If you have just arrived at The Library in Purgatory, the first chapter is here.

"I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me."

~Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chapter II.6

Recovered Journal Fragments of Briarios Anfortas, Pt II

Disney Land is for the Dead

The four of us sat there on the porch that night. It was the last weekend in August and the sun fell flaming desperately red into the plains as Amy passed around the joint. We were listening to Led Zeppelin for no good reason and the low murmur of voices and the “chink” of pool balls bouncing off each other drifted outside on the hot, humid breeze. A fan whirred steadily in the window and off in the distance a dog barked as kids yelled.

“So what are your plans for the semester Sandor?” Amy asked with a smile.

Sandor finished inhaling and paused, passing the joint to Janice. Slowly exhaling, he leaned back against the railing and said,

“Well, I’m living with three women— I know, you think I’m a stud…and I’m taking some classes, other than that, I don’t have much planned.

Amy nodded appreciatively and Janice giggled, passing the jay to me. I held it, fat, between my fingers, smelling its pungent fragrance and then raised it to my lips. I thought about Colleen killing herself and Kim killing me.

“What classes are you taking?” Amy replied. She looked hilariously sinister in her cat-eye glasses and I took another hit since she wasn’t paying attention.

“Uhm…interpersonal communication, Latin, creative writing, and economics…again.”

My head was starting to hum, I could feel it, the murmuring inside was starting to throb with the fan, and I could feel what Sandor was thinking, “Colleen killed herself for no good reason. Kim killed you because she could.”

I grimaced, thinking to Sandor, “Lighten up.” Amy took the joint from my outstretched hand and puffed on it experimentally. Janice still hadn’t said anything and just smiled at the street.

“…and what are you doing this semester?” Sandor asked Amy.

“Goddamn,” I thought, “how does he manage to sound so sincere and interested? Must be the weed.” Amy’s voice drifted into the background as I imagined I was a fish swimming in the Dead Sea trying to find my way to Disney Land. Every time I tried to get in, Colleen dressed as Mickey Mouse would stop me and say,

Disney Land is only for the Dead. Disney Land is only for the End.”

I was out of my element, flopping about and gasping for breath when Janice poked me in the arm and held out the roach with her other hand, smiling knowingly. Instantly, I felt saved, warm, and smiled back.

Tim walked out as I passed the roach on to Amy, white wooded screen door slamming shut behind him.

“How’s it going kids, everyone feeling OK?” He looked at Sandor and said, “You’re stoned.” Everybody laughed. Tim sat down beside me, back against the wall and Sandor nodded. “Good, good, good,” Tim said.

“Would you like some?” Amy asked, holding out the roach.

“No thanks. I think I’ve had enough Old Crow to last me a while.”

Sandor started talking to Amy and Janice about bisexuals and Tim said aside to me,”

“How ya doing?”

“Strange but okay, like a shower on a long, lazy summer night.”

Tim nodded.

“It’s good, like this moment will last forever, like we can sit here reading each other’s thoughts and the sun will never make to the horizon.”

Tim nodded again.

“I’ve been thinking about Kim though,” I added unconsciously.


“Yeah. I dreamed about her the other night. I was in Monument Valley, up on a plateau, nothing around for hundreds of miles except for red desert and more plateaus. I had my one iron with me and was trying to drive onto this one plateau that looked like a cathedral, but every time a ball landed, Kim would pick it up and throw it off. I woke up pissed and frustrated.”

Tim smiled, adjusting his Social Distortion hat, “It’s been that kind of summer hasn’t it?”

The fan whirred as Amy lit another joint. The dog had stopped barking as the first stars came out, a twinkling blue against an inky blackness. The disc changed and Jim Morrison started singing The End. Tim closed his eyes, Amy leaned back, sighing, Sandor played with the sole of his shoe, Janice quietly rocked back and forth, and I smiled; my head was humming and it was good.

