Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Driven To Distraction (Children's Lit assign. #6)


“You know what Samantha? If this music is going to make you so sad, then maybe you should stop listening to it,” my sister Megan jeers, loudly, like she’s the boss.
I wipe my wet and blurry eyes with the soft brown sleeve of my sweatshirt and snuff up my nose so hard it makes me cough. “But this is Mom’s favorite song!” I yell back. The song is about trusting in the Lord and I don’t want Mommy to go to heaven with him yet. God is supposed to be the great physician, but he hasn’t fixed Mom. She should be at home right now, not stuck in some hospital bed. I would trust God if he gave me a good reason to.
My sister leans over me and punches the FM button on the truck’s radio, turning it to “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer”. This music is way too cheerful and I grit my teeth and put both my hands over my ears, while squeezing my eyes shut. Then I push the CD button. Megan bounces forward across me flipping her ponytail in my face and pushes the FM button again.
“You know what? Radio off.” Dad hits the off button. My sister can’t be quiet, so I know she’s going to say something.
“Oh, good job!” She says to me. Her voice is like a screech owl’s. “Now we can’t listen to anything at all!”
The rain is pounding against the front windshield and it’s fogged up really bad. I can’t even see out of it. I wonder if Dad can. He’s driving way too fast and he’s staring straight ahead. I can tell he’s angry when he gets really quiet like he is right now.
I hit the CD button again and skip to song number six. Mom loves this song too and my face turns hot as tears well up in my eyes.
“Daddy!” says Megan. “How come she can listen to her music but I can’t!”
Suddenly I just snap. ”Mommy might be dying and all you care about is your music!” I turn to my Dad and yell at the top of my lungs. “You made me go home early and I wanted to see Mommy a little bit longer!”
Wait a minute. I grab on to the edge of my seat with both hands. There really isn’t anything good to hold on to and suddenly, it feels like the back wheels are sliding through thick mud and the tires are bumping along. Is the car on a slip and slide?
“Hang on girls!” my dad yells.
I put my hands under my knees and duck my head down to my legs. I think this is the position you’re supposed to be in for a crash, at least on an airplane.
Then my head jerks up. “Daddy! We’re going to hit the trees!” I scream. He doesn’t say anything. His hands are clutching the steering wheel in a death grip and his knuckles are white.
Dad’s window is spinning and all I see are green spindly pine needles on wet scratching branches. They’re clawing at the window like they’re trying to get in. Then there’s a sudden jolt that splashes the diet Coke I just got from McDonalds all over the place.
I’m sitting in silence. I think we just crossed back over the road sideways and now we’re in a muddy ditch. It happened so fast I don’t really know what happened.
“Is everyone okay?” My dad turns to me and then looks over at my sister. The truck smells sticky sweet because of the diet Coke that exploded everywhere. It’s all over the sleeves of my favorite sweatshirt and my pants legs.
“I’m sorry I was yelling,” I cry. “I didn’t mess up your driving did I?”
“Well, you did mess him up a little,” chimes in my sister. She can’t be quiet for anything.
My dad cautiously opens up the truck’s door. “Well, at least that still works,” he says.
I look out the window and it looks like the rain has let up some and now I can actually see the dark gray sky.
“Daddy, where are you going?” my sister says in a panicked voice.
“I’m just going to check things out.”
I watch him as he disappears from view. “I’m coming too!” I yell.
“No! Stay in the car!” he answers back.
This road is dangerous and I know, I should stay in the car, but I’m not going to. I step into the mud and my shoes slosh and stick and make sucking sounds as I lift my feet. My feet are getting cold as my socks soak up water through the holes in the top of my shoes. The front of the truck looks fine. No cars are coming. It’s safe to go where Daddy is and then I see what happened. The whole left side of my dad’s shiny blue truck is one long scraped up and caved in, muddy dent. The bumper is twisted and hanging off and there are tree limbs in the bed of the truck.
“Things are bad, but they could have been a lot worse,” says my father.
“You think God was watching over us so we didn’t crash too bad?” I say. I know for a fact we could have hit a tree, a telephone pole or a car, head on. All of the sudden it hit me, if God can protect us like that, maybe I should trust in him to make Mom better.
I look down the road and I know town is still really far away.
“It looks like He kept us safe from harm,” my dad says. “Let’s get in and see if we can make it in to town. Otherwise we have a long, cold, wet walk ahead of us.”
I climb into the truck and my sister blurts out, “Daddy told us not to get out of the car!”
I think I’m going to listen to some Christmas music.

