Monday, August 19, 2002

"Summer's Night"
a short story, by Michael Sherrillo

He lay beneath the large oak tree, looking out. There is something special about the summer sky at night, warm breezes and cool earth mingle around you as the grasses hiss and the trees sigh. Looking up at the diamond studded night; he felt certain emptiness, a peaceful oblivion of comfort, almost womb-like security. Out here, under the oak tree, he could sit with his eyes half-lidded in contentment, taking in the entire nightfall at once. The sounds of the world were drowned out, as if the stars had turned up the silence till nothing else remained. The problems of his world became far and distant, here there was only room for peace, and everything else was pressed out and away till they became specks on horizon, then nothing.

The sounds of his parents yelling at each other washed over him thought his mind was so far away that he could no longer hear them. The usual sounds of dishes breaking, the baby screaming, and the TV turned too loud were nothing more than the faint hiss of static in his mind. Beneath the oak tree, he sat, alone with the world. No close neighbors around, no one to hear, to see, to know…no one but him. The tracks down his cheeks were partially hid in the darkness, revealed only through the shifting glow of the harvest moon, filtering down through the boughs and branches as they gently swayed above. The dilapidated house behind him might as well have not existed at all; the uneven glow coming through the windows from the TV, the figures moving back and forth in the kitchen, just shadows passing bare bulbs and unshaded lights. At one point, the sound of yelling stopped and was replaced by a tump as something struck flesh. Only to return more frenzied than before. The sound spilled on, over, and away from this silent sentinel as he sat still; repetition had dulled his notice of it even if he had been aware enough to hear. His own body had marks covering it, his arms lightly greened from being grabbed a little to hard to often, his neck sore and stiff from being pushed or thrown… but those were the good marks, those were the ones that would go away. He hated the ones that didn’t the ones inside; those marks covered his soul. The sight of a plate flying across the room and hitting his fathers forehead, splitting his eyebrow as he fell back against the counter and slumped down, blood staining his shirt. The picture of his mother’s eye one morning, swollen completely shut and surrounded by a dark rainbow of colors fading from deep purple to light green. The memory of their faces inches apart as spit flew from each other’s mouth and the veins and tendons on their necks throbbed with the intensity of the curses being thrown. These scars were there every time his eyes closed. Bitterness, anger, hatred… burnt onto his innocence. Searing him with pain that spilled out from his eyes in hot tears. So little of it he understood, but this was his entire world.

There was beauty in the summer sky, it didn’t yell or scream. It took him into it’s its dark folds and shrouded him from the world around him. He couldn’t feel the salty tears burning his eyes, or the runny nose dripping off his chin. He couldn’t even hear the pleading whimpers wrenching his whole body and burning his thick cotton filled throat. And he couldn’t feel the weight of his parent’s revolver in his hand. He only felt the emptiness of the sky, saw but was to young to understand the perfection and beauty of it. So complete was his innocence and his awe, the as the barrel, warm and wet from being held too tightly in hands too small, pressed against the side of his head like he had seen in cartoons. His only moment of total conciseness was when he looked one last time at the stars, like so many diamonds in the sky, winking at him, as if they had secret for him only. He saw the peace of the night above and wanted to become a part of it. As he closed his eyes, the darkness came, and takes him away with it.

A few miles away, off the poor country road, sat a small house with a smaller old couple in it. They both stopped eating their dinner and looked up at each other. “What was that?” the woman asks. “Probably just a car backfiring out on the road.” He replies. “But I don’t hear any car…” she worries aloud. For a moment they look at each other, their eyes meet and lock briefly, speaking without words. If they had been able to afford a phone, they might call someone, but without it, they both knew there was no point in worrying. “Your probably right” she thinks aloud, as her gaze shifts to the window pane and the darkness beyond, “just a car out on the road…”

Friday, August 09, 2002

an exerpt from a conversation between Michael and Vance

M- referring to ESPN TV commercial "Women's Professional Soccer... isn't that an oxymoron?"
V- "What professional and soccer?" *chuckle*
M- "No, professional and women."

*Though this was an actual coversation, it was done in a humorous context and does not
reflect the actual views of Michael, Vance, or the UEF staff towards women or soccer. Thank You*

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

a haiku, by Michal Sherrillo

Fiery bellied clouds;
Daylight fading into dusk,
Igniting the sky.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

"The Surfer"
a short story, by Michael Sherrillo

The wind ripped off the tops of the head high swells as they raced past, saltwater flying so fast it stung your face as the waves crest were torn before the blue mountains began to curl and crash down. The sound faded like dying static on an old radio, replaced only by the faint warning sirens from the town on the horizon. The whole village was still illuminated, as if the people who, only precious hours earlier fled in terror from their homes, were still inside cooking dinners on the still warm stoves and watching tv on screens now lit only with images of the comming horror.

The untamed ocean isolated him from all he knew, not even a bird could be seen in the angry black sky. Somewhere high above, the sun was still an hour away from setting, but below, night had already descended. The roar of the wind was all that existed to him now. Howling against his small boat as he sat, half submerged in water, waiting for the right moment.

All his life, he had surfed. Since his father had given him his first board, the blue water and the power of its waves had been his whole life. From the obscure 40-foot sets at Shipsterns Bluff, the common crowded scene at Maverick’s, or the 80-foot mountains at Jaws. His life began the second he lay on his board and his fingertips first touch the frigid water, and ended when the wave detonated around him. Every moment before and after those two points was meaningless. The entire ocean was his god, and his servant. With the board beneath him, he worshiped and tamed in equal measure.

