Chasing a Dream

Since graduating from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon a few months ago I’ve done a lot of soul searching. I’ve worked some jobs that I have absolutely loved, and some that I absolutely loathed. One trait that I’ve always been proud of having is that of perseverance. I’ve been knocked down a lot and many times I could have just given up there. Life isn’t supposed to be easy, but I also don’t believe that you’re not supposed to put yourself through too much hell, either. I have persevered through some tough challenges, but I think my biggest hurdles are still ahead. In order to continue to follow the passion of writing, I will have to put myself through a little hell in order to come out successful, but I don’t mind that.

Currently, I am working at a job that I can easily be content with. I make a decent amount of money, I am in a leadership position and it is very close to where I reside, but it isn’t fulfilling. I’ve woken up every day not only dreading going into work, but also constantly trying to figure out what makes the job worthwhile, besides the paycheck. Not only does the job stress me out, but because of the stress and the hours, I don’t find the time to write like I should. And that’s just not going to fly anymore.

After graduation I moved from Oregon back to Vacaville, California. Vacaville is a hop and a skip away from both Sacramento and San Francisco, so there were many opportunities for work, but not for the kind of writing that I want to do. I went onto twitter one morning while bored and contacted numerous sketch and television writers about how I should kick start my career. There was a consensus on those that did reply to me and that was:

  1. Continue writing. Never stop writing.
  2. Move to Los Angeles or New York.

That stuck with me. The advice planted seeds deeply into my mind and into my gut. The seeds in my mind sprouted ideas and a curiosity that soon made the seeds in my gut erupt and burn. There were times where I’d lay awake at night and stare at my white ceiling. The muted colors from the television would dance on the darkened ceiling but I would just stare blankly.

“What if?” I’d sit and wonder. “What if I did move down there, would I be a success? Could I make something of myself?”

In July of this year, I decided to take that chance. I moved from the comfort of my home city and moved to Downey, California. I took that chance and moved and, for the moment, I thought that was enough. I got the job that I am in now and for that moment I was content. I was okay with the steps that I took. But, I sit here frustrated and stressed, because I didn’t come out here just to live, I came out here following a dream. I have years ahead of me to be content, but, today won’t be that day where I settle for anything less than what I have worked the majority of my life. I’m going to quit my job and work towards my career. I don’t mind betting on myself. In fact, I’ll take those odds any day of the week.

I don’t want to look back and wish that I hadn’t pursued something. I don’t want to look back and wish that I could have done more. I want to be able to look back and smile, and tell my story with pride.

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Wishing I Could Write About You

I sit here and wish that I could write about you

I’d express to you feelings you thought were lost in the catacombs of my thoughts,

I’d tell you of how much hydration was lost

as tears flowed freely and breath–unable to be caught.

I’d remind you of the night that fate matched us together

When I met you, you were the only one I could picture, and for the better;

You taught me so much, whether it’d be about myself or a game about Settlers.

Life then was paradise, when I looked into your pair of eyes, I was often stuck,

Or you could even say I was–paralyzed.

For you, I know I changed because I would feed you truth,

But to the others it’d often be a pair of lies.

Thus love happened sooner than I had ever realized.

You were my pineapple, and I’d often express

That you were the best, my family loved you, including Juicy (our pet), and to this day I would never regret calling you my fucking sunshine, but damn it,

I digress

This isn’t a love poem, because love here has died without you.

You’ve moved on, I’ve progressed and the world knows no looking back to be true.

Which is why I know I shouldn’t write about you.

 

I sit here and wish that I could write about you

I don’t know another I fought so hard with, or against.

Youth made our relationship fiery, constant nights of arguments.

And then we’d make up. Again and again—and to that, God I repent.

Jealousy in our nature, I’m surprised we survived,

So long together and even years later we’d try to revive

Something that had already up and died.

Every time we are together we always recall

The mistakes that the other made, but we’d say it was “my fault.”

And that same time I sit and wonder in awe

How we got so close by being so far.

No matter the lack of communication

We always find our way back to each other and, thus

invite temptation.

