“Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”|
Being a pledge in my fraternity was not all fun and games. Every Saturday morning at 1 PM (8 AM frat time) we were required to come to the house and collect all the bottles and cans lying around from the previous night’s party, as well as to clean up the piss, vomit, passed out sorority girls, cigarette butts, and other assorted trash that was lying around. We were also pretty much at the whim of the active members of the house. And there was one responsibility that loomed over the pledge class all semester.
Every December, for the last 20 years or something, it was the tradition of my fraternity for the pledges to throw a massive party for the actives and their dates (and the pledges can come too). It isn’t your normal party, however. Oh no. This was a far more sinister ordeal. For instead of this party being a massive drunken drug orgy on the first floor of the house, this party was to take place all over the property. What’s more, the entire party was to occur entirely inside of an elaborate cave system made out of cardboard that spanned the entire house, all three floors, the basement, the porch, everything. And it was the pledges’ job to create this elaborate cave system.
We were informed of this duty of ours from pretty much the first day we signed up for the frat. And all semester the actives hounded us to collect from all over Greater Des Moines as many gigantic cardboard boxes as was humanly possible. What’s more, all those cans, bottles, and sorority chicks we picked up over the course of the semester were to be recycled, and the deposit money was to go into the Cave Party Bar Fund.
This was a big deal not only to the members of our fraternity (the best party of the year, as far as they were concerned), but also to pretty much every girl on campus. It was a big honor to get to go along to this party, which tended to overwhelm any other social functions on campus in terms of notoriety (we’ll get to that later). So believe me when I tell you that we were HOUNDED by the older guys of the frat to get as much money and as much cardboard as possible, to ensure the most booze and the most elaborate cave system we could conceivably create. A bad cave party would go down in the ledger as a major black mark to the fraternity, not to mention the abuse that we would have to endure if we fucked it all up. This was the World Series of frat parties.
So we dutifully collected about 3 tons of cardboard over the semester, and about 5 thousand dollars in recycled beer paraphernalia for the booze. And about 10 pledges spent a helluva lot of time and energy over the five months making cardboard cave schematics (which, in a travesty of America’s job market, does NOT, in fact, look good on a resume).
And the more work we put into it, the more the actives assured us it would not be enough.
And the Cave Party day was drawing closer and closer.
Oh yeah, two things I forgot to mention.
The party was to occur on a Saturday night. And we were not allowed to begin setting up the cave system until that same day. An engineering problem that would Frank Lloyd Wright weep. This was due mostly to the fact that about 35 people lived in the house in which the caves were to be set up, and partly was to test our resourcefulness and wherewithal (at least that is the bullshit explanation they gave to us, the lazy bastards).
This brings us to the other major obstacle involved in the creation of the caves.
Every year, since 1974, none of the actives have ever willingly left the house to allow the pledges to set up the caves.
Let me repeat that.
Every year, since 1974, none of the actives have ever willingly left the house to allow the pledges to set up the caves.
It was not the actives’ job to leave the house bright and early that morning to allow us to begin the massive job of setting up the party. It was, in fact, the pledges’ job to GET the actives out of the house to begin the massive job of setting up the party.
This was known as “House Takeover”, and was just as much a feat as setting up a quarter mile of cardboard caverns in a three story house.
Thus, all semester about 10 people were given the duty of establishing schematics for the caves. And about 5 of us were put in charge of planning the impending invasion.
Enter Lieutenant Colonel Paint CHiPs.
Now mind you, there were a few things that were unsaid. The active members were not going to come out of their rooms with knives and guns, and we were not supposed to punch or throw people out of windows (both of those rules got broken that year BTW), but still, we had a pledge class of 25 people, and there were about 55 active members (30 or so of which lived in the house). Still, none of them were getting out of that house without a fight.
So the other 4 members of the ad hoc War Committee and I spent the semester devising various schemes, and collecting materials. The pledges had the advantages of organization and planning. The actives tended to not hatch schemes until the night before, whereas we planned out various scenarios for weeks in advance. Also, we had the element of surprise. All the actives knew was that we would start the invasion sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning (we would need to have all the actives out of the house by at least 8 AM to get enough prep time to set up the caves for the party, but it was an implicit understanding that to invade during the prime drinking hours of 7 PM and 10 PM Friday night was unkosher at best). The actives, however, had the distinct advantages of knowing the terrain better (they lived there after all), of outnumbering us by at least 2 to 1, and of being able to dig in against our assaults.
In retrospect, it was kind of like Vietnam.
The Wednesday before the cave party, one of the pledges, a guy ironically enough named Charlie, who worked with the House Manager (the active who lives in the house and fixes shit), snuck into the House Manager’s room and stole the set of master keys for every room in the house. To be honest, the keys were for the most part a formality, as 90% of the doors in the house could be jimmied with nothing more then a sturdy credit card, but they were nonetheless nice to have for that other 10%.
The next day, the Thursday before the Cave Party, we all had a big party in the frat house that night, the last friendly exchange of drinks between the actives and the pledges that would occur before the big party. We all had fun, and then all us pledges went back to our rooms early that evening to rest up for the day that was ahead of us.
Well, not all of us.
Charlie (known as Fat Screech to us, if that says anything about his personality and demeanor) had a little too much fun in the house that night. After all the other pledges had gone home, he stayed on to drink more whiskey and fuck around with the actives. He was not a bright man.
At some point late that night, while all the other pledges were fast asleep in their dorm rooms, Charlie must have looked up from his shot glass, noticed he was sitting in a room with 20 actives and no pledges, and then realized they were all eyeing him with evil grins on their faces. I am almost positive that at this point, Charlie looked around nervously, smiled, and said something to the effect of “Hey fellas. What’s up? Why you all looking at me like that?”
At which point the actives jumped him, duct taped him (the weapon of preference for frat guys everywhere), loaded him into a pick up truck, drove 60 miles into the middle of nowhere, released him from the bondage and the truck in the middle of a forest, and then drove back to the house.
I can almost picture Charlie standing there in the Iowa wilderness in the middle of the night, drunk off his ass, 30 minutes after the guys had driven away, and shouting to nobody in particular “Hey guys! This isn’t funny anymore! …Guys?” *insert coyote howl in the distance here*
However, earlier that day, Charlie had given the set of keys to one of the other pledges.
In any case, the next afternoon, the pledges (minus 1) all met in a guy’s dorm room with all our materials (save the building materials for the caves, which were locked away in the basement of the house), and then me and the other head of the War Committee stepped up and explained our (in retrospect) very half-assed plan for invading the house that night.
17 cases of bottle rockets?”
“100 smoke bombs of various colors?”
“20 stink bombs?”
“40 Super Soakers?”
“Good good. Remember fellas, fill those with whatever you like! Okay, 80 rolls of duct tape?”
“Two Slip N Slides?”
“CHECK! Along with the various waterguns and water balloons, both filled with various liquids, Stimmel even brought his .45!”
“Stimmel, put that away! We can’t take that!”
“It’s loaded with blanks, dude.”
“Oh, okay. Good, good. 5 queen sized mattresses?”
“Um, we only really have 4. The fifth is all infested with fleas. Maybe we shouldn’t have buried it to hide it from the actives.”
“Can it, soldier! A functional mattress is a functional mattress!”
“Um, okay, 5 then.”
“Dude dude! My cousin also gave me 10 flash bombs. He was a fucking Green Beret, man, these things are dope!”
