Archive | December, 2012

Science Bless Us, Everyone

24 Dec

In the spirit of Christmas, I am regifting to you all this old Christmas play I wrote. May the indifferent universe look kindly upon you this Christmas (even though it can’t look, as it has no eyes and, even if it did have eyes, would less than not care about your troubles and successes). Happy Holidays!

Eat This, Internet.

Grayson (on phone):

Yea, yea. I’ll probably miss the first few minutes of the first quarter. I’m at this Christmas church thing Rose wanted me to go to. What? Wh—Jesus is really important to her. They’re just friends though, nothing serious. I’m kidding. No, I don’t think me being an atheist has anything to do with me being able to date this girl or not. She’s religious, I’m not, no big d— oh, no, I haven’t told her I don’t believe in god. Probably gonna hold off on that one for awhile. Well it’s not like I have anything against it, it just isn’t for me. Hey man, service is about to start. She’s here now. I gotta go. Yea, I’ll get there whenever this is over.

(hangs up)

Rose:

Hey, Grayson. I need to talk to you.

Grayson:

What’s up?

Rose:

Hey, I know this is short notice…

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My Rejects

22 Dec

I like to think of my work as my babies and I an unfit mother; I want to pawn my beloved ones off on the kindest, most gentlest, first person who is willing to take them, so that they have a chance at a better life.

Below are a couple of my most recent rejects. I think they deserve a good home. So, if you’re reading this, and you want to publish them, just let me know. ri0026@gmail.com

This one was submitted to a magazine. It was rejected for not being uplifting enough.

The New Year’s Party at a lull, David decides that something needs to be done. He suggests the game “He’s Perfect But.” The rules are simple: one person asks a group if they would date a hypothetical man (or woman, really) if that person were perfect save for one tremendous, often bizarre defect. David goes first. “Okay girls,” he says. He takes a sip of his beer. “He’s perfect but—no matter how long he showers, he always smells like peanut butter.” Courtney, Jasmine, and Alyssa all vote that yes they would date him. Hailey, who has a peanut allergy, says that she wouldn’t, as long as the smell is somehow rooted in real peanuts, which David claims it is. Everyone agrees that this caveat makes it less fun. David is too embarrassed to change his mind.

“Okay, I have one,” Chad says, drunk. He looks at David’s sister, Amanda. “He’s perfect but—” He scans the room. “His skin is made of dead leaves.” A seemingly bottomless silence falls over the room. David shakes his head. Somebody says the word “asshole,” thereby proving that the silence is much more shallow than previously thought. Amanda says nothing, but nods her head in the affirmative, north/south manner. Gasps. Grins. From the back of the room, a sound arises like tissue paper being wadded up. Jason, a figure silent until now, stands. No one can tell if he is angry or sad or jubilant. He is totally unreadable. No one can figure out where his eyes are. Or his mouth or nose holes. All sit in silence, awaiting his response. Amanda stands, her eyes pleading. As if on wires, the two  leap toward one another and embrace. Amanda starts to kiss Jason, but she can’t find his mouth, so she kisses each inch of his face with identical passion. She starts to speak, but is silenced when Jason raises one leafy hand to her lips. A bug flies out. Wordlessly, the pair walk out of the apartment and into the night and when the winter breeze comes just blow away, away, away.

This piece was rejected for the same reason:

You’re standing there, your hands folded at your crotch. It smells like someone is wearing too much perfume in lieu of taking a shower. Overhead, red and teal bulbs shine in their sockets and onto the body like some stage show caught in stasis.

It’s crowded but quiet, everyone speaking at a whisper or just above that, everyone in tiny circles that seem to drift aimlessly through the room like flotsam. There is a boy there, standing in front of the coffin and you want to pull him away, tell him that things are all right, comfort him as though this is some minor and rare misfortune that he has no reason to concern himself with. You put your hands in your pockets and examine the scuff marks on your shoes.

Earlier this year, I was working with a member of the KERA staff on a podcast for young, aspiring writers in North Texas. We had met several times, gone through round after round of edits on my piece, even recorded (then re-recorded) my reading. The theme I was writing for was “Stalking and Social Media” or something like that. Anyway, one day, the whole thing fell through, killing any chance I had at meeting/marrying Diane Rheaume or sitting on Garrison Keillor’s lap.

Here it is, though.

I go to your page and see a picture of you, smiling. It is night time in the photo. I can see street lights in the background and you’re wearing a toboggan and your cheeks are red. It must be cold. From the position of your shoulder and the way your head is turned, it appears you took this photo yourself. Were you alone? It looks like you were. Alone outside on a cold winter night. What were you doing? And why did you take a picture of it? Did you step outside, realize it was night and think ‘I better get a shot of this’ or ‘When’s the next time I’m going to see a street light?’?

