Friday, August 4, 2017
We all have strong ideals when we're young. Things we cling to, believe and feel for like it's our own personal religion. That's what really starts to break us; it's that feeling of growing up, getting old and little by little giving up pieces of our ideals bits at a time, not because we wanted to but because it's what we had to do to survive. A man who cries "what's the point of life if you're living just to work" must eventually sit down behind a desk to keep himself alive, a musician who plays for himself must eventually play the hits if he wants to eat, and a writer who works for the love of the craft must eventually write to earn a living. No matter how much it kills us, no matter if you're an artist or a traveler, a lover or a fighter, we are all eventually forced to give up a piece of what made us us to get by. The thing is, it might not be so bad if the knowledge of our loss didn't follow us, poking and prodding as a constant reminder of what we used to be, and the ideal sacrifices we're all forced to make for survivals sake.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
My entire family
was together for the
first time since I was two
My cousins were hugging
My aunts cried together
Grandpa was at the front
Speaking to everyone
And grandma was in the casket
A few words were spoken
We put her in the ground
And then we ate dinner
As a family
For the first time
I ever remember
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Friday, May 5, 2017
The Man in the Basement
He lived all alone in the room below me, though you wouldn’t have known it unless you had seen him. In fact, I didn’t even know the building had basement apartments until last summer when Sophie, my youngest daughter, ran down a steep stair well tucked away in a dark corner of the floor. At the bottom I found her stomping and singing outside of the apartment door that paralleled mine vertically. When, picking up my daughter, the door carefully opened and out stepped the man, middle aged, with a bald head and a shaggy white goat’s beard which offset the neat black suit he wore. He stepped out of his room staring at the floor and continued to do so as he locked the door, then stopped and put his eyes on Sophie and kept them there much longer than I was comfortable with, then sauntered away. I was horrified! What kind of man eyes someone else’s child like that? He must have been a pedophile or some kind of pervert to behave in such a way. I waited for the man to fully ascend the stairs before doing so myself, and grasping my Sophie tighter I vowed as a mother to guard my children with an even keener diligence than I had used before. For their safety, from what potential danger might lurk below their feet.
I mentioned the matter to some of the other women in the building—just the ones who happened to live on the same floor with me. The women above us usually kept to the laundry room and other facilities reserved for them on their own floor. But back to the matter, I told them how the man molested my Sophie with his groping eyes, and how it could have been any one of their own children. They all took great interest in the story and immediately pressed me for any and all details—for the safety of their children—so I shared with them everything I knew about the mysterious man in the basement . Through the space of his open door I had seen a plain room with a small bed against the wall draped across with a neat white comforter. So neat and white in-fact, that I did not but once think that I had witnessed the scene of some awful act hours after a careful hand had effaced all evidence of anything at all—no evidence that is but the pedantic neatness. Next to the bed stood a complementary white night stand with a single drawer and a framed picture of a smiling old woman with tubes stringing out of her nose. I saw nothing else through the closing door, though I doubt there was anything more to see in his lair.
The other women and I agreed that we should have more information—for the safety of our children. So I myself went to the manager of the building and demanded of him what he knew about the man in the basement; but all he could tell me was that he had only ever exchanged a single word and solitary grunt with the man since he had boarded there. The woman behind the front desk of the building had never even seen him before. But she did tell me that he was the only resident that had the front desk listed as their emergency contact. It was a sort of joke between the buildings staff. She told me giggling how they liked to laugh about how ridiculous it was. I didn’t think there was anything funny about it. I knew that it must be some sort of covert ploy to hide something.
I could not find out anything else about the villain, so I fought back by watching my children even closer than I had before and not for one instant allowing them to be alone in the building without me to accompany them. I never did see the man though, only the silhouette of his bald head and devilish beard peeping manically out of the dark corner of the floor. All the other women saw it too, so every morning we all stood out in the lobby clutching our children to our sides and looking at nothing but the tops of their heads until they were safely on their bus to school. It was awful, that man, the anxiety he put me through.
It’s been a week now since he died. It was last Saturday. I was the one to find him, dressed in a neat black suit and blue in the face lying on his back in his single bed with the framed photo I had seen nearly a year ago clasped at his breast. The stench of rotten eggs had drifted up through our floorboards; so I left the children to the watch of my sleeping husband, and ventured down the stairs for the second time to find the door of the parallel apartment unlocked and a terrible hissing on the other side as the stove spewed gas out of a kitchen I had not seen before. I turned off the stove and ran out of the apartment to catch my breath outside of the cloud of deadly gas; though not before seeing a large portrait of the old woman with tubes in her nose and the man smiling underneath a banner that read, “Mother’s Day 2010”. I notified the man’s emergency contact of what I had found and then with the ordeal passed on, I evacuated my children across town to my mother’s house while the gas and body were dealt with; though I couldn’t rouse my husband out of bed to come.
