W. FLOOD : Chapter Sixteen

W. Flood

Chapter Sixteen.

“You Promise? Come on, man. you have to. Promise!”

“Please,” Glory added.

“I promise!” said Salim, the cab driver.

“On the Koran?”

“I said yes.”

“And you promise you will curse at us?” Asked Glory.

“No. I will not,” Salim shook his head.

“It’s part of the whole experience. You have to.”

“Come on, you have to curse at us? Please! We are sorry very about the kissing.”

“Fine. Yes. It was not a nice sight.”

“I have some hefty gratuity in my hand. You’re in? Positive?” I waved the fare and a twenty.

“Yes.” He took the money. “Thank you.”

“And everyone knew Bin Laden was in Pakistan?”

“Yes. I told you. Everyone knew. Even my sister’s goat knew,” Said Salim.

I knew it.

I kissed Glory, I picked up our six pack of Hofbrau I bought back in the city, “Right here is fine, sir.” I said as I leaned in close to her and whispered, “Remember the codeword?”

“Yes.” She mouthed in an overdramatic fashion.

“The fare is 32.50.” Said Salim, overacting.

“Well, that is a fair rate.” She said, winking.

“Indeed, allow me to retrieve my wallet in order to pay this handsome man from Pakistan.”

“Take your time,” said Salim.

“Faith, unity, discipline!” Glory screamed the codeword.

We flung the cars doors open and ran from the taxi, the streetlight caught us for a second, like the flash of a camera as we passed the prehistoric pay phone and into the darkness of the park. The bottles chattered in my arms as I ran. All the times I did this when I was younger I laughed so hard, this time was no different, even if it was staged. It was still thrilling. Glory was ahead of me, completely in character, running from the law, running from everything. The trees lined our path, and I wished there was a bit more light so I could see her ass better. Salim was behind us, he gave chase, running farther than I expected him to, leaving his car unattended. Good sport! When he stopped, he shouted, “Come back you dirty mother fuckers! I hate you! Pay your fare, sister fucker!”

We ran, stopping near the opposite side of the field, smiling under a ponderous moon, catching our breaths.

“Did you hear that guy? Whoa.” Glory stretched, touching her toes.

“I know. He needs a little soap for that dirty mouth of his.”

“This is a nice park and you said you live nearby?” asked Glory, slightly distracted.

“Yes, that way.” I pointed in the direction. I have lived in every direction from this park. “Here, you have to sort of, climb under the fence then hop over the wall.” I pulled the clipped fence away from the wall to make it easier for Glory to slide under.

“Am I going to die?”

“Most likely, yes. By the way, does anyone know you’re here?”

“Creepy. Yes, my therapist.”

“Well then, my plans are foiled.”

I handed down the beers to Glory and jumped into the track. I ran here from time to time. I had executed this action hundreds of times with my friends since the age of twelve.  We sat in the center of the track, on the soccer/football field at about the fifty yard line.

“May I have a beer?” Glory asked

“Of course! Where are my manners? Let me open it for you.”

“Do you spend a lot of time here? Cold.”

“You’re cold”

“No. No. The Hofbrau is still cold. I’m comfortable. Thank you.”

“I haven’t spent much time here lately, at all anymore really , but growing up my friends and I practically lived at this park, between those two schools, Bleecker and P.S. 21 and further down the street at the red house, behind the handball courts. All over this place. You could come to the park at any time and someone would be here to hang out with, the is pre-dating cellphones, of course.”

“That’s nice to always have a place to go when you don’t want to be cooped up at home.” I thought about all those times I left catherine behind. I left her alone with them. Regret stabbed at my conscience.

“I don’t want to talk about me. I want to learn about you. What was it like upstate? Did you have any pets?”

“I had a German Shepard as a kid named Olaf. Back home we have a cat named Barker.”

“Nick?”

“No, Clive.”

“Cool.”

“Do you have any pets?”

“I have a cat, Pangur Ban, she’s dying though. More about you?”

“Well, it appears I had the opposite of you growing up, not a lot of friends since there just wasn’t many people in the town, I spent most of my time isolated. Just me and the woods behind our house. I always wanted to go off to big cities, a lot of day dreaming, pretending I was in New York, Paris, or Tokyo. Anywhere but home. I was, I guess I still am very imaginative. My Dad was so influential in terms of art and all things creative. We would put on productions, he built a stage in the backyard for my sister and I. My father can build anything, super handy woodsman guy. I had an art gallery when I was seven. Its funny, I never wanted to play with my sister. I was always like go away, stop bothering me, what a brat I was. I miss her now though. My mom is nice, she is currently obsessed with Netflix.”

“What is her name? Is your sister older or younger? I have a younger sister named Catherine. ”

“My sister’s name is Evelyn. She is two years younger than me. She is so smart. You know what’s weird?”

“What? Tell me.”

“I used to feel so alone at home, and I thought if I went to a big city with all those millions of people I would never feel that loneliness there, but I was wrong. I feel the same here as well.”

“I get that. I kind of want the version of loneliness you used to have. I want to meet your parents. Is that strange? Your dad seems so sweet. They seem, for lack of a better word, hip. I wish I could say the same about my own.” I wish a lot of things were different with my own parents. Everything really.

“ You do? For real? I’d never use the word hip to describe my parents.”

“I normally would never use the word hip to describe anyone. I apologize for my use of the word hip. Didn’t mean it, meant to say cool. Moving on, at night you can see bats here.”

“No way. There’s no bats here. I’m from the woods where there’s real bats and owls and salamanders. There are no bats here.”

“Yes, there are. They used to love these creepy dilapidated bleachers that used to be here but there are still around. Alright, I am baffled and I need to ask you something very personal.”

“You can ask me anything.”

“What the fuck are these things on you hands and arms?”

“That is all? Softball questions. They’re socks. Just socks. Nothing special at all. I buy nice comfy socks and I cut off the toes and wear them on my arms. I like the way it feels.”

“Okay, that’s not weird.”

“Want to hear something embarrassing?” Glory smiled.

“Sure do. I love embarrassment.”

“I was obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t watch that show.”

“Me either, I’m referring to the movie.”

“Oh! Great movie. Kristy Swanson is a piece. Pee Wee was superb. Love him.”

