King Brian’s Curse

The eyes of the rabbit were wonderous, and terrifying.

Before I knew it, as if by a glimmer of moonlight, he was a little man, preparing to give a sermon.

“You’ll like his speech,” Jessica said excitedly. “He gives it with so much conviction and passion.”

“Brethren, the world is changing, and we are getting left behind. The arrogance of humans is beyond comprehension—especially their women, and men can’t do anything about it, so we must do it for them!”

“Amen!” Echoed several masculine voices.

“The problem is, stupid people get ahold of smart phones, and believe they are intelligent. Do we hide, or do we have a civic responsibility to set them right?”

“But stupid people are dangerous, your majesty.”

“That may be true, but we are a race that has existed since before the dawn of time. Are you suggesting we are no match for their technology?”

“What I’m suggesting, sire, is that we belong to the past, and the future is no longer ours. We are as irrelevant as the dinosaurs.”

“How dare you!” King Brian said. And his golden crown, and his purple robe, and his angry face contorted into energy. Blue lightning shot from his fingers, knocking out the challenger.

“Needless to say, Sean will not be joining us for the midnight hunt. Let him rest up a bit. If any one of you wishes to challenge me, I’ll meet your challenge, bare knuckles, if need be.”

“What about the humans, watching?”

The little king pointed, and his people glared at us, as if the wind had shifted.

“I don’t want any trouble,” I said.

“Then why are you here?”

“Oh, King Brian, I just wanted to show Andy your grace and majesty,” Jessica said. Her statement seemed to disarm him a bit.

“Well, we can’t have spies observing our ceremony.”

“We won’t tell anyone, honest,” Jessica said. And she meant it, and the king knew she meant it.

“Well, come down here, my dear, and I’ll show you some magic.”

I didn’t like how he said that. It sounded like a come-on. But Jessica obeyed. She knew better, than to disappoint him. King Brian grabbed her wrist with his bony fingers, and kissed her hand.

“Oh, my dear, why don’t you and your friend accompany me to my chambers?”

We didn’t dare refuse, but I was feeling really uncomfortable. We walked down a mineshaft into a well-lit room where a golden harp and a throne stood in a brilliant music hall.

“What is your wish?” King Brian asked Jessica.

“To have a family.”

“Granted,” he said.

“And what is your wish, young man?”

“To be successful.”

“Oh, very noble; your wish is granted. Now, I must sound the horn for the midnight hunt. Let me put my hands on both of you.”

He rested his hand on my head, and with his other, he began to touch Jessica, all over, and she responded in ecstasy, and it was so wrong, but it was finished in seconds, and he hopped onto his horse, and blew his horn, and rode into the night.

“I’m feeling strange,” Jessica said.

And I looked at her, and then I looked again. Her innocence and beauty had turned to sensuality. And I couldn’t stop looking at her. She was the girl in high school that the guys talked about endlessly, in the locker room. I tried not to look at her, and we made our way back to her truck, but I was feeling intense heat and passion radiating from her body, and I heard the king laughing in my head. It was maddening.

To be continued…

Following the Rabbits

Jessica had this sweetness about her, a freshness like mint, or peppermint. When she walked, she bounced, and giggled. I was in love. She was exciting too. How many women want to show you something, without acting superior? She wanted to share a secret, but she didn’t hold it against me.

“It’s really close to where you live,” she said.

“Really? Should we take my car?”

“Oh no, let’s take mine.” My eyebrows raised a bit. Jessica walked around the back to a battered pickup truck. “Get in,” she said.

I didn’t feel like I was being told what to do, even though she was giving me orders. I couldn’t stop looking at her. It wasn’t lust—just something I wanted really bad, and I couldn’t believe we were going on an adventure so soon. She drove past the turnoff to my cabin, and the road sloped down the mountain a bit, to a dead end.

“It’s here,” she said. “How are you at hiking?”

“Oh, pretty good.”

“I have bread and jam in the back. Plus, six bottles of my dad’s brewed beer–that should help us attract ’em.

“Them?” I asked.

“Just wait and see. We’ll have to hang around until twilight.”

We picked wild blackberries—the kind without stickers, that grow twice as large as store-bought. They were juicy too. Huckleberry bushes stained her white dress, and turned my jeans purple.

