PAIGE ANDERS CHRONICLES – 2

Fuck!” I exclaimed loudly, almost dropping the burger flat to the floor.

Tommy looked at me with searing eyes. The old grump crossed his arms and gave me a smirk, clearly proud of what he had just accomplished. My other customer just stared from the booth, eyes wide.

Tommy turned back to the grump and whispered something while giving him a quick pat on the back. His turned his attention back on me, closing the distance with a restrained walk while grinding his teeth.

I gathered my composure and then tossed the burger to the man in the booth. He looked at it warily. Onions had fallen off the patty to the plate during the whole scene.

I gave him a curteous smile and said, “Sorry about that. We can make another if you’d–” but the man brushed me off and gather edhis coat.

No thanks,” he muttered. “That old man was right about this place.”

Sir, would you like….” Tommy’s wirey voice stated from behind me, but the man waved him off and continued out the door.

I watched him go then casually slid into the booth, pretending that Tommy’s eyes weren’t trying to bore through my skull. I took the basket and started eating some of the fries, balancing a bit of greasy onion on a few.

Tommy sighed loudly and slid in across from me. I sighed back, waiting for a reaction but he just stared through those ridiculous round glasses. I gave him a once over, secrectly glad he at least decided to not wear his fedora today. The skinny jeans with suspenders was enough. Sometimes I thought he dressed that way to make up for his lack of hair.

Paige, Paige, Paige, “ his voice dwindled. “What are we to do with you.”

Jane made it wrong, “ I snapped. “You can’t blame me for that.”

Tommy cocked his head. “True, true. But what about serving the coffee or that little offensive blurb you let out a bit ago? Hmm?” He pushed his glasses up his nose. I hate that habit.

I finished off the fries, giving no reply.

And the woman yesterday that complained about your attitude? Or the man last week that said you spat in his food because he said he liked Coldplay?”

I chuckled. That guy needed a wake up call.

Tommy let out a long sigh. “See that’s just the problem with you. You don’t care about anyone but yourself.”

I kept my eyes trained on the vinyl booth behind him, not daring to look up. I had heard this one too many times before. You would think at some point I might actually listen, but there was just something wrong in the way everybody said it. What was so wrong in being selfish sometimes? So what that I cared a little more about myself than others.

Tommy snapped his fingers in my face. “Hey, Paige. I’m trying to talk to you – to understand – but you’re not helping me here.” He bit his lower lip. “I think I’m going to have to fire you.”

I finally turned to him, more amused by his choice of words than the true weight of them. I think, that is how Tommy would phrase such a thing. He squirmed in his seat, moving his hands from the table to his face. I watched as the discomfort rose in the form of small bumps radiating on his neck.

Jesus Christ, Tommy. Are you getting hives from this?” I said, suddenly alarmed.

Maybe,” he mumbled and began scratching furiously at his neck. Clearly half firing someone was even too stressful. Tommy might really be the delicate man I had ever known. How had this guy ever come to run a restaurant?

Okay.” I stood up and began taking off my apron. I ran my fingers across the border then tossed it to him. “I will save you the trouble. I quit.”

Tommy gave a slight nod, as if he considered this option and began folding the apron. “I’ll have your last paycheck tomorrow. Just come by around one.”

I grinned and squeezed him on the shoulder. He gave one last somber look as I walked towards the door. I saw Jane standing in the kitchen door way shaking her head. I waved, knowing we would talk later.

I could not have asked for better timing. Not having a job would only lend itself to more time to plan. In some strange way I owed the grump a thank you. Easy stuff, I repeated the phrase in my head. That’s all I had to keep telling myself. Killing a man could be easy, right?

SUMMER RAIN

Summer comes roaring.
The clouds swell,
pregnant with moisture.
White streaks lick at the ground.
A warning.

Trees have blossomed
spreading their green hands high.
They wait,
as the sun takes cover
and thunder continues to rumble.

Sweeping through the limbs,
the wind begins to whistle.
There is static in the air.
A creeping tension.

First just a patter,
so gentle and light.
Then the sky releases
a powerful fury.
And the ground absorbs
every
merciful
drop.

