Greetings Beatniks and/or Cowboys and/or those who cannot and/or refuse to be labeled,
For the first time since my graduation from university, I will be performing my words in front of an audience greater than 5 people. I will be opening fire upon a group of patrons in my hometown, at the Killingly Public Library in Killingly, CT on July 11th at 11 a.m. For those in the area, attendance and free and I will not be pimping out my latest printed books, but instead will be there for as much fun and entertainment one can obtain from sitting in a library at 11 in the morning on a Saturday. For those unable to visit in person, my reading will be visually recorded and posted online. More readings in and outside of New England to come…
“Endless Disturbance” by Randall K Rogers Copyright 2019.
It was a cool, dark night. No moon. I was sitting in my chair pondering life. As I often do. Staring into space, wondering. Wondering, what the hell? I heard a faint rapping coming from my balcony door. The second floor sliding glass balcony door!
No one could be there. They’d have to scale the outside brick. Climb over the railing. Yet there it was again! Surely I heard it. Whomever it was they were just outside! On my balcony! Right next to where I was sitting! “Good thing the vertical blinds are closed,” I thought. With the blinds closed I couldn’t see out. I presumed he, she, it, or they, couldn’t see in. Yet, there it was again! Someone was outside the sliding glass door! A mere two or three feet from where I sat! Someone, or something, intermittently, gently rapping. Insistent, it seemed they wanted me. That they were summoning me to the door!
I remained sitting in my chair. The TV was on. Maybe it was a branch, being blown by the wind. But there was no wind. A neighbor, perhaps, climbing over from the next apartment. Really? What the hell? A worker for the apartment complex? They had been having plumbing leakage problems in the unit above. But it was 7:10 in the evening. Unless there was an emergency all workers had gone home. And there was no emergency. Except someone or something oddly rapping at my balcony sliding glass door.
I wasn’t going to open it. I wasn’t even going to move except to eye the room for potential weapons. I hit the mute button the TV. My Taser, my small can of mace, and my dagger were in the other room. I eyed my metal sculpture. It’d be a good club. I got it at the Killing Fields in Cambodia. It’s a statue of two ancient Khmer warriors locked in battle. One warrior is climbing up upon the other with sword sticking out ready to strike. The other warrior is stabbing the man jumping upon him and has grabbed in his hand the lower man’s thrusting blade. It is a one piece, black metal, defined but worn – could be a fake antique. My motorcycle taxi kid took me out there late one day, to the Killing Fields. It’d be a good club.
The Killing Fields
I saw the pagoda. The glass encased mountain of skulls. The dug up earth ridges of the mass graves. I went in the tiny gift shop. No one was there. I and the young man motorbike driver were the only ones in the entire area. He stayed outside with the bike. It was beginning to get dark, around 5:30 pm.
At first I didn’t think anybody was working. A vacant shop. Fitting. I looked around. The shop didn’t seem to have much stuff. Like nothing. A rotating rack of postcards and that’s it. There were no kids around selling stuff. Nobody. It appeared there wasn’t a soul in the entire park area except the kid and me. It was getting dark. There were low hanging clouds. The wind was picking up. It was going to storm.
The place smelled musty. It was a medium-small round building; one largish high ceiling round room. “Must be Communist architecture,” I thought. The ceiling came together in the center of a conical roof. I noticed there were dusty glass cases with nothing in them. I already had a bunch of postcards, and besides, these looked like cheap, old ones. The all-attached fold-out accordion style set. With pictures from the 1950s. From the concrete floor to the small ancient looking dull-metal “clerk” desk the place looked a remnant of an older era. Yikes. The Khmer Rouge era. I wondered “Is everything dead here?”
Yet this was 2001. The war was over. UN peacekeepers had been gone since 1990. Prosperity was returning. Tourism on the rise. People went to see this tragic area commemorating the atrocities of the 1976-79 Khmer Rouge time in power. Just then a man came out from behind an open door. It appeared as if he was returning from a bathroom break.
We startled each other. Me more than him. He smiled at me as if it was the most natural thing in the world, for me to walk in. He was short, a little bent over; wispy gray beard, quite grizzled. I thought he must be an old ex-Khmer Rouge soldier, and he’d killed plenty. “He must be a cripple,” I thought, left behind. Assigned in perpetuity to live out here and care for the murder monument. Care for the skulls, the ghosts, and lone tourists like me.
