The Note, Act 3

The Characters:
Professor Theodore Goetz

Matthew Raford

Small Korean Woman

Young Theodore Goetz

Young Theodore’s Papa

 

ACT 3

Professor Goetz’s office – Dawn.

Goetz is still slumped in his seat. The Korean woman is still sitting like a statue. The conductor comes onto the stage and conducts the invisible orchestra. Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony, 4th movement begins. It is loud and bombastic – contradicting the image of our two players sitting still and unmoving. After 3-4 minutes, the music abruptly stops and the conductor walks off.

Just then there is a projection of a young boy eating food at a small table. It slowly fades in as Goetz sits motionless in his chair. The boy is eating rather quickly, and after some furious chewing, he pushes the plate away.

BOY: I’m done!

Just then the man from earlier comes into view. Although now he wearing a face mask and a fedora hat.

MAN: Good boy. You ate it all up. Poppa is so proud of you.

BOY: Papa?

MAN: Yes, son?

BOY: I know I’m not supposed to ask, but when are you going to take your mask off?

The man’s body language changes slightly.

MAN: I’ve told you. Papa can’t take his mask off. The sight of my face would disturb you.

BOY: I’m older now, papa. I’m not scared.

MAN: It doesn’t matter how old you are. The fear will always be with you. You are a fearful child.

BOY: Papa. Show me.

The man actually contemplates this.

MAN: Son. If I take it off, will you promise not to be afraid?

BOY: I promise.

The man takes off his hat. He is missing clumps of hair from his head. Then he slowly removes his mask. His face looks grotesque – like a skull covered in melting wax. The boy is frozen, and is trying not to show fear.

MAN: You are afraid. I can smell you.

BOY: No I am not Papa!

MAN: Yes you are. Give me your arm.

BOY: Why papa?

MAN: Give me your arm, boy.

The boy tentatively extends his arm toward the man. The man lowers his head down and without warning bites a huge chunk of skin off the boy’s arm. The man chews on the skin and the boy screams, running away. The projection fades out.

Goetz rises from his seat and walks towards the Korean woman.

GOETZ: Excuse me.

He moves behind her and tears the garbage bag off the window, exposing the window and allowing the early morning light to enter the room.

GOETZ: (to the woman – snickering to himself) Sleep well?

Just then there’s a knock on the door. It is Matthew again.

MATTHEW: Professor?

GOETZ: Come in, Matthew.

Matthew enters and closes the door behind him. He stands at the door though, as if he does not want to cross a threshold.

MATTHEW: Professor. I wanted to apologize for the things I said last night.

Goetz hands him a cup of coffee.

MATTHEW: So I’m here. And I apologize.

GOETZ: Matthew, come closer. I promise I won’t hurt you.

MATTHEW: I’d prefer to stay over here if you don’t mind.

GOETZ: Matthew. Please. You know me. I-I may not always act like myself these days, but I’m still me. I’m not a violent person, you know that.

MATTHEW: You never were.

GOETZ: And I’m still not. Come on.

Matthew takes a few steps into the room. He suddenly notices the Korean woman.

MATTHEW: Um, Professor?

GOETZ: Yes, Matthew.

(pause)

MATTHEW: Who’s that?

GOETZ: (snickering) Huh? Oh her! That’s my Korean woman.

MATTHEW: Your Korean woman?

GOETZ: Yes! Isn’t she wonderful?

MATTHEW: (to the woman) Pardon me, ma’am.

GOETZ: Oh don’t do that.

MATTHEW: Don’t do what?

GOETZ: She can’t hear you. Or, she can hear you and chooses not to. She’s a miserable cunt. Starting to remind me of Elizabeth.

MATTHEW: (not taking eyes of the woman) Why won’t she respond?

GOETZ: (laughing maniacally) Fuck if I know! Women, right?!

MATTHEW: Would you like me to leave you two alone?

GOETZ: Matthew. She’s a fucking statue.

MATTHEW: Wait, she is? She looks so real.

GOETZ: No no no, she is real. But…she’s frozen. Or something. I don’t know.

MATTHEW: This is very odd.

GOETZ: Fuck yes, it is.

Matthew walks over to the woman tentatively.

MATTHEW: Ma’am? Can you hear me?

GOETZ: That doesn’t work, Matthew.

MATTHEW: Sir I think she may have had a stroke.

GOETZ: What?

MATTHEW: I’ve heard about this. They’re rare cases but I’ve heard of people stroking out and going into a kind of locked position. Almost like a statue.

GOETZ: Should I – Should we call a doctor?

MATTHEW: I think we should.

Goetz reaches for his phone.

MATTHEW: No need to call anyone. The police are right outside.

Matthew starts towards the door, and opens it. Goetz races over the door himself and slams it shut, standing in Matthew’s path.

GOETZ: (maniacal grin) You almost got me there Matthew. That was pretty fucking smart.

MATTHEW: Almost got what? This woman needs medical attention. Stand aside, Professor.

GOETZ: You had me all the way up to that last moment. I almost forgot about this whole thing. I even went to pick up my phone.

MATTHEW: Professor this is no trick, please get out of the way.

GOETZ: I will do no such thing, Matthew. You think you can just nonchalantly call the police in here? They’re not coming in here, and I am not going out there.

MATTHEW: But, Professor…

GOETZ: The note, Matthew.

MATTHEW: Excuse me?

GOETZ: Where is the note. I would like you to give me back the note.

MATTHEW: I don’t have the note anymore. The police have it.

GOETZ: Fuck right, they do. I don’t believe you.

MATTHEW: Sorry?

Goetz begins to pace slowly, but confidently. He keeps his eye on Matthew.

GOETZ: Matthew you said last night…that you are not a liar.

MATTHEW: Yes. I did say that.

GOETZ: And that is true.

(pause)

GOETZ: You are not a liar.

(pause)

GOETZ: Because, when you DO lie, I can spot it ten thousand miles away.

Matthew starts to look nervous.

GOETZ: The police don’t have my note. You have my note. I can see it spray painted and neon-signed all over your fucking face.

(pause)

GOETZ: The fucking note, Matthew.

Matthew looks defeated. He takes a small slip of yellow paper out of his jacket pocket and hands it back to the Professor. Goetz rips it up into many pieces, and throws them up into the air like confetti.

GOETZ: (to no one in particular) Mardi Gras!

MATTHEW: I made a copy of it.

GOETZ: I don’t care, Matthew.

MATTHEW: I want to go there. I want to see if the answer is there.

Goetz begins to laugh. Then he cuts his laughter abruptly short.

GOETZ: It’s not.

MATTHEW: So why did you write about it in the first place?

GOETZ: Why did I write about it in the first place? You’re asking why I wrote that Taco Bueno holds the secret to the universe?

MATTHEW: Not the universe. The resurrections.

GOETZ: You’re asking me why I wrote that the mexican fast food chain Taco Bueno holds the secret to the resurrections?

(pause)

Goetz approaches Matthew.

GOETZ: You wanna know why I wrote you that note?! Because I’m a fucking looney tune, Matthew!

Goetz briskly walks over to the object in the corner of the room. He tears away the towel to reveal a plastic cactus wearing sunglasses and holding a guitar.

GOETZ: Because I’ve spent the last three months of my life communicating with a plastic fucking cactus!

(pause)

GOETZ: You know they always say you’re only crazy if you don’t realize you’re the craziest one in the room?!

(pause)

GOETZ: Well I’m so crazy, I KNOW I’m the craziest one in the room! I wake up every day and say to myself ‘hmm, what fucked up, batshit thing am I gonna do today?’ It’s like being trapped in a fucking cage! It’s a nightmare!

Goetz is half laughing at this.

GOETZ: So pardon me, Matthew, if I find the notion that you’re taking me just the least bit seriously…a fucking riot.

Matthew turns and exits the room, slamming the door behind him.

Goetz turns back to the cactus.

GOETZ: There. You happy now?!

Just then the Korean woman rises and exits the room as well. Goetz is left speechless for a moment because he was not expecting this. He is alone in the room once again. He meanders over to the coffeemaker and pours himself a cup. He sips it slowly.

The conductor enters and begins to conduct the invisible orchestra again. Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphony is coming to a close. We hear the remaining two-three minutes of bombastic music. When the final note is played, the conductor walks off stage. Goetz is left alone.

The End.

-H.G.

 

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The Note, Act 2

 

The Characters:

Professor Theodore Goetz

Matthew Raford

Small Korean Woman

Young Theodore Goetz

Young Theodore’s Papa

 

ACT 2

Dr. Goetz’s office. Night.

Goetz is slumped in his chair, still in his bathrobe. He is fast asleep. The room is exactly the same except there is a small Korean woman sitting by the window. She is in her mid-70s, and sits sternly staring at nothing.

The conductor walks out onto the center of the stage and once again uses his baton to conduct an invisible orchestra. Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony, 2nd movement begins to play. It is a pastoral and contemplative piece, and it matches the lull of the evening.

