It started out, like everything horrifying in this world, innocuously enough.
I had bought a bar, actually a bar/lounge, and I was one happy camper about it. It was a rundown place, dirty and dusty, but it was mine. I got to work right away fixing her up for opening day, which was something like a week hence.
I got this big pressurized deep fryer for chicken. That was going to be my specialty: fried chicken. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps I thought it’d be funny as a vegetarian.
“Hi, I’m Mike, a vegetarian who specializes in fried chicken. Introduce me to your daughter. She looks lovely.”
*insert creepy two-second clip of me licking my chops*
Of course, while I was perfecting my super awesome fried chicken recipe, I would have to taste. I am a cook first and a vegetarian second.
I also got a video lottery machine so me and the government could team up and steal lots of money from stupid people using the highly effective variable reinforcement schedules of Pavlovian psychology. No bar in modern America is complete without some dipshit planted in front of a video lottery machine, staring glassy-eyed into the blinky screen and feeding an endless series of dollar bills into its hairless and welcoming stainless steel slit.
The place was a real fixer-upper and there was much to be done and I was thoroughly enjoying doing it. It was my place, my own, my preciousss.
In one corner, I came across a pile of dusty boards and rolled-up scraps of old carpet. Dumpster fodder to be sure. I wheeled my wheelbarrow over to it, all manly and shit, and got down on my sweaty, well-muscled haunches. (I was wearing tight, blue-jean cutoffs, ladies).
I began to clean the area out.
Almost immediately a cloud of flying centipedes emerged from behind the pile and began trying to land on me. I screamed like a little bitch and started running, but the cloud of flying centipedes was very fast. Some were even landing on my neck!
I ran and ran all around my would-be bar, screaming and waving my arms crazily. Finally, I ran out the door, into the summer day. I ran and ran.
Behind me, the cloud of flying centipedes had grown to biblical proportions. There were millions upon millions of them now, so many that things around me were growing dim because they were actually blotting out the sun.
I ran faster and faster, but they got closer and closer. They began to land on me and to bite. They were biting and crawling on my bare shoulders and back. (I was shirtless, ladies) and the flying centipedes were slipping down my plumber’s crack, squirming and biting me where the sun don’t shine.
It was at this point, the instant before I was overwhelmed by the flying centipede cloud, that I awoke. The couch I was napping on was soaked with….let’s say sweat. I was gasping for breath and my heart was hammering in my chest.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” I said to my dog, who was curled up on my feet and looking at me weird.
It started out, like everything horrifying in this world, innocuously enough.
Truthful Tuesday (names changed)…
TW: Animal abuse; implication of child abuse
I first met my friend Bob on a mountain lake beach playing volleyball with one hand because he was holding a beer. Since it was years and years ago, I don’t remember exactly how but I ended up playing volleyball with them. I think it had something to do with odd numbers.
I learned Bob and his group were Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian organization that thinks it’s really important to worship on Saturday. They think this because, like all Christian groups, they’ve mentally highlighted in psychic yellow ink certain lines of the Bible, deciding they’re more important than other lines in the Bible.
This was on a Sunday, by the way.
Bob was not exactly converted to the organization yet, thus the beer. I got the distinct vibe that the entire reason for their little get-together on the mountain lake beach was for his, Bob’s, benefit. They were ‘fellowshipping’ and trying to fully convert him.
Bob, though, was being a tough, if amicable, sell. He had his own cooler full of beer, for example, separate from the group’s cooler full of pop and water. He took and pretended to read every pamphlet handed to him, which he then carefully folded, stuffed in his pocket, and threw away later when they weren’t looking.
To this day, I’m not exactly sure how Bob got himself into that situation. I think maybe it had something to do with the fact that some of his relatives were Seventh Day Adventists. Something like that.
But that was how I met Bob and we were friends for over 20 years.
Our friendship ended over a dog, but not for a long time—20 years, as I said in the previous sentence. At times we were nearly day to day companions, smoking weed and getting drunk. At others, we lived in different towns and didn’t see each other but a couple of times a year. In the very end we were closer than ever, roommates even.
Bob moved away to another town for work.There, he met and fell in love with a woman. They got married and bought a house. The woman had been married previously and had a teenage daughter, who became Bob’s stepkid.
I went to their wedding, which was a Seventh Day Adventist ceremony. Bob always considered himself a Seventh Day Adventist, even though he didn’t attend church, was pretty much an alcoholic, and smoked weed almost daily. It was simply the little box he had checked off in his head.
