Run

June 26, 2012

 

I offer you my chair

My invisible chair

I offer you my pillow

My invisible pillow

I give you my heart

My invisible heart

 

You take it and run, run, run far away

Levitate, meditate and run

Playing checkers and run

Watching TV and run

Run

 

I offer you my sunlight

Moonlight too

Invisible sun and moon

I offer you my organs

Before I even die

Invisible organs

 

You take them and run, run, run far, far away from me

Lactate, eviscerate and run

Playing solitaire and run

Watching Foreign films and run, run, run

Run


Drag Drag Drag and on

June 13, 2012

Drag drag drag myself out of the warm covers in the freezing bedroom on a hot muggy day that I don’t don’t don’t want to face just yet. Groggy from all of the action my mind had while I was sleeping. Sleeping can be so tiring sometimes. The memories of my activities fade with each move I make out of the bed and towards the bathroom to release a night full of liquid. Groggy I stumble back in my room to try and pray to my God not yours although they may have met at some Deity convention we don’t know about. I smoke and wonder what would Jesus do if he had these habits of smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. My muzzled pounding thoughts expire to endless words spewing and I have no control. It makes no sense to be this tired and unmotivated and think so fast and too much. Even my God cannot quiet my insides.


Any Dream – A POEM

June 10, 2012

Any dream left untold is like a dream left unsold

Marketed to the next available reader, listener

Therapist, Psychologist or friend

I never meant to be like this a voice tells me remembering or not

Another voice says cheese taste much better fresh from the deli

It’s a shame you’re allergic to shellfish and not selfish.

Boogity. Boogity. Boo.

The brakes slam. The air bag deploys and everyone flees the scene of my dream except me

All alone to deal with consequences  of constituencies of someone’s actions and I don’t know who.

My oh my what a wonderful day

Plenty of fish coming my way

“Eat up” you tell me “ It might be your last meal”

I am reminded of the days I have left so I count the days I have left behind me. Love is losing. Succeeding is failing. Fame and glory is poverty and anonymity

I know because I count the days I have left behind me.

I pay attention to some things Pigboy so crawls back in your mud

You have lived nothing but pain. I’ve seen beyond the rain. I’ve danced in sunshine and I may not be where anyone wants me to be including me but I have days to count of the past when and where I was happy. It brings a smile and a tear but I was something and I never know what’s down the line to tow.

Give me back my dreams.

Any dream will do.


Angel Train and a Cup of Joe

March 16, 2012

Sometimes I think she’s the prettiest girl alive. She might be. She certainly is to her boyfriend (I hope). Long black hair. Big brown eyes. Petite and well proportioned. I’ve never had a real life conversation with her. I haven’t even physically seen her in a couple of years. I rarely see her post on facebook. I rarely think about her. This has little to do with my story except it’s about her. Carmella or Bailey. The 2 names I’ve assigned to her for anonymity sake. She is still my guardian angel. I only have interactions in my dreams and they are not always significant either. She’s in my life and subconscious for a reason.

 

Her face was the last one I saw before my alarm went off at 7 am this morning. I woke up with a smile. The thought of her always gives me a smile. My dreams of her always give me a smile. Maybe I should think of her more so I smile more.

 

The dream wasn’t anything out there or cosmic. It was a dream of hanging out with a bunch of friends after an unrelated dream. Half of the friends I knew and half I didn’t. Only Joe, Brian and Seth were actual real friends from real life. The rest were acquaintances and people I’ve seen before like Bailey who I choose to call my guardian angel. We were all riding a train going ot an event of some kind. A concert, a parade, a convention. It was some event I normally wouldn’t go to and ride a train to. I was hanging mostly with Joe. He was out of character. Not at first.

 

Joe was his usual self drinking a coffee and letting me talk when I spotted Bailey. I wanted to point her out to him because I’ve talked to him more than anyone about her. He seemed too distracted by the people and the good time and tuned me out. This wasn’t the unusual part. Just as I was trying to tell him about my guardian angel personified he chugged a 5 hour energy drink and as we got off the train Joe ran off into the distance forcing me back in the crowd next to Bailey and a girlfriend of hers that I have spoken to but didn’t know real well. I was forced by the crowd to exit the train next to Bailey. I told her what Joe had just done.

 

“He drank all of that coffee and a 5 hour energy drink on an empty stomach? That’s crazy. No wonder he’s running off with all of that temporary energy.” Bailey spoke to me for the first time in what I perceived as real life in my dream.

 

How did she know all of the details when I didn’t know them all? I was just overjoyed that she spoke to me and said something back to her to make her smile. She has the brightest happiest smile that made me smile more. The damned alarm went off before  could talk to her more. That’s all I wanted.

 

But still, I woke up with a smile and felt compelled to write about it. About her.

 

Is it possible to be in love with someone I don’t know? Or am I just in love with the Bailey that appears in my dreams? I’m not even sure what love is. This dream and my thoughts of her will fade within the day and it’ll probably be months before I think or dream of her again but I know she’ll be back. I wonder what this means. Then again I wonder a lot of things.


