All The Windows


fear

I scroll through my Facebook feed and I look at all the windows. My monitor is a thousand-story house, and I am a giant, peeking my hideously large eye into people’s lives.

This is the first election cycle I’ve been an adult about. I didn’t really care about the other ones because I was still in day care. The day care was called high school, college and graduate school, but it was day care all the same. The issues didn’t bother me because I didn’t have any issues. Student loans gave me more money than I knew what to do with, and my parents could always loan me the rest.

Life was good.

Then I moved out and moved to Los Angeles and life was hard.

It wasn’t the bills or the poverty or or my broken teeth or my job that made it almost impossible.

I can shoulder just about any difficulty.

It was the hopelessness.

It was the feeling that nothing mattered because it’s all rigged, anyway. It was the knowledge that there are some people who think you exist just to be miserable and give them money.

It was the thought that no matter how hard I tried I would never make it. I would never write a good book, and I would never get close to a TV writing room, and that, in the end, I would exist as nothing more than a warning to others.

“Don’t chase your dreams,” they’d say, passing by Old Man Brock as he babbles insanely on the sidewalk, “be an accountant. Be something safe. Have a house. Have a family. You’ll do alright if you just don’t chase your dreams.”

A man cannot live without hope. Hope is rain, the water that fertilizes your will to live.

It doesn’t have to be a big hope. It doesn’t have to be a grand design. It just has to be a hope. A hope for a better future. A hope for your family and your children to have it better off than you did. A hope that your hard work, now pointless toil, will one day amount to something. That you will be recognized, perhaps even in your eulogy, when someone like me will stand before your coffin and say: “She worked hard. She battered and she toiled. This is admirable.”

So I try to deal in hope. I try to find the hope in hopelessness.

It’s hard. It’s much harder than dealing in despair.

Any idiot can point out how hard things are.

The universe will one day burn out and die. Everything will be dead forever. All will be nothing.

But nothing is something, isn’t it?

And how long is forever, anyway?

There are people who disagree with hope. These people deal in fear, and hatred, and malice. They are the true evil. They tell you that you were right. That tiny little goblin in the back of your mind knew what it was talking about. You’re works do amount to nothing. It is all going to hell. There are people out to get you.

Don’t go outside. They’ll shoot you.

Don’t stay inside. They’ll blow you up.

We’re all selling something. These people are no different. They’re selling fear, and fear is addictive. A girl cowers before a roller coaster. A boy walks away from the girl he loves because he can’t ask her out. A girl stays inside and plays World of Warcraft because she hasn’t left her house in months. A boy doesn’t go to a job interview because he’s scared, he’s scared and it’s been so long.

I am not a violent man, but me heroes are those of violence. They rejected fear. They are the general who said “nuts” to the Germans as they encircled Bastogne. They are the women arrested fighting to vote, or the African Americans beaten for doing the same. They are the man in the Nazi rally photo who refused to heil Hitler.

the-tragically-powerful-story-behind-the-lone-german-who-refused-to-give-hitler-the-nazi-salute

They are people who showed bravery in the face of thousands yelling at them that they should cower, they should fear, they should tremble at the sound of hopeless thunder.

But bravery does not need violence.

So I stand, and my legs are a thousand feet tall, and I peek through my windows.

And I see heroes.

I see people going to conventions. I see people dressing up any way they want. I see men loving men, women loving women. I see young couples being married. Having children. I see my parents buying a dog even though they know it will die. I see love in the face of hatred, bold, shining love that will not be turned away. I see the power of humanity, the power of your very being and I smile.

I peek through the windows, my giant eye filling the entire frame, and I see a world around me, bright a beautiful.

And I think.

I truly think.

The shadows have nothing against the light.

They stand behind their podiums and they scream. “Be afraid!” They shout. “Take my fear!”

Pay them no heed.

Look out your window.

The world isn’t burning.

And even if it is.

It won’t burn forever.

And how long is forever, anyway?

view_with_a_window_by_ahermin

 

Advertisements

Dating, simplified


aajsr

Eric stared into the mirror. The surface was speckled with white spots of toothpaste. His electric toothbrush had painted them on the glass over the course of two years.

He should get around to cleaning it. He really should.

He’s the only one who uses the bathroom, though. Gone are the days of the mad scramble when someone says the words “could I use your restroom?” The frantic, wet sheets of toilet paper swiping across the toilet rim have disappeared. The hasty swiffer across the kitchen floor gathers dust in a forgotten closet.

The dirty clothes hamper festers.

Life is simply the act of trying to appear not as dirty as you actually are. Death is too, in a way. It’s why morticians exist.

