Expect More Of This (Late Night Quick Sketch)

Somewhere stuck between asleep and awake, Maria Postigo laid in bed staring up at her ceiling fan. If she focused hard enough, she could pierce through the darkness of the room, catch sight of one of the fan’s blades, and follow its rotation. But if she lost concentration, even for a second, she would have to begin the process all over again. Not that anything interesting occurred during her lapse of focus. Though one could never know for sure if it was the same blade when they returned. Maria was the type to get caught up in such uncertainties.

She remembered a moment from earlier that day. Nothing remarkably different from the rest of her day, but a moment that she felt drawn back to. It was in the cafeteria at work. She was telling Lauren about how her brother, Anthony, was not going to be coming to Christmas dinner this year. Something about a fight over the phone between their mother and Anthony’s wife; one with screaming and fluctuations between talking in Spanish into English back into Spanish. Hardly an anomaly in their family. 

It was hard to say whether Lauren or Maria held any real interest in the conversation at hand. Maria did not care much about the possible absence of her own brother at the dinner table but thought the gossip might interest Lauren. Lauren did not care much about Maria’s family problems but thought Maria needed someone to comfort her. Regardless, their talking brought each other happiness and did a fantastic job of keep silence at bay. Silence, the kind which filled Maria’s long nights looking up at the fan, that could drive her insane.

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Generic Despotism

Such blissful misgivings

Forgive my transgressions

Their allotted time runs out

The Meek shall inherit the Earth

Fountains of youthful blood will mount

And into our hearts, their limp-wristed mirth

Plague-ridden nightmare of conscious

I stand alone in the street

A victim of thought

Experience left me not cautious

Trapped, never caught

Wistful in my own defeat

Pretention verging on the obnoxious

And into our hearts, their limp-wristed mirth

Fountains of youthful blood will mount

The meek shall inherit the Earth

Their allotted time runs out

Forgive my transgressions

Such blissful misgivings

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This is the first poem I have ever written, please do not judge it too harshly.

 

Again (Late Night Quick Sketch)

Nella’s Home-Brewed Coffee Shoppe, Textiles District. 11:47am.

“Hello, can I have an Americano, please. Yes, can I have that with cinnamon flavoring as well? Thank you so much. Okay, what do you want? Yes, I’m paying for you. Oh, enough stop being a baby. Just an everything bagel? Do you want anything on it? Seriously, nothing? It hardly costs anything you can get butter on it. Okay, fine. An everything bagel with nothing on it and a water with lemon. You never do change, do you? Oh, yes, that will be all. Okay, thank you. You can keep the change.”

The snow is coming down hard outside. The warmth of Nella’s provides a momentary shelter from the harsh world outside. Aromas of coffee and fresh pastries fill the air, but never overwhelmingly so. Decent lighting casts the room in vibrant and smooth colors. The music playing compliments, and never drowns out, the conversations which animate the room. This is a place they once called home.

Akira takes another sip of her coffee. She pensively scans the room, recognizing a few familiar faces and a few young newcomers. She smiles. “I have missed this place so much.”

Warren, violently bouncing his leg up and down, takes a vicious bite into his bagel. He nods in agreement and solemnly looks down into his plate without saying a word.

“Tom, cheer up. You’re going to ruin our time together.” She rests her hand on top of his. “I’ve wanted to see you so much lately.” He turns his hand over and they interlock fingers.

Tom forces a smile. He had missed her as well. His moments with Ms. Kaye were few and far between; each time they met, it was never for very long. There was a time when it bothered him more, but these days he took what he could get.

“My work lately… it is beginning to take over everything.”

“Are you still with Andrew?” For the past five years since his retirement from the EPA, Andrew Chian had been Tom Warren’s associate. He was the one who introduced him to the business.

“Yes, sadly.”

“He has such a good heart.” Stirring gently with her spoon, she looks down at her coffee and reveals a delicate smile. She has such care for everything she touches in life. Her dark brown eyes look up into Warren.

Warren wonders if he regrets coming here. She is beginning to be too much for him. “I’ve seen things… things I cannot comprehend.” He avoids eye contact with her. “There are parts of this world, I would like to unsee.”

