THE PRIMORDIAL SOUND

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2013 by kimmy

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I want so much to hear your voice again.
To follow it down into the violet space that
Cushioned me from the reality of my world
And silenced the doubts that prey upon me.
Because I hear them daily now,
Urging me to give up and allow the blackness
To seep into my veins and corrode my soul
With its paralytic stupor.
And it’s tempting, somewhat, to think I could
Play with my own remote
And turn myself on and off at will,
Bypassing the pain and reveling in the joy
Even if it’s only remembered and not truly real.
At least in those imagined moments,
I feel alive and whole again,
And I hear your voice speaking words of love
That aren’t artful and contrived,
But ring true like a gong
With sound rippling and circling in every direction,
Flattening disbelief and hesitation like sheaves
Of wheat in the sun.
It shakes me free of the spell and I can walk away
From the lethargy that binds my feet to the earth
And my spirit to defeat and for that moment,
I soar. 
Higher and higher, past the stratosphere
Beyond the galaxies into that lavender haze
Where the infinite resides and all things are possible.

But, it’s only a daydream, and a bitter one, too
For it opened the door to eternity and slammed it shut
Before I could walk through,
Leaving me with only the memory of the words
And their unfinished creation.

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ARCTIS TOR

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2013 by kimmy

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The only task remaining is to retreat into a shell of my own making
Surrounded by walls that cannot be breached
And battlements that extend as far as the mind can fathom.
I will wear it like armor
Shining steel and black stone
Lining a bottomless pit that yawns into oblivion
And smothers the last of me in smoke and shadow.

I don’t want to inhabit this body anymore
For it betrayed me and left my heart open to
Hunters who care only for sport.
It was shot and left to hang upon a tripod
Turning the snow to red and my dreams to dust.
Follow the trail
A single set of bloody footprints disappearing into
The trees beyond is the only clue of the hunter
Who found and abandoned his mark.

The quarry can never be claimed and devoured now
For it slipped its moorings and fractured
into a thousand icy fragments which seeded the ground
And gave rise to this fortress.
All that remains is to enter and bar the door
Forever to future assault.
A task made easier since there is nothing left to defend.

JIMMY THE WONDERSTUD

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by kimmy

leisure-suits (2)

It was after work on a Friday.  I had a ticket to a play and was savoring a martini before curtain when I heard an angry woman vent behind me.

“Wonder is right,” she sniffed.  “It’s a wonder he hasn’t been killed by a jealous husband.”

I turned in the direction of her voice.  Across the crowded room was a fifty-something man dressed in work clothes and boots.  He had a smile like a shark.

“If you only knew how many women he’s slept with, you’d be disgusted… or amazed.”

The only thing that amazed me at the moment was how any woman could have found him appealing.   He was engrossed in conversation with a petite middle-aged blonde with big tits and a beer gut.  The blonde giggled like a teen before taking a swig from a bottle of Bud.

“You only say that because he dumped you.”

“Whaddya mean?  I dumped him, remember?”

“Oh, so you admit to having a fling with him…”

“Well… uh..,”

I heard the slurp of cocktails behind me.  As nonchalantly as I could, I peeped over my own martini to witness the argument.  Two equally frumpy women stared each other down from both ends of the hors d’oeuvres table.  I looked away.  The cheese puffs could wait.

Another perfectly good evening ruined by Jimmy the Wonderstud.  It seemed he was making the rounds that autumn, sending the area housewives into frenzies with his prowess and their husbands into murderous rages.

“… I thought as much!  You don’t want to end up like Tammy, do you?  Her husband is still in Lake County lockup because he can’t make bail.”

“Mike doesn’t know anything about it.”

“He will, if Jimmy posts another sex tape on youtube.”

“I never let Jimmy video us!”

“Yeah, right… just like all the others.”

I tried not to picture the slob across the room in flagrante delicto, but morbid images of shark’s teeth and stretchmarks kept popping up.  I signaled the waitress for another drink.

James “Jimmy” Von Der Stude was a local celebrity, equal parts Lothario and slacker, with a reputation forged during the early days of disco when he cut quite the figure on the dance floor in his leisure suits and an even bigger one off the floor when he was out of them.  A product of strict Dutch upbringing, he rebelled against his parents and partook of all the excess that era offered, including time in federal prison on drug charges.  None of which seemed to dim his appeal with the opposite sex, who allegedly supported him and his nefarious activities for decades.

“You sound a little bitter.  Jealous?”

“Me?  Of course not!  I’m not the one giving him money.”

