Pavilion (Conclusion)

—–

 

That was the sound. A single crunch of bones. David knew what it had meant. So had Titus; they were the bones in his neck. The crowd went wild, squalling like mad animals. But that didn’t matter, even as the referees and managers reached their sweaty hands down to the two fighters on the ground. Even as the announcer on the microphone roared meaningless words.

“It’s all over!” He was saying. “Stand back, folks, stand back! Oh wow!” His voice was booming and hollow and distant all at the same time. David paid no attention. His eyes were locked with those steely-flints in front of him. They lay there like two lovers in bed. Their bed at the bottom of the ocean.

The fight over, time had truly frozen. Everything else was as faded and washed out as sun-soaked wood. Titus’s breaths were sharp, shallow. They were fading, and only the two fighters knew it. His open eyes pierced through the chaos, looking only at David.

The announcer was blaring something over and over, now, into his great tin-can microphone. Like a tribal chant, it filled the air, but David wasn’t listening. Titus’s lips were moving so that only David might see. No sound came out, or, if it did, the announcer’s constant squall had overpowered it. But David saw.

I’m sorry, the lips had said. I’m sorry.

As the sweating hands plunged down, pulling up David by his arms and by his burning ribs, he mouthed back to the Giant.

Me too. He said, or tried to say. It was too late to know. They pulled him to his feet. The announcer’s words came booming in with crystal clarity.

Titus Grant is dead!” They boomed. “Titus ‘The Giant’ is dead!”

All descended into roaring, unfathomable noise. David thought of seagulls.

The Giant’s steel-gray eyes had receded completely, lost in the sounds of people and sea-birds, to somewhere far away.

 

—–

 

When the time came, David finally made it back to the shitty little apartment. He opened the door quietly, not wanting to disturb Kay.

Instead of the usual darkness that plagued the rotting little room, the curtains had been pulled wide. Sunlight spilled through the single window in warm, glowing rays, silhouetting Kay’s ragged armchair. David squinted his eyes, blinking hard. He focused. She was not there.

All around the chair, the great, morbid halo of unpaid bills and advertisement circulars and unread newspapers swarmed. David walked across, around to the front of the chair, crinkling the detritus underfoot.

“Ma?” He called. But the bright apartment was still. Dust motes floated lazily through the air. “You here?”

Outside, the Pavilion was buzzing with people. David looked out of the window, wondering how many of them might know who he was, now (after everything), if they saw him. The man who killed a Giant. He thought.

“I’m back, Ma.” David called again. “We can go now.” He said. It was true.

 

The managers had rushed David out before the crowd could swoop in. Later the Police had come and investigated…under-the-table of course. Rumor had it that even the District Attorney was betting on the fight. They would never mention how against-the-law the event had been. They would chalk it up to a tourist attraction gone bad. A botched stage-performance by two professional actors. It was, after all, a terrible accident.

Of course, that wasn’t anywhere close to the dangerous truth. The truth that had been revealed that same night under the blinding fluorescents. The ref had picked up Titus’s dead hand and dropped it back to the floor. It clanked heavily. He did it again. The sound of the metal that had been carefully sown into the gloves was unmistakeable. The Giant’s gloves were full of extra weight.

The bookies were furious, but they paid out. They had no choice. It would have been hell to pay instead if one of their names were to get released to the public. Or if they had to account for every potential fight in which Titus the Champion might have had tipped the odds. They wanted to disqualify David, but after the gloves, that was out of the question. And, when half the Pavilion’s public officials had a stake in the fight, they knew better than to raise any more fuss than had already been raised. After all, a man was dead. Cheater nonetheless. David’s manager had said as much, stuffing a huge roll of hundreds into his hand nervously.

“Best get out of town,” he advised. David didn’t disagree. He wondered if any of the bookies had been lurking around, but brushed off the thought. He had gotten back to the apartment as soon as the smoke cleared, making his way quietly along the busy streets. He passed his discarded pack of Newports, which had been trampled and soaked by the fine mist that surrounded him before the fight. He grabbed a hot-dog from a stand, where a greasy man with a Yankee accent told him that “he looked familiar.” Ignore it, he thought, walking on, getting back to the beat up sportster. He slept in the back seat for what seemed like days, ignoring the pain in his ribs. Ignoring time. Whatever damage Titus had done, it had eased considerably in the past few hours. Maybe they’re just cracked, he thought, drifting off. He must’ve been holding back.

He dreamed of seagulls and Ferris wheels and woke up wanting a cigarette, but ignored the craving, driving the last few miles to the awful hotel room. The wad of money burned in his pocket brighter than any Pavilion lights. It lifted his heart higher than the screeching seagulls.

 

“Ma?” David said, twisting the blinds halfway closed, honing the light. The dingy apartment offered no sign of life. Then he saw them, poised and ready for the moments that followed. They had gone almost unnoticed in the swarm of mail. A stack of cardboard boxes, flattened, and a roll of packing tape. A white, rather large sticky-note was affixed to the top.

 

David,

Sorry I slept so long. Sometimes you have to when you’re fighting off being sick. I’ve gone to see someone. She’s a bit of a gamble. Get packing. Will be back soon. I’m okay, Son. I love you.

-K.

 

There was another thing. A newspaper was in the seat of the chair, folded open and in half and in half again. Someone had circled a tiny block of text with a pink high-liter.

 

“Titus Grant, age 49. Mourned by his wife, Daisy, and their two children, Davey and Kayla. Services to be held this Sunday at North Shore Funeral Home.”

Outside, the seagulls dove and rose, dove and rose. The ocean waves crashed endlessly. The Pavilion’s great Ferris wheel turned the sky. The people came and went, buzzing like bees, swarming like ants. Out along the pier, people ate ice-cream and laughed. As he packed boxes, David withheld silent tears, unsure of whether they stemmed from joy or greif. Kay would be back. She had already returned from the land of the dead. From the darkness of the yellow hotel. The fighting had been like a dream—like a deep sleep. It had been sickening him for thirteen years. It had cost everything. It had nearly taken his mother. But now it was over. The Giant was dead. Daisy had lost her gamble. David and his mother were finally awake. They were well. They could do whatever they wanted. That much was as clear as the dazzling blue sky.

 

—–

 

One Week Later:

Kay sat passenger seat while David drove. Even with their winnings, trading in the sportster seemed like a sin. It was more beat up and tired than either of them had ever been. In a way, it seemed like a trophy. The hotels and restaurants of the beach flew by in a motion blur. Wind rushed through the windows. It was cool and refreshing. The tourist season was nearly over, and the ever-dropping daytime temperatures were a relief. It had been a long and hot (and occasionally rather wet) summer. Really, it had been thirteen of them.

“Goodbye, you evil place!” Kay said brightly. The sun danced around on the silver of her earrings.

“Amen.” David said, smiling wider than he ever had.

“Goodbye Daisy,” she said, glancing at the empty back seat. She had not been collecting so many newspapers in vain, after all. The night of David’s fight, she had finally put it together. All the things Daisy had said came clicking into place like jigsaw pieces. She had woken up with a start. Someone in the hall outside had crunched an empty soda can underfoot and left briskly. The sound roused her from thirteen years of anxiety and dismay. She had made sure that Daisy saw her face at the funeral. She hadn’t bothered to bring flowers. It was only fair.

Kay looked over at her son, her expression seeming suddenly worried. David saw the familiar lines her face had carried in the hotel room, year after year.

“What is it, Ma?” He said, feeling the knots tie themselves up in his stomach. Kay maintained the frightened look for a few more moments.

“Should we go get some ice cream?” She said in panicked voice. The knots untied. David laughed, hard and deep.

“Hell no!” He said between two breaths. She laughed too, sucking hysterical gasps of air. They both did until their eyes watered.

Sniffing his own tears, a thought occurred to David.

“Ma?” He asked.

“Hm?”

“What were you dreaming of? All that time? Its like you left me. Like you were somewhere else.” David looked into his mother’s bright blues.

“Dreaming of?” She answered distantly, turning to look out of the open window.

“Yeah.”

“You,” she replied. “Always you.”

 

seagull

copyright 2014, Joshua Floyd

Thanks for Reading!

Pavilion (Part Five)

—–

 

Somewhere far away, a roaring crowd had transformed itself into the deafening sound of heavy rain. The people blended together in a multicolor blur on the edges of David’s periphery.

Here, in this place, time itself behaved differently. It wasn’t the slow-motion, Matrix-like theatrics of action movies or stunt-men. Instead, at least for David, it moved more like an ocean-current. Time was fluid, flowing easily from moment to moment, expression to expression. It illuminated and revealed every feature of every coming obstacle in ripples and waves. Every contraction of muscle and twist of direction was pronounced and projected through space and time. The ocean encased the arena.

And, much as an ocean is unconcerned with the shore—with that outside of itself—so became pointless everything outside the ring. The audience, the managers, the veiny foreheads of the coaches and sweating palms of the bookies, the hidden cameras and radio transmitters. None of it was important. It was only David and The Giant, immersed in the sea and the rain.

The Giant stood before him. His eyes were darker now than before, casting deep shadows around themselves. His brow had become hard and beset with wrinkles. He was slimmer than he once had been, which in no way meant that he was a small man. His stance was set like a great boulder—a massive stone parting the force of the water.

And David was the Lightning, waiting to strike.

He was the sum-product of a thundercloud which all around he and Titus blew and shook wildly. The surface of the salty-water in which they faced each other was broken by the endless rain of the audience’s noise. Distantly, David heard the sounds of thunder.

