Archive for the ‘Bad Prose’ Category


The Dar-Lettes, Jerry Reid, Maurice & Marianne, The Charmelles, Beverly McCay, Ronny Butler & The Nitehawks, Jackie Ross, Maxine Cannon – no joke, everyone was at The Crystale that night. And when I say everyone, you best believe I mean everyone: Tab Vaughn, Lou Ballad, Clarence & Tammi Parker, Art Lester & The Ex-Cel’s, uh, Chico Robin, The Del-Laces, Little Freddy – every last single one of them, drinking like fishes, dancing like maniacs till the sky turned black to gold.

Gloria Blossom from The Blossoms wrote “Cryin’ All Over” in the Crystale lobby that night after she caught Roscoe Bell leaving in a cab with The Permamatic sisters. Sidney Stewart met Mamie Rhone for the first time at the coat-check, who’d he later marry and, as you probably know, murder on Easter morning. Supposedly, Claudine King drank so much gin that it took all of The Velphonics to carry her back up to her hotel room, where it is rumored an all-night orgy occurred. Now I can’t account for that. I saw Claudine earlier in the night, and truth be told – her eyes were a bit glassy.

Barry Sands rang up a tab well over a grand that night, which Prince Moore wound up having to pay for after he lost a game of poker to Barry. Cindy Summers threw up all over Chico Robin’s brand new Stollata suit, which he had tailored earlier in the day for the occasion. None of the men wore lapels on their blazers and none of the girl’s eyelashes were real.

Curtis Rodney broke his leg that night trying to do the splits for Maxine Cannon’s bassist, who told him “Man, you’re too damn short to be that flexible” and wagered a king sized bet against Rodney, resulting in the loss of his beloved pink Caddy. Dennis The Cyclone signed on to produce The Spectrums that night, which would result in the one-hit wonder, “He Wants Her (But She Wants Somebody Else).” 

You probably think I’m shittin’ you, but no lie, no lie – it was all happening at The Crystale that night. Hey, I’m just lucky that I got to be there. Funny thinking about it now ‘cause originally my girl wanted me to stay home that night; she was making lasagna from scratch. But at the time I was trying to nail in some session work for Chico, so I told her, “Baby, I love your lasagna, you know I do. But I really got to go to The Crystale tonight.” And boy, oh boy, she was madder than hell, but I grabbed my houndstooth and hitched a taxi ‘cross-town to The Crystale and the rest is history.

Yes sir, I was there when Angie Fey slapped Pete Hooker in the face for letting Darlene Kelly sing on her tracks. I was even there when Parker Wilson crashed his Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria into the Crystales fountain. Oh lord, what a mess! And such a beautiful automobile – pink and black with a brand new chrome job. I was out on the balcony with Lee Dempt having a smoke – you know Lee Dempt, right? Played sax on “Ain’t The Girl Something?” Beautiful musician – so I’m on the balcony with Lee having a smoke, when alls a sudden I hear Parker hootin’ and hollerin’ from below and VRROOOOM VRROOOM VROOOM! Next thing you know, Parker’s bottoms up in The Crystale fountain.

The road manager from The Bonnies told me that Dakota Young introduced Little Freddy to heroin that night. Supposedly he was in back booth of the bar when Freddy took his first hit. You know the rest of that story.

Kinda sad, you know? Thinking about that night at The Crystale, and all those people. Everyone was so young, so talented. They’re all dead now. And what do we got? A few tunes that everyone can sing along to and some old man remembering nights that once were. And what good is it really? But now I’ve gone off on a tangent. I’m sorry, kid, what was your question again?


