Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Red Glow

"You're the master of whisperers, you're supposed to know everything" - King Joffrey Baratheon

The other night I decided to roam the city streets after hours. During the day, downtown Salem is a stale place, void of anything inspiring to me, but at night it becomes an enchanting forest haunted by the hungry, welcoming to the weary, and foreboding to those who live their lives only in the daylight. I walked up and down each narrow alley, casually, driven by a desire to locate the source of my own existence. I investigated the dimly lit nooks and crannies like a rodent would looking for crumbs. I stood silently, with my face upturned toward the dark sky, while a cool drizzle covered my naked head. I passed by several others; humans of the night lunging in and out of the shadows like ghosts in the making. Those of us who dare to explore the sadness of a sleeping city enter an agreement with each other: the randomness of the night becomes our play thing; our temporary home. And it is up to us to take what we discover and bring it into the daylight for the rest of you to see. Treasures found. Cryptic messages. The fragmented clues of the unborn. It's all there just beneath the surface, past the shadows, echoing within the night. As I was about to leave and travel back home I was greeted by a lone woman, bent inward into her own madness, ranting loudly at a store front. While part of me feels a little guilty for recording her, another part of me is completely fascinated by the human mind, especially when it cracks into a chaos that resembles spilled poetry. Here is what she had to say:


“The heart your father gave me, it’s hollow. My chest is dead like a cracked carcass. I can’t feel this; it’s not going to do anything for me. I have to be loved. I have to love. I don’t have a mate, that’s disgusting. I don’t know what you want. Ya’ll bit me on my scrotums, everything. I needed those. These men and me. I don’t know what you want. Fifteen years they’ve been saying that. I love sin. All these ladies, I don’t know what you want. All these blind ladies that you’re supposed to be singing to. To attract them to you. So I can be loved. Love. I don’t know what you want. You’re invincible; I need you physically. I told you I don’t and I don’t need you and I don’t want you. Invincible. You can’t tell me if you’re going to fucking stay alive or not. I needed you. Write that one down. And that’s not me, I do it natural. I already protected and sealed these baby boys. Literally. I already protected and sealed everyone. You’re trading me. My water is gone because you put a great prostitute on me. She’s eating me dead. Your crumbled bitch. I don’t know what you want. You’re sinning. You can’t tell me which one of you’s are gonna stay alive, that’s my decision. I don’t know what you want. I want your father’s musical heart beating in my big chest with my big breasts. I didn’t say that. My hands. Where’s my bat hands with my red glowing fingertips? My healing power I have to love. I have to. Now I’m dying with three hundred billion people taking it. We’ve already been in four to five boxes. I’m suffocating. I know how I need it, it’s pertinent.  Burgeoning. I don’t know what you want, you’re invincible. I think you’re being judged from ships you’re shrinking me. I can’t collect myself the way you wanted me to. It had to be done one step at a time; that’s how I needed it and now I can’t do anything. What am I gonna be? What am I gonna be, demons? What am I gonna be? I can’t hang out with my family. What am I gonna do? My back is fucking broken. We haven’t fucking… we’re tense as fucking hell man. It’s not funny. You don’t fucking do that to me. And then spread it out. What about me? There’s a bunch of old ladies in here. Look at what you did to me. I had already done all that. I don’t know. These people they have family members. Friends. It’s not only the people in the pictures. You gotta judge. Step in front of the thrones and get judged.”

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hearts (a short story)

     "I haven't been to my blog page in some time. Heck, I can hardly remember what it looks like. I'm not even sure if I ever renewed my domain name, so for all I know my site is now just a broken web link lost among countless others. I think my last entry was a short story about an ugly bartender who blew one of her customers during a smoke break," Harold said while taking an unusual length of time sorting through the cards held in his hand. The remaining three people at the table just sat there watching and listening, impatiently.
     "I met a girl on Tinder," Harold continued. "A local writer here in town. Published three novels all on her own! I was impressed right off, you see. We spent our entire first encounter discussing favorite authors and books. We explored the ins and outs of what it's like to self publish. She was a deep well of knowledge and experience in that area. A real turn on, you see."
     Harold finished arranging his cards and looked up. "Are we ready?" he asked while peering around the table. His fingers were already sliding a card up from his fan.
     "If you got the 2 of clubs, just lay it down already. For crying out loud, Harold," the man sitting across from him said, the fingers of his free hand tapping the table top.
     Harold slid the card out and laid it down onto the center of the table. It was the 2 of clubs. "You don't have to be cross, Henry. Everyone here is just trying to enjoy themselves. You get so crooked sometimes, I swear."
     Henry huffed, smacked his fan of cards down and leaned angrily away from the table. His face reddened and constricted beneath a full set of salt and pepper hair, causing old facial lines and crevices to scrunch together as he shot a hard stare at Harold.
    "You take forever!" Henry bellowed. He continued, "You sit there messing with your cards, telling your stupid little sex stories that none of us want to hear! You hold us captive, you son of a bitch!" Henry took a moment and calmed himself before muttering, "This is worse than the war, I swear" and motioned for the player next to him to go. She laid down a king of hearts. "Oh, for Christ's sake! You don't have ANY clubs at all?"
     She shook her head no while hiding behind the wall of cards in her hand. Henry smacked down an ace of clubs. The next player laid down the 10. It was back to Harold.