So given the circumstances of our situation

I must bid you adieu—

No more lapses to the past, even though you were my muse,

These be the reasons why I shouldn’t write about you.

For Play

I really liked ‘er ass, an that’s kinda whud-da met her for,

Had a smile-y on my face that was bigger than a’ albacore.

Approached with a swagger, not an amateur to prose

Had to shoot for the moon, when the chance arose.

 

She didn’t look for attention, yet I stood like a soldier

Intentions no longer concealed, abort covert

And when I caught her eye, like a sniper to his scope

She knew  inevitably  her will would be smote

 

The game I spit was was potent– a cobras venom to mice

And what escaped from my mouth, with a python-esque vice

 

A surreptitiously sweet,

soothing serenade set

to steal her soul

Against her behest

 

With the conviction of a back, I attacked her path

I Ochocinco’d this and Deion Sanders’d that

Touching down the field became my next goal

The ultimate prize–reaching the Sugar Bowl

 

She asks aloud in a heated moment how I’d convinced her to stay

I smirk and reply, “All these game be for play.”

Ermac

He opens his eyes slowly. The light of the sun peering through his window heats his chin. He takes in a deep breath and gently lets it out through his nose. His eyes wander around his dimly, sunlit room as he continues to wake. He shifts to his left, moving his comforter off of him and he pushes it to his side. He sits up and drags his feet over the side of his bed and onto the floor. He puts his hands on his knees and as they support his body he peers down to the floor, staring blankly at his feet.

“FUCK!” He screams loudly to no one in particular.

His once calm breaths begin to come out in seemingly uncontrollable spurts. His fingernails dig deeply into his knees and he begins to shake his head. His eyes begin to widen as he becomes more infuriated.

“FUCK!” He yells again. He bites down hard and tightens his jaw. “Mother fuck it all…”

Ernest Macken, called Mac by his close friends, is a thirty-four year old man stuck in the mediocrity of life. He only has time for work, which is as a correctional officer in Susanville, California at High Desert Maximum Security Prison. His wife recently left him suddenly and not only did the loss of her stress him out, but the fact that they could barely keep up with house payments already, he feared he would lose his house.

He wakes up daily to the same routine: Shower, cereal for breakfast, a cup of black coffee and a 20-minute drive to work. As he walks in he is greeted by his co-worker Guillermo, who he sometimes calls ‘Memito’. The skinny, but awkwardly tall man was one that Ernest felt he could talk to.

“Mac!” He yelps happily as Ernest enters the locker room to put his belongings away. He hops up and stands patiently behind him as he finishes putting his things away.

“How’s it going, Memito?” Ernest asks as he turns around and shakes the young man’s hand.

“It’s great! I had to tell you first though, Shields is pissed at you! He’s making you stay another overnight!” Ernest shakes his head and passes up Guillermo to wash his hands in the bathroom. “It’s your third time this week Mac, he’s trying to break you. What will you do?”

“I will bash his fucking skull in, that’s what I’ll do.” Ernest thinks to himself.

He walks to his boss’ office, Warden Kenneth Shields, and lightly knocks on his door. A rustling of papers can be heard before the Warden hollers,

“Come in.”

Ernest opens the door and steps into the musty, small office and is greeted by a huge smile that he could only read as meaning, ‘got you cornered’. Ernest sends a polite, ‘eat a dick’, smile back.

“Good morning Ernest, I’m guessing you saw that I have you for an overnight tonight? You’re the best guy for the job. Sorry for the short notice.” Ernest’s slick-haired, smug looking boss says. He begins to turn his chair around and adjusts his thick glasses as if he expected Ernest to accept the duty without question.

“Sir,” Ernest says calmly. “This is my third overnight. I’m not running off much sleep and I need to get home to—“

“To your wife? No. She left you, right? I’m sure you need the money, why complain, Macken?” Shields interrupts.

A spark goes off in Ernest’s brain and he slightly twitches. His face cringes a little, and he forces a smile and a nod. He begins to leave, but Shields calls for him to stop.

