Beethoven in a Nutshell

 

(1940 in a lofty apartment. There seems to be a minor dispute between the couple, but distractions bewilder each other’s understanding.)

 

Jane

What is today my darling?

 

William

 (Reading the newspaper attentively)

hmm umm. . . what was that dear?

Jane

(Playing excerpts from Beethoven’s symphony 5)

 

The date, I want to do something tonight.

 

William

……….It’s…… September 15, 1940. Why, what…..do…… you have……. in mind?

 

Jane

(Continues to play Beethoven the piano)

 

A live performance of an orchestra! I want to experience that euphoric sensation…..do you know what I mean? That sense of enlightenment that bridges the gap between perplexity and serenity. I’m missing that strikingly veracious chill that shakes the very foundation of your vertebrae when the initial ensemble of instruments seizes the silence. I’m in the mood for something composed by a German.

 

William

Hmmmm……. I can’t believe this finally made the paper! “The Germans are shaking London’s Foundation”. You didn’t tell me you read this already? They have orchestrated a constant cascade of falling explosives toward Great Britain’s Capital. My Beethoven, What is he expecting to accomplish in London? I mean, there is no stopping that mad man.

 

Jane

You know what I am playing! Well, I think he is a mad genius! All of his work evokes a subtle misinterpreted perception, one that contorts an array of feelings. It’s hard to explain exactly what he intends to accomplish…here, listen.

 

(Continues to play Beethoven’s melodies)

 

Can you feel the intensity of each note, how one dissolves into another propelling emotions from every dissonant chord?! You are right; it is like a constant cascade of explosive feelings! But I don’t think he ever played in London?

William

That sounds great dear but you are missing the point, he isn’t interested in only London. I think he is trying to scare the whole world with the brute force he implies to his tactics of “blitzkrieg” warfare. Hm, it sounds too complicated and aggressive.

 

 

Jane

(Chuckles) I don’t think I ever heard of a piece called blitzkrieg by him, but all of his work can be a bit complicated to understand at first. Are you in the mood for some Mozart? He’s less scary.

 

William

No thanks. I don’t think ANYONE has heard of it before; this is the first time something like this happened to more than two countries at one time. The call for innovation has worlds crumbling at the cost of absolute power.

 

Jane

Innovations?

 

William

You know, inventions such as the plane, the tank, hell even the Slinky. It is broadening the spectrum of all out chaos creating a world that is flustered in its own interests. I fear for the future of the human condition for it presents a disastrous road littered with selfish needs. That or I think I am going crazy!

 

Jane

(Stops playing piano, turns page of sheet music)

 

You’re not going crazy honey; the human condition is all about progress. The ability to create and expand our understanding of the world and the willingness to apply it is intellectual growth. What he does with his instrument is beyond the plain of fascination, it broadens its borders.

 

                                                                                                (Continues to play the piano)

 

William

(Sighs with anguished breath)

 

What I am trying to say is the man’s ambition is driving the country into a conflicted relationship with other countries. As hopeless as it may seem and as much as I don’t want to say it, I think we should go over there and assist to put an end to it.

Jane

                                                                                                (Stops playing piano)

 

Are you Okay?

 

William

Yes dear, fine.

 

Jane

                                                                                                (Continues to play the piano)

 

Hm umm. . . alright. To end what, the brilliance of German composition? I see his ambition as a virtue to the progression of his craft. His in-depth study of counterpoint alone furthered the development of his work, writing progressions that conflict with one another but still retaining a sense of harmony.

 

 

William

                                                                                                (Continues to read the paper)

 

There is no sense in anything that he is doing. It’s just a big mess of loud noises frequented with death showers and innocence lost. You don’t think that should end?

 

Jane

Maybe that’s what he is trying to convey through his work, the message of discord and interference of the human condition, the seizure of independence and the will to retain it.

 

William

I still see him as a mad man who craves absolute power, a dictator that drives for an unimaginable feat. There has to be some kind of resistance against this? I am tired of all this war.

 

Jane

(Stops playing Beethoven)

 

Hey, I don’t see us arguing, just expressing our opinions.

                                                                                                (Continues to play the piano)

 

Well if you want to talk about dictators, He did commemorate his Symphony No. 3 in E flat Major to Napoleon Bonaparte of France. It was to express the ideals of the French Revolution and how Napoleon captured these ideals through his methods of leadership, but when Napoleon declared himself Emperor in 1804, our “mad man” tore up his score with appalling disgrace. How’s that for tyrant resistance!

 

William

(Looks up from newspaper)

 

Napoleon Bonaparte was no better, an overzealous tyrant of the people who used their wishes for a reformed government to his advantage. Dictators should be stopped period.

