Liquid Werewolf

12 Mar

werewolf

 

For Rick, reality seemed as slippery as a bar of soap in a prison shower. It didn´t help that Rick was altering his consciousness on a daily basis. He would celebrate good occurrences by “going deep”, as he put it. He would escape the bad movements by “tuning out”, as he put it. But this had to change when he met Pamela. He was in love with her and Pamela did not approve of such behavior. He loved the feeling she gave him more than that of the substances, at least for now. Of course that feeling will fade and the sudden urgent hit of the substances will call him back. Not to mention the high will be increased by his abstinence making it harder to say no. But for now he is towing the line.

On a rainy Sunday afternoon while lying in bed after a hardy fast food lunch that made them sleepy, Pamela hit Rick with some shocking news.

“Rick, what do you think about kids?” she asked.

“They are great. Far from me” he answered. His words felt like a well placed punch in Pamela´s stomach.  “Why?” he asked.

“No reason” she said, trying to hide her real emotions.

Over the course of the next few months, Pamela did everything she could to hide her ever growing belly from Rick. Besides what he said on that rainy afternoon when she tried to tell him the news, deep down she knew he´d be a lousy father. He was 35 years old and living in a room in an old woman´s house. Their deal was, he´d keep the grass cut and the rent would be cheap.  The grass was knee high.

Pamela´s belly got to the point that no garment would hide it. She was nervous. She had a strange attachment to Rick even though she knew she could do much better. In her heart she knew she had to do better for herself and her unborn child. She wanted to have a dialog with Rick and she thought that maybe a few beers would loosen him up so she picked up a 12 pack on her way to Rick´s house.

When she arrived she offered him a beer. A wave of fear washed through Rick´s stomach. It was as if a self aware werewolf saw the first sliver of a full moon.

“Oh, I shouldn´t dear, I just took a Tylenol and that´s not good for the liver” he said, proud of his own quick thinking.

“Just one, hun. I´ll have one with you” she insisted.

“Just one” he said.

That first beer went down his throat as if it were honey descending a silk lined golden tube. It tasted so good. The slight alteration in mood felt so familiar. The air smelled better. The future seemed to not matter yet so much brighter at the same time. If one beer made him feel this way, another would make him feel that much better.

“Pass me another on, hun, that hit the spot” he said. He was careful to form the words perfectly. He did not want his tongue to defy him. He knew that it was already becoming a little rebellious.

“Sure” she said as she past him another.

He drank it down even more greedily than the first. The bright warm feeling starting to turn a little dark with this beer. The future seemed to matter even a little less, though the brightness was gone. The switch was thrown.

“We really need to talk” Pamela said not know that the chemistry of Rick´s brain was changing like a hot summer afternoon with a storm rolling in.

“Sure, babe, pass another beer” he said.

“Ok, but take it easy, you don´t want to get drunk, do you?” she said jokingly.

He didn´t pick up on the playfulness in her words and said “What is it to you if I get drunk. We are together for a few months and you already want to control me?” he felt an old anger that has been with him for years. “I want a cigarette”.

“You smoke?” Pamela asked with a shocked expression on her face.

“Sometimes” he said as he reached passed her and pulled the third beer from the box.

“I didn´t know that” she said.

“Yeah? Well, there are a lot of things you don´t know about me” he said with a face that was not hiding the sourness he felt in his soul. He chugged the beer without even taking a breath. He reached for the fourth.

“What´s going on here?” Pamela asked.

“You told me to” he answered. This really confused Pamela.

“I have to go” Pamela gathered her things and went for the box of beer when a hand grabbed her wrist and pulled it away.

“You can leave that” Rick said.

“Ok” she said with tears in her eyes.

That night Rick went on a bender that ended three days later. When he finally passed out in a burned out house on a pissed stained mattress in the seedy part of town, Pamela had already crossed the country to lay her head on the silk pillow in the luxurious guest room of her sister´s home.

Giving it up

18 Feb

art_or_insanity

“That´s it, you either give it up or give me up! I´m outta here if you don´t stop it” April said.

Bruno could not hear her because of the Wifi signal that buzzed in his head and scrambled his thoughts. At least he thought it did. A long with many other things that were going through his mind that indeed were not true, at least not in this dimension. In fact, there was nothing for him to give up. He was having what his doctors called episodes of psychotic behavior and he was blaming his actions on heroin use. The truth was, Bruno doesn´t even drink coffee, let alone do drugs.