“Hey, that behemoth, Khan, needs to be escorted from the hole back into the general population. Handle that. Shut my door behind you, Ermac.”

Ermac?

A cold chill spikes down Ernest’s spine and makes his knees slightly buckle. He squeezes the doorknob tightly and his whole body tenses up uneasily.

“What?” Ernest turns to back to look at his boss. “What did you call me?”

Kenneth looks at Ernest puzzled and scrunches up his face.

“What the fuck do you think I called you, Macken? Get your ass out of my fucking office!” Kenneth bangs a fist on his desk that slides his glasses down his crooked nose and sprawls a few papers onto the floor. Ernest scowls and slams the door behind him.

Ernest walks past Memito’s desk on route to the bathroom.

Ermac, Ermac. We are Ermac.”

Ernest twitches, again, at the sound of the name and looks furiously at Memito, who is rhythmically nodding his head back and forth, as if he were listening to music.

“Memito, did you say something?” Ernest asks exasperated.

Memito looks up, surprised to see Ernest, and shakes his head slowly as he cocks an eyebrow.

“No, Mac. Are you okay? You’re sweating profusely. Yeich! You look filthy!”

Ernest grabs for his head and wipes sweat away from his hairline. He begins to shake his head, confused that such a word, such a name, could make him react so strangely.

“No…nothing, Memito. I… I think I just need some water.”

Ernest splashes a handful of cold water onto his face from a bathroom sink in an attempt to revitalize his sanity.

“Sheena leaving must have really fucked me up,” Ernest thinks to himself, blaming his estranged wife for his troubles. “There can be no other explanation. None.”

Ermac. Join us.”

            Ernest swing his head to the location of the voice and sees only his reflection in an adjacent mirror.

We are Many! You are but one!”

            He swings his head back to the other side and then behind him. All he can see is himself in the lonely bathroom.

“What the fuck, man!? Who the hell is this Ermac!? I’m Ernest” He yells.

“We are but a Legion without you. Join us! Together we will be strong!”

            Ernest’s jaw begins to tremble and slowly drops. He takes in large swallows of air, gasping. He drops to one knee and covers his face with his hand, trying to scramble the nightmare out of his brain. He shuts his eyes closed tightly and looses a muffled scream into his hand.

Ernest slowly stands to his feet after15- minutes down on a knee and listens. No voices. No whispers.

“I need to sleep. This is getting ridiculous.” Ernest thinks as he lets go of his face. He looks toward a mirror and jumps back suddenly. A figure, dressed almost like a mummy in black garb with a green-ish aura around him, reaches towards him. He looks the figure in the eyes and lets out a shriek.

Ernest runs out of the bathroom in sheer terror and runs smack into Kenneth. Both men bounce off each other and onto the ground.

“WHAT THE FUCK!?” Kenneth yells. His glasses fly off his face as he hits the ground. He searches for them blindly. “Macken! You dumb fuck! You know I’m blind without my goddamn glasses! When I find them I am going to put my foot up your fucking ass!”

Ernest gets up, his head pounding from knocking into Kenneth, and he runs downstairs. He gallops past the panicked Memito, away from the stern glance of Sergeant Sonja Blaze as she escorted two new recruits, a blond haired man with a scorpion tattooed down his forearm and a man with a menacingly cold stare, through the facility.

He ran down to the last level which is the dark, damp, and incredibly hot area where the worst offenders are held, away from the general population. Ernest, getting his wits slowly back, passes the cell of a deranged follower of the god of thunder, Thor. He was somehow able to take a transformer down and kill over 30 people at a local pool by electrocution. Ernest walks past probably the most famous, or infamous, rather, prisoner, John Gauge. He is a washed up daytime TV actor that mutilated his director after he found out he was being replaced onscreen by ex Japanese baseball player, Kay Ono. He also bashed in the face of his replacement, leaving the young man permanently paralyzed and blind on one side of his face.

Ernest reaches his destination, the cell of Khan. Khan was the leader of a vigilante group based outside of Houston, Texas. He took the law into his own hand and, because of his charisma and freakishly large stature, his followers were completely loyal. The local law enforcement had no real way of stopping Khan and his army of fugitives, that is, until he suddenly gave himself up.

