Thursday, January 27, 2011

iPhone Touch

You know what's kind of creepy? Sitting next to a man on the subway and noticing that he's looking at a picture of a woman's legs on his iPhone. Then you look up and notice that the same woman and the same legs are sitting across from you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Iron Boy

Sometimes I think the only reason I like going to the gym is because it gives me the excuse to throw around words like "pectorals" in my everyday life.

The Inventor

A few weeks ago I saw an ex girlfriend's father on the subway. He looked at me and turned his head, clearly only recognizing me as a distant memory. We weren't particularly close when I dated his daughter, but I always thought he was a very nice man.

He invented games, and was an art lover. I remember once he gave me a big glass of red wine and asked what type of films I liked. It was a very nice conversation.

But as for this day on the subway, we didn't share a word. He nodded, I nodded, and that was it. I'll probably never see this man again, but I hope he's still inventing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Four Easy Pieces

You know what love is? Love is making toast for someone in the morning and giving them the two inside pieces of the loaf, and giving yourself the two butts.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lunch Break

Two days ago I went to an art gallery during my lunch break.

I stared at the above painting for over a half an hour. It made me so happy I know nothing technical about art. If I did, I might have tried to analyze my surroundings more. Instead, I just stared ahead like a puppy.

It's nice not understanding things sometimes. It's nice knowing that your thoughts can be completely silenced by something beautiful.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Short Story

So I'm trying to write a short story each week. Little less stressful than a book. ANYWAY...

Permanent New Year’s Resolution

Darrin got a death threat. It arrived at his apartment in a standard white envelope with no return address, an Elvis Presley stamp, and Darrin’s address typed in a font that a low budget horror movie might use, the one that makes individual letters look like they’re dripping with blood.

“Hm,” Darrin said. He was just waking up at 11am, his normal time. He opened the envelope, burped, and got a paper cut that drew blood on his index finger, as if the note was meant to kill him before he even read it.

“You’re a womanizer, a liar, and now you must die.”

Each letter of the message appeared as though it was cut from different magazine articles, giving Darrin a hearty laugh at its unoriginality before the actual meaning of it settled in. Darrin reread the note. He flipped it. He read it again, waiting for someone to jump out, giggle, and tell him this was all a joke, to relax, to have some Cocoa Puffs.

Sweat began to drip down Darrin’s Salvador Dali pajama bottoms, and his large belly began to heave, as if too unsure of itself to properly hyperventilate.

Darrin thought of every lie he had told in the past few weeks; every woman he had ever womanized.

“Fuck me,” Darrin said. And then he pissed his pants.

At the age of thirty three, Darrin had two prostitution charges, three counts of marijuana possession, and over two thousand dollars in outstanding parking tickets. He had also never paid his taxes. Ever.

That being said, despite the severity of Darrin’s recent mail, he had a strong objection to involving the police.

Instead, Darrin called an acquaintance, PJ, the closest thing he had to a cop.

“You’re not important enough to kill,” PJ said. He sat on Darrin’s couch, one hand down his pants and the other on the death threat, which he occasionally rotated, as if giving both of his hands an equal amount of time with his genitals.

“You don’t think this is a big deal?” Darrin asked.

“A real killer wouldn’t choose an Elvis Presley stamp,” PJ said. “Maybe Monroe.”

PJ worked as an unlicensed private instigator, hired by paranoids to see whether their spouses were cheating. It was the perfect job for PJ: paid well, unconventional hours, and gave him the excuse to spy and photograph people having sex, which PJ always considered the true perk of the job.

“PJ the PI!” his business card read. Darrin thought he was a pervert.

“You just need some vagina,” PJ said. “What about the girl down the hall? Bet she only fucks in weird positions!” PJ removed a hand from his pants and adjusted his shoulders, one forward, one back, as if doing an impersonation of someone with a disability.

“But the note says I lie to people,” Darrin said. “That’s what I do.”

“So what?” PJ said. “I see this every day. People like to threaten each other. No one commits to anything.”

“But what about the dust buster?”

“Fuck the dust buster! Now where is it?” PJ tossed the letter on top of a plate of friend rice. “I’m a busy man, you know.” He yawned. Now both hands were down his pants.

Darrin handed him a small baggy of marijuana.

“You said two,” PJ said.

“I said one.”

“You said two.”

PJ curled his lips, revealing flaky, dry skin. They both looked down at the death threat, which was beginning to soak up some day old soy sauce.

“You’re a liar,” PJ said. “Maybe you do have it coming to you.”

