Friday, November 30, 2012

The Hunter

>>>>>>>>> DONATIONS <<<<<<<<<

Deliver me to the warmth of a heart that does not beat for me. Cleanse me of this cold wind that tears through my fur and breaks down my flesh and bones until they are just ice.
I have traveled too many miles in this unforgiving blizzard and I've begun to crave any type of escape. I've been wet and cold, shivering and teeth-chattering, using these stray animals for momentary flashes of satisfaction and the hunger always remains. These meaningless exchanges between a wolf and its prey. But now these torches are candles and they do not burn as warm and I am forced to find new methods of survival.
So when I see a doe appear from the mouth of the forest, lowering its head to nibble at the green stems floating on top of the ocean of bright snow, I can not stop and think about the beauty held in this scene. My primal instincts kick in, my survival becomes first nature and I only study the doe to kill it.
I keep low to the ground hoping the fallen snow which covers my back can hide me so she will not see the dark fur underneath. I can not see any other animals around but I know they are out there; I know she is not the only doe grazing this baron field and maybe that is why I do not feel bad as I approach her. Creeping forward, my paws graze the surface of the velvety white snow before each step. Then, they carefully fall upon the snow with a soft crunch and for a moment it seems the doe has spotted me. What a terrible thing that would be; I am so hungry. Relief trickles down my spine when she turns her head back to the food in front of her and I know I'm safe for the moment.
I am close now. I can smell her snow dampened fur; I can hear her patient heart beating. My sharp teeth glisten. I can feel her warm blood flowing through her body and my mouth starts to salivate. She is so calm and I almost reconsider this attack but one must do cruel things in order to survive. That is a universal truth. And I am much happier on this side of the hunt.
But the doe is a magician and she pulls the wool from over my eyes. The mirrors are gone, the smoke clears, and I see that I was not the hunter- I was the hunted. She pulled me in like a siren- singing her beautiful song of fluttering ears, flickering soft eyes and twitching tails. The dots on her back come alive with laughter as she turns toward me. Her teeth become sharper than her eyes, ripping through my flesh like impossibly sharp razors. Every bite a reminder to never return to this forest.
But the doe does not kill me. That would be too compassionate. Instead, she leaves me alive and without any sign of an attack. No other animal will ever see what just happened and I do not plan on telling any of them.
Now, as I lay, panting in the snow, wishing it was stained red so the forest critters can pity me, I almost feel I have learned a lesson today. I almost do.
Then my head lazily falls to its side and catches the glimpse of a wide-eyed bunny gracefully hopping through the falling crystals. 