“Are you going to have a family?” Jessica asked.

“I’ve always wanted one, but my life has been unstable, and the people around me, even more unstable—that’s why I came out here.”

“Oh, you’ll find someone,” Jessica laughed. “And I think you should have a family.” She smiled when she said this, like she knew something I didn’t. The yellow sun was changing red as it got low on the horizon. The path we were walking down, showed us a green valley, magical, simply magical.

“Nobody logs down there. It’s a box canyon,” Jessica said. “That’s where they live.”

“They?” I asked.

“You’ll see. Look down at your feet.”

I did. That’s when I noticed little footprints in the sand. There were hundreds.

“We’re getting close,” Jessica said. “We have to find the spot before the sun goes down. Then we’ll have until midnight to enjoy the revelry.”

Up ahead, I heard the trampling of many paws. A rabbit ran between my feet, and joined another in front of me. Two made four and four made eight, and the bunnies were multiplying, until there was a herd hopping down the trail. Jessica put her finger over her lips and motioned that we should slow down a bit. The trail went downhill, until it bottomed out into a clearing. It looked like Stonehenge, but the stones were smaller, and captured the light of the stars and planets so that the night sky became a planetarium, and all the bunnies waited like they were in a movie theater, anticipating the release. Their ears looked like a swaying, excited, field of grass. And the stone at the center was a clock, offering a podium, where a purple rabbit stood in the moonlight. A beam shined across its body, giving it a ghostly glow.

“That’s the king,” Jessica said.

To be continued…

A Mountain Girl Romance

I settled in, found the pipe, some tobacco, and lit-up. The smoke rings changed the atmosphere in the cabin, to a foreboding mystery. I picked up one of the ancient volumes and tried to read it, but it was like I was in Kindergarten again—that helpless feeling when you can’t read reoccurring three-letter words in the English language. So, I decided to drive down the mountain in my Jeep Wrangler to visit the general store. The drop-off nearly made me wet my pants.

The little store was one of those family-owned mini-marts. When I went in, a little bell jingled. A beautiful woman walked out from behind the bread. She wore a white dress that went down to her ankles with a blue top. Her blonde hair, brown eyes, and perfect skin gave her a wholesome look.

“Can I help you?” She asked.

“Yes, well, maybe, no. I’m new here, and just trying to acquaint myself with my surroundings.”

“Oh, I understand,” she said. My name’s Jessica.”

“Nice to meet you, Jessica. My name’s Andy.”

“You’re not very old,” she said. What do you do?”

“Well, I fancy myself to be a poet, so, I’m living off my savings until I go broke.”

“That doesn’t sound like much of a plan,” she said.

“Well, I’ve had a plan my whole life, but it hasn’t made me happy, so I’ve decided to stop planning and start living.”

“Would you like me to show you around?”

“I’d like that. Is there much to see?”

“You have no idea. Most of the people here, got old. The ones who are still alive are like you—poets and prospectors, selling gold to people on the road, so they don’t have to transact business in the usual way. Jacob—that’s the man you bought the cabin from, had a curious obsession with wisdom. You know those strange men, who call themselves philosophers, and say ‘I am so wise.’ They’re mostly drunks and fools, but occasionally you listen to one who might be the real deal, and Jacob was. He was a nice man, a religious man who couldn’t find the answers in his religion, so he looked elsewhere. He wandered lonely paths he cut for himself, and began to write his own books. His family was worried, but he got younger up here. Perhaps, the air we breathe changes us, just like the foods we eat, and the books we consume.”

“I hear that. What are you doing here?”

“I want to find a good man, have a big family, and spend my life loving the people closest to me.”

“You sound like no woman I ever met.”

“What does a woman sound like?”

“I can’t make the sound—kinda like grating nails on chalkboard. It takes years of Marxist education and feminist indoctrination to make the sound, and by their mid-thirties, women want to get married, but they don’t want to be wives—they don’t know how. A husband is like a golden trophy they hide in the corner of their house.”

“That sounds awful.”

“It is. The worst horrors are the most common.”

“I guess the mountains have protected me from that. Would you like to know a secret?”

“Sure, I would!” I said.

“Well, I can’t tell you. I have to show you.”

