This Game's A Monster

Contributor: Ryan James Black

- -
“I’ll see your hundred,” snarled Wolfman. “And raise you another.” He pawed a chip onto the pile, accidentally cleaving a jagged gash in the green felt table top.

“Hey,” whined Louis. “Be careful wouldja? I just had this resurfaced.”

Wolfman glared at Louis, the way Wolfman glares at rabbits. A muscle car idled deep in his throat. He ashed his stogie, purposefully missing the ashtray.
Louis huffed. He rolled his eyes. He looked like he wanted to say something, but instead crammed his mouth full of pretzels.

“Okay, okay, you two,” Dracula chuckled. He took a swig of his Romanian microbrew and turned to his right. “Bets to you Frank.”

“Frankenstein,” groaned Frankenstein. “Bet.” With a green bratwurst finger, he inched forward a ten dollar chip.

“Okay, two things Frank,” Dr.Jekyll said irritably. “One. I can totally see your cards.”

Frankenstein held three mismatched cards, a coaster, and what appeared to be a grocery list.

“And two. Wolfenstein just raised, big guy. It’s two hundred to play.”

Frankenstein moaned. He retrieved his ten dollar chip, inadvertently crushing it like the top of an Oreo cookie.

“Frankenstein,” groaned Frankenstein. “Fold.”

“Alright,” said Dracula around a mouthful of potato chips. “Frank and Mummy are out,”

“Ma…neme…izzz…Ram-zees,” mumbled Mummy from across the table. He struggled to find an opening in his face bandages for his Pharaoh Lager. No luck.

“Whatever,” said Dracula. “That leaves me, the wolfster, Louis, and to start us off, betting goes to you Doc….Oh, excuse me. Mr. Hyde.”

Mr. Hyde laughed maniacally, and for reasons known only to him, yanked out a tuft of his hair. Tatters of Dr.Jekyll’s lab coat had fallen into his mug of beer. He gulped it down anyway, splashing more of it on the rug than into his mouth.

“Hyde!” Louis sniveled. “Come on, man. You know Francine and I got this rug as a wedding gift.” He waddled away into the next room, returning an instant later with a spritz bottle and rag. Dropping to the knees of his khaki’s, rolling up the sleeves of his peach cardigan, he went to work, scrubbing the rug around Mr. Hyde’s Sasquatch foot. What remained of the giant’s shoe looked like a spent firework.

“Can we just play cards already?” Wolfman growled.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Mr. Hyde boomed like thunder. He materialized a bowler hat out of the shadows and plopped it on to his head. “Soon as you give me one of them cigars.”

“No!” Louis snapped. “No, no, no. No more smoking in the house.” He stood up, smoothed down his cowlick and pushed up his eye glasses. He was breathing heavy, his face was flushed “As a matter of fact, Wolfman, you put that out. Come on you guys? If Francine finds out you were smoking in here she’s gonna kill me.”

Awkward silence.

Dracula made a sound like a whip crack.

Everyone laughed. Everyone but Louis.

“Ha, ha, ha,” said Louis dryly as he took his seat. “Very funny.”

“Relax Louis,” chuckled Wolfman. “Look, you want my stogie gone. It’s gone.”

Wolfman mashed his cigar into Mummy’s forearm, igniting the bandages like dry leaves. Mummy let out a muffled shriek and in an absolute panic, extinguished himself with foamy Pharaoh Lager. Most of it went on the rug. Everyone laughed. Everyone but Louis.

“Okay,” Dracula sighed, wiping a laugh tear off his bone white cheek. “At this rate were gonna be here till sunrise. Let’s play already. Hyde, what are you gonna do?”

Hyde looked at his cards. He snorted.

“I don’t know what Jekyll was thinkin,” he barked. He threw his cards in the air. “I fold.”

“Well, I believe I am going to raise,” Dracula said with a hungry shark smile. “Five hundred.” He pushed his chips forward with the tip of a sharp, glossy nail. “Louis?”

Louis stared at his cards. A bead of sweat tracked down his pink cheek, coming to rest on the second of his three chins. He pushed up his glasses and cleared his throat.
“You know what?” He bulldozed all his chips into the center of the table. “I’m all in.”

Wolfman snarled.

Mr. Hyde laughed.

Dracula bared his fangs.

Mummy mumbled, gingerly poking his soggy, blackened arm.

Frankenstein groaned “Frankenstein.”

Louis leaned back, clasping his hands behind his head. He smiled.

“You’re bluffing!” Sneered Dracula.

“Am I?” asked Louis.

All eyes fell on Wolfman. White foam was collecting around his snout, dripping onto the table. It wasn’t from his beer.

