A Letter To My Past, Present, And Future Self

Dear Self,
(Past, Present, and Future)

I know you are tired of fighting
But maybe if you fight a little harder, they will notice you
If you just tell them how much they mean to you one more time
If you just try a little harder
Maybe if you weren’t so awkward
If you cut your hair
If you weren’t so skinny
If you didn’t look so tired
If your eyes weren’t hazel
If you just change the way you dress
If you just try a little harder
Maybe if you can convince your friends that this is worth the risk
Maybe if you leave the door open eventually they will come in
Maybe they will see you, the way you see them

Dear Self,

No.
It’s time to stop fighting
Maybe if they would just fight a little harder, you would notice them
If they just try a little harder
They will laugh at every bad joke
Because they want to see you smile
They will run their hands through your hair
See the way it is lined with gold in the summer
They will love every scar and angle of your body
Because every scar is a story, and every angle is a part of who you are
They will see that your eyes turn green when you are happy
They won’t understand what the third button is for either
If they just try a little harder
They will convince your friends that they will be as careful with your heart as you deserve
Because your friends aren’t going anywhere
They will wait as long as it takes for you to answer the door
Because if they aren’t willing to knock, they don’t deserve to come in
Maybe then you will see yourself, the way you see them

She Lives

I am alive, and I am going to kill him. For a long time I wondered if it was the right thing to do, if I was letting vengeance cloud my judgement. I just don’t care anymore, he isn’t even human to me anymore. This ends tomorrow night.

– She Will Save Us returns to your computer screens September 1st.
MWL

Hardcore: The Interviews Part 2

I was a skinny, spastic Jewish kid with a gay mom living in one of the Neo-Nazi strongholds of the American midwest
– Austin, curmudgeon/wise man, still skinny, spastic and Jewish

Welcome back to my continuing adventures in conducting brief interviews! Today’s willing participant is a fellow writer that I respect and admire. I have previously posted a piece he worked on, and hope you check out his work in addition to reading his answers here!

Kicking things off as it should be, your name or pseudonym, and how long would you say you have been into hardcore?

Austin Simpson, no pseudonym. Mainly because I haven’t been in a band that’s popular enough to warrant one.
I started listening to punk when I was fifteen or sixteen, and I’m 33 now (200 in punk years). So that’s like, 18 years? I don’t know how to math, so I’d suggest getting a calculator and figuring it out for yourself.*

*(Author’s note: I did, he is correct, 17-18 years.)

Do you have a defining memory of what attracted you to punk?

The first hardcore band I ever listened to was TSOL*, and it was the song Cold Blue. It was on a Nitro comp, or something like that. I loved it, mainly because I was fifteen (or sixteen**) and really into drugs. The next song I heard was Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks Fuck Off.  This was the first hardcore song that actually spoke to me. I was a skinny, spastic Jewish kid with a gay mom living in one of the Neo-Nazi strongholds of the American midwest (Cincinnati, what up!).  I had been getting sieg-heiled by redneck trash for years, and beat up for the crime of simply existing.

Living with that kind of daily, terrifying oppression is so isolating. Whether it was true or not, I felt completely alone. Even among my close (goy) friends. So when I heard this manic shithead screaming about how much he hated Nazi’s too, it was easily the most liberating thing I’d had happen to me. It was like someone had reached through my stereo and patted me on the back. I wasn’t alone anymore. As much as I loved Pantera, that was it.  Bye bye metal; hello punk.


*(True Sounds Of Liberty, 1978 – Current if I’m not mistaken)

**(95 in punk years)

How about the first Punk show you ever attended?

