mister deludo

There once was a man named Mr. Deludo who kept a monster hidden in his basement.

No one really knows where the Monster came from.

But then again, no one had been able to get a good read on Mr. Deludo as of late. Mr. Deludo was a family man but even his closest friends and neighbors started to suspect that something was dangerously wrong at home.

Some of the townsfolk noticed him making frequent late-night strolls to the local graveyard.

Each time he came home, he would be startled to see his wife sitting in the living room, waiting for him.

“Oh hiya, honey.
Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

After a while, people suspected that the Monster must have followed him home after one of his cemetery visitations.

For some time, no one knew about the Monster, not even Mr. Deludo himself. But each and every night, he woke up while the world was sleeping to go downstairs and feed the Monster.

By morning, Mr. Deludo would remember none of it and resume his normal life. His eyes drooped from restless nights as he drove his two children to school on the way to work each day.

Weeks passed and the neighbors caught on. They could hear the Monster’s rumbling at night, when the air was still enough. But whenever they tried to bring it up, Mr. Deludo would simply deny it, because even he did not know the truth.

This went on for months and months and the Monster continued to grow and grow.

Eventually, the Monster grew so big that Mr. Deludo could not deny it any longer that something was lurking beneath the floorboards.

One day, his wife caught him in the act of his nightly clandestine activities.

“Oh hiya, honey. Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

“We need to talk.”

Mrs. Deludo sobbed as she blubbered her way through the messy and tear-soaked intervention.

“How could you do this to us??
Think about the family… Think of our children.”

And Mr. Deludo sobbed with her, as he finally confronted the harrowing truth about himself.

“You have to get rid of the Monster.”
Mrs. Deludo managed to mumble through the tissues.

“And no more walks to the graveyard.”

The next day, Mr. Deludo bought a gun.

At this point, the Monster had already grown so big and so strong that Mr. Deludo wondered if a gun would get the job done. Not to mention that the Monster was cunning, perhaps more deceiving than its master.

None of that really mattered though because each night, Mr. Deludo still found himself helplessly opening the door to the basement and feeding the Monster.

He knew what he was doing and he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he simply could not help it. Because though he hated the awful beast, he had grown a strange affinity for it.

So he fed the Monster, night after night.
Like a slave to his own conscience.

A week had gone by, then two, and the Monster grew bigger still. Excuses were running out and so was his time.

“You need to kill the Monster.”
Mrs. Deludo demanded.

“If you kill me, I’ll kill your wife and kids.”
The Monster counterattacked.

Mr. Deludo’s heart was torn and any more of this agony, he felt his life would split into two.

Finally, Mrs. Deludo could take it no longer. Her patience had burned out and she issued her ultimatum, threatening to leave the house and take the kids with her.

“Kill the Monster!”
She screamed in crazed desperation.

“I.. I- I can’t.”

A look of horror spread across her tear-stained face.

“You what??”

“I just.. can’t.”

More blubbering.

“It’s either us”, she said, grasping their two kids in her trembling arms, “or the Monster.”

That night, Mr. Deludo loaded his gun and went downstairs into the basement.

The Monster died a long and stubborn death. Multiple gunshots pierced the night and echoed throughout all of town, and when the bullets ran out, Mr. Deludo resorted to makeshift means of murder. The townsfolk shuddered at the sounds of Mr. Deludo’s deranged screaming, the Monster’s wailing, and the thought that they couldn’t always differentiate between the two.

Until finally, the house was silent again.
The neighbors went to bed, knowing that the belated deed of riddance was done.

Mr. Deludo carried the Monster’s still-twitching body out of his empty house and walked over to the local graveyard.

He strolled through the rows and rows of gravestones he knew so well, until he reached the cemetery’s edge. His pace slowed as he walked down the final row, grasping the Monster in his trembling arms.

Finally, he stopped and stood in front of three tombstones with the names of his wife and two kids engraved in them.

The Monster breathed its last.

It was the longest walk home that night.

As he trudged back home, Mr. Deludo replayed the murder scene over and over in his mind. But it was not the piercing gunshots, nor the Monster’s howling, nor even his own screams that still rang in his ears, but the ensuing silence.

It was too quiet.

When he got back home, he closed the door behind him and was startled to hear the voice of his wife echoing from the living room.

“Oh hiya, honey.
Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

 

porta-potty peeple

There once was a society of people who carried porta-potties with them everywhere they went.

It was the emblem of their culture.
Everyone owned one and from the day you knew how to stand, you had your very own porta-potty. While most future to-be parents shopped for their to-be child’s dolls and toys, this peculiar people group shopped for porta-potties.

