Taking the Bus through Downtown (MPLS)

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***
We stood and waited. The bus stop was cooled by the New Year’s wind. January in the Midwest, in Minnesota, in Minneapolis, is somewhat of a farce. This comes off as a big joke on the locals. The words “New” and “Year”, together, give hope of something new, but the weather does not change. This cold remains. The sun hangs bright and attentive in the sky, though ice and snow cling below to the ground. Grooves formed from cars and bikes catch and turn those along the path, spinning round. These exist now, but sometime after June they slip away in the drainage holes just below the curbs. These bus stops are not heated…

The bus stop was cold, and the bus was running late –typical, usual, I hate. These occurrences are not mutually exclusive; accordingly, they are a tragedy when taking place at the same time. Looking at feet one notices where one has moved; not very far from where one stopped. Life was like this, now. It was a bit of slush, a bit of cold, and a bit of snow, all to go. We try at making it home. The glass fogged up in the bus shelter. Paper schedules held the time, held the wall, whether in the sticky summer heat or the frozen winter cold. Footprints formed below.

At this time my tooth was in the process of falling out. We stood in South. I required a root canal, which no boat could float through, and I lacked the insurance. A thousand things were going through my mind (cliché). Aroma from Bob’s Java Hut came along the sidewalk, and across the street, behind the stop sign and into open nostrils. What the cold did was sting the insides, what the coffee smell did was cause a nostalgic feeling in the same locale, both of these happenings carried consequence. We stood and watched for the lights of the bus. That dim orange-yellow made butterflies flutter.

When the bus came to our stop we were standing on snow mounds. These hard hills were formed from snowmelt and ice and dirt and chemicals. They held in -10 degree weather as pillars of old which erected government buildings. No remedy could transpire in such drastically low degrees. Though, these structures need to stand the test of time. The mounds were slick, pitted, and asymmetrical, shaded dark for the fodder. It was even with the threshold of the bus door. One could step off the cold onto the wet black rubber floors of the vehicle’s innards. It was easy, it was necessary, and being such a small delight it warmed in many ways.

The seats on the bus would be above freezing, this seemed a benefit. I was only aware of how vile bus seats were after my (very close individual), who drives buses, told me about his experience with the bus seat. I asked him something like, “What is the craziest thing you have seen on a bus?” He answered with something like, “What haven’t I seen… Ha! I’ve seen everything…” I mean the list was unending; he had seen people shit their pants, piss their pants, throw up, drop food, spill drinks, throw both of the latter etc. I mean after the first three I was concerned about riding the bus from that day on. Now before I sit down I always pat the seat with my hand. One can never be too safe. Sure, think that wetness on the seat was someone’s wet boot, or shoe, but the likelihood of it being feces or urine is just as good. Keep your ass warm, and your thoughts on positive. Love that seat heat.

The inside of the bus gave us momentary reprieve from the elements. We passed lights and buildings and bars. The city was lit up. These giants became bigger as we came near downtown. It was a parade sorts’ night, as Nicollet Mall typically is come wintertime. This show of façade seemed glowing, welcoming, and friendly. As one gets within it they realize that everyone around is drunk, cold, looking to leave, superficially excited, or set on something else. It can be strange. When in downtown in the winter months, Minneapolis can appear abandoned. There are no regulars just people completely covered walking fast to get out of the cold. They walk shrouded in bundles, through establishment doors. The barren tundra, the looming skyscrapers, and the wind that blows between them are the only members playing a residency in Downtown… There are even fewer pigeons.

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Every Friday

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If one were to work on the slowest computer in the world, it would be this one. I am certain of it. I have never spent so much of my time spending so much of my time. It has happened today, and last week on the same day. So, I guess I have before, which negates the never.

My Friday is like this almost every week. I wake up, I commute to work, and then I deal with this slow fucking computer. There is no sense in it really. I can’t type a single sentence without a pause… bleep… bleep… fade… pause. This piece took me three hours (years) to complete.

