Sunday, August 21, 2011


I am super excited to present a Guest Story for the readers by Johanna K. P.
Johanna's writing is raw and personal and should be quite a treat for all that follow my stories.

She is super talented and I can't wait for her novel, THE MANICHEANS.

You can follow her work here:

Without further delay, our Guest Story.

You and I

I woke up from a dream, first looking to my left, and then to my right, just to make sure I was alright. It had been a long night of running away, not really knowing where I was going. My mind told me to just go, so I went, and I left you behind with all the others. I am so sorry, my love.

After days of waiting, the plague finally hit our little town. I was lucky to be alive. I… saw things I wasn’t supposed to witness. It happened all so fast, my love. All too fast.

I loved you with all my heart and soul. I’ll never forgive myself for what I’ve done, but there was no other way, and you knew this was my only chance at survival. I really had no choice.

I know you understand. I fear it’s too late now anyway. They said that all the victims died within three weeks of inoculation. I couldn’t wait for you to perish in my arms, and then what? Where to next? I hate feeling like this, so torn and tormented; it’s driving me crazy…

I didn’t think I’d write about this, after all these years spent working on my novel for nothing. Now am I really the prophet everybody’s looking for? I had the possibility to tell them the truth, but nobody listened. I found this empty journal on the side of the road…

I miss you so much. You and I, we were the best of friends in the whole wide world. I loved hearing your laugh, because it uplifted me from all the sorrow I had to cope with every day. You’ll go to heaven, if there’s still one somewhere… That tragedy made me rethink the whole story about hell and stuff, you know what I’m talking about. I don’t think that fire is really that dreadful in the end. Seeing everybody you love die hurts much more than a little burn.

Oh honey, I wish you could see what I see. Our small world has really turned upside down. There’s nothing left of the sanity we all pretended to have. They became animals, hunting for human meat because all the livestock is dead. Everything turned to shit. I don’t even know why I’m still standing. I want to cry but I can’t. The river has been completely drained.

I’ve got to go, my love, the journey is not over for me yet. If I make it to the coast, I’ll maybe be able to publish something after all. I heard they were looking for authors to report about the pandemic. Deep down I pray for my words to finally see the light of day, so that I can leave in peace. You know how important writing is for me. I couldn’t live without it. It is the air I breathe and the water I drink. I write out of hope, out of love and out of luck, constantly carrying this pain around… I’ll write even in death, that’s how much I want it.

You and I, we knew what it felt like to put words on paper. You were my muse, my inspiration… you were my all. You gave me a strength that nobody understood. Every night I spent alone writing was worth it, and I don’t regret being the asocial bastard everybody told me I was. Screw them all, they’re all dead now anyway. I never wasted my life the way they did. They enjoyed simple pleasures while I sought deeper joys, and I found them all once I let my imagination take over. They were too self absorbed to understand the true beauty of this world… Every time I open my eyes I see things they were blind to.

Maybe this was supposed to be my time. God put me on this earth because he wanted me to accomplish something, and I believe that my purpose is to write, so I’ll keep going until my feet can’t walk anymore, and my head is too sick to think straight. Until that happens, I’ll follow my dream, because this is who I am. In a time where everything is gone, I finally know I was right all along.

You and I, my love, we fought like warriors and we didn’t lose. You’ll always be with me, because my words will keep you alive. There’s no boundary to our quest anymore, we’ll travel as far as my thoughts can go. My words will be your carriage to eternal life… and we’ll meet again in a place where these words have more meaning than love itself.

