Monthly Archives: June 2015

When Your Dreams Die

Editor’s Note: I wrote the story below in 2007 but never took it any further than what you see here. I am playing around with whether I should tie it into the draft I put down here.

Haven’t decided yet, might just let it sit and percolate for a good long while.

My therapist said that “I lack coping skills.” It is a nice way of saying that she doesn’t approve of my choice of antidepressants. I have several that I enjoy. Unlike the shit that she wants me to take, these are prescription free. My drug of choice is of the liquid variety. It is fast acting, doesn’t cost much and best of all, easily found. I never worry about late night freak out sessions because I can always get a taste and that is reassuring. And you know that when you “lack coping skills” it is nice to find things that can dull that edge.

I apologize for being so manic. That is what they call it, isn’t it. I mean my behavior. If I am not careful I get so wound up that I can’t hold still and I can’t shut up. I pace around the room chain smoking and muttering to myself. That is why I like to keep some of my buddies chilling in the fridge. During those moments when I can’t decide to laugh or cry I can always rely upon them. Six or seven and I start to feel like a human again.

My therapist says that part of my problem is that I bury my problems. She says that I like to choke my pain so hard that I can’t feel it. Personally I don’t know what the fuck she is talking about. If it didn’t hurt so goddamn much I wouldn’t need to rely upon Messrs Miller, Heineken and Bud.

It is not like I am stupid or completely unaware of that I have a problem. I know that things aren’t quite right. Healthy people don’t drink themselves into oblivion. A fifth of vodka and a handful of Ambien doesn’t lead to a good nights rest. On the other hand going thirty or forty hours in between shut eye isn’t all that good for you either. So you pick your poison and hope for the best.

Heck, that guy Pete in accounting has been popping Prozac for the last 11 years. Tell me what good it has done for him. I’ll tell you the difference between me and him. I know that I am screwed. I know that sooner or later I am going to become a friend of Bill’s. Sooner or later I am going to wake up and find me a sponsor because if I don’t I am going to die.

You want to know how to tell that your dreams have died. It is when you can speak about death like I do. Most people do what they can to avoid that day. Me, I look forward to it. I am not afraid to die. It looks pretty damn peaceful to me and that is something that I am in desperate need of. I can’t remember the last time I was truly relaxed. Why wouldn’t I want that.

I won’t bore you with the sob story about how I got here. I am not interested in your pity. I don’t want to serve as political fodder for some crazy liberal. I don’t need them to take advantage of my situation to further their own agenda. And I sure as hell don’t need the disdain of those who don’t understand how your own head can fuck with you.

That is a road that I have been down a couple times too many. See there was a time when I though that maybe the way to get myself healthy was to try talking to a couple of the boys. Jimmy told me that if I stopped acting like such a pussy I would feel better. Max had more empathy. He said that I just needed to get laid.

I wouldn’t bother with seeing my therapist but for a court order. So now every Tuesday afternoon I head down to the VA and spend an hour engaged in mental masturbation. That is what it is. Nothing more than head games disguised as medical treatment. I am still waiting for the therapist to figure out that our therapy sessions come right out of the movies. Sometimes I tell her stories from The Deerhunter. Sometimes I act out parts of The Godfather or Goodfellas.

It is my own inside joke. I think that it is pretty damn funny. You want to know the sad part. Sometimes I think that she has figured it out but since she doesn’t care what happens to me it is easier to just let me fuck around.

Speaking of “fucking around” that is a word that apparently bothers her. She doesn’t like the word “fuck.” She gave me a speech about it being undignified, non descriptive, lacks shock value and in general is inappropriate. Here is the thing, I kind of agree with her. I don’t use it to swear. If it is a part of normal, everyday speech all it loses its power. It is not all that effective. Maybe I’ll make a real effort to give it up. I don’t really know.

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Once In Your Life

“And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”  Where The Wild Things Are

Some people say you can only suffer from heartbreak once in your life, but they would be wrong because your broken heart can heal and be broken again and again…and again.

There are those who refuse to accept this, who refute it with claims that if you meet the love of your life and then lose them you will learn the meaning of heartbreak.

But I would deny their assertions and allegations and do so based upon my experiences.

Those very same experiences have been the tools that broke and healed the aforementioned heart.  The moments that hurt and those that healed were always unexpected and unlooked for.

They just happened.

Sometimes they came during conversation and sometimes they happened during…activities.

But the how and when never mattered as much as the what because it was the secret ingredient every chef hopes to sprinkle through their favorite dish.

Why?

Because it is what moves the dial from ordinary to extraordinary. It is the thing that touches the places inside that nothing else can reach and turns you into someone who is rational into someone…else.

