#FlashFridayFic #39 : The Door

Unicornio, by Salvador Nunez, shared as part of the Peru Arte Valor effort.The door sat across the clearing, just beyond the tree, right on the edge of the cliff. The face where the handle should have been laughed at me. “Coward!”

I’d brought my shovel to dig my way around the door. To its left and right. I’d looked for ground to dig through, but there was none. I could walk right up beside the door, to its left or right. The ground ended beside the door. There was nothing beyond the door. There was nowhere to dig too.

Beyond the door, there was nothing. No pathway. No land. No trees. No fields. No city in the clouds. Nothing. Just blue sky, clouds, and in the distance, mountains. Nothing.

The door face laughed at me. “You can’t figure me out, can you?”

“I’ve looked beyond you, you know. There’s nothing.”

“You mean, nothing you can see from this side of me.”

I got up, grabbed my shovel, walked up to the door and stepped to its left. “Watch this, you idiot!” I held the shovel by the handle, and reached to the right side of the door, grabbing the shovels blade. “See! There’s nothing there!”

“You mean, nothing you can see from this side of me.”

The door goaded me. “How is your cold, frozen, uncaring, bitter, lonely heart, human?” I glared at the door. “Do you long for more? Is there more to life? Has there got to be more to life than just your job? You dull, dreary, day-to-day life that never changes. Where there is no color?”

Then the door said the one thing I could not stand. “You’re afraid to open me, aren’t you, coward!”

I’d heard enough. I grabbed the face by its nose, and turned it upside down. I opened that door, and walked through.

And all my dreams were waiting there for me.

309 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Rebekah Postupak‘s #FlashFriday, Week 39. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #Flash Friday. They are good reading.

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#MWBB 28 : Tu Vuo’ Fa l’Americano

Carlo walked into the club, wearing his best American attire. Three piece, gray, pinstripe suit, white shirt, black leather shoes, black socks, black leather belt, black silk tie, white gold cufflinks, and a white gold watch with a matching band.

His attire stood out like that of a black American Cadillac SUV in an ocean of Italian micro cars and scooter. Our world was tie dyed, his was black and white.

Concetta took one look at him, smiled at me as she shook her head, placed her elbows on the bar, and said, “You were right. He needs my help.” She studied Carlo for a time. “Poor boy.” She ran her fingers through her long, fiery red hair, making sure to drape some over her shoulder. “He has forgotten what it means to be Italian!”

I laughed. “And you are the pulcino caldo to remind him, eh?”

She swayed her hips, pressed her fingers to her lips, then pressed them to a hip as she said, “Shhhhhhh,” then showed me the most playful grin, “Naturalmente!” And off she went.

I watched her sashay over to Carlo’s table, wondering how long it would take for Concetta to restore his Italian soul to life. Five minutes? Ten? How long could Carlo resist her color, her flair, her sultry, smoky ways.

I watched, and listened.

Concetta made sure Carlo saw her hips sway as she walked to his table. Her skin-tight, too short, bright yellow skirt stayed glued to her hips, making every movement more noticeable. She propped her elbows on his table, leaning her shoulders forward, so her matching yellow vest opened a touch, providing Carlo with a view of acres of her chest.

Carlo almost crushed his glass. He quickly placed his drink back on the table, and tried not to stare at her. Especially at her chest, as it hung, just above the table. “Concetta. How are you tonight?”

“I’m thirsty, amico.” She gently grabbed his hand, letting her fingers drag across its back, before they interlaced with his. “Care to buy me a drink?”

“What would you like?”

“Something… Italian…” She rested an elbow on the table, and her chin on her hand, revealing even more of her skin. “Something… With soul…”

Carlo tried to walk calmly to the bar. He failed. He leaned over the bar, and hissed at me, “Angelo! Help! She wants something Italian! With soul!”

I nodded, and fixed two Sgroppinos, one for each of them. “These,” I whispered knowingly, “Are one of her favorites.”

And off he went, like a little boy, about to lose his virginity. It would not take long at all for Concetta to awaken Carlo’s Italian soul.

They had their drinks, then Concetta took his hand once more, “Dance with me, amico!” And she danced him out to the floor, where she opened his suit coat, loosened his tie, and handed him his cufflinks in the first three minutes. He melted into her on the floor, running his fingers through her hair. Crushing her chest to his. His hips locked into the same swaying motion as hers.

She spent the evening melting his American image into a puddle at her feet. Leaving his Italian heart and soul revealed for all to see.

543 Words
@LurchMunster


My entry, in all its unedited glory, for week 28 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

Pulse

I know what it means.
I know the symptoms.
I can feel them.

