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06 December 2013
22 November 2013
A JOKE IN THE WAY THAT WE RUST AND BREATHE AGAIN
The door closed and the window opened and the wisp of air slides in on top of the smell of lavendar and pine trees. Reed watches the door of the bar come into focus—covered in the red and blue neon light from the Miller sign next to it, the pamphlet announcing hunting season knocked slightly to the left. He doesn’t notice the air slide in. Daryl had a way of closing doors so that everything around it vibrated for a few seconds, erasing everything in the world but that vibration. This bar, even now, in the middle of a sunny day, is dark—the booths in shadows, the tables black polka dots, the people fading in and out depending on where they are in relation to a neon beer, sign, the jukebox, the pool table.
Reed listens. The door mumbles under its breath, crabby. He hears the chairs around the tables gossiping to each other, the jukebox philosophizing. Reed works his eyes along the floor to the bar where he’s sitting, where he watches the previously unnoticed wisp of air morph into a woman who is now sitting on the stool next to him. Reed hears the glasses behind the bar giggle, the stack of coasters laugh. He closes his eyes. Opens them. She is still here, her hands around the pint in front of her. She’s spinning it around slowly, like pottery on a wheel that’s moving in slow motion. Reed readjusts himself, accidentally kicks the bar. The bar reprimands him. He apologizes.
“What?” The woman says.
“What did you just say?”
“Nothing. Sorry. I said sorry. To the bar. I kicked it.”
“The bar is easily offended,” she says.
He nods. The bar tsks.
He doesn’t know what to say. He never knows what to say. That’s why Daryl stormed out earlier. All kinds of questions and no answers and Daryl got angrier, more demanding, wanted to know why, why, why, what happened, what happened to Smith, he’s my brother. Might as well be yours too you known us so long, and Reed knew he needed to say something, at the very least try to give Daryl some peace, but he couldn’t find the words, they ran away from him, hid in the shadows, and Reed could only sit there, silent, pointing at the dark corners where the words were hiding, like that would help, and that pissed Daryl off to the point where he was about to smash that Budweiser bottle into Reed’s face, but something stopped Daryl, and he let go of the beer, it rolled across the floor. Then the door closed and the window opened, and the room started talking to Reed.
She taps the back of his hand with her finger. Her face is all soft round, no sharp edges. Eyes like ponds, color swaying from blue to green, back to blue. Hair long, curly, dark. In the light of the bar her hair swims down her back. At the point she touches the back of his hand with her finger, there is a red dot. She watches his eyes, follows them to his hand. “I’m a leaker,” she says more to herself than to him. “Hard to keep it inside.” She points at the pint in front of her. He sees vaguely smeared red stripes where her hands once held the glass. She grabs a napkin, quickly wipes the smears away.
“I can hear the room talking,” Reed whispers.
“Really? Like how?”
“Like, the floor groans and swears when we walk on it. The walls complain about how heavy those beer signs are. The napkins in this stack are fighting with each other about who should be on top.”
“Bet they wouldn’t be fighting about that if they knew first one up is gonna have to stop my leaking.”
Reed waits a second. Looks at the stacks of napkins. Looks at her. “You’re right.”
She laughs. Reed smiles.
Reed sees his memory now, it’s slowly piecing together like a jigsaw puzzle. Daryl barreled into the bar earlier, marched over to Reed without waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dark. Didn’t sit. Knocked Reed’s shoulder. “What the fuck, man?”
Reed couldn’t look at Daryl. Tried to look in his face. Couldn’t do it. Tried to look at his chest. Couldn’t do that either. Settled for looking down, at his shoes.
“Tell me what happened,” Daryl said, voice shaking. Daryl’s voice never shook. In the thirty years Reed knew him, he never heard Daryl’s voice shake.
Daryl huffed. Ordered a beer. Still didn’t sit. Mickey brought the bottle over to him. Daryl chugged. Slammed the bottle on the bar. “You don’t even go to the hospital? Smith’s in a coma, you know. We don’t know what happened. You could at least tell us what happened.”
Reed knew this. Daryl and Smith? Reed knew them so long, he was like their brother. Reed closed his eyes, wished that time would rewind. Instead he saw fingers grasping the edge of the roof, slowly sliding off, then, just the roof. Reed snapped his eyes open. Daryl’s face was there—so like Smith’s Reed for a second thought it was Smith—eyes red, lines around his mouth, a day of growth clustering over his chin. The anger rolled off Daryl thick as fog. Reed moved his mouth, tried desperately to say sorry, wanted desperately to be a bigger man than he was, but his mouth wouldn’t speak.
