An Adams Hall Survivor

Skip Perterkin had been in the dorms at New Mexico A&M only a week, but for Skip it seemed like longer. He was already missing his family and his home. Skip had never been away from home longer than six days when he went to Cloud Country, a summer camp fifty miles from his home town of Lovington. Now, he was living in Las Cruces, a city eight times the size of Lovington. And despite all the extra people Skip felt more alone that he ever had in his life.
He was a freshman and boarding in Adams Hall, a three floor prison like dorm. In fact, he heard that Adams Hall was designed by a dead white guy, who designed a prison in El Paso, some forty miles away.

Skip’s roommate, Chad Parker, who Skip both envied and despised, was sitting on the bed next to his. Chad was reading the latest Sports Illustrated with Randy Moss on the cover which he thieved from the New Mexico State library. Chad told Skip that he had played sports in high school, but when Skip asked him if he was going to go out for any of the sports teams this year, Chad snorted and shook it off. “I’ll probably join a frat,” Chad said thumbing through the SI. “I’ve got a buddy who’s going to rush me into Lamda Chi Alpha.”

Skip was pretty sure he wasn’t going to get a bid from any of the eight fraternities on campus. On Saturday he went to a Lamda Chi party with Chad. He didn’t understand it and didn’t have the money to learn about it.

“How bout you,” Chad said, “you gonna pledge?”

Chad didn’t want, and didn’t have to wait for an answer from Skip. He knew Skip wasn’t going to get a bid. Skip was shy and only talked to one of the girls at the party, one he recognized from his Econ class. Mostly he paced the party looking down when guys asked him the same questions: Where you from? What’s your major?

Chad went on flipping through the pages of his magazine. The phone rang, like it did when Chad was in the room. It was for him, of course, but he motioned for Skip to pick it up, which he did only because he was sitting at his desk, where he had wired a second phone.

“Yeah, Chad. What the in the hell ya doing?” the voice said for Chad to hear.
“Hold on a second … Chad,” Skip said looking at his roommate who was pretending to read an article.”
“Yeah?” he said finally looking up. “Who is it?”

Skip didn’t answer and the two looked at each other for a moment. He finally closed his eyes and raised his eyebrows to show the sign that he didn’t care and he wasn’t going to bother to ask. Chad picked up the phone that was hanging on the wall above his head before Skip hung up.
Skip pulled out some papers from a binder he had in his backpack. He pulled out his Economics book and looked at the reading he was supposed to do by tomorrow. “Macroeconomics, an Introduction into the world of Economics.” Suddenly, he lost interest, but he didn’t have anything else to do, so he’d read it. He didn’t want to appear like a nerd in front of Chad, who was busy making plans for the evening, but he was here to go to school.

Chad hung up the phone. He put the Sports Illustrated on his nightstand, turned off the light above the bed and said, “I’m going to Shap’s.” He slammed the door shut, which rattled Skip’s CD’s and then left a silence. Skip didn’t like Shap, Tom Shap, from the first time he met him. Tom Shap was a slimy guy and reminded Skip of a guy in a movie he had seen. He was a real shit weasel who wore a white Notre Dame cap and always walked around with a wife-beater on. Skip knew he had money and didn’t understand why anyone with money would dress this way. One day, he saw Shap pull out of the dorm parking lot in a new Toyota truck.

