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.

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.

i’m feelin fine

twirling twirling twirling! layers of magic. Magical Cartwheel. are you looking. look! look! LOOK! jump. unicorn over to there, under those twisty branches.

ok now you ask me a question. hurry hurry! the magic shield isn’t going to work much longer. look at that wizard over there reading the spellbook. he is doing his part! so come on! we have to help him! I know the answer! I know this one! Indian Ocean!

hands rubbing together and the sticks crumble. crumbly dusty pile at my feet and it goes in through my toes like little bits of food stuck in teeth. Ew at dentists. wiggle wiggle wiggle my toes feel free.

Hop hop hop! LOOK see it’s working. we can stay out here forever and ever now. Right, look. big bad lizard monsters stay out! And now we can live ever after like we’re all happy princes and princesses. doggeee! can we go pet the doggeee? good doggeee. hi! yummy yummy fur wrapped around my fingers! oooh wet licking on my face! hehehee. that’s my face! i’ll lick back, you know!

bye bye! look the wizards leaving. he doesn’t look so happy. did we do something wrong? oh well! Uh uh, you see, Garlack the Destroyer is coming back with even more powerful magic. won’t be easy next time. can’t just wait and and time to go. no its not. and look.

hand over hand up into the tree. my big boots are good for climbing. thats why we picked um. up and up. that’s where i have to go to get the best spot. i have to collect the sunrays like a big sunflower. just like mrs. Garfield says. and oooh there’s the sun. don’t worry i got it. don’t worry! im not that high! stretch stretch. more powerful than ever. there’s doggee out there. he’s like a big plane in space. fine. down down down. woah, world fall. sucked away. knee part open. rip open. ow.

oh Garlack! you evil man got the tree to bite me! i wanted to trust you treeeeee! why treee! this place isn’t safe anymore. can we go somewhere else. bad tree. bad.

lifted up by Beautiful One. like skies fingers up there, but bad! i just see the tops of the big boxes where i can’t go. i get big sloppy kisses. ewww. i don’t want um. tree must have poisoned me, it still hurts, still sings like pain. i don’t like that song. It’s like Daddy’s songs.

big red cage with choking that smells as much as Sandy’s mom that zooms. no. back in is not what i want. i just want my knee to stop singing. do you know a spell like that? back home! no! the backyard is boring! i feel fine. look, it’s not bleeding. see all dried up cause i told it too. i can get leaves and things and make a cover too.

were moving in the gray now. and it’s loud and it’s rumbly. i smear my hand in the red. i lick it. that’s how i get my power back. that’s what Jade said. its good, i know it’s what is right. i don’t like the rumble in my belly. i don’t like the sound of other cars whooshing past. i don’t like hearing the honking. i like looking up at the big sky ocean and watching the pretty white bird fish swimming and i want to be up there too and i think that if people are good then they get to go up there with the birds i think someone said that but i wasn’t listening too much oh well i can up there if i want everybody says so.

yeah. how much longer? bounce bounce bounce. i’m feelin fine.