Bruno was in a semi-lucid state for the moment. He had to think of a way out of this. He loved April and didn´t want to lose her. On the other hand, due to past experience, he knew that this could go on for at least another few weeks and up to a few months. He didn´t want her to know about this side of him, yet. He had an idea.

“April, I choose you. I´ll go to rehab” he said.

Tears welled up in April´s eyes, “Oh, I love you. You´ll get through this. I´ll be there for you” she said.

Bruno had no money. During this last episode, he lost his job and spent every last dime of he had in Atlantic City. When he is in this state he is more likely to engage in high risk behaviors. April was not that bright, so it was easy to get her to believe things.

“Give me 70 bucks so I can get a bus ticket” Bruno asked in a commanding tone.

“For what?” she asked.

“For bus fare to get to rehab” he answered.

“Oh yeah, of course. Here´s $200. I made good tips last night” she said and handing him a crumpled up wad of bills with pride that swirled in her stomach. “When are you going to go?” she asked.

“I think I should go immediately before temptation makes me change my mind” he said. What he really meant was, before he loses his feeble, finger tip only, current grip on reality.

“But if you go tonight, I cannot see you off. Make it tomorrow” she whined.

“No, it´s gotta be tonight” he said.

“Ok. Where are you going?” she asked.

Bruno looked around for an idea. Eureka. A bag of gold fish crackers. “Pepperidge Farms” he said looking at April crooked to see if she bought it, he nervously added “it´s a government run thing, free even” he said, now convinced she believed him.

After a long embrace, April said to Bruno, “Get better”

“I will” he answered.

On his way to the bus terminal, where he intended to buy a ticket to Akron, Ohio and wait out this episode with an aunt, the city started to turn into a jungle. “Oh shit” he whispered to himself as he felt reality become rather slippery.

As the cab pulled up to the terminal, Bruno was already planning how he would enter without getting attacked by the jaguar he saw following them for the past three traffic lights.

He skillfully made it through the front door of the terminal and as he wheezed deeply to catch his breath he said to the cashier, “One ticket to Atlantic City, please”

The Typewriter

15 Feb

images

 

 

Clack, clack, clack went the sound of his typewriter. Frank was furiously pounding away on the vintage keys that set him back a small fortune in a little boutique shop in a gentrified, once artistic part of the city. A small mountain of cigarette butts spilled out of one of the empty cardboard coffee cups that surrounded his work space. He was writing for hours but nothing of quality found its way to the endless reams of paper.

“It´s all shit!” he screamed, though the only sentient being to hear these words were his cat and his neighbor. The walls were paper thin in his tiny one bedroom apartment in a converted candy factory in another gentrified, once artistic part of the city.

Frank had some success of late selling a few stories here and there but the well seemed to have dried up. Everything he came up with was derivative of something he had already read or had already written. He had recently gone off his mood stabilizers in hope that it would spark some hidden creativity.

With a deft sweep of his arm, the typewriter went flying across the room. It would have taken out the cat if it didn´t have such keen reflexes. He sat there staring at the typewriter, upside down on the floor for some time.

Clack, clack, clack. The keys of the typewriter started moving by themselves. Frank sat up straight. The clicking stopped. He slowly walked over to the downed typewriter and turned it over. He saw a sentence on the page after where he had stopped.

Just keep going.

Those three extra words on the page he hadn´t written. Frank was perplexed. Surely this wasn´t for real. He decided his mind was playing tricks on him and he decided to go to bed for the night.

When Frank awoke he walked over to the typewriter on the floor. He looked at the page and there were more words.

You suffer for your work. Now others must suffer for your work. Make them pay and you will reap the profits.

“What does that mean?” he asked himself out loud. He felt stupid for saying these words because he knew exactly what it meant. He needed new life experiences to draw from as inspiration. He knew that hurting people would evoke deep emotions that he could use to write.

Frank always had a violent streak that he used to punish only himself. He had never even thought of hurting anyone else but he figured that this must be a sign from above. Frank decided he would go to the park late at night and do some harm to homeless people. This way, he could do what the typewriter told him to with minimal risks with the law. Frank was also a coward and a weakling. A sleeping homeless person would offer the least resistance.

