"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

30 April 2011

Sypder, Spider

It was perhaps one of the most beautiful spiders I'd ever seen. A tiny thing, which looked like a tarantula. It was mostly black, with a dabs of white on its abdomen, front legs, and jaws. Tiger stripes and yin and yang. I reached down to pick it it up, since it appeared lost and confused on the walk. It was barely the size of my thumbnail.

"Hello, my pretty," I whispered as I drew it close.

We looked at each other for a few heartbeats. Two eyes to eight. Alien to alien. There was no fear.

I set the spider down on a fencepost. It would be safer there. Not all creatures that walk on two legs are as tolerant of arachnids as I. This is something I find sad, but mei fei tsu. Being vertebrate-centric is annoying, but certainly not something I can really do anything about.

The spider scampered down the fencepost quickly, disappearing into the budding foliage of a nearby sidewalk garden. There was no offense taken in the haste of its exit. After all, it was out hunting. I inclined my head slightly, in fact, because, I swear, I heard it thank me for helping it across the walk.

25 April 2011

The Rumor of the Alienist

"Did I tell you I'm seeing a shrink?" My father inquired.

This, of course, was peculiar way to start a conversation. For one, he seemed kind of thrilled about it. For two, I never imagined my father seeking the services of an alienist, being much more of the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps school of thought. My attention had certainly been gotten.

"No," my daughter said, exchanging a curious and confused glance with me.

"Well, I am," my father said with a smile. "We had dinner the other night, and we're going to the opera soon."

Well, isn't that just fucking perfect?...My first reaction. The thought/realization/being told my father is seeing someone. Shock and a little disgust. A sense of fear and loathing that would make Poe or Lovecraft cross their legs and blush.

Rationally, I know it's been a little over a year since my mother's death. My father is still quite alive. Anyone else in that position I'd be thrilled for, telling them it's about time. One should not go hide in hole, stop living, pining for a love who is long gone.

Rationally, I know my initial reaction comes from being a child seeing one of my parents starting to get involved with someone other than the other parent. Most likely, my shock is textbook. Cliche, and that thought in and of itself is a little annoying, seeing as I try to avoid cliches like malaria mosquitoes.

My brother, apparently, is doing landscape work for this alienist, and therefore asked my father not to fuck it up until he's finished and paid. I never caught my sister's reaction or opinion. At one point, I decided to ask my father something he asked me a few times when it came to women over the years and lifetimes;

"So, when are you going to bring this little girl around?" Because, yes, I am curious enough to find out a little more about this splittail. Of course, the only time I'd bring girls around my family, because it's my family, would be if I wanted to get rid of them or was considering marrying them, but that's another story. My father smiled slyly, but didn't provide me an answer. Here and now, it's just causal.

It was a little over a year ago, my father and I were talking by phone. Admittedly, we had both been drinking for one reason or another. At one point, he mentioned going out on a date with a woman, but not to worry. No one could ever replace my mother. She was the true love of his life.

"Remember, he's not trying to replace your mom," Sabina said to me later on, a reminder of that past conversation.

"That's good thing," I said taking a large gulp of wine. "I'd eat her fucking liver if she tried."

24 April 2011


Another old poetic attempt. The gypsy recently reminded me of this one via correspondence, telling me how I had given her copy and it strangely sustained her during a sojourn in Nevada...

Teach me to speak
in the riddle tongue of dragons,
Show me that twilight path
between light and shadow,
The middle path-
Where the angelic and demonic
work in concert,
Not conflict
Give me the strength and insight-
To see the true road
to behold and understand all things,
Do not let any tiny drops of monkey's blood
poison or blind my freshly opening third eye -8, June 2004CE/Year of the Monkey, 4702

21 April 2011


I met her in first grade. She didn't look like the other girls. Her skin was always very pale. Like chalk, ice, and cotton-candy clouds on especially warm days. She was skinny. Emaciated. Well-cleaned skeletons had more meat upon their bare bones. There have been few I have encountered I would say are skinnier than me, but she was one of them.