The Giant lurched forward, faster than David had expected. The water of time broke around him with a great surge. David twisted sharply left, avoiding the Giant’s blow. As he turned, the ocean moved with him. There was no time to look, though, as the water surged back against him, foretelling Titus’s follow-up. A sharp jab landed short of David’s right ear.

Exhaling sharply, David pushed back. He imagined his knees bending weightlessly under the invisible current. His toes pushed into the sandy bottom, springing away. He moved through open space freely, escaping yet another heavy lunge from the Giant.

There was a dull thud. David felt air force itself out of him. He’d hit the jagged, ocean shore: the roughness of the ring’s taut ropes. He jammed to a halt.

The Giant came directly toward him, growing larger and larger. His face was curious. It was hard like a stone and distant like a star. Even as the massive shape of it moved closer,blocking the rain, the flinty light in Titus’s eyes retreated. It looked afraid, almost…and sad.

Then the blow came like a car crash. It punched deeply at David’s stomach, and any wind he had left escaped him. He heard the distant audience’s unknowable din.

Two more blows, right behind each other. The ribs. The first was dull and hard. The second, right behind, was sharper and weighty, followed by a tiny cracking noise. Sonofabitch! David roared in his head. Ribs again! The invisible dark clouds rumbled, long and slow and rolling.

The Giant was in close now, his concrete jaw alongside David’s ear. In a growl, he spoke, so only David might hear.

“You shouldn’t have come back, Wymond.” He said in the low growl of a mourning animal.

David coughed air back into his lungs, regaining his breath. The sting of Titus’s blow was swelling to a fire in his side. His mind reeled.

“What?” He spat. “What?” Titus punched again in a half-powered uppercut, forcing the air back out of David.

“You heard me. Feel like you did last time?” Titus growled, making to punch again. David pulled his arms down sharply, blocking. “You’re still quick. But you can’t win, boy.” His harsh mouth was turned down into a gruesome frown. “Gloves hit hard as a rock, too, don’t they, Davey?” He said, smashing again into David’s block. But David didn’t fall. He had come here. He had come here to win. “Best you play dead,” said the Giant.

The steely-flint of Titus’s eyes was clear now, in the flowing water. They were both wide and hard and far-away all at once. David saw it, right then, in that tiny instant. He saw something that he had seen before, in mirrors and in his mother. It was desperation. He had tasted it. They both had. The fire in David’s ribs was raging.

Titus punched again. It was like a bulldozer.

 

The sound of thunder filled the arena. The gloves were like stone. Even for a Giant, the hits were beyond strong. They were the blows of a desperate man. And David had experienced the same type of blows many years ago. Thirteen years, to be exact.

Just like before,” David heard then, clearly, like a bell. It had emerged from the endless noise surrounding he and the Giant.

His thoughts rushed madly in the next millisecond.

Was that someone in the audience? Their voice came through the roaring din with unnatural clarity. That never happened. The audience was always tuned out. It wasn’t his own thought-voice. That one he was familiar with.

Who’s voice? David demanded in the flashing seconds that followed. I know your voice. He thought. The Giant’s deep metal eyes were far, far away. They seemed forlorn and dreadful. Torrential rain came down in great sheets. Thunder bellowed out in low bass. It came rolling from somewhere deep within the dark clouds. And, before another moment had passed, behind the thunder was the voice. And he knew it when it spoke, this time. He knew it well. It was from long ago. From a happier time. It was Kay, angry and alive.

Just like before, David! The gloves are like stone just like before. He’s cheating, Son! He’s just a fucking cheater! He can’t beat you! You’re the Lightning! Kick his ass!

The words moved through his mind like the ocean of time moved through is body.

“He’s kicking my ass, Ma.” David wheezed, looking up into the dangerous sky.

Titus narrowed his eyes, stopping short of another crushing jab.

“What, boy?” He snarled. His eyes raced with confusion. But David wasn’t looking or listening to the words of a dumb stone. “Just fall down you fucking fool!” The stone man spat.

Trust me, Son. Kay’s voice said confidently. Put that bastard on the ropes. Make him block. Switch positions. Its time to strike, Lightning Bolt. It’s time to end all this. David sucked in a fast breath, reacting with electric speed.

“Don’t call me Davey.” He said, air and static and water all flowing through him with renewed vigor. He was the child of the storm that surrounded them. He was Kay Wymond’s son, and he came here to win.

“You fall down, you cheating fuck!” He heard himself shout.

There was a flash of precise energy. Voltage flowed along an unseeable circuit. Maybe the Giant was still waiting on an explanation for how David had known. Maybe he couldn’t understand the fearless charge that had rushed into David’s expression, despite the handicap he had devised. Maybe in David’s narrowed eyes he had seen the flash of electricity that awaited him. It didn’t matter. David twisted through the water, sliding deftly around and behind. His side burned, but the water cooled it. With his better half, he threw a quick series of daggers. The blows landed with heated pops along Titus’s bulging neck. The static noise of the storm grew louder and louder. Titus spun wildly, snapping his body around to face David. His flinty eyes were wide—eyebrows raised. This isn’t how it was supposed to go, he seemed to say. The bright fluorescent lights above the ring illuminated the buzzed edges of Titus’s faint, blonde hair. The ocean of time had robbed Titus of his youth. It had brought him to this point. It had taken away his confidence here, in this very moment. The cords of rope pressed into his rippling back, digging deeply. They strained against his weight–against the heavy stone body.

David could feel it. The tension flowing effortlessly between the groaning ropes and taut muscles of the Giant. Between Titus Grant and the hair-raising crackle of energy above them. Between the storm and the flowing water and deafening rain. Between the inexplicably terrified look in Titus Grant’s eyes and the deft, lethal crack of lightning that was David’s glove. Finally, between the dull red-orange encasing David’s final strike and the deadened impact of it into the Giant’s stony chest.

The tension transformed, piercing the heart of the stone Giant and traveling through him, out along the ropes and down their trembling length to the bolts that, by the Giant’s own scheming hand, had been previously loosened beyond return.

The flowing electric circuit broke along with the final thread of iron that held the top rope tight against the Giant’s back. Then there was nothing. There was only gravity. They were falling. They were sinking down through space to the bottom of the raging sea. Its murky depths encased them, blanketing them as they drew ever lower and deeper.

It was calm here, beneath the stormy surface. It was quiet and hazy. In the shadows were only their two faces, locked in a gaze as they drifted downward. There was no time to speak, and the Giant’s stone eyes sparkled and shone in the fast-fading light. They were wet and shimmering with what seemed to be a sadness deeper than any body of water. They spoke some volume of words in a language that David could not understand. Instead, he looked on, mystified. His eyes looked back in the growing deep with the last dark hues of watery blue-green. He thought of his mother, of the shitty hotel. Of thirteen years gone by. What had he done? What had just happened in a flash of lightning? What had brought he and the Giant here, so far away from the world, together in their lonely descent? The bottom drew near, and the Giant’s eyes were wide.

There was a loud crunch. David’s stomach coiled like a great serpent. His side burned with unearthly fire. He felt his eyelids squeeze shut. He squeezed them harder, as strongly as he could. All became enclosed in blackness with only the grisly echo of breaking bones.

 

—–

 

The sun was bright and warm. Seagulls dove and rose above the surf. Again and again, effortlessly.

David couldn’t see them. His eyes were closed softly against the rays. He heard them, though. Their shrill cries moved through the air, intermixing with the steady crashing of the waves. The ocean lapped the shore somewhere down past David’s feet. His heels pressed down into the hot sand. He imagined the seagulls and their screeching. He visualized their raising and lowering with and against the wind—saw them as great wavelenghts, amplitudes, frequencies. They were small and white-gray and fierce, taming unrestricted air. They crashed down in unison with the water.

“Are you awake?” He heard his mother say. Her voice was bright and strong. Distantly, he pondered a time when it had sounded different. It had been weaker and tired, for some reason. He couldn’t think of when. He could only imagine seagulls.

“Yes,” he mumbled.

David cracked his eyes open into tiny slits, shielding his face with one hand at the same time. The brightness of the world spilled in, regardless. The sand surrounding him was illuminated like millions of diamonds, cast in pale yellow. Overhead, the gray-white seagulls screeched and rose and fell.

“Isn’t that special?” David muttered, squinting. Kay didn’t miss a beat.

“It is! So…I was thinking,” she continued. David didn’t give her a chance to go on.

“Yeah, yeah,” he grumbled. “I’m getting up.”

The sand enveloped him in a shapeless, warm blanket.

“I’m getting crispy, anyway.” The birds swarmed distantly, audience to their conversation.

“Good.” Kay. “We’re gonna go get some ice cream,” she said.

He heard her feet padding off through the endless sand—the last words of her voice fading out against the tireless breeze. They served ice cream from a frail little straw hut at the very end of the pier.

The pier extended for maybe a quarter-mile, nearly, over the ocean. Beneath it, the waves flopped uselessly against the great, heavy pylons. A frank wooden building, complete with rusting tin roof gated the gap between the pier on land and the pier at sea. Feeble, the building withstood the marine winds with the help of its guards. On one side, the Pavilion’s great Ferris Wheel churned the sky like a water-mill, harvesting some unseen force. Down a ways, off center and on the other side of the pier-shack, a huge resort building loomed like a Giant. PAVILION TOWER, it said in large block letters on a billboard. At night, the letters lit up in glowing neon. Blues and reds and oranges. The buildings stood as monuments to the timeless enjoyment of seaside life. To the Pavilion and its grandeur.

 

. . .

