“I regret to inform you that your village must be razed to make way for our new ‘road’ through this area.” The legionary in leathers smiled apologetically as his feet squished into the boggy soil.
The druid in his robe stared at him. “What?”
“We’re building a ‘road’, you see. It’s this very efficient way of leveling the earth so carts and the like can move along it better.” The legionary picked up one foot, dripping with muck. “I think you’ll find it’s much, much cleaner than the system you have now.”
“But - why do you need to raze our village?”
“See we’ve already built most of the road,” he explained. “To move around this town would take a lot of extra work and manpower, which we’re a bit thin on right now what with the occupation and all. It’s more efficient if we just raze this village and have you all relocate.”
“Why would we do that? This is our home!”
Looking around the boggy area, the legionary frowned. “Honestly, I feel like you could upgrade to a nicer neighborhood. Maybe a less wet one? Anyway, the folks south of you all capitulated, so we just need you to do the same or else we’ll be forced to kill you and then raze your village.”
“You would kill us for a road?”
“Oh no, we’re not killing you for a road,” the legionary explained. “We’re killing you because you’re godless heathens who haven’t accepted our lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”
The druid blinked. “Who?”
“Jesus? Son of God?” The legionary tapped his foot with a squishy sound. “You have heard of him, yes?”
“We have our own gods,” the druid insisted.
The legionary shook his head, “Oh no, see, you have false gods. We’ve realized it’s far easier to have just one true God - capital G - and we’re uniting everyone under his benevolence. But don’t worry,” he assured the older man, “you’ll get to keep all your same heathen holidays and celebrations. Honestly we quite like them, lots of fun and whatnot. We’ve just rebranded them a bit so we’re all on the same page.”
“Yes - for example, your upcoming solstice this spring? We’ve converted it to the celebration of the day Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected.”
“Your god’s son is dead?”
“Was dead,” the legionary corrected quickly. “Then resurrected. Actually, if you think about it, you’re sacrificing what, two goats a year every solstice? With our holiday there are no sacrifices needed - because Christ was already sacrificed, so we just have a bit of bread and some wine for symbolism. Far easier and less messy.”
Horror turned the druid’s grey beard nearly white. “You sacrificed the son of your god? And he hasn’t struck you down?”
“Oh no! It was all a misunderstanding, really - we weren’t sure he was the son of God at first, because he certainly didn’t act like one. Carousing about with truly terrible crowds, honestly. Who would have guessed he was being all ‘compassionate’, you know? And we didn’t sacrifice him, per se, we sort of tortured him until he bled out.” The legionary paused then quickly continued, “Which sounds awful, but it was all part of his plan, see, because he sacrificed himself. He popped up again like a daisy days later and forgave us. It’s all water-through-the-aqueduct now.” The legionary beamed as the druid continued to stare at him like a madman.
“And you want us to abandon our homes and follow your god, who sends his own son down to be tortured and killed by his followers?”
“God works a bit mysteriously, sure.” The legionary nodded in understanding. “I mean, he tried communicating through a shrubbery at one point, and who listens to ‘sacred plants’ anyway, am I right?” He grinned, but the druid’s gaze only narrowed in response. “You won’t have to worry about that, because our priests will tell you what he’s really saying when you go to our churches - which we are also building, all along these roads.” Waving again at the expanse of bog around them, the legionary finished, “You understand now why we need to raze your town?”
“No. We refuse.”
“Ah,” the legionary said, his face falling in disappointment. “That’s a pity. Truly. We’ll have to send in the legion to kill you all, now. And since you haven’t accepted God and his son as your true savior you’ll all go to Hell.”
“We don’t know this ‘Hell’,” the druid insisted.
“I know, which is why you’re all doomed. It’s imperative, really, that we build these roads and help convert you all because even if we didn’t kill you, you’d all go there anyway. You’d just live longer, happier lives beforehand.”
Leaning on his staff, the druid’s robes billowed in the wind. “This is lunacy!”
