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Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween

I am getting old.
When I was young I imagined that Halloween was for children. It was costumes and candy and imaginary play. Halloween was an escape from reality, or it was a glance into another world.
We use to go block to block in our costumes, we called it Trick or Treating, we carried pillow cases with us, taking candies at nearly every door.
We scoffed at the people who lived in the houses where they handed out little bibles, or toothpaste, or home made goods.
I remember the drill of searching through our candy, looking for suspicious things, open packages. We heard that some people hated children and would slip needles, or razor blades into the candies.
Halloween was not all fun and games, it was not just for children either.
Halloween was a deeper holiday than we thought of as children, it was not just about ghosts and goblins and friendly witches. In the celebration of Halloween there was an ages old conflict, between the Christian Church, and the “Old Time Religion;” the customs of the pagans hiding just beneath the surface.
On the Christian Calendar; Halloween was known as the All Hallows Eve. It was a celebration of the honored dead, of all the saints who had passed before.
For the old pagans; whose traditions walk hand in hand with the church, it was a celebration of the dead. Plain and simple, Halloween was an acknowledgment of all the dead, whose spirits live among us still; good and bad, honored or not, and more often than not it celebrated the dangerous, the macabre, the frightening, and the weird.
I was fourteen the last year I went Trick or Treating, and really; I was only chaperoning my younger brother. I took some candy nevertheless.
In that same year I remember the Pastor at my church lamenting the popularity of the pagan festival. Believing that the Christian feast should be honored instead. There was no fun in that.      
In the that have followed, the number of children who go out in costumes seeking candy has declined by 25%. It is no longer considered safe or wholesome.
At forty-seven I watch my pears obsess over this day still. A few of them earn an income through it, I understand that. Other have children, and for them it is a carrying forward of a tradition. Most look to Halloween or the weekend preceding it, as a cause to be drunken, to crawl through bars in costumes, to cling to their childhood and the freedom of they had as children, which they remember, or imagine.
For me it is just another day, Halloween, I do not believe that the dead walk with us. I have never seen a ghost, or found evidence of magic.

Given 1st - 2016.10.31

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 19.1 - 10 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.10.30


The Beloved

Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance: he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: ‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. ‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house’ they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.’


The Judgement of God

Be mindful.

Do not judge. Make no assumptions about the piety of others.

Everyone is a sinner, and everyone is good;

Everyone loves, and is worthy of love.

That is the whole of the gospel.



31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Saturday, October 29, 2016

May You Live in Interesting Times ~ Ancient Curse (Part Ten)

Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
10.29.2016

May You Live in Interesting Times ~ Ancient Curse

Part Ten

There has been a lot of talk throughout the month of October, about the so-called October surprise; the piece of breaking news that will slip into the consciousness of the electorate and throw the election one way or another.

For Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee for President, there were no surprises, there was just a steady stream of revelations regarding his character, and conduct toward women; revelations that were not surprising at all, because they were consistent with a decades long history of public statements he has made, and actions he has taken that show him in the light of a serial abuser of women, some in his employ, some merely seeking work, other merely sitting next to him at a nightclub, or on an airplane.

T-Rump strikes again, and again in a long stand pattern, or habit of sexual assault.

For the Democratic Party’s nominee for President, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the surprise came in the form of a statement from the director of the FBI; James Comey. A man whose office was charged with investigating thousands of e-mails; either sent to, or sent by Hillary Clinton, through a private server at her estate in New York.

Throughout the political season, until July of 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign had been operating under a cloud of suspicion, the suspicion that she may have broken the law, by revealing or sharing classified intelligence materials through her private system. Other prominent public officials had recently been charged with crimes, found guilty, faced imprisonment, and heavy fines for such violations.

However, in July, after an intensive investigation, and after hours of testimony given by Hillary, to the FBI, and to Congressional committees; it was the judgement of the investigators that no crimes had been committed by Hillary. She had, perhaps been careless, but no there was no evidence of a crime they felt they could prosecute, or prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Comey, the FBI director; he has been serving the Obama administration throughout Obama’s two terms. He was appointed to the ten-year post by President George W. Bush. He is a republican, and he had previously held partisan political posts, nevertheless he is the director of the FBI.
When he issued the statement in July, that Hillary would not be prosecuted for any crimes related to her e-mails, he did so in such a way as to level serious criticism against her. He accused her of incompetence, carelessness, and malfeasance to a level just shy of being criminal.

His political friends cried foul, while at the same time making as much hay out of his statement as they possibly could. His political friends wanted Hillary prosecutes, regardless of the fact that there was no evidence of any crime.

Now, two and half months later, with just eleven days to go before the election; Comey announces that he has reopened the investigation into Hillary’s e-mails, based on some evidence they found in an unrelated case.

He gave no other information, except to say that the new evidence may not be significant at all; the FBI was merely investigating it, and Hillary’s critics pounced.


