Monday, April 30, 2012

Eli: Week 7- Walt and Rufus Get Serious

So I decided that these characters needed to go out in a bang. It's really an extended sketch more than a 10-minute play but whatevs... I should also give credit to Eric and Luke Christensen who originated these characters from an situational improv to scripted sketches.

1/25/10, In which I argue with myself and act like a total dweeb.

Sorry I'm so late this week, and haven't replied to anyone's stuff this past couple weeks.  Producing a show is so crazy.  I promise I will.  I'd like to subscribe to all the posts and comments so I can respond to all the writings, if I can figure that out.  Also my computer has been broken this past week which is totally awesome.  But I managed to salvage the info, where I'd been keeping all my latest documents, so I can still post what I was going to post on Thursday.

Back to the blog this time.  If you liked reading the parts about my faults and foibles last time, you'll probably like these.  I wrote these two within the space of twenty four hours.  What do you think of these following what I've shown you previously?  Are these too much?  Would they hold attention?  Or should I do something else? Here goes:

January 25, 2010, Part One:  In Which I Have a Long Argument with Myself

Hi again Ganymede.  Yes, I realize I have been concerned with my opinion of the judgment of others- it is because I have butted heads against it recently that I bring it up.  I have heard some fairly awful things directed at me, and, while I might know myself to be myself, and know that I am just me (and I personally am okay with that)- I have heard very many negative things about myself!  One might say that because I don’t do much else other than exist, it might seem as though I share the opinions of others in their judgments- including that I have a low self-esteem as they think.   I only agree insofar as I am everything.  Then, yes, I must agree with them because I am them, and I am somewhat disappointed.  But I am also just a person who still exists as me no matter what the judgment of others, and I have you, Ganymede.  And I do believe you recently told me about how my emotions are exacting a price from me, I feel crushed, and how I need to quickly find a peaceful environment so that I can heal.  Well, what else is new, Ganymede?  Christ.  Though I do not believe anything is impossible, I do not know how to find that peaceful environment, Ganymede, so it seems impossible.  For now.

You reminded me that I am always trying to make a good impression on others, though of course you say I doubt I succeed.  I say- that is true- everyone wants to make a good impression because everyone wants love and comfort and safety.  Or, at least, their egos want it- their false selves they carry around the place.  At the same time, we want to seem above that- we want to seem mature and independent.  Yet when we do not get that love, some of us turn into psychopaths… I wonder if that is quite how Cain felt.  Cut off from being judged favorably and all.  Why should one make the choice not to act as Cain did?  Why should one act in love instead?  Because, if I do act as he did, I am hurting myself.  I know I don’t need others to have a favorable judgment of me or my ego to exist as me- it just makes one more comfortable in their living situation.  But, I must exist without that- I am still me, and alone, and rather dissatisfied with this reality anyway.  And I try to remind myself not to act as petulantly as Cain.  But that doesn’t mean things have improved yet.  We both know that.  And I must also remind myself not to let it delve into the kind of “giving up” acceptance that I channeled once when it backfired, or when it offended me so.

You tell me that I feel I have the right to everything I hope and dream of, and become annoyed and helpless when things don’t go my way.  Well, sure.  Who doesn’t feel that way?  And why should I not?  I value myself even if no one else might… yet, I do feel annoyed and helpless a lot.

You say I feel my failures are no fault of my own, but due to the shortcomings of others.  I suppose, if by that you mean my external reality being those others.  But basically you accuse me of playing the victim.  So be it- I could play that game of “I’m so awesome I’ll rise above it”- but why should I, especially when for the most part I don’t know how?  Other than, once again, some vague hope for improvement as a result.  Besides, yes- though I know that everything is in some way my fault, I know that I didn’t mean it.  It is as though it were the fault of another, so far as I am concerned- or an accident.

You say I feel I am getting less than I deserve; however, I make no effort to change things, and I try to make the best of the situation.  Exactly.  And is that so wrong, either?  Is one way better than the other?  Why expend worthless energy pushing around sand one way instead of the other?  Especially when I don’t think I know how.

You say I am self-centered.  You say I am so very often offended, which leaves me feeling isolated.  This could very well be true, although I claim that since I am everyone, I am self-centered about everyone, and consider myself just as valuable as any other being, which is very.  Of course, I do always see things from my perspective.  You say, although I am able to find some contentment through my sex life, I feel hopeless to change my problems and difficulties and continue to make the best of what I have.  Yes, I often claim that I find my main source of joy in sex and love… and, my Ganymede, I am afraid I do feel hopeless.  Sorry.  Maybe that means I am broken- I broke my character!- ugh.  But then that just means you’re broken too, and could that be right?

You say I insist my hopes and ideas are realistic and achievable, but I still need encouragement and support- and you actually claim I am an optimist- but that I will set impossible and unobtainable goals for myself.  I maintain nothing is impossible.  But I do feel a bit unable to do much right now.  And others have told me my goals are impossible.  Many certainly think so.  I get enough help to get by.  Even though I feel this constant duress and suffering, which is, of course, apparently all an illusion.  Still I feel that I never receive the kind of help and encouragement that would help me make headway.  Perhaps this is fine, because only I myself can help myself- or maybe that’s the way you want it anyway.  Such thoughts are unpleasant, you know.
You say I have been extremely disappointed in the past and look at life with disgust and hopelessness.  Gosh, especially since I have apparently impossible dreams I am helpless to realize in present reality, guh. <_<

You say I need a break and a chance to recover in a worry-free environment because I am disappointed and let down, and feel there is no point in making new goals as they will leave me feeling the same way.  Again, comfort seems an impossibility even if I know it is not- I do indeed see little point in doing anything.  I only have vague notions now.

