Sunday, July 26, 2009

David Makes a Fly

Shae Sveniker, June 2009

It was unusual for Davey to stay in his room more than two days on end. For those two days, though, usually he spent the time talking to himself or drawing on the walls with crayons or doing math in his head. He loved doing math it was his favorite thing. He loved doing math while listening to the same clip from Scooby Doo over and over until he stumbled upon a better, more brilliant Scooby Doo. Right now though, he was listening to the part where Shaggy says "Zoinks, Scoob!" and Scooby goes "Ruh Roh!" and then there is laughter.

Oh god, that laugh track was brilliant, David just couldn't let it go, he played it over and over.

In the meantime, there was math to be done, but not just ordinary math, David had a brilliant idea. The Mom had bought colored tissue paper. the kind for wrapping presents with. It was slightly red on one side and slightly white on the other and it was slightly translucent and there was a lot of it. The minute the Mom had brought the stuff home from the store, David saw it in the hallway and pointedly said "This smells like a job for the mystery gang. Let's split up!" and snatched up the tissue paper and took it to his room. The Mom followed him and was making a lot of noise but David wasn't listening. There was indeed a mystery afoot. He shut the door quickly and the Mom banged on it a for a little while and made more noise. It would go away soon, it always ended in exasperated sighs and then silence outside David's door.

-oinks Scoob! Ruh Roh! HaHa--

David had seen a video of Satoshi Kamiya folding an eastern dragon out of paper just like the paper that the Mom had brought home. He thought the Mom had brought it home for him, because of the video. It was very nice of her to do that. He watched the video on his computer while the Scooby Doo track played over and over. It was complicated but before the end of the first day, David could fold it. Satoshi Kamiya called the thing a "divine dragon" and so David thought it would be good to call it that too. David took out his masking tape from behind his bed and taped the thing to the cieling. He wrote next to it "divine dragon" in red crayon. There was plenty of tissue-paper left, and David thought it would be a good idea to start trying to make his own, now that he'd had a small introduction to this strangely mathmatical art.

-ruh roh hahahahaha--

By the end of the second day the Scooby Doo track had been switched to the same dialogue but at a different place. The sounds were totally different and David liked this one more anyway. It kept playing and playing as David kept folding and folding. The long roll of Tissue was about halfway gone and he'd made several more dragons, a great dane, a Shaggy, and a Daphne but he felt awkward makeing Daphne with such a short skirt so he made her with a longer skirt instead. He'd read that origami art had to be made out of only one piece of paper and there was no cutting allowed and so that's what he did.

-ruh roh ha ha ha ha--

On the third day he noticed that he was running out of the 25 ft roll of paper. He'd made more than fifteen items including a giant beattle, a monster from Scooby Doo, and a twelve-inch tall replica of the Mom complete with whiskey bottle and cigarette in her hands, all folding, no cutting, only one piece of paper each. There was no wasted paper in the room and now he was down to his last six square inches. David knew that there would be more paper but it would be a few days and so David decided to make something really special, but he did not know how to do it so he lifted the blinds in the room and it was bright outisde. He looked out and saw a butterfly flying through the grape-vines in the back yard and closed the blinds again. "Ok gang," he said "It seems like it was old man Peterson all along!"

-ruh roh ha ha ha ha--

The Mom was outside his door making noise and banging on his door. David didn't like it when she did that and didn't know or care what she wanted. There was a mystery afoot! David was hungry, but that didn't matter. He kept folding. Six square inches is not a lot of paper, so David had to get really close to the desktop to see what he was doing. The Mom had brought guests over at around nightfall on the third day, but something was not right. The Mom never had guests over on the wrong days, but now there were guests on the wrong day!

...ruh roh ha ha ha ha...

David opened the door and there were people in white coats in the living room. "It's the wrong day!" David said. The Mom looked began to yell but David was ignatious. "The wrong day! The wrong day!" he said and began to attack the people in the white coats. They had to leave! There was no reason for them to be there! It was wrong of them to be there! But they grabbed onto him and pulled him out of the house. "the Wrong Day!" David had no idea what they wanted and fought really hard but the people in the white coats overpowered him and threw him into the back of a mini-van.

It was quiet in the mini-van and so David sat down and opened his hand and there, the thing he'd been folding for the past twelve hours, no bigger than the eraser of a pencil. "Zoinks Scoob!" He said. The people in the white coats were making noises at him but he wasn't listening. "Ruh Roh!" he said. The people in white coats began to drive the mini-van someplace David had never been. "It's a mystery," he said "Let's split up, gang!" The van drove onto the freeway and David wondered where the Mom was. He said "You meddling kids!" and held out his hand to show the people in white coats what he had made, and in it there was an origami fly, fluttering it's wings, looking around, buzzing in terrified confusion at being alive.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gone Fishing

Shae Sveniker, June 2009

"After my car got jacked in the city, I didn't know what to do," Rachel said, "I'm so glad I ran into you!"

