Tag Archives: daily prompt

Anselo’s Poetry – A Story – Part 7

I’ve been in Dayton five days, but it feels like much longer, and I have at least another five to go. My world here has mostly lain on a triangle path of my hotel room, the dusty and ill-kept seventh floor office where I have been performing regular open-case brain duplication, and the limited dining options in downtown. Time in the real world flows in hours and minutes, but in my world, its only measures are the teardown, the meditative waiting for the audible “beep-beep” of a successful dupe, and the packaging of the precious electronic payload into cardboard boxes, protected only by styrofoam and tape.

I had walked about a mile and a half out of the decaying downtown core to a moving truck rental shop in order to purchase the boxes the first day. The only store in-city that sold boxes charged triple what the moving place did, and seeing that my fixed bid contract meant that every penny saved went directly into my pocket after I got reimbursed, the walk was worth it.

A walking tour of a rust belt city well past its prime should be part of every business school curriculum and required for every entrepreneur before they deposit their first check from investors in order to wring the hubris from them. There are excellent reminders of the impermanence of our working endeavors everywhere.

Empty streets of downtown with previously prime, vacant retail space whose blank windows reflect the emptiness of so many who pass before them. All patiently offer a name and a phone number to the next dreamer who peers past the despair and sees an oasis of activity in a desert of doldrums.

Shuttered brick factories, rusty gates chained, weeds exploding from every crack in the pavement, signage of some long gone sub-sub-contractor to a former global conglomerate weathered to indecipherability. Once vital commercial organs are now cancerous blots in the geography of commerce, decaying until removal.

Duck into the grocers for some snacks and see the sad, poor collection of produce and vegetables, and the overweight of carbohydrates to protein. You can sense the resignation of those for whom shopping there is a regular part of their lives and then you’ll see, one, two, three, four people in a row in line pay with food stamps.

Feel the gloomy vibrations from mixed-use blocks where graffiti- and gang-branded corner shops abut tidy but pale yards strewn with children’s toys. See where fire did not purify but stain. Hope is now far, far away in another country and where they dream of their own future domestic glories. If only they could both step back and see the ouroboros that links them, they might find a new pole star to follow, for the current one leads them to the same but individually expressed ruins – crumbling apparatus and Christo-like-wrapped blights.

Though my circadian rhythms are off-tempo due to the varying periods of my surgeries, when I do rest, it has been uneasy, as the feel of this place has depressed me and conformed me to the same undirected and uninspired gait of the locals. At times, when I open my eyes after rest, I am confused, unsure if it is pre-dawn or post-sundown. There is only the “beep-beep” and screech of tape to mark the passages, and they have no use for the sun.

This time, I awake in my hotel room, grope about for the light switch to the lamp on the nightstand next to me, and brush something small off onto the floor. I swing my legs to sit on the side of the bed. The light blazes and I cannot see for a bit, but as I blink dust and crust from my eyes, they eventually focus on something round between my feet.

There, laying on the carpet between my feet, is a white button.

Puzzled, I lean to pick it up, but my hand hovers over the disc. Maybe it is the sleep depravation or an echo of a bad dream previously long-forgotten, but a sudden queasiness settles in me the more I think of picking it up. Sitting back up, I stare at it while naked and trying to understand why I feel this way.

Then I start wondering where the hell it came from in the first place.

Clearly a shirt button, I perform a quick mental catalog search of the shirts I brought with me and come up blank. Everything I have with me is t-shirts or zippered pull-overs. I try and remember if it was there when I went to bed.

I have no recollection of it, but it would have been easy to miss. I give a mental shrug and ascribe it to a previous guest, with housekeeping finding it under the bed or couch and placing it on the nightstand for me, thinking it was mine. I lean over and snatch it from the floor, and on the way up, my mouth fills with a metallic tang and then starts to water. My stomach lurches, and I can feel the bile raising in my gorge.

As a child, I once went to a Mariners baseball game with my mother at the Kingdome, and inning after inning, munched down King Dogs like it was a perverted rally streak superstition. The team probably lost, but as I was scrambling out of bed towards the sink in the bathroom, the memory of the morning after that game vividly came back to me.

I am dreaming, and I am beginning to drown.

Lost or abandoned in the middle of an unnamed ocean on a clear night, the waves buffet me around as if the very breath of an angry Poseidon are behind each one. Walls of water that leap and crash – one moment I am leagues underwater – merge and split – the next fired through froth and sailing through the air – grind and tear – my limbs are tattered rags – and I am forced to gulp deep draughts of briny juice. Coughing and spitting out the salty remainder from illions of drops of rain that fell and dissolved the stone over which it fell for almost two trillion days, a pirate galleon crests the nearest wave, black raider banner flapping the breeze, demiculverins bristling and smoking, it zips athwart me and then the cannons begin to blaze.

