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A Seizure of Landscapes

By Gordon McWhorter

















"That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above, corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing."


Hermes Trismegistus
























This is not for you.





























1





I saw something today in my rear view mirror as I was driving to my girl, Em’s house. I was just getting on the highway at 900 south and West Temple heading southbound when I looked in my rear view mirror to see what was behind me. At first I didn’t see anything unusual, but since there were no cars to be cautious of my eyes took a moment to see how beautiful the mountains were on the East Bench near Emigration Canyon, with those softly shaped clouds, just happy puffs, hanging high over the Rockies except for one, gray misfit hanging low and directly over a large gray building I fail to categorize as anyplace I know or have ever been to before.

I’ve lived in Salt Lake City, Utah most my life and know the surrounding images of my home town with deft clarity.

On second glance in the rear view mirror I focus in on the building, which shimmers in a few places giving a clear indication of large windows and buttresses, like a stone age castle out of a goddamn story book.

Then, just as I am turning onto the main part of the freeway, I make a final note of the scale comparative to the surrounding mountains…

“What the hell?” I voice my reactions to no one but myself. I try to get a real glimpse of the building from outside my car window, but the freeway has turned and blocks any further views of the building as if the freeway was in on this conspiracy of familiar landmarks, astral anomalies, a seizure of landscapes zipping by at 65 mph.

My 15 minute happy puff-ball cloud drive to Murray is totally ruined as my mind races and argues to investigate this building like Navidson in the House of Leaves.


How could I have missed something so obviously large as to be almost apart of the rocky mountain skyline?


Upon reaching Em’s house my thoughts are thankfully set aside to more important distractions like sex and the constant eating drive to be near her body, in her body, about her body...

Em is this little fiery, brunette Scot with the tale-tale pug nose, small ears and those huge chameleon eyes that are currently very blue.

“I saw something in my rear view mirror today.” I say.

She laughs and then gets curious. She knows me too well to joke when I am sincere about something.

“What was it?”

“Not real sure, but…” I tell her the story and how I feel.

“Babe, that’s weird, what do you think it is?”

“I don’t know.” I say, “But I want to go find out.”

“Right now?” She asks as we are both cuddled naked in bed all comfy and warm.


No, at night, under a full moon with a shit load of LSD in my system.


I don’t say this, but it’s what I’m thinking. I’m a psycho, passive-aggressive, OCD, Bi-Polar mother fucker that has not had any kind of medication for years, wants to smoke a joint more than anything in the world, but can’t because he’s on federal probation and gets piss tested just about every week.

I have stock and barrel years of mental disorders from watching my baby sister die from a car wreck on I-15. My parents giving me sole responsibility to keep her or take her off life support. I choose the later.


Please, forgive me...


My eternal marriage in an LDS temple in Portland, OR ends two years later as my wife and little baby girl, whom I have named after my sister, abandon me in Tillamook, all over a couple of useless words involving attrition, ambition, and “unholy dominion” as my father in law called it.

These precious things, coupled with a dozen pathetic suicide attempts, sufficiently label me.

I am a mess.

“Babe?” Em says, waking me out of my repose.

“Naw…forget it.” And I do...

I forget about the whole thing for a couple of weeks until Em and I are coming home one day to my place on 800 south and 500 east to watch movies, eat pizza, and catch a buzz.

The sun is just in the perfect spot in the Western sky, about 6:30 or 7pm. (Daylight savings has just switched over to its spring time cycle so it feels like mid afternoon). I look over to the East Bench as I am driving down off that same freeway entrance, the Northbound side this time, and I see Emigration Canyon just as I have always remembered it, Hogle Zoo, the U of U, Parley's Canyon...and there, where just a couple of weeks ago I had seen an impossibly large building, there is only the familiar cut in the mountains just as it was when Brigham Young said “This is the place…”

“BABE!!!” Em cries out, but it’s too late…

A car directly in front of us has slammed on its breaks, swerving us left without looking into the left lane and then back just in time to miss the line of parked cars all stopped at the red light on 900 South waiting to go west.

“Jesus!”

“Watch the road!”

“Sorry…”

“Pay attention, babe! You almost got us killed!”

“Sorry…”

My heart is thumping as I turn right on 900 south peeling my white knuckles from the steering wheel in an effort to relax and appear normal.

“What the fuck, babe? Where are you?” Says Em, as I laugh a little in spite of myself trying to take this suddenly sharp edge off of my chest.

“I was in the mountains.” I say, grinning stupidly.

“Well, you’re supposed to be driving, so come back down, Moses, thank you very much.”

“K.” I say, my voice that of an idiot savant just caught with his hands in the cookie jar. We laugh and that’s why I love her. We can treat each other like total shit sometimes; yell and hit and scream and curse, but within minutes we get over ourselves and we're best friends again. For the most part we are a happy, fun loving couple doing our best to get ahead in the money game where one day we have promised each other we’ll have kids, make a home and raise them up to be bad asses, smart as hell, with all the required information from both sides of the “haves” and “have not's”.

Funny…Em and I have been through more in a year than most couples go through in a lifetime. It’s a running joke with us to outline the different ways we can go about killing each other…weird shit, but endearing none the less…lol.

Em likes scary movies. I like them too, but on occasions I have had some very strange things happen when we watch them. I blame her, for she has this unnatural ability to fill a room with her spooked out psyche until the very walls crawl with demonic possessions and inter-dimensional beings intent on staying. I refuse to let them. I hate them. I hate the way they make me feel when I know they are there inches away from my warm flesh doing whatever they do out of the spectrum of my visible sight. I don’t learn my lessons very quickly, I guess, and I have gone ahead and picked out one of those “end time” movies that catches my eye at Blockbuster.

