"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

31 March 2011


My father once made the heartwarming observation that the only thing worse than a streetwalker who found religion was a reformed drinker or an x-smoker. They can preach in ways that would make a doomsday zealot cross their legs and blush. Something, which could drive one to drink and smoke just out of spite.

I guess that's why I've tried not to go on to much about when I decided to abstain from tobacco. When I got past my drinking-to-excess-a-little-too-often phase, I also opted to try and keep my mouth shut. These were my choices, and mine only. I do not like when one tries to shove their opinion down my throat, therefore it would be wrong of me to do that to someone else.

With some amusement, I've noticed a great many of x-smokers who do speak say they do not miss it. Either that, or wish they'd never started. Here was this great evil that so consumed part of their lives in the guise of Joe Camel or the Marlbero Man. Horrible.

I never minded smoking. Oh, sure, having asthma made it not only slow-suicidal and a little difficult to breathe sometimes, but so can very cold days or being in a city when the smog is up, but I took it as part of the deal of inhaling something burning. I enjoyed the sensation of the smoke slithering through my lungs, watching the patterns it made upon the air currents upon inhale and exhale. There was the certain bond smokers have. Just like heavy drinkers, or perhaps heroin addicts.

Yes, I have that bit of the junky in me...

In the two and half years since I had the urging to abstain from tobacco, I have smoked now and again. Fuck, when I was helping my father move from the Rub 'al Khali of the badlands, we shared a pack of cigarettes a day, it seemed. I'll have a few with him when we visit. I've bought my father packs now and again, but never one for myself. Somehow, that would be defeat. That would mean I'm a smoker again.

But I do miss it. Like a junky, I can start to rationalize. One or two fags a day wouldn't be nearly as bad as the half to whole pack a day I could chain-smoke through years ago without an afterthought.

It comes down to the price to be paid. As I have said before; all things for a price is but the nature of the deal. Only cheap things can be purchased with folding paper and jingling coins. It is blood and karma that is the true currency of the cosmos.

The kind of cigarettes I like cost six in paper for a pack. That's a package of good tea. The fixings of a good meal. A budget bottle of wine for a social occasion. Perhaps even a few decent spices.

However, the reason I've not taken up smoking again, no matter how much I miss it, how badly I jones sometimes, hits me between the eyes and smack in the chest on walkabout. Those times when I take a steep grade at a brisk pace, wanting to get to a flat spot to take in the view. My breath becomes labored, the atmosphere turning to fire within my lungs. I get where I want to go, catch my breath, and take in my surroundings.

And somewhere within my psyche, I remind myself why I abstained from smoking, and the six in paper price for a pack is hardly the reason...

29 March 2011

Vampire Catharsis

"Oh the pain-
I ain't seen the sun
since I don't know when,
The freaks come out at nine
and it's twenty to ten" -Skid Row  

My last time in a juke joint was without fanfare. In fact, it was kind of unintentional. We had gathered at the Place of the Lennon Moon, sitting amongst all those portraits of musicians as we often did, talking, watching, drinking, and dancing. It was a subdued night, all things considered.

It was an afterward. The end of one part of the story and the beginning of another. A week before, we had all been sitting at Netherworld trying to come to grips with the fact Jibril had just died. I'd just returned form burying my father's mother in North Carolina. Apparently, I'd hurt the gypsy's feelings by insinuating she had no further reason to be in the greater metroplex what with Jibril gone, but she had hurt my feelings not long before that. Tit for tat, call it whim, unintentional as that all was. It seemed something was starting between Sabina and I that was far different than the close friendship we'd cultivated over the previous few years.

Madam Lung noticed that something was different between Sabina and I. She even spoke to that point. To a degree, we were attempting to exercise some decorum. After all, her ten year relationship with the musician had only ended a little over a month before, and my was-not-was with the gypsy and the curb-kicking had been two weeks prior. There seemed to be something about respect for the dead.  Or at least avoiding whisper games.

How the dragon woman spotted on, I no longer recall. It wasn't like Sabina and I were making out in the vampire den shadows. I'd done that sort of thing the past, and it wasn't without its amusements. But, I knew from experience such acts were of fleeting desperation. Something that started intensely and burned brightly, but than faded into something colder than the airless void between the stars.

"Look, I'm not going to lecture you," Madam Lung, one of the gypsy's best friends, said. "Did this happen before or after you left for North Carolina?"

"Somewhere around there," I said with a shrug. "This has been a strange time. I reckon we'll just see what happens."

Years and lifetimes later, with Sabina still putting up with my quirky paradoxically misanthropic ass, I think the answer to how that part of the story goes is obvious...

I had been avoiding the juke joints by and large. Avoiding the vampire cast. For a few years, I'd off and on been trying to work up my escape velocity. Wanting to go do other things and not be obligated to just one thing. When something becomes an obligation to me, it is excruciatingly difficult to find even the slightest bits of enjoyment in it. There had been nearly a year, in which I'd broken up with the jewel-eyed girl and all the Machiavelli that went along with that, the was-not-was with the gypsy, and the whisper games of the death throes of Sabina's relationship with the musician, that the vampire cast had gotten increasing like that, and there was not enough intoxicants in the whole of creation to make bearable again.

After all, I watch. I like to watch. But being within fallout, let alone shrapnel, distance of those bits of Machiavellian intrigue can get me to become just plumb indignant. I turn rather quickly when one tries to either get me to pick a metaphoric side other than my own, treat me as property, or drag me into a soap opera. Like a phantasm, I'm gone in the general direction of away.

Almost a week after that subdued night, some of the cats I still ran with spoke of smacking the Place of the Lennon Moon again. There was even offers of spotting me a cocktail or cover if I didn't have the paper. I'd been talking about taking a sabbatical. That I might be having a last hurrah amongst the vampires rather soon.

"Why don't we make last week our last hurrah?" Sabina suggested.

And just like that, over and done with. We've not gone to vampire den since. Although we still went to Netherworld now and again to hang out with the likes of Madam Lung and the gypsy, we dropped out of the vampire cast. Neither one of us felt particularly bad about it.

And boy, did I talk some shit after the fact. I would wax venomous about how I could walk into any of the juke joints and see the same five tossers dancing to the same five songs and the same soap operas still going on. Perhaps it was like being in a breakup and being in the I-hate-you-mutherfuckering phase, much like I was with the greater metroplex for quite awhile after I decided I was done with it and moved into the mountains.

But, like my feelings toward the metroplex, I find myself establishing an equilibrium with my time amongst the vampires. Being able to inspect those memories with reptilian objectivity, instead of rose-tint or traumatized venom.

There was a period roughly from about a month after my grandmother died to about thirty-third birthday, when the jewel-eyed girl stood me up, and our relationship began to really hit the downward spiral, that is filled with fondest memories. I think of times with Lee, Jibril, the bruja, Ophelia, the rattlesnake, the gypsy, Madam Lung, and Fu Jen Felis, and can catch a bit of a smile now and again. That was when I self-published. There were some good times.

Even though I was with the jewel-eyed girl then, my recollections of her hardly equate into those of my time in the vampire caste. Sure, that's where I met her, but it seems incidental. Something that happened as an aside and on a different level than the adventures I had on my own or with my friends. When she did show up, I might get lucky enough that she had enough gin and tonics along with the cocktails of prescription poison pharmaceuticals that she might act kind of like my girlfriend, only to vomit or cry after we copulated, which did wonders for my self-esteem, but that's another story. One, which should most likely be given its peace.

