Where Does It End?

If it starts with, “He’s a fag. Shoot him.”
Where does it end?
What happens next?
“She’s a whore. Shoot her.”
And then what?
“He divorced her. Shoot him.”
Seriously?
Where does it end?
“She slept with a man, and they weren’t married! Stone her!”
Does it ever end?
“He reads Playboy, looks at pictures of naked women! Pervert! Gouge out his eyes!”
Or when one domino falls,
Does it knock over the next?
“He’s got HIV. Kill him, for the safety of us all!”
And then the next…
“She’s bipolar! That’s not normal!”
And the next…
“He’s mentally deficient, and dependent on his parents!”
And the next…
“She’s got red hair!”
And the next…
“His eyes are blue!”
And the next…
“Her skin’s the wrong color!”
And the next…
“He likes flowers, and wears pink!”
Where does it end?
“She wears blue jeans!”
Or does hatred,
And fear,
Of what is different,
What is not us,
Keep going.
“He’s left handed!”
And going.
“She’s cross eyed!”
And going.
“He’s fat!”
Without end.

Until there’s no one left.

No one left at all.

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Will Any Of Them Ever Wake Up?

I sat in a chair at the table in the corner of the room, and watched everyone else. Every now and then, I watched my hands. Sometimes, they shook, telling me, “Breathe, stupid. Just breathe.” I had a way of sometimes forgetting to breath properly. Started taking little, short, shallow breaths. One of the first steps along the path to a panic attack. At least I’d finally learned to recognize what was going on, and for the most part, I’d learned to respond appropriately. I seldom had an attack. Maybe one or two a year. Much better than the one or two a week I had at my worst.

After a few deep breaths, I found myself again, and smiled. Seems I was always right there. Just a breath or two away.

Once more, I watched everyone else.

It was sad, really. To watch them. Oh, I didn’t cry about it. There was a time I did. But that’s behind me now. I’ve faced the truth I found. I’ve accepted it. I know there’s nothing I can do about it. Except watch. At one time, I would have tried to intervene. And I would have been psychologically assaulted for having tried. I had been. What does it mean when you can’t count the number of times something’s happened? Hope springs eternal my ass. Hope keeps you beating your head against a concrete lined, cinder block wall in the mistaken belief you can eventually punch through it, as you slowly pound your noggin into a bloody pulp.

I’d learned. I could stop the oceans tides before I could stop them. So, I went into my observation mode. Like a scientist. Observing the behavior of others, and cold bloodedly recording it for future generations. I watched.

The group ten feet away. Mary, Helen, Wendy, Doug, Fred, Scott and Ted. Always friends. Always socializing as a group. Always telling stories about their kids, their work, their church. And always, at these holiday parties, acting like sponges trying to sop up all the alcoholic beverages they could get their hands on. I knew. If you asked them why, they’d all say the same thing. “Because we’re just blowing off steam, and having some fun!”

It was a lie. Every one of them knew it. They weren’t blowing off steam. They weren’t having fun. They were escaping. Running as fast, and as hard as they could to escape the traps their lives had turned into. Anyone could figure that out.

If you asked any of them how they felt at work, they’d tell you the same thing. “Fine.”

“How are you, this Monday morning, Mary?”

“Fine.” Then she’d smile, “And you?”

Fred’s son totaled the car one Sunday night. Fred showed up at work the next day. “How are you, Fred?”

“Fine.”

“How’s your son?”

“I haven’t killed him yet.”

“He didn’t get hurt, did he?”

“No. He’s fine. They checked him out at the hospital. He came home last night, a few hours after the wreck. He’s fine.”

And all the while, you know what he wanted to say. “I’m gonna turn that idiot’s butt black and blue, and he ain’t gonna be able to sit down for a month!”

Lies. Lies, and more lies. It’s what people did. They lied. About everything. To everyone. Even to themselves.

I looked at the dance floor. The usual couples were there. Mike and his wife. Jill and her husband. Tommy and his fiancé. Dancing their legs off. Ever watch people do that? “Play another song! Play another song!” They’d dance until they couldn’t breathe, and sweat was pouring off them. Then, they’d go sit down, have a drink (usually wine, or beer, sometimes something with a little more kick to it), and after a few minutes, they’d march back out there. “Play another song!” And the cycle would repeat endlessly.