A doughnut shape of sweat surfaced through Darrin’s shirt. He knew nothing of PJ. Just that he took advantage of people. Just that he was a pervert. Just that he would do about anything for a little bit of money. And just that he was an acquaintance. Darrin swallowed and tried to form a smile in PJ’s direction. He then turned and looked at his dust buster, on the counter, the centerpiece of his apartment, a daily reminder of all of Darrin’s failures.

“Oh, I’m just fucking with you,” PJ said. He stood from the couch, laughing, which quickly turned into a raspy cough and him spitting on to the carpet. He cracked his neck, adjusted his belt buckle, a brass image of two breasts, and reached his hand out. Darrin shook it, too scattered to care that moments early it was down PJ’s pants.

“Just go to work,” PJ said. “And don’t worry about a thing.”

PJ walked to the door, kicking aside a few scattered books. Darrin fluttered his eyelids.

“One last thing, PJ,” Darrin said. “Why do you have a band aid on?”

“A what?”

“A band aid. I just felt it on your index finger.”

PJ raised an eyebrow and then his hand. There it was: a band aid, old, crusty, with a curly black hair sticking out from the bottom. Darrin imagined it was a pubic hair, and he shut his mouth to hold back his vomit.

“Paper cut,” PJ said. “Hate the bastards.” He giggled under his breath, as if thinking of a joke he knew Darrin would never understand.

PJ left. Darrin locked the door. He stared at his right hand, at the fresh paper cut on his index finger he got from the death threat.

“Fuck me,” Darrin said, and his doughnut shape of sweat grew into a carrousel.

Darrin’s boss was a fifty five year old man named Ted. He wasn’t overweight, but wore button down shirts always three sizes too small, making the little bit of fat he did have press up against his shirt fabric, usually pink, and leak out of all openings.

“I want you to pretend you’re an old lady,” Ted said. He sat at his desk and revealed a blender.

“An old lady,” Darrin said.

“An old lady,” Ted said.

Darrin worked for a company that was responsible for writing false product reviews on the internet. His job was to be a liar. Larger company’s coming out with clothes, workout machine, household products, toys, sex toys, and anything else that would soon hit the shelves of a superstore would contact Ted, who would contact Darrin, who would be given a product to review, all in hopes of generating sales with online sites. To not attract attention to this scheme, Ted not only gave Darrin a product each day, but also a persona to take on. A voice to write his review.

An old man reviewing an electric wheelchair, a housewife reviewing a toaster over, a teenage boy reviewing a hands free masturbation device. And today, it was an old lady and a blender. Darrin did it all.

“Okay,” Darrin said. “It’ll be done tonight.”

Darrin reached for the blender but was swatted away by Ted’s hairy hand.

“Why you so fucking blue?” Ted said. He used crass language with Darrin, but always spoke softly and calm, sounding sincere, confusing Darrin to whether or not Ted actually wanted to talk.

“I’m fine,” Darrin said.

“Well, you look like death,” Ted said.

Darrin swallowed and looked down to his paper cut.

“What?” Ted said. “You don’t want to review the blender? I got a vacuum, new toilet cleaner, a rat trap, any of that interest you?”

Darrin closed his eyes, imagining the blender in front of him without actually seeing it; imagining what he wanted to do with a life that he knew was numbered.

“I want to write a novel,” Darrin said. He smiled, the first time he had really smiled in weeks, though it only lasted for a few seconds. He knew he couldn’t write a book. Not him. Not anymore.

“Well, this isn’t a fucking publishing house,” Ted said. “I can’t believe you would bring this shit to me.” Ted was still calm, even jovial, as if they were discussing the weather. “And you’re lucky you still even fucking work here. Think I forgot the dust buster incident?”

The dust buster incident, as Ted appropriately called it, occurred six months earlier. Darrin was given the assignment of reviewing a dust buster, which he did to the fullest, posting positive reviews on over 300 sites. Darrin, assuming he knew the ins and outs of a dust buster, never actually tested the product, however, and instead wrote his reviews based on creativity alone.

A week later, the dust buster was recalled after a handful of people were hospitalized due to a malfunction. It was discovered that turning it to turbo mode activated a spring mechanism that shot the end of it over ten feet in the air at speeds up to twenty miles an hour. One woman lost an eyeball due to the turbo mode. One man broke a foot. And an elderly woman was shot backwards, tripped over a step, and was killed.

Another victim, a man who chipped three teeth with the rickashaying plastic, stated he bought the dust buster based on an online review. Darrin’s review.

“The the turbo mode was supposed to be silent!” the man said. “That’s what the review told me! That it would be like listening to the white noise of a waterfall!”