Yeh. As the wise man from South Africa once proclaimed over shots of whiskey; we're all messy. Indeed we are. We're all messy and we all have scars. Although, I am of the mind that the lucky ones are those whose scars are marks upon the flesh, and not the psyche, which lunges from the shadows late at night when the demons come for tea like a an ambush predator along some nameless African river or Rawhead and Bloody Bones from under beds and stairwells or in closets.

I have my scars from my time amongst the vampires, just as I have from other situations. Scars of pleasure and scars of pain. It's all part of how the story goes. I do my best to make peace with it and establish equilibrium, for I am a big believer in maintaining one's sense of balance. Late at night, when those demons come for tea, I pour a cup and own up.

Although, like the cliche, I know better than to never say never, I find it unlikely I could be talked into setting foot in a juke joint again. Years in the mountains have made me even worse around crowds than I used to be. Depending upon who you ask, Netherworld has all but become a bloody fucking sport's bar, which is just sad, because that was just a funky place. Still, things grow and change, such is the way. I know I have.

I find after so many years of gallivanting amongst the never-never nowheres of the pointy lands, I am establishing more accepting equilibrium with my ten years of being within the borders of the greater metroplex and the five of those I spent with the vampire caste. There is no further need for venom. It is no longer such a bugaboo within my psyche, and that's a good feeling. Cathartic. One that brings a sense of peace, which, I find language would do insult in trying to describe.

27 March 2011

Bite Back

Around the time my x-wife and were separating, I did not drink. Seriously. It had been just a few years before that my father's father had died because he never figured out that one's too much, but ten was never enough. I was in my early twenties, and one could not get something alcoholic down my throat on a bet.

Back then, with my marriage decomposing into ash, my little escape from reality was the weekly trip to catch the witching hour showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. That was my drink and drug and coping with a bad time. For however long that film lasted, I didn't have to bother myself with anything else. I'd just immerse myself in the absurdity of Tim Curry being a sweet transvestite.

There were vampires there. Too young for the juke joints, and not wanting to hang out over at Muddy's Coffeehouse, they'd congregate in the parking lot of the cinema house and do whatever it is vampires like to do when not being vampiric elsewhere. One silly practice got dubbed bloodletting, a blatant rip-off of the seminal Concrete Blond album of the same name, which they all took to mean the biting of random bipeds on the neck.

It was about a week before my x was going to move out when this one vampire, who really did not understand the virtue of bathing, and for some reason, was a little sweet on me, decided to sink her fangs into my neck. I was talking with my friend from the Philippines at the time. It was quite the shock. I stiffened and growled, but not in a happy way. When she was done, she bounded off to be with her friends like nothing happened.

"Nice hickey," my friend commented.

I stalked over to the nearest reflective surface to inspect the damage. See, even though, as far as I was concerned, my marriage was over and done with, and the legalities and all were merely a formality, I really didn't want to show up with a fucking hickey. It was a matter of decorum. I had resolved not to do anything or anyone until after my x was moved out. This made sense to me.

There was indeed a mark. A nice little bruise shaped like a particular vampire's mouth around my jugular. I growled again. I wasn't having this. This would not do.

I found the vampire by stench alone, grabbed her hair, and snapped her neck back. My friend from the Philippines would tell anyone who asked that my eyes were just about glowing when I growled. To this day, I'm not sure if that's true.

"My turn," I said just as I drove my teeth into her carotid.

I released her hair and clasped my hands behind my back, because I didn't want to touch her any more than I had to. Not to brag, but I do have decent strength in my jaws. I was not gentle. There was the taste of blood, and I would move my head side to side in a way that is all the rage with predators on the Serengeti.

Oddly enough, she seemed to dig this. Her moans, in fact, were like those of someone who was seeing gods they did not believe in. Not the desired effect. Sort of like the time I growled murderously at Jezebel and she just fanned herself and playfully asked me to it again. I felt like the wind was knocked from my metaphoric sails and was disappointed.

With a sling of my head, I spat the vampire into her friends, licking her blood out of my teeth. There were a few small punctures along the right side of her neck. I straightened and growled once more, and not in a happy way.

"We are even," I said, and then walked away.

That vampire's mark lasted but a few days, maybe a week. Thankfully, my x-wife never saw it. I would have loathed to explain it, figuring she'd not see the humor or bestial logic in the story. It was weeks, maybe a little over a month, before the damage I inflicted on that vampire started to fade. Almost a year later, when I ran into her at a souk, after helping her back up out of courtesy, she showed me where my teeth left scars.

"Whoops," I said more out of courtesy than any semblance of regret.

So, what's the moral to the story? You mean there has to be one? Is it required?

I supposed if I were to go with that expectation I could say; do not go biting me. Even and especially without my consent. See, I have a nasty tendency to bite back. I bite substantially harder. And not always in a happy way.

25 March 2011


My sister was sixteen, nearly seventeen, when she had her first date. It was the Father's day the summer before my daughter was born. I was out visiting to pay my respects and grab a free meal after an annoying stint as a check-out boy in a grocery store, before kiting back to the city to be with my wife at the time, who was expecting our first, and only, child.

Now, my brother was very excited to see me. Our sissy was having her first date. The boy was on his way to get her. I just had to stay until he arrived. My sister was a little tepid about this for some queer reason I've yet to ascertain.

When the boy showed up, I was in the kitchen. My father and brother met the boy in the driveway. My father is one of the few hominids that has ever intimidated me, standing just a few inches shorter than me, but outweighing me by at least seventy pounds with just that kind of bearing. He introduced himself with his full name and the type of handshake men give when exerting a subtle challenge. The do-not-fuck-with-me-and-mine grip that I only take seriously when my father gives it.

My brother, being the youngest, was only fourteen, almost fifteen. He still had his baby fat, and looked the part of the baby of the family. Young and cute, my sister and I will say to this day. He was harmless.

The boy got to the front door where he was greeted by my sister and received by my mother in foyer. My mother had no chin, and I am not making this up. Ask anyone who ever met her. There's nothing intimidating about that.

My sister led the boy to the kitchen, where I was waiting. She was excited about her first date and that both her parents and brothers were getting to meet her potential beau. I could hear her talking as she rounded the corner to the kitchen.

"And this is my big brother...oh shit..."

I was perched, quite innocently, wholesomely, on the counter, with my bali song out. Sharpening it. It was a cooler day, so I was wearing my graveyard jacket over my Ministry t-shirt. My hob-nailed steel toe boots could've used a spot of polish. I'd have not shaved in a few days and my hair hung loosely in my face. I looked over, through my hair, and with a predatory smirk and a chuckle, which carried a slight whisper of a growl, I said;

"How are ya?"

My sister didn't speak to me again for a month after that. Though, I cannot imagine why. Stranger still, the boy never came around again.


I'd not been back from the south and burying my father's mother an hour when I was introduced to a man my sister decided to have as her boyfriend. He was well-pressed with closely cropped brown hair. The most notable thing I saw was his pronounced canine teeth. Fangs. He looked slightly vampiric with those, despite the slacks and tie, but his bearing was much like that of a wolf. Protective to pack and mate. On a bestial level, I found I could admire that quality.