As their culture shifted with the times, so would their porta-potties. Depending on what was trending at the time, their porta-potties would reflect that in their design.

Some years, there were burgundy porta-potties. Other years, there were lavender ones. Some had door knobs, assuming its owner had the means to afford such a pretentious and pompous status symbol. Common folk just had door latches.

In recent decades, porta-potties with straps became the universally accepted norm. Roller potties were frowned upon.

They customized the potties with lightweight material so that the heaviest thing they had to carry was their own shit.

Contrary to poopular belief, the Porta-Potty Peeple were a clean and hygienic society. Developments in porta-potty tech allowed them to build air-tight compartments that sealed shut so that the stench would not soil their breathing air.

Despite being a heavily communal culture, those of the porta-potty society were a quiet, hush-hush bunch. They mostly kept to themselves and had few words to say, if any.

If they were so bold to throw a social gathering, or a potty party, they stood at least four feet apart from each other, as to respect each other’s personal space. Even in conversation, they made sure to not cross the sacred four-feet radius and disturb their neighbor’s pee’s.

The Porta-Potty Peeple were great listeners. Mostly because they did not talk much. A conversation usually involved standing next to one other, looking intently into each other’s eyes, nodding quickly, and delivering a brief series of mumbles and grunts. Only if it were absolutely necessary would they use words.

No one could quite grasp the Porta-Potty Peeple.
No one understood why they would pooposefully choose the portable pooping experience when the luxury of modern-day plumbing was so readily available.

And though no one said it aloud, everyone had the same question blaring in their minds.

Where did the poop go?

Surely, it had to go somewhere. Right?
Surely, the poop reservoirs of their potties had to fill up and some point. Surely, they had to poop. Surely… they had to have buttholes..

…Right??

One day, the world discovered that it was not just their potty that was portable, but their lifestyles. They packed their things and politely made their unannounced exodus from our lives, never to be seen again.

They left most of their things in their houses, for they did not need much. Only their precious porta-potties.

They were last seen trudging quietly off into the horizon with their porta-potties strapped to their finely-toned backs.

The world watched in semi-stupor as the Porta-Potty People made their muffled and modest voyage to their next temporary destination, with four feet of spacing between each of them.

And just like that, they were gone.

Normal life resumed the next day.

No one said it out loud but none could shake the feeling that something was just a little… vacant.

No one outright admitted it but none could deny that a part of them missed the Porta-Potty Peeple. That despite their pooculiarities, it was nice having them around.

Pee’s be with you.

tater todd tales

I have a pet rainbow unicorn who can glow in the dark.

His name is Tater Todd but I call him Todd.

Tater Todd is my good friend and this story is for him. Here are some tatertot-sized tales about the best unicorn friend in the world.

I sleep with Todd every single night.

People say they stop sleeping with their animal friends when they grow up. I’m still not sure what growing up means but that does not sound fun.

So I still sleep with him every night.

I adopted Todd about four years ago so we’ve been through a lot together.

I go on a lot of adventures and secret missions and I usually bring Todd along so he can see all the wonderful things I see.

Whenever he sees something really beautiful, his rainbow fur turns a little brighter than before. I think he is happy in those times.

It makes me happy.

I sometimes wonder where Todd came from.

I tell him I came from Mom and Dad but he won’t tell me where he’s from.

Todd does not say much. Maybe I won’t like what he’ll tell me.

I don’t know.

Todd has magical powers.

He definitely has way more than I do but I have only seen some of them in action.

Sometimes, there are evil things that come into my bedroom at night. I don’t ever see them but they make the night even darker.

On the darkest nights, Todd will shine his rainbow and things will be okay.

Todd is a protector.

A friend told me once that I’ll hold Todd at night until I can hold a woman.

We’re not really friends anymore.

I am not sure if Todd can fly.

I thought most unicorns could but I guess everybody is unique.

“Why didn’t you fly away in the accident?”, I used to ask him.

Todd was seriously injured once.
I kept him at a friend’s house for a little while and his derpy pug dog chewed out Todd’s eyeballs and ate them. Life was not the same after that.

Sometimes, I pray to Jesus to heal his blindness. I hear He does that sort of thing.

Todd is still blind but he sees things that I cannot see. We cover each other’s blindspots.

I noticed that Todd’s rainbow did not shine so bright after the attack.

I noticed that the same thing happens whenever my mom tells me to give him away. Each time, he loses a little bit of his color.

After a while, I stopped taking Todd out so much.

It is a scary world out there. I wondered if the world was stealing Todd’s colors from him. I wondered if Todd was losing his magic.