“Wasn’t he? Yes! I was so into it, I watched it so much I broke the VHS, I taped it off cable. I had my dad widdle me wooden stakes, he would dress up as Donald Sutherland.”

“Can I call your dad Merrick?”

“He’d probably like that.”

“So lets recap, you have a cat named barker, you carry wooden stakes and wear socks on your hands.”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Vampires are back in, so that’s schnurrbart.”

“Schnurrbart? I heard you say that earlier, what is that?”

“It is the German word for Mustache. It is my favorite word. It is a word substitution for me. I sort of abuse it and I don’t pronounce it correctly. But I think it’s great.”

“So, this Hofbrau is fucking schnurrbart.”

“You got it, just like that.”

“Your black eye is pretty schnurrbart. Are you going to tell me what happened? Did a girl hit you?”

“Well actually, a nice girl did hit me.”

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W. FLOOD : Chapter Fifteen

W. Flood

 

Chapter Fifteen.

Glory and I stood close together on a corner in the East Village. We competed for the attention of one single yellow cab, with all those self-centered overdressed drunk assholes ruining our city. Go back to wherever it was you came from. Oh, by the way I fucking hate yellow cabs. I hate cabs but especially the yellow ones. Gelb is german for yellow. On the wall, behind us, it read:

I think, therefore I rot.
– W. FLOOD

I faintly remembered writing it, Glory didn’t notice it and Descartes wasn’t impressed.

“Cab. Cab.” Said Glory, pointing to a cab, with the lights indicating unoccupied. It was the one amongst an army of occupied taxis speeding recklessly down second avenue. I waved my hand at shoulder level, half goofy, half frantically. The cab had apparently been sideswiped or involved in some collision, maybe multiple. How do you choose a profession such as a cab driver if you are a terrible driver or possess no understanding of the laws or tenets of the road? It made no sense to me.

The cab halted, and I tried to open the door but it was locked. The man inside, who had a brown complexion, looked to be in his forties, asked, “Where are you going?” There was an accent, Middle Eastern was my hunch. He asked in a way that implied he was in a hurry or we were a bother. We were wasting his precious time.

“Where are we going?” Glory asked looking at me.

“Hi. Queens.” I said, I felt I had to tip toe on eggshells.

“Where in Queens?”

“Whitestone. Flushing.”

“Where? What’s the address? Come on.” The driver seemed suspicious, interrogating us with his eyes and body language.

“I don’t like him.” She whispered in my ear. It distracted me and made me think of sex.

“149 street and 26th avenue.”

He thought about it and something struck him, he remembered something, he reached into a fanny pack lying in the center console. He removed a hard bound journal, leafed through some pages. He found it, “Go fuck yourself, Motherfucker! Not again. Not again. Fuck you!” He tore the fuck out of there, the tires spat back rocks at us.

“What was that about? He was the meanest.” Still, she was smiling.

“What are the odds of getting the same cab driver twice? I have to call Ronald.” I remembered I couldn’t. I could call him but I wasn’t allowing him to be a part of my life. I wasn’t allowing anyone in. I felt a momentary pang of sadness. What have I been doing?

“I’m not sure, really. Ask Ronald. How many cabs are there in Manhattan? Did you recognize him? I would think it’s possible to get the same cab twice.” She said nodding her head. “Who’s Ronald?”

“Ronald is one of my best friends. Well, here’s the thing,  my friends and I were slightly notorious for ditching cabs. We would take cabs to the park,  to where we’re going now, and then we’d bolt right through the fields. I mean we basically lived at the park growing up. Memorial park.  There was no way we were getting caught. We knew the ins and out of the park better than anyone. Some cabbies would give chase and others would just circle for a bit. Most would just dejectedly find their was back to the expressway and go on their way.”

“Foul! That is an awful thing to do, Wilhelm. You took food out of children’s mouths. So mean.”I bit into my lip and shrugged my shoulders in apology.

“I know, I know. Did I just lose cool points?”

“You did.”

“Shit! In my defense there were others so I might have not been the exact person who wronged that particular cab driver. I definitely know those bastards responsible, it’s criminal.”

“Here’s one. Let’s hope this guy has never been victimized by you and your degenerate friends.”

“I will treat him with the utmost respect and tip him generously because of my past crimes.”

The cab that stopped for us, was also battered,  and in very poor condition. A Ford Escape, with a sequence of a four digit, letter and number combinations illuminated on the roof. The NYCTaxi logo on the side, displaying the fare rates. There were dabs of other colors along the dinged fender and dented sides. An advertisement flaunted itself, promoting an off-Broadway play, with a good-looking couple embracing. Glory and I could be that couple. I thought why couldn’t I write a play. I’d write one tonight out of spite.

We stood like vampires off the side of the curb waiting to be welcomed, waiting for acceptance.The driver waved us on. The driver was older than the previous, irascible one. This driver sported one of the most radical mustaches I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in person. It was thick, a chimney sweeper, immaculately white, to the degree it could have been artificial.

“Nett Schnurrbart!” I congratulated him. He either didn’t hear me or pretended not to hear me, a device was crammed into his eardrum preoccupied him as he spoke in a language neither Glory nor I understood.

Glory sat behind the driver while I sat on the passenger side. His license looked outdated with a name I couldn’t pronounce, I normally preferred to address people by their names. I was curious about where he was from. Culture does that to me, it makes me inquisitive. We were politely quiet while our driver, loquacious and a bit unmannerly, spoke vehemently to someone on the other end of his ear piece. Who was it? His wife? Someone back home? Did he like it here in New York? I don’t always enjoy it. People all over the world want to come here to New York City, they venture, some risk everything to be here. People want to live here and all I want is to run away from this place.

I looked out onto the droves of people along Delancey Street, to the looming Williamsburg Bridge, a suspension bridge spanning across the turbulent East River. I counted the light poles. The fire escapes attracted my eyes, all those buildings vandals climbed to paint over one another. Graff was so inspirational, I never regretted defacing anything when I was younger and consumed with it, dawdling away hours practicing on paper while listening to music. Certain albums remind me of those formative years of my adolescence : And Justice For All, Liquid Swords, Reign in Blood, Scratch The Surface.

