A story finished…




And the water took steps. Nestled in the Shawnee Forest east of Ozark on roads paved then unpaved garrulous and muddy after the rains the long winter steep in a valley on a winding incline the way out washed out in places water on rock Mason stood his back to the edge of a cliff overlooking Burden Falls. It was a Sunday and he had turned to stone.

ah but change is the moment’s thorn she says you make a choice based on today even when you know that may not be how you see it tomorrow do you really want to be passion’s fool?

But I cannot be moved I have seen how it will always be

the sun then behind him I remember didactive in its limits for I only saw in visible light and he said

we all gotta fall, V

And then the girl’s face and in the eyes are tears he would not remember because he was dead. The choice gone like a smell and she is telling someone she is telling them his story and they say…

silence is golden you see it in her face in his face a story there no words and you can start anywhere it just ends where you leave off where you say I’m going now I’ll return to you later that last word fixed yet as impermeable as the memory it is linked to and all it takes is that last word to lead you somewhere and suddenly you are in its world and all its words before it and you your mind are there you are wherever the words are

can’t you see he says where I stand others have stood and either I am or it was and I don’t know I just don’t know to which or for which it abides forever–the earth or my mind

the earth or my mind

And so she looks around her mind on the earth V does for here she’s with Mason and it is a Sunday and he ain’t dead yet for it would take three days for her to tell someone for her to tell her father tell him the story and how it is told how it begins how it ends and she looks with her mind to the earth for in this way she knows how to tell it and she sees:

the narrow of my focus for if I look small I see small and if I look big I see big but both I limit as to how small how big and

Three hundred million years ago this used to be beachfront property. Where Mason stood could well have been not a cliff but merely a rock in the sand on the shoreline of a shallow sea teeming with life. Then the water was gone the exposed soil sustaining plants and then trees and then the forested land it now was and for more than ten thousand years people had lived there.

yes this I know he says and if you look to the ground even to the moss on this rock you will see a story going on for even a dew drop tells of centuries in what it was and what it will be

and so lead us to those first words

IN THE BRUSH ALONG THE SHORELINE THE WATER WAS CLEAR. I could see many colors. Of course I was stoned and I was following him. I followed his outline my steps not necessarily his steps because I was not conscious I was walking. I looked down to my feet as one foot took a step ahead of the other and I was aware of movement I was aware I was moving with the water but its current was slower than mine.

And as sometimes happens when you’re walking in the woods and you hear water the sun through the trees fragmented in your eyes I was there and many places and this place where I was with him where I was with Mason was in many places at once as well carried by the souls who had been there and for a moment when you’re willing to think about it and not put it off its sense of urgency a low priority you realize you are connected to the dead and in their help and hindrance the fragile meaning of our lives plays out and it is like making love and then falling into a fitful sleep only to awake with your lover sleeping next to you yet you still wonder if it was a dream.   What you believe and don’t believe becomes a pursuance ended and even if you believe in yourself you can’t say with any sheer degree of confidence vanity is your favorite sin. I read somewhere once for a test in school that memories in our brains are activated by enzymes. Like a lock and key once introduced they can be altered to create or destroy and I remember thinking (this also under the influence of enzymes) who I am my identity is a matter of proteins. Neurotransmitters firing. Then I thought am I thinking small or big and can one can you really think on yourself without changing the outcome without changing the limits and then as it happens particularly when you’re stoned and out in the woods just walking I forgot what I was thinking about and it was only later as I set down to write this to tell this story to my mind tell it to my father that I remembered I was thinking about myself and is it strange really that he died that day. Is it strange that the dead have no stories other than what the living tell?

for it takes but little desire to satisfy

it’s the thresholds build tolerance…

and my pain

and I know I know it starts as a seed we all have the seeds of it in us but he didn’t have to die my father didn’t have to die with so little love for themselves to die young younger than is needed as we grow older with our blank emotions and they tell us the living they have the story to tell and

they save you they save me from our history

and what do I say? he says

you? You always talked about Grace but that’s not what I see

what do you see?

my world and who I share it with my ears never burning and somehow it all works though none of us know each other

BUT I LIE IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT THE GRASS IS DEAD. Bermuda doesn’t take to harsh winters. I hold the club like an extension of my arms my hands my fingers interlocked and right—the grip right. It’s almost as if I can feel the ball as the iron face touches it nudges it along further along its dimples the brand the logo showing face up reading it to me as it balances on a tuft of turf as yet not browned and blown away leaving the surface of the dirt in the dying fairway…

And I can hear my father say to me

beware when it makes no sense reason is a behavior like anything else and you behave only when there’s consequences to broken rules… you needed them. You needed rules as a child and so I gave them to you…

no I thought little of people not to admit I thought little of myself I didn’t think much of George thought he was weird and I didn’t like how he treated that cat Mason could have had better friends he just never felt good enough for his peers he never really was a friend to George anyway really just listened to him play once in a while didn’t even go see him when he was in the hospital after he broke his leg but that’s just what Mason told me never met George I just lived in his house for a while and that’s what’s weird about it hearing Mason tell me about him and maybe if my Mom hadn’t known Mason’s dad maybe she wouldn’t have heard about the house being for sale and that writer husband of hers wouldn’t have committed to a mortgage foreclosed on less than three years later I wouldn’t know about that cat and those bones there

bones? what bones?

the story. Haven’t you heard that story? No you fell and he fell except you fell from iron and he fell from stone but when you died I did not write I did not look for the truth she had already divorced you and now I write to you dead but I waited three days to write this to bury him

I SEE THE RED FLAG WAVING ON AN UPHILL SHOT. These words in my mind but what you see is refined distilled and where I put you I see in impressions which descriptions as to how are my eyes and what do my eyes see polarities of light against a naked lens. But you see a golf course a July afternoon sun the fairway grass dead and a walk uphill dogleg right around the pines

and Mason says

do you wanna do right? Got to be outside can’t be in to do that so you can tell me all kinds of things and they’re true they’re really true because you believe it and I’ve always admired that your conviction because it’s all real to you it’s how you keep it real but I can’t I can’t just believe it. I can’t believe it because I’m outside. I’m outside where you are now here with you

ah he just needs to grow up but why why Daddy? because the truth is not there only the outside of your lies for I tell you truly to fulfill the law we must carry each other’s burdens and that’s why you see advice has no weight and sentence upon sentence wise words being quoted that’s your tongue and the un-withheld tongue follows the heart and out of the heart comes every deceitful thing and so… but why? Father why is this so? you say it in time and who are you to stop it? how the gentle become tough the innocent jaded you go back to look who you are but as soon as you say I you’re no longer looking back and you step into the mystery… you can’t stop your heart beating. Last words…

he took the high road because the lower trail was overgrown with yellow wildflowers. The first fall isn’t that scary. But the second one gave him a sense of vertigo.

do you remember?

How can I forget? You held the flag the red flag and it must have been fifty feet—at least… I’ve never had a hole in one. It was my only eagle and you were there you were there to see it. A perfect drive on a par five. Then a three wood. It faded over the pines and rolled just to the fringe just to the front of the green. I was putting for a three and you held the flag for me—it was an uphill putt just like the whole hole was uphill—and I remember I read a right to left and the ball just rolled with enough momentum to fall in the side of the cup you just standing there holding the flag cheering it on…

and he says my father says it for the story

maybe the Greeks had it right. With their unknown God. I don’t know if it started with Socrates but maybe it did the assertion that ignorance is evil the cause of evil for if people know what is good and right they will necessarily do it. I mean because when you think about it if you’re given the right information if you’ve experienced it the consequences what happens to you the things in your life that you know and love when you do bad things—why that’s how we call things bad—because it hurts. It hurts someone. It hurts you. Then you see the good you’re told it the good news you see the effects of it when you play out the role how the happiness in it can be long-lasting… and what do you do? For if you know it if you know good and evil what do you choose? Do you take a moment to reflect do you say to yourself before a word or deed I can see what’s going to happen I know that all-consuming desire that empty pit inside when you feed on those raw basic emotions what makes you just mean and the emptiness the isolation that comes from it all stemming I guess from the rationalization the victimization of yourself where you say: I did it because you don’t love me… and no that’s not all because before that word or deed you take that first step into the mystery where you imagine what happens next based on what you remember from before—the peace you don’t understand, the companionship—where in truth when you know what the right thing is to do and you do it none of your stuff matters you don’t have to question your identity who you are… Yes you play it all out in your mind. So maybe the Greeks had it right. It’s ignorance causes evil. That is if you think ahead and you’ve been burned believing it’s all just a test to see if you can be controlled

and I’m praying not the folded hands kind eyes closed a speech summoned where you choose your words carefully because there ain’t no now to pray for later or ask why about what happened in the past time just is you see my father taught me that not while he was alive but after he was dead that strange connection closeness to someone you loved dead you didn’t have with them living for if the bond was strong while alive it is even stronger after the person dies and I talk to him not prayer and he talks to me not words really nothing spoken just those gentle nudges sometimes a clarity and even if ain’t something spiritual something explained by simple psychological mechanisms I still like attributing it to him because then when the wind blows I can smile even when I cry and say: Thanks Dad

but yeah he taught me that just how he taught me how to play golf how time just is indifferent to the variants the labels we give for time does not pass we pass we give it a past imagine a future but really all this is for a reality we can understand even when we get mad confused depressed about why bad things happen to good people something our reality can’t explain unless we animate time and theorize that maybe hey the interference here we can’t explain is just from other worlds infinite splitting and dividing and you me this fetus where fate means nothing because in another reality it’s justified even if you don’t understand it…

