#1
The following is an excerpt from something I've been working on based around a strange month in my life when I was 14.


"I don't see anything except for rice cakes and flour and stuff."
My brother and me were looking through Debra's cupboards for something
to pass off as breakfast, creeping around quietly as to not wake the ten or so
people sleeping on the floor all around the house.
Robert was sleeping inches away from an enormous piece of dog shit -
If he were to open his mouth and lick his lips in his sleep the way that I had
seen some people do, his tongue would have grazed the hardened skin of
the turd, but I imagine he would not have woken up. Robert was in his late
30's, completely bald and covered in tattoos. His goatee sprouted slightly
past his chin. If the vocalist from the Georgia Satellites had shaven his head and
replaced the hair with a menacing swastika tattoo on his skull, he would've
embodied Robert completely. In fact, he carried a photo of himself from the 80's in which he had the exact hair style of Dan Baird (Editor's Note: "lead vocalist of the Georgia Satellites"). We tried not to wake Robert because we were
terrified of him. To date he remains the first and only Neo-Nazi I have ever met,
let alone spent a month around.
Once you delved past his racist husk, an incredibly funny person resided inside of
him, though the jokes were far and few and they always subsided into volatile
racist rhetoric that made him red in the face and on more than one occasion he put his
fist through Debra's walls, though she didn't mind.
Robert was currently a tattoo artist and body piercer at a small place outside of
Knoxville bordering on the town of Crossville, where me and my brother lived. He had
made me uncomfortable last night while me, my brother, my dad and him were
in Debra's hot tub. Robert and dad were drinking Falls City beer, which they hadn't
manufactured since 1978. Debra had an entire case of the stuff in a closet that belonged
to her ex-husband, whom she was in a bitter divorce battle with. She was more
than happy to chill the case and let the men enjoy themselves. Me and my brother
had to sneak the beer. Dad hadn't let us drink yet, but within a short year
we'd both be getting soused with him in many more uncomfortable situations, leading me
into cigarettes and my brother into a year long meth addiction that got him expelled
from high school when he was sixteen, culminating in the complete loss of everything
substantial and decent inside him to this day.
We had been enjoying ourselves in the hot tub and Robert and my father had gotten
on the subject of body piercing, to which Robert paraded every piercing on his body:
Four in each ear, both eyebrows, both nostrils, his tongue and a Prince Albert through
his penis. Fascinated by this, my father asked to see the genital piercing, to which
Robert stood up, dropped trou and spread the shaft of his penis in several places to show
off every inch of the bolt through his cock, with my dad's curious and eager face a mere
inches from it, examing it with a fine-tooth comb.
The already uncomortable charade heightened when as usual Robert began a racist
tirade, with details that escape me except for one line:
"I promise you, that if I saw a fuckin' nigger run through this
backyard right now, I'd be out of this tub and cracking his fuckin'
skull open, and I hope that you'd be with me, Mike."
I wanted to chalk it up to drunk speak, and I believe that the majority of it was,
maybe in an attempt to solidify a reputation with this man that we had to spend an
entire month with, but my father shook his hand firmly:
"You fuckin' better believe it brother."