Most people need to do that, I find, i.e., “I’m Catholic!”; “I’m atheist!”; “I’m a Colorado Rockies fan!”.
Then tragedy, like it often does, struck. A few years after they got married, Bob’s wife fell ill and passed away. His stepdaughter wanted to finish growing up with blood relatives and he was left all alone in his house.
I did not go to the funeral, which I’m sure was a Seventh day Adventist ceremony.
During the time Bob was married and a stepfather, he didn’t drink or smoke weed. He had become what he had always wanted to become: a regular Joe Schmo. Not only did he have a yard, he even fucking mowed it.
I come back into his picture at this point. I had called up Bob and gave him my condolences, of course, shortly after he lost his wife, and this started us talking regularly again.
Bob resumed his drinking and he would call me up smashed a lot, trying to talk me in to coming up and partying with him (he lived a few hundred miles away). I was having financial issues of the completely fucking broke kind and always declined. At work, my hours had been cut and I was having trouble making rent.
“Come on up and live with me,” he said.
“Hell, yeah. I got plenty of room. This is a three bedroom, one and a half bath house, and I’m the only one here. I got a garage, even a deck. We’ll have cookouts! Plus, there’s a shitload more jobs around here.”
So I packed up and headed north.
My first few days of living with Bob were spent in an alcoholic haze of reminiscing. We were reconnecting and in a lot of ways it was just like old times.
There were some odd little things, though, that began cropping up. Like, for example, padlocks on all the cabinets in the main bathroom. They weren’t locked or anything, but someone had gone to the trouble to install them. Heavy, pendulous padlocks hung unclasped on every cabinet door in the bathroom. WTF?
I asked him about them.
“Oh, that was because of my daughter.” He always referred to his stepdaughter as his daughter. He told me they had begun the process of him adopting her when the illness struck and sidelined everything.
“Because of your daughter?”
“Yeah, she used a lot of towels and rags and stuff when she showered. I mean who needs to use two towels when they shower?”
“So you installed padlocks on all the cabinets?”
“Yep. I had to distribute her towels and toiletries because she always used too much of everything.”
“You had to?”
“Yeah. She was a handful.”
Also, his reaction to some of my books. I had, of course, brought my books with me when I moved in, and he didn’t like the ones on Buddhism. I had (still have, in fact), ten or twelve Buddhist books, sutras and commentaries mostly, some stuff by the Japanese Zen master Dogen, various other related material. He had a problem when he noticed them.
“I’d rather you not have those.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’d rather they not be in my house.”
“Yeah.” He laughed and shook his head like I was some sort of idiot.
I ended up keeping them in the trunk of my car. WTF?
During our many drunken conversations, I discovered that Bob was at constant odds with and truly power-struggling with his daughter. At least that was how he presented it.
“She was such a willful teenager.”
On school nights, she was expected home by 4 pm and couldn’t go out afterward. The only night she was allowed out was Friday and her curfew was 9 pm.
She was a 16 year old, for Christ sake.
One time, he told me that she didn’t make it home till 9:30 pm and he had to ground her for the remaining school year.
This occurred in October. On Halloween, in fact—which, he explained, he didn’t want her participating in anyway.
By grounding, he meant that he picked her up from school everyday and took her there every morning. She was not allowed to do anything else. Apart from school, she had to be at home, and could only go out with a parent. Also, she was not allowed a phone or handheld device, nor access to the net or tv.
“I had no choice,” he lamented. “Teenagers, huh?”
Shortly after this conversation, I discovered the markings on the wood frame of my bedroom door of where a padlock had once been installed. It would have locked from the outside, of course, and guess who’s room it used to be?
I began to grow some distance between us. Not really because of the above, but because of the alcohol. Bob was a full-blown drunk, way worse than he had ever been in our younger days. Now, I like to drink, don’t get me wrong, but getting completely and utterly shitfaced every single night? No, thanks. I enjoy getting lit up once or twice a week, but I just couldn’t do it every night anymore. I had drank like a fish for the first week or so after moving in, but the ‘special occasionness’ of it all wore off and sometimes I’d just want to kick back with a puzzle or a book.
Meanwhile, Bob would be out in the living room blasting Foghat and pissing his pants.
I got a job, settled into a routine, and began searching the paper for a place of my own.