Goetz is startled awake. He takes a moment to get his bearings and slowly rises. He makes his way to the coffeemaker and pours himself a cup of coffee. He sips it and begins to pick objects and books up from the floor, cleaning up a bit. He turns to pick up something by the woman and sees her for the first time.

GOETZ: Ahhhhhhhhh!!

He backs away, startled.

GOETZ: Who the FUCK are you?!

She does not acknowledge him.

GOETZ: Hello? Hello? Can I help you?? How did you get in here??

Goetz looks towards the door, as if expecting to see it open. But it is closed. The window is still covered by the garbage bag. Goetz is flustered by this new turn of events. He takes a moment to get his bearings.

GOETZ: Listen. If you’re here as some weirdo sympathy bait to get me out of here, they got a lot of nerve!

He says the last part of this statement louder and staring out towards the door, as if someone outside could hear him.

GOETZ: And it’s NOT gonna work. I feel no sympathy for you, or your people, or for anyone right now in particular!

She continues to sit like a statue.

GOETZ: Hello?!

Goetz approaches her tentatively.

GOETZ: Hello?

He waves his hand in front of her face. Snaps his fingers in her eyes. She doesn’t blink or move.

GOETZ: Ok this is weird.

He backs away and begins to pace, trying to figure out what is going on. He’s talking to people he believes are right outside the door.

GOETZ: Ok so you might…you might not have gotten my sympathy but you sure as hell are giving me the willies!

Goetz stops and stares at the woman. He gathers inner strength and approaches her more assuredly now.

GOETZ: Madame, can you please wake up?!

He shakes her. First gently, then getting more violent.

GOETZ: Madame! Madame! COCK-a-doodle-doo madame!!!

Goetz gives up and paces some more.

GOETZ: What the hell IS this? Are you playing mind games with me??

Goetz stops and looks over at the object in the corner, covered with a towel.

GOETZ: Oh. It’s you. It’s you, isn’t it.

Goetz approaches the object.

GOETZ: Isn’t it?!

(pause)

GOETZ: You’re behind this. Of course it’s you. You miserable fuck. You’re trying to drive me insane. You’re trying to mindfuck me, aren’t you!!

(pause)

GOETZ: She’s an hallucination, isn’t she!! She’s not really here.

He runs over to the lady and gets right in her face.

GOETZ: You’re not reaalllly heeeeeeere…. Oh shit yes you are!

He backs away. Something on the woman smells. He turns back to the object under the towel.

GOETZ: Get her out of here! I mean it! Tell her to leave!

(pause)

GOETZ: Fuck you!

Giving up, Goetz wanders back to his chair and slumps down in it.

GOETZ: (to woman) So. What brings you here?

Goetz chuckles to himself. The chuckle turns to full on laughter. Pretty soon he is having a laughing fit. His laughing fit dies slowly and he puts his head back, staring up at the ceiling.

GOETZ: I wasn’t always like this, you know.

(pause)

GOETZ: I used to…be preeminent in my field. You know what preeminent means?

(pause)

GOETZ: I was fucking famous.

GOETZ: I won an award.

He points over at a shelf with cobwebs on it.

GOETZ: The Manfred Lautenshluggen – Lautenschlaggen – shit. Hahah. Fuck it. It’s got a facacta name. It’s an award that has a name that takes too long to say.

(pause)

GOETZ: It’s an award for Theological Promise. Theological Promise. Apparently I showed promise. Who knew!

(pause)

GOETZ: You want to know the truth?

(pause)

GOETZ: That award was like a fucking noose. Tightening. Every year. Every year I didn’t live up to that promise. I’d come in here and look at it and want to throw it across the fucking room.

(pause)

GOETZ: There was a boy in here before. His name was Matthew Raford. This boy idolized me. I was like…like a fucking rock star to him.

(pause)

GOETZ: And I blew it. I blew it right in front of his eyes.

(pause)

GOETZ: But…even before I blew it…before my life went to shit…I never felt…like I deserved any of it. That award. I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t show promise. I – I was just an asshole kid trying to get his doctorate.

(pause)

GOETZ: But Matthew.

(pause)

GOETZ: Matthew is the true golden boy. He’s like if Robert Redford and Matt Damon shitted out a perfect baby.

(pause)

GOETZ: He’s genuine. And he’s kind. He’s decent. He’s honest. He has faith. He believes in people and he believes in the goodness of a higher power. He’s everything you want in a student.

(pause)

GOETZ: I fucking love him. He’s amazing.

(pause)

GOETZ: And I’ve let him down.

(pause)

GOETZ: I blew it.

Goetz slumps further in his chair.

The conductor comes out and stands at center stage. He conducts the last two-three minutes of Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony, 3rd Movement. The pastoral music comes to a slow end, and the conductor walks off.

-H.G.

The Note, Act 1

The Characters:

Professor Theodore Goetz

Matthew Raford

Small Korean Woman

Young Theodore Goetz

Young Theodore’s Papa

 

ACT 1

Professor Goetz’s office. Evening.

Professor Goetz is sitting quietly in his bathrobe. He is at his desk. He slowly sips a cup of coffee and looks almost absent-mindedly at some papers on his desk. His desk and his whole office are a complete mess. There are stacks of papers everywhere. The windows are covered with black garbage bags. There’s a fine layer of dust on everything. There is an object in the corner of the room, sitting on a shelf. It is covered with a towel.

A man in a tuxedo enters from stage right, and walks to the middle of the stage. He takes out a baton, and begins to conduct an invisible orchestra.

Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony, First Movement begins to play. It’s first few minutes are loud and brash. There is almost a crack of thunder in the music. It contrasts oddly with Professor Goetz, who sits still as a statue in his chair, slumped. The light changes in the office according to the change in the music. Different colored lights illuminate various sections of the office.

As the music is blasting, Goetz rises from his chair and moves over slowly to the other side of the office and pours coffee from a coffeemaker sitting on a cluttered countertop. He sips it slowly.

He makes his way back to his desk chair and sits down, picking up a newspaper and leafing through it methodically. The music comes to an abrupt stop, almost midway through a note, and the conductor walks off stage, leaving Goetz alone.

Suddenly his cell phone rings. He ignores it for two rings. Then he lowers the paper and picks up the phone, swiping to answer.

GOETZ: Margaret.

(pause)

GOETZ: (impatiently) Yes. I’m fine. I’m on campus.

(pause)

GOETZ: Is that all?

(longer pause)

GOETZ: You can’t be…

(quick pause)

GOETZ: Tell that miserable cunt I am in my bathrobe because I cannot get inside my own house. Can you tell her that please?

(pause)

GOETZ: I just told you. Please stop asking me that.

(pause)

GOETZ: Thank you.

He hangs up, tossing the phone angrily on top of his desk.

GOETZ: (under his breath) Fucking cunt.

He sits back in his chair, staring up at the ceiling. Just then a projection appears behind him by the coffeemaker. It is a scene in daylight, that appears to have taken place in the same office. Goetz the projection is dressed in a full suit and tie, pouring himself a cup of coffee, reading a paper. This Goetz looks almost like a different person. He seems well groomed and well rested. Suddenly the Goetz projection looks up, over at the real Goetz in the chair. A sadness overcomes the Goetz projection. He folds the paper up and walks over to the real Goetz, sitting down on top of him. The Goetz projection slowly disappears and we are left with the real Goetz, alone again.

Suddenly there is a faint and weak knock on the door. Goetz doesn’t respond. The knock is a little stronger the second time.

GOETZ: Away with you!

The voice from the other side is a college student named Matthew Raford.

MATTHEW: Professor?

GOETZ: Matthew. Begone!

MATTHEW: Professor?

GOETZ: Oh for god’s sake.

Goetz rises and angrily stomps over to the door. He opens it quickly. Matthew is soaking wet. He is a clean-cut, attractive boy. A young Robert Redford-type.

GOETZ: Matthew. I am very tired. I would like to be left alone.

MATTHEW: Um, I’m afraid I can’t do that professor. I’ve got orders.

Goetz takes this in for a moment.

GOETZ: You’ve got orders.

MATTHEW: Yes sir. I-I’ve been told to speak with you. To make you come out.

Goetz allows him to enter.

GOETZ: You are wet, Matthew.

MATTHEW: Yes, sir. That is correct.

GOETZ: I didn’t know it was raining.

MATTHEW: Yes, sir. It is. Raining, I mean.

(Pause)

Goetz slumps back in his chair.

GOETZ: Ok what’s wrong.

MATTHEW: Pardon?

GOETZ: With you. What’s wrong. You’re acting fucking tweaky. Th-This is not you. What is up?

MATTHEW: Sir, I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you.

GOETZ: Matthew I will find out one way or the other, whatever it is you’re hiding. Please spill it now.

MATTHEW: It’s about the note.

GOETZ: Oh jesus.

MATTHEW: It’s been seen.

Goetz rises, begins to pace around the room.

MATTHEW: It’s been read.

GOETZ: (muffled) That was for you.

MATTHEW: Pardon?

