Saturday, July 21, 2012



             It amazes me how different the café looks this evening, filled with writers gossiping in various corners as we wait for the readings to begin. Can this be the same bookstore from this afternoon? I saw less than ten people earlier and now there must be close to one hundred fighting each other for the comfy recliners while the losers of that battle are stuck with plastic folding chairs. 
             I don’t take a seat as I feel too much energy pulsing through my veins, this being my first reading. Ray didn’t blink an eye when I told him I wanted to do this on my birthday, but he did narrow his eyes a bit as it occurred to him I meant to do it alone. I don’t need the pressure of him critiquing my every word, my performance, every damned movement I make. 
             A small commotion a few feet away gains my attention and I see an overweight gentleman apologizing repeatedly to a walking stereotype Emo-chick with short wild blue hair and a metal spike through the bridge of her nose. I gather from a few strident comments from the short girl that the man stole her slice of plastic real estate while she wandered about the place trying to look artistic. She continues to berate him long after he yields all claims to the chair and I feel bad, his eyes catching mine as he nearly hyperventilates trying to escape her wrath.   
             I tug on the man’s soiled black tee shirt, which is emblazoned with the logo of a rock and roll band I am not familiar with. Pulling him back against the railing that separates the books from the café, I put my hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm him. I don’t know if it works, but the emo-bitch leaves him be as the moderator begins yawning on and on about the solemn duty of poets to blah, blah, blah. 
             I can’t concentrate and I feel sweat on my forehead as the line of names dwindles, closing in on my doom or my first attempt to read at a poetry slam, whichever you prefer. The queue is listed on a screen of sorts behind the makeshift podium. As I begin scanning the crowd in search of a path to the stage I might take to avoid bumping and crashing into people as much as possible, the moderator reads off the next name from the list. 
             “That’s me. It’s time,” the man says to nobody. I think he is trying to gather enough courage to do it, though I don’t know if he is succeeding for the moderator calls his name again before he even moves an inch. I want to rub his shoulder or pat him on the back for encouragement, but before I can contemplate what such an action might mean, he launches himself into the mass of bodies and bulls his way to the podium. 
             Without introduction or preamble or so much as a joke, he launches into his reading, which catches me by surprise. His voice is deep and resonant, which gives me a little tickle in my belly until I hear the words. 

“I have never known a woman. 
Or man for that matter. 
I don’t even know if I am gay or straight. 
My energies are spent in a lab, finding cures to save people that matter.
Me? I am of no consequence. 
I am the fat kid you spit on, the nerd you ignore.  
And I ask you…can you spare a hug?”

             He bolts from the stage, with the same lack of ceremony as his entrance. There is complete silence in the room, with all remaining still until the moderator gathers his senses to read the next name. Mine. However, I have no interest in reading as the man pushes his way close to me, eyes probing mine for a reaction. I make a nod at him and quickly look away. A nod? I want to crawl into a stack of books, but he is still looking at me and I manage to stop being rude, meeting his eyes once again. 
             “Hi,” I say, looking up at him through my eyelashes. 
             “Is that your name they are calling?”
             “Yes,” I say, looking away once again. 
             He takes in a deep breath, a small whistling sound escaping his lips and with the tip of his fingers, gentle pushes towards the podium. “Go read. Don’t chicken out now, you will regret it later on.” 
             Closing my eyes, I take a step into the crowd, letting my action be an answer to his encouragement. I feel eyes devouring me, many sets filled with hunger, suspicion, anticipation and other emotions I can’t decipher. As I take my place on the stage, my mind is a complete blank. I can’t remember a word of what I wrote this afternoon. As panic rises in my belly, I blurt out the following declaration---

             I stand for marriage equality and yield my time to have you ponder this: twenty years from now, when this issue is settled, do you want to look back on this time to remember you were on the wrong side of history?

