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Richard and Wilson stood on the bridge watching the barges as they moved lazily up and down the river. Well, Richard was watching the river traffic; Wilson had made himself comfortable on the pavement. He was watching the cars as they drove across the bridge. The evening sun had painted the city with glowing orange light. It was that magic time of day when anything could happen.
“Richard, are you hungry at all?” Wilson asked.
“Sorry, what did you say?”
“I asked if you were hungry. Feeling a bit peckish, maybe?”
“I don’t know, Wilson. I think I’m a bit homesick right now. Not really feeling up to snuff. I want to eat, that’s certain; but with the full moon, my wings have blackened. I dare not attempt to hunt. Not safe to fly about the city with my wings in this state, you know. I should be OK in a couple of days though. Don’t tell me you are thinking of going to a pub? Don’t tell me that you fancy a pint, and a dish of shepherds’ pie?”
“I should say not,” Wilson replied. “Remember what happened last time we tried that. It makes me shudder just to think about it!”
Richard threw his head back and laughed. A loud laugh that came from deep in his belly – the water got a little rougher on the river below. “Looking back at it now I actually find it rather humorous,” he said.
“Yeah, it really was, wasn’t it?” Wilson smiled as he remembered too. “Only in hindsight though mind you, only in hindsight.
‘No, I was actually thinking of something a little more in keeping with our standard modus operandi. I was thinking we might stop one of these cars. We could take the driver rather easily. A BMW went past a moment ago with a tasty looking woman in the driver’s seat, two young children in the back that would have made delicious starters. We might even want to stop one of these coaches. That would be a bit like going to a buffet, I think. We could let them all run about on the bridge for awhile before we dined. You know, play with our food a bit!”
“Oh, you’re bad Wilson, you really are! Can you imagine what my mother would say if she knew I was even contemplating such a thing?”
“So, don’t tell her Richard. She need never know. What do you think?”
“I think it’s a bodacious idea Wilson.” Richard smiled, “I especially fancy the fun we could have with a coach. When the next one comes along I’ll step out in traffic and spread my wings. These black wings will stop them for sure. You open the door and leap on board. Make sure you roar really bloody loud and look ferocious.”
Wilson bared his teeth and roared – the colour of the setting sunlight shifted, ever so slightly, “Like this, you mean?”
“That’s excellent,” they high-fived, “No wonder you’re ‘King of the Jungle’.”
They both crouched a bit when they saw a silver coach turn onto the High Street and head in their direction. Richard was actually holding his breath in anticipation. What a splendid day.
“Hi Dad,” Samantha said when she walked into my office and plopped herself on the edge of my desk.
“Hey Sam,” I replied. “I wasn’t expecting you. What’s up?”
“Nothin’ much. I was running some errands and realized how close I was. I thought maybe I could convince you to take me to lunch. Hey, who’s this?” she picked up the wooden frame that sat next to my phone.
Behind the picture glass was a portrait of a young lady taken outdoors. The sunlight reflected off her cheeks but her large inquisitive eyes, staring at the camera, were shaded by her auburn hair; hair that wound carelessly down over her left shoulder. She wore a coarse knit, crew neck sweater in shades of green. She sported a half smile and looked happy.
Sam grinned as she studied the photo. “I used to have a sweater just like that one,” she said. “This girl looks familiar. Do I know her? Who is she?”
I closed the open file on my desk and set it aside, “Well shit, Sam. This wasn’t how it was supposed to play out. I don’t know what was supposed to happen but it sure wasn’t this.”
“Her name is Emily, she’s 15 years old. She looks familiar because she looks a lot like you.”
Sam studied the picture and spun slowly to sit in one of the chairs across the desk from me. She narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips a little, “Dad?” She repeated.
“She’s your sister. Well, half sister.”
“Does Mom know?”
“Of course she does. I could never keep secrets from her. We worked this out long ago.”
Sam kept looking straight at me, obviously anticipating more.