Posted in Bad Prose, Eric HEHR | No Comments »


has adventure died? or have we become complacent without wonder and with whatever suppressants we can still afford.  has questioning for a greater good run it’s course right into the great wall of subservience?  and standing at the base of this great wall do we silence our inquisitive minds to stare up blankly towards the sun with out turned pockets, open hands and empty mouths hoping for rain? Does anyone care anymore and would it matter if they did? do we look for common ground anymore? or simply kick it back and forth afraid to connect to any of it, afraid that our eyes might meet. afraid that our souls might touch. is there still a horizon to sail and a wind to blow or has the sweet smell of loam turned to rot and even so does that breath of decay still fertilize new life or turn to dust on the sand. why is this asian guy in my office? why does he make so many noises, bodily and otherwise? he never stops fidgeting and fiddling with a phone? what does he even do? I asked him how his day was and he said he was driving “so…”  Is that an answer now? if he starts to think about how his day really was or is would he begin to think of the week before and then in turn be caused to reflect on his entire life and then direct his attention to tomorrow and with screaming pain end writhing on the ground in hopeless incertitude? is that such a bad thing? no one knows but me. 


Posted in Bad Prose | 1 Comment »


I don’t feel at home in this world anymore
she said to me like i was seventeen still
like i still thought maybe there were people who did feel at home in the world
I said i learned long ago that no one’s home
no one’s ever home
never been home
and no one’s gonna answer your ding dong ditch.
Flaming dog shit on the porch ain’t no one gonna stomp out, I giggled through my shivers
Gonna burn neath the porch light till it’s ashes in the wind.
Then she laughed and said shut up

And I fell into the snow and she did too and I touched her lip with my thumb.
I saw that once in an old movie and i thought i’d like to do that
I don’t know shit i said.
im drunk i said.
She said ur tuff to figure out. I can’t keep up.
I could see her ancestors in her eyes.
And I said don’t worry it’s nonsense. It’s a racket.
And that was the first true thing i said all night. All year!

The sun was starting to rise at the horizon.
And my new old coat with the dead man’s name inside felt warm on my shoulders
as winds from the future passed through me like cool ghosts.

And I remember we sat and ate pancakes someplace and I ordered a beer as day broke and we watched all the hot shots walk through the freezing cold with breath like old stuffing in old couches. And I couldn’t wait to go home and go to sleep and put this weekend to rest. I was twenty years old. It was january 3rd. I don’t think about her ever and I can’t remember her name.


Posted in Bad Prose, Eddie O'KEEFE | 7 Comments »


Mrs. Powalski was tired. The young girl in the upstairs apartment had spent sunrise to sunset pacing up and down the floorboards, blanketing Mrs. Powalski’s bedroom ceiling with merciless footsteps.

“It ain’t got nothing to do with my handy-work,” Horace grunted, bits of kolaczki crumbs tumbling from his mouth and into his beard. “If I was you, I’d talk with her and see what’s really going on. Suppose it ain’t got nothing to do with locks and doors…” Horace twirled his finger around his sweat stained Red Sox cap, whistling and crossing his eyes…”if you know what I mean.”

Mrs. Powalski sighed, picking up the cookie tray from the kitchen table. She offered to wrap up a small plate for Horace to take home with him, but he declined, stuffing one more kolaczki into his mouth and dropping another one into an empty pouch on his tool belt.

Mrs. Powalski wondered if Horace was right. Afterall, the young girl in the upstairs apartment was a stranger to Mrs. Powalski – a first time tenant who had only been in the building since the beginning of the month. It was possible that she had some mental issues unbeknownst to Mrs. Powalski -“probably a bit loopy” as Horace had put it earlier.

Mrs. Powalski walked Horace out of the building, watching him saunter up to his rusted Ford pick-up truck, throwing his tool box into the back bed. Horace waved, starting the engine to the Ford, “Let me know if you need anything else, Mrs. Powalski. I’ll be by Thursday to look at the plumbing on the second floor.”

A groaning rumble escaped from Horace’s pickup truck as it pulled down the street, leaving Mrs. Powalski alone on the front stoop, her arms crossed over her floral-print apron.

This had been the third time this week that the young girl had asked Mrs. Powalski to change the locks on her apartment. Originally, Mrs. Powalski had thought the changing of the locks was a cautious contingency on the young girl’s part. “You have nothing to worry about, my dear,” Mrs. Powalski had told the young girl , watching her as she autograph on the lease, “Everyone in the building is very kind. I only rent to good, wholesome people.”