The FBI director did this; contrary to a long standing protocol of the justice department, to not issues statements about investigations or any political matter within sixty days of an election. He violated justice department protocols in order to aid his republican allies in the current election cycle.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Emergence: Section Six, The Empire; Part Forty-one, Tradition, Collected Chapters



Tradition; Part Forty-one,
Chapter One: Story
Pt. 41, Ch. 01
His life symbolized the faith of every citizen in the Empire. A million worlds followed him; put their hopes in him.
#Emergence

Tradition; Part Forty-one,
Chapter Two: Pietas
Pt. 41, Ch. 02
The perception of holiness mattered more than its reality. Image is everything, rhetoric was the measure of the day.
#Emergence

Tradition; Part Forty-one,
Chapter Three: Custom
Pt. 41, Ch. 03
For the rituals of the priesthood; every gesture was important, rippling through the lives of the faithful in rings.
#Emergence

Tradition; Part Forty-one,
Chapter Four: Classism  
Pt. 41, Ch. 04
The imperial system was held together by class, rank, ancestry and heredity. Everybody longed for a release from it.
#Emergence

Tradition; Part Forty-one,
Chapter Five: Socialism
Pt. 41, Ch. 05
Autonomy was an illusion; private property, self-direction. In truth, everything and everyone is owned by the state.
#Emergence

Tradition; Part Forty-one,
Chapter Six: Globalism   
Pt. 41, Pt. 06
To be at peace in the Empire a person had to accept the view that their happiness was an integral part of the whole.
#Emergence

Tradition; Part Forty-one,
Chapter Seven: Universalism

Pt. 41, Ch. 07
Individual fulfillment came only through the chain of being; in which each person experienced life at every station.
#Emergence

Emergence:
Section Six, The Empire
Tradition; Part Forty-one
Collected Chapters
Section 06, The Empire
Part 41, Tradition
Chapters
01 Story
02 Pietas
03 Custom
04 Classism
05 Socialism
06 Globalism
07 Universalism
#Emergence
#SuperShortFiction
#365SciFi
@jaybotten

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Darkness

A cloud of unknowing, the divine ascent

Following the way of Jacob, Israel

Rung by rung, his handprints and mine

Mindful in the morning light

Mindless in the deepening night, and mad

I find a self I never knew

In darkness…in the deep of night

In silence, but for Ruha whispering

A forgotten name whistling in the ear

Gentle, ephemeral brushing through my hair

The wind had the number every strand

Darkness…I remember you

Descending like the shroud

Grieving in the cold, and lonely places

In the secret chamber of my heart

Covered and clouded, and washed in the rain

Buried and reborn

Darkness…I was a fool, I never knew you

Fragile…I could not bear you

Restless…I would not endure you.

There is a ladder; on a tower, atop its parapet

In a city, by a vineyard where old drunkards sleep

Lying naked beneath the sun

There is a vine, upon a trellis

Roots stretched far into the earth

In the dark cool soil that is life

There is fruit upon the vine

The apex of ascent, pluck it


Be plucked, taste of it, and change

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 18:9 - 14 ©

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 18:9 - 14 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.10.23

On Pride and Humility

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else: ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.” The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’

Understanding

Do not be mistaken; both of these people are beloved by God.

God, the creator of the universe; God loves all people, without qualification. God gives to all people without preference.

In the person of the Pharisee, and in the person of the tax collector; there is good and there is evil; both. This is true of everyone. God loves us despite our faults and failings.

The Pharisee was born into the life of a Pharisee, was given the means to live the life he lived. He had some say in how he would handle his inheritance; as we all do, whatever that inheritance might be.

We are each of free to be prideful, or humble regardless of what we do or do not have.

A person who manifests an ugly sense of pride in relation to one aspect of their life, may be loving and humble in another. Do not believe that because you see one side of a person, you have seen everything about them.

The tax collector also inherited his circumstances; perhaps making choices along the way to establish himself in the role he occupied, nevertheless, like all people, his role in his community was partly determined by free will and partly determined by the exigencies of his community life.

A person may have an occupation where they know they are doing harm to others, but cannot walk away from it, because of unseen obligations; to family, to friends, to community. The fact that they are engaged in a sinful occupation does not tell us the whole story of who they are. They may be fierce and aggressive in the pursuit of their duties, and yet come to their prayers with humility and contrition.

Be welcoming to all who come to you. Do not judge them based on the outward expression of their piety, their occupation, their place in society.

We are all of us a mix of good and bad intentions.


30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Saturday, October 22, 2016

May You Live in Interesting Times ~ Ancient Curse (Part Nine)

Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
10.21.2016

We are in the last three weeks of the campaign for President of the United States.

Last week marked the end of the presidential debates between the Democratic Party’s nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and the Republican Party’s nominee, television personality Donald Trump, the T-Rump. The two of them wrapped up the third and final debate, in what was the most substantive of their contests, in which both candidates performed better than they had in the previous two debates, even though T-Rump continued to talk fact-free, to fidget, to sniffle, to cast insults, call names, and at the end suggested that he would not concede the race if he lost.

This would be a first in American politics, it is a threat to cyclical, peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next that has been the hallmark of our Republic.

This is not new for T-Rump. During the primaries, while he eventually promised to support the Republican nominee, if it should turn out to not be him; after that promise was extracted from him, he began to cast doubt on it by suggesting that he would not support the nominee if he lost in a contest that he deemed to be unfair.

T-Rump knows he losing, but he cannot entertain the thought, his mental illness is such that he can only admit to losing if the conditions were not fair; in which case he did not lose at all, but he was cheated.

His rhetoric three weeks before the election has encouraged people in the crowds at his rallies to suggest that if T-Rump loses there will be an armed revolution, that Hillary should be forcibly removed from office, and the government should be overthrown.

