The Written Word, Analyzing Albert

Analyzing Albert

No Comments 11 October 2011

Have you ever lost a piece of luggage?

“looking for someone to be today,”

should never be the reply

of a man too shy to look and say,


[journal entry dated 4/13/98]


A Letter


To All People Who Have Lost Luggage and Never Received it, especially from LAX Baggage Claim 12, but also from ALB Claim C, CLE Claim E1, JFK Claim 10 and CLR Claim 7:

Do not be mired by this manifesto.  I need you to keep moving to survive.

I truly hate you, but I’d love to become you.  Only I can make you whole; only you can consummate my existence.  I can’t stand to hear you talk, but I’d love to steal your voice.  Only I can make them listen; only you can help me speak.  I vomit when I smell you, but I can’t help dousing myself with your toiletries, and reveling in my own reckless abandon, our own reckless abandon.  I can’t stand the sight of you, but I’ll drape myself in your clothing.  Only I can perfect your image in a mirror all alone; only you can give me identity.

I offer you this not as an apology, but as an explanation.  I am not sorry for what I attempt to set forth in following pages, as you are not sorry for walking out your door wearing a suit bought from a chain store at a local mall.  I just refuse to go shopping.



Albert M. McGuinness

PS – Do not be alarmed by the receipt of this letter.  I am not a stalker.  I truly have no desire to meet you.  I have made no effort to track you down—your baggage tag gave you away.

staring at almost-ancient horsehair

through cracks in plaster walls

 while sunlight gathers outside windows

 opaque with grease.  shall

 i feel at home for a moment, brief

 while my companion sleeps

 for now, over Detroit or LA

 not knowing we  will  meet

 nor will he, when we do.

 I look inside his mind and find:  you.




From the Inside, Out



I remember when it was the sun that would awaken me. I felt awful. The early morning rays ricocheted off the brilliant white overhang under my window, directly into my sleeping eyes, blinding me even before they opened. It was miserable. I would awaken, force myself to squint, and always reconsider starting my day.  Despite my inevitable despondence, each and every day I would flop over in bed to see what God had laid out before me:  Through the window, I watched the people rush in and out of the little cafe across the street, probably hustling to meetings or some other pre-destined targets within their manufactured days.

I used to wish I had a manufactured day.  Just one.  I imagined having a routine might change everything, or at least something. It might make my miserable existence worth continuing.  Although at that point I didn’t have the slightest inkling of the depths of my perversion.

I started working mornings at the liquor store down the street.  I continued to let the sun wake me up, continued to watch the same busy people kick start their days with lattes and national newsprints.  I watched the same clumsy girl in the same loose grey business suit drop her paper trying to tuck it under her arm while sipping her coffee and hailing a cab. The weakness of her left ankle forcing her leg to almost collapse every time she took a sharp corner.

Part II to come Fryday….

The Written Word, Analyzing Albert

Analyzing Albert (cont.)

No Comments 09 October 2011

There was an old man. He wore the same shit brown colored slacks that were two sizes too small and two inches too short. He always had his T-shirt tucked into his boxer shorts and not his pants. When he was slunk over his old undees would caress the bottom of his belly like a turtleneck hugs your neck as it approaches your chin. I watched the old man sit at the same seat every day and watch the grey suit girl. My grey suit girl. I used to wonder what he was thinking about. Maybe she reminded him of some daughter that disowned him years ago and he thought about all the decisions he would take back if he could. Or maybe she bared a striking resemblance to his wife when they were young forcing him to reminisce about the romantic times of a young couple starting their lives. Or maybe he just figured she had a nice ass and was pissed her pants were so loose.


I would go to the store, wait on the same early morning drunks, stock the same shelves with bargain priced Vodka and cheap 100 proof Gin, and then come home.  Everyday.  6 days a week.  And I started to dread the sunshine. It was the routine that wore me down. I began saving the grease from cooked food in a coffee can near my kitchen sink.


I was sick of the routine, sick of the grind.  I had been saving the congealed fat for months.  I didn’t call in, I didn’t tell anyone I wasn’t going to show up.  Before I went to bed one night, I smeared the windows in my apartment in the collected animal fat and thus blocked the blinding rays of my mornings past.  I slept until the late afternoon, and thus began my new life:  devoid of routine, escaped from all reality except those I choose to create.


I lay in bed for days, thinking about who I would want to be if I could chose to be anyone for a day.  I realized there was no one I could choose.  There was no one person who I aspired to be, or even wished to emulate.  But I hated being myself even more.