"They stole the whole thing, huh?" Jake kicked a small stone into the river.

"The whole thing, Jakey, the whole thing!" Rachel set her bag down on a big stone. The water was still and slow-moving, the green of northern California reflected in the water.

Jake happened to be filling his tank at a gas station off 16th and Mission, headed up through the city on a whim before the long weekend, when he noticed Rachel sitting on the curb with the look of a lost kitten. They'd known each other in high school, and both had matured quite a bit. She almost didn't recognize him when he asked if she needed help.

Jake had been kind of a chubby kid with poor social skills and bad acne, but now, after living on his own in the big city and working hard at a manufacturing job, he'd lost a lot of weight and his face had cleared up. She could feel herself blush a little when she looked at him, now. They were a long way from Utah, but serendipity knows no rationality anyway. She had been a weird girl, strangely popular despite her originality, she had dreadlocks back then, but now her blonde hair was short in a bob with curls. Jake had always liked her as a friend, but never had any other intentions, she seemed out of his league.

He invited her up to the mountains to camp for the weekend, while the police looked for the car in the city. Just north of Arcada, where the redwoods began to grow, there was a stream they followed from the beach and spent three or four hours hiking upstream, and as they got further upstream, tributaries joined with the water until it was a river about twenty meters across.

Jake and Rachel began clearing an area close to the river for the small tent Jake had brought. It was warm for the northwestern day, and by the time they were done setting up the tent, both were sweating. They laughed about high-school and that time those kids put mannequinns on the roof of the gym before the homecoming game. They had dressed the mannequinns up like hookers in the schools's colors, and wrapped them up with ribbons and a banner that said "game trophy." Nobody ever figured out who did that.

Rachel walked over to the river and put her hand in the water, Jake felt like he shouldn't watch, but couldn't help it, the way the sunset made her skin pink, and light flowed from her shoulders down her toned sides. She sat on a big rock and began to take her shoes off. "The water's warm here, there must be a spring nearby," she said "come on in!"

Jake crept slowly forward, unsure of what to do, she wasn't even watching him though, instead, her back to him, sitting on that big, white rock, surrounded by the green of the forest, she began to remove clothing. Jake felt himself blushing and waited until she had jumped into the water before taking off his own clothing.

It seemed there had already been people here, because there were boulders piled up around one side of the shore, and as the dusk crept over the valley, it was apparent those boulders surrounded a hot spring, there was steam rising and less mosquitos there, so the two friends eventually both ended up there, naked in the wilderness, nostalgic, and laughing on opposite sides of the pool.

"You've changed a lot since high school," She said.

"So have you," He said.

"In a good way?" She asked.

"Most definitely," He said. "Where have you been?"

"That's a long story," she said, and dunked her head under water. When she came back up, she was right next to him. He reached out the same time she did and they pulled each other close and kissed with eyes closed. When Jake opened hhis eyes again, he stared into her beaming face, but right behind her, a dark shape began to rise to the surface of the water, and then another.

"Oh my god," he said as he looked around. "It's spawning season."

"Yeah, it is," she said, and laughed as she groped him "Spawn with me, Jacob!" not realizing when what happening yet.

"No, really, turn around! Look!" And as she did, she gasped.

On the surface of the water from shore to shore, giant Chinook salmon began rising to the surface of the water, gasping, some writhing, mostly though, they were all dead already, and Jake and Rachel were in the middle of the river surrounded by deformed, dead, and dying fish, with battle scars from courtship rituals, mutated by the fresh water and lust.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sonny's Girl

Shae Sveniker, July 2009

The woman in the red dress sank into the light of the stage like a bloodstain on white carpet; a bloodstain that could sing. The haunting sounds of a stand-up bass sliding notes like moans down the neck, from low to high and high to low, the saxophone scooping up the tears of imaginary one-night-stands in it's tenor bell, the soft buzz of a guitar's strings just touching blue notes, a piano expertly setting the mood like candle-light on dark velvet, and the subtle hint of latin blue in congas and bongos; they were all there, but the spotlight shined only on her, the woman in the red dress, who wore the room like a mink coat in winter.

The other boys see her, they try to talk to her, but the bloodstain chokes their little-boy voices and her eyes explode inside their brains like roses blooming in time-lapse films. They squeak like mice, these accountants and lawyers, doctors and engineers, wannabes and had-been men. None of them with the guts enough to say what they really mean, and so every night, in the back of the club, she stacks her gifts from not-so-secret admirers, the flowers and the love-notes and the chocolate boxes and the envelopes of stranger's moneys and she takes off the red dress and waits, alone in the dressing room, for me.

Sometimes she waits until four or five in the morning. Sometimes she waits until three, but she's always waiting for me and I always show up.

