Cassie, Episode V (The Hangover Strikes Back)

We roamed the streets, howling at the moon with our eyes wet in hunger. Biting at each others heels in soft compliments disguised as insults, because neither of us ever truly outgrew the playground.

“Nice buzzcut, asshole.” Cassie snarled.

“I like your Ugg boots, where’d you get them? High school?” I hissed.

We were free of responsibility and chose to use that time unwisely. To be wild, untamable and young(ish)- daring strangers to approach us by baring our teeth in what they mistook as smiles and seeming friendly. Barking at cars and traffic that honked at us on lanes that said, B-U-S O-N-L-Y painted white in symbols we could no longer understand. A man tried to explain:

“Get on the sidewalk assholes! That’s the bus lane!”

“Says-Fucking-Who!” We howled back.

Scampering down West 4th Street with tails high as our moods, taking turns on a brown paper bag that was full of what makes the moon shine and absolutely nobodies business (especially if you were a cop.) A toxic duo of brash and lonely only looking for a home or good time; rabid and shameless, one with ourselves and the anti-thesis of decency.

Cassie ________ (something unlady like) and I __________. We didn’t think we were greater than people, but we were better than them for knowing that. Than thinking we were anything more than animals packed into a steel cage we call a city. As if there were any more reasonable way to live than with this wild abandon of decorum, to stop the facade of a cowards living we dress up as social etiquette. No leash, mortgage, bar or cute stranger could tie us down for long. We were free and beautiful, recruiting strays and mutts in downtown Manhattan for The Army of the Dog.

“Can we leave?” I asked Cassie when I caught her in a smoke break. “I can’t stand this yuppie bullshit they keep playing.”

“Hey, it’s your breakdown. Only right you get to choose the soundtrack ” She yelped, and we pawed our way up Macdougal.

It’s what I liked most about her that night and ever since. With Cassie I’d wouldn’t need a good reason for anything or have to think so hard. She never asked for a cause or explanation, and there was a certain comfort in that. A relief of not having to validate more than the surface. 

“I know a place,” She said. “You’ll like it. I know the owner, we can stay late.”

“Sounds suspect. If you’re going to harvest my organs can I at least call my mom first?”

“I already did. don’t worry. She said it was fine and gave me permission.”

A smile spread across my face, completely involuntarily. Because in under an hour Cassie had somehow cracked the code to my affections. I was beginning to like her more than an off-chance encounter, and already I could feel my brain making memories where I didn’t need it to. Mockery is the sincerest form of flattery, in my dark and immodest opinion, and is the default language of love for anyone suffering from the fatigue of compassion. Kindness in the world is necessary, of course, but usually forced. A due process that can feigned, deceptive or hollow. To be mean in a nice way requires a cold but tender honesty, a step too far or close and the intentions become too obvious.

Somehow Cassie threaded that line quite perfectly and turn me softer towards her. I would rather open my heart to whoever called my dick small over some sweetheart asking how my weekend was any day.

“That makes me want to take you out some time,” I said laughing, and a little bit too sincere.

“Somewhere nice?” She asked, smiling a wine soaked and bloody tooth grin.

“Like a Kennedy,” I shot back. She punched my arm, and we pattered down to the stairs to the 1 train.

There’s No Such Thing As Grown Up Goths or Hipsters (Only Adults Who Can’t Afford Nice Clothes)

Whenever a job begins to harp about how well they treat their employees, my first recommendation is to check and see if they’ve bolted shut the door. If not, then turn around immediately and run.

But if it is, because of some misplaced hope or your own financial obligations, then absolutely leap through the nearest open window as soon as you get the chance- regardless of what floor you were on. Any company that needs take the time and explain why it’s such a benefit to work there is because it isn’t, and you should be obvious to such a glaring and immediate red flag. Like a stranger you’ve only just met, who won’t shut up about what a good person they are. 

Although such a hyperbole should be taken with a grain of discount salt. I’ve never given that thought much weight and never follow it anyhow. To me a job is just a job- a place to go and waste some odd 10 or 11 hours if the traffic is good. Shoot the shit with Bill or Karen every time you pass by them to use the bathroom, cash a paycheck every other week and call it a day. And Who says something so immaterial as money has to be derived by what you think is meaningful or fulfilling? Maybe the reason they’re paying you is to do a thing nobody else wants to do? 

That kind of philosophy sounds more like a modern way of coping, a self-bargaining to not feel trapped by the lives we know we have to lead. It’s no coal mine or shoe shop in an unnamed third world country, but if you don’t justify it by the time you’re thirty, that nine-to-five will kill ya. 

And I’m no communist, so pour another spoon of salt if you have any left. Because a man’s got to make a living, the Dark Ages had God, and now Karen in accounting’s got a sense of accomplishment.