Indian Summer

I remember standing in Kim’s bathroom,
looking west, out this little round window.
Cooler days
Blue skies;
so blue it’d make you
want to cry—
and puffy, white, snow-cone clouds
stretching to the horizon.
I just wanted to stand there
and look forever.
It did something to my soul
made it all queasy inside
like I wanted to die
because it was too much for one person.
And, if I did die
I’d be free
to fly around with the clouds
and be the blue sky until I cried.
It’s the way fall makes me feel,
or the Psychedelic Furs—
just rows and rows of clouds
and all the sky you could ever want
all in one little round window.


Driving South on 131
going to work.
Trees stand naked
against the gray-clouded sky
shivering in the snow-flurried air.
The streets of Kalamazoo
are empty,
yellow dotted lines
leading no one nowhere.
It is Thanksgiving
and I am as empty
as the streets,
as barren
as the trees,
as cold
as the snow,
as lonely
as a cemetery,
vacant as an empty lot;
no one
with nowhere to go.
The radio babbles fuzzily- incoherent,
someone else’s voice

haunting me
as snowflakes throw themselves
against the windshield
in a frenzy of white.
I wish I were in Chicago
with my family.
Thanksgiving is a lonely time
to spend alone.
But my family
really isn’t a family,
at least not in the traditional sense.
And so I’m sitting at the airport
watching the clock;
someone else’s voice
haunting my head
on this long, lonely
Thanksgiving evening.

When Home Came Christmas

I pulled into the Indian Head subdivision around nine, the stars were crystal clear. How long had it been since I was here last, six months, eight? Something like that. Somehow it seemed longer.

Christmas lights were everywhere; trees, shrubs, houses, windows, eves, and doors; greens, blues, whites, and oranges. It all seemed so commercialized, I half expected to see Snoopy and his doghouse with an aluminum Christmas tree in front. I felt like throwing up.

I pulled in front of Kirah’s place, at least half a dozen cars were already there; Joe, Tammy, Anita, Kevin, Bob, Jason, and I forget the rest. I wonder if Kirah will be mad at me after this summer. I don’t think so or she wouldn’t have invited me. But still, I haven’t seen her since June when I rather unexpectedly threw everything I owned into my car, the Anarchy-Mobile, and left for Arizona, running at top speed west from the demons let loose in my head, or maybe it was really towards them.

Can I explain any of it, make her understand; do I really want to explain, and for that matter, do I even understand it myself? I turn off the car, the engine dies and the one working headlight winks out; I’m left in silence. I sit for a moment staring at the speedometer,

“What the hell…,” I mutter and climb out the window.

Ringing the doorbell, I turn around and look at the Anarchy-Mobile, blue and beaten, my best friend. I like to have my back to the door and then turn around when it opens. It makes me feel…I don’t know…like I have better things to be doing. Maybe I am a pompous ass after all.

The door opens and light and music flood out like water over a damn. I turn around with an uninterested smile on my face and almost choke.

“Anfortas!” Before I can pull back her arms are wrapped around me as she pulls me close and kisses me on the cheek. She steps back just as quickly and silently looks me over, pushing aside a strand of brown hair, green eyes sparkling. Looking very serious I think she’s angry and is going to hit me but then she breaks into a smile and says,

“You’re looking pretty good, especially for someone who took off for parts unknown and never came back.” I wince inwardly and try to smile.

“Jesus Lori, this is a surprise indeed, I think. I thought you were still in Colorado. I had no idea; Kirah never mentioned…uh, you’re looking pretty good yourself.”

“Thanks,” she takes my hand and pulls, “C’mon silly, everyone’s already here.” The door slams shut behind me.

Jesus, my mind is whirling a thousand miles per hour. Lori DD., the Lori D. Why? Why now? She’s dumber than nine chickens for christ-sake, at least nine and maybe ten.

Kirah’s happy to see me and gives me a hug, chiding me for not calling earlier. I mumble some poor excuse, even for me, and everything’s okay. Kirah’s good that way, somehow we’ve managed to be good friends and not get mucked up in each others lives; which is probably why she can put up with me.

Kirah disappears for another beer and I wander around saying hi to people I haven’t seen in at least a year and really don’t care if I ever see them again. Maybe that sounds cold but there are some people you really care about and those you don’t. It’s not that you hate them; it’s just that you don’t care.

