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.

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The Bus Stop Boy

I hate my job. And it’s not a normal hate. You know those hates where you just turn around and say, “Fuck! I hate (insert hated entity).” And you grumble and groan all the way home. Perhaps you cry about it or you journal about it, or you blog about it. But, after a few days, the hate begins to dissipate into a manageable grievance. But listen to this; I hate my job as much as Hitler loved the Jews. I hate my job as much as Kim Jong-il loved his citizens. I hate my job so much that I will inflict personal injury so that I don’t have to show up. Ok, that part’s not true… don’t call the loony bin on me or anything.

I’ll cut right to the chase… So I get off a quarter past 6 and I need some food in a major way. I’m so hungry I feel like puking and crying. The downside is that I have to take a 15 minute bus ride then walk another 10 minutes to my apartments. I put in my headphones and listen to Pink.

I step into the shelter of the bus stop and sit next to the only other person waiting. Of course, it’s a cute boy. He’s cute as fuck. I’m such a sucker for the pretty boys. You know the ones with kinda long, soft looking hair with a nice chiseled chin and perfect lips with blue eyes like cut sapphires. Always the blue eyes. Sometimes green, but, ew. His dirty blonde hair hid half his face. Luckily, the exposed part was nearest to me which made me happy. Although, he seemed like one of those emo types. He was slouching and wearing that permanent expression of frowning eyes and pressed lips. He looked close to my age, or a couple years older like twenty maybe. I pulled one of my earbuds out, the sound of traffic and tires cutting through puddles of water on the rain-slicked streets now apparent to me.

I said, “hey.”

He slowly turned his head in my direction and suddenly I was snapped back to reality. Why the hell did I feel compelled to talk to him? Seriously, why, why, why?

“Hi,” he said before turning away.

I smiled. Well, I should probably just end it here to save myself from embarrassment. I sit up and begin lightly drumming my hands against my lap. I glance over at him several times to make sure he’s still as gorgeous as I remember. Dammit! I couldn’t shake this feeling that I had to talk to him. It was like destiny crept into my body and was pressing me forward, whispering in my ear telling me to make conversation here. But why? Maybe he’ll fuck me. The thought sent warmth through my stomach and between my legs. I quietly cleared my throat and said, “Where are you from?”

He gave me a puzzled look. “Why do you ask?”

“Um, I was just wondering if you’re from around here or whatever, I don’t know.”

“It doesn’t matter where I’m from.”

“Ok,” I said. What the fuck, man? This guy’s playing it rough. I’ll bet most girls give up and shy away at this point, but not me.

“Do you work or got to school?” I asked.

“Why the fuck are you talking to me?”

I just sat and stared.

“Seriously, why the fuck are you talking to me? I don’t even know you.”

“I’m just being nice,” I said.

“Fuck nice. It’s rude to bother strangers that mind their own business. What makes you think I give a shit about you or anything you say?”

Oh my god. This guy is fucking rude, and a little crazy. “Sorry,” I said before scooting a couple inches away. He scoffed at me before digging into his back pack.

“I’ve just been having a bad day, a bad week. Shit, a bad life,” he said.
I smiled again. “I understand. I work over at that convenient store on the corner and it’s terrible. I honestly think it might be one of the worst jobs in the world.”

“I was talking about how my mom was murdered by my dad a couple days ago and my sister’s a runaway meth addict and I have nothing left to love. Not even myself.”

Shit. He started to laugh.

“It’s funny though.. Once you lose everything you thought was important to you, it gives you a lot of time to think. You have all this time to reflect on what it was you loved and why you loved it,” he said. “It also empties you out, carves all sorts of holes in you that you can’t fill up ever again. I just feel like there are too many holes now. There’s nothing I can do to feel better.”

I said, “Now that’s not true. I bet there are-“

I paused and stared dumbly at the boy who now held a pistol in his hand and wore a small smile on his face. The entire situation was so hypnotizing. “What’s that?” I said.

“Medicine,” he said before shoving the barrel into his mouth and pulling the trigger.

The sudden explosion of blood and flesh painted the interior of the bus stop and splashed across my face. I felt a chunk get lodged in my mouth and savored the metallic icing on my lips. Half of his head was gone, leaving behind flaps of skin and hair dangling on all sides. His lifeless body slowly collapsed to the floor as if resting from a tiring day. And in a way, that’s what he was trying to do.

