Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chapter 2: A Different Path

Don Conklin sprawled out on the couch with a blanket over him watch the morning news before his wife entered with his cup of coffee. He thanked her for bringing it to him as she sat across from him in the recliner, donning her fuzzy pink housecoat. The report on the television detailed the search for a serial killer who still reigned over surrounding states. He shook his head and turned to his wife after sipping from his steaming hot cup.

His features told the story of his painful existence. Wrinkles filled his face from his eyes to his chin; he had been through hell and back two times over. His blue eyes were studying the newscaster; it was obvious to him that Mr. Zimmerman was reading from a teleprompter. As he spilled the details about the latest gruesome murder to occur in Yonkers, Don picked up on his condescending attitude about the situation. After entering a period of deep thought, he finally spoke.

“What is wrong with the world today? Things didn’t use to be this way.”

Reaching for her pack of cigarettes that rested on the table to the left of her, she disagreed with his sentiment. “Don’t be so nostalgic. You make it seem like we weren’t afraid for our lives when we were growing up. How quickly we forget the past, huh? Do you not remember changing plans on our first date because the Night Stalker was still on the loose?”

“He doesn’t deserve to be remembered and neither does this guy.”

With her typical snarky attitude, she quipped back, “now who ever said this killer is a man?” She flipped the pack open and fingered a cigarette from the pack, placing it to her lips before sparking it.

“You know, I’m growing tired of that shit.”

“What shit? We’ve been married for twenty three years next week and you still complain over my attitude. Get over it, Don.”

Tossing the blanket off of him, he sat up on the couch with his hands covering his kneecaps below the blue sweatpants he awoke in; he shot over a look of disgust before continuing the verbal battle. “You know what I mean, it’s the smoking. Don’t you have any respect for me?”

She was appalled at his sentiment and ended the stick in a glass ashtray before taking a seat next to him. Before asking how he could ever feel that way, she remembered the promises that she’d made in the past while he laid in a hospital bed, fighting for his life.

He chastised her again, “not only are you killing yourself, but you’re killing me, too. Not to mention the money you waste on the fucking things. Ten dollars a pack, are you insane?” After taking a deep breath, he rested his head on her shoulder and apologized, attributing this episode to stress and his fear of death.

She shifted her eye sight towards him but was cut off before she could mouth the words that she intended to. “Now I know what you’re gonna say, Andrea. You’re gonna go on and tell me that it’s no big deal, and that you’re obligated as my wife. .  . but the fact of the matter is, no you’re not obligated to this. I know plenty of women that would have up and left in this very same situation, so spare me the bullshit.”

Andrea kissed his check and laid back on the couch with him following suit. Once wrapping an arm around the back of his neck, she told him that she loved him.

“You changed my life, Donald Conklin. I tell you this as much as I can, but I don’t think you’d ever really understand what you mean to me.” Don smiled and looked her in the eyes, reaffirming his feelings for her.

“I knew I made the right choice when I took your hand. I couldn’t do better if I had the world by the balls.”

They shared a laugh together, she patted him on the chest as she stood up and began her morning routine of cleaning up from the night before. As the newscast took a commercial break, she heard him chuckle at the ad for a local law firm.

If you’ve been injured seriously
Don’t bother searching curiously
We fight for your rights, furiously
Just take a look in the mirror and see
Call the firm that has your back
Gwendolyn, Hofstra and Mac

She knew her husband was on borrowed time. She peered from the kitchen and noticed the smile on his face. This could go on no longer. Andrea unfolded yesterdays paper and circled and article before grabbing a skillet from the pantry.

"Do you want some breakfast?"