Darrin admitted to Ted he had not actually tested the dust buster before reviewing it, which consequently led to the one time Ted spoke to him in a manner as crass as his language. And although some of the dust busters did not suffer from the malfunction, Darrin was unaware if his did, or if it ever would, for after the incident Darrin left it untouched, on his counter, a centerpiece of his apartment, a daily reminder that not only was he a failed writer, but a liar who couldn’t even lie right, and a murderer of an old woman.

“Do you have any friends?” Ted asked.

“I have acquaintances,” Darrin said.

“Well, go out with them,” Ted said. “Live a little. That’ll cheer you up.” He rested his arms on the table, giggled, and a roll of fat squeezed out from his collar. “I’d give anything to be your age again. I’d kill for it.”

Ted stood, as if timing his movements with his increasing thoughts.

“That’s the problem with you,” Ted said. “All young people. You’re not smart enough to enjoy being young. Someone should take it away from you.” He walked behind Darrin: pacing, slapping his thighs, stretching his tight shirt, all of which Darrin watched in the faint reflection of an aluminum plague Ted had hanging on his wall given to him by a local little league team. “You hear me?” Ted said. “You’re like a New Year’s resolution. Make plans for a week. Then forget about it! That’s no way to live life! Have to live life to the fullest. And if you don’t, someone might grab it. Just kill you when you’re not looking!” Ted slammed his fist. Darrin was silent. He leaned back in his chair and stared at a circle of sweat beginning to seep through Ted’s pink shirt fabric. The blender was still resting between them, small and alone.

“What do you mean exactly?” Darrin asked.

Ted smiled. He walked back to his chair, sat, and slid the blender closer to Darrin’s side of the table.

“I’ll need your signature for the assignment,” Ted said. “Then off you go.” Darrin looked down at a one page contract, which stated he would fully study the product and report any malfunctions before writing his review. Everyone singed this, at least since the dust buster incident. It was standard. Though at the moment, Darrin was frozen, sweating, unable to swallow. It wasn’t the contract that provoked this sudden distress, however, but the pen.

“Fuck me,” Darrin said.

“Excuse me?” Ted said.

Darrin dropped the pen to the table, as if stung by a hornet. What he feared most became true. It was an Elvis Presley pen, clear as day, the type you could turn upside down and see a figure float in a capsule of gel. Darrin picked it up, hand shaking, and signed the contract.

“Fan of The King?” Ted asked. He was flexing, turning a pink shirt into a silverback.

Darrin scooped up the blender like a newborn and left without saying a word.

Back at his apartment, Darrin sat at his work desk with his lap top and the blender to his side. He turned it to level one.

“Soft like butter,” he typed. “Easy to press the buttons, regardless of my strong arthritis.”

Just like an old lady would say it, Darrin thought.

He turned the blender to level two, causing the blades to squeak and for the top half to shake.

"Perfectly still and quiet like a calm winter’s eve.”
He turned it to level three, making the blades stop and go like a new driver pressing the brakes every few feet.

“Smooth like my grandchild’s behind.”

It was so easy for Darrin to lie he wanted to cry.

He got up from his desk, aching for Cocoa Puffs. Darrin was cuckoo for them. On the refrigerator door he saw the death threat hanging up by a magnet, a reminder, like how an overweight person would put pictures of athletes on their fridge to discourage them from eating junk food. Darrin was overweight too, though at the moment the possibility of his incoming death, by Ted, PJ, or any other person he had lied to or womanized in his life was the only thing he needed reminding of.

“Fuck me,” Darrin said.

And down the hall a song turned on. It was Jazz.

“Ah, fuck me!” Darrin said, again.

Jazz was Darrin’s least favorite type of music, not because of its sound, necessarily, but because he always considered it to be the most popular genre for people to only pretend to like without knowing anything about it. And as far as this particular jazz music went, Darrin knew exactly where it was coming from, adding to his disgust.

He exited his apartment and walked two doors down.

“Well, hello, killer,” Pam said, as she answered her door. She was laughing, face red, as if telling Darrin he was interrupting a wonderful party that he wasn’t invited to, which was true. Then she inhaled, as if telling Darrin she could smell something on his body that he should be ashamed of, which was piss.

Pam was a paraplegic. As neighbors, she and Darrin had few interactions, and what they did have seemed to be clouded by the fact that she was disabled and that Darrin was a deadbeat.

“Late morning, killer?” she’d say, seeing Darrin take out his trash mid day while still wearing his pajamas.

“Off to the gym, killer?” she’d say, as Darrin left his apartment, scratching his large belly with a cigarette in hand.

