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Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Title Sequence: “OUR FATE”
(JANE DOE by NEVERSHOUTNEVER begins)
A young man sits across from a girl at a coffee shop table. The camera is aimed at their sides so that both are in fully frame. The two are seemingly having a pleasant conversation. The camera begins to rotate, drawing inward slightly so that the frame cuts out the two at the waist. The camera moves to the back of the young man’s head, showing the face. The coffee shop setting bursts into flames behind her. The other patrons are dead. Gore is splatter across all the walls. In the distance, gunfire crackles. The girl is unfazed by the destruction.
The young man stands and walks away from the coffee table, horror plastered on his face. The girl is confused and calls out to him as the war torn setting reverts to the peaceful coffee shop.
The coffee shop setting changes to a night club around the young man as walks away. He leans up against a bar and smiles at another girl. The camera remains at waist level and then rotates to face the girl. She mouths “Hello” and behind her the club is blown apart by a strong wind. This girl is, again, unfazed. Behind her, the sky is gray and swirling with thunder. Mechanized creatures herd people across an ash gray landscape, brandishing massive machine guns.
The young man stumbles away, his face pale and sickly. He backs away and trips into a bus seat as the night club disappears, only to be replaced by a city bus. The camera backs away to show the young man’s full frame. The bus stops suddenly and a girl falls into his lap. The camera cuts to the young man, framing his head and part of his shoulders. He smiles at her. The camera cuts to the girl, framing the head and part of her shoulder. She smiles back. Behind her, the sun shines and there’s endless fields of greenery. Cartoon birds flutter about in the air and people join hands in fellowship. The camera returns to the young man who is sitting in this vision, his head and torso in frame. The young man is thrusted out of this vision by the massive hand of another man. The hand appears from the bottom of the screen and catches him by the shirt. The camera switches back to the city bus, showing the full frame of the young man struggling with the other man. The camera would be placed at the back of the bus, as they move toward the front. The camera cuts outside the bus as the young man is tossed off the bus in a heap. The bus begins to roll away. The camera rotates as the bus rolls down the street and out of view. The young man stands up, his back to the camera.
The title card reads “OUR FATE”
The basic premise behind “Our Fate” is that the fate of humanity is somehow directly intertwined with the main character, a cocky psychic named Joel, meeting and falling in love with a girl he met on a bus. Joel has brief gleams into the future, a gift he has no control over, but a gift he was once able to use to win the lottery. These gleams into the future turn apocalyptic after when Joel goes on a date after meeting the girl on the bus.
As the series progresses, Joel finds this girl, Jane and finds she is engaged to be married. Even if she wasn’t, Jane is put off by Joel. Joel must break off her engagement, get her to like him and in the process steer humanity toward World Peace.
The Steward of Wolves was sentenced to fight forever. Slaying thousands and thousands of his own wolves. They launched toward him, claws out stretched and fangs bared. The Steward swung his sword and swatted the wolves away. He’d been howling in his horror. His wards were slaughtered around him. It hadn’t always been like this, bloody and brutal. He hadn’t always been the Steward of Wolves. Before the wolves found him, he was a man like any other. His former name was Jonathan and he loved a woman name June.
June had died as horrifically as any death Jonathan had ever known. Horrific to him, of course. To the paramedics who cased her body way, her death was common. It was just a common mugging gone wrong. A six inch blade had slid between two of her ribs and the mugger had run off, leaving her purse as a consolation. Jonathan and June had finished a late dinner at a hip, new restaurant which June had been after Jonathan to take her to. They turned a corner leading to parking garage, Jonathan lagging between, when the mugger emerged from a corner. Jonathan was trying to scare up his car keys and hadn’t realized anything was wrong until June gasped in deeply. Jonathan remembered the event being more grand and dramatic than it actually was. In his mind’s eye, the mugger swelled forth from the shadows like a tar bubble from a pit. He remembered the six-inch blade being more of a sword, twice the man’s arm length at least. The mugger had a cruel smile filled with bloody fangs. This, of course, wasn’t true. The mugger was only a man, a terrified drug addict who was a little high and looking to get higher. A drug addict who meant to scare June with a couple thrusts through the air, but actually stabbed her. When he realized what he did, he dropped the knife and ran off.
Jonathan caught her before she hit the ground. Common sense suggested that the red stuff was supposed to stay in, but Jonathan was too terrible to use such knowledge. At first he was just screaming out of horror, but as his wits came back to him, he screamed for help. Help came too late. One of the parking attendants hurried out to the sounds of Jonathan’s screams and phoned in to 911. She took her last breaths as the paramedic pulled in and Jonathan was reluctant to let her go.
Once the terror had subsided, Jonathan had gone numb. Most of what happened after that hadn’t registered to him. Apparently, the police had asked him questions and apparently, he answered them because when he woke up the next morning, the mugger was in police custody. The police had him identify the man in a line-up and he fingered the one who looked the most like fanged monster he’d seen. He thought that might have been wrong, though. The man he saw too skinny to do the damage he’d seen. He shivered too much. His face was etched with too much terror to be the thing that cut into his soon-to-be wife.
