Sunday, December 18, 2011
RUMINATIONS OF A TEN YEAR OLD or ETERNITY AND THE COOKIE THEORY: A MONOLOGUE
SETTING: Eternity, so a blank space.
TIME: Here and now.
CHARACTER: MAX, a young man in his early twenties.
(A Black stage. The sound of wind whips through. Then silence. Lights slowly begin to rise. MAX a young man, is alone on stage. He pulls a bag of chocolate chip cookies from behind his back. He considers the audience, puts the bag of cookies on the floor, D.S.C. in an offering to them.)
MAX: When I was about ten, I told my mother I didn’t think it was fair what God had done; in the world, about the world and to the people of the world. I didn’t get it the whole Catholic notion of things. I mean, okay, I’m ten and say I’m God, and I’m gonna create a bunch of beings in my image…why would I do that? What could possibly be the purpose of God making things in his image and then telling them, you can’t do this and you BETTER do that or else you’re gonna fry? Well, “because he was lonely.” Really? God was lonely? For goodness sakes, Mother, God is lonely?…Then what chance do I have? In a new school. With all those kids. Who don’t like new kids. I’m the geek! The queer! The faggot new kid! What’s the point again? He made us for WHAT? “He created you because he loves you.” Okay, he loved me before he created me, or he loved the notion of me? Me, with all these…imperfections? And sin? He didn’t have to create sin did he? That’s where I started to veer off into uncharted Catholic territory. That’s where my logic says. Well, yin and yang. I knew about yin and yang from TV. Don’t ask me where I saw it. But the notion that you can’t have good without the bad, right? Okay, so that’s part of the order of the world, right? The orderliness of it. Can’t have hot without cold, night without day, cruelty without kindness…So, it’s set up so you can if you WANT. I mean if you WANT, you can turn BAD. Some people choose to go that way. Right? BAD. WHY? I don’t know. What’s the point of that? As a Catholic, the only reasoning you can have is THE BAD people, they want to see how close to death they can get, have as much BAD FUN as they can get until that day when they turn around and say, shit! I’m dying, I better go good or when I die I may go to hell, and that’s forever, and ever, and ever…The ten commandments, right? Break em and you’re gone. And you’re not just gonna fry till you’re crispy brown, but fry for all eternity. A timeless echo of pain wracking your being forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever…until. Oh, wait, there’s no until. It just goes on and on and on…I’m ten years old and I'm in bed at night thinking about this. I’m ten years old and I’m thinking about eternity and heaven and hell. And eternity. What is THAT? Eternity? How can I grasp it? How can anyone grasp it? It’s forever, and ever and ever, and ever, ever, ever…an echo that never ends. I’d get a flash of panic run right through me and I’d sit up in bed, suck in a deep breath and freeze! Sweat dripping down my nose. I’d roll over and dwell on it. Oh my God! I can’t go there! I can’t suffer FOREVER! Just change the subject! Change it! So, I’d think of something else. Something not so MYSTERIOUS. Sex was always a good change of subject. Or my notion of what sex was at the time. I still had visions of women attached to strange and incomprehensible contraptions hidden in the ladies room, wondering what they wore under all those clothes, with straps and harnesses due to the times when they had their period…whatever that was. Strange and wonderful creatures women were. As mysterious as all eternity, but not as vexing…So I’m ten and in bed and my mind is racing between eternity, and the mystery of women, eternity, the mystery of women…Some nights I’d roll around for hours sweating in my little PJ’s.
So God made me in his image. Then there must be some remnants of God still in me right? Which part? “The good part,” my mother would say. Well, that’s fine with me. WE each have a sliver of goodness in us. I like that thought. I like that a lot. Kind of like the chocolate chip part in cookies. The good parts just waiting and pop out and be appreciated. So, that’s the way I look at it.
(He holds a cookie above his head with both hands, then brings it down to his mouth.)
WE all have that good part just waiting to be appreciated. And if you find it in someone, let them know, hey, a part of you is deliciously good, good as can be. Just like a chocolate chip cookie.
(MAX smiles as
lights slowly fade.
The wind is heard
Only the bag of cookies is in a soft pool of light.
Fade to black.)
Posted by Chuckh at 12:52 PM
Friday, September 30, 2011
Kerida 2, oil on Linen 15" x15"
My new play, "The Man in the Black Pajamas", is being produced this November at Space 55, here in Phoenix. It is a psychological drama about what happens to a man when he is accused of a horrendous crime they call the "incident." Although we never clearly see what that "incident" was, we do see him processing his situation and the phases of his reaction to his captivity. There is much heart felt humor, surprises and truth in this story. The play is being directed by the muti-talented Raymond King Shurtz, with a great cast. So pleased so far.
More info on my new web page:
Posted by Chuckh at 12:39 PM
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Carla, Carla, Carla
Shortly after my first “dream State,” that early winter morning lying in the hallway of my East Side apartment, in that confused and frightened condition, I stopped having the dreams for a while, thanks to the love I felt for a woman. Francine, the bike rider "dream" had haunted me for months. I had thought I was going to lose my mind. Then I met Diana, and the dreams suddenly stopped.