A few days later the young girl knocked on Mrs. Powalski’s door asking that the locks be changed. When Mrs. Powalski asked why, the young girl held up her cell-phone. Mrs. Powalski squinted at the cell phone through her thick-rimmed glasses, focusing in on a picture of the young girl sleeping in bed. Mrs. Powalski shook her head, “I’m sorry, honey. I don’t understand.”

“Somebody took this picture of me last night,” the young girl said, pointing at the picture on her cell phone, “But nobody else was in my apartment last night. I was alone.”

Mrs. Powalski could see that the young girl was clearly frightened. She called up Horace to replace the locks that day.

Two days later, there was another knock on Mrs. Powalski’s door. When Mrs. Powalski opened the door, the young girl stood there once again, bags under her eyes and hair in tangles, holding up her cell-phone to Mrs. Powalski. On it was another blurry picture of the young girl sleeping in bed.
“Those were brand new locks,” Mrs. Powalski explained. “Horace installed them just the other day. Nobody else had a key to them.”
“Well somebody was in my apartment – again,” the young girl said, her hands shaking.

Mrs. Powalski watched Horace’s Ford disappear from sight down the road, her eyelids feeling increasingly heavy. Maybe the young girl was of an unsound mind. The way that she had paced around her apartment all last night like a bull? Convinced that somebody else is in the apartment and taking pictures of her while she’s sleeping?

A cab pulled up to the building. Mrs. Powalski squinted her eyes. The young girl stepped out of the back of the cab, holding a suitcase. Mrs. Powalski greeted her as she walked up to the porch.
“Have the locks been changed?” the young girl asked.
“Yes, my dear,” Mrs. Powalski replied, “Horace just finished up. You didn’t talk with him earlier today?”
The young girl shook her head. “No, I just got back from my parents. I stayed there last night – didn’t feel safe in the apartment. I’m sure you understand.”
Mrs. Powalski furrowed her brow, looking past the young girl.
“Was anyone else staying in the apartment last night?” Mrs. Powalski asked
“No,” the young girl replied, “Why?”


Posted in Bad Prose, Eric HEHR | 4 Comments »


I read today in the paper about some scientists up at some fancy school in the east. They were saying that by the year 2040 they’d be able to stop people from aging. Nip it right in the bud, they said. Like it was the common cold or a computer virus or something like that. And while I doubt any of that could actually happen, cus I mean, c’mon — I got to thinking about it anyway. What would it be like to live for forever? What kinda cars and phones and music would exist in the year 2600? And how would I feel about things when I was that old? Would I be expected to take a wife? Who’d want the same stale bird for so many years? And what if my mom and pa missed the cutoff? What if they died before the potion was finished? Would I remember them when I was five hundred? You know, with them having been gone for so long. Would I recall their faces or the way that they smelled? How they held me when I was young? My momma’s voice when she sang chim-chim cheroo? Or would they be like an echo that eventually disappeared? And how sad would that be? To be so old and big and wise and full of years and to be connected to nothing? 


Posted in Bad Prose, Eddie O'KEEFE | 13 Comments »


Been thinking about the battle of Britain. That’s a lot of bombs. I’m thinking about the bomb on the plane being flown by the father. A respectable man in different clothes. A man that loved his family. A man that had pictures of his daughter and his boys. He presses a button and the bomb falls, falls past all the blue in the sky, dodging the suns beams onto a little house next to an ammunition factory in east London. It explodes in a little girls room. She was 4. She loved her mommy and her daddy.  Her skin was white and she use to have beautiful eyes. In a few years, the house will be cleaned up. And a new house with a new family will live inside it. And everyone will want more…and more…and more.

I remember the first time I was on a beach at night. And there was a fire. And all you could hear was water. Next year I might be flying a plane and there’s a battle. I don’t want to blow up that little boy. But sometimes you have to. Evil, how did it steal the end of the world?


