Archive for grateful

Living in the Surreal ..

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/14/2013 by Angel D. Vargas

Life is surreal.

“Surreal” isn’t a term I really like. When I use it, I feel like I’m dumbing down a process through which some major epiphany has granted me the power to move on with my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life with a fresh, “up with people” perspective.

But if you had been in the neighborhood of 125th and Lenox in upper Manhattan at about a quarter to six this morning, life would have seemed pretty surreal to you too.

I was sleeping next to my girlfriend. She awoke in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Everything seemed normal. She crawled back into bed next to me and we remembered that it was Sunday and that we really like snuggling together and talking under the covers during a lazy weekend. It helps us remember what matters, even if it’s just a moment in time.

Not five minutes after she came back to bed, a horrible sound of crunching metal and plastic erupted just outside the apartment. It seemed to rattle the bedroom window.  I didn’t know what the sound was. I wasn’t awake enough to make sense of it until a horrible screeching noise followed. Rubber scraped against asphalt, and the squeal seemed to echo into eternity.

“Jesus Christ!”

I think I might have said that twice. I said it once before we both sprang from the bed and ran to the bedroom window to see what had happened. Even now, the fucked up visual doesn’t make any sense without context. I said it again after I told my girlfriend that I had to go take a major piss.

Why I decided to go relieve myself at that moment is still a bit beyond me. All I remember is that I was nauseated, and I still didn’t understand what had happened.

I also recall my knees shaking like the leaves of a quaking aspen in the wind. I sat down on that toilet seat and put my head between my sweating hands. I might have stayed like that for minutes or hours. I didn’t really know or care.

Eventually, I stood up and washed my hands. Like some character out of the show Supernatural, I thought I smelled a Reaper in the air.

I was sure that death lingered close by, waiting to claim the lost soul of the victim of a freak accident.

“Jesus H. Christ!”

I got back to the bedroom and stood next to my girlfriend. She seemed more than willing to give me a blow by blow of what was going on out there.

“Nobody’s gotten out of either car yet.”

“Motherfucker.”

In all honesty, I don’t recall saying that last word. I don’t remember much of what was said after that. But as the haze and the shock of the accident seemed to lift from around us both, things started to fall into place. Out the window, on our side of the street, we only saw two cars. The first one was a silver Charger with its back turned to us like a wounded dog hiding its face.  The second car was sort of sitting to the right of the first. It was a green SUV that didn’t appear to have been even been scratched, at least not from our vantage point. The only thing that seemed to have happened, in fact, was that the SUV was nudged a few feet out of its parking spot.

It made no sense. Such a horrible crash followed by a rubber screech that lasted for at least three seconds just didn’t do … what we saw.

But time ticked by. Some of the neighbors from across the street turned on their bedroom lights and peeked outside like we were doing. Thanks to them, I felt a little better about being some sort of voyeur. The cops were on the scene immediately. The fire department came minutes later. EMT’s never showed. That struck us as odd until we came to the most important conclusion.

Nobody died.

I thought for sure someone was going to buy it. For about a nanosecond I was disappointed. I can’t lie. I’m a horror writer.

Then the stomach ache began.

About an hour later, all sorts of things had happened. The driver of the silver Charger, wearing a black shirt with green writing on it, angrily shouted into his cell phone that the car for which he was responsible was a “fucking wreck.”

“What de’ hell I’m ‘a do wid ‘dis shit?”

His friend, a shorter man with a grey tee shirt on, seemed to be the voice of reason.

“Look, dude, least you’re alive.”

And that was what mattered. When other details fell into place, we learned that nobody, in fact, was dead. A third car was apparently involved in the accident. That unknown driver may or may not have been at fault for the entire catastrophe. We never really got to figure that much out.  A tow truck driver couldn’t even tow the silver wreck out of the way in one try. His truck’s hook lost its grip on the wreckage twice.

I grinned. And call me sadistic, but I was thankful I wasn’t going to have to figure out how to pay for THAT repair bill. The driver and his friend drank two cups of coffee purchased at the deli just below our window.

My girlfriend and I  went back to bed. We didn’t fall asleep right away, of course. We talked about the accident. We talked about how our weekend was going before the crash, and how it might go afterwards. Things like money and job woes don’t matter as much when you’re thankful just to be in one piece. That lesson sinks in deeper when you’re with loved ones.  The problems might not go away, but their importance in the grand scheme of the universe dwindles.

I just got through sending out something like 6 job aps. I took a break to watch a show. I thought about my latest submission of a short story to a magazine for consideration. My girlfriend’s out teaching a dance class. We still have lives to live and things to do to survive in this city. She still has to talk to her dad about her insurance costs, and I still want to start writing the latest chapter for my online serial. At least I know she’ll come home in one piece, and we’ll have an easier time figuring out how to scrounge up enough money for dinner together tonight.

