Tag Archives: Short Stories

#5MinuteFiction Week 39: Teapot


His ears and face were burning red. Why was he on the verge of tears? Was it fear or shame? Was it the thought of bearing his father’s disappointment? Poor kid. But the teapot…

The teapot had always been in my life. It was a great loss. I couldn’t even speak to him about it yet. It wasn’t that I was angry with him. Loss is just…loss. I could still see the bright green, ceramic teapot sitting on my grandmother’s stove. I could see her pouring out the afternoon tea. Feel the steam on my young face.

It didn’t matter whether or not he’d been careless. I just needed to look at it for a moment trying to imagine how it could be repaired. He would have my forgiveness soon, but first the loss. What would my mother say if she saw it lying here in pieces? That it didn’t matter? That Grannie didn’t really like this teapot that much anyway? That accidents happen? Probably.

“Dustin.”
“Yes?”
“Come help me clean this up, ok?”

He didn’t look at me. I could tell he was trying to hide his reddened cheeks and teary eyes from me.

As we collected the broken pieces, I put my hand on his shoulder and smiled his face up to mine.

“Hey, accidents happen. Don’t take it so hard.”

In my own voice, I could hear my mother’s and her mother’s. It was ok.


Bay City Runaway


Walking Home On a Foggy Night - William Buckley Jr

She didn’t move.  She didn’t even blink.  She just stared back at me with a single question in her weary eyes . I still wasn’t sure if she was actually there.  After downing five drams of single malt some time earlier, I had passed out and had only just awoken at the sound at the window–actually, my body still slumbered in a scotch induced stupor, but my eyes were awake, and the shock of seeing someone at my window in the middle of a cold night had set my ears ringing.  But even still, I understood what she was asking.

I could just make out her face in the dim, halogen porch light of my Powell Street home on the edge of China Town.   I’d seen her earlier that evening down the street outside of Foley’s when I stepped out into the foggy night for a smoke.  She’d approached me, ghostlike and wordless, communicating her desire to bum a cigarette with a faint hand gesture.  I didn’t speak and I barely even looked at her, save a single moment of eye contact as I lit her cigarette, then she walked away glancing back at me once.  In her eyes I could see her need, and on her face I could see the bruising of a cruel hand.

A dilemma had frozen me in the stare, our eyes locked in an unanswered plea.  I’d met my share of hustlers in this bay city, but,  she was so lovely that  it would almost be worth the hustle.  But no, the need on her face was real, and she couldn’t have been more than seventeen.

But why me?  Why would she follow me?  Why not a friend or family…or a shelter?  Jesus! I was a stranger to her–a drunken, lonely bastard of a man on the street; too young to be her father, too old to be her lover.

I broke the stillness with a nod.

She was pale and shivering from the cool, damp night.  I watched her intently and silently as she passed over my threshold into my living room.  No words had come to my mind, so I did not speak, and even if they had, my tongue would have been too slow to form anything but foolishness.  She sat on my couch, and I handed her a heavy woolen blanket.

She had not been on the street for long, I guessed.  She didn’t smell badly–only of damp, night air and Marlboro.  Her clothes looked relatively fresh–jeans, hoodie, backpack, and sneakers.  I poured her a brandy from a crystal decanter–the one thing I kept for myself–and sank back down in the leather club chair where I’d just moments before been sleeping and had been every night since I’d moved in three weeks earlier.   She put the glass to her lips, her eyes never leaving mine.  Her mouth showed only a trace of grimace from the strength of the drink as she swallowed.

She broke the silence.

“I’m Amy.”

I took a sip of  scotch, and cleared my throat a bit.

“Hey, Amy.  I’m Brian.”  The words hung around my spinning head as if they weren’t mine.  “How can I help you?”

She shrugged her slender shoulders.  “Can I crash here tonight?”

“Why here?”  I replied, clumsily, perhaps even coarsely.

She shrugged again.  “I guess you were nice to me in front of the bar?”

“Look,” I started, “if this is a hustle,  I….”

