whirlpooled topics unbackspaced. streams of consciousness. blurts. scribbled notes. outlined ideas. velocity waves. snatches from icloud. because self-editing is a writer’s cowardly way of preventing a reader from fucking the writer's confidence. dates don't matter. memories and moments aren't chronologically marked on the soul.

Him Too

He doesn’t always remember anymore. He doesn’t always remember a name. He doesn’t always remember that score. He doesn’t always remember the song. He doesn’t always remember those facts. Sometimes. But, not always. Not anymore. 

But he always remembers the window pane and the emptied dirt road that lined the fallow field. He always remembers the twilighted living room and the darts of a fluorescent kitchen light that interloped the dark. He always remembers the yellow and blue kerchief he tied around his neck and the merit badges his mother stitched on his blouse. He always remembers waiting for the absent scouts. He always remembers the afraid. He always remembers the wanting of home. He always remembers the drowsy. He always remembers the scratching of a salt-shaded beard. He always remembers the repetitions and the self-recriminations. He always remembers the of courses. He always remembers all the quitting. That he remembers. Always.

1983

Mark took a pull from his beer and thought about his past. First Avenue. He remembered that bar. He felt ashamed. 1983. He hated himself in 1983. He vividly remembered 1983: 



Mark put his index finger to his right nostril, leaned over the marble that held the sink, and dusted the trail of powder. He tripoded his palms to balance his weight and looked in the mirror. He took his hand and smoothed his hair and silently judged the cut. “$70 fucking dollars!” He leaned in and checked his pupils, inspected his nostril, and noticed stray powder on the lapel of his suit. He brushed it off with a violent whisk, stood erect, checked his zipper, and sidestepped an impatient man. He used the heel of his hand to open the door and walked back into the club. 

His eyes readjusted to dusk. Noises from the club fucked his mind: music blared from newly installed video screens and words screamed that should’ve been mumbled. The club smelled of suffocated desperations sweat through soaked silk shirts. His heart beat faster than the strobes. “I fucking love coke!” Mark said to himself. He ordered a Black Russian from a bartender who looked like yesterday. He glanced at the screen above the stage and saw a woman clothed like a man. “Sweet dreams are made of this. Who am I to disagree? I travel the world and the seven seas. Everybody's looking for something.” He took a sip and turned to the crowd. 

She stood beside a table. Stiff backed. Legs elongated by heels too high for comfort. A silk dress echoed her sways. She stood still but her body was fluid. She saw him as he watched her. She smiled and returned to the table. 

“Now that’s gonna be a great fuck!” Mark said to no one. He swallowed the rest in the glass, bathed his bottom lip with his tongue, straightened his spine, and walked to her. 

“I hate this song” he said. 

“I didn’t ask.” She glanced above his eyes to the video. 

“True. But see I made this pact when I was at the bar. I told myself that you and I weren’t going to be bullshit.” 

She mixed sex and scorn. “We haven’t agreed to anything.” 

Mark reached into his suit pocket and pulled out his pack: red wide box, expensive, pretentious. 

“What are those?” 

“Dunhill.” He withdrew one from behind the foil and placed it between his lips. “Want one?” 

“No I have my own.” She possessively patted a pack of Mores near an ashtray. 

Mark took the gold cigarette lighter out of his trouser pocket, lit the cigarette, and took a drag. “You gonna let me buy you a drink?” 

“I don’t know.” She crossed her arms. 

“What?” he exhaled. 

“It all depends.” 

“On what.” 

“How you kiss.” 

Mark leaned his arm behind him so the cigarette wasn’t in his path. 

When they separated she said, “I’ll have a Slippery Nipple.” 

He laughed. A huge laughed fueled with truth. “Yeah, you will.” 

She smiled. “It’s a drink.” 

“I’ve never heard of it.” 

“See that bartender who looks like Deney Terrio?” She pointed to a man with oily hair and a slick deportment. “He knows how to make them.” 

He laughed and squinted his face. “Who is Deney Terrio?” 

She put her hand on his suit coat sleeve and guided him towards the bar. “That one.” 

He turned around and kissed her. “I’ll be right back.” 

After three drinks, time by the sink, and a delightful interlude in a men’s room stall with her, they found themselves walking to the lot that lined the club. He kissed her as he pressed her against the wall at the rear of the lot. His hands traveled her skin beneath her dress until he held her. 

“Let’s go to your place,” she sighed as she arched her back. 

“Next,” Mark said and returned to her. 

She grabbed his shoulders and turned him against the wall. Her hand unzipped him and she lowered herself to her knees. When she was finished, she spit his contents on his trouser leg. She stood up and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Sorry.” 

“Goddamn it!” He said when he saw the smear. 

“I said I was sorry.” 

“Fuck it. Where did you park?” 

“I’m right there.” She pointed to a caramel colored Monte Carlo. 

