© copyright 1996-2009 by Michael
While walking his dog, Andrew came
upon a large well manicured two-story house. It was the fall, the
evening hour, a thick rich darkness had begun to engulf the
neighborhood. This particular street was not on his normal route, it
was being extended due to the dog’s constipation.
The light from
a side window was a beacon, Andrew looked around cautiously from the
sidewalk before approaching. The dog wagged it’s tail as the two
shuffled closer. They stop at a point that Andrew could look over the
ledge into the room yet far enough away from the house as to not appear
suspicious. The dog circled tightly, Andrew could feel the leash in his
hand bob along with gentle sounds of the dog tag jingle as he peered
into the window.
The dog stops circling, looks up, then begins
barking much to Andrew’s surprise. Looking down then up toward the
window, there is a man in his late-thirties. Short brown hair,
conservatively cut, wearing a striped Polo shirt with a solid blue
collar. The man’s brow was slightly furrowed as he sees Andrew starring
back. The man quickly moves toward the window, Andrew pulls the leash
and hurries out of sight. At a near jogging pace, the dog wags his tail
with his tongue showing from a smile.
Standing beneath the soft
yellow glow of a street light at the corner, Andrew catches his breath.
His dog stands with him, occasionally tugging the leash to investigate
a sound, before eventually giving into the idea that the walk is on
pause. The dog now sits, initially starring at his master than
surveying the landscape patiently before kneeling just above the grass
to dispel his bowels. Andrew contemplates where the past five years
hour there, another hour back. A small basement apartment is all that
awaits upon returning. An old tv with basic cable, a used computer with
telephone internet access, some sort of deformed coffee table with
sawed off legs and splatter marks in front of a dingy check patterned
couch. Graham found a VCR the other day at a thrift store, but has yet
to connect it. It does power up, he made damned sure of that before
It’s the drive though, it kills, to and fro work.
when Graham was younger he loved music, now…it really doesn’t make
sense. Funny how something once thought to be so important just sort of
slips away like that, as though it was never there to begin with. And
it’s the two hours, Monday through Friday, it’s the occasional
Saturday, just too many hours spent with haemorrhoid flair-ups in the
car…things tend to become clear, to reveal themselves as being
Listening to talk radio the last twenty
minutes wishing they would turn their big mouths to sports, instead
they continue on about such pointless topics as the state of public
education, it was fine…I can read, can’t I? What the hell more do ya
want. Yet, nothing about the trade deadline, which is quickly
approaching, the Pacers simply most make some changes, it ain’t the
‘90’s anymore, there are no Reggie Miller’s out there. Graham gives up,
pushes on the volume knob turning it off, nothing now but the sounds of
the road. Hypnotic, whizzing and zipping, tire on concrete racing past
at 60 miles per hour. That and the god damned rattling of the cheaply
constructed plastic interior of this shitty little second hand car.
up to Mr. Cromwell’s house, Graham notices the same yellow box in front
of his apartment door with toys scattered about. The third day in a row
of this. In keeping with this new found tradition, Cromwell’s four year
old boy appears out of nowhere with a warm sloppy subdued yet sly smile
to confront Graham with play-time. The kid never speaks, he just
solemnly sits on the sidewalk and begins, periodically glancing up o
see if he’s enticed Graham into joining. This strategy has yet to work,
though Graham does feel for the kid.
past, Graham is finally able to jimmy the door open, damn key keeps
sticking in the deadbolt. Once out of frustration he gave up on locking
it, in a hurry the key just refused to turn then barely was able to be
freed from the hole, Graham came home from work a little earlier to
find some scruffy smelly shit-bag in a tee-shirt that read Detroit
Pistons in his apartment claiming to be maintenance, yet had no tools.
figures the man must’ve entered via credit card slipped between the
door handle and the frame, with no deadbolt might as well leave the
fucking door wide open.
4am birds that once kept me up cursing I now laugh at. I’m sleeping
more and more, still with the tv on, volumes up a bit since you’re not
here in bed with me. Sometimes when I’m finally able to fall asleep I
awake in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. I can’t tell if
it’s some underlying condition or just a bad dream. I still have that
PROBLEM, you know that thing, so who knows. Not only that it now
happens more often. Without health insurance though I just can’t afford
to worry too much about getting it checked out, you know, whatever, who
cares. I was on-line the other night and looked up your name in one of
those search engines. Only came back with some old things from your
college days. Not even sure you still have your last name, probably
not, likely long re-married to JEFF. I would ask how JEFF is, if only I
gave a fuck. Wonder what you’re doing these days, still into gangbang
fantasies? Ever act that stuff out in real life? I don’t know, it’s not
that I wasn’t into it, but well, I don’t know about all that. You knew
that I was a jealous guy when we married, so I don’t see why it became
SUCH a problem, you know. Besides, you would’ve just ran-off with
someone else. Nevermind. I just wanted to be with you. That’s all. it
was hard to understand certain things that maybe you were trying to
say. Anyway, I do hope that you are doing well now. And that this
letter finds you. I’m sending it to your mothers address so she can
pass it along to you, wherever you are.
still alive……” comes to mind while Lansky stood there in his pajamas
pulled down pissing. The hypnotic splishing is interrupted by the
ringing of the bedroom telephone. So loud, it startles the urine back
“Samuel, hello. It’s the band. Just wanted to remind you to
not forget the spread sheet for the Johnston account. Oooook, thanks
Urine forcefully pounds the water again before dribbling
onto the porcelain at the shallow front of the toilet. Lansky dabs at
the opening of his penis so as to prevent future leakage.
house is cold, Lansky flicks his hardened right nipple while looking
into the bathroom mirror. He lifts his white tee-shirt. Another grey
chest hair or two.