I start to talk to it, through the monitor, to ask it questions. It never answers me back. I say in a low voice, “Do you have to do this to me right now?” and “Really, why the fuck are you doing this to me right now?” The cursor is just as confused as I am. It thinks, is this my job, to sit and wait all day? Now I do nothing! It sits and it waits, while I sit and I wait. I wonder, was dial up a faster option? I wish I was back in 1999. I could then party like it. And at least more of my family members would be alive.

Usually Fridays are fun. Usually. Today it was sort of like that except for the money I was investing into a truck I had recently purchased. You could say it is a money pit, or I am shoveling money into it, and you wouldn’t be lying -maybe. I like my truck though, appropriately dubbed “The THUNDERCLAP”. It gets me around. From place to place I travel now, not just on my bike, but in my truck. How fun is that!? I know… very exciting.

***

Cajoled is my new favorite word. It means something like fucked around with, or played, or tricked. I think, one of those three definitions works, perhaps. It is a real word. –Though I don’t know what a fake word is… It makes me think of westerns (old movies or books) and cowboys and country and Mexicans… It never makes me think of Native Americans, Indigenous People, though, but it should. I’m pretty sure colonists screwed them over the worst, -cajoled them, really. But no one mentions it anymore. The idea is in a name, in a place, rooted in history written by the same people that it glorifies. Those pages, only to be forgotten under dust and years of sunsets, effectively ineffective. That is what I think about the word cajoled.

***

Lost and forgotten, it had many years sat. She said my prose didn’t work on the research paper. That would explain the 65% grade. My poetry did not explain the science. It clouded my ideas. I needed to attend to subject and verb, etc. And whatever else remains of English grammar. She can have it, all those proper things. Not since high school had I stooped so low on the grading scale. I know why though, it’s because things aren’t as clear as they seem. I would rather read Burroughs’ prose than a scientific journal, though that may be where the money is. You think? Sometimes I think too much empirical observation can fog the mind. Too many rules can just add to the boxy structure. So rigid, so orthodox, so formal, and it’s just ink on pulped trees. Black stains on dead plants. It’s what fills our pockets and proves our intelligence; money, degrees. How perfect do you have to be?

That is just how life is sometimes.

… I really don’t know.

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The Selfie Artist

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For many of you this tragedy will hit very close to home… It took place the other day, in the back parking lot of my apartment complex. It was a morning, not substantially different from others, save for one thing. I noticed it outside. It was prolonged activity within a car (that was kind of near my truck, The Thunderclap). These theatrics were taking place in the setting of a red Honda Civic, my interest was piqued. Peering out our living room window, as I do, frequent to examine inconsistencies near, I noticed something strange. I parted the blinds carefully, and behold! There was a girl in her car staring into her phone…

A Side Note: Living in SE (Minneapolis) affords these luxuries. It is mostly quiet, save for some oddities. We have Turtle Car Guy, who drives a car designed to look like a turtle.  I want to design a Rabbit Truck to be its adversary.  When I asked him what had inspired him to do such a thing (create the Turtle Car), he told me he was unemployed and had nothing else to do, so he bought some spray-paint and went at it, logically. It sits in front of his parent’s house next door.  I would also like to point out our former neighbors across the street who would frequently be domestically assaulting one another in the middle of the street, in the middle of the day, on my fucking birthday (once). Sadly they moved away. Fuck, if I don’t get TV I’ll get something from the community, right? One would ogle out the window often with this kind of tasty activity.

While reading American Lit., something like Frederick Douglass (Bailey), whatever name he went by, in between coffee and words, and eggs and toast, I caught a glimpse of this act. Our neighbor, in all her good graces, and intent, was literally in her car, door open, taking selfies. She had all the different shots, canted and shit, probably no filter. -See, this event isn’t all that amazing, what is amazing is the amount of time allotted for such a production. I kept reading and she kept snapping.

I waited for some time, from 10:15 am to about 10:45 am to look outside again, and there she sat, phone in hand, extended. Wow, I mean, wow. She had her phone out, getting the best angles, she was smiling, tilting her head, flipping her hair. This scene was like something directly out of Facebook, or Gilda. It was almost hard to believe the conviction of this self-portrait-ist, selfie master. She was on point, and Pinterest, and tumblr, and instagram…   Probably.  This artist had taken it to another level. I stood there, sipped my coffee, and shut the blinds.

