Punk Rock Reaper by Mike Zone

Flash Fiction, Mike Zone, Poetry, punk

Mike Zone is the Editor in Chief of Dumpster Fire Press, the author of One Hell of a Muse, A Farewell to Big Ideas and Void Beneath the Skin, as well as coauthor of The Grind.  A managing editor at Concrete Mist Press, a frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl. His work has been featured in: Horror Sleaze Trash, Better Than Starbucks, Piker Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Outlaw Poetry and Cult Culture magazine.

Punk Rock Reaper

            ….and you wake up without a sense of makeup. What is my DNA? How much of it is determined by brain patterned and external stimuli as eyeliner washes through tears of bitter salt and sawdust sweat from the venue the night before, throat still hoarse from howling at the show, why do I got this bike chain and heart-shaped lock necklace around my neck and was I weeping again in bed not alone looking at someone who may not be a girl in my mohawk skull Molotov cocktailed eyes t-shirt…flaming, stumble back looking down at phantom pants.

A ghost stands before me in the outline of me, pants around ankles. Snicker almost laughing induced to vomit, the bathroom awaits but the body quivers.

Down back on back. A sense of vertigo, we do not die of death, but we die of spinning collisions star dust constructs underneath stars drinking poison, smoking poison, copulating sometimes in back alleys or the grounds of cracked up erupting parking lot.

Missing my pal, Shambles, mourning over a good year straight…they call me Rummy ‘cause I don’t drink or didn’t drink but used to talk like a pirate to the one-legged guy in the bar who never got the joke…was Shambles part of my makeup, is he part of makeup? Is that what the void is, the ghostly hole in my chest where my heart should be draining the color the world away…not really, just numb everything feels like it’s gone television static.

Straight edged ashen haired angels of the moonlit night looking to snuff out the sun, tattooed black magic marker-esque “x” to mark the spot of what doesn’t go through protruding veins: NO DRUGS, NO BOOZE, NO SEX, dangerously blowing away in the windblown world dancing like a Zen leaf propelled by the rapture of life, talking mystic shit, Jesus being Wizard, preaching on corners until one day the notion of a collective came in our minds, Shambles; shaggy haired blue in plaid pants and leather jacket

“We can be like spinning dervishes but punk as fuck with real anarchy in the USA. Get in touch with my old boy from Santa Cruz, we’ll head down there Rummy, make life what it is, spit in the face of this neo-fascist conformity. None of this vigilante sidekick shit for the man anymore, working office supply stores, like shaving legs and wearing chainmail underwear for the caped crusader but not truly making a dent in crime. Get me?”

We raised hell at Knockers, telling people how and where they went wrong and just as the sunrise gracelessness of a brand new day heralded itself as I fell before a porcupine pink haired girl looking all wholesome as a girl scout touched her hair earlier that day, something felt like a loss as I entered her something downcast from chest like an anchor weighing me to the planet as I blasted away prematurely while at that precise moment in time half way across town, Shambles whose life was anything but had his brains blown out on the sidewalk three steps from our door, face down…

NOBODY saw anything, turns out NOBODY happened to be EVERYBODY.

And in the moment when sex and death became interlocked on this mortal plane all sense that made sense of this world stopped making sense and the nonsensical absurdity of it all fell upon me like darkness, nothing star lit with a black canvas backdrop with Hollywood basement lights but an utterly cold onyx thing…invisible yet breathing inside me.

Looking around the apartment we both shared; nails and staples hanging out the walls where old flyers, posters and flags hung…it’s a mausoleum crucifying my mindscape with survivor’s guilt…I creep into the bathroom feeling a razor along my loins and open down below, the cabinet where I keep a jar of dirt intermingled with Shamble’s brains the pigs forgot to clean up, placed next to it is an old school rotary dial telephone-

            “In case you ever need to talk.” She says from behind, probing a grating memory as I sit Indian style with a receiver to my ear.

Something causes me to bristle, artic sweat bourbon scented…it’s a toxic flush without vomit or excretion. The subzero blood coursing through my body all of a sudden warms me comfort wise provoking the imagery of a hot chocolate being slide over to me in a bone chipped mug and a hug from behind by unseen hands from the lover never to be and I wonder if death has come for me ‘cause I haven’t exactly been living life…

If this is what you can call “life.”

            “But in that great wasteland of desolation slow-death as we grind to a halt growing with cancer the infinite materialistic bullshit stops killing us through blackout where you can see the universe being born.”

Shambles under a streetlamp, on top of me, grinding in an experimental way after a homophobic slur was made.

            “It sucks when shambles of memories are the only remains of someone who was anything but.”

She’s trying to get me to look at her and that’s when I remember The Doll House several blocks away and The Doll House looking at me in a series of dreams. I close my eyes and rise, starting to turn around knowing when my lids life, I’m going to be finding something just as depraved.

And I do…it’s what I’ve always suspected the eye-teeth of brain chomping at my soul-essence to be and I can read her mind almost, only it’s like seeing a movie…translated into audio neon light letters exploding psychedelically in a pocket of consciousness as sensory receptors adapt to reality; what happens when he fucks Death to create life in order to slay everyone in the nuclear cold war winter holocaust meant to be?

Maybe Death just can’t take it or doesn’t know what lies beyond those gates.

            “Of course I know what happens after you die Henry, I’m Death, not the wholesome girl you saw several years ago during your straight edge celibacy who was killed in that hit and run.”

I remember she looked at me and smiled until the yellow cab jumped the curb and she flipped up in the air landing on her back on the concrete, spike haired snapping at the point of impact like her spine and neck, looking at me with profound loss but devoid of feeling. Black leather coat and skirt with fishnet stockings like a funeral shroud.