     "It's not like I always talk about sex, Henry. You just selectively hear it. I talk about all sorts of stuff. Interesting things! I'm living life, you see, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with the table. I look forward to card night." Harold had a way of over-using the phrase 'you see' and it infuriated Henry. Every time the words were spoken it was like a knife twisting into old Henry's side, and it made him writhe within his chair. Harold continued, "And by the way, I never said I had sex with that woman from Tinder. If you must know, we didn't even make it past our third encounter. She was sort of stuck on herself and I don't think I could get past it."
     Harold never called a date a date, they were always 'encounters', and he encountered women often. He was 42, divorced twice, and had recently discovered the world of online dating while reading an internet article on the Huffington Post. Within a week of reading the article he had created three separate profiles on three of the most popular free dating sites. The daily inundation of BINGS, BEEPS, and BLIPS from his cell phone, alerting him of new messages from women, were a welcome spark in his life. In the pre-online dating days, Harold kept his phone on silent mode because it annoyed him, but now every alert he received could be heard by one and all. They were his audible badges of honor and he wore them proudly.
     And my, how old Henry hated them.
     "Turn off your goddamn cell while we're at cards, Harold! I'm telling you for the last time, turn it off!" Henry's anger increased with each new hand that was dealt. The fact that he even allowed this forty year old boy seated across the table to get to him, incensed him further. Memories of a long, hard life flooded back. "Little shits like this don't know," he thought to himself. He could feel his old bones ache as his temper swelled. He clenched his free hand into a fist, then relaxed it. His eyes focused on the queen of spades in his hand and he let out an indiscernible string of curses. The lady to his left spoke out.
     "Henry, it's alright. None of us here mind, now do we?" she asked while glancing at her table pleadingly. By this time the attention of other tables in the Activity Hall had already turned in their direction. The bridge table was nearest to them and the players seated there made no effort in hiding their disgust. Repeated glances and whispering made that obviously clear.
     "Sure, Henry, we just want to play cards," the other lady added shyly.
     Harold's cell phone beeped in two quick successions. Henry burst out of his chair and reached across the table for it, but Harold quickly grabbed onto his wrist before he had the chance to take it away.
     "Let go of my phone, Henry. LET IT GO."
     "There are women at this table, you inconsiderate little shit!"
     "And that is relevant how? Now let go of my damn phone, Henry!"
     "I will not."
     The sound of chairs sliding could be heard as a few men at other tables stood up. A few women gasped audibly. The two men at the hearts table remained locked in battle; one standing, the other still seated, their arms competing over a phone. The two lady players sat perfectly erect with cards still fanned in their hands, unmoved by the scene playing out before them. Whether from fright or uncertainty of what to do, they remained motionless like two atomic bomb test mannequins waiting for the blast.
     The devastating blast came via Henry and caught everyone completely by surprise, including himself. As the anger continued building and his 71 year old muscles continued to engage in the prolonged tug-of-war match he unwittingly placed himself into, his body began to turn on him. His traitorous leg muscles quivered under the intense stress and he felt as though he might collapse at any moment. His upper torso trembled as his arm continued pulling at that damn phone. His mind was sharp and strong and continued sending commands to his failing body, but his stomach muscles were now beginning to bail on him. His back turned to sweat and he could feel his heart pumping fiercely inside his chest. His thoughts drifted momentarily to his latest medical exam and to his doctor warning him, nay, urging him to avoid strenuous activity due to the weakened condition of his heart. The words struck hard and snapped Henry back into the moment. His chest burned and clenched. Several gentlemen his age were now standing right there at his table. They were mouthing things and using their hands for punctuation, but his hearing had been replaced by a long drawn out tone that sounded like number 3 pressed on a cell phone.
     Ah, the cell phone! His mind jerked back to attention and his eyes refocused onto Harold's phone. He still wanted it. He wanted it more than anything he'd ever wanted his whole life. In one final, visceral attempt at victory, Henry gave it everything he had and pulled hard against Harold's hold on him. There was a a terribly loud popping sound as Harold's grip failed and he watched his cell phone slip away within Henry's hand. The popping sound continued as Henry's newly freed body weight sent him sprawling backwards against the wall. He hit with a loud thud and slid down to his ass where he sat in a heap, breathing uncontrollably. As the popping sound ceased and his senses began to return, Henry now noticed the disgusted looks on people's faces as they slowly stepped away from him. The floor suddenly felt like warm mashed potatoes beneath his butt and the smell of shit instantly overtook him. The popping sound happened twice more as he felt the last few squirts of excrement exit his bowels and enter his pants. He heard one of the ladies at his card table mutter, "Oh dear, now he's gone and done it." Harold sat motionless at the table. He also sat phoneless.
     Still lying on the floor in his own evacuated shit, Henry looked down at the cell phone in his hand and smiled. The smile turned to a long drawn out laugh as he realized he had won. And at the height of his victory celebration, the cell phone beeped three times in succession. And it was Howard's turn to smile. And Howard's smile quickly turned to laughter. The rest of the activity room grew uncomfortably quiet as Henry reached down, undid his belt and unzipped his pants. Harold stopped laughing as he watched Henry slowly and methodically take the cell phone and slide it into the depths of his pants.

                                                                  THE END.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Rags To Riches (a short story)

(WARNING: Explicit Content)  