“Fold,” he barked, tossing his cards. He howled in frustration.

Louis smiled wider.

“Count?’ Louis said softly. “Your move. You in, or out?”

Dracula stared from his cards, to Louis, and back again. His eyes glowed red, deep set fiery embers.

“Fold,” he said calmly.

A chorus of snorts and grumbles went up from around the table. Louis bear hugged his winnings and dragged them across the table towards him. He began to hum a happy tune as he stacked the colorful chips into wobbly towers.

“You know, Louis,” Dracula said coldly. “You’re the only mortal at this table. You may want to consider playing a little more tactfully. You wouldn’t want to make any of us angry would you?”

Wolfman scratched his jagged, yellow claws across the green felt.

Mr. Hyde nodded vehemently and began eating his bowler hat.

Frankenstein groaned “Frankenstein,” with hostility.

Mummy pounded his fist into his open palm. It might have been intimidating had he not been looking in the wrong direction, across the room, at Louis’ sleeping cat.

“I don’t know,” Louis said disinterestedly as he counted out his winnings. “There’s only one person I really don’t want mad at me.”

As if on cue, the door at the top of the stairs smashed open.

A fat, black tentacle snaked its way halfway down the stairs, dripping with tar-like ooze, covered with blinking eyes and barbs the size of tyrannosaur teeth. The monstrosity the tentacle was attached to would have made a Kraken look like a house cat by comparison.

“YOU BOYS WANT ME TO FIX YOU SOME SANDWICHES?”

The voice was like a thunderclap full of broken glass, terrifying, impossibly loud, and just a tiny bit feminine.

“No thanks Francine,” Louis called out. “We have plenty of snacks. You’re a sweetheart for asking though.”

The nightmare oozed back upstairs and shut the door.

Dracula un-bared his fangs.

Mr. Hyde shriveled back into Dr. Jekyll.

Wolfman attempted to hide the shredded table top with a couple of strategically placed coasters.

Frankenstein groaned “Frankenstein,” apologetically.

Mummy mumbled something that sounded like “Has Francine lost weight?”

Louis sighed, then chuckled.

"Like I was saying," he said between pretzel chomps. He shuffled the cards like a man with ten thumbs. "Happy wife, happy life."


- - -
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Buford Went to China

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Buford was a big man, at least 300 pounds, with a heart of silver if not of gold. No one messed with Buford. He had a limp and for years he had used a cane too short. Neighbors feared some day he might fall and sure enough one day he did fall in his backyard. He was going out to his dump truck. The only good thing that came out of that fall is that I got a chance to talk to an ambulance driver in Beijing, China. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When Buford fell, he disappeared and left a massive hole in his wake. Dirt rose like a volcano eruption for minutes after he was gone. I lived across the street from Buford so I climbed over his fence to see if I could help in any way. I knew I would not be able to pull him out of the hole by myself. It would take a crane, I figured, to get him back on solid ground.

But when I looked down the hole, I could see nothing but darkness so I went home and got a flashlight and then went back. Now I was able to see far down, apparently miles and miles away, and I saw a group of Chinese emergency medical technicians working feverishly to revive Buford. But he didn’t move. He was lying on his stomach and looked a little like a whale (of the beached variety).

The EMTs were short in stature but obviously industrious, caring people who may never have seen anyone as big as Buford, never mind trying to revive or treat someone that size. They looked like ants trying to get an angle on a giant carcass. They kept prodding and moving around him in a circle but he still didn’t move. They took turns yelling to him in Chinese but even if he could have heard them, Buford didn’t speak a word of Chinese. He was a deaf mute and used only American Sign Language, which only one of his neighbors understood. She was deaf too but spoke very well.

Finally I yelled to the workers and asked if Buford was alive. One of the EMTs looked up and said something in Chinese but I don’t speak Chinese and I don’t know American Sign Language either. I could see they had brought a crane to the scene and were using it to attach leather straps all over Buford’s body. It appeared they were planning to drag him away since they may not have had an ambulance big enough to accommodate him.

The last thing I saw down the hole was the disappearance of Buford’s feet. The rest of him had been dragged out of the frame, so to speak. He had one shoe on and the other was gone. No socks. Buford only wore socks in the winter and this was fall, not cold enough for socks in our country.

I hollered down the hole one more time, and the last EMT visible to me hollered something back but again it was in Chinese. After that I saw nothing except what looked like a crater dent in a paved parking lot where Buford had apparently landed. Even with all that momentum behind him, Buford had not crashed through the pavement. Going back home I realized that if he had fallen through the parking lot, and then through the Chinese ground beneath it, he would probably be floating like a zeppelin somewhere in space. If he were still alive, I figured he was much better off having to learn Chinese Sign Language than knocking over stars and planets.


- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

The Bicycle Ride

Contributor: John Laneri

- -
It was another lazy summer day when I started toward Aunt Jillie’s Boarding House, a place most Texans refer to as the finest establishment in Neverton, a small community along the cattle trail to Fort Worth.

As I neared her front gate, I noticed a bicycle parked against a picket fence. Curious, I stopped to check it out.

“Why Sheriff Carson, you look like a young boy admiring a new toy.”

Turning about, I saw Jillie coming my way, her red hair glowing in the sunlight. She was undoubtedly the most beautiful woman I had ever known. I'd probably loved her since the first day we met some twenty years ago.

“I couldn’t resist the opportunity to look at a bicycle.”

She eased beside me and took my arm. “Then, take your time. We can look together.”

“These contraptions are interesting. I've been wanting to see how one works.”

She smiled easily, her voice purring like a kitten. “Is that all you wanted?”

Clearing my throat, I said, “ What I really wanted was some of your lemonade.”

She smiled, her green eyes sparkling playfully. “Some fellow drank all of the lemonade… said he pedaled that thing from Fort Worth.”

“But, that’s over fifty miles along wagon ruts and cow trails.”

“Claims he was thirsty.”

“What’s he doin’ now?”

She chuckled, her green eyes smiling with delight. “He’s splashing in my bathtub with one of the girls.”

I took a deep breath. “That’s mighty unsociable. I’ve spent most of my day thinkin’ about crawling into that tub with a glass of lemonade in one hand and you in the other.”

“We can splash together later,” she replied. “But that fellow represents money in my pocket.”

I had to appreciate her point of view, so I returned my attention to the bicycle and realized that I was admiring a world renowned, Saint Louis Flier.

I pulled it away from the fence. “Did you know this is one of the finest bicycles ever built? I read about it in a magazine.”

Jillie moved closer and ran a hand along the bars. ““This thing looks like a fun way to go places.”

I swung a leg over the seat and bounced up and down, my excitement growing. “Get on top. We’ll see if bicycle riding is worth the pedaling effort.”

She lifted her dress above her knees and settled on the handlebars. And, before long, we were moving toward the road, feeling a breeze blow in our faces.

Once at a comfortable speed, she glanced over her shoulder. “Where’re we going, Honey?”

“I was thinkin’ of peddlin’ in the direction of the river. It’s mostly downhill.”

I rumbled over a series of wagon ruts, feeling the bicycle jostle about. But, once it settled down, I increased my speed.

“Don’t go too fast,” she said, tugging her dress higher. “I don’t want a broken leg for having fun.”

“You needn’t worry. Bicycle riding is easier than I figured.”

Soon, my boots were pumping furiously – moving us from one side of the road to the other. At the bottom of the hill, we started into the woods, bouncing along a narrow footpath that followed the river.

She glanced at me, concerned. “I hope you know how to control this thing. We’re going too fast.”

I brushed her hair from my face and continued on, pushing the bicycle for all it was worth. “Keep your eyes on the trail and, tell me what you see. I know what I’m doing.”

She pointed to the side, her finger moving wildly. “Follow that path to the right. It goes away from the river.”

“I’m trying, but this thing won’t turn.”

“Then you need to stop.”

“Stop…how do I stop?”

Moments later, I was sitting in water up to my neck, spittin’ out a nasty mouthful of river and looking around for my hat. That’s when, I noticed Jillie glaring in my direction.

“One thing for sure,” she said, as she came to her feet and took a step. “You’ve ruined a perfectly good dress.” She took another step and slipped, her head plunging below the water. Struggling, she tried to stand. “And, you certainly don’t know how to entertain a lady. My hair is ruined too.”

Feeling responsible, I went to her, took her in my arms and carried her to shore, feeling my boots slog through the water. “Accidents happen, but we did get our splash together.”

I tried a smile, hoping to calm her mood.

She ignored it and looked away. “For your information, falling into the river is not the same as splashing in my bathtub. Don’t you know anything?”

“Probably not,” I said, as I eased her to the ground in the tall grass and settled nearby unsure of what to say.

For some time, I left her alone and simply reclined in the weeds, feeling the warmth of the sun cover me like a friend. By then, I was laughing to myself and enjoying the moment.

Finally, I turned to her. ”I do know one thing.”

“And what's that?” she asked, her voice on edge.

“I know you, and that’s plenty important.”

She remained quiet for some time. Then, she turned to me. “You always say the sweetest things. That's why I love you so much.”

“When I'm with you, I always speak from the heart.”

She rolled beside me and settled her head against my chest, her eyes going to mine. “Then, snuggle closer and kiss me like you mean it.”


