Friday, June 27, 2014

The Two Faces Of Eve

"The answer to deep anxiety is the deep adoration of God."

Reading those words gave her great comfort. (Giving comfort is a highly profitable business!) And indeed, she had a deep, deep anxiety. Sleep had increasingly evaded her for years. Every moment pierced further into her soul, driving the agony to unbearable lengths. If she couldn't purchase the stairway to heaven she'd be trapped in the depths of hell forever.

It had started years ago yesterday, the dream in the desert. On the brink of death had been the last time she felt alive. Like a classic foreign film of romance and adventure she'd been stranded with Him. He reached her animal passions and released them under the desert stars. So freeing - and yet so forbidden: she was denying her marriage.

It was her One And Only Chance at an honest life. He would lead her out of the forest of deception, if only she'd take that one final step of facing herself. Maybe she wouldn't like what she'd see but maybe she would. Never before had she been so tempted to find out. Hope was no longer just a word. Life had become real again.

Unleashed, she surrendered to her true desires, reaching orgasms she feared only existed in cheap romance novels. She wanted more, this taste of life. To know its taste is never to go back, shattering lies of what she'd once called satisfaction. But all the while a nagging voice chided her, begging her to stop. Her mother and sister would be furious at her betrayal of the unsatisfied lives they betrothed themselves to. Like Moses returning from the Burning Bush she knew her new knowledge would be written all over her face.

Suddenly, in the middle of the night, the dream came crashing down. You're dreaming! This isn't real! It will vanish like the wind when we return to the real world. Worse, he will tell them everything. Just imagine the looks on their faces! You'll be divorced and hung out to dry as a marked woman, a lying hussy who got suckered by a schoolgirl fantasy. You've ruined your life. From now on life will transpire only as a long living death...

Then her instinct for survival kicked in. Why did she have to die? He had no one. His life too had begun in the desert. He'd have nothing to lose with their return - just the opposite. Let him die. Problem solved. Take the water and run. If not, may as well stay here and die. Choose!

Choose she did. It bothered her the urge to giggle as she made her getaway in the covering darkness. No more Miss Goody Two Shoes. She'd stepped over the line like she'd assumed the Bad Crowd had lived, the kind who don't care what others think, who do what they want. This too was exhilarating - in a sick, sinking sort of way. She vowed never to cross that line again. People who do what they want truly are immoral, just as she'd cowardly suspected.

Of course, had she really done what she wanted she'd have stayed with Him and continued on the path to self-discovery.

"God is calling you not to indulgence but endurance."

Had he died? Did he suffer under the searing sun? Did he feel betrayed? Did he feel he saw the "real" her in the end? Sorry, but if I must betray someone it won't be my family. Who would choose differently?

Of course, it was herself she betrayed - and therefore betrayed everyone who cared for her.

But no one knows me. So how can any anyone really love me? They just love the act. I've always been an act. Keep the act up and life will continue as before. Her adventure in the desert will fade and - she suspected - no one really wanted to know the true story anyway. If she had had feelings for that man, best to let them stay buried.

Of course, it was her hope she'd buried and her fear she watered. Now, fifteen years later, fear ruled her life. Even when she knew she was being absurd she refused to break the chain. When someone noticed her jumpy nature she blamed it on Middle Eastern terrorists.

When she first got back she tried her lustful lessons out on her husband. He withdrew in proper disgust. How could she possibly have thought that would have excited him?? Their marriage was based on the Bible and life was what you made of it. His rebuke crushed her, isolating her with her unspoken guilt. So guilt ridden was she she was blinded to the fact of his own fear of the arousing excitement she'd caused inside him.

She tried various outlets over the years; compulsive flirting, illicit online chat, even creating a fake profile in a sex club allowing her to indulge in forbidden fantasies - in her mind anyway. Fear had brought its even more terrifying friend: frustration. She was stuck between the thorns of the world and the doom of her deceit.

Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

- Psalm 51 9-10

Yes, yes, keep up the lie till you die. God wants you to. He doesn't want you to die, and the only way to live is to lie. At times, the desert never existed. She could laugh and pray with the best of them. But her prayers were different than the others. Her prayers were that He did not show up. When the preacher spoke of "the enemy that destroys" she knew he was speaking of the truth.

But the erosion continued daily. Only in the most hidden of recesses did she remember the desert, feeling her way back to ecstasy, still confused if the act was right or wrong. The only thing she knew for sure was there was no way out. She'd made her bargain for love: to keep it, just say nothing. Besides, her children needed her and why should they have to pay for her sins?

See? She had her morality after all.

But she knew no moment of comfort. Every thoughtless laugh was interrupted by the thought He might ring the doorbell at any moment, demanding explanations she could not give, horrifying her family. In her bi-polar existence, one minute she believed she was safe forever, the next doom was imminent. No pill could ever give her her soul back.

Only the siren song of suicide called out to her ever louder. Why do you live? Why do you bother? The lying life can never be useful - and you can only live a lie. Face the facts and leave! Hope's illusion can lead only to more torture and more frustration and more misery.

In the end, listening to her fears had made her worst fears come true. And God could not do what she would not do for herself. The question of "Why sustain the pain?" rang too loudly in her ears. She made it stop the only way she knew how.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wives And Lives (Found And Lost)

You can't say I didn't ask for it. I'd been wanting to take stock of my life. Things have been rough lately. Very, very rough, pushing me to the edge. The random crying has started again. The screws from the work-mare have turned even tighter, forcing me back to the brink of the shelter. It's a roller coaster ride between the fire and the frying pan. I dread sleep most of all, my mind racing without harness.

