Archive for short story

The Cantina 2/22

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2013 by JC

After what seemed like no time I made it to the whistle-whetting spot, which can be conditionally modified that way depending on my intentions. My intention was to continue rhapsodizing upon the rhapsodies around and within me and there were likely to be some unmistakably living sources of music to reinforce the roll I was on at the Cantina, so I yessed while outside the door the notion that the Cantina was consistent with abstracting cadences and songs—which I was especially inclined to abstract now—and moving in space and moving above thought accordingly. I can think about it now because I really felt it and really drank it and really became it then—felt and drank and became the music abstracted, became the field capturing all the piping-hot, underappreciated delight around and within me.

Buttressed of course by my bright-green, orange-laced shoes I swagger-shuffled into the Cantina like FOOSH-FOOSH-SHICKA-NOW-HOOSH—THICKA-HOW and all eyes converged on me.

I was not that handsome, I was not that tall, I was not popping an obvious erection, I did not have a sweat-stain resembling a urine-stain on my pants; I was just the only one FOOSH-FOOSH-SHICKA-NOW-HOOSH—THICKA-HOWing and so the other patrons did not know how to respond—a single note of confusion was all I picked up for a moment. There was a band, and that propped up my momentum; their leader blasted his trumpet as if it was the world’s only recourse.

I stopped playing sounds mentally to allow for the trumpet solo, to be here, now, for the enlightened man’s contribution: he knew what he was doing, and my gratitude couldn’t wait. I danced all the time, though, “In the land of Mars…” I slithered up and down for the solo’s benefit and benefit it did because everyone started dancing along—electrified by my influence sure but ultimately by potential energy going active, kinetic, as it should when the context conduces; the context conduced so the moment arose and potential went actual and that’s how “should happen” became “did happen.”

I got a fez-tip from the enlightened hornist probably for catalyzing what he’d envisioned or at least progress toward what he envisioned when staring himself down in the green room, staring down those eyes, that face; the prayer “let me come to the fore tonight,” was answered with more than a little help from me. I’d helped him reach in and channel what was most deeply there—perhaps his make-up; perhaps his buried, primordial, metaphysical character; perhaps the pinnacle of his then-current self.

Part I (2/20)

Part II (2/21)

In Love on a Boat

Posted in literature, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2013 by JC

I

It’s fun, being in love and on a boat. I was, a long time ago. That was when I knew a woman who was happy to be in love and on a boat. Now I do not, and I do not know where I will find another, but I know where it is most likely to happen.

By the sea there is a boat on which I have been and seen women in love with men. I cannot be sure that the women on the boat who do not appear to be in love or who are in love but unhappy would be happy if on a boat and in love, and so I will horn a man or I will steal his woman without horning him on this boat if she looks happy and in love and I would like to be with her.

II

I am on the boat and we are in the water. I am approaching a man and a woman who appear to be in love with each other and happy. I would like to be with this woman but she is currently with this man and so I will separate them or wreck their home.

“Quite a view, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is,” says the woman I would like to be with.

“Yes, it is. Rick Shaw.”

“Rick Shaw? But we’re already on a boat!”

She laughs and I can see that Rick Shaw feels threatened but does not want to project that emotion. We shake hands and the woman looks at me with attraction.

III

It is now dinner time and I have been with Mr. Shaw and the woman for several hours. The woman continues to ask me questions as Mr. Shaw continues to buy me drinks.

“So you said you are from the port city?”

“Yes. I used to be a fisherman but now I am retired.”

“You look fit. I would not have guessed you were old enough to be retired.”

“Margaret!”

“That’s still my name. So, Mr. Coyle, are you married?”

I imagine Mr. Shaw did not feel good by this point.

“No. I have several children but I have never been married.”

“We do not have any children because Richard is sterile and I do not enjoy having intercourse with him and I do not want to marry him. I am glad you are here.”

THE END

Natural Mess (companion to Only What’s Real)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2013 by JC

Dishwasher-bound glasses crashed chinkily. It wasn’t a wine bar—it was a coffee shop, The Drippery. I was sitting alone by the half-octagonal window outside which the city awaited me, or would have awaited me if I were that type of guy or it that type of city. The city was doing, that city of people and their projects. About seven cyclists rode by self-righteously in competitive gear, stopping traffic, prompting HOONs, BEEPS and, of course, as this is The City and its people are so important, bird flippage and a dissonant chorus of fuck-yous interspersed with at least one “this isn’t fuckin’ Westchester!” The hot-dog man brazenly pitched his stand at 9 AM and hid his lower face behind a newspaper as he scouted for incredibly eager business. Business men, like my father, talked their way to work cellularly or otherwise.