There’s a cat purring in my lap too.

Surreal or serene? Take your pick.

I’m Grateful to Horror…

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/28/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

I stood in my shower this morning, letting the cold air hit my naked body for a full three minutes before I could muster the energy to turn my water on.  I’d been up since six AM, and sleep didn’t seem likely to return.   The sandman’s visit, much like my patience with myself these days, was all too short.

 

I didn’t even know what to do with my body when the water started to make the pipes in the walls rumble dangerously.   A high pitched “screeaaal” signaled the eminent burst of water through the shower head.  That first explosion is always cold water.  I know better than to just stand in front of the shower head at this point.  This morning, though, I just couldn’t bring my tired hand up to block the cold dagger that slashed at my cheeks.  I started though, shifting my feet under me while the wet porcelain squeaked beneath.  I let the water warm up as it simply flowed over my tired, shaking body.

 

I was in no mood to be awake.  In truth, I could have turned off the water, gotten out, thrown my clothes back on and jumped back into bed.  But sleep felt like a lost cause.  So here I was, getting ready for day, for a world that I didn’t think had any business asking anything of me for the next fucking week.  I looked down as streams of water cascaded off my thighs and my shoulders, and I laughed like a 4 year old who’d just noticed that “water go down the hoooooole.”

 

I wondered what aspects of my being were also going down the drain other than the dirt from under my bare feet and a couple of million dead skin cells.   I pictured my sense of self, my notions of justice, my ability to love and my tolerance for the rest of the world as lithe beings of white light that coagulated at the drain before the small whirlpool sucked them all down, their tiny hands reaching for the sky, their bodies quivering in a desperate bid for survival.

 

I cried at that moment.  A funerary dirge played in my head as my body shook with silent grief.  It sounded a lot like the theme song I once heard from from the movie Platoon.  Samuel Barber was a fucking genius, but I wanted to kick him for it.   My brain chugged into gear at that moment like an old Ford truck having “one of them fuckin’ days.”  I began to ponder what else was going to go down that drain before this shower even began in earnest.

 

Steam started to come up around my feet before I realized I wasn’t even standing under the shower head anymore.  I took a deep breath and counted backwards from ten.  It was a practice I’d started in High school whenever my little brother would wake up and have a temper tantrum outside my bathroom door as I got ready for the day.  If I couldn’t get to the number “one” and think of something that would make me smile or look forward to my day, than I would keep counting until something sprang to mind.

 

On some of those mornings I must have counted for a good ten or twenty minutes before anything came to mind.

 

My right eye socket started to throb before I took a deep, shaky breath.  A tiny taiko drummer was inside my head, beating my skull exuberantly.  I wanted to flay him.

 

And then it suddenly hit me.  My tears had washed down the drain as well.  Anger, sadness, loneliness, and the sense that I’m not good enough all had shot through me and released themselves through the acid burn of my eyes.  Salty heralds of my pain had had their chance to go unchecked, and yet they too were sucked down by the great equalizer that was my bathtub’s metal circle of death.  The Titanic might has well have struck an iceberg in my fucking bathtub for all it mattered.  I didn’t have the strength to rescue anyone.  But then I pictured all the passengers as nameless representations of some of the many things that have weighed me down of late.  I realized then that I didn’t want to find a life preserver for anyone other than myself.

 

What other passengers could I picture on this sinking ship of insanity?

 

What other passengers would you all picture on such a ship?

 

 

The horror writer in me simply laughed at the hapless passengers on my own version of the Titanic as they sank into the watery depths below.  That sense of the macabre, believe it or not, brought me back from true despair.  If I could bottle that and sell it to some of the people who have entered the horror-writing contest over which I’ve presided as judge, I would fucking do it in a heartbeat.

 

A crowd gathered then in my bathroom.  A werewolf chewing on the hilt of a sword, a tragically deranged mountain man with a leather mask, succubi in training for their next fatal seduction, the things that live in the cellar, vampires, zombies, and even a boy with glasses giving a certain movie “three thumbs up” all pulled back my shower curtains curtains and gawked at me.  The mountain man cocked his head to the side as he stared.  Two naked succubi looked me up and down lasciviously.  The little boy’s glasses glittered after he gave me the finger..

 

And I guffawed stupidly before coughing up the water that I’d suddenly inhaled.

 

Now I sit here in silent thanks for the existence of horror as a form of entertainment.  It may be a weird thing to be grateful for, but I’ll toast to it all the same.  Besides, I know that a certain someone who keeps showing up and laughing behind my back as I type this doesn’t drink…wine.

 

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