Archive for the ‘Eric HEHR’ Category



Written/Performed/Produced/Engineered by Eric Hehr
VIDEO: Compiled & Edited by Eric Hehr © Eric Hehr 2016

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Written/Performed/Produced/Engineered by Eric Hehr
VIDEO: Compiled & Edited by Eric Hehr © Eric Hehr 2016

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Return To Sender

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what's happening back home

As Nurse Keyes opened the door, Tom quickly hopped back onto the examination table.

“Your mother is on her way,” Nurse Keys said.

Tom forced himself to cough so hard he lost his breath.

“Poor thing,” Nurse Keyes sighed, “This blizzard is getting everyone sick.”

Tom watched as she walked out of the room, shutting the door behind her. After waiting for a moment, he hopped off the table. He crouched down and grabbed the heating pad he had hid a few moments earlier. He brought it to his forehead and quickly worked it around his face, all the while keeping his eyes locked on the door.

The heating pad belonged to Tom’s father, who used it on his shoulders after getting off his shift at the warehouse. Sometimes late at night, Tom would sneak out of bed and hide in the shadows by the staircase. He’d watch his father sit crouched in the fluorescent light of the refrigerator, drinking Budweiser and rotating the heating pad around his shoulders. Sometimes when Tom woke up in the morning, he’d find his father asleep at the kitchen table, surrounded by empty bottles, the heating pad resting on the back of his neck.

Tom stuffed the heating pad into his backpack. He sat back on the examination table, looking at the laminated posters of gorillas and spaceships hanging on the beige walls. He wondered if all the other chumps in Mrs. Driskell’s class were still taking that math test. Tom reclined back on the table, thinking about what movies he’d watch when he got home.

Muffled voices bounced off the other side of the wall, followed by footsteps. The door opened and Tom heard Nurse Keyes saying, “He’s right in here.”

Tom’s father stepped into the room. He was wearing his charcoal grey work uniform. An unexpected chill ran through Tom. He had never seen his father wearing his uniform by daylight. He felt like he didn’t know the man standing in front of him.

Tom meant to ask him why he wasn’t at work, but it came out as, “Where’s mom?”

His father looked him up and down, his face stoic. Then he crossed the room and grabbed Tom’s backpack and said, “Let’s go.”

Sitting in the backseat of his father’s Buick, Tom rubbed away the frost from the window. Had his father discovered that the heating pad was missing? Was he in trouble? Tom tried to focus on the rumble of the old engine and the snow crunching beneath the tires. He didn’t ask about the red suitcase with the broken handle that was sitting next to him.

“So you’re sick?” Tom’s father asked, his white knuckles grasping the steering wheel. “You don’t look sick.”

“Nurse Keyes said I have the flu,” Tom said.

His father’s eyes darted in the rear view mirror, looking at Tom as he pulled the Buick into their snow-lined driveway. He threw the Buick into park and stepped out, keeping the keys in the ignition. The idling engine continued to rumble.

Tom got out of the car, following behind his father to their back door. He noticed that their garage door was open, and a man he had never seen before was sitting there, shivering on a fold old lawn chair. He wore a tweed blazer with no shirt on underneath. A dark circle covered his left eye. When he saw Tom’s father approaching, he stood up.

“You,” Tom’s father said, pointing at the man in the garage, “You stay put.”

The man raised his hands up, taking a step back. He looked at Tom for a moment, and then looked away.

Tom walked through the backdoor into the kitchen, where his mother was crying at the kitchen table. She walked over and hugged him, letting him know that there was hot tea and Advil waiting for him in his bedroom. Tom’s father hovered above the kitchen sink, his back to them.

When Tom got to his bedroom, he closed his door and threw his backpack onto the floor. He could hear his mother and father downstairs, their voices growing fiercer with every passing moment. A glass broke. A chair screeched across the kitchen floor. A door slammed. They knew that he had taken the heating pad. They knew that he wasn’t sick.

Tom crept over to his bedroom window. Squinting past the blinding white of the snow, he saw his mother talking with the man in the garage. She was still crying, and she touched the man’s left eye. He pulled away from her.

Tom got into his bed and pulled the covers up past his head. He curled his body up, trying to make himself as small as possible. He wished he that he was back at school, sitting in Mrs. Driskell’s class and taking that math test. From downstairs, Tom could hear his father screaming.


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Around the time of his eighteenth birthday, he gave up on trying to figure out the universe. Space was too big for him to wrap his head around. He didn’t understand the science behind black holes, the mathematics behind relativity, or the physics of multi-verses. What he did understand was how much money he had in his bank account, and how many hours he’d have to work at Franklin’s Paint Shop before he could afford a down payment on that Honda CB750 parked on the front lawn of the Lipka’s place. He understood that God would forgive his sins, and how many unchecked boxes were left on the refrigerator calendar before he shipped off to basic training.

