A Psycho’s Breakfast (2018) – Excerpt

Excerpt 1

If cooking is a culinary art, then the careful crafting of breakfast must be where the finest masters focus their skill.  Michelangelo makes the toast, Raphael the pancakes, whilst Donatello sculpts beautiful mounds of the fluffiest scrambled eggs imaginable.  I’m sure Da Vinci makes a bitchin’ bowl of milk-less cereal because he was a vegetarian.  Bellini (pick one, there were several) poured out the peach bellinis.  Hell, Willem Heda painted several still life masterpieces of actual fucking breakfast tables in the seventeenth century.  Look it up.  
This isn’t empty rhetoric; this is an important comparison I’m making.
Breakfast is, after all, the most important meal of the day. Every mother will tell you that. Even the bad mothers, of which I’ve known many. Thus, in my opinion, breakfast, in all its forms and degrees of complexity, is the highest figure of culinary art; much as the products of the Old Masters are to their respective mediums.
The plate is my canvas. The skillet, the spork, the seasonings are my brushes. My oil paints are canola, olive, but more often just plain vegetable because I’m cheap. I use them to manipulate the foods I bring from mere “ingredient” to an irreplaceable part of the landscape before you. My palette reflects superbly upon any palate, be it acquired or otherwise.
I very well may have perfected this art; honed my skills and innate talents over decades of practice (and blatant, cheeky copying here and there) but I can’t judge that notion of perfection by myself. It wouldn’t be fair to the syrupy goodness that dribbles from the mouths of those who partake. No, an outsider’s eyes and tongue are required to make such a subjective judgment.
There are critics everywhere but I have sought the one with a vision tuned to the scrutiny of the morning meal. This critic is an artist himself and I refuse to associate with other practitioners of the form. Apropos, I found him by looking where I least expected to find him – right in front of me – and, vis-à-vis, a story has come to life.
Having said all those flowery things and gained your attention, it’s best if I also tell you up front that I’ve learned it’s easy to feel grossly unappreciated as an artist when you’ve murdered your only critic.
Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality, as is art. Breakfast – with a light dash of bloody murder – is my art. Ergo, I am a psychopath; although most will argue there is a fine line between psychosis and psychopathy. Let me show you just how fine that line actually is.
Abandon hope all ye who enter my disturbing disjune.
Shall we dig in?


Somehow, for some reason, I still feel as though I spent almost my entire life non-reacting to my friend's death. It had been a long time – decades – before it all finally hit me. Why hadn’t the outward show of grief poured out of me like a lanced abscess before I was in the twilight of my pitiful life?
Oh yes, because I’m a psychopath. And a nihilist, I guess. What is the purpose of this animal species called homo-sapiens? Why are we cognitively evolved? Why did we develop the way we did just so we can die having breathed and slept and ate and farted our way to an unfulfilled finale? That line of thought is a taste of evil I haven’t yet spat out. Because I like the soured, oily flavor of it. The flavor of strong black coffee gone just past fresh; drank without the hope of brushing your teeth or having a mint for the next handful of hours. I like the way that nastiness creeps down my throat, coats my stomach, makes my stool smooth and my piss reek of rancid reminders.
Human life is utterly useless. I came to that conclusion as a nine year old boy and I’ve been struggling with the hypocrisy of continuing to live my existence for over two decades since.