Maybe it is my turn to be the protector.

No one else has animal friends anymore.

Everybody else has given them away and they seem to be okay with it.

Why is that? Will I ever give Todd away?

Last summer, I was separated from Todd for a long time.

It was the hardest summer yet. When I got to Thailand, they made us lighten our load because we brought too much stuff so Todd had to spend seven weeks inside of a luggage bag.

Sometimes, I wonder if he’s forgiven me for that.

But maybe it is a good thing he did not see what I saw. No child should have seen what I saw.

But then again, he says the same thing about the luggage bag.

Todd ran out of battery juice a long time ago.

But somehow, he can still keep me warm, even when my best friends can’t.
Even when God can’t.

One time, my teacher told us that we spend one-third of our lives asleep.

Todd and I spend a lot of time together.

I am not sure what Todd’s horn does.

Todd is kind of a mystery to me. Maybe that’s why we are such great friends.

I like the mysterious ones.

One night, it got especially dark.

I think something was inside my room.

It got so dark that the dark was darker than when I closed my eyes. So I kept them closed.

Todd doesn’t have eyes but I think he could see the evil man. We couldn’t do anything because our powers weren’t strong enough. So we just held each other under my blanket.

I’ve never held Todd so tightly.

Todd does not know what I went through in Thailand.
He was in a suitcase. I think about that a lot.

I guess I don’t know what he went through either. I can’t imagine what that must have been like.

We could not be there for each other in a really hard time but we are still buddies. He still protects me at night and I still take care of him. We might not understand some bits of our stories but we still love each other.

And so it is with my human friends.

I take Todd outside more now.

I am not so scared of what the outside world can do to him anymore because we’ve been through so much together.

If we can go through the dark nights and beat up the bad guys that come into the room, we can do anything.

I don’t think I will ever give Todd away.

He is one of the best friends ever because he believes in me. Even the weirdest things about me, like my imagination. That means a lot.

He tells me that the harder I believe in him, the stronger he gets. I didn’t believe him at first but then I tried it and it worked.

Now his rainbow fur shines brighter than ever.

Todd is magic.

And he is my friend.

Tater Todd Tales is a response to prompt #2 of the Raconteurs, a collective of storytellers. Read more of our stories here.

writer’s block

Of fresh starts, running away, and good storytelling.

“So you told her your story of betrayal. The truth.”

“Yeah. And she asks me, ‘What would you wanna say to them?'”

“Like in a hypothetical conversation?”

“Yeah, exactly. And I kinda freak out.”

“And then you broke up with her..?”

“No no, that’s not why I broke up with her. But it gave me an idea. An idea that would develop into something that would change the rest of my life.”

“That would lead you here.”

“Eventually.”

“I see. So what does that have to do with your um.. career crisis and stuff?”

“Slow down, man. I’ll get there.”

“Alright, alright. So how did you answer her question? Tell me about this hypothetical conversation.”

“Well the thing is, I already knew what I would say. I’ve already transcribed this…  ‘dialogue’ onto paper so many times, like drafts of a screenplay.
‘Which draft will be used?’, I often wondered. I kept writing and writing.”

“Did you ever use any of them?”

“Never.”

“Why not?”

“It was too painful.”

What is it, that I already know the words, but it still burns to say them?
I practice my lines for months, in some desperate attempt to be cast for the role. Yet the stage-fright still has its conniving way of sneaking under my skin.

I stand paralyzed in a lonely stage in front of a dark, empty audience, save a couple silhouettes. My shaky breath is too loud. Who decided that my microphone should be on. Now my fears are amplified for the world to hear.

“So you just.. didn’t ever talk to them.”

“Yeah. I couldn’t do it.”

“So what was this revolutionary, life-changing idea of your’s?”

“It was this thought that.. perhaps, we live in a world of cruel bloopers. I figured that conversations never play out the way we plan them. The characters always go off-script.”

“I mean, that’s one way to see it.”

“The scripts that I write in my head are always more preferable than what actually happens on-screen. Even if the scenes are hard and painful, I’d write them in an exaggerated, overly-dramatized fashion, which I prefer for some reason.”

“It feels better than the real thing.”

“Yes. So I obsessed over this concept and I found myself at a crossroads, which I often do. It seemed like there were only two paths that I could take: to live in a world of fiction or to lose my fantasy and live in the reality of the present.”

“Is that why you moved to the East Coast?”

“I’m afraid it was. That was how my new life as a recluse began. I immersed myself in this new, unfamiliar world, where I could start a new life. I could write my own story with new characters, new narratives, new plot twists. I even considered changing my name.”

