David Boski

Cum Baby Cum!

She kept repeating:
“cum baby cum! cum baby cum!”
in a song like rhythm.
The problem was I couldn’t cum,
but I kept trying, there with an Asian
hooker in my bathroom and her repeating:
“cum baby cum!”
n her high-pitched accent.

We were in the bathroom cause I let my friend
use the bedroom when the first hooker arrived;
banking on the fact that he’d be done by the time
mine got there, and that the next one would be more
attractive than the first.

Our other two friends stayed in the living room,
drinking and watching
TV. Eventually the hooker,
now on her knees, looked up at me and said:
“no cum?” and I looked down, shook my head,
and said: “no cum.”

She got dressed and I went out into the living
room, seeing my friends, including the one who
had the first hooker. I asked how it was and he
said it was terrible: he couldn’t cum. I said neither
could I, and then another friend asked if he could
borrow some cash, said he wanted to give it a go.

We advised against it. All signs were pointing to us
being way too drunk to fuck Asian hookers at 4AM
in the morning; but he didn’t listen, and he didn’t
cum either.

Otis Fuqua

Dish by Dish

The entire point of dishwashing is to do so in peace. Being a good dishwasher means focusing on the dishes, and nothing else. I was good at it. So dish by dish, I forgot to hate her. By the time of the Christmas roasting trays, I was thinking of moving out of our old place. By the time of the Valentine’s Day champagne glasses, I’d moved.

I’d moved into my co-worker Jeff’s closet. It was yellow and smelled like bugs. If I wanted to sleep, I had to lay diagonally. It was hell. I never said anything about it to Jeff, but looking back, it’s amazing I put up with it.

Jeff was my dishwashing partner at the restaurant. He put the dishes away after I cleaned them. We were supposed to switch jobs every once in a while but we didn’t. On my first day, Jeff told me he preferred to put dishes away. Not really thinking, I told him I preferred to clean. So that was that.

Sometimes, when there were no dishes, we leaned against the dishwasher, me on the dirty side, Jeff on the clean side. We chatted politics. Jeff was an anarchist. I was a socialist. We found this delightful to talk about.

When there were dishes, which was usually the case, we didn’t talk. We became one with the machine. We meditated to the mantra of dirty dishes in, clean dishes out. It was nice, thinking about just the one thing. Hours slipped by in what felt like minutes.

That’s how I forgot to hate her. I was halfway through washing a stand mixer caked in cookie dough. The sprayer wasn’t doing much. A chocolate chip came unwedged, and I remembered her. There was no good reason for it. She just popped into mind.

She was kneeling in the grass in front of the Washington Monument. I was sick. There were geese all around. They wanted to eat my vomit. She was rubbing my back, humming a song. Fly me to the moon. It was an important song for us. We danced to it often. Or maybe we only danced to it once. Either way, it felt like we were dancing to it all the time.

We were drinking a lot those days. That’s why I was sick. We’d filled travel mugs with rum and coke. I’d made up a drinking game based on the tourists. They were all taking the same photo, where they positioned the camera so it looked like they were touching the top of the monument. The game was, every time you saw one, you drank. She was cheating. I know because I looked in her mug when she went to the bathroom. It was full.

While I was thinking about this, the bowl of the stand mixer had filled up with water. I stuck both arms in. It came up to my elbows. Most people would’ve found the water scalding. They would’ve cried like little girls. To me, it felt like a warm bath. The image of her melted away.

“I hate that stupid bitch,” I said to Jeff.

Jeff raised the lever that opened the dishwasher. My glasses fogged with steam. I pushed the rack out the other side.

“Did you hear me?” I said. “I hate her.”

On our way home, we saw a homeless woman in the subway station. She was playing a kazoo. It sounded like she was speaking into it. It seemed like she was talking about the people in the station. Her hat was empty. I put a dollar in it. Jeff laughed when I did it.

“God bless you,” the woman said.

“He doesn’t believe in god,” Jeff said. “He believes in himself.”

The woman spat on Jeff’s shoes. They were shiny black work shoes.

Jeff laughed. “Free shoe shine,” he said.

When his back was turned I spat on the woman’s shoes. I felt bad about it though, so I gave her an extra quarter.

When we were on the street level, Jeff accused me of assuming the best of people.

“You don’t know that,” I said.

“You know she’s just gonna spend it on drugs,” he said.

We went to the weed store. Jeff bought a strain of indica. One hit of indica knocks me out. He bought it to shut me up. I’d been talking a lot. Ever since the stand mixer I’d been sort of stuck on her. Jeff liked to do back-handed things like that. Like he’d compliment my hair, even though we both knew it’s my worst attribute. Or he’d give you gum as a way of saying your breath smelled bad.

