Logo_number

It’s my great pleasure to reintroduce the world to Consciousness: A Continuing Acknowledgment of Nothing in Particular. For those who don’t know (which would be all but like 100 people in the world), this was a humor zine I worked on way back in high school. It was a creative free-for-all composed of flash fiction, visual gags, comic strips, and bizarre non-sequiturs contributed by myself and a few like-minded friends. It was also a joy to make and my first taste of fulfilling, collaborative creation. I worked on Consciousness throughout my teenage years, printing it on office printers at my mom’s job and selling it through friends at schools and comic shops throughout the tri-county area.

Here for your perusal is the entire first issue of Consciousness. The original files for the zine are long gone (along with the computer that housed them), but a few hard copies are still kicking around, so I went ahead and scanned them for posterity. I cleaned the formatting up a bit while also revising text where it was too awful to overlook, but otherwise, everything is just as ridiculous as ever. Just keep in mind that this is ultimately the work of demented children and should be treated as such.

More to come!

Never Trust a Blender_Title

Hot off the digital presses comes Never Trust a Blender, a 4-page micro-comic from myself and artiste deluxe Erin Douglas. It tells the cautionary tale of a man with a terrible nickname who must grapple with the fallout of his own ill choices after striking a Faustian bargain with the titular devil in the machine. Pour yourself a thick glass of the blue stuff and let the bad times roll!

Also, be sure to check back in the coming weeks for more new content as we begin the awkward transition from placeholder website to something actually worth visiting. How novel!

Windows

Looking from outside into an open window one never sees as much as when one looks through a closed window. There is nothing more profound, more mysterious, more pregnant, more insidious, more dazzling than a window lighted by a single candle. What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what goes on behind a windowpane. In that black or luminous square life lives, life dreams, life suffers.

Across the ocean of roofs I can see a middle-aged woman, her face already lined, who is forever bending over something and who never goes out. Out of her face, her dress, and her gestures, out of practically nothing at all, I have made up this woman’s story, or rather legend, and sometimes I tell it to myself and weep.

If it had been an old man I could have made up his just the same.

And I go to bed proud to have lived and to have suffered in some one besides myself.

Perhaps you are asking, “Are you sure that your story is the real one?” But what does it matter what reality is outside myself, so long as it has helped me to live, to feel that I am, and what I am?

Original poem by Charles Baudelaire

Short Strokes

The Royal Wristwatch

The time has come to reward the wicked. For their defamation, for their continued refusal to curb appetite or will, the wicked shall receive three sharp strikes across the psyche. They will then be returned to the river until next time.

The Told About Horse

A man walks into a bar and begins to outline a familiar joke about a horse. The punchline is delivered, and everyone in the bar falls silent, save the joke teller who now laughs nervously and touches his wallet. A horse steps from behind the bar, hitherto unseen due to its miniature stature. “Joke’s wrong,” says the horse, moving closer to the joke teller. “It’s twenty dollars for a cock suck.”

Margonia & The Market Monkey

A girl named Margonia goes to the market, her mind ablaze with ideas of papaya. When she reaches the first stall, she sights a large bruised pear. “Maybe this is papaya,” she says, knowing nothing. She drops a quarter into the cup of a vested monkey, and the monkey accepts it, though he is not the owner of the pear. When Margonia takes her first rotten bite, she tricks her brain into feeling the peculiar pleasure associated with munching fresh papaya.

Meanwhile, the monkey bites his ill-gotten coin. Scraping the silver with his dull little teeth, he knows there’s no fruit sweeter than madness.

Off Course

“I’ll never be able to talk about this,” thought Misty.

She was right, of course. There would never be an appropriate time to reveal that her love for the boy was only in theory,  not at all in practice.

Lost in the mall maze, Misty absentmindedly turned left into a department store. She wobbled through aisle upon aisle, glancing at the different styles of yarn deftly wadded into the varying sizes of ladies’ legs and torsos. She wasn’t looking for anything particular, just giving her body something to do as her brain puzzled irreversible things.

Misty’s eyes scanned  the racks, mechanically, viewing line-by-line the suggested coverings for women her age. She was twenty years old, though no longer the right shape, it appeared.