I have tonight off.

I work graveyards.

I don’t get much sleep.

I dream sometimes of vivid shit that I should be writing down and making stories out of, but then I just totally forget them.

Halfway through this creepy movie I fall asleep, Em is laying beside me on the fold out couch seriously intent on bringing this movie into reality. Even though I am asleep I feel the whole thing go down as if I were wide awake. Em has fully allowed herself perfect, empathic possession into the tragic character of the victim; a little girl, ostracized by a small, fundamental Christian town in Butt Fuck, Mississippi that has gone over the edge of reason to suspect their children of heinous, sexual sins just to cover up the real sick shit the parents are doing.

Classic end of the world horror mind fuck.

I know what’s going to happen. I can literally feel the dimensional door open and the invitation to come on over, Red Rover, Red Rover, screamed out in gleeful, insane children's voices as Em projects her energy into real life poltergeists that now haunt her from every dark corner of the room. I feel her body spasm beside me and like a long swim through dark molasses I make my way up to a conscious level to find the whole fucking room dancing with devils.

“Babe?” She hardly hears me. The movie is coming into its climax and I am sucked willingly into the end plot, clearly entertained, but knowing all to well that once the movie is turned off we are going to have to deal with the ghosts left behind.

The movie ends.

Tragic, yet more than fair as those that deserve to die do. I don’t even let the credits roll. I am going to get this shit over with right now.

Reaching up behind me I push the power buttons to the DVD player, the projector and the sound system. Everything goes dark, but the slight light from the streets and passing cars finds their way through the cracks in the curtains only to make the shadows inside more alive than ever.

“Can we turn on a light?” Em asks, and of course we can.

It seems to help. (She will sleep with the lights on in her room for the next three weeks). I climb back into bed, Em sitting straight up trying not to look terrified of the thing in the corner I am very aware is there. Ignoring the whole developing drama I insensitively crash face down in my pillow and go to sleep. Shortly there after I feel Em slide down beside me, her small, warm frame beside mine and then it is morning and I am alone…





. . .





The worst kind of sick, twisted scenario's shoot up to the top of my cranial projector as I struggle to get a grip on reality. I can see horror full color in my mind as Ems' body and soul is shredded by the demon in the corner and then taken down to hell forever by my careless omissions. To my utter relief she pops her head through the sliding oak doors just as I am about to scream out her name.

“Are you awake?” She says. I check and I am.

Groaning, I fall back into bed mumbling something about coffee and how she could be available to make some for me if she so wanted to. She’s a terrific cook when she wants to impress people, but when it becomes a menial chore to her you can expect coffee the strength of a Brazilian cocaine plantation with enough coffee grounds at the bottom to kill a man if he thought he could swallow the last gulp.

I love her coffee.

“Did you sleep well?” I ask her from the safety of my front porch, Brazilian cocaine coffee in hand and a smoke lit between my lips.

“Honestly?” She says, looking out into the bright, deceptively warm day so very far from the real spring the rest of the country is having, “No.”

That’s it. No more scary movies for Em and I say just as much. She agrees, halfheartedly. This is the girl that during sex will ask me to describe rape scenarios to her and the more graphic and violent the better. It’s sick, but it turns her on. She likes the heavy stuff, the tragic, horror and darkness. I laugh and say,

“You do this to yourself you know.” She smiles and gives me that sexy coy sideways look with the slow blink of the eyes that totally disarms me and makes my blood warm.

“I do not.”

“Uh…yes, you do.”

“I like scary movies.”

“I know you do, but…” I place my smoking fingers in the air hesitating for a moment so I can draw out the point of my moral lesson, “…every time you do you end up scared, sleeping with the lights on for weeks and then complaining to me about how there are ghosts in your room trying to get you.”

“But there are!”

“Of course there are! You take them by the hand and lead them there! Jesus, don’t you think I saw that shit you did last night?”

“What I did?”

“Yes! What you did! You spun your energy up so goddamn high last night watching that stupid ass film every demon and black magic shade within a mile of here came knocking.”

“You saw it then, that thing in the corner of the room?”

“Of course I saw it!” I sigh and calm myself. No reason to get upset here, just trying to make a point, that’s all. “More like felt it, really…”

“I thought I was the only one…”

“Babe, listen to me. No more scary movies, Okay?”

She looks down and frowns, but then surprises me with an agreement.

“OK.” She says, and I believe her.

We’re just about ready to take off to Em’s place when I decide to put the couch back together so my roommates don’t have to come home to a messy house. I don’t like messes. I hate them and I hate coming home to them, so why leave them for others even if they don’t give a shit, nor even know it exists as such a consideration I performed for them.

Fuck it, I’m OCD. I’ll do it.

Upon entering the room these fucking chills start coursing down my spine, the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up and my skin starts crawling with goose bumps. In spite of myself I succeed in folding the blankets and putting the cushions back on the couch. The whole time I am doing this I am also attempting to try very, very hard to ignore a black shadow lurking in the corner of the room. It is watching me, hating me, wanting me to hate it too, which I do…really I do.

Fucking stupid ass ghost…your dead, go haunt somewhere else!

But truth be told I am terrified and that’s what I really hate is that feeling of being scared…really, really, really scared. It’s debilitating, humiliating and it angers me that I can do absolutely nothing about it except stubbornly endure its cold, calculating observations as if it were waiting for a break in some unseen protective layer about my soul to slip through and possess my body with.

“Goddamn it!” I say once I am back outside in the healing warmth of the sun. I jump into the driver’s seat of the car and slam the door too hard.