He was sure she would have said yes. He wanted to wait until they got home, figuring they could have consummated their impeding nuptials, heavy on the ‘mate.’ He felt sick to his stomach that he had waited. He figured that he’d kill himself. The thought would have waned, had he someone to express it to. He was alone in the big city, except for a body cooling on a shelf in the city morgue. As it was, the thoughts festered in his head like his brain was meat going bad. He had no idea how he’d do such a thing. He had razor blades and a box of rat poison under the radiator. He had a belt and could hang himself in his closet. He could probably get some pills, though he had no interest in interacting with other people. He sat on the floor of his apartment, turning her engagement ring over and over again in his hands when he first heard the padded footfalls of an animal in the other room. At first, he was uninterested in the noise, not even paying it enough attention to question the foreign sound. The sky was blue and animals made noise in the other room. Never mind that he didn’t own any animals.
He only followed the noises when the padded footfalls turned into claws scraping against tiles in the bathroom and yips echoed in that small space. He stood in the doorway of the bathroom, ignoring a snow white wolf the size of bear. He was ignoring the wolf because there was a dead man in his bath tub. The man had unremarkable blue eyes and ash blonde hair like Jonathan had. He was tallish like Jonathan was and had lean muscle like Jonathan had. The only difference between him and the man was that Jonathan wasn’t dead. He didn’t think he was.
In movies, suicide victims hang their arms over the sizes of the tub to show off their self-inflicted wounds. This man’s head lolled back and his hands rested in his lap, underneath a crimson waterline. Jonathan stepped away from the doorway, no able to understand the information he was seeing. The massive wolf followed him into his kitchenette, where he found another man laying on the floor with froth foaming off his lips. His unremarkable blue eyes were glassy and staring out into nothingness. He was utterly still with his head resting on his forearm. He was wearing one of Jonathan’s favorite shirts, one with the iconic Woodstock logo.
Jonathan moved into his bedroom and found yet another doppelganger hanging by the neck in the closet. He was too tall to be completely off the ground. His legs were partially folded underneath him and his face went puffy and purple. He turned away from this sight and saw a fourth twin laying on the bed in a suit. He had little occasion to wear a suit, but he kept one from a wedding he went to a year back. This body was the least vile, but the most disturbing. His skin was pale, but his cheeks were eerily rosy. His lips had some color to them and he had a flower in his breast pocket. His hands rested on his chest and he might have been sleeping, the way he looked.
Jonathan then turned to the wolf, not wanting to see the bodies anymore. The wolf looked deep into his eyes, speaking Jonathan’s life to him without saying anything. Every moment of his life, from the cradle to moment of June’s death, flashed through Jonathan’s mind and soon tears rolled down his cheeks.
“Is this real?” Jonathan asked, expecting the question to be rhetorical. Expecting the answer to be yes. The wolf answered with his stare. The wolf’s eyes were like yellow moons welling with wildness and steely perception, all at the same time. The wolf said no with its impossibly yellow eyes that might have glowed like lanterns if the light were to go out. He would have those eyes once he became the Steward of Wolves. He walked forward to the wolf and the wolf explained everything in the span of seconds. Jonathan fell to one knee like he was swearing allegiance to the wolf. The fall was more out of weakness, but he swore allegiance to the wolves all the same.
The wolves wanted him for no better reason than he was barely clinging to this world. He was a vessel needing to be possessed by something. Why not the wolf? Jonathan still had no interest in living until after it was too late for him. The massive wolf turned into a cloud of white smoke which Jonathan inhaled, coughing and choking on it.
The Steward walked away from where Jonathan had knelt. The Steward felt nothing beyond his duty, but what remained of Jonathan felt blind, screaming terror. Jonathan was scratching at walls that he couldn’t get at. Outside, in the world, the Steward moved through the night bathed streets. Jonathan had been barefooted in his apartment, so the Steward was barefoot as well. The Steward was moving steadily northward, toward the distant smell of Pine trees and open spaces. No mortal man’s nose could possibly smell such things, but the Steward wasn’t a mortal man. He wasn’t ever bother with until he hit the Interstate. A man walking barefoot on an active highway drew attention and soon, swirling blue was at his back.
A police siren whined behind him and the Steward ignored it. Next, a police officer was calling over to him. The man was on foot and gain on the Steward. His hand wrapped around his arm and the Steward employed strength that Jonathan never had. The Steward broke the man’s hand and he screech like some predatory bird or some prey animal. Either noise was fleeting in the wild, but the police officer kept on screaming. The noise got the Steward’s ire up. Noise meant excitement in his world. Noise meant time to kill. He didn’t though. The Steward reasoned that this was about he had to get to his duty. This, of course, wasn’t true. Jonathan had stayed his hand. He understood exactly what the noise meant to the Steward and his overwhelming horror brought sickness to the Steward’s stomach.
