Free of the Past
I: A Dalmatian Left Lonely
The sun slowly made its appearance known to the world, and life, as lazy as it may be, started to wake. It drizzled over his brown spots as he toppled onto his side carefully as to not wake the sleeping fox next to him. With one arm stretched across his mate he carried that warmth in the grasp of his brown stigmata-like palms. A moment he never wanted to let go of, but the curse of the mundane life consumed Drake as a whole sometimes. He knew that when he opened his sluggish green eyes, his fiery-plaster furred mate would lift out of the bed and run right out the door. But that was Connor’s nature. The fox could never let a day waste, like Drake could. But it was all just a blessing in the monotonous features of Drake’s life; an escape from his work filing endless paperwork and gathering coffee for the “real” lawyers of the world. At least it has decent pay, he thought to himself as he looked around his home and let all the worse “could have happened” situations run through his state of half-consciousness.
The alarm clock screeched endlessly signaling the time to actually leave the bed and begin the day. Connor leaped off of the mattress, leaving Drakes sleepy pose, and left the room for a moment. “I don’t understand it, how can one have so much energy in the morning?” the Dalmatian mumbled to the air, his only listener as he forced his hand on the clock shutting off the dissonance of the morning. The fox walked into the bathroom, leaving his mate to struggle in his comfortable prison. Slowly, Drake rose from the bed, and walked into the kitchen to force feed himself a useful dosage of caffeine. Connor walked out into the kitchen, dressed, and ready to leave. “You’re in a hurry today,” Drake playfully spat out and Connor adamantly responded, “Got a deadline to meet. This piece needs to be posted today or I’ll be stuck on the inside like you are all day. The news waits for no one, and neither does my editor.”
The Dalmatian smiled at the response as he sipped his first out of three morning cups of coffee. “Can I at least have some form of affection before your job, which I so rightfully envy, whisks you away from me?” He walked to the door and kissed his lover as if it would be the last time they would ever meet. Cliché, but Drake rarely gave a damn about the fickle area of romance. “I’ll be home early today. I asked for the rest of the day off,” Connor threw out before he went on with his plans, leaving the Dalmatian to his coffee related morning schedule. After his third dosage of caffeine, he dressed himself, and left for work.
It appeared the universe had slowed down entirely. Drake had only been there for three hours and all his tasks look as if they were completed. He sat at his desk, writing in his notebook, which he never forgot. It passed the time while waiting for the next command from the “higher powers” of his paycheck. Well, this one is complete, he thought to himself as he read his work over for any mistakes.
He Knows No Tense
While the world focuses
on the world he sits alone,
oblivious to the life that
surrounds him. Past, present
and future are all the
same, and reality is arbitrary.
It’s a dream that everyone has in their life. To be completely invisible in the world, care free, oblivious, almost like the romanticized vagabond. Drake was certainly having this fantasy today. He thought of himself just wandering the world, maybe hitchhiking to the other side of the states and back like in Kerouac’s novel, “On the Road.” Drake pictured himself in the back of a truck, wind blowing in his fur, on an open road, a road he calls freedom. But the dream sinks into the oceans of his imagination as he realizes that Connor is not there with him. Freedom is not a substitute for loneliness…for love. Below the poem, he wrote, “I love you Connor.” It always seems he never says it enough, but when relationships grow in years many things get lost in the past.
His cell-phone vibrated. Drake’s boss hated having the phones go off, unless it was a LAN line. They made a point to have signs posted all over the offices, “Place cell-phones on vibrate/silent mode or turn them off please. Thank you.” He flipped open his phone and saw he had one text. It was from Connor. Drake was a little taken back from the message appearing on his phone. Connor rarely messaged him during the day due to his job. Connor always did the best work for his employers, and it did get in the way of their relationship at times. But the Dalmatian was always patient, and careful never to let his beloved Fox see him hurt because of a project from work. He went to the message and the began to read in the lagging office.
Babe, no matter what happens or what anyone says, I want you to know that I love you. Please don’t be angry with me.”
Drake was confused by the message. Adrenaline began flowing through his body as he thought about all the mixed meanings of the message, coming up the worst possible outcomes. He took a few breaths, got up and grabbed some water. It’s probably nothing. The Dalmatian told himself as he sent a reply message.
I love you too. Is everything okay? I can leave work now if you need me.
He placed his phone on his desk and began fumbling through paperwork. Towards the end of the stack was his request forms for vacation time. Drake then glanced at his calendar and saw the circled date, June, 19th, 2010: Connor’s birthday. He filled in the dates on the paperwork and signed and dated it. An entire week off. Should be nice, and maybe it’ll do us some good, especially since there appears to be an unknown crisis. I hope everything’s alright.