THEN THE HEAT CAME THE HOT SUMMER EVEN AS THE FALL WAS APPROACHING. That was when you were alive and held the flag but now he is dead and after three days I want the stories to be different—I see nothing wrong with that—any true story must contradict… because when did you know? For in the past God overlooked such ignorance but I no longer hear it I hear not the word Repent and the sheep say Behold we’re sent out amongst them! and the wolves say Why you’re nothing but sheep!

the awakening

he told beautiful stories my father did he told me a beautiful story and he said: Look

twas curiosity killed the cat. You can’t really call that temptation—what you don’t know what you haven’t done—you can’t be tempted with that. That’s like tempting a boy a child with a naked woman. No you have to remember to be tempted. You have to remember what it was like…

but it was a beautiful story because some kill for it some die for it and life death don’t matter none we all made it we all made the choice we say I see the earth and the sun and the moon and the stars the things I must do during the day these things that must be done at night how I must answer to my ancestors those ones buried in Goreville out in Friendship cemetery how maybe something my great-great grandfather did (he was a blacksmith I hear and maybe he shod a horse wrong one day still exacting payment and that horse’s owner why maybe he fell off that horse hurt his back and never walked right again and maybe he was mean after that mean to his dog and he taught his children to be mean to dogs and maybe one of them poor mistreated dogs why he run out in front of my great-grandfather’s car when he used to deliver newspapers at night the dog not hurt none but the car wrecked and none too soon because I heard he liked cars drove the heck out of them always looking for an excuse to get a new one so he buys a new car after the wreck only he don’t have enough money so he makes a withdraw from my great-grandma’s bank account funds she’s been saving from working as a seamstress in a sweat shop and of course when she finds out he stole her money to buy a new car she never forgives him and if she could have divorced him then she would have but that was sixty some odd years ago and women didn’t do that much then and your momma had just be born but by the time you’re old enough to go to Disneyworld you remember visiting your grandfather in a trailer park outside of Tampa for that’s where he ended up after your grandma finally divorced him fed up over the finances and he had a pet badger you remember that his hands all cut up clawed and bit because who has a pet badger? Everybody knows badgers are mean… Anyway all this to say:) it affects you and you can believe it or not you can believe the sins of the father (even a badly shod horse) pay it forward and this is the fear of all fathers (your fear) in the unforeseen fate of their children and so what

so what do you know?

well I guess you shouldn’t be mean to dogs he says cats neither… you probably shouldn’t be mean to cats…

and I say to Mason:

you sonofabitch sometimes I think you put me in bitch mode just so you can complain I’m being a bitch sometimes I think you don’t know what I’m feeling at all and if I write this if I tell you everyone what I’m feeling even if I did this every day moment to moment there would have to be limit I mean wouldn’t there because someday your friends will see it and my friends will see it (because I write this to speak of it) and even if it goes viral there has to be a limit for how much? How much can you love? How much can you hate? You chase after a passion and spend the hours to master it and then what? You stay high in an excited state all the time it sorta takes the treat out of being high… and that’s it you see this is not me this is not me narrating. I’m not there nor am I here. But I am. I do not observe myself. Nor does the environment observe me. It is only when you look that I am there and that is because you looked… I don’t know when I died. Maybe it was when you died. For if the memories die doesn’t a piece of you along with it? And so what makes the world what makes sense to me is counterintuitive. The world says give and one day you will be empty. But I give and I am fuller than before I gave. And since Time does not pass it is only we ourselves which do I see not cause and then effect (even though I swear you make me a bitch sometimes) for they can be happening both at once. The effect can even be before the cause. And I see this when there is no I. The death of the soul is only the death of memories. You showed me that. In what you did before you did that. For I came to you with my world. But you only saw yours.

THEN I SAY BECAUSE YOU EXPECT ME TO SAY you read this just what I wrote but it was not written until you read it thus defining it as written for the words don’t exist unless you share them if I speak and you listen and I know you listened but it still means nothing until the words themselves say I exist and where you are I am the world I created for you so you can show someone else and say: See… but it was west and not east we did not travel east because of where we were in relation to it and damn if you can’t see it as they say you can see it lit at night without cloud or fog base—7000 square miles—the cross. The cross at Bald Knob

and you not Mason you fell the probabilities there a curve that doesn’t collapse it was probable that you’d fall an ironworker working at heights that that damn writer husband of hers would fear step away from and so I know in one world she divorced you and you fell and in another she didn’t and you fell and in one she didn’t and you didn’t and it is that world that world I believe in it’s what I’m interacting with now and because I use these words to create it and these are basic and I don’t know I just don’t know if my world is the one you read or have I taken it taken things from your world and I only hear what I’ve taken what I’ve stolen and when I give it back just as I’m doing now something changes I mean it’s got to maybe an angle is off a momentum a spin and I just don’t know if it’s because you looked or I caught you looking but it’s never the same never normal again until I don’t speak I just shut up and speak only when spoken to and then well then that’s the ground

and I know I know what you’re talking about and

I can see how you’d get all turned around those roads out there don’t follow a normal north to south east to west because it ain’t flat two dimensional because space is a wave a wave function just like light but I then I cease to be one and become another and how is that? How am I one and then the other? Why is light just not light? But don’t ask for directions. Just like everything else all it takes is one. One bad teacher. And I say to myself: I feel this but I know from what you’re saying how you feel I can imagine what you kept back that unconscious observation which takes a measurement nonetheless and that alters me what I imagine you observe and so I’m observing you observing me and when? When does this decoherence this reduction of possibilities end into this single possibility you see (you read) thus showing the limit the boundary that justifies the framework the intuition that what you just read is

an approximation… that’s all it is

but there are no limits to your lostness. you can say you’ve done anything enough fightin’ fuckin’ drinkin’ til you’re ready to puke on heaven’s door but just like that cross funded by the selling of pigs a cross that can be seen for miles and that little grand canyon not far from it you die it dies we all die so all you can do is live. just live. and just like that sign that tombstone I saw out there (you were alive then) this is what it’s gonna say what it says what it has to say to anybody gone looking: The last bastard who asked directions…

SHE ADJUSTS THE POSITION OF THE WEBCAM. We were out looking for a place to play golf that day she says but the day you fell the rains had come and we wanted to see we wanted to see it—see if the water was flowing. It had been nearly a year. A year since Mason met him again met George at the Liberty Fest the Little Chapel get-together up in Saline County and by then we had seen it all. Can’t say every back road but from the spillway along the Mississippi River Bottom to Trail of Tears Little Grassy and Devil’s Kitchen to all of Shawnee Forest Dixon Springs and the Chocolate Factory Golconda and Cave in Rock with Kentucky on the other shore of the Ohio and then all the way up again winding north through Pounds Hollow and Rim Rock the Garden of the Gods—we liked driving you liked driving and smoking weed—and I lived in the house for almost two years George’s house then we moved away and I came back to southern Illinois and we had already graduated when we met then my Mom came back after she divorced him (she divorced you only to divorce him) and then he came back and got that job at the VA but by then George had already been put on midnights out of the way of people and it was at Stone Face—you took me on a date to see Stone Face—that’s when you told me you were dealing.

