Merry Christmas, or Something (flash fiction re-post)

I originally posted this in November 2012, and something reminded me about this piece of flash fiction. Heavens, it’s dark. For the record, I feel pretty good this morning. The speaker’s tone doesn’t reflect my current state…though I imagine I was pretty down when I first wrote this.

Merry Christmas, Or Something

There’s nothing left for me here, but that doesn’t mean I’m leaving.

I’ve grown accustomed to the ache, the longing to be elsewhere, and that’s usually enough most days. The nights are what worry me, when he starts playing that old guitar, the one his father stole for him a thousand Christmases ago, that he doesn’t touch unless he’s been drinking, transforming it from a piece of junk into a troubadour’s dream.

He coaxes such painfully beautiful music from the instrument, it nearly makes up for his caterwaul of a voice, his hesitant delivery, the way he stumbles over words he should know
because I know them and just about everyone who isn’t deaf knows them, too.

“You don’t understand music,” he always tells me, but what he means is, “You know a shitload more about it than I do,” so I keep my mouth shut and listen to him, settling against my longing to leave like it’s another lover, a more patient one than him, this would-be musician singing in a destroyed living room.

The winter night looms outside the windows, waiting to creep in when the lights are off and we’re in bed, clothes scattered through the place, his hands wandering across my body, re-staking his claim to make sure my dream to get the fuck out of this town doesn’t come true, the dream where I grab what I can, cram it in Mama’s pink and brown suitcase and shove his old car in gear, willing it to work at least across the state line.

The Opposite of Rainbow (with Commentary)

This is just plain silly.

The Opposite of Rainbow (with Commentary)

She peered from the window
into the shadow-laced street
and wondered aloud… “What the hell is this? This isn’t the opposite of rainbow. Is that even possible, or is that just some shit you came up with when you were high?”

Lights popped on like new thoughts,
but the shadows merely shifted,
digging deeper into themselves,
and she took a breath…and said, “This is the worst fucking poem in the history of poetry, and I mean that goes back to whatever the hell passed for rough drafts with the Egyptians, like maybe they chiseled some shit and said, ‘Wait, that’s the symbol for a bird. That doesn’t work here. What the hell’s the symbol for water? Dammit! I wish we had a real alphabet.’”

The opposite of rainbow had come,
invisibly snaking its wake through the night,
its knowledge of color only a memory,
and the girl at the window remembered, “That she has better fucking things to do than listen to this! Get me out of this dumbass poem and let me go about my life without rainbows or whatever their fucking opposite is!”

She was free of rainbows,
their opposites, the lights,
the shadows, the memory,
and she knew

“How is this still going?! The end! Go write something else, you miserable hack! Leave me alone!”

it was, finally, over.

Heh. I plan to write a song called The Opposite of Rainbow which will, undoubtedly, be melancholy.  So it goes.

Cutter (flash fiction)

“I need to feel something,” Lauren said. She wanted me he to cut her. I didn’t want to, but the pain in her eyes convinced me. I knew the relief would be more powerful if I did it. I sighed and reached for the knife I’d sterilized earlier.

“Where?” I asked quietly. We were naked in bed. The outline of her breasts showed through the thin sheets, but I didn’t get hard. There was nothing sexual about this, for either of us.

“On my upper arm,” Lauren said, turning her head away from me. She didn’t like watching me cut; she liked the surprise of the pain, the sting that opened the floodgate. Carefully, I pulled back the sheet. I kissed a spot right above her left bicep before I pressed the knife into her flesh.

I heard her draw a sharp breath, followed by a moan of pleasure. The blood, bright red, trickled down her arm. I grabbed a tissue and blotted it away and asked, “More?”

“One. Right below.”

I made another precise cut . Again, Lauren drew a breath and moaned. She began crying. “Thank you,” she said, turning over after I cleaned off her arm, rubbing it first with alcohol, two dabs of Neosporin and finally applying two small Band-Aids. This was the way things had been since I took over most of the cutting. If she insisted on continuing it, she would do it safely. I tried not to be angry with her when I discovered untreated, uncovered cuts. She liked to cut her the back of her neck, and the wounds would turn angry if I didn’t catch them.

The sun had fallen by the time she curled into me. Her eyes, clear from pain, looked sleepy. “Thank you,” she said again.

“You’re welcome,” I told her and kissed her. She leaned into the kiss, but I knew sex was out of the question. That was OK. I’d already caused enough destruction.

Endless Harmony

When I heard the news that the Beach Boys were reuniting for a new album and world-wide tour, I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be. Of course, there are those out there who wonder why a 38-year-old man would be pumped up to see the Beach Boys. If you’ve seen them perform over the last twenty or so years, then you know perhaps it’s best to curb your enthusiasm. But now to explain why I have any enthusiasm at all.

My father raised on the Beach Boys’s music. The house wasn’t filled with Beach Boys tracks all the time; there were breaks for Blue Öyster Cult, the Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Steely Dan, and many more than should fit in this blog. Still, one of my most potent musical memories is my father harmonizing with Brian Wilson and company on…oh, let’s just pick one. “Heroes and Villains?” “Vega-Tables?” “Sail On, Sailor?”  Beach Boys’ music got into my brain and re-wired it. Along with that, I know about the drama surrounding the Smile sessions and the acrimony between Brian Wilson and Mike Love, but not in this post.

Brian Wilson said last year in an interview last year that he was open to a reunion, but I didn’t think it would happen. I thought it might have been too painful for all involved. Dennis and Carl are dead, for one thing, and the Beach Boys without Carl is just sad. Sad, sad, sad.

Tickets are already on sale for a lot of venues on the tour, and I’m curious to hear what comes of the current line-ups’ (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and David Marks) new album. If nothing more, I see future blogs about the Beach Boys coming up, so steel youselves. I’ve also tinkered with the idea of a short story collection based on Smiley Smile, and the news of this reunion might just be the thing to start me off.