souls inside of a universal body. I don't want to be like them anymore, with the hell of life blazing down on me from every angle.
I'm feeling almost euphoric now. My body begins to sway as the cool breeze streaks along my body. I know any minute my body will fall and float into the nothingness of what I am destined to become. I'm still swaying, waiting for death to carry me off when something soft touches my cheek. I reach for it, and all at once a thousand sensations flood my spirit. A feather. Just one object from my former, content life. I remember it all. How gently the sunshine warmed my face, how safe I felt in my mother's arms, and how soft the feathers were when I touched that little chick in the garden.
When my mind came back to reality, I had stopped crying. I suddenly felt whole again. I looked down and didn't see the dark, cold world as I had before. Instead, I saw all the meaning I had ever been looking for. My heart felt the inner peace it had been longing for, for so long, and I was at last happy.
Suddenly the wind picked up again. The feather flew out of my hand. Realizing I could not lose the one thing that had saved me from stepping off that ledge and into my grave, I reached for it. I slipped. My heart pounded, my stomach twisted inside and out, my head spun in a million directions and as I flew towards death I knew I was gone. My own stupidity had taken me out of a world that I had really loved. I had lived in pain for so long that the shadows of death overcame my body and decided to take me away. I realized too late that my life was an inspiration, even if it was only an inspiration to me.
The Other half by Udi Samin
The other half

Dereck was not himself lately, It has been a week since he touched his mathematic books. Every morning he would wake up with a strange feeling that had accompanied him all day long and wouldn't leave untill he retired to sleep. It was of a calm and soothing nature. A kind of a perfect assuring sense that filled him inside and out. Nothing was as it used to be a week ago. The single chair at his table was somewhat different, his bed was more comfortable, the air had a special scent and even the food had a better taste. But the old mirror in his room surpersided them all. Each time Dereck stood in front of it, he would feel this light blue glow reaching for him from the far. Tenderly it would play with him, touching and fading away, growing intense and briefing away, caressing him in an inviting manner. But this time it was something else. This time the blue light was merely an envelope of yet a more intense core. A golden sunny shine, full of sweet and tender touch. Dereck couldn't hold himself any longer, he reached out and touched the inner circle with the tip of his finger. Ripples spread from the inner circle, making their way out through the mirror's surface. Dereck drew back, but the mirror's surface just streched out still connecting to his hand. The pleasantness was irresistable. Dereck didn't fear any more and silently went into this promising mistery.
The other side was quite ordinary a perfect image of his well aquainted place. The same lonely chair stood there waiting for company, and even the black and white marble floor needed to be washed just as the former one. Disappointment crept into his heart, he turned around trying to find his way back, and suddenly stopped. The table, it was a little different. And the things on it, they were never his. Hesitantly he approached himself there. He deffinately didn't own these things. A deep and fatherly voice was carried in the air.
-" You were summined here for a reason."
-"We need you to carry on a mission. Are you willing to do it? "- The voice continued.
-"No let me go back , who are you? Let me go back."- Dereck cried in fear.
-"The door was never closed, you can always go back." It was answered. Dereck pulled himself off hurrying toward the mirror.
"Please don't go we need you..." It was a female voice now. Reluctantly he stopped. -"What do you want?"- Dereck asked in an irritated manner. He was very angry with himself for not leaving right away.
-'I am no man of war nor of fightings. I woulldn't know what to do with this sword anyway". The Emerald besides it was quite impressive, but Dereck was willing to give them both away.
-"That is the sole reason why you were called here." The male voice continued.
-"O.K. then what need I do?" He kept asking to his own surprise.
-"You will figure it out, and by the way thank you." And the voices had faded away.
'Great'- Dereck was thinking to himself. 'Here I am in the middle of God knows where, having to carry a on a mission I don't even know anything about. Way to go Dereck, You have really out done yourself this time.' He ranted to himself.