One of  the things I remember most about her was how she walked. Stiff and robotic. Every movement was excruciatingly rigid. Shortly after meeting her, I remember telling my mother this girl moved like a character in a film I'd recently seen. That character's name was C3P0.

"That's not very nice, to say" my mother told me. "She has something called muscular dystrophy. Like you with your back, she's put together a little differently."

I am not making any startling observations when I say children can be cruel, only to grow into elevated states of viciousness as they enter adulthood. If one has ever been brutalized growing up, certainly, they can spot on to what I'm on about. For such creatures, I've always loved the Mandarin term, si lai nan jen, which is that language's term for bully, but literally means; stern in appearance, weak on the inside. Having been bullied rather badly growing up, I find that term to be apt.

Yes, Carol had an affliction, which made her unpopular with the local kids, but I was the other circus freakshow. I have almost always been taller than those my age, as well as lankier. My eyes are too big for the rest of my face, and the way I sometimes look at other hominids can make them uncomfortable. When I was a sophomore in high school, one mob took to calling me Woodsy Owl because of my eyes. Until I was sixteen, I had a horrible overbite. There was also the fact of my twisted spine and learning disability, which landed me in physical therapy and special ed classes.

When not in school, the local kids, especially the boys, liked to come and play with me. I was the one with the wild and vivid imagination that could create entire other worlds in the various places we'd go to be children. Some of them wondered when I talked to the various other quadrupeds at my home if those other creatures weren't answering me back in tongues they could not even begin to comprehend.

But at school, I was retarded. I looked funny. I read books and talked to animals, sometimes preferring their company to those half-bald primates that walk upon two legs. I watched nature and science documentaries with as much attention and interest as I did cartoons. One of my friends was the girl with muscular dystrophy who walked funny. As a whelp, this hypocrisy made even less sense than it does now when recollecting it. All I knew was it hurt.

Carol was my friend and that was it. The honest one. There was no in school/out of school distinction. Sometimes, I wonder if she's not part of the reason the majority of my friends over the years and lifetimes have been female. Well, that, and the fact men can be such assholes.

We would play chess and read books together. I would tell her of the worlds I came up for the local kids. Places she could visit through my stories, but never frolic in with the others because of her condition and their brutalities. Once, we saw a cartoon version of The Hobbit and talked about it for days afterward. I, of course, thought it was pretty cool when Gandalf would get his mojo working.

"If I had magic powers, I'd make you feel better," I said at one point.

"I do feel better," Carol said with a wide smile. "You do have magic powers."

It's taken me years to even guess what she might have meant by that...

There was one day in fourth grade, when walking to PE, she began crying. Every movement had become painful to her. Even standing. I gave her a piggy-back ride to the gym. Shortly thereafter, she had twin crutches and her movements came to remind me of an otherworldly creature from another film I'd recently seen; a landstrider.

"Please don't ever say that again," Carol said when I made the observation to her. I'd not meant to hurt her feelings, but I did, and I still feel bad about that to this day.

By fifth grade, Carol was sentenced to a wheelchair. First, a manual one, then a mechanized thing with three wheels. Her breathing became more labored, our interactions less frequent. She was in the sickhouse a lot. I remember she was on the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon with Jerry Lewis. Being that close to someone famous meant nothing to her.

The last time I remember seeing her, she was on an oxygen tank. We played chess and I had to move her pieces for her. I was twelve and in sixth grade when she was put on the iron lung. It was close to Easter when the news came. I'd just gotten home from school and my mother was waiting for me in the kitchen.

"Carol's dead," my mother said.

"Oh," I said, the full reality not setting in just yet, perhaps. I'd grown up on a farmstead, I'd been intimate with the miracle of birth and the inevitability of death for many years by then. My grandfather, the first human death I dealt with, happened when I was eight.

"Do you want to talk about it?" My mother asked me.

"No," I said, and I walked to the irrigation ditch at the back of my family's property with Kira, my Labrador Retriever. We sat in silence until my mother summoned me for dinner. The whole time watching the sky and world around me, trying to understand that a friend of mine, someone two months older than me, was dead.

