But I’m Still Right Here…

“As below, so above and beyond, I imagine – drawn beyond the lines of reason. “

Tool, Lateralus

 

Death

I don’t necessarily fear death. Not in the sense that maybe one should. I know it will happen. I’m even okay with it to a certain extent. Part of life after all. If anything I fear dying too early. Dying before I’ve done anything at all. My anxiety about the whole thing keeps me up at night. Fuels my own perpetual destruction and decent into madness. I complain about working nights, but the truth is that I have always been up late. One of the reasons I first took the over night job. Figured if I’m already up I might as well get paid. Stupidity. For those of us who know. There is a difference between staying up all night watching movies and staying up all night killing yourself. Things only got worse from there. Because I let them. I let the fear seep into my soul to the point that I craved it like a drug.

There were nights. There are still nights that I relapse. That my mind digs in deep to the fear and madness. I have nights that I fear that I won’t wake up. Close my eyes and this, that was it. I fear the idea that I won’t be able to see my daughter grow up or that I won’t see my wife ever again. I fear their lose and their pain of not having me there as much as I fear the same for myself. I fear that I’ve wasted too much time doing nothing when I could have been doing more for them. For myself. It is a cycle that some nights I can not break and because of it I don’t sleep. My fear of death is irrational.

I fear these things because I will miss them. Because I am awake. Because I am here. But I’ll be dead so I won’t even know that I am missing them. I won’t know what or how they feel or what they are doing. It is not as though once I’m dead and gone I will have feeling or thought. But the fear tells me no this is not how it will be. I should be thinking selfishly, but I can’t about this. I know that they will be fine without me. I also know neither would ever say it or at least I hope. They are two strong and amazing women. They don’t need me but in truth I need them.  This rationalization doesn’t wipe away the fear because what if?  What if I am stuck on the sidelines missing every moment? Missing every chance to tell them I love them once again? What if there is a heaven and a hell?

Personally I don’t care if either or both of them exist. Either place could only be one in the same with different surroundings. Neither place would contain the things I will miss the most in this world. A fascinating fact that I can’t out run, can’t find comfort in, but only dread. Stoking the flames of my fears. There could be something else beyond life but it would only torture me with the thought that I am missing so much once again. That all of this was for nothing. Honestly when I die I want there to be nothing. I hope there is nothing. I want to rest for the first time in my life I’d like to rest. As I grow old I hope for immortality, I hope for more time to avoid all this what if, though the older I get the more I know it isn’t so. Do I fear death? Sort of, but really I fear growing old. 

 

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One Year Ago… From The Heart…

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What a year it has been… a lot has gone down… a lot has been said… a lot of things have changed… I grew a lot in this year… from who I am to closer to who I want to be… I could be a selfish ass and take all the credit… believe me I want to be… but no…

No… all this is thanks to you… yeah you… each and every one of you for reading… liking… commenting… and being who you are… you have all helped me grow as a person… as a writer… as a father… and as a friend… you have all been there for me when I was down… lifted me back up when I needed it…been there for me when I didn’t think I could go on… I could name names… but that wouldn’t be fair… it has been everyone… thank you… from the bottom of my heart… Thank you… 

With my heart filled with joy… here is to another year… a year filled with stories and poetry… broken thoughts and shitty advice… because we all know you are here for the pure enjoyment of words and not for me to kiss your ass… : )

Yeah… I know none of this was dark… but you all bring out the best in me… damn you… 

With all the love a black heart can come up with… thank you…

Layne Ambrose 7/29/18

 

(I’m sure you thought I was going to sell you something… But that is tomorrow… this is today… I think I have links… if I don’t… oh well… I’m just glad you are here today… maybe it is time for a face lift?… speaking of… Great album by Alice In Chains… just saying… best tracks… It Ain’t Like That or Sunshine… but those are deep cuts… We Die Young… great opener… I’ll shut up now… if you promise to listen… )

