Bullshit Institute of Technology

"I read the news today, oh boy. The U.S. Army had not won the war. Crowds of people unaware. I could not make them care. I could not make them care."
- Day

“According to some sources the most beautiful university grounds in the United States belonged to BIT. The Bayou Institute of Technology was located in picturesque downtown Burton Rouge, the last bastion of the old south. Many people thought of the campus when they thought of BIT. Others knew the university only for its beloved football team, the BIT Moccasins. Those people who knew the college for its landscape and athleticism represented the mainstream, but a select number of students, alumni, locals and screw-ups thought of something quite different when they thought of BIT. They thought about Times Street.”

Meyer Reid stopped reading the stack of paper and put it down. He stared incredulously across the table at his friend, the author of the piece. Meyer took a deep breath and attempted to put his feelings into words. Finally he groaned, “Jeffrey, what is this shit?”

“That’s my novel, Meyer,” Jeffrey Simmons explained simply, as if those few words captured the essence of everything that lay on the table before Mr. Reid.

“That’s not what I mean, Jeff. I mean what the hell are you talking about? There’s no such thing as Burton Rouge or BIT or Times Street. Were you talking about Chimes Street? Were you trying to hide Baton Rouge behind a veil of bullshit?”

“You understood. I was worried it would be too cryptic,” Jeff sighed with relief.

“Are you listening to me? This is not good. This is not a good idea.”

“What do you mean, Meyer? You’ve only read the first paragraph.”

“That’s because I’m not a masochist, Jeff.”

“Wow. I never expected you to get personal, Meyer. You’ve got a lot of pent up hostility, don’t you? I mean, where else could this be coming from? I can see I made a mistake bringing you my work. Let me just collect my things and I’ll go,” Jeff said as he reached across the table for the stack of paper.

Meyer stopped him before he could pick it up. “You can’t leave. You said you would buy me lunch.”

“Oh, I see how it’s going to be. First you tear my heart out and then you go after my wallet,” Jeffrey complained, his consternation increasing by the second. He didn’t handle criticism well.

“Stop it, Jeff. How long have we known each other?” Meyer asked sweetly.

“I don’t know. Give me back my novel.”

“Look at me, Jeff. How long have we known each other?”

“Fifteen years.”

“Have I ever done anything to hurt you? Have I ever betrayed you? Have I ever done a single thing to make you think that I am anything less than a fantastic friend?”

“No,” Jeffrey Simmons admitted reluctantly. Meyer Reid was his best friend, and he would never have denied that. When it came to discussions of his writing, however, Jeff became childlike at times.

“That’s right. I never have. And I’m telling you that you shouldn’t make up names for real places, especially when everyone will know the names are fictional. All you’ve done is needlessly complicate the storyline.”

“That’s just your opinion, Meyer,” Jeff spat out hotly.

“Think about it, man. That’s all I’m asking. Bayou Institute of Technology?” Meyer started laughing. “BIT? How many times did you spell bit in this new novel, Jeff?”

Before Jeff could answer Meyer lost all control. He kept trying to stop laughing, but the mirth would burst forth with renewed vigor. Mr. Reid attempted to end the fit by covering his mouth, but the giggles just spilled out around the edges. The hilarity proved to be infectious, and before long Jeff was laughing right along with him. People at other tables turned to stare at the two as if they were a pair of unruly children, which is essentially what they were, with a couple of decades tacked on for good measure.

Meyer picked up the stack of paper and began reading again, “Burton Rouge provided a home to the leaders of the Confederate Army in the last days of the Civil War, but the shattering of the Confederacy somehow cursed Burton Rouge to the role of a college town for all time.”

“Okay, man, that’s enough. I get it. It stinks.”

“No, wait, there’s more. It looks like a couple hundred pages more. How much time did you spend on this, Jeff?"

“I wrote it last week.”

Meyer stopped smiling and looked at his friend with appreciation. He asked, “You wrote this whole thing in a week?”

“Well, nine days to be more precise.”

“That’s amazing. Now, first of all, I didn’t mean to imply that all of your writing stinks. I’m sure the plot, style and characterization all contain redemptive qualities that make this novel something worth saving. I just became slightly nauseous when I read your opening paragraph. It was so obvious to me that you came up with tacky, imaginary names for all of the places in your life. I mean, do you think there’s something wrong with Baton Rouge? Are you ashamed of LSU? Are you scared people will identify you with Chimes Street?”

“The answer to all of those questions would be an emphatic no, Meyer. I changed the names of all the places to remove any factual limitations that might be associated with said locations. In Burton Rouge the university is downtown, because it was easier for me to place it there. Nobody knows that’s not true, because there is no Burton Rouge. If I had said LSU was in downtown Baton Rouge, then everybody who’s ever been to Baton Rouge would know it wasn’t true.”

“But that’s why it’s called fiction, Jeff.”

“That was exactly what I was thinking when I got mad a minute ago. What difference does it make if I rename everything? It is merely fiction, after all.”

“You may have a point there, buddy boy,” Meyer said with a grin.

“I don’t think any jury, anywhere would convict me if I killed you right now,” Jeff laughed lightheartedly.