 It was 8:37 and she still hadn't shown. Kenneth sighed, looked up from his phone and watched as the bartender made her usual swipes across the bar with a damp terrycloth towel. It was knotted up into a ball and looked stupid in her hand as she slid it back and forth in figure eight motions, cleaning nothing. Her half-ass attempt at cleaning infuriated him as he took another drink and continued watching. She appeared disinterested in life. The clothes she wore were trademarks of hard times and her hair was tied back in a simple ponytail as to avoid any effort at making herself look pretty. Forty years of alcohol had not been kind to her face and her attitude towards customers was irreverent at best. Basically, this bitch was one bad moment away from losing her proverbial shit.
     "I can't take it anymore. You're killing me here, Janice."
     Janice set her balled up rag aside and walked over. "Whattaya need there, Kenny boy? Nutha fountain?"
     "No, I do not need a 'nutha fountain'." Kenneth said using a girl's voice as he pronounced 'nutha fountain' mockingly. This was exclusively a Janice phrase and it too infuriated him. For as long as he'd been coming here she had always referred to the pouring of beer as pouring a fountain. "What I need is for you to use that rag as a normal person would. Can you do that, Janice? Can you not knot the rag up when you clean? I mean, is it even possible?"
     Janice glanced over at the rag. It was still balled up tight. She looked back at Kenneth.
"You think you got it all figured out, donchya. You're one of those smarty fart wise asses who think they're better than everyone else. Ain't ya?" Janice walked back over and picked up the rag and slowly unraveled it. "Well lemme tell you sumthin, Kenny boy. I got your number, mother fucker. Yeh, that's right. Every night you sit there in that bar seat drinking alone, and every night I watch you pretend to text people on your expensive little smart phone there, hoping to avoid anyone noticing just how alone you are. And tonight you got stood up again. That's the third time in two weeks. You think I'm too stupid to notice things? Well you're wrong, asshole. And I can clean this goddamn elbow rest however I want. You hear me?"
She walked down to the far end of the bar and started cleaning again. Kenneth watched as she swiped back and forth lazily, this time with the rag spread out flat like a normal person would. He turned and stared at his beer. He looked down at his phone and pressed the home button... zero new text messages. He opened his message history and scrolled through the texts that Rachel had sent him. He read them all, it didn't take long. She spoke in abbreviated thoughts and kept her intentions hidden well. Their correspondence played out like a bingo hall romance. Each message was neatly trimmed of any importance and all nonessential letters were omitted for sake of brevity. He re-read her last text that said she'd meet him at the bar at 7. She added a sideways smiley face and the words ‘can’t wait’ with an exclamation point.
Frustrated, he exited their message archive and opened his dating app. After logging in he navigated to her profile and looked at her collection of pictures again. She was gorgeous. Her complexion and make-up was perfect in every pic, as was the long black hair that hung straight down around her face, the ends of which just brushed the top of her ample breasts. In one pic she even bent forward and pursed her red lips which opened up her cleavage for all the online dating world to see. Kenneth sat staring at the digital picture for some time. He focused on the curvature of her tits and how her skin rounded backwards into her blouse, gently disappearing into darkness. He reached down and adjusted his pants to make room for his growing erection. He imagined himself on top of her naked body, lost in a moment of misfired passion and pent up sexual energy. His lips formed a little O as he pretended to suck on her nipple. His excitement grew.
“Hey lover boy, how bout a nutha fountain?” Janice asked abruptly, appearing before him unexpectedly.
Startled, Kenneth looked up. Janice stood over him with the cleaning rag draped over her arm, popping her gum, her eyes fixed on the glowing screen of his cell phone. Embarrassed, Kenneth hit the power button and the screen went dark. He looked back up at her.
“Janice, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, dawlin’. Ask away.” She set her rag down and leaned onto the bar as though legitimately interested in what he was about to say. Her low cut shirt relaxed and opened up, exposing perky breasts held tight by a turquoise colored bra. Leaning on crossed-over elbows, Janice chewed her gum unromantically and stared at Kenneth while waiting for him to speak. Her make-up appeared to have been applied in an extreme hurry and with complete disregard to beautification. Her eyeliner was thick and her mascara chunky which gave the impression of a woman trying to paint over two eyes that held dark secrets for too long. The color of her lipstick didn’t match the thick layer of blush on her cheeks.
Kenneth took all this in and then spoke.
“Janice, do you ever get… lonely? I mean, not here at work because obviously you’re never really alone here, but you know… out there?” He tilted his head and nodded towards the exit.
Janice stopped chewing her gum and smiled.
“You realize that’s the first serious question you ever asked me before? You been coming here for what, a year now? And through all that time all you ever do is sit there in that stool pining over girls who never show up. And giving me shit about it too, I might add. Every time you get stood up you take it out on me, you realize that? Listen, lover boy, real magic ain’t found in them fake bitches inside that silly phone,” Janice said while pointing. “Those types of girls drive up in their perfect little cars with Dutch Princess stickers in the windows, take one look at this place, and leave. Most of ‘em don’t even sit in the parking lot long enough to turn off the ignition. Those girls can’t even afford the monthly payments on the cars they choose that make them feel better about themselves; cars that they wear like expensive shoes. And here you sit in this beat-up bar, night after night, dressed to impress, waiting for something magical to happen.”
She stood up and removed the empty pint glass from the soggy coaster.
“Can I pour you a nutha fountain?” she asked again, this time in a loud crow.
Kenneth nodded and watched her retrieve a new glass from a plastic drying rack. She turned to the pour station and pulled on the tap. Looking over her shoulder she continued, “Listen, Kenny, there’s a reason you choose this place and not the next bar up the street. Only you can know that reason. Just look around, what do you see?” She turned back just in time to finish the pour. As the foamy head crept up she leaned in and blew it off until everything settled, then turned and placed the beer in front of him.
“There ya go, lover boy, a fresh fountain for your worries. That one’s on me,” she said and walked over to a new patron who just sat down.
Kenneth grabbed his beer and repositioned himself on the bar stool so he could people watch while he drank. Scotter the Otter was standing at the juke box navigating the touch screen menu, his pool cue held tightly in his left hand. His skin tight clothing and greasy slick-backed hair were the reason behind his nickname, but he liked to think it was the way he deftly ran a pool table. The ability to fluidly sneak balls around the others and sink them into pockets with ease was his claim to fame and there wasn’t a single person in the place that could out shoot him. Most of the time he’d just practice running tables all by himself since nobody liked losing to him, but every once in awhile an outsider would venture in and Scotter the Otter was quick to offer up a game.
Danielle always sat next to the pool table where Scotter the Otter was playing. She liked watching him bend over to take his shots; his buttocks stretched his tight fitting pants in a seeming effort to escape them. She was always joined by one or two regulars of the opposite sex; she never sat alone. She enjoyed the company of men, maybe a little too much, and unbeknown to her her nickname was “Well, Fuck” because she was as big as a whale and really liked to fuck. Tonight she sat at her table entertaining three possible suitors, one of which was her ex. He was either too stupid or too drunk to comprehend the current situation, or the fact that she had made quite a scene just the other night when she dumped his ass in front of everyone for not being able to ‘get it up’. And in the blink of an eye his nickname had switched from Half Bow to Half Mast, just like that.
Kenneth chuckled as he replayed the break-up scene in his memory and continued to look around. Most of the regulars were already here tonight as well as many outsiders who were lured in by the Live Music banner on display out front. The place was filling up fast. Every time the door opened he would quickly look to see if it was Rachel showing up late, and every time it wasn’t, his disappointment grew a little more. He checked his phone again… zero messages. He looked at the time… 9:07. He was now officially stood up. Again.
Feelings of dejection started to overcome him as two girls suddenly appeared from nowhere and squeezed their way next to him, pushing for a spot at the bar so they could order some drinks. Kenneth immediately picked up his phone and pretended to be texting someone. The girls were already a bit buzzed from where ever they just came from and giggled together playfully while holding onto one another’s arms. One of the girls bumped into Kenneth and apologized to which he replied “no problem” without even looking up. Janice walked over and took their drink order.
“Whatta ya having, ladies?”
“Two Bud Lites and two lemon drops, please.” The girls replied in unison.
“Two fountains and two sucker punches, coming right up.” Janice spurted back.
Janice reached across the bar and pressed the off button on the phone in Kenneth’s hand. He looked up angrily. “The magic ain’t in there, lover boy, so stop pretending it is,” she said and walked away. When she got to the pouring station she looked back over her shoulder, nodded towards the two girls standing next to him and shot him a ‘what are ya waiting for’ look. Kenneth shook his head stubbornly and Janice sneered. Upon her return she set all the drinks down and tallied the amount.
“That’ll be sixteen bucks there, Double Mint Twins.” Looking at Kenneth, Janice continued, “Say, do either of you girls happen to drive a brand new Nissan Pathfinder with terrific rims and a pink Dutch Princess sticker in the window?”
“I drive a new Monterro Sport with a pink sticker!” the girl closest to Kenneth excitedly replied.
Janice smiled. “Say, have you met my friend Kenny? He just bought you this round.”
Kenneth shot her an extremely disapproving look but quickly concealed it as the two girls turned toward him. In pure drunken showmanship, they both fondled Kenneth on his arm and shoulder, thanking him protrusively while slightly slurring their gratitude. They were young and pretty and their purses glimmered from all the sequins. Their make-up and hair was perfect and the clothes they wore matched that of Kenneth’s. The three of them were definitely dressed to impress.
“That was really nice of you!”
“Yeah that was, thank you! This place is sort of ghetto. You come here often?”
“Do you know what type of music will be playing?”
“Hip-hop I hope. Oh god, look at what she’s wearing…”
“Oh, that’s just nasty.”
“Gawd, that girl is busted.”
“So is the bartender. Look at her skirt… it doesn’t even match her top. And her stockings have runs in them!”
“Do you come here often?”
“There isn’t a single guy in here worth fucking.”
The two girls went on and on complaining about this and that, judging everyone and laughing at their underprivileged, bar-going counterparts. Kenneth simply sat there listening, observing, saying nothing. His eyes moved down their bodies as he checked out their exquisite legs exposed by short skirts that fit tightly, showing off the curves of their asses. He wondered if they even bothered wearing panties. He chuckled as he compared them to Well, Fuck and considered how these two girls were basically cut from the same mold, only theirs was five sizes smaller. Their tight-fitting v-neck tops revealed the young breasts beneath, enticing stares from every corner of the bar as they constantly giggled and touched each other teasingly. They enjoyed being the center of everyone’s attention. Kenneth felt angered as he watched them down the drinks which he got tricked into paying for. As hot as these girls were, he had no interest. After awhile, they too lost interest and left the bar without so much as a goodbye. Kenneth turned back around in his bar stool and faced his beer.
“So, lover boy, did ya score a few numbers?” Janice asked as she lifted his beer and swiped with her balled up cleaning rag.
Kenneth stared at the knotted rag in her hand. “Goddammit, Janice, you and that stupid fucking rag!” was all he could say. She stared back at him.
“I take that as a no?” Listen, it’s not my fault they weren’t your type. Hell, they looked your type.”
Kenneth shot her another look of disapproval. Janice yelled at the other bartender that she was taking a smoke break and turned back to Kenneth.
“Meet me around back behind the smoking area. Use that door over there,” she said pointing and disappeared through the swinging kitchen door.