I went to the café early in the morning on the third day after I decided to leave the liquor mongering to someone else.  I ordered a regular coffee and the girl behind the counter gave it to me.  I instantly hated her. I sipped, scanned and spotted a friendly face.  It was then the grey suit girl coming out with her paper and dropping it on the ground while she hailed a cab.  I picked it up for her and asked where she was headed.  She had no idea I had started off my mornings with her for quite some time.  She gave me a little smile and replied “[Kennedy],” and then she was gone, disappearing into the yellow cab.


The airport.  Why not?



First time at the Airport


I stood there glossy eyed and terrified watching these dark, blank boxes of my immediate future roll by none the wiser. A baggage claim right after a flight comes in is the perfect microcosm of society. The grind I guess you could say. As soon as the first suitcase pokes its nose through the dangling pieces of rubber the struggle begins.


And their off!


Hemming and hawing, elbowing, adjusting their feet, boxing out looking around trying to find a better spot to stand. Imagine trying to do all this while struggling to be nonchalant. These viscous bastards will do anything for an edge.


Then it happens. Someone gets their bag before you do and the doubt creeps in like a lazy cloudy day. Did that miserable bitch at the check-in counter put the right baggage ticket on my suitcase? Is she trying to get back at me for not saying ‘thank you’? This would only happen to me! Someone else just got their bag.


As this process proceeds the ugly under belly of human nature starts to rear its repulsive little head and stick its tongue out. I can see it in their eyes. Nobody wants to wait for their turn. It’s the product of the ‘now’ mentality spawned by the digital age. If they got theirs why can’t I get mine? Why can’t I be in front? Maybe mine went by and I couldn’t see it because of the back of your fat, hideous head. It happens millions of times a day.


Right when the smoke is coming out of your ears and you want to slap the fat Oklahoman next to you just because he’s there and seems relatively happy the breakthrough happens. The clouds part, the sun shines, and the hand of the Lord guides your bag around the conveyor. You try to smile as politely as possible while pushing women and children out of the way. You’re edging your way to the front and you’re almost there. Then the worst happens. There’s an incredibly fat woman with two toddlers dangling off both hips like warts with 3 additional little pint-size horsemen of the apocalypse whizzing around, blocking your way. Based on my experience 80% of the general population jockey around this menace to grab their bag, the other 20% have no problem with planting that kid’s face directly into the cold, hard metal just so they don’t have to move 2 feet to the right to grab their bags. I think I like these people best. The ends justify the means no? And those friggin kids are going to have to learn that lesson at some point.


Then the connection happens. You have your bags and all is right with the world again. You can now turn and leave the misery behind you. You no longer have to be part of the rat race. No longer just a number. And you’re one of the lucky ones. Some people are stuck waiting at a bus stop for a bus that never comes. And that’s where I come in.

The Written Word, Analyzing Albert

Analyzing Albert III

No Comments 08 October 2011


I used to stand at the baggage claim for hours. Waiting. Watching. Trying to pick my next escape. If I liked someone, or they seemed remotely interesting I would try to match their luggage to the person then make my move. I don’t do that anymore. I didn’t like the certain so called ‘destiny’ aspect of it. I wanted the whole process to be completely organic. If I wanted to play God I would have just stayed home and masturbated all day.

Now I walk in, make my way to the front of the herd and pick the first bag I see. The entire ride home I listen to the local oldies station and think about old TV shows that I used to watch. I think about all the characters that I used to want to be. I think about how I used to make decisions in my life based on how those characters might act in a certain situation. Then I get depressed and realize its no wonder why I’m at where I am. That’s what they call rock bottom. Usually around that time I want to veer

the car into on-coming traffic and do myself, and society in general, a favor. Eventually I get home and the excitement begins.

I race into the parking spot barely letting the car come to a stop before throwing it into park. I grab the suitcase from the backseat make my way up the walk rushing to the bedroom.

There’s a rush of emotions when I open the suitcase for the very first time. Its very similar to the feeling kids get when they open presents at Christmas except moreso. At least those kids have youth to look forward to. An entire life spreads out before me. I rifle through everything neatly putting this persons life into all the cookie-cutter categories I’ve already defined in my mind. Where they work, who they know, how they take their eggs, if they’re married, how old they are, if they sleep on they’re left side or right, left-handed or right. Right handed people always pack their shirts on the right and the right side of their shoelaces is always a bit longer than the left.

I try to understand every person. But not just understand them, I want to understand those deep, dark thoughts hidden in the bowels of their mind. The sick stuff. The types of feelings that you only think about for a split second every once and awhile then neatly tuck them away again. And even if you wanted to communicate it to somebody you’d never be able to find the right words to make yourself not look like a creep. But the thing is I get these emotions and that’s where the bond begins. I understand they exist in all of us. As I walk down the street everyday I feel this deep, almost primal, connection to everyone I see. I have no idea what they’re feeling, just that their feeling it. I feel it too, and that’s why I do what I do.