The Dalmatian walked to his boss’ office. The nameplate on the door read, “Jeanette S. Griever” then had a plethora of certifications, titles, and degree labels after. “Ms. Griever?” Drake spoke lightly, in case she may be on the phone. At least, that is what he told himself. Griever is practically a nihilist. Showing no mercy or remorse in court she has demolished the state’s cases against various criminals, big and small. Like most of the world, when money is in the picture, the idea of morality is completely torn apart and regurgitated into a mocked up doctrine that “sounds nice.” “Come in Drake,” she spoke sternly, “what can I do for you?” Drake to a breath, then spoke, “I have some vacation time available, and I was wondering if I could…”
“Leave the paperwork on my desk and I’ll get to it when I can,” Griever cut him off. She acted as if this entire process was a waste of time. He left the paperwork on her desk as she had asked and before he left Jeanette added, “And don’t worry about going out to get my lunch, I’ve set up a lunch date today.” “Yes Ms. Griever,” he uttered out while exiting.
Drake was finally free for lunch during this hour. Normally he’d have to fight hoards of hungry beasts at the nearest sandwich shops, and they weren’t that pleasant to be around. Most of them were businessmen, being that the firm sat in the middle of the business district. They would barge in and demand their sandwiches on bread with weird names. The normal person in this life would never be able to pronounce all the bread and cheese that these people want. He would think to himself while he got his boss the same sandwich and the same chips. But today he didn’t have to fight off the hungry savages, and even though he had peace during this break, he could not be bothered with it. He was too busy trying to reach Connor. The worried Dalmatian left numerous short messages, and texts, but he never received any answer. As the lunch hour came to an end, Drake gave up and left his phone in the drawer of his desk. He wanted to curse the world to no end out of pure frustration and fear. He hoped that something, be it a deity or miracle, would put an end to all this misery.
Griever came back early from lunch. Apparently the date went well for she entered her office with the biggest smile Drake had ever seen, and Griever rarely smiled, save for a winning case. The door was left open; Drake could hear the television pop on, and shuffling of papers in the office.
“Breaking news! We are now coming to you live on the scene of a burning home, as you can see behind me. No one is sure if there is anyone in the home now. Police and firefighters are working to get this fire contained as we speak. There are rumors already circulating about the possibility of arson, yet nothing has been confirmed at the moment. We’ll keep you posted if anything new information occurs.”
“Drake, come in here.” Griever shouted from her office desk. It was a stern voice, but not an angry or “you’re in trouble” voice. The tone was offset, and sent a bit of concern through Drake. He walked in her “domain” and glanced at the television. On the screen was the burning house, a familiar house, with a familiar car in the driveway. “That’s my home!” He shouted and ran out the door before his boss could say anything. She sat there, shocked at the sporadic behavior of her employee, and then became dumbfounded when she looked at the television screen.
Drake sped through the freeway, his job was only ten minutes away, but with the foot on the gas he cut the trip in half. Furiously he drove his car through the neighborhood and in front of the massive group of people watching the flames consume his home. He saw Connor’s car still in the driveway, and he knew that his beloved fox was still in there. He ran towards his home only to be stopped by all forces of the law. “He’s still in there! My boyfriend is still in there!” He shouted, trying to get the attention of the world, but amongst all the chaos the world did not listen. All the Dalmatian could do is watch his life burn and fade away into the epic depths of the past.
II: Freedom Today
House Fire Suspected To Be Arson. Remains Found in Neighborhood Fire. Suspicions of Arson Confirmed. Remains Confirmed By Police. Police Interviewing Persons in Interest in Homicide Case. Police Have Suspect In Custody: Walter Ramirez. Ramirez suspected To Be Involved In Banking Heist and Bombing. Victims Employer Holds Back Story Revealing Bank Heist Details. Defense Attorney Griever Wins Ramirez Case.
The headlines were pinned up on his wall. Five years of investigation, of asking questions, finding people and connections, was all lost to the historic. The case had been active for two years when Drake left his steady job. May, 12th, 2012, beginning of summer and Ramirez made his call to the Dalmatian’s cutthroat boss. The call was a deafening one to Drake, because he knew that Ramirez would never be harmed by the justice system with his number one choice of lawyers. Griever would waltz into the courtroom and trample over every spec of evidence provided by the prosecution. And though the trial took another two years due to medical issues of the defendant, and a possible assassination that was never fully looked into, Ramirez still saw freedom. On that day, Drake left his position and left his current world behind him.
