None of it Made Sense

Something about her had changed. When she answered him, her words seemed a bit too forced, a bit too measured, but it was so subtle—he had to ask himself if he was paranoid. Something wasn’t quite right about her. It was like being married to an actress who didn’t like her part, and no matter what she said—he wondered about the internal dialogue in her head—the words she wasn’t saying to him. Tension was building in their conversations, with no obvious reason. When she suggested something, it didn’t seem sincere, and it was always over trivial statements like, “You should go to the store.” Or, “What time do you want to have dinner?” Harry thought he was going crazy. He had been married to Mari for five years. She worked in special education, so she always had this moral authority that she threw around whenever she wanted to feel better about herself. She would quote a statistic about students with autism not graduating at the same rate as their peers, and Harry was supposed to feel a certain way, but he never felt that way. With her, he wished they could have an open conversation, but she always played guerilla games, so that she maintained the upper hand, by not saying what she meant. It was a psychological drain to talk to her because of what wasn’t being said, and Harry wondered about that, all the time. She had invaded the most private parts of him by keeping to herself. How was that possible?

Late at night, the light on her cell-phone blinked. It blinked again. Those were not innocent lights, Harry thought. For him to pack and leave, would be irrational—that’s what he wanted to do. He wanted to start over. He wanted to get his sanity back, but, he had to know—was he crazy or was he just being paranoid?

“I’m going to work this evening,” Mari said. “There’s a board meeting, and we need to decide what to do about a sidewalk that’s not safe.”

It sounded plausible on the surface, Harry thought, but he knew it wasn’t. His instinct told him that.

“Don’t stay out too late, Honey,” Harry said.

“Don’t wait-up for me. I might be in, really late.”

She left, and Harry checked his cell-phone. He had set it up to track her. Harry was a plumber, and Mari thought him ignorant of technology because he used a pre-paid phone to be frugal. Five minutes after she left, Harry followed her in his truck. She went to the board meeting. After an hour, she walked out with a man. He was shorter than she was and looked like a teacher. Harry knew the guy, but it was hard to place where he had met him. Then it clicked. He was the district superintendent, and Harry had met him on his boat four years ago. Was that where they were headed? To the Lake House? Harry followed them. He didn’t feel much of anything. He wasn’t angry. He just wanted to see what was going to happen next.

Lake Sawyer was quiet. Mari’s Prius moved through the gate as silent as the wind, and Harry had to turn-off his lights and stop. The upstairs window became bright, and his half-naked wife filled the scene. That did it. Harry felt something, inarticulate, in his body. He walked towards the house, and knocked.

BANG…BANG

He got back into his truck, and drove home.

The trap, had been set, from the very beginning. It wasn’t jealousy, but a sense of duty—emotions welling-up from within, that Harry couldn’t name. It was good to know the truth, even if the truth had caused him to murder. None of it made sense.

THE END

This World is a Fucked-Up Place and You Don’t Have to Be

the diesel mechanic brought machines back to life for a living

Now, he was dying

all of his philosophies were designed to protect

what he loved, from the world

Now, he was leaving it

with peace

with no grease on his face

with no hate in his heart

with no possessions to hold onto

In life, he held onto a few good things, like tools

and tried to work with people

the way he worked on machines

It can be frustrating, when a human being says “no”

when life is unfair

Maybe, it makes sense to retreat—to work on machines

they don’t plot and scheme

and if you’ve worked on them, long enough, their problems are predictable

Making yourself a sacrifice, won’t win you favor

and if you are trying to win favor, you are a slave

Bitterness, will poison you

It’s best to love because you can

Give, and not expect anything back

If you receive from someone, it’s a joy—

life saying, “Come out into the sunshine.”

It’s easy to feel like you are dying alone

but it’s not true

In life, you face merciless hate

you face love with open eyes

whatever you face…

you can smile, instead of cry

this world is a fucked-up place

and you don’t have to be

Keep your eyes open, as long as you can

and close them, when you are ready.

Would you like to get married? She asked.

