Friday, February 27, 2015

What's in a name?

I have artistic ambitions. I draw, paint, photograph and write. Not as much as I should but it is a way to reconnect with myself. It calms the voices in my head, you know, the voices that doubt. Every time I make time to write, draw, paint, or photograph, I immediately feel better and a little more in control. I feel confident and sometimes I even feel proud of something. For example, I drew a woman lying down based off a picture and I felt pretty good about the outcome. I felt like it was instantly recognizable and pretty similar to the picture. It is by no means perfect. Some lines are too long or too straight and the shading is terrible. The thing is I am self taught. My only class was an online perspectives course. I learned by reading and watching. I learned by constantly trying, erasing and trying again.

I am getting sidetracked. The point is my artistic side sometimes has incredible ego, where I imagine myself showing my work or doing a reading (unfortunately a lot of the time I feel super self conscious about my creations). During these times I imagine my work, whatever it is, up in a museum or on a bookshelf. This is where I start wondering about my very generic name and how it would fit in. Rembrandt, Picasso, Kahlo, Michael Williams..... it doesn't work. Don't get me wrong, I do not think I produce work anywhere on the caliber of these artists but please indulge in this fantasy with me. Can you imagine it?

I can't. I can't imagine my name being attached to something someone else finds extraordinary enough to put in a museum. Maybe this tells you too much about me and my demons. Oh well, the thing I am talking about here is the name (so stop delving below the surface). My name is pretty common here in the US. There are countless numbers of Michael Williams in the world. I know some have been star athletes, entrepreneurs and all sorts of things but the name seems a bit ordinary. A name lacking in the requisite shine to compete in the arts. So, as I was driving one day, I began to entertain the thoughts of changing my name. Something that would really shine. That would be intriguing and captivating. You know, something that would look okay in all those museums I was destined for....

Then I thought about the name again and I remembered a few things. Some things that point to my own duality. Perhaps the astrological sign I fall under is a little accurate after all. You see I love my name at the same time that I find it completely ordinary and a touch boring. Here are some stories about my relationship with my name.

One of my earliest memories of my name being cool is when my family called me "Michael Michael Motorcycle". Maybe that should be my new artist name.... Michael Motorcycle. Or Michael F'N Motorcycle. Sounds pretty good to me.

The first time I ever realized my name was not unique was a shock. I met a kid named Michael one day when I went to my cousin's house to play. I instantly hated him. How dare this kid usurp my name! That devious devil. I kept my eye on him from then on. Never really warming to him and not having any other reason to not like him than he had my name. In reality, he was a nice kid. After all I should have been pissed at his parents. In fact, I am pissed at every parent of a Michael. HOW DARE YOU???? IT IS MY NAME NOT YOUR PRECIOUS POOKIE'S NAME! EVEN IF YOU ARE OLDER THEN ME, YOUR PARENTS WERE WRONG! Maybe I have a few issues to work on.

It was a few years later and a parade of other people named Michael had come through my life. I was getting used to it. I think I was in 4th grade by this time and I had learned how to be friends with name thieves. My teacher was out, thank the lord because I hated my 4th grade teacher. Except that my substitute would almost unseat her as Queen of All Villainy. During roll call she mispronounced my name and asked for a "Michelle Williams". Michelle? It isn't even spelled close. If you think it is, you would be wrong! The other kids teased me until about lunch when they forgot about it but I never have. I probably never will. I hope that sub died in a fiery explosion.... maybe from an over abundance of gas caused by an unhealthy diet.

That mispronunciation prompts me to tell you something else, perhaps we should call it a public service announcement. The only way to spell Michael is M I C H A E L. It is not Micheal, stop screwing my name up! If you are somebody out there who had stupid parents that misspelled my name and gave it to you please alter your spelling or choose another name. In fact, knock it off with the multiple spellings of all names. Can't we choose one and stick with it? I mean aren't they all pronounced the same? That is all, now back to our regular random ravings of a slightly insane individual.

I was horrified when I went to college and found that on the same dorm floor as me another Michael Williams resided. I never met him because I moved out of that dorm shortly after but I am sure he was an upstanding citizen, that I probably should have shoved off a cliff..... name thief...

