All in Flash

"WAKING" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

I woke to the phone screaming at six am. I slapped the fucker off and returned to slumber. Then, not long later, massive trucks moved in on me. Their gargantuan engines, their exhausts shaking the world. It was like some type of demonic sub woofer blasting from inside a cave in the furthest depths of hell. And then, all that noise rising, Rising, RISING, in bandshell uniformity, coming up and entering this world right under my bed, jolting me awake a second time. 

The beast machines soon past and I was able to sleep again in short order. Then the sun got its shit together. Got it goin’ good. The sun decided to radiate my bedroom like a microwave oven. 

I threw the covers off and lay in sticky sweat; so I set a box fan on high and blared it over me. The rushing hum drawing me out of this world and toward the nether one. And in that burrrrrr, that rushing wind, my mind felt relief. There was peace in that air. There was love and the world was a good place. I drifted back down. I drifted back down then my girl moved into me. She moved into me with her cuddliness and her HEAT, and my mind was buoyed up from the depths. 

Patience is not my virtue. Images of fires and explosions and shopping malls at Christmas entered my mind. I calmed myself. Somehow, I calmed myself. I knew my girl meant no harm in what she was doing. So I laid there. I laid and took the heat of the sun and of her body, and I took her love with it, and I sweated through. I endured, and even though my comfort was less, my mind numbed in the heat. I was soon going back down, back to peace, back to oblivion, and as soon as I reached that distant sanctuary, my girl moved. 

She moved her hand on my belly, grabbing a pinch on my fat, waking me out of it. In furry, I grabbed her hand and threw it away from me like it was an empty beer can. There was no thought in the action. It was like slapping a bug away. 

My girl moved more then, rising from the bed, and next, I could hear her stomping around the apartment. Then I couldn’t hear her anymore. I was going down further. Down further and further, past dreams, past anything, maybe to death. I slept for an hour. One perfect hour. 

When I woke, my girl was not in a good mood. She was riled and wrathful and too much time had passed for me to change any of it. 

Some days, you just can’t win.  

"WAKING" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

"ELEPHANT" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

ELEPHANT

 

I remember the circus

and the elephant.

I remember standing in a line

with other children,

and we were silent.

 

We were all pondering

this real monster

so close to us.

 

Frightened.

In awe.

Five at a time,

we rose up

wooden stairs

to a platform.

 

A man would move us in and over then.

Our legs straddling the beast

like a cowboy’s.

 

Cameras flashed.

Smiling mothers goggled.

Their babies so adorable on an elephant.

Then a man would say,

“Let’s go, Lisa”

and the elephant would move.

 

She moseyed

around a large ring

on a dirt floor

in the center

of the circus tent

five children on her back.

 

I waited my turn

(with the other silent and terrified).

I watched the elephant’s long sways,

her colossal legs taking ginger steps 

in slow motion.

 

I watched  those pillars move.

I watched her toenails,

her ears flapping like sails,

that long impossible trunk.

I watched her.

 

I watched her,

and when she was close enough,

I  looked at one of her eyes.

 

I saw her eye

and in her eye

I saw her,

and

in her eye

I saw that she saw me.

 

I saw that she saw me

but saw me

from some depth,

from some place,

some inner world,

I couldn’t imagine.  

 

But when I looked at her,

I saw goodness.

 

I rode in the front

behind a skull

as wide as a coffee table.

Her smell was strong and thick and animal,

and the way she moved…

 

She moved like a rock that changed shape.

She moved like a rock that moved like water.

And when she moved,

she moved around the circle

in the circus tent,

and I was so high in the air.

 

She could have done terrible things to us.

To anyone.

Something that powerful.

She could have done anything.

No one could have stopped it.

But she didn’t.

She was good.

 

She was magnificent.   

"FRIDAY EVENING AT THE ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BUFFET" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

FRIDAY EVENING AT THE ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BUFFET

 

Friday evening,

I was starving.

So, I went to The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.

 

Jesus! Oh-God-help-me.

 

There were about a thousand of us in there,

at the buffet –

packed in –

little piggies jostling for Mama Swine's tit.

