Friday, June 27, 2008


The ocean sparkles a deep turquoise to the left of the highway. The tall white building rises into the empty blue sky to its right.
It appears to be a resort hotel. Poised with dignity and elegance it offers an awe striking view of the surrounding natural beauty. One jarring inconsistency. Instead of "Valet Parking", the red sign reads EMERGENCY SERVICES.
The cars in the parking lot are arranged neatly in their spaces. Little metal soldiers of red, yellow, blue, black, silver, and white, waiting for orders. The sparkling sun gleams off of their glossy frames and warms the clean black asphalt with its white painted lines. Little concrete lined islands are brimming with orange birds of paradise, red hibiscus, and squatty palms, their fronds spread out like green hands with long pointy tipped fingers.
The glass entrance doors slide open with a hiss. Red upholstered chairs, magazines on rectangular glass table tops with beveled edges, an empty half moon shaped reception desk. A sign over the wall mounted container of hand sanitizer reads: "For Your Convenience". No germs in this hospital.
No signs of life. No nurse. No doctor. No receptionist. Not even germs. Who owns the cars in their spaces?
Further down, beyond the abandoned reception area, a hall under construction. Yellow caution tape. Hand made arrows on children’s craft paper directing the detours. A solitary man in blue scrubs is buffing the dusty floor. His face is turned down to his work showcasing the bald crown of his head encircled by a ring of sparse black hair. A family, faces contorted by concern and bewilderment, moves hesitantly along the corridor. Trying to get to their dying loved one, they pause to look up at the incomprehensible overhead signs, lost in the echoing halls.
An elevator with steel doors. Passersby avoid getting into that elevator. Not now. Not here. It will not take them anywhere they would want to go.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stained Woman

She lays upon a stretcher within the cozy confines of a white ambulance. The thin hospital mattress is covered in a white fitted sheet, its unfitted match covers her below the torso, hiding her spread legs and swollen belly. The emergency vehicle is parked in an abandoned parking lot in an equally desolate section of town. There are no sirens, no speed or haste. The back double doors are open, allowing the quiet breeze to enter the small rectangle. Her torso is uncovered by the sheet, but she wears two blue cotton T-shirts layered upon each other. Over the T-shirts, she has on a blue hooded sweatshirt and a green feather down vest on top of that. Her clothes indicate the cold, but outside, the sky is an unclouded blue and the sun continues to beat upon the black asphalt surrounding the vehicle. Inside the light is dim, illuminated only by the residual light of the day streaming in. A soft breeze enters and lingers, gently touching her face.
The blinking lights from the dashboard continue to flash red and blue and green. Every now and then, a bit of static comes through the radio, kkkkkchhhh….it lasts for a couple of seconds then stops as suddenly as it began. The pillow beneath her head is packed to the seams with fluff, being unrelenting in girth, her head as fallen almost completely off the pillow. Her torso and head lean at a diagonal angle to the left. She moans with pain, unable to control her neck and the heaviness of her head. Her forehead drips with beads of sweat, tiny glistening drops roll from her hairline, down her cheeks, collecting at the tip of her nose teetering on the brink of collapse. Her eyes are open just slightly, giving the faintest indication of consciousness. The eyelids flicker occasionally, but mostly, they remain still and just barely open. Her hair is straight, cut in a strawberry blond bob that reaches just above her shoulders. Her hair is tousled and tangled in the back and because of the drooping angle of her head off the pillow, strands from the right side of her face have streamed over her face to the left, creating diagonal wet lines of hair upon her pale white face. A sprinkling of tan freckles and sunspots dot her nose.
She stares at nothing, consumed by pain but unable to move or scream. Within the silence of the vehicle, she whimpers. After a moment of silence, she moans. There is a red blood stain across her lips. The blood is fresh and wet, still glistening bright in the reflecting light of the windshield. Her mouth is covered in a red gagged puddle of thin liquid, it reaches her upper lip and has stained her chin. She whimpers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hanged Man