It was a sad spring day, after my mother’s passing. The rain dropped into the sun, like tears, that quickly evaporated on my father’s face. I was nearly at mid-life, and he was at the end of life. I had no family and no prospects. I didn’t know how he would react to her loss. He was relatively stable, but relative, is a relative word. All of my relatives, were relative—they came and went, and didn’t stay very long. My mother was the glue that held our family together, and now my dad was left on his own. He was an engineer who liked to build things in his back garage—he also liked to drink.

“Dad, you shouldn’t operate power tools under the influence.”

“Under the influence of what, son?”

At least he went to church, where he could confess his sins in secret. If he stopped doing that, anything could happen, but I noticed, he was having difficulty getting ready to go in the mornings. He would sit in his chair, and clench his legs with his hands, and get up, and sit back down again.

“Not yet. Not yet,” he said. “Vick Beaty will be there, and he’ll want to talk to me about space aliens. No, I need to slip in at exactly the right moment! Okay,” and then he would go. Each week it became more difficult for him to get out of his chair. His work in the shop stopped.

“Dad, what have you been up to this week?”

“Oh, I watched a World War II documentary, and some episodes of the Twilight Zone.”

“Did you get out and talk to anybody?”

“I talked to the dog. She’s a bitch.” He smiled and scratched Belle behind the ears. “When are you going to get a wife, son?”

“Oh, I have plenty of time.”

“You’re almost 40. Why don’t you do something about that. You’re the last of us left.”

“It’s just that I’m not willing to change.”

“God—you are my son. I was headed to long-term bachelorhood when your mother called. She seemed to think, no other guy would go out with her—besides me. I couldn’t let her go alone. So, we went to the city theater, and watched a man in a leprechaun costume make a fool out of himself. I got semi-drunk, so I could deal with it, and then she told me, she wouldn’t tolerate drinking. I stopped for a while. She was a good one. What if I found a woman for you?”

“Finding a woman is easy, dad. It’s finding one that you can live with, that’s the hard part.”

“Well, I’ll do my research, and I’ll hook you up. There is no better place to find one, than in church.”

Normally, I would’ve protested, but I could see it was giving him a sense of purpose. Rather than going to the same church he had been going to for over 40 years, he started church hopping. Soon, he was telling me stories of pretty girls, and how he interviewed them, to see who they were about. He completely lost his anxiety, and was thrown-out of one congregation for asking her if she was a virgin. Apparently, they thought he was a dirty-old-man.

“It’s not for me! She’s for my son!” He yelled. But it didn’t make any difference. They were doing God’s work by getting rid of a man whose last dating experience was the 1970s.

“It’s slim-pickings out there, boy,” my dad said. There’s a lot of sexual girls out there, but not a lot of pretty ones on the inside. I’m sure, if it comes to that, I can get you a baby-momma, but a long-term wife?—even I have my doubts. My goal is to arrange a date for you, each week, and if inside of a year, I can’t find one—no hard feelings. The world has changed, and it’s best to get on with it, rather than moaning about not being able to pass-on your seed. I’m going to bed.” He fell asleep on the couch with a bottle in one hand and a picture of my mother in the other.

I almost wanted to get married, just to make him happy—but he was happy enough, trying to find me a wife. It was exciting for him, and I could tell the challenge of modern times, threw a wrench in his perfect schedule of wife-hunting, which only made the game more interesting.

During the day, my dad was spending more time on the internet. He had discovered online dating, and was trying to go to young adult groups, which was really difficult for him to pull-off. He was dressing in t-shirts and shorts, trying to act cool. I even saw him looking into a mirror, holding a razor, and seriously contemplating, shaving off his mustache of 40 years. A force prevented him from doing it. His arm was shaking.

“Son, I found a winner. She’s born again, and has great skin! I think you’ll like her.”

When I met-up with her for a coffee date, she had short black hair. She was a believer, but all she did was talk about Satan, and sexual sin. Coffee drinkers were staring at us. I was weird enough on my own.

“It’s not going to work, dad. You just don’t have a knack for hooking-up young guys with potential wives.”

“I used one of those marriage services once. It worked for my friends. I wonder what I’m doing wrong?”

