“In the someday, what’s that ‘S’ sound?”

Title taken from Nirvana, “I Hate Myself And Want To Die”

image

I’ve read several posts of late stating September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. I recently blew the mind of a mental health social worker by dropping the term “suicidal ideation” during a clinical assessment. He went on to coyly suggest that, as “suicidal ideation” is a term most people are apparently unfamiliar with, I had perhaps researched various mental illnesses in an effort to make myself seem more symptom-afflicted than I actually am. Fuck you.

I think about suicide nearly every day. Not always in the sense of serious contemplation of a final solution for myself, although the rare particularly bad period might have me going that far, mentally. Usually it is just the casual acknowledgement that suicide remains an option, a way out, as sort of a morbid and deranged comfort blanket. Usually, I just have the thought, and then shrug, and then move on with my day.

But, as someone who does display symptoms of suicidal ideation, and in the spirit of this time period apparently set aside for awareness of such, I will say that being unbiased and non-judgementally supportive of The Afflicted is about the best and only thing one can do to try and prevent potential suicide in a client, friend or loved one. Reducing the stigmas surrounding mental illness will go a long fucking way towards reducing the chances that a person in suffering will pursue a final solution to their pain. Showing support, empathy, kindness, and simply being “there” for a person is the best way to make them feel safe and secure, and to foster an environment wherein they may choose to open up and ask for help when they need it.

Beyond that, it really isn’t up to you. It isn’t up to anyone but the person who is suffering. We as damaged people must have the desire to seek a way out of our particular suffering. All the support and awareness in the world won’t save a person who is unwilling or unable to change. And, sad as it is to say, someone who is truly fixated on taking their end into their own hands will not be stopped. Those of us close to him saw the warning signs and interrupted several attempts, but in the end my “brother” Branden found the end he wanted.

Fuck, what a downer of a post, huh?! Maybe I should include a picture of something adorable, like a drunk monkey…

🍸🙊🍺🐒🍻

There ya go… 😉

For anyone who needs it, the website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is https://www.afsp.org

image

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Musings on a Wednesday: Randomness and Observations

image

– There’s nothing like the smell of wet cow ass in the morning. It smells like…well, like wet cow ass.

– Must be a leak over my bunk when it rains heavy, because I slept in a wet spot that I am 98% sure I didn’t make. Okay….82% sure.

– Is it oxymoronic to despise someone you’ve just met and otherwise know nothing about, based solely on their apparent association with a hate group? I feel like it kind of is, but I also feel like I’m kind of okay with that.

I don’t have to know a KKK member to think they are a piece of shit.

— Lady Mary

– Getting paid to do a whole lot of nothing for eight hours and then being rained out for the last two make for an easy workday. But an easy workday is not necessarily a “good” workday. Because FUCKING BORING!

– Somebody should start a cell phone service marketed specifically to the oilfield and pipeline that gets decent service out in all these B.F.E. locations. Since it’s for the oilfield and pipeline, they could overcharge like crazy and motherfuckers will pay it. You could make MILLIONS.

– I often consider murder as a preferable alternative to finding ways to coexist with a deplorable person. Then I think, well, that isn’t very Buddhist of me. Then, I double check which direction the blade on my pocket knife unfolds, in case I need to open it quickly.

image

– The worst thing about using a freshly-pumped portable shitter is having the chemical water splash back up from a “projectile” and coat your undercarriage with filth. Well…that’s maybe not the worst thing, but it’s up there…

– So many many things in this world piss me off. You may have noticed. But few things piss me off more than unsubstantiated arrogance and swagger. Perhaps it has something to do with the apparent “fact” that those who actually have something to be cocky about generally are conversely humble and gracious. The motherfuckers that strut and cackle usually don’t have shit to back it up. Usually.

I will not do what the tick tells me to…
… I will not do what the tick tells me to…
… I will not do what the tick tells me to…
…I will not…….

— The Ryan

– Some days, when a person or situation disrupts my delicate sensibilities to the extent that the Others take over before I can practice “letting go,” I end up in a downward spiraling snowball of scorn and loathing that grows to consume the entirety of my consciousness to the point that I can only see the destruction of all existence as a solution. I feel only hatred. I can no longer see through my own perspective and headspace to determine if this is simply a byproduct of my sickness, if my anger and sense of apocalyptic hatred is just and warranted, if anyone or anything even deserves to fucking live, to exist. I say lay waste to the wasted. Be done with it.

