Monday, April 13, 2015


Anthony Blake, an old friend of my mother, invited me to dinner last night. Over heaps of creamy mashed potatoes and tender chunks of juicy meat, he offered a warning to me regarding my safety. He explained that there is a group of people, friends of my father, who are looking for me. To hurt me.

“Shortly after your mother died,” he explained, “Some of her friends, myself included, began receiving letters with inquiries about your whereabouts.”

“Why are people looking for me?” I asked, feeling myself puff up like the potatoes I couldn’t resist eating more of. I had a strong feeling I knew why, but I figured I would ask. Anthony, never having been a flowery man, said bluntly, “They are looking for you because you helped your mother murder your father. And your traveling isn’t helping establish your innocence.”

I shushed Anthony, afraid someone in the restaurant would hear. I asked him what I should do. He suggested I stop traveling and lay low. “That doesn’t seem like an option. Mother’s inheritance is too great for me to sit around and do nothing,” I responded. “I could fairly easily hire someone to keep me safe.”

Skipping dessert, which was a delicious looking cherry tart with a brittle vanilla crumble, I told Anthony I had to go. As I was leaving, he handed me a box of letters, all with similar intents. People want me dead. 

Stuffed, I went to bed as soon as I got home. Maybe I will have some clarity in the morning, I thought.

That night, I dreamt of being in department store as a child. When I was younger, Mother would often take me shopping, because for her, shopping was retail therapy and a place to complain about my father without him overhearing. I just liked looking in all the mirrors in the dressing rooms.

In my dream, I was a child trying on a raincoat, which happened to be the one my mom gave me. It was too big for me then. But every time I would look in the mirror, instead of seeing my own reflection, I saw my father. And behind him, I saw faceless figures, an army of angry, vengeance-seeking beings. I kept turning and turning, trying different mirrors, but every mirror yielded the same, terrifying result. Finally, I punched the mirror, and it broke, but my hand was fine. I woke up.

I knew then that mirrors were trying to tell me something. It’s me. I have to change me in order to save me.  The clock read 6:45am. I read over all the letters and butterflies started dancing in my stomach. They know me as Charlie Lemon, the accomplice to the murder of Richard Lemon and the son of Susanne Lemon. If they can’t find Charlie Lemon, I will be safe. I headed to the library with the box of letters in tow. It was 7:56am.

Herman Library was just opening when I arrived. It was empty. Perfect. I sought out everything I could about changing my identity. Quickly, I realized I needed an assistant, someone to serve as protection and to help me change the man who I see in the mirror every morning.

When I left the library, it was about 3:30 in the afternoon. I had spent the better part of the day planning my escape from being Charlie Lemon. As I was leaving, a woman simultaneously bounded through the doorway of the library, just about knocking me over. The box of letters fell out of my hands and its contents littered the floor. The woman, who I realized quickly was an employee at the library, picked up one letter in a feeble attempt to help me clean up. Eyeing it briefly, she looked vaguely concerned, but too hurried to hesitate. She turned and continued into the library. I cleaned up the letters, put them in the box, and left.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I spent all day walking around town, tacking flyers onto telephone poles like I was living in the 1990's. I also posted an ad online, but figured anyone who would be dumb enough to have a white pit bull as a pet probably wouldn't have a hefty internet presence. I found the dog when I was on my way home from The Church of Faith last night, where I had returned hoping to find some kind of wisdom, a commodity hard to locate in a world as messy as mine.

The poor guy was walking on the sidewalk, and maybe it was just his pit bull look, but his eyes appeared sad. Then again, maybe that was me. But I don't think so. I saw he had a collar and assumed he was safe to touch. He smelled like cigarettes, which was probably a good sign. At least he wasn't completely alone in life. 

I brought him in my apartment despite the rule prohibiting pets or pests of any kind. People break the pests rule all the time. Fast forward to today. I finished up posting the flyers and dragged the dog along behind me all the way back home. Luckily, I wasn't home long before my phone rang. It was the dog's owner, a woman named Ann who said she owned the Italian place here in Dreamwood. She said she saw the signs, and I told her I would bring the dog by soon. Without a word more, she hung up.

The dog wasn't well trained and struggled to walk on a leash. I picked him up and carried him in my arms for the duration of the short walk to Ann's. Maybe she'll give me some free food, I thought.