There is a roaring blue ocean that churns and roars like a thousand caged lions. Small waves peak and fall. Blue is everywhere, deep and dark, yet smooth as glass. Wind whips the waves like a sadistic lover, shaping cries of frothy white mist and gurgles of surging turquoise foam. Long tails of slick green seaweed undulate like thin dancers just below the surface. The smell on the wind is strong, the scent of moss covered mermaids and Neptunian life is heavy and thick, drifting for miles up the coast.
Sunlight beats down on the essential element, but despite its best efforts, the water remains cold. The shore is a thin strip of land 30 feet wide. It’s covered in small gray and black pebbles and an occasional black seashell. Seagulls rest on the warm rocks and every once in a while, a gull cry is heard. The rocky land ends at a dramatic cliff wall that rises from the sand at a 90 degree angle. Mostly made of sandstone, it glitters in the bright light and small flecks of coral colored sand sparkles.
The bluff above is covered in tall grasses. Long stalks of green, yellow and the various shades between them mingle on the unused land. The wind whips them as well, blowing them left, right…then pressing the blades hard against the earth. They dance endlessly in the constant display of wind power. From the sea, the land rises at a gentle slope towards the west. For each mile, the earth tilts another degree. Up and up it grows, the land remains a constant blanket of two-hued grass. Twenty miles from the water, the land comes to a peak. It is a soft hill, resembling the peak of a woman’s hipbone covered in soft flesh.
Upon the round hill is a structure. It is not a building exactly, there are no distinct walls, doors, or windows. There are levels, distinct floors created with the main building material, metal rods fashioned into large triangles. Each floor is made of 12 upside-down triangular pieces that create the structural base. It is wide, about a hundred feet in length and it continues beyond the limits of sight into the sky.
From the lowest level, a man hangs upside down by one bare foot. His toes are curled over the metallic rod that creates the base of the triangle. The toes of his right leg clutch the rod as the rest of his leg extends straight towards the earth. His left leg is bent and the knee and the bottom of his foot is pressed against his left inner right thigh. The palms of his hands are pressed together, over his heart. On his right wrist, is a black plastic bracelet. His arms are tan and the hairs adorning them have been bleached by the sun. He is young, perhaps twenty four at the most. Dirty blond dreadlocks are wrapped in a high bun atop his head. His feet are bare and tan, his toes dirty from his shoeless lifestyle. Threadbare tan pants are rolled up to his calves.
He hangs… quiet, alone. Above him, the structure looms with power. It appears transparent and empty, without walls or people. But that is only the surface image. The tower is teeming with hidden tunnels, living quarters and life.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


There is the sound of a shoe heel making contact with a wooden floorboard. After a couple seconds, there is another distinct sound. A subdued orchestra of shoe heels moves through the large high-ceilinged room. Without any obvious beat or rhythm, they come in scattered intervals, filling the otherwise quiet space. Dozens of people are milling about slowly, their attention turned exclusively to the many shelves of books. No one is talking, each is lost in their own world of words and paper. Just the sound of slow footsteps and the soft turning of a book page is audible. The soft gold-tinged light of late afternoon filters in through the overhead skylights, the sweet light electrifies the colored book spines and they glow from their resting spots like dilated animal eyes, aglow with possibility. Like the reading room of kings, the walls are completely covered in dark wooden bookshelves. The periphery of the room is a colored spectrum of rectangular book spines that stand neatly upright on their deep shelves. The walls reach at least twenty feet high, and the shelves, crowded with books, reach to the place where wall and ceiling converge. There is not a trace of wall in this house of books, where it not for gravity, the ceiling space would be in use as well. Rolling ladders have been installed to the upper-most wooden shelf lip to facilitate the browsing of books closer to the heavens. This is a well-ordered bookstore, where books of the same genre are grouped together and books are alphabetized by author.
Every stone’s throw, there are plush, high backed armchairs against the bookcases/walls. Each well-worn mauve velvet chair is occupied with a reading patron, and other customers sit with their legs crossed on the floor, browsing through potential purchases. Within the center of the room are islands of wooden tables. The tables are spaced far enough apart so customers can walk and flow around them, checking out the literature from all sides of the table. The tables are old and heavy, with thick sculpted legs and beautiful honey colored wood tops. Just a sliver of tabletop is visible beneath the well organized stacks of books. Each table is devoted to a specific genre. Children’s literature, new releases, mythology…the I Ching is on the corner of a table. A woman in her twenties, with tan skin and long dark hair browses the table with intensity, looking for something specific. There is a small two-shelf black rolling cart, the kind usually found in libraries. A handful of red paperback books has fallen from the cart. The books lay in a scattered pile upon the floor.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thirsty Sea Demon

