Ichabod Chapter 1 con’t.

Stomach grumbling, I headed downstairs to the kitchen, passing Zoe on the way. As usual she perched on the bottom step with the phone firmly attached to her ear. She quickly ducked under my playful swat and stuck her tongue out at me. I was pretty sure that, even if she hadn’t been speaking at the pace of an over-caffeinated auctioneer, I still wouldn’t have been able to understand more than a few words of her conversation. As far as I could tell Zoe and her friends spoke their own language.

I put on a pot of coffee and filled a bowl with cereal before sitting down at the kitchen table. I chewed slowly, contemplating the bare wood countertop. At some point in the distant past my father had decided to take up carpentry. The kitchen had been in a perpetual state of renovation ever since. My mother could be a patient woman. When it came to my father. I again thought about how thankful I was for a weekend free of my mother’s probing questions into my non-existent social life. Why was it so hard for everybody to understand that I liked being by myself? I supposed “everybody” was an unfair generalization. Most people left me alone, unless they were asking about Zoe. The only ones who ever really bugged me were mom and, occasionally Zoe. For some reason my little sister found my self imposed loner status extremely embarrassing.  And besides, no one in this house had room to complain about my weirdness, they all thought corded phones and compact discs were cutting edge.

I was day dreaming and enjoying the chocolaty taste of my breakfast when Zoe swept in, ear still clinging to the phone, and gave me her rigid-body, wide-eyed, teeth-gritted look that screamed impatience. I choked out a laugh from around a mouth full of mushy cereal at the ridiculous pose and she stomped off into the living room with a little snarl, trailing the long phone cord behind her like an angry cat lashing it’s tail.  By the time I had finished breakfast, and poured a cup of coffee, Zoe returned, sans phone, and took a seat across the table from me, glowering.

“What?” I asked sharply when I could no longer ignore her staring.

“Can we GO now?”

I took a sip of coffee to hide my smile and watched her from over the rim of my cup, “what’s the rush?”

“Some of us actually have friends, Ya know? Friends?” Her voice drowned in exasperation, but whether the tone was due to my stalling of my lack of friends I couldn’t tell. Probably both.

“You have enough friends for the both of us.” Boy was that an understatement.

I could see her struggling for a response, and for half a second I could feel an itch coming on, but she settled for another frustrated little snarl and stalked out of the kitchen. What d’ya know, I think I won one.

As novel as that was, I couldn’t really see any way to put off the trip to town any longer. I stoically finished my coffee, dropped my cup and bowl in the sink, and grabbed by car keys from the hook on the wall. When I reached the front door I  paused with my hand on the door knob.

“Zoe….” I called with mock sweetness, then finished with a yell, “ARE you coming or WHAT?” I had only just yanked open the door and Zoe was already skipping past me with a huge smile on her face.

“Itch, you’re the best.” She beamed, all sweetness and sunshine now that she was getting her way.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Just get in the car.” I replied.

“Sheesh, lighten up, Itch,” she mumbled as she bounced into the passenger seat of my car and turned the rearview mirror towards her so that she could do a last minute check of her make-up.

I ran my hand over the morning chilled hood of my car as I walked towards the drivers side. I didn’t know anything about cars, but I knew that I loved this one. It was a ’68 Camaro someone had either restored or taken very good care of. This car and I had been destined for each other. my unwavering belief in that was based on three facts: Face one, the guy who sold the car to my father had been afraid he was going to lose it in his divorce and decided to sell it cheap out of spite; Fact two, the car was my favorite color-baby blue-with dual white stripes running down the hood and a white leather interior; Fact three, despite never having driven before in my life (unless you count the arcade) my first time behind the wheel of this car had felt natural. My hands flowed like water over the car’s every contour. This car was one of the few things in my life which made me happy. As I climbed into the drivers seat and shut the door I noticed Zoe staring at me with a finger pressed over her slightly pursed lips.

“What?”

She continued to stare for a moment before answering. ” You need a girlfriend.” She paused, tapping her chin, and then a slow smile spread across her face. OH NO. ” I could fix you up with one of my friends.”

I could see her already ticking down through a mental list of names. I groaned. Nothing good could come from that look on her face. She had decided what her new mission in life was and there would be no stopping her, but I had to at least try.

“Do you have any idea how embarrassing it would be for me to have my little sister setting me up on a blind dates?” I asked as I readjusted the rearview mirror and started the car. I found it harder to feel annoyed with the engine growling.

” I have a lot of friends your age, ” she said defensively.

“Zee, you’re friends with EVERYBODY. That wasn’t my point and you know it.”

Her face scrunched up with irritation and she threw herself back in the seat, exhaling an aggravated breath and folding her arms across her chest. “Since when do you care about what people think? Besides, it’s not like anyone would even notice anything that you did. You work so hard at being invisible.” She said that last part as if she were accusing me of some horrible crime. In her mind she probably was.