I got there right around 6:30, which was probably dumb on my part. Dinner rush at an already-busy restaurant, and here I am with an ugly white canine wiggling around in my arms. The line wasn't too bad, but I went right up to the counter anyway. To the lady at the register, I said, "Is Ann here? I have her dog." The woman was Ann, and seemed vaguely happy to see the pit bull. She seemed a bit overwhelmed and didn't offer me any kind of reward. She offered a kind "thank you," used to the routine it seemed. I handed the dog over the counter, a bit unsanitary to me, and she tied him up behind the counter.

I hopped in line, my stomach growling. I was carefully scanning the menu, trying to find something that looked appealing, when a young man walked in and began to yell. He yelled Ann's name and pushed his way to the counter. The dog began to bark, which only heightened the growing tension in the restaurant. The man was angry, and Ann had little to say, or so it seemed to me. She asked me to take the dog back outside, saying she didn't want the dog to disrupt the guests or be scared itself. A little late for that, I thought. I obeyed, and went outside to wait for the storm inside to calm down.

Amid the yelling that was occurring in the restaurant, I gathered my own thoughts and realized that the ugly white pit bull was a lot like myself. It was lost. I was lost. That was about all I could think of. I began to people watch, instantly becoming comfortable outside the chaos. After a while, I decided I needed to leave. I tied the dog tightly to the bench so that it wouldn't run away again. Hopefully Ann will be back out here soon. 

Monday, February 23, 2015


I left the radio station as quickly as I could. Not remembering much from the night before, I was freaked out. Had I let something spill? I hoped this guy didn’t have much of a recollection of the previous night. A twenty found its way to the station’s front desk– just a “thank you” for the previous night. Feeling almost ill, I hurried out, noticing on my way the flyers posted on the beautiful blue walls of the radio station.

Herbert Johnson Jr. comes to the Children’s Home today. The name rang a distant bell. Wasn’t he friends with Father? Oh, God no. What the hell did I tell that man last night?

I crossed the street outside the station, narrowly escaping getting hit by a speedy, furious driver in a blue Subaru. I walked home by way of the Children’s Home, turning down Herbert Johnson Road instead of continuing on Dreamwood. I hoped to get a glimpse of HJ Jr., but there seemed to be a crime scene with yellow tape up ahead. I hope it wasn’t a murder, I thought. I am all too familiar with those.

            Right then, I fell down. The sky went dark– first indigo and then black. I was flat on my back, and all the sudden I was back at the Church of Faith being carried home by the man. I was telling him about murdering my own father. Well, it wasn’t me. But I helped. The flashback ended and I got up. I need to get out of here, I thought.

            The blue Subaru that almost hit me earlier was approaching me again. It was probably the man from last night. He must have wanted the whole story. I started running. I ran track in high school and knew how to run. But this guy had a gas pedal and suspicion. I followed Dreamwood and checked my shoulder right around Joe’s Bar. The Subaru was still right behind me. I nearly tripped as I turned onto Main Street. I ran and didn’t stop again until I noticed blue streaks of paint on the ground. What in the world is going on?

 I crossed the street and hid behind a dumpster to catch my breath. When I re-approached the street, I didn’t see the car anymore, and I walked into O’Harley’s to grab a bite to eat. I walked in, out of breath and hoping to see a familiar face.

The cramped air in the bar felt worried, like I wasn’t the only one having a stressful day. I would have ordered a drink, but I don’t like to be impaired. I don’t want people to find out things about me without me realizing it. I ordered a mountain of food, hoping to forget about the blue Subaru and the crime scene and possibly going to jail for life.

I got up from my seat and immediately spotted Yesu, the man from the Laundromat. Christians, I thought, relieved. I needed a friend and forgiveness, and save for the crazy, he seemed like a good guy and able to provide me with both. I neared the man, he finished praying, and he sized me up. Still crazy, I thought. His mouth was moving like he was talking to someone, but he made no sound. He looked insane and afraid, just like last time. He continued to try to talk, looking longingly at me. I asked if he was okay. Finally, words. He said, “Yes, I’m fine.” He paused for a while and then looked angry. I think I had angered him with my lack of words. He yelled then. “NO ONE can help me!” Was he hallucinating?

As I headed for the door, I spotted a woman on the ground. She was sweeping glass into her hand and was bleeding. I didn’t ask. I grabbed her hand and started to help. I introduced myself, but she didn’t tell me her name. She looked eerily familiar. She looked like my mother.

