Month: June 2014

The 17th of May 1992 – Santa Clarita, California

(found in an old tin can, smelling of fish, that had been thrown in the trash)

Trudy,

I figured it all out.

I’m like anchovies.

That’s it. That explains everything.

I’m like anchovies.

Some people like anchovies. Actually, very few people like anchovies. And most people really hate anchovies. Most people turn their noses up at the thought of eating anchovies, the thought of smelling them, of even spending a few minutes with them, listening to them drone on about the state of international politics and the philosophical understandings of hope and suicide in the modern world.

These many are fought against by a brave few, who defend anchovies and their unique flavor and culinary possibilities, the need to trust and listen to the anchovies, to acquire a taste for them.

But, then, even the people that do like anchovies rarely like anchovies themselves. None of these people peel open a tin can and slurp the anchovies out whole.

Even the chefs who add anchovies to everything, who praise the fish and commend its qualities understand the objectionable nature inherent to it.

Anchovies are best enjoyed in moderation, even the people who like anchovies would say. Mince the anchovies and blend them into a Caesar salad. Add them to a pasta sauce and let them melt in the pan. You’ll barely know that they’re there – the anchovies. You’ll get a little bit of the flavor, a little bit of the taste. You’ll be able to say that you ate the anchovies, enjoyed them even, but you won’t have to put up with the unpleasantness of actually having to eat an anchovy.

That’s how anchovies would eat anchovies, if anchovies could eat anchovies. A little bit here and a little bit there, always mixed in with other ingredients to mask the taste and flavor and experience of eating anchovies.

I’m like anchovies.

I fucking hate anchovies.

Todd

The 13th of August 1996 – East Hampton, New York

(found, well-worn and well-handled in a desk drawer, the only one he kept)

I just don’t know what to do anymore, Trisha.

Every once in a while, I think, a person just finds themselves on a precipice, and they can go forward, or they can go back. They can turn away, or they can leap into the horizon and hope they timed it right so that – even if they do die – at least they saw the sun one more time.

Everywhere I seem to go, her face is on my periphery, and I think that’s going to be the way it is for a while, for quite a while, or maybe forever. It’s urging me on, I think, dragging me forward, to the edge. And what am I supposed to do with that, Trisha?

There’s just this feeling. It’s just this feeling that I get, that I got, that overwhelmed me. It doesn’t make any sense to me, and it’s hard to describe, but it’s cloaked around me and it won’t let go, won’t let me breathe. And it’s the feeling of pure, triumphant failure, the kind only felt by a wise enough pilot who’s caught in a nosedive, can’t pull out and decides to just enjoy his last few moments.

So what am I supposed to do?

I can’t sleep anymore, lest I dream. Instead I pace around the house, and I trip over furniture, and I stub my toes on the coffee tables that infernal man left all over the place, and I do it all with my eyes closed, thinking, concentrating and meditating. Whenever that feeling comes near me I let myself have it because brute force alone ought to be enough to knock it out of my head, even when intellectual discipline fails me. So I hit myself, and I keep punching and punching. Dianne wants to know what’s wrong. She wants me to come to bed. I can’t tell her. Trisha, I can’t.

I just don’t know what to do anymore.

I want to forget, and I want to move away from it. But I can’t forget facts. I can’t forget the truth, especially one which dawned so brightly. That would truly be the death of me, of my spirit and my brain, and how can I subject myself to such hopeless fate?

And I know it’s wrong. It’s just wrong to do it, but I – somehow – take solace in the fact that even so, I’ll do it. At least I’ll do something. Mistakes can only be made through inaction, Trisha. Get my name on a tombstone, put tomorrow’s date on it and have that quote underneath. I’ll die stupidly, triumphantly and ruinously as a failure.

And that blessed angel Dianne wants to know what’s wrong, even though she must already know, even though she must have known for months and months. Dianne just wants me to tell her the truth, I’m sure, because even as stupid as she’s become in the past few months, she hasn’t lost all her senses. She knows, Trisha, because she must, because she simply has to. But I can’t tell her. I just can’t.

And I don’t know what to do anymore because it’s true, and that’s the worst thing it could be, and maybe that’s why I’ll wear it around my neck like a cursed pendant, a personal anchor dragging me to the bottom of the ocean. It’s special. At least, it is to me.

