Firehouse Number Three
Summer 2009 ISSN 1948-1438
Contents Krysti Temples...................................................................3 Paul de Revere ..................................................................6 Basil Lucas ......................................................................11 Rayna Andrews................................................................13 Becky Baxley ..................................................................14 Helen Parker.....................................................................17 Jacob Tobin .....................................................................18
Krysti Temples Battle of Self-consciousness My college roommate/best friend/self-appointed sister sits on our red and green plaid couch, snacking on a bag of cheese puffs. I stand in front of the mirror in the 2ft by 2ft hallway of our dorm room deciding on a shirt. She laughs, spewing Cheeto’s out her mouth like the ash from Mount St. Helen. More seconds of laughing, then she calls my boobs“A- flat minors!” She’s such a music nerd. I take a second then I deliver my what? Look. My temperature rises and in my mind I say You need to stuff another SlimFast bar in your mouth instead of shoveling in those cheese puffs, bitch. . My mind is loud while my mouth remains shut. Victory is mine, as far as I am concerned. I decide on the Aerosmith T-shirt and sit next to her on the couch. “Cheese Puff?” I smile and take a handful.
Pee Station The Bainbridge Movie Gallery, on the corner of Scott Street and Hell, smells like piss tonight. No surprise considering how many potty training toddlers waddle freely across our floors, their parents too occupied with which romantic comedy to spend $4.27 on. The carpet has collected pee twicethat I know of. Once a woman told her daughter to go ahead and pee on the floor and the child obliged, opening the flood gates to piss a river straight onto our speckled gray and pink carpet. Then they just walked out without saying another word or cleaning the puddle. Great parenting skills. My manager swore that was the last damn time she cleans piss. I cannot find the location of today’s smell. It grows stronger the longer I am here. The lady at my line is having the most difficult time deciding whether the Butter Popcorn or the Absolute Butter Popcorn would be better with her Dr. Pepper and The Notebook. It’s safe to say she is lonely. Where is that smell coming from? The woman is the only thing keeping me from escaping the offensive odor. Hurry up! It’s all popcorn. It’s all the same. The Absolute Butter...nice choice. Fifteen minutes on two options. My register sounds the end of the transaction. “The movies are due back on Saturday.” I sound as cheery as an inmate in a gas chamber. The movement of placing the movies on the opposite counter and the running away from the smell become one fluid motion. I make my way to the back of the store. The door bell rings. I turn around and return to my pee station.
Musical Discomfort I sit on the bass drum case I’ve just emptied, which is my job as the drummer’s girlfriend. They play a mediocre rendition of Seven Mary Three’s “Cumbersome”, it rings through the building. It is only their second practice, first attempt at the song, which explains it – hopefully. This is where you would call me a pessimist. It’s not that really, it’s just my lack of faith in people. The guitarist is fine. A couple of wrong chords but overall accurate. He uses egotism to cover his inferiority issues. The wrong chords aren't his fault, it's God's. The drummer knows the rhythms and beats better than he knows himself. It's his life. The most important thing is kit and without them he would have no identity. And our singer, A “Drama Queen”. Whiny, sensitive, wantingno needing to be catered to. He pouts like a 4 year old girl if the band continues playing when he forgets the words. Somebody please get him a tissue. The vibrations from the slamming drums travel through my feet up to my head. This case is hard and extremely uncomfortable. The old dollar is beige. There’s a banner hanging from the roof announcing “Grand Opening”. They are just starting the third songit's no better. I wonder if they will have better luck than the store.