             I step from the podium and with my head down, return to my place by the railing. The man is clapping for me, which draws many sets of eyes, as he makes the solitary sound in the room. I am saved by the moderator calling off the next name, his voice sounding like a computer. 
             “You are brave, young lady.”
             “I guess. Let’s talk about what you read instead of me drawing a blank and embarrassing myself in front of all these folk.” 
             “This is okay with me. What did you think?” he asks, his voice reaching into my guts and massaging my nerves. 
             Pausing for a moment, I think of my answer, not wanting to further embarrass myself. “I don’t know much about poetry, but I liked what you read, sir.” 
             He laughs at me and it lessens some of the tension building in my stomach. His eyes are kind and his voice is pleasant, I can’t understand why he is such an outcast. There is a thickness in his face and extra skin under his chin, but I like his thick brown hair and broad shoulders. I feel his eyes roaming my skin and I remember in that moment that I am dressed like a streetwalker, ready for clubs and dancing later in the night. My blue skirt covers little and I know he is devouring my chest with his eyes, looking down into my loose fitting white blouse. 
             “Is it true what you read, that you have never been with a woman?” I ask. I still can’t believe it. It can’t be true. Can he be a virgin?
             “Never,” he echoes. 
             “How about you take me out for a drink?” 
             Looking around the room and seeing nobody is listening, he tilts his head as if confused before saying, “With me?” 
             “No, with the blue haired girl. Of course you, sir.” 
             He laughs again, but it rings hollow this time and I can hear and feel his nerves. “What is the occasion?” 
             I let out a little sigh and I see his shoulders tense. He is bordering on panic and I touch his arm, gently. Shivering at my touch, he closes his eyes for a moment. 
             “We don’t need an occasion, silly, but it just so happens that tonight is my birthday.” 
             “Where will we go?” he cuts in. 
             I am beginning to see why the tally is never. Trying to resist rolling my eyes, I force a smile on my face and wait a few moments until the sarcasm is faded from what I will say. “We are less than two miles from Las Vegas Boulevard. I think we can find somewhere to get a drink.” 
             “Ah, ok.”
             “Great, it’s a date then. Let’s go to Hard Rock,” I say, pulling him out of the café and through the double doors leading into the parking lot, stopping at Ray’s ’74 Firebird that I drove to the reading. He lets out a loud whistle of appreciation and stalks around the perimeter of the car, staring at each detail. 
             “Is this yours?” he says. 
             I think for a moment and shrugging my shoulders say, “It is now, I guess.” 
             He looks at me, questions in his light brown eyes, but I wave my hand for him to forget it. 
             “What is at the Hard Rock?” he asks as he settles into the passenger’s seat, which groans and complains under his weight. 
             “I have a room,” I answer, not meaning anything and for once, not flirting, but he pins his back against the seat and stares straight ahead as I turn onto Maryland Parkway. He is silent as I wait for the stoplight at Flamingo and I shake my head in wonder. Really? There is silence as I pull onto Paradise and drive the last stretch to the casino. I need a drink at this point and don’t know what to expect. 
             “You are lucky, I hope you realize,” he says as I park the car. I study his eyes for a moment, trying to decide if he is joking or not. 
             “How so, sir?” 
             “You are the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. You hit the lottery at birth. Perfect hair, flawless skin, eyes a pale baby blue that is tearing away at my insides as I look at you. Can you imagine what your life might be like if you had been born fat and ugly like me?” 
             He eyes fall away from me and I respond before I can stop the words from escaping my mouth, “Maybe if I hadn’t been so perfect looking my father might have refrained from sticking it in me so often.” 
             I jump from the car, tears in my eyes and wait for him at the entrance. I know I have said too much, but it simply came out. I didn’t plan to say that and you can’t un-say a thing once it enters the world. He avoids my eyes as we navigate the crowded halls of Friday night and I wonder for a moment what I am doing. I could be with Mary and Ray and Peter, but I am here…doing…I don’t know. Suddenly, he stops, a few feet from the gate to the center bar. 
             “I don’t know if this is such a good idea.” 
             “It is just a drink, sir.” 
             “But…” he looks around for a moment again, that sinking feeling that he is about to have a panic attack rising in my belly. “I don’t do this. The social thing, drinking, women. You are far too beautiful for me.” 
             “Don’t worry about that. Spend time with me, don’t think,” I say, reaching out and taking his hand in mine. He jumps and laughs, squeaking out a nervous laugh that skips and repeats as he tries to pull away from me. I know I am making his anxiety worse and I release his hand, which serves to calm him a bit. I wait for him to gain control of his breathing before I speak again. “You are right though, it is getting late and I have plans for tonight, will you be able to get home okay?”
             Relief washes over his features and he smiles, which makes it all worth it. “I can find a taxi. It is Vegas, after all.” 
             “Ok, sir, but you owe me a hug,” I say, holding my arms open. He doesn’t fight or argue or hem and haw and instead throws his thick arms around my body, crushing me into his chest. 
             “I can’t thank you enough.” 
             “No need,” I say, kissing him lightly on the cheek. After a few moments, he walks towards the lobby of the casino, swallowed in a sea of humanity. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012



