Take Another Look











{May 12, 2010}   Tick Tock

Can’t possibly live up to the expectations. The rumors, going past closed doors and flapping in the wind. How will I return to working there? Doomed if I don’t, doomed if I do. I could go back to school, but it would be like starting over. Finish lines have never been my strong suit.

In January, Lana, my fiancée, stopped asking about my days. I suppose she’d never been somebody who asked. I always volunteered, but the volunteering slowed down to a crawl, which must have created a larceny. A larceny of what we’d built together. Maybe a silent alarm triggered. So, she sabotaged things quietly and efficiently. She was always the one to keep things private, not me. She was way below the radar while my friends joked about the way my name accidentally popped up on the internet where it was least expected. But then I felt like my job became an avoidance clause. I had no good scraps of information to give her. Maybe it was something she was familiar with, being the private one and all, but I had never gone there before. I did it for us. I didn’t question what the government asked of me- not much anyway- because I needed to have something, even if it wasn’t what I wanted. Even if it led me nowhere. When I had to, I filled in the blanks by coloring a picture using markers. I was so terrible at it. And I should have had a photograph to describe. Instead it felt like an invention I had to coordinate. I grasped at straws so we could be together. I attributed her lack of interest to self-involvement. I was grateful but angry that she appeared not to care much about how I spent my time when she wasn’t around, making the decisions.

She wound me up, wound me down. I was lathered like a yo-yo, like in those comics where the guys socks go up and down when the girl uses a certain tone of voice, or after weeks of acting cold, does something affectionate. Maybe I became a downer to be around. It felt like she was a lantern leading my way. And I hate sentimentality. Always!

“Bobbi, I was just about to call you!” she said once, in a soothing tone, even though she’d fallen asleep and was not about to call me. Not that day. Probably would have waited months.

I’d be tempted to tell Lana that “forgetting to call about when and how we’d hang out or not” was the dumbest excuse I’d ever heard, but I kept my mouth shut. But the lack of reciprocity was the focus in the end game. We’ll get there.

Now I just wish she had been more open. She was like a banana that was still green. I only wish I had been able to go to her with my problems, but she came from a certain background . Her parents would have talked her down. Even after what they put us through, they still talked her down. I had a bad feeling that she lied to them. That she wanted people to think badly about me. Projection or just another one of Lana’s many tests?

Never been good at tests. I always go outside the box.

After all I put on the line, I lost her to her own demons. She became more beautiful to me every day, but she closed herself off to me in a calculated way that later gave me goosebumps. In the beginning, I remember I never had to beg. For us, I said, we must have a ritual of our own, where we could discuss anything. In those days she was game. But her follow through was terrible. I might find it funny if it weren’t for the fact that my follow through in my job lacked all sense. Now I’m at risk because I keep flirting with the idea, getting calls from the office, then trying to hide from them. You aren’t allowed out in this game.

The times I left my office turned from weeks to months.

Lana and I got cut short- cuts were made everywhere, so no surprise- but I didn’t think it would feel like a cord that needed to be dispensed.

Now, since Lana’s been gone, I haven’t seen any reason to continue the job. Which is funny, because what if it was the job that mangled our engagement? I know we said it was all these other things, but I can’t help but wonder. In the end, all I’m left with are the memory of her beautiful, brown, undaunted eyes. So alert, never missing a beat. That last year, she wouldn’t let me look into them anymore. Or was it me who stopped making eye contact? That refreshing voice. The way she positioned herself in restaurants so she’d observe all that was going on behind us. Her pithy wit.

I feel like I am speaking at a funeral.

Maybe I didn’t keep her in line enough. She needed that, and that was me, until I became so underwhelmed by the challenges of work that I started to hyper-focus on random things. She constantly needed somebody who wasn’t afraid to stand up from time to time and tell her to stop being such a snot. To keep her whining in line. To make sure she channeled that tyrannical streak elsewhere. Like in bed. She was too afraid. One time she used it, such a beautiful thing, to see her using her control, to have it define what she wanted, for it to turn us on so much, I let her guide us with her restraint. Nobody could turn me like she did. I’d never known desire until I met Lana. I’d had so much experience and none of it counted. I know Lana had her issues with touch, her issues with intimacy, but they were nothing compared to the memories of when she let her guard down. Compromising with me instead of choosing to work against me. I know that she was so used to being on her own that she needed somebody to remind her that adjustments and negotiations were necessary when you involved another person in your life.

