In the basement of my mind, where shadows dwell, where memories float like dust in the bending summer light. The damp scent of yesterday is stained in these books. I stare at them, eyes tired, no reason for reading, no need for thinking... just hapless heaps of fantasy discarded across my floor.

I have forgotten myself, my sense of worth, my dignity and reason. I am paralyzed beyond words, lost in a tin can crushed at my feet, an ashtray due for a fire. Perhaps it will take me, spontaneous combustion, engulfed in despair.

Clink. Clink. Another cube of ice. Yes. The amber in this glass knows my downward smile, the sandpaper rough of my jaw, the wrinkles and secrets of my past. It helps me forget, especially at five o'clock. "You're a loser son. A good for nothin punk." Why didn't you just hit me instead old man? Oh, right... you did... many times... with a belt... with steel-toe boots and a holy bible. Clink. Clink.

I was only eight, yet this rite of passage is complete, the old man and his five o'clock shadows... all mine now. Indeed, a good beating to minimize my manhood. Later were insults, the splitting headaches and abuse for mother. Did I mention I was only eight?

A tear seeps from the soul. I have no children. Only the memories...