Daryl grabbed the beer bottle, held the neck like he was holding a knife, glared at Reed. An eternity passed. Daryl took a step back, dropped the bottle. It rolled across the floor. Daryl walked out. This was the last time Reed saw him.
She’s grabbing bunches of napkins and pressing them to her left ear. Reed watches the stack get shorter and leans down the bar and grabs another stack. Sets it in front of her. “Thanks,” she says. “Sometimes, you know, the leaking, it’s worse than other times.”
As she says this, Reed watches a thin red line appear at the base of her right ear and snake its way down her neck. Another one appears on her temple and rolls down her jaw. He grabs a napkin, wipes the lines away. But they keep coming.
The walls start whispering, something he can’t make out. The bar starts in. Then the mirror over the bar, the ceiling fans, the bar stools, the football schedule tacked to corkboard next to the men’s bathroom. The whispering grooves into a hum, then slips into volume, then coalesces into words. Do something. Do something. Do something. Everything in the bar, all of it, telling him—do something.
Reed gets up, walks to the end of the bar, grabs every napkin he sees, walks back to her and as he does grabs the towel. He sits back down on his stool, turns her face to him, then grabs the towel and presses it against her temples and holds. He can feel her blood pulsing, like it’s struggling against strangulation, but he holds tight. Her eyes are wide and knowing. She doesn’t smile. The blood pulses, beats against him. He removes the towel and grabs at the stack of napkins, holds them against her temples. The blood pulses in one last gasp and then he feels it rest. She smiles.
Reed and Smith were at work—construction, on that huge mansion outside of town. On the roof. Smith goofing around as always. Doing some dance. Reed concentrating on the shingle in his hand. Then quiet. Abrupt and menancing quiet. When Reed looked up, he saw Smith’s fingers clutched on the edge of the roof. Smith not making any sounds. Reed froze. Stared at Smith’s fingers. Hands he watched since they were little. And now they were slipping. One by one Smith’s fingers disappeared and Reed couldn’t move, felt like he was encased in concrete.
There was a thud and then someone yelled, “Call the ambulance,” and for Reed the world went black until the moment when he was sitting in the bar and the door closed and the window opened.
08 November 2013
BRETT: A male.
This is a monologue.
The cashier looks hard, but she’s soft in the eyes so instead of going to another Walgreens, I stay here and wait until the guy in the back picks a toothpaste and pays for it. Once he’s out the door, I walk up to her, the cashier, and I put the boxes of gauze strips on the counter. As far as I can see, the only other person in the store is the pharmacist, but he’s hidden behind shelves of decongestant and he doesn’t look all that interested in paying attention to his surroundings. The cashier has a hard jaw line and nails bitten down to the cuticles. She keeps her eyes steady on my face.
I don’t have any money, I say, but I need these. I’ll have money tomorrow. I’ll pay for these tomorrow.
You’re asking me permission to steal two boxes of gauze strips? She asks.
And I wish she wouldn’t put it like that—it’s not stealing. It’s not.
I’m not a thief, I tell her. I’m a bleeder. This cut on my finger? Looks tiny now, but in an hour it’ll be running like a stream and in two hours it’ll be gushing. It’s not gonna stop unless I do something about it now.
Go to the ER she says and she puts her hands on the counter. She looks like she’s ready for a fight.
The only ER that’ll take me is County, I say, and they know me, they know how long I can wait before they have to do something, so I just sit there, in the waiting room, and everyone can see it. They watch me bleed. Like I’m some freak at a carnival. And they never say anything. They just stare…Is your name really Jane?
I nod at her nametag. She looks for a second like I just woke her out of a deep concentration. She pulls her eyes away from my face and glances at her chest then at the boxes of gauze strips.
No, she says. Shrugs her shoulders. Looks back at my face. It’s Elizabeth.
Elizabeth…I whisper it. It rolls around in my mouth like butterscotch. Why Jane? I ask her.
Because they stare at me like I’m some freak at a carnival, she says. She waves her hands around at the store. I look at the back, where the pharmacist is.
Especially him, she says.
So Jane makes you invisible? I say.
More than Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is pretty, I tell her.
Elizabeth is a felon, she says.
I look at the gauze strips.
You don’t look like a felon, I tell her.
Don’t patronize me, you fuck, she says.
Well, you sound like a felon, I tell her. And this makes her laugh. Her laugh is like a symphony.