“I can’t believe you didn’t realize I was messing with you. Nobody cares what you call this toilet we grew up in. A toilet by any other name still smells like shit. Have you ever noticed how bad this city smells? Does Burton Rouge smell bad?”

“No, Burton Rouge smells like roses and fucking potpourri,” Jeff said with a slight edge to his voice.

“Easy now, big fella. Watch the language. Besides, I thought you were all calmed down.”

“Oh, I am calm, and my irritation has little to do with the subject matter at hand. It’s Josephine. She dumped me again,” Jeff explained.

“Did twenty-eight days go by that fast?” Meyer quipped with a snicker.

“That’s very funny. You are such a funny guy. Did I mention that you are very much on your game today?” Meyer just smiled until Jeff continued, “No, the lunar cycle isn’t until next week. She told me that she needed somebody with more direction in his life. She told me my writing is never going to go anywhere, and she’s tired of worrying about the future.”

“I warned you about dating Josephine. You could never match up to Napoleon,” Meyer paused as he noticed the murderous look return to Jeff’s face, but then he plunged onward. “Forget about her, man. She was bad for you. Besides, you haven’t even gotten rid of her yet. She knows you’ll always have sex with her, so you can expect to see her again when she wants to get some.”

“What if she’s getting some from someone else?”

“That won’t matter, and she probably, no definitely is. If you have to think about it, they are. If that’s the case, then you’ll be her guilty little pleasure. She’ll still show up to have sex with you again, only she’ll be doing it because of how wrong and dirty it is. Chicks love that shit, Jeff.”

“You think so? So I can expect to have sex with her at least one more time. Well, that makes me feel better at least.”

“I’m not telling you to turn down the sex when the time comes, but you might consider finding something else to live for. Have you thought about looking for another girlfriend?”

“Look who’s talking. You and Miranda have been breaking up and getting back together for like five years. So, Meyer, are you two together or separated this week?”

“Like you said, the lunar cycle doesn’t come until next week, so I think we’re still together right now.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you are shallow, chauvinistic, insensitive and male?”

“My God! Are you a gay psychic? That’s exactly what Miranda said to me the last time she dumped me. How did you know that, Jeff?”

“It’s a gift from god. Sometimes it’s a blessing, but at other times it’s a terrible curse. People are frightened of what they do not understand, and that’s what I have to live with. Just be glad that it’s not you who can read minds and see into the future. It’s no bed of roses, my friend.”

“Two points for the Jeffster. I knew you had it in you. So what’s this book about?”

“Two assholes who spend all of their time talking about stupid shit in a coffee shop on Chimes Street, uh, I mean Times Street.”

“I knew you would eventually confuse yourself. I warned you about changing place names.”

“That you did, Meyer Reid, or should I call you Mire Reed?”

“I suppose I deserve this abuse, but I still have to wonder if what I did to you was as horrible as what you are doing to me.”

“I haven’t really started in on you yet. So, Meyer, how’s the painting coming?”

“You unbelievable prick. I trusted you. I considered you my friend.”

“Dead in the water?”

“Pulled from the water, but as yet not resuscitated,” Meyer confessed.

“That good?”

“Worse. I thought I might have a sale on one of my larger paintings, but the buyer turned out to be a fag. He pretended to scope out my painting, but he was actually checking out my other goods.”

“Ah, the perils of the art world. Did you do it with him?” Jeff asked with a twinkle in his eye.

“Do you have something else to do right now, because you’re obviously trying to get rid of me, forever. My response is: Do what with him? Anyway, the fag didn’t buy the painting, just like the last seven or eight fags --

"You sure throw that word around a lot. You know gay people don't like that." Meyer didn't miss a beat.

"-- who didn’t buy any of my paintings. I kind of decided to quit producing more paintings until I can clear some of the overstock so attractively donning the walls of my studio even as we speak.”

“What does that mean? Are you out of canvases or are you out of paint?”

Meyer sighed before admitting, “Both. And I’m out of money. My tips at the restaurant sucked this week. I must be getting too old to be a waiter.”

“You’re twenty-nine years old, man. You’re in the prime of your life,” said Jeff with the most serious of expressions on his face. “It’s the perfect age to be a waiter. All of the best male waiters are twenty-nine. Seriously, Meyer, why don’t you get out of the restaurant business and get a real job?”

“Did Miranda give you cue cards? Is this some sort of sick joke? You sound exactly like her.”

“Then our girlfriends –“

“Ex-girlfriend in your case.”

“—Sound exactly like each other.”

“Maybe they’re one person with two bodies. Two women separated at birth, but joined at the mind by a freak nuclear waste accident, destined to go through life destroying the egos of men they have sex with,” Meyer rattled off in his best impression of a movie preview announcer.

“There’s a more frightening edge to that line of reasoning,” Jeff pointed out uneasily. “Our girlfriends say the same things to us not because they are the same person, but because we are. In fact, you are just a figment of my tormented, schizophrenic mind. I bet in a couple of days I’m going to wake up wondering where the hell you went. And there will be a dozen guys sleeping in my living room, all telling me about the rules of fight club.”