Eric moved from where he used to be to where he is now. He had taken wing, a promise of good fortune and new friends was the wind that propelled him to parts unknown. He flew on hope like a seed. He spun in lopsided circles and lost his way and when he landed he had no idea what to do anymore.

Plus someone had torn him from his flower and tossed him away.

It still hurt.

He shaved. He did it slowly. He savored the feeling of the cool steel on his skin. It felt fresh. It felt new. He raked the hair from his visage and he was eight years younger. He wasn’t broken. He wasn’t used.

He wasn’t even out of the box.

He was ready.

So Eric hopped in his car and drove to a field.

It was lit in a way you only get in movies, a sort of erotic, soft blue that signifies it’s night while still be lighter than the dark. Eric wore a suit and tie. He double checked his lapels to make sure they were appropriate and stepped out of his car.

And his breath caught in his chest because a glen beyond the field was full of lights, soft yellows that reminded him of lanterns and porches, of swings and flowing draperies and love, oh how they reminded him of love.

Men and women flitted around the field, bumping into one another. The lights came from their asses.

Like fireflies.

Their posteriors flashed messages, a Morse code of longs and shorts, love and desire. Eric saw a cute girl with a sundress and dimples turn her rear to a dashing gentlemen in a plaid shirt and flash off and on.

“Do you like cats?” her ass signaled to him.

“No,” his booty blinked back.

The girl frowned and walked away.

Eric couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. Couldn’t rip his pupils off her bottom. He sighed, watching the way the light faded in brightness. A sign of disappointment or resignation? He wasn’t sure.

He was going to flutter over to her when a beauty intercepted him.

She bent over and showed him her butt.

“How tall are you?” It signaled.

“Five foot eight,” Eric’s ass signaled back.

She stood up and made a face that was the exact sort of face she would have made if she saw Eric’s apartment and strutted away, her rump blinking its disapproval.

The first strikeout of the night.

Eric scanned for the cat woman but she was gone.

Eric dove into the crowd, flashing left and right, blinking here and there. “No, I don’t make forty thousand a year.” “Yes, I believe in true love.” “No, not yet, but my roommates are nice.”

And then he saw her, standing by a tree and watching the proceedings with an air of disappointment.

Eric scampered up to her. Their eyes locked and she put a hand to her chest in surprise.

Eric bent over and presented his butt to her.

“I like cats,” his ass signaled. He stood up and turned around, grinning like a damned fool.

He’d seen the look that was on her face before. It’s the look everyone gets when they open the fridge and find one, last beer, when they arrive the restaurant and get the last table, when they catch their train at the very last minute.

It was a waterfall spilling over her brows and eyes and cheeks and nose and mouth. It was a paper lantern in her soul. It was hope.

She bent over and showed him her bottom.

“So do I,” she blinked to him.

And Eric smiled.

In his head a song played. It was “kiss me” by Sixpence None the Richer.

Her recalled, faintly, a time, many years ago, when he met women in ways other than blinking at them with his rear. You had to talk to people. You had to sit down and have a conversation and get to know another human being.

You had to clean your apartment if they happened to come over.

It was great to get to know another human soul, but…

Her ass glowed so prettily this evening.

Thank god that German scientist had finally finished his catalog of the firefly genome. Thank god the UN had approved the human trials. Thank Christ glowing butts became mandatory.

“Kiss me,” her ass shined at him.

Then she stood up.

And he did.

And there was electricity as their lips met. Their bodies rubbed against one another and the moon shone above as their asses glowed in that magical glen.

And the lights of love swirled all around them as the rest of humanity looked for romance.

Flashing their asses at one another.

Just like horny semaphores.

Or aroused lighthouses.

Or sexy, back-lit phone screens.

Ah, mon amour . C’est la vie.

p2111832704-3

An Arrow


4558211777_462x173

This isn’t a story about something I did.

I didn’t do it.

This is a story about something I’m going to do.

Tomorrow, I’m going to go do some free archery.

I don’t know anything about it other than my friends do it and they have wanted me to come for quite some time.

So I’ll go.

I’ll have to catch a ride, obviously. I can’t drive my car until I get my tax refund. Then I can finally re-register it.

I will ride with my roommate. We’ll pull up to the park’s parking lot, because I imagine it’s in a park, and the sun will be lazing over the treetops. I’ve been told there’s a lot of children who do the free archery.

From what I’ve been told, I think the class is probably intended for children.

I turned twenty seven yesterday.

Well, physically.

I’ll have to take a brief lesson in bow safety. It’ll be a cinch. They won’t know that I used to have a short longbow.

It was short because my dad got it for my sister and me when I was in middle school and she was probably in high school or something and we weren’t capable of pulling back a full sized longbow. This one didn’t pull as hard. We could shoot it.