On a blackboard behind the counter, they’d written the specials. There was a sale on a strain of sativa called Bruce Banner. Next to it, someone had drawn an angry man tearing his shirt off. There were flames behind him. I bought a little.

“Will this make me mad?” I asked the budtender.

She squinted at me. She had a tattoo on her forehead of a lotus flower.

“Super,” she said. Her voice sounded stupid and far away. “Suuuuper.”

I wanted to kiss her stupid mouth.

Jeff and I smoked on the fire escape. I was always a little stressed smoking on the fire escape. We had to be careful not to drop anything.

There was a gentle breeze. The sky was pink. There was a group of kids playing basketball down in the courtyard.

We smoked out of Jeff’s bong. He tried to get me to smoke some of his indica.

“Not today,” I said.

Jeff went into his phone. It was his way of telling me to stop talking. I guess I’d been talking a lot about her. He smoked. When he was done he went inside.

I loaded my bowl and sat. I thought about the person living on the floor below. It smelled like garlic down there. Who was cooking for who, I wondered, and were they about to split up.

Bruce Banner burned all at once. It made my eyes water. I got paranoid. The kids playing basketball laughed. A police siren in the distance got louder. These were the things I was paranoid about. My hands were shaking. I felt cold. This happens to me when I’m paranoid.

The day she left me was the day before my birthday. I was sleeping on the couch. She shook me awake and there she was, suitcases all packed. The TV was flashing behind her. There was a nature documentary on. All these baby sea turtles were racing across the sand. A big yellow crab was trying to get them. They had to get to the ocean before it gobbled them up or something. She put her key on the coffee table. She said something at the door. It was important. She stopped and turned around to say it.

It blind-sided me, her leaving. I had tickets for us to go to the circus the next day. She’d said she was excited.

Jeff put on some music. The bass made the fire escape rattle a little. The vibrations shook the water in the bong. It was a big nasty thing. The glass was coated in brown slime. Little flecks of ash stuck to the stuff. Jeff said it was impossible to clean, but a little salt and rubbing alcohol would’ve taken care of it. Maybe I’ll clean it, I thought. Then I threw it off the fire escape.

Anthony Dirk Ray

Birthday 2005

I went to a parade downtown
saw floats, saw tits, saw drunks
drove to my folk’s rental in spanish fort
my mom, taking tequila shots
my dad, working shift work at the mill
a great meal offered and ingested
a great day
I thought
“is it hot in here?” my mother asked
“not to me,” I replied
as I searched for drum and bass ringtones
for my new phone just purchased for me
“I’m having trouble breathing,” she said
time is of the essence I thought
I called 911
I put a leash on the dog
as my mother went to the back
to get dressed for the ambulance
she returned with fear in her eyes, asking
“when will they be here?”
at that time
I assume
realizing she had no heart beat
I was unaware of this at that point
looking back
I should have called again
but I was in complete denial and comforting her

I watched my mother die a fast death

to her
I’m sure it was slow
suffocating, turning purple, and scared
no breath to be had
despite trying

I said, “I love you.”
somehow between gasps of air
she was able to get out
“I love you too
tell your dad”
I said, “I know, save your breath.”
no heartbeat
no breath
no hope
no help
flailing and convulsing upon the floor
not a goddamn thing I could do
but stare in shock
where the fuck are the paramedics I thought
finally they arrived and began working on her
at the hospital questions were answered
blood pressure skyrocketed
heart stopped
and lungs slowly filled with fluid
my mother had drowned from within
the lungs drained
the heart revived
but consciousness had not returned
her brain had been without oxygen for about an hour
left in a vegetative state
we waited two weeks for a miracle
or at least
any sign of improvement
or life
kept alive by machines
that’s no life
that’s not life
the machines were switched off
and I watched my mother die
for the second time

Bogdan Dragos

Testosterone

she doesn’t let me drink
and insists
that I listen to her

insists with
a viciousness

“It’s because you work night shifts,”
she says.

“What’s that got to do with drinking
while I’m free?”

“Alcohol lowers a man’s testosterone level
and increases estrogen. Why
don’t you know that? You
need to take better care of
yourself.”

she made for me a diet with
rice and garlic

calls me while on the night shift
and tells me to go into the bathroom
and jump 100 times
and do stretching exercises,
tells me to drink more water
She even buys me bags of nuts and seeds
and tells me to eat between the meals

“No sugar,” she says. “No, not even in
coffee. Pure black or nothing.”

she even bought me a
hand grip strengthener with adjustable resistance
to use while I’m in the office

she encouraged me to eat
raw eggs but stopped when
I told her that you can get salmonella like that

when I came home from work
one evening at 23:36
I ate my rice with garlic
and she asked if I wanted anything else
and I said “Yeah, a beer.”