I guess this is what happens when you take the road most traveled.

I shouldn't be expecting things to get better, I tell myself. How could that ever be when heading down the wrong path? That's hoping against hope.

So the question comes up: Just how far off am I? How badly did I screw up? Can I even bear to face it?

When I first came here twenty years ago I got a temp job while I searched for something more permanent. Ronald was a co-worker of mine. He taught high school English and was naturally quite literate. (Since this was summer he did temp work to make ends meet). We got on right away being of the same temperament. Each was a breath of fresh air to the other in the world of day labor.

At that point we both could ask: what dreams may come? I was attached to nothing - but wished to be. Ronald was attached to something - but wished not to be. That's where our common ground lied. I didn't feel threatened by him having a career because he was not happy with it. And he did not envy my freedom because I had yet to find my true direction.

So in a way, we dreamed together, talking of life, wondering of the possibilities. It was a unique time - a time before I settled into the nothingness that was to come. I ended up moving into these very bland apartments, life seeping out of me like a slow puncture. I didn't much want Ronald to see me now. My talk of dreams was nothing but hot air.

But last week making a delivery for a high dollar designer door I found myself back at that same apartment building and memories of that time came flooding back. For a reason I can't explain I was excited. "There's something here," a voice said inside. I knew I should be going but I was compelled to explore the place.

Climbing up the old stairway I was shocked as I entered the inner hallway. This part of Dallas has gotten so old it's become chic to remodel the inside while retaining the outside charm of 1950's art deco. When I lived there I just thought it looked like shit. As if a rope were pulling me in I peered in the windows of these amazing condos (surely they couldn't be apartments as each one was so unique).

I stopped still at one, with its artsy Mondrian like interior. I felt I'd stepped into a dream. Part of me fought back, to get away and not torture myself with how the other half lives, but the other part of me won out. I wanted to see. And truly I discovered a world that expressed me. Did this mean someone with a soul such as mine had survived?

"Why, hello there!"

The man's voice was friendly and inviting, coming down the hallway. I'd expected to get chastised for my rude peeking but was willing to take the abuse if caught. But a welcoming voice? I turned my eyes in confusion.

"I wasn't sure it was you at first. Can't miss that hair! Do you even remember me?"

Ronald! Son of a bitch! Of all people. He was genuinely glad to see me and we shook hands in a mild shock. He invited me inside and I immediately started gushing looking wide-eyed at this Hobbit-like dream world of a modern Bag End.

Ronald explained a lot of its decor was to due to his wife Elizabeth. She was a freelance writer - he gestured to copies of Texas Monthly on the table - and he was regional director for a large retailer. They both shared many of the same passions, pursuing their artistic indulgences freely and fully. The whole vibe of the place had a healing air to it.

The gorgeous soft white couch begged me to curl up and sleep on it in sweet succor. Everything about the place said "sanctuary" to me. Elizabeth was not there but I knew if I were to meet her I'd like her and get along with her naturally. That's a rare feeling for me. Ronald then explained what I already knew: it was the meeting of Elizabeth that changed his life. He didn't know where he'd be without her.

Well, I fucking know. Boy, do I know. He'd be sitting at home in the dark with a revolver in his mouth unable to think of a reason not pull the trigger. He'd be trapped, buried alive in one dead end job after another living as cannon fodder in the front lines of an economic war already lost. (No one really falls for all those phony "solutions" out there, do they?)

I see signs of life scattered about. A renewal notice for season tickets to the Winspear Opera House. Art books. "The Vision of Van Gogh". I remembered he was both of ours favorite artist. Correspondence on a submission from Elizabeth being accepted. Jesus, what a life! I didn't know this was even allowed.

For me, this was all too much. How could I ever compensate? My only thought was to immediately make amends by using that fatal bullet waiting for me. I wasn't just far off. I was light years away, thrown to the lost corner of the universe. A life that had arced upward while my life arced downward. Everything inside of me collapsed. Please let me die.

I too had met people - very, very special people I'd stack up against anyone in the world, famous or not. But I had not accepted the love. Each passing put me deeper in the hole, my debts and doubts piling higher. To finally see what I am missing out on - the shock and horror of it - did at last clear my mind. It was as I suspected - and wholly devastating.

Yes, Elsa is mind-blowingly hot - 
but can she make me laugh?

I demurred on my own life's "progress". Ronald was sensitive enough not to press, probably thinking, "There but the grace of God goes I." No, God's grace visited me too, Ron. But I had not the wisdom nor the courage nor the heart. On the way out the door I saw the kicker: an invite to a charity event benefiting - what else - the Dallas homeless shelter. Dear God, I'd been partly living off his money for who knows how many years.

I parted secretly vowing never to come near this place again upon pain of death. Ronald mercifully did not ask for any contact info. Not that I didn't want to be there and hold discussions deep into the evening with both him and his wife, but...I just couldn't. I felt like a dirty interloper walking around dripping failure on their carpet with my unfed dick hanging out. The thought of them making allowances for me - people I respected - well, I'll just have to stay in my hole and hide.

What's got me most curious, though, is I've felt a sense of inexplicable peace since that visit.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Prophet Is Dead! God Damn The Prophet! (Photo Essay)

Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt;
and after them seven years of famine will come,
and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt,
and the famine will ravage the land.

Prophet 1

Inside the grain silos was life. Nowhere else could it be found, neither from above or below. Beyond that is only suffering. Men lose their minds and women wail with children's deaths. There can be no escape.

The granaries of Egypt were legendary; massive and large, touching the sky. Egypt, in all her glory, claimed life. Who in the world could compare to her belief? Who else scaled the walls of truth? Let her dedication stand as a monument to the world.

Prophet 28

Prophet 33

Prophet 16

In the heady years of plenty, tomorrow became a myth never to come. Why shouldn't it last forever? Who is the Prophet to tell us what to do? Life is unforeseeable, the future unknown. No man can claim it. If we can make riches today, why not tomorrow?

Plays written to mock the Prophet received hearty applause. "Laugh at this 'man of doom'! He fears the sun not to rise in the morning and the sky to fall at night!" As each day of plenty passed, slander and scorn for the prophet increased in proportion to their greed. "Greed is good!"

Prophet 37

Prophet 43

Prophet 41

After seven years to the day, the sky turned color, too late for repentance. On judgment day no recourse resides, the die is cast. What worked yesterday no longer works today. The crops do not rise, the rain does not drop. Solutions are sought high and low but the search is in vain. Yes, tomorrow comes, after all.

But who could the faultless people blame for their predicament? "It's the curse of the Prophet! He did this to us! He attacked us for our ways - ways he could not follow. Why should we have to pay for his sin?" And thus they cleansed themselves of their sins - if not their hunger.

Prophet 21

Prophet 32

Prophet 44

Prophet 30

The last grains gone, the great silos stood in silent mockery of the myopic masses. Who knew decisions had consequences? Why had no one helped them? The Prophet had refused to hear them in the time of plenty. He hogged the truth for himself.

"He must pay for blinding us and stuffing our ears so we could not hear. Must we be perfect? Is mercy nowhere to be found?" But they had determined their own mercy, as merciless as their raids upon the silos taking every last grain when they had not the need.

Prophet 7

Prophet 20

Prophet 35

What is truth? Does it even exist? Can life and death be the same? When children asked what happened, the adults replied, "Mystery." Who can explain such events? With eyes firmly shut, men in high councils debated what color the sky. The exchanges were heated. "Lives are at stake! We cannot live in famine forever!"

Unable to face the truth, their minds melted into mayhem. Many clever arguments were made but faded in the passing of time; no honest argument considered clever. Mystery! Where could they place their trust? Some prayed in the silos for grain to magically appear. And why not with the answer to their woes unknowable? One thing they did know with vicious clarity: hang the Prophet high.

Prophet 19

Prophet 14

Prophet 36

Prophet 6

At the end of the years of famine, it came to be the Prophet was hailed by the new generation. "Wisdom" and "Insight" were holy words to be revered. Competition spread across the land in the name of finding those most honest and true. What fools the people of yore!

But the grain - well, the grain knew the truth already. When a truly honest man suggested some be put away for the pitfalls of tomorrow, he was reviled without mercy. "Why should we do that? We are a smarter people now. To say we are not is to dishonor the Prophet. I kill you in the name of the good Prophet!"

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Good To Be God

Originally, there were nine rings of power for mortal men. And still lost was one of these rings of invulnerability.


Galley slaves had it made. They knew
they'd be dead in a couple of years

Every day it gets worse. The walls close in, the insanity rises, the rage roars louder. I keep asking but no one knows what time it is. Maybe they think it helps if they don't know, that maybe time won't run out that way. It does not help.

TV blares "The Nero Hour" in the corner of my ear as I rise up from bed. Fiddlers from across the country compete to see who can make the most beautiful sounds at the sites of tragic disasters. "With lovely music like this we know we need not be concerned." Latest is an airliner crash where the manufacturer cut corners and cost the lives of hundreds of people. I hear many angry words and passionate arguments - when someone believes the incorrect fiddler is picked as best.

Stepping outside my trailer door I see white paper notices flapping in the breeze posted on every home in the park. Rent is springing up $300 a month, another turn of the vice clamp of medieval death and torture. The blackmailer demands we either cough up the ten grand it takes to move or be bled dry drip by drip. My blood is boiling. Everyone's complaining.

"Can't be helped," sneers the office lady. "Somebody Somewhere made the decision."

At work in the call center sweatshop, the nightmare continues. All the monitors we read from have been taken away, replaced by these tiny 6x4 inlaid screens in the desktop. The letters are microscopic, barely legible to the naked eye. One girl is actually delighted we're "getting the latest cool thing!" I picture myself slowly going blind. Jesus-FUCKING-Christ!

Cocksuckers told me I need to "up my game."
Who are these people??

I hear the same explanation as before. "Somebody Somewhere thought this was a good idea." That Somebody Somewhere sure is a busy fucker. A co-worker theorizes Somebody got a kickback for installing these godawful screens. But like with the raise in rent, the outrage is short-lived. Why care about the workers when they don't care about themselves Somebody reasons.

How far does it have to go? The cloud of the holocaust slips back in like Pharaoh's angel of death. Yet many who love Moses in name hate him in deed.

On the way home from work I stop to fill up with gas. A label states a dollar a gallon tax has been added*. Somebody Somewhere lost billions upon billions - some say trillions - gambling and they need our money now to keep on gambling. The vampire bites again and still we hear only crickets on the moon.

