The box was full of balloons the color of synthetic gloves, each one packed with cocaine. Maria picked one up, then realized they were all tied together, like a string of sausage. Someone cut one off for her. She inspected it, said she couldn’t swallow it, that it was too big. She was slapped in the face and told it was easy, that girls smaller than her have done it. She was told that by doing this, she would keep her mother and brother alive, that she would make lots of money. This gave her courage. She slid one into her mouth. Surprisingly, the balloon was easy to swallow, like a snake swallowing a mouse.
Maria was loaded into a van with ten other girls. They were driven across the border into Arizona. The girls all held hands and prayed. Suddenly, nausea set in and Maria’s chest tightened. She turned cold and began to perspire heavily. She squeezed the hand of the girl beside her and closed her eyes, thinking of her mother and little brother
Category Archives: Matthew A. Hamilton
Freedom inside the white room
When I see the ice hotel in
Oil money. Men die for it
Men in black suits and white robes
Money is spent foolishly.
My wealth lies within a loving wife
His cheeks crack
in the razorblade wind.
His mind, full of craters,
into a bottle
His shark eyes
roll over white.
He takes his last breath.
His body nestles inside the
stairs of a subway entrance—
a corner of dancing nightmares
he calls home.
He walks to the middle of the street and sits down, crosses his legs. The war is three years old. He is calm and patient. Soldiers watch him closely. They are afraid. His robe intimidates them. A crowd gathers. The man pulls out a book, opens it. His lips move in silence. Then he places the book on the street and raises his hands. He snaps his fingers. Calico flames, like tamed cats, crawl up his arms. He returns to the earth in peace. By his death, he teaches others how to live.
i dig up the sands of my soul
i am a descendent of
i am worth twenty silver coins
they fear my power
It happened on December 23. Crowds battled the cold and each other for last minute gifts.
I noticed a woman on the sidewalk. She wore a greasy Notre Dame sweatshirt. She was holding an empty can. However, she remained happy, smiled at everyone who walked past.
“Sir,” she said, “please help me.”
“Don’t have,” I said. I held out my hands.
I began to walk away. As I did she said: “Why is that?”
“Look,” I said. “I’m sorry, but I was recently laid off. Philip Morris. I was an accountant there.”
“Sorry to hear. “Interview today?”
“Yes, how did you guess?”
“You’re dressed nice. And don’t worry about the job.”
“I really don’t have any money, you know.”
I was fascinated with this woman, but I also pitied her. Being homeless, how come she wasn’t depressed?
“What is your name?” I said.
“Matthew. So I was thinking…”
I stopped myself. What am I doing?
I finally got the words out: “Do you want to spend Christmas at my house?” I think my wife and two girls would enjoy meeting you.”
During Christmas dinner, Mable grabbed my wife’s hand and mine. “Your goodness has saved you,” she said.
“My wife and I both went to bed wondering what Mable meant by that.
The next morning Mable was gone. A few days after that, the Capitals hockey team hired me as an account executive.
Carlos lifts his hands for the security guard and enters the market. He searches for boys without hope, without opportunity.
Today Carlos finds Michael, a boy with sleepy eyes and a nervous twitch.
Carlos offers him a smoke.
“Thanks, “Michael says.
Carlos looks at the soccer ball stenciled on Michael’s T-shirt. “You like soccer?” he says.
“Yea,” Michael says.
“How would you like to make some money?” he says. “Be a prince of Mexico City?”
“What do I need to do?” Michael says.
“Practice. If your good enough I can see about making you pro. Pay’s ten dollars an hour and all you got to do is kick a ball around for a few hours. That sound good to you?”
“When do I start?” Michael says.
“Now,” Carlos says, “if you want.”
Carlos opens the van door for Michael. There are ten other boys inside. Michael climbs in.
They drive out to the desert. The boys are hustled out of the van. In front of them are four men, blindfolded and on their knees. Behind them are six men carrying automatic weapons. Michael smells piss and shit.
