Artwork Credit: KitiRyu “Bullet Holes” (DeviantArt)

Garden of the Sun

I am fighting a war. It is no revolution. It’s not even insidious or sinister and yet there are so many muzzle flashes that I am dazzled by the bright lights even though my eyes are closed. Through the words and the walls I see it all as if my lids are so thin that the rooms of the home behind my veil are invaded by paparazzi and private ambition that monitors my beliefs, my reliefs, and my encoded .png’s on the dark web. No. No one would understand this war anyway, because, this is a war for control.

Why am I fighting this war? It seems that I can’t remain straight edge long enough to find sanctity. So why am I vegan or vegetarian? Why follow the noble Eight-fold path? Why remain wed or alone and why fight for peace when I don’t believe in anything but control? Why be a hypocrite when I am armed to the teeth? Changing ammunition always does the trick so, I say, numb the pain and feel the heat. But that’s the problem with this war you see, it’s not a matter of physiology and yet the gallons of rum, the alcohol that bleeds through the day as if it was a colony of termites eating through the walls doesn’t compare to the little blood that rushes back into the needle dying black tar in the refuse of scars that never heal. The burnt glass pipe is no longer recognizable for it’s aquamarine hint like the image I see before my eyes roll back and I fall from grace: an image of the ‘me’ of sometime long ago, sitting on a black surf board that drifts across endless aquamarine. I see it all and I wake to the night lights and stumble into the bathroom wanting to order vegan or vegetarian, some organic, free-trade, “hippy peace-loving” food that my friends always joke about. As I look up there’s still that gun pointed at my head in the mirror, there’s still the machete strapped to my back, and the dirk strapped between leather clasps as if I was still fighting a guerrilla war. I am armed to the teeth and the enemy I see has long hair flipped to one side. Stroking the platinum locks, I put them in a messy twist and restrain them and smooth my brows and fluff my lashes. It’s never been about the food or the belief because it was never about finding religious or social sanctity, and surely, it was never about redemption. The problem was always where the gun was pointing and I knew I couldn’t shoot down enemies that were hidden and out of sight — not even if I switched ammunition. Even though I don’t believe in the transfiguration of blood saving me, I want the physiological answer to psychological, emotional, and social sadness. It all bleeds together doesn’t it? No. You won’t understand, because I am fighting a war for control. There’s only control in the drawing of scarlet before I push hard trying to force it back into myself as if I was uncomfortable that the only symbol of my life was bleeding out into the syringe — the only thing I thought I controlled. So, I got a new job.

Hiding behind my lover’s neck bite I try to explain to my other woman that it was “neck and shoulder” day at the gym and I popped a vessel. But that’s what I least expected when I applied for this job. It was for the clothes, the independence, the freedom to roam, and the illusion of control. But then when the girl from the rival law-firm finally moved in, she complained that the walls were too thin, the counter top was peeling, and there was no verdant, scenic path leading up cobblestone paths around these hills. Now, everything seems so sanitized, sterile, and reflective that I have to hide my face from the mirrors that surround all these buildings. But that’s what I was fighting for at work. I wanted to give someone, a someone I still remember, the perfect life I had imagined. But rival law-firm girlfriend isn’t happy, so I hoped that this job would just shut her up like my other woman who is comfortable not asking any questions because she doesn’t want any rights. She doesn’t want to control.

Every day I remember how I used to stop at the corner of Halibut and Maine to tug at my tie in the hallway of mirrors and fix my appearance before I cut across the red-stoned street to the girl who flirted with the wind in the garden of the sun. I always found her serving coffee behind a 5 AM smile that never got stale and dimples that made her rabbit nose twitch as she laughed at a joke I made. I can’t even remember anymore because I always tried to make her laugh and I loved it when she did. Then I remember that that’s what this job was for. That’s what I was fighting for and then one day I got off work early and rushed to Mama Hu’s to see her but the seats outside capped with umbrellas too small to shade anything were empty. The short-order cook saw me enter and nodded towards the back and so I ran through the narrow passageway where I saw her, cigarette in hand, flicking the ashes of her life into the wind. I asked her if she was okay. She said “Why do people do that? Why not ask if I’m not okay? It seems more direct…more accurate.” She told me that she was sold by her “gamblin’ man” father who spat on her face and cursed her looks that “cost too much to maintain.” After a shotgun wedding to a trailer trash bookie, she unloaded a clip into his arm. “Thankfully” he had sweetened her face to a nice dark raspberry syrup color the night before and, thankfully, that half of her face was so swollen like a tide that could not be controlled that along with the blood dripping down her sweatshirt, she was able to convince the jury that it was an act of self-defense. She, too, was fighting a war for control. “But now he is out of prison after serving his sentence and he is coming,” she whispered solemnly. Later that day, she called me and could barely speak between palpitations and gasps to tell me that her father was found with a bullet in his leg that was meant to serve as a warning from her husband. After regaining composure she said “You can’t trust a man to shoot with control using his least dominant hand after all. I’m to blame for taking away his right hand. I’m to blame for everything.” And so I rushed over to find her talking to the police and paramedics and she said that “He bled out and died with a bottle of rum and some numbers scribbled on his veins.” Something primal in me made me attend that scumbag’s funeral, even though I didn’t expect to meet all of her Taiwanese family members because she had said they wouldn’t actually show up. Her mother just looked away the entire time and her brothers grimaced every few seconds since she clung to me and started to weep tears into my very nice jacket — Which is what I had originally gotten this job for. I ignored them all because I was more puzzled by her tears and why she wept than by the distant, uninviting glares. But then one day, Mama Hu’s was just beginning to buzz and the one-armed man who had learned that his aim could not be controlled, sped down the red-stoned street with an automatic. She was walking out with pancakes and raspberry syrup with her trademark pearly whites gleefully showing when she must have seen me through the window tugging at my tie and smoothing my hair at the corner of Halibut and Maine. As she walked from under the retractable awning pretending not to notice me, with a smile that easily betrayed the farce, I heard the song of bullets singe the air, the paper-thin walls, and the unnecessarily large number of napkins she had absentmindedly picked up that flew into the sky as the bullets cut them into feathers and settled around her like wings. As I ran up to her, they were slowly dyed a pure raspberry syrup red, or was it the blood that escaped from her peeling skin that I could not control? I took a stray bullet and fell on top of her with my hands on her face and my fingers on her lips and I awoke in a hospital bed never to see her again and I finally realized that I never had any control. So that’s what this job was for: To give up the fight since there’s no point in fighting a war. So I think to myself: “Rival law-firm girlfriend can have the counter top and the thick walls but they can’t stop the ammunition aimed squarely at our heads.” There’s no control until we are sold both the shotgun and the girl and the two of them meet each other like in-laws at a funeral. Silently they acknowledge each others’ existence, but make no idle chit-chat because this is not the place nor the time, especially when we are fighting a war for control. Because, after all, the gun is loaded and my finger sits angry and edgy on the trigger and it’s pointed squarely at my head from within. I’m fighting a war to give up, because that is control — control, from within.

Originally published at on January 24, 2016.