“Right, well, moving along,” The legionary reached into his satchel and pulled out a piece of parchment. “Let’s just jot down an invasion then for sometime next week. How’s this day work for you? Hmm....I always have trouble reading these local Germanic names, we’ve really got to get some Latin established up here...what, Thor’s-day?” His brows furrowed. “Huh, ‘Thor’, that’s a different sounding name. Strong. Kind of neat. Could make a great character in a story or something.”
“You can’t simply kill us and pave over us like bumps on your precious road! We want to live!”
“Silly fool, it’s not your life that’s important,” the legionary corrected him, “it’s your afterlife that’s imperative, really. I mean you’ll spend maybe what, twenty or thirty years on this earth? And after you die you’ll spend eternity in Hell. I mean, that’s even worse, isn’t it? Surely you see why this is all for your greater good.”
With a sigh, the legionary returned his parchment to his satchel and adjusted his spear. “Right. I’ll just report back then and we’ll see you all next week. You might want to send your women and children away, you know, for their safety.” As he turned to go he stopped and pointed. “By the way, that’s a fabulous robe you have. Looks awfully useful, it’s so bloody windy out here. I don’t suppose you have an extra laying about? Or maybe a blanket? Possibly just a towel? I really ought to carry one of those. Blasted weather you’ve got out here, it’s always so damp.”
Old Max walked on, lone footsteps, drenched in sweat, passing the general store and Doc Ryder’s place, where the two lion heads were closer to the curb than they should be, and the corner's perfect ninety degree angle rejected the roots of the American Sycamore. The low branches didn’t hamper his step; it was the sound of the music from the open window
interspersed with the moans of two lovers that caused him to pause. No light illuminated from the second story window and he was sure had light been present, he would have slipped behind the massive tree and gazed upward, already feeling the desire of a time long gone.
His heart and his breathing were so thick and heavy there was no way to ignore the skin covering his abdomen as it pressed tightly against his ribs, but he pressed on. Dragging his trodden feet against the uneven granite pavers, geological images deliberated many years ago at university came to him like a returning dove. The untimely death of his father and the downward spiral that followed, halted his aspiration for education, but even though his studies were lacking in practicality, they left him with a perception and understanding of things previously ignored.
His pulse quickened upon his arrival at the side entrance of the Saint John’s Episcopal church as he peered through the basement window. The bright lights were companionable with the spirit of the youth as they spun and dipped to the beat of the music he didn’t understand. He was vaguely familiar with the expression of the boys he observed as they brushed close to the skin of the virgin young ladies dancing gleefully without hesitation. The last song came all too soon while he tried hard not to feel desire for the young neighbor he had promised to deliver home safely. Old man Stewart's diagnoses of polio made it impossible for him to make the journey to pick up his eldest daughter. Old Max helped when he could and said to his neighbor, “It would be no trouble at all. No trouble at all.”
She was lovely.
The Old Man
He dug his old fingers into the ground and scraped away the loose dirt with his nails. The soil was dry and the worms were scarce. It had not rained in weeks and the heat baked the ground into fine brown dust. Behind him, the bayou flowed dark and slow and cut a narrow path through the thick canopy of grey moss tangled and hung upon the ancient cypress trees. The old man took his pliers from his tackle box and stabbed the earth with their point, breaking up the hard ground. He saw the tail of a worm wriggle deeper into the dirt. He grabbed its tail, working the dirt loose around the worm to bring it safely out.
"I got em, Jess," the man said over his shoulder. There was no answer.
He grabbed his cane pole and took the rusty hook in his hand. With care, the old man fed one end of the worm onto the hook, moved the worm down, and hooked his middle, then hooked him once more towards his bottom. He let the baited hook drop into the dust and adjusted the orange bobber so the hook would sit just above the bottom of the muddy bayou floor.
Satisfied with his setup, the old man bent slowly and picked his pole from the dust.
"Now we're ready, Jess," he said.
He swung the line out into the dark water. The orange bobber sunk once then settled still in the water. The man sat his pole on the bank and squatted down to watch the bobber. He ran his dirty fingers through his tangled grey beard and scratched his chin. Sweat ran down from his brow and the back of his neck. Thunder rolled in the distance.