“Damn. I had no idea. And how did that go for you?”

“It was exciting at first. Euphoric, almost. I was drunk on this idea that no one else could write my story for me anymore. The pen was in my hand and no one else’s. I reveled in this idea.”

“And the people back at home?”

“Well… I cut them off. I kind of just disappeared from their lives.”

His brow tenses ever so slightly. I look at the icy waters below us but I feel his concerned eyes pressing on my face. I don’t know if I like this feeling.

“What happened, then?”

“I started writing. I indulged in my newfound freedom. I had a fresh canvas to work with and I took advantage of that.”

“Fiction, I presume.”

I nod.

“Mostly short stories and what not. If you recall, I shared some of them with you a while ago.”

“Ah yes. They were pretty good. I hafta admit, I was quite impressed.”

“Yeah? Cool thanks, I guess replying four years late is better than never.”

“Sorry, man.”

“It’s whatever”, I mutter through my smirk. I knew he liked my writing.

“Wipe that stupid grin off your face.”

“No.”

“I’m gonna throw you off this bridge.”

“Hm. That would make an excellent opening scene. I’m gonna use that. Thanks, man.”

He rolls his eyes.

“You’re welcome. You were saying?”

“You crashed my train of thought.”

“You were writing short stories and…?”

“Ah yes. I was on a writing spree. My mind was overflowing with inspiration, it was almost too much. I could barely keep up. It had been a while since I created art that I was proud of.”

“Hm. Seems like Brooklyn did a lot of good for you.”

“Yeah. Everyday, the city had something new to offer me. New tools, new paints, new brushes to work with. It was a wellspring of creativity and innovation.”

“I wish more people thought of us that way.”

“That’s another thing. I had fallen so in love with this town that I almost felt this need to show it off to the world. I wanted people to realize its hidden beauty.”

“Didn’t you?”

“I suppose. It was complicated – wanting to show off my new home while covering my footprints so people in my previous life wouldn’t discover my whereabouts.”

“Did they ever find you?”

“A few did. They tried to get in contact.”

“What did you do?”

“I did what I knew how to do best.”

“…Write fiction?”

I nod again, slowly this time.

“You lied to them.”

“Well in fiction, you take the truth and you sort of… bend it. Twist it to your liking. Paint it with different colors.”

“I see.”

I can feel his skepticism. It is sharp.

“Do you regret that?”

“Sometimes. At the time, I had become so infatuated with the city that I didn’t want anyone to take it away from me. My scars were still fresh. This was my new life and I had no intentions of going back.”

“That’s fair. Do you feel that your new self is incompatible with your old city?”

“Very much so.”

“I think I can understand that.
You mentioned previously that you had become a recluse?”

“Yes.”

“How so? As far as I could tell, you were still interacting with human beings when I met you.”

“Haha well, maybe not a real recluse.”

“Then what? A fictional recluse?”

“I figured I could have people in my life, so long as I didn’t have to get too close and personal with them.”

“And what did that achieve you?”

“Safety.”

“From what?”

“Robbery. I was scared that if I shared too much of my story, if I had let someone in too much, they would steal my pen. Because that’s what tends to happen. I didn’t want someone else writing my story again. It’s too painful.”

“Don’t you already share your stories though?”

“Yes, but only the fictional ones.”

“Hm.”

“For a while, people were nothing more than free ideas for characters I could build and write about. I would have a meaningful conversation or two with a new ‘friend’ and leave the rest to my imagination.”

“That is… fascinating.”

“That was the scariest part though. I needed to know them enough to have something to write about but that usually meant sharing myself with them as well. So once I had enough ‘content’ to work with, I would draw the line and keep the friendship from going anywhere further.”

“So… people were just creative fodder for your short stories.”

I look back down at the waters.

“Yeah, basically.”

“You’re a sick man. A genius, but… sick.”

“I know.”

“Was that all I was to you? A resource you could exploit for your writing career?”

“I may have used you for a few of my characters…”

“Fuck you. I want them back.”

“I’m sorry. I really am.”

“You know, you’re so scared of having your story stolen from people… but isn’t that what you’re doing to everyone else? You earn your friends’ trust, they share their story with you, then you take it and run away without ever returning the favor.”

It made too much sense. Maybe I should jump the bridge now.
We sat in the silence together.

“You know, it’s okay. You can use my story if you want. I don’t mind.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, man. I’ve shared so much of it anyways. I trust you. You’re still an asshole, though.”

“Wow. I’m… baffled.”

“You know, as good of a writer as you are, your scars still sometimes show. I could always tell you were in pain.”

“Hm. I suppose fiction can’t hide everything.”

