31 March 2013

sleepanddeath
Sleep and His Half-Brother Death, John William Waterhouse (1874)

 

28 March 2013

About a year ago I got really drunk on a Saturday night and wrote a science fiction story. It was about a guy named Rudy who is given a special transmitter by his alien friends so that he can summon them whenever he feels sad. The problem with the story is that Rudy is always sad. I guess that’s why I was never invested enough to complete it—there was no conflict. I liked the idea of benevolent aliens, and I was too afraid to do anything interesting with them. I don’t know if I’m ever going to rework or finish this piece, but here are some excerpts from the first draft:

Rudy was masturbating when his friends came to visit. He hadn’t been expecting them.

Camwell, the tallest one, knocked on the front door. A cold sweat rolled down Rudy’s back when he heard the noise.

“Yes?” said Rudy. He zipped up his pants and stepped out of the bathroom. Rudy had been planning to masturbate to completion like every man over twenty-five does, which is joylessly while hovering over an open toilet.

Camwell now said this through the door: “Rudy, we’re terribly sorry to bother you, but we wish to speak with you.”

“Oh, God!” said Rudy.

Rudy goes on to explain why he masturbates, which is something I’ve tried to include in dozens of stories, but it always ends up getting cut. (Good news: it’s in my novel.)

“I was sad,” said Rudy. “So I—so I pretended my hand was a female sex organ.”

“Ahhh,” said Rudy’s friends in unison.

Camwell stepped closer to Rudy, and bent down to his height. He got close to Rudy’s left ear, because he knew Rudy would be able to hear him better that way. He planned to lower his voice so as not to embarrass him.

“And is that,” whispered Camwell, “something that makes sadness go away?”

“To be honest, no. It’s illusory, almost.”

Camwell was very smart. He knew almost immediately what Rudy meant by that, but he let him continue anyway.

“It makes things worse, Camwell,” said Rudy. “Much worse.”

“May I ask what the impetus was to make yourself feel even worse?” said Camwell.

“There is a period of fifteen seconds after it is over,” said Rudy, referring to masturbation, “when the clouds part, and true wisdom enters the mind. Nothing hurts at all. And then the darkness comes flooding back, and one is left feeling emptier than they had been before.”

I liked the idea of Rudy having dated “a real weirdo”:

See: Rudy had, over the course of many months, lost any desire to be alive. He felt this way on account of his girlfriend having left him alone at the beginning of the new year.

His friends were dismayed by this. They loved Rudy very much. They wanted him to be happy. They wanted him to forget all about Christine, who was, according to Rudy, a real weirdo anyway.

“But I loved that weirdo,” Rudy would say. And Camwell would sing him songs that were from distant galaxies, or tell him stories about his own planet, or even cook him meals when he was too sad to move.

Sometimes the Tall Ones stayed until Rudy was fast sleep. And then they would leave in their flying saucers and monitor his vital signs from Earth’s exosphere. At the first sign of trouble—even if it was something as harmless as a bad dream—the Tall Ones would return to check on him.

Rudy had great friends.

Weird. Now that I’ve gone through it, I feel compelled to finish this thing. I should probably just rewrite it, though. Hmm! Maybe I will. An incomplete story is a real travesty.

25 March 2013

I am riding my bicycle by a Texas highway at night. The moon is out and the wind is cold. From the other side of the bridge I can make out the clock tower in the distance—pointed and looming and lit up by the color of blood. I think about the night we said it was ours. I had told her it was our midnight kingdom, and she was queen of the rosemary bushes. In the haze of some lonesome road I remember the Christmas lights hanging in her brain.

But time has passed and now I am alone again. Shadows leer and I hear laughter from some dark place. I close my eyes and dream in orange and purple. Once I was the Chemical Prince; tonight I am pale and depressed. At the end of my journey will be comfort and dim lighting. Between here and there I will love nothing but oxygen. In time there will be electric piano and the blood in my head and I’ll wish I could vanish into steam.