“Emily and her mother live down south. Years ago, I had a brief affair. Emily was the result. I see her as often as possible. Emily’s a wonderful girl Sam. I think you’d like her.”
Entre – Begin
Find yourself, learn to breathe
Position yourself and start to put down roots
Grow, learn, and reach for the heavens if you so choose.
Pick some friends.
Let some pick you.
Strike a balance.
The world is yours
Prepare to experience it.
Meet Lorraine and lose yourself in her curls.
I keep coming back, hoping.
Some mornings I’m holding my breath
Usually, I leave disappointed.
I find stories about important things, to be sure.
Stories about Racism, Feminism, Rape, and Harassment, to name a few.
Often, horrible things.
Topics that indeed warrant discussion,
Stories about illness,
physical sometimes, but seemingly more often mental.
Stories about loss,
Struggles. Open letters.
Tutorials on how to be a man or a mom. Memorials for recently passed celebrities.
I would welcome the addition of more warm prose!
“Feel good” verse strewn about the grid like the freckles
scattered across a red-headed kid’s nose
The writing is always superb
The voice is most often eloquent
The subject matter – too frequently:
earnest, deep, somber, grave
I do not mean to marginalize your cause
That is not my intent.
I seek a more balanced diet of ideas
I seek art without an agenda.
Sometimes, I just want to smile,
is that too much to ask?
Something to read that leaves me with a light in my eye,
A spring in my step.
I’m gonna climb down off my soapbox now
I’ve pulled on your coat enough here.
Red, Orange, Gold
The canopy trees are showing off again.
The air is crisp
Like the creases on your new trousers
The pleats of her skirt
When Lorraine turns her head and laughs
You see her joy and wonder. Visible as
rising puffs of vapor
tangled in her curls.
Ephemeral, Fleeting, Momentary
Breathe deeply – take it all in – remember the moment.
The lump of molten plastic and wires oozed listlessly across the floor.
Andre sat on the concrete slab, in the dark, leaning against the wall. He stared at his latest in a long line of ‘almosts’. His eyebrows were singed and his nostrils burned from the smoke.
“Gotta get the power back on – next time, it’ll work next time. I just know it will.”
There was a slow drizzle and it was still dark when Luanne got on her bike and headed south. She rode away from Andy Palmgren. She rode away from the house at #13 Avenida Abaddon. She rode away from San Ceviche with no intention of returning.
Her small grip was strapped on the book rack. It held a couple changes of clothes, and what would turn out to be a winning lottery ticket. Most importantly though, tucked into the top was her copy of the book. The Stone, by Alicia Margolies. The book she had bought at the small shop downtown. It was the only copy in the store and Luanne had been drawn by the cover art. Specifically by the palette that the artist had used when creating the cover art but it was what was inside, written on the pages, that really woke her up.
Pedaling quickly, she knew it was important to get as much distance between herself and Andy as possible. Once he realized what she had done he would send his ‘boys’ to look for her and bring her back. You didn’t leave Andy Palmgren – Andy Palmgren left you. Andy was not going to be happy. Luanne’s choice of conveyance was unexpected however, and she didn’t think it would occur to the searchers to look for a bicyclist. She had dyed her hair and cropped it close to her head as an extra layer of insurance.
She considered what she was doing and how she had gotten to this point. Margolies’ book had not caused the need to flee. The fissure, the separation, had existed long before that; but the book certainly contributed to the widening of the gap. What she had read on those pages opened her eyes and gave her a new perspective on life and how she had been living hers. It helped steel her resolve to change things.
The buildings and houses grew further apart as the sun rose. She knew she would have to get off the coast highway soon. On the back roads she would be less conspicuous. She turned inland on 43 and soon found a remote convenience store that would offer something to eat. She pulled in, leaned her bike against a wall, and went inside. From the cooler she chose a bacon and egg sandwich wrapped in cellophane and heated it in the microwave as she filled a large cup with coffee.
Tiny and Ed were standing next to her bike when she left the building. Their long black SUV parked behind. Trying not to show surprise at seeing them, she waved, “Hi Tiny, hey Ed. What’re you guys doing out here?”
