Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Heart of the Gorge

Early morning, a slight tilt before the sun. I awoke from a night terror--a loaded image driving me into waking fury. It was an image from last November:

I needed a breather. I had been trembling for the past 80 miles, and the deeper I went into the Columbia Gorge the worse my nerves became. I pulled the rental car over into one of those scenic point-of-interest spots. I got out of the car, into the rain and onto the edge of the bluff. I looked out over the misty gorge wishing something affirming would seed my thoughts. But I couldn't shake that past month in Portland. The month of undying darkness. I was treacherous. It was me against police, lawyers, spies, committees, girls, alcohol, solitude. The immediate result was defeat. I was 86'd from several bars on W. Burnside until I finally just stayed at home drinking while strangers came over to my apartment to take my furniture for a few bucks a piece until it was all gone. I rented a car, said goodbye to the few friends that knew the truth about the mistake I made, or perhaps the mistake that made me, and made for my dad's hideout near the Idaho/Canada border. And now in the Gorge, in the thick of it all, I could no longer move. I seized up. Emotional paralysis, maybe. The thought that the past was still wide open made moving forward futile. This siege of the senses would come to haunt me over the next year. Sometimes in grocery stores, or in the woods, or watching television. It was like stepping out of my body and leaving it privy to spiritual vultures. Yet the initial impact of this madness happened in the Gorge, in the rain, and on the edge. And the night terror haunts this location indefinitely, hovering all around that poor bastard teetering on a sharp cliff, weathering the elements in the heart of the Gorge.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Joel, You Are A Pussy

The most entertaining thing about pursuing writing is that you are welcomed with these things called Rejection Letters. Writing is very ego-driven, and the rejection letter is courteously aimed at the windshield with decapitating intentions. It is loaded with pleases and thank yous and graciouslys followed by a declining, not a good fit blade to the neck. But those are the experienced executioners. Like McSweeney's. They usually tell me something about my writing being too rooted in the short story. I mean, shit, if I had to be rooted to something. . .
Yet sometimes those carrying blades are no more than fools finally off the leash. I received one yesterday that had "guest editors" make the final cut. Nobody knows who the guest editors were, but I am assuming one was this kid named Joel who I beaned with a fastball in Elks Little League 19 years ago, who I have always suspected of dedicating his life to collapsing mine. Anyhow, Joel responded via his online magazine's guest editors:

Editor 3 Vote: No

Ed. 3 Comments: Wasn't clear on the point it was trying to make.

Editor 4 Vote: No

Ed. 4 Comments: I don't understand this.

Ok, Joel. Well, we all saw you cry after I hit you with that fastball. Pussy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

True Story

I have inherited a colleague's science class. Kids are about 12-14, scab-faced and developing quickly with gossip about drinking, smoking and screwing. All except for a little Norwegian girl named Ann. In each class, little Ann with her flat chest in cartoon t-shirts and peach haired legs has sat dreadfully quiet by the window, her eyes trembling with prayer.
But today she spoke.
We were discussing animals to dissect to best learn about the human body.
"A frog," suggested Maria.
"Mice," shouted Enrique.
"No way! A pig!" some other kid yelled.
Then, little Ann politely raised her hand. "How about a moose?"
"A moose?" I asked her raising my eyebrows. The class began giggling. "I don't know if we--"
Ann interrupted, "Ok. How about a bear?" She was nearly pleading.
"Ann, I don't...why are...I, uh, a bear? Why a bear? Or a moose?" She straightened out her frail body, rested her hands in her lap and brought her chin close to her chest. "I just want to know what makes them so big."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Novel and A Wish

I've taken to carrying around paperbacks whenever I leave the house. Philip Roth has seen better days; scratched with sand, pages torn and front cover nearly decimated. And this is what I adore most about books. The novel goes through human experiences in which no other medium of work can travel while simultaneously influencing animate life. Life and the novel can became attached, a sort of symbiotic relationship. When I see a book I have read I know exactly where I was during that read, and what I was going through. It's a profound relationship, perhaps common with music, maybe art, not film. . . I remember reading Bukowski for the first time while working a dead-end job. I took old Bukowski with me on my hour-long city bus commute. I sneaked in some words during cubicle lapses, during cigarettes and food. That book witnessed spiritual misery. Then suddenly, near the end of the book, I raised a fist at my boss, kicked over a chair and quit.
Or reading Hemingway on train in Germany and speaking in only declarative sentences during that read. Shit, Anais Nin was a dangerous one. It was during a careless time in my life, and I ended up high on opium with a few naked strangers in a bathtub greased with Crisco. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And now I'm in a solitary phase reading Philip Roth and consequently analyzing the minute details and causes that propel human emotions and actions.
As a person becoming more interested in writing, I have also become more conscious of style and affect. Which I suppose has been the purpose of this blog site; exploring different voices and characters and how the story is told or a thought expressed. And as the sun is now setting on my 29th birthday, the voices of all my experiences rattle and echo in my head, all wanting to heard and not drowned by alcohol or quick blog, I am birthday-wishing that I will find the right one during this next year to be my teller and begin my first attempt at a novel of my own.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Underwater Explorations and the Shalimar Motel