I didn't go to the funeral, but I was at the wake. Carol's parent's put on brave faces and said nice things. I was given a hug and thanked for being her friend and for that time I carried her on my back when she was in too much pain to walk. At one point, I wandered into Carol's room and my eyes fell upon her chess set. My memory strobed back to when I told if I had magic powers I'd have made her feel better.

"I do feel better...You do have magic powers."

If I did have magic powers, then why was she dead? Why couldn't I get my mojo working to bring her back?

It was the first time I ever shed tears for someone who walked upon two legs...

Carol's been gone a little over a quarter century now. I don't think about her that much. In fact, sometimes years have passed without her entering into the mathematics of my thoughts. Perhaps that's awful of me. Maybe it means I have accepted the circumstance and moved on. It could be it doesn't matter, because dead is still dead, and you don't always get to walk away from that.

With the prism of years and the revisions of memory, there are a thousand lessons I can glean from my friendship with Carol. Rationalizations, perhaps. They might even all be true. Even and especially the lies.

Yet, when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts, at its most clinical and reptilian, Carol was a childhood friend. Knowing her has most likely affected and shaped me in ways I'll never be able to fully comprehend. For someone who likes to know and learn and understand things, who finds joy in solving the little riddles and mysteries, I try to make peace with such an observation.

And on occasion, I remember how she told me I had magic powers, because she did feel better that day. There are times, I think I know what she meant by that. But sometimes, I wish I could get my mojo working to make it where she was better in the context of not being sentenced such a treacherous and imprisoning shell. Perhaps that would be the most amazing magic trick of all.  

18 April 2011

Neon Night

The building had stood for a very long time. It was unlikely anyone knew what it was originally used for. In the years of chaos and renewal, it served many functions. Its current incarnation was that of a juke joint.

As he stepped through the front door he was greeted by a wave of industrial war beats with a melodic undertow. Multi-colored lights strobed across his vision, making it difficult for his eyes to adjust to the overall darkness of the club.

Next came the smells; liquore and smoke. False fog and vinyl. Leather and lace. Perfumes and hairspray. Pheromones and sweat. Sometimes, the familiar scents were of comfort to him, a touchstone in the shifting of flashing light and shadow. On other occasions, it was a stench, making him wonder if the creatures the smells emanated from knew how to bathe.

"There's a cover, man," the doorman, a brain-damage case, who's voice was slurred by bad wiring and a few drinks, said.

His eyes narrowed and something, which might have sounded like a growl, rumbled in the back of his throat. He fished a few paper bills from his pocket and all but threw them at doorman. Something that might have been a greeting or goodbye came from his lips, but it was too inaudible to tell.

Once inside, he purchased a beer. A mild intoxicant. Part of him thought it was amazing that water and fermented grains could produce the effect they did. It was a trivial thought, a distraction, which occupied his mind until he turned his gaze on the crowd.

Vampire children and death-rock kabuki dolls pranced and cavorted to the music. Their movements reminiscent of a knotted ball of serpents in mating season, or some long-lost and half-forgotten tribal shuffle. His eyes would settle on one dancer, with somewhat interesting plumage, if for only a heartbeat, before moving on to another.

He was looking for something, but he wasn't sure what exactly. His coming to to the juke joint had been done half on impulse. Sometimes, he joked, gods spoke to him. Disjointed whispers. Sometimes, he rationalized, he was given riddles and puzzles to keep him Holmes-like interested in the world around him.

It was one of those disjointed whispers that brought him here. He knew he was looking for something. Part of him wondered what it was or why he was there in the first place, unless it was to alleviate a sense of boredom. He reminded himself he was called to the establishment, as it were. It was either that, or he was playing a nasty mindgame on himself.

16 April 2011

Catch as Catch Can

An attempt at a poem I did once. Try not to laugh too awful hard, neh?

Catch me if you can-
But how can you place the wind
inside a bottle?
How can you hope
to hold hands with a shadow?

Have you ever spoken
to a man who has forgotten words?
That's someone after all
you really should to talk to

Can you run?
Such a question
is academic,
When in all actuality
you should be asked;
Do you know
how to walk?

To look?
To listen?
To breathe?
To live?