Paul de Re vere talentinmybackpocket.doc Something to pull out to impress folks or just impress myself when I get down and feel useless and needless and null with sloth and mirth. I could perform feats as easily as I sneeze or march against war before it actually starts. Basketball, to defy the short, white Jewish stereotype the perfect jumper, the savory three-pointer the Next Great White Hope, the New (Jew) Larry Bird Play and perform music effortlessly and writer KILLER fucking hooks like Holland/Dozier/Holland or even I'd settle to be Carl Newman from the New Pornographers but my ideal would be to be Bono or even better Prince – my Hendrix Devil Penis at the Super Bowl or, alternately, thrill small children with a one-man rendition of “I Want You Back.” Small aircraft piloting to spray crops with water and antipesticide, rescuing endangered animals, even ones thought extinct like the Lord God Bird, which I would save from a collapsing gully outside Blue Belle, Arkansas – or, for more self-serving purposes, fly myself to parties and concerts for a day trip, watching the sun rise by myself thousands of feet up – truly alone for once, the clouds my only companion, never to judge or ignore me. Keymaking on an epic level and locksmithing as well, existentially so, like the Asian dude in the second Matrix movie – epiphany keyholder – the sayer of sooth – the specter. Selfactualization key ring. The crack in the door in time you first heard the na-na-na-na na na na na na na na hey hey refrain of “Hey Jude” when were you some starry-eyed single-digit creature.
These are talents but also superpowers – transmogrification, invisibility, wall clipping and seeing through walls, not X-ray vision, but really being able to see through walls to the evil resting behind the Dixie Dumpster under the orange peels; flight, the kind of madness and creativity you get from nothingness alone in a grey and green room (to be able to do that in any room at any time) the talent, superpower and arbitrary authenticity to print like the U.S. Mint already does, to copy money. As if it would compare to metamorphosis. Transcending space-time and destroying planets like Galactus (WHAT ARE MORTAL BEINGS...?) or Shiva the God of Death (I AM>...)
Or I would totally settle for taking down Con Agra or decimating Lockheed with its own bomber or just infectiously like a virus FROM THE INSIDE The ability to corrupt corporations further reductively than their pieces have is a talent we should, and do, all have. But there are never heroes, not Apple Googling Gangs with googols of Googlegängers more numerous than their own respective search results. I'm talking talking TBs of armies of warriors, here. Only perverse pornography and gossip in whatever sphere – a talent onto itself – a cell phone talent in one's back pocket – an anonymous American – captured by a satellite miles and miles above turned into millions of xeobytes of possibilities to inanity Technology and bastardry substituting for talent and nobility. Cyberterrorism or cybersorcery? Whatever it is, slipped into a back pocket, or slack socket, of USB ports or alternating currents holes or some other Freudian gyno-phallosymbolic bullshit. .
There's never enough holes, he would say
There's never enough things to go in them.
There's never enough anything.
There's never enough oil. There's never enough RAM. There's never enough rhyme. There's never enough paper. Never enough stamps. There's never enough talent – and way too many back pockets.
O,Two Bagels,O This bagel in my body walking and eating al fresco a New York sidewalk go Jewish-Americans boiling bread so close yea in the East River dirty waters yet so far away holding ancestors, sisters, brothers I wonder about the struggle of ununion deli shifts | paperboys freelancers | publishers columnists Jew-run media being in NYC the Jews run the universe or maybe I wonder where primordial oozes the sewer lids are removed drip under me from the Dead Sea of Israel where I cannot comprehend being blown to bits A post 9.11 New York as slipstream of lox salmon swimming upriver to rocks bombs & heaven hither my destiny small as a poppyseed on a bagel mediocrity baked in an oven like nothing with a onion morsel a nothingness at the center of orobourous bagel hopeless hopeful bagel This bagel in my body
A Footnote for David Foster Wallace Here I am David Foster Wallace your initials and footnotes now as mundane as airport tag letters – I adored you and your talent and then you go and do this selfish shit – this selfish shit like this – like anyone reads anymore reads poetry or rambling prose anymore reads like you'd want them to anyway yes I thought of you as nonexistent shadow fly on the wall the wall that was the mirror-holder, money folder – persona non-grata and server – of not-yourself so couldn't you have handled it any longer? Kept your guts in your stomach, your neck out of that noose1 any longer? Couldn't you have given us any further work? Did you have to go out with such a flicker? Such a quick, quick flicker? Couldn't you have written any longer? Kakutani called you “maximalist” and I wonder if maybe you reached your maximum, that your soul and talent just outgrew your body – metastasizing cancerously – and left you and then your will left too and now you are but pure pure energy2 but you did your duty to reflect us and our fucked nature as critic and artist and it's corny and pretentious, I know, and now this poem may mean nothing, with no criticism or sting now because you are fucking dead – you hung yourself in California and I'm furious at you and sad for the world but the world isn't sad for you, you're a footnote for them – a tragic academic, young Gen Xer, who bit his own dust at his own hand. What's new?3
1 Like Ian Curtis in his estranged wife's kitchen. 2 “And body and soul doth unwind until we are but pure soul again.” 3 You were, are and will forever be more than just a footnote for me.