And so on and so forth. We were well prepared, to say the least.
At the same time that all this was going on, the actives were preparing as well. Now, while 30 or so people actually lived in this house, EVERY active member of the fraternity showed up for the takeover (about 57 or so I think). On the third floor, at about 5 PM Friday night, about 8 guys bunked down in a room with a full keg, determined to barricade themselves in there until the cave party, in theory drinking away as we set up the caves, and to maybe pop out in the middle of the day and smash to bits everything they could see. Every room was similar, though the third floor room (known as The Observatory) was the only one with a keg. It was also an implicit understanding that the actives who were not rooted out of the house, who were missed, would, at some point, emerge from whatever rock they were hiding under and attempt to demolish whatever progress we had made on the caves. That, and every active we DID manage to root out would at some point during the day, while we labored away constructing the caves, attempt to force themselves BACK into the house and fuck everything up.
And while the actives in the house were busy preparing their defense, about 15 of the actives were preparing an offense.
We had about 25 pledges, and 20 of them lived in a gigantic dorm building called GK (Goodwin-Kirk). This was a dorm building that was 90% freshmen. 5 other guys and myself lived in the upper-classmen dorm buildings around the campus. So, as our plan was to assault the house very early the next morning, after the weapons’ check and the final discussion of our plans came, we all dispersed to our respective rooms to take a nap to prepare us for the long night ahead. This was at about 2 PM.
I don’t remember much of what occurred after that. All I remember was that at about 3:30 PM, I was awakened to a terrible burning sensation on my skin and the heavy weight of a knee to my stomach. Apparently my roommate (a 5’ 4” 350 lbs. homosexual music major from Minnesota, a story for another day) had let in 5 active members of my frat against my express wishes, and the actives then proceeded to shoot off a fire extinguisher at me while at the same time two of them had gotten on top of me and pinned me down. Before I knew it, I was mummified with duct tape.
And while having been in my hazy states of being still half-asleep I don’t remember much of the actual abduction, I remember quite well the events that followed. I was carried, fully duct taped, from my dorm to the frat house, being lifted high above the heads of the 5 actives.
When they reached the frat house, I saw that two other pledges had been abducted as well, both in duct tape, both guys who did not live in the freshman dorm building, and both being carried high above the heads of five actives towards the back door.
They threw us each into separate rooms, while we were still duct taped, and locked us all in. The other two guys were locked in separate third floor rooms; I was in the President’s room on the second story. They threw me on the couch in that room and then left to drink more downstairs, locking the door behind them.
Here was their mistake.
Of the other two guys kidnapped, one was a skinny drummer from Nebraska. The other, however, was my co-chairman of the War Committee, the president of our pledge class and the only sophomore of it, and he was also a football player from Texas (6’ 3” and 300 lbs.).
The second mistake is that I was well known as being stark raving mad. To compound their mistake, although the house is three stories high, the second story contains a roof (for the gigantic front porch), a big sturdy roof that we often sat out and drank on. There were two rooms whose windows opened up to access for this roof. A room called The Beach (inhabited by the pothead and the beatnik), and the President’s room.
And obviously, despite the considerable handicap of being duct taped, I had to escape.
Somehow I managed to get to my feet, and as my legs and arms were duct taped together, I sorta hopped over to the door to the room. It was locked. But as I was known campus-wide as being a raving lunatic, I didn’t let that stop me.
So, I proceeded to bash my person into the door about a dozen times, as hard as I could.
Finally, about the tenth time that I lunged myself at the door, I heard something crrrrrrrrrrrrack. After several seconds of me making sure the crack was not a bone, I realized I had torn off most of the outer lock. Another two lunges, and the door burst open, the lock flew out, and I ended up sprawled out on the floor of the second floor hall.
After about 5 minutes I got to my feet, hopped down the hall, and then carefully began to navigate my way down the back staircase (remember, I had duct tape from my ankles to my neck).
Unfortunately, at that same time, the president of the house got home from work. He entered the house and proceeded to climb the back staircase on his way to his room, where he would change clothes for the heavy drinking bout that proceeded the House Takeover.
And on his way up those stairs, he encountered me, in all my silver adhesive glory. We looked at each other for a moment. As he had not been around that day (at work), he considered my duct tape visage quixotically, unsure of what exactly was going on. I stared back at him for a moment or two before it dawned on him that I was a fugitive.
So after that moment’s contemplation, he approached me, put me over his shoulders, and carried me back to the President’s room, where he laid me down on the couch.
“Brad, that’s not cool. You could fall down the stairs and break your neck,” he lectured, fulfilling his role as the President.
“Well, if I was untied, I could navigate the back staircase with ease!”
“Can you at least loosen the shit on my chest, I am having trouble breathing.”
At which point he got out a knife and cut a few strands of duct tape that were wrapped around my chest (there were about 20 left, but this left me a little bit of squirm room). He then changed his clothes and exited the room to hit the drinking binge going on downstairs. He closed the door behind him, not realizing that my partially dislocated shoulder had made short work of the locking mechanisms.
Unbeknownst to me, the other pledges had by this time realized what had happened, and had set up a rescue operation. Also unbeknownst to me, the Texan on the third floor had rolled over to a spot on a bunk that had sharp edges to it, and had cut off enough duct tape (and skin) to be able to free himself. He then retrieved the skinny drummer guy from Nebraska in the next room and they both huddled next to a third floor window nearly above the porch roof and attempted to hatch a plan. At around the same time, the rest of the pledges had subtly surrounded the house.
So here I was duct taped from my ankles to my neck, when I hear a commotion coming from downstairs, where all the actives were. I heard people running up the stairs, on their way to the third floor. A great stampede of drunken frat guys. I then heard some commotion going on outside, and the actives apparently trying to ram their way into the third floor room that contained the two prisoners.
At this point, I had no clue what was going it. Only that the pledges on the outside must be up to something. But I knew it was a good enough distraction.
I wormed my way from the couch to the floor (read: rolled over and fell), and began furiously contracting and expanding my chest. I was also doing the same with my arms and legs, putting as much force behind separating my legs from each other and my arms from my sides as I possibly could. Unless you have been there, no man can possibly fathom the extreme strenuous physical stress of trying to literally bust yourself from a duct tape cocoon.
Cut to the third floor. Apparently, the remaining members of the war committee had concocted quite a brilliant plan in rescuing us. They had parked a car an inch away from the back door (which opened up to the parking lot), and had used bungee cord to secure the front door. At the same time they had a large length of rope and a grappling hook rigged from table legs. Thus, when they saw The Texan and the other pledge leaning out of the third floor window, they threw up the rope. Meanwhile, in the third floor room, the two pledges had moved as much furniture as possible in front of the door in an attempt to block actives from entry while the pledges attempted their escape. And they then secured the table leg grappling hook to some guy’s bed.
At about that point, one of the actives inside must have glance out a window and seen 10 pledges hanging on to a rope that went up to the third floor, shouting commands into the air. The first impulse was to scream “PLEDGES OUTSIDE!” at which point all the actives threw their beers on the ground and went to the back and front doors. Upon finding them unpassable, a few stayed behind to try and bust open the doors, while the rest all went to try and bust into the third floor room.