 

He hadn’t remembered getting there. Didn’t remember the simultaneously long and short stroll down the wooden planks of the great ocean-dock. He was just there, or rather, he was watching himself be there. Both above himself and within it. People were all around. Grown men and women. Some were fat, gobbling down frozen treats like the world was about to end. Some of them spoke in Yankee accents, transforming vowels into awful, nasally sounds. Children ran about, squalling and fighting like seagulls. David was perched on a red and chrome bar stool, his back to the bar. His mother sat beside him, to his right, facing the pier-full of tourists.

“Look at them.” David said from somewhere far-off, hearing the disdain in his voice. Kay sighed, hearing it too.

“Why do you think they come here, Davey?” Kay said between two big mouthings of ice-cream. Rainbow sherbert blobbed on a waffle-cone. Behind her, a scrawny teenager was shoving cans of soda into a big cooler. They crunched one at a time into the ice.

“Same reason we’re here, I would imagine.” David heard himself say from somewhere far away. Kay looked down the pier, gauming with another mouthful of ice-cream. Her eyes glittered in blues that rivaled the sun-dappled water beneath them.

Crunch. Another can of soda jammed into the ice.

“What reason is that, do you think?” She said. A married couple broke into a jog as their two children started making to climb the wooden rails along the side of the enormous dock. “Get off there!” The mother of the kids shrieked. “There’s sharks in the water! You wanna take a gamble at that, huh?” David laughed at them. He felt his face smiling. Watched himself smile. The moment both was and wasn’t.

“To have fun, Ma.” David said. “Look at ‘em.” He added, reclining against the bar on his stool. The married couple was lively, young. The woman was frantic, but beautiful. Even as she chased down the little kids, dimples shone from her rosy cheeks. Her eyes danced in the sun. He couldn’t remember how, but he knew her. Perhaps from a different time. Time, as it was, didn’t seem to exist anymore. Certainly not here, at the Pavilion, which has somehow found a way to discard any recollection of it.

Crunch.

“S’that why we’re here, David?” Kay said, turning her bright eyes to her son. He watched himself meet her gaze.

“What do you mean?” He said. The heat from the Sun radiated in transparent waves from the hot planks lining the pier. They rose, higher and higher, out of sight. They washed over David’s watching place, high up over himself and his mother.

Crunch.

“It would’ve been nice, wouldn’t it?” She said casually, mucking with a mouthful of melting sherbert. “To have just been tourists. To run after screaming kids and ride the Ferris wheel. To have everything run as smoothly and easily as that big amusement ride.”

Crunch.

“Is that not why we’re here?” David said from his body’s mouth, far down beneath himself. He became tense. It’s not, I know it’s not.

“You already know that, Davey. We’re here because you want to be. We’re having fun because you want to have fun. It’s what we all do: what we want. Some folks will stop at nothing to get where they wanna go.” She smiled. Dazzling. I love you, David caught himself thinking, watching from up high.

“What if I want to always have fun?” He said from far away, beneath the little straw shack at the end of the world. Kay took a bite out of her waffle-cone.

Crunch. Pepsis and Cokes and Mountain Dews were slowly filling up the big cooler.

“Don’t be dumb,” Kay said lightly, but in all seriousness. It was a tone only his mother had mastered. “Sometimes doing what you want means doing other things you don’t want to do. Things that guarantee you get what you want. Like making a reservation at a restaurant or gambling on a fight. Stressful stuff.”

The married couple were practically peeling their kids off of the side of the pier. The father was a hulking man. His bright, beachy shirt was stretched tight over his muscular frame. He called sternly after the children and his wife. Down his back, a blonde ponytail threatened to blow off in the wind. An old man was fishing nearby, discreetly shaking his head. The father saw him, and fixed him with a threatening stare. His eyes were like flint and steel. Solid as a rock.

“Like what?” David said from down below himself, feeling the hard bar stool underneath him. “Got a better example?” He knew she did. She always did.

“Sometimes,” she said, sighing, “you want to get over a cold so that you can feel awake and strong and lively again,” she said. “Follow me so far?”

Crunch.

“Yeah,” he nodded.

“But the best way to do that is to get some rest, as any doctor will tell you. And trust me on that, Davey. I’ve seen my fair share of doctors.”

He knew she had. He thought vaguely of machine-crowded hospital rooms, though he couldn’t recall when or where or why. There was only this moment with his mother.

“Sometimes you have to sleep, first.” Kay said, chomping waffle-cone like a fiend. Kids yelled. Seagulls cried. Tourists coughed and ate and laughed and talked. The married couple—children retreived—walked hand in hand down the pier, following behind the excited youngsters.

Crunch.

“And then what? Go running around like a kid? Like those heathens over there?” David said, half-sarcastically.

“Only if you’re a kid. Some people think they stay young forever.” His mom said, laughing a little between chomps. “First thing first is to wake up. The rest is simple.”

“What’s the rest?” David said. His voice was tiny, as if through a tin can. The waves grew loud and restless against the pylons. The seagull-kids called and called and shrieked and called.

“Oh, David. You wake up, you realize that you’ve gotten what you needed–that you’ve done what you needed to do–and you get your head together. You get back in the game. You keep doing what you want to do. And you put the trials of feeling ill or making reservations or gambling on sports and chance behind you.”

Crunch. Another soda.

David shook his head. He watched himself grin broadly at his mother far below, beneath the little hut. He watched himself order an ice cream. He watched the people all around. The cacophony of their number grew louder and louder. He watched himself hug his mother. She was so young and bright. Strong. The crowd was buzzing with excited noise. They were entertained. The married couple kissed. They were in love.

 

One more soda.

Crunch.

“Rise and shine,” he heard, in his mothers voice. The happy scene beneath him vanished.
David was awake.

 

—–

Pavilion (Part Four)

—–

 

It was time. David parked the car a few blocks down. Up ahead, along the lively strip of Ocean Boulevard, the city was abuzz with people. Bright lights flicked on and off from the various windows, attractions, restaurants. The glowing spokes of an enormous Ferris wheel churned slowly through a darkening sky, flashing its neon colors in all directions. Less than an hour till showtime, David thought to himself. The managers were probably beginning to worry. The idea of them gnawing their fingernails amused him. In the thirteen years since that night, as far as fighting had gone, David had remained mostly silent.

That is, up until the past year. In twelve months David had re-entered the underground scene and defeated exactly six challengers. While his mother slept. While the television flashed its lifeless, artificial glow across her worried forehead and the Pavilion cast myriad neon-highlighter hues through the sky, six men had fallen. Only one remained.

Before—ages ago—this district had been foreign to David. By now, though, the new managers all had Lightning on their tongues. They had heard the news. They had witnessed the other fights. It was the same Lightning a Giant had come along and broken a half-generation prior.

The crowd would be buzzing with energy—rabid, restless. Ready for blood. And there, like before, he’d be standing. Hulking, muscled, blonde hair greasy and tied back into a sickly ponytail.

David shook his head. The absurdity of the thought struck him.

Thirteen years. He thought. The chances of Titus looking anywhere near as strong and fit as he had once been were slim to none. David was approaching forty years old, now. Titus had to be somewhere close, if not farther down the line. Time had a way of weathering a fighter unlike any man could. He’s an old prune, David mused, and fumbled in his coat pocket until his fingers felt the cool cellophane of the cigarette pack.

The lights of the boulevard Pavilion reflected off of every hotel window and store-front. They danced, alien and curious, in the wide-eyes of tourists who photographed and wowed and wound their way between the endless circus like bugs on rotting meat. Another thought crossed David’s mind:

I can’t believe I haven’t seen him in that long.

It was true. Since that night, short of reading the news articles much later, after the hospital, David had never seen or heard about Titus Grant again. Like Daisy, he had disappeared. Far off, children were screaming as a fast-moving, pinwheel-looking amusement ride spun faster and faster.

Or it was me that disappeared.

He packed the Newports roughly against his palm. The sound was inaudible in the din of the Pavilion. David looked out across the sea of strangers. The endless faces that never knew him and never would. All around, the vibrant city embraced them. The city that had destroyed his mother, that had nearly killed him. The city that had trapped every chance of a future dimly between the narrow halls of their run-down hotel. Absently, he recognized the dull sensation of the cigarettes against his palm. The continual thumping. He stopped, lowering his arms limply. He slowed his pace. He stopped walking. All around the city was alive.

They might as well be ghosts. David considered. They might as well never know a thing. And, as he imagined their weightlessness—their pallor and their unreality—the cigarettes grew heavier and heavier in his hand. He looked down at the sparkling sidewalk.

The city is alive, and I am dead. He thought. For a moment, his mind lingered on the notion. On the possibility that perhaps, maybe, he had never escaped the arena that night. That no hospital was able to save him from the Giant’s crushing blows. Then he heard it. It was quiet at first—barely noticeable above the carnival noise of the seaside town. But it grew louder and louder until it drowned out the whole ocean of sound and light and faces that surrounded him.

It was his heartbeat.

Solid and heavy. Hard and strong.

I’m ready. He thought, likening the rhythm to a war drum. Thirty minutes. He considered. Time for a smoke.

 

—–

 

“For fuck’s sake, Titus, did you kill him?” Daisy said in a screech.

The huge man in front of her seemed to shrink with her scolding.

“No, he lived. They took him to North Shore Emergency. That’s what Dan said.” he said in a grumble, his voice wavering slightly. “I didn’t know it would cause that much damage,” he muttered pitifully. “He just wouldn’t fall down.”

Daisy’s eyes narrowed. “Was that something else Dan told you?” She said in a voice like a razor blade. “He’s a pathetic excuse for a manager.”

