Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Big Day

November 7, 2017

I got to work and walked in and sighed.

I already had a super busy day and I was tired before I even walked into the door at work.

Not in a bad way, just in a sort of thrown into unexpected places way and reflecting on what had transpired in the time before I got to work.

Super intense meeting with my supervisor and a lot of deep work around a specific client, who I saw this evening and got to apply all the things that I had worked on with my supervisor.

Which was really fulfilling and also a little exhausting.

And exhilarating too.

I felt like I was really being a good therapist and that my client was making some amazing headway.

I feel better and better the more I get to see my clients and learn about them and those that show up consistently and let me bear witnesses to their growth is really an amazing thing to witness.

At times exhausting, the work is challenging, but as I expressed to my boss today I am so grateful for it.

I didn’t even see my boss until after 4p.m. today, I was at work at the house, picking up my charge from school, and she was off and running her Monday as well.

I think we were both pretty tired from the day, but it was good to connect with her.

She’s great to work for and super flexible with my schedule.

Which is good since I’ll be going in late one more time next Monday.

I’ve been asked to come in again next week to work further on the lecture series, “People Who Usually Don’t Lecture.”

The women that are running the project have a certain vision and they have produced so many of this lecture series they really have a clarity about what needs to come across and what resonates with the audience.


Although all the work I did on the narrative was not for naught, ugh, I still am going to have to re-write it.

I could heavily edit what I wrote, but I think a fresh rewrite with the direction they want from me will make it a far stronger piece.

I have a very clear idea what they want and I know how to write it and I have the opening line in my head so I know where it will go.

Sometimes, most times, all I need is that opening line or thought, the idea opens the door, I walk in and then I start describing what I see, it’s like walking into a warm room with a rag hook rug on the wood floor, a fire burning in a stove, a rocking chair with a soft throw on the arm and a pillow against the back.

I just need to settle into that chair and write what I see on the walls, tell the story in the pictures I see.

There I am running away from home to San Francisco at the ripe age of 29.

What happens.

Here’s a snap shot of DNA Lounge.

Here’s a picture of me in the back patio of The End Up after having been up all weekend.

All the things and crazy dark adventures, a Polaroid on a push pin board.

That time I made out with my best friends boss at The Elbow Room in the photo booth.

And forgot that I had a strip of photos of us kissing.

It fell out of my wallet when I was looking for something, and my friend picked it up.

“Oh my God!  You made out with STEVE!  YOU MADE OUT WITH MY BOSS?!  He’s gay!”

He wasn’t that gay that night.

Here’s another one of a night at Bruno’s on Mission Street, all dressed up for Halloween and getting ready for a night out on the town when my dealer calls and hey, he just got out of 850 Bryant (the jail here in San Francisco) and how much do I want?



I’ll start with three grams and go from there.

Hung over.

Cracked out.

Dancing at strange parties with strange people and all the misadventures there of.

The producers wanted a little more of the nitty-gritty of my using and then what happened.

I had put too much of an ellipses in the narrative and it made it seem like I did a line of blow and then suddenly got sober.

They wanted to hear more about the despair.




It gets your attention, and it provides the vehicle to show how far I’ve come, the things I went through, and who I am.

They also wanted me to talk a little bit more about my nannying.

And what it means to work with children.

“Oh, I think I know what you mean,” I said to the woman speaking to me, “that I get to give the kind of love to a child that I never had for myself growing up.”

She teared up.



Let me pull your heartstrings.

Let me show you how resilient I am.

It’s not necessarily a drama play, it’s what really happened, but I have ten minutes to cover all the things and they wanted to sharpen certain points for power, so that it lands with the audience and connects them to me and my story.


That’s just going to have to sit on the back burner for a little while and percolate.

I have a full client load this week, therapy tomorrow morning before work, group supervision mid-week, when I normally don’t have it until Saturday–but I’ll be in class Saturday so I have to do it this Wednesday, and yeah, that, school, it’s a school weekend.

No wonder I walked into work and already felt exhausted.


It won’t be that bad.

It’s not that bad.

