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The Morgue can be a Potent Place

Seeded 12/21 finished just in time for Spooky Season.

The Morgue can be a Potent Place

By Tyler Lucas Mobley

 The Keeper looks up from his desk at a flicker of lights. 

“Spirits grifting the flux, even death can’t take them off the grid. I can’t complain, when I kick it rest assured I’ll be back to give my old lady a scare or two. When she falls down the stairs, it’ll be I who pushed her.” 

Just as his gaze returns to the desk there’s a pull at the door. Giving it a suspicious eye he lifts his head to see if the residents are playing a prank on him, but senses no shift in the air. Dismissing the disturbance he returns his attention to the computer. No sooner does the door rattle in the lock, followed by a faint knock barely audible over the evening’s storm. Rising from his desk to see what lies on the other side, he opens the viewing box in the warped weathered beast of a door to find no cause for the racket. The Keeper closes the square but stops before latching it, cocking his head to the side at a faint something. The door rumbles again, the Keeper steps back pausing with a quizzical look layered with frustration, then from absolute stillness lashes a whooshing dismissive hand while the other unlocks the door and yanks it open. Pleased to find the vacant air before him, the door is half closed before he notices the figure in the frame.  

“What in the Devil’s ball bag are you doing here? It’s past visiting hours, come back tomorrow.” The Keeper begins to close the door when the slight figure extended a hand and said, “Wait, I’m here for the rites.” The door halts its motion hanging open a few inches from the frame, the Keeper pauses to replay what he just heard before poking his head out from behind the door, “what did you say?” A bit of life returns to the figure in the doorway, “I want to know about the rites.” A contemptuous look contorts the Keeper’s face before saying, “well come in and let’s see if you’re worthy.” 

 The Keeper applies the latch and turns to get his first full look at his visitor. The boy couldn’t have been more than fifteen, his glasses fogged his coat a burdensome sponge, the pack on his back a fishbowl. “Take that coat off, I’ll find you something warm.” The boy heeds the suggestion placing his coat on a hook on the near wall. Relieved with his arrival he let his eyes wander around the morgue lobby finding cobwebs in the rafters, a fireplace lit but presenting no warmth, a dark portrait hanging in a tired frame, of who or what is not clear, a flickering chandelier overhead. The Keeper returns with a blanket, the boy wraps himself with it and feels an instant itch.

 “Well let’s get the introductions out of the way, I’m the Keeper of this morgue, fifth generation, this here business predates this country’s manifest destiny. Now tell me what’s your business here with mine.” 

“I’m Wattle Robinson, a tenth grader at Poconos High School, I want to learn about the rites.” 

“Poconos? That’s at least a seven hour drive, you came all that way?” 

“Yes, sir, that’s why I’m here so late.” 

“Very well, since you’ve put in the effort of getting here I’ll tell you what I know about the rites. Years ago before my time they used to hold a celebration for the deceased. Usually at night, in fact a stormy night like this yields the best results, so I’ve heard. They would gather here to honor the dead. That’s about all I know, you can stay here till the morning then you must be on your way this isn’t an inn.” 

“What about the communication between the living and the dead? The ceremony? Don’t you know about that stuff? I read once that they used to…” 

“I don’t care what’ve you read, there have been more lies told of this place than there are days in a year.” 

“But it says here,” Wattle reaches into his pack and withdraws a book with a colorful array of sticky notes populating it’s pages, “that once the ceremony was performed the veil between the living and the dead vanishes.” 

The Keeper crossed his arms and let his head fall into a hand knowing it was going to be a long night. “Let me see that book.” Wattle hesitated for a moment before handing over his most prized possession. 

“Careful,” said Wattle, “the plastic cover flakes off, and the spine is close to becoming unbound.” 

The Keeper accepts it with care and mumbles under his breath, “aren’t we all.” 

“What was that?” asked Wattle, extra sensitive to the reaction of what had most concerned his life. 

“Ohh just saying what a fine book you have here.” The Keeper knew what Wattle had before he handed it over, every person who came to ask about the rites had a copy of, “Rites, Rituals, & Ceremony: Dialing the Dead by Cornish Duesberry, I bet it took some time to track down this gem?” 

“Infact,” began Wattle. 

The Keeper lifted a hand, “spare me. Did you know that this book doesn’t even cover half of what rites are about? Old Duesberry took off with his stories before the main course, so to speak.” 

A shiver ran up the small of Wattle’s back, what did he mean by main course? For the first time since he set off on his quest, suspicion nudged out curiosity for center stage as the driving force of his endeavor, enough for him to consider if what he was doing was dangerous. “So you’re saying there is more to the rites than even Duesberry wrote?” 