“K.. Kha..” Ernest coughs out, still reeling from the run in with Shields. “Khan, this is CO Mackens, place your hands on the wall. I will be escorting you back into the general population. Your time in the hole has been served.”

Shuffling is heard inside the pitch black cell and quickly quiets down. Ernest presses a button to illuminate the cell and opens the door.

The 7 foot 3 and a half inch man stares at Ernest, through Ernest, rather. Mackens clears his throat again and takes a step.

“Ermac.” The mountain of a man lets out in a low grumble. “You are the Legion.”

Ernest looks at the man in shock. His mouth slowly opens to retort, but is cut off by Khan.

“Accept your destiny. You are not what you think you are.” Khan says slowly. His hands still placed firmly on the wall. “You are the Bringer of my Army. You are the Harbinger of War. Legion! You are ERMAC!

The ground seems to shake as Khan says the name again. Ernest’s heart begins to beat rapidly and his palms become sweaty again. A thick pounding of echoes inside of Ernest’s head and whispers begin to arise from all around him. The voices call for ‘unity’, they call for ‘dominance’ and the call the name Ermac. The noise rips through Ernest’s head violently and beats like a tribal drum. What Ernest believes is screaming coming from the voices, is actually coming from his own lungs. He staggers back, away from the cell door and falls to his backside against the adjacent cell. A symphony of voices chanting, ‘We are ONE’, sing around him as he gasps for a breath of air.

Ernest curls into a fetal position and squeezes his head with both hands, his eyes bulging from their sockets. The cacophony of sounds unexpectedly stops. Ernest, shaking uncontrollably, uses his eyes to search the room. An explosion. Then another. And another. Coming towards him. Another.

“No, not explosions. Steps.” He thinks.

Khan crouches down in front of Ernest and stares in his eyes. Khan’s inhumanly pale eyes calm Ernest. A feeling of euphoria passes over him. He believed his death was imminent.

“Accept your destiny, Ermac. Search for me, again.” Khan says commandingly as he lifts his fist. Ernest’s eyes follow the fist high into the air and, as it rapidly descends, he says goodbye to the world he had come to loathe.

Ernest wakes up in a dark room. He blinks, slowly. Pain flushes up and down his seemingly broken body. Whispers are heard swirling around the room. They question their ability to move, how long they had been asleep, where they were. They encourage Ernest to try to move a limb, but he is unable to. They urge him, again, and forcibly lift his arms towards his face. He looks at his arm, which is wrapped up tightly in bandages. His alien attire and location should frighten him, but, surprisingly, they do not. His other arm is lifted and he sees the same tight bandages. He tries to squeeze his fist closed, but pain makes the attempt useless. The voices advise Ernest to let them handle functionality at the moment. Ernest obeys, unquestioningly. Ernest’s hands and fingers move completely by themselves. His legs slide slowly across the gurney. His toes and feet flex and his ankle tweaks itself around.

“What is going on?” Ernest thinks.

We are one now, Ermac. We, the Legion and yourself are now, US!”

Ernest tries to shrug in disbelief but is unable to.

We will take care of you until you completely improve. Trust us.”

Ernest is rolled out of bed and is puppeted towards a mirror.

An uneasy feeling drops through his stomach as he peers at the figure before him. He stares into the same eyes he saw in the bathroom that burned themselves into his memory. He peered into his eyes. But, just as it was in the bathroom, his eyes are now their eyes. At this very moment of realization, Ermac, the Legion of Many, is born.

Modern day Cowboy

The modern day cowboy doesn’t stress about the trite complications of everyday life.

He stands and watches his herd, his ability to surround his flock in seemingly an instant makes him a god among men.

He wears tattered jeans and well-worked boots, a hat worn low and a plaid shirt, colored blue.

Speckles of dirt on his face are mistaken for freckles and the creases on the edges of his eyes are marked reminders of his battles against the brightly burning future.

The modern day cowboy bypasses his technologically savvy peers by outworking them physically and delving into jobs that others shiver at.

