The More You Ignore Me…

There’s a man in the distance.

I noticed him first on the desert sands of Arizona two years back. He was a dot on the horizon who shimmered like a mirage in the heat. I didn’t think he was real at first but his faceless shape became a constant in my life.

He followed me to my hometown. Across the long mall parking lots and the over-watered golf fields to the rooftops of my parents’ neighbors’ houses, he was standing there watching me. In the course of our long distanced staring contest, he gained a forgettable face that imprinted itself more sharply on my memory the further along it went.

He stood too casually. His hands deep in his pockets, hip and head cocked slightly to the side. His lips in a perpetual smirk.

Did I know him? Yearbook combing and Facebook searches yielded nothing. I tried walking towards him to get answers. Those were the only times he turned his back towards me. I continued to move in his direction but the gap between us never closed. But he hadn’t moved. Not a step, not even a lean. I called out to him but he didn’t acknowledge me.

I pointed him out to a few friends.

No one else saw him.

After a while and a few concerned whispers, I dropped it. Even as his presence began haunting my darkest dreams where I would wake suddenly and there he’d be looming, hands tightening around my throat. 

Even as I grew to be afraid to be alone with him in a sea of people.

Even when my parents asked me why I was in a hurry to move away just to escape him.

But I should’ve known that even state lines couldn’t sever the distance between us.

His outline appeared in my rearview as I sped down the interstate. He was at the pit stops, the dive bars, the bones of Midwestern barns and the wide-open cornfields.

And he was getting closer.

When I moved into an apartment in the city’s beating heart, he was there. My first night there, I looked down at the streets below and he was there smirking.

I did the only thing I thought would bring me peace. I closed the curtains and refused to look at me. Refused to think about him and move on with my life.

The days rolled on uneventfully for a while. I woke up and he’s outside my window but I somehow forgot. He became another face to ignore and I was able to go on.

Until one night in front of my living room television where there was a knock on the door.

Continue reading “The More You Ignore Me…”

Short Fiction: Billie Jean Can Swing

Billie Jean let her feet tap, tap, tap to the rhythm of that rocking swing. With a holler, she hitched up her skirt and let the music have its way with her. She tapped, turned, and glided so smooth across the dance floor. She was the envy of all those who swung to that same beat.

I swallowed another pint of liquid courage and let the burn going down put some fire in my limbs.

I told the boys I’d join her on that dance floor today. I imagined I would come up on her so smooth and carry her off like the mac I thought I was. But Billie Jean ain’t no fool and she ain’t impressed so easy.

Several jive turkeys tried to strut up to her just to be shoved away by the power of those hips. Had the whole floor cackling and jonesing on those fools for love.

And here I am the biggest fool of all.

The sight of her ease on the dance floor cooled my resolve until I remembered that my mama didn’t raise no quitter. I take another swallow of fire but it goes down hard and makes me choke.

Old Sam behind the bar shook his head. “Take it easy, young blood.”

I waved pops off and turned around. Billie Jean was still cutting rags and rocking with the beat.

Now or never. Now or never.

I took my chance.

I hopped up to her with a twirl and a jig. In one deft motion in the knees, bowed and offered my hand.

She rolled her eyes and turned away.

But Mama ain’t raise no quitter.

I caught her elbow and rocked into her. Her eyebrow quirked as she called my bluff and leaned into me. I kept my feet in time with hers. Grabbed her hand and made her twirl with the swell of music.

The song ended and we were breathing hard, sweating, and staring at each other.

She smiled. “Not bad, country boy.”

I Catch Monsters

I catch monsters.

They gesture in the confines of 8 mm film, screaming at the camera lens. Their mouths gaped, finger-pointing, accusing, in your face.

Their faces can’t find their truths rendered mute by the words they weave. In my prison, they don’t speak but their lips mimic the action.

Black & white, sepia & color.

They exist in all forms. There’s one in every age.

The thing that shakes me to my core when I take in their faces.

They look like mine. Not exactly like mine but they have similar shapes. 

Eyes. Mouth. Nose. Teeth. 

The same but different. 

I can see the monster in me as I do in them. 

Their monstrosity resonating with the stranger in us all. 

I swallow to bile in me, raise my weapon, & let the monsters roll in.


The Last Bit of Beauty

I wiped my nose and it came away crimson. I swallowed and let the rich metal slide down my throat. 

I’ve never felt more alive. 

Dani pours the gas. Splashing it on the wall in glistening arches that dry gold on the brown walls. In the halo of silver lights that breaks through the dusty windows, this bloody home seem holy. The last bit of beauty in a world such as this. 

She looks up at me, brows in a crinkle. “Doing alright?”

I took the other jerry can and revel in the weight. “I will be.”

I head into the next room and soak the carpets and tile. The intoxicating smell of ethanol replaces the blood in my nose. The dirty brown couch and coffee table covered in needles and cigarette butts and ashtrays. Of afternoons wasted in coked hazes and dreams of nothing punctuated by euphoria.  I let that dirty brown sop up most of it and throw it away when drained. , the weight of it sagging just enough. 

I walk into the kitchen. This kitchen. Those hollow eternities and crystals forming in the bottom of destroyed pans. I step towards Holland, laying with his brains blown out. He waxed poetic with a knife and used chemistry to make love with the synapses. Now his eyes wide and dilated and hungry to consume what was left of life before the lights went out. 

I press my boot on his cheeks and press down. The fat on his jowl gives easy. The bone feels like it would too with a little more pressure.


My lungs feel sore again with the memory of struggling for breath. Hands around my throat. His teeth crimson with my boot kick.

I spit on him as Dani runs in.

“Let’s light it up!”

We rush out the door. Kiss it goodbye with a match. The flame flew into a rage instantly. 

I imagine seeing Holland’s face crumbling in and I laugh. 


Written 3/22/2020

I have no idea where this came from. The first line came to me during the sign and I knew there would be laughing and fire. Just casual Sunday thoughts leading to a Monday morn.

Smoke on a Gray Morning

I let the smoke fill my lungs in the first whiffs of morning air. I don’t see the sun. Just see the lightening of the sky when the black shifts to a duller gray.

I hang over the balcony edge. The city stretches beneath in a series of slanting rooftops rotted and peeling towards the horizon. Chimneys belch white smoke and the black exhalations of industry. Already I catch the stink of rotten hops and chemical bleach scenting the air. My bones ache in ways all too familiar. 

I finally exhale letting my breath feed the clouds. The burden of my lungs twists and curls into the air until disappearing into the same nothing.

There are stirrings below. In windows and different ledges. Women blinking into the mourn as men strap their boots onto wearied feet. Their bodies already tired. Tired sighs of a tired living.

Others share my perch on their lonely perches. They enjoy their moments of solitude before the noise of life has its way. Smoke curling and mixing with the breath of their fellow man. 

Coffee sings sweet on the nose. Light switches and percolation and the sounds of hot water and steam sticking to windows. The chorus of alarms and mattress springs groaning. Children giggles and wails playing on the ear like humming engines and brake stalls. 

The world wakes. The sun winks through the clouds and the work whistle blasts in the distance as life begins.

I sat on my apartment’s balcony for the first time in a long time. The weather felt nice though the day’s really overcast in my corner of the world. In the moments of solitude, I came up with this little piece.

I’ll try to write more little pieces like this. I need a bit of a break from my longer projects and I got the time now.

Thanks for reading!