The Secret Side (short story by me)


The third person is how I usually write. Call it a training session. I dig this story and I hope you do too<3

The Secret Side by R.E. Bearlee

::4:38 AM::

Paul Jones opened his eyes and in an instant he was pulled back to full reality. The night was still the same night he left when he slipped into slumberland. The shadows were the same but his body position was not. As he sat up and looked at the clock he wondered if he dreamed anything. He was grateful that at least some time had passed. In the darkness he filled his lungs with air and sunk back under the covers. He held the lungful in as he drew the sheets over him. In the haze of the almost sleep he felt like he was layered in darkness. He felt like a mummy; an out of place creature. He lay perfectly still with his legs straight and together. His feet pointing toward the ceiling, they were two little hilltops side by side among the waves of fabric.

He did not get out of his bed; deciding that it would set him back on his march to restoration.

::11:21 AM::
Paul felt the tug in his mind, the gentle suggestion that whispered you could get up now ya know. in his own voice but so much softer.

A dreamless sleep. One remembers brief moments of being awake, for Paul it was brief moments of re-adjusting in the dark with red numbers in the background. Paul sighed or gasped depended on what the red numbers said. The sound of a persistent fall breeze ruffling trees usually lured Paul back into sleep. The winter wind howling through the freezing, the rattling of windows it could causethis too could lure him back. Now however there was no going back to the blissful nothing that was a dreamless sleep. Now he had all the somethings of the day to dance around and he felt he must wind himself up. As Paul slowly stirred and ran his hand through his hair he reminded himself that today was all his. Pauls eyes slowly moved like great wooden gates as he scanned his room. The morning light cast a soft glow on the sack of dirty clothes in the corner and cast a kind light on the stack of quarter read through books on the dresser. Paul had responded to the tug, the mental cue but still he was not up yet. He let his head drop back on the pillow and closed his eyes, determined not to hold on to any thoughts flowing through his head for just a little while.

::11:31 AM::
Paul stumbled a few feet into the bathroom and the silence upstairs jarred him awake just a bit more. His sister must be gone and his father was either downstairs or gone too. The tan bathroom floor tiles were cold as Paul strode across them with bare feet. Paul stared at himself in the mirror and felt vain as Nero. If you asked him to describe himself hed say:
Ive got that olive toned skin and a big nose. My eyes are green and my hair is black. Im not fat and Im not short. My grandmother always told me I looked like Clark Gable.

Which would be pretty spot on. His face was slender and his nose very ethnic. Angular, sharp and beautiful. He had the languid slender frame that screamed I do not play sports. His hair was wavy. It was a black curtain that stopped at his eyebrows and where his ears ended. The cream curtain slid up to reveal two green irises surrounded by the redness of an uneven sleep

As Paul bent over the bathroom sink brushing his teeth he thought of maximizing his free day. He thought of squeezing enjoyment out of the day he wasnt reporting to the place of employment. As Paul spat he looked up at himself in the relatively clean mirror and wished all his days were free. They were but why didnt it feel like it?

::12:05 PM::
Paul slithered down the steps blinking and scratching as he smelled his mothers fresh coffee. He heard the distant chatter of a television. He took slow steps into the kitchen wondering what mood his maternal unit was in.

Good morning. The voice he heard was pleasant and alert. His mother was on the couch with her mug and robe that had cute cows all over it. Paul thought to get a glass of milk while he answered his mother.

Good morning! He tried to replicate her enthusiasm but his voice came out husky and still asleep.

Mrs. Edith Jones didnt ask her son if he was hungry because she knew he never had an appetite in the early morning. She continued sipping coffee with her long straight hair tied behind her. The expression on her moon face was one of quiet anticipation as she watched her show. A few pictures of venerated relatives were the only ornaments on the white walls. No pictures of the saints because the Jones family was lazily Protestant. No silly sayings because Mrs. Jones thought of things like that as clutter. The kitchen floor had been swept and the dishes done the night before.

