Thursday, October 21, 2010

Confessions (part 4)

Mr. M-'s second confession came five years after I married Jill. After dinner one night, in the same room he had offered me a place in his family, he told me how he was the one that sent Jill into the shop, the day that I met her. She was a friend of his wife, who had been through some rough times. He had wanted to make sure I was taken care of, and her as well, so he had suggested to her, one night over dinner, that she meet me. Tightening my eyes, I contemplated his words.

"If you want, we can get rid of her."

"No sir," I exhale as if punched in the stomach, "She is one of the best things that have ever happened to me. I should be thanking you, I just wonder why you felt the need to tell me."

"You have done well for me, and I don't want there to be anything between us unsaid."

"Yes, sir," I answered, taken aback by the brief intimacy he displayed.

Taking my hand in a firm grip, he smiled. There was a quiet intensity in his eyes as we held that moment, then releasing, he led me back to the ladies. He never mentioned it again and I have never told Jill that I know. We all have our secrets and mine were beginning to pile up.

Circling the hospital, to ensure no concerned motorist has found me, I glide the van into a space behind a shipping container in the back of the parking lot, nose to nose with a large black SUV. I leave everything on the seats, exiting the van. As I walk toward the SUV two men exit from the back seat and pass me, vigorously shaking cans of spray paint. As I stand in the shadow of the open door, I hear the hiss of paint escaping onto the van.

On the seat I find a small pile of freshly pressed clothes, a package of Twinkies and a disposable cell phone. Removing everything I am wearing, the hairs on my body stand erect in the cool of the night. I stuff the soiled garments and shoes into a bag, dressing in the new attire. One of the painters returns, taking the bag. They will dispose of them, along with the van.

Sliding into the back seat, I close the door and feel the vehicle begin to move. I open the cellophane wrapping the Twinkies. Pushing my teeth through the cake into the sweet center sends waves of refreshment rippling outward from my mouth. This is a ritual after each assignment for me, each bite cleansing me of the taste of what I just completed. I relish each moment and as I swallow the last bite, the phone rings.

"Yes sir"

"Thank you sir."

"My family would be pleased to join you for a cruise to celebrate the success of the shop. I will make arrangements and we will be ready to go tomorrow evening."

Thumbing the phone closed, I look out at the lights of the city as we retreat from her. The police will have found the body in the parking garage by now, my car will have to stay overnight. I tell the driver just to drop me at my house and though he never answers, I know he understands.

I have no remorse for the things that I have done, not that I take perverse pleasure in it either. I calculate the angles, work out all the details, then execute. It is just business. It always has been.

Jill will be ecstatic when I tell her about the cruise. I will tell her that Mr. M- is pleased with the profitability of the shop and wanted to reward the good performance. She will be proud of me and I imagine our evening will be one of sensual gratitude. Mr. M- is happy. Jill is happy. I am happy.

Jill's skin smells like lavender when she meets me at the door. I bury my face in the crook of her neck as we embrace. She asks why the driver brought me home and I tell her briefly about some accident at the parking garage. I did not get close enough to see it. I feel her stiffen in concern, so I deftly change subjects letting her know about the cruise. I was right, she is ecstatic, fawning over me as we enter the house.

"Are the boys in bed?" I ask, separating myself from her to find something to drink in the refrigerator.

The weight punches me just below the right shoulder blade, spinning me into the island in the center of the kitchen. Pain lances my body as I crumple to the floor, struggling to breathe. A red dot forms on my shirt, spreading like a virus, and I realise I have been shot.

My thoughts swim, confusion. The tile floor is cool on my skin and I want to melt into it. She crouches in front of me, placing a hand on my arm, keeping me here.

"The kids are at Uncle M-'s house, so you need not worry. You were sloppy tonight, dear. In the garage. You don't even know who you killed do you? When Uncle M- got the call from my brother, he was not happy."

"Whu..." I can't muster words, just a weak moan.

The details that are usually my strength have become my undoing. Wet copper fills my mouth and I see the long black tunnel at the end of the gun coming toward me. Her last kiss as the world goes white.

