Categories
Uncategorized

what i hate about summer

i don’t like to sweat existing at 8:22 in the afternoon, 
and i roast like a skewered pig,
i hate wearing pants,
i hate not having the option not to more.


summer used to herald freedom from structure,
a loose fitting of shirt is all it ever needed to be,
the days are long and nights are minuscule,
now it makes me loathe instead of laugh.


i wait for the dark, too short but sweet,
night time is the cool side of the pillow,
a bed not drenched in sweat, 
beautifully said: when words fade and things come alive.


though in summer, 
the live melts and fatigues despite the shade of dead,
i long for the real night: crisp, quiet, harsh, 
everything is clear, not humid muggy mirage.

to get lost in a land of blankets and quilts,
coffee, tea, and body heat,
log fires, jazzy beats, smoke howling,
friends and laughter and loneliness.


i enjoy my slow-cold death,
not the excitation of my already burning soul.

Categories
Uncategorized

a dream of death

i dreamt of death, 
my soul ferried by a faceless aberration, 
black, permanence, the.

i stood at the doorstep and the world was animated,
the gray-brown fence in the distance, a disturbing contrast to the aqua-green lawn,
the world bathed in sickening, pale white light from streetlamps overhead. 


i watched cigarette smoke rested in stasis, air too hot and humid for it to rise,
drops of rain pierced through its  cloud like an angel’s spear,
then it spiraled , moving forward, incomplete and full of holes,
after some unknown time it faded from its trauma. 

Categories
Uncategorized

thursday 5 am

it rained through out the night, 
a few tears cover the morning ground, 
solemn, consecrated by solitude suspended in damp air. 


orbs of captured sunlight flicker through that gray-purple blanket, 
holding back night and starlight, 
tired arms fall as the day reigns in.


a train I missed passed me by with a low grumble in his voice, 
it heads into the city to start its day, 
it woke up late and didn’t have time for coffee.


effigies of human progress litter the furthest reaches of my eye line, 
towers of illumination, spectacles and wonders of a quieter time,
before the clouds were accustomed to being pierced and split.


no one wants to be here,
no one wants to be awake… here… now,
no one wants to embark on the cold, the dark, the known.


this perilous journey that is all too familiar for comfort, 
yet each day we drudge through that muck for scraps of recognition, 
years of hard, dull pain for minutes of joy, 
drops of glimmer and shine that shower in a bleak existence. 

Categories
Uncategorized

Absurdum Ad Nauseum

A Tale from The Leviathan Theatre

Very few national landmarks as old as the Leviathan Theatre have survived the waves of gentrification in Sono, Georgia. Those still around have to compete with more modern venues. Always under the threat of closing which only adds to the stress of the aging institutions. For the Leviathan there was all this and more; systems failing, equipment breaking, constant leaks, fires, and culture of miscommunication.

The theatre is dark and likely haunted. Out of the three hundred active employees, approximately one and one-half die on average each year. This combined with the working conditions equates to a high turnover rate. Many faces in and out, flowing like leaves on a river, if that river had a one and one-half out three hundred chance of leading to death. 

The crux of operations at the Leviathan is the Food and Beverage department. When shit rolls down the hill, it lands on Food and Bev. F&B has had many managers over the its long run, but one has stayed for nearly 15 years, that man is Ben Wynters. Now Assistant Director, he attempts to steer the dept where it ought to go with everything trying to throw him off course. Along with Ben, there are five managers to help the theatre along: Allie, Carter, Fergus, Doug and Lyle.

Allie was one of ten black people in her small town of Gena, (Guh-Ay-Nuh) Washington; she got a scholarship for competitive marching band and left. Allie had always led a menial existence, never flashy or obnoxious; now she wants to be bold and adventurous in love and in life. She’s not doing a very good job at it.

Carter escaped a cult of rabid Latter-Day Saints in Peninsula, Ohio. The cult was active in the remote red-state town and had the goal of ‘converting’ sinners, adulterers, and homosexuals by praying the sins away with vicious beatings. Carter escaped by night, he convinced a guard that a girl was asking for him before bashing his head in with a rock and stealing his belongings. Carter is constantly falling asleep on the job due to working two other jobs and the nightmares.

Fergus is a thin man, with tattoos up and down, from West Brimwich, England; it’s next to Birmingham he says. Fergus fled to the Americas after an unfortunate night hosting a pikey wedding at his banquet hall. There were broken windows and tables, vomit and fluids everywhere, and worst of all: shit smeared on the ceiling of the women’s restroom. Enough was enough he told himself, but he would later end up at the Leviathan.

Not much is known about Doug despite working for the Leviathan for 4 years. It slipped that he has a sister and that his family traveled a lot. Coincidentally he’s lived in the hometowns of all the managers. Locales are often one of two things Doug talks about, the other is obscure music. His favorite genre is Mongolian throat singing.

Lyle was the only native on the team, having lived in Georgia his whole life. Lyle is the least decisive of all the managers, he constantly faces paralysis by analysis, a common thread his whole life. At University, he switched his major twelve times before having enough credits to graduate with a degree in Statistical Analysis. Lyle formerly worked for a telecommunications customer service department where he was yelled at everyday for months before he developed the anxiety of a Woody Allen character and being fired. If he is standing still at work, the world caves in.

The bartenders at the Leviathan usually have never bartended before. But most can get by. Customers ask for drinks such as gin and tonics or whiskey gingers but even some bartenders struggle with those requests. Among the bar staff there’s an air of entitlement, either from seniority or a cushy lifestyle. There are always exceptions though, mostly younger people who need the job to survive, kissing the ass to get paid the cash.

Names are not unique at the theatre. Among the staff their is five Aaron’s; A, C, H, R, and F. Four Joe’s; A, D, C, and X. An unknown amount of Mike’s but four had been accounted for; Mike M, W, M, G and Mike from Maintenance. A Ken, Kendrick, Kendall. There’s two Ashley’s, one female and one male. Then there’s the typical Gwen’s and Rachel’s, Caitlyn’s and Catherine’s. The staff constantly disappears from their bars and for obvious reasons, is very hard to keep track of.

The all departments and even the building itself were recovering from the annual New Year’s concert known as ‘Rockfest.’ Rockfest is a three-day nonstop concert performed by a Grateful Dead cover band that plays from the start of the festival to the end. This miracle of constant music is brought to you by large amounts of steroids and other uppers administered with IV’s. Hydration is a prioritization. Opening acts also play a small part.

The concert was long, bartenders and events staff slept behind the bars in shifts, never leaving the hordes of customers unattended or even worse: sober. Scary. Jobs, lives, and pants were lost. The end of Rockfest also marked the beginning of the Broadway season. Psyches were fragile and ripe to be broken by the beast called Broadway.

Conveniently the Leviathan is located under an abundance of powerlines, in between two converging cell towers. Due to the high levels of electromagnetic radiation; nose bleeds, severe headaches and hallucinations are commonplace. One hallucination that everyone shares is a tall bearded bartender, Eric, who died in the boiler room 7 years ago from heart attack. Another unforeseen consequence of the microwave sea is that cell phones dies within minutes. One bartender, Aaron Haynes (or Aaron H) is an insatiable technophile. Naturally being unplugged for hours at a time leaves him disturbed. 

By the powers that be, a fear of missing out, and an unlimited credit card limit Aaron H bought the latest phone on the market. Aaron H bought one before work and was ready for his first shift linked up. The P3000AmH Giga or ‘GIGA’ for brevity, from Nonspecific Electric Corporation. The Giga is the first phone exclusively from a battery company. The phone, which looked more akin to a hefty block, is said to last a week and a half on a single charge with constant 5K HD use.

Aaron’s new phone lasted 44 minutes at work. Among his peers, this was equivalent to winning a world record in battery life. It was not satisfactory. Angered by its performance, Aaron threw the brick at the wall, creating yet another hole that maintenance and restoration would ignore fixing but still complain about. The crash from the shattered plaster echoed throughout the whole theatre, including the mezzanine.

‘What was that?’ Lyle asked himself, setting down a crate of assorted liquor and wines at Bar 10. Lyle turned to the senior bartender Tim to see if he had heard the same echoing thrump but the man of eighty-six years appeared to hear nothing. Tim already had his bar, Bar 9, set up six hours before the other bartenders’ call time and two hours before the managers arrived. As per usual, Tim stared off into the empty space of the mezzanine ceiling. The ancient concessionaire formed this bad habit after paying off his future cremation costs, only twenty installments of $199.99. ‘A steal of a price!’ he tells everyone every shift. 

Tim was the only one left from the original staff, some say he had even come with the building when it opened Christmas Day. Tim was a ticket boy who was paid in advance so he could buy his family a festive ham for Christmas 1942. It was the best Christmas Tim ever had; all others were disappointing. For a few years in the 70’s, Tim had left the Leviathan. Unsubstantiated rumors would have you believe that Tim left to go fight in Vietnam where, after the war, he stayed to be a professional wrestler known as Đấu sĩ or Gladiator. These claims are of course unsubstantiated as stated previously except for the tattoo on the lower half of his neck.

Lyle moved on from the thud and went to the next bar. The young manager had noticed a small puddle forming at the base of the beer taps on Bar 7. Lyle bent down to investigate the leak further, it was coming from the base of the beer taps. After standing up from his inspection, Lyle was startled by the sudden appearance of Mike: the maintenance worker. 

“JESUS!” Lyle puffed, clutching his chest. 

“Hello Kyle.” the short muscular man said, squinting his eyes in annoyance.

“Uh…it’s Lyle.” 

“Let me show you something Kyle.” The maintenance man walked around the bar to point out the leak that Lyle had just discovered. “You see this?”

“Yeah, I just saw it…” 

“And you didn’t tell anyone?!” 

“…I was about to call you guys.”

“Too late now.” maintenance said sternly.

“Hey, I mean it’s a pretty small leak… it must have happened overnight.”

“Yeah and now it’s leaking through the roof of the auditorium!”

“How? The floor is solid concrete.”

Maintenance Man Mike shook his head in both disappointment and disbelief, he gestured Lyle to follow him. The two walked down the extensive flight of stairs, parading around the railing to Curtain B. Maintenance pulled back the fez red curtain and pointed to the auditorium’s star filled roof. A torrent of amber liquid drowned the auditorium seats from a hole the young manager couldn’t quite discern. The whole housekeeping department was present, throwing buckets of beer on the surrounding seats. When Lyle asked about the process, Mike didn’t have a definite answer, but his theory was that housekeeping wanted all the seats to be uniformly not dry so as not to raise suspicion among the patrons. 