I looked at him. He was wearing himself ragged, trying to become a grandfather. His jeans and Cabela’s shirt, were wrinkled. He wasn’t sleeping well. When a man gets frustrated pursuing a goal, he will shrug it off to sour grapes or drink wine. My dad started drinking wine. That evening, we watched a documentary about the disproportionate population in China. Men out-number women, three-to-one because of male preference and the corresponding privileges in their culture. Many of the men were tech savvy and trying to build themselves robotic wives. I could see my dad’s brain working. The only problem was, how could a robot make a grandchild? There were test-tube babies, and the local university would allow senior citizens to audit courses for free, so my dad started taking classes in robotics and biology, and started working around the clock in his back garage. A couple years went by. He was visiting the city morgue, on humanitarian missions for accident victims. He had joined all of these charities—like, Help her see again. New eyes for a new life. “Don’t make people stare—give her new eyes.” My dad tried to keep his activities private. On my 40th birthday, he decided to throw me a party. He showed-up with his new girlfriend who was half his age.

“Found her in church, son. After the ice cream, I’ll have you unwrap your gift.”

There was someone sitting at the far-end of the table who I didn’t know. She was beautiful, with milky-white skin, electric blue eyes, and a neck that had difficulty turning. She was most articulate, discussing topics of French literature. She could speak French.

“I’d like you to meet your new girlfriend,” my dad said. He was pointing at the lady at the far-end of the table. All of my relatives held their breath—they thought he had made a social blunder or was insane.

“It’s so good to meet you. Would you like to get married?” She asked.

THE END

My Gym Guru

I saw things, I couldn’t unsee—I learned things, I couldn’t unknow—I realized, knowing, isn’t enough. One can know the atomic bomb is coming, and not be able to run from it. One can live with a disagreeable woman, and if she has you by the balls—you will forget they are attached. There are uncomfortable truths. Some women are grinders, and they will grind you down to nothing, especially, when you apply force. You can’t win, and the helpless feeling you get when you don’t fight, has broken many men, because they seem to have no place, no tools, to deal with these new kinds of problems.

I needed a place to go. A safe place to share my feelings. No psychologist, counselor, or therapist would accept what I said. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Toxic Masculinity is something to be solved. I met all their criteria, but I didn’t believe society. When an insane man realizes the rest of the world is crazy, and they want to do a lobotomy, or shock the bad emotions out of his skull, he decides to disagree, to hold onto his dignity.

It was a hole in the wall—so disgusting, so unsanitary, no woman would ever set foot within. It’s the same concept of the male and female restroom. Women don’t go into the Men’s. Men must enjoy what society rejects. I needed that kind of a man to talk to, and I found him—he was the owner of Rat’s Gym. He had long hair—the kind, as tough as bailing wire.

“Do you want a membership?” He asked. I glanced at the equipment—it looked like it had been salvaged from San Quentin.

“How much?”

“What can you pay?”

“15 a month?”

“Cash. You have yourself a membership…Mr…?”

“Jackson.”

“My name is Samson. You look a bit weak.”

“That’s because I work with women, I think.”

“Could be. Research says your peer group adjusts the level of testosterone in your body. That’s why men in prison are savage, and that’s why you feel like a woman.”

“Is that so?”

“Well, it’s a theory that seems to be true. There is no absolute truth—just a gut instinct.”

“Can you create a workout plan for me, that will restore my manhood?”

“That’s part of it, but you need other things as well.”

“Like what?”

“My Protein Shakes, and My library.”

“Books?”

“Listen, you are a casualty of war. Netflix is filling your mind with the feminine male—the male, who agrees with her because she’s always right. You need to read Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Why don’t you start reading, and I’ll make you a shake?”

I sat in his rat-infested leather armchair, and cracked Schopenhauer’s On Women. Suddenly, they made sense to me.

“Hey, this is pretty good!”

“I told you so! Keep reading!” The shake smelled funny. “What’s in this?” I asked.

“It will put hair on your chest.”

I drank, and instantly felt better.

“Let’s do some bench presses,” the guru said. He started to put-on 45s.

“Hey, that’s 4 on each side. How old are you? You can’t possibly be that strong!”

“Just spot me, will you?”

“Okay.” I wasn’t even sure I could save him, but he didn’t need help. He pumped the weight like it wasn’t even there.

“10.”

“You just did 10 reps of 405 pounds!?”

“It’s only a number. Mind over Matter. Why don’t you try?”

I got down, and started. I was stronger than I had ever been before.

