Dancing in the Dark

Dancing in the Dark

The height of the apple tree confused Eva. In fact, it looked more like a cedar.

“ I expected better from you than going around stealing apples”.  Her father once disciplined her. “I am greatly disappointed”.

Eve knew her father would not come back in several months, and she could not help herself from this pointless guilty pleasure. Any act of rebellion would come with severe punishment, but she enjoyed the attention. Even so, when she was climbing the apple tree and noticed its height, she knew something was not quite right.

“Do I have to go to work today?”, Avalanche wondered out loud.

No there could be no work that night. Could not possibly be. The only place waiting for her was the Saint Paul hospital where her older brother was waiting for her to visit. He would scold her again for playing with daddy’s scissors just so she could have a reason to not come to the hospital.

“Avalanche, hide your scars underneath the clothes”, he would say. But how could she when the scars are her favorite doodles.

“Avalanche”, a tired voice echoed in her head.

“You mean Eve?”

“C’mon Eve, your shift will start soon.”

“Christine, you are ruining my buzz!”

“Get down here this instance or I will come up and break your neck!”

Avalanche slowly opened her eyes and saw that she was at least 3 feet off the ground. The lone tree was half dead, standing inside a small patch of dirt inside a ruin that is being used as apartment complex. She jumped down, disoriented and hurt her legs.

“Avalanche, I can’t believe you had the guts to take it in broad daylight”, Chris said while looking at his sisters with worried eyes. The rain started to pour and quickly colored the yellow pavement a shade of grey that was darker than the night sky.

“You would understand if you saw what I saw.”

***

“Chris, I think these pills really work”, Avalanche said as she closely looked at the bottle with the words “Penumbricil” on it. “You know, I read some stories about it on this obscure site about weird stuff. Took me quite a while to get some from my contacts in the States. The custom did not know what it was, and you know how the Vietnamese do not care if a cold pill was inducing hallucinations or not. I do not understand why this drug isn’t getting its due recognitions yet. Landing on the moon was probably less significant that this bottle right here”

“Well the moon landing was a brand new thing to science back then. This shit takes you back in time, and that is pure regression.”

“I wanted to see mom again.”

Chris stopped walking and quickly turned to Avalanche, his eyes flared with anger.

“That is not going to happen. Unless you want to see her whoring herself out to some rich men out there.”

They continued walking again. Chris avoided his sister’s glance even though he knew full well what that look means. He could not stand those watery orbs every time he spoke about their mother too harshly.

“Look, I just think it is best to forget about those bad memories. Don’t you want to live a better life, happy with your own family? If you use our money to buy stuff like these we will never be able to make it. It is already hard enough to sustain payment for your college tuition.”

Chris wondered what was going through his sister’s head then. They did not talk in years. But he knew perfectly that they looked exactly like each other. She was all that he has got.

***

Chris finished the call and looked around his place. There were dirty dishes everywhere, stacked on top of each other, growing a whole civilization. A dump, as it was, did not faze his sister one bit as she threw herself on the couch, completely absorbed in her book. Chris did not know she held on to that tattered book for that long.

“I just called them and got you a sick leave”. There was no response from the other side.

“You know you going to get fired next time you show up at work right?”

Avalanche continued ignoring him. Frustrated with the lack of response, Chris tore the book away from his sister’s hands.

“Christine! “, Avalanche was crying like the little girl Chris used to know from so long ago, one that ceased to exist just as long, ”give it back or I will tell dad!”

“Get a hold of yourself!”, Chris said as he handed back the book.

Avalanche blinked, and reality seemed to phase into another dimension. And when her vision refocused, she was in the hospital. There were white floor tiles and that sanitary smell she always hated. She looked down at her small arms and saw dry skin and blood crust from her most recent cuts. She peeled them off slowly and it gave her such a catharsis comparable to the orgasms she experienced much later in life. As she finished with the peeling, she looked closely at the cuts which she knew was leaving carefully planned set of scars.

