Chapin City Blues

Writing is writing whether done for duty, profit, or fun.

“Tell each other stories”

October 16, 2016


“So when do you think you’ll publish a book?” he asks. There’s nothing condescending hiding within his voice, but his weasel smile still angers me. There are times when I want to trust him, but this isn’t one of them. The knowledge of what he’s capable isn’t lost on me. I know better than to share my secrets with this tiny man.

“I don’t know,” I say. Yeah, I do. There were plans in the past where being a published a writer was the end game. I imagined penning the novel that would move people. That would grab men by the balls and women by the heartstrings. That would make the readers uncomfortable with themselves. Make them question what gets them hard. What gets them off.

These days, those plans are behind me. I write when I can. The need has dried up. And I’m ok with that. There are time when I think about getting started again. Let my boredom create worlds and people. Let my fingers clatter away at the keys. Hear the orchestra of pen to paper as my scrawl fills journals. Wake up to the sound of a character’s voice.

Every project I started these days has ended up the same. Unfinished. Forgotten. Left in the note-taking stage. And it’s not something I want to tell this man, because as I recalled the only reason why they hired me in the first place was because I possessed a certain skill of molding words into images. Images that captivated people. That drew others to me.

“I haven’t written enough,” I tell him.

At home, I busy myself with television. I vowed to read a hundred books this year, and only managed twenty-two so far. I spend as much time with Shaun as possible. And by that, I mean we’re both on our respective devices while the hours figuring out puzzles. That is until I realize that the best days are burning quickly. Then we tend the garden. We run. We play hide-and-seek, and each time my heart catches in my throat when I can’t find him. And when he seeks up behind me to catch me, I feel relief.

The dreams returned after a few year hiatus. In them, we’re happy. They started off as memories. False memories. Memories from another dimension where we didn’t split at the seam. And they become heavier. I feel her lips on mine. Her touch upon my skin. The heat of her breath on my neck. I shudder awake. I stare at the darkness of my bedroom. I listen to the whirl of the fan, of the a/c. I have never felt more alone than I do after one of those dreams.

And just like that, the voices come to me. Almost in unison.

“Hey,” they say. “We’re not finished with you just yet.”

First Day of Autumn

September 30, 2015

An egg sits alone. An egg sits alone in a nest. An egg sits alone in a nest which is tucked upon the branches of an oak tree that shoots up from the middle of the yard. This tree, which houses the nest in which the lone egg sits, towers high above the other trees. Its shade envelopes the yard no matter the position of the sun. And for this reason, the man who lives in the house the yard surrounds, has hung two tire swings upon the lower branches. In the morning, the man pushes his son on the swing on the left side of the tree. In the evening, the man and his son uses the swing on the right side of the tree. And during their hours spent swinging, the egg remains alone in the nest. A breeze blows in, causing the man and his son to head back into the house. The house remained in the man’s family since before he existed. He is the last of his immediate family, and is glad he had a son. The two sit by the window facing the backyard where the tree and the swings and the lone egg in the nest resides. The breeze grows harder and the chilled wind begins to fill the world around them. The man perks up and scurries into the kitchen. His son remains at the table by the window facing the backyard. The son hears his father rattling pots and opening the refrigerator and clamoring things on the stove. His curiosity pushes him to look, but the boy remains at the table by the window which looks out into the backyard and directly at the tree. The two tire swings move with the wind, and the boy marvels at the quickness of the gray clouds roving overhead. Just a few minutes ago, the tree spilled its shade upon the yard and now all shadows were muted by the overcast. The father returns shortly with two mugs. He places one in front of his son and takes his place on the empty seat. He brings his mug to his lips and feels the heat of the hot cocoa rise to greet them. They must be careful—both are prone to burning the tips of their tongues on the first sip. The son laughs at his father’s creamy, hot chocolate mustache while smudging his own with the back of his bare arm. The two remain silent, watching the tire swings sway with the wind. Both shiver at the crack of thunder. Both are enamored by the sound for the prattling rain. And the boy reaches for his father’s hand. And the father takes his son’s hand. And neither one wants to break the silence. Neither of them wants it to continue. And the egg, sitting alone in a nest which its builder tucked within the branches of an oak, begins to tilt. It tilts and tilts and tilts until it crashes into the earth.

