Posts Tagged ‘late at night’

You couldn’t call it a night time storm, really. Not a proper one. There was wind, rain, even lightning; but this was no storm. The wind was just enough to blow the rain into occasional angles, to rustle the palm fronds outside of his window. The lightning was far away, the thunder a low and distant rumbling.

The radio played softly: an internet station tuned to music from South Africa in the ’50s. Kinda like doo-wop, the voices combined in unexpected ways to create harmonies at once joyous and full of sorrow. How does somebody play a banjo, of all things, in a way that breaks your heart? He thought this as he tossed his head back and drained the last few drops from the bottle. The beer tasted like the music, in a way. A hint of flowers, a bite, a stinging sourness, sweet. This is what greenish-gold sounds like, tastes like. A cloud bank flashed in the distance, and later, the punctuation of the thunder. He stared, unblinking. Time for another beer. He went to the fridge.

The song changed. It was a familiar one. He knew the words, but not what they meant. He used to own a CD with this song on it. The two of us used to love this song. “Baby a-ree yeng, down-down chikavu,” the ladies sang. “Chi-i-i-kavu!” They sounded like they were wagging their pointing fingers and shimmying as they sang. “Chikavu, chikavu, chikavu way!” He closed his eyes, so he could see her dancing with the singers. In his vision, she was dressed like a pinup in a glittering skin-tight sheath and fuchsia pillbox hat.

He shook his head vigorously and opened his eyes. He had thrown out the picture they took with her in that outfit. His arm was around her waist; he wore a burgundy smoking jacket and a fez. They had had a great time at that party. Then on the way home, they returned to their normal, argumentative state. What were they arguing about? Didn’t matter. Always, she would storm out of the house. Always he would chase her up the street.

Until the time he didn’t.

The rain fell. The music played.

The beer was good.

 

words  and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

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Part seven of Allosaurus. Continued from last week.

I went to the store today. Bought $50 worth of light bulbs. That’s quite a lot of light bulbs, if you’ve ever wondered. Well, it’s a lot of the old-fashioned, incandescent  kind, actually. The new energy efficient bulbs cost a bit more, so $50 is gonna get you three, maybe four lights. Your standard Thomas Edisons? That amount of money will get you … (counts the boxes) … forty-seven packs. Sixty watts a piece. 

Am I that big a fan of illumination? Hardly. 

I am, however, quite enamored with broken glass.

The beautiful, beautiful sound. A crack, a pop, a shimmer. The glistening, jagged shards like ice. So sharp, so fine. I was afraid of it, once. It could cut me, it could slice me, it could split me open. Now, every time I break some glass, I feel a little charge, a thrill in the pit of my stomach. I close my eyes and savor it.

Broken glass.

“I think I should move out.”

Fran didn’t look up from her plate. Her fork clanked hard against china, stabbing through a chunk of chicken. Other than that, she kept completely still.

“Did you hear me, Fran?” Cheryl asked. “I said – ”

“I heard you. You think you should move out.” The fork scraped tiny little circles around the rice.

Look at her. Ask her to stay. Tell her you love her, that you’d be lost without her. Tell her you’ll stop going out on your stupid patrols, and beg her to stay. Tell her, dammit!

Fran continued to stare at the plate.

“Well? You don’t have anything to add to that?” Cheryl’s voice was plaintive, stretched. Fran could hear it, breaking. She didn’t have to look up to see the water welling up in Cheryl’s eyes.

Hold her! Wipe the tears away! Tell her it’s gonna be alright! Stop being a jackass! 

Cheryl shook her head. “I – ”

“Don’t.” Fran still hadn’t looked up, was still scraping the plate with the fork. Her voice was small, quiet. “Please.”

“‘Don’t’ what?” Cheryl grabbed Fran’s chin, tugged her face up. “Look at me! Don’t what?”

Don’t go. Say it!

“Don’t go.”

Cheryl swallowed in a dry throat. “Your chest is still bruised up pretty bad,” she sighed. “The doctor said you need to be resting for a while. I’ll hang around here til you get well enough to be on your own, but then … I think I’ll move in with Calvin for a bit. I’ll keep paying my part of the rent til the lease is up, and I’ll help you with the power and whatever, but …” Her voice trailed off. “You don’t care that you’re gonna die, if you keep this up. And, I can’t watch you kill yourself. Do you understand?”

