Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Intervals of Three and Seven

The beams of the city lights are completely visible in the smoke covered streets of Vienna. Omar, intoxicated and bloody, moans like an outcast creature in a foreign horror film as he paces behind me. The cut on the bridge of his nose bleeds consistently, leaving a trail of red freckles on the concrete slabs. "You shoulda had my back, nigga," he cries, "You shoulda had my fucking back." He's holding his shoulder in his left hand as his steps, heavy and pronounced, echo off the alleyways. I'm having a problem admitting to him that we're lost and that I have no idea where the hostile is. I stand off to the side of a homosexual couple who are laughing with their arms around one another. When they walk past Omar they stop laughing and stare briefly before looking at each other and carrying on with their unintelligible Austrian conversation.

"What was I supposed to do, bro," I begin to ask in an apologetic tone, "There were so many of them. I don't want to end up in no Austrian hospital. Have you seen the people in this city?" I notice a red dot on my shoe lace turning brown and can only assume it has come from somewhere on Omar's body and begin getting angry at my best friend. "These were fucking new, dude. You got blood on my fucking shoes." By this time, the buildings are few and far between and none of them look familiar at all, as if we'd gone beyond city limits. I begin looking around, not exactly sure what I'm looking for, maybe a taxi or a sign or maybe another set of skinheads to finish off Omar for what he did to my motherfucking shoe. I stop just short of the next alley and pull my pants down to piss on the side of a storefront window. My nerves have settled by this time and I look back to Omar who is pissing on the other side of the store, holding himself up by his shoulder. "You all right, dude? You think you need medical treatment? I gotta be honest with you. I'm not exactly sure where we are right now."

He props himself up, shakes it off, and brushes his nose with his thumb--which I find to be somewhat disgusting. He says "Typical," and begins walking the other way.

I suddenly remember the itinerary in my backpocket. I reach for it and unfold all four sections the first of which is simply a title page reading Sam's Birthday Bash in Vienna. Omar is almost a block ahead of me and I find it somewhat humorous that I can find him by following the red splashes on the ground. Humor quickly turns to sympathy, however. He is my best friend. I really should have had his back tonight. The sympathy lasts a few minutes while I go over the map in the itinerary and I catch a glimpse of the blood stain on my shoelace. I'm not mad at Omar anymore, but I definitely think he should have to pay to have these cleaned. I look up to see where the trotting bastard is, and am surprised not to see him in the distance. I slowly begin to panic, "Omar?" No answer. "Omar!" Nothing. I begin to follow the trail of blood immediately. Walking briskly, heal to toe so as to not ruin the tread of the new pair of shoes. "Omar!" Still nothing. The trail leads to an alleyway a block and a half up and I follow it all the way to a panting body laying on its stomach, "Omar..."

"Right here, homey," his speech is mostly guttural noise, "they got me good." There is blood spilling into the streets from underneath him, and I stay back three paces so as to not get any on my clothing, "You shoulda had my back, nigga."

"I know, man. I'm sorry. You want me to call for help?" I am trying to comfort him, but the place is a ghost town. And I am not knocking on any doors this time of night. I don't even speak Austrian.

"I don't know nigga. I'm not feeling too good." His voice is muffled by the wet and moldy pavement in the alleyway, "I don't think I'm gonna make it homey," he says and begins to whimper, "Do something for me man. I don't wanna die without you doing this for me."

"Anything, Omar. Just don't ask me to touch you."


"Just don't ask me to touch you."

"No no no, nigga. It's not that," He manages to prop himself up with his last ounce of strength and sits with his back against the building. The steam from the sewers creates a dense fog--a touching and dramatic scene for Omar's last request. I stand staring at my best friend with tears streaming generously down my cheeks now. Omar begins to speak and I can see the life passing through his eyes, "Tell Sam to have a happy birthday for me, all right?" And with that, I lose my best friend just outside the Vienna city limits.

To my brother, Sammy. It's his birthday today!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

For the last face.

