Feburary Seventeen: Used to Dance

I used to swing dance at this old church in downtown Sacramento. They used to have drop-in lessons on Fridays. You could go and the instructors there would teach you the basic steps and a few moves to use that night. A jazz band would come on after the lesson and play for two hours while people danced. Some of them were really good. They taught different moves every week so you could improve by going often.

The demographic was mixed but slanted young. It was an all ages affair I think but there weren’t any kids there. There was typically twice as many girls as guys. There were teenage girls who went every week. They all wore dresses. They were all thin. They would smile brightly and mingle about and dance and mingle some more, their sweat causing their smooth complexions to shine a bit. Long legs spinning past long legs. They were nearly all white and seemed to come from conservative, well-off families. I danced with them. My hairy ape hand thrust towards them like I was offering them some invisible coffee cup – their delicate hands in mine. Kleine, was machst du mir?

I was there once with some Asian girl I met at a cafe (her name escapes me but her annoying mannerisms linger). I let Yellow Girl dance with whoever while I talked with a coy, long-haired eighteen-year-old who looked like the subject of some Renaissance painting. She drifted off to her friends after she sweetly shook my hand, smiling coyly. Then I found some broad I recognized from somewhere (still avoiding Yellow Girl) and she asked how my progress was. She was a tall, gawky chick with a poor complexion that was caked with makeup that didn’t match her skin tone. She informed me that my basic steps simply would not do (“no, no, no, no!”). This needs refining. As a neophyte, I obliged her. She had this way about her; she was very insistent and clearly liked to direct people. She would excitedly assert that things should be this or that way but she wasn’t abrasive. It’s kind of charming actually. She directed me to the kid who was teaching the class earlier. He was some tall (gay I think) dude who showed me the steps again (him teaching from girl’s side). He was really goddamn good. It turns out I was doing it all wrong. We talked a bit in the hallway and I thanked him and said goodbye.

A year or so later someone shot that poor kid and killed him. A stray bullet from some ghetto fight at the gas station hit him and he died. I was getting gas there the day after it had happened. There was a picture of him and some flowers on this vacant foundation of some never-built parking structure. I looked down at it and said “fuck” and a tear dropped out of my eye.

December Twelve: Bodies

I took a class at the community college. A persuasive speech class. A lot of crazy and lazy students giving speeches. A speech on “the ninety-nine percent” and some vague notion of solidarity. Trite socialist non-arguments and nonsense words strung together with stoned passion. A speech on free energy machines. Big oil killed everyone who tried to make one. You can harness the earth’s natural energy fields and power your home, you know, if big oil didn’t kill the inventors and steal the prototypes. Same reason they killed Tesla.

I was outspoken in class, questioning claims to knowledge that seemed baseless (there were many). I cracked jokes. I made the class laugh dozens of times while everyone else acted uptight and shy and stoic. I gave a speech attempting to dissuade my classmates from pursuing higher education and incurring the absurd costs. It seemed like a delightfully appropriate speech to give to a junior college class. I asked them if they wanted to be indentured servants to their student loans. I told them they would never be truly free or at ease with debt hanging over their heads. I told them what a Bachelor’s degree in a liberal arts subject is worth. A good speech touches the heart before it touches the head.

There was a girl I sat next to in class. She looks like she’s fifteen. Her face is beautiful and her body is petite and she is very short. She would bend over and I would catch a glimpse of her bright red thong. I wanted to fuck her immediately. The fact that I only showed up to about half of the class sessions and always showed up late made building rapport with her difficult. We would only exchange a few words here and there but she seemed to like me well enough. After class I said “what are you doing right now? Let’s go get (on campus) coffee.” She was happy to go and so we started walking to the cafe while shooting the shit, talking about our classmates whatnot. She was shy and a little weird but seemed like she was more interesting than anyone else in the class and, you know, I wanted to bang her.

I asked what she did for work. She’s said she’s a body snatcher. She pulls dead bodies out of houses and sticks them in a fridge at a funeral home for eleven dollars an hour. They typically send her alone. This isn’t a problem because the corpses are usually in bed and she can just kind of slide them out onto a gurney and into the van. The funeral home will send another employee if the body is over three-hundred pounds or if there’s a bloody mess to clean up. She is part of the clean-up crew as well.

Lots of people die on the toilet she told me over coffee. Old people mostly. When you’re having a heart attack, she says, it feels like you have to shit. So people sit down on the can and don’t ever stand back up. They do shit too but only after dying an agonizing death, bare-assed on the cold porcelain.

Lots of people commit suicide. It happens all the time. Your neighbor could be stringing himself up in his garage right now so when his girlfriend comes home she’ll find him hanging there. “Look what you did to me, you cunt” his grimacing face says to her in the wordless language of spite. She screams and cries and calls the police. They phone the funeral home who dispatches the body snatcher. This cute little girl shows up in a size zero suit jacket. She comes in and cuts the man down and wheels him into a van that she can barely see over the dashboard of. A family member of the departed, still in shock and stricken with grief fills out the paperwork with a shaky hand. “I’m sorry for you loss” she says. “Sign here.” Day in, day out. Hopefully enough people in our area died today so she can make at least fifty bucks. She looks at dead people every day.
She sees their mouths agape, their lifeless stares.

There are trends in suicides. A gun in the mouth is still a popular choice for older men. College students have recently begun inhaling helium through CPAP masks to die in a painless sleep. She’s pulled multiple students out of dorm rooms with CPAP masks rigged to helium tanks still on their faces.

She once walked into house to find a teenage boy who had slit his wrists. He cut deep into his arteries with a razor blade. Curiously, he had bandaged up his wrists and walked into his bedroom where he collapsed with his cellphone in his hand and then bled out. He apparently regretted his suicide attempt but passed out from blood loss and died. “When you lose blood, it calms you down and it gets you thinking a bit more clearly” she tells me. Wrist cutters usually make some attempt to fix themselves – it’s not uncommon. His parents were mortified. They didn’t want to give up the body. They didn’t want to give up their son even though he was clearly dead. They questioned her identity against all reason. Is your ID badge real? Why is the van unmarked? Who the hell are you anyway!? She says “You called us or the police did. We were given your address. We’re taking him to the funeral home.”Please don’t take my boy. My beautiful baby boy.

September Ten: Burrito Run

I went to get a burrito at the drive through. My radio was off and displaying the time via bright green diodes. My windows were down because, as of tonight, the heat has broken and the cool breeze makes me nostalgic for last fall. I was happy last fall. More so the fall before that. Summers are always miserable.

There was a woman in the SUV in front of me. She looked to be about thirty with a gaunt face that showed a lot of skull. Some women get this from abusing meth, others get it from unfortunate genes I think. She ordered three burritos but didn’t use the menu as a guide at all. She wanted chicken but the chicken burrito is just chicken and tortilla. It’s a lot of chicken too. Too much chicken? No such thing – how dare I. She asked for three chicken, rice, and bean burritos. Add cheese. Her voice was so harsh and entitled. I could hardly stand it. “You always forget the cheese” she muttered. She muttered this order inarticulately into a box to someone who barely speaks English. When she pulled up to the window she said “twenty bucks for three burritos!? What the fuck is this?” There was a delay, then she paid in cash in that violent way you see people pay fines with in the parking office.

I got my burrito and paid the beautiful, young Mexican girl. “That woman was a pain in the ass, eh?” I said. She smiled. As I pulled out of the drive-thru, a city bus stopped and blocked the exit. The driver then pulled up to let me through. It was kind gesture that I appreciated. I drove around the bus and went into the parking lot to eat and watch the Kung Fu class happening in the adjacent strip mall. Inside there was a kid holding what looked like an oversized garden hoe over his shoulder. His master was coaching him and he was listening respectfully. He did some kind of dance with the garden hoe over his shoulder. He didn’t swing it or use it as a weapon at all. He just sort of did some weird stances with it. After he finished, he placed it on a rack next to some spears and other mock Chinese weapons. Afterwards, he got into his tan Prius and drove away. I watched him as I devoured my calorie-heavy burrito. I heard somebody yelling on the other side of the lot so I drove over to have a listen.

