Apartment 308 was occupied by the family of John-Philip, a cranky, skeletal guy with a mullet who worked the graveyard shift at a restaurant supply warehouse. His cheerful wife said she was studying to be a master mechanic, and she seemed to collect distressed and dirty fost(more)er children. It was John-Philip's dad, a long-haired mountain type, who alerted me to the problem with the grass. He lived in his Winnebago on the access road beside the property but tried to take afternoon naps in #308's living room.
"It appears that somebody has the sprinklers set to go off right around noon, which is puzzling because, with the direct heat of the sun, that water heats right up, and it basically cooks all this grass." I looked around at the yellow grass he was talking about, and I was suddenly puzzled too. In my job as de-facto maintenance supervisor I tended to be a little too hands-off and accepting of things like dead landscape and yellow jacket infestations. I'm sure I was also a little embarrassed because I, of course, was the "somebody" who decided when the lawn got watered. The irrigation controls never really did what I tried to ask them to do, so my watering schedule was based in large part on hope and avoidance.
I didn't say anything in defense of myself, and John Philip's father didn't say anything else to scold me.
I left the simmering lawn to go tend to something else that I wouldn't be able to fix. I have always had low self-confidence and a poor self-image. The old man opened the door to 308, and the TV blared the sounds of NASCAR and John-Philip screamed about somebody lighting fireworks in Heather's hair.
We both had bigger things to worry about than dead grass.(less)
Eyes blink open slowly. Scene flickers in. Eyes protest and shut again, this time with feeling. Beard scratch. Stretch. Giant exhale with a nice vocalized finish. Package scratch. Impressions of dream feelings, warmth from a sleeping dark-haired woman with a tiny baby in her arms comprise a crushing gravity(more) if any attempt at waking is made.
Lofting muscle back up onto the platform of pointy, creeky bones, now standing, naked, half-mast and tattooed. One foot follows another in find-the-bathroom-auto-pilot mode. Pee hits the water confidently. Another exhalation drags air across the vocal chords, louder this time, and pulls the face into a stretch which in turn forces the eyes all the way open. Mouth smacks twice then yawns oxygen into the stuttering engine.
Foot slap to the kitchen. Gas on. Kettle full. Coffee scoop still works. Yellow, tin, special mug with a name in sharpie on the bottom, almost rubbed off. Naked on a drum stool, slurping.
The sound of Al Jazeera pipes in, a tiny metal box gets pulled out. Green is friendly in a cruel 30 minutes. A stack of dream-crushing dirty dishes and a pair of Sears built-rights stare back at now wide blue eyes. Strolling back to the tiny bedded family now stretching in unison. Smiles threaten to open their eyes. He stands above in peace and readiness, taking another slurp. As the cup tips back to deliver, the bottom reveals faded leftover letters spelling "MAL".
Thanks for setting your dial to 82.3, KJKE -FM. I’m your host, Lucifer, and I’ll be with you until midnight. If you have a question, a problem, or whatever, I’d love to hear from you. We have lines open toll-free at 1-800-479-1117.
(more) I’ll be taking your calls in a minute, but first I want to clear a few things up.
Number one. Everybody -- stop asking me to buy your soul. I’ve moved on. Try Craigslist.
Second, I don’t “posses” people. When they act all crazy like that, it’s the sign of a malfunctioning brain, not devils work. Although I’ll admit that when it does happen, I like to just sit back and watch.
Next, that Rolling Stones song “Sympathy for the Devil?” It’s bunk. Every cop is a criminal? All the sinners saints? Give me a break. Jagger hasn’t done anything decent since “Ruby Tuesday.” And by the way, the flute on that one was my idea.
Fourth, just because the Yankees don’t win the World Series every year, doesn’t mean I’m not still in control of their destiny. I have to mix things up once in a while to keep from being too obvious.
Okay, all you parents who like to say that your kid is “a little devil?” You should be so lucky. Knock it off.
