Saturday, March 31, 2012
Our room has changed. One wall is entirely blank except for a small flatscreen TV hanging in the middle of it; no more art or furniture, just a black box suspended in a white void. The carpet is the kind of dull blue-grey stuff found in waiting rooms and under cubicles. The upholstery on the chairs actually does look nicer, but it feels too plush and corporate. We never had much use for the chairs anyway.
The bathroom floor tiles have gone from dark brown to navy blue, as has the oversized bathtub. They replaced the caulking between the tub and the floor; no more open passages for spiders like that one that crawled out while we were bathing. You made me toss it out the window instead of killing it; I wonder if it ever found its way back inside, whether its children still live inside these walls.
The shape of the place is the same, but it looks like we were never here. That we never snuck away to this room to experience each other. That we never made love in this bed and in this tub and on this floor. Everything has been stripped and scoured, repainted and replaced. There is a new maroon bedspread in place of the old forest green one. Even the pillows are new, and somehow they don’t feel as firm.
I know I was naïve to think this place would never change, but I still hoped to find it at least close to the way it was, that there would be something left here to make it feel like it was still our place. But why should this one spot remain the same when the world keeps moving on? No one has any reason to care about the memories of two little people except those two little people themselves. Besides, there aren’t two of us anymore. Nothing is ours now; it only was ours once upon a time.
I am alone now. I am alone in a hotel room that just happens to bear the same number as the one we stayed in years ago. It belongs to someone else now.
Copyright (C) 2012 by Eric Landuyt
It was a well known secret about what goes on at the third house on the right from the reclamation building. It wasn't a good neighborhood, so the influx of people who came and went and never stayed more than a few hours couldn't be attributed to wanting to see the sights.
So it blew my top off when the cute girl I met in the Maenon Cafe claimed that house as home.
“...and that's when she said, that's not a monkey! That's my grandpa!”
I let out a peal of raucous laughter, slamming my hand on table for emphasis.
If there were bugs on the moon, I would have said her eyes bugged out, “Okay then,” she glanced at her wrist. “Its getting late. I should be getting home.”
I was being blown off, “Let me at least walk you home, Its dark outside and I don't want you to get hurt or anything.”
“That's really not necessary...” I cut off her protest.
“It really is. I want to take you home.”
I watched her pause, considering how best to ditch me?
“Please. My father raised me to be a gentleman, to always make sure that a girl gets home safely.”
I saw her acquiesce. “Okay, but I'm warning you, I don't live in some fancy place. And my family isn't all that usual. Certainly not like the chairman of the lunar planning committee.” she threw her thumb over her shoulder at the portrait of my father that adorned the walls of every business in the colony.
“Don't judge me on my father.” Great. Not another girl chased away by my overbearing ever present father. “I mean, he's a great man, but he's not the most helpful in my relationships.”
“No need to apologize...”
“I wasn't apologizing.”
“Fine, no need to explain.” I was really really screwing this up. “I understand being judged by your family.”
“Come on, I'll walk you home.” She tucked her hand in the crook of my arm.
We walked past the conversion buildings, “I used to spend hours in there on weekend. My dad would come into work and leave me to wander around. One of the areponics guys found me wandering around the sludge room, and he showed me how the whole process. Growing the algae for oxygen, turning waste into fertilizer to grow more algae...the circle of life.”
“I bet there are fewer lions and tigers and bears.” She grinned, smashing her body into mine, making me struggle for a minute to regain my footing in the lower gravity.
“Plenty of algae lions. I'm sure.” I snarked back.
“Oh, we need to turn here.” She pulled me down an alleyway. “Its shorter.”
The walls turned into smooth, featureless blanks. “Uh... I'm not sure we're supposed to be back here. Isn't this the maintenance passageway?”
“Yup.” She drug me by my arm, running out in front and jerking my limbs along for the ride.
“Maintenance areas are for authorized personal only!” I tried resisting, but found myself overpowered.