“What?” Says Em.

“Fucking ghosts, that’s what.”

“Where?” She says, looking behind us in the back seat worried we were entertaining unwanted dead people.

“In that room, babe! I could hardly fold the goddamn blankets in there without freaking the fuck out and running outside!” She looks at the house as if at any moment she will witness it opening the door, “You know that feeling you get when you know they are there just watching you and knowing they know it too?”

“Yeah…” She says distantly, “I know...”

“I fucking hate that shit.”

“Yeah...me too.”







2




We are getting old. I am 33, she is 25, 8 years my junior and we are worried about our sedentary life styles, though really we are not in the least danger of sudden obesity, but it has been a long winter and soon we will want to shed as many clothes off as possible to soak up the sun and do not want to gross anyone out with our pale, flabby flesh, especially each other! We decide to start an active routine by hiking up Millcreek’s Desolation Trail.

It is a gorgeous March afternoon and the sun is once again deceptively warm. But even though spring has teased us these past few days Desolation Trail is still packed with winter snows.

“Where’s the trail?”

“Right there, babe.” I say, pointing out the snow that is more packed down than the rest.

“Whose idea was this?”

“Yours, Hun.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“C’mon.” I take her hand and we slip and slide two steps forward one step back up Desolation Trail where pine trees grow hundreds of feet into the air creaking and groaning their displeasure at our disturbance to their peace, quiet and solitude. The mountain ravines come down so close on either side of us that there is no other place a trail can exist here in these mountains but right where it is, parallel to the dry, snow covered river bed that is to our left, which snakes its way up to high glistening peaks of sharp, cold, gray desolate stone...

“Did you hear that?” She says, stopping me along the trail as cold sweat works its way down my back. I listen, but I am def in one ear from an accident with a q-tip and my other ear still likes very loud, heavy metal music.

Not surprisingly, I hear nothing.

“What is it, babe?” Images of meeting a bear in the middle of this funnel, this snow covered death trap, makes me want to turn around and go back to the car.

“Nothing…” She says, and she bravely keeps blazing up the trail even though her pants are soaking wet from slipping and sliding in the snow. For some reason the bear theme sticks in my head and in an effort to release it I ask Em what she would do if we met one of our fuzzy friends face to face.

“Oh, shit.” She says laughing, “That would suck.”

“But what would you do?”

“Run.” She says, still laughing, but only to cast aside the very real possibility of bringing what you think of into reality.

“But bears can outrun you.” I say morbidly.

She looks down the trail, then up the East ravine and then up the West ravine. There would be no escape.

“What would you do?” She asks.

“I’d freeze solid from fucking fear and start repeating the name of Jesus over and over again.” She chews on that for a second and then says,

“Yeah, me too.”

We laugh the seriousness away and continue up the trail, but every time the wind brushes through the tops of the pines the damn things creek like an animal caught in the jaws of a starving carnivore. The farther up the trail we go the more I get this horrible feeling that we should be heading down in the other direction. Worse yet, I know Em feels the same way.

We are stupid, automatons bent on self-destruction, so we keep going up the trail ignoring our sixth sense that is screaming,


You're bear food!


We stop to snack on trail mix and drink a beer. I pull out a smoke and light it up wondering if the smell would attract or repel a near by bear.

“Babe,” Says Em, “I think we need to leave, now.”

“Okay.” Never question a woman who has decided to listen to her gut feelings. Em is already heading down the trail at a good pace when I catch up to her and ask what she saw.

“I don’t know.” She says, “But it’s not nice and it’s very hungry.”

Chills go up and down my spine and I quicken our pace forcing Em’s short little Scottish legs to slip and slide down the trail. I am practically carrying her to the car.

“Slow down, babe! You’re going to kill us!” I stop. I'm in full military mode. I take reconnaissance of my surroundings and silently prompt her to keep moving.

“No, wait! Listen!” I freeze and with all my might I focus my damaged ear drums out into the cold woods and listen.

This time I hear it.

“Wolves.”

“Close.” She says, “Very close.” It’s serious. We are so sober now that the snow in comparison is the one that is warm and joking. Faster and faster I take us down the trail that seems much longer and more unfamiliar than when we came up. For a moment I believe we have taken an alternate trail, but then I see a familiar rock buried deep in the middle of the trail, its shape like a huge tortoise with barnacles clustered all over its back. Suddenly, it is a tortoise with stubby, thick legs moving underneath its massive, heavy stone shell. The barnacles on top are squirming, opening their little mouths and whispering in a very clear English voice,


Food!


I’ve done a lot of psychedelics in my time, but never once have I had an illusion so confuse me, bind my tongue and send me on my way with such fear. Em is driving now, pulling me and I am the one slipping and sliding with all these crazy, irrational thoughts running through my head pushing past vertigo, and then, just for a split second, I truly believe Em has turned us around and is taking us back up the trail to be sacrificed to the wolves.

I slam on the brakes…

“Where are you going?” I say, confused, angry...unsure.

“Babe!” She says, obviously frustrated and scared. “C’mon! Help me!” I shake off the sticky webs of confusion surrounding my thoughts and again take the lead forcing her little legs airborne to keep up with mine.

We are rounding the last corner in the trail just before the final stretch to the parking lot when Em completely collapses in the snow, while at the same time trying desperately to turn back around and run, for there, in the middle of the trail, is this evil, twisted beast real and solid, it’s back arched in a strange mangled way that reeks of…

“Shit!”

