Crash Awakening

December 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

He didn’t like it, not now. He used to like it; he used to crave it. Being alone these days felt more like his own subjective hell in which he had flung himself through a series of ridiculous, off-color choices. That, of course, was a ridiculous feeling in-and-of-itself. It wasn’t his fault he was alone.

“Sherrod, boy, you’re cracking up in the head.” He smiled, stoking the fire with another handful of kindling, followed by a few logs. The flames sputtered beneath the sudden choke of oxygen and then leapt back to life. “You know what Mila would say? She’d say you’re short a candy shell from a full nut.”

He laughed at the thought of his wife, trying to ward off the sorrow that was sure to dog-tail behind. Then he thought of his son, Rod, who would be sixteen in a few days. He thought about patting the boy’s head. The thought made his hand, his palm, ache to be filled with a clean, sun-brown mess of make-shift mohawk and skin.

His wife and son led to thoughts of his dog and then his sister. Wanting to escape the memories, he stretched out on his ersatz bed in the sand. Eyes closed tightly, he willed his mind to sleep. Sherrod’s memories funneled through, winding him down a lifetime of happiness that now created nothing but sadness and longing.

#

Rod sat next to him in the backyard. The boy was working on his bike and Sherrod was laughing at him when he swore at the chain.

“Stop the swearing, boy. Swearing never got no one nowhere, except to the kitchen for a mouthful of soap. How about that? You want to taste some soap today?”

“Don’t be sick, Dad. Of course I don’t.”

“Then stop the swearing.”

“Then stop laughing at it. You en… encourage me to do it.”

“You got a mouth, boy.”

“I do. I learned it from Gran to give you and Mom heart attacks.”

“I bet you just did. You want some help with that?”

“No. I got it. I only gotta figure out why it won’t work the way I want it to, but I want to do that myself.”

“Okay.”

Rod looked at his dad who looked off toward the end of the road. “That make you mad, Dad? Did I hurt your feelings?”

“No, boy, I’m proud of you. I always worried if I had kids I’d screw it up, but I guess I ain’t doing too bad just now.”

“Not so much. You do okay as far as I know. ‘Least I don’t hate you like my friends hate their dads.”

“Yeah.”

After a while, the chain snapped into place and Rod rode around the block to test it out. When he rounded back into the driveway, he stopped in front of Sherrod, leaning his chin on the handlebars. They watched each other, just looking.

“Dad?”

“Rod.”

“Can I get a mohawk?”

“Why?”

“There used to be a guy who lived here, you remember him?”

“Little Den.”

“Yeah, Den. He was a screamer, you remember? Real good guy and funny to boot. No one would hardly talk to him.”

“You want a Mohawk because he had one?”

“Kind of, but not like that. I want one because folks in town was scared of him because of how different he looked. They all know me, though. You know? They know I’m a good kid and I work hard to be super nice, so I was thinking if maybe I showed them I can look different and be the same it might change some minds.”

“Boy, you’re too young to be taking on the minds of town.”

“If I’m old enough to think it, I’m old enough to do it.”

“Maybe. In some cases. People will start treating you differently. Your mom and me will get calls. People will be trying to get you in trouble most of the time.”

“And I’ll keep on being me just as I am now until they see it.”

“You’ll cry when your feelings are hurt.”

“No shame in tears or feeling.”

“You’ll lose some friends.”

“They ain’t friends then.”

“Teachers might start watching you harder.”

“I’ll help them teach the class.”

Sherrod looked away from his son, thinking about it; feeling proud of his boy’s initiative, but afraid to let him take it on.

He supposed a boy couldn’t learn if he didn’t get hurt. Sherrod nodded. “S’right by me, but if you lip a single person for givin’ you a hard time, I’ll shave it off. People are gonna mock you and make hard fun of you. You’ll be called a lot of names and treated like a plague by some of the older’s. You gonna handle that like the man you’re tryin’ to be?”

“Better. I’ll handle it like the man you believe I’ll be.”