It All Ends The Same (Poem)

The blood stained walls are closing in around me...
I look in your eyes and say I'm glad that you found me...
I remember when all of my dreams were of you...
Now I'll have nightmares of your face turning blue...
From the stranglehold beneath my fists..
You're gasping for air, the light is dim and the pipe drips..
You've resided in my cellar for more than a week..
You make my heart ache, you once were the reason it beat..
Never did I think it would come to this...
I professed my love daily, but you didn't give a shit..
So now you lay the same way I found you..
A blank stare in your eyes, the walls closing around you..
You drive me to rage, I wish I knew where to start..
As much as I hate you, you'll always have my heart..
And I know for a fact that I'll always have yours..
Because I'll keep it forever under the floor..
The look in your eyes will always remain..
No matter what I do, it all ends the same.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chapter 1: The Fire Inside

As  I sit in my black leather chair, I gaze out the window looking out towards the ones that define my existence. The citizens of Yonkers have been washed with my terror for two and half years. My name is James Altiwood and I am a writer. While I had never achieved the success that would label me as ‘successful’, I found myself living comfortably from the words that I tossed to the masses. Like a king chucking his left overs to the peasants, they flocked to the passages with salivation building in their gullet. They were more than ready to tear me down after briefly building me up.

I stood up and motioned towards the window, kneeling down in front of it with my arms folded on the pane. The trees waved their leaves like hands at a concert, dancing to nature’s tune. The green grass excited me, I could pick up on the children’s innocent screams and laughter. They reminded me that I do have a heart.

She had a way about her, I couldn’t look away. I was transfixed on every flip of her locks, breathlessly awaiting the next. She gave into my silent demands and positioned her hair behind her shoulders and down her back. Here I sat, smiling like a fool. She reached down into her purse and pulled out a bottle of water and took a clean sip. Before placing it back inside she looked in my direction. Of course, she did not acknowledge my presence. Did they ever?

My mind raced from the scenarios in which I could take her. If I could just show her what it all means, I’d feel that my life was complete. What am I saying? I’ve never even spoke to this woman, yet she has my heart. I admired her features from the window that separated my love from hers. Trapped in my own head again, you’d think I’d be used to this feeling by now.

She clutched the copy of the New York Times that sat next to her on the park bench and began to flip through it. She was knowledgeable about the on goings of the world around us, which was admirable.  I wondered to myself if she did any research on her own.

There are massacres happening all around the globe. Uganda, Syria, places that are redacted from the youth’s history books. I’m getting ahead of myself. I sip my tea and watch the kids play in the streets, prancing and smiling as they tag their friends. I wish I could talk to her, tell her about them. After reading an article or two, she put the paper down and searched for her phone.

Sitting on the bench with her legs folded, she played on her phone like any woman her age would. Based on my first glance I gathered that she could no older than 30, no younger than 25. She had the aura of a single mother. Her grey Hollister shirt and low cut jean shorts fit snugly, hugging her body with a bears grip.

I was drawn to her, she has to be next. I can settle for no less than her. The only thing holding me back from walking out the door and approaching her is the fact that I’ve never had a girlfriend. My father made sure of that.

My train of thought was interrupted when her toddler son approached and complained of something I couldn’t make out. It’s not like I was within ear shot. She picked him up and scampered away to her silver Honda Civic. I reached for a pen and a piece of paper to write down her license plate before she pulled away.

I was most certainly breaking my pattern by attempting this, but the fire inside raged on, persuading me that this was the right move. I was not one to argue with my inner demons. So it was settled. She has to die by my hand, and it was painfully obvious that only I could make it so.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just Another Day

The familiar raspy voice traveled through my ears and into the deepened crevices of my mind, nuzzling inside. It didn’t want to leave and I couldn’t make it do so. All I could was sit and listen, accept what was being said to me. Talking down to me again, like a child who got into the flour pot, no surprise there.

“Go the fuck away.” I thought to myself. Of course, he spoke back and told me that I needed him to be who I was. His defiant ways were beginning to prove to be too much for me. 

His coarse tone again infiltrated my thoughts, damning me from progressing forward. I sat in the smooth black recliner and kicked my feet up on the ottoman that laid inches from me.

“Deep down I know there’s a part of you that enjoys this. You could break away from me, my chains, my stranglehold… but you choose not to. Now tell me what this says about you?”

“It says nothing, nothing of substance. Every person who has ever breathed has had to deal with you and I’m just about sick of it. One of these day I’m gonna…”

He cut me off before I could finish.

“You’re gonna what? You can’t do shit, Matt. You can’t disrupt this balance. You are nothing without me. Nothing! What you fail to realize is that you need me to be you.”