- - -
John's writing focuses on short stories and flash. Other publications to his credit have appeared in several professional journals as well as a number of internet sites and short story periodicals.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Threshold Anxiety

Contributor: James Tressel

- -
She stands on the sidewalk and cranes her neck to see the third floor window where light flashes and stutters across begrimed glass. Shadows pulse to a dull beat there, but the people throwing them seem stilled.

She walks toward the front door through a colonnade of inky cypress. Tree to tree, a low shuddering darkness passes, and the trees shrink to shrubs. When she reaches the front door, she finds it much too small for her body. She retreats and begins to circle the building. Her eyes flicker over the graffiti gouged into its sandstone: names and accusations, the names of lovers crowding into each other.

Rounding a corner of the building, she catches an artist in the act: a little girl, braids like lengths of old rope, jaw wired shut. The girl drops her nail file to the pavement and runs. Our heroine examines what the girl had been writing. It’s another language – Letters like smashed bugs. She picks up the metal nail file. The warmth of the girl’s hand transfers to hers and, along with it, a sort of high-pitched vibration that filters through her hand like a flux of meal worms.

On her second approach to the door, our heroine finds herself crowded out: Footsteps coming closer, warm bodies approaching, low laughter, whispers. Many footsteps – warm bodies parting around her an unceasing flow of bodies parting around her as they amass on the front steps. They push her backward until she has to step down one two three steps she is no longer near the door. A pale hand reaches up and presses the buzzer.

A metallic hello comes from the speaker near the pressed button. A whispered response from the button-pusher. She faces a wall of hair – the backs of heads rise above woolen collars, long coats – those assembled on the front steps. Long lapse before the buzz. Long lapse before the click. Long lapse for her to face every one of those head backs. Noses and mouths grow from the hair. Eye caverns regard her. The smell of curling irons and alcohol and lavender. The door clicks. They pull it open and begin to flow through it. She presses towards it, but they press back crowding her out as more and more arrive, an endless stream with no place for her in it. As this progresses, the thump – thump – thump-y music billows out and buffets her ears.

She retreats again, finds a bar a few blocks away. It’s empty. Light from flaming sconces wavers on vaulted ceilings. The light is warm, but the air is cold. She draws into her coat, tries to gather nerve. No bartender to be seen at the bar, so she waits patiently, blowing on her hands. Strange place: no windows, oblong, hexagonal tables made of mahogany set in recesses around the room. All is quiet, or is it? A dim rustle of voices, whispers maybe. While she waits, she takes out the nail file and begins to gouge shapes into the pristine surface of the bar, shapes like smashed bugs. Presently, she hears footsteps approaching.

The little vandal with the wired-shut jaw appears. She’s carrying a pewter tray full of goblets of opaque, verdigris-colored liquid. She steps into one of the recesses and fumbles with the edge of the table. The top hinges up. The rattle of bones and the rip of cloth. She places a goblet into skeletal grasping fingers. Our heroine shivers and notices, for the first time, a phonograph set on the surface of the bar. Its needle bumbles about the slick space between the last track and the label at the center, a label emblazoned with a chitinous alphabet.

She runs back to the building and looks up at the window. Same oddly pulsating light, same motionless figures. Darkness smokes her approach, but she swims through it, finds the door, bores in on the button.

“Hello?” Snaps of thumping through the static. She says her name, but the door is already buzzing, breaking open. She is IN! The warmth of the hallway. Tasteful dim lighting. Heart-patterned wallpaper (crimson on gold). She walks up staircase to the second floor landing, and sees her shadow pulse as the thumping grows louder. She grips the nail file until her knuckles glow white. She is walking up the stairway to the third floor, toward the thump – thump – thump, cutting the space before her, laying a groove.


- - -
James Tressel is the author of FURNACE (Turtleneck Press, 2011). He lives in Philadelphia and is an aficionado of weird fiction.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

The Thompson Room

Contributor: Damian Wesley Du Charme

- -
Jack looked to his wife and then to the leather satchel now sitting on the hotel room table: clasp undone and zipper unzipped, revealing its contents.
“Just call the concierge to come get it and let them call the police on whomever was previously in the room,” Sandy said.

“You know we can’t afford to do that Sandy. The police will want to talk with us even if we handed it over during our check out. We’ve been here 3 days and discovered the bag last night. That would seem very suspicious to the police I’m sure.”

Sitting back down, Jack and Sandy puzzled together. Then a rap whap tap sounded from their room door.
“That’ll be lunch,” Sandy said, pointing to the door.

He heard shuffling outside the door as he approached and peered through the peephole. A tall, lanky man with giant aviator sunglasses and a strange hat peered back at him.

