3 Faces of Jack

A Head of the Game

1."Well here's your problem," I pat the workstation sitting on the office drone's desk, "it appears the monitor's been gutted out and now there's a severed human head right where all the important wire-y stuff should be."

The monitor is aged beige plastic, bulky as the TV set in your grandmother's bedroom, with the human head stuffed inside bulging eyes and howling silent. 

"Uh-huh," the office drone shrugs, tapping away on their phone in dollar store casual Friday khakis. It's almost 3:30 before the weekend and they've checked out sometime before lunch. 

"Did you recently open any suspicious e-mails?" I ask testing the absence of a screen by waving my hand inside the monitor's frame just to the side of the screaming severed head. 

"No," the office drone shrugs, hits send on their phone, rolls eyes, "maybe. I don't know."

"Yeah," I shake my head and curious lean across the desk to turn on the workstation speakers. 

There's a crackle followed by the distinct wail of someone whose soul is being devoured by giant centipedes from another dimension. Just underneath that you can hear agonized prayers in foreign languages as some old timey carnival tune pipes off a calliope. 

I turn off the workstation speakers and leaning up from the desk peer out over the rows of gray interlocking cubicles. "Excuse me," I shout through cupped hands, "but does anyone else have a chopped off but still very much alive human head inside their monitors?"

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3 Faces of Jack

Rescuing the Ghost

No one left alive to recollect the death tagged to the ghost, but we all know the land is haunted and politely say nothing of whatever horrors it may contain. Where's this now? Just down the block, a small house floating abandoned in a lake of knee high grass. The door is weathered but un-violated with a modest porch around it requiring no more than a quick sweep of some leaves. Everything looks normal enough on first inspection. Yet you can't help but notice how there's no FOR SALE sign staked into the yard despite investment firms snatching up every surrounding property in the neighborhood ? Then it dawns on you, when you've lived up in this neck of Belvedere long enough. How there's no bars on the windows and how the windows are unbroken anyway. How there's no sex worker manning a shift on the corner, no addict on the nod, nor wino seeking shelter, sprawled on the porch. Shit, even the coyotes refuse to prowl the grounds. 

Something's up. 

We all know it. The urge to cross to the other side of the street upon approach comes from an atavistic instinct when our ancestors knew something bad outside the campfire glow waited. The dogs we walk whimper when they get too close to the house. Laughter dries in the throat when passed, and the neighbors thank fuck that the land it sits on is of decent size but nevertheless take shelter behind view impenetrable fences. 

Like I said - something's up. 

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3 Faces of Jack

The Second Whiskey

After Krav class and AWOL on my caregiver duties. Hiding out. Some fucking bar off some fucking exit out there yonder in E-I-E-I-OTP Land. Doesn't matter which one. All the same really, walls crammed with framed Dad Rock tour posters, faux retro tchotchkes, and TV screens blaring the Game or talk shows about the Game. Smell of hot wings and vape pens and stale beer. It's not the Admiral's Grave but it'll do. I man a stool at the bar because a bartender at a place like this is less likely to engage you in a conversation than one of the wait staff would if I took a table. I'm reading comic book reviews on my phone. Sipping a Jamie in red gym shorts and PE class grey Black Flag shirt. Still damp with sweat, mine and my sparring partners, with six days of stubble across the dome and beard creeping a bit past Star Fleet regs. 

It'll do. This place. Neither known nor ignored - free - just another old man nursing a drink before driving to a home he'd rather not be. 

It's good. So long as no one fucks it all up...

... and plop! Some asshole drops into the stool on my sinister side. 

With the exception of me and some woman down at the other end of the bar it's empty seats all around the place. 

He's drunk, he's unshaven, he's got on a plaid shirt that bulges around the gut, and reeks of a future wreck on 285. He orders a beer that looks like foamed piss and a well whiskey shot. He yells at one of the TV screens about some play or lack thereof. 

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3 Faces of Jack

Grappling

My sparring partner is this affable kid with bible verses inked on thick but undefined arms. He's a BJJ cat - Brazilian Ju-Jitsu - and since their sifu is on sick leave we're incorporating elements of their class into ours. Confession. Not a fan of grapplin' and wrasslin'. I don't want to tango and tangle up with some dude unless I'm twink drunk. Nuh-uh. I want to strike, disable, and get whoever I'm protecting as far away as possible from the situation even if that whoever is me. I'm ex-Navy. Think like a battleship, if I don't outsize it I outrun it. I strike and keep moving. Makes sense. Economical. Keeps me out of their range but also keeps the attention on me. Let backup move into position, let 911 get dialed, let someone necessary get out of there. 

Or so the self-delusion goes. 

Kid Christian is on me quick. He's got his weight pressing the air out of me. I'm going through the motions I've been shown, shrimping out, shifting hips and trying to slide a leg, but he's too quick. Panicking. Can't think straight. I'm pinned down. Fuck this. I do what I usually do in class. Hulk out. I go to buck him and catch him off guard enough to almost slip out but he recovers quick. He's back on me with the quickness and I'm locked around the neck. He's got knees pressed into ribs and hips. I try to buck again but he's got himself flattened so there's no leverage for me to use my strength on. 