” A trick you make more difficult with each passing year.”

“It’s not funny, ” she grumbled, staring at the dashboard with hard eyes.

“Why do you care?” I asked, trying to keep the desperation out of my voice. I could tell that I wasn’t swaying her resolve one bit.

“Because you’re my big brother and I love you,” She responded in her tiniest voice, looking at me with her wide eyes as big as she could make them.

I snorted and turned back to the road. “More like you can’t resist interfering in my life/”

“If you actually had a life, I wouldn’t have to,” she shot back. I didn’t bother responding and after a minute she continued, “How come you never go to any of the parties you get invited to?”

The question surprised me so much I nearly drove off the road. How had she known about the recent flurry of party invitations I had been receiving at school?  Had she been telling her friends to invite me to parties? the little twerp wasn’t even a freshman yet and she already had the entire high school wrapped around her finger. Evil digit. I was not looking forward to the start of the next school year. But no, I was being crazy, she wouldn’t dare-at least, I didn’t think she would. Someone must have mentioned it to her, though why I would be the topic of anyone’s gossip was a mystery to me.  Of course I also couldn’t figure out what had precipitated the sudden storm of invitations.

“Well?” Zoe pushed. She was starting to get whiney again.

“Listen, Zee,” I began, taking a deep breath. I only get invited to parties because people are hoping that I’ll show up with you. It’s just a convenient way for guys to bypass dad.” I had come up with it on the fly, but it was probably the truth. It still sounded pathetic when I heard it out loud. “It wouldn’t kill you to drive me to a party every once in a while,” she muttered.

“It might.”

He jaw clenched like a fist and I could hear her teeth grinding. I was pretty sure that if I hadn’t been driving I would have, at that very moment, been scratching at a thousand elusive itches.

“You don’t know why people invite you to parties, ” she argued, glaring at me.

“Well, I had better be right about the reason,” Yeah, popularity by proxy was just awesome. “Because if I find out you’ve been telling your friends to invite me anywhere, I swear, I’ll bury in the back yard. ”

To my absolute horror that shut her up. I guess she would dare.

I spent the rest of the drive trying to figure out how I could convince my parents to send me to military school. Maybe if I begged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ichabod, Chapter one

It was morning. Again, I knew this despite having a blanket pulled tightly over my head, by the insistent-and annoying-beeping of the digital alarm clock that sounded like it was somewhere very close to my head. Actually, it sounded as if it was somewhere inside my head-but I was reasonably sure that wasn’t the case.

I could have sworn I unplugged that thing. It was for reasons, like this my bed was no more than a mattress on the floor, placed strategically in the center of my room, and why I didn’t have any tables or high surfaces. It made it much easier for me to find and grab things from the comfort of a prostrate position.

Reaching out from underneath my blanket with one arm, I blindly groped through the piles of clothes which covered the entirety of my room until I felt the clocks rectangular plastic shell and retrieved it from beneath the discarded depths. First, I tried simply slapping the top, hoping to hit the snooze button. When that failed, I got a firm grasp on the corner and proceeded to slam it off the floor. Unfortunately, the floor was so heavily cushioned with cast off clothing that this too failed to have the desired effect. Finally, my sleep-addled brain cleared enough for a brief strike of inspiration and I felt around the clock’s surface until I managed to locate the cord, lifted it slightly and yanked. The beeping ceased.

I sighed contentedly and snuggled into my pillow, pulling the edges of the blanket around me tightly. I was a little disappointed to have awoken from my dream, a dream of a pair of clear green eyes, but I smiled to myself within the dark confines of my cocoon. It was Saturday, one of just two days of the week when it didn’t bother me so much to have to wake up. The reasons for this were simple: Saturday meant that it was the weekend (obviously). This of course meant no school (always a plus), but mainly it meant that I didn’t have to deal with people. Except my family, which was bad enough.

This weekend was especially promising because my parents had left the night before and would not be back until late Sunday. This left me home alone with my obnoxiously popular little sister. But this seemed like a small price to pay for a reprieve from my father’s mandatory Saturday morning workouts and my mother’s habitually worried questions about why I never had any plans. She either could not understand or refused to accept, the fact that I didn’t have any friends. That I didn’t want any. Not anymore anyways. I brushed all of those thoughts away and tried to concentrate on that perfect pair of light green eyes, hoping to recapture my dream.

I had almost drifted back to sleep when a tell take itch began at the tip of my nose and, before I could reach up to scratch it, quickly spread over my scalp, chest and arms as well. Zoe.

“Go away”. I complained loudly from under my blanket, vigorously without effect.

“You said that  you’d drive me into town today”, A tiny voice complained back.

“Ichabod…” she whined, stretching my name out in her little girl voice.