Shambles taking me to a show that night, spinning and spinning telling me to focus on that loss and her eyes looking at the house lights coming down on us and even though I hated the world there was a moment of joy celebrating a stranger’s life and the sacred never to fully explored romance we probably would never have shared. Catching moonlight on my tongue as the cold snow descended, Shambles and Rummy arm in arm talking about taking solace in infinite loss where one can find infinite love.

“It may not be hardcore my friend at first glance, but these are the most brutal and sharpest words and experiences that refine our immortal engines into an equilibrium none of us can truly fathom until we die and don’t come back anymore.”

“You’re never going to be hear from him, Rummy. It’s over I suggest you quit trying to call him.”

Her face is the void. It’s a white-hot void, shining like a comet crashed and lodged into someone’s skull, her hair is strands of strands of shadow but shiny and fine. Is the entity Death evidence we came from stars? I know she won’t say as he places two slender ivory hands upon her naked hips making my t-shirt sexier than it ever was even after belonging to Shambles and not ever washing it after he died.

Is this death? Death as an entity talking to me. We all mostly cry when we’re born because we’re on the way toward end and that’s the sweet tragedy of it all as we pretend to live and I realized that despite what Shambles said, everything was wrong turning my black magic marker “X” tattoos into symbols of self-eradication rather than blockading those unholy influences…Give me all the sex. All the drugs. All the booze? Don’t give me no cares or false meanings, we’re all going down the same path…animals in the human in fake cages rendering us savages, savage is the root word for brave so it’s brave to be a savage and-

“Boring Henry, you’ve been given what everyone’s been given, a lifetime and here you go wasting it away.  Why? Due to a series of unfortunate events meant to challenge rather than deflate? I know the answer, but I ask you.”

“None of it’s real, why I should pay mind? Punks, posers, and Nazis in the street. I see them all despite all this existential cosmic reckoning Shambles told me about and it’s all a huge zero-sum loss devoid of anything real.”

“So, what do you want, despite having an entire lifetime to craft anything but even though to your mind it’s all meaningless?”

“Something real. Purpose. Meaning. Something where I know, I’m not dying all the time.”

“I’d like to smell flowers Henry, eat a piece of blueberry pie with some black coffee and be able to fall in love, bring life rather than take and when I shut the door to my own existence, leave into an eternity with a smile on the face that I don’t have.”

Something looming over me, picturing myself as a kid in the suburbs crewcut running across the grass, playing basketball in high school, sitting in an economics class in college and one day just getting up to say Fuck it. Was a virgin until Shambles got killed, didn’t become Rummy until I decided to drink and really become a Rummy without the pirate talk and about to say Fuck it again and jump out the fucking window.

“You’re too much of a coward to jump out the window Rummy. Don’t look at me like that, I’m Death as much I despise it and can no longer remain indifferent to it all, I see and know the end of everything which isn’t as pleasant as you’d think it to be even if my existence is saturated with purpose.”

“Do you know about my dream?”

“At The Doll House? Yes.”

“It happens tonight, doesn’t it?”

            Goosebumps along my neck as Death seems to be bristle and turn around with either fear or a heavy sense of shame and guilt and I have to wonder why she is paying me a visit, when in fact I have an idea and something like a smile of sickness spreads across the face that I wish I didn’t have and perhaps this is sense coming back and the entire point of things not mattering has brought me to this sensible sense of being right her and now.

Kismet. Death and I at the crossroads. Robert Johnson to the Devil for a guitar on the road to somewhere. Death and me in this bathroom in some sort of just as equally mythic exchange.

“For a man who doesn’t see the meaning of living, you sure have an ego, Henry.”

“I’m not Henry.”

She faces me and there’s a blue nebulous swirling in the glowing white-hot void.

“You’re not Rummy, either.”

“Did you prevent that fire?”

“It wasn’t time.”

“What?”

“It wasn’t my place to set that fire.”

Punk bastards. They all needed to die.

“Death transcends time, perhaps you’ll get your chance. If you can accept the responsibility, however I have to ask, why you’d take me away and bring me home if you didn’t want to die? Was it the thrill of dispatching various lives and the off chance of creating life amidst it all erotically charging for you or was it just flight or fight…live to procreate another day like another savage animal, a final act of bravery? See, I’d like your take on before moving on.”

“Moving on, where?”

“There are two scenarios Henry. One of them was where you lived to a ripe old age with the young woman you mistook me for last night but that won’t happen, obviously…no Henry, one is where you get the purpose you deserve for wasting a lifetime.”

“The other?”

“You jump out that fucking window, like you were contemplating. Some people can fight so hard, they can change what was planned all the way to their natural end.”

This isn’t real. I start pounding both sides of my head with each fist, feeling nothing. Eyes shut. Teeth clenched. I know my sins all too well and the reward for everything is all too great.

“Or so you believe, and you have to ask yourself, if its’ worth it.”

She’s not really speaking, her speech is invading my brain, I look over and Death crosses her arms.

“On my end, it’s totally worth it” She actually says.

Fuck her. Fuck them. Fuck everyone. Fuck Shambles. Fuck myself and most importantly fuck Death.

            I push Death out of the way and fall through someone that isn’t there crashing into the doorway, feeling a rib crack puncture something inside, a wet snapping noise, fluid where it shouldn’t be along the walls of my lungs, there’s no leap of faith but a jump from a fourth story window and it’s like I’m moving and it’s heading toward me like a freight train, numb to impact as glass shatters taking cracking blinds with me as the sidewalk launches upward toward my magnetically animated meet structure…head first melon explosion, there’s an eyeball near the gutter, I’m pretty sure is mine.

 There’s shrieking and another yellow cab hits a fire hydrant as I rise teetering back and forth, still able to see out of my remaining eye, I’m not dead yet, somehow walking all crooked like. The cab driver looks at me, and at first it isn’t who I called to pick me up on the morning I saw the girl, knowing the driver would be drunk and what he might do, it’s HER…then it isn’t and there’s the squeal of a tire and of course try to brace myself for impact seeing it my mind as I’m pinned to a shop wall with pink intestines on the hood and some yellow pus green oozed substances from chest, black bile out my mouth.