Everyone Likes to Pretend

August 19, 2015


You’re out there. Somewhere. Staring at the cursor blinking on the blank page, struggling to string thoughts into words into sentences into paragraphs. Maybe it’s morning, afternoon, midnight. A beer, a whisky, a tumbler of water, or a piping hot tea set to one side of you laptop or desktop computer. Apple of Chromebook or something from HP. Maybe you lost sleep last night, or overslept in the morning. Or you found that perfect set of hours, waking up refreshed and ready to take on the day. You gather textbooks or briefcase or a journal and pen and head off to school, the office, or café. Today is a busy day, or a sabbatical. You beat out a rhythm with a pencil drumstick as you wait for an e-mail to arrive. Or it’s a day at the park. Or one better spent browsing the shelves of your local used bookstore. You scan the titles, zeroing in on the one the cute guy or gal from work or class or the public library spent hours reading during his or her free time. You pick up the novel, the tome, the short collection of stories or poems. It’s something you never read before, or it’s all too familiar. You put it back on the shelf, or reshelf it in the most ridiculous place—like the time you hid that collection of smutty tales in next to the For Her Bibles—or you make your way to the front and buy the copy. You slip away into the crowd, or you head off in the opposite direction in order to avoid running into someone you might have gone to high school with because you hate small talk and you know it’s going to happen when you run into one. Those annoying questions about asking where have you been, what have you been doing, or what do you do these days? Are you still with so-and-so, or the getting the updated news of how a high school sweetheart is married, pregnant, both or deceased. You pace yourself at home, or you avoid eye contact at work.

You’re out there. Somewhere. On a Friday or Saturday night sprawled out on the couch, or lying in bed. A bucket of popcorn rests besides you as you channel surf or scroll through the endless suggestions on Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, or Hulu Plus. You choose to watch a movie, or TV show, or something from you childhood. You turn off the set and the light and just lie in the dark staring at the ceiling as your eyes do their best to adjust. Small explosions erupt in through the black, sending swirls of colors dancing before you. It’s something you want to know if others experience so you reach for your phone to text a close friend or special someone, but stop short because it sets in. While you’re ready to end your day, everyone is just beginning their nights. And while a part of you longs to join the crowd, you know that you don’t belong. All those quirks that make you feel charming leaves an aloof flavor in other people’s mouths. So you think better of it and set the phone back down on the nightstand, on the armrest, or the windowsill. You spend in the night imaging situations, rehearsing lines for Monday when you go back to work, or school, or the bookstore, or park. You practice scripts of dialogue, memorizing all the right words to say when someone asks you about your weekend. You practice your smile, and know it wouldn’t convince anyone but they’ll play along with you because, let’s face it, everyone likes to pretend.

You’re out there. Somewhere. Laughing when you crying would better suit you. Or crying as you remember the laughter you experience in the past, wondering if you can ever reach those days again. You stuff your hands in your pockets and smirk when someone asks you if you’re ok. And you go on a tangent about the origin of the phrase ok and how it’s an abbreviation for a purposefully misspelled variant of all correct. You get on the bus, or behind the wheel, or the passenger or backseat in a carpool. You laugh at all the right jokes. You smile at the right moments. You react the way you’re supposed to. You find yourself in a quiet place at the office, park, bookstore, or café. Take in a deep breath. And pace yourself.

You’re out there. Somewhere.

The End of Phase 2 Pt. 4: Friends, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Human Race (sort of).

May 1, 2015

Last November—during my annual Brovember movie month—I watched 21 Jump Street. I caught the movie in the past on FX, always allotted for time and always censored. I don’t remember much from the movie. It’s not that memorable. Although, it did raise a question I had never thought to ask before: How do adults become friends?