She does her nails and adjusts her garter, she practices singing lonely blues in the keys of longing. She makes up lyrics about me, about how cruel and beautiful love can be, and I never sing them back, but sometimes I harmonize. I listen to her move. Sometimes, I speak to her, when there's something to say, but most nights we just listen to each other breathe.

I walk her home and never go inside, always take off my hat and kiss her good night and promise to make an honest woman out of her one day. She jokes about making an honest man out of me too, but I know she doesn't mean it. It don't mean a think if it ain't got that...

One night a thief stole my wallet on my way to the club. I chased him down in a back alley and hit him on the head with a tire iron I found beside a dumpster. I didn't hit him very hard, but he just crumpled like a sack of potatoes. I turned him over and reached into his jacket pocket and took my wallet back. I was winded, but it was fine.

As I turned around to leave the alley, I heard movement on both sides, and seeping from the shadows like oil from the shale beneath the harbor was a gang of young punks lookin to get made. I knew one of them, a little Italian prick named No Face Jimmy. They called him No Face on account of he was jumped into a gang pretty young and couldn't even defend himself at the time. No one has ever seen his face since, he wears a plain white mask, like for Marty Gras, and speaks like he's got a mouth full of toungue and no teeth. Which he probably does.

There was about ten of them in workshirts and slacks and then there was me, clean cleaner than a broke-dick dog with shined shoes and ready for my bloodstain that can sing. Bloodstains was what I got. No Face also had this penchant for makin people as ugly as he was, the psychophant, and by the time the others had had their fun and he was done, I'd be lucky if the best surgeon in the world could make me into Quazimoto.

She waited for me that night just like all the others, but I never came.

She was alone, vulnerable, and there was nothing I could do, bleeding in some downtown alley, my wallet missing and body broken, bleeding to death as the sewer rats gnawed on my fingers. I began to crawl as soon as I regained conciousness, but I was blind, the blood in my eyes, so I found a warm stretch of concrete and lost consciousness.

She waits for me...

I regained conciousness in a hospital wrapped in bandages and high on morphine. Something was definitely wrong. There was no one in the room so I tried to move and found my right arm and left leg in a cast. I looked at the fingers of my free hand and they were swollen and bruised. They made popping sounds when I balled my fist and the tips were numb. I felt the bandage around my head and the shapes underneath were alien. Whatever they did, I couldn't speak except to moan and grunt. I started doing this as loud as possible.

With enough of that, a nurse finally came into the room.

"Mister, you're awake! That's good, you can start by telling us what happened. Oh no, don't try to speak, here, use this." She gave me a shitty ball-point pen and a note pad of stationary with little hearts and roases and cute little self-affirming statements on the top.

I wrote "Phill Carney, 1(866) 929-3100, lawyer."

She looked at the note with a quizical expression and hesitated before I threw the pen and made some sort of animal noise. She got up quickly and left the room.

Within the hour Phill was sittin at my bedside.

"They busted you up pretty good didnt' they buster?" Phill was a wiseguy but a good man. Plus he owed me a favor. "What do you need, buddy, I'll get you anything! You need a bottle of Hennessey I bet you, maybe some real fried chicken, I know how these hospitals work, they cut costs on all their food, it's such bullshit, how are you s'possed to get better eating this crap? hey, I know, I'll order in somethin from Roscoes, lemme give'm a call..." He reached for his cell but I grabbed his hand before he could call.

"Gimme outta here!" I said, but it sounded more like "Giyyee outta here." My jaw was qired shut and I couldn't feel my lips.

"Sonny, I don't think that's a good idea, you can't be seen out in--"

I grabbed him by the tie and pulled him close "Do me a favor." I said. Well, more like "Do ye a yayor." but he got the point. it's all in the inflection I guess.

He said "Sure, Sonny, anything you need, where do you wanna go?"

I wrote the address of the club down and he looked at it and shook his head. "I don't know what you see in that broad, but I'll get you there. You sit tight for a minute."

Fifteen minutes later, two big orderly's with leather jackets over their scrubs were lifting me into a wheelchair to be taken out. Hospital policy, I couldn't use crutches until I was off the property. Liability and such.

Phill's limo waited at the entrance. I struggled into the back and waited quietly while Phill's driver took his sweet-ass time getting to the club. Phill filled me in on the sports scores, the Celtics beat the whoseywhatsicouldgiveafucksits but I sat quietly and waited untill we got to the part of town the club was at.

One of the orderly's had ridden with us and helped me get out of the car. Phill waited for me while I went inside. I didn't know what I was there for, I just knew I had to be. The place was unlocked and there was no bartender. It was about two in the afternoon I guess. Bobby must have had the day off because the place was still sticky and boozey from the night before. I looked around mypoically, the bandaged covered my right eye too. I hobbled passed the stage on crutches and the orderly followed me at a respectable pace.