What the Steward did do, however, was take the police officer’s car. The Steward had no knowledge of piloting a motor vehicle, but Jonathan did. Jonathan felt snake-like tendrils worm into his mind and his father teaching him how to drive flashed in his mind’s eye. He was happy to give the Steward the information if it might he could just get away from the screams of the injured policeman. The police car arced away from the injured man and rolled off down the highway, moving faster than Jonathan would have ever driven. The Steward hadn’t put on the sirens, though the police men had left on the flashing lights. It occurred to Jonathan that the sirens should be on and wished he could get the Steward to turn them on. If he could do so, everyone, including the Steward himself, might have been safer.
The lights were enough to part the traffic on the interstate and the Steward made his way toward the scent of Pine. What the Steward hadn’t considered was that police officer routinely checked in with their station. Or that police cars were equip with tracking devices. Or that he should have considered one or both of these things. As it was, the sound of whining sirens was a surprise. Three cars followed the Steward’s stolen vehicle at a few car lengths distance. More lights flashed and whirred ahead of him. They were looking to box him in, but he was going forth into it, at speed.
The car ahead moved to block the Steward and the Steward found more horsepower. The car lurched forward and the two cars collided. The intercepting car spun out of the way in a burst of sparks. He kept up at that speed, with some horrific grinding sounding in his ear. Jonathan then understood something that should have been obvious. The Steward knew exactly what was going on in Jonathan’s mind, but Jonathan had no idea what the Steward was up to. The Steward was just keeping him until he wasn’t useful. His life or consciousness was going to be chucked away afterward. A new wave of terror washed over Jonathan, but the Steward kept moving onward.
The car gave up just off of the interstate and the Steward left it in the middle of the road with a long line of cars honking their horns behind him. The Steward took off northward on foot again. Trees loomed in the distance, the rising sun spilling a red and purple bruise up into the sky. He broke the tree line as the police crested beyond the line of blocked cars. The Steward moved faster among the trees somehow and the policemen who followed were all but gone shortly. Long after running was necessary, the Steward kept running. Black wolves flanked his left and right, keeping their distance. As they picked up his scent, the black wolves converged on him. The wolves and their Steward blazed through the darkness, ascending up a slope.
They moved higher and higher, the terrain growing more and more rocky and it occurred to Jonathan that they were heading up the side of a mountain. It also occurred to him that there wasn’t a mountainous barrier between New York and Canada where the Steward was heading.
Jonathan begun to accept that the Steward was not of the natural world and, therefore, could do things outside the realm of the natural world. For instance, he could transport himself out of it. The trees stooped low like old men as the Steward climb with his wolves. The wolves had found positions at the Steward’s heels like massive yipping shadows. Also, it occurred to Jonathan that he should have been able to see sunshine in the east, but all Jonathan could see was swirling gray clouds which the Steward had pierced through. Dew and frost clung to his cheek as he moved and the clouds only grew thicker. Soon, neither the Steward nor Jonathan could see anything and then the ground fell out from under their feet. The Steward had sprung up before the fall, suggesting that he had expected it. The black wolves followed, their black fur rippling like some odd deformed, little wings.
They caught the ground hard and unexpectedly. The wind whined weakly through a dense smoke and through a mass of blackened Redwood trees. The ground and the base of the trees were chard black from some wildfire long extinguished. The massive black trees were like towering leviathans turned to stone. There was an expectation of mysticism in the air and Jonathan wouldn’t have been surprised if Medusa slithered her way through the swirling smoke. Medusa didn’t come, but more wolves did. They howled mournful cries through the ashen air and it echoed for forever. The forms appeared from the distance, hundreds of them and with them, stood a man.
The man wore a flowing black cloak made of fur. The cloak rippled as he advanced to the Steward and the Steward tensed. Jonathan feared there would be a fight, but a fight didn’t come. The man’s wolves circled and sniffed at the Steward’s wolves and the two men glared at each other. The man was old and wore. He had matted gray hair and a scruff of dirty gray beard. He had a permanent sneer on his face and his lips arched up, revealing dirty, yellow canine teeth.
“Who are you?” The man asked. The Steward didn’t answer and Jonathan had the notion that the man wasn’t speaking to him anyway.
“Jonathan.” He said and his lips obeyed him.
“Jonathan, would you have taken your life?” Jonathan didn’t answer the question because he truly wasn’t sure. He knew he didn’t want what the Steward was giving him.
“Would you have killed yourself over the girl?” The man asked.
“June.” Jonathan said, his voice shaking weakly.
“Slain by some gutter snipe itching for his poison.” The man said.
“Are you a coward?” Jonathan didn’t answer because he wasn’t sure. He felt more than ever like something disembodied. A pointless wisp of vapor rattling around in another man’s head.