Love,

Ronald

The 17th of April 2001 – Phoenix, Arizona

(found on the kitchen table)

Clarissa –

I’m just tired, that’s all.

I really hope this doesn’t come as a shock, and I know that I’ve been acting very strange lately, but I’m just tired. That’s all.

I’m tired of this place and these people, and I know there isn’t much of a reason to it, but I’m tired.

Did you ever read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? There’s a character in that, and I forgot his name, but he was some sort of army character. He just walked around and mumbled about how tired he was. Nobody really paid him any attention. Nobody asked him why he was tired. Maybe they knew. He was just tired.

I’m like him. I’m just tired.

I’m tired of thinking that there’s more and hoping that there’s more never seeing whether or not there actually is anything more.

I’m tired of waking up and wanting to go back to sleep, not because I’m tired, but because I was dreaming about something so much better. I’m tired of that.

I’m tired of doing nothing. I’m tired of sitting around in this place.

So I’m leaving. I’m going to do something.

I’ll send you post cards whenever I get there.

Sincerely,

Paul

PS – I’m sorry if this puts you into a bind. There’s cash in my sock drawer. It should be good for a couple months of rent money.

PPS – The sock drawer is the second one from the top in my highboy. Ask Terry to clear out the one above it if you get a chance.

The 19th of October 2012 – Fort Lauderdale, Florida

(found, but I forgot where)

Dear Liana,

That’s one of my least favorite questions, to be honest, just because it always strikes me as so unnecessary. Who cares what I want? Who cares about the things I care about? Certainly not the world. Certainly not the universe.

Of course I want to be successful. Of course I want the money and the fame and the family – or at least one of those things. To be honest, if I don’t get the money or the fame or the love, I won’t be happy at all. One would be enough, but then, none wouldn’t be too devastating.

I know you want me to be altruistic and say I want a brighter future or world peace or for all the children of the world to gather together and join hands in peace and harmony, but I’d really like to be rich or famous or in the passionate throes of some deeply destructive love.

But here’s where I want to mess things up, to be honest. Here’s what I never understood. Want is such weak word. It’s boring. There’s this other, much more important want. An ultra-want, a want that – if unfulfilled – leaves you spiritually broken rather than just unsatisfied. It’s more than just desire. It’s desperation.

Because, really, I want none of that, at least not in that desperate sense. If I die penniless, hated or forgotten, if I die as a beggar, it won’t make any difference to me. Dying alone and on the street amounts to just about the same as dying in the arms of a loved one on a set of silken sheets. It’s all death, and death’s all the same. So I don’t care about any of that, to be honest.

I want, and I want desperately, to be remembered, not by everybody, not by anyone in general. I just want to be remembered by someone specifically. I don’t really care how or why, to be honest, but I’d like it if just one specific person doesn’t forget who I am. Maybe there’ll be more as time goes on, but right now, I’ve only got one person in mind. I just hope that he doesn’t forget me before I forget him. I know it’s pretty much impossible, but I just hope that he doesn’t forget me ever.

Sincerely,

Mindy

The 19th of May 2014 – Levittown, New York

(found in a pile of grass clippings, near the brush)

Rosario,

They call me troubled, Rosy. I mean, They keep calling me troubled!

I’m the troubled one. I’m the crazy one, the nutjob, the risk to self and others.

But them? They’re all fine. Them? They’re all perfect.

The family across the street from me, Rosy, you should see them. You really should come visit me, and just sit in my front room and stare out the window at the family across the street from me.

They spend every weekend in the exact same way.

The son comes out first, and he walks in a series of concentric circles while pushing a lawnmower. Chunks of grass go flying around and around, and the boy just pushes a lawnmower. Every single weekend.

Then the mother comes out. She drags a plastic bucket behind her, and she goes from flowerbed to flowerbed, dragging that bucket and dragging that bucket. She hunches over and sweeps through the mulch around the plants with her fingers, plucking out little green weeds and tossing them in the bucket. She drags the bucket. She fills the bucket. Then she drags it. Every single weekend.

And then there’s the father, the husband. He spends an entire Saturday washing his Camaro, waxing his Camaro, squeegeeing his Camaro and shining his Camaro. Every Saturday, all Saturday. Then, when the whole thing is spitshined and spotless, he tosses a tarpaulin cover over it and walks back to the house. The car has never left the driveway. The car has never had its engine started. The car is a sparkling marvel, and he cleans it. Every single weekend.