Shadows break the white, becoming people. No they are angels, come to take me. I am heavy and nothing. As they draw closer I realise they are not angels, but dogs. Dogs come to take my last confession or to beat it out of me. They smell like piss. I am back in the trailer park, and Stumpy is smiling at me with a crooked tooth grin.

"Hiya Runt. Did you think you could get away from me?" ichor spills from his mouth with the hiss of the words.

Behind them, their new master stands silent, except the muffled ring of a cell phone from inside of her grotesquely large body. She points and they are on me.

When I feel their hands tear at my body, I scream.

Confessions (part 3)

Sliding in the drivers side of the van, I adjust the seat, which is at maximum settings to handle her body. I place the leather bag on the passenger seat, taking a few things out for easy access. Her floorboard is covering in candy wrappers, leaving no question how she came to be as large as she was. Empty soda bottles roll through them making clattering rustling noises as I pull out of the parking garage, heading south toward the interstate.

Salsa music pours out of the speakers, which gives me a chuckle envisioning her dancing. I scan the stations, settling when I hear the hard riffs of a classic rock song. My gloved fingers play on the steering wheel building and destroying ridges of blood that are left behind. Pressing the control, the window lowers, allowing the cool night air to massage my face. I need to clear my head and prepare.

Her van has surprising power for a van. The Stow-and-Go seating is a nice touch as well, giving the ability to carry large loads, but I won't need that tonight. It would give plenty of room for taking my boys to their soccer games or maybe carrying the team to a victory dinner at the pizza place. Better to not get too attached, it will all be spare parts by morning.

Traffic slowly dwindles the closer I get to downtown until the streets are near empty. Not many feel comfortable enough to travel into this part of the city after dark. Unless they are going to the hospital.

It was at dinner, one night, that I realised I was not just a shoe salesman for Mr. M-. Recently, I had decided it was time to ask Jill to marry me. Mr. M- wanted to meet her before I proposed, so he had invited us to dinner with his wife at their house.

"We are going to be late. Can't you go a little faster?" she chided, knowing from my stories about Mr. M- that he did not like to be left waiting.

"We have plenty of time honey. Relax a bit. You look fabulous. Mr. M- is like a father to me. I am sure he will like you," I reassured her knowing she was just nervous.

As we pulled up to the gate, a man in a suit stepped out of a door built into the wall. Noticing who it was, he turned, without a word and opened the gate. Proceeding onto the driveway, we rounded a slight turn around a copse of trees and the house came into. It was the largest house I had ever seen, all the windows glittering like jewels. Jill was speechless.

We were escorted from the car by two men in suits and Jill's apprehension gave was as we were treated like royalty to and incredible meal in the grand ball room. Jill and Mrs. M-, who looked to be her same age, about twenty years or so younger than Mr. M-, settled into comfortable conversation and Mr. M- beckoned me to join him in the Smokers Room, for an after dinner drink.

His sharp eyes pierced me over the rim of his glass, "So you like this girl?"

"Yes Sir."

"She is quite beautiful and you can tell she adores you. Marriage is a big step."

"Yes Sir. As you know, I don't know my real father and I was hoping that you would stand in for me."

I watched him contemplate the request, then he answered, "I would be honored."

My cheeks burned in the smile as we shook hands. Placing his glass on a table, he beckoned me to a tall backed leather chair.

"Before you make this decision, there is something we must talk about. I have watched you now for a few years managing the store and I think you have a lot of potential. I need a man with your attention to detail. What I am about to ask you, I do not do so lightly. You are like a son to me, and now I want to make that a reality..."

Blue lights fill the mirror and I decelerate, pulling to the side of the highway. My heart jumps with what this means, but I calm myself knowing the importance. I make out the silhouette of one officer in the patrol car behind me. Good, just one to deal with, so I can get to the hospital.

Reaching across the vehicle as if reaching for my registration, I take what I need from the passenger seat. Removing the left glove, I squeeze it letting blood cover my palm, then dangle it out the window as the officer approaches.

"Officer...on my way to the hospital...bleeding bad...please help..." I say, my voice weak.