Math And Science

Love and heartbreak don’t move in sync with math and science but life would be easier if they did. It would be simple to say that there are billions of people in the world and that statistically speaking you would be likely to fall in love with many.

Could be 50, 100, 10000 or maybe a 100,000 out there.

You might think it is ridiculous to suggest a 100,000 or even a 1000 but who is to say it is impossible. Why not say it is unlikely because you would never have the time to meet them all.

Hell, think about trying to meet 50 or even just seven. There would never be enough time to spend with 50, but seven over a life time, well maybe that could be done.

Would it be worth it. Would it interesting enough to go through all that comes with it.

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Delusions

He loaded the truck with the last of his possessions and took a last look around to see if had forgotten anything. He didn’t really expect to find anything, he was far too obsessive about cleaning and packing for that to happen but then again, he was only human.

This was his eighth move in five years and if all went well it would be the last for a while. Not because he had a great opportunity but because the camper shell he had added to the truck made it possible for it to become his home.

He hoped it would lead to good things and that it would be the first step on his way back to better places, better things and better opportunities but you never knew for certain.

Life had a way of messing around with you. Sometimes it was a monkey wrench in your plans and sometimes it was a monkey wrench to the side of your head.

That last thought made him snort.

The move before the last happened because a man had tried to hit him with a wrench. It was a simple road rage incident.

The other guy claimed he had been cut off and called him an asshole. Things might have been left as they were but the other guy couldn’t leave well enough alone so when he didn’t get a response he added, ‘stupid pussy’ and spit at him.

That was enough to get a response, but not the one he hoped for.

A five finger slap and a comment that only a man was worth punching. That was followed up with a kick in the ass and the sort of glare that smart people ran from but this guy wasn’t very smart.

Guess I wasn’t either because I walked away thinking he wouldn’t try anything, instead he came at me with the wrench.

If he hadn’t tripped I might have been left in a bad way, but he was clumsy and fell face first into the dirt. That gave me enough time to jump on top of him.

Enough time for the cops to find me beating him silly but not enough for them to have seen the initial incident or to recognize the wrench on the ground had been in his hands.

I Dreamed a Dream

Life hadn’t always been like that. I hadn’t always been the guy who pulled the joker from the deck but somewhere along the way things had changed and I hadn’t noticed it in time to move.

I hadn’t always been the guy who pulled the joker from the deck but somewhere along the way things had changed and I hadn’t noticed it in time to adjust.

Or maybe I had and just not been smart enough or clever enough to recognize the moment so I did what I always had and just made my way through the moments.

The problem with that was instead of digging my way out I just digged my way downward and the closer I thought I was to the surface the farther I fell.  That is the joy of dealing with delusions that are so very real you think that maybe this time you are actually dealing with reality.

You don’t figure out the promises you make and the dreams you have are like the clouds in the sky. Big, white and fluffy they are wonderful to look at but just as soon as you get close to them you discover you are wandering around in a fog.

Still there were moments where I thought about the dreams I once had and the opportunities I thought were mine and could be again/ There were moments where I figured if I pushed hard enough I might capture them again, but the thing was every time I actually tried the rug got pulled out from under me so I said screw it and adopted the vagabond lifestyle.

It was easier that way.

Didn’t rely upon anyone else and during the odd moments where I felt like I wanted a friend I could always find one.

And it didn’t require making promises or commitments that I didn’t want to be obligated for or to. Nor did it make me think of the past.

All I had was now and the moments that followed.

He rolled over and rubbed the sleep from his eyes and wondered how bad the morning was going to hurt. A six pack and a fifth of vodka had seemed like a good idea the night before but the morning was going

A six pack and a fifth of vodka had seemed like a good idea the night before but the morning was going to prove him wrong.

The upside with the vagabond lifestyle was he was in the best shape he had been in many years but none of that fixed the number he had done on himself. Great shape or not it, was not a good start to the morning.

Or at least he thought it was morning. maybe it wasn’t.

He wasn’t in the truck and the bright light that made him squint wasn’t from the sun.

Voices came from somewhere outside of the room he was in but he didn’t recognize them all. The woman was familiar but the man, not so much.

A moment later nature pushed him to get out of bed and he would have, except the handcuff on his left wrist wouldn’t let him.

He rubbed his eyes and told himself it was a bad dream. “Dude, you are delusional, this isn’t real.”

Except it was.

 

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Passwords

It took less than a minute to install the keystroke logger. Less than a minute to gain access to every piece of data that passed through the phone.