It’s The Stars Fault

The moonlight reveals me for what I am and I find it hard to dream, endlessly silent nights spent idling in the darkness of myself. No choice or having a say when Regret decides to visit on you, only a sudden thumping on the chest and lungs surging with anxiety. An avalanche of emotions I am not willing to let back in, but the knocking keeps growing louder the longer I ignore the door. Half-finished sentiments are inconsiderate like that. They never call ahead and show up unexpected, when you’re most vulnerable and, if anything like me, raving mad and stark naked.

“You should text her,” I hear in a whisper.

I know that, buy my voice still cracks.

I guess 4am is as good a time as any, better a modest breakdown in my own apartment than in broad daylight when I’m making a clown of myself with the guys on game night.

There’s such a small difference between a living hell and being bored, one degree and direction away from another weekend slamming beers and pretending to give a damn about the Yankees. I-Could-Be-Doing-Something-Else and other lies me and the boys tell ourselves. Like, if you tap a beer twice at just the right angle, it won’t suddenly freeze and spill over. And they do it, and then it does, well that’s just because you didn’t do it right, you dumbass.

My phone hums softly and chest leaps before I can read whatever it says. Do I look and become depressed, or glance and turn the color of the sun? Should I enter this devastating charade we call modern love? Neither, I guess, and in the absence of fact I remain neither and both; like Schrodinger’s text.

One day she could wake up and barely know me, or this may be the start of the end/rest of my life.

I know that, but my voice still cracks.

Two Is A Crowd, Episode III (aka How To Swim)

I can’t dance, I said.
And she said ‘It’s like swimming’
But I can’t do that either.
‘Because you get nervous, I bet.’

Because there’s so much under you
hell, monsters, angels, saints,
the deliman you stole two croissants from,
hell, hell, hell, hell, no floor, no life, no source
no footing, no knowing, nothing steady and

She hadn’t said a word.

‘What you can’t touch you do not understand,
so you panic. You can’t live when you can’t stand,
or feel. Couldn’t believe what won’t touch,
couldn’t be sure of what you can’t know.’

I nodded and hadn’t said a word.

‘Do you know what the secret to swimming is?’

I shook my head, but before Anna could answer,
a man came and swept her dainty hand in his.
Striding towards the dance floor with her in tow,
limp and swaying. I watched them sway their waist
and rhythms and bend and fold until they disappeared among the flow
sure and unhinged, let the strangers body press
direct

each sway wile her thing and pale arms flayed straight into the air,
buoyed to the earth by his hands along.

“Well?” Asked Sam. And I nodded.

“It’s letting go.”

When You Reach The Last Stop, Show The Grim Reaper You Have A Transfer Card (aka Subway Soliloquy)

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Somebody sucks teeth and the whole train sighs.
An afternoon turning evening ride home, ten stops away
from Wednesday rituals and the nonsense we do to get
over the hump of a work-week. Walking starts looking
like an option from all these delays. And if this
old ladies bag pushes me ONE MORE TIME I swear I’ll-

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
PLEASE-GIVE-UP-YOUR-SEAT
FOR-THE-PREGNANT
AND
THE-ELDERLY
IT’S-STANDING-UP-FOR-WHATS-RIGHT
AND-COURTESY
IS-CONTAGIOUS.

Sweating, hot and suffocating in 9 to 5 company.
Undone ties and tired eyes fanning magazines,
smearing makeup, grunting offhand conversations,
complacent and wailing for home. Singing to the rhythm
of train tracks and middle class disappointment.
ka-kun ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-
A Game of Thrones Ringtone plays and somebody sneezes.

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
FOR-YOUR-SAFETY-PLEASE
DO-NOT-BLOCK-OR-HOLD-THE-CAR-DOORS
WHILE-THE-TRAIN-IS
IN-THE-STATION.

Two men argue over who touched who first,
but it doesn’t matter and devolves to racial slurs.
Fingers, movements, violence vibrating in IF YOU COME
ONE STEP CLOSER
and voices getting louder
and louder and louder and louder and
more uncomfortable the longer neither of them backs down.
Then one says F**K THIS and starts reaching in his bag and

THIS-IS-A-SOUTHBOUND
SIX-TRAIN
THE-NEXT-STOP-IS
SAINT-LAWRENCE
AVENUE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Red floor, red doors, red rails, red everything.
Red advertisement on prescription acne treatment
on sale with Dr. Zimmerman, blood blushing his smile.
People running. Screams. Yelling. Shoving. I TOLD HIM
HE SHOULDN’T. I TOLD HIM. I TOLD HIM.
Sirens.

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.