Author Archives: Hernan J Monzon

About Hernan J Monzon

Indie Author. Reach me at: hmonzon0629@gmail.com

Can You See Them Yet?

Sometimes I hear people
right behind me,
and I don’t know who they are.
All that I know is that
they’re not really there.

It all started with Alice.
That wasn’t her name.
It was what she was after…or who.
She wouldn’t shut up about it.

I take long walks, you see.
One day her voice caught up to me
and out of thin air came:
“Alice wasn’t home today.
I want to show you where she lives but
I follow you. You don’t follow me.
You can’t. That’s not the way it works.”

“What? Hello?” I turned around and saw no one.
“Is anybody there?”

“Don’t be a lunkhead. I was fucking telling you about Alice.”

From there it didn’t stop.
Next came James,
“Alice always wears green, but don’t tell her I told you that.”
Then Marcy,
“Alice isn’t as nice as she comes across. Her kindness is a charade.”
And Sean,
“Alice pretends that she doesn’t want me. But that’s all it is, pretend.”

I don’t know what they look like
because I can’t see them
but they are right there
and nowhere at the same time.

I started walking faster, but it didn’t help
because the voices were always
just behind me:

“Alice is being a real bitch.”
“Oooh, I just love your skin.”

It wasn’t just one place, one walk, one road.
It was at the mall, at the bank, the bakery,
on the street or in my shitty apartment
as I sat on the recliner watching TV.

“What’s he doing?”
“He’s just sitting there staring at that talking screen.”
“Does Alice know?”

I don’t know who they are
(who the fuck is Alice?)
or what they are or where or
how they can see me or if they only see me
or a million other things.

The only thing scarier than this being all in my head and that
I was going batshit crazy
was the possibility that this wasn’t
-that this was real and
what that implied.

Two weeks later I got my answer
from once again, the unlikeliest of places
because our expectations of life
and all that it entails
are meant to be smashed, obliterated,
run over and then set on fire
every single step of the way.

So, there I was on a Monday
at the shop when
Marcus (the mechanic)
nodded me over, wrench in hand.

He wasn’t working on my vehicle just yet
and I didn’t really know him so
I approached with caution
because humans were dangerous.

As Marcus went back to changing a tire he said,
“Alice’s friends have been telling me about you…”
in a happy, sing-song voice.

“Alice?” That sounded so familiar that it was painful.
It still took me a second to process because,
“you mean the voices in my head?”

I wanted to grab Marcus and shake him
and scream and cackle madly
but I just stood there staring at him…stunned,
because none of this seemed real.
I could smell the oil, the exhaust, the lubricants, the cold air outside.
The lighting was harsh and glaring as usual. Nothing was out of the ordinary.
But yet, everything had changed forever
in one casual conversation.

Marcus shook his head and laughed.
He slowly turned to me,
set his wrench down on the cart
and with excited eyes said,

“Can you see them yet?”

The Dealer’s Apartment

The text read: 122 Hamilton Street. Apt 42. Bring a flashlight. Get the stash and go home. Easy.

I arrived at a six-story apartment building that was completely dark. All windows were black squares. No lights in the parking lot. No cars.

Was this place completely empty?
It looked like a utilitarian tomb, but that was under closer scrutiny than I would have given any apartment building on any of these streets. Hidden in plain sight, there was something definitely wrong here. I could smell it.

Bring a flashlight. So, the dealer knew about this. Of course he did.

I opened the front door to silence. No dogs barking. No babies crying. No life. I pulled the flashlight app on in my phone and held it in front of me as I went up the stairwell to the fourth floor. All was still. Eerie. A night museum.

I shone my light upon each door until I came to the right one and knocked.

“Get your light off my door.” I heard someone say from behind it.
“What?”
“Put your fucking light down. Do you understand English?” The voice sounded gruff, tired, angry.

“Okay.” I complied. The door opened to an apartment I couldn’t see as it was pitch black except for the echoes of light my phone reflected off the linoleum floor.
“Keep your light down. Don’t shine it in my face, so help me God.”
“No problem.” My hand was shaking slightly, causing the light to bounce around. I steadied it, but everything about this situation made me extremely nervous.

“Wait here,” he went into the bedroom and slammed the door behind him.
I heard the distinct sound of somebody sucking up a rail of cocaine (or whatever) up their nose. I heard a female’s voice.
“Shut the fuck up,” he said, almost at a shout. “Nobody fucking asked you.”

The man came back out and put something on the table. I shone my light on it. Pills in a Ziploc bag. I could see his stained white shirt momentarily before pulling my phone back down. I thought that he was going to berate me for shining my light on the table but, “go on, take it.”

