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.

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Uncategorized

Flying Machine

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Categories
Funny and/or Strange

Explosive Bras Signal Love Connection

Bra-1Better be careful…you could put an eye out with that thing!

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/2979/20140127/think-japanese-bra-that-unhooks-when-woman-finds-true-love.htm

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Categories
Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like

Keeping With the Speculative Fiction Sub-Theme…

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Categories
Fiction Excerpt

Excerpt: Novel in Progress

Someone asked me about the novel in progress…here’s some:

It took both of them to drag me up from the hole, and from their grunts and curses  it wasn’t easy for them.  I had stopped struggling weeks before, and was paid for it with harder currency than when I’d fought back, but there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d walk docile, like a cow, to whatever was next.  Passive resistance was the better option,  although that brought the gnawing pleasure of my bare feet and ankles thumped against each concrete stair riser as they dragged me up, one thug under each arm.  My boots had been taken with my uniform—government property

At the stop of the steps they paused, waiting for the sentry outside, calling after her with additional profanity.  She wasn’t one of them—just one of those who stood by idly, day after day, doing what she was told, avoiding eye contact, complicit in their silence.  I can’t say that I blame her—or any of them—and had spent countless hours fixated on the question: would I do it again?  A better man than I certainly would.  A lesser man would lie and tell you he would.  I can’t say that I could. I’m not proud to admit it, but what’s pride but something someone stronger than you can take?

Tumblers spun inside the door, a bolt was thrown, and the armored entry swiveled open.  The goons and sentry exchanged more curses, and I was dragged to the right.  A turn to the left would have meant another visit with the Colonel, and another beating wrapped in a skin of interrogation.  The passage to the right led down a long hallway, through another armored door, and outside.  I could be headed for the stocks again, or the mudpit, the colonel’s preferred discipline—a pool of sopping mud into which a prisoner was tied spread-eagle and face up into the incessant rain. The mudpit was kept sodden, but not full, so a prisoner could relax as long as the rains were brief and widespread.  Prolonged showers filled the pool with slick mud, forcing the punished to crane his neck up and forward  in order to breath, for as long as it took for the rains to stop and the liquid to sink down into the sodden ground.

I much preferred the stocks, or the beatings for that matter.  Beatings lasted for minutes, then they left you alone.  It could rain here for a week straight.

“Hey there, Mikey’s awake,” Corporal Charkviani rumbled. Igor Charkvani, a perfect goddamn Igor if ever such a beast roamed.

Raul Cloutier laughed his exaggerated, hyena laugh. “We’re in trouble now, Private Space Command gonna is to get us.”

Charkviani, a leering, menacing coil of muscle and tendons, rumbled his amusement.  I imagined Cloutier, younger and smaller and ever ready to please, jumping up and down, clapping in satisfaction.

They had put the usual black bag over my head, bound tightly at the neck, ostensibly for safety—lest some maniac like me discover their true identities.  Of course, they insisted on tormenting and teasing me, with a regular selection of violence, all the while keeping a running dialogue in their distinctive, heavily accented voices. I held faith that the time would come that I could repay their hospitality.  In fact, I lived for the moment.

They wore rain hoods and goggles

The bag came off my face.  I squinted into the deep gray skies as specks of rain fell upon my cheeks.  Though afraid to look up—the guards responded intensely to eye contact—I recognized our location immediately.  We stood at the threshold of the main gate, far from the hewn wood scaffold the Colonel had erected behind the administration building.  A pair of sentries stood on either side of the gate, stone-faced  in their narrow shelters—Clarke and Modobo, decent soldiers not known to be the Colonel’s lackeys, but not the sort to take a stand against him, either.  Like most of the unit, their sin was in pretending not to see, and staying silent when what they saw was unavoidable.  Still, I doubted they’d let their compatriots execute me, at least not in the middle of the fort.

They had no problem with one last thrashing, however.  Charkvani and Cloutier wasted no time…

Categories
Fiction Excerpt

Novella Excerpt: Sharp Del

   Sierra Exif JPEG

“Come on out of there, you motherless—.” Sharp Del’s voice died beneath a deeper, more malevolent rumble.

“My mother,” the hulking Brin stepped out from the shadows behind him, “was very young.”

Sharp Del whirled around with startled fury, swinging the heavy ball gun a bit further from his body than he ought to have, a matter of centimeters.  The Brin snatched it in one huge, four-fingered paw and twisted it away to the snap of human fingers.  Sharp Del wailed.

“My mother could not provide me with the privileges customary to a male of our line.  My acceptance to the Warrior’s Third Creche honors both her sacrifice and our shared blood.”

“Just—an—expression,” Sharp Del moaned, recoiling, clutching his broken hand close to his chest.  “Wasn’t even talking to—Gods!” He wailed, “—to you.”

“Ah,” Vanya glowered, jabbing the broken ball gun into Sharp Del’s chest.

“Sad for you that I heard.”  His left arm swung, catching the human in the jaw.  Bones snapped and gave way, teeth broke free from infection-ravaged gums, beneath the blow.  Sharp Del staggered backwards and nearly righted himself, then his knees gave and he crumpled to the ground in a heap.

Vanya stood there a moment, inspecting the seized weapon.  A human-scaled trigger guard rendered it unusable to him, and it’s generally poor condition made it worthless for trade.  He removed the cartridge, scooped up a handful of sand, and poured it into the loading channel, then worked the action several times, until it jammed.  He dropped the ruined weapon beside Sharp Del.