The tension running across my chest.
The tenseness in the muscles.
As if I were trying
To hold up
A very heavy weight.
And slowly failing.
Soon to be crushed.

The pounding in my ears.
I know what that is.
My pulse.
Racing through my veins.
They tell me it’s not good
For someone my age
When my pulse does this.
Tops 3 digits.
100 beats per minute.
Or more.

The way my hands shake.
Endlessly.
I know the only way to stop them.
Press them down.
Hard.
Against a table top.
Or desktop.
Or wall.

And my knees never stop.
Ever.
They bounce.
My heels tapping out
Machine gun fire
On the floor.

When I try to think.
Try to talk.
Even to myself.
And all I get
Is scattered syllables.
Lots of no.
And I can’t.
Lots of endless,
Mindless
Repetition.

And nothing in my head
Makes any sense.
Other than one word.

Run.

Run like hell.

Don’t look back.

Don’t stop.

Run.

I know what this is.
I know what it all means.
I’ve been here.
Countless times.

Panic.

I tell myself to breathe.
I close my eyes.
I focus
What little of me’s left.
On the simple,
Single
Act.

Breathe.

Breathe in and know this truth.
I am breathing in.
Breathe out and know this truth.
I am breathing out.

Breathe in once again.
And then breathe out once more.

Breathe in the fear
That consumes me.
Overwhelms my mind.
Breath out the truth.
Fear is just a feeling.
Nothing more.

I focus on just breathing.
Looking into fear.
Knowing what will happen
If I let the terror
I am feeling
Consume me.

I breath in.
And out.
And remember.
Whatever happens on this day.
While I am at work.

It won’t be the end of life.
I won’t die.
I’ll be alive.
To take another breath tomorrow.
To feel the warmth of the sun.
To feel the breeze as it flows past
The fingers of my hands.

It’s just fear.
It’s just a feeling.
Nothing more.

Wide Awake

IMG_6307I walked through a special rose garden I know of today.

As I did, I remembered. I remembered three years ago, when this journey I am on started. I remembered all the people who are gone. All the people who have given up on me, for there is no other way to say it.

Given up on me, concluding I’m broken, and can never be well, and can never be who I once was, and can never be normal again.

To which I say thank God. For I know what really happened three years ago. I know the truth of what I did, the actions I took, and the path I started down in those days. I know the loss I endured, the agony of watching everyone I knew, everyone I called friend, outside my family, turn and walk away.

I say thank God, for what happened. Because what happened is I woke up. It’s that simple. I woke up. I came back to life, doing everything I had to do, taking every action I had to take, enduring the agony of change, to change the direction of my life.

I watched myself die. I watched myself be reborn.

Three years ago, I was normal. I had a career. A reasonably well-paying job. The respect of everyone that knew me, and my technical abilities in the job I held. I worked in a safe, secure, unchanging environment. Where every day was predictable. Where every day was the same. Where I followed the rules laid out by others. Management. Corporate boards. The directors of the US Navy. The protectors of national security.

I behaved.

And I lived in a world without color. A world where everyone was the same. Everyone believed the same things. Made the same decisions. Had the same definitions of success. Of normal. Of appropriate and inappropriate. A world where differences equated to which model of what brand of car you drove. How big your house was. Where you shopped for groceries. Where your children went to college. What church you attended on Sundays. How much of a pay raise you got every year. The color of your skin. How well you dressed. If you were male, or female. If you were US Navy, Civil Service, or Contractor. Where you ranked in the chain of command.

A world of order.

A cold, dead, heartless world, where how I felt, what I believed, what I wanted, what I dreamed, what I hoped, didn’t matter. Where all that mattered was staying in my place, and behaving appropriately.

A world where nothing ever changed. Where, after 13 years, I was still no body. Expendable. Contractor slime. Untrustable. A world where my opinion was sought, then ignored. Because it was “appropriate” to ask for it, in an effort to make me believe I was part of the team. Part of the organization.

A world where everything was check boxes, and lists. Where you read the list, and examined the check boxes, and said, “We’re diverse. So say the statistics.” A world where the rules said, “No discrimination,” and hence, there was no discrimination in the workplace.

Unless you listened to the whispers in the halls. The gossip between office cubes. The stories shared at lunch, and during the mandatory celebrations of birthdays, contract awards, and other noteworthy occasions.

“I’ll never set foot in that bathroom again. It’s been in there.”

“Stay away from me. You’re trouble. And I’m not going down with you.”

“That prima-donna will get what he deserves someday.”

“Who pissed on his feet this morning?”

“He’s out to celebrate some stupid religious holiday.”

“Did you know he voted for the Democratic Party?”

