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Farida Ezzat Dec 2012
I am patient and cold like the sea

I am patient and cold like you and me

I am patient and cold like the sea

I am patient and cold like the bumblebee



The bumblebee went out to sea

To fish a shell

But instead it just dropped dead

And went straight to hell



I am patient and cold like the sea

I am patient and cold like you and me

I am patient and cold like the sea

I am patient and cold like the key



The key is more than a key

It wants to find control

But after time it lost its chime

And fell into a black hole



I am patient and cold like the sea

I am patient and cold like you and me

I am patient and cold like the sea

I am patient and cold like the sea



The sea wants to be

Something more

But on the way it swam astray

And gulped its core

And now it is no more



I am patient and cold like something no more

I am patient and cold like you and me

I am patient and cold like something no more

I am patient and cold like you and me



You and me flew a tree

Up nowhere

But it crashed and you gashed

And left like despair

And now you’re not there



I am patient and cold like something no more

I am patient and cold like you’re not there and me

I am patient and cold like something no more

I am patient and cold like you’re not there and me
luci Jan 2018
Assisted suicide?
Physician Assisted Suicide is the process of a doctor providing the necessary sleeping pills/lethal dose to allow a terminally ill patient to perform the life ending act. In the United States, all but four states have made physician assisted suicide (PAS) illegal.When in a situation a terminally ill patient is in, they should have the right to commit a physician-assisted suicide.
In 1994, the state of Oregon enabled the Death With Dignity Act (DWDA). With 51% voting in favor of the act, it gives terminally ill patients access to PAS. Attorney General John Ashcroft challenged the act by saying it was not “real” and that allowing doctors to do perform that, violates the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). CSA protects the regulation of doctors from performing unauthorized distributions of drugs and drug abuse. If doctors are able to assist suicides, through Ashcroft’s claim, they would be using drugs as an abuse. In the Supreme Court, petitioner Paul D. Clement argued in the case about the violation of CSA, with 6-3, “we conclude the rule is not authorized by the CSA, and we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals” (Gonzales V Oregon).
Patients of irreversible illnesses often develop disorders that go underdiagnosed causing them to live a life that isn’t happy for them or their family members. According to Dr. Fine of the Office of Clinical Ethics, terminally ill patients usually get depressed when dealing with intense suffering. When the patient is depressed, they may not respond to treatment as expected. If the patient is not responding to treatment well, the doctor may up the dosage of medication or consider adding antidepressants, causing the patient to be reliant on medication for the rest of their life.
Patients who receive a terminal diagnosis usually experience high levels of anxiety.  According to Dr. Fine, anxiety can cause problems such as, agitation, insomnia, restlessness, sweating, tachycardia, hyperventilation, panic disorder, worry, or tension. Sleep deprivation plays a huge part in the anxiety the patients feel. The patient’s sleep is often interrupted many nights and several times to get their blood pressure checked, blood withdrawals, checkings of veins, etc. Because these medical requirements can not be withheld, many doctors may feel the need to heavily sedate the patient to make them feel lucid during the day time.
Studies have shown that patients of terminal illnesses fear that they’d burden their families. The patients feel, “grief and fear not only for their own future but also for their families’ future” (Johnson), researchers say. The feelings of being in the way can cause emotional, physical, social, and financial problems. In  doctors Johnson, Nolan, and Sulmasy’s research, they found that feelings of burden are most likely to affect emotional symptoms, quality of life, and patient satisfaction. Wanting to feel like they aren’t a burden to their families and society was most important to patients seen by the doctors. The research the doctors conducted found that out of a list of 28 qualities, the wish to not be a physical or emotional burden on family, 93% of respondents said that this was very or extremely important to them. The doctors made three categories of experiences that were related to “self-perceived burden” (Johnson). The first one being “concerns for other” (Johnson), then “implications for self” (Johnson), and last being “minimizing the burden” (Johnson). Feeling like a burden can cause “empathic concern engendered from the impact on others of one’s illness and care needs, resulting in guilt, distress, feelings of responsibility, and diminished sense of self” (Johnson).
To let a patient commit an assisted suicide means, they’re freed from pain. To force someone who knows that their time's coming to an end quickly when they do not wish to be in pain anymore should be a crime. In Epidemics, Book 1, it states, “practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient”, by allowing the patient to continue their life is harming them, all physically, mentally, and spiritually. Doctors take an oath, the Hippocratic Oath when practicing medicine. In the oath, there is a phrase that says “Also I will, according to my ability and judgment, prescribe a regimen for the health of the sick; but I will utterly reject harm and mischief”, if the patient has considered an assisted suicide, they’ve been in too much pain and wish for it to end. Refusing them the help causes them more physical and emotional pain; physical being the illness itself and emotional being the feeling of being a burden.
Patients with terminal illnesses have the right to commit assisted suicides because it allows them to end their life from something no drug would be able to fix. With the illness being irreversible, dragging it out will cause both suffering and financial problems. Terminally ill patients have the right to die with dignity. Dying by choice will let their loved ones know that they are ready and have accepted their fate, easing weight off their families shoulders. Having the ability to die will portray the patients as human beings who want to make one last decision before going rather than people who are laying in a hospital bed waiting to die. A patient knows that the doctor’s job is to relieve pain, with a doctor refusing their wish, only cause distrust in their relationship. Letting assisted suicide would allow their families to begin healing. By refusing the patient their right to die, forces them to live a poor quality of life no one would ever wish upon anybody. It is in everyone’s interest to let them go. Doctors have a responsibility to make the patient happy and to relieve them of any kind of pain, letting them go is relieving them of the pain they wish to no longer feel. PAS gives them the ability to go happily and contently.
Edward Fairley May 2017
Patience, the mother of wisdom
The bricks of a kingdom
She and revenge work in tandem
For only patient silence beckons revenge to come


Patient men, some call them spies
Many refer to them as watchful eyes
Keeping record of the times
And reading between the lines


The thing about a patient man is
He waits, and as he waits he watches
As he watches and he learns
And he keeps record of what he learns


The thing about a patient man who learns
Is that you never know what they know
Can't comprehend the possibility of them
Knowing all the wrong you've done though
It's quite possible they know and will show


Show whom you ask
Well the world, unless you do their task
For you see you can't stop the patient man from finding your well hidden plan
Because in the end you're sloppy past
Will always reveal itself to the patient man


The patient man, knowing what he knows
Could potentially rule the world if he chose
Because with the right ammunition he could make his foes
Comply to his wishes despite their moans and groans


For if that patient mans foes don’t foes comply
They may surely die
For not only their sins, but also their lies
For your sins will be revealed eventually, though hide them you may try


Truth be told of the patient man
He is not a perfect man
And must in the end stand
Trial for the sins he planned


For a planned sin is still a sin
For one to come up with the very notion
To break the law and commit treason
Can take some things from you in the final destination


And so people of the earth be mindful
For the patient man learns a handful
From those who plan and spill a mouthful
In the wrong place, us patient men see you as a fool


To expose your sins to the very people
Who could use it to stifle
Any resistance to whatever rule
They impose, or rat you out just because they are cruel


For patients is the mother of wisdom
And though the queen of boredom
Births revenge in her womb
And leads her enemies to their doom
preservationman Aug 2017
A matter of life and Death
Dr. Blake’s patient having not much time left
Heart problems with Cancer that has spread
Discussions with the patient’s family beyond compare
The hour having not much time to spare
Dr. Blake’s patient is suffering with pain
The Angering hours will continue to remain
Timely is everything
Medical Technology can’t help the patient to survive
I have done all the research and spoken to other specialist doctor’s with all having the same results
We can do more for the patient
The family is suggesting if there were any more tests that could be done
But over and over, there is none
All we can do is just wait
Destiny has the date
Dr. Blake sits in his office feeling more like a tiny room
The moment of announcement that could be soon
The patient is sleeping as comfortably as possible
Possibilities having no options
Suddenly Dr. Blake was summoned to the patient’s room
Announcement made throughout the hospital
When Dr. Blake entered the patient’s room, the patient was dead
Even though the hospital staff was trying to revive the patient, senseless tries failed
Death was the patient’s call
Establishment having no stall
A patient called up to Heaven having a rising spirit.
Francie Lynch Mar 2014
Zero One and modern blight
Travel at the speed of light.

We wondered on the Wandering Jew,
Or, in lieu,
Orthon, Urian or Lilitu.

We trepanned our empty skulls,
Searched our humours,
Were touched by Rulers!

Now troubling symptoms of want and need,
Have blighted growth of yesterseed.

Patient Zero left no lead.

East fingered West
(and vice versa)
Was Ireland really the cause of cholera?
Did Blacks languish in Tuskegee squalor?
We christened Mary, but drank the water.
Fracked Incubus and Succubus
From son and daughter.

Patient Zero left the slaughter.

We deprived women of their tea
To cure wandering womb hysteriae.
Deviances and leaking lesions
Were headwaters of women's *****.

Patient Zero has no season.

The barber sensed it might be smell,
So our widened streets became a sulfurous hell.
And wastelands swelled
Where curled cats dwelled.
(no talk of Michelangelo)

                                         II

Our children's blight has a techno name,
Like the rose, IT smells the same.
With zero tolerance I lay blame
On screens and phones and video games.

The world wide box stores flipped their lids,
Touching all who crawl the social grids;
From the base of Mammon's pyramid.

Now Jake believes he's a gangsta dude
Since posting whatever on You Tube.
Nothing to gain, nothing to lose:
No services rendered but expects what's due.

Inflated egos are a system symptom,
Clearing firewalls, reaching children.

Patient Zero is no phantom.

There is no tale of rat or flea
As cause of lost immunity.
There is no open sore to fester,
The Selfie is the X-ray picture.

Patient Zero is so much quicker.

In our gel of techno bliss,
On our elliptic petrie dish,
Bathed in more than we could wish,
Patient Zero will finish,
And with that whimper
All vanish.
preservationman Jan 2018
It will be that Hospital stay
Laboratory test that could last the whole day
Yet the Doctors will have their last say
There will be times when the Patient will need the bedpan
It’s always nature calling in demand
The bedpan helps when the Patient can’t get to the restroom
Nature is immediately taken care of on the moment of soon
This will be a flush out
But relieve in what the Patient will be talking about
The Nurses will do there normal routine
The Patient will be put on a restricted diet that will be totally lean
A Patient might think that is being mean
The bedpan available is when the Patient needs to go
A nature revelation being the flow
It’s nature in the know
Yet being attention in the Patient’s own show
Yes the bedpan and the Patient giving each other movement advice
However, it comes with timing having no need to think twice.
mom is sick her 90th birthday is in several weeks she says she has lived a long full life and is ready to die the doctors are trained to keep her alive i remember when the doctors kept dad alive while waiting for the cancer to attack a vital ***** i wonder if this practice of keeping people alive is humane mom forgets events 2 hours earlier walks into mirrors falls down wakes up with black eyes i’m having trouble sleeping thinking morbid thoughts maybe lots of people all around the world are waiting to die people ***** mutilated robbed cheated bankrupt homeless war victims old people with chronic diseases dependent on caretakers maybe millions of people are thinking about death waiting hoping praying for death faced with the growing problem of overpopulation why can’t we mitigate the suffering of those waiting to die i don’t understand



in early morning i drift out of sleep toss right turn left look out window glance Mount Lemmon stretch out on back planter flex dorsal flex toes extend arms out to sides over head look up at exposed redwood beams ceiling try to remember interpret understand what i was dreaming rise from bed brush teeth walk around make bed pull brush sheets try to take dump because i don’t want to embarrass myself in pilates class drink water slip on gym shorts head down stairs grab keys lock door scan garden always feel lucky if Saab starts drive to Tucson racquet fitness club pilates class



i am ready to move away from Tucson nobody here wants needs me no one reads my writings or is interested in showing buying my paintings sun scorches bakes intrudes invades rudely glaring mercilessly my skin suffers i am thinking about heading back east North Hampton Massachusetts or Hudson Valley area or Chicago where i have many friends or rainy Apeldoorn Netherlands where Pavanne and Shannon live or Eureka California where Shannon also resides i’ve paid my dues a thousand times hoping to achieve success i live in fantasy imagining outcomes that never come



younger attractive female doctor wearing white coat low heel black pumps enters room of 60 year old patient suffering from depression loneliness despair

DOCTOR please sit up and open your gown (she plugs stethoscope into her ears)

PATIENT you want to hear my heart

DOCTOR breathe deep breaths (she examines glands around throat under arms shines light into ears eyes nose mouth) hmmm what symptoms caused you to admit yourself

PATIENT i’ve been feeling frustrated defeated isolated anxious for a while

DOCTOR you look strong healthy height weight proportionate i think your problems are psychological you may want to find a good therapist

PATIENT i’ve seen many as a kid none helped

DOCTOR well if you think you’re ready to be euphonized i can schedule you for next week of course the hospital will need to make arrangements for disposing your body

PATIENT does it hurt

DOCTOR the drug industry has made huge advances in the last few years i’ve been informed the procedure is actually quite euphoric

PATIENT next week huh like Friday or Saturday next week

DOCTOR the hospital will contact you

PATIENT do i need to bring anything or what do i wear

DOCTOR the hospital will contact you with a list of details including an e-will if you have family or relations

PATIENT thank you for your kindness you’re really sweet and pretty i don’t see a wedding ring are you married or single my mom would love to hear i’m dating a doctor
Jasmine Oct 2014
My love, be patient,
Your heart has become dependent,
Upon my words and actions,
Mixed with fatal attraction.

My love, be patient,
I love you more than words could describe,
Love obvious on both parts from conversation,
You can't imagine my surprise.

My love, be patient,
Admission of emotion is a powerful statement,
It shocked me to realise how my heart jumps at the thought of you,
It is your love I cling too.

My love, be patient,
Our time is here,
No need to rush it,
I swore my walls would be high,
You pushed them down with ease,
You didn't even have to try.

My love, be patient,
You are my inspiration,
A sensation,
Sedation,
Your love is calming.

Please know I love you,
But my love, be patient.


Copyright© 2014 Jasmine Bryony Holmes
All rights reserved.
He will know!
r m b Nov 2015
be patient with me
I will argue with you to no ends
not because I hate your guts
not because your opinions are invalid
but because I like intellectual stimulation

be patient with me
I'm not the easiest person to deal with
I will not accept all of your excuses
and I hate it when things don't get done my way
because I've been let down hundreds of times before

be patient with me
I know more than I let on
I don't like laying all my cards on the table
and I know you want me to be more open
but I am made of layers and I'm being open I swear

be patient with me
I am quite sick in the head
my mental state isn't stable all the time
I'll try my best to be there for you when you need me
but sometimes my demons come after me

be patient with me
when I'm all better and good
I'll give you what you need and your wants
I'll make you proud and grateful
I will do my best to make you happy so just please

be patient with me.
Read the title every time you start each stanza. Some personal writings I found in my good old black notebook of thoughts.
PJ Poesy Jan 2017
The always-patient man had no longer a capacity to accept, his fists thwacking the gates of hell. He needed in. The icy hinged barrier crushed his knuckles, and the splintering molecules of frozen corpses, which hedged this entrance, fell in fine dust. Their eyes, the only warm flesh within the dead gatekeepers, begged him to back away. It only let him know, he, this man that was once so ever patient, belonged inside. Not wishing to give up, he struck, and struck the cryptic divide screaming, “Devils take me!”  You see, at the moment of his death, the gates of heaven opened up to him, and he being the ever most patient man, his soul rushed into the great light of empyrean. Yet when there, he could not see what he had expected, there was no wondrous feeling of euphoria. Nothing was there to give him that high, he had ignored himself so long, upon that dreaded earth, before his sobriety and solvency to God. That always-patient man had expectations of those feelings, which he felt criminal, and denied himself so long. Yet they were not there, in this heaven he imagined. This soul, that for so long had been a patient man, who had so piously paid his debts, had an epiphany. He was feeling gypped. So his soul swooped to hell. Not looking back he heard the gates of heaven slam. After this the man, patient no more begged Beelzebub, from chained and locked realm, “Satan, give me what I deserve! Stick your stake in me. Give me your pleasured poison!”  Then God and Lucifer appeared to him and morphed into one being. The whirlwind of good and evil they became said, “Life is strife or happiness, you choose. There is nothing here for you.” Suddenly incarnated again, into newborn gasping first breath, his mind went blank, but with an evolved spirit inhaled.

© PJ Poesy
01.09.2014
rootsbudsflowers Nov 2015
Eager eyes
And patient hands.
Such a silly combination
I'll try to mimic.
But while my eyes may be eager
My hands will reach for yours.
So impatient.
Be patient.

Your gaze is steady
When you sneak a peek.
A wild look is in my eye,
So full of desire.
So impatient.
Be patient.

Such casual fingers
Tracing so carefree.
Mine so direct,
So specific.
So impatient.
Be patient.

You move in closer
As though it is nothing,
As if it is normal.
I move in so unsure,
Is this what you want?
I want it to be.
I want it now.
I'm so impatient.
Be patient.

But you're growing more consistent.
More common.
More clear.
So I will follow your lead.
I will move at your strange pace.
There is no need to rush things.
No need to be impatient.
You're so patient.
Kam Dec 2018
Anesthesiologist places mask on patient,
coaching easier breaths,
stillness.
Finished-
he leaves, leaves
leaves, leaves.

Surgeon enters with shiny tray of metal tools,
Patient’s rib cage rattles,
rapid breathing, sporadic monitor
panic breaks hospital windows
shattered,
everything is shattered.

Patient cries of days lived in uncertainty,
mutters about metaphorical agony.
Surgeon is insecure in performing procedure—
due to patient’s complaints,
“Pain is a parasite inside my ears, laying eggs inside the brain, where maggots squirm through my eye making a home in the skull.”
Patient feels no pain,
but screams of
impalement by life - -

God, what would your diagnosis be?
God claims, “the heart fights for purpose.”
Patient believes there isn’t one.
A suggestion;
reason with patient to make payment or rental of new
blood circulation, chambers, ventricles, valves, atriums.

Patient takes scalpel,
opening own chest
with hand inside
Patient is unable to find source of hurting
but reports numbness.

current status,
human.

—V.H.
johnny solstice Jun 2019
........have you been taking your PILLS?"
said the DOCTOR
"are you *******?"
said the PATIENT

are you checking your *****?"
said the DOCTOR
"I don't think this is right"
said the PATIENT

"you volunteered to see me"
said the DOKTOR
"can I volunteer not to see you?
said the PATIENT

"I'm sending you to see a specialist"
said the DOCTOR
"I don't want to be on any kind of list"
said the PATIENT

"I think you're depressed"
said the DOCTOR
"I think you'd better get dressed"
said the PATIENT

"I'm supposed to say that"
said the DOCTOR
"just a bit of role-play"
said the PATIENT

same time next week?"
said the DOCTOR
"if you think it will help?"
said the patient
Lexie Oct 2014
I am like an alzeimer's patient
you can tell me everyday you love me
but by tomorrow I will forget
I am like an asthma patient
you can kiss me a million times
but I still find it hard to breathe
I am like a epileptic patient
you can hold me for forever
and I will still shake and tremble
I am like a diabetic patient
you can be so sweet to me
by tomorrow I will be in shock
I am like an amputee
you can break my heart
but I will still survive
I am like a cancer patient
you take my insides out
and I will still last a little longer
I am mentally retarted
because no matter how much I love you today
I still believe you say you love me more
two plus two is four
but you plus me is more
Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

There is a glacier.
Its blue tongue’s tip just tastes a frozen gorge.
There is a gorge, its walls shattered by cold; a once-green thing that, in dying, birthed a thousand aching fissures. It works its jagged way downhill, round ragged rifts and drifts until it comes upon a little frosted wood.
There is a wood, an island locked in ice.
Within this wood the gorge descends. It wanders and it wends; it brakes and all but ends outside a clearing wet with sun. And there, forking, its bent and broken arms embrace a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a glade.
And in this glade the black bears sleep, though salmon leap fat between falls. Here the field mouse draws no shadow, the eagle seeks no prey; they spend their while caressed by rays, and halcyon days are they. Here rabbit and fawn may linger, no longer need they flee. For in this timeless, taintless space, the Wild has ceased to be. (Outside the glade are shadow and prey, are ice and naked death. There blood may run freely. There the eagle, that thief, is a righteous savage, a noble fiend. But once in the glade he is dove, and has no taste for blood, running freely or otherwise).
And in this glade there nests a pool:  a dazzling, blue-and-silver jewel; profoundly deep, pristinely clear. All who sip find solace here, for this is the Eye of Being. They lap in peace, assuming blear, not knowing it is seeing. And ever thus this pool shall peer:  a silent seer, reflecting on—all that Is, and all Beyond.
(Outside the glade there lies a world where rivers ever run, where ghastly calves in random file revile a bitter sun. East, the day is born in mist. West she dies:  her rest, the deep. And North…North the Earth lies mute. Wind gnaws her hide, wind wracks her dreams. Wind screams like a flute in her white, white sleep).
But in the glade are tall, stately grasses, sunning raptly, spinning lore. Roots render the rhythms, blades bend without breeze, as signals ascend from the glade’s tender floor. (In this wise the glade weaves its word, airs its views. All the glade’s flora are bearers of news). They do not wither with fall, for in the glade there is no fall. They do not bind or wilt or brown—they gesture, spreading the mood, the mind; conveying, indeed, the very soul of the glade. As ever they have, as they shall evermore.
Bees do not hum here; they sing. They fatten the dream. Mellow and round are the timbres they sound, sweet is the music they bring. Birds do not sing here—they play. They carry the theme. Dulcet and warm are the strains they perform. Gifted musicians are they. (All in the glade are virtuosi. They were born to create. Melody, harmony, meter…are innate). Now the performance is lively and bright, now full, now almost still. For, though all in the glade may lean to the light, they must bend to the maestro’s feel.
And yet…there was a day, long ago in a dream, when this ongoing opus was torn. And on that day (so the lullaby goes) the wind brought a scream, and Dissonance was born.
There was a noise.
Moose tensed, their coffee eyes narrowed, their patient brows creased. Bees mauled the tempo, birds lost their place. The grass stood *****, all blades pointing east. There was a crash, and a shriek, and a naked, bleeding beast burst stinking through the fern, fell stumbling on its face.
Moose scattered:  unheard of. Sheep brawled, geese burst out of rhyme. The symphony, forever endeavored to soar sublime, fluttered, plunged, and, for all of a measure, ceased.
The pool was appalled…what manner brute—what kind of monster was this? Furless flank to forelimb, hide obscured by blood. As for its face…it had no face; only a look:  of shock frozen in time, of horror in amber. A deep welling rift ran temple to chin, halving the mask, caving it in. Such a grievous wound…the pool watched it stagger, on two legs and four, thrashing about till it came to a rise. There it labored for air, wiped the blood from its eyes, lashed at illusion, looked wildly round. Beholding the pool, the beast tumbled down.
And there this wretch plunged his thirst, drank his fill, fell back on his haunches.
The pool became still.
The two traded stares.
The glass read his features:  that durable eye pondered the wreckage and probed the debris. Revolted, the pool sought the succor of sky. But that thing remained—that face…in all creation…surely there could be…no other creature so ugly as he.
And he gazed in the glass.
Beneath the surface were…images…swimming in currents of shadow and light. He saw half-shapes and fragments…hideous men, exotic beasts…saw blue worlds of water, saw white worlds of ice…it was all so vague and unreal—yet somehow strangely familiar. Deeper he peered, but, as his mangled face neared, the sun smote the pool and the shapes disappeared. The brute pawed the ground and, dreaming he’d drowned, shook his head sharply and slowly looked round:
There were starlings at arm’s-length, transfixed with suspense, their tail feathers trembling, their dark eyes intense. Fantails and timber wolves, stepping in sync, paused for a sniff, stooped for a drink. Bees, pirouetting, threw light in his eyes. Seizing the moment, the pool pressed its hold.
And the glade revolved.
The freak watched it spin—saw the ferns’ greedy fingers reach round and close in, saw the tall grass rise high in an emerald sheen, swaying to rhythms from somewhere obscene. This place was madness; he struggled to stand, but, weak as he was, keeled over cold.
And the glade heaved a sigh, and the tall grass reclined, in curious patterns once rendered in whim. Far off in thunder the hard world replied, as iced pines exploded and screamed on the breeze. Down bore the sun, a chill just behind. The pool, grown blood-red, fended frost from its rim. Details dissolved in the oncoming tide. The pool dimmed to black. Night seeped through the trees.
Now flora found slumber while, pulsing below, the pool was infused with a soft ruby glow.
Soon birds bearing beech leaves, and needles of pine, laid down a spread and returned to the limb. But breath from the North blew their blanket aside. The wind grew in earnest, the air seemed to freeze.
And the wolf and the she-bear, of contrary mind, abhorring their task approached, looking grim. They sniffed him for measure, then, loathing his hide, growled their displeasure and dropped to their knees.
All night these glum attendants flanked his naked quaking form. The rising moon drew dreams in gray.
In time the man grew warm.

Morning swept through the glade in one broad stroke of the master’s brush, dappling the foliage with amber and rose. The pool was roused by the sweet pass of light. He opened his eye and the glade came alive:  into the whirlpool of life a thousand colors swam, chasing the scattering eddies of night. The magic of morning began.
Bluebird and goldfinch descended in rings, primaries clashing with robin and jay. Dollops of sun, repelled by their wings, spattered anew on the palette of day. Banking as one, the hues struck away.
There was a crowd.
And in this crowd that oddity sat, its chin on its chest, its rear pointing west. Its forepaws lay leaning, upturned and at rest. ***** and blood messed its muzzle and breast. Passed overnight. Or perhaps only dozed…tendril by tendril, claw by claw, the crowd decompressed:  the ring slowly closed.
And the stranger cried out and shifted his seat. His eyes sought his feet—rounding the arches, and topping the toes, the tall grass was questing. The little brute froze.
And the fauna took pause, and the flora went slack. Leaves followed talons, stems followed claws. Hooves tromped on paws as the crowd drifted back.
Not a breath taken. Not a move made. Stillness, like fog, enveloped the glade.
Now the grass tugged his feet, now the sea of jade splayed—left hand and right, the slender shafts reared. Gaining momentum, blade followed blade. The green field was torn till a deep swath appeared. The swath hurtled west, reflecting the sun. A hundred yards distant it died. Once more the grass stood, its tips spreading wide. The swath, born again, repeated its run.
Plain was the message, and clearly conveyed. The newcomer gawked. Confusion ensued.
The tall blades were swayed by the pulse of the glade.
But the swath was not renewed.
Something tiny bounced by. He ventured a peek, barely rolling an eye.
A chocolate sparrow, with pinfeathers black, popped past an ankle and paused to look back. The bird cocked its head, rocked in place, hopped ahead. It fluttered. It freaked. It glared and stopped dead. Vexed to its limit, it burst into flight.
The sitting thing watched till it passed out of sight.
Now a breeze bent his back, picked him half off his stern. The wind, done its best, grew flustered at last. It trailed to the west, thrilling lilies it passed. It wound round the willows and didn’t return.
So the fauna repaired to the live oak’s shade.
A strange kind of stupor fell over the glade.
From deep in the wood came a shape through the trees—a pronghorn, perhaps, or an elk swift and sure. But up limped a moose, a flyport with fur, low in the belly and wide at the knees. Wizened he was, scarcely able to see. Neither vision, nor vigor, nor velvet had he. He hobbled abreast, then groveled or died, his nose facing west, his tail flung aside.
The brute merely glazed.
But the glade was unfazed.
Those long shafts reshuffled. A tense moment passed.
The ominous shadows of badgers were cast. Three left their holes, as if to attack. They pedaled like moles and the stranger jumped back. He stumbled, fell flailing, and, kicking his guide, threw out his arms and tumbled astride. First he stepped on his tail, then he stepped on his pride. The moose bellowed twice and shook side to side while the little pest clung to his high, homely hide.
And the old moose unbent to his knees by degrees. He reeled like a drunk down the path of the breeze. Together they lurched through a break in the trees. And all morning long, and on through the day, both beggar and bearer would buckle and sway. The moose lost his temper, but never his way.
And the wind blew the sun to its deep ruby rest; the scrub, in obeisance, inclined to the west. Their slow taffy shadow in slinking would seem to slip round the rocks like a snake in a dream.
And the sun became a beacon, and the underbrush a stream. The wide Earth took their weight in stride, and the wind named him Hero.