He turned back to the cabin and shouted.  “Get out here, you motherless serpent!” He bellowed.

Half a minute later the door swung open and Qualm emerged, dragging his damaged leg.  His left arm was tied close to his chest in a makeshift sling.  His right hand clutched a steel fireplace poker.

“Serpent?” He asked. “Warrior’s Third Creche?”

The Brin shrugged. “You people,” he sniffed, “you eat that shit up like pudding or raspberries.”

“Pudding?”

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
Journal

U.F.O.–My Gateway Science Fiction Drug

interceptors_readyI can remember playing Star Trek when I was awfully small, maybe 6 or 7, with my friend Dan, who was Spock to my Kirk. Every once in a while, this weird kid named Jimmy McKelvy visited his grandparents on the next block over and he would play Bones–he had this awesome Phaser toy that fired little plastic disks that I’m pretty sure would have blinded one of us.  Jimmy was a soft little kid–soft spoken, softly built, and from some other town.  He made us a little uncomfortable, but he had that Phaser.

https://oldroadapples.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/1657f-phaser4.jpg

Everyone knows Star Trek, but not everyone knows the show that was actually my gateway vice into the world of Science Fiction, the one that set the seed that wouldn’t germinate until my mid-twenties, after too much time in musty lecture halls  studying Literature–with a capital “L”…you know: Lit-or-ah-chore.

That was U.F.O.  Remember it?  A lot of folks don’t. Brought to you by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, the folks who made marionettes into action heroes in shows like Thunderbirds, (the hilarious  Team America: World Police is a Thunderbirds parody by the creator of South Park), UFO was a cross between a soap opera and some pretty edgy (for television arond 1970, anyway) and occasionally dark Sci-Fi.  It revolved around a secret military outfit called SHADO that was leading the clandestine struggle against an ongoing Alien invasion.  The effects were primitive, but the models were cool and remain influential after more than 40 years, the stakes were high, and…the lunchboxes were the best ever.

I wanted one.  I desperately wanted the U.F.O. lunchbox, but my mom called No Deal.  My mom is a sweetheart, but she tends to give people things that she wants them to have, rather than the things they want to have or more specifically, the things she’d want to get if she was you.  A few years ago, for example, when the RZR scooters with the skateboard wheels were cool, my kids wanted them for their birthday. Mom had her own ideas, because scooters were very different when she was a kid, so she bought two of these:

I wanted the U.F.O. lunchbox.  My mom always loved Charlie Brown–she’s a lot like Charlie Brown, actually, and she bought me Snoopy. And Woodstock.  Snoopy and freaking Woodstock, and not even in metal.  I got bright, yellow plastic.  Several girls in my first grade class had the same lunchbox.  Snoopy.  Jesus, Mom–really?

So, I stumbled onto this blog a few moments ago…and it all came flooding back.

misc_ufo_lunchbox_a_NZ05665_L UFO Lunch Box 1 IMG_0411 IMG_0410

Tell me that’s not the greatest lunch box ever.  I still want it.

There is a great fan site for this series:

http://www.ufoseries.com/index.html

And this is pretty cool, too:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/modern_fred/sets/72157605209464362/with/2174567287/

And don’t buy this for your little boy–it will not only scar him for life, but turn him into an Adult Onset Science Fiction Junky. You don’t want that.  Trust me.  I own the complete DVD box set.

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Seriously.  I still haven’t forgiven her.

Categories
Uncategorized

The Big Truck (excerpt)

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This picture respectfully stolen from http://www.reid.org/~dreid/89suburban/notes_on_truck/thoughts.htm

The Big Truck (excerpt from a short story, circa 1990)

A door slams and a key twists in the ignition of a big, new capable American machine. None of that third world bullshit, we’re talking Eight bedroom-sized cylinders displacing more than six liters in a gurgling rumble of power shouting of fundamental inconsistencies, hell, it’s goddamned hypocrisy to I digest so much carbon fuel in getting to the wild places I’m aiming to get to. And I don’t care.  To hell with consistency; it is the mask of the uninteresting soul, the warm, smothering blanket of the tamed mind: too much about being correct, responsible, intentional, when we should be flying full bore towards living for good, wild lives.
It may very well be that I am lacking hormonally something, needing three hundred-odd horses to power me, but those dainty little Asian fuel miser machines doesn’t cut it (I have had one, loved the zip but loathed the coffin-like fit my build demanded).  It could just be that I was raised on toy cars and trucks.  Whatever the case, there is something magic in the early morning growl of an idling big block V-8 engine.
I like that fact that it practically begs to be let loose to flatten the teeming knots of Hondi and other bullet shaped knatmobiles out there.  This machine, on the highway, is like walking the park with a vampiric Irish Wolfhound on the end of the leash.  Power to spare.
The assembled corps of Highway patrolmen wait ahead, their microwave beams slow-roasting innocents from over hills, behind bridge abutments, around blind curves.  We will tempt them presently, joining in the mass of sensible speeders bravely playing political out on the roads, defying the revenue fishers and legislators fat on insurance lobby kickbacks.  From here in Pittsburgh to the border it will be bad, Pennsylvania being a wonderful state except for its archaic clinging to the 55mph barrier.  Great yellow signs greet visitors: Pennsylvania Maximum Speed Limit is STILL 55mph!!  Might as well erect an afterward, a new slogan.  Pennsylvania, backwards-assed and proud of it….