Warren squints his eyes, feeling a billowing storm of emotions moving in. He moves his hair back with his hand, “Chian is still so young, his view of the world has been sculpted by the things we’ve seen. And I think it has made him the stronger for it.”

“Things roll off his back, you know? Nothing seems tangible or real to him, at least, that’s the way I see it. Myself, on the other hand… I was not built for this lifestyle.” Akira pulls his hand closer to her.

“I promise you will get through this.”

Waves of exhaustion wash over him, ‘When was the last time I slept?’ 

Akira’s smile is fading. “Vanessa and I, we have been lucky to have made it this far without anything too bad.” An image of a deceased young girl in a coroner’s office taps her mind. She grimaces. “But, we’ve all seen something that never goes away.”

“I really wish you never joined this profession.”

“If I hadn’t, I would never have met you…”

“I know.” Warren lets go of her hand.

Two Possibilities (Late-Night Sketch)

Either she was the most beautiful or most hideous woman I had ever laid my eyes on. My mind wavered back and forth, struggling to make sense of the paradox. The only certainty was she pulled my interest whereas I was not even a blip on her radar.

Perhaps her ignorance of my presence was the catalyst for the attractive/repulsive quality she was giving off in doses. Her eyes passed over mine, confining me to the background. Conversely, her presence demanded she must be seen by all.

A handful of chance encounters would pass before I would ever be lucky, or perhaps unfortunate, enough to see her smile. It fell into place in the most forced way possible. Maybe I was overly confident, (wouldn’t that have been a change of pace back then) but I could have sworn when I first saw her smile, it was when she first noticed me back. Her smile read: “I’m sorry, you must have mistaken me for someone else.” Maybe I had. Double messages of “She is the one!” and “She is the last person you would want to be with,” were flooding my personal inbox. Not to mention the spammed “Just kill yourself” messages that often came in the form of attachments.

She had a defined jawline. A rather masculine and rigid jaw that contradicted any preconception of what was to regarded as feminine. It turned me off in the worst of ways. Yet, her eyes were jaw-dropping, no pun intended. I had never seen any like them. They were almost… inviting? Yet, somewhere in that facial juxtaposition laid the bearer of all my contradictory feelings. Feelings that eviscerated my chest and tearing holes into me.

Soon, none of this would matter. She would mean nothing to me and me nothing to her. Though, back then it meant something. Something real that feels absent these days. But then again, how would one know? Only two possibilities existed as far as I could tell.

The Girl (Late-Night Sketch)

The girl had been seventeen years old, his partner told him. Tom Warren, hunched over his desk, picked up the scrawled note found next to her hanging body:

“Nothing mattered in the end and in the end nothing mattered and nothing mattered in the end and in the end nothing mattered and nothing mattered in the end and in the end nothing mattered and nothing mattered in the end and in the end nothing mattered.”

Things were only making less and less sense as he grew older. He was sure at one point he understood, but that was a long time ago. Why?

Anything More: A Lengthy, Sentimental Piece

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

List of Characters (in order of appearance)

The Now-Sedated Maniac

The Observer, aka The Always Vigilant

The Fool, aka The Poor Fool, aka The Poor Old Fool

The Overlooked, The Unmentioned

The Patriarch

*

New Year’s Eve:

I am sitting on a long couch mixed with longtime friends and Unknowns. The large living room is packed tight with college students looking to get laid. Beer cans and chip crumbs are scattered all over stained carpeting and there is a pile of buffalo wing bones decaying in a corner. The collective smells of booze, ball sweat, and bongs being ripped are enough to drive those with even the strongest of stomachs away from the scene.

The house party is in Hartford, Connecticut and after the long drive I am left questioning whether coming down here was worth it. Another sip of my seltzer and I could not feel more empty. Everyone awaits the new year as I stand at a cliff’s edge, resisting the temptation to jump off and make a fool out of myself. Some things never change.