“Would you kill him? This man?” Jonathan didn’t answer. At the time, he believed it to be a hypothetical question like “Would you kill for a million dollars?” But hypothetical question turned out not to be as cries echoed in the distance. They were the throaty cries of a man. There were also guttural growls of predatory dogs. They weren’t killing the man, but they were hurting him.
The old man flung his cloak to one side and revealed a sword hanging in a black leather scabbard. He drew the blade and it was a brutalized, chipped thing meant for hacking. This was no Excaliber, nothing noble about it. It was for killing, not for admiring. The edge could have done with sharpening, but the tip had been sharpened to a pin-point. The old man offered Jonathan the sword, hilt first. The Steward was the one to take it, but that was all he did. The sword hung limp in their hands like its existence was something foul. The man’s cries came closer, echoing through the towering trees. He was crying for mercy from wolves, a ridiculous notion.
His form came into view through the smoke. He was on his back, kicking and struggling against two black wolves. They were muscle-packed and moving the man with ease. The man was crying and bleeding and looking like he pissed himself. The other wolves, old man’s and the Steward’s, converged around the man and made a full circle. The man was released, but he curled into a ball, understanding that he was hopelessly trapped.
This man, of course, was the drug addict who killed June. It didn’t matter how he got from his holding cell where he was awaiting trial to this mystical, chard forest. What mattered was that he had a sword in his hand and an opportunity to kill the man who killed someone he loved. The Steward, nor the old man prompted him to move forward into the circle of wolves, but he did anyway. The drug addict looked up to him, his eyes wide and fearful like he was staring up at a vengeful god. And that might have been what he was. He had the understanding that he was supposed to become something vicious and dangerous. Something that understood that noise meant excitement and noise meant it was time to kill. Jonathan wanted to and he didn’t know if that was his own or the Steward’s influence.
The blade rose, seemingly of its own accord. Jonathan didn’t want it to, but at the same time, he did. The drug addict whimpered and begged, but him begging to Jonathan was as ridiculous as begging the wolves. Jonathan heard the words coming from the man’s mouth and understood that they were words, but he could take meaning from any of them.
The wolves glared and shifted in excitement. Blood was coming. The kill was coming. Meat. Meat. Meat. They yipped and cried for it, jumping over one another and licking their lips.
The drug addict locked eyes with Jonathan, hoping to find his humanity and then he stopped begging. The wolf’s yellow moon eyes burned into the junkie’s decayed mind. Drool rolled from his gaping mouth. He was looking at something that was no more human than the wolves crying for blood.
The kill. The kill. Give them the kill. The words sank into Jonathan’s mind, digging in like talons. There was no reason. There was only the blood to come. The blade dropped and the addict screamed.
The blade slammed into the ashen earth and quivered violently. The wolves went silent and the rest of the world fell silent after them. The Earth might have stop spin for all Jonathan knew. The addict wouldn’t take a breath, though Jonathan had done nothing to take it from him. Jonathan released the blade and backed away a step. The addict stayed below Jonathan, stark still and glaring. When he realized he wasn’t dead and then he thought he might be allowed to escape now. He slowly rose, taking pains to keep his posture as cowering as possible. When the addict was at his feet, Jonathan took him by the collar and began beating the hell out of him, screaming wildly. The wolves roared and howled. Blood and teeth scattered onto the earth below. Jonathan thought he might have broke the man’s jaw and he was glad. The man’s begging had offended him.
As sudden as the beating started, it had stopped. Jonathan had stopped himself in mid-swing like someone had stopped him. He was puffing and his jaw was tensed. The junkie was on his knees, held up only by Jonathan’s hand curled around his shirt front. The addict’s face was a mashed and bloodied version of itself. His eyes were swollen shut and blood streamed from the purple bruise. More blood dribbled from his lips and down his chin. The addict attempted to say something, but it was only nonsensical gurgles that spat blood into the air.
Jonathan released the addict and he clattered to the ground in a heap. He turned around to see the old man, but he was gone. In his place, towered the white wolf. His yellow moon eyes urged for Jonathan to finish the kill. The black wolf swarmed around the white wolf’s legs like ants around their queen. However, the white wolf wasn’t anything as mild as earthly royalty. No. This wolf was a god of some sort. The God Of Savagery. The God of Murder. The God of Blood. Whatever it was, it wanted Jonathan to kill the junkie.
Why? What did it matter if a city boy killed a city junkie to a God? The only logical reason was that it wanted Jonathan in his kingdom and there were certain rites that needed to be paid before that could happen.
Again, the question was asked. Why? Why would it want a suicidal man? He arrived at another answer in the form of another question. Who is the master of wolves? Who is the master of the savage things? All this God had was violence. An entire life of violence. An eternity of violence. Maybe it was like a poison. Maybe not a poison, but something that was fundamentally changed by the addition of some small thing. He would tear himself apart, or this place would tear itself apart like two wolves killing each other over meat.