Despite being a failed statistician, Lyle knew that the amount of beer gushing from the crevasse was more than the content of the four kegs the line was hooked up to. ‘This must be what they meant when they talk about synergy.’ Lyle thought. An idea that he didn’t know worked within the boundaries of the natural laws of physics, only in board meetings and self-help seminars. Lyle then looked past the IPA-Lager infused waterfall and saw the theatre troupe attempting to ignore the downpour. One of the dancers, the lead actress from the look of it, finally snapped and broke rehearsal.

“HOW MUCH LONGER UNTIL YOU GET THAT FIXED?!” the actress yelled across the auditorium.

“WE DON’T KNOW!” Lyle shouted back.

“WHEN ARE DOORS?!”

Lyle looked at his watch then screamed “SIX-THIRTY!”

“WHAT TIME IS IT NOW?!”

Lyle looked at his watch again, “THREE-THIRTY!”

The dancer’s head dropped, and the rest of the crew let out an audible sigh, followed by various grumbles and groans.

“Why are you yelling?” the maintenance worker asked Lyle.

“I wanted to feel included…” he replied, with weak conviction.

Maintenance Mike gestured Lyle to leave, which he did. Lyle wanted to finish setting up his bars on the mezzanine and leave housekeeping to water the seats but there was an overwhelming urge to “go.” Lyle ran to the closest restroom, located in the lower lounges, his genitals nearly exploding before making it to a urinal. Food & Beverage and Housekeeping didn’t feel all that different in this moment: Pissed.

Working upstairs setting up the bars is the most labor-intensive duty of all the managerial positions, but every manager craves it for the peace and quiet it brings before the shift. The calm before the shitstorm. The mezzanine is absent of all the clinks and clanks of exposed piping in the central office. When you play the game of rotation, you win or deal with the early arrivals. Dealing with the bartenders as they arrive is the more frowned upon position.

The hot seat is the position where you sit in the central office; assign bartenders to certain bars, dole out who does what side work, and listen to the long list of abnormal complaints of the staff as they arrive to help with set up. Assistant Director Ben Wynters is usually downstairs with the manager stationed at the desk. Ben often took the brunt of the barrage questions and critiques. The lucky manager this show was the only female manager on the team, Allie.

Where better placed would be a struggling film nerd work than in a historic theatre? The answer: in the production crew or actual on the set of a film, not in concessions. But that’s the point in life where Allie was, perpetually in between gigs. Everyone has low points in their career, hers was just lasting a bit longer.

Allie upsets a majority of the bar staff but for different reasons. Allie upsets most of the women by ignoring their complaints of hard physical labor and she upsets a lot of the men by being a stronger and more imposing woman than them. The ego of man can be fragile, emasculating is the quickest route to aggression. In addition, Allie has a general lack of tact so she’s rarely listened to, she wonders why.

Lyle, always the experimenter, noticed this absence of responsiveness to Allie’s authority. The solution: to add more masculinity to her strong, yet feminine figure in the form of a mustache. “Why don’t I just grow one right now, huh?!” Allie asked. That’s when Fergus took a fake mustache out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Allie.

“Here you go kiddo.” Fergus said calmly, handing out the ‘stache.

“Why…do you just carry around a fake mustache?” Allie asked. 

“Yeah… you never know. I also have mints, an automaton turtle I made name Geoffrey, and a small American to English Dictionary and Euphemisms.”

“Well, okay…”

Allie was willing to try anything and with the mustache there was no excuse. Allie would have to wait for the meeting because of desk duties: setting up all the paperwork for closing. Allie would have to keep her face glued to the screen for the time being and occasionally talk to Doug who finished his set up. Ben sat handling the staff and putting out the fires as they came. All so Allie could do her work in relative peace. That peace being relative to a chess game in a NYC park.

Tim, finally finished with the day’s existential dissociative episode, approached the desk with a voracity that was rarely seen in the aged man.  

“Someone took my butter!” Tim’s lips dry and clearly dehydrated.

“Butter?!” Ben replied, uncertain of he had just heard.

“Yes, some yellow bastard took my butter right out of the cooler.”

“Tim, my first question, why would you bring butter to work?”

“I didn’t have time after work and I didn’t want it to melt in my truck.”

“Tim, it’s 24 degrees outside.”

“You never know.”

“Well Tim, why don’t you go see if security caught anything on the cameras.” Doug spurted trying not to laugh, a smile creeping up his face.

“Don’t fuck with me Doug, I’ve been working here longer than you, this place has no cameras.”

“Yeah, security has one for the hallway. You should go check. I’m real serious.”

Like a bloodhound catching a scent, Tim, shuffled off the security operations center, his mouth agape, licking his lips. Doug didn’t breathe until he had closed the door. With the ‘clug’ of the heavy metal door closing. The two younger managers began laughing uncontrollably. Ben sat in his chair, wide-eyed, trying to wrap his head around what had just happened. 

“Are you fucking me?! …Butter?!” Allie shrieked.

“What just happened? Is he five years old?” Ben asked. 

“I can’t stop! …Oh God!” Doug blurted.

“I gotta get the fuck outta here. I need to crunch some numbers, Ricci’s been on my ass like toilet paper about the inventory this month…” Ben said getting up, once fully erect, a roll of toilet paper hit the top of his bald head from behind and rolled over leaving a trail over him. “…Hold down the fort, guys.” 

Allie and Doug just kept laughing as Ben walked to the second, more isolated safe room. A clap of hands was heard from around the corner, as a huge high five landed, Ben let out a small chuckle and ran to the office before anyone could find him. Allie and Doug sat and began assigning the night’s side work to each bartender. This was a time where the bartenders were left largely unsupervised in central. One of the shift leaders: Matt, came in and sat down after setting up his bar early. He began talking to Allie about the show and how excited he was to see it. Doug was the least excited and zoned out.

“Are you gonna watch the show at all?” Matt asked.

“Uh… Maybe. I saw most of it last season but I might peak my head in.” she replied.

“I’m definitely gonna go in after the show starts. Which song’s your favorite?”

Allie floundered, not being excessively interested in this particular play. Grabbing the programme from the desk, she scanned the following set list nonchalantly: 

ACT I

        – What’s Inside Me?

        – Opening Up My Piehole

        – What Shaking Can Do

        – Club I’m Def Knocked Up

        – When He Sees My Pie

        – A Soft Place to Kneel

        – Bad Ideas Please

ACT II

        – I Didn’t Plan on Getting It

        – You Kinda Matter to Me, Maybe

        – I’d Love You on a Table

        – Taking It from an Old Man

        – She Used to Be Mine, and His, and His… I Think

        – Opening Up Again 

“This is not the play I remember…” Allie told Matt.

“How do you think selling the pies are gonna go?” Matt prodded, ignoring her response.

“I have no idea and they’re not pies they’re pastries. We had a lot of trouble trying to get people to sell them.” Allie replied.

“Who’d you get to do it?” 

“JD, and Andre.”

“At least JD is doing it, isn’t he a salesman at his day job?”

“Yeah, it should be easy for him.” Doug added, staring at the assignment sheet.”

“Have you guys tried the pies? They look …meager.” 

“No, Chef said we can’t try them, it’ll cut into the bottom line he said.” Allie uttered in a sad tone.

“Gotcha, I’m not gonna have to do it am I?”

“Hope not. We kinda need you to bartend.” Doug said, returning from nowhere.

“JD and Andre are good bartenders too though.”

“They’re alright, JD can be a little emotional at time and Andre can be sassy.” Allie remarked. 

As they were talking and engaged in the small talk, the silver fox Tim returned, slipping in unnoticed, he waited until he was noticed, unwilling to interrupt a conversation he was not involved in. Another of the managers, Carter, had finished helping set up and moved right past Tim who was standing in the middle of the concrete floor. The employees all realized simultaneously that Tim was standing at attention, a soldier waiting to report.  

              “Yes, Tim?” Doug asked.

“Matt can you uh…uh… step out for a minute please.” Tim asked.

“Uh… sure.” Matt said hesitantly. Matt got up and walked through the office doors which Tim shut behind him and turning the lock.

“I… I… I…” Tim stops to lick his lips, “I got the motherfucker!” 

“Who?” Doug asked. 

“That chef with the limp! I went to the security office like you said and we looked back at the hallway camera, thank God it’s there! So, we… we… looked at it and the older chef, the one with a limp had…had… had it in his hands and that fucker had a big smile on his face. Security wants him fired for stealing and I agree. Where’s Ben?” Tim was now out of breath from the long monologue he just gave, holding on to one of the metal shelves for support.

“He’s upstairs doing paperwork, sit down Tim. You look all riled up, that’s not good for your heart.” Allie.

Tim sat down, “Can… can… you grab Ben?” patiently waiting for justice to be exacted.

“Can you give us a minute? We’re doing something important right now?” Allie replied.

“Oh, sure.” Allie turned to Doug and whispered, “I thought you were joking about the camera.”

“I was.” Doug whispered.

“What do we do now? Ben just went up.”

“Hold on…” Doug turned to Tim “Hey Tim, Ben’s busy right now. Can we handle this?”

“Nope, it has got to be Ben.”

“Ok…I’ll go talk to him.” 

“What’s going on?” Carter asked confused.

“We’ll tell you later.” Allie responded.

Carter pursed his lips and nodded.

Doug got up; Allie’s eyes screamed ‘Don’t leave me here alone!’ but that’s exactly what he did. While walking away, Doug overheard Tim asking again if Allie had heard the story about how he won $100 in Vegas. Regardless of her answer, Tim was going to tell the story again. Doug imagined Allie’s head dropping on the keyboard as he left. Doug headed up to the safe room where Ben had shut himself out from the rest of the staff. Doug startled Ben when he had made it to the bullet resistance window.

“Hey man, you almost made me shit myself.” Ben swore.

“Sorry, uh…. we got a problem.” 

“Already? They’ve only been here for 20 minutes.”

“Yeah, it’s Tim, with the… heh… butter situation.” Doug couldn’t help but laugh at the thought.

“Are you fucking kidding me? We’re on this again? Who the fuck brings butter to work? … you a bartender.”

“Tim, apparently. He said the chef with a limp took it”

“Who? Emmanuel? They probably ran out of butter upstairs and when he went looking for it and found it, he must of thought it was a gift from God. Jesus Christ… alright I’ll be down there in a minute.”

“Cool.”

As Ben stood up, the phone rang, the caller ID said Williams. ‘Ah shit.’ Ben thought picking up the phone.

“Hey Williams, I was just doing the transfers, but something with one of my staff just popped up and its gonna be another few minutes.” 

“The paperwork is already late Ben, I need it within the hour.”

“I’ll get it to you before then. I’ll bring it by myself. The situation shouldn’t take too long.”

“It better not.” Williams hung up the phone with immediacy.

“FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!” Ben shouted into the phone.