I suddenly lost my appetite.

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

Phantasmagoria

Author’s Note:

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 Introduction

 

You’re about to read a short story describing one girls trek from one state to the next in an attempt to chase her dreams and fully harness her creativity.

She grew up in the Pacific Northwest. More specifically, Washington State. Rainy, dreary, unpredictable Washington. After graduation, her life was beginning to plateau. For some reason, she just couldn’t break past these imaginary barriers that were set before her. What was she to do? In a panic, she gathered a few friends together and suggested they move. To where? They asked.

Portland.

It would be perfect.

However, preliminary plans were made and broken. It wouldn’t be until much later that they would pack their bags and spend a weekend down and stay with another friend who lived there.

And so they went.

Upon their return, realities were checked. They were checked so hard that their hearts were crushed; its smooth fragments melting into the cracks of their now fractured souls.

Coming home didn’t feel like coming home. It felt like returning to a house of horrors with an ominous darkness that seemed to have a face glaring back at her. She didn’t want to be here, but she had nowhere else to go. Portland was ready for her, but she wasn’t ready for Portland.

Some time later, after spending a great deal of time in this treacherous place, she adapted to her surroundings, becoming one with all that she once despised. How could this have possibly happened? Well, she wasn’t aware it was happening. She thought it was maturity easing her hate. But it wasn’t. It was her flaws and vulnerabilities in disguise holding her back.

However, there is no such evil that cannot be overcome by love. And love is often accompanied by passion. And that passion holds her purpose. And her purpose was bigger than she, thus prevailing over her reluctant mind.

And so our story begins.

M. Williams, Winter 2013

Departure

I boarded the 8am train to Portland and began searching for my seat. 12D. I spotted 9A and 10B on my right and to my left was 12D; a window seat. I packed my suitcase into the space above and settled the backpack in my lap.

I glanced out the frosted window through streaks of water left behind by the fresh rain, watching trees sway in the wind like a pendulum moving in slow motion.

I barely got any sleep lastnight and my head was throbbing, eyes aching. I closed them and used my thumb and index finger to gently massage them. It slightly dulled the pain causing temporary relief. I began thinking of the night before and how much I cried. I was such a whiny bitch. I couldn’t help it though. It’s so sad leaving my sister behind. She needs me. She’s still so young and naïve; she needs her older sister to help her through life. And she’s right in the middle of breaking up with her boyfriend which doesn’t make things any easier. I let out a soft sigh. I’d never seen her as happy as she was with him and now all that has temporarily gone to shit. I’m just glad her and I grew really close this past year. Something I had only dreamt of happening.

Mom dad both think it was incredibly stupid of me to move out. But they’re not me. And though what they say and do is with honest intentions, I’m a grown-ass woman who can make her own choices.

The train finally started to move. Slowly it crept forward, gaining more and more speed. I felt the steady vibrations from the wheels gliding across the tracks coarse through my body. It reminded me of being soaked in a nice, steamy hot tub.

I watched as the city grew smaller and smaller until my neck got tired and I stopped looking back. I smiled at the fact that I was finally saying goodbye to that place. My departure was way past due.

The land out here was hideous. Ridden with abandoned warehouses, dismantled fences, a few totaled cars, and no grass, just dirt with patches of water spread throughout. How did this place get so ugly? Surely, there was once a time when it was a bit easier on the eyes and didn’t appear to be the aftermath of a nuclear strike.

I felt a large lump in my throat. I’ve lived in this area all my life and I’ve ridden down these very same tracks when I’d go down to see Sydney and yet, this entire area was unfamiliar to me. It was completely new. The thought was disturbing.

I looked at one of the abandoned warehouses in the distance. The roof was caved in on one end. All the windows were busted out. And that’s when I spotted him. A man was standing behind one of the windows completely motionless. I just stared at him. Even at this distance, I could feel his eyes on me. He was watching me.

It must be a homeless man, I thought. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out homeless people sought refuge here. This is paradise compared to sleeping in gutters and being spit on by assholes walking by.

I looked back but the man was gone. A sudden icy wave went through my body down to my toes causing the hairs on my arm and neck to stand up, and my back grew stiff. I then felt compelled to scan the train car I was in.

