Category Archives: character
The Worst Day of the Year — and an Announcement
It’s started. Already. I’m gettin’ the calls for St. Patrick’s Day ink requests and I’ll be the only one workin’. Man, I hate that day. Now, don’t go thinking I got a problem with the Irish, or those that think they’re Irish, or those that wish they could think they’re Irish. I don’t. I just don’t wanna have to do any fuckin’ four leaf clovers.
I swear, as soon as New Years is over, every fucker who wants a tat suddenly decides he’s fuckin’ Irish. The closer to March 17, the more likely it is the dude’ll be too pissed to see straight, demanding I give ’em a shamrock on the balls or somethin’. Try tellin’ a drunk fuck you can’t do his ink because his blood’s thin and he’ll bleed all over the fuckin’ floor. The next thing you know, you’re rollin’ on the tiles as the dickhead screams about you denyin’ his heritage. Then, there’s blood on the floor anyways. And it sure as shit ain’t mine. Still don’t make it any more fun to clean up.
I tried switchin’ shifts early this year, but Trey’s already planned to be drunk in anticipation of sitting his black ass down and celebrating his “Irish” heritage proper, and my boss is the one who handed me the shit gig in the first place. So it’s gonna be me and the piercing chick (whatever her name is, piercing chick #7, I guess; they come and go like there’s a revolvin’ door) and I don’t think she’s gonna be much help.
I’m gonna tell ’em they gotta take a breathalyzer test by law and the machine’s broke.
I’m gonna lock the fucking door and make ’em show me what they want before I let ’em in.
I’m gonna tell ’em I’m out of green ink.
Fuck it. I’m gonna do the four leaf clovers. I’m just gonna charge ’em triple. They’ll all be too wasted to notice.
So, call to check my schedule. I’ll give you a discount if you don’t want nothin’ Irish (no shamrocks, no Celtic, druid or pagan crap, no leprechauns, not even one of those ugly ass setter dogs).
If want any of the above, you’d best be ready to pay, and feel some pain.
Now that I’ve got y’all all worked up, Avery wanted me to tell y’all that she’s got some book or nother coming out on Thursday. Tells me it’s got some familiar people in it, whatever that means. I don’t read much, but I guess y’all might. So, there ya go. I told ya about it. You’ve been given official notice, so don’t let her give me shit about it, later.
Religion’s Dead–Or on Walkabout
When I was a kid, I thought a monster was under my bed. I could hear him hissin’ and growlin’ under there. My ma told me it was the radiator and stop being such a retard. Didn’t convince me, tho. I knew. It was down there, waitin’. The next time it started hissin’, I yelled again. This time my ma came in with a baseball bat. She told me to shut up ’cause she was busy and if the thing came creepin’ up the foot of my bed like i said it was, to hit it in the damn head. I held that chunk of wood and knew there wouldn’t be any more noises after that. Just like I believed in the monster, I believed in that bat.
Later on, when birdie powder and bad boyfriends made my ma more likely to hit me with a bat than gimme one, my beliefs still were about that bat. It was solid. It would deliver pain–and sometimes save me from it. I did some things with that bat most of you’d turn away from. I did some things all of you would say I’m a bad person for. If I am or not, well, that’s not part of this, so I ain’t gonna get into it. It’d end up a big circle of a talk with no answer at the end, anyways. Might as well leave it.
In high school, right about when that bat started gettin’ me into too much shit, I found something else to believe in. A new student from Bal’more named Resonance. She looked to me like this surly girl who’d just as much kick you in the teeth as say somethin’, but the funny thing ’bout her was she liked to pretend she was invisible most of the time. She’d slink around the halls, duckin’ past whatever was in her way, makin’ sure she didn’t have to look at no one. But, every once in a while, someone would do somethin’ she couldn’t overlook and she’d pop out of the shadows and it was all fangs and fury for a good thirty seconds. Then, she’d disappear again.
She still likes to think I didn’t see her, didn’t notice her until she noticed me. That ain’t the truth. I saw her. I watched her, waited to see if she’d ever drop the invisible shit and just be, you know? Then I pulled some shit in class one day and she just–exploded. Not in a crazy, gun-toting, school-burning way, or anythin’. You know that Wizard of Oz movie, where everything is black and white, and then the chick in the house lands and, boom, it’s all color? That’s what it was. She turned to color. And everthin’ around her did the same.