She was his nemesis, one that Darrin felt he could never lash out on, because for better or for worse, their relationship made him the permanent villain: a white man who was given health and money, surpassed in every fashion of life by a crippled who never complained. And Darrin always complained. She was better. He knew it. She knew it, and as he stared at her laughing in the doorway, coated with the smooth sounds of jazz, his hatred for her marinated.

“Pam, I’m trying to do work,” Darrin said. “Can you please lower your music?”

“Well, we’re just having a little party,” Pam said.

She smiled and rested her chin against the top curve of one of her crutches.

Occasionally, their mail would be mixed up, as often happened with neighbors, and Darrin would find government addressed letters to Pam. Paychecks, he thought. Handouts, is what he really thought, and he despised her for it. Not because she didn’t deserve them, necessarily, but because Darrin believed everyone was disabled in their own way. Everyone needed help. Especially him.

“I don’t mean to interrupt your party,” Darrin said. “But I can’t think with all this-”

Before Darrin could finish his words, the music was cut off, a perfect cue, and Pam fully opened the door. She giggled. Behind her was an apartment full of disabled people. The works: Down syndrome, wheelchairs, deaf, blind, autistic, quadriplegics, missing limbs. All of it. Each person staring at Darrin, waiting.

“Hi,” Darrin said.

Pam ran a local chapter of disabilities group, which Darrin only knew of due to a recent fundraising event she held in their building, which, naturally, everyone donated to. Even Darrin tried to contribute: three dollars and two dimes. Pam said, “Maybe next time, killer.”

“Just having a get to together,” Pam said. “You’re welcome to join us.”

Darrin stepped away from the door, nodding, as if the apartment was filled with rabid dogs foaming at the mouth and waiting for their master to say kill.

“I think I’ll pass,” Darrin said.

“Are you sure?” Pam said. “We might even turn on the Wii fit soon.”

Darrin clenched his fist, reopening his paper cut. He wanted to yell; to hit her. Instead, he looked down at his tight Star Wars shirt and saw a roll of his hairy belly hanging out. He had not changed from his comfortable apartment clothes to his pissed off neighbor clothes before coming over.

“Heading to the gym, killer?” Pam would say.

There was a sudden laugh, causing Darrin to look up from his belly and see a Down syndrome girl with two thumbs on her left hand pointing in his direction, mocking him, looking as if she was having the time of her life making fun of a freak. Darrin almost cried.

“Then one last thing before you go, Darrin,” Pam said. She walked into her apartment, using her crutches, one shoulder forward and the other back, giving Darrin the time to admit that regardless of his current situation, PJ’s impression of Pam deserved more credit than he originally gave it.

She returned to the door.

“I think this was delivered to my apartment by accident,” Pam said. She sighed and handed Darrin a pornographic magazine, one whose main focus was on woman’s large butts. On the cover, appropriately, was a woman’s large butt.

“Is this yours?” Pam asked.

“Yes,” Darrin said.

He received her government checks. She received his porn.

“Hm,” she said. “I thought so.” She dropped it to his feet. “Womanizer,” Pam said, and the door was slammed with the oncoming jazz.

Twenty minutes later Darrin lay in a dark room face down on a table. He was naked, sweating, looking like a prisoner waiting to be tortured. A liar, a womanizer, just like the death threat said.

Then an Asian woman entered wearing a hospital mask. “Ready?” she asked.

“Ready,” Darrin said.

The woman took a bottle of lotion and sprayed a circle on Darrin’s back, a bull’s eye.

“Feel good?” She asked.

Darrin nodded, and the massage began. She rubbed up his back and down to his ass, scrapping his flesh with her long fingernails, which she knew he liked.

The massage parlor was a fifteen minute walk from Darrin’s apartment, one he gave a weekly visit to; supporting his occasional marijuana sale to keep him 45 extra dollars in the green each week.

There were three masseuses at the parlor, though Darrin only went to one; Kimberly, the most un-Asian name he could imagine. Kimberly was middle aged, fit, with nothing out of the ordinary about her except for one thing: she always wore a hospital mask. Darrin assumed this was for hygienic purposes; after all, he was completely naked, spread wide, inches from her face. The real reason, however, was discovered two months earlier when during a massage session the mask accidently slipped off of her face, fell to the floor, and revealed the bottom half of Kimberly’s jaw to be missing and covered in scars.

She screamed, as if duck tape was pulled from her mouth, and the other two masseuses entered, yelling, preparing to fight, which, sadly, happened more often than not at this particular establishment. Kimberly called the women off, spoke something in Chinese, and covered her face back up with the mask.

In the dark room, Darrin could hardly see Kimberly, but he knew she was blushing, sweating, imagining she had just lost a customer due to her appearance. Darrin only smiled, butt naked, staring up at his masseuse.

