Sunday, October 3, 2010

10thDotM: Softly-Spoken Bullets, Hardly-Spoken Lips

People rush in and out of glass doors that proclaim extended holiday hours and enormous markdowns. Windows rimmed with real snow showcase the wares of a desperate economy ringed with fake cotton fluffs as if people need to be reminded of the bitter chill.

Everyone is awash in the gray and black of winter garb. Some festoon their drab appearances with dollar store Santa hats and gaudy rhinestone reindeer. Their thick mittened hands are full of potentially unappreciated gifts they will continue to pay for well into the New Year.

The diner door swings wide, the busy district swallowing the fabricated sounds of small town diner warmth and congenial conversation. Her black hair blasts back from her olive face. She pulls her scarf close and hesitates for a moment before turning to her companion.

His gray hair and gray jacket camouflages him well into the teeming mass of people. He holds her hand briefly, whispers in her ear, then falls in step with the passing current of humanity.

She is momentarily swallowed by the tide, her red jacket remaining emblazoned in the mind’s eye as her only beacon of existence. She is unsure of her steps, hesitating several times before dedicating to a course of action.

She walks through the people and stops on the curb, rushing cars blowing her hair and clothes away from her, threatening to leave her naked and shivering before me as she was before. She grips her neckline so tightly that I see her knuckles whiten from effort.

Her skin is the flawless perfection you come to expect from opulence. Her mouth is smooth enough that you question whether she has truly ever felt pain or happiness. Her pristine brow is flat, smooth, untouched by age and worry.

Her lips are parted and I feel her mechanical, rhythmic strokes. She’s kneeling on the ground in front of me, expensive mascara staining her perfect cheeks. I cup her chin, feeling the choked sobs waging a war in her throat. I press hard, allowing her whimpers and tears to release me.

Her hand raises slowly, fingers spread wide against the explosions of air from the busy street. I focus on the counterfeit perfection of her face.

Breathe. Relax. Aim. Squeeze. Surprise.

She falls forward as in a slow motion movie sequence. She teeters like she has lost her balance. The city masses continue to ebb and flow around her. She quickly passes the point of balance and topples into the front of a well-timed bus, her secrets spread like a lurid advertisement for the city’s judgment. The carcass of their keeper is ground deep into the pavement and flung onto the hood of a bright yellow taxi.

I hold the hot casing in my hand, feeling its redemptive power, and begin to unfasten the silencer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, June 7, 2010

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Thursday, April 22, 2010

10th DotM: "Hounded"

"According to the police report, Mr. Sheridan, you brandished and fired a twenty-two caliber pistol in city limits."

"That's correct, Your Honor."

"Do you care to explain why, Mr. Sheridan?"

He offers a quick glance to the lawyer behind him. She nods, her tight bun making her face look like a bird's instead of a human's. He shifts his weight, the linking chain of the handcuffs catching the overhead light. For a moment, it almost looks like an expensive white gold watch chain.

"It rang too much, Your Honor."

"Excuse me?"

He clears his throat. The judge's white hair and blue eyes seem to float above the customary black gown. His gavel gleams.

"It rang too much, sir."

"You do realize you are on trial, Mr. Sheridan, and any clarification you can give could possibly save you jail time."

"Yes, sir."

"Start at the beginning and end at the uhh...."

The judge holds up a plastic evidence bag. Floating in front of his face, suspended in clear plastic, is a popular smart phone. The black serenity of the phone is pierced by a dime-sized hole with spider-web cracks radiating from it.


"My phone rang sixteen times before ten in the morning."

"You are mighty popular, Mr. Sheridan."

"No one really had anything to say. They just wanted to listen to me breath, I guess. Sir."

"And this is why you shot your phone?"

"No, sir. After the morning phone calls, I started getting messages on my chat service. But my chat service kept freezing on my phone or taking forever to open. By the time I could answer the first message, I'd have two more from two other people."

Chuckles from the other lawyer and the bailiff. His face flushes momentarily and he stares at the handcuffs on his wrists.

"When I had taken care of most of the people on messenger, people started calling my office phone. My cell phone had forwarded itself to my office phone."

"Did you set it up to do this, Mr. Sheridan?"

"A long time ago, Your Honor. Now it does it whenever it feels like it."

"So your phone keeps ringing all day, Mr. Sheridan."

"Yes, Sir. My phone is quiet all through lunch. I was waiting for a call about a client I've been fighting to keep. When I get back to my office, I have some voicemail. The client wanted to give me the chance to match another firm's offer. Since I had missed the call, he went with the other firm."

He drops his head, a defeated smile crossing his lips momentarily. He lifts his head, the gleam of the gavel catching his gaze.