“Oh, my God!” Says Em, “I thought it was a wolf!” I did too, but now I am laughing too hard to be serious anymore and the poor dog in front of us who is trying to crap out his lunch in the middle of the trail is more than slightly embarrassed.

“Jesus! How funny is that?” Says Em, pointing at the poor pooch, its brown, puppy eyes looking behind its squatting frame pleading with us for a little privacy.

“God, what a nightmare!” We’re still laughing when the owner of the dog rounds the other end of the trail totally decked out in retired, business woman hiking gear with the ski poles and everything, but she doesn’t even take the least bit of interest in us as she proudly picks up the shit with a plastic bag, inverts it and then sticks it into her coat pocket for later.

“Wow.” Says Em, once the hiker and her dog are out of ear shot.

“Yeah…that was weird.”

“Fuckin’ funny though.” She says, and we laugh the rest of the way down Desolation Trail with thoughts of wolves and starving bears completely covered over by the pricelessness of laughter and the comfortable sounds of cars coming up from the canyon road. We arrive safely, sore and wet, where our white car is parked warmly in the sunshine perfectly safe and normal.





. . .






I have the easiest job in the world.

I babysit the technical support lines for the USDA Forest Service from 9 at night till 6 in the morning. I rarely get a call, but the contract is for 24/7 support, so someone has to be here just in case. I arrive tonight with little or no sleep as usual. Em, since losing her job at Dillards, has been keeping me up more and more during the day time when I should be sleeping. But I did have that last night off and did get some sleep then, so I should be able to pull out an all nighter:

Coffee, smokes and You Tube. That’s how I do it.

I arrive just as Jeremy is taking off from his shift. We rarely talk anymore, not since that day a couple of months ago we had that argument about religion and New World Order conspiracies. He is young, 23, and has the whole thing figured out.

While I was searching You Tube for videos on UFOs, Planet X, Egyptian Mysteries and live exorcisms Jeremy was right behind me telling me how fake all that shit was and look how many idiot’s believe in that crap based on the number of times a video was watched. I finally blew up on him that night telling him his opinions were only of value if he kept it to his goddamn self. Ever since then Jeremy has packed out as soon as I come in. I really couldn’t care less, but...

“Hey.” I say, feeling guilty, but Jeremy ignores me, lifts his backpack over his wide shoulders and leaves.


Damn. I really need to talk to that dude and maybe apologize or something.


I log into my phone, set up all my necessary applications on my PC and then turn my attention to my laptop.

Tonight I find some interesting videos on Mormon history, secret meetings as viewed by those outside the Utah neighborhood of influence. It seems the farther East you go the more mysterious Mormonism becomes until you find folks that have absolute proof Mormon’s grow horns, speak to spirit salamanders and practice Satan’s work of pedophilia, polygamy and the more popular sodomy rituals of passage that one must complete in order to become a full brother of Christ.

I filter through most of the bullshit to find historical data on Joseph Smith, happily finding lots of unknown details about his death at Carthage Jail, Masonic connections, smuggled Dillinger’s and a secret Jupiter Amulet kept on the prophets body at all times. Very interesting stuff and the hours fly by until early morning when I am relieved of my duties by Charlie, Sam and Rachel.

These three are always coming in half awake, moody and unresponsive to my “bushy tailed” and “bright eyed” disposition, as Rachel once put it as she drains her fifth cup of coffee and obviously wishes she were in bed, in a coma, or dead.

Whatever…I leave like Jeremy did…without a word.

The car is an ice sculpture.

Having been left outside all night to freeze solid in the cold March morning air it takes me a good fifteen minutes to scrape off the ice as my fingers turn into useless numb digits, because I am too stupid and lazy to reach into my bag and put my gloves on first.

Em is just 15 minutes away, naked in a warm, water bed and I want nothing more than to just get there, crawl in bed beside her and fall asleep. Em and I live in two separate houses, both of us renting rooms and it is a thankful convenience that I do not have to drive all the way downtown to my place to get into a warm bed.

I park the car in the guest parking lot, lite up a last smoke and walk to Em’s townhouse on the far side of a quaint retirement community privately walled off from the rest of Murray City by several fences, an empty guard house and signs everywhere confirming the fact that this place is heavily watched, private and no trespassing tolerated.

Old people are a trip, but whenever I see one coming out of their house at the butt crack of dawn I am quick to wave and acknowledge them with a smile. They seem to smile and wave back, but I never know if they are really thinking that I should not be there because of my age, or maybe they are thinking I am visiting my Grandparents at 6 in the fucking morning...

Who knows, they never tell me different, so I guess I’m not breaking too many neighborhood rules.

I step on my smoke as I approach Em’s front porch and bend down to the basement window to click on the glass with my finger nails. Soon the curtains move aside and there she is.


Babe, come get me. It’s cold and I want in!


Like a vampire...

She knows what I want.

She let’s me in the front door still sleeping for the most part and we sneak quietly downstairs to her room like ghosts. I don’t think her roommates even know we do this every morning like clock work. Funny, I’ve met Kristy, the owner, once and I know there is another girl living upstairs, but I have never seen her. I do hear her sometimes though: Kristy leaves to teach High School Algebra at 6:30AM on the dot and always slams the door as if she hates teaching kids Math, but then, around 6:45AM, I can hear another pair of footsteps, much quieter, preparing themselves for another day of whatever. I don’t even know her name, never even asked.

Em forces me to stay on my side of the water bed because I am cold. She is a big grump early in the morning, but it’s not so bad now that she doesn’t have to get up for work anymore.


God! That was a nightmare...


Em is the type of girl that needs to just stay at home with her art and her girlfriends and their girly, little boutique parties drinking lots of mixed vodka smoothies and spending my paychecks every other Friday.

