16 December 2010


There's a knocking going on. I've tried to ignore it. Squashed a pillow over my head to suffocate it, but I can't get away from it. It taps through the threads of the sort of thing that an ex could do and that is follow you wherever you dared to flee. It's driving me crazy and even though I try to ignore, it insists on having its fun as it beats on my door.

It sounds like when the dice are thrown across the floor, kinda soft like that but then a little more louder and sturdier like knuckles on oak or the drop of a token on a polished bar counter. I guess what it amounts to is that no one else can hear it, so they've told me I'm little loose up there and there's nothing to fear, just to steer clear of hallucinogens and especially the old whiskey and the occasional beer.

I can still feel it thumping through my feet and the bottom of my padded seat, this tenderizing-meat-sound, that's all in the air and swirls around till I'm thinking there's just going to be nothing left…

Ah. So we finally meet, Death.

Photo credit: fieryn from morguefile.com

"Frankie's Girl" #Fridayflash

Me and the boys suited up in civvies and strutted off the carrier in style, looking to find some fine dames that loved GI's. After taking a stroll to a pay phone, we split a cabbie to downtown where the dance halls smiled out at us in a blaze of neon and sidewalk callers, all touting a drink or two on sale--that one there had ladies' night, and this one here had cold beer on tap.

It was before the television set showed up in society enough to keep us from looking at each other and just stare at that boob tube, suckin' down Bloody Mary after dry Martini. My pals knew I had some crazy tastes, and that included girls. I liked them spicy and fast; smoky-eyed, red-lipped, leggy blondes, with their pretty little skirts and their carefully coiffed hair. I enjoyed the heck out of mussing that hair-do up time after time.

This girl was different. I almost tripped over my own tongue, even though she wasn't a blonde. She was a sultry brunette and wore her hair down over her shoulders, a blue ribbon in her hair to match her eyes exactly. Ivory skin, untouched by age.

I felt like all the air had been sucked out of me and replaced with furnace exhaust. She was a pretty girl, heck pretty didn't even scratch the surface of who she was. I fell back off of my stool, staggering around like a newborn calf, with hands comprised of all thumbs and a tongue as dry and swollen as last month's stockings. Somehow I managed to reach her side where she perched on the red velor-topped-chrome barstool. The bartender smirked at me and retreated to the opposite end of his work station, content to watch me bungle this meeting up from a safe distance, far beyond the potential fallout radius. I mumbled something not in the way of thanks and rested my elbows on the bar, my brain chugging in high steam, desperately scrambling for something smooth to say.

What would Frankie say? I mumbled to myself, unaware that it was also out loud.

“If you're gonna flirt sailor, best to start with talkin' to me instead of yourself.”

She turned her body towards me, uncrossing and crossing her legs again, a gay blue scarf tied casually around her swan neck, peering at me through the sweetest blue eyes I ever did see.

“Care for a drink?” I asked, smacking dry lips before she shoved her drink towards me instead. I hesitated, eying the twin, slim red straws poking up out of it.

“Go ahead sailor. I ain't got cooties. Not any you should be worryin' about anyway. You look like you need it more than me.”

I almost could hear my neck creak as I screwed my head up and down, grinding my teeth in anticipation of some crazy dame's drink. My smile must've clued her in. It was rum and Coca-Cola.

“It's been a long time since I've tasted that,” I said, and she waved it away when I tried to give it back.

“It's ladies' night sailor. In case you don't know, all my drinks are free.”

“All the girls get free drinks tonight?”

She shrugged and looked around us. She was the only dame in there, and we were surrounded by drifting clouds of smoke, and the sweet strains of jazz filtered in through a radio in the corner playing some late night show. I never heard it before, but never forgot it.

“I'm Doris,” she said and held out a delicate hand expectantly; it was the way we treated ladies back then, when they still wanted to be sweet delicate things for us to cherish and protect. I bent my head to kiss her cool skin, taking in a noseful of air to enjoy her scent.

“Is that Frankie?” she asked, jerking her hand out of mine to leave me blinking in surprise, a kiddish smirk spreading across her perfect cheeks, like she was up to something. She pulled me off my stool, suddenly on her feet.

“Dance with me sailor,” she said in a low purr close to my ear. I shook off a shiver.

“By the way I'm And—“

My words were stifled by her finger held against my lips.

And I don't need to know. And you don't need to tell, do you sailor?”

“Do you do this often?” I asked in a rush of breath, pulling her hand away from my mouth.

“Shh sailor—it's my song.”

Want to know what happened next? "Before Sunrise"

The Complete Work "Before Sunrise" A Completion

(Now if you read "Frankie's Girl", this is what happened afterwards...)

That Old Black Magic was playing on that radio and I could barely hear it, so she made a turn-it-up gesture to the bartender who couldn't stop staring at me, now that I'd broken the ice. Jealousy smoldered in his beady dark eyes. I almost stuck my tongue out at him, but Doris pulled me into a heated dance, and I was swirling her around me, her skirt blossoming over and over; the sweet smell of martinis and fancy Paris perfume, heady and bizarre, inscribing forever in memory of what a perfect girl could be. She was perfect, and she wanted me.
My pals knew better than pry me away from my new obsession and all but tiptoed past our huddled forms there in the darkest corner on their way out the door.
You got someplace to be tonight sailor?” she said, breaking our kiss to light a cigarette, her azure gaze intense in the dying of a bent match. She offered me a cigarette, and I accepted, even though I didn't smoke. I was willing to do just about anything to make sure the night never ended. We smoked and drank, and we talked about me. I don't think I learned much beyond her name and the fact that I was in love with her.
She had a car outside, a long black car, shine on the half-moon hubcaps and another place to kiss and feel what I hoped would be mine before sunrise.
After an hour of heavy petting, me wearing some of that blood-red lipstick, we were chased out of the parking lot and she drove us down to the dock, my hand creeping up her slender thigh. She smiled and parked behind the service building, and we slid over the leather interior of her car, our bodies tangled and slippery with sweat.
“I have to ship out tomorrow,” I said as we shared cigarettes and whiskey from her compact silver flask.
“I know,” she said, cutting those limpid pools of the bluest damn blue I'd ever seen at me. “Sometimes you just take a moment, y'know?”
“But I don't know a thing about you,” I said, hearing a whine enter my voice. I wanted to keep her close to me for always.
“I travel a lot,” she said finally, giving me a half-roll of her eyes and an innocent smile. “Chances are, I'll see you at least once more.”
I bit my lip and nodded, squinting at the brightening of the sky, like a slow light reluctant to wake up, and I just wanted to turn it off, fall back in her arms, and stay there.
I didn't. Instead, I stepped out of the car, ignoring the faint creak of the shocks relieved of my weight, shut the door, and leaned into the window.
“Bye Doris. I hope I see you again.”
She lit a cigarette, releasing a delicate plume of smoke from between her lips, red as apples in Washington.
“It's time for me to go,” she said, and nodded at me. I backed away from the window and strolled back down to the carrier, whistling a gay Sinatra tune, hands stuffed deep in my pockets.
The day was long, and I did my duties with a weary smile on my face as we sailed farther and farther away from shore. Doris. Doris. Doris.

My mind was branded with those ruby lips. Her silken fingertips. Her smoky breath, sweet with citrus. A day passed. Another day passed, and another still. The light she ignited in me burned slowly, dulling as the years passed, to a burning coal deep in my heart.

