The Hollow Men

:::this is the way the world ends:::

Category: Francisco’s Journey

Francisco Part IX: Ned’s Second Segment

Francisco opened his eyes. Sand clung to his face, hands, and arms. He lay at the foot of a large heap of sand at the back of a construction site. The last thing he remembered from this sequence was with Rachael again. She had been sitting on his lap showing him how to convert a Youtube video soundtrack into an MP3 file. He still felt her weight pressing close to his legs. He still heard the echo of her laughter. The scent of her hair lingered. But how could her scent be there at all if he was dreaming or remembering. Something was poking his thigh from inside his pocket. He withdrew a folded piece of paper and a photograph. His life was beginning to feel as convulsive as a Barnaby Furnas canvas.

Francisco 002

Francisco 001

Francisco 003

Francisco 004

Pete part 2

It was a muggy, rainy kind of day; not particulalrly cold, which made the chill Francisco experienced all the more suspect. Then it hit him, like he knew it would ultimately, but had hoped, prayed to himself that he might awaken from this exsistance and be back in the warm embrace of Rachael. And, yet, he also knew that the cold feeling, now accompanied by dizziness and profuse sweating would be a gateway back to a time with Rachael, however fleeting. He pulled his trenchcoat tighter, muttering to himself, “Fuck Corporate”. He knew the words spoken brazenly before would come back to haunt him. Feeling as though he were about to disembark on Toad’s Wild Ride again, he found as soft a spot in front of the old brownstone as he could because he knew he would never make it inside. He needed to find privacy. He thought about his actions of the last 24 hours and his commitment to drinking the whole drink. It was too late to go back, this bullet had left the chamber. He didn’t know if the drink kept things under control, if it somehow kept him intact, if it influenced the dreams or what. For all he knew it would kill him in this dose, but Francisco was tired of living in this half-life. Whatever lay on the other side of the looking-glass would be a welcome alternative to what he had found on this side. Would he go to Rachael and never come back? Would it be more vivid this time? He had been experimenting but didn’t have any answers. He was a hack with no expertise, just a hunch and a desire for something better than what he had. Corporate had needed it to be this way. He wiped the persperation from his brow. He was feeling much less centered now and things were beginning to spin and darken. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen very soon. The sense was that gravity was no longer his friend as he careened into a small grouping of bushes, grasping out for the railing to the stairs, rolling to his back as he settled on the dirt between the bush and the stoop. He had passing thoughts about the events leading up to his involvement with corporate. Paralized, his eyes rolled back, and he muttered something to himself. At least he thought he was muttering…words were no longer leaving his lips. He was waking up inside. “Rachel!……”

Francisco’s Journey (Toby Part VII)

Eugene’s lips tilted to the side with a juicy twitch, his teeth opening and chomping as if on an invisible cigar.  The stale scent of tobacco, sweat, and moonshine hovered around the spot he stood.  He rubbed his meaty hands together, stained slightly with yellow.  Now Pete wondered if those stains were caused by nicotine or by Grey Poupon.  Eugene lurched forward and moved past Pete, his malodorous cloud lingering a bit and finally dissipating as he swung open the large metal door and slammed it home behind him.  Pete heard a collection of rattles and sliding metal as Eugene bolted and locked the door. 

Pete sighed, knowing he should get back to his post behind the glass counter, but he took a moment longer to wonder what was going on behind that door.  A small shimmer of light dimmed and came back again behind the little peephole that looked out into the hallway.  Pete gathered up his self-consciousness and hurried back behind the counter, slipping on an apron that was a little cleaner than the last.

Now standing on the familiar spot of linoleum, scuffed black by Pete’s shoes in front of the Espresso machine, Pete could see Francisco through the front window with his notebook under arm, his notebook splayed with pages jutting out randomly.  Francisco was looking down at a couple of pages in his hand, like he was rediscovering them in the aftermath of the Eugene.  Usually when he got tossed out, Francisco looked up at Pete afterwards to get an extra dose of self-indulgent pity. 

Francisco often told Pete it helped him write better in the afternoon.

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Francisco’s Journey (J. E. Part VI)

“I love you too sugar lips but ya can’t be pass’n out in the store.”

Francisco woke, relieved to see Eugene sneering down at him. Eugene, foul of smell and worse of character was rarely seen by customers yet Francisco saw a lot of him. Still, better to be thrown out on your ear by Eugene than face the phantom of your baby-mother ex-girlfriend.

Predictably, in the next moment Francisco found himself in a sprawling pile with a trench coat and notebook garnish on the street. “Another day in paradise,” he muttered and picked himself up.

Eugene locked the door, and trudged back toward the kitchen but Pete held him up.