As I grew up I started to accumulate lazy friends who called me Mike and I allowed it; even embraced it. I also started a pen name in high school that some people know and other college friends know some variation of. I had a nickname that I was largely responsible for. It was not until recently that I have been introducing myself as Michael again. My new friends know me as Michael and probably think I prefer it because they apologize for calling me Mike. Which is unnecessary, I answer to old nicknames and Mike (As long as it isn't Michelle). I just kind of realized one day that I liked the sound of the whole name. Even if it is not exactly a unique name.

Speaking of not being unique... could all the other Michael Williams stop getting tickets and not paying them? Every time I get a new drivers license I have to go through a laundry list of offenses that I have never done. Especially a certain Michael Williams in New Jersey... cut it out man! Speaking of that, why the hell do they show up on my record check with the DMV? Shouldn't they research you by social security number or the driver's license number? What the holy heck do I have personal identification numbers for? PLEASE LEARN HOW TO DO YOUR JOBS PROPERLY!

So as much as I might wish for a more unique and individual name I still really want to keep my name. I also must accept that my name will always be given to other people and I will do so gracefully (ish). In order to cover the bases for my possible canonization after my death, I might be working on a few new pen names and artist monikers.

No matter how you know me feel free to use the name you have always used for me. Hey! That was rude! I do not need you cussing like that. I hope you don't cuss like that in front of your mother!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Give An Ear: My Recent Podcast Exploration

I have been listening to a lot of podcasts lately; more than I usually do. I have been a long time Adam Carolla listener. I have also listened to years of the Stuff You Should Know, Stuff They Don't Want You To Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class for just as long. I have become a big fan of the Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend podcast. I stopped looking for new stuff about the time ARIYNBF hit my iPod. I had a few other podcasts disappear on me or I lost interest in. I found that I love listening to things but I am not a talk radio guy because I have grown accustomed to the long form interview and discussion of podcasts. I have found that they can actually make you think about things you hadn't considered. They can push you to try something, learn something or to blaze your own path despite obstacles.

I was listening to Adam Carolla one day and I realized I knew the story he would tell and what direction the conversation would go. The show had changed over the years and a few things that drove me insane ended up sticking. I liked how he originally started where he dug into what made a person who they are now. He really went after the journey and that was what hooked me. I can't stand the live drunken crowds, questions from the audience or the call ins. It seems like most of the time the caller or live audience member is an idiot. The few times the person delivers is not worth the 97% of the callers who aren't smarter than a piece of cheese. I felt that he got away from the thing I found so unique and often did not really even interview the guests he brought in. So when that episode ended I decided to put the show on hiatus. I will come back more eventually but it was time to find something new.

One new podcast I have found and have dug most of is Creative Start. The podcast talks to artists about their journey to their current career. It is a new series and has like 6 episodes currently. I have listened to 5 of them and have learned something every time.

Another podcast I have found is Invisiblia. It is an NPR production. I am not entirely sure if that should matter but I am sure it does for some readers. Either way I have only heard one episode so far and I am excited to hear more. The episode I listened to was about fear. It talks about changes in how kids are parented, a person who actually has no fear, and ways to overcome fear. To be honest I still have about 10 minutes left but it is awesome and I wanted to mention it.

I am also listening to the recently relaunched Radio Free Burrito. It is helmed by Wil Wheaton and maybe his wife Anne. I am not sure because I am starting in early January and he is figuring it out. I find him to be pretty amusing and interesting. I am a huge fan of his web series Table Top and it seemed natural to try something else he is behind. He and his wife seem to have no filter and you learn things you might wish you hadn't but I can't get enough.

I mentioned it earlier but a podcast I have really fallen for is the Alison Rosen one. Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend is different. She has some amazing interviews with guests. In fact she was behind a lot of recent Marvel talk after her interview with James Gunn. This week her interview with Jennifer Lee, widow of Richard Pryor, is making headlines because of comments about Cosby. Her interviews are where it is at. She is all over the place when she interviews and it isn't a clear and distinct linear path but she digs where most don't. As a result she gets really interesting answers. She currently airs 3 times a week. One day is a one on one interview, the second is a group of friends and is usually super funny, the third is her and her husband Daniel. The third show is the newest and seems to be working on figuring itself out. My personal favorite 3rd show was the first where it was just Alison Rosen. Her husband was sick, ruining her plans, but she recorded anyway. I think it might have been my favorite episode ever. Especially when she called her husband on the cell phone to see if he was doing okay (and woke him up and he sounded like death) and when she made 3 failed "phone a fan" calls that went straight to voicemail (she rambled spectacularly for a message). I was in tears laughing. Good stuff.