Monday, January 17, 2011


by Carlos Nordquist

This is a place interrupted. The night sky has a streak of lightning crossing straight through it. It looks like a jagged, sharp, bright and blue scar. I am doing my best to maintain consciousness. I have been struck in the head with a soft skinned, yet hard skeletal blunt object. His knuckles were like solid steel brass covered with soft, pliable flesh. Deep in the contorted, twisting, dancing pit--it was an accident.

“Hey man, are you ok?” His stoned mind says to me in the soft, velvet, black darkness. I can smell the thick sticky sweet green of the magical ganja on his sweet breath. Techno dreams scream behind the closet door. It’s not really a closet door, but the door to a room writhing with bodies. They are not dead, but most of them wish to be. It was death or razor blade dreams of fathomlessly deep smiling, slitting wrists and swirling dark red, spinning down shower drains.

They dress in silk dresses, painted white faces and vermilion lipstick ripe with the scent of its pasty baby powder smell. Boys with Christian Death ‘Rozz William’ T-Shirts and girls with black wedding dresses clothe the floor and their thin bodies appear as birdlike shapes. They are all deathly pale and thinner than ancient Dixon Ticonderoga pencils from empty grade-schools. This is a gothic candied place where the boys can buy red, bloody roses with razor sharp thorns—the scent of the flowers. Oh, the scent—it is sweeter than honey from a bee. And if between the electronic body music’s beats, if you listen hard enough in the one second silence, before the beat drops again like a hammer, you can hear the dead. You can hear them whisper your name—longing for you to meet them in white drape covered dreams. If you’re not afraid, chicken.

I open up the hollow wooden, stiff, rusted spring, creaking door to the club no longer maintained by fired sick janitors. Men who fixed the girls bathroom so its oak wooden door, would not shut all the way. Men who drilled teaspoon size holes in walls to see things with vacant morals.

Purple black lights brighten the whites of my eyes and expose the virgin, lacy lint on my ‘Lust For Blood’ Velvet Acid Christ T-Shirt. On the back of my shirt, the letters of the V.A.C. logo are drawn like knifes and are metallic in color with razor sharp edges. A heart is on the front of my shirt where my real heart would be. It’s not some sissy valentine but resembles the real thing, glistening and bleeding.

She’s the only girl of my dreams, a young teenage thing and only nineteen as track nine of a vicious Acumen Nation song begins. ‘I have no imagination’ are the lyrics and here, looking at her I know I am nothing compared to the endless deep blue of her eyes. Her skin is delicate like sweet whip cream candy frosting and her black shoes shine, a half-moon in those startling black tap dancing shoes. She doesn’t tap, but she wears what she longed to be, what she always wanted. I need go no further, because I’ve always wanted her.

Three minutes pass and she beckons me into the cool wisps’ of the night. Her full lips like roses part to reveal perfect teeth, the bottom row plays with her tongue like a magician on a golden harmonica—her tongue rolls in her mouth, wet candy cane mint speaking words that make my heart race at butterfly speed.