“There is a fine line between writing fiction and writing lies.”

Wow. I think I almost throw up.

“You know… you were always the most inspiring and the most difficult character I’ve had to work with.”

“What do you mean?”

“You always give out your story so freely… It confused me, yet it amazed me. I was always afraid I’d have to respond in kind. At the same time, it gave me plenty of content to work with. Maybe even too much. Too much truth. I was scared of it. So I decided to stop using it after a while.”

“How long has it been?”

“Years. I looked to other people for stories instead.”

“I bet my story was far more exciting.”

“Well… actually, yes. Remember what I said about how fiction is written?”

“Bending the truth?”

“Yeah. Well, I eventually ran out of truth to bend. If I could only get so close to my friends, there was only so much material I could use. I could always find new friends but I grew tired. I was meeting new people, only getting to surface level, and running away.”

“Sounds exhausting.”

“Especially if you’re trying to be a recluse. I ran out of juice. And that would drive me into the deepest pit of writer’s block I’ve ever had. I guess I’m still in it. And I never figured out how to escape.

My stories became stale and colorless.”

Another moment of shared silence. The sun had set for a good while now and the city slowly ignited its nightly skyline glow.

“You know what. I think you have what you need to escape this hole you’re stuck in. I think you know what to do.”

I paused.
I wondered, how much of this story was real, how much was fictitious? I thought about this new life that I had spent years inventing and how I had ended up in another dead end. I thought about why real life was so terrifying to me. I saw truth as fire and I still live with the burn marks.

“Stop writing fiction?”

“No. Stop writing bad fiction.”

“Excuse me?”

He smiled.

“There’s nothing wrong with writing fiction, my friend. But the best fiction is real fiction.”

“Ah. The great Albert Camus. How could I forget.”

Perhaps I had been asking myself the wrong question.
How much of my life is fiction, how much a lie?

I thought of truth as fire still – that had not changed. It was dangerous. But maybe if I allow myself the risk of playing with explosives, I just might be able to make fireworks.

Talk about grip strength. The pen is slipping from my hand.

homesickness

I wrote this during my recent spontaneous escapade to San Diego.

It is a dialogue piece about adventure and escape. As I pensively sipped my iced red-eye at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, a mere coffee-bean’s throw from the cliffs, a young woman sat next to me. No words were exchanged.

p

p

“Oh, I’m not from these parts.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, I come from a land far off and distant.”

“Wow, I would have never guessed. You could pass as a local.”

“Haha, appreciate it.”

It is harder than I thought to look in her eyes. She’s pretty.

“Well… What brings you here then?”

“Good question.”

“So you’re not sure why you’re here?”

“Sometimes, you don’t know why until you actually go.”

“Hm. I see. Well, are you making any progress?”

“I think so. I’m still figuring it out.”

“That’s fair. What do you got so far?”

“Well aren’t you quite the inquisitor.”

“Hey, I already shared my story. Don’t leave me hanging. Besides, what are the chances we see each other again in the future?

“I guess.”

She looks at me and I quickly turn away, in an attempt to steal back my glance.

“Alright then. Just for you. Shall we?”

As if in unspoken tradition, we raise our beer bottles towards each other once again and toast. Clink. After a deep swig, we continue our aimless stroll on the warmly-lit streets of the downtown labyrinth.

“…Well?”

“I’m running.”

Her eyes widen.

“Like… a fugitive? What did you do?!”

“No no, not like that… I ain’t like your FBI Most Wanted felon or anything.”

“Oh. How boring.”

“Hey, you asked for it.”

“Okay fine. So what are you running from? Or who?”

“I’m running from life.”

“I’m not quite sure I understand.”

“Well back where I’m from… things aren’t looking so great right now. And I don’t want to be there right now.”

“Hm. Must be pretty bad, huh. For you to run.”

“Yeah. It’s hard to look out the window sometimes. Some mornings, it seems as if I’m waking up blinded. Like one of my eyes forgets to awaken from its slumber.”

“Seriously?”

“My city… we live in shadows. It’s quite dismal. Imagine not being able to see one color for the rest of your life. You don’t fully realize its beauty until it’s lost. Or, the color blue. It isn’t as blue anymore. It’s not a rich cerulean substance with flavor. It’s just… blue. Without the depth. We’re losing something precious.”

“Whoa.”

“The worst thing is… I don’t know if anyone else notices what’s happening. Or cares.”

“Have you tried explaining it to them?”

“I’ve tried. I talked to my family, my friends, Hell, I’ve even talked to the governor. I published articles and what not, trying start a movement or something.”

“So you’re a writer.”