#

Sherrod sat up, sputtering sand from his mouth and crying. Rod had been nine when he had first gotten his mohawk and had kept it. The first few months had been rough on him. He had taken it like a trooper, though. He had handled it like the man Sherrod had hoped he’d be.

Trying to shake off the dream and wipe away the sleep, Sherrod looked at the moon lazing in the starless sky. Somewhere along the tree line, something moved and rustled in the brush. Sherrod picked up his hand carved spear and backed up against the waterline. Whatever continued to hunt him each night would eventually find the courage to come tearing from the brush and he’d be ready. If it were small enough, he’d attack back. If it were too large, he’d dive into the water.

He stood as still as he could as the minutes wore into the hours. When he was certain whatever had been there had gone, he stoked his fire again and curled as close to it as he dared. With the flames reaching skyward, he drifted back into sleep.

The midmorning sun drove him out of sleep a few hours later and he stretched his body until it began to pop in protest. Against the morning horizon, the crashed plane lay like a beached whale. He wondered briefly if the others were ever coming back, but pushed it out of his head. If they were coming back, they’d have come back weeks before.

Part of him wished he had gone along with them. Whatever had happened to them would have happened to him as well and he’d be out of the misery one way or another. The other part of him was glad he had stayed. Whatever they had done wrong, he had done right and still had a chance. He pronounced them officially dead and swore not to think of them again.

For maybe the hundredth time, he wondered why the control tower hadn’t tracked the crashed plane. Didn’t those things have tracking devices in them? Or something that let the control tower know where they were at all times? It didn’t make sense to him.

It had almost been as if out of nowhere the plane had begun to descend at rapid rates. He barely remembered what had happened, but he did recall the pilot trying to calm everyone into preparation. The flight attendants had rushed from seat to seat, trying to help everyone. There hadn’t been any change in the feel of the flight, except when it had started going down; as if it had absolutely retired in midflight.

He had sat there, too terrified to move, looking calm and collected as everyone around him screamed and panicked. He hadn’t been composed, just too petrified to move. In fact, one of the flight attendants had buckled him in and placed on his oxygen mask while begging him to help her until she had given up and done it on her own. She had saved his life and he had thanked her profusely after the plane had crashed. She had just stared at him for a moment before breaking down into tears. Unsure what to do, he patted her gently and slipped away silently.

She had been one of the ones to go off into the jungle. In fact, everyone had except him. There had only been a handful of them to survive, but that handful, minus himself, had run off into the jungle or forest or wilderness or whatever it was to find help.

No one had come back. He was alone.

The very thing he had been pining for endlessly for the last year, to be alone. He had left his wife and son at home while he had taken off for a trip to England so he could pretend as if he were single and free, for a few weeks, to hide away in a hotel room. In his desire to be alone, he had become almost unbearable and they had nearly shoved him out the door after giving him the ticket.

It had gotten so bad, he had resorted to intentionally angering them so they would storm off and leave him to his isolation. Sitting on the beach, staring at the whale of a plane, he wanted nothing more than to hear his wife, her friends, his son, and a hundred other teenagers stomping through the house and yelling at one another through the walls. He wanted the noise and the overwhelming sense of pressure more than he wanted anything else. He wanted that even more than he wanted food, which was out. He had eaten everything on the plane. That meant venturing into the trees. Everyone else had disappeared after going in, there was something in there hunting him every night, and he still had to man-up.

“If your son can man-up to a town, you can man-up to beast too scared to attack.”

Taking a deep breath, he picked up his spear, and walked to the tree line. Looking in, he felt a little more courageous. It looked and felt no more frightening than the forests back home. It looked harmless. In fact, if he weren’t standing on the beach, he’d swear he was standing on his own lawn.

“You been actin’ like it was the yawnin’ mouth of a starvin’ demon.” He laughed. “Coward.”

