Sunday, January 22, 2012


Rose and I had traveled to Carlsbad, in New Mexico to visit our grandparents.  Their house was very grand, built in the style of a rambling Chinese palace.  The walls were a pure white plaster, and all the accents were bright red.  The doorways were circular, and each room was lit by a single red lantern.
Rose and I had the whole eastern wing of the house to ourselves.  We each had our own rooms, and there was even a little kitchen off of a short hallway.  It was comfortable, but deserted all but for us; that unnerved us a bit, so we tended to keep company with each other throughout most hours of the day.
This afternoon, we were ready to venture from our rooms and look around a little bit; I had heard that an old friend of mine had taken up residence across the street, and I would have dearly liked to go see her.  So, taking our suitcases with us, Carmela and I ventured out the huge double-doors and into the courtyard of the eastern wing.
It was winter, and there was a thin blanket of snow over everything, but the desert plants of the courtyard didn't seem to mind.  In fact, they flourished.  The courtyard was surrounded by a high wall that was too smooth to climb (unless you were really skilled at parkour, I suppose), and the only path out was an elevated walkway lined with cherry trees in bloom.
The walkway was the only way to go.
As we neared the walkway, I noticed something strange about it.  The parts not covered in snow glistened and sparkled in the weak sunlight and appeared to possess a slightly pinkish hue.  The walkway was made entirely out of rose quartz!  In the damp conditions, it was slippery and treacherous, but thankfully there was a handrail.
The path was long and meandering, with a gentle slope downwards, and it reminded me of a gentle river.  A river of was quite beautiful to behold, especially with the addition of a light snow that had begun to fall from the heavens.
Finally, Rose and I made it to the central wing of the building.  The doors and the courtyard here were even more grand than those of the eastern wing.  I pulled open one of the doors and Rose and I walked through.
...Only to find that a wild party was underway.  The heavy scents of alcohol, sweat, cigarette smoke, weed and, strangely enough, garlic bread forced their way into my lungs, causing me to double over and cough for a few moments.  Rose, however, didn't seem to have a problem with it.  I eventually recovered and look up to see my grandfather sitting on a couch directly adjacent to us.  He smiled and waved, beckoning us closer.
Leaving our suitcases at the door, we walked over and joined him on the couch, which was upholstered in a rich, red, silky fabric that gave luxuriantly underneath me to an ample amount of cushion.  Only when we sat down did I realize how tired I was.  Gramps offered us a puff off the joint he was smoking from, but we politely declined.  He shrugged and launched straight into a story about one of his times exploring the Carlsbad Caverns, while Rose listened intently and I half-listening, half-dozed.
The dream faded as I fell entirely asleep, ensconced in the warm cushions and lulled by the sound of people singing nearby.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I walked into the dimly lit shop and waited for my eyes to adjust.  The outside of the store had always intrigued me -- it was a motif of the night sky, painted masterfully, and there was always good music and a wonderful chocolaty aroma emanating from the building's door.  I had been wanting to explore the shop for months.
Immediately to my left was the cashier's counter, which was piled high with records, cassette tapes and CDs; currently in the player was a Red Hot Chili Peppers album that I can't quite remember the name to.
Beyond the counter, the walls and floor were filled with shelves.  The central display bore shoes of all sorts; Converses, sparkly pumps, tennis shoes, flats, etc.  I was immediately drawn to a pair of black knee-high Converse boots with purple laces.  Before I could walk over to try them on, however, I was interrupted by another patron of the shop, who sidled up to me and asked in overly-casual tones, "So.  You new here?"
"Uh...yes?" I replied, not really sure what he was asking.
"Well, my name's Dave, and this is The Shop: Catering to all your needs, be they for fresh produce, high fashion, furniture or household appliances.  The Shop's got it all.  It also doubles as the gathering-place for all the neighborhood's coolest people.  Want a tour around?"
I decided I didn't like this Dave.  He was too loud, too forthcoming, and I didn't like the way he'd lightly grabbed my elbow halfway through his little speech.  I gently tugged my arm from his grasp and told him, "I think I'd like to have a little look around for myself, thanks."