You say I am unable to accept my entirety, which leads me to act out in an aggressive and resentful way- and that, feeling a lack of energy, I do not wish to be involved in further activity or give in to demands- and that at the same time I feel powerless, causing stress, agitation, and irritation- and I demand things go my way.  Unfortunately, I do have huge problems accepting my entirety.  I wish I could control myself more in my response and not be so aggressive, but I do feel resentful- and so, I so often forget to let go of an attack rather than return the attack and thereby hurt myself.  And… yes, we’ve been over this powerless, helpless thing.  And we’ve gone over my apathy (for which I have been judged, as well!).  You do pile it on, don’t you?

Sigh.  Even if all of this may seem like a schload of vague boxes, Luken and I both agree that this is in many ways accurate.  And, while I’m fine with being a layabout, as I have given up on caring much about what it is that I do, I do still have my preferences.  Like I said, our egos want love, protection, and survival.  And so I hope for favorable impressions as do most… but I should not have to do that.  I am still me, after all.  A very disappointed me.  I suppose I wish I could function however I desire without worrying about others in the meantime- or, apparently, this world in which I keep waking up.  I used to think about that a lot.  It was only when I was about twenty two that I even started losing the delusion of hope for such things as not being here… and what disparity there is between reality and my, as Luken calls it, “wishing the air were blue” or whatever.  Well.  Here we are.

So I suppose the whole point of this discussion of judgment and my subsequent ennui is this:  I must love myself rather than hurt myself, if I desire love, since I am totality.  I do know this too:  I am perfectly capable of making the decision to meet the judgment with acceptance and transformation and diffusion, within myself and for myself, and only externally at the expense of my ego- so it doesn’t mean I’ll be happy.  It just means I’ll be doing what’s right.  So long as I can fucking remember.  Yeah, I know I’m supposed to know myself and I should be completely satisfied therein or whatever- I’m just not a very good parent for myself.

On to another topic.  I have been trying the past few days to think of some obstacles I have overcome that I enjoyed overcoming.  It is very difficult to think of such things.  Perhaps it is that my life has been easy and few things ever presented a challenge.  Perhaps it is that on the rare occasion challenge does enter my life I fail.  And then lastly I suppose it would be that, even if I were to succeed, if it were truly a good and challenging example… I unfailingly have an awful time and resent the whole damn thing.  The obstacles in a video game = fun, but they’re hardly challenging.  Life = no fun for me.  Of course, since I have been trying to learn how to accept, I have tried to view life as a challenge which is supposed to be fun and exciting.  While, by now, I accept that I am supposed to be here and that this is my destiny so long as I remain, I still remember the pain from my past and judge the present… this leaves an undercurrent of displeasure within me, even as I attempt to accept.

If I could accept everything without judging… well, I am not sure how possible that is, even though I think nothing is impossible.  I just don’t know how it could jive with the present situation.  Still, there is no way to be sure that future challenges will not be enjoyable (and as I keep reminding myself hopefully, “enjoyable because they are my destiny”), but I am still not comfortable with the past, and I don’t know that I ever will be.  And as for the present- the air is still not “blue”.  Will I ever be able to forgive either myself or God?  I don’t know.  And I still feel the displeasure in the present- I just have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have to do so.  Ganymede, you and I are still dancing our dances, however constrained, I remind myself.  And maybe that will help me to accept.

January 25, 2010 Part Two:  In Which I Act Like a Total Fucking Dweeb who Thinks She Needs a Man to Complete Herself

Wouldn’t you have guessed it, Ganymede?  The moment I finished the draft I just posted for Part I today- I finished it late last night and left it for the morning for review- Luken and I went to go get some breakfast.  And on the way, of course you gave me the opportunity to test out my ability to be okay with judgment.  And I must say- I didn’t like it.  Luken and I were discussing the nature of obstacles… we were going about it in different ways.  I presume he found disgust with my position and then he proceeded to call me all manner of names and direct all manner of curses at me.  I tried so very hard to stay quiet and not return any attacks.  But oh, he was so insistent!  He was shouting them at me for very nearly an hour.  I finally could not take it anymore- he was receding from me into a position of utter hatred for me, and shoving me away from him in every way possible.  I gave up my attempt to just be quiet and diffuse.  I attempted to bridge the gap between us, though I tried to stay conscious of every word I spoke.  It did not work immediately, and I was left to weep myself to sleep, reminded that you could tear the rug out from underneath me at any moment.  And the prospect of that depresses me to a degree that is even more dysfunctional than now.  I already had problems getting out of bed and making myself do something- if I were to lose Luken, as so extreme an occurrence had me sadly pondering though it was certainly not reality, I do not know what I would do.  Perhaps you want me to consider that.  Well, I can tell you it sure doesn’t make me happy.  Perhaps you want me to be able to accept whatever future I would have without him.  Right now, so far as I am concerned, that is a non-future.  And as it does not exist… it does not exist :)  Ah, magic.

It is not that I do not want to accept… if I accept, that makes it acceptable!  But I cannot accept when I am unhappy- I can only accept myself and try to love if I may, even if only in vague increments.  At this point in my life, if I were to lose Luken, how could I possibly accept reality?  It would be even more unacceptable than now, and to such an extreme degree that I honestly do not know what I would do beyond spending the rest of my life (hopefully a short life) in a stupor.  Yes, the thought of my fragile ego exposed to everything it hates most, lack of love, and judgment on all fronts- that bothers me too.  But what bothers me more is that I would have lost everything I dreamed of, everything that I wanted to exist- I would have finally lost the last scrap of joy I have in this reality.  What is existence without joy?  Just a burden.  A vat of sand I slough through only because it forces me to do so.  And I do not want that to be my existence.

So thank you for the apology he offered this afternoon when he woke me.  And for the yoga we did afterward.  At least with him, I have hope of some joy in life in this present moment.