Out back, Janice stood leaning against a stack of boxes smoking a cigarette. Off to the side a door opened and Kenneth’s head appeared. He looked around, saw Janice, and slowly made his way over next to her. She had her free arm tucked under her smoking arm and a jacket draped over her bare shoulders. She looked like an over-aged hot mess of a woman, but Kenneth didn’t seem to care. She motioned for him to sit on the stack of pallets next to her, which he did. She moved directly in front of him so that they were eye to eye. Still smoking, she reached forward with her free hand, unzipped his pants and pulled out his dick. She played with it in her hand for a minute, rolling it around and squeezing it until it became hard, then she leaned forward and began sucking. She held her lit cigarette off to the side while she worked it, taking an occasional break from Kenneth’s cock to take a drag, then going right back to business. Smoke billowed out from Kenneth’s crotch as Janice continued sucking and exhaling to completion. After he climaxed, she stood, turned, and spit. Kenneth remained seated, immobilized and panting heavily while she finished the remaining drag of her cigarette. Having finally regained his composure, Kenneth zipped up.
“My face is numb,” he said rubbing his cheeks.
“Good,” replied Janice as she snuffed out the butt on the pallet he was sitting on. She turned to go back inside and as she reached the corner she stopped and looked back over her shoulder and said, “A sixteen dollar blow-job from a 47 year old alcoholic bartender on her smoke break… now that’s magical, lover boy. Come back inside; I’ll pour ya a nutha fountain.”