Purple, green, haha

Purple, green, haha blue/black flipiing and wiling in the true blue yellow high man yep it’s coming, what you doing in the red of the zone it’s going south fast, don’t you know. The people down there are dying in the fiery red light of the high type zone Nihon in the yatzee in the paper pad it’s like up from the sky in the star place it’s in the yellow interview. Coming in through the paper it was cut a hole with a tongue and made an eyehole, don’t let it fool you they want to taste as much as look, the feeling its true more true when the senses are connected that’s why the grey goop won’t work, that’s why the dead chopped up people won’t take over it’s in the red zone of the big red crater planet where there is no life where we want it; we don’t want to be alone like a trashbag caught in the sidewalk hand brought up through the grates of the sewers and grabbed the bag with a dozen eggs unsheathed and gleaming wet heavy with time and yolk. They don’t crack don’t crack don’t crack. If we don’t want to be alone then we also don’t want this. We’d rather be broken than held. We’d rather have an enemy than nothing at all, but so, isn’t it? Lovely mess like soup of yellow and the other colors too that make you sick to your stomach when the rain comes and you have no coat and no umbrella and no hat and no protection at all and you’re caught in the storm and you incredilously weep because you can’t move and can’t stray and can’t change your life. You’re wet and shamed and endlessly it is full of water – that is you are and you know it so why do the tears bite? and why does the rain singe? Can you find no love in your heart that can’t be locked away going away through the canyon riding away on a rockity horse that is falling apart at the bolts, it’s wooden heart overheating and burning like a fired-nut. Can you see the cross burning? it’s all there in the high sky if you look, all that is inside you is up there in the unified field and if your mind opens then it all comes flooding in and what separates you from the high is nothing and what the sky was is everything and you are everything and you are no longer on the ground and no longer anywhere because you are everywhere, but you look alone. This is the power of expansion and turning down the ridden and the repeatable and changing your mind to the new; you’ve got to get off your tracks, off them and on to the wide open grassy field where the dragons roam and steampunk trains can fly through the air, that is where you should be and also big buildings with scripts you can read and sometimes they aren’t there, but that’s OK. When you reach these places it is with a good heart, no heart attacks and all soul just like grroooooovvvvyyyyy babbby, and suddenly you’re somewhere new.

That Which Smears Fair

I

Karl Better lived with his mother in an apartment he couldn’t seem to shake. And why would he want to? He could keep to himself, play his clarinet when he wanted to and spend hours surfing internet message boards without anyone telling him that he was wasting his time. His room was on the west wall of the building – as far from the other apartments as he could get. He had a rather large room in which he could keep the various drum machines, mixers, microphones and other recording devices he liked to have around piled around the room without fear of tripping.

His mother, Elizabeth the second, stayed out of his way mostly, as long as he accompanied her on walks. She liked living with someone stable, someone who kept a routine, and she liked having him all to herself. He’d tried to move out years before, but it hadn’t worked out. It had been hard on the both of them, but especially hard on Elizabeth.

The day before, Karl had heard a bout of commotion in the hallway, but Karl had simply turned up his music and made nothing of it. His mother told him on their morning walk that a new girl was moving into one of the neighboring apartments. People were always moving in and out of the apartments, and he often questioned why more people didn’t simply stay put.

Karl, continued on his chosen path, mixing new sounds and melodies to create pastoral skylines, and verdant landscape sound collages. He cut, screwed, mix, mashed, and morphed orchestral triumphs, against raw 80’s synth and created something new. He filled his days with his creations as he always had, but they were becoming boring, stale. Not, perhaps, because of their inherent staleness, but because there was no audience for them. Out of the few songs he’d released, one had received a torrent of views from the indie electronica enthusiast scene, that song being Asiatic Antonin. But, abrasive as the internet is, the experience left him scarred, and unwilling to share any more of his music with the world who wouldn’t appreciate it.

One day, while slumped in the chair before his computer, idly clicking through things, he noticed a new device on the apartment’s shared network entitled “Emily-PC”. Karl snarled to himself at the crass unoriginality with which everyone named their computers. Then without realizing what it could mean, he clicked on it. A series of folders appeared in his browser, and he clicked through to the “Public Pictures” folder, marked by a little flower icon.

Karl had seen his fair share of naked women via scandalous internet sidebar ads, and pop ups, not to mention the few internet porn sites he’d visited out of curiousity when his mother went out of town, but he’d never seen anything like this. Before him were dozens, if not hundreds, of jpegs named in a harmless serial like fashion, containing somewhat grainy, provocative nude webcam pictures. After cycling through the first few, Karl landed on what he believed was a modern wonder of the world. Basked in the golden light of the sun, Emily’s figure was spread across her bed completely buck and completely beautiful, her frame smeared with a thick brown paste. A bottle of nutella completed the picture by covering her most intimate details.