Jonathan moved out from the circle of wolves, carving through a sea of black, niggling fur. The white wolf glared and Jonathan felt the Steward take hold of him. He had no where to go and expected to die by some horror fashion. The addict made panicked gurgles and Jonathan didn’t need to look to see that the circle was breaking. The meat was defenseless and hurt could be as good as dead. The Steward’s hold weakened as its want to devour slithered into both their minds. The Steward was a wild thing without Jonathan’s will and its subjects were feeding without it. The white wolf moved forward through the swarm of ravenous wolves toward Jonathan. This would be how he died. The white wolf opened its massive maw and a glimmer of light washed across his face. The fangs never pierced his flesh and death did not come.
He sat on his apartment floor, turning June’s engagement ring in his hand. Sorrow still burned in his chest and June was still murdered. Jonathan could still smell smoke and could still feel tendrils of the murderous anger. In the silence of his small apartment, he could hear phantom footfalls of black wolves and the howls of the wild.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
A man walks down the street and falls down dead. It seems like a joke, but it’s not. The man was going home at the time. He was going to meet his wife, a bitch of a woman with a half a mile of forehead. Would he have made it home, she would have killed him. He made a handful of enemies in his truncated life.
The reason his wife wanted to kill him was she was crazy and a bitch of a woman. She planted a high backed armchair in the front hall and she was waiting with an ancient shotgun she had inherited from her grandfather. She puffed on a Pall Mall cigarette and kept spitting the taste onto the blood colored carpet. Various voices in her head promised her the secret to happiness for a blood sacrifice and the man had never been a good husband. You see, this man's wife was greatly depressed, which was odd because she regularly saw a psychiatrist. Maybe it was the fact that the psychiatrist was a drunk or maybe it was that the two of them fucked more than they talked. The psychiatrist had known about the voices and did nothing. You could lose your license for that.
The psychiatrist really couldn’t be blamed though. His wife had died three times and he was distracted by that. The third time had stuck. The first time was a car crash. The psychiatrist was driving and her heart stopped for a full minute. The psychiatrist was drunk, of course. He clipped another car and spun out and then T-boned into a partition. The psychiatrist shattered his leg and needed a cane to walk. The second time was a suicide attempt. The psychiatrist found his wife sleeping inside the oven, her long hair baking. The psychiatrist’s wife was crazy too. She said she saw Jesus when she died the first time. The two of them had made love and had been impregnated with the Second Coming. The only problem was that she miscarried when the paramedic revived her. The second time she died, she was dead for two minutes. She was miserable when she was brought back again. She said that she stripped nude and burst through the pearly gates, but Jesus had rejected her. She said that he was anger that she lost his Second Coming. The third time was a suicide attempt too, but it was just to die. She wrapped her lips around a pistol the psychiatrist had purchased after his life had been threatened by a former patient.
The story isn’t about the psychiatrist or his dead wife. It’s about the man that walked down the street and fall down dead. On his person, at the time, he had a copy of William R. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch which he had read almost two thousand times. He had read that book everyday since he purchased it. He found the book on a supermarket shelf in between the canned peas and the canned peaches. He’d put it into his basket and the cashier wouldn’t let him leave with it without paying for it. He hadn’t thought to lie and say the book was his. The book had been frayed and dog-eared and it would have been a believable lie. Instead, the cashier made up a price for it and he paid it.
When the man died, his pockets were emptied out by a drug addict and the book was stolen. The drug addict also stole the man’s wallet and shoes, but that’s to be expected. By this time, the book was almost destroyed and was held together with a rubber band. The drug addict undid the rubber band, expecting the book to remain intact. All the pages fell away from one another and he read the book out of order.The drug addict died of a heroine overdose while wearing the man’s shoes and reading the man’s novel. While reading the book, the drug addict thought back to his father who never said he loved him, but once said he hated him. As a child, the drug addict stole a single bottle of whiskey from his father’s liquor cabinet. The legacy of the drug addict’s family was a history of incarceration and that particular bottle of whiskey. A tradition the drug addict’s father had was a toast to the drug addict’s grandfather with that a glass of that particular whiskey on the anniversary of his grandfather’s death. The drug addict’s grandfather did the same for the drug addict’s great grandfather. The drug addict drank it with his friends in the woods. They gasped and coughed and choked on the 20 year old bottle of whiskey. Their eyes watered as they denied that the whiskey was the worst thing they ever tasted. A police officer happened upon them and in a panic, the drug addict chucked the bottle away. It smashed out of sight and the drug addict never knew he threw away his own legacy. The police officer figured out that they were drinking, mostly because of the guile of a group of boy. The police officer took the boys home and the drug addict had to explain what happened. Once the officer was gone, his father muttered ‘I hate you’ before collapsing into his easy chair. The drug addict had expected a beating, but he wasn’t relieved. That short sentence was the most honest thing he’d ever said to the drug addict. The drug addict’s father died that night. It’s possible that the drug addict knew he was taking too much heroine, but wanted to kill himself become his father never said ‘l love you.’ It might also be possible that the drug addict toasted his father with his last fix of heroine.