He shook my hand with the type of handshake men give when exerting a subtle challenge. The do-not-fuck-with-me-and-mine grip that I only take seriously when my father gives it. I chuckled, with the slight whisper of a growl and inclined my head, but didn't say much of anything. Sabina was there and I was tired, wanting nothing more than to go home and listen to music from Africa.

My sister came over for dinner, a few nights later. We dined upon most excellent Moroccan chicken with tomatoes and honey, and asparagus with flawed hollandaise sauce. As we chatted, she mentioned that her boyfriend was convinced that I disliked him. Something about how I must think he works for the Man.

Now, were I truly sadistic, I could've really had fun with that. Fuck with and monster the poor boy for lifetimes. I am not truly sadistic. I gave my sister a look, and with a predatory smirk and a chuckle, which carried a slight whisper of a growl, I said;

"Tell him I said; 'hi, Whitie.'"

I figured if he got the joke, he might just be worth keeping. That was four years ago. My sister and Whitie have been married almost two years. Their son, my nephew, will be a year old the day after Easter. Nowadays, if I address him by his given name instead of Whitie, he worries I am upset with him, which, when I think about it, gets me to chuckle.

24 March 2011

Fragment IV; Discussion in the Dark

About three miles north and east of Kim’s grandparents’ ranch was an expanse of nameless northern Arizona canyon. The stone was the color of rust and raw meat. One could drive to it, but, upon arrival, the canyon was only accessible on foot. It seemed to yawn away into forever, even if it didn’t exist on any official maps of the state.

This was Kim’s favorite place to go camping. As a gesture of growing friendship to Mofuko, he brought the young exchange student on one of his excursions. The spot Kim particularly loved was a shallow indention in the stone near a fresh water source. What attracted him to it initially was what was inscribed along the wall; pictograms, older than oldest memory in the region. No one knew who put them there, or when, of course. But Kim always took them as a comforting sign. Something that let him know the place he selected was safe.

“There are marks like this where I come from,” Mofuko told him, starring awestruck at the pictograms as he ran his large hands across the red rock. “The ancestors left them. Seeing these, I know my grandfather would say this shows how all things are connected.”

“Funny. My Grandpa would say the same thing if you told him that,” Kim said with a smile. The both them found that moment to be a defining one in their friendship.

Years later, when they found the red rock outcropping they would come to name the ruin, both them felt drawn to it. Although it was not in a desert canyon, both men agreed that it somehow reminded them of that canyon in northern Arizona. They both agreed it would be a perfect place to set up camp when in the field.

They were not disappointed. The ruin offered several sheltered areas from the elements, as well as spectacular vantage point in which to observe the plain. There was fresh water nearby, even in the dry season. During their initial exploration, Kim came upon Mofuko standing in a beautiful natural alcove. He was staring in awe at the wall, running his hands along the red rock. Carved into the wall were pictograms.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Kim said softly.

“Marks of the ancestors,” there was reverence in Mofuko’s voice, which only surfaced on very rare occasions.

“Your grandfather would say this shows how all things are connected,” Kim said.

“Funny,” Mofuko whispered, a smile slowly forming across his broad face. “Your grandpa would say the same thing if you told him that.”  

Ever since, when going into the field, they camped in that alcove. There was a running joke between them that were going to someday leave marks of their own. Kim often suggested the remnants of a tic-tac-toe game, saying it would puzzle future anthropologists for centuries afterward. Mofuko suggested a smiley face and the well-wishes of having a nice day. Whenever these schemes were mentioned, they were laughed at, but quickly dismissed. Part of it was the reverence for the nameless artists that left the first pictograms, but the other aspect, Kim would often say, was they had no carving tools with them.

The early spring observations did not take up too much of the day and the weather was blissfully mild. Both Kim and Mofuko knew Tiben would be ribbing them about their milk run. Because of that, Kim began to compose an alternate field log with stories of wild predators, marauding militants, horrible storms, and even aliens from outer space, attacking their campsite. His reasoning being that it would at least keep Tiben entertained, if not convince him that their expedition into the field had been more than a mere camping trip.

On their final night, Mofuko brought out meat from its specially sealed containment to cook for dinner. He also pulled out two cigars for an afterward indulgence. As was tradition, Kim pulled out the bottle of whiskey for their final night under the wide open sky away from everyone and everything before returning to Crossroads Station. They ate dinner as the sun was setting and cool breeze wafted through their campsite. It was dusk as they cleaned their dishes and lit their cigars. By full dark, the bottle was opened.

“Tiben must never know you brought whiskey for this trip, my brother,” Mofuko chukled.

“He gives me a hard time and I’ll tell him to quit being so damned British.”

“I am not sure that will work.”

“Why not?” Kim inquired through a liberal gulp. “We all harass Louis about being French, and Tibs calls me a Yank more often than he uses my actual name.”

“You have a point,” Mofuko said as he took the bottle.

They sat back, passing the bottle between them slowly and silently. Above them, the moon and stars slowly moved through their nightly dance. Perhaps it was the play of firelight against the rock, maybe it was the whiskey, but the ancient pictograms seemed to almost sway within the copper-colored shadows.

“Snobi and I were talking just before I left, my brother,” Mofuko said finally.

“You’re married,” Kim said. “I hear married people do that sometimes.”

“She thinks it is time to find a woman again.”

“We’ve had this discussion before, Mofuko,” Kim snorted as he grabbed the bottle. “In fact, we have it every last night in the field, but it was old the first time we discussed it. Maybe you shouldn’t drink whiskey.”

“Maybe you should consider it.”

“I’m not ready yet.”

“Kim, my brother,” Mofuko began, already knowing where the discussion was heading, but keeping it up out of habit. “It has been seven years.”

“It can be seven more for all I care!” He snapped. “I’m through with women.”

“Not every woman is like Rosemary. You would do well to remember that.”

“Can we talk about this some other time?”

“I just want you to acknowledge I have a point,” Mofuko said.

“Is it some other time already?” Kim snarled. He then took a rather long pull of whiskey and stood up. “I’m going for a walk.”

“Are you going to leave the bottle?”

“I think you’ve had enough, Mofuko,” Kim replied with another gulp. “But I haven’t.”

With that, Kim stalked off into the shadows. This discussion, this argument, had become such a staple of being out in the field, it was all but choreographed. He would be gone for an hour or so, sitting somewhere in the dark, under the stars, drinking whiskey. Depending upon the heat of the discussion dictated how much was left in the bottle when he returned to camp. They would then finish the rest of the bottle in silence. The next morning, breakfast would be made, they would break camp, and return home. It might be a week or more before they spoke again, but once that happened, the discussion in the dark would not be mentioned.

Mofuko never asked him about what he thought about of saw out there in the shadows of the field. Although he speculated it was on such nights Kim once more fully inspected his memories of his marriage to Rosemary, perhaps trying to figure out where things went so horribly wrong. It seemed like he blamed himself for her opium addiction and the attack, which almost got him stabbed.

The elders of Mofuko’s native village would sometimes tell stories about ghosts and demons that hid in the dark. To a degree, he believed in them. At least when they came to the ruin. They were of Rosemary. Those phantasms that Kim carried with him wherever he went, but it seemed they only truly manifested when Mofuko tried to talk to his friend about the prospect of perhaps meeting someone new.