"Here that, Jess? Thunder. Haven't heard that in a while."
He stared at the bobber, still and motionless in the unmoving black water, as if the heat had convinced even the water that it was too hot to flow. Thunder clapped again, this time louder, and closer.
A turtle poked its head out of the water near the old man's line. The turtle looked around and went back under.
"You stay away from my worm," the old man yelled at the turtle.
Just then, the bobber popped up and down, sending little ripples through the water.
"You damn turtle!"
The old man lifted the pole and checked his bait. The turtle had bitten the worm in half, leaving the rest dangling loose on the rusted hook.
"There's still enough left, Jess, to catch us some dinner."
He swung the line out and landed it softly in the water. Again, he squatted down and waited. Minutes passed, and there was no action.
Thunder cracked. The wind grew fierce and blew the moss sideways in the cypress trees. Rain began to pour down. The rain rippled the black water and brought to life the dark bayou.
The old man lifted his face to the sky and let the rain wash the dirt from his wrinkled face. He ran his hands through his beard, felt the refreshing coolness seep into his worn body.
When he looked to the water again, the orange bobber was gone, and the tip of the pole bent towards the water.
"We got him, Jess! Wooo!"
Quick as a young man, he grabbed the pole and raised it out of the water. The line was heavy and he struggled to lift it. The orange bobber appeared first. He pulled harder, the catch heavy and hidden by the black water. He arched his back and pulled with all the strength left in his frail, thin arms.
Finally, he lifted his hook out of the water and saw the turtle, large backed and heavy, appear on the end of the line. When the old man lifted the turtle out of the water, the turtle let go of the hook and dropped into the water, leaving the rusty hook swinging empty in the wind-driven rain.
"He got us again, Jess," the old man said. He stared into the water, rain-soaked and tired. "Guess we'll have to try again tomorrow."
The wind had calmed, but the rain came down harder. The old man turned and walked back up the trail into the woods. The trail was muddy now, and it made the walk back more difficult. About a mile up the trail, he came to a blue tarp strung between two trees. Under the tarp, there were cardboard boxes laid flat atop the mud, and various brands of beer cans strewn across the ground.
He leaned the cane pole against a tree and climbed under the tarp. The old man took off his soaked shirt and wiped it across his head and face. He wiped off his arms and bundled the shirt into a ball and laid down on the cardboard. He put the balled shirt under his head and stared up at the tarp, listening to the rain crash against the fabric. His stomach rumbled.
Maybe the rain will bring more worms, he thought.
"Tomorrow will be better, Jess," he said, staring at the tarp, alone and wet.
The old man closed his tired eyes, felt his worn body aching and old on his cardboard bed. He pictured Jess and the life that seemed so long ago when they were together, and things were different.
The old man fell asleep as the rain crashed against the blue tarp, and the thunder rumbled in the distance.
There are so many books
If you’d just take a look.
There are books made for cooks,
And for classes I took.
For the watching of rooks,
And collecting of hooks,
And how to catch crooks in their boots that they shook.
There are books about
who are crooks
that took hooks,
and those crooks used those hooks
to gather some rooks.
Yes. Those crooks used the hooks to hook rooks they could cook.
Though that story was grim, let’s go out on a limb.
Just seek out a whim and I’ll tell you of them.
There once was a Tim,
Who dunked through a rim.
And speaking of him
reminds me of Jim.
Now, this Jim was not slim.
He was not slim like Tim.
Because unlike Tim,
he did not use the gym.
But he had a nice gem
That he bought from Aunt Kim.
And Jim, Tim, and Kim
Went to the beach for a swim.
Did you like that story?
My, was it a glory!
Oh? Was it boring?
I heard you were snoring.
But now I have something that’s quite guaranteed
to keep you awaker than snakes at high speed:
Zippy Ziggy zagged along
As his puppy wagged along
And his kitty dragged along
to the place they all belonged.
Once arrived, they sung a song.
They sung a song that was quite long.
