All posts by Andy

Two Pieces of Eight

This is a short story I wrote back in 2009. If you want to know where the phrase “two pieces of eight” comes from, check out this link: WiseGeek.com – What Are Pieces of Eight?

–Andy

 

I was peering through the layers of neon light which were splashing around like children in one of those phony plastic pools when she interrupted me.

“Care for a dose?” she said.

She was standing beside me and my barstool, dressed in a full-bodied mechanics uniform. The nametag said Mel. She held a tray with an array of miniature baby bottles, each filled with black liquid.

“I’m not into that sort of thing, Mel,” I said.

“Mel’s not my real name.”

“I did not mean to imply that it was. I was just being polite.”

Her hair was long and red and very curly. She was not incredibly attractive, but she had a button nose. Not that a button nose has ever had any particular impression on me, whether positive or negative.

“What are you doing there?” she asked. Her voice had a slight accent, one of those small-town-accents, and I may have been able to place it if I’d ever paid attention to such things.

“Where are you from?” I asked her.

She told me and I let what she said roll right out of my head. Then I said, “I thought this was a strip club. Not that it matters.”

“You haven’t answered my question,” she said.

She seemed short, but I wasn’t sure how high my barstool was. Maybe she was tall.

“Which question?” I asked.

“The only one you haven’t answered.”

“I’m… how shall I say it? I’m de-rusting quarters.”

I turned to the bar in front of me where I had a row of five pint glasses, each filled with a unique, clear concoction which I am under contract not to name, and a shiny quarter standing on edge at the bottom of each glass. Floating atop the liquid in each glass was a thin layer of dark brown flakes of rust.

“Actually, they’ve been in there much too long,” I said.

“Sorry to distract you.”

I ignored her, since I’ve never much liked people who apologize when it is not needed, and I picked up the thin metal spatula that I had lying on a towel. I scooped the layer of rust off the top of each glass and tapped all the dark flakes onto a napkin, making a small black mound. Then I took my tongs and plucked out each quarter in turn, shaking the drops off and then placing them into the left pocket of my long coat. Then with my hand I took out five dirty, rust-encrusted quarters out of my right pocket and plopped one into each glass.

“Why do you feel the need to do that?” asked the girl who was not Mel.

I’d honestly forgotten that she was there. “I thought this was a strip club,” I said, trying to change the subject. “Not that it matters.”

“You keep saying that. Are you sure it doesn’t matter?”

I took a moment to peer around the neon-lit bar. “There are women on stages dancing around poles. They’re all wearing many layers of clothing, and all look rather plain. What’s this place referred to as?”

“What’s with you and names?”

“Maybe I like names. Categories. Organization.”

“Do you?”

I shrugged. “Not really.”

“Should I leave you alone?”

“No. But maybe.”

“You don’t like people, do you?”

“I don’t. But I’m also afraid of being alone.”

I couldn’t believe I’d just said such a thing. Never do I give away such measures of my life, and certainly not to strangers, which includes everyone. I wished to collect my quarters and leave, but the coins were in the midst of their de-rustification and I couldn’t bring myself to disturb them. I could just leave, I thought. Cut my losses and go. My body heard these thoughts and wrapped its feet around the legs of the barstool. Because this was not about me, it never was, and my body knew that more than anyone else. My body was never one to stray from a path it had started upon. Stupid and noble, like a dog. I never liked dogs much, but I don’t mind my body most of the time.

She touched my shoulder. The back of her hand was smeared with grease and oil.

“I could fix you,” she said.

“What?”

Her thighs pressed up against my leg and the heavy pocket full of quarters swung to and fro below us like the pendulum of so many grandfather clocks. “I said I could… fix… you.” And when she said the word fix her teeth scraped so slowly over her bottom lip that I had no choice but to imagine those white soldiers of bone raking across my own jaw, my chin, my cheek bones. I wobbled in my seat as my chest began to lose its footing underneath my shirt.

“I can do that,” she added, setting the tray of bottles on the bar.

