Tag Archives: love

The Other Side of The Wall

“Do you think I’m pretty? Do you think that you could ever love me? Would you ever look upon me as something to be desired? Even someone like me?”

And just like that, Martin started hearing her. It wasn’t right away, but it wasn’t long after moving in either. And it was with such clarity that it was like he could reach out and touch her: the ghost, the girl that was just a voice, the girl that lived in the walls.

It terrified him at first. Because Martin –just like anyone, really– was not accustomed to the unknown or something so…ghostly. Even spiders scared him, a lot. But the girl was not a frightening apparition. She did not seem to mean anybody harm. Even more so, she seemed to take no notice that Martin was even there.

Except who was the girl talking to? It was rather puzzling. That was why Martin started to listen, to really listen. While doing so, he couldn’t help but wonder what she looked like or if the girl was as lovely as she sounded when she laughed.

At first, she was disrupting Martin’s daily routine, and Martin was all about his daily routine. After a short time, however, she became part his daily routine.

After work, as Martin began to spend more time with a chair close to the kitchen wall where he could best hear her, the unseen spirit began taking shape in his mind. He began to picture her face, her oval wandering eyes, her lips lifting into a smile. Some sunny afternoons Martin could even hear her sing.

What is this? Where are you? Martin would wonder. Occasionally, he would even go outside and around the corner to the place alongside the house by the driveway where she should have been –but there were only shrubs, if you could even call them that. Martin did not consider that the voice came from the shrubs. He doubted that shrubs could sing.

This was a strange predicament. Martin was alone and even sometimes lonely. He had always felt as much, especially when in a crowd. It was like he was looking for something that was never there. So, these days even a voice in the wall became good company even if they couldn’t respond when Martin asked questions aloud in the kitchen and felt like the crazy old woman at the grocery store that always counted her pennies and then slipped and started over again when Martin was behind her needing to get to work.

Despite that Martin needed to know what was happening here in his kitchen, it gave him a fresh perspective, a new light. It made things exciting. It made days seem more than just an endless parade of eating frozen dinners in front of the television and trying to avoid the mailman’s incessantly dull conversations about the weather.

“Every time I walk in the sunlight, I am glad to be alive. Just feeling the sun, its glow, its warmth –it’s like unconditional love on my skin and on my soul.” The ghost girl had said out of nowhere one day as Martin was putting the kettle on, and it felt as though she was speaking directly to him as it was a gloriously clear and warm Spring morning filled with birds fresh with song. “Even when it hurts, even when things are so bad that all I want to do is cry, seeing the blue sky and the white glow of our perfect star makes me take a deep breath instead because every day is a blessing.”

“I feel the same way,” Martin returned, but heard nothing more. Still, he smiled and went about his day with renewed vigor. Ah, this voice, this spirit, this girl –whatever she was, it was apparent that she was not malevolent at all but soft like the summer rain that drummed upon the awnings and the dawns that followed when the morning light was just a whisper along the horizon.

But then there was her father:
“Cassandra, why are you so useless? I swear to God, girl…”
He was malevolent.

Now there were more of them in the walls to Martin’s dismay. He could even hear the dog barking and the TV muffled in the background. It was like they were coming alive on the other side of the old plaster.

“Turn up the TV and go get the paper, Cassandra.” And so the television was turned up as requested in Martin’s world as well but faintly –a flicker, a shadow.

Who were they, really? They weren’t neighbours; Martin didn’t have any. He lived in a fully detached house on a barren lot with nothing around but the old railroad station where decommissioned engines and carts, stacks of old rails and railroad ties, and a broad array of other abandoned equipment lay haphazardly around –all cobbled into something reminiscent of a giant child’s forgotten toy set.

It wasn’t a haunting either. According to everything that Martin was ever told, ghosts did not travel in packs. They did not bring their dogs or television sets back with them either. It was rather that the house remembered. The voices, the people, and the time that they had lived here was etched into the walls and the house had decided that it wanted to relive what had happened here. It kept what it had heard and now it was playing it.

It was playing it all back for Martin.

“Cassandra, you’re as worthless as they come. Look at you! Who’s going to love you? Can’t even do the dishes right.”