Nobody was sitting next to me. An older man behind me was sitting alone. A young couple across the aisle. A little boy and girl sitting near a blonde woman who I assumed was their mother.

And that was it. Well, that was everyone I could see.

I sat back in my seat and tried to slow my breathing which became an exercise in futility. I didn’t like this feeling at all. Slowly, I was filling up with dread and I felt nauseous. Then my body started to shake and tremble before I was nearly thrown from my seat.

The train… the train was going off the tracks.

I couldn’t make sense of what was going on around me; it was all happening so fast. Bags flew across the aisle every which way. The little girl was thrown to the back of the car and I heard her smack into the glass sliding door. The sound was awful. It was like a sopping wet towel slapping the floor. I held onto the small headrest of the seat in front of me in a deathgrip and squeezed my eyes shut. I was going to die right here on this train. Oh fuck. Oh fuck.

I screamed.

The train shook violently more and more. I could hear cries and shrieks so loud I swore my eardrums were going to burst. I also heard loud pounding from behind me and when I looked back I saw the old man slamming his fists against the glass sliding door. Pointless, I thought.

And suddenly, it all stopped.

I stole a quick glance out the window and couldn’t believe what I saw. We were airborne. The train was fucking airborne. As we made our descent, I shut my eyes and screamed one last time.

 

Arrival

My head felt like it was going to explode. I couldn’t move. I slowly opened my eyes and felt the cool, light rain pepper my body as I stared up at the grey sky. I could hear someone groaning nearby, but I was too afraid to move. My bones felt frozen and my back glued to the mud.

“Help!” someone yelled. “Help me please!”

It was a man’s voice; raspy and baritone. In my head I told the man I could help. I told him everything was going to be ok and help was on its way. But still I lay in the mud helpless as ever. I started to hear what sounded like someone running towards me, their feet slapping the mud quickly and growing louder each second. Please help us, I thought to myself.

“Oh thank god,” the man said. “I’m so glad–wait, what the… What the fuck?! Get away from me!”

I heard a grunt and the man scream. A scream silenced soon after what sounded like popping and cracking. Now he was crying.

“Oh god please. Please help me. No, no!”

And then I could hear what sounded like slurping and crunching, the man crying and screaming. More crunches and chewing. Oh. My. God. Was he being..eaten? No. No fucking way.

His cries suddenly grew silent.

I felt tears stream down my face, but didn’t feel sad. I was scared to death. It began raining a little harder and it got a little colder so I closed my eyes. I couldn’t help but briefly wonder if the life I lived was enough. What was I leaving behind?

A few funny stories and pieces of art, some friends that thought they knew me but really didn’t, and maybe a few broken hearts and failed romances but nothing that lasted. I already felt dead. So maybe dying would be a little better.

I felt something hot against my neck. I opened my eyes and looked to my left and found myself staring into the dark blue eyes of some hideous creature. Its foul breath came at me in hot waves and made me gag. I turned away from it only to see another one of them standing over me, shaking and smiling.

It looked nearly human. It had a torso, arms, hair, and it stood on two bony legs. Its nose protruded from its face like an upside down coat hanger. But its eyes weren’t human, I knew that. They were large and round just like 50 cent pieces. And its mouth hung open revealing a set of sharp yellow canine teeth. The thing just looked down at me, shaking violently as it let out a low groan.

I then felt something on my back. One of them was lifting me off the ground with its bony arms. It was strong, too. Two more creatures appeared in front of me and I felt long, cold fingers drag down my back, cold fingers sliding underneath my shirt and tearing at my pants. I closed my eyes, weeping uncontrollably; screaming until I tasted blood. One of them grabbed my head in its hands and looked into my eyes, closely examining me before a long, thick, purple tongue rolled out of its mouth. I felt it slide across my face, down my neck and in my ear. I yelled at them to stop when the tongue slithered into my mouth. I tried to cry once I could feel hair and skin being pulled from my scalp.

As fingers clawed at my flesh, and teeth nibbled at my fingers and toes, tongues caressing every bit of my now exposed body, making their way into every orifice, I wondered why this had to happen to me.

What did I do to deserve this? What, in my entire lifetime, could I have possibly done to warrant such pain and torment? And that’s when I was absolutely certain there was no god. And if there is one, he’s twisted as fuck.

