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Nothing prepared me for Dino’s day. Nothing could have. What would?

How can anything simulate the feeling of a living, breathing entity, whom you care for on a level nearing your own blood, ceasing to exist before your own fucking eyes?

I saw him breath slower, as if he were simply going for a big snooze. Droopy eyes looked over at me, like he always did before he went to sleep–just to make sure I was still there I guess–and I could have sworn he winked one of his big browns at me. Then he took one long, deep breath, let it out in a puff. I laughed. He blew his big hound-dog ears up with a last breath; Signing off with a knee-slapper, classic Dino. I didn’t know.

Then he wasn’t doing anything. His belly wasn’t expanding anymore, he wouldn’t respond when I called his name. I screamed it. I patted his plush head like I would when he was under the weather, thinking maybe he fell ill and didn’t want to bother with my antics.

“Should I get some water?” I thought to myself.

In his later years, I would bring little bowls of water when he had one of his bad spells and didn’t want to move around much. The vet would always say it was just an infection and simply needed some antibiotics and some old-fashion rest for the pooch. Never failed though.

It made me think this was just another episode I had to watch. All I had to do was call mom, she’d get the meds from the vet and I simply had to wait, and try to comfort him, right?

I’d been wrong before.

When it finally hit me, when I let myself understand what had just taken place: Panic mode.

I ran around the house, not knowing what to do, calling random numbers hoping someone of importance picked up the phone.

911, no help, pet hospital (no car), parent’s place of business…

After several attempts of the operator trying to understand my garbled request, I got my mom on the line. Me: frantic, crying, shoving words in between heaving breaths.

“Dino, I think, I think he’s dead! Mom, please! Please, you gotta help him! Do something! Send someone! The fucking cavalry, a doctor, a med student! Someone! He looked like he was just going to sleep. But he never woke up! He never woke up, mom! Don’t you understand?! He wouldn’t move… ”

I remember her sounding almost unaffected; as if she had been expecting it all along.

“Sweetie, please, calm down, you won’t get anywhere with that foul mouth. Now, he was twelve years old! He lived a full life for a Basset and at least he went on his own time. Just be happy you were with him in the end. I’ll be home soon, dear, then your father and I will take care of things, I promise. Just please, try to stay calm…  Honey? Are you there? Sweetie, please say something… Franky!“

I heard her, loud and clear, but my mind was in turmoil. Something was happening. There were too many emotions to poke at and as I was attempting to find some morsel of the English language to communicate to her what I felt, I blacked out. That was all I remembered up until several hours later…

It all started the day my dog died… his name was Dionysus, my mom named him. She’s a big philosophy geek, he gets mentioned in text a lot.

I didn’t mind the name so much when I found out who the guy was in Greek mythology. I thought it suited Dino well; he was a born party animal! I mean, he made a lot of noise, ate far more  than his fill, and went after just about every schnauzer, terrier, poodle... Let’s just say he got more action with those dogs than I did with my upright, smooth skinned counterparts. And he only got to explore the world on walks in the neighborhood or in his sneakier fence tunneling operations.

Shit, I was supposed to talk about something…

Oh right!

Depression. And I mean DEPRESSION.  Capital-D. Who could have guessed that would do it? Dino’s passing. Better question, who would’ve said I was anything BUT depressed before the fact?

I’ve faced deaths in the family, love interests turned mortal enemies, friends betraying friends, hell two of our family’s faithful companions had been put to sleep before we even adopted Dionysus.

I’ve cried in remorse, fucking terribly, balls to the wall baller-session after my Grandma passed away (my dad’s mom).  Drunk, and putting a cherry on top at an open-bar for my friend Sandy’s graduation (No one was carding, I indulged); literally pouring down the shame.

I was thinking about the day before my grandma left for Europe; again. Once again, her and my grandpa made the annual visit. She had made that trip so many times, I thought nothing of it. It was just another few thousand frequent-flyer miles and a carry-on full of California staples to share with our eager relatives across the deep blue. I never saw her alive again.

