Monday, January 15, 2018

Work In Progress

"Let me see your face," said Autumn. 
"What?  Why?"
"Because."
"All right, all right.  Geez."
It seemed like hours before Zenda appeared on Autumn's phone.  The elder Mercer daughter held the phone tilted down in the typical selfie pole position.  She waved.  Fluttered her eyelids. 
"There you go.  Through the magic of technology, here I am in all my glory, twenty crow's feet deep.  Happy?"
"Yes."
"You don't sound happy."
"Are you alone?"
"'Am I alone?'  Um.  Do you mean in the practical, physical aspect of aloneness or are you delving deeper, like, philosophically, yes, I am alone the same way we're all alone, little sister."
"Where are you?"
"At work.  Trying to be productive."
"You're in Portland?"
"Um.  Ye-ah." 
"Do you have a gun?"
"'Do I have a...'  Ok.  No.  Now, right now, Autumn, tell me what the fuck, I mean, seriously, what the fuck is going on?  You're being weird like Uncle Jim weird, and I can tell you, we really don't need another were-schizophrenic in the clan."

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Work In Progress

Putney rubbed a liver-spotted hand across his jaw.  His eyes were a peerless clear blue.  Griffin had read Olan's jottings, theorizing about why Gunderson's Horn would exist as an entry and exit spot between realities.  Olan posited eyes as bright and clear as Putney's could see into all the realities.  They just hooded all that extra-dimensional goodness from the brain.  Packed the information overload up into crates and stacked them deep into the shadows.  Otherwise, glory upon glory going off like a fireworks show without end, Putney would be reduced to a gibbering drooling idiot. 
"I don't know about coming to see me," said Putney.  "Think your friend liked people about as much as I like going to the toilet.  Tell you this though, he liked Cody."
At the sound of his name, the Australian sheepdog mix barked, picked up his overly soiled tennis ball of choice, and ears perked, studied the two men, trying to determine which was the more likely to step up and huck the ball the length of Putney's fenced in property.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Work In Progress

Neither man stared at Sam's left cheek.  At the ravaged flesh.  She had come to the conclusion the wounds looked like a topographic map, a satellite camera looking down on ruins, or some hedge garden, the green going red, nature infected by poisoned soil. 
Sam looked over her left shoulder.  Dad and Mom stood in the dining room, more or less all of ten feet away from the living room.  A chair turned away from the dining room table, facing the living room like Mom had been sitting, waiting for Sam to appear. 
Mom smiled.  Her quick smile.  There and gone. 
Pete and Mr. Krill sat back down on the couch.
Pete looked at the recliner just to Sam's left but didn't ask her if she wanted to sit down.  That earned him a point.  Since the cops had found her and since the first of many trips to a hospital, Sam had lost count of the people asking her if she didn't want to sit down. 
The gesture had worn out its welcome.  
"The asshole cut my fucking face off," she'd kept wanting to say.  "Not my fucking legs."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Work In Progress

Over the phone, Eleanor heard her son exhale.  Heard the moist munching of the residual Fritos paste slickened across his tongue.
"I was here," he said.
"Well, right," said Eleanor.  "But Justin, she didn't know where you were."
"I was here."
She sighed.  She was on her feet, walking in long elliptical loops across her hotel room carpet. 
"So why didn't you tell her where you were?  She was worried, honey.  You don't want people to worry about you, right?"
"I didn't hear her."
"You didn't hear her?"
"No."
"You were there, but you didn't hear her?"
"No."
Eleanor pushed the tip of her index finger into the space between her eyebrows.  Where a headache was gathering mad force. 
"What were you doing?" she asked.  "If you were there, if you couldn't hear Kendall calling after you, what were you up to?"
"I was following a man," said Justin.
"'A man'?"
"Uh-huh."
"What man?"
"I don't know.  Just a man.  He was in the house." 
"In the house?"
"Yeah."
"Is he still there?"
"No," said Justin.  "He's gone.  He told me to let him go so I let him go."
Four-year-olds.  If hiding from a babysitter and fibbing to his mom was the worst Justin would do, that was fine.  So long as it didn't metastasize and result in physical injury or inflict long-term madness.  The less stress he endured the better.  Eleanor didn't want him to repeat any part of her childhood. 
At four, Eleanor had been deep in the throes of not having a mom around anymore, of being bounced between sets of grandparents while Ned came to terms with his spouse's suicide.  Although he was remarried, an admired poet, a tenured professor complete with the estimable shock of bone-white hair, thirty years on Ned was still at a loss, floating in the black, absent one Althea Bluth.  

Friday, January 5, 2018

"Do you remember Humpsweet?"


Isn't Humpsweet the last name of that one guy from the old neighborhood?  We never saw his wife and made up stories that there was no wife, only a series of ever more elaborately dressed mannequins, positioned near windows, moved according to a fastidiously prepared matrix.  One mannequin kept in the car in the garage, the car Humpsweet took out on Saturday night, after dark, supposedly to bingo at the Elks lodge, but in reality he parked in the Shavers grocery store parking lot, towards the back, half-in and half-out of the buttered tinge of the parking post glow, and then slipped down an alley and one shave-and-a-haircut knuckle rap later earned entrance to the basement of the sporting goods where the proprietor and his brother fired up the Super 8 and showed hardcore Bangkok child-on-child action for an honored and pre-selected few. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

"Do you remember Humpsweet?"


For you the name Humpsweet might trigger a long dormant set of taste buds.  Like it was a brand name.  An entire family of products.  Sausage links and patties, sausage crumbles, skillets, stuffed hash browns, and bacon, and bacon and maple stuffed breakfast sandwiches with deep fried cinnamon waffles serving as the toast.  And in your sophomore year of college you not only gave up the familiar Humpsweet line of frozen delicacies but all sources of meat at the behest of a girl of the hippie persuasion, a 'veg' as your dad would say, or, "Hey, hear you went veg to score yourself some vag," as your roommate so eloquently colored the picture.  
And you stayed true, no meat at all for maybe six weeks, until Thanksgiving vacation, and although you promised Ronnie you wouldn't roll back to those old destructive eating habits, first meal, on your own, off her leash, you didn't put up a fight.  The day before turkey day, Mom set the ham down on the dinner table and the promise to the girl with the best knockers you were ever going to touch this lifetime was instantly annihilated.  After you broke up (she could smell the fucking meat in your semen, Mr. Oops), you tried to buck up, ticking off the stats, the sheer dearth of females in the student body and the fact that to that date in time, in your near 20 years of life, although you did look just a little too much like the guy that played Gilligan, boom, you'd already slept with 11 girls (including Ronnie, the veg, the hippie, the owner of considerable armpit hair, fuck her and the vegan dick she rode in on).  
So yeah, you might think Humpsweet references an industry standard, a purveyor of meatie goodness, but that isn't what Humpsweet references, not at all, not that you care, because anytime your hear the name Humpsweet, you think of meat, you think of Ronnie, and you can smell what your mingled sweat smelled like in thin bubbles laced all through the strands of her unshaved armpits.  Heaven, Mr. Oops.  It smelled like Heaven.  You lived there for all of six weeks, once, a very, very long time ago.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Paper Traitor (in progress)


He saved money, sidestepping the necessity of shampoo and soap and shower spray.  His trickster tongue was like a cat tongue, coated in barbs that gathered grime and dirt, polishing his hair and flesh to a gleam.  The taste was awful, gag-inducing, but finished, polished, gleaming, he felt accomplished.  Prepared for the tasks ahead.  Outlasting his doomsayers.