It’s A Funny Story… Even If It Isn’t…

Trying something new… Imagine that… I haven’t written anything new outside of poetry and the new story I am working on… Sadly that isn’t for the website… Redoing my next book… well kind of… I had this whole theme I was running through the whole book… I didn’t like it… not the story, but the theme… or the idea… shit happens… so I am overhauling a few things… and none of this matters… 

Recently I have decided that I’m really into boardgame boards… it is for an art project that I have locked in my head… so I went to my local Goodwill… and picked up any that I found interesting… one of them happened to be the Match Game… or so I thought… what I actually got was some came from the 70’s called The Ungame… yeah I had never heard of it either… more about the history of the game here… well the point of the game is to start a conversation or get you talking… the concept is just lame enough that I am in love with it… so at least once a week… I will be posting a question from the game… there are a fuck ton of questions… I will give my answer and then it is your turn… yeah… we are going to play a little game… 

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This Week’s Question

What activity do you engage in that involves all of you: your mind, your body, and your soul?

(Softball question I know… It’s the first week…) The most obvious answer for me is writing… I put everything into this… my books… and my projects… so I’m not going to waste your time telling you something you could have guessed…So I am going to have to go with the thing that takes more of me than writing… My daughter… 

Mind… my daughter tests me every day with her three million questions about the same thing… or when she says… “I show you… I show you”… when she wants me to hear her sing… as I am trying to put out a grill fire… life be damned… stop and look at me… or when I have to hear Twinkle Twinkle Litte Star one more damn time… when all I want to do is listen to my favorite song… 

Body… whether she is digging her tiny little feet into me like I don’t exist… or swinging her arms at me like a crazed mad woman when she doesn’t want to leave the park… making me look like a kidnapper or awful person… or screaming into my ear to the point that it rings… because why not… “You’re so funny”… No, I’m so deaf now… 

Soul… because I would give her mine without a second thought… even if it was to add only one more second to hers.. she is one wild crazy ass child… but every moment with her is worth whatever it cost… I don’t think the meaning of life is to create life… but I do believe that she has become my purpose in this world…

 

Can’t wait to hear your answer to the question… Even if it is writing… what are you working on?… Until it is my turn again… check out my wares at AmazonThreadless… 

 

Need Your Help…Special Weekend Post

Chewing on Glass needs your help… I need a soul transplant… anyone willing to trade should know that the dark cloud doesn’t roll on through over here… just kidding… I do need your help though… each and every one of you… 

I need your help with tags… I know Soren and Fox… found my blog because of the tag Dark… I’m not looking to spam a certain tag… or take over a random one that has nothing to do with my writing… 

What are some good tags?… What do you look for in a tag?… Are my tags just fine and I’m obsessing over nothing?… How did you discover this blog?… Are tags just a waste of time?…

I feel like I am missing out on finding new readers and things to read because I am focusing too much on one outlet… rather than expanding my horizons… if you have any suggestions on some blogs I should be reading… that would be awesome too… (Very aware that is what Reader is for… but I’d rather check something out from you than an algorithm… as helpful as they may be…) 

If you have the time… I’d love to hear from you in the comments… and thank you for taking the time… 

 

Remembering What It Is To Understand

I remember everything about September 11th. Not the events so much as the day. I remember watching as my mother slept next to the phone. As she waited for the call that could send her away. I remember her uniform ready to go sitting on the kitchen table for days, for weeks after. I remember understanding, but not about what was going on, on the screen. As the days passed I remember watching as everything went back to normal, but nothing ever did. I remember when she finally had to leave. Promises of only for a few months. This will be over quickly. Just like last time. Last time I was a child. Last time I only knew she was gone, but not at war. This time though. This time was different. Maybe it is never different. Maybe she did the same things last time. Maybe I was just too young to understand. No, this time as she left I got to feel every ounce of pain and fear.

