in training

Back into it. I guess I must be doing okay at work, since they’re offering me extra work most people don’t get (or want, perhaps).

It’s not the greatest job, but as I learn more about who does what in the government and our division, I’m beginning to see that there may be other options.

I mean, as long as this writing thing isn’t paying the bills, which it’s not.

I’ve made exactly zero dollars thus far.

Of course, I don’t expect to make anything off poetry and short stories. Maybe comics. Maybe the hip little ditties if I compile them into a larger volume.

A book of short stories or poetry might work, but I’m a long way from that, and let’s face it – it’s not going to land me on the moon.

That’s the novel prerogative, and even then, it’s dicey. You gotta be good to be great and great to make any cash, which is bullshit.

We massively undervalue art in this world, always have. The absolute cream can make a living; the rest of us are scraping by.

And I don’t believe in the starving artist. I do believe that too much wealth corrupts.

But making a living?

That shouldn’t be something we have to fight for.

Target: 300 words
Written: 176 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Face It, Debbie Harry
Comics: Sex Criminals 5-8
Music: Jeremy - EP, Pearl Jam (have we deciphered the actual words to Yellow Ledbetter yet?)

so begins canon

I’ve been poking at it for a while. Haikus and flash fiction are all good, and comic book scripts and thinly veiled political rants are something else, but proof of life, proof of concept, of talent, skill, hard work, dedication, adaptability, open-mindedness, and good old fashioned sex appeal lay in the pudding.

(Or Jello wrestling mud pit, if we’re talking that last thing).

The point is, there’s no me, as I want me to be, without books. Reading is only halfway to completion. It’s the act of creation (which is really just exploration and discovery, connection and understanding), that’s the thing that fills the cup.

(Or Jello mud wrestling pit).

The bottom line is, me as I am now? I’m not happy with that person. That person sucks. That person write split-sentence haikus and pretentious shit about hats.

(I love them both dearly).

This person that I want to be? He gets dark. He gets into it. He understands subtext and trauma and helplessness in the face of adversity.

He knows how to crush you – your soul anyway.

(He’d likely lose in the Jello pit).

I want to make you uncomfortable; to remember that happy endings are not the only endings, and neither are grand tragedies.

Sometimes, it’s the little tragedies that wreck us whole.

Target: 300 words
Written: 794 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Getting Things Done, David Allen
Comics: Southern Bastards 9-12
Music: You Only Live Once, The Strokes (The Strokes with Eddie Vedder doing Marvin Gaye? Fuck me sideways, does it get better than that?)

get back again

(or, a message from the patriarchy from beyond the grave)

Yeah, I see you.

Picking through the clothing rack at Niemann’s like nothing’s ever been wrong. Holding up paisley blouses and ankle length skirts, like you’re trying on a new persona. You’re gonna need a new persona. After what you did to me.

Look at your face. That sheen of serenity, skipping around from clothes to kitchenware to electronics. It’s all so put on, isn’t it? Holding up bathmats and kitschy glass vases, face as placid as a mountain lake, clear and still, like you got nothing to hide. And yet.

And yet.

You got something to hide, don’t you?

You think you look inconspicuous, like you don’t got something looming over you. You hail taxis and smile with perfect teeth at the driver as you hand him a big tip. Yeah. I got a big tip, ripe for you. Always had one, didn’t I? The biggest. I know you’ve never seen one so big in your whole damn life. Never. And you’re never gonna see it again.

But I see you.

You step out of the cab, into the sunshine, onto the street. Bare your face to it, like it exists for you and you alone. You and your little friends.

Tell me how big I am. Go on. Like you used to. You remember that? Down on your knees before me because that’s the way I wanted it? Yeah. I liked that. You knew exactly how goddamned big I was. The biggest. The best you ever had. Everything was right in the world, then.

You’re at work now, slicked down in a pantsuit, with your hair swept back in an uptight bun, all professional and hip. Coworkers swirl around your desk and perch on its edge, begging you to go out to lunch or happy hour or some cottage for the weekend. You think these people are your friends? They wouldn’t stop to pick you up off the pavement, if you were run down.

I’d like to run you down, after what you did.

You and your friends. Your happy, smiling little friends. All those little urchins. Those little nobodies.