“Ok, maybe you’re right. Here’s you fail to realize. Without me, there’s no you.”

“That’s not true at all,” he quipped back. “You could keel over and die where you sit and I’d be a-ok. I don’t need you, Matthew. I already control millions upon millions of others, so you tell me why I need you again?”

I motioned for the glass of red wine that rested on the table nearby. As I lifted it and put the Riedel glass to my lips and swished around the Cabernet, I sunk into the chair and took a deep breath. In an act of defiance, I wound up and threw the glass at my forty-six inch television set. Both shattered upon impact, which led him to let out a laugh that could best be described as bone-chilling. This is what he wanted.  

“What are you trying to prove, Matthew? You can’t hurt me. I am you.”

“You’re not me! You may live here but you are not me in any way. I deal with your shit because I have to, I don’t have a fucking choice. You don’t control me, you sick fuck.”

“But I do. Look at what I just made you do. Can’t watch a Yankee game with a shattered TV screen, can ya? Better get to writing; it’s all you have now.”

“Fuck you.”  I stepped out of the living room and into the kitchen where I grabbed the jug of off brand orange juice. Opening the cupboard, I stretched my arm until I felt the plastic cap of the cheap vodka along my fingertips. I nudged it downwards and caught it in mid-air, clasping it between my abdomen and left arm. He made his presence felt by speaking up again.

“You’ve gotta be shitting me. Drowning in the bottle again, and you have the nerve to wonder why I’m here? I’m a byproduct of you, how can’t you see this?”

I slouched down beside the cupboard, dropping to the floor with the bottle in my hand. I felt defeated. He was going to win this round. I twisted the cap off and threw it across the kitchen with no regard for where it may end up.  I watched it skip across the floor and against the recycling bin that sat empty in the hallway.

“Do it, you know you want to. Give in, drink. You deserve it. Look at what you’ve been through.” He was being damn persuasive, and he knew the gospel he spoke was undeniable. I fed into it and took a shot before standing up and heading to the bathroom.

He knew what I was planning to do and pleaded with me not to. The bottle of 500 milligram hydrocodone stared at me from the medicine cabinet below the sink.

“Please don’t. Don’t do this. You were right, I was wrong. I need you! Don’t do this!”

It was obvious to him that I had the upper hand now. I pressed down and spun the top off of the bottle and dumped the contents into my palm. While thinking it all through, I mustered up the courage to stand to my feet and look him in the eyes.

I lifted my head in his direction but paused. I took a deep breath and swallowed three pills, sending a warning shot that he would not soon forget. I had seven more resting in my hand and would not hesitate to down the rest if he started his shit again. I walked over to the sink with my shoulders slouching low. I twisted the faucet on and watched the stream of water circle about the ceramic bowl and down the drain.

“Look at me. Look at me now, god damnit! You can’t do this to me!”

I finally looked up and stared back, burning a hole in the eyes that gazed back. His hazel eyes stared back and the reflection was my own.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Piece of You

Grey skies encompassed the tone of the afternoon as a flock of black birds circled around in the skies, almost blending in with the overcast. She looked up and let out a deep, reflective sigh. “How did I get here?” she thought to herself, pounding on the hood of her ’98 Bronco. Sweat dripped down from her brow and onto the cement that rested below her feet. Despite the cloud cover, it was sweltering hot and she knew from her experience in the south that a storm was coming. A storm indeed, one that would force her to reconsider everything she had ever come to know.

It was a welcome addition to her psyche, as things had been looking bleak for some time. Her black hair kicking about in the wind and her small face showing the hurt that she endured on a daily basis proved the pain she endured on this planet. The past six months were riddled with many signs of her untimely demise, and the birds up above lent no credence to think otherwise. She felt for her cell phone in the mess that was her purse and grasped it with her left hand. Coming out along with it was her AAA card, and she punched the first three numbers into her dial pad. She stopped and put her phone away at the sight of the raven.

The bird landed on the roof of her car and stayed, stared at her. She put the phone back into her purse and stepped towards it, examining it like a young boy who had captured his first insect. Before she could muster a thought, the bird speak to her.

“Lisa, you know what all of this means, don’t you?”

“You? What you mean?”