                                                                                                (Continues to read)

 

In addition to that, I think our “mad man” in regards to this conversation has a lot of similarities with Napoleon. He used the public’s interest to gain support in the Reichstag then manipulated the country’s military into serving his demands regardless of the destruction he caused to the infrastructure of Germany. It’s called Totalitarianism and it is creating a chaotic world in Europe! God Damn it, we should be preventing death and encouraging further development of diplomacy!

 

Jane

                                                                                                (Stops playing Piano)

 

(Pause) Are you Okay Will?

 

 

 

 

 

 

William

                                                                                                (Looks up from paper toward Jane)

 

(Pause)No.  I fear for this country and its potential involvement of foreign affairs. What’s happening in London may carry over to here, bringing other countries problems to our door step. I don’t want that to happen Jane.

 

Jane

                                                                                                (Walks over to William, wraps arms around shoulders)

 

And all this time I thought you were listening to me. Reading about today’s war won’t help you forget about the other.

 

William

                                                                                                (Taking Jane’s hands to his chest)

 

There were days Jane, days that would not end with a measure or cadence of hope. I felt. . . .I felt like. . . I should have done something! Instead it was just sitting around in our own vile waiting for the sirens to blare to warn us of incoming gas.

Jane

Awe Will, you made it back home in one piece and that’s what matters to me.

 

William

It has been twenty two years since then and I still have problems with breathing, a crushing sensation along with every breath to say the least. This war could lead to bigger problems than just what I’m dealing with. Cities are falling Jane. Great Britain’s capital is at its knees with despair!

 

Jane

                                                                                                (Steps back from William)

 

You’re angry.

 

William

Yes, I am.

 

Jane

Well, I can see that soldier in you.

 

William

We don’t need soldiers. We need peace.

 

Jane

Then let’s go find sanctuary at an orchestra. I Promise it will ease your thoughts on this second Great War in Europe.

William

(Removes glasses and pinches bridge of nose)

I’m tired of reading any way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series I: Stand Off – Chapter 8: Waking Up Silent

Thomas heard footsteps coming from the second floor and he opened his eyes without getting up. He remained on the couch in a lateral position with his head facing the couch’s back cushion and studied its design. His mouth and throat were dry and his tongue retained the stale taste of the No. 27 from the night before. He tried to combatant the dryness by lapping the sides of his mouth with his tongue in order to dispel the taste. He did this while staring at the couch’s tapestry design and congruently attempting to follow the footsteps above him. He tried to gauge Kristen’s progress of coming downstairs based on their sound, and when they grew louder and more frequent, he anticipated her coming down the steps to the landing where it flooded right into the living room; right to where he was on the couch. Her footsteps eventually carried to the stairs where the creaks in the wood of the second floor transferred to the foundation of the entire staircase. Even though her Victorian wasn’t that small apartment they had shared back east, the creaks somehow sounded the same. He relished in this brief fantasy and as fast as his mind coaxed with this fain memory, it as quickly dissipated when he heard her pass him as she walked into the kitchen.

“Do you want some coffee?” Kristen said while she grabbed the glass pot out from under the Mr. Coffee drip. Thomas followed the noise of the rounded glass hitting the nozzle of the faucet. She turned it on and the water ran with a steady stream.

“Yeah,” he said turning from facing the couch to facing the blank screen of the television. He stared into his reflection and watched himself contort with his waking movements against the dull blackness and the silver outline on the screen from the reflecting sun streaming into the window.  That silver streak sparked the same bleak feeling he retained from the night before.

”Cream . . . sugar,” Kristen said from the kitchen. Thomas heard her taking cups from the cabinet and just shook his head without her seeing him. “I should have guessed,” she followed up with saying in between the silence, “Some things just don’t change huh?”

“Yeah, black is fine,” he said.

Kristen entered the living room with the coffees and set his down on the table in front of him. She held hers close to herself as she sat down on the couch next to him. They both were now looking at the black television screen. Thomas watched her move her arm in the reflection toward the table on the end of the couch, then the screen blinked on with a stun noise. Thomas’s alertness engaged for a brief second, but soon relapsed as quickly as his discerning of the show that was on the tube; Law & Order.

“Do we have to do this,” Thomas said while getting up.

“Do what?” Kristen still had the remote in her hand as she raised that hand as a gesture to accommodate her question.

“I’m here for you – now – in response to your call last night,” Thomas passively threw his hand through his hair, “so here I am – now – asking you what I can do about it.” He stepped in front of the television and she moved accordingly to gain back her viewing the show that he was obstructing.

“I am over it,” she said with her eyes still on the screen. Thomas started to pace back a forth in the living room staring at the floor with the side of his index finger vigorously moving along the ridge line of his jaw. He then stopped pacing.