As I felt the last of the fingers on my right hand get chewed away, I threw up all over myself. This excited the creatures and they started panting and licking it off my body which made me vomit again, this time all over one of the creatures. It laughed hysterically and smeared it all over himself while another creature started to lick it off.

I became dead weight as pieces of my flesh were ripped and clawed and chewed off. My world went dark as flashes of red and blue and yellow danced in the darkness with me.

I felt enraptured.

The ice cold rain, the searing pain of my swollen, torn muscle tissue, the stimulation I received from my exposed nerve endings. I felt my back hit the mud once again. Did they drop me? Was I just a torso now? I kept bleeding and bleeding and the pool of blood crept over me and I felt the ground melt and become softer and softer as I began making my descent into the earth. I tried to open my eyes one last time, but I couldn’t. All I could see were the flashing lights dancing with me in the darkness.

 

Escape to Candyland

Put down your fucking drink and think for one second. You’re giving yourself a mini panic attack over nothing. She’s just a woman. A plain, simple, gorgeous woman. And you already know you’re handsome as hell. Shit, how many times have you had sex just this week? Yeah, you’re smooth so don’t bullshit around with this idea that you’re some hopeless oaf with zero chances with women. You’re getting laid tonight. Not by just any broad in this place. You want her.

What the hell is it about her that’s got you all flustered? This never happens and it’s a bit pathetic. Now finish your drink. Order a stronger one, you pussy. You don’t ever need the help of alcohol to talk to dames. This will be the one exception nobody will have to know about. The bartender notices you staring at her.

“She’s a 10,” he said.

You give him a polite nod as you bring the glass to your lips.

“She’s always in here, alone. Men are too chickenshit to even talk to her. Actually, I’ve had to beat the hell outta some fellas who thought it wise to get themselves shitfaced before talking to her. They’d be eating the sidewalk outside just as soon as they reached out to grope her.”

The sting of the alcohol feels electric. Your heartbeat reminds you of the task at hand. You attempt to order just one shot more. The bartender furrows his eyebrows at you and puckers his lips. An odd facial expression that no doubt meant you were about to regret making that decision. Instead, you slowly rise out of your chair and finally make your way to the end of the bar.

Her eyes are closed while her head moves from side to side ever so gently to the melody of True by Spandau Ballet. Her thick blonde curls cover her breasts, red lipstick, a small mole on her neck. Her eyebrows so thick and perfect. She makes you promises in silence.

I know this much is true.

You’re so close to her now that her perfume crawls up your nose and rings bells of pleasure in your head. An entire chorus rings out through your body and suddenly you feel the need to sit down. This angel was powerful.

Her eyes slowly opened, meeting yours immediately. You take a deep breath before putting on your most charming smile, which, after those drinks, was nearly impossible on account of your face being numb. You hope for the best.

Her smile was perfection. You wonder if she’s smiling because of you, or if she was smiling because of her. Did she find pleasure being impossible to get? Now you see her long eyelashes, one small dimple in each cheek. Are you sweating? Fuck. You feel your forehead recruiting moisture to gather ‘round for a grand appearance. Who cares? You complement her elegant white dress. You look more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen, you hear yourself say out loud. She bats her lashes and looks down at her drink holding back a large smile. You tell about how you’ve been watching her all night. Not in a creepy way you quickly add. More like an admirable sort of way. You recount the slew of emotions you were hit with when you first saw her. You even happen to slip in a fantasy or two about taking her out to dinner or a movie sometime. Her dimples become larger with her smile. You even admire the way she tucks her hair back behind her ear. You inch closer.

“I’ve never felt this way with someone I’ve just seen. I usually never have feelings for the women I talk to.”

She cocked her head slightly to one side. What the hell were you thinking saying shit like that? Don’t get too personal. Just keep it surface and dive down only when absolutely necessary. Slow down and maybe let her take the reins for a bit.

That’s when you realize something.

I am so, so sorry. I haven’t even introduced myself. I’m Alex, you say with your hand out. She slowly slides her hand in yours, her warmth creeping through your fingers and up your arm, cascading through your entire body. You felt all her energy, it was incredible. You swallow hard and say she truly is the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen in your entire life and even if she wasn’t into you, you absolutely had to know her name. She clears her throat, her grip tightening on your hand and says, “You can call me Candyland.” She leans even closer. “And I’ll be your woman for the night if that’s what you want.”

