Tuesday, July 30, 2002

a rant, by Michael Sherrillo

Men in this decade are very confused, espically the younger crowds. We have been brought into this world with the seperate camps of feminity and masculinity having been razed and in ruins. And yet, the stereotypes which they created still exist in the our minds. We are expected to think of women as our complete equals, while still opening doors and pulling out chairs; as equal breadwinners, while still often paying for dates. Can you really blame men for this? No, simply because men, as a group, will do anything it takes to be with women. What they want will always, eventually, happen. I have never heard about a guy excited to drop money for two people on his first date, he spends that amount becasue he knows that is the only way this girl he likes will go out with him. This is reality. So this rant is directed at the femal gender, for it is really you who is to blame. In a society where you wish to be considered equals, how can you expect you private relations/relationships, to exist simultaneously when you ask us to treat you differently in each.

I may be a man, but I have feelings, something that the opposite sex seems to forget. Becasue I may be a male, does that mean I also don't want to feel attractive, even sexy? That I don't like being asked out, pursured, told how much I'm liked? Do I enjoy being called or getting sweet messages and being told I'm loved any less? NO! But because I am realistic, I know that I will never find a girl if I don't ignore how I feel, what my wants and needs are, and spend the rest of my life making her feel special so she will want to be with me. But just a though to all you "old fashioned" girls out there, I may be a male, but that doesn't mean my purpose on earth is to court you. Maybe it wouldn't hurt if the girl called me once in a while, instead of alwasy wanting to be chased after, maybe a little of the affection I feel and show for you could be returned. One time, in my life, a girl I knew gave me flowers. It was the only time something like that has ever happend. It was so wonderful to recieve for once that I cried, and will never forget her or her kind and loving act. Everyone wants to feel loved, liked, and attractive, guy or girl. We men having been doing more than our fare share for some time now, maybe it's time you girls tried a little too, even if it's just asking for our number or giving us a call.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

"Without you"
a short story by Michael Sherrillo

What more improbable place could a person find love than on the Las Vegas strip? There exist a very real reason that this town is so fondly referred to as Sin City. Where the lights and flash of nearby casino’s promise wealth, happiness, and riches untold if you only step inside. One-armed bandits, shooting the green, spinning the wheel… the biggest decision of the night is picking your poison. Who could imagine that walking down this street of empty promises and hollow hope that I would find love? Not the Vegas love of high rollers, cheap hookers, and 24 hours neon lit chapels. I found the love which can only be understood by poets and madmen, the love which stops your heart, quickens your breath, fills you with hot and cold, and finishes you off as your legs crumple beneath you.

It happened close to midnight. The water of the Bellagio was shooting into the air, music filling the streets as thousands of people walked to and from hotels and shows. Anyone who thinks that New Your is the city that never sleeps obviously hasn’t ever been here. I’m not sure what made me turn my head, maybe it was fate, destiny, karma… at least that’s what I’d like to imagine. Though blind luck and good fortune are probably closer to the truth. I caught it coming out of the corner of my eye. A white Eclipse convertible filled with people, music pouring from the speakers in the car. As it came closer, I could see the people, and that’s when time stopped. She was sitting in the back seat. Even now, I can still see everything perfectly; her beauty so radiantly burned into my minds eye that I can see every detail as if it were yesterday. Even from across the street, you could tell her complexion was flawless. You knew that if you touched her cheek, you would find not skin but the finest of silks, the cool rich color of milk. Her head tilted back slightly, and her eyes were half closed with pleasure as she let the warm summer winds of dusk caress her face. Her lips were slightly parted as she smiled, with teeth that gleamed white against the neon lights behind her. Though it couldn’t be heard, you could tell by the look of ecstasy on her face that she was laughing, though not at any joke or comment, but just to laugh. Her happiness was so complete, that as her profile passed by, you could almost not bear to look. She glowed more like an angel, so total was her joy. Her blonde hair streaked strawberry half hidden from the wind under a red beanie flew behind her like a shimmering trial in her wake.

