Friday, January 2, 2015

The Diary of Mitch R. Singer


In a tenement house, hoodlums and vagabonds loitering
"What is time but a playground for gods?" I write and write, my typewriter keys pounding a primal rhythm, music set to my fevered dreams. This place has gone to hell--the wallpaper is covered in mold, and the carpet is littered with stains of blood--but I like it; hell, I welcome the squalor. It helps me concentrate on some diseased level; it helps me tap into the rotten core of existence. They deal crack and stronger drugs outside on the stairwell, bargaining with sex and stolen funds. Sometimes I come out of my apartment with a naked machete, my eyes red from lack of sleep and caffeine, and I make bizarre threats. They either laugh or hurl curses at me. They are all cowards. When I publish my novel, I will move to an even worse place.

In the sewer
I appropriated this room from rats as large as corgis. A candelabra hangs from the ceiling, stolen from a box car I found in the depths. The mole people won't come up this far, so I'm good as far as they're concerned. My little radio somehow gets reception through fifty feet of concrete. I listen to NPR and snicker while I eat canned ravioli by the light of a burning trash can. You have to be careful with fires down here. Gases get trapped; air isn't plentiful. The smoke can bring the wrong sort of friend. The last time I met one of the mole people, I had to kill him with a wrench. His eyes were red, the color of a demon's. I think they found something terrible down in the depths. I don't care, though. I'm a subterranean creature now.


Hanging out in a gazebo with my deadbeat friends
Andre dances the knife across his knuckles, showing off. I take a sip of beer from the bag and laugh with all the rest. It's about three o'clock in the afternoon; children are playing on the playground, and we're eying the mothers, trying to figure out how easy they are. One of them is scared; she takes her kid and starts walking down the street. Andre follows her, along with me and another. They yell catcalls, vulgar things, crude words that have ugly meanings. Eventually, they corner her in an alley. Andre tells me to go take the kid somewhere. I take the little brat around the block, but she starts crying and I feel bad. I try to smother the emotion with a blanket of ambivalence, but it just ain't happening this time, for whatever reason. We get back early and Andre has his pants down around his ankles. I hear the kid ask a question, and suddenly Andre is coming toward her, a vapid expression on his scarred face. He pushes me out of the way. I look at the mother and at the ugly face of my crony, and somehow I've got Andre's neck in my arms. It only takes a second--one quick snap--and he's on the ground, dead as a piece of meat. My crony looks shocked. The kid goes back to her mother and I take Andre's knife. Something that's been dead in me for years has just been shocked back to life.     

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