And No Voice Strong Enough

Her chest was rising just as it was falling. The key, in her hand. The car, right there. Breath, hot on the back of her teeth. No license.

The brother, up on the porch, watching, his face relaxed beyond the register of emotion. One finger, then two into the yellow jar of goo he cradled in his arms. Slipped them into his mouth, lips folding out and she remembers sucking fingers, but it was only a stale memory.

A man walks by with his dog. It was a short leash. She wanted to scream at him, or at the brother or at someone because that’s what she had always been good at. She could make anyone cry, and if they cried she could smile. But not here. No license to speak.

She’d come, some words on her side and no voice strong enough to speak them. She’d come all for the hope that a man she had once loved had not changed. Though she had changed. Her hope had never gone away. But when she arrived he had not been waiting for her like he promised. His brother had been in his place.

At first she thought he has simply grown a beard, maybe let himself go in her absence. Their faces were so alike even after he spoke, and even after she surveyed the clothes he worse, and even after he led her to the car in silence, a bitter look on his lips, she felt a little unsure.

They drove in silence. She spoke a few words of greeting in his language. He said nothing in response. His beard was an old mans’. It was hiding something.

“Scott… going… country… all shit… I… you… fucking shit.”

She stared ahead, but didn’t like reading the signs. It made her head hurt. She looked down at her phone. No service. At least she could read the menus.

He pulled the car over at a drugstore with a green sign. He said nothing, sighed, and left the car.

She stared and waited. Her arms nestled closer to her chest. The sky was overcast and she felt it would rain. Then a drumming at the window.

Her tongue was dry. Her whole self was in her throat.

A man wrapped in chains was rapping his knuckles against the glass. His long gray hair covered his eyes, but not the volcanic landscape of his cheeks. He spit and then beat the window with his elbow. She held her breath.

“Lollipop! Lollipop!” he belted before stumbling away.

He fell to the ground at the brother’s feet. The brother was now carrying a small plastic bag. He stared at the man in chains and then put his hands together, fingers pointed up towards the sky. He smiled. A real smile. Like he’d just bought a new pair of shoes. He smiled all the way home.

She refused the food. It was green and wet. It reminded her of the countryside. The soup was purple, thick, lumpy. Bled warts. She’d watched him pour some yellow gue into it. Watched him lick his fingers. She sat in front of the food in silence while he forked the mulch into his mouth.

She felt an ache in her heart. The brother’s eyes were the very ones she’d fallen in love with. They were a crystalline green. They were unending. She’d fallen in long ago, and now she was staring at them again. Only how could she if she were still inside? Her eyes tickled with a burn. The forehead, the nose, it was all the same.

He grunted, cleared his throat violently like a cat and then rose. He picked up her fork and lifted a pile to her face. Around in circles. She looked to the side and a soft cry escaped her lips. She wanted her phone. She wanted to talk to her friends. She wished she could tell someone. She wished she could tell him. The brother laughed and walked away.

“Stupid,” he said.

He disappeared behind a door at the end of a long hallway. The old wooden clock above stopped ticking. Soon a low wailing could be heard from behind the door. The wooden floor, so modern, so polished, creaked.

She stood and the chair reluctantly slid away from her, groaning. She heard a pounding.

There was a knock on the door. She stayed low and approached the window above. It was a man with long curly hair, looking up at her expectantly with a piece of paper gripped in both hands. It read, “Is Scott home?”

Strangely there was a stack of paper and a marker next to the window. She carefully wrote, “No” and held it up to the window. They continued to stare at each other for a short time. He then jotted something down and held it up.

“Everything all right?”

She continued to hold up her paper. She knew she should hold her breath, but what was the point. He threw his thumb up and walked away.

She sat on the couch, thinking she had better wait. She talked to herself in the words she knew. It should have eased her heart, but there was no one to receive them. They even sounded strange here in this glossy home. The wailing stopped and the brother returned. He didn’t look at her. He faced away and kneeled on the floor. He whispered and bowed his head to the floor. He rocked back and forth on his head until finally he lifted himself off the floor and stood on his head, still whispering.

