The words in this post share a collective space but they do not share a collective time. Sure, they will be all together in a box dated and time-stamped with whatever it happens to be when I hit “Post”, but by the time you get to -here-, everything you have read up to that point will be in the past. NOW works in the same way. What we conceive of us as NOW is merely a succession of individual points in time that pass by so fast I don’t even have a name for it. NOW is simply a box like this post that our brains trick us into believing. And these individual microgoogletrillaseconds that pass by faster than we can grasp, seem to multiply up into our days. And suddenly we look back at all the time that has passed and wonder where it all went and how did it go so fast?
One could hear the sounds of the arcade almost as soon as one stepped in the door of the mall. Of course, our mall was small so that was no mean feat, but it still lent a certain air to the rare trips we could make. If I was lucky, I had one or two dollars in my pocket that I could turn into the magical tokens that allowed me to board the electronic railways to leave my worries behind and hang out with my pixelated friends for a bit.
The arcades of the 80s, at least the one I was familiar with, was a bustling zone full of pre-teen kids to early twenties young people, mostly boys, staring wide-eyed at screens housed in large standup cabinets that displayed garish art on the sides and the logo at the top of the cabinet. Their friends either cheered them on or talked trash, depending on whether they were competing against them or not. The player’s hands danced over the buttons and shifted the joystick rapidly, body tensed with concentration, only releasing in agony once the inevitable passing of the player’s character, ship or other critter occurred.
Such was my Nirvana.
I still recall the fast-paced action of Sinistar as I frantically mined asteroids for the bits of ammunition I would need once the dreaded “Beware! I live!” blasted out of the screen. I remember the tiny thrill of fear running up my spine as the evil Sinistar started relentlessly chasing my ship, and thus me, like an angel of death. The just as frantic pace of Robotron as I fought both the ever increasing amount of enemies on the screen and my brain’s refusal to allow me to figure out two joysticks at once. My fellow humans were doomed. My almost equal inability to work the knob for Tempest as I swung around the outer rim trying to zap the wiggly, spider-type things, the kite-type things and the bolts of electricity that all wanted to end my spending spree quickly. It all seemed to go by so quickly and before I knew it I was once again reduced to penury and relegated to permanent onlooker until my mother game in to drag me away.
Such was my Hell.
I am sure that nostalgia is fogging up the glass somewhat, but those times are hard to recreate now. It’s been a long time since I bothered going into an arcade. The games, while miles more advanced in terms of graphics and cabinets and controls, just don’t seem to have the same magic. I have also found that I still, even being older and with more income, cannot afford to play these games for long. No longer will one token allow you on the transport; it requires a hand full. Age perhaps has served to dull the new and shine the old, but they just aren’t the same. As a parent, I am glad that my kids don’t feel the draw to the arcade. I would hate for them to be in the shoes I was in back then. But at the same time, I feel a bit bad for them not getting to experience the socializing and the camaraderie I shared with people close to me back then. I suppose they get that from their online games, but for me it’s just not as magical.
I suppose it doesn’t matter that the railway to escape takes more tokens than it used to now. The destination isn’t as grand anymore anyway.
