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The Truth is in the Pattern

The medium says she wants to talk about the father figure in my life.  Every muscle in my body finally relaxes.  Out of all the people I have lost he is the only person I want to hear from.  I’m not spiritual but I have been praying for hours for him to come to the medium, so when he did it felt like sitting down after standing all day.  My father and I had an interesting relationship.  There were times he showed me unconditional love yet more often he didn’t want anything to do with me.  He would brag to his friends about how smart and talented an actor I was, then shun me at the dinner table.  I more than loved him, I admired him, he seemed so confident, I wanted to be just like him, so on the times he rejected me it was like lightening without thunder.  I think he knew I was different and that confused him.  When he passed suddenly I was unprepared.  The medium’s head tilts to the side and explains, “I’ve never seen anything like this before; he’s showing me a room full of ties?”  I laugh a little too loud.

My father was a hoarder of ties.  We counted them once, 237 exactly.  He hoarded ties the way CEO’s hoard money, proud of his collection; each tie had a purpose and he wore one or more a day.  Until the age of ten, I was convinced he wore the tie with stars to bed, when he turned around the light from the refrigerator revealed he wore shorts and a t-shirt.  It is the only memory of my father without a tie.  I came to understand he cherished them, more than he cherished me.  He had a complex system of ordering them, depending on length, color, and pattern that I never understood.  He kept them under plastic bags; he said it was because he wanted to preserve their energy.  He has been gone for two years, I have kept all his ties in the same order, who knows what ramifications would come if I moved them, or wore them.  The entire world might crumble beneath me.  The first one I remember was a white and blue paisley tie he wore to church.  He said it connected him to God.

The medium then asks, “What’s the connection to Johnny?”  My father was the typical strong silent type.  He was never the center of attention.  He was an observer, I think that’s why he liked Johnny Carson so much – he was the opposite of my father, an outgoing man, who always had the punch line.  He was the type of guy to come up with the punch line a week after the joke was told.  I could feel his eyes grow with envy in the evening.  I inherited all my quite from him.

The thing about my father is that he had a tie for every occasion.  He had one that was brown with torn edges for the horse races.  He once told me a thread broke every time he won big but that he was never the one to prick the strings.  For the concerts, the plays, and the recitals he wore this bright red shiny tie that could be seen anywhere in the auditorium, simply so I knew he was there.  I would search the audience for him; he never acknowledged my eye contact.  When I started playing t-ball he actually took me to buy a special tie just for my games.  It was the only time he let me pick one out.  I had no idea what I was doing; at the time our team name was the bumblebees so I picked a yellow tie with thin black horizontal stripes.  I knew he hated it but he wore to every single game.  By the time I graduated high school dirt and dust had changed the yellow to brown, he refused to wash it in fear of messing with karma.  And of course he had a different themed tie for each holiday.  Santa for Christmas, bunny’s for Easter, American flag for the fourth, fireworks for new years, and one that looked like the butt of a turkey for thanksgiving.  We could never eat or open presents until he changed to the festive tie.  No matter the colors he always wore a tie with these weird oblong geometric shapes with a pink and purple color scheme to weddings.  It was hideous, and always clashed with the bride’s colors.  It was the same tie he wore at his own wedding, he would say “I have been blessed with a beautiful family because of this tie, and I want this couple to experience that.”  For funerals he wore a simple skinny black tie.  It’s the only tie I don’t have.

When I say my father wore a tie everywhere, it is not an exaggeration.  Imagine a 45-year-old man behind a boat swerving between the wake and open water wearing a blue tie with abstract waves outside his life jacket, flapping in the wind behind him.  It was my job to hold the flag in case he fell.  I held the orange so tight and high, every boat knew he was down in the water, I was panicked he would get caught in the propeller of someone else’s boat.  When it came time for him to teach me to ski, he didn’t give me his tie, even though I asked many times.  He claimed I was not responsible enough to be trusted with a tie that held the universe.