>>>>>>>>> DONATIONS <<<<<<<<< 

The Spirit

It was hot today. His back was sore again and all he wanted was to waste time on his mattress at home and let the broken air conditioner try to cool him. But, like most days, his mind sent inherited electric signals telling him he wanted something else before he could go home, so he followed his craving towards the bar across the street from his loft. The Spirit is usually empty, save two or three lonely souls, and today was no exception. He recognized one of them, an older guy they called Toad. It wasn't his real name, but the way he crouched over his drink, slurping and coughing, earned him the name. He even more resembled his label at the end of the night when the alcohol hits him too hard and he turns a sickly green color as he's hunched over the bathroom's lone toilet. He drinks because his wife left him because he drinks because his wife hated him because he drank because his wife annoyed him. But nobody there knew that. Nobody knew anything about anyone at The Spirit. Rarely are words spoken there outside the drink order and that's why Tyler liked it.
The other patron was a women unknown to our protagonist. She sat at the bar, just one seat over from Toad, watching him with a cigarette in her mouth. She wasn't unattractive but she wasn't a girl you'd tell your friends about and Tyler began to wonder if she was a hooker. She was not. She did want to take Toad home, though. Do you have an extra cigarette? Her answer to that was lightly taking the lit cigarette from her mouth and gently placing it between Toad's lips. With a long inhale you can almost see his neck expand and she takes the cigarette back and smiles while she stares. Two streams of smoke slither out the nostrils of Toad like a clown pulling out two grey silk ribbons. The woman nibbled on the end of her thumbnail before taking one last drag and putting the cigarette out in her empty wine glass. She drinks to forget about her father, a man who drank to forget about his life. Tell me I'm pretty. And with a ribbit, Toad obliges and the fly moves in for a kiss.
Tyler looks away from this display of affection and sits at the bar seat furthest from the two of them, trying to keep his eye-line anywhere but there. The bartender makes his way over to Tyler and with a sigh asks him what he wants to drink. Whiskey neat. What the bartender looks like is not important, but you should know he inherited the bar from his father when he died from liver failure a few years ago. He doesn't want to be there anymore than Tyler does, but he, like Tyler, has no where else to go. When he hears a feminine laugh across the room, Tyler takes out his phone and pretends to be busy. He drinks because he lonely. He's lonely because he hates who he has become and shuts out everyone who cares too much about him. He drinks to fill the hole which should be filled by family, friends, and love. And as the alcoholic fluid can only fill that hole halfway he tries to fill the rest with women he doesn't really love but he shares his body with anyway. Then, when the rare occasion does present itself and he does find someone he could see himself caring about for more than one night, something always goes wrong and he finds himself back on this bar-stool thinking about whatever girl he can't get off his mind this month. He drinks because he is an artist and he hates his art. After this trip to the bar he's going to go home and sit on his couch staring at an unfinished painting that has been “nearly finished” for three years. He's going to hate what he sees and he's eventually going to paint the whole thing white and erase it like he sometimes wishes he can do with the rest of his listless life.
After a few drinks, Tyler has calmed down and can enjoy the cold that the bar has to offer. The only brightness comes from the single working wall-light and the orange accent lighting illuminating the bar and all of it's bottles. Toad and his fly are gone, replaced with another familiar face. She doesn't look twenty-one, but our bartender doesn't seem to care. He just wants to get her drunk enough to sleep with her one day, which still to this day has proved impossible for him. She looks kind, but she's not. She drinks to live. She usually patrons the bar down the street, The Dream, which is filled with people more likely to earn her a few extra dollars for this month's rent. It's only when she strikes out there that she'll make her way down to The Spirit. She has no real interest in sex or any relationship if it doesn't reward her with a financial benefit. Three shots of vodka, Kenny. Tyler knew all of this and hated her for it. Still, he was insistent on painting her, so whenever he had the opportunity to study Kayla, he would. Stressing his mind to remember every detail about her. The way her short black hair curled just below her ear revealing a small tattoo of a cross on the back of her neck or the way her blue eyes looked so calm in the glow of the orange light across from her. These moments of studious nature sometimes led to awkward eye contact, like it does tonight. But tonight, for the first time in the year that she has been coming here, she decides to talk to him. You have something to say to me?
Tyler doesn't answer; he just looks down at his phone again. Hey, so are we still on for dinner tomorrow? Tyler types. He doesn't expect a response until later tonight, and he won't get one then, either. But tomorrow morning she'll respond: Oh hey, I just checked my schedule, I have to work late again tonight. To which Tyler won't respond. I asked you a question, Tyler.