Again that infectious giggle. “Oh come on Reggie, live a little!”
“My father will kill me if he knew I was back here.” I grumbled, only a little.
We came to a certain section of wall, no different than any other, but she found a slight catch and clicked open a panel. “Home sweet home.” We passed through the open door and into a world of wonderment.
The walls were draped with bolts of richly colored fabric in various textures, with glints of gold running throughout the fabrics. “Holy...crap.” I gasped.
“That's what everyone says the first time.” She said, reaching over a marble top bar and grabbing a couple bottles of water and throwing one at my chest.
I gaped around the living room, taking in all the elaborate and rich details that decorated the small building. Far too decorous for such a small colony. As I saw scantily clad women leading men down the stairs, it finally clicked.
“This is the...”
“Yup.” She gave me a smirk as she gulped her water.
“No. I just live here.”
“Then...why?” I could barely squeak out.
“My mother...she's Lady Abigail.”
“I don't know. Before she moved her, she was already heavy with me.” She moved towards one of the overstuffed arm chairs, patting the seat next to her. I flopped down.
Above us on the landing there was a slight noise, I looked up. “Dad?” I let out a fairly un-manly squeek.
“Reggie? What the hell are you doing here?” His deep voice rumbled down the stairs and scraped up my spine.
“Walking her home! What are you doing here?”
“That's none of your business! Now go home immediately!” He had made his way to me faster than I could see and his fingers burrowed into my bicep as he pulled me to my feet and shoved me towards the front door. “You will not mention this to your mother. And you will NEVER see this...”His cold eyes scanned the girl next to me and he sneered “person, again.”
He squeezed my arm harder, “Is that understood?”
“Yes Father.” I lowered my eyes and said, “It was very nice to meet you...”
And the door closed behind me, and I was left in the cold lunar evening, alone.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
The tape spooled out of the cassette door, the last wail of the bagpipes screeched out of the beat up speakers. Fitting. Bob would appreciate the sentiment. I shoveled the dirt over the metal box in which Bob would lay for the rest of time. “Goodbye Bob. You were the best pygmy dragon a boy could know.” I brushed the dirt off of my knees and made my way to the kitchen.
“Well that’s enough of that nonsense, now will you just go and buy a new little monster? All of your crying and caterwauling is more than I can stand.” My mother’s harsh tones burned my soul as she poured me a glass of milk to go with my oreos.
“I can’t replace Bob! There’s no way to replace him! He was one of a kind!” She just didn’t get it, Bob was a pygmy dragon, a rare breed of an extinct species…of course he would be nigh impossible to replace, as if I would want that.
This note is to inform the holder that Charlie the Gnome has requested your presence at a social outing of his choosing. Please respond by carrier pigeon or another outdated and unreliable mode of communication. (I suggest smoke signals). Signed, Charlie the Gnome’s social secretary.
“When did a lawn gnome get a social secretary?” I mused aloud, “nevermind that anyways, how do I get out of this date? Last time Charlie tried this, he showed up in a loincloth and kept … adjusting himself. Not to mention the fact that his idea of a ‘romantic’ evening included a trip to a strip club, and underground, illegal strip club at that!”
My friend Jerri shook her head in bemusement. “What do you expect, getting involved, in ANY way with a lawn gnome?”
Charlie hollered up the stairwell, “Come on Allie we’re going to be late!”
“I am NOT going to see Episode 1 in 3D with you….AGAIN. It doesn’t even make sense!”
“It doesn’t have to make sense! It’s George Lucas’ gift to us after years and years of no new films! He re-releases his most visually stunning movies in 3D so that we can continue to worship at the alter of podraces and double ended lightsabers!” He wheedled.
“So that’s all you need to make you happy? Flashy trash? What about substance Charlie? There’s nothing there to sink your teeth into. Why would any head of state sign a treaty that would allow mechanical beings, and / or bugs to keep a blockade around their planet, cutting off the materials and goods that her people would need to survive?” Allie slammed her door. “There is nothing you can say that will convince me to come see it with you AGAIN!”