“Then why am I here?” He said. His eyes fell on the photo above the couch and it beguiled him like the photo from the car. “When does George get in?” He brought his eyes down upon Kristen.

“Sometime tonight,” she said only glancing at him then having her eyes settle back onto the television.

“Tonight,” Thomas said in an affirming voice and he dropped his chin down, then sighed. The morning sun pierced through the window and licked his cheek, which also made him squint one eye.

“Yeah, I told you that he’s at his parents for the weekend,” Kristen glanced at him another time.

“Yeah, I know,” he said.

“Would you please just sit down,” she padded the couch cushion, “your coffee is getting cold,” she said and sipped from her cup. He watched her raise the cup and as it met her lips, he focused on the image that was labeled on it; the mountains of New York.

He pushed the memory away, which was restricting him of sitting on the couch, but soon enough walked over to it. He plopped down and sat with that same type of restriction in his demeanor. He looked at her.

“Would you relax Thomas, I just want someone here,” she said and in anticipating him to pursue his questions, she raised a hand, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything,” he said lifting both hands up as if he forfeited from the conversation.

Kristen averted her eyes to Thomas’s jeans lying on the floor. She forcefully sighed and got up from the couch, placing her coffee on the table.

“I’ll run your jeans through the washer,” she said while grabbing them, then she walked into the kitchen and banked a right, descending a flight of stairs. Thomas just let his eyes rest on the television screen without actually paying attention to the Law & Order story developing before him. The characters were just actors regurgitating a script to him, and in the same way, he was regurgitating the motions of being there for Kristen.

His attention soon went away from the screen to following the sounds coming from the basement. Kristen was going through the cycle of the wash and when that washer door hit down hard as she closed it, that hollow smack echoed in his head. Her footsteps coming up the stairs were secondary to the echo jarring in his head and when she appeared back into the living room the echo intensified. He looked over to her as she sat back down next to him and only for a moment he was tempted to cross an arm over her shoulder, wrongfully anticipating her to cuddle up next to him, but as soon as she did sit down and shifted away from him toward the armrest, that anticipation dissipated. It was right then and there that the echo stopped and he blinked. She didn’t look at him, just at the screen and he did too.

They both watched Law & Order without glancing at each other again and when the show went to commercials streaming pointless advertisement, they did nothing but watch them and only Kristen reached for her phone periodically while Thomas got lost in the white noise that was his memory of New York.

6 of the Many Articles that I Wrote for The Town News Today Newspaper of Piscataway, NJ (Published in 2015-2016).

  • Bowling for Funds The Piscataway Education Foundation is having a fundraising Bowl-A-Thon this Saturday at Stelton Lanes.

    The price to bowl is 25 dollars per person and will cover 3 games. This price will also include tricky tray tickets, door prizes, music and more. If bowling isn’t of an interest, but having a great time for a good cause is, then the cost to participate is 15 dollars. Participants are not limited to the number of tickets they wish to buy for the door and tricky tray prizes.

    A tricky tray raffle is meant to appeal to the individual’s interest. For those who are unaware of how this raffle is conducted, there are baskets in front of each prize that allow the prospective winner to choose his or her particular prize. Although this system doesn’t guarantee a win for all who toss a ticket (or tickets) in the basket, it makes the winning prize selective and personal.

    The occasion is for raising enough funds that go directly toward next year’s teacher grants. Supporting this cause will help further the innovative ideas that teachers have for their schools, such as pilot programs and technological upgrades. The purpose is to make these ideas a reality and to advance the approach toward learning. The proceeds will cover all 12 schools of Piscataway that range from kindergarten to high school.

    There will be a total of 70 sticky tray prizes that include Giants tickets, a fit-bit, a candle basket, an apron with 300 dollars worth of gift cards attached, and a Samsung galaxy tablet. Each person is given an entry to the door prizes that have smaller gifts that include house wares and other tiny essentials.

    All participants should bring a valid form of identification for this event is only for 21 years and older. Bowl reasonably since a cash bar will be available during the hours of the fundraiser, 6pm-9pm. Stelton Lanes is located at 1665 Stelton Road, Piscataway NJ.

    Tickets are limited. To reserve yours, call the Community Education at (732)-572-4688.

     

     

     

     

     

  • A New Head of Defense for Rutgers FootballThe Rutgers football program’s head coach, Chris Ash has hired Jay Niemann as the new defensive coordinator for this upcoming season. His 25 years of coaching experience will grant the Scarlet Knights a fresh approach to their tactics on the field.