“Oh, my brother,” Mofuko muttered into the shadows after Kim. “If only I knew how to help you let go of her.”        

22 March 2011

Basement Backflash

It was years ago, and we were all going dancing. Well, the others were. I was going to monkey watch in a den of vampires and contemplate whiskey. That particular night, we converged upon the Place of Greetings and Goodbyes. The juke joint was supposed to be a fall-back as the roof of another haunt was repaired, but that never came to pass.

In the years since, I have told my friends how much I despised that place. Sure, there was delicious irony of drinking and dancing in the basement of an old cathedral, but, eventually, the novelty does wear off. Other details are required to keep one's attention. None of those other details really impressed me to rocket science. I went because of my friends. Because of the jewel-eyed girl so many lifetimes ago. Because it meant something to all of them. There were other places I dug more and everyone knew it, but I am polite to fault, despite being a misanthropic cuntrag.

There was an hour at the Place of Greetings and Goodbyes of which one did not need to bribe the pierced girl at the door with a five in paper cover. That's when most of us showed up. It was a combination of youthful poverty and, well, five in paper? That's drinking money. We all had our priorities.

It was a spring night and Jibril and I walked in together. He was telling me about the uncounted attempt to make The Watchmen film and seemed a little excited about the prospect. I had a little extra paper and had offered to buy him a libation.

Since it was before cover, there weren't a lot of monkeys to watch, although there were a few victims for me. We settled into our usual corner booth and I drew up into a a crouch upon one of the pews, as was my custom. The music was a bit more esoteric that early on, and only a few vampires danced. It was entertaining enough as a sipped my whiskey.

Then the Executive Slacks tune came on. Jibril all but flew out onto the floor, lit up a fag, and started dancing. Out of the either, the gypsy appeared to dance with him. Both the bruja and Madam Lung came walking in. I felt a smile crossing my face. My friends were appearing, the evening was getting ready to begin. Memory serves it was a fun night, despite how I felt about the Place of Greetings and Goodbyes.


Jibril's has been gone four years and two days now. I still do not know how to approach the subject. Although, that Executive Slacks tune came to mind. Not for its context, but for its title. Something I find fitting. Twisted in its symmetry. 

21 March 2011

Losing My Religon

This is kind of personal, but fuck it, ya'll seem nice. Besides, we're all kind of like friends here, neh? What could possibly go wrong?

So, I have had a certain...appreciation...for accents. British, Spanish-as in from Spain, certain African and Asian, southern...not the hillbilly hump-your-cousin, but the southern belle. Oh yes. The first girl I ever fell in love with had a voice of moonlight and magnolias. To this day, I hear honeychild or dearheart in that certain accent, and my knees go all kinds of wobbly. It's kind of vulgar, actually.

Back the first summer I was dancing with the dead for money, one of my associates decided she was at least vaguely sweet on me. Maybe it was the hair. Whilst I didn't think she was ugly, there were circumstances in my life, which would have made going out on a date with her a bad scene. Even if those circumstances hadn't existed, as I told another compatriot somewhat jokingly, I might have only fucked her in an alleyway, not let her into my home. So it goes.

But, said vaguely sweet on me girl knew I had that...appreciation...for accents. Maybe it came up in conversation. I no longer recall. Once, during a stand of dancing with the dead for money, she decided the rest of the proletariats needed to know this.

"If you ever want to get him hot just say something in a southern accent," she said in a hillbilly hump-your-cousin accent. Nauseating.

I growled, and not in a happy way. As fate would have it, I had to ask her something about a case. So, I marched up to her desk, and dropped into a crouch right next her ear.

"Was it really fucking necessary to mention one of my fucking quirks in the middle of the fucking call center?" I hissed.

She turned five different shades of red, began fanning herself, and ran out of the room giggling. It was kind of funny to watch, actually. Tit for tat, call it a whim. When she was running out of the room, the overseer, who'd been out on a break was coming back in and gave me a look.

"What did you do to her?" Like this was somehow all my fault.

"Nothing really," I said with a shrug. "Other than provide an education on civilized behavior."

Fast forward about a year and half or slightly more later...

Somewhere around the time I'd helped Sabina, move the the Nostalgic New Orleans residence after her break-up from the musician, she asked me about the time I made that associate turn five different shades of red and why I snarled when a southern accent was brought up in the context of getting me hotter than Georgia asphalt. It was kind of personal, but fuck it, Sabina was nice to me. After all, she was one of my best friends at the time.

What could possibly go wrong?

It was the day after Saint Patrick's day. Depending on which side of a timezone one was on, my father's mother had been dead for at least a day, or perhaps a day and half. Time is an abstract, which moves differently for me. The next day, I was going to be traveling by air with my siblings to help our father bury his mother.

I had just sat down at my desk and was logging in for a stand of dancing with the dead for money when Sabina came sauntering up. Not but a week before, after a confusing and annoying phone call, I had made a remark about her having a shot. There was a glint in her big doe eyes, which shine like abalone shells.

"And how are you, Sir?" Sabina started, her talent for mimicry had given her an accent of moonlight and magnolias.

"You sick?" I asked her.

"No, Sir," Sabina said. "Why do you ask?"

"Because it sounds like there's something wrong with your voice," I said. There were pheromones in the air.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with my voice," she said, leaning closer. "Do you?"

And she went on talking. I think it had something to do with what we might go and do after the stand of dancing with the dead for money. Coffee or a shared bottle of wine or getting me ready for my trip to the down south, a sunrise away. Honestly, I wasn't rightly paying attention. I, instead, was concentrating on the sound of my talons raking across my desktop.

"I think you need to get the fuck away from me," I said. I was feeling...frustrated .

"Why, Sir, I don't understand why," Sabina said in that mutherfuckingvoice .

"You know, if I wasn't secretly in love with you, I'd stab you in the gall bladder right now," I said quite frankly.

And that's the moment everything changed...

Sabina's jaw went slack. Her back stiffened. There was a sparkle in those big doe eyes that shine like abalone shells. Slowly, a bit of a smile appeared.

"Really?" She asked in her own voice. My waxmoon reptile eyes locked with her's.

"Oh no, I've said too much," I said slowly and with an even tone. "But maybe I haven't said enough. That'll be me in the corner, losing my religion."

And if you were to ask Sabina about how we got together, getting on some years ago now, she would say it was all my fault. Some who shot john about me mentioning amore under the auspice of a serious, or at least somewhat comedic, wounding. She would mention that's when the trouble started.

Yet, I wasn't the one who came sauntering up to me with the come-and-get-me look in the eyes and all talking funny-like. I will often mention this. But, because it's all about balance, I figure it had to play out that way; she had to say something to me in a funny voice and I had to go and lose my religion.

Not like it was at all romantic. Just part of the story. After all, what kind of a romantic says they'll stab someone in the gall bladder for speaking in accent of moonlight and magnolias?

19 March 2011


Because of the abstract nature of time, as well as the observable factors, I've been quite all right with saying it's spring for the last two or three weeks. According to the calendar, the season's still got a sunrise to go, but that's only the equinox. I've dealt with blizzards on vernal equinoxes before.