This time as I read her letter. This time as the tears hit the pages. This time I had to accept that she may not return. That my mother may never come back from this. No reason was given as to why. Only words of love. Only thoughts that she always loved me no matter what. Hopes that everything will be okay. Prayers that she would return from this and all would be well.  A day of sadness and then everything has to go back to normal. Something we have been through. Something we have to go through as Military children. The stupid parades, the ridiculous slogans, and that fucking flag. That flag that gets waved around as though it means so much to them. Draped across the back of their trucks as it floats in the wind. A cloth that signifies more than just where you live. A stitched-together history we take for granted. When they say they died for our freedom they don’t even know what that means. They aren’t just people. They aren’t just soldiers. They aren’t just tools. Pawns to move around to defend our freedoms. They are our parents, our mothers and our fathers, siblings, children, they are so much more than a “We Support Our Troops” sticker.

I got lucky my mother returned. Many of them did not. Many of them came back different. When I moved here to Texas.  I saw firsthand those that gave it all. Military City they call it. Passed by every day by legless men, scarred woman, and damaged people. You never notice them right away, but you notice them among the whining, bitching assholes they walk beside. The ones that say we need to get in there and kick some ass. The ones who think that war is easy. The ones that don’t understand that nothing about this is easy. The ones who will sit on the sidelines and clap. How easy it must be to do that. How easy it must be to never understand what it means. How blessed they are to never have to understand war, death, or sacrifice.

I watched a young man struggle like a child once while taking out the trash. Struggling to understand why the wheels got stuck. His mother running over to help him. A vision, a glimpse into something I assumed was a handicap. Later my wife would explain that, that young man was more than handicapped. He had gone to war. Right out of high school. Wanted to fight for this country. Wanted to help any way he could. Until the IED went off and took more than his chance. You couldn’t see the scars from a distance. You couldn’t tell what he went through until you got up close. Close enough that you didn’t want to know. That knowing was more than anyone should ever know. Nineteen now he was trapped in his body. Trapped trying to understand where he stood now in life. Forever destined to live at home, to live like this. He got a job at the local restaurant my wife worked at. Amazed, happy, proud of him until my wife explained more. Unable to do the most basic of things he was there as a favor. A charity to give his parents a break. An attempt to give him something to do. The brain damage he sustained left him childlike for now and forever. I’m often asked why I work so hard. I work so hard for those that can’t. For those of us who sacrifice more than their time.

Years later the battle rages on. Years later there are no answers to the pain we all went through or still go through. We got him. But what did we sacrifice for one person? What justification do we have for our actions of retaliation? They say that war is a necessary evil and they are right. War is evil but necessary? Do we need it? Couldn’t there be another way? Are we really so broken that only war could be the only fix for a tragedy? We police the globe with our mighty fist. A fist controlled by those that will never know what it takes, what it feels like to make up that fist. We have power and influence, and as I watch it being used to bully others into what we want I am reminded of all this shit. All these feelings that there is more to the equation than numbers, than opinions, and thoughts.  A conflict that not only rages around me but inside….

Fuck the Lemonade and Chewing on Glass present: Lemonade and Glass

This collaboration is a bit unusual… well not really the project itself but the conception?… one night,  Lemons and I were suggesting songs back and forth for several hours… spur of the moment… no real order… no massive amount of thought… and then it came to me… was there any thought to our selections?… did we have our reasons for choosing that song at that exact moment?… pretty basic idea… some of the best always are… we shall see…

With this first month, we decided to pick ten songs each and kind of figure out what this is as a whole… being on different sides of the earth and of different brains, we are doing our best to make this equally our own… a blending of styles and thoughts… a trip beyond the song… a personal level buried underneath the music… each song means something different to someone else… that is what I wanted to explore with this project…

This night, which Mr. Glass mentions, was a great night. Lol. Mr. Glass was my glue that night and I am super grateful, not just for the time spent with a friend while I was in a shitty place but because something positive has now been birthed from it…

As we have found out, we have a lot of similarities not just with our love of ellipses… but also music. And even though we have similar music tastes there is a lot of bands and songs that neither of us has heard that we have now been introduced to… which is awesome! Any growth to our playlists is excellent.