Beyond the sliding glass doors, a rickety dock extends into the water like a wooden tongue thrust from the mouth of the little modular home to probe the briny blue. The rectangular frame of the house and its petite stature make it seem to be hardly more than a box of animal crackers perched precariously at the lip of a swimming pool made to churn by riotous children. Its paneling is light tan, the trim around the sliding glass door is white. The flat roof supplies a scant awning from which a few potted ferns and a spider plant dangle.
There is something of a small porch here, barely wide enough to accommodate a lawn chair composed of yellow and blue plaid vinyl lattice. Four wooden steps drop down from the porch and connect the house to the dock. The dock itself is dark with moisture, its many thick round barnacle covered legs reach down into the hidden green depths. Each plank is wide and riddled with Swiss cheese holes flanked by rusted iron bolt heads. The wood is interrupted by weathered lengths of thick double braided rope interlacing the planks. Along one side, an ancient mariner’s net hangs rotting like the veil of some gargantuan maritime witch. The wind whips wildly about, agitating the surf and setting a wind chime hung near the spider plant into an ecstatic frenzy of jangling.
The waves rock the old dock violently. Above their dark blue orgiastic rampage, high cloud cover darkens and creeps from horizon to shore at a snails pace, driving them increasingly into greater excitement. They grab at the little dock and rock it like the eager and ungovernable hands of a giant.
Out at the end of its length, a woman is balanced with her long legs poised in a wide sprawl. It is the caricatured stance of a cowboy in a standoff. The muscles of her calves, legs, and thighs work to keep her braced atop the dock. The white shorts she wears encapsulate and just barley conceal her tensed buttocks. Her canary colored open necked sweatshirt hangs from one shoulder, revealing the lines of the white racer tank top worn underneath.
In one hand, she holds a dark green corked bottle, raised outward as she shouts commandingly into the wind and at the wall of waves. With the free hand she gestures to six or seven terra cotta pots arranged in a semi circle around her at the docks end. Some of the pots are empty, while others contain only black soil and the withered remains of some long dead plant.
A few are home to sickly pale twists of Jade, made unhappy by their exposure to salty sea spray. They are of various shapes and sizes. Some are in perfect condition. Others are stained and chipped and bear painful long cracks in their sides. Her long blond hair ripples on the wily wind currents, hovering around her head like a flame atop a candle’s wick.
Before her, the waves are suspended, looming over her comparably delicate body and the rickety deck. They have almost assumed the shape of a body, trembling with agitation. With aqueous creature mouths they seem to grin maniacally, then grimace, pointed ears of water flattened back like the ears of an angry cat, while the rest of the surrounding sea continues to froth and churn violently. It wriggles in animated swirls of surf, cerulean laced with white foam, directed upward and held together by supernatural force. In this awkward state of suspended animation, it listens intently to the woman’s shouting, and thus restrained, it watches with anticipation, the whole of its attention captivated by the green bottle of wine and the definitive gesturing.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


The gate blends almost seamlessly with the fence. Fashioned of some inexpensive wood, it is dark and splintery, unpainted, and unvarnished. It bears many dark grooves, like rough wrinkles in an old man’s face, weather beaten over the countless years since its erection. It is held closed by a small zinc latch secured with a bit of blackened wire. Within its unassuming embrace a garden is tended by nature’s caretakers. Big furry bumblebees, striped with bright bands of yellow and black, busy themselves over the whip-like tendrils of a lavender bush. True to the name, the blossoms are of varying hues of soft and deep lavender, while the stems and leaves of the bush are a frosty green under the coat of fine velvety hairs.
Butterflies with wings of orange and black lace flit lazily about, visiting first one flower, then another. Delicate black legs hold them poised upon branch or bloom as they gingerly extend a long glistening tongue into the secret bed of a flower and draw from it the sweet elixir of life. Tangled vines of musty smelling nasturtiums spill out over stone borders, creep up on faded green cacti and purple tipped succulents, run their long fingers through the dark beds of lavender and unruly humps of catnip. A fuzzy black caterpillar inches its way over the parched bark of a juniper shrub, its body undulating with the motion. In the shallow bowl of a plastic birdbath, a small, dark-eyed winged creature shakes and shivers its tail feathers. Tall elm trees drop clusters of black pods upon a multicolored assortment of natural river rock. They huddle together on the western side of the garden, excluding the sun from their private affair with the stones below.
In the center, concrete stepping stones are pieced together to form a square pathway. Each one bears an impression of a man in a sombrero resting in the shade of a saguaro. Tucked within its perfect perimeters, a vast patch of green grass gazes emptily upward at the blue sky way. Its starkness is marred only by a low-cut stump, the remnants of a once vibrant willow that fell prey to some disease. Now the plot of grass inadvertently serves as a memorial commemorating the life of a tree, its emptiness a nagging reminder of lost fullness.
Adjacent to the garden is a covered porch carpeted with sparkling clean AstroTurf. On one wall, there is a window which looks in through sheer draperies upon a dim master bedroom. On the other wall, a sliding glass door opens into a living room. Big daisy stickers adorn the glass. On a narrow sliver of wall between the glass door and the corner where the two walls join, six decorative flower pots are arranged on a shelf with six individual outcroppings for each pot. The pots themselves are empty, save for a thick layer of dust. Inside the living room, a silver haired old man and a much shorter white haired old woman are waiting. The man stands near the glass door. He is tall and his silver hair is dashingly curly. He wears a pair of overall shorts, in the style of an over grown boy. The buttons which connect the straps to the breast are over sized and fashioned of wood. The creases in his face are deep but soft. His skin is smooth, free of whiskers or stubble. The woman sits upon a chair, she wears a white sweater vest over a brightly colored moo moo. The carpet is a shag rug of a burnt orange color to match the butterfly’s wings.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Four Ways

