The Best Part of the Song
The Running Girl
An Interview with the Zombie
How to Make Balloon Animals without Balloons
Wasted Wishful Thinking
and many, many more
The Best Part of the Song
The Running Girl
An Interview with the Zombie
How to Make Balloon Animals without Balloons
Wasted Wishful Thinking
and many, many more
He loaded up his laundry bag with dirty clothes. He went through his quick mental checklist:
Laundry detergent – Running low but… Check
Fabric Softener – Check
Quarters – Check
Beer – Check
He was all set to go downstairs to the laundry room of his apartment building when a text came in from his friend.
– Hang 2nite? Nu bar opened Shud b gud
– Can’t 2nite
– Y not?
– Laundry nite
– U gotta B kidding???
– This is worse than ur excuse two weeks ago
– Wut excuse?
– U said it wuz garbage nite
– It was
– I got a nu cool way 2 do laundry
He looked down at his phone for a moment and contemplated texting the Laundry Game out. It would take to long to type it out. He called his friend to explain. Five rings then right to voice mail.
– I just called you… Pick up
– Can’t right now
– Dropping a deuce
– Call u wen done
He went back to gathering his laundry essentials and headed down the stairs. The laundry room had multiple duties as it was also the garbage room, the storage room, a bicycle rack, and it also held the office of the building’s superintendant.
He started to unload his laundry basket filled with clothes, detergent, fabric softener, and a 6 pack of beer when his phone rang. He checked the caller ID and saw it was his friend calling back.
“What’s up mother-fucker?” He sang in a falsetto voice.
“Yo, yo yo. What’s this cool new way of doing laundry, brother?” His friend asked.
“First things first.”
“You were taking a shit when I called?”
“You texted back that you were dropping a deuce and that you couldn’t talk.”
“You couldn’t talk but you could text?”
“Sure, I’m not an animal.”
“Kinda gross dude.”
“You wouldn’t have known I was defecating unless I told you. Had I picked up the phone you would have heard the bathroom echo.”
“The bathroom echo?”
“Yes, no fabrics in there except a bathmat. Hence the echo.”
“But you can still text?”
“But not talk?”
“Yes… I’m not an animal.”
“Whatever dude, it’s still gross.”
“Whatever man, tell me about this new game you got going.”
“I call it Drunken Laundry.”
“How do you play?”
“Simple really, you grab a sixer of beer, more of course if you have more players and you bet on if the machine is going to fuck up or not.”
“Fuck up or not? What does that even mean?”
“Yeah the machines are real old. They jacked up the prices from $1.50 a wash to $2.50 a wash but never upgraded the machines, they only upgraded the prices.”
“Doesn’t seem right.”
“Totally not, but my requests have fallen on deaf ears so instead of continuing a fruitless endeavor, I’ve created a game of it.”
“Okay so how do you play?”
“You take a drink every time the machine gets stuck on the cycle.”
“On the cycle?”
“Yeah if it says rinsing which should last no more than a few minutes and is stuck on the rinsing cycle. You take a drink.”
“Seems easy enough.”
“Yup, any time machine gets stuck you take a drink,”
“I’m assuming it gets stuck a lot otherwise there would be no game.”
“Exactamundo. Then there’s the one part if the machine shuts off completely mid-cycle you have to down the whole beer.”
“Sounds like good times. How many sixers you playing with tonight?”
“I just got the one, so I’m letting certain rules slide.”
“Okay I’m in.”
“Yeah, let me go to the liquor store and I’ll be right over I think I want to play Drunken Laundry tonight.”
“You sure? I usually just play it alone. I think I’m the only one that finds true enjoyment from it.”
“Nope, I’m totally in.”
“That’s cool. Can you do me a favor before you come by?”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“I only have the one sixer here, can you get more beer, a bottle of vodka, and a lighter?”
“No problem, I get the more beer and vodka part but what’s the lighter for?”
“I’m going to take Drunken Laundry to the next level tonight.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Flaming shots, really?”
“Every time the laundry machines eat your change you have to take a shot.”
“Okay, I’m on my way.”
“Oh, one more thing?”
“Bring some laundry detergent.”
I drank and I slept and then I drank and slept some more.
I did it again and again.
I drank and I slept.