                                               WORLD

When the sun was low the old moose began to stumble, at last limping to a halt beside a swift river lined with stunted pines. He’d half-expected a somewhat graceful dismount, but Hero, dug in like a tick, wasn’t about to let go. The moose knelt until his joints objected, shimmied, bucked, and with a sudden whirl sent the little bother flying.
Hero scraped himself out of the dirt and looked up forlornly. The ancient moose, his good eye gone bad, glared a long minute before hobbling away, his bony **** rocking with dignity, his scraggly tail fighting off imaginary flies.
Hero managed a few steps and dropped, staring in disbelief as the moose disappeared between half-frozen pines. He remained on his knees for the longest time, his jaw hanging, waiting for the moose—waiting for anything to show. At last a ruckus to his left snapped him out of it. His head ratcheted around.
Fifteen feet off the bank, three screaming gulls were dancing on an immense stone outcropping, fighting over a rapids-tossed sockeye. Hero was instantly famished. He wobbled to his feet and stumbled twice wading out, only regaining his balance by leaning against the current while rapidly wheeling his arms. The shrieking gulls reluctantly backed off as he stepped in slow-motion through the rushing water. Hero lunged at the slapping fish, cracked an ankle on the rock, and hopped around howling with both hands holding his shin. One foot was as good as none in the surging water. He went right under. Before he knew it he was being swept downriver.
This was glacial meltwater, so cold he quickly lost all sensation. Hero swallowed a mouthful and surfaced fighting for life; too disoriented to combat the current, too numb to realize his waving arm was striking something solid. That solid something turned out to be a swirling clump of rotted birches tangled up in scrub. He embraced one of these trunks as the mass slammed against isolated rocks, kicked his feet wildly, and somehow hauled himself aboard. The raft ricocheted rock to rock until repeated impacts sent it spinning. Giddy from the whirling and soaking, he clung freezing to the trees, retching continuously while the river roared in his ears. Through spray and tears he made out only cartwheeling fragments of the world.
But then the river was widening, its fury dissipating. The raft was approaching the sea. Hero gasped as the seemingly boundless Pacific swallowed the broad red belly of the sun. And as he spun he was treated to a panoramic, breathtaking spectacle:  the great indigo ocean with its slow traffic of driftwood and ice—voiced-over by the dismal calls of foraging gulls, and broken rhythmically by intermittent glimpses of the river’s rocky banks growing farther and farther apart. Whirling as it went, the dying man’s soul was taken by the sea.

At the 59th Parallel in winter, the Pacific coast plays host to numberless floes and minor bergs orphaned from Alaskan coastal glaciers. Hero cruised into a watery gridlock on a boat of ice-glazed birches, one bit of flotsam among the rest.
The cold wouldn’t let him move, wouldn’t let him breathe, wouldn’t let him think. He lay supine, feet crossed and hands clasped, terrified that to budge was to roll. An ice patina grew over the tangled trees like a white fungus—this growth soon webbed his fingers and toes, speckled his chest and thighs, glazed his hair and face, danced and disintegrated with his breath’s tapering plumes.
Floes and frozen-over debris tended to group with passing collisions; Hero’s married birches bit by bit accrued a mostly-submerged tangle of trunks and branches, all becoming fast in a creeping ice cement. Night came on just as resolutely, until land was only a flat black memory. The raft moved silently over the deep, still accepting the occasional gentle impact. And the floes became thicker and wider in a freezing doldrums; soon the proximate sea was all a broken field of packed ice, bobbing infinitesimally with the planet’s pulse.
Long ghostly strands of fog came striding over the torn ice field. They leaned this way and that, their mourners’ skirts tearing and patching and leaning anew. The ghosts were there to seal it:  their locked fingers and gray diaphanous wings were quickly becoming a wholly opaque descending shroud, its boundaries lost in the soughing wind.
Collisions came less and less. Darkness and silence, breaching some previously impenetrable barrier, began to take up residence in Hero’s chilling marrow. From his very center broke a weak little cry of refusal, of denial, as mind mustered frame in one desperate bid for freedom. His skin, frozen to the raft, peeled right off, and at that his inner brave succumbed. Hero’s smashed head arched back. His face contorted frightfully while the little lamp fluttered and paled within.
A raucous chorus slowly worked its way through the mist. It emerged a few hundred yards off—a tiny, terrified barking, growing in clarity as it grew in volume and urgency. It was a sound beacon. Hero strained eagerly, and when for one excruciating minute the beacon was cut off by a large passing body, was certain death had claimed him. Then it was back, and his heartbeat was quickening. He caught a heaving sound…something was moving his way down a wide tributary between floes. Hero could hear a gasping and snorting, accompanied by a hard slapping and splashing. The sounds vanished. In a moment the raft was rocked from below.
A sputtering muzzle blew salt in his eyes. A cold slimy flipper flapped across his chest and slapped about his face. The fur seal barked directly in his ear. Whiskers raked his dead cheek. The seal barked again.
Back below the surface it slipped. Hero listened anxiously as the splashing sound retreated whence it came.
The seal swam off perhaps a hundred feet and began barking hysterically.
From much farther off came a profusion of answering barks.
The seal swam back to Hero’s raft, circling and calling, circling and calling, while the responders approached en masse.
Now a sallow beam could be seen cutting through the fog. Several more showed vaguely along a plane yawing with some huge, barely discernible object.
A herd of northern fur seals burst into sight, barking madly, beating through the ice. They converged on Hero’s raft, really bellowing now.
Those odd yellow beams came in pursuit, and soon were close enough to eerily illuminate a gigantic wooden vessel parting the ice. The seals barked ferociously. Whenever the vessel leaned away, those nearest Hero’s raft would absolutely howl.
The fog deepened, condensed, crystallized, and then the collective light of a dozen lanterns was playing over a low, listing nightmare. Hero could hear the shouts of many aggressive men, but the waterborne seals, rather than scatter, boarded the ice and redoubled their din, fighting their way onto his quickly mobbed raft.
The sealers hurled serrated spears even as they clambered down rope ladders. When these men reached the ice the seals snapped and gnashed madly, refusing to be dislodged. The sealers lost all composure with the thrill of the hunt:  wielding clubs, spears, and hatchets—sometimes using iron bludgeons or any old utensil handed down—they crushed skulls, dragged carcasses, hooked animals still spurting and bleating. Clinging though he was, Hero was flabbergasted by the way the slipping and scampering men went about their butchery, hacking and smashing more with passion than with precision. But not a single seal attempted to flee—throughout the carnage they barked all the louder, egging on their slayers, carcass by carcass drawing the impassioned sealers to Hero’s ice-locked raft.
It was all so hazy and macabre. Hero’s eyes rolled back, and the next thing he knew he was sitting hunched on the vessel’s sopping deck. Two men were rubbing his limbs while another poured warm water down his back. He looked around in shock. The very notion of a boat containing more than one or two individuals—a sort of floating tribe—was way beyond his ken; so to see it, to have it come looming out of nothingness, was an experience almost supernatural.
He remembered some of those fur-covered men force-feeding him mouthfuls of halibut and seal fat, and he recalled a small group standing around him, shouting words that made no sense at all. After that he had a very vivid memory of their angry little chief repeatedly punching him while hollering one angry little word over and over and over. Hero couldn’t make out his inquisitor’s face, for the large feather-lined hood quite engulfed the man’s head, yet he could see those quick eyes flash as they caught the oil lamps’ light. Finally this man stopped boxing Hero’s ear. He stared hard. In these remaining decades of the tenth century it was fully within his power to administer as he saw fit—he could have ordered Hero’s immediate execution and not a man of his crew would have objected. He hesitated only because there wasn’t a hint of resistance in his prisoner’s pinched and frightened eyes. He leaned forward, studying the wound that all but split Hero’s face in two before grunting, raising his right arm, and yanking down its seal hide sleeve. Attached to the stump of his forearm was a primitive prosthesis consisting of a thick oak cap strapped to the arm with lengths of gut, and, hammered squarely into the center of that cap, a broad, cruelly hooked blade chiseled from a narwhal’s tusk. He held this obscenity in front of Hero’s eyes, traced the face’s deep diagonal rift, and once more demanded his captive’s identity. Hero then vaguely remembered being dragged along a tilting deck and thrown into the ship’s tiny hold. He retained a strong mental image of landing in a place of musty odors and dank projections.
There came a soft scuffling in the darkness, and presently a blind and exceedingly old woman felt her way to his side, mumbling as she approached. Her speech was comprised not of words; it was rather a running gibberish of cooing vowels and clucking consonants. The old woman was as mad as her circumstances; sick with sea and solitude, bedeviled by age and confinement. She sat cross-legged, patting her withered palms up his arm until she came to his face. Her strange mumbling soliloquy rose and fell as her bony fingers daintily explored the newly opened wound. Hero let his head fall back in her lap. A pair of hands like emaciated tarantulas scurried through the filth and tiny bodies until they came upon an old otter’s pelt bag that held her secrets. The woman loosened the bag’s cord and extracted an assortment of herbs, sniffing each in succession. She then scooped a handful of blubber from a bowl made of a previous occupant’s skull, kneaded the selected herbs into the blubber, and commenced gently massaging the wound, clucking and cooing while the black rats watched and waited.
For nine interminable days Hero remained in that cold, stinking compartment, rocking back and forth between life and death. The old woman never gave up on him. She clung to him during his seizures, rubbed his limbs vigorously when his blood pressure fell. She gathered various accumulated skins and, using woven strands of her own long hair, sewed him a multilayered, body-length wraparound with arm sleeves and very deep pockets, working by touch with a needle formed of a cod’s rib. By this same method she was able to fashion a pair of heavily lined snug-fitting moccasins. The old woman made him eat; she masticated the cod and halibut their keepers pitched into the hold, then shoved the results down his throat with a long gnarly forefinger. She called into his screaming nightmares, talking him out of sleep and back into their foul little reality. Together they lowed in the dark, while the keel groaned along and the waves beat time.
At the end of those dark nine days his strength was restored, but not his mind. Once again he was taken on deck.
The vessel had reached a chain of remote wind-swept islands, rocky and treeless, naked except for patchy carpets of hardy grass. These islands stretched far to the west, shrouded in mist. The ship was making for the smallest; just a chip on the sea. When they reached depth for anchorage Hero was hustled into a rowboat and lowered over the side. He looked up, saw two men climbing down by rope. These men positioned themselves at the oars and slowly rowed toward the islet. Seated between them, Hero felt like a man being led to his execution. He snuck a peek. The rowers’ heads were lowered, their features completely obscured by the heavy feathered hoods; they had all the somberness of pallbearers. Not a word passed between them as they rigidly worked their oars:  the only sound was the dip-and-purl of wood in water. Hero looked away. Against his will, he found his eyes drawn to that rocky islet waiting in the fog.
Not a bird, not a sea lion, not a shrub. It was lonesome beyond imagination.
Upon landfall one of the men used a spear’s point to **** Hero ashore. While his companion steadied the boat, he removed a skin sack full of half-frozen halibut, followed by a few armloads of precious tinder. These articles he tossed at Hero’s feet. He resumed his place at the oars and, without looking back, used the blunt end of his spear to shove off.
Hero watched the boat moving away, watched the men climbing their ropes, watched the boat being hauled aboard. As the mysterious vessel receded he saw a number of those silent men standing at the stern, stolidly returning his stare. Their hooded forms grew smaller and smaller, finally becoming indistinct. The vessel was swallowed up in fog.
Hero looked around, at a desolate world of rock and drifting ice. In the sunless pools at his feet a few purplish, flaccid sea anemones were waving in a sickly phosphorescence; along the rocks ran a tattered quilt of wild grass and lichen. It was the end of the world. He began to pace in his anxiety, only to crumple bit by bit inside his furs. At last he just sat with his face in his arms and wept. When he could weep no more he raised his head and opened his red, swollen eyes.
There were gulls all around him, staring like statuary in a madman’s garden. Standing in their midst were auks and puffins and murres, absolutely spellbound, unable to lean away. The silence was broken only by a wild, fitfully pursing wind—a wind that seemed, eerily, on the verge of producing syllables. And on that wind a flock of terns was rising slowly, their beady eyes fixed on the lone sitting man. The terns watched as he trembled, and banked as he swooned.
Then, beating as one, they threw back their wings and blew into the sun.

There was a blaze.
Behind that blaze a pair of black, bug-like eyes met his and immediately withdrew. A man wrapped in caribou hides stood abruptly, drawing angry swarms of sparks.
The Aleut peered queerly into the icy Pacific, his craggy profile merging seamlessly with a jumble of rocks showing just beyond his shoulder. The man was very tall, closer to seven feet than to six, and thin almost to emaciation.
He was also a mute. Soon enough he would display a talent for communication through gutturals, but now his body language spoke louder than words. It told the shivering stranger that he was not only disliked—he was feared.
The islander removed the hides he’d piled on the sleeping man. He produced a bone awl and strategically pierced a caribou hide, draped the hide over the old woman’s handiwork, and ran a cord of tightly woven tendons crosswise through his made holes, knotting it at the bottom to create a kind of cloak. He then killed the fire, heaped wood, fish, and remaining hides into Hero’s arms, and led him to a tiny cove where his long skin canoe lay in the grass. This was not the one-man kayak used by his people for centuries, but an actual canoe modeled on the graceful vessels he’d observed under the control of northern coastal tribesmen. After dragging it into the water he perched Hero in the fore, placed the cargo in the middle, and stepped into the rear like a gaunt furry spider. The Aleut dug out a paddle and began pulling with smooth strokes of surprising muscularity, his black eyes trained on his quiet companion’s back.
So began their long island-hopping journey. They stepped the chain one stone at a time, living off the sea. But much as the islander disliked Hero’s vapid company, it was not in his nature to proceed expeditiously; his people, remote as they were, had learned to count not in days but in generations. Given this, the Aleut took his time. He showed Hero how to build shelters of skin and gut; during bad weather the two would sit on an island in utter silence while rain hammered on their stretched seal-intestine window. And one very clear night he pointed out constellations while attempting to demonstrate, using broad gestures, just how the brighter heavenly bodies were in perfect alignment with the Aleutians. Hero followed his guide’s gestures as a pet follows its master’s movements and, like a pet, soon became bored. The Aleut did not grow flustered. He grew ever more wary:  behind that granite, weather-beaten exterior squirmed a very primitive imagination. Superstitious as he was, the Aleut was almost certain Hero could read his mind. So one time, and one time only, he threw a searing look at the back of Hero’s bowed and listing head. After a long minute of vigorous thought-projection he shifted his gaze aside. The brute appeared to feel this shift, and gently turned his head. And both saw the ocean break rhythm, and watched as otters and sea lions surfaced, noted their progress, and slipped without tremor beneath the waves.
In spring the fogs lifted. The grimness gave way to serenity, a generous sun buttered the dappled sea. On the islands grass grew lushly. Wildflowers leapt on the color-starved eye.
And one day the islander’s nape itched. He turned to see a flock of arctic terns casually tracking them under a gorgeous, white-plumed sky. As the day progressed the terns came drifting high overhead, slowly but surely taking the lead.
The Aleut squinted against the sun. He’d never known these birds to pursue a westerly migratory pattern—the terns were distributing themselves into a rough wedge shape, much like geese on the wing.
For a while he let the flock be his guide. Then, to test his stars, he cunningly steered his canoe north. At once the wedge disintegrated. Not until he’d lowered his eyes and pulled purposefully to the west did the disrupted pattern reassert itself. He peered up timidly. The wedge was now in the shape of a perfect arrowhead.
Just so were the fates of mariners and aviators inextricably entwined. At night, once the Aleut had landed his canoe on the nearest pearl, the terns would light in a quiet circle and remain until sunrise. As the Aleut and Hero took to sea, the flock would quickly form that same authoritative pattern.
In time the Aleut paddled his companion clear to the westernmost islands of the Aleutian chain. His people had dwelt, even here, a thousand years and more, but no contemporary islander knew for certain what lay beyond. Legend told of an enormous land mass forever gripped by cold, where a cruel people waylaid innocent seafarers for barbaric sacrificial rites.
So here the islander paused. But even as he vacillated he noticed the terns were veering south.
If the Aleut had been able to curse aloud he would have been vociferous. He was being compelled to follow an even less desirable course—that of the unknown open ocean. Now he looked upon his passenger’s hunched back not with fear but with loathing. He took a deep breath, rolled his shoulders, and defiantly continued west. The wedge broke up immediately. The terns dive-bombed the canoe, whirled around the windmilling Aleut, tore skyward and hovered determinedly. Something huge broke surface behind them, but the Aleut was way too frayed to turn. He dropped his head, a beaten man, and began paddling south. Little by little the birds returned to formation.
The tiny canoe had no business going up against the mighty Pacific. It would soon have been swallowed and smashed, had not the terns veered in close formation whenever the distant sea appeared too rough. Once he’d lost his bearings the Aleut religiously followed their serpentine course.
The days began to warm.
Now the sea’s bounty all but leapt in the canoe.
It seemed the Aleut was forever catching the finest currents, practically sliding down a corridor entirely free of peril. In this manner he was able to safely navigate waters no such craft had mastered before.
They were proceeding south by southwest, awed children of a plenteous, generous sea. The going became easier by the day, the ocean heavier with cod.
Nights the Aleut drifted comfortably, but a lifetime of wariness made him wake off and on. He’d slowly rise to find Hero sitting quietly under the stars, and soon he’d see, pallid in moonlight, a large body neatly pleating the ocean’s surface. The shape would precede them a while, only to vanish without a ripple.
All this strangeness kept the Aleut’s heart in a whirl, though he took pains to maintain his poise.
To allay his fear he kept a flat black stone planted squarely between them. It was his oldest treasure; an oddity he’d taken off the body of a mauled Tlingit woman when he was a child. Who she was, and how she’d come by the stone, were mysteries far beyond him, for no such piece had ever been known to Aleut or Inuk.
The stone was smooth and had been worked perfectly round. Bright yellow specks were scattered about its dull black face.
Long ago someone had etched a quaint and clumsy rune on that flat black surface—it was the crude, universal symbol for sun:  a broad circle surrounded by several rays. When the stone was rubbed against a pelt it possessed the curious property of growing quite warm and bright in the rune’s grooves, while the surface remained cool and dull.
This stone, both friend and overlord, had always “spoken to him”. It caused him to become restless when it was time to move on, and allowed him to relax when a destination had been reached. In this way he’d come to the familiar islet and discovered the unconscious little man. Just so:  the stone, he was sure, was responsible for making him “feel bad” as he watched the stranger shiver, and “feel better” once he’d built him a life-saving fire from the small pile of tinder he’d found nearby.
By now, however, the Aleut was wholly disenchanted with his stone, and deeply regretted having done its mysterious bidding. Never before had he been so long from sight of land, and never before had he felt so very, very small. The unimagined immensity of the Pacific was really starting to get to him when, after all their while at sea, a gray, seductive haze broke the horizon. They had reached another chain of islands, an Asian chain, the dark and smoky Kurils. Here a cold current kept the climate cool and foggy, and the chill, along with the prevalence of otter and seal, made him feel almost at home.
But this place gave him the creeps; he was a stranger, a trespasser somewhere sacred. There was a looming quality to the island mountains that made him extraordinarily aware of his transience, his pettiness, his puniness. He grew more and more cautious, sure their progress was being monitored—he could have sworn he saw wraiths in the trees, and wolves padding warily in the brush. The big islands looked on breathlessly. All along the rocky cliffs, thousands of auks and puffins followed the canoe in dead silence, their heads turning simultaneously, their countless tiny eyes peering redly through the fog. As the weeks passed, the Aleut’s anxiety was manifested in tics and sighs, and he’d cringe each time the crimson sun sank behind those black volcanic summits. In his imagination the mountains would rise right out of the sea, as though to pluck him. But the islands, in all their dignity, would always refuse to acknowledge so meek a stranger, and return their eyes to sea. The Aleut would hang his head, and timidly paddle by.
Then for days and days he pulled his weary canoe west—through a strait parting two mighty islands not part of the chain, and thence across a sea that was a warm, enticing bath. Spring had come to the East Asian coastal waters, and the Ainu, alone and in groups, were venturing deeper in search of increasing bounty. The Aleut, absorbed in his thoughts of sweet climate and bitter fate, was unaware they’d been spotted.
This first meeting between strangers of different worlds was a brief and awkward one. A lone Ainu fisherman, seeing the Aleut come paddling out of the unknown, dropped his net and turned to stone. The Aleut, for his part, instinctively froze with his body turned half-away to make the leanest target possible. Their stares locked. Never had the Aleut seen a face so heavily bearded, and never hair so fair. The Ainu began banging on his bronze catch pail. Other fishers soon appeared from the north and south, effectively cutting off the canoe. The Aleut caressed his stone and looked to the sky. The wedge had vanished. He put down his head and paddled for all he was worth.
With the word out, uncountable fishing craft appeared out of the blue and broke into hot pursuit, their pilots determined to force the canoe ashore.
Suddenly they were in sight of land, and the sea was absolutely riddled with watercraft. A train of small boats cast off from the mainland, even as a posse of two-man coracle-like tubs began to surround the battered skin canoe, their inhabitants calling back and forth in astonishment at the sight of these dark, savage newcomers. But the pursuing little coastal men, banging excitedly on the sides of their boats, were not Ainu. They had very straight black hair, prominent cheekbones, and strangely slanted eyes. And their speech, oddly marvelous as it was, was a rapid series of coos, chirps, and barks. Their boats formed a tight semi-circle around the canoe, forcing the Aleut to approach the mainland. The little men banged their boats maniacally, with more joining in as the canoe neared shore.
A bit farther south was a natural harbor swarming with fishing vessels of every description. As the canoe was forced into this harbor, people along the rocky coast began banging whatever they could get their hands on, until the air was filled with their lunatic percussion.
Tiny brown men came running along a soft yellow cliff overlooking the harbor, gesturing wildly. The canoe was squeezed between a chain of tubs and the shore, and, as it slowed, the tempo and ferocity of the banging decreased accordingly. When the canoe came to a halt the banging and shouting stopped. Hero creaked to his feet. The first North American to set foot on Asian soil stepped out shakily.
There followed the profoundest silence imaginable.
A second later it was as if a dam had burst.
Hundreds of hysterical, yammering voices erupted from hundreds of hysterical, clinging men and women. Hero was spun around, jostled about, handed along. He stared into their astounded, pinched little faces, and the sun, pulsing between their heads as he was turned, repeatedly stabbed his eyes. There came an excited outburst and frantic splashing which could only have been the Aleut’s violent demise, and then Hero was somehow limping alongside a primitive fishing village, blindly following a narrow dirt path that hugged the yellow cliff’s base. The warm spring sun caught the dust as he shambled. He rounded a bend and stopped.
Half a dozen children stood in his way, too fascinated to run. A chatter and scuffle rose behind him. He looked back to see that he was now in the midst of a small crowd of these children, and that more were running up with cries of amazement.
A stone struck his shoulder. As Hero turned another glanced off his chest.
A moment later he was being pelted from all sides, and the giggles and gasps had become something wildly unreal. He dropped to his knees in a hail of hurled rocks, covered his head with his arms, and slithered up the path on his belly.
A new voice broke in; an older, authoritative voice.
The children scampered off squealing.
Hero, shaken to his feet, found himself face to face with a diminutive, shouting, incomprehensible old man. The old man threw his arm around Hero’s waist and, jabbering all the while, led him to a secondary path cut into the cliff’s face. This path sloped gently upward over the waves. Together they picked their way to a place maybe halfway up, where the cliff’s face was honeycombed with natural alcoves and dug-out caves. Most of these spaces were used as one-man shelters; a few, cut deeper in the earth, as family hives. Strange gabbing people slid out of these holes like worms, reaching, but the little old man, who was evidently a little old man of some stature, embraced his find possessively and shouted them back inside.
The path narrowed as they climbed.
At its summit spread the upscale end of the neighborhood. Hero was led to a hovel nestled amid dozens of similar hovels, all scattered around a dainty stream wending between patches of stunted vegetation.
The old man’s place was basically a one-room hut fashioned of earth and salvaged boat hulls, with a slender side-yard surrounded by dry, dusty hedges. But inside it was clean and tidy, with rice paper partitioning and, built into the far earthen wall, a miniature stone fireplace. The old man sat his guest in the exact center of the room. There he fed him scraps from his bowl, using long sticks to pluck out bits of fish and clumps of tiny, starchy white pellets.
He studied the brute closely, watched him chew, walked round and round him. He poked here. He pinched there.
And that night he lit a fire on his crushed-shell hearth.
Hero curled up on a mat where the gossip of flames could reach him. Nearby, at his delicate wicker table, the old man sat in semi-darkness, illuminated only from the waist down.
But his eyes were alive. They spat and darted as they reflected the fire’s light, and, when at last they’d begun to sputter, his scratchy little voice came pattering out of the dark, muttering something vile and oddly modulated, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a gathering snarl.
Hero feigned slumber, unable to ignore those paired ominous flashes. Still, the room was cozy, and the fire warm, and the play of light and shadow kicked sleep in his eyes.

In the morning he woke in the old man’s side-yard, his head pounding, a rusty iron clamp securely fastened around his neck. This clamp was attached to the outermost link of a crude three-foot chain, and the link at the other end to a long stake driven into eight inches of solid rock. The chain and stake, like the clamp, were hammered of local iron. The clamp was too tight for comfortable swallowing, the chain too short to make standing possible. Hero could, however, spread out on his chest and stretch an arm to a low row of hedges. By parting the tangled undergrowth he had a limited view of the fishing village below, and of the harbor beyond. As the days passed he was able to tweak himself a view-space discernible only from his peculiar vantage. He accomplished this by gently breaking small branches strategically, then guiding their interrupted growth with the utmost tenderness. It was his secret garden.
He had no memory—none whatsoever—of being staked here. Obviously the old man hadn’t set this up overnight. Hero’s mind prodded timidly…how many others had been chained to this spot, and why?
But over the subsequent weeks and months he went beyond caring. Each day was the same:  just after dawn the old man would storm into the tiny side-yard swinging his reed whip wildly. The lashings were savage and unremitting. The old man, except for his eyes, would be mute. Only his whip need speak. And the snap of his reed had but one message:  when you see this whip you go down, and you go down immediately.
The naked savage, scarred head to foot, learned to go prostrate on the moment. Even so, the old man couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge in the occasional good old, all-out thrashing. And after each session he would toss the prisoner a vile mess of dead fish and rotting leftovers.
Hero lived like this for many months, lost in a confused world of pain and anticipation. Perversely, he came to look forward to the bite of that whip, for, whether he flogged him in passion or just for sport, the old man was always sure to make it personal. It seemed their relationship might go on forever.
But one day there was a great commotion in the sleepy little fishing village. Hero parted the leaves and beheld a small train of oblong coaches at rest near the harbor. Large oxen yoked in pairs lolled between the carriages, immune to the clamor around them. There were dark shaggy horses and colorfully dressed Bactrian camels. The horses and camels were tethered in the rear, but were occasionally paraded around the carriages by little men wielding long painted bamboo poles. The whole affair was exotic and mesmerizing, eccentric and profane. Hero watched all day in amazement, infected by the hubbub, though he was totally mystified by the crowd’s fascination on the carriages’ far side.
And late that afternoon he saw the old man come walking out of that crowd, talking heatedly with another man. The stranger was shorter and broader than the old man, with long stringy hair and long stringy mustaches. He saw them climbing the path, saw them crawl inside a hole lashing furiously. They were lost from view for a minute, then popped up big as life. Hero glowed and curled up eagerly as they approached.
The old man and stranger came into the narrow side-yard still arguing. The old man grabbed Hero by the hair and twisted until he was facing the newcomer.
The stranger had oily, porous skin, and a round but grave countenance. His highly slanted eyes were bright and restless. He studied Hero’s mutilated face with keen interest before borrowing the old man’s reed. When Hero scraped at his feet he grunted and returned the reed.
The stranger pulled out something shiny and hefted it in his hand. He then raised his other hand while considering Hero, as though weighing him too. The old man’s eyes glinted, and for an instant his expression became grotesquely servile. The stranger and old man, facing, nodded curtly in unison. The stranger dropped the shiny thing onto the old man’s itching palm. The old man whipped Hero frantically before taking a small ax to the chain. A few hard blows split a link, the broken link was bent back by the tool’s shaft, and the prisoner was at last released.
The old man handed the stranger a short hempen rope. The stranger bowed deeply. He then tied an end of the rope through one of the remaining links and began dragging Hero along. Hero’s hands sought the old man, who kicked and cursed him all the way to the path. The three stumbled single-file to the bottom. The old man waved his arms and shouted hysterically, trotting behind until he ran out of breath. But he got in a final kick and, before he came to a gasping halt, managed to lash Hero once for old time’s sake, and to spit on him twice for luck.