Excerpt 2

Nights like those, and the days that followed, usually led me to hearing the voice of my mother in greater volumes down in the murky depths of my subconscious.  Sometimes it was soothing.  Other times it was critical, foreboding, or even outright negative.  I used to think of that voice in my head as a Siren.  Both as a literal siren – a wail in the distance to signal a warning – and in the sense that she would often be goading my unwary child mind towards some terrible, dark corner of life.
I always let her in; and I always let her affect me, even if her tocsins led me astray.
My mind has always been chaotic, bordering on the wilder, vaguely delusional side of imaginative. I’m by no means a creative genius but allow me a bit of indulgence for a moment. This parlay I had with my mother in the nadir of my mind always felt so vivid to me; so silver-tongued and raw and natural that I had difficulty separating it from reality.
I would find myself raging against a stormy sea, just a tiny boy in a tiny boat. But my tiny boat was festooned with the fakery of a much larger and grander ship. I suppose that represented my faux precociousness, or perhaps it was just childish make-believe. At the head of my little boat was a figurehead that looked and smelled just like I remember Coraline looking and smelling before her death.
Except she wasn’t just a figurehead. This wooden woman talked to me. She was the soothing voice that I wanted to hear. She was the one that guided me through the tumultuous seas, telling me that there was an uncertain safety in the distance that I needed to reach.
But that uncertainty gave me pause.
For every calming note my figurehead sang, there was a louder and more alluring rhythmic bass out in the sea which drew my attention. Try as I might to tear myself away from it, I still dipped my little oars into the water and turned myself and my mommy towards it, just to see what new gifts it wanted to offer us.
“Come this way, sweet child,” the Siren would whisper. She had such a power in her voice, something my real mother had which hadn’t quite carried over to the figurehead who guided me. It was the Siren I was drawn to. And every time she sang out to me she drew me closer, reeling me in like the easiest catch from the laziest school of fish in the most pathetic of waters.
Our chary ballet went on like this for ages. The closer I got to the Siren, the quieter and less forgiving my figurehead would get. Even as we crested the violent waves and sliced our way through the misty, verdant fogs behind them, the Siren won me over. She’d be there, past port, a giantess of proportions so wraithlike that she seemed not to end. She was made of clouds, made of hazes, made of the swirling sea and the creatures beneath it. Her eyes were stars in the night, a double sun in the day. The Siren, not quite a woman, but always tricking me that she was one whenever she spoke to me. A gash of red crossed what I assumed was her face, no matter when and where I saw her. That, with the eerie cadence that reminded me of my mother’s voice, had proven to me that this was Coraline – just as much as my figurehead was – except the Siren was her death spirit.
Everything she was made of was evil but her persuasion was too great to cast aside.
There was always a rocky shore beneath the Siren, shaded by wings made up of distant mountains on some days, or an aurora on others. The angelic façade appeared to convey a sanctum; a haven in her arms that would be dry and warm and safe for us.
“Come, child, let me save you. Ever further, you are mine,” was the usual incentive. The Siren’s words were always fluidly florid; ornate like broken baroque bastardizations; always calming and inviting, more saccharine and verbose than the figurehead’s; and yet they never revealed her nature. What did she want with me? She was the specter of my mother’s awful death, not some divine revelation.
My tiny boat would come to a shaky stop just a mile or so away from the Siren’s domain, a neutral zone my mother and I had silently agreed upon; and it was always there that the figurehead would speak up.
“Don’t go further, darling. She’s going to eat you up.”
“But she has land there. It’s been so long since I’ve felt something real beneath my feet,” I used to say back to her as I wrapped my arms around her neck and peered out into the Siren’s featureless form.
“She wants you to lose yourself amongst those rocks. She wants to break your little ship and leave you stranded in the water where her creatures can get you.”
Yes, mommy, of course she wanted to. But I often wanted to tell her that maybe, just maybe, being nibbled on by a horrific angler fish with my mother’s lipstick on its gloomy maw was more enticing and more exciting than sailing on an endless sea with no endgame in sight.
I wanted to tell her, but I never did. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my mother she was leading me astray with her attempts to lead me proper. I couldn’t tell her that the Siren and her obvious dangers were more exciting to me than the safety I knew I needed to head for. Flirting on the bladed edge of dark dangers was my desire. Courting death was my fantasy. Even as a child.
After Uncle Clint’s expiration, death became a more natural image in my head. And soon, months into my stay with the Winters, it had begun to leak into my nautical nightmares as well. My little boat raged through a storm, riding waves like a roller coaster. The oars were useless. My figurehead pulled us through, her gentle but empty salves doing nothing to lessen the tight whiteness of my knuckles as each rise against the walls of black seawater churned my stomach.