It was about two months after I had moved in that Bob came home with a dog. It was adorable, a young, light brown, medium-sized female with big friendly eyes and a super waggy tail. He had gotten her from a co-worker who had to move house and could no longer keep her.
Bob named her Leah, after his daughter.
Things went to shit almost immediately. The next morning after he got her, I went to work like always, and on my way home I stopped and bought a Pringles potato chip can full of tennis balls as a present for Leah.
When I got home, me, Leah, and Bob, spent the warm afternoon and evening out in the yard playing with the balls. It was great.
As darkness settled in, Bob, of course, began drinking and I joined him. I still drank with him from time to time. Just not every day. He was pretty fun to drink with, up to a certain point. Eventually, he’d get insensible, unable to communicate, stumbling around. I’d call it a night at that point. But for three or four hours, it was the old Bob and pretty damn fun.
Leah was underfoot as we drank. Young and curious, she’d go from me to Bob and back again. We interacted with her and our little party was kind of all about her, which she didn’t mind at all. Bob began to be a little annoyed with her, shooing her away good-naturedly, but then more firmly.
Eventually, he decided that Leah needed to lay down and “be fucking mellow”. He insisted that she lay down on the mat in front of the door. She complied, but only for a second. Bob would make her go back to the mat, getting rougher and rougher with her.
“LAY THE FUCK DOWN!” he screamed at her.
But young and impetuous, she couldn’t, not permanently.
He began to kick her when she’d get off the mat. Hard.
“Fucking chill,” I told him. I felt a bit cornered. It was Bob’s house and Bob’s dog, after all. I’d try to get her to lay on the mat, even sitting next to it cross-legged with her and petting her. But I’d get up to piss or something and BANG! he’d kick her in the ribs.
I stayed up all the way with Bob that time, not wanting to leave Leah alone with him. At one point, after he had completely gone over to the Drunk Side, I even restrained him from kicking her.
Finally he passed out with urine spreading to the knees of his blue jeans.
And so it went every night, for three or four days. Bob got wasted every night and Leah was supposed to lay on the mat in front of the door while he did it or she’d get kicked, fucking hard. The super waggy tail that had once wagged so much it was blurry now hung between her legs like a thing paralyzed or dead. She was terrified of him and this only pissed him off more. If he wanted to pet her, which he did randomly on occasion, she’d flee from him. He would rage and then kick her.
Using my phone, I recorded several instances of his abuse and went to the cops. I spoke to the animal control officer and showed him my video. As he watched, he began to shake his head.
“Well, that’s pretty clear,” he said. “If needed, can we use this in court?”
“Would you be willing to appear?”
I filled out a bunch of papers, signed a bunch of things and went home.
Bob was drinking. I began to drink too. By now, Leah had been trained. Her spirit was completely broken and she pretty much refused to leave the mat in front of the door. I’d call her to me and she would look at Bob and put her head down.
About 9 pm that night, the cops knocked on the door. Bob kicked Leah to make her move from the mat so he could answer it.
They told Bob they were taking Leah and explained that he had the right to go to court to plead his case and try and get her back. They had anonymous complaints of abuse, they said, and even cellphone video.
Off she went. Bob looked at me. “You fucker.”
“Who else would it be?”
“Yeah, it was me. And fuck you.”
We fought—physically. We both ended up bloody and bruised. The kitchen table was destroyed. It ended in a draw and I packed my shit and left that night to constant “get-the-fuck-outs!”
Two years ago, I moved back to this town for a second time. I actually live about four blocks from Bob and his three bedroom, one and a half bath house as I write this.
Even though I’ve been here two years, I have yet to stop by and say howdy.
I’m sure you understand.
Don’t you love it when the mail is exciting? If I’m not expecting anything in the mail, I won’t even check it for days on end. When I got something coming, though, I’m there at 9:30 on the nose everyday.
Usually the mail is just people wanting money, either in the form of ads or bills and I just throw those away. Recently, a new bill has started coming. It’s for $108 from the hospital and made out to my mom (who is deceased), CARE OF me. Somehow some department in the hospital has figured out that I’m my mother’s son and so has started sending me her bill.
I, of course, just throw it away. I do not pay medical bills—personal rule.
One time I was standing out in my yard back in 2008 and an SUV drove up. An old guy got out, walked up to me, and said “Michael Kindt?”
“This is for you,” he said and served me with papers for an emergency room bill I incurred in 1994. Originally, it had been for $900 but interest had brought it up to about $3800.