We had a big yard when I was growing up. It was variously used for paintball, horses, motorcycles and, eventually, shooting bows and arrows at things.

You’re probably thinking I had quite the country childhood.

Not really. I spent most my time inside playing Age of Empires III and reading Terry Pratchett.

But we had a longbow. I had to string it every time I used it. I got good at bracing it on the ground and pushing the middle with my foot so it would bend and I could fit the string around its notched ends.

There was an old bird feeder in the backyard. This was before my parents found out how allergic to green things I was, so the yard was pretty well-mowed. Kathryn and I had found a paint bucket somewhere and she drew a face on it.

We’d stand about forty feet away from it and try to shoot the face.

We gave it a name and a backstory. We gave it a personality, too. I can’t remember what the name was, but I remember it was a he and he liked to be shot with arrows. They were like vitamins to him.

We obliged.

So yeah, I’ll have to take this class, which I will pass. It’ll take an hour or so, and then I get to go shoot stuff.

A lot of people don’t realize that bow shooting is very taxing. You’re bending a piece of wood over and over again, and the string chaffs your fingers and hits your arm. Most people forget this, in the same way that most people forget how sore your shoulder gets after a day of skeet shooting, but I won’t.

I’ll remember. I always remember stuff like that. Bad stuff.

But I won’t be going because I’m tough. I’m not tough, I just don’t like complaining.

I’ll go because there’s a group of idiots who want me to go with them, and someone else wanting to do something with you so badly that they bother you incessantly about it is the most special thing in the whole world. It’s how I vet my activities, not because I don’t want to do anything until I know it’s good, but because my default state is to not want to do anything at all.

At least when it involves other people.

It’s why I didn’t answer your text. I got nervous and put my phone away. It’s why I didn’t come to your party. I got uncomfortable before I got there, so I just played Call of Duty instead.

It’s why I missed your wedding. I couldn’t afford it and I was embarrassed and I was scared.

I’ll step up to the target, and it will be a paper cut-out of a zombie or something stupid, but I won’t care, because there will be a person to my left who does, and a person to my right who does, too.

I’ll let fly. The arrow will whisper through the wind and the smile will spread across my lips like the drawing of a bowstring. Like the bending of wood.

It’ll spread with a creak, and I’ll look at us.

Oh, you ragged band of fools.

Here we are, shooting borrowed arrows at stupid zombies. Here we stand, laughing and exulting, for a moment forgetting about everything wrong in the world and everything wrong with ourselves.

Oh, you stupid, young things.

We buy gifts for each other with money we don’t have. We hang out on balconies and smoke and talk about movies and music and politics and love as if we know anything about it, anything at all.

The green neon of the McGee’s self storage sign always makes Erich look like a goblin. He acts like one, too.

We play board games on IKEA tables and play music with instruments our parent’s bought us in high school.

We stay up late at night, alone, tossing and turning in our sheets, stunted fans lazily whirling overhead, and we dream. We dream of a world where we’re potent, where our opinions matter, where we get to do what we love and get paid for it, too.

We dream. It’s all we’ve ever done and, in the end, it’ll probably be all we ever did.

Oh, you ragged band of fools, you hopeless phalanx of dreamers. It’s on your back that empires are built, that planets are visited, that the world is changed. You haul the stones step by bloody step. You finish marathons inch by bloody inch. You write novels word by bloody word.

This isn’t about me. It’s about all of us. It’s about yesterday and today and tomorrow, too. It’s about what you’re going to do when you wake up and about what you did and about what you’re doing and about who you’re with and about who you want to be with and about the sky and the sun and the moon and the stars and it’s about an arrow.

It’s about an arrow that I’m going to shoot at a stupid zombie, and it’s about how I’m not even going to watch it.

Instead, I’ll just watch my friends.

I’ll watch the bowstring tighten across their faces, too.

And I’ll know, without even looking, the arrow hit its mark.

Witches And Other Such Nonsense


three witches

Some of my more loyal followers may recall the dust up I had with a coven of witches about two years ago, so it might come as no surprise that the real reason I moved from the East Coast to California was not, in fact, to chase my dreams of selling words to people, but was rather simply to get away from witches.

I don’t have a peculiar odor, I don’t leave food out overnight, and I don’t feel attuned to any sort of magic, and yet I attract witches like a playground attracts creepy forty-year-old men in sunglasses. At least the witches don’t sit on benches, legs spread wide, and toy with their mustaches while muttering “yeah, that’s good. That’s real good.”

But I digress.

I moved West to get away from witches. Imagine my surprise, then, when I woke up yesterday to the sound of someone bouncing pebbles off of my third story sliding glass door. I rolled over and curled a pillow around my ears. This had little effect on the pebbles, which bounced and pinged off the doors with  abandon.