“I – I thought – thought this was a strip club,” I said. Shit-shit-shit! Why’d I come here? What is this place? The quarters and the pint glasses swam around in the corner of my vision. I was getting light-headed and losing circulation in my feet which were latched on to the rungs of the barstool, anchoring me with such passion to a completely unanchored object.

Then her hand was on my forehead, like a mother checking a child for a fever.

“Don’t do that,” I said. “You mustn’t.”

Her mouth opened wide like a snake’s and my forehead unhinged and swung open underneath her hand, leaving my head’s inner parts naked and unprotected. From the darkness between her lips emerged a gleaming metal arm which was actually more like an oversized wrench with an elbow, slick with dripping saliva as it reached up to that unknown territory above my eyes.

Then my hands were on her face, trying to push her from me, my barstool rocking beneath me up onto two legs, my feet still anchoring me to it. I pulled my head away from the metallic extension, dodging this way and that as sticky saliva and grease drooled onto my face. Realizing that my fate and the fate of the operation were fused with the events of the next several seconds, I reached through the cloud of morality and conscience that I keep as a wall around my person and grabbed at her chest, half-blinded I was by the excessive amounts of saliva running through my eyes. I had closed the small gap between us by doing this, and the wrench-hand slipped into the opening in my forehead, gripping on tight to the things inside, but not before I grabbed the nametag on her uniform and ripped it off.

She began choking and coughing, each spasm traveling across the metal arm and severely loosening the things in the top-most section of my head. I struggled to pull the cursed thing out of me, but every moment found me weaker than the last. My feet unhooked from the barstool and in a last-ditch effort I and my body teamed up, putting a foot on her chest and shoving with every drop of strength we had left. I pulled free of her and she slouched sideways onto the bar, and the end of the wrench-arm was holding a fist-sized motor with broken wires dangling from it. Before my eyes the motor began to darken with rust – layer after layer it corroded until it was completely unrecognizable. The brown decay spread like liquid over the wrench-hand and down the length of the arm. I did not see what became of the girl who was not Mel, for I had lost feeling throughout most of my body and was tipping backwards in my barstool, and as I fell I felt my body let go of such ideas as solidity and force and consumption. It had to do this, of course, sacrificing itself so that the whole of the job was not lost, so that not all of my efforts were in vain. I would have done the same thing if I were in its shoes.

It is a strange feeling to have your body break up into so many small, near-identical coins – to go from being one to being hundreds in a mere second. Before I hit the ground, it was done. The transformation was complete. It was not supposed to end this way, but I could no longer care. For, when I hit the ground as many, the sound that arose was so profoundly pleasant to me that I at once released from me all other lingering emotions. I cannot say if I would have found the sound so pleasing if somebody else had fallen to the ground as hundreds of quarters, and the feeling arising inside of me was not unlike being deep in the forest and hearing thousands of crickets erupt into chorus. Perhaps I felt this way because I was hearing myself as something new, something fresh. But the one thing that rang out through my consciousness, soft as a whisper and as unobtrusive as a speck of dust dancing in the barely-stirring air, was that, Now I am multiple, now I am not alone, and never shall I be again.

 

Writing and Photo Copyright 2012 by Andy Reynolds

As of Midnight

(written 10/1/13)

 

Multi-colored voodoo masks watch over me,
nailed up above rows of multi-colored bottles.
She serves me a drink.
Only twenty minutes past midnight
and my ritual is complete.

She doesn’t know she’s her.
She doesn’t know there’s a her for her to be.
I’ve never told her about this ritual of mine,
and how she’s a part of it.

As of midnight it is October 1st.
As of midnight I’ve lived here for six years.
She served me my first drink when I moved here.
And every year I track her down,
find which bar she’s tending,
and once October 1st hits,
I don’t have a drink until she serves me one.

It can take days –
once it took nearly a week.
This year it took twenty minutes.

The bar itself so scarred and chipped,
chunks of the city’s history hanging from the rafters above
by thin chains
dangling
like wind chimes.
Chartreuse shimmers in my glass like melted emerald,
the ice cubes all coated and glistening –
a rocks glass full of kryptonite.

