art, fiction

Outside my Window 7:26 – 7:59 P.M.

hijben

A man is standing by the cars outside my window, smoking. He is not a man, really, younger. A boy. But he is wearing a suit like a man. I don’t think it is his car, it is nice. Something with an animal for an emblem. But then again, it is a nice suit.

Turns out it is his car. It seems he didn’t want to smoke in his nice car. He must be a man.

A boy in an orange shirt; bright orange. Oranger than orange, the orange of a blind, elderly fashionista. He is standing in front of the market across. There is no telling what he will look like when he is older. He is wearing glasses, his hair is a mess. One day, he will see, I won’t. Oh well, he went inside.

A woman pushes her daughter on a silly looking carriage. It is shaped like a bike, with a fat seat. She is eating ice cream, the little girl. The mom has a small boy in the other hand; jealous of his sister, probably. I would be.

A whole group. A messily clothed slog of meat walk by. A disturbing amount of floral shirts are among them, despite age. They’ve passed.

A woman in heels heads into the market. I can hear them click from here. I am on the second floor, across.

Two twenty-somethings and a girl in a gray dress stand outside the middle eastern restaurant beside the market. She is smoking, they aren’t. One of the men has his hair up in a bun. I don’t like that, I don’t know why.

The young man in the nice suit and nice car has been sitting a while outside. In the air-conditioning, most likely. It is a decent day. A woman just got in. I only just noticed his scarf, it is floral, too. They are driving away now. It his nice car with an animal emblem, like a leopard, but without spots. They are gone, off somewhere nice, I suppose.

A man walks with his girlfriend in one hand. Not his whole girlfriend, of course, just her hand. In the other he holds a skateboard. It is bright orange, but, at least he is wearing sunglasses.

A girl in an orange scarf passes with her friend. It is a sensible orange, more sluggish. She is talking with her hands outstretched, holding an invisible ball. I can only imagine.

An Asian looking an with blue streaks through his hair passes, drinking Gatorade. It is blue, too.

A man in lime green shoes, violent green, sour–a sour, sour green–he walks by. I can’t see the rest of hm.

A truck just went by. It was dirty, so dirty. The men in the front look dirty; in a good way, an almost-dangerous sort of way.

A woman, carrying her blanket walks by. The blanket is checkered. Black and orange; soft. Two boys, one bigger, one smaller, chase her on bikes. I don’t think she realizes the chase is on. She finds the right song.

A woman walks out of the market. I didn’t see her go in. She isn’t a woman–really, few are. She has a fat face. I wonder why that is all I can see, I hope she sees more.

A girl, maybe three, or four, just ran by, calling for something, or someone.

A man–I think it’s a man–walks by holding a painting. I can’t see the painting. His hair is frizz. He turns. It isn’t a man.

The man I buy coffee from in the morning walks on by. He has very long hair, messy. Off he goes, in the wrong direction of where I’d expect him to be.

The girl, the one who might be four, has found her mother. She is quiet now.

A younger man, a less well dressed one, stands across, he is on the phone. He looks like the boy in the orange shirt. It turns out he won’t be all that handsome after all.

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art, fiction

The Blind Man’s Eighth Shot of Tequila

Walking into a restaurant with a 30% discount on alcohol is the first step on a dark path toward tequila.

“Are you sure?” G asks, pouring the seventh round of shots.

“Who you asking? Me or you?” I boast, trying to figure out the mystery of picking up a slice of lime. G laughs. I get the lime between thumb and pointer. I fill with pride. I take the shot. I blink.

My eyes do a split. When they come back together, my left contact is knocked out of place.

“Shit,”

M sits across from me.

“What?”

“My contact. Does anyone here wear glasses?”

I look around. A girl raises her hand.

“What is your prescription?” I ask, tugging the lens from my eye and accidentally dropping it into the bowl of salt.

She pulls out her glasses. She puts them on.

“Oh, I don’t have a prescription. I just think they look cute.”

I glare at her. My other contact, feeling lonely, begins to itch. I slip it out and flick it somewhere.

I look around.

The world has become food coloring droplets on a paper towel; the consistency of a drowning man’s last thoughts.

I look across at the blob of condensed air that is M.

“It’s a stylistic choice,” he defends the girl.

“Oh, bullshit, it’s mocking the handicapped, next thing you know, crutches will be cool.”

