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Sunday, March 27, 2016

That Imaginary Line

I've never been good at spending my time doing nothing. I guess that's why I started training for a marathon. Which is kind of stupid, since I'm not very fit, much less a runner. I think I was mostly trying to distract myself. Some thoughts live deep in the brain, in that forgetting place. They like to travel though, don't they? I knew even then that some of those were trying to visit the land of my upper mind. Being the kind of thoughts you forget I didn't know what they were, but I was pretty sure I didn't want to either.

You're supposed to run half the marathon, and you work up to it. Unfortunately there was a block, one I couldn't seem to cross. I reached that imaginary line, at Mason Ave and Dixon St, and pain bloomed in the middle of my brain. Like an inferno burning to life in the dry, gray tinder that rested there.

Seven days, the same number as the ones I watched from down the street. Seven days from reaching my wall at that intersection. That's when I saw the curtains twitch. I ignored it, just somebody watching. Weird though, because nobody ever looked at me. Not even the ones on the street.

The next day I saw a face, and eyes staring. No big deal though. Just someone curious about my run. Maybe about why I kept pulling up short at the end of their block. They'd get bored of it soon. Then another seven days pass, and they were still watching.

I stopped, like I always did, looking at the vacant lot, kitty-corner to where my feet cemented themselves to the ground. I saw the curtains move, like they were rustled by the wind. The anger my people are known for bloomed in my mind; a desert rose in the flames burning there. I crossed the street.

My hands clenched into fists and the fire burned brighter. I didn't know why, but this person had no business watching me. I knew it was a woman, because as I pounded on the door, I smelled her perfume. It had that faint patina of roses, like hers always did.

When Leesa opened the door, my jaw dropped. There was no way. She...

"You're dead."

"You're so sure?"

"When the accelerant took, you were on the wrong side. The building... it was a building right? A church."

"Go on, you are almost there."

"The building burned to the ground. Everyone inside was to die, a sacrifice to the cause. You were in there with them. You were supposed to be with me as I ran out but you weren't. There's no way you survived."


"John, dear John. Nobody survived."






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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Holistic Mediocrity Overseers

Over time the stale scent of blood becomes like a lover's perfume. You know it is still there, and on a good day you still catch a whiff of it. Most minutes though... most times... you just forget the thing that used to define every moment with her (her the woman, or her the city) fades into the background. It tickles the olfactory part of your mind that defines memory but no longer stokes desire.

When I first moved to Detroit, that coppery smell reminded me that reclamation was perfectly legal for a doctor. Used cybernetics have a limited value though, and an even smaller window of re-usability. Working as a wandering doc for hire was more satisfying. Most days.

That day reminded me that the fifty-third modification to the Hippocratic Oath meant there were always choices to make. Sometimes simple choices. Most often very complex choices with untold ramifications.

From guys with purple spines on the outside, to women with orange, ceramic heads that replaced their original brain cases, I've seen some weird shit. That day took the cake. Hell, that might have been what it was about.

The seven foot tall, broad, muscular man falling down in front of me made me think of soldiers in the third class wars. He looked tough. But with the forgetting of honor and the absence of training... well... they were all posers as big as the white gang bangers in the nineteen eighties. With all the grace of a slaughtered hog he slipped to his knees, a gaping knife wound in his gut.

His assailant, a nuvo punk, ran down the street; brandishing his blade in front of him. Just as I stooped to look at the victim, fate stepped in. As the fickle bitch so often does.

The assailant tripped and landed on his own knife. Perhaps it was a drug induced walking coma. If I saw his eyes I am sure they would have cleared. He was screaming in pain. His cries for help echoed in my brain. He screamed about what just happened?

Like I said... He might not have known. End of the day? He made a choice and he was responsible for it. Just like any of us. He should be held accountable. I was responsible for my own choices too. I had one to make now. Two patients, one traveling doctor. I did what any man of morals and means would have done.

I pulled out my street doc pad and scanned it. The information on both patients jumped out for my fingertips to scroll through. I stood and walked towards the assailant. You would have too.


He had better insurance.







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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Running to Brigid


Mother always told me some jealous woman would be my downfall. Not even she considered that two of them might work in conjunction. Let me back up a bit.

