Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2-22-05 Weddings in Purgatory 6 The End

I comes in torrents. This fake smile I’m wearing makes it look like they’re tears of happiness.

When the priest starts talking, the sun turns black.

“Do you, Sofia, take Gabriel...”

The earth starts to shake. People are scattering like mad, running for cover. But the wedding party seems oblivious, we all wear the same empty smiles.

“I do.”

In a second, we’re up to our up our shins in locusts. It looks like we’ve been wading through a swamp of the things. I look over at Jess and his face is covered in them. He’s oblivious, smiling at my bride and me.

“Do you, Gabriel, take Sofia...”

And then a dark cloud moves directly above me. Like a dragon, it belches flames. I’m on fire, my skin’s peeling back, and the stink of burned muscle overcomes me. Everybody’s smiling. Even when the hail starts pummeling us, they keep smiling. The happy couple’s future looks bright, doesn’t it?

The hail hits hard for what seems like eternity. And then silence...

There’s a ring in my hand and Sofia’s bony finger is outstretched. As I begin to slip it on, I hear one last tremendous noise from the sky. I pause and look up and see a battalion of meteors--keyed in on me--crashing through the earth’s atmosphere. My empty smile begins to fill.
I’ve got a family somewhere. Please make it be real.

The End

Monday, February 20, 2006

2-20-05 Weddings in Purgatory 5

The minute I wake up things start to fall apart. I watch the cracks in my ceiling get larger; the bits and pieces of drywall rain down on my face, and then the fat guy who lives up there that never leaves his home, comes crashing down--sitting in a giant lazy boy--on my chest.

It’s going to be a bad day, I can feel it. The death scenes usually don’t kick in this early. I lay in bed for a few minutes and let my eyes come into focus...the cracks in my ceiling are the same as they always were...there is no fat guy pressing down on me, only a crippling sense of dread.

I’d been dreaming of Cleo and our last night together before the accident. I had this foolish notion that I could hear the kid’s heartbeat, she laughed and told me it wouldn’t work, but I insisted and put my ear against her stomach. All I heard were the creaks and gurgles of her gut. It was getting pretty firm, her stomach, not quite big, but tighter than before. She joked about how she was going to look like a blimp. I told her that for all I cared she could wear a goddam parachute for a dress. I loved her no matter what, I said, and ducked under the covers and kissed the arch of her foot. She laughed a sultry laugh as I kissed my way up to her mouth. She told me that her orgasms were more intense than before. Was it different for me? she asked. I told her that I was a little more cautious, more afraid of poking a hole in the kid’s head than anything else. That’s ridiculous, she said, laughing. And then I buried my face into the crook of her neck and kissed her ivory skin...

Her smell is still in my nostrils. I pat her side of the bed, half-expecting she’d be there.


It’s empty, as it has been every day for last two years. God, I’m pathetic.

I get up, slip and fall a bunch of times on my way to the bathroom, nothing bad just a few broken bones.

Even with my electric razor I still manage to nick my jugular.

The water in the shower had been tampered with, the plumbing connected to a vat full of hydrochloric acid--my skin slips off in messy sheets, and when I try to wash my hair, I wind up with a handful scalp. By the time I get out of the shower, I’m a chunk of bloody gristle.

As I put my ill-fitting tuxedo on, the phone rings. Fuck it. If it’s important they’ll leave a message.

“I can’t believe my son is getting married.”

It’s my mother, sobbing.

“Sorry your dad and I couldn’t make it...”

Their R.V.’s on the fritz and they don’t fly. Mom calls three times a day, incessantly apologizing.

“It’s not a big deal, mom,” I tell her every time she calls. “Trust me, it’s not big deal.”

The guilt, she says, is going to drive her to the grave.

“That’s the problem with guilt, so no use in feeling it,” I usually tell her.

By most people’s standards, it’s a pretty nice day. I sit down and attempt to enjoy a cup of coffee but the stinging brightness of the sun bouncing off my neighbor’s grill singes my eyes. I close the shades and the flat gets dark...

I sit in a chair in the living room, rub my temples, and do some yoga breathing.

Breath in for four. Hold for eight. Let out for sixteen. Breath in for four...

But this induces an asthma attack--I don’t have asthma--and, once again, I die.

I haven’t had death scenes this bad...ever.

Sweat collects on my forehead and my palms are clammy. The water from the tap doesn’t seem to get cold even though I let it run for a full minute.