Basil Lucas INTERVIEW WITH CHARLES MUGGRIDGE I - Mr. Muggridge, we have less than 30 seconds left. Could you sort of wrap this up with a comment about what you think about life, about how important, valuable, it is in the large scheme of things, taking into account that there appears to be no life in most of this vast universe? Do you have a central thought that sort of boils all your theories down to their capsuled essence? That sort of gives us a truth to focus on, build on, as it wereâ€Ś M - Well, ughâ€Ś I - Oh, I'm sorry, we're out of time. Thank you so much for being with us on CRUCIAL ISSUES FOR OUR TIMES. Charles Muggridge, Founder and CEO of Humans for a Better Tomorrow. Please join us next time. Good evening. (music and cut to Viagara commercial) M - (off camera to interviewer, Norman Vincent Peek) You really threw a toughie at me there at the end. Impossible question. To sum up my theories in thirty seconds or a lifetime really. I - Well, our time is so limited, you know. We try to cut to the capsuled essence of things, you know. That's what our audience wants. The punch line, the heart of things. You go too much into the nitty-gritty and they get up and go the fridge or flip to Nascar or the Soaps. Got to stay a jump ahead of them. Well, I've got to run. Hope you can come back to see us. (handshake) M - (Exits studio, catches a cab and ponders) "A central thought that boils down my theories?" I think that central thought will be that there will never be a central point that can boil down our probe into the meaning of life. The closest we can come is to hang a few metaphors on the clothesline. (scribbles on pad) -
1. The existence of Life is an unsolvable Mystery. As long as one is a part of the Mystery he cannot back off, observe it and explain it. Within the peach seed lies the power of future peaches, but the seed is wrapped in darkness. To generate more peaches the seed is removed from the fruit and planted underground in more darkness. Out of that darkness it reaches for the light with a new seed already enshrouded in darkness. 2. If the Great Mystery boils down to anything, it boils down to a trillion different Mysteries as they appear in forms as divergent as human beings, ants, tomatoes, stones, lust, faith, treachery, oxygen, sperms, eggs, time and space and zeroes. The fact that these divergent forms can complement each other to sustain life and/or work against each other to destroy life adds mystery to mystery. 3. Life is not a novel. It is a poem, seldom lyrical and always nuanced. It is to be lived first, appreciated second, perhaps understood in part third while always searching for the next line. 4. ?
R ayna Andre ws Caution I can hear the flat resonance of rain on my windshield, See the droplets melt together and cascade down. There are shadows here, moving in strange currents. Something stirs within the angry beast of my soul. yellow. black. yellow. black. yellow. black. A sound like thunder tears from the wind. Uneven, haggard fingers of breeze curled into a fist. Ocean waves disguised in the violent spray of water. The angry beast wails and torments, all in silence. yellow. black. yellow. black. yellow. black. How much relief to close my eyes and drift away, Raindrops, wind, and lying damn ocean waves play my funeral march. Those shadows will disappear and quiet their incessant drumming, It could be nothing and silence as the beast sleeps. yellow. black. yellow. black. yellow. black.