“Okay,” she said. Went into the kitchen
came back fifteen minutes later with
a cup of tea and a lemon

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Ginger tea. It’s better with lemon. Should
I squeeze it for you?”

“No thanks, I’ll do it myself.” I cut the
lemon in half and squeezed it into the cup

It was the nectar of gods
and I didn’t
hesitate to tell her
so

“All right then,” she said. “Drink it all, rinse
with water before brushing your teeth
and then come to bed.”

I did all that and went to bed

and she wanted me to sleep
because lack
of sleep is the worst
enemy of a man’s testosterone levels

Matthew Licht

yellogirl 2

A Hard Case (Part 6)

The scene was macabre. A beautiful woman held prisoner by the book in her lap.

“This some new kind of torture?”

The guy who’d led me into Project X HQ hadn’t taken my gun. No security goons had appeared. No cameras whirred, no hot lights shone, no microphones listened in, or at least it didn’t feel that way.

“Are you kidding? She barged in here and offered us a cool grand if we’d take her on,” he said. “We don’t usually go for mercenaries, but we gave her a chance. We want performers with souls. The other outfits extrude more than enough feed for the masses. We go deeper.”

Doris Frawley looked up, annoyed. “This was supposed to be a break. If you’re going to talk, I’ll go read in the commissary.”

“Sorry, toots.” The man herded me through a door off to the side, into a small soundproofed room. “Take a seat,” he said. The director’s chair in the corner had a stack of books beside it. “Get ready for your scene.”

“What’m I supposed to do?”

“You’re the detective. Take all the time you need.” He closed the door, quietly.

At the top of the book-pile was Daniel Fuchs’ The Golden West, a love song to Los Angeles. Happiness radiated from solid blocks of print that looked like home.

A woman with bright red hair stuck her head in the door, winked, and left me alone. That might’ve been some sort of movie-set signal. I ignored it, picked up F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Pat Hobby Stories. Time passed seamlessly.

The light in the room dimmed a shade or two. Fresh air came in from an invisible window somewhere.

The crew had lost patience. The producer, or director, whatever he was, came back in. He tossed Jim Thompson’s Savage Night somewhat painfully. “Here. Give this the once-over, and then let’s go.”

Not a long story, but a hard one.

The light went all the way out.

Music oozed from under the wooden door, heavy on the vibraphones and drums. Doris Frawley knocked, entered, shimmied to where I was. She took my hand. We went out of the reading room into the light.

‘This is a dream,’ I thought, and then, ‘This isn’t a dream.’

Whatever we did on that blindingly lit set had purpose. It was up to us to find out what the action meant. We went deep, and then we went deeper. There was no bottom.

Someone yelled, “Cut!”

Doris didn’t even open her eyes. “We don’t want to cut,” she said. “We want to bring everything together.”

Whoever had the megaphone said, “Roll on!”

A Hard Case (Part 1)

A Hard Case (Part 2)

A Hard Case (Part 3)

A Hard Case (Part 4)

A Hard Case (Part 5)

Anamnesis, By Adrian Manning

IMG_0344

Anamnesis, By Adrian Manning
Analog Submission Press

Adrian Manning writes from Leicester, England. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and on-line journals around the world. He is the author of a number of chapbooks, most recently Stare Down The Gods (Holy&Intoxicated Press). He is also head honcho at Concrete Meat Press.

Limited run, lovingly handmade and painstakingly hand numbered! 20 pages saddle stitched. Printed on an old Canon laser printer we found abandoned at a dump site. White outer wrappers with grey inner wrappers.

BUY A COPY HERE

John D. Robinson

The Muttered Hymns

She jumped in her mid-teens from
middle-class university future into
the world of sex and drugs: speed
was her choice and later, alcohol:
our mothers were life-long friends
so she and I had known each
other since toddlers: I was sweet
on her and I think she felt the
same but we never got it
together:
she had two daughters by
some fucking vicious speed-
freak, she couldn’t look after
them and they were removed
from her care:
she became obliterated,
homeless, her body swelled
and her skin yellow and she
died a few weeks after a
savage beating from some
useless piece of shit:
a few years previous she
had called on me: we sat
and drank wine and smoked
hash, she wasn’t in too bad shape,
I had thoughts of intimacy but I
knew she was vulnerable and
maybe lonely and looking for a
little safe friendship where she
could relax for a while and
that was enough:
she was cremated, a small
number attended: one of her
daughter’s was serving 15
years for attempted murder
and was handcuffed to 2
prison officers, her other sister
was present, both were weeping:
prayers were said and hymns
were muttered quietly and as
we filed out I could hold back
no more as my eyes gave way
to tears as I walked away into
a day that needed drowning
in sorrow and alcohol.