Fran’s eyes were shut tight. She could feel the heat rising up her back, up her spine. She was unaware that she had slowly mashed the fork against the plate until the tines were mashed and bent. Unbidden, an image sprang into her mind: Cheryl and Fran were at the pier, blanket spread  across the sand. It was night. There were djembe players pounding out a rhythm in the distance. Jugglers twirled flaming ropes in intricate patterns in time to the music. Fran remembered the look in Cheryl’s eyes, glowing to put the light from the fire-spinners to shame.

It was hard, but Fran finally looked at Cheryl – those same burning, glowing eyes from that night, so long ago. “…I …” she began. She couldn’t finish. Try harder. “I … need you. Please.”

***

Kid Kaos was one of the few vigilantes infesting the city who actually dressed like a superhero: bright yellow tights with a black exclamation point on his chest. He even had a cape. A black cape, of all things! as though he thought he could fly. He wore a domino mask as well. The one thing that really stood out about his get-up was the knit Rasta cap with fake dreads sewn into it. As Kid Kaos, Roger Bergmann preferred to mete out “justice” to bank robbers and various low-level thuggery. He also enjoyed following firefighters and EMTs, hoping to lend a hand and ingratiate himself to what he referred to as the “life-saving elite”.

It was, therefore, no big deal to set up a trap for him.

A faked emergency, a stolen ambulance, a taser and some rope. Easy peasey. Kaos came to, hogtied in a warehouse, hanging upside down. He could just about make out the video camera pointed at him, and through the haze he could see three figures. A woman and two men, by the looks of them. Kaos mustered up his best superhero bluster.

“Just what do you … evil-doers want?” he snarled.

“Wow,” chuckled the closest one, a male. He, like his comrades, wore white painter’s coveralls and a white balaclava. “You really got that whole comic-book thing down, huh?” He snatched the Rasta cap and domino mask off Kid Kaos’ face. “Teppo, catch!” He tossed them to the other male. Teppo held one in each hand, looked at them with mild disgust.

“Eww,” Teppo sniffed. “Smells like cheap aftershave, Kracko. Point his face at the camera.”

“Right.” Kracko lifted Kaos’ head by the hair and swung him around so that he was staring straight at the video camera. The woman crossed over to turn it on. “You getting this, Oxmyx?” Kracko asked her.

“Got it,”, Oxmyx gave him the thumbs up. “We’re rolling.  Go ahead.”

“Right.” Kracko cleared his throat, addressed the camera. “We are Project Kill-switch. We’ve got a message for you. This here’s a guy named, um, …” Kracko pulled out a slip of paper from his pocket, and glanced at it. “This is a guy named Roger Bergmann. Goes around dressed like a freak, calls himself ‘Kid Kaos’. Some of you may have had some dealings with him. Think’s he’s some kind of super-hero.” Kracko looked Kaos in the face. “He’s about to die. Right here, right now.”

“Wha- what?” Kaos stammered.

“Yep, this clueless idiot is gonna die. Project Kill-switch looks at it like this. A lot of you good folks out there have it in your minds that you can strap on some long johns and a mask, come up with a name, and have the greatest adventure of a lifetime. This is foolishness. We intend to show you all just how foolish this is.

“You see,” Kracko continued, “Super-heroes exist in a world with equally colorful antagonists. Up til now, there haven’t been any of those. As a result, most of the masked vigilantes out there have no clue as to how to deal with a real threat. Like us.

“We’re taking over. Don’t try to stop us.”

“Wait! Don’t do this!” Kaos begged.

Kracko feigned surprise. “Don’t do it? Whatever for? Do you have some heretofore hidden powers that will prevent us from carrying out our dastardly crime?”

“Look, I just – it’s just that I overheard the one you call ‘Teppo’ saying he didn’t need you other guys, that he was the real brains of your outfit, you know?” Kaos stammered. “I mean, you’re not gonna let him get away with talking about you like that, are you?”

Kracko was silent. His eyes darted to Teppo, then back to Oxmyx. With suspicion, he growled, “Teppo? Did you say that?”

Teppo froze. Then, he did something quite unexpected.