She looks small on the screen but that’s just because the screen is small. Most millennials do it now—selfies. She looks like her mother. In the eyes. In her language of English and body. But the face is his. She just woke up. You can tell by the shine the scrubbed features the hair back in a ponytail a tank-top pajama. And you realize this all has been her. Talking to a camera above a computer screen. Who knows how many installments. All posted on YouTube. Like a video diary

no you can’t change it

and she says The past is within us it’s ours we own it to use as we wish and that is what we pass on but what has been always has been and always will be to those who look back that’s not what you’re creating there are no time paradoxes you can’t change that which can’t even have the attribute of change and this idea of if I do this or if I hadn’t done that why that’s vanity one person can’t change the world it’s just that others look at them and are altered and if enough people look it already happened it fits the classical definitions of change but you always do what you were supposed to do even if you say I ain’t doing it and really if you want to be remembered not this silly I won’t watch anymore because I don’t like how you ended it it’s not perfections by far no if you want to be held up as something sacred best be dead a long time but to those who really remember you knew who you are it’s the flaws really the things you can laugh at the key to true love for yes that’s the only thing—death is for certain—and what else can you do of things you can’t change but make a joke of it?

anyway he was weird George was I can see why they put him on nights when I saw him for the first time it looked like he was always sweating and that peach fuzz mustache moist face and body chubby but not that hard lard of older men still the chub of baby fat his janitorial uniform pants held up by tight belt but the shirt never quite tucked in right always a white hand towel hanging out the back pocket and when I saw him his wrist bandaged lifting a heavy biohazard bin he said he just sort of butted in to our conversation and started talking about himself all I wanted to know was how he was getting it how he was supplying Mason and that’s when he gave me his link his YouTube link on how to get on Silk Road


That’s what it looked like. If you’re on the clearnet. The web we’re all used to. Aided by our Google Now and Siri and Cortana. I had never heard of it. The darknet. TOR. The onion router. That’s how you find sites like Silk Road. George had never heard of it either until it was seized last year in a bitcoin hack. I guess he found a way to replace that spice habit I heard about that led me to live in his house. And it had a new URL . With this message: We Rise Again


You are Silk Road

Though our enemies may seize our servers, impound our coins, and arrest our friends, they cannot stop you: our people.

You are writing history with every item purchased here.

It is unprecedented for any entity, darknet or clearnet, to completely repay the victims of a Bitcoin hack.

We are sending a clear message of integrity and justice, louder than the slander our oppressors can push into the news. History will prove that we are not criminals, we are revolutionaries.

We do not steal the People’s money like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley.  We bail each other out with our own sweat.  We are not puppets of fear or greed.  We do not run like the cowards at MtGox, TorMarket, or Sheep.

Silk Road is not here to scam, we are here to end economic oppression.  Silk Road is not here to promote violence, we are here to end the unjust War on Drugs.  Silk Road is not here to submit to authority, we are here to defend a foundational human right: freedom of choice.

Silk Road is not a marketplace,  Silk Road is a global revolt.

The idea of freedom is immortal.


You’d be surprised what goes through the mail. Thousands of contraband packages a day. There’s really no way to monitor it—maybe internationally with customs—but within the states (with vacuum sealing MBB and various imaginative methods of stealth) mailing a package of illegal drugs is quite easy—for the vendor and the buyer. Plausible deniability. Anybody can mail you anything in the mail. You can simply say you didn’t know what it was. (He did that. Her writer husband. He’d write about anything and call it research fiction whatever and then play dumb and if confronted would say Do you really think I’d do that and write about it? and then he was either stupid or it was an alibi with the excuse of Art and even as a teenager I wondered why he’d get mad when provoked when people gave him shit about his writing because I knew I gave him shit just because I liked how it made him mad and flustered and yes you are what you respond to but then you got to respond to something or what are you and he may have been delusional thinking people should pay to listen to what he had to say and by God they didn’t own him for it either but I’d hear him self-soothe I’d hear him say Fuck you your great-grandchildren will be reading me…) Anyway unless you confess that you know what’s in a package it’s very hard to prove guilt. Even with the evidence of the contraband itself. They have to prove you purchased it.

On the darknet they use a digital currency a crypto currency called bitcoin. There are various ways to acquire bitcoin. Some legitimate and some not. It takes the money out of the banks and outside of regulations and fees putting it back in the hands of the people. Or at least your bitcoin wallet. In many ways it’s the currency of the future. Even some of your bills can be paid for in bitcoin now. Typically one bitcoin is worth about five hundred bucks. But the price fluctuates. Once you know how to get bitcoin (and make it as anonymous as you want) the how to to get on the darknet and Silk Road is easy enough. Besides George’s YouTube guide there are countless articles that will take you through it step by step. Funny how you use the clearnet to get on the darknet. But then which one is really clear and which one is dark? No censorship no search engines cached with all your likes. The news not the spoon fed media of corporate sponsors but more of an Orwellian underbelly of paranoia conspiracy and god knows what else you want to get on the net and say while staying anonymous. And sure there are sites sickening and fearful like child porn and snuff films and contract killers for hire (you can hire a hit in the U.S. for $10000) but Silk Road wasn’t about that. At least according to George and others. It was about freedom.

Installing the TOR browser is relatively simple. Then you need an encryption app—also easy to find and use. With that and the Silk Road URL you’re ready to become a member. Much like an Amazon marketplace you shop add items to your cart and browse vendor feedback. To fund your purchases you simply transfer your bitcoins to one of several bitcoin addresses they provide (using a bitcoin mixer if you want). Then to place an order you send the vendor an encrypted message with your name and address which they immediately delete after they ship. Then when your package arrives you provide feedback just like in any other marketplace. Most problems can be worked out between vendor and buyer with refunds and reshipments but if a problem can’t be resolved the Silk Road staff can block vendors known to scam. And so business runs smoothly all of it anonymous and very hard to track. The time money and effort it would take to hack a bitcoin address to trace it back to the bank and identity of the buyer using blockchain analysis ain’t worth the small buys of guys like George. When Silk Road went down it took the government over three weeks to brute force break into the Dread Pirate Roberts wallet address and seize his coins.

And I don’t know why we do it. Why we don’t submit to authority. Even a bad government an evil government provides order. And without it there’s anarchy. But I guess all of us thinks it. All of us thinks we can do it better than the other guy. To rise means the existence of someone to see you fall really a balance a tension at all times between contradictory forces a completion and yes power corrupts but we always put someone in charge either by vote by birth or by the man with a gun and you’d be amazed what people will do if you give them a reason to do it a cause a belief and in some generations it is money and others it is religion but also in each of our individual lives this repeating the balance the tension to say I will do anything for this because I believe it even if it betrays love in this the deep waters of civil disobedience for when do you say I believe this even if you say it’s wrong in fact I think you’re wrong in denying me my belief this how we walk in the light of conscience and judgment the discernment of spirit and behind the veils of What is Truth? behind the symbol the Word humanity follows its common trait forgetfulness not in what we’ve done but in what has been done for us…

ah yes fine words he says but it was about paper

I mean sure you could get heroin a gram of pure uncut Bolivian cocaine for eighty bucks a gram of Silver Pearl laced with DMT from the Netherlands but I knew Mason and I had my impressions what I’d heard about George and I knew they just dealt in weed. It’s not surprising why spice is running rampant in the military with new legal strains staying a step ahead of the DEA and drug screens and in George’s posts I guess he found his cause his reason to believe and even if in wise words it is good to render unto Caesar his darknet rants were all about why marijuana was made illegal and one of his chief reasons for the conspiracy: the government didn’t want our military smoking it. Not hard to see why. Marijuana was technically made illegal in 1937 by the Marijuana Tax Act but it was made illegal by many states before that starting back in 1906 some say due to racial issues (the Mexicans smoking it to relax after working in the fields). It was still cultivated during the war. Hemp was. And that was the real gist of it—the commercial value of hemp. Which grows tall and is low in THC. Hemp makes great paper. Not good for the lumber industry and nearing the Great Depression Hearst our prophet of yellow journalism with the aid of radical voices out to abolish all vices ran quite a campaign demonizing cannabis. Simply because he owned the mills making the wood pulp for his papers… anyway marijuana wasn’t really made a crime punishable with heavy sentences until Nixon the Vietnam War and it makes sense—you can’t have soldiers smoking pot. Maybe in a perfect world where everybody smoked weed we wouldn’t need laws against it. But it takes all kinds I guess. Being high’s not good for negotiations. Let alone defending oneself from an aggressor. Then there’s the whole submitting to authority thing. You don’t think much of superiors when you’re high. So when you thank a veteran it’s one of the reasons why. You thank them for their service because it provides the freedoms you have and just like states a hundred years ago made marijuana illegal for various reasons states are making it legal again not just because of the businessman behind the hippie but because well times keep on a changing. And it takes all kinds. So I can see why George being a veteran and working at the VA where my ex-stepdad worked could be inspired by things like Silk Road—he was trying to see the big picture a greater truth or as my father would say

he was young

AND IT WAS MORNING THE LIGHT THAT WAY. so I say why to hold it in mine but then it isn’t for I said to myself What is mine I need not share the meaning lost in translation anyway only the dream of the meaning left and once you give that away is anything in your control besides who hasn’t seen a sunrise sunset and said Ya or better yet nothing at all which is why I shouldn’t be frustrated by these words for the best response to beauty is silence the best peace solitude and I might have been on my period but damn if Mason didn’t know it’s the spaces in between a woman fills which let him be a man