His motto is, ‘Do it first today, then do it faster tomorrow.’

 

He wakes early and starts work, nodding to the waning moon and finishes work with a wave of acknowledgement to the same entity.

The modern day cowboy is a dying breed. He knows that. It takes a drive different from procreation to make the modern day cowboy.

It takes a different type of heart to live this life.

Lilith

The Tuesday night began as usual. Pete sat down at the bar, nine o’ clock sharp, and ordered a shot of whiskey. Dan, the bartender, quickly wiped down a clean cup and served him up. Pete then immediately began to drown his image in the brown liquor, staring through the cup to the dirty wooden counter. Next, Samael walked in, right on cue. I always wondered why such a young, handsome man as himself, would frequent this dirty hole in the wall. The liquor was watered down, women barely ever entered, and it was always filled with us older, depressed folk. Maybe he liked watching us writhe in the pain of having nothing else to go to. I’d never asked and probably never will, either. He walked over to the jukebox and looked toward me and nodded with a smirk. I tipped my hat and returned the acknowledgement. Maybe he’s just as lonely as us old folk, I certainly don’t know much about him to say otherwise.

He turned on a foreign song, his usual, and I closed my eyes letting the methodical beat on the bongos soothe my mind. Plucks at the guitar and a cello in the background were accompanied by a string of violinists which made the entire song haunting, though eerily smooth. As the song began to rise I took a deep breath and was startled by a beautiful, sweet smell. I opened my eyes to see that a gorgeous young woman had sat in front of me. This was out of the norm. Definitely. She wore a tight red dress that accentuated all the perfect curves of her body, and it ended right above her knees. Her high-heeled shoes matched the color of her dress and her crimson toenails matched her lipstick and fingernails. Her long black hair sat perfectly down the right side of her shoulder. She dug slowly, carefully rather, in her purse, searching for… a cigarette! She pulled one out and looked up at me. Her magnificently dark eyes stared what seemed like through mine and she leaned over and touched my leg. The feeling of another person, a female person, was surreal and the contact literally quaked through my whole body.

“A lighter, monsieur?” She asked with a French accent. Her sultry voice hit my ears and melted my heart. I sat there, mouth agape, seemingly stuck in the world of improbability. Her rosy cheeks perked up slightly as she smiled and she leaned in closer. Her hair gently fell from her shoulder and across her breasts as she put more weight on my leg.

“Would you perhaps have a light, handsome?” She asked again as she squeezed my leg. I shook my body out of its daze and nodded. I reached into my pocket and brought my lighter out, the flame that flickered out was perfect. She smiled and put the cigarette in her mouth. Using my other leg as a balance, she leaned in closer and lit her cigarette. She sat back in her chair and took a long drag. I swallowed hard, staring at the slightly tanned goddess in front of me. She crossed her legs and swayed her right foot slowly back and forth. She stared at me, slightly grinning, and tilted her head back and forth, analyzing me. She took another long drag as I got lost in her physique again.

“I am Lilith, I came here to meet you.” She said, her smile widened and showed white teeth. The name made me perk back slightly. What a strange French name, I thought to myself. She extended her hand and looked to me questioningly.

“Oh!” I finally blurted out. I coughed, clearing my throat and extended my own hand. “My name is Adam. It is a pleasure. Definitely a pleasure to meet you. Lilith, you say?”

She nodded,

“It is a Jewish name, quite peculiar, no?”

“Quite. So, Lilith, what brings you out here to this hell hole?”

She shook her head softly and leaned in to whisper in my ear. As her voice hit my ear drum all the blood rushed from my face.

“I told you, handsome. I came for you.”

I felt as if she meant something by it, but I didn’t know what. The kids always came in here speaking what seemed to be a different language to us older folk. I could care less what she meant though, this attention was ravishing.

“Would you like a drink?” I asked her and turned toward the bar. Before I could look all the way away from her she grabbed my face and brought it back into her gaze. She stood up from her chair and embraced me with both arms, smothering my face in-between her chest. As she released me she leaned down and gave me a soft kiss on my cheek.