I stare up at the light. It is a pool, shimmering.

“It’s not like that,” M says. I can feel his eyes rolling around his tone.

I grunt. “You’re right, it’s more like black-face.”

M thinks about it. My fingers stumble around the table in search of a glass of water.

“Yeah, except you weren’t enslaved,” M reminds me.

“No,” I shrug, taking a drink of what turns out to be a Vodka Tonic, “just blind.”

I squint at M. It helps. He is giving it some serious thought.

“No,” he decides, “slavery is definitely worse.”

“Yeah,” I sigh, “yeah.”

G’s hand appears out of nowhere. An eighth shot of Tequila.

I can smell it.

*

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art, fiction

Telephone Pole

We got a dog. Mother called it “Lab Mix” because that sounded better than mutt.

My brother and I wanted to name the dog. It was even more important than when we thought it was our job to name our little brother.

We sat in the living room. The lab-mix sat between us.

I wanted to name it Nathan. He wanted to name it Fred.

We bickered terribly. He was bigger than me. So, I was cautious. We bickered so much that Father became distracted from his work. He came upstairs. He sent us to our rooms. As we climbed the stairs, bleary-eyed, we heard Father.

“Telephone Pole!” he called to the dog. It went running. He let it out in the backyard. I watched Telephone pole from my bedroom window, fuming. And that was his name, till he was hit by the UPS man.

I was the only one to see. I cried when I called the police.

But even the police, the EMTs, the firemen, and the Power Grid workers that came, couldn’t save Telephone Pole.

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Kids These Days (Alt.)

Where I spent much of my time as a kid was a magical place.

It was a pirate ship. It was a castle. It was a barracks and a spacecraft. But mostly, it was a rock.

I’m sitting on it now, smoking a cigarette. It feels like a rock.

Coming home is odd. Smoke in the woods is more odd.

Not my smoke, of course. I’m used to that. The smoke over there, in the distance.

I snub out my cigarette, thoroughly, and leave it on the rock. I head for the smoke. The wood becomes dense and the light, thin. I walk for longer than it takes to write about.

I smoke along the way. I always smoke when I’m nervous. I drop the butts on the ground, careful to leave none still lit.

Finally, there is a break in the tide of green. A clearing. A hut. It is crumbling and dark with rot. What looks like crusty old frosting hangs over the door. A crutch lays in the dirt beside it.

Black smoke seeps from the windows. I go up to the door, cautiously. I knock. The sound is more of a thump. The door is soft. I frown.

I knock again; my hand breaks right through what feels like gram-cracker. I peer inside. It seems warm, too warm, and smoky.

“Hello?” I ask the room.

No answer. I push the door gently. It crumbles into a heap at my feet. It reeks of sweetened rot. I step over it, into the hut.

I peer through the smoke, eyes watering. Two shapes move in the corner. I take a step back and hold up my fists like someone who knows how to fight.

“Hey. I’ve just come to make sure you’re alright. There’s a lot of smoke in here. I just,” I stop as one of the shapes stands, then the other.

I relax as they get closer. They are just children. Big fat ones. They sway like drunkards. I put down my hands.

They don’t say a word. A boy and girl. The girl is chewing on something. The boy frowns at the door behind me. They come forward. Their hair is grime and their eyes, glazed.

“Hey, hold on!”

They don’t stop. A bit of drool hangs from the girl’s plump lips.

They lunge, around me. I flail like an idiot, smoke in my eyes. When I come to my senses I see the children crouched on the floor shoveling bits of the gram-cracker door I’d walked through into their heavy mouths.

I stare at them.

“What the–?”

They are making noises as they eat. I feel sick. They consume the door in great big handfuls. I back further into the room. The putrid smell grows stronger. I look to the stove, pouring smoke. I look around for water.

A bucket in the corner, a faucet.

I douse the flames, hand over my mouth. The room slowly clears. I take a seat on the edge of a stool and watch the children slowly fall asleep on the fetid pile of gram-cracker crumbs. I shudder.

I look around the hut. Something in the corner catches my eye. I step toward it. I know what it is before I reach it. My stomach knows.

A woman, slumped against the wall, dead. Skin blackened by fire, eyes milky white, and frizzled white hair matted over the ears.

I look closer, something is wrong with the nose.

“Oh hell no,” I mutter.

I look back at the sleeping children.