 He gets out the car but isn’t he…Death pulls out a transparent umbrella as I projectile vomit more bile.

            “Is this really what you desire?”

Something black like a lung slithers out my mouth, smelling of shit and gasoline.

            “You are a wicked creature, aren’t you? Self-proclaimed martyr. Manufacturer of sorrow. Deny yourself pleasure in hedonism, deny yourself pain in the shirking of responsibility but the universe doesn’t exactly work that way, things aren’t as random as you’d like to believe.”

She tosses the bile soiled umbrella and jumps on the hood of the cab, pulling me up by shaggy blue hair, plaid pants ripping, ankles shattering, lays me flat on my back, severed feet underneath the car’s muffler and straddles me.

            “Can you believe what was inside you? Does it even matter? No, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t, things that were supposed to happen didn’t happen but something else happened cosmically to sort of balance it out and here we are right now. You’re dying not like you were supposed to because you found a way to sabotage destiny with enough fateful disturbances and while I shudder to offer you an exit for which I know you deeply yearn for, I decided to make you work for it, even give you a way out because it’s more of a mercy than what you actually seek.”

Death begins grinding our pelvic regions against each other. My optic nerves catch on fire as light transforms to darkness and lightness into dark, space into void, void into space. She’s going to give me what I’ve always wanted.

It disgusts her and I love it.

Don’t have to fake nothing for no one anymore. No more lying to myself. An end to bourbon and gin drownings, heroin hazes and sexual distraction from self-deceit…yeah, I guess by chance I killed that girl with the intention of hopefully doing so, I vandalized various members of Nazi homes and punk’s hangouts blaming rival groups to meet up at The Doll House to instigate a brutal brawl to start an electrical fire and cook every last one of them with the chance of tasting a bit of crisped human flesh and lastly, yes I leaked Shambles plan to the local drug-lord because I started to believe there could be meaning and fuck him for attempting to relay it to me as I wanted none of that.

            She enters me with something I should have, organs bubbling and skeleton shattering as my blood dries up and prism lightning from eyes and mouth set the landscape aflame feeling like a tidal wave rather than the flames burning away this timeline of what is never to be.

The Doll House is a club for punks: some of the greatest ska and hardcore bands have played here but not tonight. It’s open MIC night but no one cares about your shitty poetry or your pretend skinhead band Reserve Garbagemen.

This is the end.

Death behind me, looking all human and cute with arms around my waist. I can’t see her, but my skull is a glowing white supernova, somehow, I can be outside of myself looking at myself in a leather spiked shouldered jacket, plaid pants, and car part mohawk, comet lodged in face, holding a bouquet of bad wires frayed at the edges and ready to go off.

The pandemonium is brutal: broken bottles shoved into Nazi skulls, Nazis shooting punks, posers hiding under tables being sodomized by Nazis who in turn are being raped for raping others, a green mohawked woman lights a bottle of whisky on fire throws at a bearded leather vested cretin with a blowtorch prying a rude-boy’s mouth open with a pair of pliers. There’s no music but the sound of carnage with skin breaking, veins twisted, furniture cracking and wet crashing.

            “This is what you’ve always wanted” She whispers.

I nod and plug the wires into my white-hot face and there’s a flash.

Dazed, curled up fetal on the sidewalk, I see Shambles. He shakes his head and turns away with the rest of them.

There’s some blackened meat hanging on a twisted melted pipe, but I can’t pick it up to taste it.

            “That’s because you’re dead.”

I know the voice, I never got a chance to hear but can’t feel myself shudder nor bring myself to weep as this is not the nature of my existence, though still crooked and bloody from memory in only plaid pajama pants, the corpse below with meat I tried to taste is mine, face blown out by frayed, sparked electrical wiring.

            She circles around me in her zany spiked universal void hair and white-hot supernova face in fishnets and short leather black shirt with the same combat boots.

            “Maybe we could have had something, but you decided to waste what we all got, and you wasted what little of mine I never got to have.”

I want to turn away and go where the others are going as I try to keep my eyes downcast.

            “You’re not going anywhere.”

I gaze up and past her to see a beautiful young woman with raven hair and emerald eyes wearing my t-shirt and a pair of black jeans. She buys some sunflowers from a homeless man and enters Clockwork’s Diner, a twenty-four-hour pie and coffee place located kitty corner from The Doll House.

            “She took what you wasted and gave me what you didn’t deserve.”

Something whips through me…I feel myself disperse like air and see two shabbily dressed kids on bicycles who apparently rode through me. The homeless man makes his way over, pulls his dick out and urinates through my mid-section.

She’s gone.

I’m nothing.

Four Poems from Mike Zone

Mike Zone, Poetry

The frog no one loves sang

Blood oath in the backyard

 where the gates of hell are

 naked in the womb of the desert sun

shooting lizards

when we left the thrift store

in secret celestial painted lust

red fists flying at the nazi bar/casino

the black church raided

 amid the setting sun

don’t tell me I saw the spheres of the universe

 in the blood-engine of your heart

sans the crucifix

 and melted candle wax doors

Beer with the devil

Talking to the devil

when you can say you’re not that kind person anymore but you still are

just quicksilver sliver of night shivering terror for the razor touch

she doesn’t haunt me anymore

nor do tragic mists and shipwrecking shark mouthed siren muses

my blood doesn’t flow in the water

like it used to

some of us

never outgrew Edgar Allen Poe and punk rock

some Camus for good measure

(as much as we’ve tried)

“What do you know about punk rock?” she asked

THE DEVIL- her, him, them, it- ALL OF US

glistening wet tobacco smile

light eyes, moist like an ocean reflecting stars , to dive into and soar the space ways

dark hair giving to waves kissed by fire

tattoos melt swirling to the tune of fluctuating body heat

“Nothing.”