The only way I can tolerate it here anymore is to speed up and slow down the electricity in my brain. I pass a dead sparrow and hear a woman cough. No funeral for the sparrow. By morning it will rot under the sun unless some hungry thing finds it first.

A mile away there are oranges bleeding out in my yard. I had thrown them over the roof just to experience the joy of gravity. And the woman passing by with her baby had looked at me with hatred, saying, “You’re a danger to yourself.”

Across the street a family is watching a young girl play violin. Someone is seated at a grand piano. Boys are in the driveway tossing a ball around. They are outside experiencing a childhood while I am inside experiencing an adulthood. Weirdo of the neighborhood, I think; weirdo of the world.

Yes, and my mind whirls back to the Chemical Prince and his twelve hours of existence. Dead the next morning, awaiting resurrection. But then death is gone and I am no longer afraid of it. It had been conquered in my dreams.

Presently the room swirls and the ceiling lowers. Green walls and yellow lights. There is a creeping sensation in my throat and I remember the sweet smell of the rosemary bushes and how I had almost crawled inside of them. And then my mind flashes and I remember the night when we stood on the stump and watched the moon quiver in the sky. I wonder aloud if what had been was now a dead tree or a new log.

Someone nearby is talking but I can’t focus on the words. A guitar screams and the sound is light and silvery like a supersonic bullet to the brain. Earthworms in my heart and red in my eyes. I gaze out the window and the sky is black and dead. I wonder if I am tired of human voices and human faces or just plain tired. The moment passes and my vision darkens. In some quiet place a memory is born, but I burn it before it has a chance to breathe.

25 March 2013

(Originally appeared on VIII Nothing.)

I am riding my bicycle by a Texas highway at night. The moon is out and the wind is cold. From the other side of the bridge I can make out the clock tower in the distance—pointed and looming and lit up by the color of blood. I think about the night we said it was ours. I had told her it was our midnight kingdom, and she was queen of the rosemary bushes. In the haze of some lonesome road I remember the Christmas lights hanging in her brain.

But time has passed and now I am alone again. Shadows leer and I hear laughter from some dark place. I close my eyes and dream in orange and purple. Once I was the Chemical Prince; tonight I am pale and depressed. At the end of my journey will be comfort and dim lighting. Between here and there I will love nothing but oxygen. In time there will be electric piano and the blood in my head and I’ll wish I could vanish into steam.

The only way I can tolerate it here anymore is to speed up and slow down the electricity in my brain. I pass a dead sparrow and hear a woman cough. No funeral for the sparrow. By morning it will rot under the sun unless some hungry thing finds it first.

A mile away there are oranges bleeding out in my yard. I had thrown them over the roof just to experience the joy of gravity. And the woman passing by with her baby had looked at me with hatred, saying, “You’re a danger to yourself.”

Across the street a family is watching a young girl play violin. Someone is seated at a grand piano. Boys are in the driveway tossing a ball around. They are outside experiencing a childhood while I am inside experiencing an adulthood. Weirdo of the neighborhood, I think; weirdo of the world.

Yes, and my mind whirls back to the Chemical Prince and his twelve hours of existence. Dead the next morning, awaiting resurrection. But then death is gone and I am no longer afraid of it. It had been conquered in my dreams.

Presently the room swirls and the ceiling lowers. Green walls and yellow lights. There is a creeping sensation in my throat and I remember the sweet smell of the rosemary bushes and how I had almost crawled inside of them. And then my mind flashes and I remember the night when we stood on the stump and watched the moon quiver in the sky. I wonder aloud if what had been was now a dead tree or a new log.

Someone nearby is talking but I can’t focus on the words. A guitar screams and the sound is light and silvery like a supersonic bullet to the brain. Earthworms in my heart and red in my eyes. I gaze out the window and the sky is black and dead. I wonder if I am tired of human voices and human faces or just plain tired. The moment passes and my vision darkens. In some quiet place a memory is born, but I burn it before it has a chance to breathe.