How do you know my name?
He knows her name, though, so why does it surprise him that Kayla knows his? Well, I just asked our friendly bartender here. I
t still didn't make sense to Tyler because he doesn't remember ever telling the bartender his name. Oh.
That's it? Oh?
Kayla stands and if Tyler was looking he could have seen her entire body profile in that tight fitting black dress she was wearing, which ended just below her knees presenting her slim calves giving way to the fragile ankles wrapped in shiny black heels. With the grace of a ghost she makes her over to him and sits down. There's a silence but Kayla doesn't seem to mind Tyler's awkwardness. She takes this time to study his features. She liked his sharp nose and his tired eyes glazed with a layer of whiskey; she liked the wrinkles around his eyes from when he used to smile. Hey, she asked you a question, man.
The bartender is suddenly standing across from the two of them and Tyler looks up with a blank face. Hey, Kenny, did I ask you a question? Why don't you leave us alone.
With a shake of his head, Kenny picks up a wet towel and begins to wipe down the bar. Sorry about that, babe.
Tyler can smell the vodka on her breath and he closes his eyes letting memories flow through him. He likes the smell. It reminds him of his freshman year in college when he couldn't even meet a girl without that smell on her breath. It's fine.
The following silence grants him a moment to think about why she would bother talking to him. She never has before and she's definitely caught him looking at her before. So? What did you want to tell me?
I don't think I really had planned to say anything.
With a hand covering her mouth she laughs and flips her short hair. She must have had a tough month to be fishing in this bar for rent money. Come on, Tyler, I see you staring at me all the time and I know it's not because you're a creep. Your eyes are way too kind.
That's the first thing Kayla said out of the ordinary. It's just out of place for her routine to mention something so personal about a man, but at this point she was just trying to get him to talk to her. I'm pretty sure I'm not a creep. A smile forms on both of their faces. Listen, I'm sorry if I was bothering you. I do have a reason, which, I mean, won't make it any less weird.
For the first time, Tyler gets an up-close look at Kayla's eyes, and what he once thought were burning blue became a cold, empty grey and he wasn't sure if he liked it. I'm sure you have a great reason. Whatever it is, I don't mind. His teeth gently bite his bottom lip as he debates with himself if he should tell her or just make fabricate something else. And upon making his decision, he tells her about the painting. An unfamiliar warmth briefly washes over Kayla. She's taken back, flattered and intrigued. There's a confusion there, as this is the first time someone has made her feel valued. But these feelings of hers can be visually misconstrued as being offended. I'm sorry, I knew I shouldn't have told you.
The rest of his drink is gone with a gulp and he tries to get up but is stopped by Kayla's cold hands. She sees this as an opportunity. Can I see it?
So they sit, after a hesitant yes, on his thrift store couch, staring at a painting that sparks two very different thoughts between the two of them. While Tyler wonders what Kayla is thinking about, she tells him it's beautiful. I love it. Have you ever sold anything before?
Once, back when I first got out of college. This one has taken me a long time, though.
A smooth leg slides across his lap and Kayla now sits facing Tyler's broken face. Her hand passes over the stubble on his cheek to the back of his neck. An ecstasy washes over Tyler as her bitter lips touch his. It has been years since a woman this beautifully dangerous has showed an interest in him.
The window next to his mattress permits the twilight to highlight the curves and ripples on Kayla's smooth young body, the lean muscles twitching in the dusty moonlight. She controls the experience. Placing his hands where she pleases. After five minutes a look of surprise washes over her face as she experience an honest delight not normally felt during her job. She takes this unanticipated moment to indulge in some sexual pleasure that is far too rare among the rich men she usually takes home. She allows her self to be washed over in this feeling. As her toes curl, Tyler sees what has been missing in his painting and he begins to await the morning.
They fall asleep together with the warm night air howling through the hard-working air conditioner. The morning leaving Tyler, once again, by himself. Kayla has left a note that only reads, Thank you.
He smells the note and it smells like her skin. With thoughts of the night prior racing through his mind he puts a pair of faded blue jeans on and walks to the kitchen. He pauses before he can reach the refrigerator and looks at the empty easel where his painting once lived, before he met Kayla. All of the questions about last night become clear to Tyler and he calmly puts a blank canvas on the easel. He grabs the half-empty bottle of whiskey next to the easel and as he drinks he reconstructs the painting in his mind. With a dark red, almost brown, paint he begins to create two horns protruding from the imagined forehead of the beautiful siren who wrote that note. There, it's finished.
 Laughing, he sits on his couch and finishes the rest of the bottle. He drinks to erase himself. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This Just In: Part 10