The television in the living room broadcasted a nonfiction murder drama; just the kind Mrs. Edith Jones liked to watch. The kind that were 30 minutes or an hour with mug shots and re-enactments. With chilling background synthesizers and that zoom in on a still picture documentary style shot. Paul sat down with his bowl of Captain Crunch. Mrs. Edith Jones sat on the couch while Paul sat at the kitchen table behind her munching away.

Where did we go wrong? Mrs. Jones said without looking behind her.

With what? Paul liked to drag out his own torture, handling it like a status quo diplomat in between bites of sweet nothing.

Paul swallowed with closed eyes as the television yammered on about how the police found the body.

Paul a lot of your classmates have graduated and have good jobs now. They are successful. Dont you want to be successful?

Conversations like these used to end up in passive aggressive snark fests. As Paul chewed he was grateful he had grown up somewhat. As the camera held on the face of a retired officer describing the condition of the body Paul thought of the most appropriate response for his mother.

I need to cultivate successful habits. Success is a result of having integrity, regular practice and finishing things you start. Thats why I havent graduated yet, I didnt have successful habits before.

Paul spoke with a blank face and his words were flat through his monotone. The moment he finished he gathered a heaping spoonful of crunchberries. He was also trying to hold back the wave of sadness washing over him.

Well what youre saying sounds really good but it is just talk. Youve wasted our time and my money. Your cousin Susan is 3 years younger than you and shes about to start medical school. How do you think that makes me feel?

Paul cleared his throat as he watched the alleged killer squirm in the interrogation room. All the muscles in his body felt dormant and heavy. He thought about how silly he could be with the conversation he was having. He thought about how indignant and snotty he could have been at this moment; how he used to be at moments like these. He knew he had already decided to be nothing as he silently tipped his bowl back to drink the delicious remaining milk from his cereal.

We shouldnt measure ourselves by other people. He stated with dull eyes as he set his bowl back down and smacked his lips.

Then how should we measure ourselves son?

Paul didnt say anything, he just got up with his empty bowl and spoon and walked over to the sink. He hoped his mothers loaded question would wither away unanswered.

We just wanted so much for you Paul. We had high hopes for your success. Mrs. Jones voice was subdued and resigned. It carried the weight of words said so often ones voices was lowered along with the speakers spirits. Paul stood at the sink trying to re-direct his train of thought. He didnt know what feelings were appropriate when his mother spoke of him as if he were finished. The anger he felt was dull and cold above his stomach when his mother spoke to him as if he were washed up. He was past being angry with the hidden tone of death. He only felt a distanced sorrow for something vague he knew was missing in so many people.

Im not dead. He wanted to holler at her. As Paul stared at the white kitchen walls he missed the fruit basket wallpaper he grew up seeing. As the television rambled on about a pattern of prior convictions Paul wondered what Lucy was doing at the moment. He wondered how you could be washed up before you even really started.

Dont you want your father and I to be proud of you?

Paul winced as he sat back down in time to see the grainy overhead camera footage of a stammering interrogation room confession. Paul felt like a criminal that couldnt recall his crimes. He was in the dimly lit room of his mind; with men in moustaches and ties pointing at pictures that he couldnt make anything out of. Paul then felt foolish for relating himself to actual criminals.

I think you could be proud of me for being a decent person. Im not a saint but I try to do right by people. The words came out like how he felt: drained. Soggy conversation leftovers. He wondered if no one saw his merits did they still exist? He knew they did but why did it feel like a lie?

Ill see you later mom. Im going to spend time with my friend. Paul hated all the things he left unsaid during these conversations. He had come to learn with certainty that silence hurt everyone the least.

Are they doing something with their lives? Are they headed in positive directions? She asked as Paul walked toward the garage.

No one is positive all the time Ma. The garage door groaned open and Paul stepped into the weak sunshine. He fumbled for his keys confused about the vague thing he felt missing inside. Can you miss something you never had? He attempted to think about something else and ended up thinking about the girl he liked as he opened his car door. He frowned as he looked inside because there were candy wrappers and compact discs everywhere. He smiled a second later as he thought of friends of his that left food and other gross shit in their cars. Contentment through comparison! The old Im not as bad as ____ that satisfied so many losers for the entire history of mankind.