            I have struggled to write for the last month and a half. There are times I begin to wonder if I am a writer after all. One day you feel the inspiration and chatter of characters and then, it vanishes, like the spots you see on the highway on hot summer days. I can’t tell you the last time I finished a story. Coming to the bookstore was his idea, as a way of snapping out of this funk, breaking through the dastardly wall of writer’s block or whatever way you wish to describe the malaise I am suffering. He seems to think the mere presence of books is enough to push through the drought. Writing is not so simple. 
            The coffee I bought is almost cold and I don’t have a plot or a scene or a character in mind as of yet. Looking around the place, I see one middle aged gentleman typing like a madman on his laptop. That comprises the entirety of the company that shares this store with me at the moment. And that man hasn’t so much as glanced in my direction. Not that I blame him. I am wearing sweatpants and a plain tee shirt for the express reason of avoiding the attention of men. I am doing my best to limit distractions and excuses. But…I can’t help wondering…what is he writing? 
            I do think writers are natural born spies and as I move closer to where the man sits, I hope he doesn’t notice I am watching his every move. He sits erect, with his chin high. I wonder if he can see the keyboard properly. He is quite handsome for an older man, with flecks of gray in short brown hair and a strong, thick jawline. I like that he is wearing a baby blue button down shirt and grey slacks even in the middle of summer. I am a sucker for a well-dressed man and find myself wondering how much his black leather shoes cost.
            He leans backward and stretches his arms over his head, a hand rubbing at sore neck muscles. His turns toward me and his clear blue eyes bore into mine with a sudden intensity. I want to look away, but his pretty eyelashes and dark pupils transfix me and I rudely and openly stare at him. A small smile washes over his face as he shakes his head, sipping a cup of coffee as he returns my gaze and I desperately do not want to be the one that looks away first. 
            “Hi,” I manage to say. I feel heat in my face and I have to fight the urge to run away from this man for he is reaching into my brain and touching me in places I thought locked to strangers. He does not respond and continues to probe me, not taking his eyes from mine to check me out, which is so very unusual for a man. They always look. But, he doesn’t. My stomach jumps and flips and I know I’m going to look away before he does.
            “Good afternoon,” he says. His voice is a low, pleasant bass that tickles my insides and makes me squirm in the chair. 
            “Are you a writer?” I blurt out before I look away, not being able to take so much as a second more of him penetrating me. He laughs at my question, a slow rolling chuckle that comes from deep in his belly and rises up through his muscular chest. 
            “I am.” 
            Crossing his legs, he leans back in the chair and watches me, grinning and eyes sparkling as if he knows a secret about me. What did he pull from my brain with that damned laser stare of his? The heat continues to increase in my face and I know I am blushing. Images of him ravaging me appear in my mind against my will it seems and I do my best to push them back down into the abyss. 
            “Don’t do that,” he whispers, leaning forward in my direction.
            “Do what?” I ask. How can he know my thoughts? Another image of him dragging me from the café floats across the screen of my brain and I shake my head to erase the picture. 
            “Don’t fight your brain. Let it take you where it wants to go. Get out of the way of your inner writer. Free your mind.” 
            I see him pouncing on me and ripping my shirt away from my chest in a violent manner. “Should I write these thoughts or wait?” 
            “Why wait? Begin writing the moment a thought forms into words.” 
            He could have me right now if he wants. I bet he knows that or feels it. The only question is if he wants to take me. Of course I am wearing sweatpants and have my hair restrained in a pony-tail. I close my eyes and wait for him to decide. Harvest me, savage me, do anything you wish to my body…oh, what am I thinking? Where did these thoughts come from? I came here to write a story and I have been possessed by this man’s eyes. Possessed I say. I might let him take me over the table, right in front of the boy making the coffee. I cannot resist.
I open my eyes and see I am the only person in the café. The boy behind the counter is starting at me and without a word or gesture to him I gather my things and make a hurried exit from the store. I am ready to write again. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012