I finished my stint with the Navy and returned home to the states, where I met a sweet girl from Indiana named Joyce and married her. We started a family and life progressed beyond slow dances to the tinny notes drifting from a radio, to the point of sitting in a recliner, slack-jawed at whatever crime-thriller happened to be on television.
Still, I always kept Doris in my heart.
At sixty-seven, my smoking habit caught up with me, suddenly and violently, landing me in the Sisters of Mercy hospital. I had less than a month to live. Joyce came to see me as much as she could, but with the kids still living at home, her course was set. I lay propped up by pillows, my ruined lungs struggling to support my system and supply me with oxygen, sucking as deep as I could on the aerator.
The sounds of my pulse beeping over the monitor annoyed me, and I called for the nurse to put it on silent so I could sleep for the night. But it wasn't Kathryn the nurse that walked through my door. It was Doris, not a day older even though fifty years had passed.
“I told you that you'd see me again,” she said, that kiddish grin bringing tears to my eyes.
“Don't look at me like this Doris,” I said, though I was convinced she was obviously an apparition of a desperate dying brain.
She stepped forward, and my eyes took in her modern dress: royal blue, wrap-style to match those radiant azure irises. “You're a mess sailor,” she purred and stood at my side, her cold hand talking mine. I couldn't help but gaze longingly up at her.
“How?” I whispered.
“How am I here?” She smiled, her lips the same color as when I'd seen them last; her hair was still dark as a raven's wing, but shorter, with less curl. “I guess that is a hard question to answer. I could ask you why you're here,” she said, her blue eyes cutting left and right to take in the sterile surroundings.
“I'm dying Doris,” I said, dark anger descending upon me, unbidden. “I started smoking after I met you, and here I am. A lifetime later, I'm dying, old, and used up while you stand there just looking as pretty as you did the night I met you. Leave me alone Doris. Let me die in peace.”
She appeared to think, cocking her head in curiosity. “Are you in pain?”
“Thanks to the morphine? No.”
“No need to get sore, sailor,” she said, that adolescent grin creeping to her cheeks again. Seeing her here, at this age made me feel old and perverted. We couldn't have been more than seventeen back then.
“My name,” I gasped, “Is fuckin' Andrew, Doris, but you wanted to keep that knowledge secret. You never wanted to know my name. Why?”
Her gaze dropped to my hospital-issue blanket, somewhere between the color of ash and a robin's egg. She picked at a loose thread.
“Don't make this harder than it has to be, sailor. Everything will make sense. Come with me.”
She tore the IV tube and needle from my hand with a protest of sticky tape. I rose from the pillows, strangely invigorated by that touch, and found my feet before stripping off the heart monitor. The machine protested at once.

Nurse Kathryn rushed into room 203 to respond to a request from an old WWII veteran to silence the beeping by his bed, so when she heard the error tone coming from his doorway, she wasn't alarmed. That easy demeanor changed when her eyes fell on an empty bed. With a startled gasp, she wheeled around on rubber-soled sensible shoes and rushed back to the nurse's station.

I rode in silence as Doris drove the long, lean Cadillac towards an unknown destination. It no longer mattered where I was going. My vision dimmed as the lack of oxygen set in. She patted my thigh and assured me we'd be there soon. 'There' ended up being a little no place down by the stream and the power plant.
Her hand grazed across my face, day-old gray stubble registering every last sensation of her youthful skin on mine. I saw myself in her eyes: an old man, paper-thin wattle draped below sagging neck, the wrinkles in my cheeks, deep lines surrounding my lips. Lips that once carried her name with dignity and grace. I wasn't anywhere near her in age, and as her plush mouth pressed to mine like pillows over hard horn, I startled.
“Shh sailor,” she said, cooing in my ear to assure me. My mind reeled with the very wrongness of all of this.
“You knew me once,” she whispered. “In the backseat of my Cadillac. No need to be shy.”
“I could be your father,” I said in a raspy voice that couldn't be mine, but it was now. She pushed me towards nostalgia. Tears spilled over my cheeks and sank to the underside of my chin.
“You're not my father,” she stated, as if it were plain truth, which it was, but I was not swayed. My wife's mouth hadn't felt like Doris's in decades. My eyes were drawn to the curves beneath her blouse. My hands itched to take them. Hands with tissue-thin skin, littered with age spots from too many days in the sun. She took my hands in hers, and put them there for me. I hissed and snatched them away as if her breasts were a hot coal stove.
“I can't be the man you're thinking of Doris,” I said, “What are you doing here with me? Find another sailor and steal his heart.” I licked dry lips and shook my head. “Mine doesn't have much longer to beat.”
I glared at her in annoyance, but changed my tune when she took my head in her hands and sank little pinpricks into my neck, like kitten fangs. Fangs. I struggled against the initial drain, but my weak heart and lungs couldn't persist in the conflict.
Resigned, I leaned into her, my fingers numb and my mouth dry, until warm fluid splashed across my lips. I opened my eyes and blinked. Her face hovered over mine and I drank from a creamy swell of breast, only it wasn't milk, but blood.
“Vampire,” I gurgled, rivulets of red rushing down my chin. I swallowed. Passed out.
The day passed. One more day.

I awoke in a strange bed, sitting bolt-upright to feel for Joyce, or the IV stand, or anything familiar. In the distance, faint but familiar, That Old Black Magic played from a radio in the corner. My eyes caught the sight of my hands.
Hands young, sturdy skinned, free of spots or wrinkles; hands like a seventeen-year-old.


"Hive" #Fridayflash

The day that the United Nations decreed that the entire globe should have free access to the internet was touted as the finest achievement in history. Low-cost computing machines were delivered to villages and towns alike. The world rejoiced at the benefits of the Information Superhighway, but there were indisputable changes.

The differences were menial at first. Global social networking took the human race by storm, leading them to reveal things one couldn’t even tell the person they were sitting next to at work. Screen names became popular brands, with certain individuals quickly climbing the ranks of popularity. Every word was admired. Every link shared, enjoyed. Private videos of family outings were placed on public display in hopes that the number of views would exceed that of their neighbors.

The evening newspaper was the first victim of the New World, falling victim to the constant demand for news now, an impossible feat for a simple physical publication to fulfill. Television news felt the pressure next, and eventually armed their TV journalists with 24-7 webcams, issuing instructions to travel constantly, and switch off when sleep came. Prime-time television gave way to recordable programming, instant and on-demand to feed the hungering masses that desired a virtual library at their fingertips.

No longer were there longing glances, walks in the sunset, or just holding hands. Fathers no longer tinkered with the family car on Sunday, and moms no longer baked cookies. Lawns stood weeded and tall-grassed. No one stopped to glance at his or her watch, pause at a pay phone, or engage in idle conversation on the bus. Libraries and museums lost their funding and closed to the public. The theaters stood dormant and dusty, their props ghostly shapes in the gathering gloom of the empty stage.

Artificial insemination was the norm, convenient and sterile, for those who even desired the necessary distraction of reproduction. Increasing numbers of senior citizens roamed the streets in roving gangs, angry and senile, rabid and strong. Board games were discontinued. Music stores trapped in brick and mortar shut their doors for the last time. Book stores stood endangered, yet the publishing industry was voracious and growing, accepting anything with less than fifteen grammatical errors under the assumption that someone would buy it. Someone would understand it.

Eventually, they didn't need portable computers and desktop machines. The human brain was capable of receiving the necessary signal to assault their entire waking consciousness upon the online world. Soon after, dream records were broadcast at one's discretionary whim, after a group of dedicated individuals weeded out the more-explicit scenes.