During some recent hops down below, I've noticed buds appearing on trees, sprouting flowers, and green grass. I wore sandals for the first time in months not but a few days ago. The simple pleasure of driving somewhere barefoot brought a cheshire cat's grin to my face. I've seen more cats wandering about in shorts and sandals. The river flows freely once more and the Long Loch is starting to defrost. The ice fishermen begin to move on, finding colder climbs for their strange hobby.

The cliche here in the mountains is there's only three seasons; sun, snow, and mud. Mud being synonymous with spring. The dirt streets of our township are muddy as the snow melts. I've finally been able to get all the spots the hounds have used as water closets around the house during the long cold winter. There are the embryonic shades of emerald intermingled with the khaki grasses. More birds are starting to appear at the feeders, which intrigue the cats with predatory curiosity. It won't be long before the hummingbirds are trilling throughout the valley. The snow, which appeared around the beginning of the long dark, slowly recedes further and further into the shady spots. Seeing more exposed ground than snow drifts is always a happy thing. This passing winter, it seems we've gotten more snow than in the previous couple of years.

It has snowed, despite my personal decoration of high country spring. After all, this is the mountains. We are at over nine-thousand feet above the surface of the world's oceans. It can snow in summer here. But the few snows have not lasted long. Their dustings absorbed into the waking earth within a day.

Watching the world slough its seasonal skin is always nothing short of amazing to me. I catch myself getting restless. The longer days herald sitting on the porch or out back with the hounds, a book, and tea. Shorts and sandals. Longer walkabouts into the bush without so many layers or snowshoes. Grilling and bottles of wine under the stars by the light of the chimenea.

It is possible there's still another big storm before it's all said and done, this time of year being known for the heavy wet snows, but I wouldn't mind the minor storms. Perhaps just some rain. But I also know what will happen will happen and it's quite beyond my request or control. So, I sit back, listening to rhythms and rhymes of the cosmos, with a cheshire cat's grin upon my face, whilst enjoying how mud as sprung, waiting for the season of sun.

16 March 2011


It was a sticky early summer southern afternoon. Neither my father, nor myself, were particularly thrilled to be there. For different-but perhaps similar-reasons, we'd put North Carolina far behind us long ago. We were waiting, which was something of an insult, for one of the twin cousins, one of the twin dragons, as I'd call them, to come and unlock my father's mother's house, so what we could do what we came to do and be on our way

"When I came back to bury my father, I didn't know it at the time, but I buried my mother too," my father said. "What was reborn, was this creature named Aunt Rose, who was controlled by that family."

That family being the southern relatives. Some of which I'd not seen since I was fifteen or sixteen years old. In some ways, this was not an earth-shattering revelation. A little less than four months earlier, at the funeral, it was not about Mom, in the case of my father, or even Grandma, the case of my siblings and I, but Aunt Rose. We, her closest blood relatives, were the outsiders. My father, all but disowned upon her deathbed. Parts of the story are still missing; the full tale behind the sister. Why my father's mother, a devout, if not fanatical, Southern Baptist, found it so easy to convert to Methodist just a few years before she went to dirt.

There are a lot of things I don't know about the southern side of the family. Hints, allegations, and things left unsaid. Perhaps I should be glad for that, but I do get curious. Over the years and lifetimes, fragmented stories, mismatched puzzle pieces, have surfaced, but, as is the way of good mystery, for every answer, every clue, there are more and more questions. The mystery deepens. I would like to perhaps someday find all these missing puzzle pieces, but catch myself sometimes wondering, outside of the mystery itself, why I should even bother.

Perhaps that's because to find some of the answers I seek, I might have to go back down there and deal with demons, ghosts, and dragons all wearing topcoats made of human flesh. Monsters I'm related to. Blood, and blood is a funny fucking thing. Not to mention sometimes more than a little terrifying. Perhaps that's a commitment I'd rather not contemplate.

It is not a earth-shattering revelation to say I was never as close to my father's mother as my maternal grandmother. A friend of mine called me on it by virtue of monikers. Part of this was simple geography, being most of my life, I lived half a continent away. But some was choice, and perhaps even the fickle winds of fate, though I have a hard time believing in that sort of thing.

There are those who doubt me when I say time is an abstract that moves differently. And yet, here is the grandest example; as of this sunrise, for me, it has been four years since my father's mother died, getting the word from my sister within minutes of putting my daughter to bed. But, in the Confederacy, things happen hours sooner and later, and, officially, my father's mother passed into the bardo just shortly after the witching hour of Saint Patrick's day. I suppose it hardly matters. Dead is still dead, and you don't always get the luxury of walking away from that.

My father's mother was a fanatic, a bigot, and rattle-snake mean. There is speculation that she preyed for and upon one of my father's heart attacks. When I heard that, I wanted to eat her liver, but not before she saw what I did to the deity she preyed to in retribution. And yet, upon hearing the news of her malignancy, which devoured her entrails and lungs like insect larva in a host body, I found a profound lesson; the futility of a grudge. It hardly matters when it comes down to the brass tacks and bedposts. Besides, grudge entails giving an individual or thing power over one. Feeding a dragon. That lesson came at a very good time, although that is another story, which should be granted its peace. The price to be payed for this lesson was my father loosing his mother, and my siblings and I finding ourselves out of grandparents.

The other profound lesson I can take from my father's mother came from when I was twelve years old, and my sister and I traveled with my father's parents throughout the south. We ended up in Daytona, where my father's father bore witness to me eating a pound of crab legs, baked potato, leavings from everyone else's plates, and half a package of cookies. That next mourning, I awoke to see, for the first time, the largest body of water I had ever seen in my life.

"Grandma, is that the ocean?" I asked, awestruck by the lapping waves with no visible opposing shore.

"It sure is, honey," she said to me.

That was when she told me nightmare stories of a force held within those waters much more beautiful and terrible than an beastie from the depths. A force of primordial chaos, which knew neither malice nor compassion. It could swallow an experienced swimmer whole, just as easily as it would spit a newborn babe unto the shore. She spoke of this phenomena in the same revered tones as I'd heard her zealously speak of her god. She called it the undertow.

After a big breakfast and waiting an obligatory hour, my sister and I ran out to the beach, to play in the ocean for the the first time. We did not return to the rented room until the deepest blue of evening. My father's mother watched us go.

"Ya'll have fun," she called after us. "Watch out for the undertow."

So many years and lifetimes later, I see what profound statement that is. The undertow, that primordial chaos, is samsara, Mara, grudges and drama, and dragons to be fed. It is an important lesson as my maternal grandmother telling me it takes a bigger man to walk away from a fight than to get into one. I cannot help but chuckle ruefully at the irony that my fanatically Christian father's mother, who once got after my sister and I for considering the theory of evolution, was telling me at twelve years old to exercise mindfulness.

"Have fun...watch out for the undertow," she said.

...Don't you be worrying none. I have fun, for I like to be entertained. And I am exceeding mindful of the undertow...

...Thank you, Grandma...

09 March 2011

Fragment III; A Parting Shot of Naan

They ate in a relative, relaxed silence, enjoying the food more than the sound of one another's voice or the intellectual stimulus of which conversation could arouse. The mournful tones of the Sufi record afforded a comfortable backbeat, almost akin the songs of birds and chattering of insects when out in the field. It was only when more coffee or food was asked for that the pseudo-silence was broken by language, although, more often, they tried to simply gesture to what was requested.