Time Travel is Not My Primary Concern Chief – THE POEM

February 21, 2012

Sickness of my psyche

Rapes my body furiously

Like a grape devouring a sunset

Exhausting my entire vessel

I am vacant and wearied

 

I run in slow motion to

The food truck of love

Careful to avoid every crack along the way

To avoid herniating my dead mother’s discs

 

Hopscotching the bricks of the city with

Carmelita as she flirts and leads me on and over to

Successive numbered city blocks until she has

Vanished permanently from my sight

I move on lost in the darkly lit city

Lost in my contemplations

 

I find my filthy white car and

I try to drive it around as people cheer me on

I leave them behind and fall asleep at the wheel

 

I wake up in my motel room and I try to wake up

And pack a weeks worth of belongings into my

Two suitcases

Panic fills my essence

 

Relief arrives in the form of Carmelita the motel maid

In my room with the manager telling me to take me time

He lifts her skirt to reveal her big pantyhose covered ass

They tell me to help them and I can stay for free

Arousal versus my need to flee

 

The sickness of my psyche


Smith, Burroughs, Curtis, Scarface and Shepherd

December 23, 2011

This story starts early on a Sunday morning. A couple of friends and myself took a ride to West Philadelphia to the last residence of our closest departed friends, Marcus. Our mission was to gather his belongings and get them out of the house. Since our one friend was in a hurry we didn’t have time to go through everything. When we arrived Marcus’s friend who rented the room to him greeted us and had all of his belongings packed randomly in milk crates.

Let me back up. My story concerning Marcus started a week before he died. Once my “childhood” (in my mid-20s) hero, Marcus turned me on to many authors, poets, music and some films that I may not have found without him. He was my Shaman and friend and I devoured a lot of his interests. He had bee in and out of hospitals this year and ended up in a nursing home to care for his final ailment, celulosis. I visited for the last time (unknown to me while visiting) a little over 2 weeks before he passed away. We talked on the phone a few times the week before he died.

For some reason I started reading poetry that he loved out of the blue, authors like Arthur Rimbaud, Walt Whitman, Allan Ginsberg, Patti Smith, Jim Caroll and William Blake. It wasn’t a conscious effort. I was writing poetry and devoured the greats that Marcus turned me onto. For some reason I actually understood the poetry for the first time. I even mentioned this to Marcus when he was lucid and not in pain, over the phone.

The day before he died I started a poem about him because he deserved one for his accomplishments and his contribution to the world. November 10th I found out Marcus died from blood pressure and heart complications, I felt as though he jumped inside of me that day. “ghosts crowd the child’s fragile eggshell mind” to quote Jim Morrison who claims to have had dying Indians’ spirits he witnessed as a child jump into him. He stuck with that story until he died mysteriously in Paris, France in 1971. I felt Marcus in me for a at least a week or so. The extreme presence has faded but part of him remains in me.

The week of his service I was reading Arthur Rimbaud’s biography and discovered that Rimbaud also died on November 10th, 1991, 120 years before to the date. How appropriate I thought. I told his friends that knew his love for Rimbaud and they all agreed that it was some kind of spirits working there.

So, my 2 friends and me are at Marcus’s last house, his last home before the hospitals trying to avoid the temptation of going through his stuff and loading it into the car. I did manage to take a few minutes to throw together a crate of books and cds for myself. I tried to go through more while we were driving but I was in the blind spot of the car so I had to wait. I’m still waiting but in no hurry because I have months of books to read and cds to listen to.

I am.

The very afternoon I came home I started reading Patti Smith’s autobiography/ Robert Mapplethorpe’s biography written by Smith called Just Kids. Patti was in the top 5 of Marcus’s favorite performers, poet/lyricists and both he and other friend mentioned how great of a read it is. I have been obsessed with it.

Another related side story. My love for Patti Smith, like the majority of my sub cultural loves, have come from Marcus. I listened to her tender and abrasive mix of songs, the spiritual punk rock Queen. Marcus used the line “the sacred and the profane” to describe her, stolen from her own words at a show or interview. I had heard her on vinyl, tapes and cds. Watched video of her, seen endless photos of her. I found out she went to high school, a grade between, my biological mother and my aunt in Deptford, NJ. I had never seen her.

One cold December night in 1995, while living with Marcus, I passed on the opportunity to see not only Patti Smith but legend Bob Dylan at the greatest and at oldest (it has moved but still the same vibe from what I’ve heard) Philadelphia venues, the Electric Factory. I was in my depressive, isolation mode at the time. Sometimes I would create some original art in these modes and I felt this was one of those nights. Marcus felt different. He bugged and pestered me to go with him, he would pay for my ticket (I had no money and he had money back then), It will be one of the greatest experiences of my life. I fought for my right to pout and stay home.

He left. I was relieved. The thought did cross my mind when he and my other roommate went to see David Bowie on his Spider tour with Nine Inch Nails and I regret missing that one. I’ve seen both bands before but it was a different show. Marcus wasn’t even gone an hour and he came back home and burst in my room.

