Lady by the Buffet
Sitting alone at the Christmas Disco, Eddy Price was ready for bed. As usual, the whole thing had been nothing but a meat market. Single people had magnetised towards each other, lips creeping closer and hands venturing where they wouldn’t usually dare. Drinks flowed, or spilled in Franny Hill’s case –tipsy since 3 o’clock – and everyone giggled away like it was the first time they’d heard Brett Watson’s stale jokes. The singletons were having a great time, destined to share a taxi home. Even Colin Marshall – with his rubbery face and milk-bottle specs – had managed to find himself a suitable match; Rubie Silk from accounts with her never ending, never-stop-jiggling bingo wings. Yes, everyone had pulled tonight. Everyone… but Eddy.
Eddy struggled with the opposite sex. Continue reading
The cheetah came from behind the shrub at last. It sauntered, it seemed to the boy, like a king entering a throne room. When it reached the hill it hopped atop, with its long tail wagging and its thin legs lunging as though without effort. It stood on the hill with the left side of its body fully displayed to the boy and with its face watching him.
Long ago, the boy could not remember when, but long ago, when his pretty mother had been fond of playing children’s games with him, he had asked her why it was that the face of the cheetah was permanently etched with black tears. His mother had not known the true answer yet she had still given one to him. It was some old tale that spoke of the majesty of the lion and the humility of the elephant. Continue reading
Magdalene introduced Jesus to her colleagues as a friend, one who shared the same concerns for the future of the planet and the fate of mankind. Here was a man sensitive to contemporary problems—a defender of the weak and oppressed, yet unafraid of the powerful. In short, here was a comrade whom they could count on in the coming green battles.
Jesus’s presence made Judas restless. “I’ve already met this guy somewhere,” Judas said. Where had it been? Not required to kiss him, Judas didn’t shake his hand either. He greeted Jesus from a distance and stood watching him. “I’ve seen his face before.” But, unable to remember where he’d met him, Judas stopped paying him any attention and wrote him off as being just some idiot. He had more important things to think about. He called to his colleagues and continued to explain the plan.
Convinced that the influence of the clergy in rural environments had changed very little since olden days, Judas proposed to make use of the priest of St. Martin to pass on the environmental message to the farmers during his sermons. It was therefore important to get to know the shepherd of this flock of snotty sheep in order to involve him in the transhumance against modified genes. The priest would be the intermediary between the environmentalists and the country folk, the bridge that would unite civilization to rusticity, and the beginning of the rural re-education program. In the end, something good would come from this evil GM business. Continue reading
Reimagining President Obama’s Press Conference Comments on Torture
A Different View of President Obama’s press conference of August 1, 2014
Even before I came into office, I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we imprisoned some Japanese folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And, you know, it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots, but having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. Continue reading
A Healing Place
Just prior to Gale’s death, I had gotten out of hand. I had gone on a bender and when Gale lay in bed that last time I couldn’t recall what she looked like or what I had said. My recollection of her final moments was not there. I had blacked out. And it disgusted me so much afterward that I quit drinking cold turkey.
“Sir, you need to wake up,” the hospice nurse said.
“I am awake.”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to leave.”
“I’m up. Now leave us alone.”
“I think you’re drunk. If you don’t leave I’ll have to call a security guard.”
“Look at me,” I said. Then my eyes were back on Gale. She was heavily sedated. They called it palliative sedation. I called it waiting to die. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Having to watch Gale go through the chemotherapy and then radiation afterward had been overwhelming. And when it hadn’t done it, and the cancer had returned and spread like wildfire, I believe that was what had buried me. She had dwindled so fast. Continue reading
Too Long a Sacrifice
He had been to this desert too many times – this was the first time he had come voluntarily, and he did not know why.
He never understood how people could find comfort here, with the blazing, naked, ruthless sun, unfolding flat earth, infamous winds and taste of dust; Behesht-e Zahra was a desert stuffed with corpses.
He stood above the grave of one of his students, Elnaz, killed in the post-election protests. A stray bullet had found her heart and ended her, four years ago. He was here when she was buried.
