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, meaning 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 their pictures of dogs as social media profiles. All I’ve had to eat today are the stale chocolate chips I found in the drawer of 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...
Cake in the morning

Cake in the morning

The wedding cake sits uncut in the grand hall. Lights twinkle and dance around the room, through gold streamers hanging from the ceiling. But on my wedding night I find myself conversing with myself. Only myself. Those thoughts not worth sharing, or too personal, or too embarrassing to share. With friends or anyone else. Age has never been a hindrance to me. Nor would I let it be tonight. Not wearing (dad)-blue jeans and New Balance shoes with a hoodie stamped with my daughter’s college. Not ravaged by divorce, or bittered by tragedy, or lost completely in the unending march of time. That is not me. But she, my beautiful 19-year-old bride, so pure in white, glowing so earnestly in the center of the room. Still young enough to understand that you must give off light, not reflect it. Most people have none. She, so young, is willing to be my wife out of the innate respect that come from connection; the deep feeling inside that transcends milieu, that should be called love (though, certainly not of the natural, meet-cute kind Hollywood would have us create from dreams and fantasies). And I, myself, being the only person with whom I can discuss it. I have no desire to be… used up? Not at all. Well one might think that it isn’t really their choice. Time has a funny way of taking everything from you, including your youthful vigor. If I might be so bold? You might. Focus not on how you might stay young. Focus instead on who you are no matter what your age. I am seventeen years...
Rusty

Rusty

She was known around the neighborhood. We called her Rusty because there was a rumor going around, probably started by one of the kids who didn’t know anyway, that the hair between her legs was the red color of rust and aren’t the neighborhood kids so funny? I didn’t know really what she did. I asked my older brother why no one in the neighborhood would talk to her, only cars from the other side of Empire Street. He laughed and he slapped me upside the head and told me not to be an idiot. “You know what she does,” he said. “I don’t.” My brother stared at me. He said, “She has sex for money. She’s a prostitute. You think she is standing outside at the end of the block for what? She waits, they come. They pay.” As far as I knew paying for sex was something that only happened in movies and it made me feel some strange kind of way in my stomach I can’t describe. Who comes and who pays? Teachers at school maybe. Or the people I see on television. My brother shook his head. “It’s no one we know,” he said. “Guys who come up from the sewer.” I was 10 years old and only starting to understand how the world works. I went one Saturday afternoon after a bad rainstorm and asked her about it. I was a scrawny kid with glasses and probably not at all threatening and she looked down at me with a crooked smile and patted my head with her hand. Her nails were long, too long I thought,...
An Old Man’s Story

An Old Man’s Story

I’ve discovered both how long, and how short my story is. I know how much can happen in a moment, but also that, in the end, all moments will drown in the waves of time. I know how you can miss a forest by only looking at the trees. I must deal with my importance, and my insignificance, and try to find a balance between the two. I get lost somewhere in the middle, knowing that what I do and what I say and what I feel is both eternal, and fleeting. An old man’s story I still remember how her skin felt beneath my fingers. Because I am old now I have had a chance to look back and understand things I never understood before. I can appreciate these moments, keep them from slipping away from me. I have no regrets. My only sadness is that both my wife and my son are gone before me. My wife was a good woman. She went in her sleep. When I think of her, I think of her young. I remember her smiling, soft to touch and light to laugh. The way I married her. The way we were to each other inside, and out. My son’s death was less so. He was a pilot for a cargo company. He flew all around the world. On a return trip from South Africa one night near Christmas he ran out of fuel about fifty miles east of Nova Scotia. He was forced to land his plan in the freezing water of the Atlantic Ocean. He jumped into the water without his...
Only kids keep neighborhood secrets

Only kids keep neighborhood secrets

The neighborhood My feet are soaked from the rain. My socks are no protection from the hole in the sole of my shoe. I should have had it fixed. A bearded figure in a long overcoat is sloped crossing the street ahead of me, walking with an awkward gait that sways him in my direction. The man’s gloved hand reaches out at me, “Buddy you got a quarter?” His coat has the name Franklin sewn onto the breast. “Is that all you want?” I ask him back. “A quarter?” He coughs into his fist. “See,” he says, “if I ask for a quarter people usually gimme a dollar. And if I ask for a dollar they don’t give me nothing at all. So I ask for a quarter and I see what happens.”  “Why not ask for five?” “Shit,” he coughs again. The coat doesn’t fit right. Franklin. “Shit. Nobody carries cash around anyway. All I can do to buy a sandwich. So you got a quarter or what?” I have a quarter. A tip. Running an errand for Mama Yea. I dig into my pocket and drop the silver coin into his hand. I keep walking down the sidewalk, and his voice follows me through the rain. He says, “Hey buddy!” Says, “You got a dollar?” My neighborhood is an old neighborhood. Storefronts sit vacant with For Sale signs in broken windows. Buildings that once housed business and industry alive are hollowed out now, dead and empty. Looming over dusty lots and streets so potholed they look like Swiss cheese. The ghost of Old Man Tate haunts this block of Empire...