Karl checked over his shoulder to see if his mother, or anyone could see what he was doing, but his room door was closed as always. He returned his gaze to the picture which seemed to ravish his mind like nothing he’d ever seen. It touched him in a way that nudity had never managed. His mouth curled up, and his tongue sought something, almost like it was searching for a clarinet; his fingers too began to quake, and they fell upon the buttons and knobs of his synthesiser with unprecedented ease and passion.

“Karl!” There came a banging at the door that snapped Karl out of his dreamlike state. “Karl!!!” yelled his mother for a second time.

Quickly, spastically, Karl closed the picture, but then, thinking on his feet, copied the entirety of the devilish collection into a new folder lest he be deprived of them in the future. As he rose from his chair, Karl could only think of the beauty of what he’d seen, and not of the bizarre chance of fate that lead him to it.

“Yes, mom,” said Karl opening his door.

“Lunch is ready,” she said.

“Oh. Actually I think I might go for a walk.”

“Be careful! It’s not safe out on the streets!”

And so did he take to the streets with a quick, rash step. Coming down the steps of the apartment complex, however, he ran into the girl – Emily. Seeing her with her bag of groceries, and fully clothed at that, put him in state of shock. She glanced up, met his eyes, and then simply smiled at him as his feet stood stock still in their place.

“Hi!” she said.

Karl swallowed a great deal of fear and was able to mutter something small in response as she walked by.

“Your name’s Emily?” he said, now that he only had her backside to watch.

She turned, ruining the illusion, “Yeah. How did you know?”

Karl felt his face rise to the color of a rasberry sherbert.

“Oh, I think I…saw it…somewhere…”

“And what was your name?”

“Oh, Karl Better.”

“Karl better what?” She waited for a response, but there was none to be had. “Well. Nice to meet you!” she said, and then she bounced up the rest of the stairs and disappeared.

Karl waited a moment and then immediately returned to his computer.

He found, over the course of a few days, as he looked through the pictures of Emily that he had acquired that she was a model of sorts. One of her pictures held a link to a website that she modeled for. You payed a little fee to watch her on her webcam, and she would perform for you and chat with you. Every day Karl neared clicking the ominous “Join Chat” button, but refrained.

Perhaps if he composed a song just for her. A song that could capture everything he felt about her. Maybe then he could reveal himself to her, or at the very least just be free of her commanding presence in his mind.

II

Emily Enticing, as she was known online, was despite all her online acts very much a normal girl trying to make it in the big apple. She had just so happened to have found a niche in the erotic food market that treated her well. But it was just another stop in the road for her, just a temporary bump. Emily was headed real places, everyone that met her told her how beautiful she was and how destined for the screen she was!

There were girls on hottiesfromhellskitchen.com that strived and worked hard for the kind of action they got on the webcam shows, but not Emily. She grew up in a small town, with no place and no time to learn such a trade. A trade which she fell into by chance, and with ease, but one in which she knew she was not destined.

One day she accepted a webcam request from Shyguy380 and started her now tired routine. But her guest, Mr. Shyguy380 told her to stop emphatically. He said that he just wanted her to listen to a song and tell him what she thought of it. So she listened to it like she asked since it seemed like a harmless enough thing. And when he asked what she thought of it she simply said, “Sounds like a bunch of techno bullshit to me!”

Loving Brother

The man is silent in his home. A mug full of cold, dark liquid rests on the edge of his coffee table. Today’s paper is open on the table, splayed with no modesty. It’s a wonder that he can read it at all at his age. His finger slides along the passage another time.

Loving brother. Dead. Yesterday. He’s not alive. Not anymore.

But he doesn’t feel different. He wonders, briefly, if the paper might be right. Maybe he really is dead.

He gently pushes his cold cup of coffee to the ground with the back of his hand. Could a dead man do that? No. It was a silly thought.

The man watches as dirty water sinks into his carpet. The pool seems to stretch out beyond its means. Each tendril wants to get away. Let that be a problem for the living.