The music is not ideal either. An agonizing mix of commercial EDM, Drake rip-offs, and occasional Taylor Swift songs cycles endlessly. I can swear the playlist has restarted for the fifth time since I got here, but this matters little when there are loud conversations spazzing out all over each other throughout the room. I reach for the headphones in my pocket but show self-restraint. I would not like to start the new year being anti-social.

Guests are either drunk, high, or both. I am none of the above, at least not yet, and am not too thrilled to be a spectator of their stupidity. I scan the room, desperately searching for someone to connect with. My eyes meet with The Now-Sedated Maniac, who sits bouncing his leg with his girlfriend sprawled on top of him. Their chair continues to lean further and further back with each leg bounce. I am completely sure that at some point the chair is going to give out, but the grin he flashes my way says otherwise. I cannot help but smile back, at least someone is having fun at this party.

Suddenly an Unknown stumbles over in a cheap T-Rex costume (this is all completely true, by the way, and I am sad to say I was never so fortunate as to find out why he chose such an eccentric outfit) and begins speaking in a voice that evoked memories of my Chrysler Pacifica’s engine while on its last limbs. From a few overheard conversations, this guy is the life of these parties. Case in point, The Observer sits next to me hanging on every word that sputters out of this kid’s mouth.

“Oh my f—–g God, how do you guys hang out with [name removed for reasons undisclosed]? That kid is f—–g cancer in its purest form. I mean, Jesus Christtt, I would like to go back in time and push his pregnant mother down a flight of stairs. Seriously, how the f—k do you guys put up with him?”

The Observer lets out a high cackle and I cannot help but join in. [name removed for reasons undisclosed] is not someone I would call my best friend, but the way this kid degrades him to a previously incomprehensible level of human waste is more than admirable. It is becoming clear why this is the one Unknown you would make sure was on the guest list.

“Let me tell you, look me in the eyes, right here. I am telling you the f—–g truth. Are you looking me in the eyes? F—k, I can’t tell. Doesn’t matter anyway. This kid is so f—–g annoying, I heard yesterday he pushed someone through a wall and left a huge gaping hole. I mean, you know me, and I get drunk, but this kid… This kid doesn’t even own up to it. Do you hear what I am saying? This kid…”

Unable to finish his own train of thought, the dinosaur-clothed man stumbles away and whatever blip of excitement there was dies back down instantly. With my only distraction now gone, I cannot help but think that deep down I would rather be alone. It takes all the power within me to contort my “eyes looking down on the floor, depression taking over, I would do anything to not be here right now” look into a “I cannot to wait to hit the sack once this party is over because I am just so tired” look. The Observer, as always, sees through my disguise.

“What is up with you?”

I take a sip of my seltzer water. “Eh, these parties… Don’t they ever seem played out to you?”

“What, are you bored?”

“I guess. Like haven’t we been going to the same party since high school?”

The Observer sips his beer and looks around the party.

“Well, the thing that always got me through these parties was trying to understand people’s motives. Prime example: Have you noticed him over there?”

Across the room stood The Poor Fool, deep into a game of beer pong. The Poor Fool was a large, one-dimensional, but lovable cartoon within my old friend group. My father would often refer to him as Dudley, with no further explanation than one would assume his name had to be Dudley. The Poor Fool was making of a stab at getting with one of the female Unknowns. By no means someone to write home about, but clearly in a different league than The Poor Fool.

So naturally I say, “Yeah, he’s been trying to get with that girl the whole night. Big deal.”

“Exactly. And do you see the pain in his eyes? Notice how he looks down every time she turns away. He has been going after this girl for months, doing just about everything he can to let the girl know he likes her, and you know what the saddest thing is?”

“What?”

“He knows that she knows that he likes her and he knows that she knows that nothing between them will ever happen. And you know this would not be particularly sad if this was an isolated incident, but I watch this happen every time we have a party and it is rough for me to watch. Like can you imagine being him?”

I pause, waiting for my brain to bring together a proper rebuttal. I respond, “Yeah, I get it, he’s sad. But do you see me here with a girl right now?”

