Friday, May 31, 2019


Woke up early and it’s still dark outside. I can hear the morning songs of the birds outside my window. “I hate those fucking birds!” said Linnell, a guy I worked with at FedEx. I’m beginning to agree with him. 

I think I was regarded as “The Drunk,” at FedEx. I wasn’t fooling anybody. Once I had a seizure and smashed my face on a wooden crate. Half my face became a huge black bruise. My right eyeball was dark purple. I was a sight! I looked like a fighter after a savage pummeling. I was a frightening mess but I went to work anyway. A couple people asked about my face, “Jesus, are you all right?” “Whoa, dude! What the fuck happened to you?”

People joked, “You should see the other guy!”

I made up a stupid story about tripping and falling. It was an awful, transparent excuse. My powers of creative writing failed me. I’m sure no one believed me. I might as well have used the old, “Hit my head on the bathroom door...”
       I didn't want to admit to a seizure. It would expose too much.

     But most of my coworkers chose to ignore my raging battle wounds. It was almost comical how they nervously averted their eyes. They spoke to me staring at the floor.

     I never had myself checked out, medically. I wonder if I incurred any lasting damage. Whenever I forget something, I consider the damage I sustained. How much did I lose? How many memories did I dribble away?

     But as bad as the damage was, it paled in comparison to the head wound I suffered in New Hampshire around ten years ago. I fell straight back and SMASHED the back of my head open on a big rough slab of granite. Too drunk to go to the hospital, my friend patched me together using napkins and a stereo wire. He told me I had a hole in my head. Did I mention I was drunk? Anyway, he got me home safely where I continued to drink and eventually passed out. In the morning I got a phone call from my savior. I assured him I was fine while staring at my blood-soaked pillow. "No worries."

     Again, when my thinking becomes sluggish, when I fumble through my memory, when I can’t place a name or a location, I wonder how much is due to old age and how much to the deep lacerating scars under my cranium.
     How much of ME did I bleed away?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Something Happened

Slept heavily, slept late. That’s unusual for me. I’m usually up at dawn, before the singing birds begin their cacophony in the surrounding bushes. But since I love to sleep, it was a welcome change. I had several dreams but I don’t remember any of them, aside from a few dim flickering images. A therapist suggested I keep a dream journal but I don’t think I will. I’d prefer to keep my dreams in my head. Private and fading and eventually forgotten. That’s the natural lifespan of a dream. Who am I to tamper with it?

I used to know a guy named Danny who had a major bad trip after smoking too much pot (of all things). He was at a party and got very high, people offering him joints throughout the house. Danny accepted every joint and bowlful and he became baked, the varied strains of marijuana putting the whammy on the poor guy’s brain.  

And then a couple of people wanted to explore the basement and they drafted Danny, who was too stoned to decline the offer. So they headed down the cellar stairs. Danny’s life would be changed forever.

Danny found himself walking down a staircase to hell. The faces of his friends had turned hellish, demented, and demonic. The walls held hundreds of misshapen faces, mouthing silent curses. Danny made it to the bottom filled with fear. He collapsed and sat down on the bottom step and began to cry. He was in Hell, he was sure of that. He put his shaking hands over his face and continued to weep.

The other partygoers stood around him. This was serious.

“You okay Danny?” said Donna Haberski. “What’s wrong?”

Danny didn’t answer; he peeked through his fingers and screamed, making the others step back. Everyone was scared now. Danny had become unhinged

Joel Fintelly said, “Shit. He’s really gone.”

Danny remained sitting, sobbing into his hands.

“Shit,” said Joel. “Maybe we should call an ambulance.”

Billy Parker waved away THAT boneheaded idea. “Are you nuts? This whole house and everyone in it smells like a pot factory. We’d all be wearing handcuffs in like five minutes.”

“So, what should we do then?” asked Donna.

 “Nothing,” said Joel. “It’ll wear off eventually. You can’t overdose on marijuana.”

“What if it was laced with something? Like PCP...”

“Let’s not catastrophize the situation. He’s just high as hell that’s all, and it’ll wear off.”

They stood around Danny, the five of them. Donna said, “Danny, honey it’s gonna be all right. Everything will get back to normal.”

Donna’s voice was soothing and kindly and encouraging but when Danny  lowered his hands he didn’t see Donna, he saw a rotting monster; its big red eyeballs leaking down its hairy, melting face.
Danny screamed and covered his face again.

The others decided to stay with him until he was sober enough to go home.

It took nearly three hours before Danny stopped seeing monsters everywhere he looked. He was getting himself under control.
Joel and Donna gave him a ride home. Danny didn’t speak. Didn’t say one word the entire drive.

They dropped him off at his parent’s house and then took off.