Walking downtown I'm assaulted by criminal cops for "being too poor to be trusted." The criminals tell me they know what they're doing is wrong but there's nothing that can be done. A thought tracking chip is placed in my suspect head. "Self-respect," they inform me, "is the true enemy of the state. It would ruin everything!" The brutalizers tell me not to worry because the President is liberal. I'm thinking they need a dictionary.

These are the worst of times, where only the worst among us have conviction. Zombie slaves are herded over the cliff, the shepherds laughing. "What can we do?" they plead as they fall to their doom. Many saviors are proclaimed but none ever save. All around me I hear the same song of ritual: "The end will not come because the end has not come before."

It is written God said that every death diminishes Him/Her. If so, then dear God, prepare to be diminished.

But as irony would have it, while lying in the ghetto gutter after the gang beating from the boys in blue I spied the last lost Ring of Power. I panicked, fearing that if I moved towards it it would roll down the nearby drain only to be lost again. And so I did nothing, feeling the peace of surrender. Perhaps it is not God's will I survive. At least that's a judgement I can trust and understand.

Then a car rushes by, its tires spitting out a piece of debris that knocks the ring to my hand. Putting the ring on my finger I feel the world swirling around me in my center of calm. First thing I do is rip the tracking chip from my head. "You motherfucker! Put that back in!" Seems the cops who were posing as somewhat sympathetic during the commission of their crime were absolutely livid in my refusal to oblige. Were they as livid when they received the orders to become criminals??

They made a mad rush towards me with their nightsticks out ready to beat me to a pulp for defying National Insecurity. However, as they tried to hit me their sticks vibrated so harshly they had to drop them. That's when Somebody Somewhere yelled out, "He's got a gun!" and suddenly dozens of bullets were bouncing off me, driving my would-be killers into a frenzy of rage and tears.

"We have to know what he's thinking!" "He might be hating us right now!" "Control! We must have control!" "You can't go around thinking just anything!" "Kill him! No one can live with this!" "How will we know if he loves and approves of us? How? How??"

Good Lord. Scratch a cop and find a child. "Look, you stupid cunts, I'm not your fucking wife. You want approval, get a dog. Or, better yet, grow the fuck up and quit taking orders. Maybe then you won't be so hapless and annoyingly worried."

Instead, they lay helplessly on the ground rolling in fear and trembling, terrified of my next unrestrained thought. I yell out "Boo!" as I leave and they start simpering anew. Wow, what a big bunch of babies. Got me to thinking what mischief I could cause next. So I made a couple of purchases and began walking along the Katy Trail, home of the young six-figure professionals who feel the world owes them a living. It's fun pissing off the people you hate!

Despite a couple of appreciative whistles from a few (actually hot) babes, for the most part I heard nothing but violence as I walked along in my heels and French maid uniform. Finally, people are getting outraged! "You sick motherfucker! Somebody Somewhere should put you out of your misery, you fucking faggot!" Hey, I know that anger! It's the same rage I felt after having my rent raised, getting raped at work and maimed by the cops. However, I think their anger is a tad misplaced.

Two guys decided to play hero and try to tackle me, only to fall to the ground as if they'd run into a pillar of concrete. But these were men of conviction! They tried to punch me still but that only broke their knuckles as they wailed in agony. Damn, national insecurity is everywhere. "What do you care what I wear, ya dumb fucks?" "Our wives will leave us if we can't beat you up! Oh, this is awful. This is worse than anything."

I have to admit, I was really getting worried about my gender. Still - heh, heh - time to up the ante. I decided to hold a press conference - still in uniform! - announcing my conversion to Islam. "Harry Mohammed Ali! Sting like a butterfly and float like a bee!" I can't tell you the number of groups that pissed off! The Muslims highly disapproved of my frilly attire, the defense department declared me a danger to the country (little ol' me!) and every redneck in the country was spitting beer chomping to get at me.

Gee, guys, might want to reconsider your life perspective if you're that easily sent into a homicidal rage. First thing I did, though, was take a flight to the Middle East where no less than 173 suicide bombers and assassins attempted to take me out for Allah. I told them the reason they were failing was because Allah was on my side and because the men there were failing to obey their women. It was like placing hot coals on their foreheads.

Back in the U.S.S.A the reception wasn't much better. The resident President made a hilarious speech saying how "just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail." He did this, of course, after adding me to to his personal Kill List. "We're going to drone his Muslim Maid ass right into the ground." When asked about this contradiction, the politician laughed and replied, "People don't want their President to speak like a dickhead in public but they do want him to act like one in private."

Even though I was on U.S. soil the drones they were a-coming! I was unharmed, of course, but those around me weren't so lucky. But they were simply declared Muslim Maid sympathizers and the good public was fine with that. I started feeling a tad guilty about the losses so I moved to a place I knew they'd never bomb: Wall Street. Greed trumps even National Insecurity.

After a while, a funny thing happened. People are weak and silly when you get right down to it. Once they saw I was indestructible more and more men started wearing heels and maid uniforms in public. Churches were turned into temples, proudly declaring our long heritage of "Judeo-Muslim" values. Middle Eastern women publicly spanked their men - and the bonered men thanked them for it. People really do rally to the strongest dog!

In time, the Muslim Maid party took over both houses of Congress and the Presidency. The dumb fucks. That's when I decided to switch back to my normal clothes and my non-religious life, invalidating their lives all over again. And the wind cried, "Harry".