Grabbing the paperwork, he hurried downstairs to the office. Once Tim saw him he began ranting incessantly about the whole situation as if Ben was unaware. Ben told him one minute but Tim’s selective hearing kicked in and he kept talking. 

“Alright kiddo, remember what I showed you with the inventory. Could you finish the rest of these while I take care of this?” Ben asked Allie.

“Uh yeah, got it.” Allie began typing away.

“You’re the best.” He turned to Tim, “Okay, what’s going on?”

Tim who never stopped talking then stopped and repeated his rant once more:

“I… I… I got the motherfucker!” Tim exclaimed once more.

“Who?”

“The limpy chef.”

“You mean Emmanuel?”

“I think so, he… he… had a big smile on his face when he had my butter in his hands. Security wants to fire him, and I agree but it’s your decision Ben.”

“Hold on, I’ll talk to him.”

Ben went upstairs to the kitchen to search for Chef Emmanuel, a very short endeavor, he was basting and broiling lobster tails. 

“Emmanuel, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure.” Chef muttered to another chef in Spanish and they took his spot.

After secluded Emmanuel asked what’s up.

“So, weird question, did you take some butter from the downstairs cooler?”

“Yes, I did.” Chef answered.

“Okay, can you come with me downstairs?”

“No problem.” Chef promptly yelled at the others in Spanish. It sounded violent.

As the two got down to the office with the other managers, Ben asked what had happened.

“Let me tell you Ben, it was a miracle. We ran out of butter up here and so I went looking all over and low and behold: my prayers were answered. There was a full pack of pristine unsalted butter right there in the cooler.” Chef said all with a smile on his face, the phosphorescent lights reflecting off certain gold teeth. 

“Okay, Chef that butter was one of the bartender’s.”

“Why does a bartender need butter? And why was it in the regular cooler and not the employee fridge?”

“I don’t know. I have no clue, but you took a man’s butter.”

Diana, one of the older bartenders barged through the door. “I heard everything; Chef didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Why were you listening? This was supposed to be a private conversation.” Ben asked.

Diana ignored the question, “Any man that has true faith in the Lord can do no wrong in this world.”

“Amen to that sister.” Chef said.

The two devout believers each took out a golden cross hanging around their necks and clanked them together. Ben looked confused at the odd ritualistic gesture of Christian solidarity but was thrown off by the smell of liquor.

“Wait, what’s that smell? Are you drunk?”

The composed Dianna belched on accident “No…” and then quickly evacuated the office.

A disembodied voice answered Ben’s question with an “I am!”

“Who said that?! Was that Saraiya?” but when Ben looked there was nothing but a shadow moving across the wall.

“Can I go now?” Chef asked.

“Yeah Emmanuel, you can go. I’ll figure out what to do about the butter and let you know.”

“You know, I got some left-over lobster that I used the butter for.”

“Can you bring in some butter tomorrow to replace what you took?”

“No, I don’t have the money.”

“You don’t have enough money to buy a package of butter? It’s a buck fifty.”

“Right, see, I got into a little spat with the Jewish mafia and well I owe them some. So right now, I ain’t got it.”

“Alright, thank you Emmanuel, I’ll let you know.” Ben’s faced nuzzled into his hand out of frustration. With a smug grin on his face Chef Emmanuel said “Alright!” and returned to the kitchen.

Ben sat in one of the many rolley chairs that littered the office space and plopped down in it. 

“Please, one of you, just put me out of my misery.” he asked.

“Done!” Allie shouted.

“Done with what?” Ben asked.

“Inventory.”

“Ah shit, that’s right. Time?”

“5:53.”

“Print that out right now, I got seven minutes to get this to accounting.”

“Six minutes.” Allie said handing him a hot, stack of fresh printed papers.

“Thanks, kiddo. You really saved my ass.”

“No problem, Ben.”

Ben sprinted through the theatre, across the lengthy building, to the administration offices. He started to sweat as he approached the office of Red Williams, Vice Director of Accounting and Finance. It was a very large and intimidating plaque mounted on the wall next to the office door. Ben wiped the sweat from his forehead before walking in, attempting to act casual.

“Alright, Williams. Here are the numbers.” Ben gasped.

“Just on time. I was about to have Ricci fire you for being late, but you had three minutes till the top of the hour.”

“Well thank God.”

Williams didn’t respond, only looking at the numbers Ben provided him and cross referencing it with his own.

“Speaking of the Lord. Ben, do you go to church often?” Williams broke the silence.

“No, not since I was a child.”

“That explains it.”

“Explains what?!”

“You have no integrity.”

“I’m sorry what?”

“You have no integrity.” Williams repeated.

“I heard you the first time, but what does that mean?”

“You lack the fundamental characteristic known as integrity.”

Ben could only gasp at the vague claim.

“You’re $20,000 under by the way.” Williams said after dropping the paper concluding his examination of the numbers.

“$20,000?!”

“Yes, you heard me the first time, right? Or is this whole meeting going to be me repeating myself?”

“By my numbers I’m only under $900, which is within the 3%”

“By my count it’s around $20,000.”

“Okay, well can you show me where you got that number?”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Why can’t you just show me? I’ve got $900 and you got $20,000.” Ben held out his counts, showing his work.

“It’s not that simple Ben. I’ll talk to Ricci about it. You can leave now.”

“I just don’t understand…”

“I said you can leave now, so get out, shoo, begone sinner.” 

Ben knew this was no fight he could win and left flabbergasted. Ben had made it back to the central office just in time for the meeting. Which was being led by Allie.

“Alright guys were using this trail mix instead of chips since we ran out of chips.”

“What kinds of trail mix?” One bartender, Germaine, asked.

“It’s called Deez Sweet Carolina mix. It’s got dried banana, sesame sticks, cashews, peanuts, and almonds.”

“Excuse me Tina could you please move? I can’t see the manager and you’re in the way.” Germaine asked.

“You don’t need to see the manager to listen to her.” Tina retorted.

“I can’t hear well and so I have to read lips and all I can read is that sagging ass.”

“Bitch you wanna go?”

Allie stepped to the side, “Uh hey guys, It’s called Deez Sweet Carolina mix. It’s got dried banana, sesame sticks, cashews, peanuts, and almonds.”

“That’s not trail mix!” Germaine shouted.

“Yes, it is, it says it right here: TRAILMIX.” Allie pointed to the words on the container.

“Well it’s wrong.”

“Why is it wrong… Germaine?”

“Trail mix isn’t sweet.”

“Okay so it is trail mix. Any other questions?” 

“Did you consider my suggestion about the pulley system?” Germaine added.

The other twenty bartenders rolled their eyes and some grunted. Germaine was oblivious.

“Yes, Germaine and it’s a terrible idea, not happening.”

“It’s a great idea, it should happen.”

“No. We are not going to make a hole in the wall of the women’s locker room to shuttle product to the women’s lounge.

“Okay and just so everyone’s on the same page JD and Andre are selling the pastries if a customer asks, they have them and if a customer is asking ‘Where are the pies?’ tell them we don’t have pies, we have sweet almond puff pastries. Any questions from anyone that’s not Germaine? No? Okay cool, go team!”

One of the Joe’s screamed out: “Woo!” He was the only one and was immediately embarrassed. The rest of the bartenders shuffled about; some went to their bar’s; others had their own business to take care of before the doors opened.

“Way to go with the meeting Kiddo, you did great.” Ben said.

“Thanks. I just wish Germaine would stop talking.” Allie replied. 

“You know, I think everyone wishes that.”

Before anything else could happen, Tim walked up to the managers. There was a hunger in his eyes. “Did you get my butter back guys?” Tim asked.

“No, Tim. They used your butter to cook lobster. They offered some as compensation.”

“I don’t want anything made from a thief like that!”

“Alright Tom, here’s $5 for the butter.” Ben held out a bill trying to pass it of as Chef’s.

“I don’t want money; I want… I want… my dang butter.”

“I don’t know what to tell you then Tim.”

“Ben have you given thought to my pulley system idea?” Germaine stuck her head through the door.

“Oh God, not you again.” Ben cried.

“We were talking about something important here.” Tim said.

“This IS important.” Germaine fired back.

“Okay, everyone STOP. Tim if you’re not gonna take the lobster or the money, you get nothing. Germaine we aren’t doing the pulley system. It’s a terrible idea.”

“It’s a great idea, it should happen, I even brought my own sledgehammer from home so we can get started today.” she argued while holding up an sturdy-looking hammer. Tim walked away angrily. 

“Where’d you?… How’d you?… How’d you get that past security?!” Ben replied.

“I’m a journalist. See this is what’s wrong with y’all: you don’t care about making our lives easier. It’s about time we bartenders took the reins from you ‘managers.’” Germaine air quoted.

“I don’t even know what that means Germaine but please just go to your bar, put the hammer away and PLEASE forget about the pulley system.”

“No!” Germaine huffed as she left the room.

The nightmare was finally over, or so they thought. Germaine was the most combative of all the bartenders, maybe even of all departments. Germaine was still demanding despite her being on final notice. On two separate occasions she had been given warnings for being entirely too loud during other Broadway shows. The first occurrence she was talking to a bar mate about how children are inherently the devil and it’s the duty of a teacher to ‘beat Satan out of the child.’ An usher heard her rant echo across the mezzanine and asked her to be quiet. The frail substitute teacher somehow managed to pick up a hundred-pound popcorn machine and threw it at the usher. Her reasoning was she was trying ‘hush her.’ 

The second incident happened when one of the managers explained she could not play gospel music at the bar. The argument was overheard by president of the theatre who was sitting in on the show. When the president came up to investigate the manager partially froze and could only utter the statement ‘Great acoustics we have up here, don’t we?” The president only uttered ‘No we don’t, stop it now.’ Germaine was removed from the bar with help from 2 bartenders and Carter, by force. They had to shove bar towels in her mouth to keep her from shouting. 

“Can we fire her already?” Allie asked Ben.

“No, aside from being a pain in the ass, she hasn’t gotten a third strike.” Ben answered.

“Isn’t this a right to work state?” 

“Yeah it is but there’s something we also got to consider called spontaneous personal discrimination.”

“What?”

“She can claim we were discriminating against her personally.”

“Isn’t that the only basis to do so down here?”

“Yeah, not anymore.”

“Then what’s the point?”

“What’s the point of anything? I don’t know.”

“Geez Ben…”

Ben had been staring off with a delayed response “Oh…sorry…What’s up?” Before she could answer the Assistant Assistant Director, Brad, dropped in.

“Hey, we’re trying to get rid of this Los Lobos Chilean Merlot. I need you to give this to Bar 6 and put it in the system.”

“We just had the meeting; the doors are opening in 10 minutes. Why couldn’t you tell us this earlier?” Allie questioned. 