Kim was not in any hurry, but he never was, despite his penchant for appearing suddenly. This allowed Mofuko to unwind a little. He was always a little high-strung before leaving, fearing he was either running late or had forgotten something.

They were only going to be gone a week. It was a simple trip out to the ruin to make a few early spring observations. Tiben had harassed both of them mercilessly about it two nights before at the cantina, stating the jaunt was more of camping trip than an actual field expedition. Of course, the term milk run came up in conversation.

"I hope you're not taking whiskey with you, Sparrow," Tiben mocked, his accent augmented by the liberal amount of gin he'd drank that night. "Whiskey's for the last night after a proper bout of fieldwork, not a bloody milk run."

"Now, Tibs," Kim shot back, "You know the only kind of milk out you can get out in the field is the powdered kind. There ain't a village for miles, and I'm not going after a nursing mother for cream in Mofuko's tea."

The exchange got Mofuko to laugh, nearly spitting up his beer in mid-gulp. Upon recollection, he found his coffee catching in his throat. Kim gave him a concerned look.

"It is okay, my brother," he said once he could speak properly. "I was thinking of Tiben."

"Milk run?" Kim inquired with a smirk.

"Milk run," and they both chuckled before resuming their meal.

They did not speak for the rest of breakfast. Kim gathered up the dirty dishes to wash. Mofuko checked his own pack and then went to check Kim's gear. The record ended and John Coltrane was put on in its place. Mofuko half thought of requesting some Ramones or Black Flag, but decided against it, knowing they would be leaving soon. He started to loose himself in the music at hand when he was pulled from his musings by a knocking on the front doorframe of Tangled Tree Manor.

"Kim Sparrow!" Her voice was that of sitars and soft flow of Mother Ganges. "Are you home?"

It was Ansouka. When she wasn't referring to Kim as the bird man, she, like Dilip, would call him by his full name. The other thing that announced her presence, aside from the knock, was the warm scent of fresh naan.

"Ansouka Chadry!" Kim called back, returning the joke of using full names. "Would my front door be open if I wasn't here?"

"There is no need to be smart, Kim Sparrow."

"Duh...I'm sorry."

Mofuko came upon them standing in the kitchen. Ansouka was looking up at Kim defiantly, despite being only half his height. Her bearing made up for diminutive stature. She was dressed in a pair of jeans and a sweater with her thick black hair pulled into a single tight pony tail. She seemed perpetually perfumed in incense and lotuses. The bindi and delicate gold nose ring stood out in contrast to her dark skin. It was joked amongst the circle of friends that she and Kim were secretly in love with one another, which was why they would sometimes antagonize one another the way they did. Dilip had more than once offered to divorce Ansouka for his friend, to which Kim would ask what he was being punished for.

"Good morning, Mofuko," Ansouka said without looking in his direction. "I trust you're well."

"Always," he said. "And you?"

"Until I walked into this house I was having a wonderful day."

"Does Dilip tape your mouth shut to get some peace from your incessant whining?" Kim asked. "Or is that why he drinks so much when we all have dinner together?"

"My husband does not drink much unless he is around you, Kim Sparrow."

"I actually believe it's more Tiben than anyone," Mofuko interjected. "At least that is what Snobi would say."

"Stay out of this," Ansouka snapped in a playful tone.

"He does have a point," Kim added. "That Tibs, he's a bad influence."

"Why am I here again?"

"That's a bit philosophical for this early in the morning."

"Kim Sparrow!"

"Hey, you asked the question..."

"I meant here," Ansouka growled, her dark eyes rolling. "In this overgrown treefort of yours."

"Because you wanted to wish two of your friends a safe journey out into the dangers that is fieldwork," Kim said, trying not to chuckle when Ansouka rolled her eyes once more. "And there is the matter of the package."

"Package?" Mofuko was curious.

He watched Ansouka slide a cloth bundle toward Kim. There were small tendrils of steam rising from the folds. Kim pulled open the bundle and held up a piece of fresh naan.

"I got you a present, my brother," he said. "You see, Ansouka Chadry is not a total bitch."

"And I hope you choke on the first piece you eat, Kim Sparrow."

"Thank you," Mofuko said, giving her a quick hug.

"There is no need to thank me. Just come back safe. I'd hate to have to comfort Snobi if something bad happen to you. As for Kim Sparrow," the amused twinkle in her eyes belied the malice in her voice. "Leave him to the scavengers."

"For you, Ansouka Chadry, I'm going to come back in one piece to grace your dinner table," he said.

"I will try to be excited," she said over her shoulder as she walked out.  

06 March 2011


I promise there's a method to my madness...

The first rapture I remember surviving was when I was fifteen years old. I was living down south, and some doomsday zealot televangelist started waxing 'pocalypse. He gave the date upon the calendar, even going as far as to give the time.

Well, myself and a few cats I knew at the time decided we'd bite. I remember vividly that day. I remember a few minutes before the purported end of the world as we knew it the Motley Crue song On with the Show was cued up, for REM's take on such things would not come out for another few months yet. This masterful DJing was supposed to coincide with the last judgment to the heartbeat.

The song ended, on cue, but the world did not. Nothing. Imagine the 'pocalyptic blueballs that occurred.

"Well, that was fun," the fucking indian said, breaking the curious and disappointed silence. "Who wants eggrolls?"

An hour later, that sangha was doing damage control. Something about misreading the omens. The deity he preyed to changed its mind or the angels, elves, and other fey got the date wrong. He was oh so sorry-as so many of his ilk were in those days-but he would make it right. He figured it out. The right day and the right time.

And I was there on that date. I waited in silence. Again, nothing happened. And this time, the sangha offered no excuses.

From this I took a few lessons; the first, was a reaffirmation of something I picked from my mother; when you get defensive, when you do damage control, you've fucked up. You're guilty, and you're trying to make excuses. An observation I have seen made fact too many times to count without the removal of clothing.

The second was institutionalized religion was full of shit. Faith is what you felt head, heart, and gut whereas religion was that dog and pony show you did to shut your family up because your views were far too alien. Anyone who claimed to know the will of god-any god-was a flim-flam man.

Bear in mind this was around the time of the PTL scandal. This was when televangelists my tiny world over were being crucified wholesale for fucking whores of Babylon in dingy backrooms whilst parting the credulous from their cash. To say Ozzy Osbourne took a little bit of sadistic delight in Miracle Man over Jimmy Swaggart's indiscretions would be like saying the sun sets in the west. A given.

In the years following, there was the Branch Dravidians and Heavens Gate. But, like those obscure raptures when I lived down south, they probably really didn't count. The big one had do with another decade, another century, another millennium, shedding its skin. Y2K was suddenly the big buzzword bugaboo monster under the beds and in closets to frighten one into getting onto the path of righteousness.

And on that new year, I was standing upon a balcony with my walkman, a mixed tape, and clove cigarette. The songs, which I cued with the witching hour, were REM's It's the End of the World of as We know It (And I Feel Fine) followed by Black Planet from the Sisters of Mercy. The songs played and the clove was smoked. Nothing happened. Not even a minor power outage somewhere. Like back when I was fifteen, I was 'pocalypticly blueballed.

I have had nightmares of a 'pocalypse as long as I can remember. Fire and brimstone in the form of mushroom clouds, which burn shadows into walls. Some might say I am possessed of visions. But perhaps it's because I grew up during the tail end of a war of ice between the empires whose totem animals were the eagle and the bear. Choose your superstition.