*At least a dollar per gallon is due to allowed market manipulation of commodity trades by speculators.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Time Travel Is Crime Travel

CNN is running its insipid series "The Sixties" in an attempt to somehow prove the alleged advanced morality of these times. It's a sly trick but rewriting history to suit the present has a never ending appeal. Were they to actually be honest, the truth would be too painful to bear and we'd all be sitting around in sackcloth and ashes in contemplation - a prescription I've been calling for for some time.

But then I found myself dreaming of that wondrous time and cursing God for never doing anything for me - which is not true. Sometimes I get what I ask for only to find out it sucks and sometimes - on rare occasion - a dream comes true which I duly fuck up (oh, Em...). So I found myself yearning for the adolescence of this generation and the explosion of color and life that was the Sixties as opposed to the dreary gray drab times we live in now. Surely, those swinging times had to be better.

Suddenly, my prayer was answered. I found myself sitting in the living room of Sheriff Andy Taylor with Aunt Bee. The house which had seemed so quaint and serene on TV was in fact dark and shadowed around the edges in a way that made me want to scream. The repression in the air was visible to my eyes, leaving me with a feeling of being stuck in molasses, unable to move as freely as I needed.

"Better not be fucking meatloaf again."

"Yes, sir, that Opie is a fine boy. That boy listens to his father. He's going to grow up just fine. Ain't that right, Harry?"

I was brought right into the conversation as if I'd lived there all my life. But something was wrong - very seriously wrong.

"Opie fine? Are you nuts? He's whacking off three times a day thinking about his classmates. This is the Sixties and the world is springing to life. He can't help but feel it."

"He better not let me catch him feeling it! He's going to grow up to be a repressed, angry Republican like the Good Book says he should. If not, I'll tan his hide until he's too sore to sit down."

"You mean like you do your prisoners?"

"Heck, yeah. Folks is always thinking they're gonna get get away with somethin'. Teaching 'em a lesson and setting them on the right path is the job of the enlightened."

"Otis certainly took offense at your rehabilitation methods."

"Otis is a drunk. How can he be right about anything? Sure he hates it when he wakes up and finds out I done pissed all over him but that's his own darn fault!"

"Hey, Pop, check out the legs on that!"

Aunt Bee's prim and proper feathers were ruffled. "I don't think I want to hear any more of such talk. Can we get onto a more genteel subject, please?"

But her facade melted in my eyes too. "Aunt Bee, what about all those lesbian thoughts you have? You're dying for some forbidden fruit!"

"You've no proof of that!"

"Oh, yeah? Church is the worst time. Your eyes wander around the hemlines as much as Opie's."

Andy was shocked. "Aunt Bee! Why I never - "

"Listen to you two hypocrites. I'm nothing but a slave in this house. I make up for all my impure thoughts by cleaning and cooking and serving like a dog - but it's never enough!"

Then the news popped on the TV, announcing the President's visit to Dallas that day.

"No! No! What day is this??"

"November 22nd. What's got into you?"

"This can't be, it can't be! It's too much! I can't take this twice. You can't go back, you can never go back!"

"You want to put your dick where??"

"What in tarnation are you carrying on about?"

"The President! He'll be taken out today. This is more terrible to experience than I ever imagined. Waves of blackness are blinding my mind."

"That has to be the most foolish thing I've ever heard in my life," scolded Andy. "Ain't nobody in this country going to do a thing like that. We're just not capable of it. This is a fine Christian country and I won't stand to hear talk like that."

"Hear! Hear!" agreed Aunt Bee.

"Everything here is a lie. Gomer's a complete nut, walking around naked at night just so he can flash his schlong."

"That's a lie! He just sleepwalks naked sometimes."

"Only a matter of time before he turns homicidal in frustration and joins the military. He ends up massacring a Vietnamese village spurring a bitter controversy on whether he's a hero or a heel."

"Gomer just needs his sleeping pills and he's fine. Thank God for science!"

"And Floyd the barber has been paying a woman in Raleigh to spank him with his leather strap while he barks like a dog. Take a look at that thing the next time you're in there."

"Now that's just silly. Floyd just likes to bark when telling his dog jokes."

"And Barney sits there at night loading his one humiliating bullet in his gun trying to get up the courage to blow his brains out and end his useless life."

"Oh, Barney's fine too. He just likes to joke around about ending it all. Iffen he gets to talkin' about it too much I just slap him real hard and he stops, problem solved!"

The madness was overwhelming me, drowning me - and I began to understand. "You can't escape the time continuum! I'm going mad! I must get back in the flow."

"Continue M? What the heck you talking about?"

"The flow of time. You don't realize you're in it until you're pulled out. I was a fool to try, no matter how shitty things are. The longer I stay here the more I disintegrate. I feel a thousand worms crawling up inside me."

"You got the devil in you! We need to get you some shock therapy."

"Just one thing I did want to say while I still have time: buy Xerox! You'll make a fortune. To hell with not messing with history."

"Buy Z rocks? I'm thinking I just might need to shoot you down like a mad dog."

But then I was sucked back to the present of my tattered couch and moonlit apartment in cheap east Dallas. Slowly, the level of insanity began to recede. I hate these times, I truly do. But I understand more now. I'm right where I belong. Damn.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Enter The (Raped) Saint

I've been saying for years to the deaf, dumb and blind that America's favorite pastime is not baseball, but rape. We rape everything: the environment, definitely children, even our own future. We've created a system that derives much "profit" by it but really, people who are going to rape are going to do it regardless. The most dangerous rapists are the ones who say, "If I'm not touching you then it's not rape!" And they say this smiling even as you drink the ground water they've so profitably poisoned.

