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Calamity Joe

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It always starts with a scene... [01 Feb 2006|01:08am]
You're a good citizen.

You hold the elevator while you manage to confirm an appointment for Jamie at the pediatrician's office tomorrow morning. You snap your breifcase shut and auto-dial your receptionist, reminding her that you're on your way to your 2 o'clock, and should be back by 3; you'll return messages when you get back.

You take the stairs as an afterthought; you're a healthy citizen, too. Or, at least, you try to be. But if it doesn't fit into your daily routine, you recognize it as a lost cause before you even start.

A black woman in an ill-fitting coat nearly runs into you as you leave the front lobby. Her head is down, and when you hold the door for her, she glares. You think feminism has gone too far.

You straighten your hair with one hand, and hail a cab with another, pinching your breifcase betwen your elbow and a blazer pocket. One passes, the driver deliberately denying you the privilege of eye contact, and without getting worked up, you decide to walk. You have, after all, 45 minutes to make it to Mr. Horne's office to plan the next exhibit.

Click-clacking your way down Fifth, you smile at whoever happens to meet your gaze, even though your jaw tightens a bit when a scraggly man with broken teeth smiles and stares just a little too long, just a little too intently. His skin looks like newspaper, and when you start to think you can read your name in a missing person's ad somewhere in the folds of his neck, you avert your eyes.

The next block is packed with lunch-hour window shoppers, so you detour up a block, past the little espresso shop that always plays such beautiful arias. You smile, and look for the girl with the red hair, serving cheap coffee to the art students for no tips and sneers, but it must be her day off.

The front of the old library has obfuscated by great billowing tarps of orange and blue, in a framework of rebar. It takes you longer to snake your way through the chaos of hard-hats and lunch traffic, and as you slow to check your watch, your cellphone rings again. Using your teeth to work the antennae up, you lean to one side as you wedge it between your ear and your shoulder.

Something hits you, hard, on the right side of your neck, and you drop your phone. You start to bend after it, but you feel suspended from the ground, like your clothes have been nailed to a wall behind you. You gasp, frown, and reach your hands to your face. A croak escapes your throat and for some reason, that small sound snatches a dark man passing from his own walk. His eyes scan you and go wide. He drops his own breifcase.

"Oh god," he whispers, and reaches his hands toward your neck. You flinch, darting your eyes about for someone to see, to help, as you start to raise your own palms in defence. But it's like the nerves have been cut. You know they feel cold and distant, like when you fall asleep on them, and they feel so drastically different from the heat that is growning around your neck and chest.

Hard hats come bobbing, and for a moment, you think that they must look like wild poppies moving in the breeze from the patios across the street. There is shouting, and all of a sudden they're all crowding you, looking into your eyes.

"Hey? Hey! Can you see me? Can you speak?" A burly man with a blue hard hat and a tool belt peers into your face, his hands hovering but not touching your shoulders. You're not sure what's wrong, but you know you want to sit. You want the feeling back in your arms, and the aching in your abdomen to go away. You open your mouth again, and whisper "sit".

"I, uh, Jesus, I don't think you can," the blue hard hat sways gentle side to side, telling you 'no'. You can hear ambulances, and you think, this is too much. You don't need a doctor. You just need a sit-down. Some water, maybe.

There's a crowd around you, and suddenly you feel guilty, having spent most of your life forcing yourself to look them all in the eye and smile every day, thinking that was the only way they'd share anything with you, least of all, concern.

You feel your muscles begin to twitch as you think you're putting your hands up against their concerns, when a medic jumps out of an ambulance and pales at the sight of you. He turns to his partner who's followed close behind; "We can't move this one. We can't even lay 'er down."

