Archive | March, 2010

Subway.

31 Mar

Subway is crowded today.

On my lunch break, I walk into the crowded delicatessen. The line is roughly ten people long. I am roughly ten people strong. That means I have the strength of ten men.

I walk to the end of the line. At the sandwich assembly line, hovering above the sneeze guard, is an older woman–a pallid, bony, gnarled thing. She looks like this.

EUTHANIZE!

Her hair is thin and wiry, a spool of silvery thread resting a waxy skull. She moves back and forth slowly, pointing at the various ingredients she wants on her sandwich.

“Oh god,” I say, nudging the construction worker waiting in line in front of me. “You’d think she was trying to get them to invent a new kind of ham.”

“What?” the man says.

“She’s taking a god damn eternity, is what I mean. It’s ironic.”

“How is that ironic?” A woman in a pantsuit interjects.

“Because eternity’s where she’ll be before long. You’d figure she’d be in more of a rush.”

“That’s terrible,” the woman says.

I shrug my shoulders, reach into my pocket, and take a handful of Xanax that a kid at school sold me. I was told I was buying Tic-Tacs.

I get my sandwich. It’s delicious. Receptors in my brain are being bathed in synthetic happiness. From my seat, I raise one half of my sandwich and, mouth full of chicken-breast-tomato-lettuce-Xanax, I scream “YOU DONE GOOD, SAND BITCH!” I point at the woman who toasted my sub, smile, my right cheek swollen with food, and wink. The whole room goes quiet. “OH! SHIT-CAN! SO GOOD!” I yell. The Xanax has given me an illusion of transparency. I think the woman can easily decipher what I’m saying through my mouthful of food. What I meant to say was “Ooh, one good–sandwich.” Then, “Oh, chicken. So good.” Neither of these comments make sense. I’ll admit that.

“What did he just say?!” the attendant screams, one hand on her hip, the other pointing at me.

The Xanax, now in full effect, makes me completely ignorant of her anger. I just think she’s doing an impression of Martin Lawrence’s wife, Gina, from the show Martin. Gleefully (because I love impressions and black people and when you combine the two I’m in sheer ecstasy), I toss my remaining sandwich into the air. Shredded lettuce rains from the heavens. I clinch my fists tightly and emit a piercing scream of joy, smiling like a mad man. I run out of the restaurant, trip over a piece of trash, hit my head on a parked car and for a moment lose consciousness.

When I come to, there’s a small crowd surrounding me. Before me is the Subway employee I offended, the woman in the pantsuit, the construction worker I stood behind, a middle-aged couple and a smattering of children.

“I just had the most wonderful dream,” I said. “The most wonderful dream.” My voice is distant and full of wonderment. A man just behind my head lifts me up. My back is against his knee. “I had the most amazing sandwich.” I nod my head to them. “Yes. There was chicken on it. The most delicious chicken. And why, you were there, and you were there.” I point at the Subway attendant and the construction worker I had stood behind in line.

“That wasn’t a dream, you little turd,” the attendant says. “That was real. That chicken you wasted was real, that lettuce I’ma have to clean up is real, and the beatin’ I’m about to put on you is real.” I smile, lean forwards and try to kiss her mouth. I fall over before my lips meet their sweet, carnal destination. “Oh well,” I say. “Sleep now.” I go back to sleep on the cool concrete.

Eat fresh, everyone.

Flat Tires.

27 Mar

“Wait, so what does it do?”

My friend Pat and I sit in a booth in the back corner of a local restaurant and bar. The light is being caught by waves of smoke that float aimlessly through the air. we sit across from each other, the middle curve of the c-shaped booth empty.

“It will eventually insure 32 million uninsured Americans,” Pat says. “32 million Americans who previously couldn’t afford medical coverage. Americans like me.” He smiles a toothy grin.

“Americans like me, too. They like me a lot.”

Pat, showing the slightest bit of frustration, begins to speak “I–” then stops. He shakes his head, pulls some of the hair from his face and continues. “It’s the biggest piece of legislation in decades.”

“That’s fantastic,” I say. “How big is it?”

“What do you mean?”

I bring up my hands, holding them roughly eight inches apart. Silence. I move them twelve inches, and then 20 or so inches apart. “Really?” I ask, eyebrows raised. I move my hands as far apart as they will go, my arms fully extended.

Just then, an older gentleman in a blue suede sports coat and jeans steps up to our table. “You guys talkin’ about the health care bill?” His gaze bounce from me then to Pat. I don’t want to talk to this man. I feel like in most cases, strangers who volunteer themselves for political conversations are only doing so because they want to yell at someone.

“Yea,” Pat said. I take a sip of my beer.

“What do you think?” the guy asks. He now stands comfortably, arms crossed. Ah, damn it. We’re about to have a conversation.