“Thanks,” I said and threw it away after he left.
I love having free medical care by not really owning anything of value. Haha. This is one of the reasons I will never buy a new car. Not only is it a horrible investment (it decreases in value by several thousand bucks the moment you drive it off the lot), but it would fuck with my free medical care.
So the book I ordered, which was used, was marked up pretty good by its previous owner. For the first five pages this person had intensely studied it, underlining like mad, scribbling notes in the margin, putting stars and asterisks and arrows everywhere. Then, after the fifth page, nothing.
For some reason, I find this funny. It’s like he went “Fuck this shit!” and turned on the tv.
Tonight, on a very special episode of Blossom…
I was going to my mom’s that day. It turned out to be her last one…
FROM THE LATIN: HOC DIE
I am up before the dawn as usual, standing in my kitchen, feeling happy and healthy. It is warm out and for a time I stood in the yard and listened to the wind in the trees stark against a black sky. It is the deep breath before the exhale and also happens to be Thanksgiving, an American holiday I choose not to politicize because I’m not that bored.
Last week’s snow has melted, compressed, melted, and compressed again. Everything is slick and I never shovel my walk. I have never shoveled any walk that was mine. I am a wearer of boots and simply trudge through. Because of this it is now an icy death trap. I wish some Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons would come.
It is a few hours later and I am about to leave. I went through the gray dawn light and now the sun shines bright from the side of the sky that says morning. It’s the newborn sun and I live yet another day. The amazingness of my very life holds me and I cultivate it, not wanting it to let go. It courses through me, does life, a secret electricity invisible to all probes. Both science and religion are helpless in the face of it, though both would never admit it.
For no reason at all and for but a little while, here I am…
1. The word ‘persons’ when referring to people. How did this construct even come about?
2. The word ‘normative’ when referring to normal. If you used the word ‘normal’, why, everyone would know what you meant. Can’t have that. Not when you’re trying to sound smart.
3. A writer as a main character in a story or novel. A huge pet peeve of mine. I’ve gotten through a few works starring a writer, but generally I can’t read them. No one is really a writer IRL. People work.
4. Stephen King (see #3)
5. Sucking the dick of rules to the bitter end, at the expense of flow and common sense. Did you know that, formally, ‘internet’ is supposed to be capitalized? Why? Because there’s a rule that says we’re supposed to? Fuck that. My language, my rules. I can end a sentence in a preposition too. Following rules simply because they exist is the most limp-dicked thing a human can do.
6. British spelling. It’s cute, it’s old fashioned, but it’s less efficient. In the U.S., it’s a tad pretentious. English spelling is way fucked up. I direct your attention to the word ‘indictment’. I direct your attention to the word ‘through’. I direct your attention to a million other words. At least American spelling is a touch more sensible. The entire orthography needs an overhaul. At least a tiny little baby step was taken in the U.S. PS: do they still spell jail gaol over there?
7. The vast majority of newspaper articles. They are shit. No reason to read newspapers. None at all. Those who whine about the death of newspapers in the internet age should go off somewhere and play their 8-track tapes and shut up. Here’s how newspaper articles are written: Come up with a descriptive headline, then restate the headline below, using a bunch more words. Everything in a newspaper can be found in the headlines. The rest is filler.
8. Prolixity. Young writers are usually really prolix. They write ten things and say one. The best advice to any writer: LESS IS MORE. Always, always, always shorten everything. Your stories and books should be shorter, your paragraphs should be shorter, your sentences should be shorter, and you should use words with less syllables. Word.
9. The semi-colon.
10. Writing that sounds like writing. I can’t explain this, but like obscenity I know it when I see it.
11. Lists that tell you how to write. There are billions of them out there, all written by writers with nothing to fucking say.
I thought about old age. I was in a happy section. Everybody had lived long lives. It’s always a bit disturbing to come across the stone of a young person—or worse, a child. Where I was at, though, everybody had made it deep into their 70s and 80s. In some cases, even deeper.
I thought that no one dies of old age. There is always a specific event that kills—heart failure during sleep, for example. My grandmother made it into her 80s, but died of an aneurysm. A vein or artery of hers, weakened by time, simply popped. She blew a gasket, basically. Linus Pauling, the only human ever awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes, lived into his 90s, then got cancer and died. His immune system, weakened by time, was simply overcome. Cancer cells appear in the human body on a daily basis, but are quickly dispatched with—usually.