There were five carriages; a long one in the center hitched to four oxen, and two smaller coaches in the front and rear with a pair of oxen on each. The carriages were old and battered, built of splitting wood slats and rusted iron braces. Various hides, spare wheels, and a hundred odds and ends were tied to the sides and roofs. Hero’s new master, using him as a ram, shoved him through the crowd to the long carriage. He hauled him up the single wood step and watched the crowd’s reaction. Children hid behind mothers, mothers hissed and jeered, men spat in that smashed, disgusting face.
Satisfied, Hero’s master twisted the rope tighter and dragged him through the hide flap that served as the carriage’s rear wall.
A strange ruckus began at their entrance.
Inside the carriage were bulky shapes and quirky movements, yet the immediate and overwhelming impression was one of unbelievable stench. Hero, instantly covered with flies, was kicked and shoved down a foot-wide aisle. The carriage’s walls were riddled with black flecks of old dried blood, the floor coated with standing *****, a variety of small carcasses, and some clinging, indefinable slime. But the living contents of this hell were so horrifying, and so unexpected, that Hero at once dropped to his knees. Observing this, master grabbed a whip off the wall and lashed him along the floor.
A number of bamboo cages lined either side of the carriage, each four feet high, four feet wide, and three feet deep. In the first cage to their left, a quadruple amputee dangled in a leather harness in a cloud of flies, jealously gnawing a chicken carcass balanced on his belly. The second cage held a man who had been burned over ninety per cent of his body, and the third a middle-aged woman with no eyes or tongue, her head shaved. The next cage housed a fully grown black leopard, its bright eyes fixed on the horrified newcomer. Then an empty cage, and finally a cage containing a demented man whose long yellow nails were busily raking a face deeply scarred and bleeding.
The first cage against the opposite wall held two girls rolling in their own excrement. Siamese twins unable to part, they had developed a unique method of locomotion, and now executed a three-quarters cartwheel in Hero’s direction, their mangled, severely bitten hands attempting to reach him through the bars. In the cage next to theirs a naked dwarf glowered menacingly, his eyes following coldly as Hero’s master shoved him down the narrow aisle, occasionally pausing to lash a cage. The hissing and howling increased as each prisoner beheld the new neighbor.
The third cage held an intensely sick adult Bornean sun bear, so confined it was entirely unable to move. Its hide was a patchwork of scraggly fur and grayish skin, glistening with odd eruptions. It rolled its sunken eyes in Hero’s direction, its muzzle twitching feebly.
The next cage contained a man who was frightfully diseased. Broad fungal patches covered his face and limbs, terminating in waxy folds that dangled like a rooster’s wattles. Welling sores spotted his chest and back. His eyes were bugged and sallow; his lower lip drooped below his chin. He barked wetly at Hero’s passing legs.
The second-to-last cage housed a rare, completely hairless Chinese albino, and the last cage a very tall, skeletal woman. The albino snapped at Hero while repeatedly banging his head against the cage. The woman hissed and coiled like a snake, her spine arching amazingly.
Master hauled Hero to the empty cage on his left, swung its door open with his foot, and forced him to his knees by pushing down with all his weight. He kicked and punched until Hero had been squeezed inside, then shut and secured the wide bamboo door.
Master inched his way back down the carriage, hammering the **** of his whip on each cage as he passed. There was a glimpse of daylight as he lifted the flap.
Once he’d departed, the carriage grew eerily silent.
Hero cautiously turned his head. Less than a foot away, the black leopard was frozen in place, one paw waving hypnotically in his face. The beast’s fangs were bared, its ears straight back, its eyes glistening. Hero turned ever so slowly, until he was looking into the eyes of the demented man in the final cage. The man cocked his head quizzically. A second later he was screaming his lungs out in a bizarre downward spiral.
At once the carriage erupted. The freaks shrieked and scrabbled, the leopard spun in place. Directly across the aisle, the albino hurled himself against the bars of his cage. He batted his face with his fists, threw back his head, and just howled and howled and howled. The snake woman curled even tighter, her long scrawny legs entwined behind her head.
Hero sat with breath held, absolutely silent, absolutely motionless. He very, very slowly closed his eyes.

Later that night the flap was flung high. The menagerie came alive as master, weirdly illuminated by moonlight, slowly made his way down the aisle carrying a skin sack oozing blood. He stopped at each cage to toss in a dying chicken and a handful of smelt.
When he reached Hero’s cage he looked down thoughtfully.
He extracted a quivering chicken and held it above the cage so that blood dripped on the brute’s deeply pleated forehead. Hero lowered his eyes. Master’s face darkened. He smashed the bird against the cage, over and over, a vein throbbing in his temple. Finally he hissed and displayed the limp chicken high over the albino’s head. The albino yelped and kicked, thrusting his hand up between the bars and jerking it back to lick away the blood rolling down his forearm.
Master eyed Hero coldly before pointedly dropping the chicken into the albino’s searching hands.
Master hissed again. He slowly made his way out.
Soon there was a commotion outside. The carriage rocked a bit before settling. Hero, turning in his cage to peek through a rift in the wood, saw horses being urged forward. He could hear men shouting. The carriage rocked again. He looked up and saw the gibbous moon suspended in mist. For just a second something wedge-shaped cut across its soft white face.
But then the oxen were grunting, the wheels had been freed, and the horses drawn abreast. Master’s lash spat left and right, and the show proceeded…west.

                                              MA­STER

She was very round and very small, with very short, very shaggy black hair. Her arms bore the scars of numerous bites from beast and man, and around her neck ran long wheals from a particularly savage owner. Hero, having spent the better part of the morning watching master storm in and out of a strange screaming house, now watched him drag the little round woman through the dirt. For a while he listened to the song of his master’s lash, waiting for the woman to break. But there was never a whimper.
It had been a difficult transaction for master, and an altogether difficult morning. For hours he’d paced up and down the main carriage, alternately murmuring affectionately into, and lashing at, each cage he visited. The sun bear, long dead and stuffed, had been taken outside for barter. It had soon been returned.
Master had lingered over Hero’s cage for a good while, staring critically. He’d begun shouting, and three of his men had burst in through the flap, unlatched the demented man’s cage, and dragged him out by the feet for trade, master personally stomping on his torn and groping hands.
And now master was kicking and shoving the little woman down the aisle as his men restrained her by the hair and throat. Upon master’s command these men stripped her naked and commenced pinching and slapping while making threatening faces and mocking noises. The freaks sat right up in their cages.
The woman looked as though she’d fainted:  her arms were lax, her eyes rolled up. Her whole face seemed to purse, and her body, head to toe, began to run blue. Her fingers quivered, arched, and clawed—the woman was self-asphyxiating. Master fairly leaped with delight while the cages rocked around him. He had the men slap her awake. Once she was fully conscious they stuffed her into the demented man’s old cage next to Hero’s.
Master then looked in eagerly, one to the other, his hands balled into fists. The woman buried her odd round face in her forearms as she squeezed herself into her cage’s deepest corner. Hero gazed indifferently and went back to his peephole.
Master exploded. He smacked and kicked the cages over and over, swore up and down, ran the shaft of his whip back and forth against the heavy bamboo bars. Eventually he calmed somewhat. He stared coldly at Hero, made a ***** smile, and spat right in his eyes. A tense minute passed. Master slowly made his way outside.
Hero automatically relaxed. Across the aisle the albino ****** his face between his cage’s bars to sniff the newcomer. The leopard, bobbing rhythmically, emitted a high-pitched squeal that gradually descended to a steadily throbbing growl.
Hero looked the stranger over. Once she’d lowered her hands he saw that her eyes were crossed, her jaw slack, her face as round as the full moon. He looked closer. There were scars all over her throat and arms:  plainly, the small round woman had been treated very badly. Hero instinctively slid a foot between the bars; the woman cried out and scrunched even deeper. Across the aisle the albino quickly extended an arm. Without knowing why, Hero turned on him. The albino flinched, his eyes tearing into Hero’s. A second later he was stamping his feet and grinning wildly. Hero went back to his peephole.
Next morning master and two of his men dismantled the bamboo walls separating Hero’s and the woman’s cages. They bound the frames with broad leather bands, making a single cage of the two.
A common door was fashioned and secured. Master used his broad blade to shear away Hero’s rags. The men hunched around the long cage expectantly.
The naked couple backed away. Master was instantly exasperated—he shouted, lashed furiously, stamped and screamed, jabbed a broken shaft between the bars with malevolent intent, whirled and hurled the shaft at nothing. The carriage’s inmates went out of their minds. At master’s bellowed command a man scurried outside, returning with a long rope of woven leather strands. Master opened the cage and, applying all his weight, pinned Hero and his new mate in an awkward embrace while his men tied them together.
Again master and his men bent over the long cage to watch.
When Hero realized his predicament he made a desperate attempt to reach his peephole.
The men, misreading his struggles, babbled and cheered, but master threw up his hands. He then, through gesture, ordered his men to drape a number of hides over the long cage. Once these hides were in place he very quietly bent to one knee and placed an ear against the cage. After a while he cursed and rose to his feet. He shook the cage and stormed out, whipping and kicking the howling inmates.
In the semi-darkness the man and woman quit fighting their bonds.
A muffled patter began on the hide-covered roof.
Rain, as always, had a calming effect on the carriage’s occupants, causing the freaks and beasts to slip, one by one, into lethargy or slumber. Under such a spell, the attainment of master’s goal was inevitable.
It was a coupling both innocent and vile, without passion or celebration. Occasionally the freaks would surface, register their excitement by shrieking, shaking their cages, or otherwise clamoring…but very quickly the air would stifle them, weighing their heads and confusing their impulses. The atmosphere grew heavier by the minute. And, when night rolled over the carriages, the rain came down in sheets.

Leaning ******* the woman’s cage, master slipped his gnarly hand between the bars and slowly rubbed her belly in a counter-clockwise motion, his sinister features soft in the candle’s light. And he told, in nonsensical cooing whispers, of a lovingly secure and impossibly prosperous future.
How large and promising that belly had become! And how wise was he, the cunning and aggressive master, in his far-reaching business decisions. He turned his affection to the motionless gaping brute; stroked the battlefield of its face, tossed in another lizard. Master rubbed his palms together. From now on it was extra lizards daily, for both the woman and her mate. He remarked, with only passing interest, his star player’s continuing indifference. They didn’t know each other, didn’t need each other.
There’d been months of shows on the road now, broken only recently by this sensible rejoining of the mates at conception.
Hero’s horrible disfigurement was unquestionably top draw; he was a guaranteed crowd pleaser at every stop. So now master looked him straight in the eyes and smiled. He held the reeking candle high. The carriage was absolutely silent. Master smiled again, rose to his feet, tiptoed away.
Hero watched him retreat until the flap had fallen. He returned to his peephole, saw master round the rear of the carriage and slowly crunch by. For a time he could see nothing but the half-shapes of junipers bathed in starlight. There was a tentative movement to his right and a large shape came to obstruct his view.
The horse stood for a minute in profile. It slowly brought its head to rest against the carriage, applying its eye to the peephole. Hero froze. The two remained fixed, eyeball to eyeball, while a breeze played odd tunes on the outer wall’s hanging paraphernalia. The horse’s big dark eye rolled nervously. A long moment passed. Slowly the horse backed off. It stood uncertainly for a while, staring at the peephole. Then it quietly moved away.

Master kicked the cages one by one, left hand and right, as he slowly made his way down the aisle. Into each cage he delivered a personalized warning in passing—a growl, a hiss, a bark—but he was quickly losing control. Animal electricity hopscotched the carriage, cage to cage, ceiling to floor, front to rear and back again. Master froze. Much more of this excitement, he feared, could seriously agitate the woman—with grave consequences for master.
She was splayed on her back, in labor’s throes, her ankles and wrists bound to the long cage. Hero had been removed to give her room, and now sat hunched atop the snake woman’s cage, two men holding him by the throat and legs.
Master gnashed and snarled, listening to the woman scream, watching her stupid round head bounce up and down and back and forth. He knew it! He’d been suckered, hoodwinked, scammed—ripped off like a common rube. The woman was too ******* to handle even something as natural as childbirth. Still…it was too late to second-guess himself—all these months he’d been patient—he’d been supportive and vigilant and now he would not be denied. He flogged one of the men to alleviate his tension.
The blue lady was very slowly, very dramatically arching her spine. Master wiped the sweat from his eyes. When the bars were pleating her big round belly, her shoulders began drumming on the straw-strewn floor.
Master screamed one very colorful expletive.
A razor silence came over the carriage. Not a body moved or breathed.
At last two men tiptoed around their purpling master and leaned into the cage. One obediently ****** a foot between the bars. He pushed ******* her right knee while using a hand to grip the left knee, spreading her legs wide. The other man drew a broad leather strap between her teeth. After lifting the woman’s head he pulled the strap behind her neck, knotted it to make a gag, and yanked a skin sack over her face. He looked up anxiously. Master licked his lips and nodded. The man made a fist and frantically punched the woman’s face until her muffled screams ceased. She moaned gently throughout her contractions.
Master genuflected, brought a spitting candle in tight, and took a deep breath. As he raised his hand the candle’s light bounced off his knife’s chipped and scored eleven-inch blade. Master swore and reached down carefully. He flicked his wrist twice and the menagerie went mad.

The child was a tremendous disappointment.
Master had eagerly anticipated an infant ******* and deformed; something embracing the best qualities of its parents. He had even designed a special cage that could be expanded by degrees as the spawn developed. There also remained the tantalizing option of a family display, though such an undertaking would require the eventual construction of a structure even larger than the cage its parents now shared. Master anguished over the logistics, knowing it would break his heart to have to cut one of his jewels’ throats just to make room for a growing child. Nights he would slowly pace the carriage with all the possessiveness of a jealous suitor, one hand maneuvering a sputtering candle, the other tenderly rapping his whip’s **** against each visited cage.
But the boy was a flawless specimen; a beautiful, undemanding baby. From the moment master angrily tossed the placenta he felt cheated, even betrayed. He grimaced as it peaceably took to its mother’s breast, despite the surrounding horrors. Master hated it, immediately and entirely. The ****** thing was so docile it was almost charming. He drew his knife and was just reaching down, when an overwhelming sense of dread shook him like a rat in the jaws of a mastiff. Sweat poured down his squat, pig-tailed nape. He knew he would live to regret it, but decided to not cut the child’s throat right away. It was the oddest feeling. His knife hand had trembled for the first time in his life, and he had found himself momentarily contemplating right and wrong at the outset of a perfectly simple and commonplace procedure. That was it, then. His business instincts were letting him know there was a good, albeit unknowable, reason to let the sweet baby live. Master left the carriage anxiously, muttering in his ambivalence.
The boy grew to embody his worst expectations. Not only was it a poorly oriented child, clinging to its father rather than its master almost from the moment of weaning, but it soon proved a lousy draw with the patrons. Those who paid to view the child dangling in its special cage inevitably departed unsatisfied, some vocalizing, strangely, an acute sense of shame. So once again master entered the carriage with his knife hand steady, and once again he exited trembling, his heart in his throat and his soul in a whirl. He whipped the dwarf savagely before leaving. What place conscience in the mind of a businessman?
Soon as the boy could walk, master put him to work fetching and feeding. But the brat was slothful in his chores, preferring to hang around his family’s cage while staring wistfully at his father. For their part, the parents were wholly disinterested. Master would fume while Hero gazed for hours out his peephole—even as the mother lolled, perpetually ill. Sometimes that accursed woman’s condition riled poor master to no end. She could teeter at death’s door for months at a time, her body changing hues to the fascination of customers, only to bounce back with a hardiness that was of interest to no one. But at the peak of her performances the blue lady could really hold a crowd. Master produced an entire outdoors extravaganza around her:  within concentric rings of raging torches his men would slowly strip her naked before wild audiences, then allow the dwarf and albino to take her while the leopard strained against a gaily festooned chain. Master circulated his crew through the crowds to encourage his patrons’ cult-like behavior of breath-holding and fainting. No getting around it:  the customers were crazy about her—village to village, master’s Bactrian vanguard’s colorful robes shouted her approaching fame. And Hero’s popularity continued to soar. Many were the nights when master, pacing the perimeter, wondered just what devilry could have produced the lovely boy.
Overall, Hero remained his master’s favorite conceit and hottest property. Part of the little brute’s appeal was, of course, his exoticness. And certainly the ugliness arising from his deformity was compelling…but there was a detachedness about him that fascinated every soul with a fistful of copper cash coins. Whether they ****** him, cudgeled him, or spat in his face, he remained unflappable, staring only at the aching sky. Though many would leave uneasy, master noted with deep satisfaction that they almost invariably returned.
The boy soon evinced an amazing affinity for animals. No matter how agitated an ox or horse became, the child could pacify it with one hand on a lowered brow. This was a source of endless fascination for the crew. Wagers were made. The boy was pitted against oxen whipped to a frenzy. But they would not harm him; they would rather go prostrate and take the lash. Master tried to work this knack into a viable act, but his patrons just weren’t buying. They wanted freaks.
When the lad was a mere five years old, master had him trained in the peripheral art of the pickpocket. The boy worked well alone, and had all the makings of a fine little flimflam artist. Master sighed, his chronic nightmares a thing of the past. As ever, his business instincts were guiding him well.
Then late one afternoon he found the boy squatting outside his parents’ cage. The boy had done the unthinkable:  he had deposited his day’s pickings at the feet of his father instead of bringing the ***** to master. Master flew into a rage and raised his whip to give the little traitor the lashing he deserved. But before he could deliver a single stroke his other hand shot to his chest and he staggered back against the albino’s cage. He blinked down at the boy, who regarded him steadily while scooping the plunder into a little pile.
From that day on the boy placed whatever he could get his hands on at his father’s feet. As time passed he became ever more adroit at thievery, growing into a youngster both admired and despised by master and his crew; admired because theft was a cinch for him, despised because they were all that much lighter in their possessions.
Now, for eleven long years the strange little train had bounced along, sometimes camping outside villages for months, occasionally pausing on connecting roads. The show traversed the heart of Manchuria, skirted the Gobi in the north, and so eventually crossed almost the entire width of Mongolia before proceeding north to the confluence of the rivers Yenisey and Ob’. Much silver and copper had come to master’s coffer, much fame to his name, but he now sat looking over a vast, unmapped Siberian wilderness. The mostly nomadic characters they’d been encountering spoke in tongues unfamiliar even to his personal valet-translator-accountant, and the tone of these nomads had been unmistakably hostile.
Master huddled surlily under a canopy of sopping hides. Night was falling hard during a merciless rain, the wind was picking up, and his supplies coach was bogged in a growing sea of mud. At that moment he accepted the whole end-of-the-line concept, and knew he wasn’t going anywhere but back. And when he got back he was going to shine! He jumped from the coach.
The earth took his weight for a heartbeat—and he was up to his chin in muck, splashing about on his hands and knees, sliding forward on his palms and toes. He did a belly flop into a rain-filled depression and churned to his feet with the devil in his eyes. Wallowing in mud and bile, master stomped to the supplies coach and kicked wildly at the stuck rear wheels.
Somewhere between kicks he lost it completely.
Master broke for his whip. One minute he was blindly lashing his men, the next he’d succumbed to a mindless ferocity. He thrashed about like a berserker; whipping the beasts, the coach, the very night. His men were scarcely able to move in all that mud, but their dread of his savagery kept them hopping. They gathered as one and shoved the coach recklessly; slipping, splashing, shouting. A minute later, three lay splayed underfoot, but the mired wheel had been freed.
Throughout all this the oxen had swayed nervously, while the horses softly tramped their hooves in place. Master had his men turn the oxen about until the rickety train was pointing dead east. He checked the hitches and personally applied the lash. The oxen didn’t budge. Master swore and wiped the rain from his eyes. He had the horses hitched ahead of the oxen, but they were even less obliging. Master flew into a spectacular rage. His men, fearing for their lives, ran liberally with the lash.
The swaying of oxen picked up until the entire train of carriages was rocking. Yet the oxen could not, would not be compelled, under any amount of prodding, to take an eastward step. Master looked around in exasperation.
The night had gone insane.
Horses were fighting hitches, oxen walking on fire.
Master cursed the rain and mud and lashed all the harder. His men, seeking to please, whipped maniacally until the horses and both lead oxen broke their hitches and bolted west. The men immediately embraced the rear oxen, but the hitches shattered and the beasts stormed off. The remaining horses blew it, kicking at everything and nothing.
Inside the long carriage all was chaos. The albino was neighing and screaming, the aged leopard spinning in its cage. Hero stared out his peephole, amazed at the blur of figures stumbling by in the rain.
A pair of clopping blows rattled the opposite wall. Three slats cracked. A tremendous impact, and a huge section collapsed. A thrashing, hysterical mare burst through the breach in a veil of rain.
The horse went mad, killing the albino and snake woman in a flurry of hooves. She fell ******* the near wall, crushing the cages. The leopard shot into the air like a rocket, slashed at the mare’s throat and vanished in the rain. The horse reared above the family cage. She was just coming down in a wheeling storm of hooves when something made her freeze. Her stare locked with Hero’s, and a second later her eyes were rolling in their sockets. The mare kicked crazily and came down ******* her left flank, smashing the long cage’s side. She whirled upright and leaped outside.
For a tense minute the family sat in the rubble, rain bombarding their eyes. Nothing in their years of captivity had prepared them for such a situation. But by the end of that minute the son had taken full command. He rolled onto his back, braced himself, and kicked his parents across the aisle, through the remnants of the opposing cage, and out of the carriage. They all fell about in the mud and rain. To the west, the mare stared back strangely as she splashed into the night. The boy wedged himself between his parents, threw his arms around them, and pushed with all his might. Their bodies found a common center of gravity. Fumbling drunkenly, the family staggered through the rain in the wake of the mare.

The boy was the natural leader.
Master’s innocent-looking little ex-student could quickly assess and exploit almost any situation. He did the foraging and the figuring, slept with one eye open and one fist ready. He got what he wanted by charm or by stealth, slipping off at nightfall, returning at daybreak with small slaughtered animals and chunks of dark peasant bread. He also pilfered any bauble or oddity he could get his paws on, to be placed reverently at his father’s mangled feet. Breadwinner and watchdog, he faithfully held the family together; a nuclear son. He sewed hardy feather-lined cloaks of reindeer hide, and turned a cache of marmot pelts into a kind of side-slung backpack. He was doting nurse during his mother’s episodes, and unbending apportioner of calories in lean times. Dauntless when it meant crossing mighty rivers, relentless when it came to finding mountain passes. But the endless marching, the unreliable diet, and the countless predators made the three wanderers lean, haggard moving targets. There were times when the little lamp of family was all but extinguished, and long stands in places that seemed absolutely impassable. Still, the boy would work things out. He would stoop to any level to feed Hero, and for a stranger to threaten his father was to summon a psychotic, unyielding monster. He was both spear and shield.
The toughest job of all was maintaining a tight unit, meaning he was forced to become a hard-nosed ******* whenever his father was ready to wander off, which always seemed to be whenever the mother was hurting most. She’d become a tremendous impediment to Hero’s compulsion, and therefore her son’s chief nemesis. It wasn’t a big-picture concern anyway; the writing was on the wall. The blue lady’s attacks were increasing spectacularly on the steppe; her world had always been an enclosure of some kind, and the great horizon was proving just too much. Perhaps these intense affairs served as links to Hero’s suppressed memories, for at the onset of each attack he’d turn and hike, and then only exhaustion could curb him. The boy would press his mother on, dragging, shoving, and smacking—he could be mean when necessary, and though circumstances had made him the nucleus, their worlds unquestionably revolved around Hero. Where he sat, they sat. When he rose, they did the same. In this manner they marched for years across the vast steppes, single-file—father, mother, and son, respectively—unmolested, lacking possessions, always following the sun. Long before they could be measured they had drifted into obscurity.
The woman’s end came quickly and dramatically, in a rocky little depression on a half-frozen field. One moment she was responsive to her son’s prompts, the next she was flat on her back, her eyelids fluttering. That night she leapt from fever to chill, from alertness to stupor. The boy, squatting beside their campfire, watched her face and hands run cadaver-blue to fish belly-pale and back again. While he was staring her eyes popped open and her hands came scrabbling. He sweated through the clawing embrace until he could bear it no longer. He oozed out and ran down to fetch his father.
When they got back Hero watched incuriously for a while. His mate’s face was scrunched up and her skin the color of sapphires. She wasn’t breathing.
His gaze became glassy, his eyes returned to the night. As he rose the boy immediately grabbed an arm. Neither moved for minutes. When the boy at last relinquished, his father casually stumbled off.
Strange things were going on in Hero’s world. Some days he would notice how animals regarded him oddly, in a manner that seemed almost personal. He found, for instance, that particular creatures were recognizable even over great distances. A number of times he would sit with one in a stare-down, waiting patiently, until the animal’s natural disposition caused it to bolt. Though the meaning of these encounters was way over his head, he would watch, and he would listen.
In time he noticed an increasing skittishness in some of these familiar creatures. Something had them spooked. He then observed a number of lean gray wolves moving in and out of the picture with an air of complete indifference:  these wolves weren’t hunting; they were loitering—lounging in the grass, lackadaisically padding to the rear, filing by slowly in the distance. Once in a while a lounger would raise its head, yawn cavernously, and drop back out of sight. So unobtrusive was their behavior that even Hero’s ever-vigilant son began to take them for granted. They paused where the family paused, and halted whenever the woman broke down. Perfectly camouflaged by the gray boulders and dire sky, they were completely forgotten in the drama of her passing.
There were other, far subtler events existing for Hero’s senses alone. He could perceive patterns in everything around him; in the manner vegetation gave way wherever his heart was leading, in the way so many animals appeared to be not merely mirroring, but making his course. And wind, rain, running water:  these phenomena had voices. Yet not for everybody. No one—not his mate, not his son, not another soul on the planet could hear this call, for they were all of a sort. They were static, they were temporal. Hero couldn’t have cared less about the lives of his family, or about the mundane goings-on in the encampments and small tribes they skirted. Such beings lived in a world that was defined by the moment. They shouted, they banged, they clamored.
But west—west was music.
For his boy, once again watching Hero shamble off, the moment of truth had arrived. He looked back down, at his mother’s death mask being remade by the dying light of their campfire. As the flames dwindled he could have sworn he saw shadows creep into the wells of her eyes, while others, crawling up around her jawline, drew her bluing lips like purse strings. He hopped to his feet and ran for another handful of tinder. When their little fire provided enough light he dropped to his knees and looked again.
She was sinking right before his eyes, every aspect of her expression in collapse. The boy watched clinically, fascinated. As the flames began to sputter he thought he could see large purple bruises spreading across her cheeks like the seeping limbs of overflowing pools. He bent closer.
From deep in the night came the longest, the leanest, the saddest wail he’d ever heard. He turned to see the starlit ghost of his father, facing away, staring at a low barren hill. Uncountable stars embroidered the spot. The boy made out a low shape moving along the hilltop, cutting off patches of stars as it passed.
The wolf howled again; a mournful, spiraling cry to nowhere and nothing. Hero’s head notched upward. He began to hike.
Halfway to his feet the boy stopped dead.
It took a minute to sense why he’d frozen in place, and a good while longer for his heart to quit pounding. He was aware of a nervous padding, and, once his vision had adjusted, of a lazy stream of eyes gleaming in the dying campfire’s light. The eyes bobbed around him, glared momentarily, returned to the ground.
A massive gasp, and his mother was tearing at his wrist. He watched her hyperventilating, saw her bulbous yellow eyes sinking in a wide violet pool. With a sizzle and pop the last tongue of flame was taken by the night.
Then her clammy hands were all over him, pulling and demanding, caressing and beseeching. He had to pry them off like leeches, had to place them clasped on her shuddering arched belly.
A silky snarl rose almost in his ear.
With a little squeal he sprang to his feet, even as something nearby jumped back in response.
The boy stood absolutely still while the panting thing padded nearer. They stood very close, smelling each other. He instinctively extended a hand, palm forward. But it was no good; his arm was shaking out of control. The snarl rose again, not so tentatively this time. His mother’s nails tore at his ankle.
The boy gently stepped away, only to find himself surrounded by the shifting silhouettes of half a dozen gray wolves. They approached in a calculated manner:  two from the left, one from the right, another from behind. He was being goaded away from his mother; he could hear her fists beating the ground, and a few seconds later the sounds of a nauseating assault and ravaging.
He shakily raised his other hand. Now both arms were extended, and their message was clearly one of defense rather than control. Two snapping wolves stepped aside, leaving him a gateway into the night. A cold wet nose bumped his wrist.
Screaming like a woman, he took off after his father just as fast as his feet would carry him.