The Giant Titus said nothing for a time. Daisy smoked a long cigarette with renewed vigor, averting her sparkling eyes from the huge man who kept growing smaller in front of her.

“He’s alive.” Titus finally managed. “He’ll live. And we can do what we want.” He added. Daisy didn’t look at him. She sucked down long drags of nicotine.

“You should quit that smoking, too.” Titus added. Daisy snapped her eyes back to the deep creases of The Giant’s face. Scowling.

“Advice from a murderer?” She said, coldly. Titus set his jaw. “I’m out on a limb here, with you. It’s enough that Kay will feel my knife in her back from now till kingdom come, but if her fucking kid dies…oh Jesus, it was just a little lead. It was supposed to add some extra strength to your punches, not become the equivalent of a cinder block! You didn’t have to smash him up like glass, Titus.”

“I’m not a murderer.” He said in a voice of granite. “He’s alive. And you need to quit that stupid fucking habit before you start showing.” His voice rumbled out like a great earthquake. He stretched a broad hand, palm-first and opened wide, to Daisy’s stomach. “If Kay notices you’re pregnant…” He started to say. She exhaled a puff of smoke, her scowl dropping uselessly from her face.

“She won’t. I won’t be showing for weeks yet. Plenty of time. Besides, she won’t see me again.” Her eyes sparkled dangerously in the hallway. She inhaled a few long breaths. “He’s not dead?” She said, sounding more like a young girl than a grown woman.

“No.” Titus was solid.

“Good,” Daisy said, exhaling in a dainty sigh. “Because if he dies, I’ll kill you next. With my own lead-weighted gloves. I only agreed to this method because it was short and sweet,” she added. “Not because I wanted it to be lethal.”

Titus brushed a massive hand through his blonde hair. “I know, I know.” He said softly, reaching down to stroke her rosy cheek. “I stopped as soon as I knew it was over.”

Daisy took another long drag, hanging her head. Time passed infinitely in this way. It was just the two of them. Finally, she lifted her gaze back up, looking Titus squarely in the eye.

“What if he comes back?” She said. Her voice wavered. “What if he comes back and tries to square the whole deal? What if Kay finds out?” She was a nervous wreck. After all, the fight hadn’t left Titus Grant without a few cuts and bruises of his own. “The Lightning” had certainly left a mark.

“What if?” Titus said. “I don’t think he will,” he concluded.

“What if?” Daisy mimed, dropping her cigarette on the cold floor. “What if he comes to try?” She held her small, pale hand over her stomach. Titus winced, feeling the lead weight of all that they had wagered. Knowing that Daisy had sacrificed a friendship for him. For their child.

He’d met Daisy when they were young. They had been friends, then confidants, then lovers. Later, when she was older, she would take time off from her factory job out of town to visit. One day, the little pink lines on a pregnancy test had determined their necessary future. Carefully, slowly, they came up with a plan.

The sun had beamed down on them as they strolled the pier, when Daisy suggested that Titus quit fighting. That they leave town together and never look back. Titus merely smiled his broad, beastly grin at her.

“The bookies would have me hunted down, beautiful.” He’d told her. “After they got through with you, that is.” His grin failed him. Daisy looked as if she might faint. The Giant had wrapped her in his massive arms, holding her steady in the salty air. “Come on,” he told her, cheerfully. “Let’s go get some ice cream. Baby’s gotta eat.” Daisy’s dimples appeared, and she smiled back at him. They kissed and walked on toward the little straw hut where teenagers sold frozen treats from sun-up to sun-down.

But now, there was only this dark moment in the empty hallway. Only the question of what might become of David Wymond.

“Then we take care of him,” Titus said, standing like a mountain in the shadows. Somewhere David was laying in limbo on a hospital bed. “Once and for all.”

Daisy’s eyes grew wider with worry. Titus stroked her cheek—ran his finger through a few strands of her shining hair. “If not, it will have all been for nothing, beautiful. We can’t chance him knowing anything about us. He could expose us, destroy our family. Right now he’s got a chance.” He said softly. “But if he doesn’t take it for what its worth. If he comes back…” The darkness of their solitude was wrapping around them like a great, constricting snake. “Then it’s the only way.”

 

—–

Pavilion (Part Three)

—–

 

Somewhere out in space, a satellite with a brightly colored “Quik-Mart” logo was beaming music at the speed of sound to the otherwise sterile, standard gas station. It was stocked with the same appallingly unchanging list of goods and products: salted peanuts, variously flavored potato chips, overpriced batteries and loaves of bread. Beverages ranged in four categories: syrup, juice/dairy, booze, and water. Predetermined songs found their way through an array of speakers in the drop-ceiling, showering the inside with sounds that had been deemed appropriate for “quik” customers.

A fine, drizzling mist had descended, coating the tall windows and blurring the three-word advertisements for coffee and honey buns and beer that populated the glass.

David was alone in the parking lot, except for the waterlogged car that must’ve belonged to the clerk inside. He sat behind the wheel of the beat-up sportster, watching the wipers streak back and forth. Though the fight wasn’t for another three hours, each mechanical swipe across the windshield ate up minutes by the handful. They passed by in droves under the unforgiving green-glow of the dashboard clock.

After an infinite span of drizzle, David opened the door, sloshed across the oily puddles in the lot, and went inside. The door chimed. The clerk didn’t bother to look up. She was fat and greasy looking, hair in a grotesque pink scrunchie, and perched dangerously atop a wooden stool. She stared aimlessly into the pages of what appeared to be a fashion magazine. Stray bits of hair that had escaped the scrunchie’s death grip obscured most of her face. The dumb satellite music serenaded the interior with sounds from over a decade ago. Electric guitars and sharp treble.

“Miss?” David said. She didn’t answer, licked her finger lazily, and flipped a glossy page. “Nevermind,” he mumbled, catching sight of the large arrow pointing toward “Rest Rooms.” His wet shoes squeaked across the polished floors. The two doors in the hallway were labeled poorly in what appeared to be black, permanent marker. MARS was at the far end, just past VENUS.

He closed and bolted the door to the more distant planet behind him. A stained sink, weary looking commode, and scratched up mirror were installed ingloriously, having weathered god-knows how many years of excrement, filth, and sick. Despite the acrid smell of piss-covered floor tiles, David was alone. Not in the buzz of traffic or the noisy thick of the run-down apartment. Not tending to his mother’s sadness. Not being ordered about at a stupid day-job, bossed by various managers. Not knocking out another young punk in the ring. It was just him. In the past thirteen years, this had become a rarity. Even the goofy, uninspired satellite music didn’t penetrate the door to Mars. Only white, empty walls and the quiet hum of florescent lights.

He relieved himself, not bothering to touch the questionable flusher handle, and turned to the mirror. His reflection—the room’s other occupant—stared back at him curiously from a parallel bathroom behind the glass.

Nearly thirteen years ago, he had stopped at this same store for the same reason he had stopped this night. He had stared at himself in the same mirror and looked upon the same face. Only then, the face was younger, brighter. It had been filled with a different type of resolve. It had been one filled with more ambition…with more hope. It was a face that looked less angry and more confident. That looked less tired and more fierce. A face who’s nose hadn’t yet been smashed to bits. More than anything, it had been a face that never anticipated seeing itself—gray and harsh—considering thirteen years of time gone by. Had never anticipated a future in which the exact same moment that had brought it there, then, had brought it back, staring at itself, now.

“Look at you,” David said to the man. To the other him. “What do you intend to prove, huh? After all this time? What can you do now that you couldn’t do then? Take him down? Bring down the big-guy? Take the gold and make everything right again? Win the fight everybody bet on you for?”

He shook his head, sending a few stray drops of the drizzle from outside splattering against the scratched glass. His hands were rough and calloused from years of labor. Years of fighting. His knuckles were red and hard, having gone from the fists of a fighter to fists that tiredly clutched harsh metal tools—hammers and cutters and electric drills, lumber and stacks of shingles—and finally, had decided to fight again. They had endured the slow grinding down of flesh and will, transforming as they were needed, clawing their way through the years gone by. Doing what had to be done.

His hard fingers twisted the “cold” knob on the sink, sending a stream of sulphur-smelling water spiraling down the drain.

Thirteen years ago he had looked back up, set his jaw, and said the name aloud.

“Titus Grant.” The bookies had made sure that David would fight him. He was the champion. He was strong, powerful, dangerous. He was twice David’s size, too. Back then, underground fights were not like they had become. There were no regulations on weight class or on skill. Things hadn’t been as hush-hush either, even for “underground” fighting. Things were supposed to have been easier, then. It had all been a gamble. But David was one of the fastest and toughest, if not the biggest. He was confident. Kay and Daisy were confident. He was ready, or so he had thought long ago, before “The Giant” smashed the majority of his ribs, broke his nose, shattered his collarbone, displaced three vertebrae, and ended his career. There had been no way of knowing, though, and his younger self had walked coolly from the inside of MARS back to the counter and asked the clerk for a pack of Newports.

Until after that night, David had attributed his luck to a private tradition: buy a pack, smoke one in the hour before the fight, and throw the rest away. Daisy’s cigarette habit had worn off on him, it seemed. A lot about Daisy had affected him and his mother of the years.

Now, the foul smelling water bubbled sickeningly down the aged sink, disappearing into some unseeable pit of waste. He thought of Daisy and her cigarettes being washed down the black hole and through the dirty p-trap and out to a septic sea, sploshing out of the slimy, crusted end of a huge drain pipe. He dismissed the thought, looking back into the mirror.

