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#BuddhaBukowski

brick-bukowski-png

“I don’t know a damned thing in this life, but what is shown to me by life, itself.”

#Buddha Bukowski

 

This blogger is writing a novel.

I’ve never done that before, unless you count that failed attempt that ended after a hundred-and-fifty pages, back around the turn of this century.  A novel about a man, his thoughts, and and his coffee.

A man who was also a serial killer, but I digress.

I wrote it while I sat, alone, in a used book store at the corner of Torrance Boulevard and Prospect Avenue.  My store, as it was going out of business, in the midst of the small retail depression of post-9/11, America.

“Get out and buy stuff, people!  If you don’t, the terrorists will win!”

The doors of my store closed for good in April of 2002.  The only things I took with me were a few now-mildewed books, and that half-finished novel.  The only evidence of which is a single, printed copy on a hundred-and-fifty, eight-and-a-half by eleven sheets of plain paper, locked away, never again to see the light of day.

I buried that story, just like I buried everything else from that life.  I buried it under the books, under the years, under a lifetime of unfulfilled dreams.  Until a funny thing happened on the way to becoming someone else.  I became who I already was.  And another book was born.

Another book, and another character.

This day, in this post, I introduce you to the man who sat behind the counter of a failing used book store, invisible behind a computer screen, barely knowing where he’d come from, and not knowing at all where he was going.  The man who would one day write more than a hundred-and-fifty pages of forgotten words.

The man who would become fiction.

Buddha Bukowski.

In the months to come… because this is what the world of indie publishing has become in the years since I started writing… I will be dropping hints about this novel-in-progress using the hashtag #BuddhaBukowski, one of the two main characters in the book.  This, because it helps let the world know that I created a character with a very distinct name, and so that everyone who reads this post, or sees the hashtag across social media, will, by using it, help me welcome this book into the public consciousness before it ever hits the shelves.

More to follow…

Serial – Two: In the Distant Shimmer

mirage

Happiness is an illusion.  We are told it can be found like water we are convinced exists in the distant shimmer of a mirage.  One step, one lunge, one gulp of hot sand meant to slake the very thirst that was created by the illusion itself.  Self-perpetuating.  Self-fulfilling.  Self-defeating.  It kills as it gives life.  Slowly, and with the surety of a lover’s skilled hands.  Convincing us that the way things are, is the way things should be.  Even if we die in the process.

 

© Copyright 2015 Bill Friday

Serial – One: I’m Sorry

billfridaydotcom SERIAL 01

I say “I’m sorry” almost every time I stop long enough to take it all in.  A breath held deep, and released slow.  A long pull and swallow of a cold, bitter beer.  A glance that lingers in the wrong direction.  Every one an unfortunate reminder of a broken something that can never be set right, like a bone to be mended.  Only to be lived with, limped on.  The pain, dull and almost forgotten, a reminder.

© Copyright 2015 Bill Friday

With Baggage

nano BAGGAGE

 

“What do you want?” I asked.

“I only want… you”, she said.

“Do you?” I replied.  “Do you want… me?

I come with baggage…”

“…I come with baggage, full of the existence I knew before you.  Of adult children and their mother, and enough sorrow to ruin lives to the third and fourth generation.  I come with highs and lows that swell and crash like waves on broken rocks in the middle of winter doubts.

“I come with failures reminiscent of the taste inside my mouth, the morning after a night of beer and whiskey on the couch, and the smell of my sin-soaked soul.  I come with an unfulfilled need for acceptance, never once embraced in the affectless arms of another.

“I come with a misguided sense of right and wrong, that clouds my reason and draws me to hopeless causes until my strength is gone, and I quit without warning.  I come with all optimistic insanity, born of a faith that has since died, but continues to grow like the hair and nails of a corpse lying unclaimed in the morgue.

“I come with blind eyes, wide open to the faults in the one to whom I choose to give my soul, and I come with hearing ears, straining to understand, hanging on every word of the one for whom I wish to lay my heart down.

“I come with passion and desire.  I come with tenderness and care.  I come with strength and force, infliction and remorse, but most of all I come with the belief that if something is yours, no power invisible or other, can stand against it.  Most of all, I come with love…”

“Do you?” I replied.  “Do you want… me?”