Where was a sneaker when you needed one? “Zee, go away,” I growled, giving up on the sneaker and feeling around for the alarm clock. It had just been right there. Somewhere.

“Itch!” She continued to whine and I heard a thump that sounded suspiciously like the stomping of a very small foot.

Itch. I hated that nickname. Although, in truth, it wasn’t the name itself that bothered me so much as it was the reason behind it, and my frustration at not being able to figure out how exactly Zoe was able to pull off her little trick of sending me into uncontrollable fits of scratching. She of course, continued to insist that the phantom itches were the physical manifestations of a guilty conscious. I found it more than a bit suspicious that it only happened  when she thought I had a reason to feel guilty-like when I really annoyed her. If it hadn’t been for that irritating mystery anything would have been better that Ichabod, even Itch. At least Zoe was the only one who used it.

“Alright!’ I finally surrendered, “I’m awake!” Predictably, the phantom itches disappeared at the exact moment of my capitulation. Eventually, I was going to figure out how she did that.

When I rolled out of bed, after the few moments it took to disentangle myself from the blanket, Zoe had already fled. I sat up slowly rubbing the sleep out of my eyes with my fists, and noticed the clock, my sneakers, and several palm-sized objects piled neatly together near the door. Just out of reach from the bed. Cleaver little twerp.

Still half asleep I grabbed what I was fairly certain was a towel off the floor

and stumbled across the hallway to the bathroom, kicking the door closed with a heel. A shower was what I needed. The not water felt good and went a long way toward waking me up. As my head began to clear of it’s post-dream fog. I actually began to feel optimistic about the day-until I remembered I was driving General Zoe into town to launch her weekly invasion of the mall.

The problem with going into town was that it as always full of people. The problem with going into town with Zoe was that the majority of those people would, somehow, make their way to wherever she happened to be. It was inevitable, Ugh. People. I had not been capable of stomaching the company of people. Despite what she thought, it was not because I was an anti -social monster determined to make her look bad and ruin her life. The truth was that, since that dark summer, it had become impossible to find a male above the age of puberty who could think coherently if Zoe was anywhere within a mile radius-a fact she seemed oblivious to, but I had my suspicions.

If Zoe wasn’t so…..well, beautiful, I grudgingly admitted to myself, then I might have been able to get through a day, or at least an hour, without some love-sick moron asking me about my little sister. The worst were the seniors. Seniors! As impossible as it seemed, at only fourteen, Zoe had captured the heart and mind of every guy in town. It occasionally drove my father into fits. Zoe had the same golden-brown hair as our mother; however, unlike mom’s short cut, Zoe’s fell in waves and curls all the way down to her waist. Her features were small and delicate, but at little more than five-foot-two, everything about her was small-tiny even-except of course for her eyes which were large and round with long lashes and of such a startling blue that most people were convinced they must be contacts. Our mother had beautiful blue eyes, but nothing like Zoe’s. Zoe looked like a painting of some mythical woodland goddess come to life.

It took me awhile, but I eventually decided I wouldn’t be able to hide in the shower all day. I reluctantly turned off the water. After brushing my teeth, I ran a thumb over my chin and cheeks. I didn’t need to, but I shaved anyway-it seemed like a good way to kill ten minutes. When that was done, I spent a long time examining myself in the mirror. I had inherited my father’s deep gray eyes and thick brown hair, though I kept mine cut short, slightly longer on top than on the sides, while his hung past his shoulders. I complained a lot about my father’s insistence that I spend a few hours every weekend lifting weights with him, but I had to admit I liked the results. I was no where near as well muscled as the old man, that took a level of dedication I simply didn’t have. At least I wasn’t gangly. With a name like Ichabod that would have been just asking for trouble.

As I stood there, flexing in the mirror, I could feel it there suddenly. Building inside of me with the speed of fire. The urge to smash my fist into the glass. Maybe my face.  I began to quiver with the desire to strike out. I gripped the sides of the sink, breathing in deeply through my nose and out through my mouth. I’d read somewhere that sort of breathing was supposed to help control anger. It wasn’t doing a thing for the rage blazing beneath my skin. I gritted my teeth and watched the reflection of my jaw muscles jump. then as swiftly as it had appeared, it was gone. I shifted my attention in time to see the last of the strange light leave my eyes. These episodes were getting more frequent, which scared me only slightly less then the episodes themselves. .

I released the kung fu grip I had on the sink and sank to my knees, setting my forehead against the cool porcelain. There was something seriously wrong with me. Normal people did not suffer from unprovoked spells of intense anger, and even if they did, their yes certainly didn’t glow when it happened. Maybe I imagined the glowing thing. That made more sense. A mild hallucination. but did it then mean there was something less wrong, or more wrong with me? So far, I hadn’t been able to bring myself to tell anybody about it. They would probably just think I was crazy. I know I did.