Skip looked at his Macroeconomics book. He flipped through the pages and began comprehending the boring text. Skip liked reading, but not textbooks. Not economics text. He read and understood. He was a fast reader and it didn’t take him long to bust through the 15 pages of text called the Introduction. He didn’t think college was as hard as he thought it would be. Skip was a good student in high school, but hadn’t done well on the standardized tests. He couldn’t get into the schools of his choice, and it wouldn’t matter that he did, his parents couldn’t afford to send him out of state. So, he got a scholarship to NMSU, a school he had visited only once in his life, nine years ago. It wasn’t far from his home, and he didn’t have to go home every weekend, but he could if he wanted to. Lately, he didn’t want to go home, even though he was lonely. He missed his family but he didn’t want it to seem like he didn’t have any friends.
His real friends were in Lovington. They weren’t students like he was and they decided not to go to college. His best friend, Jimmy, enlisted in the army and was shipping out in November. Skip knew the army would be good for Jimmy, who lacked discipline and sometimes got them into trouble. One occasion Jimmy and Skip got caught setting off fireworks around the house of Old Man Marion, who lived down the street from Skip. He liked the old man but sometimes his grumpiness got the best of Jimmy and Jimmy convinced Skip one day to piss off the old timer. The Old Man came out as the two mid-schoolers were running from the smoking firecrackers and followed them down the street. They didn’t run from Marion but walked briskly and walked to Skip’s house. They looked out the window to see disappointed Old Man look at the house, shake his head and return to his home. They thought it was over when they were laughing in Skip’s room that afternoon, but Old Man Marion returned in the evening to pay Skip’s dad a visit.

Skip wasn’t grounded because his parents understood it was Jimmy who was responsible. But; from there on out, they were always suspicious when Skip said he was heading over to Jimmy’s. For the most part Jimmy was a good kid, a good friend. He wasn’t the best student, but that didn’t bother Skip. He wanted the best for Jimmy, whose parents always told him he was an accident.

Signing Off

Years later he would be alone in his home, standing in front of the TV that’s on FOX NEWS, channel 37, basic cable provided by Comcast, watching the world end.

“Man, I sure could go for a cigarette,” Timothy would write on a scratch of paper on top of the wooden entertainment system that housed the sacred box of excitement and information – the television that notified viewers of their own death, during the final News Alert.

Competitant Timothy Edward Endfinder, Eddy as he grew up with, had stopped smoking. He didn’t really want a cigarette, but his body told him otherwise, he needed one. He went to his laptop that was connected wirelessly, usually. He poached free service from his neighbors when he could, but this day, the last day of existence, he got the message that no wireless networks were found in range. Fuck. He couldn’t write a last blog. He couldn’t get his last thoughts down on his laptop, his friend, his communication to the world. Instead, he had scratch paper and he had already used it to write his want for a cigarette. It was too late. He couldn’t go out now. Wouldn’t waste his last time on earth seeking out an addiction he had beaten years earlier.

When in college Eddy was a smoker, kind of. He bummed, he bought a pack when he went out. He didn’t really smoke because he thought he’d live a long life. He wasn’t sure, though he suspected, that the world would end this way, so soon. He didn’t suspect that he’d be alone. He wished he wasn’t. But he was and he wished he had a friend, at least a cigarette. When he bought a pack, nights he went out, Eddy had some left over, usually half a pack and they were his friends until they were gone. When he was alone, he could smoke and not be with anyone but himself and that would be OK. Then he quit. It wasn’t hard. He never wanted to smoke in the first place. Smoking was an addiction, became one, and addictions are a funny thing.

He went back to the television and watched Sheppard Smith, on his final broadcast, tell the world what to expect. “Gather,” Shep would say, “around those you love, tell them that you love them, be with them at this time, fellow Americans.” Eddy looked at the screen and told Shep, “I fucking hate you.” Shep had given him bad news before. Not like this. Before, FoxNews told the world that the United States was under attack. That was scary shit. It was September 11th and the U.S. feared the worse. Though nothing more happened after that day besides the scares. There were no more attacks. Then, FoxNews broadcasted the bombings. The United States attacked a nation not responsible. Eddy was angry about that one, but excited just the same. This was big. The U.S. was taking charge.

This was the time that Eddy was the general manager of his college radio station. He had work to do. He ran around the studio, watching the broadcast, but also trying to figure out which songs the station should play, not in relation to the war that had just begun, but what was hot, what he liked at the time. DJ’s were in the station, some watching the bombings broadcast, some not giving a shit. It was so far-a-fucking way. It didn’t matter to them, their lives. It didn’t affect them.