“There could be a third, more simple explanation. Our girlfriends are right. They keep dumping us because we are barely worth a fuck, in the literal sense, and we need to get our shit together.” Meyer sighed after he stated the fact.

“Speak for yourself. I don’t feel I need to get anything together. Sure, I’m working in a dead end job that doesn’t pay very well, but that isn’t my fault. It’s not like this city is bursting with high paying lifelong careers. I’m doing what I have to do to get by, until such time as I don’t have to worry about doing that anymore. If that’s not up to her standards, or your standards, then that’s your problem.

“The novel I wrote last week may not be the best novel ever written, but that doesn’t change the fact that I wrote it. I plan to write another one, and if that one isn’t good enough then another one after that. And I’m not going to stop until I make it work, or until I’m dead. Really, either way is fine with me. There are worse things than being dead,” Jeff finished and drew in a deep breath.

“What’s worse than being dead, Jeff?”

“This conversation.”

“You know, I think you’re right about that. I don’t think either one of us was in a good mood to start with, and this isn’t helping. Let’s put up our coffee cups and take a walk,” Meyer suggested.

“I’ll pay for your coffee. You can say what you want about my job at the bookstore, but at least I always have a little spending money,” Jeff put in, still slightly defensive.

“You know we think alike when it comes to the financial situation of struggling artists, so you can’t think I was putting down on where you work. Besides, that job treats you like royalty compared to my job at the restaurant,” Meyer offered in a conciliatory tone.

The two guys carried their coffee cups up to the front counter of the café and gave them to the girl behind the counter. It wasn’t something customers had to do, or were even encouraged to do, but it was a nice gesture. It decreased the work volume of the café employees, thereby making the lives of the workers slightly less miserable. Only working class people did such things at the café. Nobody else ever considered it.

