Monthly Archives: January 2017


She calls herself the Rainbow Chaser
The suit she wears is a multi-colored maze of silks and kevlar,
Her shield against the terrors of the world,
A promise to the world that she will bring them peace and understanding,
From the first time, meting justice to the cop with his gun at the kid,
To this latest time, gaining media attention
For high-profile world-saving.

But who is this light of justice
Who shines through after the Rains of Terror are ended?
Why is it that so many of the people she saves are members of minorities?
That first kid, the fourteen-year-old, was black.
There was a girl, too, a while later, who was white
But she was a lesbian. And then there was a muslim.
And then later a man who was trans, who made a fuss about not needing help
Until he realized what she could do.

The Telekinesis was just the beginning.
That was just what people could see when she was out and about, saving.
But some bullets still struck home.
How did she keep on surviving?
Some said that her skin was impenetrable, but that wasn’t it, quite.
She could bleed–and, in fact, did.
Every punch, every stab, every kick, hurt.
But she had learned to roll with them.
And she also had superhuman healing.
It led many of her fans to ask each other “How could you Not like this girl?”
But of course, you can’t be a hero
Without making enemies.

“You’re a thorn in my side,” said one of her first victims,
“But I’ll still crash and burn my way through this briar patch.”
It was the first time she’d heard the term,
Thorn, applied to her,
But she brought him down anyway,
Uncovering the truth of his sweatshop operation
Using orphaned children of illegal immigrants,
And so the Senator was brought to his knees.

But conventional media saw through all her disguises
(Not that she was hiding much)
And what did they find?
Not just a woman.
Not just a woman who was black.
Not just a woman who was black and happened to love other women,
But also one, it seemed, who worshiped Satan.
“There is no Satan in pagan religion,” she explained to one accuser,
“Just a multiplicity of Gods.
If you believe your way is the only way that’s right,
You will see the Devil lurking behind every corner.
But I see no devils–only the Angels of other Gods.”

The Headline: “Blackthorn Worships the Devil.”
“There is no Devil,” she, “and I am not ‘Blackthorn’.”
“The woman worships Satan and has sex with other women.
She wears a rainbow because even she knows her black skin’s sinful.”
“Is my mother’s black skin more sinful, then, than my father’s?
His skin was white, but that didn’t stop him from being a rapist.”
“That is why she hates white people,” says the blonde on TV with impossible teeth,
“That is why she hates men–especially white men who are straight.”
“But who will save us?” say the white men who aren’t yet dead.
“Who will save the Straight White Man from this Thorn of Darkness?”
She buries her face in her hands.
“She wants equality?” they ask, “What about equality for Him?”

She reaches for her coat of many colors
As Miss Impossible-Teeth and her gardener, Uncle Tom,
And the boy at her Church who pretends not to look at the Reverend’s backside,
And the Christians with their pitchforks,
And the Atheists screaming that all religions are equally unseemly
And all bring corruption to the human heart,
They all rally against her, from every possible front,
And she unfurls the blanket with her spangled mind,
She unleashes the rainbow,
Cupcakes and glitter and witticisms shower down like so much confetti
Leaving no room for darkness of soul.

All are welcome at the feast but those who will not share with others.
Will she dine alone?
Or will you join us?

The (Girl)Friend Zone

IRIS: Ronan? Ronan! Hey! Stop! What’s up?

RONAN: I can’t do this anymore.

IRIS: Oh, come on, I’ve seen you dance longer and harder than that.

RONAN: No, you know what I’m talking about!

IRIS: What is up with you?

RONAN: You! I’m sorry, I keep trying. I try to be okay with it.

IRIS: You try to be okay with me having a good time? Well, thanks. Hey! Ronan Westley Carroll, don’t you dare walk away from me!

RONAN: Is that really the kind of man you want?

IRIS: Excuse me?

RONAN: What do you—Are you seriosly… Seriously?

IRIS: What? Just ‘cause he beat you at chess?

RONAN: Why were we even playing in the first place?

IRIS: Because you like chess! Because you’re good at it! But he beat you, so what? Get over it.

RONAN: Do you really not get it?

IRIS: You’re threatened by him. That’s fair. He’s classy.

RONAN: What kind of a name is “Valdemar” anyway?

IRIS: He’s German! So fucking sue him! What, are you gonna add bigotry to your mess of whatever the hell this is?

RONAN: Oh, you mean he’s a sophisticated European? Oh, I hadn’t noticed—

IRIS: Oh, grow up!

RONAN: Oh! Now I’m the bad guy, huh? Now I’m the one slobbering over every woman on the dance floor!

IRIS: Oh, what, like you’re not?

RONAN: I don’t slobber over you! Do I? No, seriously, do I?

IRIS: … No! No, of course not. We’re… friends.

RONAN: Good night, Iris.

IRIS: Ronan, wait. Stop! Ronan!

RONAN: Good. Night. Iris.

IRIS: Just tell me, OK?

RONAN: Fine. I have been in love with you almost since the moment I laid eyes on you. There. I’ve said it.

IRIS: I thought love at first sight was a shallow poison. Isn’t that what you’re always saying?

