As long as love I live: A short story on the nature of people

As long as love I live: A short story on the nature of people

Yesterday We stand in front of long white walls: No pictures or wallpaper or paintings or even scuff marks to show that once, once, we had lived between them. The photographer takes two pictures. One I will send to grandma, where it will sit on her mantel next to old pictures of granddad and mom young, and the Christmas decorations she forgets to put away. She doesn’t put up pictures of Jesus, thought: She is more into the fantasy of lights and colors; the notions of goodness within herself rather than from the Book written by men. She goes to church: She goes for the people, and for the coffee. She goes to see her friends. Nessa and I stand arm in arm. Nessa weeps softly with her head against my shoulder. The photographer steadies his camera, keeping his head down and covered so as to keep the whole thing impersonal. Distant, professional. But I know you, I think and I tell him with my eyes, I know you from the streets. From the alleyways. From the pictures of crimes and rapes in alleyways that you captured and published next to boxes of text trying to explain what happened to our world and all the people in it. I can hear the streets outside moving in ways they didn’t use to. The sun shines now in a way it never did before. A year ago the streets were empty and dusty and alone. There was no one. Feral dogs through trash bins. A year ago the only shouts came from rooftops, conversations between windows, arguments over telephones, the distant...
An exploration of the night and safe places

An exploration of the night and safe places

They kicked the family out of the apartment upstairs and I saw them with their things on the side of the street. A mother and she has two kids – a girl and a boy probably who are 8 and 9 years old. I would hear her yelling almost every night and she hit them more than once. But that’s not the reason they were kicked out. She couldn’t pay the rent either. She couldn’t keep her temper and she couldn’t work enough hours at the car wash down the street to come up with $750 every month. It’s hard to be a single mother, mom says, but she still has pop so I don’t know how she knows that. I feel like everyone around me is made of thick fudge vanilla and butterscotch: all brown and beige and nondescript. I’m in a glass box in the middle where they can’t get in. They press against the glass, always pushing and trying to get in. Except it’s not really a cage. It’s a fortress. Like a glass pyramid. I can see the world around me, but I’m not a part of it. I’m safe in here, and separated. I tell Gogo, “I keep trying to bring you in, but those beige hands keep pulling you back out. They come in through the door when I try to bring you inside. I want to bring you in with me so you can be safe with me and forever.” Gogo laughs quick, like an incredulous laugh and she pushes the hair out of her eyes. “That’s so chauvinist of you. That’s...
Everything so beautiful and dirty and absurd

Everything so beautiful and dirty and absurd

My house was at the edge of the block, on the corner of 166th and Jackson in the Crenton neighborhood of a mid-sized American city. With dusty roads where all the trees died because the city just let them. The sidewalks were cracked and crooked and many mothers died stepping on them. The lawns were dirty and made of pebbles and broken glass. Rojo ran the neighborhood and we all went to him for whatever we needed. Cigarettes or whatever. He was three years older and seventeen when he dropped from high school. He told me his stories about sex so that I would know when I was ready to have sex on my own. His girlfriend Gogo he would tell me stories about. He went down on her once and, after fifteen minutes, mad that he hadn’t yet given her an orgasm/that she hadn’t gotten off/finished yet, he bit her until she screamed. She left him after that and disappeared somewhere down south where her uncle lives by the water. This was around the same time that health-conscious, vegetarian rapper Black Choy was attacked by pro-beef activists outside of his studio. They cut him with a knife and put him in the hospital. Is there a connection? Rojo loved hamburgers and Black Choy was playing a show at the Alamo that night. The the Jackson Street venue where everybody played music at some point or another. I tried to sing there once with a death metal band called Adagio. They didn’t book us for another show after that, but they give everybody in the neighborhood at least one...
From the long streets of American cities

From the long streets of American cities

The girls are chain-smoking cigarettes outside waiting for someone to notice them not noticing anyone else (youth in its paradox). The air is a perfect 80 degrees. Winter is over. The people around us are musing, eternally, how much of their lives they’ve spent sitting in cars. There’s trash on the street. Everything is concrete; the city is winning its war on nature. But weeds still come up through the cracks in the sidewalk to take back what they can. We live in the north. We spend our time in the sun. We drink iced tea from plastic cups spiked with whatever we can find. We walk the streets in new sneakers dropped online at early hours from secret sites before anyone else can get them. This is what we do while the rest of the world crumbles. Beauty is still the greatest currency. Except, perhaps, the ability not to feel or care. Being cold is gold. Time is money and it is on our side. To care is to die drowning in someone/everyone else’s problems. This is young, and it’s the only thing we have. People don’t know anything more about us than that. We’re near corner door in the alley where Bella went to get her baby cut. There wasn’t anywhere else she could go, no one to help. A sister far away, I guess, a mother who told her she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place. She wakes up early in the morning to run. She spent her paycheck on new running gear: shoes, shorts, headbands. I sleep in late and wait for her...
As long as we fly

As long as we fly

That was a tough time, and it seemed to have no end. I didn’t know how to get away and I didn’t think I could. The reason why people commit suicide/why they take their own life… the reason why science hasn’t (yet) fully taken the place of religion. Science saved my life, you see, but it didn’t make me want to live. It is questions, gnawing questions like Poppy on a chicken bone that keep me awake at night and then put me into deep sleeps I try and stay in forever. Wrapped in blankets. Wrapped tight around me like a burrito. That’s how Frank would say it. Say it to me. “I’ll wrap you up like a burrito.” Can he answer these questions? Can he tell me why I feel the way I do? To the hospital We rushed downstairs. Gogo is bleeding in my arms. My roommate Mike was jerking off/on in his room. He has a car. He didn’t expect anyone to open his door at that moment. His face was red. “Don’t you…” “We have to go to the hospital. “Don’t you knock?” Gogo bleeding and her eyes going back in her head turning white. The fan spinning reflecting in the sweat on her forehead. I say and I have no time, “We need to go the hospital now right now.” The night is quiet at least. No one on the road, anywhere. One small blessing. Warm summers everyone up north at their cabins, sitting on lakes and drinking beer with fire and fire-roasted meat in front of them. No one on the street to...
A quantifiable attraction

A quantifiable attraction

The physical feeling that comes from attraction: it’s indescribable; so powerful it can’t have an official name or definition. You’re in love, and say you can’t live without the feeling. Then say what exactly it is you can’t live without. The smile. The sense of humor? Or just the feeling when they’re near, so powerful and yet, again, so hard to describe; near impossible to put into words. A quantifiable attraction to some can’t be thought of as anything else but magic. Like Charles Bukowski in Factotum, “I kiss her. She answers with her tongue. Women are magic.” The feeling you get when there are no words to describe the way you’re feeling, called alexithymia. It comes from Greek; means an inability to find words for emotions. But if they can’t be spoken, perhaps they can be written instead. I sit and daydream of pretty girls in pretty dresses, stuck surrounded by people who use pictures of their dogs for their social media profiles. All I’ve had to eat today are stale chocolate chips I found in the drawer in the library at the Burg. All I’ve had to drink is water that tasted like cement and iron. But that isn’t the reason for this feeling deep in my stomach. I lean my head on my fist because I’m bored and if I don’t it might fall chin to chest and into sleep. My eyes are tired, my eyelids are heavy. The warm air and constant drone of the TV up front like a lullaby begging me to stop fighting. Turn daydreams into real dreams. Turn off the sun and stay in...