The drug addict doesn’t matter at all. It’s the man who walked down the street and fell down dead that mattered. The man had been confused for a homeless drunk and was left alone. The body was left on the sidewalk for almost two hours and then an old man jabbed the man in the side with a broom handle.
“Sleep it off somewhere else.” The old man demanded. The man did not move. He smacked him once in the head with the broom handle and decided that the man wasn’t drunk. He called the paramedics and then hid the broom handle, horrified that he might be arrested for assaulting a dead man. He smacked the man in full view of anyone available to see. The old man knew this and considered running, but he didn’t have a car or even a bus pass. The old man thought about killing himself. This seems ridiculous, but the old man had his reasons.
The old man was guilty of a lot of horrible crimes and had only gotten by because no one was paying attention to him. In fact, the old man was directly responsible for fifteen murders and indirectly responsible for twenty-one more. Most of the old man’s murders happened while escaping prison. He’d made an explosive out of soap and blew up a bus transferring prisoners. Seven prisoners and four guards died and the old man crawled from the wreckage. It was believed that the old man had died and the old man preferred it like that.
Well, anyway. The man who walked down the street and died was carted away. The ambulance had its sirens off and both the paramedics rode in the first half of the ambulance. They told old, dirty jokes and ignored the shit smell coming off the man. They unloaded the man and took him to the morgue. A sleepy coroner took the man and cleaned him much like a dishwasher cleaned baked-on food from a pan. The man was moved onto a steel shelf and pushed away into darkness. It there that the man woke again. His eyes opened, but his body would not move. He wasn’t sure if he was alive or not. He felt numb and could see nothing. He could barely hear anything, but the fact that he could hear something made him doubt that he was dead.
What the man was hearing was the muffled cell phone conversation of the coroner with his wife. The coroner’s wife was threatening to leave him. She had suspicions that he had become a drug addict. The coroner was, in fact, a drug addict, though he didn’t see it that way. He had back pain all his life and he had a prescription for pain killers. He had friends in the hospital who didn’t mind writing them. It was in that fashion, that the coroner stayed in a perpetual state of numbness and fatigue. The coroner had nodded out in the middle of his conversation with his wife, which hurt his case largely.
While the coroner was unconscious, the man gained use of his left leg and used it to bang on the metal shelf. He did that for days and days or hours and hours or maybe only for a few minutes. The man had expanded whatever energy he had and then tears welled in his eyes and he thought of all the horrible things he’d done in his life.
He tied a cinder block around a cat’s neck and tried to throw it in the river, but the cat scratched his face and he left it alone.
He’d broken his brother’s wrist by pushing him off a diving board.
He’d keyed CUNT into a stranger’s car door.
He shoplifted a glass bottle of Coca Cola.
He punched his father in the back of the head and never apologized.
He pissed in a client’s sink one summer when he thought he’d be a plumber like his father.
He stole $36 from his college roommate during a party and blamed it on a boy who had slept with his then girlfriend.
He tossed a brick through a window of his ex-girlfriend after she cheated on him.
He slept with a married woman while her husband slept in a hospital bed.
He ignored his wife and tried to divorce her when she went insane.
He thought to kill his wife to escape his marriage.
The man was finally released the following morning. The coroner had thought he’d heard something and then he gasped as the man turned to look at him. The man was shivering and sickly, but very much alive. The man was moved up into the hospital part of the hospital and was checked over. The doctors weren’t sure why he’d died or why he’d revived. He was released, wearing the clothes he wore when he died. That man walked down a street and walked up the steps to his house. He opened the door and caught a bullet into his chest. He fell dead.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Autumn sobbed slowly as her husband’s lips moved in his slumber. The rain rolled down the window glass and the thunder grumbled throughout the night. He might not have heard her, were she to stay in bed. But she slipped away and down the stairs to weep in the bathroom with the tap running. Earl had always been a deep sleeper. He’d also always been a dim bulb, so he might not have caught on if he weren’t sleeping. Autumn loved him still. Earl was a good man, better than the man she had before Earl. Her jaw sat crooked and she wore her hair low to hide a cigar burn. Both were given to her by her ex-husband, Dale. Earl had been like a knight out of a fairy tale the way he’d taken her away from all of that.
He found her in a trailer park in the bad part of Louisville, sobbing over a baby in her belly. She’d thought about killing it, mostly because she had a dim hope of leaving Dale. She had no idea what would happen after she left. She had no money and had no real way of making it. She was young at the time, but she never thought she was pretty enough to be on stage, dancing for dollars. Even if she was, the thought of it seemed horrific.
Earl saw her there, behind her trailer, convulsing with tears. He had come over and given her his handkerchief. He was a quiet man. That’s what she first thought about him. That he was so very quiet and so very still.