I was studying writing at NYU and working nights at a pizza joint/restaurant on the Upper East Side named Delish. Diana was young and blonde, with large blue eyes and a smile that lit up my heart. The three years we spent together were the best and worst I’ve had. There’s something to be said for getting lost in ones work, but when that obsession becomes a woman, man you are in trouble. I was writing short stories at the time and they all revolved around our relationship, and usually featured an alluring siren pulling the protagonist into a deadly snare he eventually had to fight his way of, but was always doomed to fail. She was an intoxicant to me. I would lay with my head on her bare belly, taking in her smells, the aroma of skin, run my fingers through her hair and never get bored, look into her eyes for hours, or watch her sleep. I wanted to live in her, breath her, taste her, make her cum, look into her eyes as I came, have sex with her always, all night all the time. My school work began to suffer. The writing became less focused, rambling, as I attempted to capture elusive feelings I didn’t or couldn’t understand. I not only wanted to marry her, I wanted to crawl inside her womb and live there, poke my head out every so often to eat and maybe watch a football game, then crawl back inside. I began eating all the time and gained twenty pounds. Unwarranted jealousy filled me whenever she answered the phone or talked to a clerk in the grocery store. I began imagining her affairs, illicit, sexual, taunting me at every turn. I began snooping into her computer files and monitoring her emails. I even considered tapping our phone but couldn’t afford the electronics. Then she broke up with me. I couldn’t function. I felt like my brains had been cold pressed and left out to dry. It was all about me, me and me. What I was thinking, feeling, and hearing. Was my heart beating too fast or too slowly, why were my hands shaky, why couldn’t I walk in a straight line? Then one night, I was sitting on a bar stool next to Millar, listening to how awful his life was and it all lifted. Somehow the old version of me suddenly walked into the bar and settled back inside my body.
I still haven’t figured it all out, because I’ve had other relationships before and since, and never came close to being so completely lost in a woman. Looking back, I even thought she was better looking than she really was, because when I look at photos of her now, I just can’t feel that same magic. So was it just a phase I was going through? Were the dreams a catalyst that pushed me into a vulnerable and fragile state whereby I latched onto her for comfort and support? I think I’m getting warm. Anyway, past relationship mistakes is what drives me now. It’s always at the back of my mind, knowing I could go off that ledge again. As far as women go, I can’t say I’m sex obsessed or a dependant personality so much as a worshiper of women. I empathize with the more fragile emotional state, am aware of the “femaleness” of their bodies. The supple curviness, forbidden recesses and especially the roundness of the female hip, can drive a heterosexual male insane with desire. And I’m no exception. I guess what I’m saying is I’m a sucker for beautiful women. Where most men are intimidated, I’m invigorated by them. So when Carla called the next day, I knew I could be headed for trouble.
She was brief, said she wanted to meet me for coffee downtown near her work. I didn’t bother asking what she did. Actually, I didn’t ask her anything, my mind just drew a blank the minute I heard her voice. I took a bus downtown and waited outside a typical building by the South Street Seaport. Cool autumn winds blew dust around the corner of the building and I turned away to shelter my eyes. I looked up in time to see her walking toward me. She was stunning in a short skirt and calf high boots. Her skirt flew up in the wind and I turned away, not wanting to embarrass her.
We walked to a nearby, upscale touristy café and sat at a window table. I ordered coffee and she a cappuccino. I felt reserved, polite, not wanting to give her any impression other than business. She thanked me for meeting her, took a sip of her drink and started to cry. Quietly, at first, then she had a few seconds of real tears and nose blowing. She finally caught her breath with a heavy sigh and apologized.
“Don’t. You don’t have to,” I offered.
Gathering another breath, she removed the black leather gloves from her hands and started talking.
“The reason I called you, and I’m sorry for the first time we met, but you know how it is. I wanted to see you again because the police, well they’re getting no where. They have no leads, little evidence and I’m afraid my sister’s killer is going to go free.”
I looked at her and she lifted her eyes to mine. Bloodshot and red rimmed, they were tired, worn, but still had that spark.
“I don’t know what I can do to help,” I said, but that was a lie. I knew exactly what I could do, if it was possible for me to conjure that dream again. I just didn’t want to face it. I could see it even as she spoke. Flashes of the crime scene shot through my mind. Emma, lying against a brick wall, her lips slightly apart as her last gasp escaped, the limpness of her body as she released from this life, her dead eyes staring up through glazed pools.
“I would pay you,” she said.
I paused, looking at her clothes and purse. They were not exactly fifth avenue couture.
“What do you do for a living?” I asked.
She turned away. I could almost see a cigarette between her index and middle fingers as she placed her thumb between them and moved it.
“What does that matter?” She asked.
“It doesn’t. I just don’t want to feel guilty collecting my check.”
“Don’t worry about the money. I can pay.”
“I haven’t said how much.”
“You’re not going to fleece me are you?”
“That’s not the way I operate.”
“How do you operate?”
“I’m not sure why you called me. The other day I got the impression you thought I was a clown.”
“I never said that.”
“You didn’t have to. I’ve seen it a hundred times before. I try to tell people I’m a seer, and they want to run. Smiles turn to fright.”
“I’m not scared of you.”
“There’s no reason to be.”
She put the imaginary cigarette to her lips, and let her fingers fall to the table.
“How long?” I asked.
“How long what?”
“How long ago did you quit smoking?”
She smirked and looked out the window. A young couple walked by arm and arm hunched together against the wind.
“I just want to know if you can help me. Really, I just want to pick your brains a little. Can I ask you a few questions?”
“In your vision-“
“I like that. See you’re already becoming accepting of what I do.”
“Well, you say you saw the mugging. I want to know if you saw the muggers face. Did you report anything, any details to the police? Did they take you to a police station and fill out paperwork?”
“I didn’t go to the police. At first I didn’t think there was an Emma. I still couldn’t accept that what I was seeing was really going to happen. I found a few likely names in the phone book. I narrowed it down over a few days until I came to your sister. I knew it was her the minute I laid eyes on her. You see, I did see her that night. Her face, I mean. Not the killer’s. I followed her to work, to a bar afterward and sat near her and her friends. She was popular, your sister, people all around her. I caught up to her near the bar, offered to buy her a drink. She declined. I tried to use my charm. She rebuffed me. Finally, I took her arm, like this." I grabbed Carla's arm and gently pulled it toward me. She didn't resist, her eyes clued to mine. "I warned her to stay away from midtown if at all possible, not to go out at night alone. I told her she was in danger and I wanted to help her.”