Maybe I let her get away with too much. I fell into patterns. Sure, I called her on her shit, but I was a little too sweet about it. I’m a fairly brash person, but the past has eaten away at that, taken advantage of it, if you may. Tell me if I’m playing the victim card, because I used to have more than a healthy amount of bravado and arrogance that accompanied my blue streak at all times.

I didn’t know what else to do but give in to her. I thought it would be the solution and that she’d even be grateful at me. Instead, I fear I let myself become the punt of another one of her Saturday night jokes. The butt of one of her cigarettes.

I let out my anger when she wasn’t there. I put it into everything but her. I don’t usually let the people I’m angry with become aware of my anger. Maybe they see it, but Lana and I went long periods not seeing each other. She became unavailable. No comment. No comment. And again, no comment. Voicemail.

The longer this little game went on, the more I felt like the victim to one of Lana’s jokes. Being hypersensitive to criticism in the first place, being paranoid of the advances other men made on Lana, being very aware of that one night she used sex as a weapon against me at my expense.

But I still thought we could make it work. It has to work, I thought. What else? To me, there were no other options. I loved her. Fuck everything else she thought was in the way, she was wrong.

The way we got along with each other, that was a one in a million shot. So we could get through anything as long as we remembered the other. But the way she communicated. It became so rushed, so grudging, and eventually, so blocked, I felt like I’d get more out of a brick wall. I looked elsewhere for my support. I hated going anywhere but to Lana for support, but I felt like she had once driven me to want to be better. Now her avoidance was making me return to bad habits for comfort- dare I say it- maybe even intimacy, the intimacy I felt she was begrudging me. It was nothing compared to the wreck I was when I didn’t even have her resentful permission. I didn’t have her whining, or her annoying blocking, and maybe I wanted that back. For her? Yes.

I had given up a lot so I could be with her. It was gradual. Some were sacrifices she didn’t know about, sacrifices I would never tell her, for they were parts of myself that I’d left behind me. However, there were other sacrifices. The ones that I vigorously let on about. As if she owed me. Yeah, fuck me too.

But my compromise had became greater and greater.I couldn’t stand on water.

We were both stubborn. And when she tied my hands behind my back, not only was I not getting anything from her, she made it so I couldn’t give anything to her without it being something she had to pay for. Like the time I gave her something, and she was upset because, well, she didn’t give me anything in return. What was I supposed to do? Say, “Well, Lana, I will return my gift, because I see it upsets you that you weren’t considerate enough to think about getting me anything. Because you never think about getting me anything. Even though there was that email, where I said I had a surprise for you, and it was three days before Christmas? What did you think I meant? A candy bar?”

I should have said it. Would have been better than watching a movie I’d already seen, swallowing, and pretending that I hadn’t seen it before, because she was really really tired of looking up movies. All my fault, said her reluctant posture, the arms crossed in front of her chest, the cigarette inside the room when she knew how much I hated secondhand smoke. I’d made the process tiring instead of fun, her downcast eyes warned me. Maybe she felt I’d done the same to our relationship. Turn our whole process inside out to search for firewalls and hackers with viruses, and in the process looked too closely, thus taking away the security that she could do no wrong. There are two mistakes people make- they ignore their relationship, or they inspect it too closely. We did both. It depended on the day. But eventually Lana stopped going back and forth on me. She malignantly ignored the relationship, as if it was a snake she was hoping would slither away.

My heart started to slip.

There was a glimmer of hope. That was the shard of light that really burned me. The last time I saw her, she showed me her glaring insights, and shocked me away with her vulnerability. I wanted back.

She chose when to reveal her insights. My guess is as good as anybody elses. But that incredibly empathy combined with her fine-tuned control. Turned on when she wanted, turned off when she wanted. We want what we can’t have, right? I am detached but emotional. And she- oh she was a contradiction in terms, too. But a contradiction I grew to love and respect.