The funeral was held the day after, but no one showed up so they just ended up cremating the body and keeping it in a jar. The mortician had a policy about not keeping remains so the jar now sits on a shelf behind the front desk of the buliding. I asked the woman at the desk if she had to keep it there and told her how dreadful it was to look at, but she said she didn’t know who to give it to and didn’t want to disrespect the dead.
The devilish shadow is still there too. It’s such an awful thing for my children to have to look at, the outline of the devil and a dead man in a jar.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Me and my Uncle
For the Dead
Me and my uncle went riding down from South Colorado bound for West Texas. There was a man in El Paso that was gonna pay my uncle 500 dollars to drive his cattle to slaughter in Dallas and my uncle promised me 75 dollars to go with him. My plan was to save up as much cash as I could in the states and then live like a king in Mexico. I only had 50 bucks to my name but the 75 would more than double that, and if I kept making money like that I would be down in Mexico in no time.
The sun was at its highest point and even with my shirt off the heat was unbearable, and my body ached from three days in the saddle so we stopped off about half way, in Santa Fe. When we rode in, the wind was kicking up dust and the streets were empty, except for a gang of West Texas cowboys all dressed in black, laughin’ and yee-hain’ as they walked into a saloon with a sign that said ‘The Shootin’ Gallery’. You could tell they were from Texas from their belts, with silver buckles as big as dinner plates with a lone star in the middle, and a big .45 revolver hangin’ off the side. My uncle carried too, but his was only a .22. My uncle told me to take the horses to the stall, and I walked away and he followed the cowboys into ‘The Shootin’ Gallery’.
I went to the stall to hitch the horses, but it was full of horses from West Texas and there was no room, though a man at the stall said I could hitch behind his shop at the edge of town and I did. He also told me to stay away from those cowboys. He said they had just gotten a big payday but they still wouldn’t think twice about puttin’ a bullet through a man and taken all he has. I thanked him, assuring him that I grew up in the West and could manage just fine; then I went back to ‘The Shootin’ Gallery’ to find my uncle.
I stepped through the door and found the place filled with cowboys laughin’, and yellin’, and throwin’ down liquor and money. Then I saw my uncle sittin’ down with the cowboys in black doing the same. He was laughin’, and gamblin’, and throwin’ down whiskey like water; then he saw me standin’ there and waved me over. There was a pile a pile of cash in the center of the table and everyone was coverin’ up their cards, looking at my uncle and me. My uncle turned away from the table and put his arm around my neck and whispered to me that he needed my 50 bucks. One of the cowboys asked him what it was going to be and he whispered to me how there was no way he could lose. I’d do just about anything for my uncle, so I took out my 50 dollars and gave it to him. He threw it down in the pile and said, “Alright boys, flip ‘em.” The game was Jack high.
They flipped and my uncle had two Jacks. The cowboys cursed, and drank, and smacked the table. My uncle and I cheered, and drank, and smacked each other on the back. He pulled over his pile and handed me one hundred dollars. God! I was grateful, and I never loved my uncle more than I did right then.
My uncle started counting his money when one of the cowboys stood up and hit the table, demanding one more round, winner take all. My uncle said that was fine, then he laughed and said, “But I’ve got all your cash!” The cowboy tossed a leather pouch that clanked onto the table. “Right there’s an ounce of pure Alaskan gold,” said the cowboy, “its worth just as much as that pile, if not more.”
My uncle’s eyes lit up and he grinned. “Alright partner. One more, then I gotta be going.” He pushed the pile of cash back out on the table and they dealt two hands. My uncle asked the cowboy if he wanted a drink before they flipped. The cowboy called him a bastard. They flipped. The cowboy had Jack, Ten. My uncle had two Jacks. He yelled with joy, took another shot of whiskey, and started stuffing the cash into his jeans, sayin’, “Well I’ve had fun boys, but I needs be on my way.” He stood up to leave and took the gold, and the cowboy who had had it stood up and hit the table again. “Goddamnitt, boy! Two Jacks? Two Jacks again!”
My uncle sat back down, shifting his hands beneath the table and said, “Take it easy, amigo. The cards come how they come.” The cowboy took out his .45, pointing it at my uncle, and called him a cheater. My uncle laughed again and a gun exploded, leaving a smoking bullet hole coming up through the table, and the cowboy screamin’ with his ear blown clear off. My uncle kicked up the table and shoved a gun in my hand just as the whole bar room erupted in a shoot out. Bullets were flying everywhere as we crawled our way to the door. I shot off a few rounds but I don’t think they hit anything, but as we were just out the door my uncle shot one of the cowboys right through the head, screamin’, “Hot damn! He won’t grow old”, and we ran off to our horses behind the shop, with gun fire ringing out behind us, my uncle limping and gasping for breath, and me with four bullet holes through the brim of my hat.
We weren’t a half mile out of Santa Fe when my uncle fell off his horse and just laid there. He had six bullets holes in his back and all he could do was lay there, bleeding into the dirt. My uncle taught me well, he taught me everything I know, so when I heard those cowboys riding after us I knew all I could do was leave him there on the side of the road; but not without grabbing the loot first, and let me tell you, with money like I got, a man can live like a king in Mexico.