The alley is clean of debris. A pale gray isle of concrete is flanked on either side by corrugated steel panels. They are free of graffiti and grime, only a faint chalky layer of undisturbed dust has settled on their matte surface. Here and there the corrugated panel give way to a stretch of chain link fence, revealing an urban expanse of concrete. These glimpses are ghostly, void of any movement, or even signs of life. No streets or sky scrapers may be detected; they are not there. Only a desert of abstract concrete plazas and occasional smatterings of chain link cloistered around empty yards of asphalt. The alley opens into such a plaza. It is covered by a large Constantinoplan dome which hangs over a concrete gazebo with yawning arches on four sides.
Where the alley meets one of these archways, a vendor is positioned with a box of round lollipops hanging from his neck. His hands are gloved with fingers exposed in black and purple striped stockings, which are just visible from under the cuffs of his dirty coat. He wears a dingy straw cap from the striped band of which dangles a silk flower, it’s yellow color blotted out behind darks smudges of grease and soot. A wrinkled red scarf is tied around his throat. A visible layer of soot is cast all over him. His toes poke from holes in his sock out of holes in the tips of his shoes. The brown tops separate from the soles like yawning hippos when he moves on his feet.
As people stream by out of the hall, he presses lollipops into their hands as if they are VIP passes. The trickle of individuals tends to clot were he stands dispensing the brightly colored confections with an air of importance.
Inside the plaza, barkers announce the attractions to be found beyond the other archways. One wears a black silk top hat and a worn red jacket coupled with dirty white leggings and high black boots. The jacket hangs open to reveal a dirty striped T-shirt worn over a roll of belly fat. It all hangs from him like a weathered second skin. He stands before a great wooden sign with white lettering inviting and beckoning the folks milling about in the plaza to pass through his archway.
There are other grubby looking vendors peddling their wares. Some hang back in the shadows, other linger in the center arresting the attention of all of those who pass their way. They sell all manner of oddities, silver spoons and old ties, empty cookie tins, and birds houses. Cigars and peanuts and candy are also to be had; there is even a glass walled popcorn cart with its polished silver kettle popping loudly behind the glass and red and gold lettering.
One archway leads to yet another tattered gentlemen pushing lollipops. Beyond him an auditorium with stadium seating is filling up with an assortment of people, young and old. Many are clustered together in groups; a pair here, a trio there, a quintet up front... Some seem to be families, others are packs of friends. A few are seated alone. Projected upon a screen at the front of the auditorium, a spy movie plays out. Much of its appeal lies in that it is a color remake of an older black and white film. Most of the viewers are engrossed in the well known story. Some move from one seat to another, unable to find the perfect spot. In the dim room, the furnishings are still very distinguishable. The carpet is goldenrod in color, clean but worn. The folding seats are all fashioned with faux wood laminate.
A lean man in a crisp dark suit, white shirt and tie, stands near the projector at the back of the room. The image from the screen dances as a reflection upon the lenses of his silver rimmed eye glasses. His posture is erect, his hair neatly trimmed. In his hand he holds note cards with facts about the movie, its plot, political implications, details about the performers, the director, the writer, and the producers.