For the time being, I’m content; for the time being. The flames that had risen to the penthouse suite have subsided and these days I catch myself staring at the blank canvas on the easel, unable to set the record straight.

I haven’t been alone. I met her last Saturday and we had sex on our first date. She didn’t want to at first, but we ran out of things to talk about. We haven’t spoken since, but she comes over every night. I think she’s been moving her things in. I don’t recognize half of the clutter in my studio.

The dreams are still a problem. I wake up in the middle of the night with my face against the hardwood floor—the floor is slippery with sweat and tears.

Will you please turn off the lights.

Yesterday I came home drunk and almost fell into the laundry chute. It wouldn’t have been the first time. It would have been the second. The first time left me with a fractured collarbone and the best painkillers I’ve ever abused my prescription of. You laugh, but they’re absolutely fantastic.

Come sit over here. So I can stop having to look behind me. Tell me about you. What have you been up to?

I can’t complain. I mean I can; you know me, but I won’t. We sold the condo in Boca, finally, and Courtney just finished her first semester at Vanderbilt. I couldn’t be happier with Raphael, either. He still finds ways of making me laugh. I always thought you two should meet. You’d really like him.

As far as me, I’m still a mess. Ever since the move, I’ve been a little nervous. Yes, nervous of running into you. Don’t make that face. I always hated that face. Stop, you’re making me laugh and I really shouldn’t be right now. It still hurts, you know. So tell me more about this girl you’ve been seeing.


Wow, ok. Sorry. Just thought you’d want to talk about her seeing as she’s the reason you’re not so lonely anymore and everything.

I think you should leave.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Poisoned Portabello

PALOMINO. Kendall Payne, age 90 of Delroy Beach, lived in Palomino 40 years before relocating to Delroy in 1990. Kendall's husband of 83 years, John, passed away in 2005. She is survived by her sons, Sean and Jeremy Michael; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Services will be held on Saturday at the Palomino Funeral Home on the Palomino drag.

. . . . . .

Carly was curled at the foot of the bed, shaking and sobbing. I could see the ripples on her back and remember briefly thinking to myself she needed to gain a little weight; but her bruises, having started to turn green, had made it impossible to think of anything else-at length. Her breasts were tucked under her legs, which were tucked inside her arms, and she rocked as she gently hyperventilated from crying.

I watched her with my hands under my head, and breathed deeply as if taking large drags off a cigarette. The air felt damp and the sweat beaded off my naked stomach and onto the sheets. I stared into the only light source in the room, a dim white light flashing from the night stand, possibly from an alarm clock. I heard Carly begin to speak, "How... could you," she asks, her voice muffled by her knees. I sat up and leaned in to hold her. Startled, she pushed me back and began to cry for help.

"No no, don't do that," I spoke softly as I held her mouth shut with one hand and caressed her shoulder with the other, "You don't have to. I'm not going to let anything happen to you, baby."

She looked at me and squinted her eyes in disbelief. Tears were rolling liberally down her swollen and discolored cheeks and she whispered loudly through my hand, "You raped me."

A pressure came over me at that very moment. Draping my hands over my entire face, I began to cry, "I'm so sorry baby," I said, "I never wanted to hurt you. I've failed you as a husband and a man."

"What are you talking about," she had stopped crying all together and was now speaking accusingly.

By this time, there was a small pool of tears gathered at the top of my stomach and I continued to break down, "I've never been through anything like this before. The economy, baby. It's just so fucked up right now. I just don't know what to do anymore."

I stood out of bed and Carly rolled onto the floor. I gathered the sheets and threw them in the wash with bleach. I turned all the lights on on my way to the kitchen. I cooked Carly some eggs. I drew Carly a hot bath. I know I love and care for Carly. I know the economy has got to get better. I don't want anything like this to happen again.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Give them hell. Let them forget about whatshisname.

Contrary to what you may have been told in your social studies classes, I am what prayers consist of. Don't let me hear you say otherwise. This hospital is and has always been on lock down.