Here’s a piece I wrote for Devon Fick’s ongoing series, “Short Stories Based on Small Objects.” My object/inspiration is the blue ticket seen below.
The love of his life had died back in ’81. Poor Ol’ Dorothy Jo’s lungs had failed her, leaving Mr. Robert William Barker alone with a bunch of infertile dogs. I remember how, at one time, people had used to say that Hollywood was no place for a sweet thing like myself; they were right. But Mama didn’t raise no quitter, though she did raise a fool…
Is it destiny when you already know before it’s gonna happen or do you realize how perfect it is after it’s all over? It was like this kind of delayed reaction where some senses came in front of others, an excited blur of multi-colored, flashing lights and audience approval. A hand beckoned me forth onto the stage —–
“COME ON DOWN!”
I couldn’t breathe but I managed a few words, practically a choked whisper, “Bob, I’ve loved you forever…”
He lent his ear to my mouth, a true shame I didn’t slide my tongue in but I was stronger than I knew. I repeated it more confidently as if it were a fact and not a thousand rocks heavy upon my heart. He jostled my hair in appreciation. I fainted.
Later he would grunt like an animal hovering over me, drenched in sweat, and saying in finality, “spay…and…neuter…your…PETS!” This would prove to be the beginning of the end of me.
While the majority of Lankvillians spent this past Halloween walking around aimlessly, looking for a “good time,” visual artist and occasional occultist, Carl Dunn, spent his morning a little bit differently. Going to the local slaughterhouse, nearby his beloved Fotomat and down around the corner from the Pizza-A-Round, Dunn brought with him a pocket knife, a rare, leather-bound book of demonic chants, and attempted to contact the very face of evil Itself.
Because it’s the New Year, a time teeming with glee, ghosts and alcoholism, I probed Dunn for any tips he had on summoning spirits. He reluctantly obliged.
SS: Why are you doing this?
CD: I’m very creative.
SS: Fair enough. So what happened out there, were you able to bring forth the face of Evil?
CD: Oh yeah, for sure. It wasn’t really talkative though – I should’ve had a plan B. Maybe some notecards so we could engage in small talk or something. I was all prepared for the beginning, ya know, getting ‘im there – I chanted until my tongue was twisted…
SS (nods): The creepy book in Latin, the pocket knife to draw your own blood as an offering…
CD: Yeah, it was great. But then, It like, showed up in this big cloud of fog…just this floating head, really surreal. It had these bright, glowing red eyes and it let out this deafening shriek. If I were a weaker man, I’d have run for the hills, ya know if they weren’t polluted with toxic sludge…
SS: Right, right.
CD: But anyway, It lets out this shriek for about ten minutes and then it just stops, blinks Its eyes and then looks at me. You could practically see the question mark hovering on Its face.
SS: It wanted to know what you wanted, why you had summoned It…?
CD: Yeah, I think so. But I really had no good answer so I just said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ Then it disappeared.
SS: Amazing. Do you have any tips for Lankvillians regarding contacting spirits, the other side, ghosts, and any other odd undead land mammals?
CD: Notecards or a prepared speech, anything topical. I have a feeling that Evil is really interested in politics. Yeah, I’m gonna stick with that. You don’t wanna bore Evil when it finally graces you with Its presence.
SS: Thank you, Carl. As always, you’re a special delight.
Carl then nodded, gave me a pat on the shoulder and went out for a smoke. I preceded to put up special New Year’s tinsel and fuzzy garland, just to make the place look a little more festive. Happy New Year, Lankville!
I have a stalker, (legitimately). When I was slightly younger than I am now I was sexually assaulted. Both are two completely different situations but the scars have some eerie similarities: there’s a lot of blaming yourself, being unable to fully participate in life, constantly looking over your shoulder, and seeing your assailant’s face everywhere, (including etched in your brain). Well, push has come to shove and I realize that silence is no longer an option because there are others out there like me. Unfortunately, you or someone you know has gone through a situation like this – it’s all in the staggering and infuriating statistics. I am eternally grateful to Dan Shea and the Boston Hassle for being brave enough to give me a platform to speak upon this issue.
COLLECTED THOUGHTS: VOYEURISM IN 2015
“I consider myself to be a private person. I can repress a multitude of thoughts and feelings within a single sigh. What I’m saying is, if you’re dying to express something with, to, or in the general vicinity of me I’m probably not going to want to talk about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fantastic listener/responder/advice-doler-outer, okay? But if you’re looking to listen to me, like really listen to me, be prepared for an awkward silence. This behavior has become too damn habitual to actually disappear altogether, but I’m learning. Call it a syndrome of being an only child to a talkative single mother or a result of fear of commitment, daddy and/or trust issues, or the inability to let go – WHATEVER – if you’re a human alive today, you probably know very little about me because very few are close. It’s really not as sad as it sounds.