As the waters calmed and the ship came to a gentle bob in the middle of nothingness, something new invaded my dreamscape. A large ship, one massive old piece of perfect timber construction, ripped from the most quixotic medieval fantasy books I’d ever never read, loomed some hundred feet aft. I struggled to make out its flag as my boat floated away from the ship, pushed by its colossal wake. It was bright, bold gold, with a strike against it in white so pure and glistening that it seemed to be a portal away from all of the universe.
There were two figures leaning against the aft rail of that ship, the taller one a shapely looking woman with dark hair and a sad, hardened face. Strapped to her back was a grand sword made of sparkling crystal which seemed more a burden to her than a welcome guardian. Behind her was a younger girl with eyes long ancient by any aging standards I knew of. The littler of the two had pointed ears with deep sapphire jewels threaded through fabric ties that weaved into her long blonde hair.
Strange. I didn’t invite these people into my dreams!
I decided to show them who the master of this realm was by conjuring a weak ersatz of my dream’s Siren. She rose from the waters in flashy slow-motion, her figure crafted by curvaceous swirls of mist and sticky, carroty sea foam. The taller woman with the sword backed away, those stone-like eyes blasted with fear. The elf-girl merely smirked and mumbled something unintelligible to her companion.
As the aura dimmed, I used the same power to conjure my own childish restitution of what my mind had given these women: a thick, stubby sword made of wood – fashioned in the classic manner with a simple rectangular crossguard, spherical pommel, and a perfectly pyramidal tip – along with a crown made of the same glistening wood polished so smooth that it twinkled with golden light.
The women were unimpressed that I had just bedecked my all-powerful being with such radiant accoutrements. What a disappointment. I dug deeper into that crackling ball of exotic ember in my soul, pulled forth a second helping of the almighty dream-power it contained, and exploded a nebula of phosphorescent jubilee that spread for several nautical miles around us. The display was majestic – bright and bold and bodacious – and filled my dry and emptied mental gas tank with a fresh fill-up of hope. It felt good to make something happen and not have to kill someone in the process.
Something new began to gurgle and fizzle beneath the waves. The shockwave of my lightshow probably disturbed one of the creatures in the employ of the Siren. Something equally stressful but avoided with a calm and stern attitude. Or was it?
Nothing can stop me here, this is my world. I’d figure out who those women were eventually. I was a smart boy, full of pomp and precocity; the type who’d become a little too comfortable with the aberration of control. A boy who had inadvertently awoken something awful in the depths of his own mind, unlocking a millennia-old chamber of grief and despair he knew not a thing about.
So, naturally, I challenged the stirring echoes below us that I had budged into the gamble.
‘Twas a vicious vagary to test my vagility.
With a burst of orange light from my soul, a maelstrom came – not so much by my hand than the handy goings-on of the dreams I’d come to parallel rhythm with – and the storm consumed both of our ships.
Within a bubble of effervescent seawater and shrieks, a new mass formed on the other side of the medieval ship. It rose through the waters with such force that the waves it produced smashed our ships into an even greater spindly fury and the subsequent pocket of rising motion lifted both of our boats back to the surface among frothing, choking tides. When I managed to ground myself against the crashing waves and steady my own boat, the thing had dissipated my faux-Siren into a million slivers of waning auburn glow which sunk beneath the black waters and winked out as they coasted down to the seabed.
The mass manifested form as a large serpent, gray and steel colored with slashes of glittery, cosmic black against its body. Eyes like pools of chrome with blue slits looked down upon us all with what seemed to be painful memory. I didn’t conjure that thing, nor did I conjure the girls on the big ship beside me. How could that be?
The girl with the sword drew it and entered a combat stance that, to my young and naïve eyes, seemed like the coolest and hottest thing ever. But her companion rested a hand on her shoulder, pulling her further back down the ship – away from the snake monster.
A roar shook the world around us but it seemed more like a very deep, very traumatized whimper than a show of threat. The snake opened its slimy mouth and produced an array of fangs made of sharp, glistening glass. From the back of its throat spewed a liquid thicker than water, glossy and radiant like molten crystal that seemed cool enough to touch. It poured from its mouth, creating a curtain of the stuff that splashed down into the black waters where it immediately solidified, building a wall of reflection with each breath of spittle it spewed.
The smaller girl on the boat clasped her hands together and conjured a breeze that shattered the formation in the sea, the force of the winds cascading up the lithe body of the snake monster so brutally that it became a loud snap by the time it reached the head, like a rolling whiplash. As it fell back into the waters and caused yet another ferocious tide, I lost the majestic medieval beauties in the confusion and came back to the surface alone with just my mother at the bow of my tiny, pathetic boat. No one left to show off for. But they had shown off for me in return, a performance grander than anything I could’ve dreamt up.
My boat and I drifted there for some time, my brain wandering across fields of logic and illogic and fantasy and reality, trying to find something firm to grasp onto that would explain how something I didn’t conjure had invaded my dreams.