[NeOPulP] Sondra

Paint flakes floated down from the ceiling in the dying light of the early evening. They coated the furniture in a fine gray layer of decay. The effect went well with the musty drapes hung over the windows, drapes that seemed on the verge of disintegration. Mold in all the corners of the room spread noiselessly and invisibly out toward a more encompassing embrace of the surroundings, mutely testifying to the living nature of entropy, if such a thing could be possible. The air, so still and humid, might as well have been congealed… a solid, spongy substance. Visible banks of tiny drifting particles never seemed to reach the ground, but they disappeared with the light as darkness reclaimed the world for the night.
The last glimmer of light illuminated a young woman propped motionlessly against the wall. She was barely breathing, and the slits through her nearly closed eyelids betrayed a hint of heavy glaze behind them. The young woman remained in that exact position for a couple of hours, and then the drug began to wear off. She slowly stirred, leaned forward and worked the muscles in her legs and arms. She brought her hands up to her face and massaged her eye sockets. Then she pulled back her hair and pulled herself together.
The young woman groped about on the floor for her worn old purse. It was a brightly colored, shoulder bag hand-woven by Indians in the Guatemalan highlands. From a pocket in the bag the young woman pulled a small cellophane packet containing two pills, one blue and one yellow. She produced a small bottle of water from the bag and took the pills. Her purse had a lot of room inside.
Hidden behind a thick inner lining inside the purse was a Mississippi Driver’s License that belonged to her. It gave her name as Sondra Jenkins, and accurately described her as a white female with brown hair and hazel eyes who stood 5’8” tall and weighed one hundred twenty pounds. Her home address was listed as 1202 Ocean Breeze Avenue, Gulfport, Mississippi. That address was not accurate. There was no longer any such thing as Ocean Breeze Avenue in Gulfport, Mississippi. Her social security card was hidden behind the driver’s license, and behind that was a useless apartment key. It fit the lock on Sondra’s front door on Ocean Breeze Avenue, a door that was probably halfway to Cuba, along with everything else she owned.
Sondra stood up and felt her way out of the decaying living room and into the house’s foyer. She had squatted in the abandoned house for three months, so she knew her way around in the dark. She turned right and took five short steps, then reached out her hand, unlocked and opened the front door. The door creaked on its rusting hinges. Sondra imagined the sound could be heard from a mile away. She stepped out into the world and shut the door behind her.
It was an overcast night outside and there was no moon, so outdoors it was almost as dark as the inside of the house. Sondra made her way out into the middle of the street, the only place she was certain all of the debris had been cleared away, and started walking for the French Quarter. After a few minutes her eyes adjusted to the minimal starlight filtering down through the partial cloud cover, and she relaxed a little. Sondra reasoned that as long as she could see she could hide, and being able to hide made her a lot safer.
Six blocks from the abandoned house the sound of an approaching car penetrated the darkness, long before the headlights could be seen. Sondra darted off of the street and crawled through the shattered windshield of an upside down car protruding from under the second story of a two-story house, both of which straddled what used to be a sidewalk. From the dark recesses of the wreckage she watched as the headlights approached the nearby street corner and turned in her direction. She could tell from the configuration of the lights that it was the New Orleans Police.
In Sondra’s mind the police were more dangerous to encounter than gang members or other criminals. The police would undoubtedly arrest her for breaking the area’s curfew, and depending on the arresting officers she might be robbed or raped as well. In that case the cops might even kill her “in self defense,” in order to cover their tracks. Nobody knew how many people the police had murdered during and after Katrina, but a lot of the bodies discovered were victims of police violence. The NOPD contained within its ranks the most secret and dangerous criminal gang of all. The police terrified Sondra in a way that street thugs could not, no matter how brutal the street element might be.
The car passed by without incident, but it left Sondra breathing heavily and with blood pounding in her ears. She recalled a line she heard somewhere about the police watching the people instead of watching over the people. She stayed in place long enough to make sure the car wasn’t going to double back, despite her concerns about rats and bugs residing inside the overturned car. A few minutes later she crawled back out into the street and resumed her trek. As she walked she thought unhappily about the chain of events that led her to that place.
The weather forecaster at KLOX in Biloxi cheerfully reported the progress of Hurricane Katrina to residents along the Mississippi Gulf Coast for days, before it became apparent the gigantic storm would directly threaten the region. After that a mandatory evacuation order went out for people living anywhere near the coast. Sondra left, like everyone else who had good sense. In retrospect she wished she had met the storm surge on the beach.
For the first few days of her evacuation Sondra stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in Hattiesburg. She didn’t know her evacuation would be permanent until news reports included aerial photographs of the Gulf Coast. The first footage she saw showed the total devastation in the area. Later she found out that not only had her residence vanished into the Gulf, but so had her friends’ residences, her job, and everything else in the area.
Sondra left Hattiesburg as soon as it became obvious her stay there would not be a short one. She didn’t have any reason to stay there. Indeed, she had only gone there because it was the easiest thing for her to do at the time. When she left she traveled south, seeking to be closer to the only home she had ever known. She was not allowed to return because the conditions were too horrific, so she drove to Slidell, Louisiana.
Slidell always provided a home to a wide variety of criminal enterprises, not the least of which was illegal drug trafficking. After Hurricane Katrina the small city swelled to ten times its original size, and the drug trafficking exploded. Sondra fell into drinking at bars in the area because of her depression, and it was there she met the crowd that used heavy drugs. She didn’t feel that she had anything to live for, and drugs helped ease her sense of emptiness.
Sondra Jenkins came into the world in August of 1980. She was only twenty-five years old when Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home, but that was far from the worst thing that had ever happened to her. Four years earlier her parents died in a car accident on Highway 90 in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Sondra’s grandparents died a few years before that, and her only aunt died when she was still a little girl. Her parents’ passage left her without any family at all. The darkness that engulfed Sondra threatened to never let her out.
Sondra stumbled through her life in a daze in 2001. She only survived because of her friends. After Katrina not only was her home and her job gone, so were all her friends. The ones who survived were scattered to the four winds. Sondra managed to get in touch with a few of them in other states, but everybody was completely devastated by the event. There was nobody left to look out for Sondra Jenkins. That was when the bottomless pit formed inside her.
In just four months Sondra went through her entire life savings. It was only a few thousand dollars, but it was all she had in the world. Sondra didn’t care at all. She discovered the wonders of opiates and benzo’s, and never looked back. She sold her car to stay high and pay rent on a dilapidated trailer. When the money was gone she got evicted from the trailer she had rented.
Sondra didn’t try to salvage her dignity by getting cleaned up and finding a job. Instead she set out to ruin herself the rest of the way. She posed as a prostitute to con men she saw as marks. She managed to rob almost a dozen unsuspecting johns before her plan fell to pieces. She found herself pinned down on the back of a Buick, taken from behind for the cost of a tank of gas. She felt dirty for about two minutes of the experience, but then she closed her eyes and pretended she was with a man who cared.