Stepping forward to get a better view, he never sees the gun until the first bullet enters the corner of his eye, pealing back the bridge of his nose. The second catches him in the cheek, sending him spilling backwards to the pavement. I imagine the dispatcher, frantically calling for back up on the radio, having watched it all through the patrol cars dashboard camera. Thoughts of her fear excite me.

I retrieve a plastic bag from the passenger seat. Holding it out the window, the urinal cake from the bathroom at the shop falls through its lips landing on the uniformed chest of the officer, slipping to the crook of his arm. Excess piss and water drips after as I crumple the bag, pulling it back into the car.

The cops will get the message, and while there will be retribution, they will understand you don't piss off the wrong people, by messing in their business.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Confessions (part 2)

The silver bells on the door jangle, signifying a customer. Wiping the last semblance of dinner from the counter with a cloth, I smile at her fleshy face. Hers is more a smirk, crushed between cheeks that have enjoyed many a meal.

"I need a pair of shoes to make this dress look good," he voice more demanding than a simple request.

Her dress will need more than I can give, but I humbly respond, "Of course madam. I think we have just the ones to accent you beauty."

She brightens a bit, following me toward the back of the shop, where we keep the shoes for one of her girth. The wood creaks as she settles into a chair, her well worn flats clattering to the ground as she kicks them off, allowing her feet to sigh. I do my best to keep my dinner in its place.

Showing her several shoes, she sends me back to the shelf repeatedly, not happy with my selections. Finally settling on a pair, she extends her foot, expecting me to place the shoes for her viewing. Lowering myself to my knees in front of her, I am unwrapping them when her cell phone rings and she begins talking outlandishly to whoever happen to be on the other side. Her voice whines loudly and I wince in displeasure.

Taking her foot in my hand, dry pads catch on my fingers, prickling my disgust. One shoe in place, I display it for her approval, but she is lost in her conversation, paying me little attention. The odor, the texture, he voice all work together to crumble me and I envision ways I could use the cell phone to rid me of her presence. Ghastly thoughts. Gruesome. They make me feel slightly better, until she extends the other foot.

She walks down the aisle, still talking, getting a feel for the shoes and I nod, placating her, wanting her out of the shop. I gush over her, but it is all for naught as she shakes her head, forcing her feet back into the shoes she came with, heading for the door. Watching her leave, I smile, then turn to go wash my hands, though I wish I could wash my body.

My big break came from a surprising benefactor. I was working in a shoe store at the mall. A rather dreadful place, though I did not know it at the time. I was not used to much, so having a job meant existing. I was on my own at this point, returning home one night to find the trailer empty. A note on the counter explained she had shot my father during one of the trysts and was now living with another friend.

While the shoe store was not much, I worked diligently to impress and that is what Mr. M- noticed. He was flustered as he entered the store attired elegantly in black suit, with black striping. Two men were with him, moving quickly to keep up with him. They never said anything, just stood to either side of him, surveying the store. Their stature said enough.

He said he was traveling and was on his way to an important meeting. The shoes he was wearing were scuffed. Some business transaction having gone awry. That it just the way he said it, "business", and for some reason it stuck with me. He carried an air of someone important.

I could tell he was not used to being in a place so far below his standards and I made every effort to make him feel comfortable. My attention was his, despite the mewling families looking for shoes for school with the faces of characters. I escorted him to a corner of the shop away from the commotion and begged his pardon while I cleared the shop.

Most customers left the shop willingly as I shooed them out, but one barrel chested man, there with his two kids decided to stand his ground. He stood toe to toe with me, thrusting his chest out like a rooster, spittle sprinkling my face as he berated me. Obvious by their smiles, the kids were used to their dad bullying his way. When his finger poked my chest something inside me snapped, I smelled the urine, felt my arms tighten.

Sweeping my arm, my fingers wrapped his wrist, cranking his arm behind his back and propelling him forward, head first into one of the shelves. Boxes of shoes fell heavy from their perches, pummeling him, his children's eyes growing large. As he struggled to release himself from the pile, I crouched and in a cold even voice told him to leave once more. His eyes cut from me to the men seated in the back, now watching him intently.

