Mandatory Reading

Under a tree, in a place filled with letters and numbers written on granite, there is a modern remake of a table that sat outside of a coffee shop in a Hemingway novel. The benches are round, just like the top. It’s covered with leaves in the fall and spider webs in the summer.

I light candles and place them on top of a couple granite stones whose letters and numbers bring back such great memories. When I’m sure that the flames are burning true, hidden from the gusts of wind that whip up from the nearby creek, I wipe cobwebs or yellow leaves and sit down on one of those rounded benches, in front of a table that connects me to a mandatory reading assignment in an English Lit class.

I feel a soul southing voice that I haven’t heard in nearly 20 years. It was in the background back then, on a voicemail I saved for months. Someone else was leaving the message, but I could hear him yelling in the background, “give him the other number! Give him the other number!”

I didn’t return that call. It still fucks with me a little. Knowing I missed out on my chance for that one last opportunity to let the sound of his words fill my ears through the phone, it’s never gone away. I guess that’s why I still go sit at that table. It’s a fictional setting, giving me the perfect place to keep re-writing the real story.

— leest1 —


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Note to Self

You know those letters we always think about writing to our younger selves… I wrote one:

Lee Stone,

It’s going to be a roller coaster. The seatbelt will break, and you’ll feel yourself being thrown from the ride. Grab on to something. Let your feet fly out. Let the pee run down your leg… but don’t let go.

The problems never really disappear, but I figured out how to deal with them in healthy ways. You’ll be happy. Your relationships will be meaningful. You are going to be okay. Have fun when you can, just keep holding on to that roller coaster.

I just want you to know that it won’t always be so hard, or so sad. You’re doing something right. I’ll catch you in our mid-30’s. We’ll hop on a new ride.

You’ll have 5 nieces, they’re all adorable. You’ll spend your days writing, painting, making music, making videos, hiking, and playing with that bluetick hound you’ve always wanted. Her name is Linda Mae, and reminds me a lot of Little Ann from “Where the Red Fern Grows.”

I love you,

Lee Stone

P.S. That book is by Wilson Rawls. Read it. Read “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coehlo too.


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Joey Mendoza

I couldn’t get there. I was chest to the ground on a dirt-cheap motel deck. I’d dropped to that position because I’d heard the sound of death ring out 5 or 6 times. I knew it was gunfire. I knew that someone might need help. I knew CPR.

When I got to my feet and looked over the rail, a black car was speeding away. Someone down on the sidewalk had bullet holes in them. I acted quickly, told the friend who was with me to call 911, and ran down the hallway. I ran down a flight of stairs. People were outside of their rooms, standing in front of open doors. They all looked like zombies.

I couldn’t get there because I froze in that moment. The eyes of a woman made contact with mine. She had an arm wrapped around one of her children, the other hand covering her mouth, and tears in her eyes like she was sitting in the crowd at a funeral.

Her presence didn’t scare me, knowing why she was crying did. I knew I’d turn the corner at the end of the motel parking lot to find a bloody person nearing death. I knew that if I was the first one to them, I’d have to give mouth-to-mouth through moans of blood. I knew that I’d be pressing on a chest and staring at internal organs. I knew that person would probably die in my hands.

I got my feet to move, though they felt like cement. I could have run the distance in 10 seconds, but it seemed like it took all day to walk there. When I made it to the street, I saw a young boy laying on his back. Two bloody bullet holes and moans of pain caught my attention right away. A man my age was performing CPR. A woman I think of as the boy’s mother pressed a hoodie against his wounds, screaming through tears for him to stay awake.

I stood 15-feet away and just watched it happen. The life left his body shortly after paramedics and police arrived. The only medical attention he received was from his mother, and from the man my age performing CPR.

I know that he was 12-years old, on his way home from football practice, a few days away from his first game. I’ll never know if I could have saved that kid though, if I’d just been able to run through the fear, if the thought of him dying in my hands hadn’t prevented me from trying to save him.

Rest in peace Joey Mendoza… I’m sorry that I couldn’t get there.