Sondra decided she had found her new calling. She stayed high, and that made it easy to pretend there was nothing wrong. In fact, as long as Sondra was loaded she remained happy. She experienced an artificial happiness that wore off every few hours, but happiness nonetheless. She medicated all the self-loathing and emptiness right out of herself. Turning tricks allowed her to do that, so she set out to make a career of it.
Sondra found it increasingly difficult to dodge retribution for her earlier actions in Slidell. Several times she almost ran into men she had robbed. She knew she couldn’t turn tricks while looking constantly looking over her shoulder, so when New Orleans reopened she decided to relocate. Her drug associates in Slidell told her how to score in the big city. That was all the information Sondra needed. She caught a ride with the first person she found going south.
That morning Sondra stepped out of a stranger’s car, onto Decatur Street and into a different world. All she had to her name was the old purse and a backpack full of clothes. She didn’t take much time to look at the French Quarter. Instead she set out walking north and east, looking for a place to squat. When she got to Gentilly the vibe struck her as appropriate. The old neighborhood appeared to be completely deserted, yet some of the houses looked almost habitable. A few blocks from Elysian Fields Sondra found exactly what she had been looking for.
The two-story house had big windows and an airy front porch, but it wasn’t architectural features that drew Sondra to the house. The house didn’t seem damaged at all. The front door appeared to be sturdy. All of the windows she could see had burglar bars over them and drapes behind the glass. Most importantly, the place gave every indication of having been abandoned for years, probably since long before the hurricane. Looking at the house gave Sondra a feeling of security. She felt even safer after she had to spend two hours to break into a window at the rear of the house in order to make camp inside.
Every now and then Sondra stopped to think about the long path that led her to the place where she was. On rare occasions she couldn’t score. Then the dope sickness and the memories would ravage her awareness. Self-hatred and depression gripped her in an inescapable fist in those times, and she prayed for death. At times she wished for more than death; she wished that she didn’t exist at all. She wished that she had never existed and that none of her life had ever happened. Such yearnings helped pass the time it took for her to find the medicine she needed to make everything go away.
As Sondra walked out onto Elysian Fields she could see the light of the recovering districts in the distance. Sometimes crashing in a house that had no lights or water got to her. She made certain to always keep a bottle of drinking water, but months without a proper bath had taken their toll. She washed up and made herself presentable in the bathroom of a convenience store near the interstate. All of the cashiers knew Sondra. Sondra was hardly the only person staying in a part of the city that still had no utilities. She wasn’t even the only person who used that convenience store to get cleaned up every day.
The young Hispanic clerk nodded to Sondra in greeting when she entered. Sondra attempted to smile at him, but he had already buried his face in a magazine. Sondra sighed and made her way into the bathroom. Inside the broad mirror and the bright fluorescent light combined to show her exactly what she looked like. Sondra’s face was dirty from sleeping in the dirty old house, but the dirt didn’t hide her true beauty. She had French and Spanish ancestry on her mother’s side, and that gave her an almond shaped face with delicate features. Sondra’s shoulder length sandy blonde hair looked matted, and her hazel eyes looked tired. She hoped to fix all that with hot water.
While the hot water ran Sondra stripped off her blouse and splashed water all over her self. She took a small towel from her purse and dried off. She put on deodorant and perfume before exchanging the blouse for a skimpy halter-top. She frowned when she saw how much space the blouse took up in her bag, but then shrugged. Her only other alternative to a full purse was carrying a backpack around, and she wasn’t about to do that. She worried enough about getting robbed as it was.
The hot water made Sondra feel almost human when she stuck her head under it. She savored the feeling for a moment, then shampooed her hair quickly and rinsed it out. She towel dried her hair furiously and haphazardly worked some leave in conditioner into it. Sondra did not want to wear out her welcome at the convenience store bathroom, so she always went as fast as possible. She dropped her pants and panties to her knees and splashed hot water onto her crotch. She sprayed a little perfume into her underwear, pulled up her pants, stuffed the wet towel back into her purse and prepared to leave the gas station. The whole ritual took less than five minutes.
When Sondra exited the bathroom she looked like a different person. She didn’t look homeless. The person that came out of the bathroom was a 5’6”, twenty-six year old knockout. Whatever problems Sondra had, being unattractive wasn’t one of them. The cashier looked up from his magazine, but he was unable to go back to reading after he saw her. The halter-top accented her perfect breasts in a way that drives men crazy. She smiled at the clerk, and this time he gave a great big smile in return. He almost managed to get his tongue working before she walked out into the night, but he was a second too late.
By the time Sondra made it to Claiborne Avenue three cars had pulled over to offer her a ride. She turned them all down. Women disappeared from New Orleans all the time, and nobody ever saw them again. Sondra already lived a dangerous life playing the barfly on Bourbon Street. She refused to tempt fate by getting into cars with strangers, and besides that she enjoyed walking at night.
The alprozolam and oxycontin Sondra swallowed before leaving the house took full effect as she walked. Sondra felt great physically, and mentally she felt prepared to take on the world. When she was high she never worried about reality. Deep down she desperately wanted to change her situation, and she often daydreamed about ways to do that. Unfortunately Sondra had discovered it was easier to hustle and stay loaded than to change her life. Thinking about her life was the last thing she wanted to do. Instead she looked forward to the night. She hoped she would meet someone who would really care about her, but she would settle for someone who really wanted her.
Sondra turned right on Rampart, and fifteen minutes later the balconies of the French Quarter silently welcomed her back to the New Orleans nightlife. An exuberant crowd jammed Bourbon Street, which was an unusual occurrence for a Wednesday night, at least since the hurricane. Sondra decided to skip the tourist bars. She sashayed the few blocks down to Decatur Street with a spring in her step, heading for her favorite local hangout, The Monastery.
The doors of The Monastery were wide open to the world. Until Hurricane Katrina they had stood open for thirty years. The hurricane only closed the bar down for twelve hours, but in the days following the city government declared a curfew. Once New Orleans never closed and never went to sleep, but the police changed all that. Now The Monastery, and all the other bars, shut their doors at two o’clock in the morning. The worst storm in Gulf Coast history reduced New Orleans nightlife to a shadow of its original glory.
Sondra didn’t care how late the bars stayed open. She didn’t need more than a few minutes to pick up a man. As she slunk into the dark, cozy recesses of The Monastery she surveyed her options. She noticed three couples sat in the back end of the room, and a gaggle of college guys, most likely fraternity brothers from Baton Rouge, congregated in the middle of the room. At the end of the bar closest to the door sat a handsome, well-dressed man. He appeared to be in his early forties. A sly smile crossed Sondra’s face.
Sondra took a seat as far from the well-dressed man as possible, on the opposite side of the room and directly in his line of sight. She ordered a Tom Collins from the old bartender, and then sat back and passively observed the establishment. The first thing she noticed was that the well-built gentleman had turned his attention to her. She smirked inwardly, and pretended to be uninterested.