I became aware of Glory’s leg resting against my own. How do these things happen? I Thought.

“What’s so funny?” Glory asked as her fingers tenderly searched for something in the hair on the back of my head.

“Nothing. I’m good.” I hadn’t realized I was so Jubilate, smiling from ear to ear. I was never the guy who could play it cool. I didn’t know how to stifle my excitement or dismay. I’ve been born with an expressive face at the mercy of my emotions. It is something I’d like to remedy. Maybe it’s a small part of why I was engaged in my experiment of self-imposed solitude. I want to be reserved, more in control of myself, more so than I am.

Glory tugged my face by my ears toward her, our mouths meeting for the first time. We kissed in the back of a smelly, beat-up, sideslipping yellow Ford Escape. You welcome danger when you flag down a yellow cab, that’s a given, but to make out or get down in a cab with the city skyline as a back drop or over a bridge is magnificent. A true New York City moment. I recommend it. I drew her bottom lip into my mouth, gently sucking on it before switching to her top lip. I wanted to kiss her so badly since the moment I walked into Anne Bonny’s. Our tongues introduced themselves with the perfect melange of sweet tenderness and aggression. If only she would want to kiss me this passionately forever, if we could sustain this ardor, I could be happy, as happy as I was in that moment. I know it’s a tall order, it is a lot to ask for. Life has taught me some lessons and I know, the intensity of anything will fade and love, almost always dies. I wanted to be wrong.

Glory’s hands, warm and powerful, pulled at my hair and massaged my head. Our driver slid the little window of the partition closed. My hands were stationed at her hips, on bones I wanted to suck on, I pressed the palm of my right hand as forcibly as I could on the seam of her Levi’s. I could have sat there, with a bib on, lobster and all, and ate every last piece of fabric of the magically applied jeans. I loved how she looked in her blue dress just as much as in these jeans. I would have eaten every last piece of them, I kid you not. With my hand firmly planted, my thumb kneaded her femoral artery, I felt like squeezing her to death. My other hand combed through her lovely black hair, her flawless scalp fit in my grip perfectly. A match made in hell. My lucky tongue made a home in her mouth for the time being.

Not so young lovers finding each other in an insomniac city, under the stars, above the clouds, in each other’s arms. Classic. I was so aroused I could burst. I saw us, together, arm in arm for a lifetime. I saw death. I thought of the Canary Islands, dark stars, encroaching planets, and nuclear deliverance. I wanted her undressed, as I thought about the time we have left alive. What is the life expectancy these days? Whatever it is, and I’m aware it is longer, no matter how long, it would never be enough time with her for me. Would we ever grow distant? Would we ever lose sight of this passion or this uninhibited enthusiasm for one another? I’m getting ahead of myself, but that is how I’m wired. Would we even fall in love? I wanted to fall in love with Glory. I’ve written love letters, billets-doux, I’ve serenaded her under balconies in my dreams, I’ve spoken her name aloud in secret. Was I in love with her already? I hoped I was. I hoped we would metaphorically fall off this bridge. I hoped the Glory I envisioned her being didn’t interfere with the actual life and blood Glory I was getting the opportunity to know. I’ve spent my whole life disappointed because I’ve seen how I wanted things to be before they happened. I could have exploded, a chemical reaction allowing one large Wilhelm to become millions of tiny Wilhelms, all googly-eyed. Imagine that, pure science. If the world was going to end, I wanted it to end then, with her in my grasp, in that fucking filthy cab.

The cabbie periodically looked at us, I could feel his eyes, there was condemnation in those brown irises. Braun. This wasn’t a grotesque display of western lust, maybe he was right, maybe it was, but what if we are all wrong. What if he caught sight of love, real love blossoming and drooling in his car. Our mouths opened, closed, licked, pulled and sucked. I wished she was still wearing that pretty dress from earlier. I pictured the backseat transforming into a sauna, a jacuzzi like the ones in those commercials I saw as a kid, heart-shaped with foamy water flowing over the sides of the tub, pouring through the doors, splashing the driver through the glass partition. Tea lights, lit and lining the back window, illuminating our faces and bares shoulders, our naked bodies perfectly aligning, smashing wine glasses together. The XX played quietly in the background.

She would say cheers.

I would say prost. Slainte.

I would say “Ich liebe dich.”

“I love you too.”

The New York skyline pulsated to our left, Venus and Jupiter peering down on us, as we made our way back to the galaxy of Queens. I have always wanted to leave. I am the daydream escapist. I had escaped in one way, depending on your perception of things. I had briefly escaped everything in Glory’s cradle. I escaped the sight of the dirty roadsides of the Brooklyn-Queens expressway, all the roofs of houses and apartment buildings I normally would wonder about who the occupants were, the billboards reminding us of the loss of jobs and revenue, the counting down of exits, the pile of bills I can’t keep up with waiting for me at the apartment, the planes flying overhead, La Guardia airport, the treetops, the structures that I pretend are satellites. I escaped all of it, momentarily. I didn’t think about falling out of the cab, not even once, I didn’t even feel any apprehension for returning home. An intuition instilled in me by my adolescence. Nothing existed outside of the cab, everything else was meaningless and remote. We were the only things that mattered, the only things animated in a dead world.

W. FLOOD : Chapter Fourteen

W. Flood

Chapter Fourteen.
I was thinking about Glory, hunger strikes and wormholes when Mcloughlin called me over to the bar and we resumed our conversation from where we left off last week.

“I know it is a rough, Wilhelm. It’s a shit time for the young people of today. The world is in the shitter. Arab spring. Corruption. War. Ponzi schemes. Staggering unemployment. War. War all the time. Bukowski. Is today thursday?”

“It is.”

“Never mind what day it is, Wilhelm. War is Everywhere. The world is stretched far too thin and it’s nose diving. Everything is oversaturated and sucks. There was a writer that said something, don’t quote me, he said something like if he had to start out now as a young up and coming writer he’d probably kill himself. How old are you?”

“I’m 28.”

“Do you know who said that?”

“Not sure. Updike?” I wasn’t sure, so I drank some more beer.

“Fuck it. Who cares. Someone said it and it’s true.”

“True stories.” I drank more beer.