The man gets up and looks at the mess in his sink. It’s terrible, and he won’t let it be his problem. He should have left when he had the chance. The man slowly revolves, peering out of the kitchen window into his sun-soaked garden, brown from negligence, green in spots out of heavenly defiance. His cupboards are simple and clean. They’ve never been a problem. The dining table is set for guests as it has been all these years, although these days he wouldn’t know what to cook if anyone did come over. The tile was scratched in places like placards of existence standing stoically in a forest of equally traveled paths. He should write a book. He should tell people about the paths he didn’t go down. Roads not taken. A spider crawls its way along the wall, and it continues past his foot and around the corner. Finally the mug on the carpet. It hasn’t gone anywhere.

The man grabs a rag off the counter and sets his knees against the ground. Childish to think it would go away. He bends over the spill and drops the rag to the ground. He picks up the mug and feels a creak in his back muscles as he lifts it. The muscles around his neck contort as he sets it on the counter. Then he presses his palms into the rag. He can hear a raggedness in his voice, deep in his throat that he remembered hearing from his own father, and grandfather before that.

He wonders what they’ll do when they all figure out that they don’t have a body to put in the ground. When they realize they bought a coffin for nothing.

He rises to his feet and decides that something has to be done. He picks up the phone and dials his sister. He gets some sort of sound he doesn’t recognize coming through the line. No, wait, he does recognize it. It’s happened before. He must have forgotten to pay. Maybe it’s best if she figures it out the hard way. He sets the phone down on the counter and lets the sound run. He can hear it cycling as he walks away.

He munches on his teeth as he watches his sports. He doesn’t do much, never really had, he knew that, but he could keep track of his teams. His mother had always told him not to grind his teeth like it was going out of style, but he knew better. He liked to think about what the boys did in the dugout. He wanted to know if they talked to each other, or if they just sat there each in their own thoughts too worried about the game to talk. He liked to think that they shared pictures of their babies and wives and grandparents. He liked to think they talked about which was the better soda: Pepsi or Coke. He bet big baseball stars had big opinions. He liked to think they shared industrial sized bags of sunflower seeds of all different flavors. There is a lot of time to think about little things during a game.

The camera went careening after a ball as it flew into a blue, silent sky. He looks out his window and saw his own blue, silent sky. He gets up and walks out the door. The air outside nestled into the crooks of his skin and found a way to comfort him in its touch. Small hairs on his lip drifted along with the wind up his nose and into his lungs. He kept his steps small and gentle, the way he’d always walked with others. It was just him now.

He squints against the day’s crowded beams of light. Couples, no more than outlines, walk past him smiling to each other, and he smiles at them. A boy plays fetch in his front yard with a small brown and white dog that never actually catches the frisbee in its mouth. His eyes follow this dog and this boy for a few minutes. He counts four cars go by behind him, and the smell of his own car returns to him like an old friend who got put in the gound when he wasn’t looking. His driveway was empty now. So was his wallet. The frisbee falls to the ground at the man’s feet and the dog runs to him. He bounds and leaps, nothing but a ball of thin, shiny skin. It retrieves the frisbee, dragging it along the ground as heavy as it was. The man’s eyes lift to the boy, but the boy only has eyes for his dog.

The man smiles and makes the return journey to his home. The baseball game was still on in the living room, and he could still hear the slight drone of the phone off the hook. He chews on his teeth a little and walks to the kitchen. He finds in his drawers a package of chocolates all for him.

He sits again in front of his game and munches on the chocolate. His mother had always told him not to eat chocolate like it was going out of style. With a flick of his wrist he turns off the sound and just watches. A slight, heavenly glare smears the part of the screen with the scorecard so he can’t see the score. His team was winning.

At the commercials, the man rises and checks on his coffee spill. He retrieves the rag and tosses it into the sink. Remaining is a dry, light stain. A mark unlike any other. He welcomes the spot to his home. Then with scissors in hand he cuts out the small chunk of newspaper with his name on it. He then carries it to the corkboard he’d hung over the fire and pinned it up so he would remember. Yesterday he’d died. And from where he was standing, things weren’t too bad.

