Work in progress

I have recently moved into a new place, started working a new job, and it has been tricky finding time to write anything substantial recently. I have been working on something that I have enjoyed, but it feels like a pastiche of whatever I’m reading which creates a kind of schizophrenic story that’s not sure what it wants to be. However I think I’ve found my groove and I’m submitting a small excerpt for your perusal. The story centers around the life and times of an expressionist artist named Taylor Messing.

Please read and enjoy.

Taylor Messing

He was in a club, couldn’t remember the name. High class posing as low class, you wouldn’t know the difference until you ordered, then you would see the strange liqueurs made from rhubarb and lavender. Frenet Branca in the drinks and the 15 dollar price tag for cocktails. Taylor drank wine, which he did to make himself feel more like an artist and less like a phony. He tried not to be concerned about appearances, but the culture magazines always made their way to him and he would see himself picked apart in those pages. He even hired a style consultant to buy clothes for him.

He never liked dancing, but instead found himself wading through the dancers as the night wore on. The music was too loud for conversation and communication became a series of gestures and body language. Taylor watched silently and tried to be unobtrusive, but kept stepping in the line of dancers. He was out of sync and he felt it, but the rush of music and the heat of the bodies was like a salve. It was the thrum of humanity that kept him coming back, not actual connection.

A woman’s arm glanced across his face and left a trail of sweat. She stopped her dancing to apologize. He grimaced as she spoke. He couldn’t hear a word she was saying, but her face was emotive. He understood her apology and nodded. Taylor made what he thought was a gesture for drinks, but she shrugged. He pulled her close and spoke into her ear, “Would you like a drink?” She appeared to have heard him and nodded. She followed him through the crowd. They wove wordlessly up to the bar and smiled at each other. Another wordless conversation. In frustration she tugged at his shirt and pulled him to the restrooms. She pulled a small vial filled with white powder from her cleavage and scooped out a pinky nails worth before snorting it. She repeated the process and offered it to him. He leaned in and inhaled deeply.

Hands groped, kneaded, caressed, and traced along the contours of her body. Her name was Jessica, at least that was the name she gave him. She was small, elfin in appearance. Her eyes looked bigger in the black light of the club, but when they got out onto the street he could see the age in her face. Her eyes were still massive. Her grin, and the way she bit her lower lip was casting spells on his resolve. She moved into the kiss first. She was bold. She took him by the hand and lead him to the street where she quickly waved down a taxi. “You in a rush?” Taylor asked.

She turned to him her smile gleaming under the streetlights, “Yeah, I want to get fucked.” She laughed, kissed him, then returned to hailing a cab.

The cab smelled like Nag Champa with a hint of urine. Money for Nothing by Dire Straits blared on the radio when Jessica pushed him into the cab and climbed on top. “Where am I headed?” The cabbie asked disinterested in the back seat display.

Taylor broke away long enough to call out the address before returning to Jessica’s insistent mouth and hands. His eyes were closed as he ran his fingernails along her tight stomach. As they played her body dissolved into a mental landscape of hills, valleys, and peaks. Her body changed shape in his mindscape, it was no longer humanoid, but instead morphed into a kind of space craft he might have seen on a science fiction movie from the seventies. Traffic lights flickered across his closed eyelids and exacerbated the effect.

He let his mind wander down this surreal path. He pictured the decks of the craft lit in green and red. The exterior was a mass of gothic spires and trellises ornamented with gold filigree against the black wrought iron hull of her body. This image held despite the obvious suppleness of her breast which was cupped in his right hand. In his mind’s eye he saw Jessica at the helm. She stood naked except for a pair of polished knee high black leather boots. She stood behind a steering wheel that seemed to be lifted from some ancient pirate ship. Her breasts were heaving and already beading with sweat. She didn’t turn the steering wheel, instead she stroked two handles rigorously with her head thrown back. She was moaning as she stroked the handles, her volume increased with the speed of her strokes.

“We’re here.” The cabbie barked, “Twenty three seventy five.”

The spell was broken. Jessica licked her lips and Mick Jagger was crooning on the radio. Taylor shook the fog from his head and slapped some bills into the cabbie’s hand.

………………………………….

Sheldon

This is a shorter post today. I was playing with the idea of an adult children’s book. simplistic, but creepy.

Enjoy.

Sheldon.

There is nothing to be afraid of. You didn’t actually hear anything crash through the security door at the bottom of the stairs. Pull your thin flannel sheet over your head so it can’t see you. You may have heard your neighbor scream, but that doesn’t mean the lumbering footsteps you hear in the hallway are going to stop at your door. Roll over and try not to breathe. It helps to sing a little song in your head, something from your childhood will calm your nerves as you wait out the monster that just snapped your door handle off with the ease of a child popping the head from a dandelion.

If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a big surprise.

If you go down to the woods today you’ll hardly believe your eyes.

It is helping, isn’t it? If you think very loudly it will drown out the sound of his breathing as he opens your bedroom door. Your muscles feel tight, don’t they? That is adrenalin. The sheet will protect you just keep it over your head.

The sound of its nail carving at the foot of your bed is distracting, but you just keep singing your song.

They’re in the trees where nobody sees.

They’ll laugh and play as long as they please.

Its hot breath is on your feet. You can feel it through the sheet. Don’t move. He may take you for a scrunched up blanket or a few pillows if you lay still.

There is nothing to be afraid of. It isn’t smelling your flesh beneath the cover. It most certainly hasn’t reached your head. You can ignore the thin talons gripping the top of your sheet, he didn’t actually touch your knuckle and is likely still fooled by your clever ruse. Don’t forget your song.

That’s they way the teddy bears have their picnic.

You can’t actually see the beast, because there is blood in your eyes, but at least you didn’t scream. The other tenants won’t be near as clever as you were.

