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You sit there, in a room filled with smooth talkers. You listen and you want the floor to swallow you up. You wonder why it is you are so miserable and why the darkness seems to want to follow you everywhere you go.

It’s a search; a fruitless search for gold that keeps you coming back. Jumping into a tidal wave of cement, quicksand, a bottomless hole. Sounds echo yet it’s the silence that pains you, it’s the screaming that slowly kills you.

You prefer to walk alone because you cannot, will not, relent and surrender your inner truth. The truth that handcuffs you to the pole that is 300 degrees Fahrenheit, you twist and you turn to avoid the pain and the aroma of burning flesh. But you cling to it for as long as you can…

It’s your life that is draining away and your life that is left breathless, bloodless and organless. You sold your soul, ain’t no refund, returns or buy backs. The road to the right, the road to the left and you, waiting to find the merge, lost searching for an exit that is nowhere in sight.

Clouds above, tornado approaching, heat is stifling.You swore forever, you swore it true; now forever is coming fast and the rent is due. Pockets empty, hearts afire, souls are somewhere yet nowhere to be found.  Calling out to you, can you see me? Screaming out to you, look at me! Whispering to you in prayer, answer me…

The hardest truth for the heart to accept is the truth that it’s all a lie. Dreams, love, forever..even right this second… Slipping through my hands, melted memories like the celluloid scenes we once held so dear. Lost in the backstreets and the deserted ruins, like the dreams upon awakening, gone and forgotten.

Forbidden satisfaction, is it all a sin? Laughter and peace, can it ever win? Shivers felt, warm breeze lost…it’s getting colder and colder, take me home. Lay me down in your bed, drop off your coverings and open yourself to me. Can you warm me, can you make me feel alive? Can you hold me, hold me hold me…take me in…it’s cold out here…

The night is cold, the day is secluded – is this atonement for a sin I cannot recall?

Forgive me, release me, open the gates and set me free. Enlighten me to what I have done, what is my crime? What good is a punishment if I am ignorant to the crime? If there is a lesson to be learned, please tell me plain…

I lost that golden glow, it’s lost somewhere down below. Where time goes to die and rivers of dry sand flow. Where fires don’t bring warmth, they just burn to destroy and trees are grown for gallows not for the life it was meant to bring.

Destruction, like a dying star streaking across the sky, tears falling across my face as I try to explain, to make you understand that I am more than what I have become. I am more than this decaying human being who once believed in higher levels of beauty, love and…what? Was it all a lie? An exaggeration?A compensation for a bankruptcy of knowledge within?

He walks the streets a broken man. Unshaven, unkempt and muttering to himself. A stranger in his hometown, he is shunned, he is ignored, he is lost.

Born in Tempe Arizona on February 29th sometime in the 1970s, he was the son of the richest woman in the state. Born and raised Catholic he threw that all away after he lost his girlfriend on 9/11.

She had said she was in Chicago when in fact she was in New York city being interviewed for a job at an accounting firm on the 80 something floor of one of those towers. She had betrayed him or had she ever committed to him at all?

He found out on the 9/12, his own personal 9/11;  that she had left him a voicemail to say goodbye.

“I am sorry…please forgive me.” That’s all.

His name is Harry, he is a 6’2 45 year old man with nothing to show for his years other than some gray hair on his chin.

He spends his days working for a sales group out in Paradise Valley, well that’s what their address says anyway. He is actually in a square office, in a square building where there is no scaling for guys like him. The ones who sell there without scaling call the place the, “Plantation.” Well they called the office the “Plantation” because of the way the 14 hour days the workers were “unofficially” forced to work. The Saturdays and Sundays alternating.

In the plantation, you sit still for 10-12 hours at a time dialing, selling, being screamed at and being seduced by lonely pervs who just want to listen to a living person.

Repeated pitches, scripted sloppily by the worst yet most successful authors of their generation. It’s a carnival filled with the strangest of carnies. Sword swallowers, two headed girls and the bearded ladies. The hermaphrodite with the operatic voice, the dwarf with his ability to rise above the fog and the eunuch with three of his children by his side. The heroes are the ones who persevere and create a small treasure for themselves; vacation in the Caribbean and go skiing somewhere up in the mountains for the weekend.  

The explosion came after the last dust storm wiped out the electrical grid on the “plantation.”

With the rest of the day open, he went to the Wal-Mart on East Apache and that’s where he found himself staring at the hunting gear and that’s when he snapped.

Two thousand feet from an elementary school was a shopping mall – next to a “Music and Spirits” establishment was the guns and ammunition store.

