.... Nah, not the first poem I've ever written, you n00b!
The first poem I ever submitted for publication anywhere was accepted at the e-zine "Every Day Poets".
This is as noted the first time I've ever submitted a poem for publication anywhere. I've had lots of my stuff put in print--mostly journalism like reviews of rock bands and books--and some short humorous pieces, but I never even thought about trying to get any of my poems published until recently.
"Every Day Poets" is a good e-zine and they have another version for flash fiction called "Every Day Fiction". They feature stuff by people who are already published and people who are total raw beginners.
~~~ yours in Chaos, Scarlett
Rok Tots thirty ill moons entire CD on megaupload. I am the bass player (IMO) on this CD. I have been the bass player for the Rok Tots since 1983. (Yep--I'm old! But I would rather be old than dead...)
I never got a chance to post this on the social site "b0ok of match3s":
LEEEEAVE BRITNEY ALOOONNNNEEEE!!!!
But seriously, folks: Even at her most devastated Ms. Spears is still--at least for now--very well off financially and very celebrated. We can jeer at her all we want, I suppose, but does it affect her? Will it teach her not to make a spectacle of herself in the future? (Answer to both: Not in the least.)
And at her most devastated, would Ms. Spears be likely to solicit or accept unsolicited help from everyday slobs like me and you? Again: No.
That reminds me of a funny story: A few years ago I worked for a few months in a data entry place where there were loads of all different kinds of people. You talk about "diversity"--there was not a cultural or ethnic type that was not represented in some way at this place. Everyone had to sit together in a big room toiling away at PCs. We all had to take breaks at the same time.
One of the ladies who usually sat near me had a real problem with female celebrities, especially if they happened to be caucasian, and in particular if they were blonde. Therefore I did have to hear a lot about how this lady wanted to "kill Britney Spears" for flashing her boobage all over MTV where apparently her young teenaged son could see it and become aroused.
On one of my breaks, I started a minor rant about how it offended me for people to think their jealous hatred had any effect on the rich and famous, during the course of which I said something like, "Yeah, she's going to kill old Britney, somebody better call Britney and tell her she's in trouble..."
One of the young guys in the group spun around in his chair and said with a serious look on his face: "No one will kill Britney!"
"Oh?" I said. "Why's that?"
"Because I will DEFEND HER!"
Then another guy at another table raised his voice and agreed: "I will fight to the death for you, Britney!"
Several other guys chimed in.
It was cute.
Er... anyway, without a doubt, if I were to be doing volunteer work in a soup kitchen at some point in the distant future, and happened to recognize Ms. Spears, now emaciated and in rags, with cigarette-stained broken nails, waiting in line for a free meal, it would definitely not make me happy and I definitely would not laugh at her or taunt her. There would be as little point in doing it then as there is in doing it now.
Schadenfreude is for the common types, in my opinion.
yours in Chaos, Scarlett
Now don't you be tellin me that you've had a landspout come up on you like this!!
The story: I was driving around with my dog (Bentley) and my parrot (Charlie Cockatoo) and saw this landspout tearing up a field about 50 yards off. I stopped, and started taking pictures of it. For some strange reason, the spout turned and came right toward my car. I don't know why it did that.
yours in Chaos, Scarlett
(Xerxes Boudreaux, a landlord who has some rather unsavory personal habits, was having a normal day until the streyi Jachin Deszcheine showed up to his house. There's some history between Xerxes and Jachin, and it's clear that Jachin is taking advantage of or blackmailing Xerxes in some way. After Jachin leaves, Xerxes drunkenly decides to turn the tables on this youth who torments him. Xerxes' morbidly obese wife Karlita is at work while this is going on, and not expected home until about midnight.)
Please read my DISCLAIMER at the beginning of part one of this story regarding situations that may make some readers uncomfortable.
It took Xerxes only a short time to find the boy. It was about ten o'clock, and the streets were still busy. Every time the wind shifted he could smell the river. His buzz was wearing off, and he tried to keep his mind off what it was exactly that he was about. He knew he didn't look like a man who belonged outdoors, and every so often a passerby would turn and stare; one lady even giggled. He tried to stay calm and keep his nerve, and to think, act, and glance around like someone out trolling for a prostitute.
Damn that friggin kid. Damn him to hell. I'll show his ass.
The child, about ten years old, a slender pale boy with a tousled mop of blonde curls, wearing cargo shorts and a Slayer tee shirt, sat waiting on a cracked retaining wall outside a run-down apartment complex, idly spinning a battered skateboard on its end. Xerxes, with the instinct of long habit, felt the kid almost before he saw him, and paused in the deep shadow of a hedge, watching.