“What are you doing with yourself, lad?” asked Mcloughlin, with a screwed face, pointing his pint glass at my face. “That eye is bad, lad. Jesus. Rub a little oatmeal mixed in with some warm water on it. It’s hurting me just looking at you.”

“Alright but what do you mean what am I doing?”

“For fuck’s sake are you dense? You’re not very wide. I mean what are doing with your life? What do you want out of life.”

“I don’t know.” It was the truest thing I’ve ever said.

“That is complete shite!”

“It changes. I want something invariably different than the life I’m leading now.”

“So change it. It’s up to you.When I was your age I was in paris, wandering around Europe, Jesus Christ, there was so much sex and creativity was everywhere. It really was. Everywhere you looked was inspiration and still I often felt like there was no purpose to anything. Maybe there really wasn’t any purpose. But we gave meaning to things. We have to.”

“I don’t have the money to go away. I can’t afford to go to Europe.”

“Wilhelm, my boy, you’re too hard on yourself. We talk, well, I talk, sometimes you talk but what you say says a lot about you. There is no such thing as a bright side with you. Hell, it doesn’t exist. Why is that? I thought we were a sad lot. I miss my wife and all but you’re the one in mourning. It’s in those green eyes, boy. You have to appreciate what you have and acknowledge your potential and trudge on. I wouldn’t say you feel sorry for yourself but I fear you think its over. You’re how old?” McLoughlin looked somewhere inside his mind for the answer to his question, gave up and fixed his messy white hair, then planting his hat back on.

“28.” 

“28. I knew that, too. Fuck. I used to be sharper. You’re a small one. Speaking of small ones. Rhys! A round of small ones.”

Rhys lined up five shot glasses and poured Tullamore Dew into them without spilling a drop. I still hated him.

“What are we toasting to?” said Rhys.

“To Flood here. With this flood, with this flow into the beckoning arms of the open sea, with this expansive return, I want to make a confession and proclaim you as no one has yet done. Slainte”

“Slainte!” said Brennan with the nod of his head.

“Thank you,” I said wiping my mouth.

“Hits the spot. What was I saying?” asked Mcloughlin.

“You think that I think that my life is over.”

“You view life as an antagonist. You need to see her as she truly is. Life is your heroine. You have your youth, you have her still. She is brave and noble and beautiful, and she is still in your corner. You working on anything?” probed Mcloughlin.

“Bits here and there, nothing cohesive.”

“You need discipline. Why aren’t you writing everyday.”

“I am. I’m just busy and tired and stagnant and frustrated.”

“You write about a house. See. It can be anything. it can be about anything. It’s a one act play, or poem or novel, whatever. It’s the same. You write about a house, the house is a metaphor. You build this house, any way you want, it’s the house you envision, not me, not fucking Brennan. You. So you’ve built this house. The people inside the house, the subjects, the protagonist, antagonist, whatever you want to label it. They fuck. Literally, they fuck, I’m serious. Then after all the fucking, you burn the house down. Destroy the fucking house.”

“I’m going to. Destroy the house.”

“Destroy the fucking house! Repeat after me, destroy the fucking house.” He raised his pint glass to me.

“Destroy the fucking house.” Sound advice. Glory walked in and I tried not to look too stupid.

“Our lady friend is here.”

“I see. What was that quote from. Before, the one you recited during our shot, who was that from?”

“Our comrade Rilke.”

“I wish I could memorize shit like that.”

“Why? It makes no difference. I’m no wiser than you, boy.”

“Are you ready to leave?” asked Glory hopping in between Mcloughlin and myself.

I said yes, but the truth was I’m always ready to leave.

W. FLOOD : Chapter Thirteen

W. Flood

Chapter Thirteen.

A dead end kid from Whitestone, Queens who pursued the will ‘o the wisp. We were lost under the North Star and scorned under the condemning eyes of the moon. We walked in circles along those familiar streets, loitering around pay phones with no one to call, waiting with tired muscles and swollen eyes for the bastard of a sun to rise. What is a pay phone? Relics of an era I would love to forget. Pay phones only remind me that I am nothing. There is no one to call for help.

“Get the fuck out of my house.” He yelled, his face bursting with fire. “Pieces of shit.” We left with no where to go.

It happened so many times I had lost count. Pick a number between 25 and 100, okay, got one? That’s it. You’re getting good at this. They fought all the time. Hattie, in her outdated hairstyle and him, in his three button polo shirt tucked into his sweatpants. Fashionistas, Pioneers of the industry, real fashion plates. My parents, the trendsetters, well not really. I use the word parents loosely, as loose as his pants. Hattie and her second husband, devotees to the unkind word, wedded to altercation, bounded by degradation. There were normal people in this world, I mean, there had to be. Catherine and I just didn’t live with any of them. Catherine and I weren’t living normal lives of children. I don’t know what normal is.

“Take your fucking piece of shit kids and get the fuck out of my house. This is my house. My fucking house!” said Hattie’s Second Husband, thumbing repeatedly at himself. “ My house. Not yours. Not my fucking kids. Yours. Where’s their fucking father, oh right.” He was laughing and yelling at her, slamming his things in his house, while we waited in our room, one of his rooms he allowed us to occupy. “This is not your house!” I never thought it was my house. I believed I was destined to always feel like an unwelcome guest everywhere during my duration on this earth.

Hattie, who I can envision opening the door hundreds of times wearing different ugly clothes, mascara running seven minute miles down her sad face. Did I inherit that same sad face? It was always the same dumb routine. The witching hour. The smell of stale booze. A display of pot-valiancy. Catharine was so tiny, looking shamefully beleaguered in her pajamas. We were handed garbage bags. Hefty. We went through our dresser drawers and filled them with clothes. We would leave his house, discarded to the side of the curb like the garbage we were but it would be years before it was a definitive move.

“Fuck you, you fat fuck.” Hattie slammed the door behind her, the last word doesn’t always work. There was not much she could really say, she had no legs to stand on. He would shout obscenities out the window to us.