And I am grateful I get to do this project, it is nice to be wanted, it’s nice to know that I have been chosen because I have something powerful to share and that I am someone who knows how deliver a story.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

But the re-write has got to wait until Sunday after I get out of class, I just don’t see getting to it before then.

I still have reading for class I need to attend to, and well, the week full of stuff.

Grateful that I have pockets of respite and some lovely things planned too, that have nothing to do with work and school and clients.

A girl needs a little fun too.

Especially when there’s so much else to attend to.

I need to let myself let loose a little too.

All work and no play makes me a very dull girl.

And I’m so not dull.


You’re Such A Nanny

June 10, 2016

My friend chuckled after I admitted that I almost offered him a graham cracker.

“Hey, do you want a gra….oh my god.”

I laughed.

I was so my job at the moment.

I was also just excited to be talking to adults that weren’t the parent of my charges.

Like just my peeps on the street.

I got a text asking what I was doing and where I was and I replied at the playground, my friend knows the one, and there until swimming lessons and the farmers market and laundry had to be got done.

I had already made the roasted cauliflower and vat of broccoli soup during the earlier part of the day.

It was a super sweet surprise to get to hang out with my friend and his lady, also my friend, these are your friends/here are your friends/these are your friends, and it was just a special quick moment of getting to be relaxed and playful with my charges and catch up a little with my friends.

I am so lucky to have the friends I do.

It has taken awhile.

Some relationships get let go.

Some become stronger.

Sometimes I have a friend for a few years then they disappear for a while.

That always makes me sad.


There’s not much I can do except focus on getting what I need for myself and letting that friend do what he or she has got to do to get back to where I am at.

Some do.

A lot don’t.

So the ones that stick.


They are important.

They are cherished.


Despite my apparent transparency here.

I don’t have a ton of close friends.

I have enough.

I have just what I need.

I am not complaining.

I am grateful for the amazing friends in my life.

I just am not quite so popular as my facecrack page would like you to believe.

Sometimes I just can’t keep up with it all, the events, the parties, the things, the doings the goings, but I try to keep up with a select few.

And that makes me very happy.

To know that I have friends in my life.

I am a social animal even though I try to act like I’m some sort of lone wolf.


I am quite happy to have a coffee date this weekend, some doing the deal with three different ladies, and a dinner date with a friend who is just had a really big anniversary.


I feel good because tomorrow is Friday and I’m almost through my first full time work week after school has let out.

I am getting used to getting up early again and being at the house in the mornings.

I am also happy because I had a little epiphany in the shower when I got home tonight after doing the deal.

I was laughing to myself about the graham cracker offer at the park and then I recalled a brief conversation I had once with an acquaintance years ago.

I was nannying.


It was an afternoon in the Mission and the parents I worked for were hella cool about letting me take there kids everywhere.

Even church basements.

And as I sat in the spot, the metal folding chair more comfortable than the crap running through my brain which was why I was there during the work day instead of after the work day had finished, one of my monkeys was getting fussy.

So I took him out of the stroller and nestled him on my shoulder and crooned to him and rocked him until he fell asleep, heavy in my arms, completely warm, soft, a puddle of love, all collapsed on my shoulders.

I hummed a lullaby under my breath.

I have two go to’s–the classic “Hush Little Baby” and one I made up that consists of a couple of bars that I hum.

I couldn’t tell you what key it’s in.

Perhaps the key of gratitude.


It’s affective.

I cannot tell you how many babies, toddlers, children I have hummed that little ditty to, rocked to sleep, held through teething bouts, calming them down at the park after a scraped knee or a startled dropped plate shatters on the floor.

I would later, much later, realize, fuck I am dense, hit on me after the deal was wrapped up.

“I don’t know that I have ever envied a two year old more,” he said to me, eyes a twinkle, “what I wouldn’t give to be held in your lap having you sing me a lullaby.”

God damn it.

Even writing that I can tell he was hitting on me.

I however, was busy bundling the monkey back into the stroller and keeping the other one, I specialize in nanny shares and almost always do double duty, busy with the snacks and the milk.

I tucked the blankets around them and smiled.

I walked away.

And I wonder why I am single.