As I pulled the barricade down, closing off the entrance behind the embarrassed man and his family, I knew this would probably be the termination of my employment with the shoe store, but I was determined to make one last impression. Returning to the suited men, I apologized for the display of aggression, which they waved off and within a half an hour, Mr. M- settled on a pair of our most expensive shoes in the store.

He placed his old shoes in the box, handing them to one of the men, ordering him to dispose of them. I offered to take them, but was told that was not necessary. The second man paid for the shoes, while Mr. M- walked back and forth letting his feet settle into their new homes.

"Kid. I like you. You got class," Mr. M-'s words swelled me with pride, which I think he saw as well.

Surprisingly, the man I had assaulted that evening never called my manager. Two weeks later, a man came into the shoe store and offered me a management position at a new shoe store opening in an open air mall that was just being constructed in a more affluent part of town. This is how I came to work for Mr. M-.

Returning from the bathroom, toweling the excess water on a cotton hand towel, I hear the phone ringing. Hurrying across the shop, I answer, "Good evening, M & Sons, how may I assist you?"

It is Mr. M-

"Yes sir."

"Yes sir."

"I will close up right away."

"The hospital."

"Yes sir, goodnight."

Flipping the sign on the door to closed, I turn the lock driving the bolt into the jam. Drawing a curtain across the windows, I proceed through the aisles to the door that leads to the back room. I retrieve a small leather carry bag, one a man might use for shaving, and a pair of gloves. There are a few other things I will need, to honor Mr. M-'s request.

The shop was crowded with affluent families, shopping for school, checking out the new mall and all the stores, when she walked in. I was busy helping customers, flitting here and there, making sure everyone knew where to find what they were looking for and did not notice her at first. After a while, I saw her moving up and down the aisles in the background, periodically cutting her dark eyes at me.

She was beautiful and I was charmed at the attention, but had little time to spare and expected her to be gone by the time I finished with the other customers. One after another I helped them make their purchases and seeing the last one out the door I settled on the stool behind the counter for a moment to catch my breath.

She surprised me, stepping from behind one of the end caps, her raven hair fluttering with the movement, stealing the breath I had been seeking. Slowly she cross the floor, her lips curling into a smile and when she asked for help finding a particular shoe, I decided inwardly that I would do anything she asked of me.

Her leg was silk as I held it to slip on the pair of heels she selected. I looked to her for approval and though I meant to ask her how it felt, I asked her if she would like to have lunch with me. She laughed, not an ugly laugh, but inviting as she said, "Yes, I would. By the way, my name is Jill."

Lunch led to dinner, later that evening. Jill had been married once before, a short lived affair with a man that was everything to her, until he broke her heart and slept with another. The last year had been a time of healing, of putting the pieces of her life back together. Some friends had encouraged her, at dinner, just a few nights ago to start dating again.

A few months later, we moved in together. I could not believe that someone so incredible could fall for one like me, but I was not going to complain. Jill was the best friend, I never had, and a voracious lover. After making love, some nights, she would cry as I held her.

We shared an affinity for the outdoors and would take long walks in the park, our fingers entwined, conversing about our lives, our future. I felt I could tell her anything.

Love had found me and there was no way I was ever letting go.

Exiting the shop through the back door, I turn in the direction of the parking garage to the east side of the shops, walking hastily in the shadows of the building. There is no one else in the back lot to impede my movements and I arrive at the structure to see the obese woman from the shop making her way down the line of cars. Her flats scruff on the concrete as she drags one foot in front of the other, drowning out the soft clicks of my foot steps.

Most of the cars are moving up the ramp to higher levels, but she has parked on the lower level, easier walking on her already overburdened legs. Arriving at her van, a Chrysler Town and Country, she slips between it and the small sports car in the adjacent spot. She has not noticed me when he phone rings once more and retrieving it from her purse, she puts it her her head again.

She is surprised when my hard fingers crush hers against the phone, keeping her from answering. I use that moment of shock to drive my knee into her ample stomach forcing a sharp intake of breath. Twisting the phone from her grasp, I release the cover from the battery compartment, driving its tapered edge into the flesh of her throat, wrenching it across. Her hands instinctively grasp the parted flesh, her breath a wet wheeze from the force of the blow.

