Thirteen Past Midnight’s Hollow

You don’t hold much in your hands. Usually, its nothing. Sometimes, its a drink, a fork with some food, a ball or a remote. Other times its a baby, or a woman, or a gun. Sometimes, what you have in your hands can change your entire life, and sometimes what you you have in your hands makes no difference to anyone at all.

It doesn’t take much to bring a man down. It takes a lot to bring him back up. Men are killing their families because of debt, of the economy, politics, failure and hurt. They walk from bedroom to bedroom, stabbing or shooting or asphyxiating their blood for no good goddamn reason. They are weak. They are washed out of the world.

Its way past the time normal people would be strolling the neighborhood. In one hand, a smoke, in the other, nothing. Not yet. The footfalls scrape against asphalt. I walk down the middle, looking left and right. I check out each car. Flashing red lights telling me to walk on, brother, walk on. At night, I feel like I own the town. There’s not a soul. A cat. A nest of coons. House after shiny home, cars lined up in driveways and garages, families tucked in deep. Doors locked and hearts at peace. Click, click of a old soul on the porch, lighting up. I walk on by, giving a silent nod though he can’t see me.

I wear the only pair of jeans I like. Ratty, tearing at some places, loose, used, historic. Sneakers on my feet. Cheap things. I think of being noticed. Then I remember none of these people think it’ll happen to them. A laser light of rage and anger sweeping into their eyes, burning the back of their skulls, just because it can. They’d second guess anyway. They’d wonder what was the right move. They’d take time, precious time, and work it out. They have things. Things to lose. Things to covet. Things to keep secret. I don’t. I’m not afraid. I don’t hide anymore.

I wear patches of pain upon a skin worn by a child. Ideas pass by and get stuck, damming up the river, creating choke points. I push and dig and obsesses over getting it done. I forget that water, nature, finds its way around everything. It created the mountains that tower over me. The riverbeds where the city gets its name. It created the trees I sit under. The fingers which fidgets with my pocketknife. The flow will go on, with or without my unwanted assistance. Its always been that way. It’ll always be that way.

There is nothing that can change the skin, the river or the eyes that prefer the dark to the light. That need to hunt and watch and climb above the back and forth of a life forced on everyone by uppers and betters and old dead men with old dead thoughts. We do what we have to do to survive. To live. To live beyond. I do this. I tap the items in my pocket hoping one night, something will come along. But I can wait. I have all the time in the world. There are more patches to sew on. More streets to walk.

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The Prophet of Dee’s

A long walk ahead
Legs pumping
Brain thinking
Hungry for real food
Hungry for quiet
Hungry for a change
No ideas
No worries
No cares
Step into the diner
Dee’s
Local and good
One, please
Little old lady
Dyed hair
Fragile hands
Yes, coffee, please
The prophet comes over
She asks my beverage
She doesn’t like my answer
She’ll come back later
Her tone is her sermon
It says you don’t matter
It says I can ignore you
It says I’m the queen
Pack and shades on the seat
Drinking the old lady’s offer
Silent in my thoughts
She takes a while to return
I order, she obeys
I work on pictures
I watch her talk
I listen to her mouth
She talks, I eat
Complaints
Speculation
Gossip gossip gossip
She forgets an order
“I feel out of sorts”
Bullshit
Rationalize, hamster, rationalize
I finish
I wait
I wait
I wait
She takes the plate
I wait
I wait
I wait
I get up
No check
Best guessed total in my hand
No tip
I hope the totals bigger
I hope she loses money
Old lady sees me
She smiles
She asks for the check
“She didn’t give me one”
Asks for my order
Gives me the total
I hand her the money
I get change, I keep it
Old lady saved me from leaving a tip
I smile at her, saying thanks
I walk out, light up
I walk back home
The long walk
Thinking of what to write

Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Jordan River, Utah

There is too much to do when you’re left alone. And that creates a world where you get bored constantly. I should of went to sleep, working looming 9 hours away, but I also needed to get in a smoke. So, I took to the nature path right next to my apartment complex.

The sky looked prepared to end the few days of Spring weather, and later it would do just that. I set foot to the asphalt, trying to light up. The wind blew harder and harder. I had to turn completely around before the cigarette started to burn. Huzzah. I turned towards my original direction. One more thing accomplished.

Before me was an old man walking briskly. Ahead of him, two flabby women in tight sweats. It appeared the women just started running or have ignored their failure at it. Either way, they were the median sample of residents that graced this north-south pathway.

I had watched a moving episode of Californiacation and it struck a cord with me. Sins, their admissions and consequences. I scanned my past. I’ve done things. Thing wrong. Things evil. Yet, the vast, vast majority of my time has been approved by the moral code. The good kid. The celebrated actions. Rule follower.

Eyes found mine as I took in a drag. Apparently, this path was a no-smoking path. Joggers, bikers and dog walkers with waist pouches full of tiny water bottles and tiny electrolyte solutions. The fitness-industrial complex has claimed this piece of nature. The looks said I had to get my own. I refused.

The piece of nature was a small amount of land on the west bank of the Jordan River. The river snaked very little. Drainage pipes, small concrete dips created tiny rapids, water department pumps fenced off. I didn’t get why it was protected. The city still crept in. You can see warehouses and factories. It doesn’t get you away from the smog, the cars or even the plethora of trailer parks and complexes. What possible meaning did they get from it? Convenience, I would think. That means a lot to those without time to live.

A man with his hard-faced wife ran by. He had both knees wrapped in black supports. Her face grimaced in some kind of pain that made her twice as ugly. If they were deriving pleasure from their feet pounding hard ground, I didn’t see it.

By the end of the first smoke, I wanted another. No physical reason, I enjoy the habit. Yet, what stopped my hand reaching in my pocket is my past. All the rules. The lectures and the ads. The stigma and the opinions. I shouldn’t, I heard in my head. I can’t. You can choose not to. Its wrong. So many choices, yet everyone wants theirs to be yours. Next time. I leave them be. Next time, I’ll do what I want.

I wondered if LP smoked. The girl I hooked, nearly dated then let go when the Ex pulled her hillbilly disappearing act and left my world spinning. Maybe before I leave we’ll share one. Its a real shame there’s so little time to game her. She would be the perfect rebound. Prettier, younger, same name as the Ex and full of life. Shame.

Before I go back to apartment, I checked the mail. A package lock key sat in the mailbox. I open the corresponding door and find a box. “Too good to me,” I said smiling. Kay, my best friend, teased me for days about sending me some kind of present. The day got a little bit better. The good day streak continued.

Walking to my door, I still wanted that second smoke. I walked inside, fingering the black pack of American Spirits in my hoodie.

Next time.

***