For some reason or another, the Texan decided to go first as the Nebraskan kept tight hold of the rope. The Texan grabbed the rope and started shimmying his fat ass down towards the ground. He was about 6 feet from the ground when an active opened up the second floor window that was right next to the rope, looked up to make sure nobody else was climbing down the rope at the time, and then produced a pair of gardening sheers, the long kind you use to trim trees with. He stuck them out the window and cut the rope. The Texan fell to the ground, and the Nebraskan, who had been holding the rope steady, flew backwards across the room as the force of the rope went from 400 pounds to 5 in half a second.
This all occurred over a span of maybe 5 minutes, and in that time, I was exhausted, but I had ripped a significant amount of duct tape off myself (or at least had broken enough strands). So I rested for about 30 seconds, and then finally put all that I had left into one tremendous body-wide muscle expansion, which snapped the rest of the strands apart. I sat there panting, red in the face, sore all over, seeing stars, for at least a minute, before I sat up and freed myself from the remaining few strands of tape.
At this time, the actives had succeeded in nearly tearing the third floor room door off of its hinges, and the Nebraskan was panicked. Finally, in a fit of terror, exhilaration, and stupidity, he secured the remaining length of rope to the bed and then grabbed hold and sort of repelled out the window. He was now at about the second floor, and there were actives hanging out of that second floor window trying to grab him and pull him back in. This was the side of the house, and the porch was on the front of the house, but the roof to the porch overhung enough that about 10 feet of it sprawled out past the side walls.
The Nebraskan decided it a good idea to start leaping from right to left in an attempt to gain velocity. Finally, when he felt he had enough, he swung as far as he could towards the front porch roof and let go of the rope. He somehow made the 8 feet distance to the porch roof, and landed on it with a thud. He rolled down the slightly inclined roof for a moment before catching himself and thus stopping himself from falling. At that point, the actives came bursting into The Beach (the second floor room near where I was), and were opening the windows that led DIRECTLY to the roof.
At which point the Nebraskan just jumped off the damn thing and landed in some bushes.
Meanwhile, I had jimmied open my window and was considering the short climb to the porch roof outside. The porch roof was not directly outside of the window to this room, but rather there was about a three-foot wide gutter walk to get to it. Easily negotiable in the summer, but in the middle of December this was caked with ice. Think of the scene in the Matrix when Keanu Reeves was trying to walk around his office building. Kind of like that. Oh yeah, and a brick walkway lay directly beneath the window.
I thought about it for a few minutes before chickening out. It was only a two-story drop, but still. I may be crazy but I’m not fucking crazy.
So quietly, I opened up the door to the room. There was nobody around, though I could hear the commotion of people nearby, very close.
I quietly made my way down the hall and towards the front staircase. All of a sudden I heard a person shouting about six feet behind me “Ack! The pledges have stormed the house!” (he was speaking of me, BTW, and had mistakenly concluded upon seeing me loose that somebody had freed me), at which point I bolted down the staircase, opened up the door at the bottom, straight-armed an active who was on his way up (in the neck, BTW, he fell to the ground gasping for air), and like a jackrabbit flew across the large main room in which about 20 actives were gathered at the moment and leapt out the first open window I saw, landing on my shoulder in the driveway. I then heard shouts from the parking lot to my right, and glanced over in that direction. Since my glasses were still on my bedside table back in my room, all I could see was a group of people running at me while shouting my name.
So I fled. I took off across the yards of the other frat houses and sprinted for a solid ten minutes, jumping over fences and cutting across yards until I was convinced I had shaken my would-be pursuers. When I finally felt it safe, I doubled over behind somebody’s garage and threw up on a pile of snow, solely from physical exertion. I had exhausted myself that much. That hour period in which I busted out of my duct tape mummification and sprinted for 10 minutes solid probably marks the highest level of physical exertion I have ever encountered. Kinda sad, really.
In any case, once back on campus, I trudged through snowdrifts towards GK. When I got there, I made my way up to HQ (some guy’s room). When I entered the room, all the pledges, including the Texan and the Nebraskan, were gathered about taking shots of rum and planning the next step. They looked at me when I opened the door, bruised, battered, and with vomit all over my pants, and then all half-cheered/half laughed at me. After a few minutes of me telling my story, somebody spoke up and said “That’s amazing and all, but why the fuck did you run away like that? We were in the parking lot when you jumped out the window, we saw you and starting calling your name, and you just fucking took off!”
I tried to explain to them that after having just been pursued by 50 guys intent on duct taping me and locking me in a closet for 24 hours, that running after me shouting my name was probably not the best way to get me to lower my guard.
In any case, I passed out for the next hour or two. When I awoke, I went right to jumping into the conversation regarding staging our offense on the house later that night.
It was about 7 PM by then.
So I took a shot of rum, pounded a beer, and commented “We attack at dawn.”
To Be Continued…
Since when has it become the norm to sleep with someone on the first date? I’m just as lascivious as the next person, but I still believe I should have an emotional attachment to a person before I share my body them. People in today’s world do not care much about love, they care about lust.|
My Grandmother tells me stories of when she was a young woman, and about how men would try to court her. They brought not only her flowers, but her mother them as well! They made sure she knew how beautiful and how special they thought she was. Why can’t it be that way today?
Have we all become so apathetic that we don’t care about anything but our own selves? I know many women who would rather have a cat as company, and a vibrator for sexual relief, than to deal with a man.
I might be naive--I probably am, to be honest. But is it so wrong for me to want to be treated like a princess? And to feel like I am indeed a princess? To know that someone has never loved me more? Pamper me, court me--at least make an effort to show you do love me.
Ah well. Perhaps I was born half a century too late. I leave you now with my favorite poem. This is how I imagine true love should be.
The Passionate Shepherd To His Love
by Christopher Marlowe
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle
A gown made of the finest wool,
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold:
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning;
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
Your holiday gatherings will be blessed with good cheer and togetherness. The anxiety you feel over possible mishaps at your relative's house is unwarranted. Your career is heating up in more ways than one- expect an opportunity for a raise or possible advancement soon, and a colleague that has had an interest in you may find the courage to speak up, if you pay attention.
Now what this really means is...
If you pace yourself, you should be able to remain drunk clear through the holidays. It’s seems that your brother-in-law is not going to press charges against you after all. One of your supervisors has been indicted thanks to that call you made and you may be in line for his job. With this position in the offing, coworkers, who will soon be working for you, will probably make themselves available for your sexual gratification.
Travel is favorable for you if it involves business. Be aware of your tendency to be arrogant this week, as a new co-worker may take a notion to challenge you for it. Any unsettled legal matters will soon be cleared up, and the outlook is in your favor. Someone close to you may have to ask for your help - don’t misconstrue their dependency on you as a romantic notion.
Now what this really means is...
Business trips will be as uneventful as the rest of your life. Your associate has decided to put you in the hospital the next time you comment on the tie he is wearing. The DA has taken a soft stance on white-collar crimes and has decided to not pursue prison time in regards to your case. Your secretary made need an advance to get through the holidays but not enough to warrant oral sex.
Gemini is the sign of the twins, and lately you've been trying to live up to your sign by leading a double life. Someone very close to you is on the verge of discovering your secret. Stop while there's still time. Your work life has been very hectic because of this. You've let it get out of hand recently. Get it fixed up this week and you'll still be able to pull everything off and look like a superstar.
Now what this really means is...
You should probably cool it on those Motel 6 rendezvous’ as your boss has hired a private eye to find out where his wife has been disappearing to, and so has your mate. Go volunteer at the local soup kitchen for a few days, as being caught there will keep you from being shot by either of them.