After that, I didn’t need that bat. Life was alive ’cause she was. The walls were colored for her. Music was there so she could pull me into the pit and thrash around like we were forged from anger itself. The air was there just so her mouth could go on lettin’ out whatever the fuck it was she felt like sayin’.
When the stepdad from hell started layin’ in on me, she’d tell me it’d be okay someday soon. And it was like I finally understood those people who stuffed themselves into their good clothes to pack the churches on Sunday. She spoke. I believed. She became my church. My religion.
Now the church is empty. And I can’t go back. That bat’s just a hunk of wood. Even that monster can’t get ahold of me, now. My beliefs changed and all that lived before she walked in on my life has washed down the drain like dirty water. I’m clean. Born again. I embraced the color and then the world went all gray again. I saw the light, then the light upped and split.
The Easy Thing of Breathing
When people go away, the ones left always say, “I can’t live without ’em.” It’s a feelin’, sure and certain, deep down. It tells us that’s how things are gonna be. But, the cigarettes disappear from the box, the boxes vanish from the carton, and each day rolls into the next, an endless trudge of smoke and grief. Even tho’ that damn feelin’ keeps gnawin’ our insides into slush, we keep pullin’ in the next breath. We stay alive.
Life sucks, plain and simple. No matter how much we wanna lay down and die, it keeps beatin’ the shit out of us day after day. The only way to stop it is to blow your fuckin’ brains out. If that ain’t your cup of piss, then the sun keeps on comin’ up, the seasons change, and the days march ahead, draggin’ you along like the prisoner you finally realize you are.
I didn’t think I’d make it thru Christmas. I thought time was gonna stop, the air would dry up, and I’d die on the floor of my apartment like a floppin’ fish stranded on an island of grungy laundry.
And then it didn’t happen.
I dunno how I feel about that.
Still, the happy crapfest is over and I can breathe a little–for now, anyways. Her birthday is soon. She’ll be twenty-three. I got her present wrapped and waitin’, like I still got the one from Christmas. I guess they’ll stack up until I see the end of this thing, or it sees the end of me. I already found out that last one probably ain’t gonna happen, so they’ll just sit and collect dust for her–collect it in my place, I guess.
That Time of Year
Yeah, Spider here. Still. I ain’t lookin’ forward to Christmas much, even less than usual. With Res not around, it’s like, what’s the point, you know? Even tho’ I don’t remember much about Christmases with her; we’d start drinkin around noon on Christmas Eve and wouldn’t stop until just ’bout New Year. That part don’t matter. She was there. I remember that.
When I was a kid, Christmas wasn’t a big deal. Sometimes we had a tree. Sometimes we didn’t. Most times there were no presents. None for me, anyway. It’s like those people who make commercials and sing songs and write cards don’t get real life. They build up this dream picture of what should be goin’ on, snow and skating and stuff. For most people snow is never gonna happen. In D.C. it’s pretty damn close to never. They sing ’bout fires (and not the one every year at the crackhouse down the street) and chestnuts, and talk ’bout families hanging together and laughing and singing. For a lot of us, it just ain’t that way. Makes a little guy hate it when December comes. Makes a teenager hate the sight of a tree. Makes a man just want to drink ’til it’s all over.
That’s where she came in. Didn’t try to get me see the error of my ways–even tho’ she dug Christmas up until last year. Didn’t shove stupid hats on my head or bring a tree to my place to set up. She just hung and made it like any other day. I guess by doing that, she made it okay for it to be Christmas.
So, to all you fuckers out there standing around your fires and singing your songs, know you’re lucky. To the rest, the shop’ll be open. Come on in and I’ll give you the present you really want, the one your Mama will hate.
Merry Christmas, Res. I miss you, girl.
Not Close Enough Encounters
Spider here, again. It’s too early to have my eyes open, let alone be writing in this damn thing. I gotta go to work later, but until then I’ve got this big gap of time and I’m thinking this shit crawlin around in my head is just gonna get worse. I tried to go outside and smoke, thinking the air would clear my brain, but it didn’t help. These thoughts are all jammed up in there and I got to get em out, ya know? I see now why Res liked this blogging shit. It’s a place to get things like this into the open so the pressure in my head can maybe let up.