Excerpt 3

Nobody is innocent.  I know that’s a scratchy wool-woven kind of blanket statement but it’s true.  On the opposite end of that statement, nobody is truly evil either.  I believe this to be true based on my wild and varied experiences throughout this awful life I’ve lived.  
This isn’t a story about innocence and evil with no grayscale spectrum between them. This is a tale of colorful morality on a tenuous rubber band and the inability for people to truly change who they are within. We’re all animals; constructs of nature that cannot be controlled by a fateful purpose or destiny, and it is those base instincts that drive us throughout our lives. Whatever happens to us and to those around us is a branch of who we are within, nothing more.
That’s my worldview. Nihilism in the wrapper of Evil Pay It Forward. Do bad, have bad done unto you. Do good, have bad done unto you with an infrequent but flavorful fiery flake of red pepper somewhere in the mouthful of shitty boiled grain that life has force-fed you. So what if life is making foie gras of your experience on this planet? Just think of it as free corn!
I personally can’t seem to digest corn enough to change its size from spoon to sewer so the metaphor is slipping. You get the idea.
The little boy next to me was my attempt to pay it forward and at the very least make sure that my fatty liver would be of no use to anyone upon my inevitable expiration. He was going to reap the benefits of my moment of clarity and would, bearing any decency left in the world, reap the benefits of a life free of the mistaken path I took. He wouldn’t even have the opportunity to see this dark and lonely road, if I had anything to do with it.

After some time and some stretches of awkward silence broken only by near-inaudible noises like sighs and coughs and stomach grumbling and the occasional “fuck, I thought that’d be gentler” passing of gas, we ended up in the parking lot of the Groundbird Diner. I had no intention to walk back inside there but I knew the place was exactly where the kid’s new life could begin. It’d be the only glimpse of my path he’d ever get and before he’d even comprehend what horror it could possibly bring him, he’d be swept up by termless bounties of decorum and he’d never return. Ever.
That kind of confidence could only come from the ass-making assumption I was fueled by in those long hours since concocting my coup. Up to and through the moment I’d brought him to the diner, that ass was blowing exquisite whispers of success upon us both.
But of course, speaking had been and continued to be difficult. There wasn’t much I could say to him out of fear of poisoning him by mere innocuous conversation. And he, as a child sheltered by a woman desperate to have him and desperate to use him, had never learned to converse beyond whatever stark talk he and his faux mother shared.
So we just sat there in the parking lot for a long while. During this, the delicate psychological musings I share with you and no one else bounced around between the white and dusty planks of my inner skull. I’d look in his direction absently, not aware of him sitting there as my brain stirred through gas-passing ass-umptions floating within my mind’s nickelodeon images of dark and lonely paths. Ones made of blood-glazed cobblestones fenced by the bones and intestinal tracts of a million corpses dripping their unctuous tallow. He’d glance back up at me, trying to pierce my vacant eyes but finding no success. Then I’d blink, look away again, and continue my musings.
This went on for quite some time before I scrounged up the courage to get my plan moving. I suppose, if I was going to have a moment of seriousness with you as we get to the end of this journey, that I just wanted to stay with him a while longer. If not for his safety than perhaps to siphon some of the youthful potential he was radiating. I wanted that back, but alas…
That word again. Dawn had broken and the darkness turned to yellows and purples – colors of creation and havoc – and faded soon to the shades of blue daylight that broke my trance. Liberation. Let him go.
This kid is around the same age I was when I ended up here. Look where that got me. It’s time to take the path I should’ve taken that day. If I can’t walk it myself, then this kid has to.