Hunter S Thompson

It’s been a while since I posted anything. I have been writing a lot of non-fiction lately and it has taken a lot of my time, but I wanted to post this piece. I was given an assignment to write about Hunter S Thompson and his abuse of drugs and alcohol. This is what I wrote before I got the full instructions. The finished piece was good, but I thought this was more playful and better suited to my personal blog.

Please enjoy

 

I’ve never been a big fan of personal heroes. Heroes have an elevated position that creates unrealistic standards of who and what they are. It’s like the objectification of women to me, it’s fun intellectually, but as soon as they start talking the cover is blown. They become human, and therefore cease to be objects. I have never liked objectification so I never had heroes. When it comes to writing there are perhaps two people, and I regret that they are both white men. I wish there was a more inclusive list in my head, but there isn’t so we need to move past this. One is William S Burroughs and the other is Hunter S Thompson. Luckily they are both deceased so they’re actions are immortalized and fixed. I can objectify them all I want now.

The subject of this article is Hunter S Thompson and his prolific drug and alcohol use. I have used both drugs and alcohol, but never to the legendary levels that Mr. Thompson used drugs and alcohol. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to try and follow his drug regimen as listed through multiple sources on the internet here, here, and here. I would also like to note that I am not lampooning Mr. Thompson’s gonzo style so much as paying homage to a man that meant a lot to me over the years. You would see through it in a heartbeat if I tried.

His drug regimen began at 3pm when he woke. He would apparently have Chivas Regal, a Dunhill cigarette and read the paper. I have none of those things, so I am already off to a bad start. It follows with Cocaine at 3:45. I don’t have that either. Luckily as of the time of this writing it is only 9:43 am so I have time before his schedule takes effect. Chivas Regal is a blended Scotch Whiskey and fairly easy to acquire. The Dunhills will be easy as well, they just require a walk to the store. I will resume writing once I return.

I couldn’t find a newspaper, I found it odd, but they were out at every gas station that I passed. I was walking into the last grocery store on my way back when I saw him. A man of about 6 feet tall with dark sunglasses. He had a stack of newspapers under his arm and was moving rapidly towards a vehicle that was idling nearby. I ran towards him, but was not quick enough to catch him. The vehicle sped away and nearly clipped me as it moved past. I lit a cigarette and decided a free City Pages would work in place of an honest newspaper.

Cocaine is not as difficult to acquire as you might think. I don’t have any great connections in the city. I do not know any drug dealers. I didn’t think I knew any. I was mistaken. I passed a friend on my way to get a newspaper, we’ll call him J for sake of anonymity. I told him about my bold experiment. He said, without skipping a beat, “How much do you need?” I told him quite a lot to really do the experiment properly. He replied, “Meet me back here in about twenty minutes.” I agreed and decided to drink some of the Chivas while I waited.

It is not legal to drink in public where I live. I don’t usually drink before noon, but given the fact that I was waiting for coke on a city street to help write an article about Hunters S. Thompson I suddenly felt painfully sober at 11 am. I cracked the bottle and took a deep pull.

I sat on a nearby bench waiting for my drugs and sipping at my bottle. When you sip on a bottle of alcohol it has been my experience that it is difficult to gauge how much you have drunk. When my friend returned I stood to greet him. All the alcohol I had ingested hit me like a tidal wave and I felt my head swoon. A glance at the bottle in my hand told me I had about half the bottle put away. Not too shabby, but I hadn’t eaten much so the sudden inebriation was intensified and I doubled over. I reached out to the bench that I was sure existed, but missed and cracked my head on the cement. The bottle rolled gently to a patch of grass and was feeding the ground with its contents.

After J was done laughing he helped me up and grabbed what was left of the scotch. I blathered at him and tried to hand him money for the drugs. He pushed my hand away and kept telling me to put the cash back in my pocket. I was insistent, “I need that coke.” I yelled. That’s when I heard a new voice above me. I looked up and saw what appeared to be a pit bull dressed as a man. He had a dark blue bullet proof vest and a matching hat. He barked in a way that sounded like an order, but I was beyond the English language at that point and tried to ignore him in the hopes that he would go away. The rest of the encounter was a blur. What I do know is that I was not arrested and neither was my friend, since he was unable to score the drugs he was sure he could procure. I was given a fine and my scotch was taken from me.

By some miracle I made it back to my place and promptly passed out in the doorway. 3 o’clock came and went and I woke somewhere around 7 very sore and unable to turn my neck. I considered the experiment over and a complete failure. I couldn’t get past breakfast and that is my lament, but as Hunter once said, “I hate to advocate for drugs and alcohol, but they’ve worked so well for me.” I am not Hunter and to tell the complete truth I am glad of this. I am more glad that he was the inspiration for adventures like this and it is his spirit that sometimes spurs me to push myself beyond the ordinary boundaries I am acquainted with.

Thank you Mr. Thompson and I wish you well wherever you may be.

Profiles

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I have always enjoyed dialogue. I like hearing the variances in individual voices so this series of shorts is all about voices. The first two stories are told in first person perspective and the last is an epistle using twitter as a format. The formatting didn’t translate well into WordPress, so please forgive me for not wanting to spend an hour re-spacing the story.

These are essentially sketches that may become something bigger down the line, but for now enjoy the experiment for what it is.

Please enjoy.

Kermit.