T-Rump has not called for the violent overthrow of the government. But he has not condemned the people in his crowds who are speaking this way. And he has told Hillary that if by some miracle he should win, he would lock her up, put her in jail; despite the fact that she has never been charged with a crime.

I believe that Donald Trump is a threat to our Democracy. While he promotes himself as a defender of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution; an appeal to his armed and radical followers, whom he has asked to provide “2nd Amendment remedies” on his behalf should he lose; at the same time he threatens to lock up journalists, deny the freedom of the press, approve standards of religious persecution, commit torture, deny people due process and etc…


Vote…Bury Donald Trump in a landslide! 

Attached to a Phone Cord

It was an image out of time

A man walking with telephone in hand

The long handset at his right ear

The bulky base hanging from his fingers

At his waist, the curling cord

Like a bandolier across his chest

A long cable trailing along the floor

A slender, flat worm, fixed to the wall

Shifting as he paced around the room

Watch, as from time to time he switches

The parts of the phone form hand to hand

Pausing for a moment to cradle the handset

Between his shoulder and his ear

The phone base swings from left to right

The handset mid-sentence, from right to left

An archaic dance, a vision from childhood

When we were tethered by the cable

To the phone, by the cord

Within which electrons flow

As now they pass right through us

Ten thousand conversations at a time

Binary signals in the ether, invisible fingers

Digital ones, and zeros, drawing pictures

Touching nerves


Inside us


Given on the open mic at:

The New Shit Show, Minneapolis
The Fox Egg Gallery
2016.10.21

Friday, October 21, 2016

Emergence: Section Six, The Empire; Part Forty, Faith, Collected Chapters



Faith; Part Forty,
Chapter One: Indoctrination
Pt. 40, Ch. 01
Born a pleb; he fought the empire. It made him a star. He entered service; as a bureaucrat, and soldier, and priest.
#Emergence

Faith; Part Forty,
Chapter Two: Dogma
Pt. 40, Ch. 02
He made his vow, took holy orders, immersed himself in the priesthood; feelings stirring inside. Truth set him free.
#Emergence

Faith; Part Forty,
Chapter Three: Rites
Pt. 40, Ch. 03
He took the ritual seriously, as he did everything during his career. He knew they were empty, meaningless gestures.
#Emergence

Faith; Part Forty,
Chapter Four: Mystery  
Pt. 40, Ch. 04
He was indoctrinated into the deepest mysteries; of salvation, and eternal life. He learned nothing, they were lies.
#Emergence

Faith; Part Forty,
Chapter Five: Belief
Pt. 40, Ch. 05
He promoted the beliefs of the Empire; articulating the complex narratives that glued the imperial society together.
#Emergence

Faith; Part Forty,
Chapter Six: Orthodoxy   
Pt. 40, Pt. 06
He learned the difference between belief and conviction; what you hold in your heart is not what you speak out loud.
#Emergence

Faith; Part Forty,
Chapter Seven: Unknowing

Pt. 40, Ch. 07
There are no words available to articulate universal truth; every attempt to do so was both manipulative, and false.
#Emergence

Emergence:
Section Six, The Empire
Faith; Part Forty
Collected Chapters
Section 06, The Empire
Part 40, Faith
Chapters
01 Indoctrination
02 Dogma
03 Rites
04 Mystery
05 Belief
06 Orthodoxy
07 Unkowing
#Emergence
#SuperShortFiction
#365SciFi
@jaybotten

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Man with Lightning in His Eye (Complete)

I watched the rain fall. I watched, and waited while the gutters filled to overflowing, and watched as the water spread into the street. I watched as the rain splashed in the growing pools, splashed off the concrete; pelting cars, soaking through the awnings of the store fronts that lined the street the busy street.

The cops were working their beat; despite the rain, but they were not working for the good people of the city. They were cops on the take, moonlighting for the pimps and hustlers. Their wet rain slickers shimmered under the street lamps, rain drops reflecting the light. The refracted sparkling drops of water shone like tiny stars jumping off their backs and shoulders. Cops on the beat with guns loaded, cops wrapped in plastic, walking past barrels of trash; they giggled at the working girls on the street, girls who, like them, came from bad places, and like them, girls who were not allowed to take a night off.

Rain drummed against the roof of the newsstand where I watched the action on the street, and waited for a story. Rain beat against the cars leaking oil, parked against the curb; oil dripping from their engines into the rivers of water flowing down the gutters; flowing with the rainbow film of a petroleum slick flowing into the street.  The dirty water came up over the curb, pooling on the sidewalk.  The newsstand man had had enough of it, and with my feet now soaked; so had I.

I felt the hard rain falling like a curse.

I struggled with my trench coat as the newsstand closed down, taking away my shelter, and I ran into the drugstore for a bottle of whiskey.

I used the fact that I had made a purchase to justify my lingering. The drugstore had a no loitering policy posted in the entryway; a means of deterring the vagrants, which on most days could easily mean me, but today I had the money for a flask, and buying it gave me the time I needed to wait, and watch the street life a little longer.