“You can leave the mask off,” Darrin said. “I don’t mind.”

Darrin thought she was beautiful. He always did. With or without a jaw.

Kimberly pulled the mask tighter around her face to assure it would remain in place. She said nothing, and certainly did not remove it, regardless of Darrin’s approval. But since that day she looked at Darrin differently, gave him longer, more sensual massages, as if knowing he was a good person, just lost and confused; someone who would accept her even without a face, someone who needed to be touched by a woman.

She also started giving him hand jobs, promoting an occasional extra visit for Darrin each week.

“Flip over,” Kimberly said. And Darrin flipped, exposing his curved erection.

Here, Darrin liked to imagine Kimberly was actually attracted to him. The one place he wasn’t a freak. Here, he didn’t care that he was overweight, a looser, that he owed money to his landlord and the police; that he hadn’t talked to his family in months, missed the birth of his twin nieces, and that he couldn’t finish a single chapter of a book he’d been attempting to write for over three years.

Kimberly began rubbing Darrin’s lower stomach, fitting her fingers in the gap between his fat and hipbone.

“Feel good,” she asked.

He nodded.

Here, Darrin didn’t care that he had no friends, just acquaintances, that the only woman who would touch him was a faceless Asian he had to give a 25 dollar tip to in order to receive a hand job, and that he was the type of man who could make a room full of disabled people laugh their asses off, without trying.

Kimberly began stroking his penis, fingernails and all, breathing heavier behind her mask, pushing it in and out like a beating heart.

But above everything else, here, Darrin didn’t care that waiting back at his home was a dust buster reminding him he was a murdered and a death threat screaming that he deserved to die.

Darrin came. He wasn’t thinking of sex with his ejaculation, however, only of his pathetic self. This, sadly, is what got Darrin off, and with a flutter of his eyelids and a moan like a kitten, he was left with a teaspoon of sticky, white liquid resting in the hairs of his bellybutton.

Even Darrin’s orgasms were pathetic.

Kimberly giggled. That’s what Darrin’s life was, he now realized, a constant stream of giggles at his expense.

Minutes later, Darrin was outside of the room giving an old Asian woman a 50 dollar bill. It was a dark lobby, covered in paintings of Ying Yang’s.

“Five dollar tip?!” the woman said. “You serious?!” Darrin only received a massage from this old woman once, before permanently switching to Kimberly. She was all elbows.

“Next time I’ll give a bigger tip,” Darrin said.

“This is the third time you no tip!” the woman said. “Each time you promise to bring more! You liar!”

Her lips curled, caterpillaring a strand of thin, black hair beneath her nose. She was easily one of the most fowl women Darrin had ever seen in his life, fittingly, with a huge jaw.

“I’m sorry” Darrin said. “Next time.” He turned back to his room and saw Kimberly exposing part of her face from behind a curtain, watching them like a phantom.

“Ah!” the woman said. “We have your address from credit card, you know. We know where you live!”

“Excuse me?” Darrin said.

“You heard me,” the woman said. “Here,” and she reached something out for Darrin to grab. “Just give cards out. Reject pile! Funny letters! Advertise to people who tip!”

She handed Darrin a dozen business card, jabbing him with the sharp corners. And there it was: the address to the massage parlor, next to a Ying Yang, typed in a font that a low budget horror movie might use, the one that makes individual letters look like they’re dripping with blood. Just like Darrin’s address on the death threat.

The reject pile of business cards for a reject to hand out.

“Fuck me,” Darrin said.

“Yes,” the woman said. “Fuck you, indeed.”

Darrin dropped the cards and ran to the exit.

What a stupid day in a life, Darrin thought. And it was only 8pm. He stood outside of his apartment, slouched over, lumpy. All he could hear was jazz.

Darrin reached for the doorknob and swallowed. There he remained, motionless, until he finally began to cry. Darrin didn’t want to go home. He knew that. It was all he knew. He didn’t want to spend another second in a place that was shrouded in his failures. If Darrin was meant to die, by the hands of PJ, Ted, Pam, or Kimberly, then it shouldn’t be here. Anywhere but home; a place that reeked of his piss and old Chinese food. No. Darrin opened the door, ran inside, and grabbed the dust buster sitting on his messy counter. He wasn’t thinking a single thought. He didn’t need to. He just knew that the dust buster had to be gone. That he could be killed at any second, and the most important thing in the world was to cleanse himself of this demon; a demon for the low price of $19.99.

“You’re outta here,” Darrin said.

He left with the dust buster in hand, not spending a moment longer in his apartment then needed. He walked down the hall, fast, jiggling his belly, short of breath, each step a reminder of his dire physique. Darrin came to the end of the floor, to the garbage shoot; the end game.