Carlos walks over to Michael and hands him an ax. “You know what to do,” he says. “This is a test. Pass and you will be part of the family. You will be part of the cartel. The city will be yours.”
The cracks in my hands told me
i pour a bowl of Rice Krispies
i flip on the bathroom light
I flush them down
The resting place of Sohaemus
within the stillness of weathered stone
the steps of nine walk toward the dark light.
here, all reality is swallowed by the past
people have been walking here since the beginning of time
I sit here, think about life and death
He coughs. He has headaches. He vomits blood. He faints. Doctor Smith tells him he has inoperable cancer. He gets a second opinion. Dr. Wilson says there is a chance. He begins chemo. Color coded pills fill the medicine cabinet. Blue and green in the morning. Pink and white in the evening. He sits in a comfortable leather chair. He watches his blood mix with a gold liquid. He is tired, but feels better. He takes a shower. The hot water massages his skin. He rubs his scalp. His hair begins to fall out. Razor in hand, he looks in the mirror. He cries. He doesn’t want to continue with the chemo, the pills. “I’m going to die anyway,” he says to himself. “And when I do, what then? All this money. My wife and children, their future. I just can’t do this anymore.”
Bob walks in the Doctor’s Hospital of Manila, goes to the information desk.
“I’m looking for Dr. Cortez,” he says.
“Second floor,” the young girls says. “Make a right at the elevator, then take your first right. Room 205.”
“Thank you,” Bob said.
There is a pile of people waiting next to 205. Bob walks in.
“May I help you?” the receptionist says.
“I’m from Peace Corps,” Bob says. “They called you.”
The receptionist hands him a sheet of paper. “Yes, sir, please fill this out and we’ll get you in as soon as we can.”
“Looks like lots of people out there, though,” Bob said. “How long’s the wait?”
“We can get you in as soon as the doctor arrives, sir.”
“Are you sure?” Bob asked.
“Yes, sir. We have a good relationship with Peace Corps.”
“Thank you,” Bob said.
Thirty minutes pass, then an hour. The nurse comes out. “Sir,” she says, “I’m sorry, but the doctor will be late. Do you want to come back tomorrow at twelve?”
“Sorry,” Bob says, “but I have another appointment at twelve, but I can make it early morning tomorrow, say eight?”
“Sorry sir, the clinic opens at eleven. But if you don’t mind waiting now, it will be another hour.”
After another thirty minutes, the nurse returns. “I’m sorry, sir, but the doctor is ill. Can you come back tomorrow?”
“I guess I’ll have to,” Bob says.
I pull the door open to Starbucks and walk in. The line is long. Infinity of Ss. I stand there, think about my day, the clients I need to call, the ones who need to call me, pull out a mirror and check my makeup, touch up my hair.
I stare at the glass case filled with doughnuts and cakes. In my line of work I can’t afford to indulge. Only coffee and a little cream, no sugar, is all I ever purchase.
I smile at the young man behind the counter as he hands me my change, then grab my coffee and search for a seat. I spot one. There is a woman at the table, 50ish I’d say, but put together nicely, a book in her hand.
“Is this seat taken?” I ask.
“No, sweety,” she says. “Go ahead.” She’s reading one of those cheesy romance novels. I smile and thank her.
My phone rings. It’s a client. “Hello there,” I say. “Yes…Okay…Sure…Same time…Same type of service…Sounds great…Okay, then…See you tonight…Okay…Bye.”
“Excuse me,” the woman says.
“Yes,” I say.
“I don’t mean to pry, sweety, but there’re other ways to make money.”
I laugh. “Lady— ummm…ahem…ahem…Excuse me. Ma’am, what are you thinking? That I’m a prostitute? No f…, I mean, no way. I wouldn’t do that. Ever.”
“I’m sorry, dear, I didn’t mean—”
“It’s okay,” I say.
“So, if you don’t mind my asking, what is it that you do?”
“They found my dad,” she said. “Near the swamp.”
