Month: January 2014

The 1st of February 1990 – Bloomington, Indiana

(found on the shore of Miller Park Lake)

Dear Trixie,

I wish you were here. I wish you could be right here, next to me, because you ought to, you just deserve it, is all. I wish you were here to see what I see, here to hear what I hear and to smell what I smell.

Something’s changed. Something’s happened. Whatever it is that we were working towards has been realized, I think.

I can’t get that smell out of my mind, Trixie. It’s enveloped me. It’s this musk, this intoxicating, uplifting musk that has cloaked me. I can’t smell anything else. The sweetness from a bunch of roses, the acidic bouquet of an uncorked merlot – nothing seems to be able to punch through this musk that I smell, this smell that I have become. I cannot escape this scent of heavy fog and dewy moss that now buffers me from the rest of the world.

“Have I done something wrong?” That was my first thought. What have I done, what has happened to me?

I thought it was something in my bedroom, but a search revealed no malodorous miscreant, and a window thrown open to the fresh breeze blowing over the lake failed to relieve my nostrils of this smell.

I smell it on me. I smell it in me. I smell it everywhere and all around me, and it reminds me of myself and my potential and my place. I don’t know if anyone else can smell it.

Perhaps this is my essence, and I should be worried that it is leaking out into the world, escaping from me and leaving me dry, leaving me with less than what I am. But the cloud does not seem to thin. I stood on the shore and let the wind whip past me, and all the while I had the musk forced through my nostrils. I stood beneath a shower head too, and I scrubbed and scrubbed with soap and water and then sprayed myself with some of Dana’s Eau de Cologne, but still, when I whiffed the air that musk wafted into my nose.

I could say that I’m getting sick of the stench, that it’s becoming boring and trite and tiresome, but I love that it’s there. It’s as if the smell is reminding my brain of some primal instincts, urging me to jump and shout and run.

I keep staring out the window, Trixie. I’m watching the cars go past and the people walk by and the animals play in the bushes and the trees, and I smell that smell, and I feel like joining them.

What have I done? What has happened to me?

I need to see you soon, before this goes away.




The 8th of February 1987 – Carlsbad, New Mexico

(found adorned with thorns from a rose)

I do hope that this does not come as too much of a shock to you. I am writing simply to terminate our relationship. I wish no offense.

Hopefully this does not surprise you, but if it does, it is perhaps all the more indicative that the two of us are entirely incompatible. We see things differently and might be – therefore – almost irreconcilably different.

I find the matter to be clear and plain. We were only involved with each other due to circumstance, geography and the like. I doubt we have any actual overlapping interests or passions. In fact, I am certain that we don’t, otherwise I would have expected to have uncovered one or two over the past years.

You can argue with me, as others have attempted in the past, and you can try to convince me that we were connected somehow, attracted. I mean, gosh, I was so nice to you, so deferential and compassionate. Does all that mean nothing?

Of course, is my reply. Of course it all means nothing. With only the slightest twinge of regret, I would like to inform you that I was deliberately misrepresenting myself during much of our time together. Perhaps unlike you, I was aware of the circumstances and the pressures that had pushed us together. Until I was no longer obligated to be around you, I wished to remain on amicable terms, so that explains that.

I doubt if you remember, as your awareness seems limited inherently, but there were moments when I was honest with you. These, I am sure, you regard, or at least brushed aside, as being aberrations, anomalies and the like, rather than representative of my actual being.

Again, I would like to inform you that, in actuality, those were moments of complete honesty. Only I noticed how you sneered and worried, I noticed how uncomfortable you had become due to my sentiments and my attempts to be myself, so I swept them under a mask of false sincerity. And I can feel you sneering now, by the way. While writing this right now, I cannot shake the image of your eyes, white and peering through the back of your own skull, and it just makes me shudder.

Oh, I am so thankful to end this deceit. I am so happy to end this once and for all.

Best wishes and have a good life,

Ulrich Johansson

The 17th of March 1994 – New York, New York

(found on the sidewalk next to an old shoe and a new scarf)

Dear 627B,

I’m really sorry because I know how this sounds, and I know how this is going to make me look, and I definitely know what you’ll think of me after reading this, so I’m really just sorry.

I just want to ask you if you could be a little more considerate of your neighbors and maybe keep it down. It would be really appreciated, especially when it’s so late at night, if you could just keep the noise down a little bit. I mean, especially when it’s so late at night. I have work in the morning. I have a job.