downed my beer

did my shot

so did she

shudder of desire

six in a line

the bartender set before us

when in hell…

Dante and Milton had nothing on this

Untitled again and again

we’re all in cages

at the bottom of the sea

bone dust pudding

the human zoo

 sensual

 still born oblivion

If I had a prayer

Unfurled dandelion wine poured windblown hearts

Oh, how I see her singing to lovers clinging desperation rocks

I tip my hat to lonesome pilgrim unaware on the trial to unknown transformative revelation

eyes cat down toward dead futures based on dead orchestral lives

I don’t think we’ll meet again on the road in jest

familiar strangers seeking pure and narrow blaring from the simulation though it is fun to think so, isn’t it

come to speculate with me if you wish

husks rolling around mildew-soaked minefield laden grass

when the cyclone hits

may we all be entwined in a circle

at dusk

bellies down

hand in hand

on the concrete

unable to be

lifted up

dreadful heaven

earth-man’s fatal construct

of what not be

in an ocean of illumination among the darkness of being

Mike Zone is the author of One Hell of a Muse, A Farewell to Big Ideas and Void Beneath the Skin and co-author of The Grind.  Editor in Chief at Rogue Wolf Press and a managing editor at Concrete Mist Press, a frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl. His work has been featured in: Horror Sleaze Trash, Better Than Starbucks, Piker Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Outlaw Poetry and Cult Culture magazine.

A Fistful of Poems from Mike Zone

Mike Zone, Poetry

With

Good god

you’re a hate-filled creature

with a rotten soul- How can you be?

after flowing down stream

in endless nocturnal love

even across the continent

in several other ancestral countries

when day broke

you went about automatically

when night descended

the heart awoke

hungry for romance

lusting for something more

hoping for something

beyond temporary

dismal eternity

Midnight raw

Charley lost- the Devil won

I’m not the man

Rumi can put back together again

Everyone’s midsummer dream

my personalized sunsetting western nightmare

fiddle fingers broken

the optimist’s desire rendered inept

pale rider coming forth

on no mere albino beast

but a bone-plated muscle car raising dust- intermingled  ashen exhaust in the scorching sun

concrete is the foundation of the funeral pyre

of what we’ve lost in the fire

voices inside- fragmented calling you “liar”

for thinking less than what is more

something cold and slick

across your nude shoulder

no words

no clothes

of your own

how could you have been empress or emperor of the world?

radical nude exposure

let me know

at midnight raw

Capitalist therapy

Masks in the parking lot

car exhaust from mad shopping excursions choking the atmosphere

a bag of half eaten fast food bakes in the heat

yes sir, Amerika’s back in full swing

no contagion here

step right up and get your realest realism

but something just isn’t right

maybe a touch of evil

under patriotic circumstances

what is the purpose of life?

“Do an inventory, rolling good times versus tumbling bad times, audit what you don’t like”

“remember it won’t work until you pay your bill.”

She entered me

She triggered something in me

while it’s sad to see her go

her brilliant presence

her vivacious form

among the simulated reeds

let’s pick them 

play the music of dead possibilities

future world loneliness

‘cause we’re not all lost to the darkness

in the disjointed harmony of illumination

I believe this to be so

Of you

Of me

Of what this world

could be

Late in coming to this…

sitting along the shore with the sand beneath my feet

  and earthen mineral tributes honoring the flesh, contemplating star dust veins watching the sun crash only

it’s really setting in an accelerated mercury retrograde kind of vision as Shiva dances and we remember Martian lives

 before the fire

 after the flood

the crystalline womb chairs

liquid gold

 constantly morphing towers

shifting with our moods

malice, manic lust, joyful tension, divine contentment,

 I remember her glowing ivory tender hands

 illuminating my insides

 as we walked to the waterway

 contemplating the cosmic odyssey

 our ashes would float and transmit

across the galaxy creating new life

ever reaching infinite forces

 in this constantly fluctuating universe of ours

 yet here I am

without you

 staring at a picture of a man

on the shore

 examining warehouse cuts and bruises

 putting my brain inside his painted hollow artist rendered mind

 tracing my own long lost newly found universal journey, it’s a time of play and wonderment

maybe the best thing to ever happen, was

 when we jumped into the fire together

letting the waves of the past wash over consciousness

 as skin and innards burned into floating ashen seedlings of living myths and holy images upon mundane sacred trails…

and good golly how fun it is to decipher it all.

Mike Zone is the author of One Hell of a Muse, A Farewell to Big Ideas and Void Beneath the Skin and coauthor of The Grind.  Editor in Chief at Rogue Wolf Press and a managing editor at Concrete Mist Press, a frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl. His work has been featured in: Horror Sleaze Trash, Better Than Starbucks, Piker Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Outlaw Poetry and Cult Culture magazine.

Panic, Passion…Pancakes by Mike Zone

Blue Collar Noir, Fiction, Mike Zone, Punk Noir Magazine

Panic, Passion…Pancakes

(Dedicated to the crew…you fuckers know who you are)

It was a morning full of sun but there was a melancholy quietness about it which kind of haunted the air reminding me of that Hitchcock movie where the birds come down and peck all the people to hell…I couldn’t quite recall the title but there I was sitting at table nine with the usual crew on the nineth day of the nineth month at the nineth hour of the morning, distracted by the absence of bird sounds feeling something bad was about to happen but no one seemed to notice trapped inside their own similar phone prisons that told us we were all the same but different so I knew making mention of anything outside of what we were here for outside of that tiny mobile screen would be useless. Who gave a fuck about nature anyway?