“Precisely,” a devilish smile consumed the Keeper’s face. “Would you like me to show you?”  

Wattle hesitates as nerves surge through his body, the culmination of years of study and obsession led him to the precipice of the mystery that so long eluded him. “Yes, I’m ready.” 

“Very well, follow me, let’s see who is in-house tonight.” 

Wattle followed the Keeper down a dim hallway, appears to expand and contract with every step. Every time Wattle glanced passed the Keeper trying to gauge the length of the passage he saw no end in sight, as though their steps provided no progress. The Keeper stops at an undesignated door, and pulls from his pocket a ring of oversized keys. With the correct key in hand the Keeper guides it toward the door and pauses before turning to Wattle.

 “Let me reassure you that behind this door is a world that leaves lasting impressions on all who enter, be warned. Do you still wish to see?” Wattle stared into the shadows created by sunken features of the Keeper’s face, his expression at once serious and comical. Wattle cleared his throat and said, “I’m ready.” A sly smile rose onto the Keeper’s face, “as you wish,” he fit the key into the lock and leaned in. 

The door opens, a rush of cool air escapes whispering welcome. Wattle follows the Keeper inside darkness fills the room, still Wattle could sense a radiating presence. The Keeper reaches into his breast pocket for a small box of matches, strikes one and places the flame in a lantern hanging next to the door, and repeats the process three more times in the corners of the room. A ring of statues develop before Wattle that encircle a series of bookshelves to comprise a ring within a ring. Wattle approaches the towering statues with cautious steps, gazing into a knight in full armor, a gargoyle perched on edge, a priestess with her palms facing out, a statesman with pocket watch in hand, a rabbi with a five pointed star around his neck, and a lion poised on it’s hind legs. Wattle traced a spiral inward to the bookcases which were off set to obscure what lay beyond. Keen for Rites, Rituals, & Ceremony: Dialing the Dead Wattle rounds the shelves examining dusty volumes, following the natural progression he takes a small step between the cases. The Keeper interrupts his progress with a firm call, “I wouldn’t do that.” 

Wattle retracts his step and turns to the Keeper and asks, “why what’s at the center?” 

The Keeper scoughs, “I’m afraid the answer to your question requires a certain transformation that neither you or I are ready to .” 

“Is that where the dead come out of?”

“Perhaps, a more accurate description would be where the dead cease to be dead.”  

Wattle felt an urge to disobey the Keeper and sneak a peek around the corner, but a growing fear kept him in his place, as though the statues would come to life and swat him away before he got too close.

 “Like a portal between the world of the living and the dead?” 

“Mhmm not quite,” said the Keeper, folding his arms. “The boundary between the two vanishes.” 

Wattle had read about this phenomena, but being in it’s presence was magnitudes beyond his experience with Duesberry. “Is the center still, uhhh active? Like you can die if you go into it?” 

A hint of a smile encroached on the Keeper’s face, “Die? certainly not, but transform most definitely, though there is only one way to find out.” 

 Wattle felt a growing tension in the room, the status appeared even larger than before. “What’s that?” 

“To perform the rites of course,” the Keeper said with a flop of a payment seeking hand. 

“I thought the rites were no longer practiced?” 

“Only when their knowledge is extinguished will practice cease. We have everything we need, a suitable night, a willing subject, should you choose to proceed.” 

The room quivered  as though Wattle was in the bowels of a living creature. Met with a choice he’d never thought he’d have to make. Wattle, surveying the room found the lanterns appeared brighter, the statues loomed with a pronounced energy coaxing a performance out of him. The books on the shelves called out to Wattle as though all their knowledge was eager to speak through him. Wattle knew if he didn’t accept this opportunity it would haunt him for the rest of his life. He took a deep breath to steady his senses then said, “yes, I want to perform the rites.”      

The Keeper unleashed a scrutinizing gaze that lingered for some time before saying, “very well, excuse me while I gather the preparations.”  

Wattle felt immediate dred watching the Keeper disappear through the door that combined with his temptation to peek through the shelves. Leaning forward on his toes to make a move, then deciding against, not wanting to disturb the authenticity of the rites. Wattle moved toward the nearest case, craning his neck to read the spines of the collection when a heavy slam rings through the chamber. Spinning to the source of the noise expecting to find the Keeper at the entry, but saw no sign of him. One by one the lanterns blow out as hush gusts circulate the room building a nest of energy. Trying to maintain a fixed direction Wattle lifts his arms searching for the door, all he can hear is the pounding of his chest echoing through the darkness. Soon enough the wall found him, he begins inching along the perimeter toward his best guess of where the Keeper departed. A loud clash rings out followed by a sharp pain in his head, feeling toward the sound of the obstruction he finds a lantern swinging on its chain. 