The boy kept glancing up the street, then dropping his gaze to the sidewalk in a disappointed manner; then after a few seconds he would look up the street again. People passed and the kid didn't look at anyone; after five full minutes of watching, Xerxes did not see him brighten with recognition once.
It's him, said the little voice in his brain. With quiet care, he removed his cell phone from its holster and checked the time. Just a little after ten.
He knew this kid, too—these were after all apartment buildings that he owned and sometimes took a part in managing. He had seen this boy around the neighborhood and had of course learned where he lived; he had an older sister, a tramp, who ran around a lot, and his mother worked two jobs and was almost never at home during the day. The kid was one of those who pretty much did whatever he wanted, and was fairly wary and streetwise, though still with a portion of innocence that made him all the more attractive.
He knew beyond knowing that this was the kid.
Before he put his cell phone back in its holster, he flipped it open and sent a text. He remained in the shadows for another minute or so, until he felt confident that his face and bearing now exuded as much benignity and grandfatherly warmth as he could muster. Then he started forward toward the little boy.
It wasn't easy, but he had not supposed that it would be. The boy was suspicious, and determined not to leave his spot. But the fact that he did recognize his landlord and clearly considered him no threat, combined with Xerxes' practiced spiel, finally served to pry him away from his perch on the wall next to the busy sidewalk. Several times Xerxes repeated the story that he had heard of a gang shooting in the neighborhood, and expressed concern about this youngster being out so late and in such an exposed area. His suggestion that they walk down to the fish shack at the corner to get a Coke was finally accepted, and with many a longing backward look the boy allowed himself to be guided down the block. Xerxes made sure to maintain a distance and not to touch the boy in any way, here where people could see.
Of course, it was so hot inside the fish shack that there was no way they could sit comfortably inside. Xerxes' gentle suggestion was that they go and sit in the park across the street. "You'll be able to see the whole street from there," he said. "But it don't look to me like anybody's showin up." At that moment he heard the church clock chime the half hour. It made the hair stand up on his arms.
"Is yore mama at home tonight, boy?" he asked as they crossed the busy avenue, passing the clothing store and the bus stop, then entering the park with its lush growth of cedars and magnolia, mimosa and crepe myrtle, where there was heavy shade and the sounds from the street were muffled.
His lips busy around the straw on a giant-sized soft drink, his skateboard bumping and scraping the ground as he sauntered along, the child nodded. Then he took his mouth away from the drink and said, "But she busy. She got her a boyfriend over, and she tole me I could stay out until twelve."
"Well, that's good that yore mama trusts you like that." Xerxes didn't waste any grandfatherly looks on the youth here—it was much too dark for the kid to see the expression on his face. "But this is a bad part of town. You want to sit here?"
"Oh, I guess," the kid said distractedly. They could see the wall where he'd been sitting down the block from here, and his eyes remained fixed on that spot. He wasn't even thinking about where he was, who he was with, or anything like. He was a million miles away, this kid.
Xerxes' mind was at present a welter of haste and indecision. The boy's mom was up in their place, wanting privacy, so going there was out.
I could take him to the house, he thought. But how do I…
"Well, looky here!"
Jumping up, his heart ready to burst through his chest, Xerxes saw Jachin Deszcheine emerge from the midst of a planting of forsythia about ten feet down the path. It was as black as the ace of spades in this place, but there was no mistaking who it was.
"Jachin!" the boy cried, and started forward. Without thought, Xerxes' hand shot out and grabbed the tail of the kid's tee shirt.
The boy spun, his eyes wide and white in the dark; his drink fell from his hand and the top flew off as it struck the ground, ice and cola splashing everywhere.
Jachin, cigarette clenched in his teeth, his eyes alight with fey amusement, laughed as he advanced on them. "You up to yore old tricks tonight, I see, Zerk," he observed.
In clanging confusion Xerxes held onto the boy's shirt and simply stood, trying to think of something to say. Anger filled his being. "Get the hell away from here, Jachin!" he rasped.
The boy looked from one to the other, trying to understand.
And so the three of them stood: Jachin Deszcheine and Xerxes Boudreaux staring each other down, Jachin's expression changing by slow degrees from a grin to a snarl, and Xerxes' mouth opening and closing, opening and closing—and the boy in the Slayer tee shirt looking from one to the other in frozen astonishment, his breathing shallow, quick, and loud in the humid dark.
A screeching of tires made Xerxes look toward the street; a taxi was pulling up outside the fish shack. The vehicle groaned audibly on its springs as a passenger of enormous weight got out.
"Karlita! Karlita honey!" Xerxes called in a voice faint with terror. "Over here!"
He saw her casting about in the air, and then she looked straight at them. With remarkable quickness for a person of her size she advanced on them, eyes blazing, her pudgy fingers crooked into claws. Not bothering to take the path, with the smashing sounds of a stampeding water buffalo she cut straight through the bushes toward them.