Once you were inside Flapjack Stacks the only thing that mattered was the kind of syrup and toppings you were going to desecrate your body with as one consumed a stack of plate sized specialty pancakes. Crisping pork flesh filled the air along with sizzling chicken fetus, chopped onion, raw batter and alcohol stained sex from various nights before oozing from a multitude of pores…lots of families went to Flap-Jack Stack on Sundays right after church to stress eat about going to hell and take it out on the slaves working in the strip mall, it was a Sunday but church wasn’t out yet and that’s why we were there.

I hated table nine. The waitress brought us there. She acted like she didn’t know us and treated us like shit, even though we’d been going there for years. Table nine and I had history. She didn’t share that history just hated other people who worked for a living because she didn’t want to work for a living because it all added up to nothing for her, so no one eating here was going to swoop in like a superhero and save her with a middle class life to make her their middle class wife, when she couldn’t even afford to go anywhere outside of work.

Life was over. Maybe that’s why, she got table nine.

I rolled a small joint as I sat down and tucked it behind my ear to demonstrate what a low life I was and smiled at her like I was going to kill her and have stuffed in some twisted love-struck way. She held head up high pretending like she had self esteem and was going to attend a private school and abruptly walked off as the rest of the guy’s snickered. I noticed the little extra wriggle she gave her ass as she walked away, it was instinctual she didn’t mean it, soon very soon she’d cave into the wrong guy, who wasn’t me. I leaned back with my eyes closed trying to imagine tapping that from behind.

“Fuck, I hate table nine.”

Armand chuckled know the history of most it, except what had happened a month before, I was still in my neck brace about to address Boris only to realize he had been deported and Tom had brought Boris’ cousin “Richie” in place of him. A few years ago, it was a golden age of filing serial numbers off guns in my loft and grooving out barrels to make bullets untraceable. Shortly after my ex left, I had asked Boris who I had known since the seventh grade for about ten thousand dollars to cover about a year in rent.

“Tony, I don’t have the money, but I know how we can make it.”

I kept my place, got a little deeper but pulled out once I got a warehouse gig and finished school to work for a text book company swindling students from all over the socioeconomic spectrum, it was cool until we got bought out and shut down by one of our rivals and here I was almost thinking of getting back to into things with a wide array of connections. Boris literally got pulled out of his apartment by a swarm of FBI agents for having a cache of illegal weapons and drugs, went through eight different prisons in a year and wound up back to where he came from returning to hopefully not the pile of rubble that was his shelled home back in the old country during the siege.

As for his cousin…

Richie wasn’t his real name; it was going to be his chosen name when he officially became an American citizen. He’d always puff out his chest and tears would well up in his eyes whenever he’d bring it up and how the land of opportunity allowed his family’s cleaning business to flourish, Richie didn’t know that his dad got Boris into the real cleaning business which wasn’t as much cleaning as much as covering for people who weren’t supposed to exist but that’s another story for another time. Richie was a good kid.

“Bro’, once wrong with table nine?”

I sighed, thinking of where and how this was going to go.

Luckily Tom, grabbed Richie’s hoodie and turned his American flag pin right side up.

“Dude, you want to be an American you can’t disrespect the flag like that. You got to keep watch over it, she’s your motherland now.”

“I’m sorry bro, I’m sorry.”

Armand smirked at all this, he smirked at everything whether it was actually funny or wicked, he was kind of fucked from the copious amounts drugs over the years along with being sexually abused in a refugee camp in Germany which led to some strange dark paths here.

“Man, Richie…I cried when I became a citizen.”

“Really bro?”

“Yeah, I still cry.”

“Why bro.”

“I cried for the homeland before we left, looking at our cat before the bombs blew it up. I cried when we got on the boat. I cried when we came here. I cried at my first American feast of fried chicken and orange soda. I cried when I became a citizen because the life, I knew was completely gone on paper, I was an American now.”

“What the fuck you saying that shit for,” Tom exclaimed, pounding his fist on the table.

“We’re free.”

“Yeah, Tom…totally free, I can choose my soda, what to put on my pancakes, but I can’t choose to live outside any of this,” Armand gestured around.

“Fuck you, you sound like the black guy’s at work.”

Tom was everything America was but wasn’t. He was the surface the corporate media wanted, a moderate with family-oriented values who was softly bigoted but fairly decent about it, hated paying taxes, shrugged his shoulders at war and didn’t vote. His grandpa used to be a high powered lawyer before dementia set in, it was rumored Tom’s family secretly owned the police department in several counties which explained the astronomical number of times Tom crashed his truck into trees and literally defecated and urinated on factory and cutting room floors, shrieking about the right to work whenever a union steward wanted to talk.

Tom didn’t believe in college. He believed in working with his hands, which really meant falling into a pool of blood money he got from just sitting back and inheriting. He didn’t have many friends rich or poor, because he pretended to be one or the other among the wrong ones, so he stuck to us like a parasite which meant he was loyal and reliable out of loneliness.

“Bro, what this about table nine?”

“Bad things always go down at table nine.”

Tom laughed recalling the drunken and heartbroken time I descended upon a butch lesbian who insisted she liked girls and how me made out hard in front of everyone in broad daylight only to find out she was transwoman and wanted to me to later come over and help her write a book about her life.

That was a table nine story BUT that wasn’t the story, Richie was going to hear…

I bristled as Armand’s eyes shifted knowing to where our association with table nine stemmed from and what it was connected to and how every story when it keeps going eventually ends in tragedy and it’s not an opera until somebody cries.

“It’s where I met…the girl.

Pearl, my pearl in an ocean of sorrow when I hit bottom and needed a reason to breath for air, so lifted it up to the light out of the water to see the shine sparkle on her. It was a marriage between Heaven and Hell that eventually became an inferno when we were on the verge of getting married which was the reason we were all here together today due to the fallout of what I had to do after she or rather her dad worked on taking my future away, here condemning me to what we once affectionately deemed the “The Company” which had to do work for “The Organization” which co-existed in a love/hate kind of way with “The System” which really loved it all but pretended to hate it.