She showed me desire. Who was she to take it away from me?

Let’s take a step back. Back to when I wasn’t getting anything back from her. Should I have really pulled the card I did? The one you can’t take back? Well, I did. Girls flocked to me. But I was ready to settle down. Then she had to fuck with me. Right when I was trying to get in line.

If you tell somebody you might kill them, you should do so very carefully. It’s the same with friendships, when you warn somebody you might not talk to them anymore. In the case with Lana I made threats I wasn’t sure I could uphold. She made promises she wasn’t sure she could finish. My threats turned into her actions, and I kept her promises for her. Switching places was not good. Had it ever been? Why didn’t we just set it straight! We needed to split the difference, make up, and hold hands. In the end, that’s what I thought would happen. I even imagined it did happen, in some foreign universe where we were close, close friends.

I was dead wrong, and I would pay dearly for my mistake.

Her parents would never completely approve, and her friends thought I was too different to ever fit in with her elite group of blue-collar friends and neighbors. (or white-collar? See, i don’t even know the term.) I didn’t really have a collar at all. I fit where I fit, and that was with the people I loved. It was enough for Lana. Then, it became another excuse for me to go. I don’t ever want go where I’m not wanted. It’s one of my biggest fears. That somebody will think of me as so needy I’d chase them down. But I didn’t see what other options I had. The only other option was to bail out.

Instead of appear unwanted, I immediately bailed. But if this were some kind of game, Lana won over and over again, because I couldn’t hold back the force of my will. From a distance I tried to win her back. I didn’t go over to see her, and there was no chance we would run into each other. Maybe if we had run into each other, she’d have remembered. I left messages, I wrote notes, I sent flowers. I felt like the fool. I hated myself for my so-called “weakness.” My weakness was that I continued to care for her, my weakness was that I continued to tell her so even if she wouldn’t pick up the phone. My male friends told me she was the bitch, the cunt, the self-serving piece of shit, but Lana already knew that in a juries eyes, she would not be seen as a friendly party. I didn’t care about the coldness, and even though I thought my friends were trying to be helpful when they weighed in, all I wanted was her. I wanted us back.

I never even saw her back again. I watched her back. But the distance became greater and greater. I don’t know if Lana knew how to make contact with me without committing some kind of social faux pas her elite friends would have to comment on. As the seasons passed, I wasn’t sure how well I knew her. Doubt crept in. And I felt like if I didn’t know, she did. So the sting of her control hurt but reassured.Why? Because maybe she could assuage my doubts, if I ever did get a hold of her. But it stung because I felt like I couldn’t move.

In my eyes, she chose to use something I used to treasure about her as a weapon against me. I felt very conflicted that I wasn’t using weapons against her. There was the truth, for one. There was power, number two. I threw them away. I wouldn’t use anything against Lana. Never. Lana might consider me a masochist for not treating her like an enemy, but I kept her words in a bag beside me. She had said she wanted my friendship. Her actions, as usual, contradicted her words as much as possible. I should have seen it coming. I usually do. I suppose I didn’t want to look forward ten moves. This time, I chose to walk in blind because of trust.

I trusted her…

even with eggs on my face.

Her fucking friends poisoned her. The took a beautiful girl, and they made her feel unworthy of herself. So she pretended she was someone else, someone she was not. This angered me so much. Unlike Lana, I didn’t turn to my friends with my anger. Nobody was better here. I was just filled with self-indignation, something I don’t usually fear.

I’d been warned, and I’d ignored the warning.

I wanted a new line of work but my work wouldn’t let me go. The past has a way of grabbing onto you when you turn away from it. I think because I didn’t see an end in sight, I didn’t know how I could go back there. And without Lana in my life, I didn’t know how I could deal with the baggage. Sure, I was really good at what I did. And if I tried, I could be the best. But I wanted to put everything on hold. In the end, I did. I watched the clock move onwards. I put one foot in front of the other and counted the days. Until I stopped counting how long it had been since I saw Lana. Until every Wednesday wasn’t characterized by the fact that it used to be our Wednesday.

