Twas the Night
Twas the night, he said, with much work left to do
Twas the day, said he, when an honest man is through
In the gale, knew we, where trembled hearts lay bare
In his conscience, we knew, demanding salve over prayer
Inasmuch as fear resides
Deep within his soul
Contemplating the labors of alcides
A penance for working proles
Accused of eminence front
His defense would corrade
Agress upon his character
In hopes to break his facade
Once seen as a malefactor, of high crimes opprobrious
Now viewed as a benefactor, of high climbs harmonious
Shall this resurrection, proceed sans consequence?
Or will his transition, miscarry with desinence?
Not Even Once
Be warned, the following is explicit
Back again, mutherfuckers. It’s me, your favorite blood-sucking monster. Vampire, phlebotomist, blood bank robber extraordinaire. Yeah, yeah. I’m a self-righteous prick and I gotta do the intro every time. But shit. Springing the news never does get old. Except lately. You're all so caught up in the manufactured crisis of the day, who gives a fuck if vampires are real? You certainly don’t. Hell, they told you about aliens last month and you didn’t bat an eyelash. You just gestured to the price tag of eggs and rolled your eyes. Some of ya even begged for the mothership to land and take you away. It’s not that I blame you, really. If I was stuck in your little lives, I’d be first in line for the probing express. But I’m not you, and we’ve really gotta talk. Let’s dive in, shall we?
It’s been a decade since I first saw one. Back before I discovered the brilliant convenience of phlebotomy, I got a job doing janitorial in the ER (The blood’s not as fresh, but hey, a guy’s gotta eat). I heard him come in, incoherent mumbling echoing in the tiled hallways. They’d shuffled him into the tiny psych room in the back corner of the emergency department. It was padded in dingey white, but before the night was over he’d pull a Picasso in bright red blood. It was too much for a creature like me to resist. The smell of death was overwhelming on him, and curiosity got the better of me and I used those special skills I’d vowed to put aside for the first time in half a century. I gotta admit, even I was surprised when Phil (the security guard) placidly handed me the keys at my mere request. I was out of practice, but it seems human will has weakened in the last handful of decades (or Phil’s just a big softie– probably both). Phil shut off the camera to the little padded room and stood watch at the door. The thrill at using my power was short-lived as I stepped inside.
He sat hunched in the corner nibbling at some indeterminable bone I assume he’d pulled from an un-checked pocket. I didn’t blame them for missing it–I wouldn’t want to dig through his crusty clothes either. A strangled hissing sound emanated from little holes in his cheeks a he suckled at the marrow. When he looked up at me, I stumbled back. Now, you know me. I’m not one to balk in the face of any monster. I taught the Weres to be afraid of me two centuries ago. But this was something different. This was something unnatural. An abomination, like what you lot called us in the witching days. He stood, tattered clothing sucking at thin skin, pulling it away in large patches, and laughed in my face as he met my stare with milky, dead eyes. Zombie.
Surely, that’s what he must be. But. He couldn’t be. They weren’t real. The only undead that roamed this earth were the creatures like me… And yet. There he stood. The flesh of his hands had been picked away to reveal tendons crawling with maggots. He reached toward me and uttered a moan. I fled.
Safely tucked on the other side of the padded door, I watched with sick fascination as he pulled at one of the exposed tendons, stretching it thin in his efforts. He laughed manically, glazed eyes never leaving my own. When he tired of the tendon, he began picking little bits of skin off of his face, popping them into his mouth like Nerds candies (those are ruined forever for me, by the way– I hope they are for you now too). As a steady stream of blackish blood oozed down his cheeks, he began to gleefully paint on the walls, rubbing filthy fingers on the flapping flesh of his face and smearing spirals. I was so caught up in the horror of the thing that I didn’t hear the nurse come up behind me.
“First time you’ve ever seen one this far gone, eh?” She laughed when I jumped. I started to explain myself but she held up a hand, “Don’t bother. You work here long enough and you’ll start to see these.”
She barked a laugh, “Exactly. Yep. Turns out that’s what you become when you mix too many of the hard drugs.” She flipped open the chart and ran her fingers under the lines of the tox screen, “Ah— but.” She shrugged and gestured to the creature behind the padded door, “Just Meth.”