Retrieving an injector from my pocket I press it to the tender spot at the base of her skull and thumb the button. She convulses, her body rippling in waves, and I wait for her to stop before placing the phone somewhere that I think will surprise the coroner when he does the autopsy. I can see the confused look on his face and would love to be a fly on the wall.

Some people just need to know when to stop talking.

(to be continued)

Confessions (part 1)

The biscuit is light in my hands, as I ponder it and all the bacteria that travel its face. Its like holding a small world in my fingers. I know most people don't think about the small things that eat away at our food before it ever gets to our mouths, but I am not most people. Perhaps this is how God feels, I think, as my teeth push through the brief tension taking a bite.

It is not often I get this respite. Customers coming and going, wanting just the right shoe to accent their outfit, to make them taller, make their foot skinnier. The right accoutrement can make the outfit, can make the person feel beyond themselves and their station. I never fancied myself a shoe salesman, but it has afforded me much.

Looking out the window, I watch people scurrying here and there. Many are heading to restaurants for dinner. A family walks by, hand in hand, two boys bouncing playfully between the outstretched arms of their parents. It aches my hearts to see such love.

My early life can be summed up in three words. Poor white trash. I am an aberrant son of the trailer park on the west side of a small town, where I lived with my mother. I never met my dad, but I figure he had to be a scarecrow of a man, long lanky limbs with barely enough skin to cover the bones. That is what he gave me, all he ever gave me. Needless to say, I was a runt which made me an easy target for the dogs that roamed the cut throughs between trailers.

Their leader was a twelve year old boy named James. James was crude and had the muscle to back his mouth. He also had a willingness to do just about anything to make sure other kids knew who held the reigns. His crew consisted of three boys; Bob, his thirteen year old enforcer, Mikey, another twelve year old that spent a year in detention and Sam, his ten year old brother. Together they made life hell.

My mother never saw it as she rarely left the trailer, working out of her bedroom on Friday nights, expecting me to stay out playing until the trailer stopped rocking and headlights no longer cycled into our parking spot. I often wondered if one of these men was my father. Some weekends I just curled up by a tree in the scant strip of woods, too tired to wait until mom was done, and wondered if he took the time to look at my picture on the mantle before stealing a bit more of her from me.

One of those nights, shortly after my tenth birthday, changed my life. I lay next to a tree, when I noticed the dogs had captured their prey for the night. They were dragging Billy, a nine year old they had been hustling for his lunch money, every day at the bus stop the last year, behind a trailer to teach him a lesson. I heard their hushed words and the sharp exhalation as the first blow caught Billy in the stomach. I knew how that felt.

Fist after fist pounded him, each one leaving a stinging memory on my own skin. Before the thought crossed my mind, I had a rock in my hand and let it fly at the mass of shadows. I had a pretty decent arm for my age and was a starter for our little league team, so when I heard the squeal pierce the night, I knew I had wounded someone. I did not wait to see who it was, I just ran.

They caught me in the shadows between two trailers, looking for a place to hide. Their fists felt like hammer blows. I lost count after they went into double digits and let gravity do its job pulling me to the earth. Copper filled my mouth, creating bubbles with every exhale. That was not good enough for James.

His cohorts uncurled me, flat on the ground and James sat on my chest, pinning my arms. My eyes were already swelling shut but I heard the jangle of his belt coming loose and the growl of his zipper descending. Fear squirmed into my bowels at what was coming next.

"You stupid fuck! No one, no one, fucks with us! You got that?"

I felt the heat of his groin again my face, then hot piss streamed up my nose. Gagging I opened my mouth to inhale and he laughed taking the new target with glee. My eyes burned as I choked, death's cool hand touching my forehead, under a steaming barrage of acidic urine. Survival was my only thought, and when my teeth tore through his cock, severing a good portion of meat, James launched off of me.

He rolled in the dirt, blood spurting through the fingers that tried to hold himself together. The rest of the crew stood frozen in shock as I rose to my feet. I spit the lump of flesh at his writhing form and listened to their footsteps retreating, leaving their wounded behind. Cowards.