“So,” he said, throwing a rock out to sea.
“Listen to me,” she said. “Please.”
He looked at her, no expression.
“It doesn’t look good,” she continued. “I mean, you did this, right?”
“Come closer,” he said, ignoring her question. “Tilt your head this way. Yea, that’s it.” The right side of her face was swollen. Black and blue and pink swirled around her puffy cheek. A thin line of dried blood covered the crack on her bottom lip.
“Sarah, you listen to me. It needed to be done. He would have eventually killed you. He can’t hurt you ever again. It’s over.”
“Yea, over, I know. They’re looking for you and when they find you—”
“They’re not going to find me.”
“Dad isn’t— wasn’t,” she corrected herself, “a bad man”.
“Wasn’t a bad man?” he said. “He was a mafia boss for Chrissakes.”
“I made a mistake, so he hit me.”
“Why are you defending him?” he said. He’s the one that made a mistake.”
“Dad didn’t make mistakes.”
“He did with me.”
“He trusted you.”
“I trusted you,” she said. She leaned in and kissed him. Their tongues met in a swarm of obsession and spit. She squeezed the trigger. Robert’s eyes went wide with fear and pain.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
The wind whispers to the
I talk to the water
Birds gather seed.
I sit in the dark and worry.
Faces of children
It is the children that force me to
Everything is foolish in war.
I remember my dead friend,
My mind is a liquid oblivion.
I grip my weapon.
I live in a world of shadows.
The mongoose sniffs the breeze, listens to the mass of slithering poison in the sugarcane. Evolution has taught her patience. She stands, unmoved for centuries, the art of killing heavy within her almond colored eyes.
|The last time I saw my wife she was on the porch reading a book. Her bare toes scrapped across the wooden floor. The sound of the rocking chair wrapped around the enclosed silence of my eyes. I couldn’t help but stare at her. She had beautiful tan skin, yellow haired curls.
I kissed her forehead. “See you in a few days,” I said.
“Love you,” she said.” I knew she didn’t want me to go. Something was wrong, but she wouldn’t tell me. In retrospect, I should have pressed the issue. Instead, I smiled. “Me, too,” I said.
Now she is only in my dreams. Yesterday I ran my hand across her stone house. I spelled her name with my fingers. I lay in the cool of her soft mound. I told her that I’ll sleep with her for eternity. I heard her voice speak to me through the roses.
I’ll never forget the day I returned. Mom said that her car flew off the bridge. Cause of death was drowning.
I screamed into her arms. She gently pulled me away. “There’s something else,” she said.
I wiped my eyes, sniffled. “What?” I asked.
“No, I said. Are they calling it a suicide, then? How long did she have?”
“Yes, she said. She put her arms around me, held me like only a mother can.
“Six months. Son, I’m so sorry. I loved her like my own daughter.”
Thanks to Congressman Alexander Pirnie, I was the first to win the lottery on December 1, 1969. I was nineteen years old. Other winners escaped to Canada. I did not. I thought about it, though. But I was more afraid of a military prison than being shot by a bunch of Charlies, whom, we were told, couldn’t shoot straight, anyway.
Even so, when I touched down in Vietnam, I assumed I wouldn’t see my twentieth birthday. There were other things that could kill me quicker than a bullet: snakes, tigers, and crocodiles just to name a few. Then there was a pile of diseases I could get.
My tour lasted four months. Oddly enough, the bullet that hit me saved my life. I didn’t realize I was hit until my adrenaline sucked the air out of me. The bullet went in my chest and out my back. I collapsed to my knees and passed out.
I woke up in a med tent. I was drowsy. I couldn’t make out what the voices around me were saying. I asked for a cigarette. One was jammed in my mouth. It hurt to breath in the smoke. I thought I was going to cough up a lung.
I was sent home.
Is it possible for someone to win the lottery twice? I am living proof that it can happen.