“Can I ask what’s wrong, Darling?” He had asked. The question sounded so very nervous, but that was the only betrayal of his nerve. She made up a lie and assured him that she was fine, but Earl kept by her. Without thinking about it, she asked him inside for a cup of coffee. Dale would have beaten her black and blue for letting someone in while he was gone. Dale might have killed her. That was the type of man he was.
Earl sat across from her, sipping coffee from a chipped Mickey Mouse mug. His eyes rolled over her and Autumn started fussing with her sleeves, trying to hide bruises Dale had left. Earl might have already seen them, but he was good enough not tp say anything about it. The two of them made awkward conversation about Earl’s tour of duty in the army and Autumn’s favorite daytime shows.
At the end, Earl left the Mickey Mouse mug in the sink and walked out the door. Autumn felt a deep well of sorrow at that sight, because she had pretended for a few fleeting hours that she wasn’t with Dale in a small trailer. She pretended that she wouldn’t hear guns going off or prostitutes fighting over street corners. She pretended that she’d curl into the arms of a sober Earl rather than a drunken Dale. Him leaving, meant she had to stop pretending.
Earl came back around and he was careful not to show up when Dale was in and Autumn got to pretend a little more. Her Light and Dark husbands. One that was gentle and interested, that was kind and good. The other that was mean and bitter about the way life had turned out. By that time, she started to think of Dale as the other husband. The one she ended up with by some unlucky roll of the dices. Maybe all she had to do was roll again.
A confrontation came and Autumn had her opportunity. It occurred by accident. Somebody noticed the same man hanging around Dale’s trailer. Dale got wind and came home early, breaking the door open instead of opening it. Earl stood like he was expecting Dale to come. Autumn froze, understanding only that she was foolish to pretend. Her real husband was Dale and Dale would kill her for such flights of fantasy.
Earl put himself between Dale and Autumn. That’s how Autumn saw him, the man between her and her Darker husband. Dale was cursing and advancing, his fists balled tight enough to make diamonds. Dale played football in high school and still had a linebacker's size and weight. He fought similar to the way he played, using his weight to mow down his opponent. Instead of letting that happen, Earl got around him, which was impressive in the small space. Once he was behind, he hooked his arm around Dale’s neck and locked down. Earl was dangling off his shoulders and Dale was smashing him into the walls, shaking the entire trailer. When Earl realized Dale had too thick a neck to be choked out, he started ramming his knees into Dale’s kidneys.
Dale lost his balance and fell forward, smacking his head on a countertop. Earl fell with him, but wasn't hurt bad. Earl rose up off him, breathless and spitting blood. Dale was making angry groans, but looked too dazed to know who he was mad at. The trailer had been destroyed in the fight, everything was on the floor, cracked if not outright broken. Dale was writhing on the floor, slowly shifting the broken plates and mugs.
Earl offered his hand to Autumn, saying nothing but telling her everything. He was saying this was that time. This was when they left. But she hesitated, keeping her hands to her breast. Her eyes filled with horror and disbelief. The second she took Earl’s hand, Dale would see. He’d kill her. Dale had taken some sort of mythical status. Some inscrutable power that would never be broken, but might be coaxed somewhere near pacification.
“Autumn.” Earl had called, looking directing into her eyes. All at once, she wasn’t afraid and she took his hand. She’d been holding it in one way or another ever since. She gave birth to Dale’s child, a boy. She named him Earl Jr. and the boy called Earl Daddy in time. She’d knew happiness like she never known until that night went his lips parted in the darkness and he moaned the name, Jolene.
Earl took Autumn away and neither of them looked to see what happened to Dale. The few regrets Autumn had about running was that she’d left some of her Mama’s heirlooms and she figured that Dale probably smashed them. She would have nothing to pass on, herself. The two of them moved on further North and Earl took on a job at a factory making Auto Parts. It was a niche occupation for him, Earl being good with his hands and he seemed happy with what he did. In time, they found themselves in a picturesque house in a quiet neighborhood. But also, as time went by, Earl began to spend time by himself, staring off into the night. She’d sit by him and he wouldn’t object, but she never felt like he wanted her there. Then he moaned the name Jolene.
Jolene was the woman down the street from Autumn and Earl. Earl hadn’t noticed Jolene. More and more, Autumn began to notice that he was deliberately not noticing Jolene. She was a stunning little thing and it made no sense that she was where she was. A girl with a smile like hers needed to be on the television. With ivory skin like hers needed to be selling skin cream. With a body like hers needed to be drapeed in fine jewelry and expensive dresses. Instead she worked at a diner, making truckers and factory men fall in love. She seemed oblivious to it, too. She strung her long, auburn hair into loose ponytails and it’d flutter in her wake, compounding her unreality. She was a dream made flesh, but for Autumn, she was becoming a nightmare.