My grasp on Carl’s arm grew tighter as I talked.
“I told her I was a friend. That something bad was going to happened if she didn’t leave town.”
Carla’s arms were up, off the table now as I held them. She jerked away, giving me a disgusted frown. I immediately raised my hands in a conciliatory gesture. Glaring at me for a second, she rubbed her wrist and sat back in her chair.
“No need for theatrics,” she said. “It’s contemptible and untrustworthy.”
I shook my head. “I’m sorry. It’s a gut reaction. I see bits of the dream when I think about it. I've lived with it for months.”
“And you never went to the police?”
“You know what the police do with someone who comes in and foretells a crime? They arrest him after the crime is committed.”
Again she looked startled. I remained silent. The small tree in front of the building moved as the wind picked up, forcing loose a few anemic leaves.
“I don’t know why I called you,” She said after a few seconds.
“That was quick. That’s pretty much how you felt the last time we talked.”
“It’s just too weird. I’m sorry. You’re stranger. A strange, stranger mixed up in my life in the worst possible way. There’s nothing…”
“Nothing, no way to…”
“Make it better?”
“Make you better.”
“I see. Thanks.”
“That’s not what I mean. The circumstances suck.”
There was an awkward silence.
“Okay,” she said finally, “My idea is to hire a private investigator and have him pick your brains, follow any and all leads.”
“Oh, okay,” I said, suddenly crest fallen, aware she had no intention of working with me directly. “Look, I’m sorry I grabbed your arms," I offered.
“And I’ll pay you for your time, like I said.”
“You said that, yes.”
Suddenly she wasn’t hearing me at all. She stood and put her black leather gloves back on her long fingers. “We’ll call you.”
“You do that.” I remained seated. “I’ll get this.” I pointed to the check.
She glanced down at it, turned and walked away.
My nerves were tingling. I felt high on adrenaline or caffeine or both. I didn’t know her, but every cell in my body wanted to follow her out that door. Like rusting unused bolts to a magnet, I was drawn to her. I jumped from my seat and walked quickly after her. As I turned the corner outside the cafe, I got a glimpse of her at the end of the block. I jogged up to her and started talking.
“You’ll be wasting your money, you know.”
She kept walking. I took stride next to her.
“I mean, you’d be paying someone for what I do anyway. You’d be paying me for what I already do.”
“Come again?” She asked.
“Look, I’m a detective. You’re going to pay another detective to pick my brain and act upon that information?”
She stopped and looked at me.
“I just think you’d be paying out twice what you should.”
“You’re a detective?”
“Yes,” I lied. “Well, almost. I’m taking the licensing exam this week.” I lied again.
“I thought you were a psychic?”
“I hate that word, but yes, I am a kind of psychic.”
“And now you’re a detective?”
“Soon to be licensed. But I’ve been tracking people down for years. It’s what I do.”
She looked up at the sky, as if searching for answers.
“Look, I recently had a break through," I continued. "By experimentation I was able to bring myself into a dream about a particular subject. That’s never happened before. Usually, the subject just comes to me and I have no say about who it is, but now I have the ability to focus on an individual and see them in a my dream state.”
“How do you know this dream is what really happened, not some fantasy?”
“I’ve never been wrong. I see it as it happens, or as it has happened. If I go back and look at a dream, sometimes I can control it, stop it, and see it from different angles. Even identify faces, license plate numbers. Sometimes I see a date; a number jumps out at me, like on a calendar.”
She seemed unsure.
“Okay, you think about it,” I said. “I’m not going to force you to do anything you don’t want to do, but really, I’d rather not go through another individual, least of all a detective. A middle man will just muck up the works.”
She thought a second, and then said, “I’ll let you know.”
“You have my number. Call me when you’re ready.”
“Okay,” I said. “See you.”
I turned and walked away wondering if I’d ever hear from her again.
In our society there are takers and there are those who contribute. Nine times out of ten, it’s a taker who sniffs out the life of a giver. I didn’t expect anything different in Emma’s case. As I looked into her background, the more I discovered, the more I admired her. She’d gotten a degree in economics from NYU and was working toward her masters at the time of her death, all the while holding down various jobs. Most recently she’d been a teaching assistant at her ala mater. Because teaching assistants generally earn less than seventeen thousand a year, she’d been working as a part-time short order cook at Café Classic, hence the memoriam poster I’d seen on the wall there. I figured I’d start at the café and work my way over to the school. I wasn’t going to wait for Carla to call, nor was I going into a dream state if I didn’t have to. I’d had enough bad dreams and bloody noses to last a while. Hopefully, when Carla did call, I’d be ready with as much background information as I’d need to get a running start on the case. That was when the phone rang with a call that would change everything.
Posted by Chuckh at 12:21 PM
Saturday, February 12, 2011
We had 16 people. Two models. We worked four days, two days on each model. She did a wonderful demo the first day. She asked us to not post any photos of her demo, so I don't have anything to show, but it was gorgeous. The first two days I did the painting of the female model. I struggled a bit as I was pretty far away and was having trouble seeing the details of her face. But as the time wore on I was seeing more and more. For the second model I was a few feet away and it was easy to see his face. Loved that! Rose is a dear, wonderful gal and I would highly recommend her workshops. Well worth the time and money. She is a true living master! Her knowledge of color alone is worth the cost of tuition.