                                                  BOY

Alon­g the great Kazakh Steppe a man could wander a lifetime and never meet another of his kind—especially if his kind happened to be Alaskan Inuk, and if he happened to be the teenaged patriarch of a two-man family going nowhere.
Here history is mostly mute.
Upon this continent-spanning steppe, unnamed communities were scattered and rebuilt, lives blown about by the wind. The only centers of humanity a traveler might encounter, far removed from the Silk Road at the very crack of the new millennium, were temporary encampments of civilization at its rudest—shifting holes of cutthroat commerce existing solely for the barter of silk and spices and hapless souls. Life here was revered far less than merchandise, and the longest-lived men were those who kept their distance.
Hero and his boy hiked over permafrost and tundra for years; their meandering course a drunken mapmaker’s scrawl. Chronological entries along this imaginary line would reveal that they’d stopped, sometimes for months at a time, when the father had grown too weak and disoriented to continue. Hero’s internal compass was long-sprung, and his weight had fallen considerably. He’d sit on his lonesome, scarecrow-scrawny, wistfully scrolling a 360-horizon while his boy scouted and scavenged. Then, for no apparent reason, he’d just up-and hike—sometimes northwest, sometimes along a tangential plane that always threatened to spiral. It was brutal:  winters were frigid, summers, by odd contrast, running steamy to baking. Season by season these marches lost their tenaciousness, and eventually their heart. Hero’s obsession was becoming his demise.
Now, to a hypothetical observer, the ratty pair of woolly camels materializing out of the rising August heat might have been mirages.
These beasts were novelties here, and pioneers, for they were way beyond their normal stomping grounds. They’d tramped for months with a mind-numbing monotonousness, a thousand miles and more; round the Urals to the south, and through the hard territory braced by the Volga and Voronezh, avoiding anything that even smelled of men. They’d been wild camels; ugly, ill-tempered, and unpredictable, until the boy tamed them by touch…but this new pattern was a literal change of pace…for weeks the frail little man and his dark teenaged son rose and fell with the animals’ rhythm, lulled by it, sick of it, dreaming of lands far removed from hoarfrost and peat moss. In this manner they were borne clear to present-day Belarus, whereupon the camels’ stupefying march began to quicken. Mile by mile they put on steam, until one day they reached a broad area distinguishable from its bracing terrain only by its many deep surface cracks. Here the camels’ behavior became erratic; they crouched at an angle while tramping, their long necks oscillating, their noses bobbing along the ground. Eventually they came upon a dingy pool nestled in a pebbly depression. The local brush surrounding this pool was situated like iron filings about a lodestone. The boy hauled back his camel’s neck and laid a hand on its brow. The brute slowed to a halt. The other camel imitated its partner, move for move. Simultaneously the animals dropped to their knees.
The boy jumped off, catching Hero as he fell. The camels stood watching stupidly as son maneuvered father, but after a while grew nervous and began tramping their hooves in time. They slowly stepped to the pool’s rim and knelt woozily, their noses poised just above the surface. Their whiskers danced on the pool’s face, their lids became heavy, their hindquarters quivered as they drank. Their nostrils, having fluttered in unison, remained agape. They appeared to be asleep.
The boy began filling skins.
The water was quite warm; he slurped a palmful and almost immediately felt intoxicated.
He flicked it off his fingers; the water was bad.
Three heads were now mirrored in the pool; the camels’ at ten o’clock and two o’clock, the boy’s at six. He watched their reflections continue to ripple, long after the pool had become still. His face, melting and firming, rapidly fluctuated between extremes of age, and between his own recognizable features and those of some…monstrosity. The effect was hypnotic. He felt his joints stiffen; his eyes became weak, his thoughts muddled…his face was irresistibly drawn to the pool’s surface, and for a moment he was in real peril of drowning. He ****** his head aside and creaked to his feet.
Where the camels had knelt were only the prints of their bellies and knees. In the distance they could be seen galloping all-out for the horizon, right back the way they’d come. The boy watched until they were swallowed by their dust, and when he turned around his father was long gone.
Now he knew it was all just a matter of time.
And sure enough, after eleven more days of feebly staggering along, Hero completely ran out of gas. The boy bundled him up in a shawl, like an old woman.
Sitting there, cradling an unresponsive man weighing less than eighty pounds, he couldn’t help but let his morbid fantasies run wild. He was now old enough to realize his father had at some time suffered severe head trauma, and honest enough to accept that the man was rapidly approaching a vegetative state. This understanding accompanied him like a shadow, and that night he questioned, for the very first time, his own convoluted rationale.
He was just beginning to sense that his will was not his own.
He built a semi-permanent camp west of the Desna and foraged in a tight spiral, always returning in a straight line. Some days he came back feeling uneasy, sensing another presence. Then it was every other day. It bugged him to no end. At last, when it became every day, he hauled his father to his feet and began a resolute march to the west.
Again he became anxious, and after only a dozen yards.
He turned slowly while hunching, certain something bulky had just dropped out of sight. Nothing looked suspicious, everything looked suspicious. He walked Hero some more, occasionally peering back over his shoulder. There was…something.
He whirled:  only masses of rock and high brush. Yet, when he really strained his eyes, he was sure, pretty sure, that he could make out a large crouching body continuous with the rocks. Heart in his throat, he began a slow steady creep, only to pause, positive the bulge, whatever it was, had shifted in response. The boy very gradually raised his arm until it was level with his eyes, faced the palm outward, and extended the arm parallel with the ground. He could almost feel some kind of current passing between his itching palm and…nothing. He walked over to Hero, stopped again. There’d been the subtlest sense of traction. The boy propped up his father in a cloud of flies and waited.
In a minute the bulge drew *****.
Out of the brush strolled a furry gray wild ***, her back inclined from countless weary miles; stretching her neck, pausing to nibble, taking her sweet time. Grungy as she was, she fit right in.
At the boy’s first casual step she immediately hit the dirt and remained flat on her belly, one big dark eye staring between her hooves. Another step, and her **** bunched up. The closer he got, the higher her rear end rose. When he was almost at arm’s length she sprang back and danced away, seeming to bound with delight. But not to the east, as she’d come.
To the northwest.
She backpedaled while the boy came on whistling and cooing, matching him step for step. But the moment he threw up his arms in resignation she spun round as though cued, dropped on her belly, and peered over her shoulder.
The boy was first to blink. This time he approached fractionally, keeping movements to a minimum. She rose just as carefully, sauntering northwest in reverse, and at the first sign of hesitation turned, dropped, and cautiously gazed back. The boy glared at that huge mocking **** and broke into a sprint. She easily danced out of reach, plopped down, and continued to stare.
He began hurling stones, with venom and with accuracy, until she’d scurried into the brush.
But on the way back to his father he could feel her tagging along.
Twenty feet behind she halted, looking bemused.
The boy nodded ironically. He walked Hero over, murmuring baby talk all the way, and firmly placed a palm on the animal’s muzzle once her breath grazed his fingers. She stroked his hand up and down with her whiskers, gave a kind of curtsy, and waited on her knees while he helped his father mount.
At Hero’s touch a shudder ran down her body. She stood up straight. Her eyes became set, her back absolutely stiff. She put down her head and began the long trek northwest, never once breaking stride.
It was an amazing march, an impossible feat. For a little over three days and almost four hundred miles she progressed like an automaton, driving herself without rest, without food or water.
After trotting alongside for an hour the boy climbed on and force-fed his father berries and smoked meat, his dark eyes constantly searching the countryside. Occasionally he’d see a run of red foxes to their left, watching intently, padding cautiously. Sooner or later they’d vanish, only to be replaced by a train of feline or equine pursuers. Packs approached and receded while, high overhead, flocks formed triangular patterns that continually broke up and reformed. There was a peculiar rhythmic quality to this ebb and flow that lulled his senses further. The boy shook his head to clear it, but his exhaustion was deeper than he’d supposed—even the brush appeared to be leaning northwest.
That first day he grew numb with the pace, and that night the relentless pounding of her hooves drew him into a miserable slumber. He wrapped his arms around his sleeping father and lay half atop. When he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer he tore strips from his skins, then looped his tied wrists round her neck, his ankles round her belly.
On the second day she was breathing hard, but her back was still high and she showed no signs of faltering. Her eyes remained focused on the ground dead ahead. She always sensed the best routes; finding mountain passes, fording wetlands.
But by the third day they could feel her ribs quaking against their legs. Her breath exploded as she marched, blood frothed and caked about her nostrils. Still she pushed herself on, her pace so steady it was almost metronomic.
On the fourth day her legs were gone. She veered and stumbled, shuddering every few paces. The boy hopped off for the umpteenth time and tried to bring her to graze, but she wouldn’t be turned. He ran behind her as she staggered along, unwilling, or unable, to rest.
At last a foreleg gave and she went down hard. Sobbing and snorting, she plowed her muzzle back and forth in the soil, the useless leg repeatedly pounding the ground. After a minute she raised her head and brayed at the sky, her neck muscles taut, her head slowly swinging side to side. Her cry went on and on.
With a tremendous effort she pushed herself upright and butted the boy aside. Every part of her body was shaking. From her depths a low moan grew to a steady bray, and finally to a wild, pulsing howl. She came to a rise, but was too weak to climb without sliding. Stamping in frustration, she managed a few feet, reared feebly, slid some more. The boy got behind her and applied his back; it took all he had to assist her almost to the top. With a desperate lunge she crashed on her belly.
Amazingly, she dragged herself on, her howl now a scream, her head whipping left and right. When she could pull herself no farther she ****** forth her neck to its very limit and, with a shudder that ran from the tip of her nose to the tuft on her tail, shoved her muzzle straight into the dirt and died.
The boy hauled off his father and fell back. The animal’s eyes were fixed upwards, seeming, even in death, to be straining for a glimpse of what lay just beyond the rise. The boy half-dragged Hero the last few yards. They collapsed at the top, and together looked over the cold Baltic Sea.

At water’s edge a haggard fisherman sat on his boat’s ravaged deck, blindly staring out to sea. His was a queer vessel; a family structure built more like an aft-cabined barge than like seacraft typical of that period. The fisherman’s boat, like his mind, had been abused beyond repair.
He’d lost much in his life. Time had taken his dreams, pox his face, hardship his back and shoulders. And, more recently, a brawling band of drunken Baltic pirates had ***** his wife and daughter before butchering them along with his two fine sons, while he sat helplessly bound to the mast. Finally, to further their delight, they’d set the boat aflame and sent it crackling against the sun; knowing he could hear their hoots and howls, knowing he would drift undead, accompanied only by this last unspeakable memory.
But a squall, without prelude, had doused the flames and blown his home ashore.
There he’d remained for a full long day, staring at nothing, his shattered life caught on the rocks. On the second day he’d worked himself free and commenced staggering about in his memories, gathering shards. It was a pathetic claim. He made a pile of all the old bedding and linen and usable cords, and set about sewing a sort of mementos sail. All that third day he had sewn, and on the fourth he had hoisted this sail and been moved to see it billowing in a northwest-blowing breeze. Again he just sat and gaped. And later that day he’d become aware of a commotion taking place on the long grade leading down to the water, where a writhing mass of seagulls was proceeding like a tremendous slow-motion snowball. He’d never seen anything like it. It wasn’t uncommon to find gulls in a group of many dozens or more, but there must have been two, maybe three thousand of the birds now swarming toward his boat. They were making an incredible racket. In the midst of this cloud could be seen a couple of slowly walking figures; as they neared he made out a small man accompanying a boy in his late teens, both dressed in odd skins. When they reached the rocks his eyes were drawn to the small man’s face. It was a foreign face, brutish and dark, with a deep cleft running from above the right temple to the jaw’s left side. Whatever instrument had felled this man had been devastating—everything in its path was smashed, and with permanence. The forehead was caved in. There was no bridge to the nose, the left cheek was completely collapsed, one side of the mouth was a mangled mess. The jaw itself had set improperly, so that it jutted to the side. The general impression, especially from a distance, was of some unforgettable circus freak’s countenance puckering at an angle. It was a face right out of a nightmare. But there was nothing frightening about the eyes. They were the eyes of a child.
Maybe half the gulls hopped screaming on the rocks. The rest circled overhead.
The boy considered the fisherman curiously before placing a foot on the charred deck. His gaze went around the boat, lingered on the makeshift sail, returned to the slumped figure. He passed a hand before the eyes. No response. He then leaned in close and placed his fingers on the man’s forehead. Immediately that bleak expression became fluid, brimming over with horror and heartbreak. Tears rolled down the fisherman’s cheeks as he gasped, shuddered, and backed up the scorched mast to his feet. Thus propped, he squinted at his visitors and was overcome by a wave of homesickness so strong he had to turn away. The feeling bewildered him, for this vessel, and this sea, were all the home he’d ever known. He clung to the mast while the boy helped his father board. Once he’d collected himself, the fisherman tore a heavy crossbeam from the toasted cabin. He and the boy used this as a lever, and together they shoved the boat off the rocks. The wind picked up nicely, and the little craft was swept across the water.
Exploding off the rocks, the gulls shot after the boat as if it were brimming with fish, the loudest and orneriest vying for favored positions directly overhead. The melee attracted additional gulls—they came shrieking in their hundreds from all sides, banking and calling in the oddest manner, until the mass grew so thick as to cast a permanent shadow on the boat. All day long the clamor continued, and all that night. The fisherman rolled with the rudder, listlessly, allowing the sea to control him. Eventually he let go, that the wind might bear them where it would. His sail ballooned but held firm, and the boat fairly zipped across a sea somehow smooth as glass, broken only by the vacillating ripples of bottleneck dolphins and migrating humpback whales. The three tiny sailors sat hunched together, motionless, all throughout the next day, until the black coast of Sweden loomed in the twilight.
As the boat neared land the cloud of gulls broke up, shot to shore, and landed in groups of a thousand and more; a dizzying, wildly uproarious reception committee.
The dung-covered boat slammed into the rocks, shattering the fisherman’s trance. He intuitively walked his **** up the mast and, swaying there, watched the boy draw his father over the side and lead him to a clearing at wood’s edge. There in the dusk he made out what appeared to be a hefty spotted runaway heifer hitched to a rickety wood wagon. He saw the cow gallop up to meet them, saw the boy look around warily, saw him help the little man into the wagon and climb in beside him. The animal immediately began picking through the woods, the large brass bell round her neck clanging forlornly.
The clarity of that bell made him realize just how quiet it had become. He craned his neck:  there wasn’t a gull in sight. He fell back against the shot mast and slid onto his tailbone with a clacking of teeth. His eyes were misting up. In the gathering dark a few sail fragments flew past and were ****** into the woods. The boat rocked and relaxed. After that there was only the sound of the receding bell’s sad, monotonous song being batted about by the wind.

The little cow strode through moonlit woods until she came to a path formed by the rutting of wheels over many years. She followed this broken, serpentine track throughout the night, and by morning was passing farms and, occasionally, crossing broader paths that might realistically be defined as roads. All day long she bore down that ragged track, until she came in late afternoon to a clearing near a village. Here many such tracks converged. And here the boy slipped away while she grazed.
Sometime after dark he returned with a load of straw, a couple of pilfered blankets, and a fat iron kettle. Crammed in this kettle were salt, tubers, cheese, a few loaves of rye, legumes, and a plump foot of lamb sausage. Most of this ***** he’d brought in tied to the bowed back of a huge, puffing, highly amenable black pig which, thus laden, now followed the boy’s every step like a fresh convert tracing the heels of the messiah. The boy built a fire under the stars, filled the kettle with creek water, and commenced simmering their dinner. While waiting, he couldn’t help but note an odd feature of the local flora:  plants, especially trees, all seemed inclined to a northwesterly disposition, though no amount of wind could account for it. He shooed the pig. But rather than run along, it backpedaled in a nervous circle, round and round in reverse, until it lost its balance and fell on its ****. There it remained, a yard behind the wagon. The boy fed his father and lined the wagon with straw. They settled in for the night. The boy must have nodded, might have dreamt, but while he was drifting he became aware of a stirring in the woods. He sat up, saw the pig’s eyes gleaming inches from his nose. And there were a number of animals, some wild, some strayed from farmsteads, arranged in a broad circle around the wagon, their eyes glinting with moonlight. Not a rustle, not a peep, was lifted from the woods.
In the morning he woke to find the pig still staring. The fidgeting heifer, impatient to roll, began her long day’s march while Hero and his boy were yet stretching and scratching, and the ******* pig, galloping heavily, fell in close behind. Each new day this routine was repeated. They banged past farms and small communities until the ruts intersected a broad rocky road wending halfway across the kingdom. The cow addressed this road with vigor. They picked up followers—a goat here, a couple of sheep there—which hurried after the wagon as best they could. The cow stomped on with resolve, mile after mile, day after day, her bell keeping steady time. That bell’s peal attracted foals, lambs, and kids into the wagon’s narrowing wake. Hares hopped between hooves and wheels, boars and blue foxes fell in and withdrew. White falcons, normally solo fliers, whirled into wedge shapes high overhead.
At night the entire train would camp on the road while the boy raided proximate farmsteads, always returning fully laden. And as soon as the fire died the colony grew, creature by creature, and the moment the sun broke the horizon the heifer came to life and moved on, but each day a bit more resolutely, as though straining to meet a deadline. The march took on a sense of real urgency. The cow pressed on with attitude, the clang of her bell more strident with each passing mile. Soon her followers numbered in the hundreds, as animals deserted their farms or crept out of the woods to tag along. Tillers and traders stood dumbfounded, amazed by the bizarre flow.
Once they’d crossed into Norway the frothing cow veered hard to the west. The pace really picked up; no longer were Hero and his boy afforded the luxury of a night’s sleep in one spot. Days blurred into a single variegated flow as the bashed and lopsided wagon continued building its entourage; the riders were surrounded dawn to dusk by a confused and confusing scurry. Word of the flow’s weirdness preceded it clear to the Norwegian coast, so that now plowmen and merchants, wearily gathering their goggling families, found themselves lined in anticipation along the king’s highway. Horsemen went pounding to and fro with news of the procession’s progress and particulars, children ran through the streets banging pots in imitation of the cow’s approaching bell. Livestock wheeled and stamped, fowl leaped and crashed.
The slobbering cow broke into a run.
Bystanders trotted behind, calling back and forth excitedly, while the wagon’s permanent following squealed and squawked between their heels. The cow made a hard turn onto a widening swath in the brush. This swath, seeming to strain against the soil, ran straight down to the crest of a low hill overlooking the Atlantic. On either side a crowd had been studying the phenomenon for some time, but now all eyes swung to the dark and disfigured man and his son, clinging to the disintegrating wagon behind the careening spotted cow.
The trailing people traded views as they ran. Most—at the very outset of the new millennium, with Christianity burgeoning throughout Europe—leaned to the miraculous. Others, just as superstitious but prone to a darker point of view, threw looks of horror at the deformed little man. Yet they ran no less eagerly.
The galloping crowd made for the seaside, where only one local event of any moment was brewing:  on the coast a Greenlander Viking was preparing his longship for the rough voyage home. Impetuous son of the great island’s first permanent European settler, he’d just been baptized in Olaf’s court, and was now eager to sail—but not as a warrior—as a missionary. While his spirit remained in a tug-o’-war between his father Erik’s will and that of gods old and new, his duty was clearly to his king. And Olaf had charged him with the Christianization of pagan Greenland.
Something on the wind now made this destined man turn his head. From behind the gentle hill to his rear came a kind of thunder. Heads popped up, followed by a confused explosion of voices, and seconds later a frantic bug-eyed heifer burst into view, dragging the wheel-less skeleton of a shattered wooden wagon. On the wagon’s splayed frame a man and teenaged boy clung for their lives as the spewing animal made a beeline for his ship.
The new missionary, still egocentric enough to assume his Maker might actually toss him a personal, surreptitiously rolled up his eyes. The sky yawned at his arrogance. At his side a smallish cowled man rose irritably, but the missionary sat him right back down. He then snorted, squared his shoulders, and signaled his men to halt their preparations.
Knowing it was expected, he gathered his hard Nordic pride and coolly made his way into the crowd.

The priest clung to port, gagging above the waves.
After a completely uneventful minute he leaned back and stared through tearing eyes at the distant backdrop of gathering mists. Weeks now…a man of his constitution had no business at sea.
Along, too, were a quirky little man and his fiercely devoted son.
Through his pantomime, the boy had been so persistent in begging their passage that refusal, under the circumstances, would have been unbecoming not only a man of God but a man of the world.
So there it was:  a priest who couldn’t hold his lunch, a witless eyesore who couldn’t sit still, and a surly teenaged protector who snarled at the first hard look. This crossing just had to be some kind of divine test—of mortal patience as well as moral values. Norsemen weren’t made for babysitting.
The mists condensed.
And the shifting shape became a hard familiar coast.
And the longship was mooring, and the crew were jostling and clambering, and the big missionary had booted off the haunted little freak and his hypersensitive son, and was condescendingly half-escorting, half-carrying, the green priest ashore.
And they were home.

Priest in tow, Leif quickly took up the Christianization of Greenland’s Western Settlement, as per Olaf’s command. The mangled little man and his son followed him around like dogs, slept outside his door and annoyed his visitors, ultimately proving far easier to adopt than to shake. Barely tolerable shadows…still, the lad was simply amazing with livestock…and though the youth’s useless father seemed time and again to be just begging for a whooping, his son’s presence bore some ineffable quality that always curbed the missionary’s hand. Several times he’d witnessed the father approached by settlers bent on abuse. Each time the boy had stepped in, and each time the troublemakers were mysteriously repelled. The missionary of course didn’t attribute any kind of celestial intervention to these episodes, and certainly the popular notion of devilry was a natural reaction to the pair’s outrageous exoticness, but…in the son’s company, and even under the sharp eyes of his fellow Norsemen, Leif more than once found himself oddly moved to protect the father. And so the deformed man and his boy day by day blent in—as village idiot and mystic guide. And when in time a ****** brought tales of an unvisited land to the west, it was only natural for the restless Greenlander to buy that ******’s boat and, before stalwart comrades, weary family, and whimsical God Almighty, reluctantly accept the eccentric father and son as sort of seagoing mascots.
Hero was from then on irrepressible. During preparations he would pipe and stammer in his half-mute way, brimming with a confounding anxiety that kept him underfoot and at odds with all. On frigid nights he perched on the westernmost rocks, moaning to the horizon in the strangest fashion while his son stood guard. He positively spooked the locals; they’d gossip, nervously and with bile, of an answering wind that came wailing off the sea like a banshee in labor. The whole island wanted rid of him. And when his champing beneficiary, still clinging to the notion of Christian charity, bundled him aboard with his son and a crew of thirty-five, not a single settler was sorry to see him go.
Almost from the moment they cast off everything went wrong, as all attempts to control the longship were met with some kind of unknowable countermanding force. Vikings were not renowned for passive resistance—they fought, squaresail and steering oar, leaning oarsman to oarsman, until the ship rocked on the waves like a bucking bronco. An erratic weather system pursued them, worsening dramatically at each minute variation in heading. The Norsemen doubled down, and when the clouds finally burst wide, the cowling sea went mad. Dervishes whirled about the hull, crisscrossing winds bedeviled the sail. Patches of kelp belonging to much warmer waters came heaving alongside, fouling the work of the oars, while far to the west a humongous fog bank formed, eradicating the navigable field. The lightning-streaked horizon was a throbbing gray slit.
The longship became locked in a slow westerly current.
Fatigued crewmen complained of headaches and hallucinations, and of a nasty, slightly metallic tang to the air. There were numerous walrus sightings; bobbing flippers and snouts amid drifting ice chunks that came prowling the North Sea like a circling pack of famished white wolves.
Worst of all was the boy’s father—instantly agitated by everything and nothing, prey to some primitive impulse that caused him to periodically incline his head, shudder to his feet, and loop his arms as though embracing the sky. Leif would watch him scrabbling at the prow like a cat at a tree, furs snapping in the wind. He’d watch the boy re-seat him for the hundredth time, and for the hundredth time be filled with an immense contempt. By now he’d acknowledged that it takes a special kind of strength to shoulder charity and tolerance. That brown little freak struck him as an enormous malformed barnacle, slowly working its way back up the prow. Trying so hard to go unnoticed, looking and listening so intently, though there was nothing to see other than the growing shelves of fog, and nothing to hear save the rising, almost hysterical voice of the wind.
Leif sniffed the air, his ******’s instincts nagging him. This was a foul current, and a fool's errand; he took a deep breath and tentatively ordered the longship brought about.
The ship kicked twice, as though an enormous submarine hand had seized and released the hull.
A whirl formed in the water, causing the keeling ship to sweep around like a clock’s second hand. All about them, those drift-ice ghosts cruised dangerously near.
But they’d been liberated from that accursed current. Leif fiercely urged on his rowers, and at last the ship broke free. They made a bead due north.
Night came and the temperature plummeted.
Small sheets of ice converged, drifting between the hunks. The Norsemen, instinctively huddling amidships, passed out one by one in a massive pile of fur and flesh. In the freezing silence the floes bumped and recoiled, bumped and gathered, bumped and bonded. The tiny ship, swallowed whole, was dragged along in a labyrinth of black sea and interlocking slabs of ice.

The Norsemen came to in a surly, foul-smelling heap, lost at sea. While they were still groggy a voice cried out that a darker patch was developing in the fog. The men all fell to port. Under the confusion of their voices could be heard a distant rumble.
At this Hero hauled himself up the high curved prow. A half-light began to penetrate the fog, barely illuminating the irregular faces of drifting ice. The missionary stormed forward and indicated by gestures that if the boy didn’t restrain his father he would have the man tied down.
The longship stopped dead in the water.
The men found themselves regarding a perpetually frozen coastline swathed in bluish veils of mist. Directly before them loomed an immense ice cliff hundreds of feet high. Rising beyond this cliff were endless snow fields, where lean violet shadows seemed to drag about of their own volition. And upon those bleak fields a thin howling wind prowled, kicking up brief white dervishes, leaving a strange zigzagging signature.
Even as they stared, a darker shadow high on the ice cliff’s glistening face began to widen, accompanied by a cracking sound that could be felt before it was heard. With the illusion of slow-motion, a stupendous chunk broke out of the cliff and came screaming toward the sea. It hit the water like a bomb. The thunder of its separation and the explosion of its impact took a moment to reach them. Then, out of a spewing crater of crests and spume, the new calf came lunging, tromping the sea so hard the longship, fully a mile to sea, was swept out and ****** back in like a cork. The floundering mountain of ice bobbed and lilted, generating huge waves which continued to rock the ship long after the monster had settled. In a while the roaring in their ears subsided and there remained only the swirling, nerve-wracking howl of the wind.
The missionary’s eyes swept left and right. Whatever this place was, it sure wasn’t the fair shoreline he’d been promised. Hero again scrambled up the prow, and Leif again yanked him down. This time he made good his threat; he had the little nuisance bound, though he was half-tempted to let him take his chances overboard.
From somewhere deep in the haze grew a soulful, otherworldly call. It went on and on, electrifying the air, bottoming out once the ship had merged with that previously fought westerly flow.
By now Leif’s nerves were shot. He ordered the oars raised.
The longship began to drift. Ship and ice were pulled due west.
The clouds fell far behind as the ship embarked upon an amazingly calm sea—so calm its entire visible surface was featureless except for the faint wakes provided by the ship and its hulking ice companions. To the east a huge fog bank appeared on the horizon, and a while later a smaller bank to the north. Then a very dense one to the south. In time these banks converged, imperceptibly becoming a single mass that closed about the ship, bit by bit creating a slowly heaving dome. Tiny beads of water appeared on beards and eyebrows; in a minute everything was soaked. The only sound was that of the dragging steering oar. The men were now sopping ghosts, speaking only with their eyes.
Directly ahead the fog began to dimple. The dimple became a hollow, the hollow a cave, and then ship and ice were being towed through a low, ever-extending tunnel in fog. The current increased its pull. Ship and drifting ice accelerated through the tunnel.
After a while the missionary quietly stepped forward. He stood with one hand on the prow’s neck, listening to the mist, so motionless he might have been a carved extension of the longship’s aggressive design. Not a man breathed. The tunnel’s dilating and contracting bore was producing an all but seamless series of oscillating, near-phonetic sounds. Leif almost tiptoed back. No god, pagan or Christian, could account for the strangeness of this situation.
They were borne on a course that grew more southerly, and the following day beheld an inhospitable shoreline glazed by dazzling white beaches. Their course held. Two days later they came upon a far pleasanter, thickly wooded coast. Here the current released its hold, and here the missionary untied Hero and personally placed him and his son in a tiny oak faering. He was just as sick of them as he was excited by this promising new land. Once the rowboat had been heaved over the side, he and another man stepped aboard and took up the oars. They began rowing with easy, powerful strokes.
When the boat kissed sand the missionary stood unsteadily.
The first European to set foot on North American soil now placed one hand on his crucifix, the other on his sword’s hilt, and awkwardly plunged his leg into the thigh-deep, ice-cold surf. Before he could take another step the boat lurched as Hero leapt headfirst into the water, followed an instant later by his son. The Greenlanders watched sourly as the two splashed their way into a mad dash for the waiting pines. Leif wished them both good riddance and turned to grin wryly at his fellow Norseman. He must have blacked out for a second, must have been blinded by a shaft of sun, for he found he was staring stupidly at a point midway between his companion and the longship. It felt like he’d been kicked between the eyes.
Everything was dissolving.
He studied the beach and pines closely, but saw nothing of the man or his boy. He turned back, disoriented. With what seemed a superhuman effort he took up his oars. He rowed out sluggishly, in a dream, and the fog rolled in to meet him.