“It’s not a hustle!”  she shouted, her voice breaking.  “Listen, I just need a place to stay tonight.  That’s all.”  Silent tears began to rolled out of her eyes pleading for just an ounce of mercy.

“Ok, ok.  Relax.”

Gesturing toward me, she said, “I guess you seemed–I dunno–like you’re running away from something, too.”   Her body relaxed into a slump as she dried the tears on her hoodie sleeve.  She sniffed and  took another sip of brandy making a sour face this time.  She put it down on the coffee table between us.

“Do you need to call anybody?”

She shook her head, and pulled the blanket close around her.

“Amy, are you ok?” I asked, my tone softening.

She nodded and settled back into the couch.  She seemed so at home…or maybe just too exhausted to care.

I watched her sleep for a while and listened to her breathing–almost peaceful– unconsciously timing it with the ticking of the mantel clock.  Asleep, her face was a child’s, spoiled only by the green and purple bruise under her right eye.

She was gone when I awoke the next morning, the runaway.  The blanket was folded on the arm of the couch exactly as it had been when she’d arrived, brandy snifter put away.  I might never see her again, and I wasn’t really certain I’d ever seen her at all.

As I let the steam from my freshly brewed coffee rise to my face, I pondered her words:

you’re running away from something, too…

part 2


Final Pilgrimage


He meditated on the sound of his boots pressing into the freshly packed snow, a million crushed snowflakes singing out together in fatal communion, while a burning Camel Blue that had promised peaceful succor in the icy sting of winter hung weakly from his lips.  He’d walked this path many times, and he wondered how many more times he would need it.

The snow around the tiny building of glass and aluminum was undisturbed, artfully sculpted by the sweeping winds of the Oklahoma plains.   He entered the smokers’ shelter as if it were a sacred chapel, and in some ways, it had been.  First kicking the snow from his boots, he sat down at the table and extinguished the cigarette in the glass altar that awaited his ashen offering.

For a moment, he listened to the wind pressing it’s force against the northern wall of the structure and pondered peace.  Would this next smoke bring him any peace?  Would it trigger the dopamine rush that began his worshipful love affair with a god that rolled itself in white and brown paper?  Doubtfully, he fished deeply in the pockets of his woolen, smoke-stained pea-coat and fingered the smooth, steel of a Zippo and the sharp corners of a cardboard Ark of the Covenant of sorts.   Ritually tilting and patting the half-empty pack, he eased out a cigarette and lit the end with a crack of flame.

Each puff was a dying prayer to a dying god.  Plumes of faintly felt bereavement poured from his mouth and nose.

After driving the final paper nail into the now dead altar, he dropped the pack and the Zippo in to the waste basket, knowing that this would be his final pilgrimage.  Slowly endeavoring the return journey to his office, he let the cold hand of Winter caress his cheeks numb hoping for some kind of purification.  From deep within his ruminations, an old idea awoke in his mind, that peace–true peace–had not forgotten him.  It sang its song under his feet, whistling in his stinging ears, cracking a new fire in the dark places of his restless heart.


Lenten Man


The Lenten Man - David Wilson-Burns © 2010

“Where am I?”

“Oh my God.  Phillip.  You’re in the hospital, honey.  You had an accident.  Oh sweety.”

His neck cramped with pain as he attempted to survey the room, his eyes eventually focusing and settling on a praying woman at his bedside.  He squinted at her through the bandages and crushing pain in his face and began to cry hot, stinging tears. Something terrible was wrong, but he knew this woman.  Somehow, he could feel her love flowing through his veins. He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths.

“Jessica.  You’re Jessica,” he croaked, his voice barely audible.

“Yes, sweetheart, it’s Jessica.   I’m your wife.”

“Jessica.  Yes.   I know you.  Yes, sweetheart.  Yes, I’m your husband…so confused…don’t remember what happened…can’t remember. ”

“Honey, just rest.   You’re going to be ok.  God is taking care of you.”