This much was clear to the teenage sales girl who approached Misty, offering assistance in the form of directions to the maternity section.

“This isn’t permanent,” Misty snapped.

The girl frowned a little, then gave a nod and returned to folding tank tops.

“It’ll pass.”

She was right, of course. Pregnancy would pass, though prolonged conditions always leave their mark. The boy would be forever.

Misty walked slowly to the children’s clothing and began rifling through outfits. She picked up a blue shirt and a pair of green shorts attached to the same small hanger. She stared at the drawing on the tiny shirt: a tiger riding proud on a surfboard. “A novel thing,” Misty thought with a sigh. She shook the hanger back and forth and watched the clothes swish like holey dishrags.

Settled on the tiger, she made her way to the nearest register and took her place behind a woman who was paying for a pink sun dress and white shoes. Misty looked from the items on the counter to the outfit in her hand. The tiger grinned behind sunglasses, enjoying the crest of his wave.

“Miss?” came a voice from behind the counter. “Miss? Are you ready to check-out?”

Misty looked up, startled, her hands then empty. She shook her head and took two steps backward.

“No,” she said, “This isn’t what I wanted.”

She was right, of course. But her wave broke all the same.

Acceptance, OR A Fawn Farewell

It was one week after his grandmother passed when Noah was led into the dense forest behind her estate. In the evening, the woods would terrify the young boy, but it was not yet dark and his grandfather enjoyed taking walks after dinner, believing that solitude and motion were the perfect capstones to any meal. The meals themselves were lacking lately, a victim of loss as much as those who ate them. The old man was not a good cook, but he had managed simple stews and had no qualm consuming stale bread baked a week before.

That day marked the first time Noah had been invited to join his grandfather in the woods, though really there had been no invitation, merely a statement of fact. “We will go for a walk after supper.”

Now they had been walking for nearly an hour, and Noah began to wonder why he was brought along at all. His grandfather hadn’t spoken a word to him, just walked deliberately forward, though with no real haste. When at last they neared the edge of the property, the two observed a fawn lying motionless by a rusted barb wire fence.

“She’s caught,” stated the old man.

“Can you free her?”

“We will see.”

“Will she die too, grandpa?”

The man did not answer. He approached the animal with his same, purposeful gait. Bending close, he saw that the barbs had cut deep and that a great deal of blood was pooling around her. The fawn shivered, but made no other motion, no attempt to flee.

“She’s accepted it,” said the old man, unaware that Noah was crying, now having glimpsed the blood as well.

“I don’t want her to die.”

“What we want and what will happen… There is little link between the two.”

The boy continued sobbing, but now with a new kind of grief, one born from understanding. If he was older, he might’ve wondered if this ordeal had been prepared.

His grandfather whispered something that sounded like goodbye. Then there was a soft crack, and the man was on his feet.

“Did dying hurt her?”

“Less than living. There’s no more pain for her.”

The boy paused for a second, looking around his grandfather to the dead fawn on the ground.

“It’s ours now,” stated the boy, “We took it for her.”

The old man nodded, returned once more to silence. He placed a coarse hand around his grandson’s shoulder and steered the young man home through the dimming light.

Lunar Living

It sucks. We don’t really have any of those mystical foreign lands anymore. There are no more idyllic, utopian societies that just exist on their own, set apart from all the modern advances and curses that have engulfed every other culture. No more quiet little villages where there’s no tv or electricity. Now there’s only nations where technology is lusted after and improved again and again, and nations where everyone just rides around through the desert in some old cars painted with housepaint, shooting each other over some thousand year old bullshit. What a waste. The thrill is gone indeed. Nothing to hope for a return to; no way to take comfort in knowing that some portion of the world, no matter how small, still exists untainted. No magic left in this old mudball, just cold sterile tech and sweaty senseless slaughter. Get out while you can.

Escape Goats

Instead of a curb was a goat head solidified as stone. Behind its calcium horns trailed the remnants of branches and moist, crinkled leaves. However, the heart of the beast still beat wild and red, untouched by the crystal decay. Its pulses and rhythms drew it further away from the body it no longer worked for.

