Tales From The Dark Continent: International Ass

South Africa is the queen mother of all brothels.

When you talk to a man with soft hands who claims to have killed an elephant, you have to wonder what reason a man with soft hands has for doing such a thing. Unlike Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes, elephants are not high on the 1st world list of threats to humanity.

My job was to portray the gentlemanly sport of big game hunting as genteel and aristocratic, which is not at all like it really is. What it is, is paying for pussy. I mean how else does a man with soft hands end up with an elephant head on his wall?

My employer wanted me to make him look important and distinguished. He wanted to make sure the world knew of his international exploits, so long as they met the first two criteria. My photographs of him have been published in prestigious hunting magazines that are read by tricks everywhere. I guess that makes me famous.

I did my job perfectly. He knew I would and this is why I got the gig, but I wasn’t happy.

My employer, who usually looked to me for council, had become deaf in both ears and was making an international ass of himself. An adolescent boy with a rifle; spending big money to kill big animals, running his mouth like a fool and fucking his mistress who was a carbon copy of his wife. I would have let all this slide, had he been nice to me, but seeing as how that was evidently not part of the plan I decided to show him what big game hunting looked like to me.

I shot his photos, the ones he wanted, and then I shot my photos, the ones I wanted him to see. For every one magazine ready portrait, I shot hundreds of gruesome images: tongues lolling from bleeding mouths, heads with lifeless eyes hanging from the back of flat bed trailers, pools of blood in the sand, ripped skin.

Tales From The Dark Continent: Smothering Silk

I was commissioned to photograph an ego maniac’s big game hunt in South Africa. It seemed like a bad idea, but it also seemed like a free trip to Africa.

What kind of idiot fool would say no to a free trip to Africa?!                                                                                                                                                           On the other hand, what kind of idiot fool would say yes?

It took 27 hours to reach our destination on the dark continent and, even though our crew rolled in at 4:00 in the morning, we were greeted at the lodge by a cheerful welcome committee. They presented us with snacks and tall glasses of a fruity potion that tasted like air freshener. I sipped at my Glade Hawaiian Breeze and thought of motel rooms with pineapple bed spreads and torn curtains.

Other workers gathered our luggage and toted it to our cabins. “Be careful walking on the lighted paths at night”, they warned us, “The light attracts insects and the insects attract frogs and the frogs attract Black Mambas, so watch where you put your feet.”

There were some other things our hosts failed to mention, like what to do about the palm sized spider poised directly over the bed. It was working a crossword puzzle and knitting a sweater while waiting for the perfect moment to repel from the ceiling. Spiders have lots of eyes so they are good at multitasking. Arachnid motives, however, are difficult to discern. This one wanted to turn my face into a cocoon, or maybe not.

“Cocoon” – a 6 letter word for Smothering Silk.

Too tired to care, I fell asleep and was not bothered by the twinkle of round lemur eyes peering through the window.

Tales From The Dark Continent: Baboons

The dark hills of South Africa are filled with baboons. They hide in trees, scanning the landscape with human eyes, barking monkey messages to their monkey brethren and smiling broadly so the sun glints off their razor sharp lion teeth. To hunt a baboon is both murderous and futile. While a human predator camps out in the bush, waiting for an unsuspecting beast to wander in front of his gun, the baboons are stripping his truck and using the parts to build a spaceship.

Troops of baboons crowd the shoulders of the highway; making obscene hand gestures and waiting for food scraps, live chickens or unwanted children to be thrown from the VW Buses rattling non-stop up and down the wrong side of the road. You never, ever see a dead baboon in the road. They don’t get hit by cars. The same cannot be said of dogs or boa constrictors but baboons understand traffic laws. A baboon always knows who has the right of way.

While it is not uncommon to see unemployable men camped in front of the general store; cooking fowl meat with a butane lighter and pissing in a Coke bottle, this is not a fate that would befall a baboon. They don’t smoke dope, grow delirious from malaria, or live in shanty towns. A baboon does not call plywood and a tarp with a house number a house, nor is it a master of exploitation. A baboon knows it’s place in the scheme of things.

A successful predator in any environment, this intelligent, albeit ugly, lion-monkey is a marvel of nature. If I were you, I wouldn’t fuck with the baboons. They know where you live.

Dead Ringer

My Mom called me this morning to ask about the dead body I found last night.

“Yes, that is what I found, right in the middle of the road.”

“How do you know he wasn’t just sleeping?”

“Really?”

“Well…”, she pressed on, “you’re not saying much, how do you know he was dead and not just passed out?”