"Hey, look at this."
My brother had moved on to the refrigerator which was sparse save for
slices of cheese, two eggs and milk that was past it's expiration date. For how
wealthy Debra was, she was not interested in keeping house - slim pickins on groceries
and dog shit everywhere.
My brother had found two syringes in the butter tray. He grabbed them and
put them on the table.
"Who do you think uses this?"
I shrugged my shoulders.
"That's my insulin!"
Debra had come into the kitchen and surprised us with her traditional bombastic voice
and made us jump up in our seats. Debra was in her late 50's and looked the way
Liza Manelli might have looked if she had gray hair and a Bruce Jenner haircut. Her eyes
were off center but still retained a disturbing focus - You could look in her eyes and
tell that there was nothing inside them, or that maybe she had everything so figured out
that she had no place for common social skills. She came from old money. We never
figured out where the money had came from but everyday while dad was at work she
would drop us off in downtown Knoxville, give us fifty bucks and pick us up a few hours later.
We loved the perks that came with squatting in Debra's mansion, and the general uneasiness of the Nazi regime she had been (probably) unknowingly harboring was
something we had to bear in order to enjoy ourselves.
"I'm diabetic, I need those."
She grabbed the needles and placed them back in the fridge.
"You boys hungry?"
We nodded.
"Well give me a minute and I can take you boys into town and get some grub. Or
maybe you could go see a movie, or whatever. You can do what you like!"
She laughed in a maniacally cackling way. After the laughter had subsided I noticed that
in her hand was a paper towel, and in the paper towel was a large piece of dog shit. She set it down on the counter and grabbed a large envelope from a drawer.
"What're you doing?" I asked.
"Oh this?" she said. "I'm going to mail this dog poop to my ex-husband."
And as sure as she said it, she dropped the turd into the envelope, licked it, stamped it,
walked down her long hallway and placed it in the mailbox.
When she left, me and my brother walked to the guest bedroom where we were staying
and put on our clothes for the day.
"She's nuts," I said to my brother.
"Do you think everyone will be drinking again tonight?" he asked me.
"What do you think?"
"Do you think that was really insulin or do you think she's so batty because
she does drugs?"
"I don't fuckin' know, Wade, why don't you ask her?"
He bent down to ties his shoes and a booming voice took us by surprise.
"Where the fuck do you think you two little faggots are going?"
It was Robert. He was in his underwear with his hand on the upper doorframe, flexing
his sculpted Nazi body. In the center of his chest was a giant tattoo of a bald eagle with an
insignia in the middle of it that read "R.E.C." with a hammer and sword intersecting it. We froze for a minute. Everyone in the house was either gone or asleep and we had never been left alone with him. This could've been his perfect chance to drop the friendly charade
and do whatever sadistic SS stuff we imagined he did in his free time.
"We're just getting dressed."
"Let me guess - you're gonna suck his dick while you finger yourself
in the ass."
We nervously laughed.
"I'm just fuckin' with you. Here."
He threw us both a Falls City beer, and we happily opened it.
"You still want me to pierce your ears for you?"
I had been mulling over the idea of piercing my ears for awhile, for whatever reason.
At 14 I thought it was cool - Big silver loops, or maybe those big plugs that I had
seen people in Punk bands or New Rock bands wear. I thought it was edgy, and
I sorely wanted the kids that I were terrified of at Cumberland County High to think
that I was a Sailor Ripley-type character who was trouble. I had nervously asked Robert in the hot tub last night if he would pierce them for me.
"Yeah, sure, I mean, if you want to."
"I can go set up the shit right now."
He walked away and me and my brother continued to change.
Poor advice.
#2
When I walked into the kitchen my stomach shot up into my throat.
The piercing kit had been laid out on the table, and my pre-concieved notions
of the process of body piercing (or what little notion I had) dissipated.
In a large 12 by 16 case sat over a dozen thick steel needles that resembled talons
or thin daggers and bottles of clear liquid. Robert was wearing a surgical mask.
He had taken his Nazi menace to a new height and sitting down in the chair felt
like surrendering oneself to the mercy of Josef Mengele. I had an outlanish fear
of passing out then waking up without an ear, or with my ear sewn onto my forehead.
"I hate the smell of this shit," he said.
Before starting he grabbed my ear from behind and started twisting it.
I moaned and closed my eyes. He brought his face to mine:
"I swear to God, that if I start this process and you pussy out telling me that it
hurts, I'm gonna fuckin' slap you in the head. If you scream in pain as
I begin, I'm gonna slap in the head. If you take out these earrings afterwards, I swear
I will punch you in the fuckin' head. This shit ain't cheap and it's not fun
to do when people complain about it and take them out after all your hard fuckin work. Now sit still."
And within seconds of finishing his speach, he shoved a needle through my left lobe
in one quick burst. I screamed. He slapped me hard on the head.
"What did I tell you?"
Within seconds of the left lobe, he quickly jabbed a needle through my right lobe.
I bit my tongue and held it in.
"See? That shit ain't so bad."
He had put in two 12 gauge silver loops, bigger than I expected, but what I wanted.
It's not wise to skip straight to larger gauges off the bat, but he was who he was
and I believe he did it out of torment. He didn't say another word. He closed his kit,
sat on the couch and fell asleep immediately - faster than I had ever seen anyone
dose off. My brother grabbed at the rings.
"They look good."
"Stop! It's fucking sore."
I wiped away tears from my face. Debra came back inside.
"You boys ready to go?"
We quickly walked outside.
The entire ride to town, Debra not once noticed my piercings.
When we got out of the car I took them out and threw them in the gutter.
Poor advice.
#5
There's no front in this. I like your fronts, but the honesty of this speaks with a humble vulnerability that breathes without having to be explicitly articulated. It reads nice and easy but is still stacked with content, stays interesting and pulls you along without fostering any doubt of the validity of what happened.

Great work. Happy to read you. I'd love to see more
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