“I must be close.” Maneuvering around it he felt the door handle and pulled to no avail. “Keeper, are you there? I need to get out.” The silence swallows his words.

The Keeper rounds a dark passageway, the dank air of the subterranean passage muffles the light of his lantern in hand. This night the journey felt longer than it ever had, squinting his aging eyes at the stone steps navigating them with intent and purpose. The Keeper goes about his business, a procedure unchanged since before his time. The booth is hidden from the main chamber and allows a vantage of the shelves and statues as a mixing board does a recording studio. From behind the stand the Keeper positions a leather bound load of centuries old tradition; as far as he knew there was no more powerful thing in the world. 

“So you want to learn about the rites young one, well, let us begin.” With a deep breath the Keeper opens the cover that emits a shock wave fluttering the hairs in his nose. The Keeper’s finger fall directly on the familiar page and turns it open, he begins reading the preliminaries in a hushed voice. Down the page his voice strengthened in volume and force, experience had taught him to match the tempo of each passage to ensure a clean connection is established. The fateful line hung on the page, anticipation immense, sensing arrival of life ingredients.

“Of rather close gather, rickety wonder past years, be near of round now.”

A blue green electric vapor rises from the page twisting in a coil, The Keeper continues reading till the small room was filled with an emerald hue. Finishing the passage the vapor escapes through the wall into the main chamber and buried itself in the obscured center. 

The portal snaps to life with an icy crackle, spreading through the chamber center dissolving the ground. A gyre consumes the chamber threatening to snatch Wattle up in it’s vortex. Inching his way to cover on the downwind side of a statue, Wattle listens to the howl rushing through the ring of steadfast figures. Wattle begins to slip away, as an addict reaches for a fix, figuring he would never escape the energetic spiral he must succumb to its way. He let go becoming a daisy in a hurricane; he twirled and spun till his faculties were undone, unbuttoned to the core of his being. 

Fluttering around the chamber Wattle notices increased activity from the center of the bookcases. The floor grew cloudy and metallic like a pond reflecting an approaching storm. Slowly, the calm surface churned into a boiling brew, each bubble containing a few frames that looped until bursting into the chamber. Hurling about the chamber Wattle fixed his eyes on this spontaneous well, searching the thousands of ascending reels for a clue, an answer to unlock the charade before they’d evaporate into nothing. There were scenes from all of history, women returning from the woods, castle sieges of armored men, lovers wrapped in moonlight along a riverbank, a knife driven into the back of a brother, amphitheaters of laughter, children buried, arrows shot from horseback, land burned and rebuilt, wisdom passed along in a town square, a family burdened with unanswered questions, a first kiss in a flowery meadow, the last breath of a loving mother, the steal gaze of determination, a wanderer in a remote passage, a hand reaching out for another. Wattle saw them all in an instant, suspended in the vacuum twisting to maintain a gaze on the brew of human condition before him. Just then a voice came into his head, it was soft and booming at the same time and repeated, “take your place, fall into space.”  

The Keeper observed with restrained interest, an arm folded under one stroking his chin, he knew how much time the boy had left, and just an ounce of him was sad to see him go. “The voice found him, it won’t be long now,” the Keeper muttered to himself, “ he was a fine boy, a passionate pest.”  

 Lulled by the voice Wattle didn’t realize he was losing altitude, being drawn toward the frothing center of the bookcases. The energy either out of carelessness or a streak of humor dashed him into the Knight statue sending him tumbling into the awakened portal. There was no splash, no brush of beads like when entering the back room of a head shop, no change in pressure, no resistance at all, Wattle just kept falling. He fell down, down, and down some more till it didn’t feel like he was falling at all. 

The Keeper let out a sigh of relief then closed his eyes and said to the empty room “be gentle with him.” He ran a hand over the sacred phrase then returned the book to it’s resting place, then made his way back to the chamber. 

The whirlwind had dissipated though a static charge still hung in the air; a residual energy of performing the rites the Keeper knew all too well that would take an hour or two to discharge. The Keeper paced the room with lantern in hand, amused at himself for having done it again. “How do the secret rites remain a secret,” he chuckled to himself, “well let me show you.”  The Keeper stopped in his tracks, cocking his head toward the center of the chamber at a low murmur resonating between the cases. The Keeper approached with a curious eyebrow raised, it became clearer, growing in strength till it rumbled like an earthquake. “What in hell’s honey hole is happening here?” 

Wattle was busy dancing in suspended space, he tango’d past time, disco’d through dimensions, grooved over galaxies, floating as nothing he recognized everything. He fell up, he fell down, he fell sideways, he fell round, Wattle fell through to the end then sprang forth from where he began. 