The boy broke into the trees and embraced a trunk, fighting for breath. What happened next happened so fast and so unexpectedly he didn’t have a chance to react.
Three savages stepped from behind the pines and beat him to his knees. They twisted his arms behind his back and hauled him to his feet. He’d barely processed the impression of a wild painted face when something sharp struck him ******* the temple and tore down his cheek to the jaw. Two of the assailants manhandled him into an upright position and held him in place while the third brought his weapon down again and again and again.
All but dead, he watched a nightmare countenance shouting through a shot veil of blood, and behind that image a reeling crimson sun. He lay there gushing while the savages went through his rags. They propped him against a pine and shrieked with triumph, tore the hair and gory scalp from his skull, threw back their heads and screamed at the screaming sky. Tooth and nail, they ripped apart his face and throat and, certain he would die, split what bits of fur were left and let his carcass lie.

                                                HERO

The weeks stretched into months while he fought his way back into the light.
He progressed in stages; only half-conscious, stumbling along in a blood-red stupor punctuated by a slow strobe of frequent blackouts. Days loomed and decayed, nights pounced and were gone; the backlit, swirling gray cosmos collapsed and expanded on every missed beat of his pulse. A thousand times he broke down to die, and a thousand times he clawed to his feet, driven to pursue a tiny, ghost-like figure fluttering in his memory.
Everything conspired to check him.
A bay like an immense landlocked sea was skirted over months or years—it was all the same. Cold locked him in, Hunger drove him afield, that rude ***** Wind lashed him blind, wore him like a shoe, screamed for his skin while he worked his way west.
Somehow he ate, somehow he avoided being eaten; the instincts that had served him halfway around the planet were still vital beneath the abused exterior. His simple burrows became sturdy temporary shelters. He relearned the art of fire, and began to cook what he killed. He manufactured crude snares and weapons and, when his recuperation was complete, paid closer attention to the on-again, off-again trail he’d been following…forever.
Sometimes this trail would call to him like a lover. Other times he stood peering uncertainly, trying to recapture meanings and aims. Then the ground would turn spongy and the sky revolve, and once again he’d be lying all but dead in the woods, while from the face of the sun emerged a vile winged horror, its ugly pale head lashing side to side, its cruelly hooked beak dangling something that glistened in the wild pulsing light…then the fat moon, rising like gas against the icy black night…the feel of the wind:  the slashing of her nails, the chafing of her hem…the sound of things crunching and pausing and sniffing…then the sun, blazing anew. And again that thing, descending, its wide black wings beating slowly, metronomically—but none of that mattered any more. For his mind had quit him, had flown howling into ice and pine to roost with things surreal. In the day his madness might muddle and run, or spend the light stalking, cat-like, watching and waiting. But at night it came creeping from all sides. Sometimes it came in waves. It could gnaw like the devil, or wrap around him like a warm second skin. But none of that mattered either.
The only thing that mattered was the trail—whether it was lost for good, or for only a while. He’d been following it through his episodes, always north, wondering just who and where in the world he was, and trying to shake a ridiculous notion of being led on a wild goose chase.
The cold was unbelievable.
The deeper north he delved, the more confused he became. He grew starved for colors and scents, finding nonexistent patterns in the stark contrast of shadow and snow. He thought he could detect a kind of otherworldly design in the overwhelming number of dead ends he encountered, and, too, in the diabolically frustrating locations of natural obstacles. He seemed to be forever fighting the wind—a hulking, despondent snowman, he hiked face down and focused, while another aspect of his attention floated just behind, disembodied, watching his silent pursuers…leaving no tracks, blending perfectly with the environment in their clever winter coats…not predators, but creatures that normally should have been hightailing it away from him. By the time he could turn, they’d become nothing more menacing than snowdrifts. But they pursued him nevertheless.
And so his paranoia increased…had there ever really been a trail…and when did this miserably cold, miserably anemic crusade begin…his long-term memory was falling apart a chunk at a time. It just got colder and colder and colder until at last, one snippet of a day during one blur of a year, he found himself utterly lost, and clueless as to his history or objective. His mind was a blank, as colorless and featureless as the endless world of ice around him. He’d come this far solely to learn that the only trail he’d been following was his own—and now even that trail was succumbing to ice. On all sides there was nothing to see but an infinite field of glaring whiteness, and nothing to hear but the ululating wail of the tubular polar wind. It was the loneliest, the unholiest, the creepiest sound imaginable. But it wasn’t insanity that made him wheel. It was his self-preservation instinct.
And then he was somehow on his knees in the woods, facing a furious setting sun.
Whole seasons had passed from his memory like chalk from a board. His only recollections were those of a broken, haunted animal:  of being perilously sick, of fearing the unseen, of blindly struggling across a solid-white wilderness. That he’d survived such an ordeal meant nothing to him. And that he had in some indecipherable manner stumbled across the cold-as-stone trail did not fill him with amazement or with thankfulness—there simply wasn’t anything visual or emotional left to draw on. A significant part of his life had been whited out.
But now he could focus entirely on the trail. And before he knew it, the fuzzy area between fantasy and reality found a seam. He began to analyze and plan. He paid attention to hygiene, and kept a kind of running mental journal. Things were sorting out. Yet there were nights when the old sickness would resurface, reestablish its hold, and leave him sweating and uncertain under the stars. Then, paradoxically, his perception would become razor-keen. And so he would see, on a distant hilltop, a pair of scrawny silhouettes, one on four legs and one on two, slowly crossing the faintly pocked face of the setting moon. He would become strangely excited, and thereafter retain crystal-clear images of himself, as if seen from above, hurrying with adroitness through the silent, graveyard-like setting of black and blue night and white-frosted trees. Then the fuzzy area would broaden, and it would be the next morning, and he would be staring at the prints of man and elk in snow. And he would see how the elk’s prints doubled back, and how the man’s prints terminated where he had obviously mounted his guide. An unfathomable glow would bring tears to his eyes. But, even as he gathered himself, a fresh snowfall would wipe out the prints. And once again the world would plummet into white. And the wind would howl as the snow hammered his eyes. And he would ***** on.

A haggard animal sat shivering in a small grove of frozen pines, watching his campfire die. His eyes were fixed. Like the fire, he was running out of warmth, running out of fuel. There wasn’t a whole lot of tinder round his bones, and not much feeling left in his limbs. The slowly heaping downfall was burying him alive, but he was too numb to care.
It had taken him six long years to cross an entire continent, and during that time he’d known only cold and excruciating pain. The pain was leaving him now. The cold was making it right. His eyes glazed over.
Along a narrow plain to the west a herd of caribou filed dreamily through the snow, cutting across a panoramic backdrop of dazzling white mountains. The slow-motion parade was hypnotic. After a while it occurred to the drifting man, in a roundabout way, that he was dying, that he was nonchalantly freezing to death. Concurrent with this notion there rose in his chest a wonderful liquid warmth. His eyes slowly closed and, once shut, began to set fast.
He was jolted from within. It was as if he’d been kicked in the heart.
He ****** to his feet, pounded his fists on his thighs, felt nothing. The breath spurted from his mouth in small white clouds as he stumbled downhill after the slow caribou train. He swam through the snow, hallucinating, imagining that certain individuals in the herd were mocking him by slowing and accelerating, while others glanced back with expressions of contempt.
As he burst into their midst the animals stepped aside indifferently. A few galloped ahead to keep up the herd, but most simply sidestepped while he danced there, stamping his feet and smacking his hands. The herd grew thinner, until only the old and infirm were filing by. The man desperately embraced a hobbling female for warmth, but she cried out and kicked, triggering a panic reaction in the herd. Clinging for his life, the man was dragged along beside her as the herd stormed into a maze of flying ice and snow. His weight caused her to stagger sideways until they slammed against the flank of a sick male. The man instinctively threw an arm over the male and, thus draped between them, was borne across the drifted plain for upwards of a mile, his freezing feet alternately dangling above and dragging through the snow. The herd broke into a hard run, forcing him to assume a broken trot. Soon his legs were stinging. Sensation rushed through his body.
Now the herd, still picking up speed, began to contract, jamming him between his bearers. There was a quick jolt to his right and he was lifted clean off his feet, nearly straddling the bucking female. It had become an all-out stampede. Through hard-flung snow he saw the cause:  just ahead, the caribou had run head-on into a solid wall of galloping wood bison, and both frantic herds had blindly veered to the east; were in fact running side by side down a deep, ragged canyon—were pouring over the canyon’s lip like a cataract. He was approaching, at breakneck pace, that very place where the converged herds so abruptly swerved. The hanging man snarled as he was borne inevitably to the point of deflection.
There came a concussion at his left shoulder, followed by a blast of snow. In an instant the ailing male was tumbling head over heels to the east, ****** into the stampede’s plummeting mass by the fury of its descent. The man and female, rebounding from this impact, were shot to the west in a crazy jumble of flailing legs. The caribou lost her footing, flew nose-first into a snowbank, and came up running. Kicking off, the man used the last of his strength to heave himself astride. At first she fought to shake him, but the spell of the run was too strong. She and half a dozen others went pounding in the opposite direction of the stampede, quickly joined by a number of bison that had likewise splintered from their herd. The riding man could make out their huge hulking shapes thundering by in a blizzard of flying ice, could hear their heavy gasps and explosive grunts. One passed so close he felt its massive flank brush his leg. He peered to his right and saw a black, pig-like eye regarding him excitedly, moving up and down like a piston as the beast ran alongside.
The eye shifted, focusing on the gasping, completely obsessed female. The bull dropped its head and slammed into the caribou’s side, sending her and the man careening down a ***** to the west. The caribou brayed hysterically and her backside went down, but she managed, despite the weight of her rider, to return to all fours and frantically continue along the *****. Again the bull charged, crashing into her shoulder. The man and caribou were launched sideways into the white searing air.
He sat up carefully. The huffing bison was straddling him like a bully laying down the ground rules. Its big wiry beard came right up to brush his chin. The stench of its breath was stupefying.
The bull stamped and snorted, thrusting its stubby horns left and right as the man used his elbows and heels to back away. The bull followed, move for move. When the man collapsed under his own impetus the bull shoved him along with its snout, bellowing furiously. Clear down the ***** they lunged, shoving and lurching, until the man lay sprawled on his back; up to his chin in snow, completely helpless. The ton of a bull butted and kicked, but only glancingly:  those hooves could **** with a blow. At last the man, in one clean sequence, spun on his rear, dropped to his side, and went rolling down the ***** using his elbows for ******.
At the bottom ran a narrow fence of frosted saplings marking an ice cliff’s precipice. He lay face down in the snow, too done in to do anything but **** at an air pocket.
And there came a high-pitched crackling, a sound like the protracted gasp of embers in a dead fire. He turned just as those saplings began leaning to the west, their frozen skins cracking with the strain.
The bison bellowed menacingly.
The sprawled man looked back and saw it still standing with legs spread wide, silhouetted against the sky. In a moment it began huffing downhill, lurching side to side, surfing the snow between lunges.
It chased him through the genuflecting saplings straight into a frozen gully where, protected by a few feet of insurmountable verticality, he was able to slide on the ice between its stomping hooves, downhill out of reach, then downhill out of control—spinning just in time to glimpse a breathtaking vista:
Partly framed by the gully-straddling saplings was a vast crescent of jagged white mountains seemingly huddled round a small stretch of snow-draped pines. The little wood these mountains surrounded was isolated in a broad lake of solid ice. Hundreds of fissures radiated crazily throughout this packed ice field, appearing to issue from somewhere near the frozen wood’s center, which was completely obscured by a ring of rising mist. Above this thumbnail panorama the sun showered gold.
Then the gully dipped radically, and he was skidding headfirst, slamming back and forth against its slick white walls. This uncontrollable plunge had the positive effect of getting his blood flowing. Yet it tore him up. Had the gully concluded in a cul-de-sac, or had further progress required a single calorie of uphill effort, his struggle would certainly have ended here. He would have been too weak to move, and death would have been swift.
But there was a glacier—a great river of ice pouring slowly out of the clouds. The gully, terminating in a little scoop formation near the glacier’s base, spat him flailing onto its gnarly glass hide. He went head over heels, bits of skin and fur flying like chips from a band saw. Somehow he gained his footing, and then he was running against his will, tumbling and recovering and tumbling again.
He didn’t catch much of that crazy run. He half-glimpsed whirling walls of ice, felt a fickle surface underfoot, and broke through an assaultive mist that clung to his ankles and arms. He remembered having the ragged hides torn right off his body, and then being skinned alive. And he remembered reaching the glacier’s base and crawling like an animal; round its sweeping drifts, past its peaked moraines, all the way to a twisting frozen gorge.
And he followed this gorge down; ricocheting wall to wall, delirious, small plumes of thrashed snow marking his descent.
Through a freezing wood he fumbled. In a veil of mist he tumbled down a steep and verdant grade. As cold consumed his closing breath, he fell upon, near-blind, near death, a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a pool.
And in this pool a man lay purged, his broken body half-submerged.
The stumbling man stopped. He knelt to weep, but lost his thread. One hand took a bicep, the other, the head. With a twist and pull the corpse emerged.
That visage…that face—misshapen mask, contorted, bleached; of life’s deposits fully leached. Essence dispatched—a void, sodden wretch.
He let it fall and the glass was breached. All a freak, all a stretch:  upon this act his grip detached.
And the bridge collapsed…one vagabond grasp…what were these feelings; recaptured and trashed…a span elapsed…who was this puckered mass…he hauled it by the waist and thighs…slid it in, watched the pool react:  purse and recover, expand, contract. The glass reformed, now silver-backed…a sudden mirror…the man leaned nearer…saw his reflection, just smashed, remade intact.
The pool grew still.
Within its depth a shadow stirred—visions gathered, some distinct, some obscure. What they meant, and who they were, was much too much to fathom. The glass became blurred.
He closed his eyes, let his heavy head fall, fell back on his haunches, felt the sweat seep and crawl. The air was a pall—as he struggled to rise, a nib crossed his wrist.
He opened his eyes.
Between his fingers the blades poked and crept. Round his knuckles they ventured, up his forearm they stepped:  they seemed to be triggered by prompts from the ground. He shook his head slowly and dully looked round.
There were jays grouped about him, their black eyes aglow. Red hens came running, their fat chicks in tow. Gophers engaged in a weird hide-and-seek. Bluebells and buttercups craned for a peek. Sparrows hopped past and, paying no heed, burst into flight. He watched them recede.
Westward they flew.
Bewildered, he slumped.
Bumped from behind, he jumped to his feet, flabbergasted to find an ancient gray moose near-eclipsing the sky, with grit in his snarl and fire in his eye.
The old moose took aim.
The man turned to flee and stumbled, then tumbled and fell on a palm and a knee.

But there lies a world (so the lullaby goes) where rivers ever run.
Poked from behind, pushed out of his mind, he staggered into sun.







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
the coopers family, the case of torette syndrome




michelle met young rudy rometon, who was really hard to look after, every time micheele turned her

back rudy will hold a plastic knife toward another patient of the psych ward, because she is really

psychotic, and michelle couldn’t handle her on her own, so she asked sally to help her, and sally

said, yeah, because if we have to help this girl get help we can’t push her away, but the only

problem with rudy is, she feeds the staff with these ridiculous jellyfish lies, that she was kidnapped

by the mafia, and her father was the head honcho and michelle then said, i read about the mafia

and your dad isn’t one, but rudy would get really aggressive on the psych ward medical staff, and

sally took rudy into the room to let her have a yelling match and she yelled out

YOU FUCKEN STUPID ****, MY MOTHER PROMISED ME A TRIP TO WARNER BROS MOVIE WORLD

AND THEN SHE FUCKEN WENT BACK ON HER FUCKEN WORD, SHE ALSO SAID I COULD BE

A BEAUTIFUL MODEL,AND THEN SHE FUCKEN WENT BEHIND MY BACK, AND SAID RUDY, ISN’T

FULLY EQUIPPED, and sally stopped her by saying, with being famous and rudy said, LET ME FUCKEN SPEAK

sally was distraught and felt threatened as she tried to listen, YEAH, SHUT UP, THAT STUPID TWO FACED MOLE

DECIDED TO LOCK ME UP EVERY TIME I WAS TRYING TO ACHIEVE MY DREAMS, I WANT HER TO STOP

BUT SHE WON’T LEAVE ME ALONE, YOU SEE SALLY COOPER, I HAVE BEEN HAVING PROBLEMS, TRYING TO DEAL

WITH MY FUCKEN PROBLEMS IN MY BRAIN, from that moment, sally took rudy in for a brainscan, to see if there

is any sign of mental illness, and rudy didn’t want the brain scan, only because she was too defensives when someone says

she is a mental head and then as david was entering to check on rudy, rudy got her plastic knife, and threatened david, if

she wasn’t allowed to go, david, wasn’t in the losing mood and tripped rudy up and locked her in the solitary cell, saying

i bet you prefer to be here, rather than the streets, cause your mum wants time, cause she can’t except you at the moment

rudy yelled blue ******, saying WHY DON’T YOU FIND A FUCKEN WAY TO GET ME OUT OF THIS DUMP, and david said

if you want tp be free, you must behave yourself, because at present you are menace, menace i tell ya, and meanwhile

at the coopers family clinic john prendth was dealing with a patient who has bulimia, and she was skinny, and this made john

want to get a referral for her to go to a food abnormalities centre, where they only monitor you what you eat, well john was having

problems with her conversation patterns, from positive and negative positive and negative, which made john think there is a little

bit of mental illness, but her brain scan showed nothing, but to be on the safe side, john took a picture of the brain, just to make sure

that there isn’t anything small, and instead of being with sue and frank at dinner, he spent 4 hours looking for abnormalities from the

scan, which shows nothing, and then john noticed a tumor growing, at present it is alright, but it looks like those kind of tumors that

could do more harm if not removed early, so the next day, as david brought the morning medications for rudy and also the breakfasts

for the impatients of the psych ward, john phoned her bellmic patient to come and discuss her results and she vomited in her toilet every

hour on the hour, she was cranky, and finding out she has a tumor, made her more furious, and she said, i want that tumor out of fucken me

right now, while sally was given new words but same guidelines, that her mum is a two faced marta ****, and sally said, here take these ******

because you need to calm down, because, what you are doing is not right, these inpatients are sick, they don’t want some bratty teenager like you

putting plastic knives to their arms and then martin came out and said, why you young ****, get off ya ****, and into work, mind you, sally spent all day

with rudy, because at 3 in the afternoon she was diagnosed with torette syndrome and rudy yelled every swear word under the sun

and the staff said, yeah, you are swearing and you get ticks, david said that you have terretz, ok, rudy yelled and went into her room while the

nurses got the medication, and decided on clonidine, 2 tablets at night and one dexedine in the morning, but david still wanted to monitor rudy

here in his psych ward, cause she has a violent temper, and at the end of that day david, ron and john and sue went to sing leonard cohen’s

halleuiah, in a very awful voice, plus david and jean and jack were telling jokes of their past, while rudy and john’s bulimic patient with a tumor

were understanding, but rudy hit michele and sally a few times, but all in a days work

the end
Esther Esuga Apr 2015
An innovative, creative, calm serenity
A spirit of togetherness and humanism
A patient, peaceful, joyful emotion
Independence
Different shades of Turquoise

A new, fresh, hopeful place of rest
Healing
Natural
Growth and development
Success
Vitality

A joyful, happy warming effect
Energetic
Sunshine
Arousal of cheerful feelings and freshness
Great mental stimulant

A classy, luxury glitz of glamour
A confident, generous, self-work
A victorious , royal, happy-to-go-look
An abundant, shiny, excess extrovert
Sophisticated

Written By; Esther Esuga













An innovative, creative, calm serenity
A spirit of togetherness and humanism
A patient, peaceful, joyful emotion
Independence
Different shades of Turquoise

A new, fresh, hopeful place of rest
Healing
Natural
Growth and development
Success
Vitality

A joyful, happy warming effect
Energetic
Sunshine
Arousal of cheerful feelings and freshness
Great mental stimulant

A classy, luxury glitz of glamour
A confident, generous, self-work
A victorious , royal, happy-to-go-look
An abundant, shiny, excess extrovert
Sophisticated

Written By; Esther Esuga



















An innovative, creative, calm serenity
A spirit of togetherness and humanism
A patient, peaceful, joyful emotion
Independence
Different shades of Turquoise

A new, fresh, hopeful place of rest
Healing
Natural
Growth and development
Success
Vitality

A joyful, happy warming effect
Energetic
Sunshine
Arousal of cheerful feelings and freshness
Great mental stimulant

A classy, luxury glitz of glamour
A confident, generous, self-work
A victorious , royal, happy-to-go-look
An abundant, shiny, excess extrovert
Sophisticated

Written By; Esther Esuga



















A sweet , young , pretty , subtle-charm
   A girly, warm, bright sense of appeal
  A cute, Fun, attractive, soft touch of feminity
  A spark of warmth and tenderness with friends and family
  An unconditional love, friendship and care.
An elegant pink


A royal, noble, selfless form of leadership
An enlightened, balanced state of maturity
A mixture of the feminine and masculine energies
An alluring, luxury of mystic fantasy
A beautiful, calm , calculated sense of wisdom

A color of heat, love, power and hot-passion
A vibrant, provoking, brave sense of will power
A seductive, romantic list of appetite
An attention grabbing, sharp rhythm of excitement
A color of signs

A calm, loyal, productive and conservative effect on humanity
A strong connection with masculinity
A rich, hopeful, desiring-lucky-go charm
A color of intuition and the sixth sense
Mostly heavenly and soothing to the mind and body
A friendly, stable , sincere, expertise of understanding


A cheerful, creative,bright-sunshine
A warm, happy, joyful, energetic summer
A spirit of optimism and success
Shades of orange

Angelic
A meek, peaceful note of simplicity
Pure, heavenly and gentle
An innocent, good act of precision
Positive

A powerful, bold, confident elegance
Wealth
A formal, classy sense of sophistication
Sexuality
Proudly black and beautiful

A color that absorbs
A strong, honest form of endurance
A stable, warm, comfortable, sense of maturity
A friendly note of earthly attitude
A bond with earth and its nature

A mediator between black and white
A neutral, reserved and modest aura
A solid, elegant form of maturity
A reliable, formal dignified class

A shiny, wealthy glitz of glamour
A modern sense of creativity
A gentle , graceful, kind touch of femininity
Sensitive

An innovative, creative, calm serenity
A spirit of togetherness and humanism
A patient, peaceful, joyful emotion
Independence
Different shades of Turquoise

A new, fresh, hopeful place of rest
Healing
Natural
Growth and development
Success
Vitality

A joyful, happy warming effect
Energetic
Sunshine
Arousal of cheerful feelings and freshness
Great mental stimulant

A classy, luxury glitz of glamour
A confident, generous, self-work
A victorious , royal, happy-to-go-look
An abundant, shiny, excess extrovert
Sophisticated

Written By; Esther Esuga
lkm Jul 2014
i ask you to be patient

there are still cracks between my ribcage
i am trying to fix
and i am still searching for ways to mend
my broken, tattered wings

there are parts of me like missing puzzle pieces
i'm still trying to find
and i own many things, yet if there's one thing
i do not own, that would be time

again, i must ask you to be patient

at times my head is a storm of emotions;
thunder and lightning are all i hear
at times i will play a game of hide and seek
yet it's not you i hide from but my fears

i'm the girl who wears her heart on her sleeves
yet i hide behind closed doors
the kind who smiles bright like fire
though she crumbles in ashes to the floor

once more, please be patient

wait; i promise you'll see the masterpiece i am
for i am of many dimensions
and through my eyes, you will see
my thoughts as the stars made into constellations

i am the galaxy, and i am infinite
a firework, a work of art
all i ask is for you to be patient and stay
to see past the pain darkening my heart
Jordan Ray Aug 2018
The time will come slowly,
For now you must let the empty space taunt you.

The grass will grow slowly,
For now you must plant the seed in the baron land below you.

The heart will beat slowly,
For now you must tap the drum softly beside you.

The love will heal slowly,
For now you must be patient and watch the tide take away the pain that troubles you.

A patient man is a judicious wolf.
Sometimes Patience Is The Key To Vigilance
Patrick Austin Sep 2018
Our Backgrounds before we met...

I'm an only child born in Montana in 1983, from a divided home. Parents divorced at seven, Mom was unstable and unfaithful. Dad obtained custody of me and we moved to Oregon Coast to live with my Grandma. I had unhealthy visits and relationship with Mom thereafter. My Grandma died at 12 and at 13 my Dad remarried an alcoholic woman, I had a strained relationship with them until adulthood when she stopped drinking. I had exposure to trauma; alcoholism, mental illness, verbal abuse and juvenile troubles. I rebelled by using drugs in my late teens and early twenties, I lived on my own for a few years after high school but had little direction.

My bride is the eldest with two little brothers, parents stayed in same area of Portland during childhood with lots of family support and her parents stayed married. They had Christian values but some anger and anxiety issues at home. She was sexually assaulted at 17 and never had good closure with this. She told me her parents didn't provide her enough help with things like this growing up. Status quo was the backbone of the family dynamic, challenging emotions were discouraged. She rebelled by being reckless with herself, financially and sexually. She decided to join the Navy at 19. She lived alone briefly, but mostly with Grandparents & Parents before our marriage.

I loved how we both grew up reading Archie comics. No other girl I had ever met had that in common with me. I think we wanted a surreal life like the one in Riverdale.

2002

She and I were 19 when we first met in my home town on the coast at an arcade. We became friends and secretly liked each other. I was too nervous to ever make a move on her. We traveled together, she stayed with me, we used drugs together and drank at times. One night she drank too much and had *** with a guy I knew at a party. I was devastated by this. She was Navy bound and I didn't see a real future for us. The next morning she left and I didn't talk to her again for two years. I figured she would be gone with the Navy soon and that she must not have been interested in a relationship with me despite the time we spent together.

2003

I was depressed about this rejection. I dated an older woman who was interested in me but was no substitute. I eventually moved to the Portland area to work and live. I still had few plans and was lonely, in or out of the few brief relationships I attempted. I never found someone that I felt safe with or had a true connection, let alone true love. She ended up not following through with the Navy and continued working her way up in her job at the call center. She attended community college and dated a few guys. She dated one guy for a couple of years who was not a good match for her but stayed with him off and on despite issues. His family was wealthy and treated her well. He slept around on her as did she. At one point he gave her an STD. She also had an ongoing affair with a married man in the military that she went to high school with. He had a child and a wife with mental health issues. She was still hurting a lot at times and not always doing well.