 “When you come in tomorrow, we’ll work on your biceps.”

“Okay,” I said.

“Just one more thing…”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t cut your hair.”

Survival, on a Cloudy Day

Not much is good

Not much is bad

Being plugged into passion is a distant possibility

My love is solar-powered, on cloudy days

a black cloud drifts in front of the sun

a complaint, here

a need to do, there

If I could charm the world with my creativity

I would

Most of the world is trying to be pleasant

like a cloudy day

but there is no passion

no warmth

no electricity

I want to feel the wind

I want to make the weather

I want to care about something

If you invent the storm

and bask in the sun

life, is in color

Ferrari Red

and Sunfire Yellow

Lime-Green Grass

and a Flash

of Genius

We are not born to survive

We are born to live.

3 Poems about middle school

1.

My understanding of women

began in middle school

that’s when I got interested

that’s when things changed

I started to notice their jeans

slipping down

ever so slightly

their pink underwear

showing

at the edges of heaven.

All of my teachers thought I was cute

a naughty boy

who wanted to be good

My English Teacher

who was missing her middle-finger

(because she slammed it in a door

when she drove truck)

liked to read her science-fiction stories

to the class

and her students laughed at her

Then she sent them outside

and they started smiling

and she sent them out again

It was just me, and the bus driver’s daughter

We were the best students in school

and Mrs. Brunette walked next to me and said, “Andy—you’re trying to do well, but I can see that you’re about to smile.”

but I stayed in class, anyway

and I sucked that smile in, like it was the joy of the world

and I argued with her, for my 105%.

I think it made her smile inside

I have always been the “good” little boy

who wanted to do right.

2.

“Coach, which is right field?” I asked.

Anybody could hear the desperation in my voice.

I played sports because my sister played them.

She taught them to me. “Andy—don’t be afraid of the ball.”

I always felt anxious—in front of people. Then someone would hit a pop-fly, and I would make a miraculous catch.

I had the miracle glove that year, and my coach told me—”You’re almost an MVP.”

“Andy wants to play pitcher,” my friend said.

Coach, shook his head. He knew I would crack under pressure.

Even the smallest amount of stress, like knowing where to go and what to do, made me anxious.

Not much has changed.

I was the MVP of my middle school basketball team. Then I graduated to varsity, and my coach was a tall black man. He could tell, I couldn’t take the pressure.

Good coaches have an instinct.

We got to the championship game, and one of our best players forgot his jersey. “Here—take mine,” I said.

“Now, that’s a teammate,” my coach suggested, but he didn’t realize I was a coward—or, maybe he did.

I thankfully sat on the sidelines—totally relaxed, and watched the game—right where I wanted to be. We lost, and I didn’t feel bad.

I won the Cougar Award that season, for sportsman-like-conduct—the most coveted trophy, but I was a coward, and the whole team voted me in.

I never lost at anything in middle school.

Sometimes, losers win—

but you always know who you are

and that’s more important than trophies.

3.

I was “smart” in middle school

it was a time of great beginnings

Mrs. Chastagner started a chess tournament

and later, I found out we had the same birthday

She was one of the school secretaries

and she liked me

Her son played on the basketball team, and he was the leader

Funny—your reputation develops—not by being close to popular students

but by being your own person

and doing your own thing

I have never done anything else.

So, when I signed up for the chess tournament

I did it, because I liked chess, and I liked to win

Most of all—I liked to think

At basketball practice, Evan’s mom walked over to me

“He’s worried about you—he thinks you’ll win.”

I was a quiet kid, and I won.

The stakes got higher. I was playing with an eighth grader who had pimples, wore the same clothes every day, and ate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for lunch. Occasionally, he had nachos. I watched him shove the chocolate and cheese sauce into his mouth.

Then, I won.

The last kid I played, all four semesters in middle school, became my mortal enemy, because, I beat him, every game, and took the championships.

In 9th grade, he told me that he was going to beat me at everything

He lost.

I became a winner, in middle school

7th and 8th grade were the most important years

I have always been playing chess

in life.

Chapter 7 Gregson and Steve Race to Her Bottom

“Hey, Gregson! You’ll need to debrief with the police,” the ski patrol said.

“I know the drill. It’s uncomfortable and smells like I’m being put to sleep.”