ah you saw what you could see—that’s all

I looked sideways. Not to the right for we were above the trees now the fields below yellow rust far away.   It sloped upwards—this near pasture—for as the trail ran along the bluff there was a fence there. Just a split rail fence and beyond it I looked and it was mine what I saw and I saw beauty I saw what God intended the silliness of trying to figure out how it all began the pretension we could know how the laws work and thus not be subject to them I saw and was without excuse but somehow it all went wrong something slipped up in my thinking for there I was looking at the mist in the trees the wildflowers how the sun warmed it this pasture sloping up like it led to heaven just a wood rail fence to step over and I lost it by saying to myself I will make it mine and then let it go inspired then but saddened now because all it was all it became to me was in expression this futile endeavor God gave us all up to where we’re surrounded by beauty and since we want it rather than what created it it has all the meaningless dross of the inheritance from a dead father…

and then you remind me

it’s a story really. that’s all it is–the same psyche… the setting can change. the characters. but the same story plays out. like those movies you like to watch–be it sci-fi western action adventure or a romantic comedy–same story. whether it’s a tragedy or comedy is whether you’re free. it’s tragic to be free. fate has a funny way of working itself out. but either way it’s the same story–one girl one boy some grief some joy. and really we’re all a mess and even if the Bible ain’t real and the world won’t explode and we’re all just batteries for a machine or somebody else’s dream–whatever the setting whatever the character–same story. A fall a sacrifice and redemption… whatever the mind may be–that’s what it is. that’s the story we always come up with. it’s tragic if it ain’t whatever your god intended when you have to assume that role yourself and take responsibility for your choices. it’s a comedy when no matter how hard you try and all the silly dumb things you do contrary to what’s intended it still happens as it should… in many ways your dad is a comedian. i have a hard time believing i’m in control of my life

and when we got to the edge of the clearing you wanted to go on but I said let’s go back and I took your picture by it–standing on its head you almost don’t even see it–the stone face

but really if i could be anything maybe i’d be a buddhist. can’t be a jew because i’m not good with money. islam is too strict. don’t want to be a hindu cause i like cows. but buddhists, well–i like the whole existence is suffering thing caused by desire. the ego death. then i had children then i had you. the whole selfless act doesn’t work so well with teenagers. it just becomes take take take and it’s never enough. worse thing is they lose all respect for you. you don’t really have an identity to them. you’re just mom or dad–the person with the money. and really it’s the same with all America in this day and age. you gotta walk the line of helping the people that really need help or really just being walked all over. an easy mark. a coward really. a schmuck. at least to their minds that’s how they see it… maybe in old age–that’s when i’ll be a buddhist again. kinda fits the whole cycle of life thing anyway…

but that’s not the story

no it isn’t. it’s an error to confuse motive with action. to see them as separate things. that one causes the other. all is necessary. all is well.

I had seen the news article. It was only when George came to see me out on the golf course with that lid of Amnesia Haze from Amsterdam that I put two and two together. Of course by then you’d already told me you were dealing. You told me when we were up on Stone Face. don’t worry baby i won’t get caught it’s all safe you’ll see and i can take an oz George gets off of Silk Road and split it into dime bags and make a fortune. then you talked me into giving you a blowjob as you stood there on the bluff the pasture behind us but I didn’t mind you didn’t have to talk too hard because like I said I was on my period and I was horny…anyway when I saw her picture in the news-his girlfriend George’s–for shooting his pit bull I just knew there was gonna be trouble but at the same time I didn’t care really. I knew it probably stemmed from something he put on the darknet. some blog post Mason told me about–The Tale of Two Cats. i didn’t care because it was interesting. it’s the silly shit you remember anyway…

and do you really want to know?

maybe it’s a suicide’s special language. to know which tools but not know why. because all of us wanted to know and then at some point we didn’t and each time we come to it life begins–the knowledge of our death… but then you can’t really know then can you? you can’t really know the system being a part of the system. to really know one’s own mind you have to be out of it. funny then that the one thing we know for certain–that we all must die–is the one thing we don’t want to know

yes but he did

is there a difference? to fall by accident or to fall by choice. he wanted something. he wanted it to be authentic. some search the past for that. some hope for the future. he wanted it now. he wanted it to be authentic now.

your time is gonna come. when you know who you really are. but save it. save it for your sanctification. and as for glory–do you really want to spoil the fun?

and I can hear him say I can hear Mason say is that it is that your promise because you can polish a turd all you want but it’s still a piece of shit and that’s what our flesh is and if you think you’re gonna beat that into submission good luck that ain’t the hunger that ain’t the desire and when people say Repent what they’re really saying is Believe and that why that’s just a stimulation–of pleasure or of pain–and over time it fades not from wisdom but from sheer exhaustion and by god that’s the saddest thing when you can’t (maybe because you wouldn’t) you just can’t respond anymore not from fear but because there’s nothing there’s just nothing there

No, he didn’t wait. He went looking for his, and when you stare into the abyss it stares back. In fact I think it had nothing to do with it. Not the drugs. Not the law. Not even his mother (and we’ll get to that). I think he wanted to write it. Write his own story. And if you’ve ever done that you know. You know you can never have a happy ending. You can only have a happy death.

AND IT WAS LIKE THE GARDEN OF THE GODS WHEN IT SMELLED LIKE RAIN. the children it’s as if they don’t know the danger. There are no guard rails there. No fences. Yet I watched them I watched you so close to the edge on wet rock that edge the edge where once you go over only you know where it was and where when did the fear begin because I remember then you weren’t afraid of heights but maybe you thought about it you imagined your feet slipping your grip letting go and you felt what it was to be falling the stimulus of that to your body your mind and like shock you went back you went in to that smelling brain that knows only anger lust aggression fear and you forgot that you were more than that and you said it beats working at Wal-Mart nights but when George got busted after the cops got called on his girlfriend maybe you knew you still were a slave and that lie we’re told in school a lie even my father told about how fundamentally we’re all the same which sounds nice in an abstract form of thinking where you look at what does and what doesn’t belong but then you find out these are just confidence intervals of a projected curve a linear regression that looks fine on colored charts in PowerPoint presentations but if you just look at one man and one woman you know we aren’t fundamentally the same and even you said take the same situation and one person will know everything that happened who was involved who talked to who and feel no shame see it not as gossip but just a healthy curiosity of their environment a genuine concern for other people and judge people who mind their own business as stuck in their own little world locked in their own problems and who wants everybody in a sickening state of introspection anyway people don’t want to see what’s going on in your head on the outside that looks boring they want to see action and they want it to be real authentic—they want to be entertained—even if they know they’re being lied to

and so you said

take the trichomes on this here bud. That’s what gets you high. But see we smoke it all—don’t we? And that’s good too there’s other good stuff in there and that’s what we do when we read a story. We aren’t really looking for the trichomes that stuff that gets us high we want the whole experience the taste the smell the way a beautiful bud looks with all those red hairs and glittering crystals… In order for it to be emotionally satisfying we want the whole thing. The same with a story. They call it sugar-coating a pill. The pill is what we swallow. The sugar is what makes it go down… it’s amazing how callous we are about our heroes. What they do and what’s been done to them. And these sell-outs—that’s what I call them—can be quite smug saying all kinds of things about deeper hidden meanings and observant discussion on relevant topics like population control and the role of machines and technology in society but of course it helps to have a fast-paced plot where the dashing leading man has a love interest helping him save the world and, well—you get the formula… but the people who read these stories are no better. They really don’t want to be engaged. There’s nothing more fickle than a fan and my God it’s ridiculous how heated they can get over a simple story if they don’t like the way it ends. It’s like getting mad at your food in a restaurant where you don’t have to be polite to the chef. After all, you are a paying customer…

so what if you didn’t smell it?

The sky was overcast but the rain had stopped and I stood back as you stepped closer to the edge and it was like you weren’t even talking to me you had your back turned and you were facing out to the forest below the wooded land and you stopped at the sign that said What’s going on out there? and I could see your mind working thinking wondering What if I was out there? In this unspoiled Nature left untended by Man. And how many times do we let it go by a mistake something we know is wrong which will have to be fixed later and we even let the person walk away trusting us that we gave the right information when we know that we didn’t but by the time they know that it’s not like you will be held accountable and that’s sad and you know it and like the land left alone by Man it’s our ignorance that saves us… but that’s not the sign I read. I read here like at Giant City about the Devil’s rock the Devil’s stand table. Each time I read the science was the same. Time and pressure on sandstone from the shallow sea receded some three hundred million years ago much like our evolved smelling brains had left the top layers un-eroded while the bottom layers the foundation succumbed to erosion and while he wondered about ignorance and accountability I wondered about that.

then he said

it’ll all be different in a few years. Our taboos are changing…

and of course then I was walking behind you this at Burden Falls and I was mad because you were laughing at me:


you didn’t have to eat the whole gram…

what do you care? you said it only cost fifty bucks. wax is cheap

ya but that would have lasted a whole month the other way…

I was trying to make myself sick of it


it didn’t work




3:16 Every cat is a work of art. It wasn’t a French man who said that, but he did give us the verses. In that we see what isn’t there in the coding. 17 For who has asked of the wind where are your answers? In grace we breathe in and in praise we breathe out. 18 But let no man live his life by words written down. To do so is holy only in the context of the lonely past. All things are inspired by God. 19 To hear the wind we must first master our own voice. 20 To comprehend our own children we must kneel. But to talk to a cat one must be in a high place.