If you couldn’t tell my father was a very spiritual man.  He didn’t identify with any particular religion, but he always attended church.  He believed that everything is connected, that what tie he wore and when could cause earth to fall out of rotation, make volcano’s erupt, and stars explode.  Ties could only be worn once every two weeks, with the expectation of holiday’s or any other special event.  It was ritualistic.  When I was 10, I went into his room and tried on a few of his ties, I put them back in, what I thought was exactly the same order.  He knew they had been tampered with. He found me in the dining room doing homework.  It would be an understatement to say he simply yelled at me.  He was changed, morphed into something else, at that moment he was no longer my father but a werewolf.  My mother, a peaceful woman came rushing in, grabbed me, threw me in my room and went back to calm him down, but there was no stopping his rage.  I was a child being introduced to wrath; I hid under my pillow, while I heard my father.  I heard lamps shatter, dressers cracking, and my mother scream in pain.  The next day, I went to apologize and saw my mother applying concealer to her eye.  My father was not home for a week, when he came back it was as if nothing had happened.  He walked through the door, kissed my mother, patted me on the head, and started reading the days newspaper; he was wearing a tie I had never seen before.

My father never taught to me shave, instead he taught me to tie a tie but only after years of begging the night of prom.  I rented a tuxedo that matched my dates from the quilting store downtown.  It was supposed to have a tie that zipped but they ran out before I had a chance to order mine.  I wasn’t planning on attending prom but after my date Sarah’s boyfriend broke up with her, I became her replacement.  It was minutes before I was supposed to pick her up.  At first I tried myself, I had seen him do it so many times I thought it would be easy.  There is a difference between watching and doing a task.  I wanted him to be proud of me, to walk out my bedroom door and show him I could do it.  He taught me not out of wanting but out of necessity.  I took the knotted fabric to him, he stood behind me, over, under, up through the neck, wrap around, up the opposite, tuck under, shape until you look like a God.  It was a right of passage with my father, even if he wasn’t ready.

I set up this appointment with the medium because I wanted to know if my father knew what I never told him.  The words ‘I am gay’ sat on the tip of my tongue for years but there is no tie to give when you come out, trust me I shopped for days.  I knew I would see the rage in his eyes again and as the years went by it started to melt my sand into glass, so when he passed, it shattered me.  I stood over his cold and stiff body the smell of formaldehyde and ethanol coming from every pour.  I leaned over the casket, placed my head in his chest and told him threw snot and tears who I was.  I went back to my husband who held my hand like a vice grip. 

The medium tells me he is showing her a blanket and holding his arms as if to hug me.  She tells me that my father knows about my partner and that he was there on the day we got married.  She smiles and relays “it was his proudest moment.”  All the words have left my tongue; I am emotionless attempting to wake the synapsis that can process what I just heard.

The last thing my father says is he kept the ties for me, so one day I could feel as strong as he felt wearing them.  He’s gone, again.  I beg the medium to bring him back, that I still have a wealth of language to share with him.  She holds my hand and says, “It doesn’t work like that, once they are gone, we can never speak with them again, but he is still looking over you.  You can still speak to him, he simply won’t reply.”  I can’t tell which is more painful that he can still hear me or that he can’t respond.  Both of us living a one sided conversation.

After she leaves, I take the ties out of my basement storage, slowly peel back to the plastic that now sticks to them, and lay them neatly on my bed.  I look at them, trying to decode what type of legacy he left.  There are so many colors and patterns; it’s hard to pinpoint my father.  I guess that’s what he was, a character wanderer, trying on different people, desperately wanting to stand out in a world louder than him.  I understand the medium could have fabricated most of what she told me but right I know my Dad loved me.  I take the white and blue paisley tie he always wore to church.  I make the same knot he taught me, over, under, up through the neck, wrap around, up the opposite, tuck under, feel his hands guiding me, look in the mirror, and see him.

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To-do list.

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The River and the Ocean

The river bled into the ocean. I had a lifetime of supplies, or so I thought, and I was right.

I'd filled my deck to bursting with the fruit of fevered memories - the heat of joy, the chills of well-remembered sorrows. I'd packed in and preserved them in songs and poetry, in written words and water-proof recordings. I filled my drums and my barrels with the waters of wisdom - piss-poor decisions and the tears that follow after. Life had left me all too ready to survive.