RONAN: That’s why I said “almost”. I didn’t fall in love with you because you’re beautiful, OK? I fell in love with you because you read Fiona Dugnot and you caught my Dragons’ Will reference years before they started making the series. I fell in love with you because instead of ganging up on me for being a dork, you embraced me, OK? To the point where other people could take me seriously, too. I fell in love with you because… because I thought you might fall in love with me. That doesn’t happen to me. I’m the guy who doesn’t have a girlfriend because “girls don’t watch Stardancers or play Gift of Hades, but you did! But I waited too long. And you wound up with Jeff. And then Tommy. And Seth, and now… Did any of them… You know what? It’s none of my business. None of it was ever any of my business.

IRIS: Why didn’t you say anything?

RONAN: Because I was young and stupid. OK? And almost as inexperienced then as I still am! Given that chance again… Well, given that chance again, I’d probably make the same choice as before, but for a different reason.

IRIS: What do you mean?

RONAN: Back then, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to feel rejected. Now… I think I wouldn’t say anything because I wouldn’t want to hurt you. I wouldn’t want to put that burden on you.

IRIS: Shouldn’t that be my decision?

RONAN: Don’t do that.

IRIS: Don’t what?

RONAN: Don’t pretend like you’d actually…

IRIS: You didn’t tell me! Why are you telling me now?

RONAN: Because right now, I do want to hurt you! I want you to know how I feel about you, how I’ve always felt about you, because I need you to know that I am not your friend. I never have been.

IRIS: Because you were using our friendship to seduce me? Original.

RONAN: You want to tell me that hasn’t worked on you? Come on, Iris. How long have I know you?

IRIS: Yeah, well, fool me once—

RONAN: Three times, Iris.

IRIS: On a scale from one to Lindsay Lohan, how drunk are you right now?

RONAN: Tony Stark.

IRIS: Oh, you wish.

RONAN: And you need to stop flirting with me.

IRIS: Seriously? How the fuck was that “flirting”?

RONAN: Because you did that thing…

IRIS: That thing? What thing?

RONAN: That thing with your… with your eyebrow.

IRIS: That thing with my eyebrows? Are you fucking with me?

RONAN: Oh, you know what I’m talking about!

IRIS: What could I possibly be doing with my eyebrows that would make you think I was good to go?

RONAN: See, and this right here is why we can’t be friends. Because no matter how hard you try to act “normal” by your own standards, no matter how little encouragement you give, I will always read more into it.

IRIS: Is that my fault?

RONAN: No. No, you’re right, it’s not. But it isn’t about fault. You really can’t help being like catnip for me. I can pretend that you’re a good bag of treats I can use to sharpen my claws and improve my game or something, but in the end, you’re nothing but a toy for the muse of fire to dangle in front of me and it’s driving me crazy!

IRIS: Sometimes I just don’t even know what you’re saying—

RONAN: Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m saying. I’m gonna go now—

IRIS: No, please.

RONAN: Why won’t you let me leave? Why do you keep pulling me back into this?

IRIS: Because I…

RONAN: You almost said it, didn’t you? Something real sweet; maybe not “I love you”, but, like, a sweet little “I don’t want to lose you”?

IRIS: But I don’t want to lose you.

RONAN: How the hell can you not understand that’s the worst possible thing you could say to me right now? Or ever? Because it means you do love me. Platonically. And I’m just now finally coming to grips with that. You love me like a brother. You’ll never love me as anything else. But that’s just not how I feel about you. And this isn’t about blame. This is just… I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry.


Author’s Note: I have posted a different version of this before on the old blog. This version has different characters for reasons I don’t want to go into right now, and has been cleaned up and adjusted a bit.

The Wolf and the Fox

Diana had always thought of herself as a wolf. She’d always had a pack that she’d run with. First, it was her family; then she made friends as the tomboy at school; in high school, she was on all the sports teams.

But now she couldn’t have a pack anymore.

Being a wolf didn’t seem like all that much fun anymore.

She had friends, though, here at college. Jenny and Kelly were great, even if they did seem like polar opposites. Sarah spoke her mind and kept things interesting, and Tanya did an awesome job of keeping them all together. Meanwhile, Mike and Noah were always getting into it about politics and religion and Hairy cracked really lame jokes about what a bad idea that was.

She even had a boyfriend: Mark Dixon.

But none of them could ever really know her. And that bothered her a lot.

Mark was suspicious, of course. She wasn’t bothered so much when she thought Kelly or Tanya had figured her out, but the idea that Mark might know, that they might tell him or, worse, that he would figure it out for himself… She wanted to keep him away from all that, to keep it separate. That part of her wasn’t part of the real world, after all. And he was.

Then there was Shirley.

Everyone insisted to Diana that Shirley meant well, that she was a sweet girl who was not —“I absolutely promise you,” Tanya added—that she was not out to steal Diana’s boyfriend. And they were probably right. She was probably overreacting.

But there was something just a little bit entirely too cute about Shirley. It wasn’t just the ridiculousness of her insisting on being called Vyxen—with a fucking y—why? Who does that? Who does any part of that?

It wasn’t just the way she was always so scatterbrained, the terrible perverted things she did to English sentences when she was nervous—which, of course, was when she was at her cutest, and of course, that was all the fucking time. It wasn’t just the way she was always flirting with everyone—she acted differently around girls, but it was still flirting.

But then she didn’t flirt with Mark. Out of respect, or something. That’s what Tanya said, anyway. But it was how Diana knew.

Mark wouldn’t flirt with her, either. He wouldn’t even talk about her. If she came up in conversation, she wouldn’t. He would make damn sure she didn’t. If she asked him questions about her, he wouldn’t even get defensive.