Posted in Bad Prose, Nick MATSAS | 785 Comments »


before now and later

Let the moment slip through your fingers. Watch it float away into a sherbet sky of memories, hazy in the afterglow of passing. A brief moment. A pocket sized tragedy. Cascading and tumbling and joining a vast array of other moments, growing increasingly smaller and smaller as they drift farther and farther away, scattering into a bittersweet abyss – an all too familiar void somewhere between the heart and the head, the present and the past, what could have been and what will never be.

Lie awake in bed at night. The passing moment is long gone, but still burns from within. Retrace every step, reword every sentence, edit and revise and omit and analyze, loathing the past for what it could not do and the future for what it will not be.

Wake up in the morning. The moment has become a safe recollection – a tiny black spot in your rear view mirror that use to be a mountain a few forgotten miles back. Security sweeps over passivity, embracing the muted placidity of lost causes, blanketing doubt with the thin veil of self-assurance. Good for you. It’s good you didn’t do anything.

But in that moment – oh those profound fleeing moments of expiring infinity – you see furtive eyes and feel kindred souls and hear words like sermons and taste life and all of its strange flavors. And you imagine the generations upon generations upon generations of people it took to create such a beautiful specimen, the years upon decades upon centuries of coincidence and chance that it took to bring them to you in this very moment. But don’t think about such things for too long because the moment will get up and leave.

But while the moment is here, don’t hesitate. Tell them everything. Tell them not to be afraid to love. Tell them that nobody belongs to anybody, but that everybody needs someone, sometimes. Tell them that nothing last forever, but that forever is only a collection of moments, so dense in numbers that it’s easy for the trees to become the forest. Tell them that you don’t want to hold them back, but that you just want to hold them, even if it is only for this moment. Tell them to smile more, because they have a beautiful smile. Tell them everything. Do it all and to do it right now, right here, because time is a cruel thief and will steal this moment – it will take it and turn it into a sad memory. But wait –

….there it goes. Can you feel it? Nevermind, it’s already gone. The moment floats away. You try to reach out and grab it, but by the time you lift up your hand, it’s just out of reach. It grows increasingly smaller and smaller as it drifts farther and farther away, scattering into a bittersweet abyss – an all too familiar void somewhere between the heart and the head, the present and the past, what could have been and what will never be.

And there it goes. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Goodbye.


Posted in Bad Prose, Eric HEHR | 1 Comment »


I hate my hair….and my clothes. This is very true. Does it matter? On comical levels? Can it this be fixed?…Yes. I can buy shit. I can also buy a gun or borrow my neighbor’s knife and rob an old lady walking home from the grocery store. “YOU FUCKING BITCH, GIVE ME YOUR FUCKING MONEY OR IT’S YOUR ASS.” Am I going to do this? No!… I am not my father. I really don’t like clothes and as of right now I’m not too fond of the city. If you were to inject me with a truth serum, I’d lie down and tell you how much I want to be on a beach in Michigan. Summertime with my children and wife. Its night and there’s a fire. My wife is smiling and our children are laughing. I’m almost naked. I feel like Liam Niesen, I feel like how he feels. My feet are warm by the fire. My chest is the first thing the wind off the lake touches. I don’t know if I drink. I definitely don’t smoke, I stopped before I started writing. My wife is from Texas, I love her because of her laugh and the way she talks to me. She loves everyone, and I think about her all the time.  Sundays quickly become a high in the week, a place to stand and look down at the rest of the week. The truth serum quickly fades and you look at the television host. You have left many clues that you think are well hidden and all you want pat sajack to say is, “you are a tremendous talent.” Harvey Keitel.