I listen and hear the puffy clouds of midnight and its distant thunder. It’s more haunting than anything. The Depeche Mode like chanting of Assemblage 23 soars through air that is heavy with the flowery smell of Jasmine. I can see its tiny symmetrical petals stuck tight to a stem that will never let go. Just as I know this wedding cake beauty, with her corset top and bare milky shoulders will never let me go. I wrap my spidery arms around her smooth, frilly satin waist. I whisper in her ear and tell her my favorite haiku:

“Kudzu strangled house
Overgrown vines and tangled veins
Summer place of pain”

She laughs and tickles back at my ear like a soft white feather.

Needles of kudzu strangle the once abandoned establishment--the place where the sounds we love keep angry neighbors over ancient train tracks awake all night. Her chiffon ball gown turns, its bottom bells up and rings, calling spirits that its time to enter back in to the church of acid.

She tucks her small hand behind the door frame and taps it open. She eats in gusts like a snake every two weeks, but her limbs pull the closet open--hard and with a destructive fury. She doesn’t even have to try.

Inside lights have stolen the darkness from the dance floor that’s sliding and glistening with spilled alcohol. Boys without shirts slither and then pound against each other. Anvils of the beat pound the air and their fascinating shapes move in a liquid frenzy, trapped in an isolation tank of hatred for this mundane world. They all know what each other is thinking. Silver bullet, metal guitar riffs tear the fragile jasmine scent. Tears streak down their faces as the beats and riffs join each other with their own voice. They pause temporarily from time to time waiting for the next boy or the next to join in. Each with tattoos of women with black hair and blue eyes (just like my princess) adorned on their bodies, the angels upon the boys’ skin smile at me.

The DJ places another vinyl on the turn table. Space begins. Its black and empty and ruthless. The raspy, male, German voice of Wumpscut begins. The music has the odd sound of an organ in it. Its rapid and it swirls in time with the xylophone-like keyboards while the heavy beats pound. I know my ears are going to ring for days after this.

My angel turns the corners of her red licorice lips and her endless deep ocean blue eyes look at me. It’s a look that could melt a thousand princes all at once. “Are you ready yet?” She says.

I answer yes and we leave. We head back through those hot purple black lights, melting power that is about to burst like a balloon lost by a motherless child. I hope the light breaks from the surges of power that provide that illuminating light. The light that exposes all of the flaws of our clothing and yet brightens us up like white lingerie on a newly-dead.


We travel across the night street--past the hundred year old oaks with pale green moss draped over their branches. A hot mist is coming from the empty road, because it has just rained again--that cold winter rain. We enter an all night restaurant. There is a dried up buffet with dark brown gravy on it, splattered and dried to a crisp. The mashed potatoes are yellow in color and one best not eat the seafood--it expired hours ago.

This place caters to those who want to pretend it’s normal to be out at the devils hour--three a.m. eternal--the hour when it is not safe to be un-Christian. The hour when an angry friend or voodoo priestess can send a demon someone's way while the slit of their eyes are sleeping. They wake up and find life is cursed. Powered by this devils hour.

This soft, velvet black haired, chiffon dressed girl with those milky soft, porcelain smooth shoulders is cursed. The Cures ‘Fascination Street’ whistles in our ears, old and familiar. We sit at a table, hold each others frail, dead hands and hear a throat clear. The young voice belongs to a girl who will be food. We order catfish and other things. It comes and its flaky white, greasy texture melts in our mouths like bottom-feeding, dirty river tear drops.

Aurelia gives me a greasy finger and I suck and lick it and bite it with my razor sharp canine teeth. Her flesh cracks like a cracker when I nip at it. Chewing on her reminds me of snapping tiny bird bones under my feet. “Ouch!” She says and she glares at me with that--wait till your backs turned--I will get you later, look. We trust each other, most of the time.
Twisting her face in to the beautiful look of pain is worth it. Like when I gave birth too her--when I bit her reluctant body and she joined me for all eternity (until someone stakes us in our coffin warm sleep).

Our waitress, our meal, refills our crystal glasses of Coke's and Aurelia nods at me. It’s time. We have watched and the only other person there, the cook, has gone out for a smoke. We hope she tastes as delicate as the catfish.