-'This sword is so heavy'- Dereck thought to himself while treading down the path. It was a light yellow trail leadind downwards in to a green valley. The bright light that was reflecting from the snow covered peaks of the far away purple blue mountains, joined the light golden sunny rays into a beautiful dance of beauty. The scenery was breathtaking. The ancient spicy odour that was carried in the air gave it it final touch of perfection. With eager eyes he devoured this sight gasping air and holding it in as if to savore some of that magnificent smell inside. If only he didn't have to carry this sword with him, he might have forgotten what he was there for. But it kept reminding him and so Dereck went on. An hour or two had passed and no soul was at sight. 'I could live here forever '- he thought-' But I have to do this , whatever that is...' - He mocked at himself unbelievingly.
And there it was. As if out of the blue, he spotted a figure seated on a rock not far away. Dereck trying to get rid of that heavy stoned sword was reaching to the man on the rock trying to hand it to him.
-'I am not the one to take that sword." The man replied his gesture.-" I am merely here to give you this." the man continued uninterrupted.
-"You must be who you are." And then came scilence.
-"But I am who I am." Dereck objected after a small pause.
-"Ah, but that is only half true", the man paused for a while and continued,- "Because you are only half of what you really are." And suddenly he was gone, leaving an echoed sound of laughter.
-'Strange place, bizzare people, am I the only sane person here... Oh how I miss my simple empty life'. There was no one to reply to this thought, and Dereck started pacing hurriedly hoping it would soon be over.
-"Ah, I see that you met the man on the rock." Came a voice from behind him. The young lady went passed by him as she continued. "When you will find the truth you will find your other half."
' It is all a big pharse, and I am the biggest fool around, no one knows me better than I do, and that's all.' Dereck murmured. It was already too late to turn back or head on, and so Dereck prepared himself to the night. Gazing at the stars he realized that the same sense that used to leave him at night, was not going to do so, assuring him that it's going to be with him forever. 'Well that is a good thought to close your eyes with.' he grinned and went into a deep sleep.
Dereck had wandered in this strange land for a another more week. Every day he would meet more strange people, each of them would act as if he knew the whole truth about Dereck, and none of them would really say anything meaningfull. Weary to his bones, Dereck finally reached the place. It was a building that resembled an old greek temple. Dereck walked through its high coloumns and into the main hall. Inside there stood two statues one of them resembled Apollo and the other of Venus, only they were far more beautiful than any earthly statue he had seen. Apollo was reaching out his right hand as if holding his sword, but the sword was missing. Dereck knew what to do, he laid the sword under Apollo's feet and the emerald under Venus's. The two objects simultanousely flew in air reaching Apollo's hand and Venus's necklace. Dereck looked up, being able to see the sky, he wondered where the roof had gone, for he was sure the temple had one. Suddenly they spoke, and Dereck recognized the voices he heard at the begining of his travel.
-'You have reached me by your logic. You were well to understand that war is always an ill doing.' said Apollo.
-'And you were guided to me by your love. Because love is the source of all good intentions.' Venus added.
-' Know this. The naked truth is never incinuated. It is loud and clear and wide open. Wisdom is always better said in small and simple phrases... Oh and by the way find a friend...' Apollo said no more.
-'You know what, sure it is all magical, and good and loving, but if you really knew me you'd know it is not easy for me to find a friend. And by the way I am not asking for your help, because I value my freedom more than anything in the world.' Dereck turned away. 'So long friend we will never abandone you' He heard the two voices from behind him. 'Same here' Dereck grinned to himself knowing that they were able to hear him.
Next morning, Dereck was waking up, and to his surprise there was no more of that feeling. Everything was normal again. 'Oh my math how have I missed you'- Dereck cried still yawning. -'Life is really all about experimenting isn't it.'- he thought to himself. Smiling he stayed in bed for a few more minutes, preparing himself to another day in the real world...
But let me tell you a secret before I leave. If you think that Dereck had lost it all than you are very wrong. Dereck kept on leaving his regular life, but every day when he would retire into his own thoughts that same great feeling of Apollo and Venus would feel him up reminding him of the part that is still missing in the real world, the part that maybe you would like to own as weel....





Aone night stand by Udi Samin
Sex is the one of the strongest basic impulses human beings have. For many of them it all that it was, namelly basic. That's how it was for him. Focusing on the sensation his genitals gave him, self absorbed and concentrated. His body used to harden, his muscles would tighten, small droplets of sweat would cover his body like a thin film, while he was pounding against his woman, conquering with triumph. Reassured by his mate's moaning and crys, certain of his performance, he would continue untill they both came. Yes he was good in bed and was very vane about it. Never knowing though, what he was missing all that time. Untill he met her...

She wasn't extremely beautiful and he didn't think she was very sensual. No, there was no fatal attraction when they first saw each other. Yet, something about her drew his attention. He couldn't quite say what it was. Maybe it was the way she walked past his table toward the bar, or was it the way her hair fell down over her shoulders, he couldn't really point a fingre at it. And yet, he found himself next to her, half leaning against the counter, looking at her closely.

She wasn't waiting for anyone, nor was she looking at any of the men who were dancing on the yard. She just sat there sipping at her wine, detouched and uninterested.

