Monday, February 24, 2014

Three Years

This is a sad little story that I cobbled together. Johnny and Audrey never did part well. I think for both their sakes, they'd one day need to speak again. I don't know if it'd end this well, or go even worse, but the words had power.

This started out as just an attempt to write something new for the blog. I was feeling bag for the lack of updates with my fiction, so I got to work writing something last night. In other news, the first draft of the book is almost done.

We're making progress, guys. I'm excited.

They sat together in the room. She was drunk, as usual. It always started with one little glass that graduated into the full bottle. She had started drinking to forget her pain, a lost infant and a spouse far, far away. The baby's memory faded and the husband returned, but that didn't help her put down the bottle. The fights started then, sporadic at first, until peace became the exception with arguments the norm. She drank to forget those, too.

Eventually, her cure-all had turned into her poison.

"Why're you here?" she asked, a bottle of whiskey held lazily in her hand. She wanted to bring the booze to her lips, to drink herself into oblivion. He just had that kind of effect on her, that tired looking man sitting across the room. She was tired, too, and maybe that's what kept her from raising the booze to her lips.

He shook his head as he stared out the window. It was a messy day, the perfect kind for their meeting, with the rain turning the city into a bad watercolor. Headlights punctuated the picture every so often before zooming by. It left him feeling lonely, a reminder that the world has passed him by a long time ago. No, not just him.

It had left them both in the lurch.

"I missed you, Audrey." It was the most honest thing he'd said to her in years. It was a chance that he took, a gamble that left him nice and vulnerable.

That's why her laugh cut so deep. "I try to kill you, and you miss me? You're a masochist, Johnny Sinclaire."

"I've been known to be worse." He clasped his hands and looked down. He was a charming man, with quick smiles and sweet words. His lines had tickled her ears and warmed her cheeks, along with other things south of her smile. The memory brought a familiar longing, but that's all it was: a memory. Now he was an old man, aged before his time by cruel experience. Something inside whispered that she was responsible.

It only made her angrier. "Oh? Yeah? How about a fag? You ever been a nancing fairy, Johnny? Drop your trousers for any many on the street?"

His eyes narrowed. "No. I don't recollect that I ever did."

"You don't? Maybe you were just blocking out the memories, Queen Sinclaire. I've heard it can be a real traumatic experience, discovering that you're a fag. But don't worry, maybe it's just like Freud said. You're stuck on some anal phase because your mother didn't love you enough. Don't worry, though, I hear modern medicine can treat even your type." She wanted to hurt him, to make him scream, so he'd turn to violence and drive away that nagging bit of guilt. If Johnny hurt her, that meant Audrey's hurting him was right and fair. She waited for that absolution in the form of a growl, a lurch, of something delicate shattering as he made his approach.

She was sorely disappointed.

"You done?" he asked softly. "Or you gonna call me a Red, too? Komrad Sinclaire, sitt'n here at your service. Maybe you'll say I got some Jew or negro in my family line? Live'n proof of some kinna race traitor? I'm afraid I ain't got the bushy eyebrows or a big enough nose, but hell, what do I know? You seem to know more about me than I ever did about myself. So have at it. You tell me what I am, and I'll try my best t'live up to what you want." He watched her, waiting for a fresh attack. It came slower than she would have liked. Audrey was used to shouting matches and name calling, but never this. There was no hate to feed off of, no anger to send her to a boiling frenzy, only a silence that left her feeling emptier than when he had arrived. 

"You're... you're a fuck'n ragman, Johnny," Audrey said, aiming a little closer to home, "You eat people. You pried your way back from hell, with no thought of man or God. Jew? Negro? Don't delude yourself! You're worse than a Troll, with their stupid eyes and warish ways. What could be worse? Not even a devil, because at least they never had a choice in the matter. You? You were a man once, and you chose to stay as something worse. You should have put a gun in your mouth a long time ago and drank deep of that bullet cocktail. But here you are, scared to die and limping through a half-life not worth living."