You and your partner are going to have strong communications this week. For once, it seems, you'll both be on the same page. Someone close to you will come to you for support. Don't be fooled by their lighthearted attitude. Your work life is going to be full of surprises - watch your co-workers carefully, as one of them may be looking for another job, and could leave you shorthanded after the holidays.
Now what this really means is...
You will spend the whole week loudly arguing with your mate until your neighbor comes over and points out that you are both arguing the same point and he is going to kill the both of you if you keep him up one more night with your yelling and screaming. Take him seriously, he only appears to be joking. Your project manager is going to Hawaii for the holidays with your secretary and won’t be returning.
Everyone will want your attendance at their holiday parties. Go out and enjoy if you're single, as someone who has had their eye on you for awhile will find the courage to speak up. However, married or involved Leo's may want to try and avoid them altogether rather than encourage an admirer. You and your partner have been having a great month so far. Enjoy this trend and expect it to continue through the holidays.
Now what this really means is...
Thanks to the cheerful façade you wear during the holidays, you will be invited to numerous parties where you will probably score with that cute new intern if you can pour enough Christmas punch in her. If you take your mate, there is a chance she will catch you unless you make it a quickie. Domestic strife should be at a minimum thanks to the busy holiday schedule you and your mate have.
With the busy season, you may have been neglecting your spouse or significant other lately. They've been feeling the pressures of the season at work, but have been unable to burden you with their stress. Give them your total attention this week, and watch your romance blossom. Expect the unexpected this week at work. Turn the situation to your favor, and watch the rewards roll in.
Now what this really means is...
Both your and your spouse’s lovers are going away for the holidays so you might want to see if you can snag a little bit at home for a change. Your boss may show up at work when you thought he had left for the holidays, so be there. Make sure you point out that your missing coworkers are never there when he is out of town.
Try to be patient with family members who try to open old wounds. Their intentions are harmless. Someone younger than you have made you his or her role model- be careful what kind of advice you give. Be aware of the office gossip this week at work. Everyone is stressed from the holidays, so use tact when approaching the guilty.
Now what this really means is...
Your relatives will appear particularly loathsome during the holidays. Try to remember that they are assholes the rest of the year too. Getting your visiting brother’s teenaged kids drunk and convincing them to tell their Dad what they really think of him, will only be funny until they do it. Remember, he beat you up as a kid and he will beat you up as an adult. Avoid confrontations in the office when there are witnesses.
Take some time to look around you in the office. Someone may be in need of assistance, and never dream of directly asking for it. It's in your best interest to do what you can. You'll feel full of energy this week, so take a walk. Something pleasantly unexpected is waiting for you outdoors. If you're presented with an opportunity this week, take it. Spontaneity can lead to a lucky find for you.
Now what this really means is...
A coworker is about to snap from the stress of the season and it would behoove you to feign sympathy as they recently purchased a gun. They may spare you in the forthcoming slaughter. If you take a stroll and find a wallet on the side walk, keep the cash and give the credit cards to a homeless person. They will take the fall for everything and you will have offset your holiday expenses.
If it's possible, avoid excess traveling this holiday season, as stress and havoc are slated to ruin your plans. Try not to make any family members feel ignored when a new family member makes an appearance. Be aware that any plans you make affect your partner so ask first before accepting invitations that may upset their opportunities.
Now what this really means is...
Stay home as the flight you are planning on will result in you spending most of the flight listening to the co-pilot telling you that the landing gear is stuck half way and to prepare for the first belly landing a 757 has ever attempted. Asking your cousin’s incredibly sexy date to go for a spin on your Harley as soon as they walk in is in bad form. Not returning for 4 hours is in very bad form.
The time is right to set aside your injured pride, and try compromising instead. Someone from your past may pay an unexpected visit. Don't let them talk you into a more personal situation. Keep things at a distance, as this person is involved in things that you don't want to deal with at this point of your life. Answers to your doubts about the direction of your life may be arriving soon.
Now what this really means is...
That gorgeous babe from High School that always made fun of you will show up at your door and give a wink and a motel key. Your spouse has hired her. The Publisher’s Clearinghouse van will stop at your house. The driver is actually a process server.
Put aside your frustrations, and enjoy the sudden heat of your romantic life. Lately you've felt that your partner is unable to understand you, and this behavior is killing your relationship. Just let go and enjoy what the stars bring you this week. You have a lot of work ahead of you, and little time to do it in. Don't let yourself get distracted, and you'll find the time to complete your projects.
Now what this really means is...
You are acutely aware of the fact that your mate is completely brainless. Just remember that it doesn’t really matter because the sex is good. It is going to be very busy at work and you will probably fall far behind on your projects.
Watch your wallet, as it's emptying faster than you expected. You might be tempted to spill a secret, but don't! The long-term effects could be devastating to someone. Beware of difficulties concerning the security of your belongings- make sure every door and window is locked. An old flame is in town. It might be in your best interest to give them time to say what they want to say.
Now what this really means is...
You will lose your wallet (see Scorpio). Letting it slip that you ran into your brother-in-law at a strip club will probably result in one or both of you being blessed with a permanent limp from the beatings your sister doles out. Your ex will stop by, if you are not home, they will burglarize your house.
The candles that were arranged with excited anticipation are half melted and have already been reluctantly blown out. Dinner for two that was set perfectly on the table grew cold and was wrapped up and put away. And as I sit on the edge of the bed pouting, I wonder how it’s possible that you picked this night to stay at the office late. You have been working hard and we’ve had so little time together that I had imagined a wonderful evening of pampering ahead of us.
Trying to put the disappointment out of my mind, I lie back and close my eyes before rolling over onto your pillow. I bury my face into it and inhale deeply, trying desperately to capture your scent in an attempt to feel closer to you. As I lie there our last conversation replays in my head. I think of how I adore the sound of your voice, even when you aren’t telling me what I wish to hear. Abruptly, I rise to my feet with a smile on my face and grab the car keys as I rush out the door.
You’re at your desk working on the computer as I enter the office and quietly walk up behind you. Placing my hands on your shoulders you’re slightly startled as you turn to face me. Still smiling, I lean over and gently kiss your forehead before placing a finger to your mouth, requesting silence. You remain still and expressionless, watching me climb onto your lap to straddle you. I run my hands up my thighs, raising my skirt and uncovering the black lace panties that are beneath. Your eyes follow my fingertips as they trace along the curves of my breasts under my button-down blouse. I press my body against yours and feel your hands on my ass trying to pull me in closer. Moving away from you I shake my head, before removing your hands and placing them back at your sides.
Instantly you grab my wrists and pin them behind me with one hand. The other finds its way back to my ass, this time with a much firmer grip you pull me to you. Shocked, I try to free myself, but to no avail. The more I protest, the tighter your grasp becomes. You stare directly into my eyes as you rip open the front of my blouse exposing my unconfined breasts underneath. My body begins to tremble under your gaze, half from excitement and half from fear, not knowing what you will choose to do next. You lower your head and take my nipple into your mouth. I close my eyes and begin to moan as I feel your tongue circling it, making it harder before switching to the other. Relaxing my body, I begin to enjoy your touch, erasing my uncertainties...