"May I buy you a drink" he offered.
She lifted her glass incinuating she already had one.
"Cheers" he said ignoring her gesture. She smiled and noded. Still wraped in her ownself she looked strait at the colored lquid bottles in front of her and away from him.

"So, will you do me the honor..." he insisted.
" Maybe I will... She replied laughing.
She watched him sitting besides her, looking strait into his eyes in an opened and inviting pose. And he felt it right away. Her magical presence touched him awakening him to a new feeling. Suddenly he became selfconcious about his whole body. As if his conciousness, that used only to live in a small and untouched part of his mind, grew to another dimension and filled his whole being. Like there was another body made of energy atouched to every part of his body, constituting his own imaginary self.
He just sat there gazing at her, enjoying his new awareness and connecting to her own silently. He was ready to order his second refill, but she had stopped him.

"It will only spoil things for later" She explained.

They didn't talk much during the two hours they spent in the bar, nor did they talk while driving into a motel near by. Still feeling pleasant of each other presence, they checked in and went to the room upstairs. Soon, he will take charge and show her a good time as he used too. He thought to himself. But she had planned a whole other thing for him, as he was about to find out.

As they stood facing each other in the middle of the room, he tried reaching for her breasts with his hand, but she drew back disconnecting.
"let's take it slowly." She said.
Listening to her he realized that his imaginary being no longer needed her support. It was self sustaining. He wasn't thinking about anything while he was taking his clothes off. And then approached her. Closely enough, but still apart from each other, they both just stood there.
She started moving her body using gentle movements, still standing in her own place. Much to his surprise he sensed his own muscles sending him a pleasant feeling through his imaginary being. Standing still, he enjoyed this sensation and then joined her dance, moving himself slightly, sending his own vibration toward her, recieving her own, while they mutually danced their strange harmonious dance. He was astonished to discover how well correlated they were. Every movement of her muscles would make his own muscles transmit to his conciousness a splendid delight. His mind was at rest, not thinking he let it all happen to him, and then he saw it. He saw his imaginary body overlapping his flesh one. He saw her own imaginary part, and he also the connecting midst in between them which was a blend of both their beings. His body was tightened but he kept moving unable to distguish whether the pleasure he was feeling originated in his own body or her's. At first their connection was through their abdominals, but he could see it growing, climbing up to weld their heads, spreading down to tie their legs, untill they were one imaginary entity. He was ready. And so was she. Slowly they came near, touching each other gently, kissing and hugging. Every physical touch was ten times more intense than he used was too. As they joined he felt waves were travelling through out his whole body. Each brush with that blue violet light sent him higher to the realm of joy. They kept on going untill they both climaxed. He stood with her for a little while, waiting for the fall down of relaxation. But it didn't happened. Instead they were both ready for another climax as if they have just started. And so they moved from peak to peak not needing to rest in between. In fact he was urging her to keep on going, fearing that it'll fade away if he stopped. But it didn't. Finally, feeling they should stop they both laid on the bed one beside the other not needing to say anything.

He opened his eyes to the warm sun light that came in through the window. She was still beside him, smiling and reassuring. It wasn't a dream it was very much real.
"Thank you" He wispered all smudged.
She just smiled and started dressing.
"Will I see you again " He asked.
"You don't need me anymore, you are now able to do it yourself" She answered earnestly.
"But I can't let you go just like that" he insisted.
"Remember me" She said and slipped out of the room.

'Unbelievable ' he was thinking to himself. 'Simply amazing'
He checked out still thinking about her, feeling the remanesance of the previous night, wondering, whether he was able do it by himself. He pulled out his car from the drive way promising himself to try. And he succeeded, for if you had touched heaven even once, it will never go away.
Don't Drop the Reins by Renee L. Wine
She slipped her left foot into the stirrup and clasped her small hand around the saddle
horn. In one quick motion she was in the saddle.
“Good Job.... Don’t drop the reins Adell” said her father.
She picked up the reins and kicked goose into a trot. The palomino began to
move with an erratic pace because of his tendon injury several years before. Adell guided
the horse around the large paddock, immune to the erratic trot and overwhelming smell of
horse manure.
At the loading ramp her six year old brother climbed onto his own Arabian and set
off a trot behind her. Today wasn’t Adells first ride, in fact she’d been riding alone since
she was two. Today was the day her official training began. Both her parents had been
rodeo stars in their youth and it was expected of Adell and Caleb.
Adell line Goose up behind the start line.
“Go” her father shouted.
And she was on her way to be the highest ranking junior barrel rider in the world.