Sherrod stood at the tree line, looking in. Taking breath after breath, he willed himself to move forward. Despite knowing how harmless it seemed, fear held him in place until he ultimately resigned next to his bed in the sand with his head in his hands. Hunger surged in his stomach and the light faded into darkness. He gathered more wood from the edge of the forestry and built another fire. There would come a time when the logs at the edge would dwindle away and he’d be forced to go into the forest for both food and wood.

The fire blazed while he lay staring into the sky. The stars hid once more, the moon hung as alone in the sky as he felt in the sand. As he thought about it, he realized he hadn’t seen a single star since they had crashed on the island. He glanced about the shore. It was peculiar. The sand was there, the water was there, but he hadn’t come across a single shell or starfish. There hadn’t been even one crab to saunter across the sand.

Strange, he thought, that nothing was there but sand and water and forestry edge. Where were all the creatures of the sea that so loved to walk the sand? Where were the shells and sand dollars? He hadn’t been bitten by a flea or heard a bird. He stared his skin; he hadn’t sweat or burned despite the heat of the days. He couldn’t recall the slightest draft of wind.

“Am I dead?” his voice seemed to fall short in the static air. Without thinking about it, he slapped himself across the face and the sting drew an involuntary curse. Nursing the stinging skin with his hand, he glanced back at the tree line. “I don’t get it.”

As the absurdity of it gathered greater and greater evidence of his impending insanity, his eyes grew wider and his breathing quickened with his heartbeat. The trees seemed to grow and the sands seemed to shrink until he found himself, spear in hand, standing at the line and begging it all to stop.

“Oh, please, please, stop. I don’t know. I don’t know. I… please, stop.”

The forestry bade him enter and the sands begged him stay. Sherrod, poor Sherrod, wanted nothing more than an answer. He didn’t think he was dead, the dead couldn’t feel. So he thought maybe he had gone mad — maddened by questions he hadn’t known he’d been asking with answers he hadn’t known he didn’t have… or something, yes? Something just as insane.

He looked at the spear in his hand. Had he made it? Had he found it? He thought he had made it, but he couldn’t truly recall the act of doing so. Sherrod’s shoes were as white as the day he had left. He kicked the sand and scuffed the grass, but his shoes were brilliantly white and his clothes were no worse for the wear than when he’d boarded the plane.

“You’ll go mad, you will. Yes, you’ll go madder still.”

The forest seemed to stretch and yawn before him. Instead of fearing it, he now ached to enter. The sands seemed so much more hostile, the waters were threatening, but he couldn’t will himself to move forward. He pushed himself with his mind until he thought it might explode. His feet stayed planted like weeds in the garden of a beginner horticulturalist.

He screamed into the night, begging the insanity to go away. To leave him be in peace and let him find his way home. He screamed until his throat was raw, until his head ached. Still he stood, perfectly still, unable to move forward or go back. He knew it was fear, not senselessness, which kept him there.

Finally, he dropped where he stood, weeping for his own confusion and sorrow. As he laid half in the sand and half in the grass, he heard his wife whisper somewhere in his mind.

“It’s okay, Sherrod. Baby, just go. There ain’t nothin’ so terrifying that it can’t be mastered. Go, Sherrod. Move.”

“But do I stay here? Will they find me here? Do I need to find them? What do I do?”

There was no answer, of course. The only thing he could do was make the decision on his own and then figure out why everything was wrong with the beach. It wasn’t easy; it seemed to take him hours to will himself to stand again. Hours more simply to get moving, but eventually he did. He stepped past the tree line. When he wasn’t bombarded, nothing was as terrifying has it had been before. It all seemed rather silly and maybe a bit childish.

#

Rod patted his mother’s hand, squeezing his father’s. The weeks had been harsh since they had found him lying unconscious on his study floor. They had waited, hoped, for him to wake.

“You did the right thing, Mom.”

The heart monitor wailed. “I was hoping he’d come back to us. I thought maybe if I…”

The doctor and nurses worked relentlessly. It seemed an eternity, but finally the wail turned to a steady, rhythmic beep and Rod choked back a cry.

