In, for my first Thunderdome, with Neon.
Looking forward to having my anal cavity made into something a little more malleable.
|# ¿ Feb 7, 2014 15:03|
|# ¿ Jun 18, 2019 17:46|
Somewhere in the those lower-east Berlin city streets, those selfsame wintery alleys that make a home to those both foreign and strange, Beltavic Russaso has the false front of his Neon Light Shop — one that used to advertise for Krypton and Xenon lights as well, but for some reason or other all those would-be German Supermen customers found the idea quite Kryptonitic indeed — active in hopes of attracting business. Signs line the walls and windows of the shop, a sterile interior, but the back room is a mess of PO invoices, ribbon burners and hand torches, inert Argon/Neon/Krypton/Xenon gas containers, colouring powders, an organ pipe display of tubes, his pumping system, and a makeshift bedroom where Russ has been spending his nights.
As each day passes, the shop that he’s inherited becomes more and more of a mausoleum for the time spent away from his wife and boys. And that sounds grim— poo poo, it is grim, but for the last two or three nights, Russ has found solace crouched under his worktable out back, listening through those tired thin walls to a couple argue relentlessly…
The woman comes in late each night (but not too late, Russ thinks) to the hotel room on the other side of the Light Shop, and always with the same intonation her lover/boyfriend/husband asks, Where were you? Did you have fun? Yeah? What were you doing? Who was there? etc. She tries to stammer on, stunned, that gorgeous face of hers on the cusp between youth and motherhood, expressing honest and pure affection but still she fails each time to reply. Russ has seen her leave the hotel to take up on the street car in the mornings, and he makes small talk with her whenever he gets the chance. Definitely a tourist, he thinks, Westerner. Russ has never spotted her man. He never seems to join her when she takes off in the morning. To Russ he’s just an American voice through a dim light in the distance.
This carries on for days. Long after closing, Russ sits cross-legged with his head pressed up against the wall, listening to the couple fight, the man’s voice building vitriol as time passes. When the woman speaks, she speaks low. He has to shut down the lights in his shop, kill their humming just to pick out her words. There’s a certain romance in the darkness of his shop, with her voice being the only stimuli to reach him. He gathers fragments of their conversation and begins to build the narrative.
Esther and Tom (John?) had married and fought and separated and tried again and this appeared to be a kind of re-honeymoon. Russ still hasn’t heard the exact details yet but it seems like TomJohn picked Berlin for work related reasons, perhaps it’s why Russ never sees him with Esther in the morning.
It’s on the tenth day of their stay at the hotel next door that Russaso finally gets carried away with it all. He finds himself anticipating the fall, the breaking of the glass, that explosive moment where she can take no more and will storm out into the streets and he can join her, take her in to his little cozy bivouac, not so much a sexual thing as the need for genuine company and closeness.
On the twelfth day, he closes up shop. He phones his wife and tells her it’s going to be another late night, that there’s just a behemoth invoice for a new club in Central. He’ll be home tomorrow morning for breakfast, he swears.
He’s sorry it’s been so long.
He sets himself up in usual spot and waits to hear Esther’s voice. It’s such a sweet voice, that even as TomJohn continues to raise his own voice further every night, she stays so soft he hardly hears her. She must feel so alone, he thinks, she doesn’t deserve that.
But tonight, he hears their door open and no voices ring out. He waits, he waits for hours but he hears nothing. He falls asleep and wakes up on the floor, no peep from the hotel.
He spends the next day tired, intricately moulding tubes and filling them one after another with electrodes, mercury and whatever gas was requested on the PO, and in between signs he takes breaks to eat sandwiches from the shop just across the street. Two customers come in and ask where they could get quaaludes but Russ doesn’t know, ludes fell out of fashion when he had just left his teens. He calls his wife but she doesn’t pick up. Again that night he falls asleep with his ear to the wall, having heard the door open and close but nothing else. He hasn’t been home in two weeks.
It’s the next evening, as he’s setting out with some purchase orders for Neon gas, that he sees her sitting outside, smoking on the sidewalk. She’s not gone. Her husband must be. The glass must’ve broken in silence.
Russ puts his back to the door and breathes slowly.
“Did your husband leave,” he asks, and she turns to him and gives him a sad smirk and nods, like, Yeah, I guess you could hear us arguing hmm?
“I mean— I don’t mean to intrude,” he follows up, realizing just how ardently loving creepy this whole thing has started off.
“No, he’s gone. It’s okay,” she says, and they both stay still, snow coming down but the marquee overhead keeps them dry.
“Did you need something? A cab,” he waits “… a place to stay…” but she doesn’t answer, and he begins to realize that he has nothing to say to her. What could he even tell her? Hello, I’ve been away from my wife for weeks just listening to you argue with your husband through the walls of my shop and I’ve convinced myself that I’m madly in love with you. Would you care to come in?