I am also giving Jay Mohr, The Art of Charm, Book Lab, Coffee Break Spanish, Joe Rogan and The Writing Podcast a try.

One more thing, I am listening to a podcast about podcasting. It is called Free Podcast Course. Who knows maybe I will be writing things for my podcast as well as for this blog sometime in the future.

If you have suggestions or give any of my suggestions a try, share your experiences and feedback. I would love it.

Job Hunts and Soul Sucking Phenomenons

I have had a couple weeks of downtime since the last job ended. I am terrible with downtime. I am looking for work but there is not a lot of things happening currently. I have my application for teaching licensure sent in and it seems like I might not get that back in time to make use of it. Which is so..... you know? I have been a walking ball of stress.

My last episode of downtime pushed me creatively but I am having a hard time focusing enough to get anything much done. I have done a couple picture walks and I am writing but I hate pretty much all of it. I guess I am feeling a little negative about everything.

I have recently put in for positions that I think I would do really well at if they would take a chance. I have also applied overseas a little and to jobs that aren't the right fit. You know because I would like to work. I have a few ideas of things to do once I get a steady gig to turn things around but I can't start until I am no longer wallowing in job hunt mode.

I don't want to whine about my life when I put on a new blog. It was one of the reasons I stopped writing candidly in here. It was why I switched focus to stories. The teaching gig kind of tended to bump my momentum a lot. I would be excitedly writing and then I would stop to work on school and then a month would go by. So I decided I needed to share more then my writing here. Even if nobody pays attention it feels good to put it somewhere. So why exactly am I whining now? The reason I am whining is because I needed to post something and I apparently needed to get all this out and written. It helps, not  exactly sure why or how.

Thank you for letting me get this out.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Small Cans

I have not posted in a while and I was wondering why not. I seem to have gotten away from using this to talk about life. While I am not super eager to convert this back into a diary I feel that I need to have the variability to talk about daily life, frustrations, successes, challenges, achievements and just random crap. I will post my writing here as well, for a while. I am looking into moving my writing elsewhere. If I do I will make an announcement. Until then...

I came home and decided to have a snack. I grabbed some edamame and threw them in the micro. Then I grabbed a can of Coke. I became a huge fan of Coke and peanut butter during my year abroad. The Coke made a lot of sense because I would get an ice cold bottle of Coke and drink it as I walked home from the local tienda. It felt so good in contrast to the sweltering heat of the day. It made the walk worth it. The peanut butter ended up being a comfort food and I would eat it when I felt homesick.

The thing about having a Coke now is I am not walking a couple miles a day any longer. It is not a great choice or nearly as satisfying as it once was. The craving has not left though. I have a dilemma in front of me. I am not ready to give up on Coke again but I also found I do not need a 20 oz bottle or a 12 oz can. I don't want that much... thank goodness they make the little cans! 7.75 oz is just about perfect. I get done and wish I had another sip but I can live with not having one. It kills that desire when it crops up. I do try to avoid drinking one a day. I try to space them and I am usually successful. Thanks for the concern...

The little cans happen to have an even bigger benefit. You can pretend to be an abnormally large sized human. A giant of the Andre the Giant ilk. You can say silly things and rhyme other people's words. You can talk about your way not being very sportsmanlike. It is awesome! Everytime I grab a small can I pretend to be a giant in a world of tiny people. You know, instead of a large guy in a world of other large people.

Yes... I do still pretend. It is not my fault you chose to grow up.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The 4 Poems

I have been running a writing club lately and the topics I select for writing sometimes produce things I want to share. These 4 poems owe their life to the group because without it they do not exist. They were a challenge for September that required 4 poems that work on their own but also work together. I hope you enjoy them.

Poem 1: Daybreak

Poem 2: Noon

Poem 3: Sunset

Poem 4: Midnight

I have been trying to think of a collective name for when I show them together. Leave your suggestions in the comments section.


I awake crying.

My empty bed still smells like her

I touch her pillow,

cool from her absence,

Cradling it to me

my face wet from grief,

until dreams of her arrive again.


We walk

as dusk settles around us

The destination, only she knows

I follow, still quiet, since midday

An occasional pause, as I catch up

her only acknowledgement that I should follow

We both stop and look out over the city, silent


She won’t meet my eyes.