He had come back since to bury his older brother – heart attack – and to visit the grave, as well as two of his students’.
Mehdi Nosrati committed suicide shortly after the murder of Elnaz, and Ali Nejatim died years ago in a car accident.
He had visited the artists’ section and knew many people there, some of them friends, some casual acquaintances, some people he used to despise when they were alive. Some were killed during the chain murders and some had died naturally.
He had visited the grave of his father; that part of the cemetery was green and offered shade, but even the green parts felt like desert. He had visited his niece, who committed suicide. Continue reading
It felt like incarceration. There was no way out. The heat filled the room like stench and it hovered there, taunting me. I lay in bed because there was nothing else to do under the circumstances. Getting out of bed would mean facing the sweltering conditions, and this was not possible.
The fan oscillated back and forth, barely piercing the hot bedroom. It creaked each time it redirected – always sounding as though it were about to break – creating slight panic. All of the stores had sold out of fans and portable air-conditioning units. It happened every year in San Diego, for the span of a week or two, so that we were all reminded of the unbearable conditions we were so fortunate to avoid most of the time.
It was still morning. I lay in bed, the stuffiness suffocating, and it felt as though the heat intensified each time I tossed or turned. Continue reading
My brother pushes me through set after grueling set of crunches. He has a six-pack; he should be an underwear model. He runs with celebrities. Me, I’m surrounded by brown recluse egg sacs, and so many mixed emotions.
I’m hungry. I’m wearing yoga pants and moving heavy things. I’m a lot stronger than I look. My back is moon-burned. I don’t want to be a vampire who lives forever. I just want this U-Haul not to break down, and a big bowl of Oreo ice cream.
* * * * *
She spoke with a beautiful Spanish accent. “You like a drink?”
As Martin Watson zipped up his jeans, he noticed his beer-belly then glanced at his temporary host. She was precisely his type. Prague, Vegas, or here in Spain, he always chose the same. Curly red hair with freckles on the skin if possible. Full, juicy lips. And when it came to the body, Martin liked big. Big ass, big breasts. He was rather specific but believed he should always get his money’s worth. And, in Martin’s experience, the big redheads always delivered.
They weren’t always easy to find though. Dublin’s never too difficult but try finding a redhead in Mumbai. Even here, in the Spanish town of San Javier, it was tricky. Spain wasn’t known for its ginger girls. Martin, however, had been here eighteen years ago and, although the place had changed, he knew where to look. He’d successfully found a ginger Spaniard before and he’d found one again tonight. Continue reading
There on the coffee table was the colorful stack of lottery Scratcher tickets. I leaned forward at the edge of the couch, the adrenaline from the gamble swirling through me. I had coin-scraped their surfaces in jagged angles, though some Scratchers, the ones at the beginning of the session, had been scored in perfect shapes – ovals, circles, or rectangles.
That was when the fever had just begun.
Now I saw the pile of lottery tickets and their frayed bits of grey-black residue and was aching for more. It filled me with memories and sadness. It went beyond money and entertainment. Continue reading
It was just after seven. Dianna Reynolds sat in the front seat of a faded green Mercury Sable with half a bottle of vodka held tightly between her legs. She lit a cigarette with a pack of matches off the dashboard and blew smoke out the open window. Randy Whitehead leaned against the hood of the car eating spaghetti and meatballs out of a can with a plastic fork. The gentle sound of the river and a smell of fish filled the evening air. Randy Whitehead finished the spaghetti and threw the empty can into the trees. He licked off the plastic fork and put it in his shirt pocket. Then he walked to the side of the car and stuck his head inside.
“Give me a beer, Dianna,” he said holding out his hand. She reached into a red ice chest and handed him a can.
“Here,” she said indifferently.