Easy. Krazy Fest III in Louisville, KY, 1999.  I saw Brother’s Keeper (who sucked), Dillinger Escape Plan (who ruled), Boysetsfire* (who were mediocre but who I worshiped at the time) Cave In, Time in Malta, Suicide Machine. A bunch of others. I remember two things standing out to me; one was how nice everyone was. People would just strike up conversations with me, would ask how I was, and remember me the next day. The second thing I remember was going to a rally in opposition to a KKK rally that was happening there on the second day. It was the first time I met other anarchists. I had, by that point, read Alan Moores V for Vendetta and had consumed about half the books referenced therein. I was a shitty, uninformed 18 year old Anarcho-dweeb, and meeting other anarchists was a massive boost to my sense of self and taught me how much I still didn’t know or understand. Again, I wasn’t alone anymore.

A funny story from that fest: the third day, I show up wearing a Coors Light work shirt, pack of unfiltered Pall Malls stuck in the breast pocket (I shall repeat: CINCINNATI, WHAT UP?!?). About halfway through the day, I’m standing in the back and I pull my smokes out and go to light one up. As the flame approached the tobacco, I heard a very pronounced throat clearing. I raised my eyes, which were met by a member of Courage Crew (an infamously violent, Ohio based straightedge crew).  He was smiling, and then looked behind me. I turned my head and saw five other CC members.

I’m sorry, allow me to re-phrase that; I turned my head and saw five ambulatory mountains with Courage Crew windbreakers on. These fuckers could have turned me into a crazy straw, and they knew it.

They just grinned at me.

I grinned back, put my cigarette back in my pack of smokes, and backed away slowly.

Fuck pride, I couldn’t afford a hospital visit.

*Boysetsfire still rules in my heart.

Why is punk important to you?

Oy.  Good question. I don’t have a great answer. It just is. It’s who I am. I often say that I didn’t find punk, it found me. I don’t really have anywhere else where I would be as accepted for all my weird quirks as I am here. Skinny, crippled Kikes with big mouths tend to be dismissed (at best) everywhere else in this society. In punk, people just thought I was funny. They listened when I spoke, and they appreciated my opinion. Also, no one found out I was Jewish and then asked me to loan them money. That was nice.

I guess punk is important to me because I don’t really have a choice in the matter.
What is your favorite memory of either going to a show or listening to punk?

Man, I have a lot of memories. My family has a fetish with heirlooms, but I’m too much of a wanderer to be able to keep the heavy furniture that is the preferred bequeathment.  So I have memories to pass on. Picking one is difficult; some are amazing and should be told over and over. Others merely teach the lesson that no matter where you are, how you dress, or what music you listen to, bastards are everywhere and you’re probably friends with a few of them. Maybe I’ll write a book of them some day.

I’ll share one that is (to my mind) hilarious and a perfect example of how punks don’t take shit.

LA, March, 2004.  Terror is playing the Whisky a Go Go with The Promise, Internal Affairs and Shattered Realm.  Now, this show was by definition populated by dudes with low impulse control, a predilection towards picking up heavy shit and putting it down again, and a flexible ethical code vis-a-vis intense violence. The night progresses neatly enough until Terror takes the stage. An important detail: The Whisky a Go Go had a strict no stage-diving policy. Terror was playing. No stage diving.  Terror.

I’ll let you ruminate on the statistical probability that shit was not gonna go down.

I had taken a spot at the front of the balcony level (see: statements regarding my undernourishment, disability). Terror takes the stage, Scott Vogel picks up his mic, and states:

“Fuck no stage dives, we’re Terror and this is LA.  I wanna see twenty stage dives!”

Which is when the opening chords of One with the Underdogs begins.

Kids were pouring off the stage like it was Niagara Falls and they had all inherited barrels. That shit was going off in a way I have only seen matched a few times in my life (Trial in Chicago being a the first that comes to mind).

Now, before I go forward let’s be fucking clear: the bouncers were being complete pieces of shit.  They were grabbing whoever they could by the throat and literally throwing them out the door.  People tried talking to them and they were threatened with violence and ejection themselves.