 

I juked and maneuvered and elbowed and made my way in,

 

then a ten-year-old boy threatened me.

 

He threatened me for the last

baconcheeseburger slider.

 

Ten years old,

biceps like hams,

he did it with his eyes.

 

I backed off,

out matched.

Slopped some pot roast,

made it back to a tiny booth table.

 

I ate in fear while looking around.

There was a tension in the air

like just before a riot.

 

Then,

as the breach memories of the buffet faded,

as my adrenaline subsided,    

as my mind calmed,

 

I began listening to a Loud woman in a group near me.

 

"Our next class is Wednesday after the service. It’s over Greed and Envy" she said, "I'm really looking forward to it. I must confess, I AM envious of Carrie's vacuum cleaner. It's beautiful. Perfectly balanced. Got to be one of those industrial ones. It’s got that feel, you know?... Anyway, I AM envious of her and that vacuum cleaner. I feel guilty about it, and I think this class will really help me with that. I'm tired of feeling guilty."

 

She kept rambling.

My jaw slowly dropped

and stayed there.

Eventually,

from my fingers,

a french fry tumbled away.

I looked around then,

panning the space,

the crowd,

the masses,

the chewing and sucking and sweating,

the screaming young,

the women chatting,

men standing watch over families,

sons searching for guidance,

other men in the midst

just sitting,

like me,

defeated in some way,

time etched into their faces,

their bodies limp and exhausted and beaten.

Then I noticed the eyes.

Some of their eyes wondered the room,

like mine,

analyzing

this place,

this moment.

Pondering it

and their place in it.

A hopeless acceptance

weighing down upon

slumped shoulders.

Some knowing,

I think,

of how they got here.

Maybe what went wrong.

Maybe there was never any real chance,

and this is how they got here.

Most just seeing it as it was,

I think,

their life.

A pointlessness.

A grasp for a meaning.

A settling for any possible comfort.

 

A settling,

and this is a highlight.

This right here.

A Friday night

at a cheap buffet

in a mass of chaos.  

 

I see their eyes.

I see their souls through their eyes.

 

Inside of me,

at that moment,

something broke.  

 

I rose then.

I rose slow

from the table

then moved silently,

walking fast.

 

But Not Too Fast!

 

I was afraid, you see?

Scared some unknown power might take notice.

Something of power and malevolence and godlike and an enforcer of predetermination…

It might see me and try to stop me!

 

I stepped on.

I burst through exit doors

into the night,

into cold air,

into black sky.

Then I turned,

looking back

at the bright building.

 

From life’s insanity,

from original sin,

from some kind of guilt instilled into the common heart,

somehow,

somehow,

 

I’ve escaped.

"CHICKEN WINGS" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

Writing this in The Bu (Chevy Malibu).

 

Was at a bookstore.

Just bought a literary mag.

4:30 PM, Halloween.

Now, I'm in traffic.

 

A migration of MASSIVE,

aluminum turtles

extends like defeat

in front of me.

 

I'm wiggling in my seat

to Lady Gaga.

YES, A 33 year-old,

straight man can do this!

 

The song ends.

My dancing ends,

and…

I JUST CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE!

 

I inch off to an exit,

glide to a red light,

make a turn,

and jerk it into

a strip mall parking lot.

 

There's a chicken wing place.

Wings?

NO WINGS!

On another diet.

Gotta stay sexy.

 

A good day

until the bookstore.

They didn't have what I wanted

(besides the literary mag).

 

Making my purchase,

the clerk hacked and coughed,

throat ejecting all over my book.

THEN HE SMILED AT ME!

He smiled

and handed it over.

 

How do I handle these situations?

How?

 

I took the book.

Thumb and forefinger only.

All other digits splaying,

flaring out,

trying to escape infection.

 

Now I sit

in this parking lot

with the book

radiating death

next to me.

I can feel it.

 

I look at the lit mag.

I want to devour it.

I want to burn it.

It's like an x-girlfriend.

 

I breathe deep,

withhold decision,

and turn

looking at the world.

 

The traffic's there,

rising to an overpass,

staring down at me like a colossus.

 

AAAAAHHHHHHH!