Recently I had cause to return to the Land of Neverwas. I had to chuckle a little. I thought melodrama was long past and behind me, along with my teen years, but boy was I wrong. I remember the feelings. I remember their expression. But as time has dulled both things and I look back….hew boi…melodrama is hardly descriptive enough. I raged and I whined all to no avail. Well, maybe not to no avail. I did learn I don’t ever want to be there again. Fuck. That. It was all self-created drama anyway. Part of my imagination, making up stories and things that were never real. Never there. Neverwas. My life may not be the product of an overactive imagination but it sure can be the victim of it sometimes. What seemed like love was simply mistaken desire. You can only see with time that you were an exciting little game that some girl child was playing. A naughty little secret there to add a bit of spice to a mundane, boring life. It was fun for awhile but then you take off the blinders. Blinders worn to hide what was there beside you all along. All you had to do was turn your head. Once you do you can say hello to things that make sense and leave behind the silliness of yesterday…
In light of the fact that this country’s beginnings are deeply rooted in protest, I find it confusing how groups of people protesting for justice and change can be criminalized and demeaned instead of held up as heroes. (True heroes, because all they have are signs and anger. No armor, no high powered weapons, and no training.) But then I realize that the majority of people fighting for righteous change in this country at the moment are people of color and not even the Founding Fathers were ready for that shit. I joined in a low key protest once and even that shriveled me testes. It was scary thinking that any minute armed police might swoop in. The people protesting now are facing a veritable army and many of the people in this country despise them for some reason I can’t fathom (other than the color of their skin.) I support them. I admire them. I am tired of hearing stories of young people (PEOPLE! HUMAN BEINGS!) getting gunned down in the streets. I am tired of hearing that their murderers get off scot free and are even supported in their deeds. Right or left, this should be an issue that we are all tired of having happen in this country. But the powers that be, instead of sitting down and discussing a solution to end the bloodshed, they want to escalate with more armed thugs and more armored vehicles and more promise of violence. And in the end, they won’t be the ones blamed, it will be the protestors. The badge is a tiny metal thing on a person’s shirt, but it makes a gigantic shield to hide behind.
But inside I could feel fear hardening in my belly like a ball of antimatter. And I knew if I let it out of its containment field, I would explode into a spreading flame of helpless fright. I knew I couldn’t do that. I had to keep it together for my baby girl. And my sons. And even their mother, who I was sharing more moments with than I had since our divorce over ten years ago.
It was hard. So hard. Sitting there watching her unconscious, tubes of all sizes sticking out of her from all locations top and bottom. The rhythm of my day was the harsh hiss and sigh of the breathing apparatus she was hooked up to, keeping her alive since she couldn’t breathe on her own. I would watch her laying there, wanting so desperately for her to wake up and talk to me again. About boys, about soccer, about work, about life. Anything. Even an annoyed eye roll would have been joyous. And she did wake up on occasion, but there was no joy then, only more agony for us both. Her drugged stupor would temporarily wear off and I would witness frantic desire to be rid of the tube in her mouth, throat and lungs. A wordless mouthing of an impassioned plea. “I want to go home. Please.” The tears would roll out of her eyes, each drop speaking clearly words she could not say.
But still, my own eyes remained dry. I could not let her see my agony. I could not be weak when she needed strength. All I could do was brush her tears away, stroke her hair and whisper “I know baby, I know.” and try to calm her as much as possible until she fell back into unconsciousness as the drugs swept her once more into whatever place they took her. I wondered if she dreamed. It’s possible, I suppose. Her brow would furrow, her hand, restrained to prevent her removing her tube, would make motioning movements. I could only wait in helpless agony, wanting to do what a father should do and make it all better. Protect my child, ease her pain, calm her fears. But I was helpless. It was a helplessness that made me feel as if I were in a wakened form of her current condition. Unable to express what I wanted to say, unable to move in any way that mattered, unable to do anything but wait and watch and hope and look forward to the day she could wake up and talk to me again.
And then she did.
Now, though there is a long fight to get back to where she was, and things are not normal, we can talk, we can hug, we can say I love you and we can even argue. Sometimes. Which seems stupid as well as…normal. Even though things aren’t. I’ll take it. I’ll take those dark days disappearing into the distance. I’ll help them along by driving fast down the road of yesterdays. I’ll scream with joy with my head out the window.
And in the dark, at night, by myself where no one will see I’ll let loose the fear, little by little, not so much that I explode but just enough to let it leak out of my eyes.
I am desiring to take myself on a journey. But it is not one in which I would like to travel over dirt and rock and go from one town to the next, or country to country. And while it’s not a territory unknown to man, it is a territory unknown to me and one I very much want to discover for myself. And it is not one I would undertake by car, train, boat or even by walking.