It happens in broad daylight yet the so-called outrage is highly selective. To use the example above, it's easy to find articles on people and animals sickened and killed by willful industrial poisoning but the outcry is very faint. Some lives count, some don't, apparently. Once again I ask, can someone please send me that list so I'll know! I know I'm being impractical and divisive according to the likes of our President so I need to be taught on the compromising ways of "pragmatic" rape.

Here in our Texas prisons, we're quite fond of rape. Ask any guard, it's not about rehabilitation, it's about punishment. But the man who's eager to punish is the man who's eager to hide hide his sin - which only makes him all the more motivated. Everything is the opposite of what it seems. The greater a man cries out to be tough on crime the greater the criminal he is. People is funny!

So what happens when the nightmare happens to you in prison? You find out just how lost this world is. To whom can you turn? As far as the word is concerned, your name has been removed from the book of life. Solid citizens feel free to look away. You don't make the cut for national outrage. "What's the big deal?" shrugs our moral establishment. "It's not like showing a female nipple at our great and holy Super Bowl."

Two false wars, total economic collapse and a lack of reforms.
None of that has caused the outrage of this act!

That's where I was left. And yet even knowing the complete futility I faced, in the heat of the moment of the aftershocks you have to tell somebody - even if it's the foul-faced guard of Gerald O'Malley. That dick. He told me to stop whining and to suck it up. When I pressed further he got angry and threatened me. I told him he would regret that.

"Don't threaten me, you punk!"

"I'm not threatening you. It's you who does it to yourself."

"Whatever. Get back to your cell or the next time I hear about this I'm putting you in isolation."

Isolation, of course, is another rape. It's how we fix the world! Three months later after my release, I decided to put that theory to the test. Greetings, Mr. O'Malley, your rape is now ready. All aboard! We're about to make the world a better place - according to the logic of the world.

Our man Gerald lived a nice lower middle class life with his wife and daughter. One morning he came out to find two flat tires on his car. His wife and daughter left with their pressing engagements of work and school respectively. As I saw him pop back into the house for something I greeted him on his return to the front door with a snub nosed Wembley and murder in my eye. Having induced so many looks of hatred before, Gerald boy knew mine to be serious.

"Officer O'Malley! How good to see you! Should I kill you now or do it later."

I didn't really want to kill him then. That would spoil the fun. But removing this wart from the face of the earth would cause not a whit of consternation on my part. I realize that some cannot discern between a madman who chops off a body part in spite and a doctor who amputates. The act is the same, but one destroys life and the other preserves it. I was in full blown doctor mode and if the patient chose not to reform his gangrene ways, then so be it.

"Get out of here before I call the police!"

That old tired bluff. But I let my eyes speak for me. I had come prepared to shoot and walk away. Germs like O'Malley knew when you are serious or not, reading you like a pawn shop owner who refuses to give a dime more. I acquiesced to his request, raising my gun in silent terror.

"Wait! Don't shoot!" It wouldn't be the last time he'd ask me to wait.

"Recognize these? Put them on behind your back."

I got the usual protests. The man was livid and outraged. Hey, you'd think someone was raping him! He hurled useless accusations at me, terrified of not knowing which of his sins had brought me there. I took a second set of cuffs and placed them on his ankles. A third set left him hogtied as I connected the previous two. Lastly, I connected a pair to a doorknob to the one between his hands and feet, effectively hamstringing all movement.

"You boys always were big fans of the hogtie."

"You coward!"

"Taught by the best!"

Outside the front door I retrieved the baseball bat I had stashed there. Gerald took that as a bad sign.

"You son-of-a-bitch! I'll kill you, you cocksucker!"

"My, my, how your cursing affects my Christian ears. If you continue I'll have to discipline you!"

"Fuck you!"

I replied with a vicious blow to his upper arm. Then I used his own previous words against him. "You asked for it, not me. It's all about the rules here, boy!"

"I'll kill you for this!"

"Eh, assuming you survive. But I do hope you understand we cannot allow chaos to the system." Gerald's brutality was often inflicted in the name of removing chaos.

"Go to hell."

"No, that's where I'm sending you. Now I'm asking you: why didn't you report my rape? I warn you ahead of time, you get no chances with me." The "no chances" phrase was another point of pride in Officer O'Malley's reign of regret.

"You punks deserve what you get!"

"Likewise, I'm sure." The bound beast howled with a bone splitting smack to the shin, followed by a sharp pointer to the hip. That's all these people can understand!

"I can keep this up all day long. Hours before anyone gets back. I've been staking your place out. Let's make this easy. I'll keep popping your sorry ass and you can can tell me when you're ready to answer." I raised the bat without an ounce of lament.

"Wait! Wait!" See, I told you he'd be saying that word a lot! "I don't know what kind of sick game your playing but I swear I'll kill you when I get out!"

"I'm playing the Gerald game, boss! Batter up!"

"Wait! I can't stop every rape. There's no point in reporting it! Just leave me alone!"

"Sounds to me like you just need to suck it up! Hey, any point in reporting this, I wonder. All well, looks like prisoner Gerald is going to be a hard case. I hate hard cases!" A smack to his upper leg confirmed the point.

"Jesus fucking Christ! I answered your question!"

"Cursing again! Gig for Bean! Zero tolerance!" The boy wailed with another tap, his will starting to break.