Nearly finished last day.
Had a great week working with the master painter Rose Frantzen. She's a bundle of energy and a great teacher as well as artist. Took her lessons to heart and had a great week.
Nearly finished last day.
Had a great week working with the master painter Rose Frantzen. She's a bundle of energy and a great teacher as well as artist. Took her lessons to heart and had a great week.
Posted by Chuckh at 1:00 PM
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
In this posting we learn more about Millar's charcter, and August has a trip in "dream state" to a watering hole...where a girl drowns.
Got To Run!
Allen the bartender was in one of his rare good moods. He greeted me with a wink and asked me if I wanted my usual pint of ale. I nodded with a half smile and sat next to Millar, who evidently had just finished a burger.
Wiping grease and ketchup from his chin with a stained napkin, he said, “I’ll try another one, too, please.”
I sniggered to myself and then gave Millar a serious look.
“What exactly does that mean, I’ll try another one? Was that one no good? Don’t they all taste the same? Is one bottle of stout different from every other bottle of the same brand?”
Turning to me with a slight grin on his face he said, “I’ve been trying to figure that out for years.”
“Exactly. It takes years, even for a discerning palette like mine, to adapt, conceptualize, catalogue and present findings on these matters.”
“I am so happy you're happy in your work.”
“Oh, don’t be happy for me, I hate my work. It’s a burden. I bear this only that others may not have to.”
“And when does this great volume, this tome, this wondrous work from the master of beer tasting come out?”
“Ah, I feel like shit.” Standing up, he bent at the knees. “Oh, oh!” is all he could manage. Stumbling a few steps toward the bathroom, he stopped and said, “Oh!” again and then disappeared into the head.
I turned back to the bar and said to no one, “Thanks for the drama.”
Allen stood at the end of the bar, staring at a taped soccer game.
“Hey, Al, how goes it?”
“All right,” he answered not turning away from the game.
“How about another beer for my friend, here, Al?”
“Right, coming right over.”
Allen continued to stare up at the game. I waited to see how long it was going to take for him to serve his only two customers.
Millar sat back down next to me and said, “Whew that was a close one.”
“Spare me the details.” I tapped on the bar and said, “Al, how about that beer for my friend here?”
Allen grabbed a bottle, popped it open and walked over to us. Placing the bottle in front of Millar, he leaned down and stared in my face, his buggy eyes bulging out at me.
“My name is Allen, not fucking Al! You got that? Don’t ever call me Al or tap on my bar again, you got it?” His pallor was scarlet. Huge sweat stains outlined his armpits. The veins on his neck were popped out, making him look like a great snapping turtle.
I put my hands in the air and said, "Sorry."
Swaggering back the cash register and again taking his position beneath the TV, he propped his foot up on a milk crate, elbow on his knee, and stared at the soccer game.
“What the heck was that?” I asked.
Millar just shook his head. “Too many vitamins.”
“Too many roids.”
Millar leaned in and whispered, “Don’t worry about old Allen. I got a fix on him.” Then he winked and turned toward the kitchen doorway. Manuel, the day cook looked at Millar and nodded. He then carried a ramekin perched on a small plate over to the bar.
“What’s this?” I heard Allen inquire.
“Chocolate pudding. 70% cocoa. No sugar, no dairy. Made with soy milk, just the way you say.”
Allen managed a smug smile, nodded to Manuel and turned back to his game.
Millar whispered to me, "He gets a shot of that, he’ll be cleansed for days.” A rumbling chortle rose from his chest, followed by a fit of coughing.
I squirmed on my stool. “Why would you want to do that?”
“The fucker deserves it. I had Manuel put some laxatives in there. I’ve seen my cousin do the same thing. It’s funny.”
I wasn’t laughing.
“How do I know you won’t do the same to me?” I asked.
“You aren’t a prick. Manuel can’t stand him, either. He’s a prick to the whole kitchen staff.”
“How has he managed to keep his job, if he’s so unpopular?”
“Cousin to the owner or something, I don’t know.” Millar lost some of his humor as he stared at the ramekin of laxative pudding. “Just enough to teach him a lesson.”
I took a swig of my ale. “It’s only a lesson if he knows he’s getting it and who it’s from.”
“You want me to tell him? Oh, I’ll tell him, right after his third trip to the john.”
“That’s cold, man.”
“Yeah, but ain’t life a bitch?” Millar wiped the top of his fresh beer bottle on a sleeve and took a long slug. We surreptitiously watched the ramekin for a while and finally I asked, “What can you tell me about The Fat Man, Frank?”
“I told you all I know.”
“He’s a member of an online astrology club, and that’s it?”
“I can make some inquires if you want. Ask some of the other members about him.”
“That’d be good, Mill. This guy is turning out to be a freak, and I want to know if I should just walk away.”
Mill poked me in the ribs. “Oh, shit!”
Allen dipped a spoon into the pudding. Mill rumbled into muted laughter. I got up, finished my brew, put some money on the bar and turned to Mill.
“Let me know what you find out about The Fat Man, will you?”
Mill’s attention shot back to me for a second. “Huh? Oh, yeah, the group thing. I’ll ask around.”
I thanked him, and glanced at Allen just as he placed the empty pudding container on a kitchen tray. Then I walked out of the bar.
In my darkened bedroom, I spread the yellowed newspaper on the floor in front of me and laid down on my stomach to look at it. I couldn’t shake the image of Frank lying on his bed, his fat fingers joined over his bloated belly, eyes half closed as if he’d been saturated in opiates. Images of his room, and the hallway crowded with boxes, his fat pet cat rubbing on my pant leg, flooded my mind. Momentarily lost in these images, the tinny sound of blood dripping onto the paper brought me back to awareness. As I put a finger to my nostril, a sharp jolt of pain flashed through the center of my brain. I lost my orientation, and was swept into a vision.
