Rehab pt 2: Cheater – Jasper Kerkau

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      It is an arduous task keeping him on topic. He has a way of veering away from questions, steering back to his days selling black molly’s and eventually methamphetamines. There is also the distracting way he repeats himself. Eventually, we have worked up a signal. I will tap him on the arm when he begins to tell the same story over again. It was thought this peculiar habit was a by-product of what is referred to as the alcoholic wet brain. While thought to be irreversible in a lot of situations, Dave seems to be slowly making his way back to normalcy, whatever that is for Dave.
      “Now look, you have to keep your eyes peeled, if you know what I mean.”
      “Peeled on what?” We lite cigarettes and sit in chairs for most of the day, watching people come and go, patients and staff hurry back and forth while we sit and talk, smoke, and gossip about everyone.
      “That fucking kid. You know the one.” He has a serious tone. He leans back in the patio chair, as it lazily rains, “you need to find a cheater.”
      “A cheater?” I sit up slightly, preparing for the unexpected humor.
      “Well, you saw what happened. That fucking kid charged out of the group and right at the male nurse. Mind you he is, or was, a male nurse before he got ate up with the Demerol, he don’t come across like a punk.”
      “Yes, I think he pulled his punch at the last minute.”
      “I spent time in a federal prison behind a raid on my junk yard in 1983. Only thing those punks could get on me was a bullet…” I tap him on the arm. He gets my signal, readjusts and smiles. “The point is I may be old, but I ain’t no fucking punk.”
      I sense his general fear and decide to needle him a little bit. “That fucking kid, you don’t know what he is going to do. You can reason with a sane man,” I say stamping out another unnecessary cigarette. “You can’t reason or anticipate crazy. That kid is nuts.”
      “You know his momma is a good-looking gal. She was a Cowboys cheerleader years ago. She still has a figure. Probably married well. She has dumped him here to warehouse him while she gets passed around.”
      “Passed around?” He doesn’t hear me or doesn’t respond.
      We watch the rain that hasn’t stopped since I arrived. It has rained every day for three weeks. My vomiting withdraws eventually gave way to routine and sitting and waiting. The absence of television has left Dave as my sole source of entertainment. We have gone through every possible story imaginable. Kevin’s unprovoked attack on the “male nurse” has provided a break from the same ole same ole, as Dave fidgets and plots his defense.
      “You mentioned a cheater?” I break the silence again.
      He leans in and his eyes dart back one way and the other. “I have been looking around my room for a piece of metal that I can sharpen. I am not telling you your business, but I would find something. I am no punk, but I am not going down without a fight.”
      “You think I need one?”
      “You can’t fight crazy, like you said. That fucking kid is not only a dandy but he is bat shit crazy. You can see it in his eyes.” I snicker to myself as we go back to watching the back and forth. Patients carrying notebooks with their 4th step work, standing at the office door waiting to ask a counselor about a weekend pass or wanting to get new toothpaste. I see Dave’s neck twist as he peeks to watch someone approaching. He gives me a kick as a signal. I turn and see Kevin, with his tall and lanky frame. He moves very quickly, wearing sunglasses, as he does at all times obscuring a clear view of his eyes. There is a surprising quickness to his gait. He is on a mission, heading directly toward Dave, who seems to pull back and grasp the chair in anticipation for anything.
    “Hey Dave. Can I have a cigarette?” He stands motionless over us. I watch Dave’s expression, looking for any indication that in his defensive posture he is moving toward a hidden weapon.
      “Sure buddy,” says Dave pulling out his cigarettes slowly. “Why don’t you take a few of them.” We both stare at him as he pulls four cigarettes out of Dave’s pack. I watch Dave’s eyes as he follows Kevin as he darts away disappearing between buildings and an area that is restricted.
      “You need a fucking cheater.” He leans over and pulls up his pantleg displaying a piece of wood that has been broken and fashioned into a weapon. “It is just a matter of time.” I feigned a cough to hide a laugh that was trying to burst out of me. I didn’t have a clue that I would soon be wishing I had a “cheater” to protect myself against Kevin’s madness.

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Malaise – Jasper Kerkau

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Depression

I spent weeks and months hiding in a little room, waiting for appropriate hours to fall back to sleep, waiting for work, working through jokes and long hours of meaningless labor. My body aches and I tire. I watch the clock and rush out the door, retiring again to hid, to bury myself, to wait for life to happen again. “You need to get your mojo back,” someone tells me. I blink and listen, realizing that I don’t know what that looks like or how I will ever get back.