We have also learned that, as we both like some “sexy” songs, neither of us enjoys listening to them together. #laughingemoji So, if you are here hoping for us to be “bringing sexy back,” you may want to bail now cause that is not what we are here for Ward Clever (aka Mr. Clever… if you’re nasty) and Mel (Melons… if you know what is good for you)

Let’s get this show on the road, Mr. Glass…

Totally forgot… this is all on Spotify… under Lemonade and Glass…  apparently, I can’t copy the link… so you will have to do it old school… on the Spotify app… all apologies… 

5-3-10-4 by Alkaline Trio (Glass)

I actually had three different songs circled in my mind for my Alkaline Trio pick… I knew I was going to pick one from them… which became this long listening fest of which one?… Steamer Trunk is my favorite song by them and I also love My Little Needle as well… Then I played this one and I felt that this track best describes my views on work… a common theme in my writing and my life… this line  “I’m so thankful that I’m not one of them,”… really hits home with me… Before I started working so early… I used to think well I’m glad I don’t do that… Then I did… and still, I think well I’m glad I’m not so and so having to do so and so… because there is always this idea that things could be worse… even when they are already at their limits… again see my writing for any more explanation… haha…

 

Fallen Leaves by Billy Talent (Lemons)

I’m not a huge fan of Billy Talent. Actually, to be honest, I couldn’t name any of their other songs… I’ve tried listening to them. They just don’t do it for me. But this song… there is just something about this one… It was one of those songs I fell in love with the moment I heard that beginning riff. And then, my brain said, “play this over and over and over again until you hate music.”

I also picked up the lyrics way before I stopped to think about the sad tale they weave. I have a complicated relationship with song lyrics…

My fav part to scream in the car (my car scream part) would be “I never once thought, I’d ever be caught! Staring at sidewalks, hiding my track marks! I left my best friends, or did they just leave me?” then it breaks back into that first riff… *enters bliss*

It has a vocal quality that reminds me of old school punk bands for some reason which I love trying to mimic.

A lit of the reasons I fall madly and deeply for a song boils down to the singing… the way the words and accents and notes feel on my tongue… in my throat…

This is one of those songs for me… It feels good to sing. And that is why I picked this one.

Go! by Killer Mike (Glass)

I was never big into rap when I was growing up… not because I thought it was bad… more to do with that it was popular… and also at this time when I was growing up rap had become basically a joke of itself… a parody… had I dug in deeper than the surface at that time I could have found things to like, but that wasn’t what rap really was at that time… it was all about hoes and bitches and exploitation of women… of a culture really… so I never got into it… enough to say I liked it… Always exceptions… Outkast has been a favorite of mine since I heard B.O.B…. but as a whole, I wasn’t a fan… Fast forward a decade later… I’m watching Bill Maher and here sits this guy… Huge… big bear of a person…. Wearing a t-shirt… if you haven’t seen Bill Maher’s show… he often has all kinds of people on his show and they are always dressed up… Killer Mike was like Nah fuck that… I’m going to be me… That had me right there… he expresses his views… and the whole time I am shouting at the TV… “Thank You”… something I normally do while watching that show is shout at the TV… a habit that my daughter has also started… by the end of the show… as Bill goes into the last word or whatever… the end segment is called… All I wanted was more Killer Mike… Who is he… they said he was a rapper… etc… google searched his ass like a broken-hearted stalker… I, of course, ran into Run the Jewels first… I could choose so many of their songs for a playlist but I wanted to spotlight what I think is the best part of that duo… Killer Mike… a genius in my opinion… a masterful poet… just an overall great mind of this generation… I don’t get in awe of a lot of people… celebrity type… I get it… they are people, but if I ever met Killer Mike… I might giggle like a school girl… and I think that is because he is not a celebrity… rather just an amazing person… favorite line in this song… “Got AK wordplay might put a pause on your life…. Just like a comma bitch”… I’m a real big fan of commas….

Mr. Brightside by The Killers (Lemons)

Oh man… this song kills me every time.

I love The Killers. This will probs not be the last time they show up in L&G (sorry, Laynes!)

It is such a story song. Jealousy is not an affliction I have suffered from (because I trust WAY too easily) so I tend to place myself more with the female of the story (not that I am a cheater either but, for some reason, cheating is not what my brain hears when I listen to this song)

It is so sensual. I know… I know I said no sexy but this song is not straight up in your face sexy… I think… is it… lol no it’s just me.