Tom Waits comes on the jukebox,
though none of his albums are on
that machine.

I order another,
enough so that my skin will turn translucent
and my footprints will be green
when I leave.

She is such a part of my New Orleans.
But to her,
I’m a guy sitting at a busy bar,
scribbling into a notebook.
Someone she says hi to
when she passes him on the street.

And I like that.

It encaptures the city for me,
somehow,
the way I am a not even a side character
in her world.

It makes me wonder how many people
have me as part of their New Orleans,
while I just serve them coffee
and nod as I ride my bike past them.

Every year I almost tell her
about how I’ve brought her into this
dance of mine.

One year,
perhaps I will.

But not this year.

Dame of the Eagle Saloon

Yeah, I loved you
eyeing me from across the room
fingers walkin’ down that
talkin’ trumpet
your eyes and mine
having just met
the first time

Of course I’d seed your kind
all new & exploring
you could not be
more green

Yeah, I knew you’d
saunter up to my table
& bite on my feigned surprise.
Was it my hair that you complimented?
Or was it my lace, my dress,
my countenance?

Spillin’ words & splashin’ gin,
my mind soaked &
slippin’
headlong towards
what I knew was wrong.

Oh, but there you were
touching me with the fingertips
of your eyes
pacifying the cries
of my thoughts,
your words hooking into
sucking at my wants

I knew I’d fall into
your fistful of sheets
that your fingers would meet
pressing down on the keys
of my spine
lion & sheep
which am I?

Yeah, I loved you
my name pouring from your lips
my mane purring
against your hips
my skin
your skin
drips

Face against hot face,
rolling bodies of steam
I am an unhinged dream
but what are you to me?

Yeah, I loved you
but my past is laced with poisons
dark & dazed liaisons
crumpled against the wall
and bubbling
against reason

Yet each night I met with you
your moans pulling me
into a world where
my nightmares
held no truth

Oh and how you’d gaze down at me
skin bursting with that
brazen heat
the moonlit curtains
giving you
glowing wings
“Baby, you should not be with me”

Oh but how I’d
pull you on top of me
only you
could topple me
but you couldn’t stop the things
that had come to be

Yeah I warned you
of the figures
keeping warm in my shadow
yet you had to know
had to press for more
until I could not keep you
protected
undetected
“Baby, they will shred you.”

Yeah, I let you
distill in me
pretty stills & imagery
each caress each pretty word
buzzing across my skin
pollinating
killing off my questions

If only I could
live between your sheets
where the two of our lives meet
where I am you
you are me

But here we are
in the middle of the empty street
while everyone else dreams
I told you
they’d never stop looking for me

Yeah, I loved you
the stars above begin to cry
I lift up my dress
reaching down between my thighs
a small revolver
gleaming silver in streetlight

Yeah, I loved you
but I will not let them take you
goodbye

Spectacle of the Extension

My first published novel.

A young painter armed with a sarcastic tongue and the ability to pull amazing espresso shots, Em has moved across the country to shed her past and lose herself in her artistic process. One night the painting she’s been working on for months comes to life, its presence causing her to question the decisions she’s made and her relationship with reality. Is this creature merely a work of art, or something else entirely? As the creature travels through Em’s world and she is drawn ever deeper into its own reality, they both unearth secrets about each other and the worlds around them.

Spectacle of the Extension is available as both a real book and a Kindle eBook on Amazon, where you can also read the first several pages.

Here’s the link:  Spectacle of the Extension on Amazon

The gorgeous cover art by the wonderful JuliaY

Esoterotica

I am part of a New Orleans literary group called Esoterotica, a group of writers who meet bi-weekly to read original erotic and semi-erotic poetry and short stories.   Pieces read for Esoterotica can be humorous, serious, sad, tempestuous or meditative – you never know what to expect.  For more information about the group and our schedule, visit Esoterotica.com

(I’ll note here that my non-Esoterotica work is for the most part not erotic.  If you’re not interested in erotica, please keep checking out the rest of my site.)