All the time she’d been holding his hand.  And she kept holding and patting his hand as she bowed her head and wept in a low, murmuring stream of sobs and prayers.

“Yes, God is taking care of you, Phillip.”

God, thought Phillip. Yes, God.   God is taking care of me.

Glimpses of the last forty days began to form in his aching head.  Glimpses of prayer and fasting and worship and study of scripture.   These things he held on to, turning them over and over in his mind like precious jewels that he could scarcely believe were his.   They were nearly all he had left.  He thought of his wife who was holding his hand.  He thought of —Yes, children–his two beautiful children.  And he thought of his God…who took  care of him

Phillip’s memory never fully returned.  He remembered pieces of his childhood.  He remembered how he and Jessica had met.  He remembered falling in love with her.  He didn’t remember the days his children were born.  He wasn’t even there, but he didn’t remember that either.  He just remembered that he loved them.  He didn’t remember the nights of pouring stinging, numbing booze down his throat, the endless string of one night stands with roadside bar girls, or the times when he threw his fist into other drunken men’s faces.   He didn’t remember Easter night three days before, when he plowed his truck into an the 60-year-old, oak tree a half mile from a bar off route 77 with a fifth of bargain whiskey in his gut.

The only span of his life that he could remember with any completeness or clarity was the the forty days before his accident.   The forty days of Lent in which he annually–miraculously–managed to straighten out his crooked ways out of devotion to the God of his mother and her mother before her.  The forty days that had kept his wife hoping and praying desperately year after year for a permanent change…for a miracle to save their marriage.

To Phillip, those forty days were his life,  and they would continue to be his life.


Cheap Irish Whiskey


“Why’d you fill my sorrow with the words you borrowed?” mourned the Irish singer as Eric stepped in from the cold city street.  The singer sang with his eyes closed in a revery to misery on the small stage at the end of the long, polished wooden bar–a meticulous and lavish tribute to Irish pub culture.

For a moment, he felt as though he were intruding on a sacred event.  The singer’s passionate outpouring of music and love and sorrow kept his audience rapt.   But thunderous applause and raucous thumping and cheering broke the spell as the song came to a close, ending their set.

“Tank you! Tank you! We’ll be comin’ back after a piss and smoke, so don’t you be going anywhere!”  he said into the mic, and the packed bar settled into a steady rumble of chatter, some streaming out onto the street for a smoke as well.

Eric scanned the bar for a seat, and saw a woman putting on her coat and slinging her purse over her shoulder.  He pushed through the crowd to claim her stool before anyone else spotted it, brushing against warm bodies, through a scented haze of beer and fish and chips.

Got it! But the triumph provided only a glimmer of joy.  He had come searching for a missing piece of himself, hoping to find it in a connection or lose it in a bottle of whiskey.  Seeing nothing but doting couples, armchair basketball coaches, and lonely bastards like him , he started with the whiskey.

The bartenders wore white dress shirts — a white as Jesus fucking Christ’s robes after the goddam transfiguration — with green and black striped school ties, and long aprons.  They tossed bottles and slammed drinks and chatted customers while he perused the whiskey shelf for the perfect drink to start his evening.

A bartender stopped by and raised wiry, grey eyebrows at him.

“I’ll have a double Laphroaig 10 neat. And can you pour it in a single-malt glass?”

He grabbed a small brandy snifter and held it up for Eric to see.

“Closest we got, pal!”  said the old bartender, his voice like the grit on a damp side-street.

Eric glanced down at all the other patrons.  Pilsners, Rocks glasses, tumblers, wine glasses, high-balls, old fashions.

Not wanting to be the dandy with the snifter, he shouted back, “Just pour it in an old fashion.”

The bartender smiled and nodded and reached up for the green bottle with the simple white label and poured out to the brim.

As he set it in front of Eric he raised his eyebrows and said, “Single malt drinker huh? You know they used to sell this Laphroaig stuff as medicine back in the prohibition days,  right?”

Laughing, Eric replied, “Yeah! No one could believe anyone would drink the shit for pleasure…smells like iodine and burnt tar.”