Ask, “Why do you dance so much?”

They all answer the same. “We’re just having some fun! It’s fun! We’re blowing off steam. We’re relaxing. Try it!”

It’s the same lie. Again. I sat there, in the corner, at the table, watching them dance themselves to exhaustion. Knowing they couldn’t dance themselves to oblivion. Knowing they’d wake up the next day, and tell themselves how stupid they’d been.

Hell, Tommy would be so dead on his feet, even if he wanted to he wouldn’t be able to screw his girl. They’d probably pass out fully dressed, and wake up the next morning, and go, “Oh, God! Why did you turn on the sun!”

Because they never faced the truth. They all knew the truth. But they never spoke of it.

Every one of them hated their jobs. Hated their lives. Hated the same schedule every week. The same work every day. Ted said it once, trying to explain things to me. “I hate it. I’d rather be anywhere else. But, it’s got to be done.”

No, Ted. It doesn’t. The world will not end if you don’t edit that fucking document. You might get fired. You might have to look for another job. But the world will not end. So, it does NOT have to be done.

He never spoke the truth. “If I don’t edit the document. If I don’t do the work. I’ll lose my job. And I don’t want to lose my job. It would be a bitch of a problem for me. It would cause my family a lot of problems. The wife would be angry with me. We’d have to eat in a lot while I hunted another job. I’d lose my medical benefits. My insurance. Everything.”

That was the truth.

“I’m an economic slave. An indentured servant. I’ll do what I’m told to do, so the world doesn’t beat me senseless, and make my life a living hell.”

That was the truth.

And that was why they were all at the party that night. And why they were drinking everything in sight. And dancing until they collapsed. And telling stories about their kids. They were escaping. Running. Fleeing the truth.

That not one of them was happy.

I sat. In the corner. At the table. And watched.

It was sad. Really. There was a time it would have broken my heart. But, after seeing it happen every day. After living with that truth, every day. My heart’s gone numb. And I don’t care any more. I just watch. And shake my head. And wonder.

Will any of them ever wake up?

Angels And Demons : Shoot It!

Mitchell pulled his gun, pointed it at Greg, and shot him. He pulled the trigger twice, and Greg fell. Then, Mitchell walked up to Greg, where he laid, bleeding on the asphalt parking lot, pointed his gun at Greg’s head, and pulled the trigger eight more times, emptying his G26’s cartridge.

Greg was dead.

Mitchell pulled the spent clip from his gun, shoved it in one of his big pants pockets, reached into another pocket, and pulled out another clip, fully loaded with another ten rounds. He didn’t behave like he’d killed another human being. He behaved like he’d made the world a safer place.

Fear and Hatred lurked in the shadows cast by parked cars to either side of Mitchell. Both smiled, delighted with the progress they’d made with Mitchell. Such strong emotions. Fear spoke to Hatred, “We could use many more like him.”

“Indeed.” Hatred relished every drop of hatred pouring off Mitchell. “I like the way he never questions what he’s done.”

“Indeed.” Fear laughed. “He’s so afraid of anything he doesn’t understand.”

“Living in a little box of life.” Hatred took another moment to drink in more of Mitchell’s rage. More of his raw hatred. “It’s so easy to get them to kill each other, isn’t it?”

“That’s what makes it so fun.” Fear poked Hatred in the ribs. “Whisper the things they want to hear in their ears, and they’ll do anything you want them too.”

Mitchell held his gun at the ready, and waited. The other one would be arriving soon. He’d kill it too. Making the world another touch safer. Another step cleaner. Another step more Holy. Bringing everyone another step closer to God.

He didn’t like being in the parking lot at Wal-Mart. But, that’s where these evil creatures were. And as long as they existed, no one was safe.

Fear inhaled the fear and hatred filling the air. “Can’t wait to see him off the other one.”

Hatred stepped behind Mitchell’s ear, “It’ll be here any minute now. Another homo. Another fag. Another of those creatures contaminating the human race.”

Mitchell paced in little circles, always watching the door, waiting for the other half of the evil couple to appear, so he could kill it too. Shoot it, and then go up to it, and make sure it was dead.

With the two homos gone, the world would be a better place.