While his friends took long trips to distant mountains and gathered around bonfires to recite the latest cosmic musings from last week’s scientific journal, he thought about kissing pretty girls and running his fingers through Montana wheatgrass.

He liked the way that bourbon burned his throat, and how Chrissy McClyde looked in her smock when they were in art class. He liked the way that his grandma’s house smelled on Sunday afternoons, and the way that “Kind Woman” by Buffalo Springfield sounded after he’d smoked a joint. He could feel these moments. They occurred and expired right before him. These moments were tangible and earthly and corporeal and they were his to ponder and decipher.

Sometimes his friends would rag on him, and they’d say, “Who cares about Chrissy McClyde or the smell of your grandmas house? What about your place in the universe, man?” And he didn’t know what to say, because he didn’t know his place in the universe.

He knew that he didn’t want to be sad, and that he didn’t want to die alone. He knew that everyone who was older than him told him to enjoy it while it lasts, but never told him what “it” was. He often felt guilty that he didn’t understand space the way that his friends did. Maybe they had it all figured out. They knew that it took a photon 170,000 years to travel from the core of the sun to the surface, and that the furthest galaxies are spreading away from us at more than 90% of the speed of light.

Around the time of his fortieth birthday, he gave up on trying to figure out why his wife left him. He didn’t understand why his daughter wore such heavy eye shadow, or how his credit had gotten so bad. And on some ancient desert nights he’d stand eclipsed in the fluorescent light of his trailer, looking up at all the stars that had burnt out thousands of years ago. He remembered his friends from back home telling him that every atom in his body was a billion years old. And while he understood this, he also understood that atoms are mostly made up of empty space.


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clover, ohio (wherever that may be)

His body jolted from sleep, fragments of dreams dissolving all around him. As his vision came into focus he could make out her arthritic hand reaching across him, pointing out the rectangular window. “Right down there,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” he said, clearing his throat.

She pointed out the window again, saying, “I was telling you that’s where I live. Right down there – little town called Clover. That’s where I live.”

He nodded his head, looking out the window through buttered popcorn clouds, gazing down at the brown and tan squares below, silent and still. 

“Got a two and a half hour drive ahead of me tonight from the airport, can you believe that?” she continued, shifting in her seat, “Course I could have flown into Cincinnati – it’s much closer to Clover. But it’s so much cheaper to fly into Columbus.”

She reached into her floral print purse and pulled out a wallet-sized photo of a young girl with blonde pigtails and buckteeth.

“This is my Lizzy May. She’s my granddaughter. She Lives in Clover too. I picked up some souvenirs for her at the airport in Vegas. Nothing fancy – just a magnet with her name on it and some sunglasses, but I’ll have to wait to give them to her till tomorrow. Suppose by the time I get back tonight she’ll already be asleep. Oh well, price you pay by flying into Columbus, am I right?”

She chuckled to herself and sat back in her seat. He looked at the tray table in front of him, littered with tiny plastic bottles of Bombay.

For a few moments they sat in silence, the sound of recycled air swirling around them, occasionally interrupted by muffled coughs that ping-ponged around the cabin. He checked his phone, scrolling through a text conversation with his dad about his last AA meeting. Re-reading it, he felt ashamed that he wasn’t more honest.

“You know,” she whispered, as if to not disturb him, “Las Vegas sure ain’t the same without my Teddy. We use to go on this trip every year together. Teddy loved blackjack. He once won $2500 at The Bellagio – can you believe that? Course after he passed I had a hard time taking the trip on my own. But that was years and years ago – way before little Lizzy was born. I’m much better now. Hell, sometimes I go to Vegas two – three times a year!”

She smoothed out her tan slacks and smiled. “Sometimes I wish Lizzy could’ve met her grandpa. Teddy was such a wonderful man.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” he said.

“Oh please, honey,” she exclaimed, “It was eons and eons ago…funny thing, getting old. You don’t start to realize it till you start realizing everything that you’ve let go. Letting go of things that use to be so important to you, people and places that you use to care about. You don’t even realize it, but you start letting them all go. But you have to I guess. If you held onto everything and everyone life would hurt too bad.”

The plane landed in Columbus fifteen minutes early. He followed the old lady out to the arrival gate, watching her wander around and squint at the signs and monitors around her. He felt like he should help her – to point her in the direction of Clover, Ohio, wherever that may be – but before he got to her she turned a corner and was swept away into a crowd of briefcases, screaming children, and bustling overcoats. 

His sister picked him up from the airport. She looked much older than the last time her saw her, but he told her, “You look great.” She could smell the alcohol on his breath, but didn’t say anything.