“Her daughter came out. Yeah. Declared she’s gay.”

“He’s a little odd, isn’t he.”

“There’s something not quite right about her.”

Always, it was the same. You are just like us, or your are not. Because we are not diverse, even though the statistics say we are.

It was when someone confided in me, letting me know she had breast cancer. We spoke of her terror of what was to come, and what she and her family would have to endure in the months ahead, when I’d had enough.

I stopped playing by the rules. I could not place the job, the workplace, the career, or anything associated with it, ahead of the well-being of a friend. I took down the façade I’d hidden behind for decades, and declared I cared what happened to my friend. I let myself feel. I cried. I had nights I couldn’t sleep. I wrote every day. For her. As I’d promised I would. And my work suffered.

And I didn’t care at all. I met every deadline. I answered every technical question. I provided help every time someone asked for help. But, I’d stopped playing. I stopped writing that weekly report that said the same thing, week after week after week. I stopped going to birthday celebrations. I stopped attending meetings I didn’t have to attend. I stopped going to lunch when someone left for another job, or to welcome someone to the job.

I stopped blending in.

Of course, this terrified people. It scared them. It made them uncomfortable. And inevitably, they got rid of me. Isn’t that how things are in this world? If someone makes you uncomfortable, scares you, is someone you don’t agree with, don’t understand, don’t approve of, comes along, you block them out, and send them away? Right?

That’s what happened. And in the three years since I woke up, none of the people I worked with has spoken to me. One day, they declared I could not talk to them any more. And I have not heard from them since.

But, in that same three years, I’ve been on an amazing journey. Taking one step at a time. Sometimes, stopping, and sitting on the ground, to catch my breath, to let myself breathe, to let myself come to grips with everything that’s happening in my life.

Of course, I couldn’t be allowed to return. For countless reasons. Would you let someone you cared about return to the place they were injured? Especially if their injuries were non-physical, and resulted in them being sent out on medical leave for 13 weeks? Would you let someone who declared you, and the people you worked with, were all the same, return to work? Would you let someone who declared you and the people you worked with, cared more about the work than they did for each other, return to work?

And why would I want to return to that place anyway? Why would I return to the land of gray. Where every day was the same, and nothing ever changed, and everyone feigned happiness, because to admit you weren’t happy meant you were miserable. Why would I return to a land where I had no hope. Where I was expendable. Where what I wanted, what I felt, what I believed, and what I knew, didn’t matter.

Now, three years later, I find I sometimes wonder about the people trapped within that world. Sometimes, as I walk through the roses of a garden I know of, my heart aches, and my soul sheds tears of sorrow, for the people I once knew.

For I know not one of them has ever walked through that rose garden. Not one of them has ever sat on the ground, and watched the butterflies as they flit from one flower to the next, flying haphazard patterns through the air. Not one of them has sought the colors of the Camellias in full bloom in the dead of winter.

I’ve seen them walk along the sand, on the beach that runs right past the building they work in. They walk there when its appropriate. During lunch. In the spring, or fall. When it’s not too hot. And not too cold. And they only spend a little time on their walks, because they are on their lunch breaks after all. And they can’t be late getting back to work.

And I wonder if even a single one of them has sat on the sand of that beach, and watched the sand crabs peaking out of their holes, and skittering across the sand. I wonder if they’ve watched the dolphins swimming past. The way they form such perfect arches, nose to tail, as they move along, just beneath the surface of the waves. If they’ve ever watch the osprey, diving from the sky into the ocean, rising once again, carrying aloft their prey.

Of if they only see postcards. Glimpses of a world they don’t have time to explore.

And as I walk among the roses, in that garden I know of, three years after I woke up, I find myself fighting off real tears as my heart breaks, knowing not one of them knows the truths of life I have learned in the past three years. Knowing it will be a miracle if even one of them wakes up.

I cry for the lost.

And then I breathe, feeling my lungs fill with air, feeling the sun shine down on me, feeling the breeze flow through my fingers, across the palms and backs of my hands. And I know I can never go back.

I woke up.

There is no place for me in the land of those who sleep.

Play It Loud (VIII)

I play my music loud tonight.
I play my music long.
I play my music in the dark.
Sitting all alone.

Sometimes
I must be free.
Sometimes
I must escape.
If only for a little while.
If only for a moment.
If only for a few heartbeats
In the life I’ve been blessed with.

Sometimes
I play my music loud
So I can’t hear anything.
Only my music exists.

Sometimes
I play my music in the dark
So I can’t see
The world in which I live.

Sometimes
I play my music loud
To escape
From this world
I never made.