I started crying after toasting my last swig to her. I thought a lot of how my Grandfather might have felt, watching his wife fade away, helpless, but being there for her. I know he was strong, or tried to be. You can’t blame anyone in that position for freaking out , but I like to hope he said some loving reassurances to keep calm. Never giving up hope, trying to get to the hospital in time. I tried to imagine the last smile she may have given him before letting go, just to say “it’s okay. They have Bingo in heaven. I love you”. I hope. I also never drank heavily again. Thanks Grandma.

I’ve been down in the dumps, yes. No denying that. And you wouldn’t believe me even if I swore otherwise. You might say I was depressed since the day of my grandmother’s passing.

Not really in a dangerous way though (my therapist claims otherwise these days). It was this dull aching that never subsided. It didn’t freeze me in time so that I couldn’t see the future anymore. But I guess I wasn’t “okay enough” with the idea of a no-grandma-filled future. I had trouble accepting it. But a switch flipped; like any prideful alcoholic, I claimed myself to be a functioning bag of self-loathing. I picked myself up by withered handle, found a little thing called Mary Jane, and shit, life, went on; down some pesky river in Egypt.

Writer’s note: I hope to post an update to this story once a week. With a full time job and school to commit to, it will be difficult I am sure of that, but I will endure to the end. May you all enjoy and have a wonderful New Year! 🙂

I just wanted to push out the first chapter of a book I’ve been “writing”. It has been about four months and I barely have two chapters going for it. But, I love the story-line I have been going with and I am just hoping that I procure a little more motivation to continue instead of allowing myself to stay in this stagnant state. Anywho, enjoy!

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No time for drawn out introductions, I’m on the lam! My name is Geronimo Sinclair-Salvatorre. It’s nearly midnight on the fourth of July, 1999 in Los Angeles, California, and the supply for fireworks has been nothing short of spectacular. Some friends of mine –well I may reconsider the manner in which I address them if I get out of this ordeal unscathed– persuaded me by way of blackmail to assist in their plot for revenge on the local gang bangers around town by taking advantage of the TNT surplus this fine Holiday has brought upon us. These “gang bangers” in question, resemble a loosely formed posse at best; minus the six shooters, add a little mouth jewelry, color matched apparel, and voila, the suspects personified. I simply refer to them as Los Imbeciles.

Yeah I know, not exactly a shot to the heart, but I call them like I see them; a bunch of knuckle dragging mouth breathers, forcing Ebonics derivatives into the English language: who prey on the weak to feed their lust for emotional destruction. AKA “Bullies” for those less informed on the urban equivalent. Personally, I never give much of a crap what these guys do. I just leave them alone, and they have done the same for me. Although I fear this betrayal of our unspoken agreement is opening up a new can of worms in my life.

I’m not sure why I got the short end of the stick, but these heathens insisted on tracing my every step instead of treading after one of my soon-to-be ex-friends. Lucky for me, these oafs hadn’t the foresight to wear a belt (Some unfortunate fashion trend that must be).  Each grasping their crotch, attempting to prevent their pants from making a catastrophic fall to fumbling ankles. This ultimately slowed their traverse allowing me the opportunity for a short breather at an intersection as I contemplated the best evasive maneuver.

As I look around for a glimmer of hope, I spot the red, white and blue pole outside of Johnny’s barber shop “Bingo” I thought. He’s got a package delivery chute that my skinny ass can still fit through. I’ve used it once or twice in similar situations. The downside, he sometimes remembers to lock it before he leaves work just in case some crack-head tries to set up shop inside. The streets of LA, my friend, they harbor some of the grade-A ingrates this country has to offer. I blame it on the heat. Too much sun can drive any person mad.

Now I am left thinking “Should I bolt through Johnny’s shop and take the back door to an alley that intersects with my home street? Or take the long way without risking the possibility of Johnny’s chute being locked?” Then as if my manhood took a shot of adrenaline, I bolted for the shop door. But taking my time to think things over really let the scumbags close in on me, the chute became my only hope.