Then he came down and his face was red, and his eyes were puffy. He’d been crying. And she felt nothing. It was a mask.

“Go away,” she said, and she ran down the stairs to the door. She grabbed the keys and ran out to the car. “Where is Scott!”

And her chest was heaving. And she didn’t care that she had no license or that she knew nothing of the town. She wanted to go. But where she wanted to go no car could take her, and her breathing grew soggy and the lines of her face brittle.

And the brother stood up on the porch, watching her with a face no words in her tongue could describe, his beautiful eyes finding a gleam under the porch light’s glow.

And a man with a dog walked by, staring. His dog heaved against the leash, but the man just smiled. She looked up at the brother and his eyes latched onto her heart. She was sure they were the same as the brother’s, that they were only a mask. They had never been anything more. And now here she was.

Where the Water Goes

If my feet are on the ground, am I grounded?

If I’m on a boat am I then flying?

These fish are flying which is why I won’t catch them. They laugh at me, but I couldn’t hurt a fish. They are too precious. They have a life as good as mine.

What makes a life good? Is it the air we breath, the blood that flows through our veins? The things we spend our time on? Those we spend our time with? Can those make a life bad? Or can only you do that?

I have to make a living somehow and I like seeing the fish, their smiling faces, so I work on this boat. I clean the halls, wash the dishes. At night I stand on the deck and watch for the fish. I can’t see them, but I think they are there. I sing to them because they need someone to keep them company through the long night. The others are asleep, not around to laugh. My flying voice meets these flying fish. And we rock through the night.

Every night it goes like this. I suffer through the day until the night comes and the fish feel safe. They know I won’t catch them. I can never see them, but I can hear them down below, churning the water. Why couldn’t fish dance the same as us?

I think about the land sometimes, but I have nowhere to go. No money, like I said. Besides I think the fish find comfort in me.

I’ve worked on the boat for many seasons, but tonight was the first night the boat touched ground. When I came out of my cabin the ocean was gone. We had soared all the way to the floor of the sea. I saw the fish and the seaweed and the corral, but there was no water. I sang like I always do.

A large fish flew to me and began to speak to me. He wondered if I didn’t want to join him where no one talked and everyone smiled. He said that I was the only one who ever cared for the fish. He opened his mouth for me to climb in. He was large, and I fit nicely. And the water came back, and the boat lifted up with the waves once again, only I was down below. From my new home I could sing all day. But there was no ground to stand on.

Why Would Anyone Read This

Earth Mother cried in the desolate gray space which had become her abode, and waited for her daughter to come back to her from the rave. The raven sang sourly that beauty had left the earth, the color had dried up, music had become one note and communication had been reduced to dull drags on cigarrillos.

Cut off my arm!

Somewhere in the universe George Lucas is having sex in a bed under red sheets and a polka dot comforter. His forehead is sweaty — hot like the inside of a taunton with all the smells this image conjures. His red lightsaber is fully extended. It’s meeting a squishy, warm fate, being compelled by a tractor beam as it were. His Kunda stones are warm. Underneath his pastel turtleneck sweater his nipples are chaffing. Hard.

“Oh!” yells George, in his passion. “Someone, cut off my arm!”

His lover, submissive, money in her eyes, at his command makes a sword swinging motion at his arm after a moment’s pause.

“No. Good. No, make the lightsaber sound.”

She did, and he squealed like an Ewok.

“Tell me you’re my father!” George screamed.

She did.

“Noooooo!” moaned Mr. Lucas as he climaxed.

Ye High

People who say about yea high are a certain kind of people. Ever noticed that? There are like 3 or 4 people you’ve known that say it, and I bet you can picture them exactly. They all played baseball for some reason.

Can’t you just see them squinting, with a poopy grin, raising and lowering their hand till they finally say, “About yea high.” Actually I think it works better when they don’t give any indication of the height they mean and just say, “Yea high.”