And, after they had sung the song,
In came a bull, both buff and strong.
This bull was cool.
This bull could pull.
This cool bull pulled them all to school.
And, there in school, they learned a rule:
DON’T BRING COOL BULLS INTO SCHOOL.
Leaving school, the sky decided to rain.
So Ziggy and his friends boarded the train.
On the train, they played peek-a-boo
All the way to Kalamazoo.
So, that’s the story.
That’s the score.
Hope I left you wanting more.
If not, CONGRATS! You did endure.
But you’ll be back for the next tour.
You’ll be back again, I’m sure.
The Crown of Death
The “Crown of Death” had long devastated the city. No other pesitilence had ever been so brutal nor so remarkably displeasing. A large black crown-like emblem could be found indiscriminately and on just one particular aspect of the body. Unlike other diseases of the time, this pestilence didn’t cause any immediate pain. Rather, the disease would slowly disintegrate the body--first, by consuming white blood cells, then by inhabiting the fat. As a natural yet unfortunate intial reaction to the knowledge of this unknown illness, many ignorant individuals welcomed the crown into their lives. They hoped that the weight loss would slim their bodies to their personal fantasies.
The Crown of Death held no care to the plight of the ignorant nor the conscientious. It just wanted to feed and spread. And, due to people’s negligence of each other, spread it did. Once the Crown entered the human body, it would readily take the shape and functionality of the white blood cell. Such trickery allowed for a steady hunt against the "fighter" cells. One by one, the imposter fighter cells would creep upon the white cells before prouncing suddenly towards its prey. It would then quickly absorb the helpless cells. Not long after, the imposter cell would regurgitate the defeated fighter cell, only now it’s internal design and purpose were aligned with the Crown.
Next, Dozens of newly crowned imposter cells would search, locate and infest the fat of the human body. The eating was fast, yet not so fast as to cause uncomfortable aches within the body. The intelligence of the Crown was unparalled. After these two fazes are completed, the Crown now only had to deliver the final devasting blow to the human condition.
People who were at first sleeping or walking, either unaware or conscious of the effects of the Crown would--seemingly out of the blue--suffer great pains. The primary source of the pain was ignited within the stomach. Individuals would whimper and lumber their upper-torso down towards their knees. Once this effect occured, there would be no prayer nor medicine that could take the pain away. The crown worked swiftly and without a care.
Those who began to curl on the floor due to the unrelenting pain would soon recieve another side-effect. Their skin--once clear and smooth--rapidly began to spoil until the epidermis resembled the pigment of darkly shaded clouds. Their teeth were yellowed, their eyes were nearly scarlet and the tounge almost appeared to be made of ash. At this stage, indiviudals rocked themsleves in the fetal position while continuously and incoherently moaning in a tired pain.
The last stage was the most brutal. The bones and ligaments and tendons of the infected would begin to break, twist and reconfigure itself. The body would shrink until its length was comparable to that of a child’s. Spectators and family members watched in horror, somtimes in emotionless stature, as death was swiftly taking place in front of them. In the end, the individual would lay motionless, their bodies transmuted into somehting unspeakable by most and unthinkable by the rest. Their bodies seemed to resemble a Crown-- cold and dark. Then, the Crown of Death would hold illimitable domion over the minds and souls of all.
We are running through the woods, stumbling over leaves, yet to be turned to ash. Our footfalls echo, scream.
The pine trees stretch toward the sky, claw at it, threaten to rip it apart, let shreds of washed out blue scatter in the wind.
I don't know when the darkness will get here. We've run fast, it should be far away. But if I've learned anything, it's that the moment you believe you're safe is the one when you'll feel an icy hand clawing your shoulder.
Nat is breathing hard, her inhalations shallow and her exhalations deep. She won't last long. She's already lost all hope, her eyes are glassy, and they've lost their glow.
We lied our way into getting this far. We wove webs made of silk and twine. We cheated death.
But only temporarily.
The darkness in closing in on us. Has us trapped in the corner, a knife to our throats. It crawls along the forest floor, causing the sprinkling of wild flowers to wither away, collapse into nothing.