“Hells bells!” I roared, throwing off my sheets and rising like Nosferatu from my slumber. I manhandled the sliding glass door open. It had fallen out of the grooves months ago, and now slides as easily as the boulder in front of Jesus’s tomb did.

Divine help is required.

I looked over the balcony ledge. Three women in ratty black robes stared up at my balcony. One was short, one was tall, and one was pretty. I’m not saying that the other two weren’t pretty, I just know witches, and I know that’s how they prefer to categorized.

“Can I help you?” I asked them.

They entered into a conversation with each other. I couldn’t hear what they said. Minutes passed.

“Okay, I’m going back inside. Don’t throw rocks at my windows anymore.”

“We weren’t throwing rocks,” the tall one said. I looked at the stones in her hand.

“Pebbles. Whatever, look, the point is I don’t want you throwing anything at my window short of gold doubloons, okay?”

“We were just trying to get your attention! “The short one said. She twirled her brown hair around her index finger.

I waved my hands in the air, irritably. “You have it, madame! But to what end?”

“Well,” the pretty one said, “we’re three witches –”

“I already know,” I shouted.

“How?”

“Because, sadly, the only women who would come into the creepy alley behind my house and hurl projectiles at my broken sliding glass door to get my attention wouldn’t be anyone normal!”

They balked at the world normal. Red crept up my neck.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean normal. You know what I meant.”

“We know exactly what you meant,” the tall one spat, with the sort of vigorous hatred only an old person could muster, “we fly on broomsticks, dance naked in the moonlight, seduce young men tour our beds, kill them, talk to frogs and commune with the devil, but since it doesn’t fit into your WASP worldview, it isn’t normal, right?”

“Hey…”

“Ass hole” the tall one said.

“Now look here, if anyone’s the ass hole, it’s your three… or should I say you three are all ass holes, for throwing rocks –”

“– pebbles –”

“– things at my window!”

“We just wanted your attention,” she short one began.

“But again, ladies, why?”

The pretty one straightened her robes. “We were wondering what you were doing tonight.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. Maybe you’d want to come over, watch some Netflix and chill.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“You just said you lure men into your beds and kill them.”

The pretty one shoved the tall one. “Damn it, Gretchen.”

“Well I’m sorry,” Gretchen said, not sounding sorry at all, “but he got me all riled up talking about normal this and normal that. Normal! What the fuck is normal, anyway?”

“Normal is not telling our prey we’re going to lure him to our beds and then kill him.”

I rested my head on the balcony’s ledge. “I didn’t think California had witches.”

“We’re everywhere, buddy.”

“Yeah, get used to it.”

“I’m going back inside,” I told them.

“Wait wait wait wait wait!” the pretty one shouted. I stopped.

“What?”

She fished around in her robe for a few moments and pulled out an apple. “Want a shiny red apple? I swear there’s nothing sinister about it… ” The witches covered their mouths and giggled.

“Sure! Toss it here!” I said with fake enthusiasm. She threw me the apple, and I hurled it down the alley. A cat screeched.

“Hey! It took days to poison that!” The pretty one shouted.

The short one hit her. “Shut up, yah idiot.”

The pretty one made an aggravated noise and tried to poke the short one in the eyes. The short one intercepted the poke.

“Oh, a wise guy, huh?” The short one waved a fist around in the air, ready to strike. The pretty one watched it. The short one smiled, and then kicked her in between the legs.

I swear to god, the pretty one’s eyes crossed.

“Hey,” the tall one said, coming over and knocking the other two’s heads together, “knock it off!”

SLAM! My sliding door shut, and I was gone form the balcony.

The witches stared at the balcony.

“Our stooges routine didn’t even work!” the short one said.

“Fuck LA. This place is no good for witches.” The tall one said. “There aren’t even woods to cavort in.”

“Lets go back east.”

“This guy wouldn’t have been good anyway.”

“I bet he never gets lured into people’s beds.”

“Hah, burn!”

I threw the sliding glass door open. “I CAN STILL HEAR YOU! I’M CALLING THE POLICE.”

“Fine, fine,” the tall one said, holding up her hands, “we’re going.”

The witches shuffled off and left.

I watched them go, and then felt kind of bad, so I checked my phone.

October fourth. Twenty-seven days to halloween.

They’ll find someone.

Maybe I will too.

sexy witch

Farewell


Farewell

 Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_-_Google_Art_Project

A twinkling star shone bright for me

One night I asked it why.

Its twinkling light diminished,

And then it vanished in reply.

I pondered long what I had done

To cause the star to go.

I ponder of it still today

Perhaps I’ll never know.

%d bloggers like this: