Chapter 5: When things got weird


Ch 5

             It was impossible not to stare at them. A small girl of nine or ten with her right hand firmly planted on the back of a mangy skeletal hound was slowly crossing the street. The dog was enormous, almost as tall as the child and, judging from appearance, in a truly pitiful state of health. It was thin and gaunt, with ribs prominently displayed through paper-thin layer of ashy skin and a sharply protruding spine beneath patches of strange grey fur. It was either very old, very sick or both. On the contrary the little girl brimmed with health. Her skin was pink, almost peachy; wispy auburn hair covered her shoulders in a cascade of curls, she moved her tiny feet pointing her toes, like a little dancer. Even from a distance I could see her bright eyes shining like tiny ambers from beneath long thick eyelashes. The duo had such a peculiar quality to them that even I, in my state of heightened self-involvement, forgot myself for a minute, stopped and marveled at them making their way to my side of the street. When they came closer I was surprised to discover two things, the dog was even uglier and more handicapped than I had imagined, both of its eyes were glossed over with a thick white film, and the beautiful little girl walking by its side was, in reality, an even more beautiful boy. The animal was obviously blind, and the boy’s hand was moving it along. He was a “guide boy” I thought, an ironic reversal of roles between a human and his dog. Having cast off all considerations for that social convention, which since early childhood instructs us not to stare, I stood there, watching them approach. They were like something out of a fairy tale or from another time, so out of place on this otherwise unremarkable Los Angeles block.

When they were about half way across the street I realized that the little boy seemed just as interested in me as I was in him. Unapologetically staring back into my face he floated towards me, right up to the point when there was no more than 3 feet of pavement left between us, at which time he stopped and shifted his eyes to the shopping bag in my hand. A bottle of cheap Vodka, prominently displayed itself against its transparent plastic containment. If it didn’t occur to me to feel self-conscious right then, the words that proceeded to come out of his tiny pink mouth turned me scarlet red.

“Drink much?” Was all he said, but those two words spoken in that little girl voice made all the blood in my body rush straight to my face.

“What?” I thought It had to have been a misunderstanding, I must have misheard him.

But he just stood there, unabashedly staring me down. It was an uncomfortable, unexpected turn of events. This child managed to go from an enchanting little fairy tale prince to an obnoxious little shit in as much time as it took him to blurt out those two words. I could tell that I really didn’t have a choice but to extricate myself from this situation. Whether he said what I thought he said, or not, getting into it with a little kid in the middle of the street wasn’t going to help matters. I had enough sense left in me to just walk away. Completely dumbfounded, I stiffly turned on my heels and started walking in the apposite direction from whence he came.

“Surreal, completely surreal” I mumbled to myself.

Despite best efforts to free my mind from the echo of that condescending little voice, it seemed to have stuck to me, as unnerving in its residual state as it was when I first heard it. But if that wasn’t enough, the bizarre duo itself turned out to have been just as persistent. When quite some time later I heard footsteps nearby and looked over my shoulder, I saw them trailing behind me, about 30 feet away. Agitated by the discovery I quickened my stride and in a few minutes checked for them again, the distance between us had not increased. Were they intentionally keeping pace? I wasn’t in any kind of a mood to be haunted by some snotty little asshole and his ugly stray. I stopped abruptly, whipped around and glared straight at them.

“Listen, Lord Fauntleroy, where are you parents? What do you think you are doing? Where are your parents?” I shouted, the sound of my own voice surprised me, it was incredibly high, like a shrill. His reaction was not at all what I expected either. Instead of looking intimidated or scared, like a child ought to look when faced with an angry, spitting adult, this boy let out the most wholehearted and boisterous laugh. He laughed! At me?

“Parents? Ha Ha Ha! Where are your parents? Do they know what you’ve been up to? Anyways, other people have business this way too, you really ought to do something about the paranoia.”

He sounded nothing like a 10 year old, and nothing like a stranger. I blinked stupidly fast, hoping that added eye lubrication would assist me in clarifying this entire conundrum, maybe I knew him from somewhere, or maybe he wasn’t a child at all but some kind of a little person. Still in front of me stood a strange small boy and a large ugly dog, and his angelic appearance did not match his insolent tongue. I found myself in exactly the same situation I was in the first time around with only one mature course of action-to leave. So once again I turned around and walked on. But he wasn’t done with me.

“And Charly, you ought to hurry, it’s about to rain.”

My eyes widened to the point of a facial spasm. The last time I felt frightened like that I was 7, my sister had put on a scary clown mask with long sharp teeth and jumped out from under my bed as I was climbing into it. I remember feeling then just like I did now, convinced that she was something otherworldly, I had taken off running out of my room screaming for help. When I heard my name, spoken so nonchalantly in that little voice by that little stranger, my feet reacted, running away with me as fast as they could, just like I did when I was 7. Thankfully I wasn’t far from my hotel so my new pace allowed me to reach it within a couple of minutes. Ducking in under its awning I stopped and leaned on the gilded front doors, trying to catch my breath. Finally I dared to look back for the first time since I set off sprinting like a mad woman. To my relief the street behind me was empty; there was no trace of the runt or his dog. I squinted and stuck my head out into the street, trying to peer out further than my sight would allow, a drop of water fell on my face, I wiped it off with the back of my hand, but one more drop fell in its place, the next thing I knew rain was pouring from the sky. As predicted.


Chapter 3: Pretty, curly, barefoot monster

art, writing

Art: original

Chapter 3

Half an hour later we pulled up to the high-rise where my husband and I had been living for almost a year, one of those swanky buildings with a marble lobby, a jolly doorman and an aggressively starched, dehydrated concierge. I popped out of the cab, asked the bellboy to take care of my bags and hastily walked across the lobby towards the elevator. The concierge was a skinny severe looking man in his fifties, with one of those squinty facial expressions that drills holes in everyone around. I always wondered what it would be like to sit down with him and have a candid conversation, the sort he could have with a colleague or a close personal friend. I knew that behind that stoic facade there was a wealth of insight, opinion and possibly even, judgment. As I walked past the front desk, he ceremoniously rose from his chair to offer me a greeting.

“Good morning, Miss Hart, welcome home.”

“Hello Mr. Brooks, thanks’s good to be home!”

I could tell that, uncommonly, he wanted to say something else, but I wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries, so I avoided eye contact and kept a steady course towards the elevator. I pushed the button, but in these very tall buildings, the elevators often took a while having to travel up and down across 50 floors, and I hadn’t the patience to wait. So I turned for the staircase. Finally I was at my door, my hair fell out of my headband and I was short of breath, having overestimated my stair climbing fitness. I paced myself for a second and pulled out a compact mirror. TV noises were seeping from underneath the door. I detected a faint smell of bacon and something sweet, like molasses. Yay, breakfast. My face was uncontrollably convulsing into a smile. I inserted the key and turned it slowly to cushion the loud click of the deadbolt receding into the door, then pushed, the door swung open. He was standing by the stove with a spatula in hand, the sinuous aroma of maple syrup and frying bacon filled my nostrils. My eyes met his immediately, I emitted a squeal, and trotted up to him, jumping into his arms. For the next minute we were locked in a tight embrace, any closer and we would have fused together. My face rested on his shoulder, as I waited for him to recover from the surprise and say something. A moment passed, then another, nothing was said, no movement was made, I continued to cling, waiting on his reaction. Then my heart jumped. A pair of strange eyes met mine from across the kitchen nook. They came at me like a runaway train, bam, its impact produced a sensation of physical pain. When I was ten, much to the dismay of my dad, I pried open one of those disposable cameras at a convenience store near my house, when it shocked me, I thought an invisible fist had literally punched through my arm into my chest and pinched my heart. This felt just like that, but worse. The shock travelled through every cell in my body, taking away muscle control, paralyzing. She sat at my antique hardwood table, his mother’s wedding gift, in only a T-shirt with a fried egg on her plate and a fork in her hand. Pretty, curly, barefoot monster. It did not compute. I stared at her over his shoulder; she stared back, then slowly put her fork down and folded her hands in her lap, as if trying not to spook or aggravate a wild animal. That’s when it really hit; I recognized her T shirt. I bought it for Matt years ago; there was a cartoon of a hot dog running from a fork printed on the front. At the time I thought it was so funny, but it wasn’t funny now. I realized that I was still clinging to him, with my fingers dug deep into his shoulders, but he stood still as a statue. I unlocked my arms and slowly pried myself from his chest. Pulling away, I looked at him with some faint hope that there was a reasonable explanation. But his expression, frozen as it was on his face, told me otherwise, shock and fear were perhaps its most obvious hues. Or maybe I was projecting and there was no expression. Maybe, he was utilizing the same strategy as the aubergine hotel employee, offering no reaction in order to discourage the embarrassing scene, which certainly took place in most situations such as this one. I couldn’t tell anymore, my own horror had permeated everything around me, her, him, the bellboy, who had arrived right in time to witness my meltdown and now stood frozen in the doorway, with eyes wide as an owl’s. Then it all started to move, swarming, banging around, loud like a hurricane. Hyperventilating, I backed up towards the exit.