The Keeper rubbed his eyes in hope of wiping clear the picture they informed, but it stayed with him beyond his belief. “How could it be? He’d gone away, no one had ever returned from the rites. Once clenched in the mouth of suspended space there was no way out.”

 Wattle stood with the statues, seeing them eye to eye, walking the circle examining each one with his newly acquired qualities. Everything spoke, molecular vibration, sunshine smiles in all directions. The statues wink and curtsey, the lantern in the Keeper’s hand has an expressive face mocking every moment with a different gesture. Wattle breaks out laughing, a supportive arm pressed against the Rabbi as he felt every fiber of his being laugh with him. 

Wattle didn’t notice, but the Keeper saw the bubbly history flash incarnate as Wattle shape shifted into every image he ingested before plunging into space. The laughter exorcizing them out of him, changing frame to frame, one second a soldier, a mother, a widow, a lover, a friend, over and over to the end. The Keeper locked up, startled by the blaze of existence before him. 

Wattle understood, he felt everything in it’s place, found peace in all places, for they were their own. Then he turned toward the Keeper, all laughter had fallen from his face, still a towering giant with a few purposeful steps he was standing over the Keeper. Looking deep into the Keeper, Wattle saw his propulsion, his eyes hungry for power, his heart a restless thief,  pawning himself at the feet of interdimensional demons. Wattle gave a small nod as though some fairy had just whispered in his ear, then said, “You will not devour me.” Wattle raised a foot and smooshed the Keeper; indifferent to the gruesome crunch, for he had it coming his whole life, Wattle was just the one to ring the gong. 

Wattle crawled through the hallway and burst through the door kool-aid style. He drove into splashed dawn in his parents car, sticking out the roof like one of those toy cars kids drive. He remembered his backpack but no longer needed it. Looking at the morning sky Wattle addressed the world, “the morgue can be a potent place.” 

The End. 

Night Needn’t Be

When it comes to counting blessings…

Night Needn’t Be 

By Tyler Lucas Mobley

Every time I see you I leave with more to say, 

I’m beginning to feel it could take a lifetime

to explain. I knew before you told me there was 

something different about you. Takes courage 

to mention aliens and simulation theory at a 

work orientation. What exactly do you mean by 

black and white when describing yourself? 

The braces were easy to overlook, setting your 

rubber bands down on a napkin to eat. Our 

schedules overlapped seldom enough for me to

stay engaged and not park myself at the frontdesk

whenever possible. You’d signed on for the graveyard, 

when it was time you vanished into the night. A blessing

in the form of mustache and pocket square moved 

me to the evenings. Those last fifteen minutes were 

the best, you’d still be rubbing your eyes awake as 

I wore the day’s work. Things started small out of necessity,

always a surprise to see you. I’d check in to see how

you were doing, the nights could get lonely. I had you

read my Cosmic Lottery piece trying to prove my interest

in aliens was genuine. Said to have experiences few 

others had, other dimensions find you interesting as well.   

“Really the nature of the soul and DNA, you don’t 

say?” We began to see more of each other then 

you disappeared for a week, there was word of

an ambulance. That night I was on my way out 

convinced I’d have to wait another to see you,

when you appeared across the lobby, I stopped

in my tracks as you continued in yours. Your

small delicate steps I deemed part of a careful

coffee walk trying not to spill is just your natural 

gait. I held the back office door then raised a brow 

at the four sugars you poured in, you weren’t messing 

around, they must’ve played a part. You returned 

refreshed and renewed and suggested I watch the show

Cosmic Disclosure, I started the free Gaia trial jumping 

at the chance to relate. Intergalactic warfare recalled 

through hypnosis, I had my doubts. When I told you 

I watched, your smile lifted us both off the ground, my

heart melted at your little jump of excitement from 

behind the front desk. I fell into your depths became

caught in your curls, summoned by the mystery of your

magic. I’d wait for you in the parking lot hearing your 

heavy sigh before your heels clicked off into the night. 

Someone left a copy of Dune at the stand, intrigued 

I stashed it in a cabinet and forgot about it. The week

of the premiere you told me it was your favorite book. 

“Hey remember that big book someone left here,” I 

asked Jaden, “do you know where it went?”  “Yeah 

it’s right here,” bending to retrieve it from where I’d

left it. Gifting it to you since you lost your copy, I made 

sure to say how I started to audio version since your

boyfriend never cracked it. The morning my feelings 

made there way into words I got the letter from human 

resources, they were forcing those of us out, our days 

were numbered. That night I wanted to show you what 

I wrote, I hadn’t anticipated fighting for your attention.

