Archive | January 2012

INTO THE LIGHT

Adam Elliot always thought that in the end you went into the light.

Adam Elliot always thought that in the end you went into the light. He questioned that now. Echoes sounded. But, all sight ceased to be. Now only seeing through mortified eyes that penetrated the cooper pieces placed precariously over his sealed lids.

Music. Soft. Pastoral. Celestial in its comfort, it played through unseen instruments by invisible musicians. Adam never believed in it and it still continued to leave doubt of its verity. And yet, Elliot’s thoughts found clarity and virtue in the ring of each perfect note played. It must have been his day of reckoning.

He notices the people now. Or what appear to be people. Shapes of people. Wisps of people. Familiarity dripping from every face in a place without definition. Adam’s steps were unfaltering; movements were fluid and ethereal, it felt so real. So damn wrong!

This is not the place they thought he’d end up. Elliot was a raucous rascal; a roust-about. He loved his music loud and pulsing. Bright lights and vivid colors, not this pasty representation in muted pastel. If he didn’t know any better Adam’d think he was in…

Hell! He had landed his fat ass in hell; to be tortured for an everlasting eternity here. And now he looked pretty ridiculous in that AC/DC 1979 tour shirt. “Highway to Hell”, the self-fulfilling prophecy. Too drunk to have seen the headlights of the oncoming tractor-trailer. “Into the light” wasn’t an option he had expected, but it was chosen for him anyway. That headache will stay with Adam Elliot for as long as the Choir Angelic fucks with his sense of rhythm.

UP IN SMOKE, ODDLY

Mother had my photograph taken next to the tree.

There was this tree that grew at the corner of the house in our back yard. Under my window it grew. It had amazing leaves; broad and fragrant. Shiny on the top; brown bumps underneath, and abundant. I loved that tree.

My father also loved that tree. And apparently, our neighbors did as well. They could be seen coming into our yard and whispering something to my father, who would bring them around to the back of the house near my window. Many times, they traded things. The man next door would get three or four leaves. My father would always get money.

Talk around my street was that the men who came to take a part of our tree would burn the leaves rolled up in papers and breathe the smoke that hung in the air above their heads. It made me laugh when Mr. Jameson burned his bought leaves just beyond our fence, near our tree that grew under my window. It made me very hungry too, but mostly I laughed.

But it stopped being funny when they caught Mr. “J” trying to dig up our plant with the broad leaves from our backyard. They said he had gone a little berserk, ranting about how high he got from breathing the smoke near our fence. I didn’t understand why he said that. The tree was only three and a half feet tall. That wasn’t very high at all! It was a shame daddy had to shoot him.

Shortly after they had sent my father away when Mr. Jameson died, Mom and Grandpa Morse moved us to the big house on the hill with the money my Father had taken in trade for the leaves. But before we left, Mother had my photograph taken next to the tree. It was a strange picture, indeed. And in his last act before we left our old home, Grandpa burned the tree to the ground. The whole neighborhood was a very happy place to live from that day forward. And very hungry! What an odd tree.

IN AN ALCOVE BRIGHTLY

From the shadows of a doorway, Furio Capuscalco appeared.

The silence was broken by pigeons cooing as the day found its inspiration to commence. The street was barren; cars parked, but traffic non-existant.

From the shadows of a doorway, Furio Capuscalco appeared. His jacket, a slightly upscale tatter was clutched tightly across his chest. Each inhale threatened to send buttons scattering across the cobblestone. The satchel he carried was merely an old book bag from grade school. Now, all that occupied it was a pair of stockings and a partially consumed mallo-bar. Small bundles of paper stacked neatly and banded, were tucked neatly on the bottom of the canvas sack. Oh yes, and his cap gun. A boy needed protection if he were to claim the mean streets as his own. Any thug with a sensitivity to loud noise was in for a rude awakening if he gave Furio any shit. Capuscalco was all of seven years old.

Trepidation fluttered in the young boy’s belly. It was either fear that drove him, or the remnants of the sugar high that was the monkey on his back. He had a knack for the confections, and on an otherwise empty stomach, they gave him a terrible ache. Furio glanced out from his hiding place.

“Where are the people?” Furio wondered.

This place near the park was usually bustling with activity. In a hurry; always in a hurry. No one ever noticed him, but Furio was there every day; lurking, peering, peeking around the corner from his sheltered spot.

“Ain’t nobody coming” Furio said to himself. “The coast is clear! It’s mine now!”

And he picked up his bag and stepped onto the sidewalk. A smile laced his smudged face. He owned these streets. His stride had assumed its confidence now. An unseen companion followed closely behind Furio, his four stubby legs padding along as his happy tail flicked the early morning air.

Furio Capuscalco had evaded suspicion again. No one ever expected an armed bank robber to be all of three foot seven inches with peanut butter smears on his chin.

A SHELL OF HIS FORMER SELF

The portrait above the mantle looked good. But he was going to hell in a hurry!

Gideon Gray remembered his uncle less than fondly. He thought him to be highly self-absorbed and arrogant. Vain to a fault and a deplorable human being. The young gentleman was altruistic; a very giving and compassionate soul. Life was to be cherished and savored. In Gideon’s eyes, anything less would be a desecration of that perfect gift.

A more valued gift that this massive dwelling that had been bequeathed to him. The mansion was a hideous reminder of the debauched life that his uncle had presented. Dorian Gray was not remembered fondly.

The task at hand occupied Gideon and filled his minutes with every effort to remove any trace of his elder from the abode. The ornate trappings of self-centered avarice were torn down. And that picture! That insipid portrait of Dorian had been rumored to change with each indiscretion committed by his his father’s brother. Nonetheless, Gideon ordered it destroyed and replaced with his own ordinary image.