And when you produce an album about being a college dropout you gotta be about Ye high.

The Will of Jeff

Alegro finds himself in a hallway. It twists and it’s lit by deep purple lamps that swing like there’s wind. Darkness ascends like heat, and there’s no roof to hold it. Rather, an anti roof. Alegro spends a few hours trying to wrap his head around it.

Alegro finds himself in front of a door. It seems familiar. There’s a soft sweet feeling as of beautiful words, but also an aching of the eyes. The door opens and there’s a short roman buttress holding up a mixed drink. It has a little folded-like-a-tent card in front of it that reads: Cowardice w/ a touch of chives. Alegro moves forwards and takes the drink. The door shuts behind him. The drink tastes about how he’d expect. Tastes green, with a bite.

A squad of curtains open around Alegro. Alegro tastes stage fright in the back of his throat. It’s not at all like he imagined being on stage would taste like. Tastes halfway between Banana Orange and Purple Mountain’s Majesty. There’s so many buttons and pleasantly smiling faces. It’s exactly like he imagined being on stage would be like: the bright light of the control tower where little bug men play with switches stops you from seeing anything. He’d had that streamed to him before.

There’s a laughter around him, and Alegro takes a smile. He looks down and sees that his pants are wet. Alegro crumples to the floor. A bald man in a light blue button up shirt steps on to the stage, right over Alegro’s form. He looks 51, well preserved. His belt buckle looks like a million bucks.

“You want this End?”

“Yes,” says Alegro.

“And where would you like that End shipped? You can sign in for one click shopping. Would you like free two day shipping with that? We can give you free two day shipping if you sign up with us.”

“What are you talking about.”

“You can also take forty dollars off your order right now, easy peasy, if you sign up for a credit card through us. You’re over 18, aren’t you.”

“Yeah.”

“Excellent!”

The bald man bends his torso down to lower his head down to Alegro while keeping his legs completely still. His head seems to float around in Alegro’s suffering vision.

“Excellent!” he repeated.

Alegro backs away on his hands and knees.

“No. I don’t want it.”

“If you could just put in your shipping address here…even if you don’t want it, it’s really best if you put in your shipping information here, just for ease of use later…”

“No!”

Someone cheers from the audience, and that’s when Alegro notices that they have stopped laughing.

The creature before him bends upright to his full height. Then he cocks his head to the side.

“Perhaps you want a tablet?”

Alegro stands and runs to the front of the stage, and it is there that he is captured by the magnificence of the world before him. He can’t see any of it, but somehow he can feel it in his stomach. Some emotion he doesn’t understand begins to rise in his gut and makes his liver sing a happy, jaunty tune. Increasingly his heart skips a beat which he thinks may be unhealthy. Lowering from the rough wooden parapets above, a few hooks latch into his shoulders, piercing right through the bone, and lift him up in transcendental ecstasy!

“I am a free man,” he says as he rises. “I need no river to bring me happiness. I need not mechanical wings to bring good tidings, for good tidings are here. Indeed I am the messenger. I am the angel. I do not need your credit card information or your shipping information. Everyone gets free two day shipping! I see the path before me.”

“Would you like another drink?” says the bald man below.

“I think it’s your turn to drink this time, Jeff.”

Then the hooks rip through Alegro’s body and he falls to the ground in a bloody heap. He is saved only by the quick response of a team of medical drones and the will of Jeff.

Blog Blocked

And now, apropos of nothing:

– Dude this guy totally cock blocked me the other day. I was totally like horning in on his sister so he stuck a fork in my penis. Cock blocked!

– Oh man…coach won’t let me play in the game man. Dude! He burned my jersey bro! It’s so fucking stupid. Jock Blocked!

– God damn, you know I was really looking forward to wearing my sneakers today, but i had to just slip on my flip flops cause I got Sock Blocked!