Still, in the back of my mind I remembered. I’d get brutal cravings to send her text messages. Harmless? Not to me. Because for every message I sent, I wanted to kill my ability to reach out to anybody. I wanted to punish myself for being so brazen as to act on my impulses. And I had a record. Even if I deleted what I sent Lana, there was the record in my brain. How many times I called. It wouldn’t go away.

Finally, I felt like it was a lose lose situation. If I didn’t call her, I would lose her. If I did call her, she wouldn’t pick up, and I would squander what little belief I still had in my self-control.

To reach out, to yield as far as I could, to turn to water and let her float in my surrender. I’d fight these cravings by turning my stereo on, closing my eyes, pouring time and place into some meaningless Buddhist pool.

Sometimes my friend Dale from the army would call. He said I sounded really sketchy. He got me to talk about Lana. I ended up ranting to him about Lana, which was strange, since I now spoke of her to no one. I didn’t want to burden anyone. He was the exception. After I talked about her he said I sounded better now, less “shut off inside.” I trusted his judgment. Who else was I going to trust, myself? That was a laugh.

Lana had effectively proven her case- I would never be able to trust myself again. I was too prone to spontaneous gestures, to whims and impulses few people understood the meaning behind. All they could see was the desperation on my face. I was transparent. To make matters more complicated, I never saw shallowness in others. If anything, I took it to mean potential. Impressed by their presentation, something I never had, I took what they said as if it had a special meaning to them. I saw potential in everybody.

I wore the same clothes days in a row, or forgot to shave. Stumbled out of bed and didn’t bother to shower. I dressed like a gangster, with larger jeans and shirts with cigarette holes on them. Couldn’t bring myself to throw out my favorite sweatshirt. I got attached to everything, even the simplest possessions. I cleaned up real well. So well that Lana never understood why I dressed the way I did. Why didn’t I “grow up,” she wondered. My dress code didn’t sit so well with her friends and family. Never mind that I would have “cleaned up” if she’d taken the chance to formally introduce me to her relatives at a dinner. Fuck, I would have taken them all out and paid.

She said the rebellion wasn’t really me. Her presumption! As if she’d known me longer than I’d known myself. Yes, I admired her presumption, and for her, I might have worn a suit every day. I might have found a nine to five job. But we will never know now, will we.

I gave up… It might be the biggest mistake I’ll ever make.

But then there is tomorrow.

I don’t need to love again anymore. Nobody else. She was enough for me. But I wasn’t given enough time. And for that, I will remain angry.

So it ended badly, you are thinking.

But maybe, that’s all you need to know.

Maybe someday I will find somebody who shares my interests, and she will bear my children. I would like a son. Time is still clicking, but I’ve been ignoring the clock. I need to start paying attention. I plan on changing soon enough, but nothing is demanding it. In the meantime, I’ve stayed as far away from the recruit as possible. Teaching, paying bills late, and considering whether it’s worth it that every cent I make goes into my rent.

Rent has never made sense to me. I keep making money, it keeps getting funneled into this hole. If you took all the money I’ve paid for rent over the years, you’d have enough for a house. It’s sick the way people actually charge for rent these days. My idea for society is different, one that I’d like to bounce off somebody else somebody.

My time with Lana made me over-cautious. I wear latex gloves anytime I open any doors, in case somebody traces for prints. I’ve gone from being made of steel to being invisible. I’m not sure it’s worth it. Any of it. I’d ask for my money back, but I don’t want to ask. They should just give it to me, but I’m not stupid enough to believe they’ll ever do that. I want the old days back, and I miss the days from the army, when camaraderie was more than a word. It meant everything, and without it you were alone without anybody watching your back. Sure, you could become a sniper, but somebody could find your hiding position and take you out. Without anybody to protect you, you were AWOL. No benefits, no pay, no friends. This was a little like how Lana thinks she wants to live life. But like everything Lana says, her actions go against her words.