With that much damage, it was not a secret that could be kept, so the authorities were called. They tried to blame me, but when the question was asked about how his member came to be close enough for me to bite, they caved. One after another recanted their statements, leaving James standing alone.

James ended up in the detention center, along with a new moniker, 'Stumpy', which I am sure did wonders for his reputation among the other inmates. Often, under the trees on Friday nights, I would think of his as their whipping boy and smile at that promise in the stars.

I got a counselor to evaluate me for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He was a nice man, taking me out to do therapeutic activities, giving me small glimpses of life outside of the trailer park. Three months later, he diagnosed me as healthy and stable and for the next six years, I worked my ass off to get out of that park.

(to be continued...)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Softly-Spoken Bullets; Hardly-Spoken Lips

The sinkhole began in the center of town, unnoticed by most of the 153 inhabitants of Burville, who were watching the little league game at the ball field just outside of town. Jimmy Thompson had just smacked a long fly ball into right field when,on Main Street, a loud crack pierced the air, rousing Tom Godwin from the X-men comic book he was reading on his bed in the second floor apartment above his fathers shop. Tossing the comic book across the rumpled comforter, he moved to the window.

Tom watched as a spiderweb of cracks raced from the yellow center line that bisected the only road that ran though town. Growling, like the grind of a thousand teeth, it approached the sidewalks on either side of the asphalt. When the noise stopped suddenly, he heard the pounding of his heart thundering in his ears. Exhaling sharply, he sighed and great chunks of gave way, sucked into a dark abyss below.

Dogs began to howl in the distance, as if they knew what had happened, what was coming. Tom watch a streak of white fur rush up the street. Mr. Fitzmeir's poodle. It stopped five feet from the hole, yapping and growling. Fearing the dog may fall in if the jagged edges expanded further, Tom slipped on his shoes and began clomping down the wooden stairs to retrieve it, but the yapping ended in a wet gurgle when he was halfway down.

Curious, and somewhat afraid, Tom turned and raced back up the stairs to look out the window again. There was no sign of the poodle, but along one of the edges there was a crimson scuff, as if something had been dragged, bleeding. As he watched, another few feet of road gave way taking what he believed to be the last little bits of the poodle with it. Hot urine ran down his leg into his shoe, matting his jeans to his leg.

Pete Hammond, shook with a start when the dogs started howling, the flashlight on his gun belt jangling against the keys in his pocket. He was at the game providing security, making the townsfolk feel safe, and make sure no one got too bent out of shape when their little one got called out. This was the most excitement the sheriff of Burville had each week. Sure there was the occasional tractor trailer trying to cut through their town to avoid the scales on the interstate, but mostly keeping the peace was a pretty easy job in a town so small. He watched Otis Fitzmeir's poodle shoot like a rocket from his resting spot beneath the fold out chair towards town, furthering his unease.

"Keep your seat Otis! I am going to run into town anyway, I need to check on a fax," he lied, not wanting to incite others to something that may be nothing.

Sliding into the drivers seat of his patrol car, he waved at Dan Godwin, the owner of the art gallery in town. Dan and his son had moved to Burville about a year ago from somewhere out west. He was running from the memories of his wife who had been killed during a burglary in their home, dragging his son in tow. Tom, the son, didn't talk. Evidently he had been the one to find his mom and the scream he let out when he did was the last thing anyone ever heard from him.

When Dan opened the shop, the people of Burville had flocked to his door curious about what they had never seen in the small town. The artwork was dark, matching his mood, but after a visit by the leader of the Ladies Auxiliary he had started carrying a much lighter, happier stock of art. Pete chuckled, he had his own run-ins with the Ladies Auxiliary over the years. They sure had a way of setting men straight.

Once he was out of the gravel parking lot and on the road, Pete gunned the engine, covering the mile into town in seconds. He almost did not see the gaping hole in Main Street in time and left smoking black streaks where his tires dragged to halt. For a minute he sat there, staring, his mind clicking off the things that would need to be done. This was the only road through town. How was he going to get all the people at the baseball game back to their homes on the other end of town?