Inside the dark-wood-paneled-and-floored, red-brick-faced affair, typists typed—soul-patched guy, eyes crimped behind heavy frames; hemp-hatted, moon-faced co-ed girl versus a daunting cup of plain oatmeal, the latter was clearly winning; guy who resembled the lecturer who made me fall in love with philosophy, the cupid of discourse I might say if I were desperate enough to quip. There was a sexy, exotic-looking mocha-skinned lady behind the counter that day. I’d never seen her. I took a shot.

How to go about this, I wondered? Was it different? No—that’s racist. Just be natural. Just go. Just do. Just man up.

So I went up to the counter and ordered another coffee.

“Hey, I’ll take my regular.” I thought that was funny.

“This is my first day. What are you having?” She said, deadpan.

Ouch! Strike one, or was she playing? I called ball one—I pitched too high (low?) and she didn’t swing.

“I’ll have a medium Costa Rican and a formal introduction, pretty lady.” Nailed it!

“Okay, one Costa Rican coming up and then you should leave.”

I’m not a ten. All things considered I’m probably an eight-and-a-half. They say a confident male seven can bag an unconfident female ten. What does that say about a confident male eight-and-a-half and a confident female nine-and-a-half? Any case, I was undeterred and, frankly, falling in love with every further bit of data I gathered about this precious beauty—every bit of evidence suggesting towering self-respect and –esteem; restraint and skepticism in matters of love; oh-so-endearing and oh-so-deadpan coyness; and, of course, the sight of her made me gaga.

“You’re right—I have to go to work. But I’ll be gentlemanly calling again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and so on. You’re a gem, lady, and now that I’ve discovered you I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to coax you out of your native mine. Have yourself a good first day.”

She overfilled my coffee cup. Nailed it!

Don’t Forget, Boy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2013 by JC

Tuck stopped. The hills rolled with no end in sight before and behind him. He’d been moving twelve hours and now the sun was about down. He didn’t care. He’d wittingly gone a path he couldn’t replicate and tried his best to ignore the sun all the way. He struggled to forget the date. How old am I? I know but no matter. To be free was to be lost now.

He was unfettered,  scrapped by the foreman–the formidable foreman who always stopped for  who? what? where? when? why? how?–hours ago. The only thing was: what now? Immediately, that is.  He was tired, but restless. His brain buzzed bzz bzz like the caricature of a dying television and his body promised “I’ll give out shortly!” in its ineffable ways. He naturally sat down Indian style in a trough between two crests and fished for an apple. Even a timeless man acts like he wants to live.

No apples left. Jerky–dried, salted umami–did fine.

First reading lesson at age four, out on the creaking-eeking porch: couldn’t make sense of the symbols on the page but he saw their beauty and wanted to know the rest. Grandpa lowly rumbled as he moved his finger across the page. “The fox, f-o-x, jumped over the fence.” said it, sung it,  tapped it with gravity. He picked it up quickly and deeply, and respected it because he respected beauty and he respected grandpa. Ma and pa were proud. Grandpa was so proud of and confident in the boy he fantasized about beating the hell out of him for it. He reckoned Tuck would take it at first like a child, ow ah stop, and then like a stone, a silent, stoic stone who knew what happened was right and reasonable. The boy was ready for a real education, having mastered letters. But the old man never really thrashed him. Ma and pa wouldn’t have sanctioned it.

Grandpa respected people insofar as they could handle the vicissitudes, the abuses of life. Must have been that frequent ah shit, that “Ohp, no corn this year; weather didn’t allow,” that kept him on the balls of his ass, his life. A lifetime of manual labor had rendered the elder’s hands raw at first and then rugged. Love, loss, and onward was just callous following abrasion. Hardening by abuse—life’s flames looming, swarming, testing, burning the fat, moving on—was tried-and-true; he suspected his son’s tender approach, flame retarding in his view, would foment nothing to write home about. Nonetheless, he respected his son and daughter-in-law for going through life and resumed a semblance of the parenting they’d started. He knew Tuck would encounter abuse organically but, sensing the boy’s precocity, grandpa yearned to share what he knew without delay so they could be men together; he didn’t have much time left, he thought, and he wanted to know this man. Restraint here, holding those hands back, would be the last iteration of grandpa’s method.