Then a car horn resounds from my driveway. I go to the bathroom mirror and check myself out.

Run a comb through my hair.

The car keeps honking

“I’m fucking coming!” I yell.

My guts are churning and I splash some water on my face to remedy them, but it’s too late. It all comes up in the bathroom sink. I make a half-assed attempt to rinse it out, but the drain is clogged by chunks, and the bilious water keeps rising.

The car horn is incessant.

I grab my shoes and run out the front door in my stockinged feet. The damn sun pounds my tired eyes. While I stand on the porch rubbing my eyes, Jess yells something out the window. Something cutting about my pants, some cliche joke about waiting for a flood. I’m not in any mood to give a shit. The goddam sun. Jesus Christ.

“You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day,” he says as I get in the passenger side.

“Would you take that fucking hat off. It’s giving me a headache,” I say.

“Raaaay-owww!” he says, ignoring my request and leaving the hat in place. I lean my forehead against the glass and stare at nothing as he drives me to my wedding.

“I knew this was going to happen. Like I said: pre wedding jitters. Full effect, man! Don’t worry, Gabe, I read up on this shit. Sofia was kind of scared that this’d happen so she gave me some articles she found in magazines and shit.”

I can’t ignore him--he just has a way of annoying you into listening. “Damn. This song is tight,” he interjects, cranking up the corporate R and B station.

“Anyway,” he yells over the song, a song sung by some woman about how she ain’t gonna get played no more, “Don’t worry, man, everybody has last minute doubts.” He says it mechanically like a child reciting a bible verse in catechism.

“Just remember the fundamental thing. You and Sofia love each other and...and...” he takes a split second break to sing along to the chorus and continues: “Where was I...oh yeah: you guys love each other and will be happy the rest of your lives and shit.”

“Are you fucking high?” Even his ridiculous glasses can’t hide his bloodshot eyes. “You are aren’t you? Jesus Christ, Jess, have some class for a change.”

“Aw. Come on man. I’m more nervous than you are. Give me a break. I have to stand up and recite some toast to you. Yeah, who cares if I toked up. I’m the one who has to take care of the ring, that’s a big responsi--Oh shit!” He starts frantically patting the breasts of the coat jacket. He pulls out the ring and says, “Phew.”

He keeps talking and talking. We have at least seven head-on collisions before we get to the church. They’re big ones, and I fly through the windshield every time.

After our arrival, I open the car door and put my shoes on. With my legs bent, the cuffs on my trousers go up to the top of my shins. My socks don’t match either. They’re both black, but the ribbing on my left is wider than the ribbing on my right.

Damn, these shoes hurt. My toes are scrunched into the pointed tips, leaving absolutely no wiggle room. I realize I didn’t try the goddam things on before taking them. By the time we get to the church steps, my feet are a mess. Just that short walk and they feel like fire. I sit down on the steps. Jess stands over me, and I think he senses that I want to be alone for a moment and says that he’ll go tell everyone that I’m here.

It’s a crushing feeling, I can’t explain it. My chest feels tight. I bury my head in my hands and I want to cry but I can’t. We were going to get married–-Cleo and I--eventually. But we weren’t going to let the kid force it on us. We probably would’ve gotten married but Cleo didn’t want to give people the impression that we were getting hitched for any other reason than love. I couldn’t argue with her...

I take a deep breath and go inside.

The bridesmaids are giggly like it’s some sort of junior high dance. Chrissy...or was it Pam--I don’t know, all of her lame friends seem the same to me--comes up and said, “She looks gorgeous.”

I force a smile, “I’m sure she does.”

Then Chrissy or Pam or whatever looks down at my pants and looks at me with a perplexed, furrowed brow.

“It’s the style,” I say and walk off.

People are buzzing around me. Mainly relatives, asking me questions, making jokes, giving me opinions, laughing. My brain’s fatigued but I still laugh and nod my head and act like I’m interested. This hollow smile seems to be working.

Jess pats my shoulder and says, “Hey man, it’s time.”

The ceremony is in the treeless green field behind the church. Jess and the priest and I stand in front waiting. My heart pounds so hard it feels like it’s going to explode. The air is dense bleeds sweat from my pores--I feel like a sponge in someone’s tight grip. I can barely breath. The organ starts and a hush comes over the crowd and then the bridesmaids walk down the carpeted isle, followed by my bride. She’s wearing a veil, and the sun makes me squint.