“I love it,” says Pat.

“It’s this big,” I say, holding my hands out wide. The man gives me no response. He turns to Pat.

“What do you like about it?”

“It’s cheap medical care. What’s not to like?”

Cheap? Who ever said it was going to be cheap?” the old man asks.

“Oh,” I say. “He just did.” I point to Pat. I smile broadly, proud to be contribute to an academic conversation.

“I suppose he did,” the man said. “But who else said that, I mean. What politician said it was going to be cheap for everybody? You know they’re going to hike up taxes.”

Pat begins to offer a retort, but I almost immediately zone out. I begin to imagine a tiny mountain climber hiking up a mountain made of taxes. Tax hiking.

A wild, government-deducted journey

I snap out of my stupor when I hear Pat’s raised voice.

“You talk about these costs like they’re going to be used to buy guns for terrorists! We’re talking about people–their lives! If we can, as a country, as fellow humans, give them life, give them an escape from pain, why not? You’re acting like the government is going to spend our tax dollars on gold-plated toilet seats.”

“Every man should take care of himself,” the man said. “Personal responsibility.”

The conversation winds down. Both sides eventually realize the futility in trying to change the mind of the other and we part ways. On the drive home, Pat and I see a car stranded on the side of the road. The front driver-side tire is blown to shreds. Pat slows down and I roll my window down. The owner of the car is crouched by the blown tire. He stands as we approach.

“You think you could lend me a hand?” he asks. It’s the man from the bar.

We get out and help him put on his spare. We shake hands with the man and walk back to Pat’s car.

“Thanks for the help,” the man said. “I’d be stuck here without you.”

“Yea, okay,” I say. I hold my hand out for some money. Pat shakes his head and lowers my hand.

“Good thing we didn’t buy into the mantra that ‘every man should take care of himself,’ right?” Pat asks. The man looks down for a second, obviously taken aback by being confronted so directly with his ideology’s most looming flaw.

“I guess you’re right about that one,” he says.

I hold my hand out for some money again. Pat once again lowers my hand. “No,” he says to me. “Good bye, sir.”

We drive away. I begin to quietly bitch about how much money the man owes us.

The End.

Dreams of the Future

24 Mar

I recently applied to the grad school at the University of Texas at San Antonio. UNT told me that, while we had a really good time through those four years, it’s ready to move on–to see other students. I said yea, it’s cool; whatever. I walked away smiling–cool, calm, collected. I then hid behind a tree and wept for roughly fifteen minutes.

UTSA seemed like a good idea. It was in a cool city and the school itself wasn’t so huge as to be intimidating or force me to ride a bike. Bikes make me look like a giant, mentally-deficient child.

I applied to the school recently, and decided to take a trip to San Antonio to see the city, meet the deans, some of the administration, and some of the students that will hopefully be my peers soon.

San Antonio is a beautiful city. Celebrations of past glories weave seamlessly with hopeful promises of the new and the yet to come. Also woven in are homeless gentlemen speaking Spanish. I walk the downtown area wide-eyed, smiling widely. There are a lot of brown people here.

“There are a lot of brown people here,” I say to an older white male in a business suit. His tie is hideous. It’s at this moment that I remember that men aren’t the only people in the world–that women are people too! “There must be brown women in this town! My favorites!” I shriek. I begin to look around excitedly. There are sweet, sweet cinnamon girls all around me. I try to hug all of them at once, stretching my arms out wide, but it’s too much. I pass out and fall limply to the concrete.

I wake up without opening my eyes. I hear a faint beeping. There’s a sharp, throbbing pain emanating from the back of my skull. The air is cold. My arms, the only part of my body left exposed, are covered in goose bumps.

“Horrific,” I say quietly, my eyes now open.

“What? What’s wrong?” I hear a nurse ask.

“Goose bumps.” I am holding my arms at the level of my eyes. “Goose bumps scare me,” I tell her.

Flashbacks.

“They’ll go away–the goose bumps,” the nurse says. “Just put your arms under the sheet.”

“Thanks,” I say.

After a moment, a doctor comes in and sums up my accident. He tells me I’ve suffered a mild concussion. I tell him he’s concussed a mild suffer. He tells me it may be more than mild after all. I tell him that I have all the nurses in my mouth and that I’ll bite down on them if he doesn’t let me out. He tells me he can only let me out if a guardian signs me out, but that he seriously thinks I need more medical attention. That’s when Stephen “Dea ex machina” King comes in, signs my release papers, then leaves.

“Thanks, dad,” I say.