– WWE has gone wayyyy down hill. It’s fucking garbage now! Fucking garbage! It just hasn’t been good since it got The Rock Blocked.

– “Aren’t you going to ring the doorbell?

“No. What, trying to Knock Block me?”

– “Dude! Don’t point your gun at that poor bird!”

“Hey! Watch it. Don’t Hawk Block me, bro!”

“What ever! You Glock Blocker!”

– I almost got famous you know. I almost did it through the sick shredding of my guitar, man, but I got totally Rock Blocked by this dude in a mohawk so I took a you know, one of those electric razors and totally Mohawk Blocked that bitch.

– Fuck! Dinner was gonna be so good. I was gonna stir fry up some veggies… unfortunately mom had another schizo episode and sold a bunch of our stuff! Again! So, sorry kids, we got Wok Blocked.

– Dude I totally wanted to go to the cradle of Christianity, but some asshole bought the last seat on the flight and Antioch Blocked me!

– “Hey dude what’s up-“

I hold up my finger to his lips and press firmly so he knows who the fricker is his boss.

“What are you doing?” he says through pressed lips.

“What does it look like? I’m finally Talk Blocking you!”

– UGH, don’t you hate it when someone snags that ebay item when you had the highest bet like three seconds before the end! Fucking Shop Blockers!

– Interesting dress, but I wouldn’t wear it. FROCK BLOCKED!!!

– “Dude you’re mom is so fat-“

“Allen!”

“Dad! It was gonna be funny!”

“Allen!”

“Fine…”

“Ha! Mock Blocked!”

– Can you check the time?

Me? No, I got Clock Blocked

– I was just trying to get myself sexually aroused, but I got erotic blocked.

– No Graffiti you pint sized criminals! You kindergartners have been chalk blocked!

– Dude…Leonard Nimoy just died….Spock Blocked.

– “What do you think of this one?”

“It’s a bit…idk. A bit old looking. Where was it made?”

“China.”

“Oh yeah, you don’t want that. That’s shoddy.”

“Thanks friend!”

“What else are friends for other than Schlock Blocking?”

– I won’t let you watch that movie. The Blind Side is just a white guilt movie that doesn’t actually truthfully portray the issue of race in America. Fuckin Sandra Bullocked.

– A writer thought about how to work Crockpot Blocked into a story and couldn’t find a satisfactory way. But then he did! Writer’s Block Blocked!

– I swiped my card in front of the scanner and unlocked the door into Finley. I held the door open for Kari Flocker. What was she thinking? I hadn’t even made up an excuse like that we could work on Japanese together or anything. Why was she going along with it then? Whatever. Just keep your cool.

I swipe my card again and the other little thingy at the stairs.

“Where do you live again?”

“In um the new dorm, you know.”

“Oh Teebo?”

“Yeah,” she throws her arm forward like she’s pointing at something, but of course there is nothing there. “That one.”

We climbed the stairs in silence. I check my phone. He’s in position.

We walk down the halls and I said hi to Nathan AKA Beezlebud. Kari gives a little wave even though she’s never met him. I unlocked my door and let us in.

“Oh…yeah excuse how shitty this place is cause we really need to vacuum. I really need to vacuum my roommate isn’t going to do it…”

“Oh…it’s fine.”

I close Tim’s wide open closet doors and face her. I shrug my shoulders.

“Soooo…” she said.

“Uh yeah.” I got out my phone and sent the text. “Uh yeah, make yourself at home or whatever.”

“K. What are we doing?”

“Um.” Come on come on come on come on come on come on.

Tim bust through the door and yelled, “Whoops!” with a playful smile wrapped around his face. “Sorry! Didn’t mean to be a Flocker Blocker!”

Alegro

Alegro finds himself in a hallway. It isn’t well lit. It feels confined and red. He doesn’t see it. He doesn’t see red at all, but he feels it. The floor is bare wood, hard and old. It has felt the touch of feet before.