Dried, dead, nourishing flesh reminded Tuck that at seven death called when the farm’s failure was imminent; accustomed to multi-day fasts, he knew too well the processes wasting him now. Grandpa told him “Don’t waste this and don’t forget this.”  Tuck reluctantly internalized the old man’s old sentiment. His next meal was his best up to then. It was like that.

Still dully hungry, Tuck wrapped the leftovers in the tattered cloth grandpa had left for him and put it away. Seated still, he straightened his back and closed his eyes. The aural buzz, the bodily crying, softened and then stopped, along with his hunger.

He went on, stuffed with wisdom and just enough just-fine jerky.

10:47

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2013 by JC

The 10:47 train out of Rowayton huzzed past yuppie towns and small cities, sleepy and otherwise, in the crisp morning. On it was a sparsely bearded, comfortably caffeinated Wilson—hands clasped; feet curled under the seat; torso bent forward, nature calling from the front; the idyllic Redhead’s faintly fragrant hair, oh to have that again the idea of having that again made him boing, to have the olfactions—by his memory a flowery musk kissed by brine and a whiff of leather—again oh yes oh that boinged the man’s boinger like the bright jangles of the conductor’s keys. Anxiety waxed—Mullaly’s last performance, that double-orchiectomizing and admittedly incisive performance the eclipser. With the keys, the leather seat, the hissing and clicking of the train’s brakes, the boing, he stayed happy like twenty-five years ago when he knew Nana and Poppy’s warm, orange-tiled, wooden-panel-walled sunroom—furnished with a swiveling, orange leather chair, the inspirer of a unique and recurrent olfactory dream; the room welcomed the whish-whoosh of the dishwasher through wall-spanning inner windows and, from outside, a salty breeze bearing news of just-washed linens—he was elated like when he knew, in real time, these combined with the whole impression made by Nana’s shuffling gait, Poppy’s colorful library—seat of his passion, his favorite the bible—and their shiny metallic slot machine with red, blue, and green trim, revolving cherries and fez-clad monkeys playing chest-mounted bass drums, and on one side a lever that could prompt a pleasing chih-ih-ing and award coins whether the monkeys aligned or not.

“Welcome to One-hundred-and-twenty-fifth Street. Next stop: Grand Central.”

Wilson thought about getting off here to shorten his walk to the drop, but decided downtown would be better for now and, anyway, to get there nine hours early would be foolery. Still holding his water, he suffered another ten minutes en route.

TRAIN STOPPED, DOORS PNEUMATICALLY OPENED

“This is our last stop. Thank you for choosing Metro North!”

Wilson got off the train, pissed in the nearest restroom and took in the beauties of the station since he had the time. There were blondes, brunettes, and redheads; there was marble, iron, and brass; there were clocks and stores, booths and whores; people relating—playing games; a young German shepherd yawning, head jerking up and down a bit at the end, tips of his ears touching as his paws lightly clipped and clapped along the marble floor; everything a moving picture, combinations of moving pictures everywhere—entering and exiting, some passing along. Everything was coming, going, bygone. Nothing requited Wilson’s attention.

He finally left the station, and found himself fretting; strangely, it was around his marriage. He was worried that perhaps he wouldn’t be the one to end it, or that it would never end because neither he nor Molly would find a better alternative. He kept thinking about that bird-in-hand expression–did it apply to him? Was it better to hang his hat now since he seemed to have something of a guarantee in Molly, or should he take his chances on middle-aged-divorcee status? There was nothing horrible about the match, he thought; it had become tepid where it was once fiery, that’s all. He still respected her on some personal level, and had to concede she looked least reproachable for being tens of pounds heavy. Familiarity, though, had begotten the death of constant ardor, but sometimes he could still see the girl he couldn’t stay soft around—the girl frustratingly fine, insofar as she said no to his advances. She hadn’t said yes in years, and not for too few trials; he just kept insufficiently aware of changes in her preferences, and didn’t know how to recover that awareness—where to start looking; he could ask, true, but he learned in his younger years that verbal interview was not, at least then, the way to win her wetness; it always seemed up to luck. So aimless his thinking went for a while as he dazedly walked up, down and across the city; his net path just had to be northeast.

“Are you Jimbo?” Asked a smoky voice somewhere in the sixties on the east side of Lexington.