Maybe she was just overreacting. Maybe she was insecure because she knew that it was wrong for her to be with Mark in the first place—what if Shirley really did deserve him more; I mean she was such a Fox, right? It was right there in her name, the name people called her. She was Vyxen and Diana was a Wolf. Wolves shouldn’t be around people.

The pack wanted to have a bonfire one weekend at the full moon. Well, there was no way Diana was going to make it. She could tell Mark wanted to go—but how could she tell him? What excuse did she have? Homework? She was sick, she insisted. Couldn’t make it. He called her on it, showed up at her place unexpectedly—it was all she could do to get the chains back into the closet without making too much noise before opening the door.

But she had to turn him away. She knew it was the wrong move—at least if she wanted to keep him. But what else could she do? He offered to stay—she could tell him. But who in their right mind would still want to stay after being told? Why would she even let him?

The sun was setting and she could feel all rationality and inhibition seeping out of her, melting her humanity away and evaporating into the stale dormroom air.

It was the smell, she decided. Something about the way Shirley smelled, like a vixen, a real one, one without the y, without a “why”, without a purpose, a carrion-lover snatching prey from stronger teeth.

There was hair on her skin already by the time the next knock came. Five more minutes and the sound she made in response would have been quite different, but through the muzzle, Diana managed a “Go away!”

“Are you a werewolf?” Shirley asked in a scolding tone.

Diana was speechless.

“It’s okay,” the Vyxen continued, “it’s just me out here and I completely understand if you are, but if you are, you have got to tell Mark. You owe him that much.”

It wasn’t fair, Diana thought. It wasn’t fair that Shirley got to be rational and insightful on top of being so despicably adorable.

“Look,” Vyxen continued, “if it makes you feel any better, I’m actually a Changeling and I can turn into a Fox. I know it’s not the same as being a Werewolf, but I know what it’s like to have to keep a secret.”

It wasn’t the kind of thing Diana would have responded to anyways, but by that point, her limbs were thinner, her neck was thicker, her snout was growing into its muzzle and she had a tail.

“OK, well I can see it’s getting dark outside, so… Talk to you tomorrow? By-e.”

The Wolf lunged at the door, fighting the muzzle all the way, but her collar kept her chained tight to the closet. Even the furniture was pushed back against the far wall, too far away for her to pretend it was the fox as she sharpened her skills.

It was going to be a long, frustrating night.

The Amazon

Tamora Thomas had never felt comfortable with her breasts.

When she was a girl, breasts were something women had, but then suddenly they were there, intruding: bouncing when she ran, misbehaving when she did cartwheels and calling unwanted attention from boys who had been her friends.

When she finally started dating, these protrusions were rivals for the affection of her boyfriends, who could hardly seem to bear to look her in the face, but also didn’t know quite what to do with them once they were bared.

When she joined the marines, it was partly to serve her country, but it was mostly to prove herself, to prove to her breasts, that they couldn’t stop her from being the best.

And she was. They called her the Amazon, which, if you know anything about Greek Mythology, is somewhat ironic. The other soldiers, the men at least, were distracted by them, and she used that to her advantage, to best them in training. All except one: Gabriel Hammond. He always looked her in the eyes, and she found his lack of interest in her pectoral rivals arousing. She cornered him one day and jumped his bones, pressing her bosom upon him, but he still wouldn’t touch her.

That was when he told her about Rosalind Furrowes, his fiancée, whom he had loved since childhood. And he spoke of her with such tenderness and love that Tamora couldn’t be angry with him anymore—indeed, couldn’t help but fall in love with Rosalind herself.

Gabriel married Rosalind during the furlough after boot-camp and despite his imprecations, his insistence that his bride would want her there, too, Tamora refused to meet her, and spent the time instead with another man, who appreciated her breasts more than he appreciated her.

In time, both Tamora and Gabriel were invited to join a special program. It was a super-soldier program, like the kind you always hear about in conspiracy theories and bad action movies—apparently, they were real. But perfectly safe, of course. Perfectly safe.

It was there, in close quarters, after many years and many false starts, that Tamora finally managed, in spite of herself, to seduce him. It was her breasts who had done it, she told herself in the morning. They had been responsible, had tricked her somehow—just look at the evidence: it was them Gabriel had focused his attentions on and under his attention, they had thrived as they had never thriven under any other’s care. He had proved himself so adept at manipulating them, in fact, that she had almost started to think of them, these intruders on her own torso, as allies, if not quite as friends.

But she was still angry with herself, not to mention him, especially when he tried to tell her “No, no, my wife actually wouldn’t mind—in fact, she’d be thrilled!” And that kind of angry is the last thing you want to be with someone when you’re about to go into battle.

Which is probably why she felt she could blame herself when he was killed that day by a South American insurgent with impenetrable skin who called herself The Marble Jaguar.

She had to go to the funeral. She knew she did. Her breasts knew she did. She had to face Rosalind Furrowes, whose husband she had slept with and possibly killed. She didn’t think she’d be able to look her in the eyes, but standing there with her dead husband between them, she actually found it hard to look away. They both did. Just kept staring at each other. Not angry, even. Not even hostile. No negativity at all.

She was surprised she even managed to get out of there unscathed, but she tried to put the whole thing behind her by letting one of those idiots from her first platoon marry her for her chest. His name was Patrick Langley and he was going into politics, where it helps to have a “hot young wife”, apparently.