Now it was time to leave, I had just about forgotten this whole situation in the back lot, between the Narrative of the Life of a Slave and The Current’s morning banter, what all. I took a piss, put my coat on, slung my bag, checked everything 50 times because I am OCD, and locked the door (another 50 checks). I was heading out the front because I had brought my bike in the house the night before. I was ready to go; tight bundled. I walked through the security door, fancy, and prepared myself to kick the front door open and in one foul swoop carry myself and my bike to the sidewalk where I depart.

As I kicked open the door and ran down the steps, bike clunking below, I noticed something, there was a girl standing there. Not just any girl though, this girl was familiar -perhaps I had seen her the night before, perhaps not. I stopped, she looked nice, and I figured she was my neighbor, matter of fact she was. Now I understood. She was the neighbor in the car taking selfies, the artist. She must have finished and come to the front of the apartment complex to… I don’t know, wait… Ponder her next artistic creation…

***

Between writing my magnum opus, today, now, I am interrupted to be told that my shoes scuff the floors and I am to not wear them again. I look at the mess I have made… I say, at least you know where I’ve been. My manager does not laugh. Something trivial, again, makes me smile.

***

I am standing there, bike in hand, in front of my apartment building. I must talk to this person. I must know this progressive free-thinking artist. I must! It starts:

Hey, don’t I know you…?

Yeah, I saw you inside last night… I live in apartment number (doesn’t matter)…

Oh yeah, we chatted for a bit when I walked out last night.

Yeap, we did… I’m Mike-

I’m Lana*, I live in apartment (doesn’t matter)…

Cool, so… (Here we talk about where she is from (South), what she does (Student), if she can handle the Minnesota winters (Maybe), life, and finally the best part)…

What are you doing outside?

Well… I locked my keys in my car…

At this moment I knew I needed to leave. I could hardly contain my laughter. I was convulsing, it was visible; this dry heaves kind of laugh stuck in me, but almost bubbling out. I could not help it. I thought to myself, this girl is standing here because she was in her car for a half an hour taking selfies and when she exited, and shut and locked her door, after taking the best shots of course, she left her keys inside of her car, locking herself out of her apartment, only to have the one person in the world who would know of said occurrences come out and meet her face to face while she stands waiting for our landlord to arrive with spare keys. Yes, with a capital Y. It was all too much, I had to shut my phone off.

I coast away, she waits for someone to help her out of this FIRST WORLD PLIGHT SITUATION. I thought of the bigger picture; did I just shit my pants? I wonder how much I let social media control my life- moreover- vanity control my life. There is nothing like a crisp bike ride to school, headphones out, helmet on, autumn leaves on the ground, wind blowing in my face, and thoughts of people taking selfies pre locking themselves out of their lives for the time being.

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How to Save One Hundred Dollars, and Your Dignity.

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Waking up the stiff rusted scarecrow proper. I need oil like the world needs space. Stop touching me it says, take your pipes and machines from out of me. As fall has come in it brought with it achy bones and sore muscles and nose colds, head torn amiss. This severed clever no better.

Rain hits coats (partial waterproof material) and beads, avoiding entry by not seeping through. A constant rise and fall; sound of the alarm clock, hand above falling down, back and neck from bed pulling head falls- sucking down water until we drown. That falls to stomach; cur-plunk!

And they said it was going to be hard, these things which are so easy. Believing and doing concurrently is equal to pressure releasing immediately; one can solve problems independent of organizations, associations, merely with self-motivation and creation. Thinking is the help. Thinking is the help. Bring only good questions out. Solve with resolve. Reliant on you. Positive thoughts overpower doubt.

He said sixty bucks, a while back. I called and it was different, something like $200. Stop by… Whenever. No, no, no, that seems wrong he said. I wouldn’t do it. What do you think it is? They are overcharging you! Really?! Yes… You can do this on your own, at home. I don’t know. You replaced the ignition in your Camaro; you took apart an engine in mid-winter and put it back together so you could make it to work the next day- you are no beginner. I did that with a six-pack next to me (gone when done) in negative ten degree weather. How soon we forget our triumphs.

