Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Double Knot

By Caitlin Hoffman

I’m your shoe.
   “And what does that mean?”
   Leaning on the precipice. The gentle, winding curb.
   It went purple all around us, and the man beside me (you) smiled. I’m your shoe, and you’re smiling down at me. (It went past, presently.) (Run with it and it will all make sense. I know something about running. I am your shoe, after all.)
   You stare down at my slick red-and-white stripes, tickling my laces with tugs and poking at my empty innards with your toes. Sometimes when I sleep at the foot (teehee) of your bed, I shrug off all the dirt and sigh contentedly. I’m glad I’m your shoe and no one else’s.
   You tug/tugged on my loose tongue, pat/pat it gentle and sweet. I sneeze and you laugh a little too loud. People (if they are people) take glances while they pass, walking on their oh-so-normal shoes that can’t make jokes, can’t expel rubber-oxygen and certainly don’t know that they are shoes.
   “Since when does a shoe sneeze?”
   Sometimes my words don’t come out right, but you don’t care. You understand that it’s difficult talking when I don’t really have a mouth, lips, teeth, tongue, vocal chords... or a brain, for that matter.
   “You’re so handsome.” you say, breath hot from up above.
   Can a shoe be handsome? Perhaps. Perhaps only at certain angles, in particular lighting, or seen through special eyes. Like those wide, gaping, periwinkle blue gelatin-spots staring down at me.
   “It’s a better angle to kiss you at.”
   “Like a C-section!”
   I shouldn’t know that I am your shoe any more than a brain in a vat should know it’s no more than an organ surrounded by formaldehyde or whathaveyou. I may in fact be the most self-aware entity to ever step (teehee) on this earth.
   I know I am your shoe and I love knowing it. Knowing is quite simple when you manage to swallow the truth. At least, knowing you’re a shoe is simple. It’s complex to tell you’re a human or feel you’re a human, let alone really know that you’re a human. You may not be human. You may be a lobster with practical feet. You may be a gorilla that likes to shave. I don’t know, and I don’t care.  
   My knowledge of existing is not based on feeling. I have no neurotransmitters and certainly don’t possess any nerve endings. There is no reason that I should think or be, and there is especially no reason that I should be capable of loving. But I am and I do. I love you, the wearer of this shoe. This man who tucks his sometimes-smelly, always-calloused feet deep into my sole and my soul. (Do I have a soul? Does that determine the true essence of self-awareness? Was a soul mistakenly sewn in my aglets?)
   You stood/stand we walk/walked down the street. I love the concrete and how it slaps against the bottom side of me. You always walk gently so as not to wear me down too much. There is no fear in me (well, how could there be? I own no hypothalamus, no adrenaline, no fight or flight response... and I mean really, where on earth would they fit?) when it comes to the scuffing of my fabric or roughing up of my rubber. I am a material object, and all material objects must have an end. 
   Back at home, she gives you trouble again.
   “It’s time to throw that thing out!” she said. “It’s too old!” she said.
   I’m too old, she says! She’s far older than me if we’re counting in human years. Humph!
   But I don’t worry. Fear is utterly absent. You will protect me and even if you don’t, there will be no pain if I’m thrown in the garbage bin.
   I will miss you though. Would it be bad to miss you? Can a sneaker have a sense of ethics? Moral duty? Kantian approaches to punishment? Consequentialist ideals?
   “I’m not throwing him out.” you say.
   The room rolls red.
   “You’re crazy!” she said.
   The pillows pulsed pink.
   “Or maybe I just see things differently!” you said.
   It’s true.
   I see saliva slide. (Even though I have no eyes.)
   Slipped slowly. Straight from your tongue.
   (I have a tongue too...But it can’t taste anything.)
   “You’re insane!” she says.
   Insane, she says! How is it then that you can hear me and she can’t? Insanity is being torn in a rift from reality. You, on the other hand, are opened up to it. Opened up to areas of the world that few are equipped or inclined to understand. Maybe I don’t have a heart and maybe I don’t have a big appendage like those naked men you look up on the internet, but I do have something that makes me aware, and something else that makes me love you.
   You know it too. Every time you slip your foot in, we make love in a strange and absent way, a way that not many people could understand. We’re lucky, you and I. When most people just walk, you and I share an intimate moment.
   I watch you from the floor (how can I see when I don’t have rods, cones, a retina, an optic nerve, any of that stuff?) as you pack your bags. Pretty suitcase.
   “She’s sending me off to the doctor again.” you say, the man I so love, the man I so love to feel inside of me. “I don’t think they’ll let me wear a shoe in the hospital.”
   Just socks?
   I do not feel wrong- I feel unright. I can’t be sad but it looks like I’m crying anyway. Shoving liquid through my lace holes.
   “Do you think I’m crazy, shoe?”
   “Pfft!” I spat up sand. I’m cleaning grooves.
   If you’re insane, what am I?
   ...I guess I’d still be your shoe.
  Bio: Caitlin is a mink wearing a suit of human skin. You can follow her depravity @CHWrite on Twitter.