I would not hunger. I would not thirst. The ocean lay before me and the current led me on.

I had ways to keep myself in health. I burned away the bloat of easy living with the weight of harder habits. The silence of an open day turned to the music of a metamorphosis. When you can't sing, grow. When you can't speak, grow. When you can't breathe? Grow. When you can't think? Grow and grow, because tomorrow is another day. And it is. Another day. Then another.

Eat. Drink. Read. Remember. Always grow. The ocean lay before me and the current led me on.

I had ways to keep my mind in focus. I honed my silver tongue and polished it with wax from honeyed words. I told myself new stories. I made fantasies from memories, with wild flavors you almost wouldn't believe. I told the clouds tales until I wrung loose rain. I told the sun secrets until night fell into my arms. I made seasons turn from too much purple prose and cheap, bruised imagery. Sometimes, after all, purple's a fine color. Sometimes, after all, the cheap blow sticks.

I made a thousand words, new foods to savor, new drinks to sate me. I spoke until I understood.

The only word that didn't work was 'shore'.

The stories rose in wonder, but no climax ever came.

The ocean had never promised me an ending. It just lay before me as the current led me on. 

In the end, I didn't drown so much as dive.

See? Sometimes the cheap blow sticks. Or does it?

  Prompt: Anonymous asked you:

Write about your biggest fear.

That...wasn't fun to write. Back to the genre July tomorrow!

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins

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True Reflections

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Crater

Colors fade. Life hurts.

People talk about love and justice like they're going to last. They're not. You know they're not. Every single story, every song, every  life you've ever let in to interrupt yours comes with a promise. We know it. We face it. Some of us even accept it. The stories all have meaning...

...and then they end. Every single goddamned one. Every story ends. Every story has a right to.

Colors fade. Stop crying.

Yeah, I feel it, too. There's this hollow crater, this depression cracked inch-by-inch into my ribs. It's not a material indent - it lacks substance; that's the whole idea. Like an implosion, life fills in the spot that shone bright for just a second. I watched a hero rise. Then the chapter ended. I shared her tears. Then the action rose to climax. Sweating and shivering, I rode her down to her destiny...

...and then the pages didn't turn. The scroll bar bottomed out. The Amazon ran dry. No sequel.

Colors fade. Get up.

That's the deal. You rise up on a hang-glider of someone else's ecstasy. You learn just how much air lungs can hold. You witness unimaginable, but well-told wild horizons. You are given a better life - one with answers, one with hope, one with promises. Then it ends. Then she leaves you, going back to the island of the muses. She leaves her knife behind. That was the promise. 

Colors fade. Pick it up. Do something with it.

Those colors didn't come from nowhere. That's part of the promise, too. 

 

Prompt: whataboutwriting:

This is your road to redemption.

This is a writing prompt. Without you, these are just words, but you have the ability to make them come to life. Write the first thing that came to your mind when you read the sentence above and develop that idea.

Tag “waw prompts” in your writing so we can see it!


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And a One, Two, Three, Four...

image

There's a satisfaction, really, when you're done up to the nines. Everybody cleans up pretty.

It's not the fabric or the wingtips, not the tie clips or the silver cigarette holders. It's the swish and sway. It's the beauty in the beat. It's in the heart when it slides past your sleeves or just  over that neckline. That's the color red to me - it's wine red, blood red, ruby red and lips all over.

I wash away the hesitation and the half-alives. I smoke out the stubborn feeling that no one or everyone is looking at me. Sure they are, who wouldn't be? Of course they're not; we're all fabulous down here. It's a shift in perspective, a hue strip over the floodlights overhead. When I see things in the color crimson, the other colors aren't so harsh after all. Hell, I'm harsher.

I taste the grit of an oncoming depression, sometimes, but not when the music plays - there's no grays or white or robin's-egg blues when I hit the street lights of the late nights, not my stage lights. There's only screaming golden saxophones and trumpets blowing brass into a storm. None of the sick, green gasps of dirty pollen nor her mold-green, greedy eyes. Depression dies.