Schools and universities were closed. Playgrounds and courtyards overgrew with vines and invited wild animals.

Electric vehicles replaced cars, but no one had the need to leave their homes. Work was done with an ordinary thought, education was acquirable by anyone with a lucid, dreaming mind, and wares were available at the blink of an eye at check out.

The remaining youth population no longer cruised the streets or hung out at the mall, and if they were actually seen outside their homes, were consistently sending texts and video messages to their hundreds of virtual friends to document their journey. Years went by. The population continued to age. Children forgot what was in them to grow into adults and find love. Sentiments were words. Words were text. Text was safe.

A Presidential decree went out. Bonuses were offered to bio forms reproducing and creating young to further sustain the species. Her words were lost between a mind-video of a kid dancing to the latest hit “Ina-Gadda-da-blah-blah,” and a LOLcat doing the impression of INVIZIBUL FELLASHEO.

Those That Did Not Have Internet erected billboards to drum up support in returning to the roots of human socialization, i.e., face-to-face. The majority of the species continued to ignore and even embrace the warning signs.

It would take thousands of years, they said. Nothing for them to worry about. But smoking and drinking interrupted brain waves and broke up the constant feed, and health improved. The Wii Fit was incomparable to any other form of fitness and lack of interest in fattening foods, such as McDonald's, or Hula Hut caused the weight/height ratio to drop significantly.

A species of long-living, slender and pale beings. Always connected. Always sharing. A perfect world.

One ripe for the picking, the sentient being thought as it opened a cyclopean eye to the blue-green jewel draped on the universal fabric. In the Great Disconnect, the humans felt no pain, only the soft intrusion of darkness as their minds slept alone for the first time in better than two hundred years.

"The Wedding Gift" #Fridayflash

Alison and I met by absolute chance while cowering in the same destitute FedEx truck almost a year ago. She looked so colorful in among the white parcels and brown boxes that I had to find out everything I could about her. Every so often she or I would run across another Normal, and we'd invite them back, but they rarely came. The last Normal to cross our threshold hung outside the attic window as a warning to any new thieves.

But he'd brought a blessing in his belongings: a simple solitaire diamond ring, and after Ali'd clobbered him and before I'd finally unloaded twin barrels of buckshot into him, we found some of our rations and this exquisite little ring. Well, I did. I pocketed it before she glanced up, pretending to take extreme intrigue in the double-knitted wool socks.

I wiggle my toes in those socks now and swallow hard. Can it possibly be called love, this thing we share? Enough to take her by the hand, get on one bended knee and profess eternity?

“Michael.” She comes in, closing the door with a smart snap behind her.

“They're coming. They've figured out that the bodies out front are a decoy.”

I snatch my boots up from beside the little fire and stomp my feet into them. “Pack what you can into that big bag, and I'll go have a look—“

“No Michael,” she says, slapping a hand over my arm. Her eyes are intense and 120% serious. “They're too close. If you go outside, you'll just give them something new to sniff out.”

The barricade, as she called it, is a cattle gate-style assembly of plywood and scrap-metal fencing, cultivating a virtual maze around the Victorian-style three-bedroom house. I know whose house it was, but my old fifth-grade teacher wouldn't need it now. She's probably still out there somewhere, chewing on the principal's face. She hasn't been in the population we've already taken down.

After weeks of fighting them off, we retreated into this house, building the fence as we could inside. I took it outside by armed escort. At night, we huddled up in the basement, the door locked and bolted with a gasoline-soaked rag crammed in the crack under the door.

They wander around top-side relentlessly, growling and chewing and occasionally attacking each other over a particularly-tasty morsel. They lap like dogs at oil-slicked puddles and meander off in packs of a dozen or more, one always assuming the alpha position of each little pod.

Ali and I were the last of the group of nine, as no one could handle the pressure as well as we could. Some shot themselves, wasting precious bullets, others were caught out after sunset gathering supplies. The sun slowed them down considerably, and heat seemed to infuriate them further.

“I was about to ask you something,” I say, snapping myself from reverie. She frowns at me, that delicate cleft in her sweet little chin deepening as her bottom lip rolls out and her cerulean eyes question me.

I take her hand in mine, slipping the ring on just as smooth as I've rehearsed it in my head, over and over. She snatches her hand away.

“What's this?”

“Be my wife,” I whisper, my hands hanging at my sides like counterweights in a grandfather clock's glass belly.


“Before you object, keep in mind that I'm all you've got now. Unless there are more out there, somewhere.” I pant, the asthma kicking in as it hasn't since I quit smoking over six months ago.

“Michael, of course I will, but right now? You really want to think about marriage right now?”

I hand her her shotgun, together we load our weapons in silence. I pull her close, and her hand goes to my hair. We gaze into one another's eyes.

The door blows inward in a starburst radius of splinters. We don't look. We can't look. It's too hard to see the faces of those you used to know, coming to eat your flesh from your bones and make you just like them.

Not taking my eyes from hers, I position my shotgun under her chin, and hers under mine. Our lips meet tenderly, hesitantly, then fully as the dozens of the Others file into the room. Hairless and some missing limbs, eyes, noses and parts of ears, they sniff the air and lick their teeth in anticipation of something not dead.

“Now,” I say, breaking the kiss to pull the trigger, hoping she does the sa—

"Truth Lies Behind the Smile" #Fridayflash

I think part of him wants this. He accepts my tenuous invitation quickly, perhaps because I haven't requested anything of him in a very long while. Agreement is struck, location established as the lake we used to go to.

In his hand, a bottle of cheap merlot; I can only think it's because he never took the time to know me, else it'd be white or even blush. A pinot. A chardonnay. I sip at the offered glass and smile.

Conversation ensues. His breaths distract. The pier creaks beneath us. Ducks quack in sporadic babbles behind the cattails. He talks in circles. I smile.

It's cold outside, but I take off my sweatshirt. I'm not wearing a bra. His breaths are more distracting. I suggest a swim. He doesn't hesitate and starts to unbuckle his belt. I press my fingers over the buckle. He asks about my warmth. Where I am headed, it is always warm. The Bible tells me so. Our eyes meet and I smile.


Bubbles blossom like pearls pushed out from his lips; his eyes, huge in their deepening color. The bottom never seemed any farther away than now. Fingers spread and paddle against the cold. The jacket comes off, increasing buoyancy. Arms like oars, not fins. Feet encased in weighty boots make no good rudder. The air expels again. His body thrashes and curls in on itself. The spine curves; movements quicken.

He’s got to be breathing in by now. An eruption of bubbles, small like spray, tickle my nose. He’s still so strong. His hands find mine atop his shoulders. I turn my face away from the splashes. The surface is a frothing torrent, swirls, and one big bubble.

It floats on the surface for a few seconds, in defiance of the act. One last breath held by thin miraculous walls of saliva. It pops, leaving only silence and ripples. It makes me smile.

"Tin Cans" #Poetry

I strike—
Tin cans in a lightning bolt.

A distant cadence
but a little better
That much bloodied
Definitely wetter
A ten-thousand watt grin

I stomp my feet
and call out the passes
You bring the wine
I've got the glasses
In fact I might just
maybe might not
Need you after all...

Now that's original sin.

10 November 2010

In Memorandum.

I died last night.