With the brightness behind, I see just her silhouette, but, I swear--I swear to God and all the saints--It’s Cleo. I rub my eyes, but she’s still there walking toward me with an effortless, lithe stride, the short train of her sleeveles dress gliding behind.

Even with the veil covering her face, she’s beautiful. As she gets closer, the details come into focus: the lovely, well-built swimmer’s shoulders, wisps of fine black hair brushing her neck...

Fuck em, Cleo. Let’s get married. Your belly isn’t that big yet, nobody’ll suspect a thing. We’ll get a house, maybe even a dog. I’ll be a total family man...

I’m getting impatient. Behind the veil are those piercing eyes and those lips that fit mine so well. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around her and tell her how dead I’ve felt these last few years. I’m going to kiss every inch of her skin and tell her I love her so much it hurts.

And she stops in front of me. We’re face to face.

When the bridesmaid lifts the veil, my heart collapses. These lips aren’t hers. And these blase eyes aren’t hers either. Her sturdy arms become fragile and stick-like. The striking black hair fades into a dull dirty-blonde.
I want to die.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

2-19-05 Weddings in Purgatory 4

We’re at the mall, Jess and I. While I’m tripping over children and cracking my skull on the hard concrete floor trying to find the tuxedo rental place, he’s busy mauling the last bit of a cinnamon roll, scoping out the asses of the ever-abundant highschool girls.

Our tuxes are waiting for us and the pimply faced prepubescent teenager running the joint tells us that we should try them on before we leave. Jess goes first, and comes out and does a Marvin Gaye spin and sings--in a horrible falsetto--“Awwwww, sugah!” He grabes the lapels with both hand and says, “I’m gotta get me one of these things. High muthafuckin class. Damn!”

It’s my turn. In front of me is a large mirror. In the mirror is me in my underwear, my cock peeking out of the worn out fly. I tuck it back in. I thought I had muscles at one time. I can’t remember...

I put the tux on and it seems to fit just fine, but as I take the pants off, I notice a stain on the crotch of them. The sickening thought occurs that I’m probably the millionth sorry sack to have worn these things.

I give the pants back to the kid. “There’s a cum stain on these.”

He looks confused. “I’ll get another pair,” he says in a crackly voice. But comes back empty handed, explaining that the only pair they have is an inch shorter in the inseam.

A woman walks by the storefront pushing a small child in a stroller, her raven black hair catches my eye.

I throw the money at the pock-marked kid. “I don’t give a shit, I’ll take them,” I say, barreling out of the store. I walk briskly, following her, fighting the impulses to break out into a full-fledged sprint. In a few minutes I’m only five feet behind.

But then I stop dead in my tracks. What the hell am I doing? Even from behind, this woman doesn’t look anything like her. I feel hollow, like there hasn’t been any progress since the accident, like I’m stuck in purgatory.

I turn around and Jess is there holding our plastic-wrapped tuxedos. He gives me a confused look, but doesn’t say anything. I make no attempt to explain.

“Let’s get out of here,” I say.

I’m lost, I have no idea which way we came in, but I act self-assured and pick a direction and walk anyway...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

2-18-05 Weddings In Purgatory 3

So this is my bachelor party? It’s just Jess and I sucking down Pabst, watching girls shove dollar bills up their twats. I yawn and make sure Jess notices it.

When you treat all of your friends like shit, only the worst, pathetic dregs stay with you. Through all this, Jess somehow became my best man. I use the term “best” loosely, as he’s my only man. Really, Jess should be my “okay” man, but even that would be pushing it.

“I don’t know...Harry Caray?” I say after Jess asks me to guess the inspiration for his new look

“Harry Caray? No, man, no. Run DMC,” he says

He’s got these monstrously huge glasses, bigger than the Buddy Holly glasses he wore a week ago, and a fur Gilligan hat. He’s always trying to be ahead of a trend, usually throwing himself full-force into it. He knows that for a month before the trend catches on he looks like an idiot, but once the trend catches on, he’s a bona fide genius, a veritable fashion prophet.

The strippers are being extra friendly to him, probably because they think he’s retarded. He folds a dollar bill lengthwise and tip his head backwards, over the bar on walkway, and sets the dollar bill on his nose. A small chested nymph comes from out of nowhere and bends over his face. She tries to cup her tiny dangling tits, but they’re too small, so it takes a little effort, but once she gets a handful she pushes them together, clamping the dollar bill, lifting it from Jess’s nose. Then she winks, snatches the bill from her non-existent cleavage, and walks away with a lusty gait.

