Categories
Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like Short/Micro/Flash Fiction

Sarah In The Morning

20731_1351607707108_4432096_nIt was a cold, October morning at the Super 8 just off exit 337 and things were about to go, well, the way things tend to go.

The detritus of a night gone wonderfully wrong lay about us: A crumpled bag of NASCAR-themed barb-e-cue Fritos, a spent bottle of Yukon Jack, a crumpled patriot-blue camisole and a pair of Jimmy Chou pumps that cost more than my vintage Impala–one under the chair in the corner, the other dangling from the lampshade beside the TV.

I lay on the bed, pulling deep off a wrinkled Gauloise, absently tracing my hands over the swollen bite marks on my thighs and abdomen,  when the bathroom door clicked and swung halfway open, releasing a cloud of steam.  I grinned, rolled off the bed, stepped on a beer cap and almost knocked over an open, half-eaten styrofoam take- home box of ribs and gravy-soaked fries from Applebees, limping to the door to watch as she did her lips, the heavy coat of eyeliner.  Her bright red dress hung from a hanger on the towel rack–an open bottle of Smirnoff on the sink, hair of the dog.

She looked so beautiful, in the steam; I raised my phone to snap a picture.  She tried to block me, but too late.  There were enough pictures of her in the word, she’d said once before. Modest, to a fault.

“You can’t.” She shook her head. “I can’t. Not the picture. Not us. Never again.”

“You said that the last time.”

“There’s too much at stake.  I’m not getting any younger, and the money won’t always be like it is now,” she sighed.  “My family. America. They need me more than you do.”

“Leave it all.”

“It’s too late. I’ve already called them.”

I looked up towards the door even as the shape of a large, black vehicle skidded to a stop beyond the worn, gauzy draperies.  A second later, the door burst open and two large, glowering men burst through, the first with a blackjack in his gloved hands.

I whipped around for one last look. Her moist eyes were sad, but not sorry: determined, resolute.

So that’s how it was.

“You broke my heart,” I said, thumbing the SEND button on my phone.

“You betcha,” she smiled.  The blackjack swung down on the back of my neck, stars exploding in my skull, like the fourth of July, like the stars I’d touched in her aching, desperate embrace.

Categories
Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like Short/Micro/Flash Fiction

Cat People

I’m generally a dog guy, but this gem from Tumblr is irresistible.

Awesome cat

 

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Categories
Funny and/or Strange Short/Micro/Flash Fiction video

The Polyphonic Spree: Lithium

So you come home for a visit and your mom is hovering at the door, tears ringing her red eyes, cheeks stained with mascara, and she’s crying, mumbling about someone from church seeing you on the interwebs and calling to tell her, not wasting any time about either.  Your dad is scowling four steps behind her, white-knuckling it,  his lower lip quivering the way it does when something real bad has crawled up his ass and died.  He’s serious as about it. But what?

Your mom says, “We love you, you know we do.  Nothing will change that. Not ever. But we worry about you.”  And your dad, he nods; you kind of think maybe he doesn’t want to.  He’s rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, studying the vinyl floor tiles. He doesn’t seem to be breathing.

You don’t say a word.  Neither does mom.  He’s working up to something.  It’s best to wait it out.

An angry, white man yells and points in the direction of the camera.“It’s a cult,” He manages, finally. “You have to see that.  You joined a goddamned stupid skirt-wearing airport cult.”

You look at your feet: Birkenstocks. Shit–should have seen this one coming.  “It’s not a cult.”

“I know a cult when I see one.”

“It’s a band.  It’s a Rock and Roll band.  I play bass. You paid for the lessons.”

“Don’t try to turn this around on me, mister. Led Zeppelin was a band,” Dad says.  “The fucking Knack was a Rock and Roll band.  You’re in a goddamned cult.”

hall oates“Jeez, dad….”

Mom’s face brightens slightly.  She says, “Hall and Oates.”

You and dad both swing around and gawk, in elegant symphony, the sort of uncanny lunar coordination that makes Aunt Jenny cluck and remark about chips off the old block and spitting images.

“What?” You both ask.

“Hall and Oates was a band.”  She starts humming the tune of “Rich Girl.”

649ee00fec7353c67f5610166191a978“It’s not a cult.” You say, remembering that look on Dad’s face when Daisy-Petunia Wenglikowski screeched into the driveway, skidded right off the concrete into the lawn. Panicked, you caught your toe on the shoulder strap of her gym bag as you stepped out, too scared to even peck her cheek goodbye, and tripped and fell on your face as you scrambled from the side doors of her vintage microbus, her black polka dot panties still warm in your back pocket.

“One free pass,” he’d growled. “If you ever come back to this house stoned like some cheese-eating high school boy and you’re done.  Hear me?”  You nodded, grass between your teeth, and not the kind your dad was all hellfired up about.

“And tell that hippie not to drive on my lawn or I’ll turn give name to my buddy on the vice squad.”

Your dad didn’t know anyone on the vice squad, and you weren’t stoned that day. Daisy-Pete was a cheerleader, for the love of god, and her banker father had paid upwards of ten grand for the restored bus.