The cops kept busy with the working girls; blowing whistles, stirring them out of their hiding places, out of the alcoves, out from under the awnings where they were hoping to catch a break from the rain. This pleased the pimps to no end; having the boys on the beat do their jobs, while they sat snug in their cars. That is what they paid them for. The cash the cops took was not just hush money, those weekly payments were not bribes. The cops were on the payroll. 

Rain could never stop the business on the street; no matter how long, no matter how hard it fell. 

Nice, new, clean cars lined up in front of the hustlers, driven by not-so-nice people purchasing flesh, or buying drugs; hustler handing off wrapped parcels, brown bags, and baggies, through cracked car windows in the rain.  The cops on the beat were not policemen. They were traffic control for a market that never slept.

There was some commotion in one of the taverns across the street. A big man was pushed out of doors of the corner bar; shoved onto the street by a group of men that I could not make out. I could not see them clearly through the falling water. They lingered in the doorway; blocking it from the fat man, if should try to get back in. Or maybe the fellows were just scared. Maybe they had already spent their courage. And were now just huddling together for protection.

I watched their arms and hands shooting out from the darkened doorway; flashing into the world…fists pumped at the air, fingers pointing, bodies pressed close to each other, for safety, out of fear.

The big man smiled wickedly; smiling with that diamond flash that makes you think of a villain in a movie. He rocked back on his feet. He seemed a little unsteady. He stumbled back toward the curb of the street; fell against a cream-colored coupe was parked in front of the bar.

I felt sorry for the bastard, with his fat face smashed into the side panel, his moustache hard-scraped by a piece of jagged metal peeling off the door. I could see that it shaved more than a few hairs off his cheek as a sharp line of blood began dripping down his chin, but then disappeared as suddenly as it came. I thought it was just the rain washing the blood off his face. Though it seemed to wash the wound away as well. 

He was hatless, balding, drunk, but he was not defeated. The crowd of men in the doorway began to thin out. The fat man pushed himself up off the ground and pulled his leather raincoat around his huge frame. He looked in my direction, with the rain splashing off his face. I thought for a moment that he was staring right at me, staring through me, but then I saw the headlights of an oncoming car flash off his glass eye. I knew then that hollow stare which I felt sucking me in, sucking like a vacuum; that it truly was hollow, emanating from the lifeless stone in his socket.

A tall kid in a rubber jerkin came walking out of a bar, his glistening black hair plastered to his face by the rain. He had two things in his hand, the man’s hat; which I could see was an expensive boulder, and his tab, which was unpaid when he was tossed from the bar. 

The beat cops were headed their way.

The fat man looked around. He took the measure of the street, and his mouth twisted into a grin. The dark night became even darker, as if the rain-clouded canopy above the city lights swelled and thickened impossibly past the point of bursting; before releasing the deep stores of water that they were carrying.

The rain that was hammering the city doubled its flow. Lightening flashed, and thunder cracked. Alarm bells peeled, and sirens wailed over the roof tops, jangled and sputtering in their rain-muffled voices.

I watched as the story I was looking for unfolded in front of me. Everybody on the street stopped in their tracks; the working girls, the cops, as another lightning bolt hammered into the tall boy, cutting him down like a slender tree, filling the whole street with hot-white light, licking the fallen boy with tongues of fire, as if he was being kissed by the Holy-Spirit. The thunder cracked louder than dynamite, shaking everything not nailed down, rattling the windows of every store on the block.

The fat man was laughing when the boy hit the pavement. He and he alone was un-cowed by the storm. He reached down swept his boulder from the hands of the fallen boy, with a grace move that belied his size; placing it on his bare head. His great frame shook. He made a gesture to the body of the boy laying in the pooling water on the sidewalk. His lips were moving as if in prayer, or more like he was telling the kid the secret words that would get him past the guardians at the gates of paradise. Then he turned on the balls of his feet and dashed away. He moved faster than any right minded person would imagine his bulk would allow.

I started after him, with the cops behind me.

I ran down the slick pavement of the boulevard. The gargantuan I was chasing moved like a motorman, heedless of the streaming waters.

My lungs were on fire. My heart was pounding like a drum. I had that taste of blood in my mouth that comes when I push myself too hard. The cops were falling behind, but I stayed in the fat man’s wake, even though he continued to put distance between us.

He put on a burst of speed like Kent Herbeck rounding third base and heading for home plate.

I stayed behind him like I was following the North Star.

He turned hard into an alley that was as black as a canyon on a starless night.

I saw him bust through the back door of a tailor’s shop. The dim illumination coming through the transom was the only point of light anywhere in that deep dark place.

He left me standing there; feeling as limp as a ribbon on the wet concrete.
The alley was narrow.  I ducked into an alcove and waited while I watched the cops run past me. I had no idea what I was doing here, why I was chasing this man, other than the fact that I felt something momentous was taking shape.

I kept my eye on the back door to the tailor’s shop as I caught my breath, and the only thing I was thinking about was getting back to the shack I was renting, so I could begin to type this story.

Suddenly, a pair of headlights, turned into the alley.

The car sped up as it passed me, and then it turned into the loading ramp of the building next door to the tailor’s shop. It stopped in front of the garage doors at the top of the ramp. A light came on, and I ducked deeper into the shadows.

The car lights were tilted up toward the garage, and a small square box sitting on the dock next to the back door. The fat man, with his baleful eye came out of tailor’s shop. I watched him go down the alley, up the loading ramp toward the car; arms stretched out in a gesture of greeting, of welcome, and quite possibly of menace.