Finally, somebody keeps hacking my Facebook page and changing my relationship status. For the record, I’m married. That’s all you need to know.
All right, that takes care of that. My first caller is Bobby from Tukwila, Washington. Bobby's working on a science project, and wants to know how to determine the temperature at which hell would freeze over. Thanks for holding, Bobby . . .(less)
The hey has it been? Galen Bosch here, remember. Hi wasp, doled, like a seed, might, burning roll. Bright? Hunan killjoy, and I just want a dominant jean loaf. Lemming java now brown noose. Holds a fur string line. Don't you know Isle haste a plain daze worth? Long(more) john. Bold daylight air strike. Learning how wiener eating fire ants, one at a time, log savings time. Gore houses pile tire fire, non-stop, builds a rundown for the next night or so. If you wand a saddle crease, maybe not, still though. Watts the points? Get meshach welds you know specifics, about thyme, the time must, I am soda shirt. Again the tie of folds is shoulder high. Let he knowledge guzzles under her and Herman. OK? Thank sin advance, if I dome hear frog juice in the next date, I wilt half two ax sum wanderers two duel the job instant. OK, OK, I try.(less)
I watched movies where doctors in crisp, white overcoats would press their stethoscope against a patient's chest, listening for a sound. The sound was a thump...thump...thump, like the way spring rain sounds as it falls gently on the roof. That sound tell(more)s you you're alive.
Mine never made that sound. It was usually erratic, like a freight train barreling down the tracks, or it was slow, like the labored breath of a lover, quietly celebrating the denouement.
It was never normal. My heart was always malfunctioning.
Once, at 4 a.m., I left a lover's house, quietly tiptoeing down the hall to get my bags. "Where are you going?" he wondered. My hair tumbled into my face as I tried to look away.
"You seemed tired, and I didn't want my restlessness to keep you from sleep," I whispered, clutching my chest sharply. Then, I could hear it growling. I imagined my heart was a grizzly old man in a grease-stained tank, scolding me in a gruff, throaty tone.
Two years later I would see that erstwhile lover at the grocery store, happily pushing his cart with a tall, blonde woman who probably never tried to escape. I stared daggers at her as she placed a bottle of champagne in the cart. Do they drink that while watching the nightly news? Does he count his lucky stars I escaped into the darkness that night, my gimpy heart in tow?
Sometimes, when I feel as though I'm reaching the apex of joy, tilting my body just to touch it with my tongue, I always seem to slide down the mountain.
My heart, lurching forward in a frenetic vibration, always seems to push me away. Malfunctioning, gritty, sweat-stained thing that it is -- always conspiring, always broken.(less)
The robot invasion had been going on for days. People had been dying left and right, but not I. No, not I, for I had a trick up my sleeve.
Or, more accurately, in my basement.
(more) One of the robots had malfunctioned, and for some reason beyond my comprehension, gained human emotions because of it.
But who am I to complain? It saved my sorry ass.
When it came to 'eliminate' me, that's when it happened. I guess there must have been a loose wire or something? All of the sudden it just stopped in it's tracks, looked at me, and gave me a hug. I thought it was going to squeeze me to death. But nope, it had spontaneously decided to be my friend.
It's been living with me ever since. You'd think he'd be high maintenance, but he just kind of needs to be oiled every couple weeks. He warns me a long time in advance before the robots show up, and he covers for me.
The machine beeped, a warning to anyone close enough to hear. The light flashed, attempting to notify anyone who was there to see. It seemed to say Danger, Danger, Danger.
But no one was there. Everyone had left for the night and no one could heed the its(more) warning. It flashed on and beeped louder, trying to get someone attention.
But it was no use. No one was there. So the machine, as if it was human, gave up. “Emergency Shut Down Initiated.” an electronic voice announced. “Shutting Down.” And then the light stopped, and the beep was silenced. The screen went blank and the machine shut down, saving its self from its own danger since no one else could.