“Who said I gave him money?”

“All those ATM receipts, that’s who!”

In spite of his notoriety, I had never seen him firsthand until that night. My girlfriends who had had encounters with him would swoon with the memory, but I never believed their tales.  Disco boys seldom made good lovers. But even if their exaggerations were true, it was difficult to reconcile today’s disheveled man with the smooth operator of days past.  I watched him as he steadied the blonde’s drunken swaying and plucked a hotel keycard from her hand.  The shark would be feeding tonight.

“And so what?  After the pleasure he gave me last night, I’d be willing to give him my last nickel!”

“You better ante up more than that if you want to get the jump on Bernice!  She just left with him.”

With that, the ladies watched as Jimmy exited with his evening meal.  I heard the sharp clink of glass as their drinks hit the table and they squared off again.

“If you hadn’t distracted me, I’d be going home with him right now!”

“As if he’d have you…again!  That man never comes back for seconds.”

I paid my bill and left.  I saw a skinny college student waiting near the will-call window and handed him my ticket.   Watching a play now seemed redundant.  I had enough drama for the night.

PAST IMPERFECT

Posted in musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by kimmy

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I know your secret vice.  You scroll through old postings and try to relive the past.  But it is gone, my friend.  Gone like the years parading by in succession.  Gone like your chance for redemption in this life.

What do you hope to find during those solitary forages into the past?  Yourself?  That creature was never a reality, but only a dreamcatcher content to play with the thoughtforms of others.  And now you are caught in its web, something I predicted years ago.

Don’t bother to struggle.  It will only tighten around you.  Best allow it to hold you fast for you are not capable of unselfish action.  All the woes which have befallen you have come only by your summons and until you admit your part, they will follow you until the end of days.

Not a happy prospect, I will agree, but an unavoidable one.  Had you taken another path, it would be no different.  You can change the faces and vistas that surround you, but until you change your soul, the outcome will be the same. 

That’s why it’s pointless to revisit the past.   The person you pretended to be doesn’t exist and never existed.  You cannot live vicariously through him.  The being to whom the passionate prose was written was a fictional character, not you.  Reading it is an invasion of his privacy.

But ignoring boundaries is something you know well, and, given the current conditions, isn’t likely to change.  You may play the wronged party as long as you like, my friend, but only your sycophants will be fooled.  Let them cheer you.  Let them applaud you.  Gather as big a supporting crowd as you can; that way you’ll have plenty of company when your ship goes down.

For sink it will, and by your own hand, too.  You already have a sense of this, that’s why you reach for safety into the past when, if only very briefly, your fictional doppelganger acted with reason.

Holding onto an imagined life preserver will not save you.  You cannot rely on another to do your work, especially when amends must be made personally.  Otherwise you will continue to binge on the emotions of another and remain a slave to your addiction.

SHE-DEMON

Posted in fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2012 by kimmy

He hadn’t known him long, but liked his wry sense of humor.  It helped lessen the otherwise suffocating atmosphere at work and made the time confined within the white cubicles more bearable.  It was over their shared wall that he first heard the suggestion that changed his life.

“Why don’t we have a few beers after work?”

They stopped at a local tavern later that afternoon.  A grizzled man was playing the piano accompanied by a sultry vocalist dressed in red.  She seemed out-of-place, like a cabaret singer from the 1960s stuck in a college dive.  It didn’t hinder her performance however, and by evening’s end, he was enchanted.

“You like her?” slurred his buddy.  “I could hook you up, you know…”

After her last set, she joined them at the bar and he knew, despite the beer fog, he was on dangerous ground.  She had a wide, little girl smile and smelled like cinnamon.   His pal lurched to his feet and kissed her directly on the lips.

“My friend here wants to meet you, babygirl…”  He squeezed her for a moment before offering his chair.  “I think he likes you.”

She sat down and looked up at her admirer.  “Is that so?”  Her voice was like a bell.

He took a swig from his bottle before answering.  Maybe his new-found friend was more of a dick than he thought.  He shrugged it off and changed the subject.  Compliments were easier to manage.

“Why, thank you, sir,” she said, a little more coyly than he expected.  “I didn’t think anybody was paying attention to my set list.”

They exchanged opinions about composers and old standards.  She was more intelligent than he’d hoped.  And before the night was over, he secretly planned a return engagement, one that didn’t include his mouthy friend.

“I saw the way you looked at her, bro,” said he, the very next morning.  “You know, I think the two of you would be perfect together.”