“Stop putting me in your blogs. I’m going to sue you,” he says from the hallway. He then pokes his head back in. “And I’m not your dad. I’m a stranger. Stranger.” Stephen King raises his hands like claws and opens his eyes wide, trying to scare an anesthesiologist in the hall way. She backs away nervously. Stephen pumps his fist, whispers “Still got it,” and walks away.

Stephen arranges for a shuttle to take me from the hospital to the UTSA English Department main office. I get there, look up at the building, put my hands on my hips and nod in approval. It’s a lovely, brick and glass building that seems to have been constructed somewhere within the last ten years. Its stonework seems to have no pattern at all–a kind of controlled chaos. Except you can’t ever control chaos, I think. I’ll show them what chaos really is. I begin to spin around wildly. I run to a group of students and knock all their books out of their hands. A young man on a skateboard tries to get around me on the sidewalk. I hurl my body into the air and crash into him. His skateboard is launched towards an oncoming vehicle. The vehicle tries to avoid the board and slams into a car parked on the side of the road. Apparently, the passenger in the car wasn’t wearing a seat belt and came, amongst the sound of shattering glass and scattered screaming, hurtling through the windshield.

“Uh oh,” I say, a nervous grimace stretching across my face. All over the English building’s lawn, people are picking up papers and books–nursing wounds. I exhale. “This is getting a little heavy.” I put my hands in my pockets, nod affably at the skateboarder, who still sits on the ground holding his shoulder, and begin to walk away. After two or three steps I hear someone call at me, and I break out into a sprint. Hearing the approach of police sirens, I end up hiding in a drainage ditch for a few hours.

Once the air is still, I get up and begin to walk to the nearest bus station. The left side of my body is covered in mud and the chill of the evening air is almost unbearable. I’m a little concerned that, being half covered in dirt and whatever else the city of San Antonio’s sewage system thought to throw on me, I would be a spectacle on the bus–unwelcome–but when I get up the stairs and see the rest of the passengers, I seem to fit in just fine. The cabin of the bus smells like the inside of a poop donut if you could sit inside a poop donut and then poop a lot and spill some cream cheese and leave it to settle for a while. You also wonder if the owner of the poop donut owns a cat because it smells a little like that too.

Soon enough, I reach the Alamo. By now, it’s sundown. The stars at night are big and bright.

There’s a gate in front of the Alamo, and a security guard.

“I’d like to see the Alamo, please,” I say. I look like an Animorph who’s halfway between his transformation between man and cow-pattie.

“Sorry, sir. Alamo’s closed.”

“Yea, so are my fists,” I respond. I raise both fists to show how tightly clinched they are.

He stares blankly at me. A child can be heard laughing in the distance. A gust of wind causes me to shudder a bit.

“Sir, are you threatening me?” the security guard asks.

“Maybe,” I say huskily. “Whattaya gonna do about it?” I raise my eyebrows and tilt my head slightly, challenging him.

He jumps at me, feigning an attack. I jump back and fall down.

“All right, all right,” I say, dusting myself off. “I’m going home. Sorry. Sorry.”

I didn’t see the Alamo that night, but I’ll get there eventually. I’m going to need to know how much rent is there, too.

Happy St. Patty’s Day

17 Mar

Let’s walk down memory lane while we get trashed. Click here to bounce back to my St. Patty’s Day post from a year ago, explaining all of its history and magic.

Grad School

16 Mar

Okay, confession time. I didn’t make it into grad school at the University of North Texas. Am I bitter? Oh, bitch you bet I am (Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I called you a bitch. That was for my other readers. Like that cunt, grandma.).

I understand that like most graduate programs, the English graduate program at UNT is extremely competitive. There are a lot of people competing for not a lot of spots. I’m never one to complain about things like this; I tend to think blaming the program as unfair or short-sighted would only make me look juvenile and petty. I would, however, like to know the specific reasons I wasn’t accepted. So, I went to the Toulouse Graduate School at the UNT to talk to them about it. (The tense shift in that sentence may be one reason I didn’t get accepted. My refusal to edit it is probably another.)

It’s a cool, sunny day in Denton, Texas. There isn’t a single cloud in the sky, fallen leaves are dancing along the ground, hipsters are walking their beards gaily down the sidewalk.

I approach the English building. It’s an old stone and brick building, three or four stories high. You can tell it’s one of the older buildings at UNT because it still retains some of the architecture from the early 1900’s. You can also tell because it really enjoys watching Matlock and thinks Betty White is hot.

A squirrel bounces in and out of my path. Flecks of sun splash out before me. (I just used the word “flecks.” That’s one reason I should have been accepted.)

I reach the entrance, pass through the double doors and find the office. I open the glass door and approach the secretary, who sits behind a large, black desk with built in partitions that are roughly the height of my collarbone. I lean on this, my chin resting on my fists.