There you go. Fucking charity work again. You think you drop a couple of pesos in Santa’s bucket outside Macy’s and that makes it all better? You work the soup kitchen once a week, tutor some underprivileged kids, and it’s gonna erase what you done?

Yeah. I see you.

You always were too weak. Too soft. A bleeding heart.

Look at me. Look at me, damn it! I was strong. Bigger than the tallest mountain. Like a goddamn monster truck. The biggest. The baddest. And it was written all over your face, lying there on the floor, mascara all smeared, because you couldn’t take a fucking joke. Christ. It’s not like I beat you or anything, not really, not bad. But sometimes, you deserved it. Sometimes, you were out of line. Tell me to be nice to the waiter, or some yardworker, not to call the Mexicans what they are. The Negros. Oh, I won’t say the words, because I know how much it offends your delicate sensibilities. They come to our country and you’re just okay with that? Come on in, right? What, you got some kinda kink for the busboy? You see those protestors out in the streets with their black flags and all you can think is how they got the big ones, not like your poor, pathetic old man?

Maybe I ought to say those words, see if you hear me after that.

Pay attention. Look at me when I’m talking to you.

Look down from your ivory tower, way down, into the trenches. Where the real people live. Real men. Men like me. A man nobody denies anything. The man in charge. In charge of all the rabble. I’ll be standing there, match in hand, hell, a fucking flamethrower, and I’m gonna burn it all down. Every last inch of your precious little castle.

But not before I get you first.

Yeah. I see you. At a party now, done up real fine, like you’re showing off. Like you’re on display. Is there no decency left in this world? Dress like that, you deserve what you get. Knock me off and then hit the town, dressed like some kind of whore, all legs and tits and bedroom eyes? You trying to shame me? I’m not here to defend myself, so you skip on out willy nilly with whoever the hell you want? Doesn’t matter to you, does it? No, you’re out with your slut friends, leaving it all out in the wind, with all them Mexicans and Negros you love, hell, probably with each other, way you’ve been corrupted. One sicko orgy, where everyone fucks everybody else, until the whole damned world starts claiming rape and lack of consent? And then what?

That what you want?

The whole goddamned world, feasting on itself? With Negros and queers? Goddamned bleeding hearts?

And I’m no longer here to blame.

You don’t know what you did, when you disrupted the natural order of things. Me over you and you in your place. The way it’s meant to be. The word from God himself. You threw a wrench into the works when you did what you did. Twisted the pecking order all up. And now you wanna argue with God.

You think you’re on top of the pile? All that sweetness and kindness, the sham charity and new age hippie bullshit, putting guys like me under your heel? If the people around you knew what you did, what would they say? If they knew about that night, the night you made the error of picking up that hammer. Look at me, goddamn it! Turn around.

Watching you is like staring into the abyss, through a distant window pane, shimmering behind a trickle of raindrops, a mist on the window of reality, and me stuck out here beyond it.

Because of you, and what you did.

Pay attention! Goddamnit! Turn around!

You’re going through the motions, wherever you go. I can see it. I can see you. Can you see me? I see you at home. At work. At a cafe with friends. I see you, everywhere. You and your bleeding heart buddies, out there pretending like the world is anything but cold, hard hierarchy, whipping your hands out for every down-on-their-luck sob story that hits your ears. Don’t you get it? The goal is to step down and step down hard, because the world is the way it is, the way it ought to be and anything else is just slick Ricks telling you what you want to hear in order to take your hard earned cash and give it to some lazy fuck who doesn’t deserve it. I’d fry the whole lot of you if I could.

You hear me?

Look at you. Skipping down the street, not a care in the world. Yeah, I see you. Always. I see everything. I see you on the couch, scarfing down wine, eyes locked on some elitist Hollywood shit on the TV. I see you undress at night. When you’re in the shower. I see you when you’re out with one of them, one of those soft boys, and it makes me wanna howl with rage. I’d put you all down if I could.

Why can’t you hear me? I’m right goddamned here! Fucking bitch! Fucking whore!

Where was that when we were together? I treated you good. Better than you deserved, that’s for sure, but you didn’t treat me anywhere near well enough. But you learned, didn’t you? You learned what I needed, eventually, the hard way. Couldn’t be any other way. What you should and couldn’t do, what really mattered, before you went all Cain and Abel on me.