“It was only a kiss” and then repeated over and over again. You can feel the pain, this mister is really trying to convince himself… And makes me feel the feelings.

I’m of the mind that, even though lyrics are written and the artist who wrote them had something in mind when writing said lyrics, that song… those lyrics can mean something different to the listener.

That being said… it is actually obvious what this song is about, but my brain says different.

Car scream for this song is basically all of it, but definitely the ending.

I picked this one because I wanted something slightly pop-ish in here. Not that I see The Killers as pop, but they are a little more mainstream… aren’t they?

Jealousy is a terrible thing and it can destroy relationships. Also, it can just be your spidey senses tingling… Now, I’m just rambling… Next!

Taste In Men by Placebo (Glass)

Do you hear the fucking bass line?.. the bass and drum combo?… not sure I need any more reason to love this song… maybe the interesting lyrics… which growing up were very odd… growing up in an environment where people weren’t allowed to be themselves… especially gay… this song was very rebellious… felt almost dirty to listen to at the time… to blast in the car and drive around listening too… One of the things that I love about Placebo is their double meaning lyrics… or themes… this song is could easily be about a woman… or a man… great track… and the bass line… the drums… so good…

Mandy Goes To Med School by The Dresden Dolls (Lemons)

This song makes me click and strut every time it comes on. I turn into this swinging cabaret dancer in my fucking car, I love it.

I love The Dresden Dolls and I love, love, love Amanda “Fucking” Palmer. I have posted about her and her songs before.(Here) But this song just makes me dance.

The lyrics are… well… Let’s just say, intake this journey with Mr. Glass, I have realized that I have a difficult time in deciphering the meaning of lyrics, but that is part of the point. It is about the personal connection to the song.

This is another “upbeat melody/dark AF meaning” sort of songs. There are lots of hints towards abortion in here, and not just abortion but the dodgy “backyard” abortions which used to be a problem. (I say “used to” because I live in Australia, in a place where abortion is an easy thing to organize and it is even relatively cheap and the most you deal with is normally just one random crazy lady standing out the front screaming at you… I realize this makes me sound like I have had a tonne of abortions, but really I have always been that friend who everyone seems to want to take as support to their abortions… which makes sense… Cause I am a fucking nice person.)

I would make an educated guess that AFP is totes pro-choice so it wouldn’t shock me if I am correct here. With lyrics like “I’ve been feeling dull as a coat hanger” and “Put away those pliers, honey. Trust me ’cause I know the options. How about a nine-month-long vacation. And a two-foot coffin” … it gets dark…

So, despite (or because of) the dark depths of this song, it goes on the playlist. Car scream is probs the lyrics up there…

That was only 6 out of 20 songs… I think we might have bitten off more than we can chew… haha… Look out for more posts this month… that pertain to this subject… As the project goes we hope to get to fifty total songs on the playlist… If you have Spotify you can listen to the playlist as we add more songs throughout the month and the coming months… Lemonade and Glass… 

Let us know what you think… What are your favorite songs and why?… hope you enjoyed this… 