Now, as the small craft perilously flew and sunk, he remained focused. Eyes unwaveringly set on the distant horizon; fixed on the point where the blackness of the sky melted into the dark fury of the sea. Soaking wet, he remained unmoved, jaws clenched as the spray stung his face and the cold bit through his sopping parka down to his bones. His eyes narrowed slightly as the subtle change overcame him.

He felt it before he saw it, a slight vibration, almost imperceptible over the choppy sea’s he rode. Then, the faint line of the horizon shifted. Had he blinked, he would not have noticed the change at all, but he's seen it. Engine bursting into life, his hand twisting up the throttle till his veins stood out next to the lines of water that poured off of him. Soon, whether they were minuets or lifetimes he could not have guessed, the sea around him darkened. He turned the boat slightly as he looked up at the sky, his eyes slowly rising till he saw the last of the dark clouds begin to vanish before him as the swell hit the underwater shelf and began to climb. He locked the throttle into place and ripped off his park, his wetsuit now the only thing protecting him from the elements. The wind became a roar, over which he was unable to hear even the wide open engine only a few feet away. It was all a muted roar, as his eyes remained locked onto the wave's top as it climbed up the sky, appearing to swallow the angry clouds overhead. Then, suddenly, silence. The wind stopped, the waves disappeared, as the spiked ocean became black glass. Even the sound of the engine seemed very faint and distant as the total silence swallowed him whole. For one heartbeat, there was complete peace, and then came the hiss.

Soft and malevolent as a deadly snake poised to strike, it rapidly grew, louder and louder, till it was a deafening roar. The boat began to be pulled, going faster than the engine would have allowed. He began to climb. Head looking straight up to where the sky would have been, which had been enveloped by the wave. Every muscle in his body was clenched as the boat began to rise faster, higher and higher he climbed. His eye’s narrowed again, as in one swift motion; he passed the point of not return. Moments before he came near cresting the top, he pushed the rod as hard sideways as he could, whipping the boat around, and looked straight down as hells mouth opened and gaped before him.

The boat flew on the verge of insanity as the angle of the wave and speed of the boat quickly increased. Death called to him as the black sea above began its deadly curl. The motor coughed then died, but the boat continued to fly, powered by the force of the wave above and beneath it. Cutting across and down the face of a tsunamic tidal wave, he stood. Hundreds of feet disappeared beneath him in seconds as the wave began to fall around him. In slow motion, he saw the curl coming down and the gray sky being crushed before him. The boat was on a race against time as the wave exploded around him, and the pipe began to close. Detonating with the force of a thousand sticks of dynamite, the concussion of the pressure wave ruptured his eardrums, and blood ran from his ears and nose, but all he saw was the disappearing clouds beyond.

As the pipe closed, he reached out his hand, a final gesture of hope, before he was thrown into the belly of the beast. There was a period, a fraction of a second long, before the ocean closed around him that he knew with the disappearing sky he would not make it out alive. In that second, totally aware of the death surrounding him, he smiled. He had fought a lifetime against this god, and, for the few moments he had raced and surfed this wave, had become one himself.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

"What Women Want"
by Michael Sherrillo

Authors note: after my previous article, "Women!" I spent much time/effort polling, studying, and pondering my predicament, and have come to these conclusions about the opposite sex.

I, like many nice guys before me, having often wondered on a datless saturday night, why do girls keep complaining that there are no nice guys out there when clearly I'm right here? I've heard many a nice guy also rant and rave about our hopeless predicament because the girls who keep wanting nice guys keep dating assholes. We all know the stories and have read the Dear Abby articles, but I, unlike my fellow nice guys, have successfully crossed over. I am and will always be a nice guy, but to succeed in this dating game, you must also be a little crafty. After years of painstaking research and field studdy, I have successfully deciphered what it is women truly want... a challenge. It's all very simple... if you already cook, clean, are nice, chivilrous, successful, kind, funny, and loving... why would a girl want to be with you, your missing the key element that all assholes secretly have... mystery and sexiness. You must learn to be a sheep in wolf's clothing. Women want to be able to say, I had this great wild sexy man, and it was wonderful, but then I took him, tamed him, and made him settler down and become also the perfect husband and father. Girls want a diamond in the ruff. So, be chivilrous and successful, those are the key elements... if your not chivilrous and happy/successful, no girl will want you for more than a one night stand at a cheap motel. Everthing else is just DONT"S. Don't call a lot... it sends clear signals of desperation, which is neither mysterious nor sexy. Don't NOT call when you said you would, building up hope and then crushing her spirit will fill her with disappointment and hurt and will only embitter her and turn her into the much feared wackadoo, commonly know as psychotic and/or stalker. (depending on your regional dialect) Don't forget to learn everthing you can about female anatomy, being good at oral sex will more than compensates for any physical... shortcommings *wink wink*. Don't jump into a relationship or sex... nothing will make her want you more than making her wait a little to get it. And finally, don't change to quickly. Reveal your depth and true nature slowly, her learning what a great catch you are should happen like peeling layers off an onion, not chopping open a watermelon. If there is one thing I cannot stress enough, it is go slow! Take your time with everthing, make her want it before you do anything, weither it's telling or showing her your feelings, calling, or sex... This is the key. This is what all assholes have that we don't, their stupidity allows them to just not care. Women are attracted to that. If I knew why, I wouldn't be a scientist, I would be god. Though I believe god is a man, so I doubt even he truly knows what he created. All I can say beyond that is... good luck, fellow sheep.