Second song begins (and I could be fucked if I remember what it was), and that’s when security starts giving members of The Promise shit. See, they were camping out on the side of the stage to avoid getting kicked in the face (which is fair, that shit sucks) and the bouncers were trying to kick them off.  There were four or five of the meat-heads gathered around, when a kid gets up on the far side of the stage and begins to book full force towards them.

“Oh” I think “fuck.”

This absolute hero of a human being jumps feet first into the nearest bouncers face.  Like, lands with both feet planted on the dudes fucking gob, slamming it into the floor.  The other bouncers immediately start kicking the shit out of this kid, at which point members of the crowd (which may or may not have included members of bands) start beating the shit out of the bouncers. It spills out onto the street and I run downstairs to watch it unfold.

Thing is, whatever bouncers weren’t outside brawling were blocking the front door for some fucking reason.  The people like myself who were left didn’t want to fight, we just wanted out. People outside were demanding we be let out (the bouncers had made it back to safety by that point), we were demanding to be let out, shit was starting to get to a boiling point.

Which is when someone-who-shall-not-be-named ran out of fucks to give and straight punched out the $5000 glass front doors of the club.

We were let out after that.

It pretty much fizzled out at that point.  Ten minutes later there were five pig rigs, a SWAT van and two helicopters swarming the place so my friends and I split to get pizza.

Seriously though, who fucking lets Terror play and expects people to respect a no stage diving rule?  That’s like expecting black metal to not be sketchy.

This interview could not have given me better stories to share with you all. What I have taken so far from Zach, and now Austin’s shared memories is simple. Hardcore is home, we felt like we were alone and now we know we aren’t.

Hardcore is my home.
-Michel

Hardcore Is Alive, The First Interview

“When I was coming up the big thing in hardcore was flock of seagulls hair cuts and riffs that sounded like a C- version of At The Gates” – Zach Greene, Habs Fan.

I do not want to bog this down with anything other than the stories I want to share. So, to put it simply I wanted to find out what hardcore means to the people around me/in the scene.I set out by literally just asking some friends, and people in bands I have met if they might be interested in sharing some stories about their time in and around the music scene, and what it means to them.

First up is a guy that I met about two years ago, and when think of him I think of three things: The Habs, Punk, Star Trek.

Can you tell us your name, and roughly how long you have been listening to punk/hardcore?

“Cool, so my name is Zach Greene, I’ve been listening to punk for close to 15 years, and probably hardcore for most of that time, but I don’t think I knew it was called hardcore until 10 or so years ago. Like, when I was coming up the big thing in hardcore was flock of seagulls hair cuts and riffs that sounded like a C- version of At The Gates so I just naturally associated that with hardcore. The older punks always made fun of that stuff, so I did too to fit in, so it took me a little while before I clued in that hardcore was basically punk with less pretense.”

Do you have a defining moment of what got you into the genre?

“I don’t know if I have a defining memory of what attracted me to punk, like I always liked fast and aggressive music, but I can also remember being in grade 5 and hearing Third Eye Blind on Big Shiny Tunes 2 and thinking it was the heaviest shit ever.
When I was around middle school age, so like 11 or 12 I got into bands like Korn, and Limp Bizkit because that was the heaviest and most rebellious stuff they’d show on Much Music. I played hockey with a couple of kids who listened to stuff like Dead Kennedys and NOFX, and I liked it, and I knew it was punk, but I was still more into the nu-metal they showed on Much Music.
Then I think it was in grade 9, two things happened:
1) I bought the Ramones’ first album on CD, and I can remember being struck by that it was fast and loud and pissed off, but the like snotty teenage aggression of songs like Teenage Lobotomy and Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue were a lot more relatable than the “I’m angsty and hate myself” bullshit that the nu-metal bands were about.
2) A kid I went to high school with gave me a cassette tape copy of Screeching Weasel’s – Boogadaboogadaboogada. It sounded like the Ramones, and the whole album is pretty much about being a bored teenager in suburbia, which I was at the time. I was also learning to play guitar at the time and both of those albums were pretty easy to learn from front to back so that helped too. And from there I started to get into like the classic punk bands like The Clash and Bad Religion (who unfortunately turned into the most boring band of all time), and my life just kind of spiraled out of control from there so to speak.”