When I go red, I only have eyes for me. But I've got words for you, a few minutes of a song. I've got a piano-man behind me and a sweet kid on the sticks and toms. I'm ready. You're hot. Get steady. 

Cuz when I go red, I go black. When I go black, even the devil steps back.

Prompt: thedailywritingprompts:

Writing Prompt 170

The color red infuses me with the power of…

Jazz, apparently. Smooth, classic, and sexy jazz. Gods, I need to hit the clubs again. Maybe even learn to dance...?

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Monologue about death

‘I know it’s horrible when someone dies. Death creates holes in people’s lives, holes that are hard to fill. It makes people cry, it makes people shiver. It’s not a good thing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad thing either because you know, the weird thing is.. it satisfies me. It’s not that I want people to die, it’s just that I don’t mind them doing so. I think they were meant to be. The death of others advances my story, it gives me something to deal with. And when I do, I’ll grow. I will be a stronger person, someone with experience, someone to look up to. I know it will be hard to get there, but it’s worth it, and I embrace it, because sooner or later I will advance someone else’s story as well.’

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The Big, Bad Secret

The mark of a hero is an inability to tolerate, to bear, to suffer plain and obvious injustice.

It's harder than it sounds. Trust me.

You've all seen the homeless on the streets. You've stepped sideways to avoid the bully on the bloody warpath. You thought 'Hey, maybe I should share'. Then you thought better of it. You've seen your mother, or maybe you haven't. You've seen your father, or maybe you haven't.

Maybe you have and wish you really, really hadn't. Everyone knows, by the way.

They just don't care.

Caring hurts.

That's what it means to be a hero -  a curse, a mental disorder, a mental disability. Gangrene.

Heroes can't just turn it off.

I see you out there, aching. I feel your lashes on my skin. I smell your fear, your sweat, your disregarded and discarded sex. I taste your tears. Your blood.

Your need to be loved, just this once.

I can't just turn you off. But can I save you?

A hero cannot tolerate injustice; a true hero bears that pain and uses it But a villain? Oh...

A villain's found a way to make it stop.

That's it. That's all. That's the big, bad secret. Every great villain is a hero that's in just as much pain as you are. But hey - at least I'm doing something about it!

Now get on your knees. Close your eyes. Pray. You'll feel better in a minute.

Then?

Lucky you, you won't feel anything.

(Prompt: "Have your story be in the point of view of the villain." by mywriteoryourwrite, via yeahwriters)

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins, text only

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Cigarretes, humidity, the biological war.

 

  I told my mother, I said, mother it’s time for me to go now, you know? Mother cried for days on end but just before I had my suitcase ready she got up from the room across the hall, came close and then even closer. She curled herself up into a little ball and made her way through my underwear and blouses. I told her, mother this isn’t going to work.

 I found an apartment in the big grey city and immediately started calling it my home. I used to hear mother from over the wall cleaning a dish, making a drink, weeping for her lost, little son. It felt like home. It felt like home, with the everyday noises of my previous neighborhood and the dogs still pissing on my building’s door.

 I found a job where I could proudly parade the fact that I was special, like mother always said, and I was there to make it big time. I heard once that they only hired me because mother had made a call, but that couldn’t be – they don’t do such favors in the big city, it’s not like home in that way.

 Once the rain started pouring, I slipped and fell on the wet cement, broke my nose and some fellas volunteered to find me a doctor. I said, I told them, can you please call mom for me? They took my money and searched for a payphone. It’s hard to say why but they didn’t come back. I thought of the rain, pouring down, erasing their footsteps, made them lose their way, you know?

 One other time the phone rang and it was mother on the other line. It took me by surprise, she said she had somewhere to go, the doctor, the clinic, time is a bitch, she had gotten sick – cigarettes, humidity, the biological war. I told her, I said, I am coming over, don’t you go anywhere alone. I knocked on the next apartment’s door, an old lady answered, said she had lost her son once before, on some war far, far away from home - she couldn’t care for another.