The crows pierced the clouds overhead and the stars fell in and I died. Glistening veins pouring like a river, slinking over time-worn bones and the worms. Breeding, bursting, popping inside like crackling wood. Fires of love and life smoldered to a slow smoky trail of ashes. A blinding light, trailing over fingers, twitching as they curl under for the last time. Cold steel divides the line between flesh and meat, extracting my insides. Questioning the manner in which I passed. Burning skin twisting in the flames as it chars into dust.

Let me join my brothers.

Ahead is green. Seeping into the risk of me. Breathing for me. Being me. Thoughts faded and irrelevant to doing. Expectations rinsed away to expose the very center of me. Existing as a memory of many.

I am free.

Photo credit: lorettaflame from morguefile.com

29 October 2010

Halloween Trio #2 "The Downside of 24-Hour-Stores" (repost)

Photo credit: clarita from morguefile.com

I’d be crazy not to follow you where you live. Your eyes, your lips—I can taste them when I bite the air. You pass through the aisles of flowers and the light glints off your horn-rimmed glasses. You clear your throat and clutch your handbag closer. I pause on the next row and stoop to catch a glimpse of your fingers caressing satin petals. You raise your eyes to mine, between pert stalks of begonias.

A gasp.

You spin on your heel and proceed the way you came. Tomato plants whisper past your bare legs.

Short skirt.You remind me of someone.

I halt midstep. 

You seem genuinely concerned.

Am I not following closely enough?

I’ll apologize into your skin.

I can smell your go-go boots. White leather. Flesh beaten into a semblance of innocence. Plasticine over your calves, leaving the knees bare. A symphony of gold and shimmering pinks with coffee. You disappear around the corner. I give chase.

The sliding doors part to depart you and I stop too late.

The parking lot resounds with screams of agony as the first rays burn my eyes.

28 October 2010

Halloween Trio #1 "Nightlife" (repost)

Photo credit: spiroll from morguefile.com
“Early to bed
And early to rise
Makes a man or woman
Miss out on the night life.”

Early to Bed – Morphine

Deidre watched me from across the room, one leg thrown over the other like she’d been molded that way.

“You staying up much longer?” she said, reaching across the arm of the sofa for her glass of wine. Her diamond anklet twinkled in the 40-watt bulb’s light from under the amber art-deco lampshade. I shrugged, leaned back against the leather lounge chair and changed the channel. She sighed, swirled the wine around in her glass.

“You always end up staying up too late,” she pouted, her cerulean blue eyes struggling to meet mine. It was one feature I always liked about her. When we’d met for the first time, amidst curled smoke and the dark stench of expensive liquors, I couldn’t stop staring at them.

“Forget it Greg,” she said and stood. “I’m going to bed.”

I watched her climb the stairs and closed my eyes. It’d been months since I’d climbed those stairs behind her. I think it was about the same time she quit her nighttime job as a singer and given up on her figure. She still had her fake breasts. But her body’d caught up with them to justify their size.

I glanced upstairs just as the light went out in the bedroom. Half-past midnight I rose from my chair and went to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of scotch, plunking three ice cubes in it to chill the flavor. I followed it up with two more, just standing there.

It was a slow death, our marriage. A stalemate because neither would give in.

I picked up the bottle and took it into my office and shut the door. I could hear her faint snores overhead through the ceiling. I flicked the power switch on my Mac and sunk into my three-thousand dollar chair. It was the best seat in the house, and Deidre’d never sat in it. It didn’t have her stink or sweat on it.

A message popped up on the screen, making me smile.

Hey baby.

I twisted the cap off the scotch and drank right out of the bottle before responding.

Sorry I’m late.

The response came quick.

It’s alright. It’s her loss she can’t stay up later.

I laughed a little to myself, softly, lest the sleeping giant hear me.

You know I’d rather have you. What are you doing tonight?

Another drink. I licked my lips waiting for the reply.

You, I hope.

Just the words I wanted to see.

Where to meet?

Why don’t you come here? I typed.

LOL, are you serious?

Yeah. We have a pool…

Mm. Sexy.

I realized I’d been holding my breath and let it out in a shudder.

You got it. If she wakes up, it’s all on you, lover.

Fair enough, I typed back.


Forty-five minutes later, a silver BMW graced my drive. Clad only in my boxers, I directed it into the garage, closing the door behind it. The engine cut out, and the door opened.

“I can’t believe you did it,” I said, my voice colored with lust.

He smiled; a slow spread of those lips, and his dark eyes shined with devilish intentions. My bare chest crushed against the smooth tailored fabric of his shirt.

“Why don’t we just kill her,” he breathed into my mouth ahead of a scorching, biting kiss, sucking my bottom lip before we parted, me blinking in disbelief.

“Kill her?”

He nodded once and licked my taste from his lips, closing the door soundlessly behind him.

The more my mind turned it over, the more I liked the idea of her being dead.


I admit, we both had more than enough scotch to excuse the behavior. First it was a messy concept: an ax, or a knife through the heart. He suggested we stake her like a vampire and we laughed before fucking again. Spent, drunk and homicidal, we finally decided to smother her with a pillow.

“A pillow?” he laughed, and kissed me in the chilling waters of the pool. We were both naked with the pool lights out. She’d have to look hard to even see us from the second floor. I looked above us. The moon was neatly out of sight behind a copse of cloud cover.

I rose up out of the water without warning and grabbed a towel.

“Now?” he said, following suit. I watched his dripping form and grinned.

“Sick,” he said and popped my bare ass with his towel. We went inside to get dressed.


The bedroom was pitch-black; I had the windows covered with heavy drapes because I slept in most mornings. Owning my own bank chain did have its perks. I could feel him press against me as we crept across the room with my guidance. I knew the layout, he didn’t.

Deidre was a back-sleeper, which made it relatively easy. I picked up the pillow from my side of the bed and crawled up beside her. She snored gently, before snorting when I clamped the pillow over her face.

Her body came alive with movement and I could hear her scream through the feathers. We bought the good pillows, thickly stuffed with goose down and 400-threadcount casing. The pillow was built to kill, but she wouldn’t give up that quickly.

Her arms flailed until she found my face and dug her hundred-dollar manicured nails deep into my skin, cutting red slashes, demanding I let go but I didn’t. I could feel the blood trickle down my cheeks and clung to her as she bucked like a pissed-off bronco at a rodeo. Her fat thighs slapped together as she kicked, drawing her knees up to slam into my spine. I cried out and she threw me off her to fall on my head in the darkness. With a banshee scream, she leapt on me and I squirmed out from under her, throwing her back into the window. She ripped the curtains down and I took the initiative to wrap them tightly around her neck. I held it tight, until she stopped struggling and I held something limp in the eerie milk-stain of the full moon's light.

She was finally dead. I released the fabric, clenching my fists over and over, my heart thundering in my ears. Behind me I heard a low rumble and turned.

Where my lover was, there stood a monstrous black beast.

23 October 2010

On-Air #Poetry


Bring it all out into the open

This terrifying world of

words left unspoken

In the morning be sure to bring

another line

drop your dime

and listen to me as I speak

Ten worlds apart this

heart brought forth with electric spark

left out to grow and mold and to get

quickly old to bring a play in all the

words I might say

There's no play with this, the one that I know I'll

find within the confines of beaten atrocities

Kick the soul from the corpse and beat the dead

Horse to drive it down deeper

and so much farther into this cracked


to lie to rest the very goddamn best

You thought you could do for me

You see?

I bring it here to spread it out and face your fears and

your burned and ashen tears that aren't really there

I swear

If someone does not change the station I am going to cut him.

On the fucking air.