He was at a restaurant after a christening of my kin, he took my call. Staring blankly in the mirror watching candles flicker, I agreed. Yeah… Plants caught the sun, as it was Sunday. I thought God, I can’t wait. Just one light, one bleep, one thought, and now this. The voice on the phone was invaluable, I needed nothing more. Just give people good advice. Modern progress of sorts.

All you have to do is Google search the video. You can find it. There is an exact video for the exact problem you are now facing. You just have to look.

Have we in America always been drawn to the easy way out, or is that just a new occurrence? I want to get my hands dirty. I want to rely on me.

Think, search, find; problems solved.

That is how you save one hundred dollars, and your dignity.

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Who is Telling the Truth?

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And then there was so much to do. There was the morning to be had, coffee in hand. The sun had to rise, just in time. Rubbing, itching, scratching sleep tainted eyes, and finally, crawling from warm bed. Exist in this pre-dawn autumn day red, this post funeral grog we attend. Beer and meat sit in the fridge for a Midwest effect. Those who sprawl cozy across the couch as a dog runs about. Folger’s hangs the air, as if we have lost our taste for the black stuff, but can’t seem to get enough- in every cup. No longer über trendy Chicky-micky superstar geniuses drenched in cynicism talking.  Windows fogged, so much to do, again. We sit and watch the clock spin, avoiding those who lack the ability for positive conversation. Let words out at whim; language. All artists acknowledged, now stand in line. All saints are polished, hear their rhyme. Drove up town, to drive back down town, and there is only one thing left to do but sit. Keyboard sounding a tale which has never been edited, iterated, or told before; and we bless those we love (sort of). -Believing in God just because, just to. But we do.  Our hash-browns come in packages, our chickens live in oppressive coops, and plastic surrounds our milk, but who is telling the truth?

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A Bottle Removed

“For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.”

- Edgar Allan Poe, “The Black Cat”

A Bottle Removed

Waking up the day after the event, I realize I had lost it all. It mostly wasn’t mine, it was my wife’s, but it did somehow lower my sensibilities, not as much as the booze though. For this corruption was neither so sweet the taste, nor clever the intent; I did what I had to do. I do believe. At this point I made a save at face.

I had been arrested before, for drinking and driving- not dangerous, and other odds and ends- I’d prefer not to mention them, or go into grave detail; however, this one occasion struck me as odd. I had never been brought in for abusing my property, attacking my very own child, while egregiously losing my heritage. I was at a loss. Though my explanation warranted no further investigation from Sherriff John (small time fool); I would plea out and leave, on to the next.

Could this grog stick to my person all day, if not all week, month, year, etc.? The smell of this miscarriage hung on my clothes as bleach specks misplaced. Would it end soon, or would I do myself in with it. I hunt solely for the bottle.

She had a smiling way of going about it, until opportunity had passed. She thought she could fool the lot. She did only me! She had the fucking papers- the pen, the words, the sub-plot, and I sold myself away with numbers and letters- my unimpassioned signature. It was that easy. The fool’s smile, I saw it unknowingly, and gave it all away—the whole $60,000, she had so distastefully earned. Entirely to personage who befriended me for the sole purpose of taking my money, while pitting me against my own kin, this is the point where I lose myself, and act as though others are to blame. Which they are, of course… You see?

My concept of life stems from the reality that I have no reality. I am a lie. The money I spend is not my own, I have no aspirations, and I lack the education to create any change, at all. I think in drops rather than thought. I must run on with this charade autonomously, there is no manual, this is normal; my real. I could therefore otherwise not function proper.

Lines were drawn; I am as a train on tracks, though late and purposeless, running for a fallen bridge: Eselsbrücke. I live in one direction with one shallow mindset. I am signing it all away- though, yesterday that was.