If you are familiar with the classic and brilliant comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, you know that whenever Calvin and his imaginary tiger are out sledding, they are at their most reflective and philosophical. They are racing down the hill a hundred miles an hour. The world is a blur, flying by. That is what the graveyard is to me.
In this new town, I don’t visit them as much. They are more open, less secluded. The one I was at today had a freeway racing by it, for fuck’s sake.
I still go, though. I’ll always go. Nothing makes life mean more than death.
Weakened by time—I used that phrase twice in this thought. Time is deadly, people. Life itself is fatal. Right now, go tell someone you love them, even if you have to lie. I’m serious, go tell them. Right now.
books + share
In this town, I mean. Long before I had a kid or any hope or prospects or a point, I lived here—out by the Air Force base. That’s kind of a shitty part of town, lots of trailer houses and freeways and strip malls. I had three female roommates, Darcy, Alisha, and Tammy.
I wonder what those gals are up to these days? I don’t even recall their last names.
It’s a beautiful night and I just now drove out that way, trying to see if I could find the trailer we all shared, but no luck. I was drinking, appropriately enough, a throwback Pepsi, and blasting ABBA.
I remember they were rich girls, Darcy and Alisha especially. Their dads bought them straight up new vehicles and helped them buy the trailer. Darcy, I recall, could cook. I remember she made a mean homemade bean dip. Also, she was probably the cutest one, though we were just friends. She was a waitress at a country bar and RAKED in the tips.
I don’t remember the circumstances of me moving in with them, how or why they let me. It was a fun time, though. There was plenty of money for exploring all the bars here and no one really gave a shit because we were all just 21.
Cherish your carefree days, kids.
I worked as a cook back then at a place called The Gaslight Inn. It was run by a gay couple, Wesley and Dennis. I could say “My boss is SO gay,” and not be a fucking dick. Wesley handled the employees and Dennis the books and advertising and phone calls and suppliers. Dennis was scary, big and scary and quiet, whereas Wesley was talkative and funny. Their business was pretty successful and they had their roles perfectly figured out.
Wesley loved my car at the time. I drove in those days a 1966 Oldsmobile 98. It was only about 25 years old at the time. Here is a picture of one:
Mine too was white. Wesley said, “Man, what a car! It looks like a rocket!”
I bought it for $250 from my friend Don Lippert, yet another person who has vanished in the mists of time. It was the biggest car I have ever owned. I loved it and drove in complete safety everywhere I went. I doubt if I’d even notice if I crashed, let alone get hurt. I had a friend Drew back then who was over six foot tall. One time he laid down in the trunk, flat on his back, and neither his feet nor his head touched the sides.
It got about 25 feet to the gallon.
I miss that car. I miss those people.
Apparently, the bereavement coordinator wants me to contact her so that she can coordinate my bereaving. There was a standard-sized business card on Mom’s nightstand from her last night when I went to visit.
Beverly. Her name is Beverly. Beverly the Bereavement Coordinator.
On the back of the card was written, “Michael, please contact me.” Underneath the bereavement business card was a bereavement checklist. Seriously, that’s what it said: BEREAVEMENT CHECKLIST. Below, were actual things to check off. Number one was “I’m glad you were my father, mother, sister, brother, cousin, babysitter, gardener, person behind me in line at Wal-mart.”
Number two was “I forgive you for….”
There were others. I sat in the chair looking at them as Mom dozed. A nurse came in on her quiet shoes. “How is everything?” she asked. “Any pain?”
“Not as far as I can tell,” I said, looking over at Mom. She turned to go, smiling professionally. “Nurse?” I said.
“Are we in an episode of the Twilight Zone?”
Available again, first edition signed by author—that’s me :)
Free shipping in the U.S. Includes new book smell, creepy, mystical cover photo pregnant with meaning, and general awesomeness.
This is a new book and so far has garnered only one review: “Having read both volumes of Early Onset of Night now, I will go ahead and name this one, Volume Two, as my favorite. In many ways this one is even funnier, and I was truly caught up in the wit of it all. Like Volume One, this reads very autobiographical, perhaps even more so. Some stories are despairing and dark, as in Volume One, but the heightened sense of realism Kindt’s writing provides makes the creepier turns in this book even creepier. I definitely look forward to Kindt’s next book.”
The creepier turns even creepier…
I like that.