Mark walked her to her car. “Let’s just be done.” 

“Fine!” She sneered as she took the keys from her clutch. She slammed the car door and left the lot. 

Mark took his keys out of his pocket and walked to his car. He shoved his fists into his pockets. “I’m too fucking drunk to drive!” He said aloud. He walked to the curb and sat. He saw the semen on his suit and dropped his chin to his chest. He began to cry. He put his elbows on his knees and held his head with his hands. “Fuck!” he hissed. He took a cigarette from the pack and placed it between his lips. He lit it and violently pitched the lighter across the street. He smoked each sorrowfilled thought through. He flicked the butt into the street, walked and retrieved his lighter, noticed the dent in the metal, and climbed into his car. He repeated all his vowed as he drove himself home. 



Mark stood up, pitched the emptied bottle in the recycle bin, and walked into his bedroom.

Colors My World

I don’t think of my past anymore. I’m too pressed by my present to contemplate where I’ve been. The play and rehearsals take my allotment of my creative time. 

Yesterday I scheduled a rare daytime rehearsal. And I like to bring bottled water to my cast. I use my mouth so much I just assume they grow as dry throated as I do. Yesterday I ran late so I dashed into the local grocery store and I grabbed 4 chilled bottles from the cooler near the cashier. I swiped my debt card and waited for the bagger to place the bottles into a plastic sack. The grocery store hires baggers with special needs. I think it’s admirable and laudable. Yesterday I felt irritated. The young man struggled with his task and my temper ticked away the time. I grabbed the sack and raced out the door. 

And I remembered my Aunt Margaret. Aunt Margaret was my favorite aunt. My Father has two sisters. My Mother has a sister. Yet when I think of aunts my maternal grandmother’s sisters are at the forefront. My Grandmother – Mary Maxine (Fitzpatrick) George was the eldest of the clan and she had six sisters. And Aunt Margaret was next in line yet foremost in my heart. I loved my Aunt Margaret. 

Aunt Margaret had a withered leg and a left arm that pulled up to her chest. She toddled in orthopedic shoes and secured her “pocketbook” with her stiffened elbow pit. She was strong of spirit and had a staunchly Catholic stance. Her limbs had withdrawn – her tenacity had not. She took me everywhere she went. She hadn’t replaced my Mother in my heart – but she had a prominent place alongside her. 

Aunt Margaret would grab her pocketbook – and her keys – and me – and I’d ride alongside her as she ran her errands. 

We lived in Junction City Kansas – not quite the south yet life was accented by more than southern colloquialisms. Junction City is the home of Fort Riley and I remember seeing soldiers on the downtown streets and servicemen’s wives in the downtown stores. 

Yesterday I remembered 1969. 

The Vietnam War. I was 7 years old. 

My memories are impressionistic. Less Seurat and more Manet. Memories that are clearly defined but still clouded by colors. Yesterday I remembered my introduction to colors. 

Kansas has oppressive heat in the summer. Short legged pants deny young skin respite from a sunbaked car seat. My Aunt Margaret drove her decade old Chevy. I sat at her side. She drove to the “Colored” section of town. I didn’t know what that meant. Aunt Margaret had a friend who ironed Aunt Margaret’s clothes and washed her laundry. Aunt Margaret's disabilities prevented her from doing her household tasks. On this day she was giving her friend a ride home. I don’t recall her friend’s name. I remember the color of her skin – I remembered they called each other Mrs. I remember she called me “Sugar.” And I remember she sat in the backseat. It was a pleasant ride. One filled with laughter and ease. It’s a memorable memory because I remembered going into a section of town – and Junction City was a small town – that I had never heard of and I had never visited. 

I knew Aunt Margaret’s friend. I had seen her sit alongside Aunt Margaret at Mass each Sunday. Aunt Margaret would pick her up – accompany her to Mass – and take her home. We lived blocks from the church (Saint Xavier’s Catholic Church) and my parents walked our family to Mass each Sunday. 

I don’t know why I was in that car that day. But I remember it. I remember that I sat on the front seat and Aunt Margaret’s friend sat in the back. I remember the joy of their conversation and the awe I felt to hear adult conversations about subjects I didn’t understand. Words like hysterectomy and “female troubles.” I knew they were friends. But I didn’t feel like an interloper. It was as familiar as family. 

I remembered Aunt Margaret yesterday. 

Yesterday I was irritated by a man with a withered mind as he struggled to complete a meaningless task. And as I rushed out the door I passed a bench. Two elderly women sat and waited for their ride. 

I live in an affluent neighborhood. The neighborhood is in revolution. The young replace the old. Newly built assisted living facilities are being built with a rapidity that echoes schools and playgrounds during the baby boomers' births. Vans travel from facility to facility and transport the elderly from need to need. Yesterday two elderly women waited to go back. I started to type home but I backspaced. They don’t have a home anymore. They have a place. 

