Page 1


An Age of Monsters © 2011 by William Taylor Jr. Photography © 2011 by Julie Michelle. Exterior Art © 2011 by Pablo Vision. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles and reviews. First edition. Printed in Canada.

Editor: Wolfgang Carstens Interior: Wolfgang Carstens Photography and title page: Julie Michelle Exterior: Pablo Vision ISBN: 978-1-926860-08-4 For more information about An Age of Monsters (and other books and publications from Epic Rites Press) please visit the Epic Rites website at www.epicrites.org, address: Epic Rites Press, 240 – 222 Baseline Road, Suite #206, Sherwood Park, Alberta, T8H 1S8 or contact Wolfgang Carstens at epicritespress@gmail.com.

Epic Rites Press: “because all our fingers are middle ones” ™


The

author would like to thank the following publications in which some of these pieces originally appeared: • • • • • • •

Cement Boat Epic Rites Journal Mudrock: Tales and Stories The Loin’s Mouth Tree Killer Ink Red Fez Up the Staircase


Contents The Bastards Were Everywhere and Would Endure ................................................................................9 Tuesday Morning at the Sad Motel ................19 Big John’s Last Summer .......................................33 The Legend of Eddie and Lola ..........................47 The Plastic Snowman .............................................63 Frida Kahlo’s Corpse ...............................................71 My Hemingway Dream ...........................................77 The Last Time I Saw Greta ..................................81 The Candles ................................................................107 Working .........................................................................113 An Age of Monsters ................................................123 Lives of the Poets .....................................................131 Waiting for Sal .........................................................147 My Pretty Green Eyes ............................................155 Lives of the Poets II ...............................................169


The Candles


It was late Tuesday afternoon as Randall stepped into the comforting darkness of The Saloon, and at first glance everything was pretty much the way it was supposed to be; Jack was behind the bar and Susie was three stools down with her Bloody Mary. It was a few moments after sitting down and ordering his beer that Randall noticed the candles. There were little red candles scattered across the surface of the bar, and they were burning. “Hey, Jack,” he said to the man behind the bar, “what’s with the candles?” Jack was a short, stocky man with cropped white hair and arms covered with tattoos of varying quality. He was often gruff, but rarely unkind. Jack looked up from the glass he was drying and said, “Rebel. They’re for Rebel. She’s been gone a year, now.” “Oh,” Randall said, “shit.” He looked at the photograph of Rebel that hung on the wall behind the bar. Beneath the photograph were the dates of her birth and death. Sure enough. Jack poured them both a shot of whiskey and said, “Here’s to Rebel.” Randall repeated the phrase and they both drank their shots. Rebel had never been Randall’s favorite bartender and he honestly had all but forgotten the fact of her existence, but now, being reminded of it, he found the fact of her absence troubling once more. Randall had been a regular at The Saloon for just over five years now. He was there most every day after work, and he was there on the weekends, too. He was there as often as he could be. It was lonely at home and there weren’t many other places he particularly liked to go. The feel of The Saloon calmed him, the steady predictability of it. He liked sitting in the darkness of the bar, gazing out into the light of the afternoon. He liked to watch it slowly give way to evening. It gave him a safe and comfortable feeling, a gentle sense of peace. He didn’t strive for much in life other than that feeling.

109


Most afternoons the same people were there, sitting at the same stools: Big Rex, Fred, Susie and Jill. Sometimes George and Eleanor. He liked them all well enough, even the ones he didn’t much care for. And there were the occasional tourists, most of them pretty girls and their boyfriends, drawn to The Saloon because of its status as the oldest bar in San Francisco (it survived the 1906 quake) and its reputation as being a good, old fashioned dive. The tourists were usually okay. Sometimes they bought Randall drinks and had their pictures taken with him. He was a genuine barfly, after all, like the ones they’d read about in books and seen in movies. Randall sipped at his beer, troubled with thoughts of the anniversary of Rebel’s passing. Randall liked it best when things were the way they were supposed to be, when nobody was dying or recently dead. It was pleasant that way, and there was no good reason for things to be any other way. He didn’t understand the need for people getting sick and dying, and all the other things that happened out in the world. It all just made him think that God was either weak or just plain mean. Either way, what good was God? It troubled Randall to think about it, so he avoided doing so. He remembered how after Rebel died it was some months before everything began feeling normal again. Eventually people stopped talking about it and things settled back into feeling pretty much like they were supposed to. Then, just as Randall’s sense of peace had all but returned, Johnny Nitro went and died as well. They found his body in his room above the club, his bad heart having finally given out. Johnny Nitro and his band had been playing blues every weekend at The Saloon for as long as Randall could remember. Now there were different bands on the weekends. None of them were as good as Johnny Nitro, but some were okay. Randall finished his beer and looked at Johnny Nitro’s picture on the wall. It was up there to the left of Rebel’s. There