Sometimes
I wish there was a way
I could show you what I see
In this life
Every day.

Sometimes
I wish there was a way
For you to feel the things
I feel
Each day.

Sometimes
I wish you could know
The pain,
The hurt,
Of facing yet another day
In the grip
Of the depression
That runs my life.

It never goes away.
It’s always there.
I see it in the mirror.
Looking out a me
From my own eyes.

It touches everything.
Like a poison vine run wild.
Choking everything it touches.
Slowly.
Inexorably.
Relentlessly.
Every day.

I try to tell myself
It’s OK.
It’s like the story of Paul.
In the Bible.
Where he says God won’t take away
That thing that curses him.
That thorn in his side.

I wish you could understand.
There is no magic pill
I can take.
There is no medicine
That can take my depression away.
No surgery to perform.

All I can do
Is live with it.
Every day.
And manage it.
With the help of my doctors.
My weekly therapy.
And the medicine
I have to take.

To manage the darkness
That threatens to consume me
With every breath I take.

I play my music loud tonight.
As I sit
In the dark.
Alone.

For I know.
I just need some time.
To escape.
To be free.

From a world I never made.

Before I try once more.
To walk
In the land of gray.

#MWBB 27 : Stack O Lee

Now, they done told me, “White people don’t congregate with them. They’s the wrong damn color.” But I knew they was wrong. They was people. Just like us. Just had different colored skin, that’s all. And I’ll stand by ‘em. What they done was right. And they had the guts to do what was right when all you white people pretended everythin’ was alright.

I tried to stop Billy. I did. Stupid son-of-a-bitch never listened to no one anyway. I told him, “You don’t treat people that way, Billy! You don’t!” Billy never listened. He got with his boys, and they went out on Friday nights, and found some kid to beat up. Always a black kid too. He used to say he was preserving the future of the country, keeping them in their place, subservient to white people, like they was meant to be.

Hell, he’d pick fights with ‘em just to get ‘em arrested, so he could take ‘em to court, and get everything they ever made, or owned. Courts work like that, you know. Hang the one that ain’t white, ‘cause hell, we know the white one’s innocent, and a victim.

Billy got a lot of people’s lives fucked up, that’s what he did. And I told him not to. I warned him.

But then, he married my sister. My little sister. Katie. Momma and Daddy loved her. And I wouldn’t let no one hurt her. Ever. Billy knew that. “Damn, boy, you sure protect your sister, don’t ya.” He used to say that all the time.

I watched my sis walk down the aisle of the church in her weddin’ dress. Momma and the church ladies worked for a month on that thing. Katie looked beautiful. Better than any bunch of roses ever can. I listened as Billy and Katie said their vows. All that “to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part.”

We buried Katie last week. She was only twenty-three. Everybody turned a blind eye. Talked about how sad is was that Katie died when she was so young. Billy didn’t even cry. Just stood there. “Real men don’t cry, you know.” That’s all he said. Everybody pretended like this was just some horrible accident. That God took Katie away. “It was her time.”

But me and the people Billy destroyed. We knew. We knew what happened. We knew Katie didn’t die by accident. God never came and took my sister away.

That mother fucker Billy beat her to death. He beat her every night. I used to see the bruises on her face. She’d lie to me. “I tripped and fell,” and “I bumped my head on the cabinet.” She’d tell me it was OK. But I’d sit with my sister on her and Billy’s front porch on Sunday afternoons, and we wouldn’t say a word. We’d just sit. And she knew I knew. Billy was beating on her.

So, hell yeah. I went and I got my Daddy’s rifle. And I got plenty of help from them people y’all keep saying are the wrong color. They knew what Billy was. What he did. They knew he’d beat Katie to death. And they knew it was the last straw.

Yeah, I got Daddy’s rifle. And we went and got Billy. And drug him out in the woods. And beat the hell of him. And when we all beat on him for a while, then I did to Billy what he done to my sis.

I shot him with that rifle. And if I hadn’t run out of bullets, I’d still be shooting him.

It’s what that bastard deserved. May he rot in hell.

617 Words
@LurchMunster


My entry, in all its unedited glory, for week 27 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

#55WordChallenge : The Fence – Part 18

As we raced along, I heard an eagle’s scream pierce the sky. Cynthia stopped, and looked up, her eyes pleading, her voice reduced to a whisper, “No.” She shook her head, “No,” as a teddy bear fell from the sky. She picked it up and began to cry, “No,” as the eagle screamed once more.

55 words
@LurchMunster


This is part 18 of the serial story I’m working on for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s #55WordChallenge flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in the challenge this week. It’s flat amazing what gifted writers can say in just 55 words.