She nods to the store. They all know it too, she says. They put their hands on their wallets when I walk by. They just stare at me when we have breaks together.
Drops of blood jump from my finger onto the counter. It’s gonna start streaming pretty soon. Pretty soon she’s gonna be watching my insides gush outta me. She looks at the drops—three red polka dots on a silver background.
The manager’s a Bible thumper, she says. He believes in second chances and charity.
Do you? I ask.
She says, if I let you walk out of here with those, they’ll think I stole it. They’ll tell the manager to fire me. But he won’t. He’ll say I can be saved. Then I’ll be stuck between the pity of hopeful reform and the anger of silent accusations.
My Dad was a thief, I tell her.
She’s staring at the polka dots on the counter.
I’m not my Dad, I say.
I’m not a felon, she says.
Her eyelashes are long.
It was a misunderstanding, but I’ll never be able to clear it up, she tells me.
Yes you will, I tell her.
Dubious. That’s the way she looks. I mouth the word: du-bee-us. She looks at me like I have five heads.
I believe you, I say. The polka dots have run together. This is the part where my cut will drip like a leaky faucet. She opens one of the boxes, unwraps the package, and wraps it around my finger. From somewhere underneath the counter she pulls out a piece of tape and wraps that around the gauze. Now no one can see my insides gushing out. I’m suddenly at ease.
I’ll be back tomorrow, I tell her.
I’ll believe it when I see it, she says.
The next day I go in and pay for it. I give her the money. She smiles this smile that sets the world on fire. And like that, I am reborn.
02 November 2013
JUST LIKE IT WAS ANY OTHER DAY
Dear Alert Power Love Reader,
I wrote a solo show. I'm gonna perform the solo show. Cassy Sanders dramaturged and directed the solo show. We're headlining Week 3 of The Kindness of Strangers: A Festival of Storytelling at the side project. I am extending a formal invitation to you, dear reader, because that's how this blog-o-rama works.
Here are the deets, as the kids say:
Just Like It Was Any Other Day
Written and performed by Kim Morris
Directed and dramaturged by Cassy Sanders
Sunday, November 3-Wednesday, November 6
the side project theatre company
1439 W. Jarvis
Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/461132
28 October 2013
18 October 2013
WINTER IS COMING TO CHICAGO AND WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE
...and this is why you shouldn't worry:
1. We die, no more bullshit with the Ventra card.
2. We die, it's possible we all turn into zombies, who are gonna end up winning the war of the apocalypse and we all know it so GET ON THE WINNING SIDE NOW.
3. We die, no more worrying about balancing your checkbook, which you haven't been doing anyway, have you, you've just been trusting the bank when they give you your balance, haven't you? HAVEN'T YOU?
4. We die, desperation takes its rightful place at the top of Maslow's Hierarchy.
5. We die, FUCK YOU, WINTER, WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!
04 October 2013
BABY YOU CRY TOO MUCH I'M TIRED OF THE SOUND
Open your eyes. Standing. In front of the vending machine. Glass encased rows. Top: your future. Middle: your dreams. Bottom: your raw ass dreams you won't tell anyone about. Corporate logos. Reds are very red. Blues very blue. The perfect shade of yellow--makes ya wanna buy, buy, buy, your happy smile smashed on your lips, you don't know why. You weren't this happy earlier.
You do it, though. Crack open your radius, pull your hope out like a wet noodle, feed it into the vending machine's mouth. Gobble, gobble, nomnomnomnomnom. Wait. Lights flicker. Red. Blue. Yellow. Irises: burn. Retinas: ready. You: dream...you holding Peach, holding hands, skin sweetly touching like you're inside of each other. Tingling. Ache. Want. A beach. The sun. Waves whisper like tree leaves, clouds move only when you tell them to, breeze blowing for you and Peach only. Happy. You say it out loud. Happy, Peach says. You reach out your hand. Grab air. Reach again. Again. Again. Air, air, air. Go blind. Breeze turns to wind to gusts. Sun burns your skin. Waves rise up in a tidal wave, slap you til you fall. Stupid. You expect too much for someone who doesn't do anything.
At the vending machine, you're aware of the dark corridor behind you. The fact that the only lights anywhere in the world are coming from the reds, the blues, the yellows. Machine won't take hope. Too big to fit in its mouth. Use something else. Crack open your cheekbone, pull out fury, like a strip of corrugated steel. Feed it into the machine's mouth. Wait. You could kill a million people with all this fury. You could crush the world. Crush this machine. You could destroy everything, mop it all up into a mammoth pile, climb to the top of it, proclaim yourself the motherfucking king.