Memory is fickle. I can’t remember normal, a time before. It seems like it was always about ignoring, burying myself, ghosting everything as I struggle to dig meaning out of the soil, find a magic core that will bring me salvation. I tell one of my bosses that I suffer from malaise. “Your energy is charged to loss and failure.” He stands with his arm crossed talking in a calm tone. “You have to become aware to become aware. Magic is something we can’t see until we open our eyes.” I nod and squint, wondering what he is talking about, realizing that he is either touched by the hand of God or as lost as I am.


One day I will wake up. The losses will eventually give way to small victories, a reversal of a karmic whirlwind that puts me on the downside every time. I stand at the counter of a corner store seething over the foppish lady in front of me making a singular, simplistic transaction as difficult as possible. Her stupidity and selfishness drive me to a slow burn. Immediately, my grand plans for the day are displaced. I am going to have to go back to my little room and dig some more. I am going to have to “become aware,” though I cannot in good conscience say what I am becoming “aware” of besides the fact that each day I am pushing further along the path. Eventually I will get so far along, none of it will matter anymore. I will have squandered my life pondering, hiding, gasping for pure air and a gentle breeze that makes it all worthwhile again.

[Jasper Kerkau is co-founder, writer, and editor for Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Publishing. He speaks several dialects of gibberish and has the forth largest collection of The Love Boat memorabilia in North America.]

god in the rumble – Jasper Kerkau

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[photo Helena Blavatsky]

There is a god in the rumble, a shriek and laugh in the rain; the storm comes in waves. I hear it when the world sleeps, smoking cigarettes and smashing butts on cool concrete, watching dim lights upon the horizon. I need a reminder that the world is vast, a universe is just beyond my reach, piled into a box of misunderstandings, errant thoughts scribbled on computer paper and folded into airplanes that nosedive after launch. “I am doing this all wrong; everything is wrong.”

I have to learn to listen to another song, something besides the babble in my head, the lurid squeal and howl of misshapen ideas blowing through my strange sphere. “This is all really nothing,” a voice speaks to me, wakes me from a dream. “You can walk whenever you like.” I listen to the static of broken conversations; no remedies in chaos, only me, me, and more me. Baffled and ruffled. A great quest not far out of reach.

I leaned into her, placed her hand in mine. We sat silently watching the sun break the plane of dreams plunging the world into light. The past was the past was the past, but it was always too late for me. I touched my lips to hers but was already dead, a ghost of another time, the ache and fold of reality, shook out of rug, kids running through the living room chasing one another forever. It can be something. Everything can be more than what it is. I can do this if I will just learn to listen more.

[Jasper Kerkau is co-founder, writer, and editor for Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Publishing. He like to write tortured sentences and make like of bad situations.]

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Chinese: Conversations pt 3 Jasper Kerkau

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I read an article about automation. It is a doomsday scenario about the possible displacement of vast sectors of the population due to usage of robotics in the private sector. I listen to her droning on; I nod and half listen. It occurs to me then that it is obvious that there is a possible upside to the certain wave of employment displacement that is on the horizon. There is a bright side as it becomes possible for some to reevaluate their purpose, casting off labels assigned to them based on their vocation. Find new ways to spend their time, validate their existence through creation, rather than groveling for a wage performing a task that is both unfulfilling and soul crushing.

“Are you even listening to me?” She puts down the to-go menu.

“Yes, of course.” I stare at her hoping my eyes don’t give me up.

“What was I saying?”

“You were talking about your feelings and saying this, that, and the other.”

“Oh my God, I don’t know why we are even doing this. I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea. Perhaps I was kidding myself. Perhaps I was just bored. Or perhaps I bought the plane ticket five months ago to spend my birthday with you, and I thought there might be some fragment of who you were left. There is nothing.”

“General Tso chicken is very good. Though they do have delightful orange chicken.” Picking back up the menu. “I understand. Time is short, let’s have a good weekend.”

“What are you going to do?”

“About what?” I try to lite a cigarette backwards; she pulls it out of mouth and throws it on the coffee table.

“Jasper, your life is a mess. This is like a scene from a horror movie. I am here for only a short period of time; you have to live in this. You need help.”

“Do you know anything about automation?”

“Fuck, you are impossible.” She stands up and goes into the kitchen. “The vodka we bought last time is still here, that was five months ago.”