To be continued…

Ascension, the Uncontrollable Ride

the decadent man harms himself

releasing his life-blood

like a Lambo, self-inducing, puking, oil

the race-track goes in circles

the other cars, do the weekend thing

and the bat-out-of-hell can’t shift into second

there is nothing, more thrilling, than when the driver decides

to change his engine

and leave behind broken parts

to go one speed

Go!

All foolishness, falls behind

like clowns, who must entertain themselves

and there is no check, in his reality

no checkered flag

only the indomitable ride

that reaches into his mental space, and won’t back down.

If you’ve ever had a good day, where everything went right

try being in a race-car, that won’t slow down

it doesn’t chill, it doesn’t second-guess itself

with overwhelming speed

its parts, are coming apart

the driver can’t go the pace of traffic, anymore

it’s too late

he went this speed, once, and it scared him

Obsession

is an inner world, of tightly held authentic feelings

and when expressed, they are never understood

“Why does he have to go so fast?”

“We’re all headed to the same place.”

But that’s not true.

You’ve gotten used to the speed limit,

from time to time

you go over

to feel something,

to break the rules

but the man who goes fast, is not stepping outside the law

he is making his own, without limits.

How is it, that a volcano can rest for millennia

and erupt, like 100,000 nuclear bombs?

What triggered, its chain reaction?

Was it one more unbearable slow conversation?

Was it perfection, without passion?

Was it the passage of time, without discovering a passage?

Going fast, will destroy you

but it is unlike slow self-destruction

that causes one to stop and say, “What’s the point?”

Going fast, suggests, there is no point

but speed is what we need

a blur, a conquest, looking back, at the pack

that doesn’t stand a chance.

I always thought I would make another run at it

when I was wise

but the old man doesn’t have the energy of being young

it’s too late to think his way to victory.

Magic, a hope, a belief, in something

that can’t be seen

the rooftops of skyscrapers

his engine, that wants the heights of performance

beyond

the greatest high, if you’ve ever been there

there aren’t many chances

less than two eruptions

in 10,000 years

so, ride the drive

like a bat-out-of-hell

if you got it.

I Buy a Mysterious Cabin

I finally achieved what I had long searched for deep in the mountains. Scrabbling together my savings, and buying a cabin from a family of an old-timer who had ceased to be old because he was now dead, I took up residence in his two-room cabin, with a loft, and bathroom because he could no longer make the trek to the outhouse. His family seemed glad to be rid of it, and in this bull market, they didn’t ask a penny over the asking price. Nobody had bid on it. I was somewhat taken-a-back that nobody else wanted it, but I guess it’s not near the schools, the parks, the churches, or the entertainments of civilized society, so I can’t blame the average person for not making an offer. Mountains are for visionaries who see majesty in rock, and not in shopping malls. There is a general store down the road, where I can get the necessary supplies.

When I signed off with the realtor, she smiled when she took my signature. I felt violated. There is something wrong with her Acura SUV, short-cropped hair, and high-water pants stretched to the seams. It isn’t that she is greedy, but she isn’t good. The condition affects creditors, loan sharks, time-share salespeople, and realtors. If someone is getting screwed in a business, you can bet the business is bad, and the people attracted to it are even worse. She is just the type who would have her friends over for sugarless cookies, tea, and gossip, which always turns into a financial bragging contest—indirectly, based on their husbands’ salaries. Wisely, their husbands avoid these parties like the plague.

The owner—the son, looked responsible, decent, honest, and nearing retirement, but the cabin couldn’t be his because he had a wife, kids, and 15 potential grandkids. I think he was Catholic based on his conservative dress, churchy suit, and hair-style five years out of date.

We did our business right there in the gravel driveway, and I guess I can’t complain too much. It was terribly efficient. I had a house, totally secluded on 20 acres of my own land, and the rest belongs to the government. Nobody has logged up here in nearly 50 years. The old road, is dangerous to go down, if you don’t have a low gear, and if you have a drinking problem. I have both, so I hope that the danger of sudden death will cure me of my borderline alcoholism.

When I was left alone, I walked inside. It was just how the old man had left it. It still smells of leather, and coffee. There is a feint scent of sweet pipe tobacco. He had an extensive library. Many of the volumes are in a language I can’t identify. It looks like Gaelic, but I don’t think so. The leather-bound books are not published by publishing houses. They were handwritten, and I wonder if the old man did it himself. The books I can read are on the subjects of magic and philosophy. Most of them are nearly 200 years old.