Charlie sighed, defeated. “Not even agreeing to go see Sex and the City 3 with you when it comes out?”
Allie’s head popped out into the stairwell, “And have you sigh dramatically and fall asleep like you did last time? No way in hell. I’ll go with Bree and Lexie.” The door slammed again.
Charlie tried again, “What about going ice skating at the park?”
Once again the door opened and Charlie saw Allie’s head, “So you can complain every time you fall over on your ass? And bitch about how cold it is? I hardly think so.”
“Charlie… just give it up. There’s nothing you can offer me that will convince me to go to your utter geek-fest with you.”
“But…but… how am I supposed to get there? Mom said you’d drive me!” Charlie’s chin began to quiver, “you promised!”
Allie sighed, “Fine, but I’m not staying. I’m just dropping you off. And you have to find your own way home!”
Emerald as the isle from where he was exiled, Ernie twisted and scrunched his body across the cool surface of the table, his belly leaving a slight slime trail.
Charlie dove head first into the offal pit, scrounging through the refuse for something edible, or at least something that would not kill him upon consumption. He came up for air, exhaling a fetid stench into the cold morning air.
Lilly accessed my emotional interface, located the algorithms that conveyed love, removed the iso-chips, and then crushed them beneath her booted heel.
Adolfa mourned for the life she had once lived, being Fuhrer of the Fatherland, memories of Eva, of the party, of all the things she had done as Adolf; she allowed her eyes to unfocus and her thoughts played out in the fluids of her eyes.
Four wheels attempted to grip the sand of the road, Charlie spun the steering column with the palm of his hand.
The wizened crone bent in half from age handed me a crimson orb from the tree of forbidden fruit, knowing it could end my existance made it taste all the more sweet.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door. Civility had been defeated by sheer annoyance; Sabrina had to get away from this creep. Unfortunately for her, he was persistent as well as thick. He rose from his chair across the table and followed her out into the hall.
“I’d like to hear more about that book you were reading,” Creep said quietly, obviously using the library’s noise rules as an excuse to lean in far closer than necessary. “You made it sound really interesting.”
Sabrina quickened her strides and thought of the pepper spray canister on her keychain. No, that might be a bit excessive. At this point.
“The library has more than one copy,” she replied with what she hoped was noticeable exasperation. “You can check it out anytime.”
“Well, I’d like to check it out with you,” Creep whispered coyly. “How about a study date? If you give me your number…”
“I’m very busy right now, so I don’t think I’ll have time for that.”
“But if it’s for your class, you have to study for that, right? Come on, I’ll help you with your stuff, and you can give me a hand with mine.”
Creep clearly thought this was all just a game of hard-to-get. Sabrina gritted her teeth. The pepper spray no longer seemed quite so excessive. “I study better when I’m alone,” she told him.
“But it’s always more fun when you do it with a partner.”
Sabrina rolled her eyes at that last innuendo. They were entering the library’s lobby now, and she took note of all the other people coming and going around them. A desperate plan took root in her mind. Humiliating though it would likely be for her, making a scene might be the only way to get this guy off her back. She turned and looked Creep in the face.
“No offense, but would you just leave me alone?” Her sudden directness caught him off-guard. He tried to cover his confusion with a smirk.
“What? What did I do?”
“Well, aside from the fact you can’t take a hint, that pickup line you opened with was one of the dumbest ones I’ve ever heard. You won’t get anywhere sounding like a creep and an idiot.”
Creep’s smirk fell into a frown. He shifted uncomfortably and started blushing. The message had finally gotten through. Sabrina was about to make her long-awaited escape when Creep scowled at her and indignantly fired off one last volley.
“You know, if you don’t want guys checking you out, maybe you shouldn’t sit around reading the Kama Sutra!” he hissed. Sabrina flushed and wheeled on him.