They wait in silence, Russ worries it might be uncomfortable but Esther looks relaxed.
“When you were young,” she asks, “did your mother or father ever tell you that, when you grew up, that it was going to be the little things, the tiny insignificant things, that made life the hardest?”
“No. Maybe, I don’t know. That… seems like a strange thing to tell a child, no?”
“No, it is, you’re right. My mother never told me that, but— it’s the truth, isn’t? You can’t ignore it, the minutiae, and if you start to work with it you find yourself so lost and absorbed in it all that everything is worse for wear anyway. I know you aren't supposed to tell your child the whole truth of it all when they’re young, but that’s the one lesson you never learn until it’s too far gone. Those little things,” she says, trailing off. She gets up and says goodnight to Russ before heading back in to her hotel.
That night, Russaso turns out the lights at his shop, lets the neon glow of his false front disseminate and die out, and walks through the snow on his way home.
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2014 23:58|
I am stupid and once I broke an ice machine at mcdonalds and everyone screamed at me and I almost went to jail and I also hate myself but most importantly I am in.
|# ¿ Feb 11, 2014 19:13|
LC Video Club
“Sir, this is my first day on the job. I really have no idea how to sell you this. I haven’t been trained at all and this computer is like, MS-DOS, with the green text, you see?” I said, turning the screen towards him.
“This is ridiculous. This is a business,” the man said. He was the first customer to come into Video Club today.
“You can’t be the only one working here today. Who can actually serve me?”
“The manager is in the back but she’s caught up-“
“So I can’t buy this,” he said, “this is bullshit.”
“Look man, it’s eleven o’clock in the loving morning. You are literally, literally, trying to buy porn at this time in the morning.”
“You little poo poo, don’t you loving judge me. This is prejudice, y'know that?”
“I don’t care that you’re gay! Okay? Guys Craving Five Or More Cocks is fine a film, no doubt, but I just legitimately do not know how to sell it to you. Take it, gently caress. Just take it.”
And bless him, because he took the DVD with him and left without saying another word.
I had just turned 15. I showed up early for my first day, thinking it would bode well with Ruth, the manager. She was middle-aged, and her features were so round and ill-defined that convex would be the most appropriate term to describe her. She was late coming to work and I was locked outside the store, where a letter was folded over and taped to the door. I thought it might’ve been for me so I opened it and peeked at it. It read like this:
'Ruthy you little slut is this what you do you? it is isn’t it this is what you do you take old men back to your grandparents home and gently caress them in your grandparents gross bed you are sick you. i cant believe you hosed other men besides me. what the gently caress is wrong with you. stinkyhole. im going to loving kill you. im going to loving come into your store and kill you you better watch your back' (sic)
I replaced the letter on the door and once Ruth had arrived to open the store she just put me behind the counter and scurried out back, saying she had business to take care of.
An hour and a half into my shift and she hadn’t yet left her office. Fortunately, after Aggressive Porn Man had taken his DVD, I was able to shift through the computer for a while and figure out the basics of renting out and selling films/videogames, etc.
The only items I couldn’t sell after the morning portion of my shift were the swords. The store carried them as some sort of exotic merchandise. Two customers had come in during the afternoon and tried to buy one, and I went out back to see if Ruth could help me out. Near her office I heard her talking on the phone.
“I can’t call the police, though. . . because he knows about the. . . I don’t know, I don’t think he will actually. . .” she said. Yikes. I knocked and she told me she was busy. Tell them to come back later, she said.
A girl came in around 4 o’clock, looking for the new Harry Potter game.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have it yet,” I said.
“But it’s out.”
“Yes, I guess so. But we don’t have it.”
“But, why? It’s out. It’s released.”
“Yes, but, we just, we don’t have it yet.
And thankfully at that point the phone rang and I excused myself to answer it.
“Hello, Video Club, how may I help you,” I said.
“Where the gently caress is Ruth?”
“No never mind I’m just going to loving come in.”
My shift was supposed to end at 5 and I hoped that I’d be out of there before he decided to come in and murder every single person in the store. Maybe I was exaggerating, I don’t know. At least being murdered would let me off the hook vis-a-vis the Harry Potter debacle.
“You know what,” I said to the girl “It says right here that we’ll have it in tomorrow. Just come back then and it will definitely be here.”
“Fine,” she said, and left. I started to clean up the counter, process some returns, restock shelves, browse titles of porn films — a friend of mine would later print out a definitive list of pornos that the store had owned over the course of its existence, and it totalled over 300 pages.
It was 4:45 when Angry Phone/Letter Guy made good on one of his promises and actually showed up, barging through the door.
“Hello,” I said.
“Where the gently caress is she,” he said.
“Why?” Please don’t kill me, please? I certainly didn’t gently caress Ruth at her Grandparent’s house, I swear!