“To think,” Fear took his place behind Mitchell, “All it took was a little whisper in his ear.” Fear leaned forward and whispered in Mitchell’s ear, “Perhaps you should shoot this ones balls off. I mean. it’s not like it needs them.”

Mitchell nodded his head, slowly. “I know. I’ll shot this ones nuts off. It’s doesn’t deserve to have them.”

Greg’s partner came out of the store, carrying a bag of groceries in each hand. He had eggs, pancake mix, sausage, and milk in one bag. Breakfast for the next few days for the two of them. The other bag had sliced ham, turkey, cheese (two kinds), and a loaf of wheat bread. Sandwiches for lunch. He always packed a lunch for Greg. A sandwich, a diet soda, and a bag of chips.

Greg loved ham and swiss.

As he got closer to the car, he noticed a strange man standing beside it. He wondered who the man could be. He’d left Greg in the car, so it was likely the man was talking with Greg. He picked up his pace, to go rescue his love from the stranger.

He didn’t see Greg until he got to the car. He dropped his groceries. Greg was dead. His head all but destroyed. His blood all over the pavement. He gasped, his hands pressing against his cheeks, “Greg!” he cried out.

Mitchell shot him. Twice. In the chest. When he fell, Mitchell walked up to him, stood over him, and shot him two more time, in the head. Then, he for the man’s crotch, and emptied the last six rounds of the cartridge into it.

Hatred gleefully bounced up and down, “Oh, that was a good twist!”

“Yes, it was! Yes it was!”

The demons bathed in the hatred and fear gushing from Mitchells heart and soul. The man hated things like those two had been. He hated them passionately. “We should just kill them all.”

He never batted an eye as he walked away. And that night, he slept peacefully, and soundly. Without a worry in the world.

Fear whispered in his ear all night, “There are more things like them out there. Perhaps you should hunt them all down.”

Hatred whispered in his other ear. “Faggots. Homos. They’ll destroy us all. Unless we kill them first.”

#ThursThreads Week 92 : Like Hell It Is

“I hear Earth is a beautiful place.”

I looked at the young angel next to me. He bore no scars. The armor on his wings was still polished, and new. He had never been to Earth before. Never faced Lucien’s minions before. Never faced humans before. So, he didn’t know.

“Yeah. It’s pretty enough.”

He smiled. “Tell me about it?”

I kept it simple. “Earth has nights and days. It rotates on its axis. So the sun seems to come up from the horizon every day. And then sink below the horizon later that day. It’s pretty enough. Lots of colors. Pink, orange, yellow, gold.”

“That sounds beautiful.”

“It has oceans of water covering over ⅔ of its surface. Where the oceans meet the land, there are cliffs, and beaches. With rocks and sand.”

“I want to see them. Sunrise, sunset, beaches, cliffs. Can we see them?”

“Yeah, kid. We can see them.”

So innocent. He didn’t know about fear, anger, rage, hatred, bigotry, pride, arrogance, lust. He didn’t know about sin. I sighed. I couldn’t let him go in blind. “There’s something you should know about earth. It’s beautiful, but it’s flawed.”

“Flawed?”

“Ever hear the saying like Hell on Earth?” The kid just stared at me, so I explained. “Lucien and the fallen ones live there. Demons all. Earth itself is not Hell. But like hell it is.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know, kid. I know. But you will. You will.”

The ship started its descent.

248 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 92. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

 

#MWBB 35 : I Am Going To The West

I closed my eyes, and listened to her song, and felt once more those first words touch my heart, and stir my memories.

In this fair land, I’ll stay no more
Here labor is in vain
I’ll seek the mountains far away
And leave the fertile plain

It’s what I’d done. I’d left the land I’d lived in for nearly 30 years. I’d abandoned it. Because it was a dead-end. That land of work I used to live in. Where nothing ever changed. No matter what I did. No matter how hard I worked. No matter what I tried. Nothing ever changed.

I didn’t have the words then, to explain what was happening. How do you explain to everyone you know that you’re trapped? Stuck in place. In a cage. That’s what work had become. A trap. A cage. Where nothing would ever change. Where I faced the same day, the same problems, the same expectations every day. Where there was only one way to behave. Only one way you could be.

I remembered the words I’d been told a thousand times, across a thousand days. “You should be more like him.” I used to wonder how I could. “How can I be like someone else? Someone I’m not?” Until I found myself asking, “What would he do? How would he react? What would he say?”

