about mark flanigan

Cincinnati native Mark Flanigan has been writing and performing for over 14 years....Works from his collections Wrong-Way Poems For One-Way Streets, Not Necessarily God Stories and Next to Nothing have appeared in a variety of independent publications and, along with his performances, have garnered critical acclaim. He has also co-written a screenplay (“Midway,” with Brian Keizer), edited a literary publication (omnibscure) and worked to develop, produce and curate various gallery shows and performance readings -- notably, VOLK/c.s.p.i. and Intermedia Series readings at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Weston art gallery. Flanigan’s monthly column, “Exiled on Main Street,” appeared for over three years, first in x-ray, and upon his resignation there, at semantikon.com. Performances of his can be found on “the Volk/c.s.p.i. spoken word series CD (2001),” which he co-produced, and on the CD “One Night Only" (2002).   To learn more about his work, read his blog, review some of the works mentioned above, and listen to additional audio tracks:

Visit markflanigan.com

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mark flanigan exiled from archives

October 2007: The Dance

June 2007: Cake
May 2007: Special Edition "Light Travel" Mark Flanigan and Steve Proctor
April 2007: Zero Hour
March 2007: Prelude to a Kiss-Off
Jan 2007: State Of The Disunion Address 
Nov 2006: Youngblood
Oct 2006: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
exiled on main street archives

About Artist:

Exiled from Main Street: Savin For The Revolution
Editor's Note This work, Savin For The Revolution, constitutes the second part of the Flanigan work published in September 2005, "GOD SIGHTED ", and takes place the next day.
For your enhanced reading experience ::: Section  |--1--|      |--2--|     |--3--|
      The van reeked I tell ya, I mean it really fuckin reeked. but, man, forget the fact that it wasnt even the worst kinda reek. hell, forget it altogether if ya can cause really its not all that important, I mean I hadnt even so much as noticed it yet and Im at the wheel of the fuckin thing. yeah, what you should be thinkin about instead is this: its my first on this just the second day on the job as a goddamn valet, a day I didnt even think Id be around to see what with the night before bein just that bad. but here I am despite everything, standin in line waitin for my first car which, once there, turns out actually to be a van. and no I didnt know what to think at first when I opened the doors to find out it belonged to none other than two nuns in habit no less. shit, theres no way around not takin that as some kinda omen, I just wasnt sure how to take it. and so as Im parkin the motherfucker Im wonderin just what the hell I had come back for, if it was the right thing to do or even just worth it, really. specially since my half of the abortions already in the bag, so why come back? I mean I barely survived the first go round, its like I had odeed and had a goddamn near death experience but pulled through only to rush to do it again so as to get back soon as possible. except I aint exactly running towards the light here. shit, a fiery pits more like it. so why, right? why come back?
     and all I can think by way of reply is: shit man, theres some things I wanna do, and things no surprise require funds, you know? I mean its not like theres a million ways for someone like me to go and besides, despite some bumps in the road, a few false starts, the valet gig wouldnt ask too much from a goddamn monkey way I saw it. and no I wasnt sure what I wanted to do, just had an idea there was somethin somewhere worth doin. somethin outside the fuckin confines of this graveyard I was born into. man, things were happenin elsewhere, I was sure of it, shit was brewin and hell whose to say I wasnt holdin up the whole damn parade. I mean who knew, maybe Id be the one that lit the fuckin fuse? so the least I could do, I figured, is position myself to be there if need be, and be able to afford a decent lighter once there.
     thats what I was thinking anyway. that, and about a dream I had the night before ....all night long I was parkin cars from the comfort of my bed, on the lot thats inside my head, as if I was on a fuckin treadmill, I tell ya. and at one point, I shit you not, I had the sad misfortune of wreckin john lennons car. john fuckin lennon, man. it was depressin real depressin, I mean what kind of thanks was that, you know? and afterwards there was no shakin the little pitbull that was yoko off my ass; nothing worked, not even when I thought to quote Imagine. and so I was just livin in my head and drivin the lot while doin it as it dawns on me that theres somethin funny in the air. and no sooner than I smell it do I realize the van actually reeks, I mean really fuckin reeks, but of what? what is that? incense? and goddamn, schools out you know, I mean now Im breathin as if Im havin an asthma attack just to be sure, and shit no this aint no alma mater of mine man, cause that smell that stench, man thats fuckin pot: good god, the vans full of it, those nuns not shittin a turd between the two of em about hidin the fact. I mean they werent even tryin man, probably didnt care enough to crack a window open even.