Fuck money, fuck friends, fuck family! Fuck pussy, fuck drugs, fuck sanity! I don’t give a shit! Why?! ‘Cuz ignorance is bliss! Right?!

— Flatbush ZOMBiES, “Bliss”

– Sometimes I like pie. But not apple pie. Unless it is green chile apple pie. Seriously, yo…that shit is bomb.

image

– No matter who you are, no matter what it is…music fixes everything. At least until the song’s over. Then you might actually have to do something yourself to keep shit fixed. But, fuck that, right?! ;-D

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain…

— Bob Marley

– The moment I am writing something, it is the most brilliant and insightful thing ever committed to paper. The moment after I write something, I despise it with the fury of one thousand suns. I feel like I am not alone in this.

– I am stuck at the crossing of what is essentially a different version of the same fucking train I spent forty minutes trapped by a couple of weeks ago. I know this because of the graffiti. Or because I only dreamt this before, and now the shit is happening for real. And I have no data connection.

image

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tormentor (I Am The Meteor Hammer)

image

Title: Fister, “Flail” from the PRIMITIVE MAN/FISTER Split 12″

I’ve been reflecting lately on the pervasive idea that I don’t have anyone in my life who I trust implicitly. Obsessive ruminations feeding a chasm of paranoia. An inability to forgive, to see the other side, to let go. Precious solitude reflected in a negative. Strangers seem easier, but only objectively. There is no worry in the unknown there, because nobody actually exists to me until I have to look them in the eye. And then suddenly they are all too real, and in an instant they own a piece of me which I never knew I had, never knew enough to miss until it is ripped away. I tell myself lies like there aren’t many pieces left, in feeble attempts at self comfort, but the truth I keep buried in the back of my skull is that this will go on infinitely because two things are forever. And one of them is suffering.

image

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Woe is Me: So Far Down, Still Feeling Kicked

image

Goddamnit all. Another blow to progress. The law of averages would suggest that eventually something has to fall into place, but then again, you all know how we feel about “laws” around here…

Fuck it.

I try to feel fortunate for what I do have and for the support that keeps me from truly being homeless and destitute right now. It would be nice, though, to see a way out. And to not have that way out be suddenly overrun with a catastrophic deluge of bullshit and motherfuckery.

Rant over. Fuck it.

image

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

…art reflects life reflects art reflects life reflects…

image

…art reflects life reflects art reflects life reflects…

Experience shows us the objects of our obsession are reflected back at us from all corners. I have been consumed with feeling tossed aside, abandoned, of being failed by those I once felt closest to. So I see that in everything.

Watching last night’s episode of Better Call Saul thematically recalled this decimating track from PRIMITIVE MAN, which itself is a reflection of the tone of that current self obsession…

“all
will fail you
your family
will fail you
give up/fuck up
all this sorrow
consumes
all I love
life’s blood
is bound
chained down
to a finer grave
lined with shame
that is all mine
may their names
rot away
and turn to dust
in hell…”

image

Conversations Held at the…

image

Conversations Held at the Southern Arizona Irish Buddhist Man-Beast Wildlife Preserve (The CHATSOAZIRBUDMABEWIPR):

Need anything else while I’m out and about?
Hmmm….a new attitude?
For me, or for you?
For me.
What if I only find one? Who should get it?
Herman.
Or, I suppose we could split it four ways.
I don’t think it will be that expensive…
The new attitudes?
No, the handle. But it won’t come up on here. AAGHHH! Fuck it.
Yeah! Fuck it!

😀

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You Oughtta Know

image

Most of the conflict in my life as it relates to the Others (all you people who, as far as I can tell, don’t exist inside of my head) is that I expect motherfuckers to know what I am thinking, what I want, and what I expect from you Others at any given moment. When this does not happen I get irritated and confused and my thoughts become all jumbled and manic — with a touch of psychotic, on occasion — and then I start fights that exist and play out solely in my imagination. Or, if my shit is really all mixed up, I will simply lash out in violence and loathing. My level of zen is directly related to how fully other people are living up to my expectations in any given moment, and since I forget to divulge any information about what those expectations are, y’all motherfuckers rarely live up to my oh so delicate and vital needs. This is probably why I plod through much of my daily existence in scornful, belligerent aggression. It has probably already given me stomach cancer, which would explain why my stomach constantly aches like a infernal burning pyre suffocating itself for lack of oxygen.