I mourned not the loss, but that I was broken.
To sleep is to escape.
To escape is the chance to live again.
She ran along the boardwalk, as she did every morning. It was her time to herself, her time to clear her head. Thoughts of the day’s agenda crossed her mind. She went through the small list in her mind: oil change, laundry, grocery shopping. She stopped going through her mental list when she saw him sitting there, outside the café, reading the newspaper. She slowed down as she approached him. Oblivious to her standing in front of him slightly out of breath, he turned the page of his paper.
“What are you doing?” She asked slightly out of breath.
He looks up from the paper and says, “Oh sorry, I didn’t see you there. I’m just reading the paper. Seeing what’s what with the world today. Out for a little run, are you?”
“You know I am.”
“Yes, I guess I do.”
“What’s your endgame here?”
“I’m sorry my what?”
“Your endgame. What do you expect?”
“I really don’t understand what you’re trying to say?”
“What do you want me to do? To love you back? For me to fall madly in love with you.”
“Madly in love?”
“Yes, because I don’t do that.”
“You don’t do that?”
“No, I don’t. That’s just not me. It’s not what I do. So I ask you again, what is your endgame here?”
“I’m going to answer that question.”
“Good, because I would like an answer.”
“I’m going to answer it but first I have a question for you, and then after you respond I promise I’ll answer you.”
“Okay, what’s your question?”
“What are you running from?”
She looked puzzled by his question and he continued, “You are both figuratively and literally running away from something.”
“No, I’m not.”
“You are. I see it everyday when you run out there. It’s something more than exercising. There’s getting/staying in shape but this is something else entirely. I can’t quite place it but I’m getting that there’s a sense of sadness in your eyes when you run. So I ask again, what are you running from?”
She paused as if she was going to say something but she didn’t have the words to speak. He held up his finger, indicating to her to hold her thought. “Before you answer me, I want you to think about it. Take the rest of the day and then sleep on it. I’ll be here again tomorrow morning when you run on by. I’m not trying to pry by asking you this, but I think it might be good for you to talk about whatever it is that happened. I might not even be the person that you’re comfortable telling but what I’m trying to say, albeit in a very long-winded way, is that you don’t need to run anymore. I’ll let you think about it, but for now I must be going. Lots to do today, lots to do.” He took the last gulp from the paper cup and grabbed his newspaper and started walking down the boardwalk.
“Wait,” She yelled after him. “You still haven’t answered me. What’s your endgame here?”
“Tomorrow.” He said. “I’ll answer everything that you want to know tomorrow. After you’ve acknowledged my question of course.” With that, he walked away from her to begin the rest of his day.
She stared as he continued walking down the boardwalk until he turned a corner and was out of sight. She turned in the opposite direction and continued her morning run. Lots to do today, she thought. Lots to do.
… To Be Continued
Secrets of a Self-Proclaimed Ninja
Hello, She Lied
New Years Day
Tidbits from a Timid Fellow
Wasted Wishful Thinking
Interview with a Zombie
and many, many more…
An Open Letter to 2016
2016. Wow. What a shit show, but you know what? I’m still standing motherfucker.
I survived it all – both minor and major setbacks. I survived a lengthy worker strike, rejections from various publications, car troubles, money troubles, and a devastating personal loss – but I’m still standing motherfucker.
I’ve watched what you did to other people too. I’ve seen you fuck with them without mercy. I saw them get knocked the fuck down but they got the fuck back up. We cannot and will not be broken. Ever.
So fuck you 2016. You gave it your best shot to knock me out but you failed. You came pretty close a couple of times, but in the end, I’m still standing motherfucker. So fuck you again 2016. Fuck you and good riddance. Go suck a bag of dicks.
So now I’m waiting on you 2017. I’ll be waiting to see what you got. Are you going to try to outdo 2016? Are you going to try and see if you can knock me the fuck out? Do you even have the balls enough to try?
Bring it 2017, because no matter what you dish out to me, I’ll still be standing motherfucker.
He was in the pharmaceutical aisle of Maragliano’s Markets looking for the strongest OTC headache remedy that he could find. He was hung over again, no stranger to that feeling as of late. He narrowed it down to two choices when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He saw an old friend standing there impeccably dressed in business attire, holding a basket of grocery items.