“Her nipple brushed my cheek,” Jess informs me. I visualize myself doing the same move, my head bent backward, eyes closed, but when the girl bends over, something goes wrong and she falls on my head, breaking my neck, paralyzing me instantaneously.

I’m bored. Even watching Jess’s idiocy, which is usually quite entertaining, makes me yawn.

So, you getting the jitters yet?” he asks.

“No. Why should I?”

“It’s the end of your freedom, man!”

“That’s so fucking cliche, Jess, spare me. Please.”

“Hey, if you do get the jitters and you want out, let me know, dude. I’d love to rock that hot little body of hers.”

Nauseating flashes of Sofia getting it from behind by Harry Caray pollute my throbbing brain.

I’ve got a fucking headache,” I say aloud to nobody in particular.

Jess suggests we go out to the car and spark up. Once again, I have to explain that I don’t get high anymore.

He mimics me with a mocking nasally voice, “I don’t get high anymore. Gimme a break, man. You and Cleo used to get high all the time.”

He quickly realizes that he mentioned her name. “Sorry,” he says, bowing his head in an attempt to look solemn.

“Forget about it,” I say. And I say it nonchalantly like it’s so fucking easy: No sweat, forget about it. I have.

I’m such a liar.

I think about Cleo all the time. They’re sweet memories usually, but tonight, looking at all the vacant stares of the sorry men in this club, all I can think of is her body in that casket. At least it took death to make Cleo look like a corpse. These guys already have that look nailed down. They barely squeak into the definition of “living,” breathing in just enough oxygen to keep their cells alive, legs moving enough to get their fat asses plopped down on a barstool.

I wish they would’ve burned her. She looked fake, like a poorly sculpted figure from a wax museum. The make-up they used made her look garish and cheap. I think about her lips, about how I could see hints of the thick thread used to sew them shut. And when friends and relatives bent over and kissed her, it made me ill. That wasn’t her in there, I was sure of it. The real Cleo was somewhere waiting for me. And when I’d find her, she’d say something like, “what took you so long,” and we’d pick up where we left off.

I scan the club and see a few sad-faces of grown men jacking off with glasses of straight whiskey in hand, all alone. These seem like perfect suicide-candidates. Why couldn’t God take one of these losers instead? I’m sure they wouldn’t mind, I’m sure they’re praying to be hit by lightening everyday.

Jess just walks off to get a lap dance for me. I take a long sip of my beer. In the corner of my eye I calmly notice a total stranger charging at me with a brick. Big deal. He smashes my head in, and I slump forward over the bar and let the blood-matted hair ooze off my skull and into the cocktail glass of shithead at the stool next to me.

The shithead looks at me. “This place sure has some beautiful women.”

Without saying a word, I look at him and yawn.

Friday, February 17, 2006

2-17-05 Weddings In Purgatory 2

I was at the lowest point in my life when I met Sofia. It was during that blurry, hollow period after Cleo’s death, when, every day, I’d die a million deaths, wishing each one would be real.

I was at the library, drunk and sulking, looking at a book of Francis Bacon’s paintings, the ones of the blurry faces screaming in pain. The paintings were ugly, but I couldn’t help but stare. Sofia sat across from me and immediately tried to strike up a conversation, complimenting me on my fine taste in art. I remember trying to ignore her, but she just kept on talking and talking. This girl was weird, I remember thinking. Look at how pathetic and wretched I look, and she treats it like some sort of aphrodisiac. She was the complete opposite of Cleo. Cleo would shake me, tell me that public drunkenness is tacky (it is.) Tell me that Francis Bacon was a goddam slob (he is.) Tell me to quit feeling sorry for myself (I should.)

But then Sofia took off her coat and introduced herself. There was a small spark of life in me when I noticed those firm breasts hidden underneath that tight black sweater of hers. I hadn’t had any in awhile, and I was feeling sex-starved. We ended up hooking up, and I was happy for a couple days, thinking I could maybe build a fire with that spark, thinking that maybe I could finally get on with my life.

But the fire died. It died fast like it never had a chance...