“I am not going to let you miss this one time event, possible the event of your life. I bought you ticket and you’re going back with me.” He said.

I was guilted into one of the best and the most spiritual rock n roll shows I have ever experienced. Patti was first. Marcus made sure we were almost front row. I can’t recall the exact set list but she lived up to her “sacred and profane” performance and lyrics. The deafening speakers in our ears, the crowds cheering all became distant sounds as I became one with Patti Smith, with Marcus, with God. I was disappointed when it was over, walking to the back of the Electric Factory when the more than legendary Bob Dylan hit the stage. I’ve had an on and off love for Bob Dylan and his music. Patti blew me away and the several times I’ve seen her since.

Reading Patti Smith’s stories of New York and her relationship with the controversial artist Robert Maplethorpe almost mirrors my own memories of Marcus and I, Patti and I, art and I, God and I. I can’t stop thinking about Marcus because of our mutual connection.

In 1996 or 97, Marcus and a couple other friends went to a record store for Patti Smith’s book signing. Marcus had been into drawing his favorite writers and rock stars on t-shirts with markers or Sharpies to wear and show off his art, Patti Smith, Keith Richards, Marc Bolan, Walt Whitman, and his personal favorite Jean Genet. Knowing that Genet was Patti Smith’s favorite writer, he brought it to the signing, to show her (I thought because it was his favorite shirt). When it was his turn to talk to her get the book signed he gave her the Genet t-shirt and told her he made it for her. A mountainous sacrifice for Marcus to part with that shirt with his painstaking time consuming beautiful art covering the front. When it was my turn I told her that my mother went to high school with her. She shot me a dirty look and said “oh yeah?” I was speechless and grabbed my copy of her poetry book signed and followed Marcus, giddy as a young artist showing his first work to his teacher. I left pissed at Patti Smith for a while but got over it when I thought of how stupid what I said was or could have been interpreted.

To the last time I saw him, he swears that she wore it on stage at a show he attended. He was so proud. I missed that show. Oh well.

A few nights ago I had a dream about William S Buroughs, one of my favorite writers Marcus had introduced me to. It’s a recurring dream I’ve had for over 10 years where I have conversations with Burroughs or I am chasing him down at a convention of some sort. The next day I read about Patti Smith having a dream about William S Burroughs, one of her mentors, and then actually meeting him the next day. This blew my mind. I knew it was Marcus at work inside me.

The next day I went to Social Services in Camden, NJ. In the waiting room there are clothes for people to take. It’s mostly women’s clothes so I never bothered looking. This day there were 3 boxes of books. I didn’t expect much besides best sellers that I wouldn’t read. First I spotted a Howard Stern Book I already own. Then an AC DC biography I grabbed and put to the side. Like it came down from heaven I spotted the name Jackie Curtis on the spine of one of the books. I grabbed it so fast and gave up on the AC DC one, knowing I might not read it with all of the books I’ve been acquiring. I’ve always owning beyond my reading capability. It started with my comic collection. I had to read everyone I owned. The book was called Superstar in a Housedress: the Life and Legend of Jackie Curtis. Jackie was one of the early Andy Warhol’s drag actors. There was Candy Darling, Holy Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis. You might know the names from the Lou Reed song Take A Walk On The Wild Side. He mentions them all by first name. The book came with a dvd documentary about Jackie Curtis. Once again I knew Marcus had something to do with it being my only friend that knows who Jackie Curtis is and my fascination with over the top drag queens. My favorite was Divine from the many John Waters’ films.

I was feeling sick all day so when I came home I relaxed and watched the documentary. I loved it. I learned a lot about the actor, the writer, the poet, the addict and the superstar by the name of Jackie Curtis.

I was looking for another movie to watch after the documentary. For some reason I watched Scarface, not having seen it in years. I figured after watching a documentary about an artistic genius drag queen superstar I needed to even it out with a movie about a Cuban druglord. I usually watch the featurettes and extras when I am finished. I did. The featurette made references to the original Howard Hawks’ Scarface movie from the 1930’s and the phrase “the world is yours” was used in both versions of Scarface.

After dreaming about transvestites, fame, writing, Patti Smith and Tony Montana, I awoke confused, groggy yet awake and ready for the day. “The World is Yours.” rang in the back of my mind. My morning rituals, when I don’t have to rush off anywhere, are to find some decent light music to listen to, drink coffee, write and read, alternating the reading and writing. I even alternate which novel, prose or poetry I write and the books I read. The Patti Smith biography, Just Kids has been winning out as my reading choice more and more.

I came upon the part of Patti and Robert’s life where they are living at the famous worn down Chelsea hotel in New York, home to celebrities (underground, big names and has-beens), junkies, prostitutes and everyone in between. They get in with the Andy Warhol crowd slowly by showing up every night at Max’s Kansas City another celebrity haunt. Patti meets Jackie Curtis and is asked to be in her latest avant-garde play called Femme Fatale playing a male role, playing opposite sex roles was common and almost mandatory in a Jackie Curtis production. Marcus at work again, I thought after reading this. My mind was blown further when I read a comparison of a neon sign Patti and Robert were looking at to a scene in “Howard Hawks’ movie Scarface where Paul Muni and his girl are looking out the window at a neon sign that said The World is Yours.”