A day comes when active men and women no longer have activities and so the mundane task becomes an extraordinary achievement. And so the lonely dress for the event. Yesterday the elderly women sat side at side adorned with their Sunday clothes. One woman was black and one woman was white. Their conversation was animated and affectionate. I saw the similarities and I saw the distinction. 

I wish I would have known to scoot my seat into the back. I could have watched both women as they bobbed their heads with laughter. I could have giggled as their shoulders shook with joy. 

But I didn’t know. I was 7 years old.

The Man Who Knew Too Much

I drove by as she sat on the boulevard. Her head hung like a Barbie’s when the neck’s been stretched by too many tugs to the hair. A cigarette hung from her lips as if gravity pulled it to her lap. Her torso slumped over her legs. They were crossed under her. She sat alone. Her thick eyebrows framed her face. “Wow, she’s stunning! She could be a model,” I thought. Although we’d never met, I instantly recognized her. 

I drove by as she sat on the boulevard. I thought of her mother. I had dated her for a few months a few years ago. One day we stood in the middle of a snow slushed street and she casually told me, “I’m damaged.” She began her litany: two failed marriages and a teenaged daughter with more than a few problems. Our courtship was spent with us in defined and restricted roles: I was the sounding board and she was the sound. Her song was her daughter’s distress. 

I drove by as she sat on the boulevard. She didn’t know me; she didn’t know of my existence. I know her intimate secrets. I shouldn’t know them. I have no right to have knowledge of her fears, failures, struggles, or sorrows. Her mother had no right to grant me – nearly a stranger – access to her child’s heart and soul. Her daughter’s despair is not hers to share. 

I drove by as she sat on the boulevard. She didn’t know I know. She’ll never know I know. I’d never auction her secreted for affection or attention. I promised her a few moments after I drove by her as she sat on the boulevard.

Tabled

Our dining room table is kind of unique. Our friends carve their names into the wood so we can have a permanent memory. It’s an honor to be invited. Everyone knows that. No one has carved a name in over a year. No visitors. Covid? Certainly. But my parents are too ill to entertain and too proud to be a work of mercy.

And so now the table isn’t set for meals. And the table isn’t cleared for conversations. Often I walk by and pat a name or trace a groove and I remember.


A New McCarthyism

Stock Photo
People who claim 100% allegiance to either political party aren’t enlightened. They are intellectually limited to one thought stream. 

And limited to a monochromatic vision. 

They are a reanimation of Charlie McCarthy. Just a blow horn with a fascist fist pushing propaganda through a rectum and out locked lips. 

Look, wise people filter information through a prism of wisdom and use that tool to judge each belief. If you’re wearing either red or blue tinted lenses, you prevent yourself from discerning every hue on a spectrum. And people who only see one color are bigots.

Carrie 1980

Lane Timothy "Untitled 2020"
I heard the song “Jesse” today. Carly Simon. Carrie's summer song.

I remembered Carrie today. A friend. No romance. Just friendship. Summer of 1980. I was a dishwasher. She was a waitress. She spun into the kitchen between her transportations with an irresistible laugh – a buoyantly bouncy step - and an exquisitely beautiful face. A joy. Joyfilled. Exuberance. Capricious. We spent 12 hours each evening together. Three months. In September I entered the seminary and she left for college. We wrote. We met during breaks. She married him; he didn’t like me. Thirty years passed. Facebook. We met on the eve of Thanksgiving. We reminisced. Echoes of the was. Stately. Seemly. Static specks of sparkle. Muted. Diminished. Surface chatter. As the evening passed, I evolved from man to mirror. We embraced our goodbye. She went her way; I went my away.

Her daughter owns a restaurant. Home cookin’. Biscuits. Gravy. That sort. That style. My buddy and I had the breakfast. I saw her Mother’s face inside her features. Fractured. A Modigliani’s mother. “Your mother is one of the most wonderful women I’ve ever known.” I wanted her to know her originals. 

Her reply was peevishly curt. Disinterested. Irritated. “Okay.” 

“Tell her Mark Trost said hello.” She nodded. Took my card. Swiped. Handed me a pen.

Today I reconsidered the daughter. She doesn’t know the woman I know. So many words I would have said. Words that aren’t necessary to her. I would have told her I remembered her mother before marriage murdered her trust. And before disappointment shattered her hope. I knew her mother before her soul became the frame of her children’s finger-painted scarlet alphabet. She wouldn’t have understood. She didn’t see her mother then. She doesn’t recall her mother’s was. Her mother’s girl/woman. She knows her mother’s is. Her mother’s wife/mother.

But I do. I remember Carrie’s was. All her specific moments. Imprinted on my heart, Carrie still is. To me Carrie still is.