My words fail to break through

as she stares into the distance.

She sits there shivering

but refuses my coat.

I do not know how to speak to her,

she is out of reach.


I always wake early

and watch her sleep,

her chest rise and fall,

the movement of her eyes behind her eyelids

offers me a measure of peace.

I feign sleep when she stirs

as the sun pierces through the shades.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Forgettable Lessons

These are the things I no longer wish to understand.

That thought lit up my brain like the Las Vegas strip at night. It went exactly against what my teacher was trying to drill in my head. He tapped the chalkboard next to the words he deemed to be the most important for the lesson. I looked straight at him but was really looking out of the corner of my eyes to see how my classmates reacted. He looked right at me and I bent to copy the words hurriedly.

“Tena, do you think I am talking to everybody but you?” He began as I felt my cheeks redden. “Your classmates have already written this information down and you are just starting. Hmmm…. maybe you think you know better than I. Perhaps I should hand the chalk to you.” He made his way over to my desk with the chalk outstretched. He stopped right in front of the desk with his hand still outstretched, holding the chalk. He towered over me when I was standing but I was currently sitting as he dressed me down; you could say he towered over me. I risked a glance up and saw, behind his large hooked nose, his piercing ice blue eyes boring into me with barely concealed contempt. He reminded me of a scarecrow; unusually tall and oddly proportioned. His face seemed wrong somehow; it was too pale and parts of it seemed like it belonged on another skull.

When our eyes met I knew I made a mistake looking up at him. I tried to compensate for it by hanging my head; allowing my hair to cover my face and my fear. He responded by slamming the chalk down on the desk with such force that part of it was changed to dust. “Teach!” He bellowed. I was rooted to my chair but could hear the snicker of my classmates. They were always laughing at me, I did not belong in this world of power and privilege. They mocked me openly in the hallways and tormented me in the classes. The quiet laughter at my humiliation had always seemed harder to brush off but the quiet laughter bothered me more than normal today. I pushed the tears and fear back inside and snapped my head up in the middle of the teacher’s tyrannical gloating. I met his eyes again with my best steely gaze, grabbed the chalk and headed to the board. I began writing on the board and the snickers died. For a second there was not a sound except the scratching of the chalk as I wrote. “What do you think you are doing!” He demanded. I kept writing and ignored him. He began screaming at me but I kept writing until the words of wisdom had been etched on the board. I read it again; pausing long enough to correct the grammar. Then I turned around, dropped the chalk and stomped on it before moving out of the way.

On the board it read:

The scarecrow made a mistake handing his power over to a teenager.

The room was quiet for several seconds until the unexpected laugh of the principal ripped through the air.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Shadow King; A short Story

                                                                   Shadow King

Do you ever wonder if you have a story to tell? I have never thought of my life as being worth putting in writing. What good would a story about somebody fumbling through life do the world? Isn’t that everybody’s story? What makes my story more compelling then someone else? I am not famous, rich or successful. I am a regular person living day to day, with the same worries that everybody I have ever met has as well. As far as I can tell the stories that were published had a lot more to offer then mine. So what changed? Why are you, hopefully, reading my story? A lot. Nothing. I don’t know.

The day I became interesting.

It started out as an ordinary day. I was at work. The glamorous life of a grocery store employee, an overnight stocker and cashier. I was unloading the weekly shipment when I first noticed something strange. The city was unusually quiet and at first it seemed peaceful but as I listened I soon felt fear creep up the back of my spine. Something was off. The quiet was unnatural. Oppressive. I became suddenly aware that I was alone. My coworkers and the truck driver were gone. I was alone on the unloading dock.

All of my instincts were telling me to run and hide. Unfortunately I was unable to move. I have read about being stuck as if your feet had sprouted roots, trapping you to the earth where you stood. This was not like that at all, it was like my body didn’t belong to me. Like I was merely a visitor inspecting a statue. I simply did not have the strength to pick up my feet and run away. I was stuck; alone and terrified of the silence. I began to wonder, if I could move, would I see hundreds of people stuck like this all around me. Stuck in one spot and terrified. Was this why the world had gone eerily silent?

