Stories, This Blue Pen

Devil Music

Dana skipped out on going to the heavy-metal rock concert. Her mother’s church had her believing that the concert would exhort the crowd to rape and murder. Rock and roll music had always been the catalyst of evil; she’d been told this repeatedly over the years by her mother. Even the innocent-looking Beatles of the early 1960s were spawned from Satanic cults entwined in international drug trade. They—those dapper lads from Liverpool—were the beginning of a larger scheme, immersed in drugs and controlled by mob-connected promoters to eliminate Judeo-Christian civilization.

Dana’s grandmother Evelyn, or Evie to her friends, had been there in jazz clubs in England and West Germany, in the seediest part of the cities, amongst prostitution and drug use. Evie—barely a teenager—worked as a stripper behind red-lit windows where the sex was plenty… and easy to purchase. She knew The Beatles in Hamburg, knew their music, took their pills and drank their best alcohol. She followed them to London where prostitution was not as easy. She dated a musician, Axel Ziegler—a Teddy Boy and ex-Nazi Party member who gave her drugs and the clap and introduced her to witchcraft and Satanism.

Axel wasn’t rich but he managed several dance clubs and had money. He knew The Rolling Stones and liked their brash appearance. The Stones, as they were called, were “disgraceful, long-haired lummoxes” as opposed in comparison to the well-groomed Beatles. But both groups were part of a Satanic movement set to destroy the very fabric of a stable society and its divine institutions. By 1966, John Lennon had claimed The Beatles “more popular than Jesus now.” He said, “Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and will be proved right.” By December 1967, Evie wondered in her diary if it was true. The following Sunday she took her seven-year-old daughter Rebekka to the neighborhood Catholic church for Christmas mass. Her friends and Axel attended the Process Church, a satanic cult that Axel called “Acid In The Grass.” The name came from Stones member Bill Wyman’s song, “In Another Land” from the recently released album, Their Satanic Majesties Request. That night, Axel had a pipped out drug trip. It began with whiskey at the local pub before he turned to LSD with some friends. He went home high with his friends and they crashed in his parlor around one o’clock. Alone, he injected his body with heroin. He died around 4 a.m.

During the following year Evie and Rebekka lived with a dee-jay/musician named Aldrid Little. Aldrid had befriended Axel in Hamburg and became a partner member of dance clubs in Hamburg and London. When Aldrid was at Hamburg and Evie wasn’t stoned on pot, the calling of Christ weighed heavily upon her mind. In her diary, she wondered why Jesus would want an English whore—one who practiced witchcraft—in his flock? She wrote on her birthday that she was ashamed of her appearance naked in an issue of The Process Magazine for the church against God; having orgies with devoted disciple, Kenneth Anger, a follower of Aleister Crowley: the proclaimed founding father of modern Satanism; and participating in a Black Mass. But getting high and having sex, it seems, buried those self-hatreds. For a while.

By the early 1970s, the world outside of Evie’s bedroom was still a mess. The Beatles had disbanded, “Kenny” as she called Anger, was filming shorts about Satanic rituals, and one of his actors and homosexual lover, Bobby Beausoleil, was serving a life sentence in prison along with Charles Manson for a series of murders that included model/actress Sharon Tate. The police were cracking down on drug users and had arrested Aldrid twice in 1973 for possession of marijuana. In 1974, fifteen-year-old Rebekka ran away from home. Evie frantically searched for her only child for five months. During that time she vowed to become a devout Chritian if Rebekka was found alive. She was, though pregnant. She would lose the baby in a miscarriage. Evie kept her promise to God. She left Aldrid and England and moved Rebekka to Chicago. The following year, Rebekka also found salvation.

Years later, Rebekka married a minister and had a daughter of her own. “I don’t want you going to that rock concert,” Rebekka told Dana.

Dana did not argue. She went to her bedroom and listened to music on her iPod. The music was Christian Rock. The praises were to God, but the music came from Satan. She swallowed the ecstasy tablet kept hidden with the others behind her bed’s headboard. Then she masturbated to the poster of Disciple. When she came she took another tablet. Then another. Each time, she stared longingly into the eyes of Kevin Young. She would wait for him in Heaven.

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Poems, This Blue Pen

Seduction

Today at market,
shopkeepers showcased brand-new cars
and seduced nearsighted and potbellied old men
with promises to stop their loneliness.

The promises were offers of a future
spent speeding on swift wheels.

And so the old men were kissed by shiny chrome
rubbing their trousers,
and were spent dreaming of getting laid
upon the smooth bellies of animal skin inside.