A man sat alone on the bus stop bench. He was the same man the bus driver stopped earlier for but for some reason didn’t pick up. He was shouting but he was clearly alone and not on a cell phone. I listened. “Grandma, it’s fucking josh not me.” A pause. “Jesus was reborn once, I’ve been reborn twice!” He said this furiously. “I got kicked out of that bar. Josh was inside with his cousins and his sisters and friends and everyone. He would come out and we would smoke a pipe and tell him to sing songs. He always went back in… Fat Cats… Those fuckers wouldn’t let me in! I called the owner and that fucker just ignored me.” A long pause. “Grandma! It isn’t my fault. Grandma! They want him killed, they want his head. I’m here in fucking Sacramento all the way to Stockton they want us dead and I ain’t done shit to them. They fucking know me in Stockton. Grandma!” I could see him well. He had a goatee and looked to be in his thirties. He had a lot of cheap tattoos and was wearing a tank top and white tube socks that were pulled up from his work boots. He kept his head turned ninety degrees to the right, addressing Grandma who wasn’t there. I felt sad immediately. Not for him so much, but for his grandmother. She had taken care of him I assumed. She still does I’m sure. His parents are absent and he is schizophrenic. He loves her. She is of a generation that does not abandon their own. She is probably dull but loving. She doesn’t know another life and she keeps hers together as well as she can. She is a widow. She gives him some of her social security money. She lives in an apartment and he drinks and smokes and sleeps on her couch but she loves him and he loves her. He screams her name apologetically. He’s ashamed of what he is but he cannot help it.

I heard him screaming for forgiveness as I drove off. The light turned green as soon as I got to it and I went home. I got a Violent Femmes record in the mail today and it sounds good through my thrift store receiver. It’s powerful and heavy but has a hum on the phono input at high volumes. I like it though. My girlfriend used to say the Violent Femmes song ‘Add it up’ reminded her of me. Mostly the line “just one fuck” she would jest. Now it reminds me of her. I’m alone and the hippy girl with purple hair who I want to bang isn’t returning my text.

July Twenty-Nine: California Bureaucracy On A Hellish Summer’s Day

“Today is the day” I told myself. Time to give in and throw away the money required to get my driver’s license back. I’m leaving to go work in Atlanta in two days and I will be driving a rental car the whole time I’m there. The last thing I want to do it get arrested for some stupid bullshit on the other side of the country. I figured I didn’t have much of a choice but to get all of my fines and DMV shit taken care of today.

I drove to the courthouse. Passing through the metal detector, I threw my phone, keys, and money clip into a dog bowl to be x-rayed with incredible efficiency and I proceeded to walk into the lobby. A short, fat, female officer with a weathered face waved me through the metal detector in the most condescending way possible. She motioned to me as if I was a retarded animal who someone had dressed in a three-piece suit for their amusement. This gesture removed all doubt that she was, in fact, as miserable of a cunt as I had judged by her to be by her appearance. I gave her my best “I would love to kill you with a nine iron” look as I passed her and I walked into the room where it looked like people were queuing up to be raped. I stood in line, ready to pay my fines. One for speeding and the other for not showing up on my court date. The people in line with me ranged from merely low class to barely human. It was an orgy of rolls of drooping flesh, Chess Piece Black tattoos, and children drooling on their mothers’ FUPAs. There was one old man in a plaid shirt who looked like a decent person who probably got fucked by a cop for some obscure traffic law like “failure to stop at a red light” or something. I was embarrassed. I wanted to tell him that not everyone younger than him looked or acted like these people but, of course, I didn’t say a word. My pity for the old man ended abruptly when some cunt got on the intercom and in a lethargic, barely audible voice directed our attention to this new piece of technology that was sitting on the wall opposite of the roped-off line we were in. It’s a kiosk where you shove your driver’s license into the slot and it tells you how much you “owe” the government. You then stick your credit card in the same slot and it sucks that amount of money out of your account. There is no “are you sure?” dialogue or anything, you just put your credit card in and it spits out a receipt. It’s reminded me of losing a bet in a casino. My money was just gone. It felt violent. I took my receipt and walked into the lobby looking for someone who looked half-way competent to answer a question but only found the two cops looking bored by the metal detector. I asked the male cop if they would unsuspend my license now that they had my money and he told me I would have to go to the DMV to do that. There would, of course, be an additional fee for this. He was pretty nice actually and we shot the shit for a minute. It was just his coworker whom I wanted to see dead or horribly maimed or both. He told me to drive down to the DMV on Broadway and I could get my license back. I looked at him, suspicious of entrapment and said “but that would be a crime, right?” He laughed and said “I guess so.” He didn’t give a fuck. I liked him. I was parked right out front of the building and I’m sure he saw me get into my car and drive away.