The Dalmatian lay in his bed, in a small apartment on a side of town that looks great during the day, but at night, it is best to keep off the world. The sunlight slowly crept through the blinds and landed on his body. It kept him warm when he did not need warmth. The ceiling fan squeaked and squealed as it spun around moving only the hot air. The AC is busted again, he thought as he dragged himself out the bed, walked into the living room/kitchen area and flipped on the window unit. He flipped open his laptop, which was only hibernating and not fully turned off. Opening the browser to his homepage, an icon filled with the number twenty-three covering a picture of an envelope flashed repeatedly. He clicked the icon to see how many messages were in his inbox that were worth taking a look at. Spam filters are not the genius idea man made them out to be. The thought came to him as he was able to delete nearly half the e-mails, and then began his daily responses to the world. The first response was not an e-mail, but a blog post for a blog he writes for known as Poetic Freedom Today. He opened a new tab, and loaded the posting page. It only took him about a minute to post, since he always had something written the night before.
Wednesday June 9th, 2015: The World is Broken
Alright my fellow poets, today’s prompt is about something, anything, that is broken. A broken television, toy, heart, life, etc. The poem itself could be broken. I leave you all today with a short post and my take on the prompt itself. Remember, every two months we choose the top 3 poems to include in the Poetic Freedom Today magazine, so please leave a working e-mail so we can contact the winners.
I can see for miles on this road, street, bridge, etc.
There is no word to complete that statement without sounding cliché.
Though in the end that is all it ever is—One giant redundancy, balled into flesh and
tissue, and formed into living repetitive words.
And still, the meaning is broken.
The post was sent off for the internet world to see. The mouse rolled over to the next tab, revealing the e-mail page once more and the new messages that were received while he was posting. The first message was from his boss Stacie Holmes, and was titled, “Ginsberg Piece.” Drake already knew what the message contained so he skipped the reading and just hit reply:
I’m attaching the Ginsberg piece to this message. I’m not feeling well at the moment, and I can’t come in today.
Drake left his laptop on as he went back into his bedroom. Today is the only day he misses work. June 9th, the day Connor left this world. I’m sure the world would not care if I missed one day out of an entire year. Especially since it is my only day in which I miss work. Over at the desk where the headlines were pieced together, there was a slip of paper lying on the ground. The Dalmatian picked it up, and placed it with the others, finishing the condensed story of his love’s death. Walter Ramirez Murdered By Car Bomb. The Dalmatian smiled at the thought of Ramirez’s death, for it is what made this day bearable. He knew the person who took that life; he was asked to help in the process, but he could not kill out of revenge. Drake remembered receiving the call from a co-worker of Connor’s a week after he had quit his job. He could smell the cups of coffee being served at the café they had first met at.
Drake waited at an outside table, closer to the street. He never met any of Connor’s co-workers; there was never any time, so it was a shock when one of them had called his cell-phone. A cup of white tea sat in front of Drake as he watched a fairly chubby koala enter the coffee shop, order something, and walk directly to the outside table. “You must be Drake,” he said extending his hand. Drake accepted the gesture and then sat back down taking a sip of his tea. White tea was a drink which always calmed his nerves. “I’m Alan, a very good friend of Connor’s. We spoke on the phone. I’m sorry for your loss; everyone at work felt the effects of his death, me more-so than others.”
“Why is that?” Drake asked suspiciously. It made him think back to the message Connor had sent that day—No matter what anyone says. I love you. Alan was a little taken back from the question. “Well, I was one of his close friends. We had known each other since our school days.”
“It’s a shame, he’s never mentioned you. He’s never mentioned any of his friends really. I would have loved to have met when he was still alive.” Drake sighed and looked at his tea for a moment. “I’m sure you didn’t call me just meet who he was dating.”
“Ramirez.” Alan spoke flatly. “We can rid the world of this person. It would be complete justice for us! If our system can’t contain this animal, then we can. And we should!”
The Dalmatian took a swig of his tea, which was starting to become cold. There was a moment of silence as Drake took more than a moment to think over the proposition. He then looked up; staring at the tall buildings, and saw what greed built. He saw the world in a different light. He then brought his attention back to Alan. “You see those buildings? That is justice. That is our system. I loved Connor, but I won’t kill for vengeance. I won’t say a word about this conversation, but I also won’t pull the trigger.”
Drake remembered the news report about Ramirez happening only two days after the meeting. Alan was never caught, and the police left the case to unsolved homicides. Drake never really saw Alan. There was no after funeral friendship to try and console each other. There was only the cold grasp of loneliness, however, Drake welcomed it, because what followed was a sense of anonymity. Drake only had acquaintances from work, and no family. Connor had no family either. They were both the shunned family members for being who they were.