                         THE END.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Grenade (a short story)

      Alison tilted her head back and held the dropper steadily above her left eye as she pumped the gas pedal repeatedly to keep the car she was sitting in from stalling. The revving motor created a gentle sway to which she timed perfectly with each squeeze of the hollow rubber handle. She seldom missed. After applying several drops to each eye, Alison screwed the dropper back into its glass port and returned it to her purse. Using the rear view mirror, she dabbed her eyes with a small swath of tissue. She noticed Shawn standing across the parking lot, on the sidewalk hugging the building, sheltered from the drizzling rain by an overhang that ran the entire length. His arms were outstretched, pumping up and down, and looked as though he were comparing the weight of two imaginary objects.  He was mouthing something in her direction. She cracked her window.
      "Leeeet's go, already!" "C'mon, let's gooooooo!"
He stopped yelling long enough to snatch a smoke from his inside pocket, light it and take a drag, before resuming his verbal commands. Alison watched his dumb ass for a moment longer before finally killing the car's ignition. The gas needle left the 1/4 mark and disappeared beneath the horizon. She checked her eyes one last time in the rear view, grabbed her purse, and made a b-line to where Shawn was standing.
      "Hey, fuck face," she said, "why you gotta be so rambunctious?"
      Shawn took a drag and exhaled slowly. "S'bout time! I been waiting in the rain here forever, fool."
Alison peered through the mostly empty parking lot. She looked back at Shawn and noticed a strange stretch across his face. It was like it was never there before, but she couldn't be too sure.
      "You're a goddamn liar, Shawn."
      "Whatever, come on, let's get a drink already."
They walked past several storefronts until they reached Jerico's Bar. Alison stopped to clean her boot bottoms on the rubber mat and reached for Shawn's shoulder for balance, but he opened the door and disappeared inside without hesitation.
      "Shit head!" she called out to him as she reached for the door frame instead.
Inside, Shawn was already seated at the bar and waiting for his first beer. Alison slid into the stool next to him.
      "You order one for me?" she asked. Shawn shook his head no. "Asshole," mumbled Alison as she motioned towards the bartender. "A whiskey, please. Neat."
      The whiskey appeared before her and was placed onto a napkin. It came equipped with a little green stir stick.
      "What the fuck do I need a stir stick for?" she asked aloud in no specific direction. The bartender had already moved away. Shawn looked over and shrugged.
      "Maybe to prop open your pussy later?"
      Alison sneered. "What does that even mean anyway? You make no sense, Shawn. None." She stirred her whiskey and took a hit. "Hey, how are my eyes?"
      "A BEER, sir! Can I get that beer already?!" Shawn yelled across the bar. Embarrassed, the bartender hurried over to the tap, poured a PBR and rushed to where they were sitting. He set the pint down on a coaster causing some to spill over and run down the glass. "My apologies, I completely forgot. I'm truly sorry," he said before wiping the spill with a cloth and walking away.
      Shawn took a long pull of the cold beer. Alison sat and watched. His adam's apple bounced and lurched with every gulp and his throat looked as though it were writhing in pain. He set the beer down half full and belched.
      "Um, nice. So, how are my eyes, pig?" Shawn looked at her.
      "What do you want me to say? For fuck's sake, I dunno... they look like... eyes," he said while flipping his hands out to the sides. "Besides, I'm hungry. We should order food too," he added and started looking for a menu.
      Alison griped a few choice words as she stood up and slid out behind the tall, wooden stool. She reached in and took another sip of whiskey, this time removing the mini straw and placing it along the edge of the napkin.
      "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to the bathroom. I'll check my own eyes, thank you very much." She started walking down the length of the bar, stopping when she noticed a stack of menus. She grabbed one and slid it down to Shawn. "Order me a fucking steak and prawn, would ya?"
      Shawn reached for the menu and nodded.