Not wanting to ask you out if front of another

co-worker, when you answered the phone I wrote my

number on a piece of paper and left it with you.

That weekend your text never came, I did the 

corn maze alone. You arrived early the following 

Monday catching me at the time clocks on

my way out. You tried texting but I gave you

the wrong number, how did I manage that? 

We exchanged and confirmed contacts, you

let me know the same fate had been made for

you, what were we to do? The weird planet in

the sky video you sent, you’d been thinking 

of me. I caught wind of a concert at the bowl,

“would you go with me?” I asked out of the blue. 

You’d have to skip work, “screw it they’re firing

us anyway.” An hour before we left you still hadn’t

received your test results. You handed a Mcdonald’s

receipt to the test site lady when she asked for your

appointment ticket. There you were walking 

toward me, it was really happening our first night 

just the two of us. Jeans and a sweatshirt as casual 

as I’d seen you. On the drive north the clouds held 

similar conditions as the video you sent where

sunlight burst through somewhere else entirely,

making our lone star appear as two.

The night was ours, deciding on the Mexican 

blanket in case the chill became too much.

I wanted to show you off to my friends, you 

wanted to stay behind. Our hands found each other’s 

under the blanket, sharing warmth under a gentle

sea fog. I said the guitar solo came on too loud you

didn’t feel so. When the headlinder came on the 

blanket came off, on our feet the stage transformed 

into spaceships ready for takeoff, a callback to our

first conversation. The night carried us away aboard

saucers dancing through a musical atmosphere, a disco

ball spun the light of all things good and present. 

You put my glasses on for one final look at the stage.  

How you held the stair rail on a cautious decent, 

knowing your clumsy tendencies, I cherished your

choice admiring what made you you. Taking every 

opportunity to pick a fuzz from your hair, wanting to

know the volume of your curls. On the drive home the

song I played for you put you to sleep. I tried another 

off the The Evil One hoping you’d understand, but you 

questioned how we are real in the night. Embraced in 

the parking structure you shy’d from my intent, but 

still texted in thanks of a goodnight. We made it to the 

corn maze, within a minute I pushed past a protruding 

stock that recoiled into your face, no way to start a date. 

I likened you to the Las Vegas shooter when you told me 

how you played GTA V, something I could’ve kept to 

myself. I pushed you off your crouch at Bank of Books

since you’d expressed a similar urge at the concert, but

thought better of it. We shared silence over lunch, my 

first question revealed my unease. Taking your mini 

Altoid I offered to replace it with one of normal size. 

After I took you under the big fig tree on Chestnut, 

you looked up to grasp it’s growth, I couldn’t take my 

eyes off you still hungry for your lips. I pulled you 

into me, if time stood still I wouldn’t have wondered 

why. You’d stop to pick up pennies like Louis Prima, 

all sunshine and ravioli. The Christmas music you 

enjoyed was your own, a filthy Frosty and jingle cock 

as season’s greetings. The story of your hip hop dance 

outbreak, the sorrow and the pity. We sat on a promenade 

planter holding each other tender watching ocean waves, 

was this a beginning or an end? In the spot of before with

my chin resting on your curls, I had to say how everything

felt right in the world. We said our goodbyes, I asked when

I’d see you again, your answer trailed off unsure of yourself. 

“Should old acquaintance be forgot?” may it all fall into place.

Let us carry on always to share the night that needn’t be,

just remember when you’re in my arms. 

P.S. Covid warden Wolf quit and went to Disneyland (trading five stars for fantasy).

Putin on a Show

Oh my favorite pair, don’t be fooled again.

Putin on a Show

By Tyler Lucas Mobley 

As heat falls on Ukraine it is easy to forget the long build up to the Russian invasion, for weeks troops amassed on the border and fighter jets streaked the skies. It would’ve been in bad taste to invade during the Olympics, the athletes have enough pressure on them. Putin waited a whole four days after the wrap of the world games to drop bombs on Ukraine; perhaps using that time to polish up his address where he laid out the thought process behind his bold action. Neo-Nazis in Ukraine was an issue raised, guess Putin and the American left have something in common after all. When Russia invades we are told its regime change, when America invades it’s to topple dictators, we’ve never had anything to do with imploding democracies. Putin’s problem is with Ukraine jumping in bed with NATO, it’s widely understood that Ukraine would’ve succumbed much sooner if not for western support, the flood of weapons and aid plays right into Putin’s hand. Ukraine was as much a democracy as it was a globalist stash house, even Biden’s son got a piece of the action. The world gets whipped up into frothin frenzy because we’re all plugged to the same source, all seeing the same images, all mobilized toward the same feelings, Facebook is even allowing death threats toward Putin, and it all appears justified. 