"Have it your way," he shrugged, and moseyed off to the back of the shop, pulling a cell phone out of his pocket as he did so.
I now carried on unimpeded to the Converses.  When I picked them up, I realized that the tag said that they would be about four sizes too large for me, but I wanted to try them on anyways, just to make sure.  I sat down on the floor, removed my own shoes and proceeded to slowly (but surely) untangled the laces and unzip the zippers on the sides.  When I finally had the shoes on my feet, it turned out that they were only a couple sizes too large, but they would still slip off of my feet if I tried to walk around in them.  What a shame.
By the time I was standing up in my own shoes again, The Shop was filled with people.  They were all dressed in a vaguely Gothic way, and they stood in small groups and chatted quietly but amiably, sipping Dr. Peppers and snacking on assorted cheeses and grapes that had suddenly appeared on a platter in front of the shoe display.
A short girl with platinum-blonde hair and a nose piercing walked up to me and introduced herself as Sarah.  "Dave told us a newbie was here, so we came to see what you were all about."  She smiled cutely.  We chatted for a while (thought I can't remember about what) and then parted ways.  I walked slowly through the crowd until I arrived at the cashier's counter, which had been cleared of its load of music and was revealed to be a long, yellow bar, replete with swiveling bar stools.  A group of guys (not including Dave) had taken up all of the seats except for one and were laughing uproariously.
When they had quieted, I strode boldly forward and claimed the remaining bar stool, ordering a Dr. Pepper from the bartender/cashier.
"So, it's the newbie," said the guy sitting next to me.  He was the tall, overly-muscled football-playing type, but his smile was soft and his voice kind.
"Yeah, that's me, what's it to you?" I asked, refusing to be ruffled.
"What's it to me?" he repeated in disbelief.  "Why, I'm here to welcome an important new member of the tightest social group around, and you want to know what I care?"
"Everyone who walks in that door is special in some way, Green," chimed in the guy on my right, a dark-headed fellow with bright blue eyes and a lazy slouch.
"People come here for a reason," agreed the guy on my left.
I suppose that that was supposed to serve as some sort of an explanation, but it only left me more perplexed.  I talked a little while longer with the two guys, occasionally laughing, and then I moved on to other clusters of people.
As I passed in front of the shop window, I happened to see my father get off of the bus and walk down the sidewalk towards The Shop.  For some reason, I badly wanted his presence here.  I willed him to look up and meet my gaze.  He finally did, but just then Dave appeared at my side and started chattering into my ear.  The annoyance of this broke my concentrations and my dad walked on again as if he had never seen me.  I stared after him desperately, pleading silently with him not to leave me alone here, until he finally turned around and made a gesture that somehow asked, "You want me to come in?"  I nodded yes and beckoned to him.  Thirty seconds later, my whole family was standing in the shop, introducing themselves to Sarah.
After the introductions where done, Sarah asked my younger sister, Rose, and I if we wanted to come see something very interesting with her.  Rose and I said that we would.
Sarah led us through The Shop, past the produce and appliance sections, all the way to the very back.  The light was brighter and of a more friendly yellow color here.  We walked past windows that were draped over with old, emerald-green velvet curtains -- except that the curtains were on the other side of the glass.  A shiver of anticipation, premonition and excitement tingled up my spine.  Was she taking us to where I hoped she was taking us?
We eventually stopped in front of an ornate wooden archway, which was also covered by the green curtains.
"You'll have to go by yourselves from here," whispered Sarah.  "The master of the house doesn't like strangers.  But I'm sure you know your way around."  She smiled, wished us luck and left us.  Rose and I glanced at each other with wide eyes and softly pushed our way through the curtains.
The velvet was heavy and stifling, and it smelled oldly of dust and neglect.  Presently, we arrived in what was a posh parlour.  The walls were of a dark panelled oak and the floor was also carpeted with a thick green rug.  What little light that seeped into the room was weak, gray and dusty, filtered through the curtains.  Cracked leather armchairs were buried in dust; their ruddy red-brown color was masked by a fine mist of gray.  In the corner, however, stood a rocking chair that was as bright and colorful as if it was brand new.