    Niemann’s repertoire includes six seasons as the head coach at Simpson College and most recently, the defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois for the last five years. Coach Ash’s relationship with Niemann goes back to the days when Ash played football for the Drake Bulldogs under his tutelage as the defensive coordinator. This bond between the two coaches will prosper onto the team, as per their philosophy to defensive tactics mesh well together.

    While coaching the defense for the Northern Illinois football program, Niemann has lead them to winning the Mid-American Conference West each year with three league titles. In this past year alone, NIU has won six conference games and is currently ranked eighth in the nation in turnovers gained and fourth in interceptions.

    Niemann is a graduate from Iowa State and played football for the Cyclones from 1979-82. He began his coaching career in 1985 at Western Washington, coaching linebackers and special teams units while pursuing his master’s degree of which he completed in 1988. During his master’s education, he accepted a graduate assistant position at the University of Washington, working with the Husky linebackers and defensive backs from 1986 to his graduation year. He continued to pursue coaching after this first exposure that led him to the coaching position at Drake in 1989. During his six-year career at Drake, he managed to have the Bulldog’s defense achieve the top 10 national ranking in scoring defense, passing efficiency defense and total defense.

    His expertise will show promise for the Scarlet Knights for his efforts have sent a few of his focused players to NFL Drafts, such as senior safety for NIU, Jimmie Ward. He was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in 2014 for the first round of the NFL Draft. In the last four years, Niemann’s defensive coordinating has sent seven players forward in their football career to the NFL.

    Let’s welcome Jay Niemann to the Rutgers family with the best prospects for the 2016 season.

     

     

     

  • The Scarlet Knights versus the Wolverines Rutgers travels to Ann Arbor, Michigan this Saturday to face the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium.

    This will be the second meeting of the two teams in their history. Last year, the Scarlet Knights claimed a victory at High Point Solutions Stadium with a score of 26-24.

    At No. 16, the Michigan Wolverines have a record of 6-2 with 3-1 in the Big Ten Conference this season. Their loss against Michigan State on Oct. 17th had them striving to win against Minnesota last weekend, in which they did. However, it was a game that cost them their quarterback, Jake Rudock.

    Early in the game against Minnesota, Rudock received a torso injury that had him leave the field. His progress toward a full recovery is yet to be complete. Coach Jim Harbaugh has said that this week’s practice will determine if he is able to perform this weekend. It is well understood that his recovery is the main priority.

    Rutgers wide receiver, Janarion Grant has been receiving lesser amounts of attention on the field despite his record so far this season of 21 passes for 181 yards with 4 carries for 31 yards. In the past two games, he has only received 3 of those passes that amounted to a low of 11 yards. The lack of attention is warranted to the fact that Coach Kyle Flood does not want the ball directed to Grant as a target for unwanted interceptions. Forcing the ball into scenarios such as that puts the play in danger of a turn-over. With Leonte Carroo out of commission due to his right ankle injury, the Scarlet Knights look to other receivers (Carlton Agudosi and Andre Patton) including Grant to make the plays less obvious to the Wolverines defense.

    With that being said, the Wolverines defense will be vital in the effort to combatant the Scarlet Knights offense. They have been top-ranked in the country as being No. 2 in total defense and No. 3 in rushing yards allowed, which is 65.8 yards.

    The game will air on the Big Ten Network when kickoff is at 3:30 pm.

     

     

  • Local Artist Supports Uncle Sam’s A talented independent artist of embroidery and a specialist in portraits was at the Halloween birthday fundraiser for the Goldman House this past weekend.

    During the 100th birthday celebration, Jennifer Sorensen had her hand-drawn prints on display. She primarily works with black and white prints, but has been recently experimenting with color. Characters and celebrities such as Amy Poehler, Walter White, and Lucille Ball were for sale as well as specifically crafted cross-stitch designs.

    Sorensen grew up above her grandmother’s fabric store, an excellent background for the type of art that she creates.

    “Sewing is in my blood,” Sorensen said, describing her artistry roots. “I enjoy the contrast in using folk medium express modern themes.”

    The cross-stitching projects entail embroidering a quote alongside traditional imagery. Sorensen takes these types of custom orders along with inquiry orders through her online shop as of late. You may peruse or purchase her art at Etsy.com. Just search for JenniferLightAndDark.

    Sorensen’s affiliation with the Goldman House is deeply attuned with her graduate studies at Rutgers University. As a focused history student of modern Russia, Sorensen hones her expertise with her art at the local historic Goldman House. Since the house emulates aesthetic value that pertains to the Russian Bolshevik Movement during the early 1900’s, Sorensen shares more of a connection with the house. Her fondness of the house also holds true relating to the fact that the Goldman House, known locally as Uncle Sam’s Cabin, is an artistic masterpiece.