The means of exploration would be by the touch of my hand and the kiss of my lips. For, you see, the territory I want to discover is your body. I want to learn the geography of you down to the most intimate detail until I could find any spot I like in the darkest of nights. I want to know where the secret places of your pleasure hide so that I can visit them often to both of our delights. I want to soak in the pools of your eyes and stare at your beauty as if it were the night sky. I want to bask in the warmth of your arms and lay my head on your chest and listen to the ebb and flow of your breathing, soaking up the sunshine of your love. I want to taste you and savor the sweetness and the saltiness of the various parts of you as if I were sampling all the finest flavors of the world. I want to drink of your lips and grow intoxicated by your scent.
There is a jarring moment when you realize that someone you have put so much of yourself into, so much love, so much effort, so much…everything… is a cowardly, self-centered, piece of shit.
But it’s a good sort of jarring. Liberating. Because in that moment of realization the chains fall free and the blindfold is removed. You can see her for what she really is and you can then move away from her and leave her to whatever idiot is willing to live with all that crap. Kiss that human shaped pile of feces.
I’m off to more pleasantly fragrant pastures to enjoy my liberation.
(found this languishing in my draft box for some reason)
i sat down to write some words, but nothing came to me. i hoped that wasn’t a sign, that nothing. it wasn’t that i didn’t have anything to say. it wasn’t that nothing was in there. it was all still there. every bit of it. it was more the fact that i had said it all so many times. it hit me that i was becoming a broken record. actually…not broken really. more like scratched. i was at that point where the needle would stick on the same phrase over and over again. and i just couldn’t write the same old bit anymore. i just couldn’t. i wanted it to be for a different reason. i wanted my fingers to hit the keys to say beautiful things because i had a beautiful reason to. i wanted the moment i was playing in my head to be the inspiration for what i wrote. the ecstasy, not the agony. i wanted to write things while my inspiration lay next to me pretending to wonder what i was writing, but secretly absolutely sure the entire time. secure and enjoying it the whole while. i just wanted things to change, but they were stuck in the ancient amber of sameness and there i was listening to forlorn music wondering what the fuck was going on within that space i wasn’t sure i would ever be able to reach. wondering why i could write so much better than i could speak. why every time i opened my mouth nothing much came out, as if my heart had a much better line of communication with my fingers as opposed to my mouth. i figured it was because my mouth was waiting. it knew exactly what it wanted to say but it wanted to say it at a particular moment so in the meantime it just bode its time. but that time turned out to be nonexistent.
I tried to have a philosophical discussion with my daughter last night. I failed miserably. It’s not because my daughter doesn’t have brains. She’s a sharp gal. It was more that I couldn’t find words that adequately described what I was trying to illustrate.
Here’s the thing.
I was trying to tell her that in reality we can be anything we want to be at any time just by doing it. For instance, I’m being a writer right now as I am typing this just by the fact that I am stringing words together in (hopefully) a fashion that makes sense to tell a story or – as in this case – to make a point. She herself is a soccer player just by going out on the field and playing soccer. She is a singer when she sings in the car or shower. An actor when she does her little video bits. A model when she takes pictures of herself. So on and so forth.
Then here’s the tricky bit, where I started to fail in my little discussion.
It’s when we start adding what I was calling The Dream to these activities that we start running into trouble. When we start to quantify and qualify what we are doing in levels. Sure, I am writing right now which makes me a writer, but when I add on The Dream of being a well-known, published and, of course, well-off writer that things tend to get off track. I start getting depressed when I realize that The Dream is not only incredibly difficult to achieve, but also more than likely unattainable. I catch myself not calling myself an author simply because I’ve never had a book published by someone else. This blog, to me, doesn’t count. I haven’t been validated by someone else’s money. That is what – to me – would make me good. It’s really a superficial definition.
I illustrated the odds by using football. When compared to the over all population of the United States those playing football professionally are microscopic in number, yet many people who actually do strap on the cleats and go out and play on a regular basis have The Dream to one day be a professional football player, when in fact they are already football players just by playing football. Adding The Dream and then not achieving it sends countless people crashing down into bitterness and despair simply from adding that extra level of desire and complexity to what they are already doing.