“Yeah.”

“And?”

“And nothing. I mean, they’ve tried to respond and ‘fix’ the problem but I don’t think it’s been very helpful.”

“Why not?”

“Well, if your doctor gives you the wrong diagnosis…”

“…He’s gonna give you the wrong medicine.”

“Precisely.”

“Ah. And you think you have the right diagnosis?”

“That’s the thing. I’m not even sure myself.
But… I’m sure as hell more knowledgable than they are.”

“What makes you so confident?”

“I’ve lived here the longest. Even longer than the governor. This is my city. I know every street corner, back alley, secret passage, you name it. I know the underground networks better than I know grade school math. I practically built a good portion of it. I own these streets. My blood runs in the city’s veins and the city’s blood runs in my veins.”

“They should have elected you for governor.”

“Nah, that ain’t me. I belong on the ground-level. On the streets. Front lines, you know?”

“Mm. Can’t you change the city if you know it best?”

“That’s the thing. I need the resources from the higher-ups to make some sort of real change. I can’t do it alone.”

“But they ain’t buyin’ it.”

“They ain’t buyin’ it. I’ve tried to start something on my own initiative but I don’t think it’s possible. I can’t sustain it for much longer. The fatigue is starting to cement in my soul and my soul is hardening.”

“No one understands.”

“No one understands.”

She looks over at me.

“That sounds painful.”

“You have no idea. It’s unbearable. Seeing my own city in flames. Ash clouds trace the skyline. People have been inhaling smog for so long they’ve forgotten what’s in the air they’re breathing. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my city without the haze.

When the city burns… when the city bleeds, it’s not just the city’s blood that flows.”

“It’s your blood.”

I nod at her.

“Damn. I can’t imagine that.”

“Yeah, it’s a lot.”

The pace of our step slows.

p

p

“So… you’re escaping. Escaping your world, escaping the pain.”

“Yeah. I suppose I am.”

“No shame in that. It makes sense.”

“Mm. It’s been a while since I’ve heard that.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Many people think otherwise. People at home, I mean.”

“Well, they clearly don’t get it.”

I pause.

“Yeah.     …Yeah. Thanks.”

We make eye contact at last. Mutual contact, that is. Something about her gaze pierces me, through my burning tears, through my dark, fathomless eyes, through my soul.

p

p

“You know, I feel honored. Special.”

“How so?”

“You picked my city. You could have gone anywhere in the world but you picked my home. Even if it was to escape.”

“Well, I was just… I guess I just wandered here. I didn’t have a destination. Just far away.”

“But something told you to stop. Here. Of all places.”

“Hm. I guess so.”

She looks at me again and gives me a soft smile, the way that only your closest friends would give you a soft, yet strangely loving shove.

p

p

“What’s wrong?”

“I… I have to go back. I can already feel the bleeding.”

“This isn’t your first time, is it?”

“No. How did you know that?”

“Just a guess. I can almost see… tethers. And they’re latching onto you, almost like chains, and whenever you leave, no matter how far you go, they eventually pull you back.”

“Damn. You’re good.”

“Hah. Thanks.”

“Do I have to leave?”

“I can’t make that choice for you, my friend. You have to decide that for yourself.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“Again, that’s your choice. It’s your city.”

“Sometimes… it seems like the only moments when I feel like I belong are the moments when I am far away. When I am traveling to new, unfamiliar worlds. When I am discovering the treasures of distant lands. When I am wandering. It is in times like those that I actually feel like my soul is in tune with my body. I get that sense of ‘Yes, this is right’-ness. Like I should be here… when I’m not here. Does that even make sense?”

“Ah. You have the heart of a wayfarer.”

“Have you ever gone somewhere and felt a deep yearning for a place you’ve never known? A homesickness for a land you’ve just set foot on?”

“Rarely, but yes.”

“I don’t want to leave.”

“Is it that you don’t want to leave, or that you don’t want go back home?”

“I can’t tell.”

“That’s okay.”

We made eye contact again. Not nearly as intimidating but even more powerful.

“I can already feel it. The… tethers? They’re pulling me pretty hard. It’s almost suffocating.”

“I guess this is it, then.”

We approach the platform. I board the train hesitantly.

“This conversation was not long enough for my taste.”

“Hah. We’ve been at it for quite a few hours, bud.”

“Man. Is that so.”

“Hey, if you ever need to run away… if you ever need a place to escape to, you know where to go. My city’s gates are open.”

“But will I ever see you again? Will you be here if I come back? How will I find you?”