GOETZ: (yelling) That was for you! That was only for you! Not for anyone else!

MATTHEW: I know you’re upset.

GOETZ: (increasingly anxious) Ohhhhh…Fuck me!

MATTHEW: It’s been in front of quite a few eyes now sir, I’m afraid.

GOETZ: How many.

MATTHEW: Pardon?

GOETZ: How many eyes? How many eyes has it been in front of?

MATTHEW: Oh, uh –

Matthew pauses to count, using his fingers.

MATTHEW: Uh, about eight I would say. Including your own. And mine own. MY own, I mean.

GOETZ: That was meant for one person only.

MATTHEW: Yes sir, I am aware of that. Um.

(pause)

Matthew looks back awkwardly at the door. Once, then a second time. Goetz stops pacing and observes this.

GOETZ: Matthew.

MATTHEW: Yes sir.

GOETZ: What the fuck are you doing.

MATTHEW: I think there’s something else you need to know as well, sir.

GOETZ: Jesus.

Goetz moves around the room again anxiously.

MATTHEW: There are two policemen stationed down the hall, and there’s a squad waiting out in the parking lot.

(pause)

Goetz suddenly stops. He keeps himself very still.

GOETZ: Matthew. Listen to me very carefully. I need you to go out into the hallway, and politely ask for the officers’ names.

MATTHEW: The officers’ names? Their names?

GOETZ: Their names. Out in the hallway. Politely.

MATTHEW: How shall I – ? What should I do? How can I ask them?

GOETZ: You approach them gently and politely ask to see their identifications. They cannot refuse that request.

MATTHEW: That’s actually not true, sir.

GOETZ: Excuse me.

MATTHEW: I believe it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but I can recall reading that a police officer is not required to present ID if there is a concern for safety.

GOETZ: Matthew. Do you believe I am a concern for safety?

MATTHEW: I’m just telling you what I’ve read sir.

GOETZ: I need to know their names.

Goetz approaches Matthew and gets very close to him.

GOETZ: Matthew. What did I tell you last night?

MATTHEW: Um…

GOETZ: Everything is connected. Say it, Matthew.

MATTHEW: Everything is connected.

GOETZ: Exactly. Everything means everything. If their names are Fagbutt and Silverstein, it will mean something different than if their names are Sheppard and Schmidhole!

MATTHEW: What exactly…would it mean?

GOETZ: (emotional) I don’t know! Nobody knows! Nobody knows anything!

Goetz wanders off, pacing for a moment and then slumps down in his chair. Matthew exits the room. The conductor re-enters from stage right and stands at center stage. He begins to conduct the invisible orchestra as they continue playing Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony. After a minute or two, Matthew reenters and walks over to the slumped Goetz, placing a jacket over him. He then walks over to the coffeemaker and pours himself a cup. The music once again stops mid-note, and the Conductor walks off stage right. Matthew is staring at the object covered by the towel in the far corner of the room.

MATTHEW: It’s still here.

GOETZ: Don’t talk about it please.

Goetz blows his nose.

GOETZ: (drained of energy) So. What did you find on your research expedition. Were you correct about me. Am I a concern for safety.

MATTHEW: Their names were Sheppard and Schmidhole.

Goetz lowers his head again, but this time he is laughing. Uncontrollably.

MATTHEW: (irritated) You’ll forgive me if I don’t join you.

GOETZ: This miserable existence.

MATTHEW: Jesus.

Matthew turns away, in frustration.

GOETZ: Excuse me?

MATTHEW: Nothing.

GOETZ: (smug) Do I detect a hint of irritation in my young protege?

MATTHEW: Why won’t you go home, sir.

GOETZ: I can go home whenever I want, Matthew.

MATTHEW: (sheepishly, looking down) Um. I don’t think that’s true.

GOETZ: (exploding) Fuck that cunt!

MATTHEW: Hey! Wha- What’s wrong with you? What happened? This – this is not you. You don’t say things like that.

GOETZ: You’ve asked me that already. You’ve been asking me that.

MATTHEW: And I’ll keep asking it until I get an answer.

Goetz folds into himself, staring at his coffee.

GOETZ: Matthew did I ever tell you about Anton Rubinstein?

MATTHEW: (impatient) No.

GOETZ: Rubinstein was a Russian composer, in the late 19th century. He wrote one of my all time favorite operas, The Demon. He was a man between two worlds. He was born a Jew, later was forced by his father to convert to Russian Orthodoxy.

Goetz waits for a reaction.

GOETZ: Matthew.

MATTHEW: (impatient) Yes?

GOETZ: What does that remind you of?

MATTHEW: I don’t know.

GOETZ: It’s me. It should remind you of me.

MATTHEW: You weren’t forced to convert to anything, sir.

GOETZ: No. But I was born between faiths, Matthew. Rubinstein used to say… “The Russians call me German, the Germans call me Russian. The Jews call me a Christian, and the Christians call me a Jew. Pianists call me a composer, and the composers call me a pianist. My conclusion is that I am neither fish nor fowl – a pitiful individual.”

MATTHEW: That’s a rather negative view of things.

GOETZ: It is how I feel, Matthew. I read about this man and I say…my god that’s me! I even look like him! Look!

Goetz picks up a book that has been left opened on the floor. He shoves it in Matthew’s face.

MATTHEW: Looks more like Jack White.

GOETZ: Excuse me?

MATTHEW: The guy from the White Stripes.

GOETZ: This man lived a pitiful existence. He was caught between worlds.

MATTHEW: But that’s just not you, sir. You- You have a home here, at the university. People respect and admire you. You’ve carved an existence here, and that should stand for something.

GOETZ: (almost jubilant) But it’s allll gone now, isn’t it.

Matthew looks away.

GOETZ: I have nothing.

MATTHEW: I don’t believe that. People are trying to help you. I’m here. The Dean is outside with the squad.

GOETZ: Fuckin pig.

MATTHEW: That’s – That’s just it. You’ve changed. You never used to talk like that. It’s almost-it’s almost like you’re possessed or something. Like the fucking Exorcist.

Goetz begins to laugh.

GOETZ: I wonder if that’s on Netflix.

MATTHEW: Jesus.

Matthew slams the coffee cup down in exasperation.

MATTHEW: You know how many people you’ve hurt in the last three months? You know how many people whose lives have been ruined? That c-word: your wife. She loved you.

GOETZ: (laughing) She’s locked me out, good sir.

MATTHEW: Because you tried to kill her. Jesus Christ, Professor, you do remember you tried to kill her, right?

GOETZ: She’s a fucking liar.

MATTHEW: Am I a liar Professor? Would I lie? You know I’m not a liar. And I’ve seen some pretty fucked up shit happen in this office lately. I saw you carve up that poor dog last week.

GOETZ: Oh you don’t know what you saw. It was a fucking deer, a tiny deer. I brought it into my office to show it off and it was still alive. So I had to stab it. I told you all of this.

MATTHEW: I don’t know what it was. But it was fucking weird. You’re not supposed to bring dead animals into the building.

GOETZ: Are you listening? I said it wasn’t dead! It got up and ran around the room! I had to stab it with my bowie knife. Look, you can still see the dried blood on the floor.

Goetz points to a spot behind Matthew, who backs away in disgust.

MATTHEW: (backing away) But your wife, Professor. Why did you try to stab your wife?

GOETZ: She didn’t understand me. You’re the only person that has understood anything I’ve said over the last few months. That is why I wrote that note for you! For you only!

MATTHEW: (fighting back tears) I understood you Professor because I loved you. And I accepted you. I didn’t know what was happening with you but I knew that you were a strong and sane man, and whatever this was wouldn’t get the best of you. But now- now-

GOETZ: (getting up, moving towards Matthew) Now – what, Matthew? Now – what?

MATTHEW: (backing away nervously) Now – now –

GOETZ: Say it Matthew! Say it!

MATTHEW: I think whatever this was… has now become you! I can’t tell you apart anymore!

GOETZ: You miserable little fuck!

Matthew screams and runs out, slamming the door behind him.

Goetz wanders for a minute, getting his bearings in the room. He moves over to the window and tears back some of the garbage bag over the window, looking out. As he stands there, a projection of a young boy rides past on a tricycle. An older man runs after him. The boy comes back the other direction and the tricycle flips over, causing the boy to fall face first. The boy begins to cry.

BOY: Papa! Papa!

The man runs over and helps him up. He sits him down on the ground.

MAN: There there. Papa’s here. You had an accident. Let me see it. Oh, it will get black and blue. But that’s alright.

BOY: Papa?

MAN: Yes, boy?

BOY: What does it mean black and blue?

MAN: (chuckling) That’s just when your skin reacts to the injury. It turns a different color. But soon, it turns normal. And you’ll be good as new.

BOY: How come your skin doesn’t turn normal?

MAN: What’s that?

BOY: Your skin. It’s all melting and oozing. It’s been like that for days. How come it’s not back to normal?

MAN: Theo. Don’t ask papa about that again. You understand?