Hattie, lead us with her impaired physical and mental faculties under the moonlight. We walked around Whitestone looking for a place to camp out. I followed Hattie’s sways, looking at the height difference between my mother and sister. I thought about murder, grilled cheeses and the pullout couch, that never ever got pulled out, but was designated as my bed anyway. I was in motion, so naturally, I was navigating through odd tangents within my mind. I wanted to never return to that house. His house. We would find our corner arbitrarily, usually when we closed in on exhaustion. I’m certain she expected to be found by a guardian angel or something. The fact no one  we knew ever drove by us or saw us on a corner was a miracle in its own right. Where was Hattie’s bright side? Where was her pride? Where were her maternal instincts? Why would she stay with him in his house? Why would she choose addiction over her children? I didn’t understand her enslavement or why she couldn’t release herself from her various level planes of abuse. My hate grew for Hattie as my worry increased for Catherine well being and future. Our chances were bleak.

On a corner in Whitestone, on any given night, I sat with my mother and my sister, while they cried, I looked at the stars. I knew then there was no point to life. I knew I knew nothing, about anything at all. I knew I would never have anything for myself. I wanted to learn more about the stars, to have a proper understanding of them. I wanted to have better knowledge of the zodiacs, in order to recognize constellations, I wanted to be able to direct myself under the helm of the sky. I hated the sun for rising. The conversations we had about our possible destinations were all bullshit, we were wasting our time waiting for the sun. When the sun rose we cowardly snuck back into his house, we pathetically assumed our worthless lives, her Second Husband would be snoring on the living room floor. Where was our dad? What star was he under? These nights that shaped Catherine and myself never happened, those long nights were never mentioned in the morning. It could be he never remembered it happened at all. It could be Hattie just chalked it up with all the others. Those nights were store in her mental rolodex with all of the other traumatic events she couldn’t come to terms with. Catherine or myself would never forget those nights, although, we rarely speak of it ourselves. I never cried. I never cried because all I’ve ever really wanted to leave, I’ve always wanted to leave, each time it happened my eyes were deserts, pick one, I only just hoped when it happened again then next time we were told to leave, I hoped we would actually listen to him and would never return to his house.

W. FLOOD : Chapter Twelve

W. Flood

Chapter Twelve.

I remembered walking into the bullshit offices of some psychiatrist.

I went to a shrink one time that was recommended to Hattie by someone, probably by some loser from the neighborhood. I thought to myself then she needed the help more than I did. I thought it now. I wanted to open up about everything that broke my heart but I couldn’t. We barely touched the surface. I was embarrassed by my feelings. I was 11 or 12 years old. Maybe I should go and talk to Tanya. I wondered if she was good looking or not.

Before Glory left Anne Bonny’s to go unload her baggage to Tanya, I watched her get ready. I was gushing, trying hard to contain my elation, but it wasn’t working. It never worked. I saw Glory in her cute manner, counting money and exchanging close illegible words with Rhys. Rhys was Glory’s co-worker at the bar and they kissed on the cheek when he arrived and spoke closely. I wanted to know what they said to one another. I wanted to know what their relationship was.

I admit I felt jealous of him, her mouth was a inches away from his, so close to his stupid ears. I shouldn’t have felt jealous, but I couldn’t help it. I can’t help feeling any of the dumb or ridiculous things I tended to feel. That was my problem. It didn’t matter that later on I might have her breath sweetly blowing in my ear, it still stung me. Was I such a weak human being? I suppose that any confidence I thought I had was a mirage. There was more to it, really.

Rhys looked at me and, full disclosure, I didn’t like the look he gave me. The way I saw it, if you permit me some poetic license, it was as if Rhys knew my inner thoughts, he acknowledged my feelings for her, knew of my obsessing of her and he mocked me in a single glance. Why I am so frightened of someone knowing what I’m thinking of anyway? She would speak into his ears, even he’s fucking ears were chiseled out of some ancient grecian marble, and he would look at me. Rhys also wants to be an actor and models from time to time. I’ve overheard him talking. His stupid wannabe actor eyes appeared to taunt me, saying things to me like I fucked her, over and over. I fucked her. I, the unwilling voyeur forced to bare witness to the imaginary love of my life being penetrated by a droid from a men’s underwear. I pictured them, after closing, behind the bar, Rhys behind her, moving her hair to the side and kissing her neck, caressing her covered arms down to her hands, guiding them ahead and planting them palms down. With a gentle tap of his foot to spread her legs apart, he reeled up her snug blue dress, blau, that also made me think of Isabella Rossellini. Which then made me think of Isabella Rossellini’s mouth, I hated Rhys a little less, what remarkable lips Isabella Rossellini has. In my mind Glory wore no panties, but clearly on that day she was wearing underwear. I noticed those kinds of things, especially when she keeps walking back to the bar to get us fresh pints. Did I tell you I sometimes despise my imagination? I hated my thoughts, as I often did. I hated Rhys for fucking Glory in my head, and probably in real life as well. I hated it because I wanted to be the one to do all of those wonderfully blissful and naughty things with her. It wouldn’t just be fucking. Maybe it would be. Who really knew?

She put on her leather jacket, I can’t explain it but I wanted to eat it, I wanted to eat all of her clothes. I wanted to tear her clothes off with my teeth and masticate and swallow every thread of them. I was so easily clouded by my infatuation, I was smitten by her every move. I hoped it wasn’t so obvious, but it probably was, I’ve never had much tact.

So I wrote whatever came to mind, a free write, a stream of consciousness with no limitations, no punctuation. It was all about her. I’ve written so much about women in my twenty-eight years on this planet. I wrote about women I knew intimately, those I’ve never met but wished I did, those I’ve met and wished I hadn’t and then there was Hattie, I wrote about her from time to time. It was her gift of sadness she bestowed on me. A sadness she cultivated over the years, primping and conditioning me with ennui since birth. I have always been a saccharine person. It’s true. I closed my eyes and shook my head.

I entered stage left. We were in feudal japan, maybe the Edo or Meiji periods, which do you think is a better setting? Imagine a Kurosawa or Mizoguchi film, feel free to add your own filmmaker, I’m flexible. Glory was fully dressed in traditional Japanese garb, writing a love letter in penmanship that brings ballets to mind. I entered the scene, from behind the rice paper door. We were in the arc of the plot of some made up play.

“Wilhelm.” Glory called out.

“I can’t go on like this.” My weeping face rested in my hands.

“Like what? What’s wrong? I love you. What is the matter?”