We are those flowers. We've known all along. We've tried to deny it. But we are the same. The only purpose of our beauty was so that it could be snatched away from us.
The darkness stalks in circles, winding tighter in tighter. Extends its hand to say hello.
I don't know why we ran. We knew it would come to this. Yet somehow, I think we hoped that an answer would be hidden in the time we stole.
I look Nat in the eyes. She is broken, already gone. But I have one last thing to tell her, one last thing to say before I die.
"I'll always love you."
And then I surrender. The darkness becomes my blood, drains me. It's wrongly peaceful, like drifting of to sleep.
Who knows where I'll wake up.
should i ever go
should i ever go, my darling
bury me in roses
and let the crows
feast upon my bones
the sunset glides
in violent tides biding its time
until you finally die
and lie inside
those hollow bones
of smoke and frozen stones
that years ago you
and that day you will pray
to stay and gaze
upon my radiant face
and i will say
welcome home, my love
Do - End - Repeat - and the author is ...
I have driven him back into the abyss of the darkness where countless hellions live and breathe such as he.
But I will be ever watchful for I know he will return. He always comes back, and when he does, this cat and mouse game will begin again just as it has before.
My friends will die, strangers will die, and many of them by my own hand, or because I put them in harm's way. But it is my nature. It is what I do. My guns loaded, my sights set for his return to do a never-ending battle.
Already, I can hear my name called from distant visages. It is always the same. The screaming. Crying. Pleading. Begging. It will all be for naught.
Be it here on my world or the other, I will suffer consequences no mere mortal could endure and yet continue on. It is the way. The only way.
I had found redemption but even that is tempoary. After all, it is a true statement that when one quest ends, a new quest begins, even in reruns of a constant hell.
But when the time draws high, I shall place my energies at the intersect where all life exists. The only thing that never changes are the roses; the red fields of none.
The sun is high up, and the ocean roars.
Soon, the game of death begins anew.
Gravity. The mysterious force connecting all objects, its inexorable pull what makes planets spin and solar systems move-
But you know the truth, don’t you? Children always know what their elders repress. You see the tiny figures running about on the floor, so infitesimally small that adults, with their heads so far off the ground, don’t notice them. Children however - ah, children have sharp eyes, and can see the gravitarians with their precious hooks. Did you know that each gravitarian can lift up to two million times its own weight? But of course they don’t use this power for lifting. It’s all about pulling.
You have watched as their hooks dig into the sole of a shoe, dragging it back towards the ground as you walk. I’m sure you’ve seen the gravitarians hanging on desperately as an airplane strains upwards against their grappling hooks. If you’re especially observant, you’ve probably seen grappling hooks from other worlds, Solar gravitarians and Martian gravitarians all straining and heaving and gasping as they pull your planet in neat little circles.
Don’t bother the gravitarians - they have a hard job. But when you grow and your head gets so far away from the ground that you can’t see them anymore, do them a favor and remember who prevents you from floating off into space. They could use the encouragement.
The liquor bottles start to pile up if you’re not careful. They really do. They pile up all over your goddamn room and make it not too messy or anything but stereotypical you know. I don’t mean metaphorically or anything. I’ve got demons and all, and maybe the liquor is the cause, but even the straight-edge mormon guys have demons, so I’m not going to generalize or anything and tell you that the liquor piling up means you’re doing life wrong. Who’s anyone to say someone else is doing life wrong? No one, that’s who. Anyway, I had literal liquor bottles all over my room. I didn’t have any other trash. I mean, I’m pretty clean, overall. I had liquor bottles maybe because I didn’t want to put so much glass down the trash chute or maybe because I was sentimental and all. I can be a real sentimental bastard and all. I still have a stuffed animal in my room, but I don’t tell most people I meet about all that. It’s my thing; Why would I? But there’s nothing sentimental really about that Jim Beam I housed the other day. It’s kind of sad, honestly. If I were an adult looking at my room, I’m sure I’d be sad, but what’s the point now to be sad about something like that, you know? I don’t throw them away because they’re so sturdy and all. The glass is thick and the label is always some design that they tricked everyone into thinking is a high class design. Maybe I don’t feel right throwing out someone else’s hard work. Maybe I just feel proud that I drink all that whiskey or tequila or whatever the hell. Obviously that’s not it, and if it was, I wouldn’t tell you. Imagine that; coming off like a douchebag in the first paragraph. That’d be a real hook, huh?