BOY: Why not?

MAN: Because, Papa does not want to talk about it. Little boys will get into trouble if they keep discussing things that they’ve been told not to discuss.

BOY: Ok.

MAN: Good. Now run along. I’ll bring your bike back.

The boy runs off stage. The man picks up the bike. He rubs his face and pieces of his face begin to fall off. He is disgusted with this, and throws the bike down in anger. The projection fades away.

Goetz walks away from the window and picks up the book he had shown Matthew, leafing through it. Just then he looks up at the object covered by the towel.

GOETZ: No.

(pause)

GOETZ: Absolutely not.

(pause)

GOETZ: Because it will destroy me! That’s why not!

(pause)

GOETZ: Don’t say those things to me. You hurt me!

(pause)

GOETZ: He’s not buried! He’s alive! Please!

Goetz walks over to the object and lifts his hand to the towel. But stops himself.

GOETZ: No! I can’t! You fucking asshole! You’re killing me!

Goetz turns and retreats to center stage.

GOETZ: Just leave me alone! Please! I beg you!

(pause)

GOETZ: No. You wouldn’t. He’ll die! It will kill him!

(pause)

GOETZ: You asshole!

Goetz picks up his coffee mug and hurls it at the object, the mug shatters but the object stays still.

GOETZ: That’s right! I did that! I did that! And I’ll do it again!

He picks up a glass bowl from the counter and hurls it at the object, shattering the bowl. He picks up two more objects and throws them, breaking them. After the last one he falls to his knees weeping.

A spotlight remains on him. The conductor walks out to the center of the stage and begins conducting the invisible orchestra once more. The last three minutes of Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony, 1st Movement are heard. When the last note is played, the conductor walks off, leaving Goetz alone on the floor.
-H.G.

 

The Church on the Corner part 2

One afternoon a gaggle of kids gathered after school near the church on the corner. Their squeaky voices thundered. There was always a leader.

The church on the corner, though solid, was angular. It gave many locals a fiery feeling. The exterior was made of wood boards painted over. The newest color was peach. The landscape consisted of beds of tiny hydrangeas. The flowers looked too pristine like they were hand painted. The foundation arched and stretched and wooden dowels and post columns were jutted and warped. The design was minimal. Two trees stood side by side on either side of the door. Each was shaved and stripped of branches equal in height from base to middle. They were some kind of pine branch like a salad garnish. There were Asian imitation panels installed by the windows slathered with afterthought tree bark paint.
Neighborhood kids got drawn to the house’s daring mystery. The geometric forms were masterly and forthright and bold compared to most homes. Rumors existed the house was only a figment of imagination. Prim and proper pines always lost needles yet somehow retained them.

The church on the corner looked restless in pale pink light stretching miraculously. The activities inside bustled. The rooster red front door was always partially hidden from the sun. Its top portion had windows that were burning and churning. The bottom became vertical rectangles in direct light.

Albany was used to guarded entrances and white mailboxes. The church had a letterbox nailed crudely beside the front door slathered in tree bark paint. The box up close was horridly jagged riddled in splinters. The door itself looked like dried blood mixed with wet clay. A Chinese paper lamp swayed above with no wind.

On bright days local folks stood on the porch to experience a square block of light running through the pores. They treasured the solitude standing on the safe grid smelling heavy pine—hearing the Chinese lamp creak.

The heavens highlighted the church on the corner. Every street, concrete, home, hill, limb and detail seemed alike. The house was aloof: a hub of magic unknown to many. Its abnormal structure, design and landscape appeared reaching for the sky. It was the great scream house supernatural and wondrous. Laborers got a lift on the peaceful porch and their cramped muscles settled. Some people gossiped about an affable widow ghost.

Mrs. Hiney chuckled at ghost stories. She could be spotted standing before the stoop intersecting the fencelike door. She hated direct sun and preferred admiring the neighborhood half hidden. She beamed like a human healer searching for the mood in a day. She was appropriately pipsqueak hungering to heal. She wanted kids but couldn’t venture further than the porch. She could point out the exact light source. The heart was most likely oblong as the home. She didn’t care for strangers.

Hiney’s church congregation was small and solid like a landmark. The members had quirks for days and Hiney cherished them. She was devoted to strengthening faith and preferred to pray alone. She couldn’t have peace until all members were praying in the living room.

Sunday evenings for Hiney were chain-smoking rituals. Meals were eaten in bed for max comfort.

The colorful churchgoers shared worldly or imagined adventures. Hiney saw photos and etchings from tropical islands. One man boasted seeing Gauguin the painter having drinks. The man wreaked of alcohol and his forehead gleamed sweat pearls. The mustache was overgrown and wizard-like and he boasted Gauguin approved its texture.

Hiney enjoyed greeting her guests but was more interested in stories. She didn’t care to reveal secrets. She felt emptiness in her soul and she prayed that God remold her heart. She made casual conversations with head bobs and chuckles. Hiney seldom spoke. People in church labeled her queen of questions.

Hiney always handed out Chinese church fans. She saw their satin pink wings like miracles. They were peeking out of a throwaway bin in San Francisco. She had seen an Asian grandmother smile and wink later. This woman must have been a spirit.

Hiney looked for God signals. Every soul crossing the house was symbolic. She was a doer and an overachiever and adored watching children behind her half hidden shadow. She could be critical at times, analyzing personal defects. She regarded the musicians in her church as toads and rats. She retreated from her guilt by gazing at single objects. She enjoyed fanning the porch lantern.

Hiney mercilessly hunted insects since church people always left the door open. For comfort she looked at the cuckoo clock in the living room. She felt numb and soft noticing its curves and edges. The clock had a peaceful soul. Hiney was critical of the carved hair on the Bavarian boy. As the figure popped to signal the hour she figured the lad must be gay. She second-guessed her clock. The movements weren’t so peaceful.

Occasionally Hiney extended invitations for tea and treats. She took in groups of schoolchildren. They sat in the living room while she went to swat a fly.
Sunday mornings came quickly. Hiney felt dew and the subtle wet hum of automobiles. A wave of anxiety kept her locked to her bed. She couldn’t budge thinking about possible morning mishaps. A spirit told her rise for the sake of duty. She went through her normal routine: the painful underwear straps snapping, the uncertain lipstick. She was glad the kitchen’s lights were warm.

The prepping started with boiling water. She felt a spirit watching. On the outside the house shifted a bit more vertically. It was screaming but Hiney didn’t notice even though sawdust poured out of warped ceiling planks. She couldn’t blink or breathe thinking of the morning.

Hiney’s God took pity on her determined eyes that were doughy as a cow. Guests would start arriving within the hour. She had the spark of faith moving frantically about.
Mrs. Hiney stood in the small hallway fixing her eyes on a cobweb tucked in the door crack. She felt peace. The web never altered its shape like a crystal. Her underarms were sweating but she didn’t worry. The climate would change soon.

Hiney envisioned the front door bursting with locals like a parade. They smelled of the world. There was a Chinese fellow holding a jade box carved in strange characters.
The cobweb twitched. Hiney thought how her sanctuary should touch the world. The arms caressed the thighs; hands clasped the belly, feet shifted. A strand of hair pinned up like a shell lost its hold falling across the forehead. In a moment a jolly man could appear at the door expecting a greeting.

Supernatural dreams were necessary before a church service. Outside, the world squealed horrendous noises. Hiney couldn’t break the stillness whispering gasps of prayer. She thought the house could shatter and turned for the kitchen. It must have been ninety degrees.

Hiney’s mind was spinning and her hands were frantic: teakettle whistling.
“Where are my cups?” she yelled.
She was dancing around the room like a squirrel. The wind whipped outside and the branches propelled urgency.

Hiney thought she saw a large Chinese man step inside the house. He was grinning in a triple piece. Surely his presence would impress Vasvallo the shrink. Vasvallo had a quality of cool drawing large crowds. Hiney saw him grow his office from living room to guesthouse office with a hydrangea pond. He was in the know on the newest head shrinking techniques. Hiney approached him to hear the latest happenings in town. She remembered him saying a patient mistook her husband for an elephant and fed him peanuts at meals.

Vasvallo shrunk heads by snapping fingers. Well-to-do gentlemen adored him. Hiney prayed heavily to release jealousy and hatred. She could be swept up in Vasvallo’s colorful chaos. He was ungodly strutting about sweet-talking. He always stood at the sofa head extending arms. During sleepless nights Hiney whispered God save his soul. Most of the locals were humble, well off and gossipy but sympathetic. They all flocked whining like sheep to peachy Vasvallo. Hiney prayed to get some time to talk. Her gift was mild prophecy. She figured Vasvallo would shrivel and wrap his arms like a pretzel in intimacy.

The chaotic kitchen tumult needed attending. Hiney refocused desiring a grace filled service. She easily got swept in panic and anxiety. God told her overachieving wasn’t Godly. Yet Hiney created idols. Now her mind was on tea.