It suddenly occurred to me that I had seen that car before; downtown, by the park where I was staying. I remember seeing that car, by the dandelion fountain while I sat at my window drinking and smoking, and waiting for what seemed like hours for it to go away, so I could watch the college girls while I got sauced. I watched the car that day because everyone with a hundred yards of it seemed to instinctively avoid it, and if I was not crazy, it also seemed like the brids and the squirrels of the park avoided it too. Those minutes dragged from afternoon to evening, and I think now that it might have been that same man; the fat man with his glass eye, who finally came out of an apartment building, got into the car and drove away.

Maybe that is why I chased him when I saw him running from the bar; because I had recognized him. Even though it was only now, as I watched and waited again, that I put the pieces together in my mind.

Two squad cars came into the alley from opposite ends. I was lingering, still; hiding deep in the shadows with the garbage. It was clear to me that these cops knew what they were doing. These guys were not the paddies chasing us blindly down the street. They approached the loading dock with caution. There were no sirens. The squad cars were quiet, but the cherries were flashing, and the searchlights blaring all down the alley, and out into the street. It was like they were sending a message to anyone who might wander down the corridor…“KEEP OUT!”

The lights drove me back. To keep my cover; I ducked, and bobbed, and wove my way further into my hole, deeper into shadows, out of the driving rain. It was pitch black where I stood, but I still had my eyes on the car, and the fat man.

The squad cars turned off their searchlights. The glowing filaments were like eyes staring at me, bright with that halogen heat, steam rising off the glass as they slowly drove past.

Then, as if the presence of the cops did not matter, or maybe because they were expected; a door opened, and a slim woman wearing a broad-brimmed hat, and a fitted-transparent rain coat, stepped outside. She did not have much of anything else on beneath her sheer slicker, and she had those large brown cow eyes, with which she appeared to drink in her surroundings. She walked right past the fat man; who was looking at her with amazement on her face.

She stood by the driver’s door. The window cracked open, and it was clear she was saying something to the man at the wheel. The fat man was glaring at her with a look of hunger on his face. It seemed that a light sparkled in his stone-eye. As if on cue the rain let loose in another extra heavy burst. With that, the lady looked up, she turned toward the man and together they went into the building by the side door of the loading dock.

There was a silence. Everything was quiet except for the pounding rain, the blood rushing in my ears, and my heart thumping in my chest. I pulled another hit of whiskey from my flask. My hyper active nerves settled into a simmering mania. Enough whisky, and all moods were convertible into a lesser state of the same quality. I needed that conversion if I was going to take another step down this path.

Two cops; one from each squad got out of their cars, stepped into the soaking wet alley, water running in an ever broadening stream, rain dripping like a shower head from the rims of their plastic wrapped hats.

I thought I heard the fat man laughing from inside the building, and then a flash of lightning burned my eyes. The whiskey flask fell from hands, its contents poured out and mixed with the water pooling at my feet.

The thunder roared for what felt like minutes. It shook the street beneath my feet; knocking out the power for blocks. Now there were no lights at all, just the lightening scored into my eyes. I tried to blink it away, but when I closed my lids the hot flash remained; imprinted, fixed.

A thin scream pierced the rolling thunder. It echoed off the tall buildings lining the alley’s narrow corridor, and then it was gone, followed once more by the echoes of laughter, the mad bellow of the fat man.

The lightning and the thunder did a number on my senses. I felt like I was in shock, it felt like my days in the wars. It was not drunkenness, I had not drank enough whisky for that.

More than the thunder, the laughter was ringing in my ears; a repellant, nasty noise. An institutionalized sound; it belonged to a place where the men in white kept order, barred windows, locked the inmates in, strapped them down while sleeping in their narrow beds, just to keep them from hurting themselves. That laughter was insane.

I slipped out of my hideaway as silent as I could be, and I dodged the gaze of the cops in the alley, the driver of the car still parked on the ramp. I made my way up the loading dock.

I was not looking for a knocker on the door. I just reached for the knob, took a hold of it, and went through. Just as I entered I heard gun shots cracking, flashing in a weak imitation of the thunder and lightning of the storm. Then I heard a long harsh sigh, a soft thump, the rapid footsteps of someone coming my way; heading for the exit.

I stood by the side of the door on a narrow run between a steel railing and a brick wall. This track led to the only way in or out of the room. I saw shadowy figures moving deep inside the building. I thought I saw them hovering, on a catwalk that stretched like a footbridge over the empty space of a gully. There were more people here than I had assumed, and I do not know why I had made any assumptions at all.

I was scared. My knees got week. It was as if there were no solid ground beneath my feet. I moved away from the back entrance toward a flight of wooden steps leading up to a mezzanine. I heard footsteps coming my way. I heard the engine starting from the car outside. I was wishing that I was back in my apartment, watching the street life in the park.

I wanted to flee, and yet I needed to stay. There was a story here, and a good one. I straddled the fence between my fears and my desires. I leaned over the railing of the mezzanine. I could hear the rain pounding on the windows. I looked out on the scene unfolding in the garage.  The drama I was witnessing continued, and became more clear, as if someone had drawn the drapes to let the light in.

The pieces came together.