I was on the porch. Music was playing in the living room. It sounded like something from the 80s, synth heavy and vaguely punk in its orchestration. I felt the need to lay down on the matted couch. Diamond strike on back matches caught my eye on the small end table among a garden of liquor bottles and cigarette butts. At the far end of the porch there was a rusty collection of gardening tools set on a gurney from a Hearse. The gurney was held up by cinder blocks and made into a kind of low table that also housed a collection of bottles and a ripped white parasol along with the garden equipment. A cool breeze swept through the porch lifting the lighter ash from the end table. The ash swirled in the air like a dancing ghost and I was swept up in the jig for a heavenly moment before the breeze caught my skin and raised goose flesh on my arms and chest. I felt the effects of the hallucinogenic mushrooms at this point. I knew I was no longer sober.

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The house was suddenly foreboding so I couldn’t go back, but the street was dangerous and fraught with unknown perils. I chose the street. I walked out shirtless and barefoot into the yard and was instantly struck by the way the light and shadows lay on the lawn. It looked like a light made in the shape of a large snowflake. I was barely ten feet from the porch and I was already stalled by the heavenly lights pouring through the trees. I ripped my eyes away from the snowflakes and stopped myself from giggling at the surreal humor mundane things hold when you are not sober.

I was away from the house on the sidewalk and walking in an unknown direction. “Aren’t you cold?”

A voice behind me spoke and I was instantly terrified. I became suddenly rigid and willed myself not to look at whatever beast was behind me. I didn’t answer the question, but now that it was asked I couldn’t trust my senses to give me accurate information. I tried to focus on whether or not I felt cold. I was I decided, my skin felt cold to the touch, but I wasn’t sure if I was touching my own arm or someone else’s so I turned to look and saw that it was my arm. I didn’t feel particularly cold on the inside, I felt warm in my chest and in my head which felt as though it was pulsing from fever. “Yes and no,” I answered.

“Are you sure?” The voice said and followed the new question with a giggle.

“No.” I answered.

“You should go inside.”

“That’s impossible.” The voice behind giggled again. I wondered for a moment whether I was imagining the voice. The shrooms were very clearly doing their job and I was fantasy prone and could be having a conversation with myself. I tried to predict the next thing the voice would say. I couldn’t think of a phrase and for a brief agonizing moment forgot how to speak English. I hoped that I would be able to understand the next question. I made myself speak, “Please help me.” I pushed out what I guessed was an English phrase and had a moment of lucidity, “I shouldn’t be outside on my own.”

“What did you take?” The owner of the voice came into view. It was a woman, young, but her hair looked white under the streetlights.

“Mushrooms of some kind.” I answered and my eyes suddenly became very focused on her lips. They looked thick and had some kind of lipstick on them. Her tongue darted out and curled over her perfect white teeth.

She took my hand. Her heat warmed every part of me. There was no sexual attraction at that moment. I was completely incapable of fucking so I pushed it from my mind, but I was suddenly filled with what I could only assume unconditional love feels like. I wasn’t sure if she was black or white. She could have been transgendered, but none of that mattered at that moment I was like a baby chick and this was my mother. “Where do you live?”

I shrugged and turned my head around to see if I could spot my house. It was right there in front of me looming like an ancient God. Bright and barely twenty paces from where I stood. “There it is. I can’t go alone.” My eyes pleaded with her.

“I’ll walk you up.” She smiled and lead my up the small stoop and back onto the porch. She sat me on the couch and kissed me on the lips. “You stay here until I get back.” She gently ordered.

“When will that be?” I asked my voice had taken on a child-like quality that I hated, but couldn’t stop.

“Soon, but you stay on the porch.” She pulled a blanket from the back of the couch and wrapped it around me before she turned and left. I watched the door as she left.

One of my housemates inside turned off the porch light and I didn’t have the strength to tell them I was there so I swam in the darkness of the porch and drifted between the vast darkness in my mind and the finite dark of the porch. I knew there was light inside I just needed to make the journey. It was not an obstacle I could overcome in my state. I revisited the dark in my head and let it take me. I saw colorful fractals and the psychological homunculus of my body was distorted beyond recognition I changed my mental shape like Play Doh. I transformed myself into a woman for several seconds before the shape lost its solvency, but that was as far as my body experiments went because the drug was slowly tapering off by that time. My savior never returned so I went inside and went to bed.

Jennifer.

I pulled a chilled lowball from the cooler, poured a thin line of absinthe into the glass and swirled it. The sazerac is one of my favorite drinks to make. It takes a level of preparation I appreciate. Next I grabbed a pint glass and filled it with rye, simple syrup and bitters. Capped the pint glass with a Boston shaker and shook it rigorously trying to break up the ice enough to dilute it slightly and release the flavors, but not so much that it emasculates the rye. Swirled the lowball one more time before dumping out the excess absinthe and then strain the rye into the glass. Shaved off some lemon zest for garnish and put it on the well for the tiniest waitress I had ever met, Carla, to pick it up. All night every night I mixed sazeracs, manhattans, cosmopolitans and martinis for the rich fucks that drink at my bar. Despite the fancy swagger of the décor and the jazz piped in when we don’t have live music we are still just a bar.

I had a few idle minutes so I washed glasses while keeping an eye on the customers faces. It was a slow night and I wasn’t making much in tips so I wanted desperately to leave. The guy at the end of the bar kept watching my ass and usually that doesn’t bother me, but I was feeling ready to jump down his throat. He was a thick guy with that five o’clock shadow that comes with a guy who has to shave every day, like it never really goes away. He also had some kind of aftershave or cologne floating off of him. It wasn’t too heavy, but I was always pretty sensitive to smells and his was bugging me.

A few hours later I took a smoke break. The customers left and it was just me and Carla waiting for our shifts to end. I stood to head back inside when the ass watcher appeared in front of me, “Could I get a light?” He smirked.

I forced a smile and nodded. I reached for my back pocket and pulled the lighter flicking it as I lifted it when he reached for my wrist. I jerked my hand back and let out a ‘no’ before I could stop myself.

“Sorry, you’ve got a wrist brace. How’d you hurt it?”