“No, you are not getting it. Come closer, we can’t have him hearing this. That’s better. Look, this kid’s life is consumed with rejection. It is like he is watching a car crash happen over and over again. You may see it as pathetic, but I’ll tell you this is tragedy played out if I’ve ever seen it.”

And perhaps The Observer was right. It was easy to sit here and feel a little embarrassed for The Poor Fool, but in reality it held a deeper sadness. The humor of him failing masked a true sorrow that no one ever wanted to see. How The Observer could perceive all these things and still keep an upbeat attitude was beyond my comprehension entirely. However, this did not change the fact that the party was still one-note and superficial. There were no concealed motives other than “I like that person and would like to get with them.”

“There’s no depth though, so he is sad on a deeper level than I realized. He still plays into a game he knows the result to.”

“Is there not something noble in his attempt though?”

“It is still empty.”

“Once he finally gets with that girl, the girl who will finally say yes to the question he’s been asking so many girls since I have known him, once she says yes all will be worth it and I am telling you that will be the most beautiful moment of any college man’s life. It will be a joy that neither you nor I could ever hope to experience and I am rooting for the guy.”

I take another sip of my seltzer, contemplating it all. The Observer shoots me a look noticing I was not fully convinced and in turn searches for something to say.

“Regardless, look, we are at a college party. There is not supposed to be any depth to these situations. Look around you, this is the cesspool of deprivation.”

The Observer was always reliable for a laugh and I felt a little better. Needing to refill my drink I got up when The Patriarch bumped into me.

“We are going to smoke a cigar outside, let’s go.”

**

Connecticut is not warm during late December if that is not already completely obvious. A small group of us huddle around the cigar as if it were a campfire. The cigar possesses an ancient romanticism that feels disconnected from the world around us. It continues to make its rounds as the four of us pass it along.

To my left is The Patriarch, the old Varsity football captain who has now moved onto rugby at college and defies all expectations when one discovers he’s actually playing more into a “type” than anything. At his core, he is a pretty nerdy guy and loves Tolkien with the same amount of passion as he does for ESPN. He has been a rock in my life with his gifted ability to both reassure and minimize conflicts that have always felt colossal from my perspective. He also has never disappointed in terms of depth or intelligence, which led to real crises regarding making assumptions about anyone before getting to know them (a lesson which is regularly forgotten given that the brain loves to categorize). To my right is a chubby Unknown, currently the one smoking the cigar, and his positive disposition implicates an uncanny ability to always keep a smile on his face. I cannot help but wonder if this is a defense mechanism or sheer arrogance regarding the horrors of the world when considering his good standing financially as he attends an expensive school such as Quinnipiac. His light-hearted laughter is contagious enough to put my contemplations to rest. And directly in front of me is another Unknown who leaves me with no impression whatsoever. My mind writes him off as an extra, pushing him way further down the list of credits that will roll after my life finishes its runtime.

Regardless of our differences, we are all members of the “Shouldn’t I Be Having More Fun” generation. A generation defined by luxuries our parents (and most certainly their parents) could never have imagined. A generation also characterized by a dissatisfaction that almost every generation has experienced; the only difference being our qualms were more abstract. Leaving us discontent with the fact that we were discontent. Of the four of us, I suspect that I exemplify this notion the best and begin to fear I am losing myself in an archetype I never consciously chose. To be honest, I am not sure if any of this matters.

The Patriarch passes me the cigar, still lit so I luckily do not have to light it. (I have a knack for burning my thumb when trying to light such objects, past experiences comprise of either asking someone for help or waking up the next morning in pain.) I inhale ridiculously, pulling in way too much cigar smoke for my lungs. One that causes The Patriarch to say, “Dude, that was a ridiculous inhale.” In a joking manner, I balloon my cheeks and desperately turn from side-to-side, acting as if I no longer remember how to breathe. In a manner that encapsulated his disposition towards me perfectly, The Patriarch yells, “You have to exhale!” In a way that summed up our entire friendship, I cough projectile smoke into his face. We both double over in laughter. Some things never change.