How could it happen? What leads an organ to strike out for its own sake? When wholes grow weaker through set, stubborn ways, then the parts must create their own schedules. Therefore, all of the pieces of once living goats are free to each blur out of focus.

Husband, Clayvon

There’s not a whole lot you shouldn’t do for money. People like to act like there is, but when you list all the things out, it’s not anywhere near what you’d guess. Six or seven’s what I figure. One or two’s what I’ve done.

The worst and last of them was in winter of ‘59. I hadn’t been out of school long when I met her, and I hadn’t known her much longer when I married her. We were cut from the same bolt of fabric, Celey and me. Shared our hearts like a stitched shirt that splits where the buttons do. I was proud to be her husband, Clayvon. Still am.

We tried living in the city at first, but couldn’t take to it. We had no friends between us, save an old neighbor lady by the name of Lenore. She had blind eyes and arthritic fingers, which only led Celey and I to wonder all the more at the never-ending parade of casseroles and stews that passed through our doorway each week. A whisper of a knock was all that preceded them, twitchy and light enough to be, perhaps, unintentional. The truth though, is that Lenore meant everything she did. Nothing was by accident; all was done for love. She meant to be a blessing to us, so she was.

When Lenore died, Celey begged to leave the city. I had saved a few thousand from the construction job I found, but had hoped for more before making another move. Plans changed though, when our landlord emptied Lenore’s apartment onto the street below. Hoping not to miss a month’s rent, he’d foregone contact with any potential relative of the old widow. Instead, he dressed the front lawn and sidewalks in Lenore’s outdated dresses and reduced her life’s treasures to fresh pawn shop fodder. It was too much for Celey, when flocks of junkies emerged from dark places to strip clean the remnants of Lenore, our friend.

The next day, Celey told me I’d be a father in less than eight months. Husband in one year, daddy the next. Saying I was proud would sell the thing short. We shook off that city like a dog does his fleas, and found a bright three bedroom before George was born. Things were hard going for a while after that. Celey and me argued over whether we needed to borrow money, and if we did, from whose parents would it come. George was crying all hours, all days. I think he sensed the uncertainty surrounding his next meal. I know I did.

It was soon thereafter a call came from a guy I’d not thought of since high school. He’d gotten the new number from my mother and hoped I wouldn’t mind. I didn’t really, since I was the one who answered the phone, the only one who heard how desperate he sounded. I knew Celey would’ve shook her head though to see me talking to the man. He had always been mixed-up in some trouble or another, and his call was to say he now needed me to take the blame. Any other night, I swear, I’d have said no. But it was that night, when I noticed how diluted George’s milk was, how thin Celey’s face looked, how lean our butcher’s cuts had grown. Animals that died hungry. Not us.

I said yes, and hung the phone.

The next day, I confessed to a thing I did not do.  The police never questioned why I’d turn myself in, when by the look of it, the robbery had come off clean. All they had were suspicions of a thug who’d been seen around there before, a local small town who was always in some kind of trouble. But here I was to save them the bother of a car ride, and all they needed anyway was something dark to pin the crime on.

I handed over a thousand dollars and said the rest was claimed by irony when a crackhead in an alley claimed the big bucks with a knife. In truth, the money was home with Celey, the pay-off for giving freedom to a criminal in exchange for two years of my life. Of our life.

Celey wouldn’t visit for the first year. I’d send her photographs and letters saying how I’d done everything for love. Her responses totaled four words: Money is not love.

She was right, of course, so I made her truth my own for the remainder of my life.  Wealth crouches in the details of a whole mess of things, but not all of them. A thing like fatherhood, being a husband—money doesn’t enter into it. When it seemed like one couldn’t exist without the other, I should’ve given careful thought to those people and their list. I still say there isn’t too much you shouldn’t do for money. I’m just more mindful now then before I knew what really makes men rich.

Brain Waves

If all of our reminders were writ in knitted neural wires,

There’d be no need for pens and paper, screens or keys.

The paths all our thoughts travel-

living streets of layered matter-

Are all the space a being could ever need.