- Carrie Clevenger

15 October 2010

"House-Fishing - A Love Story" #Fridayflash

I can't not write stories and I love to share what I've done. For those of you familiar with Crooked Fang, here is Xan Marcelles as a human Gabriel Nez and very vulnerable to Jessica DiGiovanni, Realtor...Just a sweet slice. Smile with your coffee and see why Gabriel Nez/Xan Marcelles has stolen my head and heart for ten years. - C.C. 

She kind of gave me the eye as her lips mouthed the real estate words a buyer wanted to hear: Spacious walk-in closets, garden tub, ceramic tile. I don’t think I ever heard ceiling fans said in a sexier breath before. After the short tour (and every other stalling tactic I could think of) we found ourselves standing on either side of the bar in what I’d already decided was going to be my house. I’d buy anything if she came with it. Her first name rolled around in my head and I wondered what it’d feel like to say it in her mouth as I kissed her.

“Mr. Nez?” I blinked. She’d been talking to me for a few minutes and I’d completely not heard her.

“Please, call me Gabriel or even Gabe,” I said, my heart twisting in my chest, wanting to burrow deeper. She smiled, brightening the entire kitchen. I couldn’t help but return the gesture.

“Gabriel,” she said in the same voice that had just described the sexiest ceiling fans in the world. “You seem distracted.” She tilted her head in question. God, she was cute. Cuter than cute, like fine-cute. That smile again. She had me figured out. Had to. I couldn’t be standing there not-red.

“Sorry,” tumbled out of my mouth, “I just…”

Say it. You’re Beautiful. Say it Idiot.

“I just think the house is great,” I managed to finish, kicking myself in the mental balls for lack of the same.

She straightened her shoulders. I had to congrat myself for snapping her back into business mode. “So you’re interested in making an offer.”

“I am,” I said, “Let’s go get a drink. I’ll buy.”

Her eyes widened then narrowed. “Mr. Nez, I am on the job. And I drove you here.”

I licked my lips. I’d already stuck my neck out. Might as well go for the gold. “After work then. Please say yes.”

She blinked. “Yes.” Abject horror. “I mean—“

“Nope, I got a yes out of you.”

Her look of surprise slowly melted into a smile, reaching her turquoise eyes. They had little gold flecks in them. Sigh. “Alright.”

“And call me Gabriel, or even Gabe.”

“What does your girlfriend call you?”

I snorted. “You’re fishing.”

She turned on her heel, her spun-silk ponytail swishing a fresh breeze of Jessica-perfume over me. I swayed on my feet and followed her back outside to the Cadillac.

“I don’t have a girlfriend,” I said as she unlocked the doors. The door handle was scalding to the touch in the sun. I opened the door as fast as I could and we both backed away from the opened car to let the heat escape. She met my eyes.

“I find that really hard to believe Gabriel.”

I loved the way she said my name. It was like a breath with sound, but a Jessica-breath. I was Jessica-smitten. She could’ve taken me in an arm wrestling match because my knees felt like jelly.

“It’s not so hard to believe,” I countered. “I work two jobs, and spend the rest of my time either sleeping or fiddling with things in the house. Aside from a drink after work sometimes, I just don’t get out much.”

“You’re an artist right?”

I laughed. “You know all this stuff about me already. No fair.”

She grinned and dropped into the driver’s seat to turn on the car and I got in on the passenger side. “I know your credit score,” she said, sticking out her tongue.

“You gonna tell me?”

She shook her head and I felt that stupid smile creep up on my face again. The whole goddamn car smelled like her. I just wanted to kiss her all over.

“It’s against the law.”

“I bet you tell your boyfriend his.”

She bit the inside of her cheek to hide the smile. “Now you’re fishing.”

I shook my head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, crazy house-lady.”

Our giggles died down and we were just kind of staring into one another’s eyes, faces drawing closer together until she blinked hard a couple of times and jerked away to back out of the driveway.

Photo credit: EmmiP from morguefile.com

07 October 2010

"Dirty Dish" #Fridayflash

Yet another experiment in writing. Dead silence does work wonders. - CC   

She’s taken her small shoes and handbags and left him with closet space. He appreciates the extra three feet of davenport. He’s covered up the flowered print. He’ll put it out for bulk rubbish in February.

She’s grilled for CAUCASIAN MALE. It seems wise. Her mother would have approved of his severe haircut and pencil-thin mustache.

He thinks about CAUCASIAN MALE often. 5’11” with a slight list to his step from an old football injury. CAUCASIAN MALE with the sideways smile—he should have caught that the first time she shared it with him over boiled potatoes.

He’s stretched out. He’s waiting.

The dirty dish is still in the sink. He’s decided to leave it til Wednesday. She’d hate that.

Photo credit: alvimann from morguefile.com

30 September 2010

"Sin" #Fridayflash

There's an angel in the window, face dappled by silver rain. Her eyes stretch towards heaven as she lifts the cup to her lips and shifts a bit in her chair. Feathers drift to the floor and are swept away by the barista before she's asked to leave.

She steps outside and hugs her arms as the icy rain penetrates her clothes and punches holes in her wings. Red neon bleeds over pinions as he stands in the shadows. He beckons her to his side, fingers clutching slender hips to turn and press her supine against the steaming hood of his car. Black, churning, scaled. Wicked whispers in her ear and she draws him forward for a kiss.

Her wings enfold them, graze the muscles of his back, clothed in incredible black, an absence of nothingness, less than not, as if light had never been. He bites her lip; his hands wander, seeking her skin and her wings shiver. A sigh like wind in trees and he slips inside. She sings in soft whispers; her fingers dig into his arms as the pace increases and intensifies.

They call out in unison. A gentle moment—sweet nuzzles and scalding kisses. Her wings spread.

He watches her ascend into the heavy rain.

Photo credit: firebetty74 from morguefile.com

23 September 2010

"Three" #Fridayflash

Photo credit: marko from morguefile.com

Lisa's eyes reflected the glow from the sandy bed, too long ago to be called a river. Pale like moon soil and powdered moth wings. A cloud of dust erupted on the horizon, swirling around six blue lights, splitting apart, two to a being, until they drew near and I could see they were headlights. Three of them, with respective specters behind their windscreens, bony knuckles ridged and accusatory.

They circled us like vultures—tighter and tighter—in spirals of questionable intent. Glowing eyes; burning lights that felt like acid on the skin. There were two, one fat-fendered with the suggestion of green flames, that writhed and licked above the slick rubber that churned beneath like angry hooves. The second, a black Mustang, the lights bleeding to urine-yellow at a certain angle. The driver pressed his skull against the glass and grinned as the draft made her skirt fly up around her legs.

The third was almost reptilian in appearance, long and low, inky-black scaled flesh glinting violet in the light around them, gasping gills in its sides snorting blue fire and in the driver's seat—

An arc of spirits in a close vortex, blotting out the moon and choking our lungs with silt from the dead riverbed. Whispered pleasures, treasures, and torment and the third stopped, tires pouring out of slim wheel wells like viscous oil, clutching the hard packed earth as the dust settled and I was looking into the face of Death itself.


I let out a breath; Lisa shook me, clutching an armful of firewood. I opened my eyes and lifted my head to look at her.

“You have to stay awake to see them,” she chided. I rolled over on my side and smiled.

She was wrong.

16 September 2010

"Angel on the Roof" #Fridayflash

Of course Jonathan tried to prepare for it. His entire college career was settled on the intricacies of Medieval wisdom and ignorance; costume and custom, effecting him to settle on a light suit of custom-crafted aluminum armor. He packed with him action figures, hoping to win over the king. His iPod was capable of going 22 hours on a single charge but his Kindle could last a month. The time machine made no fantastic swirls of color, but rather hissed and coughed a puff of smoke that cleared the rest of the University wing when he went.