I guess all this is to say, I feel like a real asshole when I’m hungover in the morning. My mouth is all dry and my brain can’t stop going over what I did the night before that’s gonna have real repercussions. The brain can be a real piece of shit if you want to know the truth. Who doesn’t want to know the truth, anyway, what a dumb phrase? Guy walking around hoping to be lied to all day. Sounds like a real dumbass to me. I always felt I’d rather feel sad than feel like a real asshole. Being sad means the world did something to screw you. Being an asshole means you did something to screw the world. At least when you feel like an asshole you get to remedy your assholic behavior. I guess the real trouble with the world is assholes that don’t know they’re assholes. The problem with this morning is that I have to look over a whole slew of empty liquor bottles sitting by my pantry. Not in my pantry mind you, just near it. Like I always almost do the right thing, but I never can seem to do it. The problem is, you’d think when I’m hungover and angry with the whole situation, I’d put it all out of sight. But this grouping of empty bottles proves that I didn’t just act like an asshole last night. No, no. I mean if you’re an asshole only once, then you’re not really an asshole. Then you’re just a guy who had a good time. No, it takes a whole pattern of behavior to really be an asshole. Boy did I feel like an asshole looking over those bottles of liquor.
A girl came out of my room and into the living room. A goddamn girl. I’d love to assign her a name as much as you’d love to read one, but goddammit if I didn’t know. Let’s call her Sarah. Sarah came out of my room and looked at me and was all pissy like. It’s almost like she could tell I was telling you that I didn’t know her name. Goddamn girls. She didn’t look like she did last night. I am not saying she wasn’t pretty or nothing. What kinda guy would I be telling the world that this girl I picked up last night was ugly or whatever. I just didn’t remember her looking like that is all. She was tall, I guess. It works differently for girls. She was certainly one of the reasons all of the liquor was gone. What kinda girl does it take to spend the night with a fella and not be at least partially the reason all of the liquor is gone? I was wearing a hat. All day long; some baseball cap of a team I didn’t even support. Just whatever looked good. Hell, I probably slept with that girl with the hat still on. I don’t really remember. What kinda guy takes his hat off during a one night stand, anyway? She decided she wanted to sleep with hatted me; It’d be a crime to take it off while we’re getting all sexy and she doesn’t like my forehead or whatever. I would even feel like that was wrong. She wants to leave because of my forehead and all, but she doesn’t feel like vocalizing it or whatever. Then it’s a real bad situation for both of us. I just kept my hat right on. Maybe if she left, I’d take it off, but it’d just be a crime if I did it then. Honestly, it’d just be a crime.
The girl, Sarah or whatever the hell, was all boozed up, too, and hungover now. I don’t even like the name Sarah. Let’s call her Valerie. I don’t love the name Valerie either, but it suits her better. She had a wide face like a Russian or whatever. I used to go to high school with this real cute Russian girl. but she was sweet. She looked kinda like Valerie or whatever. I kinda wished it was her in my room in just her underwear and my big T-shirt instead of this girl. But I guess it’d be a lot more awkward because we knew each other so well. Conversation is great with someone you know until you have sex with them. Then you just want it to be a stranger. It’s better right after and way in the future too, because if you really regret the sex, you never have to see the stranger again if you don’t want to. At least usually. This girl asked if I had any advil, and then made a big deal when I told her I didn’t. It’s almost like she felt bad that she didn’t go around the bar asking every guy if he had advil in his apartment before she chose who to sleep with. Hell, she only slept with me, because I was funny for like two minutes. It’s the first two minutes that matters anyway. I was a real drunken bore after that, but it didn’t even matter. It’s the sunk cost theory or whatever. She wasted an hour with me, and it was too late to play the field before she realized I was a real drunken bore, so now here she is.