I gotta clean this up before she gets in. Paul muttered to no one as the sun half assed his job.

::3:03 PM::
Its likeIm full of life you knowand I want someone to have the same vibe as me I guess. Yeah thats it. I have a full throttle vibe-

But you usually go in half cocked. Paul felt a tinge of rudeness on his part, it felt similar to the cool breeze blowing through them on this cloudy day. The two of them sat on metal bleachers watching the clouds darken and swirl. Paul and Lucy. She almost ignored what Paul said.

Lucy had a ton of curly red hair that she usually straightened before going out. At will it could have been a veil or a halo. Her eyes were a pale green and she always looked like she had a delightful secret just behind her smirk. She always looked like she wouldnt tell you no matter how much you asked, smiling all the way through.

No I dont! I can read people. Like I was saying thoughyou have a different vibe.

Lucy reached out and put her slack hand on Pauls knee. Paul felt like she only did this when she had something she thought the listener would find unpleasant.

I like it dont get me wrong. I feel like you calm me down. I just want something else too.I need passion!

As Lucys hand slid away peacefully Paul remembered he had never seen her perform these moves on anyone else. He felt special, in an Im honored you picked me to be your sucker sort of way. Like she were treating him as if he were fragile. He carefully held in his grimace as a kid got hit in the shoulder by a softball across the field.

You cant see my passion? Paul was inclined to say more but he decided not to make a deal out of it.

I dont doubt your passion for all that stuff you do. But listen to me

Lucy paused to stroke the side of Pauls fade. She felt the stubble of an irregular shaver and she felt the warmth of a person that cared for her beneath it. Pauls heart fluttered and his thoughts stuttered but his quietly expectant eyes never left Lucys calm ones. Her face looked as if she were going the extra mile of tenderness. As if she were choosing the words that only pricked a personality instead of stabbing it. Paul could appreciate but he took slight offense. He was not a child, a madman or a dull headed coward. As Lucy pulled her hand away and looked at the sky Paul wanted to tell her that she could never hurt him with the truth. He decided to save the proclamation for another time.

We are very different. I enjoy it but if we rush this between us the whole thing will fall apart very quickly. Im not saying I dont like you. Im saying those feelings dont develop as quickly for me as they do for you. Give it time you bum!

Laughter exploded from Paul. Genuine head tilting squinty eyed laughter. It did not last long but Lucy laughed at Paul laughing. A kid playing softball turned to look at them and missed catching the ball that would have outed the player whizzing past the base he was supposed to protect. His teammate scowled at him but the kid wasnt looking in that direction.

I understand! Paul exclaimed with a giant grin. As he nodded with the nodding Lucy he thought about how she really was too beautiful.

Im thirsty. Lets get out of here. She stood up and fixed her plaid skirt.

We should get something to eat. Paul stood up and stretched his arms. An involuntary yawn harmonized with metal thumps.

Im not trying to spend money. She shot him a phony fierce glare and stepped off the stairs unto the grass. Her arms swayed with her hips, of course Paul noticed.

Who said anything about spending money? Im going to whip us up some rice and broccoli. Paul sprang off the bleachers to catch up.

No chicken with it? Seems like chicken would be the perfect addition. She turned and looked back at him while she walked. Paul couldnt completely read the look she was giving him but the smile was enough.

You dont like meat!

But you do! She laughed again. Pauls heart fluttered again.

Doesnt mean I want to eat it all the time.

::4:45 pm::
The Well I guess Id better be going now from Lucy triggered the throat clearing and the dishes being placed in the sink from Paul. As he washed his hands Lucy picked out her jacket from the closet and put it on without removing the hanger. The hug on the porch was polite but hurried; well meaning but restrained. There were no neighbors milling about on the street or the street across. The clouds seemed thinner than before.

I had fun today.with you. Paul didnt mean for it to sound funny but he smiled when Lucy chuckled. The chuckle was faked.

I had fun too. Lucys phone beeped once somewhere in her giant purse as she spoke. As she reached into her multi-colored bag Paul cut things short.