James Babbs

Blue Silo

The blue silo looks like a rocket ship and, someday, I’m going to use it to fly myself to the moon. I want to go all the way to the moon so I can run across its surface and leap high into the air. I know it’s easy to do this since there isn’t as much gravity on the moon as there is here on Earth. I don’t think I’ll have any problem getting to the moon and I want to see all the abandoned equipment they’ve left up there. And I want to see the footprints from all the astronauts that have come before me. I want to put my feet in the same places where they walked and see how it feels. Maybe, I’ll stay there for a few weeks but, eventually, I want to go to Mars and start my own colony. I want to fuck a hundred different women and have babies with them all.

I have dreams about the blue silo. In the first dream the blue silo becomes a giant robot, suddenly, rising up from its moorings and moving across the earth. The robot lumbers across the land destroying some of the houses in its path by crushing them under its feet. The robot goes wherever it wants to go and even the military can’t stop it with all their powerful weapons. Throughout the course of the dream I chase after the robot trying to get its attention. I run alongside of it screaming and waving my arms. When I, finally, get the robot to notice me I plead with it to take me along and the robot reaches down for me but the dream always ends before the robot can pick me up.

In the second dream I can see the blue silo in the distance, rising up against the sky and I start walking toward it but no matter how far I go the blue silo never gets any closer. I walk across a barren field and feel the wind blowing cold against my face. Sometimes, I start walking through a corn field and it’s hot and the leaves of the corn scratch the skin on my arms. Sometimes, I come to a town and the people ask me what I’m doing. When I tell them I’m heading to the blue silo they shake their heads and laugh. I ask them what’s so funny about going to see the blue silo but they never answer me. They just keep laughing, some of them, throwing their heads back and roaring, their mouths looking like big gaping holes. It makes me angry and I storm off, while all the time seeing the blue silo in the distance, rising up against the sky.

In the last dream there is only darkness and I‘m stuck inside some kind of enclosed space. I’m buried inside some tiny little space and I can‘t move and it‘s hard for me to breathe. All the time I’m inside this small space I keep hearing voices but they’re only sounds and I don’t understand any of the words they‘re saying. But I try to answer them and my own voice comes out sounding muffled and strange. But then somebody calls my name and I’m, suddenly, able to move but the dream ends and I wake up.

***

I was sitting by the window when she came into the room. I was sitting there alone inside that dimly-lit room and I was laughing about nothing at all. She probably thought I was joking when she asked me what I was doing and I told her I was losing my mind. But my laughing had stopped without any kind of a warning and I stared into her face until she turned away. Suddenly, I felt like the connection between us was broken. I stood up and told her goodbye and that I didn‘t want to talk to her anymore. The words hung in the air between us before crashing to the floor. I thanked her and told her she was free to go.

But I didn’t leave the room. I just stood there not moving while she did the same. Finally, I laughed and started telling her about the blue silo again. I told her how I’d seen it rising up into the air. The way it looked against the wide open sky. The blue silo was a darker blue than the sky. I told her the sky only looked blue when it was empty. At other times the sky appeared white or looked kind of gray. The blue silo had probably been there for years I told her and I just hadn’t noticed it before. You know what silos are for, don’t you? I asked her, wondering what she would say. She was holding something in her hand and she glanced down at it then looked up at me again. Don’t you store grain in them? she said. Well, I told her, you’re probably thinking more of a grain bin. That’s something different. Most grain bins are round and kind of squat-looking and are usually made of corrugated metal. Silos are tall and sleek and have sides that are smooth.

I see, she said. Whether or not she really did I wasn’t certain. So, what goes into a silo?she asked me. She seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Well, I said, a silo is made for storing silage. That’s something you harvest before it’s ripe. You put it in the silo and let it ferment and then you use it to feed your cattle. Like grass or something. Maybe corn stalks when they’re still green. I’m not sure.

Okay, she said. But, I told her, there are missile silos too and immediately I felt like I had revealed too much. But I didn’t stop, I kept going. I said, I think missile silos are usually under the ground. Then I stopped and looked out the window. She didn’t say anything and I didn’t know if she was waiting for me to continue or just thinking about the things I had already told her. Finally, I blurted out, I think the blue silo is full of memories.

I had turned from the window and was looking at her again. I saw a light in her eyes and it reminded me of a candle, its flame flickering in the breeze. Memories? she said. I watched her hand reach up and touch her chin. Why do you say that? she asked me and I tried to laugh again but the sound came out all wrong. I don’t know, I whispered.

Sometimes, I remembered a photograph of my father standing in front of the blue silo. An old photograph when he was a young man, probably, long before I was born. He wore a dark brown shirt and blue jeans with a green cap pulled down low on his head so I could barely see his eyes.