110


were pictures of other people up there too, people that Randall didn’t recognize. He figured they must’ve died before his time. Jack asked him if he wanted another beer, and Randall said, “You know it, Jack.” Susie got up to put some songs on the jukebox and she scowled at Randall as she passed, like she usually did. Randall scowled back, as was his fashion. Susie played the kinds of songs that she usually played and Randall nodded and hummed along as he started in on his new beer. After the songs were done Randall said, “Hey Jack, watch my beer?” Jack nodded and Randall got up from his stool and walked out into the alley. He stood in the alley, smoking a cigarette as he leaned against the wall. Big Rex drove up on his motorcycle and parked it on the sidewalk near the entrance to the bar. Randall gave Big Rex one of his cigarettes and they stood smoking together in the alley. “Helluva day,” Big Rex said. “Not bad,” Randall assented. It was May and the sky was above them and blue as anything. The sun was just warm enough. A group of women walked past and Big Rex and Randall followed them with their eyes. “Damn,” Big Rex said. “That’s what I’m talking about,” said Randall. The women giggled and whispered and kept walking. Randall and Big Rex finished their cigarettes and walked back into the bar. Randall sat back down at his stool and Big Rex sat beside him and ordered a beer and a whiskey. “What’s with the candles?” asked Big Rex. “Rebel,” said Randall, “she’s been dead a year, now.”

111


“Fucking Rebel,” said Big Rex and then shot back his whiskey. Myron popped out of the back room and nodded at Randall and Big Rex. Myron was the owner of The Saloon. Myron looked like he always did, shuffling about the bar like a nervous ghost, never really saying much to anyone. Randall liked the fact of him there. It made him feel generally better about things. Randall liked to call Myron “Rasputin” because of his formidable beard. “Rasputin,” Randall said. Myron ignored him and went about his business, just as he usually did. Jill walked into the bar and stood behind Randall as she ordered a Gin and Tonic. She patted Randall on the back and said, “How ya doin’, babe?” “Okay, Jill,” Randall replied, “I’m doing pretty okay.” Randall liked Jill and the way she patted him on his back and asked him how he was. He liked the way she called him ‘babe.’ He drank his beer and gazed at the little red candles burning on the bar in front of him. He decided he liked the candles, too, and already knew he would miss them when they were gone.

112


About William Taylor Jr.

William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His poems and stories have been widely published in the independent press in publications including Poesy, The Chiron Review and The New York Quarterly. He is the author of the poetry collections Words for Songs Never Written (Centennial Press, 2007) and The Hunger Season (Sunnyoutside, 2009). An Age of Monsters is William’s first collection of prose.


Also from Epic Rites Press

A Bellyful Of Anarchy by Rob Plath Hellbound by David McLean The Broken And The Damned by Jason Hardung Doing Cartwheels On Doomsday Afternoon by John Yamrus Dead Reckoning by Todd Moore Crudely Mistaken For Life by Wolfgang Carstens Laughing At Funerals by David McLean The Epic Rites Journal: Building A Better Bomb There’s A Fist Dunked In Blood Beating In My Chest by Rob Plath Blood And Greasepaint by Karl Koweski Can’t Stop Now! by John Yamrus Crunked by Jack Henry We’re No Butchers by Rob Plath Frostbitten by Mark Walton

www.epicrites.org

AN AGE OF MONSTERS  

LOOK INSIDE

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you