Die Writing

The alley

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 23, 2016

At the mouth of the alley, he broke stride to pause and light a cigarette. That always casts a bubble around you – lighting a cigarette – for a moment you can curl into a tiny world within your hand shielding the fragile flame from the wind. The people flow around you, and you can feel a bit of aloneness.

Entering the alleyway was like bursting through the tight water surface, drawing the breath to save yourself from drowning. The busy street left behind, the alley was empty, dark, and a little musty. No one here but the ghosts. Patches of varied lighting revealed the alley. Bulbs in various colors and stages of decay didn’t exactly light the way, but maybe suggested that one might be found.

In a mirror image of the postcard-perfect street facades – the way hell mirrors heaven – backs of the houses formed an irregular, chaotic fjord of porches, claustrophobic yards, and kitchen windows. Gliding along, he could see someone absent-mindedly making dinner. A young wiry man on the phone; on hold forever – or maybe at the receiving end of a run-on monologue. Indistinct TV images flickering on  curtains and ceilings. A middle-aged woman in a  soiled white tanktop smoking by an open window; he raised his cigarette in an invisible, fraternal salute.

The alley twisted sharply, curled up like a hand cradling him. It was quiet and warm, a gentle darkness that relaxed the eyes. He inhaled the tobacco, the damp back alley air, the faint detergent drifting from the clotheslines, the distant fragrance of curry, the alley cats and the alley rats.

Another impossible twist, and the street, bright and peopled, was in view. Dive again, with lungs renewed.

Advertisements

On the streets 9

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 21, 2016

The elderly gentleman sat in the fishbowl window of a bar. He wore the look of distant melancholy. There were strings of bright lights and loud, animated people behind him. The man sat perfectly still, folded hands propped up in front of him, with his gaze resting well beyond Adams Morgan.

His only companions were a crumpled paper bag and the space across the table that distinctly felt like it should be occupied by a person.

***

Two Asian girlfriends half-staggered, half-strutted down a  gently sloping street. The one on the right was overcome by the hilariousness of a story she was relating to her friend, word swallowed in suffocating laughter. Hanging off her friend’s arm, she was responsible for the staggering.

The silent one marched with her head held up high, she was armed with a confident smirk, eye like jet black coal, and two paintings clutched in her free hand.

***

The woman walked into the near-empty, weekday-evening train and dropped onto an empty seat. She placed her elbow against the rubber edge of the window, propped up her chin on her hand, and stared into the rushing darkness of the tunnel. She had unruly, coarse, copper-red hair that looked tired.

Whatever she saw in that void, it lifted her. When she exited the train a few stations later, all the exhaustion was gone, and her eyes were bright again.

On the streets 8

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 19, 2016

The Pride Parade wound through the streets like a river of exuberant joy. Dance formations were followed by floats blasting music out of oversized speakers. The gaps in between were filled out by groups of people dancing, strutting, marching along, waiving signs, arms, and hips. The river banks were made of people, too, radiant and smiling people. Some were dancing, too, or high-fiving and hugging those in the parade. Some, with tears in their eyes, were thanking everyone that’s gone by. Everything was soaked in the sun, the heat, and the music.

The young woman stood still, pressed into the human embankment. The emotions of the moment washed over her without leaving a trace. As her mind wandered off to a foggy distance, she stood completely still, a single-serving packet of chip held up near her face.

***

The man held up a cucumber slice like a damning piece of evidence. He wore a dad’s uniform – a burgundy polo shirt with a crumpled collar and close-cropped, badly combed hair. He seemed to preside over a table filled with children of various ages at a semi-fashionable cafe diner. He fixed his accusatory gaze on the oldest of children, a young woman with long blond hair. There were no words. No scene. Just the well-rehearsed manner of a detective who’s nailed the criminal, perfectly honed by years of being a parent.

***

Just after bar closing on a Friday night. Adams Morgan was choking on traffic. In a knotty intersection of several small streets, a cab driver pulled over to the curb, then got out to yell at the traffic behind him. He was a tall, lean man wearing linen pants and a grey t-shirt. His anger seemed indiscriminant – though slowly, the traffic was moving through the intersection, but he did not stop.

Without turning around, he took several steps across the street, onto the sidewalk opposite his car. From behind, a gleaming black Cadillac zoomed up. Its breaks squealed, the headlights jumped – the lights always appear extra bright in moments like this – and seemed to swerve toward the cab driver. It slid to the edge of the street. The rim of the front tire scraped the curb as it stopped a couple feet short of the man. Who never flinched, and did not even turn around.

Jackero and the Mule

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on February 13, 2016

Aside

Been watching the Dollar Trilogy and listening to its music on repeat.

Wa wa waaaa

The sparse plaza was circled by a few squat white-washed buildings, Jackero, and the Mule. And of those, the men were the immovable ones. Across the hundred-mile gap between them, they were locked in each other’s steady focus. Discolored by the sun, Jackero’s leaden eyes tracked on the Mule’s outline, which shimmered falsely in the heat.

A wind swept across, a desiccating crest the width of the valley. The two of them leaned imperceptibly into the gale, while the  buildings just shrunk deeper into themselves. The hands of time suspended, and the thin shifting sand whispered across the open void. The desolation stung with the smell of heat.

The tempest wind tore at them, tried to grit their eyes out, but the two mountains did not yield. Over and over, guns would ring out in the stillness of their minds. Meanwhile, the crawling, crackling sand was the only one to interrupt the peace in the zocalo.

The lakeshore farewell

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on December 10, 2013

Aside

Who knows where the time goes?

Coolly

The frigid air embraced Gregory, crept up the sleeves and the pant legs. His hands were going stiff. He briefly chastised himself for forgetting the gloves, but couldn’t stay focused on the frustration. The feeling dropped away and disappeared. He looked along the empty embankment, which circled the foggy lake infinitely in both directions. Pristine white trees lined the shore. Somewhere in the phantom distance, he heard seemingly agitated voices. But he couldn’t concentrate on them either, and so he let them go. Feeling floated away from him, but something pinned him.

“I’m sorry,” he finally gave it a name. The pure white light of the sun filtered through the fog. It illuminated the park with clean brilliance, but gave no warmth.

“You don’t have to be sorry anymore, Gregory. It’s alright.” It was Virginia’s voice, he knew it, but couldn’t quite see her.

“I was so angry, Virginia, so angry, so mad.”

“I know. I know. I was angry, too. I thought we were through, and all I saw was this terrible void. I didn’t know it wasn’t the end.”

“You came back. We came back. But I just held on, I stayed angry, and I didn’t… didn’t forgive you at all. And then…”

“And then I died.”

“And then you died.” His hands were frozen stiff now, and he felt he couldn’t stand up from the bench. He let out a deep breath, and it formed a glittering cloud in the frozen air. It began to expand and thin out and then merged with the fog. “I was late, and I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright, Gregory. It’s alright now.”

Gregory paused and took another look along the endless bank. Then, with ease that was both surprising and natural, he stood up and walked toward the water. Then sheer blanket of fog hovering over the water caught his weight, and Gregory continued on across the lake, weightless.

Bits and clips

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on September 24, 2013

Shump

The impact is soft, dull. The shock is sharp, yet lingering.

The sun in the cafe was unbearably bright. It glinted off the polished bar like a fire. The scorching summer day was dying, drowning the town in the last of its heat. Parched, they drank glass of champagne after glass, the only cold drink in the place. They couldn’t get drunk; they were losing their minds in each other.

Thwack thwack

Bits of steel and brick sprayed out in a hot shower.

They were on a beach, secluded by a miracle. The golden months of autumn have covered the continent, but the water on the Southern shore was still warm and welcoming. The air was perfectly still, and the sea just barely kissed the sand. They have been talking for hours, sometimes laughing, and sometimes holding back the tears. He wasn’t really a freelance writer with a travel budget that was somehow unlimited. She wasn’t really a bookstore owner who just happened to know how to bring down a man twice her size in less than a second.

Thwack shriek thwack shump

Can’t scream; can’t hear. Colors burn up. Shadows plunge.

They were in the back of the cab. It was the first frost, and the slightest silver sheen covered the naked trees. He caught himself smiling, tried to control his face, and found that he absolutely could not. She looked at him, and he knew that she had found herself in the exact same spot. He cracked open the window, letting the chill air into the car, just as they pulled through the secure gate into the embassy compound.

Shriek shump shump thwack crash shump thwack

It’s hard to breathe through the pulverized metal and concrete. He finds her hand. She finds his eyes. Her lips move, but he can’t hear any words. The only sound the blood pounding in his head.

The sun in this cafe is unbearably bright. The glint in his eyes is like a fire. The winter day is dying, and he is drowning in its heat. He looks at her, can’t ever move his eyes, but a shadow falls across her, absorbs her, absorbs everything.

The slow goodbye

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on May 26, 2012

She was slipping away. His hand on traced out the parts of her it would never touch again. The fingers slipped over the slightly moist skin, feeling the bumps of her spine, the shape of the shoulder blade, and the tiny birthmark. They reached the fold of the fabric at the edge her dress. He felt every thread, every stitch, the clasp of her bra under the gossamer silk.

She was moving away so slowly, that for brief moments he could convince himself that she wasn’t moving away at all, that she would stay right here forever, not quite his, but not quite gone, either.

He was hoping to linger somewhere along her arm – perhaps catch her shoulder or her elbow – but finding a pause proved impossible. He dreaded the inevitable moment when he would reach her finger tips, dreaded it so much he almost missed it. The moment cut him like a surgeon’s knife.

She was already growing dark, swallowed by the tide of time. He couldn’t breathe.

The time before world’s waking

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on October 31, 2011

Light appeared everywhere at once. It was blue, and it didn’t come from the sky. The glow came from the roofs, the walls, and the pavement. It came out of the frost covering the cars. It lifted from people’s skin.

The advance was immeasurable. In an instant, there was simply more of it, and it seemed that it had always been just as bright as it is now. It was rising like a steady flood, evenly filling everything everywhere at once.

Everything seemed nascent and tentative. It seemed more like a sketch of the world than the world itself. Everything shimmered in the unreal blue light. Then, in an imperceptible transition, the sketch began to acquire textures and weight, until it all didn’t seem quite so imagined anymore.

Smiling?

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on October 20, 2011

Aside

Drive is a great and right movie. This doesn’t have much to do with it, though. Just a little.

Friends

“Why is he smiling?”

The operator moves into the glare of the screen. The cool, dry air of the observation room makes him squint at the screen, where in a flurry of shifting green pixels a man has wrapped himself in blankets in the bare and public stage of his private home.

Hum of the fans, chatter of the keys, chatter in the speakers. High-resolution cameras scanning the dark windows of the man’s house. Neural sensors coming online, following the minute muscle activity. Low-frequency microphone probes examining heart rate and breathing. Facial recognition modules, expression analyzers, secondary operator …

The operators, the autonomous machines, the mainframes, the vast floating airship silently sailing above the night-time city concentrate their collective, inquisitorial gaze on the man in his blanket. With air waves, light beams, wires, fibers, electrodes, algorithms, as one aggregate creature with the sole purpose of assuring the continual and mechanically perfect existence, the complex wraps the man in a cold embrace.

It is an embrace that is closer and tighter than any lover’s. It captures every impulse, every breath, every muscle tick, every hair, every drop of sweat, every shiver, every look and thought. And yet,

“Why is he smiling?”

The man with the favors

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on October 15, 2011

A glass of expensive whiskey and a cigarette in the right hand.  A chrome-plated pistol in the left. Whiskey held casually at waist height. Three-quarters burn on the cigarette with just a bit of ash, with a simple, understated fragrance that instantly puts images of leather saddles bags in your mind.

A perfectly starched white pin-stripe shirt – necktie loose, top button undone – and tailor-trimmed slacks would normally place this man in a luxurious board room. But the gun – the gun held back just enough to not be obvious, but just large enough to not go unnoticed – makes the scene wrong, surreal.

How could one person make such a transition – from exclusive glass-and-steel to this place, standing a puddle of… Blood? Sweat? Waste water? – with such ease? Some people are just natural at wearing a suit. This man is a natural at wearing Fifth Avenue’s best while carrying a gun in a run-down warehouse.

“Well greetings to you. Fuck you.”