2004

She reached out to me via email after two years of no contact. We emailed back and forth a couple times over the next few months. We talked about meeting up. We spoke on the phone and eventually met up in Portland. We had an amazing night getting to know each other again and work past the confusion of our earlier days of friendship. I realized that she did in fact like me before but since I was timid and trying to be proper and take things slowly she didn't understand my motives. She apologized for her actions at the party as well. She claimed she was in a really messed up place and was making bad choices at that time. Getting our feelings out in the open was good and she appreciated my attitude towards being slow to make moves on her when we first met. I was worried about falling for her based on our history but eventually I was determined to give it a shot. We soon after starting dating and being intimate. Our love was extremely powerful and beyond all others we had both experienced. She broke ties with other suitors and shortly after we talked about marriage and started planning a wedding for the next year.

I remember when we first held hands. We were so shakey and she was quivering on my couch as I had my arm around her. We felt so safe with each other. We could finally be ourselves and do what our hearts desired. We knew we were on to something new and so amazing. We were so patient with each other as we navigated our new love and emotional thresholds.

I remember when we saw Matisyahu in concert together. That was a once in a lifetime experience and a life-changing moment for us. I feel it set the tone for things to come in our future.

I remember how creative my proposal to her was, in the Arcade where we first met. I hid the ring in a prize container from one of those claw machines. Pretending I got the ring from inside by reaching into the machine on one knee I was so nervous and wasn't sure if I could pull it off before she caught on. She looked so shocked and surprised. I was so excited she said yes! We took pictures in the photo machine and had burgers afterwards, I'd do all of it all over again just to see her face in that moment.

2005

We found an apartment for us in Portland. I moved in while she was still living back with her parents until the wedding. She had to change her number because the married man she was previously involved with kept calling her about changing her mind about marriage and continuing their relationship. She was offered a job in Denver and we decided to move away together after our sandy wedding in Cannon Beach. I still had a very hard time and was embarrassed with my past history with her. Many of my friends knew what had happened at 19 and how much it hurt me but I was so crazy about her I think I tried to pretend it didn't happen or that it was not a big deal because we were younger. We got married and moved to Colorado soon after. We made friends at a church, I became more active as a Christian and really loved being married. We were very involved in keeping spirituality in our marriage. I began to notice her poor financial decisions and practices more. This caused conflict but we always tried to communicate and work on things.

I remember when we went down to my folks for New Year's in 2005. We sipped tea in my Datsun as we drove to the coast over the snowy mountain pass. We told them of our engagement. We were all so blissful and excited. We never knew what was to come. We didn't even know about the opportunity in Denver yet. Our story is amazing!

I remember when I wanted to go see her in Portland and the roads were iced over. I left my car at a park and ride before I caused a wreck. I took the light rail across town then rode a bus to the Eastside shopping mall. The bus to her house was not running because it wasn't safe so I walked the rest of the 4 Miles sometimes having to crawl on my hands and knees to make it up hills in the ice and then I finally made it only to just spend a couple hours with her and fall asleep on her parents couch. Her Dad drove us back the next morning to my car so I could get to work. It was all worth it just to see her for that little extra time. I would have done anything for her.

I remember when she was interviewing for the new position in Denver? I drove all over Portland trying to find little toy cars to help with her illustration about how a team is like a car having all four wheels and how they work together to accomplish a goal. I was so proud of her for giving it her all and succeeding at earning that position. Now that I think of it, that car analogy applies to our family and us. We all need each other to be better and keep on track and be a team. I am so motivated by that and our boys. I lose my way without that and I want to be her reflection and motivation as she has been that for me. I truly thought we brought out the best in each other when we were together.

I remember when we were given tickets to see Fiona Apple. That was so spontaneous and a great way to kick off our time in Denver together. We always used to watch our same movies over and over again. Like the Friends DVDs and White Christmas every winter break and The Wedding Singer. We walked everywhere and lived simply. "I wanna be the guy, who grows old with you"

I remember in our first Denver apartment when we took baths together in our claw foot tub in the big bathroom. We put a board over the top and played cards. I liked playing Uno with her in bed too. She was so funny being slightly color blind and in the dark, mixing up the greens and blues. We played Uno in Breckenridge too at that cool bed and breakfast in the fall.

2006

We had continued fun and adventure in our new home of Denver. She was doing well as a trainer for the bank and I started working in health foods. We went camping in New Mexico a couple times with friends and we both took individual trips to Oregon as well as one together for her uncle's wedding. We had marital spats on occasion but always bounced back. The issues we had seemed like part of a normal marriage and were far better than what I had grown up around. I realized that marriage was a lot of work but I was up for the task. She occasionally became aggressive throwing things at me or breaking things during conflict.  I believed I was the problem and tried to change for her in many ways. With two incomes we still had trouble making our bills at times. She had debts that I never knew about that started to catch up with us but I took care of getting them settled and we paid off her car and traded it for an older Volvo Wagon that we both loved, I even had it repainted her favorite color for a birthday gift. Overall things seemed like they were progressing in a positive way.

I remember when we saw Midnight in concert in Boulder. That was the peak of our hippy days. We were alive with pleasure in our healthy vegetarian diets and practices living in a time and place like no other. I want to be like that again. Reggae was our music. We had much in common.

2007

We really fell into our roles in our marriage and the community; church and culture, friends etc. Things seemed very balanced and appropriate for us at that time and that age (24-25). We had separate bank accounts and jobs. I had money in savings. We started the process of buying a house so we could invest in something. She became pregnant shortly after. I embraced the challenge with positive energy but we were both in for a big change. We started having more fights. I didn't have many friends and would write to old friends via social media just so I could to catch up and tell them things were going great with being married to make myself feel better than I actually did. She hated the dawn of social media and also felt isolated I'm sure. She felt I should be doing more for her and I didn't know how to do what she needed but I failed to ask a lot of the time. After one argument, she left the house. My instinct told me to look at ******* and ******* as a retaliation. I had not done this much once we were married because she always met my needs but when things were difficult between us I felt more emotionally isolated. She walked in and realized what I had been doing. She was very upset, and because she was pregnant, thought I was not attracted to her. The truth is I found her even more beautiful and in fact when I looked at ******* I tried to look at women I found less attractive than her so that I feel good about what I have. I mostly fantasized about how these women were more submissive and loving than her. That is the part I needed to feel good about and feel better about myself with because I felt very dominated and controlled. She has never forgiven me for this and I will never stop feeling sorry to her for my brokenness. During one particular argument that year she was getting close to being violent towards me again and I pushed her away on the chest with my fingertips. She got very mad and said I hurt her. I immediately felt terrible and apologized. I never let something like that happen again. I have always avoided violence towards others especially women and of course her. I was defenseless against physical and emotional abuse.

2008

Our eldest son was born at the beginning of the year, it was a traumatic birth for everyone. We wanted a natural birth with a midwife but we were transferred to a hospital and she ended up having an emergency C-section, nothing went as planned. We had a really hard time coping with the emotions of this experience. A lot of buried feelings and trauma from both of us started coming out. We moved a month later into our new home outside of town. No more walking or biking to places, we had to drive everywhere. This house was next to our friends from church. We thought this would make us feel less isolated but we didn’t really have the community with them that we had hoped for. They were upset that they didn't have a child of their own yet and being around us might have been hard for them. My wife stopped working and stayed home with our son. All these changes made for a very difficult time. I did my best to support them but this was the first time we shared a bank account and needed to follow a budget more than ever before. We had no debt at the beginning of the year with money in savings but then the hospital bills put us down about $7,000 and rising with new home and moving expenses and baby needs. My job could barely keep up. She and I had a hard time adjusting. We could not afford to travel home to Oregon and visit family as much and we felt more and more isolated. She started showing me more signs of instability, locking herself in the bathroom with kitchen knives and scraping her legs which continued off and on for years to come. Talks of divorce and suicide threats seemed to happen more than before. I felt responsible and tried to fix her ever changing issues with me.

I remember when herr ******* were full and swollen with milk. It is so beautiful the way she could feed our babies. I wanted her in every way, our bodies belonged to each other. I was there for her and our shared pleasure. I loved it when she told me that she was mine in the heat of passion. This spark could only be a bandage for so long but I didn't know that yet.

2009

I tried to promote within my company but was not selected, they were cutting budgets and employment all around me. I felt worried about our future. I had always thought the military might be a good opportunity and could move us closer to family back home. My father-in-law encouraged me to look into the Coast Guard. I felt this would be a good way to get moved closer to Oregon.  I ended up joining the Navy because we found out we were pregnant again with our second son and that was the only way I could join a military branch. She worked off and on as a nanny and later in the year at a coffee house working nights. We barely spent time together and when we did it was a lot of hard conversations or arguments about finances with making up intimately in the middle of the night between times of caring for the baby. She once scratched my neck with her fingernails during an argument. People I worked with noticed. It was a hard time and we knew change was on the horizon with jobs and moving. We did visit Oregon that summer though and had a great vacation at the beach with a borrowed 4x4 and staying at a hotel and picnicking out of a cooler as well as going to her brothers wedding. I was 26 and about to join the Navy to provide better for my family at all costs sacrificing myself for their benefit because I would have rather died than look like I didn't try my best for them.

I remember when our babies would kick and move around inside her belly. I loved laying by her and feeling her tummy. I would hum to the baby and hear them move and squirm. I loved giving our boys baths when they were babies too. We had our little bundles of our love, wrapped in a towel in our hands, so tiny and vulnerable. I miss those days and want to remember them with her, aside from this state of melancholy.

2010

The Navy recruiters would only take me if we rented out our home and had her stay with family during boot camp and training. We moved to a furnished apartment in Denver and put our things in storage. She was 5 months pregnant and our eldest was two. I shortly after was let go from my job. Our second son was born in April. I got a contract with the Navy at the last minute but didn't leave until August. We sold our beloved vehicles and lived off retirement funds for six months and moved down to Florida where her parents had just moved out of the blue for work, to stay with them until I left for boot camp. I applied for temporary work in Florida at a dozen places but had no luck in my three months there. I took care of our eldest a lot while she took care of the new baby. Being in Florida was a culture shock for us but we had our moments of romance and made the best of it. Eventually I left for boot camp in August. It was really hard and sad to be gone. She stayed in Florida and came to visit me with the baby at boot camp graduation in October. I then went to Connecticut for five months of training. It was also hard but at least I could call home every day and be in the same time zone. I visited Florida during the winter break and saw my boys and her. We went to Disney world and had a great time on her parents. We also made a romantic home movie I could enjoy while away from her. I flew back to Connecticut and tried to make the best of things. My roommate was very abusive of substances and I resisted the temptation for a long time but the threat of being submarine service bound and missing my family pushed me to drinking every weekend and getting messed up to escape before I left.

I remember when we drove to Key Largo, Florida and stopped at a crazy bird wildlife center. I remember our oldest was so amazed hearing a bird say hello back to us. It was so foreign and fun there. I am glad we all shared that experience together.

I remember our trip to the citrus grove in Florida. That was such a great day for our family. I always look back on that with really fond sentiment. I felt like I was in a beautiful family music video with them.

2011

I finished Submarine Training and got orders back to the Northwest. The plan was all coming together. I arrived first and bought a car and got our items moved from storage in Denver to our townhouse rental in Washington. She and the boys joined me a month later. I didn't report to my Sub for another month as they were at sea. She became pregnant again with our third son right after arriving. We had just bought a small car and were not planning on another child. Towards the end of the year I was working a lot and having a really hard time, being bullied and treated poorly at work plus our financial situation was still very difficult. Adjusting to the military was hard among younger men being 28. I dreaded each day in that environment but I tried to endure it for my family. I went to sea for a couple months at the end of the year stopping in Hawaii and California. During this time She reached out to her ex married affair partner after six years of no contact. She didn't tell me until later. She said she needed closure with him, we were not in counseling yet but she decided this was appropriate. I flew home early from sea and wanted to surprise her. The stress and trauma of this quick transition home after being to sea for the first time (which was also traumatic) made me want to drink and get messed up before flying. I arrived home and surprised her but I seemed off to her which I was but didn’t explain why, I have never done that since. I got to be home for two months almost work free while we celebrated the holidays and prepared for the new baby to be born. She started getting more involved with a church and building a community for us which was great. Our financial struggles almost led us to foreclosure of our home back in Colorado but by the grace of God we got it sold with a short sale just in time.

I remember when I came back from Hawaii and brought her a beaded necklace and she wore it naked with her big beautiful pregnant goddess belly and we made passionate hippy love together. I want to grow out my beard again and spend my life making hippy love and feeling free again.

2012

Our third son was born in January. It was a very positive birth experience and much less stressful than the other two. Shortly after I flew out to finish the other half of the deployment I had missed. I really focused on being positive and spiritually connected by reading my Bible at sea which was helpful. I called her when I arrived in Japan halfway through being gone. She was upset because she tested positive for an STD while trying to get on birth control. I became suspicious of her yet she was suspicious of me. We both got tested again and I was clean, she told me she had a false positive after all. This put a big strain on our trust, especially being so far away. This forced us to be honest with each other about some things such as her contact with her ex lover and my drinking to cope. We were both very upset until I returned home and we could start some counseling to work through things. Forgiveness seemed to be difficult for us. It brought up hurts of the past when we were 19. She also had severe postpartum depression that became worse after each birth. I was still having a hard time with work and the submarine environment. Our church friends tried to counsel us but it was not the most helpful. My submarine was scheduled for extended repairs and not going to sea for three years, I would be transferred before the end of that period. I used this time to bond with her and my boys. I wanted to get better involved in our community and do volunteer work and side jobs to earn extra money. Our boys were all given diagnosis's for autism which begun to fill our lives with appointments and challenges for years to come but we were a good team in dealing with all of it. It gave us something to work together on but took our focus away from working on our own personal issues and relationship with each other as much as we should have.

2013

We had new years with both sides of our family in a snowy mountain setting in Oregon. It looked like it was going to be a great year until her Grandpa passed away suddenly. It ripped our entire family apart but especially her. He kept the family grounded and she was very close to him, he really loved all of us. She and I started going on dates again because we had Navy sponsored child care. It was the beginning of a really good thing for us. Tragically one night after a date we were dancing with the boys on the patio and I tried to pick her up and I lost my balance and fell on her, breaking her collar bone severely. She needed surgery and was very mad at me for years to come. She has a scar, a metal plate and numbness in her chest. We worked through it with our community from church but she still is very mad at me. I feel more terrible about this incident than she could ever know. I would lose a finger in place of that incident if I could. I continued having a really hard time in the Navy and I didn't want to stay in but She insisted our boys needed care only the Navy could offer. She also said she would divorce me if I ever left the Navy. I took this threat seriously even though she assured me later that she would never actually do that. Against my own convictions I reenlisted because I wanted to do the best thing for my family. We moved into base housing at the end of summer and didn’t go out to do things as much anymore. The house was nice but it ****** us in, we also had less community with people around our home. I started volunteering at church more and doing work with special needs people. I felt like I was doing good things and that I had purpose all around. I think she appreciated this about me.

2014

We started seeing a professional counselor together and individually. It became a regular event. I worked on myself and she worked on herself. I had a lot of issues with my Mom and eventually broke off communication with her for my own well-being and the betterment of my family. I got past a lot of the bad feelings I had. She worked on her traumatic experiences and our relationship dynamics. Just when things were going well I got a new boss who made things hard for me and others at work and I started messing up more. I got in trouble for messing up a job at work and was given strike one on my record. She lost respect for me as a provider but I tried to stay strong showing her that I would continue to do my best.

I remember when we had an appointment in Tacoma and we had a brunch date together afterwards. She looked so beautiful that day, I took her picture and was so proud to enjoy  huevos rancheros and momosas with her. I remember going to the Tacoma Art Museum seeing the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, we have a great time together doing new things and feeding each other's interests. I loved laughing with her too, sometimes we just bust up like nobody's around. I loved the sound of her laughter. I loved watching Portlandia with her, it is so funny to remember the funny place where we became close and be able to relate together.

2015

I kept working hard and being involved with family and appointments for my boys and her. I still maintained my volunteer work and part time side jobs. I got strike two with the Navy for messing up again... I had just gained orders to leave the sub for local shore duty. I could not get out of the extended repair situation soon enough. She was very disappointed in me and not so understanding. I worked through this situation with our counselor as did she. He always told her I am a good man and that I do a lot for her and the boys. It's true, I care more than anything about them, I made mistakes and I feel bad especially when I cause my family stress. I left for shore duty in April. It was a hard time adjusting to the new routine but eventually we seemed to make it work. That summer we took a trip to visit Texas where her parents had just moved from Florida. We spent a great night together for our 10th anniversary in a hotel in Texas and went dancing. We had a lot more time together as my work schedule was less. The more people we had in our home working with our kids on issues the less useful my input seemed. I was not included as much in making family decisions because they all seemed to happen while I was at work, despite my objections. We tried to get our budget under control but she still had anxiety discussing spending. She continued to struggle with depression and was put on medication because she had still been harming herself. She was put on Prozac daily and anti anxiety medication as needed. He family members were not very supportive of medication which upset her but I always tried to be supportive in seeking help and continued care for both of us.

2016

We had a busy routine of kids in school now and home school and preschool and appointments for all of us. She wanted to go to church less and less. I started drinking a couple beers at night almost every day. I tried to mask my stress from her mood swings. She decided not to go to church at all anymore and focused teaching the boys about Jewish traditions exclusively which was hard for me to adjust to and confusing for the boys. I loved her and wanted to be supportive. As usual I was submissive and removed myself from the Christian church and some friendships. I feel like we lost our community at that point. We searched for a good place to have a new community with Jewish people but it was like starting over. I felt like I converted to Christianity for her when we got together and now I had to convert again, either way I would have done it for her because I loved her that much. The kids were confused by this change. After trying and failing at many synagogues we finally found one that seemed right for us.

2017

We finally had some money in savings because I kept it a secret and ended up planning a trip to visit her parents in Texas but it fell through due to lack of military flights. Instead we spent three nights away in a nice hotel resort as a family in February. We had three days of pure family time. Playing Battleship and other games in our room as a family, watching movies and eating at all the different restaurants and getting room service. Going swimming everyday in the foggy pool. I love our family and how we can have a great time together doing nothing but at the same time so much. That was so peaceful and relaxing. I wanted to keep doing things like that together as a family before our boys got too old. Shortly after this vacation she wanted to go back to school, then we bought a third vehicle so she could. Shortly after this she changed her mind about school and wanted to buy another house instead. I went along with it to please her and we practically killed ourselves trying to get the move accomplished with not much help or money. We had a good year over all. We got away for a romantic anniversary together in the summer. Just before the boys were going to start public school in the fall, her parents moved back to the area. She had anxiety with this and cut off contact with her parents and brothers for a while. Her Dad called me very upset and I tried to keep the peace until they reconciled. I was doing better with work and made up for lost progress as well as making arrangements to change jobs in the Navy to something more fitting. Since the boys started public school, I planned on leaving for Navy training in my new position after the beginning of the new year when they would be at a more settled place in their routine.

I remember when we went to the Olympic Club for our anniversary and we stayed there for a night away. We drove the long way through the countryside talking about new music that she wanted to share with me and she made notes of it on my phone notepad. We brought our own cooler and picnic that included Session Lagers and chocolate. We checked in to our room and made noisy bohemian love on the edge of the creaky bed in our small European room inches from the door. Then we went to the theater downstairs and watched the late showing of a really interesting Sci-fi movie "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets". We took showers and slept sweetly together. We made love again in the morning before we had a delicious brunch outside on the patio. We took the long way home and drove around on new roads and found our way out of cell phone reception. We figured out the road less traveled to get back to our home. We loved being alone and away together, just one night can make such a difference and mean so much.

I remember going to the Forest Theater to see Tarzan with our boys. That was such a great time. I would love to get our boys into theater and go see them someday. I wanted to keep our dreams and goals together alive and not lose opportunity and fall short by losing our partnership.

I loved going camping in Seabeck. Loading the truck with all our gear and getting away. Archer got sick from the cowboy caviar and I had to clean him and the tent up in the night. I was glad we had each other to be a team in our marriage in that situation as with all the other times. These sorts of things are what escape a person's mind when they are determined to get a divorce.

2018

We had a lot less money than the year before, again buying a house took its toll on finances as did the boys school and after school activities. I stayed very involved taking the boys to appointments and sporting practices. We stopped going to synagogue but tried to practice Judaism at home as much as possible, which I was very supportive of and involved with. She was still depressed and talking about suicide at times. I encouraged her to get help as I always had. Eventually she was diagnosed as Bipolar 2 and manic depressive by a new provider. She started taking new medicine for this and was worried I would want to leave her. I assured her I would never leave her and that I always wanted to work on things with her and help her. I left for training in Mississippi February 8th. It was going to be hard but I thought it might be good to have some time apart from each other to miss one another and reflect on things as well as prepare for times when I would be away at sea. I got in trouble in Mississippi for giving junior personnel a ride and being negligent of people who might be underage and possibly drinking, this became strike three. I never thought this could happen. I became recommend for separation from the Navy shortly after and was stuck in Mississippi for six months instead of six weeks. She was supportive through most of it but seemed to fall into hopelessness. Money was spent by her that we didn't have without discussion. She quietly leased appliances and tires and purchased a vehicle as well as having a secret bank account and email address. I discovered through our insurance company that she wanted to leave our policy for divorce. I didn't know this and she had even told the boys she wanted a divorce before I even knew. I was caught off guard and confused. I kept trying to communicate and reason with her but she didn't want to talk. I refused to give up and wrote emails and a letter but it only seemed to push her away further. By the time I left Mississippi she had filed for divorce and a restraining order against me saying I was unstable and a threat. I couldn't return to my home. My whole life fell apart in just a couple months. I found out she had been talking to other men in the Navy and keeping more secrets. I assumed this was her way of taking control during a difficult situation. I really needed her support during this hard time of transition out of the military. I became homeless, jobless and without my family in a month. I prayed to God that given time things might change between us but it was of no use. Bipolar had consumed whatever was left of my bride and there was no turning back.

I felt that our love was not one to be cast away. Other people might not understand or agree but what we had was truly special. We may have surely needed some time and space to get counseling as well as reconfigure and repair our marriage but I didn't feel like our relationship was irretrievably broken. She was so important to me and I thought she was the love of my life and would always have my heart. I wanted to be her partner in love and life, watching our boys grow up and being there to support each other. Being that she is Bipolar I knew she will need a lot of help and I was more than willing to assist her in making sure she was taking care of herself and not throwing herself into harm's way, ensuring she sticks with a plan we agree to for consistency. I cared about her deeply and had much compassion for her. I didn't believe she was thinking this through or thinking about the future. I really wanted to look at the long and short game with her, neither seemed appealing to me if we progressed but here we are. Things are not going to be easier. She will still have to face her problems and deal with me on a regular basis for the rest of our lives no matter what happens. She can believe her lawyer when they promise she'll get the moon and stars out of this in the end but they only see half of the story. Above all they want our money. It would have been good for her to face me in person and tell me she wanted to divorce and we could have started talking about it with a counselor to figure out how that could even work. Instead she chose to avoid as much responsibility for her actions as possible by doing everything in my absence as if I am not a real person. I had to find out about it from our insurance company and was last to know.

Immediately after I hear the word divorce I looked into her cell usage history and find she has a new military boyfriend that she talks to 20-30 times a day. She felt she owed me no explanation for this and it was none of my business. A mature person would have let me know about this months before and I would have seen it coming but there was no sign until it was seemingly too late. She strayed down a dark path and never turned back.

Her proposed parenting plan was cruel and had no thought put into it. Two hours a week with supervision, no holidays but father's day? She said she’s not trying to keep me from the kids but this is the exact opposite of what she’s saying with the paperwork she filed. She seems very mixed up and still you continues to make rash and sudden choices. Like a completely bogus restraining order against me that contradicts so many facts she has stated herself on record during my Navy retention process. She was so bold as to want to change her identity and even put it in ink on the divorce paperwork as well to a whole new name. That is not the actions of a stable person. She has since changed her mind again on that just as quickly as everything else in her recent life choices. I can't trust that any decisions she is making right now are for the right reasons or that she is of sound mind. I have never seen her so conflicted and confused, grasping at straws and running scared from herself.

Using the legal system so carelessly and going back and forth makes me feel like she is not ready to be making big choices and changes for her and our family. It is very unfair that she can’t consider my feelings on things and what I wish for the boys as well. Very reckless behavior. She can’t anticipate that the day would come where she has to face me and talk to me like an adult. She wants to hide behind the legal system which only leaves much to be unresolved. Ghosting me is not really an option in a marriage of 13 years with children.

Having relationship conversations is too difficult for her at this time and she would rather avoid it and skip to divorce because she thinks that will somehow be easier. I suspect she knows she is making poor choices, possibly out of fear and lust for something new and less painful than the reality of things right now. Our marriage was nowhere close to divorce when I left. She was sad to see me leave and woke with me at 3:30 am to say goodbye, making me coffee and cookies for me to take with.

Our community and accountability seems to be gone due to the continued trend of isolation that she is drawn to. The God fearing loving committed wife I thought I had is gone or trapped inside a terrified shell of herself. She cut me off from her family members and I can't discuss my concerns about her with them either. She only seems to have community with those who are not going to discourage her from these destructive choices.

I understand we have had issues and struggles but we are no worse off than other couples during challenging times. I think that because we loved each other so much it just hurt more when things got hard. I can't accept or believe this is justified or the right choice based on the positive trend we were on before I left. This was the longest break we have ever had from each other and I think she just needed someone to be there more for her, no matter who it was. Time can heal all wounds and I hope that is true for our relationship as co-parents.

She still refuses to tell me about why she wanted a divorce or talk about anything beyond caring for the kids. I have fought the restraining and I can see my boys again but I am still not allowed to my home without her permission.

I have risen from the ashes in just a couple months. I rent a room from a nice couple from our old church and obtained a good paying job while I continue paying the household bills.

This is a really hard time, this difficult spell could have been a tool to better our relationship. I wanted to experience more beautiful memories with her. We had so many more beautiful memories and dreams left to create. This is what marriage looks like to me now as I lower the casket.
This is a timeline of the major events during my 13 year marriage. Amidst the reality, I injected all the lovely memories that refuse to leave my mind.
Steve Page May 2017
Not slow -
But patient,
Like love is patient.
Patient like watching the ark being built
And staying His torrential hand.
Patient like letting His friend Lazurus die
Knowing greater glory was planned.
Patient like explaining for the umpteenth time
How He must suffer at the hands of men.
Patient like watching Judas scheme
Waiting for His preordained end.

Not impatient to come again
Yet not slow to keep His promise,
Simply yearning that all might be saved
That salvation might be accomplished.
2 Peter 3:9
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
They say patience is a virtue
but patience is more than a virtue
it's a state of mind
it's a way of life
it kills the soul
and causes the heart stress and excessive beats
most times patience takes a lot of practice
and lasts for what seems like
F
O
R
E
V
E
R
but the longer it lasts
the harder it becomes
to be patient
you want answers
to your questions
you want the grade
for that paper
you want the date
of happiness to come
you want the girl
or the guy
you want something and the patience to wait for it
kills you!
But when your patience is running thin
and you feel like giving in
just remember that I'm here
being patient too
and even though it's
KILLING ME
I will continue to live in
patience
because some things
are worth being patient for....
Sayer Jan 2014
put your hands on me, nice cold and arrogant
be with me until time declares us ignorant
of the majestic sun's son's daughters
created in a circle of death,
and life
everythinginbetweenyouandI

the "and" between
soothes underneath you
beds cool and warm
sheets ripped up
pillows destroyed

i can get no sleep when i want to
i'm up all night putting myself
into what ideal
you've created

if i understand
can you understand
that i can be patient if you can be my patient
i'll relieve your tension with my medicine
nice and warm

untilthenithoughtitwasjustaline
no decision has a meaning
i can be your patient too
soothe me until I can get rid of my sickness
insanity,
whatever

i've been annihilated but endless critiques
and praises
but they're all in my head
they're all in my head
(just like us)
Kim Essary Mar 2018
Be patient with her son, as she's only known you for a little while.      
  Give her time and your baby girl will feel Comfort when you smile.
  Be patient with her son, if she pulls away from your first hug.
  It won't be long  And she will be the one giving your shirt tale a tug.
  Be patient with her son, as she needs reassured all along.
  For the stranger standing in front of her is  her Daddy  that loves her so much and will always be there to teach her right from wrong.
  Be patient my son

©kimmied1105
My son has a little girl he's never seen she will be 2 in September h3 is daddy she just doesn't know him yet.
Geetha Jayakumar May 2018
There’s the death waiting to pounce over,
Only left is the aftermath of the tides left over.
She lay isolated far away from mankind,
She was the loving and dedicated nurse of a kind.
A deadly virus had spread the blanket over her.
Probably her inner conscience spoke of,
The limited time left with her,
Battling the Nipah virus will be soon over.