He blurted out a hearty laugh. Oxmyx joined in.

“Aw,” she cooed. “Look who’s trying to use strategy, trying to pit us against each other! It’s so cute!”

“That’s not your super strength or something, is it?” Teppo chuckled. “Being clever? Because it doesn’t seem to be working for you, now, does it?”

Kracko shook his head. “That was a good one, Roger. ‘Teppo said he was the brains of your outfit!'” he mocked. “Nah, you’re gonna die. -You got that machete ready, Teppo?”

“I’m on it, Kracko,” Teppo drawled.

Kaos saw the flash of steel. One of the things about a sharp blade, swung true, is that it takes a lot longer for the mind to register things like pain than it takes for a person to die.

words  © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

Allosaurus continues next week in It’s A Fairly Common Last Name In The West Indies.

Part six of what I think is going to be  called Allosaurus. Here’s last week’s installment.

Three of them, this time. This was a first.

Cowards, clearly.

Couldn’t face Fran all by themselves.

The biggest one actually pulled out a gun. Some kind of Sig Sauer pistol with the aftermarket kit that turned it into a snub-nose rifle. Fran saw the muzzle flash.

Then

Things

Moved

Very

Very

Very

slowly.

Fran saw the rounds moving towards her, spinning. It was always a mesmerizing sight. A slow-motion conga line of bullets. She batted at them like so many errant mosquitoes. They would ricochet off the gauntlets and embed themselves in nearby buildings and cars. It was the dis-entangler doing its thing. Fran was getting more and more accustomed to it now; the way it would kick in at the merest thought, instinctively doing her bidding. A new body-part that could freeze-frame reality. She calmly sauntered over to the shooter, and snatched the gun from her hands. The power assisted gauntlets made short work of crushing it like so much tin. The world snapped back into regular time. Big girl’s eyes were wide like saucers as Fran lifted her by the throat and tossed her aside.

The skinny one had a lead pipe. He swung at the back of Fran’s knees, and Fran went down with a grunt. The pipe came down towards Fran’s head. Somehow, she rolled out of the way.

Pay attention, Fran cursed herself. She popped up, legs unsteady. The pipe swung at her again, missing her head but slamming into her chest. The vest was bullet-proof, but not actually impact resistant. Fran fought to continue breathing, to maintain consciousness. Something flew out from Fran’s wrist. The taser-whip. It wrapped around the skinny one and shocked him good. He fell, twitching. The lead pipe rolled to the side. There was a pounding, rhythmic noise in Fran’s ears that she eventually recognized as her own heartbeat. A pinkish, reddish fog began to creep in at the edges of her vision. Somehow, she turned to face the last one.

Young. Real young. A kid. He had a knife. He was shaking. Yelling something. Fran couldn’t quite make it out. Everything ached. She lurched at the kid with an animal snarl. The knife flashed. Fran broke the hand, drove an elbow (whose, she had no idea) into the kid’s nose. He went down; bloody, snoring.

Fran looked around. Here was the big one, the one with the gun. Flopping about, having a seizure. Definite head trauma, possibly permanent brain damage. Here was the skinny one, teeth chattering, fists clenched, eyes bulging. Fran switched the whip off and he lay still. Here was the kid, almost sleeping peacefully. Fran felt the vomit rising in her throat. She fought it back down. Not now, dammit. Not now.

The three thugs had tried to jump a frail, tiny woman. She stood still, hardly daring to breathe, clutching an expensive purse to her chest. She gulped, as though she hadn’t dared to breathe for a while. She looked from Fran, to the attackers, then back to Fran. She didn’t say a word. Eyes riveted on Fran, she walked over to the nearest one, the skinny one with the lead pipe. She let go of the purse, and it fell to the ground with a soft thump. She looked down.

Her foot seemed to jerk, all by itself, and kick the skinny one in the side.

“The hell are you doing?” Fran hissed. “Get outta here!”

The tiny woman didn’t seem to hear her. Her foot lashed out again, this time viciously. The skinny one groaned.

Fran gathered her strength and pushed the woman back. “I said get the fuck outta here, Frannie!”

The woman was startled. “What’d you call me?”

“I said get out of here, lady! What’s your problem?”