I had never told her about the photograph but I thought about it a lot. Especially, when I was by myself. I wondered if I had ever gone there, to that place in the photograph, where the blue silo existed. Had I ever been there when I was a boy? Had I ever touched the smooth side of the blue silo with my hands? Or did I ever lean against it and feel the warmth of the metal on my back after it had been heated by the sun?

I asked my mother a few times about the blue silo and I mentioned the photograph to her. But she always acted like she didn’t know what I was talking about. It could’ve been all the medication they had given to her or, maybe, she just didn’t remember. Or, there was the third possibility, the one I didn’t want to think about. That there wasn’t any photograph and there was never a blue silo and it was all something I had imagined. But I kept searching through the photo albums my mother kept stored in the spare bedroom. I kept looking at all those tired faces on all those people. Back then everyone looked so old even when they were young. I knew some of the people were supposed to be my family but I didn’t remember most of them.

In some of the photographs I saw someone who was supposed to be me but I felt like I didn’t have any connection to that blonde-haired boy in the pictures. I think they were just trying to fool me into believing something that wasn’t real. And the worst thing about it was not having any way to prove it one way or another. You just had to take everyone’s word for it and believe in all the things they were telling you. You could drive yourself crazy thinking about it all.

***

The blue silo is haunted. I hear terrible sounds when I’m walking around outside. I told her, when I was young, I saw a man fall into the blue silo but I never saw him come out again. It was a warm day in the middle of summer and children were laughing and playing in the orchard. I don’t know what happened but the man was just gone and no one talked about him after that. Everybody acted like he never even existed and when I asked my mother about the man she hushed me and told me to get ready for bed. I heard my mother crying in the next room as I took off my clothes and put on my Scooby Doo pajamas. What did your mother tell you? she asked me. Did she ever say anything to you about the man? I looked down at my hands. I don’t know, I said.

One day, when we were talking about the man again, I told her the man didn’t have a face. Are you sure? she asked me. What do you mean? I said. I think you saw the man’s face, she said. I looked at her and shook my head. No, I said. There was nothing there. She cupped her chin with one of her hands the way she did, sometimes, when she was thinking of something. But didn’t you look at the man’s face? she asked me. Yes, I said, but it was just a smooth surface like something made out of plastic. Maybe it wasn’t real. She looked at me. Are you saying a man didn’t really die? I felt tired. I said, I don’t know what I’m trying to say.

I told her I thought, maybe, somebody else died inside the blue silo. I told her it was a long time ago or, maybe, it was only yesterday or, it hadn‘t happened, yet. Then, I realized how strange that sounded and I just laughed. One day when I was tired of all her questions I told her I killed someone and stuffed them into the blue silo. I told her there were countless bodies in the blue silo and that I’d been doing terrible things for many years and I wouldn’t be caught until I was ready. She didn’t say anything but just looked at a spot somewhere above my head for the longest time.

***

When I was around ten years old I remember some older boys found me and asked me what I was doing. I was sitting on the front porch playing with my cars and waiting for my Mom to get home. But I didn’t tell the boys any of that. I just looked up at them. There were three of them. Denny was the leader and he was the one who asked me what I was doing. I told them nothing and then tried to act like I wasn‘t interested in them and went back to playing with my cars. I remember one of the cars was yellow and had flames painted on the side of it.

Well, Denny said, you’re gonna do something now and one of the other boys whose name was JJ, I think, stepped forward and said, yeah and when he did he shook his fist at me. Denny stood there while the other two boys came up on the porch and grabbed me by the arms. They pulled me down until I was standing in front of Denny. It was a hot day and I felt the sun hitting me in the face. Denny brought his face down close to mine and then he just laughed. I felt the sweat running down my back and into my underwear. I tried to get away but they dragged me to the blue silo and forced me to go inside. The boys shut me up in there and I heard them outside laughing. It was dark in there and the air was warm. Every time I breathed I smelled something sweet.

I knew they were waiting for me to scream. I knew they wanted me to beg them to let me out but I just stayed quiet with my eyes shut tight. It seemed like hours passed before they opened the door and asked me if I was okay. I almost laughed hearing the panic in their voices and it gave me a sense of power knowing how scared they were. I’d never felt anything like that before. I was curled up into a ball when they dragged me back out and let me go. I fell into the dirt near the blue silo and just laid there.

Hey, I heard Denny saying. Hey, shit, come on. You’re alright. Denny turned to the others. He’s alright, Denny said. Suddenly I leaped up and screamed and ran right at Denny. All three boys jumped back and started running away. I chased after them for a little while but they were older and they soon left me behind. When they were a safe distance away Denny stopped and shouted, I knew you were alright. I heard him laughing but it was a nervous laugh. You fucking little freak, he screamed before they all ran off and left me alone again.