Can you describe the first punk show you remember going to?

“The first show I ever went to was Gob and The Black Halos at a bar in Peterborough called Sin City. It was kind of a seedy bar and there were always rumours it was owned by bikers, but that was probably just a rumor. Anyway I think I was 14 and it was on a Saturday afternoon. I went with this kid Zach Dulmage who hated every second of it and turned into a juggalo after that, and then some Indie rock Conner Oberst wanna-be. Anyway, what I most remember was that The Black Halos had this singer, Billy Hopeless, and he had this “rawk and rawwwl” kind of swagger and was choking himself with the mic cable and baiting the audience and shit, which to me was the most dangerous shit I had ever seen. It wasn’t until later I found out that they were basically just doing what Iggy Pop and the Stooges had been doing for 30 years at that point, but when you’re 14 it doesn’t matter who did it first, it’s just who you see first.”

Why is Punk important to you?

“I guess punk is important to me because it informs a lot of my politics and world view, there’s a lot about punk that drives me up the wall, but I still really appreciate the sort of do what you want how you want vibe and the DIY ethos. And it’s generally nice to have a community of other crabby and sarcastic misanthropes.”

What is your favourite memory of going to a show or listening to the music?

“My favourite punk memory? I dunno man, there are so many, but I guess I promised you a story about stage diving off of speaker stacks in basements with low ceilings. So there was this bar in Peterborough, called The Underdog which was just the basement of another bar called The Red Dog. And the ceiling was one of those drop ceilings, maybe like 6.5 feet off the ground. Anyways, The Brutal Knights were playing and the place was packed, just way over capacity, people were shoulder to shoulder, and their PA had these like 4 foot tall speakers just on the floor, way to big for a place that small. Anyways, I was sitting on top of one of the speakers and decided to stage dive off of it, because why not? Stage dives rule*. So I’m getting ready to jump and I’m kind of crouching because the ceiling is so low, and I’m waiting for the right moment and I go for it. I went face first through one of the ceiling panels and somehow everybody knew to clear away just at that moment and so I went from crashing face first through the ceiling, to landing on my face on the linoleum floor. I have no idea how I didn’t bust up my face.”

“But when you’re 14 it doesn’t matter who did it first, it’s just who you see first.”

A solid point to end on, Zach hits the nail on the head for me with this line. I’m more than sure that a lot of bands that have impacted me in a large way were not the originators of their craft, but does that really matter? When you witness something for the first time, the feeling you have in that moment is no less important just because someone else had experienced it before you. In fact if anything, it just gives us more in common with each other.

– Michel Orange Tree (still insists that Superheroes Of Hardcore don’t suck)

*Stage dives do in fact rule

The Future

They said it was the end of everything we loved and in a way, it was. It was also the ascent of something pure, something simple. It was the future whether we liked it or not. It was here. It would all come down to one simple act, death. The death of not one, but thirty-two people including myself.

It happened on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, the sort of day that lulls you into a false sense of security. When you are complacent in life, your job is good, your significant other loves you, and you have all the money you could ask for. This is when disaster strikes, when you stop struggling, and disaster that day came in many forms.

The first was a sporadic loss of internet access, the providers across the globe claimed ignorance; that everything was working properly and that there was no cause for the outage. The second thing to go were the phones, and not just cell phones but even the rotary phones that us old folks still had plugged in the basement (for emergencies, ironically).

That was when things really started to fall apart around us, when everyone started to realize that to get help (or food for that matter) they would actually have to leave the house. No more ambulances, no food delivery, we were regressing. Hell I can not claim innocence here, I did not realize the depth of my own situation until I went to use Google Maps to find the path to  a hardware store for supplies. Joke would have been on me anyway since I have not carried cash around for at least ten years, I did not even think of my debit card as being electronic or relying on a network of any kind.