“Can you do it?” He said quietly, barely audible over the gurgling water. “Can you take him down?” His dark eyes searched themselves. Over a decade of suffering flashed beneath his pupils, narrowed by the harsh white light. “You’re damn skippy.” He said.

 

At the counter, the clerk looked up slowly from her magazine, resembling a cow studying an approaching farmer. She hadn’t attempted to say anything before, so David spoke without waiting.

“Pack of Newports,” he said. “Short ones, soft pack, please.” He said.

The girl grabbed a pack from the overhead rack with a grubby, pale hand and flopped it between the two of them.

“I know you,” she said, pressing a few buttons.

“Yeah?” David said, not bothering to sound too interested, and opened his wallet.

“Yeah,” she said defiantly. “You’re a fighter. I saw you get beat up when I was little.”

“Hate you saw that,” David said in a low voice, fumbling for a ten. “I don’t remember it.”

“Yeah, well I do.” She said. “It was bad. You got the shit beat outta you. You still fight?” She added, looking up from her greasy hair. David met her gaze. Her eyes were dark brown and reflected back the overall glow of the station.

“I didn’t,” he said. “But I had a lot of healing to do.”
“I bet,” she said. “So are you going back? To fight again, I mean.” She punched some numbers and made change for the ten without looking.

“Yes,” David said, unsure of his own voice. He said it again to hear it. “Yes, I am. Tonight.”

“No shit,” said the girl in mock amazement. “Better wear a helmet, Boxer.” She smiled, revealing the dimples of a second chin and amazingly white, straight teeth. “Who ya fighting?” She added casually, dropping the ten into the drawer and closing it with a click.

“Another old guy,” David said and, surprising himself, let out a little laugh.

“You don’t look that old,” the girl said, looking back down at the magazine. “I was wondering what his name was. I know you’re David ‘The Lightning’ Wymond. I read it in a magazine.” Her dimples were both endearing and repulsive. Familiar.

David laughed again, ignoring the folds of her neck. “Yeah that’s me. Or, was. I’m probably pretty slow compared to then.”

The girl looked back up, blue eyes scanning him. “You don’t look slow to me. I bet you can take on whoever it is.” She nodded, as if confirming the belief for both of them. “Who is it?” She said.

Just a man. David thought.

“Titus Grant.” He said. His smile disappeared. Turning, he squeaked across the sterile tiles, tucking the Newports into his pocket, and slipped away darkly into the persistent mist.

Behind him, the fashion magazine fell flatly to the floor.

 

—–

 

“Alright, here’s the deal,” Daisy said in a half-whisper, pausing to light a long white cigarette with a noisy clink from her Zippo. David and Kay leaned in close.

“It’s a bit of a haul,” Daisy continued, “and even more, its a big chance. But we all know that David is an excellent fighter. Right, David?”

He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, reopening them slowly as his cheeks flushed red. She had a knack for being obscenely flattering. It was something he had noticed over the course of her friendship with his mother.

“I, uh….well–” he began, but Kay cut him off.

“Of course he is!” She said loudly. A few patrons at the bar glanced over their shoulders from their stools. David rolled his eyes. Get to the point, he thought.

“Hush, hush!” Daisy hissed in a not-so-whispering sound. “Of course he is,” she said confidently.

David held up a finger, and opened his mouth to speak.

“Just listen, Davey,” Daisy interrupted.

“Don’t call me that,” he muttered. Daisy heaved an overly dramatic sigh. The patrons at the bar turned back around in favor of a baseball game on a large television.

David,” she said sarcastically. “We all know you’re one of the best. You’ve gone through nearly fifteen fights in the past couple years and won every single one of them except one.”

She was right, of course. It was only after the first three fights that the underground clubs bestowed him with his nickname.

“I mean,” Daisy said, batting her eyes emphatically, “they don’t call you The Lightning for nothing. Of the fourteen fights you’ve won, you won nearly every one of them within the first round. And the one you lost was only because you had that cold.”

Kay nodded. “You shouldn’t have gone. He nearly killed you, that guy.” She said in a worrisome tone that only his mother could genuinely achieve. If Daisy had a knack for flattery, his mother had a knack for guilt.

“He didn’t come close,” David said flatly. “I pretty much let him win.” There at the bar, David had not yet known the level of defeat the future would bring. At that point, his only loss was barely a scratch against his record.

“Yeah, well tell that to the bookies.” Daisy said matter-of-factly.

Daisy!” Kay said, hushed. David raised an eyebrow.

“Bookies?” He said, looking Daisy square in her bright, dancing eyes. She seemed halfway between thrilled and terrified.

Daisy shook her head, looking down at the table. Her long, painted nails rapped back and forth, from pinky to index finger. Behind them, the resounding crack of a baseball bat set several of the more enthusiastic patrons into a drunken cheer. Daisy looked back up, realizing that David had not broken eye contact.

“Yes,” she said. “Bookies.” Kay drew in a sharp breath. Turning his head slowly toward his mother, the understanding sunk in. He looked to her, but she averted her eyes. “Now, David–” Daisy began.

“No, no,” David said, shaking his head. “Mom, were you in on this?” His voice departed from the whisper they had maintained, but the patrons were still celebrating the last batter and failed to overhear.

“I didn’t support it, David. You should know that. I was perfectly content with the winnings from the managers.” She lingered for a moment, then made to speak again, but Daisy cut in.

“David, it was my idea,” she said calmly, negotiating. “Your Mom was entirely against it. Well she was, until I pulled it off for us. It was only a small wager, anyway.” She smiled broadly, spreading both her palms. How she shifted between looking like a teenager and a casino-gambling shark had always amazed David. Something about those dimples and those gallantly parading eyes.

Pulled it off?” David said, looking back into Daisy’s glowing smile, her rosy, Shirley Temple cheeks.

“I got us double what the managers would have doled out.” She said boldly, straightening her shoulders and lifting her chin. Her eyes positively celebrated. “Without it we wouldn’t have managed the bills that Christmas.”

“You mean the year we took you on as a house-mate?” David said sharply, continuing before Daisy could reply. “I thought you said you got a bonus for the holiday, anyway.” He said, turning his attention back to his mother.

“Well,” Kay said innocently. “I lied. I had to do something or we would’ve been out on our ass. They never gave anybody bonuses at that plant, anyhow. Bastards. Had it not been for Dais—”

“Mom,” David said stonily. “Mom that’s not fair. You can’t use me like–” he paused, his eyes becoming distant. His forehead scrunched into a series of grave lines. “Was it only once?” He said, hushing his voice. Daisy made a tiny noise, and David flashed a dangerous look at her.

“It was supposed to be,” Kay said, her eyes beaming rays of desperation. “Which is why we brought you here to talk.”

David fixed his sights back on Daisy, who deflated as he spoke.

“You bet on me when I was sick, didn’t you?” He said loudly. A loud crack of a baseball bat initiated another round of cheers behind him. “Didn’t you, Daisy? That’s why we’re in shit-stew again. Is that it?”

She squirmed in her seat like a worm on a fish-hook. Her dimples appeared to be writhing.

“I finalized the gamble with the bookies before you ever got sick, David. You have to know that. They wouldn’t let me back out or even reduce the stakes. We had already been matched by the others betting on your competition. It was the least I could do to hold the table. One of them caught wind you were ill and wanted to push us out of the entire bet. We’d have lost the whole investment. It took everything to get them to stay. David,” Daisy sighed in a drawn, tired voice. She sounded like a beggar. “You have to understand. The chance we’re taking…what’s at stake? You have to realize the position we’re in.” Her eyes sparkled and shone. Bitch, David thought. Whore.

He looked down. The amber bubbles of his beer collected in tiny clusters and popped quietly along the edges of his glass. Daisy had been so kind as to buy him a drink, but didn’t bother to get herself one. She had quit drinking the past few weeks. “Don’t wanna ruin my figure,” she had chided, when David called her “lame.” She had seemed excited and anxious as they waited on Kay to arrive.

“I know the position we’re in,” David said dully, not bothering to look up. “We’re flat broke. And now I know why. Because of that fight. My last fight. You and Mom gambled behind my back and now we’re all in deep shit. All because I wasn’t “The Lightning” you were counting on. A dumb gamble.”

“David, please.” Kay said reassuringly. “It wasn’t your fault. In all fairness you wore the boy out. Six rounds with a cold? You’re better than lightning, son.” David snapped his attention back to his Mother.

“Don’t patronize me, Mom. You should have said something. You should have given me some idea what was at stake.” His voice was like stone. Unflinching.

“Why do you think we’re here?” Daisy interrupted softly. “Hm? Because there’s a chance to solve all of this. And we already knew none of it was fair, so this time we’re laying out the stakes for you. Take it or leave it, David, but this is our best chance of getting out of this mess and getting our shit back in order. You’re not sick this time and you won’t be.”

“How do you know that, huh? Like you did last time?”

“No, no,” Daisy said, laughing in a way befitting a harpie. David imagined her with scales instead of skin. He thought of dark, bat-like wings growing from her back. She continued in confidence. “Because the fight’s in two days. And because we’ve scouted your competition. And because we have just enough money left to make the drive there. And because we bought you a box of alka-seltzer and vitamin C. Gotta think ahead, you know.” She grinned, revealing her perfect white teeth, her little-girl-dimples. That smile that beguiled and enticed. The same one that had won Kay over those years ago.

“Daisy,” David said. “You make it sound like I have a choice.”

“Of course you have a choice,” said Kay. “I can always go back to work at the plant. We can find you a full-time job. I can make some calls. There’s always an option.”