“Hey! I thought that was you. My god, it’s been so long. How’s it going?” His friend asked extending his hand to greet.
He thought to himself, where can I begin?
I cry a lot. It’s been a rough year. My wife left me. Took the kids with her. Came home to a ‘Dear John’ Can you believe that, in this day and age? A letter. Well not really a letter. She wrote in on the Notes app of my iPad. Don’t know how she cracked the complexity of my pass code: 1234. She even took my dog. My dog. She didn’t even like him, but she took him anyway. Said something about it’ll make it easier on the kids. I don’t know, Christ. It all happened so fast that I never saw it coming. I should have though. Small things at first that weren’t noticeable, but in hindsight, were always there. Little things. Passive-aggressive things. They were all there. I just never noticed them. I’m not saying it was totally her fault. I’m surely to blame for some of it, just not all of it. I take full responsibility for calling her the wrong name. Twice. In my defense, it was in the beginning of the relation ship and it never happened again. I don’t know, maybe she held on to it. Held on to resentment. I don’t think she ever forgot. Not all of our 9 years together were bad. It just got to the point where it was getting harder and harder to remember the good times.
She left me, but she kept the house. I was given instructions on when she and the kids wouldn’t be home so I could gather up my things. I packed some clothes into a duffle bag and left everything else there. I never even got a chance to say goodbye. I had no place to go, so I rented a motel room. The kind of place that usually has their clientele pay by the hour. I couldn’t afford a real hotel room. Work had gotten so crazy the past few months that I couldn’t keep up with the workload, so they did what I feared they were going to do – they demoted me. With that demotion came a huge pay cut. With that pay cut I also lost something equally as valuable – my self esteem.
Losing my wife, the kids and the dog was bad enough but then shortly after I got the news that my brother died. This was a sudden loss. He was not sick for a long time and succumbed to the illness. I think that would have made it at least a little bit easier to handle. Not much easier, as the death of a loved one is the hardest thing in the world to endure, but it would have made some kind of sense to me.
In the end, he overdosed on cocaine. I can’t even count the times I told him that shit was going to catch up with him. I even made fun of him and said to him, ‘What 50 year old man do you know that still does coke?’ He would always respond with, ‘Nothing bad can happen to me.’ The doctors told me that his airways were blocked and he died from cardiac arrest caused by a cocaine overdose. I couldn’t believe it. A part of me actually believed him and that nothing bad was ever going to happen, but I was wrong. I was never more wrong in my life. That’s when I began to put all of the blame on myself. I should have done more. I should have been there for him. I should have kept on him instead of relenting. The guilt is something that is unbearable that you try to do anything to numb the pain. For me, I began to drink more and more and more but no matter how much I drank, the pain and guilt was still there. To this day it never has really left me.
I was never much of a drinker. I had my run at it in my younger days but it was just a passing phase. During your twenties it’s almost a rite of passage. Now, it was my only form of respite from the suffering. At one point I even dabbled in my brother’s drug of choice, but it didn’t last long. Cocaine is a young man’s game. I knew it, and my brother should have known also. I stopped almost as quickly as I began.
I remember going out to Slappy’s Bar one time about a month or so after his death. I saw an incredibly attractive girl sitting at the bar alone. She was just sitting there reading a book. I don’t know what it was that made me think that I would even have an inkling of a shot with her, but in my mind I did. I asked the bartender what she was drinking and he told me it was Maker’s Mark on the rocks. I asked him to back her up. I waited at the bar as he told her. She looked over and raised her glass to me and smiled. I walked over there with so much confidence but it quickly dissipated as her beauty immediately intimidated me. I thought to myself, ‘My god, you’re so beautiful’, but my thoughts weren’t kept in my head and I said them aloud to her. How embarrassing. She laughed and said, ‘Madonna once said, “Good looks gets you through the door, but it doesn’t keep you in the room.” I told her that I didn’t know what that means. She smiled and said, ‘One day you will and it will all make sense.’ We had a brief conversation after that; she talked about things that I didn’t understand, political issues, and societal norms – mostly stuff that was way above my head. I cut it short when I came to the realization that I was truly not in her league. Looks wise and intelligence. I made an excuse and left the bar.
