Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Later there is thunder and the smell of exhaust. There is darkness and the sound of my own heart beating as though it might burst. There are mumbled conversations between faceless men.

I am blindfolded and bound in the back of what I’m guessing is some old piece of shit van. The same van I thought looked suspicious about an hour ago. If only I’d kept up my guard, but I was distracted. I was thinking about her.

“You’re going to dig your own grave,” one of the men says and laughs.

“Get fucked,” I spit.

Something hits me hard in the face. I’m guessing it’s his boot. There is a blinding flash of pain and the taste of my own blood. One of the other guys laughs. This is all just fun and games to them, but a couple of my teeth feel loose.

“You fucked with the wrong guy, dead man,” another voice says. “You should know better than to cross Big Bear.”

Big Bear. That evil motherfucker with the gay ass nickname. There was nothing cuddly about this asshole. I told her we shouldn’t do business with him. He had a reputation for reveling in the pain and misfortune of others. But she said he had the best offer in town. We could make ten times our investment, she said. She was always good at talking people into things, especially me.

“He’s going to enjoy killing you slow,” says the first voice with obvious enjoyment.

"You mean killing me slowly," I say just to feel superior to these drones and I feel something kick me in the ribs. It takes me a couple of minutes to get my breath back.

Goddamn you, Felony.

But this is all later and every story has a beginning. I guess this one starts with the day I met her.

She was all peroxide and tanned flesh. She couldn’t have been more than eighty pounds soaking wet. She couldn’t stop talking and I couldn’t figure out if it was because she was high or manic or both. She was the type of girl I avoid like herpes. But something about her fascinated me.

I met her at Rick’s. I was going to score a little crank for the weekend. Most of the people who hung out at Rick’s were addicts whose whole lives revolved around their drug of choice. Rick could get just about anything, but mostly he sold stepped-on coke and decent crystal meth. I’m sure the cops had been watching him for ages, but were just waiting to catch him with a big bust. I always felt like I was being watched. But that’s normal for someone high on speed. Paranoia is just part of the buzz.

There were the usual suspects when I walked into Rick’s house. The whole place smelled like one big ashtray and burning chemicals. People were sitting around smoking crystal meth and talking incessantly. I just wanted to get my shit and get the fuck out of there before I got sucked into their world and ended up spending the whole weekend on one of Rick’s couches staring at the walls.

Rick came into his living room talking to some girl I’d never seen before, the one I just described. She comes up to me and hugs me like we’ve been friends for life. I wonder if she’s on ecstasy or something. I really hate people who do ecstasy. I don’t understand why anyone would want to love everyone.

“Jack,” says Rick. “This is my friend Felony. She’s from California.”

I guess that explained the tan. I’d thought maybe she was one of those trailer park girls who spend a lot of time in tanning beds. There was an orange tint to her that I attributed to fake sun, but maybe it was just the fact she was pumping her body full of chemicals every single day.

“Rick’s told me all about you,” Felony says.

I’m surprised to find myself liking her voice. My first impression of her wasn’t really a good one.

“Did he tell you that I hunt criminals by night?” I ask.

Rick laughs and takes a hit off a glass pipe that someone hands him. A couple of other guys chuckle too.

“What? Like Batman?” she asks.

“Just like Batman. I even have a cape.”

“What kind of criminals do you hunt?” she asks me taking the pipe from Rick and hitting it.

“Drug addicts,” I say and everyone laughs.

She just looks at me like I’m some sort of puzzle that needs solving. You spend a lot of time with junkies and you’ll find it’s rare to meet one that’s interesting beyond being crazy. Then again, who isn’t crazy that spends days on end geeked on speed?

“I like you,” she says and smiles a smile yellowed with cigarettes and crystal and probably coffee. Somehow her grin is beautiful just the same.

She hands me the pipe and I hit it. I feel the chemicals rush through my brain and the world around me comes to life with clarity and my thoughts become razor sharp. It’s funny how drugs can make the most boring things instantly exciting. I guess that’s why we spend so much time doing them. Sobriety is okay and all, but getting high is fucking great.

An hour later and Felony and I are fucking in Rick’s bed. His room smells like dirty socks but I don’t even care. We’re going at it like caged beasts fucking to remember freedom and I wonder if this is the girl I’m going to marry. It’s a crazy thought that comes out of the blue, but I never let go of it.

Not even now after she took the money and the drugs and left me alone to die at the hands of Big Bear. Not even now after she fucked all those junkies behind my back.