In the Putin Interviews by Oliver Stone, Putin reiterates how his thought process is heavily influenced by not just immediate outcomes, but by forecasting five, ten years into the future. Engaging this perspective it is easier to understand why Putin would seize Ukraine now, rather than allow the threat to come to a boil in the future, trading the short term loss for the long gain. In the meantime the world will continue to malign an entire country they don’t care to understand. Putin has too much pride in the history of his country, and is no doubt enjoying giving the finger to NATO, raising the nuclear threat as to say, “nobody try anything foolish now, I’m a madman remember.” While the threat is real, and times are tense I see nuclear readiness as part of the posture of the invasion, putting the world on notice that he meant business, and to think twice about any direct involvement. For easy as it would be to write of Putin as a 19th century dictator let us remember he waited till after the Olympics to begin dropping bombs, he may be cold and calculated, but he’s not a monster. Another boogeyman just as the CDC eased mask mandates, as a horse grows callus to its bit.   

Show Me The World

Somehow we’re all here.

Show Me The World

By Tyler Lucas Mobley

Expectation, fall into place, a falling place,

ahh how you soon learn things have

a way of going where few things go. 

Jurassic acknowledgement, life finds 

a way. Jumanji drums feet lift from earth,

bridge to all may be. 

Be found oh distance one, have your

rathers. Say you galloping sun, for I am 

the only one to wrap your cloak around

and hold me night. Trace suspension 

to n fro gages something well below,

always now, prism rhyme obeys light. 

Heavy is the point, feel the weight of

the world translated through you,

something to push against. Hold me 

down so I may fly, have the moon in

my lap looking at what always held me 

back, in the cloak of time. 

The Uncompromised Few of New Rochelle 

I met a guy from Brockton Mass. he showed me a trailer for a show called Wayne that is set in the same town. This is what it inspired in me.

The Uncompromised Few of New Rochelle 

By Tyler Lucas Mobley 

“He was supposed to be here an hour ago,” Nezbit said, turning to his friends.

“What makes you think he’s coming back?” replied Bennet. 

“Because he said he would, alright,” Nezbit returned with more force than his small body could conjure. 

The gang of teenagers at the base of the dock looked at Nez staring into the water, lost in his own reflection. 

“Poor kid, thinks he’s still better than us,” Rags muttered into a close ear. “Hey don’t sweat it Nezbit, I remember the last time my Pops said he would pick me up, now he’s doing 7 to 10 for aggravated assault.” 

The hard truth was some of his friends had envious thoughts about Rags for knowing what had happened to his father, while they were left with questions that left burning holes in them only to be forgotten with violence and drugs, but no one spoke up. Rags recognized a worry in Nezbit that he’d once had, it frightened him, he didn’t like to see it in his friend, even if it was the needy little brat Nezbit, he too deserved a father. 

Off in the distance came the rattle of a can being kicked in stride down a street.  “Ahh Christ, here come those 31st punks,” Rutherford said, alerting his crew. It was true the other neighborhoodlums had gone out looking for old troubles in familiar places. 

“Look what we have here, if it ain’t a buncha stinkin 12thers’ any of youz sisters’ get pregnant yet, I’ll be jumping all over those tax credits just you wait,” Livermore smacked. 

“Piss off Livermore, we don’t want any of your shit today,” Rutherford repiled. 

“Pardon me, did I interrupt the next thumb going up your butt?” Livermore returned.

Truth is if these kids didn’t have trouble they wouldn’t have anything at all. 

“I rectum you think you’re pretty cool huh, Livermore?” Rutherford asked. 

“Sure, not like any youz gunna tell me I’m not,” Livermore said, opening his jacket with his hands in the pockets the way a cat ruffs it’s furr. 

“Hey who all thinks Livermore has the dull side of an ill mind?” announced Raymond. 

All the hands on the dock went up in snickers. “Vote is in Liv, looks like a punch in your mug amounts to community service,” Raymond remarked. 

“I dare you to say that again,” Livermore said, toughening up. 

“Okay, what I said was Livermore has the dull side of an ill…” A brick careened off Raymond’s face before he could finish.

Fists and elbows careen off bone, the skirmish escalated into a cartoonish dust cloud of blood and bruises; it didn’t matter who started the fight, no one had anything better to do. They fought and fought until anger turned into exhaustion providing a moment of clarity as tensions settled. 

“Where did you learn that combo?” asked Rutherford, “I’ve only seen my big bro use that one on me. What was that, cross circle hook?”

Livermore stopped smacking the face of an unconscious companion to wake him, “when you’re on the receiving end it makes you want to serve it up too,” he said then loaded up for another smack which did not come, noticing a drop of blood freshly fallen on the friend’s face that hadn’t been there before, then whipped his chin with the back of his sleeve.