But she didn’t like it, and none of the other wives liked her. Her breasts felt too engaged, too much under fire, and she felt too restless, so she used her serum-induced super-strength to strong-arm her way into a job in construction. This was frowned upon, as her breasts could hardly be seen under a jumpsuit, and their number one fan objected strongly. Fights ensued.

She had almost found the courage to leave him when Rosalind Furrowes showed up on her doorstep and said “I know you slept with my husband.”

This was supposed to be earth-shattering. This was supposed to be the start of a fist-fight, at least according to the mores of the other politicians’ wives. So why was Rosalind smiling through tears?

She soon explained that while she had always adored Gabriel Hammond, she was more moved that he loved her and realized too late that she didn’t feel quite the same way. But she loved the way he spoke to her and about her, and she loved hearing him talk about the Amazonian woman he went to boot camp with. So she, even as his wife, expected him to sleep with this other woman, and was glad that she acquiesced.

Hearing the wife of the man she had loved tell her what he had said about her, Tamora felt a whirlpool of conflicting emotions and soon realized that the only one that really mattered was the realization that both she and Rosalind had each fallen in love with the other, based entirely on Gabriel’s description. This was weird, but as undeniable as the way she now felt about Rosalind.

The divorce was ugly. Congressman Langley was forced to drudge up the affair she’d had with Hammond while still enlisted to change her discharge to dishonorable, but by then she was just relieved to be rid of him. Harder was her transition to the Hammond-Furrowes household, earning the trust and love of Gabriel’s two daughters, whose respective nascent adolescences served to remind Tamora of the issues she had always had with her own body.

But she didn’t have those issues anymore. Rosalind had cured them, had, with tender loving care, reconciled her mamaries and made friendship out of scorn.

She was, however, also the one who found the lump.

How do you pay for cancer, when you’ve been dishonorably discharged from the military? When you gave your husband the quickest possible divorce to avoid the press just so you could be with the woman you love? And Rosalind’s insurance couldn’t even cover it, because their relationship wasn’t even recognized in that state.

Maybe she could have sued the government, the military, but there was no way to prove that the serum used on her even existed, given its classified nature, let alone that it had in any way caused her condition—even though she was not by far the only one experimented on who developed complications.

Unable to afford chemotherapy, she found her only option was a double mastectomy, but they didn’t even have the funds for that kind of operation, the state of healthcare being as it was. What she did have was a katana, a bottle of bourbon and the heart of a marine.

Now, thirty-four and the flat-chested envy of her twenty-year-old self, she fights for a cure (rather than mere treatments), for affordable healthcare and for gay rights.

Having carved off her own breasts to continue fighting injustice, Tamora Thomas has at last become The Amazon.

The AfterLife of Andrew Thane

There are things that he knows and there are things that he cannot remember.

One of the things that he knows is that his name is Andrew Thane. This is, perhaps, the very pillar of his identity—without that, it’s quite possible he would soon forget that there was even a “him” to dwell on. He knows his name despite the fact that he cannot remember anyone, himself included, ever uttering it aloud.

Alongside his name—or not far behind, at any rate—he holds in his mind an image of himself. That, too, is a part of his identity—but can he trust it? He does not recall ever having seen himself in a mirror. Sometimes his eyes in his mind are somewhat green, but sometimes they’re darker, when he thinks of them. So which is it? He does not remember.

He does know for sure the building he lives in. It’s called the Leverett Building and it’s located at the intersection of Stonestreet Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue in the small town of Trinity’s Field, NC. He knows this, but he doesn’t really think about it all that much; it’s really just context for him so he can follow along in other people’s conversations. If someone were to ask him what the name was of the building, or where it was located, he would probably struggle to come up with the answer. But then again, if anyone asked him anything, it would come as an impossible surprise, and he probably wouldn’t be able to give any kind of answer at all.

Andrew Thane knows in his heart that he cannot leave the building. Bad things will happen to him, he is sure of it. But he can’t remember having been told that and he certainly can’t remember having ever tried.

He knows the layout of the Leverett Building, from the basement to the top, how all of the apartments are arranged with the laundry facilities and boiler room at the bottom, and even the roof, though he does not often go there. The only place where he sometimes gets confused is apartments 23 and 24 on the second floor: he can never remember right where the wall is that separates the two domiciles. It is as if he knew once, but then they changed it and he got confused—but he can’t remember them changing it. And unless he is right there, seeing how it is now and being confused that it’s different, he can’t remember how it was back then. Even then, he can’t remember, but only imagine and know he is right.

He even knows the people in the building, from Philip Mulberry, who owns most of the properties, to the Han and Mishkin families, to the old man living on the first floor who doesn’t like to talk to anyone, to Michael Morton living in apartment 31. He doesn’t know Michael Morton well. Apartment 32 is abandoned and he tries not to go there or even approach it. He can’t remember why…

He knows all the people who live in the building, and always has, but apartment 16 is empty and it hasn’t always been, like 32. It is recently vacated. Who lived there before? Just now? A family, perhaps? A couple? Two or three roommates bound by only circumstances? He can’t remember. The paint from the retouching isn’t even dry, the freezer isn’t even thawed out, but he has already forgotten them. They are no longer a part of his world.