 I didn’t understand how come mother had stayed back after all. I could swear I saw her curling up to a ball and finding her place in my suitcase. It doesn’t matter anymore. I packed my life once more and left, heading home - the original one with real mother in it and kinder strangers roaming the streets outside my building with the dogs urinating on my feet. Now the dogs will be all dead, people stopped being tolerant towards other species in the end.

 Mother, mother I am here now, back for good, you know? Mother came my way, coughing her lungs out – cigarettes, humidity, the biological war. How was your walk about, son? Everything where it used to be? Mother said. And I don’t understand, I don’t understand. I haven’t been here in so long, what walk, what walk mother? And I shook her right and left, trying to get an answer out, and she wouldn’t stop coughing her lungs out, her secrets out, or I guess mine. She said I am a little slow now, it’s ok, she loves me just the way I am.

 

I think we are all stupid in our own way after all

                                         – cigarettes, humidity, the biological war.

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An Internal Monologue on the nature of life, Football and habitual drug-use as viewed through the lens of Dionysus/Uncle Franky Z/Frank Zappa (Or: 'How I learned to stop giving a fuck and love the goal') (Or: 'A Nihilist with good intentions')

My Guts hurt.

 

Smells like the innards of beasts. Take a hefty sniff, become one with the smoggy haze that envelops me. Staring at the ceiling, jaw slack, eyes heavy. Inhaling smoke. A babe, comforted by his crib.

 

People ask: “You eating enough?/You sleeping enough?/You getting enough vitamin A, B, C D, E, Keratin, Serotonin, Diazapam, Temazepam, DMT, Caffeine, Nicotine,  Marijuana, Vallium, Lithium Salts, Depakene, Ziprasidone,  Eye of Newt?” A Dostoevskyian nightmare on an industrial scale.  This is the victory of the west over communism. Now Russia can have all the modern western conveniences like hard drug addiction, terminal boredom from eternal unemployment and endless vistas littered with the dead souls and spirits; void of any hope or purpose in life , filling up with death, decay and desolation. Russian winters to the power of thousands.

 

A friend of mine is having a shindig, a big one, which she assured me would be “very totally fucking Mexico, totally bloody Pascal Chimbonda” and everyone is going so I must go.

 

 

must go.

 

Crack wise with some guy who looks like me - who I don’t know - plus Thom Pernét - who I do- . Drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. Tastes like drain water. Make jokes on Footballer’s names - Didier Dogba, Shark Van-Bommel, Super-Mario Götze - not watching the Football unless a goal goes in, then we celebrate like it was Dionysus on the pitch, running himself ragged. I’m craving  for something white, crunchy and vibrant, exactly fucking nothing like the piss-poor imitations you’ll find in the supermarket.  Gum sticks to the roof of my mouth and it’s arsenal 1-0 up but even now I stare blankly, darkly, at the television.

 

Coca-Kolo Toure.

 

Flung into the air by a guy twice my size. Tall, strapping young lad, his breath rich, syrupy with booze, giving a herculean bear hug, eyes wide with excitement, face pockmarked, and rough; the inside of a worn glove. He’s having such a good time and I’m fucking grinding and freaking on his buzz man, ecstatic to just be near someone who feels how I wish I felt.

 

Prawn-Wright Phillips.

 

On a bed, getting kissed, Feeling a soft pair of lips practically Sellotape themselves to mine. The heat between us makes me gasp; rough and full of yearning.

 

Northen Sol Campbell.

Maicon the Greek.

 

Her musk reminds me of “him.” I pause, for longer than a heartbeat but shorter than a breath and then the moment passes and I’m left with a sore mouth, lipstick caked in globs under the base of my tongue; greasy, foreign; like some horrendous polyp or cyst. The taste of chemicals makes me nauseous. She slides off me and puts her underwear on daintily, slipping away into the thronging mass outside.

 

What. A. Riot.

A throbbing gristle of people noise and colours so complex and repeating.

 

Repeating.

Repeating. 

 

Can slightly hear it now. Reportedly this has saved my life on the streets.  Slide cooly downstairs, unseen through a crowd of hipsters in tight shirts with itty-bitty waists and teeny-weeny girlfriends, hair like a rats nest perched atop their heads. Tongue wet like a hound’s, lips dry like Tony Adams; now days anyway. Zoning in and out of focus as my lungs fill with air.

