Transmissions Scout Stokes listened attentively as the call of a distant-sounding voice rose just above the roar of static on the net.
"Charlie-6, this is Red Horse. Break. We are not alone. Over."
Stokes pushed his headset into his ear with one hand and feverishly scribbled the message down with the other.
"Copy, Red Horse. What is your grid?"
Stokes waited a few seconds for a reply, but heard nothing more.
"Red Horse, I say again, what is your grid? Over."
This was his first night on watch, and Stokes was already on edge. Had he done something wrong? He checked his notes. He had done everything correctly. Why didn't Red Horse respond?
Stokes looked over at Sergeant Riley's tent. The words, "Don't wake me up unless it's life or death," ran through his mind. Sergeant Riley was a stickler for the rules, and that was rule number one.
After a few seconds of contemplating the severity of the situation, Stokes decided it could indeed be life or death, and went over to wake Sergeant Riley.
"I don't hear anyone dying. This better be good."
"That's precisely it, Sergeant," Stokes stammered. "I don't hear anything."
"Of course you don't hear anything, you dumb sh*t. We're here to maintain the post. This net is only used for training exercises. There aren't any exercises scheduled for at least the next two months."
Stokes' eyes opened wide. Then who was on the net?
"I have you monitoring the net just for sh*ts and giggles. Captain O and I thought it would be good for you to get in the habit of standing a watch, but clearly you can't even handle that without a hand to hold. You're never going to-"
Stokes started to look pale.
"Ok. That's it. You're off the watch. We'll have to tell Captain O. He's gonna be pissed, and I won't be able to save you."
Sergeant Riley snatched Stokes up by the collar and marched him over to Captain Ortega's tent.
"What in God's name were you two yelling about over there?" Captain O growled as he stood up.
"This piece of sh*t can't even stand watch right, Sir. Now he's looking all sick like he's gonna just die on us."
Captain O looked at Stokes, then at Riley.
"Stokes, why are we awake right now?"
"Sir, I received a transmission. From Red Horse." Stokes whispered shakily. "They said 'we're not alone', but they never gave me a grid, and they never came back on the net. So, it was probably nothing. I'm sorry."
Captain Ortega stared at Stokes and Riley in disbelief. After several seconds of silence, the older man's expression hardened, and he addressed the young men in a somber tone.
"Well, boys. Do you want the good news or the bad news? Honestly, you probably won't believe me either way, but here's the short version: 'Red Horse' was the call sign for a platoon that went out on patrol from this post and never came back."
Stokes and Riley exchanged glances.
"No bodies, and no engagements reported. A lot of people lost their careers over the whole thing because nobody could figure out what the hell happened. That call sign was retired years ago. The good news is that they're still out there. The bad news is that if they're not alone, we're not alone either. Boys, we're all on watch tonight. I'll call it in to headquarters and see if we can get some backup. I'm afraid this is just the beginning."
I feel myself begin to hollow.
I'm not prepared for what's to follow.
And in the clutch of sudden empty,
my mind is heavy, dark, resenting.
I yearn for love, for voice, for touch.
To be with beings - together and such.
I wonder if they feel it too,
"someones" alone inside their rooms,
before they sleep and dream their dreams
Do they think about "someones" like me?
And if they do - well - does it help?
And if it does, how could I tell?
My thoughts begin to turn to dreams
as loneliness abandons me.
My empty's filled. The feeling passes.
Heavy's light. And love amasses.
As I lay my head on your chest,
your arms close around me
and take me so far
into every feeling that is lovely.
I feel like I’m melting...
I have a thousand things to do.
- a thousand things I wish to prove.
I'm fit and fast,
and tough and mean -
I'm strong and good;
and light and clean.
Fuck my feelings
Fuck my dreams
Fuck my thoughts,
and all such things.
My dream is this-
and my esteem:
To be a picture perfect winner
-and this I mean-
To cook the PERFECT evening dinner.
To be the perfect man and perfect wife -
for men like me, there is such strife.
Fool me once.
Fool me twice.
Fuck you once.
Fuck you nice.
In the midst of my disorder
you find some love in barking orders
that make us whole
and take me over.
I've made a front
that makes you wonder.
Fuck me once
and fuck me nice.
You've fooled me once.
Please fool me twice.
In the midst of your disorder -
I find the love in barking orders
that make us whole
and take you over.
You've made a front
that makes me wonder.
Love I have, and love I'll keep -
From folks like you who steal such things.
The trouble is in your tempatation,
You lovely, lonely fascination.
My hands are tied, and heart is bound.
My mouth your name will never sound.
And maybe in another life,
our paths could mystically align.
But not this life, and not this time.
Today is my first day off of work in two years. Today, my alarm clock didn’t go off at 4:30AM. Instead, I was awakened by the white-hot light of the Florida sun inconsiderately assaulting my eyelids. Looks like my natural wake time is actually around 8:30AM. Who knew?
I sat up and stretched my arms out above my head, just like all the pretty girls in the movies do when they wake up. I popped out of bed and slipped into my coziest sweatpants. I didn’t really have a plan for the day. I just wanted to get on the next bus out of my small town and lose myself in a city - any city.
I walked over to my closet and pushed aside my usual greys and navy blues, khakis, and dress pants. What was hiding in the back? What outfit could I choose to associate this day with for the rest of my life? Then I remembered. It was crazy, but it could be perfect. I had a trashy, tiny pink glitter mini dress from my best friend’s bachelorette party and a pair of miles-high stilettos I could wear with it. I spent the next few hours on makeup, hair, dressing, laying on the couch, and eating a quart of ice cream. Oh, how I’ve missed being myself!
