Author’s Note: Dante branches out


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I’m sure by now all my readers have likely forgotten about Dante. But I have not. In fact she’s been ever more present in my mind and writing. Although her story comes randomly in bits and pieces. Mostly inspired by prompts in workshops. Follow the link below to find one such Dante inspired story. Thanks to the New York Writers Coalition for the giving Dante the opportunity to branch out. While you’re on the website I do suggest checking out their workshops yourself. They are really the best.

The prompt that inspired this story was to write a conclusion. However, I’m not sure if this is really a conclusion as a new beginning for Dante.

Dante’s Inferno


Can’t Get Away


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Miguel’s party was a Wednesday night. I returned to The Bar the following Saturday, my usual routine, and was surprised to see him there. He was seated in the corner farthest from the door with Danny and few other regulars I knew. I decided to keep my distance, choosing an empty spot on the opposite side of the bar. Danny watched me as I sat down with a questioning look on his face. I ignored him focusing my attention on the bartender, Karen, slowly making her way toward me. I ordered my drink and when Karen returned with it, she said “It’s on the new guy over there with Danny.”

I put my money on the bar and responded, “Tell him I can buy my own drinks.” I turned to face the rest of the room. Seconds later Danny was standing in my face.

“Hey what’s your problem”

“Nothing. Just not in a social mood.”

“You come to the bar to not be social.” I gave him a blank look and didn’t respond. “Fine, be that way.” He shook his head and walked away.

“What’d they do?” Karen asked as she leaned on the bar in front of me.

“Nothing.” She looked at me waiting for more. I smiled and said, “No fun in being nice all the time. What’s the new guy’s deal anyway?”

She shrugged, then looked over her shoulder. “All I know is what I see, one fine-ass man. Good tipper too.” The bar filled up and I enjoyed the rest of my night with other friends.

Miguel continued showing up at the bar. He often came alone but never stayed that way for long. He had a generous round buying habit and groups formed around him in anticipation. Ralph and Andy hung around him for free drinks, along with Jeanette who also threw herself at him desperately. Danny just kept going on about how he’d “make bank” working for him, yet had no idea what it even was he did. It annoyed me how quickly became a fixture among the regulars. Suddenly he seemed to be friends with just about everybody I knew. It got to the point no matter where I went he’d show up invited by somebody or another.


The Introduction


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I was at a party with a few guys I knew from The Bar, a place I spent way too many nights at. The four of us had found ourselves there on a dull and empty night. Danny, Ralph, and Andy were headed to a party nearby. They insisted I join them.

It was in an apartment a couple blocks away. When we got there we stood in the doorway for a minute admiring the apartment. It was a fairly large place, although it’s design made it seem much larger; it had an open floor plan, high ceilings, and a light color scheme. It also had a pretty impressive skylight and lots of large windows. It was elegantly and sparsely furnished and decorated.  Andy was standing next to me, I poked him. “Who’s party is this again?”

“Ask Danny, he’s the one with the invite. Rest of us just followed.”

“Of course.” Danny had already started heading across the room through a small crowd gathered in the center of the apartment. Spotting his target, a large kitchen island filled with liquor bottles, I quickly followed. The kitchen was brightly lit with stainless steel appliances, it gleamed across the large expanse. Several small groups stood scattered in corners, a large black couch sat in along a wall filled with windows. Surrounding the window were lush green palm trees, vines and spider plants grew along the a large wrought iron curtain rod.

“So who’s party is this anyway.” I asked Danny as I set up a cup with ice.

Danny took a shot of Jack Daniels, then poured another. “Some guy I know. Wants me to do some work for his company. You know I got skills, so he’s trying to work his magic on me. Invited me to this party, told me to bring friends.”

“Yeah sure. Can I get that now?” He was still holding the bottle of Jack. He quickly drank his second shot, poured himself another, then handed the bottle over. “So this guy wants you to work for him, huh.” Danny worked part-time in a small computer repair shop and occasionally picked up side jobs. As far as I knew he wasn’t exactly in high demand, I laughed to myself as I poured my drink.