----------------> DONATIONS <-----------------        

        The old man kissed Sonya on her icy forehead and started for her mother's apartment.

        Now, outside the cracked apartment building, he ran his trembling finger down the line of names until it stopped at “Georgia Escobar: Apartment 447C”. He did not know what he would say to her- how he could tell a mother that her daughter had been killed.
        He sat for half an hour outside the building with that medicine bag spotted with Sonya's blood until he gathered the courage to walk inside.
        After climbing three flights of stairs and wandering around countless corners, James Parker stood outside Apartment 447C and took a deep breath before he knocked on the door of Sonya's old home.
        If the old man had any emotion left inside of him it would have been rage. A tired old woman stood in front of him. Hair, dried and tangled. Eyes, blood shot and dilated. Breath, sweet from the vodka. Nails, unkempt. Skin, pocketed with lesions from the meth.
        The apartment was cleaner than she, but the old man had a feeling Sonya was the one to keep the place tidy. There were still empty food containers and random clothes on the floor, but considering the owner of the apartment, it could have been much worse.
        He looked up at the old woman, “What do you want?”
        He continued to gaze, seeing Sonya in her mother's eyes, “Do you happen to suffer from migraines, Miss Escobar?”
        “No,” she answered with confusion, “fuck off.”
        With some reservoir of strength, James Parker stopped the door from slamming shut. He pushed the door open and asked, “Why do you need the Vicodin?”
        The mother's eyes widened and she tried, again, to close the door but James thwarted that effort; he pushed the door open and entered the room noticing “America's Newsroom” on the television.
        “You need to get the fuck out of my house, old man, before I make you.”
        “I just want to know why you need Vicodin, Georgia.”
        But he already knew that answer now that he was inside the apartment. Crack pipes, syringes, burnt spoons, lines of neatly packed white powder. In a soft whisper he told her what he had been dreading to say out loud, “Your daughter, Sonya, was killed, picking up your drugs.”
        There was more he wanted to say to her. He wanted to crush the heart of this monster that was responsible for the death of the one bright light he had seen in years. But he did not want to think about it anymore. The old man did not want to talk about it; he wanted to fall asleep. He was tired.
        James tossed the bag at Sonya's mother. She caught and examined what she held in her hands and knew James was not lying. Falling to the floor, she managed to open the bottle before she could even start crying.
        Across the room from Georgia Escobar, the old man fell onto the couch. With tired eyes he watched Lana Diaz on the television:

Please help bring this little girl to justice. Shot on the streets of New York in an apparent drug deal gone wrong, she was left to die. A sketch artist has drawn this representation of what is believed
to be the shooter-

        Lana Diaz held her finger to her ear and continued:

Back to that story later. This just in, 
America's Newsroom Exclusive: Pope Roberto Franco VII
was just found in possession of child pornography....

        The old man had heard enough. He lied down on the couch and wept. 

------------------> DONATIONS <------------------ 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This Just In: Part 9

----------> DONATIONS <----------

The body of a nine year old girl was discovered in the streets of New York today.

       “But,” James Parker whispered, “she's not dead.”
        Looking around with tears in his eyes, the old man realized no one was listening. It was only then, with his head lowered did he feel the Life-Alert necklace hanging from his neck. He quickly pulled the necklace from his shirt and pressed that little red button. Sonya was getting colder and James pleaded to the crowd, “Is there a doctor here? Anyone?”
        A quiet cough brought the old man's attention to the dying girl. He asked her, “Can you hear me?”
        But Sonya did not respond. She merely reached one blood stained hand to James Parker's face and he felt death on her skin. She pulled his head down toward her mouth so he could feel the shallow breaths from her chattering mouth, “I'm so sorry,” she whimpered.
         He looked into those watering brown eyes, “No, don't be sorry, mi cielo. You're going to be fine. You're so strong.”
Sonya closed her eyes and let two tears fall to the ruby-red concrete below. “Do you think God will like me?”
         This question shot a pain through his chest like nothing he had experienced. I don't think God would have let this have happened if he was up there, Sonya.
        He could not tell her this, though. It was not his place; he held her close to his chest. “I think,” he started, “I think He'll keep you right by His side. I think you're going to be warm and close to the sun, and you'll get to watch over your mother and fall asleep on flowers and stay up as late as you want.”
James Parker could not tell if she had smiled in her last seconds. Her eyes closed slightly and, pupils dilated, she let out one final exhale. Her lips and skin were blue- cold. Sonya was gone. James continued to cry.
         “You can eat all the candy you want,” he told her, knowing she had passed, “and never get a stomach ache. You can play games and watch television and no one will ever be mean and everyone will help each other. It'll never rain, unless you want it to.”
         With two finger, James closed the eyes of the little girl; after he let out a few more tearless sobs he saw what Sonya had bought with her twenty dollars- a marble sculpture of a dove with an inscription on the bottom. You can't take the sky from me.
The old man ran his fingers over the inscription before sliding it in his pocket. He will keep that until Sonya's funeral, where he'd leave it upon her casket.
        Then he saw something else- beside her a small white paper bag, dotted with specks of red blood. Inside the bag was a small orange bottle with an address and the name Georgia Escobar. Inside the bottle was Vicodin.
         The old man kissed Sonya on her icy forehead and started for her mother's apartment.