Total digression.

All this in a flash in the shower, the lullaby, the song, the oh!



I got it.

I got it!

Lullabies and Love Songs.

My book!


Well, my chap book.

I’m not sure how much I’m going to get, but it has been needling at me to put together a group of poems.


Or should it be.

Love Songs and Lullabies?

Not sure.


I want to gather my materials.

I have tons of poems scattered through out my notebooks.

I want to go through them and find the pearls.

There’s a lot of dross.

But there is gold too.

I will also mine this blog.

I have some poems tucked in here too.

I got super excited.

I have something to report on for the podcast and I have a real sense of it.

I can see it very well.

And I want it.

I want to do this.

Lullabies and Love Songs.

That’s the one.

That sounds good coming out of my mouth.



I like having a creative goal and I don’t know that I’m ready to go back in and try and re-work my book yet.

I also do want to find one of my old short stories.

I have an idea to polish it up and submit it to Glimmer Train for their emerging authors contest.

I have had a short story published, but the circulation, I’m pretty freaking sure, was under 5,000, which was the cut off to be considered for the contest.


I am going to do this.

I usually do.

When I put it here.

This blog.

My blueprint.

My happy.

My graham cracker.


My crumble bum muse, tumbled out like grains of sand from the park expedition, harmonies of love and joy and the sweet hands of a little boy riding my shoulders calling my name out gleefully as we stride down Valencia street.

Can’t ask for more

My life.




Are You Just Coming

May 31, 2016

From the Warriors game?

He asked me, his head cocked and curious, “you look amazing, really, beautiful.”

And he gave me a big hug.

So surprised, sweetly so, to run into my yoga instructor as I was mailing off a letter at the corner mailbox on Judah and 44th.

“The what?” I asked, “no, um, ha, I was working on a poetry submission.”

“That’s even better!”  He smiled and lit up, I mean, really lit up, it was nice to see.

“It’s the blue,” he said, “that’s what got my attention.”


Wouldn’t you know?

It is the exact shade of blue as the Warriors blue and gold, and though I was not technically wearing gold pants, um, ha, I am wearing leopard print leggings which in certain light do come across as gold.

Nice God.

Subconsciously supporting the sports ball.

I mean.


Same blue, some gold, blue eyeshadow and blue glitter, blue flower in my hair and yes, I’m not kidding, blue nail polish, blue star necklace, blue star earring, and I don’t often wear this color, nor in the amount that I did today.

It must have worked.

I hear they won.


“Carmen you are the only person I would take a phone call from at this time and only because I know you have no idea what is happening right now,” my friend on East Coast time said to me years ago when I called to chatter excitedly to him how I was taking dj lessons and the guy that I was working with really thought I had some skills.

Note to self, cocaine addiction not great for keeping up with things like.

Although super grateful that I did not know how much I could get for my sweet Technic turn tables until after I had gotten sober, sold my entire (oh the tears on my face) vinyl collection to Amoeba on Haight Street and all my cds too.

I might have been out there running awhile longer.

As it stands the money I got from the sales of those things kept me in food and rent for a month of San Francisco living.

Well spent, frankly, well spent.

My friend who I was talking to on the phone was in the middle of a nail biter, seventh game of the World Series, his team, tied or some such thing, and only took the phone call from me because he realized I had no clue.

Still little to this day.

Cue parking on 15th and Valencia the time the Giants swept the series in 2013.



I left the car there.

I was literally on 16th and Valencia when the entire world erupted and people poured out into the streets with brooms and starting lighting shit on fire and drinking open containers and screaming and jumping up and down.

And fuck people.

Cue the same team winning the series two years ago and I’m coming from The Gratitude Center on 7th and Irving at the exact time the series is won and I’m on my fucking bicycle trying to get around police in riot gear and the entire block erupts.




I knew the Warriors were playing and it was a big deal.


What was really a big deal to me today.


Thank you for your entering the Rattle Poetry Prize competition—your entry has been received. If there are any problems with it, we will let you know, but otherwise it is safe to assume everything is set. Winners will be announced on September 15th.

It’s a huge prize.

