“Confession #3” (Fast Forward: The Mix Tape, Fast Forward Press)
I had a boyfriend I didn’t like that much who never had any toilet paper in his bathroom. I imagined he must have gotten himself used to a schedule of always shitting while he was on campus, but I was bitter that he wasn’t thoughtful enough to have toilet paper for me to use when I came over. And I really didn’t like having to drip dry all the time and walk around in stinking damp panties. So I started using his towel to wipe myself. It was his only towel, hung on the bar across the shower. I used a different section of it each time, patting urine onto where he would soon wipe his face and dry his hands. Once the towel was thoroughly saturated and too disgusting to want to use anymore, I left his apartment and never went back.
“The Spider” (Fast Forward: Volume Two, Fast Forward Press)
The spider was friendly and eager. We sat around the campfire watching him. He walked delicately on needles down the wooden plank. Slowly, slowly, like a pumpkin spider curious of fire. Only he was round and full of life. We watched him get closer. Caught in the ray of his tiptoe. He was over the edge of red coals and small flames when suddenly his body erupted frozen. Eight legs clenched towards his sternum. He slid across the roundness of log and dropped into the pit. We imagined him burning and felt like such assholes.
“The Worst Hostel in Paris” (Fast Forward: Volume Two, Fast Forward Press)
It’s the hostel where a Gimli-looking Australian man steps on your face at 3:58 in the morning with hard boots while attempting to heave his thick log of a body over you to take his place on the top bunk. He kicks and shoves and flails around for what feels like hours and just as you finally start to drift off to sleep again, you hear it. A vacuum grumbling from deep within. Rumble, bubble, pop. Moaning and twitching overhead and you feel your muscles tense in observation. The shaking grows worse and the gurgling louder. Something profound shoots through him and the next thing you know it sounds as though someone turned a fire hose onto the wall. Shshshshshshshsh. It takes you a moment to realize what is happening. You feel liquid spraying across your face. The smell hits you and you try to shield your body and bags with your sheets but they’re far too thin and you can feel them growing heavy and wet with the hailing chunks of his cavity. You are cold and thoroughly soiled but the shower and office are locked until morning. You have no choice but to try and sleep, and let the fumes fill your pores and crust inside you. When you wake up your room looks like a hairless gorilla was ripped to shreds and his bleeding intestines were strewn over every inch around you. The Gimli-looking Australian man is naked and hanging off his mattress and appears to have shat himself as well. Your bags are destroyed. Your other roommates must have checked out already. You drag yourself to the portable shower outside where you will contract a potent fungus that will stay with the big toe of your right foot for the next two years of your life.
“Sell-out Matt” (Fast Forward: Volume One, Fast Forward Press)
Tall-legged, long-faced, slim-boned Matthew Garretty rolled into himself in a post-pubescent delayed-adolescent whirlwind engaging dance some eight years ago today. He grew up in the catastrophic absurdity of a religious mama who turned from tweaker trash to jehovahistic judger upon the knock knock knock of a witness at her door twenty-seven springs ago while Matt was still hitching a ride on her uterus. She was desperate, battered, ankle swollen and pregnant, and something about the perfectly pitched line or the prodigious promise struck some deep integral part inside of her that would incite a lifetime of prayer and devotion.
He grew up poor and white in Missouri without birthdays, balloons, pumpkins or presents. He grew up estranged from mainstream American youthfulness, catching glimpses of it through the perpetual doorway on the other side of his mother’s eager fanaticism. Little bright eyes blinking away the baptized boundaries of his life. Nintendo dreams and easter bunny fantasies slid like pale rumors across the mat of his childhood.
At eighteen, after accidenting upon the treasure of a library Twain, the awkwardly tall and thin-faced teenaged Matthew decided he wanted to break the fast of his jehovah mission to go get a collegiate education. He wasn’t trying to betroth another worldview, but rather indulging in a subliminal attempt at normality through his organic desire to educate himself. His mom and newly acquired stepfather, along with the entire Kingdom Hall community, did not approve of this plan. They told Matthew that the only school he should go to was the one that would further train him for door to door soul saving and paradise praying and that a public university would only introduce evil thoughts and false histories. His mother and step authority threatened to take away their parental bond if he did not comply with their wishes. And that marked the first time in Matt’s life that he formed a strong opinion about his home life.
He said goodbye to his bare-walled bedroom one exasperated summer night and crawled out the rusty side window of his shotgun house into a new life of independence with a vehemently thirsty slate to quench.
Matt attended one semester at Missouri State University and flunked out. He started reading Kerouac, drinking whiskey, having unexceptional sex, and six months after he left his dogmatic adolescence, he hitchhiked to Alaska with a plan to jump on a fishing boat and head to sea.
Bright-eyed and incurably grinning with the novelty of new places and people, Matt fell in love with a punk rock Yupik girl that he met in the southeast port town of Cordova. He was reeling in his newfound life and riding a wave of inspiration that he couldn’t help but to see glowingly transparent in everything he looked at. He grew his hair out long and greasy and began wearing a ponytail and then later two pigtails with a dirty bandana wrapped around his head. He tried to instill ruggedness onto his face with an abusive amount of two-dollar Top tobacco and cheap plastic whiskey bottles, but the baby bright skin and puerile look in his eye could shine through even the dishevelment of a three-week razorless, bathless, sea sweating halibut hunt.
Matt followed his wild Yupik love affair north to Fairbanks where he found himself amid a community of crazed writers and hallucinating musicians. He immediately began settling into a two-year stint of workshop words and custodial employment. Even the mop happy shit paste he cleaned off university toilets gave Matthew a sense of accomplishment and an intoxicating appetite to write and read and revel in the company of new friends and ideals.
That year Matt had his first birthday party. It was ridiculously large and complete with pony kegs, marijuana cake, and a live band. He drank himself into the cold Alaskan bonfire night until the sun never came up in the morning. Feral northern lights howled overhead in a cosmic dance and brilliant words like poetry dripped out of Matt’s eager mouth and drenched everyone he touched with fraternal delight.
Matt was home, Matt was happy. He danced with long and clumsy limbs to the hepness of everyone around him. He inspired us all and gave birth to the possibility of a newborn man with the mission to never sell himself back to the stagnancy of an indolent life or god. He wrote about his family, his estranged jehovah culture and wrote so well that the phonetic flow born from his pen inspired descriptions and prose somewhere between Twain and Bukowski that Jack himself would have clapped his hands to hear.
And then one morning Wendy left him in his Notforeverland, the writing group split up and out and Fairbanks grew cold with unfamiliar faces, so Matt packed up his new life and lore and instead of going anywhere else in the vastness of the unabridged world, he headed back to Springfield, misery. He tried to keep his mentality alive on napkin scribbles at the back tables of barren bars, but a reunion with his mama, a boring new girlfriend, and the monotonous work of starting a twelve-hour-day roofing business left him dry and lackadaisical. Matthew began to grow callous and old and forget how to make his pen sing. And so it stopped and saddened and now wordless years have cowered by him and I wonder upon the unrecognizable sound of his voice on an incurious cell phone whether there exists a switch somewhere that has the power to turn on and off a human being—erasing memories, promises, and prose.