And I saw his inerrancy. One thing just led to the other so that even the mistakes made sense. That’s the terrible thing about honesty. Its ruthless freedom. You’re never more free than when you’re honest when you say what’s on your mind the timing not off so that it can be seen as a joke a just kidding so you can say how you really feel. But are feelings honest? And if I took what he wrote and buried it for a thousand years so that in the fresh canonization of history we don’t even try to cover up its embarrassing elements—what say you then? I mean of course I read on after Mason showed me some of his posts but I didn’t let it in until later until after it was in the news about how she shot that pit bull in the face after you didn’t fall there not at Burden Falls but your father found your car abandoned out at the Herrin Reservoir and even then I didn’t comprehend because what the eyes see and the ears hear the mind believes and maybe I was looking in the wrong place or like in those moments when what was right in front of your eyes suddenly comes into focus and what you were looking for was right there all along and like the meaning of a song it all unravels and you say: Oh, I get it now. Because have you heard the melody and not the words? I could see what he was trying to do. He was taking what’s in text format which is written in code and presenting it to us in a visual format. What links behind the icons of our toolbars. But I didn’t get it. I didn’t know what was literal and what was allegory. Whether time was measured by its content. And like the confessions of a scribe what do we do with the notes on the margins? The shame was I was the only witness…


Woman accused of shooting boyfriend’s dog in the face

Brandie Piper, KSDK 7:34 a.m. CDT September 9, 2014

Marion, Ill. – A Marion woman is accused of shooting her boyfriend’s dog in the face during a domestic dispute.

Det. James Mason with the Marion Police Department says officers were called to an apartment in the 300 block of South Bentley around 1 a.m. Sunday for a report of a dog that was shot.

When officers arrived they found the pit bull had been shot in its face and paw with a .22 caliber rifle during a domestic dispute between the suspect, identified as 32-year-old Tina L. Snopes, and her boyfriend. Mason says the dog was locked inside its crate inside the apartment and did not pose an injury risk to anyone when it was shot.

The dog was shot three times. It was taken to a veterinarian for emergency surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.

Snopes is charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals and is held at the Williamson County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

No humans were injured during the domestic dispute.


I read somewhere once if you wanted to write a biography of someone the first rule is shoot the widow. We really wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall for some conversations. Not because they’re about us but because some are disappointments to humanity while others just might surprise us and funny what we so quickly defend is as likely able to heap burning coals on our head and I often wonder how shallow how deep things are all at once apparent and I see how vanity is so flippant on everything except in regards to itself but for a long time I didn’t see I thought the problem was love’s focus the price of anything as great as hearing the voice of the mountain insurmountable loneliness then I remembered what you said to me once: Don’t tell me what you feel tell me what you know.

THEY SPENT A DAY LOOKING IN THE WATER. But you weren’t in the water. I knew where they would find you but for three days I didn’t tell them and

why? what were you waiting for?

I wasn’t waiting waiting on some sort of miracle it was already Over Done you see? It just took me that long to live again to tell the story and then, well, it was just a matter of writing things down—you know—for legal purposes.

and I knew where you were because I was there when you said it

There’s nothing to fear. I know it and this helps me remember… and it’s all there programmed by the age of seven—your attributes from religion social economic all the way to sex—the brain is like an incorporated environment. It restructures rewires itself based on sensations. So ya of course you are who you are born a certain way. But if you’re told over and over again if you’re bullied if you’re put in an environment without a gradient of love the comfort of friends—why, it must take a strength that borders on delusional to still believe in yourself—yet people do. They do every day…

but I don’t believe in cause and effect. for that you need a closed system. and we are not in a closed system. and I struggled and I saw and like those little quotes you see on Facebook (I must of liked something of his when they were still married before my father died and I see them now just like I saw that news clip about George’s girlfriend luckily the fucking crazy bitch was smart enough to let him stash the drugs with some lesbian neighbors next door before the cops came of course he was spooked after that I mean what if she ratted in jail the same jail Charlie Birger spent some time in a good ninety years ago and maybe she etched her name in the wall there too I hear she was a poet and most writers are narcissistic assholes believe me I know I had one for an ex-stepdad.) they’re reminders little motivational get up and go phrases of inspiration about being a writer the writer’s life which in way like it or not are what everybody gets because even our motivational quotes come from writers and they have a tendency to put themselves in the story so of course that’s what I happened to see scrolling through Facebook after you went missing a quote by Hemingway as I’m sure other writers said it: Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. And it clicked then what you said. Not the writing part you never wrote a lick in your life but the loneliness—I saw it in your eyes when you said it helps me remember. Like that old grandfather clock my mother had in the living room. It chimed the hours and I remember how I waited counting the chimes and why why fear? We propose all these little tests. And not just our education not that form of mind control which of course the mind needs. I mean all the other tests we propose to each other. They never end. And when we don’t have each other we test Time. We chase it and time ourselves in our tasks bidding ourselves to hurry. Sometimes the best is to do Nothing. So many frustrations and seeds of anger would recede if we just paced ourselves. But like those chimes I used to count I always feared being alone like my mother feared death. She saw her grandfather die in the kitchen when she was four years old. I think it messed her up. Now I realize I’m not really afraid of being by myself—other people my mother told me to be afraid of that—no, it was sharing. I had to admit I needed someone to share it with. I had to admit that and get used to the silence.

and you met his mother once before you died she was a stripper but then as the body fades she got religious and that’s fine for that’s what they say in baptism—the old has passed away and all things have become new—and she probably just had a bad daddy she sure did marry a winner Chad he’s a truck driver Mom went to school with him called him “strangely normal” always kind of wild he went the whiskey cocaine route while she was the mellow driver sticking to the weed he showed me his apparatus once at a Christmas Eve party since he got drug tested so much—a fake penis which dispensed fake urine from a bottle tied to the inside of his leg—said it worked for direct observations if he ever got hit up on the road even had a heating unit to get it to the right temperature—guess you’d call that a baptism by fire… anyway maybe she was messed up seeing her grandfather die at such a young age and maybe like an avoidance reaction we embrace what promises to take away the big fears while we still propose our little tests sort of how like you could get sweaty palms and an elevated heartbeat sometimes when you were put on the spot when guys would bully you because of your height yet in other things bigger risks (like taking your own life) you did not hesitate you were not afraid not even afraid of falling

it’s just roles you see

maybe they too begin by seven we even play games you be mom I’ll be dad I’m a son I’m a daughter then the roles get more complex they vary disguised in the deceit of adolescence and we even resent our roles angry over our helplessness but of course we learn early on to always display an image of success always ready with the comeback even when on the inside we know we need them more than they need us and it’s funny just watch over time all the role reversals I’m good you’re bad now I’m bad you’re good and it all goes back to those first games where the hero needs a villain and really all you gotta do is pray you get a good part after all you don’t want to be cast in a B movie that goes straight to DVD it might ruin your career and they might see you jumping from the Hollywood sign because you’re ordinary and you know it

and this is how you see her. As if you took the still-life and flipped through the days (or however the installments played out) and you saw how things changed—how the light and shadows played behind her in the room the angle and the closeness how it contours the face the largeness of the eyes and sometimes it is clearly outlined and other times you can barely see and of course the clothes are different the way the hair is maybe how the furniture looks and can you discern what time it is based on the light the angle of it in the webcam and sometimes just sometimes the light catches the eyes just right and they reflect. She’s still talking:

of course that’s not what I wanted. I always wanted to be normal the pressure is just what surrounds you because pretty much anything can be deemed as normal as long as two or three are gathered together in agreement (and really guilt only needs one accomplice) but go off by yourself and you might be diagnosed as seriously disturbed pretty quick until someone finally comes along and admits Ya I felt that too because really the best of us in the comedy of leaving doubt to fate know somehow God mysteriously loves us even when bad things happen and maybe that’s how you felt but you didn’t make the rest of the connection how really the mystical boob in all of us knows when we plug ourselves into our surroundings strange things happen and like a voice recognized and what the fingers have touched you are a unique soul and even if you die trivially tomorrow you played your part throughout the window of your eyes the funny thing if given a list of choices of who to be right before you won’t know what to choose because you don’t know who you are yet (I don’t think you knew who you were) and you can’t pretend to be something you’re not what you are not yet you can’t make the choice and if I was with you if I were with you that day I could have told it was the power you couldn’t take because you didn’t want to be to the one that has to say No

to finally see the lies and laugh

then he said So few people talk sincerely these days. It’s always the profile of moods their impressions (what the eyes see and the ears hear) in vertical time the seeing what’s behind it that’s how this story’s being told: It’s a lost Art really…





