A Recent Murder

I didn’t know the man who talked to me that night, only that he wanted me dead. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

I was investigating a murder scene on Main Street, which of course the local police couldn’t handle on their own. Sergeant Milton greeted me with a cloudy puff of his cigar. “Eh, detective, how’s the private business going?” His sneer cut daggers into my soul. Just then, the rain started to fall.

I walked inside the house after CSI had left. Crime scenes are always empty at night, just like my soul. It didn’t surprise me that the chalk outline lay in the kitchen. This killer was on a streak. He had struck a trend of killings, blood, gore in the kitchens of the suburbs for the past two years. No one knew what he looked like or when he would strike next. Only MacGregor the Butcher had left worse crime scenes. The only thing I knew was that he needed to be stopped.

Outside, Natalie waited for me. The taxi drove off and I knew the murder wasn’t the only problem I’d be dealing with that night. “Oh,” she uttered, smoking her cigarette like Aphrodite in a campfire. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Of course not,” I said, staring her down with my hands in my pocket. Carelessness is important when dealing with girls like her. Girls that creep up behind you and leave you gasping for air after a two hour choke session. “Murder scenes are the perfect place to find a man, eh? You’ll only find coldness here, doll.”

“I’m warm enough on my own, detective. Come home with me tonight, and you might warm up too.”

How could I refuse? A girl like her, with hips as wide as the Cumberland Gap and as rough too, ready to be ridden ’til exhaustion. “You got it, dame. But don’t expect me overnight.”

She stepped closer, the rain streaming the makeup down her face like some clown that had seen far too many men go down in that clown fire gag where they start a fire and then they jump out onto a tiny trampoline, only one of them misses and cracks his spine and there’s nothing you can do to console his grieving wife save giving her the biggest, wettest kiss you can muster. Well, that’s just what I did with her.

I said I didn’t expect to spend the night and I meant what I said. Still, I somehow found myself waking in her apartment. Maybe it was the wine, or perhaps the lilac in the air, but something trapped me there. It might have been her majestic eyes, eyes that shine in the darkest night.

“I’m going to kill you,” said the man who wanted me dead.

“Oh, yeah?” I replied, sleep lisping my voice like some death-dream. The barrel pointed at my face grew larger with each passing moment. I lit a cigarette. “Why’s that?”

“You killed my father, MacGregor.”

MacGregor, the man who killed nearly forty of Boston’s best citizens. Authors, poets, musicians, and even politicians had perished at his hand.

“And now I will kill you.”

Just before he pulled the trigger, his eyes crossed and he collapsed on the bed. Natalie stood in the doorway, gun in her hand. I took a drag of my cigarette and tried to make sense of the scene.

“Don’t bother, baby,” Natalie said, pushing the pistol back into her lingerie waistline. “He killed my father, and I wanted him dead. He’d only meet me if I brought you home. Thought I had a grudge against you, too.”

“Well, ain’t that something,” I said, smoking a long drag of my cigarette. “I suppose you don’t hold any, then?”

“That’s for me to know,” she said before laying on top of me. I put my cigarette in the ash tray and closed my eyes.

Procrasta-astanation…

The rolling waves of tomorrow’s crest destroy the passing thoughts of future obligations. The ocean drives its angry water further inward, deploying its salty weapons upon the empty shore. A man may think he has an inkling of his purpose, a goal in his mind, and the means to enact all this within his own power, but that envious wonderment is only the foam that the wind drives up the dunes.

The coast is worn from the storm’s thrashing. Erosion cycles its surface so that it shows preserved freshness, unnatural in its constant newness. The tree that was safe for decades from the water is now only a resting place for the birds. Had it been allowed to triumph against destruction, then what wonders may have flourished from its seed!

The gulls dare take flight from that stump just a minute fore the air’s weight crushes their wings. Collective calmness soothes their bellies, waiting for the storm to pass. Patience is a virtue, for it allows us to wait til the moment for action is ripe. It is also a curse, for it forces us to stake our aspirations in the ground.

The hazy dreams of yesterday float tween the water and the sun, afraid to evaporate in the cold air. The day brings heat, and soon, clear skies. Attempts are made to grasp onto one last cloud, but gusts blow the thought away. Another time, another place, another way. Just not today.

 

The Son Also Rises

I’m half convinced that Hemmingway just had a lot of random crap in his stories and hoped some kind of symbolism would come out of it…

_________________________________________________________

Bobby said that Sue wouldn’t love him after that. He was always saying things like that, and only half the time believed it. I knew that Sue would be fine.

We left the store and had some drinks behind the counter at the Select. The drinks were nice. I enjoyed a whiskey. Bobby got the same dark beer he always drank in moods like this.

“It’s just that, I don’t know that she’ll forgive me.”

“Don’t be a fool,” I said.

“Jack, it’s true. Settle down.”

“Settle down? I’ll settle when I fucking feel like it.”

“Oh, come on now Jack. Relax a little. I only wanted to talk about my Sue and see where it will take us.”

I sipped my whiskey and spied the dancing floor.

“That’s it, how about a dance? That lass right there is rather frisky. Or the blonde in the green dress, how’s that for you?”

The barkeep poured me another whiskey.

“Let’s talk about my Sue.”

“What obligation do you have? You’re not married and haven’t promised it.”

“Well, there are certain expectations involved.”