Tammy, Joe, Anita, and Kevin are playing pool downstairs. I wonder if Joe and Tammy are dating again, it looks like it; Joe must have cleaned up his act.

I wander back upstairs and look for Kirah; there’s some stuff I’ve written that I’d like her to read. Sometimes it’s easier to explain with a pen than with your mouth and I have a lot of explaining to do. Not even so much to Kirah as to myself. So much…so much about this last year I still don’t understand.

I find Kirah in the kitchen with Lori, making margaritas. I fake a drunken stagger over to the counter and Kirah smiles. If this had been the old days I’d have shown up with a half-empty fifth of something and a Slurpee. Everybody else always drank beer, I never did, couldn’t stand the stuff. Tonight I just stopped at some tavern and threw back three gin and tonics; now I’m wishing I’d had a couple more. The blender stops whirring and Kirah offers Lori and I a cup.

“To us…,” she holds up her cup and so do Lori and I, the plastic cups making a clunking sound as we toast.

“To us…”

“What’s up?” a standard Kirah line. Somehow she always manages to sound cheerful, up beat, and sincere when she says it; makes me jealous.

“Not a whole lot,” I decide not to beat around the bush, “I brought a couple of things I’d like you to read though, if you don’t mind.” My eye catches hers and I decide that she has picked up on the undertones.

“Great, I’d love to. Can you hang on a sec though; I have to talk to Tammy first.”

“I’d like to read them, if that’s okay,” good god, no, not Lori.

A long time ago, when Lori and I were still friends, still had common ground to stand on, I’d ask her to read the stories I’d write; The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. But now? We were friends then, and now, somehow she has become my antithesis. Oh what the hell, this was some brutally honest writing and if it shocked her it would be worth the laugh.

“Sure. Go ahead, here,” I pulled four typed pages out of my inside pocket and handed them to her, following her to sit in the living room.

I mindlessly watch the muted TV, keeping half an eye on Lori, watching her expressions. The margarita is going to my head, helping along the gin and tonics; I lean back and closed my eyes.

“Let’s go for a ride.” I look up, trying to read Lori’s expression. It is either carefully guarded or she doesn’t understand the deeper meaning hidden behind the words. I guess the latter.

“Okay,” I follow her as she gets her brown leather jacked and step out to her Honda.

She doesn’t say anything and I decide not to be the one to break the silence. Instead, I rummage around, looking at her tapes till I find something to listen to, Duran Duran Rio. I pop it into the cassette deck and stare out my window, watching the passing Christmas lights. Suddenly it was six years ago and a million miles away and I shiver as the now familiar tingle of panic runs up and down my spine.

“I wanted to get away from there before I said anything about what you wrote,” she paused, “I know that somehow along the way we kinda went our ways. I was a ditz and hated you because you’d never let me forget it. You were dark, a lone wolf and you hated me because I’d never be serious enough for you to talk to. We were kids, I hope you don’t hold it against me, I’ve changed a lot in the last year and a half since you saw me last, I’ve grown up.” She looked at me, eyes pleading. Duran Duran sang,

“…last chance on the stairway…last chance on the stairway…last chance on the stairway…”

Lori looked back at the road.

I didn’t know what to think so I said nothing and stared at the city— Chicago— rising up before us; a colossal man-made hard on, bulging into space, a symbol of man’s lust to conquer and rape anything he could get his hands on.

“You were different from the rest of us, even then. But none of us saw it. You were fighting the demons that we all eventually come into contact with long before any of us even knew that there were demons. You were the only one, you and Chris. You were alike that way.”

“Jesus Lor, I don’t know what to think. This is a big change for you. I’m used to listening to how bad you got it; being on the other side is a little strange. You used to be…”


“Well yeah, you said it though.”

“And you thought it, hell, everyone did. I told you though; I’ve changed, grown up, am growing up. Somewhere along the way I began to see things a little differently. It’s not easy having your whole world and everything you believe in turned on its head.” Her hands clenched the steering wheel and she stared hard at the road. “Why was it that you like me when I hated you and you hated me when I liked you?” she looked at me trying to smile. I felt like an ass for letting her read my writings, for dogging her. I hated her for understanding. My world was no longer exclusively mine. I didn’t know if I could keep her out, didn’t know if I wanted to.