I shook my head and left him without a light. I could still see his stupid smirk in my mind’s eye. He followed me into the bar. “Listen,” I started in, “I’m going to need you to leave sir.”

“I’m sorry,” He raised his hands and dropped the smirk. “I got off on the wrong foot with you. I shouldn’t have touched you and I apologize for that.”

“I accept your apology, now please leave.”

The apologetic face was replaced with an angry expression. He lowered his head and I could feel how empty the bar was. I didn’t see the Carla anywhere and I felt suddenly aware of how much bigger this guy was than me. “Do you know who I am?” It was a phrase I had become accustomed to at this bar anytime I told my clientele ‘no’. I got really good at staring them down when I was backed by a full staff and large number of customers, now it was just him and me and I felt scared. “I do not, but I am currently feeling threatened and I will ask you one more time to leave or I will have to call the police.”

The air felt really heavy and I made sure to keep my eyes on him the whole time and prayed that my expression was more stoic than it felt. He finally nodded and left the bar.

I got on the other side of the bar and called my boss instantly. While I was on the phone the waitress sauntered in and answered automatically, “I had to use the bathroom.” She could tell I was livid from my expression alone. I felt a little bad at how much I enjoyed instilling fear into my coworkers, but I was feeling selfish.

Marlon.

th

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 31 Aug

I saw something tonight that I can’t explain. There were a bunch of people singing, but it was super creepy. I think they were Satanists!

Drew Haskell @bropocalypse 01 Sep

@TechPagon Yo, they were just hippies!!! LOL

Sheri Powell @SheriPowell 01 Sep

@bropocalypse @TechPagon You’re both jumping to conclusions. Go talk to them and maybe you won’t have to make assumptions. #checkyourprivilege

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 01 Sep

@SheriPowell I went back today and there was a big circle with a pentagram and I think there was blood in the center of the circle.

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 01 Sep

@SheriPowell zero assumptions. #checkyourprivilege

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 03 Sep

there was a dead cat on my front porch today.

Sheri Powell @SheriPowell 03 Sep

@TechPagon It was probably just a stray.

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 03 Sep

@SheriPowell It was nailed to the door in an upside down crucifix.

Drew Haskell @bropocalypse 03 Sep

@TechPagon Dude that was me. Found him next to the dumpster yesterday.

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 03 Sep

@bropocalypse You are such a bitch!

Drew Haskell @bropocalypse 03 Sep

@TechPagon Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 04 Sep

I am seriously getting freaked out! I’m going to keep tweeting so there is a record if anything happens to me. Twitter is forever. Right?

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 05 Sep

Before anybody starts commenting let me get this out. I went to the woods and they were there again. I know about the occult and thought I might try talking.

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 05 Sep

There were fifteen people dressed in red robes. Mostly women, the man at the center was saying a prayer in a language I nev

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 05 Sep

Er heard before. It drew me in, like music even though they weren’t singing. They smiled as I approached, some of them

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 05 Sep

Patted me on the shoulder. The man at the center kept speaking, but his eyes were on me. I could feel them even with my eyes shut. I saw the

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 05 Sep

Sky open up like a black opal surrounded by a golden ring and I wept. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I swear angels w

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 05 Sep

Ith trumpets descended towards me and suddenly I felt a fever come on me like a wave across my soul. This was a dark fever and it was a

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 05 Sep

T that point I understood I was no longer Marlon. I wasn’t a man or a woman, nor even a beast. I was a God. I have never felt such peace as I d

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 05 Sep

Id in that moment. I murdered the congregation of course. My hunger demands blood. I do feel some small pity for Marlon’s parents, but they

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 05 Sep

Would have stood in my way.

Drew Haskell @bropocalypse 06 Sep

@TechPagon That’s a pretty creepy story bro. You should have put that on Creepy pasta, seriously I’m getting chills.

Marlon S. Baker @TechPagon 04 Sep

@bropocalypse Thank you Drew. Say, I wonder who that is at your door?

Hayward Blues

I wrote a short story two weeks ago. I used the HBO drama True Detective as my writing prompt for the story. Hayward Blues is a straight cop procedural with a few supernatural flourishes. The Detective in the story is an everyman named Jeff Lowe and the town he grew up in is changing around him in a negative way, but he feels powerless to slow its demise even as a detective. I was trying to capture a noir feel and I think I succeeded.

Enjoy.

There was a drive-by shooting. A gang of Native Americans came from the nearby Indian reservation and fired automatic weapons into the woods where a house was set a hundred yards deep into the trees. Their goal was to send a message to a rival from town. He had shacked up with his old lady. No one died, but the girlfriend has to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Jeff closed his eyes and took a deep breath before he got closer to the body. “Have we I.D.ed the body?”

“Kelley Molson.” One of the uniformed officers answered.

“I know that name.” He crouched next to the body. Kelley Molson’s hands were missing and a strange symbol was carved into his forehead. “He works with Richard Heller.”

“Yeah.” The officer replied. “You think he did this?”

“Maybe.” A thin path of dry blood trailed from the corner of Kelley’s mouth to his chin where it turned into a gummy stalactite. “I grew up with Richard.”

The author claims no writes to this photo.

Heidi Crus was home one afternoon when she heard a knock at the door. Jeff stood on the stoop with his badge hung at his chest. Her eyes scanned the badge and traced back up to his face, her face was neutral, almost bored. She left the door open and receded into her apartment. He entered. The coffee table was littered with items, cocaine on a mirror, a powdered credit card, two iguanas with their toes hanging limply over the edge of the table and a large hookah at the center. Heidi flopped on the couch, her right arm reflexively crossed behind her head as she pulled a tendril from the hookah and sucked the smoke into her lungs. She was glassy-eyed and languid. “Where is Richard?” He asked.