Despite the Friday night rush, the old bartender grabbed a shot glass and poured himself a dram of the same.  Raising it he said, “Cheers!” and the two clinked glasses. The bartender tossed his back and Eric swigged a large gulp of his double.

“I see what they mean,” he said, grimacing. ” I’ll stick with my Chivas, pal!” and he was off.

For a moment, Eric was lost in a reverie of swishing, sniffing and tasting the scotch, dwelling on it’s finer points, then he remembered why he was alone.   Who am I kidding?  Who’s gonna want to be with me.  She sure didn’t. The last place he wanted to be was in an empty apartment.

“Hey, so what’s the deal with that stuff, huh?” came a woman’s voice to his left — surprisingly close.  She nodded at his drink.

“Did you witness that bit of foppery?  Hehe…ummm…yeah.  Sorry about that.  I should just order drinks like a normal guy.  That’s fuckin’ embarrassing.  I just like to pretend that I’m not going to end the evening drunk off my ass on cheap Irish whiskey crying and singing along with O Danny Boy.”

She laughed hard and grinned broadly at him, and he half-smiled back at the petite young lady with punky red hair, mischievous eyes, and soft features.

Her smile and laughter lifted him out of his brooding enough to say, “What are you drinking then, darlin?”

“Cheap Irish whiskey.  No kidding!  The cheapest they got!”

With that, Eric broke into laughter with her, their legs brushing up against each other, his rough edges softening.  He placed one hand on her bare shoulder and motioned to bartender. Still laughing, he held up two fingers and pointed to her glass.   Then he raised his glass of expensive single malt to her glass of sweet Jameson on the rocks and straightened his back for a solid toast.  She followed suit, and they locked eyes.

“To cheap Irish whiskey!  Without which it would cost me a goddamn fortune to get you drunk enough to sing along with me!”

Her smile warmed and her eyes grew soulful in his bold gaze as she clinked her glass to his.

Leaning in to his ear, she said, “I’m Kyra.”

“Eric,” he said, taking in her perfume.

She extended her hand and he took for a moment–so warm and soft, the first feminine warmth he’d felt in a long time. His ex had become so cold–at least to him–in the end.

“So, Kyra, are you here by yourself, too?”

She laughed, the alcohol taking effect, “Uhhhh…interesting story.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Not really.  I got stood up, but I liked the band, so I just decided to stay — ”

“And drown your sorrows in a few of these?” he said, smiling, and grabbing the freshly poured Jameson.

“Yep!” she said, raising her glass again to his.

“What a fucking asshole.”

“What?  Me?” she giggled.

“No! Ha ha!  The guy who stood you up.  I’m lookin’ at you and thinking, this guy either got run over by a truck or he’s fucking crazy.”

Her face turned crimson, she looked down, and asked, “Why is that?”

“Because now that I’ve seen you, I can’t take my eyes off you,  you’re so beautiful.”

Still looking down, she shook her head, “No I’m not.  Don’t say that.”

He couldn’t stand it–a beautiful woman like this who just wasn’t seeing it.  Gently, he touched her face and nudged her chin until she looked him in the eyes again.

“Kyra, listen to me, I don’t lie.  I wouldn’t bullshit you.”

She did not speak.  Shhe steadily returned his piercing gaze and the whole bar around them faded away, and for a moment, Eric found that piece of himself that was missing…in Kyra’s  green eyes.

The band returned and began a new set, a soulful ballad.  “Nothing unusual, nothing strange. Close to nothin at all…” the singer crooned.

Eric grinned and extended his hand to her.  She took it and let him take her in his arms for a dance.

His heart glowed both with the warmth of the whiskey and the warmth of her lovely smile, which never quit–even through the solemn occasion late in the evening when the entire bar joined together in singing “Danny Boy” before the two of them stumbled out onto the cold street together, her on his arm, cheap Irish whiskey on their breath.