Then back to the nose.

There is no mistake, someone’s been chewing on it.

I stand up. I step on the hand of the little sleeping girl as I dash from the house.

I feel something crack.

I don’t care. I’m gone.

I manage to follow my trail of burnt out cigarettes back to my rock.

The End.

**For an alternate version of this story, click the image below:

kids_these_days

 

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art, fiction

The Red Headed Mutant

K and I
Liked to go to a playground
Near our house
It was a big wooden castle

It was built when I was a baby
I know because there are pictures
But none of the other pink hairless things at school believed me
Because S (A thing called a Hot-Girl)
called me a liar
and
What are pictures
Against the word of a Hot-Girl?

In the sandy part
By the swings
There were two things
The Homeopathic Doctor later called
Bullies
(Which are deformed things
that used to be children
but became mutated
after a series
of failed experiments
performed on them
by adults)

They cornered K and I
K stood back as they focused on me
“Take off your socks!”
they yelled
So I took them off
And they put them on my hands
And rubbed sand in my hair
They kept us there for over an hour

While they were distracted with me
K ran off
One of them went after him
I was left with the other
A Big Red-Headed Mutant
He kept pushing me in the sand
Told me he was going to bury me alive
He told me to start digging my own grave
All of a sudden the
Whole business
Began to seem quite silly
So I decided to leave
“YOU CAN’T LEAVE”
I just kept walking
He followed close behind and kept yelling
“STOP”
“No”
“Come back and dig”
“I don’t want to be buried”
“YOU DON’T HAVE A CHOICE”
I shrugged and kept walking
Till I reached the exit
Leading to the hill
Which led home
As I approached the gate
I saw The Homeopathic Doctor
run up over the hill
She looked at me
Then at
The Big Red-Headed Mutant
And she began to grow
Taller and taller
Taller than I’d ever seen her
She blocked out the sun
She grew so big
And her eyes so angry
She transformed into
MOTHER

The Big Red-Headed Mutant
POOFED from existence

I turned around and found only
The footprints
In the sand
Where he had stood
A moment ago
When I turned back
The Homeopathic Doctor was back
She waved me over and hugged me
She carried me back down the hill
A few weeks later I saw
The Mutant who’d chased K
But I never again saw
The Big Red-Headed Mutant
I wonder what MOTHER did with him

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art, fiction

The Repenter

Mother and I got off the T at Fenway. The homeless roamed about outside 711. There was one, a bit off from the horde, sitting on the ground, eyes closed. Mother told me to go to that one. I did. The smell was thick and unpleasant.

“Excuse me, may I talk with you for a minute?” I said. He looked up. He was young. His beard was all patches, crowding his dirty face.

“Okay,” he said; his voice clear and pleasant.

“I have an assignment for school. I have to find someone less fortunate than myself and ask them how they ended up that way.”

The man frowned.

“So you think you are more fortunate than I?” he said, looking around himself and smiling. My cheeks burned, but I managed a half-nod.

“Hm. Well, good. If you must know, I am this way by choice. I am punishing myself.”

“For what?” I asked.

“For what my soul has done.”

He chuckled at the confused look on my face.

“I have the soul of Adolf Hitler,” he said without humor, “do you believe in reincarnation?”

I shrugged. “I think Mother does.”

“Smart lady. Well, I spent a long time exploring the idea of reincarnation. That led me to this festival, here in Boston. It was a sort of communal meditation to feed off of each other’s energy and see our past lives. And, as you might guess, I saw Adolf Hitler. I didn’t just see him. I felt him, all of his hate.

After that, I came right here to this spot, sat down, and here I will stay until the universe feels penance has been paid.” He smiled again, awkwardly.

“Penance?” I asked.

“Yes, payment for my sins. I thought about chopping off a limb or perhaps burning myself a little to speed up the process but, it seems Hitler was a coward as well.” He sighed.

“Oh, okay.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Is that what you needed?” He asked.

“I-I think so.”

“Lovely, well, have a nice day then.” The man who was Hitler laid down onto his side and began to snore. I turned around and found Mother standing next to the street. She saw me and quickly dropped her cigarette behind her back. I rolled my eyes and walked towards her.

“Get what you need?” She asked, chewing a bit of gum.

“I guess.”

“Great! What should we get for lunch?”

“You choose.”

“Sushi it is!”

 

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