Boy, is facing demons ever exhausting.  I did that in those moments, and later in reflection.  I am thankful for Luken… I am thankful that we have a home and clothes in the city… I am thankful that we can afford to eat… I am thankful we have heat and electricity… I am thankful for the date I had last night with Luken watching a piece of priceless Dionysian history before our eyes- bittersweet as it was I am thankful I saw it- and I am thankful for the beer and the tasty pizza afterward, and I am thankful for the moments you hold me in your embrace, Ganymede.  Is one really supposed to examine the prospect of losing something for which one is thankful quite like that?  It reminds me of my opinion of obstacles in general.  I know that God tears apart people all the time.  So what did I gain by facing that?  Yes, I am thankful.  But I still have all the undercurrent frothing.

So that brings us to… what?  Forgiveness?  I want Luken to forgive me, yet it seems as though he cannot.  This afternoon, I forgave him so very easily.  I knew it was the right thing to do… yet it does not mean I have forgotten.  And I know that w e have discussed how I cannot forget a lot of my past- oh, why do we use memories the way we do?  I do not need to hang on to all of these!  And there are others I would rather have in clearer detail.  Another reflection of my perception of reality- why all the bad parts and not more of the good?  I project this judgment on my life, I should think.  I am well aware of why one seeks out duality and light and dark and happy movies and sad movies… but I am left with, again, all this frothy undercurrent.

Do you want me to forgive you for that?  It is just that if you continue to have your way with what I must forgive, I always, constantly need to forgive, because the undercurrent is constantly there.  Is that kind of constant forgiveness… worth it?  Everything seems to point to that, of course.  It doesn’t change reality, so is that what you really want, my forgiveness?  If that’s what you want, it’s not as though you come out and ask for it- you come out and knock me down or something.

I know that the most effective weapon against demons is love- and I suppose forgiveness is a part of that.  So I can only hope that a forgiving attitude would defeat your attack and transmute it into something we both find agreeable. Yet, because of the notion it might not do so and might even make me suffer further, I could leave you unforgiven and even a sort of unloved in the most awful moments.  Thus my forgiveness is inherently incomplete as a result. I would love to forgive you- I just don’t want to suffer for it.  Who would choose an eternity of worse torment?  That is what I fear.  And there is no room in this fear for love, so my forgiveness must be incomplete if that is what you want.  How would you like me to keep up the forgiveness, then?  I really wish I could.  But when I suffer, I feel I have made the wrong move!  You must see that.  There must be something we aren’t doing, dear Ganymede.  But we’ll keep going.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


This might have a part 2, but here it is.  I hope you guys like it!

They snatched me off the street.  Us.  They chained us up together, twenty or thirty unwilling ducklings in a row.  We had heard of this happening, pretty girls in groups getting taken away but it seemed at an arms length. a distance away from our safe and sheltered world.  This used to be a safe neighborhood.  Used to be, my mind whispered.  Shut up, I told it.  I am going to be fine, but the gigantic rampaging elephants in my stomach said otherwise.  
They held up guns to Bernie’s head, the most fragile of the group.  We had our screams choked with fear, one emotion replacing the other, like a babushka doll, each growing larger to swallow the other up.  I could see her trembling and looked in their eyes.  I saw the truth and didn’t want her limp birdlike carcass on my conscience.  We allowed the cold shackles on our wrists, on our ankles.  None of us fought.

They brought us to a huge house, with a hilly driveway.  They locked us in a room in the back of the area, giving us the key to unlock ourselves.  I took it, unlocking everyone before myself.  Everyone was chilled, from sitting in the metal van and scared of the consequences.  There were cots lining the walls, small and lumpy but I knew we needed comfort tonight.  I slowly pushed the cots to the back of the room, making sure there were no spaces for us to fall through and that they didn’t hear this little act of defiance.  Soon, half of the room resembled a giant floating mattress.  One by one we slept next to each other, hungry for warmth
We woke up to a thump.  It was a huge packet of clothes with a typed note to be ready in twenty minutes.  I traced the letters, the sharp black angles capturing my interest for a moment before tearing the pack apart and handing it to the other.  I smelled the clothes and they smelled like pears and cinnamon.  My wondering ceased when he opened the door.
“All right chickies, time to go!” he said cheerfully with a hint of menace in his voice.  He lead us down through a chromatic hallway, his shoes clicking the ground, our bare feet relatively shy.  He opened the door, gesturing for us to go in and shot me a grin, because once again I was leading them.  A row of chairs and a pair of blue eyes awaited us and we sat, reluctant and suspicious.
He turned, his sharp movements like the letters, but his voice was gentler.
“This is simply a personality test.  It’s just a little shot and the smell will last forever, but you will all smell amazing.  Don’t worry, it won’t hurt that much,” he reassured.  But I was curious.  A smell to tell your personality?  I gasped in surprise and he looked at me and winked.  But the clothes.....
Bernie was shot first, being at the end of the row, too shy to be in the middle.  She was last and I was first so in the end I was shot last.  He carried a tray of green filled needles and simply did his job, like a robot.  The room started to smell incredible like roses and amber, vanilla and oranges, jasmine and plum blossoms, impossible combinations of wonderful strength and uniqueness.  Bernie smelled like faint roses.
Then me.  I stiffened at his touch, unused to this even in my former life.  I felt so different from back then and I knew I could never go back, only forward.  My former life it was.  He massaged my right arm a bit before shooting the stuff inside.  I felt it flow through my blood stream and I saw his eyes widen in surprise as all of the girls turned to me.  
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said, then murmured something to himself as he wrote down my “smell” on the notepad.
“Okay, it’s time for your breakfast,” he said, ushering us out of the room.