“I don’t know Lor, I think Scott S. had something to do with it. You know what a little weasel he was.” I smiled and she laughed. “It all seems like only yesterday don’t it, and yet those people are all gone and you’re a complete stranger to me. I know you better six years ago than I do now. You’re a ghost, I’m a ghost, from the past, haunting each other’s now…”

The lights from the oncoming traffic lit her face and then painted it back into the shadows, I could still see her eyes though, green, like a cats. I looked back out the window, the reflection of my own eyes staring back at me, haunted. In the back seat Duran Duran sang,

“Are you lonely in your nightmare…let me in…lonely in your nightmare…”

The silence was heavy again and I just wanted to run away. We pulled up to a stoplight and Lori downshifted into neutral. The tingle down my spine turned into a fist. Lori put her hand on my chin and pulled it around, her eyes locking onto mine.

“You’re still out there aren’t you? You haven’t found a way to defeat your demons…and you can’t even remember how to get back.” She understood, understood perfectly. I tore my gaze away. Christmas was only three days away, only three days. “Damn it, I’m here to say I’m sorry for all those years you were out there, here to help, if you’ll let me. What is it you’re so afraid of? The light turned green but we didn’t move.

“Goddamn it Lori, don’t you see? It’s not that easy. Where I’m at, it’s insane, it’ll kill you. I don’t know how I’ve managed to make it this far. All those damn papers were supposed to be was a window, an explanation. I can’t let anyone in here! How can I if I don’t even know if I’ll make it out alive myself?” I punched the dashboard, “Would you fucking go!” Behind us cars were honking and some were starting to go around.

“No I won’t you jack-ass. God you are so self-centered! A fucking window? What kind of bullshit is that? Do you think that your friends are just going to stand around and watch you waste away through a window? Well fuck you! Some of your friends happen to give a shit about what happens to you. And you’re lucky you haven’t managed to drag them all into your insane little nightmare world, because they would come after you, even if they didn’t think they’d make it back themselves. Screw you!”

Lori slammed the car into first and we took off through a red light. I looked up at the ceiling and tried to blink back the tears but it wasn’t working, and to make matter worse, it felt like I had just stuffed my fist down my throat and left it there. The tears wouldn’t go away and I just wanted to curl up in my seat sobbing. I was so tired, so lonely.

Lori pulled off into a gas station, shutting off the engine. She pulled me into her arms and rocked me back and forth.

“It’s okay, it’s okay kiddo. You’ll be alright. You’re a survivor. You’ll make it through this one; I just want you to know that you’re not alone.

Michigan City

Watching the trees sliding by
reflected in the wet asphalt;
can you see the devil,
the devil in my eyes?
The radio crackles warmly
fuzzy in the two speakers
as rain splatters on the windshield.
Shawn and Brandon are asleep
in the back
Tim at the wheel
and it’s 2:45 in California
but that doesn’t matter much.
My wrist hurts
where I slashed it last night
as candles flickered
in the breeze of the warm central air.
I was drunk.
But I feel safe now
in the darkness
in the rain
heading home with my friends.

A Belated Christmas

It seems now that my years in grade school were measured in Christmas’s. Inevitably, each December would roll around and the better half of the month would be spend in intense preparation of that years hand-made Christmas presents for the lucky parents.

In contrast, my years in college have been easy compared to the endless heartbreaking hours spent agonizing over candles made out of Pringles cans and tacky seventies wallpaper, Styrofoam and wrapping ribbon Christmas trees, snowmen made from Hi-C cans and felt, and door wreathes cut out of paper plates and red and green hand tracings. Each year the ranks of the “hand-made-Christmas-ornaments” would swell by one, or two actually, since my kid sister would bring home something equally as ugly as well.

It seems funny to me now, that, almost sixteen years after this tradition had begun and several after the hand-mades had been traded in for more convenient “bought” gifts, the old ones are as faithfully and carefully unwrapped and displayed each Christmas as on the first.