Sneering words of triumph forming on his lips, Xerxes turned back to face Jachin Deszcheine…
But Jachin was gone.
Xerxes Boudreaux got out of the shower, and toweled and powdered himself with care. In the bedroom his wife was at her praying. She had seen the empty vodka bottle and glass on the dining room table, of course, and though she had said nothing, her distressed look had filled him with shame.
Putting on clean pajama bottoms Xerxes now went hesitantly into the bedroom. Karlita, in her long white nightgown, was in the process of taking her nighttime doses of medication—psych meds, diabetes meds, kidney meds, and God-only-knew-what else. She gave him another look on seeing that he intended to get in bed with her, but again said nothing.
With a tiny sip of water to wash down her pills she composed herself for sleep, pulling the covers up under her armpits. Hesitantly, Xerxes got in next to her. She didn't look at him or say anything. Even more hesitantly, he put one arm over her. After about a minute, she turned her face toward him and smiled, ever so slightly.
"Aint you going to stay up and watch your movies, honey?" she asked in a gentle tone.
"Not tonight, baby," he said. The relief that flooded him made him want to cry again, but he clamped down on that. "I'm just tired."
"Yes, I know what you mean. I'm tired too." She patted his arm that lay across her chest, then reached up and turned out the light.
10 October 2008 – (happy birthday, Braxton!)
This was my entry into the weekly writing contest; the theme to be used was "an unexpected hero".
I have used these characters in other stories, but I did write this story just for the contest. It took me about... hm... maybe three and a half hours to write.
This is not the exact copy that I used for the story--I have fixed a couple of things that I thought were wrong, and added back a few words that I had to delete to stay within the contest rules (had to be 3000 words or less). Also there are italics to denote a person's thoughts, which I couldn't use in my contest entry.
And as always: Though the language is basically free of all swears except for "damn" and "hell" please be advised that the subject matter of this little tale may be disturbing to some.
To make it easier to read, type ctrl-+.
Xerxes Boudreaux could hear his wife, Karlita, going to work. This morning, as on every morning except for Tuesdays and Saturdays over the past ten years, he had paused his movies at exactly eight, lumbered up the creaking basement stairs, made a lunch for Karlita to take to her job, carefully counted out her doses of psych, kidney, diabetes, heart, and God-knew-what-else medications, and then just as carefully placed the pills with his pudgy fingers into the slender plastic pillbox—and then headed back downstairs. Now it was nine-thirty and the floor overhead squealed under his wife's bulk as she made ready to leave the house. Even though his movie was at a particularly good part, he paused it and waited the obligatory few minutes for the basement door to rasp open.
"Xerxes, honey—I'm gone ta work now."
"You have yoreself a good day, baby," he replied. "They's some o' that leftover pizza in yore lunchbox."
"Thank you, Xerxes. I'll be home a little after midnight."
The basement door was left open after this exchange, and Karlita went out to make her deliberate, ponderous way to the bus stop.
Once he had heard the kitchen door click shut behind her, Xerxes un-paused his DVD and rewound a bit. For a couple of minutes he sat watching in placid blankness, scratching his enormous, pale, hairy stomach; then a large and salacious grin split his features. Fumbling at his trouser buttons, he whispered (not too loudly so as to drown out the more subtle sounds of his movie, which he loved):
"That's it, gal… you git it. You GIT it. Git it al-ll dirty now… go on, git it dirty… that's it…"
He woke, back aching a bit, still sprawled on the sagging couch. The DVD, set to loop, continued to play, but it no longer interested him and he switched it off. He had been asleep for quite some time, and saw by the color of the light that crept in around the shade on the west-facing window that it was close to sundown. He was getting hungry.
Then he realized: It was a smell that had awakened him, a foxy, sharp odor laced with cigarette fumes that easily overrode the familiar musty rankness of his basement lair.
A boy was sitting near the top of the stairs. Xerxes was not overly alarmed, as that peculiar smell had already announced Jachin Deszcheine's presence. He wasn't alarmed, though a penetrating dismay now seized him, and with a fierce laugh shook him mercilessly.
As though reading the thoughts that raced through Xerxes' mind Jachin grinned gleefully as he sat, his skinny knees sticking up in front of his chest, puffing on a Marlboro, and Xerxes shuddered faintly to see the boy's eyes aglow in the dim stairwell.
"Didn't mean ta wake ya up whilst you was a'gettin yore beauty sleep, ole boy," Jachin said, sniggering faintly. His voice had apparently just changed, and cracked about every other word. Xerxes remembered with a pang of strange emotion that last summer it had been flutelike, melodic, in spite of the streetwise rasp the boy and all his friends tried to affect.