Her enormous tea set was handed down.
The church on the corner was a generational place with abundant amenities. Hiney whined there wasn’t enough variation in the parlor. She instructed guests to not bring refreshments, content on letting God and sheer fortitude provide atmosphere. She was convinced burning tea leaves added fragrance. Locals commented on the pleasant charm. Curtains were drawn revealing natural light. They were intoxicating velvet.
The businessman Brodsky draped curtains over his shoulders. Hiney knew he was a drunk. Strange behavior never affected worship. It invited supernatural spirits relieving exhaustion.

During the service Hiney retreated to the kitchen to stare at a painted farmhouse. The prep and business was over. Hiney was detached staring at swells of paint. Her mania subdued. Her limbs and body were feather light. The worship staff was busy. Hiney scarcely remembered names. She was always putting herself through agony.
The same glow in the kitchen was in the living room.

Hiney’s chair was a crucifix. Wooden dowels pierced her back and she didn’t care. She was strong enough to mingle with pain. The kitchen was graced. Hiney toiled to make things perfect.

The refreshments never got finished and the excess tea and crumpets went to the cat.
Hiney favored the saddest strays in the neighborhood. Every day Irma the one legged tabby would skulk by the trash and pace. She had her fill of leftovers.
Hiney’s manic tendencies suited her. A widow’s threshold was boundless entertainment. She had a system for catching mice with peanut butter. She dished them out to Irma.
The church on the corner was like a palace for stray cats.
Hiney froze during the forty-five minute worship service staring at the farmhouse in the kitchen. She worshipped silently meditating in California rays by the window with her messy locks wrapping around the light.
The parlor door contained coffee, tea and wafers in a picnic basket.
High faith prodded and jabbed that house.

During kitchen meditations Hiney daydreamed about street performers from Coney Island and Santa Monica musicians tan as raisins—the gold man in Times Square, carnival underwater boxers. She welcomed all types of people to church with her loving delusions. She wanted her home to be a worship sanctuary with all the comforts of a southern bed and breakfast. Her guests worshipped with merry singing, mingling and reading bible verses. She was the nucleus servant hostess content on sitting in her kitchen.
As a widow she scrutinized the smallest problems. She despised unruly pieces of hair sticking out on the sofa. Maybe it was all drunken Brodsky’s fault. He sometimes would strip all his clothes off standing on the sofa with arms raised.

He adored pestering Prince the parrot.
Prince’s cage was crafted from a custom Brazilian coat hanger. He was an exotic creature ruffling, huddling and scrunching. He looked like Hiney bent over in the kitchen.
Local catholic and Lutheran congregations criticized Hiney. Critics said quit singing secular songs. On a particular Sunday the Hot Cakes Baptist service got interrupted as Hiney’s congregation sang too loudly drowning the choir.
Hot Cakes Baptist was only a few blocks from Hiney’s house. Reverend Creo had a few words to say but left Hiney’s home nourished and hydrated.
Hiney thought enough satisfaction came from celebrating God’s word. Worship was meant to be loud and boisterous. A few toad-like locals tapped keys on the Steinway and bearded bumpkins strummed guitars. Drunk Brodsky insisted on singing She’ll be Coming’ ‘Round the Mountain.

Beyond praising God Hiney’s church searched for joy’s essence. Hiney’s version of joy came from dashing around the kitchen. She would say, “You gotta give ‘em a foundation. Everyone meets each others’ needs.”

God’s words broke down overachieving jealous traits. As chords collided in worship with throats wailing everyone hungered like baby chicks. Hiney was obsessed with baby chicks. She needed a spirit fed atmosphere to enjoy all her kitchen utensils while meditating. Her manic preparations, old soul’s hands and astute posture could be restful when service wasn’t required. Her diligence to guests kept them busy. The wailing voices were spirit fed before eating cakes, scones and other crumbly delicacies. Now peaceful, Hiney would giggle imagining the bearded guitarist with crumbs caught. Potential messes were troubling.

Hiney thought of a scenario involving brash Vasvallo seducing a guest in the living room. Something about the shrink seemed dishonest.

Hiney barely left her house. She would spend the entire week prepping for worship. Vasvallo’s arrogance haunted her even as she contemplated a hairstyle. He always prowled for attention and he was successful. With Vasvallo the circular living room burst with colorful conversations about ancient Greek healing. He would shut up as the word of God got read. Perhaps he figured the human brain doesn’t need spiritual authority. Hiney observed young girls getting drawn to his brash outbursts on healing.
Vasvallo’s style was a combination of flirting and fast speech. Now Hiney in her apron with hands resting on the table felt the finger of judgment. Now Empty-headed, numb from the neck down, a spiritual presence warned she could never be married if the heart pursued hatred.

She scorned Vasvallo thinking he resembled a dopey goose curious for rotten garbage.
China drummed the parlor table clicking and clacking. Hiney heaved every plate, dish and platter. She lit several candles. They were blackberry and absinthe and sweet peaches. She collected these ingredients under candle wax. The olfactive mixture complimented the strong coffee aroma.

There was a rectangular space in the corner of the living room where guests mingled and mussed up cleavage and beards with crumbs.
Hiney anticipated footsteps. Her palms were sweaty. With high faith there would be new visitors. She prayed on the spot with her mouth gaping like a baby chick. She ran to the living room for a few extra seconds. She noticed torn seems and dust clusters and clenched her teeth. The room was abominable. This Sunday there were more mishaps than ever before. Voices chattered by the door. Hiney recognized a few of them. A holy spirit grabbed her soul and released. She was thinking beyond the moment. A local house church expected fine worship today. Communication had to be merry even with the imperfect upholstery, parrot pellets and dust.

The parlor was set up like always. There were picnic baskets filled with King James Bibles. Scriptures got chosen randomly. Boney figures started rhythmically tapping.
Hiney looked forward to her empty kitchen. The only peace she knew was disassociation. The space was empty now stripped of dishes. The painting of the thatched farm cottage glowed differently. The surface was thick enough to trace every stroke with eyeballs.
Hiney’s fragile mind always prevented her from worshipping with her guests. Her anxiety became total isolation. Today her prayers focused on expanding the church’s small living room.

She looked out beyond the Japanese gardens at the field across the street. School kids romped. Another dismal Sunday bid goodbye. Hiney stared until trees blurted out completely and burned away in darkness.
Hiney hummed swaying side to side. She had a vision for owning a proper church house. Of course there were taunting voices. She couldn’t raise the subject with the congregation. She knew they were already merry and content.
Hiney was content to be a hostess. The fragility in her soul made her keep icy distance. She never addressed money matters.
She thought, a bar wench might charm drunken Brodsky into donating. He could whip out checks over shots.
Hiney was knowledgeable about Albany’s hard won boom.
The will burned and churned in her soul. She remained squeamish.
Hiney never addressed tithing. She always surrendered saying the rift was God’s doing.
Tonight the arms were restlessly drumming on the windowsill. The hips swayed.
The dance of spiritual rebirth was part anxious and part soothing. She muttered nonsense prayers. Vasvallo could surely have her committed in this state.
Swaying hips in the dark like a ghost was ideally comforting. Hiney could remain this way from Sunday evening into Monday morning. She couldn’t blink waiting for Herbert’s little joyful self to walk down.
Tonight she heard an unusual buzz. She thought about the insects and how they couldn’t resist a tiny crack in the front door. She battled in prayer regarding them God’s children.
The forehead itched.
If the buzzing caused a bite she’d shatter all compassion.
Standing and humming in the dark made the itching worse. Hiney’s meditation was over. An insect indeed bit her forehead. There was a great white lump with tinier red lumps.
Hiney was aware she took God gifts for granted. She reminded herself that a lumpy head was praiseworthy.
The hour was 2am.