There was lamplight. I stepped back into the shadows.  Someone gave a shout for help. I could not tell who, but I thought it was the fat man; his voice booming like a cannon. Two man came through the door. I could see the cops heading their way.

“She is hurt,” the man said.

It was him; the man with the glass eye. “She shot me in my shoulder.” I could see the tear in his trench coat, but he did not appear to be wounded. 

They went into the back of the warehouse. I climbed the railing to the catwalk, and kicked myself for following them, but this was my window. I was in. I suppressed my fears, and pulled myself into the next room. I was out of my mind; thinking only about two things, the story in front of me, and the long pour of whiskey that was to come soon after.

I reached the room where the three men were standing.  The beautiful woman in her clear-plastic rain coat was lying on the floor; bleeding. I could hear the footsteps of the cops coming in behind me. They came into the room, as one of them drew his gun.

The fat man smiled, and could I swear that I saw a bolt of lightning flash in that black marble of his eye.

“Easy,” he said to the cops. “No need for you to get involved here.” The cops looked at him, and hesitated. “I have immunity. You know what that means, and it comes straight from the top. You two bolt back to your squads.”

The cops did not say a word. They just turned around and left, escorted by the other two men.

What was the catch?  What gave him the power? What kind of power did he have? What did he mean; immunity, straight from the top.

I climbed back along the catwalk to the mezzanine. I pulled myself back over the railing, and planned my exit. I wanted to pull the curtain on this horror show.

There were two people remaining in the building besides me. That is what I thought, two people, but I was not sure. I felt in my gut that there was some other presence in there with us, presence or presences. When I first came through the loading dock, I thought I saw those shadows moving about, but I was not sure. 


One of those people was now dead, or dying; a beautiful woman, and the other, well, I was not even sure that he was human.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Man with Lightning in His Eye (Parts One through Five of Five)

Part One

I watched the rain fall. I watched, and waited while the gutters filled to overflowing, and watched as the water spread into the street. I watched as the rain splashed in the growing pools, splashed off the concrete; pelting cars, soaking through the awnings of the store fronts that lined the street the busy street.

The cops were working their beat; despite the rain, but they were not working for the good people of the city. They were cops on the take, moonlighting for the pimps and hustlers. Their wet rain slickers shimmered under the street lamps, rain drops reflecting the light. The refracted sparkling drops of water shone like tiny stars jumping off their backs and shoulders. Cops on the beat with guns loaded, cops wrapped in plastic, walking past barrels of trash; they giggled at the working girls on the street, girls who, like them, came from bad places, and like them, girls who were not allowed to take a night off.

Rain drummed against the roof of the newsstand where I watched the action on the street, and waited for a story. Rain beat against the cars leaking oil, parked against the curb; oil dripping from their engines into the rivers of water flowing down the gutters; flowing with the rainbow film of a petroleum slick flowing into the street.  The dirty water came up over the curb, pooling on the sidewalk.  The newsstand man had had enough of it, and with my feet now soaked; so had I.

I felt the hard rain falling like a curse.

I struggled with my trench coat as the newsstand closed down, taking away my shelter, and I ran into the drugstore for a bottle of whiskey.

I used the fact that I had made a purchase to justify my lingering. The drugstore had a no loitering policy posted in the entryway; a means of deterring the vagrants, which on most days could easily mean me, but today I had the money for a flask, and buying it gave me the time I needed to wait, and watch the street life a little longer.

The cops kept busy with the working girls; blowing whistles, stirring them out of their hiding places, out of the alcoves, out from under the awnings where they were hoping to catch a break from the rain. This pleased the pimps to no end; having the boys on the beat do their jobs, while they sat snug in their cars. That is what they paid them for. The cash the cops took was not just hush money, those weekly payments were not bribes. The cops were on the payroll. 

Rain could never stop the business on the street; no matter how long, no matter how hard it fell. 

Nice, new, clean cars lined up in front of the hustlers, driven by not-so-nice people purchasing flesh, or buying drugs; hustler handing off wrapped parcels, brown bags, and baggies, through cracked car windows in the rain.  The cops on the beat were not policemen. They were traffic control for a market that never slept.

There was some commotion in one of the taverns across the street. A big man was pushed out of doors of the corner bar; shoved onto the street by a group of men that I could not make out. I could not see them clearly through the falling water. They lingered in the doorway; blocking it from the fat man, if should try to get back in. Or maybe the fellows were just scared. Maybe they had already spent their courage. And were now just huddling together for protection.

I watched their arms and hands shooting out from the darkened doorway; flashing into the world…fists pumped at the air, fingers pointing, bodies pressed close to each other, for safety, out of fear.

The big man smiled wickedly; smiling with that diamond flash that makes you think of a villain in a movie. He rocked back on his feet. He seemed a little unsteady. He stumbled back toward the curb of the street; fell against a cream-colored coupe was parked in front of the bar.

I felt sorry for the bastard, with his fat face smashed into the side panel, his moustache hard-scraped by a piece of jagged metal peeling off the door. I could see that it shaved more than a few hairs off his cheek as a sharp line of blood began dripping down his chin, but then disappeared as suddenly as it came. I thought it was just the rain washing the blood off his face. Though it seemed to wash the wound away as well. 