“Gone.” she answered with an almost imperceptible shrug.

The room was muggy with heat and all the windows were covered with heavy blankets that cast the room in an orange gloom. He cleared his throat, “I’m looking for Richard.” They have known each other since elementary school but had to stop. He was a violent thug in his youth, but the years mellowed him. Now that he saw her she looked like a ghost of the girl he knew.

Memories of old sexual encounters relayed at the back of his brain in a rapid-fire montage with the girl that laid on the couch in front of him. He hadn’t taken a seat yet, but the scene was depressing him and he wanted to leave already. “He’s a fuckhead.” She said as she shifted onto her side.

He suddenly didn’t know what to do with his hands so he stuffed them in his pockets. “We tried his number.” One of the iguanas shifted and turned almost knocking the hookah over in its haste

“He got into a fight with a bartender last night. They cut him off. I left without him.” She took another puff off the hookah. “Do you want a hit?” She offered. Her eyes were flirtatious with the hint of a smile curling at the corner of her mouth. It was the sly half smile he remembered. The girl he remembered was still in there, buried under asshole boyfriends and prolonged drug use. He didn’t blame her, didn’t think to arrest her for the coke, he just felt sad for her. Years of disappointment left everyone a ghost.

“No thanks.” Her feet rubbed against each other. The movement drew his eyes. “Which bar?”

“Lincoln’s Pub,” She answered.

He put a business card on the coffee table. “If he comes back, have him call me.” she didn’t pick it up, she just pulled the mouthpiece back to her mouth and took another draw.

Outside he felt the blood rushing through his veins. He looked back at the door. Memories were fucking with him, conjuring forgotten emotions. He shook them off as he climbed into his truck. Nothing good would come from him going back to her.

Lincoln’s Pub was an old creaking bar. It had a reputation as an upscale joint in the seventies, but it’s lost its shine, now it’s the kind of place old drunks go to die. The smell of decades old nicotine still hung on its walls and the floor was sticky as he walked to the bar. Jeff flashed his badge at the bartender.

On the stage a band was setting up. The sound man was hooking cords together while the band members drank beers and laughed at inside jokes amongst themselves. Jeff smelled marijuana and he looked over, but nobody was passing a pipe or a joint.

The bartender moved closer and waited for the question. Jeff rehashed the fight to the bartender who corroborated the incident and the bartender on duty. He wrote Cody Reynolds address down on a bar coaster.

The trailer park Cody lived in was a nightmare. None of the lots were marked, the roads that crisscrossed the park were riddled with potholes and it looked deserted, luckily it was small. Jeff circled twice before he found Cody’s place. People watched Jeff through beige blinds and floral print curtains. His trailer had a wooden deck attached to it with a greasy propane grill and a weather warped case of beer next to white plastic patio furniture. There weren’t ashtrays on the table, but there was a forest of stuffed butts on plates and in the tops of tallboy beer cans.

The storm door was all but ripped off its hinges from years of misuse and the primary door had a football shaped hole at shin level. The door hung open. Leaves had already drifted into the house. Jeff cautiously opened the door and stepped inside. “Police. I am looking for Cody.” The house was still.

Cigarette funk seemed to hover in the air. Somewhere in the distance he heard a baby crying. He did a quick sweep of the trailer, he noticed the master bedroom was wide open. The water bed dominated the room and a man sat at the edge of the bed swaying slowly. “Your door was open.” Jeff said loudly. The man continued to sway in place. Jeff lifted his gun from its holster. “Sir, please respond. I need you to turn around.”

Jeff circled the bed. The man didn’t look at him. His hands were gone, blood drained all over his lap and onto the floor. He sported the same strange cross that adorned Kelley’s forehead. The man’s eyes darted up at him. His mouth drew open in an “O” shape. Thick black blood pooled in his mouth and fell forth like a dam when he moved away from Jeff. Jeff reared back startled by the sudden motion. The man didn’t make it far. He crossed half the bed and stopped cold.

Jeff stepped out of the bedroom and went for his radio. “I need backup and an ambulance at 3378 Hargrove Place, Lot 792. Get here fast as you can.” Jeff turned back and saw the motion a second too late. It was Richard, he bashed into Jeff and tried to run down the hallway. The hall was too narrow for him to break away. Jeff grabbed hold of his arm, threw a forearm into the back of his neck and stamped on the back of his knee simultaneously. “What the fuck are you doing? Didn’t you see my fucking badge?” He put his arm around the guy’s neck and held it there without applying too much pressure. His pulse was accelerated and he was seeing red. He threw him to the ground and kicked him in the midsection for good measure before he handcuffed him. “Motherfucker.”

Richard was shackled in a small brightly lit room with two plastic chairs and a table set against the wall. The room looked more like a closet then an interrogation room. There was no mirror, just a small camera covered with black plastic in the ceiling. Richard leaned back against the white brick wall with his eyes closed. He was breathing loudly trying to wish himself away from this place.

Jeff stepped in with a notebook and a piece of paper.“This is a confession.” Jeff put the paper in front of Richard, “Read it.”

Richard opened his eyes and looked at the paper. “I didn’t do shit.” He said through clenched teeth.

“Talk to me. Tell me what happened.” Jeff sat down across from him.

“Fuck man, I didn’t do this shit. He was like that when I got there.” He leaned his head against the wall. He was grinding his teeth and his eyes were watery.

“You got in a fight with Cody at Lincoln’s Pub last night and then you went to his place to get even.” Jeff laid it out.

“No.” He leaned forward in the chair resting his forearms on the table. His hands were fidgeting and his eyes were downcast. “I got in a fight with him last night, yeah, but I wasn’t going over to fuck with him. I walked out to the Res and then went to his place. He was like that when I got there.”