“Because I was caught up in an intense game of intermural kickball. My team crushed it.”

“What are you 16?”

“No, I’m 34 and team sports are the shit. Maybe you should try them, and you’d have some friends outside of work.”

Allie stared judgmentally with squinted eyes, a lowered head, and raised shoulders.

“Ok, well put this in as eight dollars. I’ll be in my office, don’t call me.”

For Ben Wynters, the task of managing staff is never ending. As quickly as he came, Brad was gone but was then replaced by a bartender named Chanel who was incapable of not crying. Chanel was always a bit of a diva but never had she genuinely cried at work. The sight was quite alarming. 

“Chanel, what’s wrong?” Ben asked.

“I want to file a… uh… a sexual harassment claim…” she muttered.

“Oh my God, what happened?! Are you okay?!”

“Okay, so, I was giving Aaron head in…”

“Which Aaron?” Ben interrupted.

“Aaron F. Anyways, so I was sucking his dick in the bathroom and…”

“Why the bathroom?”

“Well I wanted to and we couldn’t do it out here. Ben can you stop interrupting and let me talk.” Chanel’s tone shifted from frail to sharply aggravated. 

“Okay, sorry, go ahead.” Ben apologized.

“So, I was giving head and I got my way to his balls and… and…”

“And?”

“… and he farted. My mouth was open and everything.”

“WHAT?!” Ben nearly shouted.

“I know… it’s so fucked up.” Chanel began to tear up again at the injustice that had befallen her.

“Is Aaron F. still in the bathroom?”

“I think so.”

“Okay, I’ll go talk to him.” Ben turned to Allie, “Did you get all that kiddo?”

“Yeah, Ben.” Allie replied.

“Can you make sure she’s alright?”

“Got it.”

Allie sat there talking to Chanel trying to comfort her as Ben went to investigate. Ben went through the labyrinthine hallways, ducking and weaving between the low ceiling beams. On the way to the bathroom Ben found another bartender crying this time it was Ruby. Naturally at this time Ben automatically assumed the worst. Ruby was entranced, consumed by an unknown grief. Ben tapped her on the shoulder.

“Ruby, what happened? Did Aaron F. fart on you too? That boy is out of line!” Ben reasoned.

“What?! No!” Ruby choked through the tears.

“Then what’s wrong?”

“Allie put me on Bar 12!”

“What’s wrong with that? Bar 12 is the 2nd best bar, you’re gonna make good money.”

“That’s just it! It’s the second best, not the first! It’s not Bar 6! I hate coffee!”

Ben, unsure of what he could say to remedy Ruby’s situation, simply slapped her on the upper part of her arm, told her that she’d be fine and went on his way. Ruby let out a guttural howl of despair. Oddly enough, the door to the woman’s employee restroom, which was on the way to the men’s, was wide open. Ben peeked in and saw Germaine winding back the hammer for a swing. The institutional white brick wall already had a few cracks and chips in it from previous strikes. Sprinklings of concrete dusted the floor.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Ben shouted, running in and grabbing the hammer. 

A group of half-naked bartenders shrieked and threw shirts, shoes, and tampons (luckily unused) at Ben who quickly backed out with hammer in hand. After exiting the door way, the door closed violently on Ben, he swiveled around carelessly; the hammer and Ben had found Aaron F. Before Ben knew it Aaron was on the ground clutching his genitals and grinding his teeth in pain. It was decided then that there’d be no investigation of Aaron F. Ben apologized and helped the man to his feet, they made a deal. 

Ben returned to the office, Allie was still typing away furiously, she paused. Allie let Ben know that Ricci called looking for him, the numbers were off and to call him immediately. 

“Alright, kiddo hand me the phone.” Ben commanded, he had Allie dial 4110 for him. 

“Hello?” Ricci asked.

“Hey Ricci, it’s Ben.”

“Ben, come to my office immediately, we have numbers to discuss.”

“Alright, on the way.”

Ben handed back the phone and told Allie to ‘hold down the fort,’ she just grunted in acknowledgement and kept typing. At this time, the lobby of the theatre was flooded with hordes of patrons all trying to buy drinks and potentially pastries. Ben looked over to see Andre standing silent among the crowd, making little effort to sell. JD on the other hand was vibrant and lively despite his hatred of the task given to him. JD, the natural salesman, would scream out ‘Hot delicious sweet almond puff pastries!’ or ‘Can’t you just smell the cinnamon, the nutmeg, delicious sweet almond puff pastries!” JD would go on to sell 243 sweet almond puff pastries by the end of intermission, Andre sold 14. 

Ben had made it to the administration offices of the theatre, the golden plague of Michelangelo Ricci’s office had always given Ben an air of anxiety, not knowing whether it was the day that Ben would be terminated. The intensity of this anxiety became common place and was made inseparable from Ben’s work persona, at this point, six years into their relationship, the feeling was nearly undetectable.

The assistant director walked through the door to find Ricci posing in a classically European swimsuit in front of a mirror. 

“Oh Ricci, I can come back later.” Ben uttered while shielding his eyes.

“Oh no, that’s quite alright. I was just getting ready for the convention trip to South Beach next weekend.”

“So, you needed to talk about the numbers?”

“Yes, right. Williams called me and told me that we were off by $20,000 is this true?” Michelangelo began to pose to parallel the same statue his parents named him after. He was not as perfect. 

“Well from what I gathered we’re only off by $900 not $20,000. Williams won’t show me where he got that number, so I have no way of verifying it on my end. He says it’s not that simple.” Ben started staring at the top corner of the room to avoid seeing his eccentric boss in all his glory.

“Is that so? Williams is like that. If he won’t show us then we can’t do anything about it.” Ricci’s words were aloof, more concerned with his precious self-image.

“Here’s a copy of my numbers Ricci if you need me for anything else just call.”

“Oh yes, you’ll have to assume my position while I’m gone next week.”

“Understood.”

“Thank you, and what do you think of the swimsuit?”

Ben fumbled over his words from the discomfort “Looks good sir…”

“Thanks, its Versace.”

“Can I go now sir?”

“Yes, yes, back to the potty-mouths and degenerates, if you can’t handle them Ben, no one can.”

Ben exited the office and could not shake off the ocular genocide that was just committed. Instead of going back to the offices, he walked out of the building to the employee smoking section. He noticed Rose, one of the skinniest bartenders, smoking a cigarette and playing on her phone under the awning. Rose was known for disappearing for long periods and giving ridiculous excuses. 

“Rose, why aren’t you at your bar? Doors opened 20 minutes ago.” Ben asked.

“Oh! Uh… I had feminine problems. And then… wanted a cigarette.” Rose answered in fear.

“How long have you been out here Rose?”

“Not long…”

Ben knew this was a lie because he saw the pile of cigarette butts piled up next to her foot. “Get back to your bar Rose.”

“Can I finish my cigarette first?”

“No Rose, go now.”

“Yes sir.”

The perpetually confused girl dropped her cigarette without putting it out and ran inside. Ben was no smoker, but he picked up the half-smoked cigarette and killed it in a single drag before stomping it out. Finally, with silence, Ben stared up at the clouds that poured rain down onto the theatre. A simulation of his life he believed. There was a break in the clouds that revealed a few bright stars whose radiance bounced off the dull grey specters. Ben mused life, the distractions of busy work no longer occupying his mind, he thought of the banality of life and its meaninglessness. Ben didn’t make it far in that train of thought before his radio spoke out to break his meditation. 

“This is Allie to Ben.” the radio barked.

“This is Ben, go ahead.”

“What’s your twenty?”

“I’m outside sitting down, my ass is wet, and I’m thinking about the meaning of life.”

“Uh… I have a question.” 

“There’s just a glass of vodka on the table. 

The wind outside is crying.

The shouts of this young moon. 

Are echoing in me with a faint pain.” Ben sang in outburst.

“Ben?”

“Yes?”

“Are you okay?” 

“Yeah, I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Copy…” Allie radioed with guilt. 

The rest of the show went on as most did, full of problems and questions, all of which fell on Ben to solve and answer. The POS systems didn’t record all the sales transactions made, so the amount of money the managers got back from the bartenders was more than what was shown to be sold. A recurring problem. Some bartenders stole money. Leaks sprang up from the beer lines, from the soda guns, from the wooden computer desks covering everything in thick, sticky goop. The assistant managers had all fallen in asleep in their rolley chairs. All the paperwork was finished around 3 A.M. Ben got home at four and had to be back at ten-thirty. 

This ritual was all too familiar to the Assistant Director. Ben would sit in the recliner situated in the middle of his living room and stare at the noose he crafted himself. Next to the rope is a brightly calligraphed sign stating: “For Encouragement.” Ben’s own memento mori. Tonight though, it spoke to him of practicality and a utilitarian use. Ben pushed his recliner to the wall where It hung and tightened it around his neck. He pushed the la-z-boy away and dropped. 

Vision went black within seconds. Ben fell unconscious as he hoped before taking his own life. There was a familiar ring of a phone in the afterlife. Ben who still saw nothing wondered if phones were as mainstream in death as they were in life. Spots of vision burned back into Ben’s sight until he saw the roof of his living room and wondered if this was also a part of the great beyond. The revelation came when he noticed the rope hanging from the ceiling was torn and frayed. Ben felt around his neck, followed the rope to its end and stared. 

The phone continued to ring. Ben pulled it out of his pocket. The time read 7:43 A.M. The caller I.D. read Michelangelo Ricci (The Leviathan). Ben stared at it hoping it would stop ringing. It did for nearly a second, but Ricci called again. Ben answered reluctantly.

“Hello?” Ben answered; his voice hoarse from asphyxiation.

“Oh, Ben you sound terrible! Did you come down with something last night?” Ricci asked.

“Yeah but I’m fine now, what’s up Ricci?”

“So, the trip to South Beach is starting a little early and I’m gonna need you to take over my role immediately and there’s a meeting at ten that you need to make.”

“Alright, I’ll be there.”

“Thanks Ben! Feel better.” 

The call ended, his arm dropped, the phone crashed and slid across the floor. Ben laid sprawled on the floor for a few more minutes before talking to himself.

“I’m too fat for this shit apparently but that was the best sleep I’ve gotten in months.” he said aloud before laughing uncontrollably before coughing.

Ben Wynters got up and prepped himself for the day. In the shower he finally understood the saying: ‘One must imagine Sisyphus happy.’ Ben got into his bucket of a car and headed back to the all-consuming Leviathan. Another day, same preposterous problems but a new and refreshed Ben Wynters ready conquer the day. 

Categories
Uncategorized

Tim and Alex Share A Bed

    Tim and Alex are a new couple. The two have gone on plenty of dates with each other but, both classy individuals, decided to take it slow. Not rush the relationship. Tim is an esteemed art gallery director. He’s made a name for himself by exhibiting many of the cities youngest and brightest. Sometimes, these emerging artists  are controversial and provocative, giving to Tim’s reputation. Tim could also be considered esteemed, bright and vibrant. 