“Don’t worry about anything else. I just want you, handsome.”

I swallowed hard again, confused by the intentions of the flawless woman standing in front of me. I tried to lean away a little, to catch a glimpse of her eyes, to see if she was just fooling with me, but she brought me back and held me close again.

“Don’t you want me, handsome?” She asked me as her scent filled my nostrils. “Aren’t you lonely? I know I am everything that any man could dream of.”

“You’re stunning.” I croaked out. “Shouldn’t we leave though? Aren’t we doing too much in public?” I began to look around, knowing I’d catch the jealous eyes of my comrades. As I scanned the room, I took in a short breath of shock. We were alone.

“What in the…” I quietly said to myself. I pried the clinching woman to the side as I looked for the bars’ usual customers. No Samael, no Pete, no Terry, and, where the hell did Dan go!? I looked at the woman again, her smile was even bigger. I got an evil feeling from her and it made me even more uneasy.

“Where did they all go, Lilith?” I asked her quieter than I expected.

“Where did who go? You are all that matters, handsome.” She leaned in for another kiss and I tried to back away, but my body couldn’t resist. As her soft lips touched mine, I began to feel my strength give way to her. A feeling of anxiety fell over me. I had made love before, but it had never felt so, strange. She grabbed at the back of my head and nudged at me to stand up. I stood to my feet and she unbuckled my pants and dropped my underwear. She grabbed at my member and stopped kissing. She smiled and sat me down again. As she touched me my body began to feel weaker and weaker. I could only sit back and try to relish in the attention that the beautiful Lilith was giving me. She pulled her dress up slightly and pushed my chair back against the bar counter. My head bobbed back and my eyes began to flutter, as if I were going to faint.

“Glad I could work with you, handsome.” She whispered in my ear devilishly and let out a frighteningly high-pitched laugh as she sat upon my lap, again embracing me, squeezing the life out of me.

 

I open my eyes to a bright light and loud talking.

“Holy shit! We thought we lost you, buddy!” Dan says. He and Pete are standing above me as I lie on the ground. I could hear Terry in the background, calling the paramedics. I look around the room woozily, trying to find Lilith.

“Where did she go?” I whisper out of breath.

“Where did who go!? Who are you talking about?” Dan asks surprised.

“Her! Lilith! The beauty in the red dress.” I say agitated.

“What in the world are you talking about? It’s only been me, Pete and Samael! Right when Terry walked you nodded right off that barstool!”

“She was here… Lilith.” My eyes close and my breathing slows.

“You ever heard of, um, Lilith, Pete?” Dan asks to which Pete shrugs. “What about you, Samael?”

Samael stands with an arm resting at the jukebox and the other in his pocket, waiting for his song to end. Dan turns away from Adam and asks again,

“Lilith, Samael, Adam is over here blabbing about some Lilith! You know what he’s talking about?”

The song ends and Samael begins to walk out. He stops next to the slowly fading Adam.

“Accept your fate, men. You will all meet my dear succubus soon enough.” He walks the bar laughing quietly to himself.

Tears I Cannot Shed

These are the tears that I cannot shed. I feel them well up inside,

I feel the rush up my gut into my throat and to my face.

I feel them get right to the bottom of my eyes.

My heart sinks and my stomach turns uneasily.

The façade of a smile on my face fights to stay in place.

I muster, to the best of my ability,

A laugh.

But instead a sigh from deep within me explodes out.

I can feel the resistance built up over the years begin to crinkle.

My head begins to shake and my throat muscles tighten to the point where I cannot breathe.

I fight for air under the blanket of deep disparity that’s tagged along for years.

I reach for my chest and ball my fist,

I try to control my breathing but the demons inside also fight for dominance.

My mind gets bogged down in thoughts and memories of what should have been

And how things could have gone.

I think about all the times I didn’t care and all the fucks I could have given.

I shake my head.

The thoughts won’t go away, but I shake in hope that somehow I will find respite

I tell myself “let go, please, fucking let go.”

I want to let it out so bad but I cannot. I don’t know why. But inside,

My tears are kept.