I’ve finally escaped the epic depths of the past. He thought as he pieced his shrine to it together. He never escaped; the memories are still there, still held by the vast storage systems of his mind. Drake left it all behind, only to take pieces of it with him along with him. Moving on is a bitch! But Drake has moved on. He has a new job, new home, maybe no friends, but he is living his life. Isn’t that the definition of “moving on?” Living life, or not letting a traumatic experience, such as losing a loved one, inhibit the action of living, paying the bills, or even crawling out of bed. That is what the world wants. There’s no time for people who weep by the coffin. They are the ones left behind. Drake was not left behind.
“I need coffee.” The caffeine addicted Dalmatian said to himself while grabbing some clothes found in a basket, no knowing if they were clean or dirty. As soon as he was dressed he walked out of his home, and walked up the street to the nearest coffee shop that wasn’t a Starbucks or a Seattle’s Best. It was a no name coffee shop. A place where they served good coffee and no one bothered to find out the name. It was always called the “Hole in the Wall,” and to anyone’s knowledge who’s to say that, that wasn’t the name of the place. It could have been called Killing Unicorns and no one would have noticed (save the city legislators). But it wasn’t called Killing Unicorns or the Hole in the Wall. It was called Vanishing Point. Drake loved their coffee. It was never extremely strong or too weak. There was no watering down of the coffee. There was only coffee in what seemed like a natural state, demolished by cream and a few packets of sugar or sugar substitute. Drake sat at a table closest to the window, newspaper unfolded on the small red table. In five years, nothing has really changed in this world. Especially the news. And still we read it anyways. I wonder what it is that makes the reports of death, and other crimes so popular. Maybe I should do a topic on the blog about it. Drake thought to himself while skimming the few headlines. The only differences were the authors of the articles. He folded the paper up, and pulled out his notebook. It was time to think of next week’s blog post. Before he could open his journal, he noticed a fairly chubby Koala enjoying a cup of Vanishing Point’s finest. The Dalmatian left his table for a moment, only to say hi. He didn’t want to intrude on someone’s coffee ritual.
“Alan! It’s been awhile.” Alan looked up and tried to place a look of confusion on his face. “I’m sorry. I don’t believe I know you. My name is not Alan.” Drake was a little stunned at the response. He was not a forgetful person, and he knew who the Koala was that sat in front of him.
“Look, if you’re pissed about me staying out of your little operation, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t be frie…”
“I said I’m not Alan! Now please, leave me the fuck alone!” Alan said with force, but only loud enough for the Dalmatian to hear. The entire shop still went about its day.
“Is everything alright,” a voice appeared from behind. Alan’s body froze, and Drake became tense. Connor. He knew the voice behind him. Alan wished the world would have ended that moment, for he did not want to witness the next few minutes of this situation. Drake turned around, and he was right. The Fox he once loved, still loves, was standing right there in front of him. It was no illusion, no caffeine high or imaginative world he was in. It was real life, and Connor was alive.
Connor gave a faint smile, took a deep breath, then spoke, “I believe we have a lot to discuss.” Drake gave a small laugh, a nervous laugh. He could not comprehend all the emotions that were going through him at that moment. He wanted to be angry, happy, and depressed all at the same time. He wanted to scream out towards the heavens, to the God that never answered his prayers, only to comprehend this exact moment. But he held it all back, even the tears, and could only utter these words, “I think an explanation would be a nice addition to this…” He let the words trail off, not being able to complete the sentence. But there was never a word to describe it.
Drake and Connor took their seats across from each other. Alan stared into his coffee. He was unsure of how Drake would take the upcoming news, and he was ready to take him out if it was necessary. Connor took a sip of his coffee, while Drake ordered a cup of white tea instead.
“Do you think another cup of caffeine is really necessary?” Alan spoke, only trying to keep the next moments of life civil.
“I’m in my right mind. I’m not sure if you are. I won’t be doing anything illogical, such as hurting anyone.” Drake spat back at Alan. He didn’t like the accusations, but who would? “Anyways, I think its time we get to the story. I want truth, all of it. I think I deserve that much for the five years of my life.”
Connor took a glance out the window, back at his coffee, then glared right at Drake. “Alan is no longer alive.”
Drake chuckled a bit, “I see him in front of me. Are you saying I’m crazy?”
“You were told he was Alan. You know this person as Alan, but he is not, nor is he ever going to be Alan. Alan died in the fire. Those were the remains that were confirmed to be mine. This is going to be painful to hear, Drake, but I was seeing Alan at the time. He was not the Koala here, but a caring Fox from work. It was a sudden experience at the time.”