Andrew Thane knows what a ghost is. He knows that it’s the spirit and even the consciousness of a person who has died that lingers in the world, unable to go on to whatever AfterLife awaits. He suspects that this is what he is, but he cannot be sure. He can’t be sure, because he does not remember dying. But what bothers him more than not being able to remember having died is the thought that he might once have had a life before, a life he can’t remember. It bothers him because if he can’t remember it, he doesn’t even know that it was there. It’s not a part of him.

He knows, too, that they say (though who “they” are is beyond his ken) that there are some people who can see ghosts. If this is true, he does not remember having met any, though if he had, of course, that does not mean he would have remembered.

He can only hope that this is true and hope that one day, perhaps, he might meet them. Perhaps the new tennants who move into 16. Perhaps they will be able to help him remember.

Canceling the Void

It doesn’t register at first
But by the time I realize something’s wrong,
It’s too late to go back and change it.
“I’m sorry,” I tell the customer, “I’m afraid we’re going to have to start
all over from the beginning.”
And I press the button.
“Error,” says the computer. “Your Void has been canceled.”
Something must be wrong. Again; I press it.
“Error,” it repeats. “Your Void has been canceled.”
“But how is that a thing?” I demand, out loud.
How can the Void
Be canceled?

Nature abhors a vacuum, of course.
That’s the reason vacuums work at all.
“There can’t be nothing there,” says nature.
“If there’s nothign to put there, we’ll make something up.”
And so there are twitterings and ditherings in the very Void.
But how can there not be nothing?
If you can’t have nothing, where can you even start?
How dare we cancel the Void?

What were you doing all last year? the man from Manpower asked me.
“I was in Brussels,” I said, “living with my parents,
Taking a year off. Writing.”
“And what did you accomplish?”
“I did a lot of writing.”
“But what did you accomplish?”
The working world abhors a vacuum.
This is how I know I must cancel the void.

Standing here out in front of my register
Feels more demeaning than standing behind it.
“Greet customers,” they tell me.
Commerce abhors a vacuum!
So I beckon them even before they’re ready.
I am a prostitute
Standing at the mouth of her alleyway,
Beckoning, “Are you reeeeaaady?”
And when I’ve caught a mark or john
Willing to buy a screw,
I take him back where we can do our business,
Where he can cancel my void,
Filling up my drawers with cash,
Until I finally hand him a note that begs
“Enter me
For a chance to win a five thousand dollar gift card!”

Why am I even here?
I, with my degrees, I with my ambitions.
How did I even get to this place,
Spending four to eight hours a day
Smiling at strangers, to bow and to scrape
For barely enough money to cancel the debt
From my studies, let alone move out of my home.
Let alone invest in my future.
And for what?
This job means less than nothing to me.
Why did I even come here?
I needed a job and this was better than nothing.
I’m just canceling the Void.
But how I so adore a vacuum.

Be a Man

ENZO: Hey! Amice! What’s all the stuff on your porch—Holy fuck. What’s this you’re wearing? Ha?

JORDAN: Oh, nothing, I was just—

ENZO: Nothing? This doesn’t look like nothing, friend, this looks like something, I think. This looks like a whole lotta something!

JORDAN: I didn’t know you were coming.

ENZO: Oh, I see. Well, that makes it all all right, then, doesn’t it?

JORDAN: OK. I’m sorry, but what exactly is “not all right” here?

ENZO: With what you’re wearing?

JORDAN: Uh-huh.

ENZO: Other than the fact that… it’s a dress?

JORDAN: What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with me wearing a dress? In my own house? Huh?

ENZO: Other than the fact that uh… you’re not a woman?

JORDAN: Why does that matter? No, seriously, why does that matter to you?

ENZO: Oh, it makes absolutely no difference to me.

JORDAN: Oh, really? So you’re okay with it?

ENZO: Why shouldn’t I be? But uh… I do think I should ask…


ENZO: Why are you wearing a dress like a woman?

JORDAN: I’m not wearing a dress like a woman, I’m wearing a dress as myself.

ENZO: As yourself?


ENZO: Why?

JORDAN: Because I like it, OK?

ENZO: OK! OK. Suit yourself. Or uh… well, dress yourself, anyway. But you still haven’t answered about the stuff on your porch.

JORDAN: Getting rid of it. Getting rid of all the negativity out of my life.

ENZO: By wearing a dress?

JORDAN: By doing what I want, for my reasons.

ENZO: You think that will make you happy?

JORDAN: I do, actually, thank you.

ENZO: You know, you’re never going to get a girlfriend, wearing that thing.

JORDAN: Honestly, if a girl doesn’t want me when I’m wearing this dress, then she doesn’t really want me.

ENZO: As long as we’re clear on that.

JORDAN: And as long as we’re being clear, let’s be clear on someting else, too: not all women conform to your patriarchal heteronormative bullshit.

ENZO: Fair enough. I wish you luck finding such a girl.

JORDAN: Sometimes, I just want to punc—

ENZO: Are you really getting rid of that DVD-player?

JORDAN: It doesn’t work.

ENZO: You’ve tried fixing it?

JORDAN: I have another one—look, if you want it, you’re welcome to try it out.

ENZO: It just seems to me like change is a way of giving up. You know? You’ve never been able to make your life work as a man, so what? You’re going to try to be a woman.

JORDAN: Oh my God, you think you’re so smart. Look, again, I am not trying to be a woman! This is not a gender transition. This is me, as a man, wearing a dress.