You watch her Adams apple jump up and down as she spoke. What was this? Have you just been touched by some miracle? The moisture on your forehead crawled down your face.

“You really aren’t like any dame I’ve ever met,” you say.

She says, “Baby know that. There’s just one major difference between me and the ordinary lady.”

“Oh yeah?” you say. “And what would that be?”

She’s now leaning so close you catch a whiff of her makeup. She whispers, “I have a fat cock,” and gives you a wink.

You have a very strange erection; palms sweating profusely. You thought she was joking until you watch as she groped herself revealing a swollen outline in between her legs that surely was not a vagina. Everyone in the bar is watching you, anticipating your next move. The only sound is the jukebox switching records. A thousand thoughts race through your head. You suddenly remember the time you first learned to ride a bike with no training wheels and chipped your front teeth. You remember stomping on bees in the field in elementary school. You remember asking Sarah to prom by hanging a sign from your neck saying, “Come Prom With Stupid?” Life flashed before your eyes. This was another one of those pivotal moments. Your life was suspended in this moment.

You lick your lips and quickly wipe your forehead with the sleeve of your jacket and say,

“So, Candyland, your place or mine?”

She agrees to let you take her home with you. Every seat in the bar is empty due to the standing ovation you receive. You see one guy slowly nodding his approval, another gives you two thumbs up, bottles of champagne are being popped open, someone grabs a microphone and delivers a heartwarming speech recognizing the immense bravery you displayed tonight. Men line up to shake your hand and you swear you even see one guy wiping tears from his eyes.

You smile down at your date as the two of you walk to the exit. She wraps an arm around your waist and rests her head on your shoulder. You kiss the top of her forehead as you exit the bar hearing the jukebox start playing Urge Overkills hit tune, “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.”

A note from Cynthia

Dear Lucille,

I hate this complex delirium.

How am I supposed to hold down a relationship when nothing makes me happy, nothing satisfies me. Maybe I should’ve thought more about this before Jake asked me out. Now we’re three weeks in and I’m certain he knows I’ve been cheating on him with his friend Tyler. And Josh. Oh, Brandon and Lance as well. I don’t count his brother since he didn’t cum.

Part of me likes to think I know what I’m doing. Part of me also likes to think I’m an incredibly sweet, genuine, honest girl. I didn’t plan to cheat on any of my boyfriends. What kind of person would I be if I did? There are times, however, when it is premeditated but usually only when I’m going thorough my dieting regiments that require me to take this supplement that makes me incredibly horny nearly all day everyday. The slightest thing turns me on. I’ll be at the grocery store and walk into the same aisle as another man and my crotch immediately gets warm and moist. My mouth  gets a little dry and the tip of my nose gets cold. A strange combination, I know.

I have a profile on nearly 15 dating websites. Take that as you will but I swear to god I’m not desperate. It’s just like using a filter on single dudes without having to go through all the trouble of having a slightly awkward conversation with them at the bar while my brain seeps in shots of whipped cream vodka. It’s much easier to setup casual encounters with complete strangers this way. Granted, there are countless creepy perverts who shamelessly beg for me to fulfill their sexual fantasies. One guy wanted me to fuck him with a 13 inch dildo while wearing a clown suit with the makeup and everything. He told me he would film it and send it to his family.

I’m a whore. I know that and it doesn’t bother me. The only problem is that now I’m treading in some deep water because for whatever reason all these one night stands aren’t enough. I need a steady relationship and yet I can’t have sex with just one man. Unfortunately, it’s not considered normal to cheat on your partner several times with multiple men with no remorse and yet it’s something I find to be vital to my well-being. Hopefully I won’t get caught anytime soon. I should probably stop making sex tapes before my boyfriend finds out.

Please respond ASAP. I lost your number and I’ll need someone to talk to when shit hits the fan.

Yours truly,

Cynthia

An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

While on vacation in Washington I decided to drive up to Seattle to celebrate my birthday. Now, turning 25 really isn’t that big of a deal. And if it is, I must be missing something. The only significance appeared to be the fact that I was even closer to 30, I was single, no solid career, and several credits short of a college degree. Despite all this, my birthday was still my special day and I was going to make a big deal out of turning 25.