Nothing in life is permanent. That is what Matt is thinking as he watches Jason fall into a muddy rice paddy. Jason’s thigh explodes like a shattered lava lamp. He hits the sticky ground hard with a plume of milky blood.
“Corpsman!” Matt yells. “Corpsman!” Jackson is there in seconds. He jams his hands and tools inside the wound. Enemy fire is constant.
“The trees!” Sergeant Randy Miller orders. “”Fire into the goddamn trees!”
Automatic weapons fire blazes the air. Jackson drags Jason to safety, works quickly to clamp the artery shut. But it’s not working. Jason is turning white, going into shock.
After several minutes the firing stops and three Afghans are dead. The area is secured.
Matt runs over to Jason. “How’s he doing, Jackson?” Matt asks.
“We need to get him on a chopper,” Jackson says.
“One’s coming in a bit,” Miller says.
They all know what this means. Matt turns to Jason. “You hang in there buddy. Help’s comin.’” The chopper touches down and three Marines pick up Jason’s stretcher and haul him inside. Matt removes Jason’s dog tags, then lifts his hand in the air, spins it with a circular motion. The chopper is off in seconds and the remaining seven Marines pack up their stuff, prepare to continue their overnight patrol.
Matt slumps to the ground, buries his face between his knees. “It’s not our fault,” he says to himself. “It’s not our fault.” Jackson comforts him as best he can.
Communist mines blocked the harbor entrance. Frogmen exploded trying to sweep them. Private Norman Mertz, 1st Marines, and his buddies played cards below deck of an LST. They were impatient but in good spirits.
“Just a matter of time before they clear the mines,” Mertz reasoned.
“I’m fucking ready for some action,” Private Kipp said. “Those goddamn gooks better not make me miss Christmas.”
“We’ll whip ‘em,” Mertz said, “long before Christmas. Don’t you worry ‘bout that. MacArthur says so.”
When the LSTs landed at Wonsan, the Marines jumped out, equipment unloaded, but no enemy fire.
“See,” said Mertz, “no one here to greet us, all ran off to their bastard daddy, Kim.”
“Don’t like it,” Kipp said. “Something’s wrong.”
“Ain’t nothin’ wrong,” Mertz said. “Let’s go. We gotta job to do.”
They entered Wonsan. South Korean children ran up to greet them, asking for candy, anything. Mertz threw them some chocolate. Everything seemed peaceful.
The center of town was filled with ROK soldiers and American advance and technical teams. They were all laughing at the Marines.
“’Bout time you boys got here,” one of them said.
“What the hell,” Mertz said.
“We’ve been here for two weeks,” another said. “Even Bob Hope and his dancing girls got here before you, put on a show for us last night.”
“Really worked their asses off,” came another voice. This produced a roar of laughter from everyone but the Marines. Hey appreciated a good joke, but were humiliated all the same.
I dream of lolly pops and
The sweet smell of opium races through my
The sun is made of gold.
Devil eyes burn.
The moon is filled
with cracks of blue mix.
Wild things crawl under my bed. I
can hear them.
“What do they sound like?” the doctor asks.
“They sound like nothing,” I say.
“Nothing is something,” he says.
The holes in my bruised arms are battle wounds
of a rehabilitated street corner.
Ted was born premature. He was an impatient child. He was also a genius. He was reading by the age of three. He graduated high school at fifteen. He enrolled at MIT. He studied Persian, Mandarin Chinese, and Farsi in his free time. He graduated a year early. A month later a man from the CIA rang his doorbell.
“How would you like to work for us?” he asked.
“He’s only eighteen,” Ted’s dad said.
“We’re okay with that, sir” the man said.
“What is it that you need him for?” Ted’s dad asked.
“Can’t tell you that, sir,” the man said.
“I’m not going to let him go, then,” Ted’s dad said.
“Like you said, sir, he’s eighteen. Legally, you can’t stop him.”
Ted was breaking codes a week later. He couldn’t believe it. All the cloak and dagger games he played not so long ago evolved into real life scenarios. Best of all, he was making a six figure salary.
