The Big Goodbye

23 Aug

Recently, my friend Sam moved to Portland, Oregon. There’s also a Portland, Maine, but he didn’t move there. He moved to the cool one, not the Stephen King one.

Before he left, we threw him a party. The party was held at the house of my friend, Lanny.

Sam in the foreground, Lanny in the background.

“Time to say goodbye,” I say. I pop the tab back on the can and pour a Redbull over a half-full glass of Wild Turkey. “See you guys later.” I look at all their beautiful, shiny faces. Everyone’s skin is so oily. I can’t wait to be drunk so I won’t notice this anymore. I lift the glass to my lips. It’s cold in my hand. I make a mental note to go to my car after this and get my drinking mitten.

The firewater dances along my lips; it reaches my tongue and loses its footing and falls and hits its head; it moans and thrashes around in my throat before falling down in my belly and dying. Its soul will rise and go to heaven 12 hours later. That’s the heart burn.

In attendance at the party are nine of Sam’s closest friends and someone’s boyfriend. Most of us have been friends for some time. These gatherings are thick with memories. I survey the group, thinking back on days gone by. I look at my friend Derek and remember the time he kissed my mouth on New Years. I think that thought about roughly every man at this party. I look at Sam. I think of when we would go to his apartment on the weekends and play Rock Band. We tried real hard. Derek quit, Lanny got married, I shoulda known, we’d never get far. Oh, when I look back now, those years seemed to last forever. And if I had a choice, yeah, I’d always want to be there. Those were the best days of my life.

I look at a few more people and think a few more things.

Sam gets out his pipe and loads it up. Soon the laughter begins. I sit in a circle with Derek, Sam, Josh, and Lanny. I’ve been friends with Lanny and Josh since *Nsync. I don’t smoke weed on this night, though, and for two reasons. One, I work for the government, and am fairly certain they put something in me that tells them when I do bad things like that. Two, when I drink and smoke together it’s like–it’s like my brain is a car, and when I’m drunk, the car becomes a big monster truck and I can drive all over the road and nobody can do squat because I’m in a monster truck and I just run over everything in my path (simple logic, common courtesies, my best interests) and bowl through to the next stop; and when I’m high as well, it’s like my monster truck only has three tires and is on fire.

Sam takes a big pull off of the pipe, expanding his lungs to their fullest capacity. He passes it to Derek. Derek takes a long drink from his beer before lighting up and inhaling. All the while, Lanny sits to my left, smiling like one of those monkey-with-cymbals toys.


Sam exhales while Derek inhales and it’s like some great, human machine, built to destroy pain and drive the heart from the darker places of life and into some small, secret alcove where there is warmth and always respite.

“Oh, I feel it down in my balls, dude,” Derek says as he exhales and grabs his balls. Everyone laughs. Lanny smacks his cymbals together wildly.

I get up and walk outside. The night is warm and overcast, so there are no stars. A small group has gathered by the back door. Most are smoking cigarettes. I find cigarettes detestable. How could you poison your body when you know it’s bad for you that makes no sense gosh these people are idiots I think, then take a drink of my alcohol/energy drink concoction, feeling the light, buzzed feeling as the alcohol deprives my brain of oxygen and the energy drink pushes my heart and kidneys to go faster, faster, faster.

I think of the first time I got drunk, at Sam’s student-living apartment five years ago. The drinks were home-made margaritas and beer pong beer.

Sam comes out and he smokes a cigarette too. We talk about space and the universe. I hope the clouds break at some point, so we can see the stars and the moon. Mars is supposed to be visible tonight.

Most members of the party get in the pool. By this time, we’re all happily poisoned, thrashing and yelling and laughing with the abandon and glee of mentally handicapped children.

“Let’s do a diving contest!” my roommate, Alex says. She pulls her tiny body from the pool and scampers over to the diving board, then does an annoyingly good dive. There is little splash and her body stays straight as she enters the water.

“How annoying,” I mutter to myself, suddenly no longer having a good time. My time will not be good again until I perform a perfect dive or a dive more perfect than Alex’s.

I dive and dive and dive. It never works. I remember other times I tried to win at something over and over again and always failed. I think of any physical contest with Sam.