“Where is she?”
“Out back. . . But, maybe you shouldn’t-“ but he was already headed back there. I did not want to be any more complicit in this than I already was, so I left the store and walked along the avenue of the tiny shopping centre where Video Club was, and on my way home a police car with its sirens blaring sped past me.
Later that night, my girlfriend of the time and I were sitting on a swing set, drinking beers. “So how was work today,” she asked.
“It was okay,” I said. “It was not bad.”
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2014 04:48|
In. I always swore that my midlife crisis would consist of me collecting every lego set from my youth. I like to think of this as a fun pre-cursor to the existential torture I'm going to feel then.
|# ¿ Feb 18, 2014 17:24|
Another Brick In The Wall
Flash Rule: Your story takes place at high speed, high altitude, or both.
“You spent so much time tryin’ to find me, Det. Disco, well here I am, boy.”
Tex was seated on his motorbike and he had the briefcase. A lone sun, just peaking above the city skyline, caused round little globules of sweat to form on Det. Disco’s little round face.
“What did you do to The Manager, Tex?”
“Oh, he’s doin’ fine. Just disassembled in the vault. All the parts are there, detective. He’s probably hollerin’ this and that in there right now, waitin’ to be put back together.”
Tex revved the engine of his bike.
“Give me briefcase, Tex. You aren’t getting away from this one.”
“Detective, now— do you really think I’m gonna go back to jail on Lego Island, back to bein’ cell mates with The Brickster? Not a chance.”
“Tex, wait! What about the baby!”
But Tex kicked off and sped to the TNT detonator. Making sure Disco was still in place, he hit the switch and set off the explosives: the clock fell; windows flew outwards in every direction; the pillars of the bank collapsed, their collective body sort of encircling Disco but leaving him entirely untouched in the settling dust.
“Disco, you’ll never find—“
“…Mon dieu,” the Director said “Okay, come in please, everyone come in.”
Years ago, the Director had been working part-time as a servant over in the Royal Night’s Castle. He had written smaller budgeted films during his spare time and moved out to Studio Set after he’d received funding for Bricks and Hearts (243AL) — a breakout petite rom-com/black comedy affair that would go on to be nominated for 5 Academy of Studio Set Film awards, and he himself would win the ASSF for Best Director, only two years later, for Rebuild Over Me (245AL). He had, he thought, earned his way up to where he could take a few big-budgeted summer blockbuster scripts and run them by the numbers, a quick pay check for all involved, and now here he was, filming the climactic chase/explosion/fight scene to Live Hard, Build Hard (Slated 247AL) .
Arnold (Tex), Frederick (Det. Disco) and Darl (camera man) all crowded around the Director. He had put on his extra weary face today, making his eyes look like mounds of darkness encroaching on two tiny dead dots.
“This is just, uh, not working,” the Director said “Darl, we need the shot to feel just a little bit more claustrophobic, ok? Is that ok? Think… Fish lens.”
“Did you see what I was doing there, boss,” Arnold said “I was taking the whole situation more metaphorically. Like, like it stood for something bigger, you know?”
“Yes, uh, that was good. I enjoyed it. Fred, can we just—“ and the Director and Fred walked away from the collapsed bank set.
“Fred, you, as Disco, you uh, you are tired, no? You, you do want to catch Tex of course, but—“
“Rooftop Camera is out of film,” Darl called out.
“But- yes, you’re tired. You need to keep in mind, that, Disco has had his epiphany by now. He knows that the job won’t save him, no? He—“
“The lights to the right of the bank got hit, gonna be down for a while.”
“What was I saying, again? Right, you as Tex… sorry, Disco, you as Disco have come full circle now, yes, and you would—“
Windows won’t slot back into the practical set.
Explosives aren’t going to be ready again until Friday at the earliest.
“back at home—“
Gonna need a new wheel for Tex’s bike, somebody call props…
“with a glass of milk—“
… or uh, who do we call for a wheel again?
“and of course with your loving—“
Looks like rain, we’ll have to delay another take until-
“What do you mean delay? What is it you can’t do? This is Studio Set! You’re supposed to be able to do anything, and now you tell me that rain will stop the shoot? No. Go, we do it again. Go, get in position and we roll. Go! And get Arnold a new set of legs, his look atrocious!”
And so they shifted back into place, the camera man quickly replaced Arnold’s legs with a new grey and black pair, and they began to roll, the set still in ruins but the director didn’t seem to notice.