      Alison wasn't even a third of the way into her steak when Shawn finished the last bite of his meal. He wiped his mouth and surrounding beard and mustache clean, crumpled the napkin, tossed it onto his plate, and slid the whole thing forward. He nodded to the bartender. "Another PBR, please."
      "Wow, you really finished that food quickly. I have NEVER seen anyone eat that fast before."
      Shawn turned toward the voice. It was a pretty, blonde haired woman. She too, was eating. The man seated next to her was not, but was leaning in on his elbows while caressing a pint of beer between his hands. The neighboring blonde continued.
      "I bet you could do real good in one of them eating contests!" she giggled, pleased with her conjecture.
      Acting uninterested, Shawn acknowledged her with a "yeah, I guess so" while Alison rolled her eyes and continued eating her steak. She'd seen this whole bit with dozens of pretty girls before in dozens of other bars; each one hoping to end their evening by fucking Shawn's brains out. Alison waited for the next brilliant pick-up line by silently counting down with every chew of her meat. It arrived before she even had time to swallow.
      "So, where'd you learn to eat like that? I'm Courtney, by the way," the girl said while extending her tiny hand up and over her bright red purse. She wore rings on her fingers and bracelets that made clanging sounds against her wrist. Her hair was straight, medium length and hugged the sides of her smiling face. She had poofy bangs and her lipstick matched the redness of her purse. Her blouse was see-thru lace and a red skin tight shirt could be seen beneath. It was low cut, exposing her soft tits. Tight jeans and black boots completed her attire.
      Shawn took her hand in his and squeezed it lightly. Without thinking, he quickly answered her question.
      "In the Army. I was a Ranger. We learned to eat fast, kill faster, and fuck hard."
      Alison shot a him glaring glance and nudged him hard in the side. Shawn ignored both. She leaned in.
      "You are un-fucking-believable," she whispered, half smirking. "I can't believe I even know you."
      The blonde girl's interest in Shawn increased immediately as she turned more to engage him, completely abandoning her purse and plate of food, but before she could produce her next sentence the man seated next to her spoke out. He was still leaning forward on his elbows grasping his beer, but shifted and slid one arm in the blonde's direction as he spoke around her as though she didn't exist.
      "2nd Battalion right here, brother. Let me buy you a drink." The man raised his hand and snapped his fingers loudly, then pointed at Shawn. "Sir, I'm buying this man another one. Oh, and another for me if you don't mind, thank you." The bartender nodded and immediately served them a round. The man held up his own beer and motioned for Shawn to do the same.
      Shawn thanked the man, held up his beer and took a gulp in unison. He set his beer back down and turned nervously back to Alison.
      "You get no support from me, you dumb fuck," she said quietly. "Why on earth did you say that?"
      "I.. I.. I don't know. I just blurted it out without really thinking," Shawn replied even quieter.
      "Yeah, well, you better do some quick thinking... because he's coming over."
      The man walked over and stood with his beer in hand, partially wedged between Shawn and the pretty blonde (who was now visibly flustered by the sudden turn of events). Still ignoring her completely, the 2nd Battalion Army Ranger spoke again.
      "I'm back from deployment: Iraq and Afghanistan. State-side for the first time in over a year. Fuck, it feels good. What about you, brother? Where did you tour? Which battalion?"
      Shawn fumbled through his thoughts. His throat grew tight and his hands clammed up. He spun his beer anxiously in circles. He'd been in this situation countless times before, but always with women, never with a full grown, battle-hardened soldier asking questions he could not answer. His thoughts jumped from being slammed against a wall and punched repeatedly to the smell of the blonde girl's hair and the taste of her skin. He wondered what type of panties she wore, if any at all. He wondered if the sex was even worth the lie he told in order to try and get it. She was probably a bore in bed; a total snooze. One of those girls who cringe at the thought of sucking dick, but love to get eaten out. Karma certainly was a dirty bitch, and he definitely invited it in this time.
      Still punch drunk and swimming in an endless dream, Shawn slowly raised his head and met the man's eyes for the first time. They were deep brown, and his stare, intensely unwavering. He stood powerfully over him; a tight Affliction t-shirt contouring to a muscled body beneath. A 75th Ranger Regiment tattoo could be seen peeking out from underneath his sleeve. Below it were other tattoos- all portraying scenes of chaos and violence. Shawn almost managed a chuckle thinking about the dangerous frailty of his situation.
      "Fucking karma, I swear," Shawn mumbled incoherently as he drank more of his beer.
      "Didn't catch that," the man answered back.
      "He said, 'fucking car won't start'. That's all he's been talking about all night, and I swear, it's starting to rub me raw." Alison stood up and moved in, whiskey in hand. She wore a semi-short black skirt which revealed two gorgeous legs. She loved her legs and considered them to be her best feature, hence the wearing of skirts nearly every day. "I didn't catch your name?" she asked as she placed one of her legs against him.
      "Staff Sergeant Curtis Fletcher, ma'am."
      "Oh, come now, Curtis, you can drop all the military speak. It has taken me forever to train my... friend, Shawn here, of that. You Ranger boys are all the same," she teased playfully while placing her arm around his neck and shoulder. "Always so polite too, I might add. Complete gentlemen."
      Shawn could hardly believe what he was witnessing, but he dared not interrupt. He watched while Alison single-handedly, and almost certainly, saved his lily white ass. In a matter of minutes, Staff Sergeant Fletcher's interest in talking to a fellow Ranger had diminished and was replaced with buying whiskey and flirting with his new friend. They relocated to the far end of the bar and continued drinking and flirting. Shawn watched in disbelief as Alison continued the charade, even allowing herself to be felt up under her skirt. As the heavy petting progressed to a full on "anything goes" make out session, Shawn decided that it was time to leave. He paid his bill, got the pretty blonde's phone number and left Jerico's.

      He sat outside in his car smoking a cigarette and watched as the drizzling rain collected on his windshield and formed a dizzying, opaque shield between him and the outside world. His head still reared from all the alcohol and his mind was numb from disbelief. His cell phone beeped and vibrated several times in the empty seat next to him. He flicked his cigarette, rolled up the window and retrieved the phone. The first text was from mom asking where they were at and if they were coming home for dinner. The second text was from Jenny asking if he was with Alison. A third text from Jenny asking why Alison wasn't answering her phone followed by another text demanding her whereabouts and that he call or text her immediately. Shawn tossed the phone back into the seat and rubbed his face with his hands. He leaned his head back and wondered some of the same things his mother and Jenny were wondering. He knew only a little more than they did. He had texted Alison a few times over the past few hours, but no response. He was already way past the point of worry; he was downright scared now. His kid sister had jumped on a grenade for him, but why? Why would she do that? And what could he possibly tell his mom and sister's fiance about Alison's sudden lack in communication? This was bad... really bad. He cracked the window and fired up another smoke. His trembling hands made the simple task annoying.
      "Where are you, sis?" he said aloud. "Why on earth did you go with him?"
      The realization that he basically abandoned his sister and left her in the arms of a drunk, horny man, suddenly struck Shawn hard. He felt sick and tormented at the thought of what she might be experiencing. She had never even been with a man before. She came out of the closet in her teens and had been with girls ever since, never a boy. And now, because of his stupid endeavors, little Alison was who-knows-where doing who-knows-what with you-know-who. Yanking the door open quickly, Shawn leaned out and started throwing up. After finishing he closed his door and wiped his mouth with his jacket. He picked up his phone and tried calling Alison one more time, but was interrupted by an incoming text message. It was from an unknown number and all it said was, "Fucking karma, I swear."