Catch me if you can...-2009CE/Year of the Ox, 4707 

13 April 2011

100 Words; A Lesson in Language

Perhaps, the greatest bumpersticker I ever read;

"You're in America! Now speak Cherokee!"

Oh, yes...

It reminds me of being in a fast food joint, back in North Carolina, when I was sixteen, when a very large redneck, a mountain of a man, told the fucking indian if he didn't speak the language to get out of the fucking country. The fucking indian, filled with sixteen year old arrogance, didn't flinch when he looked the very large redneck dead in the eyes saying;

"Go the fuck back to England!"

And that's why he was once one of my best friends...

***The Concept behind the whole 100 Words was, to the best of my knowledge, started by Mr. London Street, http://mrlondonstreet.blogspot.com/, and is carried on with some frequency by a host of other British storytellers, as well as one from Slovenia, of whom I admire***

12 April 2011

Origami Rescue

Apparently, the boy, eighteen, nineteen, if he was a day, had his day in court up in Glenwood Springs, a far ways from home. Home being somewhere down below within the borders of the greater metroplex. Supposedly, his father was going to make sure his son's vehicle was adequately fueled for the journey, but this did not come to pass. The boy coasted in on fumes.

All he needed was just a little fuel. Just enough to get him down the hill. Back to down below. Back to home. His phone open-whether connected or ready to dial, it was unclear-providing a line to his father, who would pay for that little bit of fuel by credit.

"I'm sorry, I can't do that," the attendant said. "I need the card or cash right here."

"But he's right there!" The boy exclaimed desperately, pointing to his phone. "He's willing to pay! Please! I'm out! I'm stuck here!"

"I can't do that here," the attendant insisted, there was empathy in her voice, but this was beyond her power. "Have you tried anywhere else?"

"I've tried everywhere..." the boy said in a small, broken, voice.

A single tear ran down his cheek. He had the bearing of disappointment; people let him down. Creatures that walk upon two legs. His father, the attendant, and, apparently, others. It was a feeling I knew vividly.

I am not a nice man, let's just make that clear here and now. In fact, in the past, I've described myself as the worst kind of bastard with the morels of an alley cat. Fuck with me and mine, and I will slice you neck to nuts, either literally or metaphorically. So it goes. Anyone else who would tell you different is either daft or trying to sell something.

Seeing the boy, eighteen, nineteen, if he was a day, shaking and on the edge of tears, all but broken beneath the blade, was something I could not abide...

"Here," I said, reaching into my pocket. "Twenty for him, right now."

"Really?" The boy was gobsmacked.

"You should give him your address so he can pay you back at least," the attendant said.

"No worries," I said. "It's altruism. Give him twenty, end of chat."

"Are you sure?" The boy asked me.

My waxmoon reptile eyes, too big for the rest of my face, narrowed. A slight growl issued from my thin lips. The boy started a little. He might have had more meat on his bones, but so do thousand year old dessicated mummies, and I towered over him by at least a foot.

"Keep your ass out of trouble," I said. "End of chat."

"I will, Sir," he said, all but bowing. "Thank you."

 The attendant would tell me a few minutes later that was nice. I did a good thing. Whether I did or not, the concept of nice, was not far from relevant in the heat of the moment. I knew the boy's disappointment for those who walk upon two legs.

There is part of me, cynical perhaps, but I doubt it, given I've neither a cynical nor sarcastic bone in my body, which questions whether or not it was all an act as to scam some for fuel upon another's coin. Yet, there's another aspect, Pollyanna, perhaps, that knew the look and bearing. It was all too...real...to have been on the grift. Between the two, I know the likelihood of me ever seeing that twenty again is akin to hitting Alpha Centauri with a rubberband, although I do sometimes try.

In the end, paper makes no nevermind. See, I hate money. I don't care too much for money, because money can't buy me love or any of the things I really want.

Although, I collected a story. And that to me is far more precious than folding paper, jingling coins, rubies, or glass beads.

11 April 2011

Bittersweet Day

The mourning was clear and crisp. There was a slight nip in the air, carried by the breeze, a residual of a day before's flurries. The light dusting of snow along the tiger striping of khaki and early spring grass was fading into phantasm even as it was being perceived. Not even a rumor of a cloud marred the turquoise blue sky. It was bright out, the sun reflecting off the snow along the high peaks.