I used to think Marcus was full of shit when he would tell me of his visions and special stories or that they only happened to him Now they are happening to me with Marcus there every step. I’m not the only one.

A few of his closest friends and even those connected with him from a distance are feeling his power, his life, and his soul. Some are in the form of lucid yet surreal recurring dreams while others actually see and feel him while conscious.

In life he wanted to be famous, to be remembered. In death he’s keeping his dream alive. He knows if he comes to me I will write about him and keep him alive.


Out of the Closet

December 11, 2011

When I came out it wasn’t a closet. It was a trashcan.

I’ve known for a long time what I am or I should say who I am.

I am an artist. The most precious blessing and the most horrific curse. Forsaken and trampled. Survival is rough. I must persist.

“Resistance is futile” as the Borg say on Star Trek. I cannot assimilate with this world. I am an artist. It’s not a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s the way I was born. I nurture it when I’m not fighting it.

“Get a job” you say.

I have a job, thank you.

I have a job. I must create to live. To feel. Alive.

It’s my job.

Job.

I like my job but the pay sucks so far.

Writing and drawing is my life. Your career or your family is your life and art is mine. Why do you push your life on me? I never tell you to be an artist. Far from it. I say “stay away from it unless you are already wealthy.”

There were times I considered and even convinced myself I wanted to be like you. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be liked, loved and accepted. The older I get and the less I want your life the harder it is to live mine. I have no choice really.

I can’t change my skin color, my sexuality or my need to create. I guess I have to change my acceptance of you.


Herb

September 1, 2011

Herb sat on the curb for hours in the direct sunlight. The 100 degree temperatures didn’t bother him anymore. Nothing bothered him as he nodded off in what he thought was a heroin chic fashion. Herb looked like a street bum in his dirty ripped sweater and baggy corduroys. His face was yellow with a coat of sweat glued like mucus on his skin. He was unshaved and his dirty blonde hair was greasy hanging over his shoulders. He was out cold but the sweat was dripping like a retarded full body fountain inside of him. A 24-year old that looked like he was 40. He wasn’t alone.

 

Sarah sat next to him in a summer dress that was once meant to be colorful and comfortable. It was faded and stained under her leather jacket. She wore engineer boots over her unshaved legs to top off the winter look in July. She was still awake and waiting. Waiting for something. Or was it someone? She grabbed the last warm cheap opened beer and took a sip and spotted someone.

 

A man crossed the street towards her. Towards them. She forgot about Herb already. She hid her beer quickly as if it were the police approaching her but it was more of a quick hide to get what she needed. Part of what she needed. As the handsome casually dressed man approached her she stood up as fast as her dehydrating dope sick body could.

 

“Hey. Remember me?” She asked the man.

 

“Uhh. No. Sorry” he said.

 

“You bought me a few beers last week and…”

 

“Sorry. I have to go.”

 

I don’t think he remembered her but if he did he wanted to forget her and avoid her.

 

“Can I get a few dollars from you?” she asked.

 

The man stopped. He thought for a moment while looking at her and smiled. A change in mind.

 

“We can work out a nice deal and you’ll get more than a few dollars.” He said.

 

Sarah looked at Herb who was now awake singing some song about Jesus staring into space. She shrugged him.

 

“Herbie. I’ll be right back. I’m going to earn a little money from this guy. Ok?” she asked.

 

By the time she finished telling Herb he was asleep again. She left him there and got into a cab with the man.

 

His name was Brad. He loved sex. He figured that he’d take Sarah to a motel outside of the city and wash her up first then have his way with her. He had the money to spend and in his mind he was doing a service. Washing, feeding and paying Sarah for sex was better than throwing a dollar in her cup on the street. He’ll take care of her for an hour or so and go back to work.

 

An hour or so later Brad dropped Sarah off on the curb where she found him and left in the cab. Brad was dropped off about 6 blocks away at a coffee shop. He decided to take the rest of his busy day off. He didn’t even need to call work. They knew he’d be back the next day. He approached the counter and stopped to think a minute,

 

“Large boiler maker Brad?” the cute awkward girl with the apron behind the counter asked.

 

“Sure Sue.” Brad answered.

 

Sue rang up his order excited that Brad remembered her name forgetting that she wore a nametag. Another taller and heavier woman named Carrie made Brad’s drink. She knew how to make it best and was eager to please Brad. All of the coffee shop girls were. He only slept with one of them so far and she wasn’t there.

 

Brad grabbed his coffee and gave a secret tip to Sue and Carrie. He paused like he was going to sit down. Sue and Carrie were watching his every move. Brad walked out the door into the blazing hot city sun.

 

“OMG. I love when Brad stops in.” Carrie said.

 

“I don’t know whether I like his tips or his looks better.” Sue said.