You frown, and will him to look back at you. You have a NAME. You have a voice, even though it's failing you. You want him to look at YOU. His partner - older, a mind-reader - pushes people back and looks you in the eye. He's not afraid to touch you. "Ma'am, listen to me. A peice of rebar fell from one of the upper stories, and it's lodged itself next to your neck. It's a little over three feet long, I'm told, so the other end is somewhere..." his gaze breaks from yours and follows the contours of the left side of your frozen body, and as he reaches out his hand, he signals a 'may I?' and you somehow agree, "Somewhere here," he says, gingerly pressing against where you've always envisioned ovaries would be.

The look of calm on his face wavers, and you know he can feel this metal bar through your loose flesh, but you can feel nothing. By now, strangers have come to your sides and are trying to prop you up without hurting you, but no one seems to notice that you still feel nothing.

"There's nothing we can do. The only thing keeping you alive is the pressure of the bar. What do you want us to do? Can we call someone?" Still somewhat upright on the streets of the city where you work, you look at these shocked and eager faces. This is not a bad way to die, you know this, but you don't want anyone else to see it. You're worried about Jamie.

A bystander has rifled through your breifcase and come up with a picture of Jamie at age four, at his birthday. "He'll be okay," they say, holding his picture up for you to see. Your brother has Jamie suspended by his ankles in a party hat with his fiance at his side, and the stranger laughs nervously and says, "there's a lot of love left for him," which breaks your heart.

Suddenly you're so very grateful that they're all strangers. There isn't a person in your life that would have known what to say, or what to do. All there is left is a way to find a way to say 'thank you' before you close your eyes.
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A rather strange kind of 'Want-Ad'... [01 Sep 2004|08:43pm]
[Before I begin, I'd like to apologize if there is a moderator that feels the need to delete this, if I have offended anyone, or if it is posted out of place. If the latter is the case, please direct me to a more appropriate venue.]

If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain...Collapse )

Oh yes, and this has been cross-posted.
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# 3 [17 Aug 2004|08:38pm]
I get up in the morning and I feel so separated from the rest of the world. I mean, what do normal 22 year old males do on Saturday mornings? Or better yet, is it possible to be a normal male and not be typical? Before I even open my eyes, this flit of a thought marks the beginning of another day.

Take this morning, for instance.

I'm pulling an old t-shirt over my head before I shuffle downstairs to the kitchen, checking for holes or inadvertant skin (I'd long ago learned what it meant to live with Gran) and instead of finding her sitting complacently since nearly the crack of bloody dawn with her coffee and paper, there's a girl. And not the kind of girl that makes me wish I lived in a movie so I would wake up with perfect hair, dressed in a suit, either.

The kind of girl that's about 8 years old, in pink shorts and a pony-tail, swinging her legs and kicking the kitchen table legs. Her stockinged toes are skimming the blue linoleum as someone makes an inhuman noise of surprise. We're both startled, but only I made the noise.

"Um, who are you, exactly?"

"I'm Emma. I live next door. Your mom took my mom to the hospital. She's pregnant. Well, not anymore I guess because pregnant means she's got a baby inside and I think the baby's out by now."

"My mom?" I'm confused, obviously.

"Yeah. She has spikey blue hair and lots of bracelets. And scary red nails."

"Oh, no. That's my grandmother." I turn from my half-grin inspired by coffee as this child goes on.

"Oh. You should probably tell her that all the kids think the red nails are from blood. Just so you know." She nods and nibbles at the cookie in front of her.

"I'll uh, keep that in mind. Did she leave any kind of... note, or anything?"

"You mean like to tell you what to do with me? Nope, which is too bad. My mom says nobody really knows what to do with me. I'm 'pro-cautious'," she says, nodding again and emphasizing her last word.

I swallow the laughter along with my coffee and pull out the chair across from her. I lean back in my chair, absently thinking; 'some days should just come with popcorn'.

"Well, Emma, what do you want to do?"

"Um, well, can I do anything?"

"Within reason. But yes, I guess so."

"Well, I want to know about you."

I'm sure I raised an eyebrow just then. Despite the redundancy, I probably raised two. "Like what...?" I trail off.

"Well, you wear a lot of black. Are you going through 'a rebellion'? My mom says that's what teenagers do."