     shit....well I guess I knew what kinda omen I was dealin with now. and if I wasnt sitting on it, I probably woulda been tryin to kick myself in the ass for so much as showin the fuck up. but instead I move on through the lot as if Im gonna loop around the other side of the horseshoe, but Im not. cause at the turn I put the van in park and first thing first start emptyin the change compartment into my pocket. yeah, a fellow valet that doubled as a goddamn guitar hero told me he bought a $1500 amp and, whats more, paid for it all in change he took from every car hed parked hell who knows how long. I mean everyones always makin fun of the guy cause heres this real dangerous rock n roller who also never went without his fuckin fanny pack. so he had his secret and, well, I didnt see why I oughtta be any different, I mean hell its just insurance on all the motherfuckin stiffs thatd be showin up I guess any minute now. like what, Im just workin the lot cause theres nothin else goin on, outta the goddamn goodness of my heart? fuck that, Id get mine, do somethin good someday like court a habit or run for office or somesuchshit. anyway, once the trays empty I look around for leftovers from our flyin nuns but they knew enough, had the decency to not just leave it out on the dash like I half expected em to. so I open the glove box and look at that, guess I aint so crazy after all cause whats smilin up at me but a silver bowl. still no bag just layin around though so I thumb through it but theres not much in there just an owners manual sittin next to a fuckin flashlight. I pick that up, its lighter than it should be and so I open the battery, let the bag fall into my lap. repeat the process in reverse and close the door behind me feeling good real good just then, what with the pipe between my knees and an eighth of weed or more sitting on my crotch, Im feelin good just then as rap rap rap someones at the goddamn passenger door: buster? oh no I say but yes its true: buster, my manager. shit, fireworks are goin off in my skull, my hearts poundin to get out of my chest but instinct kicks in anyway and I act real casual-like as I brush the shit onto the floor then smile and wave like Im excited to see him, like Id missed him even, you know just tryin to say hello hello I see you now go away. but hes already shakin’ his big head and gesturin for me to roll down the goddamn window. fuck! I do just that while glancin at the floor and preparin myself for perhaps the shortest workday ever on record.
      what you doin? he asks. nothin, I tell him. then he looks at me for awhile, says what, you fall in love with this van or something? he tries the door handle but no luck its locked. come on open up, he gestures. so I hit the fuckin button and watch as buster climbs in and then proceeds to just sit there grinnin like some kinda retarded ray charles, no doubt likin his role just soakin up the whole scene with somethin to say but not the right words to say it with yet. I mean I had mind enough to step on the bag before lettin him in but still wasnt sure if Id been too late or what, and anyway this said nothin about the bowl which was MIA, so not knowing what to do I decide not to say much and just sit there and sweat it out. and well shit, I dont know what to think as he settles into what feels like a fuckin eternity of silence. let me see that, he says finally, pointin at something with a finger that I follow to where else but the motherfuckin bowl on the floor between my feet. I know better but have no choice but to hand it to him anyway. anything in it? he asks. how would I know, I answer. he looks at me sideways, says you mean its not yours? good point, I thought. well yeah, of course its mine I tell him, I forgot to unload it before comin to work is all. thats what I was doin here, tryin to think of a safe place for it until I get off. I mean, last thing I wants any trouble, I remind him. yeah, we had enough of that last night he chuckles. and so Im sittin there just wonderin where this is all goin when suddenly big ol bad buster brown surprises even me by flicking a lighter and tokin on the motherfuckin bowl. whats more, I swear Im gonna have a heart attack as he passes both of em back my way. but I dont do anything just hold em there in my hand, tell him man I aint as stupid as I look. go on, he signals, and as I do what Im told he says you know Im glad you brought that up. whats that? I ask as I hold in smoke. the way you look, he answers. well what the fuck now, I wonder to myself, I mean everyday its something new with this prick. then I hand him the lighter and bowl and wait for whats next. yeah, those safety pins he says, they have to go if you wanna work tonight. jesus buster, I protest, you got any idea how hard those were to get in? look man, he says real serious, Im letting this slide so return me the favor, hear? yeah I hear, I tell him. buster opens the door then, and now hes not all I can hear theres the car he drove out to me idlin behind us too. thanks he says, then exits the van with my goddamn pipe still in hand.