We sat “outside” heavily guarded with a breakfast buffet set in both our sights.  We were famished, but we nibbled at our food before we decided it was safe.  I bit into a biscuit, tearing off a piece and dipping into gravy.  Some diced potatoes, sausage and a glass of orange juice made up the rest of my breakfast.  Others ate croissants or muffins and there were others that didn’t eat anything at all, their fears shrinking their stomach.  

I had my suspicions but I stayed quiet knowing they couldn’t handle it.  I locked it inside my heart and hoped it wouldn’t hurt us.

The tests came one after another from emotionless doctors, all of us lined up like toys on a factory line, as if shots could make us perfect.  The “medicine” was excruciating.  Some stung like fire and then disappeared, others were a low sizzle, easily ignored but always there.  
Every night they asked us to join them in their quest for a better world, as if they could seduce us into coming with their painful shots and propaganda.  Even so, little by little we submitted.  I wasn’t the leader but everyone turned to me.  I couldn’t give in.
Holly went first, her black hair a contrast to the white trench coat they offered her.   She asked if she could give it to me and I realized she had not completely given in.  They frowned but threw it at my feet anyways.  I accepted it gratefully, pulling it on carefully like it had a secret weapon to make me give in, to make me lose.  Nothing.
It made the other stronger, not ready to lose as Megan and Dani slipped away.  Not me.  the only thing that kept me going was him.  Him with the blue iceberg eyes freezing me every time he caught me as he disappeared around the corner.  

Our scents sill stayed, but no one could smell their own.  It made everyone feel better, sleeping next to a bed of roses and cherries but I never asked for my own.  It was just something to distract me from our escape.

every night we slept in pain, wondering whether our parents knew or even cared, wondering what kind of shot they would inject next, wondering how long it would take to forget this, wondering when the hard shackles would chain us apart.
We didn’t have to wait long.

It was about two weeks after our capture and today they simply measured us and checked us out, like at the doctor’s.  We all had to undress, one of the doctor’s looks making us feel like specimens, prized and dirty.  I would have sworn his eyes were black when Bernie flushed under his gaze as he said, “Get used to it sweetheart,” winking.  Suddenly the whole room was infused with everyone’s scents but everyone stared at me as the doctor hurriedly grabbed a needle, threatening us.  It disappeared.

Lunch time came and half of the girls were gone, off doing something special.  I wondered what separated them from us then looked around.  The girls here were all the prettiest, even under the bedraggled look of torture they had endured.  I almost screamed when I saw and smelled a faint acid smoke coming up from way behind the building.  I looked around.  the guards were gone, everyone was gone and I knew.  I gathered the girls, one whisper and we ran.
We ran down the driveway, the straw sticking in our feet but we didn’t care.  We ran past the gravel driveway, onto the asphalt street, onto the sidewalk, running running running.
A black guy came in sight and we screamed yelling at him to help us.  It was like we were invisible, simply ghosts.  We kept running but increased as we heard motorcycles and cars.
It was them.
“No!” I screamed.  “We can do this!” I said fiercely, determined to just keep going. But they caught us all, dragging us roughly, chaining us once again.   
We rode in the van for about another ten minutes before we saw light again.  We were in a building, gray smooth slate.  All around us girls were being dragged into vans, each unlocked then thrown into a new one.  A flash of black.
“Holly! Holly!  Help us!” I yelled, desperate for any kind of escape.  She turned, but the light was gone from her eyes and she simply turned away and I knew she didn’t recognize me anymore.  I sobbed in defeat but kept thinking.
Him.  I was at the beginning once again and the doctors yelled at him to take my jacket off and give it back to them.  He unbuttoned them slowly, pretending to fumble with the giant white buttons.
“The neck, it’s too tight isn’t it?  Like a collar,” he whispered so only I could hear.  It slipped off and I saw.  Through all the chains and the girls and the guards and the pain I could run.  I could run through those glass doors crashing through them and keep running again.  I know I could.

So I did.  He let me escape and I just jumped, crashing through the first barrier, then the second, each one shattering around me in a halo of pain but I was ready.  I escaped, not paying attention to the shards or the blood or the yelling just running.  
My head flew to the side as I caught sight of a unlocked truck.  I hopped beneath the back seat, praying I would be found by someone nice or not found at all.  I breathed, careful to not bring attention to myself.
“How could you let her get away you imbecile?!” one of the doctors screamed.  “Now they’re all in an uproar!  We should have just killed her with the rest, I don’t even know why we bothered with her.  Most of her personality get  killed because of this defiance.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have given her that jacket or said that to her friends,” another voice said cooly, holding his ground.
“Argh...” the doctor said.  “This is a huge headache.  You know what?  You can just leave and never come back.  Take the truck, I don’t ever want to see you again.”
“Gladly,” he answered and I could feel the smile behind the word,  even though I knew it wasn’t showing on his face or in his voice.
He climbed into the truck, revving it up and drove away, far away from the grounds of the awful place.
After about ten minutes he said, “You can come out now.”
I winced, scared of getting caught but remembered he couldn’t do anything.  “You knew I was here?” I asked as I got frozen by those eyes again.
“Yeah, I saw the glass and blood but don’t worry, they didn’t.”
“You should be more careful next time, but for your sake I hope there isn’t a next time.  Come sit in the front, there’s a first aid kit up here.”
“How did you know you might need first aid?”
“You smell like the ocean breeze and the forest.”
“Your scent.  It smells of adventure and bravery.  I knew you would escape eventually, so I got ready for it.”
“So you unlocked the car too?”
“Yeah,” he said running his fingers through his brown hair.  “I hated this job anyways.  It was awful knowing that....” he trailed off, not wanting to say it.
“It’s okay, I know.”
“I figured, you looked like a smart girl.  So then you knew about the...” he said, referring to today’s earlier acid smoke.
“Yeah,” I replied curtly, not wanting to bring up the idea in my mind.  I rode in silence, picking the shards with tweezers from the first aid kit, wincing every time.  I had many but they were mostly in my hands and feet.  Each one clinked against its sister, bloodied.
“So where are we going now?” I asked.
“Away.  Away from here,” he replied staring off into the distance.  And I agreed silently, falling asleep for the first time, freed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Trader - Part 3