7:21 It was the night after my outpatient surgery at the VA for hemorrhoid band ligation (the first of several appointments) that I discovered she still had fleas. As she sprawled across my chest in bed that night one hopped from her fur into my moustache. 22 There are worlds within worlds and we are made of energy constantly going in and out of existence. 23 So I thought this tiny little bug what world is it what was the measurement of its life, and because I felt it I felt its movement I knew even in the dark it was there. 24 And what did it sense? What did it feel? If its world was anything like mine I suppose it saw in ratios. Patterns. And the smaller you go the more infinite the measure. Or better put—the smaller your measure the more incalculable the more infinite what is measured. 25 Self-similar sustaining in a positive feedback loop. More complex as it gets larger. 26 And it was I that made the observation of this flea, thus I made it exist. Before it was ever on the cat. 27 Because you see the sky is not blue and the sun’s not yellow. Blue is what we see because it scatters in the air. And the rest of the spectrum what our eyes measure in visible light our pretty sunsets—why that’s just complementary colors mixed together based on what’s reflected and what’s absorbed. Black is not really a color. 28 The darkness is merely the absence of color. Where nothing escapes…

The light overcomes darkness. As anyone knows. If it didn’t what we know would be different. Like gravity failing… I’m sure he didn’t ask for it I mean does anyone know what they’re asking for kinda like how everything tastes like chicken I mean even the staunchest agnostic well into old age who’s fought their battle with cancer and is just happy to be here knows we take a hell of lot on faith. But we test it. We conduct experiments and verify our answers.   And this is how we arrive at a consensus—not on really what it is that’s limited by the measurement of our observation but on how we got to our answer—the method. The method is all that matters… Of course George’s co-workers didn’t have to share it I don’t think he told anybody at work I mean that would have been foolish but like everything else everybody knows everything about everybody or at least we have our rumors about wealth and position ingrained notions of success and my God it’s even in that awareness when someone says: How was your weekend? and you say Oh it was good but you don’t say How was yours? and they walk away saying God what a self-absorbed shit so I’m sure he pissed a few people off without even doing anything just minding his own business but when excerpts of his little darknet treatise The Tale of Two Cats got shared on Facebook (you know how they make it so easy-just clink on the link and say what’s on your mind) it wasn’t so much the post that got him into trouble with his girlfriend I mean sure she was pissed he was treating her cat like a gimp but it wasn’t that it was the comments. Hell—the comments are usually the best part…

and behavior has patterns. Just as Nature in its beauty

takes it course and what kind of hell would that be? To be the center of your world. Like Davy Jones Locker we’d all be running around faced with ourselves on all sides. Just imagine if all you saw was what you see in the mirror every day and there’s nowhere to hide. You’d quickly own up to the fact that the one thing you truly want to forget is yourself and you’re reminded why this is a good thing and the reasons why anyone asks you to look in the first place and I’ll be damned if I just want to see myself everywhere I go looking. Why that’s like fighting an argument you can’t win. Or is it?

MAYBE IT HELPS TO KNOW WHO YOU’RE TALKING TO. if read this far that’s what I’m getting. I mean is it her father her lover herself and I get that her father’s dead I get that fallen from some accident as accidents happen to ironworkers maybe it was a new VA hospital in that line of work you have to be used to heights and then there’s stuff about George and his girlfriend and how that relates to her boyfriend Mason and we know she likes to play golf played with her father we know that and somehow this all ties in with the VA and Silk Road and the darknet and George’s story from another story and his folks his dad and Mason’s folks how his mom got religious how apparently she got religious (or has that been mentioned) and remember the she we’re referring to her name’s V and we have all this background and mood impressions and I get that it’s being told like she’s sitting in front of a computer posting a YouTube video but I can’t tell you what the story’s about maybe the title’s supposed to help comes from a Christmas Carol a Hemingway story “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” maybe that has something to do with I don’t know and then I realized you don’t even know who this I is talking to you and who are you and maybe that’s it. Maybe this whole thing is like a giant Rorschach. The question is not really what the story’s about I mean we learn that in school—identify the author the illustrator the title of the book—and as we get older we’re numbed by formulas and we don’t even know we want anything more anything less just to be entertained as we accept our mediocrity and with humility and maybe a spark of humor our plot in life. So ya I get there’s no plot. Other than the fact V’s mourning her father’s death and apparently her lover’s Mason’s recent suicide and this apparently stems from the fact he was involved in dealing drugs off of Silk Road with George who I guess got in trouble for writing some story on the darknet called The Tale of Two Cats which pissed off his girlfriend who shot his dog which brought the cops and the heat on their nefarious dealings and apparently besides all that Mason I guess was a little dude and was bullied a lot for his height (and he was scared of heights) and add in the stressors of the possibility of getting busted by the cops (and apparent rumors scandals at the VA that not only George was involved in darknet deals but V’s ex-stepdad who also worked at the VA and bought the house George lived in in another story was also involved in a scandal of stealing patient information and selling it on the darknet) of course I don’t know these rumors to be true but I’m sure whispered conversations got to him and add the weight that V was thinking of dumping him for a relationship with Jesus (which really hasn’t been mentioned yet but it is being now and this makes sense since she too was under a lot of stress the least of them being defending herself from the accusation that she also may have ratted out Mason and George letting the police in on the when and where of his mail deliveries) put that all together and the fact that he was young too and well you can see why maybe he took his own life because at that age with your whole life ahead of you it’s easy to say fuck it because your whole life’s still ahead of you. Anyway I guess that’s the plot. It’s just been told in a funny way. And maybe that’s really the story—not the story being told—but your interpretation of it. How you would go about telling someone else what the story’s about. So the question is not really what’s revealed in the story but what’s revealed about one who tells it. Maybe that’s why so much is left out. Why so much of this other crap has been put in. So you can see what you want to see… Anyway you’ll never have the whole truth and nothing but. I mean from what I heard after hearing her YouTube diaries and seeing George’s darknet posts which look like they could come out of a Bukowski Bible I know that that’s not all. I mean wouldn’t it be nice to know that in fact George’s girlfriend was pissed off and humiliated that he turned her cat into a gimp sure but that’s not the whole story just like sure we’re made up of water and energy and our very conscious thoughts influence the energy around us but life can still take a big dump on you despite all your positive thinking and the trigger here was not really George turning her cat into a gimp on a good day she might have let that simply slip off her shoulders and laugh about it but the day she shot his dog in the face wasn’t a good day. See her car was parked next door. She’d had that car for eleven years—bought it when she graduated. I think it might even be tied with her first boyfriend her first relationship I’m not sure you know how cars typify our status be it economic or social or even relationship-wise. Anyway after nearly two hundred thousand miles and taking it coast to coast she sold it to her next door neighbor after the engine went out. He’s a story in itself been married three times has seven kids and he’ll admit he was a righteous asshole in his younger years telling yarns such as drinking a fifth of tequila every morning before getting out of bed then doing lines of coke to stay awake now he’s mellowed a bit and wants to be an evangelical preacher but mostly he just deals in cars you saw different ones in his driveway everyday as he fixed them up and sold them. Well now hers was next door. It’s kind of a psychological shock to see the car you once owned for so long a time and with which you’ve been through so much sitting next door and now you don’t own it—especially when you’re still carless. Plus she liked to give him sass and now she knew she would never live this down. So see this might have a weighing in factor on why she shot George’s pit bull in the face. We hold our cars in as much esteem as our cats… Anyway it’s funny isn’t it? What you don’t know is usually revealed by what you do. And if that ain’t what this story’s about I don’t know what the hell is


They got together to pray every Tuesday morning. They gathered the prayer requests in the black boxes along with the tithes and offerings, and every Tuesday they went over the congregation’s problems and concerns as submitted in prayer, many of which if whispered outside the confidential confines of the pastoral offices would cause quite a stir in the community. His meeting with them was at three. Just turned forty, Pastor Mike was used to such meetings handling such affairs it was his job to be at weddings and marriage counselings headed for divorce, births and deaths, commencements and funerals, and you could say after being at Cornerstone for the past four years, moving the church to the old Wal-Mart, that he knew the town pretty well—he knew the people of the town.