Becky Baxle y Undeserved The boy staying with me found me crying over the flowers you sent. Suddenly, to cheer me he pitched the vase, a floral missile, through the kitchen right out through two open back doors, the kitchen door, the screen door. It landed mid-backyard, heavy glass somehow intact, blooms splayed forward, red rosey pink impact. His aim and strong throw distracted me a moment -"My god, BOTH doors! And the fucking vase didn't break!" Then, horrified, I turned away, deeply ashamed. Such beautiful flowers. Rain drove the trees down into bent old men, leering, shaking their limbs, dancing their curse.
Safety Net "Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!" ~Edna St. Vincent Millay The risk of death, injury, damage impacts perceived safety; insurance compensating damage or loss enhances the perception. But think: safety-critical systems become more and more demanding. Buildings stand abandoned, and crumbled bridges span tides; yet one by one over a few decades, a lifetime, a single individual cannot deduce risks. Safety engineering demands more than witness and time: a knowledge of the literature, the standards and customs in a field, and pain and error and horror and uninsurable loss. Thus educated, one begins to understand the value of perceived safety. Count the costs; minimize loss. Take precautions; reduce risk. Identify system failure and correct deficiencies. Install fail safes, emergency exits, connect loose connections, x-ray the crowd, deconstruct samples, peel off the outer skins, analyze every retina, thumb tip, follicle. Determine the breaking points. Define the safety margins; higher numbers require greater protocol and procedures, known ways, training, predictability. Follow the instructionals,
minimize physical stress. Use properly. Self-impose periodic evaluations, surveys, standards, and promulgations and voluntarily participate in nothing. Nothing will last, and all systems blow. In the end, the recommended compliances will bow you down, end you. Nothing gained or held but handfuls of safety; clutching hands, empty. Damn braces. Bless relaxes. ~William Blake
Helen Park er Two Poems I've tried and I've cried. I've hurt and I've lied. I have loved. I have lost. I've even stole, at a cost. been good and been bad. felt happy and I've felt sad. I got even, got mad, raised my son, with no Dad. I worry for you, you don't worry for yourself. I've never made much sense, probably never will.
ď Ą Family ties. Ties that bind. Stick together for peace of mind. At a loss. My mind is gone. Scared to safe, I'm not alone. I want thank you for a better life, this new beginning, through my crisis. Family's a blessing, glad that we're friends. You made all the difference.
Jacob Tobin Short Story Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. -Dylan Thomas It had been thirty years to the day since David Weller had left the Hotel Muran, street number 802 on the corner of Broad and Malory, Chicago, and today was his birthday. A day that for the last thirty years, there had been no party, no celebration, family or friends, no post cards or greetings, phone calls or hand shakes. That is the way it had always been for David at the Muran, and so far this morning had been no different. But David did not care. He would not have even remembered was it not for the large, generic calendar hanging on his kitchen wall that told him that in fact, it was November the eighth, 1986. His sixty-seventh birthday. Lately it seemed as if the years were piling onto his shoulders, weighing him down. Thirty years. Ten-thousand-nine-hundred and fifty days of the same, meticulous schedule. One-thousand-five-hundred-sixty-four and twenty-nine one-hundredth weeks of waking up at 7:15 a.m., rolling towards and getting off of the right side of his four poster mahogany framed feather bed, sidling towards the kitchen where his preprogrammed coffee maker had a fresh pot ready, where he noted the day on the calendar, neatly xâ€™ing off the day before, and proceeding to the bathroom, grabbing his robe, and then looking himself in the mirror while the shower water heated up. Today David looked closer than usual. It was his birthday. Sixty-seven years was a long time, long enough to turn his tousled