At times like those she almost wished that she smoked, because it would give her something to do and make her appear all the more nonchalant. She considered it a nasty habit, ironic as that might be, so she sipped her drink meekly and hummed. A hymn from her childhood tromped through her head unbidden, and she gave it just enough attention for a little sound to escape through her lips now and then. It was “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Sondra only knew part of the tune, and none of the words. Before she knew it the good looking man sat down right next to her.
When viewed at close range the man did not appear normal at all. Sondra could see that his suit cost a fortune, but she wasn't sure how she knew that. She thought it might be because it fit the man perfectly, and definitely radiated the well-tailored look. Beyond that, Sondra had to blink her eyes a few times because the man's face cast off a dark glow. Blinking did not dissipate the aura, which she noticed also emanated from the exposed skin of his hands and wrists.
At that point Sondra looked directly into the man's eyes, and lost herself for what felt like a very long time. He had beautiful bright green eyes, but they contained within them several patterns that shifted slightly as the light caught them from different angles. The cunning intelligence Sondra saw inside them reminded her of a large predatory cat. Sondra knew the little pills she took wouldn't cause her to hallucinate, and for a brief instant she was frightened.
“My name is Saul. Can I buy you a drink?” the man asked in a tone that betrayed none of his internal workings.
Sondra, with curiosity winning out over fear, responded, “Be my guest. I was hoping to find someone to talk to anyway.” She appraised the man's haircut as she spoke. She decided she imagined the glow and the patterns in his eyes, probably because of his intoxicating presence.
Saul held up his right hand to beckon the bartender. As he did so his shirt sleeve pulled back slightly to reveal a gold Rolex, a detail Sondra did not miss. She subconsciously twirled a lock of her hair around the pointer finger of her right hand as she studied the man next to her. She existed totally in the moment, a state she spent a lot of time and money attempting to achieve. When Saul turned his head and smiled at her a thrill ran through her stomach, disturbing a bunch of little butterflies she didn't know lived there anymore.
“What's your name, young lady?” Saul inquired pleasantly.
Sondra tried to pull herself together, but when she said, “My name is Sally,” her voice sounded like it belonged to a giddy school girl. She also hesitated before she told him. She noticed Saul caught the tiny pause. The outside corner of his eyes tightened ever so slightly.
“I mean, what's your real name?” he inquired again, and the second time his voice sounded somewhat less playful.
“It's Sondra,” she blurted out, “and I'm sorry. It's just not always a good thing to tell people your real name. There's all sorts of characters loose in the city.”
Saul pulled back his upper lip and showed his teeth in an odd sort of half smile. Sondra saw the outside edge of his iris flash upward ninety degrees in relation to a center ring that did not move. It happened so quickly she didn't know what to make of it, but his eyes looked perfectly normal again afterwards. She suddenly realized he had done something with his eyes on purpose, in order to gauge her reaction.
“All sorts of characters are loose in the city, Sondra. You are absolutely correct,” Saul said with a wink, as if they had just shared a private joke.
“I'm sorry, but who... or rather, what are you?” Sondra questioned with a genuine desire to know, and without alarm.
“I'm not a what, I am a who, though I'm not exactly from the same gene pool as most of today's people. I've been around a very, very long time. People have changed a great deal since I was born. My own kind generally do not exist anymore, and my name is Saul, as I've already said,” he told her without any hint of impatience or unkindness.
“This has got to be some sort of practical joke. You're another creep who likes messing with people's minds, right?” Sondra asked, but she didn't believe that was the answer. The way he looked, the way he moved and the way he felt told her that Saul was genuinely different from everybody else. Her mind raced with the excitement of stumbling onto something new and out of the ordinary.
“I came to meet with you, Sondra. I felt your presence here in this place... this ruined city. If only you could see and feel what I do, you would appreciate what I'm talking about,” Saul attempted to explain, “As it is, I'm afraid it's going to take quite some time before I can make you understand.”
“Who the hell are you? Don't just tell me your name again either. What exactly is going on?” Sondra demanded firmly but politely.
“I'm something you wouldn't understand, Sondra. People think different things when they think of my kind. I can't explain it to you in words. I came here to find you, because you're special. You're like me, which makes you the first of my kind born in over two thousand years. I'd like to take you somewhere more comfortable. I have a great many things to share with you, and you need to learn these things.”
Sondra burst out laughing. Her mirth was genuine. For a moment nothing intruded upon her awareness but the idea that what she had just learned was very, very funny. When she opened her eyes she saw Saul looking at her with a completely detached expression, and no amusement in his eyes. She rapidly regained control of herself.
“I'm nothing special, Saul, or whatever your name is. I'm not even close,” the words came out laced with bitterness, and tears appeared in the corners of Sondra's eyes.
“I'm telling you the truth, and I can make you believe it faster than you could ever imagine. Come with me, Sondra,” Saul told her. He stood up and started walking for the door. Sondra shook her head and weighed the situation for just a moment before she stood up and likewise went out the front door.
Outside the early autumn night felt refreshing and invigorating on the heels of the first cool front of the year. It was quite a change after months of extreme heat and humidity, and the myriad of human discomforts that come with those things. Sondra only had a moment to appreciate the wonderful weather. After stepping into the street she realized Saul hadn't waited for her just outside.
Sondra had to break into a sprint to catch up to Saul, who was already close to a block away. Saul moved toward St. Louis Cathedral with the speed of an Olympic runner, yet somehow still projected the air of someone out for a leisurely evening stroll. He stood just outside the front doors of the church when Sondra caught up to him three blocks later.
With her chest heaving for air and her heart pounding from the sudden exertion Sondra couldn't do anything but place her arms on top of her head and breathe. Saul didn't appear to have exerted himself at all. He just stood there patiently waiting for her to catch her breath. It didn't take her very long. Sondra once more felt grateful that she had never liked smoking, and also that they hadn't gone very far. She thought humorously to herself, “Thank God the cathedral isn't far from The Monastery.”
The time it took to regain control of her respiration allowed Sondra to take another look at Saul, which she had been doing constantly ever since she first saw him. She got the feeling she could look at him forever and never want for anything else. The almost imperceptible glow she glimpsed in the bar had grown far stronger and noticeable now that they were outside in the night. Sondra had time to study it, and she believed it actually leaked out from inside his perfect suit. She decided that the glow wasn't just in the visual realm either. She believed she could feel his aura in the tips of her fingers, and smell his essence beyond the range of cataloged odors. She mischievously wondered what he tasted like, but the way he looked at her right then derailed her train of thought.
“Come here and place your right hand on the door knob,” Saul instructed her without any fanfare.
Taking two steps forward, Sondra placed her hand on the knob of the massive oak door of the ancient cathedral. Heat emanating from the knob surprised her. She almost pulled her hand away before Saul placed his right hand on top of hers. Warmth exploded inside her flesh, and visions raced to the forefront of her awareness.