My hand grabbed for the handle as soon as my cross-trainers touched the sidewalk but my heart fell into my stomach once the flesh of my fingertips touched the cold metal handle. “Johnny locked up for the 4th of July” I thought. I sat for a moment, staring into his shop reliving the “wonder years” when my mom would give me ten bucks before school so that I could run down to Johnny’s for a quick trim after class. Now I am on the other side of the firing line, looking at the red vinyl and polished steel structure of the barber’s chair I had filled when I first stumbled into his shop with my parents. Now I was simply a terminal victim, waiting in the gallows for my executioner. Soon enough I felt hot breath down my back as several pissed off faces, scorched from a firework prank gone awry, stared me down in a way that could peel the paint off of a car.

The leader of the group, Brandon Rowins, -AKA B-Rizzle- one of the better read fellows forming Los Imbeciles, addressed me ” A Little late for kids to be playing with fire, EH? CHIEF!” .

He knew my nickname? What the hell. And look at that carbonized pompous prick. Only he could pull off an expression of content at capturing his prey with half of his shirt still smoldering as if he had just snuffed the last of our freedom fireworks with cyclopean claws he calls “hands”. (Isn’t alliteration fun?) After letting out a sigh, I thought to myself “crap, if only I could stay inside of my mind during the impending beating I am about to take.”

Still, he asked a question. So I answered with a question that had been burrowing in the back of my mind since the chase began

“What’s your end game here, BRANDON? I wanted nothing to do with this fiasco in the first place”

Apparently he only heard the mispronunciation of his name and a well placed left hook struck my lower jaw. After which he corrected me.

“The name’s B-Rizzle, Bitch!”

“Oh, so you finally added a last name,’Bitch’, not bad. It suits you well B-Rizzle. Or is that just what the ‘B’ really stands for?” I said after recovering from the stars floating around my head. I’m not sure what came over me, but I figured if I am going to die tonight, I sure as hell wasn’t going to do it on my knees. I’m starting High School in a few months for Christ sake, I need to take a stand once and for all!

He scoffs “Big mouth for such a little shit, heh. I have half a mind to stomp your ass out right now. Hmph, the fearless leader or should I say ‘Chief’ of your bitch-ass crew. Did you think setting our campsite on fire with your amateur firework display, would teach us a lesson?”

To which I made an ill-advised snarky remark “I was hoping you all would take a lesson on fire safety. As you can see, it’s not something to…”

Before I could finish, he crushed his boot into my ribcage, expelling every atom of oxygen my lungs once contained. Brandon, annoyed by my insubordinate tough guy act shouted, “Can it, wise guy! You were walking a fine line before we caught your ass. Now it has all but dissolved under your feet. If I wasn’t such a nice guy, I’d let my ol’ pal, Casper, here have his way with you. But tonight, I’m feeling slightly charitable. I’m going to let you go as an example to your comrades. Show them what happens when you mess with the OC KINGS (Their posse’s chosen name)”

“The hell with that, B! Let’s throw this clown off the fucking pier! Look at my face! The cock-squeeze burnt off my hair, half my clothes, and all the damn chronic we had is fuckin’ TOAST YO! I ain’t ’bout to let this kid walk away, B” said, Casper, presumably because he is almost as white as the light you see before death. But he is better known as Ruxton Feinstein. A troubled Jewish youth who insists he was black in a previous life. Admittedly, Ruxton’s, call for my untimely death sent a chill down my spine. He’s always struck me as a sort of sociopath. But I dare not admit this assumption in his presence.