The story is finally finished.  I realize I'm technically still behind overall, so I'll try to make up for it with extra material next week.  Let me know what you think.
            Thick trees loomed over the dirt road winding beneath them, their branches snaking across to form a jagged ceiling that blotted out the sky.  Many of them had dropped their leaves, which covered the road almost completely in some spots and obscured the bumps and divots which the car’s wheels kept hitting.  Numerous twists and turns forced Preston to drive slowly.  He squinted to see farther ahead into the darkness, hoping the fork in the road would soon come into view, but all the pale yellow glow of the headlights revealed to him were continuous walls of trees.  He glanced at the arrow on his fuel gauge creeping lower and lower and dreaded the possibility of running out of gas in these woods.  The path was too narrow for him to turn the car around, so his only option was to keep moving forward until he found the Trader. 

            Preston had lost all sense of time and bearing when the trees suddenly disappeared and he found himself in what he assumed was a broad clearing or a field.  A few moments later, the fork in the road appeared up ahead.  Preston pulled the car to a stop and looked all around for any sign of The Trader, but there was nothing to see in the surrounding darkness.  He turned off the engine and listened for the sound of footsteps or another car, but the night was extraordinarily still.  He could not hear the calls of any night birds or insects or even the whistling of the wind.  

After several minutes, Preston reached over and opened the shoe box sitting next to him on the passenger’s seat.  He stashed the wad of money, the silver pocket watch, and his mother’s pearls into one pocket of his coat, then nervously picked up the revolver and put it in his other pocket.  He inhaled a deep breath to steel his nerves and opened the car door.

            The crunch of Preston’s footsteps on the hard ground echoed in the heavy silence.  He slowly walked around the back of the car, keeping one hand on it and the other hand on the gun in his pocket as he peered into the darkness.  He could not make out the tree line in any direction; the clearing must have been very wide.  He stopped next to the front of the car and huddled close to the brightness of the passenger side headlight.  He cleared his throat and called out in a voice that still wavered despite his best efforts:

“Hello?  Can anybody hear me?” 

No answer from the eerie stillness.  Preston waited in silence for a while, but eventually impatience began to overtake his fear.  Summoning his courage, he cautiously stepped away from the car and into the yellow arc of light cast by the headlights.  He moved forward to the center of the fork and hollered into the shadows once more:

“Is anybody out there?”

He waited for a response, but there was none.  Preston began to wonder whether the bartender had played him for a fool and sent him out to the middle of nowhere to wait for nothing.  Perhaps the whole bar was laughing right now about the great joke they had pulled on the dumb kid from the sticks.  But Papa had told him to follow to the bartender’s directions, and why would Papa mislead him?  The only thing Preston could decide on for sure was that if he had to keep waiting, he would rather wait in the car.  As he turned around, a dark shape suddenly moved to block the driver’s side headlight.  Preston’s eyes shot open and he staggered back in fright.

A man was standing in front of the car.  He wore a long, black overcoat with a thick collar of dark fur and a wide-brimmed black hat, both of which cast shadows that obscured portions of his face.  But the sidelong glow from the unobstructed headlight illuminated two piercing eyes set above prominent cheekbones, and those dark eyes were fixed on Preston.

“Who are you?” Preston stammered.  “Are you the Trader?”  

 “Have you come here alone, boy?” the man asked in a gravelly rasp.

“Yes,” Preston answered.  The man responded with a nod.

“What do you want?” the Trader asked.
            “Do you know a man named Robert Davis?”


“Well, he’s my papa, and he’s really sick,” Preston said tentatively.  “He doesn’t have much time left,” Preston continued.  “He said that you had something of his, and he sent me here to…to ask if you’d give it back.”

The Trader laughed a dry, flinty chuckle.  “Give it back?” he smirked.  “I think not, boy.”

“I can pay you,” Preston offered.  He pulled the watch, pearls, and money out from his coat pocket and held them up for the Trader to see.

“Not enough,” the Trader replied matter-of-factly. 

“How much more do you want?” Preston asked.

“I suspect more than you are willing to give,” the Trader said, and he began to turn away.

“Name a price!” Preston exclaimed desperately.  “If I don’t have enough now, I’ll find a way to get you more!  Please, my papa is dying!”

The Trader paused, then he turned back to fix his penetrating eyes on Preston once more.  “Son,” he asked, “do you have any idea just what your papa traded me?”

“No,” Preston replied.

“His soul.  His everlasting soul.  So unless you can offer me something of equal or greater value, I don’t believe we have anything more to discuss.”

“But why would my papa trade you his soul?” Preston asked.

“The same reason anyone would,” the Trader answered.  “To get something that cannot be gotten by any other earthly means.  In your papa’s case, it was you.”


“Your mama was barren for years,” the Trader told him.  “It made her so despondent that one night she tried to poison herself.  She pulled through it, but your papa knew she would try again before too long, so he came to me and made a trade.”

Preston was dumbstruck.  He had never known anything about this family secret and would scarcely have believed it, but how else could this man know about it?  Why would Papa send him here if it weren’t true?

 “How do you know all that?” Preston asked the Trader.   

The Trader smiled smugly. “I don’t know, boy,” he retorted sarcastically.  “You tell me.”

            Preston considered the possibilities.  If such a story were true, Papa and Mama might have kept it from him to hide their own shame.  Or maybe they just didn’t want him to feel responsible, like he was to blame for his parents’ suffering.  He tried to banish that thought from his mind.    