Passed the stage into the back, and up the stares to the dressing room.

There in the velvet folds of the nest she had made, the woman in the red dress, naked, laying there, waiting for me--

"I knew you'd come to me baby"

--she cooed a love song sweeter than all the blood in her red, red lips, and as the morphine wore off and the pain set in I couldn't help but let the tears come out.

That bloodstain voice of hers, ringing in my muffled ears, as I held her cold hand, and rested my weary head on her soft thighs, I could say nothing, except hum that slow, sad song, our song, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.

A New Metaphysical Study Regarding the Behavior of Plant Life

Shae Sveniker, June 2009

John and Emma were smoking on the street after watching a science fiction movie. It was about these aliens that had abducted an entire city's worth of humans to a research station in space, which was built to look exactly like a city. It even had highways, rivieras, and skyscrapers. The aliens were exchanging the people's memories to see how they act when given different lives.

" you don't eat meat because you're disturbed that the thing you are eating used to be alive?" John asked.

John had never dated a vegan before and she was pretty adamant about her views on omnivores.

"Yeah," Emma said, "it freaks me out so bad, I can't look at it, a slice of flesh, sitting there on a plate. I can't look at it without thinking it used to belong to a part of something that had a consciousness and a life. It might have been a shitty life or a good life, but it was a part of something that used to be living, that knew it was alive."

"Hm..." John said.

They walked down the street in the dark, sweet-smelling drizzle. The streetlamps reflected in the puddles. Suddenly it began to pour harder, big, fat, raindrops, the kind that belong in a Texas thunderstorms, the kind that soak your shirt after a mere second; John had parked the Plymouth a few blocks away so they began to run. It was raining harder and harder, and trash began floating down the gutters.

Laughing, John and Emma ducked into an awning. The rest of the block was mostly unlit, there was no one else on the street, it was very picturesque. John, pork-pie hat wet from the rain, held Emma close, her red lipstick pointing up at his face like the paint of a helicopter landing pad. Even in those bright red four-inch heels she was only as tall as his chest. He was a big man though, who liked to wear ties. Even from so far away, he felt her breath on his face, they were both smiling, he felt nervous, like mice were running circles in his stomach, so he pulled her closer and they kissed. It was very romantic.

"This is very romantic," He said.

"You make me laugh," She said.

"So let's get to know each other better," He said. "Stick with me, kid, we'll go places."

"Alright," She said. "But let's wait a minute to see if this rain lets up."

So they talked about why Emma was vegan and other things similarly inane. It didn't matter. They felt like they had known each other for a long time, and were comfortable around each other even though they had only met that night.

"So, I just won't eat meat when I'm around you, OK?" John said.

"You don't have to do that," Emma said, "It's just my choice."

"No, it's about respect, ok? But also, if you're around it'll be easier for me to eat healthy."

"Whatever," Emma rolled her eyes, but she was still in his clutches, so he kissed her again. It really was quite romantic and silly.

The rain was still heavy and John held Emma close to him, she leaned against him "I heard from a friend of mine about a new metaphysical study regarding the behavior of plant life," He said.

"Oh yeah?" she asked, "How reliable is this source?"

"Not really, but listen anyway," he said "These scientists, or students, or whatever, were growing two tomato plants with the exact same variables, like, in the same room, same fertilizer, same light, everything the same. So these plants were growing really well and they were tomato plants and fertilized each others flowers and shit and they bore fruit and they were both very healthy and their tomatoes tasted good on a soy-meat sandwiches, you dig?"

She laughed and said "Yeah I get it, one of them is a control, so what they do to the variable?"

"You're very sharp, you pretty thing!" he said. She dug her head into his ribs. "Ouch! Ok, so one day, one of the scientists or students or whatever, came in with a big pair of scissors and chopped one of the tomato plants to bits viscous-like and killed it. The scientists or students or whatever then kept taking care of the other plant exactly like they had been, with just the right amount of attention, and fertilizer and everything and they just left to dead one there."

"Whoa," she said "that seems cruel to me for some reason..."

"That's not the half of it, get this, the living plant started to wilt, and within the month, the poor thing was dead! Isn't that terrifying?"

"Yeah, that's pretty funny" she said. John then looked very sad, let go of Emma, turned his back, and started walking away.

"No, no it isn't," he said.

She laughed, "Oh, come on! Yes it is!" and reached out to him, but when she grabbed the left sleeve of his sport-coat, his arm felt out of it, severed at each socket, including his fingers, twenty-five pieces in all fell to the ground. Then his left leg buckled in some very unnatural ways, then the rest of him, like a well-dressed mannequin made of puzzle blocks, until he lay there in two-hundred and six pieces; not that Emma was very much bothered by how many pieces of John were suddenly dead and silent and unmoving at her feat.