"Well, I'm not a teenager. I'm 22. And I just like black, I guess. It's easy to match stuff to."

"That makes sense, I guess." She nods and nibbles futher. "Can I have some milk?"

"Sure, no problem." I get up and I have my back to her and my face in the depths of our refrigerator when the next question arrives.

"Do you have a girlfriend?"

I turn around and let the door close. I slump against it a bit, fumbling blindly in the nearest cupboard for a glass. Shaking my head into the glass, I answer; "No."


"Because I haven't met a girl who likes me, I guess."

"Why not? You wear tight shirts, and have muscles. Tiffany says that tight clothes on a guy who knows how to have a good physical is what girls want." She nods, wide-eyed and expectant in my direction.

Moving my neck but not nodding 'yes' or really shaking my head 'no', I place the glass in front of her. I'm half-way to being knee-deep in a definately scarring conversation, scratching the back of my neck, when-

"Joe! I see you've met Emma, our little guest! Isn't she just darling?" Gran winks over Emma's head and know Gran's been listening, and was probably quite enjoying what she heard.

Fake smile and everything, I nod along. "Oh yes. We've been talking. Apparently she's seen me around quite a bit, but I've never met her."

Cupping Emma's chin in her palm, Gran grins again. "The ways of girls, right Emma?" Emma nods, knowing not what she agrees to.

I raise and eyebrow and rinse my mug in the sink. "I've got some things to do today. I wasn't planning on being back until later, unless you need me around here...?" I trail off.

"Go ahead. I don't need you for awhile. And, uh, Joe?"

Halfway back into the hallway, I pause. "Yeah?"

"Keep your eyes open, for once." Confused but not willing to question my Grandmother the cryptic messenger when I was standing in my kitchen with a premature stalker, I nod like I understand and walk away.

I felt a little like Emma, then. In more ways than one.
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In the beginning, God said: [16 Aug 2004|08:43pm]
Okay, so, the ironic part of that is that none of it ever happened. At least, not like that.

I didn't create in the world in 7 days. In fact, I faked you all out! PSYCHE! There is no light, or dark. There are no cute little aminals, and there definately isn't a tempetuous young Eve chasing a phallic snake.

And then all Creationists died of heart attacks. Mleh - whatever. I'm avoiding admitting to the fact that I embellished a little bit.

It's been said that I'm just a geek with an over-active imagination, but then again I'm not into RPGs so that rules that out. Heh. I'd like to think that I'm just a guy with way more going on inside the head than outside the mouth.

Speaking of mouths, Lily, - that fantastic blond - she exists. And, really, so did that party. Though all those witty comments were inside my head and greatly outweighed the amount of food that came out of my mouth in the not-so-fun way. Like I said, more going on inside, than out.

But Kim did make that completely ridiculous statement about the Sangria. That pretty much inspired the whole imaginary evening. For some reason I was convinced I was smarter and cooler than her, at least on the inside. So I set about creating a story that showed this.

But it's hard to keep track of that many lies. It went really quickly from a great literature beginning ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...") to a second-rate 1980's B-movie ("I don't want to be a girl, waiting for a boy to call"). And that in itself is redundant. It's also ironic that the moment I swayed from the truth is became crappy writing. I mean, I wish I was that "too cool for you to look directly at me" kind of cool, but I can't just tell the truth for 400 some-odd pages. I wouldn't be telling any kind of story. It would be the world's greatest novel of how my brain works, and then it would win all kinds of awards and the entire world would predict how I'd react to everything and then what fun would life be?

Man, do I suck.

Speaking of sucking, but not really, somebody told me that I came off as extremely horny. I seriously thought I was the dignified version of horny; lonely.
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Beginning the Beguine [15 Aug 2004|04:52am]
Like all good modern literature or film, the momentum of my life didn't really pick up until one Friday night, in and amongst a thousand other days.

Sometimes it's hard to say why that day is the beginning, but without questioning the why, you can see that it just kind of was.