Though I cannot and will not ever be certain, my heart knows she saw me. Her head turned slightly, her eyes, for just a moment, lit upon me, a face in the crowd. Maybe it was a reflection of the light around us, or wistful thinking on my part, but I could swear that I saw just the slightest glimmer in her eyes when she did, and before she disappeared into the see of red taillights, with a look more cryptic than the Mona Lisa herself, she smiled, and was gone.

That night I just stood there, watching the lights fade away. I lost the car after only a few seconds passed, but I never forgot her. She will always remain the angel, untouchable, who passed from the land of heaven onto earth for just a few seconds, and in that instant of time, changed my heart forever. Though I’ve married, had children, and seen them have children of there own, I have kept her always hidden within me. Though I often wonder what happened to her, if she’s still alive, did she ever marry, have children of her own, I hope I never really find the answers. The person I saw that night was perfect. To know any more about her would be to corrupt that memory, and kill her in my mind more swiftly than any bullet ever could. So, for now, as always, she remains an object of hope, and the embodiment of dreams. A rose, hidden among the weeds and thorns… some nights, I’m sure, she still rides that lonely strip of empty dreams through the town, wind in her face, head held high and back, forever laughing, forever young… a single light, hidden in the darkness of the Vegas night.

Monday, July 08, 2002

a short story by Michael Sherrillo

He began walking towards the sea, like he did most evenings he could. He stopped fort a moment at the end of the boardwalk, taking off his shoes, and letting out a sigh as his feet first touch the soft sand. He slowly made he way towards the sea, with the slow meandering gait of a man walking off the day’s troubles.
Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw something. What were normally just a few miles of barren sand nestled between crags on the New England coast was now occupied by a strange presence. Though he had many times seen footsteps along the beach left over this late at night, sometimes of couples walking before the sunset, other times the excited prints of children playing in the surf. On Wednesdays, there were always the signs of a runner accompanied by mans best friends, who inevitably left a sign of his own at the edge of the farthest bluff before they turned around.

But this night was neither Wednesday, nor were these the tracks of some previous daytime beachgoer. Though he couldn’t consciously say why, somehow he knew these were the steps of a woman. They captivated him, there was something mysterious in the way they appeared to come right out of the water, for when he looked farther down, he cold see no place where they entered. In fact, he noticed that the beach was perfectly clean, without step, mark, or track anywhere. He began to follow the steps, and as he walked next to them, he let his mind wander, as he did on most nights he walked by the beach.
There is some awful sadness involved with turning forty. It wasn’t that he had no real friends or family to speak of. That he had no party, no phone call, not even a card. The sadness comes to everyone at some point, either the day of, or after the hangover the morning after, as they stand in the kitchen and suddenly realize that half their life is over.

This night on the beach, the though struck him with profound depression. He followed the steps, though his pace slowed with the weight of his thoughts as he began to reflect. Forty. Forty. Forty. Forty. The number repeated with every step. He was five foot six, and at least 30 pounds overweight. Forty. He still had a teenager’s pimple complexion. Forty. He was a traveling computer analyst, with no home, friends, or family left. Forty. He had been picked on in high school, invisible in college, and almost ignored in his career. Forty. His hair was thinning. Forty. And, he hadn’t made love to a woman since his last girlfriend slammed the door closed on him in college and whose last words of wisdom to him had been, “I fucked you the first time because I was drunk, and the second because I pitied you. The few seconds it lasted I barley knew you were in, now leave me the fuck alone!” Though he guessed she was never technically his girlfriend, it was still the closest he had ever had. Forty.
He saw the last fifteen years pass, though they were all virtually identical. Every night he had spent in some hotel room, usually stopping once a week in the one he was at now. Though he had traveled to almost every major American city, he had never explored any one beyond the confines of the motel which he slept at. He would come in every night late after starring at the computer screen all day. Sitting on the bed, he would watch TV, though he usually didn’t care much what was on, just for the comforting familiar glow and so the sound would help fill the otherwise emptiness. Before he went to bed, he would lie there and jack off to scrambled porn, sometimes the hotel would have HBO so he wouldn’t need to squint. And then he would fall asleep, flaccid dick still in his pudgy hand. And then fly out in the morning to do the same the next night somewhere else. Forty.