ENZO: Men don’t wear dresses.

JORDAN: Watch me.

ENZO: I have been. You look ridiculous.

JORDAN: I didn’t ask you!

ENZO: Well, actually, you just did. What? You want to fight? You want to fight me? Girl?

JORDAN: I’m not going to fight you.

ENZO: Is it because you’re a girl?

JORDAN: Holy fuck, I am not a girl—

ENZO: No, no, I understand. You would feel guilty hitting me because I’m not allowed to hit back, I understand.

JORDAN: You are enjoying this entirely too much.

ENZO: Am I not supposed to enjoy my good friend discovering these things about himself?

JORDAN: Oh, don’t do that.

ENZO: What? What did I do?

JORDAN: I know you. You… Forget it.

ENZO: I see. You want me to be serious. Because you are so serious, too, in your dress. Oh, yes! You know, I have always liked the word “brandish”, but as you see, I am an unarmed man. Fine, you want me to be serious? I am concerned. Not because you are any kind of abomination, I don’t believe in these things—I am concerned because I do not think you know what you want.

JORDAN: How would you know what I want?

ENZO: I know you, Jordan. You are not this person. You may want to be, but you do not have the stamina. You have a good heart and trust the world too much. This dress you wear, this is a challenge to the world—the whole world, Jordan! You will not be content just to argue with me. But you will not win against the world. Not even in the heart of a woman you want.

JORDAN: Let me get this straight. You’re telling me… I’m not man enough to pull off this dress?

ENZO: This is exactly what I’m saying.

JORDAN: Bring it on.

Trinity’s Field

How the fuck did I get here?

There is something seriously wrong with this town and somehow nobody seems to get it.

Pick up a map. Find the U.S. on a world map. I’ll wait. Now find North Carolina. If you can’t find it on the world, get a U.S. map. OK, now get a map of North Carolina. Get a really detailed map of North Carolina. Look for “Trinity’s Field”. Can you find it?

No, I’m not talking about Trinity, NC. Some of the locals here like to call it that, but I’ve been to Trinity, NC, and this ain’t it. Anything official has this place listed as “Trinity’s Field”. But it’s not on any map.

There are maps here, though. There are maps of the city. But none of them make any sense, either. Get one of those maps, it’ll say which way is North, but that doesn’t agree with where the sun is in the sky. Line it up to where North really is, and you’ll notice everything’s even more cattywampus.

Listen to me, I’m starting to sound like them.

Look, it’s not just the maps. OK? It’s everything.

Where do I even begin?

OK, look, I know this is going to sound crazy, but that’s only because it is crazy. This place is crazy.

There are… OK, look, there are things here. What those things are…

There’s a restaurant in town where the employees eat moss. And mulch. Mulch, as in, what you put around trees. It’s disgusting, but I’ve seen it.

There are houses that are actually legitimately haunted. I’ve only actually been to the one on Stonestreet and Magnolia, but I’ve gotten reports from all over town.

There’s a cult living inside a city block right in the middle of town, in a building with no windows, and I’m about ninety percent sure that they’re all aliens.

I hear there’s a drug dealer who’s been shot to death nine times. Well, murdered nine times. One time he was hit by a semi. One time he was completely dismembered by a jealous ex or something. He appears to be at least ninety years old (from the pictures) but looks younger than twenty-five.

There’s a woman on Ann Street who lives in a house that’s been in her name since the town was founded.

There’s a bar run by vampires.

Don’t tell me I lost you at vampires?

I think there might be werewolves here, too, but no one talks about them.

In a cul-de-sac down in Primrose Crescent, on Amethyst Place, there are five families who I think are probably behind the whole thing. Or at least in on it. I don’t know. I suck at this. I’m not an investigative reporter. Not like you.

When it rains, sometimes there are whispers. Sometimes I believe what they say.

Look, I know we’ve had our differences. I know you didn’t want me to come down here, but don’t you understand, I’m onto something! I know it started with my sister, but Jake, this is so much bigger than that. There is so much more going on. And I could really use you down here. Please.


She seemed normal to him. There wasn’t really anything all that special about her, that he could tell. Maybe if she’d looked different. Maybe if her eyes had been blue instead of the dull brown, maybe if her hair was just a couple shades darker, her skin lighter, she might have looked like something. And she was quiet. She didn’t really talk much and when she did, she seemed to struggle for words one minute and then come gushing out with complex poetic language patterns the next, as if those were all she could muster, like she couldn’t talk like a normal person.

But he’d asked her out anyway. Maybe because he felt sorry for her. Maybe because he felt sorry for himself. He was lonely and she seemed to have a quiet kind of appeal.

—Do you like the pasta? she asked him, and he nodded and offered her a bite. She had ordered a chicken thing, something with quaint presentation, but said she liked his better.

He wondered casually as she moaned her appreciation with his fork still in her mouth, whether he would get lucky tonight. He wondered even more urgently whether getting lucky tonight was even something that he would enjoy, whether he could stand it. Could he ever appreciate this girl who probably deserved better than his scorn, or would he be too caught up in his own memories?

“L’addition, s’il vous plaît?” He paid their meal just a few moments later and escorted her back out into the cold Brussels winter, towards the metro.

The night air bit hard after the warmth of the restaurant, its jaws squeezing the shawl around his neck so hard he could almost feel its teeth.

—You’re not cold? he asked her, his concern genuine although he wasn’t sure what he could do with her answer.