Having survived twenty-three years since that first rapture, perhaps I have grown a little cynical. The doomsayers do try awfully hard to prove their point, and backpedal magnificently when their ten-pence guess misses the mark. Those who are convinced the world will end because of the Mayan's sense of timekeeping is a recent, and amusing example. Lee, whilst sorry, sloppy drunk, tried to tell me something about that and the magnetic poles shifting.

"Bitch, please," I said, rocket-fueled upon Irish whiskey and red wine at the time. "I have lived through at least two raptures and Y2K, and you expect me to take this seriously?!?"

I had occasion to come across someone into Thelema who waxed 'pocalyptic because apparently Scarlet Woman didn't get down and dirty with the Beast in order to stop an earthquake. And all I could wonder was if the Beast didn't like her when she was down and dirty, did he like her when she was clean? The cat into Thelema did not appreciate my inquiry, which I might have found curious, had I not recalled the auspice of institutions and waxing 'pocalypse. 

But, because my hypocrisy knows no bounds, I know how the world will end, although I'd rather not be accused of being a prophet. It involves a giant ball of hot gas, which is not one's local politician, sangha, or pundit of choice. No, this is a celestial nuclear furnace, which is commonly called the sun.

See, a few billion years from now, the sun, Sol, the very star, which sustains this tiny world will expand, becoming a red giant. This will be a few million years after its baked all life as we understand it from the planet. As it expands, it will consume all of the inner planets. As a ham-handed validation of one set of mythology, our world will be destroyed in fire and brimstone. Of course, it is said, that fire and destruction is the very womb of creation. After all, the universe was created out of a cataclysmic explosion we have yet to be able to fully contemplate.

Ain't that a paradoxical mindfuck?

There is mythology that states Man cannot know the end of the world. I believe it's an Abrahamic story. All things considered, I can groove with that. Things would be awfully boring, and slightly fatalistic, if there was a definite date.

Of course, the terrifyingly sad thing is there are those who all but masturbate to the vision of  the end times. Whether it is perceived as a cosmic reset button, or, an excuse to do whatever because it hardly matters and we're all dead men walking, is but a philosophical bent. You can shoot a thousand holes of valid fact into their tin-foil hat conspiracy theories, and they'll not listen. They have their mythology, and they'd not have it any other way.

05 March 2011

The Other Bad Boy

It was my father who taught me how to cook. Sure, my mother and grandmother contributed, but the bulk of my culinary memories involve my father. There was a reason for this, certainly. This came out one night, after my mother and father had a...discussion. My father took my G n' R Lies CD and was playing the song I Used to Love Her over and over again. As we were making the meal, my father was explaining to me the divinity of cooking and the most important reason for me to learn how to do it.

"So you'll never need a fucking woman," he said.

There has been a joke over the years, with several friends, acquaintances, and otherwise; that I can cook, clean, I get my groceries, and do the laundry, one day, I'd make someone a wonderful wife. The only things I cannot do is sew, and I've yet to master ironing, but that would require me to have an article of clothing that needed ironing in the first place. Another joke is I have been doing metrosexual years before it was cool. Whatever. I just see it as the way it is. Why some of the cats I know think it's a big deal is a bit of mystery.

I'm not intimidating. Anyone who says different is either daft or trying to sell something. Still, sometimes I get lucky, and pull off the spooky moment. There has also been the rare occasion of not even trying.

An example of this was some years ago; there was this girl I was kind of sweet on. Thankfully, she was a little sweet back, because one-way love/lust affairs just suck. At one point, she told me I scared her. Of course, I asked her why.

"Because you're a bad boy," she replied.

After I got done laughing, I told her that was bunch of who shot john. Lee, who was at the pinnacle of man-whore ways back then was a bad boy, complete with punk rock attitude. That stereotypical rockabilly boy we'd seen a night before was a bad boy.

Me? No, I'm not the nice guy. I know me too well, I'm the worst kind of bastard with the morals of an alley cat. Be that as it may, I sure as fuck was not a bad boy.

"No, not like that," she said. "You're not a bad boy in the sense of needing the love of a good woman or needing to be fixed. You couldn't do the typical if you tried. You're a bad boy because of knowing how to cook and because you can take care of yourself. You don't need anyone, and half the time, it doesn't seem like you want anyone."

Interesting. Really. Someone I knew once sighted in the social construct of reality females will sometimes be suckered for playing the role of caregiver and nurturer. And here I take umbrage to the idea of being molly-coddled.

"I don't get to have you," a girl once said to me.

"That's because I don't belong to nobody," I told her, I think there was a growl in voice at the time. The idea of being anyone's property or territory has always made me uneasy.

It's true, though. I decide who I give myself to, and just how much. And just as I giveth, I can taketh away. That's more for my own self-preservation than anything else. These days, I have given completely myself to a girl who was just wacky enough to jump off the twilight end of the world with me.

When I think of bad boys, I think of Lee, at the pinnacle of man-whore ways back then, complete with the punk rock attitude, or that stereotypical rockabilly boy. I kind of chuckle when I think of the women that love them. Suckers. And of course, the nice guys, trying to save the poor hapless girls from those bad boys who will never change.

I remember that one girl saying I was scary. Because my father taught me things so I wouldn't need a fucking woman, I was some sort of dysfunctional bad boy. To this day, that whole conversation makes me laugh. Although, I confess, I sometimes wonder if there's not some sort of weird truth it.

Hmmm. The thought of me being the other bad boy? Or would it be the other white meat? Maybe it's all one and the same.

04 March 2011

Fragment II; Kim Sparrow

Walking past the Chadry house, he caught the scent of naan being baked. Maybe if he wasn't so busy salivating, he might have found it odd that Anouska was up so early making bread. Instead, his thoughts flashed to the dinner night gatherings that were held every few weeks between himself and Snobi, the Chadry's, Tiben, Louis, and Kim. They would get together in the late afternoon to make dinner and have drinks, sometimes going late into the evening at whoever's respective house. Other times, a few of them, most often Tiben, Mofuko, and Kim, would retire to the cantina for a few rounds and socialization with any of the other residents of Crossroads Station that might be out and about.

Their last dinner night had been at Louis'. Tiben had given Kim an album of Sufi music and both of them, after a few bottles each of red wine, had mercilessly taunted Louis for being too French. The next dinner night, a few weeks away, was scheduled to be at the Chadry's. With the scent of Anouska's naan in his nose, Mofuko could also imagine Dilip's famous vindahloo and tandoori chicken. Despite himself, his stomach began to grumble ever so slightly.

The taunting scent of freshly baking naan started to fade as Mofuko reached the edge of the compound. Here was a structure he had helped build. It was made to be in concert, not conflict, with the living earth around it. Part of the structure was dug into a small hill, while the rest was built in such a way around a massive, twisted, tree upon the hill's crown, as to look like it'd always been there. It was from the tree the residence took its name; Tangled Tree Manor. This was Kim's house.

From the open door, Mofuko could hear Sufi music being played upon a turntable. There was a warm glow about the place. It seemed more to be alive. When it was designed, Kim often stated he wanted it to be more grown than built. Given the fluid curves and scents of raw earth, fresh water, and the tree itself, mingling with the scents of spices from the kitchen, old books, and incense, most everyone said with a certain amount of awe that Kim succeeded.