You and I, together forever, because I write. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011




            Ray sat as still as cold stone in the seat of the diner, waiting for her to return from the bathroom. He dared not breathe, nor think of doing anything more than grip the edge of the table tightly with his wet palms, nor did he contemplate leaving, for he knew an important moment was at hand. A lone thought fought to gain entrance to his mind and he knew, knew what she wanted even before he watched her gliding slowly towards him, her blue eyes sad and wet as if from crying. She looked paler than usual, but still looked beautiful to him, the smallest of smiles forming upon her face as she slid into the booth opposite him. 
            “Sorry to keep you waiting,” she said. A tear dripped out of her eye and she brushed it away with the sleeve of her black dress. 
            “It’s ok, Rose. Tell me how you found me,” Ray said. He remained still, fighting the inner turmoil building in his stomach and rising in his blood. 
            “I talked to Sean, Ray,” she said. The words seemed to explain all, tell Ray every bit of the story he expected to hear if he asked the next question.  He tried to focus and took a slow deep breath. He held it inside for a few moments, until he felt the pressure in his face.
            “Why?” he asked simply. He felt faint as he exhaled and gasped for air.
            The air felt thick between them and silence took hold for some minutes. She looked away, more tears fighting down her cheek and she put her hand out towards him, which he took quietly and slowly, carefully placing his hand on hers. 
            “I’m pregnant,” Rose finally said. Her words felt like the color of steel upon his ears and he recoiled as if she slapped him. He jerked his hand away from her and pushed himself as far back in the booth as the ragged green cushions allowed. 
            “I can’t breathe,” he said to her, once again gripping the table’s edge for support. 
            “Not the reaction I hoped to receive,” she said, fighting tears again. She balled a hand into a fist and smacked it softly against the table, her eyes closed. Ray looked around the diner; they were alone. The waitress scurried into the kitchen when his looked in her direction. 
            “Give me say ten seconds to process this information. We were only together for one night, so forgive me,” he said.  He felt a flare of anger in his blood.     
            “So you’re a man now, not the writer that can fall in love at first sight?” she said with a sneer twisting her red plump lips. She ran a hand through her blonde curls, all the while her eyes attempted to bore holes into him, seeds of energy trying to imprint on his soul. 
            “Do not mock me. Nothing can break or change what happened between us...” 
            “Save you never speaking to me again,” she interrupted.
            “What do you want from me?” he yelled.  The waitress peaked out of the kitchen at him and again ducked from his gaze. 
            “Marry me,” she said. 
            “Marry you?” he repeated. 
            “This isn’t 1965,” he said, regretting it the minute the words were spoken. She crossed her arms and stared at him once more, as if waiting for him to retract his statement. He sighed in frustration and ran a hand over his cropped head. “Do you really want to get married?”
            “Yes,” she said with a glimmer of happiness in her voice. She again wiped tears from her eyes before once more extending her hand to him. 


            The man fell silent and slumped into his chair. His eyes seemed to sink into the sockets as if trying to disappear. The girl looked around her, as if waking from a dream. She moved her chair closer to the table and reached her hand towards the man, touching him, as if to wake him from sleep. 
            “Ray?” the girl asked, her blue eyes shining in the bright sun. 
            He focused upon her once more and frowned, his hand rubbing his beard with nervous contemplation.
            “What?” he asked, almost as if he’d forgotten her presence. He looked at her hand upon his and back up to her eyes. 
            “If you want to take a break, do so,” she said.  
            “No,” he responded. “I will tell it to you. I want to be done with this and get it over with before I lose my nerve. It has just been a long time since I heard my name is all.”
            She looked at him, confusion sweeping over the delicate features of her tiny face. She waited for him to continue, not wanting to say anything to make him turn back from the story. 