And now I’m in college, three hundred and twenty miles away. Once again Christmas has rolled around and I sit here listening to reggae and watching the wind drift the snow up against the empty and dark apartment on this cold Christmas Eve, waiting for the coals to heat up so I can BBQ. I won’t be going home this year.

A gulf a thousand times wider than any miles has gradually grown between my mother and I, and we both pace our sides, unsure how to bridge the distance. I feel helpless; I have no gift to bring home; no candles or snowmen, no diplomas, no great job, grades, or even a direction in life. It seems all I have are questions where there should be answers, doubts instead of resolve, confusion for understanding, disappointment for pride. And even my stories and poems that have come out of the blood, sweat, dirt, tears, pain and death of the this last year don’t seem enough a gift to bridge the gap, to let me see the baby Jesus; the last wise man turned away at the door in shame.

They’re playing Christmas songs on the radio and the burgers smell delicious as I flip them. The music reminds me of years past and I find myself wiping away a tear with the back of my hand.

“It’s only the smoke,” I tell myself as I put the lid back on the grill and walk inside, spatula clenched in one hand.

The stars are bright through the picture window, cold and sharp in their distance. They remind me of another night in another place and it makes me shiver. I almost didn’t walk away from there, almost left my brains on the wall. And suddenly I feel warm. Maybe I’m not home for Christmas but I’m still here, still alive, and what better gift could be given anyone?

Last Dance in Dumb Town

The door slammed shit behind Nick as he walked out into the courtyard. There was a full moon out and his breath made little clouds over his head as he walked to the end of ‘C’ building and took a right. A lone car slowly drove by, looking for a parking space. Nick kicked on the door of E-102 and waited, hands in his pockets, shoulders scrunched down. He wished the knot in his stomach would go away. The door opened and Brandon stood there with a hockey stick in his hands.

“What’s up?”

“Wanna shoot some pool? I got a couple bucks…”

Brandon looked at the clock on the VCR, eleven thirty, “Sure. Where at?”

“It doesn’t matter, anywhere’s fine.”

“Let me grab my coat.”

It was still cold outside as Brandon scraped the frost off his windshield.

“Did I ever tell you my theory on hallucinogenics?”

Brandon shook his head, “I don’t think so.”

“Well you see, it’s like we only use ten percent of our brains right? So that means there’s ninety percent that we don’t use. And, the percentage we use today is higher then it was say, two hundred years ago, or a hundred years ago, or even fifty. We are learning to use more of our minds, evolving.”


Now, everything that goes on in your brain is either chemical, electrical, or both. Your senses are constantly sending the brain chemical/electrical messages about what’s going on around you, see, but your brain has a threshold limit which has to be crossed before your consciousness pays attention to the information; so if a signal isn’t big enough, your brain doesn’t pay any attention to it. LSD, ‘shrooms, peyote, and marijuana all lower the threshold limit so that more information gets through to you , you’re consciously paying attention to more of your reality. You’ve expanded your consciousness and are using a higher percentage of your brain. And the reason the trip seems so weird is because you have ninety percent of your mind to expand. A hundred years from now there may be only thirty percent to expand due to evolution and technology and the trips will be far less strange because you have a lesser percentage to expand, instead of increasing your consciousness by up to nine hundred percent it might only be an increase of thirty-three percent. The trip of today will be the norm tomorrow.”

Brandon climbed into the car and flipped on the windshield wipers, “Interesting. But they’ll never legalize the stuff.”


“I mean, who has the most to lose if there were a cheaper, better buzz on the market?” He paused as he shifted into reverse, “I can’t see, am I clear?”

“Yeah, you got it.”

“Who’s got the most to lose? The alcohol and tobacco industries. They’ll lobby against it forever, and they got the bucks to do it.”

“Yep, the government has a lot to lose too if people actually started using more of their minds and started thinking a little.”