But he was able-bodied. Old, yes, but he looked fairly normal. He gazed at me expectantly. I wasn’t sure he spoke English. He didn’t say anything, just looked at me, smiling. I looked around the room: “You got anything special that I can take back to my homeland?” Immediately he disappeared back the way he came. I got to thinking: “I bet he killed a lot. Massacred innocents. He looks so nice, torture was probably his game. Murdered plenty and this his penance. To be in a dusty gift-shop with no goods, at the Killing Fields massacre site, for infinity.”
He didn’t look like a killer. I looked out the door. Looked again for my driver. Yep, he was still out there. In no time, however, the man was back. In both hands he carried a statue. It was on a small pedestal. About a foot and a half high, six inches wide; made of black metal. Two figures, one climbing up on the other, both figures’ swords raised in mid-strike. Ancient Khmer-Thai-Burmese fighters decked out in samurai-like wood and padding protections locked in mid-fight. One seems to be a creature-human jumping up on the other. Both are stabbing each other.
The older gent held out the statue for me. “Oh,” I said, “nice.” I took it in my hands. It was black metal, aged-looking, and dust encrusted. I held it. It wasn’t that heavy; it was hollow in the middle. A mold or wire someone adhered molten iron to? Or however they did it. It could be a kid’s industrial arts project, for all I knew. “How much?” I asked my new friend.
“Twenty dollars,” he said. It looked good. Dirty, like a found heirloom should be. A centuries old tourist knock off. Some kid’s high school industrial arts project. “I’ll take it!” I exclaimed. From the Killing Field gift shop. The Twilight Zone Killing Field gift shop. Something substantial. Of considerable hardness and durability. Who knows when – in what era – and at what knockoff cottage industry manufacture it was made. I opted for in the reign of Jayavaraman II, of the great Angkor Empire. Forged in the rustic tumble of ancient metallurgy.
There was no bag. No sales slip. Nothing. He handed it to me and he wouldn’t take it back. I liked it. I handed him twenty US. I thanked him, and left. Outside the clouds were threatening. With the oncoming dark, we being the only people remaining in the mass grave park, or the glassed in mountain of gleaming, white, skulls, the place was eerie.
I climbed on the back of the motorbike. “Something special the guy found for me,” I told the driver, the kid.
We raced back to town. It was really getting dark, and it began to rain. The clouds were low. Raining and dark on the road it was like we were moving into a tunnel. A rain-driven lowering black cloud tunnel. I clutched my statue. We lowered our heads and barreled into the driving rain.
He dropped me off at my hotel. It was a quaint little French place at the edge of town Phnom Pehn. Run by a Frenchman, the place had a kitchen. They served French food and French wine. I checked in. On my way up to my room I met the proprietor the Frenchman. I showed him my book. It was “Nausea” by Jean Paul Sartre. He looked at the battered cover. “Not his best,” he said.
I never read the book.
When I first heard the the tapping my gaze instinctively went to the the statue. The object ‘d art before me. For I’d placed my find, my treasure, directly in front of where I sat. My throne, so to speak. I’d carried the thing all the way back to my home. I gave it a favored location in my home. Who knows how much action it had seen.
There was no stamp. No sign whatsoever of whom had manufactured it. It was sturdy that’s for sure. A perfect metal club. And maybe it was really special. I mean maybe the old shop-fellow, the murderer, was being honest! There was nothing to sell in that shop. Was the man even real? The building looked shabby; like no one had been in there since the 1950s. Or, I thought, since the late seventies – when the Killing Field killings were taking place right there! As they said, in Cambodia, every house is haunted.
Maybe my statue was very old. Maybe it was a real treasure. Maybe it had seen more death and happiness, among its multiple curators, than hundreds of years of history. Possibly it was made to come to me in some type of magical fantasy connection. I almost convinced myself.
The rapping continued. Just next to me. On the other side of the sliding glass door. Was what?! He, she, it, could not see me. Nor I them. Long white vertically hung seven inch wide drape strips separated us. Stylish. But maybe they can see me! Maybe they can see through the drapes! I got to thinking. He, she, it, they must know I’m in here. The TV, the lamp. I sat still. The rapping, the tapping, the knocking, became more insistent. As if they know I’m sitting mere feet away!