After we dry off, we gather on Lanny’s driveway. We start playing basketball, overhand throwing the ball at the metal hoop, dribbling two or three times before the ball hits a toe and flies off under someones car. I remember hanging over the guard rail at the UNT rec center basketball court, yelling incoherently at Sam while he played for our dorm’s team. Another friend, Kevin, who is wearing a tank top, does a pretend dunk. He doesn’t have the ball in his hand at the time, but if he did, I imagine he would have at least gotten very close to making a dunk. I look over at Sam. He is sitting down under the floodlight, his eyes pointed at his feet, but looking at nothing at all. I have to look away, because I recognize the look, had the same look a year ago, when I was leaving for grad school in San Marcos; it is the look of someone who is present, but already gone.

After basketball, we’re all in a circle, swapping Sam stories. The swap was my idea, and I regret it as soon as I suggest it, because it’s depressing the shit out of me and suddenly Sam’s leaving feels much more real. Derek is more drunk than I’ve seen him in some time, and is moaning like a beached whale. I find some solace in that. Because aren’t we all just a bunch of beached whales?

[Editor’s Note: I’m not sure I follow.]

[Kyle’s Note: Then don’t. Don’t follow me anywhere ever again. Stay where you are, and I’ll just go somewhere else. Without you.]

My heart swells as I tell my story of how I met Sam. The story is not a very good one, at least not on its own. It’s better when viewed in its place among my innumerable other Sam stories. A few people laugh at the moments I think are funny, but I laugh the hardest, because I was there and it makes me happy to have these memories and because it feels good to put a physical feeling on that happiness.

The next day, as Sam leaves Lanny’s house and I see him for the last time for a long time, I give him a hug, and have absolutely no idea what to say. So, I do what I always do when met with this sort of tension, I make jokes. This doesn’t bother me, though, as it is clear Sam has no idea what to say, either. Probably because there isn’t much to say other than “This sucks, doesn’t it?”

But it doesn’t suck that much, really. I like to think that Sam left for his Best Possible Life, which is a gamble worth taking no matter who you are. It’s a gamble you’re fortunate to take, whether you succeed in finding that Life or not.

So see you later, Sammy Sweet. Hope Portland is the coolest.


Love Tips

14 Jul

Some tips are good. Tips that help you through life–good. Tips that you give waiters and waitresses–great. Tips that you spot but think little of because you don’t realize they’re just tips and not the entire mass and then you hit them with your cruise ship that you had told everyone was unsinkable but then boom you hit the damn thing and it was under the whole time how were you to know but so what you hit it and now you’re sinking but don’t worry you’ll be famous forever for it–and dead–bad.

This is a collection of the first kind of tip. The kind of tip that improves your life and makes you a better person. And a better lover 😉

[Editor’s Note: It ruins your credibility when you use emoticons in your articles.]

[Kyle’s Note: :-P]

1. Gently caress her body with your finger tips. Run up her spine, along the backs of her arms. Whisper “…targeting…” in her ear. Then, every few seconds, pinch her as hard as you can and say “Kaboom.” The light nerve stimulation combined with the images of incendiary bombs releases endorphins that amp up sex drive.

2. Women love nose play. While she’s laying in bed, looking up at you expectantly, her eyes soft and pleading, leap on top of her like the great ape that you are. Straddle her torso. Look at the flash of fear in her eyes. Let it pass. Start scooching forward. The feel of your taint sliding up her sternum drives her wild and releases endorphins that amp up her sex drive. Push your hips forward. Say, in your most effeminate voice, “Eskimo kiss” then tickle the tip of her nose with your penis until you climax.

3. Take your lover from behind. As she gets close to climaxing, scream “There’s another guy in here!” This will terrify the shit out of her and kill the mood. Make sounds like you’re struggling with someone, but don’t get out of her. Fall forward, pressing her onto the bed. Keep making sounds like a fight. Maybe even give the other guy a funny voice. This tactic could have big rewards, as your lover may be turned on by listening to you defend her so bravely, but it will most likely kill the mood for the both of you, turning your erection into little more than a boneless crotch finger. See tips 1 and 2 to reclaim the mood.