"What kind of monster are you?"

"And how many times have you caused that question to be asked! Let's try this again: why didn't you report my rape?"

"I don't care about you! I don't care what happens to you animals!"

"Now there's an honest answer! You do know, of course, that beating the truth out of you is the only way?" Gerald boy almost let loose with another curse but stopped - he was learning! Who says you can't rehabilitate? "So now tell me why it was wrong for you not to report it."

"I already said! There's no point! No one's going to do anything about it. It's just the way it is."

"An enlightening conversation! Here's your last chance to answer. Make it as painful as you want it to be!"

The struggle within between the physical, mental and emotional anguish was a sight to see. Like a fish fresh out of the water, Gerald twisted and turned, inflicting even more pain on himself. Instinctively he knew he was being cornered. Far more than the mere life in his body was at stake. He faced losing his religion, his right to claim a family.


I paid him no mind, rubbing the bat as if it had been bruised. Was a thing of beauty watching the words be forced out. I knew the psychology of the guarded: no matter how hopeless, the prisoner will turn to you for support. The feeling of abandonment refuses all reason.

"Because why?" I prompted as a grade school teacher coaxing a student.

Again, the mammoth struggle between life and death. Finally, life won.

"Because no one should be raped..."

"Bravo! Give that retard a prize!"

I knew Bound Boy was furious with himself for the feelings of gratefulness he was now feeling at having received my approval. But that was his only refuge in the storm and he had too much at stake not to want to live. Time for the trial.

"I now stand before you as your judge, jury and executioner. If you feel outraged by my gall then you've never been in the wrong end of a courtroom. Let us look at the evidence you presented. You admit I was raped. You admit no one should be raped. You admit you did nothing about it. Just how do you think you should be punished!"

With the truth forced out, defiance had vanished. Officer O'Malley knew he was guilty as charged. He'd lived in secret fear of this conviction his entire career.

"You can't blame me for everything! They're all like that! I can't fix the system. I've got to feed my family!"

"Nothing to be done, huh?"

"That's right! Not a damn thing will make any difference. It's a sorry state of affairs."

"Aren't you even sorry for what happened to me?"

"Of course, I am!" He looked up at me with a phony pleading look.

"OK, time for your sentencing. I hate to do this, but nothing can be done - not a damn thing! And, of course, I'm sorry!"

Poor Gerald knew fear like he'd never known before. Once he'd let back in the desire to live it had wiped out any resistance. He was ready to commit - and for a fleeting second he thought it was all over with scott free. To have that hope crushed broke him as a man. How many countless times had he relished bringing a prisoner to that point?

"There's only one possible sentence. I'm heading out to your garage and getting the broom stick which should make for a perfect fit right in your arse! Remember, don't struggle! Only makes it hurt more!"

Now Gerald knew true fear. Fear of a life being irrevocably changed, altered to a course against his will. I took great satisfaction in him screaming out his protests. He'd often bragged at having listened to such screams before and laughed. Sunshine was not happy with my return.

"You can't do this! I said I was sorry! What more do you want! I got a wife and daughter! Please help me!"

Instead, I took a pair of scissors to cut off his guard pants.

"You know something, Gerald boy, this is really hawt! Bet you're gonna like this. I know I will! But what I don't understand is how you'll ever be able to look your wife in the face again."

"Oh, God in heaven please help me."

"God doesn't help sinners like you, convict. I so cannot wait to see the look on your face after you're half a man. You're going to have to squeal too or it won't come out!"

"This is madness! It's all madness! What do you hope to accomplish? Oh God, please don't!"

"Are you saying you don't deserve to be punished? Think before you answer!"

Surprisingly, he did. "Yes, I deserve to be punished. But please don't do this. Just don't do this..."

By this time both his pants and boxers had been cut off and removed. Not a pleasant sight. I'd left the broom propped against the wall in direct sight of the convict, letting imagination have its effect.

"Well, damn," I drawled. "I'm such a contrarion that just to hear you say you deserve to be punished makes me not want to do it. And just between you and me, I bet that broom handle is grateful too."

"Oh, God, Jesus, thank you." Gerald collapsed. The fist adrenaline rush had worn off allowing the full effect of the bruises to be felt. The mental anguish of having to admit his sins was even worse. To be presented with promising daylight of a way out left him woozy and listless.

"Tell you what I am going to do, though. This is Thursday. Your daughter comes home in the afternoon early this day. Boy, will she have a sight to see! But don't forget, the only way out is the truth."

"No! No! Let me out of here!" Dazed life tried to force a return but the energy was gone.

"I'll be looking to read about this in the paper. Know what? Bet this becomes a viral thing! Here's a picture for posterity." My phone camera flashed its light. "I'll be sending this up to the big house. Warden Patton is going to love it!" Feeble words of protest were attempted. "Remember what you guys always say: anyone who's raped actually wants it? All I can say is, so glad to give you what you want!"


CODA: Time for my prophesy, for Gerald to become his own jailer or a freedom fighter. If he kept the truth inside it would rot him to the core. Over time, even the most outrageous of accusations would torture him in doubt as he'd begin to believe he really did wish for a raping. But if he came clean on my motives, admitted his horrendous behavior and stood tall for prisoner's rights and lives he'd be a free man.