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3 Faces of Jack

Roundabout

Park in the lot of an abandoned church. There's a playground adjacent with waist high fence chained off and easily hopped. Step past without word the grey children who hover seated under the metal frame that is all that remains of a swing set. Pollen swirls in puddles from the center of which eyeballs peer up at my approach. Confessions of murders and crimes so much worse than that are whispered by the smiling plastic horses whose chipped paint leave only the teeth of their grin to remain. I make my way to the center of a rusted roundabout that some delinquent (me) spray painted a seven pointed star on the surface of so it can only be seen from above... or below. I pull out a pint of Jameson's. I glug back a shot to warm the courage and with magick-marker scrawl out a summoning-sigil. One of 23 I've memorized and once recalled may never be so again. I speak a name that silences the whispering horses and rises gasps from the grey children. Gust of wind brings a rain of bone white dogwood petals fluttering down and as they strike the air around the roundabout incinerate into phosphorescent sparks. 

Orgone reek of locker room orgasms and electric-fried need. Shimmer as the late afternoon light refracts from the unseen folding itself up into something that can fit in our dimension. Another shot of Jamie and I speak the concluding words of the invocation - "C'mon already, I ain't got all day here." 

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3 Faces of Jack

The Little Girl with Locks for Eyes

I can't tell my therapist everything. 

Like how there's a little girl with combination locks where her eyeballs should be and every key you've ever lost now the crooked fangs in her grin. She's standing in the closet and won't stop screaming. Think sound of subway train brakes screeching before inevitable derailment. Other than that though she looks sitcom normal. Blond pigtails. Blue overalls. Rainbow tee shirt. Focus on that. Not the teddy bear dangling from one hand with a dozen rusted blades jabbed handle deep into face and torso while the other points steadily at me. 

Medusa rules apply - don't look at the eyes.

You don't have to though. You can hear them insect clicking as the dials on the locks spin on their own, quick, random, as if invisible fingers guessed at their combination. But the longer you gaze into the dials the slower they spin until their rotations cease entirely. In that moment the girl with locks for eyes has your number. A secret number tallied up before you were born. With this number the soul, whether you believe in them or not, is now hers to claim and as such she's free to devour it along with the literal heart it came metaphorically wrapped in. 

The little girl with locks for eyes looks very hungry indeed and the eyes spin a little slower. 

I slam the closet door, breathe in deep, and turn to Mary Ossuary - "Well that's no good."

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3 Faces of Jack

The Realms of Bad Magick

Damage Report: Today's session of the Talking Cure rerouted with EMDR therapy bypassed upon announcement that my therapist would be moving away in two months. Wow. Ha, why there you are my old Abandonment Issues, been wondering where you've been hiding these last few weeks. Apparently it was at the right moment which for me would be the worst time.  Such is life here in the realms of Bad Magick. Just one more person I opened myself up to leaving the state if not the scene. Mannnnn, I'm better than Delta or Greyhoun for getting out of Terminus. Maybe that's why some people here aren't closer to me. They can't leave yet. Too much work, too much love and hurt to learn here in Mother Terminus before they can move on with the rest. Any closer and it would be wham bam thank you Eris all the way out of town off on a bold new chapter in the adventure of their lives. 

Process it.
 

Put it down.

Confess here because here I know how to talk and you know how to listen. 

Open up the Realms of Bad Magick. 

Where Jungian synchronicities poltergeist the luck and awaken Disassociation's Angel. 

Close your eyes. 

Open them, start again, and this is what disassociation looks like. 

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3 Faces of Jack

Kill Baby

 

Terminus, 19-90-Never: A crimson Jolly Roger undulates against the black panties its emblazoned across. Between legs splayed open from edge of office chair, a hand rubs beneath the skull to wake the rose's bloom. It almost looks as if the skull is trying to speak, utter some curse or prophecy or secret. Don't listen to it. It lies. Avert thy gaze. Concentrate. There's black boots to scabbed knees. There's bruises and scars (fresh and old) along the interior of both thighs. There's a tattoo of Munch's Scream that uses the belly button as the mouth's center. There's a leather jacket, correction - there's my leather jacket, wrapped around bare torso. There's a hand holding a gym coach's stop watch. Then there's the face and even decades later I can't give words to it because she - and worse you - will know exactly who I'm talking about. Doesn't matter. You can't see it. Not through the gas mask bong she's wearing, through plastic visor there is only smoke for eyes and tres Vader asthma huff. 

As for your humble correspondent? 

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3 Faces of Jack

Life without Poison Day 5

Spent today riding out a buncha junkie cliches. More than the nicotine is demanded here. Okay? Listen. It's the Poison, plain and simple, I need. Give it to me, just give it to me so I can breathe again. Okay? Okay, okay, I'm backing up, sitting down, arms open and held up to show no harm. But tell me this: do you know what the Poison does? Really does? It's more than suicide in slow motion it's a Life Style. It's like, it's like insanity is this public pool and the World is holding your head under it. You can't breathe, no escape, you try to kick out, break free, fight, but the world is too big, too strong, too mean. And it's no regular insanity the World drowns you in but the cruelest, saddest fucking second hand insanity it could piss into a hole to baptize you in horror for a few decades with. But then the Poison arrives just when y It's sugar, it's fats, it's caffeine, it's video-games, it's hurting people, it's the bottle, it's the pipe, the straw, the needle, but mainly, mainly, it's the fucking cigarette. People, okay, the cigarette, the most perfect fucking instrument of death man ever made out of the Goddess's bountiful earth. One of the rare manifestations of the Poison that lets you manage the other Poisons - those ingested and those indigenous to that beast born of Nature and Nurture's union.

Without the Poison I'm incomplete. 

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