Have a good day! Ill call next week. Or in a few days. Lucy mumbled something in agreement as she strode down steps and walked toward her car, hips still swerving and eyes still in her purse.

Paul turned and opened the door, his mind beginning to focus on the mindless chores ahead of him. He was wondering whether to clean the bathroom upstairs first or sweep the kitchen when Lucy stopped suddenly and turned.

Bye! She shouted, smiling big and blowing a kiss. The hand that blew the kiss transformed into a hand that waved goodbye. The other hand held a phone that was rising to her ear.

Paul turned and waved from inside the house. As he closed his front door he heard the door open to Lucys seasoned sedan.

Yeah? Lucy tossed her purse somewhere in the empty passenger region as she sat. She looked at her reflection in the rear view mirror. Then she checked on her teeth (no food in between) and her hair (still in place). While she did this a voice booped in her ear in fast flat tones.

Im just leaving Pauls house. Yeah that weird guy. The car started without any trouble. Lucy swept a bit of hair behind her ear as her friend complained about something.

Hey dont be a bitch. Hes a loser but hes not an asshole. Its obvious how lonely he is and I like to keep him company. Hes a nice guy ok you havent met him. Lucys friend hasnt met Paul but she remembered all the things Lucy said about him. A plush cat smiled eternally in the back window against thick grey clouds.

Oh, will Raul be there? Really thats what he said? Lucy smiled big as she put her car into reverse. Inside the house Paul heard Lucy drive away and sneezed while washing dishes. Now that she was gone Paul anticipated his upcoming nerd spree with a silent glee. Hey that rhymes.

::5:21 PM::
Pauls eyes scanned the shelves of new releases. There was the usual parade of inappropriately costumed female heroes. There were books that had the urban gun toting hardass; the trench coat seemed optional for the archetype these days but the cover lettering was consistently gritty. He glared at the million X-Men issues and the countless Wolverine rags while yawning internally.

Yeah Wolverines cool and allbut Marvel has halfway played him out. Too much attention I figure. He has too many books and why did they have him join the Avengers?!

The voice Paul heard behind him was low and familiar. Paul turned around and faced a lanky young man with dreadlocks in his face. He was the kind of guy that you havent seen in too long. He was the kind of guy one heard so little from it was assumed the friendship/relationship/partnership/coven was polite, shallow and over. It was Reginald Eric Brown, II and for him it was never over.

You should say hi or something first I didnt know you were behind me. Paul was annoyed with the idea that anyone could sneak up on him like that. He turned back around and continued looking at covers of lesser-known, generally more interesting alternative comic books.

Hello Paul! It is I your pal Reginald. Reg chuckled as he reached out a brown hand to pick up an issue about maladjusted young adults with little guidance concerning powers they cant control. In case the reader was wondering Reginald Brown (no. 2) has ancestors that came from somewhere in Africa. He liked to think he has ancestors from other places too. He was a genuine chocolate face. He was wearing khaki pants and an ugly stripped sweater.

Reg grimaced at the cover of some Punisher issue bored with the naked aggression, trench coats and guns. Why couldnt the Punisher be depicted napping peacefully for once? What about a cover with Frank Castle feeding a litter of kittens?

Do you read Young Liars anymore? They slowly strode the aisle not looking at each other only staring at the nerd fodder. At the counter 25 feet away a customer was arguing about how he should get more money for his action figure because it was in mint condition. His voice had a stereotypically nasal quality to it.

No I stopped after it got too crazy. Then broke down a couple months later and got the last few issues. I liked how it was a one shot deal. Reg frowned as he answered. I can dig people losing their memory and having fake memories instead. I can deal with secret alien invasions. I cant deal with someone having their head chopped off and showing up next issue as if nothing happened. And with no explanation either?! What the fuck. I cant support that.

They continued talking about comic books and briefly about video games as they strode the earth toned carpet of the comic book store. From floor to ceiling there was geeky shit everywhere. Action figures older than half the customers were still sealed in their packages. They were displayed out of reach but then again so was most of the stuff in the store because there was simply too much of it. You dont care about this part of the story.


