Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I'm packing my bags. This city can't help me, and I'm no good for the city either. 4 tee shirts, 2 dress shirts, 3 pairs of dress pants, several pairs of shorts, my softened leather shoes, this is my life. It fits neatly into one small red suitcase. My camera case, empty, sits in the lounge chair in front of the TV. I just don't know how I'll replace that camera.

I went out last night, against my better judgement.

I finished talking to Aaron, left my spot in line for pie, and hoofed it home. I had reached the door to my apartment, wedged the key into the sticky lock, and looked around me when I decided to go to the homeless yard where I found that meteorite before. I slid the key back out and stepped away from the door.

The homeless are always asleep during the day, they must be awake during the night. But what could make a group of homeless people to keep to themselves? How do they feed themselves? What do they do at night?

I arrived to find no surprises. Just a bunch of homeless people, huddled around flaming trashcans. I consider turning back but my question persisted. How do they sustain themselves?

I walked forward slowly, nervously. I've never been a fan of the homeless. I neared one of the huddles around a fire and as I did they opened the circle and all eyes turned towards me. There was nothing but silence, as if I had just committed a crime in a society I didn't belong to. Seven faces, illuminated by the flames, flickered at me. I broke the silence and asked "What are your lives like?"

"Not that different from your own," one of them replied. I was skeptical. "If you don't mind me asking," I asked, "What do you find for sustenance?"

They looked away from me, uninterested, and my question went unanswered. I looked around, eager to catch eye contact with one of them but all looked into the fire. I took their cue and did so myself. I stood there and slowly my tension relaxed. The fire answered my question. It tickled my eyes and held me close. I could not look away, but it didn't matter because I didn't want to. It swept me up. What I saw in that fire cannot be described with words. I reached for my camera and lowered it in front of my face ready to take a picture, to grab a section of that fire, when one of the homeless swatted my camera into the fire. Gone. In an instant my life and passion were thrown away. Again they turned to me but now I was pushed out of the circle. Their faces meant it was time to leave, but I wasn't ready. I swung my balled up first at the one turning his back to me and hit right in the back of his head. Next I knew they were around me, lifting me off my feet and throwing me off their sacred hobo ground.

They left me on the portico of the Old Cinema. Beaten by homeless. I sat there, homeless in my own way, for the rest of the night. It was a cold, wet, dreary night. In the morning I left.

The fountain came back on, as if it were mocking me. The flowing water, always changing, I want to capture that water in an instant, in a moment, in a photograph. Now I can't.

That is why I am leaving.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chapter 9

I can barely make out the cracks in the sidewalk in front of me. They mock me and their constant battery of tiny voices rattle in my head. Before I avoided them, but now I look up and focus on what's in front of me. Snap and a picture is taken. I just paused and took a photo of whatever was in front of me. Later in the developing process I will be greeted by a pleasant surprise. Currently however I shift my attention to the fragrance of pie. The street lamps are out and the diner is the only place working. I think they are only choosing to make pies. I decide to partake in a pie, and pace over to the diner. I'm not the only one. Everyone is here. Smiling folks just waiting to get pie. It's almost serene. Snap. I take my place in line and notice a grown man crying.
"Why are you crying?" I say.

"It's just that, well, apple pie reminds me of my parents. They died when I was young," he says.

"Oh, wow, that's rough," I say,

I can't help but avert my gaze from him as a silence lingers.

"I tried to honor their memory by practicing magic, but I've not done it lately," he says.

"I didn't know we had any warlocks in this town," I say.

"Technically warlocks are not humans, so no, we don't have any 'Warlocks.' I am a Wizard. Or was a wizard," he says.

"I'm sorry. I don't mean to belittle you, but I have. My mother died as well. I've been quite effected ever since." Without realizing it I lie. "I can't imagine losing both parents," I say

"The only thing I can remember about them is them telling me about magic. Everyone has laughed in my face for the last twenty years but I kept going… until now," he says.

The whole conversation makes me feel out of place. I decide to leave and am about to make up an excuse when I think better of, remembering my vow. "I've seen you around the building, but I'd never have thought we'd have something so grave in common. I haven't talked with anyone about my mother before, I don't exactly know why I feel so compelled to now," I say.

"If we were talking a week ago, I would have told you it was because of my liger claw necklace that attracts new people but not anymore," he says.

Satisfied with my reach out into the community I despise, I'm content and finished with the conversation. "I just realized I'm late for something. I'm sure I'll see you around the building," I say. I step away from my spot in line, but then turn and say "wait, what is your name?"

"Aaron. Aaron Pernie," he says.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chapter 8

I can't stop my mind from running wild. I walk along the sidewalk, imagining every reason why the squat policeman could have asked for my name. My stomach feels queasy and my thoughts are unfocused. It is humid outside and my shirt sticks to my chest.

The smell of the diner wafts to me and immediately calms my thoughts. The aroma pulls me in and next I'm sitting down with 3 different plates of food before me. I nearly inhale the food as I savour the memories of dining with my mom when I was little. We would come to a place like this, probably because the food was cheap. The yellow tangy flavour of lemon in one bite of the succulent chicken sends me home. I'm sitting in the restaurant I knew as a child. For a moment I'm eating a kebab in a hazy bar, looking at the bright red door that stood so out of place in that place.