***

Sometimes I close my eyes and find myself back inside the blue silo again. I like the way it feels in there. It’s always warm and I like the way the darkness seems to wrap itself around me. The darkness like a thick blanket and I can use it to prevent things from getting through. I feel safe when I’m in the blue silo. I don’t feel frightened like I thought I would.

Some days I tell her exactly what I’m thinking and other days I tell her what I think she wants to hear. Some days I tell her I don’t feel like seeing her at all and I just stay in my room with the curtains drawn. Or, sometimes, I get drunk and try to write down everything I can about the blue silo no matter how strange it sounds. I’m not sure what’s real or not real anymore and, maybe, it doesn’t even matter.

The other day when I was just out driving around I saw the blue silo all by itself out in the middle of nowhere. It looked like it hadn’t been used in years. There were rusted spots all over the sides where the blue paint had peeled off and part of the top was missing. The grass was grown up around it and there was a thick green vine winding its way up the sides of the blue silo. The vine had managed to climb several feet above the ground. I thought about stopping and going to look it over but, from the road, I didn’t see any way to reach the blue silo with the car. I pulled over and used my phone to take a picture of the blue silo. I haven’t decided, yet, if I’m going to show it to her the next time we meet.

Bogdan Dragos

A girl with a blog

she kept texting me links
links
links
to posts on her
law of attraction blog

Find Your Soulmate In Six
Easy Steps

Meditations For Prosperity

Meditations For Prosperity
Enhanced Edition

14 Visualization Techniques That Will
Manifest The Perfect Life

How To Show Gratitude To The Universe
In Order To Get More Of What You Want

Find Your Dream Job Using This
3 Step Meditation Formula
Works 100%

Grab God’s Hand And Let It Pull
You Out Of Debt. Here’s How

How To Listen To The Correct
Inner Voice And Let It Guide You

How To Befriend And Make Love To
Your Higher Self. A Step By Step Guide

“Leave me a like. Comment too.
Thanks.”

“I need an account to do that,” I said.
“I don’t have an account.”

“Well, make one.”

“I need an e-mail address to make
an account.”

“Are you telling me you don’t have
an e-mail address?”

“I forgot the password.”

“Oh, why do you have to be like that?
You wouldn’t move a finger
to help anyone. Ever! How can you
live like that? You’re… uh, horrible!”

“Okay, listen. Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll make
an e-mail address and give you the password
so you can make an account for me
and leave likes and comments on every
post. How about that?”

She didn’t answer.

And didn’t text me for a while

A few months later she sent me an
invitation to her wedding.

I didn’t go.

After she got married she stopped
posting on her blog
Her husband was ten years older than her
and they moved to the UK

A few months later a common friend mentioned
she was having a baby
and showed me pictures of it
on the various social media sites that
portrayed life at its absolute perfection

The account was full of pictures of
quotes from self-help books

‘It’s never too late to be what you
might have been.’

‘Dream positive or wake up!’

‘Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss
you’ll still land among the stars.’

‘When things aren’t going well in your life
scream to yourself STOP! and think
of all the ways things can go right from
then on.’

‘Remember that what you think
and feel now creates your future!’

‘Doing it badly is infinity times
better than not doing it.’

‘HOPE is the best medicine.’

‘Always ask yourself, what would the best
version of myself do?’

‘Actions first, feelings later. Act on your values.’

And on and on.

And a few months later she divorced and left
the UK
Her girlfriends said the husband was
abusive
The girls who weren’t so close to her
said that she cheated on him

the truth was probably somewhere
in the middle

Now she was living on child support
and returned to writing her
blog
Only this time the posts weren’t so much
about the law of attraction and more
about her life and what she’d been through
and what d’ you know,
they were actually good
they were worth reading.

It worked!

the law of attraction worked

Her blog was finally popular
it was getting likes
and comments and followers

I read the latest post titled
“When you’re going through hell, keep going”
and it was good
there was some real feeling behind
each paragraph
each word

She made it

and now I sit back and wait for the post
titled
“Nothing comes without a price”
or something like that.

Judge Santiago Burdon

Johnny Rico And El Oso Rojo

There’s a persistent knocking at my door. Actually I would characterize it as more of a pounding than a knocking.

It’s 2:19 a.m. and I don’t have to guess who would be so rude, so impatient as to disrupt and disturb me at this hour. I’m sure of the identity of the intruder AND of the fact that he must be off his meds. I open the door without even asking the person outside to identify himself.

“Oh good Bigotes, you are awake,” says Johnny Rico as he pushes his way into my apartment. “I hope I am not interrupting anything. Listen, I need your help to get revenge on the Jamaicans who ripped me off last month. I know where they are staying.”

I stand there dumbfounded as he makes his way past me and to the refrigerator.

 “Ya got any beer?”