The odds of me winning it are slim.

But the odds of me winning if I had not submitted, well, that would be nil.

I took the effort.

I pulled together three sonnets and a longer free verse poem and I submitted to the journal.

I am not making any promises, but what with the time I have off over the summer, I thought it wise to submit some work again.


I read a blog that someone wrote about me a few years ago and it inspired me to submit again, it’s been a hot second since I have sent any work anywhere.

I had forgotten about the blog–She Inspired Me To Write–by my friend.

I was googling searching something and it popped up.

I re-read the blog and got a little misty eyed, recalling how excited he was to talk with me, about my travels to Paris, about taking risks and not knowing it and doing it anyway.

I have had it in my head to unearth a short story I wrote years and years ago as well and perhaps submit that out as well.


I would like to put together a small manuscript of my poems.

I have never published a chap book or a manuscript, well, I did a limited, and I do mean very limited, press of a zine called 7 Months, but that was super small and super rough.

I think that it’s time to do something with all the words.

I have felt this before and gotten out there and submitted and nothing happens.


That is ok.

I have to remember that, it’s just how it works.

Loads of folks get loads of rejection.

It’s not to take it personally.

This is my art.

“What kind of art do you do?” He asked me, assuming what I’m not sure, but that from my attire, my tattoos, my star tights, the flower in my hair, that I was an artist.

There was a time that I would have said.

“I’m not an artist.”

There was a time when I was more comfortable with the lie than the truth.

That I have been an artist since I was young and picked up my pen and started scrawling poems in a notebook sometime in middle school.

Or when I started doing forensics and reciting Edna St. Vincent Millay poems at competitions.

Imagine if you will.

I took first place at state.

Not too shabby.

Although I won’t soon forget what it felt like to have the entire school wait on me, as no one else on the team had made it to the final round–the guilt I felt as I progressed was almost subsumed by the pride I felt when my name was announced during the awards ceremony and I got up and walked to get my first place trophy.

And then I thought about being at The Strand book store in New York recently and how I touched and caressed titles of books that I had read, and then, to see a class mate from Wisconsin and his series of books doing so well, displayed prominently at the front of the store.


Then there.

Another woman I know in San Francisco.

Her memoir there.

I had a moment.

I’ll be here too.


Who knows.

But I will.

I have been given a gift and for me it is enough that I get to write.

Not that I am acknowledged for my efforts.


To hear once in a while that I have inspired someone else.

That means the world.


To have someone tell me they loved a blog I wrote or a poem they heard me recite.



That means so much to me.

It’s almost unbearable to express.


Thank you.

I am so graced with these gifts.

I have to share them.

Whether or not they are received.

That’s not my business.

I just get to have the experience of giving the gift.




That is everything.

Home Stretch

December 30, 2012

I just got back from an editing session at Odette & Aime.

I have one chapter left to edit in Baby Girl.


I am exhausted.

I had not a thought to dinner and wound up making oatmeal for supper.

Oatmeal, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Sunday, markets are not open, not much is, I could have swung through the out door market I rode my bike past this morning, but I did not have the fight in me to muster through the crowds on an empty stomach.

I decided to ride my bike back to the hood and get lunch at the house.

After ward, I went to the cafe and I edited my head off.

I really am tired.

It is emotionally draining, as I have stated before to get transported to that time in my life.  So much misery, so many challenges, so much fear.

It is amazing I got out.

Corinne confirmed it with me last night, I really am lucky to be alive.

Alive to fight another day.

Alive to write another day.

Despite my tired body and weary brain, I am quite elated.  The book is almost done.  I feel like the end needs a bit of tweaking, but I don’t want to muddle about with it.  I am too close to it and I need a fresh pair or pairs of eyes.

I have two people confirmed to read, both of whom said they would be critical.

This is good.

I need critics.

I do not need friends.

Bless my friends, I do need them, but I need honest, critical, this works, this does not work, objective eyes.

John Ater assurred me he would tell me.

I cannot believe that he would not.

The other person said, “you may not like what I have to say.”

Excellent, that is the answer I want to hear.

Yes, I also want deep praise and love and I want to hear that it is good.