A mild attraction is normal in a married man. Autumn understood that, her concern laid with Jolene’s interest in Earl. She’d seen her million dollar smile. She’d seen her flash it at Earl more than once. She’d seen Jolene, even if Earl pretended not to.
But there was another thing. Earl was a good man and he was a reasonable handsome man. He was better than what Autumn expected to have. Earl had saved her in so many ways and she had a singular terrible thought. She thought that maybe Earl was in need of saving now. She thought that maybe Earl had fallen into a life he hadn’t expected, trying to save her. Maybe Earl deserved Jolene for being such a good man.
Autumn had heard something in Earl’s voice that she had seldom heard. When he whispered Jolene’s name in his sleep, Earl sounded happy. He was a lukewarm man on most days. Not cold, but he wasn’t the type to draw attention unless he had to. But she’d heard joy in his voice went he muttered Jolene. She imagined the two of them being by each other in the diner, being friendly. Earl seemed to be the loyal type of man. She wished he was the loyal type of man.
Autumn sat, drying her tears while the tap pounded into the basin. The sun was washing burnt orange through the high bathroom window. The night had been set a fire. Some apocalyptic flames were crawling all over her life and she felt like she was choking. A single tear rolled down her cheek, but she bit back the rest. She dipped her hands beneath the flowing waters and splashed herself. She stayed very still, with her hands on her face. She took her hands away from her face slowly and it was morning. It was just the sun rising over the world. She opened the door and returned to her bedroom. Earl was still sleeping and she slipped herself back into the bed.
I crushed a mouse under my boot, I think. It happened on my way home the other night. The night was warm and smelt of hot garbage and it was a small thing the squirmed under my boot’s thick sole. It might have bitten and fought before it died, if it was a thing and not my imagination. If it was real and did fight, I would be inclined to respect it. I’ve always held respect from anyone or thing that died fighting. I don’t know exactly where I gained such respect, possibly because I hope to die similarly. Not crushed under a heel, of course. Such a fate would be horrific, but to die fighting would be beautiful. Of course, it would also be terrible. I had imagined for a moment that it was me, crawling on all fours and having my spine crushed in by some giant lumbering through the darkness.
The mechanics of walking means that the foot rolls, heel to toes. I imagine that the mouse would have ventured into the street, toward the trash smell, which would have mean unguarded food for it. I also imagined that the mouse got its tail caught under my heel. It might have had its tail caught many times before or it might have been the first time. It might have been a baby. In either case, it would have sensed the pain and thought to ran away, but it was pinned. As my weight moved forward, towards my toes, it would have turned to bite. Its teeth would have sunk into my rubber sole and its jaw might have been wedged and then ripped open. I would have never known either way. I had a sick urge to examine the sole of my shoe to see if there was a mark. Maybe an indentation or maybe a jagged bit of bone, but mice aren’t sturdy things and my boots are well made. It’s more likely that the mouse hadn’t altered the boot or me whatsoever.
Being such a small thing, the mouse wouldn’t have had too much blood to bleed. If I tried to find it in the morning, I’d probably find nothing. What my boot had destroyed, a car, a truck or another person probably would have gotten rid of. Such a miserable thought that something that died fight would never by known, not even by its murderer. It wouldn’t even be made into a trophy. The barbarians of old would put their enemy’s heads on pikes and wailed to their pagan gods. That would be horrific as well, but somehow better than being crushed and left to be accidentally carted away.
It occurred to me that a crushed mouse would be lucky to have part of its jaw be stabbed into its brain. It would die instantly that way and sent off to mouse heaven or oblivion. If its brain was intact, it would have to wait to suffocate to death, choking on its own blood. Or worse, its brain and airways might have been wholly intact, just all of its bones broken. Some of the breaks tearing through its flesh. How horrible would that be? If it did try and bite, its jaw would have been broken and it would have been near impossible to make whatever mice call a scream of pain. Wailing or whimpering might have hurried it to death, moving parts of itself that should have stayed still. Kept to that thinking, screaming would have been a mercy. Anything that killed it quicker would have been a mercy.
Lastly and most doubtfully, it might have died hating me. I didn’t know it, but it might have known me if a mousy brain could think with such complexity. It might have stared up to me, unable to do anything other than hate me. Of course, it would have been justified to hate me. I would hate it, were it the other way around. Would it know that I had slept in a warm bed while it slept on the cold pavement. Would it know that I had eaten my supper, warmed in the microwave, while the contents of its stomach had been mashed out of it like tooth paste from the tube. Would it know that I would quickly forget it and it would never remember me. Either by oblivion or by heaven, it would only have ever hated me for the time it was alive and suffering.
It was such a small thing, lastly least than a few seconds. Just a roll of the heel and toe and then a squish. I didn’t even stop to see what I had killed. But yet I’ve taken time out to rationalize what I’ve done. I won’t change in any way and it possibly won’t be my last kill. How could I change and step light around mice crawling in the dark? But still I rationalize and meditate on its death.