Surrounding me were dark shadows, back lit in a moonless night. Trees framed the outline of a wooded clearing. Children laughing and talking unintelligibly echoed through the field. The sounds of water splashing, feet kicking, and another splash informed me of the direction I would take. In front of me, shadowy forms moved on gray horizon lines. A voice called,
“Frank, stop it!”
Instantly, I was in the pond. The coolness of rippling water caressed my ears and mouth. A small face appeared in front of me. Carole? I wanted to ask, but no voice would come from my throat.
“Frank, cut it out!”
I see the girl in the water. A shadow takes her under. The water moves slowly in circles round and round the pond and I fight to stay afloat. The vortex is pulling her under. She is choking, coughing, fighting for her life. Her struggle engulfs me and I take in the same water. My mouth opens and water pours in and fills my throat and sinus, drowning my senses in her screams. I am consumed in the echoes of her struggle. Then a quiet stillness, a dark figure standing on the shore. Slowly, I swim forward where banking meets the water. He is there, looking down on me, but I cannot see his face, only a mask blackness shaped vaguely in horror and disbelief. I rise up, floating far above the pond. Water gushes from my nose and mouth and I struggle to breath. The dark figure glares at me. Ignited in ruby red, the eyes follow me as I rise above the trees, far above the field and into the cold blackness beyond.
When I awoke, my nose was still dripping blood. I rolled onto my back on the bed and put an old t-shirt to my face. The trobbing in my head was slowly dissipating and when I recovered enough from this frightening dream state, I opened my eyes and found the newspaper. Slowly I turned the pages until I stopped on the obituary section. There I found mention of a young girl who’d drowned in a back woods swimming hole near the town of Manchester, New Hampshire. She was seven years old at the time and her name was Carole Cosh. The drowning details were not listed, but at the bottom of the column it read: She is survived by her Mother, Janet, her Father, Franklin and her older brother, Frank, Jr.
Could this be another of Frank’s relatives? Was this in fact, his sister? And if she were already dead, why would Frank tell me he feared for her life?
Peter the rabbit bore no resemblance to a real rabbit beyond its long elliptical ears and buck teeth. I wasn’t even sure rabbits had buck teeth, but they fit the face well. I pulled him toward me and gently rubbed the very convincing gold colored eyes. They were smooth glass, cold and secured tightly to the face. The fur was matted on the belly and back and almost completely gone on the sides. I searched the seams for any breaks in the stitching. On back of its head, I felt for any holes, rips or tears. I found nothing out of the ordinary. The rabbit was clean. “I’ve frisked a thousand young rabbits.” I said out loud thinking, of the line spoken by the corrupt policeman in The Godfather. I held a cold cloth to my nose and wondered what had sent me off into dream land. Had it been the newspaper? Or was it Peter the rabbit doing his job, as Frank had almost predicted? Either way, for some reason unknown to me, for the first time, I was able to conjure dreams at will. Well, not really at will, pretty much whenever they wanted to come, but I was able to influence who they were about. And that was a major breakthrough.
to be continued...
Posted by Chuckh at 10:46 AM
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The two men dripped sweat after the short chase. They sat in the patrol car, hot and miserable, in the mid-day heat. Officer Barrett wrote in his log.
The prisoner looked up and smiled. “Hey hombre, they say if you breathe in the smoke of the burning Pequena plant you will come face to face with the demons that hold you back, keep hidden in a world of shadows, far away from the life you truly should be. You know what I’m talking about?
Officer Barrett kept writing in his book and did not look up.
The prisoner continued: “You know, that gentle nibble, the irritation gnawing at your soul.”
Officer Barrett wiped sweat from his brow with a white handkerchief, and glanced in the rear view mirror at his prisoner.
“You got illegal plants, Golton?” Barrett asked.
“Illegal? That plant? No. Extinct in the wild, very endangered world wide.”
“The smoke sets you on a journey you wouldn’t believe. You like to try?”
“I know you don’t have anything on you, unless it crawled out your ass.”
“I know where to get it. Close by.”
“I don’t smoke amigo. But you keep talking like this, I’ll book you on more than just being a public nuisance and intoxication, understand?”
“I can get it for you now. You see what it can do.”
“Did wonders for you, huh?” Officer Barrett chuckled as he wrote in his log.
“You see what I mean? I have an offer for you that could change your life and all you can do is write in your police book. Why don’t you look around, Hombre? People are living other people’s lives.”
Barrett glanced in the side mirror for oncoming traffic and merged quickly onto the single lane highway from the shoulder.
Golton made a clucking sound with his tongue and rested his head against the back cruiser door. The desert heat penetrated the car and washed over the men in rippling waves.
“Hey Hombre, how about turning up the air in this bucket?”
“Don’t worry about it; we’ll be at headquarters in fifteen minutes.”
“You telling me you don’t have air?”
Barrett said nothing.
Golton kicked the seat and slumped down.
“You kick that seat again and I’ll close your window.”
The two men stared at each other in the mirror.
Golton hummed quietly the Spanish song, De Colores as he turned away and looked out the window.
Distant, low mountains tops gleamed in the desert sun. Sequoia cacti dotted the sparse landscape. The occasional tumble weed blew across the dusty road.
“I see a few lonely plants out there, Hombre. But none like the Pequena. She has the most beautiful flowers of any plant, more beautiful than the cactus flower. I can take you to see it.”
Barrett smiled into the mirror. Golton frowned. “Hey, these cuffs are hurting my wrists. Why don’t you fix them at the next stop?”