But I know that it has flaws.  I know that it can be a better book, a better read, and a better telling of the story with more editing and some clear cut criticism.

I don’t actually want to hear it, but I do want this book to succeed.

I really do.

I have worked on it for years now.


I am ready to move onto something else.

Speaking of which.

I finished a short story after I got done with the editing.  I did not know that was to happen. I felt a bit drained after the last chapter in Baby Girl that I worked on, I did not know that I had more words in me.

I did.

I used the facillities at the cafe, recalling the drole voice of the little drunken older lady with the bad skunk die job who had a pint at the bar while I was working.  She was slurring her words and the staff just rather humoured her and ignored her while she drank off her draught.

She mumbled, in French, about the gymnastics of getting down the stairwell to the W.C.

I chuckled.

The waitress chuckled.

The bartender chuckled.

The old lady hollered up the stairs that she could hear us all laughing.

We all smiled at each other.

I sat and read some John Fowles for a while, knocking off another good chunk of The Magus.  It is taking me a bit longer to bat through it than I thought it would, it is a big book–656 pages.

One of the critics, raving about it, says, “I read it all in one go.”

You must have had a few days completely free to do nothing else.

I am on page 424 and will probably finish my own book before I finish The Magus.

It is good Metro reading, though.  I do like having a book on the Metro, I do.

A song came on the radio in the cafe, I thought I might write to it.

Sometimes, often times, music will inspire me to write, a poem usually.

I thought a poem was going to come to mind.

Then I remembered the last time I had edited at Odette & Aime and I had written a poem then.  I flipped through my notebook, found it, and opened up my Word application.

I noticed the short story there I had started.

I read some of it.

I edited a sentence.

I cut another.

I wrote a line.

The next thing you know I have written the missing part of the story, taken out the superflous junk, and now have another short to add to my collection “The Atrocious Alphabet”.


Here it is (I have put it in italics should you like to skip it):

The Amadeus Apple


  I stood in front of the gleaming golden apple.  I could not believe that I was here, at long last.  I had won.  I was going for a ride in the Amadeus Apple.

            My luck had finally changed.

            The side panel was opening, like a large slice being pulled away from the fruit.  My eyes widened taking in every detail, I must write them down later.  I never want to forget.  The mechanism so beautiful and glowing with its own light, the way it shimmered impressed itself onto my shielded eyes.

            The dark goggles on my face blurred out the worst of the glare that it emitted as it warmed up.  One could go blind from watching it too long—that had been discovered the first few times it was utilized.  Not that the knowledge was common, no one wanted to be reminded of the grim scar tissue and the hollowed out eye sockets of the men and women that had their eyes blazed out by the shine.  Not that going blind was the worst thing that could happen any longer, either.  The world had moved on and to not see what it had become would have been a blessing for some.  I did not wish to loose my sight, yet, however.  I adjusted the dark lenses strapped to my face. I wanted to see where I would be going.

            No one believed that it would really transport you to a time in the future when the Earth had recovered from the devastation of the fall out.  The stories abut the Apple foretold a clean future, where the seas had been restored and the skies cleaned and the food palatable again, the grass green, not scorched.  It was too good to be true.   I remember what my mother said about things that sounded too good to be true.  I knew it was propaganda handed out by the government.  But seeing the Apple advertised on the side panel of an Army land tank I had chosen to believe nevertheless.

            No one wanted to stay in this time any longer.  There was nothing left.

            Getting out was my only thought.

            I wanted to go for a ride in the Amadeus Apple.

            I had walked from the West Coast of the continent to the South Eastern side, many miles, many adventures through the underworld and the sudden rising of the Midwestern sea—the Great Lakes had conjoined after the blast had carved out the main lands of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

            No one had known until after the bomb had been dropped that the major think tanks of the world had been housed in Central Wisconsin, it would have been laughable to consider, the brightest minds gathered together in the middle of the middle West eating cheese curds and figuring out how to create world peace while drinking cold beers and engaging in an outdoor barbeques of Johnsonville Brats and German potato salad.