Jachin unwound himself and stretched in one languorous, unhurried, catlike movement, and jumped lightly from the top of the stairs, landing on the balls of his booted feet with scarcely any sound, a puff of dust rising from the carpet where he landed. He had grown taller, too, since the last time Xerxes had seen him; if he wasn't over six feet now he was pretty damned close to it. Long, thin, extremely pale, with shaggy black hair almost but not quite to his shoulders, a white guinea tee clinging to his bony torso, his lanky legs encased in black Tripps with the requisite thousands of pockets and zippers. Another shudder ran through Xerxes before he could control himself. What was I thinking? he wondered, then: What the sam hill did I EVER think?
He tried to remember a prayer; Karlita was always telling him to pray and go to church, and he had heard her say her prayers before bedtime so many times during their thirty years of marriage, but like the proverbial cop, a prayer never seemed to be around when he really needed one.
"Hee, hee!" the boy giggled, smoke from his Marlboro wreathing his feral features.
Xerxes didn't have to ask why Jachin was there; he knew. His heart sank. Oh, yes: He knew. Mustering as much dignity as he could, and not taking his eyes off Jachin Deszcheine for one hot second, he began to button up, first his pants and then his shirt.
"Where's Nate, Jachin?" he finally asked, striving to keep a normal tone.
Flicking ashes casually on the carpet, the boy shrugged. "Don't know. Off with some gal, I s'pose." Then he grinned again. The tired light from the waning sun now only illuminated the floor immediately beneath the window, and Jachin's face was a sickly blur in the gathering gloom, his cigarette ember a spark of red-orange that reflected as a pinkish glow in his black, slanting eyes.
"I aint got no beer, Jach," Xerxes said, despising the plaintive note in his voice.
"You need to go down to the liquor store, then, I reckon." There was a pause during which they both stared at one another some more. Jachin, his expression suddenly bored and somewhat angry, said, "I know you got you a bottle o' somethin stashed. I'll just drink that while yore goin to the lick." His cigarette was smoked almost all the way down. Not dropping his surly gaze from Xerxes' disconsolate one, he fished in the right hip pocket of his Tripps and brought out a hard pack of Marlboros; extracting one with a spidery white finger, he chained it to the first, took a final drag off the spent cigarette, and flipped the smoldering butt up onto the concrete stairs.
With a sigh, Xerxes Boudreaux went to get the bottle of vodka that he kept under the old couch. He didn't really HAVE to hide anything down here—it had been years since Karlita had actually come into the basement. But (though he couldn't say what made him think of this right at this moment) he was ashamed of his habits—his drinking, his movies, and…
Laboriously kneeling to get the bottle out of the cobwebbed, filthy space, he glanced despairingly up at Jachin, who grinned toothily back.
Much later, and on his way to being good and drunk, Xerxes Boudreaux sat in the dining room of his home with the lights turned off, elbows propped on the heavy carved oak table that was never used, head in hands, crying. Light from the street outside streamed in through the lace curtains, making delicate patterns on the floor; warm humid air and the noise of an urban neighborhood filtered in through the screen.
I always knew, he thought, the misery of knowledge twisting in his chest and causing fresh tears to course down his flabby cheeks, I knew he would be the one. A loud, womanish sob shook him and he let his head drop onto the table.
I always knew he'd be the one that would break me...
After a few minutes, however, with that abrupt shift of purpose peculiar to drunks, he stopped weeping, and sat up straight, his face working. He took a deep breath, and then another. It aint right, he thought. I aint dead yet. That little old pissant boy thinks he's got me in a corner, don't he? His lip curled, and he felt himself smiling.
With hands that only shook a little, Xerxes Boudreaux picked up the bottle. Observing his hand as closely as though it was someone else's, he poured out a drink of vodka into the glass that sat before him, but he didn't drink right away. Setting the bottle down carefully, like it contained a sleeping baby bird, he stood.
Purpose in his stride, now, he went into the upstairs bathroom—which always made it seem to him like he was in someone else's house, it was so clean and dainty—and washed his tear-splotched face, flattened down his sparse hair. From the mirror over the sink a blown old pervert in a flimsy Hawaii shirt and stained chinos gazed woefully at him. His lip curled again, but this time in a snarl.
He went back to the table and downed the drink he'd poured. His sandals were by the front door where he'd left them after returning from his liquor store run. Sliding his feet into them, he opened the door, and stood for a moment with the warm mimosa-scented air bathing his face. Checking his pockets for keys, wallet, and phone, he shut the door behind him with a crisp, definitive click, and headed down the steps onto the sidewalk, out into the night.
(to be continued...)
Separate names with a comma.