Worst of all was that this was so familiar to Martin. He thought that he could understand Cassandra. He knew what it was like to feel that you didn’t deserve to exist at all and always be reminded of it. And things got worse over time. Fights became physical. Things would get broken. It would go on for hours, and all Martin could do was listen.

“Cassandra, get me a beer. Then clean up the kitchen and sweep the house.”
“You said I could go outside today. It’s such a nice day.”
“You talking back to me? Come here!”

It soon become apparent that her father was a drunk that liked to berate and beat on Cassandra day and night, and for whatever reason he could find. And Martin couldn’t do anything about it. It just wasn’t possible for him to interfere so there was no way to help her, to save her. Martin was irrevocably destined to helplessly sit there and listen to it play out from some distant memory that the house freely regurgitated like some asshole record player.

But what if it wasn’t? Martin began to ponder things that were in his mind best left to scientists and people on reality television. What if Cassandra lived in the past but also somewhere alongside of him somehow? Somewhere reachable perhaps. The possibilities nagged at Martin because Cassandra was there, wherever and whenever that was. There was nothing tangible, nothing concrete. But sometimes possibilities were enough, and in them he dwelled. Otherwise, what was the point of all this? Was there one?

Days became nights that became days again as weeks led into months and everything had remained as it was. When Martin wasn’t working, he was in the kitchen seated on a chair listening to Cassandra’s sweet, disembodied voice lost somewhere on the other side of the wall -maybe across the whole universe. It could have been another dimension for all he knew. The result was the same: as time dragged on, the hope that he would ever cast eyes upon Cassandra had greatly diminished. Martin felt hopeless in that he couldn’t help himself from falling for someone that was no longer there –just a ghost, an echo; just a breath and a million miles away. Somebody without a face. Somebody without a time.

Still, just to close his eyes and envision her in a summer dress staring out the same window he was as she spoke to no one in particular was something that Martin reveled in, breathed in deeply, obsessed over endlessly. It made everything else seem so distant, just a parade of senseless activities.

“I feel that you are out there, listening,” Cassandra had said. “So, I don’t feel alone, even when I am. Does that make sense? Are you out there, somewhere that I cannot see or touch, but feel?”

Was there a connection somehow, in space and time? It sounded crazy, Martin thought. Maybe it was. But what wasn’t when you really thought about it? Martin pondered what he did every day and how insane that would look to an outsider that did not understand how society worked.

“I can hear you, Cassandra. It’s me, Martin.” Martin sighed, but at least he did not feel so ridiculous anymore. “I know that you’re long gone or somewhere very far away, but I still can’t let go. I won’t. I don’t know how to. I also don’t know what to do or why I’m really here or even why this is really happening, but one thing is certain: I will not give up on you, even if it’s a lost cause. It’s all I have.”

Yet ever-present was her father like the shadow of a hammer upon a nail. And the torture of hearing their daily routine reminded Martin that the universe just was. It did not bend this way or that to follow some fantastical predetermined destiny. Martin was feeding his own delusion like coals into a fire. This was all for naught and he was going to make himself sick or worse from obsessing over what the house was doing.

But then the hammer fell.

It began as all the other fights did: Cassandra’s father yelling, words angry and slurred. He was drunker than usual and punching the walls. Next would be her. The dog was barking. Cassandra was sobbing, begging for him to stop. But he was only gaining momentum. This was the worse that Martin had ever heard him: Cassandra was lazy; Cassandra had let him down; Cassandra wasn’t the daughter he wanted. As furniture was being overturned Martin seethed and gripped his chair white-knuckled wishing for anything just to make it stop. But then it did…

Martin heard a bottle smash followed by a heavy thud, almost loud even through the wall. A body fell…Cassandra’s? His mind struggled at what else it could be. Something was very wrong. Martin had a fairly good idea of exactly what had transpired but still…he might have just knocked her unconscious. Then came a long, drawn-out silence. Not good. Martin could hear weeping, barely audible.