Even though she loved the time when she still could cut herself, there was this annoying feeling that reminds her that what she saw was not real. It was as if everything was made from plastic and it was all hazy like. The growing panic worried Avalanche, so she stood up and tried to walk away. And then she saw her mother standing in the hallway talking to a doctor. Her face was completely blurred; even her dress seemed to be a mix from different segments of Avalanche’s memory. A tall man suddenly showed up froze the whole scene: “Why don’t you go back to reality for a bit my darling, this scene is faulty because you don’t have sufficient memory of it. Come back when you have something else”.  And with that, Avalanche was back on the dirty couch with her brother.

***

Chris was alone in his room, sitting on the bed holding the pill with his sweaty palm. He saw what it did to his sister, and it was not that harmful. According to the journey he had with Avalanche, certain objects worked as triggers for these memory trips. So he unlocked the safe and pulled out the only item he had in there. A picture of his family when his mother was still there, when he was not sick, and his sister did not have scars. The pill was small, but on the way down Chris’ throat it felt like swallowing a stone with sharp edges. He panicked at the prospect of having no control over what his mind would show him, so Chris threw himself into the blankets and closed his eyes. He did not feel anything different than usual. Will it hit soon? Will it gradually creep up or just barge in uninvited.

“I don’t know.” He said.

“How come?”, the Doctor asked. Chris was on a hospital bed, in the room was three other sickly kids suffering from tuberculosis.

“I just can’t feel anything. In fact, I feel like I am good enough to leave.”

The Doctor flinched. And the room was frozen in time, with everybody looking at Chris. Nobody moved or not so much as said a word as they stared blankly at him. And then He noticed one of the walls of the room he was in was missing. He could see clearly the garden in midsummer, melting from the heat. He got up, yanked all the syringes from his body. There was supposed to be a sharp pain but he just could not feel anything. In the garden, his father was smoking and waiting for him.

“Morning son, are you well enough for the walk?”

“Sorry Father, I don’t think the pill is working for me.”

And once again, Chris’s father just stared at him blankly, as if waiting for him to remember his script line. He hated that hollow look devoid of emotions, so he screamed “Father, can you please say something new?”

Still there was no response. Gave up to the idea, Chris tried to recall the conversation and did it right this  time.

“Sure dad, let’s walk for a bit”

His father awkwardly smiled as they started walking toward the inner fountain.

“Listen Christine, I think it is about time you have to hear this.”

Chris nearly replied, but he stopped as the words got stuck in his throat. He could recall the conversation perfectly and knew that he was going to ask what was it he is going to hear. But even at age eight, the small innocent kid that was Chris always knew his Father was going to break the news that he suspected. And there it was again, the blank stare as he refused to relive the memory. Chris continued to walk again, leaving behind the ghost of his Father.

“ I know it is hard to see him like that”, the tall man said. “I am doctor K. by the way.”

The Doctor held out his hand, and even though Chris was reluctant, he shook it anyway.

“You are not part of my memory.”, Chris said.

“True. I am programmed inside the micromachines contained within the pills. I am here to monitor your vision. However, I am every bit as real as the person who actually created this pill. I do know how you feel though, the feeling of being abandoned. Toward the end of my mother’s life, she had Alzheimer, she could not recall who I was. Did you know that as the brain slowly slipping into oblivion, ravaged by the disease, it is the earlier data that are left untouched? I think the brain actually know what is the most important, and it sacrifices the other memory to preserve what really matter. Oh sorry, I did not mean to ramble on…”

“So Penumbricil really is just a pill for recalling memories?” Chris asked.

“Reliving, to be precise. But then, as you can see, it would not work if you resist it.” Doctor K pointed at the plastic apparition of Chris’s Father.

“As well it should, my parents are gone. And that thing is not my Father.”

“It could have been if you wanted it to be Chris.”