She committed herself to the thankless profession.
Had she not nursed the deadly virus affected patient,
Perhaps she would have been alive here today.
Too late, she realized that the same had taken
Over the life of her patient.
She felt saddened yet unknown to her was,
The virus had already infected her blood.

She never knew it would be her turn to bid bye.
Just a day ago she had fever,
Yet ignoring her health she continued her work.
Finally, her health started deteriorating,
So she got admitted in the same hospital.
She found herself in an isolated ward,
Which made her realize she too contracted the same.

Her husband has been just a wall away.
Though she wanted to see him and her little children.
But thinking of their security she paused there for moments.
She knew her fate was holding her hand to death.
Then she scribbled just few words for her beloved at the last!

Only we can pray today is “May her soul Rest In Peace!”

                           All Rights Reserved!

The young dedicated Indian nurse Lini Puthussery from Kerala needed to be applauded, awarded for her selfless service which costed her dear life while treating Nipah virus affected patient. She was attached to Perambara’s Tukul hospital
in Kozhikode, Calicut. We appreciate the young woman’s dedication to her thankless profession.
The Nipah virus infection, spread mainly by fruit bats and has symptoms like breathing trouble, brain swelling, fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation and delirium. A patient can fall into coma within 48 hours. It travels through direct contact with a patient. There is no vaccine for Nipha virus yet, as per World Health Organization.

Courtesy Google!
Peter Balkus Oct 2018
Let me be patient in Love,
like patient is olive tree,
waiting long years
to bear its first fruits,
and much, much longer,
before they are ready to pick.
Glenn McCrary Jun 2014
“Two faces -- both as perfect as mine once was.” ~ Two-Face


[Do just stood there in a state of slight bewilderment.]


DR. NIGHTMARE: Come to my office now!

DO: For what?

DR. NIGHTMARE: I’m not going to ask you again, Do.

DO: Look with all due respect sir I did nothing wrong.

DR. NIGHTMARE: And if you were really as respectful as you claim you would do as I ask.

SPORE: Do just go. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.

[Do opens his mouth and attempts to speak but Spore cuts him off.]

SPORE: I’ll go with you…

DO: Spore you don’t have to do that for me.

SPORE: Well I want to...

DO: But why?

SPORE: Because it is my fault that you are in this situation. The least that I can do is offer my emotional support in your time of need.

[Tears began to well up within Do’s eyes.]

DO: Thank you Spore.

SPORE: No problem Do. You helped me in my time of need when no one else would. I’m just trying to return the favor.

[Do smiled at Spore. Spore returned the smile. Do turned his attention to Dr. Nightmare.]

GUM: We’ll be here when you get back, Do.

SWEAT: Do what you need to do bro.

DO: Thanks guys. Okay Dr. Nightmare. Let’s go.

[Do & Spore follow Do from the lunch yard back into the asylum. Five minutes pass before they reach Dr. Nightmare’s office. Dr. Nightmare escorts Do & Spore into his office. Anaïs was standing in the corner by Dr. Nightmare’s desk. She was wearing a jet black dress with a large red plus symbol on the front of it to symbolize her expertise of her chosen field. She waved at Do. Do waved back. She was also wearing bright red high heels. Dr. Skitz and Dr. Crocker were also present on the opposite of Dr. Nightmare’s desk. Dr. Nightmare lights a cigarette, takes a hit, inhales the smoke and begins speaking.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: Please have a seat both of you.

[Do and Spore proceeded to have a seat in the chairs behind them.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: Do you know why I invited you into my office?

DO: I have some idea. Could you please explain a bit further?

[Spore giggled. Do lightly elbows Spore in her arm.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: But of course Mr. Nino. I would never want my patients to have to constantly wonder about life’s trials.

[Dr. Nightmare takes another hit of his cigarette and blows the smoke in Do and Spore’s direction.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: You are here today because we have been made aware of a couple of incidents that you have been involved in. These particular incidents go against the rules and overall moral conduct code of Black Wick Asylum.

DO: Oh, well please excuse my originality.

[Spore, Anaïs, Dr. Crocker and Dr. Skitz begin to chuckle together.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: Are you trying to be funny?

DO: Well if you refer to the idea or moreso the simple ability to act stupid then yes.

DR. NIGHTMARE: This is exactly why you are in here right now.

DO: Yeah, for an incident of which I am technically morally innocent. It is the concept that exists within your brains that causes the majority of society to view such an act from more of a bigoted perspective. Now put the ******* cigarette down and get to the point. You have five minutes.

SPORE: Do what the he—

[Do places his finger to Spore’s lips to silence her.]

DO: I know what I’m doing.

[Do removes his finger from Spore’s lips.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: Very well then, Do.

[Dr. Nightmare takes one last hit of his cigarette before putting it out upon his ashtray. He picks up a small remote from his desk, moves his office chair around and points the remote towards a medium sized camera sitting on the wall directly across from where Dr. Crocker and Dr. Skitz were standing.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: Please turn the lights off, Anaïs.

NURSE YUCKI: Yes, Dr. Nightmare.

[Anaïs turns the lights off. Dr. Nightmare pushes play. The video begins. Dr. Nightmare decides to fast forward the video then resumes playing at the part where WiFi was about to hit Spore. Do then blocked WiFi’s punch. They briefly argued then WiFi took another swing at Spore. Do once again blocked WiFi’s punch and began ramming his elbow directly into WiFi’s nose instantly breaking it. Do continued hitting WiFi before finally slamming his rib cage directly on his knee. Dr. Nightmare paused the video.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: When exactly were you planning to tell me this Do?

DO: I wasn’t sir. Why should it be my job to inform you of such a situation as chaotic as this? Doesn’t this place have cameras?

DR. NIGHTMARE: This is an asylum, Do. Of course we have cameras. Unfortunately the day that you and WiFi got into that fight my cameras were malfunctioning due to a glitch in the system. Some of my cameras were working just fine that day. The other cameras weren’t working at all. A lot of the malfunctioning cameras had nothing but static screens on them particularly the camera in the cafeteria.

DO: So then how did you get footage of us fighting?

DR. NIGHTMARE: I hired several assistants to monitor and record any and all activity that goes on in the rooms that contained the malfunctioning cameras. There was somebody in there monitoring you the entire time and you didn’t even know it.

DO: But who was it?

DR. NIGHTMARE: That’s not important, Do. As the head of this institution I must do what I have to do to keep up with all daily activities of this institution. Frankly, if any such activity does not concern or affect you then what business is it of yours?

DO: How much time do you have?

DR. NIGHTMARE: Not enough time in the world.

DO: So then let’s move on.

DR. NIGHTMARE: Right. The next thing I wish to discuss with you are the results of your four dimensional emotion detector tests.

DO: Well this should be interesting.

DR. NIGHTMARE: Yeah, don’t hold your breath kid. Since Dr. Crocker was in charge of your happiness, sadness and fear tests you will be talking to him first. Carry on Dr. Crocker.]

DR. CROCKER: Thank you, Dr. Nightmare. How are you doing today Do?

DO: I’m doing just fine sir. Thank you for asking. How are you?

DR. CROCKER: Splendid sir. Alright Do let’s discuss your test results.

DO: I’m listening.

DR. CROCKER: Okay one minor detail that we must note is that each test is rated by any number from one through five with five being the highest and one being the lowest. You scored a five on both your happiness and sadness tests.

DO: What memory did I envision for the sadness test again?

DR. CROCKER: From what I’m reading it says that you envisioned the memory of when your ex-girlfriend Oku broke up with you.

DO: Yeah, that was a pretty sad memory. I spent every night that September crying myself to sleep every night. It hurt so bad.

DR. CROCKER: I understand.  Now the memory you chose for your fear test consisted of a series of scenarios in which you were abandoned. The most effective memory of those scenarios was of a mysterious woman abandoning you. Would you care to explain that?

DO: I don’t wanna remember… Even though I clearly still and always will remember, I choose to avoid anything that causes me to reminisce about it.

DR. CROCKER: Understood. Well I thought you’d like to know that you scored a five on your fear test too. You have a knack for selecting the deepest memories of your psyche.

DO: That is what you wanted is it not?

DR. CROCKER: Nothing more and nothing less.

DO: Is there anything else I need to know regarding these test results?

DR. CROCKER: Your diagnosis, yes. Judging by how high you scored on these tests I am afraid that I have to diagnose you with bipolar and borderline personality disorder.

DO: That explains all those manic episodes of extreme euphoria and depression.

DR. CROCKER: Perhaps, yes. I’ll be turning you over to Dr. Skitz for the rest of your test results.

DR. SKITZ: Thank you, Dr. Crocker. Okay Do I’m gonna just cut corners and get to the ******* point with your results.

DO: Thank you, Dr. Skitz.

DR. SKITZ: No problem, Do. We all have precious and valuable time. The last thing we should want to do is waste it.

DO: That is a very good point doctor.

DR. SKITZ: So with that being said I am pleased to inform you that you scored a five on your anger test but, you scored a three on both your anxiety and depression tests.

DO: Alright go ahead. Lay it on me.

DR. SKITZ: Do, you have schizophrenia.

DO: So bipolar and schizophrenia huh? Sounds interesting.

DR. SKITZ: This isn’t a game Do. This is your health we are discussing.

DO: Yes, I know. I was being sarcastic.

DR. SKITZ: Anyways that concludes your diagnosis. I’ll turn you back over to Dr. Nightmare now.

DR. NIGHTMARE: Thank you gentlemen.

DR. CROCKER & DR. SKITZ: You’re welcome, sir.

DR. NIGHTMARE: So what did you think of your test results, Do?

DO: I think they were slightly shocking though not surprising.

DR. NIGHTMARE: I have to honestly say that I agree with you on that one. Anyways with all nonsense aside I’ve decided to make a deal with you.

DO: And what is this deal that you speak of, sir?

DR. NIGHTMARE: Well since you are our newest patient I’ll let you off with a warning. Should you happen to break these rules again you will be paying some serious consequences. You are dismissed.

DO & SPORE: Thank you sir.

[Do and Spore get up and proceed to exit Dr. Nightmare’s office.]

SPORE: So who do you think was recording us in the cafeteria today, Do?

DO: Your guess is as good as mine Spore. Had I known who it was I wouldn’t have been questioning Dr. Nightmare about it in the first place.

SPORE: Good point. By the way Do don’t worry about those tests. It is something that every patient has to go through before being officially considered for enrollment here. Also you’re fine the way you are in my opinion.

DO: Thank you, Spore.

SPORE: So do you have a room mate? More importantly do you have a room?

DO: No I do not.

SPORE: You can room with us. There are four beds in our room with two beds in each room. We have room for one more mate.

DO: Okay. Thank you, Spore.

SPORE: No problem, Do.

DO: So how do we get to our room?

SPORE: Well, this asylum is seven stories high. Our room is on the sixth floor. We stay in room 666. There is an elevator straight down the hall on your first left.

DO: Alright then let’s go.

[Do and Spore continue down the hall arriving at the elevators in less than a minute. Spore presses the button as she waits for the elevator to arrive. The elevator finally arrives. Its doors open wide inviting Do and Spore in. Do and Spore walk in as the doors close behind them.]


9 HOURS LATER….

[ A man dressed in a long, red hoodie walks up the stairs leading to Black Wick’s infirmary. He pushes the wooden oak double doors open. The entire infirmary was dark except for the moonlight that was shining throughout. He approaches one of the patients in the infirmary. The patient he had selected happened to be a young man. He had long, wavy, red hair and pearly, white skin. The man began aggressively shaking the patient.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: Wake up, WiFi!!!!! WAKE UP NOW!!!!!!!!

[WiFi began mumbling in his sleep.]

WIFI: Can’t I just go on the roller coaster one more time…? Please…?

[WiFi slowly drifted back into a deep sleep. Dr. Nightmare grabbed a wooden bucket from the corner of WiFi’s night stand. He walked over to the sink and filled the bucket with cold water. Dr. Nightmare then walks over to WiFi’s bedside and pours the water all over him. WiFi was startled awake.]

WIFI: OKAY! OKAY! I’M AWAKE! DON’T HURT ME!!!

[WiFi looks up only to see a giant pair of red eyes and attempts to scream. Dr. Nightmare quickly takes his hand and covers Wifi’s mouth.]

DR. NIGHTMARE: Quiet fool! It’s me!

[WiFi stops screaming which was Dr. Nightmare’s cue to remove his hand from his mouth.]

WIFI: Dr. Nightmare?

DR. NIGHTMARE: Yes.

WIFI: What are you doing here?

DR. NIGHTMARE: I have come to ask a favor of you.

WIFI: What do you need?

DR. NIGHTMARE: I need you to stalk Do and his friends.

WIFI: What’s in it for me?

DR. NIGHTMARE: You get to stalk your ex-girlfriend.

[WiFi begins to bare a wickedly evil grin.]

WIFI: When do we start?
eliza bonnet Nov 2014
love is patient
love is kind
love is slowly
losing your mind

everything you are running away from
is in your head
afraid that one day you will wake up
and realize that the best part of you is gone instead

its going badly
its a terrible disaster
my world is spinning
days go by faster

love is patient
love is kind
love is slowly
losing your mind

don't spend your life
searching for a home
make the bones in your body
your own

time doesn't heal
anything
it just lets us cope
with pain

love is patient
love is kind
love is slowly
losing your mind
Gaffer Jan 2016
Another year, another resolution
Dry out January
That was a tough day
Change of job, new challenge
The scalpel cut deeply through the chest cavity
Maybe the year to find love, maybe
So many choices, so many
The scalpel cut deep, too late
The patient was lost
A long break
Different country, new start
The drink would help the choice
So steady as the bottle emptied
The scalpel cut deep, advanced signs of liver cirrhosis
The surgeon assisting was in awe at the dexterity of the liver being removed
The signs were staring back at him
The warning stark
He pondered it over a bottle of chivas
The operation would last ten hours
The hospital was lucky to have such a prestigious surgeon
The scalpel cut deep
Four hours in, the sweating and trembling began
The vessels were clamped off
The bathroom break soothed as the whisky hit home
The operation continued
The  drink breaks also
Finally finished he excused himself and left
The trip home left him physically shaking
The whisky hit home
Calm now, he went through the operation in his head
The patient was responding, the team were pleased
Something was gnawing away at him
He just couldn’t pinpoint what it was
The whisky had done its job
He was calm
It had been a long day
The pager sounding brought him round
The nagging doubt as he phoned the hospital
The patient wasn’t responding
The patient, the patient, always the patient
The clamps, he couldn’t remember
Did he remove them
He started to shake
The whisky calmed him
The pager sounded
The bottle stared back at him
Time for a change
A new challenge
A long break
The decision was made
He would drink to that.
Jason and the Argonuts

I heard about it from a coworker who thought it was a joke. Had seen it on an internet message board. Found it hilarious. I don’t. I’m certain I know what’s really going on. What’s hiding in plain site. And I want to see it for myself. Seems that most people who’ve come across it just write it off as kids messing around. After all, who would take this sort of thing seriously? If somebody were to do so, goodness knows there might be a pretty big mess.
Follow the directions I found online to this place called Joe’s Pizzeria. Find the brick oven. Press a secret button. The oven changes form. There's a mahogany door. I descend a stairwell, which opens into a small basement room. There are a number of chairs arranged in a circle. Four of them are occupied.
Without making it too obvious, I try to determine the safest place to sit. Across from some hipster with a pencil-thin mustache, I see a pair of identical, androgynous twins. Both wear identical jogging suits. A few chairs to the twins’ right sits a Native American looking fellow in full headdress. He stares blankly at the wall, making a slow chopping motion with his right hand. I take a seat closer to mister moustache.
Well, this is it. There's nothing to do now but wait.
A few minutes pass in almost complete silence, save for some giggling on the part the twins. Suddenly, the basement door swings open. In walks a portly redheaded man, wearing a neon yellow shirt and green cargo pants. He smiles and waves to everyone, then sits down next to me. I try to ignore the stench of what I believe is asparagus.
“Well, I see we have a new face here tonight!” He exclaims; “Always happy to see a new face!”
He looks at me and I realize it’s time to do what I came to do.
I stand.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
“Hello, my name is Dan, and I’m a serial killer.”  
“Hello, Dan,” the group responds in a collective droning voice, resemblant of worshipers at Catholic mass.
“Yes, hello to you, Dan!” the man in the yellow shirt huffs out, getting to his feet. “It’s splendid that you are able to join us. I’m the group leader, Jason. Welcome to Serial Killers Anonymous!”
I simply stare at him. I have no idea what to say.
“Okay, first and foremost, I want you to know that even though you’re new, I trust you like I would any of our more established members. Call me crazy, but I think we’re all in this together! So, it should go without saying that what happens in this basement stays in this basement. All members are prohibited from discussing group with outsiders, except when promoting the idea that it’s only an internet gag. Also, to help newcomers feel more comfortable, I like to share my personal history with them right off the bat, along with how it relates to the founding of this group. Once I’ve finished, one of our older members, I suppose it will be Mark, will tell the story of how he came to join us. And after that, you’ll get a chance to speak, if you choose to do so.
“Now, as should be obvious, I am a recovering serial killer. The news media referred to me as the Coat Hanger Killer. I was credited by our local Olympia County police with the murders of twenty prostitutes. In reality, though, there were a half dozen more. And there’s no telling how many more women I would have killed if I had not confronted just what it was that drove me to commit such atrocities and dealt with it.”
I return to my seat and it hits me...this man is the Coat Hanger Killer? The Coat Hanger Killer, also known as Hanger-Man to true crime aficionados, was a hero of mine when I was younger. He got the name because he was known for inserting straightened coat hangers into his victims’ vaginas. After the Coat Hanger Killings inexplicably stopped, authorities presumed Hanger-Man to be either dead or incarcerated for other crimes. There’s no way he could be this ginger with the loud shirt.
“I was born out of wedlock to a teenage mother,” he continues. “Raised in a strict Christian household. As a naturally rebellious person, my mother resented her puritanical upbringing and began engaging in promiscuous behavior at an obscenely young age. She thought it would be liberating, but her sleeping around led to an unwanted pregnancy It is not even clear who the father – my father – might have been.
“Well, my mother wanted to get an abortion. And knowing how desperate she must have felt, I cannot blame her. But when she went to a clinic, she learned that legally speaking, minors are not allowed to decide such things on their own, which lead to my being born. Mother was less than thrilled about this. In retaliation, she became more promiscuous than ever. And it did not take long for her to get pregnant again. However, this time, she decided to take matters into her own hands –’’
The narrative is interrupted when one of the twins suddenly blurts out,“With a coat hanger!” This elicits some chuckling from the other, which dissipates upon a severe look from Hanger-Man. He continues speaking.
“Yes, that's right. She went into the bathroom and after what must have been a grisly spectacle, my mother was no more. And there’s no denying just how much this damaged me. I spent a good deal of my childhood crying alone in my room, thinking about my mother’s licentious behavior. Thinking about her death. It absolutely tore my mind to pieces! To pieces! And eventually, all my obsessing over promiscuity and coat hanger abortions led me to become the Coat Hanger Killer.”
All the true crime books I’ve read dealing with the Coat Hanger Killings suggested that the killer did not hold himself in high esteem, which accounted for his tendency to violate his victims with an object so lacking in circumference. It's amusing how wrong they seemingly were...unless there’s some oedipal thing going on here, which wouldn’t surprise me.
“I was utterly consumed by my desires.” he continues. “I obsessively thought of new ways to ****** prostitutes and not get caught. Yes, the sad truth is that my entire life revolved around serial killing for a number of years.”
He stops talking and stares up at the ceiling, letting out a deep breath, apparently orchestrating some sort of dramatic pause.
“When I finally realized that serial killing had taken over my life, I knew I had to change. And I did. And you can change, too!”
At that, he looks at me with pleading puppy dog eyes. This man, who has taken at least a score of human lives, is now using the cutesy approach in an attempt to establish a connection with me.
“Do you want to change?”
“Yes,” I lie.
“Then let’s get to it! Let the healing begin!”
And it begins.

The moustached man rises from his seat.
“Yeah, I’m Mark You all know me, except for the new guy. I’m Mark and I’m a serial killer.”
I mouth along as the group drones its greeting.
“I don’t wanna be here, but I don’t have a choice. If I don’t go to these meetings, my wife says she's gona leave me. See, this one night, I had just finished up with something I saw in a Ranch Burger parking lot. Wound up getting caught by my wife, stuffing it under our bed! I like keeping my finds under there after I’m done. It helps me get my rocks off when I’m nailing the old lady. Trouble is, before you know it, the body starts to stink. Then you gotta toss it. Good thing my wife has asnomia! Anyway, I almost had the whole thing hidden, when she comes in the bedroom. I didn’t even realize she was in the house! See, I was having some trouble getting the head underneath the bed frame, 'cause this one, lemme tell you, this one had a huge ******’ head. And my wife, she starts screaming and ****. Says something like, 'Mark, tell me you aren’t shoving a corpse under our bed! Please, tell me you aren’t!’ So, I told her I wasn’t.”
Mark’s witticism leads to raucous laughter from the twins, again ended with a severe look from Hanger Man. I stifle a yawn. The Indian remains impassive. Our orator continues with his narrative.
“I’m glad you guys find it funny, because my wife sure as **** didn’t. She fell to her knees and started crying. I swear, if there’s one thing in the world I can’t stand, it’s to see that woman cry. Breaks my heart. Except all of a sudden, she stops crying and starts screaming about how she knows what I’ve done and wants a divorce! So, I go up to her, put my arm around her shoulder, and tell her how sorry I am. Then I promise I’ll never shove another body under the bed. She asks me if I mean it and I say yes, figuring that’ll be the end of it. But then she starts begging me to swear that I won’t even score anything anymore. That I’ll quit. Quit for good!
"Well, I’d do anything to make my wife happy, right? So, I kiss her on the forehead and tell her nothing bad like that is ever going to happen again.
“But I’ll be ****** if the very next day I didn’t start getting that old itchy feeling as soon as I woke up. It was so strong I just couldn’t ignore it! Knew I was gonna have to score something soon as I got the chance. Of course, being so desperate, I wound up snagging this ***** that was all fat and gross at some supermarket. I did my business, then drove home and decided to leave the body in the garage, because I thought my wife never went in there. But go figure, she just had to pick that night to go ******’ exploring! Winds up seeing me ***** ******’ the ugliest, grossest, fattest score I ever made in my life. It was embarrassing, you know? Especially with how flat-chested my wife is.
“Anyway, to my mind, I had sort of kept my promise. I mean, I wasn’t putting anything under the bed, was I? But she didn’t see things like that. Just ran off in tears. Went right upstairs and locks herself in the bathroom. I eventually talk her out, but get the silent treatment for a couple days. Eventually, when she’s finally willing to talk, she tells me about this group. Says I go or else she’ll pack her **** and leave.”
“Excuse me, Mark,” Hanger-Man interjects, “but you are misrepresenting the character of your marriage! At last week's meeting, while you were occupied in the bathroom, your visiting wife revealed very much indeed about how you really treat her!”
At that, one of the twins decides to speak at length.
“Hey! Our dear leader isn’t going to let you get away with lying about your spouse, you know. Why, I bet he likes your wife so much, he wants to stick a coat hanger up her ****. After all, that’s the only way of showing affection he really knows.”
Both twins again erupt in laughter, this time so strongly that they fall out of their chairs. Hanger-Man leaps to his feet and begins chastising them for their lack of respect, which only seems to cause them to laugh even harder. Sensing failure, he throws up his hands in frustration and apologizes to me for not getting to my story, then announces that the meeting is to end early due to Nat and Richard's unruly behavior.
I wonder which one is which, but my interest fades. I head to the exit. Walking past Mark, I hear him talking to himself. Think I catch him say something about his “***** wife leaving,” before he sits down and buries his face in his hands. It occurs to me that a group of serial killers meeting in the secret basement of a pizzeria is strange enough without one of them bringing along his wife.
Open the door and head up the stairs. A man with flour on his hands, who was not here when I arrived, watches me coming out from behind the brick oven. I’m sure I see him wink as I leave.

Five minutes pass. I am standing in front of Joe’s, having decided to take a taxi home rather than walk. I'm trying not to stare at the Indian, who's situated next to a woman who'd been waiting outside in a **** nurse costume. He rests on his haunches, slowly rocking back and forth, still steadily chopping away at nothing. Everyone else from group has departed, the twins notably in a chauffeured limousine, whose driver bore a striking resemblance to Gene Wilder.
I feel uncomfortable. Perhaps I should try to make conversation.
“I’m pretty tired. Hope a cab comes soon.”
A grin appears on the strange man's face, which seems to stretch all the way back to his ears. The tomahawking stops. I wonder what would happen if I were to reintroduce myself.
“My name is Dan, as I said inside, but I think I should make a more formal introduction. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve never met a Native American before.”
“Chief Killing ******, round eye. Pleasure is all mine. And the reason you haven't met any of us is because there are not that many of us.”
A taxi mercifully appears.
“Yes, you’re right. See you next time, Chief.”

Romance

All alone in my apartment. I can find no reason not to give in to myself.
Down the stairs. Make my way through the vestibule and onto the street. Experience love at first sight with the anorexic looking woman standing on the corner of Seton Place and Ocean Parkway, waiting for the R-13 bus.  Approaching her, I get aroused. Ask for the time. She turns to speak with me. I pretend to examine the bus schedule. I have not looked a woman in the eyes since I began ******* at the age of eleven.
She tells me the time and I thank her, then quickly turn away so she will not notice my arousal. Our brief conversation replays itself in my mind until the bus comes.
We board and I sit as far away from her as possible, trying to position myself in such a way that my ******* will remain unseen. I wonder what stop she’ll get off at. I’ll get off there, too.

Our stop happens to be 2nd Street, between Peters Avenue and Chambers. My ******* has subsided. I am able to rise from my seat without concern. She exits from the front and I from the back.
Hide behind a minivan. Peer around it and see her enter a nearby apartment complex. She lives right here. As she fumbles around in her handbag looking for the right key, somebody wearing a U.S. Navy “Fear the Goat” baseball cap storms out of the building, slamming into her. She loses her balance and falls. The man continues on his way. He reaches the corner and turns out of view. She stands and regains her bearings, giving me time to ready the handkerchief and chloroform that I always keep with me.
Soak the handkerchief in chloroform.
Look to the left. To the right. Nobody is coming. Dash out from behind the minivan and head for my patient, who is just now opening the door.
Before clasping the rag over her mouth, I realize I have not planned our session very well. Where will I take her? Will we be seen? It doesn’t matter. I’ll think of something if the need arises.
After a brief struggle, my patient slumps over, dropping her keys. I bend over to get them, trying to cop a feel on the way back up. Enter the building and head for the nearest apartment door. Suspect it will be hers.
I keep her arm over my shoulder. Hold her by the waist, keeping her semi-*****. The feeling of having her limp by my side I can barely describe.
Now we’re almost there.
Almost –
I feel the rudiments of an ******* forming as I lock the door behind us. Home sweet home.

We have been in her bedroom for long enough to prepare for our session. I gaze at my patient, supine and unmoving. Seeing such perfection makes me lose control. Open my zipper, reliving each moment of tying her wrists to her bedposts. How I bound her with old, unwashed *******. ******* I found balled up, forgotten under her dresser, just waiting to be sniffed. I start jerking myself off. And this, I believe, means our session is ready to begin.
"Well, to start things off, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself? Just whatever comes to mind."
Silence.
“How about your your name?”
Silence.
“What do you hope to get out of therapy?”
Silence.
“Where do you tend to purchase your feminine hygiene products?”
Silence.
“Do you generally get along well with your family?”
Silence.
“What is your favorite color?”
Silence.
"What’s your favorite word?"
Silence.
“Are you perhaps feeling a bit uncomfortable at the moment?”
Silence.
“Do you find me attractive?”
Silence.
“Assuming you no longer do, at what age did you stop believing in the tooth fairy?”
Silence.
“Can you name a word that begins with the letter ‘s’?”
Silence.
Stop mid-stroke. My patient has not yet moved a muscle, made a sound, nor otherwise offered any response. Perhaps it’s not surprising that she would show so little trust in her psychotherapist.
"If you are going to be this uncommunicative, there is no reason for our session to continue. Good riddance to whatever is lurking around in your id; I see that I have no choice but to terminate our relationship."
Shove my ***** back into my pants. Hands won’t stop shaking. Stumble out of the bedroom. Out of the apartment. Onto a quiet, empty street. Still shaking. Head for the bus station, but can’t make it halfway there before feeling on the verge of collapse. Make a detour into an alleyway. Fall to my knees. *****. Curl up on my side and my mind slips away...

