Trifecta 3rd attempt: Down To Just One Thing…

So from my second (found here, of course) Trifecta Writing Challenge attempt to this, there has admittedly been just a bit of a lag.

This week’s one-word prompt:

Manipulate (transitive verb)

3: to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose : to doctor.

I apologize for the delay in “coming ’round,” and as always, I do hope that you enjoy. Please also take a moment to check out the latest issue of Woven Tale Press – a talented group of writers and artists whom I am honored to say asked me this last time to sit in with them…

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The room was cold, barren and obsolete. But in all honesty, he no longer cared.

He’d grown accustomed to life being unpleasant, accustomed to being alone. So acutely and irrevocably alone.

He woke every morning to the knowledge of it. The voices, wisp-like prancing through his awakening thoughts of once happy children being overheard, as they scrabbled haphazardly down the stairs, were now just distant and dust-filled memories – cruel mental prompts of the life that had been wrenched from him. The life that he had once made, the life that he’d let slip through his damned fingers by trusting her that one last time.

Even the cats who unwillingly boarded with him seemed to keep their peace when first he woke, as if to allow him uninterrupted, his unwelcome reverie.

In years previous, he could manipulate the experience – pretending that he still owned a life that he no longer did. Squeezing his eyes closed hard against his brain, he’d pretend once more that his measly two-bedroom flat was again the two-story estate where he shared in his children’s daily laughter and delight. But eventually, and no matter how heartening the experience, his eyes would once again have to open, the invading light, daily stealing away all his hope. The silent cats would stare quizzically at him from the bed’s foot, wondering why this man made such odd moanings every morning while from his eyes leaking so much useful water. Squeezing his eyes closed hard against his brain, the exercise had become tiring. The ruse had become self-evident, and as a result, he eventually gave it up altogether.

In fact, he eventually gave up on everything altogether. He surmised – somewhat logically – that if this life already so closely mirrored the Godless one he presumed to follow, then what earthly difference could it make for him in forestalling from moving on from this one into the next?

And even in this final unpleasantry, as he surrendered the felines remained resolutely mute.

•••

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You Suck.

You suck at life…

You suck in your marriage…

You suck at fulfilling your potential…

You suck in love…

Hell, you even suck at limiting this post to just 5 songs…

You suck.

•••

Please visit Jen’s Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday for more songs about sucking.

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PS: Should you listen to only (1) this week, go with track number #6, as it is damned near the “You Suck” anthem of all time. But also try to give picks 1 through 5 a audio peek as well. I mean, hell, this IS a mix tape, right?

Leonard Nimoy Gets Laid…

Listen, love ain’t free. You and I both know it, so let’s stop beating round that sad old bush and face the facts, OK?

Even when you wistfully think, “hey, no strings attached,” you just know that you’re lying to yourself. There’s ALWAYS strings attached. If not in heart, then at the very least, in purse…

And sometimes in heart as well, sometimes even a heart filled with disappointment…

But for the masses, disappointment is a worn-out old suit. Ill-fitting, uncomfortable and an embarrassment. Especially when the purse beckons towards instant gratification, especially when disappointment can simply be turned into a jaunty lil’ jingle to help celebrate the sin…

And speaking of jingles, are there any better than the one where instant attraction leads to instant fireworks? And instant fireworks leads to rings being exchanged? And rings being exchanged leads to some sort of happiness ever-after? But most often, only after those rings have lost their shimmer, going off on their merry pawn shopping way…?

But that’s just it – a blessed few get to realize their happiness ever-after, and the rest of us are simply relegated to dealing with the truth of the matter (most usually, only long after our purses have been drained of cash and fight) that eventually everyone has to pay, even Nimoy…

•••

So Jen told us this week’s Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday prompt was “No Strings Attached,” and I instantly gravitated towards prostitution. None too sure why, but I feel that Anita said it best, when she cooed that she had been through the “mill of love,” only to find every type but True. And maybe that in itself is the truth of the matter. I mean, at least when dealing with General Hooker’s women, you know that you’ll be broke by the end.

Oh, and speaking of Hooker’s women, here’s your bonus track for this week – I hope that you enjoy =)

Surrender.

“The past can’t hurt you anymore, not unless you let it.”

~ Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

“Daddy… Daddy?”