 

What If Dale Can’t Come Back From The Lodge

This is the last of the shorts I’ve written to music. What If Dale Can’t Come Back From The Lodge was written while listening to Seafoam. It’s a free(and awesome) album on bandcamp.

The Biggest question in the world is: What If Dale Can’t Come Back From The Lodge.

Seriously. Don’t fucking laugh.

There was a point where you wanted to give up, I know. I know because we’ve all felt that right? You’ve given your life to something and you can’t even look at it there’s so much disgust there. Why the hell did you go and do that?

It’s a heaping pile of garbage any way you look at it. How are you going to let anyone see this, much lest expect them to pay for it? Pay for it? You can’t make a living like this. You can’t even be a starving artist type. No one’s even going to notice. That’s the truth. And you know it, in fact it’s the only thing you can think about most of the time.

You stare into the ocean, and it’s just fucking there. You want to delete it, drag it to your trash. Clear that shit. It’s a few megabites you could do with out. More room for torrents.

Torrents to pass the time because you’ve given up. You haven’t even looked at anything that could possibly remind you of it in weeks, and you don’t want to start. You want to keep pressing play on Netflix because that will pass the hours fine enough.

And suddenly months go by. When was the last time you opened up that file? When was the last time you didn’t feel worthless.

Of course you’re going to get something to write about when you go on that trip and of course your brain is going to start firing again. Pathways in your brain that have lain dormant are lit up and it’s like that one scene in Return of the King when all the fires are being lit one by one. You wish your life had such an awesome soundtrack.

And once you start thinking about it again, you find out you never really stopped thinking about it. Even when you tried. Especially when you tried.

How could you forget about all those sleepless nights lying awake thinking about it, and not writing any of it down. You should have written that shit down.

At night with your family. The real family you’ve made. The ones who really share, and really care. Is it shitty to say that? Am I alone in thinking that? Those people make you remember what’s important. Those people remind you about what you should be doing, and there’s only one thing you should be doing, and you haven’t been doing it. You’ve been making excuses.

You’re too busy. You’ll get to it. It’s not worth it. When are you going to watch that video about that game you’ll never play? It’s not the right time. You’ve got to do a little more research.

And slowly, you remember the most important things you’ll ever learn. You remember the small, pesky, beautiful things that make the world what it is:

1. This isn’t the end.

2. The end is coming.

These are the two most simple, important, small things you’ll ever learn.

One reminds you that there is always time to keep going. You can always make the next one. You always get a second chance. Always. So don’t give up. Whatever you think you have to make up. Whatever guilt you carry. Whatever master plan you had that didn’t work out. It’s ok. Whenever you’re scared remember that this isn’t the end.

The other reminds you that you have to act now. There isn’t time to not do what you love. There isn’t time to not do what you should be doing. When you feel a calling, you have to go. You won’t always be here to do it, so do it now. There’s no telling when the end is coming, so why would you wait? Your end – THE end could happen at any minute. It’s both terrifying and relieving to think about, but none of it stops the fact that it is happening. The end is coming.

And this isn’t the only time. Our lives are going to be full of these moments. It’s not enough to have this realization once. It’s not enough to have that gut wrenching, head splitting nervousness once. It’s not enough to pace around once. If we want to keep living, if we want to keep loving, keep being humans who know what a real party is then we can’t ever let ourselves stop. The moment we settle is the moment that those two very important lessons cease to apply. The moment we stop we die, and it is the end, and the end isn’t coming.

So look forwards to it. There’s more where this came from. The way I see it you have three options.

1. Dread it and be miserable like we have been in the past.

2. Stop and die.

3. Look forwards to it. We can set our feet out on a path smiling. Knowing full well the ups and downs of life will be magnified for us.

After all, a certain person we know would be happy to remind us that: “If you don’t suffer than it’s not art :|”

Try not to lose track of the simple, important, small things.

You can stress all you want over the Big questions like: “What If Dale Can’t Come Back From The Lodge”, or you can just let it go.