#

Sherrod woke in the sand, the morning sun beating down on his face and he shivered. Somehow, it felt almost as if he had awakened from death. He looked at the tree line and then at the waterline.

He had to get out of there; he had to find a way back to civilization. He stood, walking to the edge of the trees. He stared into the branches and shrubbery, turned, and went back to the plane. Maybe there was a raft somewhere still intact. At the very least, maybe he could find enough things to create a makeshift raft. The others had never come back from the trees. That thing that had been stalking him at night… it was the thing that had taken them.

No, he wasn’t going in those trees. He’d take his chances on the waves.

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Modern Love

November 18, 2012 § 4 Comments

I would never make a promise
I don’t intend to keep,
but I’ve never been known
to look before I leap.

If you need, I’ll take a job
and toss away my schemes,
if it means I’ll make up
all the stuff of your dreams.

I’ll stop writing stanzas
to satiate a sterile soul
and, instead, sell low cost
to make a dollar whole.

I’ll outsource my art
and draw for the mass.
If it baits your delight,
I’ll be a good lass.

I’ll break open the bank
and blow away the dust…
I’ll revise my very realm
and do what I must.

All you ought’do in return:
close your eyes and leap —
knowing I’d never make a promise
I don’t intend to keep.

Bond With Me

October 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

Hello? Are you stirring?
All reason is blurring.
Finally, the moon has dawned.
Bond with me — won’t you bond?

The hours I have stalked,
passions you have baulked.
Listen to my sound.
Believe what we have found.

Damn the dread. Damn the last.
We’re a world unsurpassed.
No matter how broken or shattered,
apart we’re simply more tattered.

Let no life before
paint our next shore.
Across the mile… and sea,
bond with, meld with, me.

Vacant Hallways

September 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

The soles of her feet planted loosely against the window frame, staring into the dour mantle of nightfall, there was nothing out there save for the ego of the whippoorwill echoing in the otherwise silent night. The moisture of her own self-loathing haunted behind her eyes and she pushed the heels of her hand into the sockets to burn away what threatened to fall.

No tears. No remorse. No want or ache or need.

Maureen was strength. The wicked hours of the day would never wile away her will. Maureen was power. No word beyond her own would control her heart or mind. Maureen was failing. Every passing minute was a minute lost inside her.

She wasn’t sure where those minutes were squandered or how her soul chose to consume them, but she did know the minutes built the hours that terrorized her days. She dropped her hands, leaning her head against the frame. When the night was over, the day would begin. Of course, their headland had collided; the nights were as wicked as the day so whether the hour was light or dark, the murmur of history was no less savage. Maureen simply preferred the night over the light. The silence after sundown made more sense than the silence after sunrise.

Without light, she could rationalize the lack of voices in her life. She could explain away how the phone never rang or how her inbox held no mail. In the day, she told herself the world was busy with the deadlines of life… though she couldn’t quite clarify why minutes could be found for others while none were found for her. The day left holes in her weakened excuse, but the night filled in the holes.

She wasn’t lying to herself. After all, if she asked herself for the whole of the truth she’d be unable to give it. She offered up what answers she could figure and left the rest to soak in the brine.

All the more so, when the ache shot through her like physical electricity, even when her chest closed on itself trying to release its own pressure, she made no sound.

The bedside light clicked to life.

“Maureen? What are you doing?”

She turned towards the bed. Her smile rivaled the painted ear-to-ear of any clown. Her eyes sparkled above the haunting. “Taking in the beauty of the night. I felt so restless.”

“Are you okay?”

“Of course. Always.”

“You’re sure?”

She laughed, slinking from the windowsill to the bed with a kiss that was genuine in its intent. “Goof. How could I not be okay? Look what I have in my bed.”

The smile she received slaughtered her sanity just a little more. “A cat?”

“Yes. A cat. You’re not too bad to have here, either.”

“Hey, hey.”

“Go back to sleep. Rest.”

“Come back to bed, okay?”

“You got it.”