 

“I would never date and older man except for him.”

 

“I just want to fuck him”

 

“Yeah. Me too.”

 

“Andrea was lucky o get that.”

 

“True.”

 

They laughed and went back to work ringing up and making coffee after coffee. Making each customer smile with their great attitudes and sincere smiles. They were great at their job. When it slowed down Sue went through the shop to clean up the condiment area and gather trash.

 

“Hey Gary. How’s the novel coming?” Sue asked a customer sitting with his laptop on a couch.

 

“Hey Sue. I didn’t see you coming. I’m still writing.” Gary said.

 

“I love what you’ve read to me so far. I can’t wait to read it when it’s finished.”

 

“You’ll be top of the list of complimentary copies when it’s published.”

 

“Signed?”

 

“Haha. Of course, Sue. Of course.”

 

Sue touched his shoulder and smiled as she moved on cleaning. Gary thought of asking her out for brief moment but went back to writing instead. He was in what he referred to as the “zone”. Gary’s novel was his version of the great American novel. The same goal of many successful and even more failed writers.

 

The novel was called Pictures of Karen. It was about a man named Doty and his life long obsession with Karen. The one that got away. Doty kept tabs on Karen since his early twenties. It’s actually a love story but Gary will have to finish it and you’ll have to read it to decide.

 

Gary’s novel starts off with:

 

“I’ve never loved. I never loved the way I loved her. I thought I loved before and before and once more or so. Not the way. Not the way I loved her. Love her. Love. Her name was Karen. Still is as far as I know. I’ve known her since grade school, maybe even longer. We lived next door to each other for almost 18 years. I watched her get older and mature. I always watched Karen.

 

We used to play house when we were 10 or 11 years old. It was Karen’s version of playing house. She reversed the roles. I had to squeeze into her sister Ann’s clothes. Her sister was only a year older and not much bigger than Karen. Karen even made me wear her sister’s underwear. This explains my cross-dressing and love for women’s underwear, as I got older. Karen would wear my clothes including my underoos. I usually wore Star Trek underoos with Kirk and Spock. I wanted Sulu or Uhura but they only had Spock and Kirk. The were baggy on Karen’s little body as opposed to Ann’s tight cotton panties and a bra on my chubby frame.

 

Karen pretended that she came home from work and I was supposed to cook dinner. We used a kid’s cook set with Play-Doh. Well I did. I cooked and set the table. She kissed me when she came to the table. We usually played when no one was home at her house. The last time we played it was a terrifying experience that may have scarred me for life.

 

We just finished playing house and were getting undressed before anyone got home. We were down to our underwear and Karen’s bedroom door burst open. It was Karen’s sister Ann. She laughed at first. We tried to get dressed and she stopped us.

 

“No. Stay. You 2 are going to do what I say or I’m telling mom and dad and yours too Doty.” Ann said.

 

Ann forced us to –“

 

Gary caught Sheila “the bird lady” reading over his shoulder. Sheila was a regular at the coffee shop and out of her mind. She was tall and skinny and looked like Big Bird. Some people called her “Jesus lady” because she was always handing out religious leaflets and preaching about Jesus. She was whispering his words in his ear. He looked at her and was speechless.

 

“You heathen!” Sheila exclaimed.

 

“Hi Sheila.” Gary said quietly.

 

“Your child pornography stories are going to send you straight to Hell.”

 

“It’s just a fictional novel, Sheila. It’s about innocent kids.”

 

“It’s child pornography.”

 

Gary looked up and saw the customers staring and Sue looked over and shrugged her arms. He closed his laptop and put it away, grabbed his cup and walked briskly out the door.

 

Sheila soon forgot about him and went back to the counter and ordered her 3rd refill of iced decaf coffee for the day so far. She put on a sweater and a raincoat and headed outside with no destination in mind. She only had a few leaflets left and wanted to give them to the right people.

 

She walked a block and stopped on the corner and tried to hand out her leaflets telling people that Jesus is coming and they need to be saved. Most people avoided her like a kid avoids a dentist. It took her almost an hour to get rid of her leaflets. She still had some iced decaf coffee in her hand. It looked like rusty water at this point. The temperature was reaching 104 degrees and it seemed to keep going. Sheila headed back to the coffee shop.

 

As she walked a head poked out of a cab yelling “Hey bird lady. When is the world going to end this time?” It seemed she was well known, especially for her predictions of Armageddon. She had a new date almost every month it seemed. She hasn’t been right yet but who knows?

 

Carl was the guy yelling out of the cab. Carl knew Sheila the bird lady from the coffee shop and the streets. His small pudgy belly moved fast along with his breath from yelling. He was out of shape middle age man. He was in the cab with his work buddy Bobby. Bobby was a handsome tall blond that has managed to remain in the closet for 42 years. He’s had a crush on Carl since their first run in at the Law office when Bobby first started 3 years ago. He could never figure out whether Carl was gay or not. Carl was single and seemed to hang out with and spend nights with men more than women. He’s a very masculine man so Bobby’s gaydar was thrown off. They worked a few floors apart but talked a lot on the elevator after work. They eventually started hanging out. Carl’s guy friends also threw off Bobby’s radar. He never had the courage to just ask and after 3 years it was even tougher.