His eyes caught a slight movement in one of the shops and he noticed Tom standing in window on the second floor of their shop. Perhaps the boy saw what happened, if only he would talk. Flipping on the light bar, so no one else would drive up on him without noticing the hole, Pete stepped out of his vehicle, adjusting his belt. He took the flashlight from its loop in case he needed it. Shoes skritching on loose pebbles, he approached the hole, realizing it was a good twenty feet across an stretching sidewalk to sidewalk.

"Anyone down there?" he yelled, hoping not. He really did not want to have to crawl down there.

He peered into the darkness of the hole, unable to see the bottom. The walls of the hole were rugged but had form, as if someone had bored up from below. A perfectly round hole. He barely had time to register what was happened as his head was engulfed in something warm and wet. The last thing he felt was his feet leaving the ground.

Tom watched from the window as the Sheriff was pulled into the hole. He saw it this time. He did not know what it was, but he saw it. He began to tremor, then shake, but he could not look away.

The Barons beat the Braves, 9-6, and for the most part parents were civil as they collected their kids and shuffled them into minivans. Those without kids milled around talking to neighbors, catching up on the gossip for the week. Secrets were not kept long in small towns, your business became common knowledge soon enough. Not that anyone would talk to you about it face to face.

The families were the first to arrive in town, stopping in a long line behind the yellow and blue flashing lights of the patrol car. The men left their wives to tend to the kids, who were complaining about being hungry, to go investigate. A steady stream of concerned neighbors flowed by the line cars, on foot, to see what the hold up was. A few wives honked their horns, slowly losing their sanity to the bickering of the kids. Eventually they became exasperated enough to drag the screaming kids forward to find their fathers.

Tom watched them all from the window, one by one, then in small groups falling prey to the thing in the pit. It crushed their bodies in great pulpy masses before dragging them in with it. He wanted to scream, to tell them to stop, but he couldn't. He just watched, his eyes bleeding rivers of tears down his face. Stop! Stop! Stop!, his heart beat.

Tom heard the back door to the shop below rattle, then glass breaking, tinkling on the floor. The door banged against the wall, as is swung all the way open. Then footsteps took the stairs.

"Tom! Tom!," he heard his father's voice behind him, searching for him.

He felt his father enter the room, "Tom, my god, what is...," he stammered out of breath.

His father's hands grabbed him roughly, turning his from the window, pulling him into a hug, "God, you are okay. I thought..."

Over his son's shoulder, Dan saw it emerge from the hole. It sweeped a group of women and children into a tangled mass, smashing them into the storefront of a building across the street. Blood ran like wet spray paint down the brick. He screamed, "Oh God...holy shit...what the fuck is that?"

Leaving his son standing, Dan ran to his bedside table, ripping the top drawer out. It fell from his fingers to the floor, spilling contents under the edge of the bed. Dan snaked his arm under the edge of the bed, groping until his fingers felt the handle of his gun. Popping the clip he counted his shots, before banging it back into place and chambered a round.

"We are safe, we are going to be safe. It does not know we are here. I will protect us. It won't get us...," Dan was yammering, to the back of his son, now turned to the window, to watch once more.

"Oh hell! I left the door open! Be right back, don't move!," Dan yelled over his shoulder, rushing down the stairs to beat his nightmare thoughts to the open door. Slamming it closes, he pulled down a cabinet of smaller pieces of artwork. The crash was deafening and he hoped it did not draw the attention of the thing outside. He watched it writhe through he large front window, a great mass of pink fleshy tentacles. Tongues. It reminded him of the color of tongues.

One smashed through the window, sending glass shrapnel flying into the shop, knocking over easels. Dan fired blindly as he ran for the stairs. He may have hit it, he had no idea as he scrambled up the stairs. He could hear it thumping against the walls, furniture screeching, wood splintering. It was coming.

This time, when his father came spilling into the room, Tom turned to look at him. His father was sweating profusely, hair matted to his head, babbling incoherent. There eyes locked and there was a wildness in his father's eyes. They pleaded with Tom. To speak.

Releasing the clip, his father checked the clip again. "Oh god! Shit! We only have one bullet left son," his voice shook.

"... kill my mother...," Tom's voice was weak from disuse.

"What?!," his father's voice was loud in comparison, shocked that his son actually spoke, then at what he thought he heard.