      fuck! sure enough Id broke out in a sweat and so I wiped my brow and took a sec to think about it all: thought about what a creep the guy was, that some people shouldnt be allowed to smoke pot you know, they just shouldnt have the fuckin right. that, and how my opinion of nuns had to shift a bit now, I mean now Id hafta give em at least some amount of credit. which reminded me, so I reached down picked up and stuffed the herb in my left pocket and put it atop all my change. then I put the van in drive and drove looking for an open spot. theres one midway up the lot, I can park there and thus save my legs and so I cruise in that direction. once there I throw it in reverse, start to back in but stop short. realize this is the first van Ive ever had to park, least between two other cars, and man theres no real way of seein anything out of the motherfuckers. whats more Im thinkin nuns may very well have a line on the chronic man, these ones anyway, and its kickin in a bit now and so I sit there for a minute not movin just wishin I had brought me some fuckin sunglasses. shit, theres no way around it, Im stoned real stoned, and so I just open the door and crane my neck out to see what I can see which is nothing. fuck it, I close the door and start to ease my way into the spot, just relyin on instinct and good old-fashioned fuckin common sense to get me there. there being up against the side of one of the cars, of course. which causes me in turn to panic like a motherfucker and throw the van in drive while turnin the wheel in the opposite direction and hittin first the gas and then the car on the other side of me too. fuck! man, I look around to find I think Im alone and so race hell out of that coffin of a spot and quickly loop back around the lot where I end up pulling into a spot thats empty on both sides of it.... not far from where I had been parked earlier. I get out and walk around the van, theres still some daylight and shit a scratch on that side and fuck one on that side too, both are banged up a bit but whose gonna know, I figure. I mean by the time they come out itll be dark and too late for anyone to know any better until tomorrow. so I just write the number on the ticket as clearly and professionally as possible, driving home the fact that man, this van wasnt parked anywhere near those two cars that someone else musta hit, you know? and standin there, I then think maybe to put the pot back after all, what with this most recent development. but decide fuck it, I earned it. I mean goddamn vans, how the hell people park those things? so I cursed each and every one of em as I pumped my legs through the length of the lot, the ice broken again.

     On my way in a blonde barbiedolls tryin to wave me down. excuse me, shes callin out, excuse me she keeps at it until I slow my trot. and for a moment the mixture of her distress and my paranoia tricks me into thinkin maybe shes the owner of either one of the cars I had, only a minute ago, hit. but then I reason, man, its early yet we just opened up, so I stop. you work here? she asks. and now I have half a mind to answer no, Im just runnin late and my ribs are gettin cold, cant let that happen you know, while continuin my run in. but I dont, if only cause shes flashin me some green out of one gloved palm like shes raising her skirt. yeah I work here, I tell her. and well, I guess theres no way for me to know but I think its gotta be scribbled all over my fuckin face: Im easy Im easy Im easy, cause suddenly its like shes confessin to me that shes recently contracted herpes: well, she explains, my muffler was knocked off on the drive down, but only part of the way, and you know its just sooo embarrassing. I was wondering if youd be kind enough to finish the job?