The crowd seemed pretty average, lots of 20 somethings in various stages of drunkenness. There were a few outliers, a couple of guys in expensive looking suits with typical arm candy girls in black dresses. A few older graying couples. One group of guys huddled by a window smoking a blunt, including one or two that looked suspiciously young. A handful of people seemed vaguely familiar. I thought maybe I’d seen them around the neighborhood, most likely at The Bar.

“Hey Danny. What’s the guys name?”


“Do I know him?”

“What, how would I know?”

“Well you’d know better than me. I never remember people.”

He looked at me confused before answering. “Maybe you should stop drinking.” He lifted his empty cup and smiled. “As far as I know you don’t know him. Hey look Jeanette’s here.”

Before I could move she grabbed me, hugged me, kissed me on the cheek then bounced over the Danny. “What the hell are you doin’ here.” I said.

“Enjoying the party.” She said over her shoulder as she bounced to Andy then Ralph.

“Oh great just anybody’s getting in here, time to go guys.” Ralph joked as he backed away from Jeanette’s hug. “Find me the host of this here shindig, he should know his party’s being crashed.”

“Oh please, I happen to be very good friends with the host.” She pretended to walk away in a huff. “And there he goes right now.” I watched as she weaved her way to a man talking to a group of women on the sofa. She wrapped her arms around his waist from behind as she settled in beside him.

I turned back to the guys still huddled around the counter with all the booze. “So guys had enough free booze yet.”

“What, we just got here. And come on, your bestie Jeannette is here.” Ralph said, then laughed.

I rolled my eyes. “She’s never going to fuck you.”

“Oh damn.” Andy and Danny yelled at the same time.

“You’re fucked up.” Ralph said then walked away.

“I hope he’s not leaving already.”

“Nah just going to sulk in  a corner.” I watched as he found an open spot by a window and looked out.

“Okay, well this is Dante. The girl I was telling you about.” Jeanatte said to the guy she’d left us to grope. “Dante, here’s Miguel. I was just telling how you two have to meet. I so think you two would be perfect together.” She leaned close to me and lowered her voice, “But you gotta let me have a go first.” She giggled then went to the counter to serve herself a drink.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Dante.”

“I’ll bet. So you’re Miguel, huh. Interesting place you’ve got here.”

“Yeah, impressive, right.”

“Maybe for fools easily impressed.”

“But a lady of your discerning taste surely knows better.” He said in a sarcastic tone.

“Exactly. It’s pretty nice, but it’s designed to appear bigger than it really is. Usually that doesn’t extend to the other rooms. Actually, it’s only a one bedroom isn’t it and I’m guessing that isn’t very impressive to anybody. ”

Jeanette bounced over as I finished my sentence. “Already trying to get him to the bedroom. See I told you, you’re perfect. But really me first, just the one time then you can have him.”

“Ladies, no need to fight, you can both have me now.” He smiled as he reached his arm over her shoulder. He reached out toward me with his other hand.

I took a quick step back. “That’s okay. No touching unless I say so.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot about that.” Miguel’s face questioned her. “Dante here don’t like to be touched. Well that is except a few people and I bet once they get a touch…” She grinned widely, raising her eyebrows and pushed Miguel towards me. He caught himself before he fell into me. As soon as he caught himself and took a step back she was already wrapping herself around him again.

“Wow bitch, do you really have to be so desperate.”

She glared at me, walked away and grabbed Andy by the arm. As she pulled him away I heard her mutter, “Why she always gotta be such a bitch.”

Miguel laughed. “What’s so funny.”

“You. No not you really, Jeanette. But yea, you. What you said.”

“Just the truth.”

“You don’t always tell the truth.” He said in a deeper voice as he leaned towards me.

“No but I like to have fun with it when I can.”

“You know Dante, you seem like my kind of girl.”

“I’m not your anything.” I walked away and headed towards Ralph. He was still standing by the window and looked miserable. I’d offer to buy him a drink at the bar if he left with me. That usually mended fences easily enough.

As I walked away I heard him say quietly, “We’ll see.”