They drove out of the parking lot onto Lafayette; neither of them speaking, lost in their own worlds. The streetlights rolled over the black Cavalier as they took a right onto West Michigan. The Tavern was crowded for a Wednesday night and they drove through the packed parking lot before heading back out onto the road. At Howard they took a left and headed down towards the underpass to Stadium Dr. Nick thought about the first time he’d been there, Toyota packed to overflowing, his mother and Bud behind him in the Jeep with the rest of his stuff. He’d be leaving soon, in the same Toyota, but by himself. Funny, how no matter what, you always had to leave by yourself. The knot in Nick’s stomach tightened.

Brandon pulled into the parking lot of the Wayside and found a parking space close to the building.

“I hate this place,” Nick said.

“Yeah, but they’ve got okay pool tables.”

“I know.” Nick held the door and they walked inside. Smoke, bar-talk, and Steve Miller rolled over them like a wave as they stepped inside. There was no one at the door checking IDs so thy put wallets back in their pockets and walked downstairs. Nick went to get quarters and Brandon took off his coat and started looking for a straight stick. Nick came back and put a handful of quarters on the edge of the table.

“It doesn’t look like Ruth is here tonight, didn’t see her. You remember her don’t you?”


“Well, it doesn’t matter anyway,” he stood three quarters up in the slot and pushed the whole thing in. The balls rolled down with a small roar and Brandon began racking them.

“How do you rack ‘em” Nick asked, sighting down a cue and then rolling it on the table. “I never picked it up?”

“Well, I alternate them like this; solid, stripe, solid, stripe; and, just my own thing, I don’t put balls the same color together, my own idiosyncrasy.”

Nick put the stick back and selected another, “Which had do you brush your teeth with?”


“Never mind,” he sighted along the new stick and decided to keep it. “Good things their sticks aren’t straight or anything.”

“Yeah, good thing.” Brandon finished racking the balls and carefully removed the rack. “Go ahead and break.”

There were about five groups playing pool and four tables open. Most of the people were pseudo-redneck-metal-head college guys with their big-haired, mall-bitch girlfriends who snapped their gum like trout on amphetamines. A couple were feeding dollar bills into the CD jukebox and bass-heavy Metallica started playing, Wherever I May Roam.

Nick chalked his stick and centered the cue ball to the right, aiming for the spot between the number one ball and the second one in line. “Don’t hit the ball,” he thought to himself, “hit through it.” He pulled his right hand back and snapped it forward. The cue ball hit a little right of where he was aiming and nothing went in but it was a nice break anyway, a solid hit.

The cue ball had come back down the table and Brandon lined up the two-ball which was sitting in front of the far right corner pocket. It was an easy shot, Brandon wouldn’t miss.

Nick leaned back against the wall and watched the game next to him. Four guys were taking turns playing each other and the tall one in the Ren and Stimpy T-shirt leaned over and stretched out over his stick. His movements were slow and deliberate; it looked like he was making love to the table, caressing it with his stick.

“He’s got good style,” Nick thought to himself.

Brandon had knocked the two in but had botched his second shot.

“You’re up man.”

“You know Indians,” Nick said, surveying the table and reaching for the chalk, “when the boys become old enough to be men, the elders send them on a quest; and if they return, having completed the task, they’re accepted back into the tribe as braves, as men.” Nick paused as he lined up the nine-ball and the left side pocket. “But, there are really two kinds of braves: the ones who come back and the ones that don’t.” He missed the angle and the ball bounced wide left. “The ones that don’t come back are the real braves you see, because they figured out the truth, you know. They know that the quest they were sent on is the same quest that their fathers and grandfathers were sent on and that they will likely fail as their fathers and grandfathers did. But they go as far as they can, driven by the knowledge that they MAY be the one to succeed. And when they can go no further, they stop and start their own village, sending their own sons on further than they were able to go themselves. It’s like they’re all standing on each others shoulders, a physical link through time. Ultimately, a brave will complete the quest and all will share in the reward, but until then, there’s two kinds of braves, and the real ones can’t, don’t come home.”

Brandon nodded. He’d knocked two more balls in, the seven and the three, before missing. Nick bent over the table and banked the eleven-ball into the bottom right corner pocket. The stick felt sweaty in his hands. Bohemian Rhapsody started to play on the jukebox and Brandon smile glancing around.