 

© Copyright 2015 Bill Friday

Morning Breath

morning breath

Will you still want me when I have morning breath,
or the hair I have left
sticks up in ten wrong directions at the same time?

I don’t rise and shine before nine on Saturdays,
and I watch hockey
on TV
in my underwear till three.

Will you still look me in my eyes when we screw
in the afternoon,
or will you decline
and tell me to fuck you from behind,
and not look at me,
as the light fades from the room?

Not that I have a problem with it,
unless I want to remember how your face moves
when I move through
you like you commanded.

Will you still kiss me as you leave,
in the bulb light,
when I don’t know your last name,
like your first,
as it echoed off the walls of this bare room?

When I still thought good was right,
until the fade of day to night
let me see
the thing I want for what it is.
Gone.

And is that your real phone number,
or the Compton DMV?

© Copyright 2015 Bill Friday

The Dark Road Called Forward

photo c 2014 Bill Friday

photo c 2014 Bill Friday

 

[My world is lately upside-down. Its only direction is the road before me, and it is called, Forward.]

I have a past. We all do. Mine is dark behind me, and strewn with the debris of unchangeable regret. The burnt and mangled wreckage of unsuspecting lives, forfeit to the fog-wet highway, taken too lightly. Captured only in digital reminders of the worst ending, never imagined, and what must have been the better times before. Times of lies rightly told, and fears suppressed long enough to enjoy the promise of surroundings that would fade away, locked safe inside grief’s scrapbook.

The open road, at night, looks like life. There is only what’s in front of you, insufficiently lit. Just enough light to aim yourself, hurtling, into more dark. Behind you, there is nothing on which to dwell. A last stop, last road sign, last lane change. Or anything more than the shadows of what might be gaining on you. And in the distance, there are the cities, distant, shining. Waking dreams, miles away and full of the hope you foolishly still hold onto, silent, in your heart. Silent, because you know that, while they were once beautiful, they are now just the out-loud promises you weren’t meant to keep. Mystical, glowing, still drawing you like a vision of your own clever words. But up close, jagged, and beyond forgiveness. A blue neon cement-scape of lives crumbled, and nothing but dirt in the details.

So you accept only what you can see in the light right before you. You trust only that the destination ahead is there as you’ve been told, and that it waits for you. You let all there is, shining in the distance, go.

And you stay on the dark road called Forward.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Bill Friday

From the Stage at Kadie’s

sin city kadies

 

She pours me coffee and flirts right through me with her eyes, and a smile, in my direction.  I know I’m not the only one, but a man can dream.  So I smile back, and let myself like it.  I tell myself it’s the free coffee that keeps me coming back.  But tonight I know that isn’t true.  It’s her eyes when she smiles that keep me coming back.  Anyone can give you free coffee, but free coffee, and that smile, warms a man more than coffee ever could.  When it happens, that smile with those eyes, it’s like looking at a full-color, quarter-page panel from a Frank Miller graphic for the very first time.  It’s like Nancy seeing Hartigan from the stage at Kadie’s, locking eyes with his, on the night of his impending demise.

So, just for tonight, I chose to be honest with myself and accept that the coffee, like watered-down booze at Kadie’s, isn’t the reason I keep coming back.

And I let myself like her smile and her eyes, and the way they warm the last place still alive inside me.  A place where coffee cannot go.

And I dream.

 

© Copyright 2014 Bill Friday

Vanilla Monitor

ukrainian hooker

So, this Ukrainian hooker walks into my Starbucks… well, not my Starbucks… I’m not Magic Johnson.  The Starbucks I started calling my office because, anymore, I have no willingness or ability to write at home.  Saturday night was pretty quiet.  I’m sitting in one of the fart and latte colored leather wingback chairs in the corner, drinking my coffee, and deciding between writing something deep and brooding… or just saying “fuck you” to the night and wasting an hour on Facebook till the barista who always tries to charge me full pop for refills kicks me out at 10.

And then, it happened.

She walks into my Starbucks.