At the behest of both families he had reviewed the videos on YouTube, and though he was not privy to access the darknet (the church Wi-Fi had very strict search filters), he had seen printouts of what George had posted there, remnants of the story, which shocked the pastor not so much in how it was written, but in the content—it was the pathology there that disturbed him—and he knew the gist of the story, how George’s girlfriend was still in jail and he was up for a transfer (That’s how they handled government employees involved in indiscretions, usually there were mandatory briefings and new policies enacted, but the disciplinary action just meant a different tour of duty. He’d been there when George broke his leg. Reinhilde made sure to put in the prayer request for a hospital visit. That and to pray “he’d get off that stuff that comes in the mail”.), and Pastor Mike knew how V’s father had passed away in the last year, and he could see the grief in the videos, not just in the face but in the tone of voice, but his job now was to untangle these issues and hopefully reach some sort of resolution. Mason’s parents deserved that. And as the sign said on the door, despite whatever religious affiliation or background Chad and Stacy came from, they deserved God’s love and open arms. The church creed was: Love God, Love Others, and Make Disciples. He could only imagine the hurt Chad must be feeling as a father. He had two sons himself, and two adopted sons. The oldest was just reaching puberty with those questions those basic human questions he tried to answer in his sermons on Sunday. This family deserved to know where their son was.

“I don’t know, preacher,” Chad said, “I mean it’s not like we don’t know I know my boy is dead, but what the world should be and what the world is is two different things. Far as I’m concerned the world’s just a whore who prides herself in how little she has to put out. It’s all about position who has the upper hand if you want to play the game if it matters to you… You’re asking me to care about this girl’s baby when she still hasn’t fessed up where the body is? I mean I know we’ve all fallen short and all, but it seems strange to me that we’re told of this world where everyone should care that to not care is the warning sign of a psychopathology and that it’s more than just a guilt trip people are layin’ on us we ought to be truly concerned we ought to care deeply about the world around us… Well tell me this, preacher, does the world care that my boy killed himself that this world I’m supposed to care about bullied my boy into killing himself? Look me in the eye and tell me that. Tell me this world cared if my son lived or died, and I’ll have the gall to ask of God that He bless what my boy left behind.”





it’s a restless hungry feeling that does nobody no good »

an author to an agent

November 6, 2014 //


This is my recent correspondence with a literary agent. I am fond of this guy because at least he answers emails, but I’m starting to realize people like me make his existence irrelevant…  I’m not saying I used to not care but now I’d just rather play with my cat…

From:”Jason Akley” <jasonakley@ymail.com>

Date:Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 11:37 PM

Subject:work in progress

Dear Jeff,

Sorry for the late night email I’m at work til midnight and I thought I might share what’s going on with the writing because you’re about the only one that actually responds to emails (frankly I don’t know how you do it). I work for the VA now. You know that joke how suicides come back as civil servants–well, that’s me. But I must say I’m much more financially secure now and though my wife and I divorced we’re still on good terms and she’s not afraid to be a friend and I see my two daughters everyday so that’s good.

I wanted to say something about Lazarus. It’s been a good six years since I finished writing it and besides the Kirkus review (and they’re supposed to be known for their prescience) many other just average reviewers on Amazon have said (besides complaining about its complexity and length) that it’s a masterpiece. So what gives? After six long years and three more books, of which The Psalmist is another highly favored by the critics, it’s starting to hit home for me that like in London’s Martin Eden it’s pretty much arbitrary bullshit. Like the protagonist in that book, am I any different now than I was six years ago, or will I be different fifty years from now? The work’s already done. It don’t change. And that’s haunting but at the same time it still seems a strange mystery to me how one gets “branded” and enough people (or the right people) say “Hey, this guy’s good.” and the money follows. Or which is it, you know what will make money so that’s what you brand that’s what you give people to read and say, “It’s good.”

Anyway, I don’t care about making money that’s not why I started writing but after fifteen years of it and not just talk but actual work it does seem kind of a shame the writer of Lazarus as lauded by Kirkus still works as a lowly lab tech and has to face coworkers who he doesn’t tell he’s a writer (believe me he’s learned that lesson) yet still the word inevitably gets out and I have to take people telling me what I should write to be a bestseller (of course they never admit to reading my writing or whether it’s good or not–funny how people will confront you out of the blue and you have to be the sane one and say to yourself “Oh, you must be stalking me on Facebook. That’s why all of sudden you’re talking to me about what I should write though I’ve never once told you I was writer or that I’ve written any books.”) I’ve gotten used to it, and that’s fine–it’s kept me humble. But I will say it seems a waste that I spend 40 hours a week at a VA hospital lab which could be time I used for writing full-time. There’s been projects delayed and book ideas I never get to because I can’t write full-time (yet I’ve managed so far to publish over 2600 pages in my spare time).

So anyway–maybe it is what is. All very Zen. But I wanted to share with you how I feel because you’re in the industry you know how it works and if you respond to this I’ll probably find it discouraging and it’ll probably just piss me off and I won’t write for a few days, but at least this is documented for posterity’s sake and I have to be grateful that at least you responded (you also get used to the silence). Every writer over and over has said it’s a lonely life and after The Psalmist I almost hung in the towel. I figured I’d done enough for a legacy. But I can’t help it. I write for the pure joy of it, and I get restless if I don’t. Working on a short story collection now. Not commercially viable I know, but what are ya gonna do? Hell, the stories I’ve written so far aren’t even commercially viable for the literary magazines–they’re too long.

Maybe eventually I’ll just luck into something that sells. But I don’t think it’s luck.

Thanks if you read this. I don’t know how you respond under the deluge of correspondence you must get.




On Thu, 11/6/14, Jeff Kleinman <jeff@foliolit.com> wrote:

Subject: RE: work in progress

To: “Jason Akley” <jasonakley@ymail.com>

Date: Thursday, November 6, 2014, 3:01 PM

Hi, Jason, thanks for the email. I’m sorry things haven’t been going as well for you as you’d hoped – all I can say is that publishers today seem to be looking for a wonderful premise married with a wonderful voice. So maybe really figuring out that great premise is a place to start?

Good luck with the short story collection – not quite sure how it can help you, but hopefully you’re enjoying the process.

Take care! Jeff Kleinman Folio Literary Management


On Thu, 11/6/14, Jason Akley wrote:

Subject: RE: work in progress

To: “Jeff Kleinman”

Date: Thursday, November 6, 2014, 4:11 PM

What better premise than Oedipus? Not only in my retelling it as a great Greek tragedy but the fact that it touches on the deepest themes of existence? That’s what I’m saying, Jeff. I already did it. I already married a wonderful premise with a wonderful voice, and unless Kirkus is a liar I dare you to compare their review of Lazarus to any of their reviews from the past eighty years on what are now considered standards as great pieces of literature for unless they were just blowing smoke up my ass take their review of say The Grapes of Wrath and put it beside their review of Lazarus and compare them and tell me what you think. It just proves my point that it’s arbitrary bullshit and market demographics and about making money and giving people what they want when the truth is we buy shit as long as it says guaranteed on the label. The truth is I already did it. I already wrote a wonderful book and nobody gave a shit and here I am telling you it’s for sale I own the rights and still nobody gives a shit.


and so you see I wanted to get to that pathology—the warnings signs in a world set up for a perfect storm where you’re a fool to care a fool to think you have anything to prove and you’re a fool by making your world a little colder…

in the use of misdirection and imagination

for that’s all that really separates us from the animals. Your cats and dogs. It’s our ability to imagine, and how we direct it (for what the eyes see and the ears hear) in fear or in love—why, we see these ideas formed all around us. What makes us extraordinary is our imagination.

So you can see what I was doing here. And now I must end it. I figured Pastor Mike would be a perfect vehicle to bring this story to a resolution. That it would be his voice concluding these impressions and if you really must know if you care I was the ex-stepdad in the story. I’m the one who wrote this—all of it. See I do have a stepdaughter that lived in my house from the age of thirteen to sixteen and her nickname is V and she does have a boyfriend named Mason and she does happen to be pregnant right now due in January—it’s a boy—and I did want to write something relevant to millennials so I threw in all the shit about Silk Road and the darknet and lifted a news article I saw in my Facebook feed about a girl I knew once who apparently really did shoot her boyfriend’s dog in the face and George is just lifted from another story and I figured if this gonna be a collection of short stories about a town I better connect them somehow and folks like Pastor Mike make an excellent tool to thread the stories together and I thought okay what should he say what would he say in these circumstances what was really on my mind because V’s dad ain’t dead (he is an ironworker but as far as I know he hasn’t fallen at work) and she didn’t really get religious (though her mom has) and Mason didn’t kill himself out at Herrin Reservoir but a boy of nineteen recently did the father his younger daughter goes to school with my daughters and he’s a little dude works as a prison guard out at the federal penitentiary and there were rumors his son was bullied a lot because of his height so I threw that in the story because the theme of suicide is relevant to me and I know what that reveals just like I used V’s dad being dead to talk about my own father being dead and of course the other struggles those age-old battles we all have with faith when maybe we were told the truth but maybe just not in the right way and we go through all kinds of hell for it but later on in the journey we realize the truth is still the truth and we have to heal we have to forgive and in the clarity of complications realize at the end of the day it’s just you—it’s just you and your imagination.