Meanwhile,
shopkeepers picked their pockets
as each wallet and infatuation came undone.

And I stood alone bearing my breasts, ignored.

Stories, This Blue Pen

Benefactor

“He’s out there,” my mother said. She rushed from the front window and snatched her cell phone from the dining room table. Her hand trembled while she dialed. She almost dropped the phone twice before she put it to her left ear. “Hello? Police?” Her face contorted into a mask of disappointment. “Sorry,” she said, then to me: “I dialed the wrong number.” Her bottom lip trembled as she began to cry.

Something heavy pounded against the front door. Thump thump thump. This time she did drop the phone.

“Don’t answer it,” she said. She scooted behind my chair where I sat with my laptop. The screen showed my Facebook wall where five new updates waited for me to click on them.

“Is it locked?” I asked.

“Yes.”

The pounding started up again, louder.

“Is the back door locked?” I asked.

“Yes … NO.” She hurried away to lock it.

The downstairs windows in the house were closed and locked to keep out the January cold. When my mother returned, the pounding stopped. She grabbed her phone and called the police.

“Hurry,” she said into her phone.

We waited. Mother paced and peeked at the front door. I updated my Facebook wall and let my friends know what was happening. Several of my friends said that he should be behind bars for terrorizing me and my mom.

“He may be crazy,” I wrote. “He’s been pissed ever since the divorce.”

“Where are the sirens?” my mother asked. She went to the front door and peeked through one of the three diamond shaped windows. “He’s not there. His car’s still there but he’s not inside.”

I looked at the back door past the kitchen. He stood there, large and dark, peering through the glass. I ran and closed the summery yellow curtain. The hulking figure of my step-father loomed through the thin fabric.

“Let me in,” he growled.

“The police are coming,” I yelled. I hurried away and met mother rushing at me. “It’ll be okay,” I said as we embraced and waited for the police to come.

Five minutes seemed like an hour.

“Where are they?” My mother paced. “Why aren’t they here yet?” She sat. “This is a small town.” She lit a cigarette from the pack of Marlboro Lights on the table and sucked menthol-flavored smoke into her lungs. She held her breath for several seconds, then let it out slowly. Smoke rushed to the ceiling. I had closed my computer while she had struggled to light the cigarette. Now I sat and breathed in the pleasant smoke and waited for the police.

Five minutes later her cigarette was in the ashtray and I was at the front window. His blue Impala from the 1990s was still there. Rust had eaten into the doors and fenders. He loved that car more than he loved my mother. It was shocking to see it like that. But I knew times had been hard on him since the divorce. The plastics factory where he once earned premium wages had closed. Someone said he now worked as a maintenance person at one of the Walmarts near Buffalo.

I looked at the car and felt sorry for him. Divorce had been brutal on the guy. My mom had made out, getting everything in the settlement, including the small, gingerbread-style Victorian house that had belonged to his parents. The only thing he loved more than that car was this house.

A floorboard above my head squeaked.

“He’s in the house.”

My mother hurried toward me. She was looking at the stairs behind me. I grabbed her. “Don’t go up there,” I said.

“No. NO. Let me go.”

I held her until she stopped struggling.

His voice bellowed from upstairs. “Don’t you come up here, Jessica. I have a gun.”

“Get out of my house, Howard.”

I pulled my mom to the front door.

“Not your house,” Howard yelled.

I got the door unlocked.

“This is so my house, you sonofabitch.”

I got the door opened.

“Come on.” I pulled her outside into a winter chill that bit instantly through the back of my sweatshirt. I shivered. “The police are coming.”

She relaxed, though she shivered, frightened and cold.

We waited in the frigid front lawn; the afternoon gray became darker and colder, except where flames leaped from the back of the house.

“The house is on fire,” I said, though I think we said it in unison. A window broke and smoke rushed to get outside.

My mother screamed. “NO.”

I watched the flames grow; foul smelling smoke billowed darker than the sky. It roiled from the front door I had left open. That’s when I heard a gunshot. I held my shaking mother close and we shared body heat to stay warm. The house was ablaze before any heat came from it. It came blistering at us, so we stepped away and stood in the street.

When the first police car drove up, the house was a giant bonfire. Neighbors who had peered from their homes now ventured out and joined us to watch the house burn. Sirens wailed behind us and grew louder as a police officer led us to a safer distance.

My mother stopped shaking, though she held me tight as we stood next to the pulsating blue and red lights of so many emergency vehicles suddenly on our street.

When the roof collapsed, I realized that we were homeless. I wept and mother pulled my face to her shoulder. “It’s all his now,” she said.