“Because his legs were on backwards” I told her.

“Yeah, but how….”

“ He was dead”

“But…”

“Dead”

(silence)

“Why don’t you have anything more to say about it?”

here we go

“Because there’s nothing more to tell.”

At 3:00 this morning, while speeding along at 75mph, I swerved to avoid hitting what I thought was a laundry bag of clothes, but what turned out to be a clothed bag of meat, sprawled in the middle lane of I-16.

A man wearing all black, who was apparently walking down the middle of the highway, was struck and killed by a passing vehicle.  Not my vehicle.  The cops checked my car for guts and hair. They didn’t find any.

Some folks really know how to ring in the new year.

Auld Lang Syne.

Farewell stranger.

Girl Business

I’m pretty sure a mule kicked me in the back while I was sleeping. I had designs on today and they did not include hoof prints or unleashing the viscous mega-bitch within. My plan was to meet Dean at a seedy and undisclosed location for a little quality time, e.g, uncensored conversation and a roll in the hay, while pretending to be “at work.” My work is complicated and, you know, I have needs.

In the past, I rarely gave much thought to this kind of unplanned interruption. I was on the pill for 20 years, having devised an impressively ingenious plan for convincing my mom to let me start taking them at the age of 14. My gears turned like clockwork and life was good until one day, two years ago, when my hair started falling out. By the handful, by the brush-full, by the drain-full and by the trash-can-full; it wasn’t funny. In a blind panic, I rounded up all the prescription drugs cluttering my bathroom sink and banished them to the trash. While continuing to shed like a cancer patient, leaving a sad trail of hair everywhere I went, I decided that a copper IUD would be the best solution to maintain my lifestyle without the risk of coming home with condoms in my briefcase. Ten years of no-brainer birth control; for a $1000 it seemed like a steal. Babies, after all, cost way more than that.

The doctor warned me that some things would change. “Most women complain of heavier periods and more severe cramping” she told me. “Good, fine, whatever”, I said, “When can you get me in?”

I honestly had no idea that she was being serious or that I could undergo such a freakish transformation without ending up in the hospital. What used to be a minor, two day annoyance has now become a week long blood bath that descends on my lady parts like a chapter from the Old Testament. It comes and goes with the ferocity of a biblical plague, showing no regard whatsoever for silly little things like my plans. I never used to worry about rescheduling my shenanigans but now I would surely leave any motel room looking like a crime scene and I certainly wouldn’t want to go swimming in shark infested waters.

Gone are the days of being carefree, here now are the days of living in constant fear of a mortifying “incident”, a tampon failure, an unexpected disaster; the kind of thing I used to fret about in middle school. I drove to Boulder a couple months ago and 7 hours into the trip, while inching along through Denver during rush hour traffic, I began to suspect that trouble might be brewing. Two hours later, when I finally made it to the Days Inn, I practically fell out of my car and, to my horror, realized I was sitting in a saucer sized red puddle. I had driven nearly 500 miles, my back was killing me, I was dizzy and hungry and now I had to try to speak coherent English to a hotel desk clerk with what was sure to be a matching stain on the back of my pants. I was tying a jacket around my waist and Carl was like “ummmm”, I cut him off in mid-mumble, “You say a word about this to anyone and you’ll be hitchhiking home!” The desk clerk was rambling on about the pool and continental breakfast while little birds tweeted around my head. As the world started to black out, I snatched the key from his hand, staggered to the elevator and collapsed on the floor of my room. This is my life now; wearing bloody clothes in public and complaining to my friends who look at me like I’m embarrassing them. On the upside, my hair grew back and has now returned to it’s former unkempt glory.

When I first told Dean about the IUD, I said “Don’t worry, the brochure says you shouldn’t even notice it.” “I bet I can dislodge that fucking thing”, was his reply. Turns out he was almost right. While nothing has officially been “dislodged”, he routinely complains of being jabbed. I suppose I should feel a degree of empathy for his ordeal but, being a bit of a sadist, it really turns me on so I order him to fuck me harder. He’s a big boy, he can take it.

The Rose

A stranger walked into the woods and away from his life. He had given up on the world of the living. He walked with an empty heart, deeper and deeper into the forest, paying no attention to any compass; there was no reason to go back the way he had come. He walked until the sounds of the city fell away; until the sun faded and the moon shone with a fierce white light. Wolves howled and night birds screeched. The sounds of water could be heard, madness descended on the land and into the stranger’s mind. He found a place to sit and wait for the forces of nature to take him to another plane.