Codes were intercepted between Iran and China. After studying them, Ted claimed China was giving Iran blueprints for a nuclear weapons facility. The building was currently under construction. The information was passed to the President.
“Are you sure?” the President asked.
“Yes, sir,” Ted said. “Absolutely.”
The President gave the go ahead.
An MQ-1 Predator was deployed. Target was destroyed.
The next day, Iranian TV reported that a hospital was bombed in the city of Qean, killing five hundred people, mostly patients.
Washington denied having any involvement.
Watching the Star Wars Trilogy. That was Space Camp for me in 1989.
Mom had the money, but she left after finding out dad was shacking up with the neighbor’s daughter. That’s why no real Space Camp that year. No money. Dad lost his job a year before and didn’t bother trying to get another one. He started driving a Pepsi truck after mom left.
I was mad about not going to Space Camp, but I didn’t mind. I liked dad the best and decided to stay with him. He let me do what I wanted. Sometimes he snuck me a beer, even though I told him that the cops weren’t going to smash in our door and take me away over a beer. But dad was a war vet, first Gulf War. He freaked out about everything: a mouse scratching the inside of a wall, water dripping, a ringing doorbell. I mean, every fucking thing.
Eventually, the cops did take me away, but not over a beer. It was over a dream dad had. He woke up screaming and tearing his room to pieces with a hunting knife. Then he pulled his gun and blasted his desk lamp. He swore that it was an Iraqi soldier. Anyway, the neighbors called the cops and dad was hauled away in cuffs.
Now I live with mom. I hate it. But at least I’ll get to go to Space Camp next year.
She suspected her husband of having an affair. She didn’t want to hire a private investigator or follow him around herself. She simply wanted to confront him with it. She’d be able to tell if he was lying. After twenty years of marriage it wouldn’t be hard to do.
She waited for him to come down for breakfast.
“Morning, sweetheart?” she said.
He poured his coffee and sat down at the table, flipped open the paper. “Morning. What’s got you so high today?”
“I need to talk to you about something. Can you put the paper down?”
He folds it in half, puts it on the table. “Is it going to take long? I need to be at work in an hour.”
She placed a plate of muffins on the table, butter and jam. “Nope, shouldn’t take long.”
He grabbed a muffin. “Well, what is it?”
“Are you seeing someone? You come home late, you didn’t use to do that, and you don’t seem happy with me anymore.”
He nervously stuffs a piece of muffin in his mouth, chews slowly. “No, honey, why would you think such a thing? “It’s just work, been really busy these last few months.”
She pulled out one of his shirts. “You’re lying!” she screamed. “See this? This is not my lipstick on the collar.”
He couldn’t talk, couldn’t move. His throat closed up. His tongue swelled. And before he closed his eyes she whispered in his ear, “Almonds. In the muffins.”
He flipped his legs over the side of the boat, put on his fins. His friend, Jason, checked the spear gun.
“Good to go,” Jason said. “You good?”
Tom was an experienced free diver and hunter. “No problem. Let’s get something big this time.”
“This is where John caught that jack mackerel last year,” Jason said, “so I don’t think there’ll be a problem.”
Tom jumped into a dark cloud of blood and guts from the chum bucket. Bubbles rocketed up his sides, popped when they hit the surface. Small fish swam nearby, easy kills, but he waited. He was patient. He could hold his breath for a long time. He wanted the big kill.
Then he saw them, where the coral reef dropped off. A small school of dogtooth tuna swam 10 meters below him, oblivious to the danger. He bent his legs forward and pushed down, forced his body into a vertical motion, aimed his spear gun.
Suddenly, a sharp pain assaulted his leg. He looked up, saw a cloud of blood above his knee and the white underbelly of a great white shark. He stayed focused, didn’t panic, twisted his body around, surfaced.
“Jason! Shark!” he yelled. “Get me in the boat!”
Then he was gone.