            I didn’t want to see my father and I didn’t want to have a wedding. I wanted to get it over and be married. Let’s get on with the misery I told her as we discussed the plans later in the week. It took me a few days to grasp it all, to accept fate, but once I did I pushed hard to bend Rose to my plans. 
            I refused to speak with my father and let Rose handle what arrangements I told her to make with him, which involved money. 
            “He paid for everything without question or demands,” she said the night before we were to be married. We lay naked together in my bed, smoking and staring at the darkened television screen. 
            “Father of the year.” I said with derision as I felt sleep coming for me. “Wake me in time to shower before the flight.”
            “I will,” she promised. She kissed me on the cheek and shut off the lamp.
            Leaving for the airport before the sun turned hot and before my cell began to buzz with texts messages from everyone she explained the plan to over the last few days, my blood tasted like fear as I read the many panicked attempts to steer me from my choice.  Did they think I’d change my mind?  I’ll always be amazed by how little the people who surround us know the inner truth of our being. 
            I slept on the plane, as if trying to shorten the hours until the ordeal, I mean wedding, could end. We walked in silence through the airport and out into the heat of summer to meet the limousine my father had provided. 
            The heat slammed into my cheek and the sun gouged at my eyes as we waited for our driver to pull closer to the curb. We got into the car without waiting for the driver get out of the car seeing as we had only one shoulder bag each. And as I’ve said, I wanted it to be over. 
            The driver made his way casually through the city, almost as if to give us opportunity to take in the sites. However, neither of us felt inclined and I stared into her eyes for the duration of the trip. 
            After getting the marriage license at the courthouse, the limo finally came to a stop outside The Little White Wedding Chapel on Las Vegas Blvd. I closed my eyes before opening the door, gathered my courage and stepped into the heat of high noon. 


            “What happened?” the girl asked. Ray looked at her and shook his head to gather his thoughts. 
            “When it came time I said I do and she said something along those lines,” Ray said with a grin. 
            “Come on!” she exclaimed, slapping the top of his hand. “You can’t do that to me mid story. I want to hear it all.”
            “I’m not skipping over anything important. We see weddings on television. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks.” 
            “Boo!” she said, smiling. Ray hushed her with a sharp glance.


The limo took us to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. I think we picked the room based on the availability of a balcony. Rose complained of nausea, so I brought her up to the room. I felt energy pulsing through my veins and a nervous excitement to see something, do something.
            “Go down and blow some of your father’s money,” she said to me, kissing me on the cheek. 
            I took her in my arms, squeezing her. I kissed her, parting resistant lips that tasted like strawberries. 
            “I’ll see you in a few hours,” I said to her. 
            I took the elevator to the casino, the loud rock music lifting my spirits. I made for the poker room, hoping for some action to clear my thoughts and provide distraction. 
I played in silence for an hour, drinking the complimentary cocktails the waitress kept forcing on me. I finally won a hand and my tension seemed to abate. The player I beat in the hand asked me what brought me to Vegas and I, out of character, told the table of the wedding. 
“Congratulations,” the man said to me. He was a middle aged man with a thick mustache and beer belly. “You should be enjoying the night with you wife.”
“Thank you,” I said. “She is not feeling well.”
“Sorry to hear that. Tell me, how does it feel to be married?” the man asked. 
I thought about it for a few moments, imagining Rose and her eyes and her pretty pale skin and I felt a flood of happiness. 
“I’m married,” I said to nobody save myself. I threw back the drink in front of me and made my way back to the room. 


Ray walked towards the room, excitement filling him, growing within him. He thought for a moment that maybe they could have a real wedding back in the east in a few months. He inserted the card key in the door and entered the room as quietly as he could, not wanting to wake her. 
He could see she was not sleeping, indeed not in bed at all. He heard her voice out on the balcony, so he walked towards her, the words slowly becoming clearer.
“He will never know, I promise you. By the time he learns of the truth, we will be well married. I will make him love me, do not worry.”
There was a pause, one that Ray took for Rose listening to someone on the other end of the line. He could see her standing in a hotel robe, holding the phone to her ear, leaning against the railing of the balcony. Ray struggled to breathe, to comprehend. 
“He will never learn the truth. I’ll tell him I had a miscarriage. I’ll never tell him I had the abortion,” Rose said.
Ray fell to one knee and clutched his chest. He shook his head, as if to erase the statement from his mind. It did no good and he heard the words again, echoing, ringing inside his skull, a sharp piercing pain.   …I’ll never tell him I had the abortion…
Ray felt his consciousness waver for a moment and he gripped the bed for support. His strength was failing him, but enough remained to hear her words.
“I just want my money,” she said before lapsing once more into silence.
Ray forced himself to stand and with great effort. He felt a slow rage entering his body and the sudden desire to push Rose off the balcony. He stood still and silent for a while, listening to her haggle without hearing many of the words. He shook his head in anger and staggered towards the door. He ran down the hallway of the hotel and screamed at the top of his lungs when he was safely in the elevator. 