The woman looked at Fran. Her eyes were like little flints, like little coals, like little embers. “No,” she began. “You said, ‘get the fuck outta here, Frannie.’ Who the hell’s ‘Frannie’?”

Flustered, Fran was speechless. Her mouth opened, then slowly closed again. Sirens began to wail, grow louder. “Just, just go,” she finally mumbled. Fran quickly shuffled off into the shadows.

Trying very hard not to black out, now, Fran leaned against her bike. There was a first aid kit under the seat. She could maybe wrap some bandages around her chest. No. That would have to wait till she got home. Not taking off the vest. Not out here. Get the hypodermic out instead, give her self an injection of ibuprofen for the pain.

“It’s called projection.”

Fran immediately went into an attack position. Goggle-enhanced eyes scanned the hidden nooks and  doorways in the alley. “Who are you?” she growled.

“When you ascribe your mental issues to someone else. Projection.” The voice was coming from above. Fran looked up. She saw a man balancing himself on top of an eight-foot high chain link fence, arms sticking out as he paced back and forth. He was masked; one of those Mexican wrestler type things in deep red with black and green accents. With a deft shifting of his weight, he was suddenly balanced upside down, on one hand. Now she could see the rest of his costume. Same red, black and green motif over lightweight armor. Looked like he had a shield on his back.

“What do you want?” Fran’s left hand readied the taser-whip. The armored fence-hopper pushed; with a flip he was standing in front of her. He reached a hand out to her.

Fran reflexively grabbed the hand and tossed him towards a dumpster.

And just as reflexively, the armored man kicked his leg out, rolled, and was back on his feet. “Hey! Chill, girl!” He held his hands out towards her, palms up. “I’m on your side. Un-armed. I come in peace, and all that. I was just trying to compliment you on taking on those big and bads. You’re one of them Commando Girls, right?”

Fran said nothing. Stayed in attack position.

“Look,” he tried again. “I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you. I watch people a lot. Never seen anybody fight like that. What’s that, Krav Maga? Capoeira? Pretty bad-ass.”

“Who are you?” Fran asked, not moving one inch from her stance.

“Seriously?” he asked. “You don’t know who I am? I’m in the papers, baby. Kinda famous. Not as famous as the Bug Man, of course, but I’m definitely more well known than, say, Kid Kaos or one of those lightweights.” He bowed. “Mr. Vanglorious, at your service.”

“Never heard of you.”

“Really? Never? Damn.” Vanglorious looked as crestfallen as one can manage while wearing a mask that conceals sixty percent of one’s face. “Here, I was thinking that I’m pretty much the greatest man alive. – Could you drop the stance for a second, or relax or something? I feel like I’m about to get jumped.”

“You might.” Barely, almost imperceptibly, Fran eased up. Just the tiniest bit. “What do you want, Mr. Vanglorious?”

“You called that one woman ‘Frannie’. I just think that’s a little … interesting. She obviously didn’t know you. She looked about the same height as you.” He put a hand to his chin. “Same build, too.”

“Do you have a point?” Fran asked.

Vanglorious shrugged. “Like I said, I watch people sometimes. Somebody could make a lot out of that little slip of the tongue.” He turned to walk away. “You should get your ribs looked at. I’ll be in touch, Commando Girl.” With a couple quick jumps (fence! fire escape! roof!) he was gone again.

Fran was alone in the alley. She looked at her watch. Almost four in the morning. Cheryl would still be pretending to sleep when she got home. She shook her head. I can’t keep doing this to her. The drugs were beginning to kick in. She hopped on her bike, started it up, and aimed toward the apartment.

Commando Girls. Where’d these people get that stupid name?  

words  © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved. “Mr. Vanglorious” courtesy of Darrin R. Ford. 

Allosaurus continues next time in Shards.

In which we continue the adventures of F.R.A.N. from the previous post.

Sit down on the edge of the bed. Bend your knees. You can do this, dammit. Sit!

Okay. Sitting now. What’s next?

Next, take the goggles off. -No, I don’t care that your hands feel too stiff! No whining! Goggles off! You can’t afford to drain the batteries on those! 

Fine. They’re off – AHHHH! why’s everything so bright?