“Your last left before those could be fulfilled.”

“Sue isn’t like Kate, not in the least. Why, if Sue and Kate stood next to each other in my home, I’d have to take Sue.”

“In the same way you’d have to take your current car because you’ve already placed the deposit.”

“Oh, come now, Jake.”

“She’s pregnant, isn’t she?”

Bobby looked at the dance floor, then the bar, and sipped his beer.

I drained my third glass.

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“I have to send off some e-mails, get back home,” I said, leaving Bobby in the bar. He’d follow me home and knock on my door. I’d probably open it and let him in for a drink or smoke.

Little changes.

 

The Dancing Queen

“It’s a running joke around here that Jocelyn is the party monkey,” Jim said. The wide grin on his wide face reminded me of an ape.

I didn’t understand, so I just chuckled a bit and tried to similarize my facial expression.

“She’s always…’monkeying around,’ if you know what I mean,” he said with his smile that might have been the dreamwork of some drunk animator. “You know, with the boss’ wife.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, like she’s….you know…” His laugh was like a pig drowning in the mud that it so desired.

“I thought, you know, the boss is kinda like a” (don’t say religious) “straight edge kinda guy.”

“Oh yeah, but they’re into some wild stuff, man.” Jim’s eyes extended over his face and dripped with hate. “Wild shit that you would never dream of.”

 

+++ (where is the asterisk?)

 

I always thought that dreams were just in our heads. Like if you thought of something real in your head, even though that was real, it’s still just a dream ’cause it’s just in your head. Sometimes, and I think we have to give ourselves some evolutionary credit (for whatever that means), that’s not true. What’s in our head does exist in the outside world, it’s just that you have to prove it. Look at Einstein and how those observers somewhere in Africa (a continent that my education excuses me from the direct knowledge of its geography) saw those stars during the solar eclipse.

You just have to have a good argument. I’ve never been good at arguing.

 

+++

 

“I like to dance and get drunk,” Jocelyn said. Jim chugged a handle of whiskey in the corner of the bar. Everyone else was just drinking or dancing, and Jocelyn was dancing in front of me. Like I knew how to handle that. “You want to dance?”

“I’ve, uh…I guess…dancing is uh, you know…” Dancing is a way to prove your prowess in athleticism to those around you. It’s a fluke of it looking a lot like fighting, but only a few people fight nowadays. “It’s fun.”

“You like to dance.”

The Fallacy of Self – Coupon!

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Fallacy of Self

The Waterfall

The water fell two hundred feet before striking the surface of the lake below. A man stood on top of the cliff, next to the river, and laughed. His line dangled from his fishing rod, and the form of the great Shimbaru swam at the foot of the waterfall.

“You can’t resist my bait!” The old man said, hair whisking wildly with the wind. “It is your fate!” For he had found the seventh crystal of the Lost Princess Xanthia. “See how long you can wait!”

Shimbaru stared the old man down. The crystal flashed all the colors of the world in a single moment of time. His eyes could not resist its power, and his belly grew larger with each passing second.

“Eat it! Eat it!” The wind scoured the man’s voice, so that Shimbaru only barely heard this taunt.

The mind of the fish lay elsewhere, on the crystal and the power it contained. The power to dominate men and subdue entire worlds. It was only one bite away. Surely he could snap the line and escape the old man’s hook.

“That’s it!” The man set the hook and reeled the fish in, larger than any other one that he had ever seen in his long life. “Yes!”

Shimbaru shuttered and sputtered for water. The crystal needed water to activate and achieve its full potential. His gills slowly stopped moving.

“I’m gonna have dinner for weeks!” The old man said. Just as he was netting Shimbaru, the fish gave one last flop, and dashed into the water. The man followed, unable to let go of the rod in time.

“Now is the time of my victory!” Shimbaru shouted upon landing in the water and feeding on the old man’s corpse. “Victory! VICTORY!”

I still don’t know….

The father went to the island council, where all of the elders met each season to decide where they should grow which crops, or in what waters the largest fish might be caught, or who may attain the right to marry in that year. The father begged the council, “Please, do not let my child die. We know that the great Domingo will soon arrive. Surely, he will pass us without harm, so long as we do not hook him. There is no wrath he can have against us, for he cannot leave the sea. Let me work thrice as hard, and produce as such, so that our little son may live.”

“Ah,” the eldest of the council said. He spoke in a slow and old voice. “When I was a young man, I gave up my child without argument. For I knew then, as I know now, that it is for the good of the island. Fear not, for you will have a home of your choosing, and fields of your own liking, if only you lose a son.”

The father looked at the ground, and then looked at the council. “We may sit and praise the grape Domingo, but really we are harming our own selves. To become dependent on another for your own source of well-being is to sacrifice your soul. For what may we possibly learn, if we only wait for another to arrive and provide so that we may have it easy?”

“Leave now, you blasphemous fool,” the eldest of the council said. The others joined in chorus, “Leave now. Leave now. Leave now.” They jeered and pointed with spindly fingers.

The father bowed his head and left. He went home and gathered his fishing gear, his rod and his hooks and his weights and his lures. He picked up his little son and carried him out of his crib. He walked to the ocean and sat in the sand.

Soon, the sun had set and the stars had shone and the sun had risen for the new day.

“Today,” the father said, “I will catch the great Domingo.”