“This must be the bag’s owner,” Jack said to Sandy. “Can I help you, sir?” he asked through the door.

“My apologies, my name is Dr. Thompson. I actually had stayed in this room a few nights ago, and think I may have left my doctor satchel on accident” said this Dr. Thompson.

“Who did he say he was?” Sandy asked, now standing behind her husband.

“Dr. Thompson.”

Sandy glanced through the peephole. Her jaw dropped. She ripped Jack away from the door and sat him in the chair closest to the door.
“Do you realize who that is?” she asked, wide eyed.

“Some doctor…” Jack tried saying.
“Not just any regular doctor, Jack. That’s Hunter S. Thompson.”

Sandy zipped the chain over and twisted the deadbolt. She pulled the door open in a flash, to an empty hallway. Sticking her head out, Sandy looked in both directions of the halls. She came back in shutting the door softly, then looking to Jack in disbelief.

“Did that really just happen or are we both sliding into senility?” Sandy asked. Jack scratched his head, stood up, and opened the door to do the same cross glance looking down the hallway.

Nobody.

“Well it definitely happened. The question is: Where did he go so quickly?” Jack said.

The couple walked to the table with the bag atop it. Sandy put a hand in the bag, and pulled out a smaller travel bag. She unzipped it, revealing its contents.

Another knock. “Room service,” said the knocker.

“THAT will be lunch,” Jack said.
Tipping the waiter and shutting the door Jack set the tray of meals on the table next to the doctor’s bag.
“This explains the contents. What did he call it… a satchel?” Sandy said.

After they finished their lunch reminiscing about the things they’d read, and heard about Hunter Thompson, they made a unified decision to check with the concierge if Thompson might be in another room and return his bag. There was, to no surprise, no Hunter Thompson in any room.

“The two men that previously stayed in your room wrecked it to such a point nine housekeepers took three days cleaning it,” the concierge said.
Sandy considered asking if there was a Duke Raoul, but was afraid the concierge might make the connection of it being the same man she had just asked about.

Returning after dinner that night, Jack and Sandy lay together watching television. Sitting up in the bed Jack looked to the bedside clock; 1:11 AM. Jack heard a strange electrical noise. It started with a low hum, which progressed to a whirring and then a clicking sound. Realizing the sound was coming from the door, Jack moved towards the door, listening intently. Bright flashes of light from under the door stopped Jack in his tracks. The clicking changed to a clacking sound, like a hammer hitting thick metal.

“Jack what in the name of the lord is that?” Sandy asked.

“I have no clue, but I have a funny feeling something big is about to happen,” Jack said.


The door shifted and fell to the ground with a loud THUD. Jack noticed, however, the door opened from the hinge side and was pushed out of the deadbolt, hanging for a split second on the chain before landing. Thompson burst through the door, instantly looking from the couple to the opened bag on the table.

“We didn’t touch anything I swear to you,” Sandy said.

Thompson strolled over to the bag reached a hand in, and pulled out a small baggie of capsules. Handing the baggy to Jack, Thompson smiled.

“For your troubles and my thanks for not turning it over to the authorities,” Thompson said.
“What do you think the pills are?” Jack asked.
“Knowing that man’s habits I would say either mescaline or psilocybin caps.”


- - -
I'm a multi-talented man with a strong and vivid imagination. I love to write, and have had a poem published in Timeless Voices. Currently going to Full Sail University for my Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Double Vision