He read all of the emails, texts and knew who called who and for how long.

It provided him with the sort of insight and education you couldn’t get from a person any other way because no one would agree to share their life with you in such an unguarded fashion.

Knowledge was power.

The only question was how and when to use it.

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Babeleh Maybeleh

The flashing blue light on his phone caught his eye but he refused to look and see what this notification was about.

“I don’t wear a sweater because you are cold and I don’t have to do a damn thing just because you are not sure what you think you feel.”

She told him she was sorry and that this was just how it was.

“I am in a different place than you are. I am sorry if you don’t like it.”

He snorted, “you aren’t in a different place now. I know exactly where you are and where your fickle hear are.”

He watched her eyes narrow and wasn’t surprised to hear the colorful stream of words that came from her mouth.

“You are a fucking moron. Screw you.”

“If you are lucky I might let you do it again, but then again I’ll probably say no just because I can.”

“You are so arrogant. Go fuck yourself.”

“Ya know, I take that back. I’ll say yes and wear a bag over my head.”

He saw her lip quiver for a moment and then watched the anger wash over her face. This time she said nothing, she just glared at him and walked away.

Somewhere in the back of his head he heard a voice that sounded an awful lot like Bogart say, “A silent broad is a scary one.”

“Damn, I think you may be right.”

“If I was you, I’d figure out whether you can apologize now or later. You played dirty pool and she isn’t going to forget that.”

“You can say that again Sam.”

“Sam’s the piano player, I am just a saloon keeper who ended up in Casablanca.”

“And I am just the guy having a conversation with a character from a movie.”

“Brother, that is not my problem, but if you love that dame you better do something to fix it because she won’t forget what you said.”

“No, and she won’t care about the double standards, the inconsistencies or that she told me were family and are forever linked.”

“Trust me, she hasn’t forgotten those things or changed her mind the way you think she has. She is a woman and her brain goes 10,000 miles a minute. If you stepped inside it you’d see her move from love-to-hate-to-like-to-love-to ten thousand others feelings in less than ten tenths of a hundredth of a second.”

“Ok smart guy, what does a figment of my imagination know about women and how would you fix this?”

“Flowers work wonders, but I don’t think you can use them this time. You’ll need to do more than be symbolic.”

“How about a ring and bent knee, and a request to have amazing sex.”

“How about losing the sarcasm idiot. Do you want a chance or not.”

“How about I kick shake my head and knock you back into imagination land.”

He chuckled and shook his head.

“Look at the tough guy who chased away his girl and wants to fight his imagination.’

“You have got a point. I guess I ought to try to make her understand my perspective and to see about helping her feel less pressure.”

“A sincere apology goes a long way, as for the pressure, well I don’t know how you are going to fix that one other than by being very patient and letting her set the pace.”

I sighed deeply and shrugged my shoulders.

“If she loves you she won’t let you get away and if she doesn’t, well then you are already that much closer to finding a woman who does.”

“Wise words from the peanut gallery. Did you find that on an imaginary fortune cookie fortune.”

“Arguing with your imagination isn’t going to get you very far nor is it impressive.”

“Fine, if it makes you shut up I’ll just agree.”

Maybe it was my imagination, but I could have sworn I heard a few bars of As Time Goes By and then the mystery voice was gone.

Made me wonder if maybe it hadn’t been my imagination and then I wondered if that was better or worse.

What if we have guardian angels or some sort of spirit guides and this voice was them trying to get through to me. Would it make sense for mine to be like Rick in Casablanca or would he be more like Johnny Cash or Ray Charles

Would I believe it? Would I accept it for being real or would I apply science, logic and daylight to it?

Would it make sense for mine to be like Rick in Casablanca or would he be more like Johnny Cash or Ray Charles?

From a logical perspective it made sense to me that it could be any of those or even a talking dog. Hell if I am going to accept a voice coming from beyond why would it have to be in a logical vessel.

*****

I walked around the house and looked  in the closets, on the ceiling and under the beds but I didn’t find hidden speakers or cameras.

Then I started talking out loud, “Hey, are you there? Um, spirit voice, uh, Mr. Spook, er spirit are you there? I have questions.”

But all I heard in return was silence.

After a while I got irritated and started yelling but still all I got in return was silence.

“You are starting to piss me off. If you really exist, I insist you answer me.”

Still more silence.

“Fine, don’t try contacting me again. I am done with you.”

I smelled his presence before I heard him and it wasn’t pleasant.

“You of all people ought to appreciate that sometimes a man needs time alone in his private office. I was busy taking care of my business.”

That made me shake my head.