She had hit the mark. His ice blue eyes left the window and pierced right through her, giving her a look that left her shivering. The old Johnny was still there, alright, complete with all of the fury he had known in a previous life. But then he lowered his head and closed his eyes. The old Johnny was there, true, but there was something new, too. It bothered her. Over the years he had changed, grown, moved on from their childish fights and to something more.

She hadn't, and it hurt.

They sat quietly, with a string of cars passing them by. Audrey held on to her bottle for dear life, while Johnny faced the street on his lonesome. Why had he come? He didn't know at this point. It wasn't to be a punching bag, though he expected it before he ever passed through the door. Did he want to set things right, or did he just want to be right? That was the question the man faced. Finally, he broke the silence. "I get why you're mad at me, Audrey. I don't blame you. I was a bad man, and a worse husband. I hurt you in a million ways, and I woulda kept going if you let me. But it's been three years. Three fuck'n years." His hands clasped together, each seeking comfort in the other. He was uncomfortable, but then, apologies never came naturally to a man who was always right. 

"Forget me. Put down the bottle, and push me away. I didn't come back from the dead t'haunt you, Audrey."

Her jaw clenched. Tears burned in Audrey's eyes, just as her throat burned for a drink. "You have a high opinion of yourself, bastard! Haunting me? As if you ever had the power! You were nothing then, and you've not come far since." She raised the bottle in the air. It caught the night light, leaving the best moonshine in the state shimmering. "Here's a toast to you, Johnny! To inflated self-importance! May you never lose it!" She pulled back the bottle, waiting for the easy release that whiskey always delivered.

It never arrived. Johnny's hand struck out as quick as a snake, giving the bottle a one-way to ticket to the wall. A thousand little shooting stars filled the apartment before making their way to the floor. Audrey stared blankly. Johnny looked away, clenching his fist.

"I never had the balls t'do that before," Johnny explained, "I was always afraid of what might happen if you didn't get yer booze. The shakes, the tremors, I'd seen it in boys overseas. It wasn't someth'n I wished on you. But then, maybe that woulda been best, the loving thing to let you suffer. I was too weak then. Too weak t'handle yer drinking on my own, too weak to keep love'n you when you needed it the most. We said 'through better or worse,' but I never could quite handle that last part. When you needed me most, I let you down.

I'm sorry."

He pushed up from the ratty recliner, his eyes sweeping across the pictures hanging from the walls. They were what you'd find in most any house, pictures of mothers, fathers, and assorted assemblies hanging in the periphery. Most of the photographs featured a happy couple, eager and ready to face the world head-on. The glass on their frames had long since been shattered, but even then, it was obvious she was the most beautiful woman in Chicago, with some stupid bastard lucky enough to have landed her. There was love in their eyes. Together, there was nothing they couldn't do.

Except keep their marriage alive.

Johnny Sinclaire stepped to the door. It was past time for him to leave. He'd lingered here for three years in his heart, hating and loving her in equal parts. It was three years too long.

Audrey dug her nails into the sofa. The tears were running steadily now, and not even she could lie about their source. She wanted to scream for him to stay, to remain, for another chance between them. But Audrey was a drunk, not a fool: they'd lost any hope a long time ago. As Johnny walked away, she watched whiskey dry on the wall. Words twisted in her throat, straining to be released, a little more desperate with the man's every step. She was frightened, but it was only natural.

The truth was always scary.

"I loved you, you know."

Johnny paused at the door. His chest tightened, and for just a moment, he thought he felt his heart skip a beat. But that was impossible. His heart had stopped a long time ago.

"I loved you too. With all my heart."

The door creaked shut, leaving her alone.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Elves and Ogres

It's poorly written, but this is something from the heart. I had a chance meeting with a customer at my job, and I think it was for the better. You can find kindness in the strangest of places.

Even a Home Depot.