Purgatory Part 2

“You know who I want to hear from?” After a very long awkward pause the voice continues, “I would like to hear from Franklin. Would you like to share today Franklin.” “It’s Frank dipshit,” the man riddled with bullet holes stands up. “You don’t have to stand up Franklin,” Sylvia says before laughing. Frank slams his body back into the seat, “Do I have a choice?” “Of course you have a choice. Being here isn’t punishment. Being here is to help you.” Frank shifts in his seat, “Yeah okay cause it sure as hell feels like punishment. We either talk or we have to go sit out there with the rest of the freaks waiting to come back in here. Not a whole lot of options for us here. Despite her smart ass comments I’m with Sylvia on this place. This is all bullshit, but I want out of here so what do you want to hear?” “Why do you think that you are here?” the figure asks him like he just volunteered to die or that in some way this was all optional. Thanks for taking twenty plus bullets to the chest and coming here. Would you mind filling out a small survey? Would you recommend this place to a friend? I’m starting to agree with Sylvia more and more myself. “I am here because those pig fuckers shot the shit out of me.” Frank tries to grab his shirt to show the figure his bullet holes, but he can’t and he quickly gives up. “There has to be a reason they shot at you.” “Yeah cause I was trying to get a little cash for my family.” “Oh yeah that’s real rich their Frankie. That totally justifies the reason you tried to rob a bank,” the business man blurts out as he shakes his head in disbelieve. “Fuck you old man. I did what I had to do to get by.” “Well what you did was against the law that’s why they shot your ass.” “Howard please let Frank speak you can have your turn when he is done,” the figure explains. “I was simply commenting on what Frank was saying.” “The freak said shut the fuck up lard ass.” These people are insane and I try to stay calm through all of it. I want to start getting upset too, but I know that it won’t help any of this. Frank starts back up with his story, “Anyways I took a bullet or two and now I’m here paying for my sins or whatever.” “Is that what you truly believe Frank?” The figure asks him. “I said it didn’t I? So yeah that’s what I fucking believe.” Frank looks over at Sylvia, “You think the freak’s got a brain under there? Cause he is pretty stupid.” Sylvia still isn’t talking and pretends that Frank isn’t even talking. “That’s not a very nice thing to say Frank, but are you done?” “Yeah I am.” “Can I say a few things?” “Like I give a shit,” Frank crosses his arms. “You really need to stop holding in all this blame and anger towards others. Realize that you might be the cause of your own misfortunes. No one told you to rob that bank or take those people hostage Frank. You made all those decisions yourself and you need to forgive yourself before it consumes you any farther.” “I didn’t shoot anybody you fucking freak. I didn’t shoot no body and yet here the fuck I am,” Frank screams causing everyone in the room to jump a little bit. As we all watch Frank place his head in his hands I think that this all sounds rather familiar to me somehow. The figure says nothing back to Frank and Frank doesn’t lash out as he walks to the corner of the room. Another somber moment in a place that is nothing but.

Breaking the silence. “I have a question for you. What are you?” I ask the figure. The hooded figure sits motionless and I try to look under the hood. Looking for eyes, a mouth, anything that could confirm what it is. All I find is darkness. Beth places her hand on my knee, “You can’t ask it things about itself.” “Why not?” I question. “It is just the way it is sweetie,” she shrugs at me. “What do you think it is?” I ask the group. “I think it’s a freak,” Frank shouts from the corner of the room. “Yeah we know,” Sylvia shouts back as she rolls her eyes. “We think it is the grim reaper or our idea of a grim reaper,” she says to me. The hooded figure finally speaks, “Howard you had something you wanted to say earlier?” We go on as if no one had said anything at all about the figure. “Ah, yes I did. I wanted to tell the group my story.” “Oh dear God,” Sylvia blurts out before going silent once again. She stares at her gashes. She traces the outline of the cut on her left arm with her finger. “My dear Sylvia, such a pretty name, James has yet to hear my story,” Howard says before turning to face me. He locks eyes with me and I can’t help but to not look right at him for his story. I’m more interested in hearing Frank’s story and trying to figure out why it sounds so familiar to me. Respect for others forces me to put that in the back of my mind as I listen to this old man’s tale.