I guess this is what it means to love someone. But I can’t help feeling like the biggest sucker in the world.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Up, Up, And Out of My Fucking Way

Going to the comic book shop is a lot like going to a porn shop. There aren’t any women and there’s always some weird smell assaulting your senses. It’s usually musty and a little dark, so you can’t see how they haven’t cleaned the place up in the ten years it’s been open. The only real difference in the two is that instead of DVD boxes and magazine covers of big-breasted naked women, dildos, and blow-up dolls lining the shelves, you have comic books with drawings of big breasted women and action figures for grown men.

More and more, I’m finding myself wanting to get into the comic book shop and get out just as quickly as possible. I try not to speak to anyone because the person who runs the local comic book shop says things like, “I’m really loving the new Space Ghost. I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it was gonna be THIS good.”

Seriously, fuck Space Ghost. I liked it when I was a kid, but even then I knew it was as corny as Iowa.

And then there’s the one nerd with the bottle thick glasses who asks me the same question every single time he sees me, all creepy like he’s trying to pick me up or something, “So, what comics do you collect?”

If there was a glory hole to suck superhero dick in the bathroom this guy would never leave the place. “Oh, Green Lantern. Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Give it to me, big guy. Come in my mouth.”

He’s like that pervert who follows you out of the porn shop when you’re just there to get a movie to take home and masturbate to in private; only he’s there to pick up some other lonely desperate guy and do some serious cuddling, so he follows you into the parking lot and propositions you.

If I were to tell this nerd what I read, and I did make the mistake of doing that the first time he asked me, he would look at me all confused. “Sleeper? Promethea? Planetary? Don’t you read Green Lantern?”

It’s like I speak a different language than the other nerds who frequent the comic shop. I listen to them talking sometimes while I’m perusing their shitty selection of books and when they’re not talking about the WWE, they’re talking about comic book characters like they’re real. The last time I got into a serious discussion about who would win a battle between the Hulk and the Thing I was twelve years old. I think that’s the last year I bought action figures, but I can’t be certain of that.

These days when I talk comics, I talk about the creators. I talk about the craft. I discuss shit like the quality of the artwork and the writing. I don’t give a flying fuck about Wolverine’s latest fight with Super Gonorrhea which his healing factor cured in less than two minutes. That doesn’t interest me. But if you want to talk about Joss Whedon writing the X-Men, I’m more than willing to talk about that with you.

And, yeah, that makes me a huge geek, but that’s okay, because I have a girlfriend and I don’t smell like I haven’t bathed in a year.

This one guy I work with, he’s into comic books. He’s around thirty years old and I try so hard to get him to read the good stuff. I bring books like Sleeper: Out in the Cold to work and hand it to him and say, “Here, check this out. Tell me what you think about it.” He brings it back to me after about five minutes and says, “I don’t think I like this.” Then he goes back to reading Thundercats and Transformers and playing with his GI Joe action figures. And I’m not making this shit up.

I mean, Jesus, what is wrong with these fucking nerds? It’s no wonder these bastards never get laid. It’s okay to geek out on the stuff that makes you all nostalgic for your childhood. I do it sometimes myself. But my tastes have really evolved over the last decade or so. The stuff I like is mostly written for adults, not children. That goes for everything from books to film to comics. Sometimes you have to grow up.

Here’s a little pointer for you nerds trying to get lucky on a date. Hide your fetishistic love for Star Wars. Girls don’t give a shit. They never did and they never will. Sure, they might enjoy watching the movies because Harrison Ford was hot twenty years ago, but they don’t want to spend more than say five minutes talking about which lightsaber battle was the best. They want you to talk about them. That’s all you have to do to get in a girl’s pants. Talk about her, not your comic book collection. Make her the center of your universe, at least until you get laid. Either that, or just ignore her. Girls hate being ignored.

Back in high school I never could figure out why girls didn’t want anything to do with me. I didn’t smell bad. I wasn’t completely unattractive. What didn’t I have that every other guy had? Now I’ve finally figured out it wasn’t what I didn’t have, but what I did have. I had comic books. I was always reading a comic book in class. No wonder no one ever fucked me.

After I graduated I discovered drugs and the girls started coming in droves. So there’s another pointer for the nerds. Keep a steady supply of weed and/or cocaine and you will get laid no matter how ugly and dorky you are. Sure, the quality of girls is questionable, but at least you’re not beating off to Penthouse Forum and pictures of Kitty Pryde anymore.