“No! I am not good enough. I don’t deserve your love.” Over dramatically sobbing ensued, I unsheathed my sword.

“I have shamed you by not being the husband you warrant, I can’t provide you with the life you should have. I am without merit. Such shame can not be tolerated. My love for you is not enough, not in this rapacious world. I want more for you than I can ever offer. I will eviscerate myself, metaphorically and then literally.”

“I don’t want this. I want you. Don’t! I need you!”

“I have dishonored us. I must.” With the motion of the blade aimed at his stomach, wet red intestines splashed the ground covering the black silhouettes of a audience, the stage lights faded to black. A moment later the the lights return and the curtains drawn, glory and I hand in hand, bowing to the applause.

There was the darkest of blood staining my feet that have never been kissed by the sun.

W. FLOOD : Chapter Eleven

W. Flood

Chapter Eleven.

Glory and I spoke about things, trivial things, meaningful things.
“Would you care to assist me at the jukebox? I want to drown out their nagging.” Glory said, thumbing behind her at the bar. “The jukebox is digital so the selections are pretty expansive. It has almost everything.”

“I’d love to.”

At the jukebox, we stood together and I wanted to be bold and daring, wrangling her in close and sniffing her neck, tightening her lovely black hair in my hand, slowly inching her mouth towards mine. I wanted to go against any civilized notions I adhered to. I was capable of animalistic behavior, I still am. Her neck turned me on. It begged for my hand, a firm grip. My firm grip. I took out my wallet and went for some cash to feed in the machine.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“Paying to play songs.”

“I work here, when I play songs it’s free. Put your money away.” She typed in her selection, I didn’t see what she picked because I was looking at her reflection. The jukebox was made to look retro. I liked that. I liked the look of older things. “There it is. Had No One Ever by The Smiths. My absolute favorite song of theirs. Your turn, Wilhelm.”

“What do you listen to? Do you like The Murder City Devils?” I picked 18 Wheels.

“I listen to a bit of everything. I have heard of them but I don’t believe I’ve actually listened to them. I like Moz, Portishead, and Deftones. I’ve been wearing out The XX album. The bring me your love record from City and Colour. Depeche Mode. I listen to a lot of stuff but I’m drawing blanks right now. And you, you metal head?” She picked Get Fighted by Alexisonfire. “Oh yeah, lately and I’m completely obsessed with Chelsea Wolfe. She appears to be able to do no wrong.”

“I am, too! I like everything as well. For me, recently it’s been steady helping of Gorgoroth…”

“Gorgoroth. You like Lord Of The Rings?” she was so excited.

“No. Not at all. I guess you do.”

“Boo! Love it! Go on.”

“Taake, Kverlertak, Mutoid Man, Cuby and The Blizzards, Watain, Vincent Price Is Right. Thorn Constellation. Tomorrow’s Victim. Dehumanized. There are so many bands to choose from but then there are the bands that always resurface into the mix, like Glassjaw, I love old Cradle of Filth – Principle of Evil to Midian, Metallica, Megadeth, Converge, Scarlet. I could keep going. Portishead is one of my all time favorites.” I picked Zombie Eaters by Faith No More.

“That is a lot. Obviously, I am aware of Metallica and Megadeth, not so much the others. I am a little curious about what they sound like. I can’t do anything without music. You can play them for me sometime. Do you listen to the radio?” Glory selected Demolition Lovers by My Chemical Romance.

“Good song. I am constantly listening to music, whether at home or when I’m at work. I never listen to the radio. Unless its talk radio.”

“I don’t listen to talk radio. ever.”

“That’s fine. Anyway, I will make you a mix tape.”

“Throwback!”

“Seriously I hate the radio. I never listen to it. I don’t want to hear anything that would be played on the radio. Question? Why are you here now? Don’t you work later on?” I picked Black Rose by Thin Lizzy.

“You know my schedule? Don’t stalk me, man! How do you know my schedule?”

“I don’t know your schedule.”

“Do you know where I live?”

“No, I don’t know where you live.”

“I like this game. What did I have for dinner last night?”

“Chicken parm on a hero?” I guessed.

“Wrong. I kind of always wanted my own stalker.”Glory laughed. 

“Really?”

“No, not really. Whats the matter with you? You know my schedule from your countless hours of surveillance and what not. Have you been rummaging through my garbage? Like in that Morgan Freeman movie.” Glory made a swimming gesture.

“I’d probably rummage through your garbage, but just yours. The movie was Kiss The Girls.”

“That’s right. You, Wilhelm, are a complete mystery. You come in here, you start off as this little timid guy, writing in your notebook and then after a few beers your hugging these old dudes and singing.” Glory picked Sabra Cadabra by Black Sabbath. “I’ve never seen these guys high five anyone until you started coming here. It’s funny. Looks like you get stuck with the one credit tune.”

“I’ll tone it down. I’m just a team player.” I played Borderline by Madonna.

“To answer your question, I am usually here around five, but Rhys needed to switch for some shit. I don’t know. I think he had a lunch date or something. I don’t mind, it makes no difference to me. I wasn’t doing anything. These dudes are waiting at the fucking starting gate. They mean business and business is drinks.” I hated Rhys.

“They’re serious about partying. You and Rhys aren’t together?”

“Me and Rhys? God, no. You’d have a better shot at him than I would. So what are your plans for the rest of the evening?”

“I don’t really have anything planned, per se. Why? Any thoughts?”

“Well, I have to be somewhere in an hour, for about an hour. Then I’m free all night. Would you want to hang out afterwards?”

“I like to hang out. Where do you have to go?”

“I don’t want you to get the wrong idea but I see a therapist once a week, but I’m not crazy or anything. That totally sounded crazy. I’m not crazy. Or am I?” she smiled.

“You’re definite crazy and crazy people never think they’re crazy.” Of course, the object of my most recent affections is certifiable. It all made sense.

“She is like my friend and we talk. It’s just for me to talk to someone openly and honestly. She is a wonderful woman, her name is Tanya, she’s American but was born in Russia. She is very pretty and fun. I don’t really have anyone here I trust. My family is four hours away and I hate phones. My roommate is bonkers. I love her, she is great but she should see Tanya too. There is no one here to talk to? Mcloughlin? Brennan? Segal? I’m not sure about that. It’s hard here. I not going to confide in these three. I just need to get it out sometimes, but it’s difficult with my trust issues.”