Dignity for the Dead


It rained all night. The next morning, Daniel found a dead mole on his front lawn, victim of a flooded home.  The sight of the tiny, lifeless drowning victim both saddened and repulsed him .  A turn of nausea forced him to look away before retrieving a shovel from the garage to tend to it’s burial.

Although the rain had passed, a stiff breeze stirred a small shower of rainwater that had been clinging to the outstretched branches of the large, red oak tree standing overhead, chilling him to the core.  Yet, he endured it with grim stoicism, returning to the place where the mole lay.

He carefully scooped up the corpse along with a little of the dirt and grass just near the small burrow where it was resting.  He offered the smallest prayer of gratitude in the form of a nod and the release of breath he had been holding, and headed for the backyard.   Picking out a spot under his largest tree, he rolled the body off the shovel on to the ground,  dug down about a foot into the damp earth and laid the soil aside.  Using the very tip, he gently rolled the body into the hole, sure to fill and tamp the hole firmly enough that the dogs wouldn’t easily disturb the grave.

Leaning on the shovel, he stood, eyes closed in solemn remembrance of all of the others he had buried over the years .  He thought of their bodies becoming food for this grand tree, and reached out to touch the tree with no small amount of tenderness and gratitude.   Even if he couldn’t yet feel it in his body, he could feel his rapidly approaching death in the mole buried at his feet.

In touching the tree, he had  surrendered his stoicism.  It’s stony wall began to crumble as salty tears slowly filtered into his mouth, and his eyes began to flow with wet, bitter sorrow.   Sorrow, for the the years of his son’s life that he would never see.  Sorrow, for the years that he had hoped to spend with his wife.   Flashes of events he would never see emerged in his mind:  Jacob’s graduation, he and Ashley’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, grandchildren.    He mourned a fatherless child and widowed  woman.  The thought of their pain and loss was unbearable to him as he began to shake with the force of his tears.

With a deep, cleansing breath he ended his weeping.

He returned the shovel to its place on the garage wall, wiped his muddy boots off on the patio doormat, and entered the warmth of his home.  Not wanting to track any of the dirt or rain onto the kitchen floor, he took a moment to pull off his boots and set them by the door to dry.

It was still early on a Saturday, but his son had risen nonetheless to join him at the kitchen table and share a sip of coffee.

Jacob, glancing at his fathers wet boots by the door asked, “So, whatcha been doing?”

Daniel nodded his head with a measure of gravity and sipped his coffee.

“I buried a critter this morning:  a mole.”

Jacob met his father’s gaze with a dignity beyond what a ten-year-old boy should ever need to possess, as he nodded and sipped his own cup of coffee.


Try the Salsa, y’all!


I first noticed her hovering around the breakfast bar while struggling with the pump on the coffee dispenser.   I’ll be honest.  I’m not a fan of chatty food service professionals, and was already struggling to form a game plan to avoid the chit-chat assault that was fast approaching my vicinity. As I reached the juice dispenser I began to glean bits of what I was up against. She wasn’t just chatting, she had an agenda, and it all seemed to center around a bowl of some diminutive form of salsa. It was just a grade above the hot sauce that comes in packets at fast food Mexican restaurants.

I could see a very disturbing pattern forming here. She would step out with an empty tray or cruise the hotel dining area for empty plates, then she’d return to the eggs where she had displayed the salsa very prominently.   She was watching for something. But for what, I was not quite sure. Then, to my horror, the full agenda of Chatty Cathy the Holiday Inn Express breakfast bar professional, was fully revealed when a woman cautiously reached for salsa. Cathy pounced.

“Ooo, I see you’re trying the salsa with your eggs,” she said with perverse enthusiasm, blocking the buffet line.

“Oh, yes, I saw it there and thought That sounds interesting. I’m going to give it a try.”

“I’d never heard of it myself before just a few weeks ago. It just doesn’t seem like it would be gooooood? I don’t usually like real spicy stuuuuuuuff?  But I really got hooked on it…..yewwwwww know…sooooooo…I just went ahead suggested it to the manager myself.”