Randy Whitehead glanced at the bottle of vodka. “You better slow down on that shit if you want it to last you.” Continue reading
Strength of will got me to Brooklyn on a drizzling Saturday afternoon. Dreadlocked kids in torn, paint-spattered jeans lugged crates of art supplies, rolls of butcher paper and large blank canvases through the oilslicked puddles on the sidewalks between their dorm buildings and their parents’ SUVs. Dutifully following behind, parents carried more practical items: lamps, bundles of shiny plastic hangers, extra long sheet sets and grocery sacks full of enough snack crackers and cereal to last several weeks. Traveling light, I had only a large duffel bursting with clothes, some books, my journal and my laptop. Anything to get away from home as quickly as possible.
When my mom called the following Monday, I told her I had found my people, my place, which wasn’t entirely a lie. I felt more at home amongst these tattooed, tortured artists than I ever did in the cultural wasteland of cow-country western Pennsylvania where I grew up, but still, I knew I didn’t belong here. As a writer at an art school, just like at home, I was an outcast. Continue reading
Nut Case. That’s what we call him.
It fits. He’s crazy. And dangerous.
Don’t get too close to Nut Case, you can hear him ticking – clicking down to another big explosion. And you certainly don’t want to be near him when it occurs.
Nut Case carries a handgun, some small-caliber thingamajig that he keeps in his pocket. It’s a concealed weapon; I guess that’s the “legal” name for it, but actually, its only function is to put holes through people. And even though it’s a small caliber, don’t think it can’t kill someone. It’s ready made for fatalities, alright. Yep, that gun is very well concealed on his person. I don’t know if I actually consider Nut Case a person, though, since I see him more as a monster – but that’s the legal name for the way he carries that gun – `on his person’. Continue reading
Americans do not know very much about the world. Historically this is partly a result of distance and isolation and partly a result of arrogance. The arrogance comes into play when Americans consider the importance or relevance of what other people are doing, since it goes without saying that Americans do everything better than everyone else. Why individual Americans find it necessary to identify with the idea of America’s greatness may be sought in their need to bolster their self-esteem in the absence of personal distinction and in their feelings of insignificance in the shadow of the American Dream. The consequence of this arrogance and the ignorance it engenders may be found in the results of America’s involvement in armed conflicts around the world. Continue reading
The exit wound is always larger than the entrance. Well, not always- bullets don’t obey rules but in my case this isn’t a bullet we’re talking about. This is tens of thousands of bullets. This is tons of ordnance dropped from the sky and buried along roadsides waiting mute and blind and seething for a convoy to roll past. My wound is a tiny white crescent moon on the web of my right hand. The white crescent of Islam, a symbol more powerful and holy and frightening than anything I could wrap my homogenized and X-Boxed American head around. It was a hot shell casing from the breech of the man’s rifle next to me. A Major assigned to train the Afghan police; he emptied all 7 of his magazines within minutes of the engagement beginning. That’s how I came to be out of the truck and in the midst of the dust and chaos of my first firefight. The Major and our squad leader next to him had gotten trigger-happy and were now calling out for fresh mags. I grabbed a bandolier off the back of the seat in front of me and ducked out the armored door of the humvee, hustling the ammo one truck length ahead to them, “exposing myself repeatedly to intense small-arms fire” as the report would later word so eloquently. I joined these two and gave them some covering fire as they reloaded, popping off about 20 rounds. At this point the searing hot brass landed right in the web of my firing hand and I yelled and shook it violently, dislodging the cursed thing, then went back to shooting up the hillside across the narrow valley. Continue reading
Mi madre says they have expression back in Mexico, Otro día, la misma mierda. I laugh and tell her they have the same expression here in América, “different day, same shit.”
Mi madre says it sounds better in español. With that I have to agree. There is something bland about the translation en inglés, as mi madre calls it, not just with the pronunciation, but in the way it reflects so well the way the Americanos live, like they have lost the ability to perceive the poignancy of their lives.
It is mi-madre’s way of telling me it has been a difficult journey, coming to this country. I wouldn’t know. I was just a baby. Hiding and staying one step ahead of the authorities is all I’ve ever known. It doesn’t seem all that difficult to me, not when living in the shadows has become a way of life. Continue reading
“ERES UNA PUTA!” Alejandro Judaz waved the gun like a child waving a flag at a parade. Marela would’ve laughed at the melodramatics on the TV screen if Miguel hadn’t been shrieking so loudly. Why did his grandmother have to be at jury duty today?