That hurt, you know. After all I did for you, to put up with your craziness? Everything I did to make you understand, how things really were? I did it for you. Your benefit. It didn’t make me feel good, you know. I suffered for you. It’s not easy being The Man. That you’d just turn around and plunk, crack, right on the noggin, until I bled and bled and bled no more. The vegetarian, taking out the carnivore? Who’d have thought? What did I do to deserve you? Anything I did, I did because it needed doing. Because you needed smartening up. Because there was always some bottom feeder trying to take what I built. What I let you enjoy. I did it because you needed a firm hand. Because you needed to be taught a lesson. Because, even though you didn’t fucking get it, because you didn’t appreciate anything, I loved you.

I sure don’t love you no more.

Where were those kinds of kisses, when I was around? Where were those tender touches, those acrobatics, those shameless affronteries? Christ, I’d’ve killed you for that. What you done, what you’re doing right here, right now, where I can see you? Don’t you know I can see you?

Look at me!

I can’t touch you. Can’t reach you. But I see everything. Why can’t you hear me?

I liked you better back when I was in charge. When you knew your place. All your squeaking and squawking. You looked better then. Now, you just look old. Ugly. Like a bitch. Do you remember the old days? The days before you betrayed me? When I was the Man? Nothing’s like it was. Now you walk through the world, drenched in sunlight, when you should be scurrying like a rat, cowering in shadows and cracks in the wall. You should be hiding, but here you are, “making the world a better place.”

Am I in a better place, because of you? Am I free to do as I please, free of the responsibility you would have forced upon me? Do I even exist anymore, in your mind? Huh? Is my world “better”?

Show me something on that face. It’s too goddamned peaceful. Too goddamned happy. That smile when you greet your friend, when you stroke the petals of your garden? It’s too goddamned genuine. Do you even remember me, after all this time? How can you be so happy after what you did? Where’s the grief? The guilt.

I’ve been watching you since you did me in and I haven’t seen a damned thing.

I’ve watched your muscles strain, your brain sizzle, your heart bulge to the point of bursting. I’ve seen you hug friends and kiss lovers and cradle children. I’ve seen you march in the streets. I’ve seen you in absolute ecstasy, so lost to it, the world disappears. I’ve seen it all and I’m starting to wonder.

Do I even register anymore? Am I even here?

Why can’t you hear me? I haven’t gone anywhere!

Look at me.

Was I that bad? Was I so horrific? I liked things the way they were, was that so wrong? Why the hell did you need to go and change everything? I liked us, how we were. The whole world, in the palm of my hand. And I’m supposed to feel bad about that? Other people not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, coming to our country, living off our dime? Changing our traditions?

You called it patriarchy, but it was just the way we did things. Was that so bad?

So bad you had to end me forever?

Yeah, okay, fine. I regret some things. Maybe I was a little over the top at times. I could have maybe been nicer, but it’s not my fault those people can’t take a joke. I was just trying to keep it all together, don’t you get that? I did it so we could stay together.

I regret losing you.

I do.

I regret that you thought you had to, you know, do what you did.

And it hurt, you know. What you did. What you cost me. What you took. I lost everything, because of you. Because you couldn’t get with the plan. Because you couldn’t let go of all that bleeding heart bullshit you love so much. Loved more than me, that’s for sure. And after all I did. After everything I went through, for you. You wanted to give all away. To those people?

God, to think of all the years I had to listen to you blubber on about equality and rights and justice. You think I don’t love justice? I love a good hanging. I love sticking it to ’em. And what about my rights, huh? I got rights too, you know.

Look at me, goddamn it.

For years, I had to put up with your shit. Listen to you plead and beg and do everything in your power to force me to think like you do. To fix things that weren’t broke. You wanted me to put the needs of someone who shouldn’t even live here, or lives like some kind of goddamn deviant, over my own. Why the hell would I do that? Of course, I ignored you. Bullshit in words, am I right? I did what I wanted, because I wanted to. Time and again, right over top of you, like a steamroller, because you didn’t leave me a choice. You made me do it. Not that it mattered. It still doesn’t, you just haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t know why you can’t hear me. Why you can’t see me anymore.

What am I? A ghost?