-T. Peck

Peter Keith Keyloun’s Confetti Shots

A shot crashed like a tipsy waitress spilling a tray of food. The stadium chairs were all stained red.
Peter Keith Keyloun removed a buck knife from his cargo shorts. He dared to slash anyone within arm’s reach.
Kanye slumped over in a pose that looked intentional.
The knife slipped Peter’s grip and cut his finger. He reached in another pocket after firing his 12 or 20 something shotgun.
Now he took out a flashlight like a slab of meat and flicked it one. He aimed a beam around rafters. Hours before this moment he was speaking logically directing people to their chairs.
Ladies with half ripped t’s and golden earrings hoped Kanye caught a glimpse.
The strangest rapper of them all was slumping like Don Vito or a caped hero.
Peter rushed past a few twenty something year olds catching their conversation. Kanye was too artsy and the cheddar was better spent somewhere else.
Peter skipped heal over heal. He dropped blood like a candy trail. The flashlight protruded like a graceful fencer. It would have been cleverer holding it parallel to the eyes like a dart player.
Kanye lay artfully. A dry ice visual illuminated his body like a phantom of the opera.
The phantom image made Kanye mysterious in rap circles.
Peter’s garb was oddly eighties with suspenders, a caterpillar mustache and fruit fly eyeglasses.
He collided horrendously jabbing the flashlight in the pecks of a rocklike man. He apologized like a squealing muskrat. The man looked scary but acted gracious. He handed his girlfriend’s half eaten nachos.
“Why are you playing me?”
“Girl, just keep moving,”
Peter sat down shaken and exhausted. He ate a few chips with blood-soaked fingers. He sensed their strange taste. He was propped against a wall. He was like a defeated buffalo. People flew all over in a panic at vampire speeds.
Peter was untouched. He ate more. He fingered in trashcans for morsels. He didn’t regard food as nourishing but as a way to pass the time. Human interactions heightened hunger.
Peter was like a buffet for royalty.
He rose weary and dehydrated. He seemed undead in the mystery assassination. He couldn’t hear the sirens. Kanye could be ten years buried.
Household pooches chewed rawhide bones and snarled at the news on TV. Young Devon the dj fired a sprits of cologne.
“Oh, snap!”
The news was impossible like a hero’s death. Kanye’s hero’s cape stuck out in every wardrobe. His defiant attitude reflected a warring political climate. Husbands with wives wound too tight were arenas.
You never switched on the news and got the base notes.
The desperate searching fingers in Doritos sought religions or a space for freedom.
Organized tactics for freedom found Peter repeating Kanye’s albums.
He was a pervert. He got swept by the world. His stimulation was reaching and eating. He bathed in the comfort of music through enormous Dre headphones. He swore by the phones and scrutinized others.
This highly calculating marshmallow human saw inevitable failure. He didn’t switch shorts or suspenders for weeks. He neglected dried up psoriasis.
Peter took the subway to the venue with a gun, knife and flashlight. The gentleman sitting beside him was scratching his scalp.
Peter couldn’t foresee getting infatuated. He knew he wasn’t much saner sitting with hidden weapons. His God was the God of indulgence.
The homeless subway companion repeatedly itched his scalp with a raw Gillette blade. Little by little clumps of grey wiry hair got shorter and fell creating a patchwork of bald.
Peter itched his own scalp.
He had a mind for murder. He had resources for planning. The compulsive shaving man stoked a killing drive.
Overwhelming mental instability permeated the subway’s atmosphere.
Peter barely made his destination. He had to squirm through slamming doors. He looked at the fogged up mirror tube station and undid his shirt. He showed off his belly to the world. There was a giant red slash. He thought it would become a tire streak.
Kanye’s dancers were dipping onstage like soup ladles steaming. He wore a strange mask with a face like galaxies. The spotlights illuminated jewel fragments. He did Yeezus and pepped up the crowd with chainsaw beats.
Peter had pulled off a Michael Corleone. He planted his shotgun ahead of time. It was nestled by the rafters. He clumsily made his way up a ladder.
Peter thought years of sitting planted seeds for greatness. You got deep enough in the mind and you turned into a sensei. You were the only human.
Peter’s overeating tendencies gave him strong worth ethic. He needed to taste the day. Mario Lopez looked delicious mounted on a crispy screen. It was enjoyable to watch The Sopranos with ziti portions. Every morsel of food was meticulous.
When Peter pulled the trigger he didn’t expect nailing Kanye in the heart. He simply wanted a rise.
Kanye howled as the bullet entered. He howled with the microphone looking like a sword. Super fans got sprayed. Red dots got noticed. Kanye’s spiritual hoodie flew over his head.
Peter sat with floating Taco Bell wrappers in the middle of cop lights. He was numb to the arena buzz. The cop lights were northern lights beaconing heaven.
The police set up perimeters. Somehow Peter slipped by. He bought a Pepsi and two cans of Budweiser and jerky. The Koran was blaring among fluorescent supermarket lights.
Peter devoured his jerky with the wrapper still on. He was a wild animal. His breathing sped up like a bike pump.
His final desire was firing off a single shot. He looked at his Band-Aid fast food wrapper finger. He held the buck knife tight.
The last two steps of the front porch synced with Kanye’s Stronger. The song was revolving. Peter thought it was perfect for dirty movies. He got pissed for not getting Doritos.
He reached in his shirt pocket with the Taco Bell finger. He found a pen and scribbled, “get Doritos in morning.” He entered the kitchen gleefully. It was dark and exciting.
Peter discovered a new pulse. He hungered for the aftermath of fireworks. He took joy knowing he played a part. He compared himself with God.

-T. Peck

The Watermelon That Knocked Out Dr. Goetz

 

This situation was the road to Goetz getting out of stale thoughts and into gooey ones.
Goetz rolled around like a baby Eskimo in a carrying case. A shadow kept him secure and warm although light spoke through the window.
Goetz always had a stiff drink to settle his nerves at dawn.
He fell in and out of dreams. There was a moment southern California stabbed him with its movie light. He was gliding somehow seated with no vehicle. He passed a billboard with tumbleweeds blowing around the base. A familiar face peered at him from the rectangle with tongue touching teeth. This female wasn’t nervous like Goetz knew her to be.
There was apple vodka and a heaping portion of Asian food and a vaporizer and these objects welcomed Goetz like a postcard. He hoped the dream ended by sipping a whiskey sour. He wanted 1950s western movies shooting their candy guns.
Goetz imagined his own father lying barefoot on the couch like it was a hammock. The best moments with dad were night when he didn’t speak.
There was a shriek from the door inching open. The dream turned into a distant wisp of smoke. Goetz felt the presence of a nurse’s aid. He believed her intention was stroking his ear and gliding her breath over his temple.
Goetz was too frantic to focus. A shadow ledge of a TV post was a focal point. It turned into Easter eggs for the eyes.
Goetz had had it. There was no answer for silencing the mental screaming babies. A shrill call on his life knocked him horizontal. A long ago scent of blackberry and absinthe and casual moments over coffee came back.
Goetz realized he could be prim and coiffed one moment and horizontal the next. His old dark wood office was refreshing like the morning office coffee. He was suited up in business attire and he was respected. In his fantasy, pompoms breezed past entering the school café. A mushy-faced Mrs. Henderson had a plate of flapjacks waiting. Her small town western curves thudded.

Boom! A syringe to the skin made Goetz wince. He couldn’t tell whether the sting was a needle or his own mind.

The shadow ledge faded.

Goetz smelled his own stale mustache hair. The hospital let his beard go. He couldn’t move a muscle stuck in a tussle of thought. He had enough cash saved to drop off the university scene for a while. Silence wasn’t an option. He’d squeal until there was an audience.
Goetz moved his mouth trying to make a living presence materialize. He tried squirming out his papoose position. He felt like he had a sock in the mouth.
Goetz was used to awkward silences. The hospital bed was like an empty fat space. Goetz didn’t know if his mouth or his soul got dragged under.
He was always selective choosing appropriate colleagues for sharing secrets. The most appropriate colleagues looked fitting but lacked backbone. They could be trustworthy with emotions.
Goetz was getting paranoid. He felt like a numb mummified patient of the afterlife. If he had a breakdown a staff member would commit murder.
The nurse’s aid trekked giant’s steps. Gloves popped. Goetz thought; just put an old man out of misery. He mouthed the words until the baby screams came back. He couldn’t control his thoughts with a locked brain. His body convulsed and he felt a shift in weight.
Goetz fixed his eyes on the ceiling. The nurse was looking sly with her mouth guard and normal eyes schooled and cold. The eyes were frantic professors in tech labs. Some inexplicable force fixed those eyes. They blinked slowly and painfully like razors in the eyelids.
Goetz didn’t feel the nurse’s fingers drumming his chest. He thought of sci-fi movies. His brain was controlled by a remote. He envisioned a mouth full of wires behind the nurse’s facemask. He got paranoid again thinking his toes might detach and go dancing around. The big toe would have a top hat like old vaudeville.

Goetz struggled with images. His view was a single air conditioning vent blowing icy air.
Goetz was lying numb as a vegetable. He was afraid to look away. He continued staring at the icy ceiling like it was dangerous shark gills. A supernatural voice whispered across his cheek like ocean current.
Beyond the bulls eye ice vent was a galaxy. Its never ending expanse and rushing force flowed like paint. It caused a sensation that seemed to be the root of all journeys.
Goetz didn’t feel pain. He desired exploring other points of view with a newfound power surge. The almighty one or the essential spirit of the universe locked him in its jaws. He was like a larva. The icy blasts above him got materialized in geometric shapes. Their construction looked like atoms. A bit of a ghostly nurse moved across the forever galaxy. Her figure blended in atom ice blasts.
A google of vice or the greatest name in the universe or the great creator had Goetz’s brain strings tugging. It bubbled guilt in his soul.
Goetz closed his eyes and saw his sick uncle lying in bed like a villain. He realized he had the power to control the outcome of his vision. He told the creator to make a TV appear.

“It should have pings and pangs from old western films.”