Beneath the blankets, against ethereal skin, Maureen clung to the fabric of her quilt… hoping to keep the seconds tied in time. As long as she could, she would keep the life of that moment alive.

When the sounds of breathing beside her faded she opened her eyes. The whippoorwill echoed on and she shifted on the windowsill. Looking back at the bed, it was as available and unused as it had ever been.

She glanced briefly at her desk. The laptop sat open, her work unfinished. On one side of the desk, the laptop. On the other side, stacks of half used notebooks. In the center, a broken pile of wooden blocks and sticks. All of it neglected and unfinished. All of it wasted.

Jumping from the windowsill, she shot across the room. Scared and enraged by her own mind, she lifted the laptop above her head. She held it there, glaring at the floor; straining between throwing it and breathing herself back to judgment. She sat it gently back to its place. In return for the life of the laptop, she took the life of the notebooks and the unfinished house. The notebooks scattered through the air. Some dropped like stones, others fluttered across the room. The pieces of the house bumped against the far wall, marking the paint and landing with an incredibly unsatisfying thud on the floor.

“What are you doing?”

Maureen turned to the door. “Losing my mind.”

“Why?”

“The world is too silent.”

“Make some noise.”

“I just did.”

“You’re okay.”

“How would you know?”

“Best friends just know.”

“Then where are you?”

There was no answer. She hadn’t expected one.

When she was a kid, she would dream about standing in the hallways of school. Her body had been lead, paralyzed to movement but alive with sensation. She’d scream for help, the scream nothing more than a soundless opening of her mouth, but no answer would come. The hallway mocked her fear by filling it with other children. They’d stand near and around, jeering. Laughing with the cruelty only a dream can amplify. The teachers would pass by and offer their own slurring tokens. Unable to scream or speak, incapable of moving or running, she would sometimes will her body into motion. Weighted with whatever invisible encumbrance bearing down on her, she’d slip away centimeters at a time.

She wasn’t sitting in the hallways of schools. Nor was she incapable of speech, but she knew that silence in her world all the same. It was a different weight, but it immobilized her just the same.

The dreams she bore then were walking, talking apparitions out to remind her again how fallow her hallways were. Maybe not even fallow, as that may have suggested the hope for use. Maybe just abandoned.

Her own desolation rocketed through her body again. Her hand twitched and her face struggled with vacuity. If she sobbed, no one would see. If she roared aloud, her embarrassment would remain a secret. She could give in and give up. The house would seal her in; keep her fastened from the eyes of any other. Just a little whimper wouldn’t be heard by one ear but her own. Still, she made not a sound as she returned to the window. Her mind ticked on as the winds blew through the vacant hallways of her life.

Summer’s End

August 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

She’s hurried and she’s angry, the walkway is filled with grass and the air with waning heat. Summer will close soon and fall will come sliding in only to be overpowered by winter. Yes, she’s hurried and she’s angry without hours to pass in leisure. Of course, if she thought about it, she would shrug away the hours that may have been; knowing those hours would waste in ignominy.

What good could she do with a few hours when so many more rule? The summer has been fretful, wringing at its hands and shivering beneath its own heat. It seems to recall every moment she has so desperately tried to forget throughout every summer passed. The summer has lain in the misery of known perversions and lasting remorse. The hours have laughed at their own violent length and promised to grow with every passing thought — leaving the seconds silent without another to comfort the minutes.

She, Dana, pauses beneath the bus sign and glances down the street. Watching the bus approach she decides the last moment should be walked — yes, walked with the same obscurity as the life has been lived.

Ignoring the others at the stop, she slips through the small crowd and into the darkness of the alley. Summer will be ended soon. How she hated the impending threat of winter that fall sloshed about like some drunken tit at the all night bar.

She shivers at scarcely the thought and curses mildly beneath her breath. Still hurried and still angry, she cuts through another alley and across the street. She hears her name, but ignores the sound in favor of deafness. Footsteps follow her, as does the call to her name. Quickening as fast as she possibly can, without sprinting into a jog, she bends herself into another alley.