“Ridiculous.”

“Then why did you take the pill?”

Before Chris could say anything, the Doctor whispered: “I am only here to monitor the visions, the decisions are for you to make.”

Chris walked back to his Father and soon the ghost appeared lively again, walking along with him. But Chris did not allow the memory to take over, simply focused on how it felt back then, to share a small moment with his Father.

“ Father, I know you are not real, but you are more vivid than the pictures I have,  I will give you that at least.”

“I can’t talk about Mother with Avalanche. Sometimes she asks me questions about how you guys were and I could not stay calm. All I could do was going back to the old pictures, wishing none of this ever happened. But then, a part of me really wished to see you and Mother again. When we were still a family and I am convinced that you never stopped being there.”

Tears were welling up in his eyes. Embarrassed,  he tried to rub his eyes and look at his Father again, but there was a thud outside his room that woke him up. As he recovers from the dizziness, he was waiting for any other sound, but there only silence. When he opened the door, Chris saw his sister lying on the floor with foam oozing from her lips. The empty bottle of Penumbricil clutched in her hands tightly.

***

Mother was hugging Avalanche in her arms. There were bright colors dancing around right before her face, but it was too high to touch. But the hug was becoming suffocating. She felt an intense heat encompassed her body. The hot air filled her brain and melts it. Avalanche tried to ignore the rapid pumping of blood inside her veins, which now feel like lava. She could hear her mother singing, clinging on to every word as it slowly faded:

Dancing in the dark Till the tune ends,
We’re dancing in the dark and it soon ends,
We’re waltzing in the wonder of why we’re here,
Time hurries by, we’re here and gone;

Looking for the light of a new love,
To brighten up the night, I have you love,
And we can face the music together,
Dancing in the dark.

 

 

 

Jack Kerouac’s List of 30 Beliefs and Techniques for Prose and Life

  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  4. Be in love with yr life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You’re a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
  3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

“But whereas a girl of nineteen draws her confidence from a surfeit of attention, a woman of twenty-nine is nourished on subtler stuff. Desirous, she chooses her apéritifs wisely, or, content, she enjoys the caviare of potential power. Happily she does not seem, in either case, to anticipate the subsequent years when her insight will often be blurred by panic, by the fear of stopping or the fear of going on. But on the landings of nineteen or twenty-nine she is pretty sure that there are no bears in the hall.”
— F. Scott FitzgeraldTender is the Night

F. Scott Fitzgerald, filed under IDEAS

  • Family breaks up. It leaves marks on three children, two of whom ruin themselves keeping a family together and a third who doesn’t.
  • A young woman bill collector undertakes to collect a ruined man’s debts. They prove to be moral as well as financial.
  • Story of a man trying to live down his crazy past and encountering it everywhere.
  • Father teaches son to gamble on fixed machine; later the son unconsciously loses his girl on it.
  • Girl and giraffe.
  • Play about a whole lot of old people—terrible things happen to them and they don’t really care.

10 Tips on Writing Well from David Ogilvy

  • Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  • Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  • Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  • Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  • Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  • Check your quotations.
  • Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  • If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  • Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
  • If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

“Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches”

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Notebooks

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Notebooks

  • Days of this February were white and magical, the nights were starry and crystalline.
  • The town lay under a cold glory.
  • Dyed Siberian horse. As thin as a repeated dream.
  • The sea was coming up in little intimidating rushes.
  • The island floated, a boat becalmed, upon the almost perceptible curve of the world.
  • Lost in the immensity of surfaceless blue sky like air piled on air.
  • On the great swell of the Blue Danube, the summer ball rocked into motion.
  • A circus ring for ponies in country houses.
  • The tense, sunny room seemed romantic to Becky, with its odor of esoteric gases, the faint perfumes of future knowledge, the low electric sizz in the glass cells.
  • A rambling frame structure that had been a residence in the 80’s, the country poorhouse in the 1900’s, and now was a residence again.
  • The groans of moribund plumbing.
  • The silvery “Hey!” of a telephone.
  • Whining, tinkling hoochie-coochie show.