Nearly twelve years and thousands of practice hours later, Adell was behind the
line again. This time her familiar paddock was replaced by the Laramie convention center.
Large flags hung from the ceiling ‘1999 Junior Rodeo Championships’ written in gold
letters. The smell of manure and saddle oil behind her. The roar of the sold out crowd
mute to her ears. She readjusted her weight in the saddle and ran her hand over
Beelzebub’s ear. (Goose was home spending his retirement eating crab apples and hay.)
The thoroughbred neighed to let her know he was paying attention. Adell looked into the
arena and saw her brothers face by the gate. A white toothed grin below his white
Stetson. Caleb flashed her the thumbs up sign with the pinkie extended, just like their
mother always did.
Adell listened to the sound of the announcers nasal voice over the speaker.
“Next we have a young lady from Akadia Wyoming, she’s the highest ranking
junior barrel rider and has earned over $17,000 this year alone. She’s been riding since
she was two years old. This is her first of two runs, give it up for Adell Rawlings.”
Before the crowd could clap a bell sounded and the gate several feat in front of
Adell opened. She moved Beezlebub up to the line. The blood that had been pounding
through her body was as slow as molasses. No sound entered her ears. The only sight she
saw was Beezlebubs left ear and how it was lined up with her first barrel. She was poised
in the saddle facing the crowd. Her long brown hair was in two french braids and tied
with two silver ribbons to compliment the embroidery in her riding shirt.
From the judges box a start pistol was fired and Adell thumped Beezlebubs flanks.
The $18, 000 thoroughbred set off at a dead run. They merged together Adells body
pressed tightly to Beezlebubs neck. Hr hands clenched the reins so tightly she thought her
callused hands would merge with them.
They rounded the first barrel, barely slowing down but coming breath takingly
close. The second barrel was taken with a more rapid decline in speed, because
Beezlebubs back left hoof nicked the barrel, not sending him down or tripping him but
enough to trip him but enough him to slow him.
“Come on Beezlebub, you can do it” she whispered into his ear.
She pulled her body close as they swept around the third and most difficult barrel.
Clearing it perfectly. As they came out Adell once again laid her heals into his heals and
yell Geeeeeeeeeeee upppp. This prompted a faster sprint. Like a flash of copper with a
line of silver streak behind them they cleared the finish line with a time of 16 seconds. Her
personal best was 15 but it was damn good.
She pulled Beezlebub to a halt and hopped off. Her knees barely supported her
weight. They probably would have if her brother hadn’t chosen that instant to pick her up
and swing her in a circle.
“Way to go Adell, you were amazing out there.”
“Oh calm down Caleb there are still thirteen more people to ride.”
“Yes but last years champion won with a 16.9” she cut him off.
“Yeah Caleb and she’s still left to ride.”

The girl they spoke of was Janna Patrick. She was seventeen years old and up to
ride.
“Oh come on Caleb let’s change the subject.”
“I think that’s a good idea Adell.” His tan face got very somber and his chocolate
eyes turned to syrup.
“Why? Caleb what’s gotten into you?”
“Adell, where did Beezlebub go?”
She spun around her silver ribbons once again flying. Her heart that had already
been pounding with anticipation was pounding with fear. She knew better than to let go of
that curious stallion even for two seconds. She began to run down the sawdust covered
ramp that led to the holding stalls. Meanwhile Caleb went the other way to where the
steers and broncs were kept.
That’s where Caleb found him. His large head over top a stall door. The stall
door was large. Wooden reinforced with metal and wire. A sign over the door read:
‘Don’t touch.’ Under that a hand painted piece was nailed the simple word “Aesop.”
Caleb sucked in a gulp of air and froze. This drooling, 2000 pound mass of bull was the
infamous Aesop. The only steer to throw the great Linus Brown. Caleb grunted, never in
his life more happier that he’d chosen to ride bronc. Though there was a lot more money
in steer.
“Come on you lousy shit for brains.”
He grabbed Beezlebubs reins and led him back to the holding stalls. Adell was
standing there estrange look on her face. Janna Patricks horse had slid in a pile of manure,
bringing them both down.