Jason rushed forward with the boat. He poked with the safety hook inside the patch of crimson-blue. Nothing. Jellied foam mingled with the starboard side. White death surrounded his friend. There was nothing he could do to save him.
I was a Mormon once, but then decided to give it up and start drinking. Drinkers have all the fun, have raucous sex in the back seat of a car, smoke pot.
My first beer was a Budweiser. Not a good one to start with, but it was free, so I took it. Can’t beat a free beer, even if it does suck. After my first one I had another, then another and another and…
I woke up in the rose bushes at a friend’s house. The inside of my head felt like a lava lamp. I took an aspirin, felt better after a couple of hours, then went home.
My second beer was a Guinness. It tasted like chocolate, the first couple anyway, but I after that I don’t remember. But I do remember the back seat of my Honda Accord and Sally Harmon sitting on my face.
After beer I moved on to liquor, shots of vodka, then bourbon on the rocks. This time I woke up in the hospital, was told they had to pump my stomach. I felt like shit the whole day, but felt better when Sally came to pick me up.
Two weeks later I woke up in the hospital again. I had wires and machines jammed in my arms and chest. Sally was in the bed next to mine, but she was covered in a white sheet. I began to cry, but didn’t return to the Mormon Church. I blamed God for everything.
John woke up in the dark and the dark was moving. He was blindfolded and tied up. He heard men talking, the car swerving. He smelled cigarette smoke.
He didn’t make a sound, feigned unconsciousness. His head hurt. He assumed that his future was over. “Was I drugged?” he thought. “Hit over the head? Why? Had they found out that I was the one who killed Tommy? Yea, that must be it. But how? I’m the best.”
When the car turned on to a dirt road, he began to panic. From his experience, the work he was in, he knew that dirt roads always lead to empty graves and hit men wearing black gloves, black suits. Pebbles, kicked up by the tires, clinked the back bumper. The smell of dust poured through the air conditioner. His palms were sweating. His breath was heavy with fear. He shifted in his seat, tried to speak, but was slapped in the face, told to shut the fuck up.
The car stopped. Doors opened, shut. He heard deep, mumbled voices, grunts, through the window, but he didn’t recognize any of them. He only made out a few words: money, escape, and one phrase: hide the body.
He was pulled from the car, forced to his knees. The blindfold was removed.
“Tommy!” John screamed, just before his head transformed into red marmalade.
Tommy took a drag on his cigarette, got in the car, waited for his men to hide the body.
His first assignment was to enter the ghetto. His eighteen year old mind, easily and malevolently conditioned, urged him to rid the parasites that stole his father’s business, his family’s inheritance. His blue eyes, intelligent and strong, were full of rage. He kicked in the door of one house, then another, forced women to pack, men to dance, children to polish his boots. He pulled beards and called names, taunted. He pushed bodies, large and small, sick and healthy, young and old, in separate lines. He stuffed them in sweltering boxcars.
The train departed. A camp is the best solution, he thought. Gather and destroy, leave no trace. His crooked smile, like the badge on his arm, motivated his blindness.
Arriving at camp, yellow stars were replaced with stripped pajamas. Old men and women, the sick, children, were immediately marched into the forest. He volunteered to go. He was the first to squeeze the trigger. His memory of humanity was erased by angry metal.
He and his comrades soon realized that gas and fire were more efficient. Bony forms were herded into a dark room, promised a shower. Water transformed into a white cloud. There were screams. Fists pounded the door. Finally, the cloud hovered over the silence. The forms were piled into ovens, burned. He watched the smoke become one with the sky. His soul fought him to change, but unsuccessfully. He couldn’t see right from wrong, good from evil.
I reach the subway platform at 1:00am. I study the gang graffiti on the wall across from me, something I don’t see when the sun is up, when the platform is filled with clicking feet and impatient coffee drinkers.
Out of the corner of my eye I see a shadow slip behind a concrete pillar. I snap my head, watch, investigate. Nothing. I turn back to the graffiti and I as I do, the shadow appears again, this time in human form, dark complexion, wearing an Oakland Raider’s jacket.