Myself.

This word really rang out. It hung in the air like a foul odor. I had heard similar words uttered by grocery store baggers, receptionists at doctors’ offices, and interns of any profession … people with big ideas and small positions. This was far worse to me than general chattiness. She meant for me try this salsa. She had a son or a nephew who had visited San Antonio or Santa Fe or El Paso or somewhere in the Southwest and who had spooned Pace Picante sauce on her eggs one visit on Christmas or Thanksgiving or something and she was not going to rest until she had spread the gospel of bad salsa on eggs.

How would I get passed this to get to the sausage and biscuits? How would I reach my fruity yogurt and Corn Pops cereal. Corn Pops for Christ sake! This was not the crappy organic cereal at home. This was FUCKING CORN POPS!!

In the distance I heard the cry of a young child, “Mommy! It burns my mouth!”

No!  I would not make it passed her without salsa somewhere on my plate.

But just as she began to sidle up to me the voice of a savior rang out. It was the voice of authority and reason.

“Carol. Can I see you for a moment?”

Apparently her name was not Chatty Cathy the Salsa Nazi. It was Carol. Carol attempted one parting shot before she stepped away from the egg station.

“Hey. You oughta try the salsa on your eggs.  But juuuuust a little, you know. It’s preeeeeetty spicy. But it gives it just a little kick, you know?”

I stared at her, speechless and terrified. I looked at the eggs. I looked at the salsa. Then looked at the Corn Pops. She was relentless. Merciless. Exuberant. Undeniable.

But the hotel manager was too quick. She touched Carol on the arm and spoke her name once more. She led her out into the hall. The manager spoke in hushed tones. The only piece I  could make out was, “Carol. We’ve talked about this. The answer was no. Corporate was very specific.”

The conversation was over. The manager stepped briskly into the dining area grabbed the bowl of salsa off of its decorative stand, and disappeared through the service door.

Carol stood in the hall, deflated.  I could just make out the words on her lips as she spoke them to the floor. “I thought it was a good idea. I liked the salsa.”

My heart sank. It was just salsa after all. Did it really hurt to set some salsa out by the eggs? Some people like salsa on there eggs. Even bad salsa.

“Ma’am?” I said to the manager as she reappeared through the service door. “Do you have any salsa? I’d like some with my eggs.”

The manager returned with the salsa. Her face and ears were flush and her smile was forced.  I’d duped her, and she knew it. She glared at Carol who was sauntering up to the egg station, revived and triumphant.

“Mmmmm. Ain’t them salsa and eggs good?”


Deeper Hunger


DISCLAIMER:  The following contains scenes of a graphic nature. Consider yourself warned.

The woods were still thick with the stench of his cruelty, as he stalked his next victim.  She walked alone.  It was as if she…wanted to be found.

Too easy.

This time, his appetite for human flesh far exceeded his need for mere sustenance.

With the stealth only a predator such as he possessed, he tracked her path, sometimes behind, sometimes ahead…sometimes just a few steps beside.   With razor sharp senses, he slowly pieced together a thorough knowledge of her; touching every part of her with his cold canine eyes, and breathing  in the essence of his prey.   Nostrils flared, he drank in the perfume of her fresh womanhood, igniting his baser instincts.   He bared his deadly fangs as hot saliva began to drip from his mouth.   She poured into him, and like fresh blood from a kill, intoxicated his mind and body so that he was enslaved with hunger for her flesh.

No!  Not this way!

With all the remaining  power of his still potent mind, he cooled his instincts, easing the cursed grip that had so ferociously choked out nearly all semblance of humanity from his beastly form.  He ached for more in her than just another hot meal.   He ached–and hungered now–for her beauty, knowing that he may never know beauty in the world again.    And he wanted to be more to her than her death.  He wanted to be her entire world before the end; her awakening, her ecstasy, her love, her life, her agony, and ultimately, her death.

Then she stopped in her tracks, neither turning nor trembling.  She let him approach her.