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Saturday Song Salute

It's time for a Saturday Song Salute (a day late). Yesterday after work I hurried home, took a shower, fed Snuggle McFuck Stick, grabbed my tent and bedroll, attached them to the back of my motorcycle and headed south to Lebanon, Oregon for a concert called Guitars Under the Stars. It was an outdoor concert lasting from Friday to Sunday, but I was only staying Friday night so I could see, once again, one of the greatest bands of all time: Floater. I avoided I-5 by taking the back roads through several small rural towns and provided myself with a pleasant one hour motorcycle ride to the venue. Once there, I set up my campsite next to some other friendly concert goers and proceeded to unwind via the flask of whiskey I hid inside of my bedroll.

Actually, bear with me while I plug a certain brand for a minute. Over the past few months I have gradually weaned myself off of gin and switched over to drinking whiskey and in my attempt to locate a favorite bottle, I have discovered (through trial sans error) my absolute favorite: Ghost Owl whiskey by Parliament Distillery in Washington state. If you are a whiskey drinker and you have the chance to try this brand, I seriously cannot recommend it enough. I have mine on the rocks with a few dashes of angostura bitters.

Okay, back to the concert. There really isn't too much to write about really. It was just your basic run of the mill outdoor concert with a beer garden and food vendors and two separate stages. The other bands were decent enough, but the real steel belonged to Floater, hands down. They took the main stage around 9:30 p.m. and rocked the fuck out for about two hours non-stop. While watching this dynamic trio perform I was reminded how fortunate I am to live where I do. At almost any given time throughout the year I can easily see this band live. They reside here in Oregon, so they play here often enough. I can honestly say that Floater is one of the top reasons I love living here. Actually, that would make a terrific blog post. (Note to self: create a top ten list of reasons I love living in Oregon).

This brings me to my belated Saturday Song Salute. Choosing just one of Floater's songs is damn near an impossible task, but I've done it. I tried my best to choose a song that covers what this band is about: rock & roll for the masses. I don't really know how else to describe them. It is a common occurrence to see mothers and fathers with their small children seated atop their shoulders at Floater concerts. It is also a common occurrence to see mosh pits break out during songs such as Sad Ballad of Danny Boy and Cinema. The mixture of the "family-friendly" and "hardcore metal" feel of a Floater show is what I love most about this band. They give just enough to both worlds that both worlds can come together and have a really fucking great time. Okay, enough about the band, let's move on to the song I've chosen to salute.

In this Saturday Song Salute I've chosen Ghost In The Making by Floater. Musically, this song visits all the tiers. You get a very catchy, poppy beat and a fun melodious guitar line that carries you through, but you also get several chorus change-ups that take you deeper, but never abandon the metronomic backbone of the song. Lyrically, this song hits like a hockey slap shot. Picture the goalie's thick glove reaching out and... KAPOW!!! The loud snapping sound you hear is Ghost In The Making hitting leather at a hundred miles per hour. The beauty of these lyrics is that they might mean one thing to me, but something entirely different to you. This is one of many favorite songs by a band that I love very much. As always, grab your ear buds, pour yourself a Ghost Owl whiskey and settle in for four minutes of amazing rock & roll. I think you will definitely enjoy this ride:
Ghost In The Making (lyrics):

All you tortured and strange, before we begin, just open your minds so we all can climb in.
Sell your souls for a dime. Don't try to fight.
You'll never be strong, but you'll always be mine.
Yeah you'll always be mine.
So you're cock of the walk? A heart like a balloon and it's getting bigger.
Still when there comes that knock upon your front door
When you dance across the floor you'll know one thing for sure.
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see you.
Oh they won't see you.
While you're working to earn just one slice I'll give you this kindly advice:
They'll forget your name at half price.
You're just a ghost in the making.
Now you're tortured and you're strange. It's already begun.
Why keep throwing punches when you know that I've won?
Sell your soul for a dime and don't try to fight.
You'll never be wrong, but you'll never be right.
No you'll never be right.
Talk your talk and walk your walk. I'm no common fool and I'd say you took your number
Still when there comes that knock upon your front door when you dance across the floor
You'll know one thing for sure.
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see nothin'
You'll know they won't see you.
Oh they won't see you.
While you're working to earn just one slice
I'll give you this kindly advice:
They'll forget your name at half price.
Oh you're just a ghost in the making.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

McMenamins Passport!

For those of you who are my east coast friends, you will only get to experience this via my blog (or unless you come visit me). Allow me to introduce you to McMenamins.

Wikipedia says: "McMenamins is a chain of 65 brewpubs, breweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs. The chain is located mostly in the Portland metropolitan area, but has many other locations in Oregon and Washington. According to the Brewers Association, McMenamins is one of the top 50 largest craft breweries in the United States."

Basically what happened was this. Back in the 80's two brothers decide to open up a brew pub and upon its success, they decided to open up another one. And then another, and another, and another... you get the picture. What's unique to this particular restaurant/brewery chain is that they like to buy up old historical properties and turn them into a new location. For example, the McMenamins closest to where I live in Salem is called the Boon's Treasury. It used to be a general store owned by Oregon's first state treasurer, John D. Boon.

