Undead Battlefield

I made a quick call to Julia before going back into the club. It didn’t ring once, went straight to voicemail. “This is Julia, sorry I missed your call…..” I hung up.

I went through the back and cracked open a beer on the way to stage. Bobby, the stage manager, stopped me. He clanked his bottle against mine and said, “Give me a great show!”

“I’ve got something special for you tonight,” I said.

“Gonna take me out back and fuck me?”

“Something better.”

“Can I fuck you wife?”

“How about you sit back and enjoy the show like you always do and keep the crowd under control, like you always do.”

“I’m flattered that you think I do my job even half the time,” he said. “How do you like the new guy?”

“I like him just fine.” I lied.

“You know I worked real hard to get him for you, real hard.”

“Yeah, I know Bobby.”

“I just want to make sure you know I do my best to make your job easier, to take care of you.”

He sounded so full of shit. “I appreciate it.”

The new guy was some pretty boy from California. He had a killer voice, which was all that mattered, but he gave me the creeps. We perform five days a week at the same joint and always get drinks after the set but he never stays. Antisocial I guess, and that makes me not trust him. He barely talks and smiles all the time but never laughs and he does this thing where he’ll tell a joke and right at the punchline take two steps towards you and get in your face and stare at you hard, real hard, searching for a flash of a smile somewhere on your face, the mouth, the eyes. And he’s got this big shiny forehead that makes him easy to spot from across the room and I honestly appreciate that part about him so I know when to head the other direction.

Just then I caught a glipmse of pretty boy’s big shiny forehead so I downed the rest of my beer and slammed it on Bobby’s table before hopping on stage to start tightening my drum heads. It was nearly time to rock.

 

 

We were on our sixth song and I was drenched in sweat and pretty drunk. The sound guy John had been slipping me shots between songs and I was feeling unstoppable. We started playing our most popular tune, Undead Battlefield. This was a huge crowd pleaser with the right amount of smooth guitar licks and intricate drum fills. Everyone was going nuts screaming, flinging the contents of their drinks on stage (Bobby hated that shit, I personally loved it, and Dwayne the guitarist loved it even though it fucked up two of his amps). During the guitar solo I reached back to grab another shot from John. He had two ready and I downed them both. Pretty boy winked at me and smiled, lit a cigarette and took a long drag. Dumbass. I closed my eyes and got back into the tune, slamming my sticks against cymbals, rolling off the snare and down the toms, kicking the double-bass pedals as hard as I could. My legs and arms were burning from playing so hard, I could feel sweat roll down my legs in fat drops. I played louder and faster and improvised a solo and I didn’t give a shit if I played over anyone else, it sounded great. My whole body ached as I strained to push myself to play the greatest solo I’ve ever played. It took everything I had and then some. I opened my eyes. I was on fire. Flames snaked around the drumset and pooled the stage around me. I couldn’t see anyone else, not even pretty boy’s shiny forehead. I tried to get up to run but I couldn’t move. I looked down and realized my legs were completely engulfed in flames, chunks of flesh falling off the bone like slow-cooked pork. My ass was melting into seat. I was so confused and upset I screamed. I could still feel my arms and tried hitting the drums and I heard the crash cymbal ring out loud and clear so I began playing the rest of my solo without any double-bass and the flames grew taller and just as I felt an overwhelming pain I fell into darkness.

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An Empty Glass

It had been two weeks since I heard from Rachel, so it’s safe to assume she got the money. I was nearly broke and could no longer afford her coke habit so I sent her downtown to ask for a loan from Ricky Palmer, told her he’s especially generous with broads and could work out something special for her. But I knew if I sent her to Ricky I wouldn’t see her again unless I went to Miami where Ricky sent all his girls.

I went for another swig of the 151 but only diluted cola and ice hit my lips which sent an unreasonable wave of anger through my chest like a flame dancing across a haystack. I sucked some spilled coke off my thumb and looked at my watch. It was broken, but it’s a natural thing people do it seems, and if there were as many eyes on me as I thought there were then I would look normal. I couldn’t get myself to meet the eyes of the other patrons in fear they would sense my bloodlust and confront me about it. I imagine they’d sit next to me and ask why I was so damn crazy and why I was always so sad and I would just stare up at them and ask who do they think they are to ask me such personal questions? They would laugh and shake their head and whisper to the other patrons about how crazy I was and how pathetic I was and I’d shrink back into my empty glass and ask the bartender to drown me in the good stuff.

But then another patron would approach me with a concerned expression asking why I wanted to harm them. I would smile to myself as thoughts raced faster than I could make sense of them at the sheer overwhelming thought of conveying the slightest justification for my irrational behavior. My tongue tied, I’d look at them and say, “It’s a funny, long story!” But this concerned patron wouldn’t back off. They kept pestering me, their expression desperate as they sacrificed themselves to my madness. I explained to them how my circumstances proved a fine environment for something to manifest itself inside my chest and take hold of my existence and drag me down as to stay close to the earth where it meant to plant its roots but I always had the desire to fight it. And why I fought it I couldn’t make clear at first other than calling it human nature, a survival instinct. Something that transcended conscious desire. And as my chest was busy weaving this mess of pain into something tangible my mind constructed walls in response to seeds of malice and hatred coming to fruition but in its haste left many vulnerabilities. The darkness was swift and unforgiving as it illuminated my mind and my eyes betrayed me at every turn and my lips lost their ability to translate the chaos. With a shaky hand I tried conveying the madness and for a time it worked until what I was experiencing became so tiring that it stilled my hands and I closed my eyes and waited for the sun to go down before I’d open them again.