I pass the cigar to the Unknown next to me, continuing the rotation, as a quiet sadness washes over me. Despite my disdain for these parties, they were fleeting. Things had been getting repetitive simply because we were getting older. We had all stayed too long at a party that was just about to end and none of us wanted to leave. The notion was not at all new and anyone older than I would probably remark that we are still young and have no reason to be getting overly sentimental. They are probably right, and I cannot wait to be able to look back on this feeling and realize how stupid I was.

We hear the excited screams of people cheering from the living room inside. It is 12:00am and the ball has just dropped, starting off a new year. So as another chapter begins, another chapter ends. The Unknowns remain Unknowns because that is all they will ever be. The names stay the same because, for me, they will never change. These moments are turning to memories as quickly as they happen.

At this old party, filled with angst, a lump in my throat, and happiness, I can say that I loved the moment with all my heart. And despite my despair, whether it was to stay here forever or get as far away from it as possible, I was gladly ready to let this moment pass on into the Jetstream of memories that only grew larger as they flew behind me. At an old party with old friends I could not ask for anything more.

Eternal (Acc. Rejection Infernal) (Work in Progress)

I swim away from the shore. Glancing back, everything seems smaller in the distance. Waves wash over my face, taking me in like family. I swear I see myself on the shore. The waters pull me further. Overhead, clouds move faster, leaving months and years in their wake. With the shore now gone, the waters move from warm to cold to warm to cold to warm to cold to warm to cold to warm.

The same shore approaches on my horizon. The same self awaits my return. Gathering courage, I switch direction. I can hear the depths laughing. Clouds move faster in reverse, time refuses to turn, I continue on ahead. No destination in mind. Not even Pontellier could have dreamed of swimming this far.

These waters are beginning to feel lonely. I would do anything to see a shore, I would do anything to see my old self. The clouds slow in the sky and the waves settle. Everything becoming nothing becoming everything. I grow still.

Slowly, the waters spin and descend. Pulled downward, I reach up for clouds that are no longer there. Flames reach for me below. I stare up into a starless night. The waters release their hold on me. This is it.

I awake on the shore. In the distance, I see someone swimming away. Who are they? I return home, alone, sitting at my desk. I feel as if everything and nothing has changed. It is only a matter of time before…

 

On the beach

Neon pink bikini top with whitish blue striped bottoms. She speaks in an English accent, calling to her mother that she wants to feel the water. Her hips invite those willing as they sway from side to side with each step. Her dirty blonde hair and her posture of confidence leave him longing to stand by her side. He always had been drawn to the “I do not need anyone” type; one of those idiots who preferred to want rather than to have. She feels his gaze and butterflies stir within her. She can only picture what he looks like. She imagines him tall, strong, and fearless. He does not have to imagine, he has never wanted anything so much in his life. She bends over and runs her hand through the waves touching the shore. It is too much for him. A smile that he cannot see forms on her face. She turns and walks back, her face contorting into an ugly squint. As she approaches, he notices her sun-scorched red face. As she approaches, she notices his fat bulging gut. His eyes move down her body, seeing an awful bruise on her knee and an unattractive mole on her arm. His balding head reveals a forty-year-old man and she feels her butterflies turning into nausea. Their visions of each other shatter and are blown into the wind. They both sit outside each other’s view, staring out toward the ocean, imagining something greater.

 

Flight: Experimental Writing

Take-Off

                “Thank you for choosing Jet Blue. We hope you enjoy your flight and please remain seated until the seatbelt light, located overhead, is turned off. We will be arriving at Logan International Airport in two hours and thirty minutes. Enjoy the rest of our flight.”

Mid-Flight

His Seat

Exhausted, he shuts the plane’s plastic window covering, concealing a world that he has had enough of. Sleeping passengers snore while others remain awake by no choice of their own. Anyone with any sense has their headphones in, if only he had remembered his. Stewardesses work their ways up and down the aisle, squeezing between passengers that have the plane at full capacity.