That night, Frank filled the pockets of his parka with a small bottle of rubbing alcohol, some rags and a box of strike anywhere matches. He also slipped two mini bottles of vodka he had obtained from his last flight into the breast pocket for a little added courage. He then set off for the park.

He found his first victim. It was a woman sleeping under a makeshift tent made of a cardboard box. He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out one of the mini bottles. He was not a drinker and could barely get the vile liquid down his throat. A little even made its way back up and he had to swallow it a second time. He took a deep breath just to keep it down.

From behind him he heard a voice say “Having a party and didn´t even invite me?” Then he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck, saw a bright light then nothing. The metal pipe that had just smashed his brain stem cut off communication from his brain to his body. The homeless man slipped of Frank´s parka, then the rest of his clothes. He was left unconscious and stripped to his underwear in the harsh cold in the middle of the park.

When Frank came to he was in a white room with bright lights. His hands were restrained with fur lined leather cuffs. He looked to his right and he saw his case worker, John, sitting on the chair besides him.

“How do you feel Frank?” John asked.

“Terrible. What happened?” he asked.

“That´s what I would like to know. The only facts I have are, you were found in Jefferson Park in your underwear, barely breathing. You had alcohol on your breath. A nice homeless woman saw you around midnight and got the attention of a nearby police officer” he said. “Have you been taking your meds?”

“Well, uh, no” he sheepishly answered. “But…”

“But nothing Frank. How many times do we have to go through this. You must take your medications”

“Am I in trouble, John?” Frank asked.

“No, of course not”” John said with genuine concern in his voice.

Off the hook again. Frank thought. Mental disease has its advantages. This will make a great story.

 

In the Salt Mine

13 Feb

minecart

 

Deep in the Bavarian salt mines is where Rolf spent most of his waking hours. It didn´t matter that he felt dead in the dry darkness. He had mouths to feed. His body was deteriorating exponentially in his later years. The end was near for Rolf and he knew it. He welcomed it. His demise would not even entail many teary heartfelt good-byes. He barely knew his children. He spent on average twelve hours per day in the salt mine. He wouldn´t miss the finer things in life. He never knew them.

His day was greeted with a cup of harsh black coffee in a tin cup and a thick piece of tasteless bread with sour tasting butter. His lunch was not that much better and his dinner was absent most days. He didn´t have a notion of what a weekend was so that was one more thing he could not miss. Even the sun was something that he barely knew. Every once in a while, when he remembered to do so, before descending into the black square hole of the mine aboard the rickety wooden mine cart, he would consciously feel the rays of the sun on his skin. It was so warming that it sent chills in other parts of his body. But even this he did little of because most days he was getting screamed at for the duration of the descent. The conversation was usually about quotas.

One day he was toiling away trying to make his quota for the first time in 4 days he heard a faint noise in the distance. He grabbed a torch and went to investigate. As he got closer, the noise became more audible. It sounded like human groans, very weak groans and not those of a man. As he got closer to the source he saw a little boy pinned under a flat rock of heavy salt. The boy was near death. He must have been down there for some time.

Rolf leaned close to the boys face to see if he was breathing. Breaths were very shallow and few and far between. With every breath came a low moan. To Rolf´s horror he heard some material slide. The walls were caving in a little more. He attempted to lift the rock off the boy but it was too heavy. He could easily break the rock by striking it with his pick but he risked further injuring the wounded child.

He thought to get help when the child said “Don´t leave me sir. It´s cold and I´m scared. The shadows are circling us. They are calling me. They seem to stay away with you here.”

So that was that. He could not even think of leaving the boy after hearing that. But if he didn´t do something quickly, they would both spend the night in the mine and surely the boy would die.

Rolf caressed the boys head and leaned again the smooth mine wall. As he leaned back his torch started to flicker. Damn, it was running out of fuel. He maybe had 15 minutes of light left and he had no idea what to do.

“Sir, don´t let it go dark again, I don´t know what the shadows will do. I´m so scared.” the boy said.

Rolf heard more sliding. This shaft was collapsing even more. The light went out prematurely. They were both left in the dark. The boy left out what he could of a scream but it was so muffled and weak that it sounded more like a prolonged cough.

Rolf heard whispers in the darkness. At first he thought they were his men coming to help. But he quickly realized otherwise. He went to feel for the head of the boy but it was gone. So was the rest of him. The boy was no longer there. Now the whispers increased. He was surrounded by them. He left out a scream but nothing came out.