hair grey and to wrinkle his long face. He was unshaven, and his lips cracked from the dry fall weather. He turned on the faucet and watched the water swirl down the drain and he wondered. He wondered why nobody cared. Why he had not had a conversation with anyone for over ten years. Why he felt so cold. Why he was alone. David Frederic Weller was not living. He was killing time, waiting or nothing, day after day with not a thing to look forward to but the day next. David did not read or go out. He did not own a television. He did not talk. He had no one to talk to. He did not express his emotions with art or creation because he felt nothing. But there was no answer. No reason for the numbness he felt and no reason for the absence of compassion. There was only the truth. That David Weller was waiting to die. This frightened him, but he grasped onto that fear and savored it because fear is an emotion, fear is a way of feeling, of understanding. He looked at his hands as he splashed his face and turned off the faucet. Thirty years. Thirty years since anyone had felt their touch. Except for the piano in the lobby of the Muran, which was Davidâ€™s job to play. He was very skilled and he had mastered every major composer from the Romantic Period and before, not to mention the jazz standards he has committed to memory. But despite how much he once loved the art, he had become detached from it as well. Ten hours a day, not including balls and client hirings, for thirty years, Eighty-seven-thousand and six-hundred hours on the hand crafted oak bench sitting before the pride and joy of Ignaz Pleyel, the first choice instrument of Frederic Chopin and the assigned tool of David Weller, a Pleyel Grand piano. Eighty-eight authentic elephant tusk ivory plated keys weighted perfectly for Davidâ€™s touch and 173 copper wound steel strings to be hammered at his demand. Three brass pedals, worn from use, attached to sustain and damper mechanisms, and the soundboard positioned flawlessly over it all, made of solid beech wood that is planed and sanded to perfection. All of which would be rendered pointless, Was it not for Davidâ€™s touch. The excitement of this concept wore out long ago for David.
What he once felt was him pounding his emotions into sound was now nothing more than pushing buttons, and the sounded emotions were not his own, but of those like Franz Liszt, or Debussy, or Pachelbel. Men he did not know, more the less shared feelings with. So day in and day out David played the requests of the hotel manager that were slid under his door every morning. And he did not complain. He asked no questions as the people walk on, seemingly unaware of a piano being played. They laughed, talked, interacted. They shared feelings. They conveyed emotion. David just watched. He watched the people, some regulars, some tourists, but all wealthy. Women in mink coats and shrewd little men in tailored suits. CEOâ€™s and political leaders no doubt. It did not take a genius to see the Muran was a high end hotel: One-hundred and one floors of thousands of cookie cutter rooms all with the same bland floral wallpaper, king size bed, his and hers bathrooms decorated with contemporary chromatic colors and art deco shapes, a small tiled kitchenette connected to a sitting room with one leather recliner, one love seat and a full-size sofa strategically placed with cherry wood end tables and ottomans on top of a plush cream colored carpet and around a mock fireplace, and for exterior rooms, a fifteen by twenty foot balcony overlooking the city. This is where David was now, sipping his one cup of coffee and smoking his one cigarette like he did every morning, and had been doing for what was then thirty years. Someone knocked at the door. ** There lived a kind Russian man next to David. A very seasoned tenant, he had been there since before David, living out his humble existence with two quiet birds and a genuine library of hardbacked and ancient-looking books. Besides smiles and nods there was no conversation between them. David had never heard the man speak; David had never spoken a word to him, but that did not mean there wasnâ€™t some sort of innate fondness for the man, an admiration for the calm repose and silent sagacity of his unbroken patterns. Every morning in the summer David heard a window slide open in the manâ€™s sitting room, and in the winter he heard the click of the heater and the whistle of a kettle. Every day, about an hour after, at the same time as David, the man departed from his residence, gently closing his door and soundlessly locking it. David in his suit,