He slurped his coffee.  “No, I mean it.  She’s like my little sister and I want to see her happy.  Better you than that douchebag she’s with…”

With that, he sketched a brief synopsis of her life.  Married at eighteen, she was saddled with two worthless children and a dysfunctional husband who spent most of their marriage in rehab and on the dole.  She had a couple of stints as a back-up singer for national acts, but couldn’t spend any time on the road because of the demands of her family.    Eventually she gave up her dream and settled for local shows that paid enough to keep her home out of foreclosure.

The more he heard, the more anxious his inner white knight became.  Rescuing past damsels in distress had not ended well for him, but he itched for the chance to try again.  Besides, he was bored and needed a project.  He agreed to meet privately with her.

Naturally, she was everything and more than he had dreamed: Sensual, articulate, with just a hint of long-suffering that made her irresistible.  Coffee dates were followed by long phone conversations that dragged into the night, complete with sighs and confessions.  Even more exciting were those illicit moments of being alone together, her languid and warm in his arms, wondering if her silk promises would ever manifest.

He often thought about ending the affair.  He tried on several occasions, but was always met with her resolve.

“Don’t break my heart,” she begged.  “Don’t crush me underfoot like a grape.”

So he stayed, hoping rather than believing she’d keep her word and leave her husband.  He even saw the wretched man once or twice, a faded shadowlike man nursing a line of empty shot glasses at the local sports bar, and wondered what would possess her to stay with such a creature.  He listened to her stories of neglect and abuse, each one more horrifying than the next, until his ire rose and he longed to smite her foes.  Even those who resided under her roof.

One morning at work, the phone rang and he knew it was her.  He needed no caller i.d. to warn him that the voice on the other end called with bad news.  He could have scripted it for her:  I’m sorry.  It’s over.  I’m staying with my husband.  I owe it to him.  Goodbye.

He hung up the phone and stared into space.  Another botched quest for the hand of Dulcinea. He should have known better.  This princess preferred the dragon.

The office mail clerk rolled by, dumping a sheaf of envelopes before him.  He opened each one slowly with a silver opener, cutting through the paper like a knife across his throat and poured their white contents across his desk in a heap.

“What the hell are you doing?”

He looked up absently into the face of his cubicle cell-mate peering over the wall.

“What’s with you trying to meddle and bust up her marriage?” he whispered angrily.   “Why you do me like that, bro?  She’s family! She’s got kids and an old man at home who really loves her!”  He looked at him with contempt before sliding behind the wall.  “You’re the douche now….”

He sighed.  It seemed all would-be heroes become villains in the end, so he sold his condo and transferred to San Diego with the hope that his bad luck wouldn’t follow.  The sunny climate suited him and so did the office.  One promotion followed the other until he became regional manager and started travelling.

One trip brought him full circle, back to his hometown and smack into a storm of gossip and suspicion.  He learned that in the months following his transfer, he had garnered an unsavory name as a player and homewrecker.   Calls to old friends and acquaintances went unanswered.  Even his old office drinking buddy avoided him.  He was treated as a visitor and nothing more, as if his previous life never existed.

It was only during the flight home that he realized how he had been outmaneuvered.  Only the ruthless sacrifice others for gain. He smiled sadly to himself, recalling false promises made in the dark. It wasn’t enough that he was misled; he must be assigned the fault as well.

He reclined his seat and gazed at the clouds passing by his port window.  There would be no more quests in his future, for he had finally learned that not all fair maidens play fairly.

CAN’T BUY ME LOVE

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2012 by kimmy

If you had to tally it all –time, money, effort, heartache- how much have you spent just to possess it?

Sally and Tom were the type of couple that, in my estimation, would surely beat the odds and have a reasonably happy future together. They were in their early fifties when they met and presumably long past the impulsiveness of youth. He was a retired union pipe-fitter who had just opened the business of his dreams, a café; she was a speech therapist dividing her time between several local elementary schools.  Both divorced and familiar with sting of being deceived by others, they were as brutally honest as possible with each other.  This transparency worked well for them, as they both had considerable baggage from the past.  Tom was a recovering addict, a 12-Stepper, determined to start his life anew.  Sally struggled with co-dependency all her life, but after jettisoning a long-absent husband and spending countless hours in therapy, she too was ready for a brand new life.