In a world becoming more and more viral, digital, incessantly squawking, this is kind of an amazing (bad and good) feat. So when this air of privacy became compromised on Christmas Eve of 2014 at 6:20AM, I was, not surprisingly, a bit shaken.
All of my roommates were away visiting their national and international homelands; it was just me and the cat. I was awoken by the doorbell; confused, I rang my mother but she was already at work. I went downstairs to find a package and a card addressed to me. Longer story shorter, words like “love” and “friendship” were tossed around in the scrawled note. Odd further still was who it was coming from, a person who was more of an acquaintance of the family than a lifelong pal.
It didn’t stop there, over the course of 2015 this person came to the house unannounced and at strange hours, banged trash cans, sent notes, gifts, called and texted repeatedly, left cryptic Facebook messages, even coming to my place of employment with a large and expensive bouquet of pink roses, sending me a picture of them to make sure I knew who they were from. He appeared at a random assortment of shows that he knew I would be at, (most recently at a Psychic Readings gig in November in Providence where I had to “make a scene” and have fellow attendees stay close). Apparently his own marriage and a child held for him no restraint.
I was not flattered. It was not cute. I had never led him on nor had any romantic interest in him, (and isn’t it sad that I have to say that anyway?). SO, WHY THE FUCK AM I TELLING YOU ALL THIS? Well, firstly because as I was being dropped off from work this morning by a co-worker, he was there behind us in his own car so no, this isn’t over. Secondly, because I’m tired of keeping such heavy shit to myself when I know there are others out there like me, who are keeping things to themselves as well and thirdly, because I need a platform to say this:
To the individual in question: STOP. LEAVE ME ALONE. THERE ISN’T A SINGLE THING ABOUT ME THAT BELONGS TO YOU.
To other victims: You don’t have to be polite and go through something like this alone. Reach out to people, build a support system. If you’re in the Boston area, check out Jane Doe Inc. (Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence) for a list of your rights and resources.
To me, a promise for 2016: I aim to be more visible in my community, to reserve more time for my own projects, to go to more shows, to be kinder to myself, to be a little less polite, to take more risks, and to breathe. Just fucking breathe.” – via Boston Hassle
Preface/Note: This is something I wrote like a week or so ago in one of those manic, late-night-depression-fueled moments, (in full quarter life crisis mode). It’s like, somber and stuff…but as the world burns around us, I came across the realization that it isn’t so tragic. I was sad when I wrote this but I’m not sad now. So basically I’m trying not to take my own issues as seriously anymore. “Try” being the operative word here because, after all, I am human and so incredibly flawed. We take each day at a time.
When we first met, I already thought I was in love with someone else; my heart was darkening, aging, becoming more irrational. Under duress and sips of gin, I grabbed you and thankfully you accepted my embrace. After our night together I never expected to see or hear from you again so when I did I was both confused and conflicted, not ready for an actual human interaction, (as odd and hypocritical as that may sound). Blame the coldness and instant gratification of the Millennial generation, blame poetry, blame habitual bouts with depression, blame your gender, blame mine, blame history, blame the sun, blame the wind, blame autumn, blame the very concrete that you walk upon day after monotonous day.
Our dreams have been deferred too many times to count. You aim to sparkle like a star in the blackest of night skies and I just want a place to call home and to own a voice that echos louder and longer than all of the rest. Easier said than done, I get it – I KNOW…And through it all, words are becoming harder and harder to spew and less cathartic because things, in general, don’t ever seem to change.
I am the unfortunate nurse forced to heal the walking wounded although, ironically, I am one of them. Over time, I’ve come to care about your well-being. Words are barely uttered, eye contact barely maintained, and yet…I just know. I know more than I should at this age, it’s true. Because neither one of us wants to play the role of The Fool, we walk in opposite directions again and again, each step increasing with speed.
Ideally, I’d meet you all over again, under different circumstances, taking your hand in mine and simply say,
“Hello, my name is Sarah. Nice to meet you.”
I am beyond honored to have had one of my novels nominated for UMBC’s required reading for its first year program. As a GED recipient and a university dropout, this acknowledgement from Academia is especially heartwarming. Although not selected, it is always nice to be nominated! You will also notice some of my Lankvillian colleagues on this list!