Honesty by Henry Martin

December 1, 2011 Comments Off on Honesty by Henry Martin

There are two things I hate doing on weekends: bowling and company parties.

I look around at all my coworkers, all the people I’m forced to share my days with, day after day. They prance around in their bowling shoes, dull glares replaced with artificial smiles.

My boss passes me to my right, too close to be ignored.

“You should get your shoes on. The fun’s about to begin.”

She’s bubblier than usual, so I nod and force myself to grin.

“Ten and a half … men’s.”

The kid behind the counter hands me a pair of the saddest looking shoes I’ve ever seen. They match his expression perfectly.

I sit down and start fighting with the laces. Then I spot her.

Mirreille … the sweetest looking gal in the whole company. For a moment, our eyes meet. And just before she turns away, I noticed she’s blushing.

I get up and slide on the polished floor towards the bar.

“Johnny Walker … Black.”

The glass lands in front of me. I lift it up, wet my lips. “One more please. Oh, and make me two Mojitos while I’m working on this.”

I take it slower with the second one.

Mojitos in hand, I slide back to the party. Everyone is pretending to have fun — management is watching. I make my way through the crowd, set the drinks in front of Mirreille, and, for the first time this evening, I smile. She doesn’t speak English, and I don’t speak French. We tap our glasses.

Somewhere between the fifth and sixth Mojito, the bowling party ends.

“Bon nuit.” I get up, ready to call a cab.

Mirreille takes my hand.

We’ve been working together for six years and, while we seem to have been eyeing each other for almost as long, this is the first time I feel her skin against mine. I keep my hand in hers.

She leads me to her car. I get in. Destination unknown. Unable to communicate, we ride in silence.

She takes me to her apartment, and as soon as the door closes behind us, we start pulling clothes off one another.

When its all over, I take a shower, get dressed, pour myself a drink, and walk onto the balcony.

Gazing into the blue pool in the yard, I smoke a cigarette. My thoughts are all over the place … only the guilt is clear.

Inside, Mirreille sits on the edge of the bed, phone in her hand. I have no idea what she’s saying or to whom.

“I’m gonna call a taxi.”

She shakes her head, hangs up, and takes my hand. We get back in her car and she drives me home.

The sun is breaking on the horizon. My apartment is dark. My wife is on the sofa in front of the TV, asleep.

I sit next to her. She opens her eyes, looks at me, and pulls the blanket all the way to her chin.

“How was the party?”

We need to talk … instead, I just take her hand.

© 2011 Henry Martin

When he’s not buried elbow-deep in some greasy motorcycle project, Henry Martin enjoys reading quality literature and writing prose and poetry of varying coherency. He finds inspiration in conquering the open road while trying to outrun some of the characters he created in the past. He lives with his family in NH, surrounded by coyotes, foxes, and bears.

It Lurks Around After You’re Gone by Henry Martin

October 24, 2011 Comments Off on It Lurks Around After You’re Gone by Henry Martin

It lurks in the shadows after we say our good-nights and I-love-yous … after you kiss me on the cheek and give me your best hugs. The kids are asleep. The TV is off. Only the sounds of chirping cicadas cut through the darkness. I walk you to the bedroom, brush the hair off your forehead, and lean over to give you a kiss. You smile at me, and our eyes meet briefly just before my lips make contact with your skin. That’s when it jumps up, claws stretched, its tongue sharper then the knives in the kitchen.

It strikes without warning, thirsty for fresh blood.

It hates all the things you once loved about me when you and I met for the first time. It hates the things you and I have enjoyed over the years.

It hates me.

Pure hatred, nothing more, nothing less.

The tattoos you once loved tracing with your fingers make me look like the criminal that I, apparently, am now. The earrings that, in your eyes, once made me look like a rebel have turned me into a gay pirate look-alike, and the hobbies I enjoy in the garage are now nothing but piles of junk.

Our relationship has become a meaningless farce.

I stand there, aware of the kids, taking blow after blow while silently I beg it to stop. Its skinny little fists beat me in the chest, the arms, and about the shoulders. It tries clawing at my face, but I push its arms aside.

It starts sobbing – a broken heap of nerves and emotions. Deep inside me, I want to comfort it, to hold in my arms, yet I cannot bring myself to do it. After a while, I sit down next to it and run my fingers through its messy hair. It jumps up, screeching as it grabs the phone.

“Don’t you fucking touch me, you asshole! I’m calling 911 on you.”

“Go ahead,” I say. “And what are you going to tell them?”

It has no answer.

After a while, it falls asleep, so I go outside, light a cigarette, and look at the stars. The outside is so peaceful.

When I come back in, the kids are still asleep, and the light in our bedroom is off. I walk in. You are on the bed, breathing heavily in your sleep. I cover you with a blanket, and then I look around.

It is gone.

In the morning, you and I don’t talk much. The kids laugh and play at the breakfast table while we get ready to go to work.

“Bye Daddy,” you say with your hand on the door handle after you kiss the kids goodbye.