Contributor: Ava Wilson

- -
“Two beds? What’s with the two beds, Martha?”
“Just because there are two beds in the room, doesn’t mean anything, Joe.”
“I mean look in there, Martha. Even from a distance, the beds look like time-out corners, thought we were here to work things out.”
“We are,” she said.
Joe ran his hand over his slicked back hair, and plopped down in the fabric-covered patio chair. He leaned forward, sighed deep, and lowered his head.
“You flustered, Joe? Oh yeah, that’s right. Your version of working things out never involves any talking. Never does, Joe. We need to talk.”
“See now, there you go Martha, jumping to conclusions. I want to¬¬¬— talk.”
Martha squinted through the light-grey cloud of smoke, and tapped the train of limp ash from her cigarette.
“Want a drink, Joe? I’m having one.”
“No.”
“Suit yourself,” said Martha.
Joe loosened his tie, and sat even deeper in his chair.
“I just don’t see why you couldn’t get a different set-up.”
“We’re sitting out here, Joe, in the beautiful outdoors mind you: birds chirping, sun shining, nice breeze blowing the plastic, plant-like thingy in the corner. But what’s the first thing you start talking about, Joe, huh? The beds. What am I supposed to think?”
Joe motioned for a cigarette. Martha four-finger flicked the half-smashed pack to him.
“Just not right to start off a reconciliation with two beds, that’s all.”
“Says who, Joe? Where’s the rulebook on reconciliation? Let me guess, in your pants. Front pocket.”
“Now is that fair, Martha? Sheesh.”
“Says who then, Joe?”
“Says who? Says, says every man who…”
“Who, what? Thinks screwing is the relationship patch-up drug? Is that the ‘who’ you’re referring to?”
Joe fidgeted in his seat, cold cigarette in hand; mouth open for words, but nothing came out.
“You better light that thing, Joe, before it turns back into a tree.”
Martha gave him a light. Joe double puffed his cigarette, searching for the right answer before he exhaled. Nothing.
“Well, you have an answer? No? Didn’t think so. You know what, Joe? This little get-away wasn’t such a great idea. Why don’t we just leave things the way they are? You know, keep the bye, goodbye.”
“No, Martha, wait. I mean, just look in there. Now tell me, does that double monstrosity look like a picture of working things out to you? Not to me Martha, nope. Doesn’t look a bit hopeful, can’t wrap my head around it. There are— two of them.”
Martha stabbed out her cigarette, and took a full, deep breath.
“Joe, if you even had the brains of a cucumber, you’d think about the fact I booked a hotel room, two beds or not. Stop and think. If I planned an encounter by a cliff, or some train tracks, you’d have reason to question reconciliation practices. That’s the problem, Joe, you and your stupid one-track mind. One. Track. You never think past your—well, do I need to say it?”
“So, Martha, you’re saying we are going to sleep together, or no?”


- - -
Ava Wilson is currently acquiring her BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University. She is also a published author and illustrator of the children’s book entitled, Crunky McBunky, a published poet and playwright, her plays include, For the Love of Friends, and Feathery Heights. Ava is a professional spoken-word artist, and actor of stage and film under her stage name, Nailah Blu.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Feral Cats

Contributor: Sean Crose

- -
You can find them under, on top of, and around that small pavilion by the cove down in Milford. They all just hang around there all day, living their lives. Fishermen walk past them hour after hour, on their way to cast out for Stripers or Blues. Most of the fishermen stare at them for at least a moment or two before moving on.

At the end of the trail, right at the water, you can look across the cove and see 95 traffic coming and going. During rush hour you actually see the Metro Norths and Amtraks coming to and from Grand Central Terminal under the bridge below the freeway. It's cool standing at the end of the trail, actually. You, right there amidst nature – nature being the cove, of course – yet just beyond nature is the growl of the urban northeastern United States.

For the record, the cats never go down to the end of the path. They just don't seem all that interested in the water. Sure, one or two will head out on occasion, just like one or two will venture out to the gravel parking lot before the path. That's about the extent of the cat's travels, though. They seem either too content or too frightened to go beyond where they are.

Every day a woman comes and feeds these feral cats. I'm serious. She comes every day, twice a day, and feeds them untold amounts of dried cat food. She brings water with her, too. This woman, she cares for these feral cats, which is kind of nice, if you think about it.

Earlier today, some guy came and did the second feeding, the afternoon feeding, for her. I asked him what he was up to and he said he was taking care of the woman's chores for her since she was away for a bit. From the sounds of it she was probably on vacation.

This guy, he was in his 60s and drove a blue SUV that looked like it got washed at least once a week. It also had a license plate on the back that let you know he was a veteran of the armed services. “I don't know how these cats would survive without her,” he said of the woman. He wasn't there to fish, just feed the cats. I can only assume the same can be said of the woman herself – that she only goes to feed the cats who might well owe their survival to her generosity.

Perhaps that's why they stay around the pavilion. Some feral cats are better off staying put. Unlike humans, they have no need for freeways or trains that race in and out of Grand Central Terminal.


- - -
Sean Crose teaches writing at Post University and Philadelphia University. He's also a columnist for Boxing Insider. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and Cody, the World's Greatest Cat.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Wines and Sunsets

Contributor: John Laneri

- -
Before Sharon came into my life, I rarely traveled to New York City. The place was too busy for a small town lawyer from Texas.

I first met her that afternoon at her firm's office where she represented legal council for one of my client’s business interests.

On entering her suite, I glanced about. The setting was impressive as were the impressionist paintings on the walls. From what I saw, I pictured Ms. Sharon Parker as a high priced, no nonsense woman who wore sensible shoes and trampled other lawyers for fun.

My first surprise came when I encountered an attractive woman wearing a fashionable suit accented with a white silk blouse and sexy, high heel pumps.

She rose from behind a large desk and extended a hand to greet me, her bright eyes and dark hair projecting an alluring presence, one reminiscent of a fine wine.