“SHUT UP BRAGUILLAS!”
Marela slammed the front door of the two-family house behind her and marched into the frigid February air. She fastened her pink scarf around her head and across her lips. She heaved a five second breath into the cloth, which caught her warm breath and kept her lower face from freezing. Her fingers clenched in and out, in and out, keeping her blood flowing through her hands.
Marela didn’t mind cold weather. She made sure to mention this when she applied to be a waver at the Freedom Tax office three weeks before. Sharon, the woman who ran the office, responded with “It’s a good thing you don’t mind the cold, especially with this cold snap they’re saying is coming on the Weather Channel.”
When Sharon finished looking over the application, she glanced Marela up and down. “OK, so if you’ll just come over here, so you can see the screen…” Marela walked to the other side of the desk. “I’m just going to show you a little video of what a waver does.” When Sharon pressed the “Play” button, she unleashed a blaring beat proclaiming “I’m sexy and I know it” and spectacular sights of hyper people in turquoise cloths and foam Lady Liberty Crowns spinning “Get $50 Now!” signs and doing cartwheels, backflips, kick-lines, and… was that waver twerking? Continue reading
I’d hit it fairly hard the previous night. My eyes were pinched, and the damn headache was piercing a tiny hole at the back of my skull. The pain toyed with me, back and forth, disappearing a few minutes but then returning sharply. I was exhausted. Normally, I wouldn’t leave the apartment before noon. At most I would sit on my front deck behind thick sunglasses, a drink in hand, watching passersby down at street level.
But today was my birthday, and my brother Teddy’s too.
My mother and brother had goaded me until I agreed to meet them for breakfast. They were first to arrive at the diner. They were tight as mother and son. And I was the outcast, though I didn’t mind. They were always talking deeply to one another, prodding and interrogating, and then listening and empathizing. They loved their white wine. They loved emotional baggage. Continue reading
“Grave the vision Venus sends” – W.H.Auden
It was a fateful decision we took on that morning to make love. I slumped in ecstasy on her body, her chiffon magenta saree raised above for my convenience. But something wasn’t right.
“You didn’t come?”
She opened her shaded lids and smiled. “It’s all right. I’ll be late, Zafar.”
“Give me a minute.” I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Shanta unsatisfied. I slid down her gleaming white thighs, and buried my tongue deep inside. It began to fork up and down. And soon she was bucking under me and moaning. The final moment arrived. Her breasts were heaving through her brocade blouse and her mascara was tinged with tears. She smiled, contented.
Shanta looked at her watch and her eyes widened with horror.
“O my God, I’ll be late! Get off me!”
She pulled on her undies, and rearranged her chiffon saree, her black and brown hair, her smoky eyes. She blew me a kiss through her magenta lipstick, and left the flat, clattering on her heels.
I loved lying naked on the bed after making love. I loved the sunlight on my body through the damask curtains; the chatter of magpies outside the window; the odour of her perfume pervading the bedroom; the taste of her lips or vagina….
It had been a perilous quickie. Obviously, she had been tense. She was on her way to a civil service viva voce. She wanted to be a public servant and give up her job as a journalist. She wanted to make a difference to the lawlessness in her country. I had remonstrated with her at first, but then decided to let her find out for herself. I chuckled…and must have fallen asleep. Continue reading
The obedient dancer enters, on pointe. A sacrifice of white, she does not realize she is already a ghost of the star she should have become.
Her veil flies behind her, wing to fuel her leaps. Her eyes, already lost to the clouds, do not notice the pews are empty as she clears them, tiny hurdles easily managed. The altar is her final goal.
She arrives, still spinning, a human blur, a top. She turns and turns, skirts flaring, but respectfully never rising higher than lone bent knee. Dizzy with belief that she belongs only to the graceful embrace of heaven, she stops, holds position a moment longer. Continue reading