I Am The Villain


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For most of my story I am the villain, which is why I’ve been reluctant to go ahead and tell it. I didn’t always know that. For a long time I felt justified in my actions. I knew my reasons and thought they outweighed the damage I did. Even as I started stalling with these little tales from my past, I thought it might help others see things from my perspective. The more I dug into my past the more easily I saw it didn’t matter. The truth is my decisions have always been about me, what I wanted, what I thought I needed. That selfishness makes me the bad guy. But for every villain or bad guy in life, there can always be a bigger and badder one. I should have began there. So here goes.

His name was Miguel. He was about ten years older than me. I had no interest in him when we first met. I actually didn’t really like him much. He had this real wannabe nice guy act he played while really he seemed cocky. He’d try to be charming and smooth, when you could tell the whole time he thought he was above everybody else. Although I guess it was partly justified, which just made it more irritating. He was extremely smart, good looking, wealthy and successful. He appeared in my life out of nowhere, suddenly he was friends with just about everybody I knew. I reluctantly accepted him as a part of my social circle. We ended up forming a antagonistic yet flirtatious friendship. His good looks kept me from being openly hostile, I’m a sucker for a pretty boy.

Eventually as I learned more about him I actually came to admire him and see how similar we were. He lost his mother in his early teens, around the same age as me. He was taken in by family, his father had never been around, but from that point on was really on his own. He’d been a drug dealer starting because it was easy money. He wasn’t the typical street corner dealer. He went to college, worked legit jobs, and seemed like a clean cut kid to most people. By the time I met him he was a totally legit business man. He started by recruiting and training personal bodyguards, later expanding into different areas of the private security industry. I know sounds a bit too good to be true, question it if you want, I do.

He had a reputation in his old neighborhood and there were lots of rumors about work he’d done for big dealers. There were also other signs that there was something not exactly right about him. By then I was in too deep and justified it. He’d done what he had to do to survive and to succeed. In fact, it was that darker side of him that really pulled me in. It wasn’t until I saw the bad guy underneath it all that I was actually attracted to him. I could never have even imagined how bad though. I have to admit now how stupid I was, I did not see that he’d been manipulating from the start. It’s actually kind of amazing and still I have to give him credit for how damn brilliant he was.



Master of Ghosting


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One more thing to add to the list of reasons I’m likely considered a horrible person. I’ve been ghosting people since before it was even really a thing. Well before I ever heard the term used and became a trending topic. I’ve pretty much ghosted anybody, family, friends and guys I was “dating.” I just get really tired of people easily and in all honesty don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation. I’m not a big talker and if you’re being ignored you should be able to get the picture.

Some of my worst cases of ghosting has been when I just picked up and moved. One of the first times was when I went away for college. I told nobody I was going away. After graduation, I hung out the whole summer and never mentioned it. Even in the days I was packing before I left I still continued partying and laughed inside when people discussed plans for the next week when I’d be gone. Then the day before I left my phone got shut off and I cut off all contact. When I came back I found new hangouts and started over. I did run into a few people I’d previously hung out with, they mentioned my sudden disappearance but none seemed to take it personally.

Then there was the time I ghosted a guy in the middle of a party we’d gone to together. He’d invited me to a friends house party. Halfway through the night I started getting bored. I told him I’d be right back. I started just wandering around, eventually finding a guy I found much more interesting and left with him. I had tons of texts from him asking what the hell happened to me. I answered just to get him to stop with some story about having to leave, family emergency I think. He gave up after texting a couple more times and never getting an answer.


Don’t Be Sad, Be Productive


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I’ve had more than a few people in my life tell me I’m a cold unfeeling bitch. I’ll admit to the bitch part but I do have feelings. And it may be a surprise to some but I can even have my feelings hurt. But instead of being all emotional I channel the hurt into something productive.

Like this one time in middle school. There was this kid, Nick, I thought might be a pretty good friend. He sat near me in almost every class and talked to me all the time. I guess he was sort of popular and good looking. (Not that I cared.) So some other girls including the class bully were jealous and started making jokes about me. At first he just stopped sitting by me, then eventually he completely ignored me.

Since we had, at least I though, been such good friends I knew the combination to his locker. One day when nobody was around I emptied it out into the trash. At first, finding the locker empty, he laughed and said, “Okay, real funny. Who took my stuff?”