    Upon finding the historical house through the motive of seeing a local friend perform there this past March, she was flabbergasted. “I was enchanted immediately.” Sorensen said.

    Sorensen has since been selling her artwork at each festival, supporting the local history along with expressing her love for it.

    .

     

     

     

  • The Afraid Brigade at the Goldman HouseThe Afraid Brigade will be playing at the Goldman House Fundraiser this Halloween for its 100th Birthday.

    The Afraid Brigade is a four piece band from Edison, NJ that implements Indie fantasy rock-and-roll into their musical style. Founded by singer and guitarist, Joe Ruff in 2011, they have since been writing music that primarily relate to haunted stories and ghastly influences.

    Their single titled, “In the Dark” released in January of 2014. It is about the relationship of the supernatural with the ambiance of autumn, referring to the moon’s florescent glow and the tree’s decaying foliage. The fearful aspect of the unknown in this hit is expressed thoroughly well with the background chorus that emulates Ruff’s vocals. It isn’t just in the lyrics that convey the theme of their music, but with their instrumentation as well. With Ben Lander on bass, laying the foundation of the tunes, Tyler Boland on guitar and keys expanding the spooky tones with synthesizing effects, and Nick Kile producing a poppy yet indie beat on the drums, their sound in its entirety holds true to the vibes that Halloween is sure to deliver.

    They released their first EP called The Helpless and the Hopeless on January 2013 and can be accessed on Band Camp. Their newest self-titled LP called In the Dark was released early last year, in January 2014. Their single, “In the Dark” is track number 2 off of the extensive 9 track LP. In the Dark was recorded in Ruff’s Basement, taking on the DIY ethic of today’s music industry. The final production of the album was completed at Timber Studios located in Bayonne NJ.

    The Fundraiser at the Goldman House is on October 31st at 143 School St. It begins at 5 pm and will have other bands performing, including Lowlight, Cyphered Threads, and H.O.I.S.T.

     

  • Happy Hanukkah December 6th commenced the first night of The Festival of Lights that is Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the Maccabees revolting against the tyranny of Antiochus during the Seleucid Empire.

    The religious intolerance of the Jewish faith brought the Seleucid Empire to convert or destroy all Jewish temples. Hanukkah is the recognition of the success against this intolerance that brought the resurrection and rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The menorah (Hebrew for “lamp”) found in the temple was extinguished upon the rededication of the temple. The significance of the holiday celebrates the miracle that with the remaining oil found, lit the candles for eight days and nights when the oil was only meant to last one night. This allotted enough time for the making of more oil to sustain the flames.

    A favorite celebratory act involves the culinary creation of delicious latkas. Latkas are prepared from the shavings of potatoes and onions along with baking powder, one egg and of course, oil. Grilling the prepared shavings saturated in this delectable concoction of kitchen necessities, especially the oil commemorates the miracle of the lasting oil as well as bringing the entire family together. Another festive food is a variation of a jelly donut called a sufganiyot.

    The special Hanukkah Menorah has nine candles, with the extra in the middle known as the shamash (Hebrew for “attendant”). This middle candle is used to light each candle as the eight days progress. Three prayers are recited during the lighting of the candle which occurs right before the setting of the sun on the first night. Each consecutive night, only two prayers are recited. Gifts are exchanged each night as well as games such as the twirling of the dreidel. The dreidel has four Hebrew letters scribed on each side of the toy that together form the acronym “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham”, translated to “a great miracle happened there.” The spinning of the dreidel also incorporates a game that involves players to play for Hanukkah Gelt. Hanukkah Gelt is chocolate coins that are played for in respect to teach child the act of charity. Playing for real Gelt (Hebrew for “money”) is a reminder of the freedom won against the Seleucid Empire. Players either place everything they are playing with in the pot, place half of their pieces in the pot, put in another game piece in the pot, or void any action during their turn. Each side of the dreidel instructs the player to take any of these actions as it lands.

    To everyone who celebrates this blessed holiday, enjoy the festivities; especially with the ones that you love. It is a time to recognize a miracle that saved a religion, as well as a time to recognize the people you spend it with.

     

The Exposition of Campus Talent

A link to a published article of mine when I wrote for the Rutgers-Camden Newspaper, The Gleaner.

http://gleaner.rutgers.edu/index.html%3Fp=7853.html

Dabbling at the Dobbs

A link to a published article of mine when I wrote for the Rutgers-Camden Newspaper, The Gleaner.

http://gleaner.rutgers.edu/index.html%3Fp=7927.html

Series I: Stand Off – Chapter 7: The Letter that Begins with Red.