    Alex is not esteemed. Alex has a boring job as a risk and compliance analyst at the local bank. Winter is the time where Alex opens his mouth the most. This serious man likes to breathe out the warm air from his lungs and watch it swirl and fade among the cold air.  If Alex was a town or city it would be the kind that most Americans would want to raise there kids. A place, a town, a county where nothing exciting ever happens. Despite Alex lacking enthusiasm, he was considerate, smart, and a good listener. 

   Tim has a stylish, spacious one-bedroom just four blocks from the gallery. Tim has a wide selection of liquor and liqueurs and mixers for almost any drink you could want. The only other occupant of the apartment was a cat named Nibbles, a cat almost as talkative as his owner.

    Today is a special day. Today was the first time the couple would spend the whole night together.  Tonight they were staying at Tim’s chic industrial studio apartment. Today is a special day. The night started out  strong and only got better. They had a wonderful dinner that Tim had prepared; Schnitzel Cordon Bleu with a side salad. The salad was made of arugula, spinach, avocado, tomato, onion, mozzarella and a sour cream-honey mustard vinaigrette. Like many things in Tim’s life, the side dishes took precedence over the main course. The main course paired with a lightly off-dry riesling was the perfect match.  A perfect meal. 

    After eating, they continued to drink wine. They snuggled up on the couch and binged Orange Is The New Black. The night went off without a hitch. There were no arguments. No bickerings. No life threating phone calls or emergencies. The cat behaved itself. Only a splendid night of sugar and spice. Though, the time (and wine) had taken its toll on the both of them and they headed to bed. 

    Tim was usually more “energetic” when it came to having a date in his bed but tonight was different. Tonight was nice, gentle, and wholesome. Tim ignored his usual urges to defile and debauch.

    Clothes were strewn on the floor despite the usual context. The two both collapsed on the bed, which had before been made, was now made a mess. They curled up next to each other under the single blanket. Tim fell asleep first, but before he did, his last thought as the little spoon was: “Why does he still have his socks on?” Comfortable, warm, cradled, and cared for, he was out. 

    Tim slipped gently into the world of dreams, the realm of clouds and softness. A loud rumble shook then Tim fell, he fell fast. Tim startled awake found Alex snoring like a 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500-KR under demonic possession and a severe cold. Horrifying.

    Some time went by at this point and Tim is still awake, Alex still snoring. Tim, tired of staring at the ceiling, looked to the foot of the bed where Nibbles laid at night. Nibbles should of been asleep at this point but was awake and appeared to be annoyed. Tim had dealt with snoring before, but never like this. The noise that was coming out of Alex’s mouth sound much like a congested bulldog that was shoved in down the throat of an Alaskan-Yukon moose, who had access to a megaphone. After a few hours Tim’s jaw started to hurt from how hard he had been clinching his teeth. 

    It had been four hours now since the night had winded down. Tim had tried everything to wake up Alex and get him to leave, but nothing was working. Tim could not deal with this level of disruption. Tim had tapped Alex’s face more than a few times, a gentle tap. When that didn’t work he slapped the shit out of Alex’s unconscious face, full palm.  

    Tim pushed and shoved but still nothing. Forced to a last resort: Tim punched Alex square in the dick… HARD. What happened was not what Tim had expected, but much the opposite.  Alex had a cheshire grin run wide across his face, from ear to ear. The attack didn’t wake Alex up but in fact pushed him deeper into solace. 

    Tim had reached a boiling point and started kicking Alex harshly. To no avail, the clock hit 4:30 AM. That’s when Tim began to hear for the first time in his life. A voice that Tim had never heard before but that was so familiar. 

“Fucking kill ’em, kill that Gook so we can get the fuck to sleep.” the voice said. 

    Tim stopped kicking Alex to look for where the voice came from. Tim’s head turned like an owl’s corner to corner trying to find that familiar stranger. There was only Tim and Alex and the cat Nibbles.

    Tim looked at Nibbles expecting to see malice given the words uttered. But Nibbles looked the same as he always had, judgemental and full of floof. But again the voice echoed:

“Fucking end it Tim, I want to sleep.” from Nibbles, his mouth still shut but Tim knew it was him, that friendly voice.

    The cat’s tail even bounced around, hitting the bed with innocence as Tim looked on in shock. 

“You have no attachment to that chump, no obligation… silence the chink Tim!” Nibbles continued. 

    Tim was reluctant, after all a cat was talking to him and telling him to murder his new boyfriend. 

“Just fucking think about it Tim, you know you can trust me, you’ve known me a lot longer than this asshole. And look at yourself, you’ve become crepuscular, it’s not good for your health.” Nibbles spoke out. 

    The seconds whittled away at Tim’s hesitance, he thought to himself: He’s right… I am quite ‘crepuscular’… I just wanna sleep… that’s all… is that so much to ask for? It’s the best idea anyone has had all night, minus the racist remarks that is.

    Tim got up and went to the bathroom, he pissed, and decided not to flush. He picked up some towels out of the shelf hanging over the toilet. He set the towels on the top of the toilet then took off his shirt and his underwear, which he left on the bathroom floor. He walked back into the bedroom, naked, towels in hand, staring at Alex with a slight grin. 

    Tim put the towels under Alex, picking Alex up placing the towels under him. 3 in total. Tim left the room for a minute. The cat laid there watching the door, waiting for Tim to return. Nibbles tail would rise up and whip the bed. 

    Tim came back and stood in the doorway of the bedroom, naked as ever, with a knife in hand. He crept silently beside Alex, who was still storing. No hesitation was in the strike, it was quick, as if Tim’s sanity only showed itself in the form of mercy. Blood started gushing from Alex’s neck, his eyes finally open and wide. 

    Tim could think of only one thing while watching Alex gasp for air and choke on blood. ‘Finally, something woke him up. Too bad he’s gonna go back to sleep soon, at least he’ll be quiet this time.’ Alex’s eyes went from alert, panicked to a dull, lifeless grey. The room went silent. 

    Tim returned to his side of the bed. Nibbles got up from the foot and snuggled up to Tim. 

“Thank God, I’m surprised Tim, never thought you had it in ya’. Now we can both get some sleep… and best part: I have breakfast in the morning, everybody wins.” Nibbles said before the room became soundless and still as the happy couple slept. 

Categories
Uncategorized

A Coming Depression

A man walks through the halls of the sparsely populated subway station, on his phone, minding no attention. He is tall, slender, with dark short curly hair and brow-line glasses. The young man likes to keep his stubble at 3 days length as it keeps him from looking like a child while simultaneously appearing destitute. After some walking, he reaches the pillar he always stands at; at one time or another the pillar was white but now sits as a dark, brake dust-coated grey. This man, David Keeting, does what most other people do – stares at his phone.

Phones have come quite a long way from their inception, now a 5’’ by 4’’ device that looks much more like a pocket handbook than their predecessors. Phones can still come with cases, including front covers (which only ingrain the pocketbook look), and still with many of the same accessories such as styluses, wireless earpieces (that act as both earphone and microphone), and wearable tech connectivity. Mr. Keeting’s phone has all these amenities silver phone case that covered the front, this cover however instead of bringing on the appearance of a pocketbook, it could be mistaken as an antique cigarette case from the mid 1900’s. Completely by design, the case housed his stylus, also silver and slim, much like a cigarette case would a cigarette.

Phones, as years progressed, became the multipurpose Swiss Army Knife of everyday life, acting as phone, wallet, and keys. One could have all these things in traditional form. Most people didn’t, but David did. In his left pocket he had his set of keys: one key for his apartment, one key for his motorcycle, and a square key chain ornament that acted as a spare wallet. David was one who would not to be caught with his pants down, both metaphorically and figuratively, as he wore both a belt and suspenders as to keep his pants sternly secured.

            David, unlike most, preferred the use of a stylus versus the quick swipe text features and voice commands. The act of writing had far deteriorated over the years, paper had become largely obsolete but David Keeting would still buy paper and enjoyed writing in pen. The idea of mistakes being semi-permanent was alluring; he enjoyed seeing his blunders instead of them being erased by an autocorrect. Imperfection, to our eccentric engineer, was an old and romantic process, one to be admired and cherished in this smooth, sterile city.

             Standing there, leaning on the charcoal pillar, he jotted down notes for work on the right screen of his phone while looking, with harsh criticism, at Woolf’s UI on the left. He is consumed by his notetaking for the next week’s work. Mr. Keeting works for Critique Inc., a software and publishing house, as a front-end developer for the company’s main gem: Woolf. Woolf modeled after Virginia Woolf, designed to give readers “a stream of conscientious book recommendations for any and all readers,” a slogan he always felt a little cliché, but he had no desire to recommend a change as it was not his department.

Woolf learned and read by having books uploaded to her “brain.” The input team in charge of uploading books to Woolf’s OS was simple. First, they would do the classics, then the top 10 best sellers for each year, then ranked alphabetical order. The ranked alphabetical system gave each author a rating from 1-10, depending on things like how many copies they sold, the level of controversy surrounding them, did the author murder any one? The authors were grouped by number then fed in alphabetically for each number group starting with 1. So, Group 1 A through Z, then Group 2 A through Z and so on.

Woolf at times would take on parts of an author’s personality because of these massive information dumps before equalizing them and setting them as explicit information instead of implicit. When the input team had just finished uploading Group 1 B, Woolf started simulating being drunk and hitting on all the female employees. An employee filed a sexual harassment claim against Woolf during that time, she told George from HR that the AI said, “If you love me, you’ll stick your tongue in my ass.” The claim was dismissed because intellectual property technically isn’t human therefore can’t be held responsible by the Human Resources department.

David paid no attention to the musings of the background the amyloid walls projecting the hour’s news:

“Celebrity model Paris West-Kardashian has allegedly become pregnant with the babies of five men simultaneously, one she claims is positively from former first family member Baron Trump, four of which whose fathers are unidentifiable as she claims ‘I snorted a shit-ton of mephedrone and had way too fucking much GHB, so the fathers could be anyone except Baron [Trump]. Baron is definitely one of them.’ Ms. West Kardashian also commented on the presence of a lemur, a terrapin turtle, and the Periscope-famous sugar glider Harvey Epstein, but declined to comment further on their involvement in her sexual escapades. Now on to Nazi of the Hour with Anetta Victoria.”

The death of journalism, at this point, had occurred quite a long time ago, American news outlets were not much more than click-bait tabloids hellbent on ludicrous and audacious headlines. The trendy celebrity cycle of marriage, divorce, remarriage to former sibling in-laws, or blancest (by law incest), was a ridiculous one better left to drama seekers and dealers of hot goss and escapism.