— Lee Stone —


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Everyone has this view of the universe that is a little off. We’re all told that we stand on a planet which rotates around the sun, which rotates around some other shit, which rotates around some really giant shit. It makes us feel small.

What we fail to realize is that we are the universe. The bodies we’re killing with alcohol and too much work are just like the Earth that we’re killing with consumerism and morning commutes. Our hearts, our blood, our vascular system, and the little tiny cells that float through them… If we zoom out with our lens to look really close, we’d see that the lakes, streams, rivers, oceans, and raindrops are exactly the same thing.

These nervous systems run by our abnormally large brains, and the mossy root systems that connect plant life in a rainforest… same shit.

These bodies we dwell in are beautiful planets. The people we see every day, like clockwork, they are our solar system. The places we choose to venture, the roads we drive, the couch we sit on, those places are our orbit.

Which means that just like me… you’re a really big deal.

— Lee Stone —


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I don’t want to hurt an old man. I want to find a young man, full of himself and prone to violence. I know only his first name, and that he lived in San Diego county 32 years ago. I know the inside of his house like I was standing in it right now though. I figure that’s the best place to look. It’s easy to get there. I’ve done it so many times before. Finally able to take my grown self back… I’ll just close my eyes.

What I find is a man who targets a single mother, offers her a home. I find a man who targets her young son, aiming every abuse available at that little kid.

When I walk in this time, with my man strength and my built up rage, and I see the unimaginable, I don’t just stop it from happening. I beat the life out of that man.

In my revenge fantasy, I use my bare hands to break his bones. The momentary pleasure I get from hearing the moans of pain as my kicks break his ribs are well worth a life in jail. I’m willing to die for that feeling. Go ahead, hang me afterward.

He waits for death until I slam his face into the sidewalk a thousand times. It flattens like a pancake and drips blood everywhere. He begins to look like the monster in a horror movie.

I kick and stomp him some more, just to make sure all of his bones are broken. When they stop snapping, I shove a giant spiked baseball bat right up his asshole, twist it around, and ask him if it feels really good. I tell him that I’m doing it out of love, that this is what Jesus wants.

That’s when he dies. His last words are mumbled pleas for help, like someone is holding a hand over his mouth to prevent him from screaming.

So, yeah… Fuck You George!

— Lee Stone —


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Roadmaps from Lee Stone on Vimeo.

I’m going to make a roadmap. There won’t be any freeways or streets marked though… just bridges, buildings, mountains, and valleys drawn by crayons. There will be a big red “X” in the bottom corner. I’m going to label that thing “LOST,” all caps, highlighted in blue.

Then, I’ll take a green sharpie and start scribbling like a toddler would, filling in the whole page with wild turns, magical zigzags, and unexpected leaps to other places. It will circle back to some of the same spots 2 million times.

There won’t be anything else, no destination, no finish line. I’ll run the very last mark straight off the edge of the map. I’ll fold it up and carry it in my back pocket forever. That way, when I start feeling lost in life, I’ll look at that thing and know that I’m exactly where I need to be.

— Lee Stone —

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A Rusty Old Oil Drum

I saw this documentary about chimpanzees in a physical anthropology class once. I should have put it together then, but I didn’t.

This group of primates was lead by a two-year old male. He wasn’t bigger, faster, stronger, or smarter even. He just found a rusty old oil drum in the woods one day and hit that thing with a big stick. All the other monkeys were scared of the noise, and that guy became king of the jungle. He’d just carry that thing around like, “do what I tell you or I’ll hit this freakin drum with my tree branch.”

So, I’m walking with my puppy the other day, and I see the flash of a traffic signal camera as someone fails to catch a yellow light. I start thinking to myself, “look at all this shit we’ve been able to do with bipedalism and opposable thumbs. Walls, fences, buildings, roads, traffic signals with cameras attached to them. This is a really fucked up natural environment for a primate.”

I put it all together right then. That traffic camera, that yellow light, that road with dotted lines on it… it’s all a rusty old oil drum and a big stick. And we’re all just monkeys, doing what that chimpanzee tells us to do because we’re scared of the loud noises he makes.

— Lee Stone —


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