"You killed my mother!," Tom shrieked.

"No!," Dan yelled, his eyes jerking to the stairwell as a tentacle slammed into the stairwell wall.

Tom crossed the room in a flash, leaping upon his dad's chest, driving air from his lungs. Anger burned in his eyes, swollen from crying. His fingers gripped his fathers cheek forcing him to look at him. Dan bucked throwing him off, shoving Tom toward the stairwell.

"No! Not now! We...we only have one bullet left...we are going to die," Dan was frantic, caterwauling his eyes around the room, looking for the escape he knew was not there.

"Use it on yourself," Tom said coolly as he began descending the stairs toward the thrashing tentacle.

The tentacle was warm and wet as it wound around him, pinning his arms, dragging him back through the shop. Tom watched the life he had led the last year slip by in the debris of torn canvases, broken frames and spilled paints.One puddle of paint caught his eye. It was blue, his mother's favorite color. Wrapped in her memory, he heard the gunshot softly that took his dad and smiled.

The Tenth Daughter of Memory

Monday, September 20, 2010

suicide seat

when the call came, it surprised me, leaving me wondering how long he knew, how to find me. did he wait, patiently until now, when i was just beginning to feel settled? the voice on the phone said,

"god is dead, can you come home?"

i dropped the phone, listening to it clatter, as i relearned how to breathe, for the first time in years.

god is dead.

now, i sit in the suicide seat, the same one my daddy did, lamenting what he did to me, when the shotgun spoke to his head, leaving, like shavings from its eraser, blood and brain---
matters little, just another way of him stealing my opportunity to hate and say what needed to said.

how am i supposed to feel anyway? remorse, no.

i pick petals off the lilies, someone sent to sit by his grave, tossing them on the floor, crushing them with the toe of my shoe, hoping their smell masks his. mumbling daisy songs...loves me not. loves me. not.


the trigger whispers comfort to my finger for a

"follow me. come to me, sweetie."

no, i will not be so careless. no, i will be much more elegant in my partaking in passing. now is not my time. i wonder if you got hard, running your tongue around the rim of the barrel before discharge. that would be just like you. did you quote scripture again, just to make yourself feel better?

no. i will not go with you, there, too much like getting back into bed with you all over again. this time for all eternity.

no. this time, 'no' means it, and you can't even hear it.

no, living is my victory, the hammer to the nails, in the lid
of your coffin, wishing it
was your head.

is it supposed to feel this good,
when a god lies dead?

hopefully, they will at least have good food, at the reception,
i think,
tossing the stems to the floor.

The Tenth Daughter of Memory.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

silence. lies. broken.

my father is a devout man, in his white collar shirt, thick black framed glasses, where he sits upright at the head of our table. he keeps his eyes closed, fingers steepled as he blesses all that has been laid before us. his strength is hidden, think sinew, behind his humility and those that sit around our table as guests are astounded at the complexity of his gentle arguments. obviously he is godly.

silence. lies. broken.

at night he slips through the frame of light, created by the door, and i pretend to sleep, hoping perhaps he will leave. his coarse hair bites my skin, as he settles his weight, whispering scripture in my ear as he wiggles inside of me, worms come to sup on the carrion of my soul. i am sin incarnate and he is mandated by his god to crucify me, put to death my sinful nature, for my own good. i know better than to fight.

silence. lies. broken.

my mom is not oblivious, i tried to tell her once, and in her eyes i could see the same blemish that he sees and she beat me, pants down, at the root of my sin. that was nothing compared to what he did though, admonishing me for not honoring my mother and my father. my tongue is vile, so i lived in his lies, in silence. when i became pregnant he took that too.

silence. lies. broken.

god, the father, hated me and blamed me for all, which made me powerful, yet i was the sacrificial lamb mutely bleating in the thicket. my blood ran rich on the altar for years, but i died early on, resurrected only for his good and perfect will. after the miscarriage, i ran and i have been hiding from god ever since. at night, i still cling to the sheets and when i hear those whispers, because they always come, i pray, as he taught father, which lies above me, hollow is my name.

silence. lies. broken.

The Tenth Daughter of Memory.