“For the last time, you perv, it was the Bhagavad Gita!”
Sabrina’s bellow echoed off the smooth walls of the lobby. Every other person nearby froze in
astonishment. Creep glanced around nervously and realized they were all staring at him. He gave Sabrina a parting glare and stormed off in a humiliated huff.
Mortified though Sabrina was at her outburst, she still had to breathe a deep sigh of relief. Now to make her own escape with whatever dignity she could salvage. She turned to finally leave the library but stopped at the sight of a middle-aged librarian with a stern expression approaching.
“Is there a problem?” the librarian asked.
“Not anymore,” Sabrina sighed. “That guy just really didn’t know his Indian literature.”
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
In a tiny filling station in the darkest, loneliest part of the smallest town in east Texas, was a lone red box machine.
The filling station had long ago passed into disuse, the windows were dusty, when they were present at all. And a variety of animals had begun to use the shelves and refrigerated cases as their homes. Generations of soft and furry animals had begun and ended their lives in the filling station. Chewing through the wires and drywall, creating weapons of twisted and tangled wire, armor of candy bar wrappers and drywall. Forming bands, raiding out further and further from their tiny, dilapidated home to search for food and goods.
Anchuk, the leader of the raccoon's band was braiding his wire whip, and twisting bits of scrap metal into his tail.
“Another accomplishment Anchuk?” a wizened old raccoon with grey fur asked, leaning on her cane made of wire shelf.
“We have recovered another of the cases. There will be many peanuts this winter.” Anchuk added a final, elaborate twist to the end of his whip.
“Why that is a reason to celebrate Anchuk! Why did you not inform the councils of Elders of your triumph?” The grey raccoon asked.
“We needed to regroup and take care of our wounded. The world outside the station is still a very dangerous place for beings our size.” Anchuk responded, jumping to his tiny claws. “And I am telling you now. Arrange a celebration if you wish.”
All of the tribes of the filling station were gathered around the community bonfire that night. The rhythmic drumming and clanging of the musicians instruments and the dancing of the children and unattached raccoons created a merriment that filtered out of the broken windows and caused the redbox machine to begin to glow.
The Eldest called for silence, and the children crawled forward to sit at her feet. “Long ago, before the station became our home, the raccoons lived outside, in the trees and among the grasses. It was not safe to be a raccoon. But all of a sudden, humans began abandoning this station, and soon enough, it was empty. And our ancestors formed a hole and moved inside. At first there was food a plenty, the humans had left their station intact. But soon enough, food grew scarce. But our spirits remained high. Instead of wallowing in worry, we celebrated long into the night while our raiding parties went out in search of food. And finally, something good occurred. The big box outside, drew a person to its glowing beacon, and our food problem became no more.” The Eldest raised her hands in triumph, and a growing roar filled the station.
Outside the window, the glow of the redbox grew in intensity.
The Eldest continued her story after the roar died down a bit. “Our people gained the experience to take care of ourselves, learning how to raid further and further outside of the station. Our raiding parties have become the life blood of our people, we are beholden to them. We can never forget the contribution that they make to our lives.” The crowd gave up an even louder cry of appreciation, every raccoon was on his or her feet, hands high and stomping and clapping and screeching and clamoring for all they were worth. As the raccoons' celebration reached a climax, the redbox's glow sent out a beam of light that shot far out into the distance.
The celebration stretched far into the dark of the night, loud enough that the raccoons did not notice the approach of a figure heading to the redbox.
The raccoons' dancing and the music had whipped them into a frenzy, the unattached raccoons paired off and found themselves a secluded corner while the children tried to force themselves to stay awake.
A zzzzzaaaappp of lightning struck the redbox and the person who had been drawn to the eerie machine. The individual fell threw the front window and rolled to a stop just at the edge of the celebration, nudging a group of sleeping children. All of whom woke up, saw the dead body looming over them, and screamed.