Part Two

He was hatless, balding, drunk, but he was not defeated. The crowd of men in the doorway began to thin out. The fat man pushed himself up off the ground and pulled his leather raincoat around his huge frame. He looked in my direction, with the rain splashing off his face. I thought for a moment that he was staring right at me, staring through me, but then I saw the headlights of an oncoming car flash off his glass eye. I knew then that hollow stare which I felt sucking me in, sucking like a vacuum; that it truly was hollow, emanating from the lifeless stone in his socket.

A tall kid in a rubber jerkin came walking out of a bar, his glistening black hair plastered to his face by the rain. He had two things in his hand, the man’s hat; which I could see was an expensive boulder, and his tab, which was unpaid when he was tossed from the bar. 

The beat cops were headed their way.

The fat man looked around. He took the measure of the street, and his mouth twisted into a grin. The dark night became even darker, as if the rain-clouded canopy above the city lights swelled and thickened impossibly past the point of bursting; before releasing the deep stores of water that they were carrying.

The rain that was hammering the city doubled its flow. Lightening flashed, and thunder cracked. Alarm bells peeled, and sirens wailed over the roof tops, jangled and sputtering in their rain-muffled voices.

I watched as the story I was looking for unfolded in front of me. Everybody on the street stopped in their tracks; the working girls, the cops, as another lightning bolt hammered into the tall boy, cutting him down like a slender tree, filling the whole street with hot-white light, licking the fallen boy with tongues of fire, as if he was being kissed by the Holy-Spirit. The thunder cracked louder than dynamite, shaking everything not nailed down, rattling the windows of every store on the block.

The fat man was laughing when the boy hit the pavement. He and he alone was un-cowed by the storm. He reached down swept his boulder from the hands of the fallen boy, with a grace move that belied his size; placing it on his bare head. His great frame shook. He made a gesture to the body of the boy laying in the pooling water on the sidewalk. His lips were moving as if in prayer, or more like he was telling the kid the secret words that would get him past the guardians at the gates of paradise. Then he turned on the balls of his feet and dashed away. He moved faster than any right minded person would imagine his bulk would allow.

I started after him, with the cops behind me.

Part Three

I ran down the slick pavement of the boulevard. The gargantuan I was chasing moved like a motorman, heedless of the streaming waters.

My lungs were on fire. My heart was pounding like a drum. I had that taste of blood in my mouth that comes when I push myself too hard. The cops were falling behind, but I stayed in the fat man’s wake, even though he continued to put distance between us.

He put on a burst of speed like Kent Herbeck rounding third base and heading for home plate.

I stayed behind him like I was following the North Star.

He turned hard into an alley that was as black as a canyon on a starless night.

I saw him bust through the back door of a tailor’s shop. The dim illumination coming through the transom was the only point of light anywhere in that deep dark place.

He left me standing there; feeling as limp as a ribbon on the wet concrete.

The alley was narrow.  I ducked into an alcove and waited while I watched the cops run past me. I had no idea what I was doing here, why I was chasing this man, other than the fact that I felt something momentous was taking shape.

I kept my eye on the back door to the tailor’s shop as I caught my breath, and the only thing I was thinking about was getting back to the shack I was renting, so I could begin to type this story.

Suddenly, a pair of headlights, turned into the alley.

The car sped up as it passed me, and then it turned into the loading ramp of the building next door to the tailor’s shop. It stopped in front of the garage doors at the top of the ramp. A light came on, and I ducked deeper into the shadows.

The car lights were tilted up toward the garage, and a small square box sitting on the dock next to the back door. The fat man, with his baleful eye came out of tailor’s shop. I watched him go down the alley, up the loading ramp toward the car; arms stretched out in a gesture of greeting, of welcome, and quite possibly of menace.

It suddenly occurred to me that I had seen that car before; downtown, by the park where I was staying. I remember seeing that car, by the dandelion fountain while I sat at my window drinking and smoking, and waiting for what seemed like hours for it to go away, so I could watch the college girls while I got sauced. I watched the car that day because everyone with a hundred yards of it seemed to instinctively avoid it, and if I was not crazy, it also seemed like the brids and the squirrels of the park avoided it too. Those minutes dragged from afternoon to evening, and I think now that it might have been that same man; the fat man with his glass eye, who finally came out of an apartment building, got into the car and drove away.

Maybe that is why I chased him when I saw him running from the bar; because I had recognized him. Even though it was only now, as I watched and waited again, that I put the pieces together in my mind.

Two squad cars came into the alley from opposite ends. I was lingering, still; hiding deep in the shadows with the garbage. It was clear to me that these cops knew what they were doing. These guys were not the paddies chasing us blindly down the street. They approached the loading dock with caution. There were no sirens. The squad cars were quiet, but the cherries were flashing, and the searchlights blaring all down the alley, and out into the street. It was like they were sending a message to anyone who might wander down the corridor…“KEEP OUT!”

The lights drove me back. To keep my cover; I ducked, and bobbed, and wove my way further into my hole, deeper into shadows, out of the driving rain. It was pitch black where I stood, but I still had my eyes on the car, and the fat man.

The squad cars turned off their searchlights. The glowing filaments were like eyes staring at me, bright with that halogen heat, steam rising off the glass as they slowly drove past.