And I lost me. Somewhere.

Do you want to know if you’re trapped? Look in the mirror. Into your eyes. And ask what the person you see in the mirror wants. What that person feels. If you don’t know. If you can’t answer. You’re trapped.

And I listened to her words as she sang them. I know they weren’t meant for me. But it felt like they were.

Where waves of grass in oceans roll
Into infinity
I stand ready on the shore
To cross the inland sea
I am going to the West

Her words echoed in my memory. For 3 years now, I’d been on a journey. Across an inland sea. A sea within me. A sea I had to cross. To find my heart. To find my soul. To breathe life into me. I remembered standing alone. Straining my eyes, my mind, my heart, to see the future, what was ahead of me.

I couldn’t. No one can. If they tell you otherwise, they lie. Don’t listen to them.

“What are you going to do when you grow up?”

“What are you going to do to earn a living?”

“How are you going to pay the bills?”

“Where are you going to live?”

Yet, no one ever asked the questions that mattered. And it was those questions that ate away at me.

“Who am I?”

“What do I want?”

“What do I believe?”

“Are my dreams still alive?”

“Am I still alive?”

I remembered everyone thinking I’d gone crazy. Telling me to pull my boots up, and get tough. “They’re watching you. If you don’t straighten out, they’ll get rid of you. If you don’t behave, they’ll get rid of you.”

They did. And it hurt like hell. And it scared me stupid. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t sleep. I swear there were times I couldn’t breathe.

But with time, that changed. I figured it out. I’d done what I had to do. To save me. I’d escaped.

You say you will not go with me
You turn your eyes away
You say you will not follow me
No matter what I say
I am going to the West
I am going to the West

It cost me everything. Every friend I had. Every person I knew. To escape. To take those first steps into that inland sea. To begin to ask those questions.

“Who am I?”

“What do I want to do?”

No one followed. That was what scared me the most. What kept me there in the first place. What kept me trapped. What kept me lost. The fear everyone would say what they’d said all my life.

“I will not follow you.”

“You can’t live that way.”

“You can’t be that way.”

“You’ll always be alone.”

If only they knew.

If only they knew.

693 Words
@LurchMunster

NOTE : The song lyrics used are from the song I Am Going To The West, from the CD The Border of Heaven, by Connie Dover © Taylor Park Music/Connie Dover


This is my entry for week 35 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

#MWBB 31 : LA Song

I helped her pack her suitcase. I helped her fold all her clothes, carefully picking the ones she wanted to take with her, leaving the ones she no longer wanted neatly folded, placed in boxes on the closet floor. We put a small makeup kit together for her, with her favorite nail polishes, lipsticks, eye shadow, blush. We put her favorite jewelry in little boxes, and stacked them neatly between her clothes and the side of the suitcase.

We talked. About where she was going. She had so much to say. She told me of all her heart breaks, all the men she’d loved and lost. How she’d cried countless tears each time, and wondered if her heart would ever heal.

She told me again, all the stories of the girls at work. The way they treated her. The way they tortured her. Always talking about how they were all engaged, or married, or had a baby on the way. How she wasn’t one of them. I calmly wiped the tears of anger from her eyes, wishing I could find a way to stitch her cut and bleeding soul back together. Wishing God would give me a way to take those wounds from her, make them mine, so she didn’t have to endure the way her heart ached, or the tears I knew her soul cried every night.

She told me how the men of LA were heartless. Soulless. Colder than any ice. Harder than any stone. How all they wanted was another bitch they could lay. Another trophy on the mantle. Another name in their black books. She told me no one slept with her because they loved her. But because she had boobs, and an ass, and her vagina. And that’s all they wanted. To get into her vagina. And I held her again, as she cried more tears of rage, and tears of pain.

The tears of a child. A little girl. Whose world got destroyed before her eyes. Whose dreams got crushed beneath the boots of a world that wasn’t at all like it she’d hoped it would be.

I carried her suitcase, and makeup kit to my car. Put them in the trunk. I opened the door, and let her in. Knowing it wouldn’t do for me to cry. It wouldn’t do for me to say anything. Knowing she trusted me to help her.

Knowing she was walking out of my life. And I might never see her again.