Posted in Bad Prose, Nick MATSAS | No Comments »


By the time the community pool had opened up for the season, the memory of Lenny McCarther had faded from the minds of everyone at Harold High, wiped away like a forgotten equation on a dusty chalkboard. Lenny’s classmates were not the only ones who had managed to quickly vanquish his recollection; the whole community had gracefully tossed Lenny into their quiet little closet, along with the other hushed-hushed skeletons of Harold’s past. And as black smoke from hundreds of back-porch grills – being fired up for the first time of the season – vanished into the humid southern air, a boy named Lenny McCarther vanished from the memory of the town of Harold without a trace.

With the annual Harold Summer Market on the way, along with the countless amounts of upcoming fundraisers in the park, who had time to mourn over the loss of a teenage felon who came from a broken home? The upstanding citizens of Harold much preferred gossip to grief, and so naturally the only talk of Lenny’s death was not of sorrow, but of speculation. 

Rumors surrounding Lenny’s death began to infect the community like an epidemic; the convent chatter at PTA meetings echoing off metallic lockers, bouncing back through smoky garages on Friday night poker tournaments and reverberating in hushed whispers amongst uncomfortable pews on Sunday morning.  “The paramedics had to pry open his hands – still frozen into a white knuckled grip – to remove the bouquet of roses from his hands,” Dr. Richardson told his secretary, who shuddered in response. “I heard it had something to do with the father,” Marie Wolcott told her favorite barista, leaning over the counter to add, “I heard he was the one who killed Lenny.” While watering the flowers in her front lawn, paying no attention to the gathering storm clouds that basked everything in an aquarium light, Diane Pulshalski told the mailman that she heard Lenny was drunk: “Stumbling down the middle of the road in the dead of the night. You believe that? If you ask me, he deserved what he got. Should’ve stayed on the sidewalk.”

Paul Steiman was the first to tell me about Lenny, heedlessly bringing it up as an inconsequential anecdote in-between describing his brother’s new motorcycle and recalling the time he caught Mrs. Power’s slipping a flask out of her purse during study hall. I shrugged when I heard the news, asking Paul how it happened. “Fucking hit and run,” Paul said, kicking the same rock he had been kicking for the past six blocks, “Pretty wild, right?” By the time Paul and I reached Harold High’s front parking lot, the conversation had drifted to the shape and size of Bethany Kohler’s tits, the news of Lenny death already fading.

The memorial assembly at Harold High felt like a perturbed formality. The air in the darkened auditorium was tense, conflicted. It didn’t help that the accident had occurred while Lenny was walking to his mother’s grave, holding a bouquet of roses he stole from the local grocery store.

The principal of Harold High made a brief speech filled with neutral generalizations, referring to Lenny as “a young man we all knew and will miss.” Students uncomfortably shifted in their seats, knowing that the young man being talked about had earned the nickname The Hound of Harold for his unruly temper. Teachers avoided eye contact, shuffling through the aisles and checking their watches, knowing that the young man being talked about had sexually molested a junior high girl underneath the bleachers at the Harold Hawk’s homecoming game.

I spent the summer after Lenny’s death going to keggers in unfinished basements. I lost my virginity in the backseat of a used sedan.  I broke my wrist hopping over a cemetery fence. I didn’t think about Lenny McCarther once. I didn’t miss him.

In later years, I’d look back on my yearbook and come across his picture. It would take a second to conjure up a memory of who Lenny was: the kid who kicked the chair out from under me in study hall or the kid who chucked the basketball at my face in gym class or the kid who killed Stacey Peterson’s pet rabbit or the kid who use to piss in the bathroom sink or the kid who said he hoped that Billy Knight died after Billy got bit by a rattlesnake or the kid who would whip his dick out in the back of the bus.

When I would run into Paul at AA meetings, I’d sometimes ask him, “You remember Lenny McCarther?” Paul would look at me blankly, his shaky hands pushing his glasses up the brim of his nose.

“Lenny McCarther. He was in our class. He died in a hit and run.”

“Oh, Lenny McCarther,” Paul would say, nodding his head. “Yes, yes, Lenny McCarther – The Hound of Harold. That kid was a real asshole.”