I stepped forward and shoved the bag into my inside pocket.

“Get the fuck out. Keep your light down. Don’t shine it on anyone. You’ll be sorry that you did. You Shitbags never fucking learn. Scram.”

I gladly got out. In the hallway, from the opposite end towards where I was going, I heard a door close and footsteps start to come my way –heavy, awkward ones. I did what my immediate instincts told me to, shut the light off and plastered myself back against the wall until they passed.

Once I was outside, I could really feel the cold in the air. I punched in an Uber and waited, thinking that my problem –my whole new fucking situation– might have been a little understated.

And I wasn’t sure about these pills anymore.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

Mary was on the bus again today.
Same as every day on the
morning run to work
back seat in a skirt.

A startling dark sullen beauty
staring out the window
like I wasn’t there and
never would be.

Looking as though she were
plucked right out of the last day
I saw her
fifteen years ago
just before she passed,
pills and vodka.

Sweet Mary,
everybody loved you but you
nobody saw your pain and
here you are like a
hammer dropped on a glass table.

People would think that I’m crazy
for entertaining the idea of this
of her
and I’ve had this conversation
with myself many times.

But that was Mary.
I was sure of it
even though she hadn’t aged
a single day.

It wasn’t just my imagination,
trust me.

A girl that good-looking
everybody notices.

And we’ve been riding this bus
together for over a year now
so you could only imagine
how this has fucked with me.

It was no way to start your day
with your mind fixated
on her whether you liked it or not
all day
every day as
everything else starts to
peel away like paint under a flame.

How so much like her it would be to go
and do something like this to make it
possible somehow but reality has rules
and people don’t just come back.

Why would they?
What for?
When you die
you’re fucking free of all this.
Mary knew that.
That’s why she left.

You don’t notice
how time really passes
when you become lost in a world
that has already passed
and yet I have done nothing but
endure it because of
my soul-searing uncertainty
and questions that turned into doubts
it can’t be…it just simply cannot be
until now
finally too far gone to care
if I looked like a creep
or if the world was upside down
mid-ride
I got out of my seat and
approached her.

I had a good line
or didn’t.
I don’t know.
Overthought it.

“Excuse me, Miss. I know you don’t know me
but we ride the same bus and I always notice you
writing in that black book of yours
and I just wanted to know what it is
that you write about?”

She slammed the book shut.
I thought that the girl was going to tell me off
but instead she started to laugh.

“I’m writing a story about a guy that
sees a girl that’s been dead for a long time
on the bus every day to work but doesn’t
have the sense or the guts to
actually do anything
about it until one day and…
wait…”

She looked up at me with those
big beautiful eyes and mock smile.

“Stop me if you know this one.”

THAT’S NOT MY CAT

I was reaching for a melon
in the produce section
of the local grocery mart
when a paw shot out
from behind it to
vigorously swat at my hand
and the black head of a
growling cat appeared
with large excited yellow eyes.

A passing lady looked at me askew.
“That’s not my cat.” I said.

She quietly turned her attention
to the cucumbers. They were
rather big this year.

“Nice Kitty, go play.” I suggested
and went for another melon but
the cat stretched its long, thin body
out across the entire bin and started
swatting at my hand again.

“Go away! I’m not your play-toy.”
‘Meow.’

When I arrived at the register
the cat was there waiting for me
right on the conveyor.

The listless teenage cashier looked like
she was trying to paint her fingernails
with her mind.

“That’s not my cat.”
“What cat?” The girl said as she absently
grabbed it and scanned the cat through
right behind the potatoes.

As I left the store and was
crossing the parking lot
a lady came running out to me.
“Sir! Sir! You forgot your cat!”
She was obese and out of breath.

Other than why would I bring a cat
to the grocery store I said,
“That’s not my cat.”

“But Sir, it says so right here on the collar.”
She turned the purring cat over and
flipped the tag on its red collar.

‘I belong to that guy.’ It read.

I took the cat and tossed it in the cart
right beside the potatoes
wheeled the cart over and unloaded
the things into my hatchback then
brought it to the cart corral
with the cat still inside.

I ran back to my car and tore
out of the parking lot like I had just
robbed the store.

On the expressway halfway home
I felt a sudden soft batting on the
side of my head and heard a
meowing in my ear.

I almost crossed the medium
head-on into a tanker truck
on purpose but instead I
stopped at the nearest gas station
and let the cat out of the car
as a family of four watched.