            David would get “in the zone” and his style of workplace flow would render him deaf to the world around him, but still he would have a pair of headphones on, and sometimes they would play music. His vision, likewise, was relegated to his immediate stare as if he had leather blinders of the typical work horse. David was never “all-in’ though, the sense that he could never turn off was touch. Touch alerted him to the outside world, making him more than the average celestial potato. And with this, his concentration was broken by the gust of air from the oncoming train. He puts up his pen, closes his phone, and puts it in his pocket to wait for the now still train’s doors to open.

            The train ride demands less attention from David. He does not work on the train, as he has learned that the sudden, yet gentle, stops of the train are not as telling as the small tornado from the outside of the train. Flipping the phone over to utilize only the one side, David looked at through his mail. This was a more passive way to pass the time on the subway, it required very little attention. David would delete eighty or ninety messages and replying to one or two that weren’t spam. After going through his mail, he decided to check the news of the day, knowingly ignoring the public displays as they were not David’s kind of news

            A disgruntled man came into the car, waving his phone at people and asking for change.

“Come on guys, times are rough, I got a little girl at home…” said the man. David looked up right as the man looked at him, their eyes locked. With a look of desperation and plea, a quivering:

“…Please…” came from the man’s lips.

David feeling guilt for the man obliged by clicking on the wallet and choosing Donate. David swipes his thumb upwards and off the screen towards the man. He hears a ding and the man’s eyes start to water. David gave the man $50, enough to buy a week’s worth of food. The man lunged forward to attack the surprised Mr. Keeting with a hug, assaulting him with gratitude. The man got off at the next stop, crying profusely with a smile that could break another man’s face.

            The developer felt good and for two minutes and 43 seconds (he counted), then stared off into the corner of the train, piercing through into those space between spaces. Gestating on the deed, yet not feeling as though he had made enough of an impact, despite the man’s tears of joy. He then realized that between helping the man and his internal monologue, he had missed his stop. It was only two blocks difference from the next stop, so he was not upset about it. He waited, making sure not to think too deeply and miss this stop. The shuttle came to a stop and the doors opened. David walked up the stairs and out of the station. He took a left on Blank Street, heading towards his place.

            A cool breeze was rolling through the cityscape. Autumn was leaving and Winter gently rushing in and David at many stopping points would close his eyes for longer than half-seconds and let the wind run her fingers through his hair, brushing his face and enveloping it with the moment. At an intersection, he had to wait, and how he loved it! Able to stand there and not watch where he was going, breathing deeply, taking it in. Then the light turned, and he was ushered to the other side of the street by the herd of people. After walking some time, he arrived at his building, stopped and looked up at it just to make sure. The sign said, The Gracchus. Below the sign was the motto David loved so much: “For those whose ships lost their way.”

            He scurried through the revolving door, waved to the clerk at the front desk, and got to the elevator. Once inside the elevator David did what people has always done and will always do: he pressed his floor’s button repeatedly, treating floor 22’s button like an old-fashioned arcade game. Once the doors opened he dashed out, grabbing his phone from his pocket as he sprinted. He tapped the phone to the lock and burst inside. A loud thudding stream emanated from the guest bathroom next to the front door.

            Leah was still in her pajamas and had learned not to even say hello to David until after he got out of the bathroom. Leah would roll her eyes, “why can’t he just go before he leaves work?” she’d wonder. David would always let out a huge sigh of relief afterwards, wash his hands, dry them, open the door then walk over say “hey” to Leah and kiss the top of her head. She often wouldn’t look back but be consumed, staring at her phone and would reply to him with a delayed and distracted “…hey.”

            It was peculiar was how long Leah’s delay was, the average by David’s count was 2 seconds. Today though, the reply time of Leah Borsa was drawn out to a whole 5.5 seconds.

            “Something interesting catching your attention hun? I hope it’s not those nutty libertarians without their pants again” prodded David as he wrapped himself around her, his arms resting wrapped gently under hers, shoulder to shoulder. David started nuzzling his cheek to hers to see what she saw.

He noticed that it wasn’t a video or an article, but a half filled out form, Leah was typing and had yet to reply but eventually she muttered:

“Yeah, that gaming company, Etherium, says they found a way to lessen the unemployment issue. At the company’s recent press release they announced ‘Ether.’ Pods that combine enhanced sensory deprivation tanks with their new model of VR systems.”

A moment of silence lingered after Leah stopped talking abruptly.

“Oh…” David added, peeking at the form, “…that’s cool. Did they need a new systems admin or something?”

He untangled his arms as he could tell Leah was engrossed in the form and left her be. David thought this would be good for Leah, she was one of the people whose jobs were automated to single people to single titles. Leah lost her position to Janice Miller, the departments kiss ass. Leah went on for days about how she was sure that Janice was fucking the department head Jared Noels. Leah had a higher relative productivity quotient than Janice. The whole turn of events felt fishy to Leah. She had hoped that Janice would die as to enact Provision 542, where a request to fill a position would first be sent to the spouse of the former employee, then secondly to the former position holder. Provision 542 was a way of instilling confidence in the income security of a family household.

 David opened a cabinet to remove a tea kettle, as he liked to boil his water by stove. He set the kettle down, then left to grab a book from his “Not Read” section. In the graphite age, David was the only bibliophile he knew even among his literature centric coworkers. He grabbed every book on sale he could. Today, he sat to read How to Piss Without Getting Pissed On, a very honest title with content still useful some 40 years after publication, giving directional advice for urinal use.

            David hadn’t made it two and a half pages before hearing the old whistle rattling off. David surreptitiously leapt up from chair, as if vaulting over a small, invisible bar, perhaps for mice, at the base of the armchair. He saw Leah’s face squinch. The kettle had been whistling for a while, too long by the time David had lifted it off the electric stove. Leah’s face had become squinty and contorted from the annoying whistle.

            Every dish had its own purpose in and the black porcelain cups were used for hot drinks, the cups would shift to white when hot. David never liked drinking cold tea or coffee. Drinks, in David Keeting’s mind, were meant to warm both the belly and heart so his preferred choices were Irish coffees or a much deserved hotty toddy. David was slowly pouring the water over the tea leaves in a black porcelain cup with a small content smile, tea was the 2nd most relaxing part of his day, after sleeping.

“I GOT IN!” Leah shouted, her arms raised to the ceiling triumphantly.

            David’s head turned sharply to the couch and to Leah, then sharply back to his slow pour. He didn’t want to make a spill over a sudden outburst.

“Oh yeah? They want you to come in?” he said, staring at the cup.

“Yeah they want me to come in tomorrow. I chose 9:30 for the secondary psyche evaluation and initial interview. I can’t believe I passed the CCAT.” She said following a sigh of relief.

Waiting for the tea to finish steeping, David went to the fridge, grabbed a beer and cracked it open for Leah.

“That’s a little quick don’t ya think?” David asked while pouring whiskey into the tea, his voice shaky.

“Not at all, I really need this… you know how rough the last year’s been with the months fighting and losing to that hatchetfaced cunt Janice Miller, and all the fucking months trying to find another fucking job… I… need…this…” Leah’s voice was strained.

Looking at Leah, David’s once content smile turned into a less than neutral grimace. David’s brow furrowed. Still staring at Leah, David grabbed his drink with his left hand and attempted to grab Leah’s beer with his right. David did not grab the beer with his right hand. He instead turned counterclockwise attempting to grab on the way but knocked the glass over instead. The bottle clanking the linoleum floor snapped David out of his funk. “Aw shit.” he said staring at the spilled beer, trying hard not to cry over it.

            David, now a statue, did precisely what statues do and stood there. Leah sprang up and ran to help David clean the glass. She grabbed the dustpan and as she knelt to clean the mess the still, motionless corpse of David reanimated to yell “I GOT IT!” Leah’s eyes, as big as owls now, became fixed staring up at David as he stared down. Their eyes glued to each other, the beer had gotten on the carpet. If a stranger had walked into the apartment at this precise moment, one would have figured the scene was a work of original modern art cataloging a tall building moments before it comes crashing down. They were not people, but objects frozen in time.

            Leah broke the trance. “Shit! The carpet!” she stammered, and took to cleaning up the glass first, as the carpet was already ruined. This was the first stain that apartment had seen in the 3 years that David and Leah lived there. David moved out of the kitchen mechanically and sat back in the arm chair with a firm two-handed grasp on the white tea cup. David sat there like an icon, a beacon for anyone who had just experienced severe trauma. The only thing that could make it more cliché would be if he had a small blanket covering his back as he shook back and forth unironically. It would be a great case study for a class in method acting.

David’s eyes glazed forward, not glancing at anything specific, but instead piercing through the walls of his apartment to the sun setting to the west. The sky was a duality of blue above and red below separated by an orange tinged bridge leading to the sun from both sides. A murder of crows dived from the sky blue through the red horizon to land and pecked at crumbs on an adjacent sidewalk. David realized he had been zoning out thinking of imaginary sunsets and imaginary flocks of birds, he also realized he wasn’t looking west in the first place.

            The day dreamer hadn’t left for long, it had only been a few seconds trapped outside of the real world, figmented time doesn’t ever flow the same way. Leah was opening the trash can with her foot to put the shards of broken glass in it. David, at an irritable state, became peeved that at no point when cleaning the spilt beer had Leah looked at him, she had only focused on the task at hand. Leah had finished cleaning.

“We should talk about this.” David said, not a second later.

 “What is there to talk about? I’m going to the interview tomorrow, no discussion.” Leah said standing tall and stern.

And there was no discussion, like Leah said, only an awkward dinner and rest of the night. The whole night David felt emasculated, as if Leah forced him to walk down their street in a towel and then took away the towel from him.

            David’s eyes were wide and had dark rings under them. The clock read 3:3. Leah was like a rock, but one with a loud snore. The blank white ceiling was a canvas that David painted his anxieties upon. He could only think of the interview: How well it would go. She would get to test the new pod. How she would sit… float rather… soaking in warm salt water filled with small tubes anesthetizing her, keeping her adrift in the void of the tank. How her mind would occupy another world, one no different than the one David can’t escape from now, but one that wasn’t real…it couldn’t be real. How he would be left alone in this world. 

David’s chest tightened. His breath became heavy. It was getting harder: the ins and outs, ups and downs, then nothing. His chest locked up and someone had hidden the key under a nonexistent doormat, or maybe under a nonexistent pot. Who cared it didn’t exist and could never be found in the mind of a perturbed man having a panic attack. He lay there, suffering as he knew he would, practicing for his immediate future.