I never would have guessed that we would find any hope, it was a dark time for us all. It was not long before the looting started, the riots, the hording of food and supplies. I wish I could say that hope came in the form of one solitary person, standing up to give us all a rousing speech. Convincing us to pull together and we would could rebuild society. We needed a hero; hell, some of us tried to find one in the world leaders making promises that things were not as bad as they seemed. That the human race would find a way.

One week, that was how long it took the governments to start to close borders. It was frightening how swiftly they enacted this, soldiers, no, entire armies stood at the major crossing points. Nothing and no one was coming in, or out of all the world’s super powers. The US was first, the President declared it an issue of safety and self-reliance. Canada followed suit with its own version of “protecting the welfare of all Canadians”. This was the nail in the coffin for me. The realization had sunk in that if we needed help, no one was coming. We had locked ourselves away under a blanket of false security, hiding from the monsters that every other country represented.

As I mentioned before it took thirty-two of us to finally put a stop to everything. Maybe everyone had forgotten about sacrifice, about selflessness. All it took was a small group of us to try to save one life. It was an accident really, we did not realize that anyone was around. If you had told me that someone still even had a camera to film with, I would have laughed in your face.

A small camp of us had stationed ourselves under a bridge to hide from the snow. It happened so fast that I would not even say we were being brave, bravery takes thought and willingness to overcome odds. We were human. I do not even know the kids name. In the blink of an eye this bundle of rags came tumbling down the hill and onto the ice of the river. We all gazed over in vague interest, at first we assumed it was just another body succumbing to the cold. Until it moved, it tried to stand at the same moment the ice cracked. I was on my feet and running, I could hear a few sets of foot steps behind me. It did not matter, all that mattered was that I get to that body before it became an empty vessel like so many others. I dove into the water head first, I could barely hear the muffled explosions of other bodies breaking the surface of the water. I searched the water for movement, for that pile of rags that became a human seconds ago. Someone next to me was grabbing my arm and pointing, we both swam down into the murk and ice. The cold was fire in my lungs, the dirt in my eyes was blinding. And then a body was in my arms, and I was being pushed to the surface, I could see so many faces above the water. Some dove in to help me get the limp child out of the water faster. It felt like an eternity, if I had to guess it was probably about forty-five seconds total. In that water every second felt like years. Those that were still dry had stripped their clothes to warm the now conscious child, looking up at us in confusion and fear. I was shivering so violently that I could not even get my own wet clothes off of me while sitting next to that source of life burning in a trash can.

I am not sure how it happened really (after all I have been dead for…god I do not even know how long anymore) but it may have been days, weeks, maybe even years. One video tape, passed around and played on every broadcasting wavelength we had managed to get up and running. The story traveled on old rabbit-ear TV’s, the audio played on HAM radios, from the mouth of one person to another. Thirty two of us died that day, saving one life. I do not think anyone here with me now would say we were being brave, tired was more like it. Tired of the death, the lack of hope. We just wanted to feel hope one more time, and in seeking out that feeling we may have jump started the oldest way of life. Humanity was starting to care again, and all it took was thirty-two minds to decide that for once, we would suffer in place of someone else.

This Is Not The End

This Is Not The End

So many trees with their branches weaving together until they become so thick, and so dense that I can not see the sky.  I stop every few hundred feet to crouch to the ground and study the trail I am following, to make sure that there still is a trail to be followed this far out. The markers faded from sight hours ago,  I was warned that once I reached a certain point there would no longer be visible guidelines for amateur hikers. The person working the desk at the last ranger station laughed at me, saying that only professionals could make it as far as I was planning. “I expect you’ll be back here ‘tail between your legs by nightfall”, that was the last thing another person said to me before I headed out here. I did not want to prove anything to anyone, maybe to myself but that was not a conscious thing. I really did just believe that this would not be so hard, and without much of a surprise, I was wrong.