I shivered, “That is… terrifying.”
“Well, if you don’t wanna see it again– you should probably find another department. Maybe go work in the lab or something,” she raised her brows knowingly, “Now get outta here before someone who actually cares sees you. I heard Jennifer is rounding.” She laughed and shoved me into the hallway.
I put in my application to work as a lab courier that night and never looked back.
When you’re a phlebotomist, you have to draw the blood for those tox screens. Last week, I saw four Zombies, so far gone their flesh was sloughing away and wee beasties crawled across every last inch of their torn skin. Four. That’s a record. So no, it’s not the price of eggs or imminent invasion that has me thinking humanity is in the toilet.
All of this to say… You lot better get ahold of yourselves, or I’ll be facing a food shortage before we know it. Signing off now.
Your friendly neighborhood blood-sucker,
Don’t do meth, kids— Not even once.
on the (every)days that you have free will
the sun rises
and fate is still sleeping
she’s on west coast time
the plans are all scrap paper
blank slate, carte blanche
the fresh gambit of today
take it in stride
pick up the stragglers along the way
both the innocent and the enemy
and call upon the optimist
let goodness emanate from you
be a spectacle for the skeptic and the cynic
let them sunbathe in it
because you can
you are the fighter, the winner
the boxer, the tightrope walker
life is a skill you acquire
mistakes exist on the unpaved way
you will trip
and when your shoelace is untied
stop and fix it
then run, catch-up
sometimes we falter
tremble but conquer
Dissolved in mist and absence
in my chest
i don't know
on the phone
shows the date
in an album
in a frame
on the shelf
of a hug
ever more dim
Dissolved in mist and absence
an absence, light as the skin of a child
There, far away,
Where oblivion dwells.
When I think of my two roads, diverged in the woods, I can't remember the condition of the road I took. Nor can I remember the condition of the one not chosen. Although I can remember different roads I've taken I can not for the life of me remember the scenery. And now I'm older, and have lost almost everything I ever loved in my life and now I realize that even though the directions I've taken have dictated where I sit today, the most important part of my journey was the scenery, in that forgotten scenery they still live. There's still time. There's still hope. Those turns I've made. The hope and time I've lost on the road here. Although I remember many turns, I can't remember the beautiful things I lost along the way. The scenery of the past. When the greatest things I've known were in the background. I wish I too was in the background with them now.
Matters not to anyone but me. I expect no congrats for doing what I should have always done to begin with. But on a personal level I am proud of myself. Not that today marks 9 years clean 100% from a needle and drug addiction that claimed most of my life. My family. Years of my freedom. My mental health. My friendships and eventually led to my son's addiction and death. But that from my weakest moment in life. Alone in my corner. Eroded by drugs to the point I didn't remember who i really was anymore. From there, I picked a fight. I knew that i had everything i needed inside me to change it all if i could only find it
today i claim 9 years of victory. It's a pyrrhic victory. But a victory nonetheless. I've held on to life since birth I think. Somehow I feel selfish for it since I caused so much wake in my life. Now .. it's harder to hold on. It's hard to not be at the very least who I was last year but I'm not him anymore and I know it. I have no friends. I do imagine that's my fault also even if I'm not aware of how. Before i think I was too. . Me? Im not (me) anymore. I wish I had done so much differently. I've often caught myself saying that I want to go home. Now I have a family I've never had. But I'm aware always that it's borrowed. Should something happen to me and my wife my new family would sit on the other bleachers. I always wanted to believe that when I got clean I could change everything. I could steer my family in the right way. Work and have things. Become a friend. A Co worker. A fellow human that has been there and could go back in there to lead ppl out that can't find the way. I have no choice but to acknowledge that I failed as usual. I make no excuses for who I was or who I am. I realize that no matter what the weights made up of its still heavy. I've always meant well and wished for the ppl I loved to have better lives. Even those in my past. I've not been able to want bad to happen to ppl. I hope ppl can pardon me for who I was considering I'm no longer that person nor recognize him. And I hope those I've wronged can also. I'm not sure I deserve the laughs or smiles I catch myself giving. Always catch myself. Since they found my son dead almost 10 months ago now, I feel ashamed of these 9 years clean. I feel as if I've cheated death by quitting drugs. If I hadn't stopped i may have had a year or 2. But I feel as tho I'm in a final destination movie and I am past my exp. Date and I was never meant to see what I've seen these past 10 months, which wouldn't be proper if I left out my brother blew his brains out 2 months ago now and for reasons I may have fought you over had it not been proven at moment of hearing it. I'm mental. I know it. I feel it somehow but I just can't seem to focus on it. I assume it's OK. Que Sera, Sera I have more urge. Not any urge specific. Just no urge. Where I'm at mentally I don't know. But I hope peace finds me no matter where I am.