And you didn’t join a cult.

“If it looks like a duck,” Dad rasped through hyperventilation, “And if it quacks like a duck….” Dad shouts.

Categories
Journal Short/Micro/Flash Fiction

Untouchable Me

untouchables5

From a dream I had…I’m with some cool government white-hat cats in this purple old Ford panel van, something out of The Waltons via American Graffitti with slick modern Goodyears and the lush power rumble of a primo big block Chevy engine under the hood.  The Feds are dressed to the nines: sharp suits and fedoras, vests, pointed shoes, but not effete: we’re talking button sleeves and half windsors, none of that Kevin Costner Armani crap–we’re going full bore Robert Stack.

The_UntouchablesWe are moving in on the bad guys, who we know are staked out in a reservoir dog warehouse down a narrow alley, mostly shaded but for the weak glow of a single street light.  I’m in the back.  A man who would be Elliot Ness is driving with a beautiful woman from a soap opera riding shotgun–and Elliot, he drives that gaudy machine right down the alley and parks it so close to a black limo we’ve been shadowing, I say “They’ll spot this car in a heartbeat, it will stand out too much.”

And Elliot says, “we’re counting on it.”

Then, as soon as he said it, a wedge of gangsters appears from a building, moving towards us.

“Just stay cool kid, this is all part of the show.”

So it’s a setup, a sting.  Elliot and the soap opera shotgun queen step out to greet the gangsters–but I don’t know the plan.  Stay cool, kid, she stage whispers.

I sit there, arms crossed, try to look tough but ready for action–the body guard waiting in the car as a sign of good faith to the gangsters.  I hear Elliot saying, “Just to show you my respect, Louie, I left my muscle in the car.”  Gangster eyes peer in through the windows at me, the enemy muscle.  I nod, try to make like a volcano: cool on the outside, ready to blow.

It is all about good will, and the gangsters ask me out of the car–they need to check me for weapons. I’m unarmed.  They want to x-ray the packages.

Packages?

There are packages in the back of the panel van, three of them.  I should know which to give them but I don’t.

And then the x-ray.

And then they find the gun….

Categories
Fiction Excerpt Short/Micro/Flash Fiction

Fiction Excerpt (Rough Draft in Progress: Olya’s Warhol Night

SilverCloudsDC2

Try to ignore the issues with verb tense–these reflect unresolved narrative decisons in the longer form version and are not meant to imply that Olya exists on three different but simultaneous temporal planes, although now that I think on it….

Wake up at noon, legs trembling, back muscles slip-knotted, drawing tighter with every slight movement, something like arthritis in my elbows, arms weak. Cotton mouth—carefully, artfully extract my limbs from Olya’s—she’s sprawled like a squid across the mattress, a long-legged, mad, booth-tanned bleach blonde Czechoslovakian squid with maroon nail polish. But by the gods, if squids had legs like that the sea would be clogged with fishermen.

I should write that down, but I’m parched and bloated at the once, bloated and parched–parched to the point I’m not tempted to bury my face in her thigh and bite her awake—nearly tempted, I say. To the bathroom—mold and cobwebs, no heat, a garden hose duct-taped to the faucet, the shower curtain stapled to the ceiling in a gross approximation of those classy suspension showers that hang inside a vintage clawfoot tub.

Artists.

I piss a gallon, bend down to suck cold, crisp water right from the tap. There’s no cup, but no problem: this is it, the ticket, the cure; it tastes like rust and chlorine, as good city water is supposed to taste. I pull back the window shade, let a shaft of daylight blaze into shadows, burn through my retina, skewer my brain. I see gray spires, yellow bridges, green heights.

That’s right: Pittsburgh.

Is that the dim future, waking each morning to hose down the fuselage and change fluids, hazily wondering where the hell yesterday left off?

Not yet.

Last night was the opening of the Andy Warhol Museum. We’d come out of the woods, drove three hours, gorged on goi cuon and mind-bending pho served up by a brusque, one-armed guy in a dismal Vietnamese joint across town, half expecting him to run us out of there two steps ahead of a waving cleaver, then drank ourselves silly at the Rosa Villa, last bulwark of the Genovese family, where the bartender kept passing out free rounds while shady guys filed in and out of a back room.  Olya slides around on her bar stool like she’s Rita Hayward, crossing and recrossing those legs, blouse dropped down to there.
Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin on the juke box.

Exclusively.

It’s almost too much.  I feel like I ought to be in a suit, wingtips, a brazen necktie.

Each time Olya proclaims she was done drinking, the tender lays down another Rolling Rock, looks down her shirt, and she’d sigh, Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in! And take a long pull off the cold, green bottle.

At some point, we wandered outside and took our place near the front of a thousands-faced throng that backed at least two blocks down the street, possibly all the way to the horizon, where we lingered until the doors opened. Brand Knight found us shortly after, trolling the line like a Rocky Horror cast0ff, vintage black mod suit—narrow lapels, tapered pant legs, and a bright red bow tie.