::5:46 PM::
Reg held the door open for Paul and as they both stepped out of the dim fragrant nerd stronghold and back into the cloudy grey skies of their particular urban autumn. The door creaked and clanged shut as Reginald the younger fumbled in his pocket for his Malboros.

?I can?t believe I used to smoke Camels.? Reg said with his eyes turned toward the concrete.

?I can?t believe you haven?t quit smoking yet. Can I get one of those from you?? Reg wordlessly handed him a cigarette and passed the lighter after lighting his own.

?Paul take a walk with me. Just around the block. It?s the fee I charge for bumming death sticks.?

?Corellian death sticks? What you got some?? They both snickered at the Star Wars reference. Fucking nerds. Paul noticed that the clouds had gotten thicker and darker in the few hours since he had really looked last.

?Let?s put our stuff in the car first.? Reg said, as if something tragic was likely to happen to new comic books during the brief stroll. If you asked him he?d say it was just because he didn?t want to carry them. Paul thought about Lucy as the car door shut. Her saw her annoyed expression in his mind for a brief flash and wondered what she was doing at that exact moment. He scolded himself internally and instead thought about the nicotine in his brain. They began walking down the sidewalk puffing on hell fume.

?I would like to quit eventually. I can feel the damage this stuff is doing already. But hey?.that?s what they all say.? Reg muttered as he took a short drag and exhaled it immediately. In someone?s house near them a toddler was crying with a real enthusiasm.

Paul got to the point, inspired by the neatly mowed lawns surrounding him.

?1 in 4 smokers get some kind of smoking related illness! Odds are you?ll die of something else before the cigarettes catch up to you. Eitherway you?re going to die anyway.?

Paul took a long drag from his free cigarette and held the smoke in his mouth for a few seconds. Then he let it roll around in the long tunnel in his chest. He could certainly feel a weight sliding off of his body. Maybe just his head.

?Stop it. Just because we?re going to die anyway doesn?t mean it?s a good idea to gallop toward the grave. I used to think like you about this I was stupid-?

?Most of us gallop in some kinda way. The best part of life is risking it!? Paul flicked ash on the concrete and smiled smug and crooked.

?The me now has his priorities straight more often than not. But not always lucifer knows.? Reginald thought it was clever to replace ?God? with some form of ?the adversary? when he said those meaningless phrases, those conversation toppings that needlessly involved the infinite father. He thought of it as his way of keeping a low profile. Reginald has been an atheist for years. He pussies out and turns agnostic when things are going miraculously well.

Both of them were talking too loudly; a female senior citizen shuffling toward her mailbox glared at them from across the street. She had her mind on the property values.

?We?ve got a lot of life left Reg. You and I. Who knows what wonders we shall behold!? Paul smiled as he took a short drag and held in the smoke.

?You?re assuming a lot. Who knows what regrets we?ll accumulate as the years pile up. Who knows how many fun get togethers we?ll miss because we?ll be at work.? Reg grumbled as he exhaled through his nose. A fat man getting his mail waved to them as Paul and Reg walked. They waved back cause they are nice and suburban too.

?I miss knowing for sure that someone I cared about cared about me.? Paul stated with an uncommon gravity. This seemed jarring to Reginald because he blinked in confusion one instant, then sighed the next.

?You never know for sure idiot. We can?t crawl into each other?s heads yet. I miss Ashley.? Reg let his finished cigarette slip off of his fingers and didn?t look to see where it fell. Paul noticed that his chocolate friend suddenly looked sad. Reginald looked sad because this Ashley was one of the good ones that he had dragged into his hell.

?Ashley? Hrm?the girl from the Upper Peninsula?!? Paul made sure to toss his cigarette butt into the street and he tried not to have such a mocking tone of voice.

?Yes. Ashley Chromsage from Calumet Michigan. The one I must apologize to. Keep referring to her in that tone and I?ll kick your ass up and down the front of this elementary school.? The smile Reg had on returned as Paul laughed. Genuine laughter.