     I sigh, pretend to be put out a bit. but fact is the twenty dollar bill shes holdin in her hand only made me that much more certain that it was gonna be a good night. hell, that and my earlier score already made it one and Id barely gotten the wrapper off the motherfucker. sure, I answer her. ahhh youre a lifesaver, she coos as she pats me on the motherfuckin head like one would a mutt. then things only get worse as I watch her tuck my promised bone back in her purse. what the fuck? I wanna scream, but dont, cause now shes looking for somethin else in there but what I can only guess: her phone number? a gun? and while still fumblin through her purse she says, rather frigidly all of a sudden, my cars over there in number one forty one, and findin what shes lookin for, the bitch then hands me a five dollar bill between two pinched fingers. shit, a gun after all. and so I stand there mouth open and unable not to gawk as she shimmies away and disappears, like all the others, under a veranda and up into the restaurant to sup at the trough with the rest of the hogs, I suppose.
     well hell, I thought. what you gonna do with a slew of teases? I mean shit, two stoner nuns and a pretty little princess, come on. and standin there all slack jawed and goat eyed, I couldnt help but be envious of em you know?--fuckin or not fuckin their way to security, whether it be false or not, and whether they be fuckin man or god. oh well, anyway the sun was too bright for it to be comin up on Christmas, and the big red bow on top of the key shack just looked out of place in all that light. still the restaurants already buzzin with somethin like holiday cheer, no matter if it seemed reserved solely for payin customers. and so I start my walk back to spot one forty one, slowly at first as I wrestle with the safety pins in my ear. that done, theres no telling why but I turn around and watch the other valets from afar, watch as they run about in their swarm at a near-frantic rate, feeding the queen bee from all sides it seemed, and as I watch em it occurs to me that theyve been put there by the players of some mad chess game, you know? fact was, though, I could play their game too, I mean I didnt even mind becomin a pawn so much if I had to. but man, its like this: not for no car, or some high on the hog dinner. no, I wouldnt do it for nothing like that. not for no big screen tv, nor for some dumb dream which was more likely a nightmare. I was different somehow, for whatever reason, and as I embraced this thought while watchin the others sweat in something of a cruel sun, well Im not sure how to explain what happened except by just comin out with it: I mean, I dont know where it came from, or who gave me the authority to do it even, but all the same man as I wiped my sweaty brow all of a sudden I saw my hand spread grace about the parkin lot, not unlike one might jam on a piece of bread, you know takin care to get it all the way to the edges. and why not, right? werent these poor bastards damn near doomed to rollin someone else’s big rocks up not so kind hills for quite some time, if not forever? and for what, a little pocket change at best? shit, and just when you think things couldnt get any worse: somehow the fuckers find a way to take the whole
thing seriously...
      but my moment as the messiah didnt turn out to be anything more than just that, a moment. after all, I couldnt afford it either. and so before long Im back on my hands and knees kickin at a motherfuckin tin can muffler, the pavement beneath me serving as something of a wake up call what with it being surprisingly cold despite the sun. I kick the thing hard, repeatedly, but the fucker dont budge. and so I stick my head underneath and shit, the mufflers fine, just fine, not a thing wrong with it aside from being old. I scratch my head a bit, think maybe to give up but then figure fuck it, Im not gonna argue with her: if the little princess wants her muffler tore off she can have it, I mean Id wrap the fucker up in Christmas paper if thats what she wanted. cause, listen, that five spot wasnt about to return into those bloody palms. it just wasnt gonna happen, not now not ever. you see, I was savin for the revolution, my friend, and well she simply wasnt.
     so I yell to the next valet I see, hey joe! give me a hand with this sunovabitch, why dont ya? and yeah, of course it had to be that guy. I mean if my day had been goin any better at all you can bet I woulda waited for someone else. cause, you see, I learned somethin about joe not long after I met him: the guy could do anything. play the stockmarket, win at the track, sell real estate. he owned a car detail service, and managed a bar. none of which even so much as mentions all the years he spent suckin off our uncle. and yet somehow despite all this, and even at well over the age of thirty, the motherfucker still spent most nights schlubbin for some goddamn valet company, and probably always would....that joe. and just now hes lookin down at me with his tanning bed face all scrunched up as I kick at a muffler. what you doin? he asks. whats it look like? I answer him. then he puts a hand on my shoulder, says hey man listen, I can get you one of those cheap, real cheap; theres no need to steal, he winks.