“How did you sleep?” I ask quietly. She mumbles incoherently, pretending she is already back asleep, but then groans,

“Horrible.”

“That bad, huh?”

“The shower keeps turning itself on.”

“Oh, really?” I say, not really believing the shower is turning itself on all by itself.

“Yeah,”

“That’s pretty creepy, babe.” She grunts and lets me finally put my arms around her now that I have warmed up a bit.

“Did you dream?” I ask.

I am always interested in her dreams, for she has some crazy, vivid, long ass dreams that come out like stories, fully entertaining me.

“No.”

“Oh.” Disappointment.

“I saw him, again today, though.” Em is referring to the ghost she has in her bedroom. An older man, she says, that looks like a pioneer, maybe one of those poor schmucks who first came over here with Brigham Young.

“He wants to fuck me.”

“Oh, he does, does he?”

“Yes, they all want to fuck me and lick me up and down like a popsicle.”

“I’ll lick you up and down like a popsicle, babe.” I say, moving my hands down to her naked bottom and rubbing them in circles. She loves that, “butt rubs” she calls them.

“Nooo.” She says, playing hard to get, but clearly enjoying the attention to her bottom.

“C’mon, babe. Let me stick it in.” I say, in a heavy whisper close to her ear, “I am so hard right now, babe. Please.” She gasps in that small, vulnerable voice that drives me mad with lust and then laughs, tells me to stop it, she is trying to sleep. I give up, move over to my side of the water bed and turn off the lamp...my pathetic, immature way of letting her know I am put off.

“Babe, no!” She says, sitting straight up and grabbing the exposed flesh on my arm and digging deeply in with her finger nails. “I need the light back on!”

“Why?” I say, “I’m right here, babe. I won’t let that horny pilgrim get you.”

“Babe!”

“Okay. Okay.” The light goes back on and Em flops back down into her black satin pillows frustrated that I do shit like this to her. Oh well, fuck it, I am an asshole.

























3





Friday nights we go to Sushi.

It is our favorite pass time and we always end up drinking way too much Saki and Sapporo as we joke around with the Japanese Chef behind the Sushi bar who doesn’t speak a lick of English, but I like to think he listens to our mad, inebriated communications kind of like the way I watch foreign films in their native tongue, as if watching them over and over again will magically unlock their secret language.

“Saki bomb!” Em and I cheer and slam our fists down on the bar gleefully watching as the tiny, porcelain Saki cups unbalance from their perch on top of chop sticks and fall into the waiting Sapporo below and then we race to see who can drink it all the fastest.

I always win.

Nobody ever bothers us, though we are the loudest people in there. We’ve been doing this for months and I guess they just tolerate us.

We do spend a lot of money…maybe that’s why?

Midnight comes too quickly and it is time to pay the bill and go home.

One day we’re going to get caught driving home drunk, but so far we have been very lucky. I obey every traffic law with OCD perfection. I have found being a registered felon is quite liberating in that I have no room to err. I either keep my nose clean or I go back to federal prison for 2 years on a violation of my probation. This makes no sense whatsoever, but paradoxes do not bother me, especially when I am drunk.

We arrive at my place somehow safe and it is now movie time and, if I’m lucky, Em will get turned on somewhere in the middle and want sex. We try a Japanese animation to abide by our promise not to watch anymore scary movies. It is a lovely, painfully cute film called Spirited Away and Em and I laugh the ghosts all away. No need for lights on tonight and as we lay down to sleep Em becomes wonderfully touchable and sex becomes an easy slide downward into warm, wet water lilies.

. . .




Somewhere around 4 in the morning I have to get up to go pee. It takes forever to navigate out of my room and into the bathroom to relieve myself and without my glasses on I pee all over the place, which is not okay.

My OCD kicks in and I have to get my glasses on and clean up my mess before I can go back to bed. With my glasses on and my face down close to the linoleum surrounding my porcelain facilities I can see how dirty things really are, so a quick clean up will not do. I determine to clean the entire bathroom with soap and bleach, sweeping and mopping the floor, organizing the toiletries around the bathroom sink like trophies of OCD.

Now I am happy and need a smoke to celebrate.


My perpetual reward system. My retirement plan : )


The wee morning hours are so bleak and static outside my downtown street that it becomes a whole other world totally out of the norm, a twilight world, a world full of shades and jinn’s and 11th dimensional beings. Worlds where when you die you don’t even know it, you just pass through to another dimension and take up conscious residency with no breaks in the real time feed of personal identities, places, and things.

I smoke and think of my sister, Kelen. Soon, it will be the twelfth year of her passing and I will once again revisit that ICU room up in my head to see her comatose form broken, bleeding and still breathing on those goddamn machines…

“Whatchya doin’ right now, baby sis?” I ask the night and flick my ashes over the porch rail, exhaling a plume of blue smoke out into this twilight world. “When are you going to come by and say, ‘Hi’?” I smile at the thought that she hears me and finish my smoke, leaving the twilight to die on the coming sunrise.

What if when you die you don’t even know it?

You just keep on living without so much as a second guess to the reality of your endless separation from those you once called family and friends?


The thought is not a good one. To think my baby sis could be wandering around the Earth ignorant of her separation from body and mind makes me cold. I quicken my return to Em and the warmth of my bed, but she is not there…

“Babe?” I check the bathroom, which is totally dark and call again, “Babe?” Creepy crawlies touch the back of my neck and I fumble for the bathroom light, which is always right where I left it, but for some reason it is not there this time.