Armed with my showy dress, my sexiest lingerie, my trampiest makeup, and my biggest hair, I strutted down the hall with strides miles wide. I bought a hot dog from the street cart on the corner. Then, I crossed the street and walked over to the bus stop. I took a seat on the bench next to a handsome-looking business man. He was tan, with beautiful dark hair he had combed neatly up and to the side. I noticed him eyeing me while I was crossing the street. Taking an extreme risk, I deliberately placed a small dab of mustard on his pant leg when he looked away.
“Excuse me, Sir,” I began, “I hate to bother you, but I just spilled some mustard on your pant leg there. I’m so sorry!”
“Oh, that’s alright,” he said, looking me up and down.
“Let me just get that for you,” I offered. I licked my thumb and rubbed it slowly up his thigh to get the mustard. What the f*ck am I doing?!
I looked into his eyes, blushing behind my makeup. He was blushing too!
Luckily, before things could get awkward, the bus arrived, and I was separated from my mustard spill fantasy lover. I rode the bus all the way to Ybor.
I payed my fare and started my way down the street. I had almost forgotten how crowded cities could get at night. I saw a few clubs that weren’t charging covers for ladies. I decided on one called Honey Pot. It looked the most inviting, and I was beyond ready to get a drink and start dancing. I got up to the bar and ordered myself a dirty shirley. The bartender stared at me blankly. I pulled out my phone and typed. “Sprite, Grenadine, 1 x Vodka.” I received a nod, and 30 seconds later, a drink. After paying, I turned around and found myself face to face with Mustard Man.
“Oh! Hey, how’s up - I mean what’s up?” he blurted out nervously.
“Hey there, Mustard Man. Thought I lost you when the bus stopped,” I joked.
“To be honest, I skipped a meeting to follow you here,” he replied smoothly.
“No,” he replied as he looked me over again and ran a hand back through his hair, “I just didn’t know where else to hang out tonight, and you were pretty easy to spot in that dress!”
“Well, if you’re looking to have a fun time tonight, be my guest! I’m Rori, by the way. And you are - ”
” - Tom, I’m Tom. I’m sorry, but I can’t be Mustard Man for the rest of the night,” he chuckled.
I laughed, and then I snorted. Loudly. I'm glad that was Rori, not me.
We danced the night away and enjoyed a few more drinks together. Then, I took Tom back to my place.
The next morning, I woke up to my blaring alarm in the dark, and it was time to be Ted again. Just Ted at Best Buy, selling you some flashy new TV and upgrading your warranty on the way out. I sat in bed and contemplated the consequences of not going to work and concluded that hot water is a good enough incentive to go. I showered, got dressed, slammed a cup of coffee, and made my way to the door. Just before I left, I noticed a mustard packet Tom had jokingly left on the bookshelf. I slipped it into my pocket with a smile, and remembered how good it felt to be loved as myself.
From one lonely surfer soul to Another:
I am lonesome tonight;
And paging you,
wherever you are;
sweetly singing siren songs
along to the reverberating melodies
of your guitar strings.
Tonight, I'll sleep
and dream of only you.
For Storms Like You
You're like a rainy day;
full of cuddles and warm blankets-
sweet, like hot cocoa.
You make me laugh, like a stack of
romantic comedy DVDs
You're like a rainy day-
refreshing everything you touch;
cleansing the earth and my spirit,
reminding me to wonder;
and even delight in everything
stripped clean of its complications.
You're cool like the water
streaming down the window pane.
Quietly extraordinary when you look
into my eyes
and whisper to my spirit-
like small droplets on soft grass.
Yet you're thunderously bold
when you hold me close and
slide your hand down my back-
when I feel you
like I hear raindrops
beating against the thin
tin shell of my body-
pelting my skin powerfully;
sweetly assaulting my senses.
And as much comfort as there is in shelter,
I need your open, pouring love
to come down over me like a storm.
like I would on any rainy day,
I do believe I'll stay outside,
to take you in
while you pass by.
I'll never be like Edgar Poe
I'll be myself and try hard though.
For I know love, and I know loss.
And I know words, and I've been crossed.
The heart I've got could write all day,
The mind I've got can make it that way.
I'm dark sometimes, but love brings light
I'll write about how love's light bites!
I'll write until the day I die,
but I'll never be Poe
- and how could I?
I saw my ex today. We sniffed eachother's butts and walked away...
I mean, that's how it would've been if we were dogs. Oh, how I wish we were dogs! Instead, we chatted. The conversation got off to a bit of a rocky start. He never was much of a conversationalist, even with the advantage of his low Georgia drawl.
"You're here." He said, almost questioningly.
Not "hi", not "how've you been?". Although - much to my relief and surprise - nothing racist, loud, or inappropriate.
It had been four years since the last time we'd seen one another. Yet, there was a familiar staleness between us while we stood there talking. I never had a name for it while we were together. Although, I realized today, it was pure disconnection. I can't name a time where I ever truly loved him as much as I said I did. Instead of feeling rage, curiosity, or longing; or any of those typical feelings we tend to have around ex-lovers, I felt at peace. I felt closure.
Grey strands had appeared in his dark brown hair, but he's still the same. His changes happened outside. Mine did not. I've done a lot of growing up since my 18-year-old self fell head over heels for the first man she'd ever had sex with. I have my own boundaries. I have my own ambition. I am confident alone, and together with my husband. I'm not searching and trying to be a part of someone anymore. Finally, I am someone.
The parting handshake felt like I was extending my hand over a continent to meet his. It wasn't a bad talk, but I still wish I could've just sniffed his butt instead.