She shivered in response, but it seemed like an afterthought, like he’d reminded her of the cold with the question, which made him wonder if the answer would have been different if the question hadn’t been posed.

—Does it bother you, she asked him, the color of the sky?

He looked up. The sky is always red in downtown Brussels.

—It’s the lights, he said. They say Belgium is the brightest country in the world.

—It’s not just the lights, though, she darkened.

Just then, on Arenberg, where the gallery looked out on the little side-street behind the theatre at the Mort Subite, there was a toussle, a rustling sound like someone was sifting through a garbage can of broken glass. It caught her attention.

—If it’s not the lights, he asked, ignoring the sound, then what—

—Did you hear that? she interrupted.

Was she changing the subject?

—I hear something, but… It was just the sound of Brussels, what did she want?

—No, but listen, she said.

The sound came again, but this time there was more to it, there were layers that didn’t quite fit together, there was a chaffing sound with something underneath, a faint sucking, but they didn’t make sense together.

He told himself it was her safety he was concerned for when he took her by the hand and said

—Come on, let’s get out of here.

But she pulled back her hand and held up a finger to wait.

Who is this girl? he found himself thinking.

She went towards the sound, into the dark area behind the Monnaie, where a capsized trashcan seemed to wiggle. A squirrel? A squirrel couldn’t do this, and certainly not a pigeon. It must have been a cat or a small dog.

—Cathérine… He went for her hand again, when suddenly the creature emerged.

At first, all he could see were hairy tendrils that wrapped themselves along the edge of the can. What were they? Tentacles? But then he saw its face. That was not a face that belonged on Earth. Maybe at the very bottom of the ocean, but not here on the surface.

—But what is that? he found himself asking. He hadn’t been asking her, as such, but she answered.

—I don’t know… As though she felt that she should. As though she was making a decision to get to the bottom of this.

Another moment and he’d have looked at her and maybe asked her <<Who are you?>> incredulously, but he didn’t have the chance. There was a jungle-sound, like a warbling screech that didn’t belong on a city street this side of civilization, and the thing launched itself at them. He couldn’t tell how, he could tell what it used to leap, but he wasn’t paying attention, was he? He was too preoccupied with this thing that couldn’t exist, and how despite the fact that it couldn’t exist, here it was not just existing but flying through the air at—

Cathérine raised her arms and a blue flame appeared out of nowhere. He couldn’t even tell what direction it was coming from, it just wrapped itself around the creature, suspending it in midair. Cathérine still had her hands up and she waved one like she was throwing a ball in slow-motion, and the blue flames seemed to disappear inside the creature and turn it to ice.

It fell, but she caught it. She caught it with her bare hands, this ice sculpture. He was so shocked by the gesture, it took him a moment to wonder at how small it now seemed, no bigger than a football—smaller, even—until you saw the appendages coming out behind it, like something between a tentacle and a leg. What was this thing?

—Who are you? he asked her, and she steeled herself.

—I have to get home.

—Who are you? He caught her arm.

She looked into his eyes and for the first time, he felt like he was truly seeing her. There was something there, behind the brown—like they were contact lenses, and the true blue was finally showing.

—I have to go, she told him. I’m sorry, but I can’t let you walk me home.

It wasn’t till she said that that he asked himself if he even wanted to, if that would even be wise. So he let go of her arm.

—I’ll contact you, she promised, not that she’d call, not like this was still just a date. Then she headed for the shadows, leaving him to languish in a suddenly alien world.

The Definition of Terms



ANDREA: So. That happened.

ADRIAN: I noticed. I was there.

ANDREA: Were you, though?


ANDREA: Imagine that.

ADRIAN: Imagining it. That was fun.


ADRIAN: Yeah. Why—didn’t you…

ANDREA: I mean…

ADRIAN: Oh, God.

ANDREA: I mean, didn’t not—

ADRIAN: Shit, I’m sorry—

ANDREA: No, please. Shit. Geez.

ADRIAN: I just wish that… you know…

ANDREA: Don’t worry about it.

ADRIAN: Should we talk about it?


ADRIAN: I mean, isn’t that a thing? That people, you know…

ANDREA: Sometimes.

ADRIAN: So you don’t?

ANDREA: Do you?

ADRIAN: How did we get here?

ANDREA: You mean last night?

ADRIAN: I guess we could start there.

ANDREA: You don’t wanna start there?

ADRIAN: How do you feel about me?

ANDREA: You first. See? Not so easy, is it?

ADRIAN: I mean, I like you.


ADRIAN: But what does that even mean, right?

ANDREA: Of course.

ADRIAN: Do you like me?



ANDREA: Does that help?


ANDREA: So what do you want to talk about?

ADRIAN: You really didn’t enjoy it?

ANDREA: Why does that matter to you?

ADRIAN: Wasn’t it your first time?

ANDREA: More or less.

ADRIAN: What’s that supposed to mean?

ANDREA: I mean, I’ve been with a girl.

ADRIAN: Wait, what?

ANDREA: You didn’t know that?


ANDREA: Does that matter to you?

ADRIAN: I mean… but that’s different, though, right?

ANDREA: Not really.



ADRIAN: Are you serious?

ANDREA: Why should it be different?

ADRIAN: How can it possibly be the same?

ANDREA: Oh, come on, are you really that superficial?

ADRIAN: So there are differences?