I dreamed, or sort of dreamed, last night. It was like being and watchin’ all at the same time. Like I was someplace else, but still here. See, Stone (that’s my roommate) was smokin’ the fuck outta some shit last night and I guess I might have breathed in a little of it. It was good shit and by the time I got into my room and fell on the bed, I felt like I was being pulled backwards, like the mattress was sucking me into it. It pulled me so far in I thought I was going to be swallowed whole. I couldn’t really breathe. The covers were choking me. Then the pull switched to push and spit me out into space.
Sounds like cosmic hippie shit, right? That’s how it went down, tho’. I flew out there and it was just like floating in nowhere. It wasn’t too bad, that floating. Then it was like some other sense inside me got sharper and then I could sense her; Resonance. I couldn’t see her or nuthin’, but I felt her. She was far away–really far, like a far I could never get to no matter how many miles I drove or how many planes I took. And she was hurt and scared and pissed off. But she wasn’t shouting out for me, or that dude Quinn, or anyone. With all that goin on, she was still o.k, in charge of her own shit, still the fortress she’d always been.
And now I’m awake–not that I’m sure I was really dreamin’–and my head’s about to explode with it all. It was her. I know that. That’s not even a question. But where she was, and why, that’s what I can’t get my head around. And, if she’s so far away, so outta my reach, how in the hell am I gonna get her back?
I’ve smoked half a pack already and all I can think of is I can’t get to her. I can’t help her. Not if I rob a hundred banks and raise ten million dollars. Not if I get that gun from under the counter at the shop and threaten everyone on the planet. Not if I stomp a thousand skulls into the pavement. I can’t help her. I can’t. And that’s pretty much all I’ve been goin’ on for the past couple months.
I don’t know what to do. I can’t move on without her, but standing still is killin’ me.
All ‘Bout Spider
Spider again. I’m still gettin’ used to this sharing thing. I’m glad for the love, but if I don’t answer y’all’s comments much, don’t take it personal. I’m not used to talking into space to whoever wants to listen. I’m not used to talking much at all–‘cept to those who know me. And that number is few and far between.
I can’t even believe Res did this blog shit. She doesn’t talk to no one except me. Hell, even then it usually was like pulling teeth. Don’t get me wrong, the girl can run her mouth like a cheerleader on coke, but it’s usually not about much at all. Then she came here and poured out her heart and soul to all you fuckers. Yeah, it pisses me off. And, Res, we’re gonna have some things to square when you come back. You know what I’m talkin’ about, this–and that other thing.
I guess it’s ’bout time I told y’all a little something about me. Name’s Spider, you got that already. The other name I had before was given to me by a woman whose main purpose in life was to find the next bar, the next stash of gutter glitter and the next winner with a dick and handy supply of cash to finance it all. Didn’t matter if he hit her. Didn’t matter if he hit me. So, you can see where that name doesn’t mean shit to me anymore.
The winning bachelor for my mom’s hand turned out to be Steve, a jackass drunk who got together with her when I was fourteen. He did all of the above, once cracking me in the face with a beer bottle for taking one of his smokes. Mom did nothing. She was too afraid he’d up and split. It must’ve been my fault. I must’ve provoked it. Stop being such a pain-in-the-ass, Spider. You know, you’ve seen it on every cheesy-ass Hallmark movie going. I guess writers need to get their ideas from real life at some point.
Teachers really didn’t care. By the time Steve started slamming on me, I was already THAT kid–the one destined for jail. I guess thinking that made it easier for them to ignore the bruises. Since it was my fate to go to prison, I decided I’d go ahead and earn it. I smoked–still do. I drank–still do. Decided high school sucked. I pretty much ignored all my classes until I got tired of it all and left after my second stint at tenth grade. I managed to find jobs here and there. Some were legal. Others weren’t.