I actually felt guilty for going out. Not guilty for going out on my wife after our break up. The marriage was over, nothing to feel guilty about there, but guilty for going out after my brother’s death. I didn’t want to have a good time. I didn’t deserve it. I would actually count the times that I went out and with each time the guilt grew and grew. Eventually, it subsided, but every now and then that guilt still pops up in the back of my mind. Hanging out back there with the rest of my demons. Why should I be out having a good time while my brother is dead?
After his death, what I thought really sucked was how people interacted with me. There were countless people who would call and say, ‘If there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to call.’ I honestly do no know one person that has ever taken up someone on that offer. A part of me thinks that the person offering their assistance knows that you won’t accept it or ever even call them for any kind of help. It’s just something nice to say to someone while they’re in mourning.
Some people don’t know what to say and they stay away, I admire those folks more only for the fact that a lot of people simply say the wrong things. I was told that he’s with god now and he’s in a better place. Really? He’s in a better place? You think there’s a better place than being here with me still? God, you say? God did this? What kind of god do you believe in that would rip apart your life in an instant without any sort of explanation? Just a tip, know your audience before you bring up religion into it. I secretly wish more people wouldn’t know what to say and choose not to say anything at all. There should be more people like those.
There’s also a time frame associated with dealing with someone who’s grieving. I learned that it’s two weeks. After that everyone becomes a ghost. Poof – gone. Even if you did want to reach out to someone for help – I know of nobody that has ever done this – there’s nobody there. Disheartening yes, but I can also understand it as I didn’t want to burden myself on anyone, nor did I want to intrude or barge into anyone else’s daily routines. It made sense to me after a while but at first, it was heart breaking.
In time things do get better, albeit very slowly. Birthdays and holidays seem to be the worst. A feeling of emptiness inside that can never be filled again. They say time heals all wounds. I don’t know if that’s exactly true. Time makes all wounds more tolerable. I think that’s a better description. With time, you become a little bit better with the adjustment.
Through this entire year – the break up, the demotion, living in a motel room, the loss of my brother – I did realize something. I realized that there is something inside of us that keeps us going. I don’t know what it’s called. I don’t even know if it even has a name or what it is exactly that makes us do it, but we keep doing it every day – We wake up. We wake up even though we may not want to and sometimes we might find ourselves screaming to ourselves, ‘Why god, why? You mean I really have to do this all over again? Again. Really? Why?’ But we do it, and we do it, and we do it, in hopes that eventually one day it gets easier. Maybe some day it does. I don’t know if it ever will or does, but we keep doing it anyway. Clinging on to that one last thread. Hope. And maybe, just maybe you get lucky and fortunate enough to have that one person that steps up and takes your mind off of things. Someone that doesn’t say they’ll be there for you if you need anything but someone who will actually sit there with you and say, ‘Man that shit sucks. You’ve had a really shitty year and nothing I can say is going to improve it but you know what? Let’s go out and do something. Even if it’s only for a little while, let’s try to take you mind off of things.’ Or maybe even better yet, they sit there with you and don’t say anything at all. They’re just there. Things are not going to go away completely, they never truly do, but for a small spec of time, maybe they can. And maybe, just maybe you can find your smile again. These were the thoughts that ran through his head as his friend stood before him.
He wanted to tell his friend all of his truth, every single word, but in the end everybody lies. He smiles, extends his hand forward to connect, and responds, “I’m okay. How’s it going?”
His friend starts thinking to himself, where can I begin…
he was heading down a darkened path that he’s never known before. no light, only darkness. the GPS on his phone no longer worked, just a jumbled mess of pixels appearing underneath the cracked screen. he couldn’t remember if he dropped the phone or smashed it in a fit of rage. raging against anything and everything just to feel alive again. he sat down in the alleyway still unaware of his surroundings. he reached into his jacket and pulled out his flask, he filled it with rum, not his first choice in liquor but it was the only thing available to him before he left his house. he had no destination in mind, and didn’t know the walk would eventually find him lost. he thought about calling someone for help, but he couldn’t think of anyone to reach out to. over 50 contacts were in his cracked phone but he didn’t want to burden anyone. he could try to make someone the scapegoat but in the end he realized that this was entirely all his fault. he took a swig from the flask and made a face of disgust. while he did not care for the taste, it was doing its job of numbing him of the pain. he laughed at the irony of it all. there he was lost in a strange part of town trying to wash away his fears and anxiety but at the same time wanted something, anything to get back on track of living. he was alive but no longer living. he had gone months now wishing away his life for things that were unattainable. he took another sip and this time it wasn’t so bad. he was getting used to the taste and that put a new fear into him. he had been drinking more lately, but he dismissed it off as just a phase that he’s been known to go through every now and again. this was different now though, he was afraid that he was using it for assistance out of this long road from hell. he then wondered if maybe it was the cause that brought him down to this hell in the first place. he lost all track of time, not knowing how long he’d been walking before he found the alleyway to rest. he wondered if anyone noticed he was gone. he felt sick and alone. he thought for sure the battery on his phone died but was mistaken when he heard it ringing. no longer able to tell who was calling through cracked glass, he answered the phone.