It was nothing special, really. Just another customer looking for a quote. He had rental properties and wanted new carpet. I just so happened to be smart enough to hit the right keys on the computer. He smiled, I smiled, and we proceeded to dance through social niceties.

So when did the conversation turn to dreams? The customer's was construction and real estate, anything to do with creating or selling homes. I listened, fascinated. It's hard not to be taken by another's passion, especially when it's their profession. I asked questions, he answered, and each response provoked a little more excitement.

Then he asked me if I had a dream.

I went silent. Nobody had ever asked me that. Too often, nobody cared. And what if they did? "I want to be a writer," I might say, shyly knowing how impossible that hurdle might be. "Oh," they might reply, "And what sort of book is it?" I'd then stutter and mumble through the ideas, of elves and ogres, fedoras and firearms. It was enough in rural Mississippi to get you stared at.

I quickly learned to stay quiet.

Yet he asked, and I told him, first with halting words, and then increasingly energetic explanations. He listened, and laughed, and asked questions. I explained, and our enthusiasm grew. He admitted he might not be a writer, but he cheered me on, mentioning incorporation, tax write-offs, and cracking the formula of a great story. We parted shaking hands and smiling.

It was nothing special, really, but it meant the world to me.

Monday, February 10, 2014


How do you write a tombstone for a friendship? I've had my share of falling outs, and they're never easy. You can never find the right words. The ones you have are either too long or too short, and never quite carry the meaning you want to convey. Still, you want to say something. Isn't that the human condition? We can't stand silence, so we strain at clumsy words.

This is an older piece that I thought I'd put on here, as I've run out of my backlog. It's something personal and from the heart. Losing a friend is never easy, but slowly we soldier on even if our thoughts linger.

Maybe you won't hate it too much.

I never thought you’d leave, but I always knew you would.

You were too good for me. That was the plain and simple truth of it all. You were enlightened, kind, and had dealt with a lifetime’s worth of bullshit from yours truly. It had all the ingredients for an unhappy ending. I should have seen it coming before it did.

I guess I didn't want to.

It’s been over a month since I saw you, and it’s probably the last time that we’ll ever meet. I see you in songs that we shared, and every article about equality, regardless of race, gender, or other adjective, brings back your memory. Maybe you gained nothing but heartache from our time together; I hope that isn’t so. But if it is, know your suffering wasn’t in vain. I gained so much from you. You were a guiding light, a central star, and you pulled my life together. I’ll continue to err and lose my way, but my path is a little straighter for your influence I wouldn’t be who I am now if it hadn’t been for you.

I love you, Courtney.

I always knew you’d leave.

I just never wanted you to. 

Monday, February 3, 2014


I'm currently still writing on the book, and I've pretty much eaten through my buffer. That means you get a bunch of self-righteous rants! Recently I started thinking, however, and you know that can't be good. This is just a bit of steam that I was letting off. Hopefully I can tone the negativity down and aim for something a bit higher than depression.

I'm afraid.

There, I said it. Hell, I'll even add an adjective: I'm deathly afraid. The world is a scary place where so often, dreams just don't come true. It's not because of a lack of commitment or talent, but the fact that life is just so often unfair. It's a realization that's been pounded in my head more and more as time passes, and it frankly freaks my shit.

I might never get to where I'm going, the vaunted position of writer. I have two failed books in front of me, and a potential third coming down the pipeline. The experiences haven't been without their uses; I've honed my skill through every experience, getting a little better at my craft. Hell, it's not as if I can stop writing even if I'm crushed a third time. It's an obsession deeper than any I've ever known. 

I'm just tired of failure. I can handle a third failure, but I dread the fourth time, and the fifth time, and everytime ahead where I'll put my heart in something only to see it ripped out. I just want to taste success, no matter how slight. I want to know that I'm on the right track, and that one day, I'll achieve my dream.

But we're not assured that in life, and that makes it scary as hell.