I realized it wasn’t that the world wasn’t actually quiet. I could hear something, panting. The sound suddenly filled the silence and it seemed to come from all around me. Then I saw the source of the noise, large black dogs were slipping out of the shadows and surrounding my immobile body. The panting continued for some but others emitted a low warning growl. The growl was deep and vibrated my entire being. Warmth spread across my midsection and it took me a second to realize I had managed to pee myself in fear. I was beyond caring because I could tell my number was up anyway. The shadow dogs seemed to find my terror intoxicating because the growls were replaced by what seemed to me to be mocking grins.

“Have we terrified this young man enough boys?” Boomed a voice from the deep shadows. In response the dog tails wagged as they sat down and resumed their panting. The darkest shadow seemed to break away from the other shadows and move toward me. As it did layers of shadows stripped away from the figure and I began to make out a small figure. The figure still was mostly concealed and the voice was still terrifyingly loud when it spoke next. “Human, we have need of your services. Come with me and offer aid.”

If my body had been capable I would have turned to look behind me to see who the shadow spoke to but it became apparent when no answer came forth that the shadow figure could only be talking to me. “I require an answer.”

“An answer? You did not ask a question, Shadow Man. You simply spoke a command. So far, I have no reason to trust you or go anywhere with you. You terrify me with your shadow hounds, root me to this spot and cause me to pee my pants in terror. As far as I am concerned you can go spit.” Once again I felt the urge to look behind me to see who spoke despite knowing full well that the words had come bubbling out of my mouth.

“Shadow hounds? I like that. It sounds more ominous then the name I gave them. ‘The pack’ sounds like a group of annoying teenaged wannabe thugs. I thank you for the name for my ‘shadow hounds’ but I still require that you come and assist me.” The shadow man gestured for me to come and this time I did. I am still not quite sure why.

“You are a perceptive human. You could feel me coming while the rest of the humans froze unaware. I exist in between time and my presence tends to cause low intelligence beings to simply stop until I leave an area. You couldn’t move until I spoke to you but you were fully aware. This means there is hope for you, unlike the rest of humanity.” His words were dripping with venom. I knew this man held no love for humans including those he deemed to have hope.

“Interesting. Since I come with you of my own accord I will ask a few things from you. First, some new clothing that does not reek of urine. Second, tell me your name.”

“Ah, reasonable request, the first one is. The second is problematic. Names are power. I will not tell you my name but I can give you a name to use if you like. Although I can tell you already have one for me and that is fine as well. Although change man to king as I am the king of the world we are entering.”

“You want me to call you Shadow King? Seems odd to me but I’ll go with it. So when can I change clothes?” I asked

“It will happen once we cross the threshold, humans these days have no sense of style. I made sure that the threshold would redress all entrants in an appropriate manner when meeting with me.” And as we crossed the threshold shadows enveloped me and I could feel myself become clean and dressed in light, loose clothing. When the shadows parted I was wearing black slacks and a purple silk shirt and what seemed to be boxers; looser then I was used to but at least they were clean. The Shadow King was no longer covered in shadows. He was a small dark skinned man with angular features. He almost looked human but only just. There was something off, some energy that told your hind brain that he was dangerous. His eyes were a yellow color that I had only seen on television shows about werewolves. He smiled at me and I got the distinct feeling that he had too many teeth. “You look much more appropriate for a meeting with the Shadow King.”

I nodded stupidly at him. My words were caught up in the part of the brain that was in fight or flight mode, meaning they were once again not readily available to me. Luckily for me the Shadow King had no intention of letting me control the conversation, or was that lucky, I’m still not sure. “I need you to do something human.” I bristled at the lack of my name as he spoke to me. He hadn’t even asked for it. The arrogance of that act really got under my skin. I was about to mention it but part of me was reluctant. He handed me a hot drink and I suddenly realized the Shadow King’s realm was bitterly cold. I took a sip and it was awful, I placed it down on the table I was suddenly sitting at.

“It is very nice here if you can get past the cold. You should see it during daylight time, it is beautiful. Of course once you really see in the shadows the view is unsurpassed by anything on Earth.”

The conversation confused me because I could not keep track of it in my mind. I was not sure how we had got here and seated at this table that looked over a vast dark abyss.

“Drink human. It will help keep you warm.” I did as I was told but the lack of my name irked me a great deal. The drink was bitter.