“Thank you for coming. May I call you Greg?”

I indicated yes, as I removed my Stetson and set it in my lap.

She glanced at the hat, seemingly amused, then she reached for a portfolio of papers. “I’ve studied your client’s proposal. It’s interesting, but there are several points that need further clarification.”

Her approach seemed a bit formal for what I was proposing, so I said, “My client’s intentions are sincere. He’s an honest small town boy trying to make the deal work for both parties.”

“I’m sure he is, but lets dig a bit deeper, shall we?”

We continued to discuss our differences for several minutes. Then, she asked, “Do you come to New York often? ”

“Only for business.”

She seemed surprised. “It’s a wonderful city. You really should take a closer look.”

“Perhaps later,” I replied, feeling a bit annoyed by her motherly tone. ”But now, I think we should amend paragraph five of section three.”

She sighed and glanced in my direction. “Is that really what you want?”

By then, I was beginning to wonder what made the woman tick. I was merely requesting simple clarification of a minor point. It was something that could have easily been handled on the phone, but she had insisted that we meet face to face, so I ended up half way across the country, sitting in her office arguing trivia.

A phone call interrupted us. She answered it then turned away, her manner conveying disgust. After a lengthy conversation, during which she walked to the far side of the room, her hands gesturing heatedly, she returned to me, her face flushed.

“Is everything okay? I asked.

Ignoring me, she paused to gather herself. Then forcing a smile, she again reached for her papers saying, “I understand you're from Texas.”

“Yes ma'am, I practice out of a small town west of San Antonio.”

“Do you have a ranch like most people from Texas?”

Surprised by her comment, I chuckled to myself and replied, “I manage to graze about five hundred head of beef cattle. I also do some farming to keep the acreage in use.”

She looked at me quizzically. “I can't imagine living away from the romance of a big city. We have everything one ever needs.”

“I manage to get by. It's not so hard once you get use to the clear skies and clean air.”

“But, don't you miss the city lights, the hustle and bustle?” she asked, her voice skeptical.

“No ma'am. I like the quiet. It gives me time to enjoy the sunsets while I sip my wine and kick off my boots after a hard day's work.”

She smiled, as if she had won a point. “I thought cowboys only drank beer.”

“When we're hot and sweaty, a cold beer is mighty fine. But in the evenings, I prefer the wines from my vineyards.”

Surprised, she asked, “Cowboys make their own wine too?”

“Yes ma'am, I have about a fifty acres for vines and a winery for my fermentation vats and bottling plant.”

“I'm impressed,” she smiled, as she seemed to relax. “Very impressed. You're a busy man.”

In an attempt to redirect her thoughts, I asked, “Have you made a decision as to my client’s position regarding paragraph five? It would definitely allow both parties to profit handsomely.”

We continued to discuss our differences for awhile longer, but she remained distracted and hesitant to concede any points, saying only that she would gladly pass my suggestions on to her client, so I suggested that we take a another approach.

“Another approach?” she asked, her eyes questioning to mine.

“Yes Ma’am... our differences are minimal. So, let's finish discussing them while we have dinner and share a bottle of wine. Later, if you like, you can show me around the city. Maybe, we'll even catch a sunset.”

She studied me for a few moments then smiling pleasantly, she set her papers aside. “I favor the wines from France. But, I doubt we'll see a colorful sunset.”

“Whatever you like. But I have to admit, the Texas wines are worth a look. Life is best appreciated when the spirit inside is unlocked and allowed to roam free.”

She pushed away from her desk, her features beginning to brighten. “Then, let's do a Texas wine. I'm ready to roam free for a change.”

And, that’s how it went. We had our night on the town. We failed to see a sunset worth mentioning. And best of all, we discovered each other.

Truth be told, after we moved to the ranch, she began to enjoy life again, as the wines and the sunsets set her free, then drew us together, captured our spirits and allowed us to become one.


- - -
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

How the First Interview was Thwarted

Contributor: David Macpherson

- -
Disaster Doll the First was late for our interview where she was to discuss the history of roller derby. I was informed that she removed her feeding tubes, left her room and was up on the roof of the nursing home pitching donuts in a wheelchair she stole from the basement storage closet. How she got herself down the four floors to the basement and up to the roof froze the Duty Nurse with dread. “She should not be able to do this. She’s 97 years old.”

She was going to say more but was interrupted by an orderly who said, “Not 97. She told me she’s 108 this April.”

The Duty Nurse glared, “WHy are you correcting me with numbers and not trying to get her back to her bed. 108. She’s not 108. No one at the age of 108 is going to be drag racing a manual wheelchair on the roof.”