Roll Call of the Lesser Devils 60-65

Revamping the poetry hit a snag a couple of weeks ago when a vicious Teacup Pomeranian ate the usb cord to the external hard drives. The cord doesn't cost very much money, but taking the time to go get one kept being put off. Without further whimpering, Roll Call of the Lesser Devils continues:

The orbit of the planet:
A twenty-four hour cyclic effect.
The vehicle travels in opposition
The rotation of the earth
Lending just a fraction of extra speed,
Too little to gauge.
It strikes the engineer
That he has fallen from the planet.
Gravity departed at escape velocity.
Mediocre reactions crumble
And fall away pathetically
In the face of the knowledge
That somewhere has distinctly become nowhere.
The carrot dangles before his eyes,
Three feet before, like a guiding voice.
Someone has a dossier on this,
The perils of free falling
After waiving freedom of choice.
A day late and a dollar short
Post mens rea no redress
In the hoity coitus toity court
Cosmic tort reform aside.
Personal wants ascribed to the negatives
Left undeveloped in the dark room.
The carrot trick won't work if they hate carrots.
Hunger must be the key.
Something must fuel the animal drive.
God having abandoned the world
To the tender mercies of law and chaos
Sees humor in people drifting off into space.
Proof for the skeptics will come.
The haloed civilization will at length embrace fuckery,
And realize the time.
Its time to make up for lost time.
It has been prophesied that such things happen,
Because if it feels good do it,
Stop waiting and suck up to it.
The automobile
Static line of crap will begin to wear thin
A coating of flattery, a glass of gin
Until nature decides to just win.
Bestial reality,
Hunger and lust,
So powerful the feeling itself
Clocks in with gruff profanity
And Will pounds through the veins of all humans,
Reinstated to its original beauty.
It is hungry to take out any obstacles
Between wherever is is
And where I need to be to get it.

Somehow it all changed.
The sustenance didn't take care of itself.
The food tried to escape.

The shaking hands on the wheel
Are my own, or so they tell me.
It has been days since sleep was possible.
Driven by the pit of my stomach
I feel as though I am floating.
Hope remains for one last chance
To catch the sun before it comes up,
Catch it unaware and kill it.
Then all the loot can be had.
The dossier couldn’t know the plan.
Escape will be had before any government knows.
Not that they could catch me
Unless the car exploded.
Pedestrians scatter with barely enough time to reach safety.
I mow down as many as possible.
This was all they could muster?
Send a bunch of guys out on foot?
Up ahead a road block,
Nicely arranged cute striped cars.
I bash through.
Road God lives!
Worshipped among teen-agers
Who listen to ancient rock and roll
Who think heaven is a 454,
I drink, nay, guzzle the fuel.
Less than a God could never even afford to start this baby
Since the gas shortage.
On the short twelve mile horizon
I can be at the top
Before even seeing the curvature I left behind.
Eyesight becomes estranged so
Trajectory for orbit must be calculated only with the mind.
The future outlaws will worship me
After I become one with the stars.
Road God!
Who took emptiness
And turned it into gasoline to fly away.