“It can’t be,” he said.  “How could you…?”             

“I don’t like having to repeat myself,” the Trader interrupted.  “And since I get the impression you’re not going to make a deal, I’d say our discussion is over.”  He turned and started to stroll off into the darkness, but Preston suddenly pulled the revolver out of his pocket.

“Hold it!” Preston cried in a voice full of desperation and fear.  The Trader turned around casually and looked at the gun.

“What do you think you’re going to do with that?” he asked incredulously.

“I don’t know who you are or what you think you can do,” Preston exclaimed.  “But if you have something that belongs to my father, you better give it back now!”

 “Boy, you should never turn a gun on someone unless you intend to use it,” the Trader warned.  He took a step toward Preston.

“Stay back!” Preston shouted, gripping the pistol with both hands to keep it from shaking. 

“If you’re going to shoot me, shoot me,” the Trader said.  “But then we definitely won’t make a deal, and what will become of your poor papa?  And after all he’s done for you…”  He took another step forward, then another.  Preston felt himself edge away in retreat, but he bit his lip and tried to stand tall.  The Trader sneered and raised one black-gloved hand, pointing his finger like a gun at Preston.

“Bang,” he hissed.

Suddenly, the pistol in Preston’s hands blew apart.  He tumbled backwards, and it seemed like the Trader had a hand over his throat to pin him down the instant he hit the ground. 

“You’re not too smart, boy,” the Trader growled.  “If you’re going to threaten someone to get what you want, you better be sure you can make good on your threats.  It looks like our little negotiation is not going to end very well.”

“Wait,” Preston wheezed frantically.  “What if I trade you mine?”

The Trader relaxed his grip on Preston’s throat.  “Trade me your what?”

“My soul,” Preston answered.  “Mine for my papa’s.”

            “Is that a serious offer?” the Trader asked.

            “Yes.  If I’m the reason Papa gave up his, then I owe him mine, so you can have it.”   

A smile slowly spread over the Trader’s lips.  “All right then, we have an even trade.  Let’s drink to it.”

He removed his hand from Preston’s throat and reached into his coat to withdraw a silver flask.  He unscrewed the cap and took a deep swig, then he extended it to Preston and said, “Go on, boy.  Seal the deal.”

Preston slowly took the flask from the Trader’s hand and raised it to his lips to drink.  Whatever it was he swallowed burned his throat like hellfire.  He coughed and gagged, but he felt the scalding heat slide down into his belly and smolder.  The Trader laughed, and the deep, harsh sound rang in Preston’s ears.  Then the fire in his belly subsided and his breath returned.

“Go home, boy,” the Trader said as he rose to his feet.  “Your papa has his soul back.  But don’t you ever forget our deal.”  With that, he stepped over Preston and disappeared into the shadows.  Preston slowly got up, his mind still reeling like he had just woken up from a bad dream.  He staggered back to the car and cast one more look around at the darkness before getting in.  He still could not fathom where exactly the Trader had come from or gone to, but he felt reasonably sure the man would keep his word.  Preston fired up the old Six, whipped it around the fork in the road, and headed back out of the forest.

            The sun was just rising when Preston pulled up under the lean-to at home and breathed a huge sigh of exhausted relief.  He lifted the shoebox containing Papa and Mama’s valuables and hefted his tired body out of the car.  After a night of no sleep, his bed was going to feel really good.  He made a mental note to sneak Mama’s pearls back into her drawer at the earliest opportunity before going to sleep.

            “Mama, I’m back,” he called as he entered the front door.  He started down the hall toward his parents’ bedroom but stopped when he saw Mama appear in the doorway.  Her reddened eyes had a hopeless look and her cheeks were streaked with fresh tears. 

            “Where were you?” she sobbed.  “Why were you gone so long?”

            “I was doing something for Papa,” Preston replied.  “How is he?”  When Mama could not reply, he slowly walked past her into the bedroom.  He found Papa lying motionless in bed, his eyes closed and his chest totally still.  Preston froze in silent disbelief.

            “He slipped away in the night,” Mama whispered in a cracking voice.  “He seemed peaceful at the end, like he knew everything was going to be all right.”

            Preston stood frozen in silent disbelief.  This should not have happened; he had made the trade.  Had Papa died before he reached Thunder Bay?  Or had the Trader simply cheated him and broken their agreement?  Then it dawned on Preston that he had traded for Papa’s soul but not his life.  The Trader had honored his end of the bargain to the letter and no more.  Preston’s heart sank as he realized the enormity of what he had done.  He thought of Papa’s panicked pleas the night before and imagined himself speaking those words, terrified by the knowledge that his own soul was forfeit.  He felt himself begin to tremble.

            “Oh, Preston,” Mama wept, and she threw her arms around him.  “Be strong, son.  We’ll find a way to carry on.  We’ll have to find a way.”

            “Yes, we will,” Preston whispered, but the words felt hollow to him.  He had no idea how they could carry on or how he could take care of Mama or even himself now.  Then a thought crept into his mind, a plan that was deeply unsettling yet very simple.  He unwrapped Mama’s arms from around him and turned to face her.

            “Mama, I need a favor.”      

Copyright (C) 2012 by Eric Landuyt

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Introduction, a Poem and a Short Story

Yep, me again, Volanta.  (Skip down to the poems if you don't want to read this, it's quite boring.)  I am a female, Asian, my name comes from the french word volant meaning capable of flight.  I believe in the power of naming things, once you name something, it is.  If you call someone nice, suddenly everyone starts to see their niceness.  Make sense?  You only notice something if pointed out, so I whole-heartedly believe I am metaphorically capable of flight.  Whether it's in what I do or who I am, that's just me.