By the way Howard speaks to me and the rest of the group it is as if he is selling us his story. “I have always been a salesman. From the time I was a small child selling candy on the school yard playground and until the moment I found myself here. I sell that’s what I do. It is in my blood, in my DNA. Hell I even convinced my neighbor to purchases my father’s lawn mower once. Slightly used I told him. My father was so pissed. I had to give my neighbor his ten dollars back. That was a lot of money back then, but with everything there is always something to be learned. I learned right then and there that with a strong enough pitch, a kind smile, and a great deal you can sell anything. I also learned to not sell my father’s things as well,” Howard chuckles. “Howard how did you die again?” Sylvia asks and he ignores. “If this story doesn’t end with you choking on a dick. I know I’m going to be disappointed by this story.” I try to not laugh or move my face in any way. “Always be selling became my motto by the time I was out of high school. I was such a good sales man I didn’t even have to go to college. I had, had a job since I was old enough to acquire one, and with my great talent and passion I was able to move up to head of the sales team in no time. I remember the days of the sale, out there on the open road selling my amazing products from customer to customer, city to city. These were the days before personal computers, the days were a phone call was only used to catch up when a letter would not suffice. Not like today where you kids have your gadgets glued to your hands. You kids today could learn a thing or two from talking face to face the way God intended for us to talk to one another. No these were the good old days, the all or nothing days, the days when making a living meant working your ass to the bone and asking for more.” “We fucking get it old man, Jesus.” “How are you Frank? You could learn thing or two as well from my story.” “Yeah like what? Cause I’m already dead dumb ass.” “You could afford to learn a little thing called respect and about working hard. Not just sitting on your ass and taking what’s not yours.” “It wasn’t like that,” Frank walks back over to the group. “You tried to rob a bank to get money that wasn’t yours that’s how it was Frank,” Howard says to the group looking for reassurance. “Wait a second, that was you,” I say. “That was me what?” “That was you who tried to rob some bank in Atlanta?” “Yeah so what?” Frank asks. “It was all over the national news. That happened months ago or at least I think it was months ago. No one else saw the story?” they all stare at me as though I am crazy. “I meant before you all died?” “Well it was against the law that’s why it was all over the news and that’s why they shot you so many times. How many times do I have to say that before you understand?” “Shut up Howard I’m talking to the new guy. What do you mean it was all over the national news?” Frank asks me. “It was ever where or so I thought. I’m trying to remember what all happened. It happened months ago, but I remember hearing about how three or four cops were suspended and then fired for using excessive force because you didn’t even rob the bank with a real gun or something. Plus there was something about the fact that the dead hostage wasn’t your fault either.” “Who killed him then?” Howard asks. “Apparently one of the officers thought they had a shot or was trying to be a hero. Well the gun fire scared the old man and he fainted on to the floor.” “I told him to stay down, but he wouldn’t listen so I started shouting and then the noise went off.” “Right well I guess in the confusion the cops thought you shot him so they all started firing on you. Turns out the man would have been fine, but they shot him and injured three others firing on you.” Frank stands there stunned and silent. He looks as though some revelation has come over him. “Is that all that happened?” Sylvia asks me. “Was I on the news too?” “I don’t remember,” I tell her. “After that band killed themselves and everything that followed the news stopped reporting on suicides. They even stopped reporting on suicide bombers in the Middle East. Anything to try and stop people from killing themselves.” “That fucking band. That band fucking sucked anyways,” Sylvia crosses her arms and leans back into her chair. “What about my family?” Frank asks me. “What happened to my family?” “The last I heard they were suing the city along with the other families, but beyond that I can’t remember anything,” I tell him. “Frank how does that news make you feel?” The figure asks. “I feel. I feel better. For the first time since I have died. I finally feel better about everything. It might have been worth it. I knew what I did was wrong but I didn’t even have a weapon. I took a toy gun that I painted black. I figured worst case I’d get some jail time. I never thought that I would die. It was a mistake. It was all a mistake.” Frank turn to me, “Thank you James. Thank you so very much.” “You’re welcome Frank. I mean I didn’t do anything,” I say shyly. All I did was repeat the news on TV. Frank begins to weep and cover his tearless face with his hands. “Frank,” the figure says in a light voice unlike its self. Frank looks up from his hands and his face is covered with small streams of tears. “You may leave now Frank. Exit the room and continue down the hall. At the end of the hall there is one last door. It will look like a wall with a handle. Once you touch the handle you will know what to do.” Frank wipes the tears from his face as we all sit and stare. Everyone is very confused as to what is happening. Frank turns to me once again, “Thank you James.” The bullet holes, the blood, the wounds disappear as Frank stands up and walks to the door. The room is silent as he exits, but the second he is gone the whole room erupts with noise. All the noise is a collection of different questions with all the same intentions. What else do you know? Everyone is out of their chairs and standing in front of me demanding answers. “I don’t know, I don’t know,” is all I repeat. “Enough questions everyone,” the figure says in its usual tone. “James is not the reason behind Frank’s ascension to the next level. James doesn’t hold the secret clues or answers to why you have died or are still here. Each and every one of you hold those keys. That is enough for today. Next time we will start with Howard again,” the figure gestures to the open door. “What? Why? Let’s just power through this. I mean we made real progress today.” “Can’t we stay for a little bit longer?” “Yeah we want to stay.” “I’m sorry but we are done for today.” “This is bullshit.” “Give it a rest will you Sylvia,” Beth says as she stands up. No one waits for the figure to get to the door this time. Again I am the last to leave the room. “I’m sorry if I offended you earlier by ask you what you are,” I tell the figure. “It is alright James. You have questions that want answers. Demand them even, but maybe it is you who need to wonder what you are?” Confused I exit the room. The door slamming behind me.