I think she finally got at least a glimmer of what I was trying to say. Which was be happy doing what makes you happy without stressing yourself out worrying about being famous at it or getting a lot of money for it. That just ruins both your happiness and the thing you enjoy doing.
I woke up with an idea in my head one day so I sat down and wrote this intro while it was still fresh. I have a vague idea, but nothing substantial, but I wonder if I should explore it further (once deadsville is finished). What do you think?
The call came in at 9:30 pm on Tuesday.
Officers Mortelli and Jackson were first on the scene. They were now lying in pools of their own blood on the floor of an otherwise nondescript living room in an otherwise nondescript neighborhood in suburban America.
Mortelli had been the first to go. He lay spread eagle, studying the ceiling. A large chunk of his head was missing and he was most assuredly surprised to be dead. You could tell by the look on his face. His eyes wide. His mouth open.
Jackson was still alive, if only just barely, as evidenced by his kicking leg and clawing hand, and was thinking of his kid and the fact that they were supposed to go to a ballgame the weekend coming up. It was an idle thought, one born of shock. It was also his last thought, something that will never be known by anyone else. His leg was kicking in a rhythmic, almost hypnotic fashion, sliding up and down the hardwood floor as if he was trying to escape his fate. He was attempting to speak but the words got caught and drowned in the dark, red liquid that was flowing from his mouth. Whatever he had been trying to say disappeared along with Jackson in one last gout of coughed up blood. Jackson’s hand stopped its clawing motion and his leg followed soon after.
It was 10:07 pm.
But the house wasn’t still. There was frantic motion as someone stepped over the mess the two police officers had made as they died and took a furtive look outside. That someone was Fred Durkinson, 42, father of three children (now deceased): daughter, Terri, 16; son, Paul, 14; and daughter Alice, 10. Alice hadn’t been in the plans but Fred and his wife, Martina (also now deceased) had just shrugged and buckled down. Fred hadn’t minded that much. He loved his wife and kids, heart and soul. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for them and their well-being.
Which is exactly why he had shot them all to death.
On the surface that wouldn’t appear to make sense. After all, why would a man who was completely in love with his family and wanted only the best for them end their lives in such a violent manner? The answer for Fred Durkinson was simple. He couldn’t let them be stolen. Not by those things. The things that haunted his dreams and were slowly and insidiously working their way into his waking thoughts, whispering to him. Telling him to do such horrible things that he could hardly believe the evil that was slowly taking over. He felt he was no longer Fred Durkinson, happy father of three and loving husband of Martina. He was a dark thing now.
There was still a small spark of Fred left inside of him and he was determined that before that last spark was snuffed out, whether by the bullet he had saved for himself, or by being totally consumed by whatever it was that was eating him inside out, that he was going to have his say and tell the world what was happening. Someone had to know, even if Fred could see absolutely no way of stopping it. It would get everyone sooner or later, Fred knew, and there was little that could be done about that. But maybe if the world was warned it could start putting up a fight. How, Fred couldn’t begin to guess.
People had to sleep after all.
And that was the reason Fred Durkinson hadn’t put a bullet into his own brain before anyone had a chance to try and stop him. He still had some work to do. He cursed himself for not writing the letter already, but he had a rare moment of lucidity and he had decided to take care of the most important thing first. Taking his family away from all of this. After that he was going to write his missive to the world, but before he had barely sat down at his computer the cops had come banging on his door. He had smiled and lulled them into complacency and then he had taken care of them too, but he knew he only had a short moment before more came beating on his door and he also knew that there was no way he would be able to take care of all of them. He had to write and write fast.