“Are you for real, fuckstick?” I ask. “It’s almost 2:30 in the goddamn morning and you want me to head out on some revenge-capade to get back at some Jamaicans for a couple hundred dollars? Are you fucking insane? Of course you are, what a ludicrous question.”

“So what do you say, Bigotes?”

I keep asking myself over and over whatever possessed me to become an active participant in his deranged and demented acts of psychosis, time and time again. To this day, I’ve still never been able to find a good answer.

“Hold on,” I say, my initial reluctance giving way. “Just let me get some clothes on and do a quick bump before we head out.”

“Hey carnal,” he calls after me as I head into my bedroom. “Grab your Glock as well, just in case things get out of control. Ya know, some insurance.”

“Hey JR, I’m really starting not to love this whole scenario,” I call back to him as I step into my pants. “Guns? What exactly are you hoping to accomplish? And I want a rational answer. Not your usual off-the-wall psychobabble bullshit.”

I can see by the look in his eyes that he’s currently riding The Bipolar Express.

“I just want those Caribbean chulos to know who they’re dealing with!” Johnny screams in response. “They can’t come to Colombia, my country and disrespect me. These Rastamen need to be taught a lesson!”

“So now you’re a teacher giving lessons? In what, Johnny’s brand of street justice? Listen, I will accompany you on this mission of restoring your pride, but no killing anyone, or anything twice, do you understand? “

“I don’t want it to come to that either, but if does, I gotta do what I gotta do. Remember those two fucking Dominicanos I took out for you? It’s time for you to pay me back. Now let’s go! They have a house in Barrio Los Lomas.”

Reluctantly, I follow him outside and climb into El Oso Rojo (Red Bear), a truly monstrous automobile. Immediately I am swallowed up by its crimson plush interior.

***

Johnny had bought this 1974 Buick LeSabre from some corrupt Federal Police at an incredibly discounted rate. It’s blood red with a white convertible top. You’d have a difficult time going unnoticed in this oversized pimpmobile.

He’d had a Dodge Duster prior to this impulsive purchase, which wasn’t nearly as high profile and drew very little attention. Unfortunately, however, the Duster became a victim of one of Johnny’s psychotic episodes after a three-day cocaine binge accompanied by a case of scotch and a variety of prescription drugs he’d pilfered from his last stay in the psychiatric hospital.

He’d resided there for only one week. After that, they’d asked him to leave, having finally had enough of “His Riconess.”

He drove the Duster into a concrete retaining wall near the beach. Then, in some bizarre ritual to an ancient God, he set the car on fire.

After that, the Duster was left beyond restoration and never arose from its ashes. There was just no resurrecting it. He simply left it right there in the middle of the highway and never looked back.

***

“So carnal, what’s the plan?” I ask along the way. “You must have some idea how you’re going to address this offensive, don’t you? “

“Not really,” he says, “I thought I’d leave that to you. You are always very at good figuring how to attack a problem.”

We arrive at the house where the suspects reside and surprisingly they’re still awake.

We can see them partying inside through some large sliding glass doors. The music is blaring and you can hear them laughing, talking, and see them dancing around.

“What is that music they’re listening to?” I ask. “That’s not ABBA, is it? Is that fucking ABBA? You said these were Rastamen. Big, bad Rastamen who ‘set me up and ripped me off, Bigotes’. That’s what you told me, JR.”

In a rare moment for him, Johnny Rico has nothing to say.

“That’s how you described what happened, Johnny!” I continue. “Where’s their dreadlocks and Bob Marley reggae music, huh mon? No self-respecting Rastafarian would be caught dead listening to ABBA! Ya know what I think, Johnny Rico? I surmise you met these cabrons at that gay disco club in downtown Cartagena and attempted to rip THEM off. That’s exactly what happened, isn’t it? But they got the drop on you instead.”

“Callate cabron!” Johnny finally shoots back. “That’s not what happened at all. Don’t you think of me being gay. I go to the club for the music. It doesn’t matter how it happened. Those pinches stole my money, my coca and my watch. You’re making me angry, Bigotes. You better stop making the fun of me. I thought you were my friend, carnal?”

He’s irritated and truly upset. For all his goofing around, Johnny isn’t one for being the subject of ridicule himself.

“Well, how are we going to lure them outside?” I begin to laugh. “It’s not like they’re going to invite us in for cocktails.”

“Still think this is funny?” he asks. “Well, I’ve got a way to get inside. Hold on, Bigotes!”

Before I am able to ask him how, Johnny backs up El Oso Rojo, revs the engine and, with all tires squealing, we careen toward the glass patio doors at an accelerated velocity.

“Johnny you motherfucking psychopath!” I scream. “You’re going to get us both killed!”

“Invitation”? Johnny screams maniacally, “we don’t need no stinking invitation!”