He sat on the damp ground with the tendrils of a vining weed curling around his boots.  Footsteps of nocturnal predators surrounded him and bats flew silently overhead. He sat and waited, knowing that the claws and teeth of a hungry beast would be upon him soon enough. A tri-colored snake sat coiled on a branch above his head. He beckoned to it with his broken thoughts. A lightening fast strike from the serpent would be followed by an eternity of peace. He waited.

The stranger waited for death to find to him but on this night he would not be found. He laid down and did not object when spiders crawled onto his face. Sleep came over him and when the first rays of morning sun touched his eyes he was startled by the presence of a tiny rose. An unlikely plant to be growing there, it was barely alive from being choked by the vines but, even so, had managed to send up one tiny bloom that glowed red in the sunlight.

The stranger stared at the tiny flower, his face reflected in a single dew drop clinging to it’s petals. He sat up and cleared away the vines so that the little plant could get more light and air. It rained often in the forest and all green things grew very rapidly, especially the vining weeds. By the time the sun was setting in the west, the tiny rose had become more robust and vines were once again curled around it’s base.

The next morning, and for countless mornings, the stranger awoke on the ground next to the rose. He would tear the vines away to give it room to grow. With the help of the stranger, the rose flourished; turning it’s velvet blossoms towards the warm rays of sun.

The stranger no longer waited for death to find him and he became intent on serving the rose. Though it never thanked him, the stranger desired only to sleep under the stars looking forward to watching the rose unfold in the morning light.

The rose did only as it’s nature intended it to do. It fed on the sun and the rain; growing stalks of deep green leaves and razor sharp thorns, topped by silky red flowers. The rose never knew the perilous nature of it’s existence nor did it give any thought to the assistance that made it’s life possible. It did not feel for other living things, it knew only warmth and growth, it did what roses do.

Seasons passed and the stranger grew old. But even in the autumn of his life, with gnarled hands and bent knees, he fought the strangling vines; tearing them from the ground so that the rose may live.

One morning the sun burst over the horizon, illuminating the rose and filling all the dew drops with rainbows of refracted light. The forest shone like a cathedral but the stranger did not stir. Light fell on his face but his eyes did not open. His chest did not rise and fall. He did not wake from his slumber and clear away the vines.

As the sun moved across the sky, the vining weeds wrapped their tendrils around anything they could reach. By noon the stranger’s face was obscured and his arms bound securely to the ground. Carnivorous insects marched to him in straight lines. The rose continued to flourish and bloom even as the vines began to curl around it’s thorny stalks. It did not know to be afraid or to mourn for what had been lost to it. It knew only to grow in the sunlight and so it carried on. By the following day the strangling vines had wrapped themselves through every stalk of the beautiful bush yet the rose felt no sadness. The great stalks began to wither, leaves turning brown and perfect red flowers falling to the ground as the vines choked the life from the rose.

The rose did not grow angry at it’s fate. It simply was and then it was not. It did what roses do; returning to the forest floor with all the living things that had gone before.

Pactiser Avec Le Diable

Look it up if you don’t know what it means. I would also like to point out that French is the language of skunks. No joke, it really is. I once knew a skunk and, while many people mistook it for a kitten, a brief interaction, and a translator with a keen nose, is all that was required to pick up on a refined sensibility and impeccable manners.

Hello Tribe.

I thought I would dish up something nice, something to get you inspired to go bleed some ink; to splash your thoughts across a page that, in an unnamed time frame, will be retrieved from a landfill and cataloged as evidence of our great demise.

Is it working?

I don’t write in notebooks because I live with people who can read! Think about that.

The truth is; I don’t have a method, I don’t write a certain number of words per day and I certainly don’t write them on paper. I did, however, take English in high school, so there’s that at least.

I type with three fingers and, whatever gibber jabber comes out, it doesn’t come from me. I consult the tarot, commune with the dead and channel ideas from other dimensions.

I once recounted the details of a horrific murder to which there were no witnesses. I knew the victim and, after her ghost scared the shit out of me in the middle of the night, I spent three days asking her what she wanted me to say. At the end of the 3rd day she started talking and I tapped out 3471 words on the screen of my iPhone while laying in bed. You can read that story here if you like.

I am of the opinion that practice makes proficiency but it doesn’t make art. Genius can be facilitated but not taught. Don’t take my word for it. I’m just a smart ass with a sinister gift, after all. Try it for yourself. Forget all that brain-space wasting shit that you know and let a dragonfly alight on your finger.