ADRIAN: Deep down, it’s the same, but there are superficial differences?

ANDREA: Are you serious?

ADRIAN: Am I wrong? Help me out here.

ANDREA: Why does it matter to you?

ADRIAN: I don’t know. I just feel like…

ANDREA: You feel responsible.


ANDREA: Oh, come on. Seriously?

ADRIAN: Why shouldn’t I?

ANDREA: Well, for starters, it’s not your body.

ADRIAN: That’s not what I meant. Look—

ANDREA: Then what did you mean?

ADRIAN: I care about you.

ANDREA: Do you?

ADRIAN: Isn’t that what I just said? Isn’t that what I’ve been saying?

ANDREA: Well, I’m telling you not to worry about it. You’re still worrying about it.

ADRIAN: I mean—

ANDREA: Why do you care? I said it was fine.

ADRIAN: What happens next?


ADRIAN: With us.


ADRIAN: Come on. I just… I need to know. You owe me that.

ANDREA: I owe you?

ADRIAN: Don’t you? Weren’t you the one who said that happened? It did happen, didn’t it? So what’s next?

ANDREA: What do you want to be next? You want me to be your girlfriend?

ADRIAN: Is that what you want?

ANDREA: Jesus Chr—I asked you first!

ADRIAN: I asked you first how you feel about this!

ANDREA: Yeah, and I answered.

ADRIAN: No, you didn’t. Well… not… Am I making you uncomfortable?

ANDREA: I just don’t want to put a label on this.

ADRIAN: On what?

ANDREA: On this.

ADRIAN: On our relationship.

ANDREA: This is not a relationship.

ADRIAN: Bullshit. No, I’m sorry, we are two people having the latest in a series of emotionally charged discussions, if that doesn’t qualify as a relationship, then just… fucking English language.

ANDREA: Fine. Our “relationship”. But can we just…

ADRIAN: Are we friends, at least?


ADRIAN: Friends with benefits? What?

ANDREA: I just don’t…

ADRIAN: Because you didn’t enjoy it?

ANDREA: I mean, I didn’t not enjoy it.

ADRIAN: But you don’t want to do it again?

ANDREA: Why do I have to make that decision now?

ADRIAN: You don’t want to talk, you don’t want to make a decision. Maybe I should just go.

ANDREA: Wait. Why can’t we just…

ADRIAN: What do you want from me?

ANDREA: Can’t we just hang out?

ADRIAN: As friends?

ANDREA: As friends.

ADRIAN: Are you saying it was a mistake?

ANDREA: I don’t know. Are you?

ADRIAN: I enjoyed it.


ADRIAN: I enjoyed it and you didn’t.

ANDREA: Oh my God. Is it—I mean, is it like a macho thing? Like you have to prove to yourself that you’re a man—

ADRIAN: It’s not about being “a man”. I like you. I like you and… I just want you to enjoy… Are you a lesbian?


ADRIAN: Are you sure?

ANDREA: I… I mean, I’m bi, but—

ADRIAN: Are you sure?

ANDREA: Pretty sure, yeah.

ADRIAN: Even though you’ve never… enjoyed…

ANDREA: I’m kind of surprised it took you that long to get there.

ADRIAN: I just didn’t want to think about it—but you’re not?


ADRIAN: I want you to want to have sex with me. Again. That’s why I care so much.

ANDREA: Because you want to have sex with me again?



ADRIAN: … Because I enjoyed it?


ADRIAN: I don’t…

ANDREA: Are you in love with me? Why do you want to have sex with me?

ADRIAN: Because I enjoyed it!

ANDREA: Why did you want to have sex with me in the first place? Was it because you thought I was hot? See, this is not a relationship. This is why I didn’t want to talk about it.

ADRIAN: Why did you want to have sex with me?

ANDREA: I didn’t. Oh, come on, stop that. I already said, I didn’t not want to do it. I just didn’t…

ADRIAN: You didn’t say no.

ANDREA: Exactly. I just didn’t say no.

ADRIAN: But you didn’t say yes, either, did you?

ANDREA: Is that what’s been bothering you?

ADRIAN: Why the fuck would that not bother me? What kind of fucking person would I be if that didn’t fucking bother me?

ANDREA: Can we be clear about this? What happened was not a rape. I’m just gonna go ahead and just lay that out. If it had been, first of all, I wouldn’t be defending you to yourself, and I sure as fuck wouldn’t have tried to keep yoou here when you were talking about leaving. In fact, I probably would’ve left myself to get campus security. You did not rape me just because I didn’t give you verbal consent, so if that’s what’s bothering you, you can just not, ‘cause I don’t care, that’s not a thing. Forget it. But I’d be lying if I said it was something that I wanted—I guess maybe in the moment, but like… anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

ADRIAN: How the hell is that supposed to make me feel?

ANDREA: I don’t care how it makes you feel, that’s how I feel.

ADRIAN: You say you wanted it in the moment?

ANDREA: Do we have to talk about this right now?

ADRIAN: If I’m going to stay here, yes. Were you… what, curious?

ANDREA: “Carried away.” That’s more how I’d put it. Think of it as a compliment to your… whatever.

ADRIAN: Am I a substitute?


ADRIAN: You didn’t… not like it, didn’t think it was… bad? And you obviously don’t dislike me. Yet. Is there something there that we can…

ANDREA: Not if you keep talking about it. Can we please just put on the TV?