            It had certainly surprised me when I had heard the whispered stories of how the apple had appeared.  I had grown up in Wisconsin.

            They, the Institute, had known that something was about to happen, when the Amadeus Apple had, according to the legends of the road, materialized briefly on the lawn of the compound outside of Waukesha. 

            One day it had settled, out of thin air onto the thick, verdant, green pelt of lawn.

            A large apple shaped object, shimmering with peacock light, vibrating with the sound of Mozart’s last symphony.

            The music of the spheres does exist.

            The Amadeus Apple stopped spinning and the in habitants of the compound had gathered round.  They all went blind.  A blessing they said, later, as they were all spared the sight of the land being swallowed into the crater that had been the Midwest.  A blessing they said, having been given new eyes by the Government that glowed in the same shimmering lights as the Apple.           

            I stood, shaking with anticipation, my skin already irradiated from the music flashing into my skin from the speakers.  I recalled all the tales I had heard.  I trembled with exultation.  They were true.

            I was ready.

            Ready to go forward into a brand new world.

            I stepped into the slice of apple.

            I did not pass Go.

            I did not collect $200.

            I did scream.

The End

I frankly, was delighted.

I edited a chapter in the book.  I finished a short story.  I wrote some inventory.  I read some “light reading”.

I went for a bike ride.

I ate some dinner.

Yes, it was oatmeal, but I like oatmeal.

Not a bad day.

In Paris.


December 3, 2012

Although I do not like to admit it, a little bruising of the heart does the writing good.

Anytime that I can crank out as much as I have in the last two days is a good time.

Yesterday I went to two museums, took many photographs, edited my book, and wrote a short story.  Today, although not as prolific, I still wrote twice and edited my book.

Here is the short for you:


Pajama Pants


“Listen,” the boy whispered low and urgent in the dark night, two beds down from mine in the long narrow room, “all you got to do is wait until he’s asleep, then slide ‘em out from underneath his head, he’ll never wake up.”

“Lonnie,” the other boy whispered back with a low whine in his throat, “I don’t want to, the pants will bite me.”

“Listen up, Bradford, you fucking little pussy, you fucking get those pants from him or I will bite you.”

I held my pajama pants close to me, the soft flannel of cloth folded over cushioning my cheek.  If I squinted I could just see the outline of a black lion mane on the left pocket to my pants in the bit of dim light that the hallway light cast through the frosted windows of the nursery.

The nurses were long gone to bed and we new boys were left to fend for ourselves against the line of bullies that ran the boys house, the nurse at the front turned a blind eye and sat with her broad white back to the nursery windows face buried in a virtual telly mask watching some late night Bollywood soap opera, the noise of it leaking through the shoddy view mask she wore.

My pajama pants were the last of the things that I had left from my dad.  I cradled them close to my face and nestled my nose into faded mane of the black lion printed on my pajamas, he grumbled in a sleepy roar at me, as he felt my nose nestle into his mane.

Lions were not purring cats my daddy told me, “they are roaring cats, Micah, they are not house cats, like Shasha there,” his papa said pointing to the brown tabby house cat warming mama’s lap as she sat rocking in the silent floating shell chair before the flat screen mono fire.  I could not remember my mama’s face anymore, but I could still see the bright gleam of light off the edge of my father’s glasses—he was old-fashioned like that, wearing glasses.

“Don’t forget that, and the lions will always look after you,” his father bent down to button up the top of the flannel around his neck.

“Now, do you want to hear about the black lion of the Southron Lands or do you want to hear about the Green Striped Saber lion of the Mount Lands?”  His father sat down on his bed tucking in the pneumatic quilt around my feet.

“The black lion, daddy, I like that one the best,” I said and opened up my eyes wider to push back against the wave of sleep that was fast unfurling over me.

“Ok, close your eyes,” my father said then he touched the black lion and the roar of the cat grumbled alive and the narrator’s voice started to talk and the walls shimmered and the vast desert dunes flickered onto the walls of his bedroom lit up with the red-gold glow of the setting Southron Land’s sun.

“Once upon a time,” Lonnie sang in a low mean whisper into my ear trying to pull the pants out from underneath my head.  “There was a little baby who cried all the time about how he missed big dumb daddy.”