“No.” Wilson said plainly.

“You look and walk like Jimbo. Come here a minute. I want to tell you a story.”

The voice belonged to a disheveled but subtly handsome older man, probably fifty-something, but by appearance sixty-something. The street has a way of accelerating lives. He had shaggy grey hair about fourteen inches long; thick, black eyebrows; a respectably full but tobacco-stained beard, and respectably straight but tobacco-stained teeth. Wilson followed him through the alleyway and they stopped at a concrete landing five, eight-inch-high-steps-up from the ground.

The man successfully put his blackened hand out for Wilson to shake.

“I’m Feeyohder. I like to tell what I know. Here’s something. There was a man, overwhelmed by the sad stagnation of his life. He did things, sure, but got nowhere. He worked in an office; some would call him a suit. He lived in Connecticut.”

“What happened?”

“One day, he realized that the easiest way to change things was to radically change himself. Know what I mean?”

“Not specifically, but yes.

“So, what he did was…I always have trouble getting this part out when I’m hungry…”

Wilson thought for a minute. Normally, he’d have just walked away, but this Feeyohder had him compelled. Maybe this investment would prove worthwhile.

“Okay. Here’s twenty.”

“Not what I meant, boy! Let’s have a meal.”

They stopped at a café and sat down.

They silently sat for about ten minutes, waiting for the food to arrive. Wilson studied Feeyohder’s face furtively; he was envious of all the man’s structural features, but at the same time couldn’t resent him for it. There was no eye contact during this time, during which Feeyohder seemed out-of-body.

“Here’s your egg sandwich, handsome! And here’s your oatmeal, sir.”

They ate for a bit, and then the older man continued.

“So, he had to change himself to move forward. No hobbies, no special skills, not a fuckin chance of making a unique, significant, lasting impression on paper. He could write, though, not so well at first but he wrote and wrote and wrote and read and read and read and he found moments. And assembled them best he could and submitted them.”

“What did he write about?”

“He had flashbacks to his childhood—mostly pleasant, vivid flashbacks. He became addicted to these visions and smells and sounds and associations, and thought that the more he wrote, the more he’d remember. It didn’t work that way. Once he ran out of childhood memories and combinations thereof, he presumed his creativity dried up. So he sat in his office, depressed again, doing nothing, until finally he got fired.”

“What happened next?”

“Died.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“What?”

“That’s what people say.”

“That guy is dead, I’m in his body. My only regret is that I should have quit first, and then started writing—living—in earnest. This life is an artist’s dream. I see a lot. I do a lot. Any timidity I have about approaching people is offset by the chance we’ll change each other. Just the other day, I tried the same thing that worked on you with some pastel-wearing, bellied gentleman and his response impressed me much.”

“What did he say?”

“All I remember is impressing upon him and then being impressed upon; the words were only a small part of a great whole, ineffably great.”

“Can I see some of your writing?”

“You have.”

“What?”

“We’re writing a story and storing our memoirs. What’s precious about this writing is we can’t fully appreciate its reach; I can’t know how it ramifies you, and you then the world, but I’m sure it does, and you do! The only thusness is that there is no eternal thusness; everything’s coming and going, becoming something new all the time.”

“That’s meaningless!”

“And how does that make you feel?”

Wilson couldn’t reply.

“Good; you keep thinking. You can pick up the check next time, friend, but not here. Our money isn’t accepted here. They appreciate our work.”

“Could you write your thesis down for me?”

“I did. You’re on the level, and I know what that looks like. Thank you for everything; you can’t know how much you’ve done for me. So long, Jimbo!”

“But what have I done for y…”

 

Feeyohder walked out and stormed jollily uptown.

Excerpted from the same novella as “His Pragm’ic Way.” Mullally is the thinker in that piece.

I Have a Fiver

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by JC

My name is Victor. I’m thirty-seven years old and have a balding, curly ponytail and a .5-inch gap between my front teeth. I like to wear a red, pleather jacket; tight, pleather pants; faux-Italian-leather boots; a gold chain and a sweat-stained wifebeater under the black, gold-paisley-printed, always-tucked-in-as-tightly-as-possible button down I purchased at Caldor in the summer of 1991. I drive a 1984 Pontiac Grand Prix and only use ribbed condoms. I moonlight as a bookie and daylight as a projector operator at my local adult theater.

I have a fiver.