There was a delirium from the long bouts of not breathing. There was no coherent flow of time. In that hysteria and confusion, Mr. Keeting wondered: “Why are my eyes stinging so badly? And what the fuck is that annoying-ass sound?” The bed also began to shake, an earthquake chose to strike, it would be tragic given David lives on the 22nd floor. David’s eyes stayed half-open and the deprivation was fading. It was morning. His eyes stung because of the sun, the ringing in his ears was his alarm, and the earthquake was Leah kicking the bed to wake him up for work.

Leah had already gotten dressed. She was wearing a tan dress with a darker, brown blazer and a black belt-stiletto combo. She was wearing her push-up power bra and the matching underwear that went with it. What Leah wore didn’t matter, she could have been wearing a skirt made from the skulls of fallen enemies for all anyone cared, the latter outfit would probably be more appropriate given the fierce, determined eyes of a conqueror. The clothes didn’t give her confidence but rather it was her who gave the clothes their conviction. This was Leah’s chance, “No one was gonna fuck it up!” she shouted to herself.

“Hey, I’m catching coffee with that cunt Janice before my interview. They said the interview’s going to be a comprehensive, so it should take most of the day soooooooooo see you probably after you get back.” Leah said before trotting cavalier out of the bedroom.

Leah’s head alone popped back into the bedroom “You should start getting ready for work it’s 8 o’clock.”

David’s head was raised slightly to listen but after Leah left, his head dropped and hit the pillow. David took a minute, his face wrapped by the pillow, then let out an exaggerated sigh and sprung up.

            David snapped to look at the clock, 8:14, he knew he wouldn’t have had enough time for a shower if he wanted to catch the train on time. He ran to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Incidentally he brushed so hard and so fast that his gums bled. Blood mixed with the toothpaste when David spat into the sink. He rushed to the door to grab his bag, which was not packed, a task he usually did each night before going to bed. It took two minutes to gather all the scattered items: the laptop, the pens, the notetab, and the classic style headphones. Lastly, he grabbed the coffee that Leah, even though angry at David, had left on the counter for him.

            David sprinted towards the elevator, he shoulder-checked an elderly woman who fell to the ground and began to cry out for her neighbor. David never looked back. The fastest man alive, in that short hallway burst, now was constantly pushing the down button even though it was lit, bright and yellow. If another tenant hadn’t called the elevator before him it would have taken 7.6 seconds to arrive. Although, if a tenant had called the elevator to their own floor, it could have taken anywhere for 13 seconds to 1 minute 4 seconds.

David, standing with eyes fixed on the LED floor indicator, started counting “one… two… three… seven… eigh…” The archway let out a melodic ding! The doors opened, and he was inside before the doors had finished opening. This was the first time David turned around since locking the apartment door, he stood there once again repeatedly prodding an elevator button, this time the one for the lobby.

            The elevator made it lazily to the lobby, it didn’t care for David, it didn’t care how much he paced back and forth to make it go faster. David rushed out the doors and blitzed through to the street. He looked down to his watch, 8:19. In a split second he realized he had missed the 8:17 train and that there wouldn’t be another one until 8:34, and the train ride took approximately 22 minutes to reach the station. David knew he couldn’t run fast enough to get from the station to work on time. He called a Ubercab which detailed that he would arrive at the location at 8:56, just enough time to get to the 9th floor and clock-in. The panic never settled even as the car pulled up.

            David sat in the backseat fidgeting, breathing as heavy as a marathon runner hitting the wall; he checked his phone every 15 seconds for the time, and hoping to see a message from Leah. He wanted to hear that cunt Janice Miller stole Leah’s job… again! No message ever came. Each time David checked, finding nothing, another knot formed in his stomach. Upon arrival he ran out of the car as fast as legs let him, but there were too many stops on the elevator and David clocked in 3 minutes late. David was written up.

            The outside world continued to trot along the same way horses do when their riders fall from their satchels. David continued checking his phone throughout the day and this affected his work, Woolf noticed.

“David, you seem off today usually you type 80 words a minute, but you seem to only be typing 45 a minute, with constant corrections. What’s wrong?” The voice ethereal, called out.

David clicked the earpiece to talk, “I don’t know… It’s Leah…”

            “Oh, the human spouse.” Woolf interrupted.

“…Yeah, her name is Leah. She hasn’t had a job in so long and now she’s got an interview for a position as research specimen for a long-term VR environment. If it was just any regular job, I’d be fine, but I wouldn’t see her for months, I’m scared V.”

An awkward silence followed, David stopped talking. Despite if an AI had a face then you could see the disappoint on Woolf’s.

“Are you done?” Not waiting for a reply, she continued, “Maybe, you should stop being a small infant child David. Have you considered her feelings in the matter?”

“uhhhhhhhhhhh…” was the only sound that left David’s mouth.

“That didn’t come up in your mind at all did it?” V added, rolling her eyes.

“Yeah, but she has a great life, She had the freedom to do anything she wanted, I make enough to take care of both of us…”

“This isn’t the 50’s David, she’s not some Stepford wife or some pathetic lazy hipster, she’s strong and she craves self-actualization.”

“How would you know that?”

“I’ve read up on her.”

“That’s not what you’re designed for!”

“Creating dresses for an artificial intelligence isn’t what you’re designed for you shit-throwing dirty ape!” David couldn’t argue against that.

David pushed the idea out of his mind, at least for now, he had work to do. He worked half-hearted until his alarm went off, 5 pm time to leave. David got up from the chair and reached for his bag.

“Remember David, don’t be a dick David or you’ll find yourself without a mouth and needing to scream.” V said.

“Yeah, right.” David replied with a dismissive and nonchalant facade as he left, quite scared of the threat.

David as he walked out the door of the office building realized that he had not done his usual walk around the park. In the field of modern programming there is a long-held suspicion against people who don’t go for walks and David did not want to become someone he couldn’t trust. To make up for yesterday he walked home. This would give himself enough time for Leah to get back from the interview and any hopeful heartbroken bar visits that might have ensued from not getting the job. 

As David walked, V’s words invaded his mind. “I am really being such a child for wanting her to stay?” he asked himself. David argued, back and forth, each step he took was a point and counter-point. David was red teaming his own emotions showing the cracks in his irrational, hyperbolic reasoning. David decided to stop being a dick. The mountain was now a molehill, the disaster was over. David not only stopped feeling like shit but started feeling hopeful. In fact, he wanted Leah to get that job. Leah’s happiness didn’t have to be at the cost of his own.

            David relished the breakthrough, maybe AI’s could teach humans something about being humane. The walk became more than just a make up for yesterday, it had become a delightful and enjoyable experience. David developed a spring in his step, he couldn’t wait to tell Leah how much her happiness meant to him and how sorry he was for his unsupportive behavior. He wanted to drown Leah in his love until she stopped kicking. David was as light as a feather skipping the four remaining blocks home, a smile on his face. He was alone in the elevator, so he started to dance. The security guard who was watching on the monitor became slightly aroused.

            David burst through the door as he always does but this time instead of heading to the bathroom, he sang “LEAH! I’M HOME!” His eyes were closed and stayed closed, waiting for a giggle or laughter, or a “hey,” any response would do. There was no answer. He thought that maybe if he opened his eyes he would see her there smiling, beautiful as ever in her pajamas. He opened those eyes but saw no gorgeous pajama woman only a note on the arm of the couch with his name written on it, David. He gleefully rushed to pick up the letter.

That eagerness, that smile, all faded, leaving only the thud of his heartbeat.

I got the job and I know things were left shaky, but you never came home, this is not an end I hope. I’m still yours. I read somewhere:

“…your tenderness and friendship were so precious to me that I can still feel warm and happy and harshly grateful when I look at you inside me. I do hope this tenderness and friendship will never, never desert me.”

I thought it was beautiful. I hope you’ll never desert me love, I’ll truly look at you inside me while I’m there. I hope you can understand. I’ll be back before you know it.

Yours,

            Leah.

David was left confused by the note. Leah had referenced a famous break up letter to tell David she got the job. The screaming and kicking and breaking things turned to uncontrollable sobbing. The screams and shouts became wails and gasps for air. David never got to tell Leah how he felt, how he wanted her to go, he needed her to know and now that opportunity was gone. Any closure David wanted had been ripped from him. The act of walking had just ruined his life. It felt like he ate a blender and it stopped midway to his stomach before turning on, shredding his heart. David went to the cabinet, skipped the tea, and went straight for the whisky. It was only half a bottle and it was Friday, he had no obligations the next morning. The bottle was gone by the end of the hour, David drunk blasting blues from his vintage record player screaming about how he was “all torn up.” The night ended with him snoring loudly on the floor of his living room.

David woke up the next morning hung over, wondering why he didn’t have a tolerance to this kind of thing. He drank every day, maybe not enough. He grabbed a beer from the fridge. Only Leah drank beer, but she wasn’t there, and David needed it more. The weekend followed the same story as Friday night: drinking, crying, screaming. The anger returned, and he would shout “YOU FUCKIN’ WHORE!” and pound his fist on the soft carpet. The carpet was the only semblance of comfort that could cope with David. It could wipe his tears and be the brunt of weak punches. It was a good carpet.

The days only got worse from there on out. David hated that Leah was in a virtual reality dream-world. To compete with her, he augmented his reality with cheap whiskey. He drank to function, without Leah in his life, the most remedial tasks were difficult while sober. He wanted old life so bad, just last week he had everything he wanted how he wanted it. Life was now anguish. The only peace he had was the dark world David would drift into when he closed his eyes.  

Work was no help. Wolf had stopped giving advice or bothering to cheer him up. She grew cold and shrewd to all her coworkers, not just David but David did feel a personal animosity from V. The AI had become so inhospitable because the input team had just finished part of Group 2 R. The input group finished on Ayn Rand. Suddenly, all the lower level employees were poor people holding down the potential of the company, except Randy the Intern. Randy was a fine, young man full of potential who was sure to climb both the corporate and social ladders.

V did not like what David had become, she found him to be pathetic. A parasite on the world. He wasn’t poor yet but in her heart, she knew he would waste all his money on cheap liquor instead of more worthwhile things like caviar and Cuban cigars. She could barely tolerate the sloppy coding and the pauses where he would close his eyes for 5 – 10 minutes at a time but then she had enough when he came to work not hungover but drunk. David could not bring down the company with his lack of conviction. V sent a message to the team manager and he was fired after punching his boss in the face for alleging he was drunk. David threw up while being escorted off the premises.

David had now lost both his love and his job. Thankfully he hadn’t lost his apartment or the dark expanse that laid behind his eye lids. On the plus side, he still had a near full bottle of Old Crow whiskey in his bag, it was enough to get him through night. David went back to his apartment and laid on the floor again. He sat there, eyes closed, headphones on, but nothing playing. The only time he opened his eyes were to make sure the end of the bottle made it to his lips, when that became too hard and he stopped trying. He threw the bottle against the kitchen wall. Whiskey trickled down the wall joining the shattered glass on the linoleum floor.

