Consider the following to be fictionalized short stories based upon real-life interactions during the previous two weeks. Whilst on the road attending a couple of Advanced Placement seminars throughout New Mexico, the writing bug took hold – travel does that for me.
Enjoy these mad ramblings.
The lesbians at the pub are clearly on their first date.
“Have you seen Vikings,” asks the salad-eater.
“No,” replies the tomboy. “Only several episodes.”
They laugh, sharing the brilliant spark of a kindling relationship.
I finish my second pint – a dark and cloudy brew – before admiring the tranquil simplicity of my untouched water. Beer is made from water – why commit double jeopardy?
They continue to laugh over their mutual interests. “I think I’m actually attracted to Ragnar,” confesses Salad Eater. Tomboy laughs and asks her date if she’s really a lesbian.
They laugh some more over the absurdity of finding a man handsome.
Handsome never crossed their love-addled minds. Tomboy is too fixated on Salad Eater’s well-endowed chest to actually pay much mind to the many nuances of polyamorous types.
“They’ll be fucking in an hour,” I mutter to my now-empty pint. “Riding those tits off like it’s the last horse in town.”
The pint says nothing, merely agreeing in silence.
“When did dating become so difficult,” I spit. The pint doesn’t respond, no doubt my words lost upon their raucous laughter.
All about me are such people – those on awkward getting-to-know-you dates; the committed relationship types enjoying an evening out together; the group of friends nurturing unspoken feelings and sideways glances; the loner content to quaff inside and smoke out. A place for everyone.
“You and me,” I slur to Pint. “You and me are always around for one another.” I grasp Pint, admiring the beauty the last few drops of dark residue about the bottom makes when refracting what dim light there is. Tilting my head as far back as Nature allows, I savor her.
The pint says nothing.
The elderly Hispanic man – my roommate for the week – is having an intense shouting match in rapid fire Spanish whilst taking a shit in the communal toilet. I want to barge in and tell him his uncouth manners are ruining my sleep, but I don’t want to be rude.
I look up into the sky, watching the playful plumes of smoke dance upon their exhaled release. Silver chains against the barren sky.
Not a single star is visible; the harsh fluorescent light from a thousand burning bulbs has replaced them. The constant hum of dull electrical outworks has taken the place of the chittering of crickets, the countless steel and fauxdobe buildings blocking the horizon. Nature is no longer sporadic, but regulated to neat, ordered reservations with various warnings and threats:
KEEP OFF GRASS
$100 FINE FOR PICKING FLOWERS
Rather than serve as beacons of inspiration – like priceless artwork just out of reach – She has been reduced to a peculiar viewing novelty, like the imprisoned animals of a zoo, and robbed of all her luster.
My feet trudge across seemingly endless swatches of bubble gum-stained pavement. Here and there, an errant bike path adds to the concrete labyrinth – if the Minotaur existed, he too would be set apart for pedestrians to ignore upon their daily commutes. Pavement yields to gravel, the faintest shoots of the hardiest weeds pushing through despite being underfoot of a thousand complacent feet and even more eco-friendly bicycle activists. Tenacious as they are, the shifting flux of construction and renovation inch ever closer to their predetermined demise.
I stop and ponder the cracked and decayed state of an ill-used tennis court, watching as my corrupted breath wafts along the way. Here, in the dead of night, the courts are brilliantly illuminated, in case any drone wishes to enjoy a sparring match at such an hour. Here, too, the hum of false light – sad mockeries of the cosmos – permeates the air. There is no end to this artificial world, neither up nor down, left nor right. The scars are simply too numerous and the bandages too few.
My cigarette burns out between pursed lips, the dying ember only stoking my disgust. The last trails of smoke lift lazily, impotent and ignorant of the world about.
I am merely adding to the toxicity.
As I make my way back to my lodgings, a cottontail emerges from the imported bushes, clearly ignoring the posted signs about proper grass etiquette. He looks at me with his bulbous eyes, as if to ask what it is I’m doing out here at this hour. His face remains fixed in that stupid gaze, a four-legged beast amidst two-legged brutes.
“Scram,” I shout, hurling my butt toward him. It sails past his twitching ears, landing with an imperceptible thud on the concrete beyond. Unperturbed, the rabbit shakes his tail, and turning, lopes off into the night. I watch him meld into an exotic, non-native bush before resuming my steps. I retrieve the spent butt, clenching it tight in balled fist until I am able to find a trash can.
The night sky remains starless, and the city devoid of Life.