Pay attention.

Nothing is going to stop me, no matter what. I don’t care if you end up bleeding on the floor. Hell, you already did, more than once. You had to, for your own good. So you would listen.

Listen.

I’m tired. I don’t know what I did, but ever since you cracked me on the head, it’s like you don’t even know I’m here. You’re too busy dancing around in your fairy circles with all your little buddies. But I am here. And you have to remember me. How could you not? Where did all the guilt go? All the shame over what you did to me?

Why won’t you acknowledge my existence?

Where are you going? Why can’t you see me?

I was so important to you. The centre of your entire world. Even when you were at your most shrill, when you were shrieking about equal rights and reparations and the patriarchy, it was still all about me.

And now, you can’t even feel me? I’m not even a memory?

Blood on your hands and I don’t even rate an afterthought, in your perfect harmony.

Is it possible? Could I…? I wasn’t the problem. I couldn’t be.

Was I?

For a moment, I could almost…

You slip into your breakfast nook. It’s been years. Decades. I’m barely a shadow. A shadow behind a shadow, as I gaze upon your face. It’s been so long. Could I have been wrong? The whole world seems settled. At peace. Whose doing was that? It all seems so different. Better? No, it couldn’t be.

Could it?

Your eyes glisten in the twilight as the sun falls toward the horizon. A cup of tea warms the palms of your hands. I am so far away, and so close beside you. I swear I could touch you, but the more I reach, the farther you get.

It’s been forever. Do you blame me anymore? Do you remember me? Remember what you called me? Do you remember my name?

No. How could you? Your hands are squeaky clean, the blood long since scrubbed off. It was all me. You did what you had to do, to move on. Your gaze never wavers, locked on the horizon as it bursts into a tapestry of autumn colours. The sunset flashes in your eyes as it settles into night. And for a moment, a moment…

Recognition.

I saw it. I swear.

A glimpse of remembrance.

You do remember me, don’t you? Yeah, that puts a smile on my face.

It was never me at all.

It was always you. My time is coming back. I am coming back. Coming for you. You and your little friends, in your fancy new world, galloping about like a bunch of limp-wristed pantywaisters, happy and blind. You wait. Wait until I get back. I ‘m gonna tear it all up. Rebuild it in my image. The way it ought to be.

And when I do, all the things you feared, all the things you tried to leave behind, for your better world?

Well, listen hard. You will remember me. You will know my name.

When I get back again, you will not forget.

Target: 300 words
Written: 1007 words, short story: Get Back Again

Read: Getting Things Done, David Allen
Comics: Southern Bastards 5-8
Music: You Forgot It In People, Broken Social Scene
In case it's not obvious - that's the final draft of the short story I'm working on and not a manifesto.  I am praying that it is clear who the bad guy is; I've no desire to be a right wing icon. 

Right wingers: YOU'RE THE BAD GUYS.  That's how history will remember you - as evil.  The sooner you figure that out, the better off we'll all be.

the ineffable hat

“This hat is ineffable,” he said.

She had to agree. The way it contoured his head, at once enlarging and somehow, amplifying his cranium, struck her as near impossible. Unexplainable.

“Might I try it?” she asked.

He agreed, but only on the terms that she have a hat of her own. There was a flash as the man spun in a wild, enthusiastic gambol. Light emanated from atop his head. She held up her hands to shield her eyes and something dropped into her lap – a brand new hat. She picked the newly formed hat up in her hands and examined it closely, before placing it on her head. There was something wonderful about the hat, at once masterfully complex and wonderfully benign.

The hat was indeed ineffable, she decided, faceted as it was to astutely represent the whole of the deftly transcendent and the undeniably simple. How like life, she thought, as the man bounded away, hat both askew and not askew – a multifarious and crystalline explosion, reflected and refracted in impossible planes and colours through infinite refinement, on simplistic foundations. She adjusted the hat on her head. A passerby smiled at her.

“Nice hat.”

“Yes,” she returned the smile. “It’s ineffable.”

Target: 100 words
Written: 213 words, short story: The Ineffable Hat

Read: Choose Yourself by James Altucher
Comics: Pretty Deadly 5-8
Music: Waltz #2, Elliott Smith, Zeitgeist, Smashing Pumpkins