“A Shadow King’s primary job is to manage the shadow realms bloodlust. Some of your history, human history, has been shaped by humans that were infected by shadow. The spillover is expected of course. We occupy some of the same space on this world as you humans.” He smiled at me again and my fear was replaced by loathing that ran deep. “Humans are the worst creature that could be infected by shadow. The murderous rampages are bad but truly astounding is monsters that wrap it in political or religious doctrine. Humans are monsters. They are what keeps the children of the shadow realm up at night. Humans are our bogeymen.” He looked at me without smiling, his eyes sparkled like amber fossils. My loathing went up an octave as we continued to look at each other. I broke eye contact first. I grabbed and took the last drink of my suddenly empty cup. I wanted more. Sensing my sudden desire for more of the drink a shadow servant appeared and poured some in my cup. I greedily snatched it up and guzzled it before demanding more from the servant. The shadow king began to speak again and I found his words confusing and irritating. He talked too much.

“Listen, Shadow King,” I interrupted, my words came out angry and slurred, “I don’t know who you are kidding. You are a horrible ruler, your pestilence overflows in to every place it can. You have no desire to keep it away from humans. You want us to be infected!” I was angry and when I grabbed my cup, some of the drink sloshed on my shirt. I cursed and began trying to suck the drink out of the fabric. If this bothered the Shadow King he drew no attention to it but I still felt his judgment. That rankled and I growled at him to show him my displeasure. His response was to smile at me.

“Perhaps you think you could do a better job?” He asked with that ever present, self-satisfied smirk.

“I think no such thing. You told me you were lousy at the job when you were explaining what you do. I am just tired of your attitude.” I said, at least I am fairly sure I said that, because there is a part of me that only remembers growling. Either way his smile did not falter.

“Let me ask you again human, do you think you are more suited for this job then I?”

“I have a name you know!” I growled.

“I know,” he said with a twinkle in his golden eye, “….human.”

I was out of my seat and had my hands around his throat before I was aware of moving. I was trying to choke the life from his sparkling golden eyes. He did not look concerned, nor did he seem to be fighting me. My grip began to loosen as my rage continued to grow. It didn’t make sense but I soon became aware of a steadily growing pool of dark crimson that enveloped us. My eyes threatened to close and my hands were not working as they should. I looked at him and he merely offered that same smile. This time it no longer seemed to mock me or enrage me. Instead it seemed to pity me, but it was the exact same smile. I felt a deep searing pain in my gut and it pulled my attention away from his smile. I had been stabbed, gutted really and most troubling was that I was not sure when of how it happened. The crimson pool surrounding us was my blood.

“You have fire Jason Moore.” The Shadow King whispered to me. “It is far down in your person but it is there. It took several glasses of the potion to get it to come out but come out it did. I have a question for you. Just one more question and then I will leave you to your fate.”

I looked at him with wide open eyes. It took a second for my brain to concentrate enough to blink. My eyes closed and wanted to stay behind closed lids but my brain forced them back open. When I could see again the Shadow King no longer lying beneath my body. My body that was rapidly draining of life. I had once again lost time in this shadow realm. I should never have come here, I wondered if anyone missed me. I wondered if my body would be left behind somewhere. Would they look for my murderer?

“Before I ask you the question Jason Moore,” He said my name again, when had he learned it? Had he always known it or had I told him during one of my many blackouts this evening? I wanted to ask but my lips would not move. “I must tell you something. Your wound is fatal for a mortal such as yourself. So you will die here tonight and for that I am truly sorry. No matter what you will never be you again, not exactly. It is necessary though, please believe that.” I continued to stare blankly at him. I wanted to curse him but my body was not cooperating. “Now for the question, I require an answer from you but in your current condition I know words are not a possibility. A blink shall suffice. If your answer is yes blink once and if no blink twice. Do you understand?” I blinked once. “Good. Jason Moore, Do you think you would do a better job than I at the job of Shadow King?”

I thought about my body lying here slowly leaking my blood across his floor. I thought about the life I had lived. I thought about all the decisions I had made that led me to this point. I thought about all my lost dreams and then I closed my eyes. Images floated across my eyelids. Moments both joyous and heartbreaking. Memories of all the confusion, indecision and pain. Times were I felt good, smart and on top of the world. And those earlier days when I would often find myself bored and looking for some mischief to get into. I thought about what people had said to me during those early years. I had never really lived up to the potential that others had expected of me. I had not accomplished the things I had meant to. I was a man unfulfilled. I was a lost puzzle piece trying to find the right puzzle. I had always believed that I existed in the wrong time or perhaps the wrong world. I wondered if I had been looking for my spot in the wrong puzzle. I suddenly knew my answer and I opened my eyes.