“Not only me. The visions, the fear of leaving all of this behind. Corey. I know of him, I know it all.”

“Is there anything you don’t know?”

The bird waddled in a circular fashion, as if to detest everything she had said thus far. He came closer to her with a defiant expression on his face, head cocked to the side, as if he was above her.

“Don’t you realize where all of your fears live? I live in the same place, and it’s all in your head. You can’t honestly think I’m carrying a conversation with you, right?” The bird fell back and rolled around in a fit of laughter in front of her vulnerable eyes. Whatever this raven would follow up with she would surely buy into.

“If I’m talking to you, and you’re talking to me then who is the crazy one?”  the bird quipped while remaining on his backside. Lisa clenched for the bird but he rolled out of her reach and on his feet in one quick motion.

“Why are you doing this to me? Don’t I go through enough? What do you want from me?”

“What is it that you think I want?”

“Do you know how annoying it is for someone to follow up a question with?” a question

“Do you know that you did just that?”

Lisa shook her head as if it would help to get a grip on reality. She reached into her open window and retrieved a twenty ounce bottle of Diet Coke. Bending down at the face of her vehicle, she sat on the ground as tears replaced the sweat that previously hit the ground on her behalf. She checked her phone and noticed two missed calls from a debt collection agency. She brushed it off as no big deal, she ignored them most of the time anyways.

The bird crept down from the roof to the hood of her crimson Bronco, startling her when he assumed she was ready to pick up the conversation.

“Leave me alone or I swear to everything, I will kill you!”

The bird chuckled and danced around the hood to prove that he was too quick for her to kill. She bent down once again. Unsuspecting to the bird, she picked up a piece of broken road from the left of her and stood up. She placed the piece of pavement into her back pocket and rekindled the conversation.

“If your kind could kill me with their bare hands we’d be extinct by now! You can try but I guarantee you can’t do it. Not possible. Nope, no way, try me.

Rain started to drop from the sky in symmetrical pellets, hitting everything in their path except the two who stood face to face. She stood up to look him in the eye and let out a furious scream just to gauge the reaction from the bird.
“Tell me what you want me from me right now or you’ll die. I’m not joking.” She said this with a stern look on her face. The bird knew she meant what she declared.

“You make it seem like I don’t know what you’re about to do, what you’re planning. I know it all.”

“You don’t know shit! You’re a fucking bird! You can’t even speak. . .  fuck! What am I doing to myself?”

“If this is what you think this is, you’ll be able to grab me and kill me with no problems. End your fears with me. Kill me.”

“I don’t want to kill you. I swear I don’t, but If I do, does this all end with you?”

“I can’t tell you that, Lisa. You live and you learn, it is up to you.”

She dug for the rock in her back pocket and the raven remained still as the shadow of his death overcame him.

Friday, May 11, 2012


There was a chill in the air tonight. I sat on the far end of the bar as she stepped through the door. I marveled at her presence and knew that I must keep the promise that I made. Her face was perfect; an artist couldn’t render her any better.  She was here, right when he said she would be. I glanced down to my watch that hugged my wrist. 11:27 PM. She took a seat a few stools away from me, draping her beige raincoat over it. Her sleeves dangled inches from the beige tiled floor.

I couldn’t help but to admire her absolute beauty. Her hair hung down to her shoulders, resting on her navy blue sweater.  I remarked of her eye color. “Brown eyes, huh? Does that mean you’re full of shit like the rest of ‘em?”  She laughed and said, “That’s a good one.” I played with my beard, it had become a habit to casually stroke it.

The bartender approached her and asked what she’d be drinking tonight. She cracked a smile that reaffirmed everything that I’ve ever questioned. She was an angel, she had to be. The fact that she was here now was a blessing in itself. She’d been through so much.

The torment that comes with possessing a tortured soul haunted her on a daily basis.  To be a prisoner within the crumbling walls of your mind, to know that you try your best and it’s not enough . . . yet here she sits, with a smile and laughter emanating from it. How could she appear so happy on the exterior when she housed those evils deep within her, in a treasure chest begging to be pried open?  She desperately yearns for the one who desires to open it.