Thomas arrived to Kristen’s apartment close to 1 am. He approached the door with an elegant poise close to the resemblance of an alley cat on its way home. Before he grabbed the front door knob, he stopped to think if the door had locked behind him as he left earlier. With a fierce grab of the knob, and a twist to go with it, he was soon relieved to find that the door was unlocked. Upon entering the Victorian, he noticed that the lights were off and darkness consumed the entirety of the home; except for the lamp on the inn table next to the couch, it was on. On that couch’s cushion was a pair of sweatpants folded articulately in the fashion of a square, and right next to it was a blanket folded in the same manner, and a pillow rested against the arm rest. He approached the couch and sat next to the folded sweatpants, smelling like cigarettes as he swiped his left hand through his hair. The stench reminded him too well of the reasons why he and Kristen decided to move to San Francisco, before they separated. It was because of George. A man that smoked a lot, about the only thing he considered as a stupid habit among greater decisions. He was smart and as a typical aspiring-lawyer, he always had his nose deep into books about law. Thomas met George before he met Kristen and for that Thomas was glad to have met George; however, if only Thomas knew at the time.

“I got the job!” Kristen ran into the small apartment with her bags and pocketbook still hoisted over her shoulder. The door didn’t even close by the time she was up the steps talking to Thomas who was lying in bed, half asleep.

“Hhmm . . . what, no way!” Thomas said as he was coming to. He rubbed his eyes, “that’s great babe; see, I told you that you would!” He slid off the bed and grabbed his sweatpants that were on the floor. As he slid them on and up to his waist, Kristen dropped her bags and hugged him.

“Bae,” Kristen said, “this means we can move to Fresco.” She retracted from him with her hands coming up and onto his cheeks. He stood there gently touching them.

“Fresco?” Thomas asked, “where’s that?” he brought her hands down where she grabbed him at the waist, just above the red “R” imprinted near the pocket of his sweatpants.

“What do you mean where is that,” Kristen smiled, “San Francisco.” She moved toward him with a kiss.

“Ahhh,” Thomas’s eyes widened, “Yeshh,” he said as she pecked him on the lips, “I remember now – So you’ll be working with George?” he asked her as she took her high heels and then her blazer off.

“I don’t know yet – could you go in there and pass me a hanger – he called me right after the interview and congratulated me.” She was holding her hand out to Thomas as he moved around the bed to open the closet for a hanger and when he grabbed it, he leaned over the bed to give it to her.  “I just know – thanks bae – that I am going to be working for GCConsulting and that my training and first day starts in two months, which gives us time to start looking for places and to get settled in,” the blazer was on the hanger and she handed it back to him.

“Ahhh, ok well, I think that’s great!” Thomas said as he hung the blazer back up in the closet, “But-a, What about uh, what about me . . . I mean I can find a job, I just don’t know if I’m ready to leave here.” He stared at the purple comforter on the bed, then looked up at Kristen.

“Don’t worry about that, you will find something; besides, there are better opportunities in a city like Fresco than here.” Kristen pushed her hair off the back of her neck and jutted her chin forward, coursing her fingers through the strands to straighten them out. “I can’t wait to show you were I grew up, by the SFU; ugh, so beautiful. We can look at Victorian Houses near the University District . . .” Her voice trailed off as Thomas stopped listening. His mind was on another matter; a matter he tried to deal with before she arrived home for her interview. He grabbed his arm where the bicep meets the forearm and pressed down.

“you’re right,” he said, “I’ll find something.”

Kristen was standing with her shirt off, but bra on, nodding, “I know you want to write bae, but you need to worry about how you’re going to take care of yourself.” She reached behind her to remove the bra.

“Yeah,” he said looking down.

“I’m serious; you’ll be 26 before you know it and then what?” Kristen shrugged her shoulders with her bra in her hand. “You need health insurance Tommie,” she said.

 

Thomas looked out through the window of the Victorian that was next to the front door. He stared at the moon and a daunting regret settled in; why he ever spoke into the receiver of his phone yesterday morning. He should have just hung up as soon as he heard Kristen’s voice and blocked that number too.

He then looked down at his pants leg and decided in that moment to change out of his jeans. After removing them from against his legs, he felt the relief of the dried vomit pull away from his shin and he sighed. He held the sweatpants out in front of him for them to unfold and as they did, he noticed in the right corner above the pocket was a red “R.”

He just wanted to change out of his jeans and lie down on the couch, forget everything that transpired between him and Kristen and make sure that she was OK in the morning. If it was anything else that she told him in the car earlier this night, he would have left after his cigarette, catching the next bus back to San Jose. He slipped into those old sweatpants and rolled into the couch, crashing his head upon the pillow almost instantaneously falling sleep.