He awoke some time later on his side, full backpack stabilizing his body from sliding the rest of the way down the steeply pitched roof of the great castle. Fantastic! He said to himself, the Earth moved! He attempted to extract his notepad and ink pen, but the bloody thing slipped out of his hand, slid down the roof, over the edge and poink! hit a passerby right on the top of his head.

Anonchio was on his way to answer to a debt when the bizarre twig fell from the sky. Looking upwards, he saw a shining figure.

“Oy! You up ere!” He shouted. The shining figure looked around and went back to rummaging through what appeared to be a blue sack.

“Who’s that you be shouting at Anon?” His wife peeked out from the confines of the cart, sewing needles in hand.

“Th’ bloke right up ‘ere!” Anonchio pointed skyward with a thick, stubby finger and his wife followed it until her eyes widened.

“Why, there’s an angel on the castle! We must tell the king!”

Anonchio and his wife hurried into the crowd and spread the word of the uncommon roof occupant. Meanwhile, Jonathan continued to assess his situation and realized that he’d made a grave mistake. The roof was too high to jump, or even be rescued. He could climb down, but not in his armor.

It was a stupid idea to wear it anyway, he thought to himself as he stripped the shining coat off, piece-by-piece. By now a large crowd had gathered below to witness the angel. Converts were made, plagues were healed, and an old woman could walk again. All in the Power of His Spirit.

The artifacts of thin, sparkling metal were viciously fought over as they landed. Scholars scratched their chins at the angel’s words, which sounded a bit vulgar. Still, they scribbled down their interpretation of the creature’s warnings and wisdom as divine.

They prayed for the angel to descend for three days in the stagnant heat and searing sun.

On the third day, the angel flew from the roof in the guise of a dead man, skin blistered and pockmarked, with a large pouch of tiny idols, a small metal window and shattered glass but made horrid sounds from two tentacle-like appendages , and a larger square that when anyone looked upon it, could see His Word. His name was J. R. Tolkien, and as far as the scribes could ascertain, was an astounding windbag of needless description.

The strange corpse and its belongings were suddenly considered a work of the Devil, and the transcribed statements, the Kindle, and the i-Pod (designed by an entity in California named Apple) were promptly tossed into the fire by the Church, and all was eventually forgotten.

The old God made more sense.

(Photo credit: badeendjuh from morguefile.com)

09 September 2010

"Neurotic" #Fridayflash

Photo credit: reccaphoenix from morguefile.com

“Hello I’m neurotic
Creating problems that don’t exist…”

Blue Lights  –Pretty Girls Make Graves

The thrumming pulse resonating through the wooden floor was more than Hannah could stand; red lightning flickered in her vision. She beat her head in the corner and clawed at imaginary spiderwebs. The scent of coffee lingered—airborne criteria to indicate that an attack was about to start. They were sporadic, yet eventual, and so Hannah lived the life of the Medicated and Sedated.
Her hands trembled. Her chest caved in on itself. A sundae of eclectic blossoms adorned her vision.
Long. Deep. Bright.

The dinette stood brave under a month’s pile of laundry and schoolwork. There was no school anymore. There were people in school. People in Laundromats. Store-people were different; store-people were occupied. Robotic. Hungry. Hannah tossed dirty clothes to the floor and swept away used department store bags. She bought new clothes every week. She ate pizza or Chinese every day.
The college fund would last at least another year.
Long enough to go outside. To go someplace else.
To hide.

Her hand landed on the orange prescription bottle and she shook out a pill. She shook out two. Water. Washed it down. Shook the bottle and washed more down and scratched her belly until there were red ribbons. She fell into endless night.

A sound awoke her.
Her eyes fluttered open. Looked around.

She pushed a hand through her hair and stopped midway. Her hand. It wasn’t her hand. It was wrinkled.

02 September 2010

"Spoiler" #Fridayflash

Photo credit: alvimann from morguefile.com

This story is unique. An experiment from a dream I had this week. Hi-five to my muse. He gave me this, but on one condition: I had to write it backwards. So here is a story-written backwards. Enjoy - CC.

There’s a dull gleam to the moment you realize is your last.

In the side-view, I saw it. Real, but not real. It couldn’t be real. It was flying, and we were going close to one-hundred-twenty miles an hour. A death head in pursuit. A bony sound on the rear spoiler. Like pebbles hitting a window. I heard it before he did.

I glanced over at Bryan, his arms held straight out like he was pushing the steering wheel away, but his knuckles bled white. His eyes were locked on the road. I asked him why was he moving; we could get a better look if we stopped where the grass wasn’t so high. There was no moon, but we could see.

Hey wait, stop the car. Oh my God. Stop the car!

A beeping sound—echoing. A sound off of the old Doctor Who, when they still used wavy tricks to make the opening title interesting.

Religious icons of every creed and culture glowed phosphorescently in the sky, over to the right, like fit-together shapes. Like Tetris. A powdered-diamond-blast-pattern of stars filled the spaces between, gradually melting behind the clouds. Clouds to the left, smoked and swirling, geometric—like Incan designs—squared and labyrinthine. I looked out the windshield, hand pressed against the cold glass.

We were on our way home after a party. It was 3AM.

26 August 2010

Jailed #Fridayflash

Photo credit: cooee from morguefile.com

“I write foresight,
One day you’ll find me in the distance
More sublime
But still never died before.”
Jail - NOLA (Down)

Ice crusted the glass; white piled in small drifts around the wipers. The moon smiled at me from her gleam on the hood, but my headlights were dismal candles, mocked by the enshrouding mystery of early morning fog.

I felt something. Something there. A chill that snaked down my spine, blossoming in spider-pricked gooseflesh on my entirety. My fingers cowered in their leather gloves, nearly releasing the steering wheel. A stunning realization that I was not alone in the car. I was afraid to look.

Afraid I’d be right.

The fog divided by the hood wisped along the window. Ghosts of sky, weighed down with wet and white to blanket the earth of mortals. I summoned the courage to take a quick glance at the passenger seat.

Nothing, aside from silvered shadows diffused by the windshield. I took a shuddering breath. Switched on the heat. The car felt like a tomb.

Glanced in the rearview mirror. Nothing but darkness and my wild, staring eyes. Adrenalin surged through me, thrilling my muscles. I increased my speed to shorten the duration to the next town. I’d get out. Shake it off. Maybe get a motel room. I wasn’t as young as I used to be; I could drive for twenty-four hours back when I was twenty.

But not here. I wouldn’t—couldn’t—get out here. This was in-between land, this dazed cushion of damp down and beguiling muted colors.

I turned up the radio. Rich, mahogany tones of bass guitar and silken deep voices comforted me. The ice crept in from the outside. My breath was frozen and fell to my lap like snow. I dropped my gaze to my thighs. A flash of light. Thunder in my ears, trapped. Rushing.

It was dark then. Only the green dials gave approximation of where the dash could be. I felt disengaged. Wet. Before the window closed on my last breath, I finally saw him. He was there to meet me, only he couldn’t follow.

Then it was dark no more.