Do you even KNOW how those things work? Your pupils will adjust in a minute. Meanwhile, you don’t need to see to take off the gloves, do you? Big baby.

Fuck you.

Your hands are gonna feel real light, and really weak, in case you don’t remember. Don’t forget to turn the gloves off this time.

They’re turned off. I need to sleep.

Not before you get the boots and the vest off. And power down the dis-entangler. You remember how hard it was to get ahold of one of those things? Months and months setting up fake accounts, going through all that bureaucratic bull AND the visit from BATF? You can’t afford to burn that thing out – saved your ass tonight, didn’t it?

I “can’t afford” any of this stuff. Meh. Maybe I should just go get a real job.

A “real job”? Doing what? Furthermore, who’s gonna hire your crazy ass? You run around all night beating the crap outta muggers and petty crooks.

I mean, instead of that. I could get a real job and go back to being a normal person.

“Normal”? You? Ha! You do realize you’ve been talking to yourself here for the last five minutes? You shot past “Normal” a long time ago, dearie. Not even a dot in the rear view mirror, is it? “Normal”, she says.

Yeah, I suppose you’ve got a point.

Also, you nearly killed that one chick.

That … that was a mistake. You know that. If she’d just done like I said and dropped the gun –

– Blah blah blah. Whatever. Bitch needed to die, if you asked me. You know that. She needed to die, the guy with the little friggin’ hand cannon tonight needed to die – and you let them both live, you big baby. Hell, the only reason most of these losers are alive now, is ’cause no one gave enough of a shit to get rid of ’em. 

I’m not a killer!

Really? What’s the difference between you and a killer, then? Intent? Sense of remorse? Every night when you go out, you do realize you’re armed to the teeth, yes? You got more firepower on you than most police precincts. Also, you know the ones you leave for the cops to clean up? You beat them pretty bad, don’t you? Almost, dare I say it, gleefully. How do you know they don’t die after you’re gone? You don’t know, and furthermore, you don’t really care, do you? 

… Leave me alone. I need to sleep.

Huh. Fat lot of good that’ll do you. You’re still gonna get nabbed by the real cops. Or shot, one or the other. “Waa, I wanna be normal!” Ha ha. 

LEAVE ME ALONE!