The big orchestra scores covered guilty pangs like frosting. Goetz’s uncle’s grainy vision was a stab to the chest. It reminded him of lying and killing his stepfather in a plot to get out of work and visit a chick.
Goetz’s uncle opened his eyes. They were a strange blue. His head became egg-shaped.
Goetz’s mind was filled with stars, grains of sand and anguish. His soul wasn’t fit for heaven’s majesty. He felt jostled like a mannequin. His perspective was a void of fear. He couldn’t see his creator’s tug for connection.
Not many people would get the chance to see space and time laid out before them. Perhaps an average human would require two lifetimes of preparation.
Goetz viewed a heavenly father like an ex drunk turned workout guru swaying hips and doing bike tricks. He was envious.
On paper Goetz was a university man. In spirit he was poisoned.
The most humble student at the university could look at a stinking dorm room like a welcoming abode.
Goetz’s happiest moments on campus were belly laughing over lunch and criticizing campus misfits.
Goetz hated the spirit possessing his brain. He had a sense of clarity before the nuisance prophecy created words. The academic world of words suited him. They were all politics. How much guilt was appropriate to feel?
Goetz was simple and straight in the beginning. When the God nudges came he was all wild emotions. He was a wild hyena.
Now beneath the almighty hand of the universe he exhausted his flaming stomach. Before galactic hands dismantled composure he ignored his spiritual conscience. His chest was like a bird’s nest with missing eggs.
He’d been so settled in his armchair existence he needed a smack.

Goetz never pondered existence. There were too many conversations happening in the halls at school. The glossy clicks of well-shined shoes drowned God. Goetz never stopped to take in the mad beauty of overlapping conversations. The voices were primal like jungle songs.
The spectacled doors and arches of university offices exuded pride like giants in Irish lore. They were unshakeable as champagne conversations.
The core of Goetz’s soul was a pit of ash. There were unresolved conflicts rolling around.
The faculty was largely atheist. Goetz felt whispers jab and tease and he teased the other teachers saying they didn’t know what to believe in. Goetz’s shiny red reputation seated at the head of faculty lunch was pulled out from under him.
The dank hospital room was getting more unpredictable now. Goetz was aware of hyper paranoia and heightened imagination. He wasn’t used to possessing God’s power of prophecy. God selected him for his fleshly popularity.
Goetz was never fit to lead a school, family or conversation. He couldn’t be unbiased and neutral. He had academic accolades pinned on his wall that caused visitors to second guess their appearance.

From God’s perspective heaven opened its gates and welcomed Goetz. The clouds screamed sweeping him up in holiness.

Goetz needed to be swept beyond office chatter and coffee complaining. He dreamed of golden plaques and they were destroyed before they got etched.
A college kid at Things Remembered couldn’t give a hoot about engraving plastic.
To Goetz, the plastic plaque was worth a boast.

He was unjustly burdened with supernatural powers and prophetic nudges.

-T. Peck

 

The Church on the Corner Part 1

Albany California pokes you in the face with tree branches. You can’t own the light because it changes frequently. That movie quality light turns murky quick as a film. A hill guarded in orange leaves and gargantuan waterfall palms seems innocent. There’s a heavy hard hat kid getting out of a car nervous. The roads are nestled in hills. There’s a forest near town where canopy trees twinkle. Kids in riding hats jostle on the sidewalk. There’s a dog run and a couple cringes from the stench. Light changes and the run glares in slate grey and low tide and shoots down a marriage proposal as kids in the neighborhood twirl hoops. Not a soul understands light’s gift. Months before it was brighter out.

Albany’s homes are too intricate. Before explanation you need to experience the forest from a bird’s eye. Its sanctuary sky is constantly white. Bark is moist and fragrant. The roaring town echoes a neurotic blunder. Albany’s soul gets wound to twisting limbs. Occasionally there’s a laser beam of light.

Now a boy leans against the tallest trunk. He must have journeyed for hours. His shoulders ache from digging up treasure in porches. The knots in muscles unwind. The boy reaches towards heaven. One arm rests on a tree branch. The other arm gets cushioned in a branch blanket. The boy winces at the sun. In the distance trees and hills look like blobs of paint. A red cardinal circles oblivious. The boy’s shadow is a leaf like position arching like the branch. His skin is golden. Doers do things in town below.

A mom puffs a cigarette in boxer’s shorts and a second mom leans against her stoop sunbathing. There’s new heat and panting dogs parade. They seem well adjusted. Retrievers don’t fear birds or snarling cars. Now a twig-like woman carries bags up a typical California sidewalk. The further in the distance the more murky the sky and trees become. They drip down an invisible canvas of day. A few worker automobiles sit like carriages.

The sound of modern society is more buzz than chug. Modest buildings sit squat in the middle of old hills with tacked on blueprints. Homes are only worth a few words. Their coffee-colored gravel mixture topped by Spanish clay or short wood planks freeze. In the Dakotas the homes could be ski slopes.

The workers and their families romp simultaneously. Nautical dresses desperately seek the ocean. You can spot striped tights peeking out in backyard corridors as grandma holds the arms and grandpa gathers firewood. Despite long workdays trees and bushes and sunflowers sprout exotically. A rustic Spanish essence once removed from ancient Italian farming villages lingers.

Each sweaty laborer fills a crevice of time. A rare moment finds a backyard canopy filled with spectrum colors. Light bounces supernaturally off petals. The time in autumn is just right for shadow and light colliding.

Stillness is temporary in Albany. If you travel high in the hills the sky gets infinite. The world below is like a salad mixture peppered with trees and tiny train buildings and lumps of earth baked in gold chunks. The great red oaks with their heads sticking out are like a meal to the world about to snap its jaws.

The deep forest locks away the coastline.

A U.S mailbox glistens perched on a white picket fence. Below there’s a path leading to a modest home. It’s tiny but guarded precisely by brick steps misanthropically hidden. You’d have to make a point venturing down to see it.

A swoosh of rambunctious youngsters hop along. The girls look like strange pets. Bike spokes with playing cards snap along. In child games the rest of the world stops. Locomotives lurching, sunbathing, arms lifting, lighting pipes, lifting crates, moving crates to and fro, gold diggers beyond hills, collisions of light and color continue as youngsters bounce and bob. There’s no compulsion in childish mischief. Tiny hearts accept the shrill screams and arms flailing.

-T. Peck

 

 

Justin Bieber Rolls off The Grill

Bieber was sitting on another beach in a wide open space that seemed to be removed from the world yet caught up in snapshots and confetti.

He kept glancing at the suntan lotion dripping out of the bottle his lady was holding: his agent who he spooned with.

His faith was screaming.

He even pretended to enjoy the breeze on the beach.  The shades locked away the secrets.

He responded quickly to a text from a personal trainer.  He thought of the burn in his deltoids.

“Yo baby what if a great white shark washed up on the shore?  It looks different unguarded.  Its natural predatory lifestyle gets taken away.”

His girlfriend looks at her turquoise nail polish and takes a sip of blended juice.

Bieber texts a friend asking if people are born to be natural predators.

A bird flies overhead and becomes a line in the sky.  Bieber thinks it’s like a song lyric.

The friend texts back saying there are no predators among us.  There’s a parasitic spirit in this world that distorts the people we’re created to be.

Fingers fly and texts get exchanged like a ping-pong match.  Blue bubbles and grey bubbles hurdle over each other.

Bieber feeds off a spiritual high that ends up with him saying he’s parched and starved and could use a bite.

The lavish breakfast at the hotel couldn’t fill his empty heart.

Mom’s been calling and conversations are brief spouts of texts or nothing at all.

Bieber used to love mom’s peanut butter sandwiches on white bread.

He assigns “Big Zane” to ask the hotel staff to make a peanut butter sandwich to take to the beach.

It arrives wrapped in cellophane beneath a sterling silver lid.

Bieber has his lady unwrap the sandwich while he takes a sip of pomegranate seltzer water.

It could be argued he didn’t have his own unique vision.  He was simply chosen to pass the torch of pop stardom.

The only bit of real was the memory of peanut butter sandwiches.

He takes a bite and his teeth penetrate the creamy center.  He doesn’t expect to chomp a whole peanut.  He hasn’t eaten peanut butter since age six.

His throat swells up and he accidentally inhales the sandwich and starts choking.  He passes out in the sand.

Ten minutes go by before anyone notices he’s not breathing.

He’s lying on the beach like a tanned hotdog that rolled off the grill.