If affected Eddy. His step-dad was in the military. Eddy was vested. His step brothers might loose their dad. His mom, Eddy’s own mother, might loose her husband to combat. And that mattered to him. He had a station to run, so this was only in the back of his mind at the time. Not the front, where he was thinking about passing classes, running the station. Going out that night. For the bright, there’s light, there’s darkness also, virtues and vices. Deeper stronger than those weak and dull. So, Eddy opens another beer. He works on a buzz that he started four hours ago at happy hour. And it’s then the urge to smoke again goes away. There are more important issues to think about.

A moment alone

“Just Breathe,” Charlah said to herself as she closed the door to her bathroom, even though she didn’t have to go. She sat on the toilet without lifting the lid, and then reached behind the tank for her glass pipe. There was still residue in it from the night before, so she struck the Bic she pulled from her pocket. As she inhaled a mouthful, she stood, leaning toward the door making sure the handle was latched, and then flicked the switch for the fan; she exhaled everything in a long strand of smoke. After the smoke was out of her lungs she pushed more air out. Looking up at the fan grinding – metal-on-metal – Charlah made sure the smoke had ventilated before settling on a thought: Who’s coming over? Recall Who: Besides Aunt Beth, who Charlah was living with and her husband Dan, a poor uncle, breathe, her mom would come, but not her sister, Marsha, who had picked studying over a Thanksgiving Dinner with the family, just breathe; Aunt Beth’s neighbors would probably show, Art and Carol, and Carol would bring Sammy, their dog, because Sammy went everywhere, breathe. Charlah felt dizzy and nervous at the same time. She turned off the light because if she wasn’t downstairs Uncle Dan was going to be sent up to look for her and she didn’t want that, breathe; an awkward few seconds with him would ruin Charlah’s appetite, just breathe. Leaning forward with the sink for support, Charlah made sure she was together; she hated company; straightening, she yawned as she did when she was nervous.

Here's a real shitty blog I love

writer run-ins

I've had a few recent run-ins with writers. First, there was Wordstock. I set myself up for that one. I met Richard Ben Cramer who writes non-fiction. Politics. Biographies. Books like that. I read his Joe DiMaggio book and loved it. He read about Isreal and Palestine and had some good ideas about what to do. He'd been there plenty. He was funny, dry, serious and smart. Afterwards, he sat at a table and signed copies of his books. I didn't buy one. Didn't have a reason to talk to him. I walked out of the hall. I saw him later asking a woman which way to the bathroom and I walked with him there. I told him he reminded me of a scene from his DiMaggio book, signing autographs. He reminded me that Joe would put a dot over and under the "i" in his last name. I asked if he had a trick and he said he was no Joe DiMaggio. He thanked me for being a reader.

The next day I returned to Wordstock to see Ivan Doig, Susan Orlean and Alice Sebold followed by Russell Banks. I had read Rule of the Bone by Banks and fell in love with his style. The coming of age book was inspiring, entertaining and a family favorite. My bother introduced it to me and after I was done reading it I gave it to my dad. He took it to Romania, read it, and enjoyed it so much he gave it to me the following Christmas, forgetting the fact that it came from me, originally from my brother. Returning it to my father, it's in his collection. I wanted it again and wanted Banks to sign it. I wasn't disappointed when he read from his new book and probably should have bought it, but I bought Bone again for fun and with a reason to talk to him. I had a chance to visit with him before he read, I recognized him on a balcony of the convention center smoking an American Spirit and talking to a couple of kids who were working the event. I recognized him, but didnt' want to be a star fucker, so I avoided the situation. I was also trying to quit smoking at the time.

Chuck Palahniuk came into Borders last week when I was working. He signed some of his books and I got him "autographed copy" stickers. I talked to him a bit, but I was working and customers kept bothering me. I found out he still has a house in Portland, but lives elsewhere so he can get work done. I didn't tell him about a house in my neighborhoond with a sign out front that reads, "Rules: 1. don't talk about fight club. 2. Don't talk about fight club." I told him I was new to Portland, but I didn't mention that I was a fugitive and a refugee, nor that I have two lives but am still looking for my third. I held off explaining those things, but asked him to personalize his new book, Haunted, for me. He said of course, and wrote: Mister Smith, the keeper of many secrets. The book is fantastic and I wish I told him I wrote poetry.

I was playing darts
with a girlfriend of a guy
this is how it is.