When nobody responded, he started getting upset almost whining, “Okay, ha ha, jokes over. Where the hell is my stuff?” Still nobody answered. I pointed toward the garbage and said “Hey, that looks just like you jacket.” Then laughed. He walked over to the garbage and I could see his face turn red, then he flipped out. Started yelling, saying he was going to kick somebodies ass, all while pulling is stuff out of the trash. As he did the girls he tried to impress by ignoring me walked up to see him pulling his stuff out of the trash and started calling him “Trashboy.” After that, he wasn’t so popular. He became their favorite target and nobody would associate with him out of fear they’d be treated the same way.


Drunk Lies


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For some reason, there are people that believe that being drunk will make you more likely to tell the truth. I guess through some faulty logic it makes sense. But this conclusion is based on the idea that your unfiltered thoughts are in fact based on the truth. The thing is when you’re drunk you’re much more likely to say anything that pops into your mind. In some situations, for some people that could be a hidden truth; crushes, long kept secrets, prejudices, negative and judgemental opinions, etc.  However, how many times have you met the drunk guy that decides he loves everybody or wants to fight everybody including the coat in the corner that keeps eyeing him. How can you trust an impaired mind to even know what the truth is.

See me, I have a tendency to get drunk and come up with outrageous stories. Granted I’ve always had the habit of giving out a fake name. But it’s turned into so much more. I have more than one that I use depending on my mood and each has their own backstory, well maybe more than one. It’s not easy to stay consistent making them up drunk. But even when I’m out with people I know I can’t help blurting out the first random bullshit that come to mind. It’s actually quite entertaining to see people’s reactions.

It kind of amazes me the shit people will believe, I’ve even caught a couple of people that know me. It took Teresa a while but she eventually caught on, although I did have her convinced I was committed to a mental institution for a while.  And Jeff still suspects that in high school I hooked up with our English teacher.

That Time I Thought I Killed A Guy


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We’ve all known somebody that was so irritating just the thought of them brought on violent fantasies. Alright maybe more than one somebody, but you know the type of person. Just the sight of their face brings up images of it getting smashed in. Well in high school, there was one predominant one, Richie Brito. He was big, dumb and ugly, but managed to get by through fear and violence. He’d act like everybody was his friend making bad jokes at their expense, intimidating them into doing his work or letting him cheat. For fear of his temper everybody simply put up with him, even a few teachers passed him just to get him out of their class.

Somehow this walking pile of shit managed to have a girlfriend, Chanice. She was an okay girl and at first seemed enough distraction to make his presence tolerable. But it wasn’t long before she just became one more target of his anger. He was jealous and controlling. She couldn’t talk to other guys, when she did he would call her a slut. At lunch he’d make jokes about how dumb she was, meanwhile she did his homework. I imagined walking up behind him as he threw his head back laughing and slicing his throat. But I didn’t bother doing or saying anything. He wasn’t worth the trouble, I’d already had it out with him the past. When he finally realized he couldn’t scare me he just ignored me and I did the same.

I wanted so bad to tell him to shut the fuck up, leave her alone. I wanted to smack her and ask what the fuck she was thinking. This guy was shit, he was a shit to her, why put up with it? But if a girl’s dumb enough to stick around it’s not my problem. Then one day I was on the fourth floor walking towards the stairwell. I heard yelling coming from a couple flights down. I realized it was him. “You dirty slut, get back here.” He kept yelling as he ran up the stairs. I got to the top of the stairs and stood there listening, until Chanice turned up and ran up towards me. She was looking back and ran right into me. I caught her, hitting my back on the wall behind me. I grabbed her arms, before she ripped free of me and ran into the hall I saw a look of pure terror on her face.

“Get the fuck out of my way bitch.” I looked down, he had stopped at the landing. Then he ran up the stairs taking them two or three at a time. His face was twisted in anger. Without any thought I stepped forward and kicked him in the chest. His face quickly contorted from rage to surprise then worry as he teetered back on the last step. He waved his arms, looking for something to grab on to. Standing dead center the banister on each side was just out of reach. He leaned forward but his feet already left the step, he rolled backwards down the stairs.