"Bye Danny. Take it easy. It's going to be okay..."
Danny went straight to his bedroom, grabbed his Bible and spent the next three days reading and praying. He never smoked dope again. He stopped drinking too. He started annoying people with his little impromptu sermons. He carried his bible everywhere. Not many of his old friends could tolerate his obnoxious new faith and Danny became virtually friendless.

Eventually he converted to Catholicism and moved. We never saw him after that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A Pack of Dogs

Woke up early this morning. I heard a dog barking in the distance and it brought me back in time...

When I was a kid (8) I witnessed a pack of running dogs. I was living in a rural, wooded area with my family. There was no leash law (not yet anyway) so people would just open their doors and let their dogs out to roam free. There was a lot of dog shit to avoid in the neighborhood.

Some of the turds would be a chalky white and we (my friends and I) would notice this phenomenon once in a while and laugh. We wondered about the strange changes that the turds underwent. What did it mean? Were the dogs sick? Maybe worms were to blame; sucking all the color from the turds on their way out to the lawn. Heavy questions indeed.

Having to scrape dog shit from your sneakers with a stick was a task everyone had to do on occasion. It sucked but it was no big deal. We were used to it. Woe to the kid who tracked it into the house.

I had gotten up early on a Sunday morning and went out to play. My parents were still sleeping. The whole neighborhood was still sleeping. The morning was chilly, wrapped in a mist and dense, sea-gray fog. The fog was so thick it was exciting. Mysterious. I felt like I was on some alien planet or otherworldly dimension. The gloom erased everything in swaths of deep charcoal. I passed through the fog and felt like a ghost.

And then they appeared. They were running, dog tags jingling. They were running toward me, hidden by the fog..

And then they suddenly burst through. There were at least twelve of them. Some I recognized from around the neighborhood. Others I did not.

The dogs had no interest in me. They divided the pack and dogs raced past me on both sides. I stood perfectly still as they passed.

Then they were gone, swallowed by the fog. I stood listening to the fading jingle of the collars.
I wondered where they were going. With no one around, they claimed the foggy neighborhood for themselves. To feel wild, like wolves again. I’d seen the Durkin’s German shepherd, Schultz, Mrs. Hanscomb’s little terrier Maxie, Stephanie Kelly’s boyfriend’s pitbull, Butch. Other dogs I didn’t recognize. A hulking Saint Bernard took up the rear. I found it reassuring that all these different dogs congregated every morning and returned to a kind of pack mentality. It must feel good, I thought. Primal. To race through the cool fog feeling feral and happy to be a PART of something. Indulging their canine behaviors with others like them. It was something more powerful and enjoyable than being cooped up and alone with stupid humans; trapped in a house full of strange sounds and smells. And rules.    

The dogs had faded away. The neighborhood was chilly and still once again. I went home to wait for my friends to wake up and come outside,

Then the neighborhood was OURS.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The List

I try to resist existential stagnation by forcing myself to do stuff. Sometimes I’m lethargic or paralyzed by ennui. Apathetic about everything. I don’t get anything done and it leads to guilt. It’s in my best interest to perform daily rituals.

So, I try to get up at dawn and make a “to-do” list every morning. The first task on the list is always, Make a to-do list. Sometimes that’s the only item that gets crossed off.  

I should be washing the dishes or doing laundry, instead I’m watching splosh videos on YouTube. A woman dumps baked beans over her head. Another woman, wearing red lingerie, sits on a birthday cake and smooshes it all to hell. Once, when I was six, I saw a girl in a pink party dress jump into a muddy, stagnant stream (she was trying to jump across). I never forgot the incident. I don’t know why it holds such power for me. I don’t like getting muddy myself.

Ah well, how’s that list coming? I need to take out the trash so I pencil that in. Most of the food I eat comes in cardboard boxes, so the trash adds up fast. I acknowledge my part in despoiling the environment and murdering cows and all that stuff and guilt of another sort assails me. I’m part of a bigger problem. I have to make an effort to reroute the direction of my thoughts. Changing the world doesn't make the list.

I want to make coffee but fear the caffeine. Stagnation is one thing but anxious stagnation is the worst. Fear and fatigue don’t mix. I make coffee anyway. It’s a task that doesn’t make the list. I’m not that shameless...

I write, “Write a blog entry” on the list. It’s cheating because I’m almost done already (see below). I get ahead of myself and cross it off the list, which now looks like this:






Well, I’ve made progress! I decide to do the dishes next because the other tasks entail going outside and I don’t want to go outside. Agoraphobia is a symptom of my stagnation. I’ll try to work up the courage to take out the trash later. I turn on the TV for company. The Cheyenne Show is on. Oh, it’s a good one! My coffee’s ready too AND I have one store-bought donut left. Glazed. I throw the empty box away.

Well, that’s about it. I have to go.

I have things to do.