Who are you? Do you let people inside, so they get to know the real you? Or are you the kind of person who can adapt to any situation - any group of others? I adapt. I believe I became this way (not to be a fake) but instead to make my everyday dealings with others easier. Shakespeare said that all the world is a stage, and I believe this completely. |
I know I'm not alone, and that there are others who wear masks as well. In fact, I'd say that most people do, these days. Is it because we are afraid of how we think others will see us? How we will be judged? Or do others see it the way I do - using a mask to help deal with people? I don't consider myself to be fake. Nor would I say that I have a multiple-personality disorder. I think that each mask I put on is more like a "face" than a mask, so to say. They are all just lesser parts of a greater whole, and that whole is "me". When I tell people how it works, I try to explain it this way: If you were on a first date with someone, would you feel obligated to tell them every single little detail about your life, on that first date? Of course not, that would not be wise. What I (and others) do is no different. You don't see the "whole package", only a piece of it. Only the piece I want you to see.
The internet is a real blessing for people like me. Since there are only a few of you I know in real life, I feel fine not wearing a mask here, on these forums. I can be myself, since there is nothing to deal with here. I feel free to explain my personality, my masks. Nowhere else would I let out that information - people would be able to see through me easier, then. Why am I so protective? I don't know. I just am, I suppose. Maybe because I'm a Cancer.
I enjoyed explaining myself. I hope someone took the time to read this.
When I pee it burns. I feel compelled to shout out "It Burns! Pins and Needles! Pins and Needles Scraping My Urethra!" I have encountered many an awkward moment after urinating while there were guests out in the lounge...|
It all sounds the same. White noise. Static. The monotonous chatter that blankets us. The tv, the radio, the monitor, the stereo, the children, the phone, the highway, the unnatural ambience that we staple to our paper doll forms and decree as indication of our own social “success.”|
It’s just eating; a constant and careless consumption of a finite pile of resources to satiate an unnatural media desire.
Bills for shit that we don’t care about… Food that will go to waste… Friends that barely know us… Children that grow up to hate us…
“Plastic perfection distorts her stretched exterior, while polluted pieces of shit inside her belly rot away. She flushes them out of her distended, leaky anus and she smiles and struts and smiles until her black hole colon sucks her through herself...”
Say hello to another white formica tabletop with little gold flecks in it. I don’t know what it is about all-night diners on the road, but it’s like a time honored tradition or something. They’ve all got to have that fuckin’ white formica. |
I don’t like it. Never have. White formica carries too many negative associations to be inert in my world. All the late-night travelers, all the sad and broken white-trash families with nowhere else to go, they leave their marks here in the tabletops. Like shadows, or ghosts of shadows that no one else can see, or that no one else really cares to. Pale reflections of things best hidden lay calling behind the tiny golden flecks, and I don’t think I really want to hear anymore.
Ghosts are what brought me here, as surely as they are everything that serves to profane the place for me. I spend a lot of time running from the things that I don’t have the strength to face anymore. That’s a fault of mine, you see. If you were a direct man, you could call it an obvious lack of courage. You would, of course, be correct. Courage is a luxury that I no longer enjoy. Not the kind of courage that you need to face the big issues. That courage was stripped away a long time ago, and try as I might, I can’t dance the magic mojo dance to bring it back. You don’t get that kind of courage without having something that you love in your life. You can’t keep it without that. When you’re left alone in the world, it drifts away like so much water through your hands. Courage requires love, and love requires courage. I’m so fucking far out of the loop that I can’t find my way back inside and I don’t know what to do.
So, I drive.
That’s what I do. Not for money, sport, or some kind of demented belief that it will cure what ails me. When I’m worn and tired, I drive. When my head fills up with all the inescapable beauty of living, I need to drive and let it all bleed out. It has nowhere else to go. No secret confidante supports me, only an endless procession of empty eyes and painted smiles. No more whispered passions in the warm embrace of enfolding darkness. No true closeness anymore.
I don’t have the courage to deal with that. No closeness. I’m not man enough to just stand in one spot for eternity and silently tough that one out. Nor am I bold enough to take a fucking soulless Stepford Wife who happily goes through all the motions with a deadpan smile on her prettily made-up face. I need to touch, love, and know that I am loved in return. Man is reborn through the love of woman, and I desperately need that. I do.
And, that’s why I’m here, sitting in the middle of a grimy desert diner at three in the morning, and feeling like just another one of those ghosts trapped behind the tiny flecks in the tabletop. Just another fading afterimage that no one really cares to see.
The waitress comes over, pretty from a distance, but as she closes I can see the work that hardship and time have wrought upon those once delicate features. It’s in the creases in her makeup and the tiny little lines around her mouth and eyes that come from smoking too many cigarettes. And, oh baby, is it ever in the eyes. Maybe they were once the eyes of a high-school beauty queen, they’re certainly pretty enough to have claimed such a vainglorious past. Eyes that once could’ve smiled, and melted a young man’s heart straightaway. Now they just float in the vacuum of her face, dull in their orbits, the light of hope gone completely out of them. For one surreal moment, they seem so endlessly deep that I actually convince myself I can see the dead things floating inside, like bits of scum beneath the surface of a cold, black pond.
(I wonder what relics lay scattered there in the windblown ashes of her dreams. What has she traded away to become this automaton that stands before me now? How did it feel to let that all go? I look at her and a part of me wants to pull her to me, carry her away, and show her a different life and a different world where all the silly passions of the heart can be something more than shadow and bitter memory. I wonder, for a moment, if there’s anything that I could do to wake that up inside of her just one last time, anything to make her remember what it feels like to be caught up in the ferocious conflagration of the senses that is love. I want that for her, but it’s not my gift to give. Not to her. No.)
She mumbles her canned greeting and asks me how I’m doing, and as I deliver my canned response in return, I can’t help but wonder at how much longer I’ve got ‘till all of it starts to be that plainly written across my face, too. How much longer do I have until everything that’s worth anything inside of me lies down to take a nap for that final time, and never wakes up again? Will I notice? When all that’s left is the resignation and the pre-fab greetings, will I even remember what it was like to have once been full and alive?
I buckle down and order waffles and eggs instead of choosing to harass her with any of my delusional profundities. As she saunters off towards the kitchen, I find myself drifting back into reverie.
To hear mundane people speak of it, you would expect that it was the most common condition on the earth. According to my friends, not being in love at any given time is something akin to walking five miles through a rainstorm without getting wet:
“It’ll happen, just give it time.” – Yeah, time. Time is the only irreplaceable commodity that we possess. Spending it lightly is sacrilege against living. We have only this moment, this brief little space in eternity to live out the scope of our lives. Nothing buys it back. Youth and beauty, once gone, are gone forever. Time is nothing to squander on chance. The entire existence of man is just a queer little blip in an endless continuity of silence. Why should I take time so lightly?
“You just haven’t met the right person yet.” – Well, actually I have (tales for another day, perhaps). I have met her more than once, even. In that respect, I’m luckier than most by great spans of chance. I believe that love is rare. Perhaps it is even the rarest of all things shared between human beings. It is profound beyond reckoning. The covenant of love is completely apart from want and need. It is a perfect circuit of absolute understanding and honest admiration shared between two human beings (It requires no oath. It requires no ring. And yes, it does endure). If a person can’t understand you, they can’t love you. It’s really as simple as that. In a world that’s populated by people who are too afraid to express their honest feelings, or too hideously malformed inside to risk being uncovered if they did, just reaching the necessary level of communication is rare enough. What scares me so terribly is not that I haven’t met “the right person,” but that everyone I’ve met in a good long while has been so fucking shallow and fundamentally wrong.