Presently, I stare at the ceiling. It is white, shadowed, and blank, as I am. I wonder if she knows. Does she lie here next to me in dreams or nightmares? That Gone Girl psycho… My phantasmagoria, I live. We no longer sleep together naked, hardly touching; there is no sex except for that business transaction, a symbolic appeal at labels.

Does she wake every night to the sound of distant screams, the dreadful faces I see, with that thing in the shadows? The carpet looks blue, as the outside of the house, when I walk in. The person inside is there, but nowhere to be found. It was behind windows distorted. I have come to screaming again in the grey light of morning, no rest for the wicked. What have I done? That thing once had a name, now has a smell, a shadow, a presence, a feel, and exists nonetheless…

She fooled me, I say. The Dame, she had my grandfather’s lot, will, entitlement, whom I once robbed of light cash to pay for my drug debts some past years earlier, but she has it now! No matter, I am a changed person, now; but 5 minutes difference. I am not the same person I was a week ago, and because I am a lie I hold no accountability for said person. I need not bother with any more detail, you brother, were you true. What you know is what I tell you, and I force those around me, those who claim they “love” me, to discuss only euphemisms, never truth-isms.

This morning feels no different; no better, no worse. I wake, she lies in bed, I go and look at my newly acquired business (one that is now mine, but I had little hand in its assemblage). I wonder, am I as good as I should be? Have I just leeched off of those around me because I lack a clear and realistic purpose? NO! -There is no way!

She brought me in. She sat me down. The Dame, spoke to me in a companion tone, falsely. It was true, someone was set to make a profit- it was not me now, though, I am afraid I know. I have found! I signed it all away against my own wisdom. The Dame and I are no longer copacetic, it turns out she was using me for my name. Mine own kin won’t speak a word to me. I hear naught but the sound of silence, which slowly, and agonizingly, turns to a far off hum never to be muted. I clasp my ears shut in these times! To no avail!

Though my wife paid for my prize I feel the tightening of purse strings coming to my sides, about me. The Dame was not to be here, but for a sick and twisted deal, ever common.

On my wife: I lie and she stays, I lie and she goes. In these words…That is how it works. I wonder if I am lying to myself. I play such a fantastic part!

Although the act is real, the problem is more and more present: That thing still comes around at night,
sometimes during the day- this, frequency. That thing is in the back my head; I know it when my hair stands tall on my nape. There is no shaking it away. Doomed I tell you.

Furthermore, The Dame kept an extra house; she did not love my grandfather, save for his money, his situation; the epistemological symbolic status of “marriage” was titled, but not utilized befittingly. It was a real and important thing in such a Dorf. It happened as such. She spoke of never selling, yet now she sells to me. How did I not see it?

My feet move hastily along the bedroom floor. I miss the dirt, the dust, the black cat now. Who knows me? Does anyone anymore? Do I fit the mold? I tell stories of past times with my grandfather- gaily, the fun we had, though I never really knew him recent before his passing. I chose not to speak a word to him. I did this because of my problem, which of course I deny as well.

The thing, it’s more or less a thought. It suggests right from wrong. I don’t want it there, but it shows up. I don’t want to believe it or consider it idealistic, morally, ethically, yet I sometimes do.

One thing about this thing is it is nearly impossible to trick, deceive, or manipulate. Some have called it conscience. I would not feel it when I wear drink, just a drop I say, but I get carried away, and then I forget, but at this moment, this morning, I long but lack. I have no more urge to conceal this seed planted in my brain, I wait…No more.

Ten minutes later I am in tears. I cannot block this thought, this thing, I need a drink. I must- it is a necessity, though I am not supposed to- by law, but that’s a bylaw: say it with me: bye law. Goodbye. I must avoid this. I must, I can’t. Succumbing to the bottle, I take a long gulp. This pull is like no other. I feel a sudden malaise. I fall to the floor, dizzy, something moves in my stomach. I crawl to the toilet, and open up world. What’s with this bottle removed?