But I jest. This piece was supposed to be about how much I hate the local comic shop. It was supposed to be about how I want to wear a disguise every time I walk in so no one will recognize me and I’ll be able to make my escape from, “Hey, man, have you read the new Wolverine?” But I have a short attention span, probably from reading too many fucking comics.

I love comics and I love superheroes. I really do.

But I swear to Christ, I’m going to going to beat the shit out of the next guy who I see reading Green Lantern. He’ll thank me later.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Flash From the Distance

The way I see it everyone could use a good punch in the face every now and then. It’s repressing all of this aggression that creates the real monsters. People don’t get into violent movies because they’re peaceful little grass-eating bunny rabbits. Deep down, we’re all killers. We’re all animals.

If it was between you living and me, I could live off of your corpse for a week.

My head is vacant like a retard’s stare. There’s some girl in my bed. She is looking at me like she expects me to say something.

Go away. Leave me alone. I don’t know you.

I need a cigarette and a memory.

I never really had any fantasies outside of ones about relationships that actually work. I’ve had a lot of those fantasies. There are several women who will never speak to me again as a result of my overworked imagination.

Then there’s Audrey. She was everything I ever thought a woman could be, and I was disappointed just the same.

We are walking through the woods at night. It’s pitch black and we’re moving with our hands out, stumbling like two blind people.

I stop for a minute and listen to the world.

Are you there, she asks me

I’m right here.

Don’t leave me, she says.

I am standing at an airport watching her walk away, knowing it will be the last time I ever see her. I’m trying so hard to put this image in my mind so I won’t forget it like I do everything else. All of the things that really matter slip away and I’m left with trivial facts about cultural minutiae.

I wish I could cry for just once in my life, but I don’t feel like crying. I feel like beating someone up. I feel like ruining someone’s day. I feel like driving a car bomb into a mall.

I want to grab Audrey and say to her what she said to me in those woods, but I just watch her go.

She turns around and smiles before she is swallowed into a sea of people.

You want me to cook you breakfast, the stranger says. I make a good omelet.

There’s nothing in my fridge. Go away. Leave me alone. I don’t know you.

I’m not hungry, I say. Thanks. I have to leave for work soon.

It’s okay to lie when you don’t want to be the asshole you really are. The truth is I haven’t been to work in weeks. I don’t even know what day it is.

I watch this girl get dressed. She’s not beautiful, but she has beautiful eyes. She has small breasts and long legs. I can see why I brought her home. She looks a lot like Audrey. Every girl I like looks like Audrey.

I’m sure last night I was telling her everything she wanted to hear, but right now I just want her to leave so I can go back to sleep. I’ll say anything to fuck you, but don’t expect me to like you in the morning. Don’t expect to like me.

You’ll never be who I want you to be.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Excuse Me, But What Planet Is This?

I’m standing in T-Mart. It used to be Minit Mart, but they went bankrupt, so now they’ve just dropped the Mini. It kept the new owner from paying for a new sign. You can still see the old letters, covered in duct tape and plastic, like no one would notice. It’s too bad the buyer didn’t have more money. Maybe he could have corrected the fucking spelling and called it Minute Mart.

There’s an old woman in front of me trying to write a check and she’s moving like she can’t remember what name she’s supposed to sign. There’s a young black guy, mid-twenties, with a shaved head bugging the clerk about Lotto tickets.

“What’s the payoff?”

He’s looking around like he wants someone to say the wrong thing to him.

Behind the counter a couple of Indians, a guy and a kid act like they have all the time in the world. They’re moving in slow-motion and talking to each other in their native language. They’re both clean-cut and well-dressed, unlike the customers here. The people waiting in line look like they just stepped out of some homeless shelter with a wad of cash for lottery tickets and cartons of Doral cigarettes. The Indian kid is counting money laid out across another counter behind them. The money is stacked like he’s playing Monopoly. It’s sitting in front of boxes of cigars.

The clerk is trying to run this old lady’s check through the machine and the hostile black guy says in a loud voice, “You gonna give me my change for my tickets, man?”

The clerk says, “You haven’t paid me yet.”

Eternities pass and I’m still just standing here, stuck in this moment in time in this low-rent convenience store with half empty shelves and a bunch of people just staring off into space. It’s like in that episode of the Outer Limits where the pilot got knocked out of time and everyone else became these living statues. It's almost funny.

I always try to make some moments last, but the only one’s that do are always the worst fucking ones.