Time. Time.

All this Time!

 

I look back at the book.

Read?

Disease?

 

I start thinking.

 

Between me and my apartment,

somebody's dead.

Poor person.

Blood on the highway.

Probably had a family.

Halloween,

kids dawning costumes,

candy treats being prepared,

significant other devising sexual adventure.

 

Sorrow.

The one that went down…

They went down fighting

this invisible foe.

It'll claim every one of us.

Poor family.

Bad day to happen.

 

Should I try the highway again?

Approach the gauntlet?

Can I take it?

NO!

It's scary out there.

Better to sit here

in The Bu

with the disease.

 

Chicken wings?

NO!

 

I look at a vacant area

adjacent to the strip mall.

It's a small field

about the right size

for a football game.

Crab grassy and level.

 

There's apartments–

even shittier than mine

–beyond.

 

I look at the field.

An old man's out there,

walking,

swaying a long pole

in front of him.

 

He's a blind man, I think,

but then  I understand.

He's carrying a metal detector,

swinging it left to right.

He's out there searching.

He's searching while we all

cruise toward DEATH.

 

I decide I like the old dude.

I hope he finds something.

I haven't.

 

Chicken wings?

 

 

"SHOWERING" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

At the gym

I shower.

They don’t have towels.

You've got to bring your own.

 

I've got eight hand towels,

precision folded.

Eight

little

perfect 

baby-blue

squares,

in my gym bag.

 

The water is ice.

Thin

piercing

rays

of anger

slicing me.

 

They don't want people like me here.

They don’t like car bums.

They keep their water heater low.

Gym people don't like homeless people.

But I am a paying customer.

 

I shower like an Olympic sprinter.

Soap!

Scrub!

Shampoooooo!

 

There is an older man at the gym.

He gets there when I do.

He works out when I work out.

After I flip on the water,

he sneaks into the shower room.

He does push ups on the wet tile floor.

He gets down there,

pumps them out,

genitals dangling.

They make slimy,

slapping sounds

as they plop,

then lift

then plop

on the tile.

 

When he's done with those,

he grabs a three-inch pipe

running the ceiling's length.

 

In the nude,

he performs pull ups,

facing me,

watching me.

 

He pulls.

He rises.

He descends.

He watches.

 

I've started showering with my knife.

I place it on the

wall-mounted,

liquid-soap

dispenser.

 

I shower fast,

get out,

shake like a wet,

freezing dog,

then I dry off

using my little hand towel.

 

Physically, I’m clean.   

(written in 2015)

"SHOWERING" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

For New Writing, News and The Everyday Grit of Life, follow Gabriel Thomas on Twitter.

"TOWN TALK" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

TOWN TALK

 

The talk’s of work,

needing a job,

getting a job,

minimum wage’s

too minimum.

 

Then, now,

it’s the high rent.

Can’t afford it.

Got to have two workers in that home.

Got to have two incomes, at least.

 

Long ago,

they say,

it wasn’t like this.

 

I have a hard time imagining that.

 

And there’s those Politicians, they say.

We get on those politicians.

They’ll run you over, son, they say,

suck you clean.

You young people need to do something.

This world is fucked, they say.

 

Then,

they ask me,

“Can I get a cig?”

 

Now, it’s politics.

Now, it’s election.

Now it’s rock the boat time.

Rock the vote time.

Those politicians, man!

 

On street corners,

in trollies,

outside libraries,

this is town speech.

 

And I’m thinking…

The Pacific’s four blocks away.

It’s the biggest thing

I’ve ever seen.

Sunset’s at 7:04

I’ll eat rice tonight,

make it spicy somehow.

 

As the woes of life call from street level,

as human bodies quiver in state necessity,

locked inside me,

I know a secret.

 

I’ll share it with you,

but you may not like it…

 

The World Doesn’t Owe You Shit!

 

"TOWN TALK" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

"PACIFIC CREST TRAIL" Prose By Gabriel Thomas

"PACIFIC CREST TRAIL" Prose By Gabriel Thomas

You will be uncomfortable. You will tread snow capped peaks, green meadows, desert rock and sand. You will have time. You will have time to think. You will learn HEAT. You will learn cold. You will perceive through a loss of comfort, and you will remember comfort – Its Luxury. The warmth, a bed, a good meal, you will daydream about it. You will have time to think.