          Ray woke earlier than usual, refreshed as from eight hours sleep, which in reality had been four. He rubbed at his eyes and turned, a fear rising inside his stomach. Still there! He saw the same blonde curls cascading over fluffy blue pillows, the same small hands gripping the comforter. Smiling, he brushed his fingers over her skin, silk velvet under his rough touch.
          With effort, he rose, slipped on his shoes and left the bedroom, the remnants of sleep fading, and the desires of a new day asserting their needs. He thought about breakfast and taking a shower, but instead he lit a cigarette as he walked outside into the morning sun, whose gentle heat began to erase the rain of the previous day. He smoked in silence, while still and quiet, nature seemed to sleep at that early hour, not a bird or car moving, leaving him to his thoughts, alone.
          He dragged his foot along the gravel in distraction. The world entire seemed to stop, his thoughts pounding insistent within his mind.
          “What now?” he asked, to nobody at all, to the blue of the morning sky. The question dissolved into the morning shine, silence enveloping him. With a flick of a wrist, he threw his cigarette into the street and putting his hands into his pockets, went inside.  
          He stood in the doorway, watching her sleep. She shifted onto her stomach, her fingers arranging blankets knowingly and looked up at him.
          “Why did you get up?” she asked her voice thick with morning.
          He sat down on the bed, his fingers finder hers, caresses and words exchanged through touch.
          “I needed some air.” 
          “To smoke,” she said, smiling.
          “As always. The same every day, nothing changes.”
          “Get off it,” he said, crawling back into bed. He tried to kiss her, but she pushed him away with her hand.
          “You’re like a little boy, you never learn.” She sighed, but kept smiling.  
          "Sorry mother.”
          “Please,” she said, turning away, pulling the comforter with her.
          He looked at her, her back bare and tender, and reached for her, pulling the blanket over her.
          She sighed again and turned her head to look at him.
          “Go wash your mouth, you smell like an ashtray.”
          “No,” he said, in mocking defiance.
          “Fine, then go back to sleep.”
          He laid his head on the pillow without a response and to his surprise, sleep came once again.

          Black clouds rushed in from the west, shaped to cover the light, rain begins in torrents, scathing the roof tiles, threatening to wash it all away.
          Her face in a cloud, frowning, next to wolves...
          “Did you really think?” a voice whispers, exploding inside his mind. He hears laughter, mad cap shrieking laughter all around him.
          ‘No, no, no,” he whispers.

          He woke with a start and jumped to his feet, the bed empty beside him. He rushed into the living room: empty, empty and still, empty.
          “No,” he muttered to himself, his teeth clenched together. Motionless and trapped in thought, he stared about the room. 
          Did you really think He heard again, this time it sounded like her voice, insistent and filled with accusations. He spun round, but the room remained empty, stubborn hateful empty. He sat with a thud upon the rug, his face in his hands, too scared to feel tears, trying to hear the voice.  
          He thought of the day he lost her at the zoo. He ran round, tracing the paths walked, the animals seen, which growled at him, watched him, asking and begging strangers to remember her, but to nothing. He sat down at a cafe, exhausted and pulling at his hair. With tears in his eyes he saw her sitting at the bar, talking to a strange man, who wore a pair of jean shorts and a skin tight white tee-shirt. As he walked towards them, trying to calm himself, he heard the voice again.
          He looked up and saw her, in a blur, holding a white paper bag, a cup and a newspaper.
          “Where did you go?” he managed to choke out in a scratched hiss.
          “I got breakfast,” she said, placing the bag on the table. She walked to him, quick and light steps and came to a stop, kneeling next to him.
          “What did you get?” He pressed his face into her shoulder.
          “Your favorite,” she said, holding him tight.
          “Cinnamon raisin?” 
          “I got a cinnamon raisin bagel, toasted, with extra cream cheese, a coffee and your morning paper,” she said, stroking his hair. He clung to her, his hands linked behind her.
          “What is it?” she asked.
          He remained silent, pulling her closer.
          “Ray.” Her voice sweet and soft in his ear, her breathe against his next warm and tender, her fingers massaging his temples.
          “Don’t leave,” he said.
          “Ray, what is it?” she asked, kissing his forehead.
          “Just don’t leave me, Rose,” he whispered.
          She rocked him slow in her arms, humming low and sweet.
          “I won’t,” she said, looking into his eyes. “Tonight makes two years, Ray.”
          “I know,” he answered. “I know.”
          He kissed her as the sunlight broke through the blinds, bathing the room in yellow warmth.