He’s got wingtips, I notice, black and white patent leather tuxedo shoes polished to mirror-like reflectivity, mutton-chop sideburns neatly trimmed, long autumn straw hair pulled into a pony tail.

“Hello, loves!” He grabbed us by the elbows and pulled us out of line. “You hardly look like farmers at all.”

“Thanks, I suppose.” What to do but laugh?  Olya in the black dress. Yep, that black dress, 4” heels, the stockings with seams down the back. I’ve gone with the blue-black sharkskin jacket and skinny black tie, both circa 1967, inherited from Uncle George but, luckily enough, presently on a fashion rebound.

Brand led us in through the back door, armed us with pilfered press passes, and pointed us to the freight elevator.

We were there until five in the morning, most of it a haze of soap boxes and mad Marilyn canvases, Giant Mao leering from the wall—communist maximus, the last grand Caesar–

Mao Series Andy Warhol

In the room of Silver Clouds, white walls with a sky of bobbing chrome-like mylar balloons, Brand was telling us how the same artist made these balloons who had made the original peices for Warhol.  I didn’t listen much, intent on trying to feel something from the images of the floating silver pillows.  Max wandered by, muttering “art ou fromage” and Olya was carefully pushing on of a handful of the balloons which hovered below the ceiling, some chest high, some near the floor.  Brand explained that they were still working on the best mixture of helium to oxygen, that all the balloons should be hovering around the ceiling.

A pack of feral adolescents giggled through, kicking and punching the clouds with fierce determination.  Olya kicked the loudest of the bunch in the shin, hard, and hissed a stage whisper that drew every eye within earshot.

Uciekaj! Pieprzony sączące infekcje psów świnia!

The whole bunch of them skittered away.

“One of the balloons,” Brand continued, “floated out of the room, down the hall, and somehow ended up in one of the elevators.  When the elevator was called down to the lobby, it’s doors opened and out floated the balloon.”

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” Max chanted, but quiet so that only I could hear him within the din of the opening night crowd.

Categories
Short/Micro/Flash Fiction

An Hour From Boise (another excerpt from an abandoned story)

Motorcycle_CopThere’s this pit of the stomach feeling, I know you know it, when you blaze over the crest of a slope on the highway with the Pogues blaring Streams of Whiskey from a dozen speakers and that big block Chevy 454 thundering backup, and the unmistakable profile of a Ford Police Interceptor crouches on the median like a sullen lion. There’s no time to brake, no place to go, the speedo jiggling somewhere north of ninety.  You reel it in causally, will he buy it that the beast got away from you—and your normally grandmother-like driving—and what about those hippie-dippy girls in the backseat, stinking of patchouli and peanut butter.  The pretty one, the one with the freckles in her cleavage and the ice blue eyes, is snoring like a drunk.  It’s likely she is, in fact, still drunk—and god knows what else.  You don’t even want to know what she’s got in her purse, or if she’s got a prescription for that, and if so, what for?  Maybe it won’t even matter.

Categories
Short/Micro/Flash Fiction

Henry’s Morning Visit

Hey, Babe. Two minutes after I talked to you there’s a knock on the door.  It’s not your pa, looking for Sophie’s bags, or the milk man, but Heather with Henry and his car seat in tow.
It’s 7:42.
Hey, I say.  I’m dressed in my silvery long john pants and ratty white mock tee.  Sophie said they looked like superman pants.  Who’s the Super Action Hero now, Henry?
Hello, Heather bleats cheerfully.  Here we are, Henry has his little seat.  He’s all ready.
Uh, okay.  Um–did he, uh, have breakfast or anything?
Nope, we just packed him up for school and pushed him out the door.
Can I give him Cheerios?
Sure, whatever.  He likes Cheerios. He likes anything.
You must have an eight o’clock?
Yep, and they’re doing presentations today so I gotta run.  Thanks.
It’s 7:46.
We get the boy unbundled, he mentions all the boxes.
We’re getting ready for decorating for Christmas, I say.
We did our decorating already.  We did it on the church day.
I love that: the church day.
Anna clomps down the stairs, cute as a bunny in that new red sweatshirt, though her brow is fairly furrowed, like the tiller of the land.  You know, the one with the gnarled hands, clutching his rake?
She whispers to me, as an aside. Henry’s here?
As if he’s the hundred pound gorilla hunched in the corner.
As if he can’t hear.
Yep.
Why is Henry here?
He’s going to replace Sophie for the weekend, I explained.  He’ll be like the son I never had.
She grins: Right.
Mike calls around 8:00.
Charles, I’m really sorry.  I thought it was 8:30 and time for school when I called.
I told him no problem, he’s eating Cheerios.  I figured I’d just roll with it.
Henry was great.  He seemed to actually enjoy the departure from his normal schedule.  He re-bundled himself without a problem and the girls helped him into his car seat while I brushed snow from the windows with the porch broom.  I watched him in the rear view mirror, smiling all the way to school. Good kid. Good start to the day.