“You spent so much time tryin’ to find me…”
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2014 05:10|
It's only the ceiling fan keeping you from falling asleep.
|# ¿ Feb 25, 2014 02:51|
Wounds licked, semester finished, beers cracked. In.
|# ¿ Apr 15, 2014 18:27|
|# ¿ Jun 18, 2019 17:46|
Before he died, Sanders Noonan insisted that his service take place in the church above the group home in which he lived as a child. There would be no traditional funeral — as per his request, there would be only an Irish wake, followed by his cremation. “Life,” he said, “even the snuffing of life, is a momentous occasion. Let the grief come later, let the grief come when the bereaved are all alone with some privacy. And for god’s sake, make sure everyone leaves my wake drunk enough to go home and make love.” They fought him over having an open bar in the church itself but on the day of, a small catering company was led in through the back and filled a pew nearest the organ with bottles of vodka, brown spiced rums and whiskeys.
Crowds congregated through the the parking lots, the church, the steps, heads of young and old hair stood underneath a contemporary marquee that hung lightly above the porch to the church. They funnelled in, but not into seats, choosing to stay standing and socialize with one another, making the whole thing much more casual than any of them had anticipated. An hour after after people arrived and drinks upon drinks were served or spilled into the old oak floor, Sanders’ daughter Elizabeth, having herself just finished a whiskey served neat, stood at the pulpit.
“Excuse me,” she said, “Excuse me.”
Some bodies near the bema turned and began to listen to Elizabeth. To others her voice got lost in the crowd and kerfuffle of the party.
“I’m sure my father would be a little disappointed at… well, at anything less than me standing up here for hours, telling his stories that I’m sure you’ve all heard time and time again.”
The crowd laughed.
“But he also wanted all of you to get very drunk, and I’d like to get very drunk, that’s for sure — I’m already halfway there, so, I’m going to keep this as brief as I can, because it looks like his wish is going to be fulfilled. My father was a bit of a silly character. He was born here, lived right underneath where we are now, but he spent years out east working up and down the coast as a stevedore. I see some of his old friends here, from those days, and I want to thank you all for coming so far west…”
In back near the porch, two old co-workers of Noonan’s finished a shot of rye while Elizabeth delivered her speech.
“I—I gotta piss,” one said.
“Then go to the bathroom.”
“There ain’t no bathroom.”
“Nah… You’re kiddin’ me.”
“You got any idea how old this place is? People mustn’t a had bladders back when this place was built.”
“You don’t think people had bladders back then.”
“Who knows? Evolution.”
“… Yeah. Okay. Piss in that plant, then.”
And so he stumbled and pissed into an old potted plant. No one seemed to take much notice, but a young woman ran back and threw up into the same potted plant almost immediately after it was laced in urine.
“… but it was when he came back here, back home, that he told me he was happiest. He spent 30 years managing the publishing press and I can’t remember a day he didn’t come home having concocted some silly prank. He once told me he convinced T.S Eliot over the phone that Faber & Faber was being all bought up by his tiny company. ‘Noonan trumps Eliot’, and I think I believe it.”
Two couples retreated into a confession booth and started having sex, moans echoing out and upwards into the church. Elizabeth’s mother seemed to be the only person visibly mourning during the eulogy. She was smiling but still crying in a pew close to the pulpit.
She and Sanders had met during his stint out east, when she was an underpaid bar dancer in Portland. Sanders, each night for a week straight, came to the bar and drank and tried to charm her. On the seventh day, she relented after some drinks and went home with him. She woke up on a barge headed back towards Virginia and that was fine by her — hell, anything that wasn’t Maine was fine by her. Within two years they had a daughter on the way and Sanders was convinced that if he didn’t give up a life on the ports he’d drink himself to death before Elizabeth was born. So they moved back west, to where Sanders grew up.
“Sweetie,” her mother said up towards the pulpit, “they’ve all stopped listening. I think you can quit the eulogizing.”
Elizabeth looked around and sure enough she lost the crowd to the revelry that was happening throughout the church — dancing, fondling, kissing, a group of stevedores making a toast to Sanders before downing a shot of irish whiskey, co-workers from the publishing press, clearly out of their element, trying to socialize but failing. All was fine enough until a woman Sanders dated when he was very young knocked over a lit candelabra onto the liquor pew and the fire engulfed it almost immediately.
A majority of the crowd made for the exit and a select few tried to find a fire extinguisher but to no success — the place was as old and ill-equipped as the stevedores thought. Elizabeth was the last one out. She grabbed her mother and two bottles of vodka that were left close to the porch of the church. She turned at the doors and saw the fire creep towards her father’s body.
Elizabeth approached the catering crew with a request once everyone was safe in the grassy field outside the church. They returned from their van with shot glasses and water, enough to turn two bottles of vodka into a shot for every person present. And so they were handed out, firetrucks off in the distance, racing towards the church but far too late anyway, and Elizabeth stood on an old tree stump to address the crowd.
“Somewhere Sanders is looking at all this, having a beer, and I can guarantee you he’s laughing at the whole thing. ‘Saved on the cremation’ I’m sure he’d say. So, cheers to that.”
|# ¿ Apr 21, 2014 04:47|