Alegro is wearing a white tracksuit, and he wishes he had chosen something else. He doesn’t know where he is, but he can feel that this moment is important to him. Perhaps not to you or to any one else, but this is an important moment for him.

His soul carries him down the hall. Zippers chafe his skin as he realizes he isn’t wearing any undergarments under the tracksuit. Now he really wishes he was wearing something else. Shadows stick to the walls of this hallway like wet sickly flies to the side of a Southern barn. Alegro’s shadow has left him.

To the left there is a door. It is painted with a strange insignia: almost an orange fireball with an excruciatingly thick black border. Alegro gets a feeling in his gut that it was a failed design from some shity design firm in a place far from here where there is a giant bookstore and where a man 10 times smarter than another man who wears a hat and yells things makes 10 times less money. His hand hovers over the doorknob. The doorknob itself looks old. This…house? Hotel? Wherever he is it looks like it was built in the 50’s or something. The shiny coating, that had once made this handle something for wives to boast about to their less fortunate friends, has all but peeled off revealing a dirty underbelly. The knob twists with a sick slur of profanity and then the door swings wide. Something shoves Alegro from behind and he falls face forwards.

Alegro finds himself on the grass. His hands caught his fall. The world is painted a sickly orange.

“Honey, you tripped,” says a strong male voice.

The presence besides Alegro grabs his arm and yanks him up harder than he would have liked.

“You’ll get your dress all grassy,” says the man.

Before him, there are five rows of folding chairs forming an isle. Even through the orange coating that has seemed to envelope this new world Alegro can see that the chairs are set up in a pattern: orange, black, orange, black… Alegro, finding that his feet have begun to move in order to keep up with the older man at his side, peers down the aisle in which he is quickly progressing.

It is just then that he notices that a band is playing. Trumpets and loud drums are banging some formless song made, no doubt, in a sixth grade class competition to create the best song in which the prize was a free ice cream bar of dubious quality. An invisible choral body chants, “Raw raw raw! Fight fight fight!” Alegro wonders what he has done to deserve such a fate.

At the end of the aisle awaiting him is a woman in a business suit holding an allen wrench which Alegro can’t help but notice is sporting Tim Allen’s face on its face and which she is tossing restlessly up and down in her hands. Around her neck she is wearing a tie furnished with images of little power tools and even calculators with tiny glow in the dark screens. Alegro shakes his head and tries to dig in his heels. The man’s grip tightens

“Don’t get cold feet now,” he whispers into Alegro’s ear.

Standing behind his wife…groom? to be is the most frightening figure. A dark, looming figure. A mass of a beast so formidable no one has ever heard it speak. The giant beaver in a football jersey is holding a bible and wearing a priestly pellegrina. He stands solemnly under an out of place white arch with formless eyes.

Alegro is pushed into place and is forced to face his future companion. Her face is foreign to him. In all manners is it foreign to him. Her eyes don’t seem as eyes but rather a screen through which a bevvy of numbers spew and refract.

The beaver produces the rings and hands them to Alegro. His heart beating out of its chest, Alegro accepts. Perhaps marriage won’t be such a bad thing. And no one would care if he got divorced, right? Everyone does it… Once, twice. Six times even is ok, right?

The beaver gestures to Alegro’s future bride’s outstretched hand. Alegro passively slips the ring on to the woman’s hand. Then with a second gesture the beaver invites the ring to be placed on Alegro’s own hand. Wowooweeezzaaa. Nails shoot through Alegro’s feet and he screams, but it was as if no one can hear him. He knew they could hear him. But he also knew they didn’t care. He was rooted. The beaver gleefully slips the ring over Alegro’s trembling finger, and for a minute the beaver is close enough to smell. Like an electric tractor.

This woman steps closer and lifts the orange veil from Alegro’s face. And though the world is no longer masked in orange, it appears just as terrible. Alegro bites his lip, and a touch of blood seeps out of his flushed skin.

Just then a trumpet sounds and a dozen cheerleaders in their short black, orange trimmed skirts parade out into the audience and start to make out with each other while the beaver reads from an Israeli postmodern novel.

