After years of waiting, Happy Dunbar once again had what he referred to as the feeling. It was a sense – a frisson, as an old French girlfriend once described it – that he had gotten only a few times in his life. That, he understood, was why he could vividly remember each and every instance. The first came when, as he often joked later, he integrated a black church in Newark, where a visiting minister named Solomon Burke – known in the secular world as The King of Rock & Soul – filled not just the building, but also Happy’s needy soul, with a belief in the healing power of music. In those days, Happy, who had yet to acquire his music biz moniker, was rarely the least bit happy.
Bright yellow flashed along her sides, blinding and twisting deep. Then, velvet darkness resettled, unbothered and waiting. Emptiness stretched out and yawned loudly, refusing to end, and the past fell behind. We know where we begin, but where do we end? The road never tells.
I always wanted to run. She called my name, but I was stuck at the front door. I never knew where she would take me, and I was scared of where I would end. But my mistakes have left me blinded and twisted, and I regret ignoring her call. I should have ran. Instead, I teased her with little trips down my haven, staying close to the nest, but who was fooling who?
It was deadline night. The newspaper was being put to bed. Phones rang with last minute comments, and fingers pounded along the keyboard. Cigar smoke rose out of the editor’s office and into the small room, where the reporters hunkered down and finished writing their story.
First year on the job, Kingston Linders was assigned to the police blotter. He was itching to tango with politics, but the senior reporter had that gig. He would love to do community events and issues, but that was also taken. And he was the rookie, so he got what he was stuck with. And every day, horror stories came over web and fax, and he had to dig through them.
I sat down on the white bench, checking my watch. They were late, and nobody called me to tell me that class was canceled. I rose up from my seat and stretched my arms over my head, pretending to be oblivious to the cop now watching me. I glanced across the street to the dance studio, where little girls also stretched and practiced their dance. I was only killing time, but somebody noticed me. Now, the blinds were drawn, and the cop was near, contemplating his next move. But I was not going anywhere.
I sat back down on my seat. I kicked at the air before me, waiting. I was always waiting for something. I wondered how I got here. It was a year ago, and my brother saw the ad in the paper for acting classes. He was thrilled and dragged me along to the introductory class, and I was the one left attending. And here I am now.
Fires licked pink, plastic walls, turning them black. Floors melted. Windows filled with smoke. Toy furniture ignited. A small figurine stood in the corner, waiting for her end, and the flames drew closer. But then I saved her. She was the ghost of me.
I lost my innocence when I was eight. I can’t forget. I try, but that moment shines like yesterday. There’s no erasing the past. It takes hold of the future, but no more will I let it.
“Come find me,” he says, but there is no perfect world beyond this doll house, no sanctuary to find.
I first began reading Charles Bukowski right around the same time I was falling off the earth. Hearing that he’d lived a tragic, tortured life made me all the more eager to get involved with his books, to read of his treacherously long, strange soul-searching days at the U.S Post Office, his part-time gig when not writing. How peculiar for him to have had such a wide array of untamed characters showing up at his residence: seasoned drifters from far away posing as fans, presenting themselves at his doorstep, assorted folks driving through who thought they’d just pop by. Poor guy, dodging compliments from illiterates who said they loved his words though had read none; pointless people rallying around his noble bungalow, peering in windows to maybe catch a view of a great writer enjoying a beer and a cheese sandwich. Ah, the human race strikes again.
The white ruffled snowflakes fell by the millions covering the browning grass that would have been blowing free. The snow had been falling for the last week. It started about noon last Saturday. Just in time for Christmas.
Bundled in his clothes, Charles was sure not to let one molecule of air drift through to a minute portion of his skin. Charles walked this way Monday through Friday on school days. He didn’t particularly like school, but sickness of any kind meant making up work. He didn’t want that.
The wind was blowing the snow making drifts as high as the fences around the farm. Charles knew he had to hurry before the snow became too deep to wade. The familiar path no longer led the way home, but he knew it well enough without going astray too far.
Last year was to be my last. My doctor laid it all out on the table. My heart was broken. There was no one to take me by the hand or place their arm around my shoulders. It was just the chair and the decision resting in my lap. Would I do the surgery? The doctor was waiting, and my father couldn’t give me what I really needed, another man’s love. I had to decide. I was alone.
I sat in the hospital afterward, recovering. The line down my chest was angry, red. My heart was quiet. My body moaned from all the holes punctured into my skin. Why did I do this to myself? What was I living for? I wanted more, but I didn’t have more. I just had my life.
Each breath caused the light to change. Paces above the men, a cut-glass chandelier trembled with their speaking. A team of artisans had crafted the light piece by cleaving glass with diamond chisels. Photons flickered like electrons through a circuit board. Standing on the silk carpet, Braeden reached for salvation.
“It doesn’t seem fragile,” he said to Chisolm while accepting the box.
To Braeden, they seemed exactly opposite. Chisolm was pale and soft with an active voice and expression. The box was dense, black, and inert.
Created by James Rubino in 1986, Followers of the All was conceived as a seven-issue mini-series that was first published as an “underground” comic in 1988. In the early 1990s, Rubino suspended publication and decided to rewrite and redraw the entire series. The first of these stories was published last year in a new series titled Archives of the Alien.
“I intended Followers of the All to portray my perception of the direction our world and our society was heading in,” says Rubino. “At the time it was originally released it seemed fantastic to some. Not anymore.”