She gave a gentle smile.

p

The train’s doors closed between us.
As the speed of the train crescendoed, the sight of her face waned into the horizon, gradually, yet still too quickly. She disappeared from view but I continued to stare out the window.

The tethers tightened their grip around me and dragged me back into the nauseating timelapse of life.

p

p

Why am I here?

“you were just practice”

Raphael Williams.

I am so sorry. You do not deserve this. No child deserves this.

It’s been six years and we still don’t know if we should tell you the story. Or how much of the story to tell. Is it ever the case that the truth can be more damaging than a lie? I have always wanted to protect you but this… this is something else. What am I protecting you from? Truth? Or the illusion of it?

There is too much at stake. Too much… power.
What story do I tell? The pen is in my hand but my hand is shaking. Violently. This is another breed of writer’s block. I have the tools to sculpt your reality. The rasp to shape and form your identity and who you think you are. One wrong move.

Who chose me to bear such a burden… no. Honor. What great achievement did I accomplish to merit such a privilege of carrying this responsibility? Coke still runs through my veins. The stale stench of alcohol still garnishes my tobacco-flavored breath. Who am I?

You may not ever know your father.
I don’t know if he actually loves you. I’m still figuring out whether or not he loves me. Is it possible to be born with a broken heart? I suppose that’s up to me. Damn.

I know he’s said things about you… to you.. but you can’t let those things affect you, okay? Never believe anything he says. I pray every night that you are too young to remember. Do you think I’ve messed up too bad for God to listen to me? I think that all the time but… it’s all I got.

They might not play with you during recess. They might bully you. They might not sit with you during lunch. They might make fun of you because you look… different. You may not learn as quickly as the other kids but there is nothing wrong with that. With you. You gotta be strong. Don’t let their words sink into your mind.

Raphael. You are beautiful, you hear me? There is nothing wrong with you. You are loved. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You are not a mistake. Even if your father says so. Even if the doctors say so. Even if the kids at school say so. Even if the teachers say so.

I naively believed my sheltered, Christian upbringing would automatically make me invulnerable but… it may have blinded me more than anything. Now, I have to pay the price. Now, you have to pay the price.

Your father and I are the mistakes. We are the screw-ups. And I hope you can forgive us for the debt that you inherited from our failures. We were young. And foolish. Drunk on “freedom” and high on “life”.

We wanted to try it. Just because we could. So we took our chances and bit down deep. It was far too enticing.

And that is what pains my soul the most.
This harrowing truth that you… you were just practice.

 

 

Raphael Williams was not real yesterday, but is very much alive today. He was born on October 23rd, 2016 as a pre-mature baby to a young woman who just began her first year of college. Raphael suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, along with an array of permanent birth defects that will serve as merciless obstacles for the rest of his life. 

The story of Raphael Williams is real, yet fictitious. To be frank, I just wanted to practice my writing. You know, character-building, storytelling and stuff like that. Now, Raphael will live a painful and burdensome life. I’m so sorry, bud.

quoteworthy – the return

“‘Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.’ And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if you are being solemn and still.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

R.C.: Well… who exactly is he?

E.B.: That, in itself, is still a mystery that continues to unravel even as we speak. Pray it does so quickly, lest the world is lost before it happens. […] needs to find himself soon. Time is short. People are dying everyday. We need him.

 

 

Come swiftly.

the chronicles of jamarcus brown – olga

this is what happens when you’re an english teacher and you don’t give your students enough guidelines for their projects.

our job was to read an old folk tale, discover its moral, and write our own unique folk story, delivering the same message.  we got a story by the name of “Gooloo the Mahpie, and the Wahroogah”.   what.  yeah, i’ve never heard of it either.   but short story even shorter, Gooloo was some wicked old woman that convinced a group of women at a tribe to go scavenging for food and supplies.  initially hesitant, the woman were eventually persuaded and off they went, leaving their children unattended.  Gooloo gathered all of them into her house and they were never to be found again.  the end.  moral of the story: trust your instincts. [i don’t even know if that’s the moral of the story, but our teacher just told us that].  had the women trusted their instincts, they wouldn’t have left their children in the hands of a shady old hag.  okay.  trust your instincts.  folk tale.  1 page, double-spaced.  psh. we got this.

to give you some context, me and my partner never really took our english class seriously.  we always partner up for everything and come up with the most ridiculous stuff.  we don’t end up with the best grades but hey, we have fun.  and i think our teacher likes us.  in our previous adventures, we created a certain character named Jamarcus Brown.  Jamarcus Brown is a beast.  I don’t remember specifics but he was like at least 9 feet tall, had monstrous legs, was ridiculously buff, and extremely good lookin’.  he was black.  he did have some flaws, however; he had tiny t-rex arms, tons of earwax, and social awkwardness problems.  as i was saying, we came up with the most ridiculous stuff.  but that’s what happens when you don’t give your students enough guidelines for their projects.

so anyways, we used Jamarcus in our most recent venture, the folk tale paper.  and this is what we came up with.  in about an hour.  brace yourselves.