The crew docked, unloaded the ship and checked into the Shalimar Motel. The Shalimar Motel was a fuck house, fuck pad, fuck stop, fuck whatever. It was where you went if you wanted to keep a secret from somebody you are not supposed to keep secrets from. But it was classy, in a scummy sort of way. There was a whirlpool in each room and above each whirlpool was a retractable roof that opened into the Rio de Janeiro night. There were mirrors on every bedroom wall and ceiling, porn on every television; king sized beds and a glass cabinet stocked with lubes, oils, condoms, champagne and bottled water. It was cheap and, hell, if you can’t bring back a woman in the evening, you still got a whirlpool and porn and all sorts of oils to get weird with. It may have looked odd for a crew of seamen to be checking into the Shalimar Motel without women on their arms, but it was where Captain Kane liked to stay before a major exploration, and tomorrow they would be setting out to find Atlantis.

It was also in the Shalimar Motel where the crew’s deckhand, Steve, was fingered in the ass for the first time. And it was the last time he ever thought about home.

Ever since Deckhand Steve was old enough to recall memory he couldn’t recall his home and had only a vague memory of his parents. He had a constant stream of ocean coursing through his memory, but could not put a land to that sea. A runaway orphan, deckhand Steve had been working ships since he was twelve years old in hopes of one day docking in a place that he could recognize as home. Five continents and five years later, Deckhand Steve was now in Brazil, checking into the Shalimar Motel.

He had stayed in fuck houses before, but nothing like the swank decadence of the Shalimar Motel. In fact, the aesthetic of the motel was initially too intoxicating for the young man. Besides, he had a new city to explore, and perhaps a home.
Unfortunately for Deckhand Steve, Brazil was not his home, nor were the Brazilians his people. While feasting on salgados in a nearby bar, the locals quickly informed him in broken English about the cornerstones of their society: women, barbeque, and soccer. Though he enjoyed women and meat, he loathed soccer. He detested the notion that a professional sport could end in a tie, that a championship game could be decided by a shootout and why these guys made such a big deal about scoring a goal if the size of the ball is miniscule compared to the size of the goal. He wrote off Brazil like he had all the other countries he visited, further accepting the fact that his home is no longer a part of this world.

Deckhand Steve fell into a draining depression. He was only 17, yet he had searched the seas, traipsed many lands and penetrated dark caverns in search of origin. Finally defeated, deckhand Steve raised his hand and bellowed, “a beer and a shot of that shit,” now pointing to the cachaca.
His gringo speak spoke volumes in the crowded bar. It said, “I am lonely and god-damned tired,” which upon entering a Brazilian woman’s’ ears, specifically Nilcea’s, it translated as, “money, and sex.”
Nilcea approached Deckhand Steve and asked, “Oi, tudo bem? Voce parece triste, por que?” He glanced slowly up to the beautiful Nilcea. He did not know Portuguese, nor did he feel like trying. Instead he repeated the one phrase the crew told him to say in case of a situation like this. He looked her in the eyes, grinned fretfully and squeaked, “Shalimar Motel?”

Deckhand Steve opened the glass cabinet, pushed aside the oils and lube and grabbed the champagne and two glasses, while Nilcea turned on the whirlpool, retracted the roof and stepped out of her clothes. Steve followed suit after popping and pouring the champagne, and the two sat naked in the bubbling water timidly sipping from the glasses. Though Nilcea throbbed with excitement of being in the Shalimar, Deckhand Steve remained taciturn. His laid his head down on the edge of the whirlpool, closed his eyes and began fantasizing about a home he couldn’t recall. Perplexed, Nilcea was not going to waste her time in the Shalimar Motel. The d├ęcor and the deluge of swank had incited a ravenous sexual appetite inside of her. She lowered herself into the water and waded closer to Deckhand Steve. She reached to his right foot and with her fingertips began lightly gliding up toward his calf and back down to his ankle. Her touch sent an electric tremor through Deckhand Steve’s idle body, clearing his mind of distress and hopelessness. His eyes remained closed, but his lips began to smile. Encouraged by his response, Nilcea sensually continued working her fingertips slowly up his leg.