4. Put on a pair of silk gloves and dawn a top hat. Undress your lover slowly, running your silk-laden fingertips along every inch of her body. When she’s good and hot, move to the foot of the bed. Stand there, completely nude and completely aroused, letting your manhood swing proud. Bing bong bing bong, it will say–like a disgusting grandfather clock. Remove your hat and introduce yourself. Say “I am the Love Magician. And I am here to make my lunch–disappear!” And then take an enormous dump on the ground. The smell of your feces will release endorphins that will make her south mouth salivate with desire. Get back on the bed. It’s show time.

5. Scream “BOOM!” every time you thrust.

6. Cover a pearl necklace with lube and stuff it into your butt. Once you start making love and she’s close to climaxing, pull out. Throw yourself onto your back and spread your legs wide. Say “You have given me a gift from your vagina. Now let me give you a gift from mine–from my boy vagina.” Reach with your thumb and index finger into your butt and draw out the pearl necklace. When she starts and tries and backs away from shock, fear, and carnal desire, pursue her. Being chased with an object recently removed from a human body releases endorphins that put her sex drive through the roof.

7. While she’s on top of you, reach out and grab both of her hands. Tense your arms to give her some support while she’s grinding. Then, do your best impression of her parents. Alternate between father and mother. Do not let go of her hands. Scream the name of her family dog as you climax.

8. Leave a bouquet of flowers at your lover’s office. Inside the bouquet, include a note that reads “Flowers for my flower” or something along those lines. “A rose for my rose.” Resist all “Seed” entendres; they will send the wrong message. Stick with more romantic, erotic messages. “I want to stab you with a shovel and put roses in you.” “You are dirt.” Then, leave a gift card for her favorite restaurant and tell her her next clue is there. When she gets to the restaurant, have a table set out for her. Leave a note there that reads “You better get used to stuff like this.” Leave a note on her entree that says she has fifteen minutes to eat before the building explodes. When she runs out to her car, have a note under her windshield that says “…with desire.” She will not understand and neither will you, but that’s not important. On the back of that note, write “You need to get home before your dessert gets cold.” She will hurry home as quickly as possible. When she walks in and calls your name, don’t say a word. Put cut out paper arrows on the ground that lead to the bathroom, where you lay in a tub full of red water, fake blood poured all over your wrists. She will scream and cry, but don’t move. The sight of a dead body releases endorphins that can moisten even the driest flap of lady meat. She may even climax right there. When she drops to her knees by the tub, burst into life and scream “SEX!” Leap on top of her. Your sudden resurrection will fill her with desire. For you.

Making a Record

3 Jul

My band, Savage and the Big Beat, is finishing up recording our first EP. It will be called Love and Hunting and should be out soon. My friend, Roy Robertson, recorded us in his home. Below is a brief account of that process.

I arrive at Roy’s house. As soon as I open my car door, I hear a buzzing like an electric razor. I look around to see who is shaving outdoors, but see no one. I locate the sound. There is a pile of raw chicken meat in the middle of Roy’s front lawn.

Next to the pile is a piece of poster board affixed to the ground with a stake. “HUNGRY YET?!” it says. I don’t know who Roy is attacking here. The obvious answer would be that he’s attacking meat-eaters. I think it would also be easy to assume he is attacking chickens with this display–making some sort of example out of these poor bastards. I consider throwing the chicken away–the smell is awful, and I’m worried about neighborhood dogs eating the chicken and getting sick, but then I remember a time when I was jogging and a bunch of dogs ran up and started barking cat calls, baffling me on a zoological level and offending me on a personal level, because all their cat calls were about my rounded bottom and soft, human genitals. Remembering this moment, I decide that the dogs probably have it coming and leave the chicken exactly where it is.

I go up to the door and knock several times. There is no answer. I can hear drums being pounded inside the house and assume they can’t hear me. I don’t want to call one of them and have a ring on the recording, so I open the door and walk in. Roy and my singer, Max, are sitting in the living room. Roy has an eggplant in his lap. There are several small bite marks taken out of it, as if it had been nibbled by  a rodent.

“Oh,” I say.

“Just walk on in, Kyle,” Roy says. He is wearing dark shades. His beard is wild and his hair unkempt. He is wearing an off-white t shirt that used to be regular white.

“Hey man,” Max says. His palms are resting on his knees and when he looks at me he looks very tired. He has brown hair on his head.

“We’re talking about recording,” Roy says.

