Carnival in Purgatory

I didn’t want to hurt her feelings so I went to the poetry reading. The roads through Oakland at dusk snaked like a winding river, a main cable that plugged right into her. She was a tortured beauty with that combustible, sunset red-haired unstable electricity I wanted to plug into; the kind that made a man shiver right down to his marrow. We’d danced around each other for the better part of a month now and each swirl of pheromones had drawn us ever closer. It was time to make the supreme sacrifice.

I’d expected to witness an experience of raw-boned and hungry artists with angelic reckless hearts yearning to bleed words from their angst-ridden hearts for the pleasure of the assembled mass. I conjured Ginsburg out on the ragged edge, burning, desperate, spewing HOWL. But I knew as I hit the door it wouldn’t be anything. These academy kids all pink and plump and ordinary looked to have had all the juice squeezed out of them years ago. I figured in another ten years they’d be looking out office windows in some high-rise building on some Market street wondering why their lives were so meaningless.

The room was full of zombies, walking dead, fake people with pretend personas’ who never stared into a wound in their lives. They hid it, ran home and Mommy put a bandage on it. They would never find out who they were. Lonely, troubled, anxious women surveyed the room for their next victim. Damn man, somebody turn down the lights and put on some make out music.

The poets read, barely audible, terrified, like the words were precious, frail and fragile. The future chief of police hushed the crowd. It’s was pure Valium, plain oatmeal, no one laughed, no one cried, no one kissed, no fights broke out and no one bled, not even the poets. Burroughs, Bukowski, and Kerouac somewhere on the ethereal plain bent over retching, leaking blood from their eyes. I knew if they could hear such pabulum they’d never stop throwing up. It smelled like slow death in there; malaria, nightmares. I had to bounce.

But first I had to find her. I could feel her pulsating torment all the way up the stairs. I made my way to where the vibrations emanating. Her bedroom was bare and sparse and had those suicide windows. Yet she was the only thing there that was alive and she buzzed like neon, all sadness and lonely eyes begging for relief. She couldn’t have been more than 28 but somehow had gained a century of pain. She inched in closer to embrace and as I felt the adrenaline build in my mouth she said “my last boyfriend raped me in my sleep”.

My brain kicked into to hyper drive trying to calculate the number of ways these words were nine miles past wrong and my still small voice whispered my number one rule to me when met with what could only be deciphered as madness. “Never sleep with anyone crazier than yourself”. As I headed for the door I heard her lament “wait” she said.  Every fiber of me wanted to stop but my feet had made up their mind. They knew I’d better steer clear or burn up in her atmosphere.

The cool night air slapped me awake. I started the engine and gave it some gas. I was covered in a patina of regret. I headed for the Bay where the fog cleansed me.  By now Cassie was cleaning the spoons and closing the lights. I pictured a June bug as it flew from the warmth it once knew.  I measured the distance between our hearts and caught the last train for the coast. Another bust out night in bump city; Welcome to the suck.


About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

One Response to Carnival in Purgatory

  1. James Mcfarland says:

    Incredible insight from a modern day guru, spiritualist and seer. Dark and apocalyptic, yet burning with passion, I shivered for hours after reading this piece, one so deserving of a worthy, formidable title. Only a living avatar could sense and gather a vast consciousness of troubled people in troubled time; pray this timeless message reach the souls of wandering souls in purgatory. A 9.9 rating.

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