I guess I should have introduced myself, but what the hell, here’s as good a time as any. My name is Sal. My friends call me Sal, because that is my name. I hate that shit. I hate when a guy is like ‘my name is Vincent, but my friends call me Jackson, because it’s my middle name.’ They say it like I gotta earn the right to call them Jackson. I don’t even give a shit about calling you Vincent. Like I don’t need to prove myself that I’m worthy of calling you Jackson. It just really gets me riled up. Anyone can call me Sal. Anyone can call me asshole too if they want; I don’t care. Hell, I’ll be in a crowded bar and someone way over will yell out ‘hey, asshole,’ and you know what I’ll do? I’ll look over, that’s what. Can’t say I’m not self aware at least. Valarie, or whatever the hell, probably thought I was an asshole, but she seemed like one of those girls that really liked that jazz. I wasn’t an asshole in a way that I acted as an adversary to her but rather I was an asshole in the way I was nice to her. You know exactly what I mean.
We talked a bit longer in the morning. You can’t not talk to a girl coming out of your room. You really shouldn’t at least. It wasn’t the same anymore. It wasn’t that it was all different, but it wasn’t the same neither. We weren’t all that interested in each other anymore. I wasn’t much interested in nothing at that point. This hangover is a real bitch. Every hangover is a bitch and we go and get one anyway. That’s how I am about everything I like. I like a ton of stuff that’s bad and I do it anyway. I really do. I do it because I can’t look at the future like that. You’re bullshitting if you say you can. I looked over at Valarie while I was complaining in my head. She was just fiddling with whatever the hell. You fiddle with whatever the hell when you don’t know what to do. Real sudden like, I felt like a bastard. A rat bastard even, hey. Because I was all upset about having to make small talk with this girl and deal with all these liquor bottles, but it was her in some stranger’s apartment.
I really just wanted her to leave, and she wanted to leave, Valerie, but nothing happened. Nothing ever happens in a social setting. It doesn’t matter how many people want it. We finally found a way. I don’t feel like writing all the dialogue down. You don’t want to read all that anyway. It was a lot of small talk. You didn’t sit down to read all this just to read small talk. We read to escape small talk. Goddamn small talk. I was good enough at it to get Valerie what she wanted which was the hell outta my apartment. Besides, what kinda guy transcribes his dialogue perfectly anyway? It’s always paraphrased or misses a word or two or whatever and then it’s meaningless. People don’t know how carefully they choose their words. There is a lot of personality in word choice. You shouldn’t write down someone else’s words unless you know you got them right. Boy let me tell you, I didn’t even know what Valarie was saying when she was saying it. Much less now. I’m no misogynist or nothing. I mean that’s your decision to make. What kinda bastard goes around bragging about his misogyny? Anyway, the lack of care was definitely mutual. We wanted it that way, anyway. So Valarie and I were real happy to get out of each other’s presence. Hangovers can make people real jerks I guess. They just don’t want to do anything. Small talk is a real something. It really is.
I sat down in my sad apartment and read a book. You don’t care what book it was. I barely did. No reader really cares if the writer leaves details out like that. I left a whole lot of details out of this. Readers that trust the writer, they just want to hear what the writer wants to write. Who wants to hear any of this stuff, though? You, that’s who. You do. I mean, I think you can relate to all this stuff, or some of it maybe. Maybe just some of it. It’d be a real coincidence if you related to everything I said. So this is what I read when I’m hungover so I remember that it’s a bitch every time. Your hangover isn’t special, it still sucks, though. Hey, I oughta read this before I drink, but there’s no fun in that. There’s never any fun in something responsible. This world really does it like that. Can’t have anything without repercussions. And if you think you can, you’re wrong. Just plain wrong. I’ll leave you here. This was my morning. Still is. In a way, it’s all my mornings. I figure we both oughta go deal with our own repercussions, now. We really oughta.