-T. Peck

Richie Havens Returns

You could see sprinkles of light like powdered sugar in the trees as the sky turned twilight. To a hazy group of partiers it was more silver. Then it turned electric blue. The hills and their trees were black coal lumps. A couple of fingers motioned for booze in the blur of chitter chatter and grumbles.
The pack leader was a duck of a kid wearing a tank top. He held a spit and released sparks vertically in the sky. He howled with mirror shades in the dark.
A cooler full of ice was a pool. There were floating cans.
The impish heads of the Baearsville kids illuminated brighter than coals. They had sun baked faces. Pieces of uncooked shrimp and chicken got picked at. A wild spider insect bit a surface of flesh. The swat of a hand went down quickly smearing blood.
The duck host had a Spiderman Band-Aid handy. To a stranger he was all show. His hairline looked middle-aged. He was a recovering alcoholic.
A chunky hand reached for one last floating can in the cooler. The duck kid retreated for the woods to take a piss. A few chicks were dancing idiotically clawing with their hands like digging in soil. Their violence seemed desperate. They couldn’t give out their hearts and went after quick thrills. They complained over marijuana smoke.
The duck kid’s brother sat like a toad on a log. He recently raped a girl and had his heart broken. There were no fingers to point since Jack Daniels called the shots. He had passed out and fallen on his girlfriend’s face like a sack of potatoes. She socked him in the morning.
The kid sat sulking and eating burger after burger. He had a bandaged eye. He sat in stillness waiting for a spirit to lift his soul. His brother duck was off somewhere regurgitating. The girls were caught up in their conversation about fashion and home repairs. They were danced out. A beer can got sipped.
The big kid walked near the open grill. An engine sounded loudly. The duck kid rode his caterpillar lawnmower.
Duck was the greens keeper for Bethel New York’s historical Woodstock site. He was howling and carrying on like a pirate. It was legal to ride a grasseater inebriated.
The big kid was wearing a ketchup stained basketball t-shirt. He chuckled from his brother’s cackling fuss. His headspace soared across planets and galaxies. He was thick as a helium balloon.
“What you need in this situation is a garbage fire from an old eighties action flick.”
The kid imagined his testicles burning. He’d be the right man to jump over flaming garbage.
The desperate and deflated heart created a mad genius.
The kid gathered the base of the grill. He heaved it spilling all the contents. The grass got littered with coals and some extra meat.
The duck kid had a few tiki lamps stashed in his backpack along with pots and pans. There were marshmallow peeps and graham crackers. In a hazy state duck’s brother picked up a pot and struck his forehead. He repeated several times. The pain felt justified. He opened up a clot glowing red as a lobster. A single streak of blood trailed his nose. His purple eye and dim light created a monster. He stood motionless in the dark looking like a stalker. The girls were smoking the remaining weed flowers and complaining. They wanted something touching their lips. If you got high enough anything was possible. There was a wine fountain spouting bubbly far in the distance.
“I hear you ladies getting’ it on.”
The duck kid was howling a short distance away on his lawnmower. There were slapping thighs. The girls hollered back slapping. The most intelligent strategy for them was staying close to the light. Without light the world simply floated.
There wasn’t a particular reason for impish kids to gather. What did they have to hide out from? They couldn’t answer this question themselves. They were like simple dots on a transcript—loud nameless forms.
They were too old to be snippy with parents. Their gathering lasted three days. Two coolers sat empty.
The black-eyed bloody kid drew three tiki lamps and shot up the juice with a lighter’s blast. One of his curly blonde locks caught a spark and lit up. It turned to ash. The kid smelled his hair. It was like a piece of bacon charred and sizzled.
There was another sip of beer.
The kid fumbled to stand the tikis on coolers. They were turned over like turtle shells. He managed eventually. He stumbled a few times and did a barrel roll. One of the girls shouted.
“Ok this time it’s gonna work.”
Basketball kid was standing muddied and bloody. Now the tikis were lit. He raised his thick arms. They had golden hair like straw and they were sweaty. The kid started saying his mumbo jumbo suburban chant.
“Let me be Segal.” “Whack!”
The big kid stuck his right hand through flames with his fingers cupped. He felt no pain so he stuck his left arm in a flame for ten seconds. There was pressure around the wrist like someone was grabbing. He pulled his arm back with a wild expression like African bush.
“Did you guys see that?”
He was confused.
The prettier of the two girls with curly locks in a bun shot up.
“All I can see is the moon.”
She pointed to his enormous blousy basketball t-shirt. The kid could show those girls a moon if he let his basketball shorts drop. In the distance the duck leader had a third piss. The caterpillar lawnmower hummed waiting for his ass and hands.
“Aha, I’m a man of the range.”
Bears were common to upstate New York.
It would be pleasant if a bear should catch the duck kid.
He had a framed portrait of himself standing next to his first bear kill. The bear’s claws were extra long and clinging to the ground. The snout was moist with a bit of blood. Duck kid was wearing hunting gear and standing next to dad. His foot was on top of the bear. The poor creature was like a teddy in a fable.
The duck kid had a red ring around his forehead that was left over from a Yankee hat.
The girls were asleep under the tarp. They had cans of Budweiser like teddy bears between their legs. The pretty one’s hair was loose and it flowed gracefully. She was indeed beautiful: a fragile lost specimen. She could be sympathetic. The other girl had her knees pressed over a college fleece. She had a short blonde cut and a little nose stud. Her fantasy date was Sasquatch.
The tiki lamps were framed golden like a distant headlight. The flames were like hat hair.
The big kid in basketball attire was a ragamuffin. His shorts got tighter as he ate burgers. He had a nonsense team plastered on his t-shirt that read, Grated Grizzlies. He wasn’t a hunter like his duck brother.
The quacking bigmouth was walking back to camp. He had left the caterpillar with the engine running so you could hear the purring. He had his bandana covering his burnt brow. He paused and pissed once again in the open. A patch of wet collected by his crotch. The caterpillar’s engine continued purring. The girls lay wasted. Cold meats lay waiting. Insects created fantastic rhythms. The combination of engine humming and insects was creepy.
Duck kid clutched his shark tooth necklace. The serrated teeth dug in his fingers. His brother looked like a great goon in black before a shimmer.
Nature narrated the scene in the lyrics to Hotel California minus desert.
The wilderness was wet bark and grass. It had a fragrance. It was wet smelling with water mixed with uncertain jungle.
The big kid didn’t move a muscle. Something had his arm locked in position. The arm was beat red and charred and flaming. Duck kid knew the flames could burn to the bone.
One of the girls spoke, “Did anyone bring wine and cheese?”
The gorgeous redhead fell back in her sleeping posture.
You couldn’t see through tremendous flames but the figure of a man was standing on the coolers covered in flames. The flames settled little by little turning blue then green. The figure was an African American male with quivering lips. He still held the boy’s arm.
The kid in bandages tumbled back in total shock. His arm was still in flames.
Now duck boy removed his shades. He scratched his chest hair. He considered himself a music nerd and he recognized the man instantly as Richie Havens.
Richie had his eyes closed and he was unaware of the duck kid. He was outfitted in flairs from 1974. Duck kid recognized the outfit from old concert footage.
Duck kid was extremely high and he decided to talk. Richie groovily danced on coolers behind tiki lamps. He seemed natural like performing a gig. He went through the head bobs like any show. His eyes were closed.
The basketball kid’s arm continued glowing like a red coal. He looked like a dead war hero. He was stained in blood and ketchup.
The girls were too wasted to know what was happening. Richie kept on grooving hippy dippy. He sang out and the hills in Bethel buzzed Woodstock’s energy.
“I believe we have a baby,” he sang.
Richie’s voice was amplified without a microphone.
Duck kid, high and wise, thought a hobo stumbled on the field pretending to be Richie. He was always looking for celebrity look-alikes.
“Richie…dude…are you the real Richie?”
Richie looked at duck with old soul’s eyes. The grass cutter engine and insect conbination sounded like applause in the distance. The soul of Woodstock was stirring. The duck kid thought he heard the creak of an amp. Being high he needed to satisfy his belly.
“You want some grass?”
Richie preferred natural grass. He was playing air guitar like he could feel a song coming on. He was Richie Havens all right and he was disengaged. The duck kid ate a plate of cold chicken.
“I thought you could use good eating.”
Richie sang clear as a bell with a jolly voice. He paused and swung off the coolers and stood before the duck. He admired the humble camp. He was deeply spiritual and sensed pure innocence. He put his hands behind his back and stuck out his chest. He took deep breaths.
“I knew anything I pursued would be risky.”
Richie spoke like a lion.
The duck kid chewed his cold undercooked chicken.
Richie knew the truth.
The entire grassy plot was buzzing and twinkling under a starry night. It had the essence of childhood joy.
Richie contemplated childbirth as the most miraculous human event. He could tell you about the creatures in the wilderness. He saw animals equally intelligent to humans.
The duck kid continued chewing his chicken and he contemplated the miraculous man rising from flames. He got a little wiser. Some entities, he thought, should go unexplained.
Richie walked near the overturned grill and the sleeping girls and the lifeless bandaged giant with the smoking arm. He was as much Richie Havens as there ever could be.
Chicken was getting chewed greedily. The duck kid had eyes half high and half wise.
Richie glanced at the kids like a routine inspection. He sat on a heap of grass and looked at the stars.

-T. Peck

Yo Richie

Yo Richie
If I was gonna off myself
I’d let you do it
With a crack of your guitar
to my skull
Or a sweet melody.
I’d let you strum my ears
Until they bled.

Now you’re back
Risen from a makeshift
Hobo tiki lamp fire
With your crazy Egyptian
Ring bracelet.

Damn you’re spiritual!

The ashes dance
In your elastic fingers.

-T. Peck