There’s nothing quite like a California Department of Motor Vehicles. It is the closest thing to Hell that actually exists. It’s slow, it’s inefficient, it stinks, the employees are mean as fuck, and it costs a lot of money to do anything. Just being there is soul destroying. That being said, I had a good time. I walked through the doors and immediately some gruff, tall man with a white goatee put his hand on my shoulder. He told me he was in line. I figured he didn’t want to stand outside since the line was going out the door and it was hot outside, so I stood by him as if the line had a little curve in it. He said I should get back in line. I didn’t know what the fuck he wanted and I started to ask him what his deal was when interrupted me. “Just remember” he said. “I’m behind her (pointing to the woman in front of me) and in front of you (pointing to me). I don’t stand in lines. If you’ve been where I’ve been, you wouldn’t stand in lines either.” He clearly was referring to prison. I nodded as though I sympathized with him and stepped up to wait in line behind this woman who was short and fat as fuck. She was young (21 maybe) and had a face caked with foundation to cover her ghastly complexion. She wore giant sunglasses (inside, mind you) that made her look like a bug. She held an over-sized smart phone in her hand and began typing furiously on it. She was posting a picture of the DMV line on her Facebook with the caption “ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS!?” This amused me. This line was actually pretty short by DMV standards. I continued to watch her hack away on her phone. It wasn’t thirty seconds later when she started another message. “SOMEBODY HAS BAAADDDDDD B.O. IN HERE O~O.” I hoped it was me because I really did stink, but so did a lot of people in that line. I waited in this long, slow, snaking line and listed to the song “Spooky” on my iphone. There were a bunch of people in line that were disgusting here too. And there was an old man in a plaid shirt who probably will have his license taken away in less than five years. I once again felt the need to say something to him and I felt like an asshole for wearing headphones for some reason. The ugly bitch ahead of me hacked away a third message that was more snarky bullshit I’m sure. I only made out the word “SERIOUSLY???????” I laughed out loud a little bit at this one. Some black kids were having a play fight in the doorway and one of them threw water at the other, hitting an older Indian man.

I spotted an Eastern European girl of about sixteen waiting to take her driver’s test with two of her friends. She was wearing a Navy blue skirt and a light blue top. She had a beautiful face and lovely breasts and long, perfect looking legs. She wore black high-heels; one propped her up while the other lay carelessly dangling, almost perpendicular off her left foot. She was smiling. She was about to get her driver’s license. I hope she passed her test. I would allow myself to be enamored by her feminine beauty for a while then I would shift my attention to the pig-woman in front of me and I would become disgusted. Then I would look back at the lovely Slavic girl and let my eyes relax. Like going from a cold swimming pool to a hot deck, the contrast somehow made things more satisfying. When pig got to the front of the line she was told she would have to wait again for her number to be called. The actual waiting room is what you get access to once you’ve made it through the line. That is where the real wait is. The line is just preseason! The DMV employee at the head of the line told Pig that she would have to wait some more and so she stormed out. I’m sure another angry Facebook post ensued. I left the DMV for a while for some food and came back in time for them to call my number. The employee was curt with me. She didn’t believe I was number 185 until I dug the slip out of my jacket pocket and tossed it on her keyboard. I asked for my license back and she said I couldn’t get it until I paid the court the money I owed. I started to show her the receipt but she told me she couldn’t accept it. She said that I had to wait for the computer to show it as paid. I would just have to come back.