He went into the spare room he liked to jokingly call his office, and there, among his sports memorabilia and his family photos and his books and his collectibles, he hunkered down over his laptop and began to type furiously. He resisted all impulse to spell check and look for typos. He just typed. He let the words flow as they would. It could all be sorted out later. Maybe someone somewhere would take him seriously. He hoped, but he doubted. Even in his heightened state he realized he sounded like a crazy person. The news stories would paint him as a monster who had snapped and taken out his whole family in a moment of insane fury. The story would be both true and untrue. He was a monster but he wasn’t insane. Nor was he angry. In fact, as he typed, he felt calm. He had a sense of urgency about him, but he wasn’t anxious or scared or angry. He was empty. He was ready. He wanted to see his family again.
His fingers flew. Almost there. Almost there.
While he typed Officer Jackson twitched again. Once more his hand began to claw the floor and his leg began to kick. It was almost as if the events previous were happening in reverse throughout his body. The twitching ran up his arm and his arm slid up the floor. His legs did the same and soon he was on hands and knees, except his right arm didn’t work too well from the torn tendons and shattered bone that Fred Durkinson’s first bullet had created as it flung its way through his body. That one had hit Jackson’s lung and was the cause of the frothy blood gurgling up and out of his mouth once more. Jackson sat back on his feet and put his left arm on his thigh as if taking a short rest before the truly hard work of rising to his feet began. He noticed his hat and reached out for it on impulse and sat it firmly upon his close cropped graying hair. Jackson was a veteran and he knew looking good at all times was imperative to presenting the best front to the public as an officer of the law. Even when one was a bloody mess otherwise.
Finally Officer Jackson began to rise. It was a long laborious process, pitiful if anyone had been there to witness it, consisting of a lot of lurching and swaying and accompanied by the uncomfortable sounding noises of bones and joints popping and grinding. There were a couple of close calls when it seemed that all progress would be lost in a collapse back down to the floor but finally the job was done and Officer Jackson was once more among the upright.
He smiled and blood oozed out of his mouth and fell on the floor. It didn’t spatter because it splashed down among the rest of his blood congealing on the hardwood floor of the nondescript house in the nondescript neighborhood in suburban America.
His eyes were shadowed by the brim of his hat, but they gleamed in those shadows. And they were black. Oh so black.
Fred Durkinson was so focused on finishing his tale that he didn’t see the figure standing in his doorway for several minutes. The figure just stood there quietly, grinning its malicious grin and waiting patiently. When he did finally notice, Fred Durkinson let out a short scream and reached for his gun. He had just been about to hit the send button to email his story out to all the major news outlets he could think of when the awareness of the police officer standing there startled him and caused him to forget to click it. He would never get the chance again. His computer would disappear and no one would know Fred Durkinson’s true reason for his actions. Fred Durkinson would die and his nondescript house would always be tainted and avoided. It would sit and sit, unable to be sold and at last it would be demolished and a small park dedicated to his family would be placed there instead.
Fred had no way of knowing that at the moment. Fred could barely think. Terror filled every part of his being. The cop standing there glaring at him so malevolently was dead just moments ago, Fred knew this, but even so here he was. Fred raised shaking hands and braced his wrist holding the gun with the other hand. It didn’t still the shaking one bit and it didn’t seem to deter the police officer, although he stayed put with his good hand stuck casually into his belt. Next to his gun.
The police officer tried to speak but only managed to cough out blood. He shook his head frustratedly and coughed again. And again, this time with more force. Fred knew he should pull the trigger but fear had him in its grip. It felt as if he had rigor mortis and he wasn’t even dead. Yet. Finally the officer seemed to have cleared it all out for he straightened up and spoke.
“Fred, Fred, Fred.” the police officer chided. “What do you think you are doing? What is this going to accomplish? Your family is dead. There is no stopping us. We are coming, like it or not. And no one will believe your insane story. Even if it is true.”
He grinned a bloody grin and took a step forward.
Fred found enough nerve to use his voice. He stiffened and pointed the gun at the officer with more resolve.
“Just stay right where you are. You didn’t get my family and you aren’t going to get me either.”
The officer laughed.
“I’m already dead you idiot. Shoot if you like. It won’t matter. And as for you, well, we never wanted you. You were just a test.”