The next day was the bronco riding. Caleb had one shot to win. He’d drawn a
bronc named “Lucifer’s evil twin” also known as “Letty.” It was Caleb’s last possible year
to compete in the junior rodeo, next year he’d have to turn pro.
He lowered himself into the saddle. Letty smashed his head into the gate in front
of hi. Twisting and slamming his gray body into the metal. He slid his boots into the
stirrup and pushed his Stetson down on his head.
“OK, boys, OK!’
The gate shot open and Letty followed close behind. The stale air in Caleb’s lungs
became a brick. The taste of excitement, bitter and sweet all at once. Letty balked out,
spinning. Caleb squeezed every muscle in his legs. He held his right hand above his
head. All the while Letty was rotating like a helicopter propeller. Beyond Caleb’s grasp
of reality the crowd had become silent. Every nerve and fiber in his body was focused on
staying on this bronc.
The timer ran 6 - 7 - 8. A large buzzer sounded. The crowd erupted with cheers
as Caleb loosened his hold and the clowns undid the strap that was squeezing Lettys
testicles. He immediately stopped spinning and Caleb was able to slide off onto the dirt
arena. He had lost his hat in the beginning and was laying ten feet in front of him. The
blood was roaring through his veins so fast he didn’t hear the crowd until his now dirty
Stetson was on top his head.
He brushed the dirt off his purple and black riding shirt and bowed to the crowd.
They went wild. His score came up on the screen 9.8. He’d won. the announcers voice
came on.
“The 1999 junior Bronco champion, Caleb Rawlings.”

Adell moved Beezlebub up to the line again. She tried and tried to focus but her
brothers win had left her heart spinning even more than Letty had.
She barely heard them call her name her mind went blank. Nothing could enter her
mind beside three barrels and her horse.
The champion junior barrel rider and Beezlebub ran the barrels in 14.9 seconds.
The only sound her body could make was a loud squeal as she once again jumped into her
brothers arms, this time she kept a hold of the reins.
My Blue Ribbion by Martha Chisholm
Oh, how Lilly longed for a blue ribbon. Then her parents would be so proud
of her just like they were so very proud of her sister. Lilly's sister Rose
was perfect in every way Lilly thought. How Rose's long brown hair shimmered,
and how her skin was just the right color, and how Rose was not too fat or skinny.
Lilly longed to be like Rose instead of the scragally blonde haired stick
like she was. Oh, if only she could get a blue ribbion. Then her parents would
say "Lilly your so perfect we love your the best". Lilly longed to hear those
words.
Just then the doorbell rang, it was the Postman. Lilly liked the Postman because
he told Lilly he liked her just the way she was. So she rushed out of her room
to go answer the door. When she opened it the Postman said "Hi, Lilly not much mail
today only this one letter for you". "Thanks" Lilly said. Then shut the door and dashed
up the stairs to her room. She wondered what it could be. She sat on her bed
and ripped the bright pink envelope off. It was a letter about a contest!
Oh, wow, Lilly thought this was her big chance, so she read more. It was a Science
Fair. Oh, no Lilly was terrible at Science. So she tried real hard to think
of something she could do. After about a hour or two she finally thought of something
it was an excellent idea, but she couldn't tell anyone, no they musn't find out
for they could steal her idea then.
Lilly got her money out that she was saving for camp and she counted it.
She had saved twenty-five dollars and seventy-five cents. She wanted to go
to camp, but she also wanted a blue ribbion very, very bad. She decided that
she wanted the blue ribbion more than getting to go to camp.
So she headed down to the local hobby store and got the supplies it came to
twenty-four dollars and eighty-nine cents. Well, at least she had some money
left for camp.
After the guy put the things in a bag she ran home as quick as she could and
went down stairs to start her project. She worked and worked on it each day for
three weeks and now the Science Fair was tomorrow. Lilly thought for sure she
would win, how couldn't she she had a perfect project, and besides her sister
didn't know about the Science Fair or so she thought.
When she got there she saw some pretty cool stuff but not as good as her's.
Then she turned around and saw her sister oh, no how could she have found out about the
contest. Oh, well Lilly was determined she would beat her anyways. The judges would
now come around and look at all the things. It took one hour and at last they
determined a winner. Lilly looked over at her project and it had a blue
ribbion on it. Yes, she had won! Her mom and dad would be so proud. Everyone
agreed that Lilly's Wachamagoozit was the best project of all.
She ran home to show her Mom and Dad and tell them she had beaten Rose.
They told her they were proud! Then asked her how she got the money for the
project. She replied "I took it out of my camp savings". They said "now why
on Earth would you do that". "I just wanted you to be proud of me like your
proud of Rose" Lilly said. "Oh, honey we are proud of you just the same as
we are proud of Rose" they said. Lilly said "you are, how can you be I'm not
pretty, smart, or lucky, and I never win anything, so why are you proud of me"?
"Oh, honey it dosen't matter if your smart, pretty, or anything like that what
really matters is your nice and your you". "Really"? Lilly said. "You mean I
didn't have to give up my camp money to win this ribbion for you to be proud of me"!
"Oh, honey don't worry about the camp money we'll pay for it". "You will"!
"Thanks"! Then Lilly started up the stairs to get ready for bed. "Wait" her
parents said. "Yes" said Lilly. "What exactly is a Wachamagoozit" they said.
"Oh, well you see it sort of complicated sit down and I'll explain it to you"
The End