I headed back to my own room with what, thankfully actually had turned out to be a towel wrapped around my waist. I stopped just inside if the doorway and surveyed the mess before me with a critical eye. It helped take my mind off my possible insanity, so I let my imagination carry me away.

My bed looked like a raft which had been set afloat on a sea of rumpled clothing. Somewhere beneath the surface lurked a stereo, my collection of cd’s and the monstrous wooden trunk I used as a dresser-when I actually bothered to put anything away. Eventually, I would have to clean up this dump. Or, at the very least, tidy up a bit.

I began randomly grabbing and sniffing clothes to see if they were clean, or rather, if they were not. It took me a few minutes, but I managed to put together all the makings of my usual uniform; a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, plain black today I took an extra moment to look for a shirt emblazoned with a slogan sure to embarrass Zoe; unsurprisingly the numerous shirts I owned suitable for the task were all missing. Clever little twerp. I briefly contemplated revenge, but only briefly. I knew that was a war I would not win. Zoe could be rabidly dedicated to messing with me, whereas I just wanted to be left alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Ichabod

Eight years ago, while detiorating in solitary, I sat down to write. What bled from my pen were the first scenes of Ichabod. In many ways I still have not gotten up.

It took me two years to finish a very rough draft and another year to clean it up enough that I could allow anyone to read it. For the last five years I have edited and revised as time has permitted, but doing everything with a pen and paper is so time consuming that I doubt that I will ever finish.

Ichabod is the fist character I ever wrote and his story is the seed of my love for writing. Ichabod isn’t much of a her, he was born from my tragedy and heartbreak, but he saved me. This is me returning the favor.

See, it has become clear to me that no matter what I do or accomplish I will probably never be released from prison. Even if I am, it will be once I’m so old that I’ll never have anything like a life. So while I will almost certainly die behind the wall, Ichabod won’t. What follows are the twenty five chapters of Ichabod’s story presented as a serial, because I have to impose on my loved ones to type this stuff up for me. Some of the lengthier chapters will be presented in two parts. Please bear with me.

At this point dozens of people have read Ichabod and the response has been  over whelmingly  positive. of course most of those readers are in here with me. I hope someone out there loves these fucked up misfits as much as I do.

Shooter

Late arrived,

Last sat,

Tight-strapped

To Sharks’ table.

I brush sleeves

Into ante-

Raise stakes blindly-

I slip loaded

Dice down cup

Choose pips

And still gamble

On uncertain outcomes;

A rattle,

A rumble,

A pulse against felt.

Concussive spins

Send skyward prayers

Beg conclusive settlement

Between this pair

Which allows each

Collection

Of the other’s chip.

 

 

 

 

About “Shooter”

I wrote shooter while struggling with my foolish heart’s desire for a woman that nothing could ever happen with. I knew that, but of course the knowledge changed nothing. It occurred to me that even under more ideal circumstances, love is always a gamble. Presumably, we cheat. We choose someone with whom we share interests or important traits- we bet on someone that should stack the odds in our favor. Yet the outcome is always uncertain and the stakes feel so high.

I have since learned to love without requiring reciprocity, which is not anything like easy but there is a rewarding feeling in loving someone even when who they are is someone not in love with you. Loving that person for who they really are and loving them completely. That’s a whole other kind of gamble. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still one of the neediest people I know, I just don’t need to be loved to love-which probably makes me a cat person.

Anyway, “Shooter” is about the uncertainty inherent in matters of the heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand

Have you heard

Passionate pounding

of the inflamed

Wrathfully reddened

Raised Fortress-Like

On heights above flotsam

Creates singular contrast:

Crystalline ink cliffs

Scarlet tides overlook-

A sunrise landscape,

The settlements of age

Steal crimson luster

Solid walls crumble

They Splay

Grant wider borders

To moments territory

Across this world’s body-

A sunset landscape

 

 

About Brand

I started writing this strictly as a poem about tattooing, but I started thinking about how the life of a tattoo isn’t that different than the life of our bodies and really how neither is that different from the life of any physical structure.

 

The passion of youth, like the pain of fresh ink which is slightly raised like a newly erected building-that’s an example of the kind of connections I made when writing this piece. As a tattoo ages it is no longer inflamed and often the ink lines will widen, just as castle whose walls crumble from age creating a wider area from the debris, just as our age, usually makes us more prone to consider the complications and motivations behind a conflict, rather than just reacting; to get to this last idea I’m building off of the image of the fortress as the citadel of a territory, where “wider borders” in relation to tattoos mean the thickening of lines it  means a greater no man’s land between territories.

I feel like I probably tried to do too much with this piece and I don’t spend nearly as much time as I should on these “about” sections, so I’m under explaining the overly complicated. I’m in the middle of getting new ink. So I thought I’d dust this off, I may even start working on it again.