The Written Word, Features, Analyzing Albert

Analyzing Albert Part 4.5

No Comments 07 October 2011



Laundromats have a stale yellow light that reminds me of urine. The people are lively though. At all hours of the day and night too. Sometimes the stores don’t even have employees. The doors have an automatic lock that opens every morning at 6 and closes every night at 11. If you’re running errands while your cloths are drying and run a little late…sorry. You’re fucked. No last employee to plead your case with. No one to show a unique display of compassion. Not a hint of human emotion. I think its genius.

They throw up on each other though, and call people bad names. Not in so many words of course but you get what I mean. The dynamic was very different from the little café across the street. There were no rules here and people don’t give a shit how they act. I saw grey suit girl there one day. She looked different without the suit. When she walked by she didn’t say a word. At least she smiled at me at the cafe before. But it wasn’t just her. I saw the kid I buy cigarettes from three times a week. I say hi to him every time I go in. We make small talk, really shoot the shit. He didn’t say a word when I saw him.

I feel bad for them. I really do. But imagine what they must think of me! Every time another person with a completely different look. At least I was being honest with everybody.


Then the day came when Maury Povich and gravity ruined my life. I was bored. It was a Tuesday and windy and I was feeling particularly uninspired. I started to get that headache you get after you haven’t left the house in days and all you’ve been breathing has been stale air. I figured it was time for a temporary departure.

As I walked through the baggage claim area I heard Maury’s voice bark from the TV above. This particular show was about young professionals that have IBS and the particular problems encountered in the workplace. As I began to look up I tripped on the leg of a bench and gravity got the better of me. The fall was hardly graceful. On the way down I managed to knock over two women and man and squish a 4 year old.  I dragged myself up as quickly as possible and as chaos ensued I grabbed the first case I could and scurried away.

My normal ride home was not filled with the sweet sounds of oldies. I couldn’t listen to anything. All I did was replay that scene in my head over and over again. The faces, the stares, the judgements, that stupid kid, fucking Maury Povich! It was all too painful to think about but I couldn’t stop. This was the first time the darkness crept into my life since I quit the liquor store.

I was almost in tears when I entered my driveway and almost forgot the suitcase when I got out of the car. To be honest it was the furthest thing from my mind. I was halfway to the door before I remembered and had to turn back to retrieve the case. When I got inside I didn’t want to open it. I simply wasn’t in the mood. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and try to fall asleep. Always in search of that temporary departure.

The Written Word, Features, Analyzing Albert

Analyzing Albert part 5

No Comments 06 October 2011

After a half hour I realized that my attempts at snoozing were futile so I decided to take a peak in the suitcase. Besides, I really didn’t have anything better to do. As I flipped the case open it was like a million kisses from angels fluttered on my face. The case smelled so good and was flawlessly organized. Shoes perfectly polished to the point where the glint of the light ricocheting off the shoe made me squint. The underwear and undershirts were perfectly folded into 4×4 squares neatly arranged by pair. To the left were the shirts. They were the most beautiful button down shirts I have ever seen. Majestic. It was obvious the gentleman that owned this case was a cut above the rest because these shirts weren’t just ripped from the closet. They were carefully taken out of their dry-cleaned boxes and arranged with the cardboard still holding the creases and a razor-sharp collar. The ties lay underneath the shirts tightly wrapped in tissue. The colors of the ties were so vibrant they made me sweat just holding them.  I had never seen clothes like this in real life, I had only read about them in the Sears catalogue.

The tragic memories of the fall were further away than God. I flipped on my clock radio and began to dress in the underwear, socks and shirts. Dion and the Belmonts serenaded me as I danced around the room. I kept posing in the mirror with different tie and shirt combinations. The only problem was I had only officially tied a tie once and it was back in my childhood so I could hardly remember the procedure. I decided clothes this beautiful deserved a proper full Windsor so I sat down next to the case and was determined to spend however long until I remembered how to do it.

As I sat there, jostling my neck and head back and forth I noticed that the case still had a fairly large bulge on the top flap. I couldn’t comprehend what could possibly make this day any better and as I fumbled with the zipper my mind was racing about a million thoughts per second.

The suit was radiating. I’m not sure if it was the late afternoon sun peering through my window, the silk undies against my privates or just my own euphoria but the suit was glowing. I sat there for what seemed like hours just admiring the craftsmanship. I almost didn’t want to put it on but how could I resist? I managed to put a mediocre knot in my tie and decided I would figure that part out later. I slipped into the pants and jacket and sauntered across the room to the mirror. Frankie Valli’s “Donna” came on the radio.

As soon as I looked into the mirror I was stunned. Honestly I almost forgot I was looking at myself. I really did.  For the first time in my life I was completely happy with the man looking back at me. Not only happy but impressed! I felt invincible in that suit. Everything just felt right and I began to waltz around my room listening to the chorus. As I danced around I realized that I wished grey suit girl was in my arms. Then I got sad. But as I turned around I caught another glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized that I was a handsome devil. I was sure all I had to do was show up at the coffee shop tomorrow and show off my new look and she would fawn all over me.

At that moment I decided I didn’t want to go to the airport anymore. I didn’t want to change from person to person week to week. I was finally happy and comfortable. I spent the rest of the day cleaning the house then went to bed early so I could get a good night’s sleep to look my best. It had been a long time since I went to bed looking forward to the next day.

The Written Word, Analyzing Albert

Analyzing Albert – The Final Movement

No Comments 05 October 2011


That night I slept with the windows wide open so the smell of the bread baking from the café would awaken me. For once, I was ready for the sun when it started shining and I started shining right back. I showered and dressed as soon as possible. Often times grey suit girl only came in for a coffee to go and I didn’t want her to miss me. When I walked through the door I felt like a virgin. When the girl behind the counter gave me my coffee she looked beautiful. Almost angelic. I took my coffee and grabbed a paper and retreated to the corner seat perfectly positioning myself with a view of the entire place.

All the usual characters came in, but they didn’t have the same piss yellow hue. There was something inherently different about them. The man in his too-tight brown pants didn’t remind me of shit. The brown seemed to resemble a deep colored chocolate reminiscent of a Hershey Bar. And I think he might have even lost some weight. I guess things were on the up and up for everybody.

While I sat there and waited an odd looking man came in. I didn’t recognize him and was fairly certain he had never come to the café. At least not on my watch. He was dressed ridiculously in jeans, sandals and a Hawaiian shirt. He sat down and ordered breakfast. The absence of grey suit girl started to concern me as 15 minutes turned into a half hour and a half hour into forty five minutes. Then I realized I had never come to the café this early before and by all estimations she was going to be right on time.

As I sat pretending to read the paper scanning the place to see how everyone reacted to my new look I caught the strange looking man staring at me a few times. At first I was nervous but he must have been admiring my new look. After all, I was stunning.

The chimes rang out and the door swung open and the heavenly breath of the lord blew my angel through the door. Grey suit girl was in my sights. She pretended to look around as she made her way to the counter but after a few steps she turned in my direction and gave me a smile that made my heart skip and beat and my palms sweaty. She was breath-taking. I couldn’t look away as she stood at the counter and all I could hear was “oooooh Don-na, ohhhhh Don-na”. I knew when she next turned around she would walk towards me and that would be the beginning of the rest of our lives together.

Just at that moment the record skipped and a wretched, almost satanic voice crept into my consciousness.

“ Where did you get that suit?”

I looked up and it was that absurd-looking man. Wow, I wanted to smack this insolent bastard for his rudeness. The audacity of him impeding on the moment that was going to change the rest of my life. I turned to him and said.

“If you would please step away sir, I’m expecting someone”

“No, I recognize you. You’re the fat bastard that fell on me at the airport yesterday. How could I forget? I ended up having to take those two women and that kid to the emergency room in my rental car.” He quipped.

“I’m sorry sir, but you must have the wrong person”. As I said this I could see grey suit girl getting her coffee and about to pay.

“Well may be” he replied. “But I doubt that it’s a coincidence that you showed up at the airport yesterday when I didn’t notice you on our flight. Now my suitcase is missing and you’re wearing what looks exactly like my clothes. So do me this favor. Look inside the inside left breast and see if you see the initials JWD on the inside pocket.”

I realized at that moment the smell of this man’s aftershave matched the kisses that greeted me yesterday afternoon when I flipped open that suitcase of treasures. I looked up and grey suit girl was paying. I couldn’t let her see me embarrassed like this. Especially not today. I fumbled to get up and pushed the man out of my way and made for the door. I could hear the man shouting ‘Stop!’ as I burst through the door. I looked back to see if he was gaining on me…

The brakes screeched out like a wild banshee.  The body was flung 15 feet up in the air and at least 30 feet up the road. Everyone rushed out of the café. The owner called the police and within minutes the ambulance was there scraping the remains off the street like a pancake being flipped to early.

There was no call to loved ones, no letters home or to work, just a new delivery to the morgue and a hell of a lot of people that got their luggage back.


© 2021 The Shade. Powered by WordPress.