What’s in a Name

“Sometimes, it just don’t work the way’d you’d expect.” Cain said, taking a long, hard pull from his Pall-Mall. His hand shook the entire time. He gave a last glance to St. Catherine’s, the parish he’d grown up with, received Confirmation through, and just accidentally tripped into the hanging crucifix, pulling Christ down among the masses and rendering 3 unconscious.

Cain wasn’t even referring to that, specifically. He didn’t really even care about church—it was a habit he was drawn to. Spiritual rehabilitation; made him feel like one of the “good guys”.

Earlier in the day, Cain opened his front door to leave, but not before his dog, Boutros Boutros-Collie, took off down the street and out of sight faster than a flash.

“I thought this damn dog was supposed’ta be one’uh the smart ones?” Cain thought to himself, between drags, unable to catch up to his furry diplomat. Cain was right, at least—Collies are a very smart breed of dog.

He had gone to church that day with the hopes of confessing his sins, hopefully he could kill two birds with one stone—get a conscious cleanse and his stupid dog back. Cain was late for confession, but apparently right on time in destroying whatever was left of his chances through the pearly gates.

He was known as a dead-beat; a guy to stay away from. His pew in church was always empty, save for some late-comer hoping not to distract from Mass. Didn’t matter now, within 2 hours Cain had found himself out a dog and a church.

Sometimes, Cain worried himself with existential “Why me?’s”, hoping to suddenly make sense of a constant and unwinnable chaos; a gloomy forecast always cast above his head. Most times he’d forget all about it in an instant, equipped with just enough foresight to know he just had some damn-bad luck. He couldn’t change fate, Cain. Maybe it came with his name. “Of all the god damn names on Earth, she chose this one…” It was like his mom destined him to struggle.

When a younger Cain understood his name and place in the world, he introduced himself in humorous ways, trying to take the sting out of his existence, “Names Cain, definitely not able.” It usually got a chuckle, at least, until whoever Cain was talking with began to understand he was as shifty as his Biblical counterpart—as unable to accomplish practically anything, as he said, either. “Can’t fault the guy for being honest, at least.” They’d sometimes think, other times they’d settle on “Wow, what a dick.”

Later that night, Cain returned to an empty home. Boutros Boutros-Collie’d come back eventually, Cain was sure. He was a smart pup. When Cain rested his head to sleep, he was filled with an unending sadness; an evaporation of what little was left of his self-esteem. Boutros Boutros-Collie, whose name was thought up to alleviate some of the oddity of Cain’s own name, was Cain’s only pal in a world of people who stayed far away.

“Why’d he have’ta leave?” Cain thought, tossing and turning in dirty bedsheets.

“Oh, pup. Please come back.” He begged, to the God he face-planted earlier.

Before he eventually fell asleep, Cain thought, “Why me?” Then, as his reality fogged with memories and dreams, Cain couldn’t help but resign to “Today wasn’t so bad…” and his spirits were slightly lifted, about as much as Jesus from the ground (he was quite heavy, professionals would eventually lift Christ back on his cross). Cain fell asleep with what would have been the slightest smile ever exerted in history, had a witness been present to record the event.


Socially Media’d

Times are tough, I read it in daily status updates.
People are just fed up I suppose;
they just broke up, she’s unemployed without the mint
and every other day this kid is posting every shitty thing
happening somewhere on the planet.
I try not to go on too much anymore; I feel too guilty.
Don’t like reading others intimate events,
Don’t like feeling like an asshole for every shitty thing happening.

I don’t care about your political beliefs.
Don’t care about all the fake friends in your life.
Too many selfies, not enough selfiewareness.
Too many smiling pictures spewing venom.
Too many invites to Candy Crush Saga, rarely for poetry readings.

It turns out to be the only book read.
A long scroll of negativity, personal gains, and condescension.
Of bathroom pictures, offensive ecards, and a rapey sloth.
But I’m an asshole, too.
Here I am responding in my mind to shitty updates degrading people.
Here I am, silently judging you based on your pictures,
political beliefs, check ins, and other shit that says nothing.
Here I am, briefing through Facebook instead of reading a real one.
Maybe I should post an update about this. Let ’em know.
Maybe I’ll get 20 or so likes on it.

Na, I’ll just creep some more
then maybe check out Candy Crush Saga.

I hear it’s fun.


There weren’t many thoughts or flashing memories during it, just a spiraling car heaving into lanes as most cars avoided an alternate present.