Lonnie’s cold nails scraped at my fingers trying to get me to let go of the flannel pajama pants.

“No, please, don’t take my pants,” I pushed at his hands.  “Please, you’ll make the lions mad.”

The black lion shifted under me, I could hear his roar lighting up in his throat I tried to shove him down with my ear, but he pushed, he pushed, and he opened his mouth and roared a warning until I had to lift my ear up off the pants for fear of going deaf from the roar being right against my ear drum.

“Please, Lonnie,” I said my eyes starting to water from looking at the black pupils floating in his white face in the dark of the room.

“Shut your pie hole,” Lonnie said and reached under my head to take the pajama pants from me.

Then he screamed and screamed and screamed as the teeth of the black lion shredded his hand and blood flew in thick gouts across my bowed head.

“Lions don’t like to be messed with,” my father said to me, leaning down to kiss my forehead as I slipped into sleep, “you are always safe when you have your pajamas pants, Micah, I promise.”


The End


I have an idea, one that has been a bounce in my head since I got the inspiration for the little story above, it is to do a collection of shorts.

I want to call it “The Atrocious Alphabet”.

I have two stories so far: The Button Boy and Pajama Pants.

You may have figured out that I like alliteration.  I am prone to it in my poems and it just sort of happened that both stories have alliteration in the titles.  They are Science Fiction of a sort.

I will be the first to admit that I have no clue how to write science fiction, I never have before.  Yet, there is something about being here in Paris that pushes me toward it.

There is something unsettling about being in a completely different city with its different language and customs and movements.  There are all sorts of things that I notice and my eye gets pulled this way and that as I try to take it all in.

Today for more time than I care to admit I was studying a man’s tennis shoes across the room from me.  They are what I have heard be called “trainers” it is partially because I have read UK authors that I know the word for them and they look distinctly different from running shoes in the US.

I get to notice all things.

I am a writer.

I eat experiences.

I suck them up.

I watch unabashed.

Unless I am deep into Henry Miller on the Metro.  Which has been the case for the last day and a half, deep into Miller on the Metro.

Miller is a better companion for my journey through the Paris wilds then was Hemingway, although I am grateful for the juxtaposition of the two authors.  Miller is more my style, more to chew on, more fat and gristle and sinew in the writing.

He is lush and exuberant and rich and almost too much, but not quite enough and how is it that he actually can turn a sentence with the word “turd” in it and it sounds just so, perfect and exact.

He smashes you with words, flouts them at you, buries you underneath the descriptions.  I find myself lost in the thighs of a woman he is describing and unbearably smothered in the erotic and then I look up and I have almost missed my Metro stop and some man with startling grey eyes and white blonde close shorn hair, a septum ring in his nose, and black leathers on is staring at me.

My whole body shocked.

I felt overwhelmed with lust.

Then his eyes dropped and the train ground to a halt and I sprung off, stepping out the door before the movement had stopped and up into the throng moving down the tunnel to the next train and the next sentence and the next page.

Miller’s writing reminds me of standing in front of a vast Delacroix oil painting in the Louvre, my whole body feverish with art, I felt every nerve ending on fire, high, I felt high, really high, blown apart with the oil painting and the emotion.

I shivered with art fever.

It did not help that then after as I finally lurched away from that panoramic painting the next moment I am standing below the spread of Winged Victory.

More fever.

More high.

No wonder I can only do two wings of the Louvre in one go.

It is too much.

Miller is too much in a good way.

Paris is too much in a good way.

I am drowned in images and startled into new ways of seeing things and the words come and she said to me tonight, “just keep writing Carmen, don’t stop writing.”

She’s a sculptor, she has said, without reading a wink of the words that I have written, “you are an artist, go create.”

“I have no money, no resources, no hopes.  I am the happiest man alive.  A year ago, six months ago, I thought I was an artist. I no longer think about it, I am.”

Thanks, Mister Miller.

I no longer think about it.

I am.




Short Story

November 15, 2012

I will most likely post another blog, a “real” blog later this evening when I get back from my out and about.