 

They were on their way to lunch at the Browley Towers Bar and Grille. They both liked the food and the beer selection was pretty good. They walked in like they owned the place. At times they felt like they did because of the way they were treated.

 

Carl ordered the caramelized onion stuffed flounder with glazed pineapple. Bobby ordered a rare filet mignon with a butter fluffed potato and mushroom sauce. They both ordered the newest beer the bar listed. This one was a Russian beer called Tinkoff.

 

“What do you think it means in Russian?” Bobby asked.

 

“Tinkle I assume. It tastes like tinkle.” Carl said.

 

Bobby smiled but didn’t laugh. He thought it tasted pretty good.

 

“I never thought of a guy like you saying the word tinkle.” Bobby said.

 

“Ha. I’m full of surprises. Wait. What do you mean a guy like me?”

 

“Ha. You know. Kind of macho.”

 

“Macho?”

 

“It’s a good thing Carl.”

 

“Oh.”

 

They laughed and finished their food and continued drinking. Carl paid the check with the corporate credit card and pulled out a wad of cash for the tip. Bobby thanked him for lunch. His mind wandered to his crush on Carl. He was feeling pretty buzzed and wanted to tell him now. He made up his mind.

 

“Can we have a few more drinks and talk, Carl?”

 

“Uhh.. Yeh, let me call Marie and tell her I won’t be back in the office for another hour or 2.”

 

As Carl made his call Bobby was getting nervous and practicing what he was going to say in his head. Was he going to chicken out? Carl got off his phone and ordered more beer.

 

“Hey Carl. You know I’m gay and all, right? Have you ever wondered if I liked you?”

 

“Uhh. Well the way you look at me sometimes I get a feeling from you. “

 

“Well I have to tell you. . .”

 

The waiter interrupted and handed them their beers and walked away. The waiter’s name is Phil. He is an older man in his 50’s waiting tables. He is also an actor whenever he can find work. You might remember him from that TV commercial with the guy dressed as grape selling car insurance. Phil was they grape. It was played a lot for a few months on as many slots as it could fill. Phil’s been in a lot plays and made many appearances on movies as an extra. He will keep acting until he dies whether he makes a living off of it or not.

 

“I think I interrupted a gay man proposing to another.” Phil said.

 

“No way.” Stan answered.

 

Stan was a stunning young black college student majoring in Economics. He was there to pay for part of his school. He also liked all of the women he meets. He had a gift with the ladies.

 

“It looked that way. They’ve been coming here 5 days a week for years. They seem very chummy. Extra chummy. You know?”

 

“I guess it makes sense. How’s that work? Can men get married to each other in this state? I don’t know much about gay people.”

 

“You know I’m gay right, Stan?”

 

“Uhh. I do now. Thanks for sharing.”

 

“You never suspected me?”

 

“No man. I thought you were just a lonely old workaholic.”

 

“Ha. Thanks.”

 

“I am a little freaked by all of this but I guess that’s life. Can you watch my tables for a few minutes Phil?”

 

“Can’t handle it Stan?”

 

“No. I’m cool. Just want to grab a smoke and take out the trash.”

 

Stan walked away into the kitchen and grabbed the trash to take out back to the dumpster. The air outside was so humid all he could smell was the rotting food in the dumpster and he gagged a little and threw the bags of trash into the dumpster. He walked around the corner to have a cigarette.

 

“Got an extra smoke man?” a dirty man with a winter coat and wool hat named Gerald asked.

 

Stan knows Gerald from hanging by the dumpster for his smoke breaks.

 

“Hey Gerald. Of course. Here ya go.” Stan said.

 

“Why you out here in this heat Stan?”

 

“I needed a smoke. Little shell shocked from something.”

 

“What could shock you?”

 

“Oddly enough gay people. I just found our Phil was gay. I’ve been working with him over a year and he showed no signs.”

 

“Signs? Hahahaha. What signs do you expect? Pink underwear and fuzzy boas?”

 

“Nah man. No mannerisms. I don’t know. He just seemed normal. I mean heterosexual.”

 

“Who cares whether he slurps a rod instead of chewin clam? You’ve known him for a while and he’s still the same guy.”

 

“Yeah. I know. I’ll get over it.”

 

“Hey ya gotta dollar for me today?’

 

“Heh. Yeah. You’re the cheapest therapist around Gerald.. Thanks.”

 

Stan handed him a 10 dollar bill.

 

“Thank you Stan. See ya round.”

 

Gerald walked to the liquor store and bought the best bottle of whiskey he could find for 10 dollars. Every customer stared at him as he walked through the store and to the counter. The guy behind the counter was shocked that Gerald had money and was being polite for a change. He was a little slower than usual because of the heat.

 

“Hey buddy, take this and promise me that you’ll drink the whole thing. It’s hot out there and I don’t want you dying from dehydration.” A total stranger standing behind him said.

