Fiction

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 »

The House

Aug 2, 2016

“What are you so scared of, Gilbert?”

“That place is fucking creepy.”

“Scaredy cat.”

“Am not.”

“Let’s go closer. I dare ya.” Danny grinned a grin that seemed ominous to Gilbert, though that wasn’t the word he’d have used. He’d have said of Danny’s smile that it was creepy, or weird, like the abandoned structure before them, guarded by five turkey buzzards, two on the highest branches of a dying and bare tree trunk, the other three on the peak of the unstable roof.

They had leaned their bikes on a stump about fifty yards from the quiet Saw Mill Road after a fifteen minute ride from their homes in Ellendale. The rough and sharp remains of hardwoods as old as the house were as a moat, protecting the dark castle within. “It’s fucking creepy,” Gilbert repeated. “I learned in school that buzzards have this kind of sixth sense, like they know something nearby is going to die soon.”

“Probably just a rat.”

“What if it’s got rabies?”

“Don’t be a baby, Gilbert.”

“I think we’re close enough. I don’t want to get rabies. Frankie’s cousin from Nebraska got rabies and had to get shots in his belly.”

“Need... 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 »

A Drink

May 10, 2014

“Buy me a drink?”

She was slim, fit, wearing a bright and deep red shirt, cut low, revealing. Her smile pulled me in. I nodded. She sat on the barstool next to mine.

“What sort of music do you listen to?” I asked, wanting to start a conversation that might lead to a... Read More »

Pottery

Apr 25, 2014

She was to him, the solid earth of sturdy pottery, though he had the tact to never tell her so. Life for Ben was mystery, was, though rarely tumultuous, also, rarely understood. When Stephanie looked at a sunset, she saw the beauty, but also the purpose, the inevitable orbit and rotation of earth, the predictability of light, of darkness, of each new season. Ben saw only confusion—he felt often overwhelmed in the stunning majesty of the colors, the artfulness, the perfection—too perfect, too right—like Stephanie’s eyes, like her touch, like her every perfect curve,... Read More »

A Choice to Love

Apr 15, 2014

The first time Victoria had looked in his eyes, she knew they’d be close. There was a calming majesty in Robert’s gaze. They were, at first, off-putting, his light green eyes, a subtle green like raw peeled chestnuts, with a yellow sunshine brightness. Since then, they spoke often. They shared meals, shared confidences, shared sunsets and hugs and bottles of Merlot. They had become close as they went together to the gym for yoga, as they danced to live music on the deck of the Rudder, as they laughed and smiled and enjoyed life.

But there was something lacking, she convinced herself repeatedly these past three years. She kept him in the box marked “Friend” on her office shelf. Victoria told herself that he was kind, intelligent, footsure, and trustworthy, but there was simply no chemistry. She didn’t feel that oozing and invading fire set aflutter as she had with John, with Henry, with Ralph and François. She loved Robert but was not, and would never be, in love with him. This was what her sleepy voice told her each night as she drifted.

But was it true? Wasn’t it possible she was simply staying safe, red flags raised high in the cold March wind? It was April now, full spring, she reminded herself, and as seasons are apt to change, might how she thought of Robert change as well?

Robert was not John. John had clearly been a mistake. She’d lost most of those four years but gained... 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 »

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 »

Blue and White Love

Mar 6, 2012

“I taste the essence of your sensual heart. I feel the drips of your morning song. I merge with the colors of your unbinding soul. Today, destiny smiles.” Jeremy remembered the words he had posted on Facebook two months earlier. Olivia had responded. It felt great to be connected. It felt real. Olivia awoke the poet in him. The cynic had urged caution. But Jeremy despised caution. Caution was for the weak.

She was taller than he'd expected. Only an inch shorter than his five foot, ten. She'd be taller than him in the killer pumps she told him she loved. But now, in the hotel bed, they were the same height. They were equal.

Jeremy glanced over at the digital clock on the nightstand. 3:30 AM. They'd met in person for the first time four hours ago in the well-lit parking lot of a convenience store. Her smile had been genuine. Her eyes were lighter than he'd expected. Less blue, more gray than the image in his memories, the image from the photos on her Facebook page. He'd stared at each photo for what seemed like hours, memorizing the details, wondering.

And now he knew his Olivia was real. He looked again into her eyes, felt the curve of her hip. He thought again that she might indeed be “the one.”

He smiled. “Again?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said with her blue-gray eyes.

*****

Jeremy felt a flash of anger rise as he woke to the half-empty bed. He looked around the hotel room, still dark.... Read More »

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