Finally, “Cassandra? CASSANDRA?!” Her father shouted. “Oh no, no…my baby girl…”

When the drunken man started wailing, Martin’s stomach dropped like a lead weight to the bottom of a dark ocean. The man had trapped himself in the cycle of his own violence and now he was sorry, now he was the victim. Martin couldn’t even be angry anymore; his heart knew what had happened before his mind could accept the finality of it. Whatever the case had been the result was the same: Cassandra was gone. For a long time after, Martin sat in the dark kitchen listening to the father’s sobs and the rain falling outside, softly.

And then everything just stopped. There was no father, no television, no dog, and no Cassandra. It was as though it had never happened. Martin was shocked to numbness but eventually the numbness wore off and that’s when things got bad. Martin had never had his heart broken before and would have felt better if it was gone completely. If only he could have felt nothing instead. And so Martin let himself go into that dark place alone until he was fully immersed, finally breaking down beneath the weight of his sadness, but that’s not all he did.

Martin stopped sleeping. And he never left that kitchen chair. He stopped eating and was withering away and didn’t care. His work stopped calling. Envelopes piled up in the mailbox. Food went bad. He was completely lost, barely conscious anymore, slipping away as there was nothing to hold on to. This was the end. Martin’s sorrow had become a creature, had become his best friend. Hello, Old Chapo! And this was the end…the end…the end…

Everything was over. Nothing was ever over.

“Martin…”

That voice. Martin had heard it so many times through the walls. But this wasn’t through the walls. Martin lifted his head from the kitchen table, slowly sat up in the chair, turned around and there she was: Cassandra. Standing there. So terribly beautiful. Not a ghost in the wall. She was there. Not a crying, singing, or sobbing invisible entity in the never ether. She was right there in the kitchen staring back at him. There was something in the way that she looked at him. Martin melted. Reality shifted. Something strange and new and everlasting was here. Right there. With her. As alive as the sky. As real as his breath.

“Martin.” She was smiling. Cassandra ran her hand along the wall as she turned around the corner and was gone but for the sound of her feet on the floor echoing down the hall.

Martin had finally cracked. Had to have been. It was just too much for him in the end. No other explanation but…

Martin knew…he knew that this place was special. And that he was special. And that maybe the house had been calling to him all along. And maybe he didn’t have to love her from afar.

Martin scrambled out of his chair, heart beating in his ears. This can’t be real. It can’t be….

Please let this be real…

I Take You Everywhere

“Hey Thomas,
haven’t seen you in a while
and when I have
you’ve been really distant.”

Thomas gazed across the park
at an empty playground.
“Yeah…” He said.

“I know it’s been hard for you
since Michelle left,
but it’s been awhile now.”

Thomas envisioned Michelle on the swings,
long legs white in the sunlight,
soaring through the air.
A stubborn angel with her
hair back, laughing.
“I’m over it,” he said.

“Great, so come out and see your friends.”

Thomas watched as Michelle
lay back on blanket,
those ridiculously over-sized sunglasses
he always hated
gracing her Elvin face.
“I will,” he said.

“OK, so…when?”

Michelle was calling Thomas over.
There was an empty space
on the blanket
beside her.
“Soon,” Thomas said.

She had on his favorite
summer dress. The one that still
hung in the closet like a ghost.
The only thing she left
as though on purpose.

“Soon.”

Dream Phone

“I know it’s been a couple years since lockdown…but I heard and I’m so sorry about Beth, Man. I really am.”
“Yeah, so am I.”
“You still think about her?”
“Every single minute, Martin. Things like that don’t just go away.”
“Fuck cancer.”
“Yeah, fuck cancer,” I said without conviction, staring down at the table. Still the same Martin then. I never quite understood how someone as empathetic could be so socially tone-deaf. And why was I here? What did he want?

But really, what was I doing other than sitting in a room with the drapes drawn staring at a television that wasn’t turned on?

Someone at the other end of the coffee shop coughed. I looked over to see an old man in a checkered shirt frowning at me.
“Oh, check this out.” Martin reached inside his jacket. “Got this phone on Amazon. It lets you take pictures of your dreams.”
“Bullshit.”
“No, seriously. All you have to do is make a clicking motion with your finger –like this, and it’ll take a photo of what you’re doing right inside your dream. But you have to remember while you’re dreaming to do this. Harder than it sounds. Took me a while to get the hang of it.”