You Like so many things. You Like 196 things. Gosh. I feel like I only like like four things (my girlfriend, whiskey, jeans and the Game of Thrones books). You’re so much more diversified than me—so much more worldly. How do I do that? How do I grow to be the type of man whose life philosophy is so broad and sweeping that he can Like the pages of both Kenny Powers and the Dalai Lama? You must be tremendous.

Your taste in films and music is impeccable. You are the best at culture and open-mindedness and everyone needs to know it. Please list the music a real human is allowed to listen to.

As for your favorite books, it’s clear that you know your stuff there as well. Your book list begins with the most serious of Serious Literature—The Bible. Next, you’ve listed On the Road by Jack Kerouac—the undergraduate’s bible. You admire the protagonist’s sense of adventure, and you see that in yourself. You want other people to see that in yourself too. You also quote the book in your “Quotes” section—the line about how you only have time for people who are mad for life, or whatever he says. You long to be around those who live life to its fullest—people who grab life by the belt loops and dry hump it until it faints from exhaustion. That novel has done so much for so many people by allowing them to believe they’re looking into a reflection of themselves rather than a portrait of someone else.

Your quotes could be verses. Most are, in fact. The best ones are the ones you wrote yourself, though. Your wisdom will echo through the halls of my mind forever, helping me in my times most dire. I wish I had read “Life is a beer: Drink it” a few weeks ago. It could have helped me get over my breakup. And man, do I wish I would have had “Life’s hard, but so are diamonds” when my sister died. I have it now, though, so it’ll be a lot easier when my other sister dies. I’m ready.

You have a lot of pictures up of you and your girlfriend other kissing each other. This makes me uneasy, because these pictures are only a few clicks away from pictures of you with your last girlfriend.

What makes it worse is how similar the photos themselves are. Your smile in each is identical; their smiles in each are identical. Even the two women look similar—it is clear that you have a type; in both shots you’re holding the camera yourself, and in the same way.

Here’s what bothers me, though: you seem no happier with one woman than the other. And they seem happy, too, but it’s sort of sad because they’re the ones being swapped out and you’re staying the same, which I know doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to be upset about, since if I were on their page, I’d probably be only a handful of clicks from them and their previous partner, and you’d be the one being swapped, but still; something about this is weird. I feel like your ex is glaring at me as I look at you and your new girl together. I feel like we’re in a big room and she’s somewhere in it, pissed as hell.

I ignore the feeling as best I can and continue to comb through the pictures of you and your new love at Epcot Center. Your last girlfriend isn’t as pretty as your current one, and I bet you think so too, and I bet that’s why you haven’t deleted the pictures of the old girlfriend. So people can see how you’ve elevated yourself. Maybe so your ex can too.

I see that your mother has posted on your wall. My mom writes on my Facebook wall sometimes. I used to never respond. Then I saw a movie with a line about a woman who has no one to talk to and it reminded me of my mom and made me sad, so now I respond, because typing “haha” below one of her posts is just too simple a thing not to do. But your mom has posted a comment on your wall and you haven’t responded. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person, it just means that you’re busy; you’re busy Facebooking other things—more pressing things. I see you Liked “Diet Pepsi” forty-five minutes after your mother posted a comment on your wall, notifying you that she loves you and that she hopes you have a good week at school. I imagine the forty five minutes that followed her posting were all spent in exhaustive research and soul searching as to which diet cola to throw your support behind. People were depending on you for that.

But I can’t help but wonder if your mother could have used a “Thanks” or “Love you too” under that comment more than the Pepsi Corporation needed one more “Like” to go with the 670,000 it already had.

After I’ve read everything in your Facebook, I pause and reflect. You’re out living your real life somewhere right now. And here I am, knee-deep in my own life, catching the snapshots, the super-edited director’s cut, the highlight reel of yours. Is this who you are? Surely not.

So what else is there? Things feel missing. They feel hidden.Where is your sad day? Did you cry at the end of Marley and Me? Have you ever peed and it smelled weird and you thought you had diabetes? Did you have a sandwich for lunch?

And why do I care?

Music Night in America

13 Dec

Hey, sorry I’ve been gone so long. I’ve been working on a novel and that takes up pretty much all the strength in my fingers/brain/writing muscles. I need to start multi-tasking, though, pushing myself a little more creatively, so here this is.

I park my car outside of Hailey’s. I turn my hazzies on. I open my door and look up and down the street. I see a girl. She looks just like one of the musicians we are set to play with. I accost her.