“Let me guess, you were working late, and the Real Alan just happened to be there at the same time. Chemistry exploded in the air, and you fell in love. Leaving me out of the picture. Lets skip how it started between you and Alan. It’s not something I care about. As you both know, today is the anniversary of Connor’s death. Let’s start the story there, and with the name of this Koala here.” Drake interrupted.
“My real name’s Malcolm. I’m the one who has been protecting your boyfriend since the incident,” The Koala spoke, offering one of his very few additions to the story.
“I’m debating on the title. I can forgive a few sexual encounters, even the relationship with Alan. But the story I’m about to here, we’ll just have to see after it spawns out.” The Dalmatian added harshly. He took a sip of his tea, to calm his nerves a bit more. He could feel the tea fighting off the adrenaline.
“Drake, the day it happened. Alan, the real Alan, and I were waiting for you. I sent you a text, do you remember?” Drake nodded signaling the memory was stuck with him. “I love you Drake. That wasn’t a lie, it was never a lie. I sent that to you because I was preparing both you and me, for what was planned. I was going to leave you that day, for Alan. I was never expecting Walter to show. He was already a suspect in the Bank heist that year; my story would have signed his complete incarceration. I had a few inside sources, thanks to Malcolm.”
“Seems Malcolm knows a lot of people. Dangerous people. I hope I never have to meet them, especially in the near future.” Drake interrupted once more, thinking back to Ramirez’s death. Malcolm only gave a faint nervous chuckle to the remark, and took a final sip of his coffee before ordering another.
Connor took a moment to sip on his coffee, and then began the story once again. “Walter did burn down the house. There is not mistaking that. If it wasn’t for your employer…”
“I’m no longer employed by them!” Drake cut him off. It seemed like an insult to bring up his early work. It was almost like Connor was saying it was He who set Ramirez free.
“No matter. Either way, Ramirez got off and had his freedom. That is why Malcolm killed him. There was no saving Alan. He was trapped in bathroom when the fire began. Not the best way to go and I am sorry he left this world.”
“How did you escape?” Drake questioned. He knew Malcolm had his hand in some aspect of that day.
“Malcolm knew that Ramirez was out to kill me. He was the one who pulled me out of the fire. By that time, it was already too late for Alan. I’ve been with Malcolm ever since the incident.” Connor said, taking another sip of his coffee, finishing the cup.
“And it didn’t occur to you to even inform me of the details? I went five years thinking you were dead, and here you are, telling me that the body I looked at was not yours. It was your lovers. Is Ramirez really dead, or did you burn his brothers body?” He stopped himself for a moment, gathered his thoughts and pushed back the wave of anger he felt. “Sorry about that last remark. This is all rather challenging to take in.” He spoke while looking out the window, and the tall buildings. There is no sky today. The Dalmatian thought to himself. No, not today. Possibly yesterday, and even tomorrow, but not today. “If there is nothing more of the past, I believe I’ll take my exit.”
“We would appreciate you not telling anyone about this.” Malcolm added before Drake got up to exit. The Dalmatian smiled and glanced at the Koala. “How am I supposed to write a holy litany in your silly mood? The words of Ginsberg. There’s no one to tell the story to. Unless I’m meeting you people more than once. But even that idea is laughable. It’s a shame. I would have loved to meet the real Alan. He seems like a nice person. I expect no communication in the future!” With that said, Drake grabbed his stuff, finished his tea, and walked on into the city streets.
He disappeared into the vast crowd and took the five minute walk to his home. He opened the door to this apartment, and entered into the cool room. The window unit was still turned on, and the room was iced. He shut it off, leaving the ceiling fans on, and let them circulate the cold air throughout his home. He walked into his room, and released all the tears he held back. Drake is not the type to break things, but he demolished his shrine, burned the headlines in the garbage, and broke all the framed pictures, though they were few, of Connor. When the past was finally burned out of existence, the tears stopped. The chapter of his life with Connor had finally ended, and it was time to move on. I had been left behind all these years. Now I am finally free from the epic depths of the past.
A week had past. The trio never saw each other after that day. Drake had forgotten all of the past, and started to create his new future with the Poetic Freedom Today magazine. It was a new world for him; a better world for him.
The sun had started to take its exit. From the bedroom window Drake was standing. He closed his eyes and felt the small breeze flow onto his face, and he thought once again of hitchhiking through the country; of being invisible. Again he could feel the soft spring wind whip across his face in the back of the truck he imagined sitting in. It was his howl. Drake opened his eyes, and smile of relief ran across the Dalmatian’s face. This is freedom!