Drugs became appealing and for a time they were good. Until the moment came when my existence no longer allowed the relationships I held with the people who had the drugs and I was back in my bed, eyes closed, thoughts racing while I watched from a distance. I started to have the desire to watch myself bleed and so found a razor and drew lines in my arms and legs and felt the wounds send a rush of delicious chemicals through my body that said it was good. Then one day I cut too deep and bled too much and my cover was blown. It was now apparent there was something wrong and it drew attention to myself and I quickly began plotting my response to this exposure. And then it became time to recede back into the shadows and watch the world from my safe place. And the longer I waited the crazier the world seemed. So I’d wander into the world and watched closely the interactions of others and wondered if they were me and how many of them were just doing things to appear normal, like checking their watches while waiting.

At this point I noticed nobody was listening, as the seats next to me were empty as was the entire bar. I called for another 151 despite the bartender being nowhere in site. I traced my initials into the counter and smiled at the thought of lighting someone on fire. I felt myself swell between the legs and knew it was time to go.

Among the Stars

I’m shoulder to shoulder with murderers and pedophiles knee-deep in pig guts. I stuff another heaping handful of intestines into the sack tied to my waist wondering when they’ll open the doors so I can finally take a shit or if I’ll have to do that business right here and now. I notice Charlie collapse into the stinking pool of gore, exhaustion-induced unconsciousness. I wade over to his side as fast as I can before any Fabricants spot him. Pulling him out of the pool took nearly all my strength and I could feel my muscles tear and pain firing from every neuron. “Come on, buddy. On your feet.” I felt a stream of shit fall down my leg. Relief.

Charlie’s head surfaced, eyes still closed. I smacked him twice before he flinched and stared at me with wild eyes. “Put the puppies in the fire!” Charlie said.

He struggled to his feet while grabbing for my neck. I was too tired to defend myself and allowed his hands to close around my neck and shove me down. I was on my knees while Charlie strangled me and I could feel his nails digging deeper into my throat and wondered how bad the wounds would get infected.

“Charles, my lovely boy! Put those puppies in the goddamn fire before I tan your hide!” he said.

“Charlie,” I whispered.

Just as I feel myself slipping, his hands leave my neck and I fall face first into the pig guts. I look up, gag, see the back of someones jumpsuit and another man, presumably Charlie, thrashing wildly before him.

Don’t kill the poor bastard, I thought. Charlie had it worse than all of us in terms of sentencing. At least we got 3 meals and a bedroll while he was on the receiving end of countless torture devices and biological experiments conducted by Fabricants. It’s funny, though. They could be torturing any of us, and in a sense they do, but not the way they do Charlie. Whatever he did must’ve been real bad. Bad enough that they drill holes in his head every night and his screams fill the prison and they echo through your dreams and you wake up with this lingering sadness, this sense of disaster that you can’t quite understand until you see that look in Charlies eyes. That blank stare and crooked smile. The shaved off eyebrows, dimpled chin, hollow cheeks, long, thin black hair. I watch him at breakfast shovel gruel into his mouth with trembling lips but a steady hand. His actions are cold and calculated, an automation. I remember the look on his face when we were in processing and he asked me what I was in for.

“Child prostitution, first-degree murder, necrophilia, cannibalism, trespassing. You?”

He couldn’t even answer, he just stopped breathing and looked at me. I asked him if there was a problem and he just kept staring. I grabbed him by the shirt and shoved him up against the wall and told him I’d take pleasure in fucking him after I kill him that night. It wasn’t until later at dinner that he sat with me and apologized and asked if there was anything he could do to avoid becoming a dead man and naturally I made him my wife up until the Fabricants took him away. I guess I loved him, because when they took him I cried and I screamed and tried to kill myself by jumping off the second floor but got two broken legs and 5 months in solitary for that. When I was put back into general population I asked around for Charlie and was told to wait until nighttime and I’d hear him. I’ve listened to his screams for the past 6 years. When he was finally put back on work duty in the slaughterhouse I tried talking to him but he was already gone, mentally on another planet. It didn’t matter, I still tried talking to him everyday, and everyday he would have psychotic breaks and tried killing me more times than I can count. He successfully killed 14 other inmates but received no punishment because the Fabricants look at is as a natural way of cleaning up the prison population. And if I ever heard even the slightest plan of someone offing Charlie, I killed them. He needs me.

I told him this one day and for the briefest moment, I felt like he was back again. He looked at me strangely and said, “I ran a bookstore. That’s all I ever did”

I know I could get up and save Charlie, pull this mother fucker off him and save him from being murdered. But something kept me still, something convinced me it was his time to go and I watched him stop struggling and the man in the jumpsuit stand up and walk away like nothing ever happened. Charlie was gone,

I’ll miss him.

Amelia, Young Amelia

                                                                                                                                     amelia

You could dance like the seasons

and sing like the angels

A head full of imagination with princesses and princes

wizards and witches, giants and goblins

I was late to your recital that night

but it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t be there

My Amelia

Didn’t you learn never to talk to strangers?

What did the devil say before he took you?

Did he promise a wish?

You could’ve never known

I made a thousand wishes you had

Because maybe then you’d still be here today

and I wouldn’t have found you buried beneath the snow

I remember cradling you in my arms for the first time

I’ll never forget the last

Your face a sheet of white with a tint of blue

The tears stuck to your face

I still held you close and played with your hair

Winter had betrayed you

But I can still hear you in my dreams

the voice of an angel

I still hear you baby girl, I still do