So what was I trying to say? What was I trying to reveal? What did I reveal just now? And so I`m wondering what I should have Pastor Mike say, and better yet—how? Maybe it’ll be conversation with his wife—to be a fly on the wall when the preacher comes home and tells you about his day. Or maybe a conversation with his thirteen year old son—that would be an interesting vehicle for a discussion. And I guess what I really want to talk about is can we give love without asking for love in return. The fallibility of that. And of course I should probably have George have his last say—written in biblical format. I guess just to prove the point of how we downplay the importance of the writer how I have conversations with people in the publishing industry such as the one above when people build religions and place their faith (to the point their willing to die for it) on the basis of a book.

and look at the time. the dates. and why Burden Falls? WHY BEGIN WITH WATER? why the despair that leads to conviction (not unto condemnation) that leads to the contrite heart saying:


21:7 You take a bath if you’re dirty. And guilt is good guilt is healthy—as long as you’re not controlled by it. And they said Come and see and so I saw I saw the cycles repeating the patterns and even with a losing hand we have etched our names in the pages of history—enough for today. 8 This is my love returned. For if there is light you have a shadow. And I saw the game in her. All cats are sociopaths. Their loyalty their master is only to the hand that feeds them. 9 So why did I try? What did I want her voice to say? The truth is we never ask what happens after happily ever after for questions are only answered in hell. I admit it. I wanted control. I wanted to dominate. I wanted her complete submission. 10 I just didn’t see the price how what the dark hungers for now if we but saw in time progressions the wonder of growth how those cute little kittens become cats we would also know the horrors of decay. 11 All things are mirrors. My right hand is your left. And a cat never plays the victim. And so I stopped and I saw I saw the truth of freedom. Because without the distractions of love everything is based on need. 12 In Nature power is force over time, but in humans it is measured in need. This is our game in mirrors. The guilt in strength is that we are strong for only a short time the power of love our time used to help others not as strong. Because the world breaks you. But you are made strong in the broken places. 13 And you will know the weak by their pride. 14 Here’s a man still working for your smile. 

and they say knowledge is power

so this is how I would end it… I see him—the father. And it can be the man imagined in V’s video diaries or the man sitting across from Pastor Mike or just imagine whatever you like with this voice but I see him I see him in the snow (because it’s nearing Christmas again as it should for the title and a spring and a summer and the fall have passed and you see this in the water how the water flows or is frozen in places like Burden Falls and how are those fairways after the summer months will the grass be green again this the span of writing the story a story of a girl telling her father in a series of impressions about a boy she loved who killed himself and why…) and he is laughing he is laughing with his little girl his younger daughter the boy’s (Mason’s?) sister he’s picking her up from school and there’s snow on the ground and they’re throwing snowballs at each other or rather he is letting her hit him with snowballs and he bends (he bends down low) to adjust her hat to cover her ears and the smile is not just in the face but in the eyes and I see him I see him turn the corner with her. They are heading home.

you got to wow them in the end

But is that it? What about all the loose ends? What did V realize when that Amnesia Haze was delivered by George out on the golf course? And this Tale of Two Cats business—why two? And where’s the other cat? Why did he love one and hurt the other? I have seen fear in a cat’s eyes. And what concern is that of yours? Who is loved and who is hated—everybody won’t be treated all the same… Ah, she says for what the mind believes the eyes see and the ears hear and don’t talk to me about power or even love and grief (these burdens we carry) because really all you can do is laugh (like that father playing with his little girl in the snow) knowledge is not power nor is it good and evil it’s a joke really a comedy because what you know is what you see what you hear (however it be misdirected) and this my friend (you—I was always talking to you—this the engagement deferred in all that other entertaining trash you read for yes it does touch on hot topics of debate but always in something so unbelievable it doesn’t touch you as real as you really you and this is what I’m doing here making it so you can’t say Oh, it’s just a story… or is it?) this is an illusion a conjuring because if you play the victim guess what you’ll always be the victim the role is the role it always plays out just as immutable as time and the river but the role is your choice you get to pick your part out of a set of parameters (your costume what you walk out to on the set) so pick it well because the truth is knowledge is not power it’s only the illusion of who has control now and really it is a burden a responsibility but ask anyone and they’ll tell you they want to know we just can’t stand it if we think someone knows something we don’t know I mean my God they might be getting one over on us and that’s the comedy of it the sick joke because all the truth in the world adds up to one big lie and whatever you think you’re getting over on somebody or whatever’s gnawing at you about what you think someone else knows—it’s a fool’s game—but we all play it we have to so in that misdirected mirror of what the mind believes don’t tell me it’s not your fault it’s everybody’s fault you just got to see it see it with a sense of humor and she says ah change is nothing but the moment’s thorn you make a choice based on today even when you know that may not be how you see it tomorrow and do you really want to be passion’s fool?


explained mathematically:


And the answer is: Yes

Yes I would be passion’s fool yes I will play the game or the game will play me yes for without it there isn’t a story nothing happens and yes there are no mistakes no loose ends for these we find reasons for that come before and after and yes the caves in which we dwell need no moonlight to give us our shadows we interpret on the wall yes and by me saying yes he said no because maybe his mother said yes after he was born after she said no (and the father?) and though he wanted to say no he was really saying yes and with me he could feel like he was saying yes to my no but then all this happened (the drugs the law the bullying the truth and trouble about cats and dogs) and there’s so much more merely mentioned in passing yes so much unsaid and yes it is absurd and yes it is meaningful and yes it is meaningless and yes some things are temporary and other things are fixed forever and even in our formulas how the numbers fit nicely into theories we’re really just trying to make things fit and yes when you give love you expect to get love back in return because we all need it we all need love but see what you give is determined by what you like to do what brings joy in your life and out of the fruit of this we give of our abundance and this yes this can be accepted or denied and we can hear the words Well Done or I Never Knew You and we all have the spirit of Cain in us just as Scrooge on Christmas morning could either wake up shouting with joy or be haunted by dreams of visiting ghosts so yes give according to your measure but if you expect nothing back don’t expect me to listen when you whine about it later (and yes we all do) so yes I said yes and it was never disputed I didn’t dispute that and so yes I said it I said: Take it take it…

but I think he wants…

wants what? Paradise?

No, I think he wants hell

In the new church the stage was designed in such a way that the floor lifted to reveal the baptismal pool. A corridor ran behind so that Pastor Mike could stand with the new follower in performance of the ceremony without having to get wet. She had sat behind her the week before when V paid a visit to the altar (and now sitting in front of her was a man with his family a young baby in a carrier whom she’d seen outside in the parking lot earlier having a dispute with the Connections pastor Pastor Jason apparently about something that went wrong with name badges signing in the kids—the church takes security important). She was in no way connected to this not connected to the man sitting in front who had been irate earlier nor was she connected to V’s story how in a meeting with Pastor Mike the week before with the respective families present she had disclosed where the body was she knew where Mason was though she had not been there when he shot himself she knew where they could find him it was back away from the water away from the shore near an old tree an oak that’d seen better days where they had made love once after a party (the Herrin Reservoir was a well-known hangout by the local law enforcement for teenage kids and underage drinking). She was close to V’s age—true—and maybe in some ways their story was the same they could relate for after all it wasn’t God who made honkytonk angels and she was there getting over a man a bad relationship because in the shower that morning as the water ran over her she had sworn she’d tasted salt on her lips and it made her think of her upbringing how she had gone far astray and so yes even though she was disconnected not involved in any of this she was a part of the story too how in the end if we want to be fine with ourselves if we want to be able to tell ourselves that we’re doing a good job it’s just like that story of the lost sheep how even if 99 are accounted for (even if 99.9% of the story is alright) that one lost sheep ruins the perfection it nags on you weighs on your heart because it answers (Yes) to our Nature—the work is not finished unless everything is there unless we are all here… And so she watched from her pew she recognized V from the week before and as the screens above the stage shared the video of her testimony how she was rededicating her life to the Lord she herself was changed a seed was planted and she said to herself: Huh, maybe I oughta do that…

and she says

I TOOK THE STEPS DOWN INTO THE WATER. I closed my eyes as I went under as I fell back with his arms holding me lifting me back up and I thought is this how it is? like they say: my whole life… this my mind my earth and I felt him kick I felt the baby kick inside me and as I opened my eyes I thought well, my mom smoked when she was pregnant with me too