I don’t know what happened, everything was fine. There was a puddle. I hit it, hydroplaned and jumped a curb. Jerked the wheel back to the highway. Then the spiraling. I can’t control the car anymore, it’s a lump of metal streaking around other cars. When we hit the first car, both of our heads jerked to the left, John’s cushioned by the conditioned air from the passenger’s seat, my temple colliding with the seat belt adjuster.

You’re fine, get up. You’re faking this. You’re fine.

I’m so tired.

You’re not. Get up. Get up!

“Ant? ANT!” My hands are slipping into my lap, I can feel everything draining from my body. My head slumps forward onto the wheel. No memories. No slow motion.

Nothing but darkness and my voice.

Get up! You’re fine! Stop faking!

I want to but I can’t. I’m helpless. We smash into the rear of another car, hurdling us across another lane. I just want it to stop. I just want to sleep.

My vision is closing in on me, I can only see my own lap. The road has become a mystery; I’m just not there anymore. I swear I’m trying to level my head, trying to get myself upright and get us back into a lane but no matter how much I try, the strength isn’t there. Have I given up? Inky black begins at the corner of my vision, filling up my eyes and finally taking over everything.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry, John.

“Ant? Ant are you ok? Oh shit. ANT?!”

“Imuhkay.” My eyes aren’t opening but we’re stopped. I still don’t feel anything, I can’t see anything, and John’s voice is muffled behind the intense ringing;

but we’re stopped.


My thoughts are slow to the situation, every word is practiced by moving lips before uttered to John now on my left side. I can feel the breeze come through the opened driver’s door. We’re stopped.

“We hit two cars. We almost went into the swamp. Are you ok?”

I know he’s talking but I can’t hear it, I can’t understand it.


My eyes still aren’t open; my hands are still in my lap. I’m a prop. Without my words, I’d be dead.


“No! Ant, No. Gotta stay awake man. An ambulance is coming, you’ll be fine. Just stay with me, man.”

I can’t be in too much danger. I can’t be so bad. I’ve read the stories. There’re white lights and memories. There’re pictures of everyone you love. There’s forgiveness and apologies, maybe even God. All I saw was darkness; smothering and eternal.

This voice isn’t John’s. It’s somebody else’s.

“What’s your name? Tell me your name?”

I can’t. My lips move but nothing comes out at first.

“34 Garden Court South.”

“Where are you from? What’s your address?”

“I, uhm, Ijus’needtuhsleep.”

“NO. You can’t sleep! What’s his name?”

“Anthony.” There’s John’s voice. Why won’t my eyes open. Why can’t I just go to sleep for a little.

“Anthony, listen. You can’t go to sleep. You have to stay with me. You hit my car, an ambulance is on the way. Stay with me, ok?”


I can feel myself slip. I can feel the dark waves crashing over me and his pulling me back to shore. I don’t know who he is. I can’t see him. I can’t see anything. I know I’m in my car but I don’t know where we are. What did John say? A swamp? I forgot. Doesn’t matter. Darkness. The force is hard to deny, it’s relaxing. Like going to sleep. Sleep. Just a nap. We’re stopped. Sleep.

The first time my eyes open, I’m surrounded by people in white wearing masks. I can’t think. I don’t know what to. Don’t have time to. A mask is placed over my mouth and nose and I’m put back into the dark. The Nothing. Where are the memories? My family? Friends? Where’s God? I can’t be that bad.

When I come to the second time, my family and John are at the foot of the bed watching me. I’m hooked up to machines. I’m tired.

“This sucks.” They laugh. I must be ok. I fall back to the pillow again and sleep. We’re stopped.

“You suffered trauma to your head. We’re going to keep you over night and perform a CAT scan in the morning. How are you feeling?”

Everything aches. My back feels stiff, my legs are rubber. I can sit up, but barely. My eyes are open but still shifting between blurs and separated colors.

“I’m ok.”

They wake me up every 3 hours. They give me a shot and let me fall back asleep. I’m wheeled down a few floors and given a CAT scan. I have to stay still, that’s easy. It’s loud. I can still barely see.

I’m released the next day, told to take it easy for a few days and I should be fine.

I try not to think about the incident.

Whose voice was that? Was it me? Who kept me awake?

I don’t know who to thank. I don’t have a face; just voices. The one in my head.  John’s. The man we hit. I don’t have memories; just the car, my lap, my darkness. I saw my family and John, but only when my eyes were finally open. Are they open now? I think they are. It doesn’t matter. They were there. I was there. We kept me awake. I’m awake now. I don’t need sleep now. We’re stopped.

You’re okay.

I’m okay.