Eric HEHR 

Posted in Bad Prose, Eric HEHR | 4 Comments »



Young newlyweds walk into a seedy motel room forgotten by the highway, decorated with watercolor paintings of the French Riviera and coated in a thick layer of dust. It’s the dead of winter, and the bitter air hurts your lungs and cracks your skin. If you take a moment to peer in through the frosted motel window, you’ll see the young man caught in the marigold illumination of a bedside lamp, his breath creating clouds of smoke around his face. The girl sits on top of the burnt orange bedspread, clinging to her jacket. She kicks off her heels, leaving a trail of melted snow on the shag carpeting. The young man sets an overstuffed suitcase on top of the luggage rack, tossing the copper room key onto the bedside table.

According to the clock on the stained wall it’s 11:30, but the young man knows that can’t be possible. The dashboard clock on his Impala had read 11:30 hours ago, right before they stopped to fill up at that Texaco outside Janesville. For a brief moment the man is stricken with an icy chill that jolts through his body – a chill not so much due to the weather, but to the thought of the clock’s tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock suddenly stopping at some unknown 11:30; the motel room empty and dark, nobody around to realize that time had stopped.

Take your ear and put it up to the splintered motel door. You’ll hear the muffled voice of the girl: “Jesus, it’s freezing in here. Baby, put the heat on,” followed by the sound of rustling and the clanking of a rusty radiator.  Somewhere deeper into the room, a radio is turned on. Blistering static interrupts fragments of The Tokens and Connie Francis until a flat baritone fills the air: “-the winter storm warning is still in full effect, with an estimated thirteen inches of snow accumulation predicted by morning.  Use caution while traveling, and please be advised that –“

Now take a step away from Room #11 and walk towards the hissing neon glow of the motel office. Can you see the scrawny Clerk behind the counter, pushing his thick-rimmed glasses up the brim of his nose? If his face looks perturbed to you, it’s because he just realized that the young couple that checked into Room #11 never signed into the guest registry. After a moment of hesitation, he puts on an oversized Navy pea-coat jacket, walking out of the office and into the frozen night.

As you follow behind The Clerk, you’ll notice that the lights inside Room #11 have been shut off. The Clerk knocks on the freshly painted door, his shoulders hunched and his coffee stained teeth clenched in the arctic air. There isn’t a response. He knocks again. Silence. 

The Clerk takes out a card from his back pocket and puts it into the metallic square box beneath the door handle. A light on the box flashes green. The Clerk opens up the door and steps inside.

The room is vacant. The floral pattern bedspread is smooth and undisturbed, the tan berber carpeting freshly vacuumed, over which a few beautiful Jaipur rugs are placed. The Clerk shivers as he walks through the room, past the maple desk and empty luggage rack, towards the clock that hangs between acrylic paintings of horse stables. He checks his wristwatch and – seeing that it’s 11:30 – readjusts the clock accordingly, putting it back up on the wall above the bare bedside table.

The Clerk steps out of the room, gazing down the long line of motel doors and darkened windows. All the other rooms are vacant. The highway had been closed down hours ago due to the storm. Did the couple suddenly leave? The Clerk shuffles through the snow back to the office, thinking that all these overnight shifts may be starting to take a toll on his head. He gazes out into the empty parking lot. 

Back at Room #11, the lights turn on. 

As you slowly walk back towards the golden light coming from Room #11’s window, you hear the young mans voice: “I don’t know why it won’t warm up in here. It’s freezing.”

Peek in through the windowpane. Can you see the girl disappearing into the bathroom, steam rising up from a hot bath being drawn? No? Try wiping the frost away from the window. Can you see better now? 

The young man stands motionless by the clock radio on the oak desk. For a moment it looks as though he is about to cry. He turns on the radio, the receiver blushing orange hues as Shelly Fabares sings about an angel named Johnny.  “Well we can’t go anywhere else. I guess we’ll just have to stay here,” the girl calls from the bathroom. The man sits down on the bed, turning to look at you through the window, his eyes pleading for help.


Posted in Bad Prose, Eric HEHR | 6 Comments »

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