I talk to girls with
guys with issues with myself
my bad? or bad world

Holy shit. I'm it.
I'm the one that has to deal
with reality.

Coffee house conversation

Unsure where to go from here, I sit and look at someone, a girl, who seems to be doing the same thing. On a break from her book, processing what she'd read. I'm tired, but trying to progress, I tell her as much. "Things seem simple and I'm scared that I'm not doing it right, " I lean over and tell her. "I'm not doing enough and that's why there is an ease about this. If I had too much to do, something to fulfill my time, I wouldn't be sitting here scribbling thoughts, I'd be struggling to make matters more."
"Very well," she tells me. "You took a wrong turn somewhere. Chosen a path not yet cleared and are apparently lost."
"But what is lost, really?" I answer back. "And, am I wandering or just exercising possibilities?"
"Don't get lazy on me," she replies as if knowing my work ethic. "This isn't the way it was supposed to be."
"Then, how was is to be by now? Is my uncertainly making me insane or are these questionable times part of a phase of finding?"
"Don't look at me for the answers. I don't seem to be doing much better. Or much at all. Why do you compare yourself to me?"
"You're right. I shouldn't do this." So I stop and now just look at her, not for inspiration, but for fictitious thoughts, sights I store for later. And this makes me feel better.
"I'm just me. Just here and just alone to figure it out, too."
"But you are here with me. If you weren't then who would hear, who will read what I write?"
"It doesn't matter. I speak for myself, and not that much at all."
"But I, I write to be read, to get the words out of my head -- the voice -- onto paper, and for the record. I want you to read. When it's read by others, then I'm heard."
"I will still question what you really mean."
"I know. I wonder myself, if what I'm doing here is time well spent or me just making matters worse."
"Just in time, you will have learned your lines and this won't seem so much like a rehearsal, but the real deal."
And with that, she put her book in her bag and walked outside into the rain. I watched her from the window walk around the corner and on with her life.

She smiled

I stopped typing and caught her eye. She smiled. The corners of my mouth went up for a split second and she looked away. I looked at the screen. She looked at me again and then back down at her book. That was it.

At first look, you're hot;
I see you again and not;
third time and you're mine.

Guess it wasn't meant to be. It's crazy how many times we experience these encounters. Me, all too often with nothing happening. What could have been, but doesn't and most likely shouldn't.

every time I turn
around I see something that
takes my mind way back.

I figure I'm trapped in the past. My mind anyway. It's there. I'm physically here, but that doesn't seem to matter much. I wait for the moment when I snap, come back to reality and get my present.

I drink by myself.
Nobody gets hurt this way,
nobody but me.

Mind slips and I feel neither sad nor mad. I'm not happy or glad for anything in particular. I feel like myself. Flat. There's no up. No down. My face doesn't smile at a sound. Doesn't turn a frown, but it's bound to when I sober and think of true love, may have happened for a reason, but doesn't seem to exist any longer. Without it, I'm neither weaker nor stronger. A year goes by, neither happier nor sadder. I'm not mad or glad about this. I just feel like myself. Ready to go any which way.

I put the glass down,
this time for good, or for now.
This shit's getting old.

A new day could bring bright things. I'll see when I wake and it's dark but not late. It'll be early; I'll be in a hurry and won't have time to pray that this new day will go my way. That could cost me, so I'll pray ahead, from my bed the night before. I'll implore wishes, wants, forced feelings on others.... Hard to believe that at one point it wasn't like this. I wasn't a mess, but doing my best and things seemed certain, not possible, but probable, expectations not needed to be met and no real reason to be upset. Ah, regret.

Brand New (to you)!

The following post breaks rules, but please read it. It's a rewrite. It was originally hand written. It's part of a book, water logged but still legible (these pages anyway). It's edited. It was started over two months ago. Finished today. It's a long story. This, that and the following.

Thank you for being a reader. I've missed you and look forward to writing again soon, explaining more.

I leave you with new haikus.

Stop. Go. No, you go.
I can't walk; I'm a shy guy.
You first; best for us.


I am wireless,
and for the very first time:
write in this no more.