 

Feels like drowning in reverse.

 

“You OK mate?”

Feels like drowning in reverse. I stare blankly at faces that swim in and out of focus, my vision wet, soupy.  A remix of the Beatles. Dubstep. Dubstep. More Dubstep, Drum and Bass, electro house, WitchHouse,  A remix of an Elvis track, IDM, EDM, French House, Minimalist Techno.

 

A beat, a quaver, a minim.

 

“I said, You OK mate?”

Pepe Reina, and his imaginary best friend Fernando Torres, gone but not forgotten.

 

“Don’t look OK mate.”

Can’t remember the time or the date or even who I am. Feels luxurious.

 

“You want some of this J my nigga?”

Reminded of something some hipcat named Pablo Biswell once said: “You always have to round up to the nearest whole wolf.” But I don’t say anything, roll my head back like a drunken bull and run my hands through my hair.

 

Breathe out; deep and hard as I can.


My Guts Hurt.

 

Talking to a girl named Monique. (Or was it Lisa?) Met in Paris (Or Barcelona or Amsterdam or Tangier or Bristol or London or Leeds or Valencia or…).

 

I say:

(Maxine?) “Yeah… So… whatever, I heard the new ‘Sea Bastard’ album is gonna be Fuckin’ A. It’s got kind of a New-wave/post-industrial feel to it. Or something.”

 

She smiles, laughs and asks me:

“ce qui est  “Fuh-keen-Ay?“”?

I reply:

(Reyann?) “Errr… what?”

 

She asks: (More urgently this time)

“ce qui est  “Fuh-keen-Ay“”?

 

I reply:

(Oslo?) “You know… like… Fuckin A!” and I move my hands to indicate.

 

she says:

“Ah. Mais Oui.”

 

“…”

(Mexico City?)

 

We kiss for a while and it feels better than good, the waft from her perfume crashing over me in an awesome and clement wave. Drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and smoke  Camel Yellows. The room is made of a bright white hunger that shines through a chink in the half open drapes and nothing matters any more. I look shit in all my clothes, but you… you look positively Italian. Even in an oft warn Barcelona FC kit. Bojan, Number 10, the one with the blue and red stripes.

 

The smell and smoke of incense hangs heavy in the air„ a hazy fog that snuggles cosily against my eyelids. ‘Killer in the Snow’ by ‘The Birds of Maya’ plays, layering it thick and smooth into my ears like a sheet of shellac, a cacophony of noise and psychedelic vibrations that tears a hole in my aching brain and takes me straight to Valhalla, the kind of music that makes me want to fuck on the floor and break shit then curl up in a ball. A blissful, cathartic mess, stuck in a post-coital explosion of ecstasy and absolute, violent satisfaction. This room reminds me of you horribly - a discarded sock, a long forgotten earring found beneath the bed under an empty packet of cigarettes - but half naked and half asleep, it isn’t so bad.  Like the dainty, unwrapped innards of a birdcage, all elegance with a brave sombreness, anything can be funny, comedic, exciting. The frames that hold our fragile understanding together like silk tape: these are the tools to make people understand you. So you communicate via a lens smeared with Vaseline, a pen or a pencil, blue tarpaulin covered  in dog turds, the pickled innards of a dead shark, the jewel encrusted skull. So when the shit eventually hits the skids, as is it’s want, what difference does it make? You meant something to someone. Someone framed you as more than a man: more than a simple, mechanical heartbeat next to some clunky shit wired to your left ventricle. (I am not a doctor.). This is real fuckin’ life.  Shit just got (R)eal (Madrid), and you passed with flying colours. Reminded of something Thom Pernét once said before we drank ourselves half to death on the pristine lawn outside his uncles house, ruining Petunias and missing the second half:

 

“Driving mate, it’s all in the hips. And Ziddane was better than Pele.”

 

My guts hurt.

 

And all of a sudden, there is a small calmness inside of me.