Worst of all, they don’t seem to realize that there are other things to do. They seem to enjoy it, and they don’t seem to realize that they can actually choose not to, that they can reject this sham of a reality and construct something more pleasant and interesting.

It’s a farce! It has to be a complete and total farce. It’d even be pretty funny if they didn’t insist on taking everything so horrendously seriously.

There just has to be more. But that makes me the troubled one, right?

This isn’t life. This is an insult to life. This is maintenance. This is taxiing on the runway or performing a series of U-turns on the highway because the driver never fails to miss the proper exit.

And they say I’m troubled.

-Kieran

The 31st of October 2013 – Austin, Texas

(found underneath a pile something heavy – a bunch of expectations, probably)

Jason,

Listen, no offense, okay? And I understand your question, but I don’t want you to see her, let alone actually meet her, alright?

You have to understand what kind of vulnerability I’m in right now. You have to understand how much of a fool I’m allowing myself to be, and I know that.

I’m taking this one person out of the crowd, and I’m declaring that they’re just about the best person I’ve ever met. It doesn’t matter what she thinks or what you think or what anybody ever does about the declaration, but it’s a declaration all the same, and, Jason, I’m making it. And I haven’t even met that many people.

But, jokes aside, I’m deathly afraid. I’m terribly, horrifyingly scared right now that you’ll see this girl, you’ll talk to her, and you’ll come to this decision.

And then you’ll turn to me.

And you’ll give me that look, that single look that only means that single word, and, with that single word, you’ll send the whole world crashing down around my ears, with that look, with that one questioning, incisive word.

“Really?”

“Really?” Now I can hear it all. “Really? This is the one who makes you shout from rooftops? This is the one that compels you to dance down sidewalks after dates? That time you told me about how you spent all night talking about nothing in particular and everything imaginable, it was a conversation with this person?”

“Really? This is the one you love?”

As if I have any say in that.

But it’s true. And I need it.

Because people aren’t perfect, and that’s a fact. But she is, or she’s as close to it as somebody can get, and I need that.

Because you don’t care and you don’t care – at least not in that special way, that magical way – and then suddenly you do. Jason, it’s hard enough to deal with that realization, that crushing wave of feeling and feel and felt – all tenses and all at once – without somebody sneering at you, without somebody asking why.

And the problem isn’t feeling foolish, at least I don’t think it is. And the problem isn’t not being able to show proof. It’s that there is no need for proof at all, and such unanswerable questions are just a waste.

So maybe you can meet her after the wedding. Maybe.

Glenn

The 19th of November 2004 – Greeley, Colorado

(found in the math teacher’s desk drawer)

Marissa,

Jesus, like how is it so hard to figure out?

Marissa, you’ve gotta go for it, you know? You’ve gotta like get out of the way of yourself and just go for it. Alright?

I mean, there’s this rabbit, right? He lives in my front yard, and sometimes the fluffy, dumb idiot comes out of his hole when I’m mowing the lawn, right?

So he’s hopping around in the grass that I’m cutting, and every once in a while he just stops, right in the middle of the lawn, you know? I mean, sometimes he’s right in front of the lawnmower.

Right? So he stops in the middle of the yard and he looks at me, sitting on this big ass machine with whirring blades and a big, coughing engine, you know? He looks at me, and he gives me this look like “Don’t run me over,” like it’d be my fault if he got all stuck up in the lawnmower blades and got his head ripped off or whatever, when he’s just sitting in the middle of the yard and staring at me.

I mean, the point is, you can’t expect anyone to get out of the way for you. You gotta get out of your own way. You gotta get things – even the really little things – for yourself.

It’s not like it’s life or death, you know? You aren’t about to get run over by a lawnmower. But, I mean, you gotta understand that if you’re not moving and if you’re not living and if you’re not getting those things for yourself, then it might as well be life or death, right? Except instead of fighting, you’re just letting death come to you, you know?

So go Marissa, like right now, like right after class.

Ted’s cute. He’s nice. He’ll understand.

But fucking go, alright?

I’m tired of you just sitting around and staring at fucking lawnmowers.

So go.

-B ♥