“hello?” he said
“where are you?” she asked.
“who is this?”
“you know damn well who this is.”
“oh, hi. what’s up?”
“what’s up? that’s all you have to say?”
“it’s a start.”
“where are you?” she repeated.
“i don’t know. i was walking and got lost.”
“look on your phone’s GPS.”
“i can’t, it’s cracked. can’t see a thing.”
“you broke your phone?”
“yes, don’t know if it was on purpose or an accident.”
“have you been drinking?”
“a little bit.”
“what have you been drinking?”
“you don’t even like rum.”
“i’m worried about you.”
“what brought you to this?”
“the meaningless of it all. there’s no point to any of it.”
“there is a point. you have to believe that.”
“at this moment in time, i can’t”
“okay, but there will be a moment that you will.”
“good, then that’s a start.”
“you can’t or you won’t?”
“i can’t. i’m lost.”
“that’s what it feels like.”
“i’ll find you.”
“i’m coming to bring you home. look for the cross streets and i’ll find you.”
with her words a glimmer of hope fell upon him and upon that realization he broke down into tears. things might not be as bad as he thought, possibly there might even be a turn for the better. he wiped his eyes. he was going home.
He awoke with the biggest erection he ever had in his life. He marveled at it for a moment before looking over at her. She was still sleeping. Exposing her ass to him driving him wild. She had a great ass. He remembered reading somewhere that dogs often would present to other dogs. He wondered if, even while sleeping, she knew that she could drive him crazy.
He pushed up against her, and she slightly wiggled. This was it. His ticket had just been stamped for a one-way trip to Lucky Town. He poked her again with what he called ‘his magnificence’. No response. He slowly started to rub her ass. Half-asleep, she rolls over and asks, “Hank, what are you doing?”
“What? Nothing, I just figured you were in the mood.”
“What time is it?”
“I don’t know, 2:30 or so.”
“I know but that never stopped us before.”
“That’s okay. We don’t have to do it.” He paused and thought momentarily, “Can I fuck your tits?”
“Can you what my what?
“Can I fuck your tits?”
“No. Are you out of your mind? Go back to sleep.”
“Come on, look at this thing. It’s magnificent if I do say so myself and you look so fucking hot.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re horny. I’m half-asleep.”
“Okay, how about you don’t have to do anything and I just fuck your feet?”
“I have to wash my feet first.”
“I’m sorry did you say you have to wash your feet first? I said fuck your feet, not wash your feet. Samantha, where are you going?”
She gets up stumbling into their bathroom. She lays a towel down onto the floor and stands on it. Turning on the water, she gets it to the correct temperature that she likes and lifts one foot and plops it down into the sink. She begins scrubbing her foot with soapy warm water. She continues on for a few minutes and tackles the second foot. When satisfied with her results, she dries them both off with the towel she draped on the floor. Still half asleep, she goes back to bed.
“What the hell was that about?” He asked.
“You said my feet stink.”
“I most certainly did not say that. I didn’t say anything of the sort. I was rubbing your ass to get you in the mood and casually mentioned it would be nice if I could fuck your tits and when you said no I asked if I could fuck your feet.”
“I couldn’t get in the mood because I had dirty feet.”
“You don’t have dirty feet. Now where were we?”
“We were going back to sleep. It’s late and I’m tired.”
“But what about all the feet washing? Don’t tell me it was all for naught?”
“Tomorrow? I was hoping for now.”