“Why were you over there?”

“I was, I was gonna sell him somethin’.” He shifted nervously in his seat.

“Right now you are in a very bad place. There are two dead bodies and you are my primary suspect. I can’t help you unless you tell me everything.” Jeff clicked a pen and put it on top of the confession. Richard watched the pen intensely as he placed it down.

“Crying Hawk,” Richard said quietly.

“Tom Crying Hawk?” Jeff responded.

Richard nodded, then he looked Jeff in the eyes. “Dude’s going on the warpath. He was sayin’ all kinds of weird shit about death and retribution. He said they were stealing from him.”

“Who was stealing from him?”

“He didn’t say, just said ‘they’.”

“Why did you go to the Res?”

Richard’s eyes were fixated on the paper in front of him. “I’ve been with his sister. She wasn’t around last night, so I bought some crystal. I was gonna sell some to Cody as a peace offering, but he was dead and then you came in. I didn’t kill him. I didn’t kill anybody. It was Crying Hawk, you gotta believe me.” He looked up at Jeff. “I didn’t do this shit.”

The Reservation was made up of several Native American communities and was predominantly forest. None of them were towns in the traditional sense. To the outside world it was just a casino and some duty free shops, but the bulk of the populace lived away from the tourism. The young natives formed mafia-like gangs throughout the region. The large forested area made it near impossible to regulate criminal activities and the flow of drugs in and out of the reservation. Racketeering, drug smuggling and extortion were all common crimes on the Res.

Tom Crying Hawk lived in a small trailer nestled among trees and undergrowth almost a mile from the road. Jeff turned into his long unpaved driveway. The gutted remains of cars lined the trail. He heard howling before he saw the metal pen that housed three large wolves. The air was filled with the smell of roasting meat and dog shit. An army of motorcycles and ratty looking cars were parked out front. A bonfire was burning and several men were milling about with beers in hand. Jeff’s stomach sank.

He stepped out of his car and took a deep breath into his lungs. ‘Play it cool,’ he thought to himself. ‘Just ask a few questions and if you have evidence call for back up.’ He took his time walking up to the trailer, his badge dangling around his neck suddenly felt heavier with all the eyes on him. No one spoke to him, but he could feel the cold wash of their scrutiny. He heard a bottle crash against the bonfire. At the door he took another breath before knocking.

The door opened. A woman greeted him with a smile the was wiped away when she saw his badge. “It’s the cops,” She said with a sneer in her voice.

“I have few questions for Tom,” Jeff spoke calmly. He could feel the teenagers growing restless next to the fire. There was no conversation between them which meant they were waiting for him to make a move.

A booming voice inside answered, “Let him in.”

The woman stepped out of the way and Jeff stepped across the threshold. The trailer was nice. Double wide with wood trim over everything. The living room was furnished with leather furniture and a massive flat screen TV hung on the wall. Some reality show with an MTV logo at the corner of the screen was playing. There were five men sitting around a dining room table on the other side of the living room. They had drinks around them and cards on the table. One of them was smoking a fat cigar.

Tom Crying Hawk sat at the head of the table shirtless. He was a well built man. All his muscles bulged even as he sat with cards in his hand. His hair was pulled back in a long braid. “What do you need man?” He said with a smile.

“I have a few questions about Kelley Molson and Cody Reynolds.”

“I know them.” He stood up, “What about it?”

“They turned up dead today and,” He cleared his throat, “someone blamed you.”

The smile fell away from his face. “Who did that?”

“I can’t say. Not until the case is closed.”

He stepped from behind the table, “I got a right to face my accuser. You should tell me and save us both a lot of trouble.”

“I can’t do that.” Jeff felt a quiver in his voice and took a step back.

Crying Hawk had an elaborate skull tattoo on his chest the eyes of the skull were stuffed with roses and a Red snake was trailing out from the mouth and circled around his shoulder. He also sported a black tear under his left eye. His face lost all trace of civility. Jeff felt his heart in his throat and wanted to run, but that would only throw the army out front into a frenzy and he would never see his home again. He was close enough that Jeff could smell the Scotch on his breath. “I say you can white man!”

Instead of a response Jeff unclipped his gun holster.

“Where do you think you are?” His eyes darted to the gun and back to Jeff’s face. He could hear people behind him. They came in from the bonfire to see the show. “Who the fuck said this shit about me. You can walk away, juts tell me his name.”

Jeff opened his mouth, Richard’s name was on his tongue, but the moment it escaped from his mouth Jeff knew that would be the end of Richard. Crying Hawk’s eyes bore into him with unrelenting ferocity. “I…” The crowd behind him was close. “I can’t.” He let it fall from his mouth. The hands behind claimed him.

Outside the mob was laying into him with hands and feet. He felt a belt lash his back. He reached for his gun, but a stray boot intercepted him before he could reach it. He heard Crying Hawk order, “Get his gun!” This was his last chance if they got to his firearm his life was over.

One of the men kicked him over and others moved in to pin him down. Jeff threw a punch that caught flesh and managed to get his hand to the grip of his gun. Her clicked the safety and fired. The shot went into the ground, but the sound was enough to give him a moments space. He pushed off the ground and held his gun out in front of him. “Back the fuck off!” They could rush him and he’d be fucked, but no one wanted to be the first to take a bullet.

Jeff blasted for his truck. He heard the cage unlatch and the snarling sound of wolves. He swiveled on his feet. A wolf jumped for him its teeth bared. He fired a shot that caught the wolf full in the chest. It whimpered for a moment before falling lifeless on the ground.

The other two had gotten to his hood and were barking at the windshield. He got the door shut and started the car. They weren’t pursuing him any further. The wolves jumped off the hood as he pulled around hitting cars as he clumsily maneuvered away from Crying Hawk’s place.

