Categories
Fiction Writing

Sam Saw It Too

“Good morning,

I hope this email finds you well. You must understand I feel the obligation to report anything out of the ordinary. There’s a young girl who expends a great deal of energy trying to go unnoticed. She moved into the building, maybe it’s been a year and a half, and probably would have gone just so—unnoticed, that is—if it hadn’t been my job to take notice of her. But then on Thursday I noticed she got out of an F150 around 4p and this time a young guy was with her. Not the type I think she’s usually with, but he got out with her.

Now, what happened next is just my biased interpretation of what I remember and I am sure you’ll have more than a few people call you about this, but I do not have time to double-back so I have to send this to you while I can still remember detail. So please do as my wise aunt says and “take the meat and throw away the bones.”

My memory is cloudy as it all happened so fast and emotion caught me by surprise being at home. Also this girl is how my daughter (one day) will be after I can teach her how to notice things. Anyway the girl and the young guy approached a car on foot from about 40 yards away. The girl knocked on the window, crouching down to the driver within at eye-level. The engine started running then. The guy moves the girl away and stands in her place. Eye-level. He motions for the window to come down.

No movement and the engine was still running. The guy handed her something, she started to puncture the tires one at a time and the guy stood at eye-level to the driver the entire time. Engine off after the third tire. The only tire untouched being the driver front tire. The girl hands the tool back to him and the person we’ve all been waiting for steps out of the car.

“Open it!”

The young man must have been as tired and angry as he looked because he couldn’t deal with the dialogue. And do you know… even now, as I write this… and every time I think it over I am more and more sure that young man is exactly the man I think he is.

In that trunk—they made the driver open it up—was a dog in painful condition. She had to carry the dog out of the trunk and brought to health from there, but it took all night. Luckily the vet is a mile and a half away, but it shouldn’t be this way.

Anyway the young guy looked like he wanted to carry that girl. The same way she needed to carry the dog. I just couldn’t believe any of it. The world is so strange. I’m exhausted now that I’ve written it all. If you need corroboration, Sam saw it too so I cc’d them. Be safe and keep the neighborhood safe.

– Torrence Oberlin Jr.”

Categories
creative nonfiction Poetry Writing

Unloving Love

Today, I’m at the freehand on Ohio (19 E), feeling fortunate that I can leave

then to

somewhere to sleep the same night

then to

my need to rush the gauntlet where people (are meant to) battle to meet (but ultimately fall short of) my lofty expectations

then to:

negative ruminations behind

and a mind to be sure when this happens next time…

I’ll end the war in a loft

some place more than just “somewhere to sleep the same night”

Categories
Poetry Writing

The Truth of The Spare Tire

What do I have a spare tire for? I don’t even know how to drive.

I told my friend I didn’t have friends and he agreed. I wanted to meet new people, but then I couldn’t find any good reason I’d leave my place to meet people.

Categories
Writing

May Not be Art At All

So many other projects and skyward goals laid themselves out to him, but he could not bear to surpass them. He hadn’t wanted to surpass. But the life of a saboteur chose him. He was built to consider only himself–support only himself. Humanize no one.

Instead, I looked to finding ways of believing the dream was a farce. At this moment, I closed my two wet eyes, forcing my energy into a charged fence around him.

The woman smelled of limes and some other spice my untrained nose was unable to pinpoint.

“He’s going to ruin your life.”

“Who?”

“You know exactly who I’m talking about.”

Her last letters rounded like a dog’s tail in its slumber. I may not have known the smells because I hadn’t had enough meals, but I knew her. A grandmother of mine, but not mine. Of skin, but not quite the undertone. She was unmistakably Dominicana. This statement (outside of feeling and knowing and knowing I knew who she was speaking through) slapped me in the mouth as a paradox on its own. But without smells and sounds and ways of hands and other loud whispers, no one can be quite any one tribe. But I knew.