25 August 2010


I feel sometimes
Like writing my own future
Igniting the candle
To rocket me to my next
Wild tale
An insinuation of delegation
A shrugging of responsibilities
To frolic and splash in the river
Ride white horse through
Valleys of wonder
Splendor all over
Invent new ways
To say I love you
To hold a body close
So hearts tremble together
A tenderness unfound anywhere
Else in this universe
Still, I consent to overture
And descent to my own melody
Because after all it’s tragedy
And apathy that seem to trend best.
Once painted, the corner stays wet
And I sit in it to watch the room
Crumble to dust.

I don’t want to write anymore.

14 August 2010

Special Feature "The Dream is Dead"

It was the perfect drug for the times. Mesh traded for lace, traded for nylon stockings, and the best part?

Youth faded. It dulled and conformed, consist-icized to constricted positioning, arguments of logic and the final acceptance of belief, time, and all that consisted of pieces. Pieces of you; pieces of her. Places to please and treasure the time when her boot heels dusted that dance floor, black lace trailing a dream that never blossomed; only her tattoos were hidden after five years under corporate sleeves and that clove cigarette so mystified and died back when the smoking ban killed all forms of self-pacification.

It’s an arrow to the psyche, this welling of feelings and hurt residing from something that sliced through the ego twenty years ago. Zits traded for wrinkles, tongue ring traded for rings around the eyes, and a sigh into the bottom of the last glass of amber solidification.

Perfect drug equals that which made her believe the minivan far exceeded her LeBaron convertible; replaces her secret lover on the beaches of memory. Purple hair dye washed down the drain to maintain that concrete anonymity of Life as it Should Be.
Piss in a barrel, stack cards on top and pick her future. Sensible heels or spiked demeanor. Bills aren’t paid with attitude, honey. Individuality is fucking overrated.

The dream is dead.

Photo credit: demondimum from morguefile.com

12 August 2010

"Stiff" #Fridayflash

Photo credit: xandert from morguefile.com

She left me here. Ragged and weeping on the floor like a leaking faucet. Bats fly in a blurred tornado of red ears and beaded black eyes. Fingers twitch and face itches from the tiny haired feet of a spider.
She lied to get me here. Face stitched to the cut-pile carpet with undulating waves of russet sunset and one very thin thread of azure. She was so sure. Took awhile to lie down and wait for the numb and shock of thunder to transverse my system.

I should’ve listened.

Should’ve bared my soul long ago and taken the hand that would’ve been here. Now that my time is near. I don’t know where I’m headed but it sure isn’t heaven.

I hear her below and I still can’t take in breath long enough to break this frozen death to knock three times and let her know I still want her.

"Petra" #Fridayflash

 Photo credit: alvimann from morguefile.com

I first saw her when I went to the drive-in. The place had girls on roller skates and satin red shorts. Her hair was long, black, and straight. She had blue barrettes pinned above her ears, of which were festooned with an array of hoops and dangling crosses.

Her legs were perfect, except for a bruise on one knee. I accepted the ice-cream float she brought me, told her to keep the change and watched her backside as she glided away. On the radio "Just Like Heaven" filtered through the haze of cigarette smoke and the tinny music the drive-in played over the dented and rusted speakers above.

The next day I went back and ordered another float. She came out again, her icy blue eyes blinking in surprise when she obviously recognized me. She had a cut on her right cheekbone. A little thing, but I took it in observation and sipped on my drink thoughtfully when she glided away on those old-fashioned roller skates to serve another customer.

On the third day, I asked her for her name. She smiled. Her name tag said "Mindy" but I knew the deal with these places. I drew on my cigarette and gave her the best set of puppy dog eyes I could. My eyes drifted to her left upper arm. Three bruises, each the shadow of a large finger marred her perfection. She was almost milky white. The bruises attempted to sneak up under the hem of her sleeve. Her lip was pierced on the side. She toyed with the silver ring before answering.

"Petra," she said finally, like the answer to some great enigma and was gone, her long black ponytail streaming out behind her. Her wind was bubble gum and patchouli. I started the car, and parked in back. My float melted as I watched for hours. Customers came and went, and every so often I could see Petra. She was a diamond in a sea of river stones. I sipped on the root beer and vanilla ice cream mess and thought of her scent.

The lights went out promptly at 11. The girls were picked up by husbands or boyfriends, or departed in a tiny, affordable battered cars. Petra stood alone at the end of the curb, before sitting down to open her little purse for a smoke. Something made her look in my direction; a blue Chevelle out by the Dumpster, blue smoke wavering in the wind. She rose to her feet and walked towards me.
 Photo credit: msquanna from morguefile.com

"I should call the cops," she said, standing just out of reach at my window, not looking at me.

"You should leave him," I said before flicking one of more than a dozen butts into the night breeze. We both watched the amber arc die in a hiss on the damp pavement.

"You don't know what you're talking about."

"You told me your name," I said, moving to take off my seatbelt.

"Don't--" she said, looking around us. "He'll be here soon."

"Good. Let him come." I got out of the car and towered over her diminutive figure. "Petra." I liked saying her name. I liked that the word meant her, in her soft white skin and icy blue eyes. I loved that she existed and stood her with me even though I scared her.

Rebel country music swelled in the distance, along with the unmistakable sound of a Flowmaster exhaust set. She blinked hard, one tear escaping inky lashes.

I went to the trunk, opened it, and loaded my rifle as a brown 4x4 Silverado pulled into the lot.

05 August 2010

"Second-Sight" #Fridayflash

Photo credit: rosevita from morguefile.com

He’s hummin’ a little tune as his ears follow that clickety-clack of his walking stick . A white extension of his black self. Dark-leathery skin contrasts with the brilliant white stick, with them red stripes. His nostrils flare. Bertha has fresh pie waiting at the diner already. Coffee. The papery scent lettin’ him know the Sunday edition is waiting in his customary spot.

“Well howdy Nate, got your pie right here,” Bertha says, loud, because people think that blind people is deaf too, he don’t know. He nods and smiles at the sound because he don’t know if Bertha is a pretty missus or a miss or if she’s—

Blackberries. His nose fills up with berries and his hands fall to the table right where his fork and napkin sit because that’s where Bertha’s put them as long as he can remember. She always givin’ him the coffee for free. He tries to tell her sometimes it ain’t right but she laughs and takes his money and gives back the wrong change anyway.

Nate. He was born Nathaniel, but he’s been shortened to Nate, and now it just don’t matter anymore as long as they don’t call him late for his pie—supper—he’ll be just fine. The door jingles. Bertha changes it out every so often. Christmastime she has a set of sleigh bells and he smiles because sleigh bells just sound so pretty. So pretty.

Erma’s gone. Been gone for fifteen years. He still has the old house they shared, still talks to her sometimes just to have sound. He don’t like radio anymore really. It isn’t music. It just isn’t. He hangs up his hat where the old mirror used to be ‘til the night Darcy was born; Erma pulled it down during one of her contractions because it hurt so bad.

The pie settles a little off. He opens the refrigerator with the same creak it’s had for a decade or more since Darcy collapsed in front of it when her heart failed. She’s got a nice job somewhere in Chicago. Pacemaker saved her life.

Maalox is right there on the shelf and he takes a cold chalky swig. Closes the door. Turns to go up the stairs. Halfway up he pauses with a grunt. Leathery black hands let go. Everything is static. Static and hissin’, but it’s the rush of water and he opens his eyes.

Erma smiles down at him and he touches her glowing cheek. She’s just beautiful to look at.