“Bye.” I look at you. I want to talk about last night. Want to say I’m sorry, but you cut me off before I can finish, and then you are gone.

There is a monster living inside you. It’s been there for ten years — lurking — ready to strike at any time.

I want to kill it,

But I fear if I do …

I’ll wind up killing you.

© 2011 Henry Martin

When he’s not buried elbow-deep in some greasy motorcycle project, Henry Martin enjoys reading quality literature and writing prose and poetry of varying coherency. He finds inspiration in conquering the open road while trying to outrun some of the characters he created in the past. He lives with his family in NH, surrounded by coyotes, foxes, and bears.

Parsimonious Illuminati by Henry Martin

August 25, 2011 Comments Off on Parsimonious Illuminati by Henry Martin

To the unsuspecting visitor, my room may appear livable, or even mildly pleasant, but there is no hiding the truth from my consciousness.

The light, meager as it is, is indeed, merciful. On the surface, all appears neat and tidy. The peeling wallpaper; the dried vomit under the windowsill; and the mold spores, which, years ago, had crawled out from behind the heater and have taken over the entire east wall. All is hidden now by shadow, but I know. I know it is all here, witness to my self-destruction.

Teeth barred with safety wire embedded in amalgam, two buckets in front of me, I sit, hunched low, in my dilapidated armchair, mustering up the courage to begin. One leg in the phosphorous, the other in permanganate, I feel the skin twitching, the nerves tightening under the surface … I feel the tingling in every part of my body.

“I’m alive!”

My scream disturbs no one.

I pull the knife out of its sheath. Its blade glistens, sending specs of light dancing around the room.

What?

Movement behind the curtain catches my eye. Are the angels visiting me here tonight?

“You’re late!” I shout. “You’re fucking late!”

The curtain falls straight and still.

I reach down and dip the blade in both buckets. The green luminescence mixes with streaks of purple as it runs down along the sharp edge. How beautiful.

No! There isn’t enough time to pause and admire my creation. I will not give in to distraction.

The blade glistens in my hand as I bring it up to my face. Everything is still. Everything is silent, except the thumping noise in my chest.

The first cut will be the hardest.

© 2011 Henry Martin

When he’s not buried elbow-deep in some greasy motorcycle project, Henry Martin enjoys reading quality literature and writing prose and poetry of varying coherency. He finds inspiration in conquering the open road while trying to outrun some of the characters he created in the past. He lives with his family in NH, surrounded by coyotes, foxes, and bears.

Gardening Dilemma By Henry Martin

July 18, 2011 Comments Off on Gardening Dilemma By Henry Martin

Twenty-four years, three months, one day, and seventeen hours of Good Mornings, Good Nights, How-was-your-days, and I-love-yous. Twenty-four years, three months, one day, and seventeen hours of falling asleep and waking up in the same bed, side by side, inseparable. We’d aged, but our love had not…we’d evolved, yet, we never stopped dreaming. Dreaming of growing old together, dreaming of riding the utopian wave of happiness to the end. And to think it all started with a simple, humble “I do.”

Cars, kids, dogs …

It all came and went, except for our home. Our first home, the house we bought the day after our wedding. And then, twenty-four years, three months, one day, and seventeen hours later, it all collapsed.

I’d come home early that day, a bank check, for the contractor who just completed our new roof, in my hand. I’d wanted him to be gone before she arrived, then I wanted to take her out to a nice dinner. When I saw her car in the driveway, I had no idea she was paying him already — in her own way.

“We’ll always have our memories,” she’d said after he put his pants on and left.

“Why?” I screamed. “Why!”

“I tried telling you so many times.”

I couldn’t listen to her after that.

So many times…

Really? I never found out what she had been trying to tell me. I guess I’d never been a good listener. Still, twenty-four years, three months, one day, and seventeen hours is a long time. I tried to get past that, tried to move on. Things never did go back to the way they used to be.

We’ll always have our memories.

I replayed those words in my head when I tried to force myself to fall asleep on the sofa. I tried to work up my anger to do something about it, but deep inside, all I wanted to do was hold her head in my hands, kiss her lips, and wait for her to smile back at me. She wouldn’t.

“You spineless loser!” she would scream as she shut the bedroom door in my face every time I brought it up.

But it’s all better now. I kiss her lips as I’m holding her head in my hands. She doesn’t scream. She doesn’t try to pull away. Wide-eyed, she stares at me without saying a word. Things are finally back to normal. I run my fingers through the locks of her hair as I walk to the kitchen window. “Now,” I ask her ever so gently, “Where would you like the rest of you? Under the begonias or the hollyhocks?”

© 2011 Henry Martin

When he’s not buried elbow-deep in some greasy motorcycle project, Henry Martin enjoys reading quality literature and writing prose and poetry of varying coherency. He finds inspiration in conquering the open road while trying to outrun some of the characters he created in the past. He lives with his family in NH, surrounded by coyotes, foxes, and bears.

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