My license is still suspended.

July Twenty-Eight: I’ve Got No Words

I’ve got two drafts that I’ll probably never finish because other human beings might read them. One is about my affinity for inanimate objects and it exposes a private insanity to a degree that would be off-putting to people I know personally who read this. I don’t fuck pillows or balloons or anything; I would write about that because it would be funny. The other is about a girl and it’s all dada and shit.

My driver’s license is suspended because I didn’t show up to court. I didn’t want to. It seemed like a hassle so I didn’t do it. I still haven’t done it. I thought I should really save money but instead I bought a gun, a stereo receiver I’m not even using (I already have two), some records I won’t listen to but thought I should own, a box of shotgun shells I might use but have no plans on using at this time, and a jacket that I took to the tailor. I might not even pick it up when it’s done. I love how bad her English is. It makes me feel funny to listen to her talk. She thinks my jacket is too small but I like it too small. She asked if I wanted the sleeves and inch longer while holding a floppy tape measure to my wrist and I just stood there and delayed giving an answer because it was so funny. I don’t even want the jacket. It’s hot outside. Some people make you feel funny when they talk. These people are usually good talkers too and they are always serious about their subject. Like Roy Masters. When I listen to him talk about Jesus or how cancer is a spiritual disease or something, I just smile a crooked smile and bask in the funny feeling. Is it his voice? Is it the crazy shit that’s coming out of his mouth or the conviction with which he says it? It’s so hypnotizing.

It hurts when I pee. Instead of worrying I just listen to the Frank Zappa song ‘Why Does It Hurt When I Pee’ over and over and laugh. Goddamn it’s funny. It’s probably a UTI but it’s probably also Gonorrhea. I have to piss a lot and with a kind urgency and it hurts. There was another symptom in there somewhere but I can’t remember it now. I did make a doctor’s appointment and I’ll pee in a cup and I’ll be in another state when I get the results back saying I have the Clap. Then I’ll have to… nevermind. We don’t have to talk about that. That is sad. Sad things happen a lot. A horse died while running a race at Cal Expo. I wanted to go to the horse races but the season is over. I didn’t enjoy the fair at all because I just wanted to bet on horses. They’re so goddamn funny looking and I always lose money but feel like a winner. The fair was the same as it was last year and I went at about the same time on about the same day. They had the same jumping things and the bungee jump that I want to do but it scares me and costs forty dollars and the same rides in the same locations and food stands and things this year sponsered by heineken and the cenement is hot but my god, how pretty are teenage girls these days and how goofy are teenage boys. where do I find one of them? I went with a girl who wanted to go and I didn’t , once again, just like last year. There was some kid’s artword and this girl named Lydia (such a sweet name (I should have paid to fuck you on redbook)) made a quilt that was really fucking intrigate and it sweirled fadn dhad a coogd color scheme of purples of different hues. Yoga class in summer shchool at the communuty college, I think thats where i met one before and theyll thwo anfisn but rae damn youre pretty and weird. He name was Rea pronounced ray; rearea rea rea rear eae rae raaa rea read read rea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea ra era rea rae ra rea ra rea rea rea rea rea rear ear ea rea rea rea rea rea rEa REa rea Rea rea Rea Rea rea ea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea ea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea ea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea ea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea ea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea ea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea ea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea ea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea ea rea rea rea rea rea rea rea (editor repeat until page is full)