the man bundled in coats, they walked and shuffled a safe distance apart, never sharing the same elevator, never sharing a word. Their relationship, if there was one, was nonverbal. So when David opened his door to see the man hunched there with his immaculate and messy white hair and stunningly colorless eyes, holding a small round cake and smiling an indisputable smile, David took a minute to smile back. “Hello. I live right over here I ah--” “Of course, of course. I.. Yeah.” David did not know what to say. “I thought I’d bring you this, it’s fresh.” “Well thank you very much thank you I don’t know what to say this is... Unexpected.” “Oh,” and he laughed a wise laugh, “well we’ve lived here next to each other for how long and I’ve never introduced myself. I felt it only right that I should…” he held a hand out, balancing the cake in the other, “Emile.” “David.” “Well, it’s nice to meet you Da-” And as his soft warm hand began to release David‘s, the plate tipped and slid from his grip, shattering the quietness of the hall and causing the man to lose his smile and sigh, rubbing his fingers, “Curse these hands. I tell you they shake like Helena. Oh, Lord.” “Oh it’s okay it’s okay I’ll call the front desk.” “No no no no no, don’t dream of it, I’ll just take care of it.” “Are you sure?” “Of course I’m sure. It’ll take only a minute.” And he hurried back to his room. David left his door open and went inside, putting some coffee on the burner, and by the time he walked back out to help, the floor was clean and the man was waddling back down the hall, clutching an aged looking straw broom in the crotch of his arm and a dust pan, piled with cake and plate shards, shaking dangerously in his two hands, “That was quick.” “Well I’ve had a lot of practice lately,” over his shoulder, “these shakes come over me sometimes. Old body of mine.” David stepped inside again, now taking two cups from his cupboard. He heard Emile shuffle towards his room and knock on the still-open door. David invited him in and sat him down across from him and they began to talk. They sat, and they talked. They sat in one of thousands of identical sitting rooms and talked the talk of strangers, nothing important, and nothing new. The old man spoke of his age, weather, people, and David mostly listened, becoming more fond for
the man as he spoke. By the end of their small conversation David began thinking more than listening. Thinking about the man’s condition. And he began to find pity. Pity for the man’s aching body, his age. Pity for his birds, and pity for his books, the calmness of his voice, and the repetitiveness of his patterns. Pity for his content. The man had lived there for forty-six years, waking every day to rise from his goose-down bed, step to the sitting room to feed his birds, start the heater or open a window on the way to put a kettle on the stove, and read while waiting for the water to boil. Forty-six years. And he was content. David walked him back to his room and went to work. ** Waking the next day was just as easy as on any other. David carried out his routine, and after showering he sat and reviewed the hotel manager’s requests while sipping coffee on the balcony. He thought of the old man’s visit and he thought about how sorry he was for him. And then David realized he hadn’t heard the old man’s noises that morning. His neighbor was quiet. The man who he met yesterday, whose movements he heard every morning for thirty years, was quiet. David walked to the hallway and knocked at his door with a single knuckle. “Emile?” There was no noise from inside. “Mr. Emile, are you in there?” Again there was no answer. David suddenly became anxious. “Mr. Emile, I need you to answer…” He became louder. “Please. Mr. Emile!” Silence. “Please!” David began Twisting the knob with white knuckles and beating the door with red fists, screaming at nothing,
“Wake up!” “Wake up!” “Wake UP!” And then, kneeling on top of endless carpet in front of a nondescript door, in a maze of endless hallways, without knowing why or how, He wept. “wake” “up.” And he cried. ** Wiping tears from his eyes, David dialed the manager’s office from his room. “Hello.” “Mr. Beal. It’s David.” “Why hello Mr. Weller, I missed you this morning, where are you? There’s music to be played.” “Mr. Beal?” “Yes, David?” “I quit.”
Contributors Krysti Temples is a student at Bainbridge College, English Major, band geek and almost manager at Movie Time. Paul de Revere is a one man warrior music critic. He is a Journalist from Tallahassee, FL where he works in security keeping people safe. Basil Lucas is advisor to the Bainbridge arts council and local treasure. He is the bearded bard of enchantment. Rayna Andrews is a Bainbridge College student and mother of three. Her sons describe her as the awesomest. Becky Baxley is a Tallahassee poet whose work experiments with the boundaries of the possible. She seeks to communicate beauty through the inherent uncertainty of text. Helen Parker is a Bainbridge College student and single mother just trying to get by. Jacob Tubin is a Bainbridge High School senior with aspirations to the big city. His prose is deft and promising. He was the first runner up in the Bainbridge College High School essay competition.