“Are you telling me that you didn’t answer because you were taking a dump? Are you really trying to tell me that in the world to come we still have to worry about finding a clean bathroom? That is fucked up, someone call G-d and file a complaint.”

This time it was my spirit friend who shook his head.

“You have a filthy mouth and a dirty mind.”

“I’ll gladly take that over a dirty mouth and filthy mind. The way I see it I have a much better chance of convincing her to kiss me again with a filthy mouth and a dirty mind. Oh, and by the way I didn’t hear you wash your hands after you took your spiritual crap, if you don’t mind I’d appreciate you do something about that.”

*****

The next thing I knew I was flat on my back and unsure of the time or where I was.

When I sat up I realized I was on the floor in my bedroom and it was the middle of the night.

I stood up, stretched and worked the kinks out of my back.

I guess it was a dream, with that I shrugged my shoulders and walked over to the kitchen to get a drink.

I took out a glass and pulled open the cabinet that contained my stash and found a post-it note on the bottle.

“Your Babeleh Maybeleh still loves you, be patient and let her set the pace.”

I am not the kind of guy who is easily rattled but that note was enough to make me almost drop the damn bottle.  I stood there holding it for a long moment trying to decide if that drink was going to make things better or worse.

Long minutes later I walked back into the bedroom and I swore I heard her whisper, “you know I do.”

That was enough excitement for me. I climbed into bed and announced that I was going to sleep.

“I don’t know whether to take this all as proof or truth of anything other than an active imagination so I am going to sleep. All will be clear in the morning and easily understood.

But when the morning came all I had was more questions and a feeling that I would find answers to them all whether I wanted to or not.

 

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So Close, Yet Still So Far

Two ships passed each other in the night. Close enough to hear the passage but just far enough apart that the darkness made sight impossible.

The captain told the first mate to ring the bell and shouted maybe next time, but they never did learn if the other ship heard or responded.

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Reunion

It took longer than they had hoped for yet was sooner than they expected.  You could call it more than a year and somewhere less than a couple of decades.

It was the reunion they had dreamed of and stopped hoping for because life had gotten too hard and all they wanted was simple.

She told him he was an idiot and the biggest fool she had ever known and asked him why he refused to listen to what she said.

He told her he read between the lines and listened for what was and wasn’t said.

“I told you to go away. I told you we were done, over and finished and you hung on like some crazy stalker.”

“I suppose I should be pleased you laughed at the end because those are the words every man wants to hear.”

“You know I didn’t mean it like that.”

“I do, the same way I knew the other things you meant and didn’t mean.”

She asked him to explain and then listened to him describe how every time they were in the same room it felt like their hearts tried to climb out of their chests to be together.

“You big dope, are you trying to use that quote on me?”

“What quote?”

“This one, ‘And then my soul saw you and it kind of went “Oh there you are. I’ve been looking for you’?”

“No, um, yeah, something like that.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.

“You are a fool, but you are my fool and this time I am not letting you go.”

He laughed and thanked her for recognizing she was responsible.

“Responsible for what?

“For being the biggest pain-in-the-ass a man has ever had to deal with. But you are my PITA so I guess I’ll keep you.”

“You guess? Screw that, you either know or you get out.”

He started to walk away and she took his hand and pulled him back.

“I already told you, you are mine and you aren’t leaving.”

He smiled again and sat down.

******

A decade later they had been all over the world and across the states on trips to visit the kids and some that were only for fun.

Sometimes when people asked them how long they had known each other he would say the judge had given him a life sentence and she would roll her eyes and ask how much longer he insisted on telling such a stupid joke.

But every night she’d tell him she couldn’t imagine spending her life with any one else and how thankful she was that he was such a bad listener.

Sometimes he’d pretend to be asleep and she’d grab his arm and tell him he wasn’t being nice.

He’d smile and tell her he’d love her and promise that he would say it every night they had together.

“You don’t always have to say it.”

“Why not? I’d hate for you to think I didn’t any more.”

“I am not worried about it.”

“Why not?”

“Because I know things.”

“Woman, don’t you try to steal my lines.”

He would have said more but she kissed him on the lips and told him he talked too much.

“Well I suppose if you think you know how to distract me I might find a reason to be quiet.”

She hit him on the arm and told him he was the epitome of the dirty, old man.

“First I was stalker and now I am a dirty old man. You are full of compliments, aren’tcha.”

She smiled and told him he was her dirty old man and watched as he smiled and went silent.

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Music And More

Opportunity arrived every time he opened himself up to possibility.

It took a long time for him to recognize it and even longer to accept it but once he did life changed and he could see patterns in the past and a road to walk in the future.