“Maybe you’re not really horny. Maybe you just have to pee. Go pee.”
“What? No. I don’t have to pee. I want you.”
“I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not going to happen. I’m way too tired.”
“Okay how about this?”
“How about what?”
“How about I just jerk off on your leg while touching a boob?”
With this statement she jolts up in bed. “What the hell is wrong with you?” She asked him.
“What? Too much?”
“There is something seriously wrong with you.”
“I say no to sex and you immediately go to jerking off on my leg while touching my breasts.”
“Not both of them.”
“Just one. That’s all I need. One boob.”
With a disgusted sigh, she says, “Why don’t you just go back to sleep? Even if I were in the mood, you totally killed it.”
Feeling dejected, he left the bed and went into the bathroom. He looked in the mirror and was disgusted with himself. Who in their right mind would offer to jerk off onto the leg of the woman that they love just because she wasn’t in the mood? Who does that? Not thinking too deeply on the subject and also not wanting his erection to go to waste. He decides that he will indeed take matters into his own hands. He’s all set and ready to treat his body like an amusement park when the lights turned on.
She stood there staring at him. He was like a deer caught in the headlights. She kept looking for a moment before walking over to him. Only this wasn’t the bathroom and he wasn’t jerking off. He was hunched over at his desk typing on the computer in his small office. “What are you doing? It’s really late.” She said to him.
“I couldn’t sleep so I thought I would write a little bit.” He replied.
She glances at the desk. A half bottle of whiskey and a well-read copy of Bukowski’s Post Office marked with yellow highlighter lay next to the keyboard. “Did you drink this whole bottle?” She asked him.
“Not all of it.”
“Funny.” She looks downwards at him, sitting at the desk. “Ummm. Where are your pants?”
“I don’t have any on.”
“You’re a real comedian tonight. I can see that you’re not wearing any pants. Where are they? You went to bed wearing them.”
He points towards near the door. There laid his crumpled pajama pants on the floor. “Can I ask why you’re not wearing them any longer?”
“This is how I write now.”
“Okay… That’s new. What are you writing anyway?” She stood behind him and began reading what he had written. “Are you Hank in this story? Is Samantha supposed to be me?”
“No, Well yeah, I mean sort of. No, it’s not us. You know what I mean?”
“No, I have no clue what you mean.”
“It’s hard to explain.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Change it. You make us sound like idiots. Fucking feet and tits? How would you even go about fucking a foot?”
“Well you take the feet and you put them both together and make a makeshift vagina out of them.”
“Please don’t tell me you’ve fucked someone’s feet before we met.”
“Oh no, it’s all research, baby.”
She stands over his shoulder and re-reads it again. “This is not what you usually write about.”
“I’m delving into territories. Broadening my genres.”
“You know I’ll support whatever it is that you want to do, but this isn’t you. This is you trying to emulate someone that you’ve admired since college. This is you trying to see what happens when you take whiskey and a pen to paper together.” She puts her arm around his shoulder and kisses his head. “I think you need to re-find your voice again. Go back to some of the older stuff you written and compare it with some of the newer stuff. You’ll see exactly where you found your voice as your writing became stronger. You have to find it again.”
“That’s not a totally terrible idea. I can do that.”
“I also think it’s time that you do two things.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
“Lay off the ‘The Buk’ and lay off the sauce.”
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
“Did you just Yoda quote me?”
“Hanging around with you long enough you learn to pick up a few things. I’m going back to sleep.”
She started heading out of the office and back to the bedroom. “You coming to bed?” She asked.
“Soon.” He replied. “I’m just going to finish up here.”
“Don’t stay up too late. We have a lot of things we have to do in the morning.”
“I won’t. I’ll be right there.”
“And stop drinking.”
She brought up a good point. He did like her idea of ‘re-finding his voice’. He would sort through older works and compare it with newer ones. Then he thought, have I really lost my voice? He re-read what he initially wrote. He thought about what she said again. He could tone it down some for her sake. He could change things around, not be as crass or suggestive. He could go searching again for his voice.
He re-reads over his untitled work again and he smiled. It was a half-tired, half-drunk kind of broad smile. He wasn’t going to change a thing. He went back to bed wondering if it was too late to see if Samantha wanted to have sex.