He walks slowly in my direction. I look at the clock. The train will arrive in 5 minutes. I can already feel its vibrations. But he will reach me before then, so I pull out my baton and wait. My sweat turns to ice. I’ve never been robbed before.
The time clicks to one minute and by now I can clearly see the guys face, wrinkled and sick, red eyes dripping with alcohol. A knife sticking in his leg explains why he is walking like a turtle.
He loses his balance and falls towards me. I catch him, put him on the ground, call 911. As I’m talking with the operator, the train stops for a minute. I breathe in the stale wind it produces as it speeds away.
I feel so guilty that I ride with him to the hospital. I kick myself with shame, because if the guy had been white, my baton would have never left my pocket.
In the midst of a war torn nation
leaves emerge below the Vakhan strip like
mangled bodies of faceless men:
We are soldiers.
They are Taliban.
We are the snow that falls
on the Towr Mountains, the
lavish pine trees and
cool scents of fresh green that mingles
with the frozen breath of angels.
They are the rain that falls in the valley below,
the sun that awakens the land,
the blackcurrant shadows that penetrate fresh air.
Their children are borne from small stones that lay atop a dusty hill.
Torn clothes clutch frantically to makeshift poles.
Lonely cries tremble in the wind.
Souls bleed into the Panjsher River.
There is peace.
They are the noble snow leopards hiding behind frosty rocks.
Sensing warm blood and nourishing pulp,
they wait patiently for the agali of the Hindu Kush.
Moon rays drip on dark rosettes of steady strength.
We are the jackal surrounding bleeding
mountains of carrion.
We are the red fluid changing untainted snow
into a watercourse of red crimson.
All of us form the balance of the Tiger.
and orange-gold refreshes
the waters of the Amu.
Changing days and
dark shadows ripple
across straw-colored streams.
Their spirits become our spirits,
wasting away like of crushed bone.
Death is routine.
We are soldiers. We shoot their children.
They are Taliban. They plant bombs in their chest.
There is Terror.
Under different circumstances I would have considered Tarawa a paradise. But when we landed there on 20 November 1943, the thoughts I had of my wife frolicking on this white sandy beach similar to the one in Hawaii where we spent our honeymoon, turned to blood and fear.
Our Higgins boat jammed in the shallows and so we had to walk across razor sharp coral. Enemy fire honed in on us like swarms of bees. Salt water burned the cuts on my hands and legs.
I lost half my guys before we hit the beach. All I could see and smell was blood and sweat, metal melting on skin. The mortally wounded screamed for their mothers.
I took cover behind an Amphtrack, tried my best to lead young boys to their destiny. Provided that it was clear of Japanese snipers, I determined that the pier would be a good rallying point. Reaching the pier, we dug in as best we could. Bodies and parts of bodies, like soulless driftwood, forced my throat to burn with vomit and hate and tears.
We finally reached inland and dug in for the night. The inexperienced sleepers had their throats cut. The crabs made homes inside their stomachs. Guadalcanal taught me never to sleep and so I lay on my back, still as a rock, and waited for the sun to come up and for the fighting to resume. I thought of my wife and a peaceful paradise.
Afshan met Mr. Lee at Times Square Mall. They dined at the Hunan Garden. He bought her a pair of $300 earrings at Chow Tai Fook. Compensated dating paid well.
He was very handsome. Sparks of silver in his hair gave him a divine aura. His body, erect and strong, ironed the folds in his well tailored suit. She was eager to intimately explore him.
They drove to the Kowloon Hotel.
“I reserved a room on the tenth floor,” Lee said.
“Sounds nice,” Afshan replied, giggling. Her face was warm and flushed. And the shaved topography between her legs was wet, eager to sketch seductive intersections in virgin white sheets.