?Lucy?s a good girl.? Paul stated it like he had accomplished something. As the two rounded a corner they realized they were on their way back to their cars.

?I?ll be the judge of that, your perception?s fucked up. Are you sure the whore isn?t just toying with you??

?Speak of her like that again and I?ll waterboard you on your birthday.? Paul had a stern face but he wasn?t serious and his friend knew it.

?My birthday is in March you?ll forget by then.?

?Keep fucking around like this Reg. You?ll end up with a heart of stone.? Paul was looking over Reg?s head to the kid on a bike across the street.

?Don?t worry comrade. I have a heart of ice, not of stone. It melts occasionally but it always re-freezes. Wanna know why?? The kid on the bike was talking to himself, immersed in his imagination as his metallic rocket exploring the rings of Saturn. Paul and Reg felt more than a little bit of jealously simultaneously but neither mentioned it to the other.

?I wanna know why you called me comrade.? Said Paul but Reg ignored him.

?Because it is so cold in the D.?

?Shut up Reginald.?

Reg was always so late with certain things. After all that internet video had been out for over a year. Both of them knew the walk was over when they re-approached the comic shop parking lot. They watched a female exit the shop; what a rare sight! After the metal clang of the door Reg broke the brief silence.

?You don?t understand. She was there with me when I really needed someone. I climbed into her bed when I was hanging on by a thread. Hey that rhymes.? All the color had evaporated from Reginald?s voice and he was left with a low deadpan as he watched Paul get into his car.

Do you think she still thinks about you?? Paul asked trying not to sound condescending. Reginald would have ignored it anyway.

?I don?t know. Probably not. I?ve been looking for her?I never changed my cell phone number just so maybe one day she?d call?and she hasn?t called. She never had a cell phone and I never knew her address in the U. P. I saw it once on a package?? Reg seemed to get farther away by the second as he stared into grey skies with a face of stone.

?You don?t know how much I?ve?.she probably thought I was a lying asshole. I was just a fool. I want to find her so I can see how real it was. I want her to see how much I?ve changed?? Reg was adrift at this point and it made Paul feel uncomfortable.

?Hey man?I?ve gotta go.? Paul knew he sounded phony as he started his car. He didn?t know how to deal with the awkward pity he had for his friend. Reg snapped to the present and turned his eyes back toward Paul through the driver?s side window. The electricity behind his eyes had returned.

?Have a good day.? He shouted with a faked zest. Paul reversed out of his space and turned back to look. Reg was still standing there. He weakly waved goodbye as Paul drove away leaving Reginald to sail the dark ocean of regret; where the grey skies and black water went on forevermore. At least it felt like forever.

::8:50 PM::
Paul stared at the computer screen, his eyes scanning the virtual pages of text he had written years earlier. His face was blank in concentration as he reached to his left to turn off the shuffling music player. The disco was distracting him as he sat in his dark bedroom. As he shifted in the metal folding chair he heard the groans in his mind as he read his previous work. An inappropriate comma here, a skipped over word there and a sentence narrated in the wrong tense. Stiff dialogue with shitty descriptions about unnecessary background objects. An entire paragraph that flowed like drying cement and misspelt (haha) words. Paul was here editing his long story so he should be glad he caught the errors; but as usual he was overanalyzing. He had an intense urge to shut off his computer and ease into bed. He had to remind himself that those actions counted as abandoning one?s post. Fleeing the scene of an accident one caused. Being a pussy.

As Paul lightly sighed and clicked he did not want to run away. The compulsion to polish this turd would never go away until it was done. Hell, the word processing program held his damn hand the whole time anyway.

Pen set the pen down and wondered what was worse, her not wanting him and trying to be polite about it or her just not knowing what she wanted because her mind changed so often. As he closed his notebook and slid it back under his bed he was thankful she could inspire him. Paul hopped out of his metal folding chair to close the door to his room. The lights went out with a short click and for Paul everything seemed to go quieter in an instant. Paul stared at his Sesame Street comforter on top of a decently made bed and felt boring. As he slid back under his warm covers he lamented internally over how rarely he got the inspiration that came from satisfaction and how frequently the inspiration born of confusion swirled through his mind.

