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Name: Justine
Location: Annapolis, Maryland, United States

Justine, is a little bit more than you'd expect. This is where you are supposed to put your "elevator speech". What you'd say if you were in the elevator with somebody you wanted to connect with. I don't have an "elevator speech". If I ran smack-dab into one of my "heroes" I'd just have to smile and be polite and keep my yipper shut and that's probably for the best anyway!

Monday, October 31, 2005
Hello little girl, I'm a vampire.
"Hello little girl, I'm a vampire". He said to me as he pounced through the door in a bad satin cape and a pair of dentist made fangs.

He twisted into a mock hover three feet away from where I sat, working the scanner.

I looked up at Justin, with a "Is this turkey for real?" look in my eyes. Justin chuckled a little bit.

"Halloween already this year?" Justin laughed. "I mean really, every year it's the same thing with you. Are you sure vampires really look like that? Wouldn't somebody who'd lived hundreds of years have developed a better fashion sense. Some decent grooming habits perhaps?"

"You never take me seriously Justin, but someday you'll see those who live the lifestyle won't be mocked." Our visitor effected a stiff stance and looked down his slightly crooked nose at both of us."

"Daniel I'm not talking about a lifestyle choice, I'm talking about personal appearance. And you, old boy, look like shite." Justin paused , the phone rang and he answered it..

Daniel turned his attentions on me. "I am a vampire, the real thing. I live on the human life energy of others. I drink their blood. Be glad I don't find you attractive or you would already be my slave."

He had on too many layers of white pancake and iridescent green-yellow contact lenses . The fake fangs in his mouth mangled his words as well as his bottom lip. Daniel was sloppy and creepy at best. My first take was that he was one of those jerky guys in their nondescript late twenties who wished they were something besides a dweeby nobody. So voila....I had the charming experience of being dissed by a post-adolescent wanker. I'd seen too many before and he wasn't scaring me.

"Well that works out well for both of us, because I find congress with parasites distasteful. Good day to you." I smiled my official company smile and used my best Polly Perky telephone voice. Daniel stood there steaming beneath his badly chopped Cher wig. I turned back to my work.

Justin was still on the phone. Rather than sit down quietly and wait to conduct business, Daniel felt compelled to press his intimidation strategy.

"You don't understand. I can rule you. You are my food." He put a hand on my shoulder. That was his third mistake of the evening. I draw the line at being pawed by idiots.

"Do not touch me." I replied over my shoulder.

He put his other hand on the other shoulder.

"Do not touch me." I replied a little louder.

Justin turned from his phone conversation to watch my situation.

Daniel leaned over and pushed his mouth against my ear.

"You see how my touch feels. You will want me now. Let's see if I give you satisfaction."

"Don not touch me. Third time and done. Fairly warned you are."

"Daniel get away from her." Justin took a firm tone. Then he tilted his head at me and gave me a wink. That was our universal signal for me to do what I deemed necessary to defuse the situation.

"No Justin, she wants me. She can't resist."

The barrel of my Glock jabbed him in the crotch. I think I hit testicles on the first try. I had gotten very good at pulling the gun from the holster without ruffling my jacket. Even though the safety was still on, a gun barrell is an impressive demonstrative aid.

"Go sit on the sofa and leave me alone. Leech." I murmered.

Daniel let go and backed over to the sofa. Genuinely pale beneath his makeup, he stared at me with true fear. I held the gun level on him until Justin said somethinig.

"Now that I'm off the phone I'll make sure he behaves himself Ms. Townsend. Please continue." Justin could barely hold in a laugh.

I turned back to my work and started another set of photographs through the scanner.

Justin moved around his desk and snatched Daniel up from the sofa by his ear.

"Now, Mr. Hoskins, let's see if we can't take you outside and teach you how to properly address a lady you meet in someone's business office."

Hoskins left the rooom on tiptoe, hanging by his ear on Justin's hand. His reparte was replaced by a high pitched squeal of panic and pain.

Justin McQuinn was a very protective boss. We worked at night a lot. He'd encouraged me to get a concealed weapons permit. Moreover he'd encouraged and paid for my pistol training. What a guy.

Because of him, for the first time in my life when a man threatened me, I'd been able to end the argument my way.

I liked it.
Fading Right Before My Eyes

Two weeks ago I was sitting in this same spot. Worrying about shamanic journeying, writing, moving toward a new career.

Two weeks later, I'm sitting her like an empty beer can on a grassy embankment beside an interstate. Keep the hands moving, 10 minutes....I hear the faint mantra sliding away. I see myself fading right before my eyes.

Dropping back into the wallpaper it took me so long to get out of. Fading back into that same 2D chalk outline on the sidewalk of life. If it would only rain, I'd fade away....fade away completly....right before my eyes.

My eyes themselves keep fading in and out. All I want to do is close my eyes and drop instantly into deep sleep. Into sleep that shuts out the slide backwards....sliding backwards. Fading right before my eyes.

Hot. It is so damn hot all the time.....32 degrees outside and 85 inside. Roasting like I'm in hell. I can't keep my fingers moving. Even that is fading away from me now.