“There’s a detective from Maple Valley on the slopes. He said that he would do it.”

“Okay. I’ll meet him at the lodge. Somebody will have to tape-off the crime scene.”

When Gregson walked inside, he saw Detective Talbert hunched across the espresso bar.

“It’s you.”

“Can’t stay away from crime, I see,” said Detective Talbert. He was looking at Gregson’s red and white snowsuit. “Whoever was murdered up there had a lot of guts.”

“How long is this going to take?” Gregson asked.

“Just long enough for you to incriminate yourself. Now, why were you skiing on the slopes? You are obviously too fat to be up here.”

“People in glass houses…” Gregson said.

“You have me there. I have put on some weight since the murders in Maple Valley, but that’s beside the point. What was your purpose of skiing on Abominable Mountain?”

“I wanted to commit abominable acts with women.”

“I see… a deviant… I thought so. You have remained unmarried for far too long. If a man is left to himself, he becomes strange. Slowly, he walks away from society until he can never get back. Take me, for instance. My wife rescued me, and gave me a purpose. I make more money as a married man, and on the weekends, I trim the lawn.”

“I thought you weren’t a deviant. Whose lawn do you trim?”

“I’m going to pretend that I don’t understand you. Now, how did you come across the body?”

“I was following a sexy woman, and who I think might be the murderer.”

“And, who is that?”

“Her boyfriend.”

“I’m going to stop you now. Perhaps, it is best that you remain retired, and you retire little Gregson before you squeeze into a crevice that you can’t pull-out of.”

“Listen, pal. All the retired people I know are dead. And the ones who want to retire, are dead. They think they won’t be when they get there, but they have been suffocating themselves for years, and they never pull-out and they never get in—it’s permanently shriveled.”

“Enough euphemisms. Who is the girl’s boyfriend?”

“He’s the pastor of a church in Maple Valley, and his last secretary was murdered on the road.”

“Hit and run?”

That’s right.”

“We’ll, I think I’ve gotten enough information from you now. Don’t leave town.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Gregson said.

When Gregson left the lodge, Liz and Pastor Steve were retiring to their White 4Runner. What was it about a woman who showed limited interest, and always went with the bad-boy?

Women seemed to be perpetually drawn to serial killers and rockstars—Steve was probably both. Rather than chasing Liz, perhaps he should date someone less interesting, but the thought bored Gregson. No—beautiful women were always surrounded by action.

“Hey, Gregson! You want to race down the mountain. 1000 bucks says that I get to her bottom before you.”

“You’re on!”

It wasn’t fair. Gregson’s BMW Z3 had slick tires that gripped the road, and Steve’s 4X4 could climb a mountain when it wanted to be left alone—under the covers of its snowy mistress.

“See you at the bottom,” Steve laughed. Liz was giggling.

Gregson got into his gold sportscar—it could’ve been a coffin. Something about women, made him desperate. All their beauty was a mirage. It didn’t mean anything. It was like their legs promised so much, but the goal was always the same. Getting to the end, and staying there, required love, and no man ever knew when love would grab him. They grabbed at flesh, at hope, hoped for love, just to forget their problems for a moment.

It was death-anxiety that drove Gregson. How could someone not be anxious? Most, go to a job for eight hours, that doesn’t mean anything. There is a struggle for recognition that doesn’t last longer than the employee of the month. Gregson long ago took comfort in the fact that when life got so bad, it was just about to get really good. Knowing… how temporary it is—was the music to dance by—the freedom, to be anyone, at any moment.

Gregson didn’t tap the breaks. He took the corners, like they belonged to him. The mountain smiled. Steve’s psychopathic pride was no match for Gregson’s dance. At the bottom, he waited, but Steve kept driving. If you win in life, it’s rarely recognized— less often celebrated. Gregson celebrated himself. Most people don’t know how. They are waiting for a party that never comes.

the unloved cats of the world

like a cat

with the good kicked out of her, she roams the streets

with no good in her

her sadness

feeds her madness, like helpless victims, she will hurt

her pain, needs expression

her orange fire flare

burns the skin of anyone who touches her

her yellow eyes are artificial lights

shining through

her saddened soul.