 

He handed him a giant bottle of water and told the cashier he’d pay for it. Gerald nodded a thank you and walked out of the store into the now 105 degree temperature outside.

 

The stranger’s name was Billy. He watched Gerald walk out and open the bottle of whiskey the minute he hit the sidewalk. Billy put his beer on the counter.

 

“You ever wonder how someone becomes like that?” Billy asked the cashier.

 

“No. I just sell booze.”

 

“I always wondered what makes a homeless person become that way.”

 

“Not me. Next in line please.”

 

Billy left with his beer contemplating the homeless and how good his life is and what would happen in his life to put him in that position. Billy headed down the street and gave a few more bottles of water to every homeless person he saw. Most of them weren’t too grateful because they wanted drugs and alcohol. He wanted to do something nice on his way home. He still was wearing his suit from his morning job interview. It was the only one he owned and every hot summer day like this one was ruining it slowly. Billy’s shirt and pants were wet with sweat. He only had a few blocks left to his apartment. He felt good but couldn’t wait to get out of the suit and kick back and have a few beers and watch a little TV before his dinner date.

 

It was a first date with a girl he met on a dating web site called sympathydating.com. The idea was you never knew which one of you was getting the sympathy. Billy hoped she’d be the way she looked on her profile and connected in person the way they did online. Her name was Nancy.

 

He got home and changed into shorts and a wife beater. Billy sat on his giant recliner and leaned back as he turned on the TV. He opened a beer and took a big sip. He flipped the channels and all he could seem to find were Judge shows. He thought about renting a movie on demand. He thought about masturbating. The phone rang.

 

“Yo.” Billy answered.

 

“It’s Harris. I’m outside. Let me in.” Harris said.

 

Billy opened the door and Harris came in from the hot temperatures. Harris was dressed for the heat in shorts and a light button up shirt. He made himself at home but Billy didn’t care. They’ve been friends for so long they were at home with each other.

 

Harris pulled out a baggy of marijuana and loaded his glass pipe. He took a huge hit and handed it to Billy. Billy did the same and got up and grabbed Harris a beer. They drank and smoked for a while.

 

“Ready for the big date tonight?”

 

“I guess. We’re meeting at a coffee shop and then going off to dinner.”

 

“Excited or scared?”

 

“Not really. The same old drill. Coffee conversation will reflect where we go t dinner and how much I want to spend. We eat then either hang out or bail. Either I get lucky or I don’t. Then we either have another date or we don’t. Same thing over and over.”

 

“I don’t miss being single when I think about all of the pain in the ass games and work involved.”

 

“Then why do you complain about your wife all the time?”

 

“You hear me complaining now?”

 

“Good point.”

 

They smoked a little more and Harris left so Billy could get ready.

 

Harris hit the heated city streets and decided he wasn’t ready to go home yet and stopped at the coffee shop around the corner. Sue and Carrie were still working. Sue took his order and Carrie made it. They didn’t know him as well as the other customers but they recognized him as the guy that hits on every girl he sees in the coffee shop.

 

“A small triple shot Cappuccino, please.” Harris said.

 

“Coming up. That’ll be $3.98” Sue said

 

Harris reached in his back left pocket to get his wallet and it was gone. He started freaking and checked his other pockets. He remembered leaving it at his mom’s house before he went to see Billy.

 

“Uh. You’re not going to believe this but I forgot my wallet.”

 

“Do you want me to make a tab and just get me next time. I’ve seen you here before.”

 

A woman’s hand appeared with 4 dollar bills from behind and handed it to Sue.

 

“I got it” The woman said.

 

“No. that’s ok. I can skip it.” Harris said.

 

“It’s no big deal. It happens to all of us at least once. Just Pay it forward.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“No problem.”

 

Harris decided to sit down and enjoy the buzz he was on from Billy’s house. The woman who paid for his drink sat down next to him.

 

“This seat taken?” The woman asked.

 

“Nah. Sit down. Thanks again for the coffee.”

 

“Cappuccino.”

 

“Right. Thanks for the cappuccino.”

 

“Like I said, do it for someone else. Pay it forward.”

 

“Oh. Like that movie?”

 

“Basically. Hi. My name is Nancy.”

 

“Hi. I’m Harris.”

 

“You are Harris or your name is Harris.”

 

“Both.”

 

They talked for about an hour or so and really hit it off. Sue and Carrie were watching. They liked to observe the customers especially if it looked like they were hitting it off.

 

“Listen. I had a really great time talking to you and I’d love to do it again but I am meeting a sort of blind date here in a few minutes and it might look bad.” Nancy said.

 

“Blow him off and we’ll go out to dinner.”

 

“Are you telling me or asking me?”

“Both.”

 

“You’re married. Aren’t you?”

 

“Uh. Yeah. The ring must have given it away eh?”

 

“Yes. You’re too nice to be single. I assumed you were married or gay.”

 

“Both.”

 

They laughed.