?I don?t want a creative fueled by feeling foolish.?

He said to no one as he stared at the ceiling. He thought to write down what he had said but shook it off deciding it wasn?t worth the effort. This feeling never left it seemed infinite; there was always tomorrow for those kinds of things. At least he had work tomorrow.

::2:21 AM::
As he sighed and pulled the shirt off his body his mind clarified; he wasn?t a bore to himself (most of the time) but he could understand how others could call him boring. As the springs of his mattress creaked Paul wondered how long it would take before he really fell asleep. Then he questioned about worrying over falling asleep making him less likely to fall asleep. As he turned his head just in time to watch the digital numbers flash a red ?2:22? thoughts shifted back to the deep black waters of skewed self examination. He hadn?t yet pulled the sheets over himself as he stared at the ceiling, counting his failures written in ink only he could see. Paul always had to remind himself that all he could do now was focus on the present and plan for the future. As he repeated the truism soundlessly he felt unready for the business of living. He smiled again as he pulled the familiar comforter and cozy grey sheets underneath it close to him. He smiled because in his heart he knew so many others had to re-affirm the old truism when they were alone in the dark. He felt less alone in misery and for now it felt like something.

But he was alone with himself. The monologue between his ears and behind his face no one could eavesdrop in and the same was true of everyone. As Paul turned his head to look at the still pen and closed notebook he wondered why he had such a desire for a closeness he could never achieve. As his gaze rolled around the room to a guitar case propped against the wall he wondered how he fell so hard for women who so didn?t give a fuck about him.

?I go for the wrong ones.?

The sound of his own voice was a slight surprise, in the 4 hours or so since he had last used it he had briefly believed it sounded better.

How did he go for the wrong ones? Was something destructive about his taste? Did he subconsciously seek challenge? What could he do to fix his eyes and heart? His heart that loved ice fishing for romance. His eyes transfixed on gypsies and witches.

::3:01 AM::
As Paul was strangled by kiddie insomnia he couldn?t think of anything he pretended to be. Anything except pretending to be happy. Paul was fine with it for now because he knew he was not alone. He wondered how many years would go by before all the nothing became too much. He wondered how people dealt with it on an individual basis, intoxicants not counting.

Paul studied the way the blinds cut shadows in the dim light with his head slightly turned and blank. He lay in bed shirtless with his outstretched arms palms up and slack. The shirtless in bed thing was a recent trend within in the last couple years. He stared at the urban zebra stripes with his body above the covers. He wondered how he could make such big deals out of such small things. He thought of going to work the next day. He successfully resisted the urge to look at the clock and count the hours.

::3:57 AM::
Paul lay in his bed under warm childhood covers and let his mind freely imagine. In everyday life his impulse to think of wild situations was always something to be leashed. Something that went places he did not want to go. A runaway imagination that eventually stopped at cruel reminders. Paul did not wish to be someone with his head in space. Paul did not want to be someone that planned into thin air only to horrify himself later at all the inactivity. This time he let a train of thought float off the tracks gracefully and quietly. As it sailed above unreal barns and polka dotted cows Paul imagined a big party to throw in a ballroom. He thought of regal neglected ballrooms deep downtown with cobwebs in the chandeliers. Paul wanted to dust off all of it and see the sparkle. Paul wanted to gather a team and put safety shit on and fiercely beautify. As the train passed withered cornfields below Paul thought of all the people that he hadn?t seen in too long. All the folks he hung out with separately he could bring together! Of course they?d stick around and get along. The rest would sit there with silent wasted faces as the disco ball glitter stirred the scene. The dance floor would have just enough people on it at a time and the no one?s drink would get knocked over because everyone would leave their drinks on a table like real people.

Paul smiled big in the dark as he train in his mind rubbed elbows with the tops of radio towers. He didn?t feel lonely because there was so much coming up. He didn?t feel doomed because every day there was a nice chance to naturally slide into the way of heaven. A big party where Paul plays the hits and no one?s shit gets stolen.

A merry good time. An impossibly great time. A comforting fantasy.