“Oh. What’re you talking about?” I ask.

Recording.” Roy says.

“I mean what about recording.”

Roy grumbles and gets to his feet. Max flinches.

“Kyle, what does this look like to you?!” he asks, shoving the eggplant in my face then pulling it away.

“It looks like an egg plant.”

“Wrong!” He screams. His free hand is clenched. Max looks at me, confused and frightened.

“That is an eggplant. It looks like an eggplant,” I say.

“No talking!” Roy commands, his voice cracking violently on “talking.” He tousles his hair and pulls a section over his right eye. “Max!” He spins on his heels to face Max. “What does this look like?”

“A…b…a…dinosaur egg…?” He looks at me and smiles sheepishly.

A few seconds hang after he answers. Roy shakes his head, looks to the ground, then emits a shrill howl, throwing his head back, facing the ceiling.

“A liver!” Max shouts, his hands out, attempting to calm Roy. “A tumor! Bob Dylan!”

I scramble. “Vegan things! Quinoa!”

Roy is suddenly silent. “It looks like a giant jelly bean, dip shits.” He throws the eggplant into the chair he has just vacated. “What is the point?” I hear him asking as he walks into the kitchen.

“How’s it been going?” I ask Max. Max tells me that he hasn’t gotten to record yet. “You’ve been here for hours,” I say.

“Roy recorded all the vocals for our songs already. He told me to take them home tonight and listen to them and then come back tomorrow and I’d know how to sing them.”

“You’re kidding.”

“He’s only kidding if he tells you he’s ready to record. He’s not ready to record.” Roy spins on his heels and throws a deck of cards into the air. They fly all over the room.

“What have you guys recorded, then?” I ask. He looks at Roy and then looks at me. He begins to speak, but for a moment, his mouth opens and nothing comes out.

Then, he says “We’ve recorded–we went through the keys and the drums for two of the songs, but then Roy took us on this twenty minute walk that ended back in the recording area and he showed us that none of the mics were plugged in.

“A Rude Awakening!” Roy says from the floor as he picks up the cards.

Max continues. “Then he plugged the mics in and told us to take our places and start on the first song on his signal. He positioned his chair so he was facing us and we waited for his signal. Then we sat there in silence for twenty minutes.”

“The sssssound of silence,” Roy says directly into my ear, startling me. “Ssssslippery, ssssslimy, ssssssnakes” he says, gritting his teeth and doing a slithering motion with his hands.

“What happened after twenty minutes?” I ask. “Did you record anything?”

“Roy recorded himself slow clapping in an empty room.”

“And then?”

“Then he spent a while trying to put effects on the clap. After that, we tried to record ‘Castles,’ but Roy was playing the slow clap in our headphones while we were doing it, so it kept throwing our timing off. He also let his dog in the room and kept throwing its toys at our feet. It bit me.” Max rubs his enormous foot and looks sullenly at Roy.

“The dangers of expressing ones’s self!” Roy says. He tousles his own hair, claps once, and then produces a loud yelp.

“Okay, Roy, we need to express our songs into microphones without being bitten by dogs.” I pause for a moment, thinking of what I just said, taking an inventory of my life. “Can we please do that now?”

“Oh yeah totally,” Roy says, then smacks Max on the top of Max’s head and runs back into the recording area.

“Roy, don’t hit!” I yell after him, but it’s too late. Max sits in the chair, rubbing the top of his hair and looking sore.

“I’m sorry for that, Max. That’s just–that’s Roy. You still want to record?”

Max nods slowly, his hand still on the top of his head. I suddenly realize that Ryan is in the backroom and has been playing the same beat since I arrived.

“Roy said Ryan could stop playing when his drums sounded like the heartbeat of a whale. He’s been playing for hours. He just can’t get it.”

I sigh and motion for Max to follow me as we head back to record our EP.

Game of Thrones: A Pre-Read, Pre-Viewing Review

26 May

I am surrounded by the Game of Thrones.

Sometimes I wonder if it is good. Is it good? I’m not sure.

As an adult male with a frustrating lack of time to do the things I’d like to do for fun, I have to economize my free time as much as possible. I have to only do extremely high-value things. So, I’d like to determine whether Game of Thrones is good enough before I spend countless hours of my time reading/watching it.