Initally, they were only friends and spent most of their time hanging out with mutual acquaintances.  Before long, they discovered they had more than intellectual interests in common and became lovers, much to Sally’s delight.  It was, for her, the end of a years-long sexual dry spell and she welcomed her newly found womanliness with enthusiasm.  Tom, being handsome, fit and middle-aged, never experienced such a famine and had his pick of many eager ladies.  However, he was honest and respectful of Sally.  The numbers of interested women gradually dwindled to only one, and within a few short months, he moved in with her and they began a quiet domestic life.  Content at last, the years passed in serenity…

…until Sally sent me a blunt message on Facebook a couple of weeks ago saying that after four years of apparent contentment, she had ended the relationship.  We met over breakfast last Sunday.

“He finally moved the rest of his stuff out of the garage,” she said calmly, taking a bite of omelette.  “… and I’m only forty grand worse off.”

The restaurant was crowded and noisy.  “Forty what?”  I asked.

“Thousand dollars,” she shouted.  “With all the back rent, groceries, utilities, dinners out, plus all the money I gave him to keep his business afloat, I figured he owes me about forty thousand dollars.”

I nearly choked on my egg-whites.  “You can’t be serious, Sal.”

She was.  She had bankrolled him, personally and professionally, for years and was uncertain when, if ever, he would repay her.

“He gave me a check for fifty dollars last week,” she said with a sigh, “only after I hounded him and threatened to get an attorney.  At this rate, I’ll be dead before it’s all repaid.”

For a woman out 40k and her man, she was remarkably dry-eyed.  Over the next hour, I learned that Tom’s money management skills were almost as bad as his weakness for women.  He had never turned a profit from his business and relied upon Sally’s monthly handouts to pay his employees and supplies.  She, being a generous soul, gave freely and didn’t even ask him to pitch him for their home expenses.  He, being a consuming soul, took freely and never volunteered to split expenses.  Neither would he follow Sally’s business savvy and did nothing but watch his business founder and eventually close.

It was only after months of idleness and unemployment did he finally return to pipefitting.  His union paid him well, but he never offered Sally a penny.  And so it would have continued indefinitely had not Sally wearied of the burden and demanded that Tom pitch in for their mutual expenses.  He decided to move out instead.

“He said his mother needed him, but I suspect he needs her more,” she said with a wink.   “I found some cancelled checks in the trash piles he left; his mother has been giving him money, too.”

Her remark was cavalier, but I’ve known Sally for years.  She has a big heart and it’s easily bruised.  “Your attitude is amazing.  You seem so calm.”

“I wasn’t always like this,” she admitted.  “I spend a lot of time drinking wine at night.  But I heard a song on the radio when I was driving over this morning and it really made me smile.  Remember that Beatles’ song, Can’t Buy Me Love?”

Of course I did.

“I think I was trying to buy Tom’s love and look what it got me.”

I reflected upon her words during my long ride home.  Did Sally think so little of herself that she had to purchase companionship, or was it symptomatic of a deeper ill, maybe a collective fear?  Who among us hasn’t gone above and beyond for someone who wasn’t worthy?   We’re hurt, we’re ashamed, but the fault does not lay with our exploiter.  Until we truly believe we merit the very best, we will be confounded by the less-than.

HENRY AND THE ANGEL OF DEATH

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2012 by kimmy

When he arrived at the office that morning, there was a customer waiting in his cubicle.  Unusual, considering it was only six-thirty and he had just unlocked the door, but he was used to routine and didn’t even question it.  Instead he apologized because the coffee wasn’t ready.

“I’m not here for coffee, Henry,” said the customer, who didn’t bother to look up when Henry entered and hastily shoved his briefcase and lunchbag under the desk.  “I’ve come to discuss another matter.”

Henry shuffled through the mounds of paper and retrieved his laptop.  He wished he had been better prepared for his first customer of the day, but when he typed in the password for his schedule, the entire day’s caseload was absent.

“You won’t find it,” said the customer.

“Find what?”  The question was cheerful, but mechanical, his usual response when caught off-guard and scrambling for answers.  “I’ll be with you in a jiffy, just as soon as I access your file.”

“I don’t have a file.”

Henry cursed silently.  It seemed his endless lot in life that the morons in the front office habitually assigned him new cases with missing paperwork.

“They didn’t.”

“Didn’t what?”  He wondered how long he could stall for time without appearing the complete idiot.  “I’m sure I have your name and intake forms, sir; I just need to click onto the right screen.”

“My name won’t appear there or anyplace designed by mortal hands.”

Henry looked up and took in his customer’s appearance with a glance before resuming his attempts to login.  Just his luck… a goth.  And probably one who had just left a nightclub, judging by the bags under his eyes.   He made a mental note to add a rider to the medical coverage.