He held the dust buster an arms length away, not giving the poison another chance to enter his body.

“Goodbye,” Darrin said, and he opened the garbage shoot, preparing to be reborn, not to die.

That’s when he heard the gunshot. Darrin turned. There was nothing, not even the smooth sounds of jazz. Another gun shot. Then another. Darrin half expected to fall to the ground, to be shot, to be dead, but he was fine, breathing, still fat, a looser, but still alive.

Down the hall were screams, followed by an apartment door opening, Pam’s door, and a handful of disabled people exiting in a fury. Wheel chairs, walkers, all of it, and Pam was in front, running like an Olympiad, not a paraplegic, no crutches at her sides, not one shoulder back and the other in front, but instead they were completely aligned, as if she had been healed of her disability - like she had never been broken in the first place.

Pam moved closer to Darrin, screaming, leaping like a young child, until another shot was heard and she fell to the floor, shot in the back.

“Late morning, killer,” she used to say to Darrin.

Pam crawled to Darrin’s feet, scratching the floor with her long fingernails. Behind her, disabled people continued to scream and run, most limping or wheeling, using their walkers to move closer to the stairs, and then back to the elevator. The Down syndrome girl with two thumbs ran into a wall, knocking herself out.

Pam coughed, spraying blood, inching her way closer. Darrin looked down at her body, past his thick gut, and saw blood seeping out from her lower back, occasionally spraying up like she was a humpback whale. Though her legs were still intact, healthy and strong, helping her crawl until she touched Darrin’s feet.

Pam looked up and died.

Darrin said nothing, and a bit of drool hung from his mouth and landed on the center of her forehead.

He almost apologized.

They were alone. Darrin, Pam, and the two thumbed girl, until a man walked out of Pam’s apartment, gun in hand. He wore a trench coat, was slim, six feet tall, and carried a walking stick, which he used to hit the floor in front of him to feel for oncoming objects. He was blind.

The man moved closer, looking straight out, smiling, as if he feared nothing in this world, seeing only blackness. Darrin stared at his long sideburns; must have been an Elvis fan.

The blind man stopped when he hit Pam’s body. He sighed and placed his walking stick in the growing puddle of her blood, as if using it as a thermometer. He looked up, listening to the heavy breathing and light moans coming from in front of him. You didn’t need vision to know Darrin was there.

Silence. The blind man with the gun. Darrin with the dust buster. The old west.

“You know, I’m fine with the fact she could walk,” the blind man said. “People lie. I understand that.” He turned, dragging a line of Pam’s blood with his walking stick, making an almost perfect circle. “But cheating on me…with a woman...No.” He shook his head, began walking into the distance, spreading more blood.

“Fuck me,” Darrin said. And the blind man turned with a smile.

Darrin looked down at the dust buster, his failure, his weapon, his one chance to do something good. He raised it, pointing it straight ahead, his fingers twitching, thumb on the turbo mode, waiting.

And he closed his eyes. Darrin could be a hero in this moment, knocking out a blind man with a flying piece of plastic, a malfunction, while at the same time concluding that he was indeed a murderer, a positive reviewer of a deadly dust buster.

He pressed it. Turbo time. It turned on. Nothing else. Nothing. No shooting off plastic. Just the faint white noise of a waterfall and the light shaking of the dust buster in his hand.

The blind man giggled, like everyone did, and he was gone.

Darrin remained still. He almost pissed his pants, but held it back with a clench. He then exhaled the deepest exhale he had ever exhaled in his life. Now he knew. Even if he had tried the dust bust before reviewing it six months ago, tested every feature of it, maybe it still wouldn’t have malfunctioned in his presence. Maybe he couldn’t have known what would have happened; couldn’t have stopped all the injuries. Maybe he wasn’t a murderer after all.

Blood circled Darrin’s feet, making puddles around his shoes, as if transferring over its life.

“I’m going to be better,” Darrin said to Pam’s dead body. “I’m going to work out more, write my novel, try to date, even look for a new job.”

The blood began stretching down the apartment hall, drawing pictures and lines that only Darrin could see. He dropped the dust buster. There was a small splash.

“Thank you so much for this chance,” Darrin said. And he walked down the hall, leaving foot prints of distant memories all the way back to his home.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


New Law: If you're pushing a baby stroller AND have a baby bjorn attached to you, never rush across a street when you have a red light, even if you're pretty positive you'll miss a speeding car by two feet, which seems to be the standard "safe distance" for New York City pedestrians. Cuz remember...