Control

This is the seventh in a series of short stories written to music. Control was written while listening to The Olivia Tremor Control’s album Black Foliage: Animation Music, Volume 1

Jimmy: Short. Eh. Five foot six, let’s say. Yeah. Blue button up shirt. Brown khaki pants.

Jimmy just got out of a meeting in which he was offered the job of his dreams. A coding position at Smarple, a tech giant in the Greater Bay Area.

He put each foot out in front of the other, taking massive steps because he was feeling grand. This was the moment his life had been leading up to.

He’d grown up in the 90’s. His first love had been Windows 95, C++ his sexy, complicated mistress. He’d never had many friends in school. His favorite subject was math, an area in which he surpassed his teachers abilities by the 9th grade.

He learned to express himself through code, building elaborate interactive stories and prank programs for his friends. By the tenth grade he wasn’t doing math homework anymore because he’d constructed a program that would do it for him. He was still forced into math class because the American school system is a broken system of misery.

But now he was out, and now he’d be doing what he loved. Full time. All the time. Jimmy loosened his tie. Stopped by a bakery: Gluten free. Made it home quick.

The traffic: Light.

He crashed into his chair: Red. Velvety. Wide arm rests.

His TV: 48 inch. Flat. LCD. His Tuoko box turned on and gave him his options. He cycled through them. What looked least soul crushing: Some new NBC comedy. He’d already forgotten the title. It was probably garbage.

It was, and Jimmy found himself wishing he’d had something better to do. Halfway through the show his Tuoko box glitched out.

On the screen: Green text. onload agitate()

The screen refreshed and it was gone. He shook his head and figured he’d been staring at code too much recently. Jimmy shut off the TV and went to his computer. His copy of Visual Studio was still open.

Jimmy rubbed his eyes and then stared at the screen closer. He’d never finished the writeOn function on the graphics program he’d been working on. Jimmy sat down and put his fingers to the keys.

Continue reading

Empty Wrapping

This is the sixth in a series of short stories written to music. Empty Wrapping was written while listening to Public Enemy’s album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back

 

Come on, turn it up

Can I get a crowd to turn up

Making the music for none

Rocking and rolling my way through the slums

The way I act you could say I ain’t a nun

Fucking bitches making um want more of um

Me

That’s what they see

When their heart goes flutter

Sticky sticky in my butter

Yeah they all know me but her

friends are all lauging bout it though

wanna make um wait until they see my show

maybe then they won’t boo no more

 

Jared’s felt something on his arm, and he swiveled his body around. There was this guy with his hand out. Jared took one of his earbuds out playing the Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe instrumental that he’d been rhyming with.

“You’re good,” said the man. Deep lines in his brow showed age.

Jared looked up and down the alley. He didn’t think anyone else hung around here. He didn’t like other people listening to his unfinished… whatever, he just had to get out of here.

“Do you have any change?”

Jared shook his head. God this was really bringing him down. This what fiends look like?

“No, course not. You’re all rapping about money and women so fleetingly, and none of ya’ll got a piece for Al.”

“Whatever, man,” said Jared. Just looking at the guy made Jared squirm. He was ready to get out of here.

“Why don’t you take a hand at talking about something else for once? Why don’t you,” he said sticking his finger into Jared’s chest, “say something decent.”

“The hell you talking to me anyway?”

“Who else am I gonna talk to. I figured I might as well try and help someone out before I go.”

“What you got the bug or something?”

“Maybe. Listen, all I’m trying to say is that if you want your work to mean something you gotta put something real in it. You feel me? It’s gotta be one hundred percent you.”

He rammed his finger into Jared again.

“And,” he continued, “if you ain’t real enough to put yourself out there, then who’s gonna fuck with you?”

“Yeah, cool man. Whatever.”

Jared shook his head and popped his earbud back in. He bobbed his head and tried to get back into the rhythm.

#

“Naw, man,” said Carlos laughing. “Naw, naw it’s like he’s just sitting there with this like mound of coke just staring into the camera. It’s whack.”

“Yeah, yeah. Hey did you see Nikki’s new video. It’s, Jesus man, you see the way Drake was looking at that booty! Ooooh, boy looking like he praying to god.”