“This is a good song to play at bars. You look around and see which chicks are singing and check them off your list.”

Nick laughed, “Damn straight.” He drew an imaginary line from the cue ball to the ten-ball and the far left corner pocket, cutting the ten in neatly. He left himself without a shot though, so he hit hard into a cluster of stripes, hoping for slop. Nothing went in, but the cue ball ended up between the bottom rail and the fifteen.

“Nice leave.”

“You’re welcome.” Nick leaned back up against the wall, closing his eyes. He felt the knot in his stomach with his mind; part nervousness, part fear, and part excitement. His body had known, known it was true from the first instant he’d thought it. There could be no other way. Still…he opened his eyes and looked around— three girls were setting up to play on the other side of them. One of them, in blue jeans and short black hair smiled at him. Nick smiled back but it didn’t feel very convincing.

“Come on boyo, hurry up and shoot already. She doesn’t like you anyway.”

Nick grimaced and promptly scratched. Sitting down he glanced back over at the girls for a moment.

“You know, this past month I’ve quit writing, more or less.”

“Yeah?” Brandon was moving around the table, sinking balls like a submarine captain.

“Yeah.” Nick stared hard at the lamps hanging over the table. “Yeah, I’ve quit.”

“So why don’t you start again?” Brandon asked as he dropped the eight-ball for the game.

Nick stood up and put three more quarters in the slots and then racked the balls.

“I can’t, I have nothing left to write about. This chapter is over.” He pressed the balls tight and carefully lifted the rack. Brandon broke but nothing went in.

“I don’t follow you,” Brandon said, looking up.

“I was in the Administration building today looking to see if my student aid check from last semester had come in yet, so I could pay my bill and register for new classes. But, they said it hadn’t so I went to Financial Aid because the checks usually go through there first.” Nick watched the thirteen-ball drop in the left side pocked and looked for his next shot. “They said it had come in but there was a hold on it, so I went next door to the Loan Office. They said it had been stopped because I had dropped all my classes before disbursement. All my student aid money is being sent back. Damn!” The cue ball ricocheted off the six and into the eight, knocking it into the far left corner pocket. “I can’t go back to school, they took my money and anyway, I have nothing left to write about, this chapter’s over.” Nick looked up, fishing some more quarters out of his pocket.

“Geez man…I’m sorry,” Brandon said slowly pulling the rack out, “that’s rough.”

“I’m glad though, school wasn’t working out. I mean I dropped all my classes this last semester for god’s sake. My heart just isn’t in it. It’s a relief actually, I can quit pretending now.”

“Yeah, you shouldn’t do anything your heart’s not in.” Brandon broke and scratched. “So what are you going to do?”

“Follow my heart…I don’t know, I’ve been thinking about enlisting. In any case, I’ll be out of this town inside of two months. This chapter’s over. It’s kind of a bummer though, leaving, these last three months have been pretty fantabulous.”

“Yeah, they have been haven’t they?”

“Yeah, but even if I did stay, you and Tim would be out of here in three months anyway, barring some sort of academic meltdown with you guys.” Brandon smiled. Nick dropped the twelve-ball and walked around the table, “It’s pointless to try and stop things from moving on, you only get left behind.” Nick leaned over and banked the fourteen into the right corner pocket, accidentally knocking in a solid as well. “The real braves don’t go home...,” he looked up, “for you and me, it’s last dance in Dumb Town.”

Broken Wing

Broken heart
and broken wings
broken neck
and broken things.
They took your life
they trapped your soul
No longer alive
and yet not dead
you couldn’t escape
the demons in your head
All alone
a warrior mime
no one cared
or had the time
You played the game
to well for your good
so no one saw
or understood
A crack in the mask
you could not find
and nothing leaked out
of your tortured mind
You stumbled through
a desert of death
a desert of lies
chasing the ghost
of the beast inside
The world died
and you didn’t know
didn’t see
the blood in the snow
from your bleeding wrists
and tortured soul
So falling you cried
a broken thing
with broken neck
and broken wing.


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