Born when Mars crashed into Venus, he’s left a path of destruction across the Earth. He’s an agent of conquest concealed beneath a baby face.
He’s antisocial, known to fly solo, too far removed from his victims to regard their suffering. He targets isolated individuals, striking from above because he knows even sitting ducks can be flighty. He cheats, doses his arrowheads with neurotoxins so that his quarry always make bad decisions.
You’ll never catch him. His attack pattern is random. He chooses his victims with a blindfold on.
He compartmentalizes, careful to hide his secret life from his wife. The one time he tasted his own medicine his Psyche went to hell and back again.
Some say they knew his work at first sight, but no one ever sees him coming. He will change you fundamentally. You will think of your life in terms of who you were before he stung you and who he allowed you to be.
Another Valentine’s Day is upon us, which means it’s time to lower the storm shudders, draw up the staircase, and make sure the panic room is stocked with non-perishables. You know better than to get caught in the foyer when St. Valentine gets here.
Resist the temptation to try to spot him lumbering beneath the street lamps. Don’t go peeking through the keyhole looking for tattered robes. Don’t press your ear to the door to listen for howling on the wind, the clicking of his inverted kneecaps, or bones dragging along the picket fence. He’s out there, raising his own severed head to scan the buildings for life signs, a mangled manifestation just as Emperor Claudius had left him.
Do not attempt to pilot a drone from your roof in an attempt to capture a glimpse of the specter. Do not affix a GoPro to your mailbox or an infrared system to your lawn gnome. Just let the man serve out his punishment in peace, sacrifice your goat, and leave it out on the boulevard like you do every year.
You don’t want to end up like my friend Zeke.
The Cautionary Tale of Ezekiel Lawson
Ezekiel, or Zeke as we called him, was a trophy hunter. The man kept the town’s taxidermist in business until he took to doing it himself. He didn’t have a piece of furniture that hadn’t once been something living. His rumpus room had more fur than wallpaper, with so many antlers they practically an earthquake hazard.
Zeke was day trader, which afforded him the luxury of going on safari. He knew everything about hunting dangerous game. He told stories at the bar, gave us unsolicited lectures on concealment, wind flows, and paw prints. He claimed he took out an entire pack of wolves without reloading his rifle.
“And I did it on a level playing field. No deer stand, no bait, none of that bullshit.”
We never challenged him. After all he had the heads to prove it and he relished in the opportunity to count all six of them out. Still when Zeke said he was going after Valentine’s dire wolves we were all skeptical.
“Valentine is bound by the code of Lupercalia festival to walk those wolves. His punishment for trying to convert one of lord Februus’s followers. Those wolves are trained to sniff out evil spirits, which stands to reason they’re spirits themselves. Are you sure a bullet would do the trick?”
“They leave tracks don’t they?”
“Big as catcher’s mitts.”
“They shit on your lawn don’t they?
“Every damn time.”
“Then beneath them long mangy hides they’re still squishy on the inside.”
“What about Februus?”
“Please. The underworld is teaming with enchanted beings. You think he’s really going to miss one?”
We conceded that notion into our beers. Every one of us had an encounter with one of Februus’s creature at one time or another.
Still, I wish I’d reminded Zeke where those wolf droppings usually came from.
Zeke raised his mug. “Come on boys. My rumpus room needs a new rug.”
We clinked glasses.
On the morning of February 15thI awoke to my wife’s screams. Melissa had gone out front with the old pooper-scooper, hoping to get a start on those dire wolf droppings, when she spotted a blood trail in the snow. She found poor Zeke’s head in the birdbath, mouth wide open, one eye milky white, the other torn out of the socket with a few out stretched ribbons of muscle trying to cling for it. Half of Zeke’s face was rust colored with dried blood. The other half had been gnawed down to the bone.
That wasn’t what I found most disturbing. Zeke had seen something that night that had turned his raven hair white.
A Word of Caution This Valentine’s Day
You probably already know this, but some of you dumbass thrill seekers need a reminder. February is Februus’s month and Februus is the God of purification. In ancient Etruscan the word februare literally means “a purging.” I know you millennials like to play fast and loose with the old ways, but this is not a date night, not a time for young lovers to go skipping around downtown. Lest you want be ground down to dire wolf droppings.
Lupercalia or “Valentine’s Day,” is a time for Februus to drive dark spirits back to underworld where they belong. It’s not our place to spectate. Our role is to cower in quiet solitude of our fortified vaults, thankful that we’ve been spared for another year.