Thursday morning, I had a pimply whitebump in my mouth. I resisted getting out of bed, telling myself it’d still be there when I got up. No rush. I brushed my teeth after some red wine. As I pulled the bristles back toward the front of my mouth between ragged breaths, I noticed the brownblack bottle of peroxide nearly wobbling on the sink’s edge. It all comes back to guilt, sloth, and lust. Hassle-free addictions. Often not even requiring extra stops to pick them up. And so hard to drop. Afterward, eventually looking up and asking, “But haven’t I always been this way?”

Can you imagine my surprise when the Twitter app force-quit on me each time I went to draft a tweet? It is still the best possible PR for me, honestly. The last account I had was a shitposter’s dream. I wouldn’t dare attach my name to it. Or “couldn’t bear”–you choose. Whatever fits your idea of who you believe is writing this. Assume you know anything about the writer of what you’re reading and you’ll see yourself soon enough in the patterns. Going into patterns like that. Until you become an example of an anxiety-riddled bundle of chaotic, untrained ‘potential.’ So the audience is what determines the meaning…writer’s fallacy… Too bored to unpack it.

Ah! Then I happen upon a tweet I feel too ashamed to share, but I felt the keenest connection to— What I enjoy could offend someone. So then what happens? I hide my opinion in the lower crown molding of the small wall I get in the gallery of my life’s work? Because the other perspective is that it might not be art at all?

And I cried and woke up crying again. The tear on my nose one moment and then my pillowcase the next minute.

What is the weakness with him?

Going in patterns like that.

Categories
Writing

The Few Bushes on Fire

Had I known there would be arguing, I would have stayed indoors. To be fair, it hadn’t quite been sanctioned by the governor for us to be out at all. At least not in our state. All uncovered and in close quarterers, seeking answers.

Arizona was still practicing a far from heroic form of social distancing.

But there was something I needed to smell. Before men arrived in bright colors to extinguish those same, bright hues. I needed to smell the almost cologne of tree leaves after all of the water has steamed away. I thought of bracing myself against the blaring sirens to come. It instilling in us a sense terror to follow terror. For a construction site had just burned down less than ten days prior, ten square blocks away.

What was left of the clear air, I felt guilty soaking up for myself. Somewhere, a parent who never wanted to be one, takes gleeful relief in the recommendation to save oneself before the children. And a young boy unwanted by his parents isn’t old enough to be grateful he can finally die today. I nearly let my worry of the world consume me. That was until my eyelids struggled to push back a film penetrating the oil and water of my corneas.

The battle for noise and confusion was being won by nature, but man was not far behind. The noxious air gave way to shouted questions, directed at no one in particular. Here was now a reason to be heard by the selfsame neighbors we’d each avoided since moving in.

I stood outside watching… becoming transfixed thinking of a medical clinic I passed five days earlier. The signage stood out—its contrasting colors calling my immediate attention. Burnt orange and violet combined for such displeasing imagery; there was no choice but to let it burn into my memory. They called it Fast Med, but it looks like the sort of place where you spend hours just waiting to be seen.

An older, grandpa-type brought a bluish tarp to the front. Ambling himself into the cut-out of a porch his wife spent a winter morning turning into a garden. “They’ll need to get used to it eventually,” I immediately thought the better of suggesting. He stared at me for a little while anyway, turning back to his garden and spreading the crinkles out before draping it over the gathering of Chicago Peace and Mister Lincoln roses.

My belly laughed a bit, the chuckle dying out in my throat. Him hearing me in English and recalling it in Spanish, I realized he probably would be struck by few extra layers of hilarity and grimness. Save Mr. Lincoln. Save the peace in Chicago. Yeah, he could go ahead and throw that tarp away. Or leave it covering those roses like corpses until the next fire a week from now.

So I stood still, my right hand on the cool, uneven trunk of a tree in the park some meters from my front door. Closing my eyes to the greyish air, I focused on remembering each fire I’d witnessed, lest they be forgotten altogether. I soaked in the noise like rancid CO₂. Doing my best to translate it. Modeling myself after the unaffected trees surrounding the bushfires twenty-two miles northeast of Mesa, Arizona.

On the morning of June 21st, Alan Sinclair reported, “The incident management team has assumed command of the Central Fire.”

Noting, “Cause: Human-caused” and nothing furthermore than that clipped mention of man’s influence.