I drank several glasses of strong tea that were labeled ‘proceed with caution’ – I tapped my fingers and clicked my tongue. I fashioned myself an outfit made from dusty doilies and called it a day. My heart began to expand from the inside, with my chest tightening, I knew it would soon explode. I started snapping at children and felt eager to do it again, the numbness I had held for months was going by the wayside. High octane energy was what I needed – yes, yes, yes! It felt good to be angry for no reason and annoyed at the slightest thing – at least now when I would be awake (!) for hours on end I could say I did so purposely and with style (!) …And in the end, when the exploding of my heart would open up my chest cavity – I would be the one solely responsible – lest suffer a half-assed job done by someone else.

“Ya know,” I said to the air, knowing The Specialist was behind me, without having to turn around.

“Ya know, I could very easily burn The Woods down and build a mall while I have all this pent-up energy, just before my heart gives out…”

He nodded.

“I could just as easily let you and build one as I could whistle Dixie.┬áIt would just grow back though and eventually ivy would climb all over the architecture, consuming it whole, making a mockery of any and all man-made creation,” he admitted.

I nodded.

“So what now?”

“We could both light the match…” he began.

We made eye contact.

“…Or we could both run away, straight out of The Woods, promising not to look back at each other – ”

“Running out of here in opposite directions?” I prodded.

“Yes, I’ll take the left and you can take the right…”

“…And we’ll go about our lives in order to have some semblance of sanity in our daily routine – ”

“Because life is difficult enough – ”

” …And if we happen to run into each other on the outside, somewhere in the middle, perhaps we could share a chuckle or casually comment on the weather,” I smiled.

“It could be nice…”

“Yeah, I think it really could be.”

We both sighed, shook hands, took turns slapping each other across the face, smiled, and with our fingers crossed behind our backs, proceeded to run for our lives. It was a start.

(ALTERNATIVE ENDING)

Suddenly a wild yellow dog with a determined look in its eye, started nipping at our heels and ended up following me home. A swirling vortex of a black hole appeared out of nowhere, sucking calendars and farm animals into it. By way of no other alternative escape, I jumped in narrowly escaping its paws. I was then drawn into the past, ruining an otherwise poignant and dare I say, positive, ending to this story.

(ALTERNATIVE TO THE ALTERNATIVE ENDING)

The dog managed to take me down and drew blood. I turned into a puppet only functioning with strong emotions.

(ALTERNATIVE TO THE ALTERNATIVE ENDING, ENDING)

My brain grew toned arms that jutted out of my ears. My other miscellaneous and vital organs patched themselves up with duct tape and staples. I bit the dog and everyone else real and/or imagined from the past, present and/or future that ever felt they could take advantage of me. I took a deep breath and journeyed towards something people call ‘inner peace.’

 

You Wanna Fight? (2011)
You Wanna Fight? (2011)

“I suppose it has been awhile since we last played a good ol’ game ah poker…” said Ol’ Bat, acknowledging the teenybopper in the room.

The teenybopper was obviously distressed and wanted to talk about a ghost prince that would never come but even she could recognize what an old tune that was getting to be. The two of them had tied me to a chair now; I was chomping down on an old sock. Strawberry flavored!

At this point of my life, I had to realize that Ol’ Bat wasn’t so much of an intruder than a habitual eccentric come to kook-ify my otherwise gray existence. The fact that she had an accomplice now only meant that I had another friend. Two, if you’re keeping track! Anyways…

“Urgh, I’m so bored! How do you play? I forget…” whined the teenybopper.

She sighed. We all sighed. We will forever be sighing.

“Pay attention,” Ol’ Bat said with patience, “you take the deck and you spill all the cards onto the table. You cut the deck in half and distribute them evenly between you and your opponent. You smack your opponent in the face as they go to collect their bounty and then steal their half of the deck back. Make sure to finger wag!”

She illustrated the motion.

“You take the deck and throw all the cards into a paper shredder. You get another deck of cards in the meantime. Draw Xs on very particular cards of your choosing, ’bout nine will do it. Then hide them amongst your person. After the old deck is all done being shredded, collect the pieces and throw them on top of the new deck…”

I was taking notes in my head. Maybe we would play one day (?) The teenybopper was looking at me with compassion, I think.

“Do you show your cards or not?!” said the teenybopper, getting impatient too quickly.

Ol’ Bat laughed.

“I say show ’em! Life is too short and boring without ’em! They all end up in somebody’s garbage the next day anyway! Besides, you have to fascinate your opponent with glitter…a little razzle dazzle. They’ll look great all lit up! You have to realize that you have more power than your opponent will lead you to believe. We’ve all seen you die again and again, now you must persevere with strength, with or without an audience. Know that you can kill just as well as you can be killed.”

Everything went numb as I felt a sort of togetherness with my captors.

“I don’t really think we’re playing poker…” the teenybopper said, feeling a lesson coming on.

“No, and I suppose we never will.”