A month had passed and Gideon was settling into his new home nicely. The local populace was curious and as such still looked upon Gray Manor with disdain and jealousy. Rumors began to swirl about the hermetic Gideon. Unfounded as they were, the rabble were convinced that Gideon had chosen to live vicariously in Dorian’s ways. Angered by accusation, Gideon let his ire fester. He never noticed up until then.

Gideon sequestered himself in his study. Above the mantle hung Gideon Gray’s picture. It was a much more pleasing portrait than was Dorian’s. But something seemed different. It bore his likeness, but looked younger, more handsome. It was his own reflection that irritated Gideon. He appeared haggard; worn down by his surroundings.

The passage of time plagued Gray. For each day brought a more youthful glint in the portraits eyes. Gideon himself was ghastly. His flesh hung from his bones as if draped over his frame. Eyes sunken and gaunt cheeked, he bore the features of decay. The smell of death permeated the manse.

Gideon’s mind slipped further into his insanity. He did not understand what was occurring. Slumped in his large armchair, Gray stared at his portrait. He was no older than a teen. The wall mirror told his tale. Flesh had been peeled from his face; his nose dangling by a thread of sinew. He looked a shell of his former self. The portrait above the mantle looked good. But he was going to hell in a hurry! The curse of Gray Mansion would claim another victim

ALL BUSINESS

Charley Barton had been in Sales for 27 years. Persistence used to be his strong point. Fluid with the bullshit and he drove a hard bargain. He had made and broken more bones in those 27 years than anyone he knew. But it had all dried up. Charley didn’t have the heart for it anymore. It had all changed.

He was an excellent provider in his heyday. The charming Mrs. “B” never wanted for anything until Charley started his gradual slide. Then, all she ever wanted was for Charley to go away. As he waited for the bus with an acquaintance, Charley stirred up his usual small talk.

“Mel,” Charley said, “the whole industry has changed. It used to be easy to reel them in. But, lately I seem to be using the wrong bait”

“Bait, nothin,” Mel Davis retorted. “You’ve been missing the ‘Big Picture’.”

Barton and Davis were cut from the same swatch of fabric, most surely polyester blend. Their better years were in the rear view mirror. Rounder now and slightly balding; poster-boys for middle age. They had become stodgy, stiff and set in their ways. What worked before, just didn’t close the deal anymore. Barton glanced around and wondered out loud.

“What ‘Big Picture’?” Charley asked finally.

“Look around you, Chuck! What do you see?” Davis offered. “I mean, really look!”

Again Charley’s head swiveled from side to side. He had looked earlier, but it was in that moment that he saw it for the first time.

The sales force looked different to him. Not so hard edged. Nor so pushy. Oh, they were still persistent but it came across as totally more effective than his old methods. They were more “put together’ than his pot-bellied self. Pleasingly attractive and softer. Curvier.

“See that?” Mel asked. “That is our competition. They are the new deal makers.”

Three young female executive-types strolled past. Charley noticed their look. It was as if they had donned a uniform. Skirts and blazers of red were their tunics; a look that exuded confidence. The ladies were in the element that they had created. They were very professional with a gait that was assured, driven and synchronized, all stepping off with the same foot. An army of ‘go-getters” on the march, sans jackboots. Their black pumps served their purpose nicely. They were dressed for one thing: SUCCESS!

Charley Barton’s shoulders slumped. His head hung in a dejected sway. At that moment, Barton knew he was washed up. It was clearly obvious he didn’t have the heart for the game any longer. Hell, it was very apparent that he didn’t even have the legs for it.

IN TRANSIT

“Hidden in the hot mist of movement, a shadow.”

 

The steam rises.

Hidden in the hot mist of movement, a shadow. Tall, lumbering in fact and yet unnoticed in the bustle of another rush homeward.

The conductor, maybe. Or a commuter perhaps. Gaps of humanity filling in the mass of mindless flesh passing in unfamiliarity. There is no clarity in their thoughts. They are traveling from here to there.

Successful ventures brought him to the big city.
But, a failing marriage and an equally futile affair brings him to board this behemoth; through the fog.

The platform clears. All that remains is the shadow and the clacking of heels on the iron stairs. She’s missing her train. Again the steam rises, and the heated hiss surprises her. He stands unmoved by it. He has heard it thousands of times. It has become his insanity. He had released vanity years ago.

The tracks are empty for a moment. The steam dissipates. And as she nervously reaches for her cell phone, she feels a hand in here pocket that is not hers. Whipping around for a glimpse, she see nothing at all. A new arrival on track 3. More steam, ominous orange neon flashes and whispers.

“Get on the train” It fills her ears. More hiss than whisper. Was the locomotive beckoning her?

“Get on the train!” it repeated.

Mindlessly she walked, her trance compelling and telling her to proceed cautiously. She felt sick. Unsettled. She felt the rush of movement behind her as instinct and fear worked in tandem. She stepped to her right behind the concrete abutment.

The shadowy figure lay mangled on the track. He has come to his end the way it had been explained to him. The voices called and whispered. More hiss than whisper. He was helping the lady, he was convinced of it. Only it was she who was helping him. She was his insanity; a figment of his wild ramblings. He gambled with the idea that whatever was following him, wouldn’t survive the jump in front of the train engine.

She was gone. It was unsure if she even ever was. The investigation found his missing hand on the platform. And they never could explain the clacking noise deep within the train tunnel. It just kept moving deeper into the void. An eternity in transit.