Winter Mixed with Rainbows

Sometimes we have to fall asleep to wake

and sometimes we have to die to really live

and sometimes we forget what it is like

to fall in love

again

the winter is dark

and nothing waits

with this pain inside

so real

like a creeping sin

where

rain

and arguments

and routines

hide

in the slowly

lowly

times

Until umbrellas

of conversation

or smiles from song

hold off the rain

and

music

brings us

into color

like rainbows

of light

seen

for the first time.

Bus Drivers

A man, bulging from his cargo shorts, sits in the break room sipping his coffee and eating a donut. His eyes are glazed over. The drivers walk in from the rain.

“My daughter is so stupid. God, I wish I’d knocked some sense into her when I had the chance.”

“What’s wrong?”

“The bill for her wedding is already up to 25,000.”

“It’s her special day.”

“Yeah, and she’ll be paying for it for the rest of her life.”

“Marriage is death to men.”

The blonde stops talking… “What did you say? Just because you never got married.”

He takes a bite of his glazed donut and averts his eyes.

The blonde resumes, “this wedding will cost my entire salary. Just wait… she’ll be driving soon. Then she can pay the bill.”

An older man with swagger enters. “Mr. Athletic can drive; did his whole route perfectly, the first time.”

“Routes are easier now. When I started 20 years ago, it took 6 weeks to learn the city. Being a driver used to mean something.”

“It still does.”

“You think you’re better than this job; everybody knows it!”

Mr. Athletic looks at the donuts. “Raspberry, I think.” He leaves with a smile on his face.

“Where was I?” The blonde asks.

“Marriage?”

She glares at the glazed man.

And their story is one of thousands that sound the same.

Crow Face

Neb fed the birds. He looked at the office building. “Just one more week until retirement.” After that, he could spend time with them all day. Their black wings marched back and forth and Neb decided to do the same. He walked inside.

“Management wants to see you.”

Neb didn’t think much of it. Dan was his boss, 10 years younger and a scarecrow of a man.

“Take a seat,” Dan said.

“You called, sir.”

“Neb, we have to let you go.”

“Why?”

“Parachutes. And you don’t have one. This company is in free-fall.”

“But sir, I need my pension.”

“You should’ve put some money aside and not wasted it on the birds.”

Neb left the office and ripped Dan’s picture off the wall. It was the only thing he took. Then he walked across the park and the birds scattered into the air.

Costume Creators was just down the block. Neb entered. He addressed the pierced and tatted cashier.

“Can you people make me a mask?”

“Who you callin ‘you people.'”

“Uh… I just need a mask.”

“That’s an ugly guy. Is it for Halloween or something?”

“Somethin like that.”

“Give me two hours and you can scare anybody with that thing.”

“I’ll wait.”

2 hours later…

Neb put the mask on.

“Ahhhhh. Freaky. I nearly filled my pants, son.”

Neb left the shop and walked across the park. He threw down some bird seed and the crows came. Then he pulled out a plastic baseball bat and started murdering them. Cracked beaks and blood steaked the sidewalk. An environmentalist looked at him in horror, too afraid to say anything.

“Beta male!” Neb jeered.

Birds scattered, flying into the sky. Neb left the park and threw the mask into a nearby dumpster.

5 PM rolled around and the parachutists left the office building for the slow bus-ride home.

Dan walked to the middle of the courtyard and stopped.

“What the…” Crow’s blood and feathers streaked the pavement. He looked up. The sky was nearly black. Beaks dove towards him, pecking his eyes until he saw red. The crows never forget a face.

Midnight Hunt

“Hello, Bob. Yes; what are you up to these days?… You got a hunting license? And you want to see if Charlie can tree a racoon. I’ve seen him do it. Why don’t you come over and we’ll test him out?”

Alan waited on the front porch. He petted Charlie behind the ears. Everything on the property was unkempt; the yard, the hedge, his hair; it had all gone to seed. Bob drove down the driveway and parked. They were best friends until their wives pulled them apart, but now that problem was cured. Bob walked to the porch. His belly looked like he was having a baby. Whatever restrictions his wife had placed on him were lifted.

“I can see you’re busy,” Bob needled.

“Oh, just thinkin. Lots of projects. Been building a cannon,” Alan said.

“Where do you want to go coon huntin?”

“The golf course, where else?”

“You got a scattergun?”

I’ve got the blunderbuss. We’ll chuck it full of rabbit shot.”

Are you sure your wooden leg will hold up to the hunt?”

“I can run marathons on one of these. It’s not made out of wood.” Alan showed him his composite leg.

“You got any moonshine? If I’m pretending to be young again, I don’t want to do it sober.”

“I’ve got some fresh brew out back. We’ve got chicken feet stew on the stove, if you want some.”

Bob chuckled and then started to howl. His yellow teeth clamped open and shut. His long hair grew on the sides of his shiny bald head. His face was that of a restrained reprobate. “How much time do you think we have left?”

“If God kept us alive this long, he must have a sense of humor. Load your gun in the garage. I’ll be there in just a second.”

Darkness fell on the city, as two lanterns moved across the golf course.

“He’s got the scent.” Bob shined his lantern in the direction of the dog. A terrified golfer was trying to ward it off with a golf club.

“Didn’t pay your green fee, huh.”

The golfer looked at Bob and Alan like they were the hunters from hell.

