The Sleeper Hold

We have a new technique now for when the storms come. He puts me in a sleeper hold, and then I fall asleep. I’m very happy about this technique because it really puts me to sleep and I don’t hear a single roll of thunder nor can I see a single flash of lightning. Simply closing your eyes doesn’t always keep the light out. Being sleeper-hold asleep is the best thing you can do. 

We’ve tried a lot of things. He bought me a weighted blanket. We hid down in the basement. I tried drinking lots of beer. I ate weed gummies. We tried putting on beautiful music or funny movies, we tried hypnosis, we tried just being normal about it and pretending the storm didn’t bother me at all. He would hold me really tight every time and tell me it was ok. That helped a little, but only a little. He tried reading to me my favorite fiction books, or books about birds, plants, and insects. Sometimes he would just give up on the books and start to make up his own story. He told me a story once about a boy who lived on a river with a stray dog he found. That boy collected flowers everyday and didn’t talk for 20 years. The reason for the second half of those 20 years was that his dog had died. Then the 20 years were over and the boy got into the river and started to sing a song. His voice was so clear and so pure from all the years of not talking and it attracted a big group of people from the town to the river. They saw the man singing in the water, floating on his back and had no idea who he was or where he came from. When the song ended the air was gone from his lungs and he sunk to the bottom of the river and the people didn’t save him because they knew it was right this way. The people were crying for the stranger and they looked to each other for an explanation. They walked home crying for the stranger and when they got in their front doors they pet their dogs. I cried for the boy but I felt like I had more of a right to cry than the townspeople because I felt I actually knew the boy. 

That was my favorite story Cole told me. 

He didn’t like it as much as me though because it’s sad and it worried him a little that his plan for a spontaneous joyful story (to cheer me up about the storm) turned into such a sad one. He started wondering what was going on with his subconscious. I told him it was perfectly natural to tell a sad story even when you’re not feeling sad. But he started to wonder if he really was sad. Then I had to hold him during the storm because he started to cry. This technique was probably the most effective of all the other ones I listed, plus all the other ones I didn’t list because they really were not even effective a little bit and a lot of them are even embarrassing and just too weird to mention at the beginning of a story such as this. I don’t really want to try this technique again though because it involves Cole crying and being sad, and I don’t want Cole to cry and be sad. 

Just like with anything else you try to change or make better, there has to be a time of trial and error. After all our failed attempts (as listed above) we were just about ready to give up and decide that there was nothing I could do about my fear of storms except have fear for them and wait for the storms to pass. This was bad news for me but I understood. Experiencing storms was just the price I had to pay for being alive on Earth. And I would have to pay that price until I died. 

“I’m going to try to pray” is what I said to Cole after we talked about all this. So I started praying. I prayed to God that there would be no more storms that pass over my head and if there had to be, if there absolutely had to be some storms that passed over my head, I asked him to help me to not be afraid of them anymore. That’s how we came up with the sleeper hold. 

Cole was flipping through the T.V. while I was praying and stopped at the movie, “Big Daddy” with Adam Sandler. I opened one of my eyes from praying to watch a little (I’m a very good multi-tasker and not so good at praying). It was the scene where Adam Sandler explains to Frankenstein how T.J. Strongbow used to use the sleeper hold and put his components to sleep in the ring. I stopped praying and paid very close attention. I know that it was just a movie and it was probably fake sleeping, but when I saw the delivery man asleep I knew it would work on me. So I turned to Cole and said, “Put me in a sleeper hold.”

We got up from the couch and he put his arm around my neck. Nothing happened for a little while and so I told him to try harder. He tried harder, and then, I was asleep. I had a handful of dreams one after the other and they made me feel like I was asleep for a very long time. I couldn’t remember anything about them except for a big field of red poppy flowers. When I woke up Cole was there and he was checking my pulse. 

“I’m alive,” I said. “do that to me again when the next storm comes.” 

He said, “There’s a storm coming tomorrow.” Then, “Sorry.” 

My heart started beating really fast. I missed the poppies.

The Rosary Salesman

You wrote all your short stories on the toilet in the afternoon. You kept the fan on but the light off, using instead the dim sun which entered through the mosaic tiled window above the shower.

The window did not open.

No one knew you were writing short stories on the toilet until another tenant walked in on you, wanting to wash her hands after slicing tomatoes from her garden. She was putting them on bread with mayonnaise. She needed to wash her hands because she hated to have tomato juice on them when she sat down to eat.