“And where are you going, little girl?” breathed the wolf onto the hood of her crimson red cape.

Still not turning, breathing shallow and quick, she said, “I’m looking for my lover.”

“You needn’t search any longer.  Your lover is dead,”  he growled.

Still she stood with her back to him.

“And you’re not afraid, my lady?”

“Yes!” she gasped, chest heaving.  “Yes, I’m afraid.”

Again, he drank her in, deeply, searching her thoughts and feelings.

“As well you should be, little girl.  Do you know who I am?”  he crooned.

“Yes! Yes,” she replied, her words catching on her breath.  “I know who you are. ”

His croon grew into a low growl.  “And yet you stand before me…alone…in the woods.”

Cunning girl.  She fears me, yes, but why doesn’t she run?

So close now that the lingering death on his breath caressed her fair cheek,  and she shuddered…or trembled.  He would gain full power over her flesh before it was over.

Come, my child,” he breathed, “come with me to where the fragrance of flowers will adorn your beauty.”

And then she turned to face him.  She beheld his beastly form with both fear and awe, and….

And what’s this?  What’s this I see in beauty’s eye?

Never had he stood face to face with his prey.  Never had he looked into the eyes of his victim and seen anything but mortal terror.

How dare she behold me in such a way!

Exploding in a thrust of carnal rage, he seized her and tore through the wilderness to the bed of flowers that awaited his feasting in the silvery meadow.  The moonlight poured onto the vile scene of the beast throwing his prey down onto the damp earth as he raised his inhuman snout to the source of his power–the mistress of his curse–and cut the night with his wild howls.

She lay before him, still gazing directly into the eyes of certain death, further enraging him.  His lips curled over his murderous teeth as he snarled and pounced.  With three swipes of his merciless claws he shredded her clothes from her body leaving her naked and oozing with crimson, writhing in agony.

With all of her remaining strength, she raised her face once again to meet his eyes, now even more boldly than before.

“YES!  WOLF!”  she screamed.  “YES!!!”

She taunts me?!!!!

As her life slowly drained from her body, he plunged himself between her legs with violent power.  He commanded her flesh.  Her screams penetrated his beastly heart.  He intoxicated himself with the aroma of her terror and ecstasy as he tore into her, devouring her, piercing her,  destroying her.  Her body spasmed as his saliva dripped into her wounds.  He snorted and growled and howled, caught in the throes of his hunger for both flesh and beauty.

After his final, terrible thrust, she lay beneath him, nearly lifeless.  Silence fell upon the meadow.  Moonlight bathed her limp body lighting what few patches of milky white remained unstained by blood as she groaned and gasped for life and for death.

“I am yours, ” she breathed.  “I am yours.  I found you.  Oh my love, I found you.”

With her final breath, the words remained formed on her lips.

And so she had.  She had found him there in the woods.  She had been searching for him.

And now she lay dead before him.  In horror, he sensed the last shred of his humanity well up in his pounding heart.

Hunched over her, he beheld the faint remnant of her beauty, and read the final words on her lifeless lips.   With a rush of anguish and pain he again split the air with his howls.  But instead of screams of violence, he raised a new song for all the forest to hear.  He howled a long, mournful cry, and something deep in him began to quake and throb.  Something deep and aching and ancient and beautiful.  His howls echoed through the lonely woods…

and he wept.

He wept for his lost love.  In that moment, the object of his beastly desires had become the object of his human love.

His tears mingled with her blood, washing it slowly away from her pale body before he collapsed into a deep sleep among the fragrance of flowers and death, dreaming far into his murky past, before curses and murder to a time when beauty reigned in his life.

He awoke to the long forgotten sensation of flesh on his own human flesh.

Where is cursedness? The thought grew brighter in his dim mind.  Where is cursedness?  And what is this?

He awoke to beauty.

“Beauty,” he croaked. “What happened to us?”

And she spoke.

“I found you.”