It seems clear to me that Game of Thrones employs a number of swords. Many different swords are used in this book series. You can tell by looking at the cover of the first installment. There are so many swords in the Game of Thrones series that people are making chairs out of them. I have turned over every volume of this series at stores and have yet to see any other weapon than a sword. The third installment is called A Storm of Swords. This lends credence to the abundance of swords in the Game of Thrones series. They are now in the atmosphere. Swords in the atmosphere.  I think there is a helmet like Maximus’s from Gladiator on one of the covers. This leads me to believe that Russel Crowe (As himself) makes an appearance in the series. This is great. This makes all the other characters in the series a little nervous though, because they know about his reputation as a hothead and are afraid to get beat up/be on TMZ.

But aside from the cover and the promise of a variety of blades being employed, it is the writing that really makes this series a winner. “Grabs hold and won’t let go. It’s brilliant.” Robert Jordan writes on the first installment’s back cover. This comment makes me think of sex.

The first installment of the series, Game of Thrones, is about a chess game played by the great old giants of old, way back in the old times. It is also about a pair of large Sudanese men who take turns throwing thrones into hoops hung high in the air. The stakes of these games are not simply the thrill of victory or the fear of loss, but death. Burning death, that burns so badly as you die.

The second book in this series is called A Clash of Kings. I’ll come back to this.

But also in this series seems to be a lot of sex. When people mention the television show, this always comes up, and all I can think of is medieval, smudge-faced, backdoor, pants around the ankles, barn sex. There may be a sword on the ground somewhere in the background. There may be a little person wearing an ornate shirt with puffy shoulders watching, either smiling jollily, or eyeing the pair with a plotting look, his little midget wee wee standing up like the lid of a Magic Marker.

I might not come back to A Clash of Kings.

The cast of Game of Thrones television show is composed entirely of beautiful women, midgets, hydrocephalic children and Tommy Carcetti. I imagine Tommy walks into the throne room, where the guy who was Boromir in Lord of the Rings sits proudly on his throne. Tommy has a huge sword that is much too large for one hand, that is meant for two hands, but Tommy doesn’t understand that a two-hand sword is a real thing and not just a thing that weak guys call a one-hand sword. So, he stumbles in toward the throne, struggling to hold the sword out in front of him. He looks like a toddler trying to carry practically anything.

“I want this–Can I have this throne?” He asks in a heart-pounding moment.

The king stands, his armor squeaks like a rubber ducky.

“NO! This is my throne!”

Tommy lowers his sword. He smiles with one side of his face. “Your name isn’t on it.”

The king’s eyes get wide. He calls his top adviser over. “Have this throne searched for my name! It must be there.”

But no one can find his name anywhere. He shrugs, says a cuss word, and steps down off the throne. Carcetti drops the sword, which clatters loudly to the ground. He skips up to the throne.

[Editor’s Note: What are you reviewing in this passage?]

I don’t know.

Then one of the little people pops out of Boromir’s butt and says “Beebudee beebudee that’s all folks” and the whole series ends.

This book and this show sound awesome. I hope at one point a horse slips on some mud or something and a horse’s butt hole lands on a little person and then the horse says “WAAAHOOOOO” and stands up and runs all over the kingdom and you can see the little guy’s legs wiggling around in its butthole like the horse grew two tiny tails.

Boromir and Carcetti stand laughing, their arms around each other’s shoulders. Two men. Two kings. Two wildly different haircuts.

I can’t wait to experience Game of Thrones.

Kyle Irion and the Very Annoying Night

15 May

It is Friday night. My band, Savage and the Big Beat, is playing a house show.

My friend, Derek, who gave me a ride, drops me off in front of the house while he finds parking. I’m running late, and for some reason I feel like I’ll be in trouble if I don’t get my things in soon. I expected the second band to have started by now, but it appears the first is still playing. It is 11:00.

I am carrying my pedal board, my guitar, and my “Magic Bag,” which contains no real magic, unless you consider guitar cables magical, in which case I feel really sad for you and don’t tell me you think it’s magical because that will ruin my entire day.

“GOOD LUCK!” A fat man says to me as I approach the house. He looks very sweaty and his facial hair is growing in a pattern similar to the way moss grows on a tree. I look to him and say nothing, but silently wish him luck with his fight against obesity.