“Dana, stop!”

She spins then. Suspends in spot and glares into the light end of the alley. “If you had thought I heard you and I continued to move forward, why must you insist on forcing me to slow and stop? The obvious answer was glaringly bright and you chose to ignore it. Why is that choice made? The choice to ignore the needs or desires I harbor and hate but keep? Why must I be a blindness to the will of any other?”

“Dana, are you well?”

“I’m as well as I can be; now do me the courtesy of standing still as I go on my way. I’m not interested… not in chat, not in laughter. I’m not interested in the paltry speak of habitual life and I would much rather reach my destination in timely fashion than pause to giddy about with you or any other.”

Does it matter who calls to her? Possibly. It may slow her pace and lift her mood, but she’ll not pause to ascertain the outline or diagnose the voice. She’s hurried and she’s angry. Dana has a broken clock, a fractured wall, and while spring may usher in the year for the world, fall ushers in the death of comfort for Dana. Though she has weeks, the hours are whiling away. The end of summer will always be the end of a year for her and this summer, especially hateful, bores in scars almost physically.

So she turns. Her feet carry her away and the body behind stands still in hush. A new ache has been born while an old one continues.

The alleys wind one after the next, eventually they’ll lead to the edge of the city and she will follow the curve of the land into the darkness of nightfall and the cover of forestry. She’ll follow the land until she has nowhere further to walk. From there she will dive and she will fly until gravity pulls her down. For a moment, just a moment, she will have nothing weighing on her soul; still, like all things, when the weight is lifted it will return with a spiteful agenda. Dana will fall.

Time Is Gone

August 25, 2012 § 9 Comments

I know you’re sleeping
and I know I’m leaving.
I can hear your dreams
in the winds of your breathing.

It’s over, I know it’s done.
Forgive me; forgive me, if I run.

I know what I said
and I said I would stay.
I promised through the tears,
but I can’t — not this day…

Not any under moon or sun.
It’s over, I know it’s done.
Forgive me; forgive me when I run.

I know I’ve done it
so many times before,
but I’m so tired
of living beneath the floor.

I can’t be that memory,
the one you love and hate;
I can’t stay in mind
and sit — sit and wait…

Until your dreams are done.
Forgive me; forgive me that I run.

I’ve locked up my doors,
my number’s in the mail.
I can hear your hurt
in the silence you nail.

I gave you the years
I had left to give.
I spent the hours
waiting to live…

While you ached for none.
Forgive me; forgive me, if I run.

If you come looking,
close your eyes.
Don’t take in the darkness
of hope when it dies.

It’s over, I know it’s done.
Forgive me; forget me, when I run.

Devil’s Rain

June 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

“What grace befalls the wicked.  The sting and distress that plague the righteous should inhibit the deeds of the depraved, but seek civility to wound and destroy.  Ever in quest to sodomize what little virtue is left in the world.  Ever in the hunt.”

“What grace befalls the wicked?  This grace that befalls the wicked is the avariciousness that beckons you in the night.  That sting and distress, upon which chooses to pass over charged wickedness, is what feeds the rage in your over polluted gut.  That soothes the temper of thirst on your faithless tongue.”

“Is this to propose I survive in the hands of the Devil’s Rain?  That the mere existence I live is complete by sheer avidity?”

“Certainly not.  It is implied, if not spoken, Devil’s Rain is exclusively the dwelling’s crown and your existence is whole by lust for its worldly molestation.  Wickedness is the broth in which the sanctimonious stew.  Wickedness does not make the soul; it is made of the soul.”

“To call to mind that I, of all sincere evils on Earth, am a feasible ingredient in the atrocious consommé of impiety — it’s preposterous.”

“A man of faith cannot plummet?”

“A man of faith can shatter.  A man of God is indissoluble.”