“Will you help me load my stuff in?” I ask her, my hazzies poppin’ like flash bulbs.

She looks hesitant, afraid, reluctantly aroused.

“I just need you to please hold the door for me.”

“Oh, all right,” she says. She opens the bar’s side door and holds it open with her back.

“Tremendous!” I shout, trying to sound like a southern gentleman, but instead sounding like Shredder. “Tremendous,” I try again, this time sounding instead like a gay Australian.

She seems confused and now a little put out. She smiles with no teeth and puts her hands in her jacket pockets.

I heft my amp and my guitar and waddle up to the door she is now holding. I pause in front of her–do a squat. This is something I do alot. Squat for people. Squat at people. It seems to put them at ease.

“Thanks for the help,” I say, once everything is loaded in. I’m standing inside while she still stands with the door to her back. “Here’s something for your trouble.” I reach into my pocket, smile wryly, and flip a quarter to her. It’s trajectory is a little too straight, though, and it beans her right in the eye. She turns away from the door, and it shuts in my face as I step forward to see if she’s okay. “My car’s out there!” I cry. I push the door open. When I get outside, she is walking around to the front of the bar, holding her eye, saying a cuss. My car is there, though. I park it.

“So do you play with Savage now?” A young white man asks me once I make my way back to the bar. He has that unmistakable look of someone who watched a lot of Seventh Heaven even after it went off of the WB.

“I do,” I say.

“What do you play?” he asks.

“I play guitar,” I tell him, doing an air guitar. He doesn’t seem very impressed, so I do a squat. He seems startled. I do another one to calm him down. He tells me he needs to go see his friends.

He walks about ten or fifteen paces away and starts messing with his phone.

My musician bud, Roy Robertson, shows up. He brushes my ear with a moist finger. It scares the shit out of me.

royblog

“Please don’t do that,” I tell him.

“Please don’t do that,” Roy says, snarling, leaning in very close to my face.

“Do what?”  I ask.

“Fear what you don’t understand.” Then he reaches out and tries to touch my ear again. I duck away from it. He smacks his lips and gives me a dismissive look. “Listen, when are you guys going on?” he asks.

“In like an hour. We’re the second band.”

“Is that pretty accurate? Are you really sure you’ll be starting then?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I’m going to be reading my poetry from a tree outside, wanted to make sure our sets didn’t collide.”

“Afraid of a little competition?” I say, giving him a playful elbow. He yelps like a child who has hit its head.

 “I don’t compete!” he says, his voice suddenly very high. “I don’t compete! I perform.” He does a spin, smacks the ground, stands and blows me a kiss. “See you in an hour.” He smacks his ass and walks away.

I go to the bar and get a drink. Double Wild Turkey and Diet Coke. While I’m sipping it, the first band starts. They sound a lot like a first band always seems to sound like. I see the girl who I struck with the quarter. She is eyeing me in a way that appears to be pretty unfriendly, but I can’t be sure that it’s not her eye still freaking out from having a quarter in it, so I decide to play it safe and leave her alone.

A lot of my friends show up to this show. They will love it. We are a good live band, and I’m a fairly adept stage performer, like Neil Diamond if he didn’t act like such a fucking fairy all the time and had some fucking talent to speak of, my god. (Neil, if you’re reading this, I’m just kidding. I love Sweet Caroline.)

Derek, one of said friends, approaches me. We talk for a while.

“When’re you guys going on?” He asks.

“Soon,” I say. I decide to head outside to check on Roy, to see if he’s done. He is hanging upside down from a tree, meowing long, painful meows then screaming different women’s names. This is his closer, if I remember correctly.

We go on stage and rock out. Max, my singer, sings and bounces on his keyboard with the rhythmic frenzy of a Charlie Brown character. Ryan beats his drums with the raw energy of Animal from the Muppets. I play my guitar like a guy masturbating in his Halloween costume.

The music is powerful and dripping with positive energy. Between songs, guys keep trying to come on stage and propose to their girlfriends. From behind my mic, I see a father and son reconnecting after years of conflict. A North Korean and a South Korean embrace, realizing finally that they are not so different after all. A young black man offers his seat to an old white woman. Two neighbors, locked in a competition over who has the best Christmas lights on the street, realize their folly, that it’s really about the spirit, and shake hands. Stephen King winks at me and raises a pint. I squint, trying to see more clearly past the stage lights, not believing my eyes. Stephen laughs, takes a sip of his beer, then fades into nothing. I miss him still.

The show ends well, and we all go straight to bed afterward.

Happy Holidays.

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