“What a fucked up world. Buy a gun, have some drinks and go shoot up some kids.” or worse yet…”Let the kids go through the schooling and then end up at a job in the “Plantation” spending your extra time contemplating suicide or worse…”

Back at the plantation, the human anteater walks around smugly, the muscled he-man laughs out loud so the rest of the building can attest to his happiness and likability. The old man lashes out at his assistant to compensate for his loss of authority. The broken man, Harry, limps out the door and contemplates the open window by the elevator.

He looks down and notices…nothing. There is nothing down there for him – should he jump, he will not fly, bounce or survive – he will simply be tossed into the forever of darkness. He pulls his head back and walks onto the waiting elevator.

He walks, broken.
He stops and looks around and notices that his shirt is untucked.

He looks around and notices that it must be raining, though he cannot feel any drops, people are scrambling and cowering up in the mirage rain storm. Was that thunder? Is that lightening? Oohs and aahs fill the streets and the sounds of a woman’s heels hitting the cobblestone streets with each and every step she takes.

He walks, broken and they each look into each other’s eyes. She falls, he catches her, they laugh and walk hand in hand westward.     

The morning will find them searching, for the souls, hearts and left foot shoes that have been stolen. Is there anything more frightful than a thief in the night?

The sun rises but it can be argued that it’s just a reflection from the rain-wet streets and the street lights which remain lit up.

Newspaper trucks throw their newspapers; milk deliveries are made and the rooster is alarming the world that another night has ended and a new day is beginning. But where is the sun?    

Across the street from the train station, there is a diner owned by a Greek family; the diner is called, “Dana’s Diner.” It was the name that Mr. Zazopoulos, “Zazo” to the town, inherited from the previous owner.

There is a broken boat on the edge of a lake on the other side of town; the broken man once fished in it and lost his heart there as well.

“It must have fallen into that shit-colored water and, well, why would I want it back?”

The broken man was lost then, suddenly, he was found. A scent of burning skin and then burning hair filled the cabin where he was renting. He felt the sense of freedom when he hurt himself and the more he felt the more he felt closer to a numbness that was within reach. Forever numb.

He walks the streets these days with a revolver in his right back pocket and his wallet in his front right. The keys to his cabin and to his used six hundred and thirty three dollar car in his left front pocket and the letter of goodbye in his back left pocket.

The makeshift fireplace in his kitchen was once an oven and he finds himself reading next to it most nights hoping the fumes will lead him away to another time and place where optimism was his savior and disaster was his hobby.

First he began by shooting squirrels who had taken residence in his attic. He would stand outside and shoot them one by one as they exited the “hotel.”

Then it was the ducks who shat all over his car and the front entrance to his cabin. He thought about cooking one but then threw that thought away when he realized it seemed quite disgusting to cook what had just been alive. How could he eat something that shat disgustingly all over his front entrance – wasn’t what came out, already in?

Then came the old lady who was constantly bugging him about the music he played.

“It’s too loud, I’ll call the police if you don’t turn it down, turn it down.” She whined.

When she knocked on his door that sunday evening as Guns n Roses blared from his speakers, he pulled her to the back of his cabin. Looked her straight in his face and said, “Gonna make it louder, so loud that you won’t hear a sound.” Took out his revolver, shot her right between her eyes. Buried her in the back after wrapping her in a tarp. When he was done, he made the music louder.

“Take me down to the paradise…”

When he walked the streets that evening, walking back home from the plantation. He left behind four bodies who once lorded over him, mocked him and acted as if they were born to succeed and rise above him. Nobody heard, nobody knew anything – until Nancy walked in at 730 the next morning; by then it was too late anyway.

The sound of her heels on the cobblestone streets irritated him until he caught a whiff of her perfume and a quick glimpse of her face.

She was wearing a black beret covering her dirty blonde hair; black peacoat and a red scarf. Pants and those boots which make that sound, like an alarm or an exaggerated sound of a heart beat.

They saw each other and he smiled. She smiled back. Later on that evening, she let out a sound of satisfaction that only a long awaited orgasm can elicit.

The earth moved and the sun arrived; or did it? Her eyes forever closed and her head upside down – he walked outside and saw the newspaper trucks dropping off their delivery. He saw the milk deliveries and then heard the rooster crowing…as he sat in the boat along the edge of the lake; he pushed himself towards the middle of the body of water.

The ducks, geese and birds flew off in a panic as a lone shot was fired.

The preacher spoke; “He once held so much promise, confessed his inner demons but they were nothing but a fleeting thought. He lived for the Lord once upon a time; until the Lord forgot his name. I knew him, once upon a time as the man with the smile. Now all I can remember him as is a broken man.”

The preacher walked down to the lake that evening, tied the boat to the edge and proclaimed it a memorial to a man who once had it together and then lost his way. Like an unmanned vessel upon the water – never to sink but never to reach a destination.