The Eldest made her way to where the children were cowering in terror, “have no fear young ones, it is another offering from the big box outside! We have been blessed again with more than enough to survive the cold nights that are coming! The parties' contribution will last for another year. Our people are meant to survive!”
The celebration redoubled, the station glowed with the intensified fire and heat of the dancers. And the redbox began to glow again.
As dawn clawed her way over the horizon with her rosy fingers, the raccoons on watch outside the station were alerted to the presence of an approaching vehicle with flashing lights.
Anchuk sprinted back to the station from his look out post, “Elders! We need to hide, there are humans approaching!”
The Eldest grasped Anchuk's arm, “I shall gather the children, you warn the adults.”
Both of the raccoons spread the word amongst the exhausted revelers, a wildfire spread through the group, raccoons fled in every direction to hidden spaces in the walls.
The flashing lights drew closer and stopped. Anchuk peered out into the station, watching as years of his life were overthrown by boots and nightsticks. The lead human found the dead body and spoke into a strange box affixed to his shoulder. “Affirmative dispatch, I found the Mps car, and I think I found the MP too. You'll want to send a crime scene unit, and the coroner.” He turned over a wire rack, “Uh, dispatch, we'll probably want a boss or two down here too.” Anchuk covered his eyes in disbelief, the human had found the last offering from the big box outside.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
Nothing and Everything
Moving on, straight up the sidewalk,
heavy on my feet but alive in my head.
I want to vomit out what’s left inside
until I remember nothing.
Not far up the street, the lights are off in my place.
I couldn’t read her face as she shut the windows.
When she’s still, she’s like a frozen lake.
What’s left unsaid means everything.
She once told me about her nightmare of losing her home.
Maybe that’s why she stays in failing relationships.
She has been all around this big, loud city
because something bad feels better than nothing.
I’m laughing now but not because I’m happy.
I’ve finally accepted what I’ve known for a long time.
I never thought that it would be so hard,
but I used to think I knew everything.
Maybe she’s still standing there at the window.
I don’t really care if she stays this time.
We’ve repeated the same things so many times
that going through the motions now means nothing.
There’s a place by the ocean where I may go now.
It has so few people but so much life.
It makes me feel warm to think of staying there.
The sea eventually forgets everything.
Novelle hides her battle scars with makeup.
She calls her father Satan
because she hates the man,
yet she still receives him at her shabby little country house.
Novelle hates her money.
She has very little, but all of it comes from Satan.
She spends her nights throwing it away
in the dives out of sight of her father’s palace.
Novelle buys homemade primitive art
which Satan derides every time he comes to visit.
After he leaves, she lays on her mattress on the floor,
staring at the art on which she spent the devil’s money.
Novelle tries to escape the old family traditions
that Satan imposed upon her in her youth.
He may be old and weak and impotent now,
but she can still feel him on her back.
Novelle died on the night of Good Friday
outside the city when peace had ended.
No one knew the alcoholic devil’s daughter
was ever not herself.
Through The Doorway
I step in through the doorway
and out of the evening cold.
Lamplight reveals the lines on her face,
but her eyes are not so old.
She is still the same woman
who first led me into the fire.
I was shy then and I’m still shy now,
but I am no longer a liar.
She gently takes my hand.
I come forward to do it again.
This will not be my first time;
does that make it a greater sin?
When the condemned is executed,
I will lose one of my many enemies.
But I must hold my trigger finger
until after I am released.
I know God has always frowned
on my dishonest, cursed ways.
Rolling these dice now costs me nothing;
the cards are all fully displayed.
None of the players are talking
as the criminal loses her life.
Perhaps now my lover can be called saved
though no one ever called her wife.
I step out through the doorway
and into the cold, empty street.
I know how far I am from the border;
I must move and stay on my feet.
Yesterday is gone along with the woman
who lit the match that charred my soul.
Now I will carry nothing more
than what it costs to pay the toll.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
With 13 minutes left...