 

I reached enlightenment by crushing a rat

I reached enlightenment by crushing a rat

If somebody asked am I religious at all, I would look down and shamefully admit I am a very bad Christian. The last time I confessed was in another country, about a sin which bored the priest to tears. Ever since then, I have avoided religious practice like a bad disease in a Turkish harem. I did not expect, however, that enlightenment would come from the strangest source, and it brought me to a whole other religion too.

It was a very cold Saturday morning in a sleepy city of overworked Asians, in a backwater of a country belongs to the poorest lands in the world. I received an ultimatum from a girl, so naturally I picked the time when she would be weakest and most vulnerable to my retaliation. Grudgingly, but with the knowledge of a predictable victory for males, I was driving on the street at 6AM through the fog.

The sound of the rat that got crushed underneath the wheels of my motorbike was something foreign. Well of course it would be strange, I was not in the business of crushing rats or any other type of rodents.  So when I heard a sound similar to a tire getting punctured by a very long nail, I instinctively look back to see a mess of gore on the street, with recognizable traits of a lowly street rat.

Right that moment, the smell of the rat’s entrails filled my helmet and suffocated my nose. I kept telling myself that there was no way the smell could enter my helmet so fast since all I did was just running over it. But the smell was there, like the perfume of a cheap Parisian prostitute in a shady brothel down some alleys. It was disgusting, needless to say, but as you can already tell, such a smell was just a figment of my imagination. The air was just fine, just the gruesome death of the rat that is leaving my mind scrambled.

And I reached enlightenment. I mean, isn’t this what that dude Buddha talked about? The death of one single living thing that has absolutely no connection to your life whatsoever could have an immense effect on you because in a way, all things are equal. The smell of the rat did not bother anymore; I embraced it with love and open heart.

I got chewed out from the girl for being a hippy later on in the meeting. But hey what does it matter? I reached enlightenment by crushing a rat.

I failed Public Speaking class

I am dead.

Looking back on my life, I see a few moments of greatness, but by and large, it was mistake, after mistake, after mistake. The Muslims have invited me out for soccer later this evening, so I will just tell you my final, and probably the worst of them all. I am sure if you have a penchant of the dramatic, you will enjoy it greatly.

It was a Sunday, 4.15AM Sunday morning to be precise, and my phone rang, so, naturally, I reached for it and listened to the other end. How I wish I hadn’t picked it up, but I did, and when my “friend” Jess said, “Dude, my toilet is stuffed, get over here. There’s shit gushing everywhere”, I being a plumber, reluctantly grumbled, and he took it for a yes. Threw on some pants, I took off for his apartment.

Of course his toilet was working just fine and he had called me for something much less savory. To make a long story short, my friend was covered in blood and gore, on his floor lay a dead blonde girl I had never seen before, he then asked me to move the thing. I told him he was insane, but then helped him anyway. A cop saw us loading her into a dumpster. Surely, Jess vamoosed, and I ran too, or I would have ran but the girl’s slipper caught on my shirt, and the next thing I knew was 300 pound officer Dunkin slamming me against the hood of his car telling me I am a sick bastard while completely  forgetting about my Miranda rights.

So then I was in a cell and this big black man was looking at me like I am a naked chicken. He told me I looked
sexy. I gave him nothing but the finger. He came at me with his mitts out, looking like a bear. I tried to resist but I was weaker than him so I lost. While I was face down on the floor, all the other rag-tag homeless men were studying the invisible spider webs around the cell, hoping that somewhere in their investigation, they would lose themselves and forgot about the time they were me. But I caught their eyes, and they remembered everything.