At the hotel I showered, shaved, and dressed in the flashiest outfit I had in my suitcase. I checked myself out in the mirror, combed my dark hair over to one side, plucked a couple rogue brow hairs, and tested out a few flirtatious smiles. That last part didn’t work too well. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t crack a decent smile. They all seemed to say, “come home with me and nobody will ever see you again.”

Oh well.

I checked my wallet. I needed to stop by the cash machine in the lobby. Since the room was charged to my card, I decided to get started on a little pregame. I opened the black mini fridge and gazed at the assortment of alcoholic beverages. A wave of relief seemed to trickle down my body and through my bones. Tonight was going to be a good night. I snagged three mini bottles of the Jack Daniel’s honey whiskey and sat on the edge of the bed. I unscrewed the cap of one and downed it in a few seconds. While my throat was still on fire, I opened the next bottle and poured that right down my gullet. I squeezed my eyes shut as the burning sensation caused them to water. I blew out a small breath before I freed the lid of the last bottle. I stared at the pirate caricature on the bottle and whispered, “to you, captain Jack,” and sucked down the sweet liquid.

I felt the blood creep up to my face as I stood up. I looked in the mirror and smiled at the reflection. Much better, I thought. I checked my cellphone before stuffing it in my pocket. No new messages. I slipped on some shoes, switched off the lights, and made my way down to the lobby.

I left the ATM with a few hundred bucks. I exited the hotel. It was already getting dark and it wasn’t even dinner time. I started walking down the street to one of the local bars an employee at the hotel told me about. Halfway there, a black woman stepped out in front of me. I stopped in my tracks, apologized, and started to walk around her. She, too, sidestepped to block my path. I looked up at her. “Excuse me,” I said.

“No, no, excuse me!” she said. “Oh, you know me, always finding a way to keep people from getting to where they need to be.”

I let out a nervous chuckle. “Yeah, for sure. Goodbye now.” I began to walk around her and again, she stepped in front of me.

“Sir, I’ll suck yo’ diiiick.”

“What?” I said.

She looked from side to side and started picking her nose. “I don’t normally do this type of thang but hey, I’ll suck yo’ diiick. I’ll suck it good and dry for two dollas. I’ll suck it for tree dollas.”

I started to laugh. This was a joke. “Tree dollars?” I asked. “How much is that exactly?”

She began to growl and scratch her head with both hands. “Gimme yo’ dick! Lemme suck it! I want money!” she cried.

I had a feeling this wasn’t a joke. I was dealing with a crackwhore and I wasn’t so sure what to do. How was one supposed to politely decline a blowjob? I’ve never been approached by a woman offering to blow me for money. Especially not by a woman who looked like she hadn’t bathed for weeks with dirt in her hair, stains and tears in her clothes. God, she reeked.

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I have to be getting to the bar now,” I smiled. “It’s my birthday.”

“Happy birthday, nigga!”

This caught the attention of a couple people who were talking near us. I quickly exchanged glances wearing my best “please help me” look on my face. It didn’t work.

“Thanks,” I mumbled. I started to feel light headed. The JD was starting to hit me a bit harder.

“I’ll give you a special deal since it’s ya birthday.”

“Oh yeah?” I said with feigned excitement.

She nodded and leaned over to whisper to me. She said I could put it in her butt. I shuddered.

“You know what, I just met you and I don’t know if I really want to do that right now,” I said. She looked up at me with big puppy eyes looking as if she was about to cry. “Don’t take it personally, I just planned to spend my birthday over at the bar and get smashed.”

Then she began to cry. “Please lemme suck yo’ dick. Please. I need crack. Oh baby, baby.. I need my crack.” She then walked up to me, rested her head against my chest, and wrapped her arms around me. Her sobs grew louder and longer with each passing second. I shushed her and awkwardly patted her back with one hand. The woman then started spewing out huge, wet, nasty coughs into my new shirt.

“Easy!” I said. She seemed to settle down a bit. I felt terrible. I haven’t felt this bad since that summer in high school when I took a girl out on a date and she crapped her pants at the movie theater. I tried settling her down by telling her it was all going to be alright.

“It ain’t gunna be ‘ight. I need crack,” she said.

