Fiction

A Typewritten Page

Feb 9, 2019

It was a typewritten page. At first I had assumed it had been a laser printout, from a computer, or, these days, from a tablet, or even a phone. But no, it was an actual typewritten page. There were no clearly discernible errors but there was an apparent, though subtle, difference in *intensity* of some of the letters. I’d never really thought about it but laser printers produce a high level of consistency that typewriters, ubiquitous in decades past, rare today, didn’t.

There was no date.

There was no indication of authorship.

There was no title.

It was part of a larger work, as the start was not indented as subsequent paragraphs were, nor was it capitalized. The page was full, a page from an unknown manuscript, with no page number, nothing unique. It was not on good paper, just the typical white copy paper sold at Staples or Walmart with five hundred sheets per ream for a few dollars.

I inspected it more closely, standing from my desk chair, walking to the dual sliding glass doors leading to the terrace of my oceanfront unit on the fourth floor overlooking the ocean. The sun was still visible a little after eleven, a bright yellow ball of fire warming the chilled March beach below. No white out, no corrections, no strikethroughs. The page was typed by someone far more skilled at touch-typing than I am. Backspace is my most used key, sometimes as I choose to change words as I change direction in the narrative in... Read More »

No Pixie Dust

Feb 12, 2017

“There’s no magic,” he said, with spewing vitriol. “Why do you insist on this silliness?”

“It’s not silly. And you’d know that if you let your guard down.”

“I tried that. Over and over. I was raised in the fucking church and I’ve got the T-shirt. Maybe it works for some people. But not for me.”

“I’m sorry you feel—”

“I don’t want your fucking pity, Sarah. And I don’t want your advice.”

“So there’s nothing left to say…”

“Nothing at all. I need someone who’s grounded in reality, not some Pollyanna. Your pixie dust won’t buy groceries. Or pay the back taxes.”

“Is that what this is about? Money?”

“No. It’s about reality. It’s about living in the real world. It’s about having the courage to stand up and face life as it smacks you in the face and getting back up after it knocks you on the ass.”

“You’re right then.”

“I’m right?”

“I mean you’re right that there’s nothing left to say. My life isn’t only about the physical. Don’t you see? There’s so much more to—”

“I see what you mean. We’re... Read More »

Impending Storm

Oct 5, 2016

There’s a grey indecisiveness to the mood of the sky today, above the ocean, her anger slowly building, past my perspective, beyond the curved horizon, there’s a new storm at brew, the tickling of a rage not held by the ticking of any invention so lame as time. On the sand, near the rocks of the inlet, with my pole, not expecting any fish—they’re as nervous about the impending storm as I, and while they’ve not got the knowledge of location, timing, intensity, millennia of evolution has taught them all the same—danger lurks, tumult and terror and drama.

I got a brief nibble a few hours ago, when the sun was still young in the new autumn day, but then nothing, for an hour, two.

Days away still, so there’s no immediate threat, and I’ve cleared my schedule, set aside time for imagining, for contemplation, for fishing, for sitting on the beach enjoying the responsibility of nothing, after a season of much. It’s been a hard summer, a self-imposed harsh summer, after an emotional spring, The long sprint... Read More »

Hope's Survival: Art in the AM

Sep 7, 2016

You told me there was more, outside the small window in the bare wood door, more to see, to know, to feel, to explore. I was a superhero, in your eyes, in my multicolored dreams and multifaceted yearnings. Outside our small, cold, cramped home, there was more.

I don’t know, even now, why I believed you, but I did. I believed that I was bigger than our small life. I believed that one day I’d soar, find my way, dream, build, live, explore. I believed insanely in the veracity of a life beyond our worn walls.

It’s not that you were perfect—I knew that even then. You had your share of invited persecutions, of self-sabotaging delusions, of days, weeks, months of malaise, of despair, of short cold days and colder nights. Your temper was short and your wrath wasn’t spared. But you always had one thing, and there wasn’t a single day when it wasn’t evident. You had hope. And you shared that hope with me.

I watched as life passed by, through the small windows, through the cracks in the walls where the... Read More »

Frank's Grandfather

Aug 17, 2016

He looked like his grandfather, only strangely older. He wasn’t of course. That would be impossible. Chronologically.

But in other ways, many ways, Frank acted and seemed as old as the Appalachians. Maybe his mother’s side of the family had cursed him with bad genes but it seems just as likely that Frank’s mindset and belief were the cause of his premature aging. At forty-two, he looked seventy-two, on a good day. He was constantly complaining, about the weather, about politics, about bullies and the rise of terrorism and the new strains of killer biological weapons. When he wasn’t complaining, he... Read More »

Roller Coasters

Jul 23, 2016

“You warm my fucking heart, baby,” he said. It was that full and real smile of hers that melted him. Every time. Butterflies and heat and roller coasters. All at the same... Read More »

Make love to me, Hank.