“I never liked drinking. It is the hangovers that I can’t live with.”

“Pills are better? Eating pills every night and stumbling around this house until you pass out is better?”

She comes back in and stands over me as I have stretched out on the couch, hoping she doesn’t notice that I had taken something to take the edge off. “The fun times have been gone a long time. This can’t be fun. You don’t have fun anymore do you?”

“No, this isn’t fun. It is a nightmare. Every once in a while, I wake up, and I am in another nightmare. A dream within a dream.” I almost have a moment of clarity. “Yes, I get it. This is all very bad. This is stomach churning bad, and if I started now it would take me years to dig out of this hole.”

“There is almost nothing left.” Her tone is sad.

“Yes, everything is gone. The rest will go. Eventually it will just be me and the awareness of what I have lost.”

“I hope you have orange juice to mix with this. I need a drink”

“Okay, I am a monster, but we should really think about getting some Chinese.”

[Jasper Kerkau is co-founder, writer, and editor for Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Publishing. He likes to write about dreams, and the way people act under duress.]

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Dream Jasper Kerkau

There is a story there waiting to be picked out, among cigarette butts and gravel, underfoot, after the rain. The moon bodes well to such feelings, spread out and pieced together after the fact. “I don’t remember things that way.” The hush and hurry of things, the relentless wars we wage, the conversation that we never had; it was like I was never here.

Tomorrow the hours will align, the glass will shatter and be swept up again. “If I can only hold my tongue.” There is nothing but relentless now, oft forgotten days that are never as good as they are bad. Perhaps tomorrow I will dream. Perhaps the water will run clear, and I will find it all over again. I smell the fragrance of her, the scent of inevitability. There is a story here somewhere.

Jasper Kerkau is co-founder of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Publishing. He likes to write about dumb luck and the hours between hours.

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Coffee Time: Conversations part 2 Jasper Kerkau

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“By the time we got there it was over—everything was ruined, do you remember that?” I do and I don’t. It is kind of a blur. I shuffle a bit, adjust my shoelace under the table, readjust and look at the menu.

“Yes, of course. We got there and it was ruined,” staring down at my phone.

“Oh my God, you don’t remember.” I sense the growing aggravation. I am straining to piece it together. What was it, and why was it ruined by the time we got there? Perhaps I should have paid closer attention.

The idea of sitting and drinking coffee doesn’t appeal to me, seems like a waste of money. It is one of obligatory things normal people do. This feels like an interrogation. I watch clean faced couples shake off the cold and laugh as they make their way to the counter to make their orders. I wonder if their lives are as simple and happy as they seem. They seem untouched by the darkness that hovers over me.

“Did I tell you about what happened to me yesterday? The story about the dog?”

“Please don’t patronize me,” grabbing my phone and putting it on the table. “You haven’t paid attention to a word that I said.” Her light frustration is turning into something more. I can feel the throbbing anger from across the table.

“You have my undivided attention. It was a bad night. I forgot the tickets. We had to go back, and, of course, by the time…” She stops me mid-sentence.

“For the record, you are insufferable. You are making shit up as you go along.”

“I am joking.”

“You passed out in the bathroom getting ready for my fucking birthday party.” She reaches over and grabs my hand and looks in my eyes. “I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“I made mistakes,” nursing my coffee, staring at people filter in and out.
“You ruined everything. You destroyed me—us. Does anything really matter to you?” I feign a bite of a pastry she insists we get. I do it because it seems like the kind of thing I am supposed to do. I am going through the motions.

“I just don’t remember any of it. I don’t remember funny and happy either. It was so long ago.” My eyes move downward, away from her watchful gaze. A sick feeling swirls in my stomach. “Hey, let’s forget all of that tonight. We are together, and the world is wonderful.”

She turns away and dabs the corner of her eye. I can see the toll all of this is having on her. “It is late, and I am tired.”

“I can be better. I really can.”

Jasper Kerkau is co-founder, managing editor, and writer for Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Publishing.

Sudden Denouement Seeking Submissions for New Writers

Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

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Sudden Denouement started a little over three years ago with a vision of creating a platform for divergent voices. We have grown tremendously and have been gifted with amazing talent from around the world. We are now soliciting submissions for new writers. If you are interested, please send a sample of your work, along with a short bio. We are interested in those who write poetry, short fiction, or any form that lends itself to the format.

If interested please send submissions to:

suddendenouement@gmail.com

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