“That’s not my cat.” I said.
The girl giggled.
The boy gave me the finger.

Arriving home as I pulled into the
driveway the headlights shone on the
same black cat with the red collar as
it sat and waited for me to arrive.

I sighed, “Nope. Nope. Tons of nope everywhere.
No way. Not again. Not a chance.”
But I picked up the cat anyway
and brought it inside.

Flicking on the kitchen light
I dropped the cat on the linoleum floor
where ten other black cats anxiously
waited to be fed.

Hey, Daddy

Big Jim was sitting by the fire
in a friend’s yard when he heard,
“Hey, Daddy.”

A girl’s voice
coming from the shed
right across from the fire.

The door was opened just a crack.

Big Jim looked around.
Tim was still inside.
He didn’t have any kids.
‘What the flying fuck?’ Big Jim thought,
‘Neighbourhood kids maybe…but…’

“Daddy, I’m so alone.”

Big Jim arose from his chair.
The girl sounded anguished.
Something about that voice, that girl.
It felt so familiar somehow,
like someone he knew
a long time ago.
Someone he longed for.
Someone
he wanted to see very badly.

“Come to me, Daddy.”

Big Jim almost stumbled into the
fire before catching himself.
Next, he was at the shed door
opening it further.
“Hello?” He called.

Big Jim felt the humidity of the night.
The sweat on his skin.
His want.
His need.
Everything
was for her.

“Come in and close the door, Daddy,
and then we can be together again.”

The girl’s voice was pleading but yet
there was a teasing there too.
Something familiar
a long time ago
just yesterday.

Big Jim stepped inside and was
closing the door behind him,
the absence of light
-the blackness of the shed
enveloping him when,

“Jesus Christ!” Tim shouted as he
pulled the door back open,
“No no no no!”

Tim yanked on a piece of rope
hanging from the ceiling
and a light bulb came alive.

There was no girl.
Instead there was a hole
over in the corner.

“Oh, fuck!” Tim said and went
to a heavy piece of pressed wood
that looked like it once
covered the hole but
was now flipped over to the side.

Tim pulled it down and
dragged it back over the hole.
He then placed his hands to his face
and shook his head.

“A guy was supposed to come this week
and direct-fill it with cement.
I thought this would contain her.

I am so fucking sorry.
We should have bolted it down.
I was only going to be gone for a minute
I didn’t think…

You have no idea what it’s like
to live here with her,
with that fucking thing.”

The light bulb above them
began to flicker on and off.
Tim started angrily flicking the bulb
with his finger.

“Fuck. I’ll have to fix this too.”

Billy’s Laura

Raining hard at the
mouth of the trail
where Shane was
waiting for his ex-wife
umbrella in hand.

“Nice day out. Isn’t it, Laura?”

Laura smiled, “Yes it is, Hon.”

She was already drunk
as usual.

Shane held out his umbrella
and walked holding it over her
letting himself get wet
until they reached Billy’s house.

No lights.
Billy wasn’t up yet.

“I’m sure Billy will be up soon.” He said.

Sometimes it was hours
before Billy got up
and Shane would hold his umbrella
over her as she lay her head in
his lap and slept.

“You still love me, Shane.”
She would say,
“You wouldn’t do this
if you didn’t love me.”

And when it was cold
Shane would put his warm jacket
over her
with nothing for himself
as they both waited until…

“Light’s on, Laura, Billy’s up.”

Billy would open the front door
without looking out and just
leave it open but
only when he had a fix ready for her.

Once Laura was inside
Shane would then go on
down the road to
Tim’s house to
drink himself to sleep.

Tim would see Shane
all wet and cold
and will give him shit
for the same old shit.

They used to be the
toughest around
in town back when it mattered
until there came along
fights that couldn’t be won
like plants shutting down
unpaid debts
miscarriages
divorce
and then there came the bottle
and other things that were worse.

“She’s Billy’s Laura now, Shane, Billy’s Laura!”

“You don’t understand, Tim.”

“I understand that you can’t let go.
That you’re killing yourself
just like she is and
I just can’t
watch it anymore.”

“Come on now, Tim.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Shane. It really wasn’t…”
Tim’s eyes were red, wet and he
slammed the door.

Shane grabbed his coat and
umbrella and headed back.

Maybe Tim finally had the
last of this
but for Shane it was
just another day to get through.

Just another day.

Little Wonder

I was diagnosed with
an illness that
they didn’t catch in time.

Doctor told me that I could be
in pain for months
perhaps years
and could face
permanent hearing loss
in my left ear.

It was at times
debilitating.