Now y’all stay safe and have a happy Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is here. For some it’s the biggest date night of the year, a time for hard won reservations, and subpar service. When collective expectation is at a fever pitch. A time to feel put on the spot by romantic peer pressure. A day when one-upmanship makes lovers jump through flaming hoops to prove their feelings.
For some it is a day to abuse social media with forced romantic sentiment, a day for contrived vows that could only feel genuine if delivered in person. Some clog news feeds with couple’s selfies, while others clean house with mass-unfollowings.
After Christmas and New Year’s, Valentine’s Day is the last note in a overwhelming chord. For some it’s a victory lap, a day to celebrate the love they’ve been given. For others it’s the last stretch of a gauntlet of loneliness. V-Day is when they cash the last of their resolutions in.
Permit me to speak from the heart, with some help from the gut, with a little bit of bite, and a twist of the tongue.
My volatile Valentine’s vendetta derives its viewpoint from a bevy of vulgar visuals. Vapid vagrants with malevolent intent, visiting taverns to vocalize a variety of vacuous vows, proverbs with vanilla verbiage voiced verbatim, inviting victims to venture beneath their duvet for a vigorous vault through venerial viruses.
Avoiding reverence, evasive lovers veto verses, and revoke overtures. Vexed with a variety of vultures vying for votes, vixens avert involvement. My vehement vows provoke vagabonds to vanish. My devotion advances vamps through a vortex. Their verdict delivers a violent vivisection of vital vascular valves and vessels, leaving a vacated void, a victory for the villainous, a vasectomy of the virtuous, a vestige of St. Valentine’s venture.
A memory memory for the 14th of February, the Saint beaten beheaded, left to rot, I see no reason, the real reason for the season should ever be forgot.
This year, I’m one of those bah-humbuggers. To quote Placebo, “I’m killing time on Valentine’s. Waiting for the day to end.” For me the day completes a trilogy of unhappy holidays. Some days I believe in love at first sight, sometimes I want to tell Cupid where he can stick his arrows. Today is one of those.
If you’re at home reading blogs on Valentine’s, then I think I know which camp you’re in. If you’re looking for something to read, that hits that bittersweet spot then I’ve got you covered. Be you a hopeless romantic or a ceaseless cynic, I’ve got something for you.
May I present my best posts on romance, be they short stories or blog entries, poems or podcasts, I’ve got something to make the time pass.
Don’t worry, this rant doesn’t come from the perspective of an outsider looking in, no, it’s the confession of a participant. It’s racier than my usual fare, but the subject matter demands it to be. Don’t worry, there’s no judgements here. Why would I preach when I can immerse you in the sin?
If reading this makes you feel a little dirty, then my work here is done.
11th Hour Valentines
It’s last call. It’s the lightning round. It’s anybody’s game. It’s the final countdown. It’s your fifteen minutes to claim. It’s the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve. It’s the eleventh hour before Valentine’s Day. It’s the last round of a speed date, no pressure.
We go from looking for a soulmate, to someone to fill a space. We detach our heartstrings to make ourselves more appetizing. We go from real things to physical flings. We took our shot, now we’re rebounds just looking for a layup. Casting off our spines, we bend over backwards to lower our standards. We were your sour grapes, now we’re your low hanging fruit. Our desperation is in season. Come and get it.
It’s the end of the world. Time to find somebody to share it with. There’s a mushroom cloud on the horizon. We don’t want to leave a lonesome silhouette.
We shoot through the crowd, like comets looking for celestial bodies worth orbiting. Circling one, then another, looking for an opening, holding our breath until we can get into your atmosphere.
The clock is ticking. The window is closing. The train is leaving. The pod bay doors are down to a slit. The spark is running out of string. The stars are aligned. The sundial is ready for the ritual. We’ve got to sacrifice someone to our ego.
Time to blow as many kisses as we can, and hope that some of them stick. Time to throw ourselves into a pair of open arms, and hope we’re well received. We’re suicide kings with daggers for brains, and hearts hovering over our sleeves. Time to play the hand we were dealt.
Be happy to strike fool’s gold. Be happy to find a zirconium in the rough. Be happy with a forgery. It all looks real in the dark.
It’s bar close. It’s winning time. It’s the last few feet before the finish line. The night is young, but we’re aging out of it.
It’s okay if you’ve lost your focus. We’re all a little unbalanced, trying to find our footing on a point that’s tipping.
Magicians work the room, with linguistic tricks, slight of mouth illusions of wit. Weeding out volunteers from the audience, they blow smoke on mirrors, until all their competition has disappeared. Oh, they might seem like they could conjure up a magical evening, but really, they just want to take you home and saw you in half.