The familiar tang of adrenaline smacks the back of my throat and my heart rapidly jumps into third gear fully ready to flee or fight, but then my hand touches protruding plastic and the florescent tubes flicker on and off for a moment creating this strobed picture of Em on my toilet, her head bent down, her chin on her chest and both hands tucked protectively between her naked thighs, which are all covered in blood.

The mercury vapors inside the florescent lights finally take a solid hold to the electricity, but I wish they hadn’t. I wish the damn things had never been invented! Who were those sick fucking bastards that needed to meddle around with nature and come up with such an abortion of sunlight anyways? Whoever they were I hated them...

The police arrive 10 minutes after I call 911.

I can’t even remember talking to the operator. I just remember hanging up the phone knowing the cops would arrive at my door.

A seizure of landscapes flies by my eyes, EMT personnel, shiny metal badges, iridescent blues and reds strobe lighting the background of my silent world. There is no audio for some reason. Some one has turned the volume off, muted my present location, uninstalled the sound driver and interrupted all acoustical vibrations creating such a nauseating vertigo that I know I am going to puke and pass out.

I hit the wood floor of the living room so hard my head cracks...

I can hear someone talking now, but it is coming from very far away...


“…female subject, Caucasian, early 20’s, brown hair, brown eyes, approximately 5 feet 3 inches tall, DOA, approximate time of death oh five hundred hours. Cause of death unknown, lacerations on the face and neck, physical trauma to the limbic region with acute swelling, massive concussion, and multiple bruises on wrists and forearms, signs of struggle…torture...”


I awake sometime around noon with the sun shinning outside my basement window, the smell of sweat and sex is heavy like blood. Someone is making way too much noise in the upstairs kitchen and Em is completely asleep beside me. She is fully dressed, a brown fur lined hoodie snug over her head masking her face. I rub my swollen face trying to regain some feeling in my cheeks. My head is swollen with left over Saki and Sapporo and I need to pee really bad.

I make a valiant effort to get up and pee, but I don’t have my glasses on and I pee all over the toilet seat.


This is not Okay...


Flash of light, Déjà Vu and I remember everything!

“Wo…” I sway and catch my falling body by the edge of the bathroom counter. The nightmare rushes back into my head and floods me with grief, a very real grief that I have not felt since watching my baby sister fail to breath on her own after being taken off those machines so very long ago...

Slowly, I make my way around the corner of the bedroom to make sure Em is really still in my bed. She is, an angel of cuddly, Scottish warmth that I cannot resist to wake as I curl up against her body and nuzzle my nose into her velvet soft neck.

“Good morning, love.” Em groans in rejection and I laugh the nightmares away as she tries in vain to hide her sleepy face from my scruffy cheeks. “Time to get up, sleepy head.”

“Nooo…”

“I’ll make waffles and eggs.” She moans a little more, but I can tell her stomach likes the idea. “C’mon, babe.” I rub her bottom and massage the small of her back. “I’ll make coffee and orange juice, would you like that?” Little sounds of approval escape her lips and I gladly go upstairs to make breakfast for my baby.

I’m just setting the food on the table when Em comes up scratching her bedded hair and looking like she's been asleep for weeks.

“We drank a lot last night, didn’t we?” I say.

She grumbles and sits down to sip on her orange juice and blink away the sunlight coming in through the kitchen windows. I want to tell her about the dream, but not now, later, on second thought maybe never.

“Did you clean the bathroom?” Em asks me.

“What?” Shivers, tiny bugs crawling all over my cold, dead skin and the implications are too abnormal to register, calculate, or process properly.

“The bathroom, it smells like a swimming pool.”

“Uhm….yes, I, uh, cleaned it this morning before I woke you.”

“That’s not normal.” She says, as she digs into her waffles and eggs.

“My OCD got the better of me, I guess.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“What do you want to do today?” I ask, changing the subject.

“What do you want to do?” She asks back.

“Well…” I think about it and really I just want to sit around on the porch in the sunshine, hang out with her and the cats, drink beer and smoke cigarettes, “…how about we go hiking again?”

“Mmm, okay.” She says, with no preferences either way if we do, or if we don’t. If Planet X showed up in the sky as a second sun and the Earth stopped rotating it would all be the same to her.

“Or, we can just hang out here on the porch and play with the cats.” I say, hoping for more enthusiasm.

“Whatever.” I hate it when she says that. I really do.

“What about the Red Butte Gardens?” I say, with a sudden alternative motive swimming up to the surface of my mind.

“Okay.” She says, showing improvements in enthusiasm and proving to me that she is alive and breathing.

“Done.” I say and I quickly get breakfast down the hatch, get the kitchen all cleaned up and get Em out the door and into the car before you could say lickity split.

OCD, baby.…it’s how I keep my mind from wandering.

The Red Butte Gardens is one of the tourist highlights of Salt Lake City, not just for the hundreds of native plants, but for the incredible views of the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding mountains that protectively border you on all sides.

That’s how I feel about Salt Lake…safe.

Em hates it here, though. I have truly tried to understand this and interrogate it out of her, but so far it’s the same story…

“I miss Canada.” She says sadly to me as we watch the beautiful houses in the Downtown Avenues pass by us. I can’t stand Canada. I use to want to visit Canada, smoke their weed, see what there was to see, but hearing Em tell me almost on a daily basis how much she misses it makes me never want to go there…ever.

“Would you stop it?”

“What?”

“Fucking Canada” I say with all the contempt I can muster, “I’m sick of hearing about how much you miss it. Don’t you ever think that you are making yourself miserable here on purpose by doing that?”

“I can’t help the way I feel.” She says.

