I was sitting above the rear, driver-side tire, when it exploded. In an entirely undramatic fashion, the bus slowed down to a stop as it pulled over to the curb. Other than the initial bang of the tire popping, nothing else happened but a parked vehicle.
“Everyone off,” the bus driver announced as he opened the front and back doors.
I was one of the last to step out, and even once I was off I was hesitant to walk away. I stayed next to the busted mammoth, smoking cigarettes until two tow trucks came to haul it to a mechanic.
Once it was gone, I felt better, but hadn’t realized I felt bad before.
Lost in a small notebook
“You can’t swim in a puddle.” A man said to his lover. “You can’t fly in a bubble.”
“I disagree.” She responded to his speech. “I’m fairly certain this world’s make believe.”
It was a total mushrooms on manure type bliss. I wanted to kiss her cheek, hold her hand, let her pet my bullfrog, Wilfred, all at the same time. We had frantic sex on her dining room floor, but essentially it was the same thing. We walked in the morning, strolled in the afternoon, and constitutioned in the evenings. Always, always our hands were fused together as if the accident of a crazed genius tinkering in his lab, up to no good. Time was time as always it is. Moments were forever, and days were blinks of a dilated eye. To cities, we would visit as if to enter its parlor for a relaxing smoke of noncommitted chatter. Winds would blow through hair and denim, bringing amused laughs from lost explorers. I grabbed her hand and pointed to the moon high above. I once sat upon that very rock, I tell her. I stood in the direct center with my arms held high above me. My mouth a perfect pearl in size, shape, and sound, I whisper to her. Thoughts race past with the fear of a wounded gazelle. The lion is in the grass. Stalking each one, waiting to make its kill. “You’re all I’ve ever wanted” shivers in the tall breeze. “You’re that rock” prances in pain trying to fool the mane on the hill. “Climb there with me” is taken down in a spray of violence and purrs. It fights at first, and the hunt is a staccato splurge of syllables. Together we should be, for apart I hold no sway on your sunset smile over the crest of waves. And frankly, I really kinda like you.
Hank visited for three weeks in July. It was supposed to be two. He came to town see his daughter, Angel, my neighbor. Diesel, Angel’s boyfriend, shook his hand when he arrived.
“You named your daughter wrong,” Diesel joked.
“Nope,” Hank said, “Cause even the devil was an angel once.”
Every night during his visit, I’d sit in the back yard parking lot of our apartment building and pass a bottle of vodka back and forth with Hank.
He talked about being a machinist, and I smoked cigarettes. He showed me his pace maker scar.
“I was a Marlboro man,” he said with pride.
My brand was American Spirits, but Marlboro’s had gotten me hooked.
I told him my life was full of pig fat fuckers pissing and shitting themselves over improper attire.
He told me he once invented a new machine able to produce at one thousand, five hundred and twenty-three percent the current capacity of the machine the damn place was using.
“Got fucked on that one,” he said. “Wrapped it in a pretty blue print, then grabbed my ankles for the raping.
“It was a contest. Best idea supposed to win some money.
“I gave it to ‘em. Met the company’s head engineer. He was all done up in a blue suit and white hard hat, staring at the blueprints I had entered.
“‘How the fuck did you come up with this?’ he asked me, then he shook my hand. ‘You win.’” Hank passed the bottle of vodka to me. “A month later they let me go. Didn’t see a dime for them blueprints.”
The last night Hank was here, we drank until the sun came up and a white cab drove up to shuttle him away. He turned and shook my hand.
“You and I have something in common,” he said. “We’ve been fucked by the same assholes.”
I nodded, said goodbye, and never saw Hank again.
A Great Many Things
I was as certain as God sacrificing his son. Undoubtedly, directly in front of me, two children swung on swings. Forgive the narration of their tiny figures in tiny crucified positions, dying for each other’s sin, but I feel full detail is important. Their left and right hands, respectively, were entangled in a chain link monotony that ran from ass to heaven. You know the type, so thin snowy roads would yield four of them for front, back, left, and right, respectively. Well really, only if the driver had no regard for the path he traveled, for lack of caring about cracked gravel.
They giggled and laughed and laughed and giggled. The boy swung on the left, constantly rubbing a runny nose. He was the type of child who would scream in a grocery store for hours, I could tell just by his look And the guff he had welled up inside, yes, no doubt, I knew his type. The girl was the little angel atop a green fir, but only between mid november and early december, before the fir could grow old and let brown needles supplant green.
I had slung a camera around my neck early after the sun had woke. A promise to myself to save this day in moments, and fragments, and figments timed to an inner radio of four second clips. Now in front of me, they swung as daylight was impaled upon a jagged ledge of pine. Leaving a trail of black and blood to the atmosphere above.
The boy turned her way as if to smile and say “I have something important to state.” I jumped from my station. I shouted at the top of my lungs. I stood perfectly still, and waited. She responded with a giggle. The sort which bounced off granite mountains, bringing old men crashing downwards, and was drowned out by night time’s destruction of day.
I shook my head in disbelief and the camera chafing my neck agreed. I meandered to their cross, as nonchalantly as bending grass. I pulled a pack of turkish tobacco from my left breast pocket, respectively. Then came the thin paper to accompany me. I looked their way, and leaned against the tree with a sign bearing three nails, warning the status quo to KEEP OFF! FRESHLY PLANTED! LET IT GROW!.
I dodged my eyes between work and their gravity controlled speed as I rolled my spear of sweet release. Two fingers on either side forced to stay still until they formed an cylindrical cone. Giggle and laugh. Drop the nicotine right in the center. Laugh and giggle. Roll it up halfway and give a good solid swipe with your tongue. Now finish the job you’ve begun. Giggle and giggle. I put the cigarette in my mouth and with a heretic’s ease, lit a match to flame and pulled a flame towards me.
They stopped swinging and stared. I breathed in nice and slow, enjoying the soft punch of nicotine’s blow. Releasing the smoke I held within, I turned toward them. I pulled out a store bought pack and offered one to each. The girl shook her hair covered dome with the simplicity of a thrown stone. The boy just curled his lips back in a guttural look of disgust. I withdrew the cigarette box.
The camera around my neck lay buried in the open air as I squatted before them, positioned like a Pontius Pilate offering Barabbas instead of Jesus for execution. I knew they wouldn’t listen to reason, but I needed to explain what it was they faced as clocks became calendars and crowns became thorns. I puffed smoke over my left shoulder, turned till my face split their gaze, and with the revulsion of a nicotine shred left on the tongue, I spat with syllables at their fingers entwined in chain links, “I’ve never seen anything as ugly as that, and I’ve seen a great many things.”