*   *   *   *

Meanwhile on the surface the owner of the mine was giving a statement to the constable.

“Around 4:30 it looks like the whole west wing shaft collapsed” he said.

“How many survivors?” the constable asked.

“Well, looks like everybody made it out to safety, except Rolf. Poor fellow. He was deeper than the rest, probably due to not making his quota for 4 days. He was really trying to get it today. Looks like it cost him”

 

 

Twice Defrocked

9 Feb

jesus

 

Jen and Robert decided that they were going to adopt. After years of research and straddling the fence on the issue, they decided to make this life altering decision, though they had no idea how life altering the process would be. One of their biggest hang ups was about religion. Jen was a devout Catholic, as devout as an American could possibly be. Rob on the other hand had an almost irrational hatred for the Catholic Church and all Christian doctrine for that matter. This caused many arguments about how they would raise the child but they came to the conclusion that they would let the child decide for itself when the time came.

Jen´s life was an open book to all who knew her whereas Rob´s life had much mystery beyond the 6 years that they were together. He told Jen that he was a victim of severe abuse and escaped his home at age 16 so he didn´t like to talk about that. Then, with fake documents, he entered the military and served in Iraq which was so traumatic that he didn´t like talking about the either. When Jen met him, he was working as a toll booth operator on the NJ turnpike. He used the veil of abuse to hide his past from her.

They decided on an agency and went downtown to get the paperwork rolling. Rob was very nervous on the car ride. He was visibly nervous.

“What´s wrong, hun?” Jen asked.

“Nothing. It´s just this is the biggest decision of our lives and I am a little nervous” he answered.

“Don´t worry, it´ll be all right. We are ready for this” she said. “We are not going into this all willy nilly. We are totally prepared for anything that is thrown at us.”

“Are we really?” he said before going silent.

At the agency, the couple was handed a thick folder full of informative brochures and forms to fill out. They were briefed by an agent for over an hour. It was surprisingly pleasant.

On the way home Jen said to Rob “I have a good feeling about this”. Rob just nodded.

They sent the paperwork away and waited. The agent told them that it could take up to one month to hear anything. During this month Rob was agitated and very short with Jen. He wasn´t eating and could not get through a whole night without waking up many times.

The day came. A letter from the adoption agency arrived in their mailbox. Rob was leaving work early trying to beat Jenna home so he could intercept the mail. On this day, someone called off so Rob had to stay an extra hour to cover the shift until a replacement came.

When Rob got home Jen was on the couch crying.

“What´s wrong?” he asked.

She slowly looked up. “Who are you?” she said between sobs.

“What?” he said, his mind now spinning trying to think of the motive for such a question. He knew the question would come one day but he needed to know what she knew so he could spin it in the direction he wanted.

“The agency said that the Social Security number you gave does not exist” she said.

“Maybe I wrote it down wrong. Let´s just resubmit the paperwork” he said, his voice shaking.

“I double checked all the information. It was all correct. Why is it saying that you don´t exist?” she said, her anger rising.

Rob knew this was the end of the line. He had to come clean. He knew this adoption would be the undoing of everything. He stalled Jen as long as he could over the past few years. He knew there would be background checks. He knew his new life would come to an end. He couldn´t stall her anymore. She was adamant about this adoption.

He thought about his options. Tell her another lie to get through these next few moments, pack a bag, flee and start again? Take his own life as to not cause any more suffering than he had already caused? Tell her the truth and see how she reacts? The weight on his shoulders was great. He had been living a lie for so long. He made his choice. Truth.

“Jen, 10 years ago I was a priest. I was a damn good one. I helped so many people. But I could not fix myself. I had appetites. Horrible appetites. No praying in the world would make them go away. I had others pray for me. It didn´t help. I started acting on these appetites. Then people started whispering, the whispers turned to chatter until the chatter turned to screams. I had to move. The church moved across the country. The appetites followed. I couldn´t help myself. My God wasn´t strong enough to stop me! They moved me again but the people already knew why I was there when I arrived. I couldn´t stay. I paid some gangster 10,000 dollars to create this new life for me in New Jersey. Since we´ve been together, I have not acted out once! Please believe me. I love you.”

Jen saw through the fog of shock enough to mutter two words, “Get out.”

