I hit him several times, all too lightly for his satisfaction. He continued degrading and insulting while still slapping each side of my face. I guess I finally hit him hard enough to satisfy him. Each time I touched his face with my fist I felt his flesh and his coarse beard and wished for the strength to break him. When he was finally satisfied, he did not hit me back. Instead, he let out this loud roaring laugh and more or less patted my back and said that I had made a start at becoming his little bad-ass.
I had fucked-up thoughts of being stolen from familiar things a lot when I was young, I wanted it to happen. I would see dirty men with ratty hair and beards who smelled awful, like body odor. And women, just as shady. The sick women would steal my innocence and the men would tie me up, cut me, and beat me with blunt objects. All of these fantasies took place in the desert at night. Somehow I would break free and kill them all violently. Be my own hero and my life would change. It never happened and my life remained my life.
On a daily basis, my brother and I would entertain ourselves by having no-holds-barred fights lasting for up to three hours. I would start them by throwing things at his face and laughing, taunting him with insults to his young masculinity. Then I would run from him, anticipating the punish-ment sure to come. It seemed to help us survive the extremely unpredictable night to follow.
      I was probably thirteen years old and my brother fifteen when we had our greatest fight. At this point we could really cause damage to each other. After school fight as usual and typical things to initiate it. I remember being in our house and he would not let me go to the bathroom in peace. He barged in while I was taking a leak, so I turned and pissed all over him. Then I felt his knuckles smash into my cheekbone, throwing my body against the wall unconscious. When I woke, we fought like never before. This time we hated each other, each of us let out all of the animosity instilled in us by our father for the other. It was bloody. It was black and blue and it was everywhere, indoors outdoors, in the street, in momís room and in the neighborís yard. My trophy was two large black and blue knots bulging from my cheek under my blackened eye. His trophy was a broken nose. I enjoyed hitting his nose. It bled so well.
      We stopped fighting shortly after that great battle. I outweighed him by a likely 60 pounds and my punches seemed to damage him. I wasnít into damaging him. I wanted to be the damaged one. Extreme pain was a comfort given in our fights. I was convinced that I could not survive without pain. I would fight back to insure further punishment. Perhaps I thought if I could handle the pain of being beaten physically to the point of exhaustion, I could survive all other pain in my life. A life in which Iíd become dependent on pain: physical and emotional.
      After we stopped fighting, I found myself wanting pain. Wanting the day after. The day after was a consolation prize of sorts. Kind of like making dough for cookies and knowing that later on you get to eat them. That is what a bruise was like for me. Pain at my leisure. A purple button I could push to refresh the sensation of pain.
I hate it when it comes over when it is not invited: a headache, for example. No matter how it shows itself, burning, sharp or dull, and even over-bearing. It makes me feel powerless, no control of pain. Iíve never heard anyone say how they wanted a headache: ďYou know, I wish I had a headache right now.Ē
Pain. The ultimate feeling of awareness. Be it me tearing or another tearing at me. The result is the same. I can feel the endorphins attack my brain, as I feel the blood move through me to the wound. Itís as primitive as this; simply becoming instantly more alive than I was a second ago.
      As for my need for pain, I created all new ways to do it myself: I would crash my bike on purpose. If that didnít hurt enough, I would pick up large rocks and smash on a limb repeatedly, hoping to break it. That never happened but I had developed a sick thing with rocks and my bones from then on. Sometimes I would slowly drag a knife across the insides of my fingers with great pressure so that I could feel the steel split my flesh and get off on it. And then there were simple things like grinding my fists on brick walls until I left blood stains, or taking sticks and beating my legs with them until they became numb and bruised. Ultimately I found tattooing myself to be the best. It was great pain and so permanent.
      Bruising to me is the most practical form of pain. Generally not life threatening and there at my disposal: boring. Burning is interesting: an all out assault on the nerves, pulsing and throbbing a very intense pain.       It also lingers very well, better than a bruise for sure. If I disturb it the next day, the pain lasts an undetermined amount of time. Cutting is terrifying. I donít consider how deep I will go or what kind of blood vessel I may strike. Potentially life-threatening. The best rush.
To place myself into a situation or circumstance, just to see how it makes me feel or to see if I have the ability to survive it, is sport. To be unwillingly subjected to something or be in the situation without choice is necessity.
The mountains opened up in a whisper. I could hardly hear the city breathe. Me alone, stitching my soul fragments back together. I placed it before me, something soft for my tired and tender feet to walk on. I met God that evening as I walked through the stars, chasing the brightest one. He had my dogís eyes. He said he was fishing and I was the bait. I asked why he was fishing. His breath swirled around me and he let me in on it: ďFor me, this is fun and soothing. For you itís a test. Chase the bright one and youíll find yourself. Touch every star along the way. Brighten them and they will brighten you. See beyond the flesh, for the glow of the soul will never burn out. The skin of every star you see is a vibrant light with a dimmer switch only going in one direction. Go to your mother my son and you will find peace in the pines of her arms and the rivers of her sweat. See eye to eye with her. Observe the interactions with your siblings. Create wonderful things with your thoughts, breed strange purity and share it with them when they ask. All of you are learning as you go. Dream on my son, remember this: as one light slowly fades, another shines brighter. And take that goddamn gun from your mouth.Ē
Have you ever been a sheep, just meandering around, grazing or smoking a cigarette, when all of a sudden you kill a wolf? You killed a wolf, yes sheep, you did. The question: for sport or necessity? You skin this dead wolf so that you can wear its skin. You then drape the hollow flesh over your woolen body. How convenient that itís exactly your size. Now you can hang out with the wolves. While you are with the wolves, one of them pulls another aside. They begin to talk about you. ďThat one, he smells funny.Ē ďI know, did you notice how he smells dead also?Ē Well, they figure out you are a sheep and decide one of two things: either pretend they donít notice or call you on not really being a wolf and attack you. You know the results in both cases. What about the time you were a wolf? Were you cruel and relentless? Did you forget about being a sheep? Maybe you were compassionate and understanding, with your costume hiding in a closet. Sport or necessity?
I baited him. I made him think I was injured and vulnerable. I bled myself, made my wool smell of blood and weakness. He was my brother and I was supposed to be the bad-ass. The predictable animal was hungry and went for the seemingly easy kill. He fell into the covered pit, breaking his legs. He howled loudly until the rock I kicked down at him crushed the bridge of his nose. His skin, dead but undamaged, was mine for the taking.
Do you see the hypocrite over there? I donít. Iím blind. All I can see are eyes. I can smell her though. Smells like you. Let me look in your eyes. Does it smell like me? Ooh, now weíre caught in the moment and hypocrisy has made its home in the moment. It comes to me as the foul odor of dogís breath wakes me from an afternoon nap. A waking thought from the dream of a perfect world: I would have surely not, put the gun barrel in my mouth, why did I tell him to? At the moment I wanted to taste the steel. I wanted to feel the grooves inside the barrel with my tongue. The moment is not my home, and I know who lives there. All I see are his eyes. They look like yours, they look like mine. With a presence solidified by wisdom, Godís eyes. They speak to me: ďYour parents are different states, wolf and sheep. Now take the gun from your mouth. Replace it with this angel feather and smell the greatness, the petals of the passion flower it is made of. She wanted you to have this fallen feather. For she has seen herself, beautiful. And has taken flight again. Time for you to find a different candy. There will be times you will happen upon a familiar scent in a gusty breeze. Stick your tongue out to catch the feather. Hold on to that smile, Joy will stand with you.Ē Do I pay my dog for that?