She walks between power-line shadows

and the birds don’t chirp

they stay as still as screws

dropping white rain

on her mangy coat

She scowls, with stiff, abrupt, contortions

and stares up

at the beautiful jewels

claiming false innocence

in their silence.

Her venom is a snake inside

She will never be adopted

People throw her scraps, to make her stay away

Only the old man on 4th street, gives her spiritual milk

but it’s always gone bad—not all the way—just enough, so she can drink it down

and she laps up the kindness

while thinking of all the prey she will eat

ripping rat hides to shreds

is her religion

She worships the gods of pain

utter indifference to her sad situation

So dangerous

so lonely

no matter how much she kills

animal sacrifices won’t redeem her soul

Even the old man, with the beautiful blue eyes, with tired skin, like an unmade bed

can’t love her

and her pain is the hurt of the world

that tears itself to shreds.

Wasted Lives, Like Falling Leaves

there is a waste, we will never know

a sinking

landfill, never full

sucking

our trash

into

the depths.

Anonymous slaughter

of our potential.

How do we judge

who to love?

1000 dollars, blowing in the wind

failing to see

the investment

opportunity

Seeing

choosing to look somewhere else

Anxiety

over who we might be

Distractions

stealing our time

so we don’t have to feel

Empty

jobs, aren’t a fit

people, make me walk away

I keep walking…

the best part of waste, is knowing, it doesn’t matter

holding onto dust and shadows

while I wait

BECOMING

Something

so that

all the waste, has a meaning, I carry, inside myself

The worst parts, are part of me

Life makes sense

Losing, what I thought I had

the less waste, I worry about

the better-off, I am

Not everything, needs to add up

Not every subtraction, is a loss

I’m proud of who I have become

Cultivation of my inner Power

is not a waste

Not having a home,

sleeping in the woods

being free, like the falling leaves

This is who, I was meant to be.

Chapter 6 The Abominable Snowman and the Bloody Nose to Disprove It

“We caught the Abominable Snowman!” A college kid said.

“Are you the ski patrol?”

“Here—put these handcuffs on. And don’t ask questions!”

“Have you seen a sexy woman ski through here?” Gregson asked.

“Didn’t I tell you not to ask questions! Do you want to murder her too?”

“Think about it… where’s her body? It’s like it melted into the snow,” Gregson said.

“The Snowman has been killing women for years—I’m sure you have a way. Besides, we don’t have to solve the mystery. We just have to keep you from killing. You’re covered in blood!”

“I slipped in it! The real killer is out there! Hey, that shotgun isn’t loaded,” Gregson said.

“How do you know?”

“First off, it’s white—the kind used at shotgun weddings. That’s a prank gun found at the party store. When you pull the trigger, a flag shoots out that says, knocked up.”

The college kid pulled the trigger, and the flag came out. “How did you know?”

“I’m a detective—Private Investigator, Retired. Call me Gregson.”

“Wow! A real detective!”

“Before you boys get too excited, perhaps, we should catch the real killer.”

Gregson skied down the mountain without slowing down. After being clothes-lined by low-hanging trees, and skiing into a snow drift, he got to the bunny slopes. An attractive blonde kept falling on her perfect toosh. She stared at Gregson. He had something most women want. Creativity—only found in the balls. Gregson knew he was a man because of it. All men have their standard for what makes them men—but there is no fooling a woman. She knows it when she sees it—her attraction bypasses her brain. All theories of masculinity die, when one works. And Gregson was the aphrodisiac for the opposite sex.

Pastor Steve was waiting at the bottom, with no Liz in sight.

There was blood on his tight snowsuit.

“Where is she?” Gregson demanded.

“Who?”

“The girl you murdered.”

“Look who’s talking.”

Gregson looked at his front. It could’ve been spaghetti.

“Honey!” Liz walked over. She had blood on her white-beater. It looked like she had just taken a shower. Steam was pouring off her, and her hair was turning frosty. So was, her perfect chest. “I brought you coco! Hi Gregson!”

“Whose blood is that on you?”

“I’m a bit embarrassed. Hubby and I made-out halfway down the mountain, and I gave him a bloody nose.”

Steve smiled at Gregson through bloody teeth—he wasn’t the Snowman—he had the bloody nose to prove it.