“You could say that’s when the trouble started but it was just the seed, really…”

The seed planted was hope, the trouble was the actually sprouting out and crawling from the gutter, she help me find who I wasn’t in all of this, encouraged me to go back to school and go to law school so I could become a lawyer maybe give other working class thugs like me a fighting chance…only I never got go to law school, I was unofficially marked, black listed from any real positive prospects, her dad and the deacon played golf with the judge and the lawyer they hired did work with for our fascist governor and normally busted unions for a living. It didn’t matter what happened or how it went down, only I won but had to pay for it and the pound of flesh wound up being a future in law. The nearest thing I could do was allegedly ghost lawyer and do people’s bankruptcies for them, a boring ass phantom melting in the shadows, working as a barback to most people I just seemed like a middle aged failure who only knew how to sling half drunk beer glasses and fuck…I didn’t fuck all that much but I could sure secretly lawyer, snort cocaine and masturbate out of frustration reading Russian literature.

The pancakes arrived. The highlight of the day. Perhaps a final meal part of the last rites for the devil’s bargain made but not kept. Funny, how you can never exactly focus on the face or other details of a person when their heralding something great, whether it’s food to sustain a ravenous hunger or sex, the experience consumes you rather than you actually doing the consumption but to hell with philosophy it was pancake eating time at Flap Jack Stacks where even if things were to go wrong, you’d die fully satisfied, fuck everything else including the end of the world.

“Bro…” Richie was astonished by the sight of the All American: plate sized butter milk pancakes, sausage, bacon baked in like berries topped with corned beef hash, shredded American cheese, steak tips and ketchup. His eyes glazed with a misty pride.

“I’m an American.”

Armand snickered and look down at his plate and beamed with his own peculiar type of pride at the Po’ Panda, same pancakes covered vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, black berries for nose and chocolate chips for eyes and for some reason strawberry jam for blood foaming out of it’s mouth. He cleared his throat and nodded to me.

“Tony…it was a great idea coming here, you know the first time I knew we were truly friends, we ate at this table and I ordered these pancakes feeling like a true American, you were my first real American friend because you were genuine and not an asshole looking for a token foreigner.”

“Why don’t you just suck his dick and ask him to marry you?” Guffawed Tom, who held his fork like a caveman and stabbed into a sausage atop the Texan, which was whatever someone from Ohio thought should go on a Texas styled stack of pancakes topped with butter and barbecue sauce and a single jalapeno.

I took a slug of coffee and looked at my crew, missing Boris. We both used to get the same thing, Big Blue; buttermilk blueberry pancakes because we were basics bitches or rather anything but and that was the joke which as every joke has a nugget of truth, and at the heart matter, aren’t we all pretty basic?

“Tony Bordello in the House of Jack!”

Chris James swaggered in , obnoxious white sunglasses and all, knowing Tom would be there in his army fatigues and assault rifle, Chris felt the need to outdo him; in stars and stripes track pants, backwards white ball cap with Uncle Sam flipping the bird and of course a bazooka strapped on his back to offset his black DANCE , DANCE, DANCE t-shirt. Bordello wasn’t my last name either, it was Bordeaux, but Chris was an obnoxious asshole, you couldn’t help love.

“Have no fear everyone, my weapon of choice is disabled like my cheating ex-girlfriend’s new man!” He proclaimed to frightened patrons and uneasy friends alike. He shook hands all around the table like a spastic coke fiend, shaking so much you didn’t know if he was going to lift off and collide with the moon.

“Bordeaux, man…you remember that time we sat here and those goofy fuckers we’re drunk and talking about killing some guy’s girlfriend’s boyfriend and they bought us pancakes and the next day they were on the news ‘cause they really did fuckin’ murder that guy…anyway I gotta take a shit!” He thumbed toward the bathroom and blasted off in more ways than one.

I remembered the night.  I had just starting going with Pearl, those two wanted to get ecstasy and have all of us run a train on her, when they found out we were dealing at raves, only we didn’t have any and the weaselly guy jumped up and down sputtering…

“We’ll get the bitch so drunk, stick that booty out the back window with duct tape, charge five dollars a pump! God, I’m so horny! Started drinking at 5am!  Woke up from a dream, bathing in my girlfriend’s blood!”

The prospect of atrocity seemed to be attracted to the dynamics of Pearl and I which is why I was in this neck brace, sitting among old friends waiting for something wicked this way to come at table nine. The crew was gathered, and it was time for them to know why, Chris had known the story without even asking, he transcended “The Company” and could be considered an extended “family member of middle management in relation to “The Organization”.

“There’s always a story with you Tony.” He told me as soon as he picked up the phone before anything could be said. He knew why and agreed to what I was going to ask before it could be asked; we were homeless and used to feed each other when we lived off the streets, even did a couple of low level jobs, I just got out of the tractor beam of “The Organization” on time, while Chris got further pulled in, deeper into a specialized trade that eventually left him on borrowed time, as he had recently had surgery for an aneurysm due to the excessive amounts of coke and acid he had taken over years. It didn’t work and I’m sure the now brutal and more frequent intakes of coke, meth and whiskey weren’t helping, one week later.

I poked an over easy egg and drowned a strip of bacon into it. Tom shook his head and laughed.

“Worst Jew ever.”

I grimaced, it was forced there was barely any laughter left inside of me and Armand noticed. He took my hand.

“Tony? How’s your dad?”

Something broke inside of me and blurted on the edge of weeping.

“I done fucked up guys, it’s over.”

“Bro, what’s over.”

“Everything.”

The levy broke and it all came flooding out.