I remember standing on Gill's lawn, wet and with mud all over my new shoes. Shouts and bass seeped from steamed windows, and I could just about taste the awkwardness that awaited me. It became a Shakespearean moment; "to go in, or not to go in,". When, at nearly 22 years of age, I found myself crouching behind a decrepid rhododendrom bush in order to avoid all the still-arriving guests from our old highschool, I figured it was time to just do it. Fast, like a bandaid.

(Once a geek, always a geek.)

After all that pacing and shifting from one foot to the other and making like I was doing something important with my cellphone, nobody even heard me knock. So I followed suit with the last guest and just walked in.

"Joe, hi! Glad you came! Have a drink! Look, I'm in a little bit of a bind with this ice, but if you could just make sure most of the dirtier shoes stay in the closet there, that'd be great."

That would be my friend Gill. Plump, but had all those terrific girl-next-door features; curly orange hair, green eyes, freckles. Ever the hostess, too. Her decency wasn't lost on me, but I've never been good at making decent girlfriend choices.

"Heya, Gill. Sure, don't mind at all. Anyone I might know gotten here yet?" I gingerly pick my way through muddy shoes that gape at me with open mouths. Mouths drawn into painfully large 'o's with mud streaks. They look like I feel.

"Kim's around, and I think Seth's expected. But listen, I really gotta go back to the party and keep an eye on things." She'd been struggling with a cooler of ice from the floor, and I scooped up the vacant end and we made our way into the kitchen.

Backing in, I push the swinging door right into a swaggering Kim.

"Well hello, sexy," Kim said as soon as the cooler touched dry land. Her finger trailed down my neck and as I grasped her hands in front of me her breath wafted over.

"I think someone put sex in the Sangria," she whispered loudly, and fell into me.

"I'm not that bloody lucky," I muttered.

"What?" She asked.

"I said, 'let's get you some coffee', how's about?" I put one arm around her small waist and her weight pulls us towards the party.

"Why?" She asked again, dazed.

"Kim?" I inquired down at her.

"Joe! When did you get here?" She offered quizzically as I removed myself from her grip.

I look over her head behind me and make eye-contact with a mingling Gill, dish-rag in hand. I mouth the word 'coffee' and go back into the kitchen.

It was then that I was abducted into the hostess' "team" and figured this Friday night wouldn't come with sleep. I made fresh coffee and propelled vomit towards useable basins. When I patted Kim's last chunk of regurgitated pizza into the toilet via her shoulders, she slumped against the tub, legs splayed.

'She either wants to talk, or have sex.' I thought.

"Joe, you're so nice. Why are you so nice?" She asks, brushing stringy hair out of her mouth.

'Aah, talking. Thank you God.' Outloud I say; "Because I don't want the girl." It's wrong, I know, to confuse a drunk. But who made her drunk? Not me.

"What girl?"

"The girl all the bad guys want."

"Kurt's a bad guy. He tried to put his hand up my skirt." I survey her red vinyl mini-skirt and think, 'why can't I be a bad guy?'.

Pouting, she tries to stand. I let her, until she nearly falls then I support her weight and kick open the door. "How about a nap, now? You'll be right as rain in a few." Days, I think.

I finally ditch Kim on Gill's spare bed and attempt to make my way back into the party. I pushed amidst a group of people into the wall, and then I see her. I swear there was heaven'y light and everything.

One of those goddess types; coiled blond hair, denim jacket, and pants covered in buckles. I wanted to undo every one of those buckles with my mouth, on the spot. I dismissed it though. She's probably not terribly aroused by recounting the day's quantum phsyics homework.


Fuck, I don't know where to go from here.
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The first word. [14 Jul 2004|06:42pm]
The first word is always the most difficult. But then I'd sit here and it would be the first word over and over again, until it was no longer a word.

First though, I'd have to pick a word. I guess I'll go with calamity.

I'll leave you with that, for now.
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