She asked for a favor, I don’t remember what, but I was enthralled. She was beautiful, but not in a sexy way. She said she was from Belgrade. Belgrade, Maine was where I last saw Father’s bluing body, so I figured she meant the one in Serbia.

Making small talk, I told the woman about my trip to Turkey, and she mentioned that her dad didn’t want her to go there. For a minute, I forgot that other people had parents who were alive, let alone involved in their lives, and I told her she was too old for that stuff.

I remember now what the favor she wanted was. We were filling up bottles with a strange blue liquid. In the midst of it, she asked about my travels, and I reached into the pocket of my raincoat to get mother’s list, which is now stained with the drying blue liquid.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


The man on the phone said he was the minister at the Church of Faith here in Dreamwood, the church mother had infrequently attended when she was still alive. He said he  heard about mother’s passing and wanted to check up on me. I’m a 27-year-old man– I don’t need checking up on. That’s not what I said, of course.

I told him the truth. “I’m getting along just fine. A little lonely, but fine.” The minister was cordial, obviously devout, but kind. He said there were some of mother’s items left at the church that I was welcome to retrieve, including her hand-bells and bible. He said I could come by any day after 6 pm. He hung up the phone and I made a plan to head down to the Church of Faith later that evening. It was about 4 pm.

Grabbing the raincoat and some extra layers, I headed out to Frank’s Books to grab a few quick books. On the list were Fodor’s Turkey Travel Guide (Turkey was next on mother’s list) and Being Mortal. As I walked over, the early evening felt uncharacteristically dark, and the air was still.

I sat in Frank’s for a while, quickly becoming engrossed in the book about Turkey. The book explained The Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. It explored the intricacy and antiqueness of the ancient world. Everything was magical and otherworldly. It is hard to believe that such wonders were crafted before electricity and machines and modern-day conveniences.

I was snapped out of my trance when a man tapped me and said it was closing time. It was 7 pm.

I purchased the books and hustled out into the cold night. On a brisk walk, I made it to the Church of Faith in no time. But what was awaiting me was not a kind minister with a bag of mother’s things. Rather, it was some sort of cult gathering around a bonfire– or so it looked.

Nearing the ring of people, their singing became louder and clearer. Church songs. The people were taking part in a religious revival. Now this was some good entertainment. A few minutes later, a guy walked by the whole thing, looking just as bewildered as I’m sure I did. I motioned for him to come next to me– I had the best view.

“Does this happen all the time?” I asked him.
“I have no idea. I thought people like this lived in the country, not in the middle of Dreamwood,” he responded. We continued to watch the singing and dancing, both completely stunned and taken aback. He said a few more things, but I couldn’t catch any of them. I was too dazed and enthralled to comprehend anything.

I felt myself moving forward towards the center of the group. I don’t remember intentionally approaching the circle, but somehow I did. I don’t remember what happened next, but I woke up on the couch of the KWHR local radio station the next morning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

3- apt. 415 in Dreamwood Terrace

The ground looked like a big marshmallow, or an opaquely cloudy sky, or a pile of feather pillows, kind of like those mother was deathly allergic to. Her feather allergy was never a problem, except when she travelled, which she did all the time. When she traveled, she stayed in the nicest hotels in the area, but was never able to enjoy the soft, luxurious pillows.

Mother was rich and she was curious about the world, a combination that is very conducive to a satisfying life. She was rich because her husband, my father, was a crook. I haven't seen him in quite a while, though. 

Anyway, mother’s curiosity had no bounds. She visited every city, village, and rain forest that she wanted during her life. She learned how to bird watch on a safari in the sub-Saharan Africa and watched the New Year strike in Beijing. Mother took a Venetian riverboat cruise, and she enjoyed watching wanna-be Beatles bands play in throughout Great Britain. But seven months ago, she suffered a stroke and died in her sleep. In her will, she left me her money, her raincoat, and her remaining “to see” destinations. The next trip she had planned was to Tibet, so that’s where I went.  

In the wake of her death, I have felt very little sadness. As a monk, reflection devoured my time, and there wasn’t a moment for wallowing in sadness. Since coming home, things haven't felt normal, but they haven't felt tremendously sad, either. Today, seeing the ground covered in a thick blanket of snow reminded me of mother, which, to be frank, I would rather avoid.