“Holy Shit!” I turned and a senior, Javier I think his name was, was standing in the doorway to the stair well. “What’d you do?”

I shook my head, thinking, hoping this was one of my fantasies. He’d hit the landing with a large thud, then didn’t move. I thought, he’s dead. For a split second I was glad, then worry set in. “Oh fuck, no way. Is…he?”

Javier started to walk down the stairs, he paused. “Looks like he’s breathing.” He was about to take another step down and Richie let out a low groan. “You better get out of her. I’ll get him some help.”

“But.” I started to back away. “You think he’s really hurt?”

“Don’t worry. I didn’t see nothing, you weren’t here. He fell on his own.” He turned to face the next landing and told somebody to get a teacher. “Just go.”

I turned and ran to the stairs on the other end of the hall. I slowed down descending the stairs thinking about Richie rolling down those steps. I tried to recreate it in my head, imagining exactly where his body had made impact with the stairs. I wanted to know how badly he was hurt? Maybe a broken bone or a concussion, he had to have hit his head. I hadn’t seen any blood, so it wasn’t cracked open. I laughed, “Too bad.”

He was taken out of school that day in an ambulance and didn’t come back for a week or so. They told the rest of the students it was just an accident. I assume he was too macho to tell them what really happened. If anybody asked he wouldn’t talk about it and it was pretty much forgotten about. While I was relieved he wasn’t dead, it might of been a bit more satisfying if he’d been hurt worse. I do have to say though the thought of possibly taking his life was exciting in a number of different ways.

New Year Same Idiots


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So of course it’s that time of year, the beginning of a new year. That magical time where we can forget the bad events of the previous year, only foresee good fortune for the future, and people can completely transform overnight. You know the saying “New year, new me.” We’ve gotten to the point where it’s even beyond ridiculous New Year’s resolutions that nobody ever follows through on. They’re going to become whole new people.

It’s not just about quitting smoking, drinking, or losing weight. Now they’ll transform, shedding all their bad behaviors by embracing a whole new mindset. Social media will, of course, be dominated by post about personal growth and embracing a new positive lifestyle. It’s pretty damn hilarious that it’s usually the same old people too. The same miserable bastards that will likely be miserable to the day they die.

While they’re all bullshitting, I have no intentions of changing anything. I’ll stick to my resolution to continue being the amazingly awesome person I already am and enjoy the fuck out it.

Halloween Birthday


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My birthday is October 31st, yes Halloween. Even as a kid I never really cared much about it being my birthday. Moving so much I never really had a chance to make any friends. Most kids in school and around the neighborhood didn’t even know who I was, much less when my birthday was, and they didn’t care either. Honestly I didn’t mind it, I liked Halloween anyway. I loved the idea of being able to play dress up and get candy, it seemed so much better than just a birthday party. A party would have been lame, nobody would have come, and besides Halloween candy last longer than cake. Plus I’d pretend that it was all for my birthday anyway, the whole holiday and traditions were secretly created just to celebrate me. It didn’t matter that nobody knew, I knew. As I got older, I let go of the fantasy, but still always liked Halloween. And while I still go and party, especially hard, I rarely tell anybody it’s my birthday too.

The thing I find most interesting about Halloween is how it can be very revealing about a persons true nature. It’s a day that all real norms are ignored. People get to dress up in ridiculous costumes, kids ask strangers for candy, and random acts of vandalism and pranks are mostly laughed off. It really just seems like people use the day as an excuse to indulge in behavior they’d be too self conscious to otherwise. I always wonder about the women that choose a slutty nurse, cop or Olaf costume. (Yes the Disney movie Frozen character inspired a slutty costume.) Yet any other time of year, they judge and put down women calling them sluts because of their attire or behavior, jealous much. Then there’s the darker side people flock to. Beyond the make believe monsters, real life horrors and violence are depicted in costumes, decorations and entertainment. Yes I guess it’s all part of the fun, but when it seems like people have a total different side to them you start to think. I wonder if they’re just revealing a part of themselves they’re too scared to show any other time.