I tried before. I didn’t expect her to remember me. After all, it was so long ago. She placed her ten dollar bill on the counter, but before the barkeep could collect, my hand hovered the paper and waved off his advances. I told him I’d take care of it and he offered me a shot on the house. He turned his back to pour me a shot of Jameson and I stood behind him and removed the .357 from the back of my jeans. He was dead after the first shot but I continued to empty the clip into the bottles of top shelf liquor. His body hit the floor with dead weight. He cracked his skull on the counter top, so if the initial shot didn’t kill him, this would.

The woman tried to scamper away but I told her to stay put and she did just that. I asked for her name and told her she would need to follow my every instruction if she wanted to make it out of this alive. When she questioned what all of this was about, I shook my head and told her that she’d rather not know the details.

I dug into my jacket pocket to cease the vibrations from my iPhone. I had two texts and seven notifications. I realized that time was ticking away and put the device back where it once rested. I sat back down at the bar and invited her to join me.

“May as well. Free drinks, right?”

She appeared skittish, but eventually came to her better (or worse) senses. She sat next to me at the bar, closer than before and wanted me to tell her what all of this meant.

“What do you think it means? We’re having drinks at a murder scene. The body is still there.” He pointed to the slain bartender. “Time is important at this stage of the game, but never important enough to ignore the act of sharing a drink.”

“This is a game to you? My life is a joke? Who are you?”

“Who I am is not important. I just need you to trust me. Do you?”

“I’m supposed to?”

“Yeah, I think you are. If you only knew, if only I had the time to tell you.”

“Don’t give me that. If you can take a few minutes to have a drink with me, in front of a corpse no less, then you can sure as hell spare a minute to explain why my life is in danger.”

“I can’t do that. Time is everything and it’s running out.”

“Yet you sit here and sip away at that fucking poison.”

“You down me for the same thing you came in here for. Even if I did tell you, you wouldn’t believe it. You’d think I was crazy. This whole thing is meaningless.”

“Nothing is meaningless. You have to know that I can accept whatever this… is.”

“Then so is everything.  No matter what you do or say in this moment, it doesn’t change the outcome.”

“What if it did?”

“Don’t throw rhetoricals at me. Finish your drink. We have to go.”

“No, I’m not going with you until you give me a valid fucking reason. I don’t even know your name and you want me to put my life in your hands?”

“You used to know my name. You used to know everything about me.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Of course not, I knew you wouldn’t. Do you want to?”

“Want to what?”

“Understand. Do you want to understand?”

She thought about it for a moment. I looked at her and picked up on a sense of anticipation filling the room. She was leaning towards trusting me. She nodded her head, giving me the green light on letting her know the truth about us.

“What if I told you that in a past life we were married? Please know the reason I had to tell you this. You’re going to die within minutes. You have a brain aneurysm that will kill you where you sit in exactly seven minutes. I wrestled with the idea of seeking you out. The truth came to me after I was in a coma last winter. I got hit by a drunk driver and was left to die in the windshield. It was hours before anybody helped me. I couldn’t believe it the day that I woke up in the hospital to a nurse wiping my chin after being spoon fed apple sauce. Enough about this, your last moments shouldn’t be about me.”

She knew that she losing grip of her life with each passing second. She recognized the cold reality that she didn’t have a chance to gather her thoughts. She needed to speak now.

“Why did you tell me this? Why would someone want to know this? Where were you going to take me? I deserve to get these answers. End it right.”

“You deserved to know this time. You’ve been taken from me in this way two times before. I couldn’t let it be a surprise this time. I was going to take you across the street to lay in that field and just look at the night sky. I guess it was silly of me to think that it could’ve happened. I’m surprised you didn’t ask why I killed him.”

“Why did you?”

“To show you this was important.” I rose up and my hand graced her shoulder. I bent my head over and kissed her on the cheek as I walked away. “Until next time, my love.”

Before I reached the door I heard her body drop from the stool and onto the floor. I didn’t look back, I couldn’t. Pushing open the door, there was a man waiting for me outside. He came to me and extended his hand. I shook it firmly, regret in my eyes.

“See you in twenty years, bud. I’ll be in touch.”

“You always are.”