To be continued…

Girls at the Gym

the girls at the gym have their noses in the air

their spandex is tighter than I remember

their loneliness, is obvious

it’s been over 8 years

since I set foot, in a gym

it’s all coming back

the chlorine smell

sweat

weights, hitting the rubber floor

old men, talking about golf

the 55-year-old who says he has cancer

hoping, being near to death will endear him to the 30-year-old

with muscles rippling down her back

“You look good,” he says.

“Thank you,” she smiles. It’s a smile that suggests, you could be my dad

and he wanders off to talk to another pretty thing

I don’t think he has cancer

he’s far too healthy, and men like him survive by their wits, passed old age

8 years have passed, since I’ve been in the gym

and I walk between the machines

my eyes could cut metal

I rarely look into the mirror

but there are mirrors, everywhere

and I can’t help myself

Where did I get this intensity, this stare

this sad hunger?

Even among bodybuilders

I stand taller

than I used to

the gym is a place of measurement

athletes measure their strength

professionals measure their fat

guys with expensive watches compare their wealth

while I think about my own genius

the high from drugs is similar to genius

I haven’t felt this way for a long time

I haven’t spoken to anyone in three days

I haven’t wanted to

you can only get this feeling without feedback

nobody recognizes genius, until it’s officially “genius”

and by then, it’s too late

it’s like the man with a morphine drip

entertained by white walls

instead of walls, I’ve been walking

reading Schopenhauer— old books that haven’t been read since 1971

it’s a fantasy, a place I can’t get to very often

the prettiest girls frown

their beauty hasn’t made them happy

all the young guys look at them

with dreams, but it’s a nightmare

nothing has changed

nobody says a word to them

they’ve been used

by stronger men

When I finish my workout

I get into my truck

and watch her through the window

staring at me

She never used to do this

my stare is light-blue electric fire

her stare, is black holes, vacant and angry

I have done well to avoid beauty

it can kill you faster than

refined cyanide

refined, by abuse

this stare of drug-induced purpose

has been flowing through me for years

acting like an opiate

against condescension

When they get to be 50

there is no light in the universe

and the sun could have shined

but it burns in blackness

in bitterness

and hate

Grand women who were never mothers

offer encouragement to male students

and it feels insincere

their compliments are cruel

Genius is a belief that you know better,

the first step

on a journey

that feels right.

Confronting Myself

Drugs can ruin you, like a castle visited by lost tourists, and yet, when you come out of the horror fog into the regular world, it’s a new kind of horror. -Intellectual Shaman

My mind was clearing, or so I thought. It was a fall day—magical. As the years progress, I get stiffer, harder, less pliable. All the searching for who I am gets set in stone, like an immovable sword. I love my destiny, but strangeness gives me second chances.

I’m lying in my bed, looking at the bathroom door. The mirror shows me a face that looks like mine, but it’s different. I rush into the bathroom to confront the stranger, but he’s gone. I go out, onto the street, and buy an apple. It’s a Honeycrisp, full of nectar that will last me half the day.

The weekly crowd reminds me of ants, and I’m a yellow butterfly among the red heads and black bodies. They make a low shrieking sound, brought on by their work. In traffic, there’s a guy following me—he’s tailgating, honking his horn. If I was working, the rage would’ve already overtaken my mild constitution. I let him freak-out on the road. Strangely, he looks like me, but he’s definitely not going where I’m going. I’m headed to my favorite bookstore, in the middle of the work week, when nobody is there. Professionals don’t know that the best thing about not working is being places that are normally crowded.

I go to the philosophy section and start reading. Two minutes later, the bell rings, and a fatter version of myself gets in my face.

“You are supposed to be at work.”

“You’re not my boss.”

“You need a boss—otherwise you’ll get arrogant.”

“Too late—now, leave me alone.”

He speaks like he knows me, but he doesn’t. The old self is frustrated, angry, playing by someone else’s rules, and trying to fit in. The new self has no future. He goes to places, existing in limbo—it’s better than heaven or hell.

The horror castle is a prime piece of real estate for professionals with a 30-year plan.