Suddenly the clouds are not clouds anymore, they are a cliff edge, and the rain is a river coursing over the edge to create a waterfall surrounding me. The weight of my gear has doubled, if I could barely carry it before then now I am practically dragging it behind me. I continue to push myself ahead hoping this will get easier, which is the exact moment I slipped down the pit. My bag hooked itself on a root at the top, I basically slid out of the straps (I knew the chest strap existed for a reason) and dropped down at thirty feet or so.

My ankle is broken, there is a hideous gash on my arm, and my gear rests safely at the top of this pit. I was foolish, frustrated, anyone could have missed such an obvious danger in my state. That is what I keep thinking to myself, but it does not do me any good. I am still down here with the rain pouring down the sides, creating more mud to pool at my ankles. Oddly the idea of drowning in mud is the least of my concerns, at this rate I will be dead of hypothermia soon enough anyway.

I need to stay awake, to get myself back out and to my gear where I can mend my wounds and get clean water. However my eyes have other dreams, they feel so heavy and it would be so easy to let them rest just for a moment. I snap them open and summon all my strength to climb out of the pit, foot by foot I work my way up. I am back on the trail, the sun is shining and the trees have cleared a path for me. The ground feels much softer here and my pack feels practically empty, I knew this would be easy. I have a burst of energy and start running ahead, leaping over fallen trees and thickets faster than I have ever moved before. I only slow down as I reach a small river, luckily there is a path of stones leading across is only feet away from me. As I cross the river I find a small cabin sitting at the base of the river, and something feels wrong. The trees are shifting around me, the cabin fades away as I run towards the door. I wake with a gasp, “Still here…I’m still here..”.

It has been several hours now, I can not tell how many exactly at this point, it would not matter if I could really. There is only one thing I can focus on, that I keep repeating to myself, “There is a way out, you will live. You have to live. This is not the end. This can not be the end.”

Part 4: Getting Shot Hurts (No, Seriously)

I could not hear anything except the ringing in my ears, but I damn sure felt the pain from the exit would in my shoulder as blood poured down my arm.

It had been one week since I set that building ablaze, I figured that enough time had passed for me to head back into that area and do some more damage to the operation. I was avoiding the area until the attention died down a little, way too many police and drug dealers alike were patrolling day and night.

When I was a little girl imagining what I would be when I grew up, there were so many options. President, lawyer, marine biologist, fire fighter, anything was possible. I wasn’t necessarily going to be rich but I damn sure was going to make a difference in the world. I studied for hours on end every night, I never got less than a ninety-eight percent on an exam in high school. I thought I was invincible, turns out I was wrong. My SAT scores were…well let’s just say I may have freaked out a bit and gotten a number much lower than I deserved which meant one thing, I wasn’t going to law school or any top university to become a marine biologist. Where I was going was a community college a fifteen minute drive from my apartment, that I managed to scrape by and pay for working nights at a little mom and pop cafe a few doors down from me. All in all life was not that bad really, I had an OK apartment and a job working for two of the nicest people I have ever met. They treated me like family which was pretty new for me…but I’ll get into that more later. Right now I need to finish explaining how I ended up on that roof. Honestly I never thought I would be having a standoff on top of a sky rise building with an armed drug lord, hell I never even really thought I would be in a fist fight.

It was my actually my first night out since the fire and I was feeling good, I felt invincible actually. I had clearly sent a message to these people, I saw a lot of new faces and more guards around. And yet they were still sloppy, it only took me about an hour to figure out which building the stash was in. It was in the centre of the complex, no guards but a lot of people nearby that would no doubt spot me trying to get in. I was going to have to be a little bit smarter this time if I wanted to make an impact once again. So I changed from the usual outfit and into my grime covered addict outfit, I wandered around the courtyard for an hour or so making sure to keep away from the place I wanted to be. I needed to see if anyone was patrolling around or keeping eyes on the door. After almost two hours I was feeling confident and decided my moment had arrived, I wandered slowly over towards the building. No one seemed to take notice of me, especially because there was another person laying asleep under an old blanket a few feet from the door. I know what you’re thinking, check who is under the blanket you stupid girl. I now look back and think the same damn thing.