Five-five in six-inch heels… black fishnets with a miniskirt, and some kind of faux fur jacket of indeterminate species… white-blond hair, and even whiter skin.  Looking just like that Ukrainian girl on the late-night TV commercial for that pay-for-play, video chat service.

Don’t judge me.

Only this one wasn’t looking all “come fuck me, Ah-mey-ree-can Man” like the blond in the commercial.  This one was looking like she had a dirty little secret, and no one to share it with.  Sitting on the back of the wooden chair closest to the milk and napkins and powdered condiments, she spent a good two minutes pretending to read the newsstand apartment guide that she held upside-down in one hand.  Another minute went by with the Ukrainian hooker looking in every direction but mine.  I swore she had to be casing the joint.

And it happens.

Like a pro… well, a professional at something… she strikes.  In a single motion, she’s reaching out her free hand, while her unread newsstand apartment guide opens wide in the other.  Just like the “breaching sharks” they show every year on Shark Week.  She strikes, and just like that, it’s gone.  The lone, unguarded shaker of vanilla, ripped from the condiment stand full of other, more popular options.  Gone!

And in four, maybe five strides, the Ukrainian hooker is lost in the night.

“Did you see what the fuck just happened?!!”

Denise, the other barista, was shouting at me and at no one, all at the same time.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

“That fucking hooker just stole my vanilla!”

© 2013 Bill Friday

Coffee Mandatory

Coffee Mandatory

Coffee Mandatory

 

Just so you know… I never planned to fall in love.

It started out as nothing more than a relationship of convenience. Like sex for a green card or the wash of a windshield for a couple of bucks at a stop light in Santa Monica. A fucking transaction. No emotion… no feelings. Just a need meeting another need. No romance, no flowers… just the glare of a naked bulb at sunrise, and the grunting of guilty pleasure heard on the other side of a thin kitchen wall.

After a while, like with any illegitimate relationship… and enough lying to yourself in the mirror… eventually you decide that maybe it’s okay to take next step… the public step. A coffee house. The thought was innocent enough in your head, “It’s just a cup of coffee. What could happen?”

Until you get there, and you wonder if this is how they feel in Amsterdam… ordering heroin… in a brothel.

At first, there’s that self-conscious thought that goes, “people don’t really do this in public… do they?” Followed by a second thought that you should just go finish your business in the restroom like the upstanding citizen your parents always thought you’d be. But you stay… you take your seat in the big room with all the other upstanding citizens… and you lose yourself to the overwhelming urge that brought you here in the first place. To take this private need to the next level. So you do. In front of God and everyone… if only God were watching.

I never planned to fall in love.

Years pass, and things go on like always. Public meetings, intimate rendezvous, long mornings after a bad night’s sleep. Every encounter making you sink deeper and deeper into what was such an innocent addiction. Days and nights became the same to you. Multiple jobs, endless hours… and only one thing remains the same. The need. The intense need, the unsatisfied need… the aching need.

Until another comes along.

As the glare of the naked bulb at sunrise still calls after you like a line out of a song by Mumford & Sons, the something new doesn’t call like a selfish bitch… it whispers softly in your ear, like the one that got away. It draws me to a softer place… a darker place, later and later in the night… after the glare of day, and all its distractions, goes away. And unlike the whorishly obvious coffee brothel, it is subtle and almost… caring. And the scars of years are replaced by tender strokes to a raw-rubbed ego. The only thing required in return was to think, and feel… and write. And whatever words came out were good… were accepted. I was accepted.

I never planned to fall in love. Not like this.

More years pass, and things change… drastically. The flutter and surge of my heart, gentle ego stroking… the sideways-smiles-turned-lustful… change. Flutters turn to questions. Surges to pain. The lying, sideways smiles, with their promise of fulfillment… turn to insistence. And whispers turn to ice at the harsh dawning of a new day, when I know it has become… the same.

I look up from the computer. I see the light of morning enter through the fog of early June. “When did this happen?” is all I can say, in a hushed voice, raw from not speaking. I turn my head the other way, toward the kitchen, to the glare of a naked bulb at sunrise…

…just so you know.

 

© 2011-2013 Bill Friday

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