Around 6 o’clock, I donned the raincoat and headed out for dinner at Sunnyside Up Diner. Walking in was a bit like walking into a hairdryer blowing hot air at full blast, but it was a welcomed surge of warmth.  The diner was full, and I would have left, but at this point, I was almost halfway to my ham and spinach omelet. I situated myself at the bar and looked around at the customers packed into the booths like sardines. Sardines on speed-dates. Not interested!

After a few moments of people-watching, a man sat next to me. He was skinny, very happy, and ravenous, apparently.  He started to ramble on about wanting fried chicken, his lack of girlfriends, rumors of apartment searches, and something about a hot box.
“You ever hot-boxed?” he asked.
“Excuse me?”
He told me I seemed like the “chill” type. What does that even mean?

The man’s talking only seemed to put him in a better mood, so I let him go on. Once again, my time in Tibet was proving worth it what with my overt kindness and good virtue.
“I’m Legs,” he said. I told him my name.
“Like the chocolate factory?”
“Exactly,” I said.
“Do you have any chocolate?"

My three-egg omelet with ham and spinach arrived and I started in, hoping maybe the man would continue to talk to me. He was giving me a good laugh. “Why do they call you Legs?” I asked. As he started explaining, he also began eyeing and poking my food, which I slowly began pushing away from him. My patience for this man, who I quickly realized was as high as a kite, began to wane.

But his story, the one where he explained why he is called Legs, was well worth my time and the large portion of omelet eaten from my plate.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


I was falling from the sky a hundred billion miles per hour, bracing myself for the fatal impact, and jolting awake. The clock said 4:39 am.
It was just a dream.
It was a plane crash.
You know who gets in plane crashes? Rich people. 

I fumbled around on the floor next to my bed, rifling through piles of magazines and legal documents and unidentifiable foodstuffs, trying to find the switch to turn on my lamp and my book The Catcher and the Rye. That’ll put me right to sleep.

At 8:39, the lamp was still glowing a dull, fiery yellow and my book was strewn out on my chest like the unreadable book it is. I got out of bed and drew back the curtains, peering out the window down Main Street where everyone else was going about their normal morning routine. 

Nothing feels normal yet. But maybe I should give normal a shot.

My bedroom was a mess, so I thought I would start there by making my room back to normal. I stripped my bed and gathered my dirty laundry into a big trash bag for easier transport. I grabbed 10 quarters and threw on my raincoat, just in case, and headed to the Laundromat.

It was warm outside as I people-watched and walked to the Laundromat. My mother, who had been an avid bird-watcher until she had seen all the birds she cared to see and became a people-watcher instead. The great thing about people watching is that it’s fiction. It’s not real, or, at the very least, it’s not my reality. People-watching has all the drama of a soap, and it’s happening with real-life characters. The great thing about fiction like that is it’s not my own life.

I got to the Laundromat in record slow time and found washer towards the back. I got it going and watched as my clothes and sheets got covered in soapy water. I watched them spin around and take on new forms and converge and cleanse themselves of grime. Sort of like monks, really.

There was a clamor. The man with crazy eyes had spilled the laundry detergent all over the floor at the machine to my left. People.

He looked panicked and not too able physically, so I decided to help him. The months spent as a monk were really showing in my overt generosity. Up close, the man looked verifiably insane. Big, alert-looking eyes and a bit of a head twitch. His eyes were clear but he was busy inside. I hope people don’t think I look like that too. “I’m Charlie.” Visibly shaken by something other than his spilled detergent, he responded, “God bless you for helping me. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

Having done enough to clean the pool of clear, fragrant liquid off the floor of the already-disgusting Laundromat, I stood up, and from the ground, he gave me a kind of pleading look, so I lent my arm and helped him up. “It’s Yesu,” he said. “Excuse me?” It was then that I noticed a wooden rosary about to fall out of his pocket. A Christian. That explains the crazy. “My name,” he clarified, “is Yesu.” What kind of a name is that?  

As I walked back to Dreamwood Terrace, droplets of normalcy began to return.
 …411, 412, 413, 414, 415 – I was back to my apartment. I took off my raincoat and hung it on one of the 5 hooks to the right of the door. Normalcy, the ghost of the not-so-distant past, was creeping back in. I put my laundry away and headed to the kitchen to watch the local news. The newscaster said there was a meteor shower last night. Mom would have loved to watch.