I drummed my fingers on the table.
“Bullshit,” I said again. I mean, believe this guy?

Martin laughed, “Okay, I get it. But tech these days? And this phone? I got it a week ago and you should see some of the shit that it can do. Unreal. I don’t know who made it, and I even looked.” Martin then leaned forward and whispered as though what he was telling me was a grave secret: “Listen, this is so much more than just a phone. It’s like a line to the other side of the universe; a bridge to beyond and back. Something happened soon after I got it…so…I had to show you it.”

“Okay, Martin,” I clasped my hands together and looked over at the old man again. He was still frowning at me. “First off, what the fuck? Why me? And what do you mean ‘other side?’” This was when I started to feel something begin to crawl around the inside of my stomach, something cold and unfriendly.

“Alright, alright…” Martin smiled. He has always been a decent enough guy, but this conversation made a quick right turn and went a little too far down the yellow brick road. Maybe Martin was a few gumdrops short of a gingerbread house. Who knows? Either way, I didn’t like where this was going.

“Don’t freak out. Okay? Promise?” Martin didn’t wait for an answer. He slid the phone over and I found myself staring at a pic.

It was me and Martin leaning back against a beach bar with Chinese lanterns filling the sky behind us. Somewhere tropical. Sailboats and gulls. Even though I was never there, it did look like an actual photo. But the only thing that I really saw was Beth, my dearly beloved and departed, standing on the other side of me in a white flowing dress with her arm around my waist.

“What?” Was all I could muster to say, and I could hear my own voice begin to choke. I didn’t know what I was looking at, at first. But it hit me, hard. My vision began to blur. I wasn’t expecting to see her today. It changed things. Memories came flooding back: watching her live, watching her die.

“You fucking photoshop this?” My hand started to shake, so did the phone. I felt tears begin. Fuck, I thought that I was getting better for a while, but obviously I wasn’t.

“Whoa, Man.” Martin looked around. “Let’s just chill for a sec. You’re not seeing the whole picture.”

I actually began to laugh, “I’m not…whew!” I wiped my eyes with my sleeve and looked at the pic again; brought it closer to my face.

Martin shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “You need to listen to me, I…”

“You Sick Fuck, you think this is funny?” I said it softly, my voice quivering. I could barely make out Martin sitting across from me. My face felt hot. Holding the phone anymore was no good so I lay it down on the table, gently.

Martin’s eyes widened. “Easy, Man, just give me one second to explain.” He seemed just as unnerved as I was. Maybe he wasn’t a complete asshole, just hopelessly misguided. But by now he had certainly realized that this was a mistake.

That’s when the phone lit up with an incoming call and I stared at it in disbelief.

Back in college, when we were starting off, Beth and I had made a pact. We made it because deep down inside we knew that we were meant to be together. We would always be in love; there was no question. And we would always find each other no matter what. That was the pact. There was a song that was part of that pact. It was playing when we made it. It was forever, just like us. We adopted it. Sang it to each other. Stupid shit. It was a silly, young romantic gesture. One that I had almost forgotten until now.

It was a collection of flat eight-bit tones, but the ringtone the phone was playing –it was mine and Beth’s song.

Nobody else knew that. When the song then began to play over the radio in the coffee shop it felt like somebody had just tapped me on the back in an empty, locked room. It brought back the nights I lay alone in our bed after she was gone, having conversations with her in my head, wishing to God that I could have went as well and not be left here, like this, grown-ass man crying in the dark like a lost little child. What I would have gave to speak to her again, if only for a minute.

What I would have gave.

Martin put both his hands up like he was under arrest –only to show me that he was non-threatening. He then slowly reached over and answered the phone.

“Hey. Yeah. Thank you. Here he is.” Martin handed it over across the table. As though in slow motion and like in a dream itself, I slowly reached out, grabbed the phone, and brought it to my ear.

“Hello?” I said.

HER LOVE IS WAR

Her love is a
crowbar into
the stomach.