There aren’t too many things I seriously regret. This is really only because once I start, how do I stop? But right now, half-in and half-out of bed, only a large t-shirt on, my hair sliding out of my bun, I feel something worse than regret. Shame.
It’s like snakes on my skin, my hand beginning to shake as I clutch my phone and reread the email. And reread it again. And again.
We regret to inform you. We will not be moving forward with the screen adaptation of The Lakeside Haunt. Luck on future endeavors. Thank you.
What a load of bullshit.
I cannot believe this. Darian and I got on so well! Too well? Is that possible? Is the book not good enough? Was it that damn Tessa lady? Were they ever even considering me in the first place? Was I doomed to fail?
It’s barely nine a.m. and my life is crashing down around me, and I haven’t even put on clothes yet.
“You’re the one who told me we have this in the bag,” I bark into my phone, which is propped up against my face with one shoulder. Both my hands are occupied holding up expensive ballgowns to my body that I would never have an occasion to wear. Other than a movie premiere, perhaps. Oh wait.
Bram’s voice is aggressively calm. “I told you, Masie, that you had a good shot. It was never a guarantee. And listen, there will be more people and better deals down the road, we both know that.”
“Oh, we both know?” I snap, setting down a silver-sequin number that has a price tag almost as long as my credit card number. I wave over the saleswoman and ask her to grab me a medium. I’m pissed that the small is visibly too small. “Bram, I believe it’s your job to set this shit up, and now I don’t even know what I did wrong? They barely even gave me a chance.”
I can hear him exhaling through his nose, and picture for a brief moment his lovely nose, and punching it squarely. Not that I’m very handy with my fists, but a girl can daydream. “I set it up, yes. But you’re not free of responsibility. Maybe a more businesslike attitude will–”
“Will what?” I cut him off. The saleswoman is back, and I grab the dress and shuffle into a changing room with it and three others, putting Bram on speaker phone. “Are you saying if I knew everyone’s name and regurgitated business jargon it would be a done deal?”
I strip and put the sequin dress over my head, struggling with the scratchy and unforgiving fabric. “No, Masie. I think we both know that I’m saying maybe you shouldn’t have slept with the representative we were talking to.”
I yank the dress down and squint into the mirror: sparkly, but god is the bust loose. It looks like a paper bag. Good lord, it’s terrible. I let out a pained wail, and Bram has raised his voice but I can’t hear him, and the saleswoman knocks and knocks on the door. She finds me in a ball on the floor, one hand still punching at the hang up button on my phone screen even though the call is long since over, and my other hand wrapped around my skull to keep it in place.
There’s a horrible high-pitched whining noise, and it’s me, so I stop. My back is cold and bare, and I move my shoulder and hear another seam rip. The entire back of the dress is torn.
The saleswoman looks down at me, not a hair out of place, and informs me that she’ll be charging it to my card. She turns on her heel and leaves, shutting the changing room door behind me.
I don’t normally do this, but I cry. Because if ever you’re going to cry, you should do it alone, while sitting on the floor, wearing a medium-sized disco ball.
Bram has invited me to a local coffee shop, which is always a bad sign. It's the equivalent of meeting on neutral ground; we both know it's wrong to have a screaming match in the middle of someone enjoying their latte macchiato. I'm usually willing to forgo manners, when it suits me, but I need respect in this particular coffee shop or this one hot barista named Enrique might stop giving me the extra scones. And Bram wouldn't willingly come here because he is, like a freak of nature, not a fan of coffee.