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Do

Coolest thing I've ever heard about a wedding:

"I want to get married and then immediately slam dunk a basketball."

Monday, January 17, 2011


It's funny being the oldest person in a room. As a 25 year old I'm not too used to it, but as minutes turn into months I keep finding myself in situations where I am. And I like it.

Namaste? Heard of it? They say it in yoga. It's yuppity, hippity, but it's what I like.

I go to a donation based studio near New York University, so naturally it attracts a college aged crowd, and people like me, who don't want to spend a lot of money. Anyway, I'm starting to realize that the main reason I like this studio is because I'm usually the oldest person there. Sometimes I even think about growing a big beard, which I'm very good at, to add another decade on my appearance. Then maybe I'd hear, "Who is that old guy doing the downward facing dog?"

No, I don't think people would actually say this, but still, it's interesting getting older. As I see it, you notice more about what came before you, and people who are younger than you. I'm not saying it makes you wiser (I would never equate age with wisdom), but it's like your peripheral vision gets a little bigger, so maybe by the time you're 95 it'll be so wide you'll see everything around you, EVERYTHING, even if your real vision is fading and you're going half blind, you'll still be seeing more than any other time in your life.

I hope to one day be 95 and go back to my yoga studio. I'll probably have to be carried up the stairs. I'll just lay on my mat and watch people stretch their young bodies and touch their smooth skin.

The teacher will say, "Downward facing dog, everyone."

And I'll laugh my ass off.

The Painter

Last night on the subway I saw an old woman holding a modern art book. It was a bit wrinkly, and on the side of it was a stamp that read "Brooklyn Library."

At the old woman's feet was a cloth bag with an art pallet and a few paint brushes sticking out. She was adorable. I imagined she was taking all of this home to one of her grandchildren. A gift for them to learn how to to paint, to discover their dreams. But I was wrong.

The old woman looked up at me and smiled.

"I'm learning to paint," she said. And she smiled wider, as if she had been waiting her whole life to share this moment - like she was discovering her own dreams.

It wasn't a gift. It wasn't for her grandchildren. It wasn't for anyone in the world. It was hers. That's it. And it made me so very happy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I know it's strange, but I’m always more likely to give a homeless person a dollar if I only have one left, as opposed to a wallet full of money.

Funny how the brain works.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Short Story

Funny Colors

There’s a middle aged man sitting next to me on an airplane. He’s got a box resting on his lap, about the size of a newborn, wrapped in glossy, jade paper that reflects holographic stars back at me when I turn my head a certain angle. The corners of the wrapping paper are folded to a perfect point, and the bits of tape exposed on it are all the same exact length. The man smiles at the box, grips it tight, as if he’s telling the world he’s spent years of his life wrapping it and he’ll never let it go.

A stewardess walks up.

“Excuse me,” she says. “You’ll have to put your present under your seat.”

“Who said it was a present?” the man says.

“Well, I just assumed,” the stewardess says. “Since it’s wrapped so nicely.” She stutters a bit and looks down the aisle. We’re in the middle of the plane, leaving a handful of other passengers she still needs to check on before we can launch.

“Yes, yes. It’s a present,” the man says. “A very important one. So important I have to leave it on my lap. To protect it.”

The man lifts the box, smiling, proving how light it is and, indeed, how easily it could be damaged.

“But it’s for your safety,” the stewardess says.

“But what about the safety of my belongings?”

“Sir, I promise the box will be fine.”

“Present,” the man corrects her. “It’s a present, not a box.”

I press against the wall of the plane, trying to be as far away from the conversation as possible, while still staring at the jade wrapping paper and the little holographic stars coming out. I close my eyes, sigh, and the situation becomes clear: two people are arguing over an unidentified object on an airplane.

Usually I love the window seat.

“Well, how about I just put it to my side,” the man says. And he puts the present to his side, demonstrating how efficiently his words can be turned into actions. “See, now it’s between me and this nice young fellow.”

I’m the nice young fellow.

“And the present will be our little baby,” the man continues. “Happily sitting between its’ parents. He laughs, maybe a little too loud, like he knows he’s caused trouble and he’s trying to fix it with jokes.

The stewardess says nothings; not even a hint of laughter under her thick lipstick and heavy blush. She just looks down the aisle, to the dozens of people still needing to be reminded of their seat belts and tray tables. She turns back at me. It’s my decision. We all know it.

So I nod.

The stewardess walks off and the man adjusts his white t-shit, fanning his skin, as if preparing for a new chapter of the flight.

“Thanks,” he says to me.

With the present between us, I notice his large belly and the heavy amount of skin sagging from his arms, like he used to obese, lost hundreds of pounds, and is now halfway to gaining it all back; all of it hidden by a white t-shirt, workout clothes.