“We’re only a few minutes from the hotel, and the funeral home is right next store,” she said, throwing his suitcase into the trunk. “Mom wants us to be ready to go in the lobby by 8am.”

A few minutes later they were in the Days Inn parking lot, and his sister was crying and saying she wished she could have done more. He told her that she did all she could and that everything was going to be okay, even though he knew that was a lie. 

When he went to bed that night he thought of the little old lady from Clover. On the stained stucco ceiling of his hotel room, he envisioned a mosaic of her driving down a desolate highway in a rented sedan, all by herself. He hoped she got home okay. Nothing else in the world mattered more to him. 


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still raining outside

        Standing in the lobby, he wondered what the hell he was doing. He felt ridiculous. Embarrassed. How did things get so bad?
        He could never tell his family about this. Or his friends for that matter. What would they say if they saw him here – wearing a cheap suit in a cheap hotel, soaking wet and twirling his wedding ring around his sweaty palms.
        He could see her from where he stood. She was sitting alone at a round cocktail table, framed by the oak door that lead to the hotel bar. He thought she looked pretty, thoughtlessly stirring a red straw around the edge of her cocktail glass. The feeling of discomfiture that overcastted his thoughts suddenly faded. Without realizing it, he had already passed through the bar door, walking towards her.
        She looked up at him as he arrived at the table. Up close, he could see that she had put a considerable amount of time sculpting herself for the evening: meticulously applied rouge to highlight her narrow cheekbones, dark charcoal eye shadow – soft and bridal. Her skin was translucent, her lips the shade of strawberries. Realizing that he had already been standing above her in lumbering silence for quite some time, he said the first thing that came to him: “Hello.”
        “Hello,” she said, her voice soft and cool, with a hint of a European accent he couldn’t quite place.
       “My name is Michael.”
       “Nice to meet you Michael,” she said, extending a manicured hand, “I’m Sofia. Please, sit down. Did you forget your umbrella at home?”
        He ordered her a drink, surprised when she requested Stoli on the rocks with extra olives. He watched her lips move as she told him about herself (grew up in Denmark, favorite actor is John Wayne, avid swimmer, never got her drivers license). As she spoke, he couldn’t help but let his thoughts travel far away to someplace darker – someplace deprecating.
       He began to recognize his distaste for himself, for her, for the hotel, and for everything that had lead the both of them to this fraudulent moment. He ordered them another round of drinks.
       After all the chairs had been stacked up on the tables around him, he asked her, “Would you like to come up to my room?” She nodded.
       A part of him wished that she had said no – that this whole thing could have ended right then and there. He was drunk, tired, and didn’t have the energy to continue this charade.
        It was in the elevator when he asked, “When did you start drinking Stoli on the rocks?”
        After a few brief moments of silence, she began sobbing uncontrollably. He turned to look at her, mascara running down her cheeks, pressed up against the elevator mirror.
        “I’m sorry, Kate,” he said as the elevator doors opened.
        “It’s Sofia, not Kate,” she whimpered, walking past him and down the hallway.
         He debated whether or not he should stay in the elevator, letting the doors close around him, watching her walk away. He stepped out and followed behind her.
         “You know, you could have at least tried,” she said in her thick Southern accent, pacing towards the room at the end of the hall, “You didn’t even take off your ring.”
         She opened the door to the room, silhouetted by pink and green neon lights filtering in through the open window. It was still raining outside.
         He closed the door behind him as she threw herself down on the bed.
         “Kate, I’m sorry. It just didn’t feel right to me. The whole thing didn’t feel-“
         “It wasn’t suppose to feel right,” she said, gazing out the glowing neon window, “It was suppose to feel new. It was suppose to feel exciting, like how it was when we first met.”
          He stood there silently looking down at the carpet, his hands in his pockets. “It’s over, isn’t it, Will?” she said, looking up at him.
Their eyes locked in a moment of earnestness that neither had felt in years. He wanted to embrace her, but was unable to find the strength to do so.

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The following photos were taken throughout East Los Angeles. Shot on a Canon AE-1 with Fugicolor 200. EH

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Before I left for Big Sur, the very talented photographer Delaney Teichler recommended that I pick up some Fuji Velvia 100. I have little experience with slide film, so I only shot two rolls of it. Immediately after getting the film processed, I wish I would have brought much more with me.

In addition to the “technicolor explosion” of the Velvia, I had beautiful subject matter: Big Sur. And although I am happy with how most of these shots turned out, they don’t do Big Sur justice. It’s impossible to capture the overwhelming beauty of Big Sur in a single frame – or even a series of single frames.

The following pictures were taken while traveling from San Luis Obispo through Big Sur up to Carmel, CA. Shot on a Canon AE-1 with Fugi Velvia 100 Color Slide Film.


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