“Hey boss, ol’ Francis out there has nearly drunk up all his product. You want me to call corporate?”

“Corporate? Fuck corporate. Five parts rot-gut, one part Grey Poupon. Mix it up your own goddamn self.”

Francisco’s Journey (Shotts Part V)

#

Francisco woke on the other side of the bed from where he thought he had fallen asleep. He had always been a restless sleeper, Rachael told him. She was sleeping, her back turned to him still, and maybe she was dreaming something better than what they had become together.

He pulled himself up onto the pillow. The window was a frightening prospect, so he kept it closed, the shade down, a little longer, please. She’s pregnant, she’s pregnant, she’s pregnant. That’s all he saw now when he looked at her, the little heartbeat somewhere inside. This would be so much harder, he thought, placing his hand on her hip, if he loved her. The three of them rested there in the dark.

It was a memory from before the decision, one that returned when he lost time. One of the only times it seemed like there was a three of them to speak of. It was in that grieving period after Rachael had told him she was pregnant, where he pretended to happiness, even though he knew it meant their relationship would end, and where there was no more reason to take precautions with sex. She was over every night, and they wrung out whatever remained of their time.

“You awake?”

“Yes.” She turned to see the ceiling. Then she turned to see his face. “Why do you remember this, Francis? Why this moment, every time. Every time you take that stuff?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, stop it. At least remember the sex, if that’s all we had. At least remember that.” She laughed and turned back away from him and yawned. Her whole body stretched beneath the white sheet.

“Don’t call me Francis,” he said. “I don’t know why I come back here every time. I’ve got to stop doing this.” He looked at her. His memories were supposed to be fixed. They weren’t supposed to talk back to him.

“Maybe you love me. Maybe you love our baby.” Her hand rubbed the sheet at her belly. “That’s why.”

No one ever understood creative types. “Maybe I’m in this for the story. And that’s it.”

“I think you love me more than the story.”

He stood up and pulled open the shades. It was dim morning, at best. He turned back to her. “I love the story more.”

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Francisco’s Journey (Ned’s Part IV)

Francisco didn’t understand the pretense of the old, green liquor bottle. Since he had agreed to this trial, Pete had behaved like he was Morpheus from the Matrix, administering some kind of epiphany from the milky green bottle. When Pete told him that he couldn’t do the drug trial himself because of company policy, Francisco had thought Pete’s explanation reasonable. Now he wondered if Pete had other reasons for not doing the trial himself. Why the strange meeting places to get the drug? Why the green bottle instead of the pharmaceutical bottle it must come in? Did Pete’s dad know there were potentially harmful side effects? Is that why he hadn’t allowed Pete to do the trial? And why the hell did he have to try the drug in different environments. Francisco knew there could be reasons. Maybe it was all part of a control group. He thought about trials where participants had been given placebos. What if the blackouts he experienced were an illness totally unrelated to the drug?

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Francisco’s Journey (Pete’s Part III)

Pete’s gaze had intensified. He reached under the counter, eye contact unbroken, and raised up, smirking, holding an opaque green glass bottle whose label was so worn it was no longer readible. He set the bottle down on the counter as a hunter might display a prized kill. Francisco knew though, something inside him knew. This bottle, seemingly ageless, held a familiar, yet forgotten destiny. He had drunk from this bottle before. Many times, it had been presented to him to consume from.

His eyebrows raised and then tightened together as he examined Pete’s face more closely looking for something that he would recognize as he let out a sigh. It was always different. A moment had passed before either spoke. “Look, you know the drill, Frank.” Pete stated in a stern, almost fatherly voice. “your work here is done.” “C’mon, you didn’ think we weren’ keeping track of you did ya?” he added, tone changing to an apologetic, yet mocking tone.

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Francisco’s Journey (Toby’s Part II)

"You look a bit ragged today, Frank." This was where the script, at last, left off, and they were allowed to improvise. Pete counted change. Francisco counted on his first sip of coffee, which eked into him like humidity.

"You know, you’re the only person I let call me ‘Frank.’"

“Should…I…consider myself lucky then?” Pete let the lilt grow in his words as he counted the mess of bills and coins Francisco handed him.

“Very lucky.”

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Francisco’s Journey (J.E.’s Part I)

rain The rain stopped. Which surprised, irked, and depressed Francisco; in that order. He had intended to write another profound poem addressing themes of unending rain on cold city streets and the overall loneliness of his soul that would, like all of his poems, ultimately be ignored by any publication that he sent them to which he knew would magnify his depression deliciously. Francisco had a impressive collection of rejection letters from many distinguished editors. He planned to use each of these in some vindictive way against these distinguished editors once he had finally been recognized as a poet of fathomless skill and a human being of unheard of beauty. Whenever that happened.

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