“You’re welcome,” I tell him. “And I’ll try not to touch your present.” I prompt my arm a few inches above the jade wrapping paper and the holographic stars. He smiles at me; a smirk. We both know I can’t hold this position for the duration of the flight.

I’m wearing a flannel - not workout clothes.

“You can rest your arm,” the man says. “I trust you. Really, I do.” He stares at me, fluttering his eyelids, and for whatever reason I believe he really trusts me.

A ding is heard, and the captain gets on the loud speaker, making an announcement that the plane will take off soon.

“Do you like the wrapping paper I picked?” the man asks. He pats the present resting between us like it’s the head of a toddler.

“Yes,” I say. “It’s nice.”

“Spent all day picking the color.”

“Yes,” I say again. “Jade is very nice.”

He leans back in his seat, cracking his shoulder, taking in all of my L shaped body.

“That’s right,” the man says. “It’s Jade. Most people would have just said blue though. But you’re a smart one.”

“I just know colors.”

“No, you’re smart,” the man says. “What do you do?”

“I’m a student.”


“I didn’t say I was a good student.”

“Well, what kind are you?” He leans forward, hovering over the present, as if waiting for me to validate all of his assumptions.

“I’m a med student,” I say.

“Ha,” the man says. Not a laugh, he actually says ‘ha’. “See, I know people. That’s my talent. Like the stewardesses. Try pulling that with the wrong one you’ll get thrown off the plane. But find one with a thick layer of blush covering the wrinkles formed by exhaustion; you got someone who’s easily going to give up on you.”

“But what if she snapped?” I ask.

The man scraps his tongue against the tip his teeth, like he’s got a curly hair stuck in the back of his mouth that he’s trying to secretly remove.

“Med student,” the man says, ignoring my words.

I smile. It’s my turn to talk, but I just smile, and the plane begins to move, shifting the present between us – our baby.

“You know much about jaundice?” the man asks. His voice lowers, changing pitch with the changing subject.

“For newborns,” I say.

“That right,” he says. “For newborns.” He exhales, as if once again preparing for a new chapter of a flight that hasn’t even launched.

“You see my wife delivered yesterday,” the man says. “A month early. That’s where I’m heading. I work up here and commute each week to see her. Of course I was planning on being there for the delivery, though. I wanted to be there more than anything. Anything.” He’s motionless, not a flutter, and I nod, doing my best to reassure him that I agree he’s the type of man who would want to be present for his child’s birth.

“She’s got jaundice,” the man says. “My little girl…That’s not serious though, right? Just asking because of your field of study.”

“It’s fairly common,” I say.

“So, she’ll be okay?” he asks, though by the tone of his voice I’m not sure whether it’s a question or a statement.

“Pediatrics is not my field,” I say.

“Oh,” he says. “Oh.”

A ding is heard again. The captain is back, telling us we’re next on the runway.

They say doctors never apologize to you. No matter how long they make you wait, sit in your underwear, give you bad news. You’ll never hear them say sorry.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I’m sure your little girl is fine. Jaundice is nothing serious.”

The man just nods, up and down, over and over, answering questions that no one is asking. Maybe I hurt him more than I realize.

“My wife says she looks saffron,” he says. “A little girl. Four pounds. The color saffron. My little girl is the color saffron.”

His head nods heavier, like the plane is in turbulence, but in reality we’re still just headed towards the runway, nice and smooth. Then his face turns red. A droplet of sweat forms on his bicep, beginning to drip down his saggy skin towards his beautiful present. I’m tempted to wipe it off, to tell him what a shame it would be to get sweat on the glossy, jade paper.

“Most people would have just said yellow,” I say. I smile, trying to tell him that I know people, too. That there’s nothing to worry about and it’s okay to laugh. Instead, we both stare down at the present. I wonder if it’s doll for his little girl; maybe a gift for his wife. But then the man wipes a tear from his eye, and, as ashamed as I am to be thinking it, I wonder if the present is an urn.

“I’m sorry,” the man says. “But I don’t feel like talking to you anymore.”

He looks out to the other passengers. There are a few empty seats ahead of us, and I wonder if he’s going to move. I look at the present, our baby, and by the angle of my head I can’t see a single holographic star.

The plane prepares for takeoff.

Monday, January 3, 2011


I always feel bad for flight attendants before the plane takes off. They're up there for us - smiling, pointing out exits, trying on safety belts, and everyone is just talking, reading, and wishing they could play with their electronics.

I guess that's how people are built, though. No one gives a shit about crashing in a plane until they're crashing in a plane.