Does Sofia know she’s a barnacle on the hull of a sinking ship? That’s the thing about Sofia, she loves all of my hideous character traits, thinks they’re just eccentric quirks. All the things I try to do to get her to leave me alone--the petty insults, the grumpiness and shortness of temper--just seem to make her naive loyalty more suffocating. She clings, and I can’t shake her off no matter what I do. And, actually, it seems like the more I shake, the stronger her burrs grip. So I’ve given up trying to lose her and she sticks around like a slobbering dog.

But, like the idiot I am, I always find a way to fuck things up a thousand times worse than they already are. Like that time, six months ago, when we were at a nice restaurant and Sofia was crying and holding up her hand looking at a ring--an engagement ring--while I sat there asking myself if I actually did what I think I did. And then Sofia starts crying and going on about how this was the happiest day of her life, and my heart sank.

When she left me alone to go use the payphone to tell her mother the news, I sat there staring at the remnants of my chicken alfredo, wondering why I always order it even though it gives me a stinging, almost unbearable, gut-ache every time.

I’ve had the death scenes before, just small ones, ones involving tripping on cracks and minor shaving accidents and things of that nature. But after the engagement incident, they started hitting hard.

That night when we walked out of the restaurant, while Sofia was lost in thought about wedding dresses, a bus veered off course and hit me, throwing my mangled body through a storefront window. A shard of glass from the window ripped my intestines apart and I winced, but Sofia didn’t notice a thing...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

2-16-05 Weddings In Purgatory...

I'm going to post a very uplifting short story I wrote called "Weddings in purgatory". I'll publish it on this blog in mini chapters. Here's the first installment:

by Cullen Carter

W hen the knife slips Sofia doesn’t notice a thing. Even when the blood gushes from my wrist onto the cutting board full of freshly cut oranges, she sits, totally oblivious, at the kitchen table immersed in those goddam wedding magazines.
Her lips flap away, she’s asking me a question I think, but when your stupid life is draining from you by the gallon everything is mute.
She looks at me expectantly.
Can’t you see I’m dying here, Sofia?

And then I cringe, and in a second I’m perfectly alright. Her scratchy voice becomes audible again:
“Snapdragons or Chrysanthemums?” she asks.
“Huh?” I say holding the plate of oranges, staring at the clean cutting board and the wet knife laying on top of it.
“You know, for the rehearsal dinner--did you take the seeds out of those?”
God, what an uptight bitch Sofia can be sometimes. Did you take the seeds out of those? Excuse me, they’re navel oranges. They barely have any seeds. Besides I was cutting them for myself, if you wanted fucking navel oranges get off your lazy ass and get your own.
She stares at me with that slack-jawed look of hers. “Well?”
“Well what?”

“You didn’t answer my question, Grumpy Gabriel.”
“Yes,” I say, sitting down, “I cut the goddam seeds out, sheesh.”
She sighs. “No, silly, what kind of flowers do you want? Chrysanthemums or snapdragons?”
Ragweed. If you really want to know, I want ragweed.
“I don’t know, the second one I guess. Look, I’m going to bed.” Listening to all this wedding shit is wearing me out. “Make sure you lock up before you leave.”
We kiss dispassionately and say our perfunctory goodnight love-yous. I get up and hobble toward the bedroom.
“Oh, what about your oranges?” she asks.
“Finish em,” I say.
“Everything alright, hon?”
Suddenly I slip on cat vomit and fall forward. Trying to catch myself on the edge of the counter
top, my hand slips and my mouth collides full-force with the solid marble top, smashing my teeth into jagged shards, ripping half of them from their sockets.
For a second, the roots dangle like vines and the pain is excruciating, but I blink and things are normal again.
“Yeah, everything’s fine. Just tired,” I say.
In the dark, quiet bedroom, I flop over onto the bed, not even bothering to take off my clothes. Like the lungs of a dying animal, the bed sinks slowly under the weight of my body.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

2-08-06 Bleak future

I have a pretty bleak vision of the future.

In my future, technology has progess so much that humanity has lost all of its value. I picture a future where people are put to death at a certain agebecause they're too old. And handicapped people with little intelligence are also put to death because they take more than they contribute to society. It's up to us to make sure this bleak future doesn't happen. We must spot seedlings of this future and try to eliminate it before it grows and becomes acceptedwithout question. Does anybody spot seedlings? And, if so, what are they?


About Me

My photo
I'm a happily married 33 gentleman. My wife Allyson and I have an 11 year old daughter named Veronica.