The investigation wasn’t over. Richard was his only link to Crying Hawk’s potential involvement and it was only a matter of time before Crying Hawk came knocking on Richard’s door. He was weary, but the bruises on his ribs put revenge in his mind. He was going to find something on Crying Hawk. His city, his place was changing all around him and nothing was going to bring back the home of his youth, but he could sure as Hell get even. Heidi’s door was closed when he arrived. She greeted him with a smile this time. “I have a few more questions for Richard.”

“Sure, he’s in the bedroom.” She let him in. Heidi touched his shoulder as he walked in. Jeff turned to her. “You look tired.” She said.

“Very.” The iguanas were off the coffee table and lounging on a rock in the corner with a heat lamp beating down on them.

“Let me help.” She pressed her fingers gently into his shoulders and Jeff’s eyes reflexively closed. “Sit.”

“I shouldn’t.” His protests were futile, she guided him to the couch and worked his back more.

He lost track of time and found she had snaked herself around into front of him. “I was happy to see you.” She said with her half curled smile.

He didn’t say anything. She leaned in and kissed his mouth. Her tongue darted between his lips and he didn’t fight it. He kissed her back. Fireworks went off in his brain and he was enraptured by her moist lips and the incense smell of her place. His hands clumsily groped at her breasts and she moaned softly as she pressed herself closer to him. He was lost in heat, but a sound from the back broke the spell. He pulled himself away. “I can’t.” He said and willed himself off the couch.

“Don’t worry about Richard.” She jeered. “He’s useless.”

Jeff shook the fog from his brain and headed for the back. Richard was dead on her bed. Blood had welled up on his chest from what looked like multiple stab wounds. Jeff’s mouth dropped open and he felt a needle in his neck. He thrashed back, but whatever was in the needle was already working its way into his bloodstream and his arms felt like liquid. He stumbled onto the ground Heidi stood over him smiling. “There’s a storm coming Jeff. I’m sorry that you won’t get to see it, but there is a plan and I’m so sorry you had to get caught up in it. I really was happy to see you.” She kissed him on the forehead and knelt next to him as his eyes closed. Her pretty half smile was the last thing Jeff Lowe saw.

Ghost Dance

In Minneapolis, it is raining. The weather has cooled from the mid-nineties to the low sixties. I’m feeling a bit thoughtful today and have since last night when I started posting strange nonsequiturs on Instagram and Twitter. They read well but were symptomatic of the shift in my mood from aggressive pursuit of financial security to the more easy going thoughtfulness that comes with the achievement of my goals. I still have more work to do and not to rely on cliche, but I feel a weight has been lifted.

Today’s story is a piece of erotica I wrote in New Orleans around Halloween last year. It is short, strange and a lot of fun to write. Please enjoy Ghost Dance.

Sleeping_with_ghosts

“The house is haunted. That’s apparently a selling point.” My potential landlord said in a perky tone.

“Really?” I repeated.

“Surprisingly yes. A lot of people enjoy the thrill of living with a ghost. I don’t believe it myself, but it’s definitely been brought up by more than a few tenants.” she went on as she moved through the house.

“I’ll take it.” I found myself warming to the idea of a supernatural roommate. She smiled and brought me to the kitchen to fill out some paperwork and worked through the details of the lease. I nodded absently and found myself already looking for signs of a presence other than our own. I felt nothing. Saw nothing and felt hustled by the absurd pitch.

The apartment was definitely worn. The walls were painted spirit blue and the floors were hardwood. The bedroom and primary room had what looked like an ancient fireplace caked in decades old white paint. It had apparently never functioned as anything more than sound insulation according to the landlord. The apartment had a balcony, a fairly large kitchen, and a spacious bathroom. The place had the smell of age. I stood in the bedroom as she left waiting to see the mysterious wraith. I half expected the walls to bleed the moment she closed the door. Still nothing.

I wanted to believe. I wanted to see something of this hidden world others claimed to have experienced. My grandmother showed me pictures of fairies in the garden and ghosts in her hallway as I grew up. I believed, but only because I was a child. As a grown man, I saw nothing that supported her claims and those pictures never resurfaced in any photo albums and she never spoke of them.

I moved in. Days passed and still my specter refused to appear. I all but forgot about the dubious selling point.

I crept into bed on a chilly night. The sheets chilled me as pulled them over me. After the heat of the previous month, the drop was a welcome change, but it still sent a shiver down my spine. My mind was releasing the work of the day and shedding the last of my tension.

I felt something lightly catch on the hem of my sheet. I shifted and pulled the sheet closer to my chin. Again the sheet shifted and a breeze flowed down over my chest. I pulled it up again and settled onto my side gripping the covering. Something gently touched my cheek and I swatted at it. I opened my eyes to the darkness. The ceiling above was bare and there were no insects buzzing. I shifted upright and sat against the wall. A hand touched my shoulder from behind. I felt a thrill pass through me. My ghost. I let the touch linger tried to focus on it. Every detail. I wanted to remember and tell people later about my haunting.

The touch stayed and moved gingerly down my back and crept over my flank. I let the sheet fall from my chest. Another hand touched my chest and I felt pressure on my lap. A whisper touch on my lips and a flush warmth rose through me. I reached my hands out hoping to find something. I felt skin. The smooth slope of an ass and the crush of invisible breasts on my chest. The ghost’s hands moved down my torso and reached into my briefs.

I held my breath. The world stood still. Nothing in my life had prepared me for this meeting. My eyes opened and closed in rapid succession trying to find my unexpected lover. Feathery hands pulled my penis free. Hot and cold laced together as her phantom hands stroked me.