David looked down into his beer, listening to the announcers champion the ball-players on the big TV behind him. His eyes scanned the rough grain of the round table, taking in the delicate tapping of Daisy’s nails, the antsy shifting of his mother on the hard, wooden chair. Imagining those sickly dimples.

“You’re not going back to that plant,” he said finally, not bothering to look up. “I won’t have it. If you got hurt they wouldn’t give a shit.” He said. “So if that’s my option its no option at all.”

He took a sip of drink quietly. No one spoke for several minutes. One of the patrons behind them let out a grotesque sigh as the announcer deemed an unlucky runner as “OUTTA HERE!”. Finally he looked up, first to his mother, who’s face was contorted in a grotesque pause, then to Daisy, who’s eyes flickered like candles. Like a kid in a candy store, he thought.

“What’s the gain?” He said in a monotone. Daisy answered without hesitation.

“Four times what we’re used to.” A knot cinched itself neatly into David’s stomach.

Four?” He mouthed.

“Four.” Daisy said like a judge. Kay remained silent, watching her son and her best friend.

“Just imagine how much we could fix. How much we could–” she said, but David already knew. He saw the greedy look in her absurdly bright eyes. Only one other question came to his mind.

“Who’s the guy?” He said. Daisy quit clicking her nails and leaned forward so close she could’ve taken a sip of his drink.

“You’re the challenger,” she said. “Which makes you winning extremely valuable. This guy is undefeated locally, and has a lot of supporters. A lot with money. He’s big, he’s strong, but he’s slow as dirt. The guys in my circle know you’ve got speed on him by at least twice as much. We could walk away champions, and never go back.” She said.

“The guy.” David demanded, sliding his drink closer to his chest, wondering just how many “guys in her circle” there were. Considering how skin-deep her beauty might have been. Whore, he thought again.

“He’s down by the coast. Part of the underground circuit there. They call him The Giant. Heard of him?”

“Titus?” David said. “Titus Grant?”

“That’s him,” Daisy said. “You can beat him, can’t you?” She smiled her charming, harpie smile.

“Like a steak before dinner,” David said, grinning.

“I’m counting on it,” Daisy said, leaning back. “We leave tomorrow.”

“Where on the coast?” said David.

“The Pavilion,” Kay answered. “It should be a lot of fun. I know a cheap place we can stay. Daisy helped me find it. She used to vacation near there when she was a girl. I’m glad you’re okay with this, Son.”

David took another sip of beer. He wasn’t sure just how “okay with it” he might be. The sweet lager washed over his tongue, sweet and grainy and cold.

“Did you already place the bet?” David asked, looking deeply into Daisy’s eyes, which were absolutely ablaze at this point. He knew she had. He could tell.

This is my plan, those parading eyeballs answered, boasting. “What can I say?” She cooed in a half-laugh, half-mocking seriousness. “I took a gamble.”

David laughed, and swallowed down the last few sips of drink in one gulp.

Behind them, the baseball game played on, with the opposing team finally up for bat.

—–

Pavilion (Part Two)

—–

 

The TV’s ethereal glow lit up the stark lines on her face. Her eyelids were thin and closed. He considered waking her, but it would only cause confusion. Her mind was not as it had once been.

Better she rest, he thought, grabbing his car keys from the hook by the door. Quietly, he slid the chain from its lock. She stirred briefly, the bright blue of her eyes hidden in a dream. Somewhere far away. I hope its a nice day on the beach, David caught himself hoping for her. Her mind had slipped away from so much, after everything. It was something David had carried around in the pit of his stomach for nearly thirteen years. Her decline into…into THIS.

“Can I buy a vowel?” Blurted a man on the television.

“Of course!” said Sajak.

“E!” He yelled.

“E for eardrums,” David mumbled, walking back to the table beside her chair. He picked up the remote and turned the volume down to an indecipherable mutter. Turning to leave, his fingers touched the metal of the doorknob. The tiniest bolt of static shot forth, shocking him.

“Shit!” He spat. The woman stirred again, and the glowing red-blue-green cast shadows through her graying hair. Once dark and pulled tightly into curls and ringlets, it had become wiry and erratic over time. Her forehead grew wrinkles upon wrinkles. She had become much older than she ever deserved.

“David!” She said, high and worried. Her voice came from some far away dream-land.

He scanned her face. Her eyes were still closed, brows cinched together.

“What is it, Ma?” He answered softly. Through the thin walls of the crumbling building, the sounds of other televisions made a tiny cacophony together—their vibrations threatening to dislodge more of the failing plaster.

“Are you awake?” She said, distantly. He looked over her. Once she had been so excited to find the dingy hotel. To take a gamble on a new life. If only she’d known that she was never to leave. That she and David would still be there, confined by electric noise and threadbare blankets. Her smooth skin had become paper-white and just as frail.

“Yes, Ma. I gotta go.” He answered, turning his eyes down to the floor. Looking at her was difficult. It was never supposed to have become like this. They had come as three. Now it was only the two of them.

David thought briefly of Daisy’s girlish dimples. Bitch, he thought.

“My lightning bolt,” Kay murmured. “Don’t let ‘em pin you down.” Her voice faded off.

I won’t, Ma. He thought, feeling heavy.

Her chair was surrounded by various forms of paper. It had started years ago with the newspaper clippings from the fight. Headlines like “GIANT STOPS THE LIGHTNING BOLT” began to encircle her. Then it grew to empty food wrappers and envelopes. Bills from the hospital, the tax office, the insurance companies. They accumulated like fire ants seeking flesh.

 

—–

 

When Daisy had vanished, something slowly began to change in David’s mother. Until that point, Kay had managed to maintain the notion that there was a fair explanation. Hope lingered in her expression during those fleeting times. She kept herself whole after the fight. After the hospital and the chaos and getting back to the run-down room full of nothing. After the phone calls. After the enormous medical bills and after trying again and again to find Daisy. To know where she had gone. To not suddenly be here, alone, with a near-dead son and a missing member of her covenant.

“She just got separated during the chaos,” she had said. “She’ll be turning up any minute now.”

She squeezed David’s hand from the bedside. The monitors beeped and clicked. He was too doped on the pain meds to manage a response. Having fractured ribs and displaced vertebrae was not something quickly or easily mended.

“After all…well, after all that mess…she ought to know that this is where we’d have ended up.”

 

A nurse poked her head in the door.

“Everything okay, Ms. Wymond?” She said. Young. Energetic. Cheery. David had lain before her in shambles—a mother’s son—and she dared sparkle like a star.

“It will be, I’m sure,” she said in a razor’s edge. But, though her tone was sharp, her eyes faltered, highlighting her dismay. The nurse didn’t fail to notice.

She took a half step into the doorway. Her voice dropped, quiet and somber.

“If you need anything, Ms. Wymond. Anything at all, you just press that red button on the bedrail,” she said.

Kay narrowed her eyes. The nurse’s puke-green scrubs practically glowed under the fluorescence of the cold building.

“I know how to press a button,” she said flatly. Her eyebrows hardened.

“I’m serious,” the nurse said in a small, earnest plea. “I’ve got everyone out there’s attention on this room. They all know who your son is. They all want the best.” She attempted a small smile.

“I appreciate your patronage,” Kay said coldly. “But, unless you have a child, … your child laying in front of you…” Her voice wavered. She tried to clear her throat, rather unsuccessfully. “Broken. You don’t understand.”

 

The young girl brushed a few blonde strands of hair back behind her ear. Her tiny frame grew smaller, as she looked down at the pale floor tiles.

“Do you have any children?” David’s mother said caustically.

The nurse looked back up, withdrawn.

“No,” she muttered. “I don’t.”

Above them, the electric white of the always-burning, gas-filled bulbs hummed quietly. Constant. Pervading.

“Exactly,” Kay said stonily.

One of the monitors made a louder beep than usual, its oddly moving line jumping up and down. Kay’s eyes flashed to the screen. An orange icon lit up in the corner and started blinking rapidly.

“What is that?” Kay said, her voice changing from stone to a worrying wind.

The nurse cleared her throat with a dainty cough.

“Ms. Wymond, that’s an EEG. It’s monitoring his vitals. The icon just shows that its time for the nurse, well, me, to change out the fluid in that bag, there.” She pointed to a bag of clear fluid hanging from a stand of metal hooks. Her nails were cut short and plain, and her fingers were slender and delicate. “You needn’t worry,” she added.

“Well, change it then!” Kay snapped. The young, blonde nurse froze for a moment. Her blue eyes danced curiously in their sockets. She unfroze, scrunching up her forehead and throwing her hand on her hip.

“Listen,” said the nurse, beaming with youthful light. “I may not know what it is like to have children. You may be right about that. And I know for a fact,” she said, her voice gaining momentum, “that I don’t and won’t ever know what its like to be in someone else’s shoes.”

Kay’s worry again began to give way to anger, but the girl continued.

“But, in the same way, no one else will ever know what its like to wear mine.” Her shoes were clean, white sneakers. Small but planted firmly.

“Sometimes, Ms. Wymond, you have to put your trust in strange people. You never know for certain how your path and my path may have come to cross. You see, Ms. Wymond…Kay, can I call you Kay?”

David’s mother was too drawn back by the little frail blonde to come up with a response. She had trusted Daisy, after all, and where was her response? The nurse offered no chance for responses, anyway.

“Tonight, I was technically off of work, Kay. I was two tiers down an on-call list, and pretty much had my night set. My husband and I had tickets, you see. Tickets to a fight. Do you understand why I’m here? Do you understand why I want to just…just let you know…that we are all looking out for your son?”