With no response, I uttered again, “Daddy?” But still he slept. Soundly, and on his back, in the dark coolness of their bedroom. Peaceably he snored, with a tranquility seldom seen during his waking hours. Presumably off again, on one of his Navy-day adventures. Loving the song, women, and wine of yesteryear. The times he used to speak to us most fondly about. The man he had once been, and one could only assume, wished that he still was.

But this was not about him. No, it was about me. As would become so much a pattern to my life, it was about me. And as would become so much a pattern to my life, though I desperately needed to reach out to someone, I didn’t, for the mere fear of not wanting to “bother them.”

Meekly, from the corner of their big bed, I murmured again, “Daddy?”

No response.

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“Daddy. Please wake up daddy. Please tell me everything is OK daddy. Please let me know that all my fears are unfounded. That all the monsters and the fiends and the ghosts are all make-believe, daddy. In my head, daddy. Please tell me that daddy, please.”

But he didn’t. In part because he couldn’t. In part because it would have been a lie. In part because his dream-land adventures were, in themselves, an escape for him as well. An escape from the very same monsters and fiends and ghosts as were plaguing me.

“Daddy, please tell me they’re all make-believe. Please.”

“But they are not, my son. They are real, even if they won’t eventually appear as you currently imagine they will. Even then, they are real. The monsters are real, though they look much more like incompetent and ruthless bosses and overlords, than they do oversized creatures with maddened eye, and glaring teeth. And the fiends are real too, even if they look much more like friends and relations who you felt you could trust – did trust – only to have them use that trust against you, pushing upon all the softest spots you shared with them, in an effort to have their way.”

“But the worst son, the very worst are the ghosts. The ghosts that come screaming right up from the roots of your family tree. The ghosts of your bad habits and phobias. The ghosts that tell one that they’ll never be good enough, while telling another that there could possibly never be another wiser or more correct. The ghosts that bind a family to its own destruction, the ghosts that kill some with self-loathing, while suffocating others with pride. These ghosts of who you are – though you aren’t – these are the very worst.”

“Daddy, does it get better? Do they go away?”

“For me, they did not. Because I never allowed them to, because I had to maintain control. You know many like that, and you too suffer the same disease. They’ll get you in the end as well, if you’re not careful.”

“Daddy, what should I do?”

“The easiest thing in the world to do, the hardest thing in the world to do. Give up control. Just give it up. Surrender. When the farmer plants the seed, does he fret everyday over whether it will grow or not? No. He simply does what he knows needs to be done for a good crop to result, and then lets Nature do the rest. Be like the farmer, son. Plant the seed, do your best, and wait. Just surrender to Life, and wait.”

“Will they go away then, daddy? The monsters, the demons, and the ghosts?”

“The first two, no, but the third can be greatly reduced. Recognize them for what they are, and you can then work towards dismissing them. Keep in mind, your old life will be destroyed in the process, but it’s simply a skin waiting to be shed, after all. And once done, the monsters and the fiends become inconsequential. A mere nuisance to the New You. The new beautiful, liberated and True You.”

“Is what you’re telling me true, daddy?”

No response.

I’m back in his room, and he is still asleep. As he has been this whole while. Back then, just for the night; and now, forever.

The final question I fear, was left unaddressed, as it can only ever truly be answered by me. In my own time and fashion.

“In my own time and fashion, daddy. I will surrender, and I will see.”

•••

Happy Fathers Day, dad. The adventure continues…

Many Happy Returns

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Could you spare me a few minutes, Time?

Spare you? Now why would I want to spare you?

Well, you see, with work, family and school obligations all crushing in upon me, this last week makes me feel as if I’ll never catch up. I’m collapsing under the weight of obligation.

So, you bit off more than you could chew, and this is somehow my fault?

Well, no. It’s just that I was hoping your could find it within your benevolence to help me out.

Ah. I see. Therein lies the problem. I am Time. I have no “benevolent” component. I only stroll through history as I see fit, in my own good fashion and cadence. No, much like your wife, I simply am what I am, and you either come to accept me, or not. The outcome matters not at all to me. Why don’t you see if Obligation will be willing to “lighten the load” a bit?

I did. He won’t. In fact, it was he who told me to come and talk with you.

Ha! He always was such a prick, that one. I suppose he got your hopes up as well?

Well…

Of course he did. He always does. Listen, the only way that you can get out from under this is to simply do the work that needs to be done. Stop complaining and simply achieve, task by task, until you’re all caught up.

But, these things I need to do are more important than mere “tasks.” The things I need to complete need to be done so correctly, versus simply done.