Rose and I knew exactly where we were, though.  We raced from the room and into the library, but Rose accidentally knocked a port of flowers from a shelf.  This seemed to summon the young man who walked through a shadowed doorway to our left.  He scowled first at the upended vase and then at us.  He was dressed very dandily in a style that hasn't been seen since the late seventeen-hundreds.  "This is why I don't like strang --" he began, but stopped short, doing a double-take.  "Rose?  Green?..." he whispered, astonished.
"Mac!" we cried, running to hug him.
After our reunion, we spent the remainder of the day clambering over the red tile rooftops of Mac's grand estate, talking amiably about life and enjoying each other's presence.
The dream ended as we basked in the glow of a warm, golden summer sunset, look from the roof out over the rolling hills and being altogether thoroughly satisfied.


It was the last day of the camping trip and the four of us (Mel, Drew, Mandrake and I) were driving out of the park in the car.  Along the way, we passed the ranger station, which we noticed had had a museum wing installed since we had last seen it.  Mel, Drew and I decided to go in and check it out (guided tours were free that day), but Mandrake, who was uninterested, said he would take a bus back to the house and meet us there.  Thus, we parted ways.
The guided tour began, and the exhibits we saw were interesting; they told tales of how the park had been a logging and mining camp before it had been converted into a state preserve.  The museum was dimly lit and consisted of a series of spacious rooms whose walls were decorated with subtitled black-and-white pictures in large frames.
Halfway through the tour, however, a paunchy old man who smelt of onions and old sweat and was dressed in a green-and-red flannel shirt and faded blue jeans sidled up to me and slung his arm around my shoulders, whispering in my ear, "Hello, love.  How's about you follow me and we'll have ourselves a little bit of fun?"
I tensed, readying myself to grab his face and smash it upon my knee, but just as I was about to turn and do so, I felt him press something cold against the small of my back.
"Keep quiet about it and no-one gets hurt, eh?" he whispered.  I was filled with rage. I would gladly die rather than allow myself be violated by him.
With more ferocity than I had known I was capable of mustering, I turned and slammed the heel of my hand into his nose, knowing as I did so that I would break it and shove a splinter of bone up into his brain, killing him instantly; just what he deserved, the wretch.
However, simultaneously, he stabbed me just below the ribcage.  I passed out as I saw him slump lifeless to the ground I didn't feel the pain of the knife; I only felt a grim satisfaction.

I awoke what seemed seconds later in an ambulance that was speeding down a county road that was beautifully lined with maples adorned in their most splendid fall colors.  I still didn't feel any pain from the wound -- perhaps it was shock -- but I was overcome by a bottomless sadness.  I knew I wasn't going to survive.  I turned to my mother with tears in my eyes and whispered, "Tell them I loved them with all my heart.  Especially Mandrake.  Tell them..."
And then I lost consciousness again and knew that my life was over.


It was the evening of the big gig, and Rose and I were packing up our gear in preparation for the short drive over to the local thrift store, where we were playing for some sort of block-party event that was being held there.  Somehow, we managed to pack both guitars, amps and a huge amount of connective cords into the pull-behind bicycle trailer.
Then, we biked down quiet roads flooded with golden, late-afternoon summer sunlight.  We reached our destination just as the sun was setting.
We checked in with the shop-owners, the sound technicians and the stage crew before proceeding to set up, though by now I was beginning to realize that everything was not fine and dandy with Rose.  She looked a little pale and her brow was furrowed with worry.
"Green," she said to me, "I don't think we're ready to play this gig."
I immediately became frustrated.  After all, I had spent months teaching her to how to play the guitar, and now she just wanted to back out.
"I think we should go home," she continued.  "I forgot some of my stuff anyways..."
I knew that if Rose wasn't going to play, Rose wasn't going to play.  I might have been able to solo the gig, but that would leave Rose alone and unprotected, and I didn't want anything to happen to her...
Eventually, after apologizing profusely, we packed up again and biked carefully home in the dark.