** all photos below are copyright Shadow Angelina at DrowningWoman.net**

Our first publication, Esoterotica’s First Anthology: Desire.  This book contains 60 pieces of original work by 26 writers.

 

 

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

Our second and newest publication, Esoterotica’s Second Anthology: EnflameThis anthology contains the work of 21 writers.

 

 

Our second play we put together for the New Orleans Fringe Festival, entitled Beyond Desire.  Ten of us co-wrote the piece, and it was a big success.  People laughed and people cried each night we put it on.  It received a great review in New Orleans’ Offbeat Magazine.  Click on the link to read the article.

 

Our first CD, Desire, featuring 13 tracks by different writers.

 

 

Enflame

Our second CD, Enflame, which goes with our second anthology.

 

Flowers

It was a small, white table – a modest addition to the tiny kitchen of my flat – upon which I was balancing myself when I first realized that someone else was in the apartment. I stopped fumbling with the rope and the ceiling fan and a man walked in. Short and broad and balding, he was dressed in a tweed suit.

“How’d you get in here?” I asked him.

“I broke the window and climbed in,” answered the man. “You were making quite a ruckus yourself, so it seems my intrusion went unnoticed.”

“I’m not sure what you’re selling,” I said, “but I must insist that you leave at once.”

The man looked up at the noose hanging sloppily from the ceiling fan. “Indeed. But if I could just have a moment of your time, Mr. Lindey,” he said, raising the briefcase hanging from one of his hands, “I assure you we could come to some sort of arrangement to your liking.”

I looked down at him from atop the table, and realized that for some reason I’d put on my best suit that morning. Since I was already dressed for business, and I had a feeling it would be more trouble than I cared to go through to get him to leave, I stepped down on to my chair, then to the floor.

“I suppose I may have another few minutes in me,” I said to him.

“Fantastic!” he exclaimed.

 

* * *

 

We sat at the kitchen table and spoke for nearly half of an hour, after which time I packed a small suitcase and we went outside where a car was waiting to take us across town to the edge of the warehouse district. Most of the warehouses and factories we drove by were abandoned, sitting large and squat and silent like giant metal boulders. But the building which was our destination was as large as a city block, ten stories tall, with smoke stacks spearing the white clouds and spewing out large black pillows into the air. A tall fence wrapped around the building, and the man in the tweed suit nodded to a guard as a gate was opened for us to drive through.

When we walked inside, I could hardly believe what I was seeing – machines everywhere – all of them as big as rooms – with workers in greasy and dirty overalls walking and running and hauling things this way and that. At a closer glance, I realized that all the machines were connected via a series of tubes and pulleys and gears and chain. I looked around and was unable to find any amount of space where something wasn’t sliding or spinning or raising up and down. Above me was an endless spiderweb of walkways – machines hung in the air above other machines – countless chains and pipes and pistons – like an inverted castle of steel and copper and dials and levers.

“You’ll mostly be working in flora,” yelled the man over the sound of pistons and hissing and cranking, as he led be towards the heart of the building. Beyond the clusters of machines and workers, there ahead of us was a cylindrical tower, rising from the floor up to the very ceiling, at least as far as I could tell from where I was standing. Lights bled from windows of the tower, and at every level several walkways emerged towards the rest of the building.

“We like our design teams to really be a part of the other teams –,” he folded his fingers together, to simulate the teamliness he was trying to create, “ –so that engineers and workers feel as essential to one another as they really are.”

We walked into the first floor of the tower and stepped into an elevator, across from which was a huge industrial elevator the size of a large room. The man shut the sliding gate and pulled two levers, and the elevator lifted us up through the tower. He tapped a gauge that had the numbers 1 through 9 printed on it. “You’re floor five,” he said.