The End

On the Importance of Being Disliked

I have a friend who bemoans that he isn’t loved. It’s a common problem. And the typical advice, from an all-knowing, all-loved person is, “You have to love other people to get love. Be nicer. Smile. Show yourself to be a friendly person.” But if you do this, the most undesirable, unattractive people are drawn to you.

My friend complained, “Why do I always draw dysfunctional people like water from a well or blank paper.” Actually, those metaphors are my own, but you get the picture. The patronizing advice-giver says, “Like attracts like.” Now, my friend is more depressed.

We are usually aware that people like us or dislike us.

My boss told me, “Being liked isn’t enough.” And she’s right. Apparently, I was trying to be liked so I could be successful—but more likely, she thought I was insecure. So, I worked on myself. Let’s call it professional development. Pretty soon my co-workers were calling me an asshole, and something strange happened—I didn’t care. It didn’t affect how I felt about myself. I knew I had crossed a great divide, into the realm of sociopath (not psychopath, because sociopaths are created by society, hence, socio–psychopaths are born), but, at the same time, I was doing good things for people. I was giving money to the homeless, and I really cared. I saw myself as an outcast. I thought less of myself and more about others. My friends knew I had grown bigger balls, but when I checked, they were still the same size. People respected me, and hated me more.

I quickly became a man who didn’t need a defense, and the attacks multiplied. People are usually nice because they’re afraid of getting attacked. I was ostracized and left in peace. I got a lot more work done, and I was able to think. Nobody talked to me, but everyone talked about me. I had developed a bad reputation, or let’s just say, someone had developed it for me. You could call it a social suicide, but at no other time in my life did I feel more alive.

Flaming Bags of Leprechaun Poop

I go for these walks in Maple Valley, late into the evenings before the sky is black. People bag their dog-poop in green little bags, and leave them by the side of the trail—the bags preserve it, kinda like the frozen bodies at the top of Mount Everest, although, it’s as hot as hell, here in Maple Valley. Now there are dozens of little bags by the trail. I counted 42.

I’m waiting for the parks department to pick up the poop, but they never do. It must be beneath them—a shit detail, so to speak.

On a smokey evening when the sun is burning red, I walk the trail. There’s an Indian couple, with the man dressed in a suit and his wife in a Sari. There’s the retired man with white hair who has eyes that are sunken-in and looks like he’s possessed by the devil. He waves at me every day. I hope we’re not kindred spirits.

All the people that walk the trail live in suburban homes, and own small dogs. Little dogs poop the most. They have tiny metabolisms, like the energizer bunny.

As I get deeper into the woods, there’s a flaming bag of poop. There are dozens on fire, on the driest day of the year, and I don’t want my community to burn-down because of idiots, so I stomp it out, and the smell makes me gag, but after three or four, it’s fun.

After 20, I’m feeling like I stepped in a lot of shit. Hopefully it’s enough to last a lifetime. The trail follows the lake, and I can see that new bags are catching fire on the other side. Laughing skips across the water like a stone.

“Teenagers—they must’ve escalated their delinquency due to online learning.” Teachers think kids are bad in school, but the environment is almost entirely responsible for their behavior, or at least according to some social psychologists. If kids get bored, they start lighting bags of shit on fire.

It occurs to me that I can talk to them, and explain the danger of setting fires in a tinder box near hundreds of million-dollar homes, but they probably would just laugh at me. Who cares about a life sentence when you already feel like you’re in prison? No, it’s up to me to save my community, by stepping in it, so to speak. Most of the turds are as small as a squirrel’s, but the occasional Doberman makes me think twice about going on.

There are only a few left, when I notice one of the bags is burning a different color. It’s changing colors like the rainbow.

Maybe, one of the dogs ate some chemicals, I thought. I was wearing shoes, so I gave it a good stomp. The feeling was satisfying. A warm sensation, different from the heat of the night, travelling up my legs like a snake. When I stepped out of the poop, I noticed my shoes were sparkling.

“Some new vitamin dog food,” I thought out-loud. I stomped out the remaining bags and went home. My apartment manager was walking her pug near the dog park. He pooped, and she scooped it up in a bag, tied it, and left it! What’s wrong with these people? Dogs must get an enormous ego trip when humans pick-up their shit.