Whatever, dearie. Sweet dreams.

~~~

Cheryl rolled over and glanced at the clock radio, softly glowing blue numbers reading way-too-damn-early-in-the-morning thirty. She slept in the spare bedroom now, the one that was originally where they’d kept the little recording studio. Or, rather, she pretended to sleep there. Most nights, Cheryl just waited in the dark.

Worried: “Was that a gunshot I just heard?”

Angry: “She doesn’t care how I feel. Doesn’t care at all.”

Guilt: “I’m just letting her do this to herself. To me. To us. God, why am I such a coward?”

Resignation: “It is what it is. This is our life, now, I suppose.”

Wash, rinse, repeat.

When she heard the door creak open, then the soft click of it closing, Cheryl exhaled. She wondered how long she’d been holding her breath. The heavy steps across the living room floor, then into what used to be their bedroom, found her releasing the knot of muscles in her back. Cheryl wrestled with the urge to go look in on Francine. “No,” she muttered. “If she doesn’t care about herself, even, why should I care?”

Because someone has to.

The urge won out.

Cheryl tiptoed into Francine’s room. The gloves, the boots, the vest, the goggles, all of it, were scattered all around. She used to be so tidy, Cheryl thought. Gingerly, she placed everything into a corner, and looked back at the bed. Francine sprawled across it as if she’d been tossed there, like a rag doll. Still a mattress hog. Still looked so serene in her sleep. Cheryl felt the corners of her mouth turning up slightly, in spite of it all. Then she glanced at Francine’s feet.

Still had the toe tag on.

The smile evaporated. Dutifully, Cheryl reached down to untie it.

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

Allosaurus continues next time in Oh Boy! Exposition Time!

Re: Superheroes.

“Just before she puts her right boot on, every night before patrols, she ties a tag to her big toe. Just in case. Then, the socks, the army boots, the armored vest with the yellow cross-hair target. All her equipment, sourced from the black market. All of it, illegal. Most of it is the type of stuff that the ordinary public is not even supposed to imagine exists. We’re not supposed to suspect the existence of impact-amplifying gauntlets, or taser-whips, or stickybombs, for example. Francine, however, will regularly employ these gadgets at will, even using a device like the quantum dis-entangler (whose long term effects on the stability of the mind are not well known by anyone at this point) to cancel gravity and to become transparent to the EM band.  She’s not well. She’s not right in the head.”

“That’s good,” Francine remarked, reading over Cheryl’s shoulder. “I like the suggestion that I might not be all that sane. It’ll make people think twice if they see me in a dark alley.”

” ‘Suggestion’?” Cheryl remarked. She turned away from her laptop, snapping it shut. “Frannie, I don’t like this. I don’t like what you’ve gotten yourself into, I don’t like sitting up every night wondering if tonight’s the night you’re gonna get killed, I hate the whole damn ‘toe tag’ bit, I hate myself for, for enabling  you, and I hate this whole crazy crime-fighter business. It’s sick.”

Francine crossed her arms over her chest. Her face darkened.

“Don’t call me ‘Frannie’. Ever.” She glanced out the window. In the daytime, things looked nice, almost innocent. They lived on a picturesque street of antiqued brownstones and shady elm trees, a rent-controlled gentrified neighborhood with coffeehouses and bodegas all within easy walking distance. Francine felt it was all a lie. She rubbed her jaw. The scar still ached sometimes, especially when it was about to rain.

“If you hate it so much,” Francine whispered, “why are you still here?” Then, louder: “Go, then.”

Cheryl stood, walked behind Francine. She was taller than Francine; almost everyone was, almost everyone had at first glance taken her tiny frame for frailty. Cheryl knew better. She knew Francine’s power, but she also knew where Francine was vulnerable. She put her arms around her, resting her chin in Francine’s close-cropped hair.

“Someone’s got to look out for you,” Cheryl whispered.

Someone has to.”

—————————————————————————————-

The night was the special time. The day belonged to all those normal, well-adjusted folks, the ones who watched Real Housewives and listened to NPR (or Limbaugh, or whatever). They counted their calories and asked their doctors if Liprozap(tm) was right for them. They traded pictures with each other over the internet; cats with atrocious grammar and spelling, wanting cheeseburgers and laughing out loud. Daytime was theirs, and as far as Francine was concerned, they could have it. In the dark, in the shadows, she found she could live. She could sift through traffic on her motorbike like a stray thought. She could scurry up the sides of the buildings in silence, hovering in watchful patience.

Watching them.

Like roaches.

No, like something even worse, something lower.

Viruses. 

Feeding off each other – cancerous, photophobic little monsters and their prey. Validating each other in a circular dance of sickness and disease. She’d have to put a stop to it. She’d have to; no one else  could or would. No one else but Francine should.

No, not Francine, not Frannie, never again. Francine thought she knew it all; Frannie was just too scared, too useless to be anything but a victim. Those two girls didn’t make it out alive. Francine died when her sense of entitlement gave way to disbelief that the horrible … thing … had happened to her. Frannie rolled herself into a fetal ball and just gave up when she heard the sound of her own jaw breaking. The only one who remembered it all, the sickening thud, the stench, the violation, was the one who seethed with rage. The one who swore to get revenge. The one whose fear died. Who had no more use for rules, because she’d learned what rules were really for. Rules had let the horrible thing happen to her.