Friday, March 23, 2012



It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in
possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
The time indeed comes in life to select a mate. I might have used the word wife instead, but I did not, so I’ll leave it as it is written. Fortunes are won and squandered, battles fought and lost, but after the savagery ends we need someone to bury the body. I mean, we need loved ones to mourn our passing. I apologize if my thoughts are clouded, for I have not fed in weeks. I mean hours.
            If someone asked me to list the qualities I deem essential in a mate, could I tell you in any sensible way? Is a mate necessary for existence? The answer is no. I can’t eat my mate more than once. How shall I survive?
            A mate is intended to help us forget and tolerate the processed nature of the rest of our existence. Hopefully you enjoy scrabble. Or chess. Or twister. If not, I do believe we might be at an impasse. What shall we do with our time if we don’t agree on board game selections? Perhaps we can hold hands and watch the Olympics. Country first in my household.
            As I ponder this momentous day, let me be clear and transparent with what I expect out of this bargain. Or pact. Whatever you will. You know me already, so we shall not waste time with all that boring nonsense. The important point is I can afford to make you love me, so if that is sufficient, please continue on with the story.
            I do accept that the world moves on and changes as pertains to fashion, behaviors and the very aspects of procuring sustenance. However, things will be very much a throwback to the past in my home. Your home I might say. If you are still with me. If you are, I shall continue.
            I expect every evening to contain culture. There will be a slice of Mozart, a side of the bard served with seared pork loin in a balsamic reduction. Grand Mariner on home-made vanilla bean ice cream, teaching you to play violin as I read you this:


So is it not with me as with that Muse
Stirr'd by a painted beauty to his verse,
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use 
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse 
Making a couplement of proud compare, 
With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems,
With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare 
That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems. 
O' let me, true in love, but truly write, 
And then believe me, my love is as fair 
As any mother's child, though not so bright 
As those gold candles fix'd in heaven's air: 
   Let them say more than like of hearsay well;
   I will not praise that purpose not to sell.

There is a sonnet for you, my future love. Be a muse or simply be. As you like it, my love. (and does it matter that I play the fool and moan my love in a poor attempt to woo you with art)
Ask me why I don’t read you my own poetry and I shall smile. And continue to smile as I say, “My love, I am no William Shakespeare.”
            I will tell you my passion is Kafka distilled with Kurt Cobain. However, do not attempt to listen to the one while reading the other. It will leave you with a sudden urge to throw yourself from the nearest bridge. Understand? Though I demand culture, I am aware you must be careful not to sit madmen in the same row.
            I shall now tell you the terms I seek in this agreement. The woman shall agree to the following conditions:

1)    There will be no watching of MTV in my (our) home. No knocked up teen or white trash shore is going to pollute the minds of my family.
2)    The dowry must include a milk producing goat.
3)    Offspring naming rights shall be determined by coin-flip to avoid arguments.

Leaving further details only to those that make serious enquiries, I shall continue.

Ending my terminal bachelorhood is not to be taken lightly. I know it shall have repercussions in all aspects of my life, but it cannot be put off any longer. I mean, how can my life have meaning if I do not breed? I see now that sex is meant to procreate and I simply have been doing it all wrong up until this moment. I sincerely apologize for my wayward ways and I pledge to end this travesty in a short an order as possible.
The alternative is silly talk and useless faith in the existence of dragons. There is no magic. Just credit scores and your online presence and our global footprint glued together by the world wide web and some chewing gum. You don’t fight the tide or city hall, God always gets that pound of flesh. So, I shall kneel humbly and ask the world to produce a wife.
All interested applicants shall be sure to ready a checklist so as to ensure suitability for this contest.

Have you read at least ten plays by Shakespreare?
Have you read the complete works of F. Scott Fitzgerald?
What do you think are the five greatest novels of all time?
Compare and contrast Poe and Kafka. Feel free to go crazy during this exercise.
Which Russian is the greatest novelist ever, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? Give at least two examples of the greatest of each writer.

I say that is enough for the moment. I am sure I have begun the path of this new journey in as transparent a way as possible. The basis of all is this: I mean to acquire a mate by the time the hour strikes Midnight to signal the arrival of my 40th birthday. The clock is ticking and I am sure there will be many applications for the position. Women that love to read and are schooled in music, art, history, philosophy and politics are very easy to find and I shall not have the least bit of trouble finding an adequate mate.
With any luck, when next we meet, I will have purchased or fed on  found my mate. Enjoy your day even if you have other plans.