After a week of being forgotten in that hole, enjoyed more sodomy than a biker at a Hell’s Angels meet when the lights went out, the cell mates stopped paying attention to my silent cry of help, I finally got to sit before a jury of old men and old women. We were watching a slide show of a girl named Lavender Weisz and the lawyer’s started talking about how she was promising student, smart, maybe in need of applying herself a little bit more, but she had bright things in her future. And as he calls me a demonic monster, comparing me to Hitler, I was thinking about the track marks of Lavender’s arms, and her cold body, half exposed behind the tattered clothes, dangled from the dumpster outside the McDonalds in Brooklyn.

Click, there goes the slider, click-click-click, after a final click there was a picture of the girl as I knew her; all bruised and broken and still in the dumpster. A loud gasps could be heard from the jury. I gasped too, as it seemed the polite thing to do.

“HOW COULD YOU DO THIS!” the man screamed, “HOW COULD ANYONE BE SUCH A MONSTER? WELL, YOU PIG, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY?” I tried explaining my situation but he did not quite get it so I gave up.

“NO ANSWER EH? WELL WE DON’T EVEN NEED ONE! YOU ARE DONE!” He said, slamming his brief case and that was the end of my case. It took them a whole two minutes to deliberate, and as one man shuffled his glasses, pretending to read the decision, I could see my life rolling by my eyes as he pronounced “On the charges of kidnapping and murder,we find the defendant…GUILTY.”

Clap-clap, clapped the judges hammer as he sentenced me to the electric chair, and I desperately tried to
scream innocence, but they took me anyway.

Three years passed on death row, it was not that great.

Three years passed, and I sat strapped in a chair, staring at a silver screen; and as I heard the audience behind it shuffling, watching me. I probably looked skinny, and dirty, a tad bit insane. In their whispers I heard distinctly one lady telling another that you really never could tell who the weirdo was going to be.

Then there was SILENCE, as a thin man who looked like a dead corpse fondled some plastic gum thing, and told me that I was to die by ten-thousand volts to the brain. “Is that all John? I think I will take fifty-thousand today”, I joked to myself. And when he asked me for the final words, I gave them nothing. He just sighed that I was so stubborn, so he popped the plastic gum thing in my mouth. Next thing I know, I was watching my body from above as it clamps down on its own. And as I watched myself fry and die, I concluded to myself, one: never help people, and two: being mute bites.

Another 15 words that are untranslatable

1. Zhaghzhagh (Persian)
The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.
2. Yuputka (Ulwa)
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.
3. Slampadato (Italian)
Addiction of the infra red glow in tanning salon.
4. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
The Yiddish have scores of words to describe social misfits. This one is for an impractical dreamer with no business sense. Literally, air person.
5. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.
6. Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish)
A word that would aptly describe the prevailing fashion trend among American men under 40, it means one who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers.
7. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
Literally the act of scratching one’s head in order to remember something that is forgotten.
8. Gumusservi (Turkish)
Meteorologists in Turkey often hit on girls with this word while not looking like a nerd. It means moonlight shining on water.
9. Vybafnout (Czech)
A word tailor-made for annoying older brothers—it means to jump out and say boo.
10. Mencolek (Indonesian)
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.
11. Faamiti (Samoan)
To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.
12. Glas wen (Welsh)
A smile that is insincere or mocking.
13. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
The experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.
14. Boketto (Japanese)
The act of just gazing out vacantly into nothingness.
15. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating.

Honorable Mentions:

mencomet (Indonesian): stealing things of small value such as food or drinks, partly for fun
scheissbedauern (German): the disappointment one feels when something turns out not nearly as badly as one had hoped
mono-no-aware (Japanese): appreciating the sadness of existence
mahj (Persian): looking beautiful after being sick for a certain time
plimpplamppletteren (Dutch): the skimming of a flat stone as many times as possible across the surface of the water
koshatnik (Russian): a dealer in stolen cats
ava (Tahitian): wife (but also means whisky)

%d bloggers like this: