about mark flanigan

Cincinnati native Mark Flanigan has been writing and performing for over 14 years....Works from his collections Wrong-Way Poems For One-Way Streets, Not Necessarily God Stories and Next to Nothing have appeared in a variety of independent publications and, along with his performances, have garnered critical acclaim. He has also co-written a screenplay (“Midway,” with Brian Keizer), edited a literary publication (omnibscure) and worked to develop, produce and curate various gallery shows and performance readings -- notably, VOLK/c.s.p.i. and Intermedia Series readings at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Weston art gallery. Flanigan’s monthly column, “Exiled on Main Street,” appeared for over three years, first in x-ray, and upon his resignation there, at semantikon.com. Performances of his can be found on “the Volk/c.s.p.i. spoken word series CD (2001),” which he co-produced, and on the CD “One Night Only" (2002).   To learn more about his work, read his blog, review some of the works mentioned above, and listen to additional audio tracks:

Visit markflanigan.com

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mark flanigan exiled from archives

October 2007: The Dance

June 2007: Cake
May 2007: Special Edition "Light Travel" Mark Flanigan and Steve Proctor
April 2007: Zero Hour
March 2007: Prelude to a Kiss-Off
Jan 2007: State Of The Disunion Address 
Nov 2006: Youngblood
Oct 2006: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
exiled on main street archives

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Exiled from Main Street: God, Sighted
Author’s Note: The following is a taken from a little book called Not Necessarily God Stories, available now at oneleggedcowpress.org. I had hoped to finish a sequel to it, and have that be featured here, but after trying to sew it up over the better part of the month, well let’s just say all of a sudden I believe Godfather III to be an absolute classic and George Lucas is back on my Christmas card list. So, here’s to next month! Until then, I guess there’s still this....
     Shit, man, if it wasnt for my girlfriend gettin an abortion, I would have never met God. I mean thats why I was workin at the Rib Inn over the Christmas holidays: the manager there, buster, said Id clear 250 if I worked the Christmas eve weekend. I needed the money no doubt for you know what, and I could use what was left over for whatever so I said whatever and I showed up: and Im not gonna give ya some sloppy shit about my bad night. rather, just the facts.
     man this aint no bullshit if it aint the first thing that manager says to me: I wouldnt have hired ya if I knew you had the hair. got a hat or something? man its one thing to hafta go out and buy a red shirt and some khaki pants and wear them like its fuckin Halloween. if that aint enough, I gotta hide my hair like I got some fuckin disease. fuck em, I think, but dont. man, I need the money so I ask around and find a fuckin cincinnati reds hat from some okay fella and I tie my hair up like a little girl and, except for a little ball bulging out of my head like a big cyst, I guess Im okay to work. cause before I know it I got one of those W2 taxforms in my hand and now I need a pen. guess I shoulda knew to bring a goddamn pen but I didnt so I asked my friend the manager if he had one I could borrow. he shakes his head, like I had wrecked one of his precious cars, says no, tuck in your shirt. I tell him I aint never tucked in my fuckin shirt before so why should I now? he asks me if I want to work? and I answer, who the hell wants to work? then he throws his arms around my shoulders and says, lets you and I go for a stroll. he asks me why Im giving him such a hard time and I aint got an answer. first of all, he says, you shoulda known to bring a pen to a valet job. (Ill givem that one.) second of all, you look like a slob. please tuck in your shirt. man the guy coulda just cut my dick off and made me feel more of a man. its not just for the company, he went on, believe me kiddo—he pats me on the shoulder—youll make better money. kiss my ass kiddo I feel like telling him, if I had a fuckin phd I guess Id make more money but I aint got no phd and I dont want one neither you know? but I dont cause like I said I need the money. fuck! and I tuck my little red shirt into my pretty khaki pants (what the hell is khaki I asked the lady at the check-out counter. brown she answered. I guess khaki is a better word for brown at a hip place like the Rib Inn.)
     and before you know it Im being told by another guy who just started yesterday how to do the goddamn job. I ask him for a pen and he gives me a pencil. good enough, I tell him. so what do we make an hour I ask. he answers however much you want. what? I didnt understand. well you work completely on tips he informs me. oh, Im kinda stunned, well then why do I hafta fill out this W2? I dont know man, he answers, I just work here. me too.
     so I stand in line to park this car after learning all the tricks of the trade. but there is no line. all these guys keep jumping into cars and hell I wasnt about to get in their way I mean fuck Im the new guy Im just supposed to be there you know? anyway its cold and I know I need to park some cars cause the more cars you park the longer you get to stay. so I jump into my first car, a dodge something or other, and go on my way feeling good. find an open spot and pull it in and get back in line, the ice broken. I did this a couple a times and man these guys are all standin around with a million tickets in their hands while I only got a couple. so Im thinking, man, if your ever gonna make any money your gonna hafta do it now so I go stand in the other line, the pick-up line, thats where you make your tips the one guy told me. I get my first pick-up around eight o’clock and its dark and cold already and Im hopin I dont get stiffed by this business type guy. I run on out to the car, find it easily, but like I said its so cold that the windows are so fogged up and I cant see so I turn on the defrost but its not good enough and I run over an orange cone but dont know it and I drag it all the way upfront where all these people are laughing but I cant see em just hear em. fuck I felt embarrassed when I found out but the guy gave me a buck tip anyway and I got in line again....the Rib Inn was doing good business tonight.

     Cars got to be lined up onto the street for what seemed to be miles. so when I got my second pick-up my buddy the manager yells take one with ya, so I do just that and I drive to where my pick-up is, stop the car, jump out, nonchalantly shut the door of the caddy Im parking, run to the pick-up car (a beemer), pull that out, go to put the caddy back into that now open spot (all the while thinking Im a fuckin genius, I remember), but only to find out that Im not and I locked the keys in the car with the engine still running no less. fuck! so I stay calm like one always oughtta do and I pulled up the pick-up car, got stiffed. told buster what I had done. he didnt laugh. but he did tell me to work on (phew I wasn’t fired) and I watched him scowl as he got a lockjaw or whatever those things are called. it wasnt too long before he was back, the car parked. be more careful, he urged, that time we were lucky. I thanked him and apologized and assured him there would be no more fuck-ups on my part. he told me to watch my language. ya never can please some people, you know.
     so I get my next pick-up and start to running. man I ran out to spot 204 where the ticket said the car would be. I stuck the key into the keyhole, no go. I try all the twenty keys on the ring, except the house keys of course, but none of the motherfuckers work. I think Im at the wrong car and I dont know what to do. so I run back and ask buster. he says ask the people whose ticket it is what kinda car they got. I do just that. a ford probe, I tell him. okay, now ask them what color. black the couple say. black I tell buster. and what kind of license plates? ohio they answer. ohio i tell him. alright, now go ahead and find a black probe with ohio plates the manager says. shit....so I take off running. first I check 304, then 205 and 203. then 104 and 404. then 402. finally found the car out of breath in 3fuckinhundredand64. the people were mad that I took so long and I wasnt about to get a tip, another stiff. I had been workin for about three hours. all I had to show was a buck, some change from an old lady, and a stack of worthless tickets. I thought man I need a break and I went into the restaurant and bought me a coca-cola classic and you wouldnt believe what they charged me for a can of pop? a buck twenty-five. fuck! I took the coke which was cold very cold and grabbed a chair. I was about even money-wise but minus three hours. I figured Id watch the others work and find out what the hell I was doing wrong. for the most part they hustled but no harder than myself. so when I saw them with their wads of money and their stacks of tickets I knew something was up. finally I figured it out: as some people were sent home for not having enough tickets, they would sell the tickets that they had. thus someone could stand in the pick-up line and make all kindsa money, pay a couple a bucks to someone who was leaving and stay even later. thus, making a killing. I dont mind that much losing the money myself, but on my own accord, thank you. being sorta cheated outta money, fuck that. I became determined to park as many cars as possible, thus staying later than the others, thus cutting them people for a loss because they spent money on someone elses tickets. so I ran and ran and before I knew it I wasnt cold anymore and I was catching up with them. soon I felt like I was ahead but even so I had only a couple a bucks (now after five hours of work and Im thinking well how am I gonna pay for this abortion?). so Im gonna stand in the pick-up line for awhile and man make some money and feel better about, you know, my position. what position, I thought. man Im lower than a fuckin dog. oh well....a dog with a few bones is a quiet fuckin dog I tell myself and I try to get a couple myself.
     Im up and I take the ladys ticket and recall what my teacher had told me: women are bad tippers, blacks are bad tippers, but black women are death. well mine was only a woman, so I guess there was hope. I ran into the shack, saw and got the ladys keys, checked to see where the car was parked: 496. 496? yes, 496: the absolute last spot on the lot. I book as fast as I can to the end of the lot counting the painted yellow numbers as I galloped on: 400,420,430,437, 442, 446, 450 (Fuck!), 453, 456, 459, 463....my lungs burn from heaving in all the cold air and from 470 it looks like a Porsche in 496 but I cant very well tell a van is in the way....482,83,84,85,86, 87,88,89,90,91,92,93,94: and as I get to the van in 495 I peek around the corner not to see a Porsche, not to see a Jag, not to see anything even vaguely promising, but just a cutless supreme. an old cutlass, like the one my sister totaled a long time ago. fuck....man let me tell you I stuck the key in and it turned slowly like old joints, and the door moaned and the windshield took forever to defrost and Im thinking man another stiff, another fuckin stiff. oh well....I throw the fucker into drive, it stalls. try again, this time it goes but slow. get out open both doors, rush back to the drivers side (I mean the tippers side) to close her door of course, and the lady looks calm enough says thank you very much hands me a tip even. I return to the pick-up line, ceremoniously count my money, and find out that the bill the chick slipped me wasnt a buck at all but a fiver! man, five fuckin bucks, shit....I wanted to kiss that ugly chick but she was long gone, perhaps smiling as big as I was who knows? hope....
      so I stood in line for some time, got a few more tips. it wasnt turning out to be such a bad night after all. compared to the others I had just as many tickets as the first guy, but minus maybe thirty dollars. but 37 dollars and some change is 37 dollars and some change. it was more money than I had in a long while ya know, and things seemed to be settling down a bit.

      Later now and very few people come to the Rib Inn late, just a few stragglers who come to drink at the bar for some reason. one car pulled in, buster my manager asked me to park it. fine I didnt mind. this job wasnt so bad after all. I drove the car, a silver saab, to the first spot I came to, tried to back it in but couldnt figure out how to get the fucker in reverse. I remember then thinking man this is one strange car. so I drove around until I found a spot in which I could pull it straight on in. easily done and I turned the car the lights off while opening the door as I tried to pull out the keys but they wouldnt come. I looked for one of those little buttons you sometimes hafta push, didnt find one. then I thought maybe it was just jammed and I tried to force it a bit until snap! suddenly it was colder and I was talking to myself and I was answering for Chrissakes. I sat without moving. man, I sat there, holy shit you did it now I told myself, the keys broke in the ignition, now what are you gonna do? I tell you, right then I felt just like fuckin leaving, walking head-up out of this hell called a parking lot. but that was impossible. just impossible, for the abortion and so many other reasons. I ran and told buster and he said what ‘ya mean the key broke in the ignition? how the hell did you manage that? I shrugged my shoulders as if to say I wasnt sure. what kinda car was it? he asked. a silver saab with indiana plates, I answered. you jackass he yelled, dont you know a saab has to be in reverse to get the keys out? goddamn....dont anyone reading this ever buy a saab, if only for my sake. I hate them, even now.
     so after buster settled down he said well I guess well have to call a locksmith. Im feeling bad about the whole ordeal so I ask if I can page the people whose car it is and ask if they have another set. a man comes storming out, partly dried sauce spots on his otherwise white shirt. I ask him if he has another set? he says hes from out of town, no extras. hes pissed off. he doesnt have a ride back to his hotel, or home for that matter. buster tells him not to worry, he can drive em to their hotel and deliver their car when the locksmith is done making them another key and getting the old one out of the ignition. meanwhile he goes grunting and red-faced to finish his dinner, having a few drinks on the house in return for his patience. buster then puts his arm around my shoulder again. man, this is your last warning, he says. no more, he quiets to a whisper, fuck-ups. kinda dizzy, I feel like Im going crazy. then he says you do understand that your gonna have to pay for both the locksmith and the drinks. now I am crazy. Im not old enough to buy drinks I tell him and he gives me that parental stare that any experienced buster has perfected by now. why do I have to pay for it? I ask. well, you havent been here long enough to qualify for insurance, youll have to pay for this one out of your own pocket. so how much do you think it will be? I ask. well, we get frequent rates, about thirty-five dollars, he says. that left me with two dollars, maybe. I needed another coke, so I bought one of those too. Im down to some change again I thought numbly. buster had to drive them people to their hotel, too. when the couple left the man looked full and loaded and 100 percent angry to boot. so I guess that was one good thing I did that night, getting rid of the boss. he was gonna be gone for a halfhour or so and the others thanked me for it. I stood in line again. it was even colder now outside. I didnt know what to do. I mean I was only gonna be able to work another hour or so and how much could I possibly make in that time? I was lost and I just stood in line and drank my drink....

      A group of people, most of whom hailed claim checks, came out in a rush. the line, which I was the end of, moved. a few of the customers stood around and conversed with the red-shirts. a fellow with a balding head and brown pants was talking to the guy in front of me, al kurnan. do you mind my asking what you make on an average night? the guy asked. al kurnans gonna make at least a note, al answered. that aint bad, the man replies. al kurnan dont think so, said the big weightlifter type ahead of me. youre probably wondering why he says his own name all the time. so was I. I mean people would call on the phone and instead of saying hello, al, Rib Inn valet parking, like we were supposed to, he would say al kurnan benches 270, or al kurnans house of whoopass. man, hes the type that no one ever admits to liking but everyone gravitates towards as he plays with his ego instead of his dick. anyway, a lady came up with a claim check and al asked, can I get your al kurnan for you mam? she looked at him a bit sideways but pretended she heard wrong anyhow and said, why yes, thank you. so naturally the guy with a balding head started talking to me. thats one interesting guy there, that al kurnan, he said. yeah, I answered, interesting in the same way as a piece of shit stuck halfway in and out of your ass. the man laughed while I thought that may have touched on the philosophical. how much do you guys really make a night? he asked as his laughter subsided. well, its my first night I answered, and it hasnt been a particularly kind one, about twenty dollars I lied. well I dont think youre gonna make your note, the man said. but I couldnt take it as lightly as he did, after all I had an abortion to pay for. well (I was thinking) at least half of one. man, I said annoyed, are you waiting for a cab or something? he handed me a claim check as he continued to smile in his stupid way, saying no I’ve been waiting for you to get my car. coming right up I told him and ran on into the key shack to see where it was parked: 201, the closest spot. I grabbed his keys and took off running, feeling more than hopeful this time, optimistic even. but I remember thinking there shouldnt be a customers car parked in 201 because there was a sign that read reserved for the employee of the month. but I said oh well what do I know and I tried the keys it unlocked and everything was alright. I defrosted the sportcars windshield and drove it up front, no problem. I get out of the car only to notice that no one is coming to claim it. I check what kinda car it is and yell orange 280z with ohio plates! no one answered and I couldnt see into the crowd of people waiting on their cars so I thought maybe he forgot something and went back inside. but I was wrong, I found him there where I left him and I asked sir do you by any chance drive a 280z? no he answers, a red escort, but Ill be glad to take it. at this point Im quite fuckin confused. what was there to do but ask the other manager? he said well did you ask what kinda car he has? yeah, a red escort. and what did you bring up? an orange 280z. his face went flush: buster’s? I dont know, I stammered. I only know its not the car its supposed to be. well you probably grabbed the wrong number from off the board, did you keep both ends of the ticket? no, I answered, now buster made it very clear that he wanted all tickets thrown in the trash. and here I swear you could see little volcanoes erupting in his eyes. AFTER YOU GET THE CUSTOMER IN THE RIGHT CAR! he yelled. and all I could say this late in the game was, oh well....
     so once again I was zigzagging through the lot, only a bit slower now and this time looking for a red escort while the man, assuming he was still alive, searched the shack for his keys. the other manager parked the 280z and finally, out of breath again and forever, I found it. It wasnt too bad either, except I thought well hell Im gonna get stiffed again but this time it was undoubtedly my fault, my stupidity. I had to run back to the shack to see if he found his keys alright, and he had. I told him I only had to run out to 232 and Id be right back. he yelled thats what you said twenty minutes ago and laughed as I took off running. once there, I unlocked the car, defrosted the windshield, etc., and drove it on up, opened his door (he was alone), and closed it for him but only after he handed me a two dollar tip. I got back in line just in time to be told it was time for me to go. numb, walking out of the lot, there was nothing left for me to do but count my money, all two bills of it. which is when I noticed that the two dollar tip from my friend was not a two dollar tip at all. on the contrary, and this aint no shit either man, it was a hundred dollar bill wrapped in a single with a cryptic message inscribed on the otherwise crisp green: “here’s your note,” it said. and I guess the whole point of all this breathing is, next time you hear some preacher or politician talking about God being above you, say bullshit, and remind him that hes in left field cause He Hath Been Sighted at the Rib Inn in cincy, and he wasnt wearing no silly crown, or a fuckin red robe, or even khaki for that matter; he was wearing brown, man, brown fuckin pants.



 



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