The normal bee-line to the kitchen in order
to begin brewing coffee is cut by a detour back into bed. Warm and
safe, deep into the surrogate womb, Lansky pulls the covers tight as he
rolls to his side and falls back asleep.
An hour late, the
telephone rings. “Sam? You around? Pick up…ummmm hmmmm… I’ll assume
everything’s fine, yes? That you’re on your way. Speak to you soon.”
lays on his back, still covered tightly in bed, contemplating. After
carefully turning the sheets down, he walks to the media station.
Telephone ringer off, answering machine volume muted, sleep is no
longer an option…maybe later.
Through a window, the grey sky
blends beautifully with the lush green grass. A tree branch displays an
explosion of color against the canvas. A flicker of light causes
Lansky’s focus to find himself reflected in the glass.
on a computer chair taken from work in the spare bedroom, turned
office, he remains motionless. Void of life, vision getting lost in the
patterns of the carpet as though it were a bottomless ocean.
house becomes dark as rain trickles down. Lansky takes an empty coffee
cup from next to the computer and places it on a back door step to
collect droplets. Upon looking slightly to the left, what’s found is
entirely out of character.
Two slices of whole wheat bread are
placed into the toaster, browning while he retrieves the rain. The
bread pops up, expelling a burnt fragrance, as Lansky stares into the
cup. His eyebrows rise and fall quickly just before he takes the first
swig. A lick of the lips, pause, salty recognition, walk to the toast.
A new day has dawned, he thinks, as he eats his burnt bread and drinks
his salty water. A new day.
A hot shower runs, steaming the
bathroom, as Lansky relaxes on the toilet. Quite possibly the most
satisfying movement in years. Correction, without a shadow of doubt the
most satisfying. A quick wipe and a flush, short wait for the water to
re-adjust, before entry into the myst.
Rarely does a saying ring
as true as “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” while Lansky’s every
worry melts, rolls off his skin down his legs and into the drain.
Standing there seemingly forever starring into the creamy whiteness of
the shower wall before him. Lost in a meditative state.
A frightful feeling builds inside all of a sudden, reality is in flux.
The telephone messages continue to mount.
is nothing. Nothing left to cling to. Lansky notices a black spider
near the corner of the wall going around in circles. He has never
before seen this.
home from a shitty day, shitty week, shitty month, shitty year. Steven
plops an overstuffed bag of groceries down onto the kitchen countertop
along with a smallish white box of Chinese food. Upon unleashing a
heavy sigh, he checks his answering machine. As a man well into his
40’s, he prides himself on the latest in hi-tech gadgetry, however ne
never could come to grips with a forever faulty message retrieval
service. And so it’s the near obsolete answering machine that is still
During the first two frivolous “Are we going out
this weekend” messages left by boyfriends, well…friends whom Steven
wished were “boyfriends”, he fumbles around in the kitchen for a fork –
“Chop sticks? Who has time for chop sticks?” – while diving into the
white greasy cardboard box of Chinese = favorite food, favorite type of
man…”hmmm, come to think of it, that boy at the register sure was cute,
must be why I’ve been eating out so much lately, damn thee” – Steven
listens as his aunt rambles pleasantries in a thick Texan drawl before
finally arriving at her point. “The reason I’m calling is that your
cousin, Audrey, passed away. An apparent suicide, though you never can
tell with these here things. It was a drug overdose, prescription. So
anyway, Steven, if you could whip us up some of that famous bean dip
and tortilla chips, maybe a 2 litre of Diet Coke or something. Also, if
you wouldn’t mind swinging over and picking up Selma, she’s been afraid
to drive here lately and since she’s closest to where you live… Well,
let us know if that isn’t a problem. Oh! Almost forgot, funeral
services are at noon this Saturday. Ok then Steven, have a bunch more
calls to make. Take care of yourself and see you then.”
goes the weekend…of snorting lines off a coffee colored boys stomach
before blowing him” – The next message is from his ex-wife. “I know you
didn’t expect to hear my voice again for a while, but…I’m not sure if
you’ve heard yet…I hope you have, don’t want to be the bearer of more
bad news, but…your baby cousin Audrey died. I’m sorry. She was only 19
wasn’t she? Well, just a shame, I feel so bad for the things that
must’ve been going on in her life. And how much you wished you could
take her under your wing. At any rate, I know how these machines cut my
message short, just wanted to let you know that I’m going be there for
the service this week-end. Didn’t want this to be a surprise for you,
is all. Well, see you there Steve, hope all is good…bye.”