“And that’s an acceptable practice in someone 97? Also, ain’t she supposed to be vegetative after that last stroke of hers?” The orderly asked.

The Duty Nurse unstuck enough to point her arm up to the heavens. “You are talking and not going up and stopping her. For the love of God, stop her before she goes back to taking hostages again.”

The orderly ran to the stairwell, say me and my pencil scratching at my notepad and stopped. He said to me, “You need to write that last part down. About the hostages. She always returns them. Mostly. And the folks she takes, they swear its the most fun they’ve had in ages.”

“Go!” the Duty Nurse shouted and he headed out. She finally looked at me and said, “Now why are you here?”

I told her that I was to write about Disaster Doll the First and her century of experience in the roller derby. “It’s a think piece,” I explained.

She shook her head with weary resignation. “She never mentioned anything about roller derby. I don’t know anything about her and that. That’s a crazy sport. Only crazy people would do that and we have genteel ladies and gentleman in this establishment. You must be mistaken.”

It was a great joy then when we both spied out the window at the end of the hallway to see knotted together bedsheets fall down to the ground. Soon after a small emaciated elderly woman with full sleeves of tattoos and wearing a pink dressing gown slid down past the window and was soon gone from sight. Seconds later I heard an engine start and tires squeal. “She stole the ambulance. She always steals the ambulance,” the Duty Nurse said as she slowly reached for the phone and called the police. She gave me one final look to tell me the interview was postponed.

Before I left I went into Disaster Doll the First’s room. I wanted to see how such a legend lived. Her side of the room was neat and generic. The bed was unmade and the tubes on the floor, which was understandable due to her speedy exit. Taped on the wall was only one poster. In block letters, it spoke of the dramatic return of the only true Disaster Doll to the ring. It was ripped and yellowed. “Are you my son?” I heard a voice say.

I turned to see the other resident of the room, a small shriveled woman residing in a hospital bed. He hair was thin and she had no teeth. “Are you Richard? You my son come back to see me?”

I told her that I was a reporter wanting to know about her roommate. “Why you asking about her Richard? She’s a mad one. She never settled down. She never had herself a family. Not like our family. She wasted her time trying to have too much fun. That’s mad. So come and talk to your mother and don’t make me wait one more minute.”

I probably should have sat down and gave her my time. But I only considered deadlines and roller rinks. I had leads I could track down. I told her goodbye and that I still was not Richard.

When I got to the parking lot, I discovered that Disaster Doll the First had not taken off in the ambulance. She had hot wired my car. I sat on the curb, waiting for the police, staring at my notes in the belief that that would return us all to order.


- - -
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Morning Once More

Contributor: Tom Vinson

- -
The dishes were piled high and the kitchen smelled of wet bananas. The trash receptacle stood a foot and a half away; green smoke, revealing itself, thusly- ”Good afternoon” said the smoke, hat tipped. It was time to open a window, but the chipmunk, the one I thought I’d shooed away four hours prior, wasn’t having it.
I caught my reflection in the toaster. ”I don’t have a toaster” I said. My friend Garvy’s dad stood on my roof looking in. He smiled and waved. I waved back. Atypical, but I was having it. This is how it is .

Sometimes when you take a pee, it smells like certain things. This afternoon it smelled like the coffee I hadn’t yet drank’n.

Pre-emptive odors for a noon pee read the headline of the Yearly Shave. This is how it would be. I would not shave for a year. For it was Tight that told me that women like a man with facial hair. ”Never have a clean shaven face” he said to me. I continued to drink my beer. I poured it over Rice Sally, but then I asked for a cigarette. ”We can share one” I said. ”Have one of your own” she said back. I stood like a laughing Roman column and inquired about Rice Sally’s boyfriend, a bouncer at the bar we currently occupied; from the outside. ”It’s a funny story” she said and I told her I was in the mood to laugh. ”It’s not ha ha funny. Just sort of weird.” She told her story as we smoked our cigarettes.

Back inside, it was Brian with the tubes and the catheters and the what not up his nose. We stood in line for the bathroom. ”I don’t know what I’m doing” I said. He looked at me and said “You’re waiting for the bathroom.”

There it was just then; the chipmunk. I shooed it away from off the roof, but I felt bad. I leaned on the bathroom door and it opened and I was knocked on my side. Brian, his tubes dangling towards a hungry chipmunk that nibbled at a catheter, looked at me and said “There you are.”

The smell of the wet bananas, though. It was a distinct Harold. And yet, Connie…


- - -
Primarily a theater writer in Asheville, North Carolina. Enjoys making something bizarre from the minute and something comprehensible from the large and terrifying.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati


Help keep Linguistic Erosion alive! Visit our sponsors! :)- - -


Archive