I could not see anything when I first entered the room, it was dark and all the windows were covered up. It did not click right away that every other building the windows let in light, and for some reason this building had covers over the windows. Just as I started fumbling around in my pocket for a flash light, the entire room flooded with light. I fell back against the door..no not a door…a person, shit. Before I knew it three large men descended on me with a blindfold and a rag that I now know could only have had chloroform (or some version of it) soaked into it. I woke up to a strong cold wind on my face, I slowly rose to my feet and checked myself over for signs of injury and sighed with relief as I found none. And that is when the gun went off.

I could not breathe as I stumbled backwards and fell against the ledge of the roof, he approached me with a sickening grin on his face. I was nothing to him right now, a child that had gotten in his way and a mere inconvenience at best. He bent down and patted me on the head, “It was a nice try, surprising to say the least. When I heard that someone was driving my people out of their territory I had imagined a rival operation, maybe an ex-soldier trying to prove he was still useful to society. If someone had told me that it was going to be a waitress dressed pretending she can make a difference, I would have laughed.” I could barely summon the strength to move, but I managed enough to spit a mouth full of blood into his eye. He wiped it away with a handkerchief, which he then folded neatly and put into his pocket as I eyed it. “Oh this? Thought I might drop it or leave it with you, so that some lab can point it’s finger at me and waste my money in a court room trying to stick a charge? Haha, think again girlie. I’ve grown tired of this conversation, you’re not much for the art of discourse are you?” He stood up slowly and pointed his gun at my temple, I closed my eyes and waited for the sound to ring out again but it never came. I opened my eyes slowly as he peered down at me, but he wasn’t laughing anymore. He looked curiously from me up to the ledge and then it hit me, he wasn’t going to shoot me. He was going to let me fall to my death, so I could experience the terror for as long as possible without a chance of rescue. I struggled as much as I could as he lifted me up and draped my body over the edge, he opened his mouth to say something but then paused and shook his head at me. He smirked as he spat in my eye, then without thinking twice he let go.

I mentioned it before, but falling forty-five stories is not the most pleasant experience. As soon as he let go I couldn’t do anything but scream for the first few seconds, I knew the ground was coming fast and I had very little time to come up with a plan. My first plan was to scream my lungs out until I hit the ground, I moved past that onto plan two pretty quickly. I tried to see if there was anything to grab onto as I fell past each floor until I saw a ledge wide enough that I could grab onto it. I readied myself as it approached, “deep breath, just like in the movies” I threw my weight to one side and reached out with my healthy arm and managed to catch the ledge. What they don’t tell you is that it is much more likely that your shoulder is just going to be ripped out of its socket and you will continue to fall with a dislocated shoulder. The life of a hero is not an easy one, I can tell you that much.

Empty

I can not catch my breath. It is hard to focus on anything going on around me, everything I see is a picture taken a little too fast so it came out blurry. I feel someone holding on to my hand, and as I look up at their eyes I can not remember who they are. I can not seem to remember much of anything as the blood rushes to my head, I drop to my knees and close my eyes. There are more sets of hands now trying to help me to my feet, and more voices mumbling things I can only catch pieces of “Poor guy”…”Needs a stiff drink”…”It’s too much, take him home”.  I guess this happens to everyone right before they die, I just wish it were actually my turn to go.

