Thursday, June 14, 2007

Animal Control

I stepped out onto my porch early this morning, smelling the city air and still faintly tasting last night’s bile even through the mouthwash and aquafresh. That’s as good as it gets, sometimes, after a night of drinking. I had five minutes to shower and three minutes to drive, leaving ten seconds for me to crack empty bottles together and scream that it was time to hit the bricks at the three people still sleeping in my living room floor. They didn’t seem to enjoy being roused by my morning Nazi routine, especially when I had seemed perfectly fine the night before, when I was still wasted with them at the beer hall. But that’s over and the morning after broken glass means it’s time for the sausages to leave my fatherland.

It was excellent timing. Two dogs at the end of my driveway were contorting in what I had not had the chance to do in six weeks. Forty-two days. The sum of all of those hours, and now this display, something to get in my way and mock me, something that could only have been arranged by some pagan god who I’ve somehow offended, it was such a strong symbol of my personal shame. The three assholes laughed as they drove away. One of them, a fat guy with fat arms covered with tattoos of women on motorcycles and pot leafs scattered like dark green spiders in between. Three assholes whose names I’d tell you, but I can’t stand them, so I won’t—even if they are supposed to be my friends.

I was already in pain from my feet up as the day began, and had admirably managed to fight off the urge to pack an extra flask for work, to which I was late like always, So I did what any person in my flat-soled black work shoes would have done: I broke out the garden hose and laughed hysterically as the numb-hipped dogs stumbled for cover, bucking with each bound from the abruptly broken connection and phantom sensations. They yelped as though they had been kicked.

At work, I pulled my emergency flask from my desk, which went well with the one I had brought. At least I hadn’t brought that extra flask. Too much whiskey at the workplace leads to lawsuits and “bar atmosphere”. I have three write ups for this type of suspected behavior and should probably be fired by corporate policy—had I not learned that my boss sleeps with his secretary. Found that out when I was with her in his office bathroom six weeks back, at our office New Years party. She told me that that was were they did it all the time, and she was afraid he’d walk in, since he has the key. She told me she wanted it fast and hot, and kept staring at the door, waiting for it to open and probably not for me to finish quickly. But she got it fast and I had to hope it was hot for her since it was enough for me.

Six weeks have passed and in that time she has spoken to me once, and that was to send me for espresso, saying it would be a long night, putting her glasses on and looking at her work. She wasn’t smiling and nothing indicated that she had done so any time recently. She looked past me at the walls, handed me money from petty cash. She made sure not to touch my hand.
It was going to be another long night for a lot of people.

* * *
Its only later that I remember those fucking dogs. It’s not closing time but I’m finished for the night by a Jager bomb thrown in my face by my ex-girlfriend, a reall nazi, a girl with a war room in her head filled with eveidenc of attrocities disguised as pink diaries. She had the luck of dating Neil Grunderson, university accountant, and the biggest douche of my work friends. She was sitting in his cushy lap, and both were sloppy drunk as bikers on a chapter tour, when he asked me how I managed to let a real winner like her go. His breath was like a kitchen garbage can and he leaned in close with it in a manner that told me to defend myself. What would you have said, in a round table in a round booth, tucked around it like matches and everybody on top of each other, sweating and drunk and yelling out our stories and bullshit before quietly telling our desires to specific listeners by words or covert touches under the table?

I said I'd tell him how to get rid of her, but only if he could describe how I taste.

It was late and raining as it always does on late autumn nights in Detroit. I was at Nemo’s with a small band of students and teacher’s assistants. It’s a desperate haunt that smelled the same with alcohol, pheromones and dried blood, made of brick walls held up solely by the backs of drunken regulars leaning against them, not too far from the university office where I work. My friends had disapeared while I was outside wiping the drink form my eyes, a pat on the back form one of them telling me that the night was over for them, too. It’s usually as safe a place as any place can be, with a million people teaming near by, and many of them looking for anyway they can to feed themselves, or their families or their their habits. But when I leave, I find my number's up, and somebody has a well used honda civic for their very own. The police took their report, both of them smiling at some joke that probably started with jack and coke, and they’d probably be right.

So that’s how I’m walking on a cold raining night down Mack Avenue from the meat markets near Grosse Pointe—icy rain stabbing down, a billboard that asked in strident pink letters if I was a lonely Detroiter seized my eye. Lonely enough to read a billboard in the rain, lonely enough to walk at night through this city that I was a stranger to. The screaming nazi was gone, replaced by the blubbering idealist nazi who can lead to far more trouble than a Gestapo visit screaming but short, curt, German-ish noises, like clearing ones throat and psyche all in one hock from deep in the throat.

The billboard promised to connect me with the perfect woman or man in the city. I wasn't thinking in any specifics at that point—ass being what it is and all. So I scratched down the number on the only thing I had left to rely on lately—my hand.

A rusted, formerly blue car with three girls in it stopped at the light next to me. One of them stuck her head out the window, "hey, sexy meat. You want some real digits or are you really going to call that sign tonight?"The rest laughed at this and at me but she remained there, head out of the car window.I stopped writing and looked up.

She said I could get a ride from them if I was buying. I assumed alcohol and said I'd buy anything they wanted me to buy, and approached the car, the light above changing but no traffic to worry about. The girl's eyes were shadowed by blonde bangs hanging half across her plain, pale complected face. The cold and rain didn't bother her in the least. She asked me to come closer and I did, looking into those shadowed eyes and past her. All I was thinking of was finding the perfect enough woman and this would do it for me.