"My friends started mass texting to set up the dinner to celebrate another friend's big promotion. I work downtown, so they wanted me to get a table at Vinelli's. When I got the table, the phone calls and texts started to let me know when people would be there and what they should bring and how late they were running..."

"The court understands, Mr. Sheridan. Please proceed."

"Dinner is interrupted by my phone. Drinks afterward are interrupted by my phone. I realized that everything I ever do is interrupted by my phone. Your Honor, I can't even crap without my phone beeping to tell me something 'important' or telling me of another message."

"So, why don't you just shut off your phone, Mr. Sheridan?"

"If I don't answer, Sir, it only gets worse. They call more often to tell me that they called. Or they leave voicemails to tell me about other voicemails they left and the instant messages I failed to respond to. My email is overflowing with reminders to listen to voicemails about voicemails about messages and voicemails."

"What happened next, Mr. Sheridan?"

"I took my phone out on my patio at my townhouse and shot it twice with the gun my father gave me for my birthday."

"Twice, Mr. Sheridan? There is only one bullet hole."

He shifts his weight again. The bailiff chuckles as the air cast makes a squeaking noise against the linoleum floor.

"The phone rang before I shot it and scared me. I missed the phone."

The judge turns his head, covering his laughter with a very fake coughing fit.

"Mr. Sheridan, some community service will do you good. No more brandishing weapons in public, even if the phone is asking for it. Try the blender next time. Its a much slower, legal death for electronics."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~e.e. cummings

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beguiled by Night -- 10th DotM

Our dormitory smells of death. The shells of great men sit on soiled, dirty mattresses with their once sharp minds engulfed by desperation. My bunkmate wheezes uncontrollably, his bony, sunken chest heaving under a thin dress shirt covered in his own bile. Talk circles about salvation and hope, rumors started in desperate hours by lost souls.

I pull my wool blanket tight around my shoulders. The bread in the pocket of my pants is hard. The crust crumbles slightly to my touch. I lick my fingers to gather as many of them as I can. I feel guilty for the few crumbs that rest on my tongue unable to quench the ceaseless burning in my stomach. Other bodies need these morsels more than mine do. Reluctantly, I pat the bread through the worn material of my trousers and turn toward the door.

Outside, a crowd has begun to form facing the guard’s dorm. The smell of roasted meat filters through the open door into the salivating crowd. I hang behind to allow the others to build a wall between the guards and I. The bread impatiently taps my thigh.

She comes through the door of the women’s dorm. She’s holding her dirty brown blanket with one hand close to her neck, allowing it to fall away like the capes of the aristocrats that used to walk the streets of our city back before the camps and ghettos. Back when we were still human.

She holds my gaze as she walks around to the back. Her hand lingers over her midsection for a moment, pushing the threadbare dress inward to meet her body. Her swell is growing despite her severe lack of nutrients. He will be a fighter. He will bring pride to the Jewish people, rising out of our darkest hour to see us to freedom.

Releasing her dress, she brings her fingers to her lips. My hand immediately shoots to the bread. I drop my head and slip the morsel into her waiting hand. Our fingers linger for a moment, giving expression to words that cannot be released.

He fills the doorway, a cacophony of voices and laughter pushing him down the stairs. His face hardens into hatred as he turns to face his waiting public. Everyone is standing still, straight, proud. He begins to yell intelligibly. I stare at the sweat lines on the neck of the man in front of me, listening intently for my name.

Familiar numbers with unfamiliar emphasis begin to pepper the crowd. The owner of the series ducks and runs to the dorm. Another guard confirms their identity. They are allowed to pass into the room to sleep for the night.

My wife is called and slips out of my peripheral vision into the darkness. More ghosts slip away into the dark holes that keep them until sun rises. I listen intently for my number. My concentration is met with the metallic lick of a revolver being cocked.

The gunshot tore the silence of the night into shards of laughter and heckling in German. His body made a slow, twisting fall to the ground. His face stared into the night sky with the wonder of a child. A woman is wailing, screaming, pleading. Without looking up the fleeing life of the man, the woman is silenced instantly with another deafening blow.

My son will come whether they let me live or not. He is strong. They can’t touch the strong.

The stars appear before I hear the sound. They’re spinning and dancing like a mobile above my head. The moon smiles like a fat man with a secret. I close my eyes and pray for good dreams.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Old dogs, like old shoes, are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well." - Bonnie Wilcox

Saturday, March 20, 2010

There's a light on in the attic.
Though the house is dark and shuttered.
I can see a flickerin' flutter,
And I know what it's about.
There's a light on in the attic.
I can see it from the outside,
And I know you're on the inside...lookin' out.

"Light in the Attic" - Shelf Silverstein

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Put yourself on view. It brings your talents to light. -- Baltasar Gracian