      I look at his hand as if hes touchin my dick instead of my shoulder. the madam requested that I take care of this for her, I tell him, doubtful that he even realizes Im mockin him. really, oh in that case, bro, youre goin about it all the wrong way, he says excitedly, looking about the lot. hey al! he then hollers, al! come here, I got a job for you! and just like that a goddamn wooly mammoth of a man trots on over, his face red and wet with sweat. I stand and watch in awe as he salutes joe, sayin at your service as he does, the whole time not sure if its all an act but assumin the worse. at ease, joe replies. and I tell ya in no time at all could you hear the clink of metal hittin pavement, the guy was just that kinda machine, a fact of course hed be the first to admit. and standin, he grunts al kurnan all done, then offers me his hand. which confuses me of course, what with him and I bein from different planets, so at first I just stare. but then I figure fuck, maybe I was wrong about the cretin? after all, its not like he hadnt given me a hand. so I give him mine, say thanks. but the longer he holds it the harder he starts to squeeze the damn thing, and before I know it I can feel it all the way down to my fuckin knees. whats he want? I ask joe. and he answers by putting a finger to his lips, to help him think better I suppose, then speaks real slow. well although I cant be sure, he says, I imagine als wondering exactly what charity hes workin for today, am I right? and he must be, cause suddenly als heads shakin like a goddamn epileptic at his peak. no way, I tell em, you gotta better chance of fingerin my dead mother then you do touchin that. anyway, I dont remember askin you to do it for me, I remind em. but al only pulls me closer, uncomfortably so as he lets out a series of short but very convincing grunts. okay, I say, Ill split it with you, but thats it! which musnt be good enough, as al does the unthinkable then and grips my hand even tighter, this fact the only thing keepin me on my feet, really. alright, alright! I scream, you sick fucks can have it! al lets go, thank god, and so with my good hand I grab the five dollar bill and chuck it into the feathery air, watchin as it lands at their feet. both of em look at it there on the ground, their heads bent down. and suddenly Im debating whether to kick in the face whichever prick decides to pick it up. but the point turns out to be moot one, man, as neither of em make any such move. no instead they look from the bill to each other and back to the bill again while sayin nothing. and stay like that until, at last, joe clears his throat and asks: you mean to tell me you went through all that for a lousy five bucks? no, I tell him, you did. then I turn around and start the jog back; after only awhile my shadow being eclipsed by a neanderthal holdin a slightly worn muffler above his head as he sprints past.

      None of which was any skin off my ass, really. I mean its not like some little setback was gonna throw me the fuck off track. theyd see, Id come out on top, they could wave up to me then for all I cared. yeah, I knew a thing or two anymore, and as the day calmed and cooled my pockets soon were bulging I mean really bulging. not with cash, so much, but with tickets instead. man, I was closin, and no one thing or person was gonna stop me from seein it through. like I said, I knew their game now and thus which pieces to protect and which to sacrifice: the key you see was to stay as late as possible, and the way to do that, park the most cars. yeah, cause the thing I realized from the night before, and from just generally thinkin about the whole stinkin enterprise really, was that no matter what you do, whether you choose to get tips from the start or park cars instead, either way youve the same amount a time to make your money. the difference being when you make it, the type of tippers you get, and the best it seemed were those who came late and closed the place, the drunks whether they be amateurs or regulars or just plain good fuckin natured making no difference to me just so long as Im there to see em. so its give up a few pawns then, the early money, for a chance at cornerin the motherfuckin king. and hell, Ive somethin like a hundered tickets, Im in the lead and by more than a neck. yeah, the checks in the mail, all I gotta do is feel out the right time start collectin, and then get in line.