“Pearl’s dad had to take one last dig, knowing he couldn’t touch me…my dad’s cancer is back, he can’t get Medicare, right? Got a dishwashing job so he could have insurance, they fired his ass for no reason, told him he wasn’t welcome there anymore showed him write-ups he never signed, manager said his friend Renaldo Salucio knew a guy by Tony Bordeaux, ‘Any relation? A junior perhaps?’ Laughed in his face, my dad’s going to forgo treatment he can’t afford now without insurance. “

“Bro, what are going to do?”

“It’s not what I’m going to do…it’s what I did.”

“Tony, when you strike back- “

“I’m a fucking monster, Armand.”

“Tony, every time you’ve done something to get back at someone it’s because they deserved it. You show them a bit of mercy, they laugh at you and poke you again…you’re like an animal in the forest, you can show the people where the food is, help them survive, protect them, show kindness, then they beat the animal with a stick, back him against the wall, cage him and wonder, why did this beast rip my arm off?”

“Shut the fuck up with your gay ass poetry. Damn, Tony don’t go all sissy with tears what did you do and what’s with the neck brace?”

Armand’s eyed widened, his mouth dropped as he slumped against the booth.

“Tony, you did it, didn’t you?”

“I couldn’t help it…Armand, I’m a fucking monster…that’s why I told you guys to come packing, it’s the end.”

Tom stopped shoving food in his face when it dawned on him what it could’ve been, remembering the one thing which frightened even Boris.

“Tony, god damn it, you didn’t…”

“Bro, what did you do? Bro, what did he do? Bro what the hell is going on?”

“The crack-whore? Was it the crack-whore? Don’t tell us it was the friggin’ crack-whore.”

“You unleashed Nancy, didn’t you?”

“You got back with her?”

“No, guys far worse than that.”

“Bro, who’s Nancy?”

“Nancy is the Devil, one time your cousin, thought of shooting  her ‘cause she said he was a pussy for bringing a gun to a dope deal but he didn’t think the bullets would stop her when she pissed off this one dude who smacked her with a brick in the face…didn’t even phase her, bitch was so high and crazy. You didn’t fucking get back with her, did you?”

“No, no…I declared my love for her, told she was the one and how wrong I had been about everything, especially us.”

Armand shook his head in dismay as Richie nodded pretending to know what was going on as I wondered why it took so long for Chris to take a shit. Tom pounded the table with his fork and huffed.

“You stupid mother fucker!”

Nancy was my girlfriend from way  back when, we used to make ecstasy or rather she did as she was good with chemicals and I’d sell it at raves until she got into crack but her lawyer parent’s eventually cleaned her up and she wound up getting three master’s degrees; one in political science, chemistry and business management…her job was inheriting money from her dead cancered up mother and suicidal father, while gravitating toward a slew of prescription drugs to keep her normal with others to counter act the side effects of the initial prescriptions along with the legal highs of a multitude of painkillers and unheard of amounts of alcohol. Her body was a perfect drug intake machine almost making her  superhuman, a demon in the sack, coupled with a trauma inflicted mind , spoiled rich kid syndrome and corporate filtered news, she was a soul sucking succubus that not only devoured your sex organs but consumed your sanity and recycled the will to live into something so twisted and bizarre you never knew exactly where you were and how you’d get out.

“I couldn’t help it, I needed revenge so bad…I went to her…these people are never going to recover, the old man’s legacy is gone, his shit he valued with his money…all gone, he can’t get it back without plundering his own retirement and Pearl…Pearl’s  infertile and totally fragmented from her family, her new husband beat her so bad she’s on life support.”

“She got The Movement involved.”

“That bad ass freedom fighting group?” Tom was elated by the revelation.

“She’s bankrolling a new local chapter; they want to overthrow the government and they’re actually white supremacists.”

“You can’t join them, who ever heard of a Jewish Nazi?”

“Bro, they’re not coming here, are they?”

“No, most of them are gone…I outed what they did to the police giving names, it all went down, but Nancy escaped.” I pointed to my neck brace.

“She tried to snap my neck after I got up in bed and told her I made a terrible mistake and how every time we have sex, I always get a guilty sick feeling in my stomach and that I could never be with her. Then I begged her not to commit suicide, she once told me how if I ever rejected her again she would go off in the woods, take a bunch of ecstasy, crack and acid and just wander all drugged out until she died heartbroken but tragically fake happy.”

I drained the last bit of coffee from my bone chipped mug, took a sip of water and cleared my throat.

“I saw those baby blues glisten and harden into something dark, Armand. She manically laughed, it was otherworldly, asked me about The Movement. When I declined, she pounced on me trying to break my neck, giggling ‘I’m going to make it so you can’t move and learn what it is for someone to take your ass against your will.’ I got away in a way I’m not proud of with what she and I used to call ‘love taps’. She screamed at me how she would never let a cheap Jew from a poor ass family join The Movement anyway and that I had a small dick and didn’t know how to use it and how she was going to crush and create a union to crush all other unions.”

Bro, what does that even mean?”

“Man, other than the killing you part, this chick is starting not to sound bad after all.”

“Tony, you’re my best friend, I love you like a brother, you’re going to be fine, we’re all going to be fine.”

“We’re not fine. None of us are fine. She is a pill crazed, toxic chemical laced blood hate filled abomination and she is coming here to kill us and anything that gets in her way. I’m hoping everyone is packing.”

They all nodded. Armand snickered.

“Remember when Nancy called me: ugly, fat, stupid and disgusting and I asked, “Yes Nancy, I am ugly, fat, possibly stupid and even disgusting but even so, shouldn’t I be allowed to have love and affection?”

I nodded with a sheepish smile at half of it being true.

“NO!” I mocked shrieked emulating my crack whore femme fatale set to do us all in.

We all shared a laugh and a few snorts until like a movie there was a crash, and glass breaking, a haunting silence followed by a shrill spiteful inquiry.