I was almost sure they wouldn’t consider a death sentence, but like I said, Casper, sort of has his own agenda. And why the hell does he think I am the leader? If I remember correctly, I got dragged into this disaster! Luckily, or so I thought, Brandon, cut back in “This panty waste isn’t worth the trouble, Cas. I’ve got something better up my sleeve. A ‘Classic’ so-to-speak”. Brandon lands one more well placed blow, his bare knuckles finding the soft spot near my right temple. All I remember from that moment on was falling to the ground, catching a glimpse of Casper’s freckled grin as he watched my skull crash into the sidewalk…

This was an assignment from one of my high school English teachers. She gave each student an image depicting a victim of the Holocaust; then we were to write a short story describing what life for that particular victim might have been like. My image was of a young boy whose clothes were tattered and torn with a smudge of mud grazing his cheek. He looked into the camera with dead eyes, as if what he saw in there changed him forever. I can only hope my description does the kid justice.

 I Saw It All

I saw it all in The Ghetto. Life, death and torturing. This was a place of horror. When the secret police raid The Ghetto we crawl into small holes in the wall and day after day one by one we would come out until it is all safe. The police would take older people first and then the children. The conditions were terrible yet we were forced to bear it. One day we were captured and sent to a camp. There we sat cold, wet and damp…

I saw it all. The black smoke and gray ashes fell like snow from the furnaces within the camp. This wasn’t snow though, snow is pure, this was something much more sinister. The stench was unbearable; they were burning dead bodies in those furnaces. Flesh, human flesh, was melted off the soul of some poor woman or child. Walls all around me with towers that look like sharp knives cutting through the thick black smoke. As ash lands on my cheek a tear wipes it off of my face. I was sure that I would end up in the furnace.

When we entered, the guards had us strip to nothing and they washed us off with disinfectant. Although by now the only thing they had left to strip us of was our dignity. I could feel it burn on my skin but that was the least of my worries. Where is my mother? They led us into the next room and they shaved off all of our hair; lice they said. After that we were all thrown outside onto the dirt and sand. They yell at us to get into a straight line and if anyone talks we get a whip across the face.

So we stand still waiting for instructions and then a few guards come out with boxes of what looked like cloth and as the guards unveiled it, it showed a white tunic to wear as a prisoner. On this tunic it had the Star of David with the letter “P” in the center. we had to wear these constantly back in Poland. I always saw it as a form of enslavement and had thought I got rid of it forever, but now I am back where I started though now in a more terrible place.

The first day passed and already I felt weak. Nothing to eat for 48 hours and only very little to drink. I am worried about how I’m going to get out of here.

 

Finally four icy months later our camp was liberated by the U.S. army and we were finally free. But, the feeling of freedom didn’t feel like it had before. It was empty, like the stomachs of my fellow captives. I saw a photographer and as he aimed his camera at me, I had a look of sadness and disappointment because what I have seen inside these walls will haunt me forever. My mind is still trapped.

 

He had a sort of unhinged excitement in his voice when speaking with this girl, his best-friend. Never for a moment did he take his eyes off of hers as she let words flow out of her mouth like a genteel waterfall, floating down into his ear canals; burrowing continuously her name into his head… Elaine Moore, or Ellie, as Gerry would call her.

No, Gerry had not harbored these feelings since they were kids. No, he was a young man going through mental and physical changes. Some call it “puberty”, and others may call it “high school”. And he had only begun to see what the female race could do to affect his demeanor. Ellie, was the only one who sent him so far beyond the limits of emotions that he never thought possible. But having Bella, as his rowdy girlfriend wasn’t a bad 2nd place. No matter how vigorously Bella, had tried to please him, Ellie had always taken the top slot in his priorities. Goodness she was a love-sick puppy, and Gerry was absolutely blind to the destruction he was causing Bella. She may have been one to run-around on guys before, but she always said that something about Gerry, made her feel like she could never be hurt by him. That he was the epitome of a modern chivalrous man. Never did she think once of reconnecting with one of her old flames. In her eyes, they were all minced meat compared to Gerry. But this was still OUR Gerry. The skinny, lanky, dorky, child. And boy did she adore him. Nothing could have prepared her for the end.

It wasn’t until the day that Ellie, left for her new destination that Gerry realized how much he truly cared for her. No longer as just a friend, but a suitor. He was going through an unmistakable change from a disinterested card-holding, he-man woman hater, to an intellectual lover overnight.