It’s a gun fight
in a closet.

It’s a black hole
in a paper cup.

Her love is a
grenade in a
gumball machine.

An electric chair
in a summer dress.

It’s a Third Reich parade.

Now i drive fast
with my eyes closed.

Scream into bottles
of Chardonnay.

Pick fights with
ghosts in long ago
basements

while looking
for reasons
in a cereal box
and empty parking lots.

I SAW GOD IN HER LAUGHTER ON A GODLESS NIGHT

Standing outside the warehouse
3:30 a.m.
on a Monday night
buzzed as fuck because
my life was
completely out of
control but
the world was always ending
anyway.

I was waiting for the
whatever man:
the Space man
the Big man
Blast man
–fucking Spider-man.

And I was there to pick up
whatever it was called
this time:
Blue God, Ice
Cloud Dream
Dark Light
-Elvis’s Last Shit.

We label things and
name ourselves
to make it all seem
so much more than
it really is and
have been doing this
since we swam up
on shore
and started walking.

It’s just drugs, man.
Just fucking drugs.
It makes people so crazy
but so does booze
romance
religion
children’s birthday parties
being around other people
and being alone.

A silhouette approached
almost melding with the dark
and I almost didn’t see it,

but her voice was
both exhilarating
and frightening and
alien.

“You’re here for Magic Man?”

“Either that or I’m really fucking lost,”
I said.

She laughed like
wind chimes
breaking a long silence

like glass shattering
every fragile illusion

like the rarest escape of
perfect harmony
in a world full
of mediocrity
of spiritual poverty
of holes under carpets
of monsters under beds
of floating garbage
and drowning people
of empty spaces
between empty spaces
of broken bottles in
endless alleys
of fools and ghosts
and miles of pain.

I knew that she was
beautiful
and I couldn’t even
see her face.

And just like that
I had to know
everything about her
but I just quietly followed
her
from darkness
into light
towards magic
man.

Ice Cream Truck Goes To Mars

When you’re high
or drunk
or both
it fucks up your piss
you think you’re done
or don’t
are you?
You’re not sure
but how long are you going to
just stand there
with your dick hanging out
waiting to be seen
maybe you want to be seen
you dirty fuck
so on that
you put it away
and walk a half block
further into darkness
only to have to piss again
and the dance continues
but it’s not a dance
perhaps people throughout
the centuries have struggled
with this maddeningly human
scenario of
pulling it out
only to put it away again and…

Do you hate me?
Do you love me?
Am I feeble
livid
reckless?

What am I after all
but just another
mad animal
rampaging through
the technology driven
wilderness?

And you consider
how you never calculate
into your day
the pisses
the shits
the eats
you never have as much time
as you think
ever
because you eat too much
you’re far too comfortable
without predators
you shit too much piss
way too much
and you don’t fuck at all
anymore
you might as well
be quarantined.

You’re a lost cause
aren’t you?

I really don’t know…
fuck it.

Ice cream truck goes to Mars.

MAN IN A HOTEL ROOM WITH A GUN

Taking it all in
one long moment

sitting there
on the edge of the bed
with a gun in your hand
blood on the sheets
a brunette laying across them

naked
pale
stiff
like a mannequin

you don’t recognize the gun
the room
her
your clothes

You don’t know how you got there
at all

so you lie back
upon the bed
your head close
to her hip

taking it all in
one long moment

staring at the ceiling fan
spinning
a quiet shadow
across everything

before you close
your eyes

and try to wake up.

THE PARTY DRUG

Tom lost his fiancé at a party. He didn’t like being without her in an apartment crowded with people. He didn’t like people. He didn’t know what to say to them. Stacy was the only one he could talk to. And now she was gone.

That’s when he saw the boy standing in the living room with an open Ziploc bag handing out pills like it was Halloween candy. He looked so nicely cooked that you just wanted to be him.

“This is Eddie’s shit, Man. Best in town. Y’all know Eddie, right? We’re just around the corner so hit us up. Nice chill buzz. It’ll get your girl in the mood. Spread the word that I’ve got free samples cause I’m only here ‘til it’s gone. Only got fragments left, Man, fragments.”