“I know, I know.” I then began running my hand through her nappy ass hair. “Everything’s going to be ok.”

“No, it won’t.”

“Yes,” I assured her.

“How?” she asked.

I then pulled her hair behind her ear and whispered, “I don’t use lube. Get ready to make some money.”

the worst headache ever

It was a day just like any other.

I grabbed my freshly waxed surfboard and made my way to the summit of Machu Picchu.  It was a perfect day with not a single cloud in the sky. I followed the one and only trail I knew to the top and after a few hours, I finally reached the peak.

Just then the blue sky turned dark. Lightning snaked its way across the darkness. A large pool of lava began to swell up from the eastern side of the mountain. I sprinted towards the lava with the surfboard tucked under my arm, the ground shaking underneath my bare feet. As I closed the last few feet between me and the bubbling lava, I hopped on my board and slid right into the scorching liquid. I was one with the mountain.

Faster and faster I sped down Machu Picchu. I could hear the birds and the echoing calls of the Alpaca cheer me on. To my left, I noticed a small child, or perhaps it was a midget, holding up a sign that read, “Your limits are illustrations of your weakness.”

I dipped my hand in the lava as I surfed. It felt quite strange. It felt as if my hand was submerged in vibrating iced-water while dozens of slimy earthworms twisted around my fingers. Just then, I heard something fly past my head. I looked around expecting to find something, anything. Before I was able to locate the unidentified flying object, my board reached the base of the mountain. I hopped off and wiped my hands on my shorts. That’s when I heard the whistling sound.

When I opened my eyes it was dark. Like, stare at the back of your eyelids dark. I felt a dull pain behind my eyes and when I tried sitting up a wild throbbing came to life in my temples. I brought my pointer and middle fingers to my head and lightly touched the large bandage. It was moist from either my blood or sweat. Or both. Whatever it was, it had to do with the flying object I spotted earlier. Too bad I couldn’t even figure out what that thing was or how it could hurt me. Oh, hell.. I wasn’t hurt. What am I thinking?

I ignored the pain and stood up. My eyes began to adjust to the dark room and I began to look around for any hints of my location. I heard an engine roar to life from outside the room I was in. It sounded like a small car, maybe even a scooter. Then another engine, and another. Then came cheering and laughing. The laughing wasn’t like any laughter I ever heard. This was hysterical, crazed laughing coming from the mouths of psychopaths. The vehicles outside were peeling out causing a vast spray of rocks and dirt to pepper the outer wall. I shuffled over to a corner of the room and crouched down. That’s when I began to smell smoke.

I didn’t notice the temperature get any warmer or change at all. But that unmistakable scent of smoke lingered around me. Soon after I picked up on the smell, I began hearing the structure creak and moan under some sort of pressure. I stood up and slowly walked around the room with my arms held out. I brushed against a thin pillar that stood somewhere near the corner I was in. For some reason, I felt compelled to put my ear against the pillar. I did. I could hear what sounded like water rushing through pipes. What did all this mean? The creaking became much louder now, banging noises caused me to jump. Then the screams. The screams were muffled at first until the roof gave way and the flames snaked down the walls while several bodies fell and piled into the room.

Some were still alive, squirming around, holding their arms out hoping to have someone pull them to safety. Smoke trailed out of the mouths of those who had enough energy to cry out in pain. Charred, black bodies lay motionless among the suffering. What was I supposed to do? I was trapped. I was finally able to get a glimpse of the room I had been kept in and noticed that it was completely empty except for a single blanket that was now on fire. I had to get away from the screaming. I was driving me mad. I looked up through the hole in the ceiling and saw part of the roof still intact while most of it appeared to have burned away. I could also make out the night sky. My only chance at escape was up. I had to climb, but it was too high.

I had to find a way. I quickly began piling up the cooked bodies on top of eachother. One of the bodies I grabbed belonged to a young woman whose eyelids were burnt off. She begged me to take her with me. I said no.

When I finally climbed up through the hole in the ceiling I immediately found an opening to the outside that I jumped out of. I landed on a pile of dirt and rocks; it was comfortable here. As I stared up at the night sky, the cries of the people burning pierced the silence, rudely molesting the sanctity of the night. I forgave them, for their souls were already condemned. Everything was going well in life. I must confess, my only anxiety is the whereabouts of my surfboard.