He realized how much he truly ached to hear her voice reverberating in his ear drums again without the aid of the copper wired telephone lines. How he longed to touch her lips with his own; even if a kiss would be too much, he would do with a touch of her hand against his. Just something to break the physical boundaries that only now seemed so formidable.

But where did these feelings come from? Surely, Gerry did not know himself. He assumed that since she had turned into a full-blown hotty- seemingly over the summer- (for lack of a better term) that he was simply becoming sexually attracted to her. With his reasonable mindset, this was all he chalked it up to be. But still, something ached deep inside him night and day so long as their distance apart remained the same. And soon he would have to either act on its call, or forever let it fall silent. Again, as much the man of reason he attempts to be, he cannot find a reasonable end for this situation. And in turn, he vowed to one day secure the hand of his true love, or potentially watch their friendship die in the wake of catastrophe.

The other day a good friend of mine approached me regarding an idea that he was very enthused about pursuing. So naturally, I was curious to see what it was that had him sending me three-page text messages containing what seemed to be a plot of some sort..

Well, he wants to create a devilishly haunting video game. One that will have the player quaking in their boots with each step they take. So to sum things up, he asked me to write the back-story for the game. Basically giving the characters some meaning and some information as to how they ended up in the position they are in during the game.  He gave me general guidance on how to write the intro and then essentially allowed me to have free reign.

So I thought it would be cool to post up our progress on my blog to get some exposure and potentially get some input from others who may have pointers or opinions on detail orientation etc. I hope you enjoy what we have so far! 🙂

P.J.- We were on the road again, Jane and I. Rebels with a cause; trying to find our own way through this frigid world we call “home” with nothing but the miserable hand we were both dealt to keep us moving. The night was pitch black, as if God forgot to pay the power bill and Zeus had no mercy for those afraid of the dark. No lightening, no stars; all on the night of a new moon. Just the rhythmic raindrops pelting my windshield and the sound of a bewildered jazz musician crooning his sorrows through the air-waves. Needless to say, I had been white-knuckling it all night.

Jane, was fast asleep in the passenger seat; lulled away by the smooth rhythm of Good Year tires gliding over a freshly paved road. Sweet, innocent Jane. She is all I have left in this world, and sometimes I feel as if I’ll never be strong enough to keep her safe. I look over and see her little hand cradling a picture of the family we used to have. The family that gave us everything they could, and asked for nothing in return.

Our mom, dad, our LIFE, all gone. Wiped out in the blink of an eye just weeks before. It happened on a family vacation. Apparently my mom, dad, the grandparents that haven’t succumbed to old age, and my best friend, Darryl were all going to surprise me with a visit on campus in Oregon. You know, the whole “familial-support” thing. I guess they really wanted to see me succeed, or they just wanted to drag me back home.

Alas, I couldn’t tell you even if I wanted to. Those answers –along with the only people in the world who cared for me– are lost in Rogue River after careening off the bridge in what was called a “freak-accident”. Maybe forever, or maybe until next week when the National Guard launches their State-Mandated search for the bodies. I hope they don’t find anything; maybe it’ll let Jane, hold on a little while longer.

I’m not holding out much hope though. It was a two-hundred and fifty-two foot drop (said the police report) to the bottom of a river that travels for miles with white water’s ranging from a babbling brook to a raging torrent; eventually dumping everything it consumes into the Pacific. It was a miracle that Jane was spared the horror in the first place, therefor I refuse to dwell on the specifics.

She is all I worry about now. My Aunt, Rose was in charge of caring for her during the Family’s visit. I guess Jane, had been having trouble coping with middle school. She didn’t make any friends, and the popular snobs tormented her to the point of retaliation. I thank God, every day since then; If she hadn’t punched the head Cheerleader’s lights out, I may have lost all sanity when the Sheriff’s department reported the nightmare that I am still trapped in. My parents forced her to stay home as a punishment. They said she would have to “wait ’till Christmas to see your big Brother”. Well, I guess Christmas has come early this year. God damn that jolly fat man.