Daemon Sale

There were too many souls in all of hell’s circles, especially in the heart of the place where Malebolgia reigned. These souls that he condemned had proliferated to the point of maximum capacity and as to their rate of arrival; each circle became equally congested, particularly circle 28 of his inferno.

The damned souls from this circle endured a constant disembowelment by the proctoring daemon. As these souls continuously trotted one-by-one around a large splintered pylon, they awaited for the sword wielded by the proctor to disembowel them by vertically splitting their abdomen. First, it penetrated their skin where the neck met the bottom cleft, and then with one violent motion toward the ground by the proctor, the sword ended its incision at the base of their gut. As each passed, the sword was drawn away, which caused their entrails to flop out and land onto the scorched dirt-grimed ground. The succession was ceaseless, so as each stomach and intestines dragged from the lips of the freshly cut guts, the ones behind would inevitably trample over them, thus furthering the disembowelment until it was completed. There was slippage in each step upon the guts before them, but enough of these steps progressing forward caused the entrails to tear out entirely. By the time they passed the charred-skin daemon, totally disemboweled, they had endured the worst of it, only to have the process repeat with their stomachs healed and all their entrails intact. The horror would not stop along with their unrelenting fear of enduring the pain again and again.

Due to the overflow of these souls, Malebolgia issued all future sentences to be carried out in the world of the living, prior to the soul’s entry into hell. Taking this measure ensured reprieve from the influx and guaranteed a steadier acceptance rate. Portals were produced that were suitable and stable enough for the sentences commencement, and these portals were conjured through any and all reflective surfaces that induced vainglory in the offender; a type of vainglory that would drive the offender to deliberately cause schisms in the lives of those that they have influenced; a type of vainglory that had Christie trapped.

She barricaded herself in the maintenance room of the mall she frequented on the weekends, and it wasn’t until a few minutes ago that she regretted going to the mall this weekend. The sales hit big then, and she just had to take advantage of those sales because the weather began to call for looser clothing and shorter hair styles; the kind with less around the neck and shoulders. And that was the kind Marceline was about to give her, right before Christie bolted from the salon and down the long corridor in flight from the daemons. The instance kept repeating in her head:

 

“Hey Marceline, I’m gonna need something to go with this.” Christie raised a fashionable summer dress out of a large shopping bag with big-red-lettered print: Forever 21. The dress was a light blue and it was still on the hanger with the price-tag of the bar-code facing outward.

“Oooo, let me see!” Marceline reached for the dress, directing her head toward its tag and her eyes lit up. “Wow, payday I presume?”

“Actually, I just need a little pick-me-up from last night . . .” Christie dropped the dress back in the bag and walked toward the salon chair. “I had a rough week and had too many to drink with the girls.” Her heels clacked against the tile floor and as she stepped up into the chair, they ceased; yet her voice continued with the same piercing tone. “I just can’t get over that season finally of Grey’s Anatomy, ugh — and plus,” she held her bag up before placing it down against the swivel at the base of the chair, “Sales!”

Marceline took one step back, shifting her weight to the hip of the leg she drew away from the chair. She placed one hand on her chin, which reflected her thinking of what to do with Christie’s hair. Christie sat facing the mirror and looking at her, “I want something to bring in the season,” she said.

“Hmm, how about something short around the shoulders . . . and I’ll give your neck some breathing room.” Marceline stepped around Christie to grab the spray bottle, but Christie stopped her.

“Do you think that’s too much?” she asked, “I’ve never had shorter hair than this.” Christie turned her head slightly to capture herself in the mirror as a model would toward the lens of a camera. When she turned, her bangs shifted in front of her eyes and just before she moved the hair out of the way, the mirror warped, but she didn’t notice. The ripples dispersed as fast toward the edges as a Doppler wave would have on a radar screen.

“Well,” Marceline looked from the spray bottle to Christie in the mirror, “let me ask you this — are you seeing anyone?”

“No, not really . . . why?” Christie turned her head the other way to capture both angles. This time, her bangs flowed without blocking her vision.

“Because this hairstyle,” Marceline gave a wink to Christie in the mirror, “is what’s in right now. Plus, I’ve been rockin’ it myself – and – Justin loves it!” She lifted her free hand to the curled lower portion of her haircut. It hugged around her head almost perfectly, except that the back of her hair was shorter, revealing her neck, and the sides drew down toward her breasts at an obtuse angle. Her bangs bounced as she lightly pampered the ends of her hair with the heel of her palm.

“How’s Justin, and that whole thing?” Christie squeezed her face to indicate a sensitive topic as if she didn’t want to pry, but wanted to know.