Then, some shit went down at home, and I had to go away for a while. When I got back–I guess I should say, ‘Out’—I found more trouble through a roommate who dealt. He made it easy. I got into heroin and I dragged Res down with me. We chased the dragon for two years. Then, people started dying. All around us, friends, associates–they just died. The party stopped. We cleaned up. I retched and barfed and shook and moaned while Res sat there holding my head, looking like she’d decided to stop eating spinach. I woulda been pissed if she hadn’t been so nice. Lots of chicks will come around to get high, but not many will stick around to mop up the puke.
After I’d been clean a while, I ran into an old high school buddy. We’d had the same problem with school, not fitting in, not liking learnin’ shit we knew we would have zero use for in the real world. We both sat and drew in our binders while whatever teacher stood in front of us blabbering on about whatever. He remembered that. He remembered my work. And he said he could hook me up with his tattoo shop ’cause they were looking for an apprentice. I didn’t have much else to do at the time, so I said yeah.
I figured I’d be there a month and quit. Almost did. Didn’t like people tellin’ me to scrub the nasty toilet or run and buy cigarettes and sandwiches for the rest of them. But, I did like the drawing. And once they let me practice on a pig’s foot, I was sold. I choked down more words in that time. Shit, I nearly severed my tongue biting it when I thought I just couldn’t take their shit anymore.
But, I made it through. Now I’ve got a good number of clients and I’m getting a pretty solid rep. I’m even thinking of going solo. “The Web” tattoo shop. “Spider’s Lair.” Okay, maybe I’ll wait until my girl gets back to decide on a name. She’s better at that shit than me.
Now you assholes know all about me. Take it as the truth, or be a disbelieving shithead and go away. I really don’t care.
Res, girl, Christmas is coming. I don’t want to be the only one punting lawn Santas.
Here I am, keeping my promise to keep this journal going until my girl gets back. There’s been no word from her, and the few leads the police had have gone cold. It’s like she just vanished.
I went to Tyne a few days ago and talked with her mom again. Even tho’ we’ve never seen eye-to-eye, she actually let me in her house and talked with me for a while. I have to admit, it was pretty weird, us chattin’ like two people who could actually tolerate the sight of each other. She told me Res left without taking anything other than a few handfuls of clothes, the jacket she snatched from some girl I was with last year, and that army bag we doctored with band patches and spray paint when we were fifteen. And that was it. Nothing personal. No mementos. And–the thing that makes me so antsy–no money or credit cards. That just don’t fit how Res works. If she was going away, she’d have cleaned Meg out before she went. But she didn’t.
If her intention was to vanish, then she did a goddamn good job of it. Something’s wrong in all this–wronger than her disappearing, I mean. First off, she wasn’t herself. I mean, she wasn’t herself since her dad kicked it, but when she found out she was moving to Hicksville USA, she got worse. In fact, she got downright strange. It was like she didn’t even want to talk to me anymore. She thought she was doing a great song-and-dance routine, keeping me in the dark, but she should’ve fucking known better. I know her better than anyone and I knew something was goin’ on. I could hear it in her voice. But she wouldn’t tell me. Now she’s missing, and it’s like she meant to take so little, like she was expecting not to, well, like she knew from the beginning of all this she was going–and then she just did it.
But to where? And why didn’t she come to me? Why couldn’t she trust me to keep her safe from whatever the fuck it was she was running from?
I can’t worry too much about her, though. I don’t think there’s anyone that can take my girl down. There’s just something about her that’s pretty fucking scary. Maybe she’s just on a head trip, out walkin’ the earth or some shit, trying to figure out what’s what. The least she could could do is send me a fucking postcard, or something.
Christmas is coming up. She used to ditch her family to hang with me, ’cause she knew I didn’t really have any. We’d go to a bar and get lit. I really dug those dives that stayed open on every holiday. Everyone in there was the same. They either had no one, or didn’t like the ones they had, so they drank and listened to shit music on the jukebox with each other, instead. Unification in Freakdom. Amen.
This year I have no one to drink with. And drinking alone with the loners just aint gonna do it for me. I volunteered to keep the tattoo shop open. I doubt there’ll be many walk-ins, but I have one appointment. This guy wants me to put his profile mugshot on the side of his neck, so when anyone looks at him from the side, they’ll see him as he is now, and then what he used to be. I guess it’s a cool idea, tho’ it probably won’t open up a lot of doors in the career department. But, the guy’s not too sharp anyway, so I’m guessing it’ll even out.
Some guys would refuse to do that kind of ink. Me? I don’t care. If that’s what the dude wants, well, who am I to tell him it ain’t? My job is to make sure it don’t look like shit, but other than that, he can get a tattoo of the Pope’s dick if he wants.
My next client will be in in a few minutes. I’m gonna go grab a smoke in this shit-ass wind before he gets here. If anyone wants to come in on Christmas, bring me a turkey leg and I’ll give you half-off your ink.
And to the dude who said after my last post, “Never trust anyone named Spider,” well, man, you’re probably right on that one, most days, and with most people. Hell, with all people–‘cept her.
Changing the Guard, or Something Like That
I dunno how this all goes, what I’m supposed to say and all that. Mass introductions and announcements ain’t my thing. So, I guess I’ll just to go the important part first, which is where I need to be, anyway:
Resonance is gone.
I’m Spider, Res’ friend from D.C. No one knows where she’s gone off to, or why. From what I got from her mother (who is of the mind I’m the devil and am somehow to blame, even though I’m three hours away) she split not long after I came to visit. For a few days I expected her to show up on my doorstep, but she never did.
I dunno why I’m writing this. I guess I’m hoping she’ll check in here and see I’m looking for her.
So, Res, if you’re out there, girl, let me know you’re okay. I’m gonna keep writing in this blog thing until you come back, so you know we’re looking for you–me, your mom, even that Quinn guy you’ve been doing whatever with.
Look, I don’t care what you’ve done. Those people in Tyne won’t tell me, but I know something’s up. Whatever it is, I don’t care. Never have, you know that. Just come home, girl. Come back to me.
Until you do, this’ll be my candle in the window so you’ll know I’m here, waiting.
You know how we all like to think of ourselves in a certain way? How we want to see the best person possible, even when all evidence points to the contrary? Why is that? Why can’t we just accept who we are, what we are? Would accepting that we’re less than perfect (or slightly better than totally fucking flawed) really make that much difference?
I’ve been finding out some things about myself, lately. Quinn (the guy from the funeral home) has been kind enough to play the part of enlightener. That’s not really fair. There have been others, too–others who gave me more solid evidence that the person I see in the mirror isn’t who I think she is. But it’s Quinn who drives the knowledge home, makes what they tell me seem more real. Along the way, he somehow manages to do what everyone else has failed to do–make me feel bad about it.
I’ve done some things, recently. I haven’t been a good person. Not remotely. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to be this big hero when all I do is fuck up. I’m trying, for once, really trying to do more than just get by. But it seems everything I do just causes damage.
I used to be kind of careless as a kid. I was always rushing around, not paying attention to where I was, only to where I was going. I’d bump into things and break them. “A bull in a China shop,” my mom would always say. She was right. That’s what I was. And it’s still what I am. I’m still rushing towards my destination, leaving little broken pieces scattered behind me.
When I was younger, my parents had expectations. They expected me to work hard and get good grades, and I did. Then, when I shifted away from being that girl, they expected me to up and switch back. After that, they simply expected me to stay alive long enough to move the hell out of the house. Now, my mom’s only expectation is to expect nothing from me. And you know what? I kinda enjoyed that.
Things are changing, though. Doing and being nothing is no longer an option for me. The deck has been re-shuffled and a whole new game has been dealt–and it’s for me alone to play.
Even though my entire future is laid out before me, I don’t know what’s coming. Can I rely on myself to pull it together? Do I even care enough to try? Can I get by with just going through the motions and not involving myself any more than necessary in the situation at hand? Am I the one they all say I am? The one capable of doing what needs to be done? Or (as I heartily suspect) have the expectations been wrongly assigned?
I feel like a hiccup in that birthday party donkey game. I’m off to the side, watching fate being blindfolded and spun. Fate sets out across the living room with that little tail, wandering far away from the intended target. Dizzy and disoriented, the blindfolded fate misses the donkey altogether, and mistakenly slaps the tack in Reluctant Partygoer Number One.
So, here I am with a braided yarn tail stuck in the center of my forehead while those fucking expectations surround me; crawling up my nose, clogging my ears, drowning me in their insistency.
I really hate birthday parties.