I smiled, checking out her friend at the driver's wheel through her trim black leather jacket. She also blonde and was the real looker of the bunch, even through the shadowed lights shining in from the street. I was leaning, almost into the open window and closer, smelled air freshener, smoke and candy flavored body spray. Started to ask if they were sure there was enough room for me when she held up a can of mace and pulled the trigger.

Burning venom assaulted my eyes, nose and mouth choking all but one sense with its potency. And before I could make a sound, a spear of laughter pierced through the shock, heart, soul and acidic eye scratching pain that should be impenetrable, but it wasn’t much, compared to being impaled on the side of the road.

The rusted, once blue car sped off, dragging me for a second, but hands and fingernails like talons shoved my face out of the window. I was blinded, stumbling, and clawing at my face, my eyes starting to bleed, something I notice only because of the stickiness on my fingertips was there, telling me I’d live. There was the sensation of having had something important abruptly severed, the sensation of motion, of feelings lost forever on a cold battlefield of my choosing. It was a lonely feeling, no sight, no mobility, no control over anything. It was night all around, the bars letting out cars the drifted past on their way out of a city they say they love but do not live in, much as myself. Soon somebody would stop. Maybe they’ll help, maybe take my wallet or my clothes and shoes. Maybe I’ll just lay here on the wet concrete and wait for the rain to wash everything away, until there is nothing left but raw flesh in the cold.


eric313 said...

I must go. On the heels of finishing this edit, I learn that my grandmother is in a grosse pointe hospital with congestive heart failure. Thank you if you have made it this far, wading through the crap of this twisted and strange morality play.

I mean the story, not life in general, although that works too.

Wish my granny well. She's the only grand parent I have.

Behind Blue Eyes said...

I'm sorry about your grandma. Do you know that when I was reading this and trying to visualize it all, my mind supplied me with images that you would see in the movie The Crow.

Princess Pointful said...

I am so sorry. I will send good vibes out your grandma's way.

I will say that I really enjoy your writing style. Very raw, observational and honest.

eric313 said...

Oh my god! Responses!

First, my sister was mistakenly told by a nurse that Grandma had congestive heart failure. I almost killed innocents trying to drive to the hospital thinking the worst. She did have a heart attack, but she is alive and undergoing treatment and tests to see if she has a blood clot, and to see about a fluid buildup in the lungs that made it look like congestive heart failure. I just found out that last bit a few hours ago. Thank you for your concern for my grandmother's well being.
I was begining to accept that this story was so far gone that nobody even wanted to touch it anonymously. It still needs work, certainly I was unable to pick up the thread again last night after so much. But I did do work on a great little poem, so the emotion wasn't wasted, it was shifted to a new direction.

Behind Blue Eyes-
Awesome that you told me that. I didn't think about that when I wrote it, but that makes sense and I picture that whole feel of reaping what we sew, as well, and now it has a great visual. And granny thanks you!

Princess Pointful-
Thank you for you compliments. I wish this had been polished more--for evryone, really--but you read it through. I had some doubts. Granny thanks you, too.

And I thank you both--for the read,
and the wishes.

Cheri said...

Will you marry me?

eric313 said...




You're so cool, Cheri!

Cheri said...

There are only certain types of writers that draw me on. Ridiculous people like Danielle Steele, pictured on her jacket covers in flowing gowns in overdecorated rooms of gold and pink and white, disgust me, for the matter that she flaunts her cookie-cutter stories of a lonely soul finding its way. V.C. Andrews is another, or should I say, The Estate of Ms. Andrews, pumping out the same book every three or four months, the names and locations being the only differences in plot. (Nothing can compare to the magic that was Flowers in the Attic, a book that forever changed my style of writing.)

It's the writers who put out small works of magnitude that no smut novel can produce in countless printings that win my respect. Something written in a desperate hand that had smoked too many cigarettes has so much more pizazz than a cheap thrill. More life.

You're one of those writers!

And what else can I say other than keep going at it, I look forward to reading your work. To me, there's nothing more flattering than honesty.

eric313 said...

And that is so nice to hear from you--an ecouraging and honest little note that reads so beautifully. I had to take some time to tell you that you are writing well, too. You'll catch up, I remember how good you were in class. You have an eye for stories and an eye for inventiveness in your older posts. Of course your newest post is an excellent story. You'll find the words easier each time, just like you've been

Thank you so much for your sweet words and thoughts, Cheri.

I remember Flowers in the Attic. I never read it, but my mom did like five times. She said she would rather re-read it like that, instead of trying to get through some of the other novels put out by the estate of VC--as you put it so well.

Keep talking, whenever. My email is in my profile so use it if you want to talk or send a story, OK?

eric313 said...

Thank you to everyone who reads this--the story or this comment. You really care and that's fantastic.

singleton said...

Oh so glad to hear your granny's condition is upgraded...I hope she continues to improve....

I followed you onto the streets, under the billboards, and sat down on the littered curb as you walked to the side of the car.....

eric313 said...

..I got into the car, checked the mirror and a vision was granted to me in signals and quiet voice speaking peace. Words winged and splendor ed in jewels wished once more for a grief stricken grand son to emerge stronger from a dark, warm cocoon...
...and to have the strength
to escape and yet know
the web of darkness unfathomable by all who are not
or all who have eyes
or silent prayers