It has never tasted like this before. The thing is stuck in my brain. It asks WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY? My wife asks if I am okay. I am surprised; she has since our wedding been nothing short of estranged. “Are you okay, Nicholas?” I shout back with a guttural “FINE!” I think, get away wench, you deceive ME! I hear her hasten from the door, she must be scared. I can’t stop. I lose my stomach; dry heaves. The pain, the thoughts, the thing, I am stuck in myself. There is no denial anymore. I take another drink to drown them out. I repeat the toilet scene. In my abdomen is a black hole, the universe expands.

I am no longer able to drink. This taste is rank; the chemicals. I have lost my appetite, still (Shakespeare’s: always) I thirst for relief. I want a swill to kill this thing. This conscience; I have never had it before long enough to think on. Now that my throat and stomach burn, wrenching hot heat, I must consume this spirit. I need this thing to fly from inside me. My sallow paunch, trepid, hangs low as my person. I am on the ground, lower than the toilet seat high, au fait. NO! WHY!?!?!

The Dame cashes a check, drives a new vehicle, and lives in my stead, under my grandfather’s name, in solitude accordingly. And I paid for it all. In my deception I was deceived. Conceive that notion! I was confounded and now I must live with it! Goddammit all! I am in tears, crying on the floor in the bathroom, as my wife packs up my bruised child and leaves. I make no chase. I sit in this. The thing has driven me to… It is not my fault.

I see relief. Drano from earlier… Something was clogged… But what is this? There is a difference. What is that smell. It smells of sweet booze, a bottle removed. I wonder, in my wife’s disdain for my drink, had she switched the bottles? Now, a cap removed. Had she hidden my vice in plain sight, under a different pretense?

I knew there was reason for me not to enjoy the intoxicating liquors within the bottle. She had disguised them. She had switched the Drano for booze, in hopes of killing me, and the booze for Drano. I would show her, here and now. -But first a drink.

I pulled from the red bottle as hard as I could. One hand held on the toilet seat, one hand stood tall on the floor, liquids splashing my visage. I balanced. This countenance, and contents, would prove me. The liquor tasted as sweet at the first time. I was suddenly and potently inebriated. I could not get enough. I laughed aloud now, TAKE THAT WIFE! I will show you. I could hardly stand. I crawled towards the door, blurred vision. The thing had left me. I was no longer trapped in thought, what a person could not think… I had seen the fast one pulled on me and pulled the rug from out from und… er… it…. It was a dead tell.

A try at stand did not work. I found myself incapacitated. I hung to the doorknob and wait. Could she be that far gone my wife? I yell, a mumble, no more register. I wait at the door, she will find me, I say to myself, alone. The red and black bottle on the floor near empty, what drops of liquid left were of a thicker spirit than I had become accustom. Perhaps the switching of the booze made my drink stronger. My wife would pay. I wait, coming harder of breath. I wait longer. The thing is gone. I wait… Collapsing I fell into silence waiting for the hangover that would never come.

***

Nothing but a scream was heard minutes after the wife’s return home. Nothing… The neighbors of this small community had heard tales before. Yes, he was a drunk, he had a few. It was considered a convivial practice. Yes, he had done it before; the physical harm. Yes, yes, yes. But they could not believe he had gone so low as to drink what remedies a clogged toilet. This thing, a clog in the brain, perhaps; conscience, was it that strong? Had this deed of selling his soul made him more or less a human, one which must wear his past at present?

No one knew. Everything told had come from one mouth, or another, housewives; one thing. What people knew and what was truth were two things different equivocally.

The police registered the events as disturbing, though they labeled them in a way as to make it less offensive for namesake, for the public. They knew the family, they knew their situation. It was no-thing to record and forget to save face, as was the abuse, as was the drinking. Just push it under the rug.

Sherriff John read the report with haste. “Can we let this one go, again?” He says to the rookie cop. He thought the town paper would have a field-day with it. A local man poisons himself with Drano under the assumption that it was a good idea. John could not understand it. The man sells away his grandfather’s belongings to The Dame, a sworn enemy, and then calls it a day. I don’t understand it. He really threw it all away. John couldn’t comprehend. A fixture of the town buried today. He contemplated… I guess that is how she goes… Dropping the paper down, he put his coffee mug to his lips and smelt the musk of darkness below. That is life…

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