image

That’s another thing, when I am not getting the needy self-centered stimulation that my egotistical emotional psychosis desires, my brain acts out in irrational obsessive fears by doing things like convincing itself Our body is ripe with cancer, or the pervasive conviction that I am actually dead, that some long ago occurance that We experienced as a near-death experience, a close call, actually fucking killed Us, and everything that has “happened” since then has been merely a run-out of electricity, the last desperate gasps of life and brain activity draining out of me in prolonged dream-life flashes. Sometimes, if I see the same “stranger” more than once throughout my day, or if I get separated from a companion inside a grocery store, or any number of other miniscule moments of existential crisis, I find myself having to prove to myself through what are probably ridiculous and absurd subjective mind games and thought puzzles that I am in fact NOT schizophrenic, that my Lady or my mother or that guy on the bus or the person walking along behind me are in fact NOT projections of my own mental delusions, and that the entirety of being that I perceive as “real” does not actually exist solely within my mind.  You can’t tell me you’re “real” though. Because that’s just what a delusion would say.

image

I think it’s safe to say that madness is relative. And all my relatives are fucking MAD, baby.

I love you. No, I hate you! I want to start a fight with you to give you an opportunity through your response and reactions to prove to me your affection. Problem is, your reaction will never match the script I have written in my mind, and I am the kind of director that allows no room for improvisation. Just fucking dance when I tell you to dance, monkey. MONKEEEY!!!

image

In any case, I am fairly certain the crazy pills are no longer working. Sucks for me that my crazy caused me to freak out at work and quit my shithouse job several months ago. Sucks for me that my primary care physician left his practice abruptly, leaving me in between providers. Sucks that it takes centuries to get on the panel of a new physician. Sucks that my insurance coverage ran out before I could see a fucking new doctor about how the Crazy is taking over. Sucks that I my neurotic mindfuck bullshit manic psychoses have made it oh so difficult to find new employment, something I cannot seem to find the motivation to give a shit about in the first place right now. Sucks that, with the exception of those moments I am with my Baby (my zen personified), I can hardly go out in public, or even exist inside my own head comfortably, without regressing into anxiety and panic and anger and disquiet and unease and scorn and loathing and hatred and madness and horrible violent aggression. Sucks that the Crazy has run out of targets and now lashes out at my zen personified and pushes Us towards absolute emotional meltdown in front of Our Lady. Sucks that every effort We expend to try and explain or make sense of Our savage brain fry shit storm head case only serves to confuse Us and push all else further and further away.

image

You like how We are not placing responsibility for any of this on The Ryan?  We are infallible. Y’all motherfuckers must bend to Our will or suffer Our wrath! Fucking get it together, vile creatures of this strange and terrible Reality!

This has been Our Stream of Consciousness Saturday post for this asshole of a day, the Twenty First of February, Two-Thousand Fifteen. It’s okay doh, cuz Love is in Da Blog, yo. Can’t you feel it? ;D

image

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Cobblestone Walkway of Broken Chords: Piecing Together Mine Own History of Music, Part I

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” — Victor Hugo

"Sky Pilot" by Virgil C. Stephens, www.musicalpainter.com

“Sky Pilot” by Virgil C. Stephens, http://www.musicalpainter.com

Anyone who knows me for even a few hours is aware of how ingrained music is in my life. I wish I could say that I meant creating music, but that is another project, and perhaps a discussion for another day. Here, I speak of my lifelong passionate appreciation of, and sometimes fanatic devotion to, the music created by other artists. Lately, I’ve been pondering the paths upon which my musical quests have taken me. My own Mellifluous Origin Story, so to speak. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about my earliest memories as a “fan”, even before I could have known what that meant, and about the way in which my tastes and interests in music, artists, genres, movements grew and progressed. And perhaps, in the end, reflecting on where I’ve come from might give me some insight into where I’m headed, hmmm?

(Origin Stories, You Say?)

My oldest memory is one that has stuck with me since childhood, always stored closely away for quick recollection or quiet reflection. Appropriately so, too, since that is precisely what a memory is, and is For. Time and experience have inevitably shaped and even, with subtlety or not, perhaps altered this memory, but that is not what’s important. With reminiscences, truth and accuracy do well to fall by the wayside of emotion and essential substance.

In this memory — and thereby, of course, once upon a time in my life — I am a toddler, probably no more than two years of age. I am sitting in my car seat, which is resting on the floor of the living room of our first home, a modified mobile home with custom additions and improvements built by my Pops. A Redneck Mansion, if I may.

redneck mansion

It is strange for me to think back to moments like this and remember my parents when they were younger than I am now. Those people were KIDS! And they were raising a human! But not just any human.

Ryan Toddler

ME.

What happened?!  So many things...