“That must be why you flinched a little before you threw it,” said Rutherford. “Some reverse muscle memory.” 

“Whatever, just remember how it felt when it landed, would you like a refresher?” Livermore called over his shoulder.

The unconscious boy awoke in a strained groan of alarm, “I told you I wanted lucky charms in my waffles.” 

“Ahh Christ, he’s back in junior high again, brush him with daisy and you’ll scramble his wits,” Livermore remarked. “Pinky, why you such a worthless filthy lump?” still patting his face. 

Nezbit watched from behind a stack of pallets, not wanting to sacrifice himself for the honor of peers he didn’t even like. He held no affinity for their doings, they were just the one’s around and everyone knew it was dangerous to be a loner. 

“Where’s that lil Bit?” asked Livermoore, “this day won’t be done till that lil snot has a bloody nose.” 

“Yea I heard some chirps during the royal, he’s still around,” Rutherford said, “Hey Nezzy come on out, we know you’re out there.” 

Nezbit felt his breath grow short, he wanted to disappear, teleport away to a far away place, a different scene with different problems, but nothing happened. He rattled the stack of pallets in hope the noise would be attributed to some scavenging creature that would be more entertaining to torment than he. 

“What’s the deal Nez, if you watched the fight come and get your ticket punched?” Rutherford quipped. 

“Yea what’s your Mother gunna say when you come home without any bruises? She’ll think you’ve been playing with the girls again,” Livermore teased. 

His mother had given him a talk about associating with the opposite sex, “they’ll be looking for alamoney before there’s any fruit to bear.” Nezbit stepped out from behind the stack and was met with a brick in the face. A direct hit as soon as his mug was visible made clear his position was no secret; they were toying with him. 

“That’s for being a scaredy cat,” called Rutherford, “now give Liverbutt a taste of his own medicine.” 

Picking himself off the ground, Nezbit felt as though he were walking into the middle of the Coliseum, eyes anticipating his demise. 

“Step two Nezzy, I ain’t got all day,” Livermore remarked, then turning to Rutherford, “Don’t think Imma let that slide, as soon as I’m through with lil Bit here, you got more coming,” he said shaking a fist. Rutherford waited till Livermore turned away then stuck his tongue out at him which let in a taste of blood to his mouth. 

Nezbit and Livermore squared up and prepared for battle. Nezbit could hardly breathe, nerves constricted his throat, choking what little confidence he had to come away from this alive. Livermore threw a faint teasing his out matched opponent followed by more till one punch got close enough forcing a reaction from Nezbit who returned an instinctual kick landing in Livermore’s shin. 

“Ahhhhh, what kinda shit was that,” Livermore cried, holding his leg in both hands.  

Nezbit realized this was his one shot and landed a fist right between the eyes of Livermore, drawing his hands back up to his face, Nezbit swung again to the gut, doubling him over to the ground. Nezbit turned to Rutherford with a look of relief, who shook his head in return, “you’re gunna wish you hadn’t done that.” Before the excitement could fall from Nezbit’s face his legs were swept out from under him and fell on his back, knocking the wind from him. Livermore jumped up and began dragging a weezing Nezbit by a foot toward the waterline, feeling the asphalt turn to cold mud beneath him. Livermore, embarrassed, cursed through a clenched jaw, “think you can pull that shit with me huh?” he said looking back at the Nezbit then continued with unarticulate gripes. 

“Send ‘em down the river like the baby Jesus!” called a lowly goon from the crowd. 

Livermore drew up, and both he and Nezbit looked back in the direction of the call with confused concern. “Can it Denunzio no one asked you,” Livermore shouted back. Nezbit added a “yeah,” to second to the motion, then received a firm kick to his ribs, “shut it, you’re in no place to be making requests lil Bit,” Livermore said leaning over Nezbit. Livermore reached down and picked up Nezbit his belt and jacket collar and tossed him in the shallow muck. Nezbit landed with a viscous splash, Livermore kneeled over him and repeatedly thrusting Nezbit’s face into the sludge. 

“Yeah, give it to him Liv,” came one bloodthirsty cry. 

“Get ’em with that big stick,” said another. 

Livermore looked up from the stream of bubbles coming from Nezzy’s half submerged head to consider the possibilities a stick would provide, perhaps making a flag pole which he could mount Nezbit on with his feet dangling over the water, liking the idea he surveyed for the potential weapon. However, what caught his eye was no stick, Livermore rose slowly and approached the dark mass caught in some reeds a couple meters away. Nezbit pushed himself up through the mess cold and coughing, Livermore still in reach kicked him back down once more without taking his eyes off the mysterious object. “Hey fellas, that’s no stick, it’s a corpse!” Livermore cried with surprise. 