He swiped the key card and they walked in. She removed her jacket as they headed for the bedroom. She unhooked her earrings, studied them for a moment, then placed them on the nightstand. She knew what he expected after giving her such an expensive gift. She pulled back the sheets and walked over to him, unbuttoned his coat and threw it on the floor. She gently poked his chest, backed him up toward the bed. He grabbed her hips and rolled her Kookai skirt up to her waist. She dangled her breasts above his awaiting tongue. He traced a slimy trail of circles around her chocolate colored areolas.
After an hour of heat and sweat, his balls stiffened and exploded in pleasure. She collapsed on his chest and began mapping out the details of her next date.
A golden ray trickle of
the sun slowly rises
from its watery chamber.
The waves of the metallic blue sea quietly slap
the sides of the lonely sail boat.
a school of awkward fish,
jump into the blue experience
and slowly make
their way to a nearby atoll.
The quiet sea explodes with foam and bubbles.
Chthonian voices echo beneath skeletal ships.
Barracudas swim at a close distance,
curious at the sight of unfamiliar creatures of the sea.
Stingrays stealthily search for small fish.
A sea horse gallops nearby.
Above the water is Nassau.
a poor and beleaguered people,
for knickknack buying tourists.
A baby girl cuddles on her mother’s lap.
Children run around barefoot,
torn shirts bleeding into their skin.
Parties stimulate the evening.
The streets are cluttered with smack agents,
barhops and vice girls.
The rhythmic sound of Reggae Music
burns the sultry air of smoke and mixed drinks.
Sweaty bodies pop like champagne bottles,
their dreams explode into white bubbles of
crystalline essence and turquoise honey.
As I watched my wife sleep, I realized something. I realized that I was the luckiest guy around. Then the alarm went off at 5am and it was time for her to go to work. I had already been up an hour. I loved watching her sleep.
She worked as a cashier at the Food Lion a few blocks down the street. Even though a short distance, I usually drove her. That morning, though, she decided to walk.
“I’ll see you after work,” I said.
“Yea, I’ll call you,” she said. “Maybe you can pick me up a little early and we’ll go for a nice dinner or something.”
“With what money?” I asked. I don’t have the job, yet.”
“You’ll get it,” she said. She opened the door to leave.
I walked her out, kissed her goodbye.
“Love you,” I said.
“You, too,” she said.
I got the call an hour later. She had been in an accident and was rushed to the hospital. They were working on her when I arrived, giving her shots, shoving tubes in her stomach and mouth. Her face was swollen and I hardly recognized her. Her eyes, large and purple, gave her the appearance of a demonized caricature. I pressed my hand against the glass and cried.
The doctor said she’d never wake up. When he asked me what to do, I told him to do what any loving husband would want him to do. I told him to shut off the machine.
My Girlfriend’s Birthday by Matthew Hamilton
I bought my girlfriend a basket of breadfruit for her 21st birthday.
“What’s all this jackfruit doing on the table?” she asked. “And why are there candles stuck in them?”
“Breadfruit,” I said, smiling.
“Whatever. What’s it doing here?”
“I bought it,” I said. “You eat it.”
“Obviously,” she said. “What for?”
“You’re kidding,” she said, smiling uncertainly. “You want me to look deeper, move the fruit around. Is that it?”
“No,” I said. “Why would I want you to do that?”
“I don’t know,” she said, but I could tell she wanted to say something more.
“So why don’t you bake it and let’s see if what they say about it is true.”
“You want me to bake something for you on my birthday,” she said. “Are you retarded?”
“Just try it.”
She rolled her eyes. “What will happen if it’s baked?”
“It’s supposed to look like bread,” I said. “Hence the name.”
I tried to give her a kiss, but she gently pushed me away.
“Blow out the candles,” I said, “and let’s slice one open.”
“Okay, fine,” she said. She was irritated; that made the surprise worth it.
When she pulled out the little black box, she looked up at me. Her eyes were watering.
We were married a week later.
Come on, did you really think I’d buy breadfruit for my girlfriend for her birthday?