Jul 7, 2016

I typed in the search box on Facebook her name, Aimee Rogers. Thirty results. None of them her. I tried again, different variations, adding our high school, our hometown. Still no joy. I felt suddenly stricken. What if she’s dead? Or what if she blocked me because of that incident in my car, parked near the Occoquan River, as it neared eleven o’clock? One of my life’s great regrets.

She’d said, “Make love to me, Hank.”

And I’d made the mistake of looking at my watch. I took her home instead, as I’d promised her father I’d have her home... Read More »

Haunting

Apr 7, 2016

I clearly remember the moment I died. When I saw my lifeless body, beyond peaceful, inert, on my bed, I first thought I was dreaming. Then I noticed the details. The color of the hardwood floor, a shade darker than pine, a subtle sheen, random flecks of dust. The knickknacks and keepsakes on my mahogany bookshelf, on the top shelf, the beer stein from Austria, photos of Beverly and Amy, my daughters, each graduating from UVA, Beverly in '92 and Amy in '94. The rosary I'd received at my First Communion, cheap plastic black and white beads, white crucifix, unused for twenty years—I don't know why I kept it so long. The heavy black coffee mug that was a gift from Gwen, my wife of ten years, who died at thirty-two of an aneurysm, with a quote from Wordsworth: “Faith is a passionate intuition.” I'd tried to find faith after her sudden departure but my faith was as dusty and neglected as the mug.

Dreams were never so detailed, so colorful, so vibrant, so complete. This was no dream. This was a new sort of reality. A reality without blood, without breath, and somewhat surprisingly, without smell or sound.

I was surprised also that I could still feel. Not in a tactile sense, but in a “heart” sense. Obviously, I had no heart, no brain, no flowing life through me, and yet I still had thoughts, memories, feelings. What was life then, if not physical cells and chemicals and interactions and iterations?... Read More »

Something I Have to Tell You

May 3, 2014

“There’s something I have to tell you, Frank.”

“I have a feeling I need to sit down for this.”

“Probably best.”

“Before you tell me, can I tell you something?”

“Oh, Frank. Why must you always do that?”

“Do what?”

“Control the fucking conversation. You’re—”

“I’m what, Alice? Go ahead and say it.”

“What? You’re daring me? Fuck you, Frank. Just, fuck you.”

“That’s very mature.”

“You know. That’s the other thing I hate about you.”

“Hate? You seem a little out of your head, Alice.”

“Enough, Frank. Shut the fuck up and listen for once.”

“I always listen.”

“Bullshit. You might listen but you never hear. You’re too self-absorbed to hear. You’re too goddamned brittle to hear the truth.”

“Oh yeah? Let’s hear it. What’s the truth?”

“You asked for it, Frank. Remember that.”

“Fair enough. Go ahead.”

“Perfect. You really don’t see the irony, do you?”

“Why don’t you go ahead and tell me, Alice. Where’s the irony? What am I not seeing? What am I not hearing? I’ve been sitting here now for, what?, ten minutes?, waiting patiently for you to tell me what you just had to tell me. You had to tell me, knowing full well that I was on my way out the door. So go ahead, Alice, tell me.”

“You love the sound of your own words.”

“What does that mean, Alice? Of course I love words. Words are my life. I’ve dedicated my life to their measured and elegant use. Not that I generally meet that impossible metric. But, very much like my father, and like all the professors and poets who have shared their... Read More »

Vampires and other strange visitors - part one

Oct 20, 2012

So last night a vampire knocks on my door. I invited her in.

I've watched enough episodes of True Blood to know that was a bad idea. I knew she couldn't come in and drain my blood and kill me if I didn't invite her in. But what can I say? I'm a man. And she was like smokin' hot. A redhead. Slim. Almost athletic. I wondered then if vampires worked out. I thought probably they didn't have to. I thought probably they stayed in exactly the same physical shape through their new eternal lives as they were when they died. Then I wondered why so many vampires were pale. I mean, if they don't age, and when they get injured, they heal, why would they grow pale? Maybe it's because most of them have been vampires for a very long time, and in centuries past, weren't most people pretty pale? I accepted this line of reasoning and dismissed the thought, focused again on her amazing body.

She was about my height, in heels, six inches, I'd estimate, which puts her real height at around 5' 4". Perfect. And like I said, she looked like she worked out. She had a body not unlike those women you see in the CrossFit competitions. She had perfect white teeth, but for the two protruding fangs. A smile to die for.

It was dark in the room but for the light over the stove. But even in that weak light,... Read More »

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