There was weight and mass, but no image. Nothing for my eyes to focus on, but the spirit blue walls and the foot of my bed. Whatever demon form she took I wanted to see her face. The image must’ve been absurd. My hands hanging in the thin air caressing curves that couldn’t be perceived. My mind filled in her form from the braille of her exquisite body. Sharp shoulder blades. The fan of her hair became clear with my eyes closed.

Her tongue swirled with mine. My hips were bucking against what felt like her thigh. Her hands guiding me into her and I felt the warmth engulf me. There was nothing in my world that could tear me from that moment. The traffic sounds outside dimmed. The dull monotone of the refrigerator. I was still in the waking world. This wasn’t a dream. Her weight shifted and pieces of my will evaporated and I began moaning. Making sounds I hadn’t made since I discovered and explored sex with Becky back in high school.

Spectral nails raked my back. I could hear the slapping sound of our thighs smacking each other over and over again until there was a shudder and the pace had to be started again. Her smell. Her moaning and finally her form materializing like a wash of watercolor in front of my eyes. Her eyes were such an absolute black that it pulled in all light. Her skin was alabaster. Her hair was black and stuck to her forehead from her exertion. She shuddered once more and she smiled before her weight was suddenly gone. Nothing remained.

“Now I believe.” I smiled and drifted off to sleep.

As always, thank you for reading. Please submit a story.

Kristopher Bishop 

note: Image was lifted from a Placebo album cover. I found it on a google search for public use images. I claim no rights to the image.

This is my Body, This is my Blood

As I’ve gotten older I’ve been finding inspiration in new places. When I was younger and playing a lot more roleplaying games than was probably healthy I would flip through the phone book for character names. The names are often all I needed to craft a fully realized background.

In recent years, I find someone in the bar or restaurant I’m at and I make up a little story about them. Whether or not the story matches closely to their actual life is irrelevant. It was just a thought experiment to help me write better. I had a hard time pulling those ideas out when I sat down at home to write and that brings us to what I’ve been doing lately.  Last week I pulled a series of phrases and crafted a short story out of those phrases. It’s not exactly cut up style, but I have found recently that when I’m stuck with where to go I can look at a phrase within the context of the story I’m writing and give it a new meaning. I have found it to be incredibly helpful.

Below is a new piece of flash fiction I wrote using a few phrases I lifted from twitter. It is an original piece apart from the handful of words I used for inspiration.

Enjoy.

Criminal turned actor, people called him Jack. Criminal turned actor read well on paper like maybe he turned his life around. “That’s the sound of Thunder.” He said as he lit the blunt.

We were standing next to a bench next to a large gothic church. There were people nearby, all of them focused on their own strangeness. This is where the refuse sleeps, out on these benches. During the day, it is teeming with performers and fortune tellers, but the night was for the unwashed stinking reprobates. My tribe as much as I hated it.

The criminal turned actor said, “Smoke of this blunt for it is my body, drink of this forty for it is my blood.” Jack’s face cracked into a smile, “Is it raining or just moisting?” He looked at the sky in a wistful way. I shrugged unsure of the answer. I hadn’t felt any rain, but the rain came and went with mysterious stealth in this part of the world. He extended the blunt to me. The joint cherry cracked gently as its blazing core decimated the paper. I focused on the smoke rising from it, took the joint and pulled it to my lips. I inhaled deeply and remembered I shouldn’t take such large hits, but it was an old habit.

Jack kept smiled, I couldn’t look at him when I was high. I turned to the others. A homeless man mumbled to himself as I drew in the sweet smoke, “I been here for forty years! Right here! I got them dirty motherfuckers. I got them dirty motherfuckers and I’ll kick your ass! You fucker. I been her forty years. I’ll be here after your gone. You don’t know shit, motherfucker.” The bum’s name was Kermit, like the frog. I knew him. He was my future. I could see it in his wrinkled dry apple face.

“Drink of this forty.” He smiled again.

I finished the phrase, “It is your blood.” He nodded. “I’m going to go.”

He nodded as I tipped the bottle back. The sick sweet beer was warm. I coughed as it washed the back of my throat. “Do you want company?” Jack looked interested in personal time. I told him before I wasn’t interested, but he still tried when we were together.

“Sure.” I responded.

We walked to the river’s edge and stood on the beach passing the bottle between us. The joint was already finished and the effects were starting to fully present themselves. I felt the plush sensation of THC hitting my nerve endings and I felt my face smiling.

There was  a snap in the distance as if a firecracker were set off somewhere. “That’s a gun.” Said Jack. He turned to the bank and ran up.

I followed. “Why are we running towards the gunshots?” I asked still grinning.

“Could be something worth seeing.” His eyes sparkled. They were mostly balls of shadow, but there was the tiniest reflection running along the rim of his iris.

I smiled back, couldn’t help myself and for an endless moment I reconsidered his intentions. Another crack broke the spell of darkness and another. “We should get out of here.” I said.

“Okay.” He nodded and we turned back to the lower ground of the beach. I shifted and fell in the loose sand. I felt Jack’s posture change next to me. I picked myself up and saw his back was to me. I was about to speak, but the forty fell from his hand and his body shifted uneasily and he fell forward just to his knees. I moved closer unsure and unwilling to believe what I knew was happening. I stood for a moment and then reached to him. My hand grabbed his shoulder. I couldn’t get any closer.

Another firecracker and I dropped to the ground. Jack still knelt beside me, hadn’t moved. I got to my knees and grabbed at his shoulders, “Stop it.” He said, almost too quiet. He turned to me and I could see what had happened, what I knew had happened. In the yellow sodium light, I was spared the grisly details, but I knew his right eye was gone.

The story ends abruptly because I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to continue it or not. I kind of like ending things this way even if  I never pick it up again.

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to submit stories I would love to post more.

Kristopher Bishop