Growl and Thump


Lingering summer heat drifted in through my open window as I traced another drop of cold water on my bare belly.   I knew she would be going out soon.  She always got to stay out late on Friday nights while I, little sis, was stuck at home waiting for my high school days to begin.  Lucky her, senior class of ’81, and then she’d be out of this do-nothing, know-nothing town.

As I dipped my finger into a glass of ice water for another cool touch,  the approaching rumble of what might have been a lion or some other vicious, wild beast seized me and a thrill raced through my body.   It growled and roared and thumped and screeched, growing louder as it approached.

I sat up in bed and looked out of the window just in time to see its eyes throwing light onto the dark street as  it stopped in front of our little house on Cherry Creek Lane.   I could feel the pulse of its music deep in my body.  My heart and breathing quickened as the engine of the shining, black van idled down into a low growl, punctuated by powerful, roaring, thrusts from the driver’s foot.   Concealed by tinted windows and a moonless night, he pushed the passenger side door open, letting the full range of the song cut like a jagged knife into the night air.

Aaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaa-aaaah!  Aaaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaaaa!” screamed the singer, his voice running icy fingers up my spine.   I closed my eyes to savor the full impact of its menacing touch in me.

Cuz I’m back in black!

I’m BACK

IN

BLACK!”

In an instant, the front door of the house slammed shut, and my sister  climbed into the black beast…engine roaring, tires screeching, door slamming as she laughed and cheered it on.  Then she was gone once again.  I listened intently as the beat of the music and the groan of the engine faded,  dissolving gradually into the August night air.

By the time she rolled back home,  I would be asleep.

I wasn’t supposed to know that song.  I wasn’t supposed to be listening to that kind of music yet, but still I  snuck into my sister’s room every Friday night just as I would tonight.  Plugging in her big, studio headphones, I dropped the needle and laid back onto her bed, and as the guitar tore into my mind, I felt something begin to ache inside of  me, something growing and throbbing and pounding.   It ignited a hunger deep inside me that I didn’t know how to satisfy.   I listened to the record over and over again, tracing the outline of my emerging hips as Brian Johnson’s vocals ripped into me, claiming a little piece of my soul.


This Old Town


At what point is a town not the same town it used to be?  Is it when the Super Walmart shows up?  Is it when the local restaurants give way to fast food chains lined up by the interstate like guests at a party who act like they own the place.   Or is it when all the people you used to know have either left or changed beyond any hope of recognition?

No, my feet say no, this is the same town.  This is the same street  I use to walk down from my little church house to the corner market for candy and a Coke.  My ears hear the same cry of the blue jay and high song of the park swing.  The smell of the pine and cedar still rest on the same breeze and rise to the same steeple of the old church that I called my home.   And I knew that when it rained on a warm sidewalk, that the fragrance of rainwater and concrete still rose to meet the smiling faces of bare-footed children exploring the puddled terrain.

And maybe the events of the past that formed this town had fallen out of the memories of its inhabitants, but the pain still flowed through there veins, knit into the fabric of their beings.   This town would always bear the curse of its past.  The bitter would always be mixed with whatever sweet was to be found among the big houses that still stood at the center of this old plantation town where the bare feet of an enslaved race toiled and suffered and blistered and bled.

If you looked deep enough into any open eyes, you could still see it.  If you walked to the east of the old park, you could  still see the deep division of color.   You can still meet folks who remember what this part of town used to be called and was still called behind the closed doors of the big houses.    I can still remember the warnings of the old schoolteacher who’s grandson I used to play with, “Don’t you boys be riding your bikes over there in N—-r Town.  There ain’t nothin’ over there for you.”  The same teacher who stood with us, white children and black children, and led us in the Pledge of the Allegiance and the 23rd Psalm.   The same teacher who used to paddle our little first grade bottoms for speaking out of turn, who’s mother and grandmother did the same, and who’s grandfather used to hold a whip, was teaching us to say

The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

And I can still say it, and so can all of the children she taught, no matter which side of the park they lived,  even while her body rests in the family cemetery along with the forgotten memories of this old town that will always be the same no matter how it may change.