PAIGE ANDERS CHRONICLES – ONE

What did he say?” Janet’s face suddenly loomed between the stainless steel counter and shelf. Her eyes were wide, larger than normal with her hair tucked into a cap.
I shook my head. “Nothing you need to know. I split the order ticket and slipped it over to her. “Don’t put onions on that burger. The guy is allergic.”
Come on, don’t avoid the subject.” Janet smirked, her upper lip curling in that distasteful smile. Why did I always tell her my secrets?
I clicked my tongue and tossed my hair over my shoulders. “He said he’d do it. ‘Easy stuff.’ Says it’s actually a pretty regular request.
Janet’s jaw dropped open and she gave a little yelp. “Really? Boy, I would never…” She dwindled off, her thoughts gravitating in that little head of hers.
Hey!” An old man appeared just inside the swinging doors, his face crude and unshaven. “I’ve been waiting fifteen minutes out there just to get a cup of coffee. Do you think that’s a possibility or what?” Spit flew from his mouth as he spoke.
Sorry about that, sir.” I replied, forcing a smile. “I’ll be right out.”
Good,” he grunted, swinging the door hard behind him.
I rolled my eyes and took a seat on the old wooden chair we leave in the kitchen for breaks.
Aren’t you going to help him?” asked Janet, the sound of popping grease started to fill the room.
That grump can help himself.”
Janet laughed. “Just hope that Tommy doesn’t walk in. I’m sure you remember what happened last time, “she added with a serious undertone.
I shrugged. Tommy was as horrible a manager as she was a waitress. I sat back and pulled my cell out, maniacally scrolling through my friend’s latest updates.
So that’s it. You’re really going to do this?” Janet peeked back through the counter. “Don’t you think, you know, there are other ways?”
I shrugged. “It’s gotta be done. Easy stuff,” I repeated with a grin.
Hmph!” I heard the rattle of a basket and paper as she plopped the burger in. I stood up to retrieve it, happy that at least would have one satisfied customer when I walked back out. Maybe even a decent tip for once.
Janet range the bell giving me a sharp look then slid the order over. I hated that damn bell and she knew it. As I grabbed for the basket, she kept her hold firm on the other side until I finally looked up at her. “Just remember,” she said in a low tone, “once it’s done, there is no coming back from it.”

I pinched my lips and gave her a slim nod. Janet may be nosy, but she was always looking out for me. I often wondered what I would doing if she had never moved in next to me. Probably still laying on my couch waiting for my mother to call. A few bottles on the floor, a few pills down my throat. 

She let go of the basket and turned back into the kitchen, giving out a loud sigh.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I can handle it. One more week and it will all be over. I promise.”

She looked up and gave a a weak smile. “I hope so.”

I left the counter, feeling somewhat better about our conversation.  It wasn’t until I had crossed through the double doors back into the main room that I realized the burger had onions on it. And the grump was talking to Tommy.

AGE

I caught my reflection today.
The face was older than I remembered.
Lines stretched from corners.
And blotchy dots lie just below the surface.
I think what startled me most were the eyes.
Coarse, green circles that seemed to bore right into me.
There was still quite a bit of light to them.
But age had altered them, too.
It’s a funny thing,
my reflection.
My body continues to become defunct and rigid.
But my mind feels as though it has grown younger
and vivid.

MESA VERDE CAMPFIRE STORY

(This was for a hitrecord.org challenge to write a campfire story in regards to our National Park system.)

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a bill creating Mesa Verde National Park. Situated in Southwestern Colorado, the park houses handfuls of canyons that cut the through the dry mesa revealing the ancient clay cliff dwellings that are built into its sides. Although varying in size, none of the structures come short of extraordinary. The limits of construction and accessibility to create these hidden Ancestral Puebloan palaces is wonder of its own to observe.

Guided by park officials, you can walk through the abandoned abodes, manageable only through a series of ladders and steep canyon ledges. And yet, as you pass through the key-holed doorways and circle the ceremonial Kivas, one tends to get the feeling that another may be watching, hidden within the dark caverns that you don’t explore.

There are many theories as to why Ancestral Puebloans left their skillful and strategic homes. Though it is called Mesa Verde, green is far from the color you see when exploring this park. Overrun with mountain shrubs, junipers, and pinyon pines, the mesa appears to thirst for water. Is that what drove the people away?

Or is there another reason? Evidence shows that many of the “spiritual doorway” of the dwellings had been sealed shut and even Kivas burned. Was there something these people sought to destroy or escape from but found the only way out was to leave? Perhaps fear drove them out of these magnificent homes? And if that’s true, could this dark spirit still remain among the ruins?