The hounds were all out doing their thing. Two of the cats were out, stalking near the bird feeders, looking for an easy mark. Jungle rules. I took notice of the crocuses and daffodil sproutlings along the east side of the house. I found myself smirking as I looked across the valley at my personal Kilimanjaro, majestic as always. Whistler, my canid shadow,  came up to sit beside me and a scritched behind his ears.

"And we fucking live here!" I whispered, a mantra I invented for living in the mountains. Whistler made a loud chomping noise, his way of showing approval.


Sabina and I share many anniversaries. So many, in fact, I have joked about commandeering an entire month off the calendar just for me and her. This mourning, the mourning I have just described, marks the anniversary of us taking possession of the House of Owls and Bats, and realizing our dream of moving to the mountains. Our own Kashmir.

It's been a wonderful few years, filled with adventures and stories. Such is the way. Even now, there seems to be a dream-like quality to it all. Whether that's because of the landscape itself or my own wiring I've yet to figure out.

However, as sweet as this day, there is a fair amount of bitter. Such is the way. For every blessing, there is a corresponding cures, and even good deeds carry a set of consequences. It's a matter of balance, after all. Fire and water. Light and dark. Chocolate and peanut butter.

There was the matter of the monkey's paw blood money from my father's mother. It was disturbingly auspicious I finally got all of that about the time Sabina and I decided to buy a house in high mountain valley I refer to as our Sahel. When we first moved here, there was one neighbor who would constantly mention how they had wanted to buy the House of Owls and Bats, but we beat them to the punch. It got tiring quickly.

"Yes, but we got it," I said once in an annoyed tone. "And all it took was my father loosing his mother and me loosing my last grandparent to stomach cancer. Isn't that something? A mere trifle. And, by the way, did you know she begged her messianic figure for death right before the end?"

Sadistic of me? Perhaps. But it broke the neighbor of sucking eggs. The rest of the time they lived in this funky mountain township they never spoke to me of having once wanted to buy my house again.

My mother was a mortgage broker by trade. She was the one who was perhaps the most instrumental helping us acquire the house. This was all happening when she first took ill. On the day we took possession, my mother, recovering from a bout of radiation treatment, called in to conference with us as we signed our names in black India ink to several documents that I wondered if they were made of vellum or human flesh, and as to whether we were signing away the souls neither one of us are sure we have.

The last time my mother came to house she helped me acquire was in the waning days of summer, only a few months before the malignancy that consumed her took its final bites. She would always let me know how proud she was of me, and how it seemed life for me was going pretty well the way I wanted it. It would be trite to say I wish she could have come up one last time, perhaps most because I'd most likely want another several last times after that.

A late summer later, my father, sister, brother, daughter, and I scattered her ashes along Waldorf Pass. I read the requiem. As is the custom of birds to fly, the spot is but two or three miles from my front door. Were I to take a walkabout there, I could probably reach the spot in a few hours. Every so often, I consider this. Most the time, when I look at ridge line, I smile bittersweetly, knowing my mother's not too far away, but an impassable distance all at the same time.

This year, however, the bittersweetness that weighs most heavily upon my mind is the bruja of my acquaintance. See, the day we took possession of the House of Owls and Bats was her birthday. She was one of the first of our friends from the greater metroplex to pop by for a visit. It seemed at times she was the most supportive of our scheme to come up here, instead of silently thinking we'd both gone mad. This year, she would have been thirty-eight, being seven months younger than me. The life she carried in her belly when the accident occurred would have been a month old. The whelp was supposed to be named for Jibril. There are times when I can almost find irony in the circumstance. A rueful twisted substance I've yet to even be able to address with any kind facial expression other than a scowl.

So, I sit back with a cup of hot mate and take in the day. The bitter and the sweet. Having the belief in balance that I do, I do not think one could exist without the other. Melancholy, acceptance, and euphoria play through my psyche as calliope of shifting emotion. So it goes.