      and before long that time all but picks me. a boatload of overfed cattle pile outta the restuarant all at once, more of em than there are valets, folks just standin around wavin tickets in the air with no one else around but me. sure, cars are still comin in, but I figure what the hell Ill leave my post and worse case scenario be right back. probably without even losin my place in line, as most of the others had already abandoned it anyway, havin sensed both my plan and my sheer parking prowess. so I grab a ticket outta the air and run to the shack, find the keys and hit the pavement. theres a shitload of keys on the ring, most of em for cars, so I try one. then another. then another. all the while Im makin sure not to lose my place as the last thing I want is to hafta to start the fuck over. so I try the next, that dont work either, and well now Im wonderin just how many cars do these assholes have? but then I remember what else I learned from the night before: man, when dealin with other peoples shit, if nothin else one had to be patient. theres no forcing things, you know, not when youre fuckin in a cave or blind at a gangbang, which is how it felt at times. so I relax, try another one which by my counts gotta be the last. and no surprise, it slides right in. so Im relieved but somewhat anxious that Ive taken so long, and I go to turn the ignition over but the fucker dont move. I look more closely at it, see that the keys not all the way in and so I push it (gently, mind you) in a bit, but still no luck. hell, I guess its not the one, and startin from scratch afterall, I go to pull the key out but the fucker doesnt wanna do that either. fuck! man, I thought I had tried em all, and the only one that came even close to fittin is now stuck in the fuckin ignition. it didnt make no sense, so I think well hell, maybe its the right one and its just bent or something, stranger things have happened, Im sure. in any event, Im fuckin stumped, and so I stop one of the many redshirts sprintin in my direction. hes in a hurry to secure another bite from the motherfuckin feedin frenzy that seems to be goin on just about everywhere but where Im sittin, so hes annoyed when I ask him to give me a hand. what’s the problem this time? he asks. I dont know, I tell em, the ignitions jammed. pantin, he peers in the open door. well no wonder, he says, you got a motorcycle key in it, then laughs and runs away.
      fuck! fuck! fuck! I cursed. I mean really man, I wouldnt be surprised one bit if there werent a college somewhere that offered a degree in the godforfuckinsaken art of valet. I mean I never had no motorcycle and never really wanted one neither you know, I got no problem gettin laid so why chance losing a limb, so how the hell would I know what one looks like, right? oh well. and so not knowin what to do, I just sat there and thought about my options. way I saw it, they numbered exactly zero. but Im not about to run to buster this time round, hell hed probably send me and my hundred tickets the fuck home. so I pull on the key with all my might instead, theres some play but not much, and before long I notice Im sweatin despite the fact that its damn near freezing now, and so I stop and tell myself man, youre goin about it all the wrong way. relax, I say, this aint nothing new: your down but not out, youve lost a battle but still have a war to win. yeah, so I take a deep breath and another stab, this time with a softer touch, you know just tryin to ease it out. and damn if it doesnt start to loosen up a bit as outside the car I hear voices but dont care cause like I said Im concentratin just now. come on, come on baby I talk to myself, and continue to even after I sense someones on the other side of the car door watchin me. I dont look at em though, didnt care what they wanted or had to say even: the moment was all about me against that goddamn motorcycle key and Im winnin, man, Im winning, I can feel as much. besides, I figure its buster, or worse the nuns who pot I had pilfered (realizin in no time at all what an absurd thought that was, for what could be worse than bein a nun whose pots been stolen?), or any of the three people whose car I had wrecked then. yeah, either way I sat there toolin with the key just generally fearin whoever the hell it was without payin em no mind cause its coming, man, bit by bit its comin as suddenly theres a hand on my shoulder. and so I look to see who it belongs to and am instantly relieved to find that its just the muffler lady comin, I can only guess, to thank me for a job well done.