There were three departments on floor five – Flora, Trees and Fruit. Trees and Fruit took up most of the floor, and Flora was about a fifth of the floor, having three rooms: a design room which had drawing boards and charts and notes scattered about everywhere; a testing room, with test tubes and fabrics and inks and chemicals; and a library, mostly filled with books about plants and their effects on history, culture, moods, etc. There was also a room in the center which was connected to the elevators, which was the break room. It had a white table and a sink and an ice box, and it reminded me of my old kitchen, so I rarely went in and never stayed there for more than a few minutes.

 

* * *

 

I researched. I drew up plans and designs and tested my theories, deviating from used designs, blending old ways with new, and the months drifted into the sky along with the smoke from the smoke stacks. I never got to know my fellow designers, and after a month or so they stopped trying to get to know me. They respected my ideas, and so did the workers – they liked how I kept them from having to make the same flowers day after day. Then, over the months, the small group of designers got smaller and smaller as one by one they got transferred or promoted, until I worked day and night by myself.

I had a cot set up in the library, as well as a dresser for the few clothes that I owned, and the length of rope from my old apartment was carefully coiled and sitting underneath my undergarments in one of the drawers. I ate mostly food that didn’t have to be kept cold, so that I never went into the break room, except to pass through to the elevator.

I never accepted a promotion, at least not one that took me out of the department. Every few months they added something to my title – Manager/Executive Designer/Floral Specialist – all nonsense, but it was nonsense that was easily ignored.

One day I found myself sitting in the library with nothing to do. I’d read all of the books multiple times, I was months ahead of schedule and I’d drawn up all the ideas I had – even the far-fetched ones. There were a few chemicals and books I’d ordered that I was waiting on, but they wouldn’t be delivered until the next day at the earliest. So I decided to do something I hadn’t done for some time – I went for a walk.

Leaving the building’s parking lot, I at once felt eerily like I was walking around in the past – like a stranger in my memories. Without the hum of my department rooms or the jumble of mechanical noise, the world seemed unnervingly quiet and empty. Empty of meaning, empty of hope – the bright blue sky taunting with its vividness up above. “You can never have this,” it whispers to the people walking under it.

I walked through the blocks and blocks of warehouses, until I came to a small, quaint neighborhood. I tried walking through a park, but the flowers and trees and grass bored me. So I went and sat at a trolley stop and watched the cars drive by. Some of them were bigger and stranger looking than I remembered, and I could tell that some were powered by different means than they used to be.

I heard a page turn, paper against paper, and I turned to see a woman reading on a neighboring trolley bench. She had long red hair and a bright blue dress. But her hair… it wasn’t “red,” not really. It wasn’t magenta, nor apple nor raspberry nor blood nor… nor anything. It wasn’t even a blend, it was a solid imperfection – a deviation. A mutation.

It occurred to me to wonder then – on all those floors of the factory, in all those departments, was there a group of people in charge of hair? Was this really an accident, a mutation? Or did someone purposely give this creature a head full of long, soft hair of such an indescribable color? And where did they find such a color in the first place? I became overwhelmed with my own thoughts, over-stimulated by the outdoors and the fresh air and this color. All the colors of the cars going by, the houses and the plants and even the sky, paled away like some old photograph behind her, this girl quietly reading on a trolley bench.

She looked over at me and smiled. I smiled back – which probably looked weird, since smiling in the company of others was not something I was accustomed to – and a trolley squeaked to a stop in front of us. I followed her up the steps, and sat behind her. Her hair spilled down over the top of the seat, and I looked around timidly, making sure that no one was paying attention. Then I took a pair of scissors from my coat pocket and cut off a lock of her hair. She glanced around at the snip sound, but I looked out the window, and she went back to reading.

I slipped the lock of hair into my vest pocket, where it sat above my loudly beating heart. I got off the trolley a few stops later, and then crossed the street and boarded another trolley going back the way I came, back to the park. Then I walked hastily back to work, feeling light-headed. My hands were sweating.

I took the elevator up to the fifth floor and walked into the laboratory. My hands were shaking and I had to take deep breaths to steady them. I pulled on a lab coat and goggles and carefully pulled the hair from my vest pocket, slipped it into a test tube and put it over a burner.