Officer O'Malley never did return to the prison unit. The warden gave him leave but encouraged his quitting. The guard who'd been his best friend turned on him, call Gerald a "fucking fag". Many former prisoners took wild glee in the photo of the handcuffed hypocrite and their online taunting forced Gerald to realize what a trail of hatred he'd left in his cocooned existence. For every person he'd meet for rest of his life, Gerald's first and always thought would be, "Do they know? Do they know?"

Sunday, June 01, 2014

"Ida" Brought Tears To My Eyes (Film Review w/Bonus!)

It's rare I watch a Holocaust related film. I'm all Holocaust-ed out. I get it. It's unface-able, unthinkable and now unwatchable for me. One can only take so many peeks into the depths of the human soul and remain connected. I've seen films before where I've been so enraged I'd sanction a present day bombing run over Germany. They have to pay! But of course, there is no possible restitution for the nightmare that was the Third Reich. Vengeance is truly the Lord's.

But Ida tempted me with something that always fascinates me: the psychological aftereffects of trauma. I'd also witnessed this in the great film "The Pawnbroker", a man left emotionally sterile by his time in the camps. The Holocaust did not end in 1946. It did, in fact, last for an entire generation at least. The magnitude of the horror is not comprehensible by the human mind. Sometimes, in the telling of a single story, one can get a glimpse of it - and never be the same.

Just for the record, Poland has some of the most brutal WWII films ever made. The country was raped in the worst possible way. I have a huge affection for Poland and it's no coincidence that the first breaks from the Soviet grip came from there. "Ida" is the story of one girl - and of one nation. I'm crying as I type this.

Left at a preacher's door as a baby during the war, Ida knows only the convent where she has grown up and is eager to take the vows to become a nun. What she doesn't know is her story, her heritage or even her true name. Before she can take her vows she must visit her never before met Aunt and it's there Ida learns she's a Jew and the pair begin an odyssey of reconstructing her past.

First, a few notes about the filmmaking. Shot in what can only be described as a stunning black and white it gives the perfect feel for Communist Poland of 1962. A couple of the shots took my breath away. But the director went overboard in the retro department shooting it in 4:3 perspective fitted for a TV as opposed to the usual 16:9. It was certainly a bit distracting.

The pacing to some is slow but that is not true in reality. Every second of every shot is telling more of the story. I heard an elderly gent next to me complain he could not keep up with the film as it gives so little exposition. The director trusts the audience to connect the dots and also have a knowledge of the persecution in WWII. The mood, the cinematography, the economic storytelling come together beautifully. I sat there like a gourmand anticipating a scrumptious meal.

"What if we get there and you find there is no God?"

That, for me, was when the movie started. Ida had wanted to view her parents' graves but her aunt knew of their tragic, inhuman demise. A search for their graves would reveal a time of a godless world for which there was no answer. Ida trusts God is everywhere. The disconnect being, of course, there's only as much God in this world as we allow in.

The aunt is by far the most complex and fascinating character in the film. She's so fully developed it leaves the title character looking shallow in comparison. A Soviet official, she is able to throw her weight around as the pair take off on a road trip to find answers - answers to questions most people want to forget. Godless times reveal the worst of men's characters.

There are no graves to be found. The farming family who protected Ida's parents during the war also killed them, burying them deep in the woods. We also find the reason for the aunt's heavy drinking. Her son who stayed with the family had also been killed, left behind as his mother went to fight. The guilt had never left her, the holocaust a daily re-occurrence.

The parallel story is that of the aunt trying to draw her niece back to life in the real world, not to throw it away in the convent. How successful she is is left ambiguous by the ending. My interpretation is the director wanted wanted to show the girl could not be satisfied with an ordinary life and needed a meaning to it beyond everyday life. The totality of her ancestry demanded it. I wholly agree with that sentiment if not the execution of portraying that.

It was brave of the film to explore Ida's reaction after learning the truth, to see the continuing psychological effects of Nazi atrocities, but I felt the final scene as dishonest. The film could have been 20% better had it had an ending more along the lines of "The 400 Blows". The other part that bothered me was Ida's nonplussed reaction at the revelation of the depths to which the human soul will sink. Hard to imagine there had been detailed accountings of Jewish murders and betrayals in a Catholic convent. A bit lazy and dishonest by the filmmaker not to deal with that. Plus it would have given Ida more of the depth she needed.

"Ida", even with its flaws, is a film worth seeing. The more you know of Nazi persecutions the more you will appreciate it (a reference by a boy she meets being part Gypsy is a telling acknowledgement). It's the story of one family's unspeakable fate, leaving the viewer to multiply that in their imagination by millions.


Bonus film reviews!

"Cold In July" is a sick film. I got suckered in partly by its east Texas setting and partly because of my guilty weakness for Don Johnson. It's what I call an "excuse film". When you see a Chuck Norris film, you know it's an excuse for him to go around heel kicking bad guys left and right. "Cold In July" is an excuse film for hollow, crowd pleasing characters and, ultimately, to squeeze in perversion as sick as any Nazi atrocity. This is a film strictly for psychos and disconnects - and yes I know there's no shortage of both who think evil makes them somehow relevant.

"Haywire" is another excuse film. Yes, I know it's from 2011 but I just now got around to watching it because it had so many mixed reviews at the time. But it's kick ass! In fact, that's all it is. An awesome display by MMA fighter Gina Carano is delightful if you enjoy watching a female kick ass for once. Her moves are unique and she's way easy on the eyes. The plot is not worth understanding, just know it gives her an excuse to mix it up about every five minutes. See it if that's your cup of tea only.