Child Abuse In Our Backyard

I remember my last December spent in Rye.  Everyday, a thick sheet as white as milk blanketed the high school parking lot.  And everyday, the senior hallway was as bare of students as the trees were of leaves.   The teachers called it senioritis.  We called it a well-deserved year off.  But as much as slacking was the cool thing to do at the time, there was one dreaded but important duty required of us: college applications.

Christmas was a fortnight away and, while Santa and his elves were rushing to finish their latest toys, I spent my days burning random pedestrians with a flamethrower in Grand Theft Auto 3.  In school I practiced my secret agent skills to avoid my stalking guidance counselor, Mr. L.  But one day I failed and he caught me.  As his towering body loomed above me, he reminded me that I had only ten days left to hand in my applications, otherwise I would not go to college, would never get a job, never get married, and would die a piss-poor lonely man.

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There is no truth.  Take a glass, for example.  Lola picks it up sometimes, half full, to drink its water.  Then she picks it up sometimes, half empty, to throw it at me.  It misses because girls can’t throw (that’s why to insult a guy you say he throws like a girl) and it breaks like little promises.

Little promises.  Let’s take a big one, actually.  Like when Lola, naked and tightly held in my arms in our uncomfortable bed, says she loves me.  I love you, and wanna spend the rest of my life with you, she says, constantly.  And I always believe her, because I’m a sucker for compliments and because I’m naive and because I love her also.

So I tell her I love you.  

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Carpe Diem

“So… I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” Sophie said.

“Yeah, see you tomorrow,” I answered.  For a moment, she stood there, hesitant, and her eyes – blue as the sky on a clear summer day – stared at me, pleading like a dog would for a piece of chocolate.  But nothing happened; the moment passed.  She left.

And that was my first missed opportunity to ask Sophie out.  Whenever I was with a girl and there was a possibility of going beyond a simple friendship, I always blacked out.  My mind was like a computer.  The problem was that the program GIRLS was never properly installed, and so when the time came to step up to the plate, as with Sophie, a pop-up flashed in my mind: ERROR!  SYSTEM WILL SHUT DOWN IN 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … and fade to black.  I became as incompetent as the veggies from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

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Tribute to King

All this happened, more or less.  The death, the resurrection.  And I’m not talking about Jesus; we all know that didn’t happen.  No, I’m talking about my black cat Michael Myers.  Everything started on October 24th, 1871 – yes, I’m that old.

I was strolling through the park, my feet squashing the crunchy autumn leaves that blanketed the ground, when my gift – brilliance – hit me yet again.  “It would be swell to have a household cat, wouldn’t it, dear Geraldine?”

“Oh yes, Thomas,” she exclaimed.  “It would be swell indeed.  What a brilliant idea!”

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I put my hand over her flat stomach. It’s warm and moist and makes a gurgly noise. Is it hungry? I start caressing her skin with the tip of a finger, mapping the shape of an expanding circle until there is no more space and then it recedes. I repeat the gesture absent-mindedly, mechanically. The rest of her body mirrors her stomach: immobile and fragile, yet underneath it’s a steaming, boiling kettle. Next to the bed where we lay is the open window, whose gap is so slim that only an ambitious and determined mouse could force its way through — or the current breeze, rare on this humid day but welcomed, that carries along with it, faintly, the distorted tune of Radiohead’s No Surprises. I take a deep breath and devour the ever growing colony of freckles resting on her subtle nose, that small, untraceable and untouchable smelling equipment that lies with an unworried mind between her eyes and her mouth. And even though her eyes are closed, I know that she’s not sleeping, just like I know, wasting my gaze out the window, that the moon hidden by the clouds is still shining bright somewhere in the darkness.

”How did we get to this?”

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The Secret

The man ran for his life, skipping down the stairs ten steps at a time like a kangaroo running for his life and skipping down the stairs ten steps at a time – except I don’t see why that would ever happen.  A bullet skimmed past his head – the man’s, not the kangaroo’s – and buried itself in the wall.  Another man followed right behind him, except that man acted nothing like a kangaroo but more like an Australian tiger out hunting kangaroos.  Now, you must be telling yourself, Thomas is going to write another clichéd action story with the good guy being chased by kangaroos, uh, I mean, the bad guys.  All right, so replace the first man by my brother Will, the bullet with a Siemens SL65 – that’s a cell phone, for all those I-hate-technology people – the second man by my sister Geri, and the kangaroo by, I don’t know, a chimpanzee, and you got a classic weekend afternoon at our house.

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