“Hey there,” I say to the secretary. Her back is to me. She turns around to reveal a perfectly mediocre face and body. My violently sexual fantasies about this woman evaporate almost immediately.

“Hello, sir, how may I help you today?” She asks.

“Well, you can direct me to Dr. Woundwort’s office. I need to speak with him immediately. My name is Robert Kyle Irion.”

“Of course. One moment”

She lifts the phone and enters Woundwort’s extension. “Dr. Woundwort, I have someone here to see you. Robert Irion?” Talking on the other end. “He’ll see you now. 401 B. Upstairs, make your first right and it’s at the end of the hall. Just walk right in.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

Soon, I’m in front of Woundwort’s door. Let’s do this, I think. I turn the knob and enter. The room is a bit cooler than the hallway. It’s lit adequately by natural light from the open window. Tree branches full of green and brown leaves wave in the spring breeze, casting shadows on the wall behind me. Probably on me too, because that’s how light works.

Dr. Woundwort is a large man with silver hair and a large, chiseled nose that fits in well with his stout jawline.

“Hell, Dr. Woundwort,” I say. (I meant to type “Hello.” I won’t edit it, though. I won’t ever edit it.) [Editor’s Note: Edit that.] [Kyle’s Note: Okay.] “Hello, Dr. Woundwort,” I say.

“Hello, Robert. What can I do for you today?”

“I want to discuss my rejection from the graduate school here.”

“All right,” he says. “Let me get your application out.” He turns in his swivel chair to a file cabinet at his back. He opens one of the lower drawers and I swear I hear wailing coming from its depths. He draws out my application, shuts the drawer, and the wailing ceases. “Okay, let’s see here.” He looks over a series of documents. I notice the red report cover I put my fiction sample in. “Well, let’s see. We have a grading system for the fiction samples and personal statements…” He looks over a few documents then speaks. “On your fiction sample you got…out of 300…sucks. Sucks out of 300. And on the personal statement, it seems the secretary for the panel just drew a sad face.”

“What? What does that mean?” He tosses me my fiction sample. The first three pages have been removed. “Why are there pages missing?”

“Oh,” Woundwort says, glancing over his desk at the sample, “Dr. Hurnden, a member of the graduate council, used those pages to blow his nose.”

“Oh…” I say, “He needed three pages to do that?”

“No. Dr. Masterson used two of the pages to clean up some cat vomit.”

My shoulders slump and my head hangs low. I have no words.

“If it makes you feel any better, Dr. Masterson said it was quite absorbent.”

Barely lifting my head, I mumble “Yea, yea…I uh, I appreciate that. I do.” I look up to Woundwort. He’s sitting at his desk, his chair leaned back.

“While you’re here,you might as well take this as well.” He leans forward and hands me another familiar piece of paper–the personal statement: a 500-word essay I was asked to write describing my reasons for wanting to continue studying literature and writing. Under the final line of the essay, the words “Yea, I’m so sure” had been written in red ink.

“Jesus,” I whisper to myself, totally defeated.

“Is that all, Mr. Irion?” Woundwort asks. His elbows now rest on his desk, hands clasped together. He’s smiling in a way that makes me want to hit him in the face with a hammer.

“Yes, that’s all,” I say, getting to my feet. “I think…”

“Yes?”

“I think I’m glad I didn’t go to school here. You’re kind of a prick. Oh, and one more thing.” I reach to one of the walls, and remove a certificate for “Outstanding Achievement in the Study of Literature.” I inhale deeply and blow my nose into it. “That’s better,” I say, and toss the crumpled wad back into the office before turning to leave.

The End.

Derek and I Talk–Figuratively

15 Mar

This is a real facebook conversation me and my friend Derek had today.

Derek

i don’t want to go to work.

Kyle

3?

Derek

TWO O’CLOCK

1:49pmKyle

Oh god.

Derek

these are my last minutes

my last minutes alive.

Kyle

DEREK!

DEREK I LOVE YOU!

I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU!

DO NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THAT DARK NIGHT!

Derek

eh

Kyle

oh.

Derek

yeah.

Kyle

so you don’t have anything to say to me?

before you die?

Derek

it’s a figure of speech, kyle.

Kyle

oh.

Derek

i am figuratively dying.

Kyle

OH!

thank god

i don’t get figures.

Derek

no, you don’t.

Kyle

*Cuts off wiener

*Eats it

is that figurative?

are figuratives lies?

Derek

no.

Kyle

you lied, though. you’re not really dying.

Derek

daddy’s tired, kyle.

Kyle

you’re my dad?

Derek

i am in the figurative sense.

i have to go now.

goodbye.

PLUG PLUG PLUG

14 Mar

Pat Strickland has a new fiction blog. Go check it out. His first piece is really spectacular. Worth the time to read.

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