I wanted to kiss her. To beg her, “Don’t leave me!” I wanted to tell her how much I loved her. How I wanted to make her happy. Make her smile. Do everything I could to bring her dreams to life. But I couldn’t. Not because I didn’t have the courage, or the heart. Because I knew, my heart knew, she needed to go. She needed to escape.

I knew. I had to let her go.
I drove to the bus station. I paid for her ticket. “I promise not to follow you.”

She handed me her phone. “I can’t take this with me.”

“I know.”

I wanted to tell her she was leaving for all the wrong reasons. Because she was hurt. Because she was afraid. Because she was running from herself. From her life here, in LA. Trying to escape herself. Trying to blame LA, work, the men she’d known, for her inability to live with herself. That it wouldn’t work. She was taking what she was afraid of with her. She couldn’t escape herself.

I didn’t. It wouldn’t have worked.

Instead, I let her go. I watched the bus disappear into the traffic of LA.

I let her go.

And I prayed, one day, she’d find herself. And remember me.

627 words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for week 31 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

Sitting In The Dark

Here I am, again.
In the dark.
Alone.
The cat sleeping
On my lap.

I suspect a normal person
Would give up,
And go to bed.
“Tomorrow’s another day.
I’ll be better.”

Or perhaps they’d
Have a drink.
And watch a movie on TV.
Or something like that.

Perhaps a normal person
Would text message a friend.
And the two of them
Could keep each other company.
Cheer each other up.

I don’t really know,
You know.
What a normal person would do.
On a night like this.
When their depression
Cuts them to the bone.

Sometimes I scream at God.
“Why?
Why me?”
But I know.
It wasn’t God.
It was random chance.
The luck of the draw.
The way the genes
Of Mom and Dad
Mixed.

No sense,
And no use,
Being upset about that.

I never told anyone before.
Why I stopped Prozac
In 2003.
December 6th.
I remember the day.
It was the day I took
The last pill.

I’d taken 20 mg a day
For three years
And two months.
And for the last six months
I felt it.
The depression.
Growing.
Gaining strength.

I knew the Prozac
Wouldn’t work.
Wouldn’t help.
So I stopped taking it.

Now, I’m at that point again.
But I know so much more.
I know how to manage
My biochemical imbalance.
My screwed up neurochemistry.

I walk.
I visit the flowers
In the Botanical Garden.
I watch the ocean
As I walk on the sand.
I stop.
And breathe.
And remember now.
This moment.
This heartbeat.

I used to think
My hands
Were a curse to me.
I’ve learned.
They’re not.
They’re a gift.

I can feel the air I breathe
With them.
I can spread my fingers wide
And feel the air move
In the room.
Feel it pass between
My fingers.
Flow across my palms.

My hands are not a curse.
They’re a gift.
They remind me,
Even in my darkest times,
Even on my darkest nights.

I’m alive.

And I can feel.

I can feel the carpet
With my toes,
And the soles
Of my feet.

I can feel the shirt I wear,
Where it touches me.
If I decide I want to.
All I have to do is stop.
And remember.

I’m alive.

Prozac didn’t teach me that.
I didn’t learn it from a book.
From a friend.
From a doctor.

I learned that
Long ago.
When I was so young.
I had no words
To explain
Anything I’d learned.

And I buried everything.
To be like everyone.

But my heart
And soul.
They knew.
And they found a way
To explain the truth
To me.

I’m not broken.
I’m not evil.
I’m not defective.

I’m Me.

I don’t know
What a normal person
Would do
On a night like this.

Somehow,
I don’t wish to ever know.
Instead,
I wish
The normal people
I have known,
And know now,
Could stop.
And listen.
To their hearts
And souls.

And perhaps they’d know
The drugs,
The medications,
They don’t cure a thing.
All they do
Is help.
Let you catch your breath.
Give you time
To get back on your feet.
And remember how to walk.

No.
The meds don’t kill
My depression.
They don’t remove it
From my life
At all.

Its me that cures
What ails me.
It’s me that remembers
I’m alive.
That learns to live
In each heartbeat.
And each breath.

It’s me that learns to walk.

So I sit here.
Alone.
In the dark.
And I face my self.
My heart.
And soul.
And my depression
That never really goes away.

And I take care of me.
Until I can once more
Smile.