I see the balls pass before I hear the powder-bursts, large melon-sized baseballs that soundlessly punch holes in the seething waves all around me, and then I hear the off-rhythm, bass staccato claps echo off the surrounding water and then vibrate my chest, and I expel more thimbles of my swallow into the sea.

“HOME RUN!!!” Comes the cry from the parrot-bedecked pirate captain as he and his crew wave their caps in wild salute as they zoom past, excepting one man who heaves a bucket-full of sausages over the side and towards me to float there like pork sea cucumbers, three straining at the wheel, and two pulling at the tiller, which guides them straight up and over the nearest looming El Capitan wave with mizzenmasts bending, wet canvas straining the riggings, and then disappear out of sight, leaving me with only a snapshot memory of their crenelated stern-castle and a terrible thirst as I went under for the last time.

I run to the bathroom, and while gripping the countertop and retching into the sink, I am confused, wondering how picking up a button I have never seen before caused me to recall an unpleasant morning once spent as a child cleaning my bed of vomited hot dogs. I rinse out my mouth and realize I feel fine now – hungry even. Truly confused, I let it go for now and shower.

Emerging from the bathroom, I spot the button on the floor, dropped in my haste. Gingerly skirting around it, I dress and spy through the curtains that another day is arriving and see that if I hustle, I can get to work before the crazy receptionist. Before I even shut my door on the way out, I am already thinking about how many computer brains I can duplicate prior to lunch.

In the elevator on on the way up to my dusty hole, I ascribe my earlier sickness to overwork, and vow to take some time off when I can afford to.

Short Plat – A Short Story


She had endured her childhood in that house and learned patience at the hands of her tormenting brothers and indifferent parents that all things eventually come to an end.

Pain. Sadness. Hope.

She remembered her shoulders pinned to the beige melamine floor by her oldest brother’s knees, her chest compressed to the point of almost being unable to breathe by his weight upon her, the slaps to her face by her other older brother while they both taunted and laughed at her struggles and pleas, and how she would focus on the sparkles on the popcorn ceiling, imagining them to be stars she could travel to, away from all of that. The stars would begin to twinkle as her eyes filled with tears.

Patience came to her when she was eleven, long after her hope was gone. Her eldest brother was arrested and sent away. It had never occurred to her that she might outlast the pain of him, and her hope sparked again as she finally saw that it was only a matter of time before she, too, would move on from this place.

Her sadness gave way to resolve, and her other brother for a while wavered in his appetite to physically torment her when she grew older and stronger and resisted his more menacing advances. But still he came, seeking opportunities to hurt her in his anger at their shared, miserable situation.

She kept her hair short to avoid hair-pulling and wore baggy clothes that hid her profile and skin, both making it harder for him to catch and hold her and to hide the bruises.

Patience was with her through the teenage school taunts of “Tomboy!”, “Dyke!”, and “Bitch!” from those unlucky enough to have had not yet learnt compassion and respect. She gave up trying to date when her brother spread rumors about her being a slut, a whore, and frigid. She laughed at his stupidity and used her anger to harden her resolve.

Once, her mom tried to reach out to her and seemed to want to hear why she was so unhappy all the time. But she had no words for her experience and didn’t know where to start, so she broke down sobbing.

“There, there,” her mother said, cradling her head and stroking her hair. “Maybe if you weren’t so frumpy-looking, you could find a boyfriend. That’d cheer you up! Want to go shopping?”

Her other brother eventually left for the service after a few years, and she was left alone with her parents. No longer shaded by fear, she blossomed. She poured herself into books and school, and earned a scholarship to a school far away.

The last night she spent in the house, she vowed to use her patience to come back some day and have it torn down and restore the lot to natural habitat. She wanted to destroy the cage that had held her all those long years.

She went to college, got a job, and saved her money. Her father died, and she did not cry because he was never there to learn why she should cry for him. Her mother sold the house, moved to Peru, and married a plumber. She saved more money.

Now, decades since she had last been in the neighborhood, she sat looking at it from across the street in a car. In the passenger seat was her handbag, and inside was her checkbook, backed by a bank account to buy this sliver of the world at almost any price.

The house looked smaller than she remembered it. The shabby, overgrown yard she had hid in as a child was now lush, trimmed, and well cared for. The faded, powder blue paint of the past was cloaked by a warm umber, which made the house seem to nestle snugly into the ground. The concrete steps to the porch that she had fallen down and broken her wrist on after being shoved were gone, replaced by a wooden stoop with blooming flower pots on each step. A minivan was parked in the driveway.

A girl, maybe eight, rode by on her bicycle with a big smile and waved. She waved back.

Her dark reveries were interrupted as the front door to the house opened and a toddler and a pre-schooler burst out, clomped down the stairs, and began to chase each other on the lawn. Two obviously harried but smiling adults followed carrying backpacks and bags, and loaded up the van. She watched them corral the children into the vehicle and leave with the windows down, singing to the radio.

A faint smile crossed her lips as she started the car and drove away for the last time.