Monster – By RD Armstrong

Manx read the letter. The words stung like a load of rock salt; like an ulcer flaring up. The words were harsh, cruel and vindictive.

Unfortunately, a part of what was written had the ring of truth. At least, part of him wanted to believe it was true…that he really was the monster that was portrayed in the missive. In that part of his brain, he envied the monster, because even a monster was something to be feared, to be pitied, to be caught and studied. And, most importantly, a monster was alive! A monster had passion and strength (and because of this a monster was unpredictable).

In that part of Manx’s brain, the monster even had an identity: “Little Man” AKA “You little monster.” Little Man was a remnant from Manx’s youth, when all adults seemed like monsters, big, scary monsters who doled out trouble on a whim. In Little Man’s world, he was always surrounded by monsters.

Manx wished the Little Man would just grow up! It’s true, that once he had lived in a world of monsters, but then he grew up and the monsters got smaller (as he got taller) or they ceased to be monsters at all. But Little Man just wouldn’t let it go. It was like being attached to a ball and chain, only the chain was continually “morphing” into different kinds of nightmarish burdens. One moment it’d be a Kenmore washer on permanent “spin cycle” with a lone tennis shoe inside; then it would become a snapping crocodile; then it would be a pallet of quivering bodies, fresh from the slaughterhouse,; then a a field of daisies; then a house with a picket fence and a couple of brats in the front yard, a dog, a 30 year mortgage, the “little woman” waiting…always waiting! He had to snap out of it.

The letter in his hand fluttered to the floor, a forgotten idea. He leaned against the window and placed his free across the top of the open sash, his chest resting against his arm, his eyes closed. He sighed. The sun warmed his face. He remembered his mother hugging him on a particular day, back when he was still living in the world of monsters; how she would pull him into the warmth of her bosom and squeeze him emphatically and say, “Ah! There’s my little monster!”

He wondered how he could get rid of this particular part of his psyche. The rest of the package was pretty well-balanced. Sure, he knew he had his moments, but who didn’t?

“Show me a person without some flaws, and I’ll show you a statue;” someone in his past muttered, a disembodied voice hidden in his memory, like a heckler’s shout from a darkened theater.

He began to drift from thought to thought like a bee drunk on honey; a woman drunk on love or…a monster, drunk on blood! Damn! He couldn’t let his guard down for a moment, Little Man was always waiting in the shadows for a shot. He could ride the coat tails of anything. And that letter was like getting an invitation to the Grand Ball! It left a whole in Manx big enough to drive a Semi through. Little Man had slipped out before Manx even new he was on the loose again.

“Where is that little monster of mine?”

Again, the motherly voice and this motherly grasp of heated ozone became too much for his daydream and Manx opened his eyes. The sun no longer felt so friendly. Little pins of ultra-violence were stabbing into his unprotected skin. He squinted, shocked by the brightness. Focusing on the view out the window, he watched a group of people across the street, harassing a dog. They had the dog pretty much surrounded. It didn’t look good for the dog; but he had a certain degree of style, and it looked like he wouldn’t go down without leaving them with a few bad memories.

Manx turned and reached for something. When he returned to the window, the crowd was closing, like a fist, around the poor beast. He could see their angry faces, looking more resolute and self-righteous with each step. He adjusted the scope and exhaled slowly.

The dog lunged forward, looking in Manx’s direction just briefly before sinking his teeth into the nearest leg.

The report of the rifle resonated through the crowd like a bad mood. Order collapsed like a really bad metaphor or a special punch-line. Chaos stepped up to bat, taking a couple of practice swings.

“Ah! There’s my little monster!” Manx thought as he chambered another round. He inhaled, then exhaled slowly, squeezing the trigger like a mother hugs her son. It was the least he could do.

His aim was true at last.

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Various pieces by RD Armstrong (Raindog) have appeared in Spillway, Pearl, Unwound, Haight Ashbury Review, Drinking With Bukowski, Art/Life, Genre, The Lummox Journal, bender, Pitchfork, Poetry Motel, Chiron Review, Momentum Magazine and others. His poems are anthologized in “Das Ist Alles,” Pearl Editions 1995; “Last Call: A Legacy of Madness” (also editor), Vinegar Hill Press 1995; “Raising the Roof” (a fundraiser for Habitat For Humanity – Riverside, CA), 1998; “Maytag Heights” (a similar fundraiser for H4H – Long Beach, CA), Lummox Press 1999. He is the founder and editor of The Lummox Press, which publishes the Little Red Book (LRB) series (30+ titles and counting), the LRB Master series, The Lummox Journal (monthly small press/alternative “zine” digest now in it’s 6th year), and several specialty-type publications. He has published LRB for Linda Lerner, Gerald Locklin, Hugh Fox, Normal, Rick Smith, and many others. Smith’s “The Wren Notebook” (published by Lummox Press in 2000) has been nominated for a Pen Center West (poetry) Book of the Year Award and was called “the best [small press] book of poetry in the year 2000″ by Chiron reviewer, Tim Scannell. He has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Recent titles include: “Lost Highway” (Blues Poetry Anthology – 15 poets); “On/Off the Beaten Path” (a long road poem, the second); “Paper Heart Vol. 3″ (Love poems); “A Journey Up the Coast” (the first road poem); “Eyes Like Mingus” (A Jazz Poetry Anthology – 12 poets). All are published by Lummox Press.

1 Comment
  1. The neighbor from hell! What a story. It kept my interest to the last line.

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