Some people talk to a therapist and others talk to cats.

“I have those. Your therapist is fun?”

“Do you still want to see me later?”

“I don’t think we should but I think we probably should.”

“You’re sweet. I hope this isn’t too forward of me. Can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure.”

“Do you have an STD?”

“What?”

“Just kidding. Sorry. I don’t know where that came from. I’ll ask Tanya. Have you ever seen a shrink?”

“Yeah. Is my daddy crazy? Gouda.” I waited for a reaction and got nothing. “No? Strangers With Candy.”

“What is that?”

“A show.”

“Never watched it. Sorry. Let’s watch it together.”

“Too bad. Ok. It’s brilliant. Yes, I have been to a therapist before. A handful of times, to two different psychoanalysts, once when I was about 12 and then maybe three years ago at the suggestion of an ex girlfriend.”

“What did you think?”

“Not for me. The first time I was too young to participate and  to have any real breakthroughs, I wasn’t ready for any proper communication. I was shut down and beyond angry. The second attempt, I was forthcoming, I wanted to build a dialogue between us like you have with Tanya. I wanted to improve how I felt at the time. I just wanted to be a better person, so I thought if I went maybe I could smooth over the things that unconsciously influence my behavior at times. I’ve mellowed, but there is still those things that bother me. Things bother me.”

“You realize you haven’t revealed anything about yourself. Super vague, Wilhelm. Okay, I’m going to get ready to leave. It’s almost six, so I will see you between 8:30 and 9. Give me your phone and I will store my number. Don’t get too drunk, I want you to be sober enough to fill in the blanks. I want to know what you’re all about, what’s bothering you and how you got that shiner.  And do you know you have a black line drawn on your neck, right?”

“Yes, I know. Haircuts.”

“Haircuts? Okay. Alright, so seriously you didn’t say that don’t have an STD so should I assume you do or you don’t actually have one. I assume everyone in the city has at least one.”

“I don’t.”

“Should I assume we’re going to have sex.”

“Wilhelm, you should never assume anything.” She laughed and slid my phone across the table, I caught my phone in my lap, turned it over and saw she entered herself in my phone as Glory Holes.

W. FLOOD : Chapter Ten

W. Flood

Chapter Ten.

Sundeep and I finished our pho and we parted ways.

I couldn’t help it but I felt slightly peeved. I think it’s fair to say that other people’s optimism can be irritating. It is always so easy for others to chime in and say that everything is going to be fine, especially when everything is fine for them, especially when they are not you. I was ready for a pint.

I tried not to fall down the treacherous stairs leading steeply into the cavernous tavern called Anne Bonny’s. I imagined many of the clientele have fallen up the steps after indulging in a jar or two, which is worse than falling down them. It’s easy to fall down. Who tracks the steps of glory to the grave? I suppose I do, Lord Byron. I suppose I do. I happened to enter the dungy establishment by chance, not fate. There was no sign above, no Celtic lettering or neon swoops to inform you of where the fuck you were or what the name of the bar was. You would’ve walked right passed the fucker had it not been for the small, A-frame chalk board. How trendy. It read, in the worst penmanship I’d seen in a long time, and trust me I look out for things like, it said Anne Bonny’s: cheap beers, bad food. The sign spoke to me. I popped in and laid my eyes upon a lass, a gorgeous girl who would not leave my mind, though for her sake I wanted her to. I’m not good for anyone. I damn well knew that. It was in her best interest to not get involved with the likes of me. I have nothing to offer anyone. I am a sinking ship. It’s the best thing for both of us that I simply admire from her afar, to creep rather than to approach, to refrain from taking any action. That’s with the assumption I stood a chance. You have to remember, if you have been paying attention I tend to get ahead of myself.

So I entered that day, some weeks before, to become acquainted with Ms. Bonny. A bar tucked away on the border of the Lower East Side and East Village, the namesake of an Irish woman who solidified her legend in the Caribbean as a pirate, the ever crafty Anne Bonny. I wondered if there was any relation to Billy the kid? Did they even spell it the same way? I couldn’t tell you. Any way, the bar had apparently been the stomping ground of lawless types, thespians, artists and new arrivals from the motherland. It had changed hands a dozen times since its inception, always retaining its name, although, the name was no longer above its blacked out window. The bar itself is made of mahogany imported from Ireland. The walls are lined with bookshelves, pirate gimcracks and Irish keepsakes. Guinness and Jameson are always in attendance, though our good friend Tullamore Dew will always be my favorite. Smithwicks shows also his face. The sign was a liar like one of its patrons,  the burgers and Shepard’s pie were quite delectable. I could vouch for both dishes.

I entered and the usual old men were seated at the bar, talking heatedly about politics or their past, or some shit, I don’t know. I said hello, making one continuous waving motion to all. I think they were debating about the ethics of the government listening to people’s phone conversations. Then I was caught off guard.

“Hey Wilhelm,” said Glory, smiling from behind the taps, pouring a pint. I was still unsettled from the false optimism and irritation of Dr. Ceraso. I wondered if he unwittingly became my own private motivational speaker, or therapist, or was it planned. I was caught off guard by her warm welcome, stunned by her playfulness in her voice, as if we were old friends. My awkwardness was bound to reach new levels.

“Hi,” I said stricken with my introverted tendencies. I attempted to walk to one of the airy booths, when she asked me a question.

“What are you drinking?” It might as well have been a algebra equation. I was stumped.

“Uh, I’ll have, uh. A Stella. Please.” Now was that so hard. “Thanks.”

“Toughy,” she said with a devilish smirk, filling the pint glass to the brim.