I made sure that they stayed open while I looked around. The room was empty. I was alone, laying on the floor in dried up blood. The pain was gone and there was no evidence of the wound that had nearly killed me. The knife was by my side but not in my side. I went to stand and that was when a shadow servant appeared and helped me to my feet.

“Where is the Shadow King?”

“You are here sir.” The servant replied.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Nightmare: Quality Time

                I lied on the floor for a minute. It was the only dignified thing to do after my humiliating entrance. I was face first on the floor; Ava had simply shoved me sideways off her. She hadn’t even staggered when I fell on her. She was stronger then she looked. I had a suspicion that my nose was bleeding from one of the two impacts. I was betting on the floor.
                “I have no words.” Ava said. “Except for, get off the floor and out of the way of the door before I decide to close it through you.” I did as I was told. She was wearing a smirk when I sheepishly looked at her.  “You’re nose is bleeding. I wish Emily had seen that.”
                I looked around and confirmed her words. Emily was not there. I looked at her with a confused expression and her response was to turn and walk further into the decadent suite. After a second she looked over her shoulder expectantly and I obediently followed along. The room was a mixture of yellows and browns. The table had a dark brown table surrounded by yellow chairs and a large dark brown sectional. The walls were a shade of brown with a wallpaper wall. It was white with brown lines on it; I think it was supposed to look like ivy but what do I know? She pointed at a chair and when I sat down she tossed a cloth at me to stem my bloody nose. I looked down at my shirt and saw it was a little bloody and I had a sneaking suspicion that in my stupor I had leaked a bloody trail all the way to the chair I was sitting in. When I stopped staring at the blood on my shirt and the blood on the cloth I realized Ava was sitting across from me in the large brown sectional. She was waiting for me to realize she was still there.
                “Ray,” She began and paused before continuing, “You never stop amazing me.”
                “Thanks” I replied.
                “It wasn’t a compliment.” She hissed.
                “I figured.” I forced myself to make and keep eye contact with her. “I am sorry about falling on you Ava.”
                “Thanks Ray. Despite a slight pain where your head hit my chest, I think I am better off then you are.” She looked at me with that jarring smile and I felt myself jerk a bit. I always felt like I was the prey and she was the predator. I definitely knew she was the type of predator that enjoyed playing with its food. I fought the shudder that was threatening to overtake me.
                “Glad to hear it.” I managed. “So, why am I here?”
                “You mean besides your charm? Well that can wait until Emily gets back.” She fell silent but continued to stare at me with that same alarming smile. I squirmed a bit in my chair.
                After a few moments I had to ask, “Will it be much longer?” She didn’t answer but her smile grew. After a while I started to wonder if she had blinked yet. I couldn’t remember her doing it and since I had become aware of it I had not seen it happen. The smile seemed to grow larger and I could feel the sweat beading on my brow despite the coolness of the room. I was beginning to panic and I was about to start screaming when the phone by her side rung. I felt relief until I watched her not look at it and continue watching me. Ava’s relaxed posture began to look more and more as if she was readying herself to pounce. I did what I do when I was scared, I began to babble. “Don’t you wish Portland had another major sports team besides the Blazers? Of course you don’t! I mean after all you live in Washington. You are probably a huge Seahawks fan. I despise them by the way. The weirdest thing is I have no real reason for it. I mean I like Washington and especially Seattle but I could do without the sports teams. The Mariners? Gag! The Seahawks? I mean come on. The best thing that happened to your state was when the Supersonics left, because, lets face it, one less team to despise. Am I right?” She was blinking now and her face was contorted into a funny and unreadable expression. I kept going. “Speaking of that, what is Seattle’s claim to fame? The space needle? What is the purpose of that thing? Speaking of Seattle, have you seen 10 Things I Hate About You? That was shot in Seattle and I have decided I was robbed by fate because that high school building looked amazing. I wish I had went there.” By this point I was gesturing wildly. What came next should have been no surprise because I was watching her but it was. Suddenly I was tasting foot and found myself falling backwards. When my head hit the carpet, I was surprised that my knee was right behind it as it slammed into my face; knocking me out.