They took me to a doctor yesterday to try to help me deal with this “issue” as it has been referred to recently. She asked me a lot of questions that I had no answer to, the one that I thought about the longest was “You need to acknowledge that you lost your best friend, how does that feel?”. I stared down at my hands for what I can only assume was hours, but in reality was probably about a minute. “I…I don’t feel anything. I thought about it a lot and the truth is that there is nothing to feel. They shot him and nothing is going to come of it. Nothing will bring him back, nothing will change. I suppose you could say I feel empty. But that isn’t it…I just have nothing left to give. I don’t want to die but I also do not want to live”. After that they loaded me up on medication to deal with the depression, to be honest it probably kept me from killing myself but it didn’t make me happy. I still feel empty inside.

The clouds are young kids tossing pebbles down at us so hard they leave small red welts, I have never felt rain like this. The kind of rain that pushes you to the ground and tells you not to bother getting up, it will only bring you down again. I wish this were some cosmic sign to teach me a lesson about life, but it is just a coincidence that fell on an already dark day. Why do we choose to bury people in places like this, it is so sombre and sad. Did they not realize we would already be depressed without making us stand amidst a sea of markers of the ones other families have lost? When I die I hope everyone celebrates, I hope they feel hope, I want them to say “we will keep living for him, not despite him”

They stole him from the world for what amounted to about fifty bucks, he was only doing what was right. It was a Friday night right in the heart of the downtown core, he was walking towards an ATM that a young guy was using. (I got to meet him later, turns out he was only fifteen) Which is when the two guys approached from behind gesturing towards the boy, as my friend got a bit closer he noticed that one was hesitantly pulling a hand gun from his pocket. Henry only did what he knew was needed, he dialed nine-one-one on his cell phone as he ran. They played the call for us later and I’m still not entirely sure why, but his family wanted to hear it and I happened to be there. “My name is Henry, I am on the corner of Derth and Smithe at the ATM. Someone is about to get shot.” After that the phone drops to the ground and all you can hear is some yells followed by the loudest noise I have ever heard. A gun shot. Screams followed as the operator tried to remain calm and reassure the caller, “Can you still hear me? Has someone been shot? The police and ambulance are on the way, remain calm and do not hang up…hello…hello?…fuck”

The worst part of this feeling is that Henry would be pissed off at how I am acting, because I have given up. He would never have let me act this way if he were around, he would insist that he wasn’t worth crying over. That he had a good life, or so everyone around me keeps saying to reassure me (or themselves). You know what though, fuck that. He is worth crying about, he was my best friend and they fucking stole him from me. They probably won’t even end up serving much time in prison, they’ll be “rehabilitated” in six to 10 months I bet, you know why? Because their lawyer was better than ours and they were only charged with attempted robbery and involuntary manslaughter. There is the big lesson kids, money may not make you happy but it will sure as hell keep your ass out of prison even when you are guilty.

Enough about that, I don’t need to relive that anymore than I already do in my head every time I finally manage to relax. There is no good description for how I feel these days, other than empty. It is not a lack of hope really because I am sure that wonderful things can and will happen in the future. The real problem is that I don’t care enough to wait around for them, not anymore.

As they lower the casket into the Earth everything goes black.

Life Finds A Way

Hello dear readers,

I felt the need to address the fact that I have not been keeping up with my own schedule here, every week I hope to post two pieces. Granted I have a very small following so far but I value everyone that takes the time to read my work, and wanted to touch base to say that more stories are on the way. I am thankful to have people viewing this site every day now, and look forward to giving you all more to read. Perhaps I will have to alter my schedule and allow myself a bit more room, posting twice a week may have been a bit ambitious for a developing writer such as myself. That said I will still do my best and find a way to keep the stories coming. Occasionally life may find  a way to derail my thought process whether that is with other work or my personal life, but writing is my safe haven and I will always return. I am really looking forward to continuing the project now called “She Will Save Us”, and have even begun to consider taking that and other short works and self publishing a dozen or so copies to give away for free. If anyone is interested in such a thing, stay tuned or get ahold of me!

Thank you all,
Sincerely
Michel