Then, as if the presence of the cops did not matter, or maybe because they were expected; a door opened, and a slim woman wearing a broad-brimmed hat, and a fitted-transparent rain coat, stepped outside. She did not have much of anything else on beneath her sheer slicker, and she had those large brown cow eyes, with which she appeared to drink in her surroundings. She walked right past the fat man; who was looking at her with amazement on her face.

She stood by the driver’s door. The window cracked open, and it was clear she was saying something to the man at the wheel. The fat man was glaring at her with a look of hunger on his face. It seemed that a light sparkled in his stone-eye. As if on cue the rain let loose in another extra heavy burst. With that, the lady looked up, she turned toward the man and together they went into the building by the side door of the loading dock.

Part Four

There was a silence. Everything was quiet except for the pounding rain, the blood rushing in my ears, and my heart thumping in my chest. I pulled another hit of whiskey from my flask. My hyper active nerves settled into a simmering mania. Enough whisky, and all moods were convertible into a lesser state of the same quality. I needed that conversion if I was going to take another step down this path.

Two cops; one from each squad got out of their cars, stepped into the soaking wet alley, water running in an ever broadening stream, rain dripping like a shower head from the rims of their plastic wrapped hats.

I thought I heard the fat man laughing from inside the building, and then a flash of lightning burned my eyes. The whiskey flask fell from hands, its contents poured out and mixed with the water pooling at my feet.

The thunder roared for what felt like minutes. It shook the street beneath my feet; knocking out the power for blocks. Now there were no lights at all, just the lightening scored into my eyes. I tried to blink it away, but when I closed my lids the hot flash remained; imprinted, fixed.

A thin scream pierced the rolling thunder. It echoed off the tall buildings lining the alley’s narrow corridor, and then it was gone, followed once more by the echoes of laughter, the mad bellow of the fat man.

The lightning and the thunder did a number on my senses. I felt like I was in shock, it felt like my days in the wars. It was not drunkenness, I had not drank enough whisky for that.

More than the thunder, the laughter was ringing in my ears; a repellant, nasty noise. An institutionalized sound; it belonged to a place where the men in white kept order, barred windows, locked the inmates in, strapped them down while sleeping in their narrow beds, just to keep them from hurting themselves. That laughter was insane.

I slipped out of my hideaway as silent as I could be, and I dodged the gaze of the cops in the alley, the driver of the car still parked on the ramp. I made my way up the loading dock.

I was not looking for a knocker on the door. I just reached for the knob, took a hold of it, and went through. Just as I entered I heard gun shots cracking, flashing in a weak imitation of the thunder and lightning of the storm. Then I heard a long harsh sigh, a soft thump, the rapid footsteps of someone coming my way; heading for the exit.

Part Five

I stood by the side of the door on a narrow run between a steel railing and a brick wall. This track led to the only way in or out of the room. I saw shadowy figures moving deep inside the building. I thought I saw them hovering, on a catwalk that stretched like a footbridge over the empty space of a gully. There were more people here than I had assumed, and I do not know why I had made any assumptions at all.

I was scared. My knees got week. It was as if there were no solid ground beneath my feet. I moved away from the back entrance toward a flight of wooden steps leading up to a mezzanine. I heard footsteps coming my way. I heard the engine starting from the car outside. I was wishing that I was back in my apartment, watching the street life in the park.

I wanted to flee, and yet I needed to stay. There was a story here, and a good one. I straddled the fence between my fears and my desires. I leaned over the railing of the mezzanine. I could hear the rain pounding on the windows. I looked out on the scene unfolding in the garage.  The drama I was witnessing continued, and became more clear, as if someone had drawn the drapes to let the light in.

The pieces came together.

There was lamplight. I stepped back into the shadows.  Someone gave a shout for help. I could not tell who, but I thought it was the fat man; his voice booming like a cannon. Two man came through the door. I could see the cops heading their way.

“She is hurt,” the man said.

It was him; the man with the glass eye. “She shot me in my shoulder.” I could see the tear in his trench coat, but he did not appear to be wounded. 

They went into the back of the warehouse. I climbed the railing to the catwalk, and kicked myself for following them, but this was my window. I was in. I suppressed my fears, and pulled myself into the next room. I was out of my mind; thinking only about two things, the story in front of me, and the long pour of whiskey that was to come soon after.

I reached the room where the three men were standing.  The beautiful woman in her clear-plastic rain coat was lying on the floor; bleeding. I could hear the footsteps of the cops coming in behind me. They came into the room, as one of them drew his gun.

The fat man smiled, and could I swear that I saw a bolt of lightning flash in that black marble of his eye.

“Easy,” he said to the cops. “No need for you to get involved here.” The cops looked at him, and hesitated. “I have immunity. You know what that means, and it comes straight from the top. You two bolt back to your squads.”

The cops did not say a word. They just turned around and left, escorted by the other two men.

What was the catch?  What gave him the power? What kind of power did he have? What did he mean; immunity, straight from the top.

I climbed back along the catwalk to the mezzanine. I pulled myself back over the railing, and planned my exit. I wanted to pull the curtain on this horror show.

There were two people remaining in the building besides me. That is what I thought, two people, but I was not sure. I felt in my gut that there was some other presence in there with us, presence or presences. When I first came through the loading dock, I thought I saw those shadows moving about, but I was not sure. 


One of those people was now dead, or dying; a beautiful woman, and the other, well, I was not even sure that he was human.