I'm here early, which means I'm here half an hour early. Bram arrives everywhere fifteen minutes before the scheduled time, and today I was determined to beat him. I think I know what this is about. I haven't turned in any progress on Great Perfect Tides. I'm supposed to be writing it, I know, but I can't find the energy. Every time I have something else to do it's an excuse not to write, and every time I don't have anything to do I stare at a blank page until my eyes blur.
If Bram is surprised to see me here before he was, his face doesn't show it. His mouth is in a neutral line, and his sea-blue eyes briefly take me in before he sits down across from me. I push a blood-orange tea towards him, one hand still curled around my coffee.
"Thanks," he says, accepting the drink. I wait for him to continue, but he clams up and stares at his fingers, splayed out on the tabletop. He looks braced for something, which either means there's bad news for both of us, or the news for me is so bad that he's steeling himself for my reaction. Unfortunately, I expect the latter.
I cross one leg over the other, wondering if I should've worn something more loud. The plaid palazzo pants haven't gotten any attention yet. "Well?" I prompt.
"Maisie," Bram starts, like this is a business letter. He's staring me right in the eye, but he's got that blank gaze on his face. The one that makes me think maybe he's a robot. My mouth twitches into a frown.
“Bram,” I say back in a fake-serious voice.
Suddenly, his face softens, and I get the feeling he’s saying something other than what he’d meant to. “Are you ok?”
I laugh and raise my coffee to my lips, briefly thinking about the dream I had last night. I don’t remember much, but there had been this monstrous dog with no eyes that kept biting my arm and my sister was there but wouldn’t help me and she just kept grinning. “Is it the outfit? Too boring? I don’t usually try to impress you, but I’ll try harder next time,” I say from behind my coffee.
Bram looks away from me and his shoulders drop a little. I’m mad at myself that he’s so clearly disappointed in me, but what the hell kind of a question is that?
“You’re going on a trip,” he tells me evenly. He hasn’t looked back at me, and instead is pulling out a slip of paper from his messenger bag. I realize as he puts it on the table between us that it’s a plane ticket.
I put my coffee down, intrigued. Good lord, he’s such a downer. He makes vacation sound like a prison sentence. “Excellent! When are we going? What are we doing?” I do usually hate business but if it’s New York or somewhere equally as glamorous I’m down. And I love to do vacation shopping.
“It’s just you.”
I pick up the ticket slowly. “Ok? Who am I meeting?” This is both unusual and mysterious. I kinda like it. Then I squint at the ticket. “Illinois? Windthrow Point, Illinois? That’s not even a real place.” I glance at Bram, who’s fixing the button on his shirt sleeve. “This is a joke, right?”
“It’s not a joke.” His grim face, also, makes it clear that this is not a joke.
I give an incredulous laugh. “Ok, well I’m not going to the middle of nowhere.” I push the ticket back across the table.
Bram sets a hand over the slip of paper. “You need to take a break, Masie. It’s already set up. You’re going.”
I lean back in my chair, crossing one leg over the other. “Yeah, ok. Whatever you say. Oh wait, you’re not in charge of my personal life.” I let out a soft chuckle. “No thank you.”
“You’re leaving in two days.” He’s so fucking monotone.
I stand, and I'll have to apologize to Enrique, because I actually laugh and take the lid off my coffee, ever so careful so as not to drip any from the lid. Then. Then I chuck the cup upside-down onto the ticket, and Bram doesn’t have enough time to move his hand, and he yells “shit!” and everyone’s looking at my plaid palazzo pants now as I strut out of the shop.
I’m shouldering my way down the sidewalk, breathing heavily. Probably from the exercise, god, I should exercise more.
“Masie! Damn it, slow down!” There’s footsteps and I bump into an old man who has big glasses and glares at me, and then Bram’s got a hand on my forearm. When I stop, he lets go of me like I’m poisonous.
I want to apologize about burning his hand, but then he says, “I just want you to get out of California for a while. I don’t need to know everything that’s going on in your life, but you can’t go on like this.” His eyes are searching mine. He–he pities me.
I recoil from him and keep walking. I’m not going anywhere in particular. He keeps up. “Like this? Like what, Bram? I have money, and a house, and a career. I’m hot and single and desirable. I don’t really see what the problem is.” I make sure to sound just a twinge irritated, but not too bothered. That’s right, I’m Masie Clements and nothing bothers me. I’m un-botherable.