Some old guy is talking to himself behind me. He looks like he’s about two hundred years old. He’s just a skeleton with some liver-spotted skin stretched over it and he smells like a bedpan. I’m trying my best not to stare.

I’m starting to get paranoid. Actually, I started getting paranoid about two minutes after I walked into these florescent lights and it’s only getting worse. Something is wrong with this place. This isn’t how people act. They’re moving like damaged machines. They’re trying to do their routine but they just stop in the middle of it and reboot.

I just wanted a pack of cigarettes. I think about leaving but now the Indian guy is giving the old lady a receipt to sign. Things are moving along. Soon I’ll have my cigarettes and I’ll be able to get the fuck out of here. But now the old lady is confused. The Indian guy doesn’t even notice because the black dude who’s trying to pull some lottery ticket scam is asking him another question. The old man behind me cackles.

“What’s the most I can win?” the black guy asks in a loud voice and looks around to see if anyone wants to say anything about it.

The kid is still counting money behind the counter. I’m wondering how safe it is to have piles of money laying around when you’ve got a group of homeless people waiting in line and some of them look seriously fucking insane. The old man laughs at nothing again and then coughs like he’s going to keel over and die. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did. A fat white guy with a beard standing at the back of the line lets out a loud “Whoo hooo!” The clerk and the kid stop talking for a minute and smile like his redneck yell makes perfect sense.

I’m thinking about running now. But if I leave, I might have to go through this in some other store. It could be even worse. I wish this was just some random incident.

So I wait.

The old woman is moving. She turns back around, confused and walks off clutching her crumpled check. The black guy says, “Give me six Pick Threes and seven Pick Fours.” He may as well be talking in a different language at this point, the clerk and the kid still are. They’re talking and they’re laughing about something. The kid is still counting all of that money.

I finally get to the counter and the clerk is ignoring me. I say, “Put that money in a sack and give it to me or I’ll fucking kill you.”

He says, “Excuse me, sir?”

I say, “I need a pack of Marlboro Lights.”

Monday, January 03, 2005

A Letter of Concern

Mr. Drunk Redneck Sitting In Front of Me At Donnie Darko- Director’s Cut,

Why have you shown up drunk at a movie you couldn’t understand sober?

Isn’t the Bar With No Name serving your buddies right this moment?

Isn’t there a Home Improvement or Billy Bob’s Great Outdoors rerun on that you could be watching?

This isn’t a movie that was written for drunken assholes who never learned how to keep their big fucking mouths shut during a movie. It wasn’t written for guys in non-ironic trucker hats who snuck in a pint of Kessler and a liter of Big K Cola, who have to get up to take a leak every fifteen minutes and announce it to their significant other and four surrounding rows of people every single time. It wasn’t written for the guy who can’t go two and a half hours without four “smoke breaks.”

This movie was written for pretentious assholes like me. People who know what symbolism means. People who have read Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time. Most importantly, a movie like “Donnie Darko” was written for people who know how to shut the fuck up in public.

Mr. Drunk Redneck, I know after seven shots of cheap Tennessee bourbon, you are under the illusion that you’re in your living room and not in a crowded theater with people all around you. But the fact remains, you’re not.

Sitting directly behind is you is me. I’m what you could call a ticking time bomb. I’m someone who’s just waiting for anyone to fuck up enough that I can pound my fists into their skull repeatedly until they stop moving. And, I hate to say this, Mr. Drunk Redneck, but right now that person is you.

I’m sorry that your mother and father didn’t beat you into submission when you were a kid, because from your behavior, it really seems like it would have done you a lot of good. But I’m not one of those people who believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

So Mr. Drunk Redneck, I want you to know that I’m sincere when I say that I think I could teach you something about manners. Unfortunately for you, you don’t come off as someone who can be taught anything through simple logic, but I will say that you do seem the type who could learn something from being kicked repeatedly in the cranium.

So, don’t hold it against me, sir, when I knock that dirty John Deere cap off of your head to reveal your ten dollar bad haircut from Fantastic Sam’s. And don’t hate me for shoving that forty-ounce of Busch beer that you slipped into the theater right up your corn-loving ass. It’s just that no one ever taught you anything about common fucking courtesy or culture, and I want to enlighten you in the only way you’ll ever be able to understand.

I hope you take this to heart and know that this hurts me more than it hurts you, mostly because you’re too drunk to feel anything and my fists are fucking killing me from pounding your thick skull. I think I might have even broken a toe from kicking you in the ribs so many times.

I only do this because I care.