She reminds me a bit of a Dale, who can fill me with hot boiling anger. Hypocrisy is something I can live without. It makes my blood run fast, and suddenly I am working overtime just to stand still. Standing still in the same room with somebody who doesn’t know themselves is hard for me. I start yelling at them, showing them big pieces of a mirror. They keep repeating the same blackmail. I don’t like their argument, it breaks the mirror into slivers until I don’t have much of a case left. I can’t show them anything with that kind of high-pitched wrecking ball in the office. Well, you should have thought of that before, they tell me. No, you should have looked at a mirror dammit. I don’t like mirrors, they tell me. I don’t care what you do or not like, you make it a priority to see what you actually look like instead of what you think you should look like. They argue some more until I just nod and gesture. Face goes down, hands point at things. Motor skills. Second thing to lose in these arguments. They are such close friends, but they argue me to pieces. The adrenaline that was straining against my vessel walls starts to break down into something toxic. They understand toxins, they always do. Suddenly it’s me who needs them. Testify at the trial, I tell them. They refuse. Another example of your hypocrisy, I tell them, too warn down by the circumstance and the dialogue to watch my words. They don’t turn on me, but they take out their black book and draw a big black line for the times that I’ve become “unpredictable” or “unreasonable-” not to mention “unfathomable.” They tell me that they love me- except for this one percent of the time- and they show me the lines in their book. I continue to nod and gesture. They take this as a measure of agreement. Evidence for their pretrial motions. They can now say they don’t want things suppressed. Motion granted. This is a complex stature of limitations, after all. Time marches with them in the room. When they leave, I see it start to slide.

I go to my favorite diner. Who knew it still existed? Margie is there. I drink coffee sludge. Extra cream. as always.

“They are going extra hard on the felony convictions this year. I don’t like it Margie.”

I read my book. I turn the pages. The days pass. The bills pile up. The rent is due. I don’t like it.

I have no idea what I will do, where I will go, but that’s always how it is. Even as I know myself, as deeper and deeper I go, I can’t do a thing about the time.

PROBLEMS WITH THIS STORY- how do I solve them?

It needs work. What is Lana’s job? Is it so unimportant that it’s never mentioned? What about her point of view? Maybe she had good reasons for backing out, if that is what happened, it gets purposely ambiguous. Is there too much ambiguity in here? and wtf is Bobbi doing that he feels doomed by? that he feels subversively jeopardized his wedding? Is he some kind of assassin? Lana knows about some things, but what does he feel he has to hide? Do people need to know? And when does he start to hide? Since it doesn’t follow simple chronology, what can hold it together? There are a lot of sticky metaphors in there. The story needs more simple ties… to something. Maybe to a base of some sort.. descriptions. And the random diner… comes out of nowhere.
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{March 16, 2010}   thrashing

i want to write a lullaby that is also a requiem… something sweet has to come out of all this thrashing.Something of music to myself, like Neil Cassady in White Collar finding the music box. But does he go all haywire when he finds out Kate was just conning him? We haven’t finished the storyline, and we don’t know for sure, and being a romantic, I still say Fowler might have her, but being the character and hero he is he finds violence banal and mundane. The cons who have known him taunt him, saying he never could get his hands dirty.

Back to the upsets. The thrashing has mostly been tonight. It calmed me down,all that thrashing, that it did, but my anger had no direction. Well, maybe one direction, one target, one I keep being angry at because of the things they don’t do, the precautions they don’t take, the truths they don’t tell themselves at night.. I’m not usually angry like that, and it was easy to blame it on the fever that took over my life, made me delirious, but mostly it seemed to overshadow everything inside my head and all of a sudden I found every good memory burned to a crisp. And so I no longer cared. I no longer cared at all and something in me wanted blood. I felt untied from any attraction I had ever had to this person. I used to care so much that I would imagine a shield protecting them, a soft shield enveloping them, and I would be next to them… or want to me. For a few hours I only could  feel  the bright whoosh that comes when you’re knocked out. The tumble of the sound of whooshing in my ears,  the sight of stars, and most of all the pressure.  A wounded animal is the most dangerous kind of animal is what they say.  The target of my anger only responded in a way that created more pain, and I just felt shame, the dangerous kind that tests your limits. Then I receive a nice reply from a friend, a friend that never had to try so hard to be a friend. Maybe we’ve had our upsets and our downs, and we don’t keep in touch as much as we should, but there is something different about my target that I feel that the friendship deserves a lot of time. Certain people, you can pick up wherever you left off. Other people, they belong in your life every day, and without that, you hate them for their absence. It might not be fair, it might not be just, but you know they aren’t even giving one percent, and how can you look past that, when you gave so much more, and would give so much more. And they can never look at the whole picture, think about how much they let me down, and how little anger I have expressed, and think for maybe one minute this isn’t about them, it’s about me needing to express my anger at them. I don’t care how they find it, and if the timing is inopportune then it’s their fault for not ever being available and ignoring every humane chance there is.  I think maybe there comes a time where I should walk away, but right now I am so blinded by the stars and the rage and the fall that I don’t know. I need a reason to care again, for it’s been taken away from me. And in its place is a beating drum, a knife, bullets, guns,  a kind of violence I find barbaric.
At least I am back at that stage in my life where I don’t care if the rest of my life is alone again.