Monday, June 4, 2012

To The Horizon

By Mark Brocklehurst

It’s hard to walk for miles, day in and day out, on this crumbling pavement.  It’s my retreat.  It’s my freedom.  Boot soles are tired and worn.  The tanned leather holding the walls of these boots together is cracked and tarnished with road soot.  The crags in my boots, like the creases and lines in my hands and forehead, remind me of the detritus I stomp through on my daily roving.  I sure wish the sun would settle behind a few clouds this afternoon.  September’s sun is still blazing.  Hot.  This radiant heat piles bubbling beads of sweat on my upper lip to the tip of nose.  Damned black top sweats.  Should’ve taken that gallon jug of water and bag of ice from the bed of that navy F250.  Jesus Saves and Ford pisses on Chevy.  How convenient.  Yea, right.
                Hiding out in that big tomb in Wanamaker was a good idea.  No one saw me.  It’s an easy refuge.  I could sleep in peace without the raccoon and rat visits.  Damned night stalkers.  John Muir walked from Indiana to Florida.  Maybe I can take up his old path?  I need a proper meal.  The Wonder bread and Jif I took yesterday around 2 p.m. from that empty farm house just outside of town will only go so far.  It’s left me shitting bricks and cobby pebbles.  At least I had time for a quick shower and wank.  Thankfully, the old man of the house keeps a stash of vintage Penthouses under the sink.  Glad I found them.  Always look under sinks when in someone’s bathroom.  They’re treasure troves of secrets and goodies.  I’ll only take two and put the other six back.  They are a lifesaver.  Well, if a lifesaver is a right hand, warm shower, and a subtle cinnamon smelling woman’s bathrobe.  At this point, most anything will do.  It’s been about a month since I’ve been with a woman, confusing really.  I’ll head back to that tomb, RAYMOND STILES RIP 1898-1965, for the night. 
This pack is heavy and I need to sharpen my Ka-bar and Bowie knife.  Two potential clients tomorrow, house calls, and both are Mormon and disgusting.  These knives need to be extra sharp.  I’ll get acquainted with my water logged Penthouse queens again by Maglite tonight.  They’re the reliable lovers.  Silent, willing, and they eagerly flash their goods page to page.  Hopefully their time in the shower didn’t ruin the pages.  Need some action tonight.  Glad I took that handful of q-tips too.  My ears feel crunchy, and they make easy tender for small fires.  Swiped a sturdy one person sleeping tent in Jackson Ohio.  It’s easy to set up, and will make my tomb a cozier fortress for the night.  Shoud’ve set it up last night.  Too tired.  Tomorrow I’ll smile on my Mormon clients.  Maglite on.  Tent zipped shut.  Queens to my rescue…       
No Bio.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hair, Everywhere

By Patrick Trotti

I have far too much hair to be a rapist. At least according to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. I shed like a Husky. She’d be covered in them. Lone pieces uprooted from my disgusting, heaving form would be pasted like a clumsy kindergarten art project to her sweaty, disheveled body. The first responders, the ones that collect the evidence at the scene would be amazed at the amount of data. Heaps of sealed bags each containing a single hair, a lone thread. Any one of them conclusive enough to put me away for a long time. Yeah, I wouldn’t be good at raping. They’d catch me in a matter of days. As soon as the lab was done processing my leftovers.

I don’t believe I’m the type to rape someone anyhow. It’s not in my makeup. I’m far too timid, in most instances I can’t even converse with a female properly. But these are the thoughts that invade my mind. Irrationality has become the major side effect of my shedding.

Dark, straggly hairs are left throughout my apartment, reminders of my unattractiveness. Give it a week without a thorough cleaning, scrubbing the floorboards on my hands and knees, and the place turns into a forest. They’re attached to the soap; they clog the shower drain, they line the sink bowl. My bed sheets are covered in them. The pillows are the worst. I’m forced to breathe through my nose while sleeping, keeping my mouth closed so that I don’t choke. I haven’t been able to wear a white t-shirt in years. My closet is full of dark clothes, my personal set of camouflage protecting me from the others.

They keep me up at night, forcing me, baiting me, to count them, one by one, on my once clean pillow. They intrude on my daily schedule; derail my effectiveness at work. As I type the quarterly reports, strands of hair cascade down from my scalp, like dandelions, suspended in the air just long enough to make their presence known, before falling silently on my keyboard.

The worst part is that they blend in with dark surfaces. By the end of the day, while my co-workers are shredding old documents I’m dusting off my work space. The trash bin in my cubicle is filled to the brim. I hide within the four constructed walls, slouch down and hope that no one bothers me. I stay in for lunch, eating a homemade sandwich.

The janitor is on to me though. As he makes his mid day rounds, he glares in my direction, announcing his disapproval of me. I’ve become his major burden, the only obstacle in an otherwise mindless job. He doesn’t understand. He’s bald.

I’ve tried everything. For a while I wore a hat everywhere I went. My boss sent out an office wide memo condemning the wearing of any “non religious headwear” in the workplace. I even started to shave my body. I launched a pre-emptive strike against the shedding. Figured I beat it to the punch. It didn’t work. It only delayed the inevitable, pushing back the shedding a few hours in the day.

Each morning is the same. The monotony is razor sharp. I’ve come to expect it but nonetheless it somehow amazes me, leaves me in a state of confusion. The rest of the day spent in a fog like stupor. No matter how much I shed, it returns.

There I am standing naked in the bathroom, brushing my teeth watching this hairy figure looking back at me. He mirrors my movements, he looks just like me, has my same facial ticks. He is me and I am him. When I go to turn the shower on I pause and let out a defeated sigh, knowing that the shedding is about to begin all over again. I just hope that a lock of my hair won’t end up on some body somewhere because nobody would believe my story. No matter how slowly, and convincingly, I explained my ailment no one would consider its validity.

As the lukewarm water from the shower head flows down onto me it begins. At first it’s just one piece but it quickly escalates into a handful, a patch gone missing. By the time I towel off and get dressed I’m missing a third of my hair. I look back and see the trail of my hair, following my every step, shadowing me no matter where I go.
 BIO: Patrick Trotti is a writer, editor, and student. On good days it's in that order. Check out www.patricktrotti.com for more.