The Greatest Generation
Several elderly sit adjacent to me, cackling about this and that, bringing the volume in this pacific place to a level they’d chastise youth about. A Hispanic man (with an accent the sound of thick bread) joins them. His throaty, croaking laughter acts the baritone.
They speak of friends and lament the fact this place doesn’t carry margarine. A portly, bearded man abruptly stands up, accuses the teenage waitress of ignoring his constant demands for margarine lest he never dine here again. “I’ve been coming here for years,” he burbles through folds of chin fat, “and I’ve always requested margarine.” She apologizes for the inconvenience of this self-centered fat fuck and assures him she’ll put in a call to Jake – the general manager – about getting margarine stocked. He nods curtly, dismisses her with a wave of a hand like some sort of aloof aristocrat, then turns. He leaves to purchase margarine. To purchase margarine lest his equally portly and misguided wife – who’s apparently the root cause of all this being lactose intolerant – go without synthetic butter for a single meal.
It’s just a baked potato.
They continue to chatter and cackle, like old hens and honking geese, seemingly not minding their dining comrade acted a right proper twat over a condiment. They bring up mutual friends, catching the latest gossip so they can “Ooh” and “Ah!” at the appropriate times.
“What’s her…como se llama?” asks a gray-haired woman – Ruth, we learn; as if having a Hispanic person at the table necessitates practicing basic Spanish when the conversation is clearly in English. Over my pint, I suspect her to be one of those people afraid of misappropriating someone else’s culture, horrified at being called a racist, and does her best to not act white.
Her turquoise headband indicates otherwise. I finish my pint.
The fat butter bastard returns, chiming in that it is about “cinco o’clock.” He has a tub of margarine. He beams with pride at his portly wife who thanks him for being a hero and saving the meal. If only Christ had offered Judas margarine, perhaps the Passion could have been avoided.
“Cut my food for me,” insists blue-haired Carol. “I have a fake hand.” She was managing just well without the fishing for attention; suddenly she’s an invalid and in need of assistance. I, nor the beleaguered waitress, would not have noticed had Carol not drawn coy sympathy toward it. It melds perfectly with her flesh tone – ashy white, the color of old tortillas – and even crudely holds a knife. Purely for show. Purely for attention.
These are the very same people who bemoan the state of the world and lament the youth of today, yet do not realize – being grandparents – every problem, and not a single solution, can be laid at their soon-to-be gravestones.
Breaking Down to Build Up
I’m sitting in a worn bed, cigarette dangling from parched lips – the kind a six-pack can’t even quench – with clouds of stale smoke filling the already noxious room. Cans are strewn about – PBR; drinking piss on a budget. The Jeep languishes at the body shop across the street, yet another mechanical failure for Old Reliable, and one no amount of preventative maintenance could have stopped – changing fluids on the reg is one thing, but replacing parts on a third-hand model is another entirely.
Luckily (depending on your perspective) this hovel of a hotel had rooms available (smoking, no less) and it’s right across the street. With a “fuck it,” on my lips, I had sauntered over, rented me a two-bit room, found the nearest liquor store, and went to town writing.
All you need are instruments of your craft to turn a stereotypically bad day into one worth living. Having a shit with smoke in one hand, book in the other, and a beer within reach – the simplicity of Life distilled into a draught that few have tried and fewer still understand. Most people only shit – are shit – and never wake up from it.
“Having a shit,” I hear people read aloud, unsure if their eyes, ears, or minds have betrayed them.
Yes, “having a shit” is exactly what I mean – something different, yet familiar – when it comes to feeling alive. Sitting in this worn bed – no doubt covered in countless couples’ love stains, the kind where you fuck as if no one is watching, or if everyone is watching; that ball-wracking, sweat-fueled smashing we’ve all experienced, where you imagine (during banal sex) you’re recreating it, reliving such glorious horizontal homages to the Almighty – oh! oh! oh! – that I cannot help but feel content with circumstance.
Fate, miserable bitch, brought me here, and Fate, dreadful cunt, laid my bed barren tonight.
But not my lungs. Not my gut. Not my hand that spills bloody ink – the black, bloody ink of my pounding heart.
All because my vehicle broke down, casting me into materialistic decline, yet self-driven, solitary happiness. “What the fuck is he writing about,” I hear the vapid masses say to their brilliant, dead screens.
It isn’t for you – it never was – yet here you are. Here we are. Alive on the page the way only killing yourself to live can do.
Go. Go have a shit and admire the beauty around you – in everything – and fuck like everyone is watching. Because they are – so fuck them too.