I'm uncurling from the fire of life, drifting up to the sky.....smoke, smoke, smoke, fading away before my eyes.

No coherent eyes, no coherent thoughts, bogged down in the thick insulation. All the defesnes rushing forward, wrapping me in a thousand old plagues where coming at me full force. Like a slo-mo view of the immune system bounding into action.

Instead of charging like the cavalry it springs forward in firefighter's foam like they use at the airport. The runway is covered in thick polymorphic goop......trying to stop the sparks of a crash landing. The pilot is at the controls and he is trying to grace down on the runway. Trying to hold the nose in the air....trying to let the belly slide on the slick runway......keeping the wings up...intact.....

Beaming in on hope for another day.

Meanwhile the rest of belted tight into my seat. My head and arms in the braced position. The lights flicker......there is the sound of grating metal. There is that quick realization that airspeed and groundspeed are two different things. There is the rush and the engines reverse.

I am out of the clouds......speeding across the tarmac....the ambulances and fire trucks gathered nearby. All of them watching with their own interests...the crash of my life.

Some of them are thinking of what time they'll get home tonight, some of them are wondering why my landing gear malfunctioned, some of them are wondering why I came to this airport at all, some of them are looking away until there is something they can do. Either walk away or come forward with a stretcher or a body bag.

To me it all caroms along in slow motion. As my eyes go dimly closed, and my mind shuts down, and the whole picture fades slowly from view.

Fades right before my eyes.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Arcing through the October rain, diving into a pool of solitude I snatched out of thin air, I find myself gobbling up the page. Like a vampire on a virgin...chomping merrily away. Judgements aside, this is what I crave.

Forbidden peace, forbidden light, all things forboten and locked behind a castle door. In the dungeon, I go slithering with the snakes and the lizards and the spiders. My mind skips around from one disaster to another...down here in the dark.

But the words are what I crave.... all the other things..the noise...the clatter... the busy-ness are just distractions to keep me from finding the trap door into the grotto where the real things live.

I've crossed the desert on a camel. Gone out and come back. I've seen the oasis lights twinkle in the night from far, far away.

Now I am here, digging in the dark, winding through the maze in my mind that not even the Sonoran sun could burn away. I've seen the Mystery Painting in Taos. I've seen the sunset on the Sacred Moutains. I've flown eastward from the land of a thousand skies into the night of the east coast.

I've watched the sun twist across the surface of the Atlantic Ocean and seen it slice into the snowdrifts of the midwest.

All the time I've carried my little dungeon with me. It's been there, scary and omnipresent. Waiting for me to open the door, waiting for me to dive through the black pool of fear, and find the hidden trap door to the treasure room.

Waiting for me to come home. Through the back door. Through the confusion. Through all the jabbering shrieks of the hobgoblins circling close by.

Rattle, rattle, rattle, all the chains I forged in life....falling I dive....arching silently...into a life solely my own.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Only Five Minutes More, Only Five Minutes More
"Five minutes more, only five minutes more.....just let me stay here in your arms........"

Those are the lines to the song "Five Minutes More" was popular sometime in the forties or thirties. The fact I ever hear it at all is an amazing conglomeration of fates and atmospheric miracles.

Cruising down the highway in the dark, making the round about way to the laundramat on a rainy Saturday night, my radio shifted and picked up a rogue station playing remastered vinyls from the thirties and fourties.

It was a homegrown kind of show, stuck on a low power public access channel somewhere more than 100 miles away. The host was a man who sounded self-confident, fourty, and un-prepossessing. He patiently read all the serial number and label information from each track as he played it. Confident that he was imparting lost knowledge to the world, he kept at his post despite the rain and the static in the signal.

It was like getting a lost broadcast from the Pharoh Amenhotep. Passing along the last of the sacred messages from the Oracle at the temple of Osiris.

Maggie Lane recorded with Tommy Dorsey band until she retired to teach piano in California. Somehow this was important to it should be important to someone else.

The rain sloshed harder on the windshield. The traffic piled up higher on the expressway bypass. Maggie Lane washed out of my mind, like so many other things.

Nobody would be broadcasting late night messages about me. Hell nobody even knew where I was at that moment. I could have wandered off, passed my exit and driven straight on until morning. I could have arrived, rumpled and anonymous in Las Vegas and spent my 20 dollars in washing machine quarters on Lucky Diamond Slots. It would have made no difference to anyone.

There was no little man on obtuse radio tracking my movements, my career. He wouldn't be saying "She worked as a computer tech until she drove off for Vegas one night and never returned."

I was washing away into the night just like Maggie Lane. "Unknelled, uncoffined, unknown." as Byron had written about somebody, somewhere, sometime.

I was alone in the dark in my comfortable leather driver's seat basking in the subtle green light of the radio. Swimming in the brisk cool stream on anonymity. I was free. Free to drive as far the road would go. Free to drop my dirty laundry out the window, leaving an insignificant trail following me, no more than a few miles at best, into a future that was utterly and completely open.