 

“You’re pretty entertaining and I have a date so uh. . ’

 

“Wait a minute. Are you meeting a guy named Billy?”

 

“Yes. Well, he told me his name was William. How did you know?”

 

“He’s my best friend. I was just at his house and he told me he’s meeting a girl here. You seem too interesting and are way too beautiful to be dating online.”

 

“Well, I don’t do it often but it’s worth a try.”

 

“Billy’s a good guy. You’ll like him.”

 

“Is he as entertaining as you Harris?”

 

“He’s different. You’ll like him.”

 

Harris said his goodbye and was headed to the door when Billy came in.

 

“What are you dong here Harris?”

 

“I was ah . . warming up Nancy for you.”

 

“Wha. . .?”

 

“Just kidding. I just happen to run into her and. .”

 

“You didn’t make any of your famous moves did you?”

 

“I started to until we figured out she was waiting for you.”

 

“Oh and then you just pulled back after charming the panties off of her?’

 

“I told her I was married. She told me she was waiting for you. That was that.”

 

“That was that, huh?”

 

“Yup.”

 

“Ok. Wish me luck.”

 

“You don’t need it. She’ll love you Billy.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

Harris left and Billy approached Nancy. Sue and Carrie were still watching in between making drinks and taking orders. They knew Billy too.

 

“Wow that girl is popular.” Sue said.

 

“Yeah, I think she was waiting for Billy when that other guy made the moves on her.”

 

“You guys analyzing customers again?” Roberta the manager interrupted.

 

The girls nodded and went back to work. Roberta made her point. She wasn’t a strict manager. She just liked to bust stones now and then. She was a beautiful tall black woman in her 30s with a big chest. Customers loved her.

 

“I’m going to run to the bank. Carl is in charge until I get back. Please don’t break his balls.” Roberta said.

 

“Will you be back before we leave?” Sue asked

 

“I should be. If not make sure you count your money on the register and give it to Carl to count and clock you out. Carrie. I need you to refill everything and brew fresh coffee before you leave.” Roberta said.

 

“Ok.” Sue said.

 

“No problem. Have good day if I don’t see you.” Carrie said.

 

“Thanks ladies.”

 

Roberta headed towards the door with the bank deposit in her hand. Passing Billy and Nancy in the middle of the shop laughing. She smiled at them and out the door. As she turned the corner towards the bank she saw a guy and girl sitting along the wall of the coffee shop begging for change. It was Sarah and Herb. They moved the 6 blocks to the coffee shop. Looking at Herb you wonder how he even moved in the heat and his condition. The temperature lowered back down to 100 degrees. Roberta looked at them for a minute with disgust.

 

“You guys can’t sit here begging for change. You need to leave.” Roberta told them.

 

“Ok. Can we wait a few minutes? It’s really hot.” Sarah said.

 

“No. Leave now or I call the police.” Roberta said.

 

Sarah nudged Herb to wake him up as she drank the last of her bottled water Billy gave her earlier and the warm bear as a chaser. She stood up and grabbed her bag and was more aggressive in getting Herb to move. It wasn’t working so she started kicking him and yelling at him in the most annoying ear shattering voice you can imagine. He opened his eyes and looked at her and nodded back off.

 

“Wake up. We have to leave ya piece of shit.”

 

Roberta was long gone but Sarah knew she’d be back and they better find another spot. The day was winding down and the sun was going down. She finally grabbed Herb and pulled him onto his feet and he barely stood up and followed her.

 

It was still 100 degrees as Sarah and Herb stumbled down the city streets as the sunset.

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



A Little Off

June 27, 2011

I feel off today.

 

Off.

 

Not good.

 

Not bad.

 

Not in between.

 

Everything is fine.

 

Fine in my head.

 

Fine I can handle it fine.

 

Everything is still fucked up but salvageable.

 

I’m rockin’ n’ rollin’ n’ what not.

 

Ya know. A little here and a little there.

 

Still crazy.

 

Medicated.

 

Off.

 

Sleep. Eat. Shit.

 

The next thing you know I’m here.

 

I sit.

 

I feel off.  I sit.

Sit.

 

Off.

 

Feel.

 

Felt.

 

Over and over.

 

And over again.

 

Breathing is easy.

 

Eating is no problem.

 

Drinking is fine.

 

Fine.

 

I feel fine. Just a little off.

 

Off today.

 

I carry the weight of yours and his and hers and theirs.

 

On my shoulders.

 

Floating on my shoulders.

 

It’s easy.

 

Carrying you is easy.

 

It’s fine.

Fine.

 

Fun keeps following me and I keep shrugging it off.

 

Fun. Off.

 

I scrape the remaining fun off of my upper thigh.

 

I laugh.

 

I cry.

 

I smile.

 

Can I offer you something to lick?

 

How about a sugar cookie?

 

A goober?

 

Fun?

 

It’s over for a moment.

 

Swallow.

 

Swallow the fun that’s left in my mouth.

 

Don’t be afraid.

 

Afraid of me.

 

Afraid of off.

 

Off.

 

I’m off.


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