Good God. How can I be so ridiculous? I'm quite fully back in the diner and I'm quite fully done eating. All it takes is one look around to figure out that I'm not the center of attention. I take great comfort to find that most everybody is caught up in their own conversations or looking at the two inebriated idiots eating like they were starving. With that thought I catch myself judging them. Why should I care if they get high and come here to eat their brains out? I'm trying to be well with society. This is my first step.

Chapter 7

" I saw the robbery." I say.

A freckled policeman with scruffy, short blonde hair sits at a high desk in a small room. He looks up to see me. His dark eyes look calm though I was expecting him to be more interested by what I had to say.

"Which one?" says the policeman.

"The ATM robbery yesterday." I say.

The policeman rises off of a high chair and comes to stand no more than 5 foot 6 inches above the ground. He's squat and this eases some of my tension.

"And? Two guys came and stole an ATM. Ain't nuthin gonna be done 'bout it. We recovered the thang this mornin'. Punks never got into it."

Before he finishes talking he walks toward a door in the back of the room and opens it.

"Was that it?" he says.

I nod. He steps through and closes the door. I'm left in the small room and suddenly I feel an urgent need to leave, as though staying a moment longer may put me in a situation unfamiliar to myself. I start for the door. I hear faint footsteps approaching the door inside the room and I slip outside. I try my best to walk casually but the awkwardness has overtaken my thoughts. I'm no more than a few paces away from the building when the door to the Police Headquarters swings open and the squat, freckled man hollers at me.

"Wait! What's your name?" he says.

I spin around

"Charles." I say

He holds a clipboard and pen in his hand and motions to continue.

"Charles Stevens." I say.

He looks down and steps back inside. I look away and try to divert my thoughts from why he wanted my name.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chapter 6

I've been in bed for hours, probably more like days. The act in and of itself was so innocent, yet it plays on loop in my head like a perverse intruder of my thoughts. Those two men, tearing at the ATM, wrenching it from its hold on the earth. I maintain apathy but can't forget it. Hopeless and indifferent I decide to report it. I slouch out of bed and shuffle all the way through Watershed Heights and out into the street. The luminescent orange glow from the street lamps hang the air heavy in front of my face. The stagnant, thick, air is almost too much to breath. My breaths are therefore shallow. I try to breath deeply, just once, and find I can't. I just can't. My lungs won't take in the air, they just won't accept the thick, musty air any more then they must to keep working.

I pass the Vietnamese restaurant, and then Foo Food, and finally the laundromat. Every previous encounter with the police has made me uncomfortable. Simply the thought of the police makes me anxious, though I cannot name a reason for this. I've never been in serious trouble. The police just have bad vibes. I can't imagine a person who may hate their job more.

Without further ado I enter the police station.

Chapter 5

I haven't been feeling myself lately.

Or whatever my definition of myself is, I haven't been feeling like that. Since I left Sewanee I've been just trudging along. In a way, I think I thought I was better than everybody else, everyone else here. Well maybe I am better than at least the people here.

I was watching LOST without much intent, the screen flickering without my eyes paying attention, when I hear a crash. I casually get up and go to the window. After wiping a thin crusty layer of mayonnaise-like grime out of the way I see two men prying an ATM right out of the ground. The ATM grasps onto the earth with terrible force but they are persistent. I stand there hunched over, looking out into the street. I watch as the men pry the ATM out of the ground, carelessly and roughly. Somehow I feel nothing but remorse for the ATM.

The men leave and I slump against the stained wall. I slide to the floor as the robbers speed off. The sound of LOST fills the room. I'm tired of this town, of my lack of a real job, of myself, and I collapse into my bed and fall asleep.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chapter 4

I pick up my bag. I set it back down. Is it heavier than usual? I pick it up. Who put something in my bag? Huh, my water bottle froze. I left it by the window.

The terrible weather is great. The snow, or slush I mean, falls apart when I try to make a snowball. It's colder on the rooftop than the ground. I'm on my dogwood again. If I could I'd be making snowballs and lobbing them onto the heads of not-so-innocent folks. Because I can't, I have to settle for sweeping enormous sections of slush over the edge. It comes raining down with a hard thump. The trick is to watch just long enough to see it hit them, but pull back as soon as they look up in anger.
It must be awful. Imagine walking out of your front door, and in an instant becoming drenched in snow-slush. Head-to-toe wetness. Ha!

Sitting there I remember something. It was as I walked home after snapping a picture of that meteor. A man came running through the rain, half naked, right towards me. I took his picture and tried to ask him if it was alright, but the man just kept running. He ran like a bat-out-of-hell toward the sleeping bums. The man was in a trance, if I've ever seen anyone in a trance. He didn't even notice me. If I hadn't moved he would have run right into me. He was running in the rain, running in his boxers at that!

I come back to and recognize him walking out of the building. I get an especially great armful of the slush around me and bring it down on him. That'll teach him to run me over. Weird-ass.