“Bull shit.” I tell her, as I pull into the Red Butte Gardens parking lot. “This is just another case of the typical misconception that the grass is greener on the other side.”

“No it’s not.”

“Yes it is.”

“No it’s not.”

“How so?” I ask, getting very upset for some reason. Silly kid stuff. We're no way anywhere close, shape or form, to mature adults.

“Because I’ve been there,” She says, “And it is greener.” She has a point. I hate it when she is right like this. It makes me feel like I'm 16 years old again. Before I make a complete ass out of myself I relax, smile and admit she is right. She informs me of how right I am that she is right and we get out of the car to start our hike up the Garden trails.

We hike in silence for a few moments, my eyes roaming the Eastern Benches in search of abnormally large buildings, or something to that effect, when I come to the clear and startling conclusion that there is something very wrong with me, or in me…a sixth sense that tells me all is not right with my perceptions of what is real and what is not real.

What's the difference anyways?


If a man truly believes in a thing that is not, perse, “real” then there is no convincing him otherwise. You cannot possibly know the full picture of things anyway, so who are you to tell another what is real and what is not.

Still, there is a majority who see reality as what is accepted as today’s societal norms. A realm of reason where there are consequences for every action and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

What goes up must come down.

Laws of nature, laws of coded ethics, laws of conduct on which is perceived the right way and what is assuredly taught to our adolescent selves from birth, the wrong way, which is totally unacceptable.

But, really, this is all so very relative, for, in one place, incest is a perfectly acceptable social norm, yet in another it is total taboo, disgusting, unheard of, a reason to ostracize, condemn and even kill over. Therefore, I place myself in a category that believes in all things, in effect, disbelieving all things at the exact same time. It’s a comfortable paradox where I have no such expectations of how it should be and yet, at the same time, I have very strong feelings of how it could be. I am never disappointed, but I am also never satisfied. I live in a world full of constant surprises, the good and the bad combined, but never defined.

“Is that you?” Em says, frowning at my moody silence.

“What? Did I fart?”

“No, that feeling?” She says, her face scrunched up as if she could smell it. “That…I don’t know…storming rage or strangled emotion…something. Can’t you feel it?”

“No.” I say, but somehow I know she is right to blame me. Em is way super sensitive to emotions and has scary powers of empathy. Onetime, when she got very, very drunk she spoke to me as if possessed from someone that had come back from the dead. She denies it all when I questioned her about it later, but I was pretty spooked about the whole thing and adamant she realize and recognize that I was telling her the truth...

“Yes it is.” She says. “It’s you! Stop it!”

“Stop what?”

“Whatever it is your thinking about.”

“Okay.” Yep, scary empathic abilities…

We were both so drunk that night that we were on the patio of my old apartment, naked, fucking on the couch with not a care or concern in the world that any neighbors would see us. Truly awesome sex, but anyways, when we were done she passed out on my lap wrapped up in my blanket, her face completely relaxed and peaceful when, suddenly, she starts talking to me in this weird, unfamiliar voice…


“I was born in 1846.” Em suddenly said to me, her eyes totally shut, her face smooth and perfectly relaxed.

“Oh, yeah?” I said amused and a little surprised she was still conscious, but still too drunk to realize I should really be freaking the fuck out right now.

“I have seen many things...” Em continues in that perfectly calm voice not her own, “And I tell you now that the man you think you are is not the man you are suppose to be.”

“And what sort of man am I suppose to be?”

“First, you must understand one thing.” She said, and then she stops to breathe in one long breath into her lungs. Suddenly, I am overtly aware of the very real possibility that I am not speaking with Em, but a totally different personality that has taken residency inside my girlfriends body...

Quite mockingly I whisper in her ear that she has my full and undivided attention, which she does, of course, but in truth I am starting to sober up super quick.

“You must first understand that Jesus died on the cross for us. “This was a perfect sacrifice guaranteeing our continued progression beyond the grave. We are all creatures of desire and our desire is for the flesh. We do not come here to be spiritually satisfied. We are already spiritually satisfied! We came down here to obtain the physical, to saturate our desires for the flesh and to then keep it beyond death...” Goosebumps covered my flesh. I am now honestly, fully and inseparably “all ears”.

“Go on. I am listening.”

“When you die there is no heaven, nor a hell, but only a clear and maddening knowledge that you want to be back in the flesh. Some choose to wander, some find a way to return to the flesh unnaturally and others refuse to admit to themselves that they are even dead…” She stops and I cannot help wanting to stop this madness, shake her out of it and forget this whole thing ever happened.

From wherever Em resided in that emptiness of conscious space she must have felt those thoughts, for in the next moment she blinked, opened her eyes rapidly and looked at me with no recognition of what was going on, or where she was and then she remembers, relaxes and with a cat like grace she stretches herself up and out of my blanket letting her naked breasts show me their pink nipples hard and aroused...

“Which way?” I snap out of those deep thoughts to find Em pointing at a fork in the trail.

“Left.” I say, wanting to keep heading up the mountain to get the best view possible of the East Bench. I don’t exactly know what Em thought about the whole thing when I finally told her what happened that night, but once she figured out I was not joking with her, that, indeed, I was dead serious, her brow had furrowed up with calculations and possibilities…it seemed to me that her existence was in question and she needed to find solid ground again before she drifted away into some sea of fiction and make believe. I didn’t see her again for a whole week, but when we finally got back together she told me stories I had not been told before.