However, I felt compelled to post this piece.  I wrote it earlier today.  My room mate last night had suggested to me when I feel overwhelmed by Paris and I feel overwhelmed with my book and I am “thinking” that I write something else entirely.

Not my blog.

Not my morning pages.

Not working on my book.

Maybe, just something fun, just a short little story.

I did just that.

The Button Boy

I noticed him as I sat down on the train seat.  His button was so much bigger than mine.  I riffled my fingers discreetly through my hair, touching the edge of my button softly, but not activating the medication.

I did not need it.

I did not feel compelled to send the rush of drugs bubbling through my blood stream like so many tiny champagne bubbles.

That is how I thought of my button, the activator of my tipsy champagne dreams.  Who was that old American who relentlessly hunted the rich and famous, and I am, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, wishing you champagne and caviar dreams, or some such trash.  I knew what he meant though.

I have champagne dreams.

I activate my button at night.  I like to drift to sleep on the bubbles.

This little boy, Pan Asiatic, with short cropped hair did not look like he had champagne dreams.  His button was old, and wired directly from the back of his skull into his ear.  One could see the line of demarcation from the round grey plastic button, the slight elevation, and the thin wire snaking through his hair to the canal of his ear.

He fidgeted often and reached for the button, scratching around it with pudgy fingers.

I wondered if he was teased for it.

I could see him in a schoolyard ring of bullies being pushed back and forth, “Button Boy!  You’re a Button Boy!  Sad face!  Button Boy!  What’s wrong?  Why are you sad? Sad little Button Boy!  Stupid weak Button Boy!”

The buttons had begun being dispensed by the government five years ago; they were meant to provide relief form the gray air and the constant chemical tang that slowly drove a portion of the populace insane.

Modern life was a boon.

The trains so fast, the jobs everyone had, the marriages arranged, the children, the turnstile turning, the false light that was not really sunlight, the smog had long ago covered up the real rays of the sun.

Do not pay attention to the sunlight that is not sunlight.   You might go crazy.

The buttons were the government’s way of dispensing vitamin E and D and what ever else it was that one needed to get from the sun—love, serotonin, chemical relief from the gray, the unrelenting gray of the sky pushing down on you.

Until the government had discovered that all one needed to do was get enough vitamin D into the populace, the rates of suicide had been extreme after the last of the true sky had disappeared over ten years ago.

No one wanted to go to work.  Everyone was addicted to soap operas and reality drama shows.  But the work must go on, the ores must be mined, the trains have to run on time.

Have to run on time.

I looked up from my reverie, smoothing my hair again, freshly rinsed light brunette and caramel colored, my hairdresser the only one in my circle that knew I wore a button too.  My friends would be so askance if they knew how sad I was.  How really truly sorrowful I was at my core.

It was not allowed, this sadness.

Only efficiency.  I could not be efficient without my button.  I was tempted to push a little bubble of joy into my blood.  Just a tiny little bump off my button, then I could make it through the day and laugh at the bad jokes my boss told in the meetings and ignore my lunch, I have to be happy and thin at my job, and just a little, maybe just a little before I get off the train.

I turned and looked at my reflection, my lipstick was perfect, but I could stand to reapply.  I saw the little boy staring at me.

We always knew each other, the button people, he knew me for what I really was.  I stared back at him in the reflection of the window.

“Button Boy,” I mouthed, “go die.”

And he did.

He pushed over the doors and he fell in between the train track and the platform.

The news reported later that the government was recalling a batch of buttons again from the lower East side of the town.   It was just another case of a bad government bid, but it was all being worked out, and there would be a new button, a better button, soon.  Be assured, the anchor reported serenely with a warm look glowing from her eyes, be assured.

I clicked off the news steam and pushed my button oh so lovingly, as I sank onto my satin pillows.  I had a black market button, they were the only way to go–expensive, yes, but reliable relief that the government could not guarantee.

The champagne bubbles drained into my blood and I feel asleep with my hands folded across my chest and a small, sad smile on my face.

I would soon be rested for another day of work and smiling, always smiling.

As long as I was smiling, there was nothing wrong.

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