There is a good measure of difference between “something real” and “anything at all.”
(Several sharp bursts of profanity threaten to wake me from my piteous state of self-analysis, but I drift deeper still.)
I am not an ascetic. I crave comfort as much as anyone, and from time to time I do give in. I have come to understand the kindnesses of swaddling oneself in illusion. They are fleeting, however. They pass with the casual utterances of indifference, or the coarseness of being treated as an object rather than an entity. It’s funny, that. Never would I have imagined that I would be heartsobbing about having been treated like a piece of meat. Nevertheless, I have, and it hurts. It really does.
Lying does not come so easily to me. Lying to myself is even more difficult, still. There’s a fine line between giving someone “the benefit of the doubt,” and lying to yourself, boldly. Possessiveness, jealousy, that kind of shit doesn’t fit into my concept of love, so I act accordingly. I trust. I give the benefit of the doubt and, boy howdy, there’s been a whole houseful of doubt around these parts lately.
Feelings like jealousy don’t happen when you honestly trust someone. Well, they don’t happen to me, anyway. I mean, isn’t trust the foundation of every relationship, no matter how mundane? Without trust, what have you got? Nothing. At best, you’ve got a fragile little house of cards waiting for the first strong breeze to come along and set things straight. So, you trust when you can, and you hope for the best, because it’s really the only option you’ve got if you’re going to give this every chance. Right?
It’s too bad integrity has become extinct. I don’t know when it happened, but it did. Or, at least, it’s on the ropes if not already down for the count. Why do I say that? Well, I have my reasons. Trust that I do. Until someone comes out of the woodwork and proves me wrong, I’ll just hang on to them. You may call it cynical, but I don’t entirely see it that way. Only stupid men make leaps of faith without first anticipating some kind of impact. I’ll still make the leaps from time to time. What I guess I’m saying is that I’ve learned to brace for that all too uncomfortable landing. And, trust me on this one; it helps to be ready for a landing like that. It can really put a lasting hurt on you if you aren’t. D’ya know what I mean?
(I don’t know…maybe I’m just completely wrong about everything. Either my ideas of human interrelationship are completely off the mark, or everyone for a thousand miles around is completely fucked-up. I haven’t decided which one I’m more comfortable believing yet. I’ll let you know when I do.)
Ah, the wandering waitress returns. This time she comes to me with a steaming plate of pseudo-food, smile wavering but still intact. Once again, I marvel at the dark intricacies of her eyes, and shudder inwardly as I thank her for serving me. They’re every bit as flat and cold as the first time I saw them. Dead.
She shuffles away, and I turn to my plate, famished. Waffles and eggs seem a lot less tempting, suddenly. I mean, they looked a whole hell of a lot different on the menu. There, the waffles were fluffy and tantalizing, the eggs full and perfect. Here on the table are what look like two hastily toasted Eggo’s and a crispy glob of rubbery-whiteness with two faint, yellow smears in it. Egads. I mean, E-fucking-gads…something has been seriously perverted in the translation.
But, beggars can’t be choosers (especially hungry beggars). So, I dig into those funky rubber eggs and I fill my head up with the images on that deceitful little menu, hoping somehow that enough fervent wishing will somehow fill the gaps between the desperate contrasts at hand.
And, just like that, I’m back in the silent place again. Thinking, thinking…always thinking. Something as innocuous as contemplating a plate of eggs has me thrust back into the miasma of my mind, hunting for elusive truth.
Another short burst of profanity draws my attention. I glance up from my food and notice a couple sitting across the restaurant, in another booth. Of her, I can see only the full head of long, blond hair. Of him, I can see nearly everything (layers beneath layers beneath layers). Creased, sunburned face dominated by a monstrous, bristly mustache. Cruel eyes nestled beneath a heavy brow. My initial assumption is redneck, my second more calculated assumption, sub-man. Grimy baseball cap, denim jacket with a pack of Marlboro’s half stuffed into the front pocket.
I could have stopped at redneck if I hadn’t caught so close a look at the eyes.
Again, the eyes.
Cruel, beneath that heavy brow. Cruel, and filled with agitation. I’ve seen similar weight behind the eyes of rattlesnakes about to strike. Men with these eyes are not strangers to me. They haunt my dreams as surely as any of a number of other things. Sometimes I feel as though I spend the greater part of my life trying to pretend that they don’t really exist. It’s easier for me that way. Again, illusion and its comforts come to bear. How often I retreat.
Furrowed brow, flushed cheeks, I could smell the sub-human nature on this guy from where I sat, at least twenty feet away. I should have seen it coming then, and in a way maybe I did.
(A very good friend of mine used to be fond of saying, “An animal, at it’s worst can only be savage. Man, at his worst, can be inhuman, and that is far more base and disturbing a thing.”)
Turning my attention away from their shame, I return to my eggs, but not my reverie. I am here now. Things are on alert inside of my head. I don’t like that feeling, I never have. I’ve heard that some people chase the feel of a good danger-high, and I don’t understand it. To me, it’s the most uncomfortable feeling in the world. If I could have my peace and love, I would spirit it off to the last uninhabited corner of the world remaining, and I would live with it there until the silences return to claim me. That would be enough for me. It would be far more than I deserve.
So, I sit and regard my eggs coldly. The first few attempts at biting through the chitinous layer surrounding them meet with some resistance. My teeth are good, but the damned pseudo-eggs are better, I guess. Completely indigestible, I’m still perversely determined to consume them. I don’t know why. It’s become a sort of challenge in my mind. Man vs. egg, and only the winner is going to walk away from this table. I was going to win.
“LISTEN TO ME YOU FUCKING BITCH!”
I look up squarely at that one. There’s nothing veiled about the promise of pain behind those words. He’s low on the table now, leaning towards her and mumbling again. Placating, begging, contrite in every aspect except the viper’s gaze. In my opinion, the sub-men never seem able to hide that one very well at all.
I watch for a moment as she brings her hand up from her lap and dabs her eyes with a handful of Kleenex. It’s no mystery that she’s crying, although she’s doing a damned brave job of keeping quiet about it.
“HEY BUDDY, YOU SEE SOMETHIN’ INTERSTIN’ OVER HERE?”
I shift my gaze slightly and look squarely into those fucking reptilian eyes trained directly on me.
“YEAH, I’M TALKIN’ TO YOU. MAYBE YOU’D LIKE TO COME OVER HERE AND JOIN US?”
I hold the gaze for a moment and then look down at my plate, inedible scrap of egg trapped midway between my throat and stomach. Yeah, I’m scared. I’m scared that I’m going to find myself in that place again, just one last time. Only maybe this time, I’m not going to be the one walking away. Of all the things we take for granted, seeing tomorrow is the grandest assumption of all.
Conflict and fear walk hand in hand. For every one of you that claims you don’t know fear in the face of conflict, you’re either lying or flat out stupid. Either that, or you’re one of them. That’s one really charming aspect about the sub-men. They don’t seem to be afraid of hurting people. They enjoy it. They revel in it. They hunt it out, look for it, and where it doesn’t exist, they ultimately create it. With them, it’s the first resort, never the last. I know them all too well.
I hear his wife trying to calm him down with a flurry of mumbled imprecations. No, I don’t look up again. If all you’ve got is your pride, maybe you’d be forced to. Me, I lost that long ago. I just keep on staring at the plate and trying to keep things cool.