“Next stop for you is the jail.”
Barrett started to roll up the rear window.
“No, no! Please the air is all I need!”
The rear windows rolled back down and Barrett smiled into the rear view mirror.
Golton Nodded. “You have a heart, Amigo.”
They sat in silence for a mile or so. Golton coughed and sighed, then said, “The first time I tried the plant, it was such a beautiful day. It was at my Cousin Celia’s house in the back yard. We sat under some trees there and she pulled out the little dried piece of the Pequena. The air was thin and dry that day, too. Some clouds were trying to roll in from the foothills, but the sun was keeping away. Celia, she lit this little twig and pulled a shawl over us to breath in the smoke. I coughed and choked, Amigo. Oh, man my throat closed up and I could hardly breathe. But, that was when I saw her. She came to me under that tree. She appeared to me first from a cloud and took the shape of a beautiful woman with long flowing gowns. She had flowers in her hair. . I said to her, ‘Where do you come from?’ And do you know she looked right at me and her eyes sparkled, little silver sparkles like tiny bits of sun came from her eyes. ‘I have always been with you,’ she says. Then she spread her wings and covered me, she took me in her arms and…”
Barrett looked at Golton in the rear view mirror.
“She took you for a ride, huh?”
“No man, she made me see. I saw my life the way it should have been instead of all the way it is now. I was a different person. I was me, but a better me. Different…”
Barrett pulled his aviator glasses down his nose a bit and glanced at Golton. “Yeah, you weren’t a screw up anymore? That’s rich. Most drug trips just kill a few thousand brain cells, right amigo?”
Golton looked out the window. “You wouldn’t understand even if I told you the whole story. You would just laugh. People like you always laugh at people like me.”
“Laugh at drug addicts? I’m not laughing at you Golton, I’m laughing with you, you and your story.”
Golton began to cough. He gagged and choked and tried to catch his breath. Barrett pulled off to the side of the road and got out of the patrol car. Opening the back seat door, he leaned in to see to Golton, when the spray hit him squarely in the face. Barrett shot straight back and put his fingers to his nose and wiped. A fine dark purple power covered his finger tips. The earth began to spin. Round and round it went until he could no longer hold on, until he staggered back and fell.
“I forgot to tell you, Amigo, it comes in powdered form, too.” Golton laughed.
Barrett was rigid on the ground. His body convulsed once, and then went limp.
“Oh, shit, Amigo. Don’t die on me now. I still have to get you off the road.” Golton dragged Barrett around the back side of the cruiser and lay him face down in the dirt. He removed the keys to the cuffs and unlocked them from his wrists. “These hurt me, Amigo. For that you will pay.”
Gloton went trough the deputy’s pockets and found cigarettes and matches and lit one up. In the front seat he found a bottle of water and drank his fill. Water droplets tickled his nose and he rubbed his fingers under his nose and wiped. When he pulled his fingers back he saw they were purple. “No!” He said out loud and looked in the rear view mirror. The purple was in his nostrils and on his fingers. “Shit, shit!” Golton wiped his face on the deputy’s shirt. He found Barrett’s hanky and used it in each nostril, but it was too late.
Golton looked far across the desert plane and as far as he could see, a small dark cloud lingered in the distance. But soon that cloud was rising up. And he could see her coming. On a galloping cloud she rode. Her teeth bright white and clenched, her hair flowing back into the wind. In an instant she was there. Her wind horse screamed and the dust flew up into his face. She sat on the thundering horse cloud as it reared up before him. Her shadow cast him in darkness and the wind blinded him with sand. “Please leave me now! Please help me!”
She leaned forward on the swirling mass and spread her wings.
“Forgive me mother soul! I am a wicked man! Please. I know I have not done what I am supposed to do. I have failed you! Please!”
Her voice ran through him as an electric current would tickle skin. It yanked and pulled his flesh, yet was a smooth and comforting. A voice other worldly in gravity and charm. A voice that grounded him pinned him to the floor of the Earth and opened him as a frog on a dissection table. “You are. No more or less than eternal truth has created you.” She said. And it all went black.
A buzz reached is ear and pulled him through a dark tunnel back into the light. The voice was harsh and hard to understand. Then it came back to him that he was human and had ears and could hear and understand these words. “Come on, get your ass out of the car, I said!” Barrett pulled Golton from the car and steadied him as they walked to the police station door. Golton strained to open his eyes. They stung and felt filled with sand as he tried to concentrate on Barrett’s commands.
“I don’t know what stunt you pulled on me, Golton. But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let you get away with it. Assault on an officer is a serious charge!”
“Hey, Amigo. I’m glad to see you’re all right. I thought maybe you had a bad accident or something. Last I saw you, you were lying by the side of the road.” Golton said, as they made their way to the processing room. Barrett sat Golton at a chair and cuffed his hands to the table there.
“Hey, Amigo. Have I told you about the Pequena, the lady in the wind? She comes to me and tells me when things are going to happen.
“Yeah? Did she tell you you’re gonna spend a few days in lock up?” Barrett said as he filled out a form.
Another voice charged the air. “Barrett, what the hell happened to you?”
“Nothing, Sarg. I got the wind knocked out of me is all. Damn little prick hit me with some kind of spray.”
“Yes. Yes, she tells me many things, Amigo.” Golton said out loud but not so loud as to be heard.
"Well, you look like shit." The voice said. "Barrett? Barrett!"
Golton still could not see, but he heard now a banging, a fall. Men scuttled toward him and then to Barrett. They said things like, “Get the EMT’s. And, “Put his feet up.” He heard the chest compressions being performed. More men scuttling back and forth and the far off siren as it raced across the desert toward them.