Go away. Who are you?! What do you want?! I wanted to yell these things. But then I’d prove I’m really close. That I’m only sitting on the other side of the drapery strips. If whomever has a gun, fire. I’m just on the other side of the pane.
But I’m not going to say anything. Not going to reveal my position. I wonder, can they see through? Probably hit me with a brick thrown through the glass. What the heck are they doing out there anyhow? And how did they get up on the second floor balcony?! And why the tapping, the insidious soft rapping?! Who wants what?!! Leave me alone!
I wished I had a gun. Just blast’em. Home defense. No friend of mine would do this. No person in their right mind would. I should be afraid. Whomever is out there is either crazy or has ill intent. Not a branch; an animal? An injured bird? Condor? Robin? Pterodactyl? Screw it! A flippin’ nutcase startin’ to bother me!
I started thinking supernatural. Lordy, could the Leprechaun be out there? Little Satanic dude? One of those gargoyles from that movie of the same name from the 1970s? Some Cretan from down the block?!
Maybe it’s a lady. Highly doubtful. I leaned forward. I rose from my chair. I grabbed the statue. I opened the door. No one was out there. I put my head outside. Nothing.
What could I have been thinking? Of course I’d heard it. I shut the door. I put the statue down. I acted as if I was returning to my seat but quickly sprang to again snatch the statue. I fast opened the door and saw him clambering over the railing. A small being; I barely got a glimpse of it.
I say it. It could have been anything. I did get a glimpse of it, however, and you’re not going to believe this but…. well, let me just say, those workers that put up the Christmas lights freak me out.
Hello again dudes and dudettes,
We would like to inform all of our loyal patrons or passers by that Horror Sleaze Trash has recently released 2 e-books just in time for the holidays, River House Blues by Mendes Biondo and Blowfly by Thumper Devotchka. We encourage all to sit back under a warm blanket, decline all incoming phone calls, text messages, and all social media and get wasted on these words.
P.S. To all of our fans, the “Best of The Beatnik Cowboy Volume #3” will be shipping out soon, and will hopefully arrive to all in time for the holidays. Any one who would like to subscribe to us and receive a copy of the best of the best words we’ve seen in the last year (not featured online and exclusively available on the corpses of dead trees) may contact the Good Doctor Randall Rogers, or myself.
P.P.S. Keep submitting!
The Illiterate Poet,
Hello Chaps and Chaplets,
Old age got you down? Don’t worry, you’ll be dead soon. Scared? You should be. Yet, legend has it, scrupulous reading and submitting to the Beatnik Cowboy bypasses melancholy. Joy is radiant in any reader of this eclectic beatnik rag. Get one in your hands. Feast your eyeballs. Climb aboard the beatnik beanstalk of amplitude, and grow. Do not, however, grow in the sense of microbiological decay, or gangrene. Grow in the sense of not turning the other cheek whenever parasitism is concerned. However, truthfully, is there any sense of being in or on earth that is not parasitical?
I say to you. Nothing. Everything is nothing unless it’s you. But that is not the point of this missive. The goal of this piece is to bring out your life. The life of you. And exorcise it. The cost of this exorcism is not prohibitive. When you consider the cost of a hell-bound monkey on your back. You do know the cost of not paying your exorcist do you not? This non-payment is not to be countenanced.
Why get rid of you? You’re not serious with this question are you? Look at yourself. Take a good look. What do you think? Serious? That’s what I thought. Now let me tell you. Because you’re right you’re wrong. Don’t believe it? Think about it. It’s called trans-valuing values. Nietzsche did it. Then he went for the horse.
Now, quite simply, why not? It’s a lot like wondering. Wondering, what the hell? That don’t fit no category! Where to put it!? Kill it! Shunt it to the side. Discount, minimize. Because it’s just too damn powerful! And good!
No, no, I’m worthy! And proud! To be a poet! In limbo! Transitioning to a wordsmith extraordinaire! Crafting golden phrases among the gilt-hallowed pages of that every posting, every hard copy, swilled glorious nugget of a publication; the trend setting, style maven dowager of best taste, the redoubtable Beatnik Cowboy!
Beatnik Cowboy November Guest Opinion Host
The Butt Crack Kid
P.S. send in poems.