When I met my long-time friend, Meester Binx (obviously not his real name), it was on the playground during our years at Sam Houston. Now Binx will argue with me until he’s blue in the face about that we met in first grade. I know that we met in kindergarten. We were walking in opposing directions and crossed paths. I hopped to my right and he hopped to his left. I moved to my left and he moved to his right. “Cut it out,” one of us said. “Cut what out,” responded the other in classic Dave Coulier fashion. And of course the squeaky, broken voice of typical childhood bashfulness broke the routine we found ourselves in. “Do you wanna be my friend?” This is another thing Binx will argue. In his version of the story, I asked it. In the true version of the story, we both asked it because we were obviously destined to be hetero life mates a la Jay and Silent Bob.

In Junior High (now referred to as Middle School), things changed a bit. The dynamics were the same. Chance introductions led to brief or lifelong camaraderie. And high school dragged those Junior High friends through the mud and I met their girlfriends and reunited with old elementary chums. In summation, I have never been without friends.

Post high school/college, most of my acquaintances were made because of the dire need of having classroom friends in case I missed a day. Those are the ones who “throw away” after the semester is over. If you so happened to share another course together, well, it saved you the trouble of having to make another friend. The friends that I made in college—the real ones—came from being a part of Sigma Tau Delta. And even those are just people have become just faces on social network.

The digital age has altered the term friend viciously. I catch myself several times during conversations. My Internet friend. A friend from Tumblr. This Facebook friend. The word follows or is followed by an adjective, the name of a website where we commune. Some of these people I can say I love. I love Samantha. I love Ashton. I love Jason and all his bearded glory. I love Jenn. I love that bastard Eddie. These are people who I could talk to. Who I’d go out and grab a drink with if I drank. I don’t drink. Don’t invite me out drinking. I’ll only ruin your night. And I’ll probably steal your keys. And your cell phone. Because I love you and I want you safe.

My adult friends are comprised by friends I’ve known all my life. There’s Binx, of course. There’s Monica, and there’s Miranda. There’s Jeanna. There’s Esmer and Jerry, who I met because of Jeanna. Monica and Joe go way back to kindergarten where Miranda came about in high school.

Then there are the work friends. These are the weasels who snaked into my life while I wasn’t watching. I go into every job saying that I won’t make friends. Before I know it, there are new people in my life that I actually enjoy talking to. That I enjoy hanging out with. That I can be a complete idiot around. Who’ll laugh when I need them to laugh at me. Who’ll make a joke to cheer me up. Who’ll invite me to places or force me to attend parties against my will. These are the people I don’t mind talking to, confessing to, confiding in. These are people I’d go out and have a drink with if I drank. I don’t drink. Don’t invite me to go out drinking with you. I’ll only snap embarrassing pictures of you and broadcast them on Tumblr and Instagram and Facebook and my blog (which you’re reading).

Somewhere we stop asking the question. Maybe it’s understood. We don’t need to mimic Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street and sheepishly ask the guy we bullied in high school if he wants to be our friend. We just know. And I love that.

A dream or nightmare

December 19, 2013


There wasn’t much to it. At least not in the end. The various pills and elixirs scattered and spilled on the floor mixed in the piss and vomit. Torrent of tears from mothers with Rosary-wrapped hands held in prayer to a god that wasn’t there while the altar boys knelt to pleasure Father Jesus. The voluptuous, vivacious Virgin vixen lay on the bed, her legs spread open for the offering of saints and sinners alike while the whore superior baptized the children with menstrual blood.

The boy overdose on heroine. Blood clotted the dropper. The injection came in with strong. They televised his death as Saint Francis Assisi held his naked body against his own.

A stained-glass heart. Multicolored facets of Hell. A bit too Catholic for the religious.

Manticore & Other Horrors by Cradle of Filth is available now at Amazon.

Manticore & Other Horrors by Cradle of Filth is available at Amazon.