I just don’t understand how anyone can laugh that loud. I really can’t. What in the world could make you so excited? What in the world could make you feel so happy? I really can’t understand that.

Is something funny? Is there some big joke out there that I don’t know about? I really don’t understand.

Because these laughs of yours are like explosions. I know explosions too. I was there you know, in the war, with the noise and the bodies. But I never heard a shell explode like whatever racket erupts from your mouth all and every day.

I don’t understand what you think must be so funny, something to deserve a laugh like that. I feel the floor shake under my feet. I hear the picture frames rattle against the wall. I can – and my wife doesn’t believe me about this – but I can even feel my heart stop beating in my chest, that’s how powerful a shockwave your godforsaken howling sends through the air.

I have a job, you know. I have a job to do every day, Monday through Friday, and I have to wake up at a certain hour. But I can’t sleep most nights, and even when I get a few minutes of sleep, I always end up with a headache by the time I have to leave, a headache caused by all of your insufferable laughter.

So please, can you not laugh so loud? I’m trying to relax.

From 626A

The 8th of November 1972 – Bowling Green, Ohio

(found – coated with vomit – in the parking lot of Wood County Hospital)

Dearest Uncle,

I am pleased to notify you that I recently took your advice, and the plan went off almost entirely without a hitch.

I showed up to the party, anxious and sweaty as always, and I promptly signaled to the barkeep for a scotch and soda. Thirty seconds later, I got another, and I downed it half as quick.

See uncle, now I was ready, and, really, I was.

I was smiling. People were smiling, and I was smiling. You see, I’ve smiled before, but never like this, never with my teeth showing and my lips stretching. I was happy. I was relaxed. I was, perhaps for once in my life, comfortable.

The thoughts had stopped. Suddenly my head, my mind, felt empty. I had never noticed just how loud those voices in my head were until they were silenced at that moment. The world was there, and it was all that was there, and it was enough. Can you believe that? The world was finally enough for me.

I was at a party, and I was having fun. I was smiling. I said that, but the emphasis is needed. I was smiling like a person smiles. You’ve seen people smile, right? I’m sure you have. See, I could have been mistaken for one of those people. I really could have.

My arms were moving the whole night. Sometimes they made sense, my arms, moving table to glass to mouth and back again. But really they just danced around the room and dragged me behind them. My arms were dancing the whole night, and I danced with them.

But I quickly learned the advantages of inhibition, all the more quickly whenever I opened my mouth. I’m sure, and I’ve been assured, that nothing I said was wildly inappropriate. Instead, I spoke of grandeur and beauty and love. I spoke of the world and its people and my feelings towards it and towards them. Nobody believes me that the thoughts were always there, but they were. I had only just drank the courage needed to let them loose. You see, I spoke honestly, and that must have made people uncomfortable. That or my dancing.

I must have spoken improperly to someone or the other because I found myself out on the sidewalk with a door slamming shut behind me. It turned out to be fortunate timing. I wretched and heaved in the front yard for a few minutes until Harold noticed me through the window and came outside. He brought me down a few blocks to the hospital. They told me I might have alcohol poisoning.

Thanks again for the advice. It really did help things along,

Maxwell James

The 12th of August 1983 – Middletown, New York

(found wrapped around a soggy ice cream cone)

Dear Priscilla,

I hear that congratulations are in order!

Congratulations on becoming the first customer to taste every flavor of Sweetie Pea’s fabulous ice cream.

Here at Sweetie Pea’s, we seek to provide as many choices for our customers as we can. So much of life is deprived of choice. My grandmother always said that you can’t pick your family, and you can’t pick your face or your features, but you can always pick your nose! Those were fun summers.

Point is, here at Sweetie Pea’s, you can pick anything you want. We have over 500 flavors of ice cream!

So many people feel overwhelmed by just how much freedom they have at Sweetie Pea’s Ice Cream Shoppe. Nobody ever asks why I spent so much time researching so many flavors, but I can always see the confusion float to the surface of their misty, terrified eyeballs as they gaze over the menu board. I always dreamed of amassing an arsenal of choice so great, that everyone could have what they wanted whenever they walked into my shop. I wanted to provide so many options that the anxiety of making any sweet decision would just be obliterated. Everyone should have what they want, and they shouldn’t have much trouble in getting it. That’s what I believe. Let the pressures of the world wash away and just come in and enjoy an ice cream, and have whatever flavor you’d like.