What happened?! So many things…

But I digress…

I am sitting in my car seat, staring in awe and wonder at the thick, bowed-glass screen of our giant wooden box of a television. On the screen towers Billy Idol. Blonde, spiked hair. Signature snarl. Punk rock attitude. Rebel Yell. I was enthralled, and I, too, wanted MORE… But, being an infant, I had neither the means nor the experiential knowledge necessary to seek out and acquire more, and so my development fell by the wayside. (Two uses of that expression in one essay! Not bad…)


From here, for a time, I entered a period known as The Dark Ages… Not much is known of The Dark Ages, because it was so very Dark.

Dark Ages Artwork by jonasdero.deviantart.com

Dark Ages Artwork by jonasdero.deviantart.com

My next major development, as far as my fragmented memory can recall, would foreshadow a significant coexistence throughout my musical travels between music and film. By fourth grade, my lifelong buddy Brandon and I had met and bonded over mutual weirdness, a proclivity towards the fringe, and a shared obsession with Billy the Kid. At the time, of course, this primarily manifested in a fixation with the Young Guns movies, and by extension the Bon Jovi soundtrack for Young Guns II. As we blasted “Blaze of Glory” and “Dead or Alive” from that sweet, sweet early 90s boom box and fashioned “I’ll Make Ya Famous” pistol stamps and collages in art class, we were convinced that Bon Jovi and the like were the epitome of bad-ass rock musicians. Later, Denis Leary would set us straight, but for now, fuckin’ “Never Say Die” was where it was AT!


From there, Brandon and I discovered music through movies we, occasionally in ignorance and naivety, attached our sensibilities to, such as Cool World and Wayne’s World. (I sense a pattern?) Not all was for naught, however. Because, in the very least, those movies introduced us to David Bowie, Ministry, Queen, RHCP, Ugly Kid Joe, Alice Cooper…actually, the Wayne’s World soundtrack is still pretty fuckin’ good!

But I digress…

None of this could have prepared Brandon and I — or the world at large, as history would prove — for what would happen next in our euphonious lives. The early 90s found us and all of rock ‘n roll on the precipice of something that was never intended to indelibly mark and reshape culture and society the world over. But nothing significant or culturally affluential ever is. I speak, of course, about the tidal wave of social hysteria and upheaval that was Nirvana.

Nirvana

Growing up in the Kirtland/Fruitland area of San Juan County, New Mexico, Brandon and I — and everyone else, really — were always, by default, a bit behind the aesthetic curve from the “rest of the world.” Occasionally, one could discover something “new” and intriguing by accident, or one of us would bring something intriguing back from The City and share it with anyone with a curious disposition. (Did I forget to mention I was raised in a 1940s dust bowl? Just kidding.) But beyond fortune and chance, you really just had to know what to look for and laboriously seek it out. Fortunately, times have changed for the Four Corners and culture. I mean, they got a show from Lamb of God last year, for Christsakes…

(Not to mention MervDezert Banditz, Ill Methods, and any other local musical acts.  Leave a link for your group or project in the comments!)


I vaguely recall the circumstances by which we came to discover Kurt and the Boys. It had to have been sometime in 1992, and I would imagine this was a brisk fall morning before the daily drudgery of our first year in middle school. The cool, dry high desert breeze…the changing of the leaves…the wafting, charcoal scent of smoke as local drunken rednecks set their property on fire doing “landscaping”…Brandon, skinny bean pole of a boy, bristling with frenetic energy, shoving a CD into my stiff, icy fingers. “Hey dude, my sister listens to this. Check it out!”

Subtlety.

Subtlety.

On the cover, bathed in aquatic blue highlights, a naked baby, arms and legs splayed in an awkward floating pose, coaxed by a dollar bill on fishing line. Nobody but no one should have any trouble immediately conjuring their own specific memory of this album at that conspicuously pervasive, instantly recognizable photograph. But, I’ve been surprised by ignorance before, so just to be certain, I speak of course of the watershed landmark album Nevermind. If you don’t know or understand the cultural, artistic, sociological, and historical significance of this album, I would like to introduce you to the internet. Pretty sure you’re using it RIGHT NOW.

This only captures about 30% of the Internet's Awesome!

This only captures about 30% of the Internet’s Awesome!

In any case, I will never forget the ingenuous awe and precipitous exhilaration that overcame me during that first listen. I can barely stand to hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit” these days, a bitter casualty of hackneyed pop culture oversaturation. But, the first time that pervasive and cataclysmic riff hit my ears was fucking LIFE-ALTERING! Who ARE these feral, deranged beasts? Where do creatures like this come from? What is this frenetic sensation arising from my soul? Why are they so…so fervent, so excitedly zealous? And HOW can I get MORE?!


To be continued… In the meantime, sound off in the comments! What was your first significant musical experience, or other formative moment? Did Nirvana and Nevermind carry a significant weight for you? How far back can you remember, or what is your earliest recollection? Let Us hear from you!


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

CLICK.

[What follows is an original piece of fiction I wrote some years ago, previously published in Conceptions Southwest, per the citation below.]


CLICK.

Old Wood FloorIn my mind I know what’s waiting at the top of the steps. I always know. Still, I take them, slow, careful, aware of the sickened creak that the weathered boards make under my weight. Once I reach the top, every time, I try to stop myself. Turn back, I say. Don’t walk down that hall. Don’t look through that doorway.

Every time, my feet disobey, carrying me to the room at the end of the hall. A sliver of pale dusk sunlight gasps its way through the crack made by the slightly open door, spilling onto the dull wooden floor. I step cautiously to the door, the light warming a slice of my face, blinding my right eye. A breath, a moment of nauseous realization, a splinter in my finger as I nudge open the door. Then there’s the blood. The sick warmth of the room, the way it crawls, stinging, into my nostrils. My father, barefoot, slumped over his shotgun. I imagine the vacant, listless look in his eyes, just before he hears it. Click–

I found him a week before my tenth birthday, but in the dream I am as I am now–26, sagging shoulders, a belly that crumples on top of itself when I sit. I am rarely shaven, my hair sticks at odd angles that I don’t care to smooth down. I wonder at my own fate, how it might resemble his, vacant promises to myself when I think of my son. He came when I was twenty, living with his mother more out of comfort than genuine affection. I used to write to him often, sending candy or a toy car when I could, but the letters started coming back a few months ago, the mark from the post office in dull red.

I always wake with the click.

* * *

I count the change in my pocket, adding it to the crumpled bills, and the lady hands me a burrito wrapped in white paper, damp with its warmth. Outside I expose an end and bite deep into it, tasting almost instantly the heat of the green chile and the smoky flavor of the carne adovada. It makes my mouth water, and for a moment, it will calm the churning in my stomach.

As I finish my meager lunch, I spot Hefty down the street, waddling his way toward me. He’s dragging something, I can’t see what. His name is Jeff, but on the street we call him Hefty, mostly because of his weight and partly because he thinks himself the boss, always trying to order everyone around, as if he had a reign on the desperate freedom these streets bring. Shit, he hasn’t even been out here that long. I wipe my mouth with the crumpled wrapping paper and push myself with a foot off the wall, giving Hefty half a wave.

Hey Fano, he calls to me, his breath heavy. Why don’t you help me with these?

I see now he’s got two fat, worn tires in tow on a wiry rope, scraping along the sidewalk. Get them yourself, pinche gordo, I say with a smile before moving to help him. What the hell do you need with two tires, anyway?

You never know, he says. We bring the tires to Hefty’s spot down the alley, rolling them behind a grimy dumpster near his folds of bedding.

You get any big tips?

I chuckle, shaking my head. Business slow today, jefe, I say.

* * *

The first time I saw Lucia was at my cousin’s graduation party. It might have been my party, too, but I gave up on school a long time ago. I remember–she catches my eye as soon as I step into the soft yellow light of the den, a haze of cigarettes and mota hanging in a dome over the circle of tattered furniture. She sits on a couch in the corner of the room, between Alejan’s girl and some kid I don’t know. Her smile warms the room as her brown eyes meet mine.

I look quickly away, searching the room for Alejan, asking him where I can get a drink.

A week later I see her again as I leave the construction yard where I work. In the lazy afternoon light I get a better look at her, able to notice the soft earth tones of her skin, her long eyelashes that don’t need makeup, her full pouty lips. She walks up to me as I beat the dust from my faded jeans.

Hey, she says, and I turn to face her, squinting at the sun as it halos her form. Alejan gave me directions, she tells me. He said I should meet you.

I smile to mask the discomfort I feel. He should have let you catch me at a better time, I say, gesturing at my filthy clothes. But what I really mean is, I’m not prepared for this.

She follows me home, and after I shower and change I drive her to Beto’s on the other side of town. A real hole in the wall, but they have good carne asada and cheap beer. Her warm eyes and her subtle, earthy scent make me forget myself for a moment. A month later we live together. It’s a year, though, before I tell her about the dreams.

* * *

I knew something was wrong, she says. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? She lies on the bed next to me, propped up on one arm. I see worry in her soft eyes. Her tiny hand strokes the dampness off my cheek.

I didn’t think it mattered, I say, turning on my side so I don’t have to face her.

It matters to me, she says, wrapping herself around me and pulling me close. It matters if it affects your sleep, if it affects us.

It won’t, I say. It hardly ever happens. I turn and nestle myself into her neck. I try to breathe her in deep, let myself relax in her arms. She holds me close, runs fingers through my hair and along the base of my spine. I feel like, maybe, it’s all that I need. Until she tells me about the baby, a few months later, it seems that it is.

* * *

Hefty goes off to catch the bus to Old Town. They don’t know me there, yet, he says. Better for business if they haven’t seen you hanging around too much.

I wander listlessly after he’s gone, the harsh noon sun beating down upon me at an angle that makes no room for cool shadows. Eventually I return to the alley, sit atop the dumpster, and stare into the dusty crevices between the bricks of the wall, the scent of decaying trash and stagnant water stinging my nostrils. After some time Nico saunters up, a toothy smile painted across his leathery face.

Who put the feather in your ass, I say as he nears me, bobbing his head to a silent tune. He doesn’t answer, and he doesn’t need to. His pupils and the blood-strained space around them tell enough.

Idiot, I say, shaking my head. That shit’s gonna end you.

* * *

Later I check my box at the post office, knowing I’ll find nothing, but hopeful just the same. I keep the box because it’s the only thing I haven’t lost in my life, and because I know if Lucia ever wants to find me, this is the only way she’ll know how.

I remember when she left, taking Benicio. I am gone, on my monthly trip to the unemployment office. I come home to find the empty bones of the apartment, cleared of our few possessions, only the piss-stained mattress lying defeated in the corner of the muggy room. I stay in the apartment for another month and a half before the landlord changes the locks.

It takes me a couple of weeks, but I finally badger Lucia’s new address out of her mother.

This is for the boy, not you, she tells me over the phone. Not much of a father is better than no father, she says and hangs up.

I send Lucia a letter, just to see how things are going. I only half expect her to write back, so I’m surprised to find a postcard from her almost two weeks later. On the front is a photograph of a deep green mountainside pierced by a waterfall, its billowing jets of white water frozen in free fall as they plummet into the misty haze below.

In the short paragraph on the other side, just below the Denver postmark, she tells me about Beni. He’s never been happier, she writes. Don’t worry about visiting, it says, just above her curvy signature. It’s the only letter I receive.

* * *

I hear it–click–and then she’s there, her hand upon my face, her eyes sharp, concerned. She wipes her fingers through the beads of sweat on my brow.

You went there again, didn’t you, she says. You found him again.

I can’t help it, I tell her. My sleep takes me there.

It’s happening too often, she says, sitting up. It’s affecting us, now. Pale blue moonlight peeks through the blinds and fragments her face.

A cry starts up from across the room, and she leaves the bed to check on him. She’s right. The dreams aren’t just inside me anymore. They make this place dark.

Soon the crying stops, and she crawls back next to me. I want to look at her, to see into her through her eyes, but I can’t make myself move. I want to say I’m sorry, to tell her it will stop, I’ll make it stop, to tell her I’ll be better for her, for Beni. I lie next to her, silent, until her breathing takes on rhythm.

* * *

The afternoon crawls, a long, vast nothing. I collect change for a while off the Interstate exit, offering the legal notices section of the paper for a quarter, a dime, whatever beat college kids in their rusty pickups and old ladies peering over the steering columns of their long, sleek town cars decide to spare. This is all I have today, I say with a shrug, and they trade change for the folded paper, tossing it behind seatbacks and rolling on with pitying half-smiles.

Eventually the sun falls to the horizon, sinking into distant mountains with rays of gold-piercing, shadowy building facades. This time of day always brings waves of yellow sickness to my stomach, like eating a bad egg. I turn my corner over with a nod to Jacob, carrying as always his bucket of wilted roses, and trudge toward Central. I count out change for a pint of Dark Eyes at the corner store on 3rd, and the clerk hands me the bag, the condescending darkness on his face unmistakable. I’m the first one to the alley–for most the night is young, but the day has been enough for me, and I’m ready for the warm blanket of drink, ready to walk the short night hallway once again.


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This work of fiction was previously published as follows:

Sanders, Ryan S. “Click.” Conceptions Southwest Vol. XXVII (2004): 107-110. Print.