Kay’s heart sunk, falling deeply and darkly to somewhere far away. She closed her eyes. Her head swam in smoky circles. This girl, she thought. She saw them beat my boy. She saw it. She was there. Water was rushing from some unseen tap toward her head. She could feel the edges of tears forming along her eyelids. Taking a deep breath, she cleared her thoughts and opened her eyes, letting the luminous, sterile lights of the hospital room come back to her.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t know.”

The nurse smiled. Radiant.

“It’s okay. I didn’t know you were there either. Do you always go?”

Kay sniffed, wiping her eyes and nodding, and mouthed the word “yes.”

“It was awful,” she heard herself choke out.

“It was,” said the blonde. “Some of them out there heard on the radio, some of them heard from friends. It was a spectacle on the local talk show. There’s just no way,” the nurse said, shaking her head, sending the ear-trapped curls back into disarray. “There’s no way that a man can do that much damage with his fists alone. We all know something was wrong with how it happened. It looked wrong from the beginning.”

Kay stammered. “He just…he just, beat him! Just beat him and broke him and crushed him! I was sick. I’m still sick!” She was shaking her head, sending her dark curls bouncing and springing. “Something isn’t right with this. My boy is better than that. My boy doesn’t deserve that…” Kay trailed off, hanging her head, feeling as if her stomach might turn at any moment.

“It will get better. We know what to do,” the nurse said matter-of-factly.

Kay looked up wearily, wiping both of her hands through the corners of her eyes. She sniffed a deep breath of the stale, recycled air. Then she nodded, her dark hair shining.

“You fix him,” she said softly. “You’re a good girl. You fix my boy.”

Monitors beeped. The nurse changed the IV bag. The lights glowed perpetually white, in stark contrast to the multicolored, neon Pavilion that had damned Kay’s son. Kay’s son, David, who remained somewhere far away, much like a dream, where the sounds of his mother’s voice were drifting in as if on rolls of distant thunder.

I’m gonna be okay, he was thinking back at her. I’m gonna be fine, Ma. Kay looked at David, bandaged and unconscious. He was strong. Even laying there she could hear his strength in each machine-assisted breath.

“He’s gonna be fine, you know.” Kay said to no one in particular, looking down at the sickly tile floor. She thought of David smiling in the sun. She thought of Daisy, vanishing somewhere deep in the Pavilion’s hidden corners. The nurse smiled, turning away from her patient and looking again at his mother.

“I think so, too.” She said, answering the dark-haired mother who’s anger and worry and love had transformed into something that more resembled a storm-cloud than a person.

 

—–

Pavilion (part one)

Pavilion

(a story about fighting, gambling, dreams, sickness, health, justice, and general purgatory)
copyright, 2014, Joshua Floyd

pavilion

—–

“Oh my God, we’re never gonna get there.” said Kay. Her eyes scanned frantically back and forth across the four-lane intersection. Cars zoomed by in both directions. Innumerable faces with the same wild, wide eyes. Strangers.

Her eyes were blue, bright, worried. Her hair was dark and hung taut and curly down her neck. She turned her head back and forth, and the coastal sunlight bounced away brightly from her small earrings.

The engine of the little red sportster idled roughly, impatient. It growled long and slow at the matching red glow of the ever-lasting traffic light. Its dented panels grew hot and uncomfortable.

 

“I don’t think we’re goin’ the right way,” said Kay in a rather hopelessly.

“I know we’re not,” came from the backseat. “You’re in the straight lane and you need to turn right…but its too late now, you’re stuck.” The deeper voice scolded her.

“Shut up, son. I brought you into this world and I will take you right out of it.” Kay said mockingly, turning her eyes to the young man’s reflected in the rear mirror. They shone back at her, darker and more laced with green than their mother’s.

“Don’t give me that look, Ma. I’m just tellin’ you you’re goin’ the wrong way.”

Cars whizzed by. The traffic signal hung heavy from the lines. The red sportster’s radio was quiet and indecipherable behind the growling engine.

“Don’t be so mean, David. I mean look at all these damn people,” Daisy chimed in from the passenger seat. She smiled as she spoke, revealing tiny, youthful dimples. “Give your Mom a break. We might get smashed on the way across any second.” She giggled nervously, and her brown eyes danced coolly in their sockets.

“Thank you, Daisy,” Kay seethed sarcastically. “Now quit your backseat driving, boy. Don’t make me come back there.”

David smiled. The traffic moved like an endless serpent.

“Don’t do it while you’re crossing that deadly intersection,” he said.

“Oh I will,” his mother chided. “Just you wait.”
Daisy composed her smile into her best faux-serious face.

“She will,” she said solemnly. “She’s crazy. Totally.”

“Bad start to a vacation,” Kay warned. Her eyes narrowed to devious slits in the mirror. David squinted his back. Voices with no mouths. Another vehicle flew by, directly in front, letting off a ringing blast of its horn. All three jumped, turning their sights back to the chaotic stream of vehicles. The light turned green.

“You’re going the wrong way,” David muttered as the car’s engine snarled, grabbed gear, and shuddered across the intersection with the other faces of strangers. His mother’s earrings made tiny clinking noises against themselves. Daisy’s anxious, beguiling smile hid just underneath her shining eyes. Apprehension and excitement intermingled in unknowable ways as the sportster crossed the parted sea of traffic, bearing its three souls.

 

They traveled as a covenant. Since Kay had met Daisy, she had regained a sense of daring and adventure that, prior, she felt had escaped her. Something about the desperation of late thirties turning quickly toward forties had a dangerous edge to it. In one instance, it could spur a person into renewed vigor; in another, it could send them inexorably down a spiraling decay. Kay had always seen it as a coin toss.

Then, on a single dreary day in her mundane factory job, Daisy had changed everything. She had opened a door to friendship and youth. She was beautiful, and Kay loved her for it. They hit it off immediately, sneaking smoke breaks together, quietly insulting the inferior state of things. They drank together on the weekends. David hadn’t been old enough to join them, but was always good at taking care of himself. Over the years, the three of them had become like family. Daisy filled the gap where David’s absent father should have been. Though she hadn’t raised David as a child, she was fond of him. She had never had a child of her own, and, instead, used Kay as her guide to maternal feelings. She would shake her head in theatrical-mock-amazement at the entire concept.

“There’s no way I could imagine birthing someone with a head that big!” She had said. David would scowl at her—not more than a sulky teenager—and she would poke fun. “Being pregnant with a head that big would ruin my figure!”

She grew quite attached to the sense of family that Kay and David brought. She saw Kay’s strength. She saw the beauty of futures—of potential—in David’s dark, blue-green eyes.

When Daisy had said that they could escape the factory, Kay was cautious, but excited. Excited more than anything. It could mean a new life for all of them. Daisy had mentioned coming to the beach as a young girl. The Pavilion was her daydream of beauty and hope. Her beauty beguiled Kay—persuaded her. She invited Daisy into her and David’s lives fully—enticed by a sense of trust and power that came only from gods and devils.

“With his skills,” she had said to Kay, under her breath, so long ago, “I know we could finally shake things up. We could start a new life. Us three.”

“What about your boyfriend?” Kay had said, sounding both curious and scared. For a minute, she wasn’t sure why. She had never met the fellow. She and Daisy had done their fair share of partying together, but whenever Kay had tried to bring up the subject of her sweetheart, Daisy had bashfully declined to go into much detail. Kay chalked it up to the dramatic cliches of being young. Besides, girl time was girl time. Kay left the worrying about men to Daisy. All it had ever gotten her was David, and that was more than good enough.

“What about him?” Daisy replied, flicking down a cigarette butt. “Sometimes you have to cut loose the dead weight and make a break for it.” Her eyes were like little stars, sparkling in the dim light of the factory break-room.

Kind of cruel, Kay thought. Rock on.
“I’m in,” she had said, feeling like a genuine rebel. Her son’s fighting spirit, after all, had not come from anything in the order of the Y chromosome.

 

After another hour had passed, and a stop for gasoline and a roadmap that turned out to be nothing more than a poster on the wall of the station (and couldn’t be taken away with), the sportster was again idling.

“Ma,” David said. “This is the same intersection.”

Daisy immediately began laughing, nodding her head.

“No its not!” Kay said shrilly. “No way!”
“Yes, way.” David said flatly. “Look over across the other side. That’s where we were an hour ago.”

Daisy’s laugh rung about maniacally.

“Shut up, Daisy,” Kay spat, then let out a small laugh herself. David’s face cracked into a smile.

“I-told-you,” he said in a sing-song voice. “Wrong way, no way, look, hey! Its the wrong way!”

It was unmistakeable. The opposite side might as well have still borne the shadow of the sportster. The light was red. Ten million cars motored by in both directions. Everyone became silent. A car blew its horn in the distance.

“Fuck,” said Kay.

Daisy carefully dotted water from her tear ducts. Kay scowled at her.

“Its not that funny!”

Daisy laughed again, breaking the silence into sun-soaked shards.

“No, no!” she assured. “I just forgot my sunglasses at the gas station. It’s so bright out.”

“Liar.” Kay said quietly, shaking her head. She crossed her eyes in the mirror at David. He rolled his back.

“If you don’t quit it, I’m going to puke.” Daisy said in a choked voice, trying her best to sound serious.

“Just let me drive,” he said. “You’re driving me nuts.” Daisy laughed again. “And shut up, you,” David said in his best pretend-angry voice. “You should remember how to get around, Miss ‘I-Been-Here-Before.’” He smiled, covering up a salty undertow of contempt. He had trusted his mother inasmuch as she had trusted Daisy, even though her girlish-cuteness had begun to wear on him. He knew that they had all invested their hopes in a giant roll-of-the-dice, and now was not the time to bring her down a notch.