Congratulations on successfully navigating such a daunting task. So many have failed. Some refuse to make any choice, their souls entrenched in cowardice and an iron rod jammed straight up their rear.

I remember one man spat at me. He spat at me with his words, but he spat at me with his spit, too. He hocked a big loogie across the ice cream freezer, and it stuck to my earlobe. Then he cleared his throat again, but this time to speak. He started shouting about illusions, distractions and lies, and all in this weird French accent, too. Then he screamed at me: “Life isn’t about having the freedom to choose. It’s about making the choice to be free.”

Then he walked out.

He just didn’t get it. Some people will never be satisfied, I guess. It must be a real pain, a real burden to live life that way, to be always searching and always hoping to find. Not me. I’ve got all this ice cream.

And not you either, Priscilla. This is certainly an accomplishment, Priscilla. This is certainly something to be proud of.

And in honor of such an accomplishment, I present to you this certificate of congratulations.

Martin Pea, The Ice Cream King

The 16th of February 2004 – Pueblo, Colorado

(found on Gaylord Ave., behind the Asian Buffet)

Dear Taylor,

Do you ever get that feeling? That little bundle of tightness in the small of your back?

Somehow I got this idea in my head, and, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t shake it out. It just won’t go away.

I’m worried. I’m very worried that I’m not in control and that nobody is. I’m worried that I’m just “that guy,” some character in a novel that can be boiled down into an archetype and a couple of bland descriptions. No matter how hard I try, I don’t seem to change. I’m “that guy.” He frowns and it somehow becomes him. That guy. He worries too much. He mopes.

I just don’t seem to fit. That’s the other issue. Everywhere I’ve gone, no matter where I’ve gone, I just don’t seem to quite get stuck in the right spot. It all just feels slightly, almost imperceptibly, wrong. At least everyone just humors me, with their hollow smiles and cheap hellos. But they’re just playing their role. But then, so am I.

Maybe it’s not already written for me. Maybe I’m not a simple character in a story lacking depth and personality. But I still feel static, you know what I mean? I still feel like my life is already locked in on target, and I’m locked in on who I am, and I’m just being dragged somewhere. I don’t like being dragged. I don’t like going where I’m going.

I’m not sure when it happened. Maybe it was when I woke up on my 32nd birthday and couldn’t stop crying. Maybe it was just when I realized that I had been married for four years and was about to have a second kid. I just got that promotion at work, and Marie and I put a down payment on the new home. We were moving in, and I remember looking around that new neighborhood, filled with nearly identical neo-Victorians, and I just saw an entire community of people who were in the exact same spot as me, doing the exact same thing as me. I wondered if they came willingly. Maybe they were dragged there just like me. I wondered if they knew how they got there. I sure didn’t.

I just wish I could relax. I just wish I could have a single moment of peace. I just wish I could enjoy a moment.

Without wax,


The 6th of October 1988 – Boise, Idaho

(found in the place where he left it)

What am I going to do with this? Who is going to read this? Why are you reading this?

You can stop. You can stop at any time. I can stop too, I think.

A dog’ll chase any old bone is what my grandma used to always say. A dog’ll chase any old bone.

But what’s that supposed mean?

What’s that got to do with me?

What am I chasing? Why am I chasing it?

What’s that got to do with you?

Are you running too? From what? Why?

It’s just that I feel that we’re always moving, we’re always going. There are all these things around us, and that’s all they are. They’re all just and simply things, objects in the world. Even people get stripped down in our minds until they’re nothing but an object. And we’re after them. We’re after all of them. And I don’t why. I don’t know if anyone does.

And everybody becomes the thing they are, but still they’re just a thing. And everybody, after becoming this thing, has a nice little spot, a nice little place on reserve. So everybody goes there, and they fit. But wherever I go, I don’t fit.

Is that my fault? Or can I blame somebody else?

I just wish. You all wish for something, but I just wish.

That doesn’t have to make sense. None of this does. Who said life would be coherent? Who said life would become a neat, little story with a neat, little narrative?

Oh? Was that me?

Then forget it. Just come and see me. Maybe you will understand.

Come and see me. Everything will be fine.

Just trust me.

I’m tired of chasing just any old bone. I still will, even if it means I’m still chasing, even if it means it’s just an old bone, but it won’t be just any old bone. It will be the bone I have chosen to chase.

Just trust me.