Social scientists step outside of their element, synthesizing chemistry from agents that were never meant to bond. They mix extrovert acids with introvert bases, with no mind the explosive consequences.
Self promoters put themselves out there, doing all they can to raise brand awareness. Stealth marketers close their deals, converting lustful leads into sexual sales. Night traders place their bids, buying low self esteem, selling their own as high. Shifting market value, they all have unspoken agreements to attend to.
Wingmen pilot their jocks into chosen targets. Pouring on the Whiskey to keep their Deltas from throttling back. They’re on the lookout for landing strips. They navigate their mates through kamikaze compliments, looking to help a friend scratch a one night stand into their night stand.
A confederacy of drunkards speak in man code, nonverbal cues and raised eyebrow clues. They challenge the competition to a staring contest. They offer their olive branches with balled up fists. They speak in two tones, one for each gender, flirting with one, threatening the other.
We throw psych out eye contact, like basket ball players, concealing passes. Don’t feel so bad, you’re just a means to your friend. We invite strangers to our table, introduce them to our secluded sidekicks, and flee the scene. The old booth bait and switch. Now your someone else’s entertainment.
We’re tired of being flies on the wall, eavesdropping insects, people watching parasites. We want to get some blood in the game. Give us a sign worth decoding. Give our hungry eyes something to snack on. Give our subconscious Sherlocks something to deduce, something that isn’t so elementary.
The pickings are getting slim. We couldn’t make the midnight kiss, give us the two AM illusion of bliss. We couldn’t cast the real thing, so let’s just role play the honeymoon scene. Let’s choose the mystery box. Let’s see what’s behind door number three. Let’s roll those dice. Give our dignity a chance to break even, for our status to go from “creepy” back to “harmless.” Give us time to wait for your raised chin to turn back into a subtle smirk.
Come on and give us a little win.
Spades call each other out. Pots have words with kettles. The glass home owner’s association lobs their stones at the other tenants. Staggering out with torn clothes, they mock each other’s nudity. Resting their heads on the bar, they draw attention to the splinters in our eyes, ignoring the planks in their own.
Fighters are just lovers who can’t get their shit together.
We know better. We swore we’d never do this again, but when the beat hits that dead horse, we’ve got to get our groove on. We can’t hear our conscience over the cognitive dissonance. Desire is our song, but dejection is our jam. We let it play, hoping that somehow it will turn out differently. This broken record, is the dictionary definition of insanity.
There are so many mixed signals, foot traffic has no where to go. We’re deers in headlights, when you want to call it an early night. We boogie on the barrier. We grind through the gridlock. We’re an unstoppable force hitting on an immovable object, a match made in collision. It takes two to tango. It takes two to play chicken.
The dance floor is an ongoing crime scene. Federal Agents claim jurisdiction over our libidos. Our eyes wander as we examine the evidence. Buttons are undone as we check each other for wires. We walk around with our flies down, hoping that someone will blow our cover.
Let’s follow our leads, find a nice soft mattress to carry out a sting operation. We’re just two confidential informants exchanging information.
Wake up to the morning after interrogation room scene, to the entrapment of a state of the union conversation. Last night was a dream come true, but now anything you say can and will be used against you. That gas station food you shared on the way, that retroactively counts as a date. Your partner recites the night with the clarity of someone who didn’t have enough to drink. They read your words back to you. You might want to have your lawyer present when you go for brunch.
We make plea bargains for relations without relationships, docile deals for compromising positions, visitation rights for those long lonely nights. Making the walk of shame out of their jurisdiction, we wonder what the hell happened.
Some of us get sloppy. We leave an orgy of evidence. We don’t bother planning an escape route. We try to get caught. Show us to your cell. Handcuff us to your bedpost. We’ll get off with good behavior. We weren’t looking to cut and run. We were trying to end up here.
“Love” is a word we so rarely get to use in context. With our backs against the wall, just give us a reason. Tell us that you want something serious and see what happens. Do you really want to put a term on it? Because we’ve got all this meaning, we’re just waiting to attach to something.
Be our high time hookup, our last minute lover, our eleventh hour Valentine. Be our crisis point crush, our cab ride cupid, our wooer under the wire. Be our fail safe flame, our infatuation for when we’re in a bind, our escort under exigence circumstance.
You can be the hangover cure we didn’t know we needed. The unnamed number in our caller ID. The mistake we look back on fondly. Be our happy accident. We’ll be the missing piece that still doesn’t fit into your plans.
Maybe we won’t be yours for long, but for a moment we’ll be somebody’s something.