You will learn what is necessary. You will analyze yourself and your possessions and your “Wants”. You will discover what is holding you back, things that are slowing you down, the unnecessaries of life. You will learn minimalism and your Body will change.

There will be pain. Your feet will hurt. Knees, back, shoulders, neck, you will strain. Everything will strain. In time, you will heal, and you will become stronger, leaner, faster, more balanced. You will marvel at this, and you will learn to love your body again. You will love your body again like when you were a small child discovering it for the first time. You will be living a life closer to what it had evolved to do. You will be living.

More will change. Your brain will remember things you’ve hidden away. You can deal with those things out there. Your senses will heighten. The world will become focused and clear. You will feel and become younger. You will gain strength and be more ready, and how you feel about yourself will change. You will feel competence. You will become competent, and you will lose self pity and self hate. You will learn to shit like a natural human being.

You will witness a stranger’s kindness, and you will become kind too, and you will have kindness given unto you, and you will witness a goodness that is inherent in all of humanity, and your perspectives will broaden, and you will witness joy and the sun and the air, and you will be joyous.

You will make friends. They will not be fake. You will learn to trust them, and they in you, and you will love them, and they will love you.

You can become more of yourself and less lost on The Pacific Crest Trail.    

"PACIFIC CREST TRAIL" Prose By Gabriel Thomas

For New Writing, News and The Everyday Grit of Life, follow Gabriel Thomas on Twitter.

"NORTH CENTRAL CALI" A Poem By Gabriel Thomas

The hills run

and they are green

and there is water everywhere

in North Central Cali.

 

Grapes grow

and call to

the better off

to get shit-faced,

to dissolve,

to forget those

“no problem”

problems

in North Central Cali.

 

The secret is out,

here,

in North Central Cali.

 

People have learned

where this

special heaven

is

and they’ve moved in,

moved in,

in-force,

staked their claim

to some miniscule piece,

giving their lives for it,

their dreams,

their minds,

to it,

to some world sucking monstrosity.

 

And now

they wait

in their little slice

of paradise.

 

They wait

like many

in California.

 

They wait in the shade

ofpalms

and pines,

under an orange sun,

pickling themselves,

pruning their skin,

drying out out like jerky,

sucking the grape,

smoking the hemp,

sampling micro brews,

IPA’s,

exxxtra hoppy.

 

They wait,

and they will never own

what they think they will own,

and they will never leave,

 

and they will endure here,

through the HOA torment,

some social city agenda,

under doctors

who are not scientists.

 

They will wait

with their minds ruled

and less freedomed.

But the sun is there.

 

The sun is right there.

 

They wait to die

in the

warm

orange

sun

of North Central Cali.

 

Mortgage insanity!

Freeway speedway.

A coffee shop every mile.

Organic.

Fresh.

Free Range. 

Farmer’s Market Hysteria.

Biker Gangs with 401k’s.

Children biding their time.

They are waiting too.

They wait

for that big chance,

that one shot,

that moment it’ll happen for them.

Just a little further down,

they think.

South.

Along the coast.

 

But the weather!

 

The ocean is there.

The sierras are that way.

Reno,

Tahoe,

Vegas…

Just a drive.

Close enough.

 

Close enough to suck you clean

and make you reprioritize.

 

Lime trees,

apples,

plumbs…

The avocado is God.

A land o’ plenty

with a population

of too many

and rising.      

 

Behind gated drives

and manicured lawns

and sound proofed lives,

the people cry “NO”

to Trump’s Great Wall,

and if I owned slaves,

I might say this too,

in North Central Cali.

 

The bums live well.

The elite seem almost holy.

The workers work

and try not to make sense

of it,

try not to make sense

of anything

in North Central Cali.  

"NORTH CENTRAL CALI" A Poem By Gabriel Thomas

For New Writing, News and The Everyday Grit of Life, follow Gabriel Thomas on Twitter.