Monday, July 18, 2011


            A young lady wearing pink shorts and a white blouse with a backpack over her shoulders descended the escalator towards the lobby of the casino, running a hand through wavy blonde hair as she looked about her, eyeing the shops and lights. She gripped her phone and stepped into the flow of humanity pushing its way along the walkway, shiny insistent machines lining either side of the yellow floor. Pausing at a display, she looked at designer handbags, and there, eyeing the new dresses of summer, while she kept checking her phone for messages. 
            The people pushed her as she looked in the windows, at the goods, the tattoo parlors, the blaring bars with girls dancing on the stage. The push of energy led her outside the casino, onto the street, where the vendors hawked stolen goods and cheap tee shirts of the city. The heat and light of the early afternoon assaulted her eyes, making her wish for a hat. She pulled sunglasses out of her pocket and put them on before continuing her walk. The sounds attacked her ears, a blend of music and voices as the smells of food and perfume invaded her senses.  She stood for a moment, near a booth offering tacos and two dollar margaritas when she heard the voice.
            “Hey you,” the voice intoned.
            She spun round to face a man seated at a table. She gasped as she saw his scraggy beard that sprouted crazy from his face, long and wild. His long, shiny brown hair set off his fierce brown eyes, which seemed to bore into her pale blue, delicate eyes. She took a step towards him, to escape the traffic. She noticed the sign above his head.


            The sign had no other adornment and was hand painted on rough cardboard. She did not understand and looked back at the man trying to take in his crazed appearance. She saw a scar below his left eye run down into his beard and disappear into the untrimmed hair. 
            “I will tell you a story for a dollar,” the man said. His voice rang deep and penetrated the noise of the street. Turning to each side to see if people watched she saw nobody paid them any attention. She took another step and looked at the table in front of her. The man held a tablet computer and watched her. Removing a crumpled dollar from her pocket, she placed it on the table. The man put the tablet down and grasped the dollar, shoving it in his pocket in one motion.
            “What story do you wish to hear?” he asked. Shifting her weight from one foot to the other, rolling the arch of her foot upon the sidewalk, she considered his question. 
            “Tell me how you came to be here.” she asked. 
            The man frowned and tapped the screen of his computer for a few moments. He sighed and continued tapping on his tablet, but glanced up at her, his brown eyes once again on hers.
            “I do not wish to tell that story. I can tell you many others, stories of war, love, adventure, but not about myself.That story wouldn’t interest you. Perhaps I can tell you a story about dragons?” 
            “No!” she exclaimed. “I’ve had enough with dragons. I want to hear your story. I paid my dollar and I want to hear!” 
            The man stared at her, incredulous, a hand stroking his beard. 
            “Let me see,” he said, tapping again at the screen. 
            “The story is on your IPAD?” she asked.
            “No, no,” he laughed, turning off the tablet. “Checking the market. Sorry to keep you waiting. I will give you a story.” 
            He pointed to a plastic folding chair at the end of the booth and indicated she take a seat. The plastic felt hot against her skin as she sat, keeping her eyes trained the man. After she crossed her legs, she nodded for him to begin. 
            “There was a dragon in love with a princess,” he began. She stamped her foot in indignation and glared at him in anger. “I’m just kidding.”

            I spent my youth amid the splendor of wealth, but safe to say, I did not please my father with the choices I made from such an early time in my life that by my 18th birthday he made it fact that I couldn’t take possession of the money set out for me until such time that I was married and stayed married. Those are the basic facts. I told my father that I wanted to marry for love, not for his money. I vowed to spurn his money and his judgments of me and moved from the luxury of home to picturesque Warwick.

            “Excuse me,” the girl cut in quickly. “You’re from Warwick?” 
            “Why, have you been there?”
            She looked at him, as if trapped in thought, but otherwise didn’t respond to him. The man shrugged and continued.