I can no longer eat, but I can’t get up and leave either. I can’t, not in good conscience. I know what’s here in this room and I can’t just get up and walk away now. I need to be here until things get better. It’s not a goddamned hero complex. God knows that no one who knows me would ever accuse me of having anything like that. I just can’t walk out and leave her unprotected. She’s probably convinced herself that she’s in love with this monster. Either that, or he’s convinced her of it, somehow. Don’t laugh. I’ve seen the sub-men work before.
If you wonder whether or not you’ve ever been involved with one, let me ask you some questions:
Have you ever caught your lover in a position where he’s completely in the wrong and sat down to end things with him? I don’t care if it was wearing your panties or sleeping with your sister. When you start to end things, he begins to apologize…at first. When that doesn’t work, he begins placing blame elsewhere. When that doesn’t work, he shifts the blame to you for being untrusting enough to have accused him of such nonsense in the first place. He tries to make you feel like some kind of monster for even considering him capable of such a thing in the first place. As your resolve hardens, his reactions shift with kaleidoscopic rapidity, going from one extreme to another, as he tries desperately to find that chink in your armor that will let him back inside. I know his kind. I do. He has to be inside. It’s the mark of the emotional parasite that he is.
The anger and destructiveness are never far from the surface for him. You may not see them for years, but eventually you’ll be on the receiving end. Maybe it’ll be the night he comes home with another woman’s perfume on his clothes, or maybe it’ll be something tragically more direct. This “man” knows only want. To be the object of his attention is to simply be an object and nothing more.
His kind are a product of this broken world, and all the lost graces that we’ve let slip, so casually, away. Inhuman.)
I sit there and I look at the remainder of the eggs on my plate. I remember the mental game I played to choke them down and wonder if her marriage must be the same. Does she close her eyes at night and think of all the good that she can remember about him? Does that, somehow, make the suffering of it more palatable? Are those the illusions that she swaddles herself in to make the hurt go away?
I wait and listen to the exchange continue…
“Come on, baby. I didn’t mean nothin’ by it. You know I love you, baby. I wouldn’t do nothin’ to hurt you…not really. I love you. You’re my baby doll. C’mon. Smile for me.”
She mumbles something unintelligible to him and his voice lowers dangerously, becoming more heated and insistent.
(He who fights…)
And I sit there, struggling to quell the rising urges inside of me. I am sickened in the presence of this thing. This monstrosity.
(…when you gaze long…)
“Thmitch! Thmatch!” the unmistakable sound of a fist striking flesh, and I look up in time to see him rising out of the booth to come around and comfort her.
(Fear. Fear becomes the appetizer, leaving behind a palate thoroughly whetted for the taste of something greater. Something more fulfilling. I am the white-hot core of man’s existence. I am the now, and every man who went before me and ultimately fell, existed only to see me here. They came and passed only to grant me the power to carry their will. An infinite line of fallen torchbearers stretch out behind me, off into the vanishing point. Every yearning, every passion, every scalding tear shed in sorrow or joy. They were shed for me, as all that I endure must stand for those who come after. Now, I alone carry their honor, their purpose.)
She cringes back and he begins again. “Goddamit baby, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s just that you make me so fuckin’ mad. You know I love you, baby. C’mon.”
And, already I’m halfway across the floor and closing in, my entire body thrumming with seething rage. His back is to me, one knee on the seat beside her, as he tries to slide into her side of the booth. It’s lovey time, and that’s all right with me.
Sensory awareness heightens as the adrenaline dumps again, and my heart pounds like a war drum. I feel its echo on the tips of my twitching fingers as I reach out with my right hand and…
(…he himself does not…)
…thrust it between the back of his legs, reaching up and grabbing a handful of balls and bluejeans.
Realization hits like a bolt of lightning and two hands reach down to pry my fingers loose, unthinking.
My left hand rises up between his shoulders and shoves forward as I simultaneously pull up and back with the right (Start the lawnmower for me, would you son?).
Physics class is in full swing now, as his back legs come up and his head swings violently downward, bouncing first off the edge of the table before coming to land hard against the floor.
I kneel, one knee in the small of his back, and reach my left hand into his tangled mass of greasy hair, knotting a fist and pulling hard. Response time is lagging, so I decide to liven things up a bit by balling up my right fist and punching him in the ear. It’s just a matter of time before he offers me his hand. I know.
“I’M SORRY, BABY! I DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT YOU, BABY!” I hear myself yelling, but it’s oddly distant and muffled. Gauzy, thick, dreamlike. Away.
Ta Da! The magic hand comes up from underneath his body and claws for the fist that I’ve got knotted in his filthy mane. He’s bucking now. Coming fully awake. For all of the deadly seriousness of the moment, I can’t help but think of The Three Stooges, and the way that Moe always used to reach over and pull great tufts of hair out of Larry’s head. “C’mere porcupine,” keeps shooting through my mind as I pull back and feel the tiny strands break from the increased tension.
I reach out slowly and take his questing hand in mine, gently at first. Once my grip is assured, I let go with my left and with both hands together I twist clockwise and back as I rise to my feet, drawing his arm to full and thoroughly uncomfortable extension.
Squealing and moaning from the fresh shock of pain in his wrist, he pushes his shoulders back down onto the floor, stretching out and revealing a whole new side of himself to me.
I don’t even have to look. His arm is the guide. I run my knee alongside of it and snap my foot along its length, burying the steel tip of my boot into the bony plane beneath his armpit. I can only imagine the shock of his pain as…
He tries to turn, powerfully, reflexively, reacting to the fresh and overwhelming stimulus. I ease my tension on his wrist long enough to let him, and he bears his stomach to me, again unthinking.
Powerful snapping kick to the solar plexus. A little more angle and I would’ve pushed right up into his mediastinum, giving his heart a final massage perhaps.
Sub-man goes fetal, unable to breathe, and for a moment, I know that he is very afraid.
The adrenaline begins to subside. Hearing returns as I back away, panting. I wonder if he'll realize, later, just how close he came.
“OH, HEATH! MY BABY! YOU HURT MY BABY!”
What seemed to take minutes in my state of heightened senses, in reality, took only a handful of seconds. Just long enough for his wife (?) to recover from the shock of the moment and turn on me.
I look at her for a moment, and immediately understand why she had been sitting with her back turned toward the door. Her face is a living memorial to Heath’s good-ole’ hometown lovin’. Her lips are split and swollen from an earlier encounter with his passionate side. Her right eye sports a mouse so dark and blotchy, that it has spread to the other eye across the bridge of her nose. A nose, by the way, that I’m not entirely sure isn’t broken in at least one place. The right side of her jaw is swollen to the point that it looks as though she’s sporting a bad case of the mumps. If not for the dark smears that the makeup can’t completely hide, I might even believe it to be so.
But, the eyes. Deep behind the blind, helpless rage etched into her features, I see my reflection there. I see myself through the bruised hollows of her wild eyes.
(He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.)
(There is no shock or sorrow. I know what I am. I learned it long ago on other shores than these. In a very real way, I am even less than Heath. )
She twists in the throes of her own anguish, deciding whether she’d like to try and stab me with the butter knife in her fist, or rush to Heath’s assistance. After a fraction of another precious moment, her gaze breaks away from me and she goes to him, changed perhaps.
(And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.)