--------> DONATIONS <---------

Friday, November 23, 2012

This Just In: Part 8

-----------> DONATIONS <-----------

       He tried to run toward her, but his old body did not let him and he fell to his knees four feet away from Sonya.
       A sickness crept over his body like termites on a log. “No,” he said softly, eyes filling up with salty tears. Of all the stories on the news- the tens of thousands of news stories he has heard in these last seven years- none of them broke his heart like seeing Sonya in her crimson pool.
       A crowd began to gather as the old man crept closer to the small girl. Now, by her side on the cold grey cement, he placed one hand on hers and the other over the bullet hole in her stomach. A painful moan escaped his own stomach while applying pressure to the wound. The blood was already starting to dry on his hand.
       He closed his eyes and pushed the tears down his face. A guttural cry echoed through the streets- Mmmahh- and James Parker could no longer scream. His lungs would not take in the air.
       The crowd around him started to whisper. They would say, What a shame.
       They would ask, Did you know her?
       No one did, so they just stood and watched her bleed until they got a text message or a phone call.
James Parker watched through burning eyes, moving the hair from Sonya's face and revealing a certain peaceful look upon it; she was almost smiling. Then, James felt his hand ascend and descend and he realized she was still alive. With the little air he had in his lungs, the old man looked around and pleaded, “Help!”
       He tried to shout, “She's not dead! Please, someone call an ambulance. Someone please help.”
       But no one did. They just whispered to their cellphones, Oh my god, Jackie, you'll never believe what happened to me just now.
       There was a rage building up inside James Parker like he had never experienced. Never once had he wanted to kill a man, and now he looks at the crowd and wants to spare none. With his chin to his chest, another sign of life keeps his rage at bay.
       A small cough, from the small lungs, of the small dying girl. Sonya opened her eyes, now glossy and staring at nothing in particular. “Stay with me,” he told her. “You're going to be okay. It'll all be okay.”
       Then, James heard the sound of screeching tires and knew the ambulance was almost here. He began to shake Sonya in hopes of keeping her awake long enough for a medic to save her life. Suddenly there was a flash of light in this dark event that injected hope into the pessimistic old man. He begged, pleaded, and bargained with God. Please, please save her. Take me instead, but don't take her.
       James Parker looked into her eyes again and they were starting to roll back. He looked up for the flashing lights of an ambulance, but only saw the satellite dish of a blue news-van with the number “7” on the side.
       Once again, Sonya was left with no aid except the weak old hands of a broken man. Through those hands, James felt the cold skin of Sonya. Her skin began to pale. It's a shame, they would say, she's so young.
       The dying girl's breathing became rattled from the fluid spilling into her lungs. But nobody cared about that now. The television camera's were rolling; the beautiful blonde-haired woman covered in make-up and fake pity was talking to America. Her face was stern as she delivered the country their entertainment:

The body of a nine year old girl was discovered in the streets of New York today.