Largest reason why Tom didn’t like being around people was that he easily saw into them and mostly didn’t like what he saw. The boy with the bag didn’t add up at all. Beneath his entrepreneurial bravado he looked scared. Of what? It was a party, Man, not even a particularly exciting one.

People were snatching pills up as word circulated around the apartment. When the boy gave out the last one and noticed that Tom was watching him he took the empty sandwich bag in both of his hands, blew into it and then popped it with his fist. He mouthed a word slowly to Tom and made for the door, fumbling the knob on the way out. Tom couldn’t make out what he had said but he barely tried.

Fuck, where was Stacy? She knew better than this. Tom didn’t want to seem desperate enough to go looking for her either. It was one of those situations that exemplified exactly why he was dragged here by his balls and Tom was just going to sit there and wait a few more minutes like a good dog.

That’s when the laughter in the kitchen started.

Everybody was laughing in there. What a riot. Good times. They kept on and on. They didn’t stop. After a while Tom could tell by the way that people in the living room had stopped talking with eyes nervously darting back and forth that it scared them too. A couple of them started laughing themselves. It was catching on, whatever it was. Something was happening.

The laughter became louder until it was all anyone could hear and it wasn’t only coming from the kitchen now. People were bent over here and there having a fit. It didn’t look fun; it looked forced. Tom realized that he was gripping the sofa he sat on with white knuckles.

Tom wasn’t sure what was going on but it was strange enough to potentially send him over the ledge and all the way down. His short bursts of breath were signaling a coming panic attack and Tom wasn’t about to have one here because there was nowhere to hide. Stacy would be disappointed, even if she didn’t show it.

A skinny blonde girl stumbled out of the kitchen cackling like a rabid hyena. The people that weren’t laughing started screaming –her face; her fucking face. Tom sprang from the sofa and sped to the back of the apartment calling Stacy’s name and going into every room until he found her.

“We’ve got to go, now!” Stacy saw enough to not protest and held Tom close as they made their way back down the hall towards the front door. Stacy looked into the next room they passed and screamed as Tom pulled her away.

Uncontrollable laughter was only a symptom of becoming something far worse. What they saw now were no longer people. Their faces and bodies had disfigured into some morbid curiosity. It made you sick to look at them but you didn’t want to look away as everything was happening so fast.

Tom knew that it wouldn’t stop there and that this was the beginning of an event that was beyond his comprehension. What he did comprehend was that they weren’t going to make it past the living room. Not with what he saw happening up ahead. Nothing should make a person look like that and do those things. Rage wouldn’t describe it.

Passing by the bathroom Tom saw that it was empty, pulled Stacy inside and locked the door. Not satisfied, he held the doorknob with both hands. Tom now felt shut in and trapped but at least he didn’t have to see what was going on out there. Screams filled the apartment. Screams and laughter. It was pandemonium. It was a living Hell.

It was only then that Tom thought back to what the boy had said to him and realized it was, ‘I’m sorry.’ If it didn’t make much sense then it was much clearer now. But what in God’s name had he done?

“Call 911!” Tom shouted, but Stacy wasn’t moving, until she lifted up her face. Her mouth had already frozen into an sickening grin that almost met her yellow bulbous eyes trapped in a blank mad stare that was both haunted and haunting. It was a face that would have been comic had it not been terrifyingly so.

“Oh no, Baby. NO BABY! No no no no…not you too…” Tom reached for her and began to cry.

Stacy began to laugh.

Part 2 of 2. Catch part 1 here: THE DEALER

Dusty Trumpets

Let me love you
furiously
like death loves the young and
fire loves a tree.

Let me take your hand
and put it on the trigger.

Let’s turn everything
into just plain murder.

Let’s give them all Hell
for having birthed us.

Let’s scream off the agony of being
and beat down the cages just to
bully the hungry lions.

Let’s rage against the day
against the night
against the vast indifferent sky.

Let’s shake the sleep out of the angels,
step on the toes of giants and
embrace the writhing Leviathan.

Let’s burn into forever.

Let’s awaken the dusty trumpets.