Going Under

Apparently, time passes. I find myself standing in front of my place of employment, the Pointer Funeral Parlor. Grasping the doorknob with my handkerchief, as I can't stand to touch it with my bare hand, I open the door. Head in. Immediately see the old man, Mr. Pointer, the owner. He approaches me. As I put my handkerchief away, he shakes a newspaper in my face.
“Singer!” You know the news about that ****** downtown?”
“The ******..?”
“Look at this paper!”
He slaps the newspaper into my chest.
“Somebody smothered a woman to death with a rag soaked in chloroform. Used so much that her heart crapped out. They found traces of it in her nose and throat. Seems she died pretty quickly.
“But guess what? She came from a loaded family and we’ve got her! Sam’s downstairs with the body right now. Probably almost done.”
“I am aware of what happened, Mr. Pointer. I knew the girl. She lived just a short bus ride from my apartment. May I go downstairs? I’d like to pay my respects.”
The old man eyes me suspiciously.
“That’s what funerals are for. I pay you to keep this place tidy, not ogle the clients.”
“I will have to sterilize the embalming room when Sam finishes, anyway.”
The old man gestures around the room, “What about all the garbage here that needs to be cleaned up? I can’t have my place of business looking like an embarrassment.”
“Shouldn’t take longer than a moment, Mr. Pointer.”
“Make sure everything is immaculate! I don’t need a custodian who is unwilling to do his work. I know what you're up to. Did you think that I’d believe your story about knowing the client?”
“She was…something of a casual acquaintance. I did not know her very well. She was not in the habit of opening up. A quiet sort of person, really.”
“Well then your grief shouldn't hinder you in performing your duties here as my employee! I swear, if not for the fact that there just aren't many people lining up for jobs cleaning funeral parlors, I’d have fired you years ago. Now get to work. You can do the downstairs later.”
              Mr. Pointer scowls at me and takes his leave. When he is out of sight, I make my way to the basement.

                “Dan Singer! You little snake in the grass, what are you doing down here? Don’t you have work to do upstairs?”
“Your grandfather said I could take a break and see you.”
“Ha! I’m sure he did. “
Samantha rushes in my direction. She smells strongly of formaldehyde. I pretend to find the odor unpleasant, so as to be able to look around the embalming room as she approaches me.
“I’m so happy you’re here. I could use a little break, myself.”
My eyes settle on the body of my former patient, which rests on a table on the far side of the room. Everything else seems very far away.
“…I don’t know why I ever got into the profession of ******* around with dead bodies. Stupid family business. It’s gross. Well, I do tend to enjoy the macabre. But the way you Jews handle things is far better. Just put the corpse in the ground. Be done with it. I know you haven’t been religious since you left your family, but…”
Our session seems as if it had taken place a lifetime ago. It's almost as if it couldn't have been real at all.
“…And the fact that I’m stuck working for my grandfather is just one more pain in the ***, you know? He really is one stereotypical grumpy old man. Hey, Dan? Hello! Earth to Dan!”
“Oh, sorry about that. I’m a little bit distracted. I was a friend of that woman over there.”
Samantha’s voice takes on an almost annoyed quality.
“You were? I’m so sorry. A close friend?”
“No. More like casual acquaintances, really. I just find it strange that she'd wind up here.”
“Pretty ****** up, isn’t it? So many young women disappearing, or plain turning up dead these days. It had me on edge for a while. Remember a few months back when that lady disappeared from the Ranch Burger? I eat there all the time! Couldn’t believe it. Thank goodness I read about that goof serial killer group. Helped me laugh about the whole thing.”
“I’m sure whoever thought it up must be a real character.”
“Oh! You should totally check out the site it was on, if you haven’t. Didn’t I send you an email with the link? I forget the name offhand. With the Slinkee logo. It has all sorts of weird ****. There was a great joke on there yesterday. Something like, ‘Did you hear about the guy who liked to play Russian roulette while *******? He really shot his load!’ Ha!”
I force a smile.
“Samantha, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have a great sense of humor.”
She seems very pleased and smiles back at me, drawing a bit closer.
“Uh, Sam. What are you doing?”
“Nothing.”
Closer.
“Uh, Sam?”
“Huh?“
I turn toward my former patient, looking for help. She is in no position to offer any. “Dan, are you all right? You don’t need to be so shy when I’m around. We’ve known each other for years. I know that you're upset about your friend. You can talk to me about it, if you want.”
“I'm sorry, but I don't.”
Samantha frowns.
“Well, if you do, you know where to find me. Anyway, I’m going to take a trip to the  restroom upstairs, then speak with my grandfather. Maybe you can say goodbye to your friend while I’m gone.”
“Oh, yes. It was nice chatting with you, Sam.”
“Yeah, you too.”
Samantha fusses with her hair a bit and heads to the stairs.
Up the stairs.
The basement door closes.
Now.
Rush across the room. Within seconds, aroused and exposed, I empty myself over the face of my object of affection. Fumble about in my pocket for the handkerchief. Clean her nose and mouth. Run to the stairs. Out the basement. Out the building. This is the last time I will ever pass through that door. I do not even think of looking back.

The Golden Fleece

It's that day again. On my way to group. I have not returned to the Pointer Funeral Parlor since reuniting with my patient. Samantha has called me several times and left messages inquiring as to my whereabouts. Mr. Pointer has called once and informed me that should I not return to work, I can consider myself fired. He seems to not have considered the possibility that I might have quit.
Approaching Joe’s Pizzeria, I see the twins. They are engaged in what appears to be a lively conversation.
“You see, ****, here’s what it is. I fear death just slightly more than I hate life. That’s what keeps me from offing myself.”
“We all appreciate that you're hanging in there.”
“Oh, *******. I’m glad you can find satisfaction being a nabob trust fund baby, but I’ve never given enough of a ****.”
“I employ my position in a number of ways that enhance our fine city’s cultural standing.”
“What? You mean like giving money to museums and the opera? You think anybody cares that you’re a patron of the farts? Opera only exists so that fat Italian guys can get laid.”
“*******.”
The twins stare at one another for a bit.
“You know, I appreciate the arts. Really, I do. I once stuck my **** in a copy of Hamlet.”
“Did you?”
“Yes. Your copy, in fact.”
“Disgusting.”
“Then I stuck it in a copy of Othello. After that, Hamlet just wouldn’t do it for me anymore.”
Both twins are overcome with fits of laughter. After the better part of a minute, it subsides.
“Ah, Dan. Good evening to you.”
“Hello, Dan!”
“Hello.”
“Off anyone recently?”
“Oh, don’t put it so boorishly.”
“No.”
“Oh really?”
“Even my sibling reads the Times.”
“There was a great story recently.”
“A crime story.”
“A ******.”
“A woman was found dead in her apartment. ******* all *****-like to her bedposts with her underwear. Nothing was taken and the woman hadn’t been sexually assaulted. She hadn't even been undressed. She'd simply been given a fatal dose of chloroform.”
“How strange so much information would be given in the paper.”
“It is curious, indeed, ****. But this is a strange world and these are strange times. And I’m willing to bet that our friend over here has been contributing to the strangeness of things. I mean, this chloroform killing was quite obviously not done by us.”
“We prefer little boys.”
“No. You prefer little boys. I also like little girls. And I have to endure as best I can our monotonous and boring escapades. Ours, as you know, is an associated effort.”
“Little girls irritate me.”
“Well wouldn’t you want to ******* **** them, then? Ugh. Brother. Anyway, we know we didn’t do this last ******.“
“And it certainly wasn't Chief Killing ******. He’d have made a far bigger spectacle of the thing.”
“So, since Jay’s no longer active and leaving bodies behind isn't Mark’s style, that leaves you.”
“It might have been somebody from outside of group,” I suggest.
A half smile spreads across one of the twins' faces.
“What! Are you denying it? Why the **** would you attend a serial killer support group if you aren’t going to dish out all the greusome details of your ***** deeds?”
“Some things are best left private,” I respond.
“Yeah, like a *****’s privates?”
One of them chuckles quietly.
“Hang on, are you intimating that our friend was unable to perform sexually?”
“I think he was limp as the left side of a stroke victim.”
“Oh, was that the case, Dan? Were you unable to attain arousal?”
“I do not want to talk about this.”
“Oh, of course you don’t. I wouldn’t.”
“Me either.”
“Well then, about what would you like to talk? We do so love making friendly chit chat, you know.”
“Nothing. There's no time. Group is about to start.”
“Oh, he's right. We should get heading in. I bet Mark has some great stories about his **** of a wife for us this week.”
“I am certain that he does.”
Wondering why I even came back for another meeting and strongly wishing that I were not in the twins' company, I enter the pizzeria. They follow closely behind. We make our way to the basement.
Everyone from last week's meeting is present, along with an excited seeming man. He wears a grey fedora and grey trench coat, under which he appears not to be wearing any pants.
“Welcome, welcome!” Hanger-Man exclaims in greeting. “We've all been waiting for you, but me especially. I must make a very important announcement! We will not be having regular group. Sadly, this means that Dan will not be able to tell us his story. Sorry, Dan. Still, everybody please be seated, so that we may begin.”
Everyone takes a seat.
“It is so wonderful to have the whole lot of you here. The twins. Mark. The Chief. Dan. What a splendid group! Truly, just the sort of people I think I need to begin the first stages of a wonderful project on which I have been working with my very good friend Marvin. Say hello, Marvin.”
“Hellooo, Marvin!” exclaims the guy in the trench coat, waving his arms above his head.
“Really enthusiastic guy, isn't he?” sneers Mark.
“I find his enthusiasm infectious!” retorts Hanger-Man. “And I am certain that you all will as well, once you hear a little bit about what he and I have been planning. You see,  I have always seen our meetings as potentially being much more than just a support group for individuals sharing our particular affliction.
“So much more! You guys don't even know the half of it!” Marvin exitedly chimes in.
“That's exactly right!” exclaims Hanger-Man, giving a thumbs up. “For you see, given my personal history, I knew I could help others overcome their murderous desires. After all, I was able to overcome my own. However, I realized that beyond simply assisting people in learning to control themselves, it would be better to also focus their energies in a new direction. Yes, to focus their energies in a new, profitable direction! For what I envisioned would function not merely as a support group, but as the core of what can only be called a great exercise in entrepreneurship! Isn't that right, Marvin?”
“Yep. Jason used to talk to me all the time about how he had these wonderful ideas, but lacked the people he needed to put them into action.”
“Excuse me!” interrupts one of the twins. “But just who's this Marvin guy, anyway?”
“I was wondering the same thing, myself,” adds the other.
Hanger-Man slaps the palm of his hand to his forehead.
“Ack! I suppose I should have made a proper introduction, what with the sensitive nature of our dealings here. Well, you see, Marvin is an old friend of mine. We grew up together. The two of us lost touch as teenagers, but rekindled our relationship a few years ago, after bumping into one another at an upscale cat house in Las Vegas.”
“I was there to **** a ******,” explains Marvin. “I'd never ****** a ******. Always wanted to, but never had the chance.”
He looks around the room as if hoping for a sign that someone else might share this particular interest. Not finding one, Marvin sighs.
“I'd seen a TV show where a guy went to Vegas and was able to **** a ******. It's how I got the idea.”
“Hey, whatever floats your boat, Marv!” shouts one of twins, barely able to refrain from laughing.
“All right, all right,” says Hanger-Man. “As I was trying to explain, Marvin and I wound up reconnecting after many years of not having seen one another. It took no time at all for us to pick up our friendship right where we had left off. And even though I was a bit wary of doing so, I found myself admitting to him that I, his old friend Jason, was the notorious Coat Hanger Killer.”
Marvin solemnly nods his head.
“It was a bit of a shock.”
“I know it was, Marv, but you took it in stride.”
“Excuse me!” again interrupts a twin. “But why the **** isn't this guy wearing any pants?”
Marvin, apparently embarrassed by this remark, attempts to adjust his trench coat so that it will hang lower below his knees. It doesn't.
“Enough!” erupts Hanger-Man. “No more interruptions! I'm trying to tell a story, here!”
He scowls at the twins. They adjust themselves in their seats and cross their hands in their laps, each smiling mischievously. Hanger-Man clears his throat, then resumes his tale.
“All right, it was not too long after my confession to Marvin that I began to reflect upon what I'd been doing with my life. I suppose finally opening up about my activities to someone else allowed me to also be more honest with myself. I searched my soul and was able to trace the origin of my behavior back to what had happened with my mother. Not too long after that, I abandoned serial killing. Yes, Marvin was the catalyst for my abandoning serial killing.”
“I was very proud of you,” says Marvin. “It was a big change to make.”
“Indeed it was, my friend. But I was able to make it, thanks in no small part to you. And so,  after forsaking the murderous path on which I was traveling, I began contemplating what I next wanted to do with my life. And it was at this time that I first began to develop the idea of forming our group.”
“We started discussing it, you see, over drinks at a return visit to the ***** house,” adds Marvin. “Jason told me that he wanted to do some outreach. I told him it would be a great idea and everything picked up from there.”
“It occurred to me,” continues Hanger-Man, “that the group should encourage its members to focus their energies on something other than committing murders.”
“You mean that entrepreneur ****?” asks Mark.
“Entrepreneurship, yes,” answers Hanger-Man.
“Jason had such a great idea, I immediately signed up,” says Marvin, “and I think all of you should as well.”
“Signed up for what, exactly?” Mark asks him.
“A no fail money making opportunity!”
The twins look at one another, grinning. Mark's face lights up.
“Well, ****! I could use some extra cash,” he says. “I need to buy a taller bed frame.”
Hanger-Man smiles in elation.
“I think, Mark, that this might be just the thing for you!”
“Well, how's it work?”
“It's quite simple, really” explains Marvin. “You first join the program, which Jason has named 'The Golden Group,' by paying an initial fee. Then you convince others to join. With their payments, you begin making back your original investment. When the people you recruit begin finding new investors, you get to collect on what they earn. So, as time goes on and more people join, the money just rolls right in!”
“Stop! Hold it right there!” cries out a twin. “You're trying to get us involved in a pyramid scheme!”
“Why, you scoundrel!” shrieks the other.
“Now just a minute, guys,” whines Marvin. “You have not even heard us all the way out.”
“Nor will we!” say the twins in unison. They clasp hands and rise from their seats.
“Hey, what gives?” asks Mark. “You telling me that this whole time we've been here, the group was really some scam?”
“That's right,” says a twin. “Jay and his friend have been waiting for enough people to arrive so that they could begin fleecing us all out of our money.”
“Come on, now,” pleads an offended looking Hanger-Man. “If I were really trying to do something like that, why wouldn't I have just targeted the two of you? You’re so well off that I'd imagine you have more money than everyone else here combined will see in their lifetimes!”
Chief Killing ******, who has been sitting silently throughout the meeting, suddenly springs to his feet and cries out at the top of his lungs. Everyone in the room looks at him. He shrugs his shoulders and walks out as if nothing happened.
“What the **** was that?” Mark wonders aloud.
“Who cares?” snorts a twin in response. “My sibling and I are out of here, too. Let's beat it.”
The Twins bow toward Hanger-Man. Before he can make an attempt to dissuade them from leaving, they turn and begin skipping away. I hear them laughing as they make their way up the stairs.
Hanger-Man tells them to wait.
“Will somebody explain to me what the **** is going on?” Mark demands. “This group's seriously just some scam?”
Hanger-Man looks at him pathetically.
“No, no, there's been a misunderstanding, Mark. Only a misunderstanding, that's all. Perhaps I should not have invited Marvin to sit in tonight. I thought that with the recent addition of Dan, the time had come to introduce everyone to my greater plans.”
I have had enough. Stand and rush for the door. Head up the stairs. Hanger-Man and Marvin yelling at me all the while. Exit the pizzeria and light a cigarette. I am halfway up the block when I hear someone call out to me from an alley not far off. I go to investigate.
“It is true, indeed, what they say. You cannot trust the white man.”
Peer into the alley and see Chief Killing ******, standing idly with his hands by his sides.
“Come here, I have something for you.”
Not entirely sure why I am doing so, I drop my cancer stick and enter the alley and approach the Chief. He smiles strangely and removes a silver whistle from behind the feathers of his headdress.
“I wonder, do you know why I am called Chief Killing ******?”
“No, I do not.”
“Then let me show you.”
              He places the whistle to his lips. A piercng shriek echoes through the alley.
               “Now you will see.”
              Nothing seems to be happening. I stare at the Chief in confusion for a few seconds, before I hear the clinking of high-heeled shoes. Dozens of pairs of high-heeled shoes, all of which sound like they are heading for the alley.
“I would like to introduce you to my *******.”
I see a series of strumpets, walking single file. They break line. Cover the wall to my left, to my right. They take formation in front of a dumpster at the back end of the alley, then finally close off the entryway. All wear pink miniskirts and black corsets. Black garters. Overly large, golden hoop earrings dangle comically from their ears as they take their places. The Chief stretches his arms above his head and yawns.
“Now they will show you what they do.”
More quickly than I can react, several of the prostitutes grab me from behind. One whispers into my ear that it will be fun to **** on my severed ****. She kisses me gently on the cheek. I am unable to refrain from getting an *******.
“Farewell, friend,” says Chief Killing ******.
A short, Arab looking ****** emerges from behind those standing at the alley's entrance. She makes her way in my direction, licking her lips and slowly drawing a forefinger across her neck. She holds a machete in her left hand.
I make no effort to struggle as I am forced to my knees. The ***** raises the machete above her head.
“This will not hurt a bit, my beloved.”
Close my eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. I know it won't.
An ironic and contemporary take on the classic Orpheus myth by a modern Beatnik
Chantinelle Sep 2014
To anyone who may ever attempt to be in a relationship with me:
Be patient.
I am like a wild animal, I need to be tamed.
I'll laugh to ease the tension I feel, don't take it personally.
I'll duck away when you try to wrap your arm around me.
I'll flinch or freeze in fear if you try to kiss me.
Take things slow, like easing a wolf into the position of a house pet.
Because that's what I am.
I am wild and I am free.
I am used to running on my own, used to not being tied down.
I have to feel comfortable with you for anything to work.
And that comes with patience.
Hold my hand when we go to a movie, don't try to kiss me or talk to me, chances are I am actually watching the movie.
If you want to kiss me start off with little things; start off with a kiss on the back of the hand, my forehead, my cheek, my nose.
Hug me when were alone, just the two of us when we're comfortable with one another, don't make it into a show of claiming me.
I am not yours to claim.
I am me, a person not a possession.
And I don't take transition very well.
So, be patient, don't make me jump into something head first when I'm incredibly frightened of it.
I'm going to be a nervous wreck after I've been asked out; just treat me like you always would and when I'm comfortable we can work on who we are together.
Because I am me and you are you; we are different people yet we can come together with our feelings and make something completely new.
If we're patient.
M Salinger Jul 2018
Be kind to yourself,
as you are with others

You have these
grand expectations
of yourself
and at times,
those around you

It's good to have goals
and a hunger for
betterment,
but you must also be
vigilant
to keep them realistic

Because, while you are indeed
fierce & strong-willed,
you are also soft
& at times
fragile

You are human.

But that doesn't mean
you are without
superpowers

Your sensitivity is your greatest gift,
but without care,
can also be your greatest
downfall

You must learn to master your craft.

This means to be
patient with yourself
as you would with others,
to show compassion
as you would with others,
to show love,
grace,
& humility,
to yourself

This in practice,
is to truly understand,
& epitomise,
that self-care
is not
selfish

That it is okay to say no,
or to ask for help,
or to be truly
vulnerable

To acknowledge
that fear is
the root cause
of bitterness
& resentment

To embrace the lows,
for making the highs even
sweeter

To let the good wash
over you
the same as
the bad,
& embrace the micro changes,
as the meta
stays the same

To believe you are worthy,
of a great love,
the same as you believe
another's
worthy of
yours

To embody the idiom
that one can
only
truly love another,
after
they learn to love
themself,
& thus allowing
the hard-earned
victory
of grounded, stable
communion

To know the difference between
support
& advice,
love
& lust,
friendships
& partnerships

To have
faith
that you will find your way,
because you will;
because you live your life
with generosity
& authenticity

This is my vision for you,
that you will
make this your reality.
Ashwin Kumar Feb 2019
I have placed my trust in you
Not once, not twice
But for years and years
Every time you fail to deliver
I tell myself to be patient
I say, "give it some time"
As I wait and wait
You begin to take me for granted
Your service becomes poorer and poorer
While my wallet grows thinner and thinner
I tell myself to be patient
But my face grows redder and redder
My eyes begin to blaze
My teeth grow sharper and sharper
My mouth begins to foam
My fists begin to clench
My finger and toe nails grow sharper and sharper
Still, I tell myself to be patient
But then you fail spectacularly
When it matters the most
This is the last straw
With an almighty roar
I pounce on you
Heedless of your frantic cries for mercy
And tear you to pieces
While I drink your blood
I pause for a moment
To savour the just retribution
For all these years of injustice
For all these years of betrayal
I was patient, for a long time
But patience too, has its limits
Poem meant for Vodafone India senior management. Statutory Warning: Contains violence and bloodlust.
Sir B Apr 2014
I have been so patient
For so long
I dont understand

How was i this patient?
What and how
Just how exactly?

Guess, i have to be patient
Longer...
Just thoughts again
AntRedundAnt Jan 2014
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couldn't   isn't   they're   let's   'n   primos   primas   cantuta   fronton   redd's   mott's   innie   phallicly   tiny   fight   yo   para   walk   ****   hello   light   flash   silent   stone   does   forth   conversation   polite   green   minutes   ****   clear   flesh   couple   wake   anger   throw   torn   tangle   play   shattered   soldier   land   victim   carry   battlefield   came   darkest   blood   battle   warm   shine   reminds   lose   eye   dismay   hide   impossible   fast   earth   grab   stand   die   worse   year   people   white   story   hit   god   anxiety   realize   fall   asleep   dark   course   apart   morning   remain   beauty   ****   slowly   start   happen   remember   pray   past   easily   straight   mean   hand   driving   instant   thunder   messages   friends   old   coming   pen   seeds   shape   wasted   word   living   tore   shadows   knowing   bad   class   joy   trust   leaves   path   sun   ways   leave   meet   broken   head   weight   means   mountain   boys   true   stars   learn   sliced   naive   decided   player   actually   reality   ease   music   hood   desperate   promise   wishing   begin   miss   caressing   moan   thighs   heard   pretty   emotion   figure   floor   exotic   sand   hits   angel   awake   dreaming   probably   wins   seek   stretch   loved   tears   heartbreak   punk   walking   piece   furniture   unreachable   roots   near   deserve   simple   cats   tail   precious   lovers   loves   mother   tongues   clueless   share   taken   yesterday   faith   freedom   ripe   cursed   running   yes   unknown   feeling   going   stairs   opposite   wonder   afloat   packed   bones   acting   playing   wind   passions   dismissed   hourglass   reached   stares   mouths   singing   shaped   trapped   toll   dies   rock   trunk   discovered   especially   dull   choice   awful   patient   great   indoors   attached   thread   shoulders   warms   bright   bring   ending   drowning   sadness   winter   baby   looked   cute   beating   tight   kids   crying   ran   intoxicating   growing   saying   opposites   melancholy   gives   follow   clearly   dove   tu   soon   entwined   juicy   drown   laid   took   moved   bear   anyways   shirt   negative   clean   guide   sore   location   faux   nodded   glance   caught   chances   week   started   today   obvious   sweat   ***   quiet   laughed   worry   round   ladies   mama   smack   goodbye   rising   sides   wished   beds   infinite   positive   scared   admittedly   mistakes   meal   common   rises   toes   bullets   bound   suited   birth   clothes   belt   pounds   ground   barren   sitting   table   woe   swimming   stick   deepest   motion   cleared   sing   angry   action   sons   smiled   bedroom   wall   wiped   grins   mad   july   store   road   snow   pulse   important   adventure   exactly   foundation   trap   colors   floors   neon   outside   language   summer   north   fifty   served   wavy   kick   raw   thirty   row   changed   hanging   lied   drenched   companion   begins   strength   flies   direction   okay   stories   inky   stubborn   cloud   track   described   lover   replaced   pit   packs   circling   honest   wage   dinner   slave   paradox   faking   screamed   lightning   exterior   stopping   complete   deal   rifle   dependent   gifts   dancer   vision   students   horror   punch   anymore   pack   sagging   folk   honestly   tearing   prepared   creatures   listening   rhythm   unique   roar   card   glass   stage   desert   offered   fought   suffer   awoke   master   eating   furnace   glad   choir   graceful   *****   treasure   ships   bark   musical   strand   bee   finished   pink   slink   stronger   disclose   gravity   schedule   march   medicine   hates   weird   brush   laughs   helped   june   pitched   dumped   tense   sin   withdrawn   stem   proved   whispered   anew   amazing   louder   english   knocked   chilly   boots   false   mistake   toffee   whistle   smirk   gas   poised   buttons   bet   necks   elate  vi   bleak   decades   intention   plane   swollen   unseemly   en   sir   creeping   tells   success   doth   ***   balance   ant   fourth   fits   matters   pan   shook   tingle   dusty   reaching   thanked   careers   pile   tempt   ix   xi   xii   xiii   moms   hushed   spears   twinkling   works   fairytale   double   fighter   shocked   barriers   boot   thanks   solitary   lesson   owned   systems   groan   weekend   tomatoes   cider   calculating   drawer   partially   handy   stumpy   album   appealing   pet   unfortunately   jokingly   hotel   teacher   tag   eighteen   leg   dash   peep   betwixt   swear   attempt   inescapable   venues   worker   suit   coughed   remembers   rhyme   listed   chatter   stuff   assist   blocks   sheen   stanzas   jobs   cleaned   handshake   natural   moi   fantasy   cheers   smaller   curl   nay   leaning   frequent   eggs   cuando   el   desayuno   tus   beige   imperfections   difficult   darlings   overcome   oranges   keys   newfound   fairly   occasions   stats   ponder   pools   ablaze   rushes   fret   quell   breads   progress   comfortable   settling   desks   tile   trails   rainy   homemade   stunned   cemetery   plus   ideas   avocados   bananas   apply   latch   rocky   digress   experiences   vacation   sanctuary   earlier   rocket   precise   various   author   pie   explosions   *******   lighter   matched   plunged   isaac   jefferson   abe   measured   saturday   claw   welcoming   gear   trained   suffocation   leapt   gap   lee   disturbed   es   thrill   alarming   grill   frankly   importantly   una   fray   candied   amalgamation   nasty   american   optimism   guns   craters   contracted   rampant   unattainable   spilled   courts   carrots   shuffled   combined   blonde   forgave   artillery   sandwich   comfier   limitation   personalities   friday   strongly   crude   banana   tennis   limits   quaking   recesses   loot   andromeda   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haven't   what's   you'd   they'd   man's   boys'   god's   woman's   fruit's   orion's   newton's   lincoln's   adam's   momma's   ******   jackson's   audis   dulces   disproportionately   charon's   deseos   avocadoes   hailey   eran   beatles'   ingles   he   she   it   rackets   --   hashtag   sixty-three   duct-tape   joysticks   sherman's   15   6th   32   500   7th   2013   extraño   barenaked   tamales   6-year-old   tierras   derpy   ewell   rom-com   themit's   adan   mudpits   puddlepits   war--hell   culp's   shitpits   completaron   chocolatada   levantanse   duraznos   n'sync   huevo   cholitos   levantaron   manzanas   endurece   wozniak's   dispara   nuez   open-endedness   innies   cankles   dunder-mifflin   tunks   buck-toothed   outies   grief-blown   a-gawking
I uploaded all of my past work onto the site already, so everything from here on out will be new and original. This is sort of an experimental idea of mine: take all the words hellopoetry has tracked for me, put it down as if it were a poem, and see how it flows. It actually kind of works sometimes, but I'm not sure. I'm sure it's mostly terrible, but I wanted to try it. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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