I have blocked out the shrieking noises….And I have blocked out the idea that they care.. or ever did care and are nothing more than a loser.. Okay it is hard for me to believe they are a loser but I somehow lost something of heart when I burned passed normal temperatures… Or so I think… and the only imprint of the steps  taken are being washed away by the ocean.



{March 15, 2010}   Seattle

“You want a sleeve, dahling?” the barista says in his metro sexual tone of voice. I show him the tip of my brown sweatshirt. “Sleeve,” I repeat harmlessly. He reacts with a quaint mixture of how cute with it’s Seattle so it’s romantic and cool. Seattle is like Paris but instead of being about young love and young promise, it is about youth, illusion, and hardship. The promises broken, the naiveté shed, the days that repeat endlessly because you want your love to be more than a song. The hard edges come out, but the metal is the color of a hundred rainbows folded over on top of one another. Too many visions for it to come together. Graffiti too dense to wash over. The mixture is complete. Nodding Off Guy sits in a corner with his creepy stare, his jaundiced skin, and his battled veins. I’ve seen his face around these streets since I was twelve. Two asian girls sit with their calculators dedicated on solving a problem. A man with glasses and shorts and a big mug sits, wearing cache shorts that seem age inapropirate with his thin grey hair as he eyes a magazine, his square glasses stating “I must be an editor of something unimportant but recognized by a small number of people.” A woman of mixed descent wears a scarf and listens to music, her head going up and down. A girl sits on a couch surface, her toes curled up, reading The Stranger and cuddling up inside herself. Just another sunday night, the end to a start of a week. An old man with a hat sits down next to Nodding Off Guy and makes it his night to stare around observing everybody. The baristas do a quick sweep of the room. I remember the last time I was here, my friend saying “what a mix, oh, what a mix.” The music sings in a honey tone, edging everybody on with the lyrics “I feel good,” the song “I Got you” by James Brown.  I can almost feel Janis Joplin in this song but this music is celebration, and there isn’t enough edge for there to be a Janis song. Instead of “can’t do you no harm” she’d be singing “Oh you do me harm, and it feels good, what should I do?” This whole city is beating, it is a heart, it has veins all over the place, veins it doesn’t know what to do with. Veins that are blocked by cholesterol, veins that are blissed out by needle pricks filled with speed or heroin or both. Anything to speed up the mixture of colors. The city says, do it, do it now before you lose the chance. It is the place to lose everything because the next morning you won’t know what hit you or what you lost. The chances, they build up on you like drops on a flower until the flower falls over and the water hits the ground, splattering onto the sidewalk. There is too much color, not enough production. Too much possibility, not enough opportunity. Too much talent, not enough agents. Too much risk, not enough safety. There is a big divide. There is no stealth here, and everybody pretends to be a star. Everybody is young, and everybody can dress how they want. Everybody is immune to judgement, and nobody speaks to each other unless that person is giving you your coffee jolt. Only when you work as a barista do you learn about the people around you. And then you find that they need your inane small talk more than they need their java. You ask them how they are and they erupt. But ask the same person how they are when they are alone, cornered in their space, reading the paper or eyeing the room, and they will guffaw and find another chair. It’s just the way of the city. Don’t approach unless you are below 21 or can pass for 21, or are in the company of somebody who floats like an It-Girl butterfly, attracting party flavor energy everywhere you go. Putting everything into 3-d if need be, or giving everybody orange glasses to see the world from. People need limits, you hear? Just tell them to see it from one shade and you will be the babysitter that helps them as they travel within this acid trip, trying to make something of themself.