The vertigo and tinnitus
were Hell.
Days became Hell.
Life became Hell.

Even after
several months
I wasn’t getting better
and nobody was sure
if I ever would.

It wore me down
eventually.

I was just reaching
middle age and
had never felt
so vulnerable.

I sat downtown on a bench
feeling sorry for myself
when I heard,

“GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY!
TAKE YOUR VIRUS BACK TO CHINA!”

Three teenaged boys
harassing
an Asian woman and
her daughter.

They were right in their face.
The woman and child
were scared.
Nobody was helping them.

Before I knew it
I was across the square.

I grabbed the biggest one and
social-distanced him
right into the
central square fountain.

The other two turned
on me but I
shoved them down
hard
and they scattered.

I was sick
but I wasn’t weak.

“They’re Korean,
you Shitheads!”
I called after them.

All the excitement
made me dizzy.
I was unwell.
I shouldn’t be doing
things like that
and so I staggered
back to my bench
rubbed my temples and
closed my eyes.

I felt a sudden
warmth on the side
of my head
a flash of heat
and the pain
the dizziness
-the nausea that I had
suffered for months
were all suddenly gone.

I opened my eyes
to find the
young Asian girl
staring back at me
as she took her hand away
from my ear.

Her large beautiful
almond eyes
were filled with compassion
and such sadness
that I have never before
seen in a child.

I knew in that moment
that my sickness was gone
for good and that
she had taken it away.

The girl smiled.

She put a finger to her lips.
“Shhhh!” She said then
turned and
ran back to her mother.

I watched them
turn the corner and
disappear.

Afterwards,
I put my head
in my hands and I wept
because I didn’t
know what else to do.

Then I got up and I started to
walk straight
for the first time
in months…

then I started to run
and laugh.

“Don’t Worry, Albert.”

Took care of my wife
for ten years
as cancer slowly
took her away
from me.

“Don’t worry, Albert.
It always rains
on a sunny day,
doesn’t it?”

She’d always say.

Two years alone
after she passed
I moved far away
to start again.

It was either that
or put a gun
to my head.

But everywhere I looked
I still saw
a reminder of her
in every woman
in every child.

I worked
then I wandered the streets.
Trying to live.
Trying to cry.
Trying to die.

And one day
I saw her
leaving a laundromat,
laughing.

It was her
but it wasn’t
because it
couldn’t be

but there she was.

I walked up to her
and stared
like an idiot.

Asked if I could
walk with her.

She looked at me
strange.
I didn’t blame her
but she acquiesced.

That was when
on a blue sky
it opened up
with rain singing across
all the streets
in the sunlight.

She laughed and she
looked at me with that
gorgeous smile
that always
broke through me
like I was air
then she took my hand.

“Don’t worry, Albert.”
she said.

“It always rains
on a sunny day
doesn’t it?”

NEIGHBOUR’S MULLET

Untamable.
A bristling peacock
wild on the street.

Steal your girl.

It is primed
and ready to go.

It’s a cobra
ready to strike.

It has drama.
It has anger.
It has danger
and no mercy.

It goes up
and comes down
and will drive you
to uncertainty.

It will ruin your
finances
and divide your
family.

My neighbour’s mullet
is its own
theater.

I talk about it
everyday
because that’s
where
my life is

and I just had
Deja-vu.

The Intervention

Mother stood up first.

“I know the divorce and your father’s passing has been difficult for you and you have your ways to cope…but we feel that we are losing you. You’re the only son I have and I pray everyday that you stop hurting yourself and that you find Jesus.”

She sat down.

Yeah, I found Jesus, Mother. He was hiding underneath my fucking bed right beside the crack pipe.

My uncle stood up next.

“This is all up to you, Peter. If you say (like you said before) that you are done then we’re all behind you. But you have to really be done this time. You have to. Nobody else can do it for you.”

Whatever, put down the doughnut.

After a couple more verbal lashings from the family, Cousin Timmy got up last. This ought to be good.

“You’re a fucking asshole.” He said. There were tears in his eyes.

He sat back down.

As adept as always in handling these kind of situations, Timmy, as adept as always.

I looked around the Tim Horton’s. Everyone was looking at me. I thought I was just coming here for a fucking coffee and a wrap.

That was Monday.

Friday back at it again. The beast needed feeding.

Dan rolled up in his Benz. He held up a bag of pills.

“Wanna get high with me and my girl?” Tina looked over. Smiled.

We made out last time. Felt her up. So hot.

Dan doesn’t know or he knows and doesn’t give a fuck.

“Hell yeah I do.” I got in the car.