My waxmoon reptile eyes drift out the parlor window toward that particular peak I refer to as my personal Kilimanjaro. That peak has stood for millions of years. It will be here long after I'm gone. I find solace in that. One day, I will stand upon its summit. Looking upon my personal Kilimanjaro, I cannot help but smile, the whole time thinking; 

...And we fucking live here!...

05 April 2011

Hero of Love

I have never doubted that my parents loved each other, and I have borne witness to one too many of their more vicious fights. Through it all, in the almost thirty-eight years before my mother died, they stuck together. They were hopefully devoted to each other.

"We are strange and wonderful," my father used to say. "She's strange and I'm wonderful."

For as long as I can remember, my father has had ice white hair. It started changing to that hue when he was twenty-four, and was finished when he was thirty. There have been those who have cracked wise and asked what I did to him. My response was always that his hair color was the farthest thing from my fault and perhaps my mother should be queried.

Back when my mother first got sick and started treatment, she experienced a little nausea and another nap than usual, but she was doing all right. My father said she was full of piss and vinegar. The same piss and vinegar that sustained her for eighteen months. Back then, she was still keeping herself active; going to get hay and working with her dogs. It gave us hope. Back then, in talking to her, she didn't sound like anything was even remotely wrong.

My father would relate all of this to me over the phone. He told me of taking her to one of the sickhouses and wandering through the monoliths of downtown whilst my mother was treated. My father told me of a particular bit of business he engaged in on my mother's first day of chemotherapy. Something he found important and the right the thing to do.

My father went calling on a barber. And that barber cut my father's ice white hair off. All of it. My father had a buzz-cut.

"Your mother's probably going to start loosing her hair and I wanted to show her that you could be bald and still be pretty," my father said that day, three years ago now. Then, because he is my father, he went on to say; "And I look pretty goddamn good!"

Call me simpy and accuse me of wearing pink by choice if you like, but that's the sweetest thing I have ever heard of anyone doing...

I am not romantic, and have never claimed to be. Anyone who would tell you different is either daft or trying to sell something. However, if I ever decide to try being romantic if I grow up, I want to be just like my Dad.

03 April 2011

Fragment V; Kissing the Nightmare

Rosemary Collins was a girl with short black hair who had moved with her family from the very heart of New York City. She smoked clove cigarettes and listened to bands like The Cure and Depeche Mode. But perhaps the most striking thing Kim remembered about their first encounter were her eyes; shimmering pools of liquid obsidian that reflected nothing.

Some of it was adolescent arousal; he was eighteen and she was from a far away and cosmopolitan place, making her strangely exotic. Some of it was the fact he was simply curious, remembering that old saying of eyes being the windows to the soul. He wanted to know kind of soul resided behind eyes that did not reflect.

How he got her to go out on there first date was something of a miracle. She really didn’t come across as the type of girl one could take for a starlight picnic in the desert. The rustic seemed to be repellant to her. There were others at the high school, marrying themselves off and naming future children long before graduation, of whom she looked at as though they were lower. She’d gotten the same look and dismissing attitude when going to the reservations, though whether it was just dismissed in and of itself or not noticed was open for debate.

“Please tell me you’re not like that,” she said to Kim that fateful night under the stars. "Wanting to get married the second you graduate.”

“Not really. I’d like to get married,” he confessed. “Just not yet. I have to get to Africa first.”

“Africa? Really?” Rosemary seemed rather intrigued, and inched herself closer to him. “Is that because of your friend from Kenya?”

“Mofuko? Partially. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa. I guess maybe there’s something for me there.” Kim gingerly reached over to put his arm around her shoulders. “I’ll get there someday.”

“I’d love to go with you,” she whispered, the cinnamon from her cloves made her breath intoxicating.

“If you do, I’ll marry you,” Kim whispered back, and they shared their first kiss.

Although he’d never believed in fate, in that moment, he caught himself not only wondering, but hoping. Years later, in the center of Mofuko’s native village, Kim kept his promise and married her. Mofuko’s grandfather officiated the ceremony, if terms like officiate and ceremony could have even applied. Even so, they were so happy. So in love. It seemed almost like a fairy story.