61. Broken Bricklay
The concrete steps engulf my gaze
Rising to capture my eyes before a foot falls...
Traverses the man made stone’s testimonial glaze.
Vision escapes not from the waves of toil unto death.
Strong tissue rips under the strain
Of the effort of laying a hard bed by grip
Tightly, with the hand of sure mixed endurance.
Stone work will be found in the future.
Generations later someone will wonder
Just who did the work.
Nonchalantly the decades will pass over the walks and patios
Where labor was spent so that
Leisure could be enjoyed.
The green earth came to be covered by effort.
The sweat could have made the oceans
But instead became steam and rained.
Morning comes
Bringing a feeling of newness
And past accomplishment,
The nervous energy that surrounds all work.
The heat bears down like a ritual pain.
The mixture can never go dry,
Must be stirred until breaking ache comes to the body.
The sun takes many to a dream suddenly,
The swoon, it is dangerous
But educational if one lives.
The fever sometimes shows the plans of God,
The warmth of the endeavor
Marking those separately from those who do nothing,
Who do not brave the heat.
There must be some promise of another world
And the delerium of the afternoon shows
That if there is no heaven
Rest assured there definitely is a hell,
Because the bricklayer comes very close to it,
Almost breaking but insurmountably strong of spirit,
Refusing to stop until finished,
No waste allowed, no room for error.
With the children at home to feed, there lies
Purpose for the concentrated quest to be as strong
As the brick in the sweltering sun.
The haze burns away
Until sight is blinded, all too clearly.
The victory of the moment is measured
By the hours spent to get there.
Tissue of the body is nothing,
It will pass away.
What must last must be created.
The spirit is not gauged by the flesh.
If dissenting discuss not
This matter with real men,
Or maybe suffer being told
To stoop a little and open your eyes,
Perhaps dirty the silken hands by feeling
A little of that with which the nation was built so quickly.
When the day is done
Beyond the heat of the sun
The children rejoice at daddy’s return,
The treats that were so hard earned.
My eyes cross the walkway in admiration.
All who pass here will know.

complex hazing
a stationary invasion
tear, raze, rend the union
rape the nation
young and old killed by love
under justice blind direction
never believe in resurrection
only in hate.
from dismay come justice’ decay.
pleasure’s way
leads to pain, leads astray
tries to make sick,
trick time into unwinding,
but it won’t work.
It strews the sickly
webs of vain, wanton waste,
gloom’s decor,
silken threads of yore.
avoid the true
painful to trap the self
tomorrow the sun
will burn away this black yule.
from this
can only come misconstrual
Here, critics, have some fuel.

Beyond Language Barrier
Never try to shake off the truth.
You are
Guilty of plenty even so young,
And you cry
Because you can find no path
Out of the heart of the moon.
No one leaves so soon.
Delay your thinking,
Relearn and then return.
There is no game,
No way,
Only black smoke from the burned.
Too unlearned,
Two turned the one card,
The Devil,
Then went for the one door
But only one could go through at once.
The Other One never left.
The image showed
A self centered prick looking back.
Don't covet that knowledge,
Or the fact that you were right,
Because you really are no better.
Mistake not,
No song,
No card,
No lock on the door,
A lock on the mind,
So importune me no more,
I want a divorce from your ideas,
I want to forget them forever,
And I ask this not be retold.
‘Tis shown to be all too hellish,
The world
That set this pen gliding,
Across the page,
A plea to the aether to crush me,
And then no more favors.

The reduction of the spirit
Makes a dangerous saute,
And misery a pitiful sound.
Deus ex fashionista,
The deuce you say, it's just deserts
For such treachery,
Envious blasphemy,
Lost and carried down.
Amid the tiers and altars,
Somewhere a voice,
Weeping, falters,
And the wind is a hollow howl.
It’s the church of infection,
Of sin and consumption,
Uplifted by followers foul.
They dine on porridge
Made from strong men’s courage,
After defiling their graves
And their bones,
Digested by unforgiving tomes,
It's not only bodies that rot in the ground.
Nowhere can be found a worse stench
Than the smell of the priests
As they quench their unholy thirsts,
From out of the mouths of lambs and the innocent,
The perversion makes even the hardened flinch,
Because children should never know at all.
Inside the damned clergy all look the same
All rust colored, gangrenous, leprous flesh,
And the church they hold holy
Is to the core rotten, wholly,
As a dead dear days old.
On them do not dwell,
In their footsteps do not dawdle,
For they are lost.
And the path only leads down,
Where the stench becomes an entity,
And fire the only cure to be found.

Since I have seen Narcissus' true self
We can no longer be friends.
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Related written works at Angelfire, Sex Symbols, Cymbals of Silence.Repent or Die