I turn and make for the door, body trembling as the adrenaline begins to fade. As I pass the counter, I notice the cook standing outside the kitchen with a short club in his hand. Too much longer spent teaching Heath, and that lovely piece of wood might have kissed my skull without me even having seen it coming. What a matrix of possibility life is. What an amazingly complex web of intricacies.
I hear the strident, nasal voice of my lovely waitress, suddenly. “Hey you. Hey mister, where do you think you’re going? Hey. HEY!”
Fuck that nonsense. We monsters gotta get the hell out of dodge before the cavalry arrives and locks us up. I stride out the door and jump into my car, start it and speed up the road to the west. Of course, once out of immediate sight, I turn around and track back toward the East, making good time and trying to keep the car in control despite the wracking shudders that pass through my arms and shoulders. See, when I get the adrenaline, I get it good.
(Saints and serial killers are just different sides of the same tarnished coin.)
A couple miles up the road, I pull off onto a little dirt trail and drive slowly out, into the enfolding darkness.
I love the desert and all it’s austere beauty. I turn the lights out, ease back the top, and lay back taking in the cold wonder of the starlit sky, and I think.
I think of that sad, beaten lady. I wonder what she tells herself to justify Heath’s actions in her mind. Does she blame it on herself? I think that maybe she does. Or, maybe she understands the sick, infected horror of what she’s got, but refuses to let it go because it’s just that…all that she’s got. Daddy’s little girl fell in love with a wife beater, and now she can’t go back. She’s all alone and there ain’t no rider on a white horse come to save her. Sad.
In all of my most fervent wishes, I hope that I can someday merit something better than that. I want to believe that I’ve earned it (But, the days grow shorter and the earth spins onward, still).
I sit there, eyelids drooping, breathing deep and even, and play out a thousand happy endings that I know in my heart will never come to her (or me), as I drift and watch the stars fade to morning.
Honor the covenant.
It's twenty past three in Nanaimo, and I've had a sudden change of heart. None of what I had to say before is important, and I don't think it'll ever reach the front page of the Asylum. Especially when compared to some of the brilliant and heart-wrenching stories that others here have shared, the pain and hope they've elicited seems so much worthwhile than the boredom I might inspire by re-hashing and edited-for-your-viewing-pleasure academic essay that would only serve as a pale and drab analysis of an experience to whom only a few can relate.
So I quit smoking, tonight.
Not because I care about my health, because I don't. Not because it costs me money. I don't care about money; having clean water to drink a and adequate shelter is a life of riches in some part of the world, and I am not so naïve as to think of my situation as approaching anything resembling poverty. Fuck, my parents own a hot-tub. As far as I'm concerned, I am a king among men, and you could not convince me otherwise, no matter how many zeroes you can scribble on the end of a check.
So I'm sitting in this ill-gotten hot-tub, sharing a smoke with the stars, when the ringing of sirens wafts over from the parkway, a couple kilometers away. A lot of sirens. There will be a front page story about it in the newspaper tomorrow. Another impersonal and dollar-generating sensation buzzing around this small city like the latest 6AM, hot caffeine injection to let everyone know that the world has just become a little grimmer.
Suddenly I became very, very sombre. I thought long about the suffering that some very unlucky people must be going through for so many ambulances to be converging on one spot. Will they recover? Will they have the opportunity to reveal to those they care about their true heart, before their consciousness passes from existence? Would they have the courage to do it, even in the face of death?
This is too precious to be wasting isn't it? And here I am, pruning up, killing time with a carton of white and brown death in my hands. Tar, 14 milligrams. Nicotine, 1.3 milligrams. Carbon monoxide, 14 milligrams. Glue and acetone, paintstripper. And worse yet, I spent money on this toxic waste that I one day decided would be a good idea to inhale into my lungs. This money that went straight into the hands of a tobacco company, an organization dedicated to poisoning adults and children alike, that warps our governments' agendas with the same sort of money that bought this hot-tub I don't deserve. An industry historically built on slave labour, and now built on the backs of people who don't have the strength to end their habit. A group of men who have thrived on the theft of people's ability to choose, and on the suffering of millions.
And as I sit here, praying as a devout atheist for the recovery of people dying miles away, whom I've never met, I have to quit. I've been wasting my life. How many times have I wanted to reach out and tell someone close how much they've meant to me? How many times have I sheepishly decided not to tell a beautiful girl just what I think about her? What have I done but cut off my own leaves if I've never sought that vital interaction with other people that I crave? I've withered, like a brown tobacco leaf, and it is my own end. I've pruned everything I value. I have supported by omission and by dollar everything I despise.
Time to butt out.
I'm going to tell my friends how much I love them.
I will let that girl know how pretty she is.
Your life has more to offer you than isolation. Goodnight.
The alarm goes off...I hit the snooze and fall back to the pillow for 10 more minutes, trying with all my might to get back to that dream with the two guys on the couch. Useless. It’s gone. Damnit.|
I roll out of bed, wearing my usual lil nightie, and stretch. I flounder to the kitchen, pour small glasses of orange juice like a robot and take them with me to wake my kids. After I’m assured they are awake, I go to my tub, where my friendly faucet awaits me.
Out on the road an hour later, on the way to work and hung up in traffic on I20 again, I look over and see a yuppie in a new BMW, looking straight ahead, oblivious to this world. I imagine him, sitting there with a cool, long-haired blonde bombshell, crouched down in the seat, her head bobbing up and down over his lap as he continues to look out at the world as though nothing is happening. The scene is obliterated as his car suddenly moves off. I smile, traffic lets up, and I finally get to work.
After getting my new set of students off to a good start on Networking Essentials, I go to the bathroom at lunch break to find my panties are still moist from this morning. That’s ok, cuz it’s pretty normal for me. I clean up and go to lunch.
Sitting across from me, in the Chinese buffet restaurant, is a nice-looking older man who keeps staring. I open my book, as usual, and proceed to read and eat. I love the attention, but can’t bring myself to acknowledge it somehow. I find myself re-reading the same paragraph over and over again, then finally close the book, get brave, and look up at the gentleman. Direct eye contact is very sensual sometimes, but apparently too intimidating for this man, and he turns away with a blush.
Gathering my things, I purposefully drop my keys next to the gentleman across the isle as I prepare to leave...bent over, my skirt rides up high on my thigh, and I pick up the keys with an evil grin on my face, ‘feeling’ his eyes all over me as I walk away. Needless to say, my panties are very wet again.
Going back to work is not always easy. But, I make it back, address the class in my usual professional demeanor, and finish out my day.
When I walk into my apartment, everything is sparkling clean, something smells really, really good...I drop my jacket, keys and briefcase on the table and walk into the living room to find my boyfriend sitting at my computer, with a sly grin on his face as he turns to look at me. “Where are the kids?” I say, quizzically. He smiles “They are off, doing kid things,” He says, standing and walking over to me. I smile warmly at him, and reach for him. He stops, frowns and looks at me seriously. “Where is the mail?” he says. I raise a brow in confusion. “I, uh...I didn’t pick it up yet”. “Ok...I’ll forgive you after we’ve had dinner and you’ve made amends. Now, take off that blouse and serve me some of that marvelous chicken keiv I’ve prepared.” I look at him in astonishment, not having seen this side of him before, but liking it, A LOT, and move to the kitchen as I remove my blouse. My panties are soaking wet now as I wash my hands and prepare to serve my man.
Ok..that’s it. Hehehehee...use your imaginations for the rest, you twerps! LOL