You ever notice how when the hero/protagonist/poor schmuck caught up in shit he's just not prepared for falls down in fiction it's always epic? I mean, one of two things happens.

Either some guy with the good looks of Reeve and the powers of Pitt ends up overmatched. I mean, he can't be beat but the writer puts some block in his way. Could be someone from his home dimension, a fatal flaw like an attraction to easy women, or just an overindulgence in alcohol. So he falls down but gets back up. Three pages later he's back on the straight and narrow. He works hard, overcomes his demons, usually inspired by some amazingly written dialogue between him and his, except in that moment, unimportant but oddly wise friend. You know, the guy who doesn't even know who he's dealing with and is slogging along when his buddy could end all of his misery in a heartbeat. But the dick doesn't do it, does he? No. He keeps that pal in misery, probably because it provides the earthy wisdom needed for that one moment. Anyway, the dude gets over it all, comes out swinging and wins the day.

Or... some schlub who never had a damn chance is put into a situation they could never hope to survive. Usually with great comedic affect and bowel liquefying terror they are taken to the darkest corners of humanity. They trip over a well placed stick, thrown in their path by the evils of a mad scientist, two dimensional monster, or conspiracy meant to represent the evils of either corporations or bits of government that espouse the opposite ideals of the author. Then, either the miscreant is beat upon mercilessly by this tormenting entity to prove there is no hope and we must all rise up as one to take everything back. Or, he gets in one lucky sucker punch and, unrealistically, wins the day. Thus appeasing the boorish masses rooting for the little guy and a happy ending.

Real life is a lot less complicated.

I won my spot in the Olympic relay on a radio contest. I was stoked, because it included a trip and some tickets. I managed to wrangle the time off from the minimum wage job strangling my life and making such trips impossible.

I was to take the torch, get the flame from Hera, or at least where she used to live, power walk the first leg, and hand it off. Problem is, I've never been great at tying my shoes.


Long story short, I leaned over and tripped on a damnable, loose lace. I fell into the pit of fire. Now I'm stuck here wondering how this could happen to me, why I never knew fire hurt so much, and why the smell of my own burning flesh makes me so insightful about flawed literary tropes.




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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Prostrating Westward

On a man's wedding day he is supposed to be the third happiest person in the room, except when he is fifth or sixth. Normally his joy is dwarfed only by that of the bride and her mother. Then there are weddings like mine.

In a wedding like mine the groom can be fifth or sixth. They come in after the beaming joy of both mothers, two fathers relieved they get to see their son married after all, and before or after the other groom.

So, there I was, staring into his eyes. Dueling crying mothers sounding in the background. The justice of the peace droning on with words that, if my parent's had their wish, should have been droned by a clergyman. I didn't care about things like that though.

When our eyes met, I was purely happy. So was he. That was what mattered to me. Then the jay pee said the dreaded words. There were concerns you see. My ex was... well, a bit psycho is putting it mildly. Psychotically dedicated to things best forgotten would be a bit more accurate.

It was like a Clark Gable movie, well, and edgy Gable movie. The Justice spoke to the heavens and the heathens. "Should anyone here present know of any reasons that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace."

I looked around. I had nightmares about this all week. I knew it was going to happen, even as I hoped that it wouldn't. It all came undone, just as I dreamed.

The doors burst open. As one, my ex streamed in. The whole group of them carrying their trademark signs.

Jesus will laugh when you have AIDEs - Read one.

Reenact Soddom - Said a second.

And, of course, the classic that would never die - God hates fags!!!

There were many, many others. Most of them were variations of those three though. I saw microphones in some off hands too.

My ex, and they never gave up. He started ululuating and I started crying. Our mothers bemoaned our fate and the destruction of their special day. Then the chanting started.

Long story short? Most of the guests fell into the background in horror. Unable to raise their hands against religious men and women. No matter how zealotous and evil they were. Not everyone was willing to stand passively by.

After years of questionable acceptance, some men will fight for their sons when a threat comes from the outside. Other men are willing to take on the wrath of heaven itself for what they believe in and those that they love.

That's why I'm here. It's supposed to be my honeymoon. Instead of Paris I'm sitting on a hard bench. Waiting to bail out my father, father in law, and new husband. Yes, husband. Thank God some officiants can get the "I Dos" out quickly.




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