 

A Duck Tale

9 Feb

mallard

 

A handsome adolescent Mallard duck was swimming in his pond lamenting the trash floating around him that was washed in during the last rain storm. He was surrounded by empty water bottles, empty trail mix packages and cigarette butts. These were all left behind by self proclaimed “nature lovers” who entered these woods to escape their own trash filled urban streets.

A small yellow duck caught his eye. The duckling´s movements were not very natural and it seemed to be swimming on its side. The Mallard swam over to see if he could offer assistance to the possibly injured young duckling.

“Are you all right?” The Mallard asked. No response was given. The Mallard dipped his head under the water and lifted up as to right the injured duckling.

“There you go, now you are upright my little friend” the satisfied Mallard said to his new young friend. There was no response from the duckling.

“You´re welcome” the Mallard said, a little peeved by the duckling’s lack of manners. The young duckling just bobbed up and down. The Mallard shrugged and swam away.

The Mallard went on with his day not giving much attention to the young duckling. As the day started to retire the Mallard noticed that the young duckling was very close to the shore bobbing up and down and still without any sign of a mother duck.

The Mallard swam back over to see if he could be of any help to the duckling. “Where’s your mommy?” he asked. No response. The Mallard was getting impatient. “I just want to help!” he said. No response. “Let me at least help you onto the shore. It´s going to get dark soon” No response.

With that the Mallard started to nudge the yellow duckling to even more shallow waters. He didn’t notice that sprinkled into the rocks of the shallow water was a lot of broken glass. As he pushed the yellow duckling towards the shallow rocks the yellow duckling let out a pssssssst noise. The Mallard noticed a bunch of air bubbles rise from the belly of his young friend. The Mallard went into a panic. He was frustrated with the duckling but surely he didn´t want to do any harm to him.

The yellow duckling started to flatten out and sink to the bottom of the shallow water. The Mallard was very upset. He had never caused bodily harm to anything save a minnow. He started to cry out for help.

In the meanwhile on the shore, two young boys laughed hysterically as they watched a Mallard duck quacking his beak off while nudging a flat rubber ducky.

 

Serfs Up!

7 Feb

serf

 

Merek was a serf that lived in what is today a suburb of Munster, Germany. He was tied to an estate owned by Lord Althalos where he had to work the land and hand over around 25 percent of what he produced. If you look at today´s tax rates, that´s not so bad but it is beside the point. Merek was married to the beautiful Ryia. She was one of the most beautiful serfs in all the land. Her beauty transcended her poverty in a way that beauty hardly ever can.

But like most men, 5 years after taking the nuptial nose dive, Merek grew tired of performing his husbandly duties with Ryia and his eyes grew for Duraina, the wife of his boss and essentially owner, Althalos. Merek knew that the feeling was mutual. Many hints were given. At the same time, there was a lot of social upheaval going on. They didn´t know it at the time, but the end of an epoch was upon them and the birth of another was awaking. Serfs were breaking their chains and going onto other fiefdoms in search of better conditions. In the way Merek was tired of making love to Ryia, he was tired of making such low wages.

He was being courted by the land owner Xalvador who was not only offering a more fertile land to work, but would ask for a lower percentage of the yield making the deal extremely attractive. Merek not only wanted to go to Xalvador´s land, but he wanted to do so alone. He knew what he would have to do. Althalos would never let him go and neither would Ryia without a really good reason. Merek thought he knew what would motivate them to let him move along.

Summer came and went and autumn gave way to a brutal winter. Spring offered much relief. As the land was thawing and Merek was preparing his tools to work the land a messenger came on horseback.

“Merek, you presence is being demanded in Lord Althalos’ main quarters” the messenger said gravely.

Merek prepared a snack for the day long journey, gave a kiss on the cheek to Ryia and was on his way.

He was met at the front door by Althalos who was red in the face from drink and rage.

“You bastard, lowly serf!” Althalos said. “I should have you burned at the stake!”

“Whatever is this all about, my lord?” Merek asked, faking ignorance.

“My eyes are blue and my hair, golden blond! The baby…well the baby has black peasant eyes and the dark locks of poverty!” Althalos was stumbling as he spoke. “You are to get off my land by sunset or you shall meet they maker”

“I am sure you are mistaken, my lord, but as you wish” Merek said, faking concern.

“As you wish” Merek thought to himself and had to turn his back quickly as to hide his grin.

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