“So, what type of life insurance were you interested in, whole or term?  We have competitive pricing for either,” said Henry.  He slid a few brochures across the table.

“I’m not interested in the preservation of life.  Only in its taking.”

All these emo goth kids were the same, thought Henry.  Always grieving their lives with their black clothes and pale faces.  At least this one didn’t have a nose ring.

“We take it, too, sir,” he said briskly, “our business, that is.  Very seriously.”

The customer slowly rose from his seat with a rustle of black crepe.  “Good.  Then it’s time for you to come with me.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but we need to process your application here in the office.    If you need something off-site, I can put in a request for a field agent.  They’ll be happy to accompany you.”

Henry picked up the phone and punched in a few numbers.   No answer.  Those layabouts in the field department rarely showed up before nine.

“That won’t be necessary, Henry.”

“Great!  Then if you don’t mind, please fill out these forms in triplicate and we’ll get started.”  Henry assembled a stack of papers before him, pushing the gilt framed picture of his wife and daughter to the side.  The photograph was missing.

“Make sure you note all your sources of income,” said Henry, already plotting his revenge against the pranksters in marketing.  Swiping his family portrait was really low and required immediate retaliation.

“I have no need of material wealth.”

Henry added a second stack.  “Then you’ll need to list your assets.”

“I have but one but it has separated many an owner from theirs.”  The black-robed customer drew a scythe from the folds of his cloak.

Henry wondered how he managed to smuggle it through security.  The metal detectors must be offline again.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t insure farm equipment.  Have you tried Countrywide?”

“Aye, Henry.  It’s been tried both city and country-wide, but it stops here today.”

He eyed it carefully.  The metal gleamed like silver.  “Maybe we could pass it off as a piece of art.  Has it been appraised?”

“Only by those who stand in Judgment.”

“If they’re experts in the field, their opinion might lend some credibility.  Do you think they’d be willing to write up an appraisal?”

“Willing, perhaps, but now unable.”

“Understood,” said Henry, nodding sympathetically.  Maybe this goth wasn’t so bad.  It seemed he had as little cooperation from his staff as Henry, who was beginning to wonder if anyone from his team was going to show up.  Even the street traffic was strangely quiet for a weekday morning.

He shivered a bit and returned to task.  “Okay, if you’ll just fill these out, Mr…. uh, I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch your name.”

“Nor will you.  It’s known only to the Most High.”

“Did I mention there’s a mandatory drug screening?”

Henry had had enough.  So much for the goth junkie wasting his time.  He shoved the paperwork into an oversized envelope and rattled off mailing instructions.  “… or you can use our website and submit the applications online.  Thanks so much for stopping in, Mister… uh, do stop in again if we can be of service.”  He rose from the desk.  “Allow me to see you out.”

The black-clad figure glided silently at his side and waited patiently when Henry tripped and fell over the corpse near the door.  Samantha, the part-time receptionist was dead.  Her blue eyes were cloudy and unfocused.

“What the…?”  Henry recoiled from the body and scrambled to his feet only to fall again, this time over the bodies of the girls from marketing.  They were heaped like trash in the corridor.

He staggered down the hall, stepping over one lifeless body after another.  Some were draped over cubicle walls.  Others slumped in chairs.  Bodies were strewn down the staircase and into the street.   They were in cars, buses, babystrollers and café tables.  All dead.

Sudden comprehension hit him as quickly as the nausea and he dropped to his knees, retching up his breakfast and gut terror for his family.

“They’re dead, too, Henry, as dead as those you see.  I’ve collected all but you.”

His eyes snapped up, waiting for the blade, but then turned slowly downward.  Tears mingled with the bile on his cheek and he wiped them with a sleeve.  His little girl… did he remember to kiss her goodbye that morning?  His wife, friends, family… all gone.  What was the point in living anymore?

“Strike me down, Reaper, or whatever you are,” said Henry quietly.  “I’m ready.”

“Ah, that I won’t do.”

“What do you mean no?  You said I’m the last to go, so take me!”

“I cannot.”

“You’re just going to leave me here?

“So it seems.”

To be left alone with this horror was worse than death.  Henry snatched up the scythe and plunged its sharp end into his belly, waiting for the blood and pain to sweep him away.

Nothing happened.

He looked down at his shirt, but it was pristine, as crisp as when he took it from the closet.  The scythe lay at his feet, the blade clean and shining.

“As I said, it will not be done.”   The dark one picked up his weapon and slipped it into his robe.  “That which has never lived cannot be killed.”