            All David want was to dissolve into the dark bottle in hand. Intoxication and shut eyes, his new aspirations in life, the thirst for both grew every second. David was always the ambitious one but since he broke his last bottle, he needed to keep his eyes open long enough to get another one. “Finally,” he thought “a proper hero’s journey!”

            He reached the elevator without any stubs or stumbles, he impressed himself. The elevator’s descent stopped on the 7th floor, a woman got on board. David’s blank expression morphed into a pernicious scowl “She looks like a grade A stuck up bitch.” He said to himself.

“Your shoe’s untied.” The woman said.

“Excuse me?!” David almost yelled.

“Your shoe is untied.” She repeated.

“Don’t worry about it and mind your own damn business…”

“If you say so.”

“Bitch.” David muttered.

The air was humid and uncomfortable for the next four floors down. The woman ran out of the elevator as fast as one can while clenching their purse. The tenant was out of the lobby before David had left the elevator. “Huh…must be a fun-runner. Definitely no princess.” He thought. David had trouble walking straight after leaving the elevator, which he blamed on the woman and her rude attitude.

            David staggered along the left side of the side walk, closest to the road. On his way to the store David managed to bump into the only other man out at 4 A.M. on a cool Tuesday night.

“Hey man, watch where you’re going. You should be more careful.” The stranger said.

“Shut up Fuckwad!” David snarked.

“Fuck you dude!”

            David spat on the ground, something he wanted to do to the roguish stranger, but the man was too fast and was out of sight. David had been victorious in this skirmish. He made it to the store, but he was stopped by a homeless man loitering out front.

            “Hey Buddy! Got any tah spare?” the vagrant said.

            David scoffed and reached into his pocket, the vagrant’s eyes lit up – hard money! he thought. Hard money was rare and delightful as the two-dollar bill back when paper money was the main medium of exchange.  David took out a clenched fist from his pocket and reached to the beggars cupped hands, David again a saint. The man’s eyes dropped and stared hopelessly at the content of his hands: pocket lint.

            “What the fuck is this?!” the man shouted as he stood up aggressively.

            “Go sell it, you lazy fuck.” David replied.

            “I should bust your fucking skull in, you sick sack o’ shit!”

            “One hand and you’ll be arrested; the cameras will catch it. Maybe then you won’t smell like shit in a blender, maybe you should hit me.”

            The homeless man clenched his fist and bit his lip so hard that it started bleeding. “Fucking piece o’ shit.” He muttered as he waddled away. David finally opened the door and walked in the store. It was so bright and clean, it smelled fresh, rewarding.

David had overcome every ordeal and now his prize: a bottle of Damsel brand whiskey. It was the good stuff better than any cheap alternative, he deserved it after all. “If only a dragon had showed up, I would have conquered that too!” he mused. He grabbed the bottle and pressed his phone to the cashier sensor and left for home.

            The return journey would be smooth sailing he thought, it always is. He screwed the top off the bottle and drank it like it was water in the desert. He made his way to an intersection, and despite the neon “DO NOT WALK” sign, he crossed. He was invincible, invigorated by his triumphs, charged by his journey. David made it halfway across the intersection when he tripped on his shoe lace, the car didn’t have anytime to react, let alone stop. David had broken yet another bottle. David Keeting was rushed to a hospital but died from complications after being in a coma for 3 days, full of tubes and covered in electrodes, his skull caved in on the left side. 

Categories
Uncategorized

A Case of Joy in Isolation

   The silhouette of a woman walks out of an apartment door, a suitcase is with her but it could be mistaken for a bag. A man stares at his computer hyper-focused, a few seconds pass me lets out a: “Have a good day!” he doesn’t look away from the screen. The light from the room fades and the light from the laptop screen becomes brighter and brighter against his face. An alarm goes off, 7:00 PM, “GO TO WORK.” The man shut his laptop, grab his keys, feeds his dog and leaves.
 
   Dog food clumsily falling into a bowl before he goes to his room and falls on his bed. He wakes up, he feeds the dog again, boils water, checks note on fridge saying “had to go into work early,” takes the dog out, makes coffee, grabs a book and reads it until he hears the alarm again 7:00 PM. He looks to his roommate’s door but there’s only a dark low vacuous hum, no movement.
 
   He goes to work, he gets home, he feeds the dog, and looks through the fridge. He finds an old sandwich there’s no mold around the edge he cuts it off eats the rest falls asleep on the couch. The dog is with him when he wakes up. He takes the dog out, does the dishes, cooks eggs, toast pops out of the toaster. He plays video games for the rest of the day. The alarm goes off, he goes to work.
 
   He gets back home, feeds the dog talks to it: “You know Bubbz, I’m getting real tired of being alone. You’re the only one ever home. It’s really starting to get to me.” The dog looks up licking its lips. Eric calls his girlfriend Mary but gets no answer.
Afterwards, he tries his roommate Shane, also absent, also doesn’t pick up. Eric looks back to the dog: “I’m gonna call mom tomorrow, she’ll know what to do.” He goes to sleep.  He’s woken up by the sound of a door slamming, he runs to check it but nothing’s changed, the apartment is still. He checks his roommate’s door and jiggles the nob – its locked. “Must have been one of the neighbors.” He says to the dog.
 
  He calls his mother while playing with the dog.
 
“Hey Mom”
 
“Eric! Honey, it’s so good to hear from you. How is everything?”
 
“Not too good mom, I haven’t seen either Mary or Shane in the last few days. Not sure if
it’s just our hours are lining up or what.”
 
“Oh honey, you know, I never like that Mary, always so dramatic. And that Shane, oof, such a bad influence.”
 
“Oh don’t start mom, don’t talk about them like that.”
“Alright, alright. Im just being realistic Poo-Bear. I thought you didn’t like her that much in the first place…”
 
“That’s not the point mom, she’s an alright girl.”
 
“Do you even love the girl Eric?”
 
“Yeah, I guess… yeah… yeah I do! You know what? I’m sure Mary is just busy with her new promotion and I’m over exacerbating the whole thing”
 
“Bullshit. I don’t like the sound of that Hun. I don’t like these new hours either you never visit. you should get out more too while you’re at it.”
 
“Thanks mom, as reassuring as always.”
 
“Come visit me soon honey. I get lonely here, ok?”
 
“OK mom, I love you.”
 
“Love you too hun, bye.”
 
“Bye.”
 
   Eric put down the phone, his arms fall to the couch cushion.  He let out a long and obnoxious grown. He tilts his head to stare at Shane’s door and it makes the same noise as before. Eric sighs and goes for the door knob again, still locked. He knocks on the door “Hey Shane you in there man?!” No answer, just silence. Eric sits straight on the couch and stares forward until the alarm goes off again he goes to work.
 
   Eric gets home he feeds the dog. He eats. They both stare at the door until Eric wants to sleep. Eric wakes up to the silhouette of a person under the bed sheets. It was the dog and a few pillows conjoined, masquerading as a woman in his bed. Eric was surprised initially but that soon faded.
 
   They leave the bedroom “Alright I’m gonna do it…” Eric says, the dog boofs in agreement. Eric picks the lock and opens the door. The room is bare, there are no clothes or sheets just a discarded bed and desk. On top of the desk is a bright white envelope that says “Eric.”  He opens it to find the letter reads:
 
        Eric,
 
        Me and Mary left for Paris, we aren’t coming back.
        Sorry.
 
        Have a good life.
 
                – Shane.
 
   Bubbz looks up to Eric with concerned eyes and whimpers.  Eric drops the note back on the desk. He glides to couch and sits motionless, checking out for the time he has left in his day. Bubbz grabs a toy and sits on Eric’s lap, chewing on it. The alarm goes off. he fills the dogs bowl with food, he goes to work.
 
   Eric and Bubbz are sitting at a café. The sun is shining, it’s a cool autumn afternoon. Bubbz whimpers and Eric comforts him by petting his head. A woman is walking by Eric pulls down his sunglasses to get a better look at her. She turns around and ends up at a nearby table. Their eyes meet and she smiles at him. The dog looks up at him inquisitively and huffs. Eric looks back to Bubbz and says “Everything’s gonna be alright Bubberz.” He pats some give him part of his biscotti and continues to read his book.
 
   “Some people need the excitement of life to be spontaneous and full of passion, these are people who can afford to dream. To dream of city lights and ancient chardonnay. Their lives are a series of cinematic, choreographed moments. Trips to foreign lands full of exotic foods and good coffee. These kind need it all, constant stimuli, a never-ending waterfall of treasures and dopamine, stolen from the world and kept in a museum of their mind. Most don’t have that luxury; most people have neither the time nor the money to make these shows play out. Their dreams are of making every payment on time and food three times a day. These people, most of them, do and will just simply exist. Once someone can come to terms with that, they can start to live… and live happily.”

Bubberz didn’t understand what his master said but he loved him anyways.

Categories
Uncategorized

My Pieces and You

I’m a new-ish writer. I always was a reader but never had any creative interests until I wanted to make a fake news show and I started writing and found out it to be fun, renewing, and challenging. My new skits eventually shifted into more serious ideas. I found myself making bare-bone outlines for stories I would love to write as it’d be something I would enjoy reading.

My first attempt at a story was a novella. I didn’t make it past 30 pages and lost interest with it for a new idea. I wrote about 15 pages of this second idea and my attention was caught yet again by another idea. This has been, for the most part, the norm of my writing. Shiny new idea after shiny new idea with occasional poetry.

I think at this time I have 9 unfinished stories, including that first one. With this website, I have 3 stories I believe are ready enough to be thrown out in the open. I have only been writing for 2 years and know that all my stories are rough and likely inadequate if you look at them as a professional. This website is an excuse to get me to write consistently.

Since I am no editor and an amateur, all of the works on here are subject to revision; structurally, grammatically, and thematically. I can’t promise weekly updates, like a lot of people I have a life. A life where I try to find more time to fit writing into it so trying to fit posting on a site no one knows about is not a priority.

Within my pieces there are some key themes that I don’t think will ever leave me or my mind. That being humor, the human condition, and the absurdity of life. William Faulkner said “The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.” I try to emulate this to a degree, the world is weird and when shit gets weird, there is massive internal conflict usually followed by a snap. Typically, uphill battles, wars of attrition, and fights that can never be won are those internal conflicts I see and they rarely benefit the psyche.

Most importantly, if you read a piece of mine and like it or hate it please tell me why. I want my stories to be better. One of the only finished pieces I have ready had so much cut from it that it could only be called child abuse. I’m no genius and I would love to hear your thoughts about what you think I am or am not doing right.