“Hey, Amigo? Are you still there?”
A voice called, “Somebody get him out of here!” And Golton was being led to a cell. The blurry path to the back was lined in tan uniforms and shiny guns and badges as the whirling sounds of life and death played out in back of him.
“Amigo. Don’t fight it, Amigo. I see now what she told me. Yes, she told me she was coming. For you, I guess. I thought it was me. But she covered me with her wings. It must have been you, Amigo. You! You see? The Pequena Senora, she never lies. I told you, Amigo. She sends you on a trip, eh?” Golton laughed and coughed. “A trip, eh?”
Golton grew suddenly tired and rested his head on the bench in his cell. The sirens were there now, just outside his door, but they could not keep him awake. They could not bring him back. He fell slowly into the desert's swirling winds, covered only by her wings. Protecting him from all that will ever be.
Disclaimer: The Pequena Senora is NOT a real plant, it is not used to get high or smoke or ingest in any way and does not make you high. No drugs or plants should be used for any kind of ingestion. This story is fiction.
Posted by Chuckh at 11:44 AM
Friday, January 14, 2011
The door to Frank’s apartment was ajar. He’d buzzed me in and apparently left it that way for me to walk in, so I did. The room was stuffy and dark, boxes lined every wall and into the hallway. Walking to his bedroom gave me the sense of a carnival fun house, walls leaning and tipping in various directions, floors creaking as I went. I followed the faint light into his bedroom and sat down in the same chair at the foot of his bed, but Frank was not there. I called his name and heard a muffled reply coming from what I assumed was the bathroom. I took the opportunity to look through a few boxes. Old newspapers were folded and stacked neatly in every top box I saw, except for one that held old “Life” magazines. I flipped through the first few and found nothing to catch my eye. They were mostly dated from the 50’s and late 60’s. One had beautiful color prints from the battle of Iwo Jima. Next to the magazine was an old Manchester News from the early seventies. I reached in the box and pulled out three more of the same issue, all dated July, 17, 1972. And then I noticed the one opened lying on the floor at the foot of his bed. I stuffed a copy under my coat.
“Great stuff, isn’t it?”
I was startled to see Frank standing in the doorway. I hadn’t even heard the floors creak.
“Oh, yeah. Incredible detail in these photos.” I picked up the Life magazine.
“That Iwo Jima photo shoot was something special. Printed in the 1968, I bet.”
I looked at the date and he was correct.
“I never asked, are you a writer, Frank?”
“I am. Graphic novels, mostly.” He pointed to a poster of what I assumed was one of his covers. The title, AUGUR! in blood red ink, was scratched across the top of the page. Below that stood a hooded figure raising a large walking stick up to the sky. A flock of birds flew overhead and into the distant hills. Two names appeared at the bottom of the page. McNaughlty appeared on the left and to the right the name, Finn. I shook my head in the affirmative and sat back down in the chair.
“Are you Finn or McNaughlty?” I asked.
“Neither,” he said in an annoyed tone.
Not wanting to press the matter, I asked him if he liked to read, an ironic question considering his décor.
“I’m a veracious reader. I consume everything, as you can see. I can’t seem to throw anything away. I’m always afraid I may need it for reference or I may not finish a periodical and set it aside, never to return. But in my mind, I know I will return, so I keep it handy.”
Looking at the stacks of newspapers and boxes, ‘handy’ was not exactly the word that came to mind.
“They have computers for this type of library now, you know.”
Frank’s smile disappeared and he sat heavy on the bed.
I’d forgotten the rabbit, or maybe I just want to hold onto it for a little leverage, incase I was in trouble.
“He’s safe,” I said.
“Safe? What do you mean safe?” Frank’s startled look caught me off guard.
“I mean, he’s safe at my apartment. I have him in a bag, ready to go, but I forgot to take him at the last minute.”
“You have him in a bag?”
I gave him a gentle nod that said, ‘Sorry, I’m really not a stuffed animal abuser.’
“He’s very old and fragile. I thought I told you that. Be careful with him. And I thought you were going to use him to entice a dream?”
“And I did,” I said quickly.
“I said to bring him!”
Frank’s perturbed look softened into a general calmness. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“It lowers blood pressure.”
I nodded, and then asked, “The rabbit?”
“The breathing!” He said, looking at me like I was an imbecile.
Frank’s exasperated mood was not conducive to doing business. I decided to lighten things a bit.
“I really like that rabbit. It seems nice. How long have you had it?”
Franks eyes slowly moved in my direction, not quite finding my face.
I continued, “Its fur is a little matted. It must be old. It’s interesting the way its not a hunched up rabbit on all fours, they way you’d think of a rabbit, but it looks more like a teddy bear rabbit, except it has big rabbit ears…”
Weariness is all that comes to mind. I was making him weary.
“I had an interesting dream,” I said.
A jolt went through my nerves and my heart started beating faster. What the hell was I doing?
“Tell me about this, dream…” And he lay back onto the bed, closing his eyes.
“Well…” I swear a minute ticked by and neither one of us moved, gave a look or said anything. Sweat dripped from my upper lip into my mouth. My eyes wandered around the room searching for a starting point. The dream I had just didn’t seem useful or even something I wanted to share with him. After a while Frank cleared his throat. I coughed. And it occurred to me he didn’t get many visitors. Maybe he was just enjoying having some company? That gave me some courage to explore.
“I saw something very interesting.”
“Yes, go on.”
“I have a few questions, though.”
He sat up and looked at me; his large round eyes appeared even bigger than usual.
“Was your sister your twin?”
“Not even close.” His tone was a bit surly as he lay back down.
“Okay, then was she younger?”
“And you had a good relationship?”