Currently, I am in high school as a freshman, fourteen years old.  I have a hard time actually persevering and keeping up with the same things over and over before I get tired of them.  The one thing that hasn't been like that is writing.  Writing to me is a myriad of thoughts and gems, each one unique, whether its a book or a poem.  Writing them is making the tiny gem sparkle but who wants to hide a gem?  No one, we each want our gems to be praised and shined upon, no matter how many actual cracks there are in it.  For me, writing is also a way of expressing myself, whether it's secretly or publicly.

Here are this week's poems thanks to not-paying-attention-in math-and-science-class.

Is this really you?
or have you been replaced?
How can this monster
have your beautiful face?
If that's you,
I love and hate you
whoever you are.
The old you comforted me
and then you ate my heart.
How can I love you
when I only know your name?
There is nothing stopping me
from running from this place.
So why do I stay?

I strung along my feelings,
one by one by one.
I shook them up and wore them
out into the sun.

They glimmer and they gleamed.
They scowled and they hate.
I bare my feelings on my sleeve
and keep walking out the gates.

My emotions are invisible
to all including me.
The people's words, they poke and prod
and still they are not free.

I did not stop to rest.
I did not stop to chat.
The people here are all so still
but still I keep my hat.

Walk with me and try to see
beyond the straw and ribbon.
Be my friend and maybe you'll know
past what has been given.

The people here are all so still.
All so fake.
All so real.
The people here think they can feel
All they know.
They aren't healed.
The people here always kill
with their words
just until.
The people here think they're real.
Not at all.
Their fate is sealed.

She stood like that, a faint smile on her face like she already knew the outcome of her situation.  She leaned against the brick wall, tapping her toe to whatever beat her head phones were trickling into her ears.  Her taps were faint, but her eyes carried such strength they could blow you away had you been staring long enough to catch the black pupil in her chocolate eyes.  She had long thick hair, hair to hide behind, hair to sweep away, hair to be blown in the incoming wind.  It was a dark black, reflecting the sunlight as she twisted her head away to hear a noise that caught her attention.  She wore a scuffed old pair of yellow converse, like faded sunshine, a contrast to her dark blue jeans.  Her t-shirt was simply a cacophony of colors, twisted, marbled, faint and bold.  Like her, she would say if you asked.

She put her headphones around her neck and like clockwork to the tapping of her foot, another set walked in.  He was different, almost as if out of place.  His demeanor was nothing like her cool calm one, an ocean of peace but still ready to clash, his was more like a softly sighing willow tree, scared yet determined to survive.

"Hey Mox," he said with an edge of confidence, but his tentative position gave it away.  She gestured to the empty expanse of the wall next to her, covered in a slight layer of dirt, looked at it, and instead chose a nearby bench.  He followed her and they sat their awkwardly for a second, like an out of place couple who had just been kissing, only to have someone walk in.

"So how was your day, Shane?" she asked, trying to patch up the hole the silence had caused.

"The usual," he replied, his eyes darting to the side, as if nervous wanting to escape from this moment, or bored like he had something else to say or do.  Perhaps both.

"Look, why won't you just date me?"

"Because I don't want to," she replied, still at ease in her surroundings like she was off daydreaming.

"I would, I could give you everything," he begged.

"But I don't want everything," her eyes pleaded, pleaded for him to understand what he couldn't.  What he never could.  Silence.

"Why won't you love me?" he finally whispered out.

Her faint smile grew a little bigger.  "Because you'll never understand and that's exactly why I can't."

She walked away, her yellow shoes attracting more dust as Shane sat there pondering her words.  Her hair swished against her back as she calmly freed herself from his tumbled thoughts, like a mirage vanishing.

Then Shane knew she was right.  That day he finally walked away and slipped into the brick building where his love once stood against, leaning against the wall, tapping her foot to the music only she could hear.

So there you have it, I hope you guys enjoy!  If not, there's always next week right?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Eli- Week 6: Welcome to the Machine.

Hey y'all. So I'll be posting Week 7 in the next day or so. I got behind after injuring my back at work but now I have your posts in paper form and can get you feed back for a lot of your past posts.

Eli Week 6:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Itareña: Chapter One

(And now for something a little different... fiction I wrote only today!  A dream came to me last night of like Tolkien breadth and length... it deserves to be written.)

James Gillefear would always remember this day in perfect detail. There had never been such exciting news in the little town of Zerhu. There were barely enough homes and businesses gathered together on that farmland to be called a town at all, and one could say that, except for the summer festival, there was never anything to do except watch your crops grow. Everything and everyone always seemed to stay the same, changing and growing only as the cycles of nature necessitated: Just as the crops would grow, bear fruit, and whither and die, so too did the people. There were no very prosperous persons in town, but there were none in poverty either. Everyone lived a comfortable, safe, healthy life, for the most part.

Yet on that day, change came. It was finally time to shake up Zerhu until nothing would be the same- just as a farmer would change out his crops to keep the soil fresh. For even if Zerhu's citizens lived comfortably and safely- not everyone was happy. There is always room for improvement in the world, and there certainly was in this town.

James yearned for this change, though he couldn't quite put his finger on what exactly he wanted. He only knew that he couldn't stay. He knew that he had never really been happy here. He was spending another day meditating upon this, within the embrace of his family's grapevine at the rear of their backyard orchard- that little space in the vines where he'd often played as a child. The vines were so thick there you couldn't quite see through them on most sides, but they left enough space for a child to play. There was a wall on one side thanks to a shed, and wire fences on the others to provide structures for growth. The vines pressed against James' arms now as he stood in that little space, looking out over his neighbor's rock garden.

Every cell in his body wanted to leave this town, even if he didn't know what he'd do with himself once he'd left. And why should he leave? Here he would be safe from the vagaries of the outside world; here his family would care for him. But there was something wrong with this place. Though it seemed idyllic and heavenly, the population was not comprised of angels. Rather, he saw them as demons. Perhaps they did not mean to be cruel, but ignorance is a leading cause of demonic activity.