     Once upon a time in the shire there was a young boy named Jamarcus. Jamarcus was smart and extremely handsome but he had one detriment which was his shyness (also his large feet and t-rex arms). Because of his shyness Jamarcus rarely made friends at school and was forced to seek friends online. Relatively he could have normal conversations online without worrying about his image so this was a good alternative to real life interactions. Pretty soon, the internet became his newfound home; it was a social refuge to him, a place where he could hide from the real world and fully express himself without the fear of being judged.  The internet became his life.

     Everyday, he would come to school without having said a word to anybody and immediately return to his computer to talk with his “friends”.  Everyone that a normal teenager would’ve found in school and real life, Jamarcus found online.  He found his BFF’s, his wingmen, his awkward friends, and even his enemies. The one thing Jamarcus couldn’t seem to find was a girlfriend though. After years of searching online no one matched his ideals.

     This was all until one fateful day when the username of Olga messaged Jamarcus on one of his numerous chatting websites. Olga described herself to Jamarcus, she was a well built and exotic female.  She had gargantuan bosoms and a nice round and firm butt.  Her cheeks were perfectly proportionate.  She was bold.  She was everything that Jamarcus wanted in a woman. Jamarcus was so infatuated with this online character and would stay staring at his computer screen for hours on end. He would stay up all night to talk to his newfound love. Olga seemed to always suggest that Jamarcus and she should meet each other in person. Jamarcus liked the idea at first but thought it would be weird to release himself from the own bubble he had created and approach a stranger he had met online in person. Eventually Olga persuaded Jamarcus to pick her up at her house to go on a date.  Her enticement was far too great for Jamarcus to handle.  He gave in.

     June 6th.  It was the last day of school and summer would finally be here.  AP testing and finals would finally be over, the end of another terrible year of school.  Good riddance.  But what was even better was that Jamarcus would finally meet the woman of his dreams.  Jamarcus had been looking forward to this date the whole last month of school and it was here.  Bubbling with excitement, Jamarcus rushed home, slipped on his best formal clothes, gelled his hair back, and gave the address to his momma so she could drive him there. Momma Jay was very supportive of her son’s decision to meet Olga as she had thought her son had no friends whatsoever. As Momma Jay approached Olga’s house, Jamarcus could contain himself no more.  He abruptly started screaming in Indian tongue and crashed through the window; he could not wait a second later to meet her.  Jamarcus’ mom understood that this was a thing that Jamarcus would have to do himself and drove away hoping her son would find happiness in this woman. He galloped across the street, made one last turn, and her house was now in view.  It was the last house at the end of the street. Jamarcus was bounding up the driveway on all fours like an ape but he was stopped in his tracks.  The house was eerie and dark.  There was a strange and creepy aura about this house.  Something seemed fishy about Olga’s home but Jamarcus couldn’t quite tell what it was.  

     “Maybe I shouldn’t have come..”, Jamarcus thought to himself as he gazed at the looming house standing before him.  There was definitely something shady about the house but Jamarcus could not resist the his dying urge to meet Olga.  Eventually, he succumbed to his temptations and walked to the doorway.  There was no doorbell so Jamarcus gave three loud knocks on the rotting wooden door.  Jamarcus checked himself in the mirror and fixed his hair one last time.  After what seemed like an eternity, the door finally creaked open.  Jamarcus let out a loud giggle but the smile was soon wiped off his face.  The door opened and there stood an elderly man with prune juice in one hand and a wide grin on his face. Jamarcus was unable to react in time to the foul sight and was quickly snatched by the man. Because of his many days of computer usage, Jamarcus was relatively scrawny and had no way of fighting back. Though Jamarcus’ body was never to be seen again, his screams are still heard today from the dark, desolate household.

yup.  trust your instincts.  should’ve stayed at home, son.  oh, Jamarcus.

i had fun with this one.  we actually typed this up together on google docs so even though i couldn’t talk with my partner, i was laughing the whole time.  man, i really enjoy stuff like this.  i’m a huge fan of storytelling, especially verbal storytelling.  but i’m not going to read to you guys but expect more written stories.  some of them will be true, and some will be more about jamarcus brown.

oh, summer, please come to me now.

but until then.

the chronicles of jamarcus brown [debut] – olga.  to be continued..