To his right is a leopard-print mess. Leopard-print headrest holds the neck of a woman cloaked in a leopard-print blanket covering a leopard-print sweater. Well, the sweater is maroon but we are trying to preserve an intriguing repetitive structure, here. Her nails are painted an eye-catching neon blue that, for him, is overlooked by her more discerning attribute of brown skin. She is of Barbadian descent (from his perspective she is definitely ethnic, though cannot make out what she is given her quirky British accent, which really throws him off.) and cannot stop using the “Hey Google” command on her phone. She irritates him greatly and he feels his attention pulling elsewhere.

He switches his attention to the screen situated on the back of the seat in front of him, currently showing the latest B-movie to have hit the cultural wasteland. He attempts to switch to the cable channels, but results in a message popping up on the screen that says “The television is out of coverage and the WiFi is down.” This hardly matters, with no headphones he would have had to turn on the subtitles and there is nothing he detests more than reading. An advertisement on the screen appears advertising for snapchat collaboration with JetBlue. The words mean nothing to him as he shoves a piece of gum in his mouth.

An Overheard Conversation

“He was cheating on me and it really sucked, I mean he said it to my face. So it’s not like…”

“I feel you, I came out of my relationship more negative than when I started. I never spended on myself and I only ever spoiled him.”

“I would ask him for something, and it wouldn’t even be a big deal, probably would cost like fifteen dollars and then he would go out and buy something way more expensive than I even asked for. I mean he could be sweet, but that’s not even what I asked for. And he still go outs and has sex with my best friend…”

“From now on I am going to close off everyone. I just want to be by myself until I see something in someone else that I really want.”

“I know, my grades are so bad right now I didn’t even tell my parents how bad I was doing this semester.”

“I feel bad for you and I feel bad for myself. I feel like I wasted my time. So like, also, there’s this guy who has been after me for a while. He’s nice enough. And the other day I was talking to him and he asked me to go to his formal. But like I said, he’s a real sweetheart you know, and I mean he gets good grades and everything, but I was like no I like the bad boys. Like sorry.”

“I can—“

“He’s in a frat and he’s the captain of the school’s rugby team and I mean I am coach for the girl’s rugby team so it’s not like we don’t have anything in common, and I don’t want to sound bad, but like dude it’s a formal…”

“I know…”

“And it’s not like I want to go with anyone else, but that does not change the fact that I don’t want to go with him.”

Three Rows Forward // Two Seats Right

A young kid is deeply fixated on a bald spot of the man’s head in front of him. His inner monologue reads: “If I ever have the misfortune to lose all my hair prematurely, please God, let me have the sense to just shave it all off. Better to wear my age proudly than to comb over in some attempt to cling onto a younger self that is long gone… But Rogaine has shown to be increasingly promising these days. I wonder why this man has not tried such products. Maybe he is a Rogaine-user and would be completely bald otherwise and the one glaring spot happens to be right outside his vision when he looks in the mirror. Is it my social responsibility to inform him of the bald spot? Would it be presumptuous to imagine this is the reason the bald spot remains? Dear God, please do not let me go bald.”

Somewhere Among the Crowd

“As I have been told many times, you cannot lock up the darkness.”

“Have you talked to anyone else about this?”

Two rows forward // One Seat Right

                A middle-aged writer is scribbling on a napkin he received when they were passing out beverages: “Last night I woke up standing in front of the mirror. This is not the first time this has happened. Aside from the blatant symbolism at play here, I have no patience for waking up in such a manner. Waking up to yourself is one of the most horrid sights in this world. You are face-to-face with the impending doom of death and your own mortality stares right into your eyes and burns itself into your soul. The paradox of your mind telling you that you must be dead, that this is an out of body experience, but the thought itself screaming at you that you must be alive. I am still unsure if this carries any real significance to anyone besides myself, but I believe it to be the case nonetheless.

Elsewhere

                “I’ll have a coffee with Splenda and cream and in a separate glass may I please have a cranberry juice.” As if that even needed to be stated, well actually the last guy before asked for an orange juice with diet coke in the same glass. What a world we live in.

His Seat

There is too much noise aboard these flights. He closes his eyes, wanting to be away from it all. However, we never do arrive and even after they make it to the airport, these people never leave. They always follow him and you have to wonder if the problem is them or himself.