Looking into my fatherís eyes I can see very deeply. In the shadows of anger I see sorrow and remorse. Under the scowling eyebrows I see confusion, I see his father and I see anger. Rarely do I see content and peace in his eyes. I see a man in them. A jaded man that would like to know peace for an extensive period of time.

Terribly familiar things. The same scowling eyebrows as my father. I see a discouraged soul that wants badly to be accepted by the man with similar eyes. I see the potential and the desire to be the beautiful person more often. This is shaded by a lack of know-how, confusion, and distaste for the hand dealt to him. I see a man who would be destroyed if his sharp eyes reflected the same jade as his fatherís.
Your eyes are wonderful things to me. I can look deeply into them and see you. The you that does not wear make-up. The you that does not wear clothing. I love them. Once I see them I rarely see the physical you, I see the beauty. I see more of you than you may knowónot secrets you keep, but your character; how you treat people, yourself, your pets, the world. No, not a psychic. I donít know things, just general assessment, which makes some eyes hard to look into. I canít look into eyes that are like my fatherís; sharp, angry, jaded. With the exception of my brotherís, I wonít look long if I see my fatherís eyes. Most of the time the bodies containing them canít handle it. Nor can I. They react as if violated. This is a situation I avoid. There is still a hurt little boy inside of me that would love the opportunity to tear apart the monster that tormented him. If I see it in anotherís eyes, I begin to fear for their life. I see a part of me that I have gone through great suffering to not have to know. They are not my monster. Although they may look like it. What I have is not for them or anyone else.
To think that he doesnít care has crossed my mind. Whether he does or doesnít, as a fact, does not concern me. I cannot even conceive of myself accepting that man as a whole has more control over my life than I do. I would rather have blind and misled faith that a higher power is somehow helping me become the best person possible. In the end, I could be wrong and all along it was me. Regardless, I will be continually uplifted and shall not simply be at the mercy of man.
Ahh. This pillow is soft and it contours well to form as I hold it. It is cold. I canít feel blood pulsing though it, much less kiss it. I canít smell the angel, sweet as candy. I canít smell her underarms or the sweetness of her breath, so warm. The flesh I feel is my own.

The realization came to me in epiphany form. My life, clicking and flashing in my mind like a slide show. Ugly beginning to awareness of present. Standing inside a gutted warehouse, I saw myself naked in my work clothes, the latest fashion of my woven skin. I remembered the kind man behind the oval glasses who had seen right through my work-clothes. The wolves already knew the skin wasnít mine. I just didnít understand their reasons for attacking me, until now. Until now, the clicking and flashing slide show was only a memory. Now there were new slides; the kind man behind the oval glasses, myself naked in my work-clothes, my brother, a blank one, another blank one. The skin from the wolf has become heavy. It was never comfortable, never mine. Now, Iíd seen myself. Not wearing the skin. Now a sheep, fresh and clean.
To render myself helpless or worthless is now the worst thing I can do to myself. Akin to pain, helplessness is symbolic of being alive: not knowing what will happen within your next breath. Seeing no out, you have to be alive in the instant and aware, fully, of everything. I am awake now, and aware without pain. I donít want to hurt people or myself. I want life to be pleasurable. With time, I feel I will be able to understand my beauty and accept my humanity, wolf or sheep. At present, it is easier to accept these things in others. Losing sight of tomorrow as a pleasant day would surely let me know that I am drifting back to sleep. To realize my self doubt and not find a reason to believe in who I am would be fading. To look at another human being without compassion and understanding of human natureóto be callous to thatówould be pulling the blanket up and snuggling in comfortably back to sleep.
There are people in my life that have granted me respect and allowed me to be the person I love to be: the sweet, soft and loving, compassionate me. They are unconditional and beautiful souls. I dream as I observe all of you, being terribly human, so terribly beautiful. I dream we are equal and beautiful. Maybe some dreams come true.