“WHERE IS HE?” She screamed, decked out in an American flag jump suit, sporting mom’s apple pie baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and an un-American katana blade in the other.

“I don’t care how many of you have to die, I am here to destroy this god damn Jew!”

The busboy tried to intervene, a young kid about sixteen threw his bus tub at her. Nancy sliced it half and smacked him against the side of his head with the bat.

“All lives matter! The Movement will keep moving!”

The climax of the third act of this carnage filled real life cartoonish murder film (I had always wanted to screen write, one of the many things I couldn’t afford to do) had arrived and what lesson we learned would depend on who lived after the credits rolled. The bus boy’s execution resulted in a flown blown counterattack. Strangers protecting a stranger they didn’t even know existed all to render another’s stranger’s life with meaning in the dispatching of a foul stranger’s presence. Silverware flew, followed by chairs, and furious bodies with pounding fists with even a few guns thrown in there. We pulled our own heat out and started blasting away to join the fray in the hopes of stopping her but Nancy her baby blues and curly red hair accentuated by her jumpsuit at her diminutive height gave her the statue of a hungry god in need of human sacrifices, trained a bit in martial arts, jumping, dodging she followed with a thrust of the sword into a vital organs, spinning like a tornado limbs flew in every direction, blood spraying likewise as the bat she held tore skin, crunched bone and brain damaged lives. What she couldn’t block or miss, lodged into her skin.

We caught each other’s glances.

My beautiful death-machine, a blood veil across her face.

Our bullets ran out, she kept going among the wreckage of bodies, gritting her teeth with an animalistic glare. We threw our guns at her. No words could be said.

“YOU ARE NOTHING, I COULD’VE HAVE GIVEN YOU LOVE!”

Armand threw himself in front of me as Tom dove under the table and Richie frozen in fear.

“Fuck love!” I pushed Armand out of the way ready to pay my dues, none of it mattered anymore and the good sure as hell didn’t outweigh the bad, I was ready to go and just give it all a rest.

“I never wanted love, I never wanted you.”

Nancy stopped, perplexed.

“I never met anyone that didn’t want love.”

“I never wanted it from anyone, and I never got it when I needed it. You were just supposed to be a one-night stand but I felt sorry for you when you asked to call you, I stayed with you because I was desperate for a place to live, I became your friend out of guilt but you got your share of misery out of me over the years, it’s over.”

“It’s done, when I say it’s done, you stupid, uneducated, gay, loser ignorant waste of man.”

“It’s over, bitch. Step off, or I’ll use it.”

Chris stood outside the bathroom aiming his bazooka at her. Nancy turned around with a grin.

“Aww, is the brain-damaged piece of shit going to use his big toy instead of his tiny penis to try and please me? Maybe you can join your dead mom and Tony’s dead mom in a sick three way in Hell like the faggot you are!”

“I’ll, do it.”

“DO IT!” Nancy threw her sword at Chris; the blade went through his shoulder as he pulled the trigger and what we thought was disabled was actually quite capable.

Nancy was gone. People were gone. Part of Flapjack Stacks was gone.

Chris was bewildered, looking between us and the bazooka on the floor.

“I was just trying to scare her. It wasn’t supposed to work. Honest, man…am I good guys?”

Armand put an arm around Chris and looked solemnly at me. Tom was curled into the fetal position weeping for Boris possibly mention something about love, but I didn’t want to notice nor care. Richie vomited, wiped himself with his napkin and calmly took the scene in.

“Bro, my dad can get one of a hell contract out of this.”

It was hot, I zipped open my black hoodie and was irradiated I still got coffee on my white t-shirt and sighed.

“I don’t think your dad’s going to be able to clean this up, Richie.”

 

Mike Zone is the author of  One Hell of a Muse, A Farewell to Big Ideas  and Void Beneath the Skin and coauthor of The Grind.  Editor in Chief at Rogue Wolf Press and a managing editor at Concrete Mist Press, a frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl . His work has been featured in: Horror Sleaze Trash, , Better Than Starbucks, Piker Press,  Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, The Whiskey Rye Review and Cult Culture magazine.

 

 

 

Three Poems from Mike Zone

International Noir, Mike Zone, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Advice from La Mancha

No one knows you

when you’re down

Don’t step into the ring

unless

you know

you’re going to win

God is the only  true judge

Death comes

to rich and poor

apartment, mansion…

we’re not promised

another day

But I say to you

everyone struggles

From the goodest hearts

comes the evilest intent

be kind

(NONE OF IT HELPED)

 

Masks in the streets

Masks in the streets

the lions don’t roar

there’s masks in the streets

spilling left over contagion

from the sheets

masks in the streets

from hot summer night excursions

pornographic pandemic rendezvous

where the infected

slip and slide

in one another

thrusting towers

in secret wonderment

masks in the streets

same as it ever was

only in your face

behind dwindling daylight veils

how morning dew resembles

viral fever sweat

masks in the streets

death-rattle blues

let’s disregard folly and forget social contract lies

let’s commit our crimes at sunrise

high noon armed robbery at the food bank

dressed as Dali

masks in the streets

we’ll shoot fake healthcare workers in cold blood

spreading whatever it is around

in protest for their haircuts

and yelling at waitstaff

masks in the streets.

 

Nothing like the sun

Men without women

red bench- drunken sex on the floor

picking tomatoes

with migrants in the sun

daylight unhindered

in the glory of afternoon toil

observing nature sound

no sensual trickster pleasure

but the sight of  imaginary thee

free to be

but a humble friend

of the earth

 

Mike Zone is  a managing editor at Concrete Mist Press, the author of Void Beneath the Skin and A Farewell to Big Ideas, a frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl . His work has been featured in: Horror Sleaze Trash,  Cajun Mutt Press,Outlaw Poetry, Piker Press, Synchronized Chaos, The Whiskey Rye Review and Cult Culture magazine.

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