One memory struck him, vivid and clear, he couldn’t remember when it happened. But one night, he had managed to get an erection. Though he tried, he couldn’t ‘t keep it up long enough to orgasm. He fell asleep tiered and frustrated, defeated by his own body. At some point in the night he had woken up, the TV making a high pitched whine letting him know regular broadcasting had ended, and would resume at six am the following morning. He opened his eyes for a second before realizing what is was that had awakened him. He had a wet dream, though he couldn’t remember it, and he had rolled over into the wet spot in his sleep. He just lay there, the though that his own semen was stuck to him was repulsing. Yet he couldn’t find the strength to move, then, as if from nowhere, he began to cry. He felt helpless, powerless, and pitiful.
He couldn’t remember ever feeling that alone before, and hadn’t since until tonight. Forty. If there was one single perpetual thread extending throughout his life, it was that he was alone. There was often people around him, at work, on his was through the motel, hundreds of bodies separated by a few feet of plaster and drywall. And yet they were all as far from him as they could be were he out in deep space while they slept here on earth. Forty.

The though came to him that the true reason he took these walks was really his way of searching. He hope, in his deepest thoughts, that some night he would find a kindled spirit, also alone and walking, and that maybe, for some unspecified amount of time, he could would find that he wasn’t alone, that there existed in all this world, one other person like him. That’s when he noticed her. Far off in the distance, just a speck against the sand, the thing he had been following. She was still walking, that much was clear, but he must have been going faster than her to catch up this much. Almost unconsciously, he quickened his pace, just slightly. He must meet her, he must see her. Even if he never says a word, he knew he must see the face of this person. Desperation gripped him, and maybe it was at this point (though it could be argued he had always been) that he began to go a little mad. It was as this thought occurred, that he might just be going crazy, that he also found out he was sprinting. Though it came as a surprise, he didn’t slow down or stop. His head was no longer filled with anything except the memory of the wet sheets sticking to him, and the feeling of his complete isolation, interrupted only with the word forty after each stride.

It was when he brought his hand up to his cheek and felt the salty tears streaming down his face that he saw the woman’s, whose figure he was now able to make out very well, direction had altered slightly. The footsteps that had before been almost exactly parallel to the ocean were now angled slightly toward it. The muscles in his legs were beginning to cramp as his lunges were screaming for more air through gasps. He would have called out, but all his energy was focused on making it just far enough to see her.

As the burning became knots of pain, and the pain in his chest became a stitch in his side, he watched her make her first step into the water. With the last of his strength, he ran faster. Splashing into the water without a blink, the cold water splashed up his legs as he stumbled towards her. Reaching out his hand, his fingertips just inches away from her, as the last of her disappeared beneath the waves.

For a second longer he stood. Water up to his shoulders, waves splashing over his soaking head, gasping for breath as tears continued to pour down his face. He tried to let out one anguished cry, one great sob, but all that came out was a raspy gurgle as he fought for more air. The images circled his head, the sticky sheets, the whine of the TV, and the loneliness. Forty. Forty. Forty. The words, now seeming to mock him, continued to sound. He looked back over his shoulder only once at the beach, now so seemingly far away, and on it, he saw not two, but one set of footprints leading from the distance, his own. As he looked, another wave came, covering the few parts of him that were left above water. As the wave receded, nothing but the beach, the sand, and miles of cold, dark ocean remained.

A few days later, the man staying in room 118 at the nearby motel was reported missing, though with no relatives or next of kin to contact, little more was done. The single set of footprints which would have been the only clue, had been washed away with the rising tide.