Huh. Well that wasn’t so bad.

This one has Chris Pratt in it.

I walk through halls of white effervescent walls, humming…the walls hum. I don’t. I’m just quiet. There’s a breeze. It’s warm. There shouldn’t be a breeze down here. I’m underground. It’s numbly lit down here.

I might be going to a pool. The bleached walls say pool. There’s a door with a little black plaque over it that reads, “01”. Also on the door is a window lined with metal bars. Past the window it’s dark. There’s a rumble. I think the breeze might be coming from back there.

My feet keep moving, but it’s hard to tell if I’m going anywhere. It’s just white walls everywhere. It smells like hot chlorine.

There’s a girl now. A girl with ruby colored hair down on the ground. Did she fall?

Now, I’m walking out of a bar. I didn’t get any drinks, but my parents did. They have come to visit me. Or maybe it’s spring break. Chris Pratt brushed by me on my way out. I couldn’t place his name. I think I said something to him. He was nice.

Why is the girl with the ruby colored hair on the floor like that, in this place that may lead to a pool? She’s laying so that her back is lifted off the ground, so that she’s made a little bridge with her head and her hips. She’s looking up at me through square glasses. Her eyes close and open. Close and open. She’s got a bag. It’s down on the floor too. I wonder.

She’s like an anime character. She twists her head. If she had bigger eyes she’d be an anime character.

I’m down on the ground now too. I’m kneeling. I can’t remember if we say anything. I think we do. I know her. She knows me. My mom is there. I say, this is X-san.

She’s different than normal. I kiss her like that, with her head upside down, or is it mine that’s upside down? I kiss this girl who doesn’t kiss boys. I never wanted to kiss her. Not really. Not especially. But it feels right, even after.

But the wind doesn’t stop. I can still hear the rumble. My mom is talking to Chris Pratt.

I ask X-san when she got here. She’s not supposed to be here. She said that she’s going to be coming over more now to take a swimming class. They have at least two olympic sized pools where she comes from. Why come here? I can’t complain.

My mom says that it’s time to go now. I’m touching her hand, and I’m feeling her plump belly through her shirt. Why is she on the floor.

Silly silly silly. Just like you Drac. Just like you to want something you could never have. Silly silly silly.

Curious Carl Weathers

Laura was eight, and when she was eight she joined a soccer team. They were the Bobcats. They were cats. They had two coaches Bob and Hope. She was friends with the other girls. She liked to play forward because her father was a porcupine and her sister was an oregano. Her sis didn’t play soccer.

Clocks spun, people stood and sat. Mostly they sat. Mostly Laura ran. Three other girls stayed on the team, and then she was 17. Laura watched the lord of the rings extended edition trilogy and then the two hobbit movies  that were out all in a row, and it wasn’t even the first time, and then went hiking and thought she was in the hobbit. Laura went to a cook out, but that was before, and that was where a hot dog made her sick because she wasn’t used to meat. Laura was vegetarian, but she had meat sometimes, and also she was vegan for a week, and then she just ate meat. Laura applied to college at OSU and WSU. Laura played soccer with the Bobcats, and looked at her trophies. Laura kept them on a shelf above everything else, and they are still there today even though most everything else moved out to the dorm. Bob and Hope made them run laps and sign a ball. Laura tried to wash grass stains out of her socks, but instead she threw them away. The day came and the four girls that had been together over 10 years huddled around each other and cried. They shared popcorn and trimmed eyelashes over pictures of defeated Crocodiles, Tigers, Sharks, and other predatory animals. They ate too much ice cream. The sun was out. They watched slideshows with salty walls of sappy, sticky sorrow filming the experience.

Mmm. Yes, the team is dead now. Bob and Hope spend their time at home with a dog named Borat. Laura lives in West with a new clique. Bobcats live on the wind and feet forget what they were for. It’s almost as if 10 years and six hundred hours mean nothing. They text though.