Some say to never stay close to the canyon’s edge on a full moon’s night. For when the moonlight crosses the doorways left unsealed, something shadowy rises from beneath it. Upwards, it climbs the vertical walls, clinging to the gasping roots that sprout from the clay. They say it seeks the living to partake in a drink of the soul.

The unsuspecting are always the first to be caught in its murky haze. Left paralyzed by the darkness, they surrender to the spirit, joining it to forever dwell in maze of caverns below the solid ground. Never again to look upon the face of the sun.

FREE

I feel absolutely reckless.
Light and
overjoyed.

A crazy energy is pulsing.
Vibrating thoughts.
Exciting me.

It has been a long while since
I felt this.
But I remember it and
embrace it.

A shine in my eyes,
a hum in my voice.
Free.

I CAN’T GO ON WITHOUT YOU – Kaleo

Kaleo is a young Icelandic band who released their first album, A/B, last year. This blues/rock album is filled with beautifully executed tunes, stressing the smooth weight of lead singer JJ Juliusson’s voice and the charismatic playing of lead guitarist Rubin Pollock. (Not to downplay Daniel (Bass) or David (Percussion), who are also both amazing musicians!) The soul that this band brings into their music is fantastic. I feel like they have poured their hearts into the album, charging each song emotionally and building a collection that is wonderful to listen through.

That is one of the many reasons it was so hard to pick just one song to write about. But I feel like “I Can’t Go On Without You” is a good representation of what Kaleo is and has to offer.

“I Can’t Go On Without You” starts quietly – a few strums on the guitar followed by an eerie whistle. Long, high-pitched tones begin to whale from the lead to accompany the sound, emphasizing a feeling of anticipation. Then JJ begins telling us a story – a man and woman who thought they were in love.

Within the first verse we learn that the woman has fell out of that love. Nobody wants that. And though he tries, he cannot go on living his life without her. JJ’s stress on the “can’t” is very powerful, cracking at the top as if he truly means it.

It’s here that we introduce another element to the building song – the guitar hitting low-echoed tones that almost remind me of the way that music sounds under water. The sound is deep, often putting chills down my spine. Coupled with JJ’s aching voice makes it that much more awesome.

As the song continues, the lyrics appear to reveal that the woman was involved in an affair, hinted by the shame he feels when he thinks of her. They break up, but he continues to think about her, so many “thoughts that cross [his] mind.” He is still in love with her, even though she has left him a “broken man.” His life has been left in pieces as he struggles to live without her.

The music grows with this emotion, gradually getting more chaotic and powerful, with a few quiet, reflective moments in between. Each time JJ comes back stronger and louder in the chorus, pushing the words across the sound. Strings join in on the pain and the lead guitar takes off a few times, grasping the desperate, wasted feeling of the song.

I had the amazing opportunity to see this band towards the end of last year. I was twenty feet from the stage and this was the first song they chose to play. I remember closing my eyes and just listening – and it was one of my favorite concert experiences to date. If these guys come by – don’t miss them. You will regret it.

Please take a listen and check out the official music video here. Don’t forget to check out the full lyrics below.

Enjoy!

_________________________________________________________________

“I Can’t Go On Without You” by Kaleo

Well they thought they were made for each other
One thinking of one another
Never thinking just for one second
She would take a different attraction

We don’t want that
We don’t want that
We don’t want that
Oh no
[x2]

I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you
Can’t go on without you, yeah
I can’t go on without you

Oh so, what’s the point in breaking my sweet heart?
She wanted me to let down my guard
Well, you know what they say, it’s better that way
So, so you better hush and walk away

We don’t want that
We don’t want that
We don’t want that
Oh no
[x2]

I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh lord
Can’t go on without you, ooh ooh
I can’t go on, won’t go on, living on, without you

Where was I supposed to wait for you sweetheart?
And hide away the shame
Yes I keep it all inside, all the thought that cross my mind
I do all the things I regret and we don’t want that

We don’t want that
We don’t want that
We don’t want that
Oh no
[x2]

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh lord
Go on without you, ooh ooh
I can’t go on without you babe
Yeah

Ahh, she loves me
She loves me not
She loves me
My love’s gon’ love me

Oh so what is left but a broken man?
Cause nothing hurts like a woman can

I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh yeah
Can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh
Oh without you lord, without you
Without you babe
Oh lord
You