Okay, so now that you get the idea of what I'm talking about, let's move on. Not too long ago a friend of mine told me all about a really cool marketing strategy McMenamins started. What they've done is combined all of their locations and created a passport that you carry to each location. When you're there all you have to do is go to certain key areas (typically the bar and/or front desk), show your passport and get stamped. That's it! As you complete each location along the way you get free prizes. For example, I just visited Hotel Oregon in McMinnville which required me going to all three bars (main, cellar, and rooftop) and to the front desk for a total of four stamps. The guy at the front desk gave me a clue: "Maybe they came for the rabbits". I had to walk around the hotel and photograph the answer to the clue, then show him the picture before getting my last stamp and prize. I received a cool Hotel Oregon t-shirt! The price of the passport was twenty bucks, so I already got my money back.

My plan is to visit every location via my motorcycle. I will turn the McMenamins Passport game into mini weekend motorcycle trips. For the furthest away locations (Seattle and Bend) I will spend the night camping out somewhere, maybe get a hike in, explore the area. I'm excited!

When the entire passport is stamped and completed you become an instant winner of their grand prize list, and let me tell you what, it's pretty badass. Here's the run down of everything you get:
  • Three individual night stays at three of McMenamins historic hotels
  • A pair of concert tickets at the Crystal Ballroom or Edgefield
  • Drinks at happy hour prices for an entire year
  • Entrance to an annual Passport Club Party
  • Exclusive passport merchandise
  • A cosmic tripster key to all things McMenamins
So there ya have it. For those of you who are reading this and live in the Pacific Northwest, stop in at any location, buy a passport and let the fun begin! For those of you who are faraway friends, well, you're shit out of luck, sorry.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

"My People"

Each day that passes feels more and more like a slice of wasted time that I cannot get back. While it's true, I can't get them back, I honestly wouldn't want them anyway. That's how I've felt lately. The brightly lit red arrow still flashes through my bedroom window keeping me up at night. My skin still bubbles when I stare at it long enough and my veins now carry question marks throughout my body. I can feel them; especially when their curled tops get caught on various entryways into major organs. Sometimes, when I sneeze, strangers turn and stare at me with quizzical looks on their faces and I suddenly wonder if the question marks have learned how to escape. Have they become airborne? Are they infectious? Will everyone around me now wander aimlessly through their day questioning everything currently happening in their lives? I certainly hope so. You people need an awakening.

I said "you people" haha. Fuck, that's fun.

"My people" are currently bombing the ever living shit out of the Gaza Strip. I use the term "my people" very loosely seeing how I am only related by a faint strand of genetic code. Besides, if I really wanted to break it down, we have to use the term Zionism here, right? Regardless, as I watch what is currently happening and try to learn the history behind it, I cannot help but think how similar the Israel/Palestine conflict is to the heated issue of abortion. I'll explain. Both of these issues are huge topics of contention in America and will violently divide a room of people within seconds, and both issues have been an ongoing battle for both sides for a long time. When I look at Israel's claims and then witness the results of their actions supporting those claims, I can't fully get behind it. I don't discount the fact that the Jewish people deserved and have created their own state. It's right there on the map and it's not going away, so let's just get past that fact. That being said, I can't ignore the history of how they got there, nor can I disregard the notion that they have literally turned Gaza into a huge prison. Not to mention the 40+ years of hostile take-over of the Palestinian land around them. If I ignore all that stuff and merely say, "Hamas is a terrorist regime and the Palestinians deserve what's coming," then I have to erase away the dirty parts that exist and pretend I never learned it. Same with abortion.

I'm pro-choice simply because a decision that personal should only be made by the parties directly involved: the woman, the man, their doctor and family. That's it. Everyone else needs to shut the fuck up and acknowledge that a situation this difficult and traumatic doesn't need to be worsened by those who are completely unaffected by the outcome, especially the old assholes in Washington D.C. who spend their days shifting around in 3,000 dollar suits, consumed by their lust for greed and power. That being said, those of us who are pro-choice cannot ignore the fact of what an abortion is. If we simply choose a side and disregard the "dirty" stuff to help ourselves feel better about our stance, then we're being disingenuous. An abortion snuffs out a tiny life ember inside of a womb, plain and simple. It interrupts and extinguishes a process that, if left on its current course, would likely become a baby human being. That's the fact that "my people" have to acknowledge and come to terms with when choosing their side on the issue. Same with the Israel/Palestine conflict, see?

I would be remiss if I didn't sew a final common thread into the analogy I just outlined: religion. I don't think I really need to explain how heavily religion plays a part in influencing peoples' minds on both of these issues. If you are a super-duper Christian and I were a gambling man, I know exactly where I would place my bet on where you stand on these topics. I don't feel compelled to rattle the thought loose from the nut in which it is contained, but I will say this: isn't it interesting that one tiny little clue is all it takes to know exactly what a vast majority of people are thinking? If religion is completely removed from the equation and I can't use it to understand your heart and mind, and you can't use it to help yourself in deciding them, then are we not left with merely facts in front of our faces? I don't know, I could be wrong. Heck, I'm willing to be wrong. In my opinion, being wrong is one of the greatest learning experiences there is in life, and trust me, I've had plenty of them.

I didn't sit down at my laptop today with the intention of writing my thoughts on two extremely divisive (and heartbreaking) subjects, but it happened and I don't really care. Maybe I have given you something interesting to read for a few minutes. Maybe I've given reason for your blood pressure to soar to dangerous levels. Maybe I've gained some new fans and lost a few friends, or maybe nobody will read this and life will go on just as it has been. I'm okay with any/all of it really. The question marks that flow through my body flow through yours too, and you know it. I don't care how well crafted your life is or how perfect you feel within your bubble, because when the sun goes down at the end of the day and you find yourself sitting there alone with just your thoughts and memories of your past experiences, you know damn well you feel it too. It might not tug at you nearly as hard as your neighbor or it might not steer you far from your path, but deep within I know you feel those curled question marks catching on your aorta as they enter and exit your heart. It's okay, we all feel it. We're in this shit together, remember? You are all "my people".