It was not that Zerhu's citizens were physically violent towards one another, at least not past a little domestic violence here and there. No, it was just in the way everyone had an attitude that “I am the best and everyone else is a sinful infidel.” This expressed itself through indifference, cheating, escapism, ubiquitous verbal abuse, and even the mayor's disregard for the deteriorating state of the lagoon. James knew that, in time, this oversight would cause health problems among a portion of the population, but the mayor could not be bothered about it- she'd lose money. It would interfere with her son's hog business- she wouldn't make them relocate just to keep the lagoon cleaner. So everyone ignored it.

What lurked so stagnantly underneath everything that caused the world to be this way? Why should people so blessed by the gods, in such a beautiful place, with the most fruitful soil in the world, be so hideously awful to themselves and one another? James couldn't put his finger on it, and he couldn't figure out how anyone could ever fix it. Even his family was poisoned by this prevalent way of being. James knew that he himself had also given in to this behavior on occasion. He supposed it was a natural reaction, even if he didn't want to do it. Maybe- maybe if he could get away, he could be a different man. Maybe there was another place, somewhere in the world, that was not like this.

It was the end of spring, and the summer festival was still two months away. James had only just returned home a little over a week ago. He was one of those few people who would travel away to the city for higher education. Most people in the farm country of Raops never bothered, and would go to work on the farm having or having not finished grade school. Still, the affluent in other, larger communities far away, or the occasional gifted youth of at least some means would travel to study at greater institutions of learning. James wasn't rich, but he may have been considered affluent compared to those not lucky enough to live in Raops, where the country's government was able to make sure that almost everyone's needs were met. Everyone could live comfortably if they wanted. At least, all the farm children. The city was a different story. Not everyone there was so lucky. James had seen this when he'd gone to live there.

James had been teased for preparing himself to go to school, but really, he would have been teased whether or not he had been intelligent and ambitious. He would have been teased for things he did or did not commit, for things he was or was not, as everyone was teased. When he returned from school, he had discovered that, of course, things had been the same for his younger sister.

He'd last seen Jeannie when she was seven. Hardly fully formed enough for James to have been interested in her personality, or at least he'd thought so. Now she was fifteen. Not yet marriageable, but old enough for suitors. She had none. She hadn't gone off to school as he had done, but hoped to do so upon his return, for then there would be enough money, with him staying and working at home. That is, if he decided to stay home. If not, she'd have to save up some more herself, because their family would have to support the both of them. James would need a little help getting out the door and getting settled elsewhere. James had discovered that Jeannie had entered the same situation he'd lived through, when he'd stumbled upon her diary a few days ago. He couldn't resist reading a little, but it soon became too uncomfortable, and he'd put it back down after only reading a few pages of her awkward teenage poetry, in which Jeannie expressed her intense desire to get away from it all.

But of course James would leave. He couldn't stay here. He couldn't stay here even another month. He needed to get away from it all, too. He'd sworn to himself last night that he would never come back, either- not until he'd made something of himself. Enough of himself that, when he did come back, he'd have a wife, and he could stay somewhere on his own, independent of his family. He'd sworn that to himself, because he didn't ever want to be near his mother again- not alone, vulnerable, and under her roof, anyhow. He'd want the distance, and the company, for protection. She'd been so angry with him last night. She'd thought he was possessed by demons after trying to tell her some of the things he'd learned while he was away. Perhaps he'd expressed certain things a little too vehemently, and he should have respected her right to her uneducated opinions as opposed to his own. But he knew she should never have held him against the wall, choking him like that. Luckily, she had backed down. He was about half her size, and would never have survived had she not chosen to do so. Yet in those few immobile moments that seemed so long, he had learned many things. He had learned that the world was capable of doing anything to you. He had learned that it wouldn't hold back just because something shouldn't be happening.

As James' thoughts fed upon themselves and ran in circles, leaving his mind far from the silence true meditation required, pondering what he should do with his life for the ten thousandth time, for the twelfth time in the last twelve days, for the third straight hour as he stood outside- he saw it. The first glimpse of something bearing what would change his life forever.

A motherfucking spaceship.


I've been really late too, and will hopefully get back on schedule this week (be sure to look back, as I'll probably have comments on past pieces soon). In the meantime, to make up for the three that I missed, poems!


What if I’m making her squeam in her chair?
What if my arm’s hurting her poor shoulder?
What if she minds those red shirts that I wear?
What if it leaves… the smile I left on her?
What if she does not adore my parents?
What if my parents just don’t adore her?
What if I made my thoughts too apparent?
What if she finds the poems I wrote for her?
What if she’s lying for fear of feelings?
What if she’s doing this all out of spite?
What if they’re always cold and begrudging?
What if I’ve done no wrong, but she’s still right?
What if they find out I’m making this list…
What if I’m thinking too much about this?


shielded dark rain
searching for friends
Am I retarded?
after all
                                                                                                      nobody seems to do these things but me
                                                                                                                        and i’m still standing in cold


I awoke from dreaming my ex’s non-existent baby was aborted. First instinct was to go for my phone’s mind-blinding light, but today I’ll try awake. An hour later, I collect enough desperation to move hollow muscles out of the bunk and navigate to my lazy hard chair. I feel the needles on the floor that bar entrance to any friend I’d ever consider letting in. My roommate either doesn’t care or notice them, or is as stupid as I am.
On a failed to-do list is to take medicine, call back psychiatrist, do extended chemistry, save world. But I’m too something to do anything. I’ll dive into hard, cold circuses and continue to forget something I’ve already succeeded in forgetting. I’m my own man now, free from fantasies of social justice and goals. I turn to the laptop and sleep the rest of the day.