“That was your first mistake, Sparrow,” Kim hissed into ink shadows of the ruin, taking a pull of whiskey, and doing his best to approximate Tiben’s accent. “You married your high school sweetheart. Idiot!”

It was hard to tell when the first cracks in their fairy story love affair began to appear. Being in far-flung locals where Kim would do his fieldwork bored Rosemary. She craved the excitement of cities. More to the point, big cities north of the equator, north of the African side of the Mediterranean. To get amongst throbbing masses of humanity thrilled her in the same way great expanses of nowhere excited him. The opposites that once attracted them began to repel.

Then he found the opium. It was only in later times he would question as to whether she was completely honest when he confronted her about it. They talked and yelled and cried. In the end, Rosemary promised she would stop. Kim promised, since she had gone with him to Africa, he would stand by her.

Ansouka was cleaning the house Kim and Rosemary shared before the building of Tangled Tree Manor, when she came upon the stash of opium. She had never fully liked or trusted Rosemary, but was polite because she was Kim’s wife. Therefore, it was Kim who saw the evidence first.

“Maybe it’s old stuff,” he muttered, not fully believing his own words.

“Kim Sparrow,” Ansouka said. “We both know better than that.”

He wasn’t going to go for the metaphoric strike two. Instead, he threw the drugs away. When he saw Rosemary once more, he wasted no time confronting her on it. Their ensuing fight echoed throughout Crossroads Station.

It was at some point, in a fit of rage, she grabbed the chef’s knife, and lashed out. Although she missed, the blade did knick the left side of his chest. Never in his life had Kim been so angry. When she tried to come at him again, he reacted.

In the years since, no matter how hard he tried to forget, no matter how much whiskey he drank or didn’t, he could vividly remember the sound of impact, the sensation of the back of his fist against Rosemary’s jaw, the sight of three of her teeth flying from her mouth in a spurt of blood. As she crumpled to floor, all he could do was stand there, shaking in a combination of fear, anger, and disgust at his own actions. The reality of what he had just done seemed so…unreal.

She looked up at him. He wanted to say something, but the words wouldn’t come. Something about her changed in those moments. The expression on Rosemary’s face, the look in her non-reflective eyes, was one of a feral animal just before it attacked.

“You bastard!” She hissed. “I’m going to fucking kill you!”

Kim could never clearly remembered what happened next. Even as Rosemary started to get up, Mofuko and Snobi suddenly appeared, pulling the couple away from one another before anything else could happen. Kim would later find out that Tiben all but tranquilized Rosemary and Dilip and Louis got her away from Crossroads Station that very night, never to return.

He asked and begged for whiskey while Mofuko checked the cut on his chest. He wanted to get drunk and forget. He wanted to quell the monstrous rage that had caused him to strike his wife.

Although the circle of friends all knew better, Rosemary would try to tell anyone who’d listen that Kim hit her so hard she had to have her jaw wired. What was most hurtful about this was when she said that to his grandparents. Kim’s grandfather, a man who seemed to be hewn from the very Arizona landscape where he lived, who was perceived as every Western film hero rolled into one, was furious. He almost disowned his grandson. It was Mofuko who explained what happened and changed Kim’s grandfather’s mind.

“What would you have had him do? Should he have stood still and let her stab him to death?”

Kim thought of all these things as he drank whiskey in the dark. Guilt and fear pelted his psyche like harsh rain. Over the last seven years he had dealt with the loss and betrayal, but he still feared that anger. It was why he refused to even look at a woman in that way, fearing if Rosemary had brought him to the point he could lash out, so could someone else. Despite what his friends said or thought, he did not want to take the risk.
“They’ll never get it,” he muttered to the silent shadows.

There was still a little less than half a bottle left when he finally returned to camp. Mofuko was sitting by the fire, as he always did, the dancing flames making him look as though he was carved out of onyx. As always, no further words passed between them, just the bottle. They sat up for another few hours before retiring for the night. It would be an early morning for them, getting up, having breakfast and breaking camp before returning to Crossroads Station. Kim found himself somewhat excited at the thought. He found he wanted to go home.