The room bust into laughter. This place was their sanctuary. A red walled room filled with junk, empty wrappers, and comfy enough chairs.

“Anyway, you brought a new beat right Chris?” said Jared.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Chris. “You know I got some new synth kinda work I got in there.”

Chris jacked his laptop into the sound system. Then the beat started. Bass rumbled through Jared’s system. He closed his eyes and listened for the boom bap. Feel it. He tapped his foot along. He found the beats groove. It was alright. He could jam to it, but he wasn’t sure it was good enough. It was kind of flat. It didn’t have that kick that the best beats brought.

“Dude, this is awesome!” said Carlos slapping the arms of his recliner.

“Um,” said Jared.

“Yeah, we’re def using this,” said Jay.

Chris grinned and bobbed along with the song.

“So Chris, you still got that connect right?” said Carlos.

“It ain’t no fucking connect, just a fucking dealer dumbass,” said Chris.

“Yeah, I know you know but it sounds real cool when we call it a connect. Like all Reasonable Doubt or whatever.”

“I’m reloaded!” yelled Jay.

The room bust in to laughter. Jared smiled and shook his head.

“Whatever motherfucker, yeah I got your ‘connect’,” said Chris waving his hands in the air. “Hungry motherfuckers.” He chuckled.

As Chris handed a package out to Carlos and Jay, Jared thought about their set. What the hell were they doing.

“Hey, what do you guys think about rewriting some shit.”

“Huh?” said Carlos.

“Like all our songs are about the same shit. I’m thinking we should like just change it up a bit.”

“What are you talking about?” said Jay.

“I mean, like how we gonna get noticed if we’re just like everybody else.”

“Listen motherfucker you wanna write some new shit do it some other time,” said Jay. “I got us a show tonight, not next fucking week. We on stage tonight baby!”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Jared. “Just an idea I guess.”

#

The Chronic wound down and Jared stuck his earbuds in his pocket. This was the place. The stone here in the alley was old. Jared really didn’t know anything about the history of the city.

Jared looked around. He didn’t know why he thought that old dude would be here again. He probably didn’t live around here anyway. Jared kept his head down and went on down the alley.

“Yo motherfucker give it up!”

Jared froze. He heard the sound of a beat down. A scream. He turned his head to look. Two guys were beating on somebody.

“Come on motherfucker! Think you can put one over on us!”

Jared’s heart was on overdrive. Every scream put him on edge. He couldn’t take his eyes away. The old dude was here. He was on the ground. Getting pulped. Jared swallowed hard. His body was telling him a million things at once. Run. Fight. Everything in between.

Jared wished he could do something, but he knew that wasn’t him. He’d never been in a fight in his life, and he wasn’t going to start like this. Jared’s feet won out. His heart clenched. He dashed out through the alley. He didn’t look back, but his mind wouldn’t stop going over it. He didn’t stop running.

#

“Yo motherfucker where you been at?” said Carlos.

“Shit look at this motherfucker thinking he so cool he can show up whenever,” laughed Jay.

Jared kept his head down, his hands in the front pocket of his hood.

“Yo… what’s up,” said Carlos.

“Nothing,” said Jared.

“You ready to tear it up out there, hey! I seen plenty fine bitches out there you know?” said Carlos.

“Yeah boy!” said Jay dropping into a stance and throwing a few punches.

“Nah,” said Jared. “You guys go on. I just came by to tell you guys, I’m out.”

“What?” said Jay.

“The fuck you talking about?” said Carlos. “You the best rhymer in the group. I got this gig showing um your cut you pussy bitch.”

“I can’t rap those fucking lines,” said Jared. “their fucking shit. I don’t know about you but I never been in a fight. I’ve never held a gun motherfucker. Those rhymes aren’t me, you feel me.”

“Their lies? Whatever fucker it’s what they want to hear,” said Carlos.

“Hey, yo, you guys have a good show.”

Jared turned around and smiled. He through up his hood and walked out.

Now he just had to figure out who he was.