Another smell greeted Mofuko upon entry into Tangled Tree Manor; the scent of coffee. Coffee was something of an indulgence around Crossroads Station. For some reason, it was always easier to get tea from the commissary. Supposedly, Tiben had made inquiries into this, but was never given a satisfactory answer. Most everyone else dealt with the circumstance as best they could. After all, Crossroads Station was rather far out, and because of that, some things, like coffee, were luxury items.

"I am here, my brother," Mofuko called as he walked into the kitchen.

Kim was standing over the stove. Both Ansouska and Snobi would sometimes call him the bird man because his surname was Sparrow. Mofuko, and sometimes Tiben, would chide that the bird he most resembled was a vulture, because of the fact he kept his scalp clean shaven. Out of all of them, only Mofuko and Snobi had ever known Kim to have a full head of hair, but they had also known him the longest. It had been lovely, thick, and dark. The kind Snobi used to say would help attract him a wife. But in the Kalahari he decided he was tired of it, and upon returning asked her to shave it all off, never in the fifteen years since to grow it back. Sometimes Snobi would suggest he grow back his hair, even just a little, as to get a wife, and he would remind her of the woman he was married to who became an opium addict that tried to stab him when he discovered her habit and threw her drugs out.

He was a tall man with a wiry build. From years of being out in the sun, his skin was the color of polished copper, which stood in sharp contrast to his jade green eyes. He didn't move so much as he would just appear somewhere. Mofuko often thought of the vampire film they once watched at the cantina in which the creatures moved so quickly they seemed to teleport. Although he did not believe in vampires, the film made him think of Kim.

"Glad you made it, my brother," he said over his shoulder. "I'm sure you can smell the coffee. I'm also making bacon, sausage, and eggs."

"It's a good thing I brought an empty belly," Mofuko said with a wide smile, his perfect white teeth standing out in sharp contrast against his ebony skin.  

"Well, do me a favor" Kim said. "the record's almost over, so go flip it over, and I'll finish getting breakfast ready."

"I am curious to know if you have listened to anything else since Tiben gave you this."

"I'll have you know I listened to both my Ramones and Black Flag records last night. Twice."

"And you didn't invite me?" Mofuko looked shocked. "Kim, I am hurt."

"I was going to," he said. "But after I ran into Snobi yesterday, I changed my mind."

"What did she say?"

"Nothing. She gave me a look when I told her I was going to be listening to old punk rock records."

"'A look'?" Mofuko repeated.

"Yes, a look." Kim said, shooting his friend an impish smile. "The look that told me she was going to go to bed the same time as you, so you might help her voice reach new octaves of operatic loveliness."

"My brother," Mofuko started as he walked into the parlor to flip over the record, his laughter barely contained. "you have no shame."

They had known one another for just a little over twenty years. Mofuko had won the chance to leave his native village for a year of being an exchange student. He traveled to Arizona. The American southwest, the land of John Wayne, Lee Marvin, and Clint Eastwood, was a place of myth and magic to him. A wholly different type of mystical than the one spoken of in the stories of the village elders. When he first arrived, he was acquainted with things that took away some of the glamor of tall tales of America he had heard growing up, but the stark landscapes near the reservations and the endless sky still fascinated him.

It was amongst the rock and sand and scrub, he met Kim. For all the mythology Mofuko held of America, Kim held toward Africa. They became mutual teachers in the realities of their respective homelands, and something in the demysticifications made both places magical once more, just in a different way. After graduating high school, Kim traveled to Kenya to visit Mofuko and was introduced to his grandfather, one of the village elders. The old man smiled at this tall, dark-haired boy with sun-painted copper skin and jade green eyes.

"It is amazing you had to travel around the world to find your brother," he told Mofuko. The bond the two felt toward one another was suddenly placed into words.

Over the years, they would travel the world together. Through marriages, Kim's divorce, and the death of Mofuko's grandfather, the two of them only grew closer. Sometimes, Snobi would tease that her adopted brother in law would one day steal away her husband. Although it was only a joke, Kim would reassure her with a warm hug and a kiss upon the brow, saying he loved her too much. After all, he would often call her sister. On the day of their wedding, he told both them not to hurt the other, lest he would feel inclined to hurt them.

Breakfast was on the kitchen table when Mofuko returned from the counter. Coffee, with cream and brown sugar at the ready, sat next to his plate. The eggs were scrambled and there was two links of fat sausage and four strips of bacon. Mofuko smiled broadly as Kim sat down opposite of him.

"My favorite kind of breakfast before a trip into the field," he said. "My brother, how did you know?"

"Call it a lucky guess," Kim said with a wink.

02 March 2011

Fragment I; Dawn at the Crossroads

*** Something I'm sort of kicking around. I'm not quiet sure if it'll develop into a full novel-length tale or a series of short stories. Maybe it won't go anywhere at all. It all depends on if the words keep coming. Roll the bones...***

As the sun crested the horizon, it painted the landscape the same shade of pastel pink as the wispy predawn clouds above. A slight breeze tickled the air and the low chirps of the first birds broke the silence of a sleeping world. Everything was a study in cool colors, waiting for the slowly rising sun to introduce warmer hues into the world once more.

Mofuko had been awake since before the sun. Before the first hints of light, when the world was still ebony and silent. When the stars still shown brilliantly and even the hushed sound of his breathing seemed to be a variable cacophony, offending the pristine quiet of the small hours between the latest of night and the earliest of mornings. There was a strange comfort he found in being up so early, watching the world change from darkness to light. A magic, which he could not put into any language he knew. Yet, he also knew many of the others had felt a similar magic in those early in-between times.

He finished his tea and placed the mug in the sink. It was still dark when he lightly kissed Snobi on the cheek to wish her farewell. She stirred only slightly, muttering something indecipherable he liked to believe was a whisper of affection. He liked to believe she was smiling when he kissed her, the way he knew she would once he returned.

In the space of moments, it seemed, the sun was much higher. Tiny details were becoming visible, both within his own house and the world outside. He could make out more of the structures, which made up the compound. The best word that came to mind when trying to describe the place was juxtaposition. Mufuko and Snobi's home was a simple, almost utilitarian unit, whereas Tiben's place was an elegant traditional Victorian style, which he meticulously worked on keeping up. The Chadry's place was apparently reminiscent of Delip's childhood home back in India, and Louis' looked like an experiment in modern art from a more arcane time. The cantina looked a saloon from an American wild west film and other buildings, ranging from residence to other functions, took on all manner of forms from all over the world. Then there was Kim's house that he would call an experiment in organics. It was this juxtaposition, of both structures and inhabitants, that gave meaning to the compound's name of Crossroads Station.

Shouldering his pack, Mofuko set off. Although it wasn't a long walk to Kim's, he'd meant to leave a little earlier. The darkness had stayed him. Consciously, he couldn't understand why. He was a grown man whom had faced dangers far more terrifying than silent darkness of night. Perhaps the answer was something more primal, or the whispers of a mostly forgotten story the elders of his own native village used to tell when he was a young boy to keep him from getting into trouble. Whatever the reason, he was later than he wanted to be, despite the fact neither Kim nor himself had set a definitive time to meet other than early.