Suddenly, as Nilcea was exploring the contours of his leg, Deckhand Steve found himself no longer in the whirlpool but in a submarine. He was on an underwater exploration navigating the depths of the ocean, seeking uncharted territory. The submarine was moving simultaneously with Nilcea’s hand. The closer her hand moved towards his groin, the closer the submarine approached a distant radiance.

Nilcea, furthermore encouraged by his glowing expression, worked her way up his thigh, unaware that Deckhand Steve was no longer present but deep within the Atlantic.
The submarine was now gliding through a dazzling glow. It was too bright for Deckhand Steve to see beyond the luminosity. He shielded his eyes from the light; unable to make out what was ahead. Just then, Nilcea reached the base of his penis and began stroking it carefully. As she did this the submarine moved through the light and into the clear view of a disenchanted, ancient city. Deckhand Steve’s heart began to race and his body stiffened in shock. Nilcea mistook this reaction as a sign that he was going to blow, so she quickly removed her hand from his dick and began massaging his balls. But the real cause for his reaction was that for the first time in his life Deckhand Steve had recognized a foreign place. He had been here before.

The submarine moved slowly around the city just as Nilcea slowly moved his balls around. From the viewing window Deckhand Steve saw how this place had once defied dimensions with staircases in all angles, stretching for miles. In the center of it all was an eroded palace with barnacled gates, and it was surrounded by destructed housing foundations and extending roads. And remarkably, Deckhand Steve knew exactly where those roads once led. As he began mentally reconstructing this place from memory, he began to see apparitions of the people who once lived there, and as these apparitions became more vivid he began recognizing the people and remembering their names. The city began to rapidly reshape and rebuild itself. The algae, the barnacles, and the decay all gave way to fantastic reclamation until it was suddenly a functioning city again.

Nilcea began exploring the region between the balls and the anus. As she did so, Deckhand Steve saw his parents. They were walking home from the market and they looked exactly as he remembered them. Then from up the street, little Steve, maybe four years old, came running to greet them. It quickly dawned on him that his submarine had entered a portal to the past, and he became terribly afraid of what he would see next. His parents suddenly froze and his father dropped the groceries. People began to panic and run madly in all directions. In the meanwhile Nilcea was inching closer to his asshole, and he had a wild look on his face. She asked him something in Portuguese, and he responded with a gasp so she pressed on. But the gasp was obviously not a pleasured response to what Nilcea was doing, but to the horrors he was witnessing from the viewing window of his submarine. His people and his place were being crushed and ripped apart by atrocious sea monsters until there was nothing left but ruins and a solitary escape vessel vanishing safely in the dark sea.
As he continued to look on in dismay, Nilcea slipped her middle finger into his asshole and penetrated.
“ATLANTIS!” he shrieked. It scared the shit out of Nilcea and she quickly withdrew to the opposite end of the whirlpool. “ATLANTIS!” he cried out once again, his eyes wide and crazy. He jumped from the whirlpool and skirted across the tile to the telephone. He quickly dialed Captain Kane’s room number.

“Captain, this is Steve, Deckhand Steve. Listen , I won’t be with the crew tomorrow. But I have no doubts you will find Atlantis.”
The captain chuckled. This wasn’t the first time he had lost a crew member to the magic of the Shalimar Motel. “This is a common feeling to have in the Shalimar, young man. Are you sure this is what you want to do?”
“Captain, what’s the point of returning home when all it means is ending up where you started?” He then hung up the phone, got dressed, grabbed his bag and opened the door. He turned and took a long look at a startled Nilcea sitting frozen in the steaming whirlpool. He really didn’t know what to say to her, so he shrugged his shoulders and squeaked, “Shalimar Motel?”

He left and headed for the docks where he purchased an eternal ticket on a ship that never stopped sailing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Story Published

An online magazine, coincidentally named Fringe Indie Magazine, published a part of my psychosis. You can check it out here