Sylvia is waiting for me in the hallway. “That was some trippy shit wasn’t it?” She asks me. “Yeah I guess. This whole place is trippy if you ask me. How long have you been here?” “No idea, it’s hard to tell time in a place with no windows or concept of it. When did that band die?” “Sometime last year,” I say to her. “So I have been here almost a year.” “And this is the first time you’ve seen some one pass over?” I ask. “Yeah, it was. But I mean I’ve heard of other people passing over or going away from other groups. So personally this was my first. I guess this place isn’t a bunch of bull shit after all.” “What do you think happens after we pass over?” “Fuck if I know. I didn’t even think that this was going to happen.” “Yeah me either,” I say staring at the floor. “Cheer up will you. You are about to be pretty fucking popular here after what just happened. Word gets around,” she smiles at me. “How? No one even talks around here.” “Are you kidding me? Some people don’t ever shut the fuck up.” “Yeah okay,” I huff as we make it back to the waiting area. “Where do you normally sit?” Sylvia asks me. I point to the far right corner. “Yeah we all got to start somewhere. That’s the newbies corner so course they are going to not talk. Those people are scared. Not far from that we have Freaksville. That’s where the messed up one go after they have been here awhile. If you aren’t messed up than you don’t belong there so don’t bother going. Then you have general pockets of people that haven’t been here that long. See over here and over there,” she points. “Why are you telling me all of this?” I ask. “Why the hell not? Lastly that side of the room is mostly filled with the people that have been here the longest. They are not the nicest of people. Real assholes if you ask me,” she walks me over to where she usually sits. “If this is Purgatory than where are the children?” I ask. “No idea. Take a seat.” I take a seat next to her as I look around the room. Already there are a lot of eyes looking in our directions. Sylvia gives off a little laugh and a fake smile, “See just like I told you.” “You weren’t kidding.” “Nope, you are going to be very popular. Too bad you don’t have anything to show for it. Might here some good stories though.” “Who’s that guy sitting over there with all the tattoos?” I ask her. “The one who’s staring you down like you’re a piece of meat at an all you can eat dinner?” “Umm, yeah that guy.” “That’s Layne Ambrose. Stay away from him if you can. That man’s got some real serious issues. He’s already been kicked out of several groups. I heard he even tried to bite someone in the one of the groups.” “We can do that?” “Bite some one? No we can’t do that James were not vampires. Though that would make this strangely worth it all. The most we can do is touch, but it’s pointless because we can’t feel it. We can’t do much of anything in this hell hole.” “Tell me about it. What about those two girls over there?” I ask. “What about them?” “What’s their story?” “How am I supposed to know?” She punches me in the arm, “You got a crush?” My arm stings a little, “No.” “You didn’t have a lot of friends when you were alive did you?” “No, not really,” I say awkwardly. “Yeah, that’s because you ask too many damn questions.”

Drinking Bleach is my first collection of short stories from my earlier days… It is a mixed genre book filled with short stories, poems, micro stories, and more… From the early days of Chewing On Glass to the first story I ever wrote… This book covers a lot of ground… As always available on Kindle… Don’t have a Kindle?… That’s okay… Enjoy thousands of books right from your desktop, smart phone, or tablet with the Kindle app… Now available in paper back…