“Are you a man of faith or a man of God, Amadeus?”  Setting herself directly before Amadeus, Darcy stretched her legs with a purr.  Breaking him was of little interest, but shaking him could prove to be exceedingly entertaining.  His eyes darted from her stretch to the walls.  Fear nuzzled him, eliciting another purr from deep within her throat.  Without intent, she leaned in closer; he was a meal ticket to a higher calling.  “No answer rests within?”

“Why ask?”

“Why allude?” she coiled her arm around his neck, her breath brushing his ear.  “Are you of faith or God, Amadeus?”

“Of God.”

“Indeed.”

“Indeed?”

“Only a man of God would warm his soul in the house of Satin.”

The shove was abrupt, unexpected.  Unprepared she fell backwards to the chair as he rose in a fit, “Walls are but that and a woman is less.  Whatever the name, Satin sits in the bowels of Hell and no herald will have me mount the occasion — nor the courier.  Do you think I’m a fool?”

“You and your parishioners feast with transgression’s capital.  A surreptitious indulgence in the capital that sin has earned scampers, almost feral, in Jehovah’s Rain.  Growth is unmistakable.  Wider, but never wiser.  Do I think you foolish?  Scarcely.  Mad and morally comatose, unquestionably.”

“We accept no investment from Devil’s Rain.”

“Fittingly puzzled,” another maddening purr rose.  Was she cat or woman?  “A flagrant wool of perplexity canvassing those miserable eyes, my heart should break had I one to wound.  Come.”

Hesitancy was not quite what he felt as he watched her stalk from the room.  Desperately he tried to remember where he entered so that he might exit.  No more did he believe in Satin dwelling in a house than he reasoned ghosts settle in an attic.  It was the man, or woman, who chose to follow the paths of evil.  With free will, all were liberated to select their path and none could be forced to partake in the worst of habits.

Nonetheless, he feared for his faith, for his sanity, as he watched her sweep from the room. Even the innocent, unobtrusive beckoning of ‘come’ had been sinister, as if there were something far greater than evil waiting in the rooms beyond.

“You asked I come once and you have had my audience.  I now ask for an exit.  I have greater peoples of interest than that waiting here.”

She paused, a sudden turn, “Do the exterior resonances of the interior affliction clatter for faith?”

“For sanity — for sanity alone.”

“Wicked inventions command depraved declines. Come.”

Twist after turn through a hallway of rooms, Amadeus shivered against the sounds and sights. The gnashing of tongue, the floundering of uniform pulp, was too much. The endless twining of quay and ship; the spun-out, meaty fingers with dexterous grips; and the undemanding membership to madcap headship offended him inwardly as far as inwardly could go.

“Tell.” Darcy stopped, opening the only closed door. “The right-hands caught left-hand; households but ordinary lushes underneath a shrewdly cloaked, covetous mask.”

“No.”

“Denial?”

“Refusal. This is Devil’s Rain. No name or quarrel beyond will satisfy me otherwise.”

Pushed into the room, he shielded his eyes from his father’s room, and felt himself tugged away through another door. Door after room, discretion after debauchery, Amadeus shielded his face and swallowed his conviction.

“Sisters. Brothers. Mates. Lovers. All men of God, beings of credence and verity.”

“Conclude! For the love of God, I solicit a conclusion, close this program of persecution.”

“Query over what grace befalls the wicked. Claim as you desire the wicked sodomize the virtuous, but first show me the righteous not a partaking mischief. Arrange this populace at my feet! Prove to me depravity seeks to mutilate and rescind morality without, first, consent from the principled.”

“No.”

“Alight, or collapse, from that lofty steed, Amadeus.”

Crumpled against a wall, his face buried in his hands, Amadeus whimpered and wept. “I am damned by these sights. Fingered and spoilt.”

“We are spoilt purely by a visionless and canopy fealty to truth as a solo faction. Wickedness is unearthed in deeds that buckle or maim the substance of the guiltless. Autonomy and inclination are no fouler than the gasp life first gives.”

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    I survive the daily onslaught of self-criticism and, thus far, I still write something every day. Obviously, I can't grow as a writer without having written some things inadequately. I take personal growth as a bragging right.

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