The driveway to the house is packed with cars and people. It is dark and there are few lights outside, so the scene is a series of silhouettes. Cardboard cutouts of people and cars. I see two men peeing on a fence. I remember when I could pee on a fence. That was before I had gainful employment/a grown-man penis that feels strange being whipped out around 19 year olds.

I waddle to the garage/performance space with my equipment.

There is one door through which people are entering and exiting the garage. My drummer emerges through it and offers to help carry my things. He grabs the magic bag and the pedals. I carry the guitar. We force our way through the crowd and enter the converted garage. It is full of young, sweaty, intoxicated humans. The air is thick with musk and smoke. It’s like walking around a biker’s crotch parts.

We make our way into the kitchen. I do not know where to go from here.

“This way” my drummer, Ryan, says. He leads me down a hallway to a back room that I can tell is lit by a single red bulb. I begin to have flash backs to Caligula and the Doors movie. I get nervous.

He opens a door at the end of the hall and my butt-lips tighten. My leather donut is at full tension when Ryan turns and says “You can put it all in here.” In here. I wasn’t expecting the sex to happen so fast. And I thought there would be more people.

“I thought there would be more people here,” I say, slowly putting down my equipment.

“You kidding me? There are tons of people here!”

Fear shoots through me like an arrow. Where are they? Will this be a sexual ambush? Ambush my bush?

My palms are sweaty and my package has shriveled to resemble a tiny mushroom growing on the knot of a tree. I try to excite myself. I think of running water–fountains, rivers. I feel an extremely strong urge to urinate and realize I am thinking of the wrong things.

Noticing my hesitation, Ryan asks “You okay with this? I promise it’ll be safe here.”

Safe. Safe.

“You sure?” I ask.

“Yeah. No one is going to get in here but the bands, and they don’t want you messing with their stuff, so they aren’t going to mess with yours.”

“Sounds like a pretty shitty orgy,” I say, the mix of “shit” and “orgies” instantly making me hard. Now I’m ready. I just hope I’m gay enough.

Ryan blinks a few times and says nothing, then “What?”

I realize I have misjudged the situation. Seeing all the windows are shut and locked, I turn around and walk out of the room as quickly as I can.

When I reach the crowd in the kitchen, I see a man I know. His name is Phil. Hello, Phil.

Phil says hello.

“I feel a little silly,” I say. The music is forcing me to yell into Phil’s ear.

“What? Why?” he yells back.

“I didn’t know this was a theme party.”

“A theme party?” Phil leans back away from my ear. He looks confused.

“‘Saved by the Bell,’ right?”

“I d–”

“90’s clothes.” I look around “Is this not a 90’s party?”


“Thrift Store Dumpster?”


“Sequins and Just Straight Up Ugly Polos?”

“I can’t tell if you’re talking shit on everyone or not.”

I hear the phrase “shit on everyone” and harden again.

“No, no,” I say, forcing laughter. “I’m just kidding.”

Phil laughs too. He will hate me forever.

I go outside and meet up with Derek there. He is standing by a Mazda and drinking some strange concoction that with every sip is taking minutes off of his life. Roy Robertson of the Roy Robertson Band is also there. He is spinning in place and then ducking very low before springing back up and spinning again.

“Hey Derek,” I say. “Hey Roy.”

“Hello,” Derek says, his voice dripping with the jolliness of intoxication.

“Time,” Roy whispers, then blows a small handful of dirt from his outstretched palm.

“When’re you guys going on?” Derek asks. The first band is wrapping up, leaving two more bands to play before we go on. It’s 11:15. More people are showing up every minute, too many for the house and garage to contain. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to get busted up before we go on.

A man walks by. He is wearing a safari jacket and trousers and he says very loudly that he has every intention of “getting fucked up” this evening.

“Those ancient words,” Derek says, a fire kindling behind his eyes. “Like an incantation.”

The first band ends and the second begins setting up. It is 11:25. At midnight, I look over to the garage and sigh. They are still setting up.

“How long does this band need to set up?” Derek asks. “It’s like fucking Rush is playing tonight.”

But it is not Rush. It is a different band, who could use a little RUSHing.

There is noise from the house. The second band has started. It is 11:32. I am having a conversation with Roy about recording my band’s EP.