---------------> DONATIONS<---------------

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

This Just In: Part 7

----------> DONATIONS <----------

          James' beaten eyes find Janice's, “When I start seeing them.”
          Janice looked down at the broken old man with pity. “That's not fair. You can't just read about bad news, look around a terrible city and pretend the whole world is like this. You're a good man. I think I'm a pretty good person. And that's already two people in this store alone. Think about the-”
          Pop. Pop. Pop.
          Like firecrackers that were set off on July 3rd, the four gunshots rang out and quieted the city. In the diner, all were on the floor taking cover: the abused woman and her boyfriend, the old homeless woman, the prostitute alone under her table, and the once distant family now brought together in panic.
          There was an eerie silence that seemed to spread far beyond the glass door, leaking out into the streets of New York City. After a few more moments of this uncomfortable hush, James Parker gingerly got to his feet and told a crying Janice to head for the back.
          Slowly and carefully, the old man made his way for the door keeping an eye on the street for any more danger. When he reached the door it seemed like the shooter had fled. People have already started to slow their runs into walks. Cell phones and suspicious looks appeared like unwanted pimples.
          By the crosswalk James Parker journeyed earlier lay the body of a familiar dopefiend. The same dopefiend that had argued with the dopeman.
          It was clear he was shot; there was blood running from his chest but more tellingly was the absence of the back of this dopefiend's head. James closed his eyes and tried to chase away the haunting image.
          When the old man reopened his eyes they betrayed him and refocused on something he had not expected.
          Not more than ten feet from the dead dopefiend lay another figure on the sidewalk- this one with an arm draped over the side of the curb. The last time James Parker had felt this pain in his chest was when Elaine had passed almost a decade earlier.
          James opened the door and slowly, gracefully, left the diner. It was the body of a child, perhaps a girl; her long dark hair was laying flat on the sidewalk with just enough of it out of order to hide the young girl's face.
         The young girl, with the dark skin and dark hair. The young girl. With the limp arm. The young girl with the blue dress stained purple from the ruby red blood. He tried to run toward her, but his tired body would not let him and he fell to his knees four feet away from the dying Sonya.

----------> DONATIONS <----------

Monday, November 19, 2012

This Just In: Part 6

       ----------> DONATIONS <----------

          Her voice now an octave higher and her eyes now wider than James thought possible, she sang out, “Thanks James,” as she skips away.
       Sammy's Diner had become a safe haven for James- his self inflicted isolation from the terrors of the outside world. It was rare that more than four of the ten tables in Sammy's were occupied so it was usually quiet. With no television, James Parker could relax and enjoy a mediocre cup of black coffee.
        But the trips became more frequent and more enjoyable when Janice started working there. She was nice to him and had a kind smile that reminded him of his late friend, Elaine. Quickly, Elaine became the closest thing to family he had left; she offered to buy him breakfast every day, and he refused, knowing she had to support her two children by herself.
        Today, James was tired and on his second cup of coffee when Janice brought him the New York Times:

Missouri Loves Company:
Governor Lisa Nordstrom of Missouri declared Martial Law in Kansas City after the
celebratory riot leaves dozens dead or wounded.

         “Anything interesting today, James,” she asked, setting down a third cup of coffee.
         There was a chip in the porcelain. “No more than usual,” he said as he forced a smile. “Apparently the Chiefs winning the Superbowl is a cause for chaos.”
         “Hon, when are you gonna stop reading all that and start focusing on all the good things in life?”
         He set the newspaper down and looked around the diner. There was a middle-aged couple sitting by the window. The woman, who earlier today, tried to cover up a black eye with make-up was looking down at her food in silence. The clean-shaven business man stared at her and tried to rest his hand on her's. With more of a reflex than an actual denial, her hand jerked away from his and hid under the table.
         Across from those two was a homeless woman with a cold bowl of free oatmeal, courtesy of Janice, muttering to herself about the book of revelations and the end of all time. With no top teeth, and rotting bottom ones, her breath travels to the table next to her where a family is too distracted to notice the acrid stench.
         The young boy switches between texting and playing portable video games while the mother would sneak shots of whiskey into her morning coffee in order to dull the reality of her life. The father, willingly oblivious to his family's problems, flirts with the only other customer in the diner- a thirty-four year-old woman wearing a low cut shirt to display her seven-thousand dollar breasts.
         Both the old man and his waitress watched as the woman wrote down her number, walked over to the family's table and reached past the mother to drop the paper on the man's lap. Her voice rings out in his head, Why don't you focus on the good things in life?
        The old man's beaten eyes find the optimistic ones perched on each side of Janice's nose, “When I start seeing them.”

----------> DONATIONS <----------