She had come out of a long dark tunnel as an acronym: Fearless Revenge Anarchy Nihilism.

F.R.A.N. watched and waited.

Soon enough, she found what she was looking for. A mugger. Classic. Big and tough in his own mind. The muggie was young and scared. Her bladder was probably emptying itself right now. F.R.A.N. swooped in with night stick ready.

WHAP.

POP.

CRUNCH.

There were teeth, and blood, and bits of skin. The mugger moaned and whimpered. The muggie was wide-eyed; terror mixed with admiration. F.R.A.N. could tell that the girl was fighting the shakes and losing.

“Thank you – ” the girl began.

“Don’t!” F.R.A.N. barked. She bent down and began zip-tying the mugger’s limbs together. “Call the cops. Tell them you found this guy. Then leave.” F.R.A.N. straightened  up and cast a glance over to the girl, who stood stock still and transfixed. “DO IT NOW!” she ordered. Like a  reflex, the girl whipped out a phone and began to dial, never once blinking. F.R.A.N. shook her head. “You are pathetic,” she growled.

“Wha … huh?” the girl stammered.

“Worst part of a bad neighborhood, broken streetlights, holding your purse all wrong, jewelry flashing. Do you want to be attacked?”

Slowly, the girl’s expression changed to anger. “Where the hell do you get off with this ‘blame the victim’ crap, you crazy -”

“Where was this sense of outrage when ‘bleedy’ here was about to slit your throat over a hundred bucks and a bootleg Louis Vuitton? Are you a tourist or something? How long have you been in this city?” F.R.A.N. shook her head, letting the fullness of her disgust play out. “I’ll save somebody like you once. After that, you’re on your own.”

The phone crackled into life. “9-1-1, please state the nature of your emergency,” it said. The girl looked down at the mugger, then the phone, then back up to F.R.A.N.

F.R.A.N. had vanished.

The girl’s eyes began to burn with the tears about to fall. She sniffled.

“I … there’s a guy here all beat up and bloody …”

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

Allosaurus continues in Step 1: Get a Lit Match and a Can of Gasoline.

You remember them, right? From math class, like the 2nd grade or something. Set theory. All of X share this property; all of Y share some other property; both X and Y have some other property in common. You illustrate this by drawing a couple of intersecting circles, with the space shared by both circles representing the subset where X and Y meet. Sometimes the point of commonality is pretty big: dolphins gots hemoglobin, people gots hemoglobin: all God’s chillun gots hemoglobin. (Preach, deacon Jones!) Not to mention sexual reproduction, growth stages, mammary glands, bad breath, etc. The space between can contain a great number of things. Other times, however, X and Y have very little in common. Monteverdi and Bow Wow Wow. Both make music. And, they’re not from America. That’s about it, unless somebody can point out the influence of Burundi drumming in Domine Ad Adjuvandum.

People put themselves into these little subsets and such. “I’m a Democrat.” “I believe that Hare Krishna is the answer.” “I’m down with O.P.P.” Whatever. There are points of intersection, of course, but we get so wrapped up in being this thing or that thing that we don’t get the commonalities. We stick others into these sets as well. Makes it easier to gain a sense of control over others. “What do you know about it, (insert bunch of people you don’t like here)?” Worse yet, there are times where we purposely confine ourselves to this set or that set, as if that’s all we are. All we ever could be. It’s a tool for defining ourselves, but it also limits us.

Make space. Spread out. Expand. Fill it out, get free. You know the drill.

I guess what I’m trying to say here, is, look. You are more than just whatever one thing you’ve been limiting yourself to. We all are.
We all spill out of our subsets.

 

 

 words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

The Lyceum at Mirror Lake.

The Lyceum was a church in Downtown Saint Pete, by Mirror Lake and the Library. Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures in that area, in preparation for some more serious work I’d like to do with a better camera, digital software,  and all that. In the meantime, I wanted to post this picture as it seems to speak a lot to some things that have been weighing heavily on my mind lately.

Things start out one way, built for one purpose; but as time goes on, they become re-configured and made over. This first church in Saint Petersburg becomes a banquet hall, and then a wedding facility.

Relationships, too, go through these changes, it seems.

There’s someone I care a great deal for. I have loved her deeply, and to an extant, rather illogically, for a long time. This relationship was … re-configured, long ago. What we thought was the original purpose of our relationship changed, mutated, into something else. I don’t react well to change, it seems, and I am still having a great deal of trouble with it. Even though it’s been years, I think I’m in the anger stage, or the bargaining stage, or something. But it’s like this Lyceum in a way. It’s still a thing of great beauty and purpose, but the purpose is changing, growing. The growth hurts, at times beyond what I think I can stand. Probably like shoring up centuries-old beams and walls puts a stress on the Lyceum, or like re-carpeting and re-tiling floors can seem like the most radical surgery. I imagine that if the Lyceum was a person, there were times that it would have cussed and thrown things and smashed plates and whatnot, too. Yet someone had a plan for making the Lyceum over into a new and glorious thing.

If it was a person , would the Lyceum have trusted the plan? Even if it couldn’t have seen the end?

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.