“Oh, he’s doing ok . . . he left Wanda and the kids, but that’s really none of my business – are we going with short?” Marceline dropped her hand toward the spray bottle on the counter underneath the mirror.

“Yeah, that will be great,” Christie said, then glanced at her in the mirror, “So, you knew though, and you kept seeing him?” She brought her eyes on the spray bottle as Marceline began to spray her hair with it. The mist flowed over them causing her to squint and the mirror warped again.

“I told him it was me or them and well, let’s be honest,” Marceline stopped with the spraying  and glared at Christie in the mirror, “the sex between them couldn’t have been great – we saw each other more times a week than he was home for dinner.”

“Oh, wow – so who did he choose?” Christie asked.

“This bitch,” Marceline said. She used the spray bottle to point to herself then stepped forward, around Christie, and placed it on the counter where every hair product and cutlery was aligned for potential use. “We’re gonna have to deal with these split ends babe.”

Before stepping back behind Christie, she went to grab a pair of scissors and a comb out from the jar that was filled to the rim with barbicide. Just as she was about to grab them with her hand, the blue liquid reverberated and she retracted from it. “Oh, that was weird,” she said standing still next to Christie. The mirror warped for the third time.

“Oh my – did you see that?!” Christie froze in her chair staring at her confused expression in the mirror just as the ripples hit its edge and disappeared.

“The barbicide, it shook – is that what you mean?” Marceline said, moving away from the counter now looking at Christie in the mirror. She clasped her hands together as if she was contemplating her next move.

“Well, no – but, the mirror . . . it shook.” Christie’s expression faltered as a bulbous red orb appeared in the center of the mirror. It steadily grew into the size of a marble, and doubled its size as she and Marceline kept their eyes on it. The ripples returned, but this time they caused the mirror to shake and loosen from the wall. The red orb seemed beneath the surface of the mirror, and when it reached the size of a fist, the mirror cracked – the orb breached through the reflective surface, and then black sharp claws protruded from the orb followed by fiery-red hands. They were charred at the skin and exhumed from the orb gyrating close together like surveying-antennae. When the forearms surfaced into the salon, the two arms were still close together at the elbows, and still gyrating. It wasn’t until a dome of a head surfaced that the arms started to flail as if the daemon’s animation accelerated by taking its first breath outside of the orb, inhaling the fragrance of the prosecuted right before it. The head breached and quickly lifted to have its yellow eyes scan the foreign environment. It looked left, then right, and then at Marceline. The lips lifted to reveal pencil-like teeth, as red as its charred skin, and out of the gaping black-hole between them projected a shrilling scream that almost inoculated her and Christie.

The daemon reached for the edges of the mirror to provide balance for itself as it then projected its body out of the orb, over Christie – missing Marceline – and onto the floor, sliding on its hind legs as it had hooves for feet, while scratching the tile with its front claws without obtaining a stable grip. As the daemon jumped again, it landed on Marceline. Christie swiveled in the chair as Marceline grabbed it, but failed to hold on to it as the momentum from the daemon brought her to the ground. Christie just watched in horror as the daemon clawed at her face and gut, tearing the entrails out and tossing them any which way; some hit the Forever 21 bag, but as for the most of the guts; they colored the entire salon red. Christie slowly stood up and backed away with her hands over her mouth. Blood spewed from the disembowelment and onto her face, but she just kept quiet while still backing away, out of the salon.

Upon her exit, she witnessed the utter carnage as more daemons danced around the mall, tearing at the guts of those who had deserved it. She witnessed it in repetition, which stuck a heavier sense of fear and horror into her chest. She was flabbergasted at the sight of the pain and torture of each disembowelment; even more so at the moment when it was completed, just to have it done unto them again. It was ceaseless. She turned and ran down the corridor hoping for an exit from the mall, without looking back; but instead, she only came to the double-metal doors of the maintenance room. She opened them as fast as she shut them from the other side.

She pushed every item in that room – every item that her strength could bear – up against the double-metal doors, but not even the rusty metal desk that she gruelingly lumbered in front of those doors could block the screams and harsh caterwauls bellowing from those spawning creatures as well as their victims. The ripping of skin and gnawing of flesh reverberated off the walls of that corridor as if the corridor acted like a funnel focusing the noises of the carnage directly toward the maintenance room. They entered her ear canals and jarred her eardrums. It seemed to her that the room grew smaller as the cacophony just outside grew louder and with every sound came even more of an intense grip over her ears with her hands. Everything she saw flashed again and again in her mind with eyes closed. It was mostly the serrated flesh of Marceline’s face – where the daemon’s claws dug in and started to drag them from the base of her eye lids all the way down to the ridge of her jaw line – that kept her now sitting on the floor, with back bowed and head down, in the maintenance room.