Again, not my problem. I can tell you one thing, you’ve wasted quite a bit more than the “few minutes” you originally asked me for, simply during this conversation. If I were you, I would re-prioritize yourself, as you’re only currently falling even farther behind while wasting your time looking for a way out.

So no help?

No.

Thanks for nothing.

You are very welcome indeed. If I give you an extra minute, you’ll want an extra hour. If I gave you even a few seconds more, you’d want additional minutes. You have the time you have – nothing more, nothing less – and just like all the rest, it’s up to you to make the best of it.

Now, move.

150 Words Plus a Sentence

Getting my assignment in by the skin of my teeth, and fearing a solid C+ (at best) will result from this week’s efforts, here is my submission for week # 7 of Master Class 2013.

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Clever how the cosmos can, in a single portent, be ingratiating yet sadistic. Neither one of them would have said it in that fashion, of course. Hell, neither one of them would’ve known the meaning of words such as these.

No, to them it was just all about chasing Happiness. Looking for something that can’t be found unless it wants to.

You see, Happiness is a lot like Love in that it simply pops in unannounced, where and when it wants, only to leave again in a similarly random fashion. You can’t “find it” any more than you could summon a unicorn to do your bidding. Still, they both spent their entire shared existence searching vainly for it’s light. A search, that by it’s very nature, made what was sought after unobtainable. Hidden forever from them both.

The cosmos may have given them each other, but instead of basking in that Joy, they wasted their years together, merely searching for a lesser satisfaction.

•••

“This week, to keep things interesting, I asked Steph to choose the first line from the fifth chapter of any book of her choosing. She chose Three Junes by Julia Glass.”

~ Master Class 2013

Daily News

As the song pumps through the air, my body once again aches. But not with the same ache as last time.

No, last time it ached pleasantly as I traversed the ever-tightening circle of sweaty bodies and hair dye. Swerving through the crowd, I rode the various waves of mutilation, as the tune thumped through the overhead speakers of the dingy club. A club that could have very well been called “Club Whatever You Do, Do NOT Use The Restroom Here.” Regardless, much like “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” it wasn’t the actual art that was the thing; so much as it was the community exercise that built up around its existence.

We were a family of people, all who had no family – or at least family who truly “got” us. We were Tribe. Brothers and sisters, many of whom shared benefits – often times out of convenience, and other times due to sheer lust-love. I can’t think of too many people who would turn down a beautiful, slightly overweight, shapely Goth chick with crazy “Robert Smith” hair and a smile to die for. One who was a wonderful kisser, and down for just about anything under the sun. Well, the moon would be more appropriate, I suppose. I mean, she was a Goth, after all. We were stupid, brash, brazen and accidentally beautiful, and we were going to change the world whether it knew it or not. Not by jumping into The Game and becoming The Man either, no sir. Rather, we were going to make The Man come to us.

Bow yer head, Bitch. We HAVE arrived!

I think of all this as the song plays again, years later, from my tinny little iPod. No “Man” is at my feet however, and no Brave New World awaits me as I listen. Nope, it’s just me. Speed walking on my mother-in-law’s treadmill. In my basement. The basement of the house that sits just on the outskirts of Suburbia. A suburbia that sits just on the outskirts of “Where The Rich People Dwell.” The pain this time isn’t resulting from joy of camaraderie either. No, the pain this time is of a mortal who is one year past being The Answer To Life, The Universe And Everything. A mere mortal who needs to get his non-punk rockian weight back down to a reasonable number, so that his wife might again find him attractive. Or barring that, at least allow him the good health as to live long enough to see his grandkids get married. I mean, he’s got to have at least one, right?

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The Tribe is long gone, as I walk in my basement briskly to nowhere, staying in the same exact spot, regardless of how many miles I tack on. Don’t worry; it’s a life analogy that I am painfully aware of as I write this, just one that I don’t want to address here. You know, to help me avoid breaking into tears, much like a two year old who’s just been found with a soiled pull-up, and no one to blame but herself.

The Tribe is gone, but the song remains. As do I. Life isn’t what I thought it would be. I’m sure you can say the same. Some of it is worse than I was hoping for, and there’s quite a bit that’s much better as well. I’m glad the song stuck around to remind me of a past that I enjoyed and a present that I know now I never will.

Such a power for one little song to have. And to think, all these years later, outside of the chorus, I’ve no earthly idea what Wattie and the boys are even talking about…