I put my things down and gave her money to leave behind the bar, retrieved my pint and cowered all the way to my seat. I wanted to write a novel about us. I wanted to write a novel, period. That was the one thing I desperately wanted to do, Glory was another. Glory. I’ve googled quotes with the word “glory” in it for weeks. Of course, I couldn’t recite majority of them, ok, let’s be honest I probably couldn’t recite any of them. I sipped my beer, wrote a line or two and leered at her, hopefully, without notice or if noticed I prayed to the prince of darkness I was not that creepy. She stood behind the bar in a blue dress, blau, swinging low, with thin straps. Her perfectly palm sized breasts winked at me. Her long black hair, schwartz, probably unnatural but I didn’t mind it one bit, her hair screamed for my fingers to comb through it. She wore tiny diamond earrings. Ocean blue eyes that I swore looked into me and knew everything, all of my sordid thoughts which frightened me more than you knew. The scariest part of it was I felt like she knew me. This woman did something unimaginable to me. This was the kind of woman that did something magical to every man who laid eyes on her. For Glory gives herself only to those who have dreamed of her. Charles De Gaulle said that shit. Well, if you must know, I have dreamed of Glory, I was undoubtedly not the only one dreaming about her.

I thought about writing a letter to her, only never hand it over. To write the love letter there at Anne Bonny’s was in all likelihood, a bad move. A terrible idea. I watched the way she interacted with Mcloughlin, Segal and Brennan. They talked like old friends too, laughing and debating. Those old bastards were real renaissance men, true artists and poets, who sought out higher education and then became expatiates in France, rubbing elbows with Hemingway and Miller between the wars. They left and I envied that about them. They went to France separately, taking in the vitality of the city of lights. They were not the only generation that was lost. Although, the three that lived at this bar did not have the success as some of the others in their exiled community. They get to say they were there. They still made an impression. I thought for a moment, maybe I’m not searching for a place but a time. What if I missed out on my zeitgeist? What if I was supposed to be there then, not now. I’m fucked either way.

I’ve confessed that I have a hard time sleeping. My conscience was steeped in compunction, sleep for me, has routinely been distracted as my faculties are engrossed with worry. If declarations were to be made, I promised I would finally be able to sleep soundly with Glory beside me. I would go to sleep just so I could wake up to her face. Everyday. To wake up beside her would be sublime. These are thoughts and feelings you can’t say to anyone, especially strangers without feeling foolish, or having your honesty turned against you. Much of the way I felt and thought toward aspects of my life normally made me feel stupid, or ashamed. Our feelings are untrustworthy, and at times, my feelings are completely asinine and borderline criminal.

“Hello there. Here,” said Glory, placing a fresh beer on the table. I hadn’t realized I even finished the first pint. How long was I fucking sitting here? She pulled up a chair and had a beer of her own in her half clothed hand. “Are you writing the next great American novel?”

“No. Definitely not. I’d settle for a good novel, or a decent novel. I’d be okay with writing a shitty one too.”

“Shooting for the stars. What is it about?” she asked and sipped her beer. Here we were, bridged by an wobbly table, two pint glasses, an unscented candle, and about one hundred acid free pieces of paper for me to vandalize. What was restraining me from my most animalistic urge to ravish her? Domestication. It was hard enough not to stare. “I’m sorry. I’m Glory. We’ve never formally been introduced.” She offered her hand, a hand I would eat out of. A hand half covered, both hands to be exact were covered in a gray cloth, concealing the knuckles to mid arm. Gräu. Soft linty gauntlets for the lady. What was she hiding?

“I’m Wilhelm.” We shook hands.

“Hello. Do you live the city?”

“I live in Queens.”

“Have you always lived here or are you also a transplant like myself? It seems most people in New York are not actually from New York. City, I mean.”

“It can be problematic. I have lived in Queens my whole life. Where are you from originally?”

“Upstate. A little town called Wells. It’s in Hamilton County. Population six hundred and change. It’s a long drive from here. What do you do for work, Wilhelm?” I loved the way my name sounded out of her mouth. I watched her lips as she spoke. I watched her pronounce each word. I wanted to press my lips to hers, I took a sip instead. Each time I blinked I pictured us, me kicking the table over and grabbing those tiny cloaked hands she let me touch, pulling her into my hold, vise-like, and kissing her. Our mouths, living works or art, opening and closing, a sort of dance, a tango or waltz, you decide. Us, in unison with our frolicking tongues, syncopated in perfect timing. Timing is everything, who said that?

“I am employed but it’s not anything really worth talking about. I’d rather hear about what you do?”

“Well, as you know I tend bar. It’s a place called Anne Bonny’s. You may have been there before.”

“Is it a shit hole?”

“Yes.”

“Then I’ve been there. What do you besides bar tending?”

“I am an actress who doesn’t act.”

“That’s wonderful. I am a writer who doesn’t write.”

“Perfect. My roommate just got a part in a commercial. It’s for Apple. You see her for a nanosecond. She’s like famous now!” Sarcasm. We were perfect for each other, I knew it.

“My glass, look, it’s empty.” Said Mcloughlin, from the bar shaking his glass, and turning it upside down. “Mine’s broken.”

“The service here is in a decline,” said Brennan. “A turn for the worst.”

“How does this work?” asked Mcloughlin, staring intently at his empty pint glass. “Pity, I was having such a lovely time.”

“I have to go and enable the drunks. I’ll be right back. I have a million questions. I hope you don’t mind?”

Segal didn’t say a word.

“No, not at all.” I said.

I watched her walk to the bar, and she glanced back at me with a smile. She called them jerks. I wanted to tell her everything. I wanted to tell her how I can remember the first time I saw her, what she was wearing, and how she made me feel. I wanted to admit she was the reason I kept coming back to Anne Bonny’s. Glory is the reason. I wanted to write bad poetry about her. I wanted to reveal that I had wondered what it would be like to be with her. I thought of us building a home, kiss by kiss, brick by brick. I pictured us married and traveling together, I even picked out some names for our kids and pets. Does anyone else do this? Why must I always be such a weirdo? I did all that without knowing any thing about her. Was I superficial or just hopeful about her personality? She could be someone I could never be with, someone I might even dislike once I got to know her and yet, I’ve fantasized about her. It wasn’t a conscious decision to invest so much time in the thought of who she is or who I want her to be, Glory just always resurfaced in my mind and grew to goddess proportions. I almost didn’t want to talk to her anymore, I didn’t want to risk destroying the image I created of her. No one ever lives up to the images we conjure up. If you adore someone don’t ever meet them, you will be disappointed. I couldn’t tell her any of this. It was madness. She would think I lost my shit. Straight stalker. The man was obsessed. I didn’t notice it but she poured the guys two drinks each.