“So what do you want to record?” Roy reaches into his pocket, turns away briefly, and when he turns back, has inserted some sort of strobe-light bead into his mouth.

“A few of our songs?” I reply. I am confused.

“WRONG! You want to record lifesex, passion–” Roy keeps getting closer and closer to me. His voice is altered and difficult to understand, because he still has the light up bead resting on his tongue. “love, hate, mystery, war, dogs.”


“Like at the dog park,” Roy says, then spits the light bead into the air. Some spit lands on my face. Although this is the first bit of saliva that has touched my face, I feel I’ve been spit on all night.

“I’m confused,” I say.

I walk away and wander through the crowd. They are like refugees. There are so many of them and all seem so aimless, all drinking makeshift booze out of makeshift containers. I see a man drinking beer out of a measuring cup. I try to find people to talk to, but can find none. The last I heard from Derek, he had to “Drain it” and had taken a jug of trashcan punch with him. I asked him why he needed the trash can punch to drain it. He took three bounding steps toward me and grabbed me by my shirt.

“Because, Kyle. I’m lookin’ good, but feelin’ bad.” Then he growled like a wolf and walked to the back of the house.

When a group of young people climb onto the roof, I elbow the guy next to me and make a comment about the dangers of not minding the soft spots on the roofs of old houses. He looks at me like I’ve got blood coming out of my eyes and walks away.

As he leaves me, I see blue and red lights bounce against the house. I turn and look to see where the lights are coming from. There’s only one place they can be coming from.

I look back to the garage. Young people are piling in as if the government has come to collect financial aid payments. I start to walk to the garage, pulled by the invisible attraction of mob mentality. I reach into my back pocket, where my flask is stored. I pull it out and drop it on the ground.

When it hits the ground, it makes a dull clink and the clink is like a flipped switch in my brain.

I ask myself why I’m going to the garage. I’m 25. I have no reason to fear. I pick up my flask and walk back to the cars and lean back on one while listening to the party’s hosts roll around in the social mud trying to convince the cop that everything will be OK, promise.

“I’m not trying to kill the party guys,” the lady cop says. I wonder what the hell she thought she was going to do when she pulled up to the large gathering of illegally intoxicated minors. “Just keep it down, please.” All the hosts nod and thank her for being a good nice cop and she leaves.

Once she is gone, the party continues as if she had never come.

And then the second cop comes.

I tip my hat to the shitty old house and leave.

The End.

Rules for Junior High Dances

6 May

“Okay boys, listen up. I want everyone to have a good time tonight–the entire faculty does.”

“I don’t,” the PE coach that does the sex ed says.

“Everyone except him. He doesn’t want you to have a good time. And do you know why? Because he knows what a “Good Time” can really lead to. Babies. Warts. Discharge. Yes, and it can happen to you. If it has already happened to you, tell your friends how horrible it was. If you try to say it wasn’t that horrible, you’re a liar and you’re not welcome to the snacks anymore. Here are the ten rules.”

  1. Hands must be above the waist at all times. 
  2. Hands must be visible at all times. 
  3. No “Bumping” or “Grinding.”
  4. Keep your crotch and rear-ends as still as possible. 
  5. Resist all temptations to touch her hair. Your greasy little fingers will only ruin it. 
  6. Hold her hand.
  7. Watch her purse and don’t bitch about it. 
  8. No kissing on the first date. 
  9. Open as many doors for her as you can. Don’t open a door for her if it will take too long or take too much effort; that will just make her uncomfortable. 
  10. The more folds the note has, the more facets to your complex and beautiful love for her. 
  11. Go to the dance after Homecoming.
  12. Buy her ticket. 
  13. Dance. 
  14. Tease her, be playful, but never, ever, ever tease her about her looks. 
  15. Hang out with her instead of your friends from time to time, instead of always the other way around.
  16. “Hanging out” is not her watching you play Madden.
  17. Dance.
  18. Call her.
  19. Call her and talk back.
  20. Call her and talk back and ask lots of questions. 
  21. Make out for a while without grabbing boob. 
  22. “A while” is not three minutes.
  23. Dance. 
  24. Sex matters. 
  25. Often times, the more ridiculous you feel while doing something, the more she’s going to love it. 
  26. So, do ridiculous (romantic) things.
  27. Not loving someone who loves you does not make you smarter, cooler, or more reasonable than that person. 
  28. Be careful with people who love you, and don’t fuck it up.
  29. Dance.