29 July 2010

"Bobby Jones" #Fridayflash

When I was fourteen, we was a family of moonshine runners. Daddy loaded the cars up with the crates and off we'd go, smoking cigarettes and trying to keep our hands off the goods, but there was many a night when we'd be hiding from the police and end up all alone with nothing but the 'shine to keep us company. Nights when we sat in dewy grass and traded tales, each bigger than the one before it, til we was sure it was clear to get back out on the road again.

Daddy souped up those black cars and fixed it so the brakelights wouldn't light up, giving the us runners a better advantage to get away since they weren't giving away where we was turning off at.

My brother Bobby knew all those backroads. He had to perch on the edge of his seat to reach the pedals the first year, then he sprouted right up with the rest of us and we couldn't call him lil' Bobby anymore.

The biggest scare I got was when I had to ride along with Bobby (before the growth-spurt even) and we was tearing down them skinny rutted roads like the Devil himself was after us. It was about 2 o'clock in the morning and Bobby was driving back full-throttle. The car was empty thank the Lord, else all those jugs be about broke but then we heard the car before we saw it and there was the law, on our tails trying to get us to stop. We passed a car on the right and there was mud and clipped grass flying through the air and Bobby’d laughed at me and just drove faster.

He revved that old Chevrolet up and we shot down that road like a black muddy bullet. Mailboxes knocked up against my door like bony knuckles and somebody's dog erupted in a fit of barking till the police behind us had to swerve hard to avoid hitting the stupid mutt.

"Moonshine Running"  - Ian Guy 

I had no problems believing that we'd outrun them behind us but sweet baby Jesus, I clung to the seat, then the dash, trying to squirm away from my door when the branches screeched along the sides, and then half the tires dropped down into a rut and I peeked over the windowsill. Bobby grinned over at me and told me not to worry. That fender’d be there when we got back.

And somehow it was.

Bobby grew up to race cars, and me? Well I met a nice dame, we had some kids and I became a house painter. We split ways once we made up our minds, me opting for the safer family route and Bobby taking to the circuit making money driving in circles til he zigged when he should’ve zagged.

He found that he couldn't outrun the Devil for long.

R.I.P. Bobby Jones 1912-1943


Bobby Jones might be fictional but Icy Sedgwick sure isn't. Go on and visit her work. And thank her for this fine idea of a car chase. - C.C.

Check out Ian Guy's other fine art!

23 July 2010

Special Feature: Meet Pamila Payne

The very first time I came across Pamila Payne's website was after I was double-featured with her AT-THE-BIJOU. I was so impressed with the immersive stories and gritty noir (not to mention it's set in Texas at a ghostly motel) I had to know more. Somehow, she didn't find me to be a crazy; we actually have quite a bit in common. So when she agreed to an interview hosted at Mindspeak, you can imagine how delighted I was. 

Please, if you follow and enjoy my work, I can guarantee you will love hers.

After all, we write from the same vein. - Carrie

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What was it like growing up for you?

Early, early childhood. I started sorting out how to read and write before I started school and pretended to write new parts for the bible to annoy my grampa. I developed a precocious sense of irreverence toward imposed religion. He was a minister and he read to me about god a lot. It was all up for debate as far as I was concerned. He also read me the newspapers and whatever was laying around because I would shut up and listen and not torment my gramma when he was reading to me. I was a typical maladjusted social retard right out of the gate. Other children were alien creatures, whose language and customs were indecipherable to me. I failed at assimilation. I turned to books for companionship and learning and never looked back. I started writing "serious" stories in high school when a sympathetic english teacher encouraged me.

Not to mention you have a famous brother. Can we mention him? (I'm a Nitzer Ebb fan)

He's a very private person. I will say that I adore him, he's an amazing artist and a very kind, loving brother to me. He's in Europe performing with the Ebb again right now.

I have to put off unnecessary things (like sleep) to get anything done for my stories. What is your work schedule like when you're writing? When you get really inspired what are your methods to capture those lines?

There is no rhyme or reason to my writing, I don't keep a schedule. Sometimes I write one sentence fragment at a time. Sometimes I'll stay home and binge write for hours and hours. If I don't have to go to work, I'll exist on tea and rye crackers spread with inappropriate condiments to avoid leaving the house. When the story is talking, I have to get it down wherever I am. This can be awkward at work. I've written parts of my novels and short stories on scratch paper, receipts, my arms. I've walked around muttering fragments under my breath over and over again to keep from forgetting them. Now I usually have my iPhone with me and can tap bits into that. It feels a little more civilized, but it still sucks when the inspiration is happening and I can't stop to just sit down and write properly.

Dealing with historical settings means accurate tidbits in your stories. How do you research for your writing?

I research like a dowser online. I look at vintage picture archives a lot. Pictures can really get me worked up. I watch old movies the way people turn on background music. I listen to radio theater and old radio shows. I really love recorded interviews and oral histories of real people so I can get a sense of how people spoke in the past. I read archived newspapers. I skip around doing keyword searches on google. I file everything away for future use. I'm a magpie.

Your writing is so well put-together. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

You're already doing a stellar job, far as I can see. Maybe I'd give you the same advice I keep telling myself - you know you can really write, it's not a hobby, it's who you are. So do whatever it takes to make it your career. The clock never stops ticking, but we do...

I'm a huge collector/avid reader of non-fic/reference books. What kinds of books do you own/read?

I own a fair amount of nonfiction research books that I covet, but don't honestly use as much as I use the internet to look stuff up. I cleared out a lot of books the last time I moved. I keep certain novels and photography books that have personal meaning or are references. I hardly ever read paper books anymore because of the time commitment, I started listening to audiobooks years ago and have become a voracious listener instead. Audiobooks, and reading aloud have had a huge impact on my development as a writer. That's why I'm pursuing a career in narrating as well as writing. Mostly, I'm drawn to crime stories, mysteries that have unusual elements, pulpy or noir detective, darker fiction... surprised? In the last year I've been making it a point to buy paper books and read them with my eyes when someone I like online gets published. I'm reading Eric Beetner's One Too Many Blows to the Head right now. (It was practically written for me to love it - destined to become a new noir classic.) Also, I'm a Dickens fanatic. I continue to be comforted and inspired by Dickens.

The colors and noir-look of your website really caught my eye right off. Who did that gorgeous site of yours?

Hah. My barely serviceable googlephobic site is homemade by me. Angrily. I've developed a sort of road rage at my website. I was just screaming at my poor computer this morning. It's not the computer's fault. It's the evil software. One of these days I'm going to sort it out and do it properly. I haven't figured out how to get comment fields embedded. There's an email address connected though, and I'd love to hear from my visitors.

I really love your style with everything you write. Where can I find more work you've done?

Most of my readable online work is published or linked on my website and my blog.
I haven't submitted to lit mags nearly as much as I ought to. I'll do something about that.
I really like this one, "She Got Hers" at The Journal.
Six Sentences is where I got my start. There are some rare non-Bella Vista pieces here.
I'm also one of the mysterious Harbinger*33 authors, I'll have a few new pieces in that when it comes out.

As to getting published and/or finding an agent, I find this too is a strange alien process. Just when I think I've got a handle on it, the whole thing goes sideways. I suspect I'd be published and successful by now if I'd have just followed Stephen King's advice from his book, On Writing, and found myself a loving, supportive wife when I was young. Too late for that. I'm studying the phrase books and trying to learn the language as best I can. I can kind of manage a sort of pigeon query-speak at the moment. But I'm a lot like Slappy. I'll figure it out. I figure everything out eventually.

Everyone please check out Pamila's stunning work and leave some love in the comments section. Thanks for dropping by and supporting excellent writers.