            In Warwick, I took a job waiting tables and rented an apartment. I settled in for an ordinary life, far enough from my father so that he might not interfere, but yet close enough to rub my peasant lifestyle in his face. I stayed to myself, working on my stories and otherwise going about the business of living said ordinary life. I dated a few times, but each time the relationship got serious, the truth of my birth and circumstances conspired to bring the connection to a fast end. 
            Indeed, how do you tell someone you are dating that you chose poverty? How do you tell them they can win the lottery by marrying you? Ten years passed in this fashion. Relations with my father grew worse until such time he refused to talk to me until I married.
            I did not see my father some years before I took a trip to NYC to give a reading of my newest short story. I debated not going at all, seeing as I couldn’t afford the trip. How can one justify a trip that costs more than the publisher gave me for the story in the first place? The night before the reading I crashed at my childhood friend’s apartment after getting ripping drunk in Providence. He told me I had to read for my fans. 
            ‘Fuck my fans.’ I muttered in my drunken turpitude. ‘They don’t pay my rent.’
            My friend slapped me and told me I had to go and promised to drive me to NYC personally in the morning. It happened that way too, which disturbs me more than any other thing I’ll tell you in this story. I knew him for 25 years. 
            We made the trip to the city in good time; somehow both avoiding traffic and the need for bathroom breaks even though I drank a good deal of water to help my hangover. I’ll save the details of that afternoon and skip to the good part, the reading. 
            I wasn’t the featured performer that night; I won’t have you think more of me than I am. I climbed the three stairs to the mini-stage, eased myself behind the worn podium and opened my notebook to begin. 
            I felt nerves, nervous, sweat beginning to form under my arms as I stared and got lost in the crowd.  Indeed, it was a crowd. The bar was packed to the rafters and I seemed to recognize most of the faces in the room. They are here for me, I remember thinking. I stood mute for some moments, panic beginning its stealthy run up my legs and spine, its tiny fingers gripping at my throat. I heard voices yelling at me, encouraging me, trying to lead me into voice. 
            I forgot the story I was there to read and when I looked down at my notebook, the words failed to resolve into sentences. 
            ‘Help me.’ I said quietly into the microphone.  Dead silence met me, stares and stone cold dead silence. 
            I felt a pain in my mind as the eyes bore down, waiting, the impatience dripping from their eyes. 
            I opened my mouth, not having the slightest clue of what I was about to say.

            The man stopped and looked at the girl, a visible pain in his eyes. He rubbed his temples and reached under the table, pulling out a bottle of scotch. 
            “I can't give you more story than that for a dollar," the man said so quietly it nearly evaporated in the heat of afternoon. 
            The girl grabbed his hand as he attempted to pour from the bottle in front of him. 
            “Tell me what happened that night,” she said in a voice that felt like a whisper upon his ears.

            At the very moment I began to speak I saw her. I saw her in a blinded rush, blonde curls showering over the pale skin of her face, her thin neck adorned with a small diamond necklace.  The simple fabric of her plain black dress rustled in the air of the bar. Yet, she stood angry, her arms crossed violently across her chest, with one of her small pretty feet slightly in front of the other in an aggressive posture. Her blue eyes yelled at me to continue. I gathered my strength, a bit of liquid courage and spoke.
            I can’t remember a single word of the story I created that night. Yes, I say created, for the words I spoke were newborn and fresh to this world. I spoke in a blinded rush and hurried to find inspiration, which, to thank the gods, came swift and sure to my aid. Words followed upon words and I created on that summer night in NYC.   
            When I finished the crowd met me with a dizzying applause. I walked off the stage in a daze and sat on a bar stool, ready to drink myself into oblivion. After the barkeep set a drink in front of me I could feel a presence next to me and I didn’t need to look to know it was her. She smelled like apricots and I felt her lean in close to me, placing her lips against my ear.
            ‘I want you to read stories to me all the days of my life.’ 
            The room spun around me and my skull threatened to split open at her words.