{February 23, 2010}   no bail out

Jason’s hair curls down past his chin. If you were overly ambitious, you might describe the color as soupy dark. In reality the colors belong to an old dog with grey, white, and cobweb-like black patches covering the skin. He shoots his friend an anxious look when she tells him how many benzos she erratically consumes. She tells him she stopped cold turkey and how her nightmares mostly involve people stuck in their own excrement being beaten, the sound of hysterical screams coming out of an attic, and the calm clerk coming out to explain that she had only two, no six minutes to get ready for her appointment and that her mother had left them a deliriously frantic message about how she could not, under any circumstances, be late.

The people had been talking about how Jason had “let himself go” and such.He was the perfect candidate for one of those before and after shots- he’d just have to switch the before to after abd the after to before. He’d gained about a hundred pounds- an effect of the Seraquil the doctor insisted he take to sleep. The doc didn’t tell him about this effect until the weight had been sitting there uselessly for about a year, despite the fact that Jason was an avid walker.

Jason also had several kids from different women. Now that they were approaching teenage status they all wanted to be cool the way he was.He wasn’t like the tightass grownups most kids had for fathers. They felt they could tell him anything. Jason lived in the moment.

“Jason,” the girl across from him asks, her smile fading. He’d been showing her jewelery and she bought two earring sets for ten bucks, with one more thrown in for free.

“I just want to do this cold turkey.”

Jasons eyes fill with hard fear and panic.

“You can’t do that love. It took me four months to go from four milligrams a day and look at me now! I only need one a day but I can get by on five a week.”

“I am tired of it messing with me. I used to have a photographic memory.”

She lowers her voice and leans in, tapping on her coffee cup. “Now I get forgetful.”
She pronounces the word forgetful the way a housewife with children would pronounce the word pedophile. The contempt is visible and Jason is shaken.

She sighs. She purses her lips thoughtfully.

“Jason, how come you always look so burdened by talkin’ to me? What’s the matter?”

A look of relief fills his eyes but the rest of his face still registers alarm.

“Cuz I just don’t know what to say! It’s erratic but you can’t go cold turkey you just can’t. Don’t you know how dangerous that is?”

“But it’s the only way that works for me. I wouldn’t know how to go down- I just know extremes. I take twenty milligrams at once and I still can’t sleep. So I take ten more milligrams two hours later-it doesn’t seem so much at the time. They are number two’s so it’s only fifteen pills.”

“Your body can’t process that much at once. It treats it like a poison, flushing most of it out so you can’t feel it.”

“I feel it. Just not until the next day..and maybe that is the methadone. I just don’t know.”

Jason looks around wildly to make sure nobody is listening. The girl, she don’t care.

“Just cuz you can hold your drink- or in this case pins- doesn’t make it advisable. Don’t model yourself on the man in the book any longer, girl. Aim higher.”

He hugs her and kisses her on the head.

“I love you,” he says.
“Thanks,” she responds, feeling slightly grateful for this open display but sorry she can’t return it.She has gotten so careful with her love these days. She used to dole it out to all her friends, freely hugging them and sitting on their laps. Then a truck came rolling, snatched her from her friends, and raided her of that feeling of carefree abandonment. When she returned she shook off their hugs and couldn’t stand their open displays anymore.

She kept her arms folded into herself, her smile turned downwards, her laughter locked away. Nobody knew how to reach the sonofabitch who was holding the key.

when she discussed a certain guy with Parker, Parker made the mistake of saying she had been held hostage. She never mentioned his name again to anybody. And since it was so unlike her to refrain from mentioning something that occupied her thoughts, nobody pursued the point.



et cetera