“What do you mean, had?”
“Oh, sorry. How is your relationship now?” I asked.
“As opposed to before?”
“You said ‘as opposed to,’ and I asked, opposed to what?”
“As opposed to nothing. Move on, will you?”
I let a few seconds of silence go by to capture the mood again.
“Yes. The room is dark now,” I started.
Frank popped open an eye, apparently to check the light, then closed it.
“So dark now, so dark. Oh look, a magazine. A woman in her thirties. She wears red lipstick and a kerchief on her head.”
I was studying an illustration on the back of an old Life magazine that lay in the box in front of me.
“Her lips are puckered and she seems acutely aware something is amiss.”
Frank popped open an eye, and said, “What the fuck are you doing?”
“There’s a baby boy,” I added quickly. “And I see a baby girl.”
“Okay!” Frank sat up again. “Is this something you’re seeing now or is this what you dreamt, because I thought you told me you don’t do trances, and there’s nothing I hate more than a phony, you understand me? You start making shit up and I’ll have you out on your ear so fast…”
Startled, I immediately went into recovery mode. It didn’t matter that I was scared shitless of this reclusive fatty. That he was sending people to my house to take pictures and had a strange affection for a stuffed rabbit named, Peter. All I saw was me losing again; Losing a job, an employer, a gig. I was drenched in flop sweat. Being good enough to entice him further was my driving force. Lies were starting to ensnare me. I had to untangle myself before it got wrapped too tightly. I didn’t care so much about Motorcycle Jacket taking pictures of my apartment; I just didn’t want to lose a customer. I wanted this gig! So I decided to tell the damn truth. What the hell, I had nothing else!
So, I paced the small open area in front of his bed determined to lay it all out there.
“Okay, Frank. I didn’t want to tell you, but I saw you push your sister off the page of the magazine, okay? You were just babies, in diapers I would guess. You were jealous and you pushed her off. And your mother was there and yes, she did have red lipstick and a fifties style hairdo.”
A few seconds ticked of silence ticked by.
“I was in a magazine?” he asked.
“Yes. Well, I saw your baby pictures and they came to life.”
“In the magazine?”
“Yes. A full color spread.”
“And we moved, like in a movie?”
“Yes. You moved, in a cartoon-like movie and you crawled over to your sister-“
“How do you know it was my sister,” he interrupted.
“Well, I don’t. I just assumed.”
“Yes, yes, go on.”
“And your mother was there. Kind of an iconic looking female figure of the early sixties, I would guess.”
“And you pushed her, your sister, off the page.”
“And my mother, what did she do?
That was a good question, I didn’t notice that.
“Nothing, that was the end of the dream.”
“Yes, that’s all I have.”
Frank closed his eyes. There was a thickness to the air. The pause seemed to weigh on my chest. “Does that make any sense?” I asked, finally.
Frank took an enormously deep breath and looked out the window.
Seemingly impressed, mystified and weary all at the same time, he slowly walked into the kitchen. I followed close behind. He stood at the open door, apparently waiting for me to take leave. I walked into the hallway and turned to face him.
“Dream some more. I’ll call you. Use Peter.”
Frank held out a fifty dollar bill. I looked at it, not wanting to take it.
“What’s that for?”
“I want you to come back.”
A flush ran through my cheeks. I felt like a prostitute. “I’ll come back. I don’t need your money.” I choked on the last few syllables.
“You dreamed. Dream more, that’s all.”
I looked at the bill he held so politely in his fat fingers.
“Here, take it, you’re making my arm tired.”
Frank stuffed the bill in my hand, patted my back and shut the door, and that was that. I had my first paying customer. And I felt dirty all over.
Posted by Chuckh at 11:36 PM
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The above painting is a water color attributed to Hilter. When I look at it, I have to ignore the creepy feeling I get and concentrate on the art. Was he talented? Perhaps he had some talent, but any amount of talent, great or small must be developed and honed through many years of practice. Good health, clear eyes and mind help with this process. Best to try and learn to paint at a younger age. Fine art can be subjective, but I find nothing of great interest in this painting. It seems workman like in approach. There are some of the classic tricks a painting generally adheres to in order to trick the eye. Make the back ground surfaces lighter and more vague than the foreground. Vary the shapes, including the shading, etc. But the main problem with this painting, I think, is the shape and size of the paper it is on. The focal point is the mountain, but the more interesting aspect would have been how the trees and foreground lead into a majestic hill. The square shape of the paper does not permit this to happen. Another problem is the smaller hill. It looks like a green blob and takes away from the larger focal point of the mountain. The general feeling one gets looking at the painting is that of coldness, even though it was probably painted in the summer. There is greenery, but muted and a bit muddy. Generally, my gut feeling toward this painting is negative. I would never want to hang it in my house. Would you?
Posted by Chuckh at 1:12 PM
Thursday, January 6, 2011
I had occasion to take a life study class. It gave me good practice for short studies. I had not worked a lot in charcoal and it took me a while to find a comfort zone. Unfortunately, the class was not set up for long pose. The most I was able to work on any of them was about 3 hours or so. Not enough time to do a detailed finished portrait, but more of a skill building exercise. These are some of the longer poses. There are many very quick pose drawings that were done in the class that aren't for posting. I plan on taking a long pose drawing class with Dan Thompson this April. Will be working in pencil for that and hopefully have a much more finsihed drawing.
Posted by Chuckh at 9:32 PM
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Taking a portrait painting workshop this Feb at Scottsdale artists school with the amazingly talented Rose Frantzen. This was the one workshop I couldn't miss. Very excited to get back to painting after taking a 3 month drawing class.
Posted by Chuckh at 3:43 PM