Blind Needs by Martha Chisholm
She falls in the trap his eyes how they burn. She thinks there for her. There is lessons
to learn. He holds her with passion and lust in his eyes. He takes her to
bed to live out the lie. She gives herself with love and desire. Only to
find there is so many fires. Not only for her is his passion and flame. He
thinks of their bodies but not of their names. Then morning awakens, up comes
the sun. The women's now taken, the deed is now done.
The Weekend After by Martha Chisholm
Here I am again waiting for your call, nothing unexpected from you, I feel so
very small. Did you use me again for your pleasure and gain. I knew I would
suffer and feel so much pain. I trusted your eyes, and your sweet gentle touch.
My body it aches, I need you so much. What are you doing on these long lonely
nights? Playing with her? I'm willing to fight. Call me and tell me you
want nothing more. I'll leave you alone, I feel like a whore.
The Fire Princess by Sheryl Osmeña

Intro: Once upon a time, when the moon was the color of luminous blue and immortal creatures were sworn guardians of humans, where seated on the kingdom throne was a fairy queen of the land called "Firacessia", or land of glowing fire. A kingdom blessed by the goddess of sacred fire, Dhyani; or Diana meaning, the bright one. Her sister, Ciara, Queen of fire-fairies, had a daughter named Cassandra. Cassandra was graced with beauty and spirit, but , of course, she was only half-human and half-immortal. Her father was a knight who was slaughtered in war when she was a child of four. So, her mother, queen Ciara nourished her with human knowledge more that of the immortal. But beyond her gifts, she inherited human flaws such as stubborness and a firery temper.

One day , she walks to the forest of enchantment, looking up, she sees her fellow fairy guardians keeping an eye at her. Slightly irritated, she tries to dismiss her guardians who are flying next to her (she`s more part human, so she has the human form) , but the fairies dissagrees to her command. She looks up and glares towards them. And says:

Cassandra:"Away! you flighty guardians and leave me be!"
She manages to frighten them and so they fly away.
Smiling to herself, she finds her way deeper in the forest, unaware of the jealous prying eyes of a witch near the bushes.

The skies so blue and the pungent fragrance of hundreds of different flowers filled her nostrils. How delighted she feels to be alone at last to explore the earth with awe and contentment.

She welcomes the cool wind of Zephyr to playfully toy with her warm brown, soft tendrils, and welcomes the warm sun to illuminated the endless fallling of leaves and petals of flowers as if to acknowledge her presence.

She walks and walks, then sees a shining peacock, oddly enough, it has a golden lining on its colorful feathers. She sees it walks straight , she never saw anything like it, so , curious, she follows it.

The skies are becoming gloomy and the sun seems to shy away from her now.The peacock suddenly disappears in the midst of fog. Now, it is becoming quite cold.
Now aware that she`s alone, Cassandra suddendly hugs herself in reassuring herself that her mother will surely send for her guardians to come and look her her.

Then, the peacock reappears and is slowly transforming into something.

Cassandra watches in horror as the fog separates and sees that the peacock transforms into an terrifying, evil-looking old woman who is known to be a witch. She`s taken aback by the sudden presence of darkness since she`s the daughter of the queen of glowing fire. The old woman laughs her ugly voice cracks the silence with a painful whip of reality. Dressed in rugs and tattered twigs tangled in her long, gray hair, the forest witch, eyes her scrutingly.

Forest witch: Well...well..well.. if it isn`t little fire princess

( to be continued )
Pinhole Stars by Feliesha
Fingers pointing down from heaven. Shadows kept alive. Breath held out forever. MMemory haunting, reminding, living on. Photo-flash second, gone in an instant. Sting of a lifetime. Requiem for the dead. Moaning to rejoice later on. Pinhole stars. Fingers pointing down from heaven. Love injected into your heart. Presence always felt. Shadows kept alive, differences aside. Essence to reside among us forever. You'll never be forgotten.