Daisy contorted her face into a scowl.

“As a girl.” She said, trying to sound confounded.

“As if you aren’t one still.” David mocked back, letting a little of his distaste break the surface. Daisy scoffed, but managed to reassemble her smile, albeit somewhat less convincing that before.

“I gotta pee,” Daisy said listlessly as the sportster rolled on.

 

. . .

 

Yellow paint wrinkled and peeled alongside the aged ocean-side hotel. Slender brick pillars propped the heavy, sagging roof three stories into the air. The thin walls were interspersed like cubicles, dividing identical room from identical room. Narrow stairwells ascended and descended the interior, divided from the inner courtyard by patterned blocks of concrete, which contained hollows as to form a screen. Light flickered between the tessellated openings, scattering the corridors with spots of brightness. The effect was disorienting, labyrinthine. Daisy, in her petite heeled shoes, climbed carefully along with the others.

“This place looks like shit,” she said grabbing the rusted handrail. “I’ve really gotta use the bathroom.”

Again?” Kay asked rhetorically, turning a bend in the skinny stair. “And don’t be such a pessimist. This place isn’t half bad. Wouldn’t wanna raise a kid here, though,” she conceded. Daisy laughed, sounding halfway between amused and annoyed. “We’ve got five hundred dollars to make this work. And I’m betting we can.”

Their footsteps echoed flatly against the concrete. Nearly to the third floor, David scoffed. It bounced around the corridor, fading out.

Get it?” Kay said.

“You bet,” David retorted. “Very punny.”

“What have we got to lose?” Her blue eyes were out of sight, but David knew how they might have looked. How they spoke a different language than the comic-relief or her sarcasm. How underneath, she was dead serious.

“Everything!” He said lightly, knowing it would sound dark instead.

Daisy watched her foot placement, and dared not smile this time.

“I hope there’s not roaches,” she mumbled to herself.

The sound of Kay’s fumbling for the door key reverberated through and between the mosaic concrete screen along the salty smell of the hall. Distantly, the gentle splashing of waves was captured and entangled in the sounds of automobiles, alien voices, amusement rides, seagulls, and music.

Maypops

So here’s a little something from Thirteenth Stroke:

Maypops

maypops

 

The sun came out and the park was crawling with people like an industrious hill of ants.

Hill-a-beans,” the boy said, legs dangling from a small bridge that crossed the stream that ran down the hill and through the middle. The sunlight made the edges of his dark hair seem transparent, or blonde. A mosquito attempted a covert landing on his mottled, brown sleeve. Beneath the curls of his hair, he scrunched up his forehead, eyeballing the blood sucker that had found him. With a smack, the mosquito was resolved in a smear of red goo and a few gray-black fragments. From the overlook, he licked his lips and pulled the fruit from his pocket. He had picked it earlier. He winced, biting immediately into a particularly hard seed of the maypop.

He turned the yellow-green skin of the fruit over in one hand, wiping the bits of mosquito on his dirty pants with the other. It had come from a mound of vines that grew farther up the stream–past where the people went–before the water collected in the park, absorbing trash and snot and piss and oil from its occupants. He hacked the seed from between his teeth, spitting it down below. It descended swiftly and silently into the whispering water, then out across the nearest flat rock and onward into the park. He turned the fruit again, filling himself with a fresh bite. It was a luxurious mouthful of seeds and pulp that was ripe enough to drool over.

His eyes roamed over the multitude of people. Each walking their dogs or with their family, kids running around in a fit of excitement or protest. Joggers in matching clothes keeping pace with each other, making their way in a big circle. Bicyclists terrorising slower walking older people. Flowers. Ducks. The phantom of the hard seed still throbbed in his molar.

Eventually he dropped the last bits of skin and pulp he hadn’t wanted into the water with the rest. He got up, let out a disappointed sigh, and shifted off into some place more dense with trees where the people would not notice him. Along the way, his browned hand massaged his jaw where the inexplicably hard seed had pushed into his tooth. He smiled, stretching the skin around the bones. He wondered if the Maypops would eventually all be hard and inedible. Full of tiny, tasteless stones that would collect on the river basin, discarded by the Earth. The leaves rustled behind him and he was gone.

—–

Years and years later when the park was forgotten and transformed into a smelly basin for wastewater, and pokeberry grew from every facet of everything, the sluggish, thick stream pushed up a rocky hill around a bend in the flow. A huge boulder diverted the water around, forcing the dirt into a mound. Anyone willing to cross the smelling water could climb the hill and eat of the maypops. They had traveled and spread downstream in the time that passed. The absence of people had allowed them to flourish.

There they stood, atop the looming, rocky pile, high and dry from the foul water. Their only nourishment was from the sudden summer rains that slid between the sand and stones and thinly stretched roots. Fortunately, they had little need for much water. Somewhere in the distance, voices of men and women and children can be heard, carried on the breeze. The stream of sludge is a slow parade of garbage that circles around the hill, honoring it with the discarded trophies of the people. Cans and plastic bags and bits of rubber slide in a oily snake around the bottom of the island of royal fruits lost. 

It’s Final. New Material Coming Super Soon.

I’ve finalized some things I’ve been working on!

In the next couple weeks, I will be sharing some things I’ve kept primarily under wraps.  There’s new poetry and prose from my collection, “Thirteenth Stroke,” and I’m really excited to finally be able to share it with strangers.

Here’s my cheap-smart-phone-created cover art!

justyouwaitandsee

From the Warehouse

Here’s another snippit from my book, Warehouse.
Much to Mr. Grey’s amusement, he insists he be allowed to meddle with such stored recollections.  Memories, after all, delight his tastes.
(don’t miss the free download link below)

—————————————————————————————–

oh what whispers beheld beneath full moons and the swell of emotion in the looming cypress boughs

oh what whispers beheld beneath full moons and the swell of emotion in the looming cypress boughs

 

[copyright 2010, Joshua Floyd
all rights reserved]

AND NOW A SPECTACULAR DOWNLOAD LINK!
(can’t you hear that evil excuse for a man laughing, even now?)

http://www.mediafire.com/download/bvgndaxhzhp4rnz/Warehouse-fullcopy.pdf

Intro To An Article (in progress)

Eight Thing in Capitalist America That Don’t Make Very Much Sense

or

A Ranting Excuse to Talk About An Odd Culture

–Joshua Floyd–
all rights reserved

herdmentality

I’m driving home from work, again, and I force myself to turn the radio off. Sure, they just played a jammin’ tune by the Chili Peppers, but my enjoyment of that is cast in the sickly shadow of the DJ announcing yet another commercial break. I try to endure, but I cannot bear it. It takes exactly three advertisements before I make my decision to cut the power. The first is “a public service announcement” for those suffering from student debt. It is quite clearly cut and paste. It is also quite clearly not a PSA, but an advertisement. I cringe. The voice work sounds like it was keyed in on a robotic text-to-speech program. Even the general location to which the ad applies (in this case, “the Myrtle Beach area”) has been spliced in, indicating that the very same ad likely plays in other locations with little more needed than a quick cut and paste of the robot voice.

Ignore it, I think. The music will be back soon. Experience tells me I likely have a twenty minute wait until anything remotely close to music comes back through my speakers (radio jingles DO NOT count).

Next is a commercial for the lottery. Powerball. The bright voice of the woman speaking is surrounded by some type of “whooshing” sound effect. For a moment, I can’t tell if its an ad for gambling or a THX sound test at the start of a film. With my stereo acoustically magnifying everything, I have to remind myself that its probably not a half dozen fighter jets swooping around the car. I can barely focus on what the energetic woman is saying about the odds and the jackpot, because the sound effects are nothing short of alien-abduction-quality creepy.  As penetrating to my ears and brain as an alien probe might be to…well, nevermind that.  No matter, I’ve no time to think much on it because, there, on the other side of this shit-sandwich of commercialism, is the next advert: “a public service announcement” (advertisement) for, of all things, tax debt.

But wait! Its the EXACT SAME AD as the student debt ad. Exact same cut-and-paste for “the Myrtle Beach area.” Only difference is the bit about “students” has been mechanically replaced by a pre-recorded bit about “tax levies, tax liens, and bankruptcy.” It even maintains an exact replica of a phrase in the student debt ad: “take down this number, put it in your cell phone, BUT CALL.” For a split second I imagine the silliness of someone being so riveted by this ad during their commute that, ignoring traffic, whips out their cell phone in complete defiance of safety and begins hacking in the phone number in rapt desperation.

I cut the power. It occurs to me that no talent whatsoever has gone into this particular round of enterprise. It was designed by a twelve-year-old who loves Transformers. My stomach feels sick. If these things were meant to get me to do anything other than turn off the radio, the meaning has escaped me. I worry about the other listeners. I worry that they have arrived at a different conclusion by some psychotic chaos of the Heavens.

By the time I’ve pulled into my driveway, my thoughts have turned to just how often this exact feeling has wrapped coldly up my spine. The sense of confusion. The distaste. The wondrous amazement of a culture completely surrounded by mountains of its own nonsense that, daily, enthusiastically guzzles down the sickly heap of it all by the bucket-full.

I decided to make a list. Maybe it will clear my head. Here’s eight things in our silly society that, somehow, we’ve decided are alright. For maximum impact, I’ve listed them in increasing levels of stupidity.

(next up, part two: “How News Reporters Talk)

horatio