Within seconds, El Oso Roja smashes through the glass doors and into the Jamaicans’ living room. I watch them all jump up at once and quickly vacate the room.

“Come on, Bigotes!” Johnny yells.

He immediately pulls out his 38 special and starts firing off rounds after the fleeing Jamaicans. In all the years I’ve known my lunatic sidekick, I’d never once seen him shoot that antique revolver.

“Bigotes, cover me!”

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you
Mamma mia, does it show again

This bizarre soundtrack accompanies us, still playing on the undemolished stereo, only adding to the already surreal scene.

In the meantime, my own gun has found its way into my hands. I squeeze off a few rounds of suppressing fire as Johnny charges ahead.

Next, I take aim at the stereo and kill the fucker.

“I hate that fucking song!” I scream.

Meanwhile, Johnny is screaming insults in Spanish, demanding the Jamaicans show themselves.

In response, they begin throwing out money and a few gold watches through the door to the other room.

Just to make sure they don’t try anything stupid, I decide to blast the large mirror covering almost the entire back wall. Shards come crashing down on top of Johnny as he’s crawling crablike on the floor, snatching up all the loot.

“Cabron que haces pendejo?”

Scrambling to his feet, he swipes a brass lamp off a table for good measure as he comes running back to El Oso Rojo.

We hop inside and I fire off a few more rounds at a painting of women carrying baskets of fruit on their heads.

“Let’s get the fuck outta here, Rico!”

“Wait, there’s something I want…”

 “Johnny, what’cha doing? Come on, venga!”

Exiting the vehicle, he runs back over to a picture hanging on the far wall. It’s one of those grotesque velvet paintings of some busty woman, Marilyn Monroe or possibly Madonna or someone else. He shoves it in the back seat carelessly, breaking its wooden frame in the process.

“Johnny Rico has left the building!” he screams, grinding the shifter into reverse.

Back out on the street, I observe the neighbors on their porches and watching through their windows. I smile and wave at the gathering of spectators.

“Those are very bad people,” I shout at the assembled crowd. “They molested my cousin when she was only just ten years old!”

At this blatant falsehood, some folks actually start applauding our dirty deed.

“We didn’t see or hear anything!” an old man yells out. “God bless you!”

***

Burning rubber on our way back to my apartment, an idea pops into my head.

“Hey Rico,” I say, “why don’t we grab some beers, put the top down, and watch the sunrise from the beach. Sound like a plan?”

“What did I say earlier?” he replies. “You always know how to make things better, carnal. Always suggesting the perfect solution!”

We reach the beach and sit together in silence, not saying a word.

Johnny lights up and passes me a joint, and I take a giant hit for mankind.

“I love you carnal,” Johnny eventually declares. “You are more than family to me.”

“Ya man, I know, I know.”

“Hey,” he says, suddenly remembering, “I haven’t counted all the plata…”

Plunging his hands into his pockets, he slowly fishes out wad after wad of bills, piling them up on the center console between us.

“Hijo de puta!” he cries. “Look Bigotes, we got a lot back!”

After he finishes counting up the booty, he lets out a hoot that I’m sure could be heard in Bogota.

“There’s over $1,700 here!”

“That’s in Colombian money, Johnny. It converts into what, about $23.68 in gringo plata?”

“No carnal, that is in gringo money after the exchange!” he insists. “Here hermano, take some. You’re always with me when I have no other friend! Here tome, I want you to have this!”

I accept his generous offer, later discovering that he gave me over $750.

“Thanks carnal, much appreciated,” I say, raising my beer to his. “A toast to a friendship to last long after forever.”

We clank our cans to the declaration.

“Hey Bigotes, you can have the lamp too,” Johnny says. “It would look good in your home. I think maybe in your bedroom to replace that ugly lamp with all the flowers. And a watch for you and a watch for me, to remember our aventura en El Oso Rojo.”

“Thanks carnal,” I say. “I’m just relieved we made it out alive, ya lunatic son of a bitch.”

“Son of a bitch? Yeah, I never knew my mother. Mi abuela (grandmother) says she was a bitch though, so maybe you are right.”

“Johnny, I’ve met your mother on several occasions and she’s a very pleasant woman who loves you despite your insanity. So stop with the compulsive lying. This is me, Bigotes, remember?”

I take a closer look at the watch he’s given me, a Louis Moinet, an incredibly expensive timepiece. I strap it on my wrist and stare at its second hand, seconds of my life ticking past.

We stayed until the sun had bled every drop of crimson-colored dawn from the morning. Just two displaced souls in search of a destination that neither knew for certain existed.

Little darling it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling it seems like years since it’s been here
Sun, sun, sun here it comes

Oh, in case you were wondering, the grotesque velvet painting..?

…Madonna!