“Wait… there it goes; the coon!” And Bob unloaded his weapon in the dark. The golfer screamed and ran for it.

“Boy, that pansy filled his pants. What a good time. Did you get the racoon?”

“No; I missed ‘im. I guess I’ll have to go shopping on Black Friday. Do you think they sell coonskin caps?”

Sunglasses

“Those are nice sunglasses,” Wade said.

“What?”

“Your sunglasses.”

I pulled them off.

Wade smiled and the pro shop came into focus.

“Ryan wants competition. Why don’t you give it to him?”

I walked outside. He was taking long strokes with his belly putter and drinking beer.

“I’ve been working out; can’t you tell?”

I looked at him. He looked the same.

“Quarter a hole?”

“Pretty rich. You got the money?”

I showed him the bills. 

“Those are nice sunglasses. Can I try them out?

“Sure,” I said.

He putted.

“That’s the wrong hole.”

“I don’t understand it, I was making everything earlier.”

We finished 9 and he paid up.

“Can I have my sunglasses back?”

“I’ll give you 50 for ‘em.”

“Deal,” I said and I took his money.

Ryan lost his luck that evening

and his world grew darker than midnight.

The Naked Truth

Make noise silent

feel the vibrations

see the shapes in people’s faces

jagged triangles

or oval spaces

Whom will you trust

amongst shifting shadows

discernment of sound

speaking peace

with wanton want

for war

anger betrays words

So much seen

without eyes

Spending hours

in the company of real

you will feel

new

each time

Grime

gets washed off

exposing

the naked truth.

Chapter 7 Visit Death, but Don’t Stay Long

Gregson was handcuffed to a beautiful woman by a skeleton from hell. Under the water, the pressure compressed his mind. He cracked a vial between his teeth; not cyanide, but adrenaline. His heart raced like one beat was trying to beat another beat. Gregson clicked his watch and the skeleton faltered. Its arm was outstretched. “To the torpedo roooooom.” It slunk over like a wind puppet without air. Gregson felt bloated and squeezed at the same time. The room was asleep; gas. He uncuffed himself and manned the controls.

He had minutes to warn Voodoo Sands and sink her.

The pressure inside him kept building. It desired a release. His torpedo was cocked—ready to explode inside the pleasure cruise.

He throttled ahead and called in advance.

“Hello, all guests and crew must evacuate. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.”

“Only the captain and the con use this broadcast. Identify yourself!”

“This is Gregson. Identification #: 01134. I’ve been assigned to protect this vessel. Take her beyond the seaboard and abandon ship for pleasure island.” Gregson prepared the forward torpedoes and aimed for her hull.

The skeleton moaned on the floor, but Gregson ignored him. His focus was on Voodoo Sands.

FIRE. Gregson instantly felt weak. He watched the torpedo drawing nearer and nearer. It closed the distance. The explosion cut the air like the big bang, but the ship didn’t go nuclear. It sunk below the water blanket and Gregson manned the con, launching himself towards another sandy beach. Hopefully, there would be a prison cell and endless umbrella drinks.

Epilogue

“Oh, my head,” Tiffany moaned. “What happened?”

“I just prevented the system from going nuclear,” Gregson said.

“The what?”

“She was carrying death and the bomb, but now it’s buried. And death, well… he will have to go away for a while and do time on pleasure island while I go on solving crime.”

“I don’t understand what you mean, but you’re a hero and so much man.”

“Don’t I know it,” Gregson laughed. He put his arm around her and turned the submarine towards the setting sun. He wouldn’t stay on pleasure island, but he would visit from time to time. Death needed company because most people ignored him. Gregson valued death and visited often, if not just to cheat the skeleton one more time.

THE END

The System

When power is questioned, it is recognized. By reacting to power, power is enforced.

A natural and unspoken hierarchy develops—similar to what is observed in the animal kingdom, but a bit more socially sophisticated. People willingly submit to this hierarchy because they depend on it for their survival. In time, they think about themselves in relation to it, especially if they are career oriented and pursue higher education. They become different people at home and at work and this fracturing of their identity fits the needs of the greater system.

Most turn to another system for relief, but the real trick is to beat the system.

-Intellectual Shaman

Flowers without Fragrance

He sits alone

at a perfect table

staring straight ahead

while groups of people

in multicolored clothes

compare stories

He does his time

sheltered by unkept hair

and plain clothes

Colorful things talk

like flowers around him

while his beard

cringes

quietly.

I move through the groups

of sports, social media, and gossip

to the silent man

with missing teeth

who grins.

I speak first. Then he says…

“I have short-term memory loss

and I won’t remember your name.”

“Really?”

I smile

because I can tell him anything.

We talk about life and death and everything in between,

but then it’s time to go

and I walk back through the flowers

without fragrance

Stopped by a beauty

And we talk

I look at my multicolored clothes

“Something smells funny,” she says.

“That would be my fragrance.”

What Life is All About

I’ve been good for far too long

so, I think about being bad

but that doesn’t lead anywhere

My brain tells me “Just do it!”

But those things don’t satisfy

I’m getting thinner

and stronger

but I still see the world

through lack luster eyes.

Why choose pain

when desires

can be had?

We shoulder the burden of less

because the burden of more

is not worth the weight.

It seems like we aren’t gaining anything

by choosing less

and we are right.

Why have less

if you can have more?

Because more is less

but I don’t think

less is more.

It’s something else.

When you figure that out

you know what life

is all about.