“We’re looking for you Luanne. Andy was worried when he woke up and you were gone.”
“I’m just on a bike ride, guys.”
“You never mentioned you were going on a bike ride. We’ll give you a lift back home,” Ed told her. “Tiny, can you put her bike in the back of the SUV?” He reached up to push his hair behind his ear and Luanne saw the blue steel of the pistol he carried in his shoulder holster.
Ed seldom carried a piece, and the fact that he had one now worried Luanne. It meant he had another agenda. She threw her coffee and sandwich at him and turned to run. She didn’t hear the silenced shot. She didn’t feel anything. She only wished that she had gotten further.
The 65 million dollar ticket was never claimed.
Modified to correct spelling and punctuation errors – Thanks RG your input is valued!
It was last Thursday, lunchtime and I was sitting at the picnic table in the yard at work. The yard where I work is not like your yard at home. It has no lawn or gardens. The yard where I work is surrounded by 10 foot high chain link fence, topped with coils of razor wire. It is all paved asphalt except where the picnic table is situated. The picnic table sits on a concrete slab about 8 x 8. That slab is surrounded by the asphalt that makes up the rest of the yard. We use the yard to store scrap metal: iron, steel, aluminum and the like until we have enough to warrant a trip to the recyclers. The yard is not a particularly nice place to have lunch but some days it is better than the break room. I was just finishing up my peanut butter and bologna sandwich when Solly limped out to the table and sat across from me.
“Hey Solly,” I said, “I haven’t seen you around the shop for a while. Where ya been?”
“I was in the hospital for a couple of days,” he said, “then I was at home for a couple more. I had to heal up enough to sit down again before I could come back to work. Good thing for me I spend most of the day on my feet and not at a desk.”
“Sounds pretty serious Solly. What happened?”
“I bought that dirt bike off Craig’s List that I’ve been looking at. That’s what happened.”
“Sorry, Solly, I don’t understand how that would put you in the hospital unless you had an accident out riding.”
“All right let me lay it out for you. The bike is a classic 1972 Bultaco.”
“Let me tell the story, will ya? I got it home and was showing it to some of the guys on the back porch at the house. Long story short, I kicked it over and when the engine started I accidentally dumped the clutch. The bike took off, threw me down and went through the back screen door, hit the wall in the living room and fell over. It was a mess man. My leg got cut pretty bad and my wife took me to the emergency room. They stitched me up and sent me home.
“Anyway, when I got home there was gasoline all over the carpet in the living room and I soaked up what I could with toilet paper and paper towels. I put the paper towels in the trash but I figured it would be best to just flush the TP, ya know? So that’s what I did.
“It had been one of those days already and it wasn’t even lunch time. I wanted to cry. My new bike was all effed up and so was my carpet. My screen door was broken, I’m still going to have to fix the drywall in the living room, and my wife was mad. My buddies were laughing at me so I needed some time to myself, ya know?”
I nodded my head to keep him talking. It sounded pretty bad but a trip to the emergency room and an angry wife is not the same as a couple of days in the hospital. I wanted to hear more.
“I went into the bathroom and sat on the can. It’s the only place I knew where no one would bother me. The only thing to read in there was one of Marie’s ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ magazines. I grabbed it and lit a cigarette. When I tossed the match between my legs into the bowl, the toilet exploded. The only thing I can figure is that there were gas fumes trapped in there from the TP I had used to clean the carpet.
“Marie came running and when she stopped laughing she called 911. The ambulance took me back to the hospital and I spent the next two days lying on my stomach. It took that doctor two hours to get all the porcelain shards out of my butt and there were some pretty serious burns too.”
I had been smiling for a while but at this point I couldn’t hold it back any more. I burst out laughing. “Sorry Solly,” I gasped, “but ya gotta admit…”
He smiled, “Yeah, go ahead and laugh – it’s kinda funny now but it wasn’t very funny last Saturday.”