Nezbit cleared his faculties once more, sensing the attention lift from him; he looked to Livermore standing motionless in the mud a few feet away. 

“No way, my first dead body, let me see,” said Denunzio running toward the dock. 

Rutherford grabbed Denunzio by the collar and pulled him back, “you go touchin it and they’ll pin the loss on you Dunzo.” 

Denunzio looked back with salivating dog eyes, collecting himself before calling out to Livermore, “check it’s pockets.” 

Livermore did spot a lump near the tush and carefully bent to retrieve it with practiced efficacy. He opened it and after a quick look, “no cash,” Livermore lied, “for one Mr. Franklin Barthalmule Nunenbaum, hey Nezzy isn’t that your name?” 

“Ahh Christ did he just say Nunenbaum?” Rutherford said, taking off toward the dock. 

“Nezbit Nunenbaum that’s you ain’t it?” Livermore asked without remorse. 

Nezbit understood the question, but his mind wouldn’t allow the conclusion to surface, the silt in the water settled around his feet. Rutherford wrapped an arm around Nezbit, turning him away, “go home, you were never here.” Nezbit left with squishy steps, he didn’t dare look back. 

“Well he did say his dad would be here to pick him up,” Raymound said. 

A well measured complement directed at any of them had the potential to induce adequate reflection, squelching the hunger of sorrow. Their hearts lumps of coal forever whittled down, feeding the propulsive fire on the locomotive-sized pain of their lives. Insurmountable momentum down circle tracks they’d do anything to derail.  

THE END

Eternal Resolve

The pleasant pairing of space & time. Originally titled Passion Patrol.

Eternal Resolve

By Tyler Lucas Mobley 

Pleasure running out my toes 

greed blown from thy nose 

sung in manor of mountain temple 

obscuring boundaries when able

to coax frequency with command 

returns oneself to cradling hand 

of a world all for you. 

seeing with infinity

originally titled, loose lids of wondrous visions. glimpsed 1-16-22

rewritten today.

seeing with infinity

By Tyler Lucas Mobley

At once at once 

follows an order 

beckoned to redeem 

forgone reason in

light of Spring as

never before season,

delighted upon the chance 

to integrate of a different

harmony altogether. 

If It’s Time We Must Bear

George Harrison’s Living in the Material World… comes to his son in a dream.

If It’s Time We Must Bear

By Tyler Lucas Mobley

Untool mind to spare time those steps 

never taken. Relishing difference the 

song of new eyes, a respectable space 

comfortable, not overdone. An orbital 

perspective feels the pull of a world

willing you back to cuddle up and listen.

All was a trap beyond our hitherto existence, a

collection of shapes behaving as one striding being 

with the sum of human efforts playing out in precisional 

tattoos, till accusations arise about an unacknowledged

separateness between two arms on one body driving 

the operator mad with itchy skin, deciding best march 

for Andromeda, agonizing surrender.

Arriving before we’re ready if it’s time we must bear, 

recline to find it’s not there, hatching then a chick of

eternal incubation, cute, fluffy, and unchanged. 

Surprised to notice those baby steps were always

at your feet, a breadcrumb trail for mice of men. 

Stand Up Steve

In baseball it’s called your summer family, in surfing it’s your winter family, when the ocean awakens sleeping giants. This was early in November.

Stand Up Steve  

By Tyler Lucas Mobley

Paddles up mirroring messiah,

been awhile since we caught up,

as an aging surfer, he’s apprenticing 

under a wave guru up north, one of 

the salty till senile types. “My pop up

is good for a few waves, then I’m just

blowing it. I’ll do anything to stay on a 

shortboard”, motioning his paddle at the

monstrosity of buoyancy under foot.

Being able to set that line and go, with 

this, making moch jump as though he

had cinder block feet. A crystalizing

thought, “less resistance, all response.” 

Announced in the manner of mention, 

they let the words hang for a moment

grappling with how minutia of honest

pursuits mirror life at their core. Being

in the world, a deepening of self.  

Our Own Devices

An afternoon of adventure.

Our Own Devices 

By Tyler Lucas Mobley 

Dip into nothing

skipping town, 

Hawaiian slice 

pineapple underground. 

Arms no longer arms, 

but propellers motoring 

into any desired ripple

for a more simple eternity. 

Ocean collaboration

with visual dilation, no

hermit left unshelled from 

an encompassing meld.

Every stone turned from

Bikini Bottom. 

Wooing day satisfies night, 

their love a sight for our eyes.

A light reminder for the striving, 

be back tomorrow for the same 

lesson said the golden teacher.