You startled her when she opened the door (for she was used to living alone her whole life) and her scream woke up a few of the napping tenants. She ran back to her tomatoes as she told you she was sorry down the hall, in the living room, in the dining room, in the kitchen, and then standing by her tomatoes. You shut the door when she got to the apology by the tomatoes.

The door did not have a lock.

You continued writing your story on the toilet.

On that particular day it was the story of a salesman who had boxes full of rosaries in his car. He kept his car running while he approached each house. You could hear the old French music from his radio while he kept his cigarette in his mouth and pitched about rosaries, holding a model one in his hands.

The salesman always knocked first, even when there was a doorbell.

The girl just sat down in the dining room to eat her tomato and mayonnaise sandwich. She was still apologizing. But she will not eat yet because she still has tomato juice on her hands and does not like to use the kitchen sink for personal hygiene. She was hungry and hadn’t eaten all day, but she was too embarrassed to ask you to hurry it up.

She waited, her stomach growled, and you finished your short story.

The salesman with the rosaries got in a car accident which somehow landed his body atop the boxes of rosaries in his backseat. The old French music continued to play as steam rose from his engine and the airbags seemed more like balloons in the celebration of his life coming to an end.

A cigarette remained lit in his mouth, the model rosary wrapped around his knuckles like someone had stuck it there with glue.

You flushed the toilet and washed your hands.

The other tenants had been waiting in their beds for the bathroom and didn’t like that you took so long. They arose when they heard the door open.

The girl’s sandwich turned soggy but she hated to waste food so she ate it anyway after washing her hands in the bathroom sink.

You could hear her apologizing in the bathroom as you walked out to her garden, picked a tomato and ate it like an apple.

The juices dripped down your fingers and draped red on your knuckles. You lit a cigarette.

here comes the collector

This morning

I sit by the blooming daffodils

in the green vase

while I eat my proper runny omelette, toast and

raspberry jam

while a candle flickers

while the wind shakes

all

the limbs

in the trees

while the people

drive by in their cars

while the mice sleep

warm and soundly in my walls

except the two who lie in plastic grocery bags

outside

in the trashcan.

I heard the collection truck

down the street

it’s inching its way

against the wind

while another daffodil opens

her flower.

Here comes the collector now

I hear him

here he comes.

An interview with Tom Stocker

img_4814

A few months ago I had the opportunity to interview Boston Painter, Tom Stocker for my little project well, well magazine. We talked about art, his work, his background, and the take over of iPhones. The interview is now ready for you to read! Click the link here: wellwellworld.wordpress.com and enjoy the read!

Sara

img_2221

9 MMs by Tom Stocker

 

 

July 6

I am in a bathing suit and I have goosebumps

somebody is whistling outside my window

my parents are arguing

downstairs

my sister’s wedding is coming up

in two weeks

and $400 for towels is ridiculous

they’re saying

over

and

over.

Somebody’s got to spend it.

C is mad at me

all the way from Boston

I’m getting the last glimmering light of the sun

while the dog starts barking at a man on a bicycle outside

riding around

and around.

He must be the one whistling.

He rides away

the dog falls asleep

my parents are $400 less rich

C says he’s sorry

and I take a hot shower.

Wires

One thing I liked about him is that he always made sure all the wires in his home were concealed. He hated to see wires anywhere.

I’d go into his home and see the T.V., the radio, the alarm clock, the toaster— but never a single wire. They didn’t exist in his home.

He even hated them in other peoples’ homes and tried to make them disappear there too. He did this and thought he was doing a good thing. And really he was doing a good thing; the rooms were suddenly brighter and people wanted to spend more time sitting in those rooms. Those people forgot that wires exist, and then outlets, and then T.V., radio, toasters and alarm clocks. They stopped knowing what time it was and were late for work until they eventually stopped going to work. They didn’t know about anything happening in the news or sports and heard no pop songs. They even stopped eating toast, forgot all about it, and couldn’t remember what the toaster was for.

Now in the bright rooms they eat soft bread with butter and think about what types of flowers they’d like to grow in the spring.

Last night

Last night

we watched the sun go down over the swans

drifting

on the water.

We watched

the black birds

flying together across that deep

blue sky

and then looked west,

further away

and watched them fly

through the orange.

The sun was gone

and

we got cold.

We biked to get some soup

and hot tea

then found ourselves arm

in arm

in the CVS trying to pick out chocolate.

It took us a very long time.

We ate chocolate and rode the escalators

to the trains

up and down at least

three times

and pretended we were late

for something, nervous we

would miss the train!

But we were in no rush

at all

we had nowhere to go

and really

we did not want to go home.

But soon the chocolate was gone

and they turned off the escalators.

 

 

-for C.