Working carefully with my limited sample, I added only a few drops of one chemical at a time, then took samples from the test tube and looked at them through the micro-slide machine, which projected it up onto a large screen.

I worked with the theories I knew, and even a few I’d only tested a handful of times, until I had the right consistency of theory and innovation. I dipped my rubber-gloved finger in, then looked at the shimmering unnamed reddish color dripping down the glove, and it was everything to me in that moment.

I took the test tube and walked quickly out, over the metal catwalk, above and past hoards of cranking machinery. “Out of the way, please!” I said to my workers.

They parted and I looked down into the tub of fabric they were preparing. “More bleach!” I ordered, and one of the workers pulled a lever and bleach sloshed out of a pipe and into the tub. “Close the lid and spin it!”

The giant metal lid was clamped shut and the machine began whirring loudly. I walked over to the dying gun – which was essentially a large upside-down funnel ringed with glass tubes, each with a different color inside, and several accordion-like rubber tubes running into the top. I spun the device until I came to the empty glass tube, then opened the top and dumped the test tube into it.

“Bleaching’s done,” said one of the workers.

“Excellent,” I said. “Put it into a mold.”

“Which one, sir?”

“I don’t know.” I waved my hand absently in the air. “Daisy.”

The workers went to the press and put hooks through the outer holes of the heavy iron mold, then a small crane was used to picked up the mold and carry it over to the wall, putting it into the empty “carnation” slot. They took off the hooks and put them through the loops of the “daisy” mold, then the crane swung it over to the press.

Once they’d screwed the tubes and hoses up to the press, they pumped the bleached fabric in. After that was done, they used the dying gun to pump green into the leaf and stem hoses, then yellow into the pollen hose. Then they hooked the dying gun up to the petal hose, and pumped the color I’d found into the mold.

“Never seen a daisy that color red before,” said one of the workers.

I turned to him. “Is that the color red?” I asked, tapping the glass tube.

“Not exactly,” he said.

“It’s…” I said getting very close to him, “…not red.”

I turned back to the machines. The process was complete. “Open the mold,” I said to them.

When they separated the two pieces, gasps came from several of them. Inside was a daisy – familiar, ordinary, yet at the same time new – a new sort of creature, a new sort of life which had never been seen until that moment. Something audible opened up inside each of us, as if a portal to a new and strange world was sitting there, broadcasting itself.

Finally, after several moments, I broke the silence. “Send it to the Dehydration Tank.”

As if woken from their dreams, the workers began moving again, slowly at first, their memorized movements no longer coming as easily to them. Two of them came at the daisy from either side, with long tongs in each hand, and carefully picked up the delicate, moist creation. They brought it over to a towel, which they laid it on and slid it into the Drying Chamber, where the hot air gently dried the dye onto the cloth flower. Then they took it from there, put it in a large metal cradle which was suspended in the air by chains, and lowered it into the belly of the Dehydration Tank. They closed and clamped shut the dome lid and ran the machine. I clenched my teeth, and no one spoke. Somehow the whole factory of churning noise and cranking metal seemed to hold its breath.

Then a lever was pushed up and the machine came to a halt. A knob was turned and below the tank, on a small slide, a tiny object rattled down and stopped at the bottom. One of the workers used a pair of tweezers to pick up the tiny seed, and everyone looked at it in silence.

“Can you make more of the color?” asked one of the workers. “I don’t think there’s enough to make another.”

“There only needs to be one,” I said, not taking my eyes from the seed.

It was in that moment that I realized the city itself would be my new laboratory, and from then on I would walk through it, finding the undefined colors and hidden shades, every time making only enough for a single flower. Maybe it would spring up in a garden, or perhaps in a park somewhere, and someone would find it and it would change the way they perceived the world. Or maybe it would just give them a moment’s peace. Maybe it would grow in a forest or upon a mountain where no one would ever come across its beauty. But I would know. I and my workers would behold the deviant beauty before we sent it off to the Distribution Department, lost in a box of identical seeds, and that knowledge would be enough – it would satiate me – at least for now.