The manager is a Hispanic woman who dresses in fashion, and wears extended fingernails. High maintenance is the word. She has a sour look on her face when she passes by me—she is exposed to chemicals all day—they help her look beautiful, but beauty, painted on, looks stretched. Lipstick on a dog, is still lipstick on a dog.

I was too tired to wash my shoes, and when I woke the next morning, I smelled it—the stench of 41 dogs and the sweet smell of something else—maybe it was the rainbow shit I stepped in. I had this impulse to gamble, and I’m not a gambling man. I wore my shitty shoes to the track. My feet took me to the 20 to 1 horse. And Silver Bullet won. I went to the Lucky Casino, and they almost kicked me out because of my smell, but when they saw I was carrying a sports bag full of money, they made an exception.

“Hit me!” I said. After seven wins, I quit, and the dealer looked like he wanted to hit me with a black jack— that’s a tire iron for those of you who don’t know. I knew at least 12 cameras were watching me, looking for my partner who had helped me cheat, but I was alone, probably because of the smell of shit—no hookers came around. Worried that my magic or whatever it was would rub off, I walked the trail every evening, looking for fresh bags of flaming poop, but the teenagers weren’t burning bags anymore.

Under a Holly bush, I heard some grunting. It sounded like a constipated dwarf who was trying to squeeze a loaf.

“Ugh.. Ugh…”

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“No, I’m not,” came the reply. “I’ve been constipated for a week.”

That was right around the time I stomped out the burning bags of shit.

“Can I get you something?” I asked.

“Yeah. I’m tired of using Holly branches to wipe, and there is nothing worse than an upset stomach. Would you get me some X-Lax and two-ply toilet paper?”

“Sure, I will.”

I was doing good deeds for the homeless. I gave money to the musicians in the Safeway parking lot. They knew me now, and always held out their hands. I believe what is given, comes back 10-fold. It’s a strange belief, cooked up by gypsies who live on luck.

When I got back, he was still grunting. A green hand with yellow fingernails reached out from the bush. The fingernails had dirt on them, or something else. It was his left hand.

“What are you?” I asked.

“I’m a leprechaun. Now, be a good man and grab me one of those poop disposable bags.”

I did as I was told.

“Since you have helped me, I will give you a bag of my shit. The magic will last, as long as my intestinal juices don’t evaporate—usually, it takes about a week. I’ve been having stomach problems for a while, so if you will run to the grocery store, every so often, when you see me on the trail, I’ll give you, my poop.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Are you sure you don’t want to take-up residence in my apartment?”

“No, I prefer nature, and being alone. Plus, with the luck you’ll be having, you won’t need me for very long.”

And he was right. I took home the bag of poop and put it in a temperature-controlled terrarium. On the weekends, I go to the race track, I pick up women, I do all the things that defy the odds. It’s like I can make time stand still, even though suckers are bound by other laws. I change when I want to change. Possessing magic is addicting, and nobody wants mine, because it smells so bad. I don’t have to worry about someone stealing it. The only danger is when other dogs, like the one belonging to my apartment manager, get a whiff. It’s like crack! They lick my shoes, and become lucky too. When that happens, one could say, this world has gone to the dogs.

The End

Some say it’s impossible…

Some say it’s impossible

to explore every land, to sail into tropical and ice-filled waters

to fly above countries, in a hot air balloon

to violate laws, with impunity.

In the early hours, between 3 and 6 AM

I wake, before the garbage man, and the noises of the outside world

are like an alarm clock, at regular times.

I’m between half-sleeping and half-waking

Most people give up and drink coffee

I lie in bed, listening to my imagination, to short-stories of Hemingway

that were too boring to listen to, when fully awake.

In the tired state

my will succumbs to a short story

making me patient, to learn, what can only be understood

when I can’t sleep.

The day is 70 degrees

the blue lake is bluer than the blue sky

the girls giggle in bright-colored bikinis

while I listen to my friend

worrying

about his relationship.

I watch the girls

tanning.

I want to explore this world

and not myself.

I’m so tired of the inner dialogue.

I want to store-up

memories

so I’ll have them, when I can’t sleep

in my wheel-chair

in the gray and silver nursing home.

I’ll be the man who does the jumble

with a satisfied smile

searching for words

to unscramble

his mixed-up life

before enjoying

scrambled eggs

in the morning.