That was enough for him to determine what he needed to do and to help him better understand what he could and could not expect.

He kind of enjoyed the uncertainty and the magic that came from reorienting his vision and establishing a different approach and way to do things.

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They Are Just Words

“But mostly I remembered the day I realized that I loved you and how happy I was to know that you loved me. And I remembered how we said that no matter what would happen our hearts would never forget. And they never did. They never lost touch. Our souls never ended their embrace. What broke was logic and reason. What broke was our ability to try and understand that which could never be explained.

So I ignored your comment about not understanding me because you understand me just fine. And I stopped trying to knock down the wall you built because it wasn’t making things better it was making them worse. The more I chased you the faster you ran away. So I placed my faith in something else and decided that the best way to try to bring you home was to try and shine a light on our soul.

Yes, our soul, not yours or mine but ours.

It is a risk. It is a gamble and it is something that could end up biting me in the ass. But sometimes you need to stop and evaluate whether what you are doing is working and clearly what I did wasn’t. So here I am working on other things. So here I am living my life in a different place and a different way than I once thought I would. But that doesn’t mean that the place I find myself in is forever. It is just a temporary spot to occupy and if what my heart says is true than life will change when it changes.

And when you turn off your head and listen to your heart you’ll find your way back. Just remember whose eyes will always be staring back at you and that when you think of me I will be thinking of you. “Shine A Light On Our Soul

Someone asked him about the things he wrote and he told them they were just words.

“I don’t believe you. They aren’t just words. They have meaning.”

“Not to me they don’t, they are just interchangeable puzzle pieces that I use to paint a picture. Except I don’t use the kind of paint that you can’t wash off. Mine are just digital flotsam and jetsam that can be wiped out with the same ease as with which they were placed on paper.”

“That is the most awful thing I have ever heard. You can’t take a person’s heart and treat it poorly and that is what you are doing with words when you don’t give them the proper respect.”

“I am not writing about people. I am writing about characters. They don’t exist, they aren’t real. If I write about them being consumed by a pack of rabid Dachsunds or falling off of the roof into a wood chipper it doesn’t matter. There is nothing tragic about fiction.”

“I don’t believe you. These are real people.”

“That is fine, I don’t believe you either.”

“Stop trying to one up me.”

“Stop pretending you don’t care.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“I have to go, it is time to write a story about fake characters who get trapped on an island where they are forced to work together to fight off alien monkeys from space using nothing but coconuts and bananas.”

“That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.”

“But would you read it?”

“Maybe.”

“Maybe is all I ever need. It is how a writer finds their way from start to finish. The best and worst stories come from maybe.”

Maybe you know what it is like to have that kind of passion where you can’t stand not having that person in your life because there is a gaping void that aches and burns without respite.  Maybe you too were surprised to discover that the kind of crazy love you experienced the first time you ever fell in love could come back. Maybe you were shocked by the passion and overwhelmed by the loss of the friendship that you had.

Because that friendship threw you for a loop. It wasn’t just about love or lust. You liked them as a person. They filled the gaps and made you believe that you could be more than you were. They made you believe that all that hokey stuff you read in cheap paperbacks or saw on television might be based in reality. You understood that you could be naked in every possible way with them and be confident that they would caress your soul and cradle your heart.

It doesn’t have to be a dream. You don’t have to keep running with the moon. You don’t have to feel that enormous sense of loss or wonder whether you can ever love and be loved like that again because if it happened once it can happen again.

There are no coincidences. You can live your dream. You can find a way back. All you need to do is let go, submit to the reality of the possibility and accept that there will be opportunity. There Are No Coincidences

“I thought you were going to write about angry alien monkeys and how they fought to protect their island.”

“You said you might not read it.”

“No, I said maybe I would.”

“That might mean maybe you wouldn’t too.”

“I would have read it.”

“You are changing your words. You said maybe and now you are saying you would have.”

“I am allowed to change my mind.”

“So am I. I decided to write something different.”

“But what about the island? Are you going to write that?”

“I don’t know. I don’t wear a sweater just because someone else is cold.”

“You are infuriating.”

“No, I am a man.”

“That means you are infuriating.”

“No, it means I have the power of the penis.”

“No it means you are an annoying idiot.”

“An annoying idiot who wrote something you like better than a tale about angry alien monkeys.”

“The angry alien monkeys might be interesting if there is a good love story involved.”

“Ok, I’ll do a version of Downtown Abbey where the characters fight angry alien monkeys.”

“Sometimes I don’t know what to do with you.”

“I always know what to do with and to you. And it is not what you think.”

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