       Id like my money back, she says instead. but I dont hear her, not really, Im too distracted with the motherfuckin key. so I keep noodling with it while I look to the woman, notice her cherry red lipsticks smeared and that she appears to have either been crying or on the verge of it. why you want your money back? I ask her. because you didnt do what you said you would! she all but screams back. fuck! I mean, what her deal was exactly I couldnt say for sure, maybe she was the type thatd be hard-pressed to pick a muffler out of a fuckin police line up, either way there was no denying al had taken care of the thing, I witnessed it myself. so I say to her, sure I did. which only makes her even more outraged, for some reason. so I figure it best to get out of the car just then so I can better pretend to know what the fuck Im doin. like hell, she spits as I do, the things still hanging by a thread! and whats worse, the woman refuses to make any room for me once Im out and suddenly were right on top of each other, face to rabid fuckin face, I tell ya. and thats exactly how we are as out of nowhere joe appears and, slidin inbetween us, places a hand on her shoulder which seems to provide some comfort at once. you have to understand, he starts to explain, miss.... hampton, she says, missus hampton. why of course, joe continues, missus hampton you have to understand that our boss wouldnt allow us to service your car in the manner requested. we apologize for any inconvenience but its simply against company policy. this gentleman—he points to me—was merely following the rules, and Im sure he will gladly return any money that you may have entrusted him with, if you so wish. I do, she says, without even hesitating. and, well, at this point Im quite fuckin confused, just struk dumb by the entire scene, the least of it bein joes ability to spin such a web without so much as fuckin blinkin. Im frozen with it, utterly fuckin unable to move any muscle other than my brain which is busy replayin it all over in some attempt to understand whats happenin. I mean I look back at em like Im not even there, havin all but forgotten the car we were standin next to and why, everythings happenin too fast for me when, bam, it hits me: we got the wrong car, we tore off the wrong motherfuckin muffler! fuck! for Chrissakes, fuck! fuck! fuck!
      come on man, joe pokes me, you heard the lady. and thus Im reminded that I was still in the game, that I was no longer watchin anymore; no, Im on the field, their field, and gettin what was left of my ass kicked. this here was the real world and, man, the real world was awaitin my next move. sure, I said, no problem. and reachin in my pocket I brought out what I had which wasnt much, four bills maybe, and every bit of it lookin like it had been run through the laundry. I leaf past the three singles and come to a five spot, peel it and place it in the womans hand. here you go, mam, I tell her, sorry about the misunderstanding. she says nothing as suddenly her eyes widen and her mouth opens, and I know before she even speaks that not only has her disgust returned, now its scaled an altogether new height. jesus, I wonder, what the fuck now? the dumb cunt got a problem with me calling her mam? or was it that Id wrinkled her precious bill which wasnt really even hers to begin with? either way, I had no doubt Id soon find out. please, she says as I watch her sneer travel from her palm to me, dont insult me. then turnin to joe she cries, Ill have you know I gave your gentleman here no less than a twenty!
      a light twinkled in joes eyes. checkmate. hell, al was already on his way, his chest billowin like a goddamn cats tail as he sprints towards us. that was it, game set match, whatever you wanna call it I recognized as much and so thats when I split, running away from the restuarant, away from al and leavin joe and barbie behind. yeah, with one muffler off and the other still hanging by a thread, I left that motorcycle key stuck there in the ignition and its owner rotting under a veranda with Christmas lights hangin overhead. thats right, I left it all behind as I ran along the railroad tracks that bordered both the restaurant and the sparklin Ohio. and, man, I kept runnin too, until the city gave way to some woods and I was sure that no one would follow, the change in my pocket jinglin with every stride. and once there, I lamented that my payday consisted of three lousy dollars and a stack of worthless tickets, a grim thought that didnt stay with me too long as I quickly realized something even worse: I could never go back, not there or any other place like it probably. the fact was, man, I couldnt play, least not good enough. whats more, that was probably the only reason why I was ever reluctant to, all the other reasons arriving only later, at my fuckin convenience. and since I couldnt play, nor could I pretend to, well those that could sensed this fact. thats why they were uneasy round me. hostile even. afraid. yeah, I was savin for the revolution and they could somehow smell it. and between them and me I guess thered always be someone around to make sure it never truly happened.
      so, winded and depressed somewhat, I sat down on an old wood railroad tie and rolled myself a joint to the best of my ability. and not long after that, with the faint sound of christmas carols off in the distance no less, I found myself wishin this was the sixties, that any moment now a train might pass by that I could hop on and head to california in; yeah, and whats more, I found myself wishing this was the sixties, and that the war wasnt already lost.

M. Flanigan

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