“Masie. Masie, you used to drunk call me once a month–which, let’s be honest, is already too often–and you’ve drunk called me twelve times in the last week.” I’m not looking at him, but he sounds earnest. He’s so snivelly and annoying.
“I’m not an alcoholic, if that's what you're implying. I just go to a lot of fun parties,” I tell him coolly. “If you need me to define fun party for you, since you’ve probably never–” I realize he’s no longer beside me, and I look behind me. Bram’s got his arms folded, which is irritating because he’s got nice arms that look extra nice like this: shirt fabric stretched over the muscle. His mouth’s in a tight line. I backtrack and stare at him like he’s the dramatic one.
“I won’t force you. But you should think about it.” His voice is rough, and I realize he’s angry. Well and truly. He pulls a coffee-stained plane ticket out of his pocket and hands it to me. “Don’t call me,” is all he says when he leaves.
I clutch the ticket and look up at the sun, resisting the urge to curse out loud and desperately fighting the tears trying to well in my eyes.
pt 1: https://www.theprose.com/post/642933/living-in-the-moment
pt 2: https://www.theprose.com/post/708516/darian-tv-producer-russel
The Little Red Car
My dad used to take me to an Italian restaurant every Saturday.
Our routine was always the same. He would be tired from work, but he'd still wake me up early. He'd let me dress in whatever I liked, whether it be my worn out Princess Jasmine costume and slippers, or the atrocious acid yellow-green gecko shirt he bought especially for me. We'd be off for the day soon after that.
Back then my hair was long and curly, blond locks wisping around me. I was small, barely even at his knee height. My hands were enveloped in his.
We always went to go get our food first. We ate at a small, local restaurant. He'd always buy me pasta with cream sauce. I was a slow eater back then, who took big bites but never chewed or swallowed, but he didn't mind at all. We'd chat and spend our time together, and on my way out the host would place a small sweet in my hands.
He'd take my hand when we left, and he'd start to guide me home. We'd pass by clothing and shoe stores on our way, and with my puppy eyes I was able to beg him into buying me another pair of something I had too much of. When we'd leave the store, I'd look back with wide eyes and whisper to him that something was staring at me strangely.
It was always a red car. A red car with squinted headlights and a grill that grinned with such ferocity. At my height I could barely see past the face that grimaced in such a way, it scared me. When he looked over, he saw what I saw. He leaned into me to whisper.
"Doesn't it look fierce?"
I always nodded to that. He'd pretend to be scared with me, we talked about how it could follow us. When I got too scared I'd tug on his hand, pulling my arm and telling him we'd have to run, or we'd be eaten by the little red machine. I was first to sprint ahead, going as fast as my little legs could take me. He was always on beat with me, matching my pace and holding my hand.
After this I was less scared of the expressions on cars, but I never told him that. I'd always tug my arm anyways and tell him to run with me. With him I didn't feel scared. I kept this up for the next few Saturday's we went out. Sometimes I did it more than once, just for the thrill of running away with him.
One day he was more tired than usual. I pulled my hand away and he let go. I ran as far as my little legs could take me, but he wasn't there. When I looked back, he was still standing there. The red car was still there too.
After that I didn't run away anymore. That was one of the last times we did those outings when I was young.
From time to time we go out nowadays. I don't eat as slow anymore, but I don't like pasta. We go to new places, but I still beg to go into the different stores. We walk side by side with each other, in taller shoes I match his height. My hands are just as big as his now.
I don't pretend to be scared in front of him anymore. I don't run away, or fear how big the world feels around me.
Despite this, every time we go out, I always keep an eye on the roads.
I always make sure to look out for the little red car.
Dramaturgy of Life
On this stage, you feel the pressures of life.
Squeezing the air out of your lungs.
How’d we get to this point?
Obscene decisions, momentous, indiscretions, and thoughtless ideas. Sliding down the rungs of despair into a deeper sense of despondency.
100 ways in and one way out.
The labyrinth of the mind offers, no sanctuary, but plenty of castigation.
Life is the grand stage, the cinema of being.
Everything here is a performance.