I saw Howard’s car and wanted to kick it, to dent its doors and smash its windows. Worse, I wanted to set on fire.

“No,” mother said when I told her how I felt.

“Why not? We have nothing now.” I stared hard at her. “Don’t you realize that he took everything?”

“Not everything.”

“We have each other,” I said. “I know that, and I’m grateful. But…” I looked at the burning house where everything I owned was engulfed in fire.

“No,” mother said again. She looked at her diamond engagement ring. “I remember now what happened to the earrings.” She went to the driver’s door. “I thought I had lost them at the restaurant. We’d been drinking.” She got into the back seat, then handed me her ring. “The night Howard proposed to me at the restaurant, he gave me a matching set of earrings.” She dug around inside the seat. “I remember now that I took them off back here because… well, I didn’t want something to happen to them while we… you know.”

I didn’t want to but I blushed at the image she presented.

“I wrapped them in a Kleenex,” she said. “A-ha.” She backed up and staggered from the car. In her hand was wadded tissue. She unfolded the Kleenex and showed me the diamond earrings.

“Do you know what this means?” She grinned. “We can start over.”

A firefighter hurried to where we stood. “I’m so sorry, Jessica.” He looked at me sadly. “Maggie, you poor child.”

“Howard was inside, Johnny,” mother said. She took him by the arm and he steadied her. “He did this.”

Johnny Peters shook his head. He was in his forties, single. His wife had died of cervical cancer.

“If there’s anything I can do,” he said.

Mother pushed herself closer to him. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said.

Johnny put an arm around her. Mother rested her head against his shoulder. I looked at the burning house being doused by large plumes of water from several hoses. It would be okay. Mother would provide.

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Poems, This Blue Pen

Night Falls Swiftly

Night falls swiftly on us—
It is the secret bits of life to do yourself the way you do—
A flash in the sinking sun,
Ten thousand years rebounded,
Vibrations—
It is hell.

Wild you are but ripe for life
In the gray and raging glee—
Nobody likes to die, but it is evening here all the same,
And there is silence.

No more color,
No Hawaiian girls dancing—
All the knots and softness are gone.

A girl retreats her gaze—
What lover keeps her song?

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Stories, This Blue Pen

Eventide

It is eventide over my head, like old bourbon in a glass, straight up. We have come shyly as mosquitoes near still water, our flashlights adrift over dark girls in their secret boxes; their nights belong to the wind.

The lake loves me in secret. In my canoe I am an enigma from the shore. I am carved from a young girl sleeping beneath the inward sky, my left hand is black and white, my right hand is shadowless. My eyes are wide open but closed to the lurkers behind dawn’s door.

The south wind blows scampering ghosts across a lonely spider’s web. Delicate creatures fall wild on my forehead and ask to see my brain; there is no tomb to rise dead from… no apples to bleed from… no dragon to claim as my own.

My old man limps away. He stumbles to a blind horse amidst last year’s horses. He’s been drinking again. Drunk horses leave green droppings in blue patches of crab grass, but my old man pays no mind. He goes home as quiet as the evening… as quiet as the dark girls at rest in the black earth of silence.

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Poems, This Blue Pen

Passing

Sunday mirrored light of a hot sun reflecting off of brick buildings and parkways
where a hospital sits deep brown and yellow in its last degree,
fading like the old woman inside dying with a smile on her face,
happy to be leaving.

But I with a burlesque smile am sad to watch her go.

She should be dying without the day outdoors calling me,
pulling at me to be carefree.

I close the curtains and watch her leave
with no one else in the room to bear witness to her final breath,
one last windstream passing over silent lips
while mine tremble out a shackled goodbye.

Her hand falls softly away from mine
for she has the stars to touch now.

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Poems, This Blue Pen

Our Differences

You are full brazen;
Your swollen tan lies crisp on sunbaked sand;
You call attention to my snug rounded smooth firm thighs,
But you take my breasts in hand instead.

Seductive anticipation,
You promise me the taste of fried chicken skin;
And so my mouth waters all woman—
Course and raspy pudding under foot.

But I am short on your mind,
I am the shadow of a soporiferous color;
You set me aside for a long look at naked dancing girls—
Their bold vees fit well for the Valencia republic.

Your lamentations bay to the one who will take your grasp;
Your espousals become the smell of arid nicotine;
You promise motherhood to girls offering views of their paunches,
But your oaths tumble over ecstasy stains on fingers rolling dry leaves.

We go our separate ways:
I to a pretty face with unpainted lips.
I make no promises;
I am only hungry to know the heart.

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