Em had spent a summer in Nauvoo, IL several years back where she had been centered in Mormon History and surrounded by ghosts from a violent and dramatic past. She told me she had related quite strongly to the character of Emma Smith and her anger, that tragic disappointment and rage Emma had felt towards her husband, Joseph Smith Jr, when told about polygamy and how God wanted Joseph and the men of the LDS faith to take on other wives…

I tried to connect the two experiences, but Emma was born much earlier than the person I talked to on the porch that night. 1846 places the woman’s birth smack dab in the middle of Nauvoo country where the Mormons had built up a city large enough to threaten nearby counties with their strange religion and eventually caused the citizens of Illinois and neighboring Missouri to raise up a mob and murder.

It was one of the stories that kept me sympathetic towards the church when otherwise I would not be so kind or respectful of their encroachments and assumptive controls over most of my family and their little lives. It was these stories she told me, having decided on her own that if what I had told her was true, then it must have come from Nauvoo. I agreed with her and that was the end of it. We never spoke of it again…

“Babe?” We had come to the top of the trail and the whole of the Salt Lake Valley was laid out before us in a grid of streets, buildings and white noise.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” I say, attempting not to be too obvious as I focus on the East Bench looking for that strange building I had seen in my rear view mirror a month before.

“Yeah…” She says agreeably, no mention of Canada anywhere. I scope the East Bench from one end to the other and see nothing unusual. Surprisingly, I feel disappointed.


Oh well...


“Ready to go back?”

“Yeah, I’m hungry.” She says, “What are you going to make me?”

“Whatever you want, babe.”

“Hmmm.” She likes that, “Whatever I want, huh?”

“Yep.” I say and she moves up close to me and plays with the bottom of my shirt tugging at it and raising her chin at me in conjecture to other, more in depth hungers that could be satisfied. I smile wickedly and take her small waist in my hands pulling her close, sliding one hand down to her bottom and cupping in-between her legs.

“Oh, you dirty old man!” She says with mock indignation, “You would fuck me out here? Where everyone could see us?”

“Yep.”

“Shame on you!” But it turns her on the thought of fucking in public. She is a natural born voyeur and for a moment I believe it will happen that way, but I am too scared of getting caught. Five years in Federal Prison has made me into a perfectly behaved tax paying citizen. I can tell she is disappointed just a little when I stop and start back down the trail. We have gone only a few steps when she gasps.

“Babe!” I turn to find her face devoid of the color of flesh, and in its place is a pale sickly white. She points below us to the East where a massive, gray building has appeared out of nowhere with every characteristic of a 17th century institution for the criminally insane.

“Jesus...” My legs don’t want to work any longer and I have this huge pounding migraine that suddenly echoes inside my temples. The sensation is totally new and I am able only to think of how weird it all is for a few precious seconds before I find myself chasing after Em. She is running at top speeds, those little, Scottish legs moving faster down that trail than I have ever seen them move before.

At first it is not obvious to me that I am not getting any closer to her. I shout out at the top of my lungs for her to stop, come back, slow down, but she will not and soon it is very apparent that I am not going to catch up to her!

“Em!” I scream, “Em STOP!” This is all so mind boggling I just quite running, stop, stare and blow my bloody, smoke damaged lungs out for air. I grab at my head from the pain and now a new pain…it’s in my chest.

“EM!”

Horror.

Absolute fucking horror.

I bite back the pain and force myself to continue the chase, but soon loose sight of her all together. My body is my enemy. It wants nothing more than to sit down in the middle of the trail, puke and fall into unconsciousness.

“FUCK!”

I sit down panting like a dog in the middle of the hottest fucking summer day with not a single lick of shade to be found on the entire planet.


FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!

























4





I first saw Em at Liberty Park on a Sunday when all the hippie, gypsy, Mormon outcasts got together to play their Jim bays, bongos, wooden frogs, flutes and other magical instruments that continue to this day to bring in 4:20 every Sunday all summer long. I can’t smoke herb anymore, but I sure love to smell it and it’s kind of contagious being so close to its effects on those around you.

Em was wearing a white dress and was sitting at the edge of the Drum Circle with a tiny, white, poodle pup tied on a leash who was looking eagerly for something to munch on. She looks all of sixteen years old, so my attention was momentary, but when she showed up to go hiking with me and some friends from the Drum Circle that next week I remembered the white dress and the poodle and asked where the pup was.

“I had to get rid of him.” She said sadly. “Poor Mr. Poodles. He kept peeing everywhere and my roommates told me he had to go.”

“I’m sorry.” I said.

Em was very attractive.

Small, tan skin, little nose and ears.

Once I found out she was 24 years old it’s all over.

I want her.

I want her like I’ve only wanted one other girl in my life. Em looks just like my ex-wife, but with brown hair, not blond. It is a sick, twisted, comparison of similarities, as if I had created a doppelganger from my constant longings for something I could never have again.

We hiked up Bell’s Canyon on that beautiful May afternoon. It just so happens to be the same trail I took right after getting out of prison, my first time being back up in those gorgeous mountains in 5 years.

“See that little, hidden Aspen grove down there?” I asked Em as we passed by a thicket of Aspens and Brush Oak that dropped down steeply on our left into an open area of grass about 33 feet in diameter.

She looked and I told her the story about coming here to give thanks after being in prison for so long and how I found this hidden place and how there was this old campfire with large white rocks that I took and made a circle with, furrowed out a five pointed star in the middle and proceeded to sit down there in lotus style for 7 hours while shrooming my ever loving ass off.

The circle of stones was still there...

“Why would you do that?” She asked, looking up at me like I was the craziest boy on the planet.

“To meditate. To pray. To show my gratitude. To ponder on a question that has been in my head for a very long time.” We turned up the trail and she asked me what that question was.


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