The officer moved like lightning and drew his weapon. Fred screamed and fired, his bullet hitting Officer Jackson in the middle of the chest, but it didn’t so much as slow down the inevitable. Fred’s scream was cut short as Jackson’s own bullet tore into his open mouth and splattered bits of bone and brain and blood all over the wall behind.
When the story finally got told there were a lot of questions about what could have possibly driven such a seemingly normal man to such horrific actions, what could be done to prevent these things from happening again, and, as always, lots of pondering and pontificating without any conclusions ever really being made. There were lots of all of the kinds of things that go on around these types of shocking stories.
But what there wasn’t was true understanding. What Fred Durkinson wanted people to know the most was never spoken of. Not one person ever mentioned Fred Durkinson’s last email because the only person besides Fred Durkinson that had seen it was Officer Jackson. And Officer Jackson wasn’t talking because he, like Fred, was six feet under and silent in his grave.
Al Bellington sat in his undershirt and dirty boxers, stained with spilled beer, the powdery orange dust from a bag of cheese flavored nacho chips, and most definitely the semen from his latest round of porn watching. Al Bellington was currently taking a nap in his favorite comfortable chair, the aforementioned bag of nacho chips resting on his well rounded belly, riding like a ship on the gentle waves of the folds of his fat as it rose and fell in time to his breathing. He snored loudly and his body jerked.
Al Bellington was dreaming.
It started out as a pleasant dream. A wet dream would be the colloquial term. He was currently being serviced by two nubile young beauties, their smiling faces looking up at him with adoration as they took turns sucking his massive member. He was in the middle of telling one of them not to forget his balls when the dream went south on him. What had just been two beautiful, bouncy, full-breasted women turned into horrors beyond compare. One bit his cock off. The other sat on his face and her vagina – a dark, impossibly large cavern of utter darkness – swallowed him whole.
Al Bellington awoke from this dream, this nightmare, but he didn’t awaken with a start. His breathing wasn’t rapid, nor was he particular sweaty. No. The only thing Al Bellington did was open his eyes.
It was years ago. Me, my son and a neighbor boy were kicking the soccer ball around in the front yard of my house. The neighbor boy and I were on one end of the yard and my son was on the other end. We lived in an older neighborhood and my driveway and the driveway of the corner house were together, making one large shared driveway. I kicked the ball and my son missed it and it rolled underneath the car of the neighbor whom we shared the driveway with. I waited while he got behind the tire of the car to retrieve the soccer ball. What I hadn’t noticed was that the neighbors were in their car, it was running, and they were about to take off.
But the neighbor boy had noticed. And that is when he saved my son’s life by shouting that one simple word.
I still remember that day at odd times and it still hits me hard. How close it was that I almost lost my boy. How unperceptive I had been not to see them. How irresponsible I had been to let him crawl under a car like that. Every time it pops into my head it’s like a nightmare. How close it all was. How fortunate we all were that the neighbor boy, (that we never see anymore, who is off living a life I know nothing about) was there and that he did see.
I get the shakes thinking about it. And I want to tell that neighbor boy – again and again – like I told him that day and beyond, (but it never feels like I said it enough) “Thank you” for saving my son’s life by shouting
think of the world, the world we see the most of every day, as a large rock half buried in the ground. take that rock, dig it up and turn it over. sure, underneath it is where the creepy crawlies live, the grubs, and the bugs and the other assorted things that make our skin crawl. could even be a snake lying in wait. but it’s also where the life is, the animation, the discoveries. and that is just the top layer of what lies beneath the boring, never changing rock of a world we look at every day. if we dig even further beneath that top layer, down into the soil, what other wonders and fears might we uncover? our hands will be dirty, heaven forbid in this day and age, but that dark soil is cool and damp and also has the potential for life. so i say dig under the rock you observe every day and see what is lying beneath. go to where the life is. make your skin crawl. make your heart beat faster with a slight twinge of fear.
or, leave the rock where it is, doing what it does best.