My time at the Warrior Dash, Part I

24 Apr

I arrive at the Texas Motor Speedway, where Warrior Dash participants park before being bused to the vast forest that contains the obstacle course. The lot is massive.

Once parked, I go through my backpack to make sure that I have everything I will need for the day. Inside my backpack there are two bananas, a towel.

“Ready to go,” I say. I wrap the bananas in the towel and do a little joke to myself where I pretend the wrapped bananas are a Tree Man penis and I yell and scream about God’s cruelty, then laugh a little bit, toss the bundle into my backpack and get out of the car. I smile and wave at a group of white people all wearing the same pink t-shirts all looking at my car and seeming very upset. They asked me what is wrong with me. I say I’m deficient in vitamin DASH then swing my leg wildly at the biggest member of the group. It’s my high-kick, so it goes just above the level of the man’s knee. He turns his body slightly and I miss by a mile.

“Wink” I say, then run off.

I run toward a line of empty buses awaiting boarders.

“Before you get on the bus,” a large woman in a Warrior Dash shirt marked VOLUNTEER on the back yells, “You need to get a wrist band from one of these two men.”

“Sir? Are you competing?” One of the men asks me.

“Hardly competing,” I say. “For that, I’d need competition.” I wink at a girl who is not looking at me.

“If you want to run, we gotta put one of these on you.” He holds up handful of lime green wrist bands. I put out my right hand and he puts a wrist band on me.

We get on the bus. I’m transported to The Hunger Games. I’m transported to Battle Royale. I’m transported to a half-dozen Holocaust films. I imagine we are all being shipped out to some work camp or some blood-soaked arena. I begin to look for allies in the seats around me. I see a young Asian man who seems to be around my age. He also appears to be alone. I think about us–together.

I nod to him and he looks at me blankly and leans to talk to the guys in the seat in front of him. Ah. I see. He’s not alone at all. He has friends. I’m thrown into a maelstrom of sadness. I feel so lonely. I miss him already. I think about the times we spent together.

“And like, I don’t fuckin’ care, girl. Get your pants and get out!” He says, then he and his friends in front of him cackle and look at their smartphones. I think about how much of an ass hole he is and how glad I am that all my memories of him are just memories of Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash.

The bus’s brakes scream and as we stop I can hear the its tires rumbling across gravel.

“Work camp,” I say. I hope I get a cool job in the work camp. I hope I can be the work camp’s graphic designer.

We get off the bus. My foot hits the ground and I am in a dystopian nightmare. I see no grass, only white dust and gravel under my feet. In the distance I see a macabre carnival, and beyond that, the high treeline like the battlement of a city wall. There is a far-off, rhythmic thrum, as if we are in the belly of some terrible beast, overhearing his beating heart. People are walking around covered in mud, hunched from fatigue and the weight of their soaking clothes. I remember that I need to put on sunscreen.

I step out of the thickest of the foot traffic, to a small shaded area by one of the barricades meant to keep visitors from wandering from the main area of the competition. I oil my body. My shoulders, my breasts. My tummy and my neck. In between my fingers. The top of my butt crack. The between of my fingers again. My ear lobes. Eye lashes and the underside of my left nostril. My thighs. The tops of my feet. All of my toenails.

I walk back out into the sun like I invented the sonofabitch.

There are signs directing me to a large plaza that resembles an old-world marketplace. I approach the area where patrons are given their shirts and tracker chips and–

“Tracker chips?” I ask the man handing out the packets.

“Yes, to track your time.”

“And what else?!” I smack the table. He jumps.

“And how fast you run.”

“Track this,” I say, then shake the chip really fast. “Hope that didn’t throw off your calibrations.”

“It didn’t,” he says. The guy before me pushes forward and tells the man his name. I walk away to check my backpack in.

The tent to check your bag in resembles the tent where I got my packet and tracker chip. The man working there is a portly Hispanic gentleman who is very sweaty, but seems in high spirits. We exchange pleasantries and I drop my backpack off there.

I wander about the complex, wondering what lay ahead. Survival is victory. Victory is survival.

To be continued.

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