“Jesus Christ Matt.” I wasn’t sure if I whispered or screamed “What is this?! What is….”

I made a step backwards, then another. My knees buckled, I tried to turn towards the door but the ground seemed to have leaped up at me, smashing into my back. A sharp stab of pain shot through my body, it had a sobering effect. I found myself collapsed on the floor, having tripped over the purse I dropped when walking in. Matt finally unfroze and made a concerned movement towards me, hands outstretched. I scrambled to get up, gesturing against his approach. All I wanted was to be out of that space, to be free of him and her, the stench of bacon, that stupid hotdog shirt. Next thing I knew I was running down the staircase with the sound of her voice ricocheting inside my head like a bullet.

“That was intense…that was intense…that was intense.”

I heard the sound of feet behind me and thought it was him, but as I looked back I saw the flushed face of that poor bellboy, who not knowing what to do, had abandoned my luggage by the door and was now awkwardly chasing after me.

Mr. Brooks stood in the center of the lobby, like a statue, he had been expecting me. He looked larger than usual, taller and even dryer. Dear God, I thought, he had been waiting for me since the moment I went up, he knew all along. I was exposed, tears were welling up inside me along with the most unbearably urgent need to disappear. I ran by him, with no other thought than to escape those walls, where everyone knew everything and I wore the dunce’s hat. He muttered something to me as I flew past him. I had never before heard Mr. Brooks mutter, he was the kind of man who always annunciated his words perfectly like a catholic school rector or a German officer. It didn’t matter what he said, I imagined he was asking if I was well or whether I required a cab. Maybe he was telling me what an idiot I had been all along, what a naïve laughable idiot I was, and how many dozens, no, hundreds of molasses laden breakfast scenes had taken place in that apartment during my absences. But it didn’t matter, because none of it seemed real anymore, in that kitchen reality had collapsed on top of me like a house of giant lead cards.


On why Insects bite the crap out of me

humor, writing

I am an insect Superhero..or..The perils of fame

In the “About me” section of my profile, I mentioned that for some unknown reason, insects think I am a Superhero. Granted, I treat them with a measure of respect seldom afforded such small creatures, and have been known to carry out elaborate rescue missions of confused bees and disoriented snails. Despite this, I certainly have done nothing to encourage the unfortunate misconception that I am a Superhero. Still, insects idolize me. They build countless effigies in my honor and conduct weekly revelries in my kitchen, sacrificing insect virgins and babies in an effort to earn my favor. But it doesn’t end there. I am frequently accosted by swarms of my insect fans, and mind you, they are not gentle. Unhinged by the mere sight of me, my insect devotees will stop at nothing to get a piece. Steel your nerves, as what I am about to tell you is indeed, disturbing. On a multitude of occasions I have been violently bitten, on my flesh and even on my head. During other, no less traumatic assaults, they have savagely stabbed at me and stolen my blood! Recently, I heard from a loose-lipped Beetle, that my blood has become quite the commodity on the insect black market. Apparently, it is believed to be a potent aphrodisiac, as well as performance-enhancing drug, commonly used for the purpose of increasing the size and overall stamina of the insect erection. There is even a notorious ring of counter-fitters, trying to pass off other, much inferior blood, as mine. It’s all especially hard, since no one can really understand what I am going through, save The Beatles..and Britney.

 Breaking News: Mr. Mantis, featured above, is a perfect example of the kind of unseemly characters that haunt my existence. This evening the culprit was able to sneak past my security, unceremoniously landing onto my hand. I swear, it’s like these insects think they own me. I shook him off, but he, being more nimble than I anticipated, jumped onto the handle of my tennis hopper, as seen in photo. Glaring at me with beady eyes, he slowly moved his super weird arms making karate chop gestures in my direction. Little did he know, that It takes more than slow motion karate to intimidate me. I immediately called the Insect Police. Mr. Mantis was able to escape, but not before I snapped this incriminating photograph of the criminal in action. There is a warrant out for his arrest, he is considered long armed and extremely green. Citizens, friends, I implore you, hide your children, he may be preying.