But you won't. You're just gonna stand there, staring at the flickering lights, pretending to ignore that third row, dreaming about the person you'll never have the guts to be.
01 October 2013
29 September 2013
20 September 2013
AND NOW I WILL PROMOTE AN UPCOMING EVENT
Dear Alert Power Love Reader,
Show ahoy! Come on out to MorseL Tuesday, September 24, 7:30p, to hear great stories! I'll be telling a new one. THAT IS FICTION! A fiction story. Haven't told one of those since last night when I told people I was totally on top of my shit. Ha. Just kidding. OR AM I?
Here are le deets, peeps. Come on out and have good times with us:
13 September 2013
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS: A FESTIVAL OF STORYTELLING
Dear Alert Power Love Reader,
I have the fine fortune of co-curating and performing a solo show in the upcoming fest we have named The Kindness of Strangers. It's a lotta good happnin. Up dere at da side project theatre over dere in Rogers Park. Come say hello, I'm going up November 3-6. Would be good to see you.
Here's more information: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/461132.
06 September 2013
WANNA TELL YOU THAT YOU'LL BE ALRIGHT
I hit the ground. Look up. I should see the sky but I don't. I see the giant ant that just knocked me down. He has made himself comfortable on my chest. His ant arms hold my head on either side and he searches my face while he talks to me.
"You are always doing that," he says. He talks crisply, pronounces the t's at the ends of words like a skilled orator. "Humans don't mean what they say. They mean what they do. When are you going to get that?"
The ant has brown eyes. He seems to know his stuff. I do not know my stuff. I thought words meant something. Due to recent current events, I can see the logic of the ant's argument.
"Let's play a game," the ant says. Because I am trapped underneath him, I agree.
The ant taps his ant fingers on my temples. "You are making a quilt," he says.
"Actually, crafts, not really my thing--"
"Quiet. Not your turn. So. You are making a quilt. This is a game. A met-a-phor. You'll have to move out of the literal for this portion of today's lesson. The quilt. It will be large and colorful and able to be used for a variety of functions: picnics, a blanket, a tablecloth, a cape, a sweater if you like bulk. You know you can make the quilt yourself, but you'd rather have company. What do you do?"
"Ask for help?"
"Who...I like to make quilts with?"
"Yes. Very good. So. Your friend says yes."
"Quiet. Not your turn. So. Your friend says yes," now the ant's voice raises an octave, "yes, I'd love to help you make a quilt--"
"Is that my friend's voice?"
"Who talks like that?"
"Your friend. Quiet. Not your turn. So. Your friend would love to help you make a quilt. What do you do now?"
"I invite my friend over to make the quilt."
"I invite my friend to a bar to make the quilt?"
"An amusement park?"
"An amusement park with glass sculptures and a Snakes of the Tropics exhibit?"
"No. You wait for the friend to call you."
"Why would I do that?"
"To see if your friend actually wants to make a quilt."
"But my friend said yes."
"But your friend didn't do yes. You see?"
"But it's my quilt."
"And you can make it on your own. And your friend knows that."
"But I don't want to make it on my own."
"That's the part nobody gives a shit about. When are you doing to get that?"
The sidewalk under my back is a rough, grooved surface. Tiny pinpricks poke my back. The ant taps his ant fingers on my nose. Then he scampers up my torso, over my head, there is a moment of darkness as his ant body blocks the sun, then he continues down the sidewalk--a giant ant, going about his day. I stay on the sidewalk, looking up. I don't know how to make a quilt.
01 September 2013
30 August 2013
I WANT TO ROCK YOUR GYPSY SOUL
I want your fingertips. Your nouns and your verbs. Your twitching eyelid when you're tired. I want your laugh, your righteous anger when someone's been done wrong, the snort that follows your suppressed giggle. I want your eyes when they see a lie, your mouth when it refuses to mention it. I want your profile when we're driving in the car and you're concentrating on the road ahead. I want your secrets and your fears, your 3am worries, your happy breakfasts. I want the crease between your eyebrows, your wrinkled knuckles, your opinions you hold passionately despite my best efforts to change them. I want your smile when you see me in that red dress. I want you, in that perfectly tailored suit. I want your insecurities, your dreams, your best laid plans that blow up in your face. I want you to take this corner of my heart and make a home in it.
23 August 2013
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