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 »

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 »

The Baker

Sep 26, 2016

But my fate was chosen before I grew wise, and my fate was to cook, to heat, and to give sustenance to the many. The pain I avoided a great many times, with prudence and alertness, I kept my fingers from the fire, but not every time, alas, so I knew the pain of perfect heat. What choice did I have but to choose to numb the pain... 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 »

'76 Gremlin

Jun 3, 2016

I know it’s not cool to drive my ’76 Gremlin, but to me, it’s my identity.

I remember the day it all clicked in for me. I was fourteen. My dad had bought the Gremlin new. He was proud. It was his first new car. Working as a carpenter was good, honest, steady work, but it wasn’t exactly the sort of thing that made a man wealthy. We always had enough but never had a lot.

So he bought the Gremlin, an early Christmas present to himself and his small family, late in 1975. My first thought was horror. It was an ugly, almost scary, green. And boxy. And small, cramped. He’d traded in a ’67 Impala. A boat. Roomy. The back seat was more than spacious enough for me and my two sisters. There was even room for Max, our dog, a mix of mostly German Shepard with some sort of retriever or pointer, most likely—we never knew.

For two weeks I made excuses to stay home. I didn’t want to be seen in the car. Hank’s parents had a Lincoln and a conversion van they’d take on short camping trips. John’s dad had a Cadillac. And we had a Gremlin. The horror!

Then the moment came that would change my perspective in life, for the next thirty years, and likely far beyond. I was in English Lit class, Hank on my left and John on my right. We had been nearly inseparable since John moved in next door six years earlier.

Miss Simple... 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 »

Clarence

May 19, 2015

I’m sitting with a man I just met.

He’s overweight, but not unattractively so. He’s smoking Marlboro Reds. Says he gave em up for the fortieth time; started back up today, a day he calls grey.

He went to church Sunday; says he sang with angels. Healed a woman with chronic arthritis. Says it without pride, just matter-of-fact.

He enjoys the quiet irony of the Batman t-shirt he’s wearing. “Never take life too damned seriously,” he counsels.

“Are you suggesting—?”

“Ain’t suggesting nothin’, son. Just observin’.”

“Observing.” I let the word echo in the still spring air, moist from the morning’s rain.

“Yup. Just observing.”

I decide to move to another topic. “What brings you to Delaware?”

“Seemed as good a place as any to stop. I caught a ride with a couple takin’ the scenic route to North Carolina. Decided I didn’t want to hear any more of their subtle bickering.”

“Subtle?”

“Yeah. You know. It’s the looks I noticed first. Suzy put three sugars in his coffee and I think he only wanted two. He watched her put in the third packet, then there’s this little shake of his head. I been riding with em since Boston. Had enough.”

“You have plans to stay?”

“I don’t never make plans, son. Not beyond a couple days out anyway.”

I wonder why he calls me son. It’s clear he’s no older than I am, or if he is, it’s no more than a couple years. I decide not to be offended. “What sort of work do you do?”

“A little of this, a little of... Read More »

A spent Patron bottle

Jun 22, 2012

A spent Patron bottle.

He woke to the chill of four A.M. He'd slept in his car, convertible top down. After five minutes, the windshield cleared of its dew. He drove home.

Seven inches tall, five inches wide. Height exceeds breadth.

The oriental fan is colorful and ornate. He sees the red dragon as orange. All of his visions are orange. His hopes and dreams, melding, intermingling, crying out, for orange. A memory flashes. A rainbow over a field of soybeans. A rainbow caused by the irrigation apparatus. A "farmbow." Too many colors on a bright day.

A bag of mustard seeds. A fount of limitless faith.

Many afternoons. He remembers. Walks on the beach. Looking for heart-shaped stones. Searching for scraps of sea glass. Searching for answers. Seeking rainbows. Red orange yellow blue indigo violet. Seeking solace. And then, he woke. Act three, scene one.

Laid flat, the bag is 20% full of seeds. Held upright, 10% full. Breadth exceeds height when standing.

The first night, she'd left an earring behind. The second night, two earrings. She never returned to claim them. She's moving to Colorado.

Words... Read More »

The Wisdom of Creamed Corn

Jun 27, 2009

Ken Rider, a new-age guru and self-proclaimed student of creamed corn, has led a charmed life, in more ways than one. His rise to greatness began when he devised a microwave pouch for creamed corn. He patented the idea before licensing it to all the major members of the canned food oligopoly. The single serving size moved him even higher; his entrepreneurial exploits are legendary and are used as case studies at all the major business schools worldwide. He, more than any other person, was responsible for the worldwide end to hunger, to a return to fitness, to the awakening of bliss that has been a worldwide phenomenon.

But that was just the beginning of the story...

Ken's vast wealth and karmic capital has allowed him to truly choose his destiny. He constructed three homes, one in Aspen, Colorado, one on an obscure island about halfway between Australia and New Zealand, and a third in Tibet. He spent two years with the Dalai Lama, learning much about enlightenment and finding the nirvana of the loving nowness and oneness of all. When he'd learned all the Dalai Lama had to teach, he turned to the creamed corn.

In his home, small, but ample, built entirely of creamed corn, he set his focus and intent on his new master. Creamed corn was his home, his only food, his constant thought, his day, his